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Seeing Double


Quite excited about this one...

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Well-thumbed posts

"Nighted"...an Evening of Lovecraftian Role Playing

I have a talented friend named Ash who, as a game master, is a big proponent of incorporating life-sized props and some evocative theatricality into the role playing games she creates. 

Last year we played in a scenario Ash concocted titled "Nighted" that I think used a simplified version of the Call of Cthulhu role playing game as the undergirding rules. She made a special GM screen that was adorned on the player side with pictures of the house and grounds we were exploring in the game. She prepared a slew of photographs to be handed out, as well as props like scrolls that got progressively more legible the more sanity we were willing to sacrifice in scrutinizing them. There were actual copies of books by the likes of Nietzsche with annotations and marginalia that offered clues. The lights in the room were connected to a remote control so that she could instantly dim them if certain events happened while exploring the game's house. 




The players all had to wear masks Ash h…

Water Terrain: Cheap and Easy

For a while now I've been contemplating a variety of ways of creating a large body of water on which to play out scenarios with miniatures. I can imagine scattering some islands about and having players sailing out to explore them, not too dissimilar from the games Steve Braun likes to put together for cons (see my recaps for Historicon 2017 and Barrage 2018). Part of my dilemma has been that my dining room table is narrow and long (3'x8'), which does not lend itself to investing in a heavy pre-printed mat that's going to awkwardly hang over the table's edges.

About a year ago I bought a dark blue tablecloth and some paints with the intent of trying to make an ocean/sea mat myself but timidity about my ability to pull that off pushed other projects ahead of it in the queue. In the meantime, I came across some nautical-themed plastic disposable party tablecloths on Amazon (here, while the link lasts). When they arrived a couple of months ago, they were a bit thinne…

Fall In! 2017 Convention Report

I think I have caught the bug.

Thankfully not the notorious Con Crud (though last September I did fall prey to a virulent strain immediately after exhibiting with my Lost Art Books at the Small Press Expo). And, no, not the Rockin' Pneumonia, either...I seemed to have been cured of that back in 2007 when my last band, The Spontanes, gave up the ghost.

Nope...all of the the symptoms—a growing pile of lead pieces in the shape of fantasy archetypes, subscriptions to YouTube channels dedicated to "terrain crafting," saved eBay search terms such as "oldhammer" and "28mm"—point to a chronic case of the dreaded Miniatures Mania. Perusing the online message boards suggests a grim prognosis for the afflicted: An obsessive preoccupation with "scale creep" and an over-sensitivity to miniatures basing techniques.

Given this diagnosis, it should come as no surprise then that after never having attended a gaming convention in my 47 years, I have now experien…

All Together Now: 'Sellswords & Spellslingers' and the Pleasures of Cooperative Gaming

I've always enjoyed a good competitive match as much as the next guy, whether it was sports in high school or video games (HALO, etc.) in my thirties. But regardless of the game, I've always been partial to team play, and the best cooperative games put all of the focus on succeeding as a team. That's one of the reasons I was enthusiastic about getting Andrea Sfiligoi's latest release, Sellswords & Spellslingers (Ganesha Games), on the table for this month's Second Saturday Scrum Club gathering.

Last year I had organized a Halloween game (recap) to beta-test Sfiligoi's Run From the Dead, which is built atop the same cooperative mechanics as Sellswords. I was surprised when I discovered these rules were re-skinned for the fantasy genre and released last December ahead of Run From the Dead. Hopefully, the zombie apocalypse version of the rules is not too far behind because I definitely think Run From the Dead is the best tabletop miniatures rule set I've …

Ballads of Dungeon Delving

After discovering and playing a few games of the tabletop skirmish rules Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes in 2016, I developed an itch to play in a "dungeon" setting, like I did so many times in my youth with Dungeons & Dragons. I had tried to scratch this itch with some dungeon-themed board games, but none of them were as fun or satisfying as the tabletop miniatures games I had recently discovered. So I spent months reading through other miniatures rule sets that attempted to bring the basics of wargaming to such a setting, but most were either too simplistic and reminded me of board games, or they required one person to act as a game master while the other players had the fun of clearing out a dungeon. Most of them also failed to meaningfully capture the experience of dungeon exploration, and tended to have rote mechanics for generic encounters. Even Songs' own dungeon delving supplement only got the system part way to where I wanted to end up. 
What I realized I …

D&D Against M.D.

Back in 1985, I was pretty excited when this dot-matrix printed letter arrived in the mail addressed to me. I was 15, and I had probably attended three such tournaments by this point. I'm sure I called and registered immediately. The Tin Soldier was the only dedicated hobby and game store in Dayton in the late '70s and mid-1980s; it was in a pretty distant southern suburb from where I lived, and we rarely found a reason to go to that part of town. These tournaments were an exception, though, and my dad would drive me and my best pals down to the Tin Soldier to play in them, where we got to experience players and Dungeon Masters with wholly different styles and approaches, and then usually parted with some allowance money to pick up a cool new 20-sider or a couple of Ral Partha minis selected carefully from the hundreds hanging from the hooks on the shop's walls. The master of ceremonies at these events was a local TV celebrity (remember those?) named Doctor Creep, who hos…