Serenity RPG – Part One

by paet the pagan-gerbil26. April 2014 08:00

Our group is taking a break from the ‘Four Islands’ RuneQuest game, and a new GM is trying out a new system – the Firefly RPG. The other players had created characters the previous week, and the ones that turned up on the first ‘real’ session were: Dave Cocknocker, a fightin’ sort; Hammy, a slightly weird type; Bacon, a decent pilot (good friends with Hammy – both grew up on Persephone); and a cleric whose name escapes me.

I rushed through my character creation since I’d been warned it can take a while. I asked what characters they had and what they needed – we had a medic and engineer on top of the ones above, but those players weren’t there. The one thing that no-one had taken was the leader, the captain. So I slipped into that one and grabbed a quick but focussed build – I’m fair with guns (specialising in the exotic energy weapons), but not a fighter. I put many points into Influence – both Leadership and Persuasion, with high Intelligence and Willpower.

As my Assets, I chose Leadership (I can give people a bonus if they are working towards my stated goal) and Steady Calm (should come in handy to maintain control in a panic situation) – both minor. I was given two minor complications – Traumatic Flashes (I may lose control while I relive a terrifying memory) and Greedy (mo’ money, yo).

Since I was greedy, I put a few points into Gambling – if I ever get the chance to play Poker, then a high Persuasion (for bluffing) and a good Gambling should give me a fair shake.

So without further ado (or the time to think up a decent name – I’ve gone with ‘Not Mal’ and the nickname ‘Sir’), we began our first session!

Our crew was meeting for the first time on Persephone. They had met on a Cortex hub (OKCrewpid) and some of us had bought shares in a ship – a Firefly class vessel with nice sensors and a full tank o’ fuel. There’s enough fuel for 16 days flying and food for a month. A box had been delivered to the ship – inside was a lady cleric. Dave and Hammy had no immediately obvious skills, so I expect them to pay their way at some point and in the meantime to do the heavy lifting tasks.

Introductions out of the way, we checked the local Cortex for available jobs. There’s only one worth our time – a chap called Randall Lee wants a box delivered to Londinium (an Alliance world near the core), for 50K credits. Bacon stayed with the ship while Dave and I headed to meet Mr Lee and try to find out more about the job.

The box is 6ftx4ftx4ft, approximately 90kg, wooden, no special transport requirements, and a ‘no-open’ clause (payment is reduced to 25% if it’s opened). Sounds very much like it contains a small human.

Being a jolly persuasive fellow, and Mr Lee having extremely low Willpower, the terms of the job were renegotiated. 56K for delivery, 50% if it’s opened, and 30K bonus if we make it in 5 days (Bacon had plotted a course that would take 4 days).

When the ‘negotiators’ got back to the ship, they found that the Alliance had sent some ‘blue-hands’ over to inspect it and to advise the crew that there were pirates operating between Persephone and Londinium. They left without incident when the crate arrived, along with all the papers that we’d need for passage and landing and so on.

Despite dire warnings, we actually made it to Londinium without meeting any pirates. We did salvage a small crate of high-grade protein foods which should be good for some cash out on the rim worlds. We also landed on time without any problems, delivered the crate to the Alliance Security centre and got paid. We were not allowed back to the ship though, and everyone had to follow the guards and goons (of which there were dozens and dozens!) to a small office. After a short while, we were released back to the ship.

As we approached the ship, we spotted a guard leaving our ship on his own. Since there were no other guards around, we ‘coerced’ him back onto the ship once Hammy had told us that he wasn’t really a guard, and was trying to rob us (though just opportunistically, not targeting us specifically). And so we had a prisoner! Stripped naked and interrogated, we intended to turn him in for a meagre bounty when we got back to Persephone. However, he suggested we decided to keep him on board (tied up in the airlock) when he tipped us off that we’d been double-crossed and our payment had vanished!

We immediately suspected Randall Lee of doing something dodgy, so devised a plan to get our money back. He was well known as a gambler and mule-racer (the little quad-bike, not the donkey thing) so we challenged him anonymously to a race. While preparing for the race we realised that he was unguarded in the shed with his winning Mule, so we dropped a Stun grenade through the window and kidnapped him, and stole the Mule.

As is our standard procedure when interrogating prisoners, we stripped him naked and put him in the airlock (our other prisoner was cuffed to a table in a shuttle, out of the way) and interrogated him while Bacon put us in orbit around Persephone.

It turns out that even though we robbed the poor sod blind (I have a new hat and laser pistol, as well as the contents of his wallet) he had also been double-crossed by Ton Ting, the Pirate King, who had given him the job (that he farmed out to us) in the first place. We had to take on the Pirate King to get our cash back.

Ton Ting’s base (or lair, if you will) is on an abandoned asteroid mining station between Persephone and Londinium (hence all the pirate raids). We took the ship in close (but hidden), and flew a shuttle off to the asteroid. We landed in secret, thanks to our cleric’s covert operations training, and undetected by the guards nearby.

And so we wait for the next session to assault the Pirate king base…

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The Four Islands: Part Four

by paet the pagan-gerbil12. April 2014 08:00

When last we met, the party were sailing away from Ogre-land to rescue the captive boy-king Uther of the Bretons from Drow/Drannei.

Shortly after setting off, Captain Rengrave changed our course away from the Drannei ships towards the island of Sanctuary to get some help from the wise man there (who may or may not be a wizard, magic being illegal nudge-nudge wink-wink). He couldn’t join us as he sort of stole a sword from the wise man; we discovered later that this sword belongs to the King of the Bretons and that Rengrave had given it to Uther. So it’s not completely stealing.

The Island of Sanctuary is full of hippies who don’t enforce rules as stringently as other nations and this makes it a prime location for pirates (like our dwarf Ungrud) to visit and trade. That being said, it’s not a thriving metropolis or a bustling port or any other cliché, instead it’s a rather sleepy little village.

The wise man told us that the Drow had probably taken the boy because the Island of Lost Time can only be entered by a prince or king of virtue and that being only 12, Uther was probably virtuous enough. First, he would be taken to the Drow capital in order for them to ascertain his virtue. What they want with the Island of Lost Time is a complete mystery, and we were referred to the one person who claimed to have been there – an ex-associate of Ungrud, to whom Ungrud owed about two ships-worth of gold. Ungrud declined to join us in our interrogations. We were also left with a couple of zen statements – “when there is no time, there is always time” and the like.

In the pub, we found our adventuring dwarf who was only too happy to give up information. Apparently, the island appeared frozen in movement. Clouds moved overhead but no wind was felt, branches on trees did not shift and nothing moved on it’s own. No sounds. At night, the dead moved and watched him, with lips sewn shut, accompanied by faceless beings. He believes that they didn’t attack because of an amulet that he had, and freely gave to us (mentioning that wearing it felt like it took part of his essence). We left the amulet in our bags and headed back to the ships.

The only place to land on the Drow island was a place called Safe Landing. It had a temple on stilts that looked like a boat, dedicated (so a plaque said) to ‘The Only God’. Not a good sign to people with as varied a pantheon as us. We followed the river to the capital, and en route were ambushed by ten camel riders. We hunkered behind our horses, and defended ourselves well (while trying to retrieve my war boomerang, I ended up leading two riders on a jolly chase where one fumbled and threw themselves to the ground to be trampled later) while the dwarfs and single human cut down the remainder.

As we looted the bodies, the sun set rapidly. We set a watch and a camp, and used looted blankets to keep warm in the cold desert night. During the night, we were awoken by a crowd of people who could apparently see in the darkness. We were invited to their camp for the night, guided by a ‘skrillfex’ – a fox that they call their ‘day guide’. After a nice sleep in a comfortable yurt we did some investigating. The yurt was being guarded by two blindfolded men, and we learned about this tribe from a foreign mercenary called Tankred. He explained that these are the night people, and they never take their blindfolds off in the day. They are not fans of the Drannei, but would not help us recover the boy. Instead he directed us South, over the river, to a temple where we might find help.

The temple was a large, magnificent structure with domes and minarets, and many pillars all made of marble. Inside, the floor was covered in sand and as we walked across it, a small dervish whirled up in front of us and formed into a Djinn, who attacked. We defeated the Djinn and were greeted by the priestess of the temple who informed us that we had ‘passed the test’.

We were given a guide to aid us, who had taken a vow of silence – but seemed to have a pad of paper, so that wasn’t too bad. On our way through an abandoned and partially buried village, we took shelter from a sandstorm for the night. During that night, I had an odd dream… I woke up in the room as it would have appeared long before, when it was populated. I looked in a mirror, but the reflection was gone. Out of the window, I saw a beautiful city filled with life. A woman came into the room and started pouring water, and said “Find us” – but did not interact with me, or show any sign that she knew I was there.

Outside of the building, I tried to get breakfast from a market seller but my hands went through everything and he didn’t seem to know I was there. I headed to the nearest baths, and there saw Neptune. As a devout worshipper of the sea god (makes sense for a sailor), I genuflected and kneeled before him. He told me to bring time back to this place – time was taken, and time has to be brought back. It appears to be a spear with an hourglass scribed on the point.

Waking up, I explained the whole thing and am filled with a holy purpose. It’s not every day that one’s god gives them a mission personally! Our guide showed us an underground cavern filled with granite statues that looked exactly like the people I had seen in the dream. There were also hundreds of soldiers, all in granite. Our guide asked us (through passed notes) if we felt older (apparently, we did), and that we should leave immediately.

Resuming our journey to the capital to get the boy (who can go to the Island of Lost Time, being a prince of virtue, where we think we can find the spear), we are ambushed by desert warriors. Ungrud wandered off towards a mirage, I was trapped by bolas, the Ogre merchant fell into a ditch and our rigger was almost attacked by a bandit… who fumbled, and stayed underground, apparently. It took us a while to take them all out, one even continuing to fight after losing a leg (completely chopped off, fell on the floor, bleeding heavily, etc etc).

I’ll finish this off with a guest recap from one of our party, an elf (not me) that has unfortunately missed most of our sessions – may not have turned up since before we got to the Ogre capital!

Here we go!

Our intrepid heroes wandered the desert for many days, looking for a way out. They were tired and hungry and more than a little bit mad when they came across a strange sight indeed.
Sat before them, atop a small mound of rock, topped with the symbol of th e god of time, was a fat, bald man, who looked to be in his twenties. Around him were similar mounds of rock, each with a different holy symbol above it. In front of the man were bowls containing assorted nibbles. Some of the nibbles had been nibbled.
"Who are you?" Asked an adventurer.
The bald man replied; "I am... actually, I can't remember my name."
“Deckard Cain… that’s  a name…”  Mused one of the adventurers.
“What?”
“Oh, nothing…”
The  heroes turned back to the bald man.  "Why are you here?" Asked  one, curious.
"In my youth, I murdered a man for sleeping with my wife, and then I murdered my wife for being unfaithful. Now I seek atonement from my god." Answered the bald man.
"How long have you been here?" Asked a third adventurer.
"Enough with the questions! If  you must know, it's been 100 years, 10 months and 11 days... do you want the minutes?"
"No, no..! 100 years? Bloody hell, mate, you look good for your age."
"Yeah, well, my people are immortal, you see, on account of them worshipping time and all that."
"That's pretty cool. From whence do you hail, oh bald man?" Asked a forth adventurer.
The bald man looked at him wearily, clearly tired of this incessant questioning. "I'm from Niceass. It's a lovely city in the desert." His eyes glazed over as he recall ed his home town with longing.
The adventurers looked at each-other, in uncertainty. One piped up, "Er... bald man..?"
"What is it?" Snapped the bald man, "I'm not used to visitors, y'know. I do hope you'll all bugger off soon, so I can enjoy the afterno on sun in peace."
"Well it's just... You see..."
"Out with it, man! I don't have all day, you know! This atonement business is busy work!"
"You might as well just tell him," said another adventurer.
"Look. Your town's dead. Everyone is dead. Niceass is a dead town. It's been dead for ages. Dead."
The bald man sat in shocked silence for a few minutes.
"Way to break it to him gently..." One of the adventurers muttered. 
There was some shifting of feet.
"Right. Well... Bugger."
[Later that day, the group stands once again before the bald man with no name.]
"Well he clearly gets his food from somewhere..."
"Yeah, a bunch of dark elves drop it off every week." Chipped in the bald man, munching a mushy banaramitz.
"Right, so we j ust wait here for a bit. Follow the elves back... get the girl and hightail it out of there."
"Boy,"  came a voice from the back.
"What?"
"Boy. Get the boy and hightail it out of there."
"Since when has any story been about rescuing a boy?"
"Look, I don't write them, okay? I'm just here, in the desert, with a pocket full of mouldy bananaramitz and sunburn, just like the rest of you."
"Mouldy banan... you've still got your bananaramitz??"
"Yeah..!"
"Damn... I wondered what that stink was..."
Most of the group of adventurers, as one, step away from one of their members, who looked a bit redder.
[Later still, a small band of dark elves appears on the horizon...]
"They're here, look busy!"
The adventurers scurry around. One of them tries to hid e behind a small pebble, before following the others to sit atop one of the remaining piles of stones.
[The dark elves come...
The dark elves leave...
The group follows the dark elves... ]
As they thought, the   dark  elves travelled back to their city in the desert. It was a monstrous place, with high walls and a closed gate.  In the shadow of the wall sat a slum – a ramshackle place of lean-to houses and mud. As the group entered, they were assessed and the two elves were inked with a “B”  for “Breeding Stock”. There was much jesting, and the  human was  much put out at the fact the ugly elf was marked for breeding, yet he was not. 
During the night, it was established that breeding  might not  necessarily  be a good thing…  The group hatched a plan that involved sneaking out of the cam p and through a secret entrance in the wall. Their  guide had got them this far and was sure he could get them into the city.
Sadly, the best laid plans  sometimes fail, and this one  wasn’t  one of the best. As the group snuck out of the camp, one of their members tripped over and  was spotted by a lookout.  Before he could try and talk his way out of trouble ,  one of  the other heroes tried to slit  the throat of the lookout, but only scratched his neck. The lookout screamed out in pain and woke several others. With the camp
heating up, the group ran for it, almost leaving behind the unfortunate adventurer with the blunt knife.
And so we leave our adventurers, having entered the city and headed towards the temple in the centre. Will they find the boy  they seek there?  What of all the female elves in the city – perhaps our men wish not to leave after all  (*wink wink*) ? Will they meet the queen of the dark elves herself?
Find out next episode…  maybe…

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Bristol Megalofunotron Tournament Review

by paet the pagan-gerbil30. March 2014 09:00

This was another local tournament, like the Bristol Blitz last year. It would be nice to bring every different team to a tournament at some point, to get proper use out of all of them, and given that I’ve been using Zees a lot this year (especially in the Cardiff League) it would be a good chance to get those out for a bit.

The tournament has a slightly different format to the traditional tournaments we’ve been to, and instead of just being four plain identical exhibition matches this was more of a surrogate league – each game is an exhibition match with more credits, and the team you use each game is based on the team you had in the previous game. Unlike a league, any rank increases are rolled at the beginning of each game, and deaths are ignored (instant, free resurrection between games).

In addition, it’s a five-game tournament and the final game was an Ultimate multiplayer game.

Game 1 – Andy’s S2 Corporation (4pt win)

Andy was great fun to play against – I got a good six-point lead early on but he refused to let me get the landslide. We made it through to the end of the game, where I got a final point to put me on four and with the three-point strike hex blocked up with two on the bonus lane, it was going to be impossible for the Corporation to score a win. This is one of the games that I expected to be the hardest, since the Zees had the fewest upgrades. The Monkey Business dice didn’t favour me much, but the Offensive coach was very useful.

He did kill a monkey though.

Late in the game, and the score is in my favour

Game 2 – Rob’s Asterians (7pt landslide loss)

The Asterian Dirty Tricks and Dive-Taking failed to do too much to the monkeys, as expected. Rob played well and blocked the three-point strike hex from me, and with their 3+ Speed there was nothing I could do to open it up. Like the last times I played Asterians (at the Charity Open Day and 2013 Nationals), I was permanently on the back foot trying to slow down what seemed like an inevitable loss. I managed to hold off until turn 12, which is pretty good for a Skill 5+ Jack team against one with Skill 3+ Strikers.

The neon-green Asterians kept falling over!

The best moment of this loss was pointing out that he hadn’t called any fouls all game, and I’d had ten models on the pitch uncontested for almost the entire game. It clearly didn’t help me, but it was rewarding nonetheless. On the flipside, I didn’t notice that he’d had 7 players on the pitch for at least half of the game himself.

Game 3 – Cai’s Teratons (3pt win)

Cai was a sharp player, he knew how to use the Teratons to best effect and made it difficult for me to pick up the ball by applying threat hexes to it. At one point, I played the Ball Shatters card to my own player because he wouldn’t be able to safely Evade out of two threat hexes. When relaunched, the ball landed in the only spot with two threat hexes on it, so it didn’t really help me at all. He called foul almost every one of my actions, but found it difficult to kill off the monkeys quickly enough to stop them scoring.

Game 4 – Josh’s Robots (7pt landslide win)

I wasn’t too sure how I would end up doing against the Robots, and Josh didn’t know about the Zees. I managed to kill a Robot Guard by slamming them in the back (with plenty of threat hex support, obviously) and in my final turn, took a one-dice 4+ chance at a 4pt Strike to get the landslide… and got it.

I don’t think Josh is used to someone fouling against him, and I feel a little bad about fouling, but the Zees require the foul to be able to do anything. Still, he called more fouls than Rob did and got a few monkeys sent off – just not enough.

Coach Ronnie points at the rush tracker and casts an impressive shadow

Josh had a great, simple paint scheme for his robots – white undercoat with a coloured wash for position. One of the big problems with robots is determining player role, since they are all so similar, but this made it so easy for me to tell what was a Jack, a Striker or a Guard.

Game 5 – ULTIMATE!

The Ultimate game involved Andy, Rob and Josh from my previous games, as well as a Nameless team and an S1 Corporation team (Tom, who I’ve played in previous tournaments) to make a full six players.

Clockwise, from the Zees - Josh (Robots), Tom (S1 Corp), Andy (S2 Corp), Rob (Asterians), Curtis (Nameless).

I called Defensive plays for the first couple of turns, but didn’t need the dice and didn’t get much done in those turns. I’m not sure whether it was subsequently calling Offensive plays or just having more Zees on the pitch closer to the action that did the trick but I started scoring again. At one point, I was tied for first place with Tom’s Corporation and Rob’s Asterians but Tom scored an extra couple of points on me to pull himself ahead and push me down to third place when the time ran out and we ended the game.

I think I liked this game more than the others in the day – I even managed to pull a couple of nasty surprises on people (Running Interference cards!) and took a Nameless Hard Guard off for three turns thanks to many threat hexes and a slam in the back (with a few unused Monkey Business dice).

The Zees have left the subs bench... can you spot them all?

Conclusion

Overall, Jen and I did pretty well – she won her Ultimate game by a landslide, and we were both tied on tournament points with Tom (who won our Ultimate game). Taking into account strike difference, Tom came in second, I was third and Jen was fourth. I think that’s a brilliant turnout for the Zees. I think it was even better for Jen, who had misunderstood the format and was reducing her tournament bonus each game, instead of adding it on, and effectively was being outranked by her opponents in games two and three. I think – although I’d need the complete results to be sure – that if the Ultimate game hadn’t happened I would have been in second place.

The overall winner was Rob Taylor with his Asterians – I’m definitely going to have to arrange some practice games against them, since they are the team I do the worst against.

The aim of the ‘league-ish’ format was to encourage other teams to come who are perceived as needing a bit more development to be competitive – teams like the Zees, the Robots and Z’zor. I think it definitely helped the Zees to be able to spend more than 20mc since they need an Offensive coach to really push for the big scores but 5+ Skill (and unpredictable coaching dice) is even more crippling for them than it is for the Veer-myn. On the other hand, every other team had the same number of upgrades as I did so it was still a set of four balanced matches.

I like the different format, it kept things interesting and I was really pleased to have done so well with the Zees. I hope that other people will take them in the future, since I have not yet played against them – I think they’d be an interesting challenge. It was also very good to have two full Ultimate games – no dead Strike zones – with all the chaos that entails. I’d like to play another tournament in this format one day, but it’s quite tiring – four hour games and a two-hour Ultimate game to cap it off is a gruelling schedule.

The giveaway for this tournament was a set of custom acrylic tokens with a Bristol Vanguard logo on them (a Banksy bear throwing a dice) – Jen and I picked blue and red to supplement the green Kickstarter ones we already have.

I choose to believe that the shade of blue was deliberately chosen to be as close to 'Bristol Blue' glass as possible.

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DreadBall Nationals 2013

by paet the pagan-gerbil16. March 2014 08:00

Planning

After my disappointment that they had not gone ahead in November, and then the slight irk as I felt they had been replaced by the Ultimate game I passed on at the Charity Open Day, I was understandably thrilled when the Nationals were announced, postponed, for March 9th.

Not the most convenient day, as it means travelling across the country and arriving home quite late on a Sunday, but there was no way that I could miss this one. I got my ‘crew’ together – Oli’s S2 Corporation (borrowing our Steelbridge Emperors again) and Jen’s S1 Corporation (our Starport Starlets, as usual) and that left me to decide how to go ahead.

What with one thing and another, there’s been no time to practice or paint. I wanted to stand a chance at winning so that left either Judwan or Veer-myn, two teams I felt that I could do quite strongly with and were already painted to at least a playable standard.

There was some sense to bringing the Veer-myn, as that’s what got me there in the first place. On the other hand, they didn’t really rampage quite as well at the Open Day as they had at the Welsh Regional tournament, and maybe I needed a little more skill (hence the Judwan).Jen and Oli practice while I try to decide which team to bring.

The other consideration was whether or not it would be immodest to bring the metal pitch I won in that Regional, especially since with the extreme lack of practice (I think I had two or three games since Christmas, including teaching new players) I was not confident in being able to think my way out of any problems.

The Day

After all that to-ing and fro-ing, I ended up with the Veer-myn. I’d packed both, just in case, but if someone clogged up the three point strike zone, the Judwan would never be able to get the points needed to come back.

The perfect place to pray for 6s...

The venue was amazing. I thought it was being held in a church hall, it was actually in an abandoned church. It fits the purpose of a gaming hall perfectly, with plenty of space but was very cold. I imagine this will be sorted in time, but they’ve only been open since October after the church was empty for 12 (or 20?) years. It’ll be nice to see what it’s like in the summer. A nice bonus was lunch included in the ticket price, I like this as it keeps everyone together rather than spreading out and keeps the cost of the day down for everyone.

Game One – Shaun Riley’s Triple Rs (S1 Corporation)

Shaun was a great player, I had a really fun game here. He also had a special wipe-clean mat with spaces for coaches, spent action tokens, cheerleaders, etc and he could write notes on them for every game and wipe it off when it was no longer needed. It’s a really good idea and I’ll see if he’s put it on the DreadBall Fanatics Facebook group.

Shaun was playing his Corporation aggressively, and did a good job defending his strike zones. We hovered both sides of the 0-point mark all game but in the last rush, it was one point in his favour. The Veer-myn had completely failed practically every Evade test that they had to take. I normally risk one or two without thinking because a three-dice 3+ test is almost a certainty.

So I was off to a bad start, but it was the best lose that I could go for (only one point conceded and a pile of cheers).

Game Two – Gareth Humphreys’ Goram Reavers (Marauders)

As Shaun was bottom of the winners and I was top of the losers, we were picked to play again but instead swapped with two others. I got placed against Gareth’s Marauders, and again he played aggressively. So aggressively, he killed four of my players! Kills don’t count, however, and I managed to get a hard fought landslide win – back in the running.

Gareth was another great opponent, good fun to play against and really polite as he murdered my rats. He went on to win Most Bloody, after he took out three of Jen’s players in a later game. We accounted for more than 75% of the casualties that got him there!

Game Three – Dan Haslam’s Sonic Strikers (Judwan)

Dan had terrible luck this game, and his Judwan were totally unable to dislodge me from the three-point strike zone – or at least, were unable to do so when they had the ball and could get up to score. By the time he had, I had replaced the Striker and blocked the gap. I mashed the three-pointers and pulled another landslide win.

I’m not a nice enough person to open that three-point strike zone, and I feel bad about giving Dan a game he found very difficult. Hopefully he still had a good game, and I enjoyed having a chat with him – another player who knows his stuff, and is good fun to play against. There’s not a lot that can be done against that sort of defence, especially when the Judwan have had their speed reduced. I think they’re pretty competitive in general (and too competitive in skilled hands) with the good speed, and not competitive enough by far without it. I don’t have any better ideas though, so have to leave it at that.

Game Four – Ian Fielder’s Ellshar Smashers (Asterians)

Asterians… why did it have to be Asterians? I got lucky in this game – his Jacks threw themselves down but few players got sent off, Dirty Tricks was fired from the Guard without anything, and Inattentive Ref came out early and wasn’t replaced for half of the game. That deterred any further shenanigans, for the short term. This was also the first game were none of my players got the Skill upgrade, meaning I was playing against a team practically the same, but a little bit stronger. He also adapted to my focus on three-pointers quickly and moved to block that off, since 5+ skill will make it difficult to get two-pointers in the lower strike zones.

OK, so this is Jen playing against Ian in game two. I had too much fun to take pictures of my own games.

I managed to kill an Asterian, but that didn’t help too much. He focused his upgraded Strikers (who did get the Skill bonus) on two-pointers, and I barely managed to scrape it until rush 13 when the landslide loss hit me. I was pleased to keep the game going that long, and Ian had a mastery of the game – he was perfectly clear on everything, and we clipped through the rushes at a good pace.The Veer-myn watch the Asterians score again... and again... and again...

Conclusion

I loved every minute of the day! The venue was excellent, albeit pretty cold, there were plenty of tables and lots of space, the tea was nice, lunch was plentiful (several trays of Subway) and opponents wonderful. I hope I get to see them at another event this year. Jen and I are planning on going to the Mantic Open Days – one in May, and possibly another one later in the year – if they have DreadBall tournaments again.

The winner was Leon Chapman, the South-east Regional Champion using a Nameless team. I’d be interested to hear how he plays the Nameless, I’ve only tried them a couple of times and feel like there’s never enough action tokens to make full use of their team synergy. Second place was Ian with his Asterians, the only person he didn’t get a landslide win against was Leon. I think this shows that in the right hands, any team can do well.

Overall, I had a slight loss, a landslide loss and two landslide wins. This gave me six tournament points (just behind James M Hewitt himself) at fifth place. Oli had two landslide losses, so ended up down in tenth place with hardly any cheers – his worst result, I believe. Jen had a better day than both of us – she took a landslide loss with Ian, but got two landslide wins and a plain win and ended up on seven tournament points in third place! I am so incredibly proud of her, I didn’t even think about my own placing. I am happy with how I placed, but ecstatic with Jen – she puts it down to luck, but she beat Oli by a landslide in a practice game the night before. I think the lack of practice recently hit me and Oli hard, but Jen has managed to keep her skills sharp (possibly sharper?) over the Winter months. I think that also means that officially, she is the third best DreadBall player in the UK?

Because the top positions were taken by pathfinders or staff members, their prizes trickled down to the first civilians… which meant Jen and I walked away with new toys! Having gotten everything in the Kickstarter, we called up a friend to find out what they wanted and donated it to their collection.

I thought this picture would come out a lot worse - still didn't do the models justice.

Unlike recent tournaments, Season Two Corporation teams were very thin on the ground – only Oli brought one. Nameless and Teratons are still popular with two teams each, two Judwan teams, two Veer-myn (on the rise?), only one Marauder and Asterian team (down from the last tournament) and, as usual, three Corporation teams. Plain old humans are always popular, it seems.

We had a few chats with James and Tim from Mantic who both told us that the DreadBall community was one of the nicest gaming communities that they’d ever seen. Apparently other game systems can have less friendly people at the top tables (and I’ve heard something similar from the Warhammer podcasts that I listen to), but DreadBall tournaments all feel like club games and friendly atmospheres. There were two Teraton players at the Nationals who weren’t even looking at winning, necessarily – just trying to outdo each other on body count (and were both outstripped by Gareth’s Marauders!) This event cemented my love of the hobby and the scene and I aim to attend as many local tournaments as possible and whichever of the official Mantic events we are available for. I love that it’s something I can do with my wife, and my friends.

Oli's S2 Corporation vs James' S1 Corporation

The next tournament on the horizon is the Bristol Megalofunotron at the end of March, and then there’s nothing planned until May. I need to get out of my painting funk and start getting something done again – I’m OK for Bristol (I intend to take the Zees) but I still have a lot of other teams to paint before my Xtreme Kickstarter delivers at the end of the year!

Your princess is in another castle...

Leon Chapman, who won the tournament, has written his own experiences of the day on the Mantic forums.

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The Four Islands – Part Three

by paet the pagan-gerbil9. March 2014 08:00

Having finished off some guards last time outside the bandit cave, we cautiously entered. We were met just outside the cave by some Ogres sent by King Rulf to assist us – two players who can’t attend as often as they’d like to. They’re brothers, twins, and very strong (even if one is a little short). One is a merchant, the other a priest, who supports the general Ogre religion and was clearly sent to us by Rulf because he didn’t want to be told he wasn’t warlike enough.

We just loved the view of Ogre merchants and priests. “You will buy this for 10!” and “REPENT!” being repeated while the target is lifted and shaken until they give up and do as they’re told!

Investigating the caves, we found a very small shieldwall in a narrow corridor, big enough for only three to stand abreast. It was hard to break them since our missile shooting was poor (and mostly rocks) – even though I gave my bow to someone with twice the skill I had. We charged in, such as we could and then smash. Slowly. Their shields were good. When we finally broke a gap in the line, our Ogre merchant took advantage of the gap by tossing our rigger (a Dwarf) into it to cause surprise and smash heads. Thankfully, he got a special roll on the throw and the Dwarf landed perfectly.

Then out of the melee the bandit leader came out and shouted to us, asking if anyone would challenge him on-on-one. Since even with his clan around him we outnumbered them, I thought ‘why bother? it only benefits him!’ and that was the majority view until one of our party chose to sacrifice himself (the player wanted a new character). We didn’t want to throw his life away though, so he cast Strength on himself, and we cast Demoralise on the bandit chief. He lasted a few rounds, and at some point I thought we’d all best sneak around and kill off the chief anyway – one-on-one honour for a thief? Pah! Then a good hit took him out, and the clan surrendered. We have stripped them, looted every nook and cranny of the cave and got some good gear for our new recruits (and some of us still wearing animal furs) and intend to take them back to King Rulf for a bounty.

I missed the next week, but the party made it back to the King’s camp, managed to sell the loot and buy some nice full suits of armour (the problems of missing a week, you miss the good gear), and got a new boat to take us to the capital – the SS Sea Otter Foreplay. It’s like an Ogre yacht, and I think it’s fair to  say that we were all thinking of the Lonely Island video “I’m on a boat”.

Our Ogre merchant almost lost an arm to a shark (gaining in return a crippling fear of water and finding himself the religion of the Earth god), and the party stole a farm. They were told that they found some good grazing land, and as I understand it they forged some ownership documents to prove that they owned it?

When I rejoined the party, we were sailing to the capital. We found a couple of uninteresting islands (no more vulnerable farms, armour merchants or deadly sharks) and then came upon the capital just in time to see a bunch of nasty looking, sleek and rapid ships leaving the harbour. They were recognised as the Drannai, the evil Elves that use magic who live on the central island. We pretty much guessed what they had just stolen.

The party were told that ‘slaves’ – non-Ogres – could not wear armour or be armed, even when we offered to help against the Drannai. I successfully claimed that my stiff leathers weren’t armour, just ordinary (tough) clothes. Good thing too, as we made our way to the shipyards to find Captain Rengrave, we saw a Dwarf helping them who used to be the first mate of the SS Shagnasty. He called the guards, who didn’t actually care too much about him, even when he claimed that we wanted revenge for his betrayal and defection to the Ogres.

We challenged him to a duel – a rather simple affair, we were given weapons at random by the Ogres. He dodged my scythe, he missed with his flail, then I critical-kicked his leg and almost killed him. We claimed the Dwarf as our slave and took him back to the boat to interrogate, but not before another member of the party was dragged into another, unrelated duel. Both sides rolled poorly, neither landing a blow on the other, till the slave he was fighting fumbled with a kick and broke his own leg.

After interrogating the Dwarf traitor, we found out that the captain was being held at the castle. We used the captive to trick our way into the castle, and found Rengrave lying on a hospital bed. He told us that he was the Ogre King now – the King must accept a challenge every year, and lost to Rengrave somehow. Which made the next request easier. We got the best ship that the Ogres have, and made ready to go rescue the boy that the Drannai, surprise surprise, had kidnapped.

We set off into the shiny blue ocean, to track down the boy.

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Beginners Guide to DreadBall

by paet the pagan-gerbil2. March 2014 10:15

DreadBall as a game has grown rapidly, and now has a violent younger sister – DreadBall Xtreme. If you’ve seen the game, tried the game, and want to know where to go next, this page is for you.

This is intended to be a guide to new players, to plan their progression through the DreadBall universe. If you love the Z’zor and want to play Xtreme, what do you need to buy?

Important note: As Xtreme doesn’t actually exist yet, some of this information is speculation and subject to change as more information is released from Mantic. To get it on the Xtreme Kickstarter, or pick up DreadBall components at an excellent discount, go to the DreadBall Xtreme Kickstarter!

What Are All These Boxes?

  • DreadBall Deluxe
    This is the recommended starting point for the original DreadBall. It is identical to the original box that Kickstarter backers got, apart from the name ‘Deluxe’ on the front.
  • DreadBall Kick-Off
    This is just like Deluxe, except with no ref-bot model and no cards. The rulebook is half-sized, and doesn’t have the rules for leagues, MVPs, cards or fouls.
    • Extra Time
      This is a pack with a ref-bot, cards, and code for a digital version of the full rulebook. It upgrades a Kick-Off box to be the same as Deluxe.
  • Limited Edition DreadBall: Azure Forest
    This is Deluxe, but with a different (limited edition) cardboard pitch and contains the Galactic Tour Series: Azure Forest expansion. All references to Deluxe apply equally to this one.
  • DreadBall Ultimate – Season Three
    This is an expansion for DreadBall, and adds rules for multiplayer games and giants. It cannot be used on it’s own, and needs either DreadBall Deluxe or Kick-Off to play. It’s available as both the Season Three rulebook separately, or the DreadBall Ultimate box.
  • DreadBall Xtreme
    This is an entirely separate game that shares many of the core rules. It does not require any of the other boxes to play, and it is not required for those.
  • Galactic Tour Series
    These are small expansions that modify the way that the game is played. They absolutely need the base game to play.

So what do I need to start?

There are two flavours of DreadBall – ‘Original’ and Xtreme. Original represents the official, licenced, major league sport. Xtreme represents the ‘illegal boxing’ version, played without the same regulations as the mainstream game.

  • To get started with DreadBall, you’ll need either the Deluxe or Kick-Off box – not both!
  • To get started with Xtreme, you’ll need the Xtreme box.

Why do you recommend Deluxe over Kick-Off?

Kick-Off and Extra Time together will give you practically the same as Deluxe, for £5 less. The Deluxe set will give you a few extra models and hex bases for all of them (these are really useful). It will also give you a full-size physical copy of the rules – Kick-Off gives you a half-sized basic rulebook, with a digital version of the Deluxe rules. I prefer proper rulebooks that I can carry with me, and I don’t have a tablet to refer to things digitally.

Original DreadBall – Where are the rules for…?

You need Deluxe or Kick-Off to play the game, as a bare minimum.

  • Cards – you need Deluxe or Extra Time
  • Ref/Fouls/Ref Checks – Deluxe or Extra Time
    • Ball Hog Foul and errata to Stall – Season Three
  • Leagues – Deluxe or Extra Time
    • Advancement Tables – Deluxe or Extra Time, and an alternative set in Season Two
  • Coaches - Season Two
  • Cheerleaders – Season Two
    • There are also expanded Cheerleader rules in Galactic Tour: Azure Forest
  • Multiplayer games – Season Three
  • Giants – Season Three
  • Weather – Galactic Tour: Azure Forest
    • These also require the cards in Deluxe or Extra Time
  • Jungle Blessings – Galactic Tour: Azure Forest
  • Errata

What do I need to play Team X?

This is very dependant on what version of the game (Original or Xtreme) you want to play. I’ve included everything that you’ll need, to avoid confusion. Season Three contains a summary in the back (also available in the free rules on Mantic’s website) which will ‘get you by’ for Z’zor and S2 Corporation, but you will need the Season Two book for the new skills for the Robots and Judwan.

Quick key:

  • Kick-Off = You need Kick-Off or Deluxe.
  • Deluxe = You need Deluxe, or Kick-Off with Extra Time.
  • Grey and italic = The rules haven't been released yet, information here is speculative.
Team DreadBall Original DreadBall Xtreme
S1 Corporation Kick-Off Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Marauders Kick-Off Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Veer-myn Kick-Off Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Forge Fathers Kick-Off Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Judwan Kick-Off, Season Two Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
S2 Corporation Deluxe, Season Two/Season Three1 Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Robots Kick-Off, Season Two Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Z’zor Deluxe, Season Two/Season Three1 Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Zees Kick-Off3, Season Three Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Asterians Kick-Off3, Season Two, Season Three2 Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Nameless Deluxe, Season Three Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Teratons KickOff, Season Three Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Mars Attacks Martians KickOff/Deluxe, Season Three, Mars Attacks Compendium4 Xtreme
Convicts KickOff/Deluxe, Season Four Xtreme
Kalyshi Asterians KickOff/Deluxe, Season Four Xtreme
Plague Mutants KickOff/Deluxe, Season Four Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Mechanites KickOff/Deluxe, Season Four Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Brokkr KickOff/Deluxe, Season Five Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Crystellans KickOff/Deluxe, Season Five Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Sphyr KickOff/Deluxe, Season Five Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Rebs KickOff/Deluxe, Season Five Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Koris KickOff/Deluxe, Season Six Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Hobgoblins KickOff/Deluxe, Season Six Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Ada-Lorena KickOff/Deluxe, Season Six Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion
Tsudochan KickOff/Deluxe, Season Six Xtreme, Xtreme Xpansion

1 S2 Corporation have a summary in Season Three (and in the free rules on Mantic’s website), and no skills that aren’t in the main rulebook.
2 Asterians start with a Defensive Coach, the rules for which are in the Season Two book.
3 Asterians and Zees both have special rules that depend heavily on Ref Checks/Fouls - these require either the Deluxe rulebook or the digital version of that rulebook in the Extra Time pack. The small one in Kick-Off doesn't cover Fouls or Ref Checks. It's possible to play the teams without them, but the full experience will be missing!
4 Mars Attacks Compendium has the rules for the Martian team, but is currently only available to Mars Attacks Kickstarter backers. It has been mentioned that the team will be released with rules in the box.

What do I need to play this MVP?

Like teams, MVPs are dependant on which variant of the game that you want to play.

Quick key:

  • Kick-Off = You need Kick-Off or Deluxe.
  • Deluxe = you need Deluxe, or Kick-Off with Extra Time.
  • Grey and italic = The rules haven't been released yet, information here is speculative.
MVP DreadBall Original DreadBall Xtreme
Buzzcut Deluxe  
Number 88 Deluxe  
John Doe Deluxe  
Reek Rolat Deluxe  
“Lucky” Logan Deluxe  
Slippery Joe Deluxe  
Gorim Ironstone Deluxe  
The Enforcer Deluxe  
Anne-Marie Helder Deluxe, Season Two  
DBR7 – “Firewall” Deluxe, Season Two  
Ludwig Deluxe, Season Two  
Mee-kel Judwan Deluxe, Season Two  
Nightshade Deluxe, Season Two  
Rico van Dien Deluxe, Season Two  
Wildcard Deluxe, Season Two  
Wyn Greth’zki Deluxe, Season Two  
Yurik Yurikson Deluxe, Season Two  
Mellisandra Deluxe, Season Two*, Season Three  
The Praetorian Deluxe, Season Three  
Riller Deluxe, Season Two*, Season Three  
Big Mech Deluxe, Season Two*, Season Three  
Alpha Simian Deluxe, Season Two*, Season Three  
Nameless Spawn Deluxe, Season Three  
Barricade Deluxe, Season Two*, Season Three  
Dozer Deluxe, Season Three  
The Veteran Deluxe, Free rules (also printed in Azure Forest), Season Two*  
Thunder Chris Deluxe, Free rules (also printed in Azure Forest), Season Two*  
Drake Deluxe, Free rules (also printed in Azure Forest), Season Two*  
Jonathon “Gabe” Gabriel Deluxe, Free rules  
Blaine Deluxe, Free rules  
A’teo Adysi Deluxe, Azure Forest, Season Two*  
Brickbat   Xtreme
Deadman Davitz   Xtreme
Kailasa   Xtreme
Asylum   Xtreme
Chovar Psychozoan   Xtreme
Brute Force   Xtreme
Lyra the Fixer   Xtreme
Weiss   Xtreme
Iron Ancestor   Xtreme
Crypt   Xtreme
Blitz the Great Drake Deluxe, Xtreme Challenge Cup Xtreme, Xtreme Challenge Cup
Irsala   Xtreme
Galdo   Xtreme
Sann-gar   Xtreme
Hexan Deluxe, Xtreme Challenge Cup Xtreme, Xtreme Challenge Cup
Alo-Khan Deluxe, Xtreme Challenge Cup Xtreme, Xtreme Challenge Cup
Eko'o Deluxe, Xtreme Challenge Cup Xtreme, Xtreme Challenge Cup
Shnorkel the Avenger   Xtreme
The Excavator   Xtreme
MediBot   Xtreme
Kryphos   Xtreme
Tycho   Xtreme
Grak   Xtreme, Furon Arena
Phantasm   Xtreme
Gemini   Xtreme
M'zei Kein   Xtreme
Slalaran Vesh   Xtreme
Creed   Xtreme

* Some of these MVPs have rules printed in the Season Two rulebook. There is a short, one-line summary in the back of the Season Three rules (and in the free rules on Mantic’s website) but for the full background and rules descriptions, it’s recommended to use the Season Two book.

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Cardiff League – Weeks Five to Nine

by paet the pagan-gerbil26. February 2014 08:00

I was missing playing DreadBall regularly – tournament season appears to be in the Spring, and it’s been difficult to play against people other than Jen for a while. I eventually approached the Cardiff League guys to see if they would allow me to join, given that I could only attend in person every fortnight (at best) and would have to play most of my games remotely via Vassal. They seem to be more organised than the last couple of leagues in Bristol – the first one followed the rules from the book and people failed to challenge or complete their assigned games in the fortnight provided each round, the second was a more open double-round-robin but I had a couple of people stand me up and found it difficult to attend on the busiest club nights, no-one else was able to attend the same nights that I was and many didn’t try to arrange games on the forums (or reply to my calls for the same).

The Cardiff League has a very disciplined organiser sorting out the match-ups for each week, rounding up the results and making sure it all keeps ticking along. I’ve jumped in to replace one of his teams, with the team ranking and league points that they had accrued so far – 2 losses and a draw.

I decided to take my Zee team along for this league, since I think a developed Zee team could be interesting to play with, and I’d like the practice to try and perfect their tactics. Since I was replacing a Zee team, I only got 17 credits to boost my team rating – I bought an offensive coach and saved the rest for later. As I’m starting in week five, I’m hoping to organise some friendly games via Vassal so I can get some experience on the monkeys and make them better for the league games.

Game 1 – Home vs The Cylon Conspiracy (Robots)

The Cylon Conspiracy had a huge lead on me, having a few landslide victories behind them and on top of the league table. Being the underdog that I am, I got a bunch of free agents here. I got an Asterian Guard, a Sticky Nameless Guard, and two more Zees.

I swarmed the pitch and managed to get a few good scores, but couldn’t keep the three-point strike zone defended well enough and ended up six points down when I had to concede the game early and run to catch a train. I made enough cash after the game to buy two cards, and replace a dead Zee. Two of them managed to get experience, but not enough to gain a rank.

Game 2 – Away vs Squad Sonny (Robots)

I was hoping to squeeze this in on the same day as against the Cylon Conspiracy but the schedule was against me. Instead, we arranged this game by Vassal. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be to play via Vassal, and doesn’t get in the way too much.

Squad Sonny had a huge team rating, 250 against my 134. This meant my underdog bonus was more than I could possibly use. I bought Buzzcut for the game, and got a few free agents – Asterian Guard and Jack, and a Teraton Jack. The Teraton spent the whole game on the bench because I’ve not played with them yet, and I’m not sure how best to use their abilities. Buzzcut I used for some muscle, but wanted to keep the scoring to the Zees (as poor as they are) to try and get some experience. This worked well, with my two experienced monkeys scoring early on and getting me a six point lead before half-time.

Unfortunately, good luck doesn’t last and I wasn’t able to score again – Squad Sonny managed to push enough models around to get a four-pointer, and ended up winning by two. However, with the underdog bonus I had enough to max out my cards for the next game, and still have plenty left over to buy something else. I don’t know if I’ll buy more Zees, since there is a limit of fourteen and I would like the space for MVPs if I am the underdog again. I could buy some Cheerleaders to try and capitalise on scoring, so the cards can get me easier scores, the scores can get me fan checks, the fan checks get me the coaching dice that I’ll need to help guarantee the score for next time.

My two happy scorers both got Skill increases after the game, so given how close I was to a win this time (landslide, even!) I could actually get it to work next time!

Game 3 – Home vs Yutani Predators (S1 Corporation)

This was another Vassal game, but a little trickier without voice communication. I worry enough that I might be misunderstood with my voice, let alone in plain and emotionless text. The first half of the game was a frantic score-fest, with my two ‘striker’ Zees running and scoring three-pointers every rush, but having them negated instantly by a three-pointer from the Corporation Strikers. After a couple of fumbles from the humans, and a break in the scoring, I finally managed to pull ahead and started to get a lasting lead, and the game ended as a win five points up to me.

Because of all the scoring, I got man monkey of the match, and another ability on one of my ‘striker’ Zees – who got Misdirect.

After this game, I’d maxed out on cards and had oodles of cash left. Looking at team rankings, I can’t expect to get too many more free agents so I bought a couple more Zees (never a bad thing) and a pair of cheerleaders, just in case.

Game 4 – Away vs the Tannhauser Kaiju (Teratons)

Yet another Vassal game – I will be trying to make it to the store at some point, as I need to get some paints and I think I’ve earned the leave at home. This was my first experience with Teratons, on either side of the pitch and they were formidable. Lots of upgrades (two Keepers) and the Teleport ability is incredibly useful! Why ever Evade again?

First score went to the Teratons, and they kept the pressure up high throughout the game. Even with my new hires, there were times I only had 5 on the pitch and no subs to bring on! While not quite so back-and-forth as the previous game, the tit-for-tat was a spread out a lot more and the score didn’t come near my cheerleader till near the end. My Monkey Business dice only gave me a little luck near the beginning, and I realised that Teleport can’t stop a determined Zee from Stealing the ball from a Teraton – but rolling low will scupper that.

My favourite points of the game were having more than half of my team in the Sin Bin thanks to injuries and fouls, and using a Running Interference card to snatch the ball before a Teraton Jack could pick it up… then doubling and running off with it! That Zee eventually sprinted off to a far corner of the pitch, where a Teraton Keeper attempted to teach him the error of his ways. It worked, but the ball scattered off the wall and straight back into the Keeper, who flubbed the catch, and a weird bounce dropped the ball into the almost undefended three-point Strike zone. That was the rush lost, and my final rush for one of the new Zees to sprint up, grab the ball (doubling with 5+ skill), and score (doubling with 5+ skill) to end the game on a 5 point win.

Monkey of the Match was mine again, same Zee as before (both times, he’d done nothing) and that meant a rank increase. He got Running Interference. Another Zee got a Skill increase, and three more are close to advances.

I’d love to play these Teratons again, it was a real challenge – but after the game they did buy a new Guard, so maybe I’d best save some cash for resurrection bills…

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“I said ham hock! Ham HOCK!”

by paet the pagan-gerbil8. February 2014 08:00

We’ve had a couple more sessions of our Four Islands Runequest game. After making a safe camp last time, we carried on looking for the rebel city.

On the way, we discovered a field of sheep which my elf companion decided to butcher. No XP earned. While butchering, he fell down a hole in the ground, and met a hermit in a cave who gave us directions to the rebel city, as we had gotten lost (again).

Leaving (some of) the sheep alone, we made our way along a cliff edge to the city. Dangling off the edge of the cliff were two iron cages, occupied. One contained a thief who’d been caught by the ogres and the other contained the rigger on the SS Shagnasty (our ship). The rigger is played by a new member of our group (fresh blood…). We (and by we I mean mostly the Dwarf) managed to pull the cages up, smash them open with a rock, and rescue the prisoners. Any enemy of the ogres is an ally, we say. We also salvaged some of the iron to take to the city with us.

Arriving in the city clad in furs, carrying savage weapons, we made our way to the guy in charge. We were shown to the regent who gave us a brief overview of the situation – these are the rebels, the rebel king is away on the frontier fighting against the ogres, and we were pointed to a blacksmith who can give us some better equipment. The Ogres had captured Captain Rengrave and the young king of the Bretons and although no-one knew where the boy was, the captain (my character’s father) was being forced to help build ships for the Ogres. We were also given a guide (human, a returning player) to help us get to the ogre capital and find our way around there.

The blacksmith was almost entirely incompetent, and managed to flub a lot of the iron that we gave him to fashion into better weapons. For this reason, I had to a work for a day in the fields to try and pay off the longsword I requested but the first attempts gave me a war boomerang instead. The other guys got similarly rotten luck producing simple weapons and arrowheads.

While I worked, the other guys went to a pub, where they started (inadvertently) a brawl. The Dwarf took the part of Vin Diesel, kicking arse and not spilling a drop. Our elf ended up more like Benny Hill, being slid across the bar, hitting his head at the end and upsetting an Ogre eating a ham hock. Which we misheard to tragically comical effect. Our GM is the greatest, and this became a part of the story now and battered pig penis is apparently an Ogre delicacy. The Ogre and his wife attacked the elf, while our rigger was distracted trying to pick up a barstool as an improvised weapon (it was bolted to the floor) and the guide picked up a table and threw it across the room. Thinking that it might get out of hand (fighting is one thing but murder is another), I figured out that my day in the fields must be almost over and started my way back. When I finally got there, I passed a few lucky Orate rolls and got everything moved on (with the help of the new, slightly greenish longsword I picked up on the way home).

A quick pint and a rest, then back to the Regent to secure a boat to go and see the rebel king on our way to the Ogre capital. We were given a serviceable yacht, and ended the session having safely landed near the rebel encampment.

When we rejoined the game after Christmas, we were met at the camp by Lord Jubrox – a Breton regent who advised us of the current political situation. The ‘rebel’ king, King Rulf, was an Ogre and the rightful king of the Ogres. He’s not very Ogrish, however – too short, too weak, not a martial person at all. And he’s quite sensitive about it. It was decided by the ruling court to pass over him for succession and instead crown his younger brother, who exemplified the physical properties and attitudes of the Ogres. Hence, the rebel king and the war. We were then allowed to see the King. We were also told about the rebel Ogre General Gabrax.

We explained the situation – we want to recover my father and the Breton boy king. During this audience, we noted that Lord Jubrox doesn’t appear to be happy about the Breton king being a boy. We asked the king for any supplies to try and accomplish our goals, since freeing the captain would deprive the enemy of shipbuilding skills and freeing the boy would get some goodwill with the Bretons. He was unable to spare anything; most of the fighters we saw were human, not Ogre, and they were a raised militia rather than trained soldiers. The King indicated that we can keep anything that we find in a cave nearby being used by bandits, who both the ruling king and the rebel king were too busy to deal with. He also had a plan for us to get into the capital, possibly assassinate his brother and rescue the prisoners.

We struck out for the bandit camp, and I attempted to snipe them from afar with my long bow. I kept missing, and missing, and missing, and when they came closer to find me they were jumped by the rigger and the Dwarf (the only others who could attend this session). We finished them off easily, and I learned that the ‘greenish tinge’ on my long sword was an acid effect which grants disruption – a Runequest term for immediately and permanently destroying armour. If I don’t get through it the first time, it’ll be easier to get through the second time.

Time pressures meant that we had to leave it there for the evening. Next time, we’ll be attempting to assault the cave and hopefully have more players to help!

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Room 101

by paet the pagan-gerbil25. January 2014 08:00

So, this blog has been going a while. Starting on the first of January last year, I have been updating the blog every two weeks. A couple of times I was late, a couple of times I was early (usually to be excited about tournament write-ups), but as it adds up I am still three days ahead of where I should be.

This post will be the one-hundred and first since the blog was started, back in October 2009. I managed seventy-two posts before 2013, and twenty-seven in 2013. That’s roughly 27% of all posts being in 2013, so about a quarter of posts being in a quarter of the time. If I keep this up, I expect to be at post two hundred in 2017 sometime. Of course, if I get a few early posts in, I should be able to bring that forward a bit.

This year, I intend to continue posting regularly every two weeks. I also intend to continue posting about DreadBall, hopefully getting more pictures of my painted models up this year. I’d better step up the game, with DreadBall Extreme scheduled to Kickstart in late February/early March and the ‘Galactic Tour’ series that might introduce more teams and MVPs. I’d better start selling some organs too, unless Mantic slow down.

I also intend to continue posting the Star Trek episode autopsies. The overall plan, in case you haven’t guessed, is to slog my way through The Next Generation and make my way to Deep Space Nine and Voyager (although obviously, I already started with Voyager) and maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll get to Enterprise. At the rate of one episode a month, I think that means I can expect to get to DS9 in roughly 2028? And since I only blog twice a month and will want to drop game reviews, tournament write-ups, DreadBall stuff, I think I’ll have to throw in some bonus blogging to be able to make it in anything like sensible time. If we’re lucky we’ll even see another series before I’ve finished (something of the same quality as DS9, perhaps).

This is going to be short and sweet, because I think I’ve earned a little break over the last year. And if I don’t get away to paint models, I won’t have any pictures to put up here!

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2013

by paet the pagan-gerbil11. January 2014 08:00

It’s that time of year again! I try to do this every year on the first day of the New Year. This year, I couldn’t be bothered, I felt like a bit of a rest before it’s gone up.

Did you enjoy this year?
On the whole, yes. Did a fair few new things.

What did you do in 2013 you'd never done before?
Been to a games tournament, won a games tournament, driven to Cardiff (almost one whole year after starting work there!), gone to a Roller Derby game, kept the blog updated regularly.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any resolutions this year, but I did have a secret resolution to update the blog regularly. I’ve managed to put up a new post every two weeks all year long, only being late by a day or two a few times, normally due to illness. And I have managed to be early on at least two occasions, by more than five days, so overall I’m still ahead.

In 2014, I’m going to try and keep that up – blogging is fun. I’m also going to try and get my painting table cleared, and get running (again). If I put my updates on the blog, I’ll be more motivated to actually keep it all going. Watch this space.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some of our friends did, yes!

Did anyone close to you die?
What a morbid question this is. Thankfully, no.

What countries did you visit?
I visited Wales – I normally just work there. I also visited Nottingham, and while it’s not another country I’ll count it. I am not a globetrotter.

What would you like to have in 2014 you lacked in 2013?
Some calm.

What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 8th – I won the Cardiff Regional Championship! September 3rd – Freddy started school!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Today’s meme is brought to you by the ‘winning the Cardiff DreadBall Regional’ dead horse, pre-flogged for your convenience.

What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to play in the Ultimate Regional. Not running.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
A few times, normal minor illness things. Nothing horrific.

Did you have to go to the hospital?
Nope, I am a healthy person. We went to hospital for Fred to have grommets put in, and again not long after for a biopsy.

What was the best thing you bought?
I didn’t buy anything this year, I think. Certainly nothing too big. I suppose the new printer will have to count by default.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Freddy’s behaviour improved a lot over the first two terms in school. His reading is shooting ahead, writing is catching up, and his silliness and outbursts are getting rarer and milder.

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Freddy’s behaviour in the first term in school. It felt like there was no reason for it, and nothing we could do while he was at school to calm him down. About the only explanations we can think of is hospital visits or end-of-term tiredness. He sorted himself out though.

Where did most of your money go?
Into the mortgage, we didn’t really put anything anywhere else.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Freddy starting school. The Welsh Regional, and both of the Mantic Open Days. Getting my last DreadBall Kickstarter package.

What song will always remind you of 2013?
Lithuania’s awesome Eurovision entry, ‘We are the winners’.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder? About the same.

ii. richer or poorer? About the same.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
More games! More games nights!

What do you wish you'd done less of?
I can’t really think of anything.

How did you spend Christmas?
Visiting family in Portsmouth.

Where did you ring in 2013?
At home, in bed, sleeping. We have two young kids and had to get to work after the new year!

What was your favourite TV programme?
We mostly watched Stargate SG-1 this year. Xena took a back seat because it was getting a little bit annoying with the Mongolian Amazons (and we had to sit around the computer, and the chairs aren’t good for Jen’s back).

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. Well, Chris Grayling confounds me completely but I wouldn’t say I hate him.

What was the best book you read?
I don’t think I read a single book all year. It’s been a hard year to find time to read.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I just don’t get any new music this year. My friends started a band, their last one was awesome, but I haven’t heard any of it yet. Check them out and tell me what you think, they are called The Disfavoured Party.

What did you want and get?
A tournament win!

What did you want and not get?
A proper National tournament, as was planned for the middle of November. The venue flubbed and we didn’t get it.

How did you earn your keep?
Writing software for a law firm.

What was your favourite film of this year?
The World’s End. Hands down the best.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I spent the day before at the Welsh Regional, and the day of my birthday just chilling out at home with my mum visiting. I was twenty-nine.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning another tournament. I’m getting to be a bit of a junkie… Never being late with the blog, not even the once.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Too many holes, best buy something new. Get the same as what I just threw out.

What kept you sane?
As in previous years, this question makes an assumption.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Privatisation of the probation service. When the keynote address at a conference discussing it declares that it’s a terrible idea, and the minister in charge hides an MOJ report about it while repeating “I believe it will work so I’m going to do it” (a direct quote) and the companies trying to get the government contracts are already being investigated for fraud while carrying out other government contracts in the same area… You have to wonder, is this really a good idea?

Who was the best new person you met?
I met a lot of new people at tournaments, and in the Vanguard club leagues. All of them are awesome people. Some of these people I expect I’ll only see in Nottingham at Mantic Open Days!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Stay cool.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
WEEEEEEEE are the CHAMpyuns, my freeeeeeeeeeeee-ends……

What is the best thing that you were given?
My awesome metal pitch. It’s so pretty…

What is the best thing you have given someone?
I am not a generous person. I don’t think I gave anyone anything. I gave a bit to charity this year… but nothing personal that I remember. Ah well.

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