Friday, March 30, 2012

Gamestorm 14 Report - a journey to sort of civilization

Let's skip all the VA hospital nonsense & get to the fun stuff:
First of all let me commend the Game Matrix as a wonderful well supplied gaming store & haven. I make sure I frequent it on every northern trip I make. Also let me tell you about a new store I visited - the Dtwenty Games Diner. If you are heading up toward Seattle I recommend you visit there. The food is excellent & the ambiance is probably the best gaming store I've seen. The merchandise is not the largest or most diverse yet, but it attractively displayed in wooden cases & is kept neat as a pin. The selection is centered around Pathfinder, D&D, Steve Jackson games, & other board games, but they do have other games as well. The gaming tables are fine wood that would grace a very "Tone" dining room. The lighting is conducive to a relaxed game atmosphere. You can order a full meal - in my case it was chicken fried steak that was lean & the sauce was not doughy. the vegetables were crisp & tasty. It was brought right to our gaming table. They have a good beer selection & the deserts were ever so tempting. Full marks for this store.

Gamestorm 14 is what most gamers in my area would look for in a convention. A wide variety of panels for those so inclined. A whole floor of CCG's. The RPG's took up several rooms. There were a couple of LAN rooms, a sizable dealer room, 4 large board game rooms, a hospitality center, an Indie game room, LARPS out the ying-yang, & of course my favorite: a miniatures gaming room with a dozen or so tables. The miniatures was first being added this year & it will grow over time. I was only there for 3 out of the 4 days but it was jammed through. Played in a couple Savage Worlds games, a Never-When demo, etc. for RPG's. Attended several good panels including one with the insightful & very knowledgable Anthony Pryer about "How many versions does D&D need" where the history & politics of the D&D versions were discussed along with current complaints, strategies, & plans by WOTC. After asking Anthony a question he chagrined me slightly by pointing out that I've been a gamer since 2 years before he was born. Heavy SIGH!

The bloodbath of Reds I left behind!
My first miniatures game I played in was a scenario from the Russian Civil War. Daryl played the Red Communist forces & I played a force of White Russians aided by Chinese coolies & troops, plus two squads of Yanks. My job was to take my odd collection of forces & guard the roadway (on the left side) so that the two carts could make it to the flat car, load up & make it off the board again. I was out-numbered. Oddly enough my Grandfather served in the American Expeditionary force to Russia after the end of WW1. I think he must have been present & manipulating the dice because I absolutely ate my opponent alive. I couldn't seem to fail most of the time. One hill towards the center earned the name "Red Hill" because of all the Red Communists dying there. His troops almost made it onto the flat car before the last of them died. My tactics were to focus on one unit at a time when possible & pour as much fire into it as I could until it was rendered ineffective. Then I would move onto the next unit. The rules were Triumph & Tragedy & the game was hosted by Frank Durovchic. He will run a similar game at Enfilade.

After massacring the "Commies" during the morning & early afternoon. Daryl & I set up our test "Kalvan of Otherwhen" game & debuted the upcoming Blackpoder Pike & Shotte rules from Warlord Games.
Kalvan of Otherwhen - the initial setup!
Since many people at the Gamestorm convention have not attended an Enfilade convention they were not used to the high standards of terrain one so often sees at Enfilade. With what would have been nice average for Enfilade, we wowed them! They were blown away by the miniatures as well. If I may humbly say so, Daryl & I did a good job painting them.
Prince Ptosthes encourages his troops forward!
Sadly I played on the Nostori side (Boo-Hiss! - they're the bad guys in the book) Frank joined us for the game along with several other gamers. The Hostigi troops did rather well on the infantry side & managed through good tactics (& the Nostori bad luck rolls by one of my co-commanders) to limit the advance on the Nostori right & center. However the Hostigi peasants did run & hide in the pigpen.
Yes these are period correct pigs!
On my side of the table a great cavalry battle developed supported by my dismounted dragoons. Admittedly my heavy Curassiers (the toughest troops on the field supposedly) screamed like little girls after a blunder roll & ran back & hid on the edge of the table. It culminated in a furious 54 figure brawl that left both sides mauled from a bloody mixed up fray!
What a fluster-cluck!
 My limited force held for the longest time before finally dissolving & my dragoon infantry were there to shoot up the Hostigi survivors. However back amongst the infantry things had heated up. The Nostori guard in their black uniforms managed to split the Hostigi line & create a wedge. That hole kept widening & widening until the Hostigi were forced to concede the field. A mixed emotion for me because I favored the Hostigi side because of the book, but was playing the Nostori bad-guys.

I hope all of this encourages you to attend next year!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

All that are lost are not wandering!

Due to strange happenings with my health we were had a shorter than usual & more sedentary game this week. I didn't do much die rolling because it actually hurt. I shot this one from the hip because stress earlier in the day had my ticker not ticking at peak performance. Thanks to all of my friends who were there because you lifted my spirits and gave me strength instead of me lying around & feeling miserable. Please be reassured that I'm still resting & feeling better today.

Since the definition of foul murder to the Norse was "secret killing" and exacts a horrible price in that culture the party decides to split up briefly. Skolmr heads south to the next village and proclaims in that village that they had been attacked & killed 5 of the 6 people that had attacked them. While he is proclaiming this He is approached by the one older man they know got away & someone else who claims to having been with them & a witness. Hmm where did he come from? The older man who had previously treated with Skolmr shows restraint and introduces himself as a Huskarl of the Gangermann Tribe. He also tries to persuade Skolmr to bring Starkadder to the Thing in June, with the warning that he is not chief of his tribe and that many of the younger more unruly types will hold the party equally guilty to Starkadder & exact vengeance unless they bring him to the Thing. Protestations that the beserker is his own man & that Skolmr can only encourage him to go fall on deaf ears as the huskarl lays warnings. Skolmr then scoffs at him & with ritual insults turns his back on the Gangermann who bristles in anger.  The wandering Sami realizing things would not be conducive to profits at the moment decides to return north with Skolmr,

About the same time Arvarodd and Siv have gone north for two days to next most village beyond the one burnt out earlier. There pronouncements have little ripple in the community other than "Wow these people are foolish to cross the Gangermann". In a slight feat of Player knowledge triumphing over character knowledge the players figure the Gangermann tribe are werewolves. Well sort of, Viking Werewolves are not the same thing as Hollywood Werewolves. I'm waiting for someone to get the brilliant idea of silver-weapons.

To occupy the months until the Thing gathering the party starts to rebuild the village of Skaldby (There's a clue there Skolmr). Mar focuses on getting a forge up & running so that he can produce the tools, nails, etc that go into making a village, plus a few beyond that for selling. Tyr focuses on building a sexring (no NOT a SEX RING you gits - rather it's a small Six Oared ship) that can be used for carrying the small party on journeys such as to the Thingr or fishing locally, etc. Ulfar focuses on recapturing all the remaining livestock in the area and tending them aided by Arvarodd. Despite Arvarodd spending more time with his hands on the teats of cows & goats than on Siv's teats, he does manage to get Siv pregnant. (Don't blame me, but someone asked me if he could tell the difference). The few remaining survivors from the two burned out villages return to the area & re-establish themselves at Skalby. This helps relieve the burden of the chores from the party members and also establishes a base from which they may wander and have a safe haven to return to. At night they chain Tyr to his bed to prevent him from getting lost or stolen again. Can't you just feel the love? Over this time Starkadder would dissappear for days or weeks at a time & eventually return hauling the carcas of a slain deer or the like back to the village.

At last June arrives & as the party prepares the sexring (that's the boat you bloody twits) for the journey north, the wandering Sami prepares for the journey by making a spirit journey to ask about the voyage. He enters his laavvu (tent) and starts a ritual sweat and drumming. Journeying forth he has his guide take him to the spirit of the Dolphin and he seeks his guidance: To the question what is the journey? like he gets a nice reply about how there are lots of fish, calm waves & an ambiguous answer that relates more to the dolphin perspective than to the human one. To the question about are there any raiders (with the quick caveat of human or otherwise) on the sea he gets another ambiguous answer about there's killer whales, & longships, some that have already left & there's usually a lot more later on in the summer. I mean will a dolphin know what the purpose in mind of someone who is on board a ship?

The party sails north for a 3 hour tour - OOPS I mean a 3 day journey. Tyr handled the tiller, Arvarodd skippered the vessel, Siv was his "Little Buddy", while the rest of the group handled lines as necessary. Each night the would beach the craft and build camp. Tyr would be chained to the mast so he wouldn't get lost or stolen in the night. When Arvarodd attempted to darken Skolmr's eyes with charcoal while he was asleep, Skolmr waited in ambush & threw him overboard. YAY! After 3 days they reached Oslo & pulled their boat on the shore next to a large & magnificent longship. The owner of the longship made some sotte-voce derogatory comments about their boat and a flyting contest soon ensued.  The entire group engaged in trading insults until Skolmr capped it all with such an insult that he caused the opposing warlord to go apoplectic and keel over dead in the finest Nordic Insult tradition.

As they journey inland the group overhears rumors of doom, & intrigues. Hmm what awaits them at the Thingr?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Faces from the past

As the Party begins to clear up the village they remembered to build a pyre for the bodies & make the sacraments to give them a proper send off to Valhol or Hella's realm as befits their final choice. They decide that they will head back to their home village & do the same since they had no luck finding survivors. Arvarodd announces to Tyr that Odhinn had sent him a vision that if Tyr will gain the gift of prophetic vision if he cuts out his tongue. Larry (Tyr) decides not to take up Nate's suggestion. Tyr discovers the corpse of his promised spiked upon a half burnt beam in a building & goes into grieving, curled before the pyre & weeping (properly played Larry!)

However during the nightly watch, the camp guard falls asleep & they wake to find Tyr missing. After some major hemming & hawing along one side of the table, ahem, a search is made for Tyr by Ulfar. After diligent searching they find Tyr tied to a tree overhanging a pond in front of a waterfall. Ulfar has difficulty trying to rescue Tyr so Siv, Arvarodd, & Skolmar elect to give him a hand. As they drop Tyr from the tree the Draugr leaps out from his hiding place behind the waterfall. The monster's warlike bellow is heard all the way back in the village and Starkaddr & Mar race to the scene passing a frightened Tyr heading in the opposite direction. The fighters torches have no effect as the fiend is in the water. Skolmar is knocked silly as he tries to catch the unconcious & flying Siv who the monster has flung at him. Arvarodd & Ulfar gamely tackle this monster as shortly Starkaddr & Mar show on the scene. Recovering his "senses" & "courage" upon returning to the village Tyr decides to invoke the power of Surtr into the campfire to burn the Draugr so that it can't reheal. - Well it almost was a good idea, because Surtr grants what he asked for but not what he desires. A flame leaps up from the campfire & sets the woods alight. The Fire burns a 100 meter swath that races towards the draugr & the party members who are fighting it. Hmmm. Just in time they slay the monster & they race to hide in the cave behind the waterfall!

Safe from the fire & draugr at last Arvarodd decides to reward Tyr by erecting an upright pole in the cart and tying him naked to it with all their reclaimed goods. A pair of shocked & somewhat drunken beer-merchants pass by this sight & make mistaken offerings to Freyr in their stupor.

Upon returning to their home village they honor & bury their friends & relatives. Then they start to minimally rebuild their village & finally decide to free Tyr. As they work a half dozen hunters approach the town in a friendly manner until they spot Starkaddr where upon they become angry & demand that he be turned over to them to be tried for murder. They claim that Starkaddr had murdered the leaders grandfather some 30 years ago, which strikes Skolmar as odd because Starkaddr apparently looks in his early 20's. As things get heated, demands are made that the party must bring Starkaddr to the Thing or else be charged with aiding a murderer. Larry decides to storm off & throw curses at the strangers which serves to inflame things into open combat. In the ensuing brawl & chase the party manages to kill all but two of the strangers. Their tracks can't be covered so the party decides that the next installment will start by them sending messengers to towns North & South announcing the killings so that they can't be accused of "Secret Killing" which is how the Vikings defined murder as opposed to homicide.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today's my Birthday

Not only did I treat myself to a nice walk along the coast from Cape Ferrelo to Arch Rock & back but I've been listening to music. Here's some You tubes of some to share. Please crank the volume so you can hear these soft, subtle pastoral pieces. They also fit the current Viking campaign.
 I also treated myself to ordering online a SAGA Warband as a present to myself. Hopefully someone down at the shop will also get interested in the ruleset. And yes it was the Viking Warband I got!