Sunday, June 26, 2016

More Super Dungeon Explore minis painting

I managed to get some more painting done on the fun miniatures with the Super Dungeon Explore game.  These are the four spawn point models and the six pets you can get as treasures.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kuro, a Japanese horror RPG

So my good friend Bill very kindly gave me a gift card for my birthday from our local FLGS, Games and Stuff.  I love going in there because it's full of exactly the sort of cool nerdy game stuff I love, but I hate because it's full of exactly the sort of cool nerdy game stuff I love.  Thus having a gift card helped save me from myself.  After wandering for a bit I decided I should get something new and different rather than adding to my Pathfinder or D&D archives.  Then I spotted this game, Kuro from Cubicle 7.

Kuro (exercise bike not included)
I love the cover and was immediately captivated by the blurb:

The year is 2048, and something dark has returned to Japan. With an international blockade set up around the beleaguered country, there is no escape. To ignore the horror will only delay the inevitable, but do you have the strength to face the nightmares?  Kuro is a developing game setting that mixes a dark near future with unremitting Japanese horror.

I was pleasantly surprised because it sounded a lot like a game I ran in the early 2000s I called Neo Tokyo using a mashup of some homebrew mechanics, skill trees ripped from Paranoia, and hacked anthro races from Teenage Mutant Turtles and Other Strangeness.  The setting was a near-future Tokyo in the aftermath of a mysterious catastrophe, full of Yakuza, aliens, robots, furries, interdimensional wierdness, and a dollop of the supernatural.

Naturally I bought Kuro immediately.

The basic mechanics are a d6 dice pool using dice from your attribute plus any dice for a relevant skill.  One very appropriately Asian twist is that fours don't count because the word for the number 4 sounds like the word for the word for death.  (I was a bit surprised here because I thought the taboo on the number four was a purely Chinese thing.  FYI, kuro/黑 means black or dark/darkness.)

Once I wrap up my current Pathfinder-based fantasy game I'll see if I can pitch a bit of Kuro to my group and revive my old Neo Tokyo campaign.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Another game of Super Dungeon Explore

Following my main birthday party with family I got together with a couple of my gaming crew for some gaming and BBQ in the yard.  I've been wanting to play a full-on game of Super Dungeon Explore (SDE) with the rules properly read.  I took the role of Consul and my two friends shared three heroes between them.  Set up was pretty quick since we have everything sorted into little ziplock plastic bags from the last time.  Also, since I only have the original set we just play with all the cards rather than having to build decks from lots of extra expansion sets.

SDE is a very tactical game with RPG elements.  The players start with minimal resources and equip themselves with loot from vanquished monsters and treasures from the single treasure chest on each board.  The monsters outnumber them to start with and each spawning point can re-spawn from it's dead pool up to three times.  As each spawn points is destroyed it spawns a tough mini-boss, and the lesser monsters still on the board gain "leveling up" bonuses to keep them tough as the players improve their equipment.  The final boss is very tough.  Nevertheless I was only able to take out one of the adventurers--albeit the same one twice--but then that little hero (they respawn at the entrance) finished off the big boss in epic single combat.

The players enter to find the dungeon swarming with monsters.

Quickly clearing the first room the storm into the next!

The defenders do a respawn as the players maneuver against the first wave.

The first mini-boss spawns, but the players get to summon a rooster.

Battling on as the final room monsters move up to reinforce.

The big boss teleports to safety as his "time out" frogknightspawns attack.

So what are the pros and cons of SDE?

Pros: great miniatures, high quality components, plenty of replay value with just the basic set, good tactical gameplay

Cons: game boards almost too busy and cluttered to make out key features, a few rules require a lot of hunting around in the rulebook to figure out; took a bit long to play

One thing I wasn't happy with was how long it took to play.  Granted we were doing a lot of reading and re-reading of the rules as we went but it still took about six hours to play a 3-hero/3-board game.  At that rate a really big game with all the heroes and more boards would take a full day to play through.

A Munchkin Birthday

So I had my birthday recently.  I started the day with lunch at a Korean barbeque place my son recommended--there's nothing quite like eating delicious food surrounded by non-stop Kpop videos on multiple widescreens. 

Back home, I was pleasantly surprised to find my amazing family bought me Munchkin Quest for a present.  Naturally, I insisted we play it immediately.

Munchkin quest is a board game-ish version (expansion?) for the Munchkin card game.  It adds a bunch of room tiles and connector (door/corridor) pieces, all of which are double sided.  They also have nice stand up monsters and little plastic munchkin tokens for the players.

The room tiles all have special characteristics which affect play and the connector pieces have colored directional markers which affect monster movement at the end of each player's turn.  Play is slower because there are a lot more things to adjudicate each turn but the core is the same as in the original card game.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

So, Pathfinder goes full-on sci-fi with Starfinder

 I've always been a sci-fi buff.  I was reading sci-fi before I got into fantasy novels (with Conan books at the library).  My love of fantasy and history led easily to an interest in fantasy RPGs which has continued for over 30 years.  With science fiction, alas, the story is not so rosy.  I've never found a set of rules I really liked.  Either the rules don't appeal for some reason or the setting is a turn-off.  For instance, the first set of rules I tried was Traveler and I really didn't like the rules or the setting.

Pathfinder is the current go-to fantasy rules set for my group and we have several campaigns underway using it.  It's got a definite case of over-crunch but it works.  I've even subscribed to some of Paizo's adventure paths, including the Iron Gods one which introduces sci-fi elements to gaming in their Golarion game world.

So I was excited and intrigued when Paizo has recently (or should I say "finally") announced a sci-fi version of Pathfinder.  (See this interview for lots of info on the new offering.)  Fans have been pestering them for a modern-day or futuristic version of it for some time.  It sounds pretty cool, particularly that it is set in the Golarion solar system but in the future.  I enjoyed their Distant Worlds book introducing the various planets and I'm excited to see what they'll do with "updated" versions of them for Starfinder.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Another healthy gaming snack/meal - Zucchini Pizza

Okay, so yesterday we had zucchini pizza here at chez moi.  It's very simple to make, has great pizza flavor, and is way healthier for you than regular pizza (and is cheaper than ordering out).

Zucchini Pizza
  • a couple large zucchinis
  • your choice of pizza sauce
  • mozzarella cheese (thinly sliced)
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped garlic
  • your choice of toppings--but remember you only have a small surface area to work with
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C
  2. Slice zucchini in half, longwise (optional, shave a bit off the round side of each half so the have a flat area to rest level
  3. Spread a little chopped garlic (or skip if you don't like garlic)
  4. Spread pizza sauce
  5. Add slices of mozzarella
  6. Add toppings (this is the bit where you get to be creative)
  7. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese
  8. Bake in oven on pan for 12~15 minutes (watch and check until it looks done)
  9. Remove from oven and let cool a little
  10. Carefully move from pan to plate (toppings tend to slide off easily) 
  11. Eat!
Ready for the Oven

Baked and Cooling Off

Bon Appetit!

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Academae Campaign: Capture of a Renegade & Death of a Doppleganger

 [Our travels, toils, and travails in the city of Korvosa continue on Roll 20.]

Sanjay peers into the back room of the butcher's workship and sees the main abbatoir, with vats, butchering racks, tables, etc.  [The map reveal works great here, as I finally see what is in the room.]  Also the renegade guardsman who fled is fiddling with a key at a door on the wall to his right.  Sanjay calls on him to stop or be set on fire like his fellows.  He considers that for a moment, then drops to his knees and surrenders, pleading that it wasn't his idea.  Axios and Slade rush upstairs in search of the renegade's leader, Vankaskerkin.  [Axios has a bit of trouble here with the teleport to the upstairs map.]  Upstairs, Vankaskerkin and Talla face off, armed.  Axios casts a spell magically weakening the renegade.  The guardsman suddenly becomes pale and slumps.  Ashe rushes upstairs to join them, as does Crow-Eye.  Talla advises him to drop his weapon.  Downstairs, Sanjay takes the key from the surrendered fellow and assures him that we are here for Vankaskerkin and if he is innocent he will not be harmed.

Vankaskerkin sees the game is up and drops his weapon.  Vankaskerkin asks if the guards sent us.  Axios says what guards?  Vankaskerkin says the royal castle guards.  He asks what happened downstairs, claiming he and his fellows were just selling meat here.  Talla points out Vankaskerkin and his fellow guards deserted their posts.  Vankaskerkin counters that a lot of guards went astray in the rioting.  Talla says he should come back to the castle.  Vankaskerkin agrees.  Crow-Eye and Ashe go investigate one of the other rooms off the main abbatoir room, finding a meat salting room.  After looking around a bit, they think some of the meat looks a bit odd--like, as in not any of the meats you'd typically find at the corner butcher shop.

Talla takes Vankaskerkin's weapons and leads him downstairs.  On the way, Talla glances into a side room upstairs and sees a silver dagger stabbed into papers on a desk.  She leaves the prisoner with Axios and enters to look closer.  It is a makeshift bedroom.  She notices the silver dagger is quite exquisite and examines it more closely.  Vankaskerkin tells Talla it is his, given to him by a friend.  Talla says it must not be very important if he's leaving it behind.  Vankaskerkin says it's not important if he's being arrested.  Talla points out that he is not being formally arrested because she is not a guard.  Vankaskerkin calls her a mercenary.  They go downstairs.

Ashe and Crow-Eye argue a bit over what exactly is the odd meat.  [We now encounter some problems with lighting vs. vision in some rooms.  We discuss how this may be due to how the rooms are outlined.  Dan notes that if would be better if  places we've visited should appear on the map, even if we can't see into them.  Kaiser says it should be like in the Diablo games where the map areas you've explored remain visible, but grayed out if you're not there.  Mike says you can have rooms be visible but put monsters on the GM layer and change their visibility when someone can see them.  Bill notes that he's working on some programming to make something like that happen.]  Ashe informs us that he's noticed something definitely odd about the meat.  Crow-Eye asks what sort of meat is in here.  The other captive impudently says it's just pig and cow.  Ashe tells him to eat some, but he refuses on the grounds that it's raw.  Ashe cuts off a chunk and waves it at him, trying to get him to eat some.  The fellow insists it wasn't his idea.  Sanjay demands he explain what's going on. He says it was Parn's idea.  The renegades did a couple jobs as hired muscle for various people, but Parns would bring back parts of their victims to sell as meat.  He notes that Parns is one of those burned to death earlier.  Sanjay is shocked.

As we prepare to leave, Talla asks our captives if anyone else is still here and they say not.  Crow-Eye impulsively decides to investigate another room off of the main abbatoir.  It is a long room, smelling of manure.  There are holding pens for animals with water troughs, including a large wild boar--no two wild boars!  The first boar panics and rushes Crow-Eye, but slips and slams into the wall.  The other boar then rushes Ashe, who has followed Crow-Eye, and gores him!  Talla shouts out to ask what's happening and Ashe shouts back "It's a pig!"  Talla shouts back at him "Well, deal with it!"  It now becomes apparent that there are at least two boars loose in the holding pen area.

Sanjay now ties up the surrendered guard to hand over to the authorities, based on his admission that he knew cannibalism was going on. 

Crow-Eye summons an earth elemental to fight the boar and backs out of the melee.  One boar attacks the elemental.  Ashe struggles to hit the other boar and calls for help.  Talla reluctantly heads in and sees the two enraged boars.  Sanjay's rope tying goes poorly and it all just falls off.  [We have a discussion about where the heck "Use Rope" skill went, then realize that was a 3.5 skill and did not port over to Pathfinder.  Mike looks around and finds that it is now Craft: Knotwork.  Never heard of it.] While the struggle continues in the pens, Axios asks Vankaskerkin how many boars there are.  Vankaskerkin has no idea and the two casually decide to just head back to the castle.   Ashe engages the boar again, cutting it a bit.  It fights back, injuring Ashe badly.  Talla leaps in, twin blades flashing.  The elemental kills one boar. 

Sanjay ties his captive up again--this time he's sure the ropes are well-tied--and pushes him along to join Axios. Slade, and Vankaskerkin in the hall.  (The porcine scuffle in the pens is quite beneath his dignity.)  Talla, Ashe, and Crow-Eye continue the battle with the remaining wild boar.  Talla maneuvers and double back-stabs it to gory death.

[Axios texts "Let's get some hands - never know when you'll meet llamas... "]

[DM Kirk swaps us over to the castle map--without warning which leaves us all concerned that maybe we all just got teleported to the Death Temple of Orcus or something.  With lighting fixed we see we're outside the main door to the castle. The teleport spot on the main steps out front works great and moves us to the entry hall.  We teleport again up to another floor.]
Upstairs at the castle Seska meets us full of excitement.  She notes that the queen is exonerated even though no doppleganger was found.  Suddenly a guard barrels through a doorway with people shouting behind him and knocks Seska down.  Seska gets up--but actually two Seskas get up! It's the doppleganger!!  But which one!!  We stare confused for a moment.  Only Crow-Eye notices that one of the Seskas is holding a dagger with a bit of blood on it.

Slade prepares a spell and shouts for the Seskas to hold.  Crow-Eye summons an eagle to attack the one with the bloody dagger.  Slade blasts the same "Seska" with bolts of fiery magic.  Sanjay casts a spell allowing him to discern the the moral depravity of persons in his sight.  The "Seska" not being attacked has an aura of evilness and Sanjay points to her and shouts "That one is evil, I see it!"  Axios shoots a ray to enfeeble but his aim is poor.  Ashe moves up and menaces the evil "Seska" to surrender.  The evil "Seska" stabs Talla, but is felled.  In death the creature reverts back to its hideous self.  Other guards rush in and the queen arrives.  We see that the queen is injured and Ashe moves to heal her.  Meanwhile we hand the two captured renegades over to the custody of the castle guards.  We reassure the queen that the thing is dead.  Axios congratulates himself on figuring out that it would be a doppleganger.

Seska relates that the Senschal figured out who the doppleganger was.  She she also reports that the queen has pardoned her mother and herself.  Talla notes that this means that now she doesn't have to guard Seska any more.  We enter the throne room and see our school headmaster, along with Lord Yager of the banking house, Lord Zenderhome, and Lady Alessia of House Leroung, and Sabina the queen's bodyguard.  Marshall Croft is there but takes her leave to see to the captured renegades.  A guard enters and says that Venster cannot be found in the castle.  Seska opines that perhaps "Venster" was the doppleganger all along.

[DM Kirk now clears all NPCs off the map simply my shifting them to the DM layer.]

The headmaster scolds us for leaving the Academae without permission.  He says he expects to see us back there in the morning. 

The queen asks if Seska would like to stay, impressed that our group was loyal to her and believed in her.  The queen asks Seska to be her wizardly bodyguard.  She also asks Talla to be a personal bodyguard as well and Talla agrees--providing she gets leave from the headmistress of the University.  We take a little while to wash up and refresh ourselves, the queen offering her the use of her personal bath.  [At this point Steve's token gets stuck on a pillar for a short while some how as we navigate through the castle to the royal bath.] 

Kirk now shifts us to another map--the Academae!  <insert screenshot>  Kirk shows us our dorm room and how to use the door-teleport to go from the room to the outdoor map.