Sunday, September 21, 2008

In Which The Warlock Gains a New Form of Geekdom...

In all my years of gaming--since about 6th grade, all be told--I've never been that high on using miniatures. Truth be told, I never really had the money for it. Out of all the friends that I played table-top D&D with, my family was the poorest. As such, I couldn't exactly just ask my parents to plop down much needed cash for little plastic or lead-based army men.

So, we improvised. We used our imaginations. We fudged things. Who cared if you were 5 feet away, if it meant laying the smackdown on the big nasty?! The focus was on the drama, the action, the combat.

However, I couldn't help but feel like I was missing something. Minis were the unknown territory for me...and while I suppose I feigned disinterest, I've always been intregued by them, whether ogling the massive battle set-ups at Origins or watching the Warhammer 40k battles at WittCon II. And now with 4e out there? It was time to make a switch in perspective.

So, I finally gave in. The PlatinumChick has always liked minis-painting, and I had even gotten her a quality set of paints for her birthday this past August. As such, when this past Wittenberg Game Day arrived, and there were few takers for most of the games, I decided to give the painting gig a go.

Now, mind you, I'm horrible at art. Completely. My stick figures come out lopsided. But, for whatever reason, I was actually able to put together a few satisfactory efforts.

I started with an elven archer--Jathalain, for those of you that read the Saltmarsh Diaries, and then moved onto a massive skeleton, and then rounded out my evening by working on a blackguard fig I had picked up more recently.

Overall, things didn't turn out too badly. Our brushes weren't always cooperative--particularly the fine detail brush, which was bent to at least a 60 degree angle--and the number of times I had to re-do certain sections was incalculable, but the end results were more than satisfactory.

The level of strain and the like, though, is massive, and it makes me all the more impressed with the wargaming-minis crowd, who put together massive armies in no time at all. I got a headache partway through painting the giant skeleton, and decided to stop and play a quick game of Yetisburg (yes, that's spelled right, and don't try to tell me there weren't Yetis and War Mammoths at Pickett's Charge).

Pics will be forthcoming, once the PlatinumChick fixes my now-broken camera. Grrr...

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Which The Warlock is Late...

...due to the power outages in the Greater Miami Valley over the weekend, I was unable to get together an update. Expect one later this week, once things are more situated!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

In Which The Warlock Doesn't Geek Out For Once...

This weekend, instead of our usual routine of sitting around Lionel's dining room table and playing Arkham Horror, the PlatinumChick and I headed down for a mini-vacation before she finally begins her Masters' degree program at Wright State. As such, I figured I'd share some of the details here...

We began with something of some hectic errand-running before heading down through Cincinnati towards Newport-on-the-Levee, in Kentucky. I had never been in this region before, aside from a brief field trip to the Reds' Stadium two years prior. I was rather impressed at the set-up to be had down there, as the area felt like an outdoor piazza, complete with street vendors and the like, in amongst the upscale bistros and such.

Jules had been wanting to head to Newport Aquarium for quite a while, so I didn't disappoint--it was our first stop. The aquarium itself, though, was something of a disappointment. A few years ago, when we had spent spring break in Gatlinburg, we had spent an afternoon at the impressive Ripley's Aquarium, which was a pleasant treat--I hadn't expected an exhibition by the infamous "Ripley's Believe it or Not!" to be so well constructed and thought out. However, Newport Aquarium was something of a let-down by comparison. Jules' big thrust for seeing Newport again was their new "Frog Bog" exhibit, which was much vaunted. In reality, though, it was a tiny exhibit aimed mainly at children, with no more actual frogs than your average pet store.

After the aquarium, we walked around the plaza for a while before settling on a Brio Tuscan Grille for dinner. We were not disappointed in any sense. Coming just before the dinner rush, we were seated quickly just off of the main dining room. We began the meal with a pitcher of Mango Bellini--a light, margarita type drink made with prosecco--and an order of Bruschetta Caprese, which was everything one could hope from in a bruschetta: fragrent, delicate, and bursting with flavor.

Jules enjoyed a meal of chicken with a butternut squash risotto, which filled her up nearly to bursting, while I indulged my fetish for pesto. My pasta came in a creamy pesto sauce, coupled with roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh buffalo mozzerella. I often joke that when I've had a good meal--usually at Jeet--I waddle out of the place. I was waddling, coming out of Brio. Stuffed with enough garlic to kill a dozen vampires, we headed north of the city and found ourselves a room.

Today, we slept in at the hotel (in a massive king size bed!), before heading out for two places with a uniqueness all their own: Ikea and Jungle Jim's.

Now, I've been to an Ikea before. When one moved into Moon Township, just outside of Pittsburgh International Airport, my parents jumped on it with both feet. I may not have been able to enjoy it then, but now? My how times have changed.

Jules and I had been searching for a hanging wall-organizer for years, with no luck. Now, we have one, which was apparently dubbed "Luns".

An aside...Ikea amuses me to no end. I'm not sure whether it's a cognate thing or not, but many of their lines of furniture have human-esque names. Billy is a type of bookshelf, while Benno is the accompanying CD/DVD tower--apparently they're friends? However, they don't like Jeff the folding chair, and often talk behind his back to Hermann, the dining room chair.

I wish I was kidding. :D

After roaming around Ikea for the better part of 2-3 hours, we headed to Jungle Jim's to pick up some victuals. Jungle Jim's is like no other supermarket on earth. Specializing in organic foods and world cuisine, we go there to pick up kitchen supplies as well as Indian foodstuffs. This time, in addition to our usual foods, Jules picked up some sashimi grade tuna--looks like she'll be eating well for a while!

So, now we're back home with some new furnishings, quite a bit of relaxation, and some readiness for the coming week. Here's for hoping it'll be a quick one!

Monday, September 01, 2008

In Which The Warlock Fails to Deliver a Climax...

So, our much lauded Dark Heresy game has reached its end. And, if I may say so, it was something of a letdown.

I often joke with my players about my record of PK-ing. To say the least, I have a pretty lethal record in my games. To my credit, prior to Friday, I've only had one "true" TPK--one of my Ravenloft games, during college. Sure, my one-shots typically end out with a higher-than-average body count, but in campaign terms, there's generally a pretty high success rate.

As such, my joking was taken in stride as I set up a massive map of a quarantined morgue that the characters were set to investigate. I had anticipated that, if I was in fact going to kill them that night, it would probably be in there, fighting Daemons. Instead, they died in a car crash.

Let me set the stage for you, O Gentle Reader. Fred's Guardsman, Karn (better known as Karnnold, when he's talking like the svelte Austrian), has all of two actual skills to his credit--Drive Land Vehicle and Survival. So, Fred jumps on any opportunity to use these skills with both feet. Figuring that Drive might be useful here, I ask him for a Drive check, thinking that a success would lead them straight to the morgue without incident, while a massive failure might lead them through ganger territory.

Massive failure ensues. The characters start noticing thugs, armed with miniguns and the like, start to surround their ground transport.

Now, Chris, playing the Imperial Psyker Sigismund, works the same way as Fred...only he has psychic powers. He immediately jumps into action by casting Aura of Fear. He succeeds in high style, forcing a Willpower save from everyone around him--including the party, locked in the transport with him.

At this point, I should note that Nick's Cleric (the leader of the group), has a Willpower score of something close to 60.

Massive failure ensues. While Jule's Scum and Karn succeeds, both Will's Psyker and Nick's Cleric fail. They watch as phantasmal insects and snakes stream out Sigismund's mouth and start covering the floor and walls of the transport. Nick, notably freaked out, attempts to shoulder-block open the back hatch...and succeeds with a critical success.

With Nick's cleric now rolling on the ground, and the door flapping open, I immediately ask for a Drive roll from Fred to keep control of the vehicle.

Massive failure ensues, again. The transport ends up clipping a light pole on the passenger side and another Drive roll is asked for.

Yeah, you guessed it. Massive failure and all that jazz. The transport bounces off of the light pole and swings, ass-end first, into a nearby bar, croweded with patrons. The transport catches on fire, and everyone takes (as I roll) 30 damage.

Let me enlighten something right here. Dark Heresy isn't quite like D&D in terms of hit points. In DH, 8 points is a severe wound, and 12-15 wounds will take you right out of the fight and make you a greasy smear. 30 damage? They're cleaning you up with a sponge and a mop.

As such, it's Game Over. As the players found out, Imperial Planet Scintilla is later destroyed by the Tyrant Star, summoned by their mysterious decohedron.

And now? Well, it seems that my campaign world might just be getting some exercise. Jules has volunteered to start up a 6th level 4e game, using my world, and we spent the rest of the session writing up characters. My Dwarven Rogue is ready to jump into action!