Saturday, August 12, 2017

Books that give a historical overview of tabletop RPGs

I am too old to now enjoy tabletop RPGs. I don't have it in me anymore to suspend disbelief and or even have the time and interest to devote to it. However, I remain interested in the hobby from a distance and can be, when I'm in the right mood, nostalgic about the good old days in the early 80s when RPGs were new and exciting.  

A generation later, enough time has passed for more books out there that are giving the hobby an historical overview and not just "let's celebrate 40 years of D&D" coffee table book kind-of-thing.

I have several books in physical hardcopy that are not yet on Kindle..


as well as one on my Kindle.



Lawrence Schick's Heroic Worlds


My first foray into these types of books was back in the mid 1990s, with Lawrence Schick's encyclopedic-ish Heroic Worlds.


While there was some discussion by key players, what I loved about this book when it came out was the listing of every 1980s RPG and supplement (and every edition of such) with a brief description for each.


A typical page in Heroic Worlds:


What was great about this when I got this in the 1990s was it was a perfect source at the time for my collection mania of getting 1980s RPGs that I never owned. It was very synchronistic for my collection phase as when I got this book, being the late 1990s, it was also a time for the brand new ebay service to come along where people started to post their stuff on line.

For 1970s and 1980s collectors, I can't emphasize how useful Heroic Worlds is.

Rick Swan's The Complete Guide to Role Playing Games 




was less encyclopedic and certainly a lot less meat-on-the-bones than Heroic Worlds. It is more light as it is a brief romp through major 1980s RPGs. However, this sort of book, along with Heroic Worlds, was the only book of it's kind in the 1990s that I came across that gave an overview of the hobby. For what it was, and though dated now, I found it enjoyable reading it in the 1990s and made me nostalgic for the previous decade's more care-free days.

A typical page:



Fast forward to the current time, I am seeing more and more meatier books on the history of RPGs, which I have not had time to read, but will do so soon, and hopefully, give a book review.

What I am not really interested in however, are the current spate of books that deal with the history of just D&D and AD&D..





I own those mid-1970s D&D books, and to be honest, they leave me cold and uninspired. They are even more plain than my 1980s games, which were plain with crude drawings to start with.


Besides, I personally was more of a sci fi RPGer in the 1980s, and not really into D&D and I really disliked TSR back then

Jon Peterson's Playing the World

Playing the World is the fist meatier history of RPGs that I've come across.


My D&D and TSR curiosity itch, if any, was scratched in Peterson, as he describes how insurance salesman Gygax modified Chainmail and traces the step by step inspiration for D&D back in 1974. He goes into depth about Gygax and how it all came about. I highly recommend this book to those interested in the history of the tabletop RPG hobby.

If I ever have time to read this again, I will give a more in-depth book review.

Shannon Appelcline Designers and Dragons.



On my reading list is Designers and Dragons, by Shannon Appelcline. It seems to be a series of four volumes, focusing each on RPGs of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s.



I might get the 1970s volume, if it comes out in Kindle, and if there is some discussion about GDW and Traveller, but I am primarily interested in my heyday in the 1980s.
 
I remember in the 1990s being dismayed at the bizarre titles that were coming out like Vampire the Masquerade and such, and have no desire to read up on that.

This grumpy old man also can't relate to RPGing in the 2000s as well, so I'll pass on that volume.

Anyways, I got the 1980s volume and it looks as interesting as Peterson's book.

 
Some of the titles in the book seem to echo my observations back in the 1980s about the RPG. Flipping the book just now to take a photo for instance, I see there is a sub heading called "The End of TV RPGS: 1986-1989"...



Being a big FASA Star Trek fan, as well as playing WEG's Star Wars, precisely in those years, I too noticed there were not many TV based RPGs after that. Like I said, it got less TV based and more weird after that. Already I am impressed and I haven't even read it yet.

Anyways, I look forward to reading the 1980s volume of Designers and Dragons and will give a book review hopefully in the near future.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

My workbench: Building some quick and easy mdf industrial terrain for Shadow War

After I played my first session of Shadow War Armageddon with my friend Jeff (as discussed here), I promised him I'd play again.

Only, I didn't feel, and still don't, that we have enough terrain. Though I bought some of GW's Shadow War terrain, I am not yet in the mood to assemble and paint such large projects.

However, I have and continue to order some cheap terrain, mostly mdf, that should suit our purposes.

I quickly banged together 5 different terrain products, about 15 pieces, which should be good enough for now.

I did not focus too much on super golden demon type of paint work, as my buddies don't seem to be the appreciative kind when it comes to terrain aesthetics. 

Hab Block 2 Iron Gulch


First up is a metal building from Lasercut Architect, called Hab Block 2 Iron Gulch that I bought off ebay. I have since ordered Hab Block 1 and the Diner.

This building can be used from modern, to post-apoc, to near and far future sci fi settings.

I assembled it quickly enough..





 

I just copied the metal and slightly rusting paintjob from the company's website, and all in all, it didn't take me long.





Observation Towers

Next up, I had 2 Bandua observation towers called Exagona Industrial and High Square Industrial Tower, both useful for sniper action..




More assembling and gluing on with the carpenter's glue than the Iron Gulch building..









The main drawback I find with mdf terrain.. and it's great and cheap, don't get me wrong.. is that sometimes, my stubby fingers push too hard and I break delicate pieces. I do this every time, no matter how careful I am.

I did it here as well, breaking some railing, and had to repair it with green stuff...



I dirtied it up and highlighted with metallic paint along some edges.



Mdf Storage containers

I got this no name mdf from ebay, that contains parts for six sided containers, and their frame that are used to carry them.. Can be used for modern and sci- fi I think.



I found the six sided containers a bit tricky to assemble, but finally came upon a technique to stand one end, and glue around that.



The frames were a bit easier to assemble..



I did not see the door parts that were to be used for the first one that I assembled until it was too late, so I decided to leave the container door open on all four of them..




As a solution,  I glued together a door panel with the bits I got from the other kits..



I notice that shipping containers have lots of markings on them, so I cut out identifying marks on cardboard and company logos and spray painted them on. The trick with cardboard stencils, is to just lightly tap from a distance the spray can, let it dry, and repeat two or three times. Don't spray too much paint at once.



After that, I just dry brushed some metallic paint and dirtied them up to make them look worn out.  Looked good enough when finally finished..






Micro Arts Studio shipping containers

Lastly, I have some hard foam shipping containers from Micro Arts Studio.. No assembly required..


Like I did before, I made some lettering for the containers. 


After that, like with the shipping containers above, I just dry brushed some metallic paint to make it look worn out. 



All in all, a productive weekend.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Battlestar Galactica starfighter combat using X-Wing rules

My friend Jim and I must be part of the extremely rare group of people on the planet who's very very first X-Wing: the Miniatures game battle was not in the Star Wars universe. We're probably the only ones ever to have their very first X-Wing game not only not be in the Star Wars universe, but in the original series mind you, not the new reboot, of the Battlestar Galactica universe.

You know, the really cheesy one from the late 70s starring Lorne Greene. It was cheesy back then when I was a kid, but I did not realize how cheesy it was until I recently saw it again. It is soooo bad, it's good.

I have plenty of Star Wars X-Wing miniatures mind you, but just wanted to change things up a bit.



I suspect also it's because over 30 years ago, for one reason or another, I never could get my hands on the FASA Battlestar Galactica starfighter game. It was from the same guys who did the Star Trek Starship Combat Game, which I loved, so perhaps this was my chance to get it out of my system.


But I digress. 

Jim and I are familiar with the flight path system as we've played Star Trek Attack Wing, and recently, Sails of Glory, before. 

Like I did with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, I ordered some 3D Printed X-Wing sized ships (1/270) from Shapeways last year, and I only recently did a quick paint job on them in anticipation of my friend Jim coming over today.






I also copied the stats for the X-Wing fighter (Red Squadron) to the Colonial Viper, and the no-shields plain Tie Fighter for the Cylon Raider. I also used the stats for Wedge Antilles for Captain Apollo and an elite Tie fighter pilot for the Golden Command Centurion.

A quick and easy paint program to change the pictures, and voila, I got their stats cards and printed them out in colour.


In the original series, the Cylon raiders seemed easily destroyed, so it was easy for me to use the stats for the Tie Fighter, which seems equally flimsy with no shields. 

We had a simple 102 point each game facing off each other, and used a derelict space station in the middle as a navigation hazard. My 8 ships vs his 5.




We met in the middle, and my squad broke off in two to envelope the pesky humans..


On both the left





and the right,








 
On the left, my ships jammed up and it took awhile from all that dog fighting to get sorted out..



While on the right, there were lots of Crazy Ivan maneuvers on both sides, with accompanying stress on our engines, and somehow there was more space between us..



We twisted and turned, and at point blank sometimes, we let each other have it. Barrel rolls, evasives, etc.. Still, Jim's Colonial Vipers, using X-Wing stats, had shields, while my Cylon Raiders, like the Tie fighters, didn't, and the pounding I would get seemed harder than me just blowing down Jim's shields.








I tried to hammer time and time again Captain Apollo, but Jim managed to eke out adequate defence rolls every time.

On the right, I chased Captain Apollo.. to quote Khan from Star Trek, I chased him " round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom and round perdition's flames".. 

Okay, okay, maybe not that far... but I chased him so much so that the battle on the right, which started on my side, then flipped over and went full tilt on on the other side, toward Jim's side..







On the left, I took a gamble that one of Jim's wounded Vipers would bank left, but I guessed wrong and he banked right...



So, a chase on the left as well, and now both left and right, we both dogpiled on to Jim's side..

I finally lost my gold Command Centurion, when he was caught between two of the Vipers, while some of my other guys were still coming over to Jim's side of the map, trailing.






Both Jim and I had heroic saves on our green defensive dice, so even though casualties on both sides piled up, as you can see in my Cylon Raider cemetery off to the side..


neither side broke off the attack, as we both still did Crazy Ivans and opened up at point blank, sometimes not making a scratch..



Of the thirteen ships, only 3 were left at the end, 1 Cylon Raider, 1 Viper and Captain Apollo in his Viper. Jim's Captain Apollo's Viper took 2 damage and had 1 hull point left. One more hit, and he would be destroyed.  Jim rightfully thought Apollo was a goner..



However, it came down to at the end to the fact that Jim's Captain Apollo got to fire first as he was the best pilot on the board..

Sure enough, like something out of the TV show, the heroic son of Adama, Captain Apollo, fired the lucky shot that destroyed my last raider, allowing his and the other viper, badly damaged, to go home.





Very TV episodic, Jim..

 --

We also did a game 2, strictly Star Wars, and tried out the bigger ships, my Slave 1 vs the Millennial Falcon..

The battle was okay, but just 2 ships, however big, is not as fun as the 13 ship free-for-all we had just before.. though I did like using the Seismic Charges, for a win.





All in all, it was a good session and a good couple of centars, no matter how fecklegarb the day went for the frakkin' Toasters.