Monday, November 13, 2017

Gonzo Sci-Fantasy - What is it?

Hello all,

It's been a bit since I blogged on gaming in general. Life has taken over and I am pretty sure that blogs have been relegated to a bit of an old guard status, replaced by Facebook groups and YouTube channels but as I started here, I thought I would revisit this realm of communication to begin talking about some things that have come to mind for RPGs, miniatures and gaming in general. To start this return, I would like to talk about gonzo sci-fantasy.

This is the sort of fantasy that really used to the be the norm back in the days when I first started gaming. Fantasy itself was a lot more wondrous and over the top and hadn't learned to take itself so seriously. But this form of fantasy went a step further and intertwined itself with science fiction. Worlds built on this foundation were full of odd mash-ups of knights on robot horses, ray-gun wielding folks clad in strangely medieval garb, or laser word wielding barbarians. Monsters were often simple, odd-ball and a bit goofy. 

Sometimes it was as simple as adding a techno prefix or suffix to and existing medieval/fantasy word or crushing together two words to make strange compound words. This was most frequently done when naming equipment and creatures as it provided an instant reference point for what such a thing was. In cartoons of this sort, these combos were often as blatant as they sounded and seeing the critter on the old 480p TV screen after school or Saturday mornings left zero question what it was. 

Some of the best examples of this from my own childhood and recently, thanks to Netflix, my adulthood are cartoons such as Blackstar, He-Man, She-Ra and, Thundarr the Barbarians even Thundercats. These shows were masters of "punny", forced, literal combinations of words and concepts into some memorable bits. I recall fondly wielding a broomstick as Thundarr's Sun Sword and battlling imaginary foes that were odd robotic versions of mythological creatures or wacky hybrids. 

In the early days of RPGs these things were not foreign to players and we saw much of this sort of fantasy bleed over into D&D and even more so Gamma World. Whole adventures such as "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" was a D&D adventure that through the party into a crashed spaceship where fantasy and science fiction collided. Meanwhile, Gamma World often presented technology in the hands of post-apocalyptic savages as magic, indistinguishable to those people from true mystical abilities. The presence of psionics is another note of science fiction in fantasy as psionics or psychic powers have a long history of being magic explained as science.

So, there you have it. A brand of fantasy that was, for many of us, part of a splendid, wondrous childhood that has since gone to the wayside. It's fun, it's forgiving, and it is pretty simple to do. In my next post in this series, I'll look at some ways to run such a setting using tools you already have available in your existing collection of RPGs.

Take care,

And get out and game.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Set Fantasy to Low - Low Fantasy Gaming RPG


It has been a bit since I posted about RPG products but I felt that it was time.

Recently I discovered a set of rules for low fantasy gaming aptly named, "Low Fantasy Gaming". It is an independent game written and produced by S. J. Grodzicki and it works hard to produce a game that appears, upon initial perusal, much like an OSR game but with further reading it becomes clear there is a bit more going on.

Available as a free PDF or print through Lulu, the rules make an honest and successful attempt to blend old and new fantasy RPG conventions into a game than provides an old school while accepting that some good ideas have come out of the new school, mixing situational modifiers with and advantage/disadvantage mechanic that I love from D&D 5E.
Classes are handled in a pretty standard fashion with lower level maximums and a lower power ability creep than one might be used to in higher fantasy games. There are some interesting collaborative elements in character advancement, with the GM and player working together at certain levels to create unique abilities for the character. This is a subtle, simple mechanism that really relies on the old school idea that the DM is a force of ruling in a game and not just a referee of dice and printed rules. It also helps for each character to develop uniquely, something that is often lost in games with everything spelled out along a character's career path.

Monsters are handled with a simple, old school style, short format that allows for a really quick reference when needed. Statistics are kept to a minimum with monsters being kept special through certain power moves or a Boss Monster template that can beef up any monster to make it a greater challenge. Monster categories help by applying blanket rules to broad groups of monsters rather than spilling out abilities and vulnerabilities repetitively on every monster description.

The rest of the game is filled out by various sets of rules for situations like chases and environmental rules. There are magic items but, keeping with the low fantasy angle, they are handled slightly different than most fantasy RPGs. The goal is to keep them unique and scarce and to make items of power and wonder seem truly as such.

The game is supported by a Patreon that provides a steady stream of mini-adventures at $1 per structure. The adventures are put together in a clean, professional short layout that packs a lot into a few pages (the largest I have is 11 pages). Each of these is good as they are but could also be chained together  or expanded upon for longer adventures. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

20 Leagues Under My Belt - Living Statue

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While technically not an entire league, I wanted to post this latex adversary paint-up. This is a plastic stone or claw golem miniatures from the Reaper Bones line. I have cut it from its original base to help with an issue in how the plastic legs were positioned and re-based it. This is a simple paint job with a brown base coat, yellow sand wet-brushing, then a washing with brown tone from Army Painter, over which I did a drybrushing of a lighter sand color to highlight. 

Figures such as these are indispensable for Pulp Alley. They can pop up everywhere from tombs to desert ruins or even in the ranks of villainous leagues. They are also great for museum scenarios, art galleries, rampaging through the city after being mistakenly awakened. There just aren't enough uses for an animated statue. This particular miniatures is extra useful as it is quite generic in it style and could easily be placed in any number of cultures.

20 Leagues Under My Belt - Two Curious Fellows

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It's been a bit since I dipped my brush and got some color on my way too big collection of pulp miniatures.

This latest duo is made from a modified Copplestone Miniature and a chimp from a company that escapes me at the moment. These two should look quite familiar to anyone who grew up reading the antics of a certain inquisitive simian and his mustard-hued caretaker. 

The newer Pulp Alley league rules allow players to make leagues as a small as two characters. This is great for players on a budget or looking to get into the game with minimal painting or miniatures purchases. It also allows players to field those famous dues, dynamic and otherwise, that are such a solid part of the genre. I think for this league I'll write the ape up as the leader.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ganesha Games "Star Eagles" - Kickstarter is Live!

Star Eagles Game Box Concept 

I know I sort of trailed off on posting news about the Star Eagle Kickstarter. Life got in the way and I had things that better deserved my attention. However, I have continued ot follow the development of this project and it is now live.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Elf Bait - Bad Sessions Happen

Hear how a recent game went a bit south and my thoughts and how to deal with it...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ganesha Games "Star Eagles" - Explaining Fighter Activation in Star Eagles

So, it would appear that I missed a few posts on the Star Eagles Facebook while I was attending to some family business. This has led to me posting updates a bit out of order. Things are returning to normal for me, so I should be able to keep up but please enjoy this post regarding how Fighter Activation works in Star Eagles. 

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Those already familiar with other Ganesha Games such as Song of Blades and Heroes or Galleys and Galleon will already have some familiarity with the basic of how unit activation works, but STAR EAGLES has some notable differences. 

When a ship activates, it will have an opportunity to move, attack, and perform other special activities such as scanning. Everything a ship does in Star Eagles is called an action. There are three types of actions; free actions, normal actions, and reactions.

Free actions can be performed without using any pilot actions and are primarily just basic movement and basic turning. Normal actions require the use of pilot actions and these include advanced manoeuvres, shooting, launching missiles, scanning and other activities. Reactions are opportunities the pilot may have to take an action outside a ship's normal activation as a result of enemy activity occurring nearby. 

When a Starfighter has an opportunity to activate it may choose to roll dice to get pilot action points to spend during its activation. The number of actions it gets will be determined by the Pilot's quality and the amount of risk the player want to take when activating. The controlling player may choose to roll 1,2, or 3 dice. The players choice. Each dice that rolls equal or higher than the pilots Quality rating provides one action point for the ship. These points will be spent during the ship's activation to perform 'normal' actions. Dice that roll below the quality of the pilot are called an activation failure. If a player rolls two or more failed dice during an activation, the opponent may take the initiative if he doesn't already have it or draw a COMBAT CARD.

COMBAT CARDS are highly useful tools which I will explain in a later post.
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