Friday, June 9, 2023

I’m a fanboy, part 2

 Gaming is a big part of my life now that I retired from teaching many years ago. I played Melee and Wizard in the early 80s. Mostly I played it solo with the Death Test and Death Test 2 micro quests. I added Advanced Melee, Advance Wizard, and In The Labyrinth and every other micro quest I could find in my FLGS (friendly local game store). The times being what they were I got too busy with school, job, and family and my games gathered dust in the closet. 

Years went by and then Steve Jackson won back the rights to the games he had created. I jumped on the opportunity to be part of the Kickstarter for the Legacy edition of The Fantasy Trip. Through the internet I met two local guys who were putting together a group to play TFT. One owned my FLGS and we started playing there on Monday nights. 

I started this post months ago and have forgotten where I was going with it.

So let me catch up on what been happening. Our gaming group, which varies from 4 to 6 people, has been on the same campaign now for close to two years. We're playing using the White Box Medieval Fantasy Adventure Game rules (Old School Renaissance), an updated version of the original D&D game. Many of our characters have reached level 5-6. We've lost a few along the way. My son has bad luck with clerics in particular.

Some nights we don't have enough people to continue the adventure. When that happens we fall back on other choices, most commonly playing a quick HeroQuest. Recently though Joe (our DM) offered us the opportunity to play a one-shot of Mörk Borg. According to their website "MÖRK BORG is a pitch-black apocalyptic fantasy RPG about lost souls and fools seeking redemption, forgiveness or the last remaining riches in a bleak and dying world." The mechanics are simple enough and there is a character generator on the site so you can quickly create a character or two (or three. You'll go through them fast. My son and I had a great time playing the initial adventure, Rotblack Sludge.

I guess this page has expanded from just posts about The Fantasy Trip, a game I still love and continue collecting materials for, but now it is so much more as my gaming horizons have grown. Next post I think I'll talk about my ever growing dice collection.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Back to the Beginnings

My first exposure to table top gaming was the Avalon Hill board game Gettysburg. My mom bought it for me shortly after it came out in the sixties. She had no idea how complicated it was. I skimmed through the rules, but didn’t get far. Other than moving the chits around the map I never actually played the game.

Years later I came home from the Air Force and started hanging out with a couple of younger high school friends, Jim and Gerald. I joined them in their activities of building and launching model rockets. I think we broke every safety rule with the exception of using metal parts. We also built model ironclads using balsa wood and thin aluminum sheet armor, and then had battles where we shot at them with BB guns.

Our most elaborate endeavor was trying to replay the naval war in the Pacific in World War II. Our mastermind, Gerald, was using the SeaPower II rules and 1:1200 waterline models made by Alnavco. To supplement our meager (and expensive) metal ships, he cut out and glued together an balsa wood fleet of everything from battleships, carriers, and cruisers all the way down to destroyers and submarines. 

Using ships in 1:1200 scale is not something you play on a table top. I've seen photos of scenarios that were played out on the floor of a gymnasium. We played in my mother's living room. With the time needed to setup, movement, measure ranges, refer to gunnery tables and recording hits and damage of multiple targets, not to mention air battles of opposing carriers, the battles would literally take days to play. Thankfully the room was not used for entertaining a bridge club and Mom was forgiving of the mess. It all ended after the US Navy (me) was soundly defeated in a battle in which all of the American carriers were sunk and the American admiral (me) threw a fit.

That didn't end our friendships. We are still close in spirit although we are separated by time and space. Gerald went on to build wind tunnel models. Jim and I both became teachers. We all have families and lives that have separated us from our youthful endeavors.

Somewhere in my attic there is a box that contains the few metal waterline models I own. Waiting for another battle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022



There is a lot of truth in that cartoon. I love creating backstories for my characters, but so far the back story doesn’t fit into the campaign’s storyline. 

My dwarf character is a thief. He has multiple aliases to hide his true identity. I’ve been playing fairly straightforward, just being your basic thief (who tends to roll badly when using his thief skills). 

Then something happened. I love it when a PC takes on a life of his own. Ulfgard had a traumatic experience last week. The party had taken on the task of ridding the sewers below Virconium of the rat men that inhabited it and were stealing from the town. 

As all adventurers know well, all sorts of vermin reside in sewers. Rats, giant rats, and rat men are just the tip of the iceberg. Our party had a random encounter with a giant catfish. It randomly chose to bite Ulfgard. He suffered a horrible wound and nearly was swallowed whole by the great beast. The party survived the encounter and the fish swam away, but Ulfgard’s mind was torn. 

Now in Joe’s (our GM) world, the Shattered Kingdom of Valenor, dwarves are not born of women like humans, elves, and other humanoid races. They are carved out of a rare stone and brought to life by their parent in The Sacred Ritual of the Forge God Klanggeddin. When Ulfgard was created there were flaws in his stone. He was created with a tendency to having multiple personalities. That may help explain him becoming a thief and being banished from his clan for stealing a rare family jewel. I.e he is not right in the head. 

Ulfgard’s personality fractured and his saw himself as an “Ahab” to the great white catfish’s “Moby Dick”. In this week’s session he hired a crew of dwarf pirates with guns and harpoons. Along with the rest of the party, they enter the sewer to hunt the great white beast. It was a glorious battle with Ulfgard jumping on the monster’s back and providing the killing stroke with his axe. 

That wasn’t the end of the story. His team of dwarves carried the fish from the sewers and Ulfgard invited the entire town to a gigantic fish fry. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Hundred Killers

 Once our party got started on our new campaign, I’ve been trying to adapt to a system that uses lots of different dice. The Fantasy Trip uses a number of six-sided dice where old school D&D uses polyhedral dice, most notable the d20. 

Joe really wanted to go all the way OSR, so our campaign is using the same map that Gary Gygax used, the map from Outdoor Survival. That game was published by Avalon Hill in 1972. 

As level 1 characters we started out in a small village that was being plagued by raiding goblins. Our quest was to explore the surrounding area and locate and destroy as many goblins as possible. 

As our story goes, we discovered that there were several different bands of goblins that seem to have been organized under the leadership of a mystery leader. Over the weeks since we started we have fought many goblins, cleaned out bandit camps and a dungeon. Once we had killed over 100 goblins we were named the Hundred Killers. 

There are three players, myself, my son and a young man named Quinn. We each have two PCs which include a paladin, a magic user, cleric, fighter, thief, and Druid. 


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Then there was Omicron

Gamma World It is now January of 2022. My family is vaccinated, even the grandchildren thank God. Most of us are boostered as well. We wear our masks when we are in public. Thankfully none of us have caught the virus yet, but some of our friends have and some people we know have died.

Hero Quest
Not the best opening paragraph for a gaming blog is it? Our gaming group was put on hold by the pandemic and we waited until everyone was vaccinated for Covid. We finally got together in August and Joe (our host and GM) introduced us to the setting of GAMMA WORLD with a taste of Fortnight mixed in. We used Joe's rules-lite system to play. 

In November we started playing HERO QUEST. I had heard the name before, but knew nothing about the game. It has been fun playing it, especially because Joe owns the game and several expansions. If you don't know HERO QUEST uses special dice for combat. The game had been out of print for years, but I was able to find custom made dice on Esty. This worked out nice.

We didn't play last week because we had some snowfall and the back roads can be tricky to drive at night, but the week before it was just Joe and I. We took two characters each into the dungeon. As we played, we talked about his ideas for our next campaign. Rather than use The Fantasy Trip, or Joe's rules-lite Lord of the Dice rules, he wants to go Old School Revival (OSR) and use the White Box rules based on the original D&D rules of years gone by. 

The White Box in the title refers to the original version of D&D that came in a white box. This version, written by Charles Mason, takes the original rules and simplifies them and organizes them in a small, easy-to-read book. 

Purchase it on Amazon. The price is $4.30 and shipping is free if you have Amazon Prime. Joe lent me a copy to read and I was so impressed that I ordered a copy of me and one for my son.  You can also find a free PDF of the book on DriveThruRPG, as well as a free character sheet and DM Screen.

I've only played D&D once with my son and a couple of his friends. I think it was 5th edition and I didn't like it. My character died in the first 30 minutes. I think I can get into this version, especially when it will be run by an experienced game master.

Hopefully we will get started on the new campaign as soon as everyone is well from coughs and colds, nobody has Covid, and the roads are not treacherous at night. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

There’s A Light…

 It has been a long since things have been normal in this world or in the gaming world, but things are changing. Here in Virginia over 50% of the population has been vaccinated now. Restrictions are being lifted on stores and restaurants. And the best news is that our group’s game master is ready to start a new adventure.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Life Still On Hold...

It is now five months since we started quarantining ourselves from the Covid-19 pandemic. Life has settled down into a dull routine. We stay at home for the most part, going out for groceries and medicines as needed. None of my immediate family has been sick with the disease. Our children have been able to go back to work after a long break. My daughter is a hair stylist and her salon has reopened with a limited number of clients coming in at one time. My son has applied repeatedly to get unemployment compensation for his time off, but it has been a slow, irritating process. Our grandchildren finished school for the year through assignments completed online and we have been babysitting them again while mom and dad work.

We have finally finished the adventure that several of us were playing through the Discord: TFT server. The final battle stretched out over two months of real time as we fought and maneuvered through about 18 turns (1.5 minutes)! It was an exhausting experience with very little in the way of satisfaction at the end.

To fill my empty days I have played some 3500 battles online in World of Tanks - Blitz. Since I refuse to pay money to upgrade my garage of mechanical beasts, it has been a slow process of gaining credits and experience points to improve and update my tanks. I have a garage of tanks ranging from a lowly Pz III to a T-1 heavy. I have American, German, French, English, Swedish and Russian tanks. Out of respect for our flag I only fought using US tanks on July 4th.

Swedish Lago
German VK 36.01 H