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

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

When Life Gets Put On Hold - Part 2

Well we have been in quarantine for a month now. The USA has had more cases of Covid-19 than the rest of the world combined.

Steve Jackson Games had their second Fnord Con scheduled for April, but had to cancel when Austin Texas went on lockdown. I was on the TFT Discord server one day some weeks ago when we were talking about it and someone said why don't we do a virtual con online on Discord. Steve Jackson himself joined the discussion and asked questions. We set up a thread to discuss the idea. Someone created a Discord site for the virtual Fnord Can and shortly after that control and ownership was haded over to SJG. A test was run last weekend and the event will go live this Saturday, April 18.

As I was saying in my previous post, our weekly game got put on hold. The game store, One-Eyed Jacques is open, but in a limited way. I think you can call or order online and pickup merchandise at the curb. Still no gaming going on.

I'm in a play-by-mail game online using Discord. We text our moves and our game master replies. It's a slower paced game, but we are finally near the end. Our team of intrepid heroes have walked many miles and faced many challenges. We are now in a dungeon searching for the source of the magic that has been disrupting life in this part of Elynthia.

There's not much more to talk about. The country is for all intents and purposes shutdown until we can find a way to avoid contagion.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

When Life Gets Put On Hold

Our Monday night game has been put on hold as the world deals with the Covid-19 crisis. Non-essential businesses like our game store have been ordered closed, schools have been closed, and families are sheltering in place avoiding contact with the outside world as much as possible.

My wife and I have been in self-quarantine for 12 days now. We've only left the house for a medical appointment and groceries. We miss our children and our grandchildren, but we call or FaceTime with them daily. I post daily updates on Facebook and follow the latest news.

Being a gaming blog I guess I need to talk about my games. Until we were forced to stop, our Monday group was playing a rules-lite form of Traveller. We've had a good time with it. Our ship, the Double Deuce, has criss-crossed the subsector in search of a Vrusk genetic scientist who has spent years developing new lifeforms for her own twisted reasons. We located several of her bases. Finally we located her ship in a distant asteroid belt of one system. We fought and disabled her ship despite it being much larger and better armed.

I'm having a hard time writing. My mind wanders off to other things. I'll try again later.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Catching Up On Everything

Good Grief Charlie Brown. It's been a long time since my last post. A number of things have happened since October of last year.

1. We finished play testing Joe's Lord of the Dice rules. We've moved on to another adventure based in the Traveller universe using Joe's Lord of the Dice... in Spaaace rules. I had a set of the Traveller basic rules ages ago, but never played it. Joe combined some of the alien character types from Star Fronters with a mashup of the classic Traveller and updated Mongoose rules and blended with his Lord of the Dice system of roleplaying. More on our campaign later.

2. My Decks of Destiny finally arrived at the end of January. All the materials are well done and I am nowfaced with the problem of how to organize and where to keep all this stuff.

3. To add to that my Pocket Box games also arrived a few days later (during the Super Bowl). I now am the proud owner of reprints of the original OGRE and G.E.V. games, plus two supplements, and Awful Green Things From Outer Space. Pocket boxes are cool.

4. Almost forgot. I've been playing games online for awhile now. I got involved in one adventure played out on Roll20 in a dungeon. I dropped out of that one. Now I'm doing a Play-By-Mail adventure on the TFT Discord server with several other guys. We are exploring a bit of Elynthia in the Huldre Forest. Giant spiders have destroyed a village and our team of hardy adventurers are investigating.

Well that's all for now. I'll be writing in more detail about all of this very soon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Live or Die

First an update. Since the Bridonia campaign ended we have been experimenting with a new gaming system -- Lord of the Dice*. Joe, Mr. Lord of the Dice himself, created the rules-lite system to encourage more roleplaying and less reliance on rulebooks. I won't go into the details of the system other than to say that everything is based on rolling no more than two six-sided dice.

Ah, the dice...
When I prepared to start play The Fantasy Trip after many long years, I went into our Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) and bought a bunch of D6s from the bargain barrel. They worked well enough and I didn't think a lot about how fair or random they were.

Once I got my big box of goodness, i.e. The Fantasy Trip Legacy Edition, I had several sets of red (Melee) and blue (Wizard) dice that I used regularly in our sessions. I generally favor the blue dice over the red, but that is just a color choice.

Joe, as game master, used a set of finely made, aircraft-grade aluminum dice from Ultra Pro. He bragged as to their feel and balance. There is no discernible bias in them. When we started this new game I was prepared to use my newly acquire Munchkin Rainbow dice, but Joe stopped me and
handed out sets of two of these dice in various colors to us so we all would be rolling completely fair dice with no bias.

Soon after that Joe told us that a supplier of his had the same dice for sale at a ridiculously low price. Even better, the set of five die were the same price as a set of two. We placed our orders and last night Joe delivered. I got to say these dice are awesome. Of course now I need a dice tower or tray to roll these bad boys in. Otherwise they are going to ding up the table top.

* Lord of the Dice, copyright 2019 by Joe Starza.

Monday, October 7, 2019


In the first week of the siege the army of East Riding took control of the town and built barricades across from the castle moat. There were exchanges of arrows and each side lost men. Ralph, our loyal ogre threw rocks and one petard (that exploded harmlessly in the moat) and managed to break down the castle door. Our wizard harass the guards with gargoyle illusions flying into the battlements. We cut off the supply of fresh food. The castle's supply of fresh water came from a well in the lowest level.

 On the eighth day the catapult arrives and our catapult operator put it in action smashing the portcullis with rocks. Indorel cast a magic rainstorm over the castle to demonstrate our powers. John sends a gargoyle to attack the battlements. The guards are more prepared and kill it. Both sides exchange missile fire.

With Stilton, the thief, guiding us, Bantra, Meat DeShield, and Indorel go down the tunnel that night. Bantra is carrying a fear potion to pour into the well. At the door to the dungeon, we see through a peephole that there are three guards. Indorel casts an illusion of a large hornet that flies in and distracts the guards as the team opens the door and sneaks in. Bantra stumbles and makes noise. Indorel tries an occult strike. Bantra strikes one of the guards and tries to push him into the well. Failing that he goes to the well and pours in the potion. Indorel cast 3-hex fire. One of the guards splits Bantra in half with his sword. Stilton stabs one guard from behind and kills him. Then he runs and tackles the last one that is trying to escape. Indorel kills him. The team hides the bodies in the tunnel and leave.

On the ninth and final day of the siege Jack Swifthand shouts to the castle guard to surrender. Having drunk from the well, they are more fearful. John casts a cloud of smoke over the castle that spells out “Surrender”. Six more flee leaving only a few with the ogre. We storm into the castle and find the Ogre lord with his six remaining men in the keep. The ogre is far bigger than we imagined. He is a megahex in size with a strength of 60. He is twice as big as our friend Ralph. 

We enter the keep with four archers, four swordsman, and the rest of the party. The only obstacles in the room are the pillars. We face Mortimer with six warriors. One is heavily armored and seems to be in command. Another appears to be wild-eyed and crazy with two knives.

We enter the room and move cautiously forward. Our soldiers engage theirs, while our archers provide covering fire. Jack advances close enough to throw a grenade. It hits the ogre and does damage to him. It also hits a couple of his men. The concussion in the room knocks down our archers and Indorel. Petra shoots the ogre with a poisoned bolt. Archie does the same with a poisoned arrow. Meat and a new guy named Bill advance on the left. The ogre moves up and pushes over a column. Meat gets crushed. One of our soldiers gets trampled. John casts two gargoyle illusions. They fly around behind the ogre, land and attack from the rear. Finally, Indorel has moved into a position close enough to cast a creation spell. He creates a tunnel in the chest of the ogre. Blood and guts fly everywhere as he falls forward, dead. The remaining fighters are quickly killed with no quarter given. The battle is over.

The campaign is over. Maybe one day we will return to explore more of Bridonia, but for now we rest and celebrate. The Lady Archie will marry Lord Rumbold in 12 more days. The word will spread that Bridonia has a new queen in the castle. The crisis of government is finally at an end.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Boss Battle

In our campaign we have many enemies, but our oldest one is Snidley Whiplash, a whip carrying lawyer in a black suit who is the real power behind the Ogre Lord of Gromly. We have been plotting for months to somehow get him and the ogre outside the castle where we could face them in battle.

On Monday night we got a surprise visit from Snidley with a company of his men. He wanted to meet with our Lord Mayor. We agreed to meet with him and an entourage of only six of the company of 14  inside the manor house. His other eight men waited outside and were watched by an equal number of our soldiers.

Inside the manor house our party of Archie, Bantra, John, Jack, and Krupke (PCs) along with Lord Rumbold, Petra, and Meat DeShield (NPCs) faced our enemies across a long table. Snidley brought with him his right-hand man, Lefty, an unnamed mage, two swordsmen, and two crossbowmen. He tried to sell us on the idea of signing a contract that would allegedly give Lord Rumbold a clear, hereditary right to East Riding, but we were suspicious

Archie subtlety signaled and we attacked. It was a wild battle. John cast a rope spell that caught Snidley off guard. Meat DeShield jumped the mage before he could cast a spell. Bantra jumped on the table and used the chandelier to swing across and land on Snidley. Arrows, bolts, and daggers flew. John summons one bear and then another. Archie and Petra neutralized the two crossbowmen.

In the middle of all this Indorel, who had overslept, walks into the room and was struck down by a sword. Snidley made a run for the door. We gave chase outside.

Snidley leaves his men to cover his retreat and runs for the woods. John uses his elvish speed to run after him. He cast a gargoyle that swoops down and grabs Snidley and rips him apart. The battle of the Manor House is over.

NOTE: I didn't take any photos of our maps so I recreated the scene using Roll20 and tokens to illustrate the setup. There were two doors to the room on opposite ends of the table. Indorel chose to enter behind Snidley and his group. As the saying goes, "He chose poorly."

UPDATE: We fought the Siege of Gromly Castle on Monday, September 30, 2019. It was the culmination of months of planning and we finally faced the Ogre Lord, all seven hexes of him! That story is coming up next.