Monday, November 13, 2017

The Upton Chronicles #2: That's an Odd-Looking Idol..

The Crew

Terry, Jeff and Greg played the Uptons and their crew.  Ken and I played the forces of evil and chaos.

The Plot

Our heroes, having learned of the nefarious human trafficking and sacrifice enterprise from the freak show's ringleader, race to an abandoned monastery outside of town.  Little did they know that the catacombs beneath the dilapidated ruins would house such horrors.

The Game

Our heroes quickly found the entrance to the catacombs and opened the door.  A blast of stale air, heavy with the scent of cloying incense and the unmistakable coppery odor of blood, greets their nostrils.  

A couple of columns support the ceiling in the small room before them.  Stairs leading up to another level are on the right, while a giant statue of a squatting tentacled creature leers at them with ancient, stony eyes.  Faint chanting can be heard coming from the dark opening at the top of the stairs.

Sir Upton was the first up the stairs.  His practiced eyes scanned the room, taking in everything with scarcely a thought.  

To his left was a huge cistern, replete with ancient Meso-American  glyphs and carvings.  A thick, viscous fluid...blood?...slowly bubbled in the reservoir.  

The chanting was coming from a purple-robed priest, his arms raised in supplication.  Sir Upton realized that the chanting was in ancient Sumerian!  As he looked on in a slight stupor, the ritual was completed and the man fell silent.  Only then did Sir Upton realize that there were others in the room.

Two acolytes rushed forward to meet the intrepid adventurers and the scrum began.



 
A few minutes into the fight, a blubbery creature heaved itself from the pool of ichor and attacked Sal Jackson.  They fought intensely and managed to defeat other simultaneously.  Sal, grievously wounded, sank to the floor and would have slowly bled out if not for the timely ministrations of Professor Edelstein.  Indeed, Edelstein kept both Sal and Fire Marshall O'Leary in the fight (repeatedly in O'Leary's case). 

With the defeat of his summoned creature, the high priest finally succumbed to the blows from multiple attackers.  In a rather funny (irony, not ha ha) twist of fate, Captain Everhardt, firing at the priest, managed to drop the acolyte behind the shifty leader with a head shot.


After the battle was won, the heroes didn't know where to go or what to do.  They'd felled all their foes and the creature now floating in the pool of nastiness wasn't going to give away any secrets.  A thorough search uncovered nothing until Detective Jones and Sid Jackson found a hidden door around the far side of the cistern.

A couple of hallways and ransacked rooms later and a single clue was found.  A torn slip of paper simply had written in a spidery crawl "The Old One will emerge from the gate victorious and devour the world!"  A secret back door was found as well.  How many cultists escaped?

Sir Upton, using his historical knowledge of the area, quickly put two and two together and came up with only one choice: Ctesiphon.  Modeled after the arch found in ancient Mesopotamia, which had once been called Sumer, Upton knew that any evil doings would stem from such a locus of mystical power.  The group made their way to Upton Manor to both drop off the recovering O'Leary and Sal and pick up Jimmy, Airman Jones and Detective Doyle before heading to Ctesiphon.  

Don't miss the exciting conclusion to this tale:  The Old One Returns!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Upton Chronicles #1: Strange Things are Afoot...

I decided to go back to a project I'd started several years ago, but unfortunately let fall to the wayside.  It has been quite awhile since the Secondhand Lions have played GASLIGHT and it was time to remedy that oversight!

The Gang

Jon Mark, Terry, Bill, Ken, Tim and I rolled off to see who would play on which side.  Jon Mark, Terry and Tim were the forces of 'Good' (that's a relative perspective, isn't it?), while Ken, Bill and I were 'Evil'.

The Plot

1930s, rural America.  A carnival freak show has come to town and set up shop in a remote pasture.  The townsfolk were excited.  It had been quite a long time since a circus, carnival or other oddity stopped at their town and they flocked to the site.  That's when things became weird...

People started disappearing.  Not many, but enough to rouse the suspicion of the local sheriff.  Since the only thing 'out of normal' was the freak show, he and a deputy checked it out.  Hours later, the sheriff found himself back at his desk, but the deputy was missing.  He knew they'd gone to the carnival and had seen firsthand that it was a legitimate show (the fat lady was truly a sight to behold), but he couldn't for the life of him remember driving back to the police station.  That had him worried...

He called an old detective friend of his, Frank Doyle, from 'the city' and asked for him to check it out.  The sheriff also called the land owner the carnival was inhabiting, Sir Reginald Upton, to see if he knew anything and to coordinate with Doyle's investigation.  Sir Upton sent his son, James ("Jimmy" to his friends) and his lifelong ward, Elisa ("Ellie" to most) to aid in the investigation.  They called their friends and colleagues, forming a pseudo-posse.

Our intrepid heroes met outside the show's tent and prepared to find out what strange things were afoot...

The Game



Jimmy and the Jackson twins stepped to the tent's front, where the carnival's barker awaited.  


He welcomed them inside and soon enough the entire party, minus Airman Jones, were enthralled by the wily ministrations of the Puppet Master.  Little did they know, but they were all mesmerized by this heinous villain and would only see what they are supposed to see:  innocent freak show employees!
 


Eventually, the group continued further into the tent.  As they rounded the first corner, the Fat Lady was seen.  To their eyes, she was gnawing on a turkey leg, but that wasn't actually the case!  Jimmy, drunk before he'd even arrived at the tent, noticed the aberration and stumbled dazedly toward the next booth.  It wasn't until Detective Doyle saw the half-gnoshed human arm that weapons were drawn and the fight began!





"Hey Rube!" was cried by the carnies and demented clown enforcers erupted from hidden places in the tent!  Most attacked Jimmy, sensing that he was too drunk to effectively put up a fight.  They were wrong.  He took his lumps, but roared his fury and gave what he got!

Detective Doyle was attacked from behind and fell, but Professor Edelstein "did some doctorin'" and got Doyle on his feet.  Meanwhile, Ellie used her shotgun to good effect and soon dropped Lester the Carney.  Outside the tent, Airman Jones found that his SMG was barely a match for the barker's razor-edged hats.  He was heavily wounded when the rest of the townies came to his rescue and subdued the carnival's ringleader.  

Little did our heroes know, but Jim the Butcher escaped to warn his Masters of the debacle unfolding within the tent.


It was a tough fight, but the 'good guys' eventually won the day.  The creatures were dispatched, while the others were taken into custody.

Under harsh interrogation, the barker spilled the beans.  The carnival of inhuman and human misfits were a front for their 'Masters'.  The carnies supplied bodies, alive and dead alike, to their bosses for unknown reasons.  Only an investigation of where the bodies were taken would uncover more of the truth.

Jimmy, Jones and Doyle would be holed up in a hospital to recover from their wounds, but the rest of the gang was ready to continue the fight!

Next week:  That's an Odd-Looking Idol...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Recruits 2017

This is the recap of my participation in the local gaming convention, Recruits.  A medium-sized convention that sees about 600 or so players throughout the weekend, Recruits has sci-fi, fantasy and historical games for just about anyone's interests.  I enjoy this convention because I get to see familiar faces, play some cool games and buy stuff at great prices.

Friday Night

An acquaintance of mine, Craig, is big into Flames of War (FoW).  I've played in one other FoW game of his over the years and took the opportunity to play in a WWII desert game Friday night.

The Plot

This was a simple plot, really.  The British and Germans had built-up areas (BUA) on either side of a 12' table and were expecting reinforcements and supplies.  The twist was that these supplies showed up on the opposite ends of the board from the BUAs and had to make it through tanks, artillery and strafing aircraft!  I was on the British side, along with my friend, Mike.

British area

Towed artillery, ready for the German tanks!

British infantry who never saw any action.


Results

It was a tie, although we (British) were one round from gaining the lead. 😒  I apologize I didn't take any more pics.

Saturday

Morning

My buddy, Chuck, was running demos of Knight Models game, Batman Miniature Game.  In this game, you could play as members of either Two-Face's or the Penguin's gangs, fighting it out in the mean streets of Gotham.  I chose to play as Penguin, Captain Boomerang and one of Penguin's thugs.  Also on my side were Deadshot, Slipknot and another lackey, played by a guy named Matt.  Against us were Two-Face, Deathstroke and several henchmen.  

This game was pretty neat.  There's an innovative point allocation system for each character that really makes you think about how you want to use that individual in the overall team's scheme for the turn.  The pics that follow are generally grouped in foreground and then background focus so you can get an idea of what things are like in Gotham from "characters' eye" view.

Gotham at night.  Note the twin QT Towers in the background.

Near...
Far...
Near...
Far...

Near...

Far... 


Results

The Penguin's team won on points.  I'd KO'd or outright killed some of Two-Face's henchmen via Captain Boomerang's weapons of choice and we had Two-Face reeling from several round of bullets and boomerangs.

Afternoon

Yet another friend of mine, Sean, was running a relatively new game, Imperial Skies.  This game is set in an alternate WWI setting where ships are airborne instead of plying the seas.  I also had the pleasure of playing against some ornery, but great guys from Nebraska, Randy and Doug.  My buddy Terry jumped into the action with me.

In this scenario, the Central powers are rumored to have created a rather hideous chemical weapon they plan on using against the Allied forces.  A convoy of merchant vessels is laden with this weapon and is headed toward the front.  Escorting them are two fleets of Austro-Hungarian and German forces.  The only Allies in the area are French, so they move to intercept with the strict orders of not shooting down the merchant ships.  Instead, they are to board said vessels, commandeer them and then take them to Allied ports.  With the cargo intact, the boys on the front are safe and the world at large will know just how evil the Central powers truly are.

The open skies are filled with aeronefs!

A slightly closer view
French fleet

Huns at 2 o'clock, Cap'n!
Austro-Hungarians

The scrum is on!

The merchants have an escort!

It's touch and go...

Some beautifully painted ships

Results

Another very solid, fun game.  It was tense early, as the Central fleets took out several of the smaller French vessels with relative ease.  The French kept plugging away at the bigger ships and finally the tide turned.  At the end of the game, most of the Central ships were destroyed and one of the merchant vessels had been commandeered.  The others were well within boarding range of several French ships.

Evening

I ran a game of Axles and Alloys demolition derby with 12 players.  This rules set has proven to be very popular at Recruits over the past few years and the trend continued this time as well.  If you've read my previous blog post, you'll know more about how we came up with this concept and what rules changes were made to accommodate this style of contest.

With a full table, the mayhem began.  



A couple of light buggies tore out of the pack first, using their sports suspension and quicker acceleration to clear out.  From that point on, the chaos ensued.  










In the end, it came down to a battered, steering-impaired Griswald (seen above.  Yes, the National Lampoon theme was blaring out of the player's phone) versus a relatively fresh heavy truck Chopstick (the red truck with the whirling blades on front).  With The Griswald in such bad shape and without any offensive weapons and Chopstick  healthy and well-armed with missiles and a flamethrower, the game was called.

Congrats to Scott Wilson, winner of this year's vaunted Deadlands demolition derby trophy and earner of smack-talking rights for a year!


I'd like to thank all the players who made the game such as success:  Halidar, Terry, Matt, Cody, Kaden, Mike R., Scott, Matt M., Michael S., Brent W., Ken V. and Ryan C.  

The Conclusion

I had a great weekend of gaming, hobnobbing and buying.  I always enjoy Recruits and always wish it lasted a little longer...


Axles and Alloys Demolition Derby test run

For Recruits convention, I'm running (again) Axles and Alloys.  This time, instead of a race, the scenario is a demolition derby.  To play test the game, Bill, Ken, Jeff and I picked out three cars and set them up.

I also created three new cars:  Rhino, Bombardier and The Griswald.  They were an experiment in vehicles geared for ramming more than firing.

Bombardier

The Griswald

Rhino

The Rules

At the start of the race, the vehicles were lined up rear bumper to rear bumper.  The first turn, the vehicles were required to accelerate at top speed from the center and couldn't fire any weapons (including droppers).  They were, however, allowed to bump each other.  

The Race

The demolition derby course
Starting positions
Things didn't go smoothly for the light vehicles during the first turn.  A couple of cars decided to play the part of pinballs and were unceremoniously damaged enough to explode their fuel tanks.  

The start, left side
The start, right side

Destroyed light buggies!
After the initial chaos that is so much a part of this game, things settled down a bit.  The following pics will give you a feel for how the game turned out.






Conclusion

By the time we called the game, there were five to the initial 12 vehicles still in play.  Some of these were very close to decimation and were literally rolling death traps for their drivers.  

Other than changing where terrain was located on the course, everyone felt that the rest of the rules put in place the first turn were adequate for a demolition derby and would work well at the convention. Alas, with only four players each playing three cars from the same color, 'team play' was inevitable.   I made a note to remind the convention players that even though there were cars obviously from the same factions, there weren't 'teams'.  There could be temporary alliances, but ultimately there's only one winner in a demolition derby.

Thanks for reading and I'd like to thank my play testers!