Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Post No. 500 on Halloween

As we wind down our observance of Halloween (I'm full from sampling the candy we gave out to trick-or-treaters this evening), I want to note that this is my 500th post for Super Galactic Dreadnought.

It's a pretty impressive milestone, I think.  It's been two years and two months since I started this blog mainly as a way to obsess over the miniature spaceship line for the Starfleet Wars and Galactic Knights games.  It quickly expanded to cover other games I play, such as Hordes of the Things and Dungeons & Dragons
In addition to serving as a creative outlet, the blog has put me in touch with like-minded people and even allowed me to game will more folks.  I'm proud to say SGDN has also inspired a couple of other blogs devoted to spaceship minis.  I hope y'all are getting some entertainment value from my posts; I know I enjoy writing them (and taking photos of my minis as well). 

I plan to keep on bloggin' for foreseeable future, although my posting probably will be light for the next couple of weeks.  But soon I want to get back to painting--and more importantly, gaming with--starship miniatures.  After all, that is the main point of this blog. 

Thanks again for reading Super Galactic Dreadnought.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney and the Death Star

Image from the blog void/two.
Why all the angst over Disney buying Lucasfilm?  Are people worried the Star Wars franchise will get dumbed down?  Well, that already happened, first with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi and then with Jar-Jar in The Phantom Menace.  Whenever people bitch about the "Disneyfication" of their favorite film franchise, they need to realize that the Mouse has a pretty long history of delivering entertainment, and leveraging its various franchises into all kinds of merchandising. 

I don't think we're gonna see Donald Duck next to Darth Vader in the next Star Wars movie (although I think it would be pretty funny).  Instead, I imagine they're gonna give the folks in now charge of Lucasfilm plenty of room to make quality movies that will pull in grownups as well as kids, and casual viewers as well as rabid fanboys.  And they're gonna market the hell out of those new flicks.  After all, Disney now owns Marvel Comics, and that's what they did with the Avengers movie.

One blogger complained that the next movie (Episode VII, whatever it ends up being called) won't be based on any of the post-original trilogy novels, and therefore "destroy the post-movie canon."  So what?  Who cares, as long as they come up with a great flick?  The vast majority of moviegoers are unaware of those books anyway.  To them, the only "canon" is what happened in the first six films--and they probably don't remember all the details. 

The new heads of the Star Wars franchise shouldn't let a bloated mass of marketing limit them from making a good movie.  Despite attempting a reboot, J.J. Adams still threw a canon bone to the trekkies, and the film, to its detriment, couldn't escape its own overwritten past.  That's another example of a law of literary relativity I like to call the canon singularity theory:
Whenever an entertainment franchise generates a certain amount of television episodes, movies, novels, games, and toys, that mass of fiction becomes so self-referential it collapses in upon itself, creating a singularity so dense that not even plot can escape.
Hopefully Lucasfilm's new owners can manage to avoid falling into that literary event horizon and come up with some decent sequels to the original Star Wars trilogy (but even if they don't, we're all gonna go see them anyway).  May the Force be with them.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Friend's armies for sale

A friend has a couple of Hordes of the Things armies he wants to get rid of.  If you're interested, you can reach him at pendrakenusa AT sbcglobal DOT net.  Here are the pics:

25mm painted HOTT-HAMMER 26 point CHAOS army - $120
25mm painted HOTT-HAMMER 24 point EMPIRE army - $120

(NOT PICTURED) 25mm painted Wargods of Aegyptus ToTanem force (not full army) - $45
1-Harbinger of Ptah

These are some good-looking armies, ready for battle.  Drop him a line if you're interested: pendrakenusa AT sbcglobal DOT net

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Energy draining in Holmes D&D

This post on energy draining over at Untimately got me thinking about how to apply the process in a pure blue-book D&D game.  Setting aside the question of whether you should even give foes level-draining ability, I want to explore how it works in the Holmes basic rules.  From the monsters descriptions:
  • Spectres "drain two life energy levels each time they score a hit."
  • Vampires "drain two life energy levels, as do spectres, when they hit an opponent in combat."
  • Wights "drain away life energy levels when they score a hit in melee, one level per it."
  • Wraiths "drain life energy, 1 level per hit."
The only elaboration on the process is in the description of the wight: "An opponent totally drained of life energy by a wight becomes a wight under the control of the draining creature."  Likewise, the rules say "men-types" killed by spectres and vampires become lesser versions of those creatures under the control of their killers.  Since wraiths "are like wights, but have more hit dice and are harder to hit," I'd say this applies to wraiths as well.

Now conventional wisdom has it that, like with hit points, once your character's level falls to zero, he's dead. However, what about "normal men"--also known as zero-level characters?  Obviously one hit from a level-draining undead is going to take out your man-at-arms.  But should that apply to a first-level character who is drained of a single life energy level?  Or is he not quite "totally" drained of vitality?

I say no, and there's precedent in the rules to support me: the "normal man" that appears in the combat and saving throw tables.  A first-level character who has one level drained away, or a second-level character who loses two levels, becomes a 0-level "normal man" (whatever the PC's original race and class) for game purposes.  Any hit that takes a character below zero-level, of course, slays that individual and turns him or her into the same type of undead that slew the character.

This means using the appropriate line on the to-hit and save charts, and not being able to use class-specific abilities like spells or thief skills.  Why do this?  First of all, it keeps your brand-new first-level character alive after a hit from a wight, even if at very reduced capability, and therefore gives the entire party a greater chance of surviving the encounter.  Second, it provides new opportunities for adventure in search of a cure, as you can let the players know that there's a certain temple which can restore the lost vitality (for a price, or in return for a quest), or have them meet a ranger who knows how to make a potion which can heal their affliction.  You could even be merciful and allow that several weeks of rest, plus a certain amount of experience points (say, one-fourth of what it takes to reach second level), gets them back up to first level.

Whatever method you choose, these ideas allow low-level characters to survive encounters with level-draining undead.  When they recover, they'll be ready to hit the dungeon again, and hopefully be a little more careful this time.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas

We saw the movie Cloud Atlas tonight, and I really enjoyed it.  I hadn't seen more than a couple of short commercials for the film, so going in I had no idea what it was about.  Basically, it jumps between six different stories, separated by time.  By the end of the film, however, the separate vignettes are linked structurally and thematically. 

I really enjoyed it, and everything came to a satisfying conclusion.  In fact, this movie reminded me of the move The Fountain.  No real ideas for gaming that spring to mind, although there are some good action sequences, but Cloud Atlas is worth seeing.

Oh, and the makeup artists did a great job in  this one--all the featured actors play several roles throughout the feature, and you'll have to look carefully to see who's playing which character in which scene.  My favorite is Hugo Weaving.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Variation on the Keep

This isn't my map, but it's one I want to share.  Some time ago, harmyn, a Dragonsfoot member, created this map, in the style of the eponymous Keep from module B2.  I posted it in this thread at DF, but it disappeared, and another member, Shadowshack, reposted it.  I wanted to go ahead and put it here as well. 

This map would work great for a sequel to Keep on the Borderlands, right?  I'd like to see an expanded set of Caves to go with it--maybe something like this.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Star Navy from GuadaComaCon

Since I already posted a little on this game, here are some more pics of the 5150: Star Navy playtest at GuadaComaCon back in August.
Again, crappy phone camera = blurry pictures, but you'll get the idea of the size of the game we played, which wrapped up in (you guessed it) a couple of hours.
 We had lots of asteroids, and more than a dozen ships per side, including carriers.
I also got to use my scratchbuilt escape pods as markers to show where a ship got blown up.  By the end of the game, I had quite a number of lifepods on the board.
And yes, those space rocks made a difference, especially when one fleet was heading straight into them, and vice versa!
The game played smoothly, and the two players, who had never seen the game before, picked it up very quickly.
And, as always, it was a pleasure to get a whole bunch of my spaceship minis on the table for a game.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mines of Moria from GuadaComaCon

I'm a huge procrastinator, which is why it's taken me more than two months to post some more photos from this year's local game convention, GuadaComaCon.
These pics are from a Mines of Moria scenario run by a father-and-son team who made the drive in from a couple of hours east of here.  They missed their scheduled game slot because of car trouble, but I'm glad the eventually arrived and put on their game.
The game was based on the free Swordplay rules from Two Hour Wargames.  It featured all the highlights of Moria: the Watcher in the Water (a scratchbuilt figure), Balin's Tomb, and even the Great Hall with the big, bad, Balrog.
I was running 5150: Star Navy at the time, so I wasn't able to participate or take as many photos as I would have liked.  And as this was about the time my camera battery crapped out, most of the photos were taken on my ancient Blackberry, so apologies for the lack of quality.
As you can see, these gamers had a big setup, and it attracted plenty of interest from attendees.  I'm told that the players made it all the way through, and even managed to actually take out the Balrog--something the original Galdalf & Co. previous groups who played couldn't even manage.  Maybe I'll get a chance to play this next year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Great minds think alike

Although they look familiar, these figures don't belong to my Hordes of the Things Sons of Muspel army, but to another gamer who also had the bright idea of using some of the translucent resin D&D minis as elements for HotT (except he has a lot more figures, in numbers and in variety).  Note the bases, where the elementals are literally melting the stone where they step.

This photo comes from a Hordes of the Things big battle at the 2008 Fall In convention.  You can see more photos of Unseen University invading the Elemental Plane of Fire here.  It's given me some inspiration to expand my own fire army.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Third-party OGRE products

Sure, the Designer's Edition of OGRE has been delayed, but it's worth noting that once it comes out, there will be a number of extra counter sheets (the result of some $4,500 Kickstarter pledges) available from other vendors that will supplement that big-box game.

The biggest of these supplements is the Nightfall Campaign from Fire Mountain Games.  I like the sound of this expansion--not only do you get some new units (including some more OGREs) in the counter sheets, there's also a 16-page scenario booklet detailing a war between rogue cybertanks and the last remnants of humanity (a sort of "alternate history" for the OGRE setting of the Last War).

Additional counter sheets from various sources will include armor units of the Nihon Empire; some cool terrain--including a missile base and crashed flying saucer and new 3-D units such as a giant lizard--from the folks at Board Game Geek; uncommon OGREs; Fencers, and more.  For the full list of sponsored sheets, see this post on the SJ Games message board.

I don't know about vehicle counters, since I use metal minis and the boardgame rules, but the terrain overlays and especially the scenario pack would come in handy.  What about you?  Is anyone planning to buy any of these supplements?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Starships: Watch out for that rock!

In 5150: Star Navy, you have to watch your speed when navigating around asteroids.  Go too fast, and you might fly too close to a piece of space debris.  If you're lucky, and your crew is good, you'll dodge it and avoid damage.  If not, your ship won't come out intact.
Depending on how fast you're going, it could be just some superficial damage (basically scratching the paint job), or it could be something serious, affecting your vessel just like a volley from an enemy starship.  So be careful when you're in an asteroid field--after all, the odds of successfully navigating one are 3,720 to 1!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My four-dollar figure

I'm kind of a cheapskate when it comes to buying stuff on ebay; I try to pay less than retail, even when I'm dealing with out-of-production items.  When it comes to your typical wargaming/RPG miniature figure, I try to spend no more than about $3 per fig.  I will pay more when I have to, but I don't like it.

One thing you have to be careful about is shipping--what seems like a bargain price might have a postage surcharge that's more than the cost of your purchase.  I realize that's unavoidable when buying low-cost items, so I try to amortize the shipping & handing by grabbing multiple auctions from the same seller to combine the postage.

So last week I bid on almost a dozen figures to expand my Nightmare Legion army for Hordes of the Things.  They all had shipping listed at $2.99 or more, so I wanted to spread that cost among several figures.

Well lo and behold, I get outbid on everything except this one mini, which I might use as a standard-bearer for another element of skeletal spears.  I won the auction for 99 cents, but then you add the three bucks postage, and I paid about twice what I had wanted to shell out.  Sure, four bucks ain't bad for a vintage Warhammer figure (and I do like this mini; it's got a lot of character), but I don't like paying all that shipping--and I normally wouldn't do so for a one-dollar purchase.

Still, a bid is a bid, so I went ahead and paid for the auction.  I just wish shipping wasn't three times the price of the purchase.  Anyone else ever make an ebay purchase without taking into account the cost of shipping?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another salamander--I mean, gecko

(EDIT: Thanks to Zanazaz for proper ID of this critter!)

Saw this guy and a couple of his buddies up on the wall out on the front porch one night a few weeks ago.  I'm not sure if he's a frost salamander or a flame salamander.  Either way, I think he looks cool, and I'm happy to have him hanging out at my house.  Any of y'all have "pets" like this that live around the outside of your home?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Good news for HotT

Some encouraging words from a couple of the authors of Hordes of the Things. First, in the DBA Yahoo group (and re-posted to the HotT group), Phil Barker announced they're getting the rulebook back in print, with only a few minor changes:
Sue would wish to give you the good news herself, so I will just say that although we have had to change to A4 size, the rules that will be published on paper are those already on the website. These have 1 change from the last paper version, but which is already being played with. The only new thing in the new paper version is allowing an optional alternative measurement scale of one base width = 100p. This merely authorises a practise already used in some games.
Then, directly to the HotT list, his wife and co-author Sue Barker asked for input from gamers:
HOTT has been out-of-print for too long.

That's my opinion and I doubt if the rest of you will disagree.

I am trying to persuade my partners in WRG Ltd to print HOTT2.1 which is nearly identical to HOTT 2.0 It includes the change in move distances which has been in use for many years now -


It also has an option for distances to be measured in BW (base-widths) but this is optional and no-one has to take any notice unless they wish to do so.

My main reason for pushing this is my awareness of all the other things Phil is trying to do. This leads to an estimate that it will be about another five years before he has time to spend on HOTT. I don't think we should leave HOTT out-of-print for that long.

Let me know what you think, but PLEASE don't slow Phil up by sending more emails directly to him at least for the rest of this October.
I plan on buying at least one copy for myself and another to give away.  What about the rest of you?  Will you buy the new printing of Hordes of the Things?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yet another OGRE delay

From Evil Stevie himself comes the news that the Designer's Edition of OGRE, originally supposed to be ready in time for Christmas will not see daylight until later next year.  Bummer.  I'm looking forward to the revised game--especially the maps, which you can combine to make a really big battlefield.  Here's looking to 2013.

At least I didn't contribute to the Kickstarter project, so I'm not as on edge as backers surely are.  Readers, what are your thoughts on this news?  Did you put money into it, or were you waiting on the actual product like me?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Excuses ...

I haven't blogged in quite awhile, and there's really no valid reason.  I've just been kind of mentally drained from work, I haven't gamed in nearly two weeks, and I'm training for a marathon that's less than a month away.  Since I put in my miles after work, with my long runs on Sundays, the training thing really leaves me tired and not wanting to blog. 

In actual gaming news, I am supposed to play Hordes of the Things this week, and I signed up to run a Star Navy scenario at Millenniumcon, the same weekend as the marathon.  I'll try to be better about posting, but no promises until after the race.

Friday, October 5, 2012

HotT campaign

I got together with the San Antonio guys for a Hordes of the Things tournament this week.  I enjoyed the chance to send my Nightmare Legion onto the field of battle once more. 
I invaded Blakes territory and beat his Chaos army--twice.  We had seven players total, including Grant, who brought his Justice League army, made from Heroclix minis.
Here's the campaign map, which Chip drew up on the spur of the moment.
If people are interested, I'll post more details of the campaign later on.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

All Things Zombie-Final Fade Out now on sale

While we're talking about Two Hour Wargames, I know some of you have been waiting for the latest edition of Ed's zombie game.  Well, All Things Zombie-Final Fade Out is now available for purchase.  Have fun, and watch out for those walkers!