Games, drumming, juggling, home improvements, cooking, comics, dogs, macs, music, etc.

Squall - probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skval: useless chatter (Merriam-Webster)
It's my goal to have the LONGEST blog pages around. Kind of.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Big Groo

During our monthly comic visit to Excalibur comics in Portland, OR - I was walking past a big box, and on the outside it had the words "Groo the Wanderer" on it.  Groo (and Sergio Aragones) is one of my all-time favorites.  I was intrigued and started pawing at the box.  Debbie, the shop owner, was busy but saw me messing with it.  She told me to be patient.  I was still pawing at it, looking to see if it was sealed or whatever.  She came over and opened up the box (which I made sure to keep) to show us the contents.

This is a book printed in the same size as the original art; there are several of these from different artists, and there will be more. Look for an 'Artist's Edition' if you really like a comic or an artist.  I am amazed at the book, and am glad to have gotten it.  I posted pictures so you can see how big it is!

Other IDW Artist Editions

Still in the box, but that thing is huge!

Sample page.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hellfrost - The Siege of Watchgap Fort

The adventures of an unlikely band of comrades, as observed by Urto Valja
Check out other related posts: Characters | The Bad Seed

We spend a few days in a nice inn named "The Suckling Deer". After a few days there, we're approached by a caravan leader who wants to hire us for protection; he offers to pay 100 gold. Each. We're going in a similar direction and so this is a good way to get there. In the morning, the caravan has a new addition - a wagon of dwarves and their goods. They are not too friendly nor interested in protecting the caravan as a whole. We travel for a few uneventful days, during which we try to increase better communication with the dwarves.

After a week of almost pure boredom, we reach the area near the Drakewood forest, where we find that two trees have fallen across the road, blocking our passage. A huge mob of goblins and wolves come swarming out of the forest, with some of the goblins riding the bigger wolves. Their attack is focused on the wagons, which allows us some flanking opportunities. The battle ends with a lot of dead Goblins, dead wolves and our only casualty, one dead mule. Many goblins escaped, probably to report elsewhere. Spoils of goblin armor, arms, and supplies are added to our own; the Caravan leader allowing us the spoils for our own profit. We've managed to impress the dwarves with our combat capability, and they seem to be a little more friendly.

One of the wagon mules died in the attack, so I offer my horse in its place, and we continue on. Two days later, we arrive at a townstead where we can get another mule, and sell some of the Goblin's goods.

After another two days of travel, we run across a band of Hearth Knights on a routine patrol. We exchange information, and they are surprised about the Goblin attack, at least at the numbers we describe. The Dwarf leader requests some private time with the Hearth Knight leader for some business dealings. The Hearth Knights and our caravan part ways, with the Hearth Knights expecting our return. By this time, meals are with the Dwarves and are more friendly as time goes by.

The following day we reach a small homestead that is owned by the Caravan master's personal friend. He wants to stay here for a day or so. The Dwarves are invited to stay as well. The introductions are very personal and detailed, taking a great amount of time. A feast was in preparation for our arrival and is going to be held that night. There is a great deal of story swapping about the area, the Goblins, the stead and the Dwarves. I entertain a great many folk with minor magical tricks, mostly flipping skirts up and blowing items around.

The night goes long, and the morning arrives early - with a group of Goblins attacking the stead! There is a Shaman and a heavy-hitting Ogre among them. I focus on the Shaman while Magna makes short work of the Ogre. The battle is pretty much over with by the time our host is up, armored and in the field. The stead prepares for a typical day while we get some more rest. We spend our day making repairs, performing maintenance tasks, gathering herbs and conversing with the Dwarves. We plan on leaving early tomorrow morning for our next destination - Watchgap Fort, only two more days away.

On the way to Watchgap Fort, we find a recently killed Hearth Knight, hidden just off of the road. We collect the body and all nearby items, and carry his body with us to the Fort.

We reach Watchgap Fort and report the goblin attack at the stead. The leaders want as much information as we can give them. The talk of goblins goes long into the night.

In the morning, the Knights bring breakfast and we trade our excess weapons and armor. We say our farewells and begin travel to our next destination, another homestead about a week away.

On the second day we find a goblin camp and the corpse of a young girl. A search of the camp reveals little more about their activities. We bury the girl and continue on our trip. The terrain is starting to turn into hills, slowing our progress slightly. The next day gives us two route options; we decide on a less hilly route that takes us through a canyon. This turns out to be a poor choice, which becomes obvious when rocks start dropping on us from above; we look up and see a few ogres. The caravan speeds up as a few of us break away to attack the ogres and protect the caravan. We kill a few of them and find out that the remaining ogre is the mama, and she snaps, going beserk on us, with Polaris being the closest target. I manage to pop off some quick lightning bolts before Polaris takes a hit. We investigate the ogre's lair to find some human remains of what looks to be two "Sisters of Mercy". We take what loot can be had, bury the remains that we can and rush back to the caravan.

The next day is quiet and uneventful, a nice respite from the ogre attack. The homestead is one more day away and we are all looking forward to a bath, home cooking and perhaps a bed.

We see smoke. And a lot of it. I break away and ride faster to the homestead to see if there is a need for help. We find the homesteaders burning a funeral pyre, a very large funeral pyre. Returning to Ulfwald and the caraven, I report there is not any immediate threat, but there is urgent need for healing and some minor aid. Snowfoot and I ride ahead to help where we can, with Snowfoot doing most of the work. When the rest of the caravan reaches the stead, introductions are made and we get the details of what happened. Goblins had attacked and had started killing people. Some homesteaders were actually taken, which is rare for goblin raids. We borrow a few horses and go hunting goblins in hopes of rescuing at least a few kidnapped homesteaders.

A few hours away, we find an abandoned keep which has a lot of goblin, orc and other tracks around it. This is an active area, so we dismount and continue on foot to be a little more stealthy. We sight some lookouts high up in towers. I cast a Guiding Wind on our archers, and we kill the two goblin lookouts which provides us the opportunity to sneak closer to the keep. Slowly making our way into the keep, we split into two forces, one to be a diversion outside, and one to be a strike force within. The diversion team signals an attack and a half dozen goblins storm out of the barracks and into our ambush. We search the courtyard and the other areas to seek out any remaining foes and kill them.

Going into the main keep, we sneak around and find a throne room. The room is dominated by a large throne of ice, with a big ugly orc sitting on the throne, and two orc guards beside him. We get the element of surprise and it is a quick fight ending with two dead orc guards and a hogtied orc leader. Our attempts to question him are thwarted when he suddenly teleports away. Searching deeper into the building, we find a goblin shaman with two goblin guards which we easily overpower. Continuing through the keep, slaughtering the occasional goblin or orc while searching for any captives or other survivors. We finally find what we are looking for: thirteen human prisoners, all on the verge of starvation and in generally poor condition. The extreme cold of the area is not helping them, so we move them to a kitchen we found that was warm from the food cooking in it. We make this our first aid area where we apply healing, medical help and sustenance. Snowfoot stays behind to oversee the rescued humans while we continue our search of the keep. We finally locate a small room with maps and charts and quite a few papers, all written in a language none of us can read, probably orc or giant. We start collecting any salvageable goods we might profit from: weapons, ice wood, wine, beer, and other equipment. A few of the items we’ve captured have magical properties to them. One particular item is a mirror that is made of ice; it has properties that will classify it as a relic, which interests Polaris greatly.

We spend the night in the keep watching over the rescued humans, and prepare for an early morning departure. With the wagons, goods and everyone we rescued, we go on to Watchgap Fort.

At the fort, we discuss our raid and show the leaders the papers we found in the keep. We also send everyone we recovered from the keep to their respective homes, and send a message to Ulfwald that we are at Watchgap Fort. The Hearth Knights offer us hospitality, which we accept. During dinner, the dwarves from the caravan arrive, and we share another meal with them. We talk of the keep raid, the prisoners we found, and there was much camaraderie shared for the killing of orcs and goblins.

Near the end of dinner a horn starts blaring; it’s a warning that the fort is under attack. Everyone rushes to the courtyard to see what is coming. Looking beyond the walls of the fort, we see a huge host of goblins surrounding the fort, and camped for an impending attack. We have little time to prepare, but we do what we can, and positions are assigned. We get to protect the West wall and our dwarf friends are manning the East wall. Goblins start the attack with archers covering the assault force. We retaliate with our own ranged attacks: spells and arrows. My spells backfire on me once, and I suffer a wound, all while goblins swarm the wall. Quite a few goblins manage to make it over the wall but our Hearth Knight companions back us up and slay the few straggling enemies. The first wave was repelled with no casualties on our side. This looks to be the first of quite a few planned attacks; we are officially under siege.

A few hours later, a second wave of goblins storm in with the aid of an ogre, breaching the West wall. While most of us focus on the fort interior, Snowfoot uses the power of his wolf magic to keep the gate safe. Another wave is eventually defeated, and we repair the breaches as quickly as we can; it’s not good, but it’s better than leaving the holes open.

The third attack force is focusing on the gate. A tortoise shell maneuver protects some troops as they hammer on the gate. We fail to neutralize the threat in time and the gate crashes in and another ogre forces his way into Fort Watchgap. He wreaks havoc on the inside, killing several defending Hearth Knights. The dwarves leave their post on the East wall and surround the ogre, taking him down quickly and efficiently. The rest of the goblins hold ranks for a little while before breaking and retreating.

A little while later, a catapult attack begins. A few shots later we realize that the ammunition is body parts: heads of humans, goblins and the occasional ogre. This is very disturbing to a lot of the fort defenders, and our task is now to calm down the forces inside, as there are going to be more attacks soon.

We are called to a meeting to discuss the problematic catapults. The decision is made to assemble a strike force to attack the catapults. We get some aid from the fort herbalists with a compound to mask our heat signatures from the orc and goblin infravision. Our force strikes at night, infiltrating the engineering camp. Goblins fall to our surprise attack, and we keep our advantage. We find the orcish engineers and kill them as well as their ogre guards. We return to the fort victorious. With our successful mission, Leotrek is promoted to commander of the archers. The rest of us stay on the walls with some reinforcements from the Hearth Knights.

Waves of attacks start coming in. Goblins, orc beserkers, and ogres all throw themselves at the walls, most of them repelled. During the battle, everyone is taking a beating, forcing us back into the fort tower. During our retreat, the dwarven commander, Hauld-Ousri, falls due to his wounds. We and his comrades gather around him for what seems like his last few words. He calls our group friends of the dwarves, and gives us a dwarven phrase that will tell other frost dwarves our status whenever we meet them.

The first order of business is to retake the courtyard. We sight the orc commander, resplendent in full plate. It is easy to make a concentrated attack to remove him from leadership, permanently. Their leader dead, the goblins lose interest in the siege and flee from the fort.

The host doesn’t dissipate, and we start preparing for another attack, hopefully the last. We spot goblins, goblin wolfriders, orcs and ogres. Backing them up is a goblin shaman. I pick him out as my personal target: time for some magic vs. magic. The Hearth Knights form a wedge formation and start into the field. I skirt to the outside with some the remaining dwarves as my guards. We traverse the battlefield, making our way to the shaman. When I get within range, I fire off a few spells, and he drops very quickly. Magna, Polaris and Runolf are ogre slaying while Snowfoot is influencing the wolves out from under their riders. Leotrek and his archers are pounding the goblin hordes. On the high point of the attack, the thundering sound of horses echo across the valley. An entire host of Hearth Knight cavalry is charging in. The invading host realizes their time has come and flees, every goblin for himself.

And that is the story of the Siege of Watchgap Fort, as it is sung by skalds across Rassalon.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Savage Serenity

I done did it.  I ran a Firefly scenario / game using the Savage Worlds system - I got the fan conversion here - at  I also used the Marget Weis "Serenity Role Playing Game" and the "Big Damn Hero's" books for reference material (ships, the 'Verse, etc).  I also found a decent listing of the 'Verse planets and moons on Wikipedia.

I was also using a bunch of game material from the 'net for the Serenity game - some random tables on how your crappy ship breaks, some Chinese language guides for cursing in the 'Verse, and ship maps.

I made a firefly crew - Captain, First mate, Mercenary, Medic, Pilot and Mechanic - all of them standard Alliance hating misfits flying the black for freedom. No Shepard, Companion or River characters, sorry.

I won't detail the game so if you play it, there will still be surprises.  Suffice to say, it was traveling through the black and not everything going smoothly.  The group I played with was gathered from reaches around the Portland Metro Area (Oregon) using (Portland Gamers group).  I also had one walk-in from the Red Castle Games calendar, and even one who saw my Reddit posting 2 months ago!  The night was also co-hosted by another GM (Scott Woodard, who does a lot of work withing the Savage Worlds scene) and he ran a pirates game.  We had 10 players for the night.  Success!  Alas, I failed to take pictures.

But, I did have a poker scene that I used a modified 'Chase' or 'Dramatic Tasks' to run.  I wanted to simulate a single buy-in Texas hold 'em tournament where the winner takes all.
Here's how it works:

Gambling: Using Chase / Dramatic tasks rules(ish):

  1. Everyone gets a card, keeps it hidden, but looks at it.
  2. Decide if you're going to cheat or not cheat, this is public knowledge to the players.
  3. Roll gambling (+2 if you are cheating). A success and each raise earns another card.  If you roll a 1 and you are cheating, you are caught! Ramifications to this will vary, discuss later.
  4. Everyone reveals their highest card at the same time.
  5. Highest card wins. Ties are broken in reverse alpha order (SHDC).
  6. Winner receives a chip (some sort of marker to count wins).
Play should go for a pre-set number of rounds, 5 is suggested.
Player with the most chips is the winner, if there is a tie, keep playing until the tie is broken.  If you want you can limit the players to only those with chips for the 'final table'.

Card rules:
  • Jokers are immediately declared and shown face up, player gets a replacement card, and another card. The Joker simulates a player 'running the table' - making good bluffs or having genuinely good hands and on a hot streak.
  • Clubs are complications, if you do not win, you are out. If you are knocked out, the player who wins that round gets your chips.  NOTE: If your highest card is a club, you can take a chance and play it, or play a lower non-club to stay in the game.

If you want to play a non winner-takes-all tournament, you can stagger the payout with the number of chips a player has.
Each chip gets a portion of the buy-in.   Everyone should have bought in for say $100 each.  player with 4 chips gets $400, 1 chip gets $100.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hellfrost - The Bad Seed

The adventures of an unlikely band of comrades, as observed by Urto Valja
Check out other related posts: Characters

The Bad Seed
We find ourselves in Hellfrost Keep and wood, needed for both warmth and cooking, seems to be getting scarce.  All reports indicate there is an issue with the supply of the wood from the nearby Drakewood forest.  Hellfrost Keep has sent out several detachments to investigate the lack of wood, but none of the Knights have returned. We gather our things to go investigate what might be causing the problem with availability.

We get to a village near Drakewood and see villagers burying bodies, about a dozen or so.  We help out and get some information from them at the same time.  It seems the bodies were found this morning in a cart on the edge of the village, already dead.  The cart was pushed there during the night, and by the tracks, it seemed to have been done so by a bear.  Around the village we see odd bipedal tracks that appear to turn into quadruped tracks, both types from some unknown being.

After the bodies are buried, the villagers are gathering in the local inn, and we join in the discussions about the deaths and possible circumstances.  We learn that the local baron's symbol is a bear, which might lead to a connection.

Suddenly, a loud grunt of pain from a villager captures everyone's attention, and all eyes fall on him. Before our eyes, he turns into something else and starts attacking anyone around him.  We snap into action as the room clears of villagers.  After the thing is dispatched, the doors open, and the corpses that we buried earlier are walking in and attacking.  I lose my cool, and will forever remember this moment, often mumbling under my breath about rising and fighting dead.  We're fighting people that should be dead; a green substance is coming out instead of blood. Suddenly vines break the windows, pick up a villager and bash them against the wall and floor.  The corpses keep attacking us and the other villagers.  We manage to take out the walking corpses and the vines, with few losses to us or the villagers.  We burn the dead and the attacking vines to make sure they stay dead.  Snowfoot checks the body of the turned villager and notes his blood is the same green as the undead; we add him to the pyre.  The rest of the night is quiet and uneventful.

The following morning, we follow the tracks left by the cart and bipedal bear. We feel like we're being watched by the trees themselves.  The tracks lead us to a logging camp with locked gates.  A full search of the perimeter shows a large hole in the back of the camp's barricade.  We can tell that the camp was the scene of a large battle, but there aren't any bodies.  As we're searching the camp, a group of loggers approach.  We tell them what we think has happened and ask them if they know anything.  The leader steps up and introduces himself as Arlfric.  He is the leader of a different logging camp, and invites us to his camp which is only an hour away.  We ask the loggers about what they have seen and heard, and we are told many stories.  Stories of the bear make it sound like it is scouting.  Other stories talk of an elf in the forest causing all these problems.

We stay and set up watches with the camp loggers.  It's a short wait until the forest sends its minions at us again, hey attack by busting through the back wall to the camp  More plant/humanoid monsters are coming at us, probably loggers from the other camp, and converted like the man in the Inn.  Joining them are some plants that shoot dangerous spores.  Our efforts focus on these creatures, keeping them at bay when in through the front gate crashes the bear, charging in.  Runolf, Polaris and Snowfoot all turn focus on the bear, with Snowfoot's sling bullet taking the bear in the eye, killing it one shot!  The bear bleeds green, just like everything else that has been attacking us recently.

After the battle, Alfric bestows Snowfoot with a warrior's gift of a glove that is a bear paw with claws, that is useable as a weapon.  We return to our beds, but before long, scratching at the windows awakens me, and I wake the others in my cabin.  A small creature that looks like it's made from woven sticks is at the window, scratching, knocking and peering in.  Snowfoot is the only one of us who can understand what it is saying, and he tells us that we need to follow it into the woods.  It stops a few times to snack on bugs and offers its treats to us as well, which most of us decline.  We reach an ancient part of the forest, where it is obvious that we need to leave an offering of food, so we do.  We then meet with a creature of the Fey; what it is exactly, we're not sure.  She says she can't help us directly, but can answer our questions.

We ask what the green ichor blood is in the creatures that are coming back to life, and what it means.  She merely answers that an ancient war is resurging; the plants are starting a revolt and an Elf Druid is behind it.  His name is Melasion.  He wants the plants to rule the world, not the animals.  His plant minions are starting here in the Drakewood, but will soon venture further abroad, spreading the disease out into the rest of the world.  She tells us the wood wight that led us here, is now commanded to lead us to Melasion.

We travel through the forest, twisting and turning for three days and nights.  On the second night, the crew on watch are pelted with pine cones, but whatever threw them ran off when investigated.   Except for that interaction, the forest is silent, completely devoid of all sounds of life.

On the morning of the 4th day, we prepare for the confrontation with the Elven Druid.  Boosting spells are cast, and weapons are sharpened.  We approach a clearing, and inside a circle of stones stands an altar. The Elf Melasion welcomes us and bids us a good death.  His minions start closing in on us, including a converted Troll.  Meliasion casts a spell of protection; stout sticks swirl around him threatening damage to any who approach.  He focuses his magical attacks on me, while the rest of my group fan out, taking out the minions and the Troll.  Melasion and I trade magic assaults.  Finally, Melasion is surrounded and he falls quickly to the barrage of attacks.  We search his body and the area for anything that was giving him extra power.  He has a minor artifact on him; the area is a strong Earth elemental core, something I need to report to the Convocation for Earth Elementalists.  The artifact is put in Polaris' hands to take to the Reliquary.  After a short rest, we start our way back to Hellfrost Keep to report our findings. We spread our tale through the logging camps and villages along the way.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hellfrost - Characters

Savage Worlds - Hellfrost
Our group switched to Savage Worlds recently, and Mike took up the DM shield.  We're playing Hellfrost from Triple Ace Games.
These posts are past-due.  I am catching up; these games have been running for over a year now.

  • Leotrek Edricsunu, Leader of men; Saxa Human - Played by Jacob 
  • Magna Kovanen, Herbalist & two weapons master; Finnar Human - Played by Ron 
  • Polaris, Relquae; Finnar Human, Frostborn - Played by Jamie 
  • Runolf Wiglawsunu, Icerigger and handy with a bow; Saxa Human - Played by Joe 
  • Snowfoot, Cleric of Ellenhere (Goddess of Canines); Tiaga Elf - Played by Meran 
  • Urto Valhja, Prynciple of Eir (Air Elementalist);  Finnar Human - Played by James (Yours truly)
We also have a companion, Marigold - Snowfoot's canine friend.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New miniatures

I recently went hunting for modern minis for a spy / super agent game I was running at GameStorm. I ended buying a bunch of minis from here.  It's a company called Mega Miniatures, but the website is  Go figure.

The quality is fair, and the prices were cheap. The interesting thing is the guy makes his own molds and casts them in tin.  And he has zero stock, as they are made when you order them. It only took a week for me to get them in the mail.  All in all, I like the minis, and if I see more that I like, I might get some more.  I painted them up and here's how they came out.  I was going for a fast, functional paint job - not my best work, but still better than some people's painting that I've seen.

Hellfrost Minis
The first two miniatures here are ones that Meran and I painted for our Hellfrost game. I painted the Mage (my Elementalist) and she painted her Tiaga Elf.  These are NOT from the Mega Minis site, and I did spend time on mine, and Meran spent a lot of time on hers, even customizing the left  hand to have a bear claw weapon her character acquired in game, and the right to hold a sling.

These are the reason for the purpose of my buy; I wanted agents for my Agents of Oblivion game.

Zombie Killers
I got these along with the order, mundane folks with guns and stuff.  Check out the guy with the Chainsaw!  I painted it orange to match the Stihl chainsaw I purchased for myself last year.

The mini that isn't like the rest - it's a Dwarf and it's made from a plastic-like resin.  We were intrigued by the minis at Gamestorm.  End result?  A decent mini for the price, but it is LIGHT.  I glued a nickel to the bottom so it doesn't get blown over on the table by a heavy breather. 

I got a bunch of soldiers, too.  Figured they were pretty cheap, so what the heck.  I got enough now.  Two different kinds, can you spot the different sets?

I liked this guy enough to show the front and the back of his gun.

Well, that's my post.  I need to get on my Hellfrost log so you can choose to not read those, too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Savage Worlds - Horror

I've started a new game with Steve, a guy I met through a local Portland gaming mailing list. I am co-GMing, or am the GM assistant. I am the rules GM, he is the story GM. We both role play the NPC's.

The coolest part of the game is the "Horror Wheel" Steve came up with. I don't like rolling on charts much, and neither does he. And the Savage Worlds fright table is no exception. So we came up with an alternative, and a pretty good one at that.

First off, I hate the guts skill - even though we're playing a horror setting, I still think the Guts skill is too narrow. In Savage Worlds, there is a lot of combination to skills, and Guts was not one of them. We just use a Spirit check. Based on that roll, you can fail, succeed or get a raise.

If you fail, you go down on the horror wheel, and you have to make a choice of what happens to you; you can take a -1 to Notice or a -1 to Parry. It's up to the player to decide if their character would be Anxious to the point of not being as alert about their surroundings or too scared to defend themselves as well. As you fail spirit rolls, you continue to go down on the wheel, picking choices as you go.

If you succeed, congratulations, no change.

If you get a raise, you go up on the wheel - either recovering from previous fails or to advance on the wheel - to get kinda cocky.

What I like is that even if you start getting raises, your character can still go crazy / insane due to power hungry confidence. I'll post the picture of the wheel here for you to look at.

Keep it Savage!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


GameStorm 14

The annual gamefest was, for me, chock full of good times once again.  This year I GM'd two Savage Worlds games, both using the Agents of Oblivion setting from Reality Blurs.  I played in a few other Savage Worlds games, a PathFinder game and a game set in the Dresden Files universe.

And I got an upgraded hotel room, too.

Details follow for the interested, but no pictures this year...  Cuz I was lazy.


Savage Worlds - Troll Hunter

I saw the mockumentary 'Trollhunter' this year and it inspired this game.  The party is a group of secret agents in the organization called Oblivion.  Armed with some magic and spy gear, the agents are dropped into Norway under the guise of investigating wild bear attacks.  The bears are a ruse that the Norwegian government is using to mask the reality - Trolls.  Early in the first encounter their guide, Hans the Trollhunter, gets killed.  This leaves the agents with a lot of unknowns and equipment they need to figure out.  The gist of the game is a new evil has shown up and scaring the Trolls enough for them to start encountering (and killing) people.  I set up 3 Troll encounters, each a little nastier than the previous one.  Due to time constraints, I opted out of the third Troll encounter.  For the second encounter, the group meets a native shaman who is looking for the same thing the agents are, but he knows where an ancient temple where they may find the answers.  The cave does provide two magical rituals to aid the agents in their quest, although one of the stone tablets is broken, and the missing piece is in the Trollhunter's trailer.  The finale was a dragonesque creature that is made up of thousands of human bodies.  Every protuberance ends in a human face, including tentacles.  It summons minions and has fear-based attacks, as well as physical attacks.  The party manages to kill the creature, and it shatters into a thousand bodies.  About 10 minutes after the beast's death, the bodies start wriggling, trying to reform into the creature.  The missing tablet piece needs to be researched quickly, and in time, the creature manifests again, forcing the agents into another battle with it.  They manage to get it down again, and the second ritual stops the beast.  At least for the next 1,000 years or so.

Self Critique:  I did some dumb things - I set up the minis and map oriented towards myself, and in some discussion with other players and GMs, this probably wasn't the best scenario for a Con.  All of the characters were 'fish-out-of-water' and I let my excitement for the plot / story override my balance of characters and game.  Still, the players all had fun, and liked my use of props (especially when I dumped about 100 minis on the table as the massive beast shattered into 1,000 corpses).

Hotel Room

I use my Hilton points every year for a free hotel room, and I usually get an upgraded room.  This year was pretty cool - I got the Presidential Suite.  It was epic, and I even moved one of my games up there for a quieter game.  The Con has two RPG game rooms with 6 tables in each room - my room was bigger than one of the RPG rooms, easily.  And it had a guest bathroom.  That's how big it was.

Savage Worlds - Superheros

My buddy Ron ran a game using the Super Powers Companion and we all played superheros.  Set in the early 1940s, our superhero group is called the Justice Eye.  One of our ex-members, the Lightning Bug, seems to be the new evil in town.  The game opens with us meeting with the city officials about four recent suicides that are very suspicious, all of them in the last 24 hours. Each person was a high-level executive at a record company. The meeting is brought to an abrupt end when an attack occurs on the building.  Minions swarm the area outside the building but we manage to thwart a kidnapping.  We fought robots, stopped a missile attack, and shut down a rocket ship escape (heading to the moon).  It was a good game.

Critique: The end was odd; we stopped a Rocket from taking off, and the main bad guy was trapped on the moon.  The enemy was defeated by the government using technology rather than a bad-guy face off.  It was a little unexpected; the game was very exciting and fun.


Call of Cthulhu - "15 minute rule"

I really want to try the Call of Cthulhu system. "The Man", A. Scott Glancy was running several throughout the weekend, and I scheduled this one.  It was supposed to start at 9:00 am; at 9:15 am, there was still no GM, so I used my "15 minute rule" and found something else. I guess he showed up 5 minutes after I left, but by then I was a Russian fighting off Nazis in Weird War II...

Savage Worlds - Weird War II

John McNichol was running this. He was a player I'd played with before in other games, particularly a short-lived Serenity campaign a few years back.  This game was fun: we fought off some Nazis, met some locals, and helped them out.  Turns out the 'lights' on the hill was a buried alien ship, complete with psionic Greys and a robot guardian.  We reunited a Mother and a Son (although the Mother had apparently been gone for almost 70 years, so there was an odd age difference), killed the kidnapping, probing aliens and got our truck back to working order.  Oh, and the political leader of our party didn't make it out alive.  Seems that the Aliens and he both had telekinetic powers, and that wasn't good.  At least that's our story, and we're sticking to it.

Critique:  A great game, good plot, and engaging gameplay.  As a proponent for Savage Worlds I was biting my tongue at some rule calls, but John ran the game well and kept it simple - which is important for everyone in order to have fun.  I am not sure if he was using older rules (he did have a Savage Worlds hardcover original book in hand) or if he house-ruled stuff, but there were particulars that were not in the current rule set.  I didn't mind them, but when GMs use different rules for games, players may become confused about the Savage Worlds system.

Fate System - Dresden Files

This was a game Meran and I both wanted to play, and it was the only Dresden Files game on the docket, so we signed up.  Our characters were all normal people, no mystical powers what-so-ever, but we had experienced odd occurrences.  My character was kind of a Batman, named "Meganinja" - a rich kid who wants to start up a gang of heroes to clean up the streets of Portland.  We headed off into the night to investigate missing teens around NE Alberta Street.  We get attacked by some teens and figure out that they have been entranced somehow.  In what seems like a rescue in a graveyard, we meet a lady named Leah.  She points us into a mausoleum where we meet Necromantica, who is raising zombies; she disappears with them.  We're invited to a party by her, and meet a man named Morgan who tells us to go home.  We don't heed his warning. Instead, we head into a labyrinth to look for Necromantica and her party.  We encounter and kill three zombies, find a few prize items, and eventually find Morgan again, unconscious and chained up.  We cannot help him, so we continue on to find Necromantica, raising another undead, this time a very powerful creature.  We fight it as best as we can, when Morgan comes in and kills the thing.

Critique:  I still don't care for the Fate system, Dresden or otherwise.  The concept of Aspects and using them is too abstract for me. Maybe that just means I suck at creative role playing, but in both Fate games I've played (Dresden this year and Spirit of the Century last year), the Aspects were the driving force of the game, and I just don't get them.  As far as the game play, the game was good, up until the Labyrinth.  I felt this was unnecessarily long and winding, cutting into the dramatic end scene significantly.

Horror Rules - The Dwellers Beneath

I was an observer for this game; I showed up 30 minutes late.  Last year, Meran and I met Chris Weedin through a panel, and I wanted to play in one of his games.  Alas, this one was full and all his others conflicted with my other games.  I watched as a monster from the depths of the sea ravaged an old oil platform, now a science research station, by jumping from brain to brain of the staff.  The game ended with me not being the only observer, but there were nine others as well.  All of the players were excellent, and the humor was high. ("No Oregano? That's going to ruin the pancakes tomorrow!")

Critique: I couldn't play, so obviously this was the glaring flaw in the game.


Savage Worlds - Bullet Extraction

This game was sent to me from Reality Blurs, written by Ed Wetterman.  The game was written using the beta rule set, so I had to update the characters a bit.  With the game, I got handouts and train car maps.  I also suggested we play in my big ass hotel room so that it'd be a little quieter.  After I convinced them that they really did want the Hacker as part of the team, we got started.  This game has a strong time element; when the mission starts, they have 5 minutes to grab a briefcase from an enemy agent on the train.  Each game minute is a timed 15 minute segment in real time.  The sixth minute is for the team to get extracted off of the top of the train.  There is also an option for planting a double agent - which I did.  I talked to a player ahead of time, and gave him the information.  Unfortunately, his character was incapacitated during the mission and so we couldn't do the big reveal.  Also unfortunately, I mistimed the game and when our slot ended at noon, everyone had another game to go to, we weren't done; we were on minute 4 of 5 (6 really) which means it would have taken 30 more minutes to finish the game.  The players all said they had a great time regardless of this.  I have to say I believe them because there were a lot of great comments as they were leaving.

Self Critique: Time management was the main problem.  I built the slot for 3 hours, and I knew the game should last 2.  I still went over 30 minutes, which is a 90 minute screw-up.  This was a well designed game and every member of the team was useful.

Pathfinder - Way of the Wicked

This was probably the most talked about game at the Con - at least with everyone I interacted with.  The game used Dwarven Forge bits, and a lot of them.  He had two layers separated with plexiglass.  A lot of setup for him, but a heck of a set of props.  The game was a group of evil characters in prison, three days from execution.  We had to work together to get out, which was amusing to have evil characters forced to work together.  It was a good game, and at the end of the game, the GM rated us with a B+ based on our performance.  This was also my first Pathfinder game, even though I played a lot of D&D 3.5, PathFinder is essentially the same system, with some tweaks.

Critique: We were prisoners and our character sheets were empty of equipment.  As we gained equipment it would have been nice to get stats of the weapons and armor as we acquired it.  Especially when we acquired our 'Gifts'.  As we were breaking out, our various deities gave us critical equipment; the GM described it with great flourish, but we didn't get stats.  Other than that, which is more of a rules knowledge gap, the game was a fun one!


This was my first Con to run RPGs for.  I learned a LOT.  Running games at a Con is a different beast than running them for your weekly group.  One good thing I did before in prep was player aids.  I got a lot of good comments and thanks for providing good player aids.  The best ones were the cards that described every spell, edge, hindrance and other items that need a paragraph of text to explain.  Instead of handing the book around and everyone trying to figure out their character's special stuff, it was already there in front of them, on 2.5" x 3.5" cards.  This was something I found from 'Trigger' on the Reality Blurs forums.

In preparation for the Con, I joined the Savage Worlds Explorer's Society, and now I get to promote Savage Worlds.  Next year, GameStorm may have a Savage Saturday Night!