Sunday, December 11, 2016

A weekend away

I have just got back after a long weekend visiting my parents in my hometown, which, combined with a busy period at work and all the usual Christmas functions, means not a lot has happened on the gaming front over the last week or so.

However in addition to seeing friends and family, and maybe drinking a touch too much, there were some hobby related activities.

Mum and dad wanted me to go through a couple of old boxes I had left with them to check whether I still wanted what was in them. I uncovered a treasure trove of old gaming goodies including old gaming books, Magic: The Gathering cards, RPG character sheets, and character sketches. Most things got sealed back up ready for another day when we're passing through with the car, though I couldn't resist bringing a couple of things home.

This includes some classic White Dwarf magazines from way back when I first started with the second edition of Warhammer 40,000. Looking through these is great fun and reminds me about how of a real hobby magazine this was  before it became just glorified advertising in later years (though I should note that I understand it is returning to more of hobby magazine in its most recent incarnation.)

I repeatedly pored through these magazines like religious tracts back in the day, and, looking through them again, I'm struck by how much of the miniature design of this era influences my tastes even today.

I also had to include this classic Games Workshop action shot.

Look at that table...
I also managed to squeeze in a visit to "my" gaming store, the wonderful Mark One Comics and Games.

Mark One was an important part of my teenage years. The kindly owner Chris was incredibly patient as my friends and I spent hours hanging out in the store, thumbing through role playing books, picking up miniatures or looking through gaming cards. He would also generously sponsor local gaming events and tolerate us generally cluttering up the place.

To this day I always make a special point of visiting when I am in town and spending some money as a bit of a payback. Not that this is hard, because Chris runs an excellent gaming store, with a great mail order service. In my mind, it still represents the high-water mark of what a gaming store should be.

Finally I had these waiting for me when I got back home, with only a little bit of water damage from their book depository journey.

I have been looking forward to giving Team Yankee a crack, and although it is unlikely I'll get close to reading through them this side of Christmas, these will definitely be something to get into over the break.

However first up is finishing the Yellow Sign Radlanz gang. I've been making a little more progress on them, but hopefully I can get them knocked off this weekend.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Horror on the Orient Express - Dr Arthur Ambler

Earlier this week I joined my group of Thursday night irregulars to continue our epic play-through of the remastered Horror on the Orient Express for Call of Cthulhu.

I have been playing with this same group of awesome people for around five or six years now. We've been led by our talented GM through a number of campaigns for Call of Cthulhu, including Masks of Nylarthotep and Beyond the Mountains of Madness. Now we're reaching the climax on this latest adventure after kicking off way back in July 2015.

We have been having a fantastic time throughout the campaign with many strange encounters, dramatic fights and madness-inducing horrors. We've only got a few more sessions left for the main campaign, and while all the characters have made it this far (sometimes only just), we may not all make through to the end.

Along our the way our GM has been cataloging our adventures while also reviewing the campaign at the same time. It is a great read, and I can see this turning into a fantastic resource for anyone else who might want to run the campaign one day.

My addition to this group of stalwart investigators is Dr Arthur Ambler MD, a family doctor from Arkham who has been caught up in events beyond his control.

Arthur does bear a striking resemblance to President Taft

Although loud and prone to pomposity, I like to think of Arthur as the father figure of the group. It is usually Arthur who tends to offer-up sagely advice, and who helps patch up the others when they come back battered and bleeding. He is also the one whom tends to make the call about how to proceed next when the group reaches an impasse about the next move.

Arthur is tremendous fun to play, and was a case of having a character emerge pretty much fully formed from when I created him. While I get to add an element of humour to the campaign due to his pompous posturing and his habit of always looking for the next meal, I also get to be a bit of a moral compass for the group.

I find there is something of a wandering hobbit in Arthur. He is a homebody who likes his comforts, but whom is now enduring hardships beyond his imagination far from home on a quest to destroy a cursed item. Although he tends to take more of a background role in physical confrontations, he will mix it up from time-to-time to help his friends.

A hard worn character sheet

Poor Arthur has had a pretty rough time of it. He has been stabbed, shot, punched, chased, poisoned, imprisoned and tortured. He has lost and eye and has been magically aged ten years. It is all a bit much for portly man in his 60s.

Arthur has made it this far (mostly) intact despite all this adversity, so I'm hoping he can ride this train to the very end. It's not going to be easy though, so the next couple of months will tell if he gets to make it back to his quiet life in Arkham or not.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Radlandz - Origins of the Cult of the Yellow Sign

Radlandz is a skirmish-level tabletop war-game created by my friend VomKrieg. It is set in a post-apocalytpic future where rivals gangs fight each other across a devastated wasteland for precious loot, fleeting glory, and their own survival.

VomKrieg wrote the game is a fever-like frenzy earlier this year. It combines a number of cool elements from different war-games and board games that we all love, as well as few of his own new, innovative ideas. It is a very good game and a lot of fun.

One of the appealing elements of the game is that it is miniature agnostic, meaning a player can use figures from a range of different product lines. There is also a Necromunda like campaign system, which can see your gang rise up from the wastes to become the kings of the Randlandz.

Building a gang in Randlandz first involves choosing an identity, which is really the key defining feature of your gang. That largely anchors both the play-style and the theme of the gang.

As one of the play-testers for the game, I had to build a gang, which as a first step involved choosing an identity for it. This was a rare case of having a clear concept in mind before I started creating something.

I knew early on after hearing about Radlandz that I wanted to play a gang of cultists inspired by Hastur, and his wicked, beguiling Yellow Sign.

"Tell me, have you seen the Yellow Sign?
So began the Cult of the Yellow Sign. I liked the concept of a group of raving mad cultists roaming the wastes of the Radlandz led by a Lovecraftian wizard who is slowing growing his insane congregation, like a fringe Pentecostal movement. In this way, I wanted the Yellow Sign to be both a symbol of the gang, and a representation of their madness.

Looking down the list of identities, Arcane seemed the best thematic fit for my concept, with access to powerful spells, some pretty neat specialist characters, and some nasty weapons.

I also liked the idea of having a corrupt avatar of Hastur - the King in Yellow - as the cult leader, slinging spells across the battlefield and spurring his gibbering followers on to even more depraved acts.

I will cover the models for the gang in a future post (when I have finished painting them), but I knew there would be some common thematic elements that I wanted to have: masks, robes, wizards, and wicked close combat weapons. I also knew yellow and black would be the dominant colours.

Below is a first model I painted up as a test for the cult. I selected one of the wonderful Chaos Cultist miniatures that Games Workshop released a couple of years ago, which are perfect for Radlandz.

Certainty a work in progress
In terms of combat, I also know that I wanted the gang to favour melee over shooting, given the are all raving madmen. Thankfully Radlandz put an emphasis on close-combat as being the 'pointy end' of the game, and this approach is supported by some handy special skills for the Arcane identity.

In the next post I'll go through more of the gang and how they all fit together.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New beginnings

So far 2016 has been a pretty crappy year for me for a number of reasons.

Gaming in its broadest sense has been one of the things which has helped to get the through. It's a way to express my creativity, experience cool stories, and hang out with my friends.

As part of getting through this year, I have decided to set up a wee blog to record my thoughts and ideas about my hobby of choice. It is purposefully going to be low stress, so I'm going to aim for a post a fortnight, with posting occurring more or less frequently as life takes me.

In terms of what it will cover, my interests are pretty broad, so expect all kinds of tabletop gaming (war-gaming, role-playing, board games) and video games, as well as occasional forays into related film and other media. Basically whatever takes my fancy.

In case you are wondering about the title 'High Ambition - Low Skill', it sums up my general approach to gaming, particularly painting miniatures, at which I'm generally a bit rubbish. However I'm always keen to learn and get better, and maybe this blog will help.

My first proper post will likely be about my project for Radlandz, an exciting skirmish-level war-game being developed by my friend VomKrieg.