Monday, 12 September 2016

Moving House & Recent Nerdity

Living in boxes
 So I have been absent for a while for which I must apologise, but not much nerdity has been happening.  You see, Sister Superior and I are moving house - to be exact, we're buying our first ever place and we have been going through the packing and paperwork associated with that.

The flat is a bit of a riot as a consequence and much of my wargaming and boardgaming stuff is in boxes - RPGs are next on the list.  Combine the fact that the spare room has stopped being "the nerd room" and started being "the place we keep boxes in" and I imagine you can see why not much has been getting played or painted in the Quailcave.

Damnit, Atmosfear is an awkward shape

"But why don't you do some gaming at someone else's house", you may ask?  Well, sir, that would be because if Sister Superior was busy trying to arrange home insurance or chuck out old clothes while I'm playing at spacemen then she would probably be... unimpressed.  Not to mention that clambering over the boxes of packed stuff to dig out Dreadnoughts and Hobgoblins would probably be considered unhelpful.

No, I'm afraid realistically not much Warhammer related stuff has happened in the last few weeks nor will it happen in the next week either - not at least until the final switcheroo happens mid October.  Until then I need to be productive and not shirk my duties in front of Sister Superior.

That's me, that is.
 It'll be worth it in the long run, of course.  As well as owning the property we will also have slightly more room.  It's three bedrooms rather than two, which means the nerd room can be a dedicated nerd room while the third bedroom can be a study or possibly even a glam room for my better half.  There's a garden shared with only one other house, a big change from the six to sixteen families I've had to share outdoor space with for the last decade.

But best of all, there's a loft and a shed.  A real garden shed, ideal for spray painting!  Loft space ideal for terrain storage!  Truly this is a nerd dream and continues my transformation into the dad from Friday Night Dinner.

Martin Goodman was the first time I empathised with a father, not a son, in a TV show.
 Anyway, I do have some stuff you haven't been told about.  I haven't spoken about the last few games of Anachronista 40,000...
Killerating things on this rather pretty urban terrain

...nor have I spoken about my thoughts on Chaos Space Marines finally getting a new rule book....

Well, I say "new".... but that's a comment for another time!
...but instead let's focus on where I've been more productive of the last few weeks, which is roleplaying.  What have my Thursday night crew been doing in our imaginary lands?


Sexy Ruby Joker Girl got less funny and more scary.

We finished off the DC Adventures game with a final escapade that featured Sexy Ruby Joker Girl giving us a Knightfall-esque total Arkham Asylum breakout.  So far so fairly predictable, though of course it's a good excuse to reuse a bunch of old villains and introduce some ones new to the players.  I explained a bit of my reasoning back in July and I'm sure you can mostly imagine how this was going to go.

Except it turned out there was a wee twist in the tale.  Sexy Ruby Joker Girl wasn't just breaking everyone out of Arkham for a laugh - she was also after a particular inmate.  One who was crippled and in his own special cell but still alive and something of an inspiration to her.

Are you frowning when you read this?  Why so serious?

Somewhere in between Mark Hamill and Stephen Hawking
Yes, in a secretive level at the bottom of Arkham Asylum was The Joker - who, in our slightly different telling of the events of the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker movie was not killed but permanently crippled years ago.  Still alive thanks to science, drugs and a general brutal disregard for mortality he finds himself being pushed at the head of Sexy Ruby Joker Girl's surreal chaos, contributing occasional bon mots in Stephen Hawking style text-to-robot-speed.

Things get progressively more messed up.  They aren't just breaking out on any day - they're doing it on Bruce Wayne's birthday.  They aren't just doing it to annoy Batman - they're paying him a visit.  And in the end Sexy Ruby Joker Girl reveals it's not about paying tribute to the Joker - no, she kills him off so she can prove she's not just a comedy cover version.

"The greats all reinvented themselves every so often", she said.  "David Bowie; Madonna; Lady Gaga; The Joker.  New faces and new styles for new eras.  Ziggy Stardust; Human Nature; Jo Calderone - they reinvented themselves.  And today, I am going to reinvent myself... as a supervillain"

Bruce Wayne's survival - not assured.

I had a few different ideas for how this finale would go, and at one point that included bumping off Bruce Wayne.  He survived to grumble another day, though Sister Superior told me she had very much expected that a Reichenbach Falls ending with Bruce and the Joker seemed like where it was going to her. 

Inevitably a Joker adventure still has to have a body count and poor old Saturn Girl did not do so well - dead for a period of time she was in a vegetative state, unable even for the super science of the comic book 21st century.  We ended our game with a somewhat muted mood in which her superhero boyfriend Das Ritter Von Nacht was secretly researching something called Lazarus Pits...

The finale was OK but it felt a bit underwhelming to me compared to some of the strong adventures that had followed it.  The string of supervillain fights didn't really feel tiring in the Knightfall fashion because the Justice League breezed most of them; the twist of Sexy Ruby Joker Girl being the real villain seemed to gain little traction with a group convinced that The Joker Always Comes Back Anyway.  I did at least enjoy getting to do a Heel-Face Turn with one of the less unpleasant super villains and open up the possibility for a Teen Titans esque spin-off for the younger heroes (and recently villains) to do their own thing - something Matthew seems keen on.

"All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you,"

After that came a short one-off season.  First up was The Warren, an RPG using the same "Powered by the Apocalypse" engine as a couple of others we've played but with a very different setting and feel.  I picked it up in Manchester on a whim but was very impressed in practice.

As you can probably guess it's a game of playing rabbits.  Not anthropomorphic, human-intelligence or sexy rabbits - no, just regular rabbits trying to survive on planet Earth when they are bottom of the foodchain.  There's a lot of Watership Down DNA in there though the bibliography also mentions Peter Rabbit, Bambi and The Animals of Farthing Wood as possible inspiration.

Americans - if you think a game based on Watership Down would be brutal, you have no idea what horror the phrase "Farthing Wood" conjures up in a certain demographic of British people.  This is a game kids could play but it is not a kids game.

Corpses!  Animal corpses EVERYWHERE!  No wonder I grew up depressed.

 Our one-off was super simple.  The rabbits started off trapped by two little spaniels and had to find an escape; then they went foraging for food, finding a garden worth pillaging but having to fend off attack from two humans.  Everything was described in rabbit terms so a stable was a "Horse hutch", a house was a "outside burrow" and the mysterious wooden object being used to hurt them was never called a bow and arrow and not a single word of Human was ever translated.

One interesting gimmick about fatality in this game is that you can choose when you are injured to either die and make a new character or survive with a scar - but a scar removes one of your Moves from your playbook.  Therefore characters only ever die when you choose not to let them live, but survival for some rabbits will leave them as crippled wrecks who can no longer run fast, burrow well or do the impressive leaps they used to be able to.  The book and website provide many sample settings since rabbits can be found across the world in different countries at different times - modern day England, 1950s America, 10 BC Rome or 2258 Vulcan are as valid an option as any others.

This one was fairly popular and I think I'd run again, at least as a one-off.  I think it has some campaign potential as long as, like Night Witches, you accept the campaign is one where player characters can die. 

Thought For The Day: Losses Are Acceptable. Failure Is Not.

The other RPG was Deathwatch.  It's an RPG in which you play Space Marines from various chapters across the Warhammer 40,000 universe and.... well, you explode things.

A lot.

This RPG is unapologetic about being a military themed one in which most if not all sessions will be spent on military action.  The investigation of Dark Heresy and the exploration of Rogue Trader are muted in favour of a steady diet of suppressive fire, artillery strikes and chainsword wounds.  There's so many explosions it feels like Michael Bay directed this RPG.

I do have some good things to say about this game - like Pendragon, it managed to give every PC some unique gifts even though they are all sorta doing the same job.  The different Chapters give even beginners something to hook onto - "I'm Norse and loud", "I'm Scottish and like tanks", "I'm part-Cyborg and hold a grudge".  Speaking of beginners, several of my group had little to no 40K knowledge and it was positive to see that they managed to get into the gimmick fairly quickly without it all going a bit fanwanky.

That said I'm not entirely sold on the starter adventure.  Final Sanction has a Genestealer cult but that means the villains are either generic humans (who Marines can crush without breaking a sweat) or Genestealers (who are somewhat animal-like creatures and very akin to the Giger Aliens) which perhaps don't show as interesting a setup as if Eldar, Tau or another "smart" race were used.  I skimmed several of the battles with human cultists because all too often they became very one sided with the Marines crushing them slowly with no real risk of defeat.  The scenario does have some NPCs to talk to and an additional one, a slightly deranged Imperial Guard driver, gave them more chances to interact rather than kill.... but is the game just a very low-res first person shooter?

I think I'd want to play Deathwatch again to see if I could do a somewhat more involving adventure myself.  The group seem of the opinion that they'd play it again but that a campaign seems impossible.  Only Aaron disagreed and said he thought it would work better as a campaign because then we could fight out whole wars and build up more rapport with each other, but I'm not sure the others could stomach the endless explosions long enough to find out.

Anyway, with that all out the way, it's almost time to begin our next RPG which starts on Thursday and which I'll try and write about in the next week at worst.  Stay tuned for more info, true believers!

Synced up with both the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and Freshers Week

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