Sunday, November 17, 2019

[Review] Maquis Solo Board Game By Side Room Games

In your small French village during WWII, the Nazi occupiers walk the streets, policing the population and fighting the Resistance. But you will not stand for this oppression. You bravely fight for your country; hidden in the shadows, you strike; you are a member of the Maquis.
Maquis is a solo adventure board game by Side Room Games, makers of another fantastic solo game, Black Sonata. In Maquis, you have two weeks to complete two random missions from the Mission deck. You place your Resistance markers on the board representing your village, attempting to gather up supplies and weapons to complete your objectives. However, as you do so, the civilian police walk the streets, looking for dissidents. Sure, you can kill them, but then they are replaced by heavily-armed soldiers, increasing the challenge of the missions.

During setup, you place the morale marker next to the board. With each day, the morale of the town drops, and the military presence grows stronger, so you must complete your missions before it becomes impossible to do so. You then draw two mission cards and lay them at the top of the board, effectively adding two new "spaces" to the board. Each mission has different objectives, ranging for the simplistic "Officer's Mansion" (tag graffiti around the board to increase morale) to the difficult "Assassination" (kill all of the civilian police force). You place your pieces on the board with your objectives in mind. Need food? Stop by the Grocer's. Need a weapon? Take some money to the Fence and buy one. Need something in a hurry? Call in an airdrop at one of the Radio Towers, then race to the Field to pick it up. After each round, you must be able to move via a cleared path back to the Safe House. If your marker cannot do so, they are arrested and out of the game. (Fortunately, you can recruit more Resistance soldiers at the Cafe.)

Another interesting tactic is to use money to open new Safe Houses on the board, so if you are cut off, you can take refuge there. You can also use money to set up other resources on the board such as a Counterfeiter (print more money), Propagandist (increases morale), or Informant (provides intel). In fact, some missions require you to set up an additional resource as the mission cannot be completed with them (a Chemist's Lab is the only place you can get explosives, for example).
In the game shown here, my missions were "Officer's Mansion" (graffiti in three locations on the board, then tag the officer's mansion last) and "Aid the Spy" (bring weapons, money, and food to the hidden British operative). I tackled the graffiti first (shown by the yellow markers), but three of my operatives were arrested in the process. Fortunately I had recruited the cafe patrons to the cause and still had two to assist the spy. Sadly, while delivering the weapons, both recruits were out on the streets and were cut off from escaping back to the Safe House by two patrols that set up at the Grocers and Pont Leveque, ending the game.
This solo game is fantastically designed and incredibly replayable due to the 14 different missions you can undertake. The decisions you make each round directly affect future moves and actions, so the game never feels random or directionless. Thus far, I've played six games, but I haven't won yet, though I've come close. But that's life behind the lines as a member of the Maquis! Viva La Resistance!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

[MCC RPG] Ancient Armory: Chainsaw Nunchucks

Weapon: Chainsaw Nunchucks
Tech Level: 2
Complexity Modifier: 4

Range: 10-foot radius
Damage: 7d6
Power: Uses gasoline fuel; tanks depleted after 10 minutes of use

Chainsaw nunchucks is a weapon that combines the nimbleness and grace of a martial-arts-trained ninja with the savage brutality of a crazed lumberjack. It may not have the terror-inducing "WTF?!" effect of, say, the Rocket-Propelled Chainsaw, but if you encounter an NPC swinging a pair of these around, someone is guaranteed to lose a limb.

The design of a pair of chainsaw nunchucks is fairly simple -- a pair of standard lumber-cutting chainsaws joined together in the rear by a short length of chain. In the hands of a skilled user, the running chainsaws swirl and twist around the body of the attacker, creating a spinning vortex of limb-severing damage to all within 10 feet of the user. Contact with one of the saws will do 7d6 hit points of damage to the unlucky individual.

Using a pair of chainsaw nunchucks should only be attempted by the strongest and most dexterous of individuals. Due to the weight of the weapon (20 lbs.) and the fortitude required to keep it moving, only characters with STR and STA scores over 17 can attempt to wield it. Also, a character must have a minimum AGL score of 18 to even try to learn to use the device. Only the most nimble -- and foolhardy -- of PCs should attempt to teach themselves the art of "chainsaw nunchuckery." If they are driven to learn, the judge is encouraged to roll for full damage with each failed AGL save (DC 20). If the PC is able to train long enough -- and if they haven't lost an arm in the process -- the judge should go ahead and reward them with mastery of the weapon, making for some very interesting future combat encounters.

(This weapon was originally designed for Mutant Future)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

[DCC RPG] Savage Menagerie: Blood Imp (AKA "Hemogoblin")

This blood-thirsty goblin was originally created for Labyrinth Lord, but I felt he could be a great addition to DCC RPG, so here's my conversion...

BLOOD IMP: Init +0; Atk bite -1 melee (1d3) or as weapon -1 melee; AC 10 + armor; HD 1d6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP infravision
30’; SV Fort -1, Ref +2, Will -1; AL L.

The Blood Imp is an offshoot of Goblin (DCC rulebook, page 417) though it stands slightly taller than its Goblin cousins (slightly less than 4 feet tall) and has a crimson tone to its flesh. Blood Imps live underground in a loose tribal fashion, though some above-ground camps have been encountered. Blood Imps do not suffer any penalties in sunlight, though their infravision is not as effective, ranging around 30' in the darkness.

The Blood Imp always appears to be caked in dried blood and grue. This is because the creature can actually heal itself using the blood of a victim. If injured, the Blood Imp can rub the spilled blood of an enemy upon its skin which will heal the Imp for 1d4 hp of damage. It takes one action for the Imp to apply this "blood salve" to its wounds, and healing is instantaneous. The blood used can be from any fallen foe. In fact, Blood Imps have been known to slaughter weaker members of their tribe solely to use their blood to heal the stronger members during active combat.

NOTE: I misspelled "hemoglobin" earlier today, and that misspelling inspired this vicious creature!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Play or DIE Mini-Gaming Con in Athens, Ohio, Nov. 16


Just discovered a small one-day mini-con in my neck of the woods next weekend. (OK, so the "neck" is a bit more than 2 hours away. It's still in the state.) Hosted by Ratha Con (love the name), Play or DIE is a one-day affair that runs 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Athens Community Center in Athens, Ohio. Sounds like there will be boardgames, videogames, and - yes - RPGs there for attendees to try out and play during the day. I'm still riding a bit of a "gaming high" after last week's Gamehole Con attendance, plus I want to give my next MCC RPG adventure "The Desk in Room 8-10" a bit more playtesting, so I'm planning on driving down for the day to check it out. Current plans are to run "Dead In The Water" from noon to 4 p.m., then "Desk" from 4 to 8 p.m. If you're in the area, swing by and check it out with me! Here's the link for ticket and event info.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

[NaGa DeMon] This Year's Projects: Cryptworld, Quill, and MCC RPG

As National Game Design Month gets underway, I've already got a good start on three seperate projects! Will I get them all completed? Well, no, probably not. But my goal is to get one, maybe two across the finish line before this month is up! Here's a sneak preview of my works-in-progress:

First up, I'm working on Issue 5 of my Creepy Comic Conversion series. For this series, I take a classic horror comic in the public domain from the 1940s-1950s and convert the tale into an adventure for the Cryptworld RPG. In this story from Mister Mystery magazne, the players will join "Department G" in their quest to rid the New York subway tunnels of "The Subway Terror!"

Once that's done, my next project will be to finally get my follow-up to Quill Quest written up. This adventure is "Quill Quest II: Tomb of the Raven Queen" for the Quill Letter-Writing Solo RPG. (A system I particularly like, having also written Quill Noir for the system.)

And, time willing, I plan to clean up my notes and adventure script to my next Mutant Crawl Classics adventure currently in playtesting, "The Desk in Room 8-10"!

So, how about you all out there? What do you plan to hammer out in the next 25 days?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Gamehole Con Day 3: The Threat Of Baron Von Bloodstayne And The Rarest Of The Rare Collectibles

Day Three of Gamehole Con is winding down for me, so you'll be reading this after I've turned in for the night. The weather has gotten much better (still cold, but the snow has melted and the temps have warmed up a bit), and tomorrow morning I'll be heading back home to Ohio. So let's recap what happened today, my last full day at the con...

  • Today's t-shirt is one I designed through Spoonflower and Zazzle. It's the Classic RPG Map shirt, and here's a link if you'd like one for yourself. (Makes a great Christmas gift for the gamer in your life!)
  • If you "Go Green" here at the hotel by not using the housekeeping staff, you get a $10 voucher each day. So for two days, I made my bed and hung up my towels to dry. In return, I got $20 in hotel vouchers. And this morning, I treated myself to breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It's like the they say: "Free pancakes are the best pancakes!"
  • Today, I ran three new players through a playtest round of FORSOOTH!, my upcoming comedy-fantasy RPG. The team of a ranger, thief, and druid were tasked with stopping the machinations of Baron Von Bloodstayne who was amassing an army to overrun the lands! Highlights included: the thief talking two minions out of their armor as well as convincing them of an upcoming party; the ranger nearly falling to his death, but when the druid came to help, he was left dangling where the ranger once was. (And when the ranger tried to help pull up the druid, they BOTH ended up there. Of course, the thief sighed and came to help.) The druid argued to every minion that "leather armor is murder!" Later, the ranger, fired from a trebuchet, fired arrows into a wyvern before landing on its face while in flight. (The wyvern was NOT pleased.) The druid tried to convince the wyvern to throw off its oppressor, which it did...before sending a fireball into the face of the druid. Finally, the thief launched off a keep's tower, landed on the wyvern and delivered a deathblow, before parachuting back to safety. FORSOOTH! It was quite an adventure for the ages! Thanks guys! Beware of exploding chickens!
  • Saw and picked up Cartographers. I'm a sucker for solo-play games, and I've heard this game has been getting great reviews from the boardgame community. Love stumbling across finds like this at game cons!
  • Because yesterday was quite taxing, I'm still trying to recover. Came back to my hotel and took a well-earned nap. (Hey, I'm over 50! Naps are necessary to keeping this well-tuned machine of a body operating smoothly!)
  • I swung by the Goodman Games booth and BS'ed with Brett for a bit before picking up the unsold copies of "Dead in the Water." These are going to be shipped directly to The Dark Master and will likely be on sale on the Goodman Games online storefront very soon!
  • Finally, to end the day, I attended the Gamehole auction where they auctioned off the rarest of the rare gaming collectibles, with proceeds going primarily to Extra Life. I saw items up for bids that I had never seen before up close: 1st edition very good copies of the original D&D Player's Handbook and Dungeonmaster's Guide; the first piece of Greyhawk fiction penned by Gary Gygax; incredibly rare modules, adventures, supplements; and many MANY items went for several thousand dollars. I kept my hands firmly in my pockets as I was out of my league, but it was grand seeing these museum-like items from gaming history.
  • And, with that, my attendance here at Gamehole Con comes to an end. I'll be packing up and heading back to Ohio early tomorrow morning. I had a great time at my first GHC and hope to make it back again very soon. I also hope you readers enjoyed these missives from the convention trenches, and I encourage everyone to attend a convention of your own!

And finally, the last pictures from Gamehole Con:

 "Free pancakes are the best pancakes!"

 FORSOOTH! We had a great time! Thanks again to Ethan, Patrick, and Christian for playtesting the game with me. Hope you enjoyed meeting Baron Von Bloodstayne!

The freeplay boardgame area has been busy the entire event. 

Down the hallway, the Last Hope LARP team were showing folks the fire art of boffer combat.

 The miniature paint and take was always busy. I need to do that one year. My minis suck.

 An arial view of the Dealer Hall shortly before it closed for the evening.

 And the GHC Auction is underway with many (MANY) rare collectibles. Nearly everything was wildly out of my price range.
 The auction was still going on into the evening.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Gamehole Con Day 2: Housefly Riding, Mechanical Arm Wrestling, And Healed To Death

It's day two here at Gamehole Con, and today it's MUTANT, MUTANTS, MUTANTS! I'm running three back-to-back (to back) games of Mutant Crawl Classics. My first game is a playtest of a new adventure I have in the works. The second is the adventure I recently released. And the third is something I wrote for this Gongfarmer's Almanac. Kinda proud that the next 12 hours will be solely material that I created myself.

Games start at 9 a.m. and it's 7:47 a.m. as I start this blog post. As usual with these little travelogues, I'll share what I've seen and done throughout the day and it will go live later tonight, which is --NOW-- to you obviously. Here we go:
  • Dropped off a armload of free swag to the freebie table. Rulebooks I no longer use, extra Cryptworld adventure swag I had on hand, etc. So come and get 'em!
  • Oddly, the three games I'm running back-to-back (to back) are at different tables. So every four hours, I need to pack up, move to a table nearby, and re-setup. That was a bit annoying and likely due to computerized table assignment. Would've been nice to, you know, stay at the same table for 12 hours.
  • The first game today was "The Desk In Room 8-10". The team investigated a recently exposed Ancient structure that was emitting an orange glow. Without warning, they found themselves reduced to 1/8 inch in height! Highlights included one team member catching and training a housefly ("Steve"). Later, while trying to ride Steve, the same mutant slipped and fell one scale-mile ala Wile E. Coyote! (He SOMEHOW survived!) One mutant found a Swiss Army Knife that -- at present size -- he used as a makeshift sword. A teleporting scorpion gave them some trouble, and later the battle was joined as the team raced The Ravenous Ones on stampeding silverfish while trying to repair the A.I. responsible for their reduced size. They succeeded and found themselves restored and outside again -- with some very oversized weapons scavenged from the micro-world! (As well as a pet housefly that was now 3 feet tall.)
  • Next up, my merry band of mutants set sail in "Dead in the Water". I, of course, love this adventure as it always becomes a flurry of excitement. The players managed to turn back the slow onslaught of The Drenched, and the first deaths occurred at the teeth of hungry Great White Gulls that attacked on their sea voyage to the Island of Fire. I had two mutants yanked off a ladder by flying spiders and into the clutching hands of the water-logged zombies below. Within the underwater lab, FOR THE FIRST TIME, someone managed to get the giant manipulator arms working, and used them to great effect against the Big Bad Monster at the end, literately clubbing it to death with a giant robot arm. THAT is MCC RPG at its finest!
  • To round out the day, I had my final set of players searching for "The Desert Gardens", which was an adventure I wrote for the Gongfarmer's Almanac. The game started badly when, while crossing the Sharpsand Desert, a Silane Serpent exploded from the ground and swallowed one mutant whole. After finding the hidden entrance, another mutant died of sandfly bites and another died when they began retching upon exposure to a Corpse Flower in full bloom (they literally died throwing up). My favorite was the one who was using a Medishot to cure the others. It only had two doses so when he "stabbed" it into a third mutant, he did a point of damage, and actually killed them! The players managed to rack up a lot of seeds and plant clippings for their village, which ticked off the Sentinel guarding the facility. They made short work of it and, finding a hover car and a friendly agro-bot, they rode back to their village as heroes.
  • Over all, the three games I ran went VERY well, and I hope the players had a good time. I know I did!
And here are some nifty keen pictures of the day's activities...
Although I didn't run any Cryptworld games at GHC, I left plenty of swag for the Halloween season!

  This lucky group of mutants were the first to encounter the horrors to be found within "The Desk in Room 8-10"!

And because a Swiss Army Knife is featured prominently in the adventure, each players got their own MCC RPG Ancient Multi-tool AKA "Rover's Friend"!
 Yet another group of MCC RPG players about to take voyage to The Island of Fire in "Dead In The Water"
And everyone who played got a copy of the new adventure that was just released, and some even asked me to sign 'em!