Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stand By Your Ape-Man

Only about two weeks late to be posted here, this was my entry in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge bonus round themed "L'Amour":

"You can't shoot him, daddy!" Bobbi Jo screamed, brandishing her own rifle.  "He ain't no varmint, he's my boyfriend!" Sasquatch, meanwhile, slunk deeper into the shadows between the trees.  He never knew what to say during family disagreements.

After a moment's tense standoff, Bobbi Jo took off running into the forest after her lover.  She really thought her daddy would have taken the news - that he was going to be a grandfather - better.  

This got a lot of positive feedback in the comments from other contestants, but startlingly few votes.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cult of Chaos: "The Parsonsville Horror"

that's me on the left in the button-down.
Tuesday night I ran my first "Cthuesday Night" game at Just Games Rochester, my new Friendly Local Gaming Store.  When I first visited the store about two weeks ago, Matt, the owner, asked me what I played, and I told him I'm primarily a Call of Cthulhu Keeper, and he immediately asked if I was interested in running games at the store, because they had one guy running Call of Cthulhu already, and demand was greater than he could keep up with.  I immediately accepted, and began making plans to run short, single-session or two-session adventures on the Tuesday nights that the other fellow's campaign - he's running The Horror on the Orient Express - was not taking place.

My event got scheduled kind of last minute, as I was keeping an eye on the scheduling of the other guy's campaign, and while it originally looked like he'd be running on the 23rd, his group switched to March 1st, so I went in and talked to Matt, let him know I wanted the 23rd, and got it scheduled.  I had originally been working on a new adventure on the assumption I'd be running on the 1st, but with the timetable moved up I decided to just put a new coat of paint on an older adventure of mine, revising "The Get of Belial" into "The Parsonsville Horror."

I ended up with three players, none of whom had any experience with Call of Cthulhu; one of them had only had one or two RPG experiences prior to this, and the other two were primarily GMs who were looking to take some time to play for a change, which I totally get.  I also instituted a "Cthuesday Night Special" with Matt, wherein any player who spent $10 or more on merchandise in the store before the game got a token they could spend to reroll one failed sanity check.

The characters selected ended up being the Newspaper Reporter (named Reggie Dade this time), the Union Leader (William Kelvin was decided upon as the character name) and a Pinkerton Agent (Sean Brosnan).

The town of Parsonsville was a small coal mining and lumber town owned by Associated Anthracite Holdings, Ltd., currently entering its third week of a miners' strike demanding better pay and improved safety conditions.  The Pinkertons (there was a second available Pinkerton Agent Investigator) were there to try and break the strike from within, and if that didn't work, the executives at Associated Anthracite were willing to call in the National Guard.  The disappearance of the on-site managing executive, Glenn Maynard, was feared by some to be the spark to set the powder keg off.

The PCs were one of many search parties combing the area for signs of Maynard, and ultimately found first his car, which had careened off the road into a ditch, and his body some thirty yards into the woods, wedged into a forked branch of an oak tree and torn to ribbons with a sharp instrument that the coroner would later declare to have been a pickaxe.

The PCs eventually picked up a trail of clues that connected the death of Maynard, and a couple subsequent gruesome murders in town, with the Rasko family - Henry Sr., a crippled former miner, his two sons Michael and Henry Jr., who were both good union boys, and his wife Sarah, a faith healer.  They piece together that a murder occurs within an hour after Sarah lays on hands for somebody, and arrange for Brosnan to get hurt in a barroom brawl in order to have her lay hands on him.

They soon learn that the killer is the monstrous "Sonny" Rasko, who has been cursed - seemingly by Satan himself - to become more horrible and more violent every time Sarah heals someone; she was told she could have her son back if she stopped healing people.  Believing God gave her the ability to heal, and that God was stronger than the Devil, she refused to give up her gift.  They also learn that any injury inflicted on "Sonny" manifests as stigmata on Sarah - and the Pinkerton promptly slits her throat in the interest of killing the creature, only to learn that the stigmata does not go both ways.

This is the third group I've run this adventure for to assume that the connection goes both ways.  I've
That's a darn nice table.  
been told I "strongly suggest" that this is the case, but I'm not sure I see how; I just describe how, when the creature is shot, Sarah blossoms with bloody wounds that look like she's been peppered with buckshot, I never say one word about it going the other way.  I think players are just trying to come up with an excuse for their murderous ways.

Beaten to death with the butt of a shotgun and a baseball bat weighted with lead, "Sonny" Rasko transformed back into a 15 year old boy upon expiring, leaving the players with a lot of explaining to do when the sheriff arrives...

This was the first time I've ever run a game in a gaming store, and it was definitely a learning experience for me.  We had some thirty people in the background playing either Magic: The Gathering or X-Wing ship combat, and so there was a *lot* of background noise; Matt was gracious enough to offer me the use of the big table front and center in the store by the register, or the back room; I opted for the big table for visibility and to be able to try and entice passerby to join the next session.  I think if I find myself with something resembling a "regular" group at the store, I'll move to the back room, but until then I'll just buy a couple bottles of water from Matt (he sells snacks and drinks at the register) to keep my throat from getting as dry and hoarse as I was by the end of Tuesday's session.

The other issue I ran into was people wanting to come up and talk to my players about other games; one of the guys at my table on Tuesday was one of the big movers and shakers in the local Guild Ball scene, and somebody came up to him wanting to show off the new team he'd just assembled and painted, meaning I basically lost a player for ten minutes.  I was a little shocked at the lack of courtesy - I mean, hello? I'm running a game here; how would you like it if I came up to your Guild Ball table and talked to your opponent about Call of Cthulhu for ten minutes, leaving you to sit there?

But, these are the perils of running a game at a gaming store; us gamers are silly kittens, easily distracted by something shiny, and this is likely to be the reality I'm going to be dealing with.  I have the choice of, effectively, "taking my ball and going home," and then nobody gets Cthulhu, or learning to address it and improve as a Game-Master thereby.

As for my players, they all seemed to have had a good time; one player had announced beforehand that he prefers playing mayhem-causing characters to "make things more fun," and then bypassed the bomb-throwing anarchist pregenerated character entirely, which surprised me.  I think he may have "checked out" a bit from the game when he realized that his actions would have consequences and change the way NPCs reacted to him, not necessarily for the better, but he rallied towards the end of the session and said he would return for future sessions.

The player I'm most hopeful for a return from is the guy who had only ever played one or two RPG sessions before this, period; primarily a Magic: The Gathering player, once he had the reporter character sheet in his hands he was hooked, absolutely spellbound by the scenario, and afterwards he gushed to me about how much he enjoyed the game, and how he felt like he was actually solving a mystery.

That's because you were, my friend.  You gathered clues, pieced them together, drew inferences, followed up on those and resolved the situation.  You solved the mystery of the murders in Parsonsville, and good on you for that.  In fact, he followed one trail of investigation that nobody in either of the previous sessions I ran of this adventure did - he checked newspaper archives and correlated towns the Raskos had lived in with a string of unsolved, gory murders, and in this case at least, correlation did imply causation.

Overall, everything went very well on Tuesday night; I had a good time running the game (even if, by the end of the session, I was losing my voice and starting to develop gaps in my memory of what I'd previously told the players), the players unanimously declared that they had a good time, Matt probably pulled in a few tens of dollars more than he might have otherwise on a Tuesday night (I didn't see the X-Wing players do much shopping, for instance) and at least a few people passed by our table and then asked Matt at the register, "What is that?!?" in reference to us.

Next week I'm going in on Tuesday to talk to the guys in the Horror on the Orient Express campaign and see if I can't Fast Talk a couple of them into joining me on the other Tuesdays, and then March 8th I'm running again - I haven't decided yet if I want the 8th to be a modern day scenario with jaded, cynical TV "ghost hunters" for PCs, or a Classic Era scenario featuring a slow-burn investigation that ramps up hard at the end.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Cthuesday: The Ny'ghan Grii

A bit of a short Cthuesday blogpost today, as I'm going to be spending my evening actually running Call of Cthulhu instead of merely writing about it.  I'll be running an adventure I've taken to calling "The Parsonsville Horror," which is a revised version of my scenario "The Get of Belial," improving on weak points identified during play.  Because of that, today's monster is one I started tweaking and re-imagining a while ago, and had just never put down on digital paper.

Originating in Henry Kuttner's short story "The Invaders," today's Cthuesday Creature is the interdimensional Ny'ghan Grii.  These have not seen a lot of use in published scenarios; about the only one I can think of is the scenario "Dead Light" in the Chaosium collection Terrors From Beyond; I've only ever run a rewritten version of the scenario replacing the three Ny'ghan Grii with a single Hound of Tindalos, so I can't really say how these creatures function in game as written.

The Ny'ghan Grii are said to lurk around places where the boundaries between dimensions are thin, awaiting sacrifices to allow them entry into our world - failing that, they can slip through whenever someone messes too much with the space-time continuum, such as, in the original story, taking drugs that send one's mind on a trip through time (and personally, I'm convinced that the time-drug taken in Frank Belknap Long's "The Hounds of Tindalos" is the same drug taken in Kuttner's "The Invaders") or casting spells that warp the fabric of reality.

As such, I think the easiest way to use the Ny'ghan Grii is to sub them in for a Hound of Tindalos - though the Ny'ghan Grii are easier to kill or drive away than a Hound - or place them as a hazard in a scenario focusing on the Great Race of Yith.  They could also be servitors of a Great Old One such as Daoloth, the Render of Veils, or even of Yog-Sothoth.

To mix things up a little more, place them in a "Dreams in the Witch House" type scenario, and have advanced mathematics research breach the barrier and let them in.  In a modern game, a quantum physics research lab could be their doorway into the world - heck, have them emerge from the Large Hadron Collider following a successful run! Let's get the 7th edition stats up here before we go any further:

STR (3d6+10)x5 = 102
CON (3d6+6)x5 = 82
SIZ (5d6)x5 = 87
INT (3d6)x5 = 52
POW (2d6+6)x5 = 65
DEX (2d6)x5 = 35
Hit Points: 17-18
Move: 2/8 flying
Av. Damage Bonus:+1d6
Build: 2

Attacks: 1d3 Tentacles OR Chilling Blast OR Devolution

Chilling Blast: by spending two Magic Points, the Ny'ghan Grii can create a blast of icy, numbing air, five feet wide by fifteen yards long, dealing 1d6 damage to creatures caught within the blast.  This attack can be Dodged.

Devolution: by spending 2d6 Magic Points and winning an opposed POW roll against a target, the Ny'ghan Grii can send the target on an irrevocable backward slide down the evolutionary ladder, regressing them through successively painful and bestial transformations into prehuman forms, before ultimately reducing them to a puddle of primordial ooze after 2d6 combat rounds.  Witnessing this being done to someone costs the viewer 1/1d6 SAN.

Fighting (Tentacle) 35%, dmg = db

Armor: 4 points of rugose alien hide.

Spells: Ny'ghan Grii know 1d6 spells on a successful INT roll.

Sanity Loss: 0/1d6 to see a Ny'ghan Grii.

Looking at the stats, it's clear these creatures are not masterminds; their intelligence is only equivalent to human average and their POW stat only a little above human average.  So they aren't going to be geniuses, but I don't think mindless monsters is the way to play them either.  Keeping in mind that they're slow and somewhat clumsy creatures, I'd be inclined to play them as cautious, cunning entities that will set traps and ambushes, using their supernatural abilities to separate humans and force them to go where the Ny'ghan grii want them to.  They're going to rely on their ability to blast cold air and their de-evolutionary abilities to terrorize and conquer.

However, there's one thing worth noting in their stat-block; there's an average chance of them knowing 1-6 spells.  I've come around to the opinion that whenever possible, you should equip monsters with spells, and the selection of spells they have can make a monster feel radically different; in the last Cult of Chaos game I ran, I had a Star Vampire with a selection of mind-controlling and hypnotic spells, which it used to divide the investigators and turn them against one another.  It added a whole new dimension of at least uncanny, if not actually fear, to an invisible blood-sucking octopus.

illustration by Mr. Bones
So what spells would be useful for the Ny'ghan Grii? Well, here's where my encyclopedic knowledge of cheesy monster movies kicks in.  The Ny'ghan Grii remind me very much of the titular creatures in the film THE CRAWLING EYE (also known as THE TROLLENBERG TERROR).  In the film, alien creatures are invading Earth starting with the environment closest to their native world - high mountain tops.  From there, they are slowly acclimating their way down towards civilization.  These aliens have some nasty abilities such as to telepathically lure victims to them, and reanimate their corpses to use against their friends.

Use that! Jiminy Christmas, if you can't get a creepy scenario out of a monster luring your friends to it, killing them, and sending their still-warm carcasses out to kill you (see also Robert E. Howard's "Pigeons from Hell") then you should be running something other than Call of Cthulhu.

To recreate the powers seen in the film, I'd give the Ny'ghan Grii the spells "Mental Suggestion," "Create Zombie" and "Create Mist of R'lyeh." Let them hide out in supernatural fog, luring their victims to them, then sending zombie minions out to round up more victims.  Keep their de-evolving power on the down-low, something that's used strictly as a last resort - with its swingy, potentially-too-high Magic Point cost (2d6!) and the fact that it's likely to be a game-ender for at least one player-character, it's the sort of thing that's an all or nothing weapon to be brought out at the climax of a scenario.  If you've got more spell slots available, I'd throw in things like "Wrack" and "Curse of the Putrid Husk" and make the creatures a species of sadists.

This results in a monster that feels very different from the tittering, luminous creatures sneaking around the beach-house looking for an entrance in the original short story.  It adds a lot more mystery and makes them much more sinister and insidious.  Disguise the swipe from your movie-loving players by moving the locale from a frozen mountain-top to a backwoods swamp overlooked by a teetering, decrepit house (as just one example).  Make that why the creature's here.  Maybe it was consciously summoned by a deranged low-country warlock, or maybe it snuck in while he was trying to cut a deal with Yog-Sothoth.  The warlock has been de-evolved into an pre-hominid or lower and is running around as a physical threat, but the Ny'ghan Grii has been patiently waiting in the house for other humans to come by.  I might be working out my own adventure for the Ny'ghan Grii with that, so let's get away from the backwoods swamp warlock before I tip too much of my hand; you never know when someone who might play in one of my games might be reading this.

Honestly, I think the Ny'ghan Grii really need this sort of "face-lift" - no disrespect meant towards Henry Kuttner, but the Invaders as originally presented...are kind of a lame monster, and I think that's a big part of why they only appear in one published scenario.  They have elements of some of the great nasties of the Cthulhu Mythos, just not the great elements of those nasties - they've got the time/dimensional connection of the Hounds of Tindalos, the wind-manipulation of the Flying Polyps, and the distinctly un-menacing vocalization of the Star Vampires.  But the resulting blend is just kind of lukewarm, rather than being a creature of menace.

I think this is actually a good place to wrap up discussion of the Ny'ghan Grii; now that I've shown you how I would tinker with and use this monster, I'd love to see other peoples' spins on them.  How would you use the Ny'ghan Grii in a game?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A bit of Frostgrave flash fiction...

I visited my new friendly local gaming store today (and it actually is both friendly and local!) and had a moment of weakness in front of the display rack of Reaper miniatures.  You see, Gina and I have a bet going this month; if I buy miniatures or books, I need to buy her a skein of yarn.  If she buys yarn or other knitting supplies, she needs to buy me miniatures.  We were both certain she was going to cave this past Monday on some hand-dyed limited edition yarn, and she told me to start picking out miniatures - and so I went on the Reaper website and began planning out another Frostgrave warband.

Then she didn't cave.

Well, in the store today, I saw 9 out of the 10 figures I would need to assemble this warband, all lined up on the rack.  And I was weak, and I purchased them (including placing an order through the store for the 10th figure, my apprentice).  So now I owe Gina some yarn.  C'est la vie.

I'm not going to post pictures of what my warband is composed of until they are painted, but for now here's a little bit of backstory for them:

"Do you feel it, master?" rasped the dry, breathless voice of the acolyte Setnakht, the words carrying like the desert wind through the darkness of the temple interior.  

Sutekh-Akhen-Ra's desiccated lips drew back in a humorless rictus.  "Had you any doubt, my apprentice? The release of such arcane power into the world once more can have only one source: Felstad thaws, my youthful student." It was a minor jest, given the centuries that had passed since Setnakht's entombment.  

"What shall be done, O great one?" whispered the younger magus.  Sutekh did not have to raise his eyeless head from the dais on which he lay to see that Setnakht's swords were already loose in their scabbards.  

"It shall be as you have guessed, my pupil," hissed Sutekh-Akhen-Ra.  "We shall leave behind our familiar surroundings.  The time of burning sands and ghoul-courts has passed, Setnakht, and the time to travel is upon us.  Gather what can be raised of the old host; I can feel great power calling to us on a cold wind."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Introducing Cthuesday with the Wendigo

Greetings, readers - a heavy winter storm has me home from work early (after needing literally 40 minutes to dig my car out of the snowbank that had formed around it) today, and unfortunately also prevents me from going out later to play - instead of run - Call of Cthulhu.  I found a new local game store recently, and when I mentioned that I mostly run Call of Cthulhu, the owner asked me if I would be interested in running games at the store - they have a guy who runs CofC on alternating Tuesdays, but the demand is greater than he can keep up with.  I offered to take the Tuesdays he has off, and proposed calling it "Cthuesday." Today I was going to go to the store and meet the other guy, maybe play in his game, and at least see how he does things, but the weather is making that a no-go.

So instead, I'm going to start doing a weekly write-up of a Cthulhu monster, taking a critter that has not yet been updated to 7th edition, working out the conversion, and talking a little bit about how I would use them - though maybe not giving away *too* much, as typically I will want to use these myself.  Given the winter storm, the Wendigo seemed a wholly appropriate creature to begin with.

In real-world Algonquin mythology, the Wendigo is someone who, in times of famine, succumbs to temptation and consumed human flesh to survive.  By transgressing the social norms of the culture and committing the taboo of cannibalism, the individual has made themselves a monster to their tribe - manifesting in an insatiable appetite for human flesh, and in some variations of the myth, physical transformation into something ogre-ish; I've seen Wendigo depicted as Bigfoot-like creatures, as emaciated, wide-mouthed humanoids with frostbitten skin, and most recently, bipedal elk-like creatures with fangs and claws.  The elk-form seems a recent addition to me, and I'm not sure where it originates.

The Wendigo enters the Mythos via Algernon Blackwood's short story by the same name, and from there it passed into the hands of August Derleth, who made the Wendigo an avatar or incarnation of his Great Old One, Ithaqua.  Graham Walmsley talks in his excellent book Stealing Cthulhu about Ithaqua/the Wendigo, and how it can be used as the basis for a scenario; he points out Ithaqua as a personification of Desolation, of the empty spaces of the world, a darkling take on the Call of the Wild.  He also looks at how Wendigo stories are abduction stories; Ithaqua takes someone Outside, and they return changed.

In the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, Ithaqua and the Wendigo are two separate entities; Ithaqua is the a Great Old One, while the Wendigo are a race of shaggy, footless humanoids that serve Ithaqua's will on Earth.  It's the latter I'll be talking about here; Ithaqua is covered admirably in the 7th edition rulebook.

I think the way I want to approach these Wendigo is to think of them as Angels; these are Ithaqua's heralds and proxies, interacting with Wind-Walker cults in Ithaqua's stead.  When a cult performs the annual rituals at the standing stones in the darkest part of the woods and offers up a sacrifice, it is one of these creatures that arrives to claim it; the cult may not be aware that this is a proxy, and may believe that the creature descending from the moonless sky is the deity itself.  Ithaqua itself would manifest only in the direst or most important of circumstances; for all other purposes, the Wendigo suffice.
"The barrier was not meant to be crossed....the ground is sour."

As an aside, I'm not sure I would even give Ithaqua a physical form, treating him instead of something like a psychic version of rabies, spreading from mind to mind, opening its victims perception to the vast emptiness of the Arctic (and by extension, the Cosmos) and driving them violently mad; in short, making it a literal "Wendigo Psychosis."

Getting back to the Wendigo themselves, besides the idea of them serving as Ithaqua's proxies when dealing with humans, a good way to play them would be to emphasize the corrupting aspect of the Wendigo; in Blackwood's original tale, those who are carried off by Wendigo become new Wendigo themselves.  The tropes of post-Romero zombie films could be applied to this pretty easily, especially since, as presented in the Malleus Monstrorum, if bitten by a Wendigo, there's a cumulative 1% chance you become one, regardless of whether it carried you off for Ithaqua to transform or not.

Likewise the cannibalism; you have to decide if you want even accidental cannibalism to transmit Wendigoism, or if has to be a conscious act to apply.  A good example of the former can be seen in the 1999 movie RAVENOUS, starring Guy Pearce and Jeffrey Jones in which, (minimal spoiler), a Wendigo prepares a stew of human flesh with the intention of causing a mass-conversion.

Let's take a look at the game stats using the appendix in the 7th edition rulebook to convert the 6th edition stat-block from the Malleus Monstrorum.  Here's an "average" Wendigo:

STR (3d6+6) x 5 = 82
CON (3d6+6) x 5 = 82
SIZ (2d6+10) x 5 = 85
INT (3d6) x 5 = 52
POW (3d6) x5 = 52
DEX (2d6+10) x 5 = 85
Hit Points: 16-17
Move: 8/90 when flying
Av. Damage Bonus: +1d6
Build: 2

Attacks: 2 (2 claws or one claw and one bite)
Fighting 30%, damage 1d8+db
Bite 25%, damage 1d4 + fear (bitten victim must roll under POW or be filled with a supernatural, soul-chilling dread; failure means they drop everything and flee the area for 100 minutes minus the victim's current Sanity Points.  A successful Psychoanalysis roll quells the fear immediately) + cumulative 1% chance of contracting Wendigoism.

Armor: 6 points of thick, shaggy hide.  Piercing a Wendigo's heart with something heated to incandescence instantly kills it; to strike a Wendigo's heart requires an Extreme success on an attack roll.  If its heart is not destroyed by fire, a Wendigo rises from the dead at the next sunset, fully regenerated.

Spells: A Wendigo knows 1d3 spells upon a successful INT roll.  These are typically spells relating to Ithaqua, weather control, etc., though a Wendigo with something like Create Zombie could prove a sinister on-going antagonist and give the Wendigo a Pet Sematary twist.

Skills: Listen, Spot Hidden, Stealth, Track, other skills relating to hunting or survival in the frozen north as desired, at 75%.

Sanity Loss: 0/1d6 Sanity Points to see a Wendigo; 0/1d2 Sanity Points to hear its eerie howl.

This conversion is not *strictly* by the book; I've made a couple little tweaks, most notably giving it the option of two claws or one claw and one bite attack; by the book, it gets one of each every round.  Similarly, as written in the 6th edition rules, to strike a Wendigo's heart requires a roll of 10% your normal attack skill value; I thought that was a bit fussy and requires a little bit of extra math at the table, whereas the Extreme skill percentage in 7th edition is already right there on the player's character sheet for easy reference.

The idea that the Wendigo is not permanently slain until its heart is destroyed by fire is a good one, though I don't think it appears in the original legends.  It has a nice mythic ring to it, given that the Wendigo are creatures of ice and darkness.  It's also an investigative hook for the players; they might think they've sent a Wendigo to hell in a hail of gunfire, but when it comes back for revenge the next night they'll realize their mistake pretty quickly.

My one big concern with the icy heart bit is that it might make the Wendigo too much of a "gimmick" monster like a vampire; it's a pain in the ass until you know the trick, and then it loses much of its threat.  Similarly, I personally dislike the "if a Wendigo bites you, you might become one."  It drags the Wendigo too far into Werewolf or Zombie territory for my tastes (or Vampire territory, for that matter), and loses some of the unique flavor of the Wendigo.  I'd rather go the route of "the Wendigo carries you into the sky, and when he returns you to Earth, you have a Wendigo heart beating inside your chest" as I think that maintains a bit more of the Weirdness we're looking for in Call of Cthulhu scenarios.  So were I to run a scenario centered around the Wendigo (which, to tell the truth, I kind of want to do every winter), I wouldn't even bother rolling for that cumulative 1% chance.

If you wanted to shift the Mythos Wendigo more towards the traditional folkloric Wendigo, a good feature to focus on would be its all-consuming hunger; According to the Ojibwe, Wendigo are perpetually hungry, and no matter how much the eat they can never feel full, because they grow in proportion to the amount of human flesh they eat; give a Wendigo to opportunity to eat a man, and his SIZ attribute gets added to the Wendigo's, with a resultant increase in hit points and damage bonus.  If you wanted to go this route and still include Ithaqua as a physical entity, maybe he's just the oldest and hungriest Wendigo of them all.

I think that'll just about wrap it up for this week's Cthuesday installment; join me next week for...I dunno? Maybe the Reptile People.  Or Swine-Things.  I'll make it worth your while, regardless.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Crazy Pete Strikes Gold

Crazy Pete held up the glimmering nugget, letting the sunlight reflect off it.  He turned it around and around in his fingers, admiring it from every angle.  He even, yes, took a little nibble - with his good tooth, mind you.

"It's GOLD!" he shouted to the sky.  "YAAAHOOO!! GOLD! It looks like ol' Pete's luck is finally changin' fer the better!"

He then began a happy jig, which ended when he stumbled over his own boot and fell into a cactus patch.

Figure is from Reaper's Chronoscope line, and was a gift from Gina for Christmas.  The cactus are from a boxed set by Pegasus hobbies.  Base is a Reaper 2" round base with a ledge built up on it out of Green Stuff - under the basing grit, it's not as obvious in these pictures, but Pete is standing atop a croissant-shaped bit of elevated terrain to raise him visually above the level of the cacti.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What's Next?

I'm vastly behind on my painting.  I have a couple miniature projects in various stages of completion, and I've completed my entry for the "L'amour" bonus round of the Painting Challenge.  I'm particularly pleased with my entry for the "Defensive Terrain" round - I interpreted the name literally, and had the terrain be on the defensive, as an Earth Elemental struggled to fight off a team of undead miners directed by a witch.  Here are some pics:

The reason I haven't been painting too much is that I've been writing a whole lot - I've had two story proposals accepted for inclusion in upcoming anthologies.  One of my stories is complete and has been submitted, the second is in the works.  I'm also working on a third piece, my first try at fantasy fiction, to submit to a new magazine.

In other gaming news...

My two Call of Cthulhu games at Running GAGG this year have me feeling pretty good about that, and I'm looking ahead to other cons to run Cthulhu at, plus the possibility of arranging a monthly store game at a gaming store in Buffalo.

I've been invited to take part in a Savage Worlds game in the Deadlands weird west/horror setting, which should be fun, though I'm a little wary - I sometimes think I'm under a curse, that any RPG I join as anything but the Game Master is fated to die after the session I join.  Every game I've joined since I graduated college in 2009 has died after the session I participated in.  It's eerie.

I'm also considering the possibility of another home game - probably some form of Swords & Wizardry again, as I really like that system, though I'd use Ascending Armor Class this time - it really is just a more sensible system than the attack matrices.  I would do either "regular" D&D, without any science fiction elements of the sort I had last time - though I'd operate under the same sort of campaign framework, with the player characters free to wander and find their own adventures rather than adhering to a pre-planned story - or use the Swords & Wizardry rules in conjunction with the Warriors of the Red Planet book to run a full-on Barsoom-style game.

A lot is going to depend on my time and attention - right now writing fiction is holding on to my attention very tightly, to the point where I don't want to divert attention from that to preparing game material.