Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nostalgia Gaming

Back in the late 90’s, I regularly met with a gaming group and played Torg.   

Torg was a RPG from West End Games.  (Which sadly is no longer in business.) 

Now, I fondly remember the campaign we were on went on for about a year, and we shared many laughs and had a lot of fun.  It was my first introduction to the RPG.  Perhaps that is why I have a special place in my heart for it.
I will explain the setting as it was explained to me, and got me hooked.  Imagine our earth, divided into different “realities”.  For example, the UK is a fantasy setting, The middle east is like a pulp era Indiana Jones setting, Japan is a modern/near future setting.  India is like a Victorian Horror setting.  France is a cyberpunk setting, and North America is a mad max/prehistoric setting.  Each setting is “ruled over” by a “High Lord” and each of the High Lords have their own schemes, and are vying to expand their realms to take over all of earth with their own reality.  Sometimes they ally, most of the time, they are pit against each other.   Sound like fun?  Well, it gets better; you can have a character from any setting!  So in your group of heroes you can have a wizard, a dashing “Shadow” type character, a cyborg, a ninja,  and a half dinosaur- half man character.  The possibilities are endless!
And speaking of possibilities, they are actually a game mechanic.  Characters can manipulate reality.  (The bad guys can do this too if they are powerful)  Think of possibilities like money, you have 3 you can “spend” per chapter, they can be spent to re-roll a dice roll, improve stats, or to reduce damage.  After every chapter, the GM can decide to give one or more possibilities based on performance.  (Particularly good moves, or character actions, or roleplaying.) 
Not only did the system utilize “Possiblities”, it had a unique card based system as well. 
(From the Wikipedia entry on Torg)
In addition, Torg used an unusual card based system to augment gameplay. A hand of cards were dealt to each player at the beginning of the game. The rest were stacked in front of the game master. Cards could be used by both players and game masters to influence play. Whenever a combat encounter began the game master would flip over a card which would dictate certain advantages and disadvantages for the players and the NPCs. Players could also use cards to give themselves advantages or even plotlines which could result in extra points.

But wait there’s more…

The system used a d20 system

A player rolls a d20 and consults a small table (printed on the character sheet) to determine the bonus number.  The bonus number (which can be negative) is then added to the appropriate skill or attribute.  This value is then compared to a difficulty number to determine success.  Some skills or actions need a level of success to be determined, in which case the amount the value exceeds the difficulty number by is used to determine the level of success (the GM has a table he consults).  Characters can use skills that they don't actually have (you can shoot a gun even if you've never done it before) but their chances of success are lower.  Some or the more difficult skills (like Air Vehicles) can only be used by characters with adds in the skill. 

A nice feature of the system is that characters can reroll the die and add to their previous roll in certain situations.  Characters using a skill that they have can reroll and add if they roll a 10, a 20, or spend a "Possibility" on the die roll.

Here is a good website dedicated to Torg.

I wish I could get a group together and play…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Digital Waaagh movie reviews

I am not a movie expert.  I go to the movies to be entertained, not analyze every shot, and subcontext.  If a movie is overall enjoyable to me, the studio has done their job, (in coordination with the cast, and crew and director.)  That being said, I can be free to offer my opinion of a couple of movies I recently watched.
Like a true geek, I like the Planet of the Apes franchise.  From the original “hokey” movies in the 60’s and 70’s to Tim Burton’s reimagining.  With that in mind, I thought I would see a movie about apes coming to power…I was wrong, and delightfully so! 
This movie was more thought provoking than I had thought.  It was less action, and more philosophy, than I had anticipated.  Although it was not the beat down movie of the century, it was quite enjoyable.  There were several nods to the original that I appreciated. 
Andy Serkis’ performance made the movie.  His emotions (thanks to the effects team) really seemed to shine through.   I don’t care who they cast in the other roles, he stole the show.  Although, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) is always likable as a bad guy. 
Overall, well worth the time, and I give it a He-Man on the 80’s toy scale!

Action packed re-telling of a familiar story.  I am convinced that Hollywood has run out of real ideas.  While that statement is not new, the more I see movies like this, the more I am convinced of it.  This is swashbuckling for the “Twilight” set.   (Complete with sexual innuendo and double entendre)
If you can remove your brain and just enjoy this movie, then do so.  I liken it to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” while not a great movie, it has its eye candy moments. 
The plot and acting seems forced, and predictable.  (How “new” can you make a classic?) 
I like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and this is along the same vein.  Just fun, swashbuckling action adventure! 
So, bottom line, wait for the DVD, and don’t get caught up with thoughts like “That could never happen!”
I rate it a Chuck Norris and the Karate Commandos on 80’s Toy Scale!

Next week, we review “The Sitter” and “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Assorted Geekery

Geeks everywhere unite!

What other “geeky” hobbies do you enjoy (besides the obvious) besides gaming?
I personally love “kitchy” stuff. There are several online retailers that I just look at their inventory, and drool, dreaming someday of winning the lottery so I can induldge in every geeky fantasy I have, by purchasing my wish list.

So I started to think about it, what other things do you like? Below is a list of things I enjoy/ once enjoyed but either invested in other geekery, or decided the enjoyment factor was not outweighed by the price factor.

Now, there are some things that are on the list that I simply would love to have had or buy, but the price was too much for what you get. (I am cheap, and have a family.)

"Geeky hobbies"
Comic Books
RPG’s (Specifically D&D, and Dungeon Crawls)
Comic book movies (if they are done well, that being said, I still enjoy them if they are horrible, just not as much. Daredevil is a good example. Horrible movie, but I am glad I didn’t pay money to see it, but I am glad I saw it, so I can say I have seen every Marvel movie ever produced…)
Medieval Weaponry
History – Renaissance, but I like it all.
Steampunky stuff - don't own any, but man, is it cool to look at!
Action Figures/Toys - if I ever hit the lottery, I will be able to complete my wish list of figs...

Toons! - Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid, Tiny Toons, Batman, Superman, just to name a few…
Simpsons, Cleaveland Show, Family Guy, American Dad – I love fox animation!
Deadliest Warrior – no matter how cheesy it is, specifically pre-modern era combatants
The Borgias
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad- this one is recent, not very far into 2nd season…have kinda lost interest TBH…
The Walking Dead
Dr. Who
American Pickers - Who knew you could make money off of old junk?
Real Deal
Storage Wars

80’s stuff – for nostalgia purposes
Some anime – Trigun, Black Magic m-66, Vampire Hunter D to name a few
Zombie stuff!

If time and money were no object, model railroading could be fun…
RC trucks…electric powered, not nitro…nitro is too much work.
“Affordable” RC planes

Osprey Books
Warhammer “fluff” books
(I don’t have much time to read)

The list could go on...but I will spare you the headache...

So, do we have any in common besides gaming?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Knightly Orders part 1 - Knights of the Blazing Sun

This is the first of many articles on the Knightly Orders of the Empire. The information I have gathered here has come from many, many sources on the web. (Special thanks to all the original posters. I will try to give credit where I found them.)

I will begin with the Knights who have a presence in Nuln. The first one being Knights of the Blazing Sun. (Because that's the order I am doing for my army.)

The Knights of the Blazing Sun

A relatively small order, the Knights of the Blazing Sun are also known as the Templars of Myrmidia because of their devotion to the Estalian warrior deity Myrmidia. Largely unknown in the lands of the Empire, it was only through the strangest of chances that the Order’s worship of her began at all.
During the wars against Araby, threescore Knights from the Empire lent their aid toward the recapturing of the temple of Myrmidia in Margritta, the southern seaport of Estalia. During the fierce fighting around the temple, a violent earth tremor shook the building and dislodged the vast bronze statue of Myrmidia that was fixed on its topmost steeple. The statue fell to the ground, smashed into a thousand fragments, and flattened Emir Wazir the Cruel and his Black Scimitar Guard. With their leader slain, the Arabian hordes abandoned the temple and left it in the hands of the Knights. Whether this incident was actually divine intervention has been widely disputed, but to those Knights who fought in the temple, it was unquestionably Myrmidia herself who intervened. Upon returning to the Empire, the veterans of that battle founded the Order of the Blazing Sun and built a shrine to Myrmidia in the heart of Talabheim. Though many folk mistrust them for courting strange foreign deities, the Knights of the Blazing Sun have unceasingly fought with distinction against the enemies of the Empire and are held as a prized ally by many Elector Counts. - Games Workshop website
Templars of the war-goddess Myrmidia, the Knights of the Blazing Sun were founded during the Crusades in 1457. In a street battle against the Arabians in Estalia, a group of knights were saved from certain defeat when a freak earth-tremor dislodged a huge statue of Myrmidia from a temple roof. It crashed to the ground and landed on the enemy general and his bodyguard, killing them instantly. After the battle, the survivors banded together and formed the Order of the Blazing Sun in Myrmidias honour”. –Warhammer Chronicles.

The Knights of this order are located deep in the South of Middenland.
They are a small but much respected order with a distinguished history. They were the
first of the Knightly Orders from the west to travel to Nuln and join with Magnus. The
knights take great pride in their weapons and abilities. They can often be seen charging on
the battlefield in their highly polished and resplendent armour of black and gold.
The Order has developed a technique using their polished mirrored shields to focus
sunlight onto the enemy’s face as they charge. This disorientates and dazzles the poor fools
just before they are charged down.
Using the Knights of the Blazing Sun in your games of Warhammer

Blinding Light: +3 points per model. (+8
Inner Circle)
Before you charge with the Knights roll a d6.
A roll of one means there is no sun (it’s
raining or overcast) and so the Blinding Light
cannot be used this charge. Any other result
means there is enough sun light for the
Knights to dazzle their enemies as they
charge. The enemy unit being charged which
opts to stand and fire is at an additional –1 to
hit due to the light being directed into their
(Source Games Workshop)
A note on Myrmidia
Myrmidia Myrmidia is the goddess of strategy: of the science and art of war. She is popular throughout the southern Empire, but is most widely worshiped in Tilea and Estalia. In The Empire, her largest temple stands in the city-state of Nuln. There is much mutual dislike between the cults of Myrmidia and Ulric – both deal in conflict, but their methods are wildly different. This rivalry manifests itself as a desire for followers of the two cults to try to outdo each other on the field of battle. Myrmidia’s priests wear white robes with red trim, and blue cowls. Her symbols are a spear behind a shield, and the Pegasus.
Although Myrmidia's preists normally wear white robes w/ red trim and blue cowls, the preists in Nuln have adopted red robes w/ black cowls and trim, as there is a movement among the heirarchy of the cult to make Nuln the "official" city of Myrmidia, and to dedicate all of the people of Nuln to her, after all, this city is the home to the largest Temple to the godess in the Old World. So the wearing of the different color robes allows the priests to be more acessible to the people (most of whom are either covered w/ black soot, or wearing black.)
(Not to mention, it allows me to tie the priests in w/ the rest of my army white would stand out too much in a all black army.)