Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Card of the Day #5

SW Redshift Chronicles, Intelligence Brief #6: Gadnek Is AAR, Pt 2

Situation: 0600 hours

Once the team entered the jungle, the Tau Taus noticed it was quiet.  Too quiet.  Other than the sound buzzing insects, there were no indications of the wildlife normally present in such an environment.

The rescue party enters the jungle.

After travelling 3 kilometers (km) northwest, the team, discovered a cargo container in a clearing, along piles of animal bones strewn about the field.  After a careful search, the team determined the cargo container was airdropped, sometime within the past two weeks. 

Discovering the bone field.

All the bones were broken in several places and hollow.  Every bone examined were scarred with deep gouge marks, as if a carnivore gnawed on them and sucked out its marrow.
Situation: 0700 hours

Scouting ahead, Cad So Billes spotted a dozen, large red-skinned creatures hiding along the path the party was following.  The creatures, wearing animal skins and wielding simple weapons, appeared to be a deformed, possibly mutated version, of a Gunganoid race, like the Tau Taus. 

Avoiding a mutant ambush

Cad backed away from the mutant pack and briefed the rest of the team.  They spent the next hour navigating around the ambush site.
Situation: 0800 hours

After traveling 2 kms northeast the team discovered the remains of six battle droids. 

Destroyed battledroids

Every battle droid was bashed to pieces and their parts scattered over the jungle floor.   Sei'do Avari and Sian Squnn examined two droids that still had their heads intact.  Sei'do noticed the number "7/599" stenciled on both heads.  Cad recalled the battle droids they encountered during their escape from Bongolaan had the numbers "4/599" stenciled on their heads, which stood for 4th Cohort/599th Droid Infantry Legion (DIL).

They surmised then, the destroyed droids were part of the 7th Cohort/599 DIL, from Bongolaan.

Examing the battledroids

Sei'do and Sian extracted the memory chips of the two droids and installed them into Sei'do's data pad.   He played back the droid's memory and discovered the following details--

--The droids were part of a squad consisting of ten droids, led by a Bongolaanian/Imperial Reserve officer, from the 7/599th DIL.
--Their mission was to find Damathon Cohain, but no reason given as to why.
--They were activated at a small basecamp on the eastern tip of the island, less than 15 kms northeast of their current position. 
--The squad found Damathon and four crewmen of the Ivory Bantha less than three days ago.  Two of the crewmen were killed by the battledroids in the encounter.
--Two days ago, while on their way back to the base camp, the squad was attacked and overrun by the mutants. 
--The last two crewmen from Damathon's ship were killed--and devoured--by the pack of mutants.

The team decided to head towards the basecamp to see if they could pick up the survivors trail.

After travelling another kilometer, the party was startled by the sound of blaster fire echoing through the jungle...

To be continued in Intelligence Brief #7: Gadnek Is AAR, Pt 3.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SW Redshift Chronicles, Intelligence Brief #5: Gadnek Is AAR, Part 1

Stardate:  Fiday, 069-130ABY/Tarsan Intelligence Service (TIS)
Subsector:  Shannekam

DST-3's Mission to Zenya, After Action Report (AAR) 

On Senday, 057-130 ABY, Diplomatic Security Team Three (DST-3) dodged a harrassing flight of TIE fighters from the Zenyan Restricted Zone and landed safely on Pierson Station.  Based on the information from the Ivory Bantha's flight recorder, the team determined Damathon Cohain and several crewmembers escaped the destruction of the ship and landed somewhere on Zenya-3. 

Pierson Station's location in the Tau Tau Archipelago

Within hours, Penelope Pelletin, director of TAg Facilities on Zenya and Adoko, Pierson Station administrator, organized search and rescue (SAR) effort to find the Ivory Bantha's crew.

On Tuday, 059-130 ABY, DST-3 joined the operation and was assigned to search Gadnek Island.  King Gethen and Force Mystic, Gobar Been, joined the planning session.  The Tau Tau king informed the group they have been unable to contact the inhabitants of the island for the past several weeks.  Communications have gone unanswered and teams have been sent to investigate, but none have checked-in, let alone returned from Gadnek.  (The island serves as an historical, spiritual and nature park).  The Tau Taus were reluctant to discuss this matter with offworlders until they had more information on this strange occurrence.

Situation: 2300 hours, 060-130 ABY--the team is selected

The members of DST-3 selected to lead the Gadnek Island search party, were:  Sei'do Avari, Thege Kli 'Klotaz and Cad So Billes.  King Gethen assigned some of the best warriors of his bodyguard to augment the team.  These were: Seleq Seel (Knight of the Guard), Lah To Ceel, Zak Tenko and Jad Jo Dop.  The Royal Engineer, Sian Squnn (a Sullustan), would also join the group.  The remaining members of DST-3, Rican Vranos and Coden were re-assigned to lead a search party on Tandek Island, 500 kilometers to the northeast.

Gadnek Island's location, just below the Zenyan Equator

Despite filing several complaints with the Zenyan Drylander Government, aerial harassment and electronic jamming continued throughout the Tau Tau Archipelago.  Drylander officials claimed these actions were caused by pirates and swoop gangs.

Because of this ongoing threat, the team decided to ingress via waterspeeder.  (Undersea transport was available, but deemed far too slow).

Using the islands for cover, the team sailed through the archipelago and arrived at the northern tip of Gadnek Island at 0200 hours, local time, Forday, 061-130 ABY.

Northern view of Gadnek Island

Southern view of Gadnek Island and crash site

Within several minutes, the speeder's sensors picked up a faint signal from the escape pod's distress beacon.

Situation 0230 hours--Ivory Bantha's escape pod discovered

The search party discovered the escape pod, submerged in 60 meters of water, one kilometer south of the island.  Once over the crash site, the Tau Tau warriors dove into the sea to investigate.  Within minutes, they resurfaced to report the escape pod was empty.

Situation: 0300 hours--search party attacked

As soon as the Tau Taus dried off from their swim, the waterspeeder's alarm klaxons blared to life.  Sensors indicated an approaching air speeder--with weapons systems activated.

The airspeeder turned out to be a droid Hunter-Killer Assault Craft (H-KAV).  The airspeeder opened fire as soon as it was in range.

Situation: 0400 hours--waterspeeder is destroyed and the team swims to shore

Piloting the waterspeeder, Cad So Billes led the H-KAV on a high-speed chase through the barrier islands.  However, the droid craft re-acquired the waterspeeder at every turn and repeatedly hit the waterspeeder with blaster fire and concussion missiles.  Within minutes, the starboard-fore and port-aft repulsor fans were destroyed and the port-fore fan was on the verge of failing. 

Throughout this pursuit, everyone else wrapped as many weapons and as much gear as they could into waterproof bags.  Once everything was wrapped, the bags were dropped at the points selected by the Tau Taus.  After all the equipment was jettisoned, Cad locked-in a course for Gadnek Island's southern beach.  As the flaming waterspeeder careened towards the shore, each Tau Tau grabbed an offworld team member and dove into the sea--just seconds before the waterspeeder crashed onto the beach. 

The H-KAV strafed the wrecked waterspeeder one final time and then veered off to the northeast.  The team swam to shore, once they determined the H-KAV was gone for good.  Sian Squnn could not swim and was pulled ashore by Jad Jo Dop.  When everyone flopped onto the beach, Thege Kli 'Klotaz revived the Sullustan engineer, while the Tau Taus swam back into the sea to retrieve their weapons and gear. 

Most of the bags were recovered.  Once their equipment was checked and cleaned, they set out to into the southern jungle in the hopes of finding the Ivory Bantha's crew--and transportation off the island.

Continued in Intelligence Brief #6: Gadnek Is AAR Part 2.

Gamemaster's (GM's) Notes:

The planet map of Zenya, was derived from the world of Lefiguura, found on page 76 of Smash & Grab, Traveller:  The New Era, by GDW (1994).

The Pierson Station map was derived from Elinore's Realm, on page 78 of Smash & Grab.

The map of Gadnek Island was derived from the map included in Rescue On Galatea, by Mark Lawerence, FASA (1982).

The characters, Damathon Cohaine, Thasallah Cohaine, King Gethen and Seleq, were also derived from Rescue on Galatea.

Halloween Card of the Day #3

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloweend Card of the Day #2

My second card for the Puyallup Wargamers Group.  This time, I used a two image page to get a full view of the model cemetary, which is an old terrain piece from Games Workshop.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redshift Chronicles News Brief #10: CEO's Son Found

Stardate: Forday, 068-130 ABY/Fringe Info Network (FIN)--Taurus Bureau
Subsector:  Shannekam

"All the news that's fit to transmit."

TAg Market Heir Found on Zenya

Damathon Cohain, son of TAg Market CEO Thasallah Cohain, was found several days ago, on the planet Zenya--five parsecs coreward from Tarsus.  He is seen in the image above, taken at Pierson Station, being assisted off of a shuttle by an unidentified Durosian of the Tarsan Diplomatic Security Force and a Tau Tau (Gunganoid) warrior. 

As a company vice president in charge of operations, Damathon was scheduled to visit TAg (Tarsan Agricultural) Market's seafood processing facilities in the Tau Tau Archipelago.  However, his ship, the Ivory Bantha, was listed as overdue, two weeks ago.

The Cohain family spokesbeing declined to comment on this incident. 

Damathon landed, by way of express boat, at Newland Down Starport today, amidst heavy security. 

The fate of the Ivory Bantha and her crew of six, remains unknown at this time.

Halloween Card of the Day #1

Halloween is just a week away.  To celebrate the occassion, I thought I do a Halloween Countdown of the holiday cards I made, using various figures from A Touch of Evil and it's supplements.

Another Fright Night Flyer

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This Weekend's Gaming Events

Some guys from the Northwest Historical Miniature Gaming Society, will be holding a "Fright Night."  I'm not sure if I'll be attending, but I thought I'd do an on-line flyer for the occassion.

These are some additional photos from my Pass and Review post, back on 1 Oct. 

The enlcosed graveyard is an old Games Workshop terrain piece, while the headstones came from more manufacturers than I can remember.  I did buy some of them from Michaels a few years back.  The ghost on the left, in the lower photo is from Wizards of the Coast (WotC) Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures game.   While the ghost on right, I purchased from Michaels.

The figures in the forefront are from Flying Frog Productions, A Touch of Evil.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Abstract Chase Scenes

After a 6 month hiatus, I resumed my Star Wars RPG (Role Playing Game) campaign this past Saturday.  For this adventure, the PCs (Player Characters) and several NPCs (Non-Player Characters) were sent on a search and rescue mission.  However, this turned into a desperate battle for survival, when our heroes found themselves stranded on an island overrun by Sith Mutant Cannibals. The mutant horde pursued the party for 13 kilometers, to an abandoned base camp. A Rorke's Drift-style battle ensued, with the rescue shuttle arriving to pluck our heroes off the roof of a prefab building--just as the first wave of mutants scaled the walls.

I was planning to use Hot Pursuit, to run The Big Chase Scene.  However, one of the players was attending a concert later in the evening and had to leave by 4 PM.   This put me under a time-crunch, so it was time to improvise.

With the help of the players, here's what we came up with, based on the D20 System--

--The pursuit was conducted using a map of the island, with the usual wargame hex-grid.  Each hex equaled 1 kilometer. 
--Each movement turn was an hour. 
--Movement rate (on foot):  6 hexes/hour in open terrain, 3 hexes/hour in jungle and hill terrain.
--At the end of each turn, every PC and NPC had to roll d20 (a twenty sided die) and make a Difficulty Check (DC) against their Willpower.
--The Task Difficulty normally would start at Easy (roll 5, or greater), unless the party was in difficult terrain, or was in some other disadvantage condition. 
--If successful, the PC or NPC, suffered no ill effects.
--If the character failed, he moved one step down on the Condition Track.
--For each failure, the PC or NPC moved another step down the Condition Track until he fell unconscious.
--In addition to moving down one level on the Condition Track, he lost one item.  PCs got to choose what item to discard; while a random die, usually a d6, was rolled for NPCs.  (Representing an item was dropped, or powerpacks and grenades being expended).
--If the player rolled a natural "20," a critical success, he was able to negate another PC or NPC's failure.  (He encouraged a nearby companion to keep going).
--If, however, a player rolled a natural "1," a fumble, he caused another PC or NPC, selected at random, to go down one step on the Condition Track.  (The other character had to drag him along, or lug his gear).
--If 51%, or more of the party failed to make their DCs, then the next turn's DC would be made at one level harder.
--If 50% or more of the party succeeded in making their DCs, then the next turn's DC would be made at one level easier.

In our adventure, our heroes were beset by a horde of Sith Mutants while in the jungle, so the Task Difficulty started off at Medium.  Everyone then had to roll a 10, or higher, adding any Willpower modifiers. 

Over half the party promptly failed, which set the trend for the rest of the pursuit.

Mercifully, this death spiral only lasted a few turns.  The party outdistanced the pursuing Sith Mutants when they reached the hills and stumbled into the abandoned base camp.

I wouldn't be so bold to say these rules worked "well"--but they certainly had the desired effect of simulating a desperate chase:  Every PC and NPC suffered from some level of exhaustion.  One NPC fell unconscious at the gate of the base camp, two players lost, or more likely, expended several hand grenades; while two NPCs lost their weapons.

(Image:  Sith Mutants in hot pursuit of our heroes.  Photo by Adrian)

Optional Rule for Devious & Cruel Gamemasters:

I came across my pursuit notes after the game ended, which was a stroke of luck for the players.

Here's what I wrote down for PCs and NPCs loosing items--

--If the PC or NPC fails his Willpower die roll, he loses 1d3 (a d6/2) items on his first failure.
--On his second failure, he loses 1d4 items.
--On the third failure, 1d6 items are lost.
--By his fourth failure, he loses 1d8 items.

One final note:  Beware of wily players.  The clothing the PCs are wearing does not constitute "an item."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wargame Wreckage

I love hosting wargames, especially in my own home, which is pictured in it's natural state above.  Yes, I'm a "Felix Unger" neat freak.  But I host my games with an "Oscar Madison" style of wild abandon. 
Last weekend, I hosted a Star Wars RPG (Role Playing Game) adventure for a few of my friends.  Normally, all of my miniatures, books and terrain are neatly tucked away.  But with the impending adventure and feeling uncertain on what I'd need, I pulled a dozen boxes out of storage and pre-position them throughout the house for instant use.

After a couple hours, my set-up looked like this:

Yes, that is a phtographic back-drop behind the chandelier.  My gaming friends are very tolerant of my penchant for turning every session into a Cecil B. DeMille-scale production.

At the end of the adventure--when the players barely escaped with their lives--my house looked like this:

It was as if the Sith Mutants that harried the players for 13 kilometers, tore through the fabric of space and broke into my home.  The guest bedroom and the den also had that Nouveau March-to-the-Sea look.  It took me three hours to clear away the wreckage.  I must admit, though, taking an additional 30 "staged shots" may have had something to do with the lengthy clean-up time.

Notice the bag of tortilla chips on the counter?  That, along with the remains of humus dip, was my dinner that night.

Despite the hours of toil and the unbalanced meals:  I can't wait to host my next production--I mean--game session!

So:  What does your house look like after a get-together?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Star Wars Gaming Art

(Image:  Babeafett, "I've Come to Collect," by Wolf)

Thanks to Dice Monkey's work on making character templates for his Star Wars (d6) game, I discovered SWAG--the Star Wars Artist Guild

This site provides fan art, "...for to all members of the community for use in their own roleplaying games"  (SWAG Mission Statement).  Players can even contact artists directly for specific work.

Star Wars Gaming with "The Doctor"

I've been collecting Star Wars Miniatures , made by Wizards of the Coast (WotC), for several years.  Most of us wargamers didn't care for the random packaging and found a number of game stores that sold individual figures.  Even though the game is no longer produced, the figures are still very popular among wargamers like myself and Doctor Merkury.

I liked how the Doctor used Transformers cross-over toys for the tanks.  I've seen them in stores, but I wondered if their size was compatible in-scale with Star Wars figures.  (It's hard to eyeball such a thing when the vehicles are still in their package).  Judging by the photos in his battle report, they look just fine.

So I'll "take the Doctor's advice" and check out the action figures in the Toy Section.

Monday, October 10, 2011

GeekGirlCon at Night

As the autumn sun set and the younglings were sent off to their suppers, the gears of GeekGirlCon shifted to more adult-themed topics.  Or at least in the seminars I, ah--just happened--to stumble into.  Tickets to the Whedonesque Burlesque show were sold out in less than 48 hours of the initial advertisement.  By the time I decided I could attend the convention, the tickets were long gone--and not a scalper in sight, within the City Center Park. 

I planned on browsing through the exhibitors hall in the Northwest Rooms, but that closed at 6 PM.  So I was left with a choice of attending Women in Fantasy or Nerd Burlesque:  Translating Fandom to the Stage.  I was reading the synopses of both seminars and wandered into the Lopez Room, when a volunteer closed the doors behind me.  I was in the Nerd Burlesque seminar. 

Yeah, I know, I could have walked out, but where's the fun in that?

Seriously, the remainder of this blog post deals with sensual and sexual topics and is intended for readers who are 18 or older.  And for you folks older than 18, some of the links border on the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) category.

"Nerd Burlesque" is a riske romp, based on sci-fi/fantasy shows and movies.  This panel's colorful cast of characters consisted of:  Elsa Von Schmaltz, Jo Jo Stiletto, The Mad Marquis and Sophie de Maltease (from Portland, OR), Billy Corazon, Hottie McNaughty, Miss Elaine Yes, Sailor St. Claire and Heidi Von Haught.  Heidi is " of Seattle's Naked Girls Reading chapter and is currently acting as Chair for the Programming Committee of BurlyCon 2011..."  (Panelist Bio).

The basic topics of discussion were:  Paying homage to the show or characters you're parodying, the importance of being comfortable with one's body in order to perform effectively; and art versus exploitation.

It wasn't until I started this blogpost, that I realized I forgot to take any photos.  It's not like any of the panelists were indecently dressed--although some folks do have issues with the women's uniform in the original Star Trek series--I simply forgot to whip out my camera.

(Image:  Kaylee and Simon battling Reavers in Serenity)

Speaking of whipping things out, the last seminar, Everything You Wanted to Know About Kinky Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask), required presenting a photo ID to the volunteers at the door.  This steamy session was hosted by:  Allena Gabosch, Mac McGregor and Cunning Minx

What followed, was a discussion on every aspect of kinky sex imaginable.  If any topic was left undiscussed, it was only because we ran out of time.  In fact, the workshop went into 15 minutes of overtime. 

(Image: From Geeks and Sex and Kink! Oh My!)

Okay, is it really necessary to have such a seminar during a geeky, sci-fi/fantasy-type convention?

Well, Teresa JusinoPendard and Minx, explain this very well in their respective articles and podcasts. 

Geeks like to ponder and speculate about everything:  From space travel, nano technology and yes, even to human and/or alien sexuality. This not a 21st Century phenomena either.  Back in 1967, Star Trek, opened it's second season with the episode Amok Time, about Spock's ordeal with pon farr, the Vulcan mating ritual. 

Basically, geeks are willing to let their minds wander into what ever "final frontier" their imaginations--kinky or otherwise--will take them.

Convention Companion's Artistic Talents

(Image:  Portrait, from Joanna King-Yost's website gallery)

Sometime during our wanderings at GeekGirlCon, Joanna & I exchanged business cards.  Her website is  Grey Matters Art.  By clicking on the vertically arranged words:  Gallery, About, Services and Resume, you can view some of Joanna's skills as an artist, model, writer and tutor.

A link to Joanna's site can also be found under the Art Section of this blog.

(Image:  The Day I Got Married, from Joanna King-Yost's website gallery)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Daylight Misadventures at GeekGirlCon 2011

Despite having only one day off this weekend, I managed to attend the Saturday events at GeekGirlCon.  My cunning plan was to be at the Seattle Center by 9:30 AM.  I ASSumed the convention took place at Seattle's Experience Music Project (EMP), but this was a case of not completely reading the instructions.

Fortunately, I wasn't alone and met up with two other lost souls, Amy and Joanna, on a quest to find the registration desk.  We stumbled across another convention goer.  (They were easy to spot because they were wearing bright yellow tags, or were in full costume).  She directed us to the Northwest Rooms--on the opposite corner of the city center park. 

We still managed to arrive by 9:30, but the lines looked like this...

Since I'm in the midst of producing my third on-line graphic novel, I wanted to attend the Comic Books for Breakfast seminar.  But alas, due to the long line, I missed it.  The panel was hosted by the following ladies:  Jennifer de Guzman, Rachel Edidin and Mariah Huehner.

The first seminar I managed to attend was  Boobies and Blasters:  The Women of Star Wars.

Okay, you can stop giggling now. 

Despite the titillating title, (sorry, I couldn't help myself), this was a panel discussion about the growth of female characters in the Star Wars EU (geek-speak for "Expanded Universe," which is everything created and produced beyond the original films).  The workshop was hosted by this elite squad of female fans:  Mercedes Santaella-Lam, Misty Buxton, Deunan Berkeley, Sarah Silverman and Amy Sjoberg.  Amy is the co-owner of the Etsy Store Nerdventions and is currently working on a life-size replica of R2-D2.

GeekGirlCon, though, wasn't all about the gals.  There was the Very Special Dudes, or as one panelist quipped, the "Token Males" seminar.

The panel discussed their attempts at creating stories with strong female characters, often in the face of opposition from coroporate Hollywood.  These guys, token or otherwise, were:  Sean McNeil, Greg Rucka, Mike Madrid, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Alan Kistler, the host & creator of Crazy Sexy Geeks and author of the Agents of S.T.Y.L.E column.

A huge line had formed outside the auditorium, for what I thought was the next seminar I wanted to attend, Tell Your Story Through Audio Drama.  But in the dim light and without my reading glasses, I saw the parenthetical phrase "Ticketed Event."  So I rushed to the EMP's admission desk and bought the next-to-last ticket available.  Joanna joined me at the end of the line after purchasing the very last ticket.  Talk about making just under the wire.  We sat together in the filled-to-capacity auditorium.

Several minutes into the interview session with Jane Espenson, I realized I was in the wrong seminar.  I decided to make this a "turning lemons into lemonade" moment and stayed for the rest of the interview.  I'm glad I did.  Jane was the convention's keynote speaker, with a background in writing comedy.  She was the writer for such geek-loved shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Angel, Warehouse 13, Dollhouse, The O.C., Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly

Tell Your Story Through Audio Drama, discussed podcasting and was hosted by the following:  Julie Hoverson, Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard, Kimberly Poole, Rhys Torres-Miller and Beverly Poole.  Despite missing this audio panel, I managed to make it to the Women in Webseries seminar.

Just about every gaming geek knows of Felicia Day's The Guild, now in it's fifth season.  (I'm way behind in my geekdom and just started watching it a few days ago).  However, several other women have joined Felicia in producing--not to mention acting and writing--their own webseries.  This panel included:  Mary Higgins and Josephine Hoy, Glynis Mitchell, Joanna Gaskell and Vanessa Driveness, Trin Miller, along with keynote speaker Jane Espenson, who's now producing Husbands.  Jane's webseries is about two gay men who had gotten drunk in Las Vegas and woke up married to each other--mayhem ensues.

The biggest concern among those of us in the audience was our lack of technical/photographic skill.  The unanimous opinion from the ladies on the panel was:  Don't worry about the technical aspects, focus instead on content.  In short--tell a good story and you'll build your audience.
And so ended the day at GeekGirlCon.  Activities and festivities lasted into the night, but that's a subject for another post...