Friday, June 28, 2013

Permit me an evil chuckle

I created this yesterday. The meme is called "Evil Toddler" if you want to snag a copy and make some images of your own.

I posted it on Facebook and it's gotten some positive attention, so here it is for those of you who may not be on FB or may have missed it:

I am confident that all of you can identify with this feeling.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Welcoming Wednesday (well, it's still Wednesday on the West Coast)

Roll out the red carpet for our latest fellow traveler, Alex Hood! Welcome aboard, Alex. Hope you're intrigued and entertained.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My review of "In Her Majesty's Name"

Amazon just went live with my customer review of "In Her Majesty's Name." I wouldn't normally reprint something like this, but I've had a trying week. I was particularly pleased with my turn of phrase in this, and sharing it makes me feel better.

So here goes:

I'm a skirmish-level wargamer and a big steampunk fan, so I was thrilled when Osprey announced this product. I even got in on the pre-order deal for the accompanying Northstar miniatures. All my early hopes have been borne out with a product that surpasses expectation. In addition to clear, concise writing, Craig and Charles have crafted a game that feels complete without being overly complex. The inclusion of the significant number of companies (warbands or gangs in similar games) and the very complete equipment and weapon lists are supplemented with imaginative options for special skills and mystical powers. The real prize, though, are thorough guidelines on how to construct and balance (via points costs) your own companies, whether you're pulling them from a literary source or your own imagination. I'm glad I got a copy for my Kindle reader, because I like knowing this succinct tome is no further away than my smartphone. Craig is also doing a lot of support for the game with a blog and posts on various wargame forums. I'm eager for the next volume, which I believe is scheduled to come out in November.

Well, there it is. I am really enjoying the ruleset and l'm looking foreward not only to "Heroes, Villains and Fiends" in November but to the article in Issue 67 of "Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy" with a new villainous company, The Kentish Men, for us all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Welcoming Wednesday

Let me welcome new member Ridmasta, this blog's 48th follower. Ridmasta, again provided I haven't gone totally off my web fu, runs both a painting service and the excellently titled blog Fanplastic Little Men.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dramatis Personae for my steampunk dreams

Today I'm going to introduce you to someone very special to me. He's a character who's been banging around in my head for several years now, and I've finally given him some form and function, and he's going to be prominent in my steampunk London, the setting for the battles I shall fight using Empire of the Dead and In Her Majesty's Name rules.

Because I came to wargaming after years of being a roleplayer, I'm very much a story/fluff player. It's doubtful you'd ever see me build a beardy/killy/WAAC* list. What matters to me is the narrative. As such, I haven't written out rules/stats for this gentleman yet, as I don't really see him as a combatant, at least not at first. And if it comes to that, he has access to powers and abilities that would put a very strange spin on things, so maybe he could be drawn in as a campaign-ending big bad (or maybe a medium-sized bad).

Those of you who've been with the blog a bit over this past year have already been introduced to the Army of the Abandoned, my Moreau-inspired gatorman army I plan to run as  a werewolf list under the EOTD rules. I've also talked a little about and shown some figures I've acquired for the Ladies Auxiliary, my EOTD Gentlemen's Club analogue. Well, all these and the gentleman you're about to meet inhabit the same steampunk setting in my head, along with others to whom I hope to introduce you as we enter our second year together here at "Dispatches from the Rim." (The blog's one-year anniversary is coming up on July 8th. The forty-fifth anniversary of my birth is coming up July 15th. Huzzah to both of us!)

As is my custom, I'll introduce you to this fellow in a little piece of fiction. I call it, "The Crooked Man."

His fellow pedestrians did not look at Synryll Voolge as he walked by, though they yearned to stare at him, at the oddness of his shape, at the curious way he moved. 
They did not dare, though, for it was better to burn with curiosity than be caught in Voolge's singular gaze, to be transfixed by those phosphorescent orbs staring out of a head hung too low on his chest.
It almost looked as if Voolge's head sprung from the center of his sternum, like a strange fruit dangling from the high, rigid arc of his twisted spine.
The Crooked Man, they called him, when they were sure he could not hear them.
He heard, though. 
As striking as they found his appearance, they found his movements even stranger. Voolge's steps were feather-light, his pace assured, though his deformity allowed him to look neither left nor right as he walked. 
When he reached a corner, it was not as if he turned -- more like he stopped midstride and the world rotated around him. The effect was known to induce vertigo in those nearby as he angled, or was angled, to his new direction. Then, his cat-soft steps would resume, as if there had been neither change nor interruption. 
Voolge made steady progress across the rain-wet cobbles towards his place of business. Its grandiloquent exterior lacked any indication of its nature, no explanatory sign indicating what goods or services one might procure within. 
Had anyone had the temerity to stare as Voolge approached his customary destination, they would have witnessed the massive teak door swing open as if weightless, welcoming the master back to his mysterious domain. And they would have seen Voolge swept quickly inside, as if boosted by a sudden gust of wind, though the clockwork regularity of his footsteps never altered.
The massive black door. The fluted columns along the colonnade. The gargoyles and grotesques atop the roofline. Many paused and wondered what secrets or riches might be hid within. Only those who received the personal invitation of the Crooked Man knew for sure. 
At night they could be seen, some coming boldly, others furtively, but always eagerly, to the sumptuous fa├žade in Pangborn Lane. Each visitor, whether clad in the finest bespoke fashions or wrapped in crudest rags, presented the gilt-edged calling card pressed into his or her hand by the Crooked Man.
"Synryll Voolge," it read, in flowing script. "Curator."
And below, centered in heavy Roman letters, the hidden name, the secret name, the mystery to be plumbed:

That, my friends, is Synryll Voolge, the Crooked Man, master and curator of The Obscenarium. What bacchanalian delights await within his demesne? What depraved pursuits are there conducted? And how does a man so crippled by nature move in a way at odds with all of physics and physicians?

These questions and more will be answered as I reveal, person by person, group by group, perhaps building by building and street by street that which makes up this area I intend my tiny painted minions to fight and die over. Let me drop a few more phrases that are scratching at the inside of my skull: The Stitcher Cult. The Scarlet Sisterhood. The Shattered Saint. The War for the Sewers. Cuthbert, Dibble & Grubb, Solicitors. "The halls! They move!" And The Strange Case of the Basement of the Palladium.

For those who are curious, or who suspect as much, Synryll Voolge is in part based on/inspired by Leonard Trask, who was called "the Wonderful Invalid." His spinal curvature is much more severe than I imagine Synryll's to be, but of course Trask's was exacerbated by physical accidents such as falling from a horse. Here's the first paragraph from the Wikipedia entry I just linked to:

Leonard Trask (June 30, 1805 – April 13, 1861)[1][2] was an American who suffered from a "contortion of neck and spine" during his late 20s after an accident while horse riding, which led to Trask becoming a medical curiosity. After numerous attempts at a cure, several further accidents resulting from his condition, and a loss of employment and mobility, Trask (by then earning small amounts of money as a curiosity) published an account of his condition which further increased his renown. His condition remained unsolved upon his death, but he was subsequently diagnosed post mortem with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).[1][3]
I discovered him while researching ankylosing spondylitis, the genetic disorder from which my wife suffers. And suffers is definitely the right word. And the distress this causes the spine brings on a host of other problems, including spinal stenosis. In some ways, Synryll is an acknowledgement of her condition, and his pursuits are an acknowledgement that, if my wife were not slowed by her condition, she would've taken over the world already like the evil mastermind she is. (Tracey, you know it's true. And I will always be your most loyal minon!) That Voolge can move and do all the things he does are an indication that he has access to resources beyond the ken of good, decent folk.

Well, thanks everyone, and I promise more to come soon. These people (and creatures, and places, and things) are crowding my brain and I've got to get them out. And you're all in the line of fire!

Back to the boards, everyone, and I'll see you across the table.

* WAAC = Win At All Costs

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Welcoming Wednesday

This week we welcome Debs FitzPatrick as a follower of the blog. Veteran gamer and heart and soul of the Crocodile Games business empire, Debs is the wife of Chris FitzPatrick, whom I welcomed last week. I think you guys may be my first married couple of followers. Cool! Welcome aboard, Debs!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's not just spectacular, it's TENTACULAR!

OK, Cthulhu Wars.

It's Kickstarter campaign is under way now, and it's already 700 percent over its goal.

I've been a fan of the "Call of Cthulhu" RPG since, oh, Chaosium's fourth edition, and had many, many volumes for the game, including the Victorian volume "Cthulhu by Gaslight" and the modern-day "Cthulhu Now."

I also have many other Cthulhu-inspired games, including Arkham Horror, Cthulhu Dice and I'm sure many others. Unlike some Lovecraft fans, I am decidedly NOT bothered by incarnations of the Great Old One that are cutesy, chibi, plush, or any other variation of adorable. I like 'em all.

But let me say, this game, with figures by Ian Brumby at Fenris Games, looks beautiful. The miniatures, designed to work with 28mm "scale" figures like those in Zombicide or Descent, or the other Lovecraft-inspired minis Fenris already makes, capture the tortured nightmare creatures and twisted deities of the Lovecraft Mythos to great effect. The game is an investment, but the figures alone are worth it, and there are plenty of add-ons and stretch goals that will provide seemingly infinite replayability.

On the campaign's kickstarter page, there's a link to a pdf giving you a sneak peak at the game's rules.

The level of support has shattered the locks on most of the planned expansions, and we're about to start reaching the level for unlocking free Great Old One figures. Now, you do have to support at a level over $200 to qualify for the free stretch goal figures, but according to the FAQ, that can include both your purchase level and add-ons. The Cultes de Goules level at $240 does seem to be the best investment, but I don't know yet if I can summon up that much scratch in the next month. I've already promised my wife to sell some of my unpainted lead, and she'll make up the difference for my birthday in July. So maybe if I have a windfall in letting go of some of my minis that I know I'll never get around to painting, I can plump for additional monstrous evil as part of this package.

So far it looks like the only figure that is exclusive to the kickstarter are the Asenath Waite player marker, which is wickedly beautiful.

There's a kickstarter exclusive digital art book, but it's part of each pledge level. Add-ons that are exclusive to the kickstarter include the custom dice, the signed art prints and the Cthulhu T-shirt. They're all nice, but they haven't set me to drooling. Maybe I won't have to spend everything, including our rent money, after all.

However, the concept art on one thing just blew me away. There are counters in the game to mark the opening of gates, but there's a 3-D model for the gates that is available for an add-on that floored me. It was truly a "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY" moment for me. If the models turn out half as good as the concept art, I'll be so happy.

I managed to get in on one of the early-bird Cultist levels.We'll see if I have to abandon that and up my commitment.

I have some steampunky goodness to share with everyone later this week, so make sure to check back here at Dispatches from the Rim.

Back to the boards, everyone, and I'll see you across the table!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Welcoming Wednesday

This week I welcome another superstar in the world of wargaming miniatures as follower of the blog, sculptor and Crocodile Games head honcho Chris FitzPatrick. I plan to use several of the Children of Sobek minis from Crocodile Games in my Army of the Abandoned for Empire of the Dead.

Chris maintains his own blog at Crocodile is also running a kickstarter  for their Wargods of Olympus range. The sculpting is, of course, top-notch, and the deities and unit choices are enough to make anyone salivate. I mean, check out those Amazons! So, welcome, Fitz, and we're all eager to see what stretch goals arise as the campaign progresses. Take a gander at it at