Monday, February 16, 2009

Talisman Game Board!

I sauntered across this little gem this weekend and was amazed. This guy made a totally sweet 3-D gameboard for Talisman! (You can watch it with the sound off, its just background Enya music).

You can tell its 2nd edition (the best one) and not 3rd edition (shortened, crappy one) because of the presence of all the center stuff: werewolf, pit fiends, the "dice with death." The 3rd edition one I have now just has you draw cards once you get into the plains of peril, which is totally lame. Fortunately my buddy SuperChad still has my old copy of 2nd edition Talisman. I'm going to get that back from him in a month or so and consider making my own unnecessarily huge gameboard for Talisman. How can I resist after watching that video?

I stopped painting minis and crafting terrain once I moved to Wisconsin, but that video made me desperately miss my pinning vice and foam cutter, even if I'm no longer marching Necrons across fields' of battle.

I keep thinking of other game boards one could build. Arkham Horror maybe, with little light-up 1920s street lights and such. Fireball Island is an obvious one, but that one would have to be functional for the little marbles to roll correctly. What are other games that would benefit from a huge, 3-D terrain board?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Star Wars: Battles of the Outer Rim




It is a dark time for the Galactic Republic. Civil war rages as the newly-formed CONFEDERACY OF INDEPENDENT SYSTEMS declares independence and quickly absorbs a number of important and influential systems into its number. The Republic has responded to this threat by unleashing the GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC, in what throughout the galaxy has come to be called THE CLONE WARS.

After a number of defeats on Duro, Commenor and Balmorra in the Core, the bulk of the Separatist forces have withdrawn to the Mid and Outer Rim territories, reinforcing their holdings and controlling access to the Corellian Trade Route hyperspace lanes. Emboldened by the Separatists’ seemingly hasty retreat from the Core worlds, SUPREME CHANCELLOR PALPATINE and the JEDI COUNCIL have deployed a significant force of clones and fleet elements to the Outer Rim to liberate the loyalist systems in the region and break the siege on the hyperspace lanes.

Above the tidally-locked planet Ryloth, a vast battle rages between the armies of the Republic and Separatist Forces. Enmeshed in this battle is the Venator-Class Star Destroyer JUSTICAR, recently sent to the Arkanis Sector from Coruscant to bring much-needed reinforcements to the Republic forces in the Outer Rim …

Two sessions in and the Force is strong!
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Fire up the hyperspace navicomputer and strap on your ridiculously elongated rebel helmet, its time for some Star Wars!

As most of you know, Star Wars is the greatest Space Opera of all time (definition of Space Opera notwithstanding). So my Tuesday night D&D group agreed to drop the Longswords and Magic Missiles and dive into some X-wings and Blaster Rifles after much prodding by me. We even got a sixth player to join us who altered his work schedule just to be able to shoot droids on Tuesday nights. Now that’s dedication to the Force. I downloaded a boatload of Star Wars sound effects I play during the game, and I’m always looking for more, because you just can’t have enough sounds of blaster bolts ricocheting off of lightsabers.

We’ve got a human scout pilot named ‘Rolan Antillies,’ of the upper New Corellia Antilles’es, who is a fairly crappy pilot who’s never actually successfully landed a starship/starfighter/landspeeder/speederbike, but he’s got a famous piloting name so he stays employed. There’s a Bothan scoundrel “technician” for the Grand Army who speaks binary and has an underground hacker following on the holonet that call him ‘The Warlock.’ The Jedi are represented by an acrobatic flippity-doo-dah Jedi named ‘Romulus’ who focuses on the force insomuch as it allows him to aggressively use his lightsaber on stuff; as well as his estranged twin Jedi brother ‘Remus’ who went the Force Wizard path, knocking dudes around with his mind-bullets. There’s also a half-baked jetpack-wearing Clone Sergeant/failed ARC trooper (bad early batch) named ‘A-144’ that was determined not suitable for ARC duty but too skilled (expensive) for genetic recycling, so was shoehorned into the regular Clone Army. Finally there’s the hulking Wookie ne’er-do-well named ‘Garrrgull’ who specializes in tearing the arms off of ‘bots and things.

The group consists of a bunch of semi-random Republic soldiers and contractors all thrown together in the Clone Wars after the Republic Star Destroyer they were traveling on gets hit by a couple Proton Torpedoes upon exiting hyperspace. They were all in the same Turbolift when this happened, and of course the primary power went out. Once they figured out how to get out of the Turbolift shaft the clone is contacted by ‘T-1138’, the clone commander for the ship, who lets him know that droids have breached deck D-327 (which our heroes happened to be on) and are heading for the shield generator in engineering! Early in this adventure they learned that while battle droids have terrible aim, blaster bolts really hurt when 20s are rolled by the DM. We had to break out the ‘Treat Injury’ rules pretty early in the session.

After their first harrowing battle, the PCs decided that rather than take the direct approach and get shot to pieces by battle droids, they’d go through the maintenance tunnels. During their crawl through the dark tunnels they rescued an R5 astromech droid that had become trapped in some live wiring. The Bothan nearly destroyed it trying to retrieve it, but the Corellian pilot – familiar with Republic droid tech – managed to pull off a motivator inversion and re-polarize its core matrix, all using a simple hydrospanner!* As such, the R5 astromech is surprisingly loyal to the failed pilot, and follows him everywhere beeping all the way.

After a few near-misses with avoiding those ubiquitous chasms found in all starships, a number of battles with squads of battle droids trying to destroy the shield generator, and seeing the death of a Jedi Knight at the hand of some Separatist melee-bots, the heroes witnessed a Sorolsuubian Techno-Union chief fly out of the hanger deck and into the sprawling space battle with a kidnapped Twilek ambassador in tow!

As they saw the Techno-Union Separatist leaving in his Sorolsuub Lamba-class assault shuttle, they quickly jumped into any ship they could find in hot pursuit. The pilot, humorously confident in his piloting skills, opted for one of the ARC-170 fighters taking the astromech and the force wizard along as a gunner. The rest of the crew jumped into the “Golden Mynock,” an ambassadorial YT-2400 star transport prototype. Both ships rocketed out of the docking bay in hot pursuit of the Separatist kidnapper.

The space battle was huge, and difficult to keep straight. For some reason I decided that I needed a full four Republic star destroyers, three Separatist Banking Frigates, and one Droid Controller Ship all on the map along with 23 droid tri-fighters, 16 vulture droid fighters, 11 Clone-piloted ARC-170s, 6 Jedi Starfighters, 12 space mines and 5 patches of ‘space debris’ randomly floating about the board while the chase occurred. Oh yeah, and 1/4th of the board was a gravity well due to the pull of the planet Ryloth. This was probably a little too much to keep track of for our first foray into the spaceship combat rules, but I follow the creed that if you think of some awesome thing for a game but don’t know if you can follow all the rules properly, then make rules up on the fly and still do the awesome thing.

The PCs had to do sensor sweeps to see the mines, which would move every round and disappear from the map. They also had to avoid engaging in dog fights with the droid ships as the Techno-Union kidnapper flew past them, and the droid ships would move based on a highly technical algorithm called “my 40k scatter die.” If the PCs got too close to an enemy capital ship I’d roll a chance based on the size of the ship that they get stopped by a tractor beam, but the capital ships were pretty busy defending themselves so the chance was very low.

I anticipated that the PCs would most likely try to cripple the ship they were chasing and catch up to it, using their magnetic clamps to board the ship, or they’d chase the ship into the planet’s gravity well and force it to land. Less likely, but still possible, was that the ship would make it to the Droid Control ship on the other side of the board and that the PCs would have to call in some Laat/i gunships filled with Clone Commandos to board the ship with them and take it down from inside. Instead, they decided to follow the Corellion Pilot’s lead and crash their ships into the docking bay at full speed on the same round that the Techno-Union ship landed to take advantage of the momentary opening in the capital ship’s shields, and busted up every ship in the hanger (including their own).

They crawled out of their ships and into a huge droid firefight and barely survived. A vulture droid ship crashed in behind them and began blowing the hell out of the upside-down ARC-170 the pilot was trapped in, but the Force Wizard made a heck-of-a-roll and Force Gripped it until the Lightsaber Jocky could cut it to shreds. The Wookie nearly died and almost everyone took at least a blaster bolt to the kidneys before the battle was over. You see, I had prepared an encounter in the hanger for the PCs and two groups of Clone Trooper Squads (from the Clone Wars book) just in case of the third possibility, and after a second of consideration I decided to use it as-is, minus a few battle droids that were in the path of the crashing ships. Hey, if you want to land aboard a Droid Control Ship you’re goona see a lot of droids, what can I do? To add insult to injury, the Techno-Union guy ran into the bowels of the ship with the Twilek Ambassador and got away...for now.

Once the hanger was secure and the Bothan slicer hacked into the computer they saw all droid squads in the area converging on their location, so the slicer locked a few doors, the clone and pilot set up a couple explosive traps, and they all went back to their favorite strategy – hide in the maintenance tunnels. Now I’ve got a group of hapless and very wounded Republic soldiers hiding in the astromech maintenance corridors trying to figure out how they are going to contact their buddy T-1138 and get some assistance. Do they try to get to the heavy-defended comm. station and radio for help? Should they go to the heavily-defended detention area where the Separatist bad guy is probably taking the Twilekkian Ambassador? Or should they head to the extremely heavily-defended core reactor and shut down the ship droid controller system?

I love Star Wars.

*Hydrospanner note from the Personal Log of Remus. Entry 03, 19 BBY