Game Night: Symbaroum

Apologies for the silence on the hobby front – I have the good problem of an abundance of work and when you’re self-employed, you have to take it when it comes. Our weekly game nights have been consistent despite that, (priorities, right?) but due to the hectic schedule, we’ve been focusing on RPGS. And when there are six regulars, it makes sense space and time wise to dial the scale of battle down so everyone stays engaged.

So with that in mind, John recently ran an excellent DnD one-shot wherein our party investigated an ancient crumbling fortress rumored to be tainted by evil, not to mention the most likely cause of a number of local peasants disappearing. Despite the rescue and subsequent accidental death of one of said aforementioned farmers, (Alas, poor Kevin, I knew him well…) we defeated the ruinous powers lurking beneath the fortress and freed the land from its malignant influence. It was a good time and lots of fun.

Now there are some very nice reinforcements on the painting table for our upcoming ZONA ALFA campaign, modern Russians and Chechens sculpted by Igor Karpov for SASM.  (Igor is the putty genius behind Lead Adventure Miniature’s ‘Last Project’ post-apocalyptic figs.)  That means six full crews should be entering the Zone some time in November.

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In the meantime, I’ve discovered the dark fantasy RPG ‘Symbaroum’. Created by Jarnringen in Sweden, I was first captivated by the artwork’s brooding menace and melancholy. Now games don’t always live up to the marketing, but I took a chance on a hard copy of the rules. Fortunate for me, this one did. In fact, this game is downright excellent.

I’ll spare you the review – there are plenty of good ones circulating on the inter-webs already – but suffice it to say the mechanics are smooth and solid, and translate easily to the tabletop – which is important for me, a long time war gamer. Having said that though, I want to stress Symbaroum is about story telling, not loot and leveling – which is important to me as a writer.  The back-story and aesthetic of Ambria and Davokar is dark and rich, a gold mine of inspiration. I confess that in 40+ years of hobby gaming, I don’t recall ever being this intrigued by a game setting.

So, while I catch up on glass work and brush my way through the painting queue, I’ll be running a one shot adventure titled ‘The Gloaming Roads’. Basically a treasure hunt, I wrote it up after  reading the rule book and advanced players guide. It’s an introduction to the game and world. To make things easier, the players start out a couple levels up, sort of seasoned adventurers entering the forest of Davokar for the first time.

I can post specifics if there is interest but for now, here are some pictures of our first session and the player characters.

You can click on the images for larger versions, but basically you can see a town near the forest, a Barbarian Mystic, a Changeling Hunter, a Cleric of Prios, an Ogre Fighter, an Ordo Magica wizard, and an Ambrian Man-at-Arms.

The next episode of The Gloaming Roads is slated for Tuesday evening. More on that as it develops.  For now, I’ll leave you with this:

When the Moon’s Womb is ripe, the Lone Gates open

By Blood and Root, the Learned may stride the Gloaming Roads

That span the breadth of sacred Symbaroum.

 

 

Have a good weekend.

ZONA ALFA: Bunker Raid

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Very quick game last Tuesday night as two small teams raided an old military bunker, each hoping to secure either the main objective, (a damaged heavy armor exo-suit) or a small cache of supplies.

Played in a three by four mission area, Bandits were already present at the site and waiting on their own technician to recover the suit. In game terms, this simply means the Hot Spots were considered already triggered and the Hostiles were visible.

John and Matt’s men took on Derek and Max’s. It was a short, sharp fight, with UBGL on Matt/John’s crew Boss’ AK74 proving itself very effective. Good dice rolls allowed them to steamroll over the battlefield, so straightforward as to be undramatic. They not only cleared the Bandits in no time flat but put a hurting on Derek/Max’s lads too. Both objectives, gear and salvage, easy win for them.

 

The guys will be making permanent crews soon and I have reinforcements inbound in the shape of  some Special Artizan Service Miniature figs. Until then we’ll DnD our way through the next couple weeks. Our 4th level party currently consists of a Tiefling Sorcerer, a Human Rogue, a Dual-Wield Fighter, and a Dragonborn Paladin. Other Pat is keeping us in the dark about his character. Pictures as it all happens.

Oh and courtesy of the nice folks at DP9, the Cape Cod Wargame Commission has some Heavy Gear Blitz in its future.

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ZONA ALFA: Refinery 13

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Last night saw the Cape Cod Wargame Commission play testing the ZONA ALFA rules. Two crews battled to control the remaining fuel in Refinery 13 in the south-west quadrant of the Exclusion Zone. A Threat Level 1 Area, or Blue area, there were two Hot Spots plus the Mission Objective. (markers are 7.62 x 39mm dummy rounds)

 

Ivan’s Bunch and Pavel’s Crew were kitted out similarly, each with one Leader, a shotgun-wielding Close Combat specialist, a Medic, and comrades with SMGs and AK-74. The Leaders armed up different: one with an AK74 with an under-barrel grenade launcher, the other opting for a scoped AK-15 Battle Rifle.

The crews filled their Equipment Slots differently too: Pavel’s lads went with pretty standard load-out, med-kits and such. Ivan’s Bunch went heavy on grenades and E-Juice. (amphetamine and vodka with a twist of lime) Seven Turn Limit, deployment in the back 6″ of their respective table edges, and the fight is on.

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First Turn saw crews slinking along buildings toward the secondary Hot Spots and jockeying for better angles and lanes of fire.

Turn 2 someone on Ivan’s team had the bright idea to Bolt Toss the Main Objective and trigger the Zone Hostile – a mutant.

Meanwhile one of Pavel’s men does the same to the Hot Spot with the dead Stalker. Two zombies spawned nearby out of the nearby garage and charged him.

“A little help, comrades!”

 

On the far side of the table, Ivan’s shotgunner faces down the Mutant! (they may not have range, but up close they’ll drop just about anything)

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Pavel dropped one of Ivan’s men who was on the office balcony and Ivan sees a chance to bloop a grenade on three of Pavel’s men who, after taking down the zombies, stood around it the open congratulating themselves.

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Mutant down in the center, a couple of Ivan’s boys trigger the nearby secondary Hot Spot. Feral dogs rush out of the shadows of the complex but good rolls from the SMG turn them into puppy chow.

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An Emission imminent, the game ended with Pavel ordering three of his men to fall back while he chased Ivan into the first floor of the office.

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Final Tally: One crew member down on each side. Ivan’s crew gets Advances and Salvage from the Mission Objective and one Secondary Hot Spot. Pavel’s boys manage to take the Salvage and a pair of Binoculars from the dead Stalker Hot Spot. Not great, not bad: another hard day’s work in the Exclusion Zone.

***

Lessons learned:

ZONA ALFA is deadly, no doubt about it. Med-kits and Medics help, but cover is your friend. Smoke grenades come in handy too.In a regular campaign, expendable items like grenades and med kits would need to be re-stocked between games, AND casualties would need to be replaced by new recruits.

Movement, combat, morale checks all that went smoothly.  To speed up the pace with two commanders per team, each side could activate up to two models per Activation.  Altho we’re asking for donations to buy a Chess clock for certain commanders who strategize too much between turns. *cough, cough* Matt. *cough*

All in all, the Zone smiled on our efforts. More next week.

Thanks.

 

ps – minor mods to make reinforcements. Crooked Dice soldiers with Pig Iron heads.

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Shameless Plug: If any company wants to see their 28mm Russian figs in action, we’d be happy to take some, color ’em up, and use them in the Zone. Contact me here and we’ll feature them in a post and Bat Rep.

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Tharnulf’s Crypt – Part 2

“Where have you been?” the Paladin snapped. “Spiders, roaches, ogres, all manner of creepy crawlies coming out of the stonework, and you’re upstairs looting bodies.”

“Scared of bugs, are you?” the Dark Elf corsair smiled thinly. “Don’t tell me I have to hold your hand.”

***

The party was joined by a Dark Elf Corsair, (Max) who probably was looting bodies. He arrived just as his woodland cousin the Druid handed the keystone to the Orc mercenary who unlocked the pillars blocking the way into the rest of the crypt. Together, the five of them advanced down the corridor to the library.

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Advancing cautiously, the group entered the library, weapons ready. When nothing dropped down out of the ceiling or sprang from the shadows, the proceeded to search the bookshelves in the far wall and the pile of debris on their right. The only unusual thing about the room was the loose flagstones under their boots – as if the library’s floor was poorly set on sand – and a strong odor of freshly turned dirt.

“That’s human masonry for you,” the Dwarf muttered. “Shoddy work. Doesn’t even last two centuries.”

A search revealed several items including a tome of engraved copper plates, half a dozen strange gold coins, several jars of mystery ointments, and a thin, silver letter opener.

“What am I supposed to do with this?” the Ork asked. “Help a werewolf open his mail?”

Before the Paladin could come up with a snarky reply, the floor erupted in a shower of dirt and rocks…. a carrion worm!

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The ensuing battle lasted a number of rounds, with the worm retreating back into its hole only to reappear somewhere else. Consequently, the fighting moved from the library to the next corridor to the large pillared room outside Tharnulf’s Chamber.

As the larger half of the party moved down the passage in pursuit of the worm, they triggered the next wave of hostiles: a mob of goblin scuttlers, backed by a gibbering shaman and a drooling brute.

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“Never split the party”  is time-worn, proven advice. But they did and it almost cost the adventurers the game. Fortunately, some good rolling and a Gruesome Kill helped our heroes fight off the attack.

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When the last surviving scuttler had fled wailing down the dark passages, the bloodied, exhausted party found themselves outside Thernulf’s Chamber. The passage however, was blocked by a mysterious well. An eerie glow emanated from its depths and the head of an ancient goddess was carved on the standing slab behind it. From one angle, it appeared the goddess was smiling at the viewer – from another, she snarled.

“Wait a minute…” said the Dwarf. “That looks like the face that’s stamped on those weird coins I found in the library.”

Yes. It is.

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Tharnulf’s Crypt

“Well, that’s kinda obvious…”

The party had been hired by a local duke to pursue a gang of thieves that has been terrorizing the towns and villages on his lands. After the most recent raid, the group – an Elf Druid, an Orc Mercenary, a Dragonborn Paladin, and a Dwarf Runemaster –  tracked the bandits to their hideout in some ancient, unnamed ruins, deep in the hills.

They watched and waited, and attacked after midnight once most of them were asleep. It was quick work, bloody work. After all, the Duke made a point of saying all trial costs would be deducted from the bounty, so proof of death was all that was really required here.  The Orc made sure you had several small barrels and a large bag of salt on hand to preserve the necessary evidence.

However, a few of the thugs tried to make a stand in what was left of the old keep. That just made the job take about 15 minutes longer. Once that was over though, the Elf noticed a draft coming from a fissure in a stone wall at the back of the ground floor. Even more odd, he noticed the masonry didn’t match the rest of the keep. It was old yes, but different stone, poorly cut, crude.

Curious, another 15 minutes, a crow bar, and some sweat revealed a passageway behind the false wall, with steps that lead down into the dark. Someone raised a lantern and there on the second step under the dust and cobwebs was a gold sazide: a coin from the first Prahan Dynasty. The last of that line died two centuries earlier, but the detail on that coin is as crisp as the day it was minted. The gold alone is worth a month’s wages, easily; the coin as an artifact is worth twenty times that to a collector or historian.

The Dragonborn Paladin snorted. “Well that’s kinda obvious.”

Down they went.

***

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THE INSCRIPTION ROOM

The steps end in a corridor. Raising a lantern, the party spies the Inscription chamber dead ahead. Aside from the usual muck, musty air, and rotting barrels, the passage is clear.

Inspection of the Inscription Room reveals a carved dedication to

‘Lord Aolin Tharnulf who secured the Northern March for the Empire, ruled justly and wisely for 68 years, and brought Light and Law to the land.’

There is a diagram of the Tomb that shows both Lord Tharnulf and his Seneschal are interred here. This Lord Tharnulf must have been part Dwarf or had serious connections with the clans because the Crypt Builder’s mark is a very ornate Dwarf rune. And his Steward’s name was Manus Graybeard.

“A Dwarf named ‘Graybeard’… that’s not cliche,” snarked the Paladin.

 

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Meanwhile, the Elf takes up guard facing the right passage while Orc moves left to find the hall barred by a pair of interlocked pillars. No way past them but there’s a clear opening for a keystone to unlock them.

“Guess we’re going right,” the Orc calls out. “Eyes peeled for a keystone, everyone.”

The party moves into the other hallway only to be attacked. A huge spider and four giant cockroaches drop from the ceiling.

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The insects prove incredibly difficult to kill, to the point of mauling the Orc so bad he needed healing. Eventually (far longer than expected) the party dispatched the insects and proceeded into the large chamber.

All four members were so excited about two chests in a small side room that yielded useful items that no one noticed the large black pillars covered in arcane symbols in the middle of the chamber.

The Dwarf spotted the Seneschal’s Tomb and in his haste, stepped between the pillars on his way to the hall.

The air quivered and popped. The room temperature plummeted. There was a deep grind of stone as a section of the wall slid back and out stepped three ogres. Angry ones. With clubs.

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‘Nasty, brutish, and short’ was the phrase that came to the Orc’s mind as he reflected on the battle afterward. (for he was a rather pensive greenskin) Fact is, the ogres were destroyed in the time one would think it would take a group of experienced adventurers to squash insects.

Once the smiting and slaying were accomplished, the four comrades entered the Seneschal’s Tomb, located more treasure, a rather ornate keystone which definitely looked like it might fit in a pair of interlocked pillars, and (finally) noticed an inscription engraved around the base of the stone throne.

Four are the Guardians of Lore

Three are the Doors to the Tomb

Two are the Keys forged in War

One is the Portent of Doom

“Oh great, a cryptic rhyme,” muttered the snide paladin. “Probably some kind of long lost prophesy. Guess we’ll find out next week in the other section of…

*cue scary music and echo-y voice*

THARNULF’S TOMB

Start: the dungeon of Sagra-Bayar

The modular dungeon of Sagra-Bayar, that is.

 

Completed the latest round of glass work this weekend and allowed the hobby to take over one of my shop tables for a couple days. Now this idea had been bouncing around my head for a while: 3D dungeon tiles using faux-stone vinyl tiles. Seemed like a fast and simple way to get a sturdy, stone floor. Add a hunk of 1″ insulation foam, some cheap craft paint, a couple paint pens, lots of elbow grease scoring the stone work, and glue.

The result is three 12″x 12″ rooms, six 6″ x 12″ corridors, and eight 6″ x 6″ rooms.

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I know there’s lots of detailing yet to be done. I’m going to scour my bits box and the internet for details and banners, and I suspect I’ll want to pick up a couple sets of 28mm scenics and furniture, but I think this is a good start. So far, the project cost less than $50.

More pictures coming as I progress. I’m looking forward to our next dungeon crawl even more now.

Have a great day.

 

Hardwired: a free cyberpunk game

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Anyone remember the PC game Syndicate? The little trench coat and mirror shade corporate cyborgs running around causing mayhem? Well, I played far too much of it back in the day.

Wanting to offer more fast-play options at our weekly game sessions, I wrote up a set of rules in hommage; a cyberpunk skirmish game where you and your friends play a team of Agents tasked with various missions of questionable legality and high lethality.

It’s called HARDWIRED. Click there to grab the pdf. We’ve play tested it. It works. It’s easy to learn. Plays fast once you get the hang of it. And it’s fun.

If anything, it’ll give you an excuse to paint up (or buy and then paint up) some cool cyberpunk figs, gather your gaming buddies, and infiltrate the nearest top secret, gene-tech research facility.

Good Luck, omae

***

Pix from some of our Cyberpunk games below.