Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wizards Asylum "Savage Worlds" Monster Hunters International Game--Battlin' Wererats in an Oklahoma City Warehouse

I hear skittering noises......

This past weekend I was able to attend one of the Open Table Savage Worlds games being run at the Wizard's Asylum Game and Comic Shop on Campus Corner in Norman, Oklahoma.

The GM, Tom Cannon, had a great adventure ready for us that was based on the setting in Larry Correa's Monster Hunter International novel series and using the Savage Worlds Core Rules RPG system. It. Was. Awesome!

I've not personally read the books but it was great for a modern rpg setting.

Basically, we were portraying normal everyday people (most of us, anyway) who had, somewhere in the course of our lives, had a run in with a monster out of legend and myth which each of us had found to be all too real. Having escaped unscathed, our characters had attracted the notice of a secret, privately owned organization which hires and equips suitable individuals to hunt the beasties on the down-low. MHI is also regulated by an MIB type federal agency called the Monster Control Bureau who pose as FBI agents and attempt to create cover stories to keep the population at large in the dark about the monster threat. You can see where that would be a great campaign!

We had a full table with six players plus the GM and a pretty crazy character mix using prepared character handouts. I chose the Crazy Street Preacher, a take on a campus crusading bible thumper who was convinced that the monsters are infernal powers and alternated between his shotgun and his bible to take them on. 

I wonder if this random street preacher realized his image would end up on a character sheet for a Crazy Street Preacher character.

We found ourselves delivered by a moving truck to a rural ranch owned by a gun toting Ma and Pa couple who contracted with MHI to house and provide training grounds to new recruits. Soon, a call came in from an OKC police chief who had received a tip from someone about our employers and needed help solving a new case. He had an escalating serial killer situation involving homeless folks being preyed upon by an unknown subject(s) who were eating these hapless people...well, eating most of each victim anyway, but leaving remains that had teeth marks that looked like the size of chisel blades.

Right up our alley!

Our party worked together pretty well in getting into the killing zone, a dark, grimy industrial section of OKC centered around the river. We used our Savage skill checks for investigation, tracking, and interrogating the only witness, finally deciding the right course was to pose as bait with a sniper team on the rooftops, keeping close watch on the decoys and in touch with telelink headsets.

On the second night of our operation we hit paydirt,or pay-rat as it were, when one of our number went to take a leak (GM fiat based on die roll...) and a shadow detached itself from the terrain and tried to drag him away.
One of our snipers made a great shot that actually managed to crit (the Savage Worlds way, which would bear some explaining) and the creature's head splattered and covered the unfortunate whizzer in wererat gore!

A little bit of tracking led us to the lair not far away--an abandoned and collapsing warehouse. Doing what heroes do we plunged heedlessly in and found out in short order that the wererats can control and send forth swarms of normal rats--we found ourselves engulfed in a sea of vicious rats as the wererats themselves leaped from hiding and the battle began!

It was a LOT of fun, made so by a great GM and group of players who really showed me alot about how a Savage Worlds game should flow and feel like a movie. Honestly, I've been running my own Savage Worlds game the same way I run D&D, and aside from helping me grasp the mechanics I've been fuzzy on, I also realized that the movie flow and feel and imagery is perhaps one of the coolest things about the Savage System.  The whole thing felt like a movie and I could see the whole scene like a movie in my head.

We had quite the go--we managed to wrap the game up with a victory and no character losses but a few of us got pretty chewed up by the rat swarms and a super wererat to the point that we almost cashed in. It was fast and furious--the final wererat put his head through a character's stomach and ate his way through towards the back where another character put a slug down his maw that did him in. Amazingly, the character did not die but probably wished he had. We then bagged and tagged our prey so we could get the bounty!

All in all, I really love the Savage System. It has a quirk or two, but it's great. I have yet to write a review of the Core Rules but I have one on the way as well as a Savage Setting review. I will probably upload some video of a live game one of these days.

If you live in the Norman area, there are ongoing open table games at Wizard's Asylum on 749 Jenks Avenue, Norman Oklahoma, 73069.
They have a Facebook page with a game event calendar that is very full all the time.

The store has a great selection of games and comics, very friendly and helpful staff, and may I add there are dozens of tasty eating joints close by (Diamond Dawgs!! Yeah!).

Major thanks and kudos to Tom and the other players for a fun time and look forward to next time!

Man the City sure has let this block go to hell...there are giant bipedal rats on top of those crates and they look pissed!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Dungeon of Kazamir, In Miniature

You definitely need a longer and wider table for the beast!

A lot of work for only twelve or thirteen rooms--better make them count and filled with interesting things. Not pictured are two separate pieces of the dungeon entrance chamber and tomb vaults.

Hey the dungeon paneling is coming off! It needs some buttoning up with glue and maybe a suitable calk to cover the foam tops of the walls and conceal cracks and paper edges, maybe painted to look like mineral deposit. Kazamir is, in fact, submerged beneath a lake.

I don't know how a super mutant from Fallout ended up here but the thief looks a bit nonchalant; hopefully he is holding an orb of power or a set of ioun stones in his hand.

My most ambitious styrofoam model to date is a level of Kazamir dungeon, giving me a few thousand square feet to run encounters.  It is definitely in need of some finishing touches and doesn't have much realism but it's definitely ready for table top action.

A modeling tip I can pass on for very cheap and easy rock terrain is the use of paper towels dipped in glue-water mixture and pressed, draped and folded into, over and around cardboard insert forms. I grew fatigued and skipped the final application which would have rendered the rock formations very realistic looking and that would have been to have made a paper mache pulp compound or some other filler and rubbed and worked it into the folds of the paper towels which would have concealed their nature and texture.

The cardboard tiles work well as flagstones and they too are free materials from a recycle bin and can be cut easily by making strips with a box knife and then chopping them up with a paper cutter. You can get a gob-load of floor tiles pretty quick. If one were meticulous enough they could be in perfect one inch squares to facilitate movement calculations faster. However, in hindsight, the tiles should have been coated with something to fill in the grooves on their surfaces and to fill the cracks in the floor.

Ultimately, due to skipping these steps, I must deem it a bit of a washout in terms of hiding what it is made of and achieving any realistic effect. In terms of sheer fun and practical use, though, I am more than rewarded. It is not without a certain aesthetic vibe, and it will most likely be unveiled, room by room, by candle light since I like to play my games by such light.

I like my cave system-most of the cave chambers are accessible only by use of secret doors and are scattered throughout the level, with a tripartite cave chain as a final ultimate destination.

Total time in model, probably a little under 20 hours. Total cost, not more than $20. And I do have to say it is surprisingly stiff and durable. It can be carried sideways with nothing breaking and stored up right on one end with no bending.

I am currently researching professional and serious hobby modeling techniques and planning on using some higher grade materials and more painstaking methods to create some really pretty, durable dioramas and terrain sculptures. I find the train model enthusiast tutorials very helpful on the video sharing communities sites.

Hope to share more and may post a play-through of Kazamir with pictures when I finally get to test some players against the ruins of the Jennerak!