Tuesday, August 16, 2016


We're no strangers to Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader in these parts.  Published in 1987, the tone is far less "grim-dark" than campy sci-fi and emphasizes a DIY approach to building forces and adapting whatever models you happen to have around to fast, light, skirmish gameplay.

My younger daughter loves meeples in all their wooden, brightly-colored nerdiness, so it was only a matter of time before they took to the futuristic, dark-age battle field.

In our latest skirmish took place in the dark belly of an alien freighter amid a maze of shipping containers (buildings liberated from the boardgame Medina).

Space Ork reavers blundered through the cavernous hold, searching for orange pods they could convert to fuel for their space junkers.  Meanwhile, a boarding party of reptilian Saurians (converted from decade-old WH Fantasy Battle lizardmen) fanned out across the same cold, metallic floor in search of brown protein matrix containers.

A pair of orks hustle to shift a yellow fuel cell off map, ignoring the smoldering shapes of a recently-roasted saurian squad or the meepleoids closing in at their flank.

No more had the two bands of raiders begun their clash then the ship's long-slumbering brain awoke and activated its own dormant defenders -- Behold the Meepleoids!

Small, quick, and utterly fearless, the synthetic meepleoids were colored according to role: reds were drones and lifters, greens were security, etc.  Composed of a particle cloud within a vaguely anthropoid magnetic membrane, the meepleoids proved surprisingly resilient.  Sustained bolter fire, however, proved effective in disrupting them, at which point they would dissipate in a colorful puff of synthetic dust.

Though the saurians (commanded by my older daughter) took a beating early in the fight, once they started directing their fire against the fuel pods that the orks were trying to carry, the tides shifted (we made a spot ruling that the pods could explode on a failed save).  By turn five the orks routed, having recovered only a single pod.

A single meepleoid drone got in among the saurians and over several turns brought down three of the brutes in close combat, but their dim, lizard hind-brains refused to admit defeat and they fought on despite the losses.

In the end only a pair of stoic saurians remained in the now-burning ship's hold ... the containers were too heavy to be moved by a single trooper ... and they dutifully dragged the three remaining protein storage units that were required off table for the win.

I suspect that we haven't seen the last of the enigmatic Meepleoids!
Here's how we statted them for Rogue Trader:

Move 4, WS 3, BS 3, Str 3, Tough 3, Wounds 1, Init 4, Att 1, Ldr 10, Int 7, Cool 10, WillP 10
security types having the equivalent of an integrated lasgun

Obviously this invites all kinds of tinkering to create heavy weapon, fast, teleporting, phasing, cloaked, psycher, or other meepleoid types.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tuesday Dungeon

My lovely wife of 16 years stepped out for a bit today to have her hair done, pick up some groceries,  and visit the library ... but she should know by now that when you leave dad in charge ... THIS HAPPENS

Yeah ... it's a dungeon ... three gruesome levels of baddies to be bashed.  From back to front:

Level 1 (dining room table w/ leaf extended; Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Tiles): The blue-skinned ogre mage and his bugbear goons have aligned themselves with a dragon who watches over the middle of this level.  Interesting features include a flooded room, a caged owlbear ready to be released, an altar where fire creatures sometimes appear from level three to receive sacrifices, and a flaming oil trap that sprays from a wall.

Level 2 (folding table; tiles courtesy of Descent 1st edition along with Lair of the Wyrm expansion): a minotaur and his gnoll bully-boys hold the southern end of this level, guarding a substantial hoard of treasure.  A wight lord has been sealed into a crypt in north eastern quarter of the dungeon while the partially flooded area between is stalked by a variety of strange elemental things.

Heritage USA Dungeon Floors Tiles -vintage D&D - 9732 UNUSED UNCUT 1981Level 3 (card table in the foreground; Heritage Dungeon Floors c. 1981): the weird gets turned up as we enter the cramped confines of this smoky, crumbling level.  Riddled with pits, grates, and chasms, this level is overrun by flamesnakes and various malign elementals of the fiery persuasion, all leading up to a magic portal that grants access to the fabled City of Brass!

By dinner time our party of seven had by passed the dragon (missing all the loot) and lured the owlbear into the flaming oil trap.  So as the family ate dinner on the floor around the coffee table we made plans to descend to level two using the first stair we had discovered (there are actually three ways down, but we roll for our choices at intersections since the characters are going in blind).  By bedtime we packed up level one so that normal life could resume a bit, but half of the living room is still a groaning, tottering monster-haunted maze of stone.

This was tons of fun and kept the kids engaged for hours designing and stocking the madcap maze, talking about level-themes, placing stairs to connect levels, and considering the various "factions" on each level.

What I enjoyed most was the "fast and loose" rules style we adopted: ascending AC, +1 hit bonus per level/hit die, 1d6 for all weapons, saving throws of 15+ (+1/level or hit die) applied to a number of situations (including morale checks), ad hoc die rolls for reaction checks, etc.  All very fast, simple, and intuitive and great time with the kids as well.