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Archive for 2014

Session #17 – Daring Tales #8 – The Island Of Terror

August 27, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Giant Centipede[Author's Note: This is the log for the 17th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Clyde Beatty – Whip crackin’ animal expert with a troubled past.
  • Johnny Kelly – Self-taught mechanic and chemist who knows he is the best at what he does…just ask him!
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Chamber Of The Moon

As the fight ends the group speaks with the “intended sacrifice” and examines the chamber just inside the mountain at the back of the ziggurat. The sacrifice has olive skin and deeply stained tan pants. When the heroes address him in English he replies that he knows only little English. He is apparently fluent in Greek. His name is Lander. Lander claims to work for Stefan. He says that most of his party has been sacrificed by the savages. The lone Greek guesses that he might be the only survivor.

While Lander gets his strength the group examines the chamber just inside of the ziggurat. The chamber walls are full of strange pictographs. Using the journal from the American explorers Miles is able to translate the pictographs. He learns that these ruins were built by an ancient race known as the Chicomoztoci, or “those who dwelt in the seven caves.” They apparently worship some type of moon good. A set of pictographs over the only way out of the room warn of the “dawn plunderers of the Valley Of The Moon.”

After giving the Greek a spare pistol, the members of Tesla’s Power Corp moves out of the chamber. After along walk in a dark cave the group finds a large round copper metal door. In the center of the round door is an Aztec calendar. After investigating Tommy realizes that it is like a simple safe tumbler and sets to crack it. A minute later and the door opens. The next room is full of large centipedes! When the door opens they surge forward followed by two humongous centipedes that are over 18 feet long! After a pitched battle the group is able to take down the creatures.

Ruins In The Valley Of The Moon

On the other side of the room with the bugs is a short hallway that leads to a beautiful grass meadow. Tommy climbs up the mountain side and borrowing Johnny’s binoculars takes a look around. On one side of the meadow he spies some dinosaurs that resemble velociraptors. On the other side is a ruined city. Behind both is the volcano. About 1/2 way up is a cave entrance. The top of the volcano is sputtering ash.

Clyde finds trails from several men leading towards the city ruins. Examining the trails carefully reveals that the Americans appear to be being led by the Greeks. Are they captives?

At the ruins Tommy scouts ahead. He spies a thin wisp of smoke from a fire and investigates. Several of the tribesmen are watching the trail through the city from cover. On one of the them has a shiny knife that obviously does not belong to the man. Tommy attempts to steal it but gets his hand caught on the mans belt. He then whistles for the heroes who are actually able to back down the savages without getting attacked. Quietly the group leaves towards the cave mouth.

Out Of The Pteranodons And Into The Fire

Johnny rigs up some of his sticky goo so that the group can climb up the side of the volcano a bit easier. As they near the cave mouth some pteranodons take to the air. Their nests have apparently been disturbed by the presence of the heroes. As they swoop down the group jumps into action. Tommy scampers up the hill. The baby t-rex grabs a pteranodon out of the air snapping its neck! Johnny and SAM let loose with gas attacks stunning the beasts. Clyde pulls one out of the air with his whip sending it crashing into the rock hard lava wall. When one swoops down Mike punches it in the neck sending it sprawling down the side of the volcano.

As Tommy climbs over the crest of the ridge towards the cave he hears a rifle bolt click back. The familiar Greek accented voice of Stefan Andropolous speaks out, “Climb up slowly and the rest of the Americans in your party will be allowed to live!” Next to Stefan is his bodyguard Mr. Scar. Standing nearby are four of his mercenaries. After binding and disarming the heroes Stefan goes on to explain that he believes the creators of this structure are the fabled Atlanteans. Stefan also relays that his men have just broken through a tunnel that will lead him to the Hollow Earth where he can get their fabled technology and use it to get the power he so rightly deserves. Lander is not being bound but instead appears to have rejoined Stefan’s group.

The members of Tesla’s Power Corp are led into a large room with a strange metal floor. On one side of the room sit four tied up members of the American expedition. On the other side of the room are rail cart tracks that lead into the heart of the volcano. Lander speaks with Stefan in Greek but he seems nervous and not comfortable with the plan. Lander keeps glancing back at the heroes then the other Grecians.

With some careful trickery the group escapes their bonds and rushes the Greek mercenaries, Stefan, and Mr. Scar. After felling two of the mercenaries Mike stuns Mr. Scar and Stefan with some well placed fists. Tommy runs towards the carts. Johnny lets loose with gas stunning several of the men. Miles cuts loose on Stefan with lightning bolts. Clyde grabs Mike’s rifle from one of the fallen mercenaries then start shooting at the other men. After regaining his senses Stefan jumps into a mine cart then pulls forth an item that summons four huge metal sphinx statues! The statues move forward to attack the group. Mike grabs on to the back of Stefan’s mine cart while it goes down the tracks. Tommy, Johnny, and Miles jump into another cart to pursue. This leaves Clyde who takes out sphinx after sphinx with well placed rifle shots! Once the Americans are safe he jumps into a mine cart with baby t-rex and rolls down the tracks.

After a wild ride the lead mine cart with Stefan and Mike hanging on the back reaches a sharp dip with broken tracks in the center! Mike jams on the breaks as the mine cart tumbles off the tracks towards the lava! Thinking fast Johnny pulls a rope and grappling hook from the bottom of the mine cart and asks Tommy to throw Mike a line. Tommy throws a perfect shot to Mike who swings under the cart then up inside of it! After clearing the jump the heroes trundle down the roller coaster track where they plunge off into the darkness…

What fate awaits the members of Tesla’s Power Corp in the Hollow Earth?!? Terrible cults!?! Ancient temples!?! Strange creatures that defy description!?! THAT AND MORE!!!

2014 ENnie Award Winners!

August 21, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings, Product Reviews, Site Recommendations

ENnies LogoHere is a list of the 2014 ENnie Award winners. If I have a comment you can find it under the entry..

Best Adventure

My Take

Eternal Lies is good stuff. :)

Best Aid/Accessory

My Take

I have the FATE dice called Antique. These new FATE dice sets are nice.

Best Art, Interior

Best Art, Cover

Best Blog

My Take

Gnome Stew has kicked tail for a long time. Highly recommended.

Best Cartography

Best Electronic Book

Best Family Game

My Take

I just finished reading FAE a little while ago. It is the first product in a while that has made me react with, “This is really something special.” FATE took several awards this year and they are all well deserved.

I’ll have to look up the Hobbit Tales…never heard of it until this year. :)

Best Free Product

Best Game

My Take

Really glad that this category came down with FATE for the gold and Numenera for the silver. I think FATE is a better product that is a LOT more accessible than Numenera. Botha are fantastic but I give the edge to FATE.

Best Miniatures Product

Best Monster/Adversary

Best Podcast

My Take

I just adore Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff. It has quickly emerged as my favorite RPG podcast and I listen to a ton of them. I’ve reviewed several of Ken Hites’ DunDraCon seminars in the past and my opinion of Ken still holds true. Folks should really listen when Ken opens his big trap…I mean mouth. :D

Best Production Values

Best RPG Related Product

Best Rules

My Take

Two STRONG entries in this list. I already gave my opinion on FATE but I think 13th Age is a GREAT RPG with enough crunch and story driven elements. Very nice RPG.

Best Setting

My Take

Right here is the category where Numenera excels. The setting is a wonderful mix of sorcery as science with a dash of post-holocaust goodness. A very complete and detailed setting.

Best Supplement

Best Software

My Take

Interested that Realm Works won here even though it is fairly new. If I was not so hooked on OneNote it might be worth giving it a go.

Best Writing

Best Website

My Take

SO glad RPGGeek won here. I am such a fan of their site. I just LOVE having my entire collection and want list managed on their site. Their news entries were “upgraded” recently and they rock. Highly recommended site.

Product of the Year

My Take

As I mentioned above I would reverse these but either way these are both wonderful.

2015 Judges

  • Annah Madrinan
  • Jakub Nowosad
  • Kayra Keri Kupcu
  • Kurt Wiegel
  • Stacy Muth

2014 Judges’ Spotlight Winners

  • Hooper: Hobomancer Companion - Hex Games
  • Kayra Keri Kupcu:  Deep Magic - Kobold Press
  • Stacy Muth: Rocket Age RPG - Cubicle 7 Entertainment
  • Jakub Nowosad: The Demolished Ones - Chronicle City/Rite Publishing
  • Kurt Wiegel: Weird Wars Rome - Pinnacle Entertainment Group

    My Take

    Weird Wars Rome is super cool. I think this Savage Worlds setting is more creative than Deadlands Noir but again…it is like comparing Mozart and Bach. Both are great in different lights.

    GAME ON! :D

Session #16 – Daring Tales #8 – The Island Of Terror

July 14, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

T-Rex Roar[Author's Note: This is the log for the 16th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Clyde Beatty – Whip crackin’ animal expert with a troubled past.
  • Johnny Kelly – Self-taught mechanic and chemist who knows he is the best at what he does…just ask him!
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Crash Landing!

The adventure begins in medias res with the team in a seaplane that is fighting to stay airborne over a rough Caribbean. With a crash the plane is struck and the propellers stops. The group flashes back to a scene where Tesla and Trubee are asking the group to investigate the disappearance of one of their expeditions that has gone missing on a mysterious island in the South Pacific. The front window smashes inward. Mile’s hired pilot is impaled by what appears to be a pteranodon! As the dangerous dinosaur snaps about the cabin Miles lets loose with a bolt. The lighting bolt goes off target and puts a hole right through the dashboard and outer hull of the plane. As the uncontrollable plane starts to dive Johnny dives under the control panel in an attempt to repair the rudder controls. Mike lets loose with his rifle on the pteranodon sending it sliding off the front of the plane. As the plane nears the water Miles grabs the controls and remembering a single flight lesson that he took back in England pulls back on the yoke. After navigating around some rocks and through a stone arch Miles lands the seaplane near a rocky cave.

Ancient Byway

After securing the plane the members of Tesla’s Power Corp gather up their equipment from the plane and head towards the nearby coast. Once on a small black sand beach the group starts a fire to dry their gear. After getting dry they head out of the cave through a small tunnel. The tunnel leads to an ancient cobblestone road that runs at the bottom of a steep canyon. Tommy decides to climb up and look around. He sees a dense jungle surrounding two peeks. The second peak is volcanic and is smoking with an eerie glow.

After walking down the canyon there is an earthquake! As the ground shakes part of the walls start to fall down on the heroes. The heroes dash down the road avoiding falling rocks, boulders, trees, and a skeleton. It is only with careful help from the nimbler members of the team that they are able to survive. As the sun sets the group has entered the jungle and found an some old ruins where they can put up camp. Clyde starts a small fire and the group puts down for the night. They decide to setup watches.

At midnight, while Mike is on watch, Tommy awakens when he hears a noise. Clyde is also aroused. Although Mike does not hear anything due to his damaged hearing from his time during the Great War Tommy assures him that someone is approaching. Suddenly the thick jungle wall explodes with action! Deranged tribesman yelling terrible chants race forward! They are wielding clubs and appear to be trying to subdue the team. Initially the tribesman do some damage but as soon as the entire group is awakened they manage to scare them off.

Trail Tracking

Once the sun is up the members of Tesla’s Power Corp decides to track the tribesman back to their camp. Led by the brilliant eyes of tracker Clyde Beatty the group follows the trail through the dense jungle and across a river. The journey is slow going but the team is moving quickly.

In the late afternoon they emerge from the thick jungle to find them selves at the foot of a great stone bridge. As the group start to cross the bridge the ground shakes violently. To their surprise it is not another earthquake but it is instead a herd of triceratops! The team quickly dash across the bridge. When they reach the other side the large dinosaurs run onto the bridge sending half of them down the steep canyon walls.

When the heroes continue down the trail they enter what appears to be an ancient plaza but it has collapsed leaving only pillars. As they start to explore the area they hear a roar and from out of the trees a tyrannosaurus-rex emerges! As the beast clears the trees the group separates. Mike lets loose on it’s head with two powerful rifle shots! It rears back but keeps coming. Miles cuts loose with a spell but it just seems to make it madder! Tommy climbs a tree and waits for it to get closer. The large creature approaches Mike and narrowly misses him with teeth the size of large knives! Tommy then hurls a bottle of nitroglycerine down the beasts throat in a perfectly thrown shot. After a brief pause the beast rocks back and explodes in a blast of chemical fire! Upon taking some claws and fangs from the t-rex the group moves out of the plaza. Clyde notices that in the track of the beast is a crushed sheet of paper with Greek writing. With that the group decides to follow the t-rex trail not the savages.

The t-rex trail leads to a crushed camp. It appears that a group of Greek explorers under Stephan Andropolous, the devious mobster that they encountered during their adventure in Crete, is also on the island. The group finds a book written in English from the lost expedition with symbols and their translations. When the group hears a whining noise they investigate and find a small baby t-rex. Clyde approaches the beast and by feeding it some raw meat gains its trust.

Temple Trouble

Now following tracks that lead from the camp the members of Tesla’s Power Corp come upon a stepped pyramid. On top of the pyramid are a large group of the deranged savages. They are beating drums and chanting. As their chanting reaches a crescendo the tribesmen bring forth an olive skinned man and appear to be preparing to sacrifice him. Acting quickly Miles grabs the sacrifice with his telekinesis. Mike cuts loose on the tribal leader with rifle shots. Johnny starts shooting tear gas pellets. Tommy sneaks up one side trying to get past them and into a side tunnel. Clyde and the baby t-rex rush up one stairwell surprising the deranged tribesman with their yelling and shooting! This gives them the split second the group needs to start taking them out. Some of the savages manage to run down and confront the heroes but soon they are taken out.

What will our group face when they actually reach the volcano?!?

Things get hot as our heroes enter the heart of a beating volcano! What evil threat waits within this terrible mountain of fire!?! The brave members of Tesla’s Power Corp are up to task and plan to find out!

Session #15 – Daring Tale #7 – The Twelfth Gate

June 30, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Twelfth Gate Cover Image[Author's Note: This is the log for the 15th session. Note that the order of the events in this record may not be in the exact order that they occurred during play. The narrator is shown in italics.]

In this hair-raising adventure of Tesla’s Power Corp you can follow the exploits of the following heroes:

  • Clyde Beatty – Whip crackin’ animal expert with a troubled past.
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Explosive Train Ride

As Clyde loads their camels on the a he notices a small patch of rock and hears a squeak. When he investigates he finds an Egyptian ferret who seems to want to challenge him. Clyde feeds the ferret then the two seem to be a pair. Tommy decides that the ferret should be named “Johnny”. After loading the camels the train heads north following the magical pull of the staff.

During the train ride while Tommy is walking the halls he spots a strange little man in a dark colored robe leaving one of the restrooms. The strange thing is that Tommy does not remember the man entering the restroom. He follows the man in the robe to a car where he meets with several large men. After a brief conversation the large men stand and walk towards the train car where the members of Tesla’s Power Corp are riding. Thinking quickly Tommy handcuffs the train doors closed and alerts the rest of the group. After tugging on the locked door the small man returns and unhooks the car with the heroes! As the trains separate he yells that they will soon be dead as when the train slows a bomb that he has placed under it will explode! Tommy climbs under the train and finds that there is in fact a bomb with a device attached to the wheel. Thinking fast the group jumps to the back train and apply the brakes. The back car further separates leaving the middle car with the bomb unoccupied. As the cars slow the middle train explodes sending it careening off the rails! With that the group grabs their camels and decides to continue without the train.

Hidden Temple Tomb

After Clyde and his ferret have skillfully led the group through the desert the group arrives at a small oasis with two obelisks. The obelisks are marked with a symbol or Ra and Apep. After some searching Tommy notices that the bases of the obelisks are rigged so that they can be turned. With that Mike realizes that the symbol of Ra should be faced towards the rising sun. Once both are turned the heroes hear a low rumbling noise. A strange temple entrance rises from out of the sand! After inspecting the group proceeds into the temple.

At the bottom of the stairway is a black sarcophagus with the form of Apep. Intricate murals around the room seem to infer that this room was used to contain Apep’s minions. The lid to the sarcophagus is ajar. When the members of the Corp approach using they feel a foul wind. The wind stirs up dust on the floor to form several mummies that are made of snakes! With that the group jumps into action. Miles cuts loose with lightning bolts. Mike uses the Staff Of Ra to blast the mummies. Clyde takes a deadly strike but manages to tough it out with a belt of booze. After protecting Clyde in a shield of light Mike destroys one of the mummies with a powerful strike from the Staff. The small ferret takes out the smaller snake swarms. After the fight ends the group finds that the sarcophagus contains a stairwell leading down.

Solar Barge Ride Has Bite

This stairwell goes down for quite some time before emerging at an underground river. The river is polluted with black snakes and sludge. Waiting at the doc is an Egyptian solar barge with magical rowers. After paying the mechanical driver the boat starts moving down the river. During the trip they see movement in the water and are attacked by a giant shadow snake! The snake deals a blow but is turned back momentarily when Tommy throws nitroglycerine in it’s mouth. Mike then summons the power of the Staff and brains the snake sending it back into the dark sludge.

The Final Confrontation

At the end of the boat ride the heroes find themselves at a magical temple. Twelve pillars are holding up a majestic domed roof. Eleven of the pillars are covered in black snakes and dead vines. The last pillar glows with a bright white light. In the center of the dome is a block of stone that holds a black staff. The staff is shooting a bolt of purple energy into the white pillar. All around the domed temple stand the minions of Apep. Leading them is a massive snake man with only a tail and no legs. He claims to be the High-Priest Of Apep. Miles detects that he has several spells running. There is also a powerful warrior snake man who claims to the Champion Of Apep. In addition to the two snake men are four devotees armed with swords and shields.

After brief soliloquies a massive melee ensues! The High-Priest lets loose a powerful snake spell that sends most of the heroes reeling. Clyde shakes it off then grabs the black staff with his whip and pulls it out of the stone block. This angers the High-Priest who tells his men to return the staff! With that the rest of the men attack. Tommy ties a rope to the black staff and starts to scamper up a pillar with it. Miles uses the papyrus scroll to cast one of the spells on the High-Priest. The effect is a massive blast of light that sends the High-Priest to the ground barely alive! He orders everyone to fell the foul sorcerer. Miles takes some serious damage but remains standing. Mike smashes the Champion and several devotees with the Staff Of Ra. Realizing what must be done Miles asks Mike to give him the staff so he can place it in the temple altar. Mike hesitates but ends up fighting off the mind influencing power of the staff and hands it to Miles. When Miles places the staff in the alter the room fills with light! The High-Priest is sent reeling through a dark portal that forms at one of the black pillars. The rest of the snakes scream out in pain as the light peels off their scaly skin! The battle has ended with the forces of light being victorious.

Staggering from the temple the group decides the best course of action is to seal it up.

In our next thrilling adventure our heroes explore an island that time forgot. What ancient evil lurks in the shadows waiting to strike! Tune in to this station to find out what awaits the members of Tesla’s Power Corp!

Comics Review – Black Dossier, Black Fire, And Blue Beetle

June 09, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Fun Reads, Media Interests

-== Black Dossier ==-

Author: Alan Moore
Artist: Kevin O’Neill
Layout: 7″ x 10″, 200 pages, softcover, with a color cover and interior.
Publisher: DC Comics through WildStorm
Year Published: 2007

-== What is it? ==-

Black Dossier is a League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen story set at a later time period with an updated set of characters. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill reprise their writer and artist roles.

-== What I Like ==-

The story in Black Dossier is somewhat novel in that the graphic novel itself is actually part of the story. Various elements of the dossier lead the characters along.

The presentation of the graphic novel is really special. There is a variety of content including newspaper articles, ads, etc. The last section even includes pages in red/blue 3D that can be viewed with a set of 3D glasses that are provided.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

Black Dossier is a bit too esoteric for my simple tastes. I has a problem understand the story at almost any level. This is obscure storytelling even for Moore.

Even though I appreciate the array of content some of it was quite difficult to read because of the font choice and size. In some places the font needed to be larger so that it could be read in comic format.

-== Summary ==-

Black Dossier is a book that only hard core Alan Moore fans will love. It you fit that description give it a try.

I give it 4 out of 10 paws.

You can get copies of Black Dossier at Amazon at this URL for $15.66.

Black Fire Cover

-== Black Fire ==-

Author: Hernan Rodriguez
Artist: Hernan Rodriguez
Layout: 7″ x 10″, 160 pages, hardcover, with a color cover and interior.
Publisher: Archaia
Year Published: 2011

-== What is it? ==-

Archaia puts out some amazing products. When I read about Hernan Rodriguez’s story of soldiers entering a “cursed” village I thought it would be interesting so I picked it up.

-== What I Like ==-

The artwork in Black Fire is very different and quite spectacular. Rodriguez uses strong heavy black lines that he then covers with various watercolor washes. The combination is sharply contrasting. I think it really adds to the starkness of the environment and reinforces the depravity and bleakness of the story.

The covers and flaps are also beautifully done and work to enhance the overall presentation of the product.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

The story in Black Fire seemed slow. I think some tighter editing and potentially the loss of some scenes might have helped. For example, you don’t need five scenes slowing how hungry the characters are becoming. One or two scenes is plenty. Saying this the end of the story was much stronger and wrapped up the book quite well.

I love the art choices made in Black Fire but individual pages can get cluttered with black lines. Too much black made the pages look sloppy.

-== Summary ==-

If you are looking for a dark historical horror story check out this one from Archaia.

I give it 6 out of 10 paws.

Amazon has copies of Black Fire for $19.51 at this URL.

-== Blue Beetle ==-

Author: Keith Giffen and John Rogers
Artist: Cully Hammer and Duncan Rouleau
Layout: 7″ x 10″, 144 pages, softcover, with a color cover and interior.
Publisher: DC Comics
Year Published: 2006 through 2007

-== What is it? ==-

I’ve always been a Ted Cord Blue Beetle fan and I am a huge fan of Leverage so when I learned that John Rogers did a reimagining I decided to take a look. I read the Shellshocked and Road Trip trade paperbacks which comprise the first twelve issues of the comic series.

-== What I Like ==-

The new Blue Beetle is a teenager named Jaime Reyes who finds an alien scarab creature that gives him various super powers through an organic power armor of sorts. The effect of an inexperienced wearer with a super suit from aliens instantly made me think of The Greatest American Hero. In Blue Beetle you can feel the same vibe…and I consider that a good thing. :)

The new Blue Beetle stories are a fantastic mix of drama and comedy. One aspect that I really like is that the scarab alien is a weapon so he is always suggesting killing anyone who get in their way even thought Jaime does not want to kill anyone.

The side characters in Blue Beetle are very well done. Some are known DC characters but most are created new for the series. His high school friends are really fascinating. By the end of the series I cared as much about them as the Beetle.

The artwork in Blue Beetle is not overly detailed but it really does not need to be. It is clear and focuses on the important aspects of the action.

-== What I Don’t Like ==-

I think my only real gripe is the story in these first twelve issues is VERY light. It is so light that some folks may be left wanting more depth.

-== Summary ==-

If you are looking for light superhero fare then you should take a bite out of Blue Beetle.

I give it 8 out of 10 paws.

Shellshocked and Road Trip are available on Amazon.com for roughly $14. Here is a link to Shellshocked.