Kingbeast's Lair

Growling about the RPG industry and my gaming life. RPG and anime reviews from a passionate fan. (Formerly John's Hero HQ.)
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Archive for the ‘Games’

A First RPG Session Report

January 08, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Games, Growlings

Dwarven PriestA couple of months ago I was contacted by my cousin Paul. He wanted to have me teach his two sons, Dave and Andrew, how to play role-playing games. I was delighted to get chance to bring a second generation of gamers into the hobby. When I was very young I actually taught several advanced placement students how to play Champions. Over the years I have taken many people into the fold but it had been a while since I worked with teenagers.

The Prep

My first question was what system I would use for the session. After much thought I decided on Savage Worlds from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. To folks who know me this selection may be a surprise. Aren’t you a Hero junkie? :) I decided that Savage Worlds’ ultra-fast learning curve would be perfect. It also uses the funny sided dice and cards which add to the fun for new gamers. I used the free Wizards & Warriors material from Pinnacle as the adventure. (Here is a link to that free material.) This made things easy as they provide sample characters, figure flats, and nearly everything I would need to run the session. Another advantage to Savage Worlds is the price of entry. The Explorer’s Editions are extremely inexpensive at a $10 cover price.

Now that I had the system, adventure, and all of the characters done I started thinking about how I wanted to run the actual session. To this end I created an outline of what I would discuss. Before I started the actual adventure I wanted to discuss a bit about the hobby to give them a feel for where it has been and where it is now. I wanted to make sure this introduction was short and sweet so we could get to the fun stuff (aka the adventure). I also thought my cousin Paul might be interested as he has not gamed in many years.

The Session

When I arrived they has setup a nice table with plenty of food and snacks. To my surprise two of Dave and Andrew’s friends turned them down at the last minute. The good news was that my cousin Paul and his wife Shahrzad decided to play. This gave us a nice number of players (i.e. 4). In the long run I think having Paul in the session really helped. Having role-played in the past he could take the lead at times to show the other how things work.

I started by talking very briefly about the history of the hobby. I made sure to hit only the highlights so I could go quickly through the material. After that I went over the main companies in the market (WOTC, Paizo, White Wolf, etc) and the new indie games that are hitting the market. I ended the intro by going over some basic terms. For example, player, NPC, PC, GM, dice abbreviations, etc.

Having gone through the introduction I briefly reviewed the characters then handed them out. Paul played a necromancer and the thief. Andrew and Dave played a barbarian and an archer. Shahrzad played a dwarven priest. After giving out the PC I went over the various parts of the character sheets carefully. As I went I asked if people had questions on the various sections or on specifics on their sheets. I also highlighted various parts of the sheet and how they pertained to each characters. For example, Agility is how quick the character reacts and represents hand eye coordination. The elven archer has a very high Agility. I also intentionally asked Paul to play one of the characters with magic as they are a bit more involved than the other characters.

At this point I started the session. The opening scene involved the PC returning to a small village after saving it from a hoard of goblins. After entering the town they head towards the inn. Once entering the characters are acknowledged by the bartender. Not being sure where to start the players paused. That is when Paul took the lead and in character as the necromancer talked to the bartender about getting rooms and some food. It worked out really nice having Paul take the lead and throw out advice during the run. Often he might give the other minor advice on different things that they might do. It really helped having him play that inside angle during the session. I definitely plan to keep that in mind if I ever conduct sessions like this in the future. One really great scene happened when a small girl comes into the bar looking for help. When she became scared of the necromancer one of the other players stepped up and did a great job talking with her. I actually changed this lead from one of the junior priests in the village to a little girl to make it more approachable and really drive the PC to help. Who can resist a scared little girl who is looking for help?!? It ended up being a good change.

Initially there is a tiny mystery for the PC to figure out revolving around the little girl’s guardian, a local priest. It is up to the PC to gather clues about what might have happened to him. This worked out really well as it let the characters use some of their skills and helped ease them into the role-playing.

At this point the adventure started rolling until the first fight scene. The adventure has a great opening fight to get the players warmed up. It was against some zombies. Although it started kind of slow it quickly picked up speed. It was not a surprise when Andrew playing the barbarian started flying all over the place with his axe. Leave it to teenage boys to get into the hack-and-slash.

It ended with a climactic fight against a large skeleton and the corrupted priest. The battle was climactic and turned several times. Everyone had fun in the spotlight during this scene.

The adventure closed with the little girl asking the PC who will take care of her. The conversations were great with various players throwing out their thoughts. It allowed me to highlight how it might play out over a longer campaign where one adventure might affect the next.

Overall I consider the afternoon a resounding success. I had tons of fun and I know they did as well. Hec…that is what this amazing hobby is all about…having fun with your friends. :D

Session #9 – Daring Tale #5 – The Talons Of Lo-Peng

January 07, 2014 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Second Talon Of Lo Peng[Author's Note: This is the log for the 9th 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:

  • Jared Caesar – Savvy archaeologist and heroic explorer.
  • Mike Callahan – Tough private-eye with a zest for life.
  • Johnny Kelly – Self-taught mechanic and chemist who knows he is the best at what he does…just ask him!
  • Tommy Kelly – Teen thief with a “Robin Hood” complex.
  • Miles Ravenwood – Mysterious man-of-means with knowledge in all things arcane.

Shocking Development

As the story picks up the characters are figuring out how they can safely scale a gigantic Buddha statue so that they can enter the secret tunnel behind it’s head. While the current members of the Corp figure out the details Jared Caesar stares on in disbelief. These strangers are definitely not archaeologists and they seem very ill-prepared. After the rest of the characters enter the tunnel Jared approaches and climbs up the statue.

Inside the members of Tesla’s Power Corp find a vast hidden chamber. The chamber is filled with wooden walkways suspended by chains over what appears to be a nearly bottomless pit. Along the walkways are statues that act as pillars to support the roof. On the far side of the room is a glowing golden coffer.

As the current members of the Corp decide how to proceed Jared knocks loose some dirt and is spotted. After explaining the fact that he is after the same thing as the group and that he has useful skills, including the ability to read Mandarin, they begrudgingly accept him.

With some prompting from Tommy, Johnny rigs up a hook like extension that can be used to move from one chain to another without touching the walkways. This allows Tommy to carefully examine the walkways and coffer.

At the coffer Tommy takes the lead by examining the platform on which it rests. By inspecting it from the underside he determines that it is rigged to swing out on a pivot dropping anyone on the top into the bottomless pit. With this knowledge Tommy and Johnny wedge the platform into the upright position. Next Miles reaches out with his mystical senses. He determines that the coffer is magically tied to the room and sets up a dampening circle around it. Once done Jared reads the writing which tells of an immortal dragon whose heart is split into three pieces. After unlocking and opening the coffer the group finds a piece of the jade amulet. Sensing great power Miles carefully reaches into the coffer to pick it up.

At that moment there is a crack of lightning and the group sees a man in a blue gee appear! After summoning martial art minions he orders them to attack in Mandarin. With this the heroes jump into action! Miles cuts loose with devastating lightning bolts. Callahan lets loose with his twin Colts. Jared takes out some minions with some well placed rifle shots. After taking some terrible damage the second talon falls. Unexpectedly villagers rush in with guns blazing to help out the group. In moments the chaotic melee is over.

Back at the village the group is treated like heroes. Miles and Jared take some time to examine the amulet. It matches the description and photograph of the first piece but is a different segment. When Miles stretches out with his senses to examine it his vision changes to a city on the water with a beautiful domed cathedral. The scene moves down a waterway then under the famous Rialto Bridge. It is Venice! Finally his vision focuses in on a white washed stucco wall then a statue of a cherub that is clutching another piece of the amulet.

Hedge Maze

After touching down in Venice the group is met by Luigi Giovanni. Luigi owns the Palace Hotel and seems to know Miles from a previous visit. He offers the group an executive suite at the hotel. The group asks Luigi if he can protect their bags why they are in town. He confirms that it would be his pleasure to watch their valuables.

The next morning Miles starts asking around about the cherub statue from his vision. He eventually finds an art dealer who has seen it. The art dealer directs the group to a piazza that has a hedge maze that incorporates several fountains that have cherub centerpieces.

Just before entering the hedge maze the group spots several Chinese men wearing trench coats entering from another alley. Using Miles’ mystical senses and their own quick wits the Corp quickly navigates the maze. As they approach the cherub status they find a man in a red gee grabbing another pieces of the jade amulet! After ordering his men to attack in Mandarin he launches fireballs at the group! Acting quickly Johnny orders SAM to protect Miles. This acts to keep the flames away from Miles allowing him to cut loose on the fire mystic. In the meantime Mike rushes forward into the fray sending martial artists flying backwards into Tommy’s spider amulet swarm. In seconds the Chinese thugs are down and the final talon has fallen.

As the group turns to leave an image appears before them. The image is of an old Chinese man with a long black Fu-Manchu mustache. He informs the group that his name is Lo Peng and that he has kidnapped Mike’s army buddy Eddie Chang! He tells them to bring the pieces of the amulet that they possess to the Great Wall in four days so that they may trade them for Eddie’ life.

Don’t turn your dial or you may miss the spine tingling climactic battle between an immortal dragon and the heroic might of Tesla’s Power Corp!

The Kingbeast’s Lair 2013 Gift Guide

December 10, 2013 By: John Taber Category: Anime Reviews, Fun Reads, Games, Media Interests, Product Reviews

Welcome to the second annual Kingbeast’s Lair gift guide. Just like last year I will be presenting two lists. One is my personal wish list and the second is a selection of products that I think would make great gifts for that geek in your life. This year I will also add a board game entry to the lineup. The boys and I have played a lot of board games over the last year and I think we have found some winners. So for each selection I will limit myself to one RPG, one board game, one anime series or movie, and one fun read.

My Wish List

For the first time I have more board game entries on my Christmas list than RPG entries…and the only RPG entry is the lowest priority item! GASP! :D

Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide To Campaign Management by Engine PublishingOdyssey Front Cover
Odyssey appears to be the kind of RPG meta-gaming book that I often enjoy. It has a focus for GMs and tends to be broad in scope. In this case it is also written by the fine folks at Gnome Stew including Phil Vecchione. Phil’s book Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master’s Guide To Session Prep was one of my favorite products of last year so I am hoping that same level of quality coverage will be founds here. You can get copies of Odyssey in softcover format at this URL for $24.95. DriveThruRPG sells copies in PDF format for $11.95 at this URL.

Memoir 44 by Days Of Wonder
As I mentioned earlier this year has seen a ton of board game play at my house and I could not be happier. We have several massive hits around home but probably the biggest is Memoir 44 from Days Of Wonder. The boys and I have collected nearly all of the expansion sets including the massively rare Air Pack and if our Christmas lists get filled then we may have everything. The number one entry on my gift list this year is a second Memoir 44 base set so that we can play Overlord scenarios. The Overlord scenarios use two Memoir 44 boards placed end-to-end to form a really wide battlefield. The boys are really looking forward to giving some of these longer more involved scenarios a try. You can get copies of Memoir 44 at lots of places online and at your FLGS. Here is a link to the Amazon entry where they are selling base sets for $49.48. Expect a longer review of Memoir 44 early next year.

Batman: The Complete Animated Series by DC Comics
I have been a massive fan of this series since it originally aired. Bruce Timm made a name for himself on this series for good reason. The stories are intricate and the animation quality is very high. The voice acting includes consummate professionals in the field. Mark Hammil playing the Joker and Arleen Sorken as Harlequin are off the charts fantastic. I’m such a huge Harley fan. :) This box set includes the entire run of the show on something like 18 discs. Unfortunately I did not get it in the past so it sells for a fortune unless you want to pick up a bootleg copy on eBay.

For some reason this set is HEAVILY bootlegged. If you do an eBay search on the product you find tons of entries with low starting prices. Upon further investigation the sellers have no other sales and often include very strange buying guidelines. For example, they may have no returns allowed or ask to contact the seller to pay offline (i.e. NOT through eBay). Being a savvy eBay buyer the little hairs on the back of my neck start standing at attention. A quick Google search revealed that this product is HEAVILY bootlegged. Here is a fantastic video that I found that shows how to tell if your copy if a forgery.

100 Bullets: The Deluxe Edition Book Two by Vertigo
In an earlier blog post I reviewed 100 Bullets Deluxe Edition Book One. I think this series is really great so I added the second volume to my list. See that review for all the good reasons why this sucker tops my list of fun reads. You can get copies on Amazon at this URL for $32.04.

Wish List For That Special Person In Your Life

Here are just three of the items on my bookshelf that I think would make great gifts. Note that the first two of these entries have not yet been reviewed on Kingbeast’s Lair.

Champions Complete by Hero Game
Hero has finally put out a condensed version of the Hero System 6th Edition rules that is reminiscent of the old big blue book (i.e. BBB). The format and content of this book is truly amazing. Derek Hiemforth really knocked it out of the park with this homerun product. Immediately upon receiving my copy I had it spiral bound so I could open it next to me when I work on adventures. Every gamer and Hero fan should get a copy. You can pickup copies on Amazon for $30.81 at this URL. For a paltry $20 you can get a copy on DriveThruRPG at this URL.

Ticket To Ride by Days Of Wonder
Ticket To Ride is probably the second most played game in my household right now. It is great fun to play and is simple enough for the boys to play along at full speed. It is also my wife Sermin’s favorite game right now…but don’t play with her…she is a Ticket To Ride shark! :D We have the 1910 and Africa expansions but really the base game with 1910 are enough to play for quite some time. One of the best board games I have ever played and the winner of the Spiel des Jahres in 2004. Complete board gaming served up on a golden spike. Amazon has copies for $37.29 at this URL.

Samurai Jack Season 1 by Cartoon NetworkAll-Star Superman
After Batman: The Animated Series my next favorite animated series is Samurai Jack. With Jack Genndy Tartakovsky created a nearly silent hero that speaks volumes with his actions. The series is cinematic in scope and quality. You can read my review of season 1 in my blog post earlier this year. Although maybe not as great as Season 2 this season put Jack on the map. You can get copies for $16.49 on Amazon at this URL.

All-Star Superman by DC Comics
All-Star Superman does something that I didn’t think was possible. It expands the Superman mythos in a glorious display of words and pictures. Anyone even remotely interested in comics will enjoy reading these personal stories that capture what it means to be the Man Of Steel. You can read my review of the first trade at this URL. Copies can be had at Amazon at this URL for $20.78.

Merry Christmas everyone! :D

Our Memoir 44 Tackle Box Of Holding

November 27, 2013 By: John Taber Category: Games, Product Reviews

My boys and I have really fallen in love with Memoir 44 from Days Of Wonder. Over the course of the last year we have obtained nearly all of the expansions for the game. I think the only things left are for Breakthrough and Overlord sets. Those are on our Christmas lists. :) As we have collected so much material I decided to invest in a storage device to hold all of our beloved Memoir 44 components. After much searching I decided on the Plano 787-010 3700 Size Angled StowAway System. This blog post is a review of this product.

(Click on the pictures to get a larger view.)

Tackle Box View 1

I’ll start my review from the front of the box and work my way towards the back. On the lid are two side compartments that are great for holding terrain tiles. On the sides of the front are two smaller storage compartments that come with clear plastic boxes. These side compartments fit an expansion box perfectly. We use the left side for the Terrain Pack box and more tiles. The right side we use for chits and airplanes. More on that in a bit. The main front compartment holds three smaller boxes and one larger one.

Tackle Box View 2

Inside the lid are four compartments. In the back there is a long thin cubby that PERFECTLY holds terrain tiles on their sides. Having the tiles sitting on their sides makes them very easy to search through to find the one that you are missing for your scenario. The top compartment can also hold four card boxes and all of the manuals pretty easily. From this front view with the doors open you can see how the clear plastic boxes slide into the main case at a slight backwards angle. This prevents the inner boxes from wanting to slide out. On the right are two smaller boxes that we use for chits and airplanes.

Tackle Box View 3

Here is a picture of the boxes that slide into the main front compartment. The one on the left is the thinner one. It works perfectly for figures. The one of the right fits on top in the main compartment. It is thicker that the other three boxes. This one is great for the larger Equipment Pack figures, dices, and larger chits.

Tackle Box View 4

On the back of the box is a pouch with elastic cords that can be tightened. This works great for holding the boards.

I think my only complaints with this tackle box are minor. One issue is that on one of the smaller clear plastic boxes one of the latches comes off sometimes. It is easily replaced but it is annoying. The side boxes on the top are also a tiny bit too small to hold the terrain tiles on end. It needs probably 1/4″ of height to fit them on end.

Overall I think this is a great product for holding all of our Memoir 44 components. It gets a resounding 9 out of 10 paws.

I got it from Amazon at this URL for $54.52. It is actually a bit more expensive now but still reasonable.

Session #8 – Daring Tale #5 – The Talons Of Lo-Peng

November 08, 2013 By: John Taber Category: Daring Tales Of Adventure News, Games

Ti-Lung - Talon Of Lo-Peng[Author's Note: This is the log for the 8th 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:

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

Ghosts Of The Past

After getting some coffee the Corp members head to the Metropolitan Museum to see why Trubee Davison, the curator, needs their help so early on a Sunday morning. When they arrive Trubee leads them into the Chinese Wing of the museum. There the group finds a police investigation in process. According the Trubee there was a break-in at the museum. The thieves not only took a jade artifact but also killed one of the museum security guards. After speaking briefly with a police detective Trubee asks the group to investigate the scene. Miles and Mike start by examining the body of the guard. The guard has been smashed in the head and right shoulder by something about the size of a basketball. At his side was his revolver with two shots discharged. Mike finds one shot in the wall and makes a supposition that the guard could have hit his attacker with the other shot. On the hand of the victim Miles finds a freshly burned scar. The scar is a Chinese character over three lightning bolts that converge together at the bottom. Miles makes a careful sketch of the symbol in a notebook. Next the group investigates the broken display case. Tommy takes the lead using his skills as a thief. Tommy discovers that the case was broken by a large object. Inside only a jade artifact is taken. Other valuables in the case have not been disturbed. The closest rear door appears to be the sign of entry. It is smashed open at the door jam with something spherical in shape around the size of a basketball. At this point Miles, Mike, and Johnny ask Trubee about the stolen item. Trubee takes them into his office and gives the trio a folder with details on the artifact. The details include a picture and a brief history. The item is piece of a jade pendent roughly 6″ across and 1″ thick. The piece shows part of a claw and scaled tail. Trubee explains that the artifact is from the first reign of the first emperor. Legend has it that the amulet is a dragon’s heart ripped from an evil dragon on orders of the Emperor. Of course Trubee believe this to be “poppycock”. Miles goes back to the case and detects the presence of an ancient magic. While the trio are inside Tommy looks for a street person who may have seen something. After some searching he finds a homeless man on the front porch of the museum. With a bribe of a hot dog and some coffee Tommy get the man to relax and open up. The man explains that he saw three men break in through the back door late last night. One man was really huge and was carrying a large stick. He was wearing a “sheet” and had a large tattoo of a lion on his shoulder. The other two men where smaller and were wearing “pajamas”. As Miles is not an expert on Chinese symbolism the group decides to head over to a friend of Mike’s to get some advice.

Mike’s friend from the army, PFC Eddie Chang, owns a Chinese restaurant known as The Golden Bowl. After knocking on the back door Eddie emerges. To the surprise of the Corp he tells them that trouble follows Mike like a shadow and wants them to leave. After some convincing Eddie ushers them into the empty dining room and takes a seat. The group shows him the symbol from the notebook. Eddie says the symbol is that of an ancient Chinese figure called Lo-Peng. Lo-Peng is a sort of Chinese bogeyman that is used to scare kids into being good. The symbol means literally, “He who lives forever.” He does not know what the lightning bolts mean except that they are referred to as “Lo-Peng’s talons”. As he hands back the picture it floats out of his hand then erupts in green flame and smoke. In the smoke the group can vaguely see two green eyes! As soon as the eyes dissipate, ghostly Chinese warriors emerge from the floor and start attacking! Eddie and Johnny jump for cover while the rest of the group goes into combat. Quickly the group finds that the ghostly warriors are nearly immune to normal weapons and are only barely affected by Mile’s deadly spells! As Tommy tries to move Eddie to safety he yells to Mike that the Spirit Warriors are only affected by bamboo. With that advice Johnny grabs a bamboo display and throws sticks to Mike and Miles. Tommy starts throwing chopsticks at the Spirit Warriors to deadly effect. Mike starts using two sticks in a pounding flurry! Once they are all dispelled Miles reaches out with his mystical senses. He discovers that the Spirit Warriors were summoned and quickly looks out the front door. On the street he spots a Chinese man in a black trench coat moving quickly away from The Golden Bowl. He alerts the group and races off in pursuit. Johnny quickly gains the lead and chases the man over an alley fence where he sees him enter a martial arts dojo.

HEE-YA!

Inside the dojo the man running from the restaurant appears to be reporting to a huge bald man and a group of martial art practitioners. The bald man is wearing a toga like tunic, is carrying a huge club with a large metal ball on the end, and is sporting a tattoo of a lion! He must be the killer! With that Tommy enters the dojo and asks the men to surrender. The large man says something in Chinese then they all move in to attack. Tommy jumps up onto a shelf over the office, Johnny lets loose with a pellet fire blast, Miles cuts loose with lightning bolts, and Mike rushes in with brass knuckles! The large man takes some swings but luckily does not catch Mike squarely. Realizing that the large man is his better he pulls his pistols and opens fire. The big man known as Ti-Lung takes the shots but is a bit taken aback. He then casts a spell that raises stone armor around his torso and laughs deeply! Mike continues to fire but it is not having much effect now! While up close Mike notices a scroll case on Ti-Lung’s waist. He yells to Tommy to grab it. Johnny lights the building on fire but goes down when several martial artists group up on him. In the back of the room Tommy spots some fireworks. He jumps down, grabs the scroll, then tells Miles to shoot the boxes. When a lighting bolt hits the boxes of fireworks they go up in a huge explosion of flame and light! Martial artists and Ti-Lung fitfully try to dive-for-cover! The members of Tesla’s Power Core grab Johnny and beat a hasty retreat.

Behind The Buddha

The scrolls from Ti-Lung says the following:
I have located two of three parts to an ancient artifact known as the Jade Heart. With it I will be able to return to my former glory. One piece is located in the New York Metropolitan Museum. Another piece of the Jade Heart rests near the Buddha Of Bamyan. Shen-Lung will be attempting to obtain that piece. It is imperative that you, my powerful Earth Talon, recover the fragment in New York. Once you have the item I will contact you for its delivery.

With that the group decides to head to the Buddha Of Bamyan which are near Kabul in Afghanistan. After a flight to the area Miles rents a jeep and hire a guide. The group then proceeds to the Buddha. Along the way they enter a small village that is holding a kite flying contest. The say hello then carry on to the site.

At the site they find three stone Buddha which are roughly 30 feet in height. After doing some magical detecting Miles says to look behind the head of the center Buddha. With that Tommy climbs up to take a look. Behind the head he finds a small tunnel. At the end of a short shaft the young thief spies a wondrous room full of wooden planks suspended on chains. At the far side of the room is a golden chest…

The remaining talons of Lo-Peng lead the way for the deadly immoral emperor to restore his lost power. Can the heroic members of Tesla’s Power Corp stop him?!? Stay tuned and find out!!!