Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another big announcement from Reaper Minis

For those of you who like to game with miniatures, but do not necessarily care to spend hours painting them, this might be of interest to you.

>>>> Official announcement from Reaper's web site <<<<<<

Reaper Miniatures is proud to announce the creation of a new miniatures company: Asylum Miniatures.

Asylum Miniatures is an independent company wholly owned by Reaper focused on the creation of pre-painted miniatures, games, and associated products.

Under its own banner, Asylum Miniatures will launch with and supply the Reaper Miniatures pre-painted plastic line Legendary Encounters™. Asylum Miniatures will also pursue the development of products and lines outside of the Reaper Miniatures core brands.

Offered in an open, non-blind, non-random format, Legendary Encounters™ pre-painted plastic miniatures will be packaged in Asylum Miniatures blister cards. Both single and multiple piece packs will be offered.

Asylum Miniatures will continue to draw upon Reaper's vast miniatures catalog of thousands of metal models to expand the Legendary Encounters™ miniature line.

From Ed Pugh (CEO of Reaper Miniatures): "This new company solves several problems Reaper has been facing concerning the creation, marketing, and brand awareness of our pre-painted products. Allowing Asylum Miniatures to operate independently of Reaper Miniatures will give management much more flexibility to create, market, and supply pre-painted miniatures, games, and products."

Asylum Miniatures -- what you need, when you need it!

Reaper Miniatures is a worldwide leader in the design and casting of metal science fiction and fantasy miniature figurines. Based in Denton, Texas, Reaper products are available in fine hobby shops around the world.

For more information about Reaper Miniatures, visit the Reaper Miniatures website at

>>>> END QUOTES <<<<<<

I'm hoping that this will mean lots more new releases to add to the existing range of models we've seen in the Legendary Encounters™ line. Specifically, I'm hoping for MORE pre-painted orky goodness to further my plot of world domination...but that'll be our little secret.

Also drop by Reaper's store to get the freshly released (yesterday, as a matter of fact) Warlord 2nd Edition. I think you'll like it too.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A bit of half-orc nostalgia

"I've been a half-orc almost as long as I can remember."

I started playing D&D during the reign of 2nd edition, and of course there were no half-orcs in 2nd edition, not even in the Monstrous Manual as I recall it. So I had to bide my time playing halfling thieves and human barbarian fighters and yes..even an elf wizard. It's all true. I have the dog-eared character sheets to prove it.

Of course 3e came along and with it came my favored race. I mean, what's not to like about being a half-orc. You get a minus to your INT and CHA scores right away.... okay fine.. so maybe that's a bad example..but you get Darkvision, right? do all the other non-human humanoids..but hey, you get Orc Blood. But wait..that's not a good thing either. Wow, being a half-orc kinda sucks...except for the STR bonus. Now that I put it down in those terms, I wonder why all those disenfranchised half-orc players got so vocal when they had to wait a few extra months for their 4e 2nd Player Guide to come along so they could get their game back on. Being a Dragonborn ought to be so much cooler, right?

So..let's have a look at a 4e half-orc, shall we?

I've been following a PbP 4e game on the Reaper forum because 1) I don't want to be counted among the OSR pundits who hate the game but have never really played or even watched it being played and 2) the DM and players are all excellent roleplayers and writers and it should be an entertaining story to read.

I personally don't own any 4e books, but might download the quickstart to get a better perspective on what's going on in the PbP. Anyway, here's the character stats for Kaanite the 1st Level Half Orc Two-Weapon-Fightin' Ranger who just so happened to have once been a cat burglar.
Str 20, Con 14, Dex 19, Int 14, Wis 17, Cha 13.

Str 18, Con 14, Dex 17, Int 14, Wis 17, Cha 13.
Huh? None of his scores even went down...and he gained DEX...and he has 31 HP starting out?!

And get a look at this!
Dungeoneering +8, Acrobatics +9, Perception +8, Athletics +11, Stealth +9, Thievery +10 (+12 w/ Thieves tools)
Acrobatics and Stealth? NO WAY! This guy's TOTALLY UBER! And I say that with the utmost respect for the player (Hi there, Orcsoul) and with no disrespect toward the game. If it works for you and it makes you happy, then go play.

WHIIIIICH brings me slowly round to the point that I alluded to earlier. Early in this blog's archives, somebody corrected me on my assumption that there were no half-orcs before 3e. I had always assumed that it was the not the way of any reasonable game company to giveth and then to taketh away.

Once I joined the old-school, I really had no good reason to look through the AD&D Players Handbook. I was content to play my homebrew-hafforc and call it good, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to have a look at a 1st edition half-orc for nostalgia's sake. I've made a few observations.

It's a man's world

And by "man" I mean huMAN. Every other race (including half-orcs) has a glass-ceiling in the form of level limits. These limits are based on class of course, but even among the non-human-humanoids, half-orcs get the shaft. A half-orc Cleric can only advance to 4th level...a Thief only to 8th..provided his/her DEX isn't less than 17, in which case he'll get stuck at 6th. The only class that favors half-orcs, the Fighter, limits them to 10th..which is higher than fighters of other races...except humans, of course. THEY can do ANYTHING...pth.

And it's a MAN'S world

By "man" I mean hi-honey-I'm-home-what's-for-dinner-I-wear-the-pants-in-this-household....that kind of man. On the Race Ability Score Minimums/Maximums, it was for some reason necessary to break those scores out by male and female. As you might have guessed, humans are excluded from this table because...well..they're human. They don't have limitations. Also you probably guessed it... almost all women are an average of 1.6 points of STR below their male counterparts. I suppose as a self-liberated woman, I should at least be thankful that the gender difference is limited to STR. Even Gygax "knew better than to go there." Interestingly enough, the only race to NOT have weaker women-folk was the half-orcs. Yep, it kinda makes a girl proud. :D

It ain't no world for a half-orc girl, that's for sure
Orcs are fecund and create many cross-breeds, most of the offspring of
such being typically orcish. However, some one-tenth of orc-human
mongrels ore sufficiently non-orcish to pass for human. Complete details
of orcs and crossbreeds will be found under the heading Orc in
As it is assumed that player characters which are of half-orc race are
within the superior lo%, they have certain advantages
The description for Half-Elves is nothing like this. I mean, far be it from me to play a race-card, but this particular description about percentages and racial purity sound a lot less like the world of Tolkien and a bit more like the world of Alabama in the 1920s. Yeah I know it's only a game..a fantasy game at that, but in my opinion, D&D has certainly evolved in the right direction as far as sensitivity to race and gender are concerned.


So, now I have actually defended 4e and then spoke disparagingly of 1e. I can almost imagine the angry mob gathering outside now with their torches and pitchforks and descending ACs to roast me on a spit.

On the other hand, I've had fun looking at a bit of D&D history.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

RPG off-season and how to feed the need

Due to various family circumstances, friends taking vacations, work schedule conflicts and whatnot, it has been almost two months since our group has played any of our ongoing RPG campaigns. We've met a time or two since then, but for other games, one of which is still in closed beta.

Which brings me with unusual swiftness right to the point.

What do you do when you, for whatever reason, can't get a game on?

In the past, I've fallen back on play-by-post online web forum games. Providing the players are all enthusiastic and share a common style of play (be it narrative, hack-and-slay, or even the much discussed "roll-play" attitude), these games can be a great outlet to sate the unrequited need for high adventure. But often these games fizzle because one or more players or even the game-master loses interest. Granted the same thing can happen with a face-to-face group, but the yawning and fidgeting usually cues you in. A PbP can sometimes lag for days or even weeks even if all players are still eager to continue. Eventually somebody will post "Are we still playing" in order to snap the game out of its slumber.

Of late though, PbP gaming has lost its popularity to more flashy graphics multi-player games (not naming names here) that grant the player instant gratification and in spite of all those jokes about MMRPG online gamers having teeny spans of attention, they still manage to be able to play for hours. That being the case, there's always somebody online to game with, even at 4 AM on a Tuesday. I may not speak on behalf of all traditional gamers, but I just can't keep an RPG session going that long or start one that late, even with stockpiles of Mountain Dew and triple-fudge brownies. Besides, my relic of a PC probably can't handle the software...and yeah, my OSR friends would revoke my membership card and glow-in-the-dark secret decoder ring.

And then there's the real-time online option. Depending on how sophisticated you and your buddies' computers and internet connections are, there are programs out there that can provide you with a virtual gametable map and virtual dice. For the rest of us who aren't quite so well-equipped or technologically savvy, there's still the opportunity to run a game in any ordinary chat application. Of course the beauty of that plan falls apart when one or more of your players is a slow typist or worse yet, completey incoherent in chat rooms.


So..for the past weeks I've been filling my usual gaming time with miniature painting and a good deal of blog reading. But I just can't bring myself to post on a regular basis about playing the games I love when I've not actually played lately. But I do want you, the Esteemed Reader, to know that I've not lost interest, nor have any of the guys in our group. We've just been busy. Life does that to a person from time to time.

With the real promise that regular game nights will resume at the end of this month, I am thinking it is time to once again prepare for that little one-off adventure I blogged about a few months ago. It'll do me good to get out the books again and shake some of the dust off of my imagination. It's been rather underworked lately.

Until my next blog ... sooner or later...hopefully.... I wish y'all happy gaming.