Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Strange Aeons: Got Shocking Tales #3!

GUSH Alert: just a fast update that I received my copy of Strange Aeons Shocking Tales #3 in the mail... it's AWESOME! A stout magazine and super cool Zener psychic cards are packaged together.

I hope to take this out for a spin this weekend and report back. Pete, consider yourself served. This even gave me an excuse to order more minis (won't say which, no spoilers here.)

Happy Halloween and thanks Uncle Mike, et al.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Strange Aeons WIP: Ghouls

Apparently the best time to catch up on painting is during the biggest hurricane/storm cell to hit the Eastern seaboard of the United States. We've been rocking and rolling all day and the worst is due in between now (8:39PM Eastern) and 2AM Eastern. We are in the eye of the storm right now, I think.The lights are flickering so we'll see how long we have before we go to flashlights but that is an easy tradeoff considering millions are without power.

Anyway, here is a WIP shot of some GW ghouls, intended for Strange Aeons. I knocked out most of the painting for this group today, needs some detailing and smoothing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Strange Aeons: Fiction Interlude

The Threshold Archive sub-basement office was almost entirely yellow light. The quality was of goldenrod parchment and even the dust motes that hung in the air seemed to have their own ancient pallor, like moons bathing in corona. Snaking piles of paper and book stacks grew like musty stalagmites from the floor, leaving a well-worn goat path from the door to the right of the file cabinets, to the left of the desk and then straight on to the window just below the ceiling. In the center of it all was Dr. Ocation, as old and dry as the room he ruled, his archive a collective shrive of a world which people must not know.

Petri looked over a crop of papers that had book spines jutting out at intervals like vertebrae, up the column of tinder. He was flicking the stack with his fingertips, seeing that they were dated older than his great grandfather… and that was just the document at the top of the chest-high assemblage.

No human would stack books like this and never knock them down, over what seemed like more than 100 years of shoddy storage, though that couldn’t be. The Threshold was younger than this. He rubbed his hand on his pants.

“Which pile in these archives has the Declaration of Independence, doctor?”
“Agent Petri, this office only contains original, meritorious documents. Not falsified writs of Freemasonry. And this is one archive, not two. Archive-ah! Archivezzzz-ah! Which pile in this archive-ah has the Degradation of Subservience?”

Dr. Ocation glided around the stack leaning over his desk and handed Petri a cracked brown leather dossier which opened to reveal pages upon pages of Italian text and hand-drawn maps. The letterhead was the Vatican sigil. Petri sighed, but then held his breath right away as the dust danced along the path of his exhalation, like dolphins in a bow wake. He remitted the cough he owed.

“Agent Petri, in there you will read everything that you need to know about what Agent Connery took from that Dagonite church weeks ago and maybe, just perhaps… why he hasn’t returned yet? I trust you haven’t forgotten your native tongue?”

Petri raised his brow in mock alarm, though he knew better. “Doc, why is it whenever you hear from some far-flung cousin of yours about some deep hole in the Earth they’ve uncovered you call me and Connery?”

Ocation flicked a crooked index finger at Petri and mouthed, “R-E-A-D”.

Agent Petri coughed again, unbuttoned his trench coat and balanced his lucky hat on the pile which seemed least likely to crush him if toppled. He scanned the first page and stopped suddenly, reading over the sentence that froze him in his verbal tracks. Looking up, Petri matched Ocation’s watery gaze. “I called you because I always call your group and Connery always answers. Of the things you both experienced of late, Connery initiated on his own accord, as is his right as a field agent. But…” A cloud passed outside, flooding the floor with deepening blue-grey shadows like cave pools, as if the room was slowly sinking in dark water.

“Petri, do not take lightly what you hold in your hand. If you want to save Connery from what he has done then you better be a quick student. Pack your bag. You are going to Nepal.”

Petri couldn’t stop reading as Ocation spoke, and he protested dreamily as if his heart was not in the exchange, “Just like that, huh? But doc, I gotta find Connery. We have to link up about this god damned cult of yours. It’s turning up everywhere.”

Dr. Ocation was floating up from his desk towards the ceiling, his now-smoky form transparent, a daguerreotype in a colorfully-painted gallery. As the doctor faded into the gloom of the office, Petri stood up and put his lucky fedora back on. Dr. Ocation’s voice came to him as a diminishing whisper, “My boy, Connery is in Nepal. And as you said, they are everywhere…. ”

Petri stood in the dark room for a few minutes, digesting what the doctor had said. He turned and picked his way through the piles, closed the oaken door with a glun-dunk and struck it with an ornate lead padlock.  He pocketed the keys spinning on his finger, gunslinger style. The junior agent tried and failed to catch Petri’s gaze and said, “Well boss? What did ol’ spooky give you?”

Petri tucked the dossier under his arm, then nudged his charge down the hallway.

“Squid-bait, Dr. Ocation didn’t give me anything. He gave Connery a second chance, that’s what. Let’s pack, we’ve a boat to catch.”

Next: Shipping Up to Boston (WAY-AYE-OOH)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Strange Aeons: Threshold Ahoy!

 This week I picked up probably the most fun kit I've "tackled" in awhile... a waterline rowboat from Hamm River models.

I got this boat for a 4'x4' terrain board I had built that has a jetty/dock and shoreline. Seems appropriate to have some Threshold agents set up in a boat if the ocean is their deployment zone. At very least, I'll use it to dress the scene the right way.

I picked up the Hamm River rowboat on Ebay for US$8.00 plus shipping, total US$10, not a bad deal at all for what you get. It was well-packed in a padded envelope, arrived on time and minimal assembly/paint is required. There are 3 styles of rowboat available (collect 'em all!)

It is a one-piece, open-mold resin hull with what looks like laser-etched balsa oars. Thwarts for the inside of the boat are plastic sprue. I simply cleaned the mold lines at the bottom of the boat and spray-primed everything white. Use a sharp Xacto to trim the wood sprue away from the oars... CAREFULLY.

I did two coats of Citadel Graveyard Earth inside the boat, brushing the same direction each coat. I painted the thwarts separately in a  faux wood style by using a  ragged, long-haired flat brush, having backbrushed the wet paint (one coat) into stripes, like the grain of wood planks. After they dried I trimmed them and glued them down, checking the clearance of 2x2" bases in the boat. Perfect!

The hull was just a wash of flow enhancer and Sage Green craft paint over the primer, dried on wax paper. The dried, pooled green paint on the bottom even looks good as a battered hull.

From unpackaging to finish and placement on the table it was probably an hour of effort, if that and the boat holds two 28mm figs perfectly.

I give the kit an A for any Strange Aeons players who want a solid waterline boat for their games. I'll probably pick up more for no other reason than how much fun they are to put together. I also want to get their $25 # 270 Freight pack, which has 60 pieces... that's a fantastic deal.You can get most of these items on Ebay from what I've seen.

My suggested boat rules for Strange Aeons:

Row Boat

Capacity: 2 standard-based (2") Human/Humanoid models. One model may roll vs Dexterity to row, each Action. If passed, move boat that model's full Movement distance. If failed, go half Movement speed. I'd give it Constitution 7 and 3 wounds before it sinks. Swimming models use an action to swim half Movement and water gives a 6+ save for concealed silhouette. Boat grants 6+ cover save to models in the boat (even on land!) All embarked models count weapons as Ready when boat is in water.

There are many ideas to consider for boats in Strange Aeons: Fighting amphibious models in water next to the boat, capsizing, weather/tide, fighting in the boat! Have fun with it and share any ideas you have!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Strange Aeons: Game 3, "Left Holding the Bag"

This is the third battle report for a Strange Aeons campaign that I played with my group. This was a 16BP start on both sides, with my team still sore from the last game that saw civilian William Forsythe die to a Night Gaunt and Agent Connery developing Ballistophobia. Agent Petri lost his tommygun to the Night Gaunt via Destroy Weapon. Still with a Map Piece, the team looks to stay on the cooling trail of  the Church of Dagon, gain some XP and skills though they aren’t sure if they are the hunters or the hunted…
The mission was “The Bagman” with me going first as Threshold, who had to exit the far corner of the graveyard with the secret carrier, "Monk" McGuinn, surviving to get perks. We used a 2’x2’ terrain board I had built a long time ago that has a graveyard, stream with humpback bridge, ruined Church and catacombs below. There were no special rules here, just standard rules for difficult/impassible terrain and the usual cover modifiers. The entire footprint of the ruined Church was half-movement Difficult Terrain and the water half movement no cover save. Everything else is WYSIWYG. The condensed results are the picture captions and there are more pics of the terrain board at the end of the thread.  
Threshold and terrain board built/painted by Yeti, Lurkers built/painted by Pete Ceretti.
16 BP Threshold & Lurker Lists

Yeti: Threshold (rebooted from last game’s loss):
Agent Connery (Character, Command, Heroic, Two Fisted, twin .45’s, Bowie Knife, Ballistophobia)
Agent Petri (Heroic, Tommy gun, .45, Bowie Knife)
Civilian “Monk” McGuinn (.22 and knife). Additionally, Monk is carrying the bag in this scenario.

Pete:  Lurkers List
Cult Leader (.45 and knife)
Cultist (knife)
Cultist (Shotgun)

Lurkers deploy in the graveyard across from the church, advancing in a picket and listening for the burglers they knew were there...

Connery swept his flashlight across the murky dark of the catacomb. The wet yet warm smell of damp minerals rose to head-height, the heady aroma of loamy grit in the air and something else, like old cinnamon and grease… the team seemed to wade through the vapor more than walk through it. “Monk” McGuinn, the town’s professional antiquarian they had drafted this morning, stood before one of many alcoves and shifted feet as he held the grotesque ceramic urn in his large, professional hands. His grip trembled in the dank chamber and the moving flashlight beams silhouetted the group crazily, like a mob of photographers flashing away in slow motion. He looked at Connery and cleared his throat. “This is… extraordinary. Just magnificent. If Dr. Forsythe was here, he’d of course be happy to see this… the glyphs are… unprecedented but authentically real and the fetish stored inside is... amazing.”

 Connery lifted his foot from a stagnant pool of water on the catacomb floor and shaking it out, unleashed his annoyance of… well, everything over the last 36 hours, through his retort, “I don’t think ‘happy’ is the word he would have used to describe that thing. And he’s dead, as sure as we’ll be if we don’t step on it. Secure the piece and let’s get going. We have little time before the owners come home.” He ignored the extra splashes he thought he heard and how the reflected flashlight seemed to show wriggling in the black pool.

Threshold advance up and out of the catacombs with the stolen relic.
“Correction. We’re out of time Connery,” said Agent Petri, who stood in the greenish light at the bottom of the passageway, looking at the daylight above, “I hear voices.” Connery imagined Petri’s ruined half face watching the stairwell, the mass of scars from the Night Gaunt still suppurating and salving as it tried to heal. That face resembled the craggy natural rock formations of this tomb which they had discovered. Unlike Petri, who wore his good heart on his sleeve, this place was evil and it strained to keep its secrets out of the light of their torches. Connery learned long ago, the hard way, that like people, the earth can be good or bad. This earth was god damned devilish and he was happy to leave, silently promising it a return visit from Petri with a cask of blasting powder for the troubles.

“Tick-tock boss, gotta go.” Petri started up the cavernous stairwell, not checking to see if they followed him up, the tunnel amplifying and hopefully transforming the distant voices he heard into what sounded like strange croaks and barks.

A shotgun wielding Cultist and Hybrid cross the road and make for the Church entrance.

 When they reached the surface, they were back in what had been a garden path set into the foot of the cliff face. They had entered the ruins of the Church from the other side through holes in the cracked foundation, into a debris clogged cellar and down the crypt stairwell. Connery signaled Petri to cross the old cellar and gain the first floor above them, to help McGuinn and guard the high ground. If anybody was around, they’d have to make a racket to get to them or come through the doorway of the Church, which smiled, open, like a jack o’ lantern's missing tooth. He spun suddenly as he thought he heard a shuffle in the back of the chamber. He wasn’t sure they were alone. He noticed Petri staring back past him too, flashlight steady and .45 ready.

Only a day before, Connery, Petri and young Forsythe had flushed the Dagonite Cultists from their now-ruined lair in the suburb West of town, pursuing them East out to a farmstead known for bootlegging and human trafficking. What they hadn’t expected in their haste to run the cult leader to ground was the damned Night Gaunt, whose horrifically slender frame housed the terrible power and great silence which accompanied a murderous rampage. It is possible the creature was only delayed in fully materializing by the Threshold’s interruption of the Church’s rites before yesterday, only delaying the complete summoning of the beast that darted through the pine trees into their midst, a dim shadow of murder that left Forsythe dead and the desperate agents evading the pursuing cultists all night long. Connery and Petri probably survived because the beast was then considered pre-emergent. 

Now they were adrift, midweek, a day ahead of a monstrous daemon and a day behind the criminals that summoned it.

2 Cultists hear the Threshold team clattering through the open cellar so they flank around while the Hybrids and Cult Leader watch the front door... The Threshold are trapped!
Petri looked back at Connery and whispered, “This doorway funnels us too, boss.” Connery had moved them towards the door anyway and nodded, his .45’s out. He felt something… something like electricity in his fillings or cold air in his sinuses. His pistols felt heavier, less reassuring and something troubled him at the thought of how loud they will be… too loud. The voices were getting closer. Crouching among the fallen walls and timbers he peered down the great stairs of the Church, across the courtyard and the nearby road to the graveyard beyond. Risking a longer gaze, he counted. Several purple robed cultists and 2 brutish, ugly men with a pallor he didn’t like. His palms sweated. Were the ugly men civilians? Why did they look familiar? Were they in a dossier he has seen before? Or on a distant street? He was thinking too much about their squashed muzzles and the too-round orbitals.

A Hybrid sniffs the air, croaks and waits as footsteps come down the stairway...
McGuinn hugged the swaddled ceremonial vase like an ancient sleeping toddler, his bug-eyes peering over the bundle as he tread through the moldering cellar’s debris. Connery urged him towards the doorway above as Petri, already on the first floor over them, offered an arm up. Connery held the vase as McGuinn flailed his way over, via an avalanche of mortar, dust and flooring.

Voices. Shouts. Footsteps. They were made.

The Threshold see they are surrounded and prepare to make a break for it. Connery orders McGuinn down the front stairway first and says, "Run for the car across the graveyard when I start firing." This was a critical blunder on the part of the Threshold. Yeti had meant to have Connery go down and out first, to start shooting Lurkers out of McGuinn's way but due to Command, Connery sent McGuinn down the stairwell first, followed by Connery. There was not enough space for bases to pass each other. McGuinn would have to run the gauntlet outside first with Connery hopefully killing intercepting Hybrids and Cultists after the rabbit ran, with three sets of pistol shots, due to Heroic.
The second Hybrid stalks the doorway...

McGuinn tears out of the doorway. Connery fails both of his tests to shoot due to Ballistophobia. McGuinn is charged by the one-legged Hybrid but McGuinn guts him instead! The other Hybrid fails his check from seeing his brood brother killed and suffers Stupification. The Cultist with knife on right side of doorway Frenzies and attacks Connery. Agent Petri and the Cultist with a shotgun open up on each other, sending spall and wickering debris into the air.

Hybrid #2 recovers from Stupification and attacks McGuinn, who then lands a clumsy but effective knife jab into the hybrid's neck. The hybrid collapses in a welter of black blood as he paws at the swaddled vase containing the apocryphal architeuthis tooth, which the hybrid dies saying that fast three times. Agent Petri trades shots with the cultist on the side of the house, cover saving both men from grievous gunshot wounds.
The Cult leader smiles beneath his silk hood as he pumps a critical pistol shot through Forsythe's waistcoat, for a Major Injury and KO. The Cult Leader picks up the tooth in front of Connery. Connery stabs the screeching cultist to death in the doorway with a wet thud. As the dead cultist slumps down the wall, Connery trains both .45's on the Cult Leader from the doorway as a last ditch effort to save the game. If the Cult Leader survives Connery's fire he can use both moves to get almost off the board for the win. But Ballistophobia strikes again and Agent Connery hesitates, overcome by panic and fear and fails all attempts at shooting his pistols. The Cult Leader smirks and backs away as shots spak against the doorway, covering fire from the remaining Cultist. Connery decides not to pursue, since the other cultist has now moved to block Connery from pursuing and has him zeroed. Agent Petri fires on the Cult Leader from the side of the ruins, hitting him with a crit hit but he fails to wound. The day is lost to the Lurkers and the Cult Leader escapes with his artifact.
 Agent Connery looked in the rear view mirror as a bloom of fire and smoke geysered up from the front of yet another church. Debris pattered on the roof of his speeding car, one which he had hidden nearby. He didn’t see if Petri made it out but the resourceful Italian obviously had time to tripwire the Dagonite’s car; once a Mob man, always a Mob man. Connery had faith he’d see him at the safe house tonight. McGuinn was still back there, sprawled out on the overgrown lawn of the church entrance piled with those strange, dead... men? And also left holding the empty bag they had fled with, a feint. It would have have been great to bring that cursed vase and retched squid tooth back to HQ for study but as things were, plans change, sometimes on the fly, and sometimes, like now, it was for the better. Hopefully, it would take the Dagon cultists awhile before they realized that the relic they just rescued from McGuinn wasn’t the only thing taken from the alcoves of their unholy crypt, the death of the antiquarian a currency in the purchase of time via an elaborate ruse. Connery would be back and next time things would be different. He patted his bulging pocket and wisps of grey-blue vapor puffed out of the mouth-like pocket, like a smoking monkey he once saw at a carnival. He laughed at that, a strained, more exasperated-than-merry chortle and imagined the Cult Leader, wide-eyed, throttled in Connery's bare hands. 

He drove East towards the safe house.“Next time... it will be different. Everything will be different.”