Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Check Quest: Progress 100%

Well that escalated quickly!

In fact it took little over 3 hours of me bumping the topic over at Board Game Geek to get a definitive answer. Which is awesome news! Better yet there was an on-line campaign a few years past now to pull these books out of obscurity so it would seem (I however missed it).

But after all this, what book was it!?

The book in question has been successfully identified by Tom Scutt as Mini Adventure Comics #1: The Dungeons of Doom: The Master's First Challenge (quite a title given that the whole book was only A6 in size!).

Unfortunately however of all the books recovered by the campaign, this was not one of them. In fact outside of it's entry over at Demian's Gamebook Web Page it doesn't appear to have left a digital fingerprint.. Which is very odd as even typing in terms like Amish Robot will return Google searches.

So now I embark upon a new quest. Can I find an image of the book? Can I stretch the achievements of the previous project and pull this fine series of which I have many fond memories even further out of obscurity?.. Can I even find a copy! I sure hope so.

Check Quest: Progress 0%

Following up on my own personal quest and, the posts that I have dotted
around the net concerning it, consider this a *BUMP*.

Don't suppose anyone passing through has anything to add? I'd really love to find out what on earth the name of this book was.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Post 300!

So here we are, post 300! Another excuse to break out "Mr 300" and, another
milestone for the blog (of which there have been a few of late).

In the past couple of weeks we have not only reached 10,000 hits, but 10 followers and, now 300 posts. That's a lot of big numbers, which of course means big thanks to everyone who's give us a hit (we're averaging out at just under 500 a week, up significantly from our regular 200ish a week), we have a new follower which I hope means that we're reaching a wider audience, receiving more comments from a wide range of people which pretty much confirms that and, I am more driven of late to get more content up on a more regular basis.

This is all good news from where I'm sitting, as the best you can hope for as a blogger, blogging gratis, is that you'll be noticed.. Well noticed for the right reasons. :0).

So again, I thank all of you who have shared the journey to 300 post with me and I hope you'll all continue to stop on by. :0).

One Blog Enters And Two Blogs Leave

Image Property Of Monster-madness.com
The Rusty Battle Axe is in, Farlands Games and Alien Dungeon are out (of the
bloggish feed that is).

But why are they out?

Well I have a strong belief in ethical business and, despite earlier relations that were good, I have found the conduct of Farlands Games to be anything but. In fact they're being downright sly in their business practices and I have no desires to be tarred with the same brush. I could go into detail but I don't really think that this is the place.

With Alien Dungeon though, it's nothing personal. Well, not really. I don't like their pie in the sky pricing policy and, I don't like some of the folks that they work with but, that's their call. I just have no real interest in being kept in the loop anymore.

All this is a million miles away from what I normally blog about (I prefer to keep things positive where possible) but, none of this is news. Just me being less than active in trimming away the fat from my feed as I should have cut Farlands Games off months ago! It's done now though and my feed is all shiny again. :0).

Welcome: Ken Harrison

Following what I consider to be the great example set by Pulp Citizen, I would like to take the opportunity to welcome our latest follower, Ken Harrison.

It's a great feeling knowing that not only are people actually reading what you write but, that they have such an interest that they actually sign up! It's an amazing high and pretty much the highest compliment that you can pay any blogger. Ken signing up also pushes our followers into double-digits, so double-score!! :0).

Check out Ken's blog, The Rusty Battleaxe, here. It's a good read!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Geeks Do It Better #2: Comma-gain

On The Cards: Loot-O-Matic, But First An Intermission

Image Property Of Monster-madness.com
Well it looks like I have a new project on my hands with the Loot-O-Matic
series of posts, but before I get ahead of myself (as the weapons and armor tables promise to be a bit wee beasties) I thought I would stop and update you all on what I have in the pipeline for the blog.

Digital Dungeons: This feature will look at how dungeons in video-games stack up when you bring them to the tabletop. I'm still ironing out the details out on this one but I may go as far as converting several notable (to me at least) dungeons, getting them ready to run, before unleashing them upon my unsuspecting fellow gamers. ;0).

Geeks Do It Better: This one's already kicked off and the natural predecessor to DMotivational that has officially been retired (well, for now).

Going Solo: This is something that I have talked about more than once, as a lot of the gaming that I used to do used to be solitaire (it took a long time to find a local group and I was an only child). As a result of having time on my hands and solitaire / Co-Op games not being readily available, I got creative. I found ways of playing the games that I had and loved without another player. So taking the lessons and tricks that I learned as a child and teen I hope to make some of the other great games in my collection more accessible to other player that find themselves in the same boat as I was. 

Wandering Monster Stable: I gave a quick mention to this on the back end of my last Loot-O-Matic post. What I plan to do here is create a series of wandering monster tables that you can plug into any existing solitaire adventure that you happen to own, giving it a new lease of life. Each table will be themed to bring a different flavor to your adventure depending upon your particular tastes, with the first favoring one of my personal favorite classes of monster, the Undead!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Loot-O-Matic: Coins Of Different Kinds

Following on from my previous post where I set out to "fix" the 7.5 random treasure generator issue of spitting wealth at you like a broken ATM, I have got as far as tweaking the coinage. Here's what I have so far:

Money Table (2D6, DARO)
2-9: Iron (Worth 0.01SP each)
10-16: Steel (Worth 0.1SP each)
17-22: Copper (Worth 0.1SP each)
23-27: Orichalum (Worth 0.2SP each)
28-31: Bronze (Worth 0.5SP each)
32-34: Silver (Worth 1SP each)
35-36: Gold (Worth 10SP each)
37+: Mithril (Worth 100SP each)

When rolling for the amount of coins, roll 3D6, TARO.
All coins weigh 1WU each.

Anyone with the original 7.5 rulebook will notice that I have made some considerable changes. I have altered the value of the coins, how many coins you get, as well as removing some completely.

I like the idea of the monsters in Trollworld running under a seperate currency, so I kept the Iron and Steel pieces but the idea of Elven Silver and Trollish Gold seemed a little too specific to me. I was also at a loss as to why they were worth so much on the original table. What can you actually do to silver to increase its value by a factor of 50!? I've also recast the role of Orichalum, which is now the new "2 Copper Piece" instead of the extremely rare mythical metal of Atlantis. I just figured that with Mithril being available, do I really need another thin on the ground resource? Mithril's cool enough. :0).

At this point I should probably point out that whilst the treasure may seem to have gone from one extreme to another (bountiful to pitiful), this table and the one in my previous post were created with a method of treasure generation slightly different from the norm in mind.

Players now roll 1D6 for every 10 MR that their opponent had (or fraction of 10) and, any D6 that rolls within the monsters "range" allows one roll on the random treasure generator. So a MR 40 beastie might allow up to 4 rolls on the generator! (Possibly 5 if that were 41).

The only problem with the "range" idea is that beyond Buffalo Castle, I can't think of any solo that uses the range mechanic. Of course I could be wrong. Either way it's not a problem for three reasons:

1 - I plan to work my way through every solo I can lay my hands on and assign ranges, posting them up here.

2 - I also plan to create a generic list of all monsters commonly found in Trollworld; adding ranges; which should cover most of what I miss with point one.

3 - A new feature I'm working on called the Wandering Monster Stable will give you themed wandering monster tables; including ranges; that you can insert into any solo you already happen to own that uses the wandering monster mechanic. The idea being that you can season your solo's to taste. :0).


The Loot-O-Matic from Grimtooth Industries
Some people ponder the big questions. Why are we here? Where are we going?
What would happen if I taped a piece of toast to a cats back butter-side up and dropped it? Not me though, I'm pondering how my solitaire adventures through Trollworld compare to other peoples and, given a choice which random treasure generator would you use?

There are a lot of fine choices out there. From the bog standard generators that come with the rules (which we'll be focusing on in this post), on-line generators, generators from other systems that you can convert to Tunnels and Trolls, your own homebrew creations that best represent your own vision of Trollworld and, of course the fine generators that can be found in Elder Tunnels.

Personally given a choice between 5.5 and 7.5, I prefer the generator in the latter. Not that there's anything wrong with the 5.5 generator.. It's just not as interesting. It produces coins, jewels and, jeweled items. That's it!

7.5 however can produce all of that (in greater variation) plus weapons, armor, potions and, other magical bits and bobs. Which sounds great, in theory. The only problem is that it can go a bit (and for a bit, read WAY) overboard in the net worth of the treasure it dishes out, in one case handing a 1st level character a necklace worth in excess of 23,000... Yeah.. Just a "bit" overboard.

Other than it's Mad Hatter nature though, it's a good generator, so what to do? Enter homebrewing to fix an error that should have frankly been glaringly obvious from the word get go, the first table.

The first table in the 7.5 rulebook makes it just as likely that you'll roll jewels as coins, with a separate entry for jeweled items, meaning that it is now four times more likely that you'll find jewels of some description when compared to 5.5 and, twice as likely that you'll find jewels instead of coins.. Which common sense would tell you just isn't right.

My solution

Replace the first table in the book with the following one:

2-7: Money [See Money Table]
8-12: Weapon [See Weapon Table]
13-16: Armor [See Armor Table]
17-19: Jewels [See Jewels Table]
20-21: Jewelry [See Jewelery Table]
22+: Potion [See Potion Table]

Admittedly it's only a start but it I feel it goes a long way towards "fixing" the generator. Given time I will probably end up modifying all of the 7.5 tables along the same lines and, maybe introduce a few other McGuffins such as mundane items and a more robust et of tables for generating magical items.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Geeks Do It Better #1: It Starts.

Following on from the success of my now semi-retired (but still ever ready for action) feature, DMotivational, Geeks Do It Better will continue to wave the banner of Geek humor here on Alchemy hill. Minus the restrictive format of the demotivational poster... Which opens the door to a lot of new material, today's being lovingly purloined from the Being a Geek Farcebook page.

 So what do you think guys? Do we have a winner?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Race For The Galaxy: The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

I just got through playing my first game of Race For The Galaxy solo, and wow,
it's almost like the real thing! Often you find that when you play a game that was intended for group play solitaire, it just feels "wrong". Like it's lacking something. Which really wasn't the case here.

Furthermore, playing against the robot makes for a great challenge. Even with a considerable number of lucky draws, rolls and, being two cards ahead upon ending the game, I still lost! Only by two VP in fairness but, I had an amazing tableau. A set-up that if I'd achieved in a group game, I would have expected to win with.

Winning isn't everything though and, I do love a good challenge. The cards as they came out also tell an interesting story, detailing both the rise and fall of an empire.

The Cards

The Robot's Tableau: New Sparta, Contact Specialist, Aquatic Uplift World, Pirate World, Investment Credits, Damaged Alien Factory, Colony Ship, Alien Tech Institute, Alien Robot Sentry.

My Tableau: Alpha Centauri, Mining Robots, Runaway Robots, Exploration Force, New Earth, Mining Conglomerate, Imperium Armaments World, Galactic Survey: SETI, Export Duties, Improved Logistics, Gem World, Plague World.

What story do you see?
In the Robot's Tableau I see a world torn apart by war where the scientists fled to the stars to find a better way of life. On some distant ocean world they found a lost alien factory, that with their knowledge turned into a highly profitable venture. They could only gleam the surface technology but, it was more than enough to fund the colonisation of a new world. A world free of military oppression where the alien technology could both be studied and protect them.

In mine I see a group of mining prospectors trying their luck amongst the stars only to have their mining robots go rogue and flee. In order to limit the damage that they may cause as well as obviously trying to recover their expensive merchandise. Not being able to do this alone, they turn to private military contractors (possibly former military specialists from the fallen New Sparta) to aid them in the recovery process (capture the robots if possible, if not, destroy them).

Upon catching up with the robots they discover that far from going rogue, they had actually detected mineral deposits in another star system so rich that in accordance with their programing they had sought to mine them. This new world would become New Earth and would bring them great wealth. This new bounty would need defending however, so in return for the protection of their new mining conglomerate the mining corporation allowed the private security force that they had hired to use this new world as a base of operations, and as a cache for their black market arms. To hide the activities of this group various legitimate scientific projects were established, such as SETI, with which it was claimed many new world with potential mineral deposits could be found. Although the most likely reason for setting up a deep space radio relay station capable of long-distance communication is likely far more dubious.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

An Amazing Response

Only three days in and my own personal quest has sent the hit count for this blog skyward and, evoked an amazing response, attracting well over a hundred hits a day all by itself!

Unfortunately though the book still remains a mystery. So I'm stepping the campaign up a notch, inspired by the actions of a friend.

He asked me if I'd like him to post up a request and a link on a gaming forum he's a member of but that I'm not and, I jumped at the chance. The forum itself was for miniature gaming but given the potential cross-overs it seemed viable that someone might know something.

The more people I ask, the more likely I am to get my answer I figure, so I also posted the quest up at Board Game Geek and, RPG Geek, spreading my net even wider.. Could you help though?

Are you a member of a gaming forum that might be able to help? Do you have a blog and could spare a few column inches? If so, could you post up a link to the original post there and a link to your post there, here as a comment? A bit of an ask I know but it would REALLY help spread the word.

As you can tell, I'm REALLY REALLY determined to find this book again.

Nearly 500 More Hits!

Wow!.. Just Wow!!

It was only a week and a day ago that I sat here thanking you all for your support and, for helping this blog reach 10,000 hits.. And now I'm here doing it again.

The sheer volume of hits that this blog has received this week is nothing short of phenomenal, and it's sure put us a lot closer to 20,000, a lot faster than I could have possibly hoped for.

So again, a big thank you to all my supporters, readers, the guys that hit +1 and, the guys that comment. Without you all this blog would just be me barking at the dark.. And I do enough of that off-line. ;0).

Friday, 19 April 2013

DMotivational #49: This Was The Back-up Plan!?

Spontaneous Roleplay!

So I'm just pottering along, minding my own business, checking my messages, idly thumbing through the news when suddenly I am transported off to scrub land, Arizona.. And I'm a neurosurgeon. A burn out but, hey do I have a way with the ladies. It must be spontaneous roleplay. Probably the best sort.

It all kicked off a couple of days ago when sifting through my Facebook feed, I came across a post from the fine folks over at Peryton Publishing:

You're a small town Sheriff's department in Arizona. You hear from the homeless kook by the 7-11 that Hitler's brain is transported from a pharmaceutical lab in Albuquerque to a hospital in LA by a bike gang. Oddly, the bum has always been a good source of information. There is a sudden surge of calls about UFOs in your area.
What do you and the other players do?

After a couple of jokes I was soon caught up in the flow of the action and, I have to say that even from my limited experience of sitting on the players side of the table, that this will be a session that stays with me.. In a good way.

Check out this exert and, why not check out the Peryton Publishing Facebook page whilst you're at it?

Tom: Dr Vance (Tom) you go to speak with your med-tech, that operates your clinic's portable X-Ray machine. When you come back into the exam room, the boy is gone. You look out in the waiting area, and his aunt is in there reading a magazine, like she is waiting for him.

Me: I call out to my med-tech (let's call her Mary), "Hey Mary, where's the Brubaker boy? I left him here only a minute ago. Dammit! Did he come past you?"

Tom: Mary comes around the corner with the portable X-ray machine humming in front of her as she guides it.
"I thought he was in Exam A?"

Me: "Nope". Dr Vance takes a moment to ponder the situation and caress his fine jaw in an act of passive narcissism. "Well he must be here somewhere. Be a doll and take a look out front would you?" Doctor Vance then proceeds to check Exam A, suspecting that Billy is playing some silly prank or perhaps even playing hide and seek.

Tom: The boy isn't hiding behind the exam couch, nor in the small cabinets beneath the sink. (Draw a playing card, if it's within three from what I've drawn, its a successful saving roll on perception) 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

My Own Personal Quest: The Unknown Tome

The year was 1995 (I think) and a trade in the playground led me to the first gamebook I would call my own.. But for the life of me I can't remember what it was called.

It's odd because I can remember so much about the time at hand, even details of the book in question, but for the life of me, I can't recall it's name. Which is a bit of a problem.. Because I want to find it once more.

Which is where I am hoping you guys can come in. Can you help me name that book?

The door on the cover looked something like this, but ajar, as I recall.
From what I remember, the year was 1995 (so I have a rough time-frame for
it's publication) and, the book itself was about A6 in size, quite thin (only about 30-40 small paragraphs with a smattering of pictures) and, paperback (center-stapled). I also remember that the chatter on the playground at the time was that it had come out of a lucky bag.

Inside the book, I remember one key entry where you find a wooden table with a scroll, a bag of coins and, a key (I believe), and the scroll warned you to take only either the key or the coins. If you took both I think you fell in a river or something in the next entry and it was game over. I also vaguely recall the cover reminding me of the entry to Shadowgate castle. Well, retrospectively, as I hadn't played Shadowgate at the time. It was also certainly more cartoony in its style than Shadowgate.

I also VERY vaguely recall this book being numbered 1, so there where potentially a few in the series.. Maybe. That's a sketchy recall at best though.

As you can imagine, I am quite nostalgic about this one, so if you know anything, ANYTHING, I would love to hear from you.

DMotivational #48: For One Night Only, The Stars Are Right.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A Little Experiment On A Monumental Scale

It's taken a lot of re-reads and a fair bit of time but, I am finally in position
where I am not only looking forward to playing Race For The Galaxy solo but, I also feel fairly confident so without constantly referencing the rulebook.

Much of the confusion arose as a result of the sheer mass of symbols that the game uses to denote it's functions. It's like trying to read hieroglyphs without a Rosetta Stone to hand. Not easy. Not by a long shot. I'm past that now though (thankfully). I'll still keep the rulebook to hand but, I now feel that I can muster enough basic vocab to order a coffee in a galaxy far far away and not be served with a rusted tin bucket by mistake. ;0).

So with this new knowledge under my belt, something that I thought might be fun would be to build whole empires from my play reports (which I also plan on sharing). It's something that I have done before when playing Munchkin, creating some weird and wonderful delvers, so why wouldn't it work on a galactic scale?

Will the people favor trade, politics, diplomacy or, military might? Let the cards decide.

The only factor that the cards won't really determine is ownership of the empire in question as Race For The Galaxy doesn't really go anyway towards covering such matters. Still, having an instant power block to throw into games like Starfaring and New Khazan seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Just add alien lifeforms. ;0).

At The Table: Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower

After what seems like an extended lull, our game table has really seen a lot of action of late. Either that or, I have suddenly had a lot more free time for gaming.. Most likely a little of both. Which ever way I look at it though, to get back to leisure of gaming is nothing but a good thing.

Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower

After long term ownership and what I can only really describe as a fanboy-esque appreciation of it's predecessor I finally got around to breaking out the expansion yesterday and, WOW! Is this ever a horse of a different color.

The mass appeal of the original game I suspect and indeed, it's personal  appeal to me was the sheer speed and simplicity of play.. Which has gone right out of the window. In fact the whole dynamic of the game changes when you introduce the Wizard's Tower.

If I had to compare it, I would say that the original game is a lot about playing a 1st level Warrior. Things are straight forward. You hack, you slash and, more often than not, you prevail. Playing the expansion though is a lot more like playing an epic level magic-user straight after the fact. You have a lot more power (and BOY can you feel it) but, the challenges that the GM throws at you are a lot more life and death, with no clear path to victory.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that the original game would be more aptly named "Castle Don't Sweat It", a claim which I could never make of the expansion. The expansion really ramps up the difficulty level of the game, which isn't a bad thing. It makes victories a lot more meaningful and I always relish a challenge.

The only real downfall with this add-on is the sheer volume of rules it adds. Don't get me wrong, it's not a lot but, to go from what is realistically a casual level game suitable for the whole family to, a gamer level game with a virtually vertical learning curve is going to be a bit too much of a leap for a large chunk of the folks who invested in the original.

That aside though, speaking as a gamer who appreciates a challenge (and a fanboy of the original), I'd highly recommend adding this one to the collection. It's not an expensive buy in and, it's worth every penny.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Over 10,000 Hits!

Which is pretty amazing in anyone's books.. Okay, maybe not Google's or Amazon's or.. Well, let's just say I'm happy!

So, as ever a big thank you to everyone who has stopped by and ticked the counter along one, two or, a few. :0). Also keeping with the theme of 10's I hereby pledge (well sort of) to update the blog at least 10 times a month, with the sort of accounting for times when there is either nothing happening or life precludes me the time to put in timely updates.

See you all at 20,000. ;0).

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

At The Table: Adventures In Neopia / Flash Point / Pandemic / Power Grid

After commenting in my last post that as a gaming group, we've not really been doing much gaming, things have really exploded over the past few days.

Pandemic: A New Challenge

Despite being a new addition to games we play (along with all of the others in
this post to be fair), Pandemic has fast become a favorite at the games table. It's no surprise either, given that it has so much going for it. Easy to play, quick to learn, variable set-up and, a constant sense of challenge.

The challenge is the thing too. I have become quite tired of games where victory come all too easily and, have certainly set out to challenge myself more on the gaming front.. Which is probably why I have taken to Power Grid.

Power Grid

Building power plants and cities whilst investing in pipelines and raw materials
really doesn't sound like much of a game does it? Unless you're a telegraph pole enthusiast that is but, then again the theme of laying railway tracks isn't exactly riveting but, Ticket to Ride is a great game. So as long as you can put the theme aside, the immersion that this game can offer will likely bring you back time and time again.

The challenge level is just dandy too as you try to balance your finances over auctions, purchasing pipelines, cities and, natural resources. Although I could easily see that this game would bore the hind teeth off of a casual gamer, so this title certainly isn't for everyone.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue

On the complete flip-side of Power Grid, another game that is proving popular
at the table is Flash Point, which even at it's deepest level of complexity is still very welcoming to hardcore and casual gamers alike.

If I were to compare this game, I would most likely suggest that it is very similar to Castle Panic in feel as you play it (so no wonder I love it) and, an ideal addition to any group. Even groups that already own a copy of Castle Panic as despite the feel being very similar, the way the games play is worlds apart.

Adventures In Neopia

Last up at the table is one that was at my own personal gaming table only

It's not big, deep or, complicated but as regulars on the Neopets website, both the girlfriend and I have got a real kick out of this game. Even when I absolutely cheesed a victory. With 7 mini-games inside the main game, Adventures in Neopia is deeper than your standard roll and move.. But not by much. We had a giggle though. :0).

Would I recommend it? Yes, but despite it's simplicity, not for younger audiences as it does contain elements of gambling which I don't think is appropriate for children or young adults.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

One Update!? That Just Won't Do!

Only one update in March!? That just won't do.

I really hadn't realised how lapse I had become in updating this blog. That will change though. March was just a quiet month. Next to no gaming, not much in the way of games shopping and, not a lot happening on the development front either.

April has already blown this out of the water though.

We have a new game at the table, our Rolemaster roleplay is finally underway and, I have finally finished sifting through a folder full of incomplete projects, so there will be more from the workbench.

So I hope that you enjoyed the commercial break, and we welcome you back to the Alchemy show. ;0).