Aug 01 2013

Big Ol’ Art Post!

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While crunching away on everything else, I have managed to do a few bits of art in-between. And here they are! Because I love you.

Gneech Bizcard 2013 by ~the-gneech on deviantART

Finally, after however many years, I’ve got revised business cards on the way, with new avatar, the current websites, and a new funny bullet. ;)

Biggest Little Furcon 2014 Badge Submission by ~the-gneech on deviantART

Graveyard Greg asked me to do up a Ghostbusters-themed badge for BLFC. The theme is ’80s-tasticness in general, with emphasis on pink and purple, so I went with more of the “Real Ghostbusters” style than the movie guys. And of course, with a GB pic, I couldn’t resist a little self-insert. ;)

I have no idea who the wolf gal is, but she’s blonde and she’s got glam stars on her cheek– that’s ’80s enough for me!

Jenny Everywhere 2013 by ~the-gneech on deviantART

It’s almost time for Jenny Everywhere day, 2013! My submission this year has Jenny catching a ride on a handy airship! I decided to make her human, just to be different, using Nichelle Nichols as my inspiration.

If any woman ever deserved a steampunk fantasy action show of her own, it’s Nichelle Nichols!

If you’ve never heard about Jenny Everywhere, check her out:

-The Gneech

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Apr 01 2013

Savage Worlds: It Is What It Says On the Tin

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So I’ve got a few sessions of Savage Worlds under my belt, most notably using it for Ghostbusters, but also with two sessions’ worth of Coventry, and the time is coming for me to decide what I actually think of it– and more importantly, if I want to keep using it or not.

Savage Worlds does have a lot going for it. Because there’s no such thing as “balance,” GM prep is easy– I think up a thing, assign a few dice to it, and go. If I can’t decide what the value for a given Trait should be, I make it d6 and call it done. Because there’s no hit-point tracking and very little in the way of status effects, combat is always very fast. In a deliberate attempt to push the system’s limits (and see where they were), I came up with a couple of different scenarios that involved lots of NPCs on both sides, with the players controlling allies as the game recommends, and I have to say that the combat system worked like a well-oiled machine. The only times that wasn’t true were situations where I couldn’t remember the rules (or kept remembering them wrong).

On the other hand, for the same reason of there being no such thing as “balance,” it can be difficult to tweak a scenario for maximum enjoyment. Depending on how kind/cruel the dice are, and how well bennies get applied, any creature tougher than a goblin could potentially be a cakewalk or a TPK. In one instance, an NPC attacked a huge monster with a machine gun and all the NPC’s dice exploded, meaning she hit it with raises each time, rolling enormous amounts of damage. Even though the huge monster was a wildcard and had bennies of its own to spend, she still burned through ’em and killed the thing with one pull of the trigger.

In the same session, the PCs, by judicious use of bennies and a lot of crazy firepower, obliterated dozens of enemy forces, only to have one of their own number blown to a fine red spray by a machine gun fired from a helicopter. The game is just as it says on the tin: savage indeed.

This OMGdeadly nature of the game is not as big a deal in Ghostbusters— one of the campaign’s house rules is that if you get incapacitated, that just means your character is sent to the hospital in traction until the next session– but in a setting where character death is a real danger, it takes some getting used to. One of my players in particular loves to throw his character right into the middle of the biggest hornet’s nest he can find (which is why he went up against the helicopter with a machine gun), which is all well and good in a game like Pathfinder, where there’s probably a cleric around to pump him full of healing, but in Savage Worlds is an express ticket to Dirtnapville.

It also means that I have to come up with “more stuff” to put into any given scenario to keep the players from feeling like they haven’t had to work for their success. After handily chewing through two dozen guys, they’re not likely to find six guys a challenge, unless I crank up the skills of those six guys to 11 (which could tip the balance quickly into TPK). It’s very twitchy. Pathfinder and the like are pretty forgiving systems, with lots of wiggle room for players to get in over their head and back out again. Savage Worlds, not so much. Where PF says “fine, scratched, hurt, in danger, dead,” SW says “Fine, fine, dead.”

Another factor here is that the difficulty to shoot anyone is almost always 4. Difficulty to shoot a big, slow-moving goon? 4. Difficulty to shoot Spider-Man when he’s jumping all around? 4. There are modifiers for range and extreme size and so forth (and a few Edges at higher levels that give you some dodging bonuses), but any setting where most fighting is done with guns, you pretty much have to depend on cover to keep you alive. The problem, from a tabletop RPG standpoint, is that standing behind cover and plinking away at someone else behind cover, just isn’t much fun. Realistic? Probably. Is realistic always a good thing? Probably not.

All of this said… dayum, but prep is easy. I looooove that. So… tough call!

Players, what do you think?

-The Gneech

Dec 10 2012

Coventry: A Savage Worlds Campaign

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I’ve been making a few noises about this for a while now, but the Players Handbook for my new Savage Worlds campaign inspired by Borderlands is finally ready!

Coventry Players Guide for Savage Worlds, by The Gneech
(click through for PDF)

From the guide:

Coventry is a gung-ho adventure campaign somewhere between Mad Max and Cowboy Bebop, with a side of Escape From L.A. The year is 2766 and your characters all live on the quarantined prison world of Coventry, trying to make your way as best you can among the local monsters, the faction wars, the octane-sucking racing circuit, and of course the occasional insane robot. You might be a local, born and raised on Coventry, you might have been “dropped” here, or you might even have arrived here by accident due to a shipwreck or other mishap. However you came to be here, however, it’s all but impossible to leave.

The prison world of Coventry originally appeared in my Star Hero campaign in the early ’90s (Holy crap, was that really 20 years ago? O.o), and I’ve toyed with the idea of running a game there off and on many times since then, but it wasn’t until the Savage Worlds setting 50 Fathoms, combined with playing Borderlands 2, that a solid vision of how to make it work as a campaign finally gelled. By using the Savage Worlds “Plot Point” model, all I have to do is toss out a few hooks and let the players create the actual campaign, by fleshing out the ones they bite on.

Coventry as it appears here is a bit different from my initial conception in details, but much the same in spirit. I originally pictured it as a kind of “lost world” jungle setting with megafauna and people attempting to carve civilization out of it without help from the outside, but after playing Borderlands the idea of it being more like a dystopian “through the looking glass” world full to the brim with its own variety of Mad Hatters really appealed to me. This version is also in a separate continuity from my Star Hero game, not so much to avoid any clash with previous continuity (assuming any of could even remember the previous continuity), as just for stylistic reasons.

I’m thinking about trying to write up the setting for eventual publication as an officially-licensed Savage Worlds setting, but that will take time, development, and probably a Kickstarter campaign to finance some non-cribbed artwork. What I’ve got here is a draft/proof-of-concept more than anything else, but I’m pleased with it and I think the group will have fun with it.

…After we finish the current Ghostbusters scenario, of course. ¬.¬

Still! Players, start your thinkers. If all goes well, we could be playing this game on the 29th.

-The Gneech

Oct 26 2012

For #GhostbustersFriday — Custom Ghostbusters Gaming Minis

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The figures are done! After a few sessions of the Savage World of Ghostbusters using the closest minis I had on hand, I decided I had to have proper GB minis. I took a long look at Carmen’s Fun Painty Time set of Ghostbusters minis, and while I don’t have Carmen’s sculpting chops, I am pretty pleased with the final result. For those interested in the process, I figured I’d write up some details here. You can click through any of the pics to see larger versions.

Read more »

Sep 28 2012

Gung-Ho Gaming: Why Can’t I Make It Work?

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There is a certain style of RPG that I really enjoy when I can pull it off… but it’s very hard to pull off. For lack of a better term, I call it “Gung Ho.” It’s not a genre in and of itself, but it is a definite style: if you see Abraham Lincoln riding a bear and carrying a machine gun in each hand? That’s Gung Ho gaming.

Gamma World is sorta the archetypal (and one of if not the oldest) Gung Ho RPGs out there, and the recent 4E-ruleset reboot actually worked fairly well as far as it went. Unfortunately, once we finished the initial scenario, I just couldn’t stay interested. I thought for sure that I would, and bought all the expansions… but it didn’t happen.

There have been plenty of other attempts in our group to start and sustain Gung Ho games: Teenagers From Outer Space appears periodically in our repertoire, and my own Furry Battle Academy! was definitely in this vein. But in both cases, while the individual sessions have usually been quite fun, the campaigns have just failed to launch.

Some of it is probably sheer exhaustion. Gung Ho gaming seems to require a massive caffeine/sugar rush to get the ball rolling, and once it’s rolling, you have to keep momentum or you end up needing to start all over again. Some of it is also probably just the mix of players… as weird and creative a bunch as they are, their personalities tend to range from “rather reserved” to “painfully shy,” whereas Gung Ho gaming requires the willingness to be loud and quite often to make an idiot of yourself.

My most successful “Gung Ho” game so far has got to be the Ghostbusters game, but it’s only a bit Gung Ho. In fact, aside from the occasional silly NPC name and the tendency to do a lot of collateral damage with the proton packs, it’s hardly Gung Ho at all. Just… eccentric. Sure, they’ve battled animated modern art, been chased around the streets of D.C. by an enormous ancient Hittite dog-god, and accidentally teleported to Saturn [1] once or twice, but it’s not like they carry around guns that shoot chainsaws or anything.

[1] Actually an alternate dimension. They just call it Saturn, a la Beetlejuice.

The reason this is on my mind is because I was pondering the possibilities of a Borderlands RPG. With its over-the-top badassery and snarky sense of humor, I could easily see Borderlands being a fun beer-and-pretzels setting for a game, and the story arc of Borderlands 2 is for all intents and purposes a “Plot Point Campaign” straight out of Savage Worlds. It’s a natural fit.

And yet… I don’t think I can do it. For some reason, I just don’t seem to be able to come up with enough ideas in the Gung Ho mode. If handed an existing scenario, I can probably take it and make it work (as I did with the Gamma World starter scenario), but coming up with new ones is like voodoo to me. My brain keeps trying to make things make sense. (“Wait… this dude has shotguns grafted onto his forearms instead of hands? How does he reload? For that matter, how does he tie his shoes?”) That kind of thinking is the kiss of death for Gung Ho, but unfortunately it’s often how I come up with my scenario ideas. By thinking about the antagonists and giving them goals that make sense, I can figure out what they will do, how, and why, as well as what they might do when their plans go south (as of course, they will once the players show up).

Of course, it’s not like we need another game anyway. Two Pathfinder games (one of which has only had one session) and Ghostbusters keep our plate pretty full as it is. But whenever I find a new setting or genre that I like, my thoughts on it must eventually turn to gaming. It’s just in my blood, I guess!

-The Gneech

Sep 12 2012

Everybody Can Relax, I Got the Car

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One wrinkle about switching to Savage Worlds for my Ghostbusters campaign is that SW assumes the presence of miniatures, whereas the old UHM system wouldn’t know what to do with ’em if you had ’em.

Of course, there aren’t any readily-available Ghostbusters miniatures; the closest thing would be print-your-own “cardboard heroes” types found on the web. But not about let something like that stop me, I pulled out some of my various oddball moderns from the “Wall o’ Minis” that approximated the group “in their civvies,” as it were. On top of that, I went online and found a 2010 Hot Wheels “ECTO-1,” so here’s the team as it stands (click-through for larger photo):


Thing is, Obsessive Gamer that I am, I know I can do better than this. To that end, I’ve taken a leaf from Carmen’s Fun Painty Time and am hacking together my own proper GB figs. (If you’re interested in GB or minis, I highly recommend you follow the link and check out the related posts– the author goes into a pretty detailed step-by-step on the process they followed.)

So today I ordered the Heresy “Inspectors” as well as some gun bits and “Communication Packs” from Secret Weapon; these will eventually become proper “in uniform” Ghostbuster miniatures for the game.

In order to make the figs a little more readily identifiable at the table, I’ll probably take a cue from The Real Ghostbusters and put the different characters into different uniforms. Goth boss Lola has already been established in the game to be wearing a black jumpsuit (“only until I can find something darker”), with ironic bright pink trim and Hello Kitty motifs. I was figuring that Bruno could have an aggressive (or possibly inmate-ish) orange, Charley could have a classic Ghostbuster gray, and Ivan might go for scientific white, hazmat yellow, or possibly “Dr. Clayton Forrester” green.

Unfortunately, the Heresy stuff is coming from the UK and may take some time to get here! On the other hand, the way life seems to conspire to keep us from playing, we might still only have a session or two before the figs are ready. XD

Expect progress pics as progress is made!

-The Gneech

PS: Yes, that is a miniature of Velma. And yes, I do have the rest of the Scooby Gang. And the van.

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