Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Cult of the Old

Captain's log, 21/1/1716

This archipelago is living up to its heinous reputation.  Giant lizards, talking apes, 'submersibles'...I'm beginning to think I'm going mad!  I'm tempted to tell the Royal Marine's commanding officer that bounty or no bounty, The Skidmark is done with this quest!  If I didn't know with certainty that he and his men would slaughter all of us without hesitation, I'd turn us to friendly ports immediately.

We turned toward the next island.  We've recovered three pieces of Haworth's map, so the crew is starting to get excited about the near future. Little did we know that our quest would take such an evil turn...

We sailed east of Giant Lizard Isle.  Twas a short jaunt before we set eyes upon our next destination.  I spied a building in the island's center and the lagoon was deep enough that we were able to sail The Skidmark fairly close.  Not close enough for cannon support, but close enough to make rowing easier for the crew.

Table view...

Lookout's view...
We started our look around as per normal and without incident.

Here we come!

There's the building in the distance!

Growing ever more impatient, Mr. Stevens decided to break free from the pack and struck out on his own.  He soon encountered what was to the first of many horrific creatures.  This one was tall, fast and plainly hostile.  It was part reptile, as it's scaly skin attested.  It had bony blades along its forearms and smaller arms with bat-like wings...could it fly?  Its serpent's tail served as its main means of propulsion, but curiously had octopus-like suckers as well.  As I said, horrific to behold.  It shrieked loudly as it approached in a bloodcurdling cry.  Mr. Stevens, our most fearsome fighter, fought down his fear, leveled his pistol and neatly shot it in its saurian skull.

Mr. Pendleton views the corpse as Mr. Harrison looks on.
As we continued on toward the structure I'd spied earlier, we got separated by greater and greater margins.  Mr. Stevens and Isabella investigated the curious-looking stairs and plateau while the rest of us headed toward the structure.  Mr. Pendleton thought he saw a flash of purple disappear into the murk of the building's opening, but wasn't sure.

Stringing out...
That's when several things happened at once.  Mr. Stevens yet again encountered a disturbing beast, while I, leading from the front, suddenly remembered why I don't normally do so.

Mr. Stevens yet again showed us his aptitude with pistols, felling a reptilian creature with crab-like claws.  It jumped so nimbly to engage Mr. Stevens, it looked like it flew.  In the scrum that followed, Mr. Stevens was able to get his pistol under its chin and finish the job.

"Mad" Stevens strikes again...
On my own, I viewed that which turned the blood in my veins to ice:  two creatures intent on mischief of the most grievous sort!  The first was big.  Very big, with a body reminiscent of a lobster's and a face full of tentacles.  It's chitinous shell glistened sickly in the sun.  Behind it lumbered a purple monstrosity with a bloated, white belly.  The big one closed on me first and whacked me with a claw.  As it drew near, one of its tentacles grazed my arm and I instantly felt weak of spirit.  I knew than that I was in trouble, but my crew wasn't close enough to help me.

Look at it!!!
It wasn't a good fight for me.  I went down quickly.  Sadly the rest of this account is second-hand from the crew's report, as I was out of action until I awoke on The Skidmark several hours later.

Cap'n down! 

They say my arm was grabbed by the large creature and appeared to be ripped from my body.  In actuality, they discovered later my arm was pinned awkwardly under my immobile form...hiding it from view, but still rather gruesome to behold.

My crew tried to shoot the large creature, but its shell deflected their fire.  Both creatures closed and the entire crew fought against them.  It was Isabella's murderous skills that won the day. 

The purple creature reportedly ruined Mr. Stevens shoes by spitting a foul, sticky substance at him, quite upsetting him to the point he yet again shot and killed his adversary.

With no more foul beasts to contend with, the crew made sure I was not truly dead before continuing on to the structure.  They discovered a ladder descending into the depths and then had a debate as to what to do.  Mr. Pendleton wanted to get powder from The Skidmark and seal off the opening forever.  He was reminded that there may be something about Haworth's treasure in those depths, making exploration important.

So, down they went.  The rest of their tale is equal parts disturbing and intriguing.  They descended to a well-established compound!  Oaken doors, stone hallways, torches lighting their way...who lived here?!

Which door?
With two doors to choose from, the crew huddled in the short hallway.  They heard sounds coming from behind both doors as well as down the hallway.  Finally, Mr. Harrison opened a door to find a man in purple robes waiting for him, knife in hand.  The same was found behind the other door.  It didn't take long for my merciless crew to take care of these men.

Hi there!
Hi there back!

There are more!

Not anymore!
 Mr. Pendleton tells me that there wasn't much of anything in the rooms.  Personal belongings, odd religious bits and so on.  However, it's the next bit he relayed that disturbs me.

When the final door was opened, the crew stumbled upon some sort of ceremony taking place.  There were more men in purple, but these were more powerful looking.  There were also two men wearing robes and cowls of a different sort...almost like they were higher in rank, according to Isabella.  These two, one in purple and one in green, were chanting something in a tongue none of the crew understood but nevertheless made their skin crawl.  Also of note was another of those odd statues that we'd found on the giant lizard island.  Could that be related?

The man in green and two others escaped through a secret passage as the two remaining men closed on the door. These last two men were obviously some sort of 'rear guard', according to Mr. Stevens.  They distracted the crew long enough to ensure the man in green's escape.

When the fight was over, the crew searched the room.  Some gold was had, mainly in the form of disquieting religious relics, but the true treasure is the unholy tomb taken from off the altar.  I can't discern the language used and honestly feel...dirty...when trying to do my soul is rejecting the scribbles on the page.  I've locked the tomb in a stout chest and cannot wait to offload it at Lion's Port.

The questions raised from today's expedition are many fold.  Who were these men?  Did they create the creatures we fought?  What elder god do they worship?  How come none of us has heard of this cult?  Will we encounter them again, especially the man in green?  Only time will tell...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Broadsides, Boarding Parties and Racing

I recently took a look around my basement and noted how many two-player games I own that never hit the gaming table.  I decided to resolve that issue and e-mailed that "Thursday is a twofer".

Note:  This evening is also blogged on the Penny Whistle (link is on the right).

The games?  Broadsides and Boarding Parties (aka B&BB) (both Ken and I own it and he brought his copy) and, if needed, Okko.  I've wanted to play both, so the possibility of fun NOT being had was small...except we had five people show up!  That Murphy, let me tell you!

It all worked out, though.  I got in a game of B&BB with Bill while Jon Mark and Ken played against each other.  Nick arrived late and walked in after we'd already started playing.

In the first games, I beat Bill in a bloody rout, while Ken beat Jon Mark...barely.
Memorable moment?  My first cannon salvo killed Bill's captain and really set the tone for the rest of the game.

Ken and Nick squared off while the rest of us sat around and covered many, many topics.  I think Nick won.

We decided to try something a little different:  Four player B&BB!  Bill watched as the rest of us paired up and took to the high seas!

Ken was sunk by Nick by a devastating barrage of hull-busting cannonades.  Jon Mark, now alone against two enemies, caught us in a cross-wind by sailing between us and literally destroying our masts with chain shot!  I was reduced to 1/3 movement, while Nick was dead in the water.  I tried to circle back and help Nick, but didn't have the wind to get there before Nick's boat slid beneath the waves.  Jon Mark blew apart my last ability to sail and I struck my colors.  Victory:  Jon Mark and Ken!

It looks like a naval yard!

Cap'n Haworth, at yer service!

Thar's the poop deck!

The crew's ready!

The ships come to battle

The end of Nick's ship

With the evening getting late, I decided to choose a game that accommodated our five players:  Formula-1.  This is a game that Ken particularly enjoys and he was boasting about his prowess as we set it on the table.  Bad move as it turns out, as the game mercilessly mocked him all night.

Start of the race
It was a tight race for first as Nick, Jon Mark and I vied for control.

Lap one

Lap three

Jon Mark's folly
Ken started strong, but literally spun out on every corner.  It didn't matter how slowly he took the corners.  If it was above the recommended speed, he was in the sand.

The arena is empty...

...except for one man.

still driving and striving... fast as he can.

In the end, I took the checkered flag, with Jon Mark sliding into second, Nick third, Bill fourth and Ken a distant fifth.

Winner and a sore loser...LOL
Another great night filled with laughter, beverages and good games.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

It's a New Year...

Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope 2016 is a wonderful year for you, filled with good times and many good games.

I was invited by a friend of mine, Doug, to throw down a game of Fistful of Lead at a Boy Scout overnight event.  I said yes, packed the game into my truck and headed to the event location.

The game was the standard plot line: A gold shipment has arrived in Deadrock, but the cavalry from the nearby fort can't pick it up until tomorrow.  The Sheriff and his deputies have hidden it somewhere in town and will defend it to the bitter end.  Your gang, and every other gang of varmints within spitting distance of Deadrock, want that gold.  Only problem is y'all hate each other and wouldn't mind taking out a few enemies in the process!  Get the gold, kill anyone who gets in your way and get off the table with the loot.  Easy, right?

I had five players, thus four gangs and the Sheriff (Doug).  The boys didn't really name their five-man gangs, so I'll take the opportunity to do so.  There were the Gringos (Mexicans), Injuns, Longriders and Gents.   They all started at the edge of the table and worked their way into town.  Everyone hated the gang to their left and more points were given to players who could kill their rivals.

The guys at the start of the game.  Doug's in green.
Immediately, the Sheriff's crew and the Gringos went after the Gents.  It didn't take long for their leader to be shot in the back while exploring a shack.

Got 'em!
The Gringos moved as a unit, straight toward the Gents and Sheriff.  Their inadvertent teamwork (the Gringos and Sheriff) really put the hurt on the Gents.

Soon, the Gents were fighting for their lives on two fronts.  That is never good in a gunfight!

A Deputy takes on "The Twins" from the Gents gang.
Meanwhile, the Longriders methodically checked buildings for the gold while avoiding getting into a scrap with another gang.  They managed to search about a quarter of the town before they were forced to make their presence known to the other gunslingers.  That's when their day went South.  They got strung out and didn't support each other, letting both the Sheriff and the Gringos whittle down their ranks.

The Injuns, many of whom had either short-range throwing or melee weapons, skirted the northern edge of town, searching for the gold.

They boldly ran en masse across Main Street.  That went well for most of them, but unfortunately Chief "Big Red" didn't make it.

The Longriders retreated, but that move only allowed the Injuns time to move in and do what they do best:  Hand-to-hand mayhem!

They fought to the death...

It eventually devolved into that Fistful of Lead always becomes...a bloodbath.  The Northeast part of town became "blood alley", but there were plenty of other places where atrocities occurred.

The beginning of "Blood Alley"
Eventually, the Gringos received a tip from a townswoman that the Sheriff hid the gold in the jail.  They finished off the Gents, pinned down the Sheriff and his deputies and found the gold.  The other gangs tried to stop them, but the Gringos were not to be denied.  Not only did they have the most kills for the night, but made off with the loot!

The lads said they had a great time and there were plenty of moments where what was happening on the table directly translated into stories they can fall back on for many years.

Fun times!  I'd gladly volunteer to host a game with the crew of Troop 260!