The 2017 Geekery New Year’s Address!

Welcome 2017! Also, welcome back to the Geekery. I’ve been absent for quite some time, I know, but I feel refreshed and ready to bring you all the gaming news, reviews, and tidbits from my day to day gaming you desire. There are plenty of things in the pipe for this year for potential changes to the site, I’ll get to those in a moment.

GIFTS!

I hope all my fellow gamers, who celebrate the holidays with gift giving, received gifts as cool as what I received. I figured I’d do a little bragging about these right up front, this is my blog and all.

Dungeonology

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This book is an interesting little bird (big thanks to my awesome sis in law for getting it for me!). Obviously it’s more for beginners or collectors of cool D&D books than for the use of a seasoned Dungeon Master, but it has some really cool features on the inside that bring me back to the days when the concepts of D&D were shiny and new. I’ll be giving this book a more thorough run down in a later post but it’s certainly a fun book to own. A great way to introduce new players to the concepts and challenges of a good dungeon delve.

Board Games!

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Sarah and I love them, and you can never have too many. This year we received two and an expansion to one. Sarah made out huge in the board game arena, Machi Koro is one of her all time favs and as much as we both love Smash Up she typically has the edge on me so our good buddy Jake got her the Pretty Pretty Expansion. We also received Forbidden Island, which if you’ve never tried it it’s a great game for introducing others to the newer generation of games, especially because it’s cooperative.

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Chessex Gaming Mat!

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Thanks go to Uncle Grumps for this bad boy. My old mat was tiny, and stained to Hell. We’ve been using a dry erase board for a while now. Awesome to have this now.

Dice and Dice Bags

So my sister in law and my mother in law teamed up here. My mother in law is an enormously talented crafter, who actually has a crafting business now that she has retired. Well, she took some time to make me a bunch of dice bags and then they got me a Big Bag of Dice so I can put together some dice bags to hand out to the kids in my Library games who don’t have dice yet! Giving me the ability to gift to others makes this probably one of the best gifts I received this year.

Cool Notebook

I saw this cool little journal in a hole in the wall bookstore that Sarah and I love to visit near our church. I mentioned offhandedly that someone could use such a thing to keep notes on gaming campaigns, and look nerdily cool whilst doing so. She bought the thing right under my nose. I tried to take a pic of the note she wrote me but It’s hard to get it in focus. It reads:

Kevin,

With love and admiration, I give you this journel to keep your adventures, creativity, and words of a world full of wonder! Best wishes on all your journeys beyond our realms.

Love,

Your wife Sarah

I’m a lucky guy ♥.

Secret Gift

There’s one gift I’m not going to picture just yet but will at a later date. Suffice it to say it’s my favorite and I hope to premier it at Gen Con 50. May have tipped you off with that last sentence though ;P.

IN GAMING NEWS

I haven’t spent much time talking about it but I’ve been running a game of Storm King’s Thunder for my group. It’s been a pretty fun experience so far, even if we have been plagued by the inability to truly string together consistent play time (people have lives apparently 😛). Despite our issues getting together we’ve moved along at a decent clip, just now beginning the gargantuan chapter three. It’ll be a challenging portion of the game, for a pre-made, there’s a lot of information for the would-be Dungeon Master to digest and organize for the players but, it’ll also be the most sandbox portion of the adventure and my players will certainly dig that. After all, it took a lot of convincing to get them to take a ride in Zephryos’ Tower (and after they were aboard they mentioned if they’d know about the wizard hat that crowned the thing they would have flat out refused on principle lol).

A couple of cool things about this campaign in general is that one of my players, Nick (you may know him as Uncle Grumps from his previous contribution efforts), is running a descendant from a game we played together back in our High School days. In fact the way I got their party to board Zephryos’ flying tower was by having my old character (still alive because..elf) be already aboard and waiting to meet the grandson of Rizzen the Great. Another cool aspect of the game is the return of an old friend to our gaming group who’s been out of state for a long time as he is in the Navy. Somehow he landed a recruitment position here in Missouri and we are all very thankful to have him back with us.

I continue to run my once a month game at the local library for teens interested in learning about D&D and I’m happy to say that, despite the fact I still run the game for about 10-15 kids at a time, the legacy players are getting really adept at the game and are very capable of assisting newcomers. There were a number of times in the recent past I couldn’t make it to a session and they had no issue picking up the slack and running a game themselves. I’m now entering my third year of doing this and I’m happy to report that I’m probably not even necessary at this point. Still, I love going and the kids are enjoying my run through of Hoard of the Dragon Queen so I’ll keep at it! Now that I have some extra Dice Bags to hand out I can’t wait to see the kids again.

COMING SOON IN 2017

There are so many cool things coming this year that I’ll likely forget a bunch while putting them to print here. I’ll give it a go though.

CONS

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Right off the bat I feel I need to mention Geekway to the West 2017. The 13th Annual Geekway to the West is set for May 18-21, 2017 at the St. Charles Convention Center in St. Charles, Missouri. If you love Board Games I can’t name a better convention to attend. They’ve only got a little over 400 badges remaining though, and considering badges went on sale on January 2nd they will sell out, and fast. For $60 you can attend the con all four days, you receive a random free board game (a quality one at that, twice now the game I received had a Market Price that matched my badge fee), and so much more. Seriously check out the site, make the trip and visit me in Missouri.

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Gen Con 50 folks. I fully intend to be there this year and, with a  little pressure and luck, I might bring a few buddies with me this time (buddies beyond what twitter and the blog have helped me garner that is).

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Really, Acadecon is one of the best little big cons out there. I truly wish I’d of been able to make it to Acadecon 2016, but I wasn’t going to miss the wedding of a good friend. Two of my best friends are getting married to some awesome gals in the fall of 2017, one wedding is in late October and then the other takes place the week after Acadecon 2017 so chances might be thin I can make it but I’m sure going to try! I love the good folks of the RPG Academy Network and the other attendees of this Con are fantastic as well. Here’s hoping!

GAMERSTABLE PODCAST COMING TO A CLOSE

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After years of podcasting, and 300 episodes, the Gamerstable Podcast is ending its run. Back when I first started really getting into the world of folks gabbing about tabletop RPGs on social media it seemed crazy to me that regular folks were coming together and podcasting about this game I love so much. First it was the Monkey in the Cage podcast who really welcomed me into the fold (I will always have a special place in my heart for Matt, Robert, Karen, and Ramses) but soon to follow was a crazy group of gamers who I was surprised to find lived just across the river in Illinois. Matt Fuller introduced me to them, and they didn’t have to give me the time of day. Instead they became close friends.

The Gamerstable Podcast has put forth some of the coolest content over its run. Frankly I find their style of taking actual play content and editing it to sound like a radio drama to be the best in the business. That’s beyond the discussion roundtable style they cut their teeth on though, and you can find a ton of great gaming advice throughout their many episodes. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed their bite sized chunks (most eps. are about 30 mins in length). Feel free to catch their last episode here, and when you’re done check the rest of the site.

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I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that this won’t be the complete disappearance of what I call the “Gamerstable Crew”. Eric Austley, the initiator and leader for Gamerstable, is going to pour more of his energy into his newest project that builds on the success of the Actual Plays put out by Gamerstable. Openly Gamer Theater currently houses a ton of great content and will more than likely feature many of the voices you heard over the years on Gamerstable too! Also, OGT is a yet another proud member of the RPG Academy Network, so you know it’s quality.

STUFF FOR MY SITE

So I need to pull this article to a close and nothing fits better than detailing a few things about the site!

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In late 2016 Privateer Press increased its level of involvement with my site for review of their materials and this means I will hopefully have even more Warmachine\Hordes models and products to review going into 2017. To help with this Nick, a.k.a. Uncle Grumps, has made mention of the desire to continue writing pieces on various items associated with WarmaHordes, and hopes to even run something big for our group of players. Also, if you’ve paid attention to the photo gallery on my Warmachine\Hordes page on the site you will have likely seen some of Mike “The Meatfist” Bortz’s excellent work painting his miniatures. Not only will he continue to send me photos of his art but he has promised me a step by step painting guide of one of the newer models to come out for the Trollbloods hordes unit, Madrak, Great Chieftain (Madrak 3). I hope to unveil this soon! Lastly, Topher has been talking about throwing a post or two on here about board games, an excellent candidate for such a thing. I hope he can get around to it (he is getting married this year, me might be somewhat busy).

Here’s to some great gaming in 2017! If you feel I missed some news, hit me up in the Comments. What are you excited about this year?

-Melvs

The Stygian Fragment: A Review of Gamerstable’s Most Recent Actual Play

The-Stygian-FragmentI never liked Actual Play Podcasts.  I mean, I tried to get into them, even listened in on some supposed great ones with “celebrities” and all that.  Never did anything for me though so I largely avoided the things in favor of podcasts that just talked about gaming in general.  I think this mostly stemmed from the fact that I was looking for a different experience than was being provided.  You see, I am a child of theater.  I was a Thespian in High School and went on to be a Musical Theater Major in college for a time.  I also make no secret of the fact that I play Role-Playing Games to fuel my passion for acting and storytelling more than for a love of mechanics.  So whenever I went in search of an Actual Play podcast I was unknowingly looking for a Radio Drama of sorts and if I have to compare what the folks over at Gamerstable do with their Actual Plays, Radio Drama fits the bill perfectly.

For those unfamiliar with Gamerstable they are a group out of Illinois that gathers weekly to record podcasts that focus almost exclusively to the hobby of Tabletop RPGs.  They’ve been doing so since 2011 and early on in their run they dabbled in Actual Plays.  I never did get around to listening to their AP for the system Victoriana but first started listening during their Star Wars run titled “Power of the Dark Side“.  PotDS was good but they really hit their stride with a Savage Worlds based game using some Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian Age Conan Lore.  That Actual Play was titled “Tower of the Ape” and was some brilliant work, I certainly recommend a listen, but I’m here to talk about their current run “The Stygian Fragment

The Stygian Fragment” is just over half available on their site, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have been offered a full listen and though it was a healthy five hours long I devoured it.  I will attempt to be as unspoilery as possible but damn do I wish I had someone else to talk to about this!

Call-of-Cthulhu

The place is St. Louis set firmly in the throes of prohibition and fully immersed in Lovecraftian lore.  That’s right, if the keyword “Stygian” didn’t key you off, this is a Call of Cthulhu romp.  Seven years prior the current timeline the players are in an event occurred that resulted in the deaths of important people in some of the players’ lives and nearly drove insane the remainder.  All centered around a strange cult and its hideous artifact.  The tone is noir, very fitting for the time and place and introduced well by Brandon Williams playing, the pickled, Detective Clarence Rouse and Shannon Steele as the Dame you’d expect to find in such a story, reporter Julia Barnes.

The other players in the game, run by the capable Eric Ausley, are introduced soon enough.  Father Evan Leary is played by Mike Bridges, he carries the weight of being one of the few survivors of the mysterious tragedy that binds most of the group together the other survivor being Finn Lockwood played by Daniel Helderman, a trumpet player who would just as well not be caught up in this whole mess.  Jayson King takes the role of Jack Houston Smith, an Archaeologist who finds himself involved despite having nothing to do with the event seven years prior and admits he probably should have just walked away.  Lastly Shawn King rounds out the main cast as Dr. Robert Covington who finds himself interested after a few mysteries surrounding a young lady’s death.

Eric Ausley writes and runs his game and records the sessions.  Most Actual Plays would stop at that, or maybe add some mood music.  Eric works with Daniel to to trim and edit the work, yes adding mood music but also trimming the fat.  Add to this, Eric leaves his own ego at the door by largely writing himself out of the entire story, instead opting to recruit talented voice actors to bring his NPCs to life.  I cannot stress how this adds a shine to the drama.  On one hand you have the players themselves playing the game with the usual improv that goes with role-playing and, post edit, you find that tip-of-the-tongue acting matched with dialogue from the voice actors.  It really sets the scene.

The story itself has all the tellings of a solid Lovecraft tale.  Insanity and death around every turn.  A black cult with nefarious plans at work in the background.  Books and artifacts of an occult nature being used to fuel an investigation that quickly grows beyond what these poor souls should really have to deal with but if they don’t press forward, who will?

The Stygian Fragment” is quality work.  A perfectly eerie listen that’s prime for this time of year.  If you are a St. Louis native you’ll love the attention to detail given to our city and the surrounding area.  The measures taken to make sure everything had the feel of the 1920-30’s were spot on.  Another great touch was having the players play some roles in a flashback scene set during the pivotal event seven years before the current story line.

This is easily my favorite Actual Play to come out of Sidetangent Productions, the studio name for Gamerstable’s creative work.  I’ve always been a fan of Lovecraftian lore and to see such time and energy put into creating an original fan made story set in his world delights me.  Hell, there’s even a mention of a certain Arkham, Massachusetts.  I urge you to keep downloading the episodes as they come out or, if you’re like me, wait until you can listen to them all in nearly one sitting (which is honestly what I had planned to do before getting the opportunity to get an early taste of the whole production).  Also, pay attention to the voice of a Mr. Charles Falstaff, he might just be voiced by some talented guy…goes by the name Kevin Smith, sometimes Melvin Smif!…It’s me… I voice Charles Falstaff.

-Melvs

P.S. I would really like to post a follow up article once everyone else has gotten to listen to the whole thing.  There’re some mysteries to be discussed!

EPISODES OF THE STYGIAN FRAGMENT:

Episode 1 – The Visitor
Episode 2 – The Event
Episode 3 – Following Leads
Episode 4 – Disturbing Facts
Episode 5 – Answers & More Questions
Episode 6 – The Mansion
Episode 7 – The Mound