Every September

Someone said in conversation recently: "How many times do you really reread a book?" Well, I'm going on 16 times for one in particular. For 16 years, I've mentioned that: "it's that time again"! As Autumn rushes in with piles of cumulus fractus to cumulus mediocris clouds making flame colored tree leaves stand out stark against their blue gray masses, and cold, dry winds from the north make the change of season rains colder, and the scents more crisp, it's time to read Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

First, Dragonlance fans will immediately know that 16 years is off. It's been around 27 years. The book's first printing was in 1984. So where was I? Slow on the uptake of course.

But why? 16 years, every year, the same book? Because it's THE definitive piece of 80's high fantasy literature? Because it's way easier and just as emotionally fulfilling as reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? Yes and yes, and more besides. Reading the book, you can tell two things: This was an early effort by the authors -- which in no way detracts from the tale told, and the absolute "life" of the characters within. The neat part about that is these characters were born from play-testing the game modules, and it shows. Not as a summary or best-of of an AD&D play session, but as storytelling born from a great time roleplaying the game! It immediately rounds out and animates Tanis, Sturm, Goldmoon & Riverwind, the Majere Brothers, Tasselhoff, Laurana, Tika, Fizban and all the rest in a way that is immediately effective without loads of flowery description. Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a fun, tense, satisfying read and I never get tired of it. It's a great way for fantasy readers or even just book/ereader fans in general to see in the change of seasons.

I'd like to convey a massive, heartfelt recommnedation to read this book, and ultimately the Chronicles Trilogy which it begins.(I'll admit here I have not yet read the Lost Chronicles Trilogy, also by Weis and Hickman that takes places within the time frame of the original trilogy and I'm not sure that I want to. Like Forgotten Realms or the Star Wars EU, I look at the Lost Chronicles with trepidation. Every last blade of grass and every time a character breaks wind doesn't need to be cataloged, honestly. Some mystery is good.)


Cream City Blood Bowl Pitch Ready

The Blood Bowl Pitch is finally ready for Play. The dugouts are in -- with a clearly human slant to the architecture, the "sponsors" have their ads placed, the lines are down and the grass is mowed.

Now, in this age of PC game awesomeness

how do you convince Blood Bowl players it's better to roll dice across the table from someone instead of sitting on your arse by a computer that does every and all in-game calculation for you? Shouldn't be too hard! See ya on the pitch!

Notes on construction: I tend to use a lot of throw away stuff when I build. Some people would call that: "garbage". The pitch itself was that pill-y styrofoam insulation from a crib and the pressboard supporting it I rescued from a dumpster, oddly enough it matched the foam. The score boxes, re-roll boxes and turns are all the 25mm sqare bases from GW topped with matting material that I rescued from an artist's scrap pile. The numbers are actually from a Michaels craft store that conveniantly came in blue and red. The dug outs are more foam cut to fit with a foam cutter, topped with an awesom product called "Woodsies" -- thin popsicle sticks basically, over wall made from card under a cereal box roofs. The white zone markings are 1/16" tile spacers and the movement box markings were done over the top of the paint and static grass with a green Sharpie.


Not in the face!!!

You ever have one-of-those-games? Originally, this was going to be a simple battle report. Unfortuntely, it begins and ends just like this:

Spiders and hooves... you don't get it?

These are the last things my Warhammer Dwarf army saw before being summarily annhilated by goblins and beastmen.




They were beaten so badly the pulp that was my Longbeards unit -- the one with the "general" in it -- smelled strongly of brown ale urine. Even the undead my dwarfs had allied with for this game had pissed themselves we were beaten so badly. I know, I know, they would never ally with each other but that was hardly the point. It was a learning experience! And by "learning" I mean "schooled".

Absolutely everything that could go wrong went wrong... but only for our side. I'm no stranger to losing games;
I've lost an entire 2000point Space Marine force in less than 3 full turns, left to play 3 more turns with a single model. Sometimes, however rarely, I've even inlficted some suffering to a lesser degree on opponents. To be fair, these things largely go 50/50. Even power-gamers used to waving their pricks around in one hand with their supercharged army lists in their other, lose as much as they win, I'll bet. It's about what you emphasize.

But the staggering wave of crap dice rolls and just plain bad luck that dogged me and my fellow general Nick, from the very first turn's opening dice roll was nothing short of awe inspiring, or tear inducing, which ever comes first.

You can talk about good sportsmanship, you can say our tactics weren't sound, you could even recommend how our set up could have been done differently,
but that would be like lecturing a pencil about how best to dive into a pencil sharpener. From the first entirely failed magic phase by my partner to my dwarf canon misfiring immediately, we were marked for doom.

My last standing unit needed to roll snake eyes to not run away like the sad sacks the rest of the army turned out to be and... After watching graveguard humiliated and made inept in the face of super-regenerative trolls, after watching these same trolls make my dwarfs disappear by puking on them -- no really -- after seeing small goblin chariots rape and destroy undead and dwarf alike, at will, after suffering a bray-shaman cast 3 times with irresistable force, neutering the runes I took to dispell magic and NOT dying, after watching blood knights murdered by a fething doom diver, after seeing my longbeards unmanned and trampled, after all our attacks were made moot by well made saves, after every hopelessly lost close-combats against outrageous odds born of a clearly skewed point cost system, after I, myself as a player, was physically done and slapping myself and moving around like an ADHD poster boy to stay coherent... this one unit...

my original dwarf unit, bought on a whim...

...rolled snake eyes and stayed in the game.

Well shit. If they're staying, I ain't going either. Write it in the book of grudges and see you on the battlefield you bastards.