Sunday, February 28, 2021

Blackstone Fortress

Blackstone Fortress by Games Workshop

Warhammer Quest was my first Games Workshop boxed game, back however many decades ago.  I was coming in from Heroquest and Battlemasters, both Milton-Bradley games that were widely available in the states.  When it was announced a few years back, I was immediately interested in the Warhammer 40,000 version of the classic game.

I wasn't interested in Silver Tower AT ALL.  Pass on Age of Sigmar - I just can't.  I won't.  Not ever.  Not to mention that the game appeared to have little in common with it's predecessor, so from the outset there was little to entice me.

Of course, this is the second 'new' Warhammer Quest game - the first 40k version of Warhammer Quest.  It's a few years old...and it's production cycle is pretty much over.  The game is super cool and came with a lot of cool models.  Like the Rogue Trader set, all these models have lots of potential in Kill-Team and Warhammer 40,000 as well as the game they were packaged in.

Which is just as well, since GW's marketing makes it impossible for anyone to get the correct sets they need to play the 'actual' game of Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress.

All these games have limited production cycles.  It's a given that for many companies in the industry that most items are created in 'print runs'.  The problem is when marketing and design create, for lack of a better term, functional dependencies.

For example, Blackstone Fortress: Escalation is required for many of the smaller expansions to function, such as the Deadly Alliance box (the Zoat!).  The problem is that Escalation has been out of print for a while already, and after COVID there's little hope of a reprint.  Ebay scalpers have already seized on this functional dependency to ask ASTRONOMICAL prices for Escalation, making it a real problem for any reasonable gamer to actually collect this line. 

I really don't care if you're a collector and that makes you feel bad.  I just don't feel like the manufacturer should let critical pieces of a line go out of print while they are still creating additions to that line.  It gives the false impression that the line is 'alive' - i.e. at least some plan for producing critical components.

I suppose the ploy from Games Workshop is to create FOMO around every release.  Scalpers run many of the online communities, and these grifters love it when they can get their hands on something like this - a sort of false scarcity.  Blackstone Fortresses' last expansion went on sale late last year, just a few months ago - and yet this functional dependency continues to persist in Games Workshop design.

So here's some advice for all future investments:  It is quite apparent that all Specialty Games from Games Workshop will continue like this.  If you are interested in a line, get everything immediately on release and don't wait.  Don't trust designers not to sell you something you can't use.  If that's going to be a stretch in commitment, perhaps choose just one line and collect it until they declare it dead.

It's not a total loss - I like the basic game, and at least I can use my Blackstone Fortress Zoat (and ALL my other Blackstone Fortress miniatures) in all the other 40k games.

Just not in Blackstone Fortress.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Traveller: What Now?

** Welcome, Traveller... Campaign Page **

The following is from GameDoc's session summary, posted on our campaign message group:

Baroness Edda requests a personal meeting with Hernando. She wants to keep him on retainer as a scientific advisor to replace his deceased colleague, Dr. Warwick. She comes clean that he was working for her to develop cyber-organic livestock that might prove more hardy for life in space or when settling new planets.

Perhaps they can figure together out who killed the late professor and stole his research. It is clear that the cyber-organic creatures they’ve encountered are somehow based on Warwick’s research. She also agrees to secure the alien ruins so that a joint venture to further study the site (and profit from it) can be established.

Khaine begins poking around the criminal underworld and learns that a black market for human remains has sprung up and is especially lucrative. Sally surmised that the body harvesting must be related to the cyber-organic creatures.

Riley and Sally recruit a new co-pilot for the ship - a belter and former scout named Klaes Ashford. Riley and Klaes round up a cargo shipment and depart for Ashfield Station. 

In the meantime, Khaine continues his investigation. Hernando and Sally help him secure two cadavers from a science lab and forge records indicating they were cremated. Khaine then uses the bodies to establish a relationship with one of the procurers and learn more about the operation. He learns that bodies are smuggled out of the city to a location near the northern coast. He is able to piece together information on when bodies are dropped and shipped. 

Retiring with another load of cargo, Riley and Klaes note several small shuttles emerging from the far side of the planet Tinath and landing on one of the moons...

Click here.
In addition to running and playing all these games, our intrepid GameDoc (a.k.a. - B.J.) has been quite busy in the last few weeks, having launched a podcast called The Arcane Alienist!  

You can listen for free on right now! 

He talks about a variety of subjects, all focused on ideas fans of tabletop gaming will find interesting.  Whether you like discussing characters, settings, rpg mechanics or are just looking for interesting ideas to develop then do us a favor and take a listen. 

If you're into RPG's, you won't be disappointed with the time you spend with The Arcane Alienist!

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part IV]

Iron Seer presents Howl of Oblivion on Fantasy Grounds
** Howl of Oblivion Campaign Page **

Shortly after inspecting the statues, Anverth moves to inspect the vortex in the northern chamber.  Iris sees the smaller, undamaged marble statues begin to move, and shouts a warning as she draws her sword.  They call out, and Borz hears them from the antechamber he was searching.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part IV] Caryatid Columns

The rest of the party rushes back to aid as combat with the mystical guardians ensues.  The supernatural statuary is quite resilient, harder than any stone, and turns aside many powerful blows with only a few nicks and scrapes.  The party deliberates retreat for some time, until a lucky strike finally instills some hope.  

As the melee carried on, options for retreat were discussed when a member of the party was momentarily put out of action and brought back by healing magic.  The statuary was slow and extremely difficult to hurt.  This was compounded by the disorganized and demoralized show of defense by the party, but in the end they were able to disrupt the magic impelling the statues.  The guardians crumbled to a chalky powder.

The party retreated to the section of the maze behind the secret panels again to recuperate for several hours.  They pressed on to leave the dungeon as soon as they could by doing what they came to do.  As one, they marched to the vortex chamber.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part IV] Beast From Beyond

As Borz knelt at the edge of the circle and chanted a prayer to Wee Jas, he could see something seemingly emerging from the vortex.  Soon he is joined in prayer by Walkul.  Just then,  a strange bloblike creature with many eyes and mouths floated into the chamber from the center of the swirling gate.  Iris madly ran forward into the vortex to attack it, and as she did the vortex closed.

The creature roared with many maws a scream of hate and rage.  It gibbered incomprehensibly in languages the party could not comprehend, and the room suddenly vanished from view - replaced with the raw chaos and empty space of Limbo!  The party floated helplessly in the air, unable to comprehend or believe what was happening to them!

The creature began to shift it's amorphous form, turning eyes and maws to attack Iris who was floating nearby.  She lashed out with her scimitar and cleaved a portion of the creature's amoeboid body completely away!  A few blows later and the rest of it was also in pieces...and momentarily the chaos of limbo faded away and the room returned to normal.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part IV] Chaos of Limbo

With the creature gone and nothing else to stop them, the party conducted a thorough search of the chambers connecting to the maze over the next day.  Luckily, they found some Jasidans hiding in one of the chambers who were unable to escape before the Maze Crawler went into 'kill' mode.  Melmer was delivering mail when the pulse hit, and they took refuge - locking themselves into the nearest chamber.  He and his guards are very happy to see the players, and he is able to tell the party exactly what they were stealing from the tomb - leading to the discovery of some powerful magic among the hoard the party was able to extract from the resting place of this... Oroch-Vaan...whoever they were.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part IV] Melmer the Mail-Mage

The party and Jasidans leave the Tomb and are met by the High Priestess.  She takes note of exactly what the party is carrying, but doesn't object or renege.  The party leaves the Shrouded Masjid a great deal richer than when they came...but what will they do next?

The party is starting to be noticed in Yecha.  They have made friends, perhaps allies.  At the least they now have acquaintances in the city.  Surely, their opportunites will expand from here - but what will our party choose to do?  

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part IV] Chapter 1
Howl of Oblivion, Chapter I

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part III]

** Howl of Oblivion Campaign Page **

The party moves through another secret passage that wasn't so carefully hidden and continued north - except Walkul.  Borz and Khaine again attempt to rob the ancient tombs, searching for traps and only finding the rusted and ineffective remains of them.  Borz then attempts to carefully extract another red gem from the bull-like sarcophagi, but is able to dodge the resulting fine mist this time.  Khaine attempts the same and isn't so lucky.

Apparently compelled to seek out the thrum of the mystical vibrations in the maze-chambers, he went into the twisting corridors alone to seek the source.  It isn't long before he enters a mystic circle in the apparent center of the maze.  He blesses himself as a horrific serpentine guardian made of bones and a human skull appears and advances in a swaying, hypnotic way.  

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds

Unaffected by the minor magic of the guardian, Walkul readies himself to smash the offensive monster.  The snake-like construct is lightning fast, and gets not only the drop on Walkul but hits a vital spot as well...

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds
Fortunately, at this point Walkul doesn't really have to worry about the paralytic poison of the bite.

The party soon wonders where Walkul is, but none of them realize he is alone and dying.  Sensing danger, they race toward the center of the maze where Walkul lies bleeding.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds

Iris makes it to Walkul first on her nimble elven feet.  She forces a healing potion on him before the golem begins to stir again.  The rest of the party enter the room, and everyone but Anverth and Iris are taken by it's hypnotic swaying!

Iris is bitten severely by the snake-thing, and collapses paralyzed on the ground.  In the span of a few minutes, Anverth and the snake-thing square off. It is a tense contest where everything rests on Anverth, but is the gnome who gets the upper hand and smashes the skull from the serpentine body in a single blow!

As Borz and Khaine recover their senses, the party decides to retreat to the L-shaped hidden passage and rest.  Iris shakes off the paralysis as they are carried back to safety, but Walkul does not.  After a rest, another potion is applied to Walkul's inert form and he finally awakes.  Undisturbed in their hole in the wall, the party decides to continue resting until Walkul is fully cognizant.  Anverth takes time during this period to decipher the magical script in the Limbolibram, unlocking the power of some of it's arcane secrets.

As soon as they feel ready, the party returns to the center of the maze and immediately all go in different directions alone.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds
Even Walkul hurriedly walked off alone again.

Soon everyone realizes they have walked off alone into the dungeon.  For Iris and Anverth, it was hearing the sound of rushing wind to the north of the complex.  Khaine soon assumed everyone else was dead and he was the last survivor, as he could not hear Borz return to the center of the maze and cry out for everyone to return to investigate the north section.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds
"It sure is dark in here.  Good thing I have *slides on shades* INFRAVISION."

The maze section gives way to a more proper temple area.  Before the gigantic statues (which the party learns depicts the interdimensional sorcerer Oroch-Vaan) are the heart and liver of some massive beast (which the party learns is that of a huge dragon).  The party learns all this from a Jasidan Cookbook that Anverth had taken an interest in and picked up in an antechamber.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds

Following the sound of the rushing wind, the party sees a massive vortex in the next chamber.  They pick around the antechambers, attempting to ascertain any dangers before it's too late.  Odd carven statues at the feet of the giant bull sculptures seem a little strange...

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds

The ominous vortex looms in the chamber beyond the two giant statues.  This MUST be the gate to Limbo.  Warily, the party scans the chamber for any sort of movement, though it is difficult to see with the kaleidoscopic gateway looming...

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan [Part II]

Iron Seer presents Howl of Oblivion
** Howl of Oblivion Campaign Page **

The party continues into deeper into the complex of the Second Tomb, all the while wondering where those golems Fasha was talking about might be.  Twisting corridors lead in all directions, and Borz spends some time examining the stonework.  Khaine helps search nearly every inch of the corridors for traps and other interesting things, but all they find are clues to the complex's construction and evidence of recent passage.


The party finds a shrine amongst the maze-like corridors.  There are bowls made of gold, with gems such as for some sort of offering to whatever is depicted in the imagery of the idol.  The Jasidan scripts are all offerings of abeyance to their Lady and her servants.  Borz attempts to pry the gem from the head of the statue, but it disintegrates into fine mist which afflicts the dwarf with coughing and wheezing spasms for some time.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan on Fantasy Grounds
Walkul attempts to flush the dwarf's eyes and face with water, but the powdery irritant remains.

The party presses on, finding a cell-like room with chains upon the wall.  One side of the room is littered with bones - though they were far too large to be human.  Upon the desk and table, the party finds a strange book, titled 'The Limbolibram', written in ancient Baklunish and some other strange pictography.  Perhaps the language of magic?

Underneath the small desk, they find entrance to a carven tunnel nearly the size of the main corridors of the complex.  Crawling under the desk and walking out the other end of the tunnel, they discover a secret door to another section of corridors, this time leading in other directions.  Borz begins to suspect the corridor complex may have at one time been one large chamber, and as the party explores this seems to be the case.

The Second Tomb of Oroch-Vaan Maze Entrances

At the end of one of these sections, the party senses a faint vibration along a small section of wall.  Walkul detects a moderate magic on the other side of the wall, due west.  Khaine and Borz quickly inspect the wall for a way through, but there seems no other option than to continue along the corridors.

Undaunted, the party prepares to move through the complex more quickly...