RPG Playtest – Afterlife: Wandering Souls

Things got a bit busy for me, so this is a few days later than expected, but hey, at least it actually got written! Progress! That said, I do owe Liz an apology for how long it took to get this done, I really did want to get it posted earlier in the campaign so it could potentially help more with funding. Anyway…

So a few years back, my friends Terry, Evan and I ran a playtest session for a game called Afterlife: Wandering Souls, by Angry Hamster Publishing, the same company that created Witch: Fated Souls, a game I reviewed back in 2016 (for those who can’t be bothered reading the review, I really liked it, and it’s only grown on me more over the years). Afterlife was supposed to hit Kickstarter in 2017, but was delayed for an overhaul after the playtests were run. Well, it’s finally up on Kickstarter, and honestly, it was worth the wait. Before we get into the system though, what is Afterlife: Wandering Souls? Well, the Kickstarter campaign sums it up pretty well:

Afterlife: Wandering Souls is a macabre fantasy game set in surreal plane known as the Tenebris. You take on the role of a Wanderer—someone who died, but didn’t end up in Heaven, Hell, or any other traditional afterlife.  Devoid of any memories of your life on earth, you find yourself in an endless desert filled with gateways. Search different planes of existence for clues of your former life – or a semblance of one. Along the way you’ll encounter strange inhabitants, alien cultures, and other humans who’ve lost all hope and are bent on destroying you. 

Most of the action in Afterlife takes place in Mirages (cities located within the Tenebris itself, inhabited by natives who were never humans) and Limbos (extremely varied and sometimes very strange planes of existence accessed from gates within the Tenebris, where the inhabitants may not even know there’s a world outside of their own). The travel between Mirages and Limbos is usually handled in a fairly streamlined manner, referred to in the rules as Encountering the Dark, where the GM presents a scenario and each player takes a turn determining how they want to try and overcome it, building on the results of earlier actions by other players.

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The 2019 State of the Gnoll Address

So, as it seems like I’ve said every time I’ve posted on here in a long time, it’s been way too long since I’ve been here. Over a year this time. I won’t promise that’s not going to happen again, because my track record isn’t great… but I’m going to at least try to post more often.

So what have I been up to for the last year? Well, honestly? Mostly work. Things got pretty crazy for a while, and all my gaming stuff went on hold, apart from the odd video game or board game. I haven’t run my Chronicles of Darkness game in over a year, and it’s been at least six months since I’ve played any wargames aside from a brief half demo game at CanCon in January. Main thing I’ve done other than work is go to gigs. So many gigs. The last year and a half has been insane for seeing so many of my favourite bands. Cradle of Filth, Kamelot, Flogging Molly, Russian Circles, Behemoth, Slayer, Mastodon, Gojira, Sabaton, Amon Amarth… the list goes on, and there’s much more coming up. I’m actually heading to Sydney to see Eluveitie tonight, so excited. I love me some Celtic death metal, though I do wish I could have seen their last tour, when they still had Anna Murphy doing the clean vocals. Still, Fabienne is an excellent singer, and it’ll be an amazing show anyway.

One of my favourite songs that Anna did with Eluveitie

Aside from work and gigs, a lot of my focus in the last 8 months has been on my health, both mental and physical. I’d really let myself go in the last 5 or 6 years, and I was heading towards some serious health problems. I was starting to get down a lot as well, more than I had since before I got diagnosed and treated for my sleep apnea. A test showing a few risks that could be avoided with improved weight and fitness gave me the kick I needed, and I started getting seriously into sorting myself out. I took part in Steptember with a few coworkers, and crushed it. Started cycling to work a few days a week, improved my diet, and got strict about not missing gym sessions unless I absolutely had to. I started doing circuit training four or five mornings a week, I even went on a solo cycling holiday (just three days, but it was lovely), riding from Beechworth to Bright… admittedly, stopping for delicious food and wine everywhere probably didn’t do the health much good, but it was a great time. My blood pressure improved so much they could lower my medication for the first time in 8 years, I dropped almost 25kg, and took up running… which was unfortunately my undoing.

A fairly accurate representation of how things went for me…

Despite taking it very slowly, building up my distance and times gradually, it appears that my new orthortic inserts were only good for how I walk, not how I run, and I developed crippling pain in my shins that made most of the exercise I was doing extremely difficult. There was actually a suspicion I had stress fractures for a while, but a MRI only showed “mild” shin splints. Didn’t feel very mild, I’ll tell you that. So, I stopped everything except for upper body and core strength routines for the last few months, and managed to pack 10 kg back on, along with having my cardio fitness go to hell. It’s been a frustrating wait, and honestly a bit depressing, but I’ve finally started doing some very light leg exercises to start building some strength again. Still can’t run or cycle though, and can’t even use the ellipticals in the gym. But we’ll get there.

So that’s where I’m at currently. I’m planning on getting some more content up here, and getting my Chronicles of Darkness game going fortnightly again, hopefully with a war game or board game day on the off week. If that goes ahead, a lot of the posts to start with will probably be related to what I’m doing with the prep and story for that game. My next post will be about a game of Afterlife: Wandering Souls that I ran last week, using the quick start adventure. It’s currently on Kickstarter, and slowly unlocking stretch goals, so I definitely want to get it posted as soon as possible.

I guess that’s all I’ve really got for now. I’m going to get some sleep so I’m rested for the long day ahead of me. I’ll try to work on the Afterlife write up on my phone while I’m on the bus to Sydney, but I suspect I’ll get frustrated with it, and it’ll have to wait til I’m home on Friday. So until then, peace out, and I’ll return tired and half deaf in a day or two.

Battle Report: Warzone Resurrection CSS League, Season 1, Round 2 – Brotherhood vs Dark Legion

Another day, another battle report… Not for one of my games this time though. Initially it seemed like I wasn’t going to get a Round 2 match for the Conquest of the Solar System League, since we’ve had odd player numbers here in Canberra. Thankfully we found a 4th player at the last-minute, so I managed to get a game in after all. So the battle report for that will be incoming, but first, a report I wrote for the game played between two of our other players, Raxxis (Brotherhood) and Evs (Dark Legion).

I’ve added a bit more detail around the match this time around, including army lists and explanations of the scenario, to make up for the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to do a full narrative for this one. I’m also messing around with the format for the report itself, placing the photos for each turn in a slide show at the end of the activation breakdown, so that the post doesn’t end up stupidly long. Enjoy!

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Battle Report: Warzone Resurrection CSS League, Season 1, Round 1 – Bauhaus vs Dark Legion

So it’s been a stupidly long time since I’ve posted anything on here. Well over twelve months. There’s been a lot of ups and downs in that time, but one of the consistent things has been that I’ve struggled to write absolutely anything, even for my RPG groups… well, group, because by the middle of last year I only had one left, and even that had to be put on hold. The one thing that helped keep me sane during this time is miniature wargaming. I threw myself pretty hard into play-testing the second edition of Relic Knights, an anime themed skirmish game, where I play the Cerci Speed Circuit, a faction of gangsters, racers, mechanics and security forces from a planet devoted entirely to racing.

More recently, I picked up Warzone Resurrection, a new edition of the old Warzone game that was a spin-off of the Mutant Chronicles RPG. Thanks to my friend Evan knowing some people clearing out their collections, I managed to pick up a pretty good selection of second hand minis for the Bauhaus faction, one of the five Megacorporations that, in this setting, are more like sovereign states. Bauhaus are heavily based on Europe, particularly Prussia, with their basic troops, the Hussars, going so far as to wear Pickelhauben. This is a pretty common theme in Warzone, with three of the other Megacorps being similarly based on Earth cultures. Mishima are a mix of Asian cultures, though primarily Japan, with a lot of anime style mecha tropes worked in; Capitol are the USA via Doom and Fallout; and Imperial is split into two factions, with the Ministry of War representing the WWI and later British military forces, and the Wolfbane Clans having a theme that mixes Celtic warriors and mysticism with techno-punk. The other corporation is Cybertronic, the cyberpunk faction. To round out the game, there’s also the Brotherhood, a militant church group that act as the uniting force of humanity against the final faction, the Dark Legion, a group of inter-dimensional demons and monsters led by a group of five demigods known as the Dark Apostles.

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Book Review – Pathfinder Tales: Starspawn by Wendy N. Wagner

Wow. A month between updates… admittedly not the longest break I’ve taken, but not ideal. Especially when I’ve got so much I want to be talking about. Anyway, I’ll hopefully be making another post soon talking about my plans for the blog, so I won’t go into that now. But before I wade into today’s review, there’s something I wanted to mention quickly.

A while ago I got an email from MacMillan Audio asking if I’d like to feature some sample soundclips for the Pathfinder Tales audiobooks on the site. I’m a big fan of the novels, and of audiobooks in general, so of course I said yes… then promptly forgot to actually post them. They’re finally up now, so if you’re interested you can check out samples for (at time of posting) six of the books over on the sidebar. As more become available, I’ll update the playlist. I’m still trying to figure out if there’s a better way to display the player on the site, I want to keep it prominent, but it feels a bit squashed over there in the sidebar. I’ll keep working on it.

And with that done, we can get started on the review of the newest novel in the Pathfinder Tales series (and Wendy, I owe you a huge apology for taking so long with this one). I’m going to try to keep this one a bit shorter than my usual reviews, I think half the reason I take so long between posts is that my usual in-depth reviews take hours upon hours to write.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with an advance copy of this novel by the author for review purposes. This has in no way influenced my opinion of the work, and this review is a full, fair and honest accounting of my thoughts on it. The copy I received is an uncorrected proof, but I doubt there have been any significant changes between what I read and the final publication.

Pathfinder Tales: Starspawn

Wendy N. Wagner

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars (are right… I know, I know, it’s a terrible joke, but I couldn’t resist…)

Jendara prepares to slam an axe straight into the face of madness...

Jendara prepares to slam an axe straight into the face of madness…

From the Paizo.com blurb:

The Stars Are Wrong

Once a notorious pirate, Jendara has at last returned to the cold northern isles of her birth, ready to settle down and raise her young son. Yet when a mysterious tsunami wracks her island’s shore, she and her fearless crew must sail out to explore the strange island that’s risen from the sea floor. No sooner have they delved into the lost island’s alien structures than they find themselves competing with a monstrous cult eager to complete a dark ritual in those dripping halls. For something beyond all mortal comprehension has been dreaming on the sea floor. And it’s begun to wake up…

From Hugo Award winner Wendy N. Wagner comes a sword-swinging adventure in the tradition of H. P. Lovecraft, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

I’m pretty excited to be reviewing this one. Not only is it bringing one of my favourite settings (Pathfinder’s Golarion) together with Lovecraftian horror, but it’s also the sequel to the first book I ever reviewed on this site, Skinwalkers. Skinwalkers was a favourite of mine, and I’m pleased to say that Starspawn is more than living up to the expectations I had for it. Ms. Wagner has once again managed to craft an exciting and, at least as far as the Pathfinder Tales series goes, unusually dark fantasy thriller. It’s worth noting now that those coming in expecting a true Lovecraft-style horror story are going to be disappointed, in keeping with the heroic fantasy nature of the setting, this is very much a pulp action horror story, closer to a Robert E. Howard mythos tale than a traditional cosmic horror story. This is in no way a bad thing, I’ve got room in my life for all manner of Cthulhu Mythos stories (though I will admit to a somewhat irrational hatred of Brian Lumley’s Titus Crow series), it’s just worth mentioning for the die-hard Lovecraft purists who dislike any suggestion that humanity can do anything but cower before the inevitable doom brought by eldritch horrors.

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Blood Bowl 2 console players get shafted… (Warning: Profanity)

Hey guys. Just a quick update in order to help work out some anger regarding some downloadable content for Blood Bowl 2. I’m still working on my review for The Ninja Crusade RPG 2nd Edition by Third Eye Games, just taking a bit longer than planned thanks to work and the fact that I’m currently having to read it on my phone, which makes for slow going.

Anyway, onto the rant, which I decided to do in the form of an open letter to Cyanide Studio (the developers) and Focus Interactive (the publishers). Fair warning, there’s profanity aplenty.


An open letter to Cyanide Studio and Focus Interactive RE: Blood Bowl 2 DLC

Hi to whoever ends up reading this at either of the above companies (I’m hoping against hope that it actually makes it to at least one of you),

I’m a long time fan of Blood Bowl. I’ve sunk a stupid amount of time into the first game, and I play at least a few matches a week in Blood Bowl 2, so long as work and other commitments allow it. I’ve been really looking forward to the new teams, especially once I’d heard that hey, if you already owned the game when they came out, they were meant to be free. So I was super excited when I decided to check in and saw that the Norse had finally been released. Right up until I actually read the update. To quote the bit that concerns me:

To respect the PC players of the first Blood Bowl game, which accumulated 23 races through 3 paying editions – we have heard their frustration – we decided to create the FOUNDERS INCENTIVE for PC players of Blood Bowl 2: players will receive the Norse, the Undead, the Necromantic and the Nurgle teams for free, as long as they purchased the game before the races release.

I’m sorry, but “to respect PC players of the first game”? Fuck that noise. I’m one of those players. I’ve paid for every goddamn edition of that game on PC, even after I bought the console version and realised what a shitty game it was, because I was willing to trust that the PC version was better (which it was, though that’s not a very fucking high bar to set). I was running leagues up until last year when the last of my players jumped ship to Blood Bowl 2. So I got it on PS4 for a few reasons:

  • My PC wouldn’t have run it at any reasonable quality
  • My setup here is awful for PC gaming (I don’t have a desk or anything I can sit my keyboard and mouse on, making it a real hassle to play)
  • I knew I’d have some guaranteed opponents amongst friends who bought it on PS4

But hey, to hell with my loyalty to the series, I’m a filthy console gamer, so instead of getting the same teams to the PC players get for free, I’m expected, along with all the other console players, to pay out the arse for the teams. They’re over $10 AUD each here. By the time the 4 new teams are out, I’ll have had to shell out nearly $65 for them and the original two DLC teams. That’s a goddamn joke. I mean for fucks sake, if they’d at least been priced reasonably, I wouldn’t be anywhere near this angry. But I can fucking well buy brand new AAA games on day of release for what I’d have to pay to get these teams that you’re just handing out to PC players. I’m not kidding, I bought Doom and Uncharted 4 (one of the most highly anticipated games of the year) for less than $70 AUD each.

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RPG Review – WITCH: Fated Souls

So I realised a while ago that despite this being a primarily gaming focused blog, I’ve never actually reviewed a game on here. It seems like an odd oversight, and I figured it was about time I fixed it. I’ve got a stupid amount of RPGs I could review (seriously, I’m running out of space for them), but decided I’d start with one of the newer ones I’d picked up from a Kickstarter project.

Since it’s the first time I’ve reviewed a game, I’m still figuring out the format I want to use. I might change it up a bit over the new few reviews I’ve got planned. Anyway, with that out-of-the-way, let’s get this show on the road with my review of Angry Hamster Publishing’s first game…

WITCH: Fated Souls

Creator: Elizabeth Chaipraditkul

Publisher: Angry Hamster Publishing

Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Witch Cover

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