Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mass Combat: Scouting

Before armies meet in combat they often maneuver around the battlefield aiming to gain advantageous ground, stall the engagement to wait for reinforcements, or force an engagement at an advantageous time.

Scouting Checks

At the start of each day have all armies in the region make an opposed scouting check. Roll 1d20 and add the leader’s Perception or Profession (Soldier) skill (whichever is higher). If there are multiple armies on the field severing under the same general, a single check using the General’s Perception skill or Leadership score.

The army (or armies) with the highest roll have won the scouting conflict and gained information to allow them to outmaneuver their opponents. Armies who have lost must choose to move on the hex map first. After this, armies who have won the scouting roll can choose to move.

Joining Combat

When two or more opposing armies move into the same square they can join combat and begin the battle. The army which won the Scouting contest can choose to join combat, or to move out of the square and retreat without penalty. Armies which have lost can only retreat by using the withdraw tactic on or after the first turn of combat.

Tactical Advantage

The Army which has won the Scouting phase gains a tactical advantage in the first several rounds of combat. Whether they moved into and joined combat with the opposing force or by standing ground and defending they gain a +1 bonus for a number of rounds equal to the commanders Leadership divided by 4 (to a maximum of 5 rounds). If the commander has a leadership score of 12 or higher, this increases to +2. If the army advanced this bonus applies to their OM. If the army held ground and allowed the opposing force to join this bonus applies to their DV.

New Leader Boon:

Scoutmaster: The commander adds 2 to Scouting rolls for armies they lead.

Expanded Army Special Ability:

Track (Inquisitor 2, Ranger 1): The army adds its ACR to Morale checks to prevent an army from using the withdraw tactic and to its DV to prevent ambushes. It reduces the damage it deals in fog by one quarter instead of one half. In addition, the Army adds half its ACR to Scouting checks.

This post contains Pathfinder Compatible Material

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Murder on the Rails: Monster Hunters Adventure Released

I am pleased to announce that my first published RPG product was published this week.  I will talk about this some more and my experience working on it in a future reflection post, but I would encourage everyone to check this out.

Big thanks to David Cafee and Robert Hemminger for giving me this chance and bringing me in as a writer on this project.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/145972/Murder-on-the-Rails-a-Monster-Hunters-Adventure

Album of the Year:1982

If Kanye West’s repeated interrupting act has taught us anything, it is that the Grammy’s (and nearly every other source for such kind of praise) often get the Album of the Year wrong in many of our estimations. But what exactly does make something the Album of the Year? The best album? Most popular?  Most meaningful? Some combination of those?

Its all pretty subjective. Sure Kanye, we get it– you always think Beyonce had the best album/video/song. But most of us have varying tastes (Taylor Swift yes, Beck not so much). So I have decided to go through my entire life and declare my own album of the year.

This won’t be a consensus best album, or rated on anything save my own enjoyment of and experience with the album.  I’ll hit on some of the anecdotes of my reasons and do a general once over the nominees. The selection committee and the voting body are both numbered in the singular. This is my list after all.

So, as in most cases I prefer to start, at the beginning, which in this case is 1982 the year of my birth. The early years I didn’t encounter these albums until much later

Album of the Year: 1982

Forever Now The Psychedelic Furs– slick, talky album features great 80s synths, cool syncopated mallet sounds, and Richard Butler’s cooing growl. The title track and lead single “Love My Way” start the album off with a blast, and the second side is headline by “President Gas” a subversive saxophone fueled anti-President Reagan anthem. “Run and Run” follows it up with another strong effort. I discovered this gem on vinyl at Goodwill sometime in my late junior high/ early high school years. Its not coincidental that the four best songs are 1-2 on each side respectively, while the other 6 tracks somewhat flounder or fail to impress, and I’m not sure that finding this album on spotify or CD would have had as profound an effect as it did in its original vinyl glory. Forever Now  showed me what synths were before the digital age, and the Psychodelic Furs are one of the lost gems of the late 70s/early 80s that don’t get the credit or the listening time they truly deserve.

Runner Up: Rio Duran Duran– peak Duran Duran with both the title track and “Hungry Like the Wolf”, my second hand copy of this CD got a lot of play. Through a lot of my life Duran Duran has been seen as somewhat of a punchline, but they had a lot of hits– great catchy songs and whether you realize it or not if you are around my age you probably know at least three of their songs. (Some combination of “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “The Reflex”, “Ordinary World”, and “Notorious”) But Duran Duran was always more of a singles band, and Rio falls just short for my 1982 spot.

Album of the year 1983:

Violent Femmes Violent Femmes– The Violent Femmes debut is a seminal album for me and a lot of others I’m sure. My best friend Devin and I listened to the CD version of this for hours while playing Killer Instinct Gold on the Nintendo 64 and hanging out at the park for hours on end. The simplicity of the guitar/snare/vocals combination, the nasally intonation of Gordan Gano’s lyrics, and above all else the songwriting– “Blister in the Sun”, “Kiss Off”, and “Add it Up” still stand as three of the best songs I’ve ever heard. The album was pure ecstasy for pre-teen angst– just edgy enough to excite, but just acceptable enough to be picked up at a time when we still needed our parents to buy the records.  Violent Femmes is one of the albums that I credit with my deep dive into true music nerd territory that lasted through at least all of high school and persists in small part to this day.

Runner up: Power, Corruption, and Lies New Order– drippy new age synth instrumentals dominate this early New Order album– not their pinnacle but a strong effort from the long lived band that is highlighted by the original version of “Blue Monday”.

Album of the Year 1984: 

Ride the Lightning Metallica: One of the very early forays I made into heavy music came in the form of this early Metallica album. The fact that I discovered this in the mid 90s, just in time for LoadReload, and then Garage Inc to come out meant that this was also one of my very early forays into watching the pathetic decline of artists who I had a certain fondness for. The staccato screams of “Fight Fire With Fire” are the pinnacle of this band for me, and this album marks the clear line of demarcation– Metallica before Ride the Lightning?  Good. Metallica after Ride the Lightning? Bad.  Well, 2/10 isn’t bad, right?

Runner Up: Purple Rain Prince and the Revolution: The classic Prince movie soundtrack gets some points knocked off in the final estimation because I’ve to this day never listened to this album. But I had a copy of the movie I recorded off Starz complete with introduction by Leonard Maltin that I would watch on my VCR and 13 inch TV in my bedroom at home. None of the words in that last sentence make sense to half of you right now, so I think its time to quit while I’m ahead.

I am putting up a spotify playlist to go along with each of these, feel free to listen to my selections at your own leisure, comment, pick apart my bizarre combination of choices, or suggest what albums were meaningful to you.

Mother, Daughter, and the Bold Scout

Maba stared into the eyes of Dread Anna. He stood nearly on tip-paws, trying to bring himself to her height, his lip quivering as he stared into the eyes of the greatest hero and worst villain both in the history of the Peshga tribe, no in all the history of the Parua.

Maba knew he had a choice to make– he could walk away now, could stay safe from the ire of Dread Dead Anna, but he knew that if he did, the Peshga Tribe was doomed. Silently he prayed to Padaga for courage, then spoke, channeling the bold forebears who had come before him, from the first mouse who pulled the thorn from Padaga’s foot don to the strongest and bravest of the gigants.

Then he opened his mouth and spoke. “You won’t leave me here in the Sill. You won’t hop off on your own business or go on ahead to the story circle. You would never abandon the Peshga tribe in a time of true need, and–”

Annika snatched the younger Parua by the nape of his neck, hefting him off the ground by an inch, the muscles in the thin hand straining as she pulled him close, “What makes you think I’d consider this a time of true need? Mercenaries? Rezgari mercenaries I suppose?”

Maba nodded.

“You mean to tell me Old One Eye, that salty Pitr whose built his career robbing caravans and guarding them in turns means suddenly to make a brazen assault instead? Him who prefers to be bought out of any assault he has been bought into? It was the Rezgari double cross, after all.”

“Old One Eye is out. The Rezgari have a new leader.” Maba peeled her fingers apart, restoring himself to his feet, steeling his courage against his fears, “You haven’t heard?”

“No. Who is this new leader then?”

Maba looked once more into the eyes of the famed Peshga heroine, “She came upon the Rezgari on the edges of the wastes two years back, or so the story is told. She put Old One Eye’s head on a pike, poked out the eye that remained. The Rezgari answer to her now, and to her lieutenant, formerly of the Pingara, a human man known as the Bane of Backalore.”

Annie’s eyes narrowed at the name. “Someone has brought the Bane to heel?” Maba nodded. “This woman, who killed One Eye, cowed the Bane, and rules the Rezgari then, who is she?”

“No one knows her true name. But she is called the Gray Queen.”

Even Mitzia shuddered as the scout uttered the words.