Category Archives: #Discovery

Pulp Science Fiction Miniatures 2/2


And here’s some more of the same series.

Pulp Science Fiction Miniatures Project 1/2


I’ve been painting up a lot of retro pulp style Science Fiction miniatures in 28mm lately, as I’ve referred to in some previous posts.  I’m more of a fan of the Commander Cody/Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers style of retro SF, personally.  Collecting figures in this very narrow niche can be a challenge.  I’m going to post two posts of Youtube videos I recently posted that give an overview of what I’ve been working on. I usually post verbiage and still pictures, but what the heck, this might be fun to do as an alternative (occasionally).

Here’s 1 of 2.

Naturally Disastrous First Look


Here you go, I just received the first production copy of Naturally Disastrous by Silver Lake Games. This is a recent funded Kickstarter.

The premise, as promised by the designer, reads like so:

Naturally Disastrous is a 1-6 player co-operative dice driven game of peril and adventure. Your mission is simple enough. Arrive at your destination, verify the conditions and then set up a long range communication array to deliver your findings back to your superiors. Easy, right? Your visit to Earth is supposed to just be a quick investigation into how the planet is doing.

As you enter the atmosphere massively destructive storms make it hard to navigate. Giant volcanoes, earthquakes, thermal gas explosions and flooding are rampant and tearing the Earth apart and what happens next? You and your crew are shot at by some natives claiming that you are violating their air space. As your ship tears itself apart and plummets to the desert floor you know that your only chance of survival will be to pick up the pieces of your communications array that are now conveniently scattered across the driest most self-destructing climate you have ever seen.

All you have to do is find and set up the four parts of the communications array and signal the mother ship to come heal this planet and get you out of here. You will have to navigate around the perilous hazards, avoid snipers who want you gone, secret agents who are stealing your technology, crazy mad scientists who want to perform experiments on you, and a completely different alien race who may even abduct you. Work together efficiently as a team and you will avoid a Naturally Disastrous fate! If you become mutated, you turn against your former allies.

The game is played on a randomized map, with randomly placed tokens. Each turn, the active player must roll to activate a disaster, and then has 3 actions per turn (move, probe, etc.) Combat is resolved with dice. As each part of the communications array is found, it must be transported to one of the corners of the map.  — From Boardgamegeek, “Description”

So my take on this is that this will be a game from the alien’s point of view, a sort of “Forbidden Island” without the sinking part of it.. maybe.  Anyway, we’re going to find that out as I will be playing it against actual humans in the next two weeks or so.  In the meantime, here is my reactions to an actual unboxing– literally the day after receiving it, so I have no idea of what the contents are.

Enjoy, and I apologize for the somewhat shaky Ipad camera. Most of my gear is packed away while my house is being rebuilt. I should get an Ipad stand, as I definitely needed two hands for this thing.

Dark Stories, a hint of childhood pursuits one card at a time #Discovery 4


A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he wakes up, gets dressed, eats, goes to the elevator, takes it down to the lobby, and leaves the building for work. In the evening, he goes through the lobby to the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator (or if it was raining that day) he goes back to his floor directly.

However, if there is nobody else in the elevator and it hasn’t rained, he goes to the 10th floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his room. Why?

The man is a midget. He can’t reach the upper elevator buttons, but he can ask people to push them for him. He can also push them with his umbrella.

If you grew up in America in the 70s and 80s, and went to Scholastic Book Fairs at your school, you probably recognize the little mystery vignette above. It (and hundreds of others) were compiled in a series of kids books called (usually) One Minute Mysteries or something like that. They weren’t published by just one publisher and the format changed over the years.  These were books that presented a vignette to the young reader, presenting only the information that he or she could read on the page.  They then had to arrive at the solution to the problem presented, given what they knew or could infer.   The little 10 year old me loved these, and bought many at book fairs or used book stores.   Of course, I was sharp enough to know the authors were trying to be educational, but they did it in a very entertaining way.

Flash forward.  I’m in a FLGS in Falls Church, VA a couple of weeks ago  (shout out to the Compleat Strategist).  I am browsing by the check out counter, just being there to pick up some card boxes and some Armada dice.  I see a box called DARK STORIES.  This is a Z-Man Games reprint of a much older (circa 2004) German game called BLACK STORIES*.  The premise of the card game is pretty simple– this isn’t a game per se, it’s an activity.  On one side of an illustrated card, the card leads you through a description of a vignette.  On the reverse, the card describes the story behind the vignette.  The “Stories” that are created are really a rehash of a classic “one minute mystery” for a modern age– and this version is designed to be interactive.  You get a series of facts, plus a moderately helpful illustration.   One person plays the role of moderator– this is pretty crucial as a role.  The other people are detectives.  The moderator answers questions with a firm YES or NO, but not anything else.  I added “IRRELEVANT” after watching a Youtube review later (this helps people from going down blind alleys and useless tangents).  I sometimes will also add “THE CARD DOES NOT SPECIFY THIS, BUT I INTERPRET THE ANSWER THIS WAY BASED ON WHAT I KNOW”.    That’s actually a bit of gamesmanship, it’s a lot more impressive than saying “Man, you got me, it doesn’t say!


I’m being coy and showing the French version of the cards, I don’t want to spoil anything.  If you’re French, whoops! Sorry, Frenchies.

My experience with Dark Stories so far has been overwhelmingly positive.  We have only played three cards so far, and I find it is perfect for a short drive somewhere local.  One card alone provides almost an hour’s worth of entertainment.  I have older kids, but they enjoyed it tremendously– they love puzzles as much as I do.  The material is far more adult and “darker” then the one minute mysteries of my childhood, but very well written and engaging problems.  So far.  I have to admit I have exerted self control and NOT read them all the way through, to prevent spoilers for myself (and by extension,  you!).   My family likes games like this, with a small footprint and maximum mental participation from everyone.  I wouldn’t recommend it for very small children (younger than 12, perhaps, it depends on the child), as there are some very dark subjects on the cards, murder being a recurring one.   If you can get past that, you’ll really enjoy Dark Stories if you love mysteries and logic puzzles.

At 9.95 a box and a little under an hour a card, that’s a lot of entertainment crammed into a tiny space.  There are at least 3 expansions, apparently each with 50 cards included.

* The original title was “Black Stories”, under the original German publisher, Moses.

Reblog: Antideluvian Miniatures Fantasy Range (#Discovery: 3)


I’m reblogging (below) which I do rarely, but that’s just to capture the page information, which doesn’t say much.

The Manufacturer: Antideluvian Miniatures.
The Range: “Pirates” (ahem, cough cough)
The Particulars: well, see for yourself…





Okay, nerds. I don’t think I need to ask “Who do these remind you of”? The Sad News is the company, Antideluvian, is sold OUT at the moment. The Good News is this is temporary: “we’ll announce on facebook and here, more have been ordered! Thankyou for your interest”

For more information, follow the link I reblogged below!

This range is currently being created, More splendid miniatures will be added regularily. see below for details and to buy ( all models supplied unassembled and unpainted );  FANTASY RANGE  Zorgan …

Source: SHOP – Fantasy Range

Quill: A letter writing..erm..game? Discovery Series #2


QUILL: A letter-writing game for single players
by Scott Malthouse
available on DrivethruRPG (and presumably direct from Mr. Malthouse)

Quill is a short little game (available as a PDF only, I think) that defies easy description. It categorizes itself as being an “roleplaying game”. In the strictest sense, that’s certainly true. Players assume a role (there are six of them), the roles have statistics associated with them, the statistics have lower or higher number to judge successful attempts at doing something in a RPG setting, and there are actual skills that increase your chances of success as a bonus versus rolling against our statistics.

That is about where the similarity to any conventional RPG you are familiar with ends. Quill is a game about writing letters. Letters in Quill are very rigid and formalized exercises and they are written to achieve an outcome, which is defined by the scenarios provided with the game. Letters are the sole means of determining success or failure in this game– characters only are used to create letters. To give an example of “a character”, a Quill player may choose one of six– say, a Monk. Monks have statistics (there are only three in the game: Penmanship, Language, and Heart). The character’s statistics are pre-defined, so the monk has Good Penmanship, Average Language and Poor “Heart”. Our monk is also chooses a skill in Augmentation to bump up his poor “Heart” Skill (This will grant him +1 dice to a “Heart Test”).

The monk receives the scenario, which gives him his “Superior Words” (high scoring words) for his letter. He must write a five paragraph letter (always) to some person. Using my first example of playing Quill, in the fourth scenario, the task is to write to King Gerald V. The Monk is now corresponding with the King (known to be a bit of a sourpuss) on account of a suspicious person that has been seen lurking about town– he might be a spy! You have an “ink pot” full of words you need to use to bump your score up. There are several, like “Your Majesty”, Smith/Blacksmith, Curious Individual, etc. etc.

My monk sets himself to the task. Superior words in bold.

Gracious Majesty, King Gerald V,
from the Abbey of Beresford, I send you greetings.

Your Majesty, I beg pardon any intrusion of my humble self into the weighty matters of state might cause, but I felt compelled to write you out of concern for the security of the kingdome. For the past two fortnights there has been curious individual loitering about Beresford Common, his manner is sly and retiring, but there is something about him that I find worrying in my soul. He is a sneaky fellow of ill aspect named Roger Calloway, late arrived as a laborer in a merchant caravan, but he has stayed in town a week after market day, which has caused suspicion.

Calloway is hardly an imposing man, but buggered of face and possessing a furry lip that he allows to droop down and conceal his aspect to great effect. It is hard to see what he is thinking. I have often seen him walking about the Common and visiting the market place and various shoppes about town, all the while making notes on pieces of parchment he keeps concealed on his person.

This behavior may seem innocent in its face; certainly listing prices for hemp and cordage or a pound of ha’penny nails is not an ill deed akin to dropping deadly nightshade into the village fountain, but it does beg the question: why? What advantage could be gained from this information? One can only speculate, and of course mention the matter to wiser heads such as yours.

My theory is that he might be an agent from a trading cartel in Holland or Flanders, and he is here posing as an Englishman to keep an eye on products and prices compared to Continental markets. The advantages in trade would of course be obvious to your Majesty, and acted on should you decide to act. I am unlettered in the matters of law and trade, and do not know what the consequences of apprehending this individual might be.

Calloway keeps his own counsel and consorts with nobody I have seen, although I have seen him loitering at the Smithy kept by Will Ramsay, also on the commons. Their friendship, it that may be the word for it, does seem strained. I saw them have words the other night and Calloway left the forge in a hurry, with Ramsay following behind, red-faced, his hand raised as if to strike him. I made no further inquiries into this matter, deciding there and then to bring it to your Majesty’s kind attention.

I trust I have been of some service in this matter, which I hope is really nothing to find alarming— but one may never know.

Your humble servant,
Roger, Assistant Abbot, Abbey of Beresford

(actual letter, my first time playing)

Let’s “score this letter” in game terms– this is the next part of the “RPG”.

My Monk’s stats are: Penmanship: Good (3D6) , Language: Average (2D6), Heart: Poor (1D6).
For every Superior Word, add 1 point.
(He has augmentation in reserve for Heart checks, once per scenario)

Rolling Language for each Superior Word I attempted to use: I hit on a 5 or 6, 4 times for 4 points.
I didn’t really “get” flourishes (using the HEART skill) as equating to using adjectives, so there are not many in the above letter directed towards Superior Words. I will fudge a little and say “Gracious Majesty” is one, and roll 1D6 for Heart, and use my Augmentation skill to add a dice. Once. Miraculously, I get a 5 and a 6., for 2 points.
Next is Penmanship. My Monk has GOOD penmanship, so I hope to clear up, with five rolls of 3 dice: for a score of 5 more.

Totaling it all up, I get 4 + 2 + 5 for 11 points on this letter. According to the scenario outcome, my result is:

11+ points: The King writes you personally, with great thanks. He has positioned his guard close by and the spy will be caught. You are invited to the King’s court as a guest, and a hero.

Not bad, not bad at all. I might have done better with more flourishes, but I did end up using my Augmentation Skill to great effect, which got me the best result possible.

Okay, so all this is pretty amusing and creative, but…..

Well, it’s not really a RPG, is it? You run a character but it’s not really a role-playing exercise. Your only interaction with a character is with an off-board NPC, and it is in the form of a letter. You don’t really make a lot of decisions above and beyond choosing how to use Superior Words in a letter. Writing a letter is a fun creative exercise, and I was impressed that I could easily make up a narrative thread to encompass all (or most of) the Superior Words in my Scenario.

Summary: So what is Quill? Perhaps an interesting classroom exercise developed by a creative instructor, who said to himself “Hey, self, this could be an RPG with a little polish!”. It feels like it is a fragment of something larger to me. The game’s theme is a thin patina indeed, and might improve with some expansion material in a follow up. Quill is amusing, EXTREMELY affordable, and a lot of fun. It will not bear up to repeated plays before becoming a bit tedious. Until then, it’s quirky and interesting, and worth a look. At the asking price, you can forget what you paid for it easily if you want. Enjoy!