August 1, 2015

What a week it's been...

So made it through July without completely loosing my sanity, though will confess there were a couple points it was a near thing.

It's now the month of August, and I've made it through my first week in my new job.  I'm still with the same company, but I've finally been able to transfer out of the department that I've spent over a decade working in.  While the old job was steady, it had also become pretty mind-numbing in terms of routine; much like Jack Skellington I'd grown quite tired of the same routine day after day.  As for the new job, it's been a gradual start as there's various bits of access that I still need, but already there's been new challenges and next week's looking up to be quite interesting indeed.

On the downside, my personal computer is pretty much started to give up the ghost; I've joked with my long-time friend Linda that it's decided to take a page from her laptop (semi-affectionately dubbed HAL) in terms of not being very cooperative in working.  Had a lot of hassles getting into Windows, but I've got a work-around so that I can at least use the machine in the interim.  Now, I knew that a new computer was going to be on the horizon, as my current one quite a few years old and wasn't a top-line model when I got it; it was cheap and did what I needed it to do, so I can't complain too loudly.  I do have a new PC on order and en route courtesy of Dell, though FedEx is taking its sweet time in delivering it, but hopefully I'll have it on my doorstep by the middle of next week.

And speaking of FedEx, there's a reason I don't use them unless I've got zero other choices.  Dell's shipping options were FedEx or nothing, and an online gaming shop that I pre-ordered a book from also relies solely upon FedEx.  Well, in terms of that RPG book, it was shipped this past Tuesday and from what my tracking number says, it's not showing up until Thursday at best.  My new PC hasn't suffered any delays, but with the craptastic track record that FedEx has in terms of delivering my purchase, I'm half-expecting some kind of delay and that new PC to now show up until the week after next.

But, the week's not been all bad or all crazy.  Though it's a day late, I am enjoying a bit of Christmas in July, at least in terms of getting various goodies.

First of these was snagging my copy of the Force and Destiny core rulebook for Fantasy Flight Game's excellent Star Wars RPG.  I pretty much spent most of my evening poring through the book, enjoying the A+ artwork (which is pretty much standard with FFG products) as well as seeing what changed between the Beta+Updates and the final product.  The number of changes were pretty minor, with only the Protector spec getting a major revamp in terms of layout and Heal/Harm also being tweaked.  Sadly, the Shii-Cho Knight is still pretty much melee-only in terms of defensive traits, so it seems I'll still be employing my homebrew Shii-Cho Knight specialization.  But overall, I like the book and am really looking forward to kicking off a new brand new Force and Destiny campaign.  Most of the players have their characters ready to go, though we were mostly waiting for the FaD corebook to drop so we could see what tweaks would need to be made; luckily the careers and specializations selected didn't have any major changes that would impact the characters.

The new adventure in the back of the core rulebook was amusingly familiar, being quite similar to the Force and Destiny adventure that was being run at GenCon last year, although with some rather notable changes to make it more suitable for beginning characters.  It's also a nice contrast to the Beta adventure in that "Lessons from the Past" doesn't end with the PCs now having lightsabers, though they do get a nice resource at the adventure's conclusion that can be used to convey a bevy of plot hooks to a group.

I also picked up the GM Kit, and while the screen is nice, the main draw for me was the supplemental rules on lightsaber construction and discussion on Knight Level characters.  Truthfully, while nice I probably won't make use of the expanded lightsaber construction rules; the main quest in this system is more about the PC getting their crystal with the building of the lightsaber handled as more of a side element.  The adventure was kinda meh; not sure I'd ever run it for my upcoming campaign as-is, but I could always adapt it down the line.

Now a while back I'd backed the Kickstarter for a new edition of the classic RPG Feng Shui.  Sadly, I never really got the chance to play the game before, but simply loved how cool it looked and just the basic notion of an RPG that was meant to replicate the sort of things you'd expect to see in a Hong Kong martial arts flick as well an 80's action movie.  I did get a chance to play Feng Shui at this year's GamerNationCon, and while the dice weren't overly cooperative and my one-liners needed some work, I still had a lot of fun playing as the Maverick Cop.  I'm not sure if or when I'll have a chance to play or run this myself, but I may angle for at least a one-shot with either my Friday Skype group or my Saturday face-to-face group.  Well, the hardcover copy of Feng Shui 2 showed up yesterday, though I've not really gotten a chance to pour through.  I've got the PDF so I've got a pretty good idea of what's inside, but I just find reading the actual book so much more enjoyable than reading a PDF.

In similar news of hardcover RPG books, the copy of the Dragon Age RPG core rulebook arrived as well.  Now I've not touched Dragon Age in a while, so again this will probably be a "find time to sit down and read" to really get up to speed on what's changed in regards to the three box sets.  Of course, in a sense this RPG is already outdated as Green Ronin has released their Fantasy AGE system, an updated version of the rules used in Dragon Age.  Not sure when or if I'll pick that up, but since I was a backer for the AGE version of Blue Rose, I guess I'll get those newer rules one way or another.

But aside from the obvious capstone of getting the Force and Destiny books (let's face it, when it comes to RPGs, the fact that I am a major Star Wars nerd is going to very heavily flavor my preferences), earlier in the week I also got a very LARGE package courtesy of BigBadToyStore, something I'd ordered a while ago as kind of an early birthday present to myself.  Between computer issues and various RPG books, I'd not opened that box until this morning.  And inside was something that made my inner child grin with glee...

While my big fave amongst fandoms is and always will be Star Wars, a close second is Transformers.  I had a bunch of them growing up, and as an adult have picked up a whole bunch more from various product line ranging from the re-issues to the Classics to the movies (only a few though) to Masterpiece series and up to Combiner Wars, as well as a few 3rd party kits.  But one of the figures I'd never picked up was the Constructicons, mostly as I remember that they were pretty flimsy (a friend of mine had them) and you could tell that they were a first attempt at designing a combiner out of components that were themselves transforming robots.

But when combined, this version of Devastator is not flimsy and you can tell that Hasbro/Takara have learned a lot about designing figures for the Transformers series since the 80's.  Each individual Constructicon is a Voyager-class figure, meaning their big and frankly pretty beefy; I could see these guys standing up to actual play without much fear of breaking.  It also means that in their robot modes they generally dwarf the Deluxe line figures.

And the combined robot... yeah, this sucker is HUGE.  It's pretty sturdy, although the balance isn't perfect as the right leg is reliant upon Scrapper and the front scoop could very easily shift and cause the whole figure to go tumbling down.  Which given the price point is a pretty worrisome thought even to a very casual collector like me.  Were I an actual kid, this sucker would quite probably be the holy grail of potential gifts.  I put a LEGO mini-fig (a Clone Commander specifically) up next to Devastator, and the little clone trooper was absolutely dwarfed.  While I've not checked out much else of the Combiner Wars line (the figures are getting ridiculously expensive at this point), I have to say I'm pretty darn impressed with the quality of Devastator, both combined and in individual components.  It was a very pricy purchase (well over $100 bucks), but I think it was worth it.

Last but certainly not least, though it is kinda leaning into the week prior (but still part of July), I got to spend last Saturday evening enjoying dinner with my good friends Amy and Tiff, enjoying some very good sausage and ziti as well as finally playing a round of Betrayal at Haunted House on the Hill.  I've heard a lot of good things about the game, but just never got the chance to sit down and play.  We lost spectacularly once the Haunt came up, but it was still fun and many laughs were had, which is why people get together to game in the first place.

Well, that's enough yapping from me this time out.  I've got a series of Force and Destiny pre-gens that I'm going to be getting ready to post in the coming days, to commemorate the power of this fully armed and operational Star Wars role-playing game, so expect to see various posts next week.  I've also got a two groups of ready-made PCs for Age of Rebellion and Edge of the Empire, all set to be used in an extended campaign or pulled in for a single one-shot, so expect them as well later on.

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