Wednesday, April 15, 2015


In the coreward sector of the Chiron Outzone there shines a ruddy orange star around which limps a single rocky planet.  The star still bears the name CK230-HE11N0 in official charts, but the entire system was simply called Hellno by the unfortunate Human settlers who woke from their colony sleeper ship almost 300 years ago.  It is still called Hellno by those who live there now.
The rocky planet was low in mineral wealth, was perpetually cloud covered, was cold and drizzling. It sat far from any trade routes or potential sites of interest.  When translight travel became ubiquitous, and interstellar society opened for business, Hellno benefited little, as it found itself deep in a translight outzone and hidden behind the Prokofiev nebula. Given little choice, the colonists clung to this wet rock. Through hard work and the magitech of weather control and nano-replication they turned Hellno into a beautiful sustainable outpost on the edge of The Bleed.  Finally after many generations the residents had turned their efforts from survival to art and architecture and culture.  Their children inherited this new world and they lifted their eyes to the golden sky and looked outward with native pride.

Then came the war, and when it was over the ruddy star carried flecks of grey.  The magic machines began to fail and the clouds began to return.  So began the long slide back into the damp.

After 8 months in the deep Outer, the Snowball’s Chance arrived back in bleedspace.  The half starved crew gazed out at civilization once again and only had one thing to say.  

“Oh, Hell no…”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Returning to The Bleed.

I'm pretty happy to say I'm starting an Ashen Stars campaign on Google+.  Well more like restarting to the tabletop campaign I set ran last winter.  Ok, more like a reboot, but with some of the same characters and with nods to what happened in the past, but not depending on past information.   Well whatever - Ashen Stars wooo.

I'm going to try to use Roll20 for some of the stuff, especially for rolling dice and adding point spends vi the use of cards.  We quickly found in the tabletop run that using playing cards was the best way to add points to a die roll when doing challenges - especially for ship combat.  It was exciting and fast to for Gm and players to slide out the cards (sometimes other players would slid in an extra one if they were helping) then roll the dice and flip the cards over.  I have made a custom set of cards for this in Roll20 so we will see how it works.  I'm not really interested in using the virtual tabletop for minis or things but it might be useful for bringing up clues and images.

There is no character sheet for Ashen Stars but I did put in a request for one and someone did do a sheet for Trail of Cthulhu so hopefully someone can use that as a spring board.  In the meantime we will be using Pelgrane's The Black Book Gumshoe character creator to manage the sheets and storing them up on Google Plus for me to reference.  Old school  (well new-old school) but it works.

I also managed to get a copy of Accretion Disk which is available now even though they sure don't seem to be shouting about it.  The Pelgrane site  mentions this book is available for is a pre-order but I ordered it and got my copy of the PDF right away - the physical copy is probably still making it's way across the sea.  I really was waiting for this book to come out and it is a good resource.  I was a bit disappointed that there was not more campaign related material however.  The initial pitch mentioned different paths for a crew to take - more info for running traders, or criminals or explorer crew campaigns.  There does not seem to be which is a shame - but that doesn't mean the contents of the book are bad - just that it doesn't have that stuff which I really wanted.  I will try to do a review of it when I finally get the physical book - but quickly say it is well named in that there is good stuff and it adds to the existing rules but it's not an expansion of the rules.

I will be adding in my extra financial rule for lifestyle costs and we will be tracking ship mortgage on a spreadsheet.  I am looking for rules that flesh out Public Relations and Business Affairs skills to manage contracts and reputation, things to make money more interesting in the story without getting into inventory and cost tables.  This includes financial random events, mini jobs and trading and anything that will keep a crew hungry but not counting pennies.  I had some success with this in the previous run and think it adds to the game.

I am also trying to pick which combat rules we can include from the thriller combat rules for gumshoe.  One of the biggest complaints we had from the last time we played Trail of Cthulhu was when a player would spend points for a great hit and then roll a 1 for damage. Not very satisfying after paying for that spotlight.  This isn't so bad in Ashen Stars where there are stun settings and poppers -  but it still sucks.  We are thinking about using a suggestion to add in some of those points to the damage - or using a critical hit rule - or using fixed damage for lethal combat.  Well we are thinking about something anyway.

So much excite and all the good things.  I love this game and it will be good to play again.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Marvel Comics Unlimited

I always liked reading comics.  I was a DC guy myself, and I have a set of Crisis on Infinite Earths and a almost full run of Sandman and a bunch of bagged issues of Legion of Super Heroes.  When comics went digital I was interested in that format and read some on my tablet.  It was great - comics on a tablet are even better than comics on paper in my opinion.  But it was hard shelling out for them - graphic novels were expensive and single issues even more so.  It is possible to get comics online for free, but I really don't like the idea of reading comics without giving something back to the writers - be that feedback or money or whatever.  Without that feedback I feel, the comics I like won't get made, and the ones that did get made would be the gimmicky crap that sells.

I purchased a one year subscription to Marvel Unlimited for myself in December.  Marvel Unlimited is like the Netflix of comics.  You subscribe for around 9$ a month and then you get unlimited reading of a huge part of the Marvel library going back for many decades. This is a fantastic entertainment deal.  I had read Marvel comics before sure - I knew who Iron Man and Nick Fury and Thanos were long before they showed up in movies, but like I say I was much more familiar with the DC line.  Well aside from the Micronauts - I have a long run of Micronauts boxed and bagged still.

Since December I have read the fuck out of Marvel comics and I am really enjoying myself.     You cannot get better value for your money than this   In the last few months I've read about the Avengers Disassembling, about the Ultimate Universe, about the stupid Civil War and the better Siege. I am particularly enjoying reading the 2010 run of Thor right now and the excellent 2014 run of Hawkeye and the also can say enough about The Superior Foes of Spiderman.

Its true you don't get the new stuff with Marvel Unlimited -  they track about 6 months from the current releases so they don't cut into sales.  I get that.  I don't care though - its all new stuff to me and I wouldn't buy it anyway.  This way I actually read it and I do get my updates every week.  And I hope Marvel is doing what Netflix does and tracking what I read.  I hope they are smart enough to use that info and realize that She Hulk as a lawyer is interesting and that although I might read something once - the stuff I re-read is a valuable metric to note.  I hope it influences what books (and characters and movies) they green light in the future.  I hope that is somewhat valuable even if not as dramatic as the money they see from alternate covers and crappy 'Death of X' stories.

Now I just wish that Darkhorse and DC comics would figure this out.