It’s been one of those weeks around here, hobby-wise and otherwise. I overdid a black wash on the Armstrong-Whitworth armoured car and am having to redo a significant amount of the basic green painting, the top wing of that Nieuport for the Bolshevik forces won’t damn well stay attached, and real life has been busy. Oh, and I’m getting ready to build a new computer and replace my nearly-seven-year old desktop, so much time has gone into planning and buying stuff for that.
So here’s a blast from the past. This was one of the first big pulp games we ever ran, a five- or six-player gongshow with several groups of competing explorers, spies, Neanderthals, cannibals and dinosaurs. Cultists and giant apes, too. Damsels in distress, doomsday devices, villains both outright dastardly and simply misunderstood but noble, every pulp trope you can think of packed into a huge 9’x5′ table. The game predated the rebuilding and rebirth of this website, so it never got written up here.
These figures are by a gaming buddy, I can’t recall exactly, but I think they’re Lord of the Ring GW figures repurposed as cannibals. The gorge and rope bridge piece was built by another friend, and haver appeared in several games since.
These are my unofficial draft versions of character sheets for Rattrap’s .45 Adventure 2nd Edition; they use a vaguely period typewriter font for a somewhat pulpish look, and while the layout is still a work in progress they take up less space than the 1st Edition sheets.
Back in October 2009, near the beginning of this pulp craze of ours, I ran a game I called “Jurassic Pulp”, inspired by that T Rex vs SUV chase scene in the original Jurassic Park movie. We used Model Ts instead of SUVs, though, and they’re just a bit more fragile than a modern SUV. T Rex hasn’t changed, though!
A fairly complete report on that first game can be found over on Lead Adventure, including some post-game ideas from both Corey and I.
Another review of .45 Adventures 2nd Edition has come out, this one in The Ancible #9, a free-to-download PDF magazine.
I hadn’t actually grabbed a copy of The Ancible before, I have to admit. It started as a “real” paper magazine, I’m pretty sure, and when it switched to free PDFs I missed the memo! It bills itself as “a full colour digital magazine that specilises in the field of Science Fiction and fantasy wargaming” and it delivers — besides the 45A2e review in this edition there’s a long review & painting article on some giant Warmachine war wagon, a review of the new Battletech box set, another review of Heavy Gear: Arena, some interviews (great conversions in the interview with the Frenchwoman!) and a lot of advertising for all sorts of conventions, companies and such. Well worth checking out, I shall have to start grabbing the back issues and seeing what I missed.
The 45A2e review is longer than mine, with a nice introduction to the pulp gaming genre and more detail on specific game mechanics and such than mine. Go check it out, and the rest of The Ancible. Well worth it.
Rattrap Productions released the much-anticipated 2nd Edition of their .45 Adventures pulp adventure rules a few weeks ago, I received my copy of the full rules last week, and I’ve already run one convention game and several small private test games with the demo rules before even getting the full rules.
The PDF version should be out shortly too, as Rattrap generally releases the PDF version about a month after the initial print release. (Edit to add: the PDF version is out today.)
This review is mostly aimed at folks who have some familiarity with the 1st Edition of 45A, but it should be general enough to give those of you with no experience at all with the system an idea of how it works. Note that throughout this review I’ve used “45A1e” and “45A2e” for 1st & 2nd Edition respectively; this is a bit of a D&D-ism but useful shorthand!
So What’s Changed?
The most obvious change from 45A1e to 45A2e is the “fistfuls of d10” change. Instead of the previous version’s “1d10 + Stat +/- modifiers”, 2e is almost always “1d10 + stat +/- extra d10s depending on skills or circumstance”. You pick the best of the rolls if you’re rolling multiple d10. In practice, this seems to work out at around 3d10 per attack roll and 1d10 or 2d10 for the defender most of the time, so while you might need a few extra d10 for larger games, just to keep things moving, it’s not a really serious “fistfuls of dice” game the way Full Thrust or some of the GW games are!
Almost all the rules from 45A1e now in the one new 45A2e book. Basic gangsters, cops, crime-fighters, military, super science & robots, safari characters, all in one cover, along with all the skills. This alone makes character creation much easier, as the archetypes, skills and special rules aren’t spread over half a dozen books anymore! The campaign rules and New Commerce City background material have been rolled into the main rulebook as well.
Character creation is also massively streamlined. Rather than lists of specific skills available to specific archetypes, the archetypes have different numbers of skills they can take per skill category, and all the skills are now slotted into one of these 11 categories. This will also make integrating future supplements and releases easier!
Weapons are no longer purchased as part of a character’s basic build. Instead, they’re purchased per-scenario using Equipment Points. This means, among other things, that Grade 1 & 2 characters can often take more Special Abilities than before, as they’re not having a significant part of their available Special Ability count taken up with weaponry. (Giving a Grade 1 flunky a tommy gun used to soak up 3 of their 4 available Ability slots in 45A1e, now a Grade 1 can actually have four skills and the gun!)
What’s Brand New?
The whole Occult section is new, with rules for various Cthulhu-esque creatures, cultists and goings on, spells, artifacts and such. I haven’t had a chance to use these in play yet, but they look entertaining.
The entire Special Abilities/Skills list has been rewritten and consolidated. There’s a bunch of new or replacement skills, some duplicated stuff removed, and a rather elegant hierarchy of skills has been implemented for a few areas.
A couple of my favourite archetypes from 45A1e didn’t make it into 45A2e, namely the Foreign Agent & Professor archetypes. On the other tentacle, the G-Man archetype should encompass the old Foreign Agent one quite well, and there is now an archetype creation formula so you can roll your own if you really want to.
The archetype creation rules were much requested for 45A1e, so it’s great to see them included with 2e. I haven’t really played with them yet, but a read-through and examination of how the included archetypes are assembled lead me to think the creation rules should work just fine. (the stock archetypes included in the rules appear to have been built using the actual archetype creation rules as presented, which is always a good sign!)
Weaponry, as mentioned above, is no longer bought as part of a character’s build process, but instead it’s done using Equipment Points which can change on a per-scenario basis. This gives players and GMs greater flexibility – you can restrict weapons in a scenario without players feeling like they’ve “wasted” a lot of a character’s build options, control the amount of firepower on the table, etc. The Equipment List also encompasses a lot of non-weaponry equipment, too, things that might be useful in certain scenarios like flashlights, ropes or even multi-language translating dictionaries.
The Super Science & Occult equipment is controlled the same way, with seperate Super Science & Occult Equipment Points. Certain archetypes give bonuses to various of these Equipment Points totals – the Military Officer gets +10 Equipment Points, the Witch Doctor +10 Occult Points, for example.
A Few Issues
Typos and grammar errors! There’s a typo in the Table of Contents (“Resaerch” instead of “Research”) that should have been caught by a simple spellchecker (not the only time I noticed this in the book) and a few grammar glitches (its/it’s, that sort of thing) recurring. None of them that I’ve noticed so far occur where they’d cause rules ambiguity or misinterpretation, at least.
(Corey’s interjection: Amongst the many jobs I do, I am a part-time writer and copy-editor, so the mistakes in the book, especially with regards to the lack of a style guide, really bug me, to the point where I had to put down the book and walk away at one point. Sorry Rich. )(Brian’s re-interjection: Unless you’re a hardass about editing, the concerns I noted in the previous paragraph really aren’t showstoppers…)
There are a number of layout glitches that make some things hard to read than they should be, especially when searching quickly for a specific rule or skill. One example is the lack of differentiation between sub-section headings (just made using bold text) and some lists, some of which use bold to make their titles stand out and some of which don’t. The Special Abilities Lists are easy to read, but the similar Robot Upgrades List re-uses bold text for two different things (sub-section headers and upgrade titles). A second style for those sub-section headers would make some sections of the book much easier to scan, especially in mid-game when you’ve had to pause the action to clarify a rule.
Beyond layout and grammar, as I said above, some of the old 45A1e archetypes haven’t made the cut. There’s also a few toys and weapons missing, but for ordinary games that’s not going to be a huge concern, as the most notable missing weapons are the Light & Medium Machine Guns from the Amazing War Stories military supplement, hardly common weapons in typical 45A games!
These are all very minor issues, though. The new character stat/wound boxes are far more compact than the old ones, so it should be possible to get more characters onto less paper now – and less paper in front of players during a game is rarely a bad thing!
The new “fistfuls of d10” combat/skills system runs faster on the table. Characters move faster, Grade Ones (the mooks, thugs, extras, Privates and redshirts of the factions) die quicker while Grade Threes (the Stars!) are a bit tougher but not hugely so. It’s entirely in keeping with the heroic/cinematic traditions of pulp that major characters should be able to plow through crowds of extras, anyway!
So, the final verdict? .45 Adventures 2nd Edition is just as detailed, playable and flavourful as the old, but the new system is faster, leaner and pulpier.
Streamlined, in fact. Very pulp-era thing to do, actually!
Took a fair number of photos while having a great time attending Trumpeter Salute 2011 this last weekend, and a surprising number of them actually turned out good!
Here’s a narrated photo tour of Trumpeter Salute from my point of view.
“Zombies vs Ninjas vs Robots vs Pirates” — what’s not to love? I have to admit I missed this one, but just the title alone is a hoot. The Lego Wars guys are awesome.
Darkest Africa, in a very pulpish scenario: Col. Kurtz of the Belgian Force Publique has gone insane and is attempting, with some allied/coerced native tribal allies, to invade the rest of Africa. The British with Zanzibari & Masai allies move in to attempt to put him down. I played one of the Belgian tribal allies – the one who survived the game, as the allied tribe on the Belgian’s other flank got shot to pieces by the Brits then chopped up by the Masai before the Belgians broke the British and Masai with rifle fire. The Zanzibari spent most of the game hacking through the jungle on a long flank march, and arrived just in time to let the Belgians and my tribe march off in exchange for being allowed to loot the battlefield!
The climax of the Darkest Africa game – the outnumbered Belgians, one flanking allied tribe destroyed, form “knot” (like a square, but tiny) to fend off a whole heap of swarming Masai. It’s touch and go for two turns of desperate combat as the Masai swarm the knot, but they’re fended off long enough for the Belgian unit to re-form a firing line and blow the Masai back into the jungle with rifle fire…
This awesome harbour was part of a WW2 15mm game that I didn’t play, but it was too good not to get photos of. The flaklighter ship was out cruising up and down the beach during the game, too, attempting to fend off the Allied attack coming from the land side.
Another eye-catching game I didn’t play, just got this nice shot of. It’s Uncle Mike’s Strange Aeons horror/pulp/Cthulhu adventure skirmish game, on his very nice (and double-sided!) portable 2’x3′ gaming board.
Finally, one last shot of my own Amulet of Fire game! This is the river end of the 2’x4′ jungle board for Chapter One of Amulet, with Corey’s steamship alongside my dock, and jungle tracks leading off to the mission station and further into the jungle! The Amulet game went well, despite not having the time to get over to Chapter Two on the mesa itself. The 2nd Edition of .45 Adventures is a good bit faster and more streamlined than 1st Edition was, especially with things like vehicles on the table.
I’ll be rewriting Amulet’s characters again, both for slight balance tweaks and because in last week’s hasty pre-con conversion of 1st Ed characters over to 2nd I flat-out copy-n-pasted several characters around, changing only names, and the scenario deserves better than that!
Already looking forward to Trumpeter Salute 2012! Perhaps I’ll do a pulpish end of the world type scenario, to go along with all the 2012 End Times horsecrap?
Just a very short post to say Trumpeter Salute was awesome, lots of fun games and great people. Good to see friends and regulars again, and meet new people.
I ran Amulet for a full group of six players, using the .45 Adventure 2nd Edition demo rules. The game went well but we never actually got near the mesa (Chapter Two) because although 2nd Ed does flow faster than 1st did, I put too many figures on the table.
Sorting photos now, will have a longer post tomorrow probably with lots and lots of photos, a list of my goodie haul (extensive!) and more!
Amulet of Fire characters all converted to .45A 2nd Edition. With a certain amount of cut’n’paste magic in Open Office, but whatever. Grade One mooks & goons are all alike anyway, right?
I usually try not to do this, but lack of time has forced my hand. I’m planning on re-re-building all the cut’n’paste victims at leisure post-Trumpeter, though. Needs must when working seven day weeks, attempting to keep up with LPL, and getting ready for a convention!
Beer. Bed. Work tomorrow, then packing for Trumpeter, then Trumpeter starting Friday afternoon.
Alongside the Lead Painters League over on LAF, the other thing keeping me amused this week is getting ready for Trumpeter Salute 2011 over in Vancouver (well, Burnaby, really, but close enough…) this weekend! Trumpeter is the region’s “big” gaming convention, really, at least on the Canadian side of the border. This will be my third visit in four years, and it’s always a highlight of my gaming year!
I’ll be running Amulet of Fire again, going over with a friend who has space in his car for the mesa and other stuff needed for it.
I’ve (possibly foolishly…) promised to run Amulet in the barely-just-released 2nd Edition of .45 Adventures, so I’m busy tonight rebuilding all 30 or so characters for all six teams of Amulet. I’d say “converting”, but really 45A 2nd Ed has a different enough character & skill system that I’m rebuilding! Some interesting differences between the new and old versions; must do a full review here of 2nd Ed after Trumpeter!
There will be a bit of a Lead Adventure West Coast meet-up, partly over my Amulet game on Saturday. Always nice to see some of the Vancouver-area folks again, throw more money at Bob Murch & Imperial Hobbies, loose at games, and all the other traditional convention activities!