Saturday, 31 August 2013

MECHWARRIOR ONLINE Faces Widespread Accusations of False Advertising

Read the article in full on this is simply a preview.

Since starting development Piranha Games Inc. has faced criticism for their decisions involving their upcoming MOBA Mechwarrior Online. From the introduction of target-lock preventing ECM to killing off all development on Mechwarrior Living Legends and threatening legal action against anyone supportingMechwarrior 4; they have had a fair number of complaints. Unfortunately a recent decision has caused a backlash from a number of supporters within Mechwarrior Online’s community.

A recent addition to the game was the inclusion of a third person perspective allowing for mechs to have a much wider field of view and look over terrain which would otherwise be blocked from sight. Complaints of this inclusion have ranged from the encouragement of “poptarting” (jump sniping), to a lack of immersion and the third person view becoming the game’s default setting. Particularly however is the fact Piranha Games advertised the title as being a “first-person, team based, tactical battlefield” on their website with no mention of any kind of alternative view. Unfortunately for Piranha this seems to have been the straw which broke the camel’s back, following a number of other promised design features which were not added.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Horus Heresy Limited Edition Audio Boxset (Audiobook Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Farsight Enclaves: Part 1 - The Rules (Warhammer 40,000 Codex Supplement Review)

Between this and Iyanden there's a distinct trend showing up in these books: They're not being written for armies so much as specific units. Usually the flashier ones which are more likely to sell to younger players or are the more iconic elite troops. Iyanden had wraith units and now Farsight Enclaves has the same with battlesuits, focusing extremely heavily upon building armies almost entirely out of them. Whether they be characters, Crisis teams you can use as troops or new equipment, nearly all of the book's unique flavour seems to be angled towards a few specific types of unit. This is the real problem here. Codex Supplement Farsight Enclaves is a massive improvement over the steaming pile of excrement which was Iyanden, yet it's a painfully obvious a waste of potential.

Now let's make one thing clear: I'm not going to hold the multiple rules typos and editing goofs against the book. If you want to see them they can be found here. As obviously sloppy as the editing was, and the multiple problems which came as a result, Games Workshop is supposedly correcting them. The supplement codex deserves a chance to stand up on its own merits and analyse the intentions of the author without being caught up in one problem. As such this review won't comment upon the many typos and confusingly written rules errors, but it will still bring up badly thought out or worded rules.

The initial obvious step up in the rules department is that there are more than two pages of it this time. More time and effort seems to have actually been put into making this a unique faction of a bigger force in the same way many of the lesser space marine codices, with it sharing the same units but utilising them with different combat doctrines. Many problems such as the heavy emphasis upon HQ choices still remain, but that's an issue which has been a growing issue for two editions now. Furthermore, despite my misgivings with the direction the book went in, it did give Tau players something many had wanted for a long time: The ability to take Crisis battlesuits as troops, even without being forced to take them exclusively as troops. Furthermore many of the upgrades which were added such as the replacement Warlord traits and (some of) the signature systems fitted well with the army's backstory. They felt like a group who had seen far more of the galaxy's dangers than the Tau Empire.

The real problem here however is that there's a distinct lack of polish when it comes to many areas of the book. It looks like many areas were developed very quickly or had no time to really think about how they would work, especially when it comes to the Warlord traits. While opinions will vary of course, the only one which seemed to have real merit behind it for a Tau list was the Fire Unquenchable. This was a trait which made your Warlord of choice fearless, and anyone within "6 around him Stubborn. It felt more like an ability leaders should have, working alongside troops rather than just being combat monsters with 1337 PWNZRD special rules. 
Others however like Way Of The Short Blade and Through Surety  Destruction felt either fairly useless, or far more limited in their overall use in the game, or veered towards the above problem. 

Further problems in the HQ department besides the odd choices of Warlord traits are the characters. For all Iyanden's problems it is worth giving that book some praise in keeping the number of special characters fairly low, as here their numbers completely exploded. 
Besides Farsight himself, there are a grand total of eight new characters here serving as his personal lieutenants. Even for a standard codex this is an obscene amount to give to a book and to be honest their use within the book is fairly limited as they're always going to be deployed as bodyguards to Farsight. This means that when you do deploy them you're going to need to spend a vast amount of points in HQ choices and rely heavily upon HQ choices for firepower. 

The only big justification there is for lumping all of them together is the variety of battlesuits, with Crises, Broadsides, and even one Riptide, all listed under it. As such it's easy to tailor make it to what you want with only the requirement of a couple of choices for what's needed. That said, even considering this detail the point above still stands, as it's still turning the game into Characterhammer. Where in the grim darkness of the far future, battles are decided by who has the more beefy or broken named characters. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but it's still a problem with characters being prioritised over the actual armies and backbone units.

Besides the HQ choices are the shiny toys the army has been given to race into combat with. As you might have guessed many are angled towards battlesuits and intended only for them. Unfortunately a lot of them are either overpriced or seem to have visible problems that just don't make them worth taking.

High on this list of new gubbins are the Fusion Blades. Apparently whoever was writing this took Farsight's unusual close combat approach, or perhaps the army's Preferred Enemy: Orks, a little too close to heart and decided to give them beam swords. Despite their natural shortcomings with a low WS, this at least sounds promising with with the blade having S8 AP1 attacks with Armourbane and Blind. Unfortunately any benefits of this are offset by two big problems: You can only utilise these on models with twin linked fusion blasters, meaning the model lacks the range to take advantage of the Tau's naturally superior BS. Furthermore, on the roll of a 1 in melee, the model not only breaks the blade but also its guns meaning it cannot shoot or fight for the rest of the game. With such heavy flaws, the weapon is just not worth taking.

Similar problems can be found with the Seismic Fibrilator Nodes, which are intended to slow down enemy forces by turning all nearby ground as dangerous terrain. Unfortunately which can only be used once, have a low chance of working for even one turn meaning it's relatively useless. Not to mention there's too much of a chance of it failing without any actual use for its cost of 45 points. 
This unreliability also carries over to the Mirrorcodex, which can be used to turn an army into its preferred enemy and gives +1 to seize rolls for your whole detachment. The shortcoming off this is that you're required to roll once every round, meaning much of the time you're not going to get the preferred enemy you want as the table is as follows:
1- 3 Nothing
4 - Space Marines
5 - Space Marines & Imperial Guard
6 - Everyone
Most of the time this is one which is going to be completely worthless and a waste of points.

Next on the list, the Warscaper Drone, is a moderately useful choice by comparison but once again costs far too many points to justify taking it. Offering move through cover, outflank, acute senses and the ability to turn difficult terrain into the dangerous type for enemies it looks useful. The problem is that it's an item which can only be given to characters, has a "12 range for the latter ability so it's more of a very limited 35 point one trick pony than a truly useful item. 
It's not bad, but nowhere near as good as it could have been with a slightly greater range and without the limitation of being a character only item.

The final two of note are the only truly good ones in the book. Mostly because they're simple, well priced, without a high chance of failure and are more there to cover the army's shortcomings than try to give them new abilities.

First up is the Earth Caste Pilot Array, a Riptide specific item which allows for re-rolls of all 1s in the shooting phase and when rolling for the Nova reactor. This not only makes the Riptide a better fire support platform but gives it far more reliability, at the cost of giving it WS 1. As such both its strengths and weaknesses have been enhanced, balancing it out and with it only costing 30pts.

Finally, there's the Talisman of Arthas Moloch. For 25 points it can be given to a model and confers a 5+ Inv. save, but more importantly it permits anyone within the unit to have 4D6 denial to all Witch Rolls. With psychic powers being set up as the big focus for this edition, and the Tau having no psychics, this is something they desperately needed. It's also a slightly better alternative to shield drones and is genuinely useful for the whole force.

The above items are intended to replace some from Codex: Tau Empire such as the Puretide Neuroclip, Multi-Spectrum Sensor Suite and Command and Control Node. Items which have either been developed since Farsight left or he refuses to use, but overall it feels like more of a loss than an alternative. The other items were more well rounded and more useful, whereas the ones here either aren't worth the cost or are best written for battlesuit heavy armies.

Again, this doesn't seem to have been written for a relatively flexible army so much as a strike force of a very limited design. One working primarily with battlesuits and ignoring other options such as Fire Warriors or even many of the other units like Pathfinders or Hammerhead tanks. The only few bits which even do refer to them are a requirement to have a bonding knife per squad, preferred enemy, and some of the more generalised Warlord traits. There's nothing wrong with an army being written for primarily one type of unit, but they need more variety, flexibility and better items. Oddly enough, despite their lack of a specific codex, a better example of an army like this would be one of the White Scars special rules lists.

Overall the rules here aren't so much bad as rushed. It's clear to see what the writers (who go oddly unaccredited by name) were going for but there's such a distinct lack of polish it's almost as if this was written in a very short space of time. The flaws in many items could have easily been ironed out with just a bit of play-testing and a very narrow time-frame would also explain the emphasis upon battlesuit forces. This is a theory supported by the lack of any apparent editing and the problems highlighted in the early thoughts article on the book. 
The Farsight Enclaves is continuing with a lot of bad habits seen in rulebooks of late and falls short in a lot of areas, but if you desperately want to take Crisis suits as troops it might be worth the cash just for that. It's ultimately a step up from Iyanden, but that's only because Mat Ward set the bar so low for this codex.

Unfortunately for us, the fluff behind the army is worse than the rules. Far, far worse.

Click this link to find out why!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Horus Heresy: Scars: Episode IV (Ebook Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Shadowrun: Espionage By Morons (Campaign Index)

If you've been keeping track of things over the last few months you might have noticed the occasional recorded RPG session between rants about Games Workshop or links to other websites. For the last few years a few friends and I have been meeting up every week or so to play through tabletop titles, video games, or as in this case the odd RPG campaign. This is a recording of two story-lines of the latter. Specifically following Shadowrun, the game which can be best described as cyberpunk 90s coming back with a vengeance.

So, why is this here? After finishing the last session I realised just how hard it was for anyone to coherently read the story. Due to the repeated delays in typing up sessions, the sudden requirement to explain the preceding operation, and the fact they were scattered between reviews it was a nightmare just to read from one to the next. It's made hard enough by the quality of my writing, there was no need to make things more difficult. As such this is an index covering each session in turn and linking to the many posts documenting the shadowrunners' attempts at discreet spec ops operations.
Along with the index page i'm also adding a series of arrows at the bottom of each post, going to the preceeding or following session, and the option to return here.

With that done, enjoy the string of disasters which was this campaign.

Table of Contents:

Update 1: Business As Usual

Update 2: Tactical Espionage Arseholes

Update 3: Cops, Guns and Rock 'n Roll

Update 4: Not So Easy Money

Update 5: Stealth is Paramount

Update 6: Guy Ritchie's Shadowrun

Update 7: Off The Rails

Update 8: Force Eight Fire Pizza

Prequel Update 1: Violent Origins

Prequel Update 2: Lone Wolves

Prequel Update 3: Nerd War

Prequel Update 4: Operatic Wrestling

Update 9: Getting Down To Business

Update 10: Party Shuffle

Update 11: All Glory To Tarantino

Update 12: Weird Science

Update 13: Dragons, Lies and Videotape

Update 14: Summon Bigger Sprite

Update 15: Cloak, Dagger, Jeep and Explosions

Update 16: Dimensional Pong Caketastrophy

Update 17: Shooting Zombies To Thrill

Update 18: Epilogue

Future WARHAMMER 40,000 Title Leaked

Read the article in full on this is simply a preview.

Following Wednesday’s news on the same property, it seems that the next title set in the grim darkness of the far future has been leaked ahead of time: Space Hulk: Deathwing. Appearing on a thread in Neogaf, a pamphlet promoting the game (images below) was leaked by a member revealing much of this allegedly upcoming title to audiences.

While Full Control stated they had interest in adapting their army into their game, it appears that French company Streum on Studio has gotten there first. Known for having produced 2011’s E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy and Syndicate Black Ops, adapted from Half-Life 2, the studio up to now has emphasised on first person shooters. As such rather than following the turn based squad combat of Full Control’s title, the game will be an FPS using the Unreal 4 engine. The pamphlet also cites Cyanide Studios, known best to tabletop fans for having adapted Blood Bowl into video game form, as being co-producer and the publisher as Focus Home Interactive.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

X-Men: Deadly Genesis (Comic Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.

If you’ve been reading these reviews before you’ll know that my views on the modern Marvel universe are dim to say the least. With its pointlessly nihilistic attitude to events, determination to ignore all previous logic and continuity, and any good series often being crushed beneath the utter stupidity of their next big event; it’s enough to make the bottom-of-the-barrel worst of the New 52 look stellar by comparison. While there are ultimately many factors which contributed to this state, there are two which continue to enforce it to this day: Letting Brian Bendis treat the universe as his personal playground, ignoring anything which isn’t in his comics, and the themes of the Ultimate universe bleeding over into the mainstream universe. X-Men Deadly Genesis is arguably the most infamous example of the latter, and easily one of the most damaging.

First let this be clear: This isn’t a jab at the Marvel Ultimate imprint. It has interesting stories, and a reason to keep being printed even after the disaster of Ultimatum. However, that place isn’t Marvel 616 and the Ultimate universe was specifically created to try things which wouldn’t be acceptable to try there. Despite this fact, authors now keep inserting themes and even characterisations from the Ultimates into their original counterparts.

Following directly on from the trainwreck which was House of M, the X-Men are still reeling from most of their species being wiped from existence. As the energy of mutantkind’s powers dissapates into orbit, something is awoken and returns to earth. Something old, something very powerful, and something very angry. Even as the team begins to try and deal with this, the oldest among their number begin to realise something is amiss. An old secret lies within their past, a dark one which lies back to the very origin of many members and the heart of their founder…

Shadowrun - Epilogue

After being involved in a hostage situation, fighting terrorists and causing a giant raven demon to crash into Seattle's streets, the team naturally proceeded to lie low. For a couple of days we waited until the last of the siege at the Carl Sagat Memorial Centre blew over, and the large hole the bird demon had created was filled in.
For the most part the group remained at their separate homes, save for Killbo turning up at Amoral's house briefly to punch him in the face. He was shortly followed by Venne, who had managed to survive the fall.

Despite the bulk of the terrorist forces being taken out by Venne's arrival, the remaining elements were still being mopped up and the explosives had unfortunately gone off. Yeah, between the demon and keeping people alive we'd forgotten about that bit. None of the crucial scientists were killed in the collapse, but others such as Hendrick had been killed when the C4 detonated.

As we eventually gathered at a bar to discuss what the hell we were going to do with the thing the demon had been guarding, Mr Johnson got in touch. His orders were simple: Head to the St. Mercy Memorial Hospital and ask to meet Dr. Ergu there. Easily done, but with a few complications.

Due to Amoral's problems with I.D. cards at the moment, we were forced to hack inside on the fly to get past the receptionist's desk. One final, last minute test apparently. Anyway, making our way to one of the upper tier wings we found Johnson finalising things with Ergu, who was recovering from a broken leg after the centre effectively imploded. Following that we were promptly taken outside and, with surprising restraint, he began to ask what the hell had happened and grilled us over the operation. Eventually answering that we "were involved with the bird but not the crater" we managed to dodge the more pressing accusations and problems sent our way.Or at least made Johnson ignore them for the time being.

Proceeding to dock payment to cover our raid of his limousine the previous week. Johnson had the cash we were owed transferred to our accounts and left to deal with more pressing issues. Before he left however, he recommended handing the raven statue over to the Draco Foundation. A bit of advice which earned us a few more nuyen to our already substantial payment.

Further inspection of the news after we left thankfully had no mention of our involvement in the battle. Neither was Camelot oddly enough, with Aztechnology thanking Knight Errant and their special forces for dealing with the threat over them. Furthermore, while Metafirst was indeed credited as the force behind the assault there was no apparent reason for them to do this. Further allegations by people that it was linked to Amazonian militas also provoked only silence from the mega-corp.
If you've not gathered it between this and the internal sabotage, it was likely staged.

As we returned home once more, Amoral we met with a few police officers. Still suspicious of him following his antics with Wilson, and the raging battle inside the warehouse, they notified him that Knight Errant was taking over investigations. This would likely cause problem in the future, with a slightly more professional force than Lone Star handling any research.
Killbo arrived back at his house nuclear bunker to a slightly more pleasant surprise: A delivery of some very expensive ¥5,000 vintage whisky with a note attached: "All debts paid in full - Nifty."

As another mission drew to a close, the shadowrunners and Venne met up one last time to raise drinks in the bar. The last scene of the campaign had the characters toasting the memory of cloning scientists, being possessed by spirits, performing vehicular homecide, invading extra-territorial facilities and fighting terrorists while making a crap-load of cash.

Just another week on the job.

The End

<< #17      Return To Index

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Elysium (Film Review)

Between this and District 9 writer/director Neill Blomkamp feels like someone who is trying to desperately be the next Paul Verhoeven. Many hallmarks can be found in his science fiction films, from the continual social commentary about current events to the combination of CGI and practical special effects.
It's unfortunate he didn't take a few more tips as if he did he might have given us a decent film.

Set in the near future, Earth is a barely stable ravaged wasteland. Years of pollution, overpopulation and use of its resources have caused near total societal collapse. Much of humanity now lives in derelict slums, either living in what was left behind in a better age, usually jobless and turning to crime, or working in minimal pay jobs to supply resources for the rich. Said 1% lives in the orbiting city of Elysium, in complete paradise and without the slightest want.
However, as conflicts between the head of defence and president elect come to a head, a dying man ends up carrying some vital information. One which could be used to forever doom what's left of those on Earth or ensure their salvation.

The plot of the film is obviously banking on exploiting the ongoing dissatisfaction with world leaders, industrial CEOs and the generally better off in light of the current financial crisis. Effectively all of them are touched upon as villains in some way or another ranging from the cartoonishly villainous to those completely unthinking of the many beneath them. They are privileged  better off and hoarding technology which could easily benefit all of humanity for themselves. It's heavy handed but the odd thing is that at first it kind of works.

The opening act of the film manages to more or less balance out the two sides in an odd way. While the upper class overlords on Elysium are clearly the villains, those on Earth are hardly without flaws and many are shown to be just as bad. Spider (Wagner Moura), a criminal mob boss with access to stolen shuttles and advanced technology, exploits the downtrodden as much as the corporate CEO John Carlyle (William Fichtner). Making money off of their desperation to have a better life or live in a better way, often with the support of dangerous gun-toting figures in order to do so. Even our hero, Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), doesn't look exactly like a heroic figure or a person to lead the revolution. He's certainly likable, initially, but has a long history of theft, assault, and close links with crime. While there is a clear degree of black and white, there's this tantalizing sign that Elysium might actually allow for some grey to exist. Unfortunately for us that's not the case.

As the film starts rolling, the plot gradually caves in upon itself. Any initial signs of a slightly balanced portrayal rapidly disappear as Spider's mob of armed thugs go from people making money off of desperation to effectively the rebel alliance and Da Costa loses all charisma and wit. Furthermore, plot holes in the film's design department and basic writing begin opening up everywhere. Ranging from the overall appearance of the power armour and unexplained radiation blasting to a character randomly resisting attempts to save their life. This only gets progressively worse until the film reaches a conclusion which not only feels as if it's desperate to get ride of as many people as fast a possible but has Steven Moffat sized gaping flaws. The desperation to get rid of characters likely stems from the vast number included which Blomkamp apparently had no idea what to do with. Jessica Delacourt (Jodi Foster) suffers the most from this, with her presence feeling fairly superfluous and tacked on as a love interest role.

If you're there for a well-developed story, with standout characters and memorable events, you're not going to get anything of real interest. The rest of it though, that manages to at least be passable with quite a few excellently delivered aspects.

Whatever its problems with its story, the visual narrative is definitely much stronger. Blomkamp shows that he can put a decent film together with the cinematography giving the right emphasis upon characters and environments. Not allowing one to overcome the former as has been the cast in many films of the recent years. He knows how to have one shot move into the next and when to create memorable scenes of science fiction CGI galore. The only place he does stumble is in the ending combat scene which engages in a little too much blurry close-ups in the fight between characters. A disappointment given the tense car ambush which is the film's other major fight.

The aforementioned science fiction CGI galore is also up to a high standard. As well as being of a very high quality, the overall designs, aesthetics and environments are also interesting. 
There's a clear amount of thought which has been put into the look of the robotic soldiers and aircraft which contrasts well with the almost intentionally retro looking Elysium station. There's some almost Human Revolution influences here and there with the sharp contrasts between the dilapidated buildings and well off environments as well as the more industrial looks of the place. While by no means the most original designs, many areas and environments have had their own spin put on them to try and stand out. From modified old weapons like a fire selection kalashnikov with tooled up details to a small arms coilgun, it feels as if there's some definitive effort put in. It's ultimately this effort at originality, and the lack of insulting all of humanity's achievements and very existence  which elevates it above James Cameron's Avatar

While aspects of the film do stand out, Elysium isn't a recommended film. The conclusion is just too much of a disappointment to really sit through, and the good ideas here and there make it better to examine. Using the designs and cinematography for lessons rather than enjoyment. If you are truly interested then the film might be worth a rental, but otherwise save your money for something better.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Lionhead Confirms It Has No Plans For Fable IV, Only Fable Legends

Unfortunately it seems that fans of Lionhead Studios' action RPG franchise will be waiting a long time to see anything truly new. In a recent Q&A session, the developer confirmed that they had no real plans to make a sequel to Fable III or continue the main franchise as it was. While they did not comment directly upon reasons why, given that title’s reception and criticism from gaming journalism, it’s hard not to see why. 

In place of Fable IV, Lionhead is focusing its efforts on the upcoming title of Fable Legends which is to take the franchise in a very different direction. As an MMO, the recently announced Legends marks the series taking a very different direction from before and almost certainly some considerable gameplay shifts to account for far more players on each map. While both Fable II and III did feature co-operative play, even there it wasn’t the best implemented system and often had considerable limitations for players joining the game. A lack of solid interaction both between the players and the joining player and shops, NPCs and other individuals being high on this list. 

These problems and many others are likely why Lionhead has opted to take such a dramatic shift with the games. As both a costly effort and usually a very risky one, creating an MMO for the series seems more like an effort to distance the name from Fable III’s failings than anything else. As well as answering a number of long term criticisms of the franchise such as more meaningful differences between how good and evil aligned figures operate in terms of combat and questing. Villains now supposedly acting more like Sauron, with armies of minions to command.

Oddly in spite of this, Lionhead stated directly after announcing “we have no plans to make a sequel to Fable III” that Fable Legends would contain “many of the great features of Fable I, II, and III have been carried forward in our game’s design.” With any luck this means the game won’t be straying too far from its roots, or abandoning what worked in an effort to distance itself from the most criticised aspects. As it was only unveiled yesterday little else has actually been detailed to any significant degree about the game. For now all we can confirm is that Lionhead is opting to take a decidedly risky route with its games.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Shadowrun: 05/06/2013 - Shooting Zombies To Thrill

So. Here we are. The end of the saga. It was one hell of a ride playing through this campaign, through every moment of pure unadulterated madness, moments of genius and botchamania. It somehow managed to almost outdo our last campaign and oddly enough we managed to end on an even more ludicrous high note.

Bear in mind last time ended with operatic wrestling, an army of Red Samurai and a mini-nuclear explosion.

Following off where we were last time, the shadowrunners prepare to come up with a brilliant idea to save everyone in the next 24 hours. We needed to escape alive, preferably with as many scientists as we could. The likes of Ergu could probably make it out alive personally, but we specifically needed to leave with Hoda and get Beaumont out alive. The terrorists specifically wanted him dead for genetic testing of the unpleasant kind.

Going out to the door, while still invisible thankfully, Killbo opened it a crack and looked outside. Through the glass doors at the entrance the signs of battle could be seen with a number of vehicles involved. More interestingly however was a very thin red smear leading to the bottom floor plant room. Yes, for some reason the plant room, as in power plant, was on the bottom floor in the main foyer.  Clearly someone done goofed when they were drawing up designs for this place.

Investigating, Killbo sneaked out and headed over to where the plant room was before pushing his way inside. With the lights out and the only source emanating from the door, Killbo sneaked forwards and was surprised to see a gun pushed in his face. It turned out it was Nifty, bleeding profusely from a wound in his side and badly burned in a number of places. 
Apparently it was he who we had seen taking the Leap of Faith into Hedges, trying to fulfill his contract to murder the man. It also turned out he didn't know he was a drake, and had been ambushed by Poultry upon attempting his murder. Getting out his med-kit, Killbo began healing the orc as they got up to date on events. Naturally the conversation began with this:
“Can anyone see us?”
“Well, we are invisible.”
“That’s a point, who am I talking to here?”

Among other things we learned that the mercenaries were putting up one hell of a fight outside, but Poultry was going to take them down. Either by sabotage from within or the more traditional way. With Venne inbound in an attack gunship with the cavalry, this made taking him out (along with hopefully a few terrorist) our No. 1 priority. After Leona and Amoral joined them, we eventually came up with some semblance of a plan. Amoral needed his hacking equipment so he and Killbo would race upstairs to retrieve it while invisible. Leona would keep with Nifty to make sure he stayed alive while the orc provided cover and recon from a sniping position.

The invisible duo raced upstairs to get to Amoral’s room, occasionally slowing to sneak past the odd terrorist, they eventually reached Amoral’s room. As they entered, they were unfortunately faced with one terrorist who turned in their direction wondering why the door had just swung open. Forgetting they were invisible, the duo quickly reacted to kill him as fast as possible. Killbo pulled out a Black Scorpion, suppressed thankfully, and promptly shot the man in the face. Through some superhuman effort the man failed to die and had his com-link open. Scrabbling madly to stop the guard’s grunts of pain from being heard, Amoral used a sprite to shut it down. The man was quickly finished off but was too late from his initial grunts of death from being heard, and for two coming to respond from the bottom floor.

To stop them heading up, Amoral utilised his “Rating 6 Really, Really Freaky Porn” and the man’s repeated announcements of fuck as he was shot, and puts it in a loop. Then promptly hacked into the life-monitor in his equipment, and made it look like he has a frenetic heart rate. Our privacy ensured for at least a minute or so, we grabbed as many of the drones as possible and ordered them to head out the window and meet us outside. On the way out, Killbo promptly set up a tripwired grenade to give the person who came to check up on them a nasty surprise.

Heading back down stairs, we eventually made it out of the door after dodging around the terrorists a bit. Outside, we found the grounds to the building in a state of complete anarchy. A good six or so trucks were firing upon the mercenary’s compound, each fitted with heavy machine-guns. Furthermore there seemed to be a blockade at the gates were several burning vehicles had been rammed in place and others were behind them with guns.

Despite having crap trucks (technicals) every single one of the terrorists’ vehicles had high tech sensor equipment which could detect any movement. This meant a huge amount of the grounds were effectively an instant kill zone we could not approach. Going with an alternate route, Killbo and Amoral headed down the back road away from them and leading into a separate car park. While there were a couple of technicals there, the terrorists in them were lax in keeping an eye on things. The plan now was to have Nifty kill the people in one technical, Amoral’s drones kill the other two, then have Killbo use the technical’s machinegun to mow down the ones at the back of the compound; opening up the way for us to get inside and taking the heat off of some of the mercenaries’ guns.

Going first the still invisible Killbo sprinted towards the closest truck. Drawing both his Black Scorpions, he let loose two long bursts on the duo. Unfortunately the dwarf failed to notice he was out of range, resulting in every bullet missing and only scaring the two inside. Nifty, being considerably smarter, promptly fired once and one of the truck’s windows turned red with Amoral’s drones finishing off the other one. The occupants of the next truck were alerted to the death of their comrades, but missed Killbo despite the dwarf turning visible (Leona withdrawing her spell to deal with other problems). Firing again while sprinting he suppressed the two guards inside, preventing them jumping onto the gun. Clambering on a wall, Amoral was unable to join in and Nifty was still relocating himself to a new sniping position.

Unfortunately our assault was promptly cut short. With a bellowing cry of “Oh yeah!!” Poultry, in all his mechanical glory, punched down the back wall of a small building to Killbo’s right. Using edge (and succeeding on every dice) the dwarf's sudden, near precognitive skills allowed him to back-flip out the way, dodging one huge metal fist by the skin of his teeth. Of course, despite this, he was still going to be facing him largely alone. Just as this happened a window on the upper floors of the Memorial Centre promptly exploded outwards into flame for some reason.

Keep something in mind as you read the next paragraphs: Poultry was a boss character. He’d been designed to not only fight the entire group, Leona included, but to cause us some serious difficulty. We were also apparently not supposed to beat him, just keep him occupied until Venne showed up.

This went a little wrong.

Reacting first, Killbo dropped his two Scorpions and brought out his trusty Auto Assault 16. Holding down the trigger, the dwarf unleashed a long burst of obscenely high damage, overcoming Poultry’s assault tank level armour. The cyborg managed to botch his roll, with him taking eight damage and staggering back, bleeding from his side. Taking out his own shotgun, he tried to return fire only to glitch and jam the weapon after one shot. He switched to his Super-Warhawk, only for it to jam on him as well. Clipped by one bullet and outright dodging the other, Killbo returned fire but was unable to get through his armour as Poultry went on full defence only stunning him.
Killbo then proceeded to go Iron Man on his arse.

Readers of the campaign might remember that Killbo has an eye laser. Being as paranoid and insane an individual as he was, the GM thought that he would undoubtedly tech it out to be extremely dangerous.

Spending a turn bringing it up to full super-charge, Killbo’s eye promptly turned red and fired what appeared to be a blast from a miniature GDI ion cannon. Poultry dodged, but critically glitched so badly that the GM declared he did it in such a way he manages to take more damage than he would otherwise. The eye laser fired, disintegrating Poultry’s upper body as he flew backwards, passed through his back, hit the truck behind it (causing it to explode), going through the wall behind that and destroying several more cars. The remaining terrorists racing to the fight promptly scattered. As Killbo ejected the now burned out lens of the eye, somewhere Shoot To Thrill started playing.

Arriving seconds later, having carpet bombed the trucks into oblivion while we were busy, Venne arrived surprised to see Poultry’ melted metal body. Unfortunately Camelot’s contract is simply secure the outside so she couldn’t help us inside the place. She also went off to mercy kill Poultry, only for us to learn this was remote controlled power armour designed to look like a troll. The GM burning every bit of edge he had to warp time and space as well as screw logic.
As Killbo pillaged his corpse and Amoral regrouped with his drones, Nifty contacted us that they had picked up Beaumont. One down, we just needed Hoda now. Going in through the back access tunnel, passing by a couple of terrified terrorists who promptly surrendered (“We don’t even like working here, they pull some crazy shit!”), Amoral and Killbo went to rescue him.

Finding the dead corpse of a dwarf in a Metafirst uniform, Killbo promptly took his clothing and went for the surprisingly sane plan. Interrupting the terrorist leader mid-speech, Killbo informed him of something horrifying involving Hoda they had found in the back rooms “the sort of thing you don’t talk about on camera.” Gleefully heading off to find out exactly what “it” was, the leader left just Killbo, Hoda and two other men on stage.

Taking Hoda into a backroom, one guard was ambushed and killed by Amoral, then something surprising happened. Before Killbo could act, Hoda jumped around and snapped the other terrorist’s neck via roundhouse kick. Apparently the GM wanted that particular old Japanese man trope to come into play now. While initially incredulous that we think this is the best time to try and recruit him, we quickly explain we can fake his death. After a few seconds of how the hell that’s going to be convincing or explain the burn damage to his corpse in the foyer room the following happens:

Killbo: “OH NO, HE’S A MAGE!” 

Throwing an incendiary grenade backstage, while triggering similar explosives on the remains of the clone body, we high tailed it out of there. Jumping down the access tunnel and back outside to regroup with the others inside. Things were getting a bit complicated by this point.
Beumont and Hoda weren’t happy to see one another but managed to agree to just help get out alive. Our plan? Head to the roof and escape via helicopter, either by looting one or calling in a favour. Unfortunately while we managed to reach the elevator to the top without incident, the two scientists were horrified to learn we were heading to the top floor. Apparently no one knew what was up there and no one ever came back down alive from it.

Arriving with guns at the ready, we were met with pitch darkness and the foul smell of dead flesh. Corpses littering the floor, in circles of what were hopefully red paint which had been inscribed everywhere. Various talismans and icons littered the walls, all of which were painful to look at. The only light in the room came from the oricalcum statue of a raven, surrounded by the corpses of at least several dozen badly burned individuals. We’d later learn that we’d just stumbled into the level 10 blood magic lodge of the building, the kind of one Aztech loves oh so much.

Rushing through to get to the heliport, deciding to ignore the creepy statue of death, Killbo was unfortunately denied the chance to place C4 on the room to purge it. Racing up to a hatch in the far wall we headed up and out. All of us that was, save for Amoral. Deciding that “I want 100% completion!” he decided to try and steal the raven statue, causing some fun.

The second the technomancer’s fingers touched the raven’s golden wings, a few of the corpses immediately lurched upright. Screaming they hurled themselves at us. As the ones with the guns, Nifty and Killbo led a rearguard action as the group retreated out onto the helipad taking down five of the corpses. This only bought them moments as a flood proceeded to follow them. Holding them off initially, soon bullets aren’t enough to stem the tide even with Amoral’s drones reenacting the turret scene from Aliens. It wasn’t long before things were so bad we were calling Venne over com-link for a rapid evacuation from the roof.

Responding to Amoral’s cries that he wanted the cash, Leona promptly kicked him inside the room with the zombies which was now covered by a shadowfield. Within it he encountered the stuff of nightmares. Standing in the middle of a screaming hole in reality, with the room now forced halfway between the metaplanes, a gigantic raven formed of bones, blood and shadow was forcing its way into our world. Faced with something which looked like it could pimp slap Yog-Sototh, Amoral was forced to choose between taking the idol or the drone left behind as they had fled.

Outside, the group was on the verge of being overrun. Clambering over the steadily growing piles of corpses, the onslaught continued with the zombies pressing forwards. The group was brought a moment of respite when Leona unleashed massive waves of fire, bringing down a huge number before collapsing from overexertion.

From within the room, Amoral decided what he wanted. Grabbing the idol, he hurled himself outside leaving the screaming raven within. Scrabbling past the zombies he dropped the idol in the middle of the group, moaning “I want my drone.” Hearing this, and the raven’s screams within the room getting louder, Hoda paused in the middle of snapping necks and yelled “Then go get it!” He kicked Amoral inside the room again!

Thrown through the door, the technomancer crashed directly into the face of the raven, responding to its hiss with “AAAAH! Hello again!” Realising that Amoral had just been thrown in with your common or garden force 12 blood spirit intent upon the destruction of all mankind, Nifty went to rescue him. Yanking him back through the shadowfield, they were able to back off just as the raven stuck its head through into the real world. Failing a braggart test, Killbo promptly bellowed “I’ve plucked pigeons more fierce than you!” and booted the C4 he was carrying into its face, causing only moderate damage.

All seemed lost when Camelot’s VTOL gunship swung over the edge of the building and onto the roof with Venne at the helm. Unleashing streams of chaingunfire and missiles, the troll yelled at us to get on-board. Complying, the aircraft took off, speeding away as the raven broke through and took to the skies after us. Chase combat ensued.

Needing to escape it in six turns, we turned to our weapons of choice. Taking up a missile, Killbo stood out the back and opened fire with a missile launcher while Amoral manned the nearest turret remotely. Hitting it in the mouth mid-scream, the damage was enough to momentarily force it back, only for it to unleash swarms of explosive ravens inside the vehicle almost knocking people out. Many were able to cling on but Beumont is almost hurled out, forcing Killbo to drop the missile launcher and drag him back in.

Claiming to be “Aoijhouhg the god of deep darkness” the raven once more closed in for the kill. Suddenly yelling for Amoral to “take the wheel!” and control the aircraft, Venne leaped out of the pilot seat and sprinted the length of the gunship. Throwing herself out the back as the raven close in she slammed into its face and grappled with it as demon and troll fell from the skies. Despite Killbo yelling for Amoral to bank around so he could help, the shadowrunners flew as far from the scene of the battle as possible, and the mission’s end.

While there was a bit more to the session, I like to end on a high note. This was the mission's end and the conclusion to all the action. Plus, as every campaign in Shadowrun is usually just the job, this is technically the end.
As such, for those wanting to see how things wound down, the epilogue will be up in a couple of days. For those who don't, I hope you enjoyed this recap of our dice rolling disasters.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Horus Heresy: Scars: Episode III (Ebook Review)

As with the last book review this is posted in full on and this is simply a preview. If you want to see it in full then please follow the link through to there.

Monday, 19 August 2013

No, They've Not Given Up

... Well, I guess it's time to start with the articles again. Truth be told i've been ignoring this, but after so many comments keep screaming of my hatred of the show after refusing their demands, or demanding that I secretly love it, simply filtering incoming comments isn't enough.

Time to deal with the hypocrisy which is magic once again. Perhaps we should even start making this a weekly thing "The Shit That Bronies Spew".