Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Holiday in London

I actually saw someone wearing this hat in London.  Damn hipsters.
Nicole and I recently took a trip to London, and while that's not terribly relevant to this blog, the gaming stores we visited are totally relevant.  And now:

The swag.
We visited two gaming stores, Orc's Nest and Leisure Games.  Orc's Nest is located in central London, but Leisure Games tends to get better reviews, largely because they have a little more space.

We also picked up a Cyberman miniature at The Who Shop, because you never know when you might need a Cyberman.

You will be upgraded.

Orc's Nest

The Orc's Nest
The Orc's Nest is located at 6 Earlham Street, London.  Right in the middle of London, the Orc's Nest is probably most easily accessible through the Leicester Square via the Northern or Piccadilly lines on the Tube.  (From the Leicester Square exit, head north along Charing Cross, turn right on Earlham Street, and the store will be on your right.)

Some of the online reviews complained that it didn't have table space (not terribly surprising, as it's crammed into a storefront in the heart of London) and that they shrinkwrap their goods (which local game store Game Parlor does as well and has never been a problem for me).  It has a lot of current board games and role-playing games, particularly given its small space.  There wasn't anything there that really jumped out at me, although Nicole particularly enjoyed their d20-shaped lamp, and took a picture of it.

Icosahedron lamp!
Even though there wasn't anything in particular that caught my interest, we did purchase a couple of things in the interest of supporting local game stores.  A couple of miniatures, an Orc's Nest shirt, and a game called Love Letter that Scooter of DC Geeks' fame showed me and Nicole a while back.

The Orc's Nest haul.
All-in-all, a pretty good run.

Leisure Games

Leisure Games is located closer to the outskirts of London at 100 Ballards Lane.  Out in zone 4, Leisure Games is accessible via Tube at the Finchley Central stop on the Northern line.  From Finchley Central, head northwest until you reach Ballards Lane, then turn right and walk for a couple of blocks.  Leisure Games will be on your right.

A lot of the reviews recommended Leisure Games over the Orc's Nest, and while both are neat little shops, Leisure Games is probably the cooler of the two.  They have a little more space, allowing for a couple of tables as well as more sprawling RPG and board game sections.  Of particular interest to me, they have a lot of new stock, but don't seem to overturn their stock as frequently as some other places.  Nicole got a couple of sets of tiny dice, but I was intensely excited to get three out-of-print adventures from Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Hammers of the God, Tower of the Stargazer, and Weird New World.  I think the only print copy I'm missing at this point is No Dignity in Death (and most of the issues of Green Devil Face, although those are significantly more difficult to find).

The Leisure Games haul.  Win!
If you happen to be visiting London, it's totally worth following the recommendations and checking out these two places.

Friday, April 11, 2014

All's Quiet on the Hobby Blog Front

I am, in fact, still alive.

I'm still in the zone of playing more than running, although some friends of mine have persuaded me to run a role-playing heavy D&D 4e game.  Since they apparently want to tackle geopolitics in this game, it will give me the perfect opportunity to run a hexcrawl sandbox.  I'm still developing things for it, but I've started a map:

Click to enlarge.
It's obviously a work in progress — I don't have all the features sketched out yet, and I only have a few cities, but it's 1,000,000 square miles of territory.  I'll likely start the PCs at the inn in hex 04.04.

As for the geopolitics side, I have five kingdoms and one city in the borderlands.  Two of the kingdoms are demihuman kingdoms and the other three kingdoms are kingdoms of men.  The elf kingdom of the Lanirilis Protectorate is a magocracy ruled by the Istyatár or Istyatári ("philosopher-king/queen" in Tolkien Elvish), and the dwarf kingdom of the Farhelfik Commonwealth (totally a reference to the English Commonwealth, by the way) is a theocracy ruled by the Bofmorndin ("great peak" in D&D Dwarven, a title for the priest-king of the dwarves).  As for the three human kingdoms, they're predominantly based off historical kingdoms.  Ardhiyawata is based on several of the old African empires — Ghana, Mali, and Zimbabwe — with the monarch title "Mwene" being a derivative of old Zimbabwean title for "prince."  Hörundsflúr remixes Camelot, the Carolingian Empire, and the Iceni tribe; it calls its monarch a king or queen.  The Gallic Region of Khem emulates the brief Napoleonic rule of Egypt with a heavy dose of the Ottoman Empire and a burgeoning Arab Revolt no doubt in the works; Khem calls its monarch the Empress-Regent (or Emperor-Regent), as the true "Emperor" of Gallia resides in a distant land.

The lone city (so far) I've developed for the borderlands is a place called Khajanarata, the City of 10,000 Pleasures.  A major trading center, it has the feel of medieval and early modern India, and the Persian Empire, although the initial design seed was totally the Swar from Wraith: The Oblivion.  Sprawling, decadent, sword-and-sorcery cities such as Lankhmar, Xuchotl, Mos Eisley, and their ilk also serve as inspirations.  The inhabitants call their leader a Rajpandit ("priest-king").

Interested parties can see the six monarchs in the document, The Rulers of the Five Great Kingdoms of Khemenelda.

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