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Steven Saunders Presents:






 

TOTAL PARTY KILL #1

Hello there! I’m Steve and I’m a gamer. A dork. A grognerd of geektacular measure. Few things give me greater pleasure than tossing the dice around with some buddies, constructing cardboard terrain, perusing game stores in new places I visit (I hit them before the tourist attractions), wiping out a party with “mere” kobolds, or creating new worlds to have my buddies explore in. Whereas some people might be excited about a new car, I get pumped about a new rules-system. When I met the gorgeous woman who would end up as my Spousal Unit, the first thing I needed to know was “Is she a gamer, too? And if not— will she be?” (Good news: She is.) Many parents want their kids to end up in a good school. Though I would too, naturally, I would also really like to get them into Red Box D&D by age 6 or 7.

That, you see, is very important to me. And hopefully them.

Fact is dear readers, gaming and all the trappings that come with it are my blood like an eternal nuclear fire. Ever since I created my Hellenic Ninja for an AD&D game during the summer of ‘84 while on holiday I’ve been hooked. Sure, I know what you’re thinking: “But Oriental Adventures didn’t come out until 1985, Steve!” Yes, I’m aware of this. But that’s how 8-year-old Steven rolled back then— and trust me, OA was made from so much awesome I almost exploded when it was released. Because by 1985 gaming had become a part of me much like breathing, buying Kindereggs, or feeling that while Optimus was cool and all, Megatron is vastly superior.

(Cage-matches over the last statement will take place once we figure out a location that can handle the expected large-scale carnage.)

And just how did I end up here, wasting your time so far, with this thing called TOTAL PARTY KILL? Well, you can blame Brandon Jerwa and Marc Mason. Actually, I believe this was Brandon’s idea initially and I readily accepted (fool that I am). So, thanks to them and the rest of the excellent gang who contribute their blood, sweat and tears to COMICS WAITING ROOM. I also want to thank Elliott (“Two T’s, dammit!”) Serrano for the great TPK banners.

Just look at the one above for a minute, will you? Glorious.

So, what to expect with TPK? My ramblings on tabletop gaming for one. The format is very loose here, so if there’s anything you want me to unleash a Screed +4 on or whatever, drop me a line. Thus far, my plan is to blabble about some games I like, have checked out, and so forth. Don’t expect detailed reviews, unless I have decided to focus an entire section to a game or whatever. Things are quick and dirty here.

Then I’ll give you the second part, “Arbitrary Random Idea Generator”; which is a small section with a source for ideas I’ve found. It could be a book, a magazine, a type of insect, or maybe even a food item. It could be anything, and I hope it will be able to help you like it helps me in creating whatever it is you want for your gaming passion. To wrap it up we’ll have “Short Uncontrolled Bursts”, covering comic books I feel gamers may enjoy (or not enjoy, should the case be). They’ll be short overviews or previews, and entirely of my opinion. One of them will be the “Spotlight of the Fortnight”, i.e. the comic that crit-hit me the most. This section will probably usually be the largest. This is Comics Waiting Room, after all.

Okay, there’s a reason why my friend and former rumour-columnist Blair Marnell dubbed me Lord Captain Verbosity. Let’s move on to the meat, shall we?

- Cubicle 7’s Starblazer Adventures (preview). This touts itself as “The Rock and Rock Space Opera Adventure Game”, so how could I pass up taking a look at a preview PDF of it? Those of you who aren’t obsessed with UK comics like me might not know what the heck Starblazer is, and may even get it confused with the Starblazers TV show. Starblazer was a UK-based sci-fi anthology comic from the Days of Serious Yore (okay, 1979-1991). You can save me some time and read more about it here. Honestly, I was a bit sceptical about the whole thing, but I have faith in Cubicle 7 (primarily due to what they’ve done with SLA Industries). Well, I’m happy to report that the PDF reads fine and it’s a very succulent sample. If you want a SF RPG that rocks, this would seem to be the one. Go ahead and check out the preview. I’ll be picking this game up in full when it’s released. For those of you who cannot wait, Cubicle 7 has a PDF version you can purchase here. Score: The entire expedition party is looking at being eaten by Cosmic Creeps. All they can think of now is how much fun they had on Alphon 6. Maybe a few drinks will help…

- Getting back into GURPS with 4th Edition. To many of you out there, “4th Edition” means the new D&D, which I haven’t played around with too much. However, to me 4th ed. is currently all about GURPS. After years of not playing this classic system, I’ve recently created a character and started in on a campaign. GURPS is not like riding a bike, so I had to re-learn quite a bit, but overall 4th Edition feels like 3rd, which felt much like 2nd which was a lot like 1st. And this isn’t a bad thing, folks. Basically, GURPS is only slightly retooled from its 3rd edition incarnation and runs even more like a dream. (Yes, I’m being rewarded for adding as many “like”s in here as I can!) If you are an old-school GURPS player who has been hesitant to make the switch, I implore you to pick up the 4th edition books. Whereas the opinion many other new editions and versions rest solely in the eyes and hearts of the consuming adopters, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say the new GURPS is not an improvement. In the future, I will go into more detail on my new GURPS experiences! Score: For now, I would say GURPS 4th Edition is a clear TPK. No one survives.

- Mongoose’s Traveller. Another game I haven’t played, or even looked at in a long, long time is the original Traveller. I loved it back in the day, but not as much as Star Frontiers (the first sci-fi RPG I played), so it just kind of fell into lesser used trade lanes for years and years. Now, the fine citizens at Mongoose Publishing bring us a brand spanking new Traveller for us to explore the stars with. When I was in a local gaming store a couple weeks back, I observed this sleek black and red covered beast sitting there on the shelf. It was calling me to look inside and… well, it certainly is simple looking and sparse isn’t it? But I bought it anyway, despite its price tag. Is it worth it? I think so. Though it’s thin for the credits you’re going to drop, it is packed from bow to stern with all sorts of tasty stuff. Mongoose went for a streamlined package with good, yet minimal artwork. And how are the rules? I haven’t got too much of a chance to really break this game in, but I’d say it should appeal to old and new Traveller players alike. Character creation is nice and in-depth, with detailed charts for lifepaths and all sorts of happenings. Classes are pretty open and well designed, and combat looks non-complicated and fun. The Encounters and Dangers tables are especially neat. As for fluff material, don’t look for it here. This new Traveller is designed to be a core system for more than just Traveller specific products. I’m to understand the new Judge Dredd RPG will be with this rules system. Though I’m no d20 hater, I can tell you right now that Traveller will make a much better base system for Dredd or, say, Strontium Dog. I hope to do an installment in the future that focuses on some sci-fi RPGs, for which I will be sure to break this baby in more. For now, let’s just say the landing party has already had four of its six members blasted into itty-bitty pieces and the two lucky ones are trying to remain non-lunch items on the rampaging mutant, acid-spitting Chubb Panda’s menu.

- Dragon Tiles: Dungeons of the Dwarf Lords. This is the best gaming accessory I’ve seen in awhile. All you need, aside from money of course, is a decent printer and some cardstock paper. Fat Dragon Games always delivers with the quality though. Just feast your eyes on this Dwarven madness:



Wait, I need to catch my breath for a round. Sure looks fantastic, eh? This item rates not just one, but two TPKs!

Some other legendary items which may interest you:
- d20 Naruto. I’m not all that familiar with the show, other than that Narutos invade Sakura Con en masse every year. I will say this free PDF is very large and lovingly put together.
- Cannibal Contagion. This is a game in the playtesting stage, which is free for download in its current form. It’s a lot of fun and exceedingly well written. Expect to hear more about it in the future.
- Crucible Campaign Setting. Rejected by GURPS and now released into the wilds of the internet, SJG’s loss is your gain.
- The Phoenix Barony. A great homebrew setting, now available for free. Please take a look.
- Gnomes Gone Wild. A free adventure from Gnome Stew that will break your will and scramble your immortal soul. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Next time I should be talking a little of what I think about Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy and some other things, I’m sure.

Moving right along!

Arbitrary Random Idea Generator


Atlantis Rising Magazine.Whether you are an unabashed “believer” or a shrewd skeptic like myself, Atlantis Rising is the kind of periodical worth any intrepid Games Master’s attention. There are all sorts of things contained within its 80+ pages; from alternate takes on history, to “new science”, to supposed psychic phenomenon, to space aliens watching us and more! “Learn what the mainstream press and tabloids won’t tell you” indeed. Fantastically, Atlantis Rising is well written and actually rather entertaining. And there are some articles that tantalise even this hardened cynic. For instance, in #66 there’s a fascinating piece on a Lost Library under Moscow, Russia. I’ll admit, it had me completely riveted, and it gives me all sorts of new ideas for all sorts of things (including a comic I’m working on). This and more awaits you within the pages of Atlantis Rising. Be sure when you visit their site to download a PDF of the latest sample issue!

Not-So-Arbitrary Score: Party loses 4 of it’s five brave members due to rabid Easter Island statues powered by atomic milkshakes from the Bermuda Triangle.

Short Uncontrolled Bursts

As said before, these are some comics I think gamers will enjoy. Sadly, I cannot include everything, but if there is a particular title you feel I should have in there or check out, please contact me! Scores are based on capricious whims in order to please my Dread Lord and prevent further whippings…

- Red Sonja #35. This is where the series re-boots. It’s been 5 issues since “the event”, so I think it’s safe to say Sonja has died saving the world and now it she’s been reborn (with the same name and hair, even). It’s a nice touch, and it’s a great way to bring on new readers. Also, it didn’t seem cheesy. Sonja is now a high-born Lady and there’s a great connection to the previous Sonja in the series. Writer Brian Reed and artist Walter Geovani are a killer team. Can’t wait to see what’s next. Score: 4 party members dead (non-raisable), 1 retired from fear and 2 henchmen vaporised.

- Army of Darkness and Xena: Why Not? #4. This has been a very fun series. John Layman did a bang-up job on the first 3 issues and Brandon Jerwa really brought it home with some of the funniest writing I’ve read in a while. Art’s nice, too. I recommend all four issues of this are picked up ASAP. Score: 3 of the party killed instantly, 1 will die from Tomb Rot, and 1 escaped and is in hiding.

- Conan the Cimmerian #1. Why did Conan need to be a new series? I don’t know. But this was a great issue. The only gripe I see is that it focuses mainly on Conan’s grandfather, but it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, the whole issue made me be thankful Conan was back in Cimmeria to kick some serious amounts of ass. Score: 4 party members dead, 1 seriously wounded by partial dismemberment. CLERIC!

- Wolfskin Annual #1. Right, so this is Warren Ellis’ sword and butchery tale with a barbarian-like main character that will appeal to the hardened hack-and-slasher in all of us. The previous series was alright, but seemed to try to hard to be “hard”. I’m of the impression it could have been much better executed. But if you are looking for some righteous carnage, Wolfskin will tickle your violent fancy. The annual is no different, and in fact it’s much better. The story flows better and is a nice continuation of the previous one. Mike Wolfer scripted this, by the way. I don’t know what he did with the story exactly, or if he’s the reason why it’s better. The scenes of violence are so over-the-top it’s comical. But honestly? It’s totally worth your ducats, especially if you enjoy dark, blood-soaked fantasy and movies like Flesh+Blood. Score: 3 party members slain, 1 chopped in half and still twitching, 1 got away.

- Minions of Ka (preview). I saw the trailer for this upcoming book here and more data can be procured here. What is it? Let’s read it in their own words… “The Minions of Ka have commanded the undead for thousands of years. Their power has been used to create and destroy empires. In possession of this great power, The Catholic Church has its sight set on the throne of Charles II. An unnamed warrior for hire finds himself caught between the Church and the English Monarchy in one of the greatest conspiracies of all time.” Sweet-- Sign. Me. Up. Score: 4 out of 5 prospective party members are terrified of the upcoming adventure.

- Cthulhu Tales #4. Okay, investigators, listen up. If you have any love (or aversion) for Great Cthulhu and its minions, you are committing a heinous self-crime by not seeking this title out. The incomparable Mark Waid and the magnificent Chee punch us right in the guts with In the Pi of the Beholder straight out of the starry gates. Personally, I’ve always disliked most math. Thanks, Mr. Waid, for making me fear it, too. Mark Sable and Sergio Carrera pick up the weird terror from there with the next story, There Will Be Blood. yeah, even more reason not to visit Baghdad. Great. Truly, if you are a Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green player, you cannot go wrong with this anthology series. Score: Party receives massive collective SAN loss, with the professor snapping and killing 3 other investigators with a fire hydrant she pulled up from the sidewalk with ease. Only the journalist escapes, but he’ll never, ever be the same again.

- Wolves of Odin (preview). Grant Gould + Vikings? Hel yeah! Read this bit of copy: “The rise of Christianity amongst the north-men has frustrated Odin, Father of the Norse Gods. Out of jealousy and anger, he has transformed three of his most loyal berserkers into unstoppable beasts, and set them loose upon his traitorous ‘followers’. Thor, God of Thunder, takes it upon himself to challenge his father’s madness by aiding a loyal warrior of his own: the viking Tyr. Along with the help of a witch and two strangers, Tyr must face the wolves and realize his own destiny.. Mmmm… I can taste the bloodbath already. Score: Party is frozen in fear and must drink much ale before venturing forth.

- Warhammer: Condemned By Fire # 3. If you play Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, or any fantasy game for that matter, then you should be reading this, if not for Rahsan Ekedal’s art alone. Follow a Witch Hunter of the Empire as he spreads his wrath! This comic has it all. Intrigue, action, blood flowing like cheap wine at a gothic frat party. This take is as dark as it is exciting. In this issue, we learn that Magnus Gault must be a big fan of Burn Notice! Not to be missed. Score: Three of the four companions are cut, smashed, and burned in an orgy of critical hits. The surviving fourth member soon throws himself to angry, chaos-tainted wolves to make the nightmares stop.

- Warhammer 40,000: Exterminatus. A nice, solid issue to kick off a new 40k comic. Abnett and Edginton deliver the good in a non-heretical fashion and leave the reader hungry for more. This series should appeal to you folks out there looking for something “Inquisitiony”. Plenty of action and violence, too! My only gripe is that while the art is competent, it doesn’t really click with me straight away. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t shake it. Still, an excellent issue. Dark Heresy players are required by Imperial Mandate to buy this title. Score: 2 members of the retinue wiped out with a multi-melta wielding Gretchin, 1 taken out by a mad Squat and 2 escape with terrible scarring.

SPOTLIGHT OF THE FORTNIGHT!


The Helm #1. From out of nowhere Jim Hardison shows up penning a comic that makes me laugh so hard I’m going to send him the resulting hospital bills. The main character is a present day dork loser who loses his video-store job and girlfriend on the same day and swings by a garage sale to find a talking helmet. After, er, being acquired, the Helm is shown to have magic powers and such. Oh, and Helm doesn’t like our protagonist much. This is a story where the superpower hates the hero who possesses it, and it’s incredibly funny to boot. Not for everyone, The Helm is a book that should appeal to many a geek and fans of lines like “Stupid gnome sword!”. There’s a hobgoblin, too. You’ll see. Score: Total Party Kill with Melf’s Acid Laughter Shower.

Other Funny-Books of Note: Pulp Tales #1 (Pulpy goodness!), Dominion TPB (Crazy transhuman disease terror!), Rex Mundi #12 (Alt-history buffs and occult fans rejoice!), Proof #10 (The best series with Bigfoot on the market today) and Zombies of Mass Destruction #1 (Zombies as military weapons? Huzzah!). Many more, of course, but these really stood out to me.

That’s it for the first edition of TOTAL PARTY KILL, kids. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed pouring it directly into Word from my brain-matter. I’m open to ideas, suggestions, requests and gifts of bacon, so don’t be shy about emailing me. Below are my email addy and a list of other places you can find me and contact me…

My hailing frequencies are always open.
Yes, I just said that. I have no shame.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see y’all in two weeks!

Steven Saunders



The daily webcomic I am enslaved to: ORCUSVILLE
Reviews blog: Diary of a Grognerd
Personal blog: My LiveJournal

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