We finished the mini-campaign we were playing in Tales from the Loop two weeks ago and swung back onto our Hollow Earth Expedition game. The characters were investigating reports of a strange, lost island in the South China Sea near the Philippines, and had been tracking down the crew of a freighter that had escaped in Hong Kong. They found them in the recently closed Peak Hotel — a massive art deco pile from the turn of the century that was closed only a few weeks earlier. In the interim, it was being used by the British government to hold the crew of the Den Wu and question them as to what they had found.

Our characters slipped into the hotel — abandoned and a bit creepy — during a massive thunderstorm. After a bit of sneaking about, they were discovered by the members of British Intelligence, and specifically a group stood up in 1933, after the Hollow Earth Expedition by Admiral Bird and the characters (and with the help of the Ahnenerbe in the airship Deutschland).

MILITARY INTELLIGENCE 13

Known as the “Weird Boys” or the Scientific Intelligence, MI-13 is under the authority of the Home Office. Led by the Chief, MI-13 General Aubrey Milton, and his Deputy Chief, Dr. Trevor Ansom — the man who discovered the White Apes of the Congo, the service hires its people from an eclectic mix of scientists and explorers, soldiers and spies, and mystics. Unlike their other secret services cousins, MI-5 and MI-6, the Weird Boys are not headquartered in London, but in a large country house near Oxford University. Their major stations are Hong Kong, Calcutta, Jerusalem in the Palestinian Mandate, Toronto, and Sydney.

Small teams are sent to investigate sightings of strange creatures possibly related to the “ghost world”, as the emerged Hollow Earth was called, strange events that cannot be explained by current science, and advanced research being conducted by other countries that have recovered some of the technological marvels of the Atlanteans. They have a friendly rivalry with the American Office of Scientific Investigations, but their dealings with the paranormal division of the NKVD have been more violent. Of great concern is the rapid development of repulsion technology by the Ahnenerbe division of the Gestapo, which has been reverse engineering Atlantean flying saucers.

One of the least “secret” of their agents an apeman who had been deposited by the emerging Hollow Earth in Hong Kong — a philosopher named Artistotle who has since adopted the name Aristotle Strange. He has actively immersed himself into the culture of his adoptive Britain.

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My love of the Eaglemoss Battlestar Galactica  line continues with the arrival in March of the Viper MK VII. As with the other fighters in the set, it’s about 8-9 inches long (so not to scale with the MK II, but roughly the same size as the old Art Asylum/Diamond Select version) and the detailing is fantastic, and much closer to screen correct than the older AA version. This one is carrying the call sign for Apollo with the tail number 2276NC. Like the MK II, the cockpit is dark plastic, so you don’t have an interior cockpit modeled, unlike the Art Asylum models of the early 2000s.

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As with all the Eaglemoss models, it comes with a short booklet that has an interview with the designers of the spacecraft, as well as Ronald Moore.IMG_0634

It’s a handsome thing, but is it worth it? If you’re a BSG fan, abso-frakin’-lutely.

Look what followed me home…

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This early to mid-90s era Interarms Walther PPK had been sitting neglected at the local neighborhood gun store for months. I had been considering the Glock 42 next to it — a pre-owned but never fired piece, but the historian in me was drawn to this treasure, and I beat the guy down to $300. Hit the range and dropped 100 rounds through it. No jams, one failure to fire from a dry and dirty firing pin that was quickly remedied.

It’s about the same size as the Glock 42, but about twice the weight. Still, that fixed barrel: it’s a tack driver.

Massive bout of the fly for the kiddo and wife at the same time. Student teaching at a local high school while teaching a new class I’ve never taught before at community college. Once of the hardest schedules I’ve had since the military life…

But I’ve gotten frocked as a secondary teacher and the job search in on. I’m slowly transitioning into the summer writing and editing season and art queries for Gateway to the East, the sourcebook to 1930s Istanbul for Fate and Ubiquity in in the offing. We’re hoping for our usual late summer release — here’s to hoping we don’t get buried by a massive number of coold Kickstarters this year. They murdered the launch of Sky Pirates of the Mediterranean, which is our first flop for Black Campbell Entertainmentand seriously made me rethink a bunch of our release schedule, as well as question why I was doing any of this. (While, strangely, the stuff we pulled turned into Airships of the Pulp Era, which sold well enough to almost cover the disaster that was Sky Pirates.

I’ve been widening our gaming group’s selection of play, and my wee daughter requested and has started playing Dungeons & Dragons with me GMing. My Eaglemoss addiction has spread from the Battlestar Galactica line to the stunningly beautiful John Eaves designs for the Federation starships of Star Trek: Discovery. So there will be a few reviews on those coming.

January brought my latest shipment from Eaglemoss’ new Battlestar Galactica model run: the original show’s Cylon Baseship. Like the rest of the models from this series, the detail is extraordinary for the size.

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The model is about 8″ in diameter and they didn’t skimp on the detailing on the inside of the twin hull sections. The semas are well hidden on the inside portions of the saucers. Here it is in comparison with the new Galactica.

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I continue to be quite pleased with the work on this series — enough so I picked up a few of the small Star Trek pieces (not as good, but not bad). As with the rest, it comes with a 14-page booklet on the design, filming, etc. of the ship.

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The unit price on these is $54 or so, depending on where you look. If you’re a BSG fan looking to show your love (and annoy your roommates or significant others) on your shelves or mantlepieces, it’s definitely worth the price.

Side note: The Star Trek: Discovery line of ships is larger than the 3″ ships that Eaglemoss did for their main Trek line and they look great! 

With a few players down for our usual Hollow Earth Expedition group, we decided to kick the tires on Tales From the Loop. This is a game that’s been getting a bunch of good press — it’s an ” ’80s that never was” game where you play middle school/early high school kids investigating a weird techno-world in Goonies-style adventures.

We used the canned Boulder City, NV setting — it’s a real town, so I hit the interwebz and pulled down as much info on the 1988 BC as I could. We did character creation for three players in the space of a half an hour, using the checklist they had to let the players define the kids’ trouble, pride, and other elements of their personality and family life. We had the trailer park troublemaker who was the leader/defender of the group, his best friend and wannabe musician, their photography geek buddy. They would later be joined by the latchkey kid with a nurse for a mom (“punk rock!”), and the ham radio/phone phreak.

I ran the Our Friends the Machines adventure, more because one of my players is a mover and shaker in the Transformers fandom and I thought he’d appreciate the “Go-Bots of Go-Bots” quality of the adventure. They tracked down the toys that were a distributed intelligence and used the ham radio to good effect to jam their signals and dumb them down. It ran so well, we opted for another adventure.

The system is dead simple: it’s a dice pool of one of your four attributes and the associate skill (if you have it), and maybe a die or two for an iconic item. Get at least one 6 for most things, maybe 2 or more if it’s a really tough task. We’ve been surprised by the number of times we get no successes. Fortunately, there’s a luck and a pride mechanic to let you roll failed dice. You can also “push” the test by taking a condition. The GM doesn’t have to roll, so it’s pretty easy to run the game. The kids can get tired or scared, or injured, but death is off the table, and you get healed up by hanging with your anchor (a person you trust and confide in) or hit the hangout/hideout together. The characters’ is in a bomb shelter in the backyard of the photo geek’s house, complete with bunk beds, a storage room, dumbwaiter to get things into the hideout, and a bar and TV.

Free League is making some great stuff and it is being distributed by the behemoth Modiphius. It’s running $50ish buck for the main book and it’s definitely worth it. Buy the GM screen for the full ’80s gaming experience. I’ve backed the Kickstarter for Things from the Flood the ’90s follow-up/sequel game and should be getting it in a few months. I’ve also picked up Forbidden Lands, their strangely old school-feeling fantasy game using a more complex set of these rules.

So, as you can guess by that last paragraph, I’d say it’s worth the price.

bannerI’ve been hammered this semester with a fair amount of work. The college I work at doubled up my classes (yay, money!), and my teaching certificate program (wait, haven’t you taught for years…yes, but not high school so that’s entirely different! But it’s not…), and the usual collection of life stuff, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busting out words on Gateway to the East, our upcoming guide for pulp-era Istanbul. As with the other Black Campbell books, it’ll be for use with Ubiquity and Fate. I’m estimating a final page count of about 80 pages — on par with our Shanghai book, Queen of the Orient. There will be two adventures included in the sourcebook.

Depending on work schedules next semester, I’m hoping to have this out by the beginning of the coming summer, as end of summer seems to be a popular time for the Kickstarter campaigns of other games to fire up and we got lost in the onslaught this year.