M. Jared Swenson Productions

This blog chronicles my projects, developments, and all things related to tabletop gaming. I will try to avoid rants and reviews. Mostly games I'm developing, and progresses from my campaigns.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mobile Frame Zero Released

My book finally came! I covered this game as a Kickstarter post back in 2012 here. Now that the book from that campaign came in I have been extremely stoked to play. The book is beautiful.

First off the game itself has improved significantly from its old version, called Mechaton. They changed some rules and added a few extra things for the better. The rulebook was a pleasure to read because they put a lot of thought into the wording and explanations.
It is also has no lack of story and setting elements. It starts off with a decent piece of fiction set in the Mobile Frame Zero universe, with some excellent artwork. Then it goes into the rules, which takes up a major portion, and finally it has lego building instructions.

That's right. Simple instructions for getting you up and running fast with your own force of Lego mecha. Instructions like this:

I can't promote this game enough. It is fun, fast, and deadly. No unit sheets, cards, record sheet, etc are needed to play. It is all based on how you build your units and using dice. A definite recommend to anyone who has a passion for Lego, and loves a good simple and fast game about mecha warfare.

You can buy a copy here, also he gives away the PDF for free here. Check it out!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Adventures of a C.P.A. (Episode 4, Part 2)

The next day Hank wanted to see if he could get a way in. He took on a more flamboyant persona and talked to the guards the next morning applying for a security job. The guard told him he would need to come back later and talk to Apollo, the curator. He did just that, but changed his intentions. He talked to Apollo saying that he, Hank, deserved to be preserved in stone. He said it would add to the atmosphere and exhibit to preserve his beautiful face and body in sculpture. Apollo, who was a tall handsome imposing figure that radiated an aura of authority you would expect from his namesake (6'6", 230 lbs, gold hair, muscular frame, reflective makeup), leaned down to him and said "I'm afraid you have already been sculpted."

If you know Hank, you would know this would be a shock to him and his ego. Hank is very conscious of his looks and appearance, they are very important to him. His death was from a fire that left his whole body horribly scarred, and he has spent the rest of his life perfecting a facial mask to cover it up. This tall insensitive man insulted his look, and knew he wasn't as beautiful as he came off. Hank went back defeated, and hurt.

The rest of the group waited until after the exhibit closed at night to try their hand again getting in the building. This time it would be stealthy. The magical rune Flint had left made it easier for Hank to teleport everyone into the very room he left it in, and where our stoned friend lie. Their first shock came when they discovered the Kent's statue was now gone, but there was a new statue. A stone angel, with hands covering her eyes. This statue was not on a pedestal, and had no red ribbons around it. Flint noticed this and immediately started to get scared. He stared intently at the new statue, steeling himself not to blink. The rest of the group was confused as to why he insisted on never taking his eyes off the new statue, but when he explained they were even less believing. Flint is a big tv and movie fan, and being a fan of the British tv show, Dr. Who, he knows of a creature in the show called the weeping angels. If you take your eyes off of them, even for a second, they attack. Staring at them freezes them in place. Hank also noticed an image of the same type of weeping angel on a tapestry hanging on the wall.

Flint was able to convince Kody to smash the statue, hoping they would be easier to destroy in real life than in the show. Kody did not complain about getting an opportunity to smash some statues. He already didn't have a favorable opinion of the facility because of the capture of Kent and insult to Hank. With magnificent force he brought a summoned sledgehammer down on the statue, it seemed to pause as the pieces shattered, then fell to the floor. Flint breathed a sigh of relief and closed his eyes. Everyone looked at the pieces, then to each other. Then they quickly noticed that all the pieces on the floor were gone, and the image of an angel on a tapestry was gone too. Now the group was beginning to believe something behind Flint's ravings about his tv shows.

They found the best strategy was to go back to back, and keep a 360 degree view. Working their way to the pedestal where Kent used to be, Hank tried to scrye where it could be now. He found it was definitely still in the building, but toward a specific direction. Keeping back to back, they worked their way there, a double door at the other end of the room. Briefly one member closed their eyes, and found the 2 angel statues nearby in the room. Like an omnipresent voice in the room, they heard Apollo, the curator. With a smirk and in his baritone commanding voice, he warned them of being careful where they looked.

The group kept Kody at point, armed and ready to meet anything. When they made it there, he kicked the doors in, and silence. Hank and John who were next to Kody, but never looking at him, felt him go... stiff. Feeling him, his body was like stone. They then heard hissing of snakes, and the situation just went from bad to worse. A gorgon was in the other room.

John, the magic detector, had to concentrate hard and figure things out. He got the sense of how the magic worked here. Prime forces were what was keeping things in stone, so it could be reversed with some work. The weeping angels are just golems under control of the Apollo, an astral. They cover their eyes because if the gorgon were to look at them, Apollo himself could be turned to stone remotely. The group deduced that this gorgon was Electra, the famed sculptor and creator of the exhibit. John thought quickly and took a few blind shots into the room. Luckily he scored a hit. They heard a raspy female voice scream in pain and quickly leave the room.

The group was running out of time, because security in the building would have had to heard that. The rest took measures to prevent them from getting here too soon, and Flint went to work on the Prime magic that was holding Kody in place. Fortunately it didn't take much to break the bonds, and Kent's statue was in that room as well. Flint was able to free him.

Teleporting a group of people was very taxing for Hank, and even with no witnesses, it accrues some paradox. Reducing the number of teleportees would help with that. They decide to leave Kent behind, because he could make up a believable story, and had the connections to back it up. The rest left as the police arrived to the building.

Kent was able to return home, having talked himself out of the situation. Sure enough, the next day the exhibit packed up and left ahead of schedule.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Adventures of a C.P.A. (Episode 4, Part 1)

There was a new traveling exhibit in town. One of those that take up a local museum's space and shows off its collection for a few weeks, then moves on. This one was an exhibit of a master sculptor and artists who is known to do incredibly realistic and lifelike copies of pieces seen around the world and originals.

Because of its high profile, the museum would often temporarily hire extra security from locals for its duration here. Of this Kent was able to find work. The homunculus had a knack for protecting things, so it was not hard for him to get in. Over the first couple nights, he would tell the others what an incredible collection it is. Then one night, John noticed he did not come back from his shift. They could not get a hold of him. John had the sense that something was up, so he called the group together to see if they can find his whereabouts.

After purchasing tickets, which were not cheap, a difficult feat that took some money stretching by Flint. Nightfall LLC wasn't doing so well financially, so they have to really watch where the money goes. Trying not to lose one of your members seemed like a worthy cause, however.

It was during the day so John couldn't accompany, but Hank, Kody, and Flint did go. Once inside they too noticed what Kent was going on about. It was quite an impressive collection, and the statues were extremely lifelike. Almost too lifelike. In fact, what got everyone concerned was a new piece labeled "Guardian" and it looked exactly like Kent. A Kent in an alarmed pose, reaching for his sidearm.

The group wanted to work some magic on it and take a closer look, but people were everywhere, and security was tight. They needed a distraction. Kody already knew what he had to do.

In the museum, naturally there was a natural history/wildlife wing. Kody made his way there, found the display of the bears, and shapeshifted to one himself. Suddenly screams were heard that escalated, as people came running "There's a bear loose!" The security all heard the call, and rushed to that area. Hank, being the improv man himself, took the role of curator and announced a minor security breach, and escorted people out of the room, leaving him and Flint alone. Flint immediately tried to read what was holding Kent in a spell, if that was even Kent at all, but got nowhere. Time was running out.

Meanwhile, Kody was dealing with incompetent trigger happy security guards who were recklessly endangering everyone while trying to deal with a bear. He was able to get into a ladies bathroom, and shapeshift to his human form. Having taken a shot while in bear form, he was bleeding. When he exited the ladies room, the guards caught up, and he pointed which direction the bear went. They followed the prompting. Hank arrived to help his wounded companion.

The situation got intense enough that everyone was leaving the museum. Flint was able to subtly inscribe a Correspondence spell behind a curtain on a wall to make it easier for breaking in the museum later. The three got out with the rest of the crowd.

There was more than meets the eye about that place. And the group was determined to see what it was, especially if it could lead to getting their friend back.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Kickstarter: The Reaper BONES minis are in!

I just got my huge shipment of minis in! It took 2 full evenings to sort them out for Rucht and Scott. The amount of minis was pretty overwhelming. Even after my third, I think I may have too much!

My wife didn't realize what she signed onto until she saw the full shipment laid out.
My nifty sorting trays. It was just easier to separate them by color on the master Reaper Draft image.
For those of you who missed out on this once-in-a-lifetime minis deal, I'm sorry, but for those of you who didn't, I feel you bros.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Serro's Ship Log

Entry 225

From what I could understand, the battle was still going on in orbit. Now we had to just worry about this ship above the palace. Once again the captains convened. We decided the best route was to sneak into the ship.
Primeus Regulars

Using a risky maneuver, we were able to hide our ship at the edge of the stormy atmosphere of the world, and drop pods into the topside. We couldn't get underneath where the armor was weakest because all ship guns were pointing down and ready.

Our little invasion force was able to burrow in, thanks to our boarding pods, and take out some of the security when we got there. They didn't expect us coming. But of course, fighting off the guards raised an alarm. I was able to get into the system in time and bluff security that there was indeed a hull break and intruders, but it was happening clear on the other side of the ship. I figured a lie with partial truth would have gone better than a full fledged lie. It seemed to buy us some time.

We fought our way to the bridge, only to find it empty and completely locked down. Gra' was kicking himself for not remembering that. His career specialized in ship boarding, and larger capital ships generally had secondary bridges where all personnel would go to during a boarding. This would help to foil any attempts to taking over the ship.

I had to do some digging amongst the fight to find where that was, as security had caught on to my ruse from earlier. I found it in a sequestered area. One in which we couldn't all get to easily. Luckily I was able to find some venting and pipes that Jin'kins could squeeze into. He was trained for this sort of infiltration. While we were making our stand inside the deactivated main bridge. I guided Jin'kins through the complicated venting system in getting to the panic bridge.

We found that someone has been tracking me down. It was Honek, that hezak merc and his gang, and heavily armed. He seemed to be more anxious in getting to me, but Gra' and our battlebred friends were able to hold him off. Jin'kins was able to work his way inside, and took out the ship captain, a burly Primeus fairin with an ancient sidearm he used initially. But Jin'kins skill in close quarters were unmatched. He held the rest of the crew at gunpoint and commanded them to reactivate the main bridge.
Battlebred Shocktrooper

Once the bridge was lighting up all around me, I got the word out to the rest of the fleet that we had successfully taken over the ship, and Gra' was able to finish off the mercs that had been dogging us this entire adventure.

So now that closes the chapter. We had gotten commendations and considerable pay for our work, and it seems Melthos now had complete control over the trade world. It could grow now, and get stronger, as it needed to be.

Gra' Jin'kins, and I were offered permanent employ under Melthos and charge of trading on Krutos, but I declined. I didn't want to be tied to a single nation. I liked my freedom. I wasn't going to give that up.

The End

Friday, April 5, 2013

Serro's Ship Log

Entry 224

Getting to the transport control hub wasn't going to be something we could sneak to. We took the Streetripper and punched our way through the missile pods on our way there, mainly with backup from Melthos fighters shooting missiles behind us. The Streetripper is of cardoon make, so Gra' drove it, and he was able to do so quite well.
Primeus Militia

We arrived at the transport control hub and rode a hovercraft to the top floor. That would be where I would need to jack in to take it over, but the place was well defended.

Primeus Drone MC
We found a guard of heavily armed units and CAFs waiting for us. We had some casualties, but was able to finish the job when I found a crate filled with a large combat drone that I hacked to work for us. The final obstacle was a Heavy CAF that we got by having my combat drone grapple it and fall off the ledge. We had conquered the transport hub, and things were looking our way.

But outside something else incredible was happening. The storms that normally dominated the atmosphere got even more chaotic and lower to the ground as though a massive ball of fire was descending from the sky. Much to our amazement it was a Primeus capital ship, the Zodius, burning up from reentry. It would seem that the ship was crashing from the battle that was taking place in orbit, but the vessel slowed and the the sheer force of the anti-grav generators smashed all the windows in all the buildings for miles. It hovered directly overtop the planetary ruler's palace and opened up with all of its guns, blasting a mote surrounding it. The ship was creating an impossible obstacle to protect the family from instrusion and takeover. Smart move too, the next goal of our invasion force was to capture the family.
View of the Zodius from the Hub
Zodius creates a mote around the palace

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kickstarter: Dwarven Forge's Game Tiles

Veterans of the hobby would definitely recognize the name Dwarven Forge. They create and sell a breathtaking line of dungeon tiles and indoor terrain for use with roleplaying games. Now they have realized that with the cost of materials, their product is becoming more and more out of reach to players, so this venture into kickstarter is to help solve that.

This is starting a new line of tiles which are all plastic injection molded (as opposed to hand-casted like the rest of their line) and in a PVC material, instead of an expensive resin.

Just like the big BONES kickstarter, this is following a very similar, and very smart, pattern. As stretch goals are reached, additional pieces are added to one of the key backing levels and above. Again as we saw with BONES, this is a great way to get momentum going. And it has. The project just hit $400,000 as can be seen here. And they can come unpainted to keep the costs low (but you can also spend extra to get them professionally painted).

So let me bust out some numbers here: First off, the key backing level is $120. Any level below that, and they don't get additional pieces added from the stretch goals. According to the site, shipping for this is included, but is worth about $23. So the tiles are going to be about $97. At this level you get 2 basic sets, plus whatever stretch pieces are added. As of right now, the above pic shows what you are getting. 106 pieces total. That amounts to $0.92 per tile. A much better deal than their old sets. But again, as the funding rises, more pieces are added, making each tile cost less and less.

This all being said, it is still expensive. I could drop $120 into this, but not sure how much I want these tiles. On top of that, he is using an expensive shipping service, US Postal. To ship international (including Candada) you must add a whopping $70 to your backing. I wish I were kidding.

This is one of those projects that I want to see succeed really well. Because I feel it is a step in the right direction for our hobby, but I'm not sold enough on it. I do really like their scifi tiles or cave tiles they currently sell in the old format, and would rather see them instead of boring dungeon tiles. So I PM'd the creator of the campaign and asked him if he is planning on doing other campaigns in the future for his other set themes. I got the following response:
Thanks, Jared. Yes, our intent is to build this new line into different themes. It's too early right now, however, to know how many or how fast that will happen.
All the best,
This is good news for me. At least if I decide to pass on this kickstarter now, I won't be kicking myself for the rest of my life. There will be more in the future, and I hope he continues the same format for backing.

What do you think?

Examples of their Caverns and Sci-fi tiles.