<![CDATA[Happy Monster Press - Blog]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 15:57:23 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[ETU with the Roll20 Gang - 10/10/18]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 19:21:18 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/etu-with-the-roll20-gang-101018
The fight began with Ryo diving in to attempt to save the witches from the attacking Sword of Adam thugs. Ryo succeeded in taking down two immediately, but most of the rest, including their leader, piled on and attempted to take him down. CP and Marco joined in, and managed to drop two more of the thugs, while the witches made a hasty retreat from the melee. Matt also engaged in the melee with his switchblades, while Troy fired his wrist rocket and Mariana threatened the goons with her Glock.

Given that the Sword of Adam thugs were armed only with baseball bats, the threat of the Glock was effective, and two of them ran immediately. The remaining two, including Dan, the leader, fought valiantly but went down to hard attacks from CP and Marco.

The Seniors tied up the remaining thugs and removed Dan's Egyptian amulet. On closer inspection, Mariana found more hieroglyphics on the back of the amulet, reading "Hear Me!" CP, Matt, and Troy all examined the amulet; CP determined it was a talisman containing a ritual, Matt that the "Hear Me" phrase was an activation phrase, and Troy that the talisman was likely cursed. With the amulet removed, Dan appeared to have a complete change of heart, vowing to change majors from Engineering to Theology and preach peaceful dialogue between opposing views.

Shortly after midterms, a woman named Jenny Chapman contacted Mariana and asked to speak with her, saying that she had heard from Lisa Gray that Mariana and her friends could handle "hauntings". CP and Troy remembered Chapman's name from a list of members of the Neo-Birkhuhn, the Nazi Black Guard occult group that the heroes had tangled with previously. They opted to meet Chapman, but to approach her with caution. Chapman explained that when the heroes defeated the Birkhuhn back in their freshman year, they actually empowered the undead Franz Heimglimmer and gave him the power to return as a mummy. Horrified by this discovery, Chapman wants the heroes to help her destroy Heimglimmer before he ascends to immortality.

Eliminating the undead Nazi requires destruction of three caches of fetishes. The first is stored at the It's A Lock self storage facility, and Chapman directs the heroes there while she attempts to determine the location of the other two...
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<![CDATA[ETU with the Roll20 Gang - 10/3/18]]>Fri, 05 Oct 2018 19:12:06 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/etu-with-the-roll20-gang-10318
Senior year continues for the Roll20 gang with a late night encounter! As the students return from a research session in their bookstore hideout, they hear a cry of alarm from across the quad. Following up, they find a younger female student under attack by two small demonic creatures. The group swings into action, with Ryo and CP deploying fisticuffs and Marco wielding his trusty baseball bat. Moments after the action begins, however, three more men arrive wearing ski masks and also wielding bats.

One of the demons scores a hit on the student who promptly collapses, so Mariana dashes in to drag her out of the way. Troy readies his slingshot in case the newcomers are hostile, but they promptly join the fight against the demons. One demon goes down, but the second turns intangible and escapes. Ryo manages to strike it cleanly with a cold iron dagger, however, disrupting its concentration and returning it to tangible form, and one of the masked men finishes it off.

After the fight, the trio introduce themselves as the "Sword of Adam", and explain that they are dedicated to eradicating evil on campus. They tell the heroes that there is a dark ritual planned for the following night, and offer to meet up with them at 11:30 at the same spot to go deal with it. The group cautiously agrees. Mariana notices an interesting amulet that the leader of the Sword is wearing, and asks him about it; he explains he found it on a study-abroad program in Cairo at a souvenier seller.

The following day, the team digs into the Sword of Adam, but finds little information except for two interesting tidbits. First, a drug dealer was beaten the previous night and a note left with his stash that the attack was "the retribution of the Lord". Second, Marco remembers some handwritten fliers around campus decrying sinners; the group finds a flier and sees that the list of sins includes singing, dancing, and talking publicly with members of the opposite sex. An inquiry at the campus security office finds that they have no information about the fliers, but are concerned.

Mariana's internet research on the amulet reveals only a translation of the hieroglyphics printed on it - the word "Command". With some misgivings, the team decides to meet up with the Sword of Adam as planned.

The vigilantes seem much more relaxed at the second meeting, even using first names to refer to each other. The leader, Dan, offers the seniors ski masks, but they decline. He then leads the way to the Psychology building, where the group discovers four female students conducting a ritual. CP determines that the ritual is a means of memorizing knowledge - i.e. a way to cheat on exams. The Sword, however, destroys the ritual components; then the vigilantes turn their bats on the women. CP protests, and Dan says, "I thought you were sinners, with a woman among you. Get them!" A melee ensues...
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<![CDATA[Legion of Liberty Session 16]]>Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:18:35 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/legion-of-liberty-session-16Picture
After their successful recovery of the defector in Newport, the heroes return to General Sullivan. Sullivan has orders from General Washington to capture Newport from the British, but the courier information brought by the heroes indicates that storms at sea have delayed the French forces intended to support this assault. Worse, many of Sullivan's militia forces have completed their enlistments and headed for home, leaving him with 10,000 troops to face an entrenched British force of 6000 with naval support.

The absence of the French leads to some friction between Godot and the Continental Officers, and one, Lieutenant Edmund Bourne, attempts to provoke Godot into a duel. Godot uses his mind control to erase Bourne's memory of the most recent provocation and implant a memory of a convincing argument that the French are great allies, and the matter drops.

Sullivan decides to withdraw from Aquidneck Island, but deserters from his force betray his intentions to the British, who stage a surprise attack supported by three Greycoats. Two they have encountered before - Sergeant Daniel Dean, who wields a lightning sword with unbelievable speed; and Private Edward Roper, a survivor of the Battle of Salem. Intelligence reports help the Legion identify the third, Private David Longtooth, called the invulnerable man. Sullivan orders the Legion to engage the Greycoats while he manages a fighting retreat from the British.

The Greycoats, acting with surprise, quickly choose their targets. Dean attacks Francis, badly injuring him with two quick strikes of his lightning sword, while Longtooth engages Jacoby and Roper attempts to use mind control on Suzanna. While Roper's first attempt fails, the second succeeds, and Suzanna shifts into bear form and attacks the nearby continental troops. Meanwhile, Jacoby disengages from Longtooth and attacks Dean, deploying his newly-enlarged claws to vicious effect, and Godot uses confusion to break Roper's concentration and free Suzanna. Suzanna, still in bear form, viciously mauls Roper, while Jacoby and Godot finish off Dean.

In the larger battle, the colonists are somewhat demoralized by Francis's fall and Suzanna's attack, but manage to hold the British off long enough to organize a retreat. The Legion follows, hoping that the damage sustained by the British will be enough to keep them penned up in Newport.

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<![CDATA[Review - Tiny Epic Zombies]]>Fri, 07 Sep 2018 13:48:05 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/review-tiny-epic-zombiesPicture
 If you ever wanted a game where your pink meeple, armed with a crowbar and an assault rifle, could ride a motorcycle through the walls of a shopping mall killing zombies... then your name is probably Scott Almes, designer of Tiny Epic Zombies by Gamelyn Games. Tiny Epic Zombies is a 1-5 player game that takes about 30-45 minutes, mostly depending on how proficient you are with the setup. The premise is simple - you are survivors of the zombie apocalypse in a shopping mall, trying to achieve specific objectives before being overrun.

I'm a long-time fan of the Tiny Epic series of games - each of them comes in a small box with great components and each has its own distinct style of gameplay, from worker placement to 4X to head-to-head combat. The complexity of the games varies quite a bit, and I'd probably put Tiny Epic Zombies somewhere in the middle - it will take most gamers a few plays to get the hang of it.

The game has five different play modes. In addition to a solo version, there are two basic variables - cooperative or competitive play for the humans, and whether or not the zombies are controlled by a player. The main difference between competitive and co-op is whether each player is trying to achieve objectives independently or whether the players are working together to complete them. Adding a zombie player makes the game significantly more difficult for the humans - not only are the zombies attacking more strategically, but they can deploy special powers when one of the humans is "overrun", meaning a zombie is placed into the same room of the mall with a human.

Human players are managing three resources - individual health and ammunition, and a barricade at the center of the mall that must stand to protect non-player survivors - if it falls and all the survivors die, the zombies win.

Each turn consists of a human turn and a zombie turn. On the human turn, the player must move his or her meeple three times. Each time the player moves, she can kill one zombie, and can also potentially interact with items or rooms in the various stores of the mall. One constraint, however, is that most interactions require that the three rooms of the store be completely clear of zombies, which can be a tall order.

Once the human has finished his turn, he flips over a "Search" card indicating what he found on his travels. This card is placed in the same store as the meeple, and has a color code indicating which stores the zombies are invading. In some cases, these cards are useful equipment; in others, they are nasty surprises like explosions or extra zombies. The zombie player now deals the human a new card from her hand, and then places zombies based on the color coding of the search card, at a rate of one zombie per room of the store. If zombies reach the center courtyard, they damage the barricade. Play then moves to the next player. Once the zombie player has no more Search cards, the humans each get one more turn and then the game ends in victory for the zombie player - unless the humans can complete their objectives.

​There's a certain Pandemic-like vibe to the game, with players needing to decide whether to fight zombies to protect the barricades (and each other) or to pursue objectives such as guiding army units into the mall or discovering the cause of the zombie outbreak. The time pressure of the supply deck is also a very real constraint on the game, both forcing hard choices on the players and ensuring that the game does not drag on forever.

My main critique of Tiny Epic Zombies is that the flow of the game takes a little while to master. Inserting the zombie turn after each human turn can be hard to remember even with a zombie player, let alone without. With practice, though, I can see this game becoming a lot of fun. Replayability is great because of the changing layout possibilities of the mall and the different objectives available. If you like fighting zombies, I'd give this game a go.

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<![CDATA[ETU Actual Play with the Roll20 Gang - 9/5/18]]>Thu, 06 Sep 2018 16:18:59 GMThttp://happymonsterpress.com/blog/etu-actual-play-with-the-roll20-gang-9518It's senior year for the investigators, and a quiet first few weeks of term end when a former classmate of Ryo's, Veronica Nails, approaches him with a problem. Veronica tells Ryo that she accidentally spilled some black, oily substance on herself in her professor's chemistry lab, and that since then, she's been feeling a little headachy and detached. She doesn't want to tell her professor, Dr. Ramirez, because he docks a full letter grade for any preventable lab accident. Knowing that Ryo and his friends have a reputation for digging up useful information, Veronica asks him to find out what the substance was and whether she should be worried.

Ryo takes Veronica to meet the rest of the team, and they check her out both psychically and with their ghost-hunting gear. Seeing no signs of any sort of supernatural activity, they determine to break into the lab and see if they can figure out what the substance was. Troy makes short work of the lock at the chemistry building door, but he's brought up short by a complex keypad lock at the lab itself. Examining the lock and applying his Google-fu, Troy determines that the keypad is a Department of Homeland Security device connected to an alarm system. With a great deal of effort and some improvisation with his smartphone battery, Troy manages to access the lab.

Once inside, the team quickly finds the waste container, as well as a large number of other sample containers marked only with DHS number codes. Careful search of the lab reveals no information about the substance, so Ryo takes a stab at analyzing it using the lab equipment. Despite his limited skills at chemistry, he manages to determine that the substance is likely toxic if ingested, and also that it breaks down on exposure to UV light. The heroes attempt to clean up the lab and then lock it down for the night.

The next day, CP proposes an elaborate bluff - they will obtain some motor oil and ink and mix them to produce a vial of "substance", and then confront the professor about it. CP, Troy, Marco and Ryo go to Dr. Ramirez's office hours and say that they are investigating rumors that students have been breaking into Ramirez's lab and stealing materials to make LSD. Despite CP's persuasive skills, Ramirez will not disclose the nature of his work, so CP pulls out the vial and asks him about the substance. Ramirez then accuses the four of breaking into his lab and pulls his cell phone to call security, but CP knocks it out of his hand. The professor goes for his desk phone and CP threatens him with the motor oil vial, but the professor is undeterred and security arrives to take all four students into custody.

While the campus authorities interrogate the four unlucky seniors, Mariana follows Ramirez to his lab and enters, attempting to flirt with him to discover any information she can. Unfortunately, the information is not forthcoming, although Ramirez does encourage her idea about changing majors to chemistry.

CP, Troy, Marco and Ryo all stick to their story about the confrontation with Ramirez being a prank that went wrong; they are all released but put on probation. Any other disciplinary violations will result in expulsion from ETU.

At this point, Veronica texts Ryo and asks him to come to her dorm. The group heads over, to discover that Veronica has blacked out her room. She says that she has become highly sensitive to light and that the irises of her eyes have turned black. The heroes check their occult references, and still come up dry. As a result, they conclude that this phenomenon is probably the result of the substance, and Ryo suggests that she try UV therapy at a local tanning salon. This succeeds, and Veronica is cured.
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