Bloody Bear’s Reading Corner: Robopocalypse

I know as a bear I should be out doing bear things during the spring and summer because in a few months I will be hibernating or as I like to call it catching up on my online gaming time. What? You didn’t think bears actually slept the whole winter. We are really good at faking sleep when you come around.

Instead of doing bear things, I spent the day in the shade reading. I found a book that caught my attention enough to read in one day. The book, Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson is a page turner. The gist, in an similar, but different world, robots rise up to wage war on humanity.

Robopocalypse begins at the end of the war and through a series of interviews, recollections, and other devices tells the story of the robopocalypse from the beginning to the end. If you have read World War Z by Max Brooks or in my opinion the much better Journals of the Plague Years by Norman Spinrad then you will instantly recognize the style of story telling.

Each chapter is separate story that advances the time frame and tells an important moment in the war. As the story unfolds recurring characters meet with other characters and so on. Funny thing to me is, I read the entire book in one sitting and the story is the thing I remember, not the characters. The story was that interesting to me. However, the characters other than one who is introduced really late in the book were not interesting to me.

Part of the reason is because of the style of storytelling does not allow for a lot of character development. Sure there are moments where a scared character turns into a warrior and vice versa, but given the situation there is plenty of room for growth and development for the characters. Yet, none. Another reason is because the character types are expected, soldier, civilian, scientist, and so on.  None of the characters do anything to defy those expectations-the solider fights, the scientist figures out things, the hero is heroic. For me, it really was the story that kept me turning pages, I had no vested interest in the characters.

World War Z is zombies, much bigger, and tells a story of the world in peril better. There are a couple of characters I looked forward to learning their fate. The situation was interesting, the villains even though they were zombies were interesting. The robots in Robopocalypse at times read like a new car catalog-here is the shape and what it does and nothing more.

Journals of the Plague Years is a plague, a sexually transmitted plague. A short book especially when compared to the other two has characters I cared about. Has a unique situation, how does the country deal with a sexually transmitted disease and allow me to say the “solution” of taking the ill, drugging them up, arming them up and setting them loose on countries we are at war with was interesting.

If you are looking for a page turner you could do worse than Robopocalypse, such as Eye of Terror a book written so badly I flipped through the second half looking for good writing.

 

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB An Hour Later

Previously.

An Hour Later…

Standing next to their car after taking Chuck home, Whiskers asked for a second time, “Are you sure about this?”

“It’s a sneak and peek,” gesturing towards Tumbledown, “shouldn’t be a problem at all. You got your gear?”

Adjusting his katana and tightening his belt, Whiskers nodded affirmative.

Finding Black Myst territory took less time than they expected, gangers walking around made entry difficult. An hour of searching dead ends, alleyways, rubble-strewn corridors, and tunnels they found an unguarded battered door covered in Black Myst graffiti. The thump of music from behind the door shook dust loose onto both of them. Puddles drew her pistol and frying pan and stood before the door. Whiskers, one paw on his katana, used the other to yank the door open.

Puddles leapt into the room, pistol and frying pan ready. Twenty-four drug hazed eyes starred back at her, the dozen vapeheads clustered around the room and a battered purple did not react other than to take a hit from a vaporizer.

“Nobody move!” Puddles shouted leveling her gun at the group.

All twelve vapeheads bolted for the door, rushing past Puddles, knocking her aside in their eagerness to escape. Puddles, positive she saw someone matching the daughter’s description did her best to keep an eye on her. Unfortunately, two black and red clad gangers, previously hidden by the vapeheads, stood up from the couch kicking an unconscious vapehead out the way.

“We’re moving,” the larger ganger growled while reaching for her waist.

“So this is how you want to play it,” Puddles said aiming her pistol at the mooks.

The door slammed into Whiskers as the vapeheads bolted out of the room. He saw a blonde haired woman run past.

The larger mook pulled a vaporizer from her waist and took a hit, instead of the euphoric glazed expression Puddles expected, pure rage and a primal scream as she charged across the room popping razorclaws and elbowblades. The other mook activated a personal bubble shield and drew a handcannon.

                “shit.”

Ducking underneath Razorclaw’s drug-fueled rage swipes, Puddles cracked her frying pan against the back of the mook’s knee. Expecting her to fall down, Puddles swung for where her head should have been. Pain flared across Puddles outstretched arm from the back swing of Razorclaw’s elbowblade. Blocking a follow through swipe of razorclaws with her frying pan Puddles came close to losing her grip from the impact. Trying to get some space, Puddles hopped back from Razorclaw.

BOOM!

Handcannon fired. A huge hole appeared in the wall next to the door. Whiskers flinched when the hole appeared in the wall, the shot killing an escaping vapehead. Eager to get into the room, Whiskers lashed out with a claw swipe, knocking the last vapehead out of the way. Whiskers charged into the room drawing his katana, the etching blazing blue.

Blocking another swipe of razorclaws with the frying pan, Puddles arm felt sore and heavy. Razorclaw was aggressive enough to keep Puddles from shooting her. Roaring and frothing at the mouth, Razorclaw swung at Puddles head, following through with elbowblades. Puddles ducked and scooted back against the wall.

BOOM!

“How about a truce?” Puddles shouted, while ducking and dodging Razaorclaw.

Razorclaw turned as Whiskers rushed past. A momentary distraction, but enough. Leaping forward, Puddles slammed her frying pan against the side of Razorclaw’s head and jammed her Manstopper into Razorclaws’ side, pulling the trigger three times rapidly.

Katana held in a low position holo-etching leaving a blue trail ran past as blood from Razorclaw sprayed over Whiskers’ left side. Handcannon could not hear Whiskers through the bubble shield and focused on killing Puddles did not react when Whiskers stepped through the bubbleshield. Whiskers blade passed through Handcannon’s right leg. As he swung his katana up and then down the blue trail created an arc, the katana decapitated Handcannon before he finished falling to the ground. With his foot, Whiskers deactivated the bubbleshield.

“…and that’s what you get!” With the shield down Whiskers could hear Puddles yelling at Razorclaw’s body.

Wiping the blood from his katana on Handcannon’s body Whiskers took note; one-half of his body was red and sticky.

“You look like…”

“Don’t.”

“Fine, I won’t. Guess we aren’t going to get any information from these two,” Puddles said sarcastically.

“Should we continue on?”

“Can’t be too much left. Right?” she said with a shrug.

I Captured Bob The Ork

Our first game of Shadow War Armageddon felt…odd. With the new rules around the corner, using a combination of new and old rules felt at times clunky. But there was more than that.

Ten orks vs 5-man Inquisition team. Our boy’s orks, armed to the teeth with melee weapons. My inquisition team armed to the teeth with ranged weapons. He likes to close and chop and I like to set up lanes of fire.

He set up a massive jungle covered factory complex for us to fight in. I would share pics, but for some unexplainable reason (I asked he had no reason), he set up his team directly across from mine, taking a 6 x 6 board and reducing it to 3 x 6. I suggested otherwise. I asked. And he smiled like he knew something I didn’t.

He did not.

Summing up the action, he walked for three turns. I ran for one and shot for two turns.  He had 3 orks down before he decided to run and then bottled out or ran away to preserve his team.

Not very actiony. In fact, most of our play time was spent consulting charts. Lots of charts. Charts to hit because with all of the modifiers to hit introduced both of us had to roll over 7 on a single six-sided die. Yes, roll a 7 or more on a die that stops at 6. How do you do this? First roll a six, then roll again looking for 4 or more. Problem: When you roll a 6 that figure has to make an ammunition check, fail the check and the weapon is useless for the rest of the game. So even if you hit, you had a chance of running out of ammunition. See what I mean by clunky?

So now that you hit someone, consult a chart to see if you can wound them. Eventually the chart will get memorized. Next roll to see if they save the wound. If they don’t roll to see what kind of wound. In 40k a wound is a wound. In Shadow War a wound can be hide, lay there and bleed, or out.

I know with more games under our belt this will become easier, but I couldn’t help feel and still feel that this could be streamlined to keep the action and reduce the amount of time rolling dice.

Post game is interesting. In the vein of a campaign, each player goes through some end game steps. Get your reward of cash, a skill, or some other stuff. Those wounded figures find out what happened to them by rolling on another chart that can lead to rolling on one last chart.

With all of the above everyone had fun. That is most important. Our boy lost to me, but only because he didn’t charge the whole way across the board and he knew it. He also had Bob the Ork (his name) captured by my team so he has a reason to get back at me. Meanwhile onlookers were interested enough that an Imperial Guard team was created afterwards.

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB Six Hours Later

The revision of Chapter 5 is finished. The last 1/3 rewritten. Enjoy. 🙂

Previously.

Six Hours Later…

Looking down at the perpetual destruction and mess that was Tumbledown, Chuck asked, “When is the City going to clean up TDown?”

“Probably never,” Puddles replied looking around. “There’s no traffic here.”

“Usually quiet,” Chuck replied off-handed, “nobody likes to come here.”

“I can see why.”

The ruins of Tumbledown covered a city block and parts stood over 50-stories tall. A few months after the disaster, before the city could begin clean up, the undesirables of the City moved in, claiming the ruins as theirs. After several newsworthy attempts to move the squatters out, the City moved on. The residents of Tumbledown had to make their own way. Which is how Tumbledown grew and continues to grow into a sprawling and thriving city block, ignored by the city until something comes to a head.

“Look at that,” Chuck said excitedly pointing at Tumbledown.

“What am I looking for?” Whiskers asked, looking around from the driver’s seat.

Puddles nudged him, getting his attention pointing to the left, “That.”

Hovering over the ruins two police cruisers moved their spotlights over the ruins, stopping to highlight a work of art on the side of the remains of a tower. Nearby, a sensationalist vehicle filmed the entire scene. Below residents took cover.

The red navigation light blinked three times. “Torkal’s is right over there,” Chuck indicated.

“Where are the parking lights?” Puddles asked with some worry.

Descending all three of them looked out the window at a blank spot in the city. No lights. The closer they approached details emerged from the darkness, a black windowless building, a parking lot with a few vehicles, a person or two walking to somewhere.

“That is amazing,” Puddles said with awe. “I just noticed that there is a building on top of Torkal’s.”

“Torkal’s is the ground floor to the tower,” Chuck informed them. “There are no connections with the tower, people live and shop above, rarely knowing about the bar that is the first floor of their building. That’s lower Stroud for you.”

“Cannot say I have much experience,” Whiskers mumbled.

“I do,” Chuck said flatly. “Give me ten minutes before you enter.”

Clasping her holster in place, Puddles nodded. Whiskers nodded as he took in the surroundings; across the four-lane street an edge of Tumbledown, a mass of stone, metal, glass, haphazard construction, and other signs of life. The normal background noise of the City, almost non-existent. The normal sense of movement and life, also almost non-existent. The few people on the streets kept their heads down, moving quickly from one place to another.

“What a shit hole,” Puddles complained, “Do they pay extra for darkness?”

“They just might,” Whiskers replied with a smirk. Looking around one last time, “Ready to go?”

“Ready.”

The exterior of Torkal’s, light absorbing black, no windows, no sounds emanating from inside, and one undecorated black door. Standing in front of the door and looking up, Puddles and Whiskers could see where the rest of the tower resumed from the top of Torkal’s.

“Amazing,” Whiskers said after an appreciative whistle.

The door opened smoothly, the loud music pushed past them, and the bright multi-colored lights blinded both of them. Stepping inside the door closed quickly. Whiskers stepped to the right of the door taking in the scenery. Puddles searched for Chuck.

Against the back of the bar, a long unadorned bar with mismatched barstools spaced intermittently. Leaning against the bar, a human male with long hair. An unknown band filled the space with noise. Multi-colored lights meant for the stage flashed everywhere. Scattered throughout the rest of the space, more mismatched tables and chairs. Surprisingly, there were less than twenty people in the bar, including the band. Puddles nudged Whiskers in the ribs, nodding in the direction of Chuck and Scar sitting at a table in the corner. Whiskers noticed that other than Chuck, nobody payed any attention to them or their weapons.

Chuck stood up next to Puddles as they approached the table, “You found the place.” Leaning close to Puddles, “Don’t start any of your shit.”

Puddles took a step back, ears back, tail lashed twice, before she regained her composure, “You got it.”

Watching the exchange an illietheril woman wearing a grey and black urban camouflage shirt. Her neon green hair spiked tall with tiny motes of lights rising from her scalp to explode in a tiny burst of light at each tip. When Puddles stepped back, her namesake scar pinched her face into a fiercer expression.

“Sit,” she barked at them over the music.

Pulling a chair out, Whiskers sat down across from her. Chuck sat next to her. Puddles glaring at Scar stood behind Whiskers keeping an eye on her and the room.

“Scar,” Chuck gesturing towards Puddles and Whiskers, “Puddles and Whiskers.”

She nodded at both of them. She leaned close to Chuck’s ear, whispering into his ear, sitting back alertly when the front door opened. Scar relaxed after the person walked to the bar. Chuck stood up and headed to the bar, Whiskers felt Puddles tense expecting a confrontation. A few minutes later Chuck returned with a pitcher and four glasses.

“Drink,” Scar “asked.” While Chuck poured and served Scar asked, “Numb says you two need some local information, what’cha need to know?”

“Numb?” Puddles mumble asked to herself.

Whiskers passed her a glass of beer. Taking a sip of his, he tried to hide his distaste. Pulling his tablet from a pocket, he slid the table over to Scar, “Our client believes his daughters are hanging out there with their boyfriends.”

Scar’s barking laugh topped the music, “Here? He told you here?”

“Yes.”

“He wants you two dead then. No way. No how,” she finished with a slashing motion.

“Why not?”

Scar starred at Whiskers questioning his intelligence. She looked askance at Chuck, “They don’t know?”

Chuck shrugged and took another drink.

Gesturing at the tablet, which she shoved back, “This is Black Myst territory. They don’t have girlfriends. They have guns and vapeheads.”

“Is it possible his daughters are vapeheads?”

“Anything is possible in Tumbledown,” she responded off the cuff, “Only way you’re going to know is to ask.”

Puddles set her beer down, “Then we ask.”

“Then you die.” Scar stood up, whispered something to Chuck before leaving without a second glance at Puddles or Whiskers.

“We need to do some recon and fast,” Puddles urgently said to Whiskers.

“I agree.”

Finally Shadow War Armageddon

There is the game and the hobby. With most Games Workshop games you have to make a choice, do you play the game or do you work the hobby and then play your game. I am positive there is an in between where you do both, but I have never been that guy. I am either going to play the game with unpainted miniatures or I am going to spend the time to paint my miniatures and then play the game. I like to delay my pleasure.

Yes, I know I could play the game AND paint the miniatures. But I don’t and let me tell you why…okay I don’t have a why. I do have a story which is a combination of stories.

While working at the hobby shop I was routinely challenged to play games. In theory the guy selling you games should be the best or something like that. I and Big Man turned down no challenges. We really had little to do other than read games, learn games, paint miniatures, and sell games. Challenges were our way to have sanctioned fun.

Here is how most games of 40k went, if you showed up with unpainted miniatures we shot all of your painted stuff first. If you showed up with an army of unpainted miniatures or talked too much shit, we used our encyclopedic knowledge of the rules to end games quick. Our record 1-turn: we warned them repeatedly that putting all of your miniatures in a building was not good or smart. They stopped laughing at their fortress when it was leveled with all inside on turn one. If you showed up with all painted miniatures no matter how good or bad you thought they were we played you and had a good game.

Messed up I know. In my mind taking the time to paint your miniatures demonstrates that you have a vested interest in the game. In my experience people who take the time to engage in the hobby also take the time to invest in the game, learning the rules, being good players, and the like. Thus, my dislike of unpainted miniatures…I guess I do have a reason.

So here we are, over a month or two ago we purchased Shadow War Armageddon. Since that time everyone with one notable exception (cough cough Barb) has worked on their army/kill team (pic of our boy’s orks waiting to rumble). I encouraged everyone to continue painting their 40k army and to use part of that for their kill team, double dip.

My shoulder injury slowed me down, but feeling better I finally finished my kill team up in time to play our first games this weekend. Our boy and his orks are eagerly looking forward to kicking my inquisition to the curb. Our girl and her all pink imperial guard are chomping at the bit to get at the winner. She is bummed her tank will not see any play. We are thankful for that reprieve.

Keep an eye out for the images and game play post. 🙂

 

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB Working Chapter 5, 2

Okay, ugh on the title, but you get the drift, Chapter 5 needs a lot of work and as I am satisfied with each bit of work I bring it here. I know seems like a shifty way to add posts, but honestly this is how I work. I haven’t had this much work on a single chapter since I started. To make things a bit easier this post is a combination of yesterday (not the old stuff) and the new work. Oh the process of this writer. Hopefully someone is learning something. 🙂

****

Looking down at the perpetual destruction and mess that was Tumbledown, Chuck asked, “When is the City going to clean up TDown?”

“Probably never,” Puddles replied looking around. “There’s no traffic here.”

“Usually quiet,” Chuck replied off-handed, “nobody likes to come here.”

“I can see why.”

The ruins of Tumbledown covered a city block and parts stood over 50-stories tall. A few months after the disaster, before the city could begin clean up, the undesirables of the City moved in, claiming the ruins as theirs. After several newsworthy attempts to move the squatters out, the City moved on. The residents of Tumbledown had to make their own way. Which is how Tumbledown grew and continues to grow into a sprawling and thriving city block, ignored by the city until something comes to a head.

“Look at that,” Chuck said excitedly pointing at Tumbledown.

“What am I looking for?” Whiskers asked, looking around from the driver’s seat.

Puddles nudged him, getting his attention pointing to the left, “That.”

Hovering over the ruins two police cruisers moved their spotlights over the ruins, stopping to highlight a work of art on the side of the remains of a tower. Nearby, a sensationalist vehicle filmed the entire scene. Below residents took cover.

The red navigation light blinked three times. “Torkal’s is right over there,” Chuck indicated.

“Where are the parking lights?” Puddles asked with some worry.

Descending all three of them looked out the window at a blank spot in the city. No lights. The closer they approached details emerged from the darkness, a black windowless building, a parking lot with a few vehicles, a person or two walking to somewhere.

“That is amazing,” Puddles said with awe. “I just noticed that there is a building on top of Torkal’s.”

“Torkal’s is the ground floor to the tower,” Chuck informed them. “There are no connections with the tower, people live and shop above, rarely knowing about the bar that is the first floor of their building. That’s lower Stroud for you.”

“Cannot say I have much experience,” Whiskers mumbled.

“I do,” Chuck said flatly. “Give me ten minutes before you enter.”

Clasping her holster in place, Puddles nodded. Whiskers nodded as he took in the surroundings; across the four-lane street an edge of Tumbledown, a mass of stone, metal, glass, haphazard construction, and other signs of life. The normal background noise of the City, almost non-existent. The normal sense of movement and life, also almost non-existent. The few people on the streets kept their heads down, moving quickly from one place to another.

“What a shit hole,” Puddles complained, “Do they pay extra for darkness?”

“They just might,” Whiskers replied with a smirk. Looking around one last time, “Ready to go?”

“Ready.”

The exterior of Torkal’s, light absorbing black, no windows, no sounds emanating from inside, and one undecorated black door. Standing in front of the door and looking up, Puddles and Whiskers could see where the rest of the tower resumed from the top of Torkal’s.

“Amazing,” Whiskers said after an appreciative whistle.

The door opened smoothly, the loud music pushed past them, and the bright multi-colored lights blinded both of them. Stepping inside the door closed quickly. Whiskers stepped to the right of the door taking in the scenery. Puddles searched for Chuck.

Against the back of the bar, a long unadorned bar with mismatched barstools spaced intermittently. Leaning against the bar, a human male with long hair. An unknown band filled the space with noise. Multi-colored lights meant for the stage flashed everywhere. Scattered throughout the rest of the space, more mismatched tables and chairs. Surprisingly, there were less than twenty people in the bar, including the band. Puddles nudged Whiskers in the ribs, nodding in the direction of Chuck and Scar sitting at a table in the corner. Whiskers noticed that other than Chuck, nobody paid any attention to them or their weapons.

Chuck stood up next to Puddles as they approached the table, “You found the place.” Leaning close to Puddles, “Don’t start any of your shit.”

Puddles took a step back, ears back, tail lashed twice, before she regained her composure, “You got it.”

Puddles and Whiskers, WDB Working Chapter 5

I have so many notes about Chapter 5. I really am not pleased with what I wrote and then shared with you the reader. Sorry. The very first note, the opening paragraph that sets the scene needed a lot of work. Don’t believe me or more like do not want to search through 1,600+ posts, take a look. First the original:

Standing next to their car lights from surrounding buildings, holos, vids, and other advertisements normally bright appeared to intentionally miss Torkal’s, a bar across from the South-West corner of Tumbledown. The squat black building with no windows, only a front door contrasted with the towering neighboring buildings. The only light from two working streetlights and the ambient light from the city. Music from Torkal’s competed vehicles driving or flying by, the barker’s call from drug dealers and the occasional gunshot from Tumbledown. Unlike other parts of Stroud, everyone kept their heads down, except those people looking for trouble. Puddles checked her holster three times in the last five minutes. Whiskers, calm as always, remained alert.

“What a shit hole,” Puddles reiterated for the millionth time, “Do they pay extra for darkness?”

“It is odd, the lack of city environment here.”

“Looks like the rest of the city decided to move on from here,” Puddles pointed to Tumbledown, “Seriously, why hasn’t the city done anything about that mess?”

Whiskers shrugged, “Ready?”

“Yep, let’s go.”

Now the new opening.

Looking down at the perpetual destruction and mess that was Tumbledown, Chuck asked, “When is the City going to clean up TDown?”

“Probably never,” Puddles replied looking around. “There’s no traffic here.”

“Usually quiet,” Chuck replied off-handed, “nobody likes to come here.”

“I can see why.”

The ruins of Tumbledown covered a city block and parts stood over 50-stories tall. A few months after the disaster, before the city could begin clean up, the undesirables of the City moved in, claiming the ruins as theirs. After several newsworthy attempts to move the squatters out, the City moved on. The residents of Tumbledown had to make their own way. Which is how Tumbledown grew and continues to grow into a sprawling and thriving city block, ignored by the city until something comes to a head.

“Look at that,” Chuck said excitedly pointing at Tumbledown.

“What am I looking for?” Whiskers asked, looking around from the driver’s seat.

Puddles nudged him, getting his attention pointing to the left, “That.”

Hovering over the ruins two police cruisers moved their spotlights over the ruins, stopping to highlight a work of art on the side of the remains of a tower. Nearby, a sensationalist vehicle filmed the entire scene. Below residents took cover.

The red navigation light blinked three times. “Torkal’s is right over there,” Chuck indicated.

“Where are the parking lights?” Puddles asked with some worry.

Descending all three of them looked out the window at a blank spot in the city. No lights. The closer they approached details emerged from the darkness, a black windowless building, a parking lot with a few vehicles, a person or two walking to somewhere.

“That is amazing,” Puddles said with awe. “I just noticed that there is a building on top of Torkal’s.”

“Torkal’s is the ground floor to the tower,” Chuck informed them. “There are no connections with the tower, people live and shop above, rarely knowing about the bar that is the first floor of their building. That’s lower Stroud for you.”

“Cannot say I have much experience,” Whiskers mumbled.