Thursday, May 11, 2023

Cobra Trooper Week Part III - Hat Trick!

Finally rounding out the Cobra fireteam that I displayed about a week and a half ago, here's a tough guy from north of the border...

Hat Trick

Cobra Trooper 

Carter Fitzpatrick
Code Name:  Hat Trick
Primary Military Specialty:  Infantry
Secondary Military Specialties:  Sabotage, Self-Defense Instructor
Birthplace:  Blainville, Quebec, Canada

Class:  Soldier 1
Background:  Elite Athlete (Ice Hockey)
STR        DEX        CON       INT         WIS        CHA
14(+2)    10(--)     14(+2)     8(-1)       8(-1)      9(-1)
HP 10 (1d10+2)    Move 30 ft. (6 units)
Attack Bonuses (with proficiency)  +4 melee, +2 ranged
Skills:  Athletics, Intimidation, Demolitions, Insight
Tools:  Weights, Hockey Equipment, Land Vehicles
Languages: English, French
Saves:  Strength, Constitution
Weapons:  Simple weapons, handguns, two-handed small arms, heavy weapons, super heavy weapons
Armor:  All armor, shields

Legend in This Town:  Has achieved some fame as an athlete and can sometimes leverage this to his advantage.

Infantry Training:  Treats effects of exhaustion as if they were one level lower.

Hat Trick has always loved one thing more than anything else in the world: fighting.  Hockey is second.  Beer is third.  He's pretty good at all of them.

On the ice, Hat Trick consistently showed enough skill to garner the attention of pro scouts and was signed to a minor league contract.  Most of his time as a professional, however, was spent as an enforcer, and his fists got a lot more use than his stick.

While playing for a team in Manitoba, Hat Trick had an exceptionally good offensive performance one night, scoring three goals in a road game vs. the Springfield Blades.  Just behind the team's bench, three Dreadnoks happened to be in attendance, cursing his every move on the ice as it worked against the big money they had bet on the Blades.

When they confronted him after the game, Hat Trick made short work of all three of them.  A Cobra recruiter accompanying them was both entertained and impressed enough to convince Hat Trick to join his team for a chance at a real payday.  So far, he has worked to train other Cobra recruits in his scrapping style.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Cobra Trooper Week Part II - Apostle!

Part of my first Cobra fireteam with Blast Beat, Apostle is an original '83/'84 swivel-arm Cobra soldier that ended up in my collection as a kid.  I word it this way because I really don't remember getting it...I had an original '82 straight-arm version, and then somehow over the course of my G.I. Joe playing career, this guy ended up among the rest of my figures.  Maybe it was given to me?  A friend's figure that got mixed up with mine, and then was never requested back because it's such a minor character?  Maybe I traded for it?  A sign of my age, I suppose...I truly don't recall.  But I could probably be convinced that I remember any of those scenarios.

As a true old-school trooper, this seemed like a great figure to take on the Acolyte background from 5E.  As the only background put into the original 5E SRD (meant to serve as an example for others' work), I think it's also the only one that made it into the rules that Wizards of the Coast released this year under a Creative Commons license.  It just felt like a good match with an original figure.


Cobra Trooper 

Josiah Bell
Code Name:  Apostle
Primary Military Specialty:  Infantry
Secondary Military Specialty:  Sabotage
Birthplace:  Scottsboro, Alabama
Class:  Soldier 2
Background:  Acolyte
STR        DEX        CON       INT         WIS        CHA
11(--)    10(--)     16(+3)     11(--)     10(--)     17(+3)
HP 16 (2d10+6)    Move 30 ft. (6 units)
Attack Bonuses (with proficiency)  +2 melee, +2 ranged
Skills:  Insight, Religion, Animal Handling, Demolitions
Tools:  Land Vehicles
Languages: English, Spanish, Hebrew, Aramaic
Saves:  Strength, Constitution

Weapons:  Simple weapons, handguns, two-handed small arms (expertise), heavy weapons, super heavy weapons
Armor:  All armor, shields

Shelter of the Faithful:  May receive assistance from those who share his faith.

Infantry Training:  Treats effects of exhaustion as if they were one level lower.

Specialty:  Two-Handed Small Arms

Apostle grew up attending a snake-handling church in the rural American South.  Upon being introduced to the more esoteric teachings of Golobulus and the Cobra-La, he began to syncretize the two belief systems and ultimately found his way to Cobra as a religiously devoted recruit.

While not the most skilled of warriors, Apostle's belief that his work for Cobra is in service to a higher cause makes him a most formidable enemy.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

It's Cobra Trooper Week! Here's Blast Beat...

I guess it's a little lame to "start" Cobra Trooper Week on a Wednesday evening...but better late than never...?

Anyway, this guy's from the G.I. Joe Retro Collection Cobra Officer & Cobra Trooper 2-Pack.  I am pleased with the purchase, but I'm not the most discerning action figure fan.  If you're interested, I'd say check out some of the reviews out there, like THIS excellent one from the forums.

Blast Beat

Cobra Trooper 

Bjørn Thorsen
Code Name:  Blast Beat
Primary Military Specialty:  Infantry
Secondary Military Specialties:  Sabotage, Heavy Weapons
Birthplace:  Strømmen, Norway
Class:  Soldier 2
Background:  Musician
STR        DEX        CON       INT         WIS        CHA
12(+1)    18(+4)     10(--)     14(+2)     7(-2)     15(+2)
HP 11 (2d10)    Move 30 ft. (6 units)
Attack Bonuses (with proficiency)  +3 melee, +6 ranged
Skills:  Performance, Intimidation, Demolitions, History
Tools:  Drums, Bass Guitar, Land Vehicles
Languages: Norwegian, English
Saves:  Strength, Dexterity
Weapons:  Simple weapons, handguns, two-handed small arms, heavy weapons (expertise), super heavy weapons
Armor:  All armor, shields

Always on Tour:  Can usually secure food and lodging in exchange for performing.  Sometimes recognized by fans who are willing to provide more assistance in his efforts.

Infantry Training:  Treats effects of exhaustion as if they were one level lower.

Specialty:  Heavy Weapons

Blast Beat spent his youth taking every opportunity he could to travel into Oslo to check out the music scene, being especially attracted to the most extreme metal acts he could find.  In high school, he began drumming with friends in the band Nuclear Funeral.  They were a death metal band.  Or maybe a black metal band.  They weren't really into labels.  Or Satan.  But they did love loud sounds, explosive rhythms, and controlled chaos.

While Nuclear Funeral never achieved much fame outside of the local metal scene, Blast Beat's skill behind the drumkit was unmatched by most other musicians.  One night after a show, he was approached by a Cobra recruiter who felt that there had to be a use for the exceptional dexterity, hand speed, rhythm, and muscle memory demonstrated by Blast Beat.  With the promise of a steady income and the chance to blow a lot of shit up, he was soon on the Cobra payroll.

Blast Beat still likes to drum (and play bass!) whenever he gets the chance and occasionally considers returning to the life of a musician.  His dream is to one day share a stage with Cold Slither, the Misfits, and the Misfits.


(I used the Metal Band Name Generator found HERE, btw, to decide on "Nuclear Funeral"...)

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Coming up: Cobra Trooper Week!

The momentum of attention on the internet is a really interesting phenomenon...all those little incidental details and quirks that cause one idea to fall by the wayside while another goes viral.  I've drifted in and out of Reddit participation over the past few years, and I see things all the time that just make me...wonder.  I'll dig a little deeper into a subreddit and find a great post that leaves me thinking, "Wait, why am I just the third person to upvote this?"  And then some stuff, for whatever reason, just takes off.

"Takes off" would be a bit of an overstatement for what I'm transitioning into talking about, but the sentiment applies here.  The G.I. Joe subreddit is one of the main ones I visit these days, and I've posted a couple of things there.  I recently started what is almost certainly one of the lowest-effort threads I've ever initiated on Reddit - some pictures of my Cobra Trooper action figures with their code names - and it probably got the biggest reaction of anything I've posted.  I mean, I had definitely noticed that the denizens of the sub (a very friendly place, btw!) often just like to see pictures of toys.  Which is understandable.  It's a sub about toys.  But still...I was surprised.  The most groundbreaking aspect of the post is that one of the guys is holding a hockey stick.  So...not groundbreaking.

Blast Beat, Apostle, and Hat Trick

At any rate, I certainly ain't complaining, and it's inspired me to try and make this upcoming week officially Cobra Trooper Week here at Monstrous Matters.  I need to get some character backstories and game stats down on digital paper, and this is a great chance to do it!

I hope you'll join me.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Looking for thoughts on abilities for a 5e combat leader!

For the next little stone in the wall that is my effort to put together a set of rules with which to play with my 3.75-inch toy soldiers, I'd really like to nail down a Commander class.  (Appropriate that I used a wall as a metaphor for one of my hobby endeavors?  Maybe...)  I did a little rundown of the classes I want to start with HERE...for reference, I'm looking for a Soldier, Driver, Medic, Scientist, Commander, and Ninja.  Today, I shall speak of the Commander.  Also, as fair warning, I'm about to ramble...there's a TL;DR in italics below...

I think a Commander class is important for a few reasons.  First, I simply believe it's a fairly critical archetype in the genre, so that the roles of characters like Hawk, Duke, and Cobra Commander are covered.  I also think enough games have included a battlefield leader role that its utility and (ideally) fun are pretty well established.  I'm thinking specifically about classes from the D&D 3.5 Miniatures Handbook and the 5E-based modern ruleset Ultramodern5, both of which include a Marshal.

Finally, I really want to have a class that can be used to level up the leader of a warband over the course of a toygaming campaign, and adding to their leadership capabilities seems like an appropriate way to go about it.  The Miniatures Handbook, once again, had this slot filled by the Warlord class, which was a super-simple prestige class that really only applied to miniatures campaigns.  A level in Warlord, if memory serves, gives a character +1 to attack bonus, +1 to Commander rating (a value specific to the miniatures rules), and either +10 HP or +5 HP and an extra use of a spell.

I want the classes in this game to remain fairly simple anyway, so why not have a Commander class that does something similar, enabling quick-n-easy leveling in between battles, while also serving as one of the core classes?

One approach that seems to work is to give a battlefield leader the ability to impact combat simply by being among the troops.  The 3.5 Marshal has auras that grant bonuses to other troops, and the Ultramodern5 Marshal gets Command Presence abilities.  This is probably the way to go, although the direction I'm leaning is to give Commanders a small set of "commands" they can give with an action (or maybe bonus action), with a successful roll having the selected effect on the battlefield.  I'm thinking of things along the lines of Bardic Inspiration, but with a chance of failure, and possibly the ability to attempt one every round.

If these scale with a character's level in the Commander class, then advancement in power along with advancement in levels may take care of itself without even having to add abilities as the character progresses.  I suppose that might go against the intentions of "bounded accuracy" as it's built into 5E, but I really like the simplicity of it.  Players can know that all Commanders are able to try X, Y, or Z each round, and the magnitude of the effect is connected to level.  Nice and straightforward.

Oh!  And I do have plans to incorporate a sort of Commander rating into the activation mechanic of the game, so having that increase with Commander level, as it does with the Miniatures Handbook's Warlord, will also be a benefit for campaign play.

Okay.  So that's where my question for you comes in, my friends.  What are the key abilities that should be built into a Commander?  What is that X, Y, or Z that they can attempt each round?  A choice of bonuses to grant to those around them?  Handing out extra actions?  Extra HP?  Should they be able to choose different difficulty classes to have differing magnitudes of effect?  Should it just be simplified such that all abilities use the same target number?

Are you still reading?  Well...thank you!  For the rest of you, here's the...

TL;DR   I'm putting together a very simple Commander class for an action figure battling game based upon D&D 5E.  I'd like to give them (around) three different actions that they can attempt each round of combat, with successes granting boons to allies on the battlefield.  These abilities will scale with the Commander's level and should be simple and iconic enough that they can be easily remembered as the standard traits of a Commander.  I'm open to any and all suggestions as to what seems fun and fair!

Thanks for reading all this, or even skimming to this sentence...and please let me know if you have any thoughts!

Saturday, April 15, 2023

So, what are the G.I. Joe classes I'm looking for, exactly?

It's about time I put pen to paper in sketching out this game I have dancing around in my head, in which I get to play out scenarios with my 3.75-inch action figures.  G.I. Joe is a clear focal point for the first iteration of the rules, and I want to use D&D 5E as the mechanical skeleton.  So what classes do I need to include to make sure I have a complete enough base for the game?

Well, I have to start with the class that may just do the most work for me, the Soldier.  I outlined my take on it for this purpose in a post HERE, and my first crack at a character of the class is in a post HERE.

And then there are the drivers.  Part of the beauty of the 3.75-inch scale has always been the production of vehicles in scale, and the various operators of said vehicles are kind of a class in themselves.  Sometimes, of course, it may make sense to treat the drivers as soldiers with a specialty...


...but sometimes there are drivers who really have no need to be treated as soldiers...

Also from

And of course, at some point my Joe figures are going to have to cross over with M.A.S.K., CHiPs, the Dukes of Hazzard, Smokey and the Bandit, Dom Toretto and family, etc.  So...I think a Driver class is certainly in order.

What about medics?  Hmm.  It could be argued that some sort of specialist class could cover this and all sorts of other skill- and tool-based roles.  The healer, though, is sort of a tradition in these types of games, so I do like the idea of keeping it separate.  Maybe I could even take a route like the one explored in Ultramodern5, where medical skills are "game-ified" a bit by making some of them function kind of like spells.  Okay...Doc,'re Medics.

Oh yeah, and Scientists!  That's what I do, so I'm biased.  Maybe I'm the same class as Dr. Mindbender...?

This may be getting out of hand.  I'll ignore other sorts of specialists until it becomes vital, and that still leaves a couple that should probably be included.

The Miniatures Handbook is a D&D 3.5 supplement that I've always really enjoyed and which is a big inspiration on what I'm trying to do with this game.  The Marshal and super-simplified miniatures-campaign-only Warlord classes (plus the 4E Warlord) are worth looking at for inspiration on some sort of Commander class.

And of course, this is G.I. Joe.  So there have to be Ninja.  Or Ninjas.  Have never been sure which to write for that in plural form.

Yep, you guess it... from

Alright...that leaves me with Soldier, Driver, Medic, Scientist, Commander, Ninja.  That's very doable.  Time to get cracking.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

A file card for Gearhead...

I'm still planning to stat out Gearhead for gaming, but it's taking me a minute to settle on exactly how to handle driver types in the game.

You know what I can do, though?  Make a file card!

(The Filecard Creator can be accessed HERE and is a lot of fun.  Let me know if you know of alternatives, as I'd love to try them out.  FWIW, this one's really easy to use and was clearly made by someone - or multiple someones - who really enjoy(s) the property!)