Monday, May 23, 2016

Steel Victory Giveaway!

Like I said on Saturday, I'll be giving away a copy of Steel Victory. Interested? Check back tomorrow on how to enter.

Not sure if you're interested? Check out my review from last year below.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reviewer e-copy of this book from the author, who is both a friend and one of the players in my Friday night D&D game. Didn't stop me from buying a copy.

One hundred years ago, the vampire Victory retired from a centuries-long mercenary career. She settled in Limani, the independent city-state acting as a neutral zone between the British and Roman colonies on the New Continent.

Twenty years ago, Victory adopted a human baby girl, who soon showed signs of magical ability.

Today, Victory is a city councilwoman, balancing the human and supernatural populations within Limani. Her daughter Toria is a warrior-mage, balancing life as an apprentice mercenary with college chemistry courses.

Tomorrow, the Roman Empire invades.

It's very difficult to pigeonhole this book into a single genre. It's a post apocalyptic story, set in a city at the edge of the american wasteland after some nuclear war (WWIII?).

It's an alternate history, not just because of this war, but also because the Roman Empire never fell, and in the old world its primary opponent seems to be the British Empire, and the city that's the focus of the story is like an independent Greek city-state that serves as a neutral buffer zone between their respective new world colonies.

It's paranormal-fantasy because... well, elves, were-creatures, wizards, and vampires. Thankfully no one sparkles and the relationships mostly tend away from high school level drama, and more toward mature adult.

There's a lot going on in the too short 215 pages including an invasion by one of the empires that happens to coincide with a flareup of humanist activity within the city and the problems that causes. It's a rather on-point topic at the moment, but handled pretty well by the author.

The difficulty in assigning Steel Victory to a specific genre is never once an issue while reading it. You'll find yourself far too engaged in wanting to know what happens next to bother worrying about it!

My only issue with Steel Victory is that the author lets you look behind the DM's screen a couple of times, wanting you to know that there is a reason for this, that, or the other thing. It's something I recognize, since I've done it myself at the table. Feeling the need to prove that I know what I'm doing and not just making it up as I go along (even worse when that's exactly what I'm doing). Learning to have confidence in your ability to manage your table, to trust your players/readers to have faith in you takes some work.

But remember, you already have buy in. They sat at your table, they bought your book. They want to have a good time, and they're willing to go along for the ride, even if they can't see the background work that goes into it!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Inspirational Image: Stonehenge

The view from the center of the ritual circle is pretty nice for the sacrificial victim... at least until the knife comes into view.

Found on the internets.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Steel Victory leads to Steel Magic

Tuesday the cover of Steel Magic will be revealed to the wide world!

What's Steel Magic? It's the sequel to Steel Victory. What's Steel Victory? It's the first book in the Steel Empires trilogy.

To celebrate this milestone, I'll be giving away a signed copy of her first book Steel Victory with the cover reveal, and a signed copy of Steel Magic in July, when the book is actually released! (not necessarily to the same person)

Interested? Check back here on Tuesday! Can't wait? Go buy a copy today!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stonehell Fairies are Jerks

Session 11 of Stonehell was played on 5/6

Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 2 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Tink, a pretentious Elf 1 (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)

Stayed in town
Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Molly)
Narford, fighter 1 (Usually Emily, but played by me)

In town, the party hires Wormy III, and Gax the Spearman before heading into the dungeon. Going down the stairs, they hear the sound of Kobolds chatting and working on something. Once they're into the room they see the kobolds bricking up one of the doorways.Everyone stops and looks nervously at each other. "We saw nothing" Tink finally says, breaking the silence.

The kobolds nod, and one says "Us neither."

Heading straight for the dragon's caves and the well, the party sees and hears... someone down below. Shelly is lowered Mission Impossible style down the well, but drops a little too far into the room. Big smelly barbarians glower at her, and she yells to be pulled back up and is before the barbarians poke at her with their weapons.

Tink and Wilhelm think these may be the same ones they encountered before, and so they lower a flask of wine down, to much cheering from below. While they aren't the same group, once Wilhelm again sings them the song of his people, things go swimmingly well. They even offer to go with them, but the party declines.

Taking a new path, the party follows a twisting corridor to a dead end. Written in flame chalk is the phrase "This is a trap" though no trap could be found.

Moving on, they discovered a room with a stone idol squatting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by an intricate pattern of humanoid bones. No traps could be seen from the doorway, and after much hemming and hawing they used their 10' pole to disrupt the bones, sending them clattering around the room, all the while expecting something horrible to happen, and screaming in anticipation. Nothing did happen that they could see... so they scooped the idol up in a bag, and took it with them.

The next room had a scything blade trap that was easily found and disabled.

Tinkling laughter drew them to the next door. The party knocked, and the mirth was instantly silenced. Eventually a voice asked "who's there" which led to a conversation, and then opening the door to reveal a group of 6"-12" tall fairies flitting about a large pillared chapel of some sort. A circle of mushrooms was growing out of the broken pews that littered the floor. The party gifted some wine to the fairies, and they chatted for a bit. The fae folk told them of a treasure that could be found not too far away.

Moving on, the party opened the door to a room full of webs. "Light it up" was the consensus. The brilliant intensity of the fire lasted mere seconds as the room briefly became an inferno. THankfully the party was all out in the hall. The two giant spiders within the room didn't feel so lucky, and when the door was reopened, they came scurrying out. The noise also attracted the attention of a large pack of beetles that spit caustic oil.

The party ran for the fairies' room to recover from the fight. This worked in keeping from dying, but as the party drifted off to sleep, they awoke in the canyon without a single gold coin among them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Stonehell Brigand Caves

Session 10 of Stonehell was played on 4/15

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 1 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 2 (Nadia)
Narford, fighter 1 (Usually Emily, but played by me)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Molly)

Taking on as many hirelings as they can find, the troop heads out, determined to explore the upper trail that leads out of the canyon, making a quick stop at the (thankfully) empty wolf den. Once they hit the upper trail, they see and are seen by a trio of ruffians, who immediately turn tail and run back the way they came.

Following the fleeing bandits, they come to a large cave mouth. At the entrance the ceiling is as tall as two men, but quickly slopes down to a height of maybe 16". Even Shelly would have to crawl to get in. Narford drops down to look, and crawling through a little he can see and hear horses and a few men. The men begin to stomp and kick at him, but Wilhelm yanks him out before he takes too many blows to the head. The men in the cave tell the party to bugger off. With something of a shrug they do...

But just a little further down the trail they find the real entrance to the caves hidden (not well) by some bushes! With abandon, they head in, warriors at the front. There is a brief, and tense standoff with the 3 bandits in the cave, which ends when more start arriving. The fighting is close and brutal, with hirelings and bandits dropping quickly. Unfortunately for the party, the bandits keep getting reinforcements!

Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, the party runs for it, lighting the bushes on fire as they flee, hoping to forestall any pursuit.

Heading further down the path, the trail opens up into a valley. Down below they can see what looks like an abandoned tower. Feeling low on health and backup they decide to head back to town. As they get close to the caves they see the brigands tossing bodies off the cliff. When spotted they retreat back into the cave. The party gathers more brush and shoves it into the cave mouth lighting it on fire again, and run for it.

Gains: Shelly and Wilhelm level up
Kills: 7 Brigands, 1 Highwayman
Losses: Maxx, Guy, and several other hirelings

Monday, May 16, 2016

Painting Nathavarr The White (part 1)

Nathavarr is the dragon from the Dragons Don't Share II set from Reaper. I'm using these post to not only share the progress I make on him, but also to record what exactly I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and most importantly why I'm making the choices I am.

Let's start with what others have done. This is the box art, showing him painted up as a red dragon.

Since I'm painting up this set to work for Frostgrave, I figured that a red dragon maybe wasn't the best choice for a frozen city. So, a white dragon is the obvious choice. Painting white is hard, especially if you want it to look good. I've never been all that good at it, and I didn't just want to plop a dragon on the table that looks like unpainted Bonseum.

Aka Boring!

Now about the same time I was contemplating Nathavarr I received the Halloween paint color Spectral White in an order from Reaper. It's a just ever so slightly pinkish white, and that got me thinking. Since I'm doing most of my Frostgrave terrain in cool grey, a warm white might make a nice contrast. Not wanting to commit myself to painting the whole dragon, I decided to do a test paint using one of it's arms.

I started with a base coat of Dusky Skin, then a 50/50 mix of Dusky Skin & Spectral White. Then I gave the scales a wash of GW's Baal Red wash.

The scales got a couple of watery layers of spectral white.

And while it's hard to see in the pic, the edges of the scales got a bit of Warpaint's White. I really like how both the Dusky Skin sets off the white, and the Baal Red Wash looks between the scales.

I then painted the rest of Nathavarr with Dusky Skin, and stuck the arm on. It works... And you can really see the contrast between the cool stone and the warm of the dragon.

The next part is going to be the head... I certainly can't leave most of it Dusky Skin colored, even though there aren't actually very many plates/scales. Stay tuned for part 2!