Monday, March 20, 2017

Iron Fist (eps 1-5)

Netflix dropped Marvel's Iron Fist this weekend, and while I didn't manage to finish it, I did find the time to get through the first 5 episodes, and expect that I'll finish up the series by the end of the week.

There's already been a lot written about the various issues that Iron Fist has just from it's core concept (poor little rich white boy orphaned in a plane crash, raised by monks in a mystical Himalayan monastery, comes back with supernatural powers to save the day, bringing with him a host of politically incorrect racist issues). And those issues are all as true today as they were when the comic came out in the 70's. There's also the complication that as the 4th and final member of the Defenders to be introduced, Iron Fist is somewhat constrained in what it can bring to the table. On top of all that, there's the fact that Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage set a high bar for what might be the weakest concept of the quintet.

With all that acknowledged, Iron Fist still manages to be an entertaining show, even if it's the weakest of the set. Danny Rand coming back to the real world 15 years of time in a mystical monastery? Rather a lot of fun! I appreciate that in some ways he's still that 10 year old boy, or at least he's channeling that boy, regressing a little as he tries to find his footing, and is rebuffed by those who knew him before.

Connie Wing is a great support character who is being set up for a nice story arc of her own. I really appreciate that she isn't a clean cut 2D character, but more of a conflicted real person.
The Meachums are an interesting pair, storywise. I'm a little unsure of how they're going to work Joy's story line, but Wade, ever and always an ass in his dead father's shadow, is clearly going to fall like a domino soon. I do kind of think that after a decade spent running Rand Corp that they'd be better at it. Then again, I expect people in power to be competent, when clearly they so often aren't.

The Night Nurse of course makes an appearance, and as always she's the one in any of the shows who, as my friend Hanna put it, "continues to be the only rational person in this universe."

Then, of course, there's the real bad guys, the Hand!
Every bit of Madame Gao has been wonderful, and I want more!! And while I'm only about a 1/3 of the way though the show, the hints as to where this is going, and where it might go with the Defenders? Tantalizing... 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Reaper's Phone Box aka TARDIS 2.0

As I'm using The War Doctor and #9 as my apprentice and wizard for Frostgrave, they of course needed a TARDIS! Now I have already painted one of Reaper's Telephone Box but I gave it away as a gift. So, time for box 2.0!

After cleaning up the mold lines, I primed it with Blue Liner.

I then brought up the color by mixing Blue Liner with Heather Blue

The whole thing got several washes of GW's Asurmen Blue.

The windows were blended up from a mix of Stone Grey and Linen White, While the spot for the sign on the door was Bleached Linen. The door handle and keyhole are filagree silver (I think)

 I made the Police Box sign using MS Word and printing it out. Each sign, when trimmed had a sharpie marker run along the edge to blacken it. The lintels where the signs would go got painted black (I don't remember which black I used. Noir probably) and then a touch of superglue was smeared across it, and the signs stuck on. The sign on the door was made the same way.

I might just have to give it a scenic base...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Stonehell: Questions... Lots of questions...

Session 28 was also played on 2/19.

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 5 (Julia)
-Helmut, war dog
-Xerxes, Human Fighter 1 (Henchman)
-Yolanda, Human Fighter 1 (Henchman)
-2 torch bearers (Z, A.A.Ron)
-6 men at arms (O, T, U, W)
Nilbog Dracon, human wizard 2 (Matt)
Eiric, wizard 1 (Kat)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Yaqen, elf 1 (Shaun)
Leroy, human fighter 3 (Mike)
Sarin the Ugly, Human Fighter 1 (Josh)
??? (Laural)
Unnamed, Elf 1 (Nicole)
Karlaih, Human Thief 5 (Mollie)

As our usual Friday night game got shifted to Sunday, we started earlier, and decided to keep going after playing our usual amount of time. Since the characters had made it back to town, I gave them XP, and then we continued as if they'd rested and recovered from their previous run in the dungeon.

While restocking in town for their usual supplies they stopped by the local jeweler, Boss Ogo, to pick up a chunk of quartz for Rocky.

The journey to the dungeon, and into it was uneventful, but on the way to Rocky, they spotted, and were spotted by a group of the Ghost Beggars with their distinctive yellow and black checkered cloth. Both groups decided to avoid contact and continued on their own ways. At Rocky's, they gave him the quartz, and then asked their questions:

Q: Where exactly in stonehell is the magic school?
A: In the sacrificial chamber of Galishma, now defiled in the second way, jump the pit to find the door"

Q: Can we ask you a second question
A: Yes


Q: What is the exact path to get to the school safely?
A: There is no safe path.

Annoyed at both Rocky and themselves, they head back to the Korners, and spend a day sulking over mushroom beer, and then return to Rocky the next day.

Q: What is the safest route to get to the sacrificial chamber?
A: *Long string of cardinal directions*

Q: Is the wizards school located in this or another level, and which?
A: This level

Q: Where is the key to the great stone doors (27)?
A: In the heart of a shattered hero.

The party spends a while discussing the answers they've gotten so far, and then head out toward the Contested Corridors. While exploring a stone colored toad popped out of a pile of rubble and attacked, its tongue wrapping around Nilbog's neck. Wilhelm charged in and swung his ax first severing the tongue and then cleaving into the toad's skull.

Deeper into the halls, they come to an octagonal chamber painted with scenes of a hot dry desert, and containing a statue of a sphynx. Inscribed on the statue's base were unreadable runes. Nilbog used "Read Magic" to decipher them, and when Wilhelm threatens to smash it, he calls out the statues name, and she speaks her riddle.

"People are hired to be rid of me, I am often under your bed. In time I'll always return you see; bite me and you're dead."

Unable to come up with the answer, the party tries to leave, and is blasted by hot sand. Someone yells out "mold!" and the party is again blasted by sand. Wilhelm hefts his pickax and smashes the statue. The injured and fallen are gathered up, and everyone heads back to the Korners to recover.

Kills: 1 toad

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thoughts on running Stonehell

I've been running my Friday night Stonehell game for nearly 30 sessions now, and it's been a fun experience. It's absolutely scratched my old school dungeon exploration itch, and watching my players get familiar with the dungeon, and use that knowledge from game to game is really gratifying. Of course it hasn't all been perfect. As with any long running campaign, I haven't always brought my A game, either from illness or just not always being in the mood.

My game group has shifted, as some players who preferred the more role playing elements dropped out, and new players filled the vacant seats. It's been a great way to meet new people though! One particularly interesting aspect is the gender balance. Early on, it was predominantly a female group, with many sessions only having women playing. Currently it's a more evenly balanced group, but still tends toward female majority depending on who attends.

From a top down view, my players have explored most of 1A (Hell's Antechamber) and 1B (The Quiet Halls), and have explored good chunks of 1C (The Contested Corridors), 1D (Kobold Korners)and 2A (The Asylum) and 4B (The Living Caves East). They've also visited the Reptile House, Without Doors, Hobgoblin Redoubt, The Monster Dorm, and so very very briefly The Chamber of Many Faces.

One thing I've noticed is that while the whole dungeon is open to them, they seem to really like having a few plot hooks to bite onto. Ages and ages ago, I mentioned Malfesance Nul, the guy who talks to the dead hiding out in the Quiet Halls, and in spite of the most experienced player's objections (also the most experienced character's objections) that seems to be the quest du jour.

Seeing how the NPCs in Stonehell react to the PCs has been a blast. Since their initial encounter with the berzerkers they've been on really friendly terms. It hasn't hurt that every time the party has encountered them that they've shared their beer. On the flip side, the cowardly actions of the death priests looking for Malfesance Nul in the face of the ghoul assault means that Bob and Co. are likely in for some pain if they happen to encounter the party again.

Rocky, and his love of quartz resulted in the party stumbling on 2 of the most powerful creatures in the Dungeon, and living to tell the tale, not that the party has any idea who those people were. I'm also not sure if they've groked that Rocky doesn't always tell the truth... Even when cryptic, they seem to think he's telling the gods' honest truth.

Design wise, I still (mostly) like Stonehell's layout. Maybe it's because my players (and therefor I) have spent so much time in 1A that it's the quadrant I'm least happy with. Then again, at this point it's pretty depopulated, so they tend to just breeze through it. The Contested Corridors is pretty empty since they all but wiped out the orcs. The northern half anyway...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Chainmail Orc Druid Showoff

Last night I finished up my orc druid. He isn't great, and wouldn't win any painting awards, but he's a done to a solid tabletop standard. And since I don't actually need him for anything, I'm not going to overstress about it.

The leather started with Ebony Flesh, and was lightened with Pumpkin Orange. The hair was done with the Redstone triad, with a bit of Bleached Linen for the final highlight. The bone is mostly Dirty Bone and Bloodhowl's Heavy Sepia Wash (custom mix). The unicorn horn started with a base of Skeleton Bone, with Sparkling Snow over it. I really like the semi-metallic effect! The feathers are Twilight Purple, then highlighted with a mix of the Sparkling Snow

Now, onto March's Hangout Figure of the Month: the Goblin Shaman!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Stonehell: Bang a Gong

Session 27 was played on 2/19.

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 5 (Julia)
-Helmut, war dog
-Xerxis, Human Fighter 1 (Henchman)
-Yolanda, Human Fighter 1 (Henchman)
-2 torch bearers (Z, A.A.Ron)
-6 men at arms (O, Siri, T, U, V, W)
Karlaih, Human Thief 5 (Mollie)
Nilbog Dracon, human wizard 2 (Matt)
??? wizard 1 (Kat)
Baraball the priestess of Tarchanna 4 (NPC)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Yaqen, elf 1 (Shaun)
Leroy, human fighter 3 (Mike)
Sarin the Ugly, Human Fighter 1 (Josh)
Menchi, Cleric 1 (Laural)
Unnamed, Elf 1 (Nicole)

Departing the Korners, the party heads to visit Rocky. As they arrive, a troop of Berzerkers are shuffling out of Rocky's room. There's a moment of tension, but once they see Wilhelm, they're happy to see he's still roaming the halls. After a brief chat, they move on, and the party stops in to chat with Rocky. Unfortunately the Berzerkers used up Rocky's questions for the day.

Moving on, the party then backtracks their path into The Quiet Halls, passing by the crypts they'd emptied the previous day, through the junk room, and the desecrated temple. They check out the hallway off the pit room, skipping the secret room. Some of the other doors are crypts, but then something unexpected, a room full of robed men who don't take kindly to being barged in on! Kat puts an end to their objections with a well placed Sleep spell. The priests are all searched for treasure, tied up, and one is woken up for questioning.

Bob the Dark, priest of The Eternal Darkness that is Oblivion (The Petty God Drasheeng) is resigned to his fate, yet still pissed that the party just smashed their way into their holdout, and attacked them. Wilhelm feels slightly abashed that they didn't knock first. Bob reveals that he and his fellow Drasheengites are there to find Malfreces Nul so that they can get him to talk to one of their dead saints, the founder of their branch of the order. As Nilbog also wants to find Malfreces to complete a quest, he suggests that they team up. Wilhelm objects, but is overruled by the rest of the party. Bob is suspicious, but eventually agrees. Before heading out, the Drasheengites are untied, and they go over their respective maps of the Quiet Halls, filling in some of the sections that the party has yet to explore.

One place in particular grabs Wilhelm's attention, a great hall nearby that is noted to have a giant gong. On the way they poke into a few crypts, avoiding one full of giant rats.

The great hall is so large that the torchlight doesn't even reach halfway across... it does however light up a multitude of undead.... and a gong suspended between the pillars. Wilhelm rushes forward planning to use one of the zombies to strike the gong, but all he manages to grab is a small chunk of rotting flash. The zombie is more shocked than upset by being violently groped by a dwarf. His second attempt with a skeleton is much more successful, and the bones strike the gong with a satisfying "BONG!"

The Drasheengites and Baraball all call upon the power of their gods, and the skeletons all turn to dust while several zombies flee. A few remain, along with a couple of ghouls, but between the Wilhelm and crew, and Bob and the Drasheengites, the threat is quickly eliminated. Unfortunately, while everyone else searches the room for treasure and secret doors, Wilhelm uses a bunch of heads to bang the gong again and again and again before everyone else is yelling at him saying things like:
"It's called the Quiet Halls for a reason!"
"Why are you ringing the dinner bell?!?"
"Would you stop that?!?"

Unfortunately each bang of the gong summoned 2 ghouls that arrived moments after the 4th sounding.

The cowardly Drasheengites, after seeing 2 of their number struck down, fled. The fight was brutal! Characters were getting paralyzed left and right. Jars of flaming oil were being tossed around, and even the torch bearers had to get into the combat to save their own lives!

By the end one of the Drasheengites, Nilbog, Xerxes, U, Wilhelm, Yolanda, Eiric, and W were all paralyzed by the Ghouls claws, Baraball was badly maimed, and V, Siri, and one of the Drasheengites were killed outright.

While waiting for the paralysis to wear off, the corpses were piled together and burned. Then the survivors grabbed what they could, and headed out of the Quiet Halls and back to town.

Gains: 700gp from the crypts, handfull of ep from the Drasheengites
Kills: Whole bunch of Skeletons by Baraball, 10 Ghouls, 6 zombies
Losses: V and Siri