Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bits and Bobs XXIV

Zak S is a well known figure in the OSR, and one I enjoy reading most of the time. I don’t usually bother including his posts here, but he’s gone above and beyond with a 10 part art history overview that’s probably 10 times better than anything you’d get in school, if only because he ties it in with D&D, and also doesn't spend any time worrying about the minutia that no one reading his posts cares about. This post is the overview of the course. I'm linking to it here for myself as much as for you.

Eric over at the Dragon’s Flagon takes a look at hit point modifiers for old school monsters. You know, those random +1 or +3 hp that monsters got for no really good reason. Well, Eric figured out a really good reason for them!  Seriously, if you're playing an old school game, you need to read this post.

Tieflings are an interesting race. Demon-touched humans… Like many, I’m not a big fan of their appearance in 4e and 5e. I like that they’re included in the game, I just don’t like the art direction.
If you want to randomly roll some demonic features, check out this random chart.
If you're looking for more visual inspiration, this is a nice collection of images from Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque that better suites my mental image of what they should look like.
For me though, this will always be my iconic image of tieflings.

Gus over at Dungeon of Signs takes a look at OD&D’s orcs, and comes to the conclusion that orcs are actually the result of some sort of disease! It’s an amazingly flavorful take on an old standard, and one I'm stealing for my table!

Did you know 5e works with the ACK economy rules? Paul at Blog of Holding did, and now you do too!

So the party found a secret door, and you don’t know what’s in the room beyond? Elfmaids and Octopi has you covered.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making 5e weird...

One of the things I wanted to get away from with my Friday night game was the use of some of the more standard tropes of D&D. I've been reading a lot of DCC adventures, and listening to the Iron Tavern actual play podcast, and running a bit of DCC on the side… and I just want things to be a little more weird.

Last Tuesday Dyvers wrote about breaking away from the psudo-european setting, and that’s exactly what I’m doing (or at least trying) with my Weird New World. The basic overview I gave my players was the following:

About a century ago the New World appeared in what had been an empty stretch of ocean, and exploration and settlement began almost immediately. Strange ruins of cities designed for creatures larger than men have been found containing strange treasures and even stranger magics. Few settlements exist far beyond the coasts, and the interior largely remains a mystery. Creatures unlike those found in the Old World mix with the familiar, and even those things that seem familiar often have shocking differences…

Much of what I've thrown at them has been the familiar, at least from my side of the screen. The fishmen that attacked the ship were just kobolds, and the parasite-zombies were cultists, and the witch was a dark acolyte.

The party hasn’t found any magic yet, or even any treasure, so they have yet to really experience the oddness that this setting is going to provide. Right now the predominant inspiration for the mood is definitely New Orleans Gothic, but I’m going to draw in a more mesoamerican feel mixed with Barsoom/Purple Planet weirdness once they get off the coast.

One thing I’m going to focus on is the size difference of the ruins/dungeons. It’s going to be big enough to be an annoyance and just alien enough that I hope it throws them off a bit. I haven’t decided if they’ll ever encounter the Builders or not. I suppose it depends on how the game goes…

Speaking of Purple Planet weirdness, I got the first shipment from the kickstarter in the form of a poster!

It looks like this, but without the DCC trade dress over the moons. Gonna have to get a frame for it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

#6MMRPC - Week 4

Before I get to the progress I made this week, I want to take a moment to actually assess what this mountain of miniatures I’m chipping away at actually includes. There are 2 main reasons I wanted to take the time to make the assessment.

First I wanted to get a more concrete understanding of what the mountain is made of. I know I have a LOT of unpainted minis… but really, how many? And for what different games? Yes, it’s entirely possible to chip away at a mountain without knowing how big it is or what sort of rocks it’s made of, but I wanted to be able to quantify that. Putting numbers to the mountain makes it real, and in some ways less intimidating.

Second, I want a plan, and it’s easier to make a plan if you know what you’re dealing with. For example in October I’m going to work on Undead. December will be Elves. Knowing what undead and elves I actually have makes planning that out easier.

I have only completed an initial survey of my minis at this point, as a lot of the time I spent organizing rather than cataloging the various lose minis I had stashed in various cases. One thing I did note is that I have a number of minis that I’d consider about 75% done. A wash and some detail work would wrap them right up. Also, I have a lot of minis that need to be based in some way, shape, or form!

Let’s get down to brass tacks and look at some real numbers.

From the Bones Kickstarter, which came with 259 minis, I have painted a total of 88 or about 38%, leaving me with 171 unpainted minis. This unpainted pile includes minis as small as the familiars, and as large as Kaladrax.

If you’re interested, I've linked the spreadsheet here, which I will continue to update.

The next set of minis I looked at was my extensive Lord of the Rings collection. After my 40K berzerker army, this is my most painted set of minis, but even then I still have a lot left to paint. I don’t have a total number of minis both painted and not yet, but I have counted and have 146 left to paint that are assembled and primed and have a spot in one of my LotR themed mini cases. This doesn't include any of the minis that are in the storage cabinet…

If you’re interested in the breakdown, it’s the 3rd tab on the spreadsheet linked above.

And that’s as far as I've gotten quantifying my minis. There’s still a lot more to go, but that can wait for next week! Onto this week’s progress!

I spent most of this week’s hobby time working on Halbarand the Cleric. I’m pretty pleased with the way he’s come out. Getting blind hair to look right isn't easy… You’ll notice he’s painted up in Halloween colors, as he’s going to the be my Halloween Knight that will defend us all from the horde of undead that will crawl from their graves starting next week…

I also assembled and damaged a resin ship that I picked up ages ago to serve as a hulk marker for Battlefleet Gothic. Jake Ryan the Hero Explorer spent a little time under the file getting some nasty mold lines on his arms taken care of, and then both got primed. I was hoping to be a little further along with Jake to help out against the undead, but I went to a microbrew festival this weekend instead.

Next week the dead walk.... Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls, a Mummy and something to lead them all! Ghost King? Skeletal Champion? Mummy Lord? We’ll see…

Friday, September 26, 2014

Whispers from the Well 9/21

Your weekly update of the goings on in Stonehell
As reported by the tavernkeepers of the Ogre Face  Inn

1sp/Issue, subscriptions available at a discounted rate

Rescue attempt unsuccessful!

3 brave adventurers headed down the well in search of a fellow temple-goer who failed to return from an expedition into Stonehell. Able, the human warrior was specifically looking for Cain the paladin and his companions Reda the pointy eared half breed sorceress, Oden the pointy eared sneak, and Arroo the demonspawn barbarian. Scarn, a pointy eared half breed sorcerer came to the tavern with Cain, and they hooked up with the gnome Zook who’s been hanging out in the taproom just waiting for a group to hook up with.

When they didn’t return after several hours, the betting odds got pretty steep that this novice group wouldn’t return! Thankfully, per bar rules, no bets are paid out on parties until they’ve been missing for a week, or conclusive evidence is brought back to the surface.

Sadly, when they did return to the well, they hadn’t found any evidence of Cain or the other’s he’d gone down with. After a few mugs of ale tales of rats and orcs were told aplenty! And it seems the expedition wasn’t a complete loss, as they did return with a variety of alchemical equipment, a beetle’s fire gland, and something that might be of interest to Sezrekan the wizard!

If anyone has any knowledge of the whereabouts of Cain, Reda, Oden, or Arroo, please be sure to stop by and tell Able. He might even part with coin for the information!

Whispers from the Well

The Market is said to be open again, for those who truck with kobolds… As before, it’s neutral territory, so don’t go looking for a fight!

The Howling Wolf tribe is at war with the Open Sore tribe again. Talking heads put the odds 2:1 in against the Howling Wolf goblins this time, due to a whispered alliance with a mysterious hooded figure seen conversing with some of the Open Sore Orcs.

The Checkered Bandits have been seen in the halls below the tavern. Best keep an eye out… their lair may connect to Stonehell, or it might even be in it!

Dead ends with scorched walls aren’t places you want to get caught in. Just saying.

Bree-Yark is the password that opens a series of secret chambers inhabited by the dead.


Laurina is looking for an amulet believed to be interred with her great great grandmother.

Willifred is willing to pay top coin for giant rat tails and hides. 5cp/tail & 5sp/hide. hides must be (mostly) intact.

Drake Stonehand is looking for his cousin Snori. A reward of 200gp is offered for his safe return.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ancient Sagas of Everlance: Rats and Mud

This update covers sessions played on 8/17, 8/24, 9/7. Since I’m so far behind, I’m going to wrap multiple weeks together. It helps that for much of the time (the better part of these 3 sessions) we spent exploring some muddy tunnels.

The cast of characters are:

Kelmar - ½ Elf Ranger
Beska - Human Mage
Myshkin - Human Paladin
Gifilte - Human Monk of Love
Arkane - Human Paladin (starting 8/24 or 9/7)

Arriving in Fairweather Commune, now emptied of communists, and mostly destroyed by raiders, the companions did a quick check of the still smoldering ruins. The only item of note was a giant hole in the back of the mostly intact barn, leading down into darkness. A quick exploration found the tunnel opened into a largish chamber full of giant and dire rats. While the pests were put down, the damage inflicted was severe, and the party retreated back to the surface to rest and heal.

Unfortunately in the middle of the night a swarm of the giant pests boiled up from the hole, interrupting the adventurers’ sleep. A running battle down the length of the barn was only successful when the barn was set on fire, scattering the rodents.

The next morning a wandering paladin named Arkane arrived at the commune, and seeing the destruction, offered to assist. Together everyone returned to the tunnels. Wandering around in the dark, tight, muddy confines the party faced more rats, discovered a badly wounded badger surrounded by dead rats, and an alternate exit to the tunnels. Kelmar soothed the beast, which allowed Gifilte to bestow some healing on it.

Deeper into the muddy tunnels the party encounters a watery pit. Creeping along the edge, even going slowly, the armored warriors slide down, and discover the water includes a nasty slime. It was killed without too much issue, but getting everyone around/out of the pit was still a task.

Continuing in the tunnels the party makes it’s way to a chamber from which a seemingly unending supply of normal rats is flowing. In addition to the normal rats there are several crates, a bunch of giant and dire rats, and a ratman. The fight is brutal, but the party finally seems to have developed some strategy beyond charging into the middle of the room. The rats are whittled down one by one, until finally the ratman charges in. I’m happy to say that Kelmar critted that ratman’s skull, and ended the fight.

Within the hole from which the tide of rats flowed was a magic bag of never ending rats, a magic staff, and a treeman alive, but smothered by the rats. Closing the bag, we pulled him out. He introduced himself as Groot Thistle, said the ratman and the raiders (two different groups) were looking for the Infinity Stone Eye of Night. Since he could no longer be sure of protecting it, could we take it to Nova Prime someone who can?

We’ve got 2 paladins and a cleric, of course we can!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Behind the screen for Hoard of the Dragon Queen... again

My Wednesday night Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure league game has been going along pretty well. Like I mentioned last time, we’re ahead of where we’re supposed to be. We just wrapped up episode 2, and will be starting episode 3 this week. And like last time I wrote about it, I’ll be stepping behind the DM’s screen again. Our DM (Adam) is running a number of other games, and I guess Wednesday night is just one night too many.

I knew getting behind the screen last time was a mistake. Once they know you can DM…

All is not lost for my dwarven illusionist though… Adam has agreed to swap DMing duty every other episode. We’ll see how that pans out.. but, as ever, I remain hopeful.

But I’m also going to take full advantage of the fact that some of the best minds of the OSR have taken Hoard of the Dragon Queen and not only analysed it’s faults, but remixed it to address those faults!

Bryce Lynch at Ten Foot Pole does a fantastic job laying out all the faults of the adventure, episode by episode.

Courtney Campbell over at Hack & Slash is working on his remix. If I'm lucky he'll get to episode 3 before this goes live... (writing on Saturday)

Daniel Davis over at Detect Magic has been working on his remix, complete with a nifty little logo.

I’m also going to do my best to weird things up a bit. Now, since this is an official event, there’s only so much I can actually do, but even with that stricture I can make it more interesting and fun for the players (I hope).

On a side note, I do prefer the feel of the paper in Hoard of the Dragon Queen over the paper used in the PHB and MM. Anyone else with me on that?