Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. When I was a kid it was the one time a year that you could dress up as anything you wanted. This year October has been a pretty good one. The yard came out pretty well for one thing, and everyone who came by seemed to appreciate the effort.

For whatever reason my neighborhood doesn’t really do it up for Halloween. There are only 3 houses (counting mine) that go all out, and several that put out a scarecrow or a jack-o-lantern. I had the daughter of one of the guys who also decorates thank me for not making her house the only weird one!

I also put together a fairly last minute Tim the Enchanter costume, though I’m guessing that everyone reading this knows he would be more accurately described as an Invoker!

In addition to that I also received several treats:

One of my various traditions on Halloween is to enjoy both Dracula and The War of the Worlds from Mercury Theater on the Air.

I’ve also spent time working on the bell tower. So far it’s progressing well, but there will be more on that tomorrow. Until then, have a spooky evening...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fieldstone Bell Tower - Casting

So how does this work? Put simply, you mix water and plaster until you get a fluid that is the consistency of a milkshake.

Then you pour the mix into the molds.

Wait about 5 minutes, then use a paper tower to draw off some of the pooling water. This is followed by scraping the mold. There is always some excess, and I do my best to recover as much of it as possible. Usually this means extra floor tiles.

Picture from

Then you wait some more for the brick to dry. Since I’m doing my casting at night before bed, these bricks won't be ready till the next day. However I took pictures of the previous day’s bricks.

With the plaster I’m using (Excalibur dental plaster - way stronger than plaster-of-paris) you can generally de-mold the bricks after about 30 minutes.

Once the bricks are demolded, you need them to dry completely before you use them. I’ve got a dehumidifier running in the basement, and I lay them out on newspaper, so they tend to dry quickly. A day or two in dry conditions tends to be enough.

Don't forget to vote on my Halloween poll!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fieldstone Bell Tower -The Plan! (part 2)

We now know what we need:
2" x11
1” x74
.75" x10
.5” x42
1"x.25" x52
.75"x.25" x16
.5"x.25" x22
Alcove top x8
Alcove body x24
2" Arch x2
1" Arch x12
.75" Arch x16

How do we get there? Well, these are the molds I have that have the parts I need:

In a single cast of each of these molds I can create:
2" x3
1” x12
.75" x2
.5” x5
1"x.25" x8
.75"x.25" x2
.5"x.25" x7
Alcove top x2
Alcove body x4
2" Arch x2
1" Arch x2
.75" Arch x2

By using the magic of math this means I need a total of 9 of casts to get every block I need. Some parts will obviously need far fewer. The most difficult piece is the .5” block. The next most difficult is the .75” arch and the .75"x.25" tile, each requiring 8 castings to get them all.

I can probably do 1 casting a day (more on weekends and Wednesdays), which means that casting all these bricks will take about a week. Luckily for all of us, I've already started!

I have a new poll up! What are you doing for Halloween?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fieldstone Bell Tower - The Plan! (part 1)

Hirst Arts is awesome. “How awesome is it?” you ask.


For one thing, it’s like making your own Lego bricks. Need a brick? Make a brick. Problem solved.

Of course you can just go hog wild and make lots of parts. I’ve done that too. It’s fun, actually! There is a lot of pleasure in mixing up the plaster, pouring it into the molds, and then removing a fully cast brick. Once you have a big bunch of them, you can spend (and I have) endless hours dry-stacking them, trying out different combinations without ever actually building anything. But this time...

This time we’re going with a plan, which is where I get back to Hirst Arts being awesome.

Wanna know the plan?

Here it is: The Plan

Bruce Hirst – inventor, owner, operator, and all around good guy not only has these incredibly flexible terrain-making tools and a vibrant friendly helpful community, he also has plans for various projects, including the bell tower.

Now his bell tower plan is specifically for his bell tower gothic mold, whereas I’m making a fieldstone version, but for the most part, the basic bricks remain the same.

Lets count them up, shall we?

The corners each require 13 1” blocks, and 7 .5” blocks, 8 1"x1/4", and 2 1/2"x1/4". 4 corners equals 52 1” blocks, and 28 .5” blocks, 32 1"x1/4", and 8 1/2"x1/4"

There are 4 sides to the tower as well, but only 3 of them are the same. The side with the door will be slightly different.

The 3 sides require:
2" x3
1” x5
.75" x2
.5” x4
1"x.25" x6
.75"x.25" x4
.5"x.25" x4
Alcove top x2
Alcove body x6
1" Arch x4
.75" Arch x4

The front side requires:
2" x2
1” x7
.75" x4
.5” x2
1"x.25" x2
.75"x.25" x4
.5"x.25" x2
Alcove top x2
Alcove body x6
2" Arch x2
1" Arch x0
.75" Arch x4

This equals a total of:
2" x11
1” x74
.75" x10
.5” x42
1"x.25" x52
.75"x.25" x16
.5"x.25" x22
Alcove top x8
Alcove body x24
2" Arch x2
1" Arch x12
.75" Arch x16

That's a grand total of 289 blocks!!! How am I going to get there? That will be answered in Part 2!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fieldstone Bell Tower Motivation

Before I get to planning, casting, building, and painting I want to talk about why the bell tower, as opposed to some other project. It’s not like I’m lacking in other projects! I have tons of minis, and lots of other terrain that I could work on, so why this?

Here’s the deal. I have a bunch of Hirst Art molds. I’ve build lots of ruins, little things, a couple of dungeon rooms, but never a whole project. It’s that old gamer ADD that we know so well. So I want to build something that isn’t a ruin with my bricks, and I want to finish it.

Why a bell tower? A couple of reasons:
  • The bell tower takes up a lot of vertical space, but can fit on a CD
  • It doesn’t require tons and tons of bricks
  • It is complex enough to keep me interested without being intimidating
  • Because I did it before, and messed it up! Time to do it right

I’d actually enjoy working on minis too, but to be blunt, I’m out of storage space for painted minis and I don’t have anywhere to display them. I’ve found this to be a real demotivator.

So, the bell tower it is!

Next up – The Plan!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I’m feeling fairly drained from school and other things that fall in the category of “real life.” No less enthusiastic, but a little less inspired at the moment. I feel like the worst thing I could do is to give into the ennui, throw my hands in the air and say things I don’t really mean and that I’d regret later. I also don't want to just close up shop, not even temporarily. What I’d really love to do is to go recharge via camping, but sadly that isn’t in the cards right now. Something to do with the new job, still being in school, and a lack of banked vacation time…

Anyway, after doing a big research paper for the class just ending, and another big class with a lot of writing coming up I’m considering doing something of a palette cleansing blog-wise, and step away from RPGs for a little bit. I’m thinking that it’s time to do something with all my minis and terrain again, and I’ve had that itch… especially since I haven’t touched a miniature or a piece of terrain all year. Not to build/paint anyway…

So here’s what I’m going to do. Almost 6 years ago I planned on making a Hirst Arts Bell Tower out of the fieldstone line. I started it 2 years ago and built it wrong, thinking I knew better than the directions, and gave up on the project.

Guess what?

Not mine, but along the lines of what I’m planning
Project’s Back On!

And I'll be documenting my progress here!

I can tell you're so excited.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I ain't afraid of no ghost!

You might not have know, but Ghostbusters is back in theaters this month! Seems like Thursday nights only, but still, a chance to see it on the big screen! I know where I'll be tonight!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Poll - Classic Movie Monsters

I’m rather insanely busy finishing up a big research paper for class, so in lieu of a real post here’s a new holiday themed poll.

What is your favorite classic movie monster?

  • Vampire
  • Werewolf
  • Invisible Man
  • Gill-Creature
  • Phantom
  • Mr. Hyde (Dr. Jekyll)
  • Frankenstein's Monster
  • Mummy

The good news is I’m almost done, and I’m hoping to be back up to speed by the end of the week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fey Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about fairies a lot recently. In 4e parlance I’d probably use the word Eladrin, but for the rest of you, I’m talking about the fey nobles (Titania, Oberon, etc.). While I’ve not always included the fey in my games, I find myself more and more inclined to do so.

However... I don’t want my fairies to look like this:

or this:

They aren’t little humans with shiny wings. They aren’t TinkerbellI or Oona. They are strange, alien creatures

Not this sort of alien!

I want them to be distinctly Other. Something that’s just kind of creepy, yet beautiful and potentially terrible at the same time! I’m not sure where the idea first came to me, but it was probably looking at the various masks that are in my house, and the pictures of the masked characters of Venice. It got me to thinking about the scene in Labyrinth where Jareth sweeps Sarah into the masquerade ball.

What if fairy nobles appeared in full masquerade garb? Fully covered, head to toe, hats, gloves, and garb all highly elaborate. Full face masks, with only their eyes appearing. No skin showing at all!

I would rule the mask only removable by killing the fey noble, and underneath would be nothing! Like when Old Ben Kenobi is killed by Vader and the robes fall to the ground.

As you can see, I'm not dead, it's just been a busy week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another one bites the dust...

Once again another blogger is shutting up shop: Austrodavicus, aka Dave (good name) of There's Dungeons Down Under. And because I hate to see things disappear from the blogoverse, here is his post on random books.

Good luck Dave!

A Random Table and an Update
Part 4 is taking longer to write than I expected (who would've thought there'd be so much criticism of the OSR). It looks like it may even have to be in two parts. So in the meantime, here's a random table I whipped up as a filler:

Quick and Dirty Random Book Finder

Roll one of each dice type and read the results in the order below.

Item found (1d4)

1. Tome
2. Scroll
3. Sheaf of parchments
4. 1d4+1 volumes

The writing is (1d6)

1. None, blank pages (either invisible ink or ignore all other dice)
2. The finder’s native language
3. A known language
4. An unknown language
5. Some sort of code
6. Undecipherable Writing

The item is (1d8)

1. Of no value or interest whatsoever
2. A good read, but of no value
3. Interesting and helpful, but of no monetary value
4. Worth a small amount to a collector
5. Will fetch a decent price
6. Worth lots, easy to sell
7. Rare and incredibly valuable
8. Dangerous to possess

Other features (1d10)

1. Nothing outstanding
2. Illustrated
3. Decorative borders
4. Tooled-leather cover/case
5. Creepy-looking handwriting
6. Illuminated calligraphy
7. Includes what appears to be a treasure map
8. Dried, pressed flowers
9. Appears to be written in blood
10. Written in gold ink and encrusted with tiny precious stones

Subject matter is (1d12)

1. Fictional
2. Historical
3. Myths and Legends
4. Theological
5. Cultural
6. Metaphysical
7. Scientific
8. Geographical
9. Astronomical
10. A bestiary
11. Artistic
12. Magical, add 10 to the d20 roll

Effects of reading the item (1d20)

1 – 10. Nothing unusual
11. Reader is confused by what has been read
12. Reader absolutely refuses to give up the book
13. Reader develops an obsession with the subject, becomes a collector
14. Reader has an overwhelming urge to destroy the book
15. Reader hears a strange unearthly music
16. Reader goes into a trance for 6 turns, awakes with no memory of what happened
17. Reader has a prophetic dream next time they sleep
18. Reader receives a mild curse or affliction
19. Reader receives the effects of a Bless spell for 6 turns, one time only
20. Contains 1d6 spells

Optional: Author (1d30 – roll 1d4 times and arrange to taste)

1. Var
2. Ing
3. Gav
4. Char
5. Pyp
6. Zis
7. Ux
8. Ney
9. Gon
10. Loy
11. Haar
12. Bog
13. Tain
14. Ket
15. Arv
16. Xan
17. Dreb
18. Jyr
19. Een
20. Wos
21. Ika
22. Foag
23. Wan
24. Liat
25. Qaa
26. Meg
27. Yiss
28. Naaba
29. Ros
30. Oss

Monday, October 10, 2011

Short Adventures PDF

I've collected the 25 short adventures into a 16 page PDF.

Click on the mustached dragon to download, or visit the downloads page.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Reviews: Samore’s Daughter, North Battlement Sector, The Disappearance of Harold the Hedge Mage, The Warlock’s Digest of Dungeon Dwelling Denizens

Zac pointed out that there are a lot of free adventures out there, but very few reviews of them. He asked us all to help address that by giving a short review of one of the many free adventures available. As I am a firm believer in helping out, here are 4 reviews.

Samore’s Daughter
by N. M. Wright of Lawful Indifferent

Samore’s Daughter is a classic DnD location based adventure that takes place in a generic fantasy setting. The basic premise is that a Baron/Duke’s trusted adviser's illegitimate daughter has been kidnapped and he hires the adventurers to get her back. There is a city mentioned, a village given a brief sketch, and a cave in the woods. There is also a little local unrest due to a few poor harvests.

The adventure clocks in at 4 pages, including the cover. It fits easily on a single sheet of paper if printed in booklet format. There is no artwork, and the 2 column formatting is easy to read. The layout is such that it could probably be reduced to 2 pages without much difficulty.

The political/economic background, though sparse, hints at a rich possibilities. If you enjoy intrigue in your roleplaying games Samore’s Daughter does offer a lot of room to further develop in that direction.

Overall this adventure doesn’t really offer anything new. On the other hand it is just the sort of back pocket idea that a DM can use for a pickup game if caught completely unprepared. I do think that it should either be tightened up a little bit, or expanded so that it fills 3 pages. Also, is the guy a baron or a duke?

North Battlement Sector (for Terminal Space)
by Chris Robert

North Battlement Sector is more of a mini campaign setting with numerous plot hooks than a proper adventure. Of the 100 hexes in the sector only 6 contain planetary systems, while 20+ are covered by a massive dust cloud. One of the systems is unreachable due to a local phenomena that prevents FTL travel, while another is an imperial garden world that really doesn’t welcome visitors, and another is a demon infested treasure trove, further limiting the number of places actually available for adventure.

The setting clocks in at 6 pages, plus a paragraph pushing it to 7 pages, plus a map. There is no artwork (except for the map on the last page), and the 2 column formatting is workable and easy to read.

The overall vibe of the setting is a fairly desolate and lawless. Of the 6 systems, only 3 are really usable, and the dust cloud only offers a 5% chance of an interesting encounter every day. The interesting things that are going on in the sector are definitely worth plundering, but I wouldn’t use this sector without fleshing it out considerably more.

The Disappearance of Harold the Hedge Mage
by Todd Hughes

This is a low level location based adventure for ADnD set in a rural village, the nearby forest, and an abandoned mine. The adventure is 17 pages long, including the cover and 4 pages of maps. Two of the maps detail the mine, while the other two are the local area around the village, and a cottage floorplan. None of the maps have a scale or key, and the dungeon maps have a significant excess of black, which makes me cringe at the printing this out full sized. I added a blank page after the cover to facilitate booklet printing. The cover has the modules only piece of artwork, a passably done scene from the dungeon.

The adventure itself involves the investigation of the disappearance of the local hedge mage, first by getting clues around the village, then moving on to the mages cottage, and then to the mines. The vibe is typical fantasy, with nothing in particular to distinguish it, or help it stand out. The twist at the end was unexpected, but if I was a player, I’d hate it.

I had real issues with the way the adventure is written. It’s very linear, and the spots that seem like they might give you a chance to make a significant choice all bring you to exactly the same spot. I also disliked that the description of each location is written like boxed text.

The Warlock’s Digest of Dungeon Dwelling Denizens
by bliss_infinte of The Warlocks Home Brew

As described in his blog post this is “a no frills old school monster statistical reference in digest format. It lists the stats only for all the monsters published in the Swords & Wizardry Core rules with a couple others monsters that I've used in my campaign thrown in. It sports ascending and descending armor class so it should be helpful in most old school style games.”

That description sums it up pretty well. In going through it the only thing I noticed was that some of the headings seemed unnecessary. For instance, under F there are only giant frogs. There are 4 different giant frogs, and giving it a specific heading seems redundant.

Also the Ballroch Demon is repeated.

Aside from that, it’s a really nice quick reference. I especially appreciate that it is formatted specifically to be digest sized.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Star Frigate 'Tower of the Archmage'

I can't even come close to justifying $30 for a miniature of this, but it's still cool.

You can make your own design by clicking on this link: and entering whatever name you want!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Skeletal Sisters

The nights had grown long, and the wind cold when Rathgar and Feris entered the walled town. With sword and wand at the ready they passed through the open and unguarded gates, and down the stone road toward the main square. Houses were dark, and shuttered tight. No smoke spiraled up from the chimneys, and the only sound was the dry leaves fallen from the trees rustling in the gutters.

“Where is everyone?” Rathgar asked. “They were all here yesterday, and tonight...”

“Let’s just find Allianora and Nimble. Come on, the inn’s just up ah-” Feris froze. “Do you hear that?”

A soft shuffling sound was coming from up ahead, and the soft glow of candle light began to brighten an alley.

Rathgar looked around. The large stone buildings loomed on either side of the street, their ornate facades offering deep nooks and deeper shadows.“Hide!” Rathgar hissed, pushing Feris toward the side of one of the ornate staircases.

Crouching down, they peaked over the railing and saw a troop of candle holding robed priestesses making their way around the corner. It took a moment before Rathgar and Feris realized that they were all skeletons dressed in the robes of the sisters.

The skeletons’ slipper clad feet gently shuffled past. Feris and Rathgar waited for the candle light to fade before they crept out of their hiding place. Looking down the road in the direction the Skeletal Sisters they saw the candle light disappearing around a corner. With a deep sigh of relief the pair turned to continue toward the inn.

A single Skeletal Sister stood in the road, the candle light from its slim taper flickered across the smooth surface of her skull.

“Gods!” Feris gasped.

The hollow sockets of her eyes stared at them, and a cold chill seemed to grab their spines before the blackness of her eyes swallowed them.

Rathgar opened his eyes, feeling stiff and cold. The noonday sun filled the room with warming light, but he still shivered. Allianora leaned over him. “Don’t try to move. It’s going to be a bit before we can make you better.”

Skeletal Sisters
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 7*
Move: 120’ (40’)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
No. Appearing: 3d12 (3d6)
Save As: C8
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 850

Skeletal Priestesses are a special type of undead that haunt locations that are for whatever reason chosen of one of the various moon goddesses. These are always urban locations, and on the night of the first new moon of the autumnal season the sisters walk the streets. Anyone encountering the sisters must make a saving throw vs paralysis at a -4 or fall unconscious until the sun reaches its zenith. In addition the character will suffer a -2 penalty to all rolls until the moon is full. If female characters fail their first save, they must also make a saving throw vs Death Ray or become a Skeletal Sister.

Skeletal Sisters are turned as Phantoms.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Short Adventure Wrap Up

When I first read about /Matt’s OSR Challenge - A September of Short Adventures back in July, I thought it was a neat idea, and I’m pretty sure I marked it to think about and come back to.  I think that had /Matt not continued to post, remind, poke, bother, and generally cut through the noise and clutter of my blog roll, I would have missed it. As it was, through most of August my thoughts were not on the challenge, and I hadn’t signed up. In fact, I think I only signed up a couple of days before the challenge began, and the reason is that I had an idea. For some reason I was thinking about Lassie, and how Timmy always ended up in precarious situations, and then I thought of an adventure title: All’s well that ends well. Of course I had this idea while getting ready for bed. Ignoring that, I grabbed my notebook, and flipped to a blank page.

I started writing down titles and ideas. Short ones, only a line or so each, flowing from a village to a town to a city, then on to the wilderness, and then to the realms of the immortals. Threads, in the form of the Dawnstone and Twilight Stone wove through the adventures.

Original Notes Page 1

I was purposely pushing myself with the adventures after the first dozen or so to tackle high level play. It’s never been my strong suit, and I wanted to see how I could handle it in this format. As you can see, the end result didn’t turn out exactly as planned, though I did manage to keep the basic ideas of most of the adventures.

The first adventures were written very quickly, and it gave me a bit of a buffer at the start, but after the first dozen things started getting a little more complex and I had to work harder at it. Many of the later adventures were written the night before they went live, and even still I wasn’t able to get adventure 25 posted before the official end of the challenge.

Original Notes Page 2

Actually, that isn’t true. Technically I could have posted it on the night of 9/30, but I really do try to keep to one post a day that goes live around 6am. I find that it’s good to have a schedule, and to try to keep to it.

All in all I have to say that like the Sample Dungeon project, the A to Z Challenge, and the various RPG Blog Carnivals that I’ve involved myself in, the September of Short Adventures has been an interesting exercise and I’m glad I participated. Like those previous projects there is a strong temptation to go back and tweak it based not only on what I wrote later in the challenge (I’d have made both the Dawnstone and Twilight Stone threads stronger) but also a bit on what others in the challenge did.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Beginning's End

This is the final adventure of 25 that is roughly designed to take characters from level 1 to 25 that I have shared over the month of September. These posts have been a part of Asshat Paladin's OSR Short Adventure Challenge, and utilize his Get Ready, Get Set, Go! format.

I hope you've enjoyed the series, and have checked out the other blogs participating in the challenge. There's a lot of really inventive, innovative, and imaginative stuff that's come out of this challenge, and it's worth your time to read through it.

I'll be publishing a PDF of my posts, cleaned up and tweaked shortly. I will also be sharing my original notes, and comparing them to the finished product. It's interesting (to me at least) how things developed from those first 2 pages. And I'm going to do a review of all the participants sometime this month.

Finally, a big Thank You to the /Matt, the Asshat Paladin himself for organizing the challenge. It's been a lot of fun!

The Beginning's End

A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Classic D+D adventure set in The Big Generic City

Get Ready:
With magic restored one of the New Lords of Hell, an Unseelie Fairy Lord decides to take advantage of the chaos in the mortal realm. With the Immortals still missing, who will stop him?

Get Set:
The barriers between the worlds are back to normal, and magic is flowing back into the mortal realm. However with the renewed magics come renewed threats. Shortly after returning to The City a Gate opens in the Main Square, and out steps Madoc Morfryn, King of the Unseelie Court, Lord of Hell, wearing red gothic plate armor with a black bat winged cloak, and bearing a thin long sword. Madoc promptly claims The City as part of his expanding empire, and the current seat of the Wild Hunt.

Various creatures, including a green dragon will come to the city to serve, and the city will be slowly transformed by the fay and demons of the Wild Hunt into a twisted version of the Fay realm.

Madoc is not concerned about open conflict, as his Wild Hunt is vast and powerful. He isn’t interested in destroying The City or its inhabitants either. He will treat the PCs as worthy nobles, and invite them to his court.

While the demons don’t really care about working with the fay, the fay hate working with the demons, and only do so at Madoc’s bidding. Specifically the Wild Huntsman is barely kept in check about the situation, and if given the opportunity will lead the Wild Hunt against the demons.

The Seelie Court dislikes the situation as well, but due to Madoc’s demons they’re unwilling to get involved. The Caretaker currently has his hands full with demons.

Defeating Madoc will cause the Twilight Stone to glow brighter and brighter. The Caretaker will appear to welcome the PCs back into the Heavens as the first of the New Immortals!

Important NPCs:
Madoc Morfryn, King of the Unseelie Court, Lord of Hell (AC -5, HD 20, HP 160, Attacks: 2 Sword (2d8+8) or Wizard Spell (5, 5, 4, 3, 1) or Force Blast (2d6+6+push+trip), Morale 12, Causes Fear/Awe, Immune to +2 weapons (except cold iron)
Wild Huntsman (AC -2, HD 17, Attacks: 1 Spear (2d4+9+stun) or Bow (4d4+5) or Druid Spells (4, 3, 3, 2, 1), Morale 12, Causes Fear, Immune to +1 weapons (except cold iron)
Green Dragon, Huge
Fay of the Wild Hunt (varies)
Demons (varies)
Citizens of The City (mostly normal humans)