Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fieldstone Bell Tower Ruins

As I mentioned before, the bell tower I'm building is actually the 2nd I've attempted. The first one I didn't follow the directions, and screwed it up, then when trying to fix it, I broke it. I kept the pieces, most of them anyway, with the thought of turning it into a ruined bell tower.

I finally did it.

Not only is it assembled, but I also have it primed! A dark brown base coat comes next.

These pictures don't show the floors I added made out of wooden coffee stirrers, but it's there, and it's enough to stand some figures on.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A place of evil...

I'm actually well into painting the bell tower, but well behind in posting about it.

However, before we get to that I embarked on yet another side project - an evil shrine! It's built from the remains of the original bell tower's upper section, with some repairs and adjustments.

Simple, small, but effective I think.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Garden Castles

Harry Barber's Miniature Castles (1920s-66)

Harry Barber's Miniature Castles (1920s-66)

Harry Barber's Miniature Castles (1920s-66)

All from Harry's Miniature Castles (1920s - 1966)

Throughout South Hero, Vermont USA • For over thirty years, gardener Harry Barber found a unique way to blend his native country of Switzerland with his new home in Vermont. He created miniature buildings from local Vermont field stone. Five castles, three houses, and several garden structures remain in the Islands. They vary in complexity. Some castles feature glazed windows, interior fireplaces, or dungeons. Others are wired for electricity and have the capability of running water in the moat. … All his creations are privately owned, and public access is not permitted; however four out of the five castles can be seen from the road. – From a brochure issued by the Lake Champlain Bikeways.

Don't forget to enter my Terrainsgiving Contest!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Terrainsgiving Contest

I have quite a number of CD based ruins, and I'm looking to clear a little space on my shelves. This is good news for you, because I'm going to give one of them away!

This could be yours!

What do you need to do to win this fabulous piece of terrain? There are 3 simple steps:

1. Follow my blog. If you're one of the 134 people that already does so, you're ahead of the game!
2. Write up an encounter that would take place around the ruin.
3. Post the encounter to your blog (if you have one) with a link to your post as a comment here, or (if you don't have a blog) just post it as a comment!

All entries must be received by 11:59 PM Eastern on Saturday 12/10. A discriminating panel of judges will pick the winner on Sunday.

discriminating panel of judges is waiting to be impressed

US entries only, unless you're willing to pay shipping.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Some assembly required

The walls are done, the corners are done, and now it’s time to bring it all together. As per the instructions, this is only a partial assembly. In order to fully paint it, I’ll be assembling the tower into 2 halves. The first half is easier, as it’s the half that will be attached to the base and ceiling. Attaching it to the base was easy. Attaching the ceiling took some ingenuity. I eventually built a lego tower to help support it while the glue dried.

The other half is freestanding. I used my lego corner to provide the 90 degree angle, and a box of tissues to keep it upright.

While that was drying I built an additional floor section. I just can’t seem to leave things alone... This section was for under where the bell would be. I don’t actually have a bell to install, nor am I putting any minis in the tower, but if I was, they would have somewhere to stand! Here you can see the now slightly shorter lego support structure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thunderspire Session 4 Part 1

This session was played on 11/12.

Cory ran:
Dietrich the Human Knight (formerly the Dragonborn Paladin)
Ander the Halfling Rogue

Alex ran:
Barakas the Tiefling Warlord
Chan Lee the Human Monk

"I know where the gnolls are!" Rendil Halfmoon cried out, “come on!”

The adventurers battered and bruised opted to rest first. Rendil seemed upset about this, but agreed to take them to the gnoll’s lair in the morning.

Following the little exuberant halfling the party descended deep into the labyrinth. Reaching a great chasm spanned by another fortress with it’s drawbridges down. The area leading upto the drawbridge was littered with siege equipment, and the fortress seemed to be in a partly ruined state. Who was the winner was anyone's guess. “We have to cross that to get to the Well of Demons. The keep’s pretty busted up, but the bridges seemed pretty stable.” Rendil said as he started across.

As the party neared the keep’s gate on the far side of the drawbridge a rumbling noise caught their attention. Turning around they saw a large force of gnolls emerging from a side passage, with some running hyena’s leading the army. This was followed almost immediately by a roar from the chasm below. At the same moment Rendil’s face began to melt and his body began to stretch. In Rendil’s place stood a lanky greyskinned creature that smiled evilly before dashing toward the onrushing hyenas and gnolls.

The adventurers rushed into the keep’s courtyard and began to draw up the bridge using the winch just inside the gate. A mere breath after getting the bridge raised, something slammed into it - Hard! A great black claw squeezed between the bridge and the gate, and started pulling. The adventurers struggled but the bridge inexorably began to drop. Facing a losing battle the adventurers looked around. A large and stout keep door blocked the way out of the court yard, but a bell tower, next to the keep, offered a way out of the courtyard at least. A couple of hyenas made the leap when the bridge was low enough, forcing the adventurers to release the winch and make a run for the nearby bell tower.

Rushing up the stairs, the adventurers reached the top just ahead of the hyenas. As the rest of the party leapt from the tower to the keep’s roof, the tower rumbled, and stones pressed inward as whatever had opened the gate had started to climb the tower. Dietrich cut the rope that suspended the large iron bell, causing it to crash down not only onto the stairs, but also onto the hyenas and gnolls that were following them.

Leaping onto the roof of the keep the adventures viewed the creature that had forced open the drawbridge and swayed the tower - the shadow dragon. It took not even a round for the entire party to jump down through hole in the roof. From the sound if it, the dragon was right behind them! Rushing down the stairs, and onto the main level of the keep the adventurers tossed everything they could between them and their pursuers, even going so far as to set a fire in the store room. The gnolls were smashing through the main doors, while the dragon was coming through the ceiling. Running through the keep the adventurers stumbled on the keeps kitchen, and noticed the cook book on the floor under the large oven. Dietrich grabbed it, just as the dragon started reaching from the great hall into the kitchen. Luckily, he couldn’t fit through the door! Back tracking, the adventurers arrived at the rear courtyard, and sprinted across the drawbridge.

From the far end of the chasm the adventurers could see a fire burning within the keep, and some gnolls in the courtyard organizing themselves (or at least making sure that there were enough of them to take the adventurers). The sound of the dragon smashing through stonework to escape the confines of the castle were also clearly audible from the distant ledge. Dietrich, in a moment of desperation flipped open the cookbook, and found a note about the explosives stashed by the cook around the keep. Conveniently the trigger was hidden just under the drawbridge on the adventurers side of the chasm. In a mad dash all 4 began searching for the trigger. Ander found it, and without a thought set it off.

The explosion was intense, knocking the adventurers back and the keep down into the chasm - gnolls and all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Dragons

The game is called Dungeons and Dragons, right?

The reality is that I’ve run lots of dungeons, and I include very few dragons...

Maybe it’s because I refuse to run dragons as anything but intelligent beings of immense power. Sure, there are rules for little dragons, and on a rare occasion I’ll toss one towards my players, but for the most part, a dragon in my games tends to be a force of nature, not a combat encounter. As such, I tend to hold them back.

I’m thinking that’s a mistake.

In reading other DM’s play reports where the players regularly encounter dragons out in the wilderness (often just a flyby, rather than a combat encounter) it seems that the players don’t just come to think of them as big goblins - aka bags of XP. They still inspire awe and worry, tinged by greed.

In my 4e game, my players have finally encountered a dragon, and they kicked it’s ass! They were psyched! Had it not been a part of the adventure, if I had written the adventure they’re running through, there wouldn’t have been that encounter.

In the back of the 4e DMG there is a kobold lair adventure that wraps up with a white dragon - an adventure for 1st level characters! It’s an adventure that gives exactly what the game says it gives - Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe that’s the right approach?

Now, I don’t want to go crazy and have dragons every other encounter. I still want them rare enough that players don’t just charge right in every time. I want them to pause before even thinking about picking up their dice. However... I think I do want to see more dragons in my game. And more importantly, I think my players want to see more dragons in the game.

How this will work in the megadungeon, I have no idea, and it’s something I need to think about, but the giant chasm certainly allows for at least one dragon, maybe more...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thunderspire Session 3 - Players Thoughts

From Alex:

The monk beat up and sealed a dragon with his bare fists in two minutes pretty much by himself (the rogue's daggers didn't exactly sway the tide of battle with the dragon). That was very cool. I also like his new ki focus, since that +2 bonus makes a surprisingly big difference over his +1 focus. The tradeoff right now, of course, is that he can't shift quite as much with the +2 ki focus, but his next feat will allow him to wield multiple ki focuses. I was surprised the knight died. Killing Brugg was fun, I had been waiting for that. We clearly had to pull out all the stops to take him down, and he still caused us a lot of pain. I usually go home wondering how in the heck our characters are still alive. It seems to me that statistically we should be dead, but somehow we survive. Maybe that's the warlord's fault.

From Cory:

Anyhow, on the new quests: they were like 'oooohh' and then "AAAAAAAHHHHHHH" and they pretty much stayed that way. So I'd say that's a good sign. Can't be boring if you're crazy scared that the characters are all going to fall into a vortex of doom and die while being eaten by a dragon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Shadow Dragon

Because it's playing such a big role, here's a shadow dragon

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What class are you?

I Am A: Lawful Good Human Ranger/Wizard (2nd/2nd Level)

this is actually a pic of Aragorn, but it fits I think

Ability Scores:

Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Detailed Results:

True Neutral ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Chaotic Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXXX (9)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXX (5)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXX (5)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXXXX (9)
Neutral - XXXXX (5)
Chaos --- XXXXX (5)

Good & Evil:
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Evil ---- (0)

Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Dwarf ---- XXXX (4)
Elf ------ XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Gnome ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Halfling - XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Half-Orc - (0)

Barbarian - (-27)
Bard ------ (-21)
Cleric ---- (-4)
Druid ----- (-17)
Fighter --- (-4)
Monk ------ XX (2)
Paladin --- (0)
Ranger ---- XXXXXX (6)
Rogue ----- (-6)
Sorcerer -- XX (2)
Wizard ---- XXXXXX (6)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thunderspire Session 3 Part 2

This session was played on 8/14.

Cory ran:
Dietrich the Human Knight (formerly the Dragonborn Paladin)
Ander the Halfling Rogue

Alex ran:
Barakas the Tiefling Warlord
Chan Lee the Human Monk

Following the Witch’s directions, the party first observed a Brass Minotaur statue, like the ones in the Hall. It stood on the walkway unmoving, and seemed to be singing a deep, nearly inaudible chant. More and more came into view as the party arrived at what appeared to be a huge nexus of the walkway. The walkway formed a giant ring, with numerous paths leading off into the dark. Standing on the walkway were more of the statues, and spaced around the ring were the floating bodies of the Mages of the Seven Pillared Hall. Each Mage had a shadow creature sucking the energy from them, and there was no sign of the dragon.

The adventurers stopped at the first mage and shadow and pondered the situation. As they dithered, the dragon, hiding in the darkness above, dropped in on the players. It first surrounded them in a field of darkness, and then swooped down and snapped at the adventurers. The Monk maneuvered out of the darkness, smacked the dragon backwards, then activated the Witch’s orb to force the dragon down into the shadowy waters. Like Kalarel’s portal, the inky waters seemed to reach for the dragon, and drew it down into it’s dark surface... all without splashes.

It all happened so quickly that I didn't even get to take a picture....

Turning their attention now to the shadows and the mages, the party attacked. As the shadows were distracted from their tasks, the Mages awoke, and while drained, they managed to help defeat the shadow creatures. The Mages thanked the party, and departed with a flash, leaving the players alone with the now silent brass minotaurs.

Brugg, knowing the jig is up, hightails it out of the Hall. However, he also knows that the adventurers will be returning, so he decides to have a bit of revenge before moving on. With the last of the hobgoblin’s, and a few Blackfang Gnolls, Brugg waited in one of the many antechambers to the Hall.

The party walked right into the ambush, and were immediately shot at by the numerous archers laying in wait. The warlord scorched a couple of hobgoblins that attempted to sneak up behind them, while Brugg squeezed out from behind a statue, releasing his pet hellhounds. The party ended up strung out, with Ander and Chan alternately hamstringing and close-lining the archers.

Dietrich and Barakas focused on Brugg, and took the brunt of his anger. With a furious series of blows the ogre repeatedly pounded Barakas, driving him down first to his knees, then to the ground in a bloody broken mess. When Dietrich tried to intervene Brugg spun on him with frightening agility, landing a perfect blow. Dietrich reeled, stumbled, but remained standing. Shaking off the stars that had exploded in his vision, he spied Ander making his way behind Brugg. Dietrich pressed his attack, and summoned all his power, while Ander did the same (d30 rolls) to finally bring Brugg down.

As the party reached the Hall, Rendil Halfmoon, the halfling they rescued runs up to them "I know where the gnolls are!" he cried out, ending the session.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thunderspire Session 3 Part 1

This session was played on 8/14.

Cory ran:
Dietrich the Human Knight (formerly the Dragonborn Paladin)
Ander the Halfling Rogue

Alex ran:
Barakas the Tiefling Warlord
Chan Lee the Human Monk

This session picked up immediately where session 2 left off, with the adventurers standing over the bodies of the duergar in Murkelmor’s chamber. Knowing that the recently released slaves were waiting for them near the gates of the Horned Hold, they only took a moment to make sure the chamber was properly looted before heading back to the gates.

The adventurers lead the ex-slaves through the twisting passages of the Labyrinth, heading in what they hoped was the right direction to lead them all back to the Seven Pillared Hall. Somewhere along the way they ended up making a wrong turn, and ran into troop of rotwing zombies digging through rubble in a large chamber. Unusual activity from the usually brain-focused zeds. Unfortunately with a large body of slaves, the party attracted the creatures attention, as well as that of the gaunt figure that seemed to b directing them.

Dietrich, having taken the lead was charged by 3 of the zeds who managed to cause some not insignificant damage. However aside from that initial charge, the battle was fairly one-sided. The creatures seemed to have little with them, though the wight was carrying an odd item. It appeared to be an arm bone, made of brass, with one end shaped into strange teeth, like those of a key.

A short time after that the adventurers and ex-slaves returned to Seven Pillared Hall. The adventurers arranged to have them all sent back home with one of the frequent caravans that comes to the Hall, and made sure that they were supplied with enough coin and equipment to make the journey safely. They then returned to the inn, and crashed!

The next morning they were approached by the Dragonborn Warlock Surim, a relatively new resident of the Hall. She has been watching the adventurers and feels that they are honorable. She points out a drow pair eating a quiet breakfast in the corner, and tells the party that she thinks they’re scouts/agents of chaos who are trying to take over the Hall. Without waiting for the adventurers, she walks over to the pair and attacks them. Pandemonium ensues, as bleary-eyed patrons are suddenly in the middle of yet another battle in the bar, and they make like rats on a sinking ship. The party leaps into the fray, and manages to quickly talk everyone down, limiting the collateral damage to a few overturned chairs and ruined meals. It turns out the drow actually want to talk with the mages in charge of the Hall to obtain their assistance, and while thankful to the adventurers for stopping the fight, not interested in dealing with them.

The party then does some shopping and investigating. They know that there are still a few slaves that need saving, and that their best lead is a note from “The Bringer of Change” to Murkelmor about clearing out a collapsed passageway. Putting together a few clues they get a general idea of where this might be, and head bank into the Labyrinth.

Their info proves remarkably accurate, and they find the recently excavated passage. Descending carefully, they emerge on the shore of a vast cavern lake. Their sunrods light up the surrounding area fairly well, revealing the skeletons of minotaurs, and the dark misty water... beyond that the immense darkness seems to swallow their light. As they begin to look around, shadowy insubstantial forms take shape in the mists, and with a cry that rends at the adventurer’s very souls, the specters attack!

This battle proves to be one of the most difficult that the adventurers have faced to date. The wraith’s ability to turn the party against itself costs Dietrich his life as Ander, sadly weak willed to begin with, turns his daggers against his friend. The battle is made doubly difficult by their opponents insubstantial forms. Blows that would have brought a mortal to their knees, merely rips a shred of shadow-stuff from the specters!

Victorious, but bruised and battered, out of daily powers and action points, low on healing surges, and with one party member down the group returned to the Hall. While there they spend some cash getting Dietrich raised, and also did a little more shopping, trading their Amulet of Health for a set of 6 healing potions.

Returning to the shore, they extinguished their lights, and looked into the darkness... and spied a faint light. Taking to the walkways that spanned the lake they made their way slowly towards the light. It was nervous going, as there were things in the water... shapes that followed them, and occasionally made a splash in the otherwise still black water.

The walkways eventually lead to a great stalactite in the middle of the lake where the light emerged from a window above. Climbing the path that wound around the spire up to the window, the adventures spied a witch, some weird black-eyed halflings, and a pair of shadow mastiffs, none of which seemed to have noticed the adventurers. Seeing as they had the room’s occupants at a disadvantage, they called out to them. It was a tense standoff, but eventually the witch came to the conclusion that the players were actually anti-orcus. This was helped immeasurably by displaying the head of Kalarel.

The witch tells the adventurers that the lake is a giant portal to the Shadowfell, and that someone is trying to open it up wide. Further out into the lake the mages from the Hall are bound and being magically drained to fuel a massive ritual that is opening a vortex. She warns that the ritual is guarded by a shadow dragon, and she gifts them an orb that may assist in the fight...

In the H2 conversion the Orb is a potent tool in this situation to fight the dragon. I hadn’t realized it, but no one in the party could actually use an orb! For some reason I thought the warlord could. I was wrong, so I decided that the monk could use it as a Ki Focus, and then between sessions we nailed down the specifics of the Ki Focus for the future.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thunderspire Session 3 Thoughts

This should have been written significantly sooner than after session 4, however I didn’t get around to it until now. I don’t have too many thoughts that haven’t been covered in my previous post session thoughts.

The upgraded stats worked much better, and seemed to amp up the challenge.

I’m still not thrilled with the skill challenges mechanic. It feels too forced. I’d really like to see someone who’s good at it run it. It’s one thing to appreciate the magic of Disney, it’s another when you’re trying to do the same thing with you as host.

A significant portion of this session was spent off of the official adventure, making use of some of the material developed in the H2 Orcus conversion. I can not speak highly enough about this. Seriously, if you’re going to play H1-H3 you NEED to download this series, and incorporate it into your game.

My one big thought about the game was what I expected to be the big encounter of the night, the fight with the shadow dragon! I need to do a whole post on how I’ve used (and not) dragons in my games. This one is a young shadow dragon, with some fairly potent powers. Appropriate for a dragon solo, even a low level one. What didn’t work for me was how easily the players managed to shut down the encounter, even before it got off the ground.

They didn’t mind! They'd just kicked a dragon’s ass!

Me? I minded. I’m pretty sure I didn’t take it as well as I should have. I’m pretty sure I looked at the board, picked up the dragon and said something like “Well... shit.”

What I did do was take a break, reshuffled my notes, and forged on.

I had expected earlier in the session that the players would confront Brugg the Enforcer afte burning down the tavern*, but they managed to avoid him. As we still had lots of playing time to go (since I had expected the shadow dragon to take much longer) I decided that Brugg would be waiting for the players in an ambush.

Quantum Ogre in action?

This ended up being the final fight of the evening, and I think it went well. It was big, bad, and had my players on their toes. It felt like everything the dragon fight should have been... and yet I’m not sure I should have included it. It made sense, story-wise, considering their prior actions, but I kinda feel like I did it more to satisfy my own need for a big finale for the evening...

I’d really like to know your thoughts. I’ve set up a poll, but comments are even more welcome.

Session write up soon!

*It seems as if it isn't a D&D game if someone doesn't burn down the tavern!

Monday, November 14, 2011

CD Ruins

While working on the dice tower and the bell tower I also painted up some old ruins I had built years ago.

The round one (front row, left side) had a black cherry base coat. The two in the back corner were black, and the one in front on the right had a brown base coat. The one in the middle was from years ago, and I don't remember what color it's base coat was, but probably dark brown.

And the figures are the ones my 4e group uses for the PCs - 3 D&D prepaints, and a knight from... I think it's from one of the Diablo mini sets actually. Don't know where the shield is.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thunderspire Session 2 part 3

This is the conclusion of session 2 of my players adventure in Thunderspire. Today my players begin session 4. What happened to session 3? I haven't written it yet, but you should get it in the next week or so. I probably won't break it down like I did this one, but we'll see.

This session was played on 7/23.

Cory ran:
Dietrich the Human Knight (formerly the Dragonborn Paladin)
Ander the Halfling Rogue

Alex ran:
Barakas the Tiefling Warlord
Chan Lee the Human Monk

Just off the guard room was an antichamber that had 2 doorways. The main one was a giant bronze double door emblazoned with the image of a great minotaur’s head. The other door was also large, but its reinforced wood construction didn’t draw the eye like the bronze doors did. Once again the party opted to go for the less flashy door...

Bursting in they found the slaves being kept in pits, and taunted by some flying devils, and a few duergar.

In short order the duergar caster and his two guards were neutralized. The devils lived up to their name, bedeviling the adventurers, using their ability to fly to keep them out of range of most of the party’s potent attacks.

When all but one devil was taken care of, the party started to get the slaves freed and out the door. When they looked back, the devil was gone! The party armed the slaves as best they could, told them where the other slaves were waiting, and sent them on their way. They then turned to the great bronze doors. With a mighty pull on the minotaur’s horns, the doors swung open.

Murkelmor, leader of the Duerger stood between to bronze minotaur statues, hammer at the ready. The devil from the slave pens hovered above him. The room was heated by 2 great roaring fireplaces, and an incense burning brazier. Aside from that, there was no sign of other combatants. The adventurers charged in, Dietrich in the lead, slamming Murkelmor hard. Murkelmor and the devil hit the knight back equally hard.

Chan followed in right behind Dietrich, spinning round, and striking Murkelmor with  fearsome blow. Ander bounded in next, slashing the devil.

When Barakas stood between the fireplaces the flames within reached into the room, and from them emerged Murkelmor’s hidden guards!

The fight was fast and furious, with hit upon hit being traded back and forth. Murkelmor knocked the adventurers back, tossed Dietrich into the fire, and nearly kills Ander. Ander fought back keeping Murkelmor flanked with either Dietrich or Chan. It was this strategy that finally brought the Lord of the Horned Hold low. Yet with his death his guards fought with renewed vigor, or was it fear of the adventurers?

The guards fought with all their powers, holding back nothing, even growing to the size of an ogre! Yet it availed them naught. With Murkelmor dead, the adventurers were able to concentrate on the ogre-sized duergar, and they fell.

The adventurers sagged with exhaustion. Ander the rogue was out of healing surges, and Chan the monk and Dietrich the knight were down to a few each. Daily & Encounter powers were gone, as were their action points, and d30 rolls. After catching their breath they gathered the freed slaves, and set out for the Seven Pillared Hall.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Super Secret Side Project! part 2

It looks like a simple boarder tower...

However in reality it is much much more!

By removing the top it transforms into my new dice roller!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holbeche Bloxam

My primary PC is having issues... It's almost 3 years old, and it wasn't what you would call top of the shelf. Honestly, it didn't qualify for middle shelf either. And after repeated power outages on Monday... well... At least I've still got my netbook.

So instead of the post I was going to write today, here's a lazy but useful post for you.

Lots of great architectural sketches, and tell me that isn’t a fantastic name! Holbeche Bloxam.

And yes, I know it's not Sunday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thunderspire Session 2 part 2

This session was played on 7/23.

Cory ran:
Dietrich the Human Knight (formerly the Dragonborn Paladin)
Ander the Halfling Rogue

Alex ran:
Barakas the Tiefling Warlord
Chan Lee the Human Monk

Opting to avoid crossing the chasm for the moment, the runemarked adventurers continued deeper into the gatehouse complex. After following a long hallway they found themselves in what seemed to be a new area. They avoided the big set of double doors, and opted to check out the side rooms first. First they quickly scoped out a store room, and then moved onto a poorly appointed barracks. They then moved into an almost overwhelmingly hot kitchen, nearly scaring to death a slave servant. From him they found out what was in the next room, namely the Duerger lord Rundarr and a few of his lackeys.

The party decided to split up, sending the knight and warlord to the main door, while the monk and rogue would come in through the kitchen door.

Ander and Chan Lee charged in first, charging straight for the dueger sitting behind the head table. Chan Lee made it through the door first, performing a bounding leap over the table, and slamming hard into Rundarr trying to slide him. Rundarr, in spite of barely having stood up from his soup, didn’t even stagger from the blow, grabbed Lee’s foot and slammed it into the floor, embedding it hard. Bounding over the table Ander stuck the distracted Rundarr, but failed to land a telling blow.

Hearing the commotion Barakas and the knight charge in. Barakas ignored the guard standing dumbly by the side of the room and charged Rundarr whiile the knight charged the guard.

Rundarr swung his warhammer with some precision, connecting more often than not with Ander and Lee. The arrival of another guard, and two scouts added some distraction to the party, but Ander and Lee continued to pound on Rundarr, each hit causing his beard to smolder, glow, ficker, and finally burst into flame, pushing back the adventurers as Rundarr suddenly tripled in size. With a roar he swung at Ander with his giant warhammer again and again and again and again (action point) yet managed to connect with the halfling only once.

As the rest of the duerger fell, a lone scout who had been harassing the party with his crossbow turned tail and ran. The monk circled around, cutting off his escape, before a flurry of blows laid the scout out. A pair of magical greaves that Rundarr wore went to Dietrich.

The party then consulted with the slaves, arming them with spears gathered from some of their previous opponents and told them to go hide in the gatehouse. The slaves told them of a large group of slaves across the chasm that they had seen while delivering food. Unfortunately the main bridge across was heavily fortified, and the slaves didn’t know anything about the smaller bridge.

Spending a mere moment to discuss their options they returned to the smaller bridge, and sent Ander across alone to check the far gate. Sneaking across, he pulled out a sunrod only after he was concealed in the doorway. He listened at the door, and examined it for any traps before focusing his attention on the large elaborate lock. A few moments later he flashed the sunrod’s light across the chasm, and the rest of the party joined him. Beyond they found a disused corridor littered with rubble and trash and 3 doors. They decided to try the door that they believed lead to the gate room. It did, and they quickly engaged the duerger and the animated arbalests that guarded the room.

The duergar thurge blasted the party with a wave of despair that only the rogue suffered the effects of. He then followed it up with a brimstone hail upon the knight and the monk, unconcerned with his allies in the blast. Feeling a little overwhelmed both the warlord and the monk used their daily powers - the monk dishing out 6 solid hits all doing between 15-20 points of damage and felling 2 of their opponents!

Moving deeper into the complex the party next encountered another gate room guarded by orcs. Upon entering they discovered the 4 orcs had backup in the form of an ogre! The ogre was fast for a creature of his bulk, and hit fairly frequently, but not with much more force than the orcs. The knight really shined in this fight, landing 2 criticals on the orcs.

Just off the guard room was an antichamber that had 2 doorways. The main one was a giant bronze double door emblazoned with the image of a great minotaur’s head. The other door was also large, but its reinforced wood construction didn’t draw the eye like the bronze doors did. Once again the party opted to go for the less flashy door...

To be continued...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Super Secret Side Project! part 1

If you follow me on Google+, you've already seen this sneak preview of my Super Secret Side Project. For those who don't, here it is!

I didn't get to spend any time on the Bell Tower this weekend, but I have made some progress on this project.

I also see that I've picked up a few new followers! Welcome to the Tower Mortellan, new Big Dragon, Niccodaemus, and Purestrainhuman!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Pasini Courtyard

Circassian Cavalry Awaiting Their Commanding Officer at the Door of a Byzantine Monument; Memory of the Orient by Alberto Pasini

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Noisms from Monsters and Manuals posted a list of Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About, and he’s right, or at least he was until he posted this list. And since I have a hard time passing up things like this...

Book binding.
I love books! I like the feel, the smell, the look of a well loved and well put together book. I’m always impressed at how well the d6 Star Wars stuff from WEG has held together, even the soft covers. The binding, the paper, it’s all great!

"Doing a voice".
I do more speech patterns, rather than voices, though I guess that’s a pretty fine distinction. As a DM it helps me get more into the game.

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?
My 4e game tends to be a once every 4-6 weeks, and we tend to play for about 8-10 hours. We take very short breaks as needed.

Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions?
Mostly pretty minimal, but every once in a while I’ll have at it.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?
Wheaton’s Law is in full effect.

PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?
I generally discourage it as a DM. As a player I’d rather be killing monsters.

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?
Cops and Robbers, or Cowboys and Aliens - with dice.

Alchohol at the table?
Not recently, but it never bothered me.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?
This is generally a non-issue. If the player isn’t there, the character usually isn’t either.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Building the Tower (part 2)

While working on the walls I also started working on the corners. Yes, I know in the instructions it says to do the corners after, but while I’m sitting there waiting for the glue to dry, I can put them together.

With a little luck and free time I should be able to get this assembled to the point where I can start painting by the end of the weekend.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Building the Tower (part 1)

You’ve already seen the blocks laid out for one wall.

When I started the actual construction of the first wall of the tower, I began at the bottom, and worked my way up, from the bottom windows, to the alcoves, up to the top windows. All the while I kept double checking this picture as I went.

With the first one was assembled and the glue dried enough, I slid it up out of the frame and across the table. Then I started on the second wall. As I was finishing the second up, I slid the first one down next to it, and realized that the second was half an inch shorter!! It turned out that when I was making the first section, I had used 2 rows of 1/2 inch blocks when I had planned on 1/4 inch blocks. Not a major problem, but frustrating. Luckily, the glue from the second wall section was still very wet, so I pulled it apart in the appropriate sections, and added in that extra half inch.

I then slid the wall out of the frame and began working on the third section, adding in the extra height from the start. While I was doing that I noticed that the extra height made the area above the alcoves seem... lacking. One thought I had was to put up some sort of symbol, a crest or shield or something. While I think that might actually look good, I don’t have anything suitable kicking around, and I certainly don’t have 4 of them! However a simple line of .25” bricks seems to do the job.

You can see where I made the error above, and how I'm addressing it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Casting - Done!

Due to the magic of me casting before many of these posts went live (or were even written), I’m now done casting, and have all the bricks I need to make my bell tower. In order to save myself from an unhealthy level of insanity while building, I have sorted the bricks into bins.

The next step is making the frame for building the walls. I’m using the most expensive of supplies - free paint stir sticks from the local big box home improvement place. Per the instructions they’re taped down to the paper. I used the 2” long bricks to ensure that the spacing is even from top to bottom. In the picture you can see the beginning of the wall with the doorway, which is actually the last wall to be built.

Then lay out one of the walls... this picture is from before building the frame, but it shows the basic layout of the wall. Each wall will be slightly different in which blocks go where, but the major features (windows and alcoves) will all be the same.

And before we start gluing, we check the instructions one more time!