Saturday, July 30, 2016

Stonehell: Bad Touch

Session 14 was played on 7/1 (This is part 1 of 2)

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 2 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Tobias, Cat, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Mollie)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)

Bumming around town alone, Wilhelm came across a group of out-of-work mercs looking for a job, and while dungeon crawling wasn’t usually their thing, gold spends. With the exchange of coin, Wilhelm found himself in command of a dozen soldiers: 10 men at arms, and 2 link bearers, as well as his trusty hound Hamlet.

They head to the dungeon, bypassing the gatehouse, and making straight for Rocky. With only a single question “How do we get past the orcs” Rocky tells Wilhelm that the only way is through them, that they are blood thirsty and cannot be negotiated with.

From there, they march quickly to the great doors adorned with the Danse Macabre, shoving them open and entering the quiet halls. Through the pillared room and into the crypts where skeletons and a ghoul jumped out immediately at them. After the first few skeletons were knocked down, the ghoul made it to the front row, and laid into Wilhelm, paralyzing him. His troops rallied around the frozen form, killing the ghoul and the skeletons, then dragging Wilhelm back to the dungeon entrance.

Nearly out of the dungeon the paralysis wears off, and Wilhelm commands his troops back to the quiet halls. Passing through the pillar room, a large spider dropped down on one of the link bearers, but failed to do more than knock him back. The rest of the group turned and beat down the giant arachnid, bludgeoning it into pulp. They see a body suspended in the webbing above, but hurry off to another section of crypt.

The first pair of doors had some skeletons, but the group put their combat tactics to use and held both doors shut, only allowing a single skeleton or two out at a time. The next set of doors had another group of zombies and a ghoul but once again the combat tactics worked to their advantage. After putting the undead back to their rest, the crypts were looted, and a secret door was found. Beyond was a large chamber littered with bones. Humanoid skeletons were scattered about and a giant snake skeleton was coiled around the middle of the room. As the troops entered, the skeletons rose up, including the big snake! It lashes out, taking Wilhelm’s helmet but barely leaving him his life. He orders a general retreat, and they all retreat back through the secret door, slamming it shut.

With his scalp bleeding, and his pack full of treasure, he decides that it’s time to go. They make their way out of the dungeon, and back to town.

Gains: 900gp worth of treasure
Losses: 1 helmet
Kills: 17 Skeletons, 6 Zombies, 2 Ghouls, 1 Spider

Wilhelm's second delve to come...

Friday, July 29, 2016

Unlikely Inspiration: Crazy Music Videos

There is an entire adventure in this music video, complete with a crazy wizard, a somewhat inept thief, magical treasure, and an organ that shoots flames.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rings of Binding

"I so swear it." They intoned.

Everyone looked at the pair of rings waiting for a flash of light or a bell to ring...

"Did it work?" Nimble asked.

"I... don't know." Feris looked at the ring on his finger. Whispering a few magical words, he looked to the other ring on Sita Hatun Sultana's hand, and grinned. "Yes!"

She grinned back at him.

"So now what?" Rathgar asked.

"It means that now we can share our power" Sita replied.

Rings of Binding

These rings, when activated, bind together the life forces of the pair that wear them. This allows them to share their hit point totals and resist charm like effects with a +2 bonus to saving throws. Additionally, magic users in the bond can share their number of spells per day, using them with whatever spells the user has already prepared.

For example, two 3rd level magic users are wearing the rings. One has Levitate, and the other has Web memorized, the one who has Web can cast it twice.

Should the rings ever be removed voluntarily by the wearers they will not function for that same pair again without a remove curse being cast on both rings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


They're making a new Ghostbusters? Awesome!!

It's a reboot? Oh...

With an all female team? Oh boy...

The internet didn't take kindly to this announcement. And by "the internet" I mean the menboys with access to a keyboard and the know-how to use the Caps Lock button.

I love the original Ghostbusters. It's one of my favorite movies from my childhood, and it remains one of those movies I can watch over and over again. I've listened to the commentaries, watched the extra features, and went to see it in the theater at one of those special anniversary screenings... seriously, I love it.

Now, the backlash was so strong, and so focused on the fact that it was being done with an all female cast that I was half tempted to go see it for that reason alone. But before I got the chance to see it, since I was busy opening weekend, some of my friends did, and they liked it. Not a perfect movie, but definitely worth seeing.

So Friday night, instead of playing D&D, I went with Julia (one of my players who had already seen it) to go see a late screening. And they were right, it was good! I tried, and failed, to not spend the whole movie comparing it to the original, but it was inevitable that I did. And while it could never match what the first movie is to me, it managed to do something rather shocking. It held up on its own. It was solid. The characters had individual motivations and skills (except Kevin the eye candy). It was impressive. It was also funny, but with that cast, I'm not surprised.

The original cast cameos felt well done, as were the nods to the previous 2 movies. And yes, while it did hit some/many of the same beats as the original, it was a new story with a new villain, and one that seemed very appropriate in light of the flack that the movie took for even being made.

I hope that it does well enough in the box office to warrant a sequel.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Go Read an RPG Book in Public!

Today starts the tri-annual Read an RPG Book in Public week!

I'm going to focus on reading the stuff I got from Free RPG day.

Unfortunately, it's stupid hot out, so it'll be a little less public than I'd like. Still, the cafeteria at work counts!

Star Trek Beyond

After Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness (2013) I was pretty much willing to write off the alternate timeline that the movies are following. Too much lens flare, not enough substance, not enough of what makes Star Trek different from other space operas. Not to mention the plot holes that you could drive a starship through!

So it was with little hope or even interest when the first trailer was released. Except... Simon Pegg was involved in the script, and JJ was off working on another project. And Idris Elba was playing the villain? Okay, maybe my interest was piqued.

So I looked, and then watched the second trailer. Then Simon Pegg said NOT to watch the third trailer. Now I was intrigued... and then the initial reviews started coming out, and they said it was good.

For all that, I wasn't ready to commit and see it opening night. But a Saturday morning matinee? That I could do.

And it was good!

Now, it might be that the bar was set so low that they didn't have to try very hard, but based on what my friends thought, and on what the other people in the theater were saying, it seems like they pulled it off.

Not only that, but while continuing to diverge from the original timeline, they keep it linked together, and not just through Ambassador Spock. There are a few easter eggs that touch on each of the different series, so no matter your taste in Trek, there will be a nod to it.

Also, blessedly, there was a distinct lack of female characters in their underwear!

Oh, and as far as the gay Sulu thing? I liked the acknowledgement that Demora Sulu exists in this universe, and that Hikaru's husband is also of Asian descent, but that it wasn't any sort of issue that they were a same sex couple. It just was.

I am curious what they'll do for the next movie with the tragic loss of Anton Yelchin. I find myself hoping they add another female crewperson. The cast could use a little balance that way.

Overall, it hit all the right notes for me. I give it a solid B+/A-.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Frostgrave: Hot Water

It is said that the Jinn are wild elemental beings... And that to summon them is to invite death. Yet into Frostgrave we went, looking for lamps in a section of town littered with boiling geysers. But my wizard was prepared. He and his apprentice had learned Planar Tear!

We changed the player deployment rules to put the high level players at one end of the table, and the lower level players at the other. This put me right in the middle of the table. Not a happy place to be... except for the fact that there were a number of treasures within relatively easy reach. Unfortunately the position was rather exposed.

Making the best of it, I directed my forces out, crossbowmen to the right to defend my flank from the evil druid, the again reanimated Princess to keep an eye on things in the middle of the board, while a treasure hunter and thug went after the ruined building just ahead of the deployment area. Starting the game off, my wizard tried to Telekinesis a treasure, failed, and injured himself. His apprentice did a better job. The rest of the forces spread out heading toward their respective goals.

Turn 2
The apprentice was felled by a powerful elemental bolt! Unfortunately the cowardly wizard who cast it moved out of sight before my wizard could return the favor. Instead he used Leap on the zombie and sent him skyward to fetch a treasure perched precariously on an overhead walkway. The crossbowmen took pot shots, but failed to do more than keep the druid's band under cover.

Turn 3
A war dog came around the corner and gnawed on my treasure hunter who went and retrieved the treasure that had been drawn toward him via the wizard's spell. My wizard tried to Push the dog away, but failed again. The zombie picked up the treasure, and then jumped down. While the treasure survived, the zombie didn't. The dog mauling the treasure hunter brought him down. Knuckles the thug made it into the ruin and ran up to a treasure within. From the other end of the ruin rushed in another warbands treasure hunter. Liss, the treasure hunter following Knuckles joined him in the ruin.

Turn 4
With the treasure hunter dead, my wizard blasted the dog with Bone Dart, only succeeding (I rolled a 5!!) in the casting because he's so good at it. Knuckles jumped at the enemy and spied another couple of figures just outside! Liss grabbed the treasure. Knuckles dropped, and Liss got jumped. Princess charged in at the fountain, trying to keep a treasure from being claimed, killing the dog that was guarding the thief.

Turn 5
Liss killed the treasure hunter who attacked her, then ran for her life with the treasure! Princess was killed. The crossbowmen continued to fail to do anything useful. Rathgar grabbed a treasure from the upper floor of a ruin and started to climb down. The wizard failed to reanimate the zombie, while Sir Hellsbane, who basically spent the game running in a big circle picked up the treasure that was dropped in the dog attack.

Turn 6
Mostly cleanup action, running back to the wizard's lair. The wizard successfully raised the zombie, who grabbed the treasure and shambled along. Then, like a bolt from the dark, the evil druid launched a bone dart at my wizard, who dropped like a stone, already weakened from his failed spells.

Turn 7

In the end my team claimed 5 treasures, none of them the Genies (there were 3). The loot was impressive, including 3 grimoires, 3 potions, and a Robe of Arrow Turning!

Then it was time to check on the wounded. Amazingly Princess Survived, but was badly wounded. The treasure hunter was dead.
Then I rolled to check on the apprentice... and got a 1. Dead. He was going to be expensive to replace... ah well.

Rolling for the wizard... and I got a 2. Also dead...

That could have gone better... It was decided a new wizard (level 0) would arrive and take over the old wizards inn, keeping the treasury and vault, but having to hire a new apprentice.

It was a little disappointing that I didn't get anywhere close to the Genies, especially since I had prepared for them.

What am I going to play next time? Something other than a necromancer I think. Beyond that? We'll see...

Sunday Inspirational Image: The Dead King

I don't actually know the title of this piece, or where it came from... but I like it!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: Steel Magic

If you follow me on goodreads, you know that my ratings of books is fairly arbitrary. I don't have a set of hard rules governing what book gets what rating. It's a totally subjective process based entirely on what I liked and didn't like. And sometimes, if a book sticks with me, I go back and change my rating, usually to bump it up.

I haven't changed my review or rating of Steel Victory, but I did reread it before getting into Steel Magic, and while my review stands, I did enjoy it even more the second time though. But rereading it, and then reading Steel Magic directly after did make me think about how I assign ratings, and it caused me to come up with a rule: If it keeps me up all night reading it (or I take the audiobook out of the car to finish it), the book gets 5 stars. Now... on to the review.

Steel Magic 5/5 Stars
tldr: Fast paced sequel to Steel Victory kept me up reading way too late, and now I want book 3.

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

Funerals are usually the end of the story, not the beginning.

Newly graduated warrior-mages Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas find themselves the last remaining mages in the city when a mage school teacher mysteriously falls ill and dies. But taking over the school themselves isn't in the cards. They're set to become professional mercenaries-if they make it through the next 18 months as journeymen first.

The debate over whether to hunt mutated monsters in the Wasteland or take posh bodyguard jobs is put on hold when a city elder hires them to solve the mystery of the disappearing mages. Toria and Kane's quest brings them to the British colonial city of New Angouleme, where their initial investigation reveals that the problem is even greater than they feared.

But when a friend is kidnapped, they'll have to travel to the other side of the globe to save her, save themselves, and save magic itself.

Steel Magic begins and ends with death. It's a fast paced too short book that leaves you wanting more. More time with the characters, more pages spent on exploring this world ravaged by war, and more on the twisted and failing magics. The story told here in a mere 184 pages contains enough elements that a lesser novelist would have spent a trilogy of 500 pages bricks to fully entice you in and then bore you with by the end. Here, the author clearly has other plans, and the break neck pace will leave you gasping by the end... for multiple reasons.

Getting to see more of the world outside of the city-state of Limani was a treat, especially as I'd been intrigued by the political makeup of this alternate reality where the Roman Empire never fell and it and the British Empire are the dominant players (at least around the setting of the first book) is an interesting setup. (note to the author: GIVE ME A MAP!! Please!!!) I also really enjoy finding out about more of the magic and magical creatures of the world, and seeing what twists the author has put on old ideas.

What really makes the book though is the strong personalities of the characters. You really know who these people are, you get the voice that they speak with, and their reactions ring true. I can't wait to see where Kane and Toria and their friends and family (not necessarily overlapping circles) go from here.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Steel Magic Giveaway!

Want a signed copy of the newest release from J.L. Gribble's alternate history urban fantasy series Steel Empire's series Steel Magic?

Leave a comment, and one lucky winner will be picked next Wednesday!

Missed out on the first book in the series? Pick it up here!

Also, I'm still waiting to hear from Elrics about the last contest... If he doesn't respond, someone else may end up with what would have been his prize!