Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diorama & Painting Thoughts

As ReaperCon got closer and closer, and I realized I'm not going to be able to get the diorama done in time, at least not to the level I want. I found that my attention was drawn more toward doing some fun, relatively simple minis to a tabletop standard. That's why I worked on the familiars and grave hounds.

Most of the painting I've done this year has been to a tabletop standard. Tabletop plus in most cases, and I'm happy with the painting I'm doing. It isn't award winning level painting, though I've pulled off award level painting in the past. It's a lot of effort and a lot of stress. And it isn't my job. I don't hobby professionally. I don't teach classes, take commissions, I don't give online tutorials. At most, you get a couple of sentences here about what colors I used. Mostly I paint for me.

So I'm going to focus on what I enjoy, and that's getting things painted. Hell, that's why I went with Bones in the first place, to have something to paint that I could practice simply getting things painted. (I may have slipped a bit into just collecting all the Bones...) I haven't really followed through on that, but I'm getting better. And by doing my best to incrementally get better and better, learning and trying out new techniques and styles, I can compete with the one person who I need to compete with: Myself. As long as I keep getting better, I'll be happy.

What does that mean for the diorama? Mostly that it'll be entered in 2018. I'm going to keep working on it, and try to make it awesome. For this year, I'm taking the sorceress and entering her alone. I'll swap in another figure to replace her on the diorama...

I put the sorceress on a 30mm lipped base, greenstuffed it smoothish, and then painted the torchlight and shadows onto the base. I went through a couple of different ways to paint the light before settling on this... I mean, I think I've settled on this.

Yes. This.

Also going to enter the The Red Herald, Disciple of Cthon that I've been frantically working on since Friday... you know, less than a week before the Con... But that's another post that I don't have time to write right now!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ReaperCon here I come!

In just a few hours I'll be on my way to ReaperCon!

It's less of a "fuck it, I'm going" this year, and more of a "that was awesome! I'm totally going again!"

This year I'm taking 3 classes, signed up to play in a couple of games, and bringing a bit less than what I brought last time. Since I didn't get the diorama done, I'm only entering the painters division. I'm going to keep working on the diorama, and will enter it next year.

Last year's classes ended up being an oddball mix from painting to basing to sculpting to converting /kitbashing minis. This year, I'm focusing only on painting. I'm taking:
  • Fluid Filled Objects
  • Monster Skintones
  • Red Leather & Yellow Leather
I hope that this will help up my painting level going forward.

I'm also bringing several minis that I want some expert takes on. Painter's Row, with all the professional painters is an amazing resource, and I intend on making better use of it this time around, rather than just drooling over the display pieces.

I'm still gonna drool over the display pieces.

Among the goodies included this year is a resin dragon bust. I've never painted a bust before, so I'm kinda looking forward to giving it a shot. Of course I'll need to get a good display base to show it off on...

As for other goodies, I don't actually plan on getting much of anything outside of what comes with my ticket. I'm good on paints, more than good on minis, and incredibly short on space to store stuff... So mostly I'm going to have a good time and see if I can't level up my painting!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Frozen in Time

What is it? DCC Adventure #79 for 1st level characters by Michael Curtis

Spoilers Below!

So, I'm something of a Michael Curtis fan. He wrote Stonehell, which I've been running regularly for almost 2 years now. He wrote The Chained Coffin  which served as the backbone of my Weird New World campaign. Plus a whole bunch of other stuff, from system neutral books like The Dungeon Alphabet to 5e adventures. Plus in the times I've had occasion to game with and chat with him, he's been a friendly guy.

All that aside, this is a great low level adventure that packs all the weirdness that DCC has to offer into it. The dungeon is the lair of a (long dead) time traveler locked in a glacier. The glacier is retreating, and a falling ice sheet exposes an entrance to the complex. Within this futuristic dungeon among primitive barbarians are wonders and dangers the likes of which are rarely seen outside of DCC.

How many other D&D type games give you the chance to loot the Mona Lisa? Or fight a t-rex? Heck there's even a couple of interesting humaniods that could be replacement PCs, should members of the party not survive including an anthro-antis and a walrus-man!

If that doesn't strike your fancy, how about a teleporter that'll send the PCs... well... wherever you want to send them!

And then there's the fun moment when exploring all this that the power-core fails, and the PCs have to run for it. While not a 0-level funnel, this is probably the next best thing!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Grave Hounds

In keeping with the month's theme, I painted up the Grave Hounds from Bones 3's graveyard expansion. As always, they were washed in warm water with dish soap, and given a good scrub with my craft toothbrush. I based them on 25mm round bases from Reaper, and basecoated them with grey liner. I painted the bodies with (DARK BROWN) and brought up the fur on one with leather brown giving it a more yellow brown color, and on the other I just added in a bit of Linen White to bring the color up.

The exposed bone was painted with Bone, and the ripped and torn flesh with Splattered Crimson highlighted with Heraldic Red.

The integrated bases were blended in a bit with some leftover greenstuff and covered with sand that was painted Mountain Grey, then brought up with increasing amounts of linen white mixed in with the mountain stone, and given a splash of flesh wash to add in a bit more depth.

Quick and easy minis. Gotta love both undead and animals when you want to get something painted up quickly.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spooky Familiars

It's the spooky time of year, so a wonderful time to pull out all the ghouls and goblins to work on. I've already worked on lots of goblins this year, and ghouls weren't grabbing my attention, so I grabbed a few teeny tiny familiars: crow/raven, cat, and bat. Each was given a grey liner base coat and nightmare black body. I used Heraldic Red for the eyes of the raven and mouth of the bat.

Front view

For the cat, I decided to be a little silly, and painted her up like Luna from Sailor Moon. So she has anime eyes done using Linen White and Heraldic Red, a little god dot on her forehead, and a 50/50 mix of splattered crimson and Pale Flesh Shadow for the ears and nose.

The smallest bases I could find were 20mm, so that's what they got based on. Being so tiny they needed something. The bat wouldn't stand up on it's own, and the raven and cat would both fall over if you looked at them sideways. The bases for the bat and raven are built up with cork and some rough sand, and painted with mountain grey, washed with flesh wash and red and green inks, then highlighted up with Mountain Stone mixed with increasing amounts of Linen White. The cat got the same deal, but without the cork.

Rear view
Still need to clean up the bottom of the bases, and give them a clear coat.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Jewels of the Carnifex

What is it? DCC adventure #70 for 3rd level characters by Harley Stroh

Spoilers Below!

First thing's first, for those 40K fans out there, this is not the Carnifex being referenced, in spite of that awesomely weird thing on the cover.

In this case, Carnifex a cthonic goddess of assassins and torturers whose symbol is a 3 headed raven, and she's been imprisoned by some do-gooder paladin types. Unfortunately they're too pure(ish) for their own good, and can't destroy the jewels that hold her power. So their imprisonment isn't as complete as they want.

The adventure itself is a dungeon crawl through the 2 levels of the under temple of the Carnifex. The upper level is more traps and tricks, while the second level is where the party encounters the Swords of the Pious and the imprisoned goddess.

For what would otherwise be a relatively standard dungeon crawl, there are a few fun twists that make this a much more interesting adventure. Namely, there aren't a lot of good options, and the likelihood that the party manages to pick the least worst set of options is pretty slim. Do they try to work with the fanatic lawful (evil?) paladins, or do they try to release the goddess of assassins? Dare they keep the treasures they find?

In addition to the dungeon, there's an optional encounter with some descendants of the Paladins who still guard the old temple grounds, a rumors table (I always appreciate these), and a section on how to handle the PCs (potentially) acquiring some incredibly valuable treasure.

Unfortunately there wasn't an option given to have Canifex as a potential patron/god, or even suggestions for potential followups in spite of the suggestion that "The PCs are left with the sinister sense that they have not seen the last of the Carnifex". Seems like a missed opportunity.

All in all though, I really appreciate an adventure that lets you make difficult moral type choices, even if most players probably just try to kill everyone and keep all the stuff.

Friday, October 6, 2017

5e Aerial Combat

My 5e game has taken some interesting twists and turns as I introduce this, that, and the other thing to keep things interesting. For example, the party has been dealing with a hobgoblin army that's surrounded a walled town. There aren't enough troops to take the town, and the town doesn't have enough troops to force away the army. Clearly both are awaiting reinforcements. But the PCs came from the same direction the hobgoblin reinforcements would be arriving from, and they didn't overtake anyone... So the force should be coming from some other direction... or by some means other than marching. Magic could work, but doesn't necessarily make for a good story.

Flying? That could work, plus sets up an interesting tactical challenge.

I already introduced a green dragon, but he's a selfish SOB. Wyverns don't get enough love, and with Reaper doing Blacksting the wyvern as part of Bones 4 I felt inspired to include some.


Then my players asked me if there were any flying creatures in the town they were helping to defend. I'd actually figured they'd use the big weapons on the walls... but sure, why not. A small stable of hippogriffs that are used primarily as fast couriers.

Okay, so then to check aerial combat in the 5e books... and nothing. Hmmm... Rules cyclopedia? Also not really helpful. Okay, I guess we're just gonna wing it.

I basically decided that I was gonna riff on the idea that for the most part both the wyverns and hippogfiffs need to keep moving to keep flying. I decided that turning would cost 10' of movement, and reversing course would cost half move, except for the paladin's giant bat who I figure is more maneuverable. Altitude would be handled mostly by hand waving it. I used the hex grid, and called each space 10'

Playing on the Sultan... and not taking advantage of anything but the large surface area!

I pulled out 12d12 to represent the wyverns, and each player grabbed a figure to represent them and their mounts. I broke the wyverns into 2 waves of 6, and the second wave would show up after 1d6 rounds.

The players decided to sneak attack the wyverns. They have a magical top hat that's a portal to a large pocket dimension/demi plane, and had everyone and their mounts enter it, while the paladin and his bat were turned invisible by the bard. They'd fly right up to the hobgoblin's on wings, and dump everyone out in the midst of them.

The hobgoblins, loaded for attacking a city were unprepared for an aerial dogfight, so the players got a surprise round. Initially the players focused on the hobgoblins, not realizing just what asses the wyverns were by themselves.

Noting that the wyverns were fairly loaded down, the players asked a bit more about that. and I told them that some were carrying the same sort of oil barrels that the resupply caravan had. The dragonborn paladin positioned himself to breath fire on 2 that had the barrels (I decided the odd numbered ones had them) and let have it with his flame breath attack. One failed its save and caught fire, and then the bard dropped a fireball on them, and the other one fail its save. They both dropped from the fight.

Why do you do this to us?

Unfortunately the bard took a critical hit, knocking her from the back of the bat. She was saved from splatting with a featherfall., but then one of the hippogriffs suffered some massive damage and dropped. A series of aerial rescues, and acrobatic leaps onto wyverns as the battle progressed.

In spite of how well things were going, they were outnumbered, and once the hippogriffs started taking damage, things went downhill for the party fairly quickly. As quickly as they could, they retreated back into the hat. Well, those that could. The new Ranger who'd joined for this session was too far away, and being chased by 3 wyverns. He managed to kill one with Entangle, got a badly injured one to break off, and took the other from the hobgoblin rider when his hippogriff was killed. The paladin on the bat with the hat, entered the demiplane, leaving the hat to blow about in the wind 500' up, and within sight of the hobgoblins. Two of them spotted the hat, and one of them managed to snatch it from the air.

Okay, 12 wyverns was probably too much. Breaking it into 3 waves of 4 might have been better. On the other hand, I love a fight that really challenges the party.
Lances need a better mechanic. 1d12 damage is nice... but on a charge should probably do more.
Writing the stats for the hippogriffs on the playmat so PCs could track their own mounts was smart of me.
Having some sort of directional marker to indicate which way everyone was flying would have been useful, as well as a way to indicate altitude.
How easy is it gonna be for the PCs to maintain control of the 2 wyverns they've captured???

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review: Colossus, Arise!

What is it? DCC Adventure #76 for 8th level characters (double that for standard D&D) by Harley Stroh

Me, reading on the 2 train on the way home Monday night

Spoilers below!

So I haven't run very many high level adventures in general, and none for DCC, but holy hell, this adventure will kill you PCs if they don't play it smart. Basic set up is that a group of people from the 2nd age wants to kill off humans (3rd age) to usher in the 4th age, and they're using some pretty nasty magics to make it happen.

This is potentially a world altering adventure. Maybe even a world ending adventure if the PCs really elf it up. It would also work best if the Judge (DM) had this stewing in the background for a while, rather than just pulling it out to run on game night. The inclusion of a section on how to bring the PCs in given that they're pretty high level and probably have other things on their mind than traveling to a remote desert to kill some cultists. I mean, sure, end of the world sort of stuff, but PCs have probably already handled that once or twice already, right? By itself the section probably isn't enough to just plug into a long running game, but certainly is enough to get you thinking about how to do it.

The adventure is divided up into 3 main sections: the ruined desert city, the temple complex, and the big deadly fight at the end back in the city. While traveling to the city isn't necessarily part of the adventure, there is a 2 page spread of potential encounters along the way that can help set the stage for the adventure.

The ruined city itself is occupied by an army of small quasi-titans, and though the PCs are mighty in arms and magic, they'll need to not just try to plow through it with brute force. In keeping with the more old-school theater of the mind style gaming, there's no big keyed map of the city. The environs are abstracted and events, rather than locations are the rule. Given that the PCs shouldn't be scrounging for every lost copper piece, this makes a lot of sense, and I think would play out really well.

Once into the temple and its dungeon is then things get really interesting. There are a number of challenges where there are options to make things easier early on, but can have some consequences later. There is also a spot where PCs can literally walk themselves through death's door. What fights they get in, and who they choose to engage can also make some fights easier or harder, and open up some possibilities to get more info about what's to come. The fight with the Prophetess and her shield maidens specifically can go all sorts of different ways.

Given the nature of the events of this adventure, there's a neat additional mechanic to bring back the spirits of former PCs/Henchman to help out with warnings of imminent danger!

And then there's the final battle with the titular monster. No matter how mighty the PCs might be, a 300hp titan isn't just something you hack at. Thankfully the adventure provides some potential means of dealing with it. As befitting such an adventure, they all come with a (potentially) mighty cost.

Of course, the risks and rewards of saving the world or ushering in the end of the age of man aren't anything to sneer at either, should the PCs survive.

All in all an excellent offing that can absolutely destroy your campaign world. Use with caution!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hangout Figure of the Month: September

With ReaperCon just weeks away, the general consensus was to pick something easy. So, Reaper's Animal Companions. I've already painted the bear, wolf, and wolverine, so I'll paint up the cat and the bird.

Previously painted animals

I've also got a bunch of other animals, and the temptation to just paint them all up is strong, but given everything else, I'm just gonna focus on these 2. As usual, I washed them in soapy water and gave them a good scrub with a toothbrush to clean them off. I decided to make use of my massive pile of bases and even to add some sand/gravel to them before painting. Crazy, right? Then I primed everything with Brown Liner. Still bummed that the Sepia Liner doesn't hold up better.

Starting with the cat, I decided to paint it up as a snow leopard. Maybe not the easiest paint scheme, but it fits better in Frostgrave than a black panther. Originally I thought about using either Grey or Blue, but in looking at pictures of them, they definitely have a more brown base to their colors. I brought up the fur with Linen White until it was nearly white.

The spots/markings were done with Ebony Flesh and Linen White. Getting them right was not easy, but I kept a couple of pictures up on the computer screen as I painted, and that helped, sort of. The eyes are Lantern Yellow. The nose is Pure Black, while Splattered Crimson was used for the teeny bit of mouth you can see.

For the bird, I figured some blood-hawk/crow thing would work best. Since it's a fictional bird, I decided to make it up on my own. I used Ebony Flesh (shock, right?) and Splattered Crimson to bring out some markings on the wings and head.

The branch is brought up with Ebony Flesh and Linen White to make it look like it's been heavily weathered. The stone is Grey Liner then Ebony Flesh brought up with Desert Stone.

Both figures were pretty quick and easy, and that's 2 more minis painted!

Monday, October 2, 2017

September in Review

Let's start with a reminder that this is Read and RPG Book In Public Week! I'll be reading some DCC adventure modules on the subway all week.

RPG-wise my 5e game continues along. I haven't been writing much about it, but it's a fun, fly by the seat of my pants game. I almost never do any prep, and usually come up with whatever I'm going to do on the walk to the store. As we had one week with half the players missing, I ran Tales from the Floating Vagabond, which was a blast. Definitely gonna pull that out again any time we've got people missing.

Stonehell is getting interesting. I've got a session or two to write up, but at this point it's mostly a running battle with the Hobgoblin army. Still bummed that they took out the demon before it got a chance to do anything. That story has been circulated around Kobold Korners (and therefor throughout the rest of the dungeon) faster than just about any news since... well, maybe since it stopped being a prison.

With less than a month till reapercon, hell, a mere 17 days... I am woefully behind where I want to be. At this point I have the two torch bearing figures both at about 95%. The barbarian and the pregnant lady have their base colors done. Thankfully I have a couple of weekends to go with nothing scheduled but working on the diorama, plus Columbus day.

There's a chance...

I also painted up the great cat from the Animal Companions pack, and have the bird close to done. I've been using them as a was to paint something quick and fun when I can't bare to look at the diorama. I also have the bird, bat, and cat from the familiars pack lined up and ready to go for the same reason. Look for that post later this week.

So the goal for October is simply: FINISH THE DIORAMA!!! (and then enjoy ReaperCon)

I finished 3 books this month.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - Loved it!
The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1) by Selina Siak - Interesting book. Worth checking out, and glad it was on my kindle.
The Death of the Necromancer (Ile-Rien, #2) by Martha Wells - Couldn't tell this was a book #2. Interesting Count of Monte Cristo/Sherlock Holmes blend with magic.

Sunday, October 1, 2017