Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October in Review

My Wednesday night 5e game has continued to be a blast. They’ve been dealing with a town besieged by a small hobgoblin army. It wasn’t big enough to take the town, and the party managed to take out about a third of the town with some magical assistance in the form of the bard’s invisibility spell, and the warlock’s ability to telepathically speak with anyone. They used this to drive a hill giant kinda nuts, and in the confusion dropped some flaming oil from the paladin’s giant bat, and then an assault from the town’s small unit of knights, assisted by the adventurers. Things were looking as the hobgoblins pulled away from the town, but a day or two later, a flight of a dozen wyverns being flown by hobgoblins was spotted. Commandeering the town’s half dozen hippogriff’s and flew to intercept…

It turns out that even split into 2 waves, a dozen wyverns is a nasty thing to toss against 6th level characters. With a bit of luck, and a lot of good use of their abilities, they managed to defeat them all, and in the process took 2 of the wyverns for themselves. They’re now set to explore their magical hat…

Meanwhile in Stonehell, the party is continuing their assault against the hobgoblins, though now they’re mostly exploring empty chambers, as most of them have fled or been killed already.

I also got in a game of Lord of the Rings SBG at ReaperCon. Fun game, though it took a bit to remember the rules, and the guy running the scenario was the dad of the guy who wrote it, and wasn’t as up on the rules as he could have been.

Oh boy… With ReaperCon in the middle of the month I was painting like a mad-man! Only some of it was actually for ReaperCon, while some was to distract me from Halloween. I did not finish my goal of getting the diorama done, and instead switched gears. I ended up painting the King in Yellow, which won a bronze. Also got some good feedback on both my OSL and faces.

In addition to the King in Yellow, I also painted up 2 grave hounds, a bat, cat, and crow familiars, and the the snow leopard and hawk from the Animal Companions set. I’m also in the middle of painting the pumpkin-headed Halloween Knight figure (almost done), Lady Sith (converted from a Bones Paladin), the 4 Paranormal Investigators from Crooked Dice, and a Bones Eye-Beast.

I also completely reorganized my paints after ReaperCon. Sadly they now span 3 full paint cases.

Why is that sad? Mostly it’s just more difficult to get to various paints as I switch colors. Otherwise, it’s awesome! Definitely need to clear out some of my doubles… and triples…

Busy month with a lot of short stories!

The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers - Reading this because I was painting the King in Yellow. Most definitely Cthulhu adjacent, at least some of the stories in this collection. There’s also a war story and a couple of romance type stories which… don’t actually seem to fit in with the horror/ghost tales centered around, or at least mentioning the King in Yellow. It made reading them a somewhat disjointed experience. This collection would probably not have been published today given that.

Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman – You know when Gaiman puts together a collection of stories about unnatural creatures written by some very interesting authors, you’re going to get a weird collection of stories. Ranging from traditional fantasy to science-fiction, with a smattering of contemporary fantastic fiction, it’s an odd but enjoyable collection. Bit of a mixed bag, but enjoyable.

Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe – Coming of age story that I would have loved when I was 10-12.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Not sure I’d ever read the original, so I did. Fun ghost story, and well worth having taken the time to read it.

Terribly Twisted Tales edited by Jean Rabe & Martin H. Greenberg – As with most short story collections, this one is a mixed bag. I enjoyed most of the twists on classic tales, but some were done better than others. I think the snow white story was my favorite.

Currently Reading: The Valley of the Ten Crescents series (books 1-3) Another one of those random things on my Kindle.

Goals for November:
Finish off the minis listed above
Put together a small “Paint at work during lunch” kit. Then actually paint during lunch!
Practice things learned at ReaperCon
Read Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago

Saturday, October 28, 2017

ReaperCon SWAG!

As usual, the VIP package for ReaperCon was way worth the cost. Aside from the dinners (which were okay to good) you walked away with a whole bunch of minis and paint.

4 faction minis, 2 Mouselings, 1 Sophie, Con Crud the zombie, resin werewolf and scarecrow minis, 6 paints, a blister pack of extra bases, and 1 resin dragon bust. And if you visited each of the vendors, you got a free All Hallow's Eve mini. And that's just from Reaper!! Oh, and the paint cup!

PaintRack also gave out paint cups. Darksword tossed in an elven archer, badger tossed in an airbrush primer, Happy Seppuku gave a free base texture stamp, Frontline games gave a small tub of flock, and Mage Case gave everyone a free figure case...

On top of that, I got a few minis from the melt table, including the 2014 convention special figure and a pumpkin headed bugbear bottlecap!

A friend who won boxes of Bones minis tossed a bunch on a tray, and I snagged a few. Also got several of the Xmas holiday minis, and an Urban Legends Sophie from the factory shelves. I'll need to get her wings next year.

From the non-Reaper vendors I snagged a couple more base stamps (temple courtyard and splintered wood). From FreebladesI got a cool dryad and snake charmer sorceress. And from Bombshell minis I snagged 2 small familiars and a one eyed tiger space pirate.

And of course there was the auction where I won 3 more of the mage cases!

Friday, October 27, 2017

ReaperCon Wrap-up

My second ReaperCon has come to an end. The bags are unpacked. The pictures uploaded. The swag put away.

While it's only my second ReaperCon, that feeling of coming to a family reunion full of people you actually like and have things in common with only felt stronger than it did last year. Even more so, since I've been spending a lot of time hanging out and painting with a bunch of them on Google Hangouts.

Wednesday was flying in, and attending the meet and greet at the convention center, followed by staying up way too late at the firepit!

Thursday and Friday I ended up spending most of the time painting, desperately trying to finish my entry. I did, though only with a half an hour till the entry deadline...

Buglips getting his first taste of Taco Bell!

Saturday I took Fluid Filled Objects as my class for the day. It was a great class, and I'll be practicing the technique going forward. It's interesting how I don't think I learned something new exactly, just learned a new way to look at painting and a way to tweak techniques I already know. Or at least know in theory... Definitely need practice though.

I also played some Lord of the Rings SBG. The guy running it had set up a Laketown scenario with the 13 dwarves defending the townsfolk from an attacking Kraken. The things you come up with when you have a cool mini and no other use for it... I also spent a fair amount of time enjoying the small arcade that had been set up. The Ghostbusters pinball machine was particularly challenging and a lot of fun.

Saturday night the results of the painting contest were announced. Rather than judge the dragonborn sorceress, they went with the King in Yellow that I'd only just finished painting. I got Bronze again, but from what the judges said I'm getting closer to a silver. Kuro Cleanbrush said that if I can get the rest of the mini up to the level of the robe, I'll be good! Goals for next year.. I'll admit, I was a little bummed, but super happy for my friends who did amazing work.

Sunday I took Red & Yellow Leather and Monster Skin tones. Because Sunday is a shorter day, the afternoon classes start earlier than they do the other days, so I showed up late to the leather class, much to my shame. There were only 2 other students, so the teacher was able to give me the condensed version without taking away from the others. I haven't painted with sponges or stippling on a mini ever, so I got to practice 2 new techniques, which both gave good results for distressed leather. Monster skin tones was interesting, and was the class I took the most notes in. It's also the one that I'm going to have to digest the most. Of the 3 classes, this was the most advanced. The other 2 were very much "here's how to achieve this one effect" while Monster Skin was much more theory based with examples showing a whole lot of different things.

One class I didn't attend this year was the Bones Conversion class. However Reaper Bryan (who taught at least one session of it this year) dropped this former paladin, now sith lady at my table, and I managed to get a bit of paint on it before we wrapped up.

After the classes wrapped they held the auction. Unlike other auctions, you could only use funny money at this one, specifically Reaper Bucks which are earned by attending various events throughout the Con. I managed to snag some modular mini display/transport cases, and I got to snag 1/4 of a set of faction pint glasses that a friend won. Sadly my faction, The Bonehenge Covenant lost this year, and won't be returning next year, which means this was the last time I'd be able to get a glass with their symbol.

After the auction it was back to the hotel, and then to the steak place for one last group meal. We thought ahead this time and made a reservation for 30 instead of just showing up en masse and waiting for an entire section to clear out. We should have made the reservation for 40...

And then it was time to go home. I managed to hitch a ride to the airport once again with Matbar as she was heading home, giving me a few extra minutes of ReaperFamily time until next year.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The King In Yellow

You know when a great time to start on a painters entry for ReaperCon? The Friday before, giving you less than 7 days to actually work on it....

Last year Reaper released 4 faction minis for their Dreadmere campaign at ReaperCon. The Cthon faction (Cthulhu-esk weirdos) miniature was the Disciple of Cthon, aka the Crimson Herald. However, when I first saw it, my immediate thought was "The King In Yellow."

Cleaning up the mini was pretty easy. There weren't a lot of mold lines to deal with, however on the top of the staff and the worm coming out of it there was a bit of mold slippage that was just more than files could take care of. I cleaned it up as best I could, but short of trying to carve out the issues and greenstuff it back into shape, I'd just have to hide it.

After priming with Reaper's brush on primer, I went at the robes, starting with Pumpkin Orange, and moving up through Hearth Fire, Lantern Yellow, Candlelight Yellow, Canary Yellow, and then up to Bone and Linen White. Somewhere in the process, probably around the time I'd worked up to Lantern Yellow it also got a wash of sepia.

The tentacles and arms were primarily a blend of Dragon Green, Nightsky Indigo, and Vampiric Shadow messily mixed in a variety of ways. A wet pallet would have been really useful for this...

The mask, skulls, blades, and pages of the book were all based on Dirty Bone, brought up to linen white. The gem (eye?) and the book cover were based with Crimson Splatter. The details on the book cover were done with Dragon Gold, as was the dot on the gem.

The top of the staff started as a fairly normal looking eyeball, but it wasn't working. It was neither convincing as an eye, or effective at hiding the mold line that ran right across it, so I repainted it with green where the white of the eye would be, and a yellow iris.

At just under 24 hours from when the figure needed to be turned in, this is what it looked like:

Pretty nice... Not amazing, but really solid work. I talked to a couple of the artists, and Kuro Cleanbrush strongly suggested the base needed more. I knew that throwing down some flock, or sand wouldn't cut it, but there wasn't a whole lot of time or space on the base to do a whole scenic thing... so Kuro suggested I sculpt some more tentacles to completely cover the base.

So I did.

I then left it alone overnight to cure. The next morning I got right to it. By the afternoon I was ready to glue the arm on. Then I tried to remove the figure from the cork... and apparently I'd used too much glue, and couldn't get it. With minutes counting down, I pulled out my hobby saw, and cut it off. Unfortunately in the process I bumped the arm off. Trying desperately not to panic, I glued it back on, touched up a bit of paint, including giving some of the shadows on the arm a glaze of pumpkin orange to bring down the shadows (they didn't quite match the rest of the robe).

After all of that, I finally got it turned in with 30 minutes till the deadline.

I once again earned a solid bronze. One of my judges said that he wanted to go silver, but the rest of the figure just didn't quite make it up to the level of the robes. So, better than last year, at least in review, if not in actual score.

Major thanks go to Ian (Kuro Cleanbrush), Matbar, Klarg1, and Tish for all their help in getting my King in Yellow as good as it is, whether from their technical suggestions and critiques, to providing a drop of paint or glue, to their general enthusiastic support.

Even bigger thanks to my bride for her understanding as ReaperCon approached and I got a little crazy getting ready.

Current Music: Sucker Punch soundtrack

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DCC Reviews

So after a bunch of reviews, you might be wondering why am I suddenly focused on reviewing DCC adventures? Especially since I'm running 5e and RC edition D&D, and haven't mentioned running any DCC...

In large part it's because I enjoy reading adventure modules. Even with 2 regular games, there's always more I want to run. Getting to read the adventures at least gives me a flavor for what might happen if I ran it. Interestingly, having 2 different groups that I'm running means that while reading it, there are 2 different ways I can easily see those groups tacking them.

I also like to mine the adventures for ideas. I'm not going to specifically point out which ideas I've stolen, or plan on stealing, since some of my players read my blog!

There's also the fact that I *have* the adventures on my shelf, and since my shelf is a bit thin since moving, I'm trying to give what's on the shelf some attention. Part of the same reason I pulled out Tales from the Floating Vagabond.

Looking through my shelf, these are the adventures that I've still to review:
Masks of Lankhmar
Through Ningauble's Cave
Chaos Rising
The One Who Watches from Below
Emirikol Was Framed
The 13th Skull
Sailors on the Starless Sea
DCC Free RPG Module 2012
DCC Free RPG Module 2014
DCC Free RPG Module 2016 (I have no idea where 13 or 15 are...)

Hope you're enjoying them!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

DCC and the Problem of the Purple Prose

While I've generally heaped praise upon the DCC adventures, I do have some issues with them as a whole. Copy editing and layout aren't their strong suit. Also the language tends to be about as purple as the fiction that DCC seeks to emulate. While both a feature and a bug, it tends to suck up some space in the adventure that could otherwise be used for more game-able material.

My biggest complaint however is that information isn't always clearly provided in a clear user-friendly way, and they're written such that I wouldn't want to run any of them without having read the entire adventure cover to cover at least 3 times. Once to get a general idea of the adventure itself, once to make sure I understood everything, and once following the maps, rather than the room descriptions, since the map numbers don't always flow with the way adventurers seem most likely to encounter the adventure. Hell, even just reading them for review, I read them each at least 3 times.

While each adventure generally includes a small key showing what encounter is in each room, I want something a little more than that, but less than the paragraphs each room generally gets. Here's an example from The Croaking Fane. The encounter key is above, and this is what's in the actual adventure. Mind you, this whole page is just rooms 2-9 and 2-10.

And here's what I'd like to see, ideally tucked in with the maps, since I have to spend so much time flipping back and forth the way it's set up now.

Area 2-9 - Infectious Instructional. Prayer Room
Spear Trap in doorway. +3 melee, 1d6 dmg. DC10 find/disable traps or DC12 Int. Check
Cursed Silver Tablet - DC15 Will Save or Schaphigroadaz Spoilation. 150gp value
Area 2-10 - Toad Cavern with pond with island
Locked Bronze Doors: Key from 2-2, DC 10 Open Lock, DC17 Str Check
Corroded Iron Gate: 25hp
Giant Toads (30) attack in waves of 1d10 every 2 rounds
40pp Treasure
Loud croaking, humid, incomprehensible voice from 2-11

Then again, I've gotten very used to the Stonehell style dungeon key where 30+ rooms, the map, special notes, and area description are all given a mere 4 pages total. 2 for background and detailed notes, and 2 for the room descriptions and map. I guess while I enjoy the purple prose, it isn't super useful to me when actually trying to run/prep for a session.

As this is a recurring issue I have with all DCC modules, I wanted to give it a detailed focus once, rather than repeat it each review.