Thursday, October 18, 2018

Undead of October part 3

I still need to put the Bone Fiend onto a new base, but I got all the metal base coated. It was a simple process, basically just Scorched Metal on everything, followed by an Armor Wash, then dry brushed with aged pewter.

It’s an effective look, and with a bit of highlighting should be great for my needs. I’m debating what to do with the shields. Flaking paint? THankfully there are only a couple I need to worry about.

I did basically the same thing for the mummies, skipping the pewter. I then went to the internet and spent a while looking up how people had painted them, because I was really at a loss. The Egyptian aesthetic isn’t one that’s managed to lodge into my head.

I’m not sure how much that helped. We’ll see the next time I sit down. Also still need to rebase the Bone Fiend.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stonehell: Traps and Ogrevation

Session 80 was played on 10/6

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Mulligan, Borik, Verman)
- linkman (Dungforth)
- Ghost (dog)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Maax, Dar)
- linkman (Gilcox)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris)
- Grishnaz, Goblin
- Elwyn, Lady at Arms
- Caldwell the gravedigger/linkman
Kili, Dwarf Cleric 3 (Matt)

The mostly boring hanging out in the elevator machinery rooms was loudly interrupted by the ringing of a loud bell from deep inside the machinery. At first the reaction was simply shock, and then annoyance as it kept ringing. After listening to the bell, and beginning to worry about what attention it might get, Eiric had Karl reinstall the missing gear, and almost instantly the bell ceased, and the machinery started to rumble. The elevator room dropped out of sight, and about 10 minutes later stopped briefly, and then the machinery rumbled back to life.

Eiric was standing ready to blast the room with a fireball the instant an enemy was in sight, with everyone else in the doorways, ready to rush in after the spellfire. Luckily it was Orpheus and Koltic who emerged. They spread out the various supplies, and introduced the new hirelings to the rest of the party.

After another day waiting for the time to meet with the vampire lord of Stonehell, the party was restless, and decided to explore the area around the meeting cave, especially since they’d never been there before. While they had a map, no one currently in the party had explored this section.

In the cave of quartz, they collected several stones to bring to Rocky. Deeper on they encountered a half dozen ogres in a cave. They didn’t immediately attack, and neither did the party. The ogers motioned that they were wanting to go in the direction of the party, and the party wanted to pass the ogres. The ogres shifted to the northern side of the room, while the party moved to the south.

It was a trap!

The ceiling rumbled and collapsed down onto the party!! Ghost, Vermin, Elwyn, Caldwell, Max, and Golcox are all instantly buried under a ton of rock, while Lex, Koltic, and Grishnaz are injured by the rockfall. Then the ogres charged! The battle was bloody, mostly for the ogres. Even Eiric got into it, swinging her snake staff, and getting it to wrap (only somewhat effectively) around the neck of an ogre. The assorted coins and goods didn’t seem worth the death toll.

Collecting the bodies they could, the party returned to the meeting room to rest.

Gains: 600gp
Kills: 6 ogres, 1 mummy warden
Losses: Ghost, Vermin, Elwyn, Caldwell, Max, and Golcox

Friday, October 12, 2018

Undead in October part 2

The wonderful thing about skeletal undead (and mummies) is that they look so good even with just a drybrush of Dirty Bone!

I used... I don't remember which brown on the weapon shafts.

The demi-lich got Nightmare Black and Pine Green on the smoke. I lightened the green with Linen White. Debating whether to paint the bones up, or hide them...

I also used the green on the archer's cloaks, and the black on the robes of Death and the Lich-Lord (way in the back).

More to come!!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

5e: In the Eye of the Alfather

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, Battle Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

The Great Digger has been more obvious in her signals. Perhaps it is that we are in a holy place? Or it could be that she wants to make sure we stay focused on our mission. Whatever the reason, she quite literally lead the way…

Leaving the magical gate, we decided to explore the rest of the temple complex. One wing turned out to be cells for those giants who were just visiting the temple for a spell, or possibly monks who used to take care of the complex. There were two notable features of the hall, the first being a large crack in the wall of one of the cells, the other being the rounded shape of the floor, like a gutter. The magical statue at the end of the slightly sloped hall was another clue.

Before heading into the crevice ourselves, Bran used his bag of tricks to summon a creature to send into the hole. And this, dear family, is where the Great Digger made herself very clear, as the summoned creature was a giant badger! With Bran’s crow perched on it’s back, they went in. Bran reported that there were 2 main chambers, one was creepy, and the badger didn’t want to go there, the other was full of icy webs, and had several cocooned things. Thorin and Bran were pretty sure it was mountain goats, but Joda and I felt that this was important.

Heading in, we had to move slowly because of the icy uneven ground, and we soon found ourselves fighting ice spiders in the cramped confines of the tunnel. Their web attack was chilling, but we snapped out of it, and squashed the spiders. Following the tunnels to where Bran saw the cocoons, we hacked our way through the webbing and found an old corpse of a dwarven prospector, a mountain goat, and a seer of the Wyrmblood tribe. The seer was the only one of the three still alive. She told of a vision that brought her to the Eye: a blue dragon, a wyrmskull throne, and a scepter…

I said final rights for the prospector, and then piled rocks over his corpse to send him to his rest.

Deeper into the tunnels we came to the creepy chamber, and spied a mound of eggs topped by a bloated spider. She was so focused on turning her eggs, she didn’t notice us until we were on her, and because of our surprise and the intensity of our attack, she was blasted off the pile of eggs, her body crushed! But the eggs… They ALL hatched! There was much flailing and stomping, but the swarm of baby spiders were… well if not all killed, enough so that it will be years before they’re a real threat again.

Among the debris and crushed bits of spiders we came across a fancy hammer, which I haven’t had the chance to spend any time with, but I suspect it’s magical.

Back in the hall, we continued to explore the different cells, and triggered a giant boulder trap! Seeing the massive rock coming toward us, I told everyone to run for Harshnag, and as I reached him I completed the enchantment of flight on him. We were clinging on for dear life, while he hovered up and over the boulder! And then the magic statue at the end of the hall pushed the boulder back, resetting the trap, and opening the doors to the cells which had magically sealed.

In the upper section of cells, the back half had collapsed, but we discovered a satchel containing a magical ice shard!

Going back to the main room, we opened the far doors, and in a chamber that the word massive is inadequate to describe, a trio of remorhaz were basking by a (magical) fire pit. The door opening was enough to get their attention, and they charged toward us. Joda got her flame on, while Thorin hacked away at them. Aramel turned one into a goat, but that didn’t do anything to change it’s mood. I called on my lightning magics, and aside from the splatter of their fiery blood (which really did burn) we slaughtered the oversized vermin.

Monday, October 8, 2018


In addition to the walls and crypt I painted, I also painted up the gravestones from the Bones 3 Graveyard set. These were fairly simply done, starting with Grey Liner, mixing in some Stone Grey and a drop of Jade Green to give them a bit of color, and Linen White to lighten it even more.

Because they’re so wobbly I decided to base them so that they wouldn’t immediately tip over. I was thinking of basing them in sets, or a mix of individually and in sets, but ultimately decided that they looked better individually based. Basing was simple, just a bit of flock stuck on with wood glue. The flock itself is a mix of Woodland Scenics Earth Blend turf plus a little used dried coffee grounds. Usually I use the coffee grounds for rocky texture, but some got mixed in and I didn’t want to bother dumping the batch.

The two tombs were painted the same way, but given Bronze accents.

While they’re really simple, they’re tracked on my spreadsheet, and so count toward my total.

Total number of minis painted: 49

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Stonehell: Getting Lost

Session 79 was played on 9/23

Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)

Koltic awoke bleary eyed an unfamiliar doorway. Darryl’s boot was unforgivingly harsh, and his voice piercingly loud. “The goddess’s blessing is also a curse you bloody fool! WAKE UP!”

A short time later, over a bowl of porridge and a pint of small beer. Darryl filled Koltic in on what had happened. “And to make matters worse, that damned stick-in-the-mud seven-pointed-dwarf cleric Kili is back from his retreat… and Eiric seems to trust him more than she trusts me. Me! Who was there when the heartless repeatedly threatened? Was it Kili? Nooo… It was me. ME!” Darryl slammed his mug down on the table. Here’s what you’re going to do. I can’t stand the runty holier-than-thou number-worshiper, but I want you to keep an I on him. Go back into the dungeon with Orpheus. He’s shopping right now for more supplies. They’re planning on spending the week in there, gods preserve them… Find him, and get down there! Prove that a number is no real god!”

Koltic took this overly-loud lecture to heart, and decided that he needed to do some shopping himself. He stopped by the orphanage, taking inventory of his goods, and collected the goblin Grishnaz, who had been taking in by the orphans as a playmate, much to the nuns’ distaste.

“Be sure to tell the Lady Eiric that we’re looking forward to seeing her take up residence in her new estate… With her entire entourage.” The mother superior’s smile was… disconcerting.

The first thing Koltic needed was a few meatshields. The tracker Elwyn signed on as a woman at arms, and Caldwell the gravedigger signed on as a torchbearer. A few extra bits of armor and equipment are purchased. Finding Orpheus (who is quick to offload some of the supplies to the hired hands), they head to the dungeon. On the way, they discuss their lives, and Orpheus tells Koltic about the job offer, and how he’s thinking about retiring after the business with KaNefar is finished. Koltic shares his life's motto “All major decisions require a night of heavy drinking before being decided. And one after.”

Awaiting them at the bottom of the stairs was Esmalia. “Eiric sent me to tell you they had to move from the elevator, and that you can meet them down in the robing room before the maze down on the third level.” She doesn’t know why they moved, and doesn’t seem to care.

Grishnaz wants to go visit his clan, but Orpheus wants to get back to Eiric. He gives in since the caves are just right there. The goblins excitedly swarm the party, expressing how impressed they are with Grishnaz’ new armor. Pressing them deep into the caves to the watery chamber of Zunbar, the old troll grabs Koltic and draws him near. “We will all perish under the Black Sun if you don’t fix this.” The monster’s black eyes look deep into Koltic’s eyes holding the look for an uncomfortable time before releasing him. Orpheus sighs deeply, relaxing his grip on the hilt of his sword. The goblins wave them out of the caves and send the party on their way.

Down and around they go passing by the well known landmarks, down into the Asylum. Avoiding the corner of left shoes, Orpheus forgets the spear trap, and again breaks it after triggering it. His cry of pain startled… a group of something, which ran away before the party could catch sight of it.

Taking the stairs down to the Dorm, Orpheus looks around at the hallway… and can’t remember how to get to the maze from here. Picking a direction they come to the Oliphant room, and Orpheus warns Koltic about it. Taking hallways at random, Koltic manages to trigger a dart trap which hits both him and Grishnaz. Then pass through an unnaturally cold spot that sends shivers down everyone’s back. Orpheus remembers that, but still can’t figure out how to get to the robing room.

Passing by the boulder that blocks the wererat den, they continue on reaching a section of hallway that gets warmer and more humid, smelling of earthy rot and flowers. Spying the weirdly lit hall, Orpheus is pretty sure this isn’t the way, so they backtrack, and take the next passage. It opens into a hexagonal room where half a dozen gnolls are bundling large leaves and other plants. They bark at the party, and 2 grab bows and open fire, hitting Orpheus in the shoulder (a crit!). 2 grab their axes and charge. Koltic and Grishnaz injure one, while Orpheus chops his in half, sending the torso tumbling toward her mates. The 2 that weren’t engaged charge in, and one cracks Orpheus’ armor with his blade (Another critical!) and then slams the flat of the ax into his helmet (THIRD critical hit!) Koltic calls for a retreat!

Running, they round the corner back toward the weirdly lit plant corridor. Koltic heals Orpheus’ wounds (a little), and they continue down the hall onto the spongy loam, coming quickly to an intersection choked with plant life. To one side was a pile of broken wood and some chain half covered in plantlife, and to the other stairs going down into the dark. Wanting to be away from the gnolls, they head down…

At the bottom of the stairs they hear several large things coming toward them. Giant beetles being ridden by kobolds! They’re snarky about “cowardly sniveling Sniv” and fairly insulting to the party. They push past, heading back up to level 3. Taking a peek at the cavern at the bottom of the stairs, they remember that they’re supposed to meet the party on level 3. They head back up. Back at the boulder, they take the side passage, pick a hall at random, and end up in another set of rooms that Orpheus doesn’t recognize. Backtracking again, they find themselves at an intersection near the elevator. The button to summon the elevator is lit! With a shrug, Koltic presses it. Rather than the rumble of the machinery, there’s a distant bell that rings.

Kills: 2 Gnolls

Friday, October 5, 2018

Graveyard part 2

Back in August I took an evening and did a little more work on my graveyard fences and the crypt. Due to the awful texturing I encountered with the spray paint, I decided that I wasn't going to worry about the interior of the crypt, and decided to focus my attention on the more important exterior.

I liked the plaques on the outside, and decided they should be the same bronze as the roof. I also added bronze accents to the gates and fences.

And this was how it all looked in the middle of August. Early in September I decided to finish it up, finally...

I assembled the crypt, cleaning up a few details that needed it.

I also added a bronze sword to the central panel.

And here it all is!

Total Minis for 2018: 64 (Fence Gate (x2), Fence Ruin A (x3), Fence Ruin B (x3), Short Fence (x5), Fence Post (x12), Long Fence (x6), Obsidian Crypt)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Undead of October

The painting theme of the month has been chosen! The Undead of October will emerge from their (freshly painted) graves The miniatures have been selected… Here’s what's on the painting table:

9 Bones Skeletons (from Bones 2)
6 Undying (Death, minotaur, lizardman, elf, halfling, & dwarf skeletons from Bones 3)
Bone Fiend (Bones 2)
4 mummies (Bones 2)
Hecklemeyer & Styx (25th Anniversary mini)
Dust King & Tomb (Bones 3)
Demi-Lich (Bones 2)
3 Nefsokar mummies (Bones 1)

26 (or 28 if you count the broken tomb and the tiny puppet) minis, in 31 days? Less if you count the vacation in the middle of the month… Plus one day since I started on the last day of September. Granted, the skeletons should all go really quickly, but even still, it’ll be a push to get it done, but this would push me over 100 minis for 2018…

Since everything is already lined with brown liner, the plan is:
Dirty Bone on all the bone and mummy wrapping!
Scorched Metal all the armor and weapons
Heavy Sepia Wash pretty much everything

Special Minis:
Demi-Lich - Thinking green/purple flames?
Hecklemeyer - Black & White costume? Black, White, & Red?
Nefsokar mummies - Lots of gold and bronze.
Dust King - Seriously tempted to paint it up like the ice lich from Warcraft…

As for their bases? That’s a little more work. The skeletons, bone fiend, and maybe the dust king will get bases to match the flocking on the tombstones. The demi-lich and hecklemeyer will probably get some sort of sculpted flagstone base. The mummies? Haven’t decided. Seriously tempted to give them dungeon flagstone bases too…

Okay, so it’s really unlikely I’ll finish all of these in October, but maybe by November?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

5e: Mote in the Eye of Alfather

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, Battle Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

The path to the Eye of the Alfather continued up the mountain, its scale and the thin air making distances harder to determine. The cavern walls fell away step by step until only open air flanked the icy path. The light of the sun sparkled off the crystals of ice suspended in the breeze. Ahead, the flickering of firelight emanated from behind the pillars of the temple.

Hilde went forward after Bran told her they looked like barbarians. There were 2, and a small white dragon. When Hilde approached, the dragon went into the temple, and the barbarians called for her to halt. They yelled back and forth for a while, basically telling us to go away. Thorin and I got tired of waiting, so I pulled out a scroll, and started yelling about how long we’ve traveled trying to find this place, and that we weren’t just going to wander away. Pointing at the scroll, I walked forward, Thorin at my side, repeating that we’d come a long way, and weren’t leaving without seeing the oracle. Eventually they decided to check with their chief, Wyrmblood.

Getting the okay, we all slowly made our way forward, but it was a trap. Once Bran, Hilde, and Aramel were in the tunnel, 2 massive stone blocks dropped down, sealing them in with one barbarian, and locking Thorin, Harshnag, and I out with one barbarian. They had better luck with theirs, and talked him into being peaceful, while ours made a more fatal choice. He hit Thorin hard a couple of times, and then Thorin hit back harder.

Meanwhile Harshnag had managed to deadlift the first block a few feet off the ground, and Thorin and I scampered under. We saw one barbarian watching another attacking the dragon with Hilde, while Aramel was strumming away, and deeper in the passage a shaman was casting a spell. I got the barbarian with his back to me, the dragon, and the shaman in a line, and let loose a Lightning Bolt! Thorin charged the dragon, but Hilde chopped it down before he reached it. I then used the wand of Magic Missiles to finish off the shaman.

The chief, Wyrmblood looked very worried, more so as Aramel mocked the last standing barbarian to death. Who says words don’t hurt? Thorin charges Wyrmblood, but Hilde gets there first, cutting through his defenses like they weren’t there. I shot him with a ray of frost, and Aramel mocked him. All that combined meant that Thorin, again, didn’t even get the chance to land a blow.

Bran found the switches that controlled the trap, and eventually got the block up, allowing Harshnag in. Up a massive set of stairs, and through a rhine covered door, we entered into a chamber of cyclopean dimensions, with statues of the 7 gods of giants, the 6 representing the major types of giants kneeling around the central Alfather giant. The Alfather faced a magical portal, with 6 runes inscribed on it. Above the portal read:

“Children Mine, Enter In Order, If You Wish To Cross This Border, Start With Low And End With High, Start With Hills And End With Sky”

Harshnag assures us that it sounds better in the original Giant. Interesting that the translation happens to rhyme a little…

We recognized a few of the runes, but decided that we’d explore some of the side chambers before tackling the gate.

Monday, October 1, 2018

September in Review

This was a busy and eventful month! Good news is that I passed the courses I was taking, and can now move on to studying for the CPA again. On top of that I got to spend time with family, see an old friend, saw a great broadway show, and played some D&D.

Onto the update!


Still no miniature gaming, but Stonehell and Storm King’s Thunder are both a lot of fun in their own ways. It’s interesting being a player, and getting to see my DM in action. It’s even better that she is working to improve her game, and we’ve had some really good discussions about DMing.

Stonehell got interesting, as the party ended up split, and one group is lost, hurt, and doesn’t know how to find the other group, while the main group doesn’t even know they’re missing yet! It’s glorious!!

I also ran D&D for my nieces and nephews again. They burned down a goblin fortress! Gonna have to add some more debate to the games I think.

Because of my classes, there wasn’t a lot of quality painting going on, but I did finish the crypt and fences, as well as managing to knock out a dozen tombstones & grave markers. They’re even based! (post on those later this week). I also speed painted a trio of giants. They aren’t done, but are table ready. I also poked a bit at my Dancing Girl/Genie, and at this point I think I’m going to have to wrap her up. I’m not sure how to improve her without seriously risking ruining what I’ve done. It might be time to take my lessons learned and move on.

The Armored Saint Book 2 SO GOOD!

Movies/TV Watched
Crazy Rich Asians - Fun RomCom, great ensemble of actors.
Porko Rosso
Pom Poko - sweet, depressing…
Whisper of the Heart - I really enjoy the slice of live movies from Miyazaki.
Iron Fist Season 2 (episodes 1-4)
Supernatural - finished Season 10, started 11

The Band’s Visit - incredibly sweet and touching

Finish the Dancing Girl/Genie
Paint some undead (skeletons, zombies. and mummies)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Giants in a Hurry

Yet again I find myself painting minis that were very low on my to-do list, but when your DM hands you a giant and asks if you can slap some paint on it…

So when she handed me the Frost Giant King I figured that this was as good a chance as any to slap some paint on the storm giant from Bones 1 and the Fire Giant from Bones 3. I started by washing all three in warm soapy water, and giving them a good scrub with a toothbrush. After letting them dry I primed them with Reaper’s Liners. Red for the fire giant, blue for the storm giant, and grey for the frost giant. This was my first time using Red Liner, and sadly I found it to be even more troublesome than Sepia Liner. Not only did it not stick as well as the Brown/Grey/Blue liners, it also smells really bad. Once I realized the issues I was having with the red liner, I reprimed with Grey Liner.

I also glued the Storm Giant to a base, because he kept falling over.

There aren’t very many pictures because I was focusing on getting them painted well enough for game on Wednesday, and I only had Monday and Tuesday evening to sit down and paint.

First up was Monday’s progress. I didn’t track all the colors I used, but the storm giant’s skin is based on Void Blue, and I used Imperial Purple for the cloth wrapped around his waist. I used the same blue to base coat the frost giant’s cloak, and the purple for the fire giant’s gauntlets and belt fringe and the frost giant’s undershirt. I then mixed up some brown (mixed because I didn’t like the color I initially picked) to paint the inner leather of the frost giant’s cloak, as well as the leather straps on the storm giant. I don’t remember what red I used for the fire giant’s beard. I used copper for the storm giant’s armor, and washed it all with Secret Weapons’ Armor Wash.

This was about 2 hours of effort.

On Tuesday I focused a lot of attention on the Fire Giant Jailer since he was so far behind as compared to the other giants. Originally I was thinking of painting him with red skin and an ashen beard, but decided to swap that around after looking at the art for fire giants from D&D. I used Coal Black, Stone Grey, and Linen White to paint the skin, and I also decided to try out using lots of little lines all over the muscles to indicate just how textured the muscle is under the skin. The eye patch was painted with copper and highlighted with Dragon Gold. The beard was brightened with Hearth Glow and Candle Yellow (?), and I used the same colors for the pimples on his back. The chain whip and other metal bits were painted with Scorched Metal. It isn’t quite as nice a color as GW’s old Tin Bitz, but it gets the job done. I then splashed clear coat all over it, because the under layer of Red Liner still wasn’t doing its job.

Maybe if I mix clear coat with the red liner?

As the Storm Giant was mostly done, the only thing I worked on was cleaning up a little around the face, and painting the blade. I used Shadowed Steel and Honed Blade for it, and then used the same colors over on the Frost Giant.

The frost giant king was a bit more work than I really wanted. Part of it is that the sculpt is a little soft. Details aren’t as crisp… Honestly it made me glad I didn’t bother getting any of them in the kickstarter. I decided to paint all the armor blue before painting the metallics over it. I used the same Shadowed Steel and Honed Blade for most of the armor, and the Copper and Gold for the trim. I also gave the beard a bit of a wash with the thinned down light purple I’d glazed the fabric with. I then stuck the horns in, and gave them a coat of Brown Liner. The helm decorative piece was lost at some point, and I’ll eventually stick something there to cover the hole. Probably will just fill it with some green stuff.

While none of them are *done* they’re table ready for game, and decent enough for 5 hours of total effort. Next time I’m gonna speed paint things like this, I really should try to pick things that are more alike than just “giants”.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

5e: Within sight of the Eye of the Alfather!

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, Battle Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

Having set the Bright Banner Brandished party to rest, and breaking the curse on their families, we were again back in Mirabar, though not for long. We collected our supplies, did a bit of shopping, and then went to see if there was any giant news. We found a decent ale house (The Yeti’s Teat), and after returning some of the treasure we’d acquired to the local economy, learned that some fire giants were near, looking for something, and a solitary frost giant was in the area.

There was… an incident. Sadly witnessed by several bards… involving Thorin. It may be worth revisiting the arranged marriage tradition in his case. He is a fighter, not a lover.

We set off the first thing in the morning.

The chill has gotten worse, and while it’s only harvest time at home, here it feels like deep winter. Heading in the direction the frost giant was last seen travelling, we soon found his trail, and then the giant himself. Wearing the dragon skull helm we’d been told of confirmed that this was Harshnag! We landed, and introduced ourselves, then called Holla Hilda. She confirmed who we are, and then Harshnag told us he was on his way to the Eye of the Alfather. He also told us the fire giants were trying to assemble a rod that will help them collect various obsidian artifacts in an attempt to take over the giant hierarchy.

Not good news.

Flying over Harshnag, we traveled up into the mountains until we reached the mouth of a shallow ravine… The air had thinned and chilled even more, so we landed and walked, giving our mounts a rest. Not too far into the ravine we were set upon by some wild cats. Only notable for the fact that Joda, normally so sure footed and dexterous slipped on some ice and landed very hard on her ass, and cracked her head.

About an hour or so later, when the ravine had become a canyon, the walls having climbed to over 30’, we were ambushed by some incredibly sneaky ice goblins and a pair of sand gargoyles. Blinding Joda in their initial assault, we laid into them. Unlike the fight with the cats, Harshnag got into the swing of things. His great height and reach were helpful. I was cold and tired by this point, so I flew up and lightning bolted as many of them as I could. The dying gargoyle creepily croaked out “I’ll be seeing you soon!”

A short march later we’d arrived at the pillared entrance of the Eye of the Alfather!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Stonehell: Beginning of a LONG week...

Session 78 was played on 9/16

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Mulligan, Borik, Verman)
- linkman (Dungforth)
- Ghost (dog)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Maax, Dar)
- linkman (Gilcox)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris) - Stayed in town
Kili, Dwarf Cleric 3 (Matt)

Kili the dwarven cleric returns from his year plus long stint at the Temple of the 7 Corners ready to see what’s happened in the dungeon. On the flip side, Koltic remains in town to worship at the Porcelain Shrine.

Eiric hires Dungforth the torch bearer, and Mulligan and Borik, men at arms.

Karl hires Scotty the Engineer to come into the dungeon to fix the elevator.

The party makes its way safely down to the Asylum, but are once again faced with an encounter at Shoe Corner. 6 Heartless were stumbling along, the blue flames licking at their desiccated rib cages. The supernatural horror of it caused more than the usual terror, and Orpheus, A-A-Ron, Vermin, Borik, Mulligan, and Gilcox all ran in terror. Brie’s morale broke, and she ran after them! Darryl held up his holy symbol, and turned one of the monsters. Lex, Karl, and Kili charged in cutting down 3, while Darryl managed to turn 2 more.

Hoping that Orpheus and Brie would keep everyone together, Karl takes advantage of Scotty’s presence, and has him construct a tripwire trap. Once done, they head off to the elevator, and Scotty gets to work. Orpheus and Co. make their way back to the elevator safely, having only seen some goblins along the way. The hours pass by slowly, and Eiric decides to go visit Rocky, taking A-A-Ron, Kili, and Orpheus with her.

Rocky is thrilled to see them, and after chatting for a bit Eiric gets to her questions… with the help of Kili’s legal training.

1. What do stone elephants fear?

Where wizards once broke the natural laws, you will find the Elephant’s Terror.

2. How exactly, and using what accounts and magic, can this group of adventurers defeat Ka-Nefer while sustaining the LEAST damage possible?

Death rests uneasy. You’ve woken that which cannot sleep. Find the heart, and stab it.

3. In reference to waking that which cannot sleep, how do we find the heart in the riddle to stab it; more specifically what are the exact directions and measurements to get to the heart?

Where the Sect of the Rampant Green went too far, where their shadows burn eternal, where now grows hot and wild and the queen reigns, you'll find the heart.

They chat with Rocky a bit more, and then make their way back toward the elevator, encountering 8 skeletons on the way. Kili turns 7 of them, causing them to flee, while Orpheus turns the remaining one into bone dust.

Down in the Asylum, they run into a caravan of kobolds led by Kerish the rope maker who tells them that while sniveling Sniv took some of the kobolds out of Stonehell, more remain scattered about the dungeon.

Meanwhile, Scotty managed to disturb a pair of draco lizards who’d decided to nest in the machine room. While they got the jump on him, they were slow and Karl and Lex managed to get between him and them. Dar and Maax charged in right after. Karl manages to take the first out, but the second bites the arm off of Dar, who sprays blood everywhere and he falls. It swallows the arm, then bites down hard on Karl, piercing his armor. Sadly for the lizard, that put it’s neck within easy reach of Karl’s Badger Hammer. Darryl managed to save Dar from death, but the arm was lost.

After Eiric returned to the elevator, Esmalia showed up, telling them that the meeting with the Vampire Lord of Stonehell is on. She also tells them that the riddle that Rocky gave them probably relates to the hot house, and Queen Urushiol, but that she’s not sure what that has to do with Ka-Nefer.

In the hours of boredom, everyone starts chatting about what they want to do in the future. Orpheus admits that he’s been offered a seat on the city council, and after the business with Ka-Nefer is done with, he’s thinking about hanging up his sword. A-A-Ron thinks this is a GREAT idea. Lex, who isn’t ready to retire has his eye on a cheese shop. Brie wants to see what’s deeper in the dungeon.

After the wererat moved on, and Scotty finished with the elevator, Eiric sends Orpheus back to town for supplies with Scotty and Dar, and Darryl, who can’t stand the dwarven cleric. The rest of the party will keep watch on the elevator, making sure no one else tries to smash it.

Kills: 8 skeletons, 6 Heartless, 2 draco lizards
Losses: Dar (medical retirement), Darryl (quitting the party)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

5e: Phylactery Shenanigans

I sadly missed this past week's session, but thankfully one of my fellow players wrote this up!

Ten month, 14th day, 1698,
To the Honorable Great Lord and Master of Lost Arcana, Nilrem,

As requested my lord, find the most recent translation of the journals from the excavated ruins in Neverwinter attached. This journal belonged to a monk called Joda, who lived almost five-hundred years ago. Comments in italics are mine. Additional translations of legible entries are forthcoming, and after, the manuscript will be submitted to restoration, so that additional entries may be retrieved.

The Entry Begins...

We were in an incredibly large cave or chamber. In truth, it was so large, I could barely see the ceiling. The room itself was big enough for two Thunderball courts (a court was sized at 75x150 so this cavern may be 150x300 feet --ed). There were four large sarcophagi placed in the room and one can only wonder what was inside (we think this was sarcasm --ed).

Hilde, bellying her barbarian stereotype, remembered the magic glue we had. Bran knew what its true name but whatever. We had enough to glue three of the sarcophagi shut. The fourth, well, we'll find out when we find out.

We passed through two large adamantium doors and into the library. There were shelves, and shelves, and rows and rows, of scrolls and rare manuscripts. Oh, if only Fulhoff and Journey were here; they would have truly enjoyed this room, but perhaps not for very long. As it was, Bran quickly started going through and touching everything. Including, unknowingly, the phylactery.

I think a trap was triggered when the phylactery was touched, or perhaps when it broke for Bran dropped it. Regardless, the room started to shake and tremble. cracks in the floors and walls appeared, and large chunks of rock started to fall from the ceiling. We ran.

Back into the sarcophagi room and sure enough the unglued sarcophagus had a giant skeleton rising from it (we think this was the skeleton of an actual giant, as opposed to a figurative giant skeleton. --ed). Even worse, a huge pounding sound was coming from the other sarcophagi. Then the lid broke and the other giant skeleton started to stand. Bran became a bird. Hilde picked up the unconscious mercenary and ran for it. I did my best to attack and distract the skeletons.

We did not make it through unscathed. But we outran the skeletons and made it into the mountain caverns. Bran remembered the way in the maze as we made our way out. We were badly hurt as the mountain continued to fall all around us. We constantly fell and the injuries mounted up, and then, the mountain opened up and we were on the edge of a cliff face. The mountain continued to crumble behind us.

The Fan of the Skye Rune became a cloud carpet. We were barely upon it and away before the cliff face collapsed. Bran took that moment to tell us that even though the Phylactery was destroyed, the Lich still lived! Fuck! (My lord, please forgive the crude language --ed.)

We returned to Mirabar to find the noble houses cured. Apparently, Fulhoff's ceremonial ritual was enough to break the curse. He is so smart! And the noble houses were so grateful. Bran said he has not seen this much platinum in his entire life.

We, of course, returned to xxxx (the name was not legible --ed) shop of curiosities where I found Gloves of Ogre Strength. Not only do they give me great strength but my arms now look like...

The rest of the entry is torn and not legible. However, we are working on other parts of the journal, which look promising and additional entries may be available soon.

With great respect and honor,
Weno, Archiver of the Seventh Circle

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stonehell: Ogrevation in the Caves

Session 77 was played on 9/8
Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Narus, Verman)
- Ghost (dog)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Maax, Dar)
- linkman (Gilcox)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris) - Stayed in town

With Koltic laid low, nursing the mother of all hangovers, the rest of the party geared up and headed into the dungeon. It was quiet as they made their way down to there wererat den. A-A-Ron nervously handed over the bag of ill gotten gold to Esmalia, who asks if they know how to get to the room. They don’t, at least not with the elevator out of commission. The tentative timing of the meeting is set for 2 weeks.

Circling around, away from the Harpies, they made their way down into the caves, and are soon attacked by a band of skinheads. Narus takes a large javelin through the chest, and in response Eiric calls out “MARSHMALLOW!” and sets them alight with a fireball. Only one survives, and they take him prisoner.

The “WOOMPH” of the fireball attracted the attention of some ogres, and A-A-Ron gets clubbed hard. The pair of ogres was no match for the party, and they were slain before they could do more damage.

Poking through the caves they disturb a giant rattler, who fails to bite anyone, and is skinned.

Deeper into the caves the party hears some talking ahead. A-A-Ron is feeling nervous, and so Eiric makes herself invisible, sneaks forward, and sees a half dozen orges each looking down the different exits of the room yelling back at each other that they don’t see anything.

Eiric returns to the party, still invisible, and taps Karl on the shoulder for shits and giggles. Karl screams, and wildly swings his ax, Orpheus and Darryl basically smother him, but the damage was done. The Ogres had gone silent…

Eiric prepared to cast lightning down the hallway in preparation for the Ogres advance… and the rest of the party was ready to sweep in after. But the ogres were tricky, and some had circled around behind. The two who emerged from in front did so only after the charge from the rear. Vermin, caught completely by surprise, took a club to the head, dropping him down. BLows were traded, and the lightning bolt cast, while magic missiles flashed from Brie. Orpheus gutted one ogre, whole Ghost ripped the throat out of another. Darryl kneecapped his opponent with his mace, while Karl’s ax cut chunk after chunk from their flesh.

After the battle, Vermin was discovered to be still alive, but a little slow. The bodies were looted, and the party discussed returning to town…

Gains: 363gp
Kills: 8 skinheads, 8 ogres
Losses: Narus, 1,000gp

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dancing Girl part 3

Well, it's been about 3 months since I last touched this mini...

In case you missed it here's Part 1 and Part 2

But as I head into the final stretch of my class, I needed a night off, so out came my painting tray, and I got to work.

I decided I wasn't happy with the purple, so I switched it up to Runic Purple. And for the green, I went to Jade Green, using Bleached Linen to lighten the color. for the skin I went back to Dark Flesh Highlight, and to keep things consistent, used the same Bleached Linen to make some glazes to try to smooth out her skin tones.

You can't really tell but I painted her fingernails with the Runic Purple.

I also used the Runic Purple for her eyeliner and lipstick.

I used the same Bleached Linen for the pearls/beads. I'm thinking about putting her on a different base, but... Don't know yet.

Still need to do some work on the fabric. I think a few glazes to help smooth it out. The bead work needs a bunch of work too, and I've done next to nothing with her hair and headband and the rest of her jewelry. I'm thinking of using Aged Pewter as the base for most of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

5e: Brightly Banner Brandished Get's Hooked

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, Battle Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

All knowledge is sacred. My training in the temple, and more so under my master hammered that point home. Knowledge was to be sought out, and preserved. Knowledge is power, the power to defend your home, your temple, your clan.

I have come into power, into knowledge, and for once I’m unsure what to do with it. This seemed such a simple quest at the start: save the families by putting their ancestors bones to rest, thereby breaking the curse upon them.

Hilde and Bran seemed a little worn out after the pillow fight, so we settled on a rest. Rin told of a spectre that visited while we were asleep, and claims he… scared it away. We packed up and moved on, only to discover that the Silver Hook foolishly followed us in. First we found their wizard Kelvin barely alive, holed up in some... anatomical workshop full of surgical instruments and dark texts.

I avoided his magical attack, knocked the wand from his hands, then Hilde poured a healing potion down his gullet. He ranted about rust monsters, and what fool Gerhart is… and that this was the home of a Lich. And that its phylactery was hidden somewhere in the library. We sent him on his way…

Deeper into the dungeon, we entered a cyclopian chamber housing some strange metal orrery stretching out from a central steel pillar wrapped in an external staircase, with arms radiating out that spanned the entire room. First circumnavigating the room, we found no other exits, so we approached the central pillar. Then, from the darkness above, the beardless dwarf of the Silver Hook dropped among us, battered and bloody. He began to speak, whether to warn or threaten us is unclear, as a crossbow bolt shot down from above, killing him. The bolt was followed by 2 figures in ancient garb, cackling about the joy of fresh blood for the first time in 200 years… and they referred to each other by name.

Milli Vanilli and Brendon… The Brightly Banner Brandished! We’d found them… or, they’d found us. The rest of the party dropped down, and the battle raged. Rin and Hilde chopped and slashed with great skill, Bran’s black weapons drained what life force kept them animated, and I blasted them with lightning. Thankfully their movements were stiff, and while we took some hits, we sent their spirits to rest.

But of the lich, and it’s phylactery? Bran spoke to Emmry to confirm their identity, and we then ascended the stairs to the top of the pillar, and the doorway leading into the pillar… and the stairs going down. I was tempted to use Fly, but opted to take it a step at a time.

Destroying the phylactery is clearly now the top priority, though I can’t say for sure that doing so will end the lich, whoever it is, or whether it will just weaken it. Either way, the deed needs to be done. But then, what of the books?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Scaling Your Adventure Expectations

My Storm King’s Thunder Game has been going on a while now, and like most groups, anytime the DM dangles something shiny in front of us, we’re more than happy to abandon the main plot and take up the side quest. Right now, we’re in the middle of a Lich’s lair, looking for it’s phylactery!

At the end of our last game, the DM mentioned that she thought that this side quest would take only a couple of sessions tops. We’ve been at it 4 weeks, and we’re still not at the end.

Given the size and complexity of the quest, I’m not surprised.

Let’s review what we’ve encountered so far!

  1. Getting the quest, traveling to the dungeon, talking to NPCs and getting info about it
  2. Mine Cart Ride
  3. Mountain Climbing (avoiding several possible combat encounters)
  4. Rival Adventuring Gang Combat
  5. Spirit Naga Combat
  6. Ice Zombie Combat
  7. Giant Statue & Ice Worms
  8. Magic Door Trap
  9. Cloaker Combat
  10. Shadows Combat 
  11. Scarecrow Combat 
  12. Exploration & further encounters with Rival Adventurers
  13. Wight Combat

Week 1 was 1-4, Week 2 was 5-7, Week 3 was 8-11, and week 4 was 12+13.

So on a given week we’re going through 2-4 significant events. Thinking back, this tracks pretty well with how we’ve been progressing through the adventure, and also with how encounters tended to go when I was running 5e.

Now, I don’t know how big this dungeon actually is, but given that we just found the adventurers we were looking for (and killed their undead selves) I’m guessing we’re close to done.

However, my main point here, is that when you’re planning to dangle a side quest, look at what’s actually in the quest to gauge how much of a distraction it’s going to be. DCC does a really good job at this with their “Encounter Table” at the beginning of their adventures. It’s one thing I think I’d enjoy seeing WotC adopt for their 5e adventures.

The specific advice I’m giving my DM (and I'm sharing with you readers) is to keep side quests short, like 5 room dungeon short. A 5 room dungeon is great for a single night’s adventure. It gives you the opportunity to add in a little something extra that might be missing from the current storyline. In our case that seems to be undead. Keeping it short allows for the spice, but keeps us all on track to actually deal with the Storm Kings... thunder?

What's a 5 Room Dungeon?

Image from

Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the term. If so, picture a 5 room dungeon, within you have:

  1. Entrance
  2. Puzzle/Trap/Trick
  3. Setback
  4. Boss Fight
  5. Treasure/Reward

Mix and match, and you have an adventure for the night. Need to fill 2 nights? 10 room dungeon!

Game on, and remember to keep the scale of the adventure in mind when planning out your game time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Steel Time Excerpt!

This week, book 4 of the Steel Empires urban fantasy/alternate series is released! In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step. Read on for an excerpt from Steel Time, by friend J.L. Gribble.

You’re never too young or too old to experience a paradigm shift.
Toria Connor is 25 when tripping over an artifact in the ruins of Nacostina thrusts her a century into the past, before the city is destroyed during the Last War. Now, she finds herself alone. Adrift in a time where she must hide everything important to her, from her mercenary career to her true magical ability.
Victory is over eight centuries old when she follows her adopted daughter. She has seen empires rise and fall, but never anything like this. She must survive alone in a city inhospitable to vampires, dodging friends and foes from her past alike.
Both of them know the clock is ticking down to the moment when the city is wiped off the map. Now, they’re in a race against time. To find each other. To escape the past. And to save the future.
Currently available from:
Barnes & Noble
Direct from publisher
Carpe Librum (the author’s local indie bookseller)
Or support your own local independent bookstore by requesting a copy today!
It is possible to read Steel Time as a stand-alone book, but don’t miss out on Toria and Victory’s previous adventures!
Book 1: Steel Victory
Book 2: Steel Magic
Book 2: Steel Blood
Victory reined in uncoordinated limbs and staggered to her feet, drawing her sword and ignoring the ache in her tailbone. She dropped into a defensive position and turned full circle, bracing for attack.
None came. She stood alone in a long gallery. Moonlight poured in from high windows, and red emergency lighting at the far end of the hall reflected on marble floors. Display cases lined the walls, and her enhanced eyesight picked minerals and gemstones out of the darkness. Even as the back of her mind cataloged karat weights and worth, the rest of her brain noted something much more urgent.
She was alone in this museum gallery. No heartbeats. No Toria.
The muted sounds of a city at night penetrated the gallery. Including, of all things, more liquid-fuel engines than she’d heard in one place since her visit to Jiang Yi Yue, a city where the vehicles ran on ethanol.
A museum gallery. Gasoline-powered engines.
Even inside, she scented the tang of gasoline below the harsh aroma of cleaning supplies and traces of body odor from those who had passed through this hall today.
A museum gallery, with a type of emergency lighting she hadn’t seen in years.
Gasoline engines.
It was like she’d gone back in time.
Buried among the smells of other people, she plucked out one in particular. After so many years, she knew her daughter’s unique scent—her skin, her hair, her sword. Even if Toria wasn’t here now, she had been in the recent past.
With no immediate attack imminent, Victory sheathed her sword.
The long hall had exits at either end. Flipping a mental coin, Victory picked a direction. It was child’s play to pick the basic lock on the massive metal door and haul it open.
Once through, she found herself on the second-floor balcony of a tall rotunda. Moonlight filtered into the large windows closer to the ceiling, and the marble architecture shimmered in the pale light. The entrance to another exhibit gallery sat opposite the wide expanse of space, this one advertising the flora of the New Continent. Victory stepped to the edge of the balcony and peered down, onto the dusty top of a giant stuffed mammoth.
“Hank.” Her voice, no more than a whisper, seemed to echo in the emptiness. She recognized the animal, or at least the affectionate term by which visitors had known it. She knew this museum, which was why Toria had asked her along on this job.
She could no longer pretend this was anything else. She had returned to Nacostina before the Last War, before the destruction of the city. Her fingers gripped the marble railing at the balcony’s edge. Of all the things, her first worry was how pissed off Asaron would be when she disappeared off the face of the planet. Whenever she left Limani, he assumed the role of Master of the City. He did so with lots of begrudging complaints, but deep down, Victory knew he enjoyed the change of pace from traditional mercenary life.
But the kids lived dangerous lives, having followed in the footsteps of their adopted mother and grandfather. Victory always took the chance to spend time with them, even if it meant traipsing around a ruined city hunting for a rock.
Victory was hundreds of years old. She had seen the rise and fall of civilizations. She had already experienced one complete paradigm shift when the elves blocked the progress of technology. It wasn’t so far-fetched that she might experience another.
Time travel. Who’d have thought?
So, two goals. Find Toria. Find the way home.
But first, she had to break out of a museum. Victory examined her options, what she could see and what she could remember. Lots of windows in the gallery she had come from, but they consisted of many panes. The heavy leading would be a chore to break through. Massive front doors out of the bottom of the rotunda where Hank surveyed his domain would also be tricky to disguise an escape.
There had to be other ways out of the building. Staff entrances. Loading docks. Things she’d never had reason to pay attention to, and therefore had no reason to remember now.
At least security cameras were not a concern in this era.
The thud-thud of a heartbeat shattered the silence, accompanied by boots sauntering across marble flooring and relaxed breathing.
Security guards, however, were a concern.

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.
Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.
She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats.
Find her online at: