Monday, April 23, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Thor Ragnarok

If there's one thing I want out of a movie from the MCU, it's fun. I want to enjoy myself. I want someone to root for, someone to root against, I want to laugh and to gasp. I want to see something in each film that I haven't seen before. Thor Ragnarok delivers this in a technicolor spectacular, which I wrote about before, not so long ago.

I mean, look at this poster! Those colors!!

But beyond that, there's 2 interesting stories going on here. Hela is taking over Asgard, in anticipation of a war of terror across the realms. She easily destroys Thor's hammer (once her own), kicks Loki's ass, and knocks both her brothers off the rainbow bridge onto a literal cosmic trash heap. Then she slaughters the Asgardian army, kills Thor's supporting cast with barely a backward glance, and spars with Idris Elba until the climactic fight at the end.

Meanwhile there's the buddy movie with Thor, Loki, Hulk, and Valkyrie playing around on Sakaar. I love all of the interactions, especially the growth in the relationship between Thor and Loki. Looking forward though... What's going to happen when Thanos shows up? Will Loki try to betray Thor again, or will the fact that he failed Thanos once already forstall that? We'll find out soon...

Then, when it all comes together, we have Thor deciding to end it all... and Asgard is destroyed in fire... and then there's Thanos.

Next up: Black Panther! 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Thunderwave for Rules Cyclopedia

A few of my favorite 5e spells don’t have old school analogs, so I decided to remedy that! The first in a short series of posts...

“Over here you ugly mutts!”

“Fulhoff no!” Thorin yelled, as his cousin ran toward the dire wolves.

The beasts snarled but paused their advance at the sight of the screaming dwarf charging toward them, his chainmail jingling with each lunging step. Both crouched lower, growling as the dwarf raised his hammer and swung it down to the ground in front of them. The crack of thunder rang in their ears and the dust of his strike blew into their eyes. Shaking off the minor irritation, they looked at the dwarf, down on one knee. Fulhoff’s grin faltered as he looked up at the wolves still too close to him.

“Great Digger-“ he began as the first charged into him, it’s jaws encompassing his shoulder, and he felt himself being yanked off of his feet.

1st level wizard spell
Range: 0 (Self only)
Duration: Instantaneous
Effect: 15' diameter sphere blast

This spell creates a thunderclap of sound centered on the wizard. Anyone within 15’ of the wizard must make a saving throw vs Paralysis or be pushed to 10’ away from the wizard and take 2d4+2 points of damage. Anyone making their save takes half damage and isn’t pushed away.

Design Notes: While a fun spell, it’s of fairly limited utility, since it targets everyone in the area of effect. I’ve only gotten to use it once or twice, and neither time was as effective as I’d wished. Sadly, the low DC for the saving through means I’m probably better off saving this as an emergency spell, rather than my “charge forward and BAM” spell. 
As one of my fellow players likes to remind me, I’m a squishy wizard. As far as turning the spell into something for the RC? Simple in this case, with the only real change being that in 5e, the spell doesn’t have to be centered on the wizard. Also drop the damage a bit since it's an AoE spell and HP aren't as high in RC. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ettin WiP

I’m doing far more painting for a D&D game that I’m playing in than I ever did for a game I DMed… And when she asks me “Do you have an ettin?” And my answer is “Not painted, but let me see what I can do…” this is where we end up.

I started with the usual hot soapy water scrub down, followed by assembly. I glued him to a 2” base, and added a rough gravel to cover what the integrated base didn’t. I then base coated him with Green Liner, my first time using it. The base got covered with brown liner, since I was using that for another figure.

Side note: Brown, Blue, and Grey Liners are my go to, as you’ve probably noticed. All 3 do a really good job with coverage and strength. So far I’ve found the Sepia and Green Liners to not hold up as well to handling.

After base coating him, I went to work on the face. Linen White for the eyes, and Dragon Red for the beard and hair.

I then mixed some brown liner with Ruddy Flesh and blocked in the fur and the wood of the clubs.

The chains, belt buckle (dwarven shield?) and knee armor I painted with Pure Black. The stones in the left club were blocked in with Mountain Stone, as were the 2 fish hanging from his belt. The spikes on the right club were painted with Bone. A bit of the Brown Liner/Ruddy Flesh was still in the well, so the bone color was a little darker than it is straight out of the bottle. I used the same color for the skulls on his belt, and the hands on his neck.

I then went over his skin with Wilderness Green. And here’s where I hit a wall. There’s something in my brain that says “skin shouldn’t be green!!” It’s weird… I’ve painted green skin before, but it’s usually something small like a goblin. Now I’m stuck with a relatively massive canvas.

So I looked for help, and found this blog post over at Sproket's Small World. While I have exactly none of the specific colors he used, it does a great job showing how and why he used the colors he did, and it helped my brain get over this weird roadblock.

Okay, that definitely feels better!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Spider-Man Homecoming

I liked Toby McGuire as Spider-Man. I thought he did a good job, and at a time when superhero movies weren't anything to write home about. Actually it wasn't even that the superhero movies were bad, it's that there weren't any. In 2002 the other superhero movie that came out was Blade 2. The excellent X-Men movie was 2 years before... and aside from that, the abomination that was Batman and Robin was back in '97. Looking forward, there's the Aflac Daredevil... clearly not the golden age of superhero movies.

And then a decade later Andrew Garfield slipped on the PJs. And that was... well, repetitive, and not as good.

And when it was announced that Sony and Disney had made a deal for a new Spider-Man? And that we'd be shown Uncle Ben, and "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" yet again... I winced. I felt my faith in the MCU being tested again. We got an initial tease with Civil War... and... it was good! A wise-cracking kid trying to do the right thing, not actually wanting to hurt anyone. And yet... for the first time... I didn't see Homecoming in the theater. I didn't need to see Peter get bitten by the spider, I didn't need his origin story AGAIN.

Things we never need to see redone in a movie ever again:
Bruce Wayne watching her parents get shot
Baby superman landing in Kansas
Uncle Ben getting shot/Peter getting bitten by a spider


The shame will stay with me forever.

Because Homecoming was a blast. Once again Marvel took something that could have been awful and turned it into something great. Peter Parker is an honest to god KID, in high school, and it isn't a damned origin story!

What we got is a young Peter, being mentored (remotely) by Tony Stark, testing limits, wanting to do good, to join the Avengers, while Tony wants this 15 year old kid to just... be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man. And like any teen, Peter pushing things too far, and gets caught up in something bigger than he's really ready to handle.

He makes mistakes. He goofs up. He talks too much. He's a little insecure. He has fun with his abilities. Basically, he's everything a young Peter Parker should be.

And let's talk about Vulture. If ever there was a relatable everyman villain for Spider-Man to confront, this is the guy. A different take from the comic books, but one that fits in really well with the MCU. He's utterly believable, and you even want to root for him. Plus, there's the whole Michael Keaton is also Batman and Birdman.

Post Credit Scenes: Cap's PSAs are WONDERFUL!!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!! Aunt May (Yowza!!) catching Peter in his suit? "What the f-" was great...

Next Up: Thor Ragnarok!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Deladrin, Female Ranger

Lately I've been thinking I want to wrap up the Bones 1 core set. This assassin, which looked more ranger-ish to me, was near the top of the pile, and ready to go, so out she came. I glued her to a base, and then onto one of my cork holders. She was already brown lined, so I started with Muddy Olive for the cloak, and Warrior Flesh for the face. Worked a bit on the eyes with Viper Green, and then decided that the scarf was going to be in the color of autumnal leaves, so she'd be a little more interesting than just muted browns and greens.

Same colors as before, just bringing them up in intensity.

Added in some Dragon Bronze and Shadowed Steel, and made her hair dirty blonde.

Coffee grounds added to the base for texture.

Painted up the base with a blend of Mountain Stone, and a muddy mix of browns.

With some yellow and brighter reds to try to look like fallen leaves.

I've since cleaned up the edge of the base, but that's it. She's done!

Total Minis Painted in 2018: 26

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Into the Orc Caves

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

The elven woods were dark and unsettling, but we were nowhere near the edge as night fell, and so the elves "invited" us to make camp. It was disappointing not to be able to visit their town, as I've read remarkable things about their architecture, but twas not to be. We were visited by their... queen? Regent? Ethereal and breathy, she thanked us for our help, promised us that the diplomat she sends to Nightstone will be more culturally sensitive than our guides, and even gave us a gift, if you can believe that. A pair of boots, magical even. Tiny though, and only our little halfling Lidda could get her feet into them.

Once at the edge of the woods we came upon an abandoned cart, and someone hiding in a nearby bush. I pointed Thorin at him, and he flushed the merchant out. The terrified man begged us to save his friend who'd been captured by the local orcs. While we discussed it, he kept trying to offer us gold... even the rings off his fingers. He showed us the cave entrance that he'd seen, and we spotted an ettin talking to itself, wandering around the entrance. We devised a plan to take it out as quickly and silently as we could, especially as there was also a goblin within the cave holding onto a thin rope... clearly an alarm...

With Lidda and Bran perched above the cave entrance, I created the smell of cooking bacon just outside the cave, and it worked... the ettin came out! Needing to draw him out, I walked forward, holding out some jerky. Quietly, I tried to magically Charm him, but 2 heads and brains... it didn't work, and the beast lumbered toward me as my magic failed me again... Great Digger, I need to do better!

The world blacked out as the giant first kicked me, then pounded me with his flail. When I came to, combat had been joined, and orcs were massing within the cave to charge out. The ettin fell, just as the orcs emerged. Lidda danced away from their blades while Thorin, Bran, Dawnclaw, and I engaged the orcs. Journey's magic was incredibly effective from range, while she yelled at me "you're a wizard!" In spite of this, I found that applying my hammer to the back of an orc's head is a simple and remarkably effective tactic.

While watching for another wave of orcs, we grabbed the bodies and dragged them away from the cave entrance, then took a rest. No other orcs came out to investigate, and so we formed back up, and went in. Deeper into the orc lair...

Let me take a moment here. Orc caves are something of a mockery of the halls of our homes. Clearly effort has been made to form, shape, and expand the natural caves, but there is no craftsmanship, only blunt crude effort. Honestly, it's sad to see, and makes me miss the halls of my childhood. I've included a rough sketch of their lair.

Deeper into the lair we came to a most disturbing chamber. A shaman was tending to a pair of sick orcs. Pustules on their bodies swollen and full of puss and gas were growing and popping at an unnatural rate. Dawnclaw warned of poison. We discussed trying to speak with them, but the sick orc's stumbled toward us and we attacked. My magic was much more effective here, as I cast a pair of witch bolts. The first at one of the sick orcs... who exploded in a rain of infected flesh, blood, and puss. I shifted position, and empowered another witch bolt, this time at the shaman whose arm was raised to cast a spell. He never finished casting, as my spell dropped him to the floor of the cave twitching. Unfortunately I was caught as the other infected orc popped, and spent several minutes retching out blood. Backing out of the caves, we again rested, and returned.

In spite of the noise we'd been making, the orcs remained generally disinterested in the goings on of their cave. Speaks volumes of the life they lead when the sounds of combat don't draw the attention of everyone in the area.

Exploring the sick cave, I discovered a poorly build secret door, and pointed it out to the rest of the party. Journey sent her familiars down to investigate. The passage split. To the left was a small group of orcs, and to the right was a large chamber, including another ettin, and a caged Cyclopes! Was this the friend the merchant wanted us to rescue?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Converting Ingrid

So the new player in the D&D game I okay in is playing a halfling rogue. Awesome, easy!

With a bow...

And a rapier...

Hmm... that's a little less easy.

This is Ingrid. I've already painted one of her from the Learn to Paint Kit, and I had a spare from the Bones Kickstarter. One of them... 1, 2, or 3... Probably 1...

Well, whichever it was, she's gonna take some work...

Let's start by cutting off her hands.

And we'll steal this guys bow hand...

And, uh.... I guess use a pin for the rapier scabbard?

And she's gonna need a base. Happy Seppuku to the rescue! Mix up some green stuff... Blob for a hand, add the basket hill, arm guard for the bow arm...

Hua... Okay, not too shabby!

If I had to do it over again, I'd rotate out her right arm, and have it holding an arrow, rather than steadying the scabbard. Also, I'd try to line up the scabbard with the hilt better.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

I haven’t watched this installment of GotG nearly as often as I’ve seen the original… In fact I think this was only my 3rd viewing of it. My thoughts haven’t significantly changed much from my first review. The Guardians have clearly been working pretty well together, taking on a variety of jobs, but the togetherness is starting to rub everyone the wrong way. 

One thing I didn’t really touch on in my last review was the Ravagers. These freedom loving pirates get a lot more fleshed out here, and we get to see how they’re loosely organized under a code… a code that Yondo broke, and the consequences he’s faced because of it. And when Yondo lets his guilt over that, and his love for Peter get in the way of his crew and their making a profit... well, he pays an even bigger price. Kraglin, who loves his captain, and wants nothing more than to support him, finds himself pushed too far, and that is enough for the rest of the crew to mutiny. Sadly for Kraglin this ends up causing the death of his friends, as the mutinying crew quickly purges itself of those most loyal to Yondu.

This viewing I found myself really focusing on the action around the main crew. The Ravagers especially, but the Sovereign also. It's amusing to think that a species so hyper engineered ends up acting like a bunch of high school assholes.

Post Credit Scenes - There's a bunch. First, you have Kraglin practicing with the arrow, and accidentally hitting Drax. Then you get the Ravager tribes coming together. I'd love to see a spinoff series or movie about that... teenage Groot in his moody angst-ridden stage, and then Ayesha of the Sovereign having created Adam... Hints at Vol 3? Finally, the Watchers abandoning Stan Lee.

Next Up: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Orcs in the Elf Woods

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

I cannot even begin to express my exasperation at the impatience of your nephew. While I was carefully pouring over old tomes in dusty libraries and private collections looking for information on the old kingdom of the giants, Thorin decided to take Lady Awful to Nightstone… The humans went with him. When I discovered that he went off on his own, I went and found Journey and we followed them, taking with us a small Halfling named Lidda.

We arrived at Nightstone without incident, but found that we had just missed as assault upon the village by a troop of orcs. Thorin and co, with the help of a dragon, won the day. Great Digger forgive me, but I think I need to pay more attention to Thorin and his impulsive ways.

Once we were all back together, we all shared what we knew, and decided the next stop should be Goldstone… which meant either turning around and going back through Waterdeep, or cutting through the elven woods. As the town was depressingly understaffed, the fine innkeep was considering allying with the Black Network to help them keep the town safe. We talked him out of that terrible idea with the promise to go see about getting the elves to help out. Taking some of the orc heads, we set off.

I will not bore you with the details, but it seems the elves were willing to speak with us thanks to my limited knowledge of the traditional elven word for friend. They were insufferably haughty but agreed to both speak with the villagers and to allow us passage. They also claimed that no orc encampments were within the woods. I have my doubts…Especially as we were set upon by over a dozen of the brutes while passing through the woods.

The battle was fierce. I found myself defending the left flank while Thorin and Rin took the center, and Bran the right. The elves remained hidden, occasionally sending a volley of arrows into the orc line. Journey and Lidda kept to the rear, sending flame and arrows into the orcs to best support those of us in battle as the fight shifted.

I took on one brute early in the fight who was more ferocious than I’d expected. His weapon came in under my guard as I hit him with a frost bolt. His attack slammed me in the gut, and he followed up with a swing at my neck as I bent over in pain. Only my bedroll saved my head. My hammer dispatched him, but 2 more were close behind. One was a shaman who summoned a demon blade to attack Thorin. I cursed at the orc to draw his attention away, and it worked, he came for me!

Lidda, her bow twanging, felled the grunt, while Journey blasted the shaman with a bolt of flame. I overcharged the Witchbolt, something I’ve not tried before, and slammed my hammer into the shaman, sending him flying back wreathed in the blinding energy. When I looked around the last of the orcs was being felled.

The elves, remaining mostly in the trees, were… restrained in their thanks for our assistance in slaying the roving bands of orcs in their woods. We took a few minutes to rest after the battle, and the elves shared some of their “food” with is. Thorin and I stuck with our trail rations, though Journey seemed to enjoy their food, as much as she denied it.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Doctor Strange

This is the story of how Tony Stark, sorry, Doctor Stephen Strange, mechanical medical genius became Iron Man The Sorcerer Supreme.

It’s just so easy to get the two of them confused. Both are insanely intelligent, egotistical, self-centered assholes who think everyone is beneath them. Both are victims of their own arrogance. Neither ever actually reaches “humble” in spite of their setbacks.

Visually, this movie is a treat. From the cosmic colors to the kaleidoscoping landscapes to the rich textures of the fabrics used. There’s a lot to see, and every time I’ve watched it, I’ve appreciated the visuals more and more.

The storyline is… Okay. It didn’t really do anything new or exciting, and felt very much like what we’ve seen before. I wish it had pushed things further.

Kaecilius, the antagonist has a fairly clear motivation, if twisted. I kinda feel like this would have been a far more interesting conflict if the focus would have been better placed on the relationship between Kaecilius and Mordo, especially since Strange mostly was… just kind of there. Strange didn’t even want to be involved in the conflict, in protecting the world… He just wanted to heal his hands.

In that way, it kind of reminded me of Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton was clearly the bumbling sidekick of the movie, but as the camera was on him, it almost seems like he’s the hero. It’s the same with Strange… he’s just there, in the way, along for the ride, defending himself as needed, while Mordo fights to actually stop Kaecilius.

I did really enjoy a lot of the dialogue in the movie. When The Ancient One banishes Strange to the top of Everest, and Mordo says “Oh, no, not again.” Lines like that can tell you an awful lot about a character.

The back and forth between Kaecilius and Strange makes the movie, regardless of any other flaws.

End Credit Scene: Thor and Strange have a beer! Mordo decides there's too many sorcerers in the world... for... some reason... Not sure I follow that logic.

Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 18 in Review


The exploration into Stonehell continues. Their fight with Ka-Nefar for control of the upper levels of the dungeon has

My 5e game is going really well. My religious dwarven wizard, when he rolls well, kicks some serious ass, especially when the barbarian is distracting whatever it is he's going after.

Haven't gotten in any Frostgrave in a while, and it's becoming an itch that I really want to scratch.


Painted up 2 dwarves; my converted Ivar, and Dain for my fellow dwarf player. Also painted up the Foo Dog figure as a golden statue with jade eyes, and the Donkey, both from Bones 3. The Deladrin, Autumnal Ranger that I started back in February has reached the point of "I'm done" even though there's more I could do. I also have been working on the Bones Stone Giant for my Wednesday FLGS D&D game. Still need to finish taking pictures and writing up blog posts for most of them...

Ninja CPA Review...

Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers Age of Ultron
Captain America Civil War
The Punisher season 1
Jessica Jones (first couple of episodes)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Donkey and Foo Dog

Sometimes you just need a random mini…

The Foo Dog I pulled out for Chinese New Year. Rather than try to paint it up like some sort of actual living thing, I figured why not just paint it up like a golden statue? So I did. I think he’ll work well for a random terrain element or objective marker in Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago.

Base coated with Brown liner, I then painted him with a dark old gold, followed by New Gold for the broad highlights. The metallic red was painted first with Retro Red, which looked too orange, so I mixed in some Heraldic Red to strengthen the redness. The eyes I painted with Jade green, blended with Brown Liner to Linen White to try to give it a hint of gem-ness.

It was based on a 2” base, and I used a mix of gravel and sand to texture the base. This was painted with a variety of browns and greens, with dots of flock and turf. I added a few dots of orange to look like little flowers.

The Donkey was painted with Desert Sand and Stone Grey over Brown Liner. As usual, Linen White and Brown liner were used to shade. Oh, and for reference pictures, I used Donkey from Shrek rather than a real one… *shrug* The packages on the donkey’s pack were painted a variety of colors, mostly based on whatever paints I had on my work tray at the time. Just about everything got a wash of Sepia.

He’s based on a 30mm base with the same mix of sand and gravel as the Foo Dog. I painted the base a little differently, using redstone as the base. Otherwise, pretty much the same.

Total Minis Painted in 2018: 25