Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Saprolings Speed Paint

The twig blights (though really, at this size, they're more like branch blights) were all given a good hot water and soap scrub, and then primed with Brown Liner.


Then I painted them in successive highlights using Walnut Brown, Nut Brown, and Desert Stone. I then blotted them irregularly with Muddy Olive.


I stuck them on 1" slotta bases (GW style) and numbered each one, then I painted on some wood glue, and flocked them.


I think the numbers on both front and back should work well to keep track of them on the tabletop without being obnoxious.


And that's it. Simple and easy, and they look pretty good! Can't ask for anything more.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ghouls Speed Paint

How did I miss posting about these?

Back in February I had an unexpected snow day. First one in a decade! So I decided to take advantage of it, and paint up some minis. My DM needed some more ghouls, so out came some mantic ghouls that I had assembled ages and ages ago, primed, and then put away. Along with them a half dozen of Reaper Saproling Warriors aka Twig Blights. Although they’re medium, rather than small, so maybe Branch Blights is more accurate? Awakened Shrubs? I also worked on the 2 large Bones scarecrows, but they were incidental efforts and I still haven’t finished them, so I’m going to ignore them for now.

Today’s all about the ghouls, and tomorrow I’ll post about the blights.

They were already assembled and primed, so the first thing was to paint the undead flesh. I used Vampire Shadow for their sickly skin. It didn't quite match the ghoul I'd painted before, but it was close enough. I sadly didn't always take good notes...


After that I decided that as these were primarily going to be gaming ghouls, and not for a unified force for Kings of War, they'd each get their own clothing color: Red, Green, Blue, Tan, and Dark Brown. I used Rusty Red, Muddy Olive, Rich Indigo, Desert Stone, and Ruddy Flesh. The eyes were all painted with Walnut Brown, as were the spikes sticking out of them.


Then I washed them all with a mix of 4 parts sepia wash and 1 part black wash.


A little bit of highlighting with the base clothing color, then it was time to paint the bases black, and then flock them! Oh, and a bit of watered down rusty red around the mouth.


Oh, and aged pewter on the spikes and the cleaver.


Looking good for such quick work.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mini workbench update

Wednesday’s game was postponed for the week because half the players couldn’t attend, so instead we had a painting night. It’s been a while since I painted anywhere other than in my apartment, so I quickly threw together a traveling paint kit with the paints currently on my paint tray, and grabbed one of the scarecrows, the Oathsworn human thief, and a bag of Bones bugbears and gnolls (in case someone wanted something to slap paint on).

Turns out that the lighting isn’t great, and I didn’t bring my visor, or my good brushes… So I blocked in the colors on the thief, poked at the bones of the scarecrow, and ended up brown lining a whole bunch of bugbears and gnolls, some of which already had some paint on them from when my nieces and nephews tried their hands at painting.

For the thief, I used Tanned Shadow on her face and hands, Redstone Shadow on her hair, XXX Olive for her leather armor, Nut brown for the shoulder armor, backpack, and belt. Walnut Brown for the pants and boots. I tried to get a touch of Dirty Bone in for her eyes. It’s going to need a bunch of cleanup… but she’s ready for the next steps!

As far as the bugbears and gnolls go, I’m going to replace the weapons for the bugbears with the floppy maces from Bones 2. I’m thinking a spear, sword, and maybe a beastman’s flails. For the gnolls, probably something similar. I wonder if I have a pick somewhere… Also, I noticed that several of the shields are poorly glued, so I’m gonna have to fix those too.

Funny thing is, I wasn’t planning on working on these minis, but now that I am, I feel like I should just… do it, and have some fun while I’m at it. I guess I found my March project!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Stonehell: Looting the Medusa's Lair

Session 89 was played on 2/16

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman) (stayed in town)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Darryl, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris)
Kili, Dwarf Cleric 3 (Matt)
Lucrecia Thief 2 (Henchman)

Standing over the bodies of the wizard and the ogre, Darryl casts Speak with Dead on the wizard and asks:
Q: Why did you attack us
A: Following my mistress’ orders

Q: Who is your mistress?
A: Lachesis

Q: Where can we find her?
A: Down the hall

The party leaves the bodies in the pillared chamber, and heads back down the hall that Eiric had just send a lightning bolt down, and came upon another dead blind ogre, and behind that, the veiled corpse of Lachesis the medusa. Darryl, wanting more answers, casts Speak with Dead on her.

Q: Who are you?
A: Lachesis

Q: Why did you try to kill us?
A: You were coming to kill me

(No one remembers what was actually asked/answered, and my notes just say “when”)

Searching the bodies, careful to avoid uncovering her head, they took her jewelry and then headed back toward the hall of statues they’d spied earlier. Among the figures was the petrified Yolanda. Sadly, for the moment, the magic to restore her is beyond Eiric’s ability. Beyond the other figures was a spiked trapped door, which Koltic chooses to open. Half a dozen spikes shoot out from the door, several of them striking him. Beyond the door are Lachesis’ suite, including the ogres & Skelmis’ quarters. Much looting was done. The snake in her footlocker was displeased to be disturbed, but it found biting through Karl’s armor difficult. The giant rats (pets? livestock?) were violently poked to death by Kili.

Loaded down with loot, the party hussles from the dungeon back to town.

Eiric and Brie spend the next 2 weeks investigating the various magic items.
Karl buys a building in town and sets up a “Kinda Fancy Hat Shop”
Kili looks for property to open a “Totally not a Payday Lender Loan Shop & Shrine to the 7”
Koltic throws a disappointing party.
Karl throws an epic shindig, but has to get Lex to help him cover the cost overruns.

Gains: Wand of Fear, Ring of Human Control, Skelmis’ Spellbook, Potion of Speed, Scroll of Ward Against Lycanthrops, Crystal Ball, bunch of coins.
Kills: Giant Rattler, Giant Rats,

Monday, March 11, 2019

Captain Marvel

On Friday night (International Women's Day) my bride and I went off to see MCU's newest installment, Captain Marvel.

A Mostly Spoiler Free Review

It was good! It definitely fits in well with the rest of the universe, adding new layers to Fury (Mr. Tough Guy who melts for a cute cat) and... Okay, so I'm not sure that Phil Coulson actually got any real character development, but it was nice to see him as a new SHIELD agent. On top of that we get some familiar faces from GotG.

As for the new faces, well, Captain Marvel herself was fantastic. I loved how tough she was, and yet also snarky funny. Where you could pound on Captain America and he'd just say "I could do this all day", Captain Marvel would say "Is that the best you've got?" while smirking.

As for the supporting cast, her best friend Maria Rambeau (and her daughter) were great. I really appreciated how strong these characters were, and how storng their bond was, and how it didn't feel the need to involve a guy.

Jude Law as the Kree Yon-Rogg was a perfect casting decision. And the rest of their Kree squad? Characterful, and visually interesting. It does make me wonder about Kree biology though...

The movie itself took a little bit to pick up steam, but once it did, it was marvelous.

Oh, and my bride (who is not really into comic book movies) liked it more than Wonder Woman.
When I asked her what it was that she like, these were her top thoughts.

  • Costume "You're a superhero! Suit up!"
  • No love interest
  • Best friend
  • Best friend's daughter

So if you were on the fence, go see it!

Oh, and the tribute to Stan Lee... I was not prepared for that.

Lastly, stay till the very end. Obviously. Do I even need to say that?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Mordheim Ogre Mercenary

This final update hardly deserves it’s own post, but because I don’t want to leave you hanging, here’s where I’m at with my ogre. I touched up the flesh on his arm where I’d just… missed a big spot.

I added a bit of a highlight on his cap using Rich Indigo and Runic Purple with a hint of Linen White. It’s really subtle and could use more but… eh.

The base was dry brushed unevenly with Red Brick Shadow, and increasing amounts of Desert Stone.

I’ve definitely reached the point where he’s good, not great, but I’m just kinda… done. I could do more, but I don’t really want to.

Currently on my work bench are a couple of thief/thug types... we'll see what comes of that.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

5e: Fall of the House of Durst

I wasn't able to attend the last session of the first chapter of the Curse of Strahd, but one of my fellow players gave me the bullet points.

  • Hani's wizard had a strange dream while unconscious that the house was smoking and burning
  • The sprite (worse for wear) re-appeared and woke up Hani's wizard, who then managed to sneak away to a shadowy corner of the altar room unnoticed.
  • Tener's dwarf continued to stall Elizabeth, who LOVES to hear herself talk.
  • I snuck upstairs through the trapdoor to the front door and made a big racket with Thaumaturgy to get some of the monsters out of the altar room. I was ignored. But I noticed that things were feeling very spooky and vengeful upstairs.
  • Andrew and I met back in the jail room. Where we ran into the orb of light (the dead sprite). The orb lead us to the altar room, where we lurked and watched still more talking from Elizabeth.
  • In another attempt to stir the pot and troll the Dursts, I used my last spell to disguise myself as THE DEAD NURSEMAID who Mr. Durst knocked up and Elizabeth killed. I made a big entrance and started yelling at them in Infernal about where my baby was. That DID cause a reaction. Mr. Durst AKA the Ghast fell for it and started getting very agitated. Elizabeth did not fall for it, but her head spun around and she started monologuing angrily at me. I also tried to turn undead to thin out the herd a little. That didn't work.
  • While they were yelling at me, the others snuck away from the undead and regrouped in a corner.
  • Elizabeth started yelling that she needed a blood sacrifice from one of us on the creepy altar or no one was leaving.
  • Elizabeth started stretching out and looking generally weird and creepy
  • Weird sulfur smell started filling the room.
  • Someone (I can't remember who) noticed that the Elizabeth-thing was actually blind (which was why my disguise didn't fool her)
  • I started using Thaumaturgy to throw my voice around the room, further distracting Elizabeth - who was controlling all the monsters.
  • Elizabeth looks even creepier. Room smells more like sulfur.
  • None of us can figure out the sacrifice thing. I'm sorry to say we did briefly consider the sprite before snapping out of it.
  • In a Hail Mary move, I throw the dead nurse's locket (which we found upstairs) to the Durst-Ghast. Thank you for not making me roll for that, Diana. Remember that Elizabeth stabbed the nurse AKA Durst's latest girlfriend to death. Durst-Ghast loses it and starts attacking Elizabeth.
  • Elizabeth starts melting into a horrible slime monster as they duke it out.
  • We run like hell.
  • When we get back upstairs to the den, we find that the ghosts of Elizabeth's victims have animated all of Durst's animal trophies, insect collections, and furniture into a huge angry SOMETHING that is dead set on kicking Durst ass.
  • Slime monster Elizabeth erupts through the trapdoor and casts hold person on everyone except Hani.
  • The ghosts continue to tear up the house and incorporate the wreckage into their house-monster.
  • Hani runs to the door - the killer fog is gone and we can see some houses in the (not killer) mist.
  • Hani desperately drags the rest of us out of the house one by one.
  • The Elizabeth slime monster starts crawling up Tener's leg and dissolving it.
  • Going out in a blaze of glory, Tener headbutts Elizabeth (thus having his face melt off while maintaining a sarcastic smirk of defiance)
  • The house monster starts to pound Elizabeth in a battle royale not fit for low level characters.
  • From just outside the front steps, we watch as the house implodes, totally destroying Elizabeth and everything inside it. The sprite orb does make it out - seeming having been the ringleader for the ghost vengeance revolt.
  • The cellar door opens and you climb out, having finally rouge-ed your way out of the basement. WHERE WERE YOU GUYS?!
  • Creepy ravens are in the trees, mocking our terror and general poor-ass condition.
  • A creepy (but strangely extremely helpful) lady appears from amongst the ravens and leads us to a caravan of wagons where we can rest
  • We collapse
  • Apparently somewhere in Barovia Strahd is slow-clapping our hijinks
  • The end

Looking forward to seeing what tonight brings...

Monday, March 4, 2019

Happy GM's Day!

Today is March Fo(u)rth, Game Master's Day, the anniversary of the passing of E. Gary Gygax.

So thank you to my current DM in the Curse of Strahd game! I know what a thankless job DMing can be...


It's also the first day of Read an RPG Book in Public. I'm reading the 4th level DCC module Journey to the Center of Aereth (#91)

February in Review

Between finishing my auditing class, and gearing up for the audit at work, it wasn’t the most productive month for my hobbies.

I made plans with my D&D gamers to play some Frostgrave, but we had to bump the session into March.

In the Curse of Strahd game, my character came super close to death. SUPER CLOSE.Had to miss the most recent session due to working late, which unfortunately was the big fight at the end of the chapter.

My players have moved into the 4th level of Stonehell, and I’m SUPER EXCITED. At first I was a bit bummed that they killed off the medusa accidentally, but there are more nasty things coming… I’m curious to see what they’re going to do with the dropped threads of Ka’Nefer and the Hothouse… Just keep avoiding them, or really go for the quest XP?

I spent a snow day speed painting some ghouls and twig blights/sapprolings, so in that way it was super productive. I also finished up the ogre, and poked a bit as my character mini.

Beyond that there was tons of assembly! It’s enough that at this point I’m waiting for a semi-warm day so I can just spray prime the bunch. I’ve got tons else to work on, and just got the new Tribal minis for Ghost Archipelago, with the wizards box to follow, and Bones 4 arriving probably sometime in March.

Total Minis Painted: 12 (5 ghouls, 6 blights, 1 ogre)

A rather light media month. Not a whole lot of reading or watching…

Bandwidth (An Analog Novel Book 1) by Eliot Peper
Reread the Frostgrave rulebooks in anticipation of getting a game going.

Movies/TV Watched
Supernatural (finished season 11)

I’m kind of at a loose end with my minis. Nothing is super calling out to me to paint. Part of that is the anticipation of Bones 4, and part because I don’t need anything at the moment for game. I’m sure something will come to me. And if it doesn’t, I can always paint up some more goblins or something.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Thursday Thaumaturgy: Esratsept Lens of the Mind

The tavern was quiet in the predawn hours, but Alianora sat alone near the freshly kindled fireplace, wrapped in a blanket, and looking like hell when Nimble slide through the door. Latching it softly behind him he stepped near the fire with a slight limp. "Rough night?" he asked.

She smiled weakly at him. "That was going to be my question..." She sighed deeply. "Nightmares. Ever since we rooted out that cult... and a spell... a prayer... I can't get rid of it."

"You were cursed?"

"Yes... no... I'm not sure. I woke up the next morning with a new spell in my head. I didn't ask for it, and it's not from The Light. But it's sitting there, like a toad in mud..." She shivered. "I don't want to cast it, but I don't know how else to be rid of it."

3rd level Cleric Spell
Esratsept Lens of the Mind
Range: 30’
Duration: Instantaneous
Effect: One Target

The caster opens a lens to the outer-dark in the target’s mind, giving the target a brief nightmarish glimpse of the One Who Slumbers Between The Stars. The target must make a saving throw vs spells with a penalty based on their intelligence modifier (higher modifier, greater penalty) or be incapacitated for 1d6 days.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Sculpting a Penanggalan, part 1

Sculpting minis isn’t something I’ve spent much time doing. Why bother, when artists have been working on that skill for years and years. But sometimes you think of something, and you get inspired by other amateurs, and you say to yourself “why not?”

My inspiration primarily comes from a Reaper forumite named Malefactus who makes delightfully creepy mushrooms and other blighted beings. He is so prolific that he even shares his finished minis, and I was fortunate to be so honored with this trio of figures.

I was thinking about horrific monsters, and the Penanggalan came to mind… a floating head, trailed by various organ bits… I’ve got spare heads, and how hard can it be to sculpt dragging intestines and various organs? Turns out, not too hard, actually… Now, before we go any further, understand this is NOT professional quality, but rather good enough for tabletop. Kinda like most of my painting.

I started with a cork holder, a base, a bit of paperclip, and a head from the Mantic Ghoul kit.

I kept Sir Forscale handy to make sure that it was sized appropriately. Then I mixed up some greenstuff and wrapped it around the wire. The stories don’t mention the spinal column/spine coming out with the head, but it seemed like that would be easier to sculpt, so I started by adding in lines to indicate vertebra. Then I made some twisty ropes of greenstuff to be the intestines dangling… and some organ-ish shaped blobs that I’ll glue on.

Looking at it the next day, the intestines should probably be more kinked, rather than twisted. I may cut them off, and redo them.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Stonehell: Snakes in the dark...

Session 88 was played on 2/2

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Holdred, Adonis: elf model)
-torchbearer (Wennick)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman) (stayed in town)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Darryl, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog, lvl 1)
- men at arms (Nargos, RelBex)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris)
- Grishnaz, Goblin
- men at arms (Remo, elf pirate)
Kili, Dwarf Cleric 3 (Matt)
Lucrecia Thief 2 (Henchman)

In town, Eiric researches what it would take to create a magic dress, Remo the pirate and Adonis the elf merc are hired to replace Mulligan and Vol, and everyone else hangs out in town.

Heading into the box canyon, a clicking sound echoes off the walls, and as they near the back they can see a mass of scarab beetles covering the rock face around the entrance. Opting not to risk the swarm of bugs, they left the canyon and hiked out to the narrow cavern that the hobgoblins used to enter the 2nd level of the dungeon.

Circling around through the halls toward the grand stairs that lead up to the (former) Kobold Korners, they encounter a mob of mixed undead. Kili and most of the henchman flee in terror from the heartless, while Darryl turns the skeletons and zombie to dust. Karl, Orpheus, and Lex all charge in blades swinging. Darryl manages to turn 2, who run off into the dark. Brie and Koltic finish off the one that slipped around to get at the more squishy members of the party.

After finishing off the Heartless, they retrace their steps and collect their lost hirelings. Making their way around to the stairs, they head down into an unexplored area of the 3rd level of the dungeon!

At the bottom of a long flight of stairs they come to a large room  with a shallow reflecting pool that takes up most of the floor space. In the middle of the pool is a 10' rusty iron cube standing on one corner. Their flickering torchlight barely illuminates some motionless forms to the north… statues. Possible victims of the medusa? Watching carefully to the north, Karl pokes the green water, getting his pinky wet. Nothing bad seems to happen, so he splashes into the pool, and starts turning the cube clockwise. It spins easily.

Unknown to the party, their not so subtle or quiet exploration of the room catches the attention of Skelmis, who alerts his mistress Lachesis. She orders him to carefully follow, invisible, and if the opportunity presents itself, to burn them. She’ll be following with Tusk and Rufus to charge in and mop up after.

The party decides to head away from the statues. The corridor turns and opens into a grant, but empty hall. Eiric gives Lucrecia the ring of invisibility and sends her to scout back to make sure the medusa wasn’t following. Skelmis watched it all, and luckily for Lucrecia, Lachesis hadn’t yet started following. Lucrecia returned and reported what she (didn’t) see.

Moving on, the party makes it to the pillared hall with the great bronze double doors. Investigating the room, they discover a pair of secret nooks. The first is empty, but the second contains a bag of coins, and some jewelry. The excitement of the find causes everyone to cluster a little too closely together. Skelmis takes this opportunity to drop a fireball in the middle of the party.

Screams of the dying, the smell of charred flesh, and black smoke fill the room. When the smoke clears, Skelmis is dismayed to see how many are still standing, especially the wizards. His focus shifts to the angry dwarf charging across the room toward him, and in that moment Eiric unleashes a lightning bolt right in Skelmis’ face, and down the hallway… He barely survives, and briefly his mind clears, as with the death cry of Lachesis the charm binding him breaks. Then Karl’s hammer smashes into his skull.

Tusk died with his mistress, but Rufus survived, and charged in, clubbing Karl back into one of the room’s pillars. Orpheus slams his spiked shield into the ogre’s flank, and then sinks his sword into the burnt flesh of the ogre’s neck. The ogre gurgles up some blood, and falls dead…

Gains: Bag of coins and jewelry
Kills: Skeletons, zombie, heartless, Skelmis, Lachesis, Rufus, Tusk
Losses: Holdred, Adonis, Wennick, Hobart, Nargos, RelBex, Grishnaz, Remo

Friday, February 22, 2019

More Frostgrave Plastics!

In spite of what I said I was gonna do with figuring out what figures would be most useful for Frostgrave, I ignored that and just built some more minis. It’s not like I don’t have a zillion minis to choose from anyway.

So I started by building 3 more cultists with spears, because they seem like they’ll be really useful in general. Cause cultist guards, right? I wonder if I’ll be able to get someone to trade heads for more of these skull faced guys.

After playing with the cultists, I moved onto the gnolls. As with the previous kits, my plan was to build 5 without worrying about what works for the game… I ended up using a total of 8 gnoll bodies, using an assortment of bits from the Soldiers, Cultists, Oathmark Goblin kits, as well as a couple of GW beastmen bits. The goblin head on the gnoll body works pretty well...

I also made this dude with a staff. Not sure what he is… But the body is a cultist, the arms are from the goblin sprue, and the head and backpack are from the soldiers kit.

And speaking of the Oathmark Goblins, I put together these 5, again mixing and matching bits from the various kits. For what are basic troops, they’ve got a fair bit of personality. And while they’re called goblins, they’re really more in line with what I’d call orcs.

And then I started really having some fun, giving a gnoll body a goblin head. Gonna sculpt some more greenstuff hair on the neck, see if I can’t make him look more bugbear like… Then I gave a cultist a beastman ungor head. I think he’ll be a beastcrafter wizard or apprentice. , but looks okay, as does the ungor spear. The gor flail on the other hand looks just a little too out of scale. I’m not gonna cut it off… figure he’s a gnoll barbarian?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Strahd: House of Durst, Dust, and Death...

Have you ever had a sprite stab you in the chest? Has that ever been the best thing that’s happened to you that day?

I do not understand these people. They have this amazing house. They’re clearly rich, but completely off their rockers. Resting up a bit, we headed back down into the basement, and back to the bone room. Some weird worm thing with these tentacles was in the closet. It’s tentacles were all sorts of tingly, and not in the good way. They made Vetsun have the shakes. Well, it might have been the getting smacked against the wall that did it, but I think it was the tingly tentacles. Also the smell… How can anything alive smell that foul? It was like the slaughter house on a hot summer day.

Moving deeper we came to a… theater? There was a really cheap statue that Ember said was probably Strahd, based on a window that only he saw in a vision….. We could also hear rats diggin in the walls.

We’ve gotta get out of here.

But the statue was holding an orb… And, well… We took it, and broke the statue. It was just cheap wood scraps and plaster anyway… The candles flared and suddenly our shadows were after us. We ran… but you can’t out run a shadow, not really. We booked it up the stairs, all the way to the 4th floor… and there wasn’t a door at the top. Just a solid brick wall… and then they were on us. I’ve never felt so cold or so scared. They just reached into me and… then it was all black.

That’s where Vetsun stabbed me in the chest with a needle. Drained, and hurt we caught our breath, looked for a way through the wall, and then slowly headed back down… Maybe we can find a way out. I’m so tired. My arms feel like wet pasta. Even holding the torch takes more effort than I can describe. The scratching in the walls was louder, and as we got back to the theater, the dirt walls crumbled open and hungry corpses covered in dirt crawled out of the mess…

Lady, you sent us here… is there no hope?

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Orville S2 E1+2

Well, that was disappointing. I’ve been excited for the return of The Orville for months now, and the first two episodes did not meet my expectations.

The season premiere was all about the captain and his ex’s issues (she’s dating someone!) while Bortis needs to pee, and the doctor’s kid gets in with a bad crowd. Meanwhile the helmsman works up the courage to ask out the new scientist on the ship.

This was an entire episode of B and C plots stitched together, and nothing at all interesting actually happened. Boris pees (yay?) the helmsman chokes, and new science officer flirts with the captain instead, and the mess with the doctor’s kid gets resolved… that’s it.

Beyond the issues with the fact that this is a boring episode in which there’s nothing that couldn’t have been done on any other sitcom, the whole storyline with the doctor just ruined any sense of disbelief I could manage.

First off, this is a ship with only 300 crew, and somehow the CMO hasn’t met either of the bad kids parents? Hasn’t given a routine examination to the bad kid? Seriously? Also why is the android hanging around all the time? This is seriously the least competent crew in the galaxy.

Episode 2 focuses on Brotis’ holo-porn addiction, which is kinda interesting, but didn’t necessarily deserve the A plot, especially when TNG did this same story with Reg Barkley 2 decades ago… The B story was actually the more Trek-like bit of the show with a scientific/exploratory story that morphs into the attempted rescue of a lost civilization. In the end though, it lacked the emotional weight that it could have carried since so much attention was given to the more titillating(?) addiction story.

I've heard things improve later in the season... but I haven't gotten there yet. We'll see...

Friday, February 15, 2019

Frostgrave Barbarians and Cultists

Instead of watching the Superbowl, I spent the evening working on some more Frostgrave plastics. I built 5 barbarians, and 5 cultists. I should probably actually take some time to consider what rolls the minis will fulfil in the game, rather than just making something that looks cool…

This time though, I was aiming for “it looks cool.”

Starting with the barbarians, I first built the alternate captain figure with the crested head and mace that came with the Folio nickstarter. Then I made a barbarian with the Conan helmet. Amazingly the barbarian box doesn’t come with a nice 2 handed sword, and the one from the soldiers box didn’t really work. I wanted something with more action. Thankfully the gnoll box had what I needed. It only took a bit of clipping to make it work. I still need to clean up the cut, but I’m overall happy with it. There are also a couple of normal barbarians, and then the hammer guy with the Skyrim helmet.

For the cultists, I looked through the heads available, and decided that I really liked the skull faced ones. The hoods are okay, but… eh. Sadly there are only 2 of those heads per sprue, for a total of 8 heads. I built these guys using 5 of them. I’m thinking about using the remaining 3 to make 3 more spearmen. The 2 handed ax is from the Soldiers box, otherwise these guys are straight up cultists.

I still have mold line removal and cleanup to do on them before I get around to priming them. I thought about trying to do it before I built them, but it’s easier to hold them when they’re assemed. Oh, and I decided to use the disk bases they came with. I still need to figure out how I’m going to base them. Snow? Grass? Rubble? I’ll figure something out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Strahd: Haunted House of Durst

The private thoughts of Zaadia as she finds herself trapped in a haunted house...

Durst Family Mansion
Where the fuck are we?

Yes, haunted house in the middle of nowhere. Got that part. But those mountains over there? They don’t belong there. And where is “Barovia”? And dead kids? And dead pregnant nannies?

This place is seriously messed up. We made it upstairs, and things just got worse and worse. The haunted armor? Sure. The master bedroom with the haunted tiger skin rug? Wasn’t really creepy until we discovered the display case of murder and torture memorabilia in direct line of sight of the bed. That was fucking haunted too.

Most of the time I don’t care what people do in bed together. Or on a tiger skin rug… I know they never washed it. I just know it…

Then we got to meet one of the nannies. Dead of course. And her baby? A bundle of ratty old rags. And her desiccated body was locked out on the balcony.

Bathroom? Haunted, and the dwarf got the shits. Even better was the belladonna, rue, and juniper in the medicine cabinet. Of fucking course there was.

Then one of the ghosts possessed Ember when we tried to go upstairs. I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS. She said it was bad and we shouldn’t go up there.

Kid, I am with you 100%, but we’re all stuck here, maybe FOREVER if we don’t. And I don’t even know where here IS.

The kid was right, it was bad. They were locked in their room until they starved to death. And across the hall? The old storage room where a chunk of the wall and ceiling were missing? Amazingly free of fog. I guess the haunted house at least is keeping that out… and a good thing, as there was a broken window in Gustav's studio, where the creepy paintings of the dead nursemaids sat.

And the broken window? Haunted. Honestly, I was more shocked it wasn’t one (or all) of the paintings. But hey! We found the servant's stairs down to the basement and the family crypt. Ember put the kids bones to rest, and they just kinda… faded out. Checking the crypt of Elizabeth just revealed bugs. I hate bugs. Way too many legs.

Further along and down some more stairs was a weird room… lots of bones, both on the table and all over the floor. And a makeshift altar. We headed back upstairs to decide what to do… I really hope nothing crawls out of the walls… or if it does it brings back my rapier.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The end of G+, the end of Zak?

I started blogging near the end of 2009. The OSR was a small but thriving community of gamers creating some really cool and inventive stuff. Then came 2011 and Google+ and hangouts, and everything changed. Suddenly people were running online old school games with gamers from around the world. G+ became THE place to collaborate on projects, to crowdsource ideas, to share news, to build communities!

And for the most part it was great. While G+ never seemed to catch on among the general population, we gamers kept on doing our thing.

For a good chunk of that time I didn’t have an in person group, and it scratched that itch. In some ways, it was my most productive time as far as new gaming content is concerned. I was coming up with new spells, magic items, monsters, and maps regularly! But as the community grew, and matured (HA!) fractures appeared, and a variety of tempests in a teapot that ROCKED the community (and the rest of the world was completely oblivious to) boiled over.

Zak wasn’t always in the middle of them, but he wasn’t usually far from it. In general, I admired him. He was brash, an ass, and relentless, but he had some creative ideas, and wrote a couple of really useful beautiful books that I’ve used regularly.

There were rumors and accusations, but… it always seemed nebulous. And he had people backing him that I believed. Plus he was being consulted on for 5e and White Wolf’s launch… I figured these guys may have done a background check or something.

Well, I was wrong.

And now, a short time away from the demise of G+, comes this. In some ways the timing is… poetic, coming as it does at the end. Yet it could have, should have happened sooner.

The below is taken from Facebook, shared with permission.

Mandy Morbid
Please feel free to share this widely, on any platform you have.
Dear Zak Smith, aka Zak Sabbath
I know posting anything about you or this publicly will get me labeled “angry”, “crazy” or a “liar”. Despite that, I still need to speak. As a warning, there will be potentially triggering descriptions of abuse, violence and sexual assault to follow.
What I want to convey is my grief. And my shame. There is so much of it. I think when women come forward to talk about their abusers people strip them of their grief. And I am not okay. And I should be angry but I can’t be because the shame is too great. Because the abuse had me taking responsibility for everything and it’s very difficult to stop that after all these years. Everything was always my fault, the problem was me--but it wasn’t.
Eleven years is a long time. I was twenty one when we met in person the first time, and a month later, 22 when I moved in with you. It’s difficult to organize my thoughts about everything that happened, everything that went wrong over a decade.The abuse came in cycles where there were times you seemed to idolize me (in hindsight there was a twisted, sexist, infantilizing angle to the "idolizing" because it was always about my body and not me as a person). There were other times when you tore me down, made lectures that went in circles of manipulation, or fits of rage where you’d scream that I was useless and worthless and slam doors or throw things at the walls. You tore me down to manipulate me, and to get your way.
As time went on you learned you could threaten me in various ways. Killing me if I ever got pregnant and didn’t have an abortion started as a joke but you repeated it so frequently it was clearly a warning. Kick me out if I didn’t want to have as much sex, or lesser reasons.
When we would go out, you would rate the women you were watching, making sure I could hear it. You would see a woman and comment that she was attractive, until you saw she had "small" breasts. Then you would say to me “why do they even make them like that? What’s the point?” As though I automatically would agree with you about a woman’s worth being dictated by the size of her breasts. And how was that supposed to make me feel about myself? You would know that I would not want to start an argument on a nice evening out--finally I was feeling well enough to be out with you and I would ruin it? No. Even in the face of rude or disgusting comments about other women I would stay silent.
I am ashamed. I was often silent because I wanted to keep the peace. To keep you happy. You see, I did know how to make you happy. I am ashamed I did it because I rationalized that was love. You pressured me to find and groom other women sexually. As I grew sicker, and my physical limitations grew, you were more concerned with your own needs than my illness. Eventually, even, you took my doing this for you, and me, for granted.
I saw you mistreat women we were with together, and again I was silent. I choose you over them and I am deeply ashamed. And when it was me who was being mistreated I often didn’t even register it as such because the first time it happened was so traumatic. You told me I wasn’t allowed to stop or say no to sex or fooling around if we’d already initiated it.
I was young and this was during the first few weeks we lived together and no one had ever taught me about consent. You were extraordinarily angry I had stopped, your hands were clenched into fists and they were shaking. I was programmed to accept it, and you always just kept telling me you loved me even if your behaviour never really proved it.
Then you started with the online gaming arguments nonsense, and that put a real crack in our bond. In the beginning I felt genuinely protective of you, my provider, and of course that was my very strong trauma bond. I didn't know better, and I just thought I was caring for the person I loved. Callously, you exposed me to death and rape threats and you then never took the distress this caused me seriously, you were in no way sympathetic to the very real stress these disagreements caused. You enjoyed it. And you gloated over the harm you caused other people. (It was extremely unattractive.) You just used those threats we received as an excuse, used me and my marginalized identities as shields in your continuing misbehaviour online.
That Tumblr post defending you was posted in my name, but you were the one who wrote it. The long one you always referred people to. I feel more shame that I let you use my name, my identity in that way. I feel shame that when people noticed it probably wasn't written by me, we called them sexist. After that Tumblr post I told you I was done being involved in any of your arguments online. You really didn’t like that. You forever afterwards accused me of “never saying anything” when you were dealing with the shit you’d stirred up.
I am so ashamed you let me get dragged into your awful trolling behaviour. One time you had a screaming/throwing fit at me (“useless,” “worthless,” “no one cares about me”) because I didn’t want to retweet something to a big gaming company you were mad at. This was all abuse. That you continue to behave so badly online disgusts me, and I am ashamed that I helped you to hurt or damage others online. I am sorry that I have contributed to the abuse, and I am ashamed that your abuse pushed me to think that it was okay to do.
This behavior is what created the cracks in the narcissistic façade that you built up for me. Seeing the behavior that you normally directed towards me being directed towards others started to open my eyes towards what you were doing to me.
It was then that I slowly began to reassess how you treated me. This process started very slowly as I was extremely ill. And needed to focus on my health and I couldn’t shake my life up too dramatically.
Over the next two or three years my faith and trust in you completely failed. You let me down over and over. And I came to terms with the fact that I had been a trophy wife all along, an object that was owned, not a respected or loved partner. Towards the end you weren’t even trying to keep that mask you wore in the beginning on you were just straight up cruel and cold and abusive and there were no reprieves of loving or sweet acts, it was all gaslighting and narcissism gone unchecked. And there was a lot of my grief and shame at that time. Because I tried so hard to make it work anyway.
I thought if I loved harder, if I loved more I could save us but it was futile because you were already done with someone who wasn’t spending all their energy on living to please you as I’d formerly done.
I’ve grown up. I want to live my life for me. My values and morales don’t align with yours--I’m ashamed I was complicit in your misogyny and supportive of your online abuse (whatever my reasons).
I only began to register the pain and damage done to me by this relationship in the last year we were together and in the year and half since I’ve left. I have PTSD. I am doing my best to focus on healing, and since leaving both my mental and physical health have improved. I’m not okay yet, but I am improved. People can see the difference in photos. Rebuilding a life after a decade of trauma takes time but I will get there.
After this I am including statements about Zak from Jennifer, a long time friend and lover of Zak’s and mine and Hannah who was also involved with us and lived with us briefly. Jennifer was spending time with Zak before Zak and I met, and Hannah was assaulted by Zak.
CW description of sexual assault
Jennifer’s post was originally posted to her facebook and she’s given me permission to reshare it here:
Hey guys, this is a heads up for anyone who is friends with Zak Smith or likes his page. This is somewhat out of the blue but he's been posting more in the past year or so and I keep seeing some of you interact with him or just liking his posts, and thinking: You wouldn't be doing that if you knew him better.
To get to the point: While he comes across as a fun person who is super cool with everything and leads such a compelling and interesting life, and I considered him a good friend for a significant amount of time, he's also someone who has habitually abused and assaulted women. He talks negatively about them when they're not around, and also says really degrading things to their faces. He will aggressively pursue sex and rely on the fact that most women are hesitant to reject a man in a quasi-sexual situation due to safety concerns and social conditioning. Especially when he has presented himself as caring and trustworthy. But I've also seen him physically take women and start fucking them, ignoring their lack of enthusiasm or freeze of shock. He will navigate kink spaces and take someone's presence there, of general involvement in bdsm as implied consent to assualt them. And he is fully aware of what he does, he has described a sexual encounter to me as, I quote, "raping a 12-year-old". The person in question was not underage, but so massively uncomfortable that this was his most apt description. It didn't make him stop.
He's really good at being so blasé about everthing that you doubt what happened or compartmentalize it, then move on. He's also good at talking the talk and walking the walk of being the progressive liberal artist and author who is just so open about having done porn and living his sexuality uninhibited by social norms or whatever. He can be pretty manipulative and resorts to gaslighting.
This post might seem unnecessary at best, and like slander at worst. Especially considering I haven't even personally seen him since god knows when. It's based on my own experiences with him, some dating as far back as 2005, and the fact that almost every mutual female friend has similar experiences, up to this day. Ultimately I've seen him do so much fucked up shit that when I hear anything by another woman I immediately believe them without a shadow of a doubt. And yes, I'm ashamed I didn't speak up sooner. Often things only start falling into place after time passes and you see things for what they are, and when they are confirmed by others who have had similar experiences. By the time I really fully grasped the magnitude, being vocal would have meant intruding on and hurting people who didn't deserve it, with little discernable good to come out of it.
Basically if you know me and trust me, believe me and maybe reconsider your support of him and his art. Besides that I'm not asking you to do anything. And I don't benefit from any sort of outcome in any way.
I'm posting this to a curated audience; if you see this I trust you to at least not create drama. If you don't believe me, I guess just ignore this post? Although I'd prefer if you removed yourself from my list then too. I don't want this to reach him because I don't want to deal with the fallout. I want people to know this to make a better informed decision about who they associate with. The last I heard of him was a few months ago, after he saw that a friend had confided in me about him, and he slid into my inbox with some disingenious bullshit about how sad he was about that situation, trying to influence my opinion. I ignored it. If something like that happens again I will obviously know that someone on this list blabbed and will pretty much delete and block anyone it could have been. Please don't make me deal with all that trouble. Thank you.
And here is Hannah’s account:
Back when I first knew them, I lauded Manda and Zak as a perfect couple. I would see them only once every few years, and when I was with them, they seemed happy. It wasn't until I was with them for an extended period of time that I thought things seemed off. I used to take Zak's general demeanor towards women as joking. Eg, "if I talk to my girlfriend and her friend about their feelings, will I get a threesome out of it?" But now I think that's how Zak actually feels. At first when I kept hearing him say the phrase "chin up" to Manda, I thought he was just telling her to stay positive, but in actuality he didn't like it when she had a tiny double chin when looking down. (Like all humans at that angle.) He also told her things like "You don't need glasses, its more important for you to be pretty than it is to see" and "If you can't even have sex, what good are you?" It was not a joke. For a long time I tried to see the good in him, and hoped that he would change his behaviours once Manda confronted him about them, but he didn't seem to understand that he had done anything wrong. She told him she felt more like a doll than a human, outlined what things had upset her, and wanted to work towards a better relationship. He acted ignorant about things he had said or done, and then threatened people when anyone talked about him. (Which is why I was afraid to write this for a long time. I still am.) There was also a strange incident when we were first hanging out together during which he asked if I was into kinky stuff, to which I replied yes. He proceeded to slap me and choke me against a wall, in public. Now, in a bedroom setting, with clear boundaries and consent, it would have been fine, but out of the blue and in public, it was not okay at all. Years later, I mentioned this to a mutual friend as something that made my uncomfortable, and when Zak found out he made a half-hearted apology attempt. I don't think he actually felt bad, I think he just didn't want me to tell anyone else. I tried to stay friends with both of them for a little while, but after hearing more about what he said/did to Manda, I couldn't keep him in my life anymore. She is one of my best friends and one of the sweetest people I know. I don't understand people who say they "can't take sides" on something like this.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Red Carpet Premiere

I attended the Star Trek Discovery season 2 premiere at Battery Park. I signed up for what I thought I was getting was to see the first episode of the season on the big movie theater screen for free…

What I got what the whole friggin Red Carpet with the cast and directors and composer, swag bag, signed poster, and episode one AND two!

And if I’d have signed up for the 8pm show instead of the 6:30 show, all I’d have gotten was to see the cast briefly, and the first episode.

It was SO MUCH FUN!!

And best of all, the first 2 episodes were great. Seriously well written TV (I only have minor quibbles) and it was so much better than the first 2 episodes of The Orville’s second season... but that's a post for next week...