Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Star Wars Re-Review: Rogue One

I originally reviewed Rogue One back in 2016. You can click here to read that review.



Taking the time to go back through the galaxy spanning saga that is Star Wars, this is the movie that I find myself returning to. Is it weird that my favorite movie is one that doesn't focus on the Skywalkers?

I only barely touched on Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang as Chirrut Îmwe and Blaze in my previous review, which is a crime. These two brought so much to the movie. And sure, they were the stand ins for the Jedi, but given the focus on the Kyber Crystals, it makes sense. Given what's been shown of the Jedi Order in the movies, it's nice seeing others with Force connections. And yes, there's Finn, who is clearly force sensitive, if not yet a force user, but here in Rogue One we have 2 very different force users. Blaze with his heavy blaster cannon and broken faith and his friend Jiang, blind but so connected to the force that he can take on an entire squad of storm troopers with just his staff or shoot a tie fighters out of the air with his blaster bow.

We see these two adrift, their temple raped, their order destroyed, and the boot of the empire crushing all beneath it. Like everyone else in this movie, the inexorable crushing machine that is the empire is rolling over them, pushing them to the brink, and this movie is about how some individuals choose to face it, knowing the odds.

It isn't a perfect movie, but it is good in spite of some of the storytelling flaws, and carried by some excellent acting from some excellent actors. And in the final analysis, I think that this may be the best Star Wars movie so far.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Happy Towel Day!

Just because we're all dealing with the pandemic, and not really going out, doesn't mean you shouldn't know where your towel is!


Happy Towel Day!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Balticon 54

2020 is really the year that wasn't. Basically everything is being canceled and replaced with virtual options. Conventions are really no exception. On the upside, they're mostly free.

So this weekend I'll be attending Balticon.

"Attending"


But all the usual favorites will be hosted, an I'm looking forward to tonight's discussion on the news out of the Trek-verse, the Dinosaur Update, and the Short Film Festival.

Gonna check out the virtual dealers room and artist's alley too.

It's crappy that we can't all get together in person, but at least we have this.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Retro Review: Revenge of the Sith

Apparently I got my posting order wrong, and posted Solo before this. Ah well...



We all know where this is going, where it has to go... how it has to end.



One of the downsides of doing direct prequels is that the story has to end up where you know it will, and because we know who the key players are, we know who lives, and who dies, though we might not know exactly the route taken to get there.

For example, how does Padme die? How are the Jedi killed off? How does Luke end up on Tatooine, while Leia ends up on Alderaan?

Episode III continues to suffer from much that plagued Episodes I and II, namely the terrible dialogue (which leads to flat performances), and an over reliance on CGI. So little of the prequels feels real in the way things felt real in the original trilogy largely because they aren't real. There's nothing there for the actors to see, to interact with. Green screens and characters that aren't really there make for a boring performance.

But I do have to give the CGI artists props for their work. It is all very grandiose, appropriately visually stunning as a good space opera should be. I just wish more of it had been real. Thankfully this is a lesson that the later movies and shows are taking into account, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Chancellor Palpatine has played everyone, from the Jedi Council to the Senate to the Separatists... and as he corrupts Anakin rather blatantly, playing on his fears of Padme's death in childbirth, he admits to being the sith lord, and then waits for the Jedi to come to him. Serious power move on his part. Anakin's fall is possibly the best bit of acting Hayden Christensen performs in the movies. At least it's the first bit I actually believed.

Kenobi's heart break also felt real. When he watched the security footage of Anakin killing the younglings? When they crossed sabres on Mustafar, when he left him for dead... I believed that too.

One of the worst parts of the movie, and the one that gets brought up regularly (and deservedly) is Padme's dying of a broken heart. But did she? Palpatine couldn't let her live. Did he kill her? Honestly, that seems much more likely... I wish the idea was better supported in the movie though.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Stonehell: Karl Returns.... with a BANG!

Session 129 was played on 3/22

The Return of Karl - One upside to everyone being stuck at home is the return of old players and their characters to the dungeon…

Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Alwin, Elf 2 (Robert)
Boris, Cleric 2 (Jeff)
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

While in the market hiring some new meatshields, a drunk dwarf stumbles up to them and hugs Borumar. Startled, Borumar awkwardly hugs back asking Karl what’s up. He replies he’s going to stonehell with them… The rest of the party watches confused…

Gathering their supplies, they head down to the hothouse. At the bottom of the stairs to the pump room, they see a bunch of mushroom folk. The party takes some ranged shots at them, but then Karl pulls out a “nate-bomb” and chucks it at the mushrooms from the back of the party…

And rolls a 1.

ka-BOOOOM!!

The burned party grabs who they can, and runs for the exit. The mushroom folk don’t follow.

On the way out, a troop of berzerkers is heading toward the party. Borumar, not wanting to take any chances, activates his magical war mammoth, and sends it charging down the hall.

Exiting the dungeon, they make it back to town and heal up.

Karl apologises.

With some down time, the party reviews their maps, and the clues they’ve found, and heads back to the dungeon, aiming for 2C, fight some giant bees, strip off their armor to pass through the electrical field, redress, hurry up to the Asylum, passing speedily through the mad mural hall around to the talking mushrooms, and then down to the Dorm. They fight some shadows and retrieve the treasure from their earlier victims, then continue into the northeastern side of the hothouse.

Gains: Assorted coinage, magical throwing hammer.
Kills: shadows, mushroom folk, giant bees, berzerkers
Losses: Goober the dog, Rolestad the linkman, Holden the giant rat

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Review: Neverland: The Impossible Island

While D&D is very often somewhat jokingly described as being able to play as Gandalf and Conan and go on adventures together, there's a large grain of truth to it. The stories, the movies, the fairy tales that we grew up watching and reading directly impact what we want and expect to see and do when we sit down to play. So often though the stories that are told in children's books are ignored in favor of of more "adult" tales.

Which is silly. There are amazing stories that can be told from children's literature. Sometimes what you need is a little bit of fairy dust, and a guide to help you find the way.

Neverland: The Impossible Island is one such guide.



It would be easy to do a copy/paste of Peter Pan, slap some stats on a few key things, and call it a day. The author does so much more than that. Taking the original source material, and looking at it through not only a lens of what would be fun to play, but also tweaking and updating the source material to better fit modern sensibilities.

Yes, that means there aren't racist native american caricatures to be found here.

We can all admit this was trash, okay?

Instead, you get several interesting factions of island inhabitants, descriptions of various locations, and of course stats for important characters, including Pan, Hook, Smee, and the Croc. Interestingly no stats for Wendy or Lilly... But they do get a write up.

One of the things I most enjoy about Neverland are the figments. The creatures of the island aren't natural, and are created from the bits and pieces of the inhabitant's imaginations. There's a fun and infinitely expandable chart for creating simple figments, but as they're literally creatures of the imagination, there's no limit to what you can come up with.

If you've ever been interested in adding a bit of fairy dust to your game, it's worth the suggested price of admission (though it's PWYW) to pick up Neverland: The Impossible Island.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stonehell: Hothouse Dorms

Session 128 was played on 3/19

Due to the Coronavirus we’ve added a second weekly session to the game. Which means I'm even more behind on my session reports!

Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 6 (Chris)
Alwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Boris, Cleric 1 (Jeff)
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

In town, the alchemist’s guild’s entrance exam was making healing potions, and the extras were sold off to the public at less than their usual rate. All 9 potions were bought by the party.

On the way to the dungeon, they’re spotted by the dragon flying overhead. Thankfully they’re near to the hobgoblin caves, and make a run for it. The dragon follows them over head, and takes a potshot at them while Borumar takes aim from the cave mouth. Both attacks hit, and both are hurting.

Down to the hothouse, the party begins exploring the southern bunch of dorms, finding giant ticks, giant slugs, and a massive plant with grabbing roots and an oversized bite. In the middle of all this Joho decided to try on some leather lederhosen that wasn’t too moldy. While he literally had them down around his ankles is when the slugs showed up. Rolestad needed one of the healing potions that the party bought due to the slugs acidic spit. Sadly there was a distinct lack of treasure to be found, aside from some odds and ends that weren’t worth much.

The party returned to town with little to show for their efforts.

Gains:
Kills: Giant slugs, giant ticks, and one big octoplant
Losses:

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Star Wars Re-Review: Solo

2 years ago, I watched Solo: A Star Wars Story, and then wrote about it here.



Watching it again, my feelings are much as they were before. This was a completely unnecessary film that was still a blast to watch. I really appreciated more this time all the little touches on the Corellia shipyards that I missed the first time around. The stack of partly assembled Tie fighters in frames ready for shipping? It helps make everything feel more connected. More real. Like the Empire really is a massive force that takes over everyone's life in some way, shape, or form.

Plus Han grubbing around in the mud like some poor trooper? Captured that feeling of war from the perspective of someone too smart to be in one and charging for that next muddy hill without a good reason.

And as before, I'm still mourning the fact that we haven't gotten a Lando movie after this... We've seriously been robbed.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Stonehell: Legal Issues and Conference Rooms

Session 127 was played on 3/15

Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 6 (Chris)
Alwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

Joho begins the session looking for healing potions, and when he can’t find any, looking for drugs. He ends up buying some from an undercover constable, and is brought before the court. It’s explained to him that he must convince a jury that it wasn’t a giant wolf spider (stand in for Joho) that was trying to buy the drugs, but entrapment by the horse (stand in for the cops). Joho, utilizing a new ability, speaks to both the spider and the horse, and convinces them to play along. The horse pushes away from it’s handlers and goes right for the drugs. The spider stays unusually quiet. Joho is found not guilty. The horse goes back to police work, and the spider is sent to the fighting pits.

Grabbing Joho before he can get into any more trouble, the party heads to the dungeon. In through the hobgoblin caves, they head to the west, then down into the hothouse. Exploring a new section they find a peaceful old shrine, but while they’re there, a trio of giant spiders readys an assault. Joho is bitten, and begins to shake and undulate, and Boris is weirdly overcome with the same shaking in spite of not being bitten by the spiders. Even after the spiders are killed, the pair of them continue to twitch. Holing up in the shrine, the party waits it out....

After 2 hours, the shaking stops… but they’re so exhausted that they collapse into a deep sleep.

17 hours later, they finally awake.

Resuming exploring they find an old conference room, untouched by the water and dirt and plants. And within a hollowed leg of the table that dominates the floor, a stash of coins and a potion of treasure finding! They also take the boring landscape from the wall.

Heading out, they’re set upon by 2 giant bees as they reach the second level. The bees are quickly killed, and the party makes it back to town.

Gains: potion of treasure finding, minor coins, large but boring landscape.
Kills: Giant bees, giant spiders
Losses:

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday Inspirational Image: Left in the Dark


by Shue13

I've been watching a lot of Star Wars, and this seems like the sort of place that a good Star Wars campaign might start off in.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Star Wars Retro Review: Attack of the Clones

Episode II: Not as bad as Episode I, right? Well... maybe?



Here's the thing... no one in these movies is a bad actor, but the force preserve us, they had some bad direction.

And look, I get it, Anakin is supposed to have flaws that Palpatine uses against him, uses to turn him to the dark side, but... What a whiny little brat. Kenobi is kinda obnoxious, Padme is... just... it was all painful, ok, and instead of a cool sith lord like Maul, we got an old dude.

Okay, yes, the old dude just happened to be Christopher Lee, and he worked it for what it was worth, and yeah, he got a LOT more to work with than Maul did. But I'm still bummed that Maul got so little when he deserved so much more.

And you can see that they're trying to address the shortcomings of Episode I, but... I don't know, it just lacks something that, for all that was wrong with it, Phantom Menace managed to capture.

Not helping things is the fact that the Jedi council is just blind and dumb for all they attempt to be wise and all knowing.

On the other hand, there were lots of cool ships, laser swords, big battles, and I have to admit the whole Clone Army was kinda great. (Again, the Jedi are so dumb...)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Stonehell: Ivan's Terrible No Good Very Bad Delve

Session 126 was played on 3/8

Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Alwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Ivan the Terribad, Cleric 2 (Jeff)
Men at Arms -
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

Entering the teleportation chamber, the party presses the glyph, and suddenly there’s a different door on the chamber. Pulling the level, the metal iris opens, revealing a small room lined with similar irises. Thinking that each one goes down one level, they try the one that should (if that theory is correct) bring them down one level from the second…

Taking that teleporter they step out… into the medusa’s lair on the 3rd level! As only Borumar had been here before, the party explores around, seeing if anything has moved in since the medusa was killed. Sadly they discovered a giant pit trap… and Ivan falls in and to his death next to the corpse of a plated ape. Joho retrives Ivan’s body, and the party heads for the surface.

On the way back to town they stumble upon a pair of merchant wagons being harassed from the bushes by gnomes. Avoiding the encounter, they return to town to find that a young priest named Boris has been tending to the sick, which is timely as a sickness has been spreading around the poorer parts of town.

Gains:
Kills:
Losses: Ivan

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Stonehell: Random Treasures

Session 125 was played on 3/1

Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Alwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Ivan the Terribad, Cleric 2 (Jeff)
Men at Arms -
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

The party stocks up on silver weapons, then heads to the dungeon, planning on checking out the teleportation chamber in level 2. Through the main entrance, they’re quickly stopped by troblins, who lead the party to Zunbar the Troll soaking in a shallow pool. He wants spicy fruit from the hothouse.

Deeper into level 1 they’re set upon first by some crab spiders, then some fire beetles.

Making it down to the second level of the dungeon they encounter a bunch of skeletons, but Elwood turns them. Near the teleportation chamber they’re attacked by stirges, which are quickly put down. In the bloodsucker’s nest they discover a golfball sized diamond! Rather then flee with this mighty treasure, they head to the teleportation chamber…

Gains: Diamond, fire beetle glands
Kills: crab spiders, skeletons, fire beetles, stirges,
Losses:



That random gem table can make some wild results!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

April in Review: Pandemic Edition

Work has been kicking my ass this month. Between year end and audit prep, and a monster of a project, it’s just… Uff. Plus, you know, the pandemic that’s making everyone miserable.

My birthday was nice, if weird. It stank not being able to get together with friends, and go out for a good meal.

Gaming
Stonehell is cruising along. My players have found 3 big treasures recently, and I have no idea what their next move is going to be. So far they’re just filling in the map down on level 4A. I’ve got a bunch of session reports written and ready to post, so you’ve got a bunch of reading to catch up on everything.

Miniatures
So, I made Kornovik the Outcast, and I’m really happy with how he turned out. I haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of him in his nearly done state. I just need to add a bit of grass and snow to his base, then he’s done.

The Battlefleet Gothic ships I got in, I’ve been speeding through. At this point, I’m nearly done with them. They’ve been a joy to paint.

I also knocked out some flying magitech monkeys, a Brain in a Jar, and an Iron Golem. Quick and easy paint jobs.

After the BFG ships I’m gonna paint some Maggotcrown Ogre Juggernauts, and… I don’t know what else.

Oh, and I built and painted a couple of outhouses.


Media

Movies/TV Watched

Star Wars The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Attack of the Clones
The Three Musketeers (90’s version)
A whole bunch of Parks & Rec
Pride and Prejudice (also the 90’s version)

Goals
Finish the BFG ships
Catch up on Stonehell session reports
Survive the pandemic

Monday, May 4, 2020

May the Fourth Be With You



In celebration of Star Wars day, I'll be watching Revenge of the Sith tonight!

What's your favorite Star Wars ship?

Mine is the Ghtroc light freighter, cause one of my old characters had one!


Thursday, April 30, 2020

Stonehell: a-maze-ing adventures!

A special retro post today. It was pointed out to me by one of my players that I somehow missed posting this session report! Thankfully I have them all in one big google doc. Enjoy!


Session 73 was played on 7/22

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Alias the Elf, Eddard “Sunny Jim”)
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 (Modar)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris)
- men at arms (Medrick)

Still in the maze, the party decides that the remaining glowing runes need to be checked. A-A Ron disappears and Medrick ends up crushed by a falling block, Then Karl reappears, loaded down with treasure. Koltic’s rune opens the maze doors. And Eiric and the rest of the party come in and Eiric sobs at the death of A-A-Ron, and gathers some of the dust from the spot where he vanished. A-A-Ron returns a few minutes later, also with treasure. Eiric again cries with relief. Deciding that that’s enough of that, the party opts to return to town.

Getting out of the dungeon isn’t easy, and they stumble on a squad of heartless, who scare Brie, A-A-Ron, Koltic, and Mordar who all run. Rather than face the heartless, the rest of the party chases after them. While running they’re set upon by 2 spectres. Daryll turns one, and the other is chopped down by Orpheus and Lex.

Almost out of the dungeon, they’re then swarmed by over a dozen giant rats, and while they take several minor bites, no one suffers any lasting illness.

Back in town, the sword and other magics are identified. A-A-Ron takes the sword Slider from Karl, and the sword is happier with the change. Among the treasures recovered was a map to a new section of the dungeon…

Eiric and Brie study the runes from the spell chambers, continue their research on developing the spell Darkvision, and go shopping for some real estate.

Gains: Coinage, map, and a scroll
Kills: Giant Rats, Spectres
Losses:

Friday, April 24, 2020

Stonehell: Roc and a Hard Place

Session 124 was played on 2/23

Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Alwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Men at Arms - Janus
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

In town, Joho finds a sage who specializes in Cockatrices, and gets the run down on them, and purchases a scroll of Flesh to Stone.

The party gears up and heads to the side dungeon, looking to explore some more, and quickly run into a trio of wights. Elwood drops quickly in the fight, followed by Janus, but then the wights are dropped. Elwood has a healing potion forced down his throat, but Janus is gone. The wights had some treasure, both coins, gems, and magic!

Deciding they’d recovered enough to make it worth heading back to town, they departed the dungeon, and hit the road…

But then a shadow passed overhead. The dragon? No! A giant bird swooping down. With barely any time to react, Daton tosses a javelin, striking a mighty blow, but not enough to stop it from grabbing Borumar and pulling him into the sky! Borumar struggles in the bird's grip, pulling his bow around and firing a magical arrow point blank, killing the bird… 90 feet up.

Somehow he survived the fall. Crashing through numerous branches slowed his fall… After recovering himself, Borumar activated his magical elephant and the party returns to the city not only with the treasure from the dungeon, but with the carcass of the young roc!

In town, Daton threw a wild garden party, at which he was challenged to a duel by Braxton the claw to avenge her brother’s honor. Daton assured her that she has the wrong person, but she refused to back down, and in the brief duel, she was quickly cut down.

Gains: Coins, gems, and magic!
Kills: Roc, Wights
Losses: Janus

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Retro Review: The Phantom Menace

I recently got Disney+, because why not. We're living in a pandemic, and it isn't like I can go out for a fun night on the town. And they've got the Star Wars movies, and since I'm going to be stuck inside for a while, why not watch them all? It's been a long time since I've seen most of them, especially the prequels, even though I listen to the soundtracks pretty often.

So, Episode I:

The Phantom Menace.


Everyone remembers how bad this is, right?

Well... maybe not as bad as you remember.

And look, I'm not saying it's GOOD. It has some good stuff in it, but... a trade blockade? Senate maneuverings? This isn't exactly exciting stuff to be basing an action adventure movie around. And yes, the performances are a little wooden, and the dialogue is kinda painful, and yes midichlorians.

We don't even need to get into the racism. Others have covered it way better than I ever could.

I get it. I could honestly fill several blog posts with criticism. But it's all been said, and it all overshadows the fact that there is a lot to enjoy in The Phantom Menace.

You get some amazing jedi action, fun call backs to the original trilogy, the pod race is actually kinda fun, and the music is amazing. Droid armies are cool, getting to see Coruscant, bounty hunters, death sticks, air speeders, the jedi council, slightly younger yoda, Darth Maul!! While criminally under utilized, Darth Maul was great, and anyone who says they didn't want a double ended lightsaber is LYING.


I really do with that George Lucas could have had someone on staff to help clean it up though, and maybe someone else direct it.

It was also built up with such hype that it couldn't have ever lived up to it. Look at what happened with Episodes 7-9.

Episode 1 isn't a great Star Wars movie... but it's an okay one. Give it another shot when you get the chance. There's some stuff to celebrate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Stonehell: Swamp Gas.... again...

Session 123 was played on 2/16

Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Faerindril , Elf 2 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Men at Arms - Halghild, Janus
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

Entering the reptile house, the party investigated several chambers before coming to a room with 3 angry and aggressive toads. The creatures were quickly but noisily dispatched. The fight attracted the attention of some equally angry and aggressive berzerkers. 2 were killed, and 1 charmed by Faerendril. The party, with their new barbarian friend, continues exploring.

"There's a note on the map for that door... can anyone read that?"

Then they opened the swamp gas door… Faerendril dies. Joho, Daton, and the barbarian cough themselves bloody, but survive.

The party flees back to town.

Gains: minor coinage
Kills: 3 toads, 2 berzerkers
Losses: Faerindril

Friday, April 10, 2020

Outhouses

Sometimes I find that I'm just not in the mood to work on whatever it is that's on my tray, and I just want something silly and fun and simple that I can knock together in an evening. Wednesday night was one of those nights. I'm in the middle... near the end of a big project that I haven't showed off yet, and I just knew that if I tried to work on it, I'd mess it up. So I went digging, figuring I'd paint up something stupidly simple. A terrain bit or something. And then I saw it...

4Ground Thunder Box Privies.

This simple little kit will work well in any village. I only had one frame (2 outhouses) and I decided that since they come with one that can be broken and one intact (or they can be built together each with broken bits) that I'd make one completely intact one, and another that's almost totally ruined.



Following the instructions was easy, and the bits fit together without too much fuss. After I'd done the major assembly, I decided that the ruined one needed its own base, and a lot more rubble. Using the frame, I chopped out a bunch more sticks and chunks... Honestly, there's way more ruined bits than could have come from the outhouse. I like it though.



They're supposed to be "pre-painted" according to the site, but I'm going to repaint them. Also still need to do basing for the ruined one. Tempted to have a bush growing out of the hole...

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Stonehell: A whiter shade of pale

Session 122 was played on 2/9

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Faerindril , Elf 2 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Elwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Men at Arms - Halghild, Janus
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

Returning to the Asylum the party spends some time investigating the stick figures that are now animated. Little that the party did seemed to have much effect.

Moving in, they begin investigating various chambers, including one decorated with a large variety of humanoid bones, including a chandelier made of skulls. While investigating it, the chandelier crashes to the ground, sending skulls bouncing all over the room.

Investigating around where “spear trap” was marked on their map, they explore around and come to an odd sight… a small stream flowing through a room, with a low hill on one side covered with mushrooms. Next to the stream was a small fire pit, cast iron frying pan, and a bowl of eggs. The mushrooms urged everyone to grab a seat and make a mushroom omelette. Joho skips the eggs, and just nibbles on one of the mushrooms.


He feels kinda relaxed, and hears some music. The rest of the party waves goodbye to the mushrooms, and drags Joho away.

The next room they come to, they find some fairies drinking in an old store room. The fairies hide (badly) and the rest of the party just ignores them while searching the room, finding a peg leg, and 4 left shoes.

Further down the hall, they hear weird animal noises, and the smell of musk fills the air. Quickly peeking through the door, they see an orgy of fey creatures. The party NOPES away from that.

Through another door they find a wooded glade, with a small cabin. The sky was clear, and the stars sparkled. Candle light spilled through the window. Faerendril looked through the window, just as the door opened and a young woman stepped out, yelling about the pervert trespassing on her property. She tells everyone to get out and not come back without a proper gift.

The next chamber they come to has a well, and as the party pokes around, an arm of water comes out and whips the party, but the party’s few magic weapons seem to kill it. In the well, they collect some gold and a rusted dagger.

Another door opens into a mountain top where a blizzard seemed to be blowing. They quickly shoved the door shut.

Deciding the Asylum was crazy enough, they headed for the Reptile House...

Gains: 200gp
Kills: Water Weird
Losses:

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Happy First Contact Day!

While I haven't written a review, I have finished Star Trek Picard, and it was great!


And because we're all stuck inside, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. You can watch it all for free! CBS All Access is available for free for the next 2 months! Go check it out!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

March in Review: Pandemic Edition

So a global pandemic has an impressive way of derailing things, doesn't it? I suppose the biggest changes are that I'm working from home on a shortened schedule, and the CPA exam was canceled. As you can imagine, this has created some extra time in my schedule, and because I wasn't doing a great job of handling the stress of the exam on top of everything else going on, I've hit pause on my studies. To that end, I've actually gotten in some hobby time.

Gaming
Thankfully Stonehell has been a virtual game since I moved to NYC, so things have continued there. I'm behind on my session reports, and we've added an extra session for the duration of the pandemic. Plus some of the players who dropped out because of life, suddenly find themselves with free time, and have rejoined! That's right, Karl and Kili are back!

Expect a bunch of session reports this upcoming month!

Miniatures
Oh, there have been some minis painted! Rats, witches, plague doctors, and a ranger of shadow deep! And more coming... I need to write up posts on them. Part one on the witches is already up.

Aside from them, I just got on what's up for the project after next.

That's right, I ordered some 3D printed ships for Battlefleet Gothic!

But before I get to them, I'm going to be working on converting Kornovik the Outcast from Frostgrave Forgotten Pacts.

I don't have this mini, so I'm making him!

Media
TV/Movies

Star Trek Picard just wrapped up season 1, and it was GOOD! I'm very happy with it. It wasn't perfect, and I have a few quibbles, but overall I'm happy.
The Winners - a chinese movie about a bank robbery. Very funny and sweet.

Music
Delta Rae released The Light, which just charted at #45 on the Billboard alternative chart. Definitely worth the listen, especially when things seem so dark.
Dropkick Murphys did a livestream concert on St. Patrick's Day - Streaming Up From Boston.

Goals
Survive the global pandemic
Post more
Convert and paint Kornovik
Work on my new BFG ships.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Frostgrave is FREE!

Since we're all stuck inside, Osprey and Joseph McCullough have decided to release the core rules and 2 supplements for free.


So click on over and pick it up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Witches in Sensible Shoes (part 1)

Technically only one of these is a witch... but they all seemed to sort of fit together, and I wanted something to work on that was... kinda witchy. Oathsworn's human witch, firbog druid, and tiefling mage.

After a good scrub, I primed them with Reaper's Brush On Primer.


I'm aiming for an autumnal color scheme. I don't actually know what color firbogs are supposed to be, but I thought she'd look good in yellow.


The witch had to be a redhead, and the tiefling just had to be red skinned. Kinda getting a Winifred Sanderson vibe from her. I haven't decided what color her top is going to be, but I'm liking the skirt in orange. Maybe purple?


More to come!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Stonehell: Insanity in the Asylum

Session 121 was played on 2/2

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Faerindril , Elf 2 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Men at Arms - Halghild, Janus
Torchbearers - Rolestad
Wardog - Captain Morgan
Elwood, Cleric 1 (NPC)

After taking on some new hirlings and a Cleric of the God of Patience, the party did some shopping, and then headed out to the dungeon. Taking the main entrance, they circle around and down to the asylum, and carefully back to where Demitri fell. His body was still there, what was left if it. The only thing holding the paste that was Demitri together was the armor, which survived mostly intact, with only a few needles embedded in it. They bagged the goo and the armor to return it to the city.

Moving deeper into the asylum, they came to a wide hall with murals that moved… a large crowd of people of all races, many of them fantastical. This seemed to warp the minds of about half the party who either attacked the walls or their fellows. The rest of the party dragged the insane ones away from the walls, and back to where the jam of demitri stained the floor. Then the zombies arrived, and were quickly put down.

Deciding that this was enough, they headed back to town, giving Demitri a proper burial (and sending the armor for a cleaning)

Gains:
Kills: Zombies
Losses:

Monday, March 16, 2020

Stonehell: Dimetri & the Dragon

Session 120 was played on 1/26

Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 2 (Jay)
Elwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Men at Arms - Halghild, Carmyr

On the way to Stonehell, the party encounters a merchant caravan looking nervously about, and hurrying to the City. They offer to accompany it, and they successfully do, earning 6gp each. Over paid for the work, but the party looked more impressive than they actually are.

Back toward the dungeon, the party decides to check out some of the caves, but as they’re deciding what caves to check out, the shadow of a dragon flying overhead passes over them. They run for the nearest cave, and hope that they weren’t spotted. Looking around the chamber they find themselves in, a soft glow flickers ahead. Moving deeper into the darkness they see a message written in glowing chalk

R- As agreed, the jewels await you two levels down in the chamber past the acolytes’ cells. How you deal with the wasps is your own concern! -M

Then things get even darker as the dragon lands and blocks the sun. It taunts them, and tells them to come out and play. The party opts NOT to go out and play, and heads deeper into the chambers. The dragon follows, talking all the while… the party reaches a room with no other obvious exit. They flank the doorway as the dragon approaches… the dragon is still talking… only.. Not talking.

Casting Sleep!

Daton, Halghild, Carmyr fall unconscious to the floor. The dragon chuckles at the sound of the dropping bodies, and moves forward, sticking his head through the doorway. Elwin and Demitri bring their weapons down on the dragon’s snout. It screams in pain, then tries to cast another spell, but Demitri passes his save. The dragon pulls back out of the doorway, and can be heard shuffling backward down the hall.

Elwin and Dimetri wake their friends, and then wait, listening for the dragon’s return. After what feels like forever they leave the chamber, and continue their exploration, keeping one eye out for the dragon’s return. A side chamber is inhabited by a fire beetle, that is slain, and the glowing glands harvested.

Exiting the side cave, they creep out of the shadow of the box canyon, their eyes scanning the cliff sides and the sky, but the dragon is nowhere to be seen. They hurry to the dungeon entrance, and Dimetri and Elwin add their names to the many already scribed onto the wall.

Heading through the antechamber, they make their way down around toward the stairs. Carmyr triggers a pit trap, breaking his neck in the process. The party pulls the body from the trap, but continue on their way. Down in the Asylum the stick figures going about their business all stop and look at the party as they pass. The skeleton in the hallways waves as they pass… Things seem different from the stories the party has heard of this area of the dungeon.

Then they hear a metallic buzz. Into their torchlight a humanoid figure… floats? As it comes more fully into their sight, it looks fuzzy, blurry, out of focus. Dimetri tries to turn it, and it doesn’t react. Elwin and Halghild flee in terror. Daton backs up. “Help me” it buzzes.

“How” Dimetri asks, before it surges forward, engulfing the poor cleric. Daton watches in horror as the cloud of needles that makes up this horrible monster liquifies his friend, and then Daton runs after Elwin, catching up with them at the top of the stairs. They decide to get Carmyr’s body and get out, and decide to come back for Dimetri later.


Gains: Fire Beetle gland
Kills: Fire Beetle,
Losses: Carmyr, Dimetri

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Stonehell: Spellspiders

Session 119 was played on 1/19

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 3 (Jeff)

While putzing about town, and debating returning to the smoking dungeon, word spreads that Kallo and Drolo recruited their own hirelings and returned to the dungeon, recovering the bandit’s hidden treasure.

Brother Dimetri, before heading off with the rest of the party, heads to the market and hires on Thurg the dwarf at arms, Maxx the Man at Arms, Grubb the linkman, and Marduke the fighter. Most everyone gets some extra equipment, and then the party heads into the dungeon via the Hobgoblin caves. Circling around, they make their way down into the hothouse.

Taking a westward passage, they encounter a hall full of webs, and giant spiders… but not just any giant spiders, spellcasting spiders! Grubb and Dimetri collapse asleep as the first spider emerges, a second spider tries to charm Borumar, but the half orc resists, and then magic missiles shoot out from a third spider.

Thus begins a running battle that goes back and forth and lasts almost the entire session. After slaying the spiders, and looting their weird nests, the party, badly wounded, makes it back to town.

Gains: 3 potions, a ring, and some gold
Kills: spellspiders
Losses: NONE!

Monday, March 2, 2020

February in Review

I said I’d be better about posting this month, and I was. A little. Better than January, anyway. CPA studying continues. The FAR exam might just be the death of me. 6 more weeks till the test. I expect there to be a flurry of posts after mid April. Till then, it’s gonna continue to be the slow drip…

Of course with such intense studying, my brain is doing its usual thing and trying to distract me with various hobby related things. Specifically it seems to be focused on building terrain. I really want to build some ruined jungle temple terrain for Frostgrave, and some industrial terrain… I don’t actually have a game in mind for that, I just wanna. I might be able to redirect that particular urge into scratch building some spaceship models, but...

Gaming
Stonehell has been delightfully deadly of late. I’ve restocked the upper levels for my lower level players. I’m making it a little more fae, a bit more twisted. And I’ve installed an NPC mage into the old wizard’s school. I’ve also sprinkled some more treasure around. The injured dragon is all healed up (have I gotten that far in the writeups yet?)

Miniatures

Barely any work on minis this month, which is slightly more work than I did last month. I did manage to finish off a character mini for the green knight half orc paladin in the Curse of Strahd game I dropped out of. Still need to give it to the player. I also painted up this little familiar.

I’ve got a few things prepped on my tray, and I’m going to give my brain a few breaks here and there over the next few weeks, so, who knows, I might actually get something done. Question is, should I do something easy like a bunch of goblins, or focus on some character minis? How about some rats?



Media
Movies/TV Watched

Star Trek Picard

Books Read
HAHAHA!

Goals
Pass the CPA exam

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Stonehell: Bandit Hunting, Part 2

Session 118 was played on 1/12

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Elwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Drolo & Kallo, linkman (NPC)
Falcon, M@A (NPC)

Having explored this wing of the dungeon, the party backtracked and took a side passage, coming upon a stuck door. Demiti used his great strength and the mass of his armor to shove the door open, and the cacophony of noise on the far side indicated just how much junk had been piled against the door. A literal rats nest getting knocked over had the predictable result of a swarm of angry giant rats attacking! Sadly for them, Demitri’s armor was rat-proof! The rats were slaughtered. In the stinky mess of a room were 3 other doors.

Picking the nearest door, it opens into a room with a glowing well. The light came from the silvery liquid about 15 feet down. Elwin used the ladder on the inside of the well to climb down and collect a sample. Dimetri lowered a waterskin into the fluid, and then took a swig. His dex increased! Borumar also took a swig, and his presence diminished. The rest of the party declined to try their luck.

Elwin, keeping away from the magic well, was first back in the rat room, and found another door open, with 3 rough looking men looking in. They fired bows at him, and tossed flaming oil. Elwin was hit by the oil, and screamed in pain, managing to yell out the incantation to the Sleep spell… then he dropped. Demitri shoved past the rest of the party, and while Borumar put out the flames, healed the unfortunate elf. Then they checked on the unconscious ruffians.

In addition to the 3 at the door, they discover a total of 8 men, including Hagar, who is quickly bound. The rest Elwin, Daton, and Borumar kill. In another room, they find a large chest, and the invisible net trap set up under it. Borumar and Demitri get scooped up and smashed against the chest and ceiling before the net rips and they fall to the floor. Sadly, the chest is empty. Where the bandits kept their treasure remains a mystery.

Beyond the bandit lair, they find an old library infested with crab spiders. One book is recovered, along with a remarkably well preserved set of leather armor. The crabs are killed.

Then there’s a room with lowered gravity and some combat spheres. Demitri faces them alone, while the rest of the party watches & takes pot shots with their bows from the door. Then some skeletons come around the corner, and are smashed to dust.

Continuing along, they find a side hall that dead ends, and then they see the smoke… they’ve circled around to the stairs. Deciding that they’ve faced enough, and with their goal in hand, they return to the surface, and to town, turning in the bandit for their reward.

In town, Borumar decides to drink some of the liquid, and gets sick. The magical effects seem to have been lost after removal from the well room. Daton goes carousing and ends up spending his time with the bums in the city’s biggest park. They give him a tattoo. Demitri brews some more healing potions.

Gains: 1 book of poetry, 1 set of magic leather armor, 500gp reward
Kills: bandits, rats, crab spider, combat spheres, skeletons.
Losses: Drollo and Kallo (retire)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Stonehell: Bandit Hunting

Session 117 was played on 1/5

Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Elwin, Elf 1 (Robert)
Drolo & Kallo, linkman (NPC)
Falcon, M@A (NPC)

With Borumar off on guild business, Demitri and Joho decide to see what other adventure could be found. An inspector in the city guard tells them of a bandit that needs capturing, Hagar the Horrid, who has recently been seen around the still smoking ruins of an old wizard’s tower. Elwin, a newly arrived elf, overheard, and offered to come along.

Hours of travel through the woods, they see a pillar of green smoke rising above the trees. They follow it to the ruin of the tower. Little remained but a few low walls, and a bunch of scattered worked stone. They scout the ruins, discovering a stair leading down into the basement. Unfortunately, that’s where most of the smoke was coming from. Deciding to try it, they take deep breaths, and head down.

Some coughing and gritty eyes seems to be the worst effect of the smoke, and the party finds themselves down one level. The stairs continue down, but the smoke is even thicker below. Noting some signs of footprints in the green dust, they head north. At the first door, they stop and investigate, and Joho gets slimed! The green slime eats away at his clothing, and the party begins to burn at the slime with torches, burning both the slime and Joho. Beyond the door, they find what was once an animal or monster cage, but the broken bars tell a story…

They continue up and around the hallway, facing a coin worm that offered no treasure, finding what must be a rocket ship, but failing to open it up, and then dealing with a swarm of centipedes.

Gains:
Kills: Centipedes, coin worm, green slime
Losses:

Monday, February 17, 2020

Stonehell: An Introduction

The dungeon today known as Stonehell sits in a box canyon, about 3 hours walk south west from the gates of The City. Between the dungeon and the city the Old King’s Road dips down and passes through the southern tip of a swamp. Rising out of that swamp the terrain becomes more rocky, with mountains off in the distance.

The hills around Stonehell are dotted with ruins. Directly above the dungeon is what once was an old watch tower, but is now little more than a few low walls, but it does sport one of the entrances to the dungeon, leading into the bandit caves above the mushroom caves on the first level.

Numerous other caves have been carved out of the hills, some are occasionally inhabited, and a few open up into smaller dungeons that so far seem unconnected to Stonehell itself. Old ruined wizards towers, a haunted windmill, and an old silver mine have been occasionally visited by local toughs looking to get a reputation. Somewhere, believed to be in the swamp, is the former lair of the dragon that terrorized the countryside a century ago.

The early history of the upper level of the dungeon stretches back about 400 years. Some caves were picked to be used as a prison by an advisor of the The Pontificate As more prisoners were fed into the caves they were given tools to dig deeper and expand the space. And did they did. As more and more people were imprisoned, they brought their skills to the dungeon. Dwarves, halflings, religious cults, hedge wizards, and then the diggers hit natural caves, and beyond those are older passages and halls from civilizations that are unknown to most on the surface world.

200 years ago, the Pontificate fell, and the prison opened. Few emerged, and many who did we descendants of those imprisoned, and had never seen the sun. In the following decades, various humanoid clans, cults, and bandits have called the dungeon home. Recently Eiric, Flinger of Fire and her party release a long imprisoned mummy priest of the Black Sun, who swept through the upper levels of the dungeon before he was destroyed by a group of adventurers passing through the area. Since then a new tribe of kobolds has moved in, a troll worshiping goblin tribe has arisen, and the undead are mostly quiet.

Within The City, the Mage Eiric has purchased a small estate, and is currently supervising the construction of her new manor house. Kili the dwarf has a successful money lending business established, and is also growing the cult of the Great Old Ones using the Cult of the Black Sun’s now abandoned temple. Karl the dwarf has a semi-fancy millinery. A-A-Ron is running a thieves guild in town (possibly the largest?). Sir Orpheus now sits upon the city council.

And then there is the dragon... Recently bested by some adventurers, it hasn't been seen in several weeks, much to the (temporary) relief of the City's merchants and shippers.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Stonehell: As the worm turns

Session 116 was played on 12/29

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)
Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
J, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Drolo, linkman (NPC)

Having completed his recovery, Joho was ready to rejoin the party and continue the exploration of the side dungeon. Brother Dimetri decided that their ranks could use a little filling out, and he stopped by the taverns and recruited the drunks most willing to go into a monster infested hole in the ground. Joining Drolo in the ranks of meatshields were: Kallo the Linkman and Hurtag, Nolgar, Farwood, & Falkon the men@arms..

Returning to the side delve, the party enters through the temple of the elementalists, and then heads back up to the Medusa’s prison level. There they come upon what looks like a wizards dorm room, protected by a glowing glyph on the door. Borumar uses his force bow to strike the glyph, and where the magic arrow strikes, the glyph stops glowing. With the glyph disabled, they open the door, and enter the dorm room. The 4 crystal statues in the corner of the room come alive and attack… or try to. They’re incredibly clumsy (can I roll above a 5? Please?) and end up as shattered chunks of crystal strewn about the room.

Noticing another glowing rune coming from under the wardrobe, J tries to scratch it off with his sword. A blast of flame chars the outside of the wardrobe, and injures the poor fighter. Checking out the rest of the room, they discover only the old wizard’s robes. Brother Dimetri collects them to have the metallic thread collected from the moth eaten fabric.

Returning to the medusa’s prison, they’re set upon by a carrion crawler who has apparently eaten the remains of the medusa. The plate armored members of the party were hard to hit for the carrion crawler, and it died quickly.

With this level apparently explored they checked their map, and decided to head down to parts unexplored. Finding a natural stairway, they headed down, coming to a large chamber… inhabited by a large white worm. Borumar is all for attacking it at range, but J and Joho charge in. As the worm pulls itself from the ground, they realize just how big it is. And then it bites J… and then swallows him. The party hacks at the worm, killing it, as it continues to force the armored body of J deeper into its digestive tract. They cut the monster open, and pull out J’s slimy, burned, pierced, and crushed form. Too far gone, the party wraps the body in a cloak, and tucks if off to the side, and then checks the rest of the worm for anything else. They discover 4 uncut gems in the beast.

Joho, while checking out the rest of the chamber, discovers a hidden door, well designed to blend into the natural rock wall. Opening the door, the party finds themselves facing three very startled looking humans, a man, a woman, and a teen. They reach for what weapons were at hand (some improvised) while the party just closes the door.

Talking through the door, the family basically tells the party to go away and come back later, and they’ll tell their king that the party wants to meet with them. The teen is sassy, and the woman picks on the man as they talk.

Rather than try to force the issue, the party presses on, going deeper. Again, a large chamber opens up, this time one with two obvious exits, one to the northeast, one to the southeast. Joho sneaks up to the north, and after a short-ish passage creeps into the bedchamber of a minotaur! And he’s asleep on his bed. Also in the room is a large cookpot with a trussed up figure sitting in it. Joho sneaks out of the room to tell the party what he saw.

Joho wasn’t as sneaky as he thought, and had woken the minotaur, who, once Joho had left the room, got up with his large 2 handed sword, and circled around to get behind the party.

The party decides that the best plan is to try to steal the sword, and free the trapped person in the pot. Joho sneaks back, only to discover the minotaur gone. He quickly rushes to free the man, just in time to hear the bellow of the beast as it charges his friends.

The minotaur watched Joho sneak off, and then rushed into the mass of intruders, chopping Nolgar clean in half. Swinging the massive sword around trying to keep the party from dog piling onto him, he was still outnumbered, and in a final blow of revenge (or self preservation) Falcon speared the monster under the arm, piercing his heart.

Feeling the rush of victory, but also the loss of their second party member, they decided to return to the surface. The rescued human was grateful for the save, and asked to join the party, as adventuring with a group seems to be far safer.

With J and Nolgar dead, Hurtag and Farwood decide that dungeon delving isn’t something they want to keep doing, and so leave Brother Dimetri’s service.

Gains: 4,000gp worth of gems (from the worm) and jewelry (from the minotaur)
Kills: Minotaur, Crystal statues,
Losses: J, Nolgar

Thursday, February 6, 2020

A Ghastly January

So last month was probably the worst month in the history of my blog as far as posting went. I’m working on my CPA, and studying has just sucked up the vast majority of my time. I’m still squeezing in my weekly Stonehell game, but had to drop out of the Curse of Strahd game. In all of January, aside from pulling out all the minis to take the picture of what I worked on in ‘19, I spent about 1 hour hobbying, and that was mostly cleaning off my painting tray, and clear coating the vampiress.

I’m going to try to be better about updating things this month. Don’t expect a lot, but there should be more than just my Sunday Inspirational Images!

In fact, I took a cheat night on Monday, and sat down to do some actual painting! I worked a little bit on the bride of frankenstein, and a lot on the Ghasts I’d converted late last year. They aren’t pretty, or as clean as the original from Bones 1, but they’ll do. At this point I need to base them, and maybe clean up the rags they’re wearing. I could also spend a little bit of time cleaning up the conversions with a bit of greenstuff. Some of my cuts/gaps are a little obvious.



And for those interested, the colors used were Red Liner, Kobold Scale, Vampiric Skin, Imperial Purple, Linen White, Mountain Stone.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

2019 Mini Roundup

While not as productive a year as 2018, my total output for 2019 was a respectable 60ish miniatures.









Why 60ish? Because I really finished about 60 minis, but I’ve got a bunch that are really close to done, which, when I have a few hours to spare, will bump up my 2020 numbers right quick.



As with last year, there’s a fair amount of troop minis.

And yes, this should have been posted a month ago. I've been busy, which is why there's been next to nothing posted all month.