Thursday, May 31, 2012

Captain's Logs from the Sandbox 001

Captain's Logs from the Sandbox is a new series from Occult Moon, the publishers of the Toys from the Sandbox. It is an 8 page PDF that provides quite a bit of info for the price ($1.99).

The basic premise is that a virus has broken out on a remote colony in sparsely populated star system. The PCs are tasked with delivering a cure.

Included in CLftS 001 are the following:
Star system map and data files on the primary planetary bodies
Map of the colony on the nearly inhabitable planet
1 major plot hook
6 plot complications, each with 3 twists
5 NPC data files

The implied setting is a fairly generic space opera, complete with alien civilizations and FTL, but it could work equally well with Star Trek, Star Wars, or Traveller, and it wouldn't take much to make it work with a setting like Firefly. The fact that it is so generic makes it eminently useful, even to the point of using it in a completely different genre. Much of it would work in a Wild West or fantasy setting.

Overall I think this is a pretty good product. My only issues are relatively minor ones. I generally prefer printing things, rather than reading them on the computer, so I'd have preferred to see a more printer friendly option. Additionally I also like to print things out using the booklet setting. It saves ink, paper, and space. However I can't fault the guys at Occult Moon for their style choice. I have no idea if my preferences are anywhere close to those of their customer base. Aside from that I would have liked the planetary data files to indicate if the atmosphere is breathable and how many satellites each planet has. Also, seeing how bad I am with coming up with original names I'd have liked it if the 5 NPCs had been given names, rather than just their titles.

The best part about the Captain's Logs series is that issue 002 just came out, and issue 003 will be out next week. The Toys for the Sandbox is on issue 21 of their weekly release schedule. Granted at $1.99 it can add up quickly, but you do get some good stuff for your dollars.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this product from Occult Moon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Memorial Day weekend has, for about the last decade, been a big deal in my life because it's the weekend that Balticon, the science fiction & fantasy literature convention is held in Hunt Valley (just north of Baltimore). It's a great con with multiple tracks of programing, great guests, and friends that I only get to see once a year.

This year was no different, except that in addition to the usual literature, art, and science programing that I usually attend, I also spent a little bit of time attending new media panels. One thing I didn't get to do was make it to the game room. The programing was so good that I didn't have enough free time!!

Now why do you care?

For one thing, there will be an upcoming contest! For another I may host an interview or two in addition to the reviews of the books I picked up at or because of the con. Beyond that, I have some new maps that I drew up, and a few other surprises in the pipeline.

On top of all that, I have downloaded the DnD Next playtest rules, and I'm starting to read through them. I'll have some thoughts on them soon... but so far, it seems promising...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stonehell Delve 4: Going Too Deep

On the evening of 5/14 the following brave adventurers ventured into Stonehell, and went too deep...

Drak the Hood
Nick the Pike
- Kaldue (Swordsman)
Epthalia the Blade Dancer
- Killmor B’Tches (cleric hireling)
- Raja (Swordsman)
Magnus the Barbarian
- Snotface the kobold

Teneb, the City of Darkness, floated above the town of Dahar, casting its shadow on all below. The people of Dahar were wild with their mask covered merriment, but not everyone was celebrating. A troop of adventurers marched past the gatehouse, deep into the box canyon, and into the doorway of Stonehell in search of treasure.

Before they even made it down the stairs, voices were heard below. Drak scouted ahead and returned fairly quickly, reporting that they appeared to be fairly poor bandits/adventurers who were heading deeper into the dungeon. The group waited a short time, and then ventured into the dungeon’s entry hall.

Drak led the group back into the Quiet Halls, toward a staircase that went deeper into the dungeon. From the main door, the group turned into a side passage lined with crypts full of the undead. The adventurers fought their way through several ghouls, skeletons, zombies and a crypt spirit with relatively minor damage. At one point Nick went into one of the crypts to claim a coffer held by a skeleton. It, and 3 others all lept up and attacked, raking Nick’s back before being destroyed. The coffer held several hundred copper coins. In addition to the coins, a rune covered ax and a potion vial

Past the crypts was a small room with stairs leading down. Exiting the stair room lead to an octagonal room with a smashed pillar with a stone snake wrapped around it. Moving further into the new area the party discovered a side passage flanked by a pair of rooms filled with massive machines of unknown function. At the end of the hall was a room with a large switch on the floor. Drak entered the room alone, and threw the switch to the middle position. The machinery in the side rooms all began to grind into action. The room began to shake, and then dropped fairly quickly, sealing off the end of the hall with a solid stone plug, taking Drak out of sight. It took a few minutes for the machines to come to a stop.

While waiting to see if the room would return, 4 ugly stone colored toads bounced around the corner. The machinery in the rooms began to spin again just as they appeared. Nick lobbed an oil vial at them, setting them on fire, while Epthalia charged them. As the door reappeared 2 demonic stone colored winged creatures rushed out toward the adventurers. Drak was nowhere to be seen...

The creatures slammed into the adventurers hard. Kaldue was the first to fall, followed quickly by Magnus. Everyone else ran. Kilmor fell last. Nick, Epthalia, Raja, and Snotface escaped back up to the hall of crypts. They hid themselves in one of the emptied crypts and spent some time deciding what to do. They were roused back into action with the arrival of several large centipedes that sent the adventurers scurrying back into the hall. Nick then led them back down the stairs to find out what happened to their friends. The demon beasts were gone, but they left behind the ravaged bodies of their friends. Kilmor was alive, but unconscious, and his face had been mostly removed from the nose down. Kaldue and Magnus were both bleeding out with no chance of getting them to healing before their died. Epthalia administered last rites to them. The elevator room had again gone down, and of Drak there was no sign.

Picking up their fallen comrades, the adventurers scurried from the depths of Stonehell with heavy hearts and empty purses.

As always, a big thanks to Nicholas Mizer for running a great game!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lucy the Corgi's 6th B-Day

In honor of Lucy's 6th Birthday, here is a silly little flash game - Corgi in Space! and below is a repost of last years b-day post.

The orcs were stomping through the woods, heading directly for the village. With so many out to help with harvest it was an easy target. Lucy, defender of the realm, would not stand for it. They were still about an hour from the village, moving slow as orcs are wont to do even in times of war. Lucy paralleled their track, making her way to the head of the column. There were about 4 dozen of them, and the head of the party was decked out with some extremely overdone armor. He was the target.

She got ahead of the column, close to the path, and waited for them to catch up. Soon enough the head of the column was in sight. The target was not right in front - she would have to deal with the guards. As they came parallel to her, Lucy shot, and both were on the ground before they could even cry out. The next pair of guards did have a chance to cry out, but it did them no good.

The orc chief rose before her. His armor was layered with trophies of his previous victories. Bones, hair, jewels, and even ears dangled off of him. Lucy's focus was on his cruel spear, held at the ready.

Lucy's ears folded back, her lip curled, and she charged at him. The blade of his spear came close, but she dodged it as she moved under his guard, jumped up onto him, and with one perfectly timed bite, ripped out his throat. She rode his body to the ground.

The orcs stood frozen at the sight of their chief so easily brought low. With a single bark, they turned and ran. The village was safe today. Lucy followed the orcs, ensuring the village would be safe tomorrow.

Lucymonster the Terrible - Corgi Level 4
Lawful XP: 9,550 (+10% bonus to all earned XP)

Str 14 +1 to attack & damage
Int 13 Read + Speak Common, Canine
Wis 9
Dex 16 +2 to AC
Con 9
Cha 13 +1 to reaction rolls (“so pretty!”)

HP: 14
AC: 5 (base 7 + Dex bonus)
Attack: 1 bite or slam
Damage 1d6+1

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kobold Bones

This weekend I took a little bit of time to put some paint on the Reaper Bones kobolds that I got at the same time as the Werewolf and Purple Worm.

These three were painted with reaper rust paint. I found the coverage to be much better than with the GW paints! If reaper really expands their selection I'm going to have to shift my paints collection away from GW paints to reaper paints. Now, I don't have any of the foundation paints, so I'm not sure how well those would work.

The other 3 were primed with GW black primer.

However, I found that painting the unprimed minis with the reaper paints was a much more pleasant experience! I was shocked, but pleased.

Painting over the reaper rust paint with GW paints was easy, and a bit more pleasant than painting over the primer. Now, that may have been because in my haste I didn't give the primer a good long time to dry...

More to come...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Inspirational Image: Mountain Path

I find paths that suggest a destination very inspiring. Looking at this picture I can imagine a hermit or a sage living at the end of the path... or even a god! Maybe it's the path to a portal to Sigil, or to the hollow world. It could also be the way to a prison carved out of the very living stone of the mountain. Or it could be something else entirely.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lazy Post: Book Sale Finds

A couple of weeks ago I picked these up at a local book sale.

I've never read a single issue of Shadis, so I'm looking forward to actually getting into it.

Doors to the Unknown is the first Planescape product I've ever bought, though I have played in it before.

Ravenloft is just fun.

Did you know the Wizards of the Coast had an RPG before they bought D&D??? I didn't. But this looked rather fascinating...

Eventually I'll write more about each of these, but first I have to read them!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Diablo Dowager

Have you ever heard of WoW Widows? They’re the partners of World of Warcraft players who can't step AFK and spend time in the real world. It isn't just limited to WoW either. Just about every MMO has some. It goes beyond computer games too as evidenced by other examples like football widows.

Now, my partner plays WoW, but it isn’t an addiction. She’s actually a responsible adult, for which I’m very thankful. It probably helps that

However, Diablo III came out yesterday. You might have heard something about it?

What you need to know is that she loves the Diablo games. She's played them through numerous times, with all the expansions, all the classes, and has been waiting for a decade for this game. She's so into it that she got a new computer almost solely to play it!

Earlier today Amazon delivered the game to our doorstep.

Now I have become as much of a victim of Azmodan and Belial as Deckard Cain.

This is as close to it as I'm able to get, and only because she had to leave the house (20 minutes after it finished installing and she started her first character).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Werewolf & Worm Part 2

Since it has been over a year since I last painted a mini, I decided that of the 3 packs I picked up, I would hold off on the kobolds, and work on the bigger minis, just to get back in the swing of things.

Once the minis were all glued to their bases I started blocking in the colors. For the worm, I just painted the whole thing a very dark blue. I had to put it on fairly thick for it to really cover. The relatively large and untextured body of the worm seemed to cause the paint to bead up. While I waited for that to dry, I base coated the entire werewolf dark brown. I didn’t have the beading issue with the werewolf to nearly the same extent, there were just a couple of small spots that seemed to resist the paint.

If you look closely, you can see the mold line running down the center of it's underside

By this point the blue was done, and I painted a lich purple on the worm, and made the mouth a pinkish color. I also decided that the ridges along the sides needed to be given a little attention, so I painted them grey. I then went back over the body with a mix of lich and warlock purple. The mouth got a wash of delvian mud, and then of red gore, before picking the teeth out with bone. The dirt and rocks on the base were painted with browns and grey.

Getting back to the werewolf, I drybrushed lighter shades of brown on to the sculpted fur, painted the teeth and claws bone, the tongue and eyes red, and then did a little bit of blacklining to show off some of the sculpted details on the smoother areas.

I’m planning on priming half of the kobolds, just to see if it makes a difference. It would be better if I had a second purple worm to try it out on, but I’m just going to stick with the kobolds for now. I don’t really need any more minis. And by “don’t need” I mean I have enough minis to paint for years before I’d need to buy another, of just about every genre!

Thank you Virginia for the photos!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Werewolf & Purple Worm

With not too much tweaking this post’s title could become very naughty. Luckily for you the worm is the Purple Worm from Reaper mini, and specifically the one from the new Bones line. If you don’t know, the Bones line is made from unpainted flexible plastic designed to be used without primer.

Because I was curious, I picked up 3 packs to try them out: werewolf, purple worm, and kobolds. The purple worm is quite a bit bigger than your average mini, and had it been the metal version it would have cost over $20 (the metal one comes with a tail bit that the bones version doesn’t) and had it been a GW Finecast it probably would have been closer to $40 (without the tail). The figure itself was a good cast, with only a slight mold line. The base was ever so slightly warped, so when I glued it to a slightly larger base, I had to bend it a little to make it work. Alternately I could have used a little greenstuff to fill the gap. As I was feeling lazy I just bent and held it until it was dry.

The werewolf is a typical 28mm heroic scale mini. The sculpted fur was well done, and practically begged for drybrushing. As with the purple worm, there was only a very minor mold line, and as before I opted to ignore it. I also glued it to a base, in spite of it having one molded on. In this case it was more to give me something a bit more substantial to hold onto while painting rather than any need of the figure itself. The base will also help it fit in with my other minis.

The 6 kobolds consist of two copies of three sculpts. This isn’t a problem, especially given how many you tend to need at one time. I haven’t looked too closely at them, but they seem to be of the same quality as the other two, just smaller. Very minor mold lines, and the built in bases are already square. They are attached to their sprew, which is interesting, and will give me the opportunity to see how well the plastic cuts. I’m also thinking about trying to re-pose one of the little guys with the shield.

Next time, painting them!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

That Killer Instinct

I admit it.

I’m not a killer DM.

I like to see the PCs in my game survive.

I dislike level drain, and strongly prefer ability score drain.

I’m more likely to include “save or suck” or “save or drop” instead of “save or die” effects.

I use the Shields Shall Be Splintered and Dutch Courage rules. PCs only go unconscious at 0, and dead at negative level. Heck, I'm even considering using one of the various death and dismemberment tables when PCs drop.

It’s been a long time since my last TPK, though there have been some close calls. What this tells me is that I need to game more!

I don't know if it'll be Saturday or Sunday, but I'm going to run a game this weekend... Anyone up for a dungeon crawl?

I promise my goal isn't a TPK!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A to Z Reflections

Like I said last week, April was nuts. Productive, but nuts. I still have a lot to do this month, but it isn’t quite as crazy. Aside from my entry into the One-Page Dungeon Contest (which is posted to my downloads page) I also did the A to Z challenge. I’m putting together a PDF of the posts, but it’s not done yet, but I also wanted to take a minute and share some thoughts about the experience.

First off, anyone who hasn’t given it a try should consider it. The A to Z challenge is a fun exercise, and like any exercise it can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. I didn’t make a big deal about it because I wanted the focus to be on the posts, not on the meta-stuff behind it, especially considering the grumbling of those who don’t like the challenge.

Now, onto the questions from A to Z

How did your journey through the alphabet go? Did you meet new bloggers with similar interests? Are there any you would like to feature and share with others?
It was a very busy month, and because I had planned ahead I started out with a week and a half of posts ready to go. That lead dwindled as the month went on, and by the final week I was about a day ahead, and by X, Y, and Z I was writing them the night before.

I found a couple of new blogs that I’m now following, but because of how busy I ended up, I didn’t get to visit many new blogs.

What were the highlights for you? (lowlights too...we want to hear it all)
Getting new visitors to the blog, non-gamers who seemed to appreciate the imaginative exercise was great.

Did you enjoy posting daily? What was your biggest hurdle? What was your easiest task?
I do enjoy posting nearly every day already. Because I had at least a post title/idea for every letter things went pretty easily. I did end up scrapping a couple because the post just didn’t work, but most of them flowed pretty well.

Was time management an issue? (I know, silly question, when isn’t time management an issue - but, it is worth reflecting on)
As the month went on, yes, but because I had worked ahead it didn’t become insurmountable.

And what about your content - did you have a theme or did you wing it? Was it easy to come up with ideas for each letter, or were some harder?
I decided back in February on the theme of magic items and spells. This helped me develop the list of topics that I stuck to pretty closely.

How about commenting - did you stumble upon lots of sites still using word verification? Did this prevent you from leaving a comment? What worked for your blog?
I only managed to visit a relative handful of blogs during the month, nowhere near the number I would have liked to have visited. Word verification was only an issue a couple of times, and it didn’t keep me from commenting. Wordpress, however, wasn’t as friendly as blogger to leave comments on.

What will you do different next year? (Yes, you are doing this next year, you know you are, even if your brain is telling you to run for the hills - it appreciates the exercise)
I’ll probably pick a different theme and visit more blogs.

What pearls of wisdom do you want to share with the Co-Hosts of this event? (We would love to hear from you and know what you think would make this awesome event even better)
Nothing to suggest this time around. It was very nice of them to come by my blog and leave comments though!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pearly Spiral of the Endless Hunger

In spite of everything else I've had going on for the last month, I opted to join in on the whole One Page Dungeon Contest. Jim of Carjacked Seraphim suggested that a group of dungeon designers work together to make a whole series of entries that taken together would form a megadungeon. I foolishly signed up. The original plan was to use the dungeonmorph dice to create the level, but the more i worked on it, the less it fit.

You can download the adventure here, or on my download page.

In other news, I'm taking the rest of the week off of blogging. April was nuts, and I need a little recharge time. Between school, the A to Z challenge, the One Page Dungeon Contest, work, and everything else, I'm wiped out!