Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy 25th Star Trek: The Next Generation

25 years ago today I was sitting on the floor of my grandmothers bedroom waiting to watch this new sci-fi tv show I’d seen this ad for. Two hours later I was amazed, blown away by what I’d just seen, and completely unsure how I’d survive an entire week before I’d be able to see the next episode.

I did survive, and I watched the next episode, and the one after that, and the one after that, for the next seven years. In it’s entire run I only missed 1 episode (Attached, season 7) on it’s initial broadcast (or the rebroadcast on the following weekend which I usually watched anyway).

What effect has this had on my life? Aside from the countless hours spent watching Star Trek in its various incarnations, it also was a gateway into reading. I mentioned in my Earthsea post how I started my fantasy reading with Narnia. My introduction to sci-fi books was here. When my mother saw my rabid interest in Star Trek, she used it to get me into reading by handing me the first 2 novels that came out for TNG, and a couple from the original series. If it wasn't for these Star Trek books, I might never have gone to Narnia, might never have become a reader, an activity that I wasn’t at all interested in doing at that point in my life. Why read when I could go ride my bike or play with my friends?

Now? Now I have 3 shelves of of paperback, double stacked, a shelf of hardcovers, also double stacked, and a small collection of Star Trek RPG books and reference books.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conan the Barbarian

The reviews for the new Conan movie have been mixed, skewing toward poor, but I’m willing to overlook a wide variety of sins if I think it’s entertaining. With that in mind I sat down to watch it. I did bring a couple of minis and some paints, because even if it was bad, I could still make productive use of the time.

Conan, a barbarian boy from Cimmeria sees his entire village wiped out by an unnamed bandit/slaver, his band of characterful baddies, and his creepy witch daughter. They’re searching for the last piece of a mystical mask which will make the wearer into a god, which they find. Years later Conan (Jason Momoa) is a pirate mercenary, and the raider, now king, attacks a secluded temple, looking for the last pureblood descendant of the creator of the mask, Tamara (Rachel Nichols). She escapes, meets up with Conan, and one by one Conan defeats the king’s henchmen. Conan then fights the king, his daughter (Rose McGowan), and the sand creatures she summons, gets poisoned, and escapes with the Tamara back to the pirate ship. The ship is attacked by the king’s ninjas, but they are repelled with only a necessary loss of life among the pirates. Tamara decides that she needs to go into hiding. She and Conan return to land, have sex in a cave, and then she sneaks off, to predictable results. Conan then has to save her in the ruins/dungeon of an old temple built over a chasm. Big fight, Conan eventually kills the witch daughter and then the king, and saves Tamara. Conan then returns Tamara to the secluded temple.

As many other reviews have said, this is not Robert E. Howard’s Conan of Cimmeria, it’s Hollywood’s Conan of Cinema. As long as you can accept the fact that Hollywood chose to almost completely ignore all of the fantastic Conan stories written by his creator, and see this movie as merely what it is (a sword and sandal popcorn movie) it wasn’t entirely awful, and was even entertaining.

Jason Momoa played a decent Conan, though I got the feeling that he was hampered by the script. I was pleasantly surprised that Tamara wasn’t just a passive female, but actually was willing to take action and fight. Having her walk off and get captured almost immediately after... again this was more a problem with the script writers than the character.

The king’s henchman were all flat characters, sadly, and aside from giving Conan something to do on his way to fighting the king, really could have used more development. The king was completely obsessed with getting the mask, and using it’s power to become a god and bring his dead wife back. Better than his minions, but not great. The king’s witch daughter was actually interesting, if creepy in an incestuous way.

The scenery felt mostly uninspired, at least until the end. The ruined temple was actually really cool looking!

Gaming Ideas:
Sand Soldiers
Mask of Acheron

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Map of Earthsea

After I returned from Narnia, my mother handed me an old ratty copy of A Wizard of Earthsea, and I explored this fascinating world with Ged.

I actually haven't thought about Earthsea for a while, but I was looking at maps online, and I came across this map by accident.

It's the map of Earthsea drawn by Ursula K. Le Guin! Now that is a map to base a campaign on!

I think it maybe time to go back to Earthsea, especially since I haven't read any of the short stories or the books written after the original trilogy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dungeon Entrances

This post from the Michael Garcia (aka the Crazy GM) , and the Google+ thread that it spawned discuss where to put the entrance to the megadungeon. The gist is that the dungeon entrance should be right next to the town, or even in it!

There are lots of examples of this in both video games and in RPGs. the one that is probably most familiar to RPG players is Waterdeep and Undermountain - the megadungeon is literally under the city with numerous known and even more unknown ways into and out of the dungeon.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that for my own megadungeon my plan was to put the dungeon entrance on the side of the mountain, up a long staircase that would take days to climb... While it makes a cool mental image, I’m reconsidering this decision, or at least considering modifying it.

What if within the dungeon there are portals which can be activated/attuned to individuals that all return to the city center at the base of the dungeon. This would allow delvers to get into deep areas of the dungeon without having to go through the upper levels, and provides clear goals for the delvers to keep pressing deeper into the dungeon.

Imagine a group of new delvers going into the dungeon with an experienced delver. They portal straight to level 3. Over the course of the adventure the vet is killed, and the new guys flee back through the portal. The next time they’re ready to go in, they can either take the portal to level 3, or climb the mountain.

First time delvers would have to climb the mountain, though I imagine that some enterprising souls might have made it to the first portal if only to ferry people into the dungeon. Some of these guys may even have set up an ambush in the portal room to catch the adventurers unaware...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dragon Slug

The road paralleled the sea. Between it and the shore was a sandy bog. For the last several miles the stone road was lifted above the sucking sands, brackish pools, and stunted trees, keeping the travelers away from the drakespawn and other dangers of the bog. Ruins were scattered along the road, evidence of the folly of the builders who chose sand as a foundation.

“Look at that!” Feris said quietly, pointing toward the side of a ruined tower. Clinging to it’s side was a blue and white creature with a smooth glistening skin. It’s limbs appeared stubby, though the tips stretched out in elegant curves.

“What is it?” rathgar asked.

“I don’t know... but I’d like to get a closer look.”

Allianora and Rathgar both shruged. “Sure. We’re not in a hurry, we can check it out.”

Rathgar grunted as Allianora applied the cream to the side of his face. “Hold still...”

“It burns.”

“That’s how you know it’s working.”

“Is he going to be ok?” Feris asked.

“There’s going to be a scar, but yes.”

Dragon Slug
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 4-9** (M-L)
Move: 60’ (30’)
swim: 150’ (50’)
Attacks: 1 bite or spit
Damage: 2d4 (4-6 HD) 2d6 (7-9 HD) + poison or special
No. Appearing: 1d3 (1)
Save As: F (level =1/2 HD)
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: nil
Intelligence: 2
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value:
4HD = 175
5HD = 425
6HD = 725
7HD = 1250
8HD = 1750
9HD = 2300

Dragon Slugs are smaller more colorful versions of giant slugs. They have small poisonous spines on the tips of their extremities. Anyone so struck will take 1d4 points of damage per hit die (save for half). Attackers never gain a strength bonus to damage due to the elastic nature of the slug. Blunt melee weapons only inflict 1 point of damage (plus any magical damage) and edged will cause 1 less damage on all hits.

The dragon slug can also spit it's venom at those that would harass it. For every hit die, the slug can spit 10', causing 1d4+1 points of damage per hit die (save v poison for half). Everyone within 10' of the target will be splashed for half damage. The dragon slug can only spit once every 3 rounds.
terrain: ocean, sea shore

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Inspirational Image: MD Ren Fair

I'll be going to the Maryland Ren Fair today with a bunch of friends. In honor of that, here are some pictures taken from the flickr MD Ren Fair group.

Nothing sweeter than a goblin kiss

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Established Settings

Dice Monkey is hosting the September Blog Carnival and the topic is Established Settings.

Why do we play in settings others have created? What are your favorite? Why is it that we are continually drawn to them? Are they a crutch? Do you modify your established setting to match your game?

I’ve played in other people’s sandboxes for a variety of reasons, but the most common one is because it helps to create the shared experience for everyone at the table.

When I first started playing D&D, my games were set in Thunder Rift, as much as they were “set” anywhere in particular. It was mostly just a name. When I moved to 2e in high school I also moved to the Forgotten Realms, and while I tried to initially use as much of the stuff that had been written for it, I quickly adjusted my thinking, especially once I realized that my players knew the Realms better than I did! Suddenly it went from being “The Forgotten Realms” to being “My Forgotten Realms” and a whole host of baggage was tossed overboard. With the release of 3rd edition I glanced briefly at Grayhawk, but returned almost immediately to “My Forgotten Realms.”

Why the Forgotten Realms? Mostly because it was what my players knew, and so it became the lingua franca of our table. Red Wizards, Harpers, Undermountain, and yes, even Elminster all showed up.

Not Drizzt though. He doesn’t exist in “My Forgotten Realms” nor do his clones!

Having a common understanding of where the players fit into the world provided a structure right from the start. I didn’t have to take time to either explain it, or to show it through roleplaying. Everyone already knew. When it was different from what they thought they knew, I’d remind them that this was “My Forgotten Realms” and that crap you read in the newest book? Doesn’t count.

Is the Realms my favorite published setting? No. Yet at the same time it has everything - all of the D&D tropes, and then some.

My favorite published setting is Birthright, even though it doesn’t really support the standard fantasy rpg experience.

Ravenloft also makes a great setting, though better in theory than the actual implementation.

Now I find myself much more interested in running my own setting, rather than someone else's. Yet I'm sure I'll still steal my favorite bits and pieces from them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Post Apocalyptic Toys #1

Post Apocalyptic Toys is Occult Moon’s newest line of publications, following in the tradition of Toys for the Sandbox and Captain’s Log from the Sandbox by providing inexpensive system neutral adventure location, npcs, story hooks, some random encounters, and rumors. As the title indicates, this new line is designed for games set in a near future post apocalyptic world.

Issue #1 - The Last Refuge, details a former church turned that has become a haven to those who need it, presided over by “Gramps” a no-nonsense curmudgeonly old fart who seems to be always fair, if not kind.

In addition to being systemless, Post Apocalyptic Toys also refrains from making too many assumptions about the apocalypse itself. No crazy mutants or weird races, nothing about zombies, radiation, or nano-plagues. This isn’t much of a limiting factor, as it isn’t hard to turn goats into spider-goats or bandits into zombies, but it will require a bit of work. It would also be fairly easy to convert this for a fantasy or even sci-fi game.

The Good:
For $1.99 (on sale for $0.99 right now) you get what you’ve come to expect from Occult Moon’s various toys - an interesting location, a variety of NPCs, and some hooks for your PCs to get them involved in the action. You get 9 pages of solid material to work with.

The Bad:
Not much art to speak of, and a fair amount of white space. No real reason the rumor table couldn’t be expanded, or a bit of stock art added, or even an ad for the next issue tucked into a corner.

The Ugly:
The map of the compound is highly pixilated. It looks like it was done really small in MS Paint, saved in a bad format, and blown up to mostly fill the page. I printed this out in booklet format, and even at that size it’s a terrible map, and if it weren’t for the very clear numbers, would be nearly completely useless.

Final Verdict:
If you’re running a post apocalyptic game, and you didn’t have much time to come up with something this week, this would be worth a buck or two. Due to the map, it doesn’t quite step up to the level of the previous Toys I’ve gotten, but other than that, it’s a solid value.

Occult Moon just revised their issue #1 with an updated cover and internal map, thus addressing my major concerns about this issue.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I remember getting copies of various sci-fi/fantasy catalogs when I was a teen and seeing ads for all sorts of movies, books, and games. Inevitably Barbarella was one of those that was highlighted. Because of that, I’ve always been a little bit curious about it. It was not even close to what I imagined...

A voluptuous outer space agent travels to another galaxy in search of a missing inventor in this science fiction send-up. Barbarella (Jane Fonda), an interstellar representative of the united Earth government in the 41st century, is dispatched to locate scientist Durand Durand, whose positronic ray, if not recovered, could signal the end of humanity. Outfitted in an array of stunning Star Trek/Bond girl outfits and cruising around in a plush, psychedelic spaceship, Barbarella travels to the Tau Seti system and promptly crash-lands. She then spends the rest of the film discovering the joys of interstellar sex with a keeper of feral children (Ugo Tognazzi), a blind, beatific angel (John Phillip Law), and an inept revolutionary named Dildano (David Hemmings). Slowly but surely, she also finds her way to Durand Durand by moving from one exotic, Wizard of Oz-style locale to another. Along the way, she meets the kindly Professor Ping (a surprisingly verbal Marcel Marceau), a Eurotrash dominatrix named the Great Tyrant (Rolling Stones gal pal Anita Pallenberg), and the Concierge (Milo O'Shea), a strangely familiar lackey of the Great Tyrant who tries to destroy Barbarella with his great big organ of love. Jean-Claude Forest, who created the character Barbarella in 1962 for V-Magazine, served as visual advisor on the adaptation. (from Rotten Tomatoes)

As I said, i was unexpected for what I encountered. I expected a cheesy sci-fi romp, and it was that, but I did not expect the truly bizarre landscapes, outlandish costumes, and just plain odd characters. It is very much a movie of its time, full of psychedelic visuals and off the wall writing.

The film, while visually interesting does seem to drag in spite of its 98 minute running time, and Barbarella’s passivity definitely does not match the image indicated by the evocative poster art. On the other hand, there is a definite sense of whimsy and wacked out fun throughout the movie, in an Alice in Wonderland sort of way, and like Alice, Barbarella’s exploration of the strange and dark world is full of an innocent confusion and a curious wonder.

The plot is completely ignorable, since it serves only to allow Jane Fonda to change outfits frequently, and to explore weird landscapes, and have sex (mostly just hinted and teased at) while doing so. The characters are remarkably one dimensional, and while the dialogue can be witty, the pacing is sometimes off, and scenes are dragged out more than necessary.

What saves Barbarella (the movie, not the character) is the deliberateness of it. The filmmaker, actors, set designers, etc were all working really hard to create this movie, and to do the best job they could, while at the same time realizing that this was a campy sci-fi exploitation flick, and for all of Barbarella’s passivity, Jane Fonda absolutely makes the movie.

Gaming Ideas:
Feral children with attack dolls
Giant magical hooka that allows one to smoke the essence of anything (or anyone) contained within
Mathmos - the corrupting evil liquid that is contained beneath the city

Monday, September 17, 2012

Scattered Man

“Help me” the words formed out of a cacophony of metal shards swirling together. The vaguely humanoid shape coalesced from the whirlwind of needles on the dark side of the open doorway.

“What the frell is that?” Rathgar exclaimed, raising his shield.

The thing moved slowly toward them, gliding, stepping through the doorway and across the shattered courtyard. Passing beyond the shadow of the wall, the sunlight seemed to explode off the being. The flashing light made the party shield their eyes. “Help meeeeeee.” It again seemed to say.

“What do we do?” Nimble asked, his voice tight.

“Help meeee.” It continued to come closer.

Allianora took a step back, one hand reaching toward her sun pendant. Feris’ hands hovered near his various belt pouches.

“Heeelp meeee.” The creature was now a mere step away from Rathgar. It continued to move toward him, its arm outstretched. Rathgar stepped back, and kept the shield between him and the creature. The being reached toward the top edge of the shield, and the whirling metal of it’s hand flayed the top of the shield, ripping apart the metal frame and disintegrating the wood.

Rathgar jerked back in shock, and swung his sword through the creature, to no apparent effect. “Run!”

“Help meeee.”

Scattered Man
Armor Class: -2
Hit Dice: 7** (M)
Move: 120’ (40’)
Attacks: 1 arm or special
Damage: 2d8+3
No. Appearing: 1d3 (1d3)
Save As: C7
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: E
Intelligence: 5
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 1250

Monster Type: Construct, Enchanted (rare)
A Scattered Man is a type of construct similar to a golem. The very nature of the Scattered Man also causes Fear (per the spell) upon all that view it. They can attack either with their arms or attempt to envelop their target. If they do attempt to envelop a target they must first succeed in an attack roll. The target will take 4d8+3 points of damage and must make a saving throw vs spells or become blinded until magically healed. The Scattered Man will take 2d4+1 damage in return.

Image Source

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kings of War

If you've never heard of Kings of War or Mantic Games, that would be understandable, especially if you aren't into fantasy wargames. However, given the natural overlap between RPG players and wargamers, it's a situation you should correct!

Mantic Games' Kings of War is a game designed by Alessio Cavatore, formerly of Games Workshop. In some ways it is very reminiscent of Warhammer Fantasy Battles and of Lord of the Rings/War of the Ring SBG. The miniature line (which actually predates the game) includes the usual fantasy staples - Elves, dark elves, dwarves, undead, orcs, goblins, etc. Scale-wise they are the usual 28mm, but are less heroic scale than most minis made today.

Should you not care for fantasy wargames, they've also got a dungeon crawl game, a future wargame, and a future football game. Unlike GW minis, Mantic avoids grossly unrealistic weapons, and oversized hands and feet. Additionally the armor isn't ridiculously overdesigned, and there aren't skulls everywhere.

Also unlike GW minis, you can get them for a fair price. A box of 20 mantic skeletons will run you $25. The same 20 skeletons from GW costs $50. You can get 30 Mantic zombies for $35. For the same price you get 20 from GW.

20 Mantic Skeletons = $25

10 GW Skeletons = $25

So, like I mentioned on my post about Dropzone Games, I picked up a $25 set of skeletons and paints. It came with 6 colors, 10 skeletons (1 sprew) and a paint brush.

And as you can see I've already put together 5 of the skeletons.

And here's how they compare, scale-wise. From left to right we have an old GW/Milton Bradley HeroQuest skeleton, a Ral Partha wizard, Mantic Skeleton, and GW Lord of the Rings Eomer. As you can see from above, it's closest in scale to the LotR figures.

So the figures are cheaper, but that doesn't do any good if you need twice as many for a game. Well I ran some back of the envelope numbers, and while it seems like you might need a few more figures than you do for Warhammer Fantasy, you'll still end up spending less for a similarly sized (in points) army.

Mantic also offers a number of different army sets. I ran some numbers on them to see which are the best value. I saved the spreadsheet as a google doc. This is only for undead, and isn't an exhaustive comparison, but for the curious, it's here: Mantic Undead Cost Comparison Chart.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

D&D Next: Warlock & Sorcerer

I know I said that I was going to talk about Kings of War today, but I'm not done writing that post, and I am done writing this one, so here it is.

Mystic Scholar left a comment in my last post about D&D Next, and I wanted to follow it up here. First, his comment:

I agree with your overall view, but I've always felt that Magic Missile did too little damage. I've always felt that it should be a 1d6+1 damage.

As your level increases, you get more usage of the spell, certainly, but I also think that, as you reach certain levels your character should get more damage, to reflect his/her growing power.

For instance: 2d6+1 at 5th level. 3d6+2 at 10th level, 4d6+2 at 15th level and 5d6+3 at 20th level.

Behold the power of the Archmage!

But that's just me. ;)
I’m actually ok with magic missile only doing 1d4+1 points of damage, but only because it’s an auto hit. Every round you’ll nail someone for 2-5 points of damage, guaranteed! I expect that it’ll scale with level, but the playtest only covers low levels. If it doesn't scale, then that's a different story. However, should you want it to do more damage, then you have to make the wizard roll to hit, otherwise it's a win button for wizards at first level.

While we’re on the subject of magic I want to bring up the 2 extra classes that WotC released for D&D Next - Warlock and Sorcerer.

The sorcerer has a neat mechanic that as he expends his willpower shaping spells, the magic temporarily reshapes the sorcerer, giving him a variety of draconic aspects. I can easily see how you could adjust that to other backgrounds besides the draconic. Elemental would be easy, fey as well. Demons and angels too... I can see a random chart in the future for this sort of thing... What I'd really like to see is a mechanic that allows the sorcerer to use magic even after tapping out of willpower for some negative effects. HP loss, ability score loss, penalties to hit and saving throws, or permanent mutations?

The Warlock also manages to be mechanically different from the other spell casters with their pact boons, restriction on spells to ritual casting, and invocations. One thing that really stood out for me was a minor invocation that they get called Eldritch Blast. Being minor it means that you can use it every round. It’s much like magic missile or ray of frost. Pick a single target within 50 feet. On a hit cause 3d6 force damage.

3d6?!?! For an every round first level ability?!? WTF?!?

At level 3 it goes to 4d6...

Forget wizards, I’m playing a warlock next game...

I haven't checked to see if that was a typo, or if WotC has issued an errata on it, or if they figure it's just a playtest and that they'll clean it up for the next round.

Lastly, there is a new poll about D&D Next on the right! Have you checked out D&D Next yet?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

FLGS: Dropzone Games

Over the weekend I attended the grand opening of Dropzone Games. If you ever visited the GW BattleBunker in Glen Burnie, then you know exactly where Dropzone is! It is now an extremely well stocked game store, with more than ample tables to play on and painting stations to work at.

I got to meet Andy Chambers and Dave Taylor. Andy was demoing a new WWII fighter plane game that he's developed. I'd link to it, but he hasn't gotten that far in it's development. If you're interested, drop him an e-mail and he said he's share the rules.

Dave Taylor was working on painting his early/mid war German tanks for Flames of War, and we spent a while talking about the game, and the difference between painting 28mm minis and the smaller scale 15mm minis.

The staff were all very friendly and very up on the latest in miniature wargames, and the store's stock certainly reflected that. In addition to Flames of War and Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, they also had a full selection of Warmachine and Hordes, Dust Tactics, Mantic Games' Kings of War and Warpath, a selection of Warlord Games historical minis, some resin kits and conversion pieces from Scribor, Forge World, and a couple of other companies, and a bunch of terrain and paints and other items from companies like Gale Force 9.

As part of their grand opening they were hosting an open painting competition (any manufacturers minis), a Flames of War tournament, Kings of War tournament, Dust Tactics demos, special guests, and raffles. All in all it seemed well run, and I think I'll probably be going back there on a fairly regular basis... especially if they manage to rope me into playing Kings of War... but more on that tomorrow.

For more pictures, check out their facebook page!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

D&D Next Spells (playtest 2)

I’ve been reading through the second D&D Next playtest packet, focusing on the character generation stuff and I have to say, I’m impressed! I’m happy to see the return of dice rolling as a default method to create a character, with a nice balance in that both race and class impact how a character’s ability scores end up.

I’m still finding some wonky things. Not as bad as the first playtest draft, but still kind of out there. For example, why would you ever take Ghoul’s Touch when you can take Hold Person? Both are 2nd level spells, and do basically the same thing. Hold Person works at range, the Ghoul’s Touch works by... well, by touch. Hold Person works on stronger creatures, and doesn’t have any fiddly bits about making their move 0 vs full paralyzation.

I’ve written about Magic Missile before. In this updated playtest it still auto hits for 1d4+1 damage and is a minor spell (aka you can use it every round). Ray of Frost received a boost over the previous playtest. Before it merely halted movement, now causes 1d6+3 damage and reduces speed to 10 feet for one round on a successful hit. Unless I’m fighting kobolds or other really low hit point monsters, I’m going to use Ray of Frost. Yeah, I have to roll, but presuming that I hit 50% of the time, over the course of 20 rounds I’ll do 5 points of damage more with magic missile. If I hit 11 times in 20 rounds I do 2 points more with Ray of Frost, and the monsters I hit get slowed for a round with each hit.

I really need to get my hands dirty with the system though, and either play in a game or run one. I played in a PbP G+ game with the first playtest... Maybe I could do something similar for this one. Anyone interested in a PbP G+ D&D Next game?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bone Wrapped - Undead Monster

Is there a reason you picked this as the place to camp for the night? Nimble asked as he looked out into the darkness.

The small fire popped before Rathgar could answer. "We wouldn't have made it to the next inn, and we're fairly sheltered here. Why?"

"Because I don't think those are hills."

Rathgar pushed the stick he was twiddling into the fire and stood up to look out where Nimble was staring. Under the light of the halfmoon rise and fall of the grass covered hills did seem steeper than usual. The sparse trees did nothing to make the view feel anything but desolate.

"What do you think they are?"

"I think they might be barrows."

"What did you see?"

Nimble didn't answer right away. His eyes searched the darkness, and his face tightened. His arm snapped up, finger pointing "It isn't what I saw... I heard..."

A soft, almost gentle keening seemed to rise up from the shadows between the hills. Above the crest of the nearest hill a figure caught the moonlight and seemed to glow as is sped blindingly fast down toward the camp.

Rathgar's sword was drawn in the blink of an eye, ready to meet the creature.

Bone Wrapped
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3+2** (M)
Move: 150' (50’)
Attacks: 1 claw
Damage: 1d8+3 + 1 point dex
No. Appearing: 1d4 (2d4)
Save As: C4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: E
Intelligence: 5
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 100

Bone Wrapped are corporeal undead creatures that appear to be gaunt humanoids encased in small finger sized bones from the waist up, and empty shrouds from the waist down. Around their heads are 10 pointed halos created from a pair of interlocked pentagrams. Bone Wrapped hover above the ground, and move with an unearthly speed. They attack with their claws, draining 1 point of dexterity and the cold of the grave seeps into their victim. Anyone reduced to 0 dexterity is dead, and will rise as a Bone Wrapped the next sunset. Those suffering from dexterity damage may recover 1 point/day of rest or with 5th level curative magic.

Anyone attempting to attack a Bone Wrapped must make a saving throw vs spells or suffer a -2 penalty to all rolls until they can take a full day's rest.

Tim Brannan of The Other Side blog is hosting a blog fest in honor of Halloween. On Monday, October 29, participants post a monster.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stage Escape - Wizard Spell

The lizard creatures dropped from the trees, surrounding the companions. Each was adorned with bright feathers in headdresses, cloaks, and other ornamental items, and of course weapons. the weapons were all different, though all were made of the same material. A highly polished wood body with what looked like sharks teeth attached at strategic locations.

One of the creatures, adorned with red and yellow feathers on its bright green scales hissed something that was probably a language.

“Did anyone catch that?” Nimble asked

“Nope” Rathgar replied.

“No” Allianora

“It’s a... ah... no actually.” Feris ended with a shrug.

The creature hissed and snapped, and waved its weapon.

“It’s just going to get more upset unless we can figure out what it wants.” Allianora warned.

“Do we care what it wants?” Rathgar asked.

“Sure we do. I’m allergic to... whatever those weapons are.” Nimble replied. “Feris, can you do anything helpful right now?”

“Just this.” Feris raised his hand and in it he held a clear crystal. The creatures looked at it, some tightening their grip on their weapons. Feris closed his hand on the crystal, mumbled a word, and opened his hand, releasing a black powder to the ground. The lead lizard’s eyes opened wide and began to hiss something when the first grain of powder hit the ground. A large puff of smoke enveloped the area, and quickly dispersed, leaving the lizards surrounding an empty patch of jungle.

“No one move” Feris whispered as he watched the lizardmen slashing the empty space where they were just standing.

Stage Escape
4th Level Magic User Spell
Range: 0’
Duration: 1 turn
Effect: caster + allies w/in 10’

This spell causes a great puff of obscuring sulfurous smoke to erupt from the ground, and the caster and allies within 10’ (1 for every 2 levels over 5th) to be turned invisible and teleported up to 100’ within the casters line of sight.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Build a Gaming Table

I have previously written about my building a terrain board for miniature war gaming, but it always helps to have something to put those terrain boards on! Now I lucked out and got a full sized dining room table at a yard sale for $5. Not everyone will be that lucky, and honestly for most games you don't need more than a 4x4 playing area, so something that big might be a waste.

Because I already have a table, I don't need another one. However, I did have to build something to hold a pair of guinea pig cages. Before one of them was on a door held up by a pair of saw horses, and the other cage was under it. Not an ideal situation. I didn't want to spend a fortune or a lot of time on it. So after searching the internet for a simple solution I found this basic workbench.

This picture, and the instructions I used, are from this link: A Cheap And Sturdy Workbench For About $20

That $20? That's from 1999. I spent about $40 on Monday evening.

And this is my pig bench. Looking at what I spent, and my scraps, it would have been very little effort to adjust the size of the table out to 48"x48" with a matching shelf below to store terrain or minis. Since my pig bench isn't going to see the abuse that the work bench linked above is going to see, I only used about half the number of screws, but even still, this is a solid (if not attractive) bit of woodwork. I also adjusted the plan to put the legs on the outside so that the cage would fit on the shelf. With slightly better planning I'd have just made the table a couple of inches wider.

So what would you need to build a table/bench like this?
Measuring Tape (every gamer should have this)
Circular Saw
Sander/Sand paper
Clamps (useful, but not necessary)
Level (useful, but not necessary)
3" screws
1.5" screws
1 sheet of plywood (8'x4', cut in half)
6 8' 2x4 boards
2-3 hours

That's it! Depending on how well equipped your personal tool box is, it may be easier to have your lumber supplier cut the plywood and boards in half. That's what I did, then I trimmed everything to the size I needed when I got home.

Game on!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stone Spike - Elemental Monster

"By the Bloodlust of Gruumsh, I call forth the Destroyer!" The orc priest chanted "Let the blood of these humans quench your thirst and bring blessings upon our clan." Holding a spike of stone above his head, he plunged it down embedding half of its length deep into the stone floor. The spike slid in as easily as if it was sliding into soft soil.

"This is so not good" Rathgar said to his companions. They hung by their arms, suspended above the ground by a wooden framework in the center of a wide and shallow pit. Orcs lined the edge, chanting.

"What are they saying?" Nimble asked

Allianora answered "Oh, the usual. Our blood will stain the stones of their home. Our bones will become toys for their spawn. Our flesh will-"

"I get it." Nimble interrupted.

Chunks of the stone wall of the pit in front of them began to pull away, and a creature of stone burst onto the floor of the pit. A central maw surrounded by three spike tipped arms.

"Very not good. Everyone swing!" Pumping his legs, Rathgar began to swing his body around, causing the wood frame to creak.

Stone Spike

Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 4+2* (M)
Move: 90’ (30’)
Attacks: 2 arm spikes
Damage: 1d8+3
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: F6
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Special
Intelligence: 3
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 200

Stone Spikes are enchanted elemental creatures. They are solitary, territorial, and aggressive, but possess only animal intelligence. They are usually found on the prime material plane only when summoned.

Stone Spikes only take half damage from non-magical weapons. When killed its body will crumble and its elemental spirit returns to its home plane. Within the remains can sometimes be found a gem or chunk of precious metal worth 300gp (50% chance).