Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

5e WNW - Giant Issues

5e WNW - Session 25 of the weird new world campaign was played on Friday 9/18.

The party consisted of the following:
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 5 (Erindel)
Kethra, Human Fighter 5 (Nikki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 5 (Erik)
Riia, Human Ranger 5 (Hanna)
Guy Noir, ½ Elf Rogue 5 (Nadia)
Anya Bowen, Tiefling Ranger 5 (Allison)
Egan Gorman "Bingles" Sharpless Rosenberg, Gnome Fighter 5 (Julia)
Zugun, Coffin-bound Human Priest (NPC)

"Oh hell no!" Kethra mutters as she raises her club, and stomps toward the oncoming giants. Guy, Nessendra, and Riia follow behind.

"Throw me!" Bingles yells to Bach.

Bach grins, grabs Bingles by the arm and... rolls a 1 on his athletics check...

Bingles flys briefly... and rolls a 1 on his check, falling head first into the camp fire.

Meanwhile the giants lay into Kethra, hard! Anya launches an arrow between the giants, and causes a sudden growth of thorny vines to wrap around the trunk like legs of the giants. Guy, seeing the beating Kethra took, causes an inky purple cloud to form around the giant's heads. Nessendra runs up behind Kethra to heal her.

The giants ignore the thorns that tear at their legs, and step out of the cloud to bash Kethra and Nessendra.

Bach snipes with his eldritch bolts, Bingles rolls out of the fire, and charges in. Anya continues to send magic arrow after magic arrow into the melee. Kethra swings her club again and again at their knees, mostly bouncing off their hairy legs. Guy shifts the cloud around to try to block their views, and then closes behind the giants to poke them in the back of their knees. Bingles joins him, stabbing with gusto!

Eventually, they fall...

Camp is moved, and they bed down for the night. Aside from a light rain, things seem to be quiet during the overnight, until just before dawn (why are almost all the encounters right before dawn??) when a flash flood comes roaring down the rover valley. Everyone is ok, except Nessendra who gets swept briefly into the river, taking a bruising ride over several large rocks before pulling herself out. Collecting their things, they realize that Zugun has also been washed away!

They backtrack along the river for hours before finding the coffin washed up on the shore. Hours later, they're back at their old camp sight, and hours after that they spot a cabin... Hanging from the trees numerous animal skulls hang from braided vines.

"Careful!" Riia warns. "Killer trees..."

Bingles, followed closely by Bach ignore the warning and march right up to the porch stairs, and as they reach it, the door opens. A brown boar with intelligent eyes snorts and steps out, followed by an old crone with tight curly white hair. "What do you want?" she croaks. The party asks about the flat mountain top. "I know of it, though not where it is exactly..." she looks over the group. "I can tell you what I know, but I need something first. A giant's thumbnail."

The party sighs... another side quest... The witch describes the homestead of a family of giants not too far. They head off... back to where they'd already killed the two giants. Sadly, the flash flood seems to have carried the bodies away. By this time it's already full dark. They opt to continue, hoping to come across the giants asleep...

And they do! The massive cabin is dark and mostly silent, the only sound being the snoring that rumbles from behind the curtained windows. Most of the party keeps its distance while Guy and Bingles sneak around, scouting it out.

The cabin was divided into 2 rooms, the larger being the one that Guy and Bingles could actually look into. Within was an assortment of giant sized furniture, mainly a massive table and chairs, and also 3 sleeping giants. Two larger females in one corner, and a smaller male with a weird tentacle arm in another.

Guy stealthily crawls in through a window, dropping silently to the floor. Rapier in hand he stands over the prone giant, and repeatedly stabs him in the throat! The giant makes one desperate flailing attack, gurgling softly as he drowns in his own blood. One of the females grunts and rolls over as the male expires. Bingles, having only just pulled himself onto the window sill tosses Guy his handax, which is swiftly put to use lopping off the giants thumb. Guy then leaps over Bingles through the window, making a perfect landing, arms raised, ax in one hand, thumb in the other! Bingles drops from the window sill behind Guy, and the two of them hustle away from the cabin.

Returning to the witches cabin, she happily accepts the bloody thumb. In return, she tells them of an ancient stone bridge that spans the river another day or two further into the mountains. She thinks it might take them where they want to go... the party inquires about potions or magic items. She sells them some healing potions, and a potion of giant strength, as well as a pair of magical boots.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#6MMRPC Week 16 Terrain Break

I haven't touched Kaladrax since my last post. I have instead taken a break to work on a little bit of terrain. Taking advantage of my Hirst Arts molds, and the fact that I had a bunch of bricks already cast, I decided to play a little.

Nothing too fancy. Small peasant huts basically... But a nice way to switch things up a bit. Plus, if I'm going to make a ruined tower for Kaladrax, I should get back into building with Hirst Arts. Not that it's hard!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Inspirational Image: Pirate Ship

Keeping up the weekend Pirate theme, here's a cool looking pirate ship!

By Skyler Brown

Honestly, looks very Vancian to me.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Long John Silver 5e

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I feel like revisiting my Tim Curry series with his Long John Silver: the peg-legged cook, pirate, quartermaster and villain of the wonderful book Treasure Island, and the fun adaptation Muppet Treasure Island

Long John Silver
Medium Human, Neutral Evil
AC 15
HP (8d10
Speed 20 ft.

Str 16 (+3)
Dex 16 (+3)
Con 10
Int 12 (+1)
Wis 15 (+2)
Cha 14 (+2)

Saving Throws Str +6, Con +3
Skills: Perception, Deception, Intimidation, Survival
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Common, Undercommon
CR 5 (1,800 XP)

Crafty. Silver may use Deception in combat to cause attacks against him have disadvantage for the round.

Multiattack Silver gets 2 attacks with his cutlass (scimitar) or one with his cutlass and another with his pistol (hand crossbow)

Cutlass. Melee weapon attack: +6 to hit, 5 ft. reach., one target. Hit 1d6+5 slashing damage

Pistol. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 1d6+3 piercing damage.

Parry. Silver adds +3 to his armor class against one melee attacker that would hit. Silver must see the attack, and be wielding a melee weapon

Friday, September 18, 2015

5e WNW: The Shudder Mountains

5e WNW - Session 24 of the weird new world campaign was played on Friday 9/11.

The party consisted of the following:
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 5 (Erindel)
Kethra, Human Fighter 5 (Nikki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 5 (Erik)
Riia, Human Ranger 5 (Hanna)
Guy Noir, ½ Elf Rogue 5 (Nadia)
Anya Bowen, Tiefling Ranger 5 (Allison)
Egan Gorman "Bingles" Sharpless Rosenberg, Gnome Fighter 5 (Julia)
Zugun, Coffin-bound Human Priest (NPC)

The sky still fushia, with a blood red full moon that refuses to set, the party departs the "castle" and heads down the road. One of the guards points them toward the town of Bent Pines, also known as Brie.

Following the road, the party crests a hill after a ways, and sees a small collection of buildings. No more than a dozen or so rough log structures with sod roofs. Standing apart from them is a whitewashed clapboard building, a temple to the Sovereign (the local aspect of the god of civilization and justice). Tossing a blanket over Zugun, they walk into town, splitting up to investigate the temple, general store, tavern, and smithy.

Guy is disappointed with the general store, and annoyed that the blacksmith isn't willing to try to silver his rapier, and just fed up with the fact that no one is selling anything magical. Bingles and Riia sample the offerings in the tavern. Anya, Kethra, Nessendra and Zugun visit the temple. Anya quickly gets bored, and buys supplies from the general store. Bach wanders around town, attracting the attention of every child around.

The local priest shows up at the temple to lock up for the night, and is shocked to find anyone within. He invites them to join him at the tavern for dinner. By this point everyone else has already converged there, and many stories and tales are told. Rumors of a witch, sin eater, giants, devils, and the Bad Lick Beast are sprinkled though the tales. They also get a general lay of the land, though no one seems to have a map.

Nessendra and Kethra are offered space in the priest's home to rest. Bingles gets a hayloft. Bach finds himself snuggled in the home of the largest family, bedded down with all the kids who think the dragon-man is neat! Anya and Riia pay a silver each to crash in the tavern's common room. Guy ends up with one of the local logger's wife. The logger is out on a supply run.

Departing early they make for the witch's home, hoping she'll know of the mountaintop ritual site. After a day of travel they arrive at the spot where the river forms from the converging of 3 smaller rivers, and begin to make camp. Across the river a large hunched form. Guy and Bingles waved at it... Until Guy noticed that it wasn't attractive, and was barely humanoid. But it did talk, rather than just charging into the middle of their camp. Mostly he (she? it?) wanted something to drink. Bingles handed over a small cask of beer, which it promptly chugged, belched, and then asked for more. Since that was all the beer that Bingles had, and no one else was forthcoming, it then asked for shiny. Everyone handed over a coin, dropping them into the empty cask. Chatting with the big guy, he talked a bit about the mean speller down the river, and how he didn't like spellers. He then asked if anyone in the party was a speller. Bach cheerfully revealed that he was a spell caster. The big guy narrowed his eyes, and then pummeled Bach down hard, shrugging off the magic backlash of his Armor of Agathys. Rather then engage him, Guy created an illusion of a wild looking mage on the far side of the river, pointed at it, and yelled "Look, another one!" The creature looked, and then charged the illusion, crashing though it's insubstantial form.

Grabbing their belongings, they ran into the bushes, hiding there for over an hour as the thing stomped back and forth along the river bank. The next morning they pressed on toward the witches hut. As the day ended, they found a nice spot to camp, but just as they were setting their packs down, a pair of massive figures stepped from the tree line...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New Monster: Herder, Elder

As convulsions shook Rathgar, Nimble tossed a vial of oil down toward the mushrooms, and jumped toward Rathgar. Feris waited for the oil to splash before lighting it up with a bolt of flame. The initial burst of heat and flame helped to clear the air as Nimble wrapped himself around Rathgar. Allianora, holding the rope tight, yanked hard, pulling Nimble and Rathgar back from the pit.

The mushrooms clambered over the rubble, dirt, and flames, tendrils grasping upward. Feris loosed bolt after bolt of energy down into the mass, blasting them back. One of the larger mushrooms pushed past the others, knocking into Feris as it reached the passage expelling a cloud of spores. Rathgar and Nimble, pulled by Allianora, slam hard into it's spongy body, knocking it back down into the hole.

"And that's when things got really weird." Feris explained over his tankard. "I started seeing things... I could taste the red of the mushroom cap, and I could hear the smoke in the air..."

"Thankfully Allianora stayed clear headed while the rest of us choked on those spores." Rathgar raised his mug.

Nimble raised his in salute as well. "To our savior! Not many worse fates than being turned into food for mushrooms!"

Herder, Elder
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 3+1** (M)
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: Slam
Damage: 2d4+1+Special
No. Appearing: 1d3 (2d3)
Save As: F5
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: J, L
Intelligence: 2
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 100

Really old herders eventually grow into aged berzerkers that charge recklessly toward anything that isn't a part of their own garden. They usually stand between 7-8 feet tall at full extension with large red caps.

Anyone struck by the elder herder must make a saving throw vs poison or become confused (as the 4th level wizard spell). If the initial save is passed, no further saves will be required for the encounter. If the save is failed, increase the duration of the effect by 2d6 rounds for every additional successful hit against the target.

Monday, September 14, 2015

5e WNW: To Escape Wonderland

5e WNW - Session 23 of the weird new world campaign was played on Friday 9/4.

The party consisted of the following:
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 5 (Erindel)
Kethra, Human Fighter 5 (Niki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 5 (Erik)
Riia, Human Ranger 5 (Hanna)
Guy Noir, ½ Elf Rogue 5 (Nadia)
Anya Bowen, Tiefling Ranger 5 (Allison)
Egan Gorman "Bingles" Sharpless Rosenberg, Gnome Fighter 5 (Julia)
Zugun, Coffin-bound Human Priest (NPC)

Tizala the Bride of the Red King departed peacefully, and the party packed up and headed out. Shortly before lunch they came across a perfectly cute cottage. The party approaches, and knocks on the door. It opens to reveal an old woman with a GIANT head.

"Well HELLO!! Do come in!!" She says in a positively saccharine voice, grabbing elbows, and dragging everyone inside, sitting them gently upon plastic covered couches. Pale pink wallpaper, crocheted doilies, and small ceramic knick-knacks are the dominant features of the room. She seems overly happy to have visitors, and gives everyone a cup of tea, whether they want one or not, as well as scones and crumpets. Bingles is repeatedly shown back to his seat. Riia excused herself to use the bathroom, and investigated the mirror hanging above the sink. While large enough to fit her head through, it wasn't much help, though on the other side she say a rough outhouse style bathroom (two seater!) designed for larger than normal sized people. While Bach drained his teacup, everyone else just held theirs, and tried to get answers from the old woman. They learned little, only that she wasn't native to the land and came through a lake to get there. That she avoided the vampires, and they seemed to avoid her. That the flower children were planted by "The Gardener" and that it's not a nice creature. Finally she said she didn't have a mirror to offer. The party quickly thanked her for the tea, and scurried from the cabin at a less than polite speed.

Further down the trail they heard, but didn't see, wolves, and then stumbled into the middle of an extremely well tended bit of wilderness. Spotting a sphinx sitting off to the side, watching them like mice in a pantry, they again flee. The sphinx yawns at their departure.

A little beyond that, they come to a small mountain lake, the far side of which stood a group of men, 3 in red, one in blue. At the same time, a large brown rabbit with a horn hopped by muttering about being late, chased by a girl in a brown dress. They either didn't notice the party, or ignored them as they went down a flight of stairs that went underground. The figures at the far side of the lake caught sight of the party and advanced cautiously.

"Did you see them?" The man in blue asked the party. "Did you see the rabbit and the girl??"

The party pointed at the stairs, and the man in blue "I'm the doctor, but you can call me Bones" points to the guys in red and says that they didn't see either the rabbit or the girl. Focusing on the party, he pulls out a small wand and waves it at them. "I'd really like to get some samples, if you wouldn't mind." Looking at Nessendra "What color is your blood?" Conversation was interrupted when a troop of vampires in black and white came marching from the trees. Bones looked at them, then at the party, and decided that he needed to report this, and that clearly this wasn't a good location for shore leave. With that, he yells "Bring us up!" or something like that, and they disappear.

Deciding, once again, that they had a mission to get on with, they ran from the vampire troop. Hours later they spied a large stone tower with a turret sticking out of the side, that had a turret sticking out the side, that had a turret sticking out the side, that ALSO had a turret sticking out the side. There was a single door at ground level, and a single window on the highest turret. They knocked on this door, and a pale man with long black hair, and red lacquered armor answered blearily after a short while.

"Vat do you vant?"

"We're selling girl scout cookies!" Riia blurts out. Guy quickly conjures boxes of illusory cookies.

He stares at Riia. "Made with real girls counts?"

"Yup! Brownies, and sprinkled with daises!"

He invites them into the entry chamber. They use Zugun as a table, and pile the boxes on top of him. They settle on the price; a full sized standing mirror, which the second vampire up on the balcony above went to get. When the party gets the mirror in front of them, they basically begin to jump into it one by one in rapid succession. The vampires aren't down with this behavior, and leap to attack. Anya flails about ineffectively for almost the entire fight, Guy gets jumped on, but the vampire's fangs stick in the leather collar of his armor. Bingle's chucks an ax at one before being dragged through the mirror by Bach, and Kethra hulks out on the other vampire (Puny vampire!) while Nessendra grabs Zugun and tossed him though. One vampire briefly comes through the mirror still attached to Guy, knocking the mirror over in the process.

On the far side, the mirror tumbles to the ground as Guy and the vampire jump through. The mirror shatters, and the vamp is quickly dispatched.

"Who are you, and what are you doing in my castle!" A plate armored man with a flaming sword boomed out.

Looking around, the party realizes they're in the entry hall of a wooden keep. Several guards stand around the room wide eyed with disbelief and a bit of terror. Riai apologises for the party's barging in uninvited and asks where (and when) they are. The lord confirms the date (only a week or so since they left the chaos citadel) and that they're somewhere in the middle of the Shudder Mountains, and asks would they please vacate his castle!

Thanking the lord for his time, the party departs the castle out onto a fairly wide cart path.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Inspirational Image: Arriving

Arriving by Donglu Yu

Can you imagine the climb up to that castle?? I hope they've got a really impressive lift system of some sort...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to TotAM!!

I completely forgot that today is the 6th anniversary of my blog!!

I've been doing this 6 years...This is post 1533!  There are very few things in my life I've continued for this long... Honestly, if you'd asked me 6 years ago if I'd still be writing here, I'd have said "not bloody likely!" Yet here I am...

Of course a lot has changed in the last 6 years. Many, if not most of the blogs that I followed 6 years ago and inspired me to start doing my own thing, have gone silent. Some sit quiet, mothballed, waiting to be reactivated. Others remain only as dead links, sites nuked by their owners. A few have become infested by bots and squatters. (Sounds like a post-apocalyptic setting, doesn't it?) New ones have been built, and many of those have suffered the same fates. Yet the community of bloggers and gamers still seems to be going strong, and thank Gygax for that!

Will I still be here in another 6 years? At this point? Who knows? I don't seem to have run out of things to say, even when I avoid talking about the latest tempest in a teacup! If anything, it's more a lack of time to read and write all the things I want to. I'm still working on the second half of my thoughts on Blue Rose for example, and that's just one of over 20 blog posts sitting in draft format. So I will continue to write, game, and share it all here!

#6MMRPC Week 14: Kaladrax Kontinued

After spending several weeks staring at the base in its grey solidity, I decided that I needed to just finish it off, so I went at it... and while I was pretty happy with the stonework, the ground itself just left me feeling dissatisfied. So I painted it brown. And honestly, I'm pretty happy with it. I drybrushed some green in there, along with some lighter brown, and grey. Next I'll be adding the flock and moss to cover the skulls and treasure chest and various skulls.

I also spent a LOT of time making sure the spine showed a brown line of wash between each of the vertebra, as well as putting a drop of wash in each of the various facets.

Like I said in my first post about Kaladrax, this is a marathon! And I've reached the slog portion of things... But, amazingly enough, I have support! I just about used up my Gryphonne Sepia wash from GW, and was looking for a non-GW alternative. Bloodhowl over on the Reaper message board offered to mix me up a batch. A while later these showed up in the mail... and these are BIG bottles... about 1 fl. oz. each! And not just gryphon sepia, but dark sepia, armor wash, and black!

How cool is that?!?

Monday, September 7, 2015

#6MMRPC Week 13: Pathfinder Goblins

So 2 weeks I could claim victory for having worked on the base. Last week... not so much. Never picked up a paint brush. I don't even have the excuse of playing video games. I also realized that somewhere along the way I skipped a week... back in July it looks like. And this post should have gone up last week... Ahh well.

Since I don't have anything newly painted to share, how about some Pathfinder Goblins? I painted them a while ago... and wrote about it, and never posted it. So here it is.

Bones Pathfinder Goblins

Aesthetically, the pathfinder goblins are very different from the classic D&D style goblin. Their round heads and large mouths definitely fit the artistic style of Wayne Reynolds. Attitude-wise, they feel closer to the more fey nature of fairytale goblins, at least based on how they look. I haven’t actually read the pathfinder entry for goblins, or any of the adventures based around them.

Given how little they are, the sculpts have a fair amount of detail to them. I wanted to highlight that level of detail, but I also didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time on them. They’re just goblins after all, and between the reaper’s own goblins, the LotR goblins, HeroQuest goblins, the prepainted D&D goblins… I already have more painted goblins than I’ll ever need.

The base skin tone is an olive grey, the clothing is a leather is muddy brown (I think). The weapons were painted walnut brown, and then drybrushed with Mantic metal paint (gunmetal). Torches got the same brown as the leather, and the flames were base coated with yellow, and then highlighted with orange and red down near the base of the flames. Bones and teeth were picked out in bleached bone, and everything was given a brown wash. Eyes are dots of the same orange and red used on the flames.

For the whip witch (warchanter), I went with a bubblegum pink for her hair. That hadn’t been my original plan, but since I was going to go with black hair for all the other goblins, I figured if I didn’t like it I could paint over it easily enough. But the pink worked. I added in the bone for the top knot scrunchie. On mine it looked like the hair was pulled through a vertebra, rather than being weaved around finger bones.

I’m still not entirely sure what to do about the bases… I really liked the reaper goblin and kobold bases that were clearly stonework, rather than this… blob. Looks ok with some flock on it though.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Inspirational Image: Lost

Lost by Kerem Beyit

What lives in the old jungle ruins?

1. Immortal amoral alien entity
2. An order of lazy hermits who've founded a MRA/Libertarian Utopia
3. A band of misfit bards all playing unlikely instruments and doing it surprisingly well
4. Undead servants who mindlessly repeat domestic activities
5. Bandits!
6. Rats... and you're pretty sure they're just normal rats.
7. A druid helping to return the ruins to nature
8. An order of kung-fu nuns

Friday, September 4, 2015

5e WNW: Red and Weird Encounters

5e WNW - Session 22 of the weird new world campaign was played on Friday 8/28. We welcomed Julia this week as a starring member of the group, upgraded from the special guest star role she's been enjoying the last few months.

The party consisted of the following:
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 5 (Erindale)
Kethra, Human Fighter 5 (Nikki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 5 (Erik)
Riia, Human Ranger 5 (Hanna)
Guy Noir, ½ Elf Rogue 5 (Nadia)
Anya Bowen, Tiefling Ranger 5 (Allison)
Egan Gorman "Bingles" Sharpless Rosenberg, Gnome Fighter 5 (Julia)
Zugun, Coffin-bound Human Priest (NPC)

Guy's success at capturing Jack was short lived. The white rabbit looked deep into Guy's dark eyes with his soft pink unblinking eyes and said, quietly but firmly "Put me down." Much to Guy's dismay, he found himself doing just that... Jack flicked his ear, thumped his hind leg, and dive through a bush and down the rabbit hole he'd been going for all along.

After some general complaining about how they'll never get back in time to stop the ritual, especially as now the mirror is smashed, they press on. Hours later, near time to set up camp, Anya hears a baby singing a lullaby. Investigating she spies a giant rose tree cradling a swaddled squirming form. Not knowing what to make of the situation, and not wanting all the XP for herself, she returns to the rest of the group, and reports on what she saw. Riia was ready to charge in instantly, and screams of pain hardened the resolve of the rest of the party. Blades flashing, they quickly chopped through the thick stem of the plant, causing it and the swaddled figure to plummet to the ground.

Once dethorned and unwrapped the small gnome introduces himself, and in spite of asking to be called "Bingles" is dubbed "Rosie" by the majority of the party.

Moving off a ways, they make camp. That evening, near sunrise, a figure appears at the edge of the firelight. Everyone but Guy is woken with a swift kick or nudge and the woman steps closer to the fire and introduces herself as the Princess Ildna. Riia quickly apologises for trespassing, but Ildna waves it off as immaterial. The land is contested anyway. Her pale skin and sharp fangs hint at her vampiric nature. She warns the party of her sisters, and asks them, should they encounter one, to cause her pain. And that they look like her, but dress in both white or black, as opposed to her red, and that they might appear as black kittens. Due to the late hour, she doesn't tarry, but invites them to visit her at Castle Poenari, as it is filled with mirrors.

As the sun crests the oddly squared horizon, Nessendra discovers that her prayers go unanswered... disturbed, the party continues to the Northeast, further away from the castle and (they hope) the weirdness. Such is not to be as they come across the site of a recent battle. Among the bodies are a herd of large green pigs, all grunting, snorting, and hurling insults. Once they catch sight of the party, the insults are directed to them. One in particular, a boar of impressive tusks, hurls equally impressive barbs at the party, and accuses them of not playing by the rules. The party responds, rather quickly, with a resounding NOPE, and hustle away as quickly as they can. The pigs give chase!

Eventually the pigs get board and wander off. Some hours later they come to a bridge, under which a troll reclines in the muck. She questions the party, and then jeers at them for not playing by the rules, and informs them the boars have spread the word far and wide throughout the forest. He also tells them they do not want to go to the Northeast, but they don't listen and continue on...

...just in time to come across a large lizard. It croaks at them. Anya casts speak with animals, and begins to chat up the lizard. He doesn't seem particularly interested in talking. "Hungry" he croaks, fixing his dead eyes on Guy.

"For what?" Anya asks.

"Beef Stroganoff."

"Just eat them!" Squawks a giant blue bird of paradise from a branch above.

"Hungry. Beef Stroganoff!" the lizard croaks more forcefully.

At this, Anya decides that she doesn't want to become lunch, shoots at the bird, and a brief scuffle breaks out. Guy, Anya, and Bach flee in 3 different directions, Guy vomiting all over himself as he runs. Meanwhile the bird flaps awkwardly from the tree, landing on the lizards back and says "You should have just eaten them..." The lizard croaks in reply.

Collecting their comrades, the party finds a nice spot for a camp. Once again they have an evening visitor, a black kitten that Anya finds curled purring on her neck. It bites Anya, draining some of her blood. At first it's a pleasant sensation, but quickly turns painful. She tears the kitten from her neck, and tosses it into the darkness with a yell. Everyone stirs at that, and a moment later a white clad vampire introduces herself as Princess Tizala. She apologizes for the discomfort, but was hungry. Guy quickly drains a couple of HP into a cup and offers it to the stunningly beautiful woman.

Tizala then invites the party to the castle since, in spite of what the boars said, they seem actually civilized. Plus, she'd really like for them to kill her 'sisters' if they should happen upon them. However then Nessendra insults her, and gets a lace glove across her face in challenge. There is then a significant amount of eye rolling as Tizala explains the eminently simple dueling rules. Rather than go through with the duel, Nessendra offers a most sincere apology and a cup of her own blood. Tizala sniffs it, lamenting that a rare treat such as elven blood would be so contaminated by coming from a holy-woman, and pours the blood out sadly.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Backpacks and Blisters

Back in April I took to the trail, planning on covering about 230 miles in a little over 2 weeks. It didn't quite end up like I'd planned.

I started out so hopeful...

The short of it is that I made it over half way, but by that point I had blisters on all my toes and the back of each heel, several toenails that were actively falling off, and on top of that, I'd twisted my ankle. In short, I was very much in danger of causing serious injury to myself if I kept going. As it was, it took weeks before my feet fully recovered.

So what went wrong? Well, I'd hiked less over the winter than usual, and so I wasn't in good hiking trim. At least not as good as I was back during my Maryland hike. I'd also replaced my hiking boots, and while I did break them in prior to going on the trail, they didn't fit *quite* right for the type of long distance hiking I ended up using them for. Those were the two main factors to my having to my failure to complete the hike.

Not being in top shape probably wouldn't have been such a major factor if I hadn't done something kind of stupid... I pushed myself harder than I needed to. The 230 mile goal was tough. I knew it was, and I'd hoped that if I got a good solid start from the very first day, any slowdowns later would merely cut into the buffer I'd built up early in the hike. Unfortunately this meant that from day one, I was going 18+ mile days. With not great boots and 50lbs on my back... It just didn't work. I pushed myself too hard too fast, and paid the price for it. Recovery wasn't quick either. While I lost the first toenail within a day of going off trail, the last of 4 didn't finally give up the ghost until just a couple of weeks ago. And I've also been... reluctant to go on long hikes since I've been back, even after my feet got better. Part of that has been the summer heat, but the larger part of it has been the psychological hurdle.

It's time to get over it, and to get back on the trail. I've got 100 miles of Pennsylvania I still need to cross, from the 501 shelter to the Delaware Gap. My original plan had been to cover that distance in 6 days, doing an average of 16 to 17 miles a day. If I knock it up to 8 days, I come in at a far more realistic and feet preserving 12-13 miles a day.

I'm most likely not going to be able to take 8 days off to go back on the trail until spring. That doesn't stop me from getting back on the local trails and knocking out 4-6 miles on the weekend and getting back into shape! So that's my plan going forward, 4-6 mile hike per week, ideally with a pack. Unfortunately one of my usual hiking companions, my corgi Lucy has a knee injury, which means that for at least the next month, she's benched, and I'm going to feel a little guilty going hiking without her. Do I take her sister Alice with me? Don't know...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Maryland Ren Fest

Q got a new staff since the last time I saw him at the faire.

These tieflings were fierce and fantastic!

Probably the most impressive and fantastical armor of the faire.

This guy was a riot. Also kind of looked like a pre-Guardians Chris Pratt.

And the joust was interesting this year, namely because there was a female knight! Though she only participated in the games, not the knight vs knight part of things.

If you zoom in, you can see her here.

Things I saw, but didn't get pictures of: Malificent, a female Doctor Who, a spartan, and a whole bunch of cleavage!