Thursday, May 26, 2016

And the winner is...

Rolling randomly from the entries received... The winner of Steel Victory, book 1 of the Steel Empires series is Elrics! Drop me a line and tell me where to send it!

And for those who didn't win, you should go here and order a copy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Balticon 50 is coming!

Friday begins the 4 day extravaganza known as Balticon 50! Hours and hours of sci-fi and fantasy literature programing, science panels, art, costumes, gaming, podcasting, and just hanging out with a group of amazing and dedicated fans.

Seeing as it's the 50th anniversary, it's gonna be big. How big?

But they've also invited back all of their previous guests of honor. These are the ones that are coming... you might recognize a few of these names.

Hope to see a few of you there!

Oh, and if you go out today, don't forget your towel!

Stonehell: A Cat, A Rat, and Some Bugs

Session 12 of Stonehell was played on 5/13

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 2 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Mollie)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)

After making their way back to town, Tink and Wilhelm split up to address their lack of funds. Wilhelm ran into Tobias, and they hatched a plan to scout out another bit of the dungeon. Heading down alone, they find the kobolds had finished bricking up the doorway. Wilhelm used his pick ax to open it up again. Stepping over the pile of bricks, the two of them make it to the Wheel of Fortune, and each gave it a spin. Wilhelm didn't notice any change. Tobias did, as he was polymorphed into a black cat! This exciting turn of events caught Hamlet completely off guard, and it turns out, he really doesn't like cats.

Struggling to keep Hamlet under control, and get everyone out of the dungeon to try to fix Tobias, the zombies in the hallway almost caught the party by surprise. Rather than engage, Wilhelm dropped his shoulder and plowed past them. Not being very smart, the zombies ended up grappling with each other, and everyone got out alive.

Back in town, Wilhelm took Tobias (now in cat form) to the temples to get him fixed. Not that kind of fixed. The priest was willing to help, but wanted a golden flail from The Quiet Halls in Stonehell. Not wanting to go back alone, Wilhelm traded the key to the pharmacy to Buckman One-Eye, from whom Tink had previously bought map scraps, for a map into the quiet halls. Buckman also offered 25gp to copy Tinks' map. Wilhelm agreed. A short while later, purse full, Wilhelm hired Wormy IV, Frankie, Sawyer "Crazy Eyes", Reggie and Mal the elf.

Figuring that Rocky might be able to shed some light on where the golden flail and the Quiet Halls are. Rocky was pleased to see them, and especially to see Wilhelm with the pick ax. Unfortunately Rocky seemed mostly unhelpful, not knowing how to turn Tobias back or anyone who can. Rocky did know how to get through the doors into the quiet halls, and described how a blood sacrifice needed to be made to open it. After scratching an itch for Rocky, they press on.

Wilhelm got a bad feeling approaching the room before the double doors were supposed to be located. He remembered the ghost that scared half the party before, and warned everyone to steel their nerves. It didn't help. Hamlet, Tobias, Mal the elf, Crazy Eyes and Frankie all run at the sight of the spirit. Hamlet completely leaves the dungeon. Tobias almost does. Mal, Sawyer, and Reggie don't get very far, and Mal collects the blind in the dark humans and they carefully make their way back to the room with the ghost. Wormy and Wilhelm are the only ones who see the ghost disappear immediately after everyone runs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Steel Magic Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

So you want a free copy of Steel Victory, in celebration of today's cover reveal for Steel Magic? You've come to the right place!

I've already got a copy in hand! And it's good...  
Just share this post... anywhere! Facebook, Twitter, G+, and paste the link in the comments below, and I'll pick one lucky sod to receive a signed copy of Steel Victory on me. The random winner will be chosen Wednesday evening, sometime around 7pm Eastern.

Want to pre-order a copy of Steel Magic? Easy! Click here!
Funerals are usually the end of the story, not the beginning.

Newly graduated warrior-mages Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas find themselves the last remaining mages in the city when a mage school teacher mysteriously falls ill and dies. But taking over the school themselves isn't in the cards. They're set to become professional mercenaries-if they make it through the next 18 months as journeymen first.

The debate over whether to hunt mutated monsters in the Wasteland or take posh bodyguard jobs is put on hold when a city elder hires them to solve the mystery of the disappearing mages. Toria and Kane's quest brings them to the British colonial city of New Angouleme, where their initial investigation reveals that the problem is even greater than they feared.

But when a friend is kidnapped, they'll have to travel to the other side of the globe to save her, save themselves, and save magic itself.
And here's a much better pic of the cover.

About the Cover Artist:
Bradley Sharp was born in 1977 in Oxfordshire, UK. From a young age he filled many sketch books, so it only made sense to study Graphic Communication at Nene University, where he received a BA Honors degree in 1997.

But the real world called Sharp away from academics, so he traveled around the globe a couple of times, working as a graphic designer. Now he makes a living by designing magazine spreads, but freelances with vector illustrations, allowing him to create something far-removed from what he does in his nine-to-five job.

Sharp finds vector to be an easy tool and believes anyone can use it. "I'd say my artwork is nothing more than glorified doodling. I like the logical inconsistencies of surrealism and find inspiration from many places such as music or the science fiction genre. Dog Star's novels lend themselves well to my style. I look forward to working with DSB in the future, and hope fans will like the imagery as much as they enjoy the words." Find Sharp's work online at

About the Author:
By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook (, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Steel Victory Giveaway!

Like I said on Saturday, I'll be giving away a copy of Steel Victory. Interested? Check back tomorrow on how to enter.

Not sure if you're interested? Check out my review from last year below.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reviewer e-copy of this book from the author, who is both a friend and one of the players in my Friday night D&D game. Didn't stop me from buying a copy.

One hundred years ago, the vampire Victory retired from a centuries-long mercenary career. She settled in Limani, the independent city-state acting as a neutral zone between the British and Roman colonies on the New Continent.

Twenty years ago, Victory adopted a human baby girl, who soon showed signs of magical ability.

Today, Victory is a city councilwoman, balancing the human and supernatural populations within Limani. Her daughter Toria is a warrior-mage, balancing life as an apprentice mercenary with college chemistry courses.

Tomorrow, the Roman Empire invades.

It's very difficult to pigeonhole this book into a single genre. It's a post apocalyptic story, set in a city at the edge of the american wasteland after some nuclear war (WWIII?).

It's an alternate history, not just because of this war, but also because the Roman Empire never fell, and in the old world its primary opponent seems to be the British Empire, and the city that's the focus of the story is like an independent Greek city-state that serves as a neutral buffer zone between their respective new world colonies.

It's paranormal-fantasy because... well, elves, were-creatures, wizards, and vampires. Thankfully no one sparkles and the relationships mostly tend away from high school level drama, and more toward mature adult.

There's a lot going on in the too short 215 pages including an invasion by one of the empires that happens to coincide with a flareup of humanist activity within the city and the problems that causes. It's a rather on-point topic at the moment, but handled pretty well by the author.

The difficulty in assigning Steel Victory to a specific genre is never once an issue while reading it. You'll find yourself far too engaged in wanting to know what happens next to bother worrying about it!

My only issue with Steel Victory is that the author lets you look behind the DM's screen a couple of times, wanting you to know that there is a reason for this, that, or the other thing. It's something I recognize, since I've done it myself at the table. Feeling the need to prove that I know what I'm doing and not just making it up as I go along (even worse when that's exactly what I'm doing). Learning to have confidence in your ability to manage your table, to trust your players/readers to have faith in you takes some work.

But remember, you already have buy in. They sat at your table, they bought your book. They want to have a good time, and they're willing to go along for the ride, even if they can't see the background work that goes into it!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Inspirational Image: Stonehenge

The view from the center of the ritual circle is pretty nice for the sacrificial victim... at least until the knife comes into view.

Found on the internets.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Steel Victory leads to Steel Magic

Tuesday the cover of Steel Magic will be revealed to the wide world!

What's Steel Magic? It's the sequel to Steel Victory. What's Steel Victory? It's the first book in the Steel Empires trilogy.

To celebrate this milestone, I'll be giving away a signed copy of her first book Steel Victory with the cover reveal, and a signed copy of Steel Magic in July, when the book is actually released! (not necessarily to the same person)

Interested? Check back here on Tuesday! Can't wait? Go buy a copy today!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stonehell Fairies are Jerks

Session 11 of Stonehell was played on 5/6

Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 3 (Nadia)
Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 2 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Tink, a pretentious Elf 1 (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)

Stayed in town
Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Molly)
Narford, fighter 1 (Usually Emily, but played by me)

In town, the party hires Wormy III, and Gax the Spearman before heading into the dungeon. Going down the stairs, they hear the sound of Kobolds chatting and working on something. Once they're into the room they see the kobolds bricking up one of the doorways.Everyone stops and looks nervously at each other. "We saw nothing" Tink finally says, breaking the silence.

The kobolds nod, and one says "Us neither."

Heading straight for the dragon's caves and the well, the party sees and hears... someone down below. Shelly is lowered Mission Impossible style down the well, but drops a little too far into the room. Big smelly barbarians glower at her, and she yells to be pulled back up and is before the barbarians poke at her with their weapons.

Tink and Wilhelm think these may be the same ones they encountered before, and so they lower a flask of wine down, to much cheering from below. While they aren't the same group, once Wilhelm again sings them the song of his people, things go swimmingly well. They even offer to go with them, but the party declines.

Taking a new path, the party follows a twisting corridor to a dead end. Written in flame chalk is the phrase "This is a trap" though no trap could be found.

Moving on, they discovered a room with a stone idol squatting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by an intricate pattern of humanoid bones. No traps could be seen from the doorway, and after much hemming and hawing they used their 10' pole to disrupt the bones, sending them clattering around the room, all the while expecting something horrible to happen, and screaming in anticipation. Nothing did happen that they could see... so they scooped the idol up in a bag, and took it with them.

The next room had a scything blade trap that was easily found and disabled.

Tinkling laughter drew them to the next door. The party knocked, and the mirth was instantly silenced. Eventually a voice asked "who's there" which led to a conversation, and then opening the door to reveal a group of 6"-12" tall fairies flitting about a large pillared chapel of some sort. A circle of mushrooms was growing out of the broken pews that littered the floor. The party gifted some wine to the fairies, and they chatted for a bit. The fae folk told them of a treasure that could be found not too far away.

Moving on, the party opened the door to a room full of webs. "Light it up" was the consensus. The brilliant intensity of the fire lasted mere seconds as the room briefly became an inferno. THankfully the party was all out in the hall. The two giant spiders within the room didn't feel so lucky, and when the door was reopened, they came scurrying out. The noise also attracted the attention of a large pack of beetles that spit caustic oil.

The party ran for the fairies' room to recover from the fight. This worked in keeping from dying, but as the party drifted off to sleep, they awoke in the canyon without a single gold coin among them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Stonehell Brigand Caves

Session 10 of Stonehell was played on 4/15

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 1 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 2 (Nadia)
Narford, fighter 1 (Usually Emily, but played by me)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Molly)

Taking on as many hirelings as they can find, the troop heads out, determined to explore the upper trail that leads out of the canyon, making a quick stop at the (thankfully) empty wolf den. Once they hit the upper trail, they see and are seen by a trio of ruffians, who immediately turn tail and run back the way they came.

Following the fleeing bandits, they come to a large cave mouth. At the entrance the ceiling is as tall as two men, but quickly slopes down to a height of maybe 16". Even Shelly would have to crawl to get in. Narford drops down to look, and crawling through a little he can see and hear horses and a few men. The men begin to stomp and kick at him, but Wilhelm yanks him out before he takes too many blows to the head. The men in the cave tell the party to bugger off. With something of a shrug they do...

But just a little further down the trail they find the real entrance to the caves hidden (not well) by some bushes! With abandon, they head in, warriors at the front. There is a brief, and tense standoff with the 3 bandits in the cave, which ends when more start arriving. The fighting is close and brutal, with hirelings and bandits dropping quickly. Unfortunately for the party, the bandits keep getting reinforcements!

Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, the party runs for it, lighting the bushes on fire as they flee, hoping to forestall any pursuit.

Heading further down the path, the trail opens up into a valley. Down below they can see what looks like an abandoned tower. Feeling low on health and backup they decide to head back to town. As they get close to the caves they see the brigands tossing bodies off the cliff. When spotted they retreat back into the cave. The party gathers more brush and shoves it into the cave mouth lighting it on fire again, and run for it.

Gains: Shelly and Wilhelm level up
Kills: 7 Brigands, 1 Highwayman
Losses: Maxx, Guy, and several other hirelings

Monday, May 16, 2016

Painting Nathavarr The White (part 1)

Nathavarr is the dragon from the Dragons Don't Share II set from Reaper. I'm using these post to not only share the progress I make on him, but also to record what exactly I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and most importantly why I'm making the choices I am.

Let's start with what others have done. This is the box art, showing him painted up as a red dragon.

Since I'm painting up this set to work for Frostgrave, I figured that a red dragon maybe wasn't the best choice for a frozen city. So, a white dragon is the obvious choice. Painting white is hard, especially if you want it to look good. I've never been all that good at it, and I didn't just want to plop a dragon on the table that looks like unpainted Bonseum.

Aka Boring!

Now about the same time I was contemplating Nathavarr I received the Halloween paint color Spectral White in an order from Reaper. It's a just ever so slightly pinkish white, and that got me thinking. Since I'm doing most of my Frostgrave terrain in cool grey, a warm white might make a nice contrast. Not wanting to commit myself to painting the whole dragon, I decided to do a test paint using one of it's arms.

I started with a base coat of Dusky Skin, then a 50/50 mix of Dusky Skin & Spectral White. Then I gave the scales a wash of GW's Baal Red wash.

The scales got a couple of watery layers of spectral white.

And while it's hard to see in the pic, the edges of the scales got a bit of Warpaint's White. I really like how both the Dusky Skin sets off the white, and the Baal Red Wash looks between the scales.

I then painted the rest of Nathavarr with Dusky Skin, and stuck the arm on. It works... And you can really see the contrast between the cool stone and the warm of the dragon.

The next part is going to be the head... I certainly can't leave most of it Dusky Skin colored, even though there aren't actually very many plates/scales. Stay tuned for part 2!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Frostgrave: Don't Blink at the Tremors!

We got together to play another session of Frostgrave today. Things started poorly for me when I realized that I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN TO GRAB MY MINIATURE CASE!

Thankfully Chris (our host) has a large assortment of minis, and hooked me up with a substitute warband. I really need to bring a better camera...

The board. I was set up in the bottom left side. Chris and his illusionist in the upper left, Don and his Druid (witch) middle top, Greg and the Doctor (Chronomancer) upper right, and Jim's warband on the lower right.

My crossbow-dwarves took up elevated positions in the ruined keep. Things started pretty poorly for me. Because of my entire group's elevated position, Chris has a great line of sight on most of my guys. My knight got Mind Control cast on him and he was forced to attack his dog. Princess didn't take well to that and caused him some nasty damage. That snapped him out of the spell, but... My wizard failed to cast Telekinesis, and then shortly thereafter a giant sigil appeared in the sky, a Draining Word that made Telekinesis to be harder to cast.

Following on that, my necromancer was Glowed, In retaliation, he shot a Bone Dart at Chris' apprentice. Hard. Don's ranger took advantage of my bright and shiney necromancer, and my necromancer dropped. And thus in turn 2, both Chris and I were out half of our spellcasting power. Suddenly Don's flank was a much less dangerous place.

My huts stacked up make a weird but workable wizards tower. Also, a wonderful place for my apprentice to Leap a thug to grab some treasure.

Chris' warband

The druid...

And his zoo
Jim's wizard and band.

The Doctor.
It didn't take long for the first worm to show up... And it managed to take down a number of Chris' band before being killed.

Fight on the docks with a living statue...

A combination of melee (Chris) and crossbows (mine) took down the worm.

My zombie tried to slow down that statue. It didn't go so well. Chris' taking down my wizard in the 2nd turn wasn't very nice either. Having tagged him with glow first? That was just mean.

My thug hiding on the upper balcony while Don's treasure hunter fought a statue in the tower. He managed to beat it, but then my thug came around and bashed him in the head and claimed the treasure. My other thug in the ruins on the left was just about to pick up the treasure. Seconds before he could he was sprouting arrows, and bleeding out in the snow. Seconds after that, another worm emerged under his body, further breaking his corpse.

My dog chasing one of Chris' thugs running with a treasure. Once again, my dog died... every game so far.

Worm #2 showed up, killed a guy, went through the wall killed some more guys... Meanwhile my treasure hunter went toe to toe with one of Don's.

My apprentice taking pot shots with Bone Dart at Jim's fleeing adventurers. This didn't last long, as Don's ranger came around a corner and dropped her like her master.

For the second time, Chris' wizard Mind Controls my knight, and this time he and my treasure hunter take each other out.

When the dust settled, Princess was once again dead, as was the poor thug in the ruins. The knight and the treasure hunter get to spend the next game back at the inn apologizing to each other. My apprentice woke up with a headache, but otherwise made a quick and clean recovery. Somehow my Necromancer managed to lose his Fate Stone while being carried back to the inn...

On the other hand, the treasure recovered included 2 Grimoires, and 570 gold coins! Also, enough experience was earned to go up 2 levels (almost 3).

Amazingly, in spite of the fact that there were 15 treasures on the table, and correspondingly 15 chances for wandering monsters, only 1 wandering armored skeleton stumbled onto the board. Given that there were also 2 giant worms and 15 living statues to deal with, that was probably for the best. It was a bloodbath anyway!

Chris' write up is here.
Don's write up is here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Stonehell: Dragon God and Ill Fortune

Session 9 of Stonehell was played on 4/1

Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 1 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)

Stayed in town
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)
Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Mollie)
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 2 (Nadia)

In town, Frank decides to pick up some adventuring supplies. These consist of a new 10' pole, some confetti, and a couple of party hats. He also hires a number of meatshields: Wormy II, Narford, and Rothgax.

Entering the dungeon, they immediately head through the ogre faces, past the dragon’s den, and to the room with the carved faces. The floor is still marked with wax from their previous visit showing where the pressure plates are. Unfortunately, someone had messed with the wax marks, and darts fired from the open mouths of the faces lining the walls. Rothgax took a dart in the throat, and bled out almost instantly. His lifeless body was dragged clear of the trap, and then stripped of anything of value. Wormy got his armor, though it was a little large on him.

Beyond the stone face room, and then the large stone face room they followed the corridor to the pit trap full of scorched zombie corpses. They were poked repeatedly to make sure they were dead-dead, and not un-dead. Beyond that, they came to an old store room. After spending some time digging though old boxes, sacks of seeds, and chests of rotted clothing a sledgehammer was found to be a little rusty, but otherwise serviceable. Frank claims it and promptly hands it to Wormy to carry.

Further down the hall they come to a large room that looks like the ceiling will cave in. They skirt the edge of the room quietly, and out into another corridor. Arriving at a 4 way intersection they head up into a more natural passage that opens into a cave with glowing moss, and realize they’ve come to the bottom of the dragon’s caves. They head back to the intersection, pick a different direction, and find a massive double door. It’s locked.

Heading back to the room with the collapsing ceiling, they pick a different doorway and come to a chamber with an interesting statue. Standing nearly 10’ tall, the reptilian figure had 4 arms, and a great horn on its snout. The lower arms held a bowl that was full to the brim with coins. After investigating they found the bowl trapped, so the party arranged a makeshift net to try to catch the coins without being too close. The trap was triggered, causing a section of ceiling to collapse down in front of the statue. Everyone was far enough away and no one was injured. The net on a pole didn’t work well, but the spilled coins were collected safely.

Past the statue chamber, they came to a dead end with a fountain. They didn’t find anything interesting, and retraced their steps. Blocking their way was a group of skeletons! As there was nowhere to go, the fight was joined. The battle was joined. Several skeletons fell quickly, crumbling to dust with a single hit. Others gave as good as they got before falling. Frank didn’t make it… Narford claimed leadership over Wormy, and they moved on.

Back to the dragon’s cave with the glowing moss, they poke it, but it doesn’t respond. They return to the intersection, and take the last passage. It brings them back to the long lost fish fountain! From there they make it to the wheel of fortune. Only Wilhelm is willing to spin. He feels his ax arm responding slowly to his commands. Deciding that since they were close to the entrance of the dungeon, they’d head out with their treasure.

Gains: 400gp
Kills: 6 skeletons
Losses: Frank, Rothgax

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A to Z Reflections

The A to Z Challenge for 2016 is over...

I completed the challenge, though a bit late. Some mishandling the scheduling of posts and a bit of writer's block, and getting sick got in the way. Didn't help that I wasn't entirely sold on my own concept. Cults... Sure, but what about them? As you can see from my posts it was a mix of characters, monsters, and magic items. Honestly kind of like much of the rest of my blog... and since that seems to get some views...

It was good to get back to posting on a regular frequent basis, and I'm hoping to be able to continue that as the year goes on.

Will I participate again next year? Who knows?? If I do, I'm going to try to have a firmer grasp on my theme.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Stonehell: Exploring the Canyon

Session 8 of Stonehell was played on 3/25

Tobias, Cleric 1 of Persephone (Molly)
Wilhelm, drunk Dwarf 1 (Julia)
-Hammond, war dog
Shelly, a vegetarian recovering alcoholic halfling Thief 2 (Nadia)

Stayed in town
Frank, halfling 1 (Emily)
Tink, a pretentious Elf (but I repeat myself) and former barkeep (Hanna)

Shelly, realizing that survival will be improved with a greater flock (also didn't want to carry her own torch) decided to bring along some of the faithful (to gold). He hires Namuun (Moon Moon) the torch bearer, Caldwell and Firan (men-at-arms), and Aldwin the Enchanter with his dog Poochie.

Heading out to the canyon, they realize late that they had forgotten to get a copy of the map from Tink, and rather than head back to town and trying to find her, they opt to explore the canyon itself. Opting to ignore the gatehouse, they head toward a footpath near the back of the canyon, stopping to check out the magical woods on the way. The magical forest is found to be still magical, hiding anyone in it from the sight of anyone outside of it. However no one else seems to be hiding in it.

Next they climb the canyon wall following a footpath leading to several caves. The first is dark, and large, and they send Moon Moon in first. He goes in, maybe 5 feet before seeing something move, and runs for it. Caldwell is sent in with Moon Moon to see what moved, and he sees a box. Fearing whatever the creature is, they continue on to the next cave, and are growled at by some wolves. Deciding that a pack of wolves aren't worth it, they continue up the trail only to find a spot so muddy that further ascent was impossible (I couldn't find my copy of Supplement 1 and asked them to skip it).

Continuing along the canyon wall, the next cave they come to is currently unoccupied, but clearly the home of a large animal. The best guess is bear. They avoid disturbing too much and move on. The next opening they come to is a worked unadorned stone passageway that opens into a large empty room. The air is notably cooler in this chamber, and there are passages leading out of the room to either side. The first leads to a chamber containing a stone hemisphere in an octagonal base, standing a total of about 5' high. Shelly discovers a secret compartment that Firan is ordered to open. He does, receiving some sort of shock. For his trouble he found the compartment empty. The chamber opposite was full of angry animated skeletons with glowing blue eyes. The first was taken down in a combined attack, though Caldwell took a raking from the skeleton's claws and dropped to the ground gushing blood. Then Tobias proved the power of his god by turning the rest. The skeletons crammed themselves into a corner while the rest of the room was searched, but nothing recovered. Caldwell was bandaged up, though his arm was now useless.

Across the canyon, they moved to the small group of rooms where Jorgen found the green slime, and the angry beetle was eating a goat. Poking around, they quickly find the beetle, which is just as quickly dispatched and gutted. None of the moldy boxes are poked through for fear of slimes. The skull of a goat is the only other "treasure" recovered.

Much further up the side of the canyon they found another animal den, this time a great mountain lion! They pissed it off by flinging a slingstone at it, and it charged out to attack. Ferian took a hit to the back of the head (sling bullet from Shelly - Opps!), followed by Hammond the dog having his throat torn out before the lion could be killed. Within the cave they find the body of an adventurer, armored in chainmail, and carrying a backpack, sword and shield. They take it all. Ferian had taken a nasty hit to the head, and was badly concussed, as well as blind due to being clawed in the face. Caldwell and Ferian departed the canyon to return to town.

Finally they come to a small copse of overgrown trees, and find a previously hidden passageway leading into a small complex of rooms! Exploring they find a rabid racoon, which is killed without anyone being bitten. Wisely, the dogs are kept away from it. They also find some large pillbugs (that they play with), avoid a sack full of sand to the face, then come to an old throne room hiding a secret chamber! Within is a massive stone table (how did it get in here?!?) that itself had a secret compartment. Figuring this was as good as it was going to get, and down their henchman, they followed Caldwell and Ferian back to town.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Summer Gaming

Summer is always a busy time, but it's good to make sure you set aside some time to game and have fun. In that spirit, I've got several events already lined up for the next several months. If you're in the metro Baltimore/DC area, you might want to check these out.

I'll be doing individual posts on all of these, but to give you a heads up so you can mark your calendars...

Balticon 50 with guest of honor George R.R. Martin! 5/27-30 (Memorial Day Weekend)
I've been going to Balticon for over a decade now, and every year it's amazing. There's a massive slate of panels ranging from writing & reading sci-fi and fantasy, art, costuming, and yes, gaming! As this is the 50th anniversary, they've invited back all of their previous guest of honor, and over 20 have accepted, including Larry Niven, Phil and Kaja Foglio, and Peter S. Beagle, to name just a few.

TridentCon's Polyhedral Pigout! 6/4
This is a 1 day gaming con being held on Saturday June 4. There's a full slate of gaming from 9am to 11:30pm, and your $20 entrance fee includes both lunch and dinner! I'm running the morning DCC game.

Charm City Gameday 9/24
This is another local gaming con, and one I've participated in since it's inception. It's still early, so there isn't too much to tell yet, but there will undoubtedly be some Pathfinder, D&D, and a whole bunch of other games like Traveller, DCC, Star Wars, and Fate in the mix. Keep an eye out!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Angels of Sorrow

The next game of Frostgrave I'll be playing in requires 6 statues, and while just about any mini can make a statue some are better suited than others.

For example, Reaper's Angels of Sorrow. I can't begin to say how glad I am they're available in Bones, since I probably wouldn't have gotten more than a single set of them if they'd been in metal. As it as, I got enough to handle this exact scenario.

I started by washing them in warm soapy water. They're then glued to small square bases, and magnets are glued to the bottom of the base.

Base coated with Grey Liner

Heavy drybrush with Alien Flesh

Then 50/50 Alien Flesh and Vampiric Highlight, followed by pure Vampiric Highlight

Don't Blink...

And the magnet is so that they'll stick to the tops of the pillars I made!

I knocked these out in an afternoon. The joys of painting simple stone statues...

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Zozo's Children

"We must! The board commanded it!" She was on the verge of tears, half hunched over with stress, and wide-eyed with terror. The old barn had been abandoned after the plague wiped out half of the animals, and left to rot. In the two years since it had become home to various wild animals, and a frequent place for kids to sneak off to.

"We should never have touched it." Jaren, her boyfriend, snarled. "This is all your fault."

"Mine?!" Keelie screeched.

"You brought us out here, and then didn't want to do anything but kiss me."

She fell to the floor sobbing, pressed forehead to the floor, and twisted her hair in her hands. "I don't want to." she gasped out.

"Don't want to what?" Elrik asked, poking his head through the barn door. "Gods Jared, what did you do to her?"

"It wasn't me, it was this stupid board." Jared picked up the letter covered board, and snapped it over his knee. "There, see? Nothing. It's nothing!" He yelled, tossing the pieces at her prostrate form. Her hands untangled and reached out for the board pieces, and held them together. Instantly, the board was a single piece again.

"No... no Jaren, it isn't nothing. We have to." Her eyes, solidly black looked up at him and Elrik. "We have to kill them all." She then fell limply to the floor.

"Kill who? What? Jaren, what's going on?" Elrik looked on the verge of running.

Zozo is a demon who specializes in trapping older children and getting them to commit horrible acts. He mostly uses intimidation to begin with, threatening them, lying to them, but once they've begun, they're his. Roving bands of them leave a swath of destruction in their wake. They show up in town, talking about the horror they just "escaped" from, and ask to be taken in, whereupon they terrorize those who were trying to help them. They begin slowly, starting with the local teens, getting them to join Zozo's cult.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Those In Yellow

"Let us walk in the woods, and tell sad stories of dead kings and lost princes." The dry leaves and fallen twigs snapped under her sandals, and the hem of her yellow robes dragged in the dirt. "Let us remember those forgotten, long ago turned to dust, names erased from history." The scent of autumn was in the air, of rot and wet and mold, as the world prepared for it's winter slumber. "Today we shall revel and mourn in our life and in our death."

The farmers followed behind the woman, their workday clothing stained with mud and sweat, out beyond their fields and into the woods that they avoided even looking at. The children of the village huddled together in the temple. Locked behind a barred door, and ordered not to open it before the rising of the sun the next morning. None of the farmers knew when that next morning would arrive, as the sky was without sun, and had been the whole day long.

When she came, as she did every year, she brought them through the center of the village, and out into the woods. No one ever saw her arrive, but they could feel her coming. The could feel her approach. They could feel it in their bones. And so they locked their children away and went with her. Most would return, and some of the women would come back pregnant. Some years a child would be born... different. That child would be taken it's first autumn with the adults into the woods. It was never returned...

Some lands are not suitable for people to live on naturally, but there are ways that that can be changed. Rituals, bargains, magics that can be done. Those in Yellow are members of a fertility cult that serve an ancient genius loci who demands a sacrifice every year. They are the descendants of those who made the original bargain, and carry the divine (demonic?) taint of that bargain.

Image Source: The King In Yellow by Dusk-Abomination