Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 18 in Review


The exploration into Stonehell continues. Their fight with Ka-Nefar for control of the upper levels of the dungeon has

My 5e game is going really well. My religious dwarven wizard, when he rolls well, kicks some serious ass, especially when the barbarian is distracting whatever it is he's going after.

Haven't gotten in any Frostgrave in a while, and it's becoming an itch that I really want to scratch.


Painted up 2 dwarves; my converted Ivar, and Dain for my fellow dwarf player. Also painted up the Foo Dog figure as a golden statue with jade eyes, and the Donkey, both from Bones 3. The Deladrin, Autumnal Ranger that I started back in February has reached the point of "I'm done" even though there's more I could do. I also have been working on the Bones Stone Giant for my Wednesday FLGS D&D game. Still need to finish taking pictures and writing up blog posts for most of them...

Ninja CPA Review...

Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Avengers Age of Ultron
Captain America Civil War
The Punisher season 1
Jessica Jones (first couple of episodes)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Donkey and Foo Dog

Sometimes you just need a random mini…

The Foo Dog I pulled out for Chinese New Year. Rather than try to paint it up like some sort of actual living thing, I figured why not just paint it up like a golden statue? So I did. I think he’ll work well for a random terrain element or objective marker in Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago.

Base coated with Brown liner, I then painted him with a dark old gold, followed by New Gold for the broad highlights. The metallic red was painted first with Retro Red, which looked too orange, so I mixed in some Heraldic Red to strengthen the redness. The eyes I painted with Jade green, blended with Brown Liner to Linen White to try to give it a hint of gem-ness.

It was based on a 2” base, and I used a mix of gravel and sand to texture the base. This was painted with a variety of browns and greens, with dots of flock and turf. I added a few dots of orange to look like little flowers.

The Donkey was painted with Desert Sand and Stone Grey over Brown Liner. As usual, Linen White and Brown liner were used to shade. Oh, and for reference pictures, I used Donkey from Shrek rather than a real one… *shrug* The packages on the donkey’s pack were painted a variety of colors, mostly based on whatever paints I had on my work tray at the time. Just about everything got a wash of Sepia.

He’s based on a 30mm base with the same mix of sand and gravel as the Foo Dog. I painted the base a little differently, using redstone as the base. Otherwise, pretty much the same.

Total Minis Painted in 2018: 25

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Blade Runner 2049

First, thank gods it wasn’t a reboot.

It was an interesting sequel, and I liked seeing how they advanced the world. In tone, it was less Noir, and more… dystopian sci-fi. The impression that the world has changed a lot in the 30-ish years since the original, beyond just the changes due to a EMP that did a fairly through wipe of data around the world, and the various dirty bombs… and a world where the entire ecosystem has collapsed and a simple wooden toy is worth a fortune. Actually, those last 2 aren’t really any different from the first movie, but most explicit. Climate change, nuclear war, and who know what genetic-bio-warfare have all but destroyed the planet for human habitation. The colonization of other planets, and the mass exodus isn’t just for commercial gain, but, it seems, a necessity.

And I think it’s the mass exodus that I noticed most strongly. In the original movie it was crowded in the streets. Busy and alive with everyone pressed in together, even as there were massive buildings empty, or nearly so. In 2049, there wasn’t the same feeling, even in the busy apartment building.

As far as the story goes, I like that they made the Replicants easy to spot. I kind of thought that was a dumb thing to do on the part of the Tyrell Corp. Why make a slave class that can blend in to the non-slave population? This time, the hunt is for one who can breed. Apparently making genetically viable Replicants is hard, but the now defunct Tyrell Corp managed it? Also seems like a stupid thing to do to make a slave class self-replicating, especially when they’re stronger than baseline humans.

A worthy sequel, but I think not one that will join the original as a classic of Sci-Fi Cinema.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

5e: Hammerheart's Tomb

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

After looting the goblins of their meager wealth, we carefully entered the tomb of Hammerheart. Bloody smears directed our attention to a pile of corpses... the stripped bodies of the Neverwinter guards. Unartfully butchered, they were missing various bits. The rest of the entrance chamber was decorated with ancient tapestries moldy and decaying. Whoever buried him was not a dwarf. Such impermanent furnishings are unworthy of even a minor legendary figure.

The only door was trapped, and in spite of my guidance in the workings of the trap, Bran was not only unable to disable it, he set it off. Darts shot out, but thankfully whatever poison was applied to them had degraded over the years. Only Bran looked a little green after. While humans have much going for them, they do lack a certain toughness.

The next chamber was full of boxes and crates, most of them open. Only one remained locked and unmolested. Atop it was an old leather bound book, long abused. I carefully flipped it open using the tip of my dagger and peeked at the words within. Neat blocky runes revealed it to be not only a diary, but the diary of Hammerheart himself. Telling of his deeds, and his undwarvenlike disdain for gold... he gave it all away? Keeping only that which would help him with his questing.

While I read, Journey examined the chest. The next thing I knew Bran and Journey were squawking out different children's tunes. Thankfully as they arrived at the end of the first verse the chest popped open, reveiling the arms and armor of Hammerheart. Not knowing their quality or value we let them be. Disappointingly it seems that Hammerheart used a broadsword... At least it wasn't an ax. Thorin would never have let that go. Listening at the next door...

Note to self/party: Search for traps, listen at doors, then check for treasure. We were stupid and lucky this time.

Listening at the next door... we heard a deep voice say something in giant, and then in common "what are you?" Bran unlocked the door quietly while the questioning beyond continued, and then Rin peeked in. A cyclops stood in the far corner, yelling down at something hidden behind a stone tomb. When he whispered that a giant-kin was squatting in the tomb of a dwarven hero... I'm the one who went into a rage. I shoved past him, and my hands crackled with energy. Rin, surrounded by the ghosts of his ancestors... or maybe those he's killed? Shoved past me, leaping over the tomb, and swung at the giant. As I recovered from the shove, I used the same magic on the cyclops as I had on the goblin. Blue-white energy arced from my hammer into the giant's chest, and his flesh blackened as you could begin to see his skeleton flashing though his skin. Bran and Journey followed into the room, each launching their own attacks at the creature. Bolts of magical energy fired from Journey, while Bran flanked the beast.

With a grunt of anguished pain at my ongoing attack, the giant stooped down and hurled a boulder at me. Thankfully the ghosts, and the beast's poor vision kept it from solidly hitting, and I was only staggered. Momentarily dazed my magic faltered, but I called the words drawing on the power of the weave, and again the energy crackled from my hammer. Rin and Bran continued to slice into the giant's legs, and Journey fired bolt after bolt of fire, but it was my assault that kept distracting it. With an anguished wail, the desecrator threw his massive club at me. I used my magic to swat it aside, and at that moment Journey fired one final bolt into the beast's blackened chest.

Bound up behind the tomb, we discovered the Halfling cartographer. Happy to be free, he asked for time to finish his map. He's dedicated, if nothing else...

While he did that, and the rest of the party checked the giant's sack, I said a prayer to the Great Digger over the tomb... and noticed the carvings on the far wall. Depictions of the great battles Hammerheart had fought... and among the images carved there, a badger. She may not always care about others, but when she does, the signs are there! And what a sign! Clearly pleased with having rid this holy resting place of the foul taint of giant-kind, she revealed a secret panel, behind which was a great sword in an intricate bronze and copper sheath. The metalwork was clearly that of a dwarven master! A matching dagger wrapped in a sable ribbon of fine quality was with it, as were 2 tanglefoot bags. Taking all we cleaned up the tomb, removing the loot and the bodies. May Hammerheart rest peacefully.

As proof of our adventure, we also took the cyclops' head. Lady Awful was most impressed, though disappointed that the tomb had no vast quantity of gold. She was however interested in returning with us to Waterdeep to further inquire of the role in Nightstone. The journey was mostly uneventful, though we did encounter several groups of refugees from giant attacks. One particularly ragged group of peasants was clearly in need, and I handed over a small purse of gold to them.

As we passed the traveler's shrine that the giants had previously destroyed I called for a halt to our journey for the day, and spent the remaining daylight fixing it up as best as I could. Thorin and Rin were both helpful in the task, though oddly quiet. The destruction of a holy site must have touched them more than I expected.

Once back in Waterdeep, we went directly to the Hand and Horn, where Halla Hild (to be filled in next session). Bran and Journey wanted to spend some downtime in the city, so I went to work researching what I could find about ancient artifacts of the giant's civilization. Not surprisingly there is little written that isn't mostly speculation of things that happened before Moradin sculpted the first dwarves from the living rock.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Captain America Civil War

At the end of Ant-Man, we got to see Cap and Falcon with Bucky trapped in a giant industrial vice... that scene doesn't show up until about an hour into this 2 and a half hour long movie.

Heroes fighting each other is as common in comic books as variant covers, and it's happened multiple times in the movies already. In the first Avengers movie when Cap, Thor, and Iron Man went at it over who got to deal with Loki? In Ant-Man, when he robbed the Avengers compound and had to fight Falcon? Here we have the Avengers dealing with the fallout of having vaporized an entire city. The UN have voted to... institutionalize the Avengers. Tony feels guilty, and wants to shift any future blame. Cap... can't do it.

And let's take a second to look at that... the maverick playboy billionare is all about joining the system, while the soldier isn't. It's an odd reversal when you think about it, and while it works for the story, and based on the events of all the previous films... but it's still... odd.

Complicating everything is Bucky, who's back as the Winter Soldier, and has killed the King of Wakanda. Cap of course wants to save him, while Tony, Black Panther, and the world at large want to see him either locked up or 6' under. On top of that, you've got Wanda feeling guilty for the people she's killed, Vision trying to figure out what exactly he is, what he's meant to be, and his developing feelings for Wanda, Black Widow is... well, honestly she's as inscrutable as usual, and playing both sides.

Bring in some side trips to loop in Spider-Man (and Aunt May), Ant-Man, and Agent 13 (Falcon and Bucky in the car looking on was my favorite part of the movie).

The big set piece conflict at the airport was really nicely done. Both because it was a well put together fight, but also because you could tell that no one really wanted to be fighting each other. Everyone was pulling their punches, at least a little. It wasn't a fight to put the other guy down for good. On top of that, there was never a point watching that fight that I didn't know who was who or what was going on. Too often movies make combat as noisy and chaotic as it really is, or even worse, just a visual and auditory cacophony (i.e. Transformers).

Overall this installment of The Avengers Captain America is beyond solid. It takes the characters seriously while allowing the humor and silliness of everything to keep it from being an unentertaining allegory of American intervention and it's consequences.

Oh, and the post credit scenes? More Spider-Man and Aunt May!

Next Up: Doctor Strange

Monday, March 26, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Ant-Man

So way back when I started this countdown, I talked about how different movies brought other genres into the traditional comic book action grouping?

This is the heist movie.

Let’s just ignore the training montage this time, shall we? I get that they need to learn their powers, but I really do prefer when we get to meet the heroes after they’ve at least started learning about their powers. I get that it’s a way to show the audience what they can do, but… Is it really necessary at this point?

I love… LOVE how Hank Pym hates the Stark family. And how Scott’s first thought at the dangers of what the Yellow-Jacket could do was to call in the Avengers. This is a film that knows it’s part of the greater MCU, but in some ways is a little closer to the street level heroics of Dare Devil or Jessica Jones than the literally out of this world adventures of Doctor Strange, Thor, or the Guardians of the Galaxy. And it’s perfectly okay with that, and embraces it totally, as seen by the big fight between Ant-Man and Yellow-Jacket on the train board.

And I want Luis to narrate everything from now on.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Ant-Man and Wasp. I get why, story-wise, it made sense to keep Hope out of the suit, but it did feel wrong.

Oh, and the post credit scene? Falcon and Cap have Bucky captured… So glad Civil war is next!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Blade Runner

It's odd that I'm only just now getting around to watching Blade Runner, as it's such a classic sci-fi movie, yet here I am, having just finished it, and feeling the need to get some thoughts down about it. At some point I should probably also read the novel it's based on...

Spoilers below on the off chance that like me you haven't gotten around to this classic yet.

First thoughts? The design from sets to costume to lighting and makeup are all absolutely phenomenal! And had they set the movie in 2119 as opposed to 2019, I'd have found it far more believable. In fact, in my head, I just made that headcanon. The effort to make everything seem so advanced from 1982, yet at the same time dingy, run down, used up. Everything in the movie looks a little worn, weary, and a little sad. Faded glory... very noir, but an interesting blend of 40's noir plus 80's all pushed forward into a dystopian future.

I loved the costumes that you see for mere moments in the crowded street scenes. There's a lot of personality in every character, and the heavy Chinese and Japanese influences from the hats and umbrellas (due to the ever present rain) to the various street vendors helps add a layer of cultural blending that reminded me of the heavy mix of American and Chinese cultures in Firefly, though of course the influence ran in the other direction. I also really enjoyed... appreciated all the advertisements.

The next time I get around to running an adventure or even campaign that's city based, I'm going to rewatch this just for the visual inspiration.

The golden pyramid of the Tyrell Corp, and it's temple-like interior made the encounter between the replicant Roy and Tyrell himself a not so subtle allegory of the creation destroying the creator... killing your gods.

The genetic tech of Blade Runner is fascinating, and it hints at a word that has environmentally collapsed. None of the animals shown are "real" but are all genetically modified/created constructs... just like the Replicants. Genetic toys... be they toy soldiers, laborers, or sex toys... identical to humans, but with 4 year life spans they are ultimately disposable. It's interesting that the euphemism used to describe killing them it to "retire" them.

After sleeping on it, the other thing it reminds me of is Cowboy Bebop, which is interesting, as the Blade Runner Blackout 2044 animated short was done by the director of Cowboy Bebop, so clearly not a random connection...

And in answer to the question "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" they apparently dream of unicorns.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

5e: Off To Hammer Rock

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

I wish that my path was clearer.

My associates seem taken with joining an organization, and are off completing a task they’ve been assigned as a trial, while I’ve remained in Waterdeep to seek answers. It is an amazing city… it hums with a vibrancy that is beyond even that of the ringing in the great forges… though is far less productive. I’ve spent hours walking the streets, stopping in shrines, temples, and bars as I come to them.

This business with giants… it will not end well. It rarely does in the stories. Even when defeated, the damage is always terrible. When Moradin smote the giant-devils of the duergar the scars left upon Ferun in the battle still can be seen… What scars will this new conflict leave?

When I was young I would see signs everywhere… now? The Great Digger is silent… or maybe she is just waiting?

To follow up on the last letter, while no signs have made themselves apparent, my indecision is most definitely impacting my work. I have decided to continue on with Thorin. While I would claim that it’s to keep an eye on him, it is apparent that I am the one in need of it.

We’re heading north to visit with some noble who knows of a dwarven tomb, and seems intent on robbing it. While I’ve not been able to dissuade my friends from helping, as there is apparently some artifact that may assist with the giant situation, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to smooth over any issues with the dead. Two days into the journey as came across 2 stone giants tearing a traveler’s shrine apart. We stayed out of sight.

Meeting with the noble woman, who is not as old as I expected, she told of hiring a cartographer to find the tomb, and then when he got lost, sending some Neverwinter guards after him. They haven’t been heard from either. So off we went. The woods were strange… the Fae-Wild was close. And we found one of the guards, though we didn’t find him first. He was being held down by vines, and mocked and kicked by bugbears.

And I… was useless. My tongue tripped on the spells, and my hammer connected with nothing. Thorin acquitted himself well, of course, as did the rest of the party, taking out both the bugbears and the blighted vines. The guard, amazingly still alive, told of a glade, and a stone hammer, and his comrades, who he ran from when they were attacked. After resting up, he continued his running, and left us.

We pressed on. The birds cawed oddly as we came to the clearing he described. The stone hammer, clearly a work of Moradin, was untouched by mortal tools, formed from the living rock. It was an honor to touch it. Beyond we came to a small cliff face. Thorin noted some odd stones, and the barbarian worked the magic of the lock, using the bird calls we’d heard to figure it out, opening a door into the cliff. I was honestly not paying much attention, but I did see the goblins scamper down the cliff side! They focused their fire on the tiefling witch and the barbarian, though not entirely successfully.

After having a chance to center myself at the hammer, my spells flew much more easily, and I killed the goblin chief with an ease that surprised me. One goblin ran away, and the others were slain. They had little treasure on them… I wonder if they have a lair nearby. Perhaps we can explore the area after checking the tomb.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dain DeepAxe

When my fellow Dwarf player in my 5e game saw Fulhoff, he was super impressed, which was nice. And I offered to slap some paint in the mini he'd picked, Dain Deepaxe. Now, like Ivar, this is a quick and dirty tabletop standard paint job.

After washing trimming the base, and using my Happy Seppuku base stamp (I really do love this thing) I base coated with Brown Liner.

And started with the eyes. They're the same green as Fulhoff's. Green, for greed...

Warrior flesh for the skin, and Auburn shadow for the beard and horns.

Muddy Olive for the pack.

Oceanic Blue for the cloth, Armor for the chainmail, helmet, shield, and axe.

He really looks like a prepaint here... terrible... The Sepia Wash doesn't help the look either.

Combination of browns for the various leather things, including Rich Leather, Ruddy Flesh, Tanned Leather, Dragon Red, and even a bit of Heraldic Red for the extreme highlights.

The horns went from brown up through Desert Stone, to Bone, to Linen White. I'm pleased with the effect, even though it took a lot of layers.

The Gold was originally done with New Gold, but it looked wrong, so I went back over it with Dragon Copper, and then gave bits of it a glaze of Armor Wash.

The shield was done with a blend of Armor and Armor Wash for the back. I wanted it to look a very dark metallic. The Copper and Gold pattern was carefully picked out with combination of dry brushing and very careful edging.

And here are the cousins together!

Total Minis Painted This Year: 23

Monday, March 19, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Avengers Age of Ultron

As much as getting the Avengers together to showcase really big fun fight scenes is, and it is, what really works is the time spent between those explosions. And much like GotG v.2, the fault lines in their friendships are exposed, and then widened by the Scarlet Witch.

While you don’t have Loki kicking around giving sly smiles, you instead get James Spader hamming it up as Ultron, the evil robot created by Tony and Bruce as they tapped into Loki’s scepter. I really enjoyed him and Paul Bettany going back and forth.

But while Ultron was the bad guy in the movie, the conflict really stems from Tony Stark’s willingness to push buttons and just act without checking in with the rest of the team, while Steve has a moral streak a mile wide, and as the team leader expects to be checked in with before anyone does anything crazy… like let a homicidal AI loose on the world. Or abduct the homicidal AI’s next generation creation, and upload your personal AI assistant into it… Little things like that.

Fun twists and turns!
Natasha (aka Black Widow) has her turn with Bruce in this movie. It’s interesting how she, the consummate spy, morphs the most depending on who she’s with in any given movie, and while Banner might not trust himself with her, I’m not sure that of the two he’s trusting the right person. And I have to admit, I kind of hate that fact. It’s right for the character, but…

Hawkeye, though, he gets to pull the biggest shocker. He’s married… with kids! And brings the team to his farmhouse after they fumble in dealing with Ultron. Seeing the team deal with this surprise was a whole lot of fun. Thor pushing the broken Legos under the chair, Cap chopping wood (cause he needs to be useful), Tony fixing the tractor, and then Fury showing up to rally the troops.

And while Fury is the dad/coach figure of the movie, Hawkeye gets to be the older brother for the new members of the team… and point out the insanity of it all "The city is flying ... we're fighting an army of robots ... and I have a bow and arrow," he says. "None of this makes sense."

And for the end credit scene? Thanos, who we’ll be seeing more of soon…

Next Up: Ant-Man

Friday, March 16, 2018

DCC: Chaos Rising

I'm pretty sure I got this as one of my kickstarter rewards for the DCC 4th Printing... but however this fell tome came to me, it's contains horrors in abundance. Even more than Goodman Games usually packs into one of their releases. In this case, they pulled it off by cramming 5 different adventures into 56 pages. Now, these aren't new adventures, so you've probably seen one or two before, but unless you're a compulsive collector of DCC material, you probably haven't seen them all!

Here's what's included, with a brief description of each.

Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box - Level 1
This adventure is much more of a resource management adventure than you usually get with DCC where much of the adventure is simply getting down to the bottom of a pit and back out again. And the resource? Your blood! What? Did you expect it to be something else? It's literally in the title of the adventure. Come on now.

The Imperishable Sorceress - Level 1
This is an adventure that you can either build up toward, or just drop into a campaign. Crazy old dead sorceress wants to live again in her construct body, but needs the PCs to make it happen. Will she fool them, or will they take her body and treasure?

Glipkerio’s Gambit - Level 2
An adventure in reverse, though the PCs probably aren't going to figure that out right away. It's an inventive way to pull time travel into the game, and also the battle tracker makes actually running it possible.

The Tower Out of Time - Level 2
Arrival of the dino-wizard from the past! Interesting traps and tricks, along with some potentially difficult battles. Love the Behind the Scenes notes in this one. With that was a standard inclusion.

The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust - Level 3
Here's something you don't often see: heist adventures for D&D/DCC! Add in some fun extradimensional spider things and dangerous magic items, and this is a real winner of an adventure.

The Undulating Corruption - Level 5
Magic is wild, dangerous, and will eventually mess you up real good. But what if there was a way to fix it... what if that way was a A GIANT WORM that's going to eat a city?

The Infernal Crucible of Sezrekan the Mad - Level 5
You know what DCC does really well? It sets up a trap that unwarry PCs will gleefully jump right into. And this little 3 room dungeon is just that sort of trap.

What's Missing?
I wish there was a little discussion about why these 5 adventures in particular were chosen, and where they were all originally published. Aside from that, this is absolutely worth the price for all of the wonderful monsters, tricks, traps, and treasures that may... or may not be safe to claim.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

5e: Crazy Old Giants...

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

Morok is unconvinced that the goblins need to be dealt with, and the tiefling Journey found out that there may yet be another giant lurking near the city. A "friendly" giant. You can imagine my skepticism, but Thorin was ready to ride... RIDE off to meet it. I kept my feet firmly on the ground where they belong. Also, the tree-hugging elf thought he saw a dragon.

Unfortunately Journey's information was correct. There was a giant nearby, in a tower on a cloud. He even lowered a cloud stair for us to climb up to him. Remember what I said about keeping my feet on the ground? The rest of the party ignored my repeated warnings about giants, and decided to meet with this friendly one. While I'm sure there would have been little I could have done to deal with him personally, I might have been able to save one or two of them if things turned ugly... so up I went.

The giant's tower was like something out of a human child's story, complete with a hat on it. The giant Zathros Zethras was... about as silly. Apparently studying the arcane arts broke his mind... Yes, yes, I know you warned me many times about meddling in realms of knowledge that we dwarves are unsuited for but I hope you will not use an addled giant as one of your arguments!

He spoke of... many things, only some of which was comprehensible. A prophecy, or two, one of which involves us. He knew Thorin's name... and called me the "other one." He also got the humans mixed up, and didn't expect the goblin. Yes, Persy the halfling is still insisting we drag along that goblin. Makes me question his oracular skills...

Zathros also showed us some runes, which I've copied down here.

I skipped giant, and focused on Draconic, so I'm relying on the translations from both the party and the giant.

He also spoke about the breaking of the ordering of giants, the death of their queen, and the loss of their king. How does one lose a giant? One faction is out to try to rebuild the old giant empire of old and is collecting old artifacts to legitimize their acts.

While all absolutely fascinating, half of us returned to the ground, passing the opportunity to ride to Waterdeep on that cloud tower. Once we arrived in the city, Bran (he's the sneaky human) went off to visit a friend, while Thorin and I went back to visit the Glove and Horn and see Halla Hild to deliver the letter from her brother. Only when we were talking to her did we realize that neither of us had the letter.

Later, when everyone else finally arrived, Percy handed over the letter, then we were... how to put this... introduced to an interesting opportunity to help support Waterdeep.

I'm skeptical, but Bran and some of the others seemed for it. Plus she talked of her friend... Big H. Another giant...

While still deciding what to do, we also bumped into another halfling who'd heard about what we'd done with the Zents. News travels quickly! I'd much rather be dealing with halflings than giants. No one else wants to even listen when I say getting involved is a bad idea...

As soon as I know where we're off to, I'll let you know. Let your sister know that Thorin continues to be a self-promoting... dwarf. And that he's well. I know he hasn't bothered to write to her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fulhoff the Dwarven Wizard

After converting Ivar into Fulhoff, it was time to get painting.

As usual after a good wash with dish soap and a toothbrush scrub, I started with a base coat of Brown Liner.

And then I decided that I really needed to add a rope to the pack.

Sadly, because I was just kind of speed painting, I did not get many WIP pictures.

I can tell you the colors used though!
Skin was Warrior Flesh
Green were Muddy Olive and Viper Green
Browns were Ruddy Flesh, Rich Leather, Tanned Leather, Auburn Shadow, and Redstone Shadow
Beard was Blond Shadow and... Tanned Leather I think
Purple was Imperial Purple
Metal was Armor

Shading was done with Linen White added to the various colors. Shadows were usually done with a bit of Brown Liner.

As I was working, I noticed a really ugly bit of flash/moldline connecting the nose to the mustache, and had to fix that up. Unfortunately that meant scraping off some paint. And that was where I left him after one sitting.

So this is Fulhoff, to a tabletop standard after 2 sittings.

Total Minis Painted This Year: 22

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Stonehell: The Temple-Prison of Ka-Nefer

Session 58 was played on 1/16, and introduces my own sublevel to the dungeon... one that will have some far reaching consequences going forward.

Eiric, wizard 6 (Kat)
- men at arms (Koltic, Bollox)
- linkmen (Lomax)
- Neon (dog)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 5 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 6 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (GoMat, Scar the Useless)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 3
Brie, wizard 2 (Apprentice to Eiric)
Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 5 (Josh)

After resting and recovering in the Kobold Korners, Trustee Sniv comes to the party's room to announce that his workers have completed their task. The way is now open into the new section of the dungeon!

The party quickly gears up, and heads down to the Reptile House, with the kobold work chief and 2 assistants. Piles of rubble fill the pillared hall. Passing through the path between the piles, the party heads into the shored up passageway that almost immediately comes to a set of stairs dropping down into the dark.

Switching back and forth, following the stairs down, the passage opens into a large chamber. Without a railing, the stairs emerge from the ceiling, curving along the wall, but shattered before reaching the ground 15' below. 3 of the 4 rune covered pillars supporting the ceiling are intact, The 4th is cracked and broken on the floor. Between the pillars, in the center of the room is a massive sarcophagus. Eiric has the kobods weave one of their ropes into a rope ladder, dropping a few coins into their claws for their effort. The kobolds attach the ladder to the bottom step, and the party climbs down. Sitting on the edge of the stairs, the kobolds watch.

A-A-Ron investigates the room all around, working his way toward the sarcophagus. The runes on the pillars, and the writing on the sarcophagus are a mystery to him. Darryl the Dark knows the runes are magical wards against the Blacksun, an ancient deity of undeath. The sarcophagus is covered in the story of the dead within, Ka-Nefer, and warnings to any that would disturb his restless death.

Shifting the lid of the sarcophagus takes Orpheus, Karl, and 2 more hirelings, but they do, and a highly decorated coffin is revealed within. Darryl uses some charcoal to scribe some of the same runes from the pillars onto the coffin, and garlic and stakes are handed out to everyone. The lid is pushed off. Karl uses his pick to destroy the foot of the sarcophagus, and they drag the coffin out, looping it with rope to keep it closed. There is definitely something within, but they aren't ready to dare opening it yet.

Under the coffin was a small round hole, barely as wide as a dwarf. Ribs are set into the wall like a ladder. A-A-Ron drops a torch down, and it falls about 50', sputtering once it hits the stone floor. Bollux and Koltek play rock-paper-blades to see who would go down first. Bollux loses, gets a rope tied around his waist, and starts the climb down. He describes the room that opens up below him as he climbs. 4 large animal headed statues, and a pile of bones... Nothing too threatening... A-A-Ron starts to follow.

Once he sets foot on the floor, and picks up the torch, the bone pile rattles, and then pulls itself up into a 4 armed monster! Bollux wants to bolt, but Eiric tells him to stay there! Grabbing another coil of rope, they stick the grappling hook through Darryl's belt, and drop him down. A-A-Ron manages to avoid getting hit by the falling cleric, who gets yanked hard about half way down. Pointing his finger threateningly at the bone monster, he summons his divine power and... nothing happens. A-A-Ron sends a screaming arrow into the monster's skull. Bollus flails at the creature with his sword, but doesn't even chip a bone. He leaps back and tries to scale the ladder, but the best grabs his leg. It rips him from the ladder, and uses it's other 3 arms to tear him apart. A-A-Ron shoots it again in the skull, now shattered, and then keeps climbing down. Darryl grabs the ladder, and Karl drops into the hole going down. Darryl see's the dwarf coming and climbs down as well.

A-A-Ron dodges and weaves around most of the arms, but gets slammed against the wall. He stabs back with his sword, bones splintering against his 3rd critical hit. Karl, about 10' above the fight, leaps down onto the beast, Hammer of the Honey Badger first, and crashes through it. Bones scatter all over the floor. Looking on silently, the 4 tall animal headed statues do nothing.

After the rest of the party makes it down, including the dogs (Neon long suffering, Hobart goofy) they examine the only door out of the room. Massive, bronze, and completely covered in pictograms. Over this are black runes seemingly burned into the metal, a divine lock to keep something in. Karl shrugs, and tries to push open the door. Black lightning sends him reeling away from the door. Darryl summons his own gods power, and turns the door's magic. The black runes fizzle away under the sustained turning.

A-A-Ron notices that the pillared corridor before them is trapped, Specifically, blades in the pillars, but he can't find a trigger. Karl, sure the pillars are decorative, smashes the first, revealing the blade mechanism, and then smashes that. As he does, beetles begin to come out of the far end of the corridor wall, and chitter loudly as they swarm toward Karl. As he sprays them with Power Thirst the now flaming bugs form onto a skeletal humanoid shape and attack. Orpheus jumps in, and both Karl and Orpheus take some hits before the bugs drop and disperse. The whole party then engages in several minutes of bug stomping.

Karl resumes smashing the pillars until the last set, when Eiric wants to test the mechanism. Karl tells Scar to stick his finger between the pillars. Scar breaks down, falling to the floor, and crying in terror. Karl then turns to GoMat, who reluctantly agrees. Nothing happens. They try using Bollux's mostly intact body, but again, nothing happens. Karl offers the gold and silver arm band he wears, to GoMat if he walks through it. He does, and once past the pillars, the flagstone shifts under his feet, triggering the trap, but as no one was standing near the pillars, the blades scythe out harmlessly. A-A-Ron disables the pressure plate, while Darryl marks up the hallway with the runes he copies from the pillars.

Ahead of them, a large empty room dominated by a glossy black sun covering most of the north wall, and ceiling. Black rays shoot along the walls, and between them, figures carved into the wall cower from it.

Gains: None
Kills: 2 Scarab Defenders, 1 Bone Golem
Losses: Bollux

Monday, March 12, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Guardians of the Galaxy

Hands down, this is one of my absolute favorite movies. No, not just MCU or even comic book movies, but out of all movies I’ve ever seen, this one is at the top of the list. It’s one of very few movies I’ve ever seen in the theater more than twice, and one I’ve watched… probably close to 20 times in the 4 years since it was released. Not only that, but it’s also one of the MCU movies my bride really loves too! (she thinks most of them are boring)

I was going to link to my original review, but it looks like… I didn’t write one. 2014 was a rough year, so that’s not entirely a surprise.

So, who is this group? A rag tag bunch of assholes. Seriously, these are not nice people. They’re not heroes. There’s the earthling pirate, the raccoon mercenary bounty hunter, his walking talking (sort of) tree bodyguard, the assassin, and the vengeful muscle.

On the flip side, they’ve managed to grab the attention of Ronan the Accuser, a religious fanatic who wants the infinity stone that Peter… sorry, Starlord stole. And while they’re all assholes, they aren’t 100% dicks, so, with the power of friendship, they decide to try to stop Ronan from killing everyone.

Things I love about this movie: It’s goofy, and doesn’t try to hide it. Peter Quill, the abducted human kid raised in space, allows us to see the vibrant wild universe with both a bit of wonder, and also some solid tongue in cheek snippy comments. It doesn’t take itself seriously, even when the situation is serious. It’s fun, and the visuals, dialogue, and music all combine to make it the joyride that it is.

Let’s talk about the music… this 70’s soundtrack is not exactly what I’d call “quality music”! Yet they’re all songs that got a LOT of radio play, and they managed to fit them into the movie in such a perfect way that I can’t imagine it with any other music. And I’ve probably listened to the soundtrack at least twice as many times as I’ve seen the movie.

Things I don’t like: Ronan the Accuser. Like Thanos, I find him childish and boring. But weak 2D villains has been an issue in the MCU, with a few exceptions.

Next Up: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Friday, March 9, 2018

Stonehell: Ogre-vation

Session 57 was played on 1/9

Eiric, wizard 6 (Kat)
- men at arms (Koltic, Pargax)
- linkmen (Lomax)
- Neon (dog)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 5 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 6 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Bollox, GoMat)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 3
Brie, wizard 2 (Apprentice to Eiric)
Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 5 (Josh)

Back in town, Karl hires Scar the Useless, and Borumar returns from whatever it was the thieves guild had him doing.

The party gears up, and returns to the dungeon. After a quick trip to Kobold Korners, they head back down to the 2nd level and then to the 3rd. A tentacled beast crawling on the ceiling was lurking out in the hallway, and in spite of its reach and many attacks, the party slaughtered it with a hail of crossbow bolts.

The sound of metal on stone draws the party to a closed door, behind which is a kobold work crew fixing some smashed masonry. The grumpy kobolds blame the nearby ogres, and point the party to them.

Following the kobold forman’s directions, the party quickly comes across a bunch of ogres. They initiate hostilities by tossing small boulders at the party, and Karl and Orpheus quickly move to close the range. The ruckus of the fight draws more ogres, and in the melee both GoMat and Darryl are pounded down. Quick efforts (and healing potions) keep them from visiting the underworld. After the long combat is over, Lex and Bollox are sent to go talk to the kobolds and let them know that the ogres have been dealt with while the rest of the party bandages their wounds, searches for treasure, and piles all the large bodies in one corner.

Among the loot is a magical greatsword! Not knowing the enchantment, the party opts not to use it right away.

Scar is discovered to not only be useless, but also to suffer from a painful stutter, making any conversation with him take f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-... a long time.

Checking out some of the surrounding rooms, the party finds a stashed case of old elven wine and a barrel of cheap rum. Karl drinks some of both. Gathering their loot, the party heads back to Kobold Korners, sells the wine, and informs Sniv of the big barrel of rum.

Gains: 400gp, nose ring (200gp), armband (800gp), Hale 2h magic longsword
Kills: 1 carrion crawler, 8 ogres
Losses: None

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Punisher

I just finished watching the Netflix show The Punisher, and oh boy... It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I'm a fan of the MCU, both on the big screen and on streaming. My love lessens as we get to TV bits of the MCU. With that in mind, when they announced a standalone Punisher show, I was intrigued. Everything else that Netflix has done has all been a part of the Defenders storyline, and this would be taking things off on its own direction.

And it did... and it did NOT pull any punches.

And there are LOTS of punches... as well as bullet wounds, stabbing, smashing, kneecapping, and sledge hammering, just to name a few. Plus blood by the bucket full.

All to tell a story of revenge, of... justice? Honestly, it's hard to say. After 13 brutal episodes that took me until this week to get though... It's not a show I'll be revisiting. I am glad that I finished it before Jessica Jones season 2 hit Netflix (today actually), if only by a couple of days.

However, as it is only tangentially related to anything else that's happening in the Netflix-MCU, unless you're a big fan of violence, I'd skip this one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Programing Note: They've moved up the date of Infinity War by a week!!
Gonna have to squeeze in some extra viewing time!

This is one of the movies I've been really looking forward to watching since starting the Countdown. The Winter Soldier is not just a good Marvel movie, but it's a really good spy movie in the same vein as one of those Tom Clancy techo-thrillers, only with super-soldiers!

Seeing Captain Rodgers deal with the world he's in, trying to be a good soldier in an organization like SHIELD... it's not a natural fit. Captain America can be counted on to do one thing in any situation: whatever it is he thinks the right thing is. Working with spies, and running up against that fact over and over... it takes a toll, and inevitably he pushes back against it.

At his side is the ultimate spy, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow. For the longest time, this was the closest I thought we'd get to a Black Widow movie. According to recent reports, Black Widow will actually get her own movie... finally... But until then, this gives a lot of screen time to Natasha, which she uses to help Cap avoid the agents of a corrupted SHIELD that is being controlled by HYDRA! Not to mention all the asskicking...

Also joining the cast of characters is Falcon, aka Sam Wilson, a retired soldier who helps Black Widow and Cap hide out, and then helps them take out the Project Insight Helicarriers.

And then there's the Soviet asset, the Winter Soldier himself... By now everyone knows it's Bucky, but that moment, when the mask is ripped away, and Steve gets a good look at him? Great moment! Having them have to fight it out? Steve having to try to stop HYDRA while his best friend stands in the way? Wonderful bit of conflict there.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of SHIELD, let's circle back around to Agent Phil Coulson, last seen dead on the floor, stabbed through by Loki... Turns out after he went to visit Tahiti.

Agents of SHIELD came to the air a couple of months before Winter Soldier was released, and there was a weird feeling in the show, knowing that there was something big that was going to happen in the movie, but not being able to tip their hand. Once the movie came out though? Things got really interesting for a while there!

Back to the movie - the scenes with Steve and Bucky visiting the Captain America exhibit in the Smithsonian? Another great touch. All in all, this is one of my favorite movies in the series.

Next Up: Guardians of the Galaxy!!