Sunday, September 30, 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018

Giants in a Hurry

Yet again I find myself painting minis that were very low on my to-do list, but when your DM hands you a giant and asks if you can slap some paint on it…

So when she handed me the Frost Giant King I figured that this was as good a chance as any to slap some paint on the storm giant from Bones 1 and the Fire Giant from Bones 3. I started by washing all three in warm soapy water, and giving them a good scrub with a toothbrush. After letting them dry I primed them with Reaper’s Liners. Red for the fire giant, blue for the storm giant, and grey for the frost giant. This was my first time using Red Liner, and sadly I found it to be even more troublesome than Sepia Liner. Not only did it not stick as well as the Brown/Grey/Blue liners, it also smells really bad. Once I realized the issues I was having with the red liner, I reprimed with Grey Liner.

I also glued the Storm Giant to a base, because he kept falling over.

There aren’t very many pictures because I was focusing on getting them painted well enough for game on Wednesday, and I only had Monday and Tuesday evening to sit down and paint.

First up was Monday’s progress. I didn’t track all the colors I used, but the storm giant’s skin is based on Void Blue, and I used Imperial Purple for the cloth wrapped around his waist. I used the same blue to base coat the frost giant’s cloak, and the purple for the fire giant’s gauntlets and belt fringe and the frost giant’s undershirt. I then mixed up some brown (mixed because I didn’t like the color I initially picked) to paint the inner leather of the frost giant’s cloak, as well as the leather straps on the storm giant. I don’t remember what red I used for the fire giant’s beard. I used copper for the storm giant’s armor, and washed it all with Secret Weapons’ Armor Wash.

This was about 2 hours of effort.

On Tuesday I focused a lot of attention on the Fire Giant Jailer since he was so far behind as compared to the other giants. Originally I was thinking of painting him with red skin and an ashen beard, but decided to swap that around after looking at the art for fire giants from D&D. I used Coal Black, Stone Grey, and Linen White to paint the skin, and I also decided to try out using lots of little lines all over the muscles to indicate just how textured the muscle is under the skin. The eye patch was painted with copper and highlighted with Dragon Gold. The beard was brightened with Hearth Glow and Candle Yellow (?), and I used the same colors for the pimples on his back. The chain whip and other metal bits were painted with Scorched Metal. It isn’t quite as nice a color as GW’s old Tin Bitz, but it gets the job done. I then splashed clear coat all over it, because the under layer of Red Liner still wasn’t doing its job.

Maybe if I mix clear coat with the red liner?

As the Storm Giant was mostly done, the only thing I worked on was cleaning up a little around the face, and painting the blade. I used Shadowed Steel and Honed Blade for it, and then used the same colors over on the Frost Giant.

The frost giant king was a bit more work than I really wanted. Part of it is that the sculpt is a little soft. Details aren’t as crisp… Honestly it made me glad I didn’t bother getting any of them in the kickstarter. I decided to paint all the armor blue before painting the metallics over it. I used the same Shadowed Steel and Honed Blade for most of the armor, and the Copper and Gold for the trim. I also gave the beard a bit of a wash with the thinned down light purple I’d glazed the fabric with. I then stuck the horns in, and gave them a coat of Brown Liner. The helm decorative piece was lost at some point, and I’ll eventually stick something there to cover the hole. Probably will just fill it with some green stuff.

While none of them are *done* they’re table ready for game, and decent enough for 5 hours of total effort. Next time I’m gonna speed paint things like this, I really should try to pick things that are more alike than just “giants”.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

5e: Within sight of the Eye of the Alfather!

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, Battle Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

Having set the Bright Banner Brandished party to rest, and breaking the curse on their families, we were again back in Mirabar, though not for long. We collected our supplies, did a bit of shopping, and then went to see if there was any giant news. We found a decent ale house (The Yeti’s Teat), and after returning some of the treasure we’d acquired to the local economy, learned that some fire giants were near, looking for something, and a solitary frost giant was in the area.

There was… an incident. Sadly witnessed by several bards… involving Thorin. It may be worth revisiting the arranged marriage tradition in his case. He is a fighter, not a lover.

We set off the first thing in the morning.

The chill has gotten worse, and while it’s only harvest time at home, here it feels like deep winter. Heading in the direction the frost giant was last seen travelling, we soon found his trail, and then the giant himself. Wearing the dragon skull helm we’d been told of confirmed that this was Harshnag! We landed, and introduced ourselves, then called Holla Hilda. She confirmed who we are, and then Harshnag told us he was on his way to the Eye of the Alfather. He also told us the fire giants were trying to assemble a rod that will help them collect various obsidian artifacts in an attempt to take over the giant hierarchy.

Not good news.

Flying over Harshnag, we traveled up into the mountains until we reached the mouth of a shallow ravine… The air had thinned and chilled even more, so we landed and walked, giving our mounts a rest. Not too far into the ravine we were set upon by some wild cats. Only notable for the fact that Joda, normally so sure footed and dexterous slipped on some ice and landed very hard on her ass, and cracked her head.

About an hour or so later, when the ravine had become a canyon, the walls having climbed to over 30’, we were ambushed by some incredibly sneaky ice goblins and a pair of sand gargoyles. Blinding Joda in their initial assault, we laid into them. Unlike the fight with the cats, Harshnag got into the swing of things. His great height and reach were helpful. I was cold and tired by this point, so I flew up and lightning bolted as many of them as I could. The dying gargoyle creepily croaked out “I’ll be seeing you soon!”

A short march later we’d arrived at the pillared entrance of the Eye of the Alfather!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Stonehell: Beginning of a LONG week...

Session 78 was played on 9/16

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Mulligan, Borik, Verman)
- linkman (Dungforth)
- Ghost (dog)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Maax, Dar)
- linkman (Gilcox)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris) - Stayed in town
Kili, Dwarf Cleric 3 (Matt)

Kili the dwarven cleric returns from his year plus long stint at the Temple of the 7 Corners ready to see what’s happened in the dungeon. On the flip side, Koltic remains in town to worship at the Porcelain Shrine.

Eiric hires Dungforth the torch bearer, and Mulligan and Borik, men at arms.

Karl hires Scotty the Engineer to come into the dungeon to fix the elevator.

The party makes its way safely down to the Asylum, but are once again faced with an encounter at Shoe Corner. 6 Heartless were stumbling along, the blue flames licking at their desiccated rib cages. The supernatural horror of it caused more than the usual terror, and Orpheus, A-A-Ron, Vermin, Borik, Mulligan, and Gilcox all ran in terror. Brie’s morale broke, and she ran after them! Darryl held up his holy symbol, and turned one of the monsters. Lex, Karl, and Kili charged in cutting down 3, while Darryl managed to turn 2 more.

Hoping that Orpheus and Brie would keep everyone together, Karl takes advantage of Scotty’s presence, and has him construct a tripwire trap. Once done, they head off to the elevator, and Scotty gets to work. Orpheus and Co. make their way back to the elevator safely, having only seen some goblins along the way. The hours pass by slowly, and Eiric decides to go visit Rocky, taking A-A-Ron, Kili, and Orpheus with her.

Rocky is thrilled to see them, and after chatting for a bit Eiric gets to her questions… with the help of Kili’s legal training.

1. What do stone elephants fear?

Where wizards once broke the natural laws, you will find the Elephant’s Terror.

2. How exactly, and using what accounts and magic, can this group of adventurers defeat Ka-Nefer while sustaining the LEAST damage possible?

Death rests uneasy. You’ve woken that which cannot sleep. Find the heart, and stab it.

3. In reference to waking that which cannot sleep, how do we find the heart in the riddle to stab it; more specifically what are the exact directions and measurements to get to the heart?

Where the Sect of the Rampant Green went too far, where their shadows burn eternal, where now grows hot and wild and the queen reigns, you'll find the heart.

They chat with Rocky a bit more, and then make their way back toward the elevator, encountering 8 skeletons on the way. Kili turns 7 of them, causing them to flee, while Orpheus turns the remaining one into bone dust.

Down in the Asylum, they run into a caravan of kobolds led by Kerish the rope maker who tells them that while sniveling Sniv took some of the kobolds out of Stonehell, more remain scattered about the dungeon.

Meanwhile, Scotty managed to disturb a pair of draco lizards who’d decided to nest in the machine room. While they got the jump on him, they were slow and Karl and Lex managed to get between him and them. Dar and Maax charged in right after. Karl manages to take the first out, but the second bites the arm off of Dar, who sprays blood everywhere and he falls. It swallows the arm, then bites down hard on Karl, piercing his armor. Sadly for the lizard, that put it’s neck within easy reach of Karl’s Badger Hammer. Darryl managed to save Dar from death, but the arm was lost.

After Eiric returned to the elevator, Esmalia showed up, telling them that the meeting with the Vampire Lord of Stonehell is on. She also tells them that the riddle that Rocky gave them probably relates to the hot house, and Queen Urushiol, but that she’s not sure what that has to do with Ka-Nefer.

In the hours of boredom, everyone starts chatting about what they want to do in the future. Orpheus admits that he’s been offered a seat on the city council, and after the business with Ka-Nefer is done with, he’s thinking about hanging up his sword. A-A-Ron thinks this is a GREAT idea. Lex, who isn’t ready to retire has his eye on a cheese shop. Brie wants to see what’s deeper in the dungeon.

After the wererat moved on, and Scotty finished with the elevator, Eiric sends Orpheus back to town for supplies with Scotty and Dar, and Darryl, who can’t stand the dwarven cleric. The rest of the party will keep watch on the elevator, making sure no one else tries to smash it.

Kills: 8 skeletons, 6 Heartless, 2 draco lizards
Losses: Dar (medical retirement), Darryl (quitting the party)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

5e: Phylactery Shenanigans

I sadly missed this past week's session, but thankfully one of my fellow players wrote this up!

Ten month, 14th day, 1698,
To the Honorable Great Lord and Master of Lost Arcana, Nilrem,

As requested my lord, find the most recent translation of the journals from the excavated ruins in Neverwinter attached. This journal belonged to a monk called Joda, who lived almost five-hundred years ago. Comments in italics are mine. Additional translations of legible entries are forthcoming, and after, the manuscript will be submitted to restoration, so that additional entries may be retrieved.

The Entry Begins...

We were in an incredibly large cave or chamber. In truth, it was so large, I could barely see the ceiling. The room itself was big enough for two Thunderball courts (a court was sized at 75x150 so this cavern may be 150x300 feet --ed). There were four large sarcophagi placed in the room and one can only wonder what was inside (we think this was sarcasm --ed).

Hilde, bellying her barbarian stereotype, remembered the magic glue we had. Bran knew what its true name but whatever. We had enough to glue three of the sarcophagi shut. The fourth, well, we'll find out when we find out.

We passed through two large adamantium doors and into the library. There were shelves, and shelves, and rows and rows, of scrolls and rare manuscripts. Oh, if only Fulhoff and Journey were here; they would have truly enjoyed this room, but perhaps not for very long. As it was, Bran quickly started going through and touching everything. Including, unknowingly, the phylactery.

I think a trap was triggered when the phylactery was touched, or perhaps when it broke for Bran dropped it. Regardless, the room started to shake and tremble. cracks in the floors and walls appeared, and large chunks of rock started to fall from the ceiling. We ran.

Back into the sarcophagi room and sure enough the unglued sarcophagus had a giant skeleton rising from it (we think this was the skeleton of an actual giant, as opposed to a figurative giant skeleton. --ed). Even worse, a huge pounding sound was coming from the other sarcophagi. Then the lid broke and the other giant skeleton started to stand. Bran became a bird. Hilde picked up the unconscious mercenary and ran for it. I did my best to attack and distract the skeletons.

We did not make it through unscathed. But we outran the skeletons and made it into the mountain caverns. Bran remembered the way in the maze as we made our way out. We were badly hurt as the mountain continued to fall all around us. We constantly fell and the injuries mounted up, and then, the mountain opened up and we were on the edge of a cliff face. The mountain continued to crumble behind us.

The Fan of the Skye Rune became a cloud carpet. We were barely upon it and away before the cliff face collapsed. Bran took that moment to tell us that even though the Phylactery was destroyed, the Lich still lived! Fuck! (My lord, please forgive the crude language --ed.)

We returned to Mirabar to find the noble houses cured. Apparently, Fulhoff's ceremonial ritual was enough to break the curse. He is so smart! And the noble houses were so grateful. Bran said he has not seen this much platinum in his entire life.

We, of course, returned to xxxx (the name was not legible --ed) shop of curiosities where I found Gloves of Ogre Strength. Not only do they give me great strength but my arms now look like...

The rest of the entry is torn and not legible. However, we are working on other parts of the journal, which look promising and additional entries may be available soon.

With great respect and honor,
Weno, Archiver of the Seventh Circle

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stonehell: Ogrevation in the Caves

Session 77 was played on 9/8
Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Narus, Verman)
- Ghost (dog)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Maax, Dar)
- linkman (Gilcox)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris) - Stayed in town

With Koltic laid low, nursing the mother of all hangovers, the rest of the party geared up and headed into the dungeon. It was quiet as they made their way down to there wererat den. A-A-Ron nervously handed over the bag of ill gotten gold to Esmalia, who asks if they know how to get to the room. They don’t, at least not with the elevator out of commission. The tentative timing of the meeting is set for 2 weeks.

Circling around, away from the Harpies, they made their way down into the caves, and are soon attacked by a band of skinheads. Narus takes a large javelin through the chest, and in response Eiric calls out “MARSHMALLOW!” and sets them alight with a fireball. Only one survives, and they take him prisoner.

The “WOOMPH” of the fireball attracted the attention of some ogres, and A-A-Ron gets clubbed hard. The pair of ogres was no match for the party, and they were slain before they could do more damage.

Poking through the caves they disturb a giant rattler, who fails to bite anyone, and is skinned.

Deeper into the caves the party hears some talking ahead. A-A-Ron is feeling nervous, and so Eiric makes herself invisible, sneaks forward, and sees a half dozen orges each looking down the different exits of the room yelling back at each other that they don’t see anything.

Eiric returns to the party, still invisible, and taps Karl on the shoulder for shits and giggles. Karl screams, and wildly swings his ax, Orpheus and Darryl basically smother him, but the damage was done. The Ogres had gone silent…

Eiric prepared to cast lightning down the hallway in preparation for the Ogres advance… and the rest of the party was ready to sweep in after. But the ogres were tricky, and some had circled around behind. The two who emerged from in front did so only after the charge from the rear. Vermin, caught completely by surprise, took a club to the head, dropping him down. BLows were traded, and the lightning bolt cast, while magic missiles flashed from Brie. Orpheus gutted one ogre, whole Ghost ripped the throat out of another. Darryl kneecapped his opponent with his mace, while Karl’s ax cut chunk after chunk from their flesh.

After the battle, Vermin was discovered to be still alive, but a little slow. The bodies were looted, and the party discussed returning to town…

Gains: 363gp
Kills: 8 skinheads, 8 ogres
Losses: Narus, 1,000gp

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dancing Girl part 3

Well, it's been about 3 months since I last touched this mini...

In case you missed it here's Part 1 and Part 2

But as I head into the final stretch of my class, I needed a night off, so out came my painting tray, and I got to work.

I decided I wasn't happy with the purple, so I switched it up to Runic Purple. And for the green, I went to Jade Green, using Bleached Linen to lighten the color. for the skin I went back to Dark Flesh Highlight, and to keep things consistent, used the same Bleached Linen to make some glazes to try to smooth out her skin tones.

You can't really tell but I painted her fingernails with the Runic Purple.

I also used the Runic Purple for her eyeliner and lipstick.

I used the same Bleached Linen for the pearls/beads. I'm thinking about putting her on a different base, but... Don't know yet.

Still need to do some work on the fabric. I think a few glazes to help smooth it out. The bead work needs a bunch of work too, and I've done next to nothing with her hair and headband and the rest of her jewelry. I'm thinking of using Aged Pewter as the base for most of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

5e: Brightly Banner Brandished Get's Hooked

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest, Battle Mage
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

All knowledge is sacred. My training in the temple, and more so under my master hammered that point home. Knowledge was to be sought out, and preserved. Knowledge is power, the power to defend your home, your temple, your clan.

I have come into power, into knowledge, and for once I’m unsure what to do with it. This seemed such a simple quest at the start: save the families by putting their ancestors bones to rest, thereby breaking the curse upon them.

Hilde and Bran seemed a little worn out after the pillow fight, so we settled on a rest. Rin told of a spectre that visited while we were asleep, and claims he… scared it away. We packed up and moved on, only to discover that the Silver Hook foolishly followed us in. First we found their wizard Kelvin barely alive, holed up in some... anatomical workshop full of surgical instruments and dark texts.

I avoided his magical attack, knocked the wand from his hands, then Hilde poured a healing potion down his gullet. He ranted about rust monsters, and what fool Gerhart is… and that this was the home of a Lich. And that its phylactery was hidden somewhere in the library. We sent him on his way…

Deeper into the dungeon, we entered a cyclopian chamber housing some strange metal orrery stretching out from a central steel pillar wrapped in an external staircase, with arms radiating out that spanned the entire room. First circumnavigating the room, we found no other exits, so we approached the central pillar. Then, from the darkness above, the beardless dwarf of the Silver Hook dropped among us, battered and bloody. He began to speak, whether to warn or threaten us is unclear, as a crossbow bolt shot down from above, killing him. The bolt was followed by 2 figures in ancient garb, cackling about the joy of fresh blood for the first time in 200 years… and they referred to each other by name.

Milli Vanilli and Brendon… The Brightly Banner Brandished! We’d found them… or, they’d found us. The rest of the party dropped down, and the battle raged. Rin and Hilde chopped and slashed with great skill, Bran’s black weapons drained what life force kept them animated, and I blasted them with lightning. Thankfully their movements were stiff, and while we took some hits, we sent their spirits to rest.

But of the lich, and it’s phylactery? Bran spoke to Emmry to confirm their identity, and we then ascended the stairs to the top of the pillar, and the doorway leading into the pillar… and the stairs going down. I was tempted to use Fly, but opted to take it a step at a time.

Destroying the phylactery is clearly now the top priority, though I can’t say for sure that doing so will end the lich, whoever it is, or whether it will just weaken it. Either way, the deed needs to be done. But then, what of the books?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Scaling Your Adventure Expectations

My Storm King’s Thunder Game has been going on a while now, and like most groups, anytime the DM dangles something shiny in front of us, we’re more than happy to abandon the main plot and take up the side quest. Right now, we’re in the middle of a Lich’s lair, looking for it’s phylactery!

At the end of our last game, the DM mentioned that she thought that this side quest would take only a couple of sessions tops. We’ve been at it 4 weeks, and we’re still not at the end.

Given the size and complexity of the quest, I’m not surprised.

Let’s review what we’ve encountered so far!

  1. Getting the quest, traveling to the dungeon, talking to NPCs and getting info about it
  2. Mine Cart Ride
  3. Mountain Climbing (avoiding several possible combat encounters)
  4. Rival Adventuring Gang Combat
  5. Spirit Naga Combat
  6. Ice Zombie Combat
  7. Giant Statue & Ice Worms
  8. Magic Door Trap
  9. Cloaker Combat
  10. Shadows Combat 
  11. Scarecrow Combat 
  12. Exploration & further encounters with Rival Adventurers
  13. Wight Combat

Week 1 was 1-4, Week 2 was 5-7, Week 3 was 8-11, and week 4 was 12+13.

So on a given week we’re going through 2-4 significant events. Thinking back, this tracks pretty well with how we’ve been progressing through the adventure, and also with how encounters tended to go when I was running 5e.

Now, I don’t know how big this dungeon actually is, but given that we just found the adventurers we were looking for (and killed their undead selves) I’m guessing we’re close to done.

However, my main point here, is that when you’re planning to dangle a side quest, look at what’s actually in the quest to gauge how much of a distraction it’s going to be. DCC does a really good job at this with their “Encounter Table” at the beginning of their adventures. It’s one thing I think I’d enjoy seeing WotC adopt for their 5e adventures.

The specific advice I’m giving my DM (and I'm sharing with you readers) is to keep side quests short, like 5 room dungeon short. A 5 room dungeon is great for a single night’s adventure. It gives you the opportunity to add in a little something extra that might be missing from the current storyline. In our case that seems to be undead. Keeping it short allows for the spice, but keeps us all on track to actually deal with the Storm Kings... thunder?

What's a 5 Room Dungeon?

Image from

Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the term. If so, picture a 5 room dungeon, within you have:

  1. Entrance
  2. Puzzle/Trap/Trick
  3. Setback
  4. Boss Fight
  5. Treasure/Reward

Mix and match, and you have an adventure for the night. Need to fill 2 nights? 10 room dungeon!

Game on, and remember to keep the scale of the adventure in mind when planning out your game time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Steel Time Excerpt!

This week, book 4 of the Steel Empires urban fantasy/alternate series is released! In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step. Read on for an excerpt from Steel Time, by friend J.L. Gribble.

You’re never too young or too old to experience a paradigm shift.
Toria Connor is 25 when tripping over an artifact in the ruins of Nacostina thrusts her a century into the past, before the city is destroyed during the Last War. Now, she finds herself alone. Adrift in a time where she must hide everything important to her, from her mercenary career to her true magical ability.
Victory is over eight centuries old when she follows her adopted daughter. She has seen empires rise and fall, but never anything like this. She must survive alone in a city inhospitable to vampires, dodging friends and foes from her past alike.
Both of them know the clock is ticking down to the moment when the city is wiped off the map. Now, they’re in a race against time. To find each other. To escape the past. And to save the future.
Currently available from:
Barnes & Noble
Direct from publisher
Carpe Librum (the author’s local indie bookseller)
Or support your own local independent bookstore by requesting a copy today!
It is possible to read Steel Time as a stand-alone book, but don’t miss out on Toria and Victory’s previous adventures!
Book 1: Steel Victory
Book 2: Steel Magic
Book 2: Steel Blood
Victory reined in uncoordinated limbs and staggered to her feet, drawing her sword and ignoring the ache in her tailbone. She dropped into a defensive position and turned full circle, bracing for attack.
None came. She stood alone in a long gallery. Moonlight poured in from high windows, and red emergency lighting at the far end of the hall reflected on marble floors. Display cases lined the walls, and her enhanced eyesight picked minerals and gemstones out of the darkness. Even as the back of her mind cataloged karat weights and worth, the rest of her brain noted something much more urgent.
She was alone in this museum gallery. No heartbeats. No Toria.
The muted sounds of a city at night penetrated the gallery. Including, of all things, more liquid-fuel engines than she’d heard in one place since her visit to Jiang Yi Yue, a city where the vehicles ran on ethanol.
A museum gallery. Gasoline-powered engines.
Even inside, she scented the tang of gasoline below the harsh aroma of cleaning supplies and traces of body odor from those who had passed through this hall today.
A museum gallery, with a type of emergency lighting she hadn’t seen in years.
Gasoline engines.
It was like she’d gone back in time.
Buried among the smells of other people, she plucked out one in particular. After so many years, she knew her daughter’s unique scent—her skin, her hair, her sword. Even if Toria wasn’t here now, she had been in the recent past.
With no immediate attack imminent, Victory sheathed her sword.
The long hall had exits at either end. Flipping a mental coin, Victory picked a direction. It was child’s play to pick the basic lock on the massive metal door and haul it open.
Once through, she found herself on the second-floor balcony of a tall rotunda. Moonlight filtered into the large windows closer to the ceiling, and the marble architecture shimmered in the pale light. The entrance to another exhibit gallery sat opposite the wide expanse of space, this one advertising the flora of the New Continent. Victory stepped to the edge of the balcony and peered down, onto the dusty top of a giant stuffed mammoth.
“Hank.” Her voice, no more than a whisper, seemed to echo in the emptiness. She recognized the animal, or at least the affectionate term by which visitors had known it. She knew this museum, which was why Toria had asked her along on this job.
She could no longer pretend this was anything else. She had returned to Nacostina before the Last War, before the destruction of the city. Her fingers gripped the marble railing at the balcony’s edge. Of all the things, her first worry was how pissed off Asaron would be when she disappeared off the face of the planet. Whenever she left Limani, he assumed the role of Master of the City. He did so with lots of begrudging complaints, but deep down, Victory knew he enjoyed the change of pace from traditional mercenary life.
But the kids lived dangerous lives, having followed in the footsteps of their adopted mother and grandfather. Victory always took the chance to spend time with them, even if it meant traipsing around a ruined city hunting for a rock.
Victory was hundreds of years old. She had seen the rise and fall of civilizations. She had already experienced one complete paradigm shift when the elves blocked the progress of technology. It wasn’t so far-fetched that she might experience another.
Time travel. Who’d have thought?
So, two goals. Find Toria. Find the way home.
But first, she had to break out of a museum. Victory examined her options, what she could see and what she could remember. Lots of windows in the gallery she had come from, but they consisted of many panes. The heavy leading would be a chore to break through. Massive front doors out of the bottom of the rotunda where Hank surveyed his domain would also be tricky to disguise an escape.
There had to be other ways out of the building. Staff entrances. Loading docks. Things she’d never had reason to pay attention to, and therefore had no reason to remember now.
At least security cameras were not a concern in this era.
The thud-thud of a heartbeat shattered the silence, accompanied by boots sauntering across marble flooring and relaxed breathing.
Security guards, however, were a concern.

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 at:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Name Level Blogiversary!!

9 years... Can you believe it? How many blogs make it to name level??

I wonder what's down the next corridor, and around that corner. What new treasures? What new monsters?

Only one way to find out!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Happy Star Trek Day!

On this day, September 8th, 1966, The USS Enterprise first appeared on TV screens across the USA. (The Canadians got it 2 days early, lucky S.O.B.s...)

In honor of the day, allow my to share a some pretty pictures of the grey lady herself, as she appears in the newest version of Trek, Discovery!

I'm looking forward to seeing more of her in season 2!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Stonehell: Bloody Skinhead Rumble!

Session 76 was played on 8/25

Eiric, wizard 7 (Kat)
- men at arms (Alias the Elf, Eddard “Sunny Jim”, Modar, Kartas)
- Ghost (dog)
Brie, wizard 4 (Apprentice to Eiric)
A-A-Ron, Thief 6 (Henchman)
Daryll, Cleric 6 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 6 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 7 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Maax, Gilcox, Dar)
Lex the Cheeseman, Fighter 4 (Henchman)
Koltic, Cleric 3 (Chris)

After slaughtering and looting the skinheads, the party continued deeper into the caves, finding the bottom of the shaft the harpies and gargoyles used (along with a fair bit of harpy droppings. No one wanted to determine if the various pebbles were gargoyle droppings.

The sounds of singing and drumming to the south captured their attention, and A-A-Ron scouted ahead, seeing a large cavern full of more of the skinhead tribe. Backing away, they formulated a plan. Getting everyone with crossbows in tight formation, they crept forward. One surprise volly of bolts later, many of the skinheads were bleeding, but none were down. Karl, Orpheus, Lex, and A-A-Ron charged in, backed up by the men at arms.

Beastmen and Gnolls serving as deranged berzerkers

In the melee, Alias was the first casualty, as a skinhead sheared off the top of his skull. He was quickly followed by Modar, Kartas, Eddard. Orpheus veered in from the side, cutting a bloody swath through the flank of the skinheads, while Karl, Lex, and A-A-Ron charged in the middle. A-A-Ron, ducking under skinhead blades found himself toe to toe with the chief. He sliced his magic blade against his opponent, but the chief ignored the bleeding wound, stabbing A-A-Ron through the belly, then hammering the pommel of his weapon on the thief’s skull. A-A-Ron dropped, and no one was near enough… Orpheus cut though the remaining skinhead between him and the chief, and then laid the chief out.

A-A-Ron Goes Down!

Darryl and Koltic rushed in to triage the hirelings, but even their magic wasn’t enough to save them. A-A-Ron was patched up, their magic able to restore his life’s energy and even break the coma he was slipping into, but full recovery would take time.

Looting the chamber quickly, they collected a large collection of piercings, beaten copper jewelry, and a couple of fancy gem studded piercings. Gathering the bodies, and propping A-A-Ron up, they head back up.

Near the entrance to the dungeon, the Chosen of Zunbar stop the party, and suggest that as “Adjacent to the Chosen of Zunbar” they should share the wealth. Eiric, under the stain of having lost so many, and nearly losing A-A-Ron is about ready to drop a fireball on them, but Karl and Koltic calm her down, and share some of the copper jewelry from the skinheads, then head back to town.

A-A-Ron spends the better part of a week recovering, being tended to by Darryl. Eiric goes looking for more meatshields, and hires Narus and Verman as men at arms, and Koltic hires Gilwick the torchbearer.

Gains: Various coinage, beaten copper jewelry (60gp worth), 2 gems,
Kills: Lots of Skinheads
Losses: Alias the Elf, Eddard “Sunny Jim”, Modar, Kartas

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

5e: Full Leather Cloakers

From: Sir Fulhoff of Clan Balderk, Knight of Hawk’s Nest
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother and Father:

The statue’s throat hole went beyond just the worms’ nest, and opened up into another set of passages. This was the extent of Thorin’s contribution this update. After we all slowly made our way up the statue, and cleaned off the worm guts, charcoal, and other less savory substances, we followed the passage into a massive antechamber. The far doorway was framed by a carving of a giant battling a dragon. Journey noted it magical glow, and supposing it was trapped, I dispelled magic on it. The glow faded, and we opened the door safely. Beyond was a short hallway followed by an even more massive chamber. Hanging in the hallway were three leathey cloaks.

I’m not sure who said it, but someone said “Oohhh!” behind me just as I let loose a blast of icy cold at the nearest one. “What are you do-OH!” was what I heard as the cloak revealed itself to be a cloaker. They proved to be remarkably tough opponents in person, more so than my studies hinted at. At one point Bran, Rin, and Hilde were all wrapped in their embrace! Thankfully our ability to stun them made them easy to pull off, toss into the middle of a circle of us, and pound them dead.

In the chamber beyond we discovered a flow of slime flowing from the door to the west toward the door we were entering from. Using the bodies of the cloakers we crossed it without problem, and then discovered the chamber was dominated by a massive column, with smaller pillars around the outer edge of the room. Emerging from the highly decorated central pillar came half a dozen shadowy figures.

There are days I wish I had been more in touch with the priestly side of things. Yet that aside, the Great Digger knows what she’s about, and we dispersed the shadows with relative ease, thanks in large part to Joda’s ability to cause daylight to fill the chamber. Even Bob Zombie managed to send one of the spirits back into the pillar!

Once the shadowy forms were taken care of we checked the other doorways in the room. The one opposite our entrance was also magically locked, but my magics weren’t strong enough to break the spell. The door with the slime river we avoided, and so by default went for the door opposite the slime door.

Up a long sloping passage we emerged into a semicircular dormitory containing both giant and human sized beds where we found a stash of old books! As we were collecting the books, the old bedding flapped bounced and took vaguely humanoid shape! I lined up 5 of them, and unleashed an empowered lightning bolt, bursting 4 of them. Chicken feathers and burning bits of linen floated everywhere. The 5th and farthest away was badly singed, and smacking at itself to put out the smoldering bits. The remaining pillow spirits were just as quickly ended, while Hilde gleefully yelled “Pillow Fight!”

Makes me wonder about the practices of the sorority of her barbarian tribe.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review: The Emerald Enchanter

There are times not to judge a book by it's cover.


Doug Kovacs' cover gives you exactly what you're going to get in the adventure! Emerald Monsters, and Emerald Enchanter, and prisoners to rescue. And as exciting as that description is, it isn't even the half of it.

Spoilers Below!

This has to be one of my favorite adventures that I haven't run. Joseph Goodman really rolled a critical when he made his skill check for this adventure. In addition to the above mentioned items, there are a host of traps and tricks and other monsters for the players to encounter. My personal favorite has to be the tile golem, whose mechanics are delightfully inventive.

Then there's the consultitorium, where the spirits of 3 ancient wizards can be talked to and secrets revealed...

And then the Moon-Devil... beautifully illustrated by Peter Mullen. Any DM that doesn't share that image with their players is cheating them.

Honestly, by the time the players make it to the Emerald Enchanter himself, you'd think that all the fun tricks would have been used up, but you'd be wrong. It isn't just a final battle to the death, but one where the timing is critical if they want to save the prisoners!

And just when you thought it was all taken care of, Jobe Bittman brings you The Emerald Enchanter Strikes Back!

This follow up adventure is completely different in style from The Emerald Enchanter, as it isn't a dungeon (castle) based adventure, but one that spans a large hex map where the players have to chase down a massive golem, and get inside of it, and stop the Emerald Enchanter's path of destruction!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August in Review

Work and school have dominated my time this month, so there isn’t a whole lot to share…

Both Stonehell and Storm King’s Thunder are rolling along nicely, though we’re rather off track from the main plot in SKT.

I haven’t managed to squeeze in any other gaming, but I did snag Space Marine free from Humble Bundle. Now, as to when I’ll actually get to play it?

Work has slowly progressed on the crypt and fence walls, and I reorganized my paints. I’m missing ReaperCon right now, and while I have a ninja shopper, I’m feeling grumpy about it.

Cost Accounting and Financial Accounting…

My bride and I have been enjoying a Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki movie fest.
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Only Yesterday

We also went and watched Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and it was AMAZING! The staging was perfection. It’s completely understandable why it’s been on for 3 decades.

Finish the financial accounting class (only a couple of weeks to go)
Paint the second crypt with a nice interior!