Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December in Review

Apparently I neglected to post a November in Review… Things have been busy here at the Tower. I took the Auditing portion of the CPA exam, and PASSED!! I’m now working on the next test which I’ll be taking in late winter/early spring.

My oldest dog is continuing to continue on, but I don’t think for too much longer. At this point, every day is a bonus, and I’m trying to enjoy our final time together as best I can.

Winter holiday was spent down south along the Gulf Coast. Sadly, we picked a week with a cold snap, and ended up with temperatures not much different from what we’d left behind in the Northeast. Still a wonderful trip.


I’ve missed far too much of the Curse of Strahd game the last two months. Between vacations, holiday parties, working late, and being sick… I’m just glad I’m not DMing.

Stonehell is going well. Recruited some new players, and came really close to killing their characters. We’ll see how well these low level PCs handle the game… also I really want them to fight a dragon…

I ran the kids through my holiday adventure Frosty's Harsh Winter. The kids spent a lot of time talking to the senile Parson Brown.

I’ve actually been working on a bunch of stuff, which means little was actually completed. Assembled and primed lots of random minis trying to figure out what I wanted to work on. I painted some of the classic horror monsters from Bones 4, converted another mini for a new player in the Curse of Strahd game, and converted and painted some ghouls. There will be a big mini year in review post in a day or two.


Movies/TV Watched
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Season 3
Star Wars: Mandalorian
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker
John Wick 3

Books Read
Void Wraith Saga books 1-3
The Expanse books 1-3

Managed to exceed my goal of 25 books this year, with a total of 29 books! Thank goodness for vacation!

With the new year, I’ve got another big CPA exam right around the corner. My one goal is to pass. Beyond that? Get in some gaming, and some painting.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Review Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the generally satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga.

This post contains spoilers, but first, the non-spoiler review.

Overall I enjoyed this final installment of this trilogy. It gave me everything I want and expect from a Star Wars movie, delivered in a slick Disney approved package. There were lightsabers, an extravagant amount of new ships and exciting space battles, new aliens, new planets, old planets, familiar old faces, and the battle between the light and dark sides.

It's no spoiler that Palpatine is back, and no shock, pulling the strings. I wasn't sure I'd like how that got fit into the story, but it worked. It wasn't necessarily the way I'd have done it, but then there were a bunch of story choices in it that I'd have done a little differently. None of it was bad, just... it never really reached what I thought could be great.

Also, for a 2.5 hour long movie, it actually needed another 20-30 minutes. Everything was just so rushed, and the movie, the story needed a little extra time to breathe.

Spoilers below

I appreciate how much of the story is Ben Solo's story. His arc is as important as Rey's, especially as it's such a good mirror of hers. He struggles to embrace the Dark Side, has to work at it... and in the end fails. His cracked helmet is the most visible sign of the struggle. He is redeemed, at least a little. He's still responsible for the deaths of countless individuals, the destruction of multiple planets. So by any measure, he's a war criminal of epic proportions, but at the end he found redemption in his sacrifice. I wish that they'd have skipped the kiss at the end. I get it, he and Rey have a connection, but...

Rey and Ben's fight on the Death Star was interesting. I really appreciate how everyone has different fighting styles, and how much is communicated through them, and what I got most out of that fight was that neither of them actually wanted to be fighting the other. Especially Rey. She seemed to be working really hard to just get on with her mission, and Ben was just in the way. She wanted to stop him, but a lightsaber battle wasn't gonna get it done.

Rey's battle with the Dark Side continues to show just how seductive it is. I really felt it was all cheapened by the revelation of her parentage. It was just so unnecessary. The last thing the story needed was to tie her in to the Palpatine bloodline, especially as there was no hint that Palpatine was married, or had kids, or a clone, or... something, anything?

Fin being force sensitive makes sense. Poe being a former drug smuggler wasn't much of a shock either. Scoundrels do bad things. Even if they have hearts of gold.

The way the movie handled General/Jedi Master Leia Organa worked. I do wonder how much of that was forced by Carrie Fisher's death, and how much was planned.

The Knights of Ren were, hands down, the biggest disappointment of the movie. They didn't really DO anything, they never SAID anything, they were just sort of... there. And lacking lightsabers or force pikes or anything... just. Eh. Such a waste of a cool idea.

Overall, it was a solid movie. I'll certainly watch it again, but probably not while it's in the theater.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Stonehell: Ogre sized problems

Session 115 was played on 12/08

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
J, Fighter 1 (Jay)
Drolo, linkman (NPC)

Having successfully revived their friend Jo (who needed some time to recover after being petrified, Borumar decided to head back to Stonehell for a little fun. Joining the party for this delve was J, a young swordsman eager to prove his worth in the mightiest dungeon around. Entering the dungeon through the hobgoblin caves, the party spends a while poking around the already cleared 2nd level, slowly making their way down to the third, and finding that without a high level wizard, they weren’t getting through the arcane locked doors and out of the medusa’s lair. So they did the only sensible thing, and continued down into level 4.

Not too far into their exploration they decided to open a door… surprising half a dozen ogres squeezed into a room only just big enough to contain them all. “Sorry, wrong room” J said, closing the door. They jumped to the side, and readied themselves for the ogres to come out the door, and after a long drawn out moment, they did.

Thankfully for the party, the small (for the ogres) door kept them from all coming out at the same instant. Unfortunately even one ogre hits like a falling tree, and Dimetri was only saved from death by Borumar’s speedy dumping of a healing potion down Dimetri’s throat. Also in the party's favor was the fact that the ogres had to pull the bodies of their fallen friends out of the doorway in order to effectively fight. Somehow, they managed to defeat all 6 ogres… Sadly they didn’t have much treasure on them.

Continuting their exploration down the hall, they were surprised by a pair of gaunt hounds. Dimetri still not really recovered from the previous fight, was dragged down. J and Borumar finished off the beasts, and dumped a potion of extra healing down Dimetri’s throat, and then they all decided that they’d had enough.

Gains: 310gp worth of various coins
Kills: 6 ogres, 2 gaunt hounds
Losses: potion of healing, potion of extra healing

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Rowboat and Raft

I wasn't sure what else to work on one night, so I pulled out the Bones 4 row boat and raft, washed and scrubbed them, and primed them with Green Liner. I then painted both with Russet Brown and Vampiric Shadow. The goal was to make them both look really old and faded. I washed them with green washes to make them look a little mossy/moldy. I was envisioning that these were both craft that were from Reaper's town of Dreadmere.

I have no idea what side of the raft is the top and which was the bottom....

Monday, December 16, 2019

Stonehell: Medusa Hunt

Session 114 was played on 12/01

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Brother Dimetri Andropov, Cleric 1 (Jeff)
Phynara, Elf 8 (NPC)
Drolo, linkman (NPC)

Having come up empty handed as far as medusa hair was concerned, Borumar decided to try to find where the medusa in the side dungeon got moved to. A young cleric who was interested in so noble a cause, suggested that the temple of the elementalists would be a good place to start, so off they went.

Making sure to clear the already cleared rooms, the party spends some time digging through the boxes in the old storage room. Little seemed of value till a box was discovered hidden under some preserved meat of questionable origin. Within was a small cache of coins and a potion! Feeling this a good sign, they continued exploring.

Once they reached the main temple, they saw a light and heard a noise coming from the central room. Within was a giant weasel playing with a glowing coin. The weasel abandons its toy in favor of live prey, but is cut down when faced with a heavily armored elf and cleric. Brother Dimetri strings the coin and hangs it around his neck. Drolo is tasked with skinning the weasel.

Checking out the 4 elemental rooms, the wax filled fire chamber was the most interesting. Using his shield, Brother Dimetri began to chisel chunks of wax off the walls, looking for hidden things… and discovered a door! Beyond was a dusty and dark hallway leading to a flight of stairs leading up…

Taking the stairs, and following the corridor beyond, they came to a locked door flanked by dusty alcoves on either side, each with an old stool. Borumar checked for traps, then unlocked the door… beyond was another pair of alcoves flanking another locked door. However, instead of old stools, rusty iron statues stood guard. Checking the statues, and finding them solid casts, Borumar again bent to work on the lock. The statues (of course) animated. A tense and bloody fight ended with the statues destroyed, and no weapons sucked into them. Borumar then unlocked the door, and within a nude medusa stood in the middle of a trashed room. Whatever caused her gaunt form and sickly pallor did nothing to slow her frenzied assault at the party.

Borumar dodged back, firing an arrow as he went. Phynara did her best to avoid the medusa’s gaze while still managing to hit with her sword. Then the inexperienced Dimetri stepped forward, looked her directly in the eye, and slammed his weapon into her face, dropping her to the ground.

Phynara lopped the medusa’s head off, and Borumar bagged it. Then they searched the room, discovering that most everything had been destroyed, except for 10 pieces of jewelry! Gathering up their loot, the party rushed from the dungeon, and back to town, delivering the head to the alchemist.

While the alchemist worked, Dimetri returned to the dungeon with porters and a wagon, lugging out several large pieces of furniture that the elementalists had left behind, as well as as much wax as they could take.

Gains: 10,000gp worth of jewelry,
Kills: Giant Weasel, 2 iron statues, 1 medusa

Image Source: Medusa by.paulo

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Adrasteia Winterthorn, Vampiress

The dungeon dweller’s vampire Adrasteia Winterthorn is a wonderful figure. Really classic look, and a well sculpted face.

This is how Reaper's in house artist painted theirs.

I was honestly looking forward to painting a figure that wasn’t clearly in a combat I was also looking forward to painting the dress. I wanted to see what I could do with Spectral White, and in the end, I think I got a good effect from it. I also used this figure to practice something that was a focus of one of my classes at Reapercon – shadowing faces. Up close it looks a little rough, but I think I got the effect basically down. Even my bride, who is generally rather critical of my efforts to paint faces thought she came out well.

For the dress I worked really hard to make the dress look like it’s giving the impression of being a little sheer. Not so much that you can see anything through it, but I wanted it to look a little soft, the way old fabric gets.

One concern I did have was how the dress and the vampiric skin would look together. I was concerned that the colors would both be too pale next to each other, but the final effect looks okay. It helps that the dress is more purplish pink and her skin is more in the blue shade of things. It’s subtle, but strong enough to work, especially with the succubus kiss cape liner and lips. I used Heraldic Red to bring the color up for highlights. For the lace/ribbon around the bodice, and the bracers and wrap around her waist I used Ancient Bronze mixed with a drop of Succubus kiss to give the metal a reddish tint.

For the back of the cape, I used pure black mixed with Nightsky Indigo, and a touch of Mountain Grey for highlights.

I'm kind of displeased with the base, and I think I'm going to redo it before wrapping this up. Aside from the base, I've still got some work to do on her hair, and the wrap, and I might want to do a bit more with the highlights of the cape

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Stonehell: Back to the Dungeon!

Session 113 was played on 11/24

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Sabine, Elf Wizard 9 (Chris)
Phynara, Elf 8 (NPC)

Borumar, on a quest to save Jo, takes Sabine and Phynara into Stonehell to find the body of the medusa. On the way they’re spotted by a dragon flying above them. It circles once, and then continues on its way.

Down through the hobgoblin caves, through the empty halls of the redoubt, and down the main stairs to the Medusa’s lair, they discuss how they’ll take her head, worried that the head might still turn them to stone. Borumar and Sabine put on blindfolds, while Phynara stayed back and kept watch. Moving blindly forward, keeping the wall in reach, with Borumar in the lead, his hand presses into something soft that Phynara didn’t see… a gelatinous cube! It tries to suck Borumar in, but he leaps back, and the party kills it before it can do much damage.

Sadly, the cube, and the sparkling clean hallway, mean that the body of the medusa is long gone.

They then head back toward where the Oliphant room is, stopped on the way by a plated monkey that they kill before it can launch a lightning bolt at them.

With the mouse statue in hand, Borumar pushed open the broken door of the Oliphant’s room, and stepped in. The stone oliphant turned toward Borumar, and then there was a flash of purple light, and in place of the mighty animated statue was a much smaller statue, barely a foot tall, with one black and one white tusk. Borumar played with it, revealing that turning one tusk turns the statue into a pack elephant, and the other into a war mammoth.

Departing Stonehell, they decided to head back to the side dungeon to try to find the medusa that used to live there.

Gains: Phollando's Phenomenal Portable Pachyderm
Kills: Plated Monkey, Gelatinous Cube

Monday, December 9, 2019

Miniature: Owlbear

More catching up on finished projects, today the Bones Black Owlbear!

While I have some WiP pictures, I'm a little fuzzy on exactly what paints I used.

The pictures are pretty clear on how they're all layered together. I went with markings that aren't exactly realistic to either owls or bears, but I think make for an interesting looking magical beast.

One thing that bugs me is that I forgot I had an owlbear from Bones 3 that I could have painted at the same time. Ah well.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Miniatures: Sci-Fi Dino Troopers

I have a bunch of miniature posts to catch up on, from the Raptors, to the Owlbear, to a bunch of vampires, and some ghouls

This post though, is about the sci-fi dino troopers from Reaper's Bones 4.

Of course I did most of the painting in October, and don't remember exactly what colors I used... I think I used grey liner, but it might have been blue...

You'll note that the bases are tiny. I've got these guys sitting on standard 1" bases, and, well, the only one that comes close is the T-Rex. So, sadly, I cut them all off their bases...

And stamped out some sci-fi bases. And yeah, that's one of the vampires I'll be posting about later.

Here they are!

Then I painted them up and glued them on. I probably could have done a cleaner job trimming the edges of the stamped mold. Also thinking that it might look better on square bases, but they're done, and they were fun to work on.

My biggest complaint, aside from the bases, is that there's only one of each of these guys. I'd love a few more variations for any or all of them. More weapons, different poses, but the same types of armor.

I have no idea what I'll ever use them for, but whatever.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Stonehell: Rock Hard from a Cockatrice

Session 112 was played on 11/17

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)

Returning to the side dungeon, and the many petrified figures, Jo wants to revive someone. They make a check over the various figures, and settle on a female elven wizard. Rubbing the oil of Stone to Flesh over her, she returns to life, and once realizing Jo and Borumar aren’t trying to kill her, introduces herself as Sabrine Blackwillow, and explains that she’d been hunting a medusa with her friends, and that they were set upon by a flock of cockatrices. Looking around, she only sees one of her fellow adventurers. She hopes that the others made it out alive. Asking the year, she realizes she’s been trapped for 64 years…

Checking out another room, they discover an owlbear pressed up in the corner, petrified. Jo talks about using the last vial of oil on the owlbear, in case they need to run away and want something to get in between them and whatever they’re running from. Borumar thinks this isn’t the best idea. Sabrine wants to use the oil on her friend. Jo is hesitant, but she promises to make it worth their while. Borumar and Jo discuss it, and agree.

Back to the Medusa’s bedroom, they oil up Phynara Wynnan, explain the situation, and move on.

The next room they explore has a pair of cockatrices. Jo tries to block the first one, as it flies toward him, but he gets pecked, and instantly crusts over. The foul are killed, and Borumar looks at the pair of elves. They quick check the room, discover a bunch of gold, and some gems. Grabbing the statue of Jo, they head toward the exit.

6 lazily aggressive wererats are waiting for them at the stairs. They’re upset that the party hasn’t been better visitors, and demand 500 gold to let them pass. Borumar tries to talk them down, but they up the cost to 600. In the course of conversation, they discover that the medusa did used to live here, but was moved out some time ago. Phynara is ready to throw down, but Borumar just wants out, so he pays.

It’s a long walk back to town, dragging the statue of Jo, but they eventually make it. In town, no wizards know Stone to Flesh, and no one has a potion, but an alchemist says he can do it with a Medusa’s hair (snake).

Borumar checks in with A-A-Ron, who tells him about the medusa they killed in Stonehell, and where. Borumar plans to see if the body is still there…

Gains: 3,000gp, 7 gems, Phynara, Sabrine
Kills: Cockatrices
Losses: 600gp

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Review: The Queen of Crows and The Killing Light

Myke Cole's fantasy trilogy is complete!

Somehow, I completely failed to not only review The Queen of Crows, but I didn't even get around to marking it as read on Goodreads!

Picking up from where things left off in The Armored Saint, Myke doesn't let up the pressure. Heloise may have saved most of the people she cares about from a demon, and the religious zealots who want to kill her and her village, but now that she's basically turned herself into an unwilling heretic, she's got to find a way to survive.

The pressure keeps mounting, and the steel magitech armor she wears can only do so much to protect her from the physical assaults she faces, and it does nothing to protect her from the emotional hits she takes over the last 2 books. And do those hits keep coming. From having to deal with grief for those she lost, grief and pain from her own disfigurement, the knowledge that many people want her dead, that others believe her a living saint, and still others just see her as a symbol they can use to topple the ancient church that oppresses all around it, and her own feelings of confusion and everything else that comes with being a 16 year old girl... it's a lot. And Myke takes it places I wasn't expecting.

If my review of The Armored Saint didn't get you to pick up the series, I hope this review does!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Stonehell: More Scorpions!

Session 111 was played on 11/10

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Kili, Dwarven Cleric of Cthulhu 5 (Matt)

Returning to the abandoned medusa’s lair level of the side dungeon, they head to the door opposite the medusa’s room, and discover another giant scorpion. They don’t see the party, and Borumar sneaks in, and kills it before noticing the other 3. He runs, drawing them toward Kili who bottlenecks them in the doorway. They grab Kili, putting the squeeze on him, but failing to land with their tails. One by one Kili and Borumar take out the scorpions as they try to squirm out of the room.

Having soaked a bunch of damage, they make a quick check of the scorpion’s lair, then make for the surface. They’re ambushed on the way by 6 wights. Kili turns 2 immediately, Borumar kills one, one drains Kili’s strength, but then Kili turns the remaining 3.

They glance at the wight’s body, and then rush back to town.

While in town, Kili spends 5,000gp to hire a Diviner to discover what it is that the Olifant is afraid of. The Diviner uses Contact Other Plane, and tells Kili that he seeks a wooden anthropomorphic mouse statue. A statue that happens to look just like the one Grishnaz had…

Later that night, under a cloudy sky, Kili dug up Grishnaz’s grave, retrieving the small statue.

Kills: Giant scorpions, Wights

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

New Monster: Vomit Zombie

The dimly lit wood paneled walls were smeared with gunk, and the floor was slick with the chunky mess. The stale smell of vomit death permeated everything.

“What is this?” Nimble whispered as he tapped his toe at the lumpy fluid. “Ugh, it’s sticky…”

From out of an open doorway to the left, a sickly bloated looking man in a soiled nightshirt stumbled out and turned toward Nimble. His nearly bald head was beaded with sweat, his hair stiff and unkempt.

“Shit” Nimble slipped his dagger from his belt. “Stay back” he warned. The man gave no sign of understanding, and step by sticky step continued to approach Nimble, who backed toward the stairs. “Forget this.” Hopping over the railing, he dropped about half way down the stairs. After landing, he looked up to see what the figure was doing. The man leaned over the railing looking down, drool hanging from his open mouth.

With a stomach churning “hurk” and a shudder, a stream of vomit shot out from the man’s mouth, and down toward Nimble.

Zombie, Vomit

Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 4+1* (M)
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 claw or 1 vomit
Damage: 2d4+1 or 1d4+special
No. Appearing: 1d4 (2d4)
Save As: F4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: 2
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 200

Vomit Zombies are even more disgusting versions of standard zombies. They possess all the usual undead features, immunity to charm, sleep, and hold spells. They are faster than usual zombies, in spite of their bloated form. In combat they will either attempt to claw their opponent, or vomit on them. The projectile vomiting uses the same rules as a dragon's line shaped breath weapon, with a range of 15'. Anyone in the 5'*15' line will take the 1d4 damage, and must make a saving throw vs breath weapon or suffer the effects of the 3rd level cleric spell Cause Disease. Anyone killed while suffering the effects of the disease (whether the disease is the cause of death or not) will rise as a Vomit Zombie in 1d6 hours.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Stonehell: Scorpions!

Session 110 was played on 10/27

Borumar, ½ Orc Thief 7 (Josh)
Kili, Dwarven Cleric of Cthulhu 5 (Matt)
Joho, Mystic 5 (Chris)

Entering the dungeon through the side passage used by the cultists, they head straight down to level 9, and head north, up around the statues in the stage area, and spot a quintet of elves in battle poses, frozen in stone. One of the elves was attempting to pick a lock when he was turned. Maneuvering around the elves, they take a closer look, and see the elf holding stone lockpicks that are currently inserted into the door. They smash the elf’s arm, and shift the statue away from the door. Borumar sets about removing the shattered bits of stone from the lock. Kili and Jojo keep watch, which means they’re not surprised when a giant scorpion comes around the far hallway.

Kili moves to block the horse sized arachnid, and is immediately grabbed by its massive claw. Jojo runs up and lands 2 solid blows on the bug, and Borumar slips out and around to jab his short blade into the thinner armor of the underbelly. The scorpion spasms, and dies, releasing Kili.

Just in time, as more scorpions are coming! In a slow retreat, the party keeps the scorpions from being able to being able to flank the party. This saves them, as one by one, they kill the grabby stingy creatures. Borumar even survives multiple stings with only a weird discoloration where the venom was injected.

With the threat removed, Borumar is able to successfully open the door, and the party looks inside. More stone people, including a butler by the door line the richly appointed room. A large bed, and a mirrorless vanity are the main bits of furniture that draw the eye. Borumar finds a chest under the bed, and avoids the gas trap, finding 2 vials of oil, a beautiful bow, and a quiver of arrows.

Departing the room, but butler statue by the door comes to life, and sucker punches Kili. The party tries to run, but Kili in his armor is too slow, so they fight, desperately, and manage to destroy the statue before anyone dies, though it’s close for Kili.

Cutting off the scorpion tails, the party then heads back to town.

Gains: Mastercraft longbow, 10 arrows +1, 2 vials of Oil of Stone to Flesh
Kills: Giant scorpions, Butler statue

Friday, November 8, 2019

October Review

I can't even tell you where the month went... Got a new job, got crazy busy with the new job, tried to squeeze in study time, Bones V happened (and I didn't even post about it here!)... Just, it's been a month. I didn't even carve a pumpkin this year!!

A bit of Stonehell, and a bit of Strahd. We're trying Stonehell on Sunday evenings, rather than Saturday morning. We'll see how that works out.

Worked on the raptors. the Bones Black owlbear, and the sci-fi dinos from Bones 4. They're almost all done, just need to glue them to their new bases. For whatever reason, the cool bases they comes on are all too tiny. Only one is about 1", the rest are all smaller. I decided to standardize them, but more on that later.

Oh, and I started her too.


Movies/TV Watched

Brooklyn 99 - Finished
Dark Matters - onto season 3!
Dark Tourists
JoJo Rabbit

CPA study - taking the test in a week!
Finish the dinos
Come up with a cool thanksgiving day D&D game idea for the kids

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Bones Raptors part 2

I decided that the brown wasn't flashy enough for the raptors. I wanted something brighter, more interesting looking... so I added color! And took some obvious inspiration from Jurassic World.

I wasn't feeling too worried about trying to make them look like reap raptors, because what would that even look like? We don't actually know. And since these are very much gaming pieces, I don't really care that they don't match each other.

And since I was happy with that, it was time to flock the bases.

I still want to add some tall grass or something, but... Not sure what. They're good enough at this point though that I'm gonna call them done.