Friday, July 31, 2020

Outhouses part 2

A while back I posted about the outhouses I'd made, but at the time I hadn't painted them. Well, now I've painted one of them. Sadly no work in progress pics, but the colors were Reaper's Rotting Wood, Ancient Wood, and one of the moss colors.

I still need to add some flock and a bush growing out of the toilet seat. But that's for another post.

And let's be honest, a post about a rotten collapsing outhouse is really on point for 2020....

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Stonehell: Wandering the Living Caves

Session 140 was played on 4/30

Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Hobart (dog)
Kili, Cleric 6 (Matt)
Boris, Cleric 5 (Jeff)
Morgana, Mage 3 (Robert)
Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic (Chris)
Daton, Fighter (Jay)

Breakfast in the Korners is giant centipede legs. Lots of them. Joho gives a thousand gold to the kobolds as an investment in the bath house.

Making sure Joho was doing okay, they pack up and head down to level 4. Fairly quickly they encounter a group of depraved berzerkers, not the clan that is Karl’s friend. 2 are killed, 2 are held, and one is put to sleep before they could do much damage. Kili killed the helpless ones. Looting their corpses returned a surprising amount of loot.

The party then spends hours wandering around the living caves, fighting some albino apes (Undoon the hireling is smashed by the apes), and later some rock beetles of some sort.

Game pauses in the dungeon...

Kills: depraved berzerkers, albino apes, rock renders
Losses: Undoon

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Free RPG Day

It's true that right now isn't the safest time to go head out to your FLGS and hang out with a bunch of strangers, crowded around a table, talking excitedly and... it sucks.

But today is *still* Free RPG Day. We're still celebrating the birthday of Gary Gygax (on the 27th), and we're still gonna go Read an RPG in Public this week.

And if your store is still participating maybe go get something, and spend some cash. Your FLGS could use it. And if it isn't, there will be a ton of sales and free stuff to be had online.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Stonehell: Why'd it have to be snakes?

Session 139 was played on 4/26

Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Hobart (dog)
Kili, Cleric 6 (Matt)
Boris, Cleric 5 (Jeff)
Morgana, Mage 3 (Robert)
Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Joho, Mystic (Chris)

The party heads down into the dungeon, intent on exploring The Living Caves. On the way, as they pass the Hot House, they’re briefly slowed as they kill a giant spider.

Once in the caves, they come to a mud pit, which Borumar carefully searches, with a rope tied to his belt. He finds some shiny rocks, bones, and a LOT of mud...

In a deep side cave, down in a fissure, they spy a metal lockbox. With some impressive engineering and making use of the tar pit, they manage to pull the box out.

In a massive cave with a pool of water, they find some snakes, and Joho gets bit! Morgana sleeps the remaining snakes, and they’re killed while Joho turns shades of green that are highly inappropriate. “Guys, I don’t feel so good…” he says before passing out. Lacking any means to effectively treat snake venom, and worried that they won’t have time to get out of the dungeon, the party picks Joho up and they RUN as fast as they can to Kobold Korners. The market is alive and bustling, and Keeper Nolti meets them almost immediately. Seeing the situation, the party calls in the favors they’d been offered for the gears a little while back. Nolti sends Joho to the bathhouse.

While Joho is tended to, with Borumar looking on, and being taken care of himself, the rest of the party does some shopping. Karl buys candy from the giant caterpillar with weirdly human hands. Boris acquires a bottle of antivenom and a bottle of strength from The Phairy Pharmacist.

10th Kingdom

Renting out the inn, the party crashes for the night.

Gains: lock-box coins, gems, candy
Kills: Spider, snakes

Friday, July 17, 2020

Avatar the Last Airbender Live Action Abomination

Some friends and I decided to binge Avatar the Last Airbender when it hit Netflix last month, and as an added bonus decided to do a drunken Netflix party for the live action movie after we were all done.

Now, we knew it was bad going in.

Nothing prepared us for just how truly bad it was on so many levels.

Warning, this review has spoilers for the cartoon (though I’m assuming you’ve seen the show), and, I guess, for the movie, but if this review tells you anything, it’s don’t watch the movie, not even as a drunken late night there’s nothing better (trust me, there’s something better) to watch.

The movie is basically the first season of the TV show (around 8-9 hours), condensed into about 90 minutes. All of the broad brush strokes of the show are there, from the basic storyline to the characters.

Yet it gets just about everything wrong. It’s almost as if "M. Night" Shyamalan only watched The Ember Island Players, and wrote the movie based on that. And none of the actors was allowed to watch the show at all, based on their performances.

Let’s start with the characters.

Aang, the fun loving airbender rarely cracks a smile and isn’t shown playing around.

Katara looks like she’s constantly on the brink of crying, can’t act, and just looks wrong, and not just because she’s white. She’s missing the hair loops! Actually, bad hair choices are a constant, but we got here first. Plus it feels really awkward for her to be hitting on Aang.

Sokka is the most whiny Anakin Skywalker character since Hayden Christensen. Where are the jokes? Where are the sarcastic comments? Where is anything that makes Sokka the ‘normal’ member of the Aag Gang that we know and love? And back to the hair… they ALMOST got it right… Which makes it kinda worse? Cause it stands out when no one else is even close… except for Aag, who’s just bald. Hard to screw that up.

Zuko… What’s Zuko’s defining visual characteristic? The scar. What’s barely visible in the movie version? The scar. His face should be seriously messed up. The scar should be angry and livid. Zuko should be Angry, full of the fire of pain and shame and resentment, and the scar should be the visual symbol of it. Instead Zuko comes off as the second whiniest Anakin Skywalker character to grace the big screen since Hayden Christensen.

And look, I think Hayden Christensen gets a bad wrap. He wasn’t exactly working with stellar script writing, and Lucas is crap at dialogue. But since Episodes II and III, there’s no excuse for any teen character to come off this poorly.

Appa… good lord, that face will haunt my nightmares…

Momo was… there.

Fire Lord Ozai was also there… and didn’t need to be. The Emperor didn’t show up in Episode IV. Ozai also totally lacked any of the menace the cartoon version presented. Just… He was a rich dude in charge and… eh?

Commander Zhao also just came off like a chump. Seriously, where’s the menace? Where’s anything that looks like they’re actually a danger? Where’s the fact that the Fire Nation has spent the last CENTURY taking over the world? Also, why does Zhao spend all his time at the capital? Doesn’t he have an avatar to capture? Instead we get him briefing Ozai, and delivering tons of exposition (more on this below). You know what’s not menacing? Briefings.

General Iroh… Were they even trying? At all? There was a vague attempt to make most of the characters look at least sort of vaguely like their cartoon counterparts, but Iroh? Not even close. Also no focus at all on his love of tea. How do you set up season 3 (or the 3rd movie) without mentioning tea?

Princess Yue was… good. I think they actually got her look right. The actress was fine given how little she had

Then we get to all the random changes to the plot from the original that they changed for no good reason that I can tell. A couple of these really stuck out to me.

Master Pakku/Waterbending - Instead of the Push/Pull theory of waterbending, we get “acceptance” a kinda of wishy washy go with the flow line of BS that divorces it from the yin/yang of the ocean and moon spirits… Why? Yet another example of Shyamalan shooting himself in the foot.

Also where were all the anti-sexist themes that ran through the show and made it more than a cartoon? Sokka’s big character arc (one of them, anyway) was outgrowing his sexist attitudes. Katara had to fight Master Pakku to get him to teach her. Princess Yue was being married off to a young promising soldier. All cut out.

The Siege of Ba Sing Se from 600 days in the show to 100 days in the movie… Why? Instead of seeming impressive with a 600 day siege, this makes Iroh seem weak, and the Fire Nation toothless.

Aang has a dragon spirit guide instead of Roku. Why? The whole deal with the Avatar is that he has the power of all his past lives living inside of him. Another failure to properly set up future storylines.

Firebenders have to have some fire around them to do their bending. That’s a HUGE change from the show, and changes the entire nature of the relationship of the Fire Nation to the other nations of the planet. Was M. Night Shyamalan actively trying to make the Fire Nation as neutered as possible? Again, where’s the actual menace? This movie doesn’t even have a Phantom Menace, it’s got negative menace.

The drill hats of the Fire Nation for the assault on the Northern Watertribe’s city were brilliant. The lone moment of genuine amusement in the whole depressing movie. They’re ridiculous, but I really liked them.

That out of the way, the editing and pacing of the movie was completely off. For example, early in the movie when the Fire Nation comes to the southern water tribe’s village looking for Aang, Zuko threatens the village if Aang refuses to come with him. Aang says he’ll go instantly. Zuko barely even finished the threat before Aang agreed. No pause to look around, nothing. Then… THEN a firebender kicks some fire toward the villagers. WTF?

The interruption of the action of the movie for long boring moments of exposition were painful and frequent. For what should have been an action movie, there was way too much telling, and not showing. Most of the exposition seemed unhelpful and confusing on top of being delivered in the most boring way possible. Even the info scroll at the beginning of the movie was less helpful than the tv show introduction.

Since I’ve mentioned the “action” can I just say how unconvincing it was? Not even getting into the bending, just the basic martial arts were pretty terrible. When you can have the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya perform one of the most brilliant sword fights ever captured on film, even though neither actor was a trained martial artist, when you can have someone like Jackie Chan do amazing things, when you have countless trained fight choreographers and martial artists there’s no excuse for such lousy fights on a martial arts film.

And the bending… I get it. It had to be CGI. But it was done in such a way as to look like CGI. No one bending ever looked like they were actually bending, they never interacted with it like it was real. They didn’t believe it, and so neither did anyone watching.

All in all, this was perhaps one of the worst movie experiences I’ve ever had. My friends and I all stopped the movie multiple times to vent at how bad it was, and to refill our respective drinks of choice, because there was no way we’d have made it through the movie sober.

I haven’t even gotten to the horrible racist casting choices. Making the Fire Nation all Indian/Middle Eastern looking while all the protagonists are white? Really?

REALLY? That's some messed up internalized racism there.

But going on about this is beating a dead horse.

In the end, the best thing any of us could say was the drill hats were funny, and Aasif Mandvi has a great voice, even if it was criminally used. The worst things (and it was really hard to pick) were Iroh, Sokka (his hair especially, but everything really), and Appa.

Save yourself, and never see this abomination.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

World Building Workshop! TONIGHT!

How to Build a Better Empire

To celebrate the re-launch of Steel Victory J.L. Gribble is offering her popular alternate history workshop online for the first time ever!

The workshop will be on Wednesday, July 15 at 7 PM Eastern and features three special guests:

This event is FREE, but you will need to register and claim your ticket.

This presentation is intended for fans and creators alike from all genres and mediums. We’ll explore the different types of alternate history, common tropes in the genre, and what considerations are needed when creating your own. Time will be available at the end of the presentation to ask questions of the special guests.

Stonehell: Old Treasure Map

Session 138 was played on 4/23

Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Hobart (dog)
Kili, Cleric 6 (Matt)
Boris, Cleric 5 (Jeff)
Morgana, Mage 3 (Robert)
Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)

Between carving up the dragon, splitting the treasure, and various other in town activities, 3 weeks have passed in game since they returned from the caves. Going through some of her older stash, Lady Eiric comes across an old treasure map that was never followed up on, she passes it off to the party, getting their agreement that she gets a share of the treasure if it pans out.

The party packs up and heads off to the Hot House, wanting to finish up their map. An octoplant gives them a bit of trouble, eating one of the hirelings (Morag). Was the loss of the hireling worth the magic armor they found? Probably.

Further exploration reveals some interesting moss specimens, a crate of brass gears (Karl weaves a few small ones into his beard), some old wine and wine glasses. Karl declares the wine serviceable.

They then bump into some Kobolds working on fixing… something. Probably a trap. They sell the gears to the kobolds for a future favor.

Having finished up the Hot House, Boris and Karl look over their maps, and the treasure map. The caves suggest that maybe it’s somewhere in level 4, but it doesn’t seem to line up with the sections they’ve explored… but… they realize they’ve got NOTHING for level 4C. So, down the stairs they go. And they quickly begin to suspect that the treasure map might be showing the caves they find themselves in! Carefully making their way through the caves the find and disable a spiked log trap, and then take a side passage to a semi-hidden cave stacked with old worthless loot. The rotted and rusted supplies poorly hidden under an earthen color tarp deflated the party. This couldn’t be it… Searching carefully Karl notes that one spot along the wall has been dug out and refilled.

Getting to work, the party quickly uncovers a very large very heavy chest. Redistributing the coins within, Karl puts 5cp back in the chest, and then reburris it.

Loaded down with loot, the party makes their way quickly and safely back to town.

Gains: Treasure map treasure, briar armor, 18 bottles of old wine.
Kills: octoplant, some minor vermin
Losses: Morag

Monday, July 13, 2020

Stonehell: The Dragon's Treasure

Session 137 was played on 4/19

Eiric, Mage 8 (Kat)
Big Red (dog)
Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Hobart (dog)
Kili, Cleric 6 (Matt)
Boris, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 2 (Jay)
Morgana, Mage 2 (Robert)
Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Koltic, NPC Cleric 6
Darryl, NPC Cleric 6

The party looks to the door to the south, which has remained closed the entire time. The party shuffles over, somewhat spread out. Listening at the door, they can hear the whispers of someone talking. Karl tells them to open up, or he’ll kick the door down. The voices go silent, before someone says “Go away!”

Eiric casts Knock, and the door swings open, revealing half a dozen ogres with eyes the size of dinner plates. One of them tentatively reaches forward, takes hold of the door, and says “No thanks… we don’t want any” and slowly pushes the door closed.

“You stay in there!” Karl yells through the door.

A muffled reply of “Okay”

Exploring more of the large cave, no other doorways were found. The party continues on along the beach heading north, and a narrow passage up into the rocks climbs up, and off to the side of it, an opening into a side cave that looks recently vacated.

Heading up the stone stairs the party comes to a set of linked caves. One cave has an opening that looks out over the Dark Depths, but even more impressive than the view is the treasure that’s piled around the cave. The other cave of about equal size stinks of rotted crab.

Feeling a little overwhelmed, they decide to set up camp in the caves, both to rest up and to inventory the treasure. After a couple of hours of sorting, they settle on watches, and bed down for the night.

Borumar takes first watch, and sets up an alarm trap on the stairs. In the middle of his shift he hears splashing. Lots of it. But he can’t see anything from the window. He wakes Joho, but whatever was causing the sounds, which continue for about half an hour, never come into line of sight of the window.

Second shift with Karl and Daton is quiet.

During Joho’s shift, a group of troglodytes tries to storm the cave, but they set off Borumar’s trap. Joho and Borumar, plus the men at arms are enough to force the troglodytes away.

The next morning, more sorting is done, and the choicest of the loot is packed up. On the way out, the main cave where the big battle took place is empty of corpses, and there are a lot of weird tracks going to and from the water.

Making the most of Floating Disks, they get the treasure out of the dungeon and back to Lady Eiric’s estate. Lady Eiric, Koltic, and Daton stay behind to guard it, and the rest hire a large wagon to return to the dungeon for another load.

In the dungeon, they see the ogres in the Troglodyte lair. Remembering that a fair chunk of copper and silver were left behind, they discuss the value of fighting the ogres, but decide they’re not worth the effort. They then gather the remaining bulk of the dragon’s treasure (again leaving behind a lot of copper and some silver) and head back to the surface. On the way they slay a trio of giant spiders.

Gains: The dragon’s treasure
Kills: 3 giant spiders

Friday, July 10, 2020

Maggotcrown Ogre Juggernauts

Sometimes you just want something big and chonky to paint up.

I primed them with Styrez airbrush primer. It's kind of a reddish color. Not sure the name of it, as it was a sample bottle from ReaperCon. Then I brushed on the metalic primer over that, leaving some of the red showing through.

Over that went some shadowed steel and some brass. Nightmare Black for the mace hafts. The leather was done with Hodag Green as the base.

I mixed up the placement of the brass to help make them look less identical.

Everything got a good wash of dark sepia, while the skulls were painted up with Desert Sand and then Leather White.

Simple quick paint job that won't win any awards, but will look good on the tabletop.

Also, I really need to invest the time in making a good backdrop for my pictures...

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Stonehell: The Trouble with Troglodytes

Session 136 was played on 4/16

Eiric, Mage 8 (Kat)
Big Red (dog)
Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Hobart (dog)
Kili, Cleric 6 (Matt)
Boris, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 2 (Jay)
Morgana, Mage 2 (Robert)
Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Koltic, NPC Cleric 6
Darryl, NPC Cleric 6

Stepping away from the stairs, and down onto the beach, the party can see to the south that the beach narrows to nothing as the stone wall of the cave continues into darkness. To the north the beach opens up, and the cave deepens. Moving carefully, they can see tracks of various creatures in the muddy ground away from the beach… and a stout door on the north wall, and another on the south wall, even deeper into the cave. Starting with the door closer to the beach, they head north.

An unpleasant smell lingers outside the door, but no one can identify it. Something looks at the party through the keyhole. Karl tries to stab whatever it is that’s looking at them, but the dagger gets stuck. The party then tries a few more diplomatic options:

“Avon calling!”
“Room Service!”
"Have you accepted the lord and destroyer Cthulhu into your nightmares?"

None of these are effective.

While the party is debating what to do, the doors burst open, and a blast of the most noxious air washes over the whole party. Just behind the smell are ugly crested lizardmen, some riding large 6 legged reptilian mounts. The mounted lizardmen plow through the party, knocking them aside and allowing the ones on foot to engage.

The battle is tense, as the party is outnumbered nearly 1.5:1, and even the wizards are forced into hand to hand combat. Lady Eiric manages to get far enough away from the danger to unleash a lightning bolt that takes out a few of the lizardmen, and crisps a wave of elite warriors who were charging toward the party. Only the biggest and meanest and stinkyest of them survive, and he charges into Daton.

One of the mounted lizardmen clubs Lady Eiric to the ground, and he then uses his mount to step on her. Karl and Boris charge in, taking down the best, and pouring healing magic into the broken wizard.

Daton and the trog king trade blows, but Daton’s blade sinks deep into the king’s charred chest, and he drops to the ground. Soon after the last of the trogs are dead, and the party spends a few moments catching their breath and downing some healing potions. The stink of the bodies, and the smell coming from the lair keeps most of the party out, but Daton, Borumar, Boris, Kili, and Karl master their gag reflexes and explore the lair.

While they're looting the trog halls, the water near the beach begins to splash, and emerging from the dark depths comes a massive crab, easily 12’ across, and standing nearly 8’ tall. The party keeps out of reach of it’s claws, and Eiric casts Snowden’s Icy Sphere under the crab. It recoils from the magical cold and runs back to the water. The sphere follows, turning the water at the beach into an icy slush.

In the Trog King’s throne room, the looters pull the plate armor off the wall. Daton, standing on the throne to reach the helmet off the wall, breaks open the back of the throne revealing a quiver of arrows and a fancy sword. Grabbing the (magical?) loot, and a small amount of coinage, they head back to the main cave.

Gains: Magical sword, arrows, and armor. Small haul of coins.
Kills: troglodytes

Monday, July 6, 2020

Kornovik the Outcast

And here he is...

I am excessively pleased with how well he turned out. At some point I'd love to put him next to the real thing and see how they compare side to side.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Stonehell: Dead Dragons and Dark Tunnels

Session 135 was played on 4/12

Eiric, Mage 8 (Kat)
Big Red (dog)
Karl, Dwarf 8 (Julia)
Hobart (dog)
Joho, Mystic (Chris)
Boris, Cleric 3 (Jeff)
Daton, Fighter 2 (Jay)
Morgana, Mage 2 (Robert)
Borumar, Thief 7 (Josh)
Captain Morgan (dog)
Koltic, NPC Cleric 6
Darryl, NPC Cleric 6

Knowing the dragon could speak and cast spells, Koltic used Speak With Dead on the corpse, and asked the following questions:

Is your lair in the swamp?
An entrance to the lair is in the swamp

North or South side of the swamp?

Closer to the river or the Old King’s Way?
The river

Darryl then used his Speak with Dead on the dragon.

East, west, or middle of the swamp?

What’s the most identifiable landmark near the entrance?
Grossly misshapen tree next to the hidden depths

What defends your lair?
Tentacle monster of the dark depths
Ogre Queen

The party left Lady Eiric’s estate and went directly to the town market looking to hire meatshields. They buy a dog, Big Red, and hire some men at arms

Knowing hat the news of the dragon had spread all over town, the party decides to get a move on, in spite of the late hour. Heading out from town, the party arrives at the entrance to St. Uther’s Crypt at just after sunset. Rather than attempt to navigate the swamp at night, they camp in the entryway to the crypt.

The next morning they begin their search. Miserable hours of wet boots, itchy bug bites, and thick mud reveal little of interest. Well into the afternoon, the party stumbles on a nest of giant water termites. Not long after slaying the bugs, the party notices a large misshapen tree, and next to it, an area where the water seems deeper than the surrounding area. Daton uses the lenses of seeing to explore the water. In the murky depths, he sees an underwater tunnel. It drops down nearly a hundred feet before turning to the south-west. The party moves parallel to the tunnel on the surface, allowing Daton to continue using the arcane eye of the lenses.

As the party stomps their way through the swamp, Daton sees an undead spirit nearby. He passes the lenses to Borumar, who uses them to shoot the spirit. It flees. As the party continues on, following the tunnel (which has continued to slope further and further down stretching to near the edge of the lens’ range… until the tunnel opens up into a much larger space. Moving the arcane eye upward, it breaks the surface of the water inside a colossal cave.

On the surface, the party realizes they’re near the Crypt of St. Uther. With some bitter complaining of bug bites and wet feet the party descends into the crypt, following the path as deep as they’ve ever gone. They’re briefly slowed by a giant scorpion, before arriving on the 11th level…

The stone stairway opens out onto a crescent beach. The water stretches out from the beach far beyond what their light sources can reveal. But far out there is a light… dim, but distinct. The sounds of water gently moving against the rocks of the beach are amplified by the cave, drowning out any other softer sounds, and even muffling the clanking of the party.

Gains: 2 vials of scorpion venom
Kills: giant water termites, giant scorpion

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Kornovik the Outcast (pt 8)

That moment when you're painting and realize you forgot to give one boot the cuff you gave the other one, and also forgot to attach the strap across Kornovik's chest to anything...IMG_20200414_215130.thumb.jpg.76849d25734713dcbd4f9be0960e7b6f.jpgIMG_20200414_215216.thumb.jpg.0521529e5b9f20f90ae0d9c88790a3ef.jpgIMG_20200414_215151.thumb.jpg.a51eaf54bb7c5d35c404ad27c05991c7.jpg

And while I was at it, I have the saddle a little more detail. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

June in Review

The pandemic continues. I’ve been trying to enjoy my time as much as possible. It isn’t easy, given everything going on. With the increased temperatures I haven’t been going outside much, except to walk the dogs.

I’ve introduced the Lost Level to my players, and they’re excited! I went and redrew the whole thing, and rewrote big chunks of it to better fit in with my version of Stonehell. I’ll post it once they’re finished with it.

After finishing up the Dark Elves, I moved on to more underdark creatures and painted up Reaper’s versions of the Umber Hulk and Hooked Horror, then the Maggotcrown Ogres, Maggotcrown guards, some ice toads, and am currently working on a couple Dreadmere minis, as well as the WizKids Spectator and Gazers. All in all a very productive mini painting month.

Movies/TV Watched
The IT Crowd (finished series)
Avatar the Last Airbender (all 3 seasons)
Dungeons and Dragons
7 Days in Hell
Tour de Pharmacy

Books Read
Claw of the Conciliator
A Shadow of All Night Falling

Catch up on Stonehell session reports
Survive the pandemic
Get back into gear with my CPA studies.