Monday, October 30, 2023

Stonehell: Auntie Ethel's Hut & The Staff of Life and Death

Session 214 was played on 12/6

Morgana, Magic User 8 (Rob)
Borumar, ½ orc thief (Josh)
Blotto, Goblin (Lanse)
Koltic, Cleric 7 (NPC)
Aroon, Fighter (NPC)
Jameth, Fighter (NPC)
Lor’Koth, Dwarf (NPC)

Not wanting to be spotted, Morgana casts Invisibility 10’ radius on the party, and they head down the steep foggy pine-filled slope down into the boggy bottom of the valley. They manage to find a mostly dry path, but Lorkoth, Aroon, and Morgana manage to rub against some noxious plant, and develop itchy welts. They avoid an encounter with bog zombies thanks to their invisibility, but not the smarter bog wraith. Koltic destroyed the creature, but became visible.

Moving deeper into the bog they spot a single spot rising out of the water. A small round hill with a hut built on the top. Getting closer the hill has a low fence around it, each post topped with a skull. Some are animal skulls, but most are humanoid. Circling the hill the party discovers that it isn’t a hill but the shell of a massive tortoise when it gets up and moves about 30’ before setting back down. The hut on the shell has a crude covered porch with an equally crude rocking chair. Unbothered by the tortoise shifting position is a small black kitten.

Morgana uses Ice Storm to create a wall of ice from their position to the base of the shell, then immediately casts dispel magic on the fence, and then drops a fireball on the cabin’s door.

The kitten does not survive. The cabin is on fire, and the hag within is screaming. Snakes swarm out of the bog water onto the ice bridge and attack, Jameth is bitten and immediately drops. Koltic kicks away the snakes and pours antivenom down his throat. Morgana drops another fireball on the cabin, and it collapses. Aunt Ethel stands burnt among the ruins holding a glowing staff. Her visage no longer that of a slightly plump older woman, but a tall and frighteningly thin hag in burning rags with green-black skin. The party watches as the wounds and burns close up and brush off like dry ash.

Morgana drops an ice storm on the hag, pelting her with hailstones, and largely putting out the fire. The tortoise is finally annoyed by the goings on and starts to walk away from the fuss. Aroon and Lor'Koth charge up the shell and start swinging at the hag, desperately avoiding her long black claws. Lor’Koth is hit, but resists the poison. Aroon crits on her, which only seems to piss her off more. Borumar shoots her with his bow, and Morgana with her magic missiles. Finally staggered, Aroon takes another swing, taking her head. They quickly loot the ruins, making sure to find the locket, and coming away with an impressive stash of treasure, including the Staff of Life and Death. Koltic goes orgasmic upon touching it, and loudly lets everyone know he isn’t going to give it up. There are some worried looks, but decide now isn’t the time to deal with it. They quickly head back to the Tomb of Singu the Giant Slayer…

Gains: The Staff of Life and Death, Locket, 90,200 gp worth of treasure
Kills: black kitten, Black Hag

DM Notes: The managed to avoid the werewolf packs both coming and going, which meant they also missed the magic swords they'd looted from Singu's knights. I also expected them to talk with the hag, not just go right in with the fireballs, but I underestimated how much she'd pissed them off by fooling them. Had they talked to her, she'd have given up the locket without much fuss, but they'd have gotten a lot less XP and not gotten the staff.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Stonehell: Mud and Rock

Session 213 was played on 12/4

Morgana, Magic User 8 (Rob)
Borumar, ½ orc thief (Josh)
Blotto, Goblin (Lanse)
Koltic, Cleric 7 (NPC)
Aroon, Fighter (NPC)
Jameth, Fighter (NPC)
Lor’Koth, Dwarf (NPC)

Upon returning to the ruins, the party finds Auntie Ethel and her followers decamped to parts unknown. The door to the crypts under the monastery was open, and figuring they might as well check it out, they head down into the muddy depths. The stairs had been mostly cleared of mud, though some wet bits were still along the edges, and everything was still very wet. At the bottom of the stairs, a flooded hall with a raised altar at the far end. The water was only ankle deep, and Borumar went to go check it out. In the muddy water he quickly discovered a significant number of bones, likely washed out of the burial niches when the crypt was initially flooded.

Approaching the dry raised section, the party started to follow, and they were surprised when a water elemental rose up and did its best to drown them. Morgana’s elemental staff saved the day, but while everyone was distracted by that, a pair of undead Wyrds stepped out of the shadows and started launching magical explosive orbs at the party. Between the elemental and the wyrds, Lor’Koth dropped, and fell under the water. Koltic eventually got to him in time to revive him, but he wasn’t up for much for the rest of the day.

With the wyrds and elemental defeated, the party explores the crypt, finding it already looted, the Staff of Life and Death long gone.

Returning to the muddy surface, the party scouts around, and Borumar finds a trail heading deeper into the mountains. The following morning they head out after Auntie Ethel.

The first day on the trail they were spotted by a flight of giant eagles, but the birds were uninterested in the party. Shortly after lunch a troop of rock baboons pelted the party from above with rocks, sticks, and shit. Not feeling a fight was worth it, they fled the baboons.

On the morning of the second day, a dozen stone giants used the party as moving targets, though it was a lazy effort on their part. Aroon’s new sword wanted to teach the giants a lesson, but was (wisely) overruled.

The third day of travel was without incident.

On the fourth day, the party reached a large circular valley, and the tracks dropped down into it…

Kills: water elemental, 2 wyrds

Monday, October 23, 2023

Stonehell: Tomb of Singu the Giant Slayer

Session 212 was played on 11/19

Morgana, Magic User 8 (Rob)
Blotto, Goblin (Lanse)
Koltic, Cleric 7 (NPC)
Aroon, Fighter (NPC)
Jameth, Fighter (NPC)
Lor’Koth, Dwarf (NPC)

Back from the hydra lair, the party follows Auntie Ethel’s guide to the tomb where the locket to bypass the magical barrier blocking the monastery. Up the steps into the tomb, the passage opens up into a wide hall with pillars running down both sides heading toward a statue at the far end. The floor was littered with the bones and armor of long dead warriors. Blotto pees on things as the party slowly makes their way into the hall. The far end of the hall, just past the statue, looks to have recently collapsed. As the last of the amigos enters the hall, the statues begin to stir. Koltic calls on the power of his drunken goddess and sends the skeletons scurrying for the rear of the hall. Morgana drops a fireball on the huddled lot, sending them back to their eternal rest.

Koltic then finds a secret passage, and the party opts to take it rather than the passage off the hall with the wall coursing with green energy. The short passage beyond the secret door opened into the crypt of Singu’s 6 closest knights. 5 of those knights rose up to confront the party. Koltic was unable to turn them, and Morgana was unable to use fireball or lightning bolt due to the close quarters. The fight was hard, but the party managed in the end… Searching around after, 2 of the knights were found to be missing their swords. Also, the 6th tomb was false and hid a set of stairs heading down…

Following the stairs, the party comes to a simple small room with a single stone coffin, with the lid already open, and an angry ghost waiting for them. He accuses the party of being thieves, defilers, grave robbers who took his love’s locket, and that he would see their souls sent to the hell they deserve!

Some quick talking from Morgana calmed the ghost of Singu enough to forestall his immediate attack on them, but his anger remained. He demanded the return of the locket and refused to allow anyone to depart his tomb without a binding promise. Morgana was more than hesitant to accept any enchantment upon herself. Blotto similarly felt it was a bad idea (not that the ghost was willing to acknowledge his being anything more than a servant of the party). The 3 amigos started a round of rock paper scissors, but before they could finish it up, Koltic stepped up, and accepted the geas.

Singu, wanting to ensure the return of the locket, offered the party his aegis. Aroon was closest in size to Singu, and also used a 2 handed sword. He pledged that the locket would be returned as he bagged up the armor to put on later. Satisfied, the ghost disappeared, and the party returned to the surface.

Where they found their guide missing!

No locket, no guide… Auntie Ethel had already been here! And by the time they return to the ruins, a week will have gone by!

Gains: Aegis of Singu the Giant Slayer (Plate +3, Intelligent Sword +1, +2 vs giants)
Kills: 30 armored skeletons (3HD), 5 Barrow Wardens

Friday, October 20, 2023

Stonehell: Muddy Ruins

Session 211 was played on 11/13

Morgana, Magic User 8 (Rob)
Blotto, Goblin (Lanse)
Koltic, Cleric 7 (NPC)
Aroon, Fighter (NPC)
Jameth, Fighter (NPC)
Lor’Koth, Dwarf (NPC)

The devastation along the river was total. Entire hamlets were wiped out. As they reached the mountain lake that was now half empty, they could see where the dam had failed. Next to it, the small fishing town was now dozens of muddy feet away from the water line. Talking to some locals, they said the days of constant rain had been even worse up in the mountains than what had hit down river.

Visible across the much smaller lake was a set of ruins long hidden by the water. No one in the town had any knowledge of it. Getting permission, the party took one of the mud-trapped fishing boats and got it back into the water (thanks to Morgana’s magic) and they made their way over to the ruins. Upon their arrival they found a group already exploring the ruins. They were all injured and crippled in various ways, and looking for a staff that was supposed to have powerful healing magics.

The party meets with the group’s leader, who asks them to call her Auntie Ethel. She’s a healer of some power, taking advantage of the broken dam to try to find the Staff of Life and Death, supposedly found in the ruins of the ancient monastery and tomb of Singu the Fair, Giant Slayer and consort of the founder of the monastery. She’s only interested in the staff, and is happy to let them have anything else they find, if they’re willing to enter the tomb under the ruins and get it. She just needs the magic locket that opens the tomb. But she knows where it is, and offers them a guide to the location.

The party accepts the offer, and heads out with their guide the next morning. Along the way the group is attacked by a wandering hydra, wildly attacking everyone with its 7 heads. It takes a few moments for the party to gather round to kill it, but they do. That such a massive creature could be so sneaky…

Morgana uses her magic to help find the nearby hydra lair, and recover the treasure within.

Gains: EP and GP, magical mace +2 +5 vs lycanthropes
Kills: Hydra

Monday, October 16, 2023

Stonehell: Beyond the Demon Door

Session 210 was played on 10/23

Morgana, Magic User 8 (Rob)
Blotto, Goblin (Lanse)
Gimble, Magic User (Scott)
Koltic, Cleric 7 (NPC)
Aroon, Fighter (NPC)
Jameth, Fighter (NPC)
Lor’Koth, Dwarf (NPC)

The rain, which started when the party headed out for the troll treasure kept up. Unseasonable weather, to say the least…

Following a lead the party heads up river from town. (I honestly have no memory as to why the party went to this dungeon...) Along the way Blotto enjoys some good fishing.

Arriving at the location of their lead, they find a demon door blocking the way. While Morgana and Gimble attempt to ascertain the means of opening it, the door summons forth some hellish spider monsters (counts as carrion crawlers and fire beetles). The monsters manage to paralyze Aroon and Blotto, while surrounding Lorkoth. Morgana settles the issue with a friendly fireball.

Defeating the guardians opens the seal on the door. The party bandages their wounds and heads in, descending down into a natural cavern with a large ritual slab in the center of it. The slab is stained with wax and blood, and scorch marks mar the walls. Under the slab is a hidden tunnel heading deeper into the earth. Lor’koth indicates that it’s structurally safe.

The tunnel drops steeply down, opening into a smaller cavern than the ritual chamber above. The floor is covered wall to wall with bones. As the party crunches onto them, 5 massive beasts with hooked claws for arms burst out from under the bones and attack. Lor’Koth takes the brunt of the first round of the monsters’ attack and drops from his wounds. Koltic attempts to turn the demonic things, and sends 2 scurrying back below the bones. The remaining beasts are killed, and Lor’Koth’s body is hauled back up the tunnel.

Out in the rain, the party decides to head to Boris’ temple fort and try to get Lor’Koth raised. On the way a pair of mountain trolls are spotted watching the party. Morgana and Gimble drop them with a pair of fireballs.

While at Boris’ temple, an earthquake hits! A short while later reports arrive at the temple that the natural dam up river has broken, and water has flooded down toward the swamp. But at least the rain has finally stopped. With Lor’Koth restored, the party heads further up the river to investigate.

Kills: Demon Spider Things (2 carrion crawlers and 9 fire beetles), 5 Hooked Horrors, 2 mountain trolls
Losses: 5,000gp to raise Lor’Koth

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Halloween Movies: Friday the 13th (1980)

 Of the classic horror/slasher movies I've watched, this one was my least favorite. 

While more gory than either Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween, the fact that the whole story isn't told till the end made most of it just seem... random, and that made it feel boring. I wonder if they had shown Jason's death at the beginning would have helped. Especially if they'd leaned into it being the ghost of the kid doing the killing. The twist at the end of it being his crazy mother would have been more satisfying. 

Another annoying bit was how dark so much of the movie was. Sure, a lot of it was at night in a rain storm, but come on... I still need to actually see what's going on.

I did like how Jason did show up at the end though, and I've heard part 2 is better. We'll see.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Jungle Scatter Terrain

As I mentioned in the post with the New Eden ruins, I started working on some scatter terrain. Now, I've never really made any before, so I wanted to make a few as proof of concept before making a whole bunch in case I wasn't happy with the result.

So,I started with a couple of oval bases, and added some coffee grounds to one, and some sand and gravel to the others. I also added some cork bits... after the original base material... Thing #1 I'd do different in the next set. Also the cork is too flat. Thankfully it ends up hidden pretty well in the end.

I started adding flock, and pulling out various bits of plastic foliage, and some pistachio shells which I glued closed and onto plastic stalks. I tried both super glue and hot glue for this. I think the super glue worked better.

In addition to the flock, I added a bunch of other random ground cover material, largely looking to add different textures, but also included a couple twigs to serve as fallen logs.

I dithered a bit about the plastic plants. I strongly considered just leaving the bases as is, but echoing in my head was every mini painter saying you absolutely need to paint your basing material.

So I did. First by priming black....

Then giving it an over spray of white.

This was followed by painting the foliage Craft Smart Hunter Green. Here's thing #2 I'll do differently In the future I'm going to make the bases without the foliage, ground cover only. I'm going to pre-paint all the foliage, priming it Black, then White, then (and this is the really important step) Green. If I had an airbrush I'd use that, but I don't, so it'll be rattle can. Once it's all painted a basic green, I'll go in an tint different plants different colors.


In addition to the green, I painted the base 2 different craft browns, and used a combo of the Hunter Green and Lush Foliage to pick out moss and other growths. The pistachio seeds were painted with the same Terracotta I used on the ruins, and some of the Spanish moss got painted with Purple.

And here they are among the ruins.

While not perfect I feel like they served as proof of concept, and provided a couple of important lessons for future pieces.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

New Eden Alien Ruins 3D terrain

A couple of years back a friend of mine gifted me with a BOX full of 3D printed terrain. I'm finally getting around to working on it. There was a delightful mix of stuff in it, from the alien ruins I'm sharing today from Printable Scenery, a couple small shuttles from 2nd Dynasty, and a bunch of city terrain from Flatline City

I'm nearing the end of the New Eden ruins, and wanted to share how it looks, before showing off the side project this set has inspired. This piece right here is the Mortis Simulacrum, and it shows off how I went about painting all of these terrain pieces. I took inspiration (ripped off) the official paint scheme from the web site. I started by priming it with Rust-oleum matte brown spray paint, and then gave it a heavy dry brush of Craft smart (from Michael's craft store) Antique White.

You really don't want to be using your good paints on big pieces of terrain like this. It's much better to a big 2oz bottle that costs less than a dollar rather than the 0.5oz bottle that costs $3.69.

After all that dry brushing, it's time for the terracotta accents. Again, this is the cheap craft smart craft paint. 

Finally it's time to paint the vines. Here's where I did exactly what I just got finished telling you not to do, and I used Reaper's Olive Drab. Why? Because I didn't pick up a green paint last time I was at the craft store and I didn't want to let that stop me. I'm very much in a "Any Progress is better than No Progress" phase right now, and wanted to keep knocking these out.

I did decide to do one thing different with this piece, which was to paint the central column figure as if it was a metal cladding over the stone. I got the idea from the piece below, and decided that since it looked very similar I'd do it on this one too. So the areas that were to be metal got painted black, and then dry brushed with Reaper's Blade Steel followed by a feathery light dry brush of Filigree Silver. 

You'll note the missing column above... It broke off, and my attempts to re-glue it failed, so I left it as a hole. I did add some gravel to make it look less like a 3D printed void. You'll see the broken piece in another post later this month.

And here's the whole set that's painted so far. I'll be getting it onto a table soon, and you'll see just how well this can cover a 3x3 table. There are a couple more pieces to add to it, and I expect to get them done soon. More to come!

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Sept ‘23 In Review

Where did this month go?!? I swear, I spent a week ‘recovering’ from ReaperCon, and then a week catching up, and then suddenly it was the 20th? And now it’s over? We also got a TON of rain this month, and discovered a whole new leak in the roof! Home Ownership is Awesome! As this post goes live, I’ll be tilling up the back yard to replace the grass weeds with clover. Hope it grows!

I managed to get in that game of Stargrave! It didn’t go well, but I played. Actually “it didn’t go well” is something of an understatement. My captain got shot, stunned, and then fell off the top of a moving train. Things went downhill from there.

Stonehell is back in full swing, and the party is making their way through to the back door of the Dwarven Hermitage. I’m looking forward to running that during the spooky season!

My #Dungeon23 is finally caught up. I’ve been perpetually a few days behind all month. I do wonder how much players will enjoy 2 months worth of fungal monsters and caves, but as designed, they’ll need to collect a bunch of stuff from there, and also maybe make some friends.

Post-Reapercon I was all set to jump back in and really start to focus on the things the judges suggested I work on. And then I grabbed a piece of terrain that was half finished… and then another… and then another… Well, I got a lot painted, but it was almost all terrain! 

Closeup of terrain, a large central pillar surrounded by 4 smaller pillars. Off white bricks with terracotta accents, and olive green vines growing on it.

Collection of alien inca-ish inspired ruined terrain.

4 oval bases of jungle scatter terrain along with Sir. Forscale and Sgt. Forscale for scale.

I’ve been really enjoying working on this jungle terrain, both the 3D printed stuff, and the scatter terrain I’ve been putting together to go with it. As we get into October, I’m going to probably wrap that all up and move on to the Flatline City terrain, and the dragon I started…

Star Trek Lower Decks Season 4
What We Do In The Shadows season 5
Only Murders in the Building season 3
Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, The Swan, The Rat Catcher
Halloween (1978)

Goals for Oct
Play scenario 2 for Hope Eternal again, and NOT DIE
Complete the scarecrow for the yard for Halloween.
Watch more Halloween/horror movies