Wednesday, May 27, 2015

OD&D Actual Play: Goblins, Ogres, and a Dark Wizard!

Balticon this year offered me the chance to cross two things off of my to do list: meet Jensen in person, and play the Original D&D 3 little brown books (plus Greyhawk).

The cast of characters is as follows:

DM - Chort
Corporal Cosima the Russian (Fighter 2) - Jensen
Al Cohol the Unwise (Cleric 2) - Rodney
Indy the Sneaky (Thief 2) - Ethan
Alfonso the Mapper (Fighter 2) - David
Naric the 3rd (Cleric 2) Jason
“Tim” the Anesthesiologist (Wizard 2) - Patrick
Bull the Amazon (Fighter 2) - NPC

As members of the militia for the village of Eastmark, the PCs jumped into action when a large column of smoke could be seen from an outlying farm. By the time they arrived, the goblins who had attacked had already departed, taking with them a significant portion of the farm’s livestock, and the farmer’s 10 year old daughter!

Following the tracks of the goblins and livestock proved easy, and lead straight through the woods, and right into an ambush! The goblins were quickly overcome, though Indy took some damage that was quickly healed by Naric.

The trail continued on to the ruins of the old castle mound. Very little of the original castle remained, mostly some overgrown piles of stone. But about halfway up the mound the trail went into a rough opening underground. Next to the opening was a large fresh pile of guts. Apparently the livestock had balked at going into the ground, and were quickly slaughtered before being carried in.

Grabbing a large fallen branch the party entered the rough hole, coming shortly to a more worked section of tunnel and stair descending further into the ground. Following the blood smears, the party passed from the entrance room, down a corridor to another room. Feeling nervous the party took to spiking untaken doors. The noise was worth the sense of safety, however illusory it was. The next corridor had a pit trap, which was spring but didn’t manage to catch anyone. The party pulled the trap closed and spiked the mechanism, then carefully crossed one person at a time. The room at the end of this corridor was much larger and contained 2 ranks of goblins in front of some goblin chief with the little girl clutched in his olive-skinned claw.

Tim shocked the rest of the party by taking out both ranks of goblins with a few mumbled words! The lone standing goblin released the now sleeping girl and slammed through a side door. Al the Unwise chased after it, running down the dark stairs screaming something that sounded disturbingly like “"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"...

Unfortunately the goblin archers at the bottom of the stairs were unimpressed and started shooting arrows at Al. Turning tail, he ran back up the stairs, taking missile fire the whole way. The rest of the militia troop, in terror that the chief would rally more goblins (or worse) they slammed the door shut, and spiked it, counting Al a loss before the last arrow pierced his heart at the top of the stairs, pounding on the door for his life.

The guilt at having trapped their fellow militiaman in the dark with murderous goblins was eased by the slaughter of the 10 sleeping goblins, the looting of their corpses, and most importantly the recovery of the little girl!

Bull was tasked to take the girl back to the farm while the rest of the party explored a little more. These plans were quickly revised when Bull came running back into the room with a rattle of skeletons behind her. Naric held forth his silver amulet (a ball of yarn for the local feline deity) turning the skeletons. They ran from Naric, and the party followed through a door they’d previously spiked shut, and into a room with a collapsed stair that once went up. Also in the room was a rather large pile of bones. The skeletons were defeated, and the pile of bones smashed and searched. One skeleton tried to rise out of it, but was quickly pounded into dust. Beneath the bones was a small chest.

Indy tried his best, but the lock proved too much for him in the flickering torchlight. Grabbing the chest, and the girl, the party decided they’d explored enough, and headed for the surface… but didn’t escape before a green slime dropped on Alfonso’s head and back. Thankfully the helmet took the brunt of the attack, and a quick application of a torch to his cloak cleaned the slime off of him. Back on the surface, the girl was returned with great thanks, and the chest was opened revealing a gleaming pile of gold, a mithral dagger, and a flask with an unknown fluid...

Given the late hour at their return to the farm, the party crashed in the now empty barn. This proved a fortuitous choice, as the goblins mounted another attack on the farm! Once again, “Tim’s” arcane might dropped an impressive number of the foul humanoids, causing those still standing to flee for their lives! Helped in this was Indy’s sneaking in the woods and backstabbing one goblin to death with a single blow.

The rest of the night passed quietly, but in the morning the militia chief sent the party back into the dungeon after they returned to the village to find out why the goblins were suddenly much more active.

Taking a different path in the dungeon the party found an ogre waiting for them. Quickly he was taken down by “Tim” and his wondrous sleep spell and promptly dispatched. The next room contained another ogre and the dark wizard Daedalus (Tim’s asshole college roommate), who charmed Tim, then ordered the ogre to attack! Tim, not wanting to die, cast sleep on the orge, while the wizard cast sleep on the party, causing everyone to fall unconscious to the floor. Several hours later, the party and the ogre returned to wakefulness and set upon one another again. The ogre was quickly killed, but the party realized that every coin, the mithril dagger, and the cleric’s holy symbol were all gone!

The party rushed from the dungeon, hoping to catch Daedalus’ trail, but even after getting the local woodsman to help, could find no trace of him. Returning to the dungeon they made their way back to the room where they encountered the first ogre, and discovered that there was someone behind the spiked door trying to chop their way through. They set up an ambush and once the goblins started to come through, hacked them down.

Unfortunately the goblins send 2 small groups of archers to flank them on either side, and the party decided to retreat through one of the smaller flanking groups, slaughtering them as they ran past.

Retiring to the village they re-equipped, getting Bull some better armor, and buying a bunch of oil. Corporal Cosima bought a chicken, Cluckles, and they recruited a new NPC to join them, Liam the Fair (Fighter 1) a stunningly handsome and dexterous (18 Charisma, 16 Dex) swashbuckler and story teller.

Returning once again to the dungeon, the party quickly encountered a small band of goblins, putting their oil to good use on the back half of the group. The front 4 goblins dropped their weapons, surrendering to Corporal Cosima (who spoke fluent goblin!) and negotiated away Cluckles the chicken for a meeting with the goblin chief. The goblin chief agreed to the meeting, and the party headed deeper into the dungeon, down past the 2nd level (full of undead apparently) to the 3rd level, where the chief and about 30 of the remaining goblins waited. A tense negotiation resulted in the goblins agreeing not to raid the surface if the party was willing to deal with the furry monsters (ratmen? bugbears?) that drove them out of their mushroom caves. As a show of good faith, the goblin chief gave Corporal Cosima an amulet that should allow the party free passage through the goblin held areas.

Thus ended our session!

And these were my notes and maps from the session:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Balticon 49

Balticon, for those not in the know, is a science fiction & fantasy literature convention held every year over Memorial day weekend in or around Baltimore. For the last... decade? its been held just north of the city in Hunt Valley. In addition to the literature topics (which range from panels to round tables to workshops for both readers, writers, and editors) there's a very full and impressive science programing track, costuming track, new media track (mostly podcasting), art, kids/teens, and a growing gaming presence.

This year started off a little rough with a new registration system that resulted in some significant confusion, long lines, waiting, and justified grumbling. It wasn't fun, but new rollouts never are.

If you've attended any of the Balticons at the Hunt Valley location, the carpet was... something to behold. In the last year they redecorated, and while it's much less seizure inducing, it lacks some of the charm (person) of the old rug. 

Once through Registration however things drastically improved! I arrived in time to attend opening ceremonies, and then heading over to the swing dance in the Garden Room.

After that I scoped out the art room, bit on a few items, and called it a night. 

Saturday started with a panel on Einstein's Dice and Schrodinger's Cat, a combination history and science lesson, then to the dealers room where I picked up Keith DeCandido's translation of the Klingon Art of War directly from the author. That's one of the really great things about going to a con like Balticon! He of course insulted my honor, and ruined my book by writing all over it. 

Then it was onto a discussion of multiple universes, a writing panel about creating suspense and keeping your reader's interest, and then onto Treading Lightly, Writing about problematic topics with another of my favorite Balticon authors Maria V Snyder.  

That's Maria on the far left.

After dinner I then attended a discussion on undead in film and literature, mostly focused on zombies. 

Being a literature convention, Balticon likes to support reading. Makes sense, right? In support of that they hold an auction every year to buy books for kids who don't have any. 

The idea that in 2015 there are kids in the world (let alone here the USA) that don't have any books is just a travesty. The books bought from the auction proceeds go to a local maryland middle school. I bid on a bunch of items, but only won 2. 

Sunday started with one of the panels I never miss, the annual Dinosaur Update with Dr. Thomas Holtz from the University of Maryland. It's so well attended that they had to move it into the main ballroom! 

Then it was back to back Doctor Who panels. The first one on the new Who, and the second on old Who for fans of the new Who.

Then it was 4 hours of Original D&D! More on this tomorrow...

Dinner with Jensen Toperzen followed, then onto Molding Small objects where I got to see up close how many of the marvelous bits and pieces that show up on the amazing costumes can be made. 

The last panel of the night was on Bars, Inns, and Taverns: Fiction and Reality where I learned that at some points in history a cat in a burlap sack being hit with a stick was considered a musical instrument that would be included in the live band playing in the tap room... 

This, of course, sent me to the bar where I spent several hours chatting with Barb Mabie and Jay McClain from the molding panel, Maria Snyder, and Jensen and her friend Lee. I really liked getting to talk to Maria about writing, even though she gave me homework... At least I've got a year to get it done! 

Monday of Balticon is always a little sad. So many people have either already left, or are packing up... 

But my morning started by going to the Messenger mission update, followed by a panel on Allergies on Alien Worlds (general conclusion is that allergies, viruses, and bacteria will probably be a little too alien to majorly impact us, but mold and fungus may be problem!). 

Then I attended a readers panel on sci-fi and fantasy mysteries. Heading the discussion was a baltimore city crime lab scientist & author, and a part time PI, author, and professor. Sadly, Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series didn't get a mention.  

As I was getting ready to head home I ran into Jensen again, and then with Huzma from G+!

Can't wait till next year!! I've already got my registration paid for!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sunday Inspirational Image: Day Late Edition

What's coming up this week:
Tuesday: Balticon Review
Wednesday: OD&D Actual Play Report from Balticon!
Thursday: Minis
Friday: Star Wars
Saturday: Terrain

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Huge Spider 5e

"That's a lot of webs..." Nimble said very quietly.

"With some really thick strands." Allianora said equally as quietly.

"What are the chances it's all from just one spider?" Rathgar asked.

Feris tried to swallow before answering, his throat suddenly parched. "Not good. Not good at all."

"What are the chances that our horse is still alive?" Allianora asked, knowing the answer.

I needed a slightly bigger spider than the Giant Spider from the MM. This is what I came up with for last night's game.

Huge Spider
Huge Beast, neutral evil
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points  (8d12+16) Speed 40 ft. Climb 40 ft.

16 (+3)
18  (+4)
12 (+1)
4 (-3)
4 (-3)

Skills: Stealth +9
Senses Blindsight 10 ft., Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages -
Challenge 4 (1100XP)
Spider Climb: the spider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, with needing to make an ability check.
Web Sense: While in contact with a web, the spider knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.
Web Walker: The spider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.

Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 2d8+5 piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 3d8 poison damage on a failed save, half on a successful one. If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is stable but poisoned for 1 hour, even after regaining hit points, and is paralyzed while poisoned in this way.
Slam:  Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 2d8+5 bludgeoning damage, and the target must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, or be knocked prone.
Web (Recharge 5-6) Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 30/60ft., one creature. Hit: The target is restrained by the webbing. As an actiuon, the restrained target can make a DC 14 Strength check, bursting the webbing on a success. The webbing can also be attacked and destroyed (AC 10; hp 8; vulnerability to fire damage; immunity to bludgeoning, poison, piercing, and psychic damage).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Balticon upcoming!

Memorial Day weekend is approaching, and while most people think cookouts and beach days, for me it's all about Balticon, the local sci-fi & fantasy literature convention. But don't think it's limited to lit. There's plenty of programing devoted to all aspects of fandom, from New Media, to Costuming, Anime, Science, and even Gaming!

As usual, I'll be bringing my graph paper and working on maps, so expect to see those show up over the course of the weekend on G+, and then here on my blog.

If you're local, I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Whispers from the Well 5/9

Your weekly update of the goings on in Stonehell
As reported by the tavernkeepers of the Ogre Face Inn

Delving New Depths!

Jasper the Holy, Grunlik the stunty barbarian, Gideon the Sly, and Xerxes the master of the occult successfully (and profitably) made it deeper into the dungeon than any other in a long time! Upon their return they told of degenerate inmates, voices in the darkness, and broken statues as they explored the second level of the dungeon. They even returned one of those poor souls to the surface with them, and have placed him in the care of Dr. Sigmond Fraud, the local head shrink.

Whispers from the Well

A troupe of silent priests bearing symbols of the death god (some would say 'demon lord' but who's to judge?) recently ventured into Stonehell. No one knows who or what they seek. If it's death, they might have found it since they have not yet returned.

The Mad Man Curtis continues to claim that Stonehell stretches deeper than the 5th level, but clearly he needs to stay out of that rot-gut from the Shudder Mountains!

The Hobgoblins and the Bandits have been seen in talks in the Market. Dangerous tidings indeed...

Rumors that the Orcs have hired adventurers to help them defeat the goblins are unconfirmed, but they've been somewhat less aggressive, looking to talk rather than just charging into a fight.


The Ogre Face Inn is looking to restock its supply of goblin-moss. Can be obtained from either the Market or directly from the Howling Wolves Tribe. Up to 10gp per bundle.

A gold ring with a princess cut ruby may be found in the midden of the market. It's a long story... 500gp reward for it's return.

Maps for sale. Reasonable prices, trades accepted. Inquire with Buckman One-Eye.

Monday, May 18, 2015

2nd Annual #6MMRPC

Once again I'm participating in the 6 Month Mountain Reduction and Painting Challenge in an attempt to reduce the massive amounts of unpainted minis I've got kicking around.

Here are the rules as taken from The Spiderweb of History:

Alright everybody, it's time for the 2nd Annual 6 Month Mountain Reduction and Painting Challenge or 6MMRPC. We've changed up the time frame - it's going to run from June 1, 2015 thru November 30, 2015. This avoids Christmas. There have also been a few rules changes, and some exciting additions IN BOLD.

1. No purchasing of new miniatures, EXCEPT if you use a joker. You get three jokers to use on a figure purchase. Could be a blister pack, an ebay bundle, or a single can't splurge. The only exception to this rule is if you need bitz or A FIGURE (Singular) to complete a unit/warband etc. [Shouldn't be a problem! I have too many minis as it is!!]

1.1 - There is an opportunity to "earn" additional jokers. If you complete an entire project (whole unit/army/warband etc.) with pictures of starting, WIP, and completion, you earn yourself a Joker. [We'll see, but Jokers aren't something I need]

2. Gifts do not count against you. Holidays, birthdays etc. Also, if you're given gift cards by your hobby illiterate family or friends, you can without penalty use them on anything you want miniatures wise. [Unlikely to have any impact]

3. Paints, terrain (or materials), and other hobby supplies do not apply to the no purchasing rule. [Again, shouldn't be an issue]

4. At least one hobby related blog post and/or Instagram update a week. If you instagram, be sure to hashtag your pic with #6MMRPC [I'll try to do better this year!]

5. Zombtober will be part of the 6 month challenge so, Zombie related stuff during October is ENCOURAGED. Other theme suggestions are welcomed. [I've got plenty of Mantic and Reaper undead to get me through the month just fine...]

6. Anyone that wants to submit a before and after picture of a miniature that they are proud of completing during the course of the challenge to will be entered into the running for a gift certificate to a online wargaming store of their choice. Judging will be by an un-biased person. Amount on the gift certificate will be dictated by winners nationality but should work out to about $30 U.S. I (Spiderweb of History) will not be eligible to win. [Worth a shot. Just need to decide what it'll be...]

For those looking for additional info about this madness, please check out -

6 Month Mountain Reduction and Painting Challenge Master List


The 6MMRPC Facebook Group

I haven't yet decided what I want to set as my challenge for this next 6 months. Knowing myself, I need to figure out what it'll be, then chop it in half. Then, maybe I might get it done.

I already know that I'll be using a joker on the Bones III kickstarter. Kind of the anti #6MMRPC, but what are you going to do?