Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bones III: 1 week warning...

Exactly one week from the moment this post goes live, Bones III is due to launch.

Are you excited yet?

Friday, June 26, 2015

#6MMRPC Week 4: Advanced Base-ics

While my work on actual minis was minimal, it was still a fairly productive week. Mostly because I've been working on the base for Ebonwrath. I've never done a swamp base before, so this has been a learning experience. And because I know myself, I've been alternating between a test base and the "real base" as I decide on what I want to do.

For example, I decided on a CD as the base for the dragon, since none of my other bases would fit all 4 feet. No problem there... but what to texture it with? Well knowing I want a swamp base, it's mostly going to be mud/water. I decided to try using plaster...

This was my test base...

CD with tape around the edge, and cork and sticks glued in place.

With some paint...

I didn't have any water effects, so I tried using gloss coat. It looked ok, but the second coat crackled. So I went to Michaels and picked up some Scene-A-Rama realistic water. I haven't used it yet... We'll see how it turns out. But this is why I have a test base to try it on!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Walk in the Swamp: 5e WNW

Session 14 of the weird new world campaign was played on Friday 5/29

The party consisted of the following:
Veidt, 1/2 Elf Wizard 4 [John - Absent, but kindly substituted by Erindale)
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 4 (Erindale)
Kethra, Human Fighter 4 (Nikki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 4 (Erik - Absent, but kindly substituted by Hanna)
Riia, Human Ranger 4 (Hanna)
Guy Noir, ½ Elf Rogue 4 (Nadia)
Anya Bowen, Tiefling Ranger 4 (Allison)

From left to right: Riia, Bach, Kethra, and Nessendra

Leaving Anura behind, the party headed south into the swamp in the general direction of the isle of the dead. In spite of having 2 rangers in the party they made good time, all the while Riia pointing out that she's "not this kind of ranger" but rather a "city ranger" as she stabs every tree, vine, and shrub along the path.

Hours later Kethra grabs Riia from behind, pinning her arms. This catches about half the party by surprise. The other half of the party had spotted the dryad peeking out from behind the tree. Guy once again offers to engage with the dryads, but Nessendra takes on that chaste duty. She tells the dryad that they're on their way to the isle of the dead to retrieve something for Anura. The dryad and her sisters are suitably impressed that the party would do this, and offer them something to assist in their task. They scurry off, and return with a golden mace that seems none the worse for wear given that it's been in the swamp for goodness knows how long.

No one bothers to ask why a grove of dryads has a mace of disruption.

They also offer to assist with the one human who seems mentally deranged, but that offer is turned down while Riia tries to scream insults through Kethra's hand.

Guy, as ever, offers to lay with the dryads, and they're very excited about him being fertilizer, but Nessendra categorically nixes that idea, and shoos the party along.

While the rest of the day's hike is hot, muggy, muddy, and full of bugs, it is otherwise uneventful. The night was not so peaceful. While Guy and Anya were on watch, a pack of swamp drakes (the same sort of creatures Bach faced in the arena) were spotted just as it crept up to the edge of camp. With a lot of yelling, battle was joined!

The fight was quick and bloody as the drakes teamed up against their opponents, but the party responded in kind, and when the last of the drakes turned to run it was cut down mercilessly.

Moving their camp away from the slain drakes, the party resumed their rest, leaving Guy and Anya, then Kethra and Nessendra to listen to the things in the dark consume the corpses.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Inspirational Image: Dr. Indiana Jones

Yesterday I visited the National Geographic Museum, and their exhibit on Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, covering all of the movies (yes, even the crystal skull) and the real life events and locations from the movies. I took a few pictures to share with you.

The level of detail on all the props was just fantastic! If you're in the area, it's definitely worth stopping by.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

#6MMRPC Week 3

I've pretty much finished up the NOVA Corp Sgt. He doesn't exactly match the troopers I painted about 2 years ago, but he's close enough for government (or in this case mercenary) work.

I really do need to take better pics though...

Ebonwrath nears completion. I still need to do something with the claws, teeth, and spines. I'm considering just keeping it simple with all 3 and doing the bone triad on them. Plus, it really needs a base.

I am pleased with how the wings are looking.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: Steel Victory

tldr: 4.5 stars - fascinating mixed genre world, very RPG-able, and spurs some DMing advice at the end.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reviewer e-copy of this book from the author, who is both a friend and one of the players in my Friday night D&D game.

One hundred years ago, the vampire Victory retired from a centuries-long mercenary career. She settled in Limani, the independent city-state acting as a neutral zone between the British and Roman colonies on the New Continent.

Twenty years ago, Victory adopted a human baby girl, who soon showed signs of magical ability.

Today, Victory is a city councilwoman, balancing the human and supernatural populations within Limani. Her daughter Toria is a warrior-mage, balancing life as an apprentice mercenary with college chemistry courses.

Tomorrow, the Roman Empire invades.

It's very difficult to pigeonhole this book into a single genre. It's a post apocalyptic story, set in a city at the edge of the american wasteland after some nuclear war (WWIII?).

It's an alternate history, not just because of this war, but also because the Roman Empire never fell, and in the old world its primary opponent seems to be the British Empire, and the city that's the focus of the story is like an independent Greek city-state that serves as a neutral buffer zone between their respective new world colonies.

It's paranormal-fantasy because... well, elves, were-creatures, wizards, and vampires. Thankfully no one sparkles and the relationships mostly tend away from high school level drama, and more toward mature adult.

There's a lot going on in the too short 215 pages including an invasion by one of the empires that happens to coincide with a flareup of humanist activity within the city and the problems that causes. It's a rather on-point topic at the moment, but handled pretty well by the author.

The difficulty in assigning Steel Victory to a specific genre is never once an issue while reading it. You'll find yourself far too engaged in wanting to know what happens next to bother worrying about it!

My only issue with Steel Victory is that the author lets you look behind the DM's screen a couple of times, wanting you to know that there is a reason for this, that, or the other thing. It's something I recognize, since I've done it myself at the table. Feeling the need to prove that I know what I'm doing and not just making it up as I go along (even worse when that's exactly what I'm doing). Learning to have confidence in your ability to manage your table, to trust your players/readers to have faith in you takes some work.

But remember, you already have buy in. They sat at your table, they bought your book. They want to have a good time, and they're willing to go along for the ride, even if they can't see the background work that goes into it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Happy Captain Picard Day!

Let's all raise a glass to the best damn captain in Starfleet!


Iron Player Event

It was a long event, but not because my players were successful... Look at them, so full of hope!

Sadly, my players who were assigned to my table suffered an ignoble death at the hands of goblins in the first room... sure it took 100 goblins, in 20 strong waves, and in the end only 10 of the beasts survived, but the PCs died just the same.

So much death... 

Not Iron Players... taken immediately after sounding the Cymbal of Death!

To be fair, all the PC's died, as the event was designed to do. Of the 20 rooms of the dungeon, no PC made it past room 7. In spite of this, everyone seemed to have a good time! Even my players! Of course after their deaths, we did continue to play, and they explored the dungeon through to the entrance of the 7th room. I managed to kill the paladin (kneeling above) two more times over the rest of the afternoon.

Really though, it was the dungeon and his own stupidity that killed him, killed them all!!

The second table (of 5) killed, with their DM

 And the winners!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jurassic World

Jurassic World brought what the title promised - Bigger, badder, more teeth! And at the park! It was a blast seeing the monsters on screen, trashing the park, chasing and eating the stupid people. I do call them monsters, because just like Dr. Henry Wu said, there are no pure dinosaurs in Jurassic Park/World, they're all hybrids, mongrels, and would look very different than they otherwise do.

This is the one line that makes it okay that none of the creatures (especially the raptors) had feathers.

I really felt like most of the human characters were... just too flat. None of their motivations, except for the kids, felt like they had any real weight. The supposed sexual tension between Chris Pratt's Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard's Clair... I just didn't feel it. It was as real as the tension between the two control room techs (which prompted one of the best human interactions in the movie!).

As far as the action goes, it was top notch! Humans vs Dinos, Dinos vs Dinos, Humans & Dinos vs Dinos all fantastic! There were points I was actually cheering the onscreen action, and the final fight at the end by itself was worth the price of admission. Some of the human deaths were really gruesome, and for one character it was a little drawn out as she was passed between a variety of monsters before her final death.

I also really appreciated the references back to the original park, especially since it's the same island!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Iron Player

Today is the Iron Player event at my FLGS, Titan Games. 6 months after I won the Iron DM event, I and several other DMs will once again take our rightful places behind our screens, but this time our goal is to weed out the players who are made of softer stuff, and arrive at the one player who’s heart and dice are worthy of the title Iron Player!

What makes an iron player? It isn't necessarily the one who optimizes his character to Batman levels of extreme, or the one who gets to the end of the adventure/hallway/treasure first, or even the one who memorizes the rules books. An Iron Player is one who thinks, who listens, who takes advantage of situations when they present themselves, and one who's a little lucky. While there can be only one Iron Player, the ability to work with their fellow players will be a necessary component if they have any hope of surviving. This will be an event pitting player knowledge and skill against their DM's machinations, not the other player!

Will the contestants listen to their DMs? Will they work together? Will they face the challenges put before them with skill. Can they overcome the fickle mood of lady luck? Can they survive the brutal and fatal dungeon they will all explore until reaching the tarasque at the very end of it all?

Who will emerge as the Iron Player? We'll find out in a few hours!

Friday, June 12, 2015

#6MMRPC Week 2

Not a whole lot of progress this week. And very little of it gets picked up by the camera. I washed Ebonwrath down with purple ink over the black.

Kind of looks like a grape popsicle right now...

And this is a bones NOVA Corp Sgt. that I started for CaffineForge's Monday Miniature.

And standing next to one of the NOVA Corp troopers I painted way back when Bones I was first delivered.

I've also been working on casting up bricks for my dungeon display... which will go in my newly assembled DETOLF!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lost and Found 5e WNW

Session 13 of the weird new world campaign was played on Friday 5/14

The party consisted of the following:
Veidt, 1/2 Elf Wizard 4 [John (Absent, but kindly substituted by Erindale)]
Nessendra, Wood Elf Cleric 4 (Erindale)
Kethra, Human Fighter 4 (Nikki)
Bach, Dragonborn Warlock 4 (Erik)
Riia, Human Ranger 4 (Hanna)
Guy Noir, ½ Elf Rogue 4 (Nadia)
Anya Bowen, Tiefling Ranger 4 (Allison)

The party stretches after their battle and checks the sun. It's getting to be sunset soon. Not wanting to camp in the middle of rotting, smelly troglodytes, however, they continue north on the boardwalk as far as they can before making camp for the night. They go about their shifts per usual. All is well except for a faint troglo scent in the breeze now and then. Anya and Guy are strolling around trying to stay awake on third shift. Anya takes a step, the boardwalk runes beneath her light a fierce white, spreading out 20 ft in all directions, and *CRACK*! Lightning strikes at Anya's feet, sending her flying 100 ft off the boardwalk! She crashes through the trees and brush of the marsh and lands with a squishing splat in the muck. Everyone is awakened and come scrambling out of their tents. Guy is yelling out, asking if Anya is ok. .......

Anya is half stunned. Lying in the muck, she mentally checks if anything's broken. Miraculously, she appears to be alright. She gets herself up and sees the others far off; Veidt having magiced the fire ablaze again. She feels heavy, sore, and worn out, but she calls out that she's alright... then screams like bloody murder! It wasn't her fall that had made her feel so heavy; it was an enormous, slimy leech! Precisely after she'd called out to her companions, it had bored it's circular toothy mouth through her armor and into the flesh of her back!

Over on the boardwalk, her companions hear the screaming hasn't stopped. They have to save her! Guy, overwhelmed with enthusiasm, leaps off the boardwalk without a thought. ...and lands face first in the mud. Bach follows, landing steadily on his feet. Looking out, he realizes that he can't see anything. His darkvision is gone! He hadn't noticed that his darkvision glasses had gotten broken in the last fight. More surprisingly, none of them had even realized he'd been wearing them! *Sigh* No more darkvision for Bach. But back to the blood curdling screams!

Guy has gotten up and begins dashing towards the sound. Kethra, wisely using her rope, comes down and starts off that way too. Meanwhile, Anya is trying her best to stab at the leech sucking her dry. She manages to stick it once, but then her screams die off. The leech has taken too much blood, and she flops forward in the mud; incapacitated. Without her screams to follow, there's no way to find her, so Veidt thinks quick and sends out his floating lights. Guy get there first and stabs at the leech, then Kethra gets there and swats at it with her bone club; careful not to hit Anya. Veidt sees that it’s still not dead, so he shoots out his magic missiles, knowing they’re self aiming. *BAM*! The leech sizzles, rolls off Anya, and curls up as it finally dies! Nessendra throws out a healing spell and revives Anya well enough for her to walk back on her own.

As they make it back to the boardwalk, they see Riia looking at them with disdain. She had come all the way down off the boardwalk and gotten in the mud and muck, and everyone was just fine! She then turned, grabbed her rope, and clambered back up to camp to clean up. Anya looked up hesitantly. She definitely didn’t want to go through that whole ordeal again. Some of the others remembered seeing the runes lighting up around her, and they all deduced that some of these runes must be meant to keep demons off the walk, only many of them must not be working anymore. Just to be safe, Anya decides to walk under the boardwalk for the remainder of their journey. Bach and Kethra remain with her, while the others move along on top.

They head north for a while before the walk takes a hard turn to the east. East? They needed to be going Northwest. They had been traveling quite a ways already though, with no sign of their quarry… Guy slaps a hand to his forehead. He’d just remembered that he can make a familiar! He tells the others. Yes, he could call on a familiar in the shape of a bird, have it fly up over the tree tops, look through it’s eyes, and see everything around them! Maybe he could spot where they have to go from here. So they wait an hour for him to do his arcane trickster magic and, low and behold, a distinguished black crow appears in front of him.

Guy talks to it and lets it know what he want it to do. The familiar introduces himself as Le Mot, and doesn't seem too keen on having Guy look through his eyes while he's flying around. Since the others can't understand what the familiar is saying, Guy lets them know what's up. "This familiar is not too friendly... and he says to call him Lemo or something.”. The others eye the bird. Riia has a good suggestion: to give it something shiny. Crows like shiny things. Guy turns back to Le Mot and asks if he likes shiny things. Eyeing Guy’s hands in expectation, Le Mot answers, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Especially bracelets…”. Guy grins, “What a coincidence. I like shiny things too! We have so much in common.. Up you get!” Guy throws his hand up and tosses the bird flailing into the sky. Le Mot rights himself, glares back at Guy, and flies up 100 feet extremely disgruntled. Riia can only shake her head in a mixture of disgust and bafflement.

Guy describes to the others what he sees through Le Mot’s eyes. The boardwalk continues to the east before disappearing behind the trees. But there's a mountain crater w/ bird cages made of bone big enough to hold humans over to the west, and south of that, a village of huts that the breeze from there smells like traglotites. Anya suggests that the cages sound like a good place for imprisonments. Maybe Anura is being held there? After a thank you gold piece, and a few scratches to just the right spot on his head, Le Mot is in a much better mood. “There. He’s happy. Although, now he just keeps singing that he is Lemo over and over again.” “I I I I I I~ I am Le Mot~”. “Yes, yes.. you are Lemo… Now, who’s a pretty birdie~”. As Guy goes on baby-talking, the others try their best to block him out.

“So!” Kethra yells to cut through. “Are we going to head off to that mountain crater or what?” Without hesitation, Guy leaps off the board walk again, this time landing beautifully; Le Mot fluttering to his shoulder afterwards. Nessandra, Veidt, and Riia come down on ropes and meet up with everyone. As they walk towards the mountain crater, Bach feels something watching him. He looks around and sees a scantily clad dryad peeking out behind a tree. Kethra sees it too and yells to the others. Needless to say, Riia goes nuts! They hold her back while she wisps and buzzes accusations and threats in its native tongue. "I know the language of my enemy!". Kethra decides that just picking her up would be easiest, though Riia's arms and legs continue flailing, wanting only to kill!

The dryad speaks in Elvish so more of them can understand her. She of course asks what's wrong with the flailing one, which the others reply, "Oh, don't mind her...". She says she'd gladly turn her to mulch if they wanted, but no, no, no, that wasn't necessary. They change the subject and ask about the mountain crater, which turns out to be where the troglodytes imprison other creatures. So they ask if she has seen a statue man by the name of Anura around there. No, there's only a very large statue of a very large creature back to the south. They make sure to ask if that is the only statue around, which it is... So they ask for directions, after getting which, they turn to go back to the boardwalk to retrace their way. Riia is still struggling to get free to bring rightful death to the savage plant creature, but they all keep her held and carry her away.

Well, everyone except Guy... He's too busy oogling the dryad and suggesting a hook up to notice anything else, of course. The others wonder if they should tell him that dryads kill and use their mates as mulch after copulation. Sighing, they grab his shirt collar and drag him off too.

They make their way back to the boardwalk. Bach seemed a bit disconnected though. He was constantly looking down at his hands and playing with some imaginary device he called a “Sellfown”. The others eye him strangely, but otherwise ignore it. They moved south, went westward at the split, then west again at the next. At the third split, Le Mot flew up and looked for anything interesting in each direction. There are ruins to their north, so the ones on top of the walk get down and join the others to venture that way.

They get to the ruins close to dusk, but it's still light enough to see a large monster statue near the center. It's eyes are glowing a LED blue. Since it's nearly dark, they decide to go back to the boardwalk for camp. Guy tries to dash up to get a closer look at the statue, but Anya throws a lasso to stop him. Even though her aim is horrible and would have missed completely, Guy sees it and dives right into it! Feigning distress, he calls out, "Oh no~ I'm captured~ What ever will u /do/ to me~?". The others manage to hold down their bile and leave. Kethra drags Guy back with them by the rope, him thinking it's foreplay until she leaves him dangling off the walk during their evening meal. Pffting, he climbs up to join them.

The next morning, they trek the mile it takes to get back to the statue. Up close, they see a large stylized statue of a monstrous creature sitting erect. It has 8 limbs: 2 large rear legs and 6 arms. A stubby tail wraps around to the left side. It's torso is squat, and it's head is hemispherical with a broad lipless mouth, no nose, 4 bulging eyes, and a crest running down it's back. It's eyes are still glowing as they feel some presence going into their minds. They then hear it speak to them in their heads; a multitude of languages echoing. They have found Anura.

Anya moves back a he sifts through their minds, repelled by his nature. He is a celestial, locked in stone by Chaos. He knows they have been sent my the Alabaster Lady; his mate. They ask how they can possibly free him from his stoic state. An image forms in their minds of a floating island seemingly made entirely of bodies; the isle of the dead. In this island, there is a dungeon, in which there is a room dark as pitch. It is in this place they can find what can free him.

They discuss how they can get there, and Bach mentions that Blightfang, his bff, could fly them up there. Anura furies, and a memory of him fighting Blightfang floods their minds! Blightfang is older than when they saw her last. She and Anura fight intensely, flying through the air, but Anura is eventually beaten down and defeated. A feeling of hatred flows out of him, and everyone says very quickly how wrong they were about Blightfang and how terrible she is! But they wondered where she was nowadays anyhow. She now resides on the Shudder Mountains off to the Northeast, beyond the Black Mire.

My my. Things are getting complicated for our adventurers! How can they save Anura when they don't even know where this isle of the dead is? Can they somehow recruit Blightfang to their cause? Bach and her /are/ totally bff's after all~
We'll see what they do next time on WNW!