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Preview: Tower of the Archmage

Tower of the Archmage





Updated: 2017-11-19T10:41:09.898-05:00

 



Sunday Inspirational Image: Altair

2017-11-19T06:00:04.144-05:00

The sounds of the vendors hawking their wares was subdued in the mid-morning, as the day settled into it's slower rhythm.  The alleyways thinned of men as they took time in the cafes and smoke shops to discuss the latest happenings either in the palaces, the temples, or the streets. Lately, there's been more from the temples and palaces than usual.


The smell of sweet strong coffee mingled with nutmeg and cumin in the slow moving air, and tinging it all, harder to nail down, the smell of trouble stirring.

Image by Klaus Wittman



Painting at work: Week 2

2017-11-18T11:02:26.376-05:00


Okay, 2 weeks in, and I think things are going well. I've managed to apply paint 8/10 of the past work day lunchtimes.

Progress:
Lady mage is coming along. Trying to do some decent shading using Burgundy Wine and then I'll be highlighting the dress blending up with some Linen White. I'm not convinced by the lavender bit in the middle. I'm generally happy with how her face is coming along. She does need a bit more work there, and her hair just looks too muddy. I wish the detail with the hairnet she's wearing was a little sharper. Thinking about adding pearls to it. So far it's progressing pretty well. In looking back over it, most of the stuff with detail work is on what I painted yellow. I should have done that in blue so that the gold would stand out better. Ah well.
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He's coming along nicely. Now that I've base coated the armor, he's looking much better. Face is still a little soft. The shield arm is really in the way.

I'll probably not be able to finish them off this week unless I bring them home to work on. Which I might, simply because of the detail work to do on them, and then start in with the lizardmen after Thanksgiving.



Thoughts
Need to bring in a pin to unclog bottles. Paperclips don't do it.
Leather brown doesn't cover all that well by itself
Don't bring different minis in the future. You've only got minutes to paint, it divides your focus.
Not having my magnifier is a pain. I keep expecting it to be there



Who You Gonna Call? Part 3

2017-11-17T06:00:08.321-05:00

One of the less than fun things about painting these guys is the fact that their cream-ish colored jumpsuits are right next to black equipment. Which means touch ups and highlighting on black are stressful!

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So one of the interim steps I took while working on them was to give the mini a coat of sealer, and to keep an extra clean brush at hand, so that if (when) I slip, I can use the clean wet brush to just wash off the black before it has a chance to set. It's a trick I learned over on the Reaper forum hangouts, and in situations like this, it's a life saver!

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Once I took care of that, it was back to working on the equipment. I added just a touch of Dragon Blue to the black I've been using, and wet brushed it onto the edges of the equipment. Because the surfaces are so angular and without much texture, dry brushing (my usual go to) wasn't going to work.

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After getting the black and highlights done, it was just down to detail work. Bits of green and red were added to the backpack and the device on their hips. Hose fittings and belt buckles were painted Shadowed Steel.

With that done, it just leaves the base... So close to done... And I'm not sure I actually have sand fine enough to mimic asphalt...



Fable

2017-11-16T06:00:27.653-05:00

I don't spend a lot of time playing video games anymore. I used to! Back in college I spent a TON of time playing Civilizations (2+3) and then Galactic Civilizations while working on my Masters. Before that it was Super Mario Brothers on my NES, Super Mario 3 on SNES... Aside from that, it's mostly been flirtations. I tried WoW, played through Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, and very once in a while I'll play some Halo or Star Wars Battle Front and shoot up some aliens or Imperials... but mostly, I spend my time not playing or even thinking about video games.

But sometimes I have the urge to play something that I don't have to think too much about that's a little more than just shooting alien scum. My options are somewhat limited though. I've already played KotOR, and Jade Empire. My other option is Fable. I've briefly played it several times and never got very far into it. Then every time I put it down, I forget everything, and have to start over. It wouldn't be so bad, but the tutorial/intro to the game takes a couple of hours by itself.

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Well, I've started up yet another instance of the game. We'll see how far I get this time. As long as I can keep at it, and I use the online walkthroughs so that I don't miss anything important, I should be able to actually finish my play through. For once...

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So far I've gotten through the intro, completed several missions, bought a couple of houses, and got married. Only failed at one quest so far, mostly because escort missions suck.



Death in Stonehell

2017-11-14T22:03:34.463-05:00

Going back to write up some session reports, it occurred to me that I wasn't sure how many characters had died in the dungeon. I really only had the vaguest idea actually... thankfully I've kept track. Almost every session report lists out who died. Some sessions in the teens just listed numbers, rather than names, but I went through each report, and made a list of who they were (or at least how many), what they were, and when and how they died.

frameborder="0" height="371" scrolling="no" seamless="" src="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vSX_KhhJhnZwKtksH2nP5Yby6CKiTm6uo9Xem56xCbyJhZNQSQzJAzDlveBgS4UYF9DT5qnRQoqBRIm/pubchart?oid=1263551249&format=interactive" width="600">

From the 1st to the 53nd session there have been a total of 78 character deaths. Most of these have been 0 level hirelings, mostly Men at Arms. There have been a few torch bearers, a couple of demi-humans, but mostly it's been human warriors.

frameborder="0" height="371" scrolling="no" seamless="" src="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vSX_KhhJhnZwKtksH2nP5Yby6CKiTm6uo9Xem56xCbyJhZNQSQzJAzDlveBgS4UYF9DT5qnRQoqBRIm/pubchart?oid=1904631454&format=interactive" width="600">
There have been a total of 10 leveled character deaths.

It's interesting how some times multiple session go by without any deaths, and then a bunch of people die...  don't think there's any real trend in the timing of the deaths, but there's clearly one in the class of people that die!



Stonehell: Demonic Hob-Scorpion Assault!

2017-11-14T06:00:25.491-05:00

Session 47 was played on 9/19

Eiric, wizard 6 (Kat)
- men at arms (Lindal the Elf, Gar, E)
- Naideen(dog)
A-A-Ron, Thief 5 (Henchman)
Orpheus, Human Fighter 5 (Henchman)
Karl, Dwarf 4 (Julia)
- Hobart (dog)
- men at arms (Kanye, Stable Boy, MonGo, Barr)
Daryll (NPC Cleric 6)
Brie, wizard 1 (Apprentice to Eiric) - Stayed in town researching

Skittering around the corners, the massive red demonic hobgob-orpion bellowed, and several of the hirelings screamed and ran. Those who stood their grounds launched crossbow bolts at the monstrosity, but none could penetrate its demonic armored skin. A-A-Ron let loose a screaming arrow that cut through his chest and out the other side. Eiric finished her incantation, and the boom of thunder and flash of light of a lightning bolt sent the demon staggering. The smell of burning flesh, sulfur, and ozone filled the hall.

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Manscorpion by DoodleMoogle

As the demon shook off the blast, and pushed off against the wall, charging for the party, Eiric quickly launched another lightning bolt! When everyone’s eyes could finally see again, the demon lay unmoving uncomfortably close to the barricade.

After a brief pause, while everyone waits to see what’ll happen next, Karl and Orpheus leap over the barricade and charge around the corner. MonGo and Stable Boy follow. Unfortunately the waiting hobgoblins with crossbows pepper the two of them with bolts. Piling in, with Lindal, Gar, E, and A-A- Ron shooting from cover, the first line of hobgoblins are cut down, but reinforcements, complete with a spell caster who provides magical darkness to counter Eiric’s magical light. Lindal and Gar both drop from crossbow bolts, while Orpheus splits the hobgoblin lieutenant from shoulder to belly button. MonGo and Stable Boy also drop. The hobgoblin shaman flees the fight.

Orpheus, blind in the magical darkness stumbles into the wrong hallway, and finds himself by the elevator, where a couple of hobgoblins look on in horror. He kills them, and the ones mucking about with the elevator machinery. He flips the switch, sending the elevator down.

Karl follows the priest through the darkness and into the very edge of the hobgoblin’s territory. Finding himself without backup, he returns to the rest of the party.

Speaking of, while Karl and Orpheus were off on their own, the party stripped the hobgoblins of their goods, and took the tail of the scorpion. The heads of the hobgoblins are chopped off and dropped back around the entrance of the hobgoblin lair. Checking the rooms the kobolds had occupied, they find where the priest had been staying, and destroy the shrine within. Gathering up their goods and their dead, they head back to their holdout.

Kills: 1 Demonic Manscorpion, 12 hobgoblins, 1 hobgoblin Lt.
Gains: demonic scorpion tail, 48gp, 1000sp, gold broach (18gp)
Losses: Gar, MonGo, Stable Boy



Lizardmen: Prep Work

2017-11-12T18:08:14.672-05:00

Way back when, I painted up the Reaper Bones lizardmen that came with Bones 1. I'm not actually sure when that was, since I don't seem to have blogged about it. Or if I did, I didn't tag it properly. Anyway, here they are. I remember they were relatively quick paints, and it was nice to knock them out. Then Bones 3 happened, and I got 16 more. 4 archers, 4 spear armed, and 8 with clubs and shields (2 poses). I also just noticed that they all have quivers with javelins... I don't think those are options in Ghost Archipelago... Ah well... There's also the lizardman from Bones 2 core set who is a little smaller than the others, and has a more saurian less lizard looking head. I'm not 100% sure on him, but strongly considering making him a shaman or something. The Medusa is probably going to be painted up for the November Hangout Figure of the Month...These guys are Phase 2 of my Paint During Lunch At Work experiment. I started with a couple of fairly complex figures, and now I'm moving on to try batch painting. I'm bringing in a few new colors that are lizardman specific.After giving them all a good wash and scrub with dish soap and a toothbrush, I checked them all over for mold lines, and debated basing them. In the end I did decide to base them all, since it gives me something to hold onto when painting them. Plus it makes them more stable on the table, and gives me a little room to play with grass and stuff. Now, a bit about mold lines for those tackling them. First up, the archers. There's a big mold line right where the foot and bow meet. Also a minor mold line on the underside of the upraised arm. The spear armed lizardmen were rather mold line free. A bit under the chin, and on the base between the feet. Actually a bit under the chin and between the feet was fairly common on all of them. The forward facing club lizardmen had a bit under the chin, between their feet, and a bit under the tail. Also the loin cloths are somewhat delicate since they're not molded against the leg for some reason like it was on the one from Bones 1. I'm guessing that wasn't intentional. The rear facing club lizardmen had the bit under the chin, between their feet, under the tail, and across the upper arm carrying the shield. [...]






Who You Gonna Call? Part 2

2017-11-10T06:00:34.976-05:00

Work on my Paranormal Exterminators has continued, slowly. I need to pick up some masking tape to cover the slots in the bases. Either that, or cut off the tabs and glue them to other bases. What I opted to do in this case was fill it in with green stuff. Since I'm just planning on making it look like they're standing on asphalt, I mostly just need the hole filled.

You can see the 2 different methods I tried for these guys. One was to fill in the slot with green stuff from below, and smooth it out on top. The other was to make a very thin sheet and just lay it over the slot.

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Back to the figures themselves, after giving the skin a flesh wash I went back and did some highlights. I really struggled with painting their eyes. Not the doing it, but whether I *should* do it. In the end, I decided that yes, it was worth doing. I can only get better by practicing the hard stuff. The characters I'm calling Zedd, Ray, and Pete I painted with green eyes, while Egon's glasses were painted with linen white and Frost Blue. I even went a little crazy and tried to really give the iris a highlight, and add the white dot of light reflection. This was less than successful.

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Thankfully these guys aren't a contest entry.

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I also did a little bit of detail work on the equipment. Kind of difficult to make equipment that's mostly black look interesting. Especially against the jump suits. Honestly painting so much black and other dark colors around the light jump suits was probably the hardest part of the mini. Not helpful were my dying brushes. I really need to replace and upgrade some of my tools... I also need to make my shadows deeper, and my highlights brighter.



Painting At Work

2017-11-08T07:00:01.883-05:00

I decided to bring a travel paint kit to work so that I can paint during lunch.

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I picked an assortment of (mostly Reaper) colors mostly based on what I had doubles of... these paints will likely rotate based on what I'm painting or what I feel like I need more of, but currently I have:

  • Sapphire Blue
  • Burgundy Wine
  • Heraldic Red
  • Marigold Yellow
  • Pumpkin Orange
  • Golden Glow
  • Tanned Leather
  • Fair Skin
  • Grass Green
  • Vampiric Highlight
  • Warpaints White
  • Cloudy Grey
  • Walnut Brown
  • Ebony Flesh
  • New Gold
  • Dragon Copper
  • Warpaints Armor
  • Honed Steel
  • Flow Improver
  • Brown Liner
I also have 2 brushes, a GW Starter Brush (size 1 or 2 I think?) and a no name size 000.

I figure if I can get even 10-15 minutes 5 days a week, I should be able to knock out tabletop level paint jobs on a mini a week. We'll see how it goes this week.

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The minis are Devona 77036 and Almaran the Gold, Paladin 77058

And after the first sitdown, these are my first thoughts:
  • Bring a bigger brush for base coating or base coat at home.
  • Base the minis first so there's something to hold onto!
  • Need to find somewhere to stash them while they dry.
After I finish these 2, I think I'm going to work on the Bones Lizardmen as stand ins for the Snake-men from Ghost Archipelago. We'll see...



Thor: Ragnarok

2017-11-07T13:55:29.934-05:00

Over the weekend I made it out to the theater for a 9:45 am showing of the newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! This review will contain spoilers! allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/v7MGUNV8MxU/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/v7MGUNV8MxU?feature=player_embedded" width="320">I saw it at the Alamo Draft House, and they did this cool thing before the previews where the showed clips from the previous movies that included Thor, and giving basic plot summaries. It was useful, because I'd almost completely forgotten what happened in Thor 2: The Dark World. Seriously, of all the MCU movies, I think it's the only one I haven't seen multiple times. Thankfully, even without all that, Ragnarok stands on it's own. It's also something of a reboot for Thor, who never really seemed to quite fit in with the rest of the Avengers. He was always just sort of there, and part of that is the fact that even among Iron Man and Captain America, Thor is... well, a god from a magical realm... Kind of at odds with everything else, up till Doctor Strange anyway. There's just something a little goofy about Thor, his hammer, the rainbow bridge, etc that doesn't fit in with the aesthetic of The Winter Soldier or Ant-Man. In a lot of ways Hulk has the same problem. On the other hand, that bright Jack Kirby craziness fits right in with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ragnarok took not only it's color pallet from that series, but also the goofiness of it all. And it works! It fully embraces the weirdness, and crafts an amazing story out of it. To offset the goofy is the darker side of the story. Thor and Loki's older sister Hela, as portrayed by Cate Blanchett, was pitch perfect! Her costume, taking it's cues from Loki is form fitting and no nonsense, except for that horned helmet, and looks fantastic as Hela tosses swords in her attempt to take her rightful place (oldest child) on the throne of Asgard. I can't get over how much ass she kicked, and all without one instance where it felt like she was a female villain. Hela was clearly the bad guy first, and a woman second. Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, was also spectacular at kicking ass and taking names. I really enjoyed her no-nonsense way of handling Thor, Loki, and the Hulk! I hope that she gets a fair amount of screen time going forward. I'll be disappointed if she doesn't show up in Infinity War. As much as I enjoyed Jeff Goldblum's GrandMaster, Topaz's reactions to Goldblum's acting stole each and every scene they were together in. And the bit with Doctor Strange, where he was having none of that Asgardian bullshit? Brilliantly done. Can't even imagine his reaction if/when the ship arrives on Earth to set up a new city... Of course with Thanos in the picture, that'll probably be near the bottom of his priority list. In short, if you liked Guardians of the Galaxy, and thought Thor 2 was forgettable, you'll probably like Ragnarok! [...]






Prince Chamring, Reanimator, Revisited

2017-11-04T06:00:06.499-04:00

I ran FT0 Prince Chamring, Reanimator by Daniel Bishop twice in 2014, and hadn't given it too much thought since, as I got distracted by running D&D 5e both at home and at my FLGS. Wednesday, I found myself unexpectedly running it again. Originally I'd planned on running a special Tales from the Floating vagabond Halloween adventure based somewhat loosely on Jason X (In Spaaaaace!!!!!) and had brought the book and my notebook to work to finish prep at lunch. I then forgot to bring it home with me. Go me... Since my options are a little limited based on what I've got on my shelf, I decided to run DCC instead. And as I was going for something Halloween appropriate, twisted fairy tales seemed a good way to go. So I grabbed it, some pregen zero level characters, and the quickstart rules, and headed off to game. Without telling them what was up, I dropped the character sheets onto the table, and jumped right in. The bailiff had barely finished telling the characters what they'd been "volunteered" to do when the jester of the party started in. The bailiff motioned to the men at arms, and 2 crossbow bolts silenced the joker. "Anyone have anything else to say? No? Good. Get going."Not even 2 minutes in, and the first character was down! The party (all 27 of them, plus a cow and a lamb) took the wide passage to the castle. They came upon the large section of shattered wall, choked with bones and rose vines, and discovered the small crack in the adjacent tower, and also the trap door leading underground! Two dwarves jumped down the hole, ignoring the ladder. The second one fumbled his check, and landed on the first, killing him. And then they split the party! Half explored below ground, discovering the ancient tomb. The other half visited Dr. Chapman's laboratory. As usual, I had a lot of fun playing Dr. Chapman, and at the end, when one character asked if there was anything Chapman needed, he gave that character a piece of blank paper that will become a scroll of Patron Bond (though he doesn't know it yet). Chapman gave his warnings, and his gifts, and sent the party on its way. One character tried to take the bottle with the imp. He ended up a mass of charred flesh. After that no one else tried to take anything. In the tomb, the party encountered the hobyas, but only lost a single character in the encounter. They collected loot, and made their way to the chapel. A few offerings were made... And I just realized that I got distracted and forgot to to give out the blessings... ah well, next adventure. The two halves of the party, met back up. The owner of the cow tried to bring it through the gap in the wall, which did not go well, either for the character or the cow. The party decided to head into the main section of the castle toward the tallest remaining tower. There they encountered the fairy princesses. One PC decided to head up the stairs while the rest of the group searched through the feast hall, rousing the dragon. The PC ran back down the steps, while the dragon leapt from the balcony down into the middle of the feast hall. The fight was tough going, and several PCs dropped each round. Some ran. Sadly, bad initiative rolls meant that most of the PCs all got to go before the dragon pretty much every round.AC 19 is nothing to sneeze at, and for 0 level characters with crappy ability scores? Even harder. WHen one PC managed an 18, I let them know about burning luck. That was the final blow needed to kill the beast! Deeper in the castle another PC died when they were playing around with the spinning wheel. The floorless room didn't slow them down for long, through when they asked the demon in the mirror how to get across, and he answered "You walk" they weren't amused. No one tried to kiss Beauty, se[...]



Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago: First Thoughts...

2017-11-03T06:00:05.804-04:00

Far from the frozen wastes of Felstad, the new setting for Frostgrave takes place in a mysterious archipelago of tropical islands that tend to pop out of existence for centuries at a time. Islands inhabited by all sorts of strange creatures, from dinosaurs to snake-men, with treasures both magical and mundane to tempt the bravest of treasure hunters. Those familiar with Frostgrave will find a lot familiar in the rules. The core of the system remains pretty unchanged, with only a few changes to the system, but they're some interesting changes! Most obviously, your main character is a Heritor, the descendant of a previous treasure hunter in the Ghost Archipelago who retains a bit of extra magic in his blood, and is looking for the source of that magic to boost it back up. Joining him is a Warden, a magic-user of middling power. Hedge-witch to the mages that prowl Felstad. With fewer spells of lesser potency than their colder counterparts, they seem at first under powered, but I get the feeling that in play they'll hold their own. Interestingly both the Heritors and the Wardens track their XP separately... The rest of the crew is a similar mix of thugs, thieves, and various combat specialists. The recruiting mechanism is different here than in Frostgrave, as only half of your crew will be specialized, and the other half will just be sailors. And if you need to replace specialists, it's going to cost you an expensive trip back to the mainland!The new rules for moving in water and small boats seem like they'll be fun, and I like that aquatic monsters get the equivalent of a 2" move onto land to show their reach from the water. It stinks that the Bones 4 minis are still more than a year away... I need so many of them now!! As with Frostgrave, there is a sad lack of example battlefields shown, with only the briefest discussion of what the tabletop should look like. Thankfully the scenarios do give some clear descriptions of things that need to be included on the field, including various ruins, standing stones, and a tall tower/temple. I think I'm going to use the jungle islands of Indonesia as my inspiration. One thing I miss in the rule book is the little snippets of quotes and stories that helped make Felstad seem like a more magical place that just the rules and scenarios suggested. All in all, I'm looking forward to making my first Ghost Archipelago warband, and I think I'll be working on that just as soon as I finish up the Paranormal Investigators currently on my painting table! [...]



Who You Gonna Call? Part 1

2017-11-01T06:00:12.972-04:00

The Paranormal Investigators of course!

These fantastic minis from Crooked Dice were pulled out to work on shortly after ReaperCon and right before Halloween. They’re great sculpts with a minimum of flash or mold lines that need dealing with. I'll be sticking pretty closely to the paint scheme chosen by Crooked Dice, since it just feels right.

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I also got the potato ghost, but that’s one big hunk of metal that may end up on next year’s melt table rather than as something I paint up. In addition to being a large lump of metal, there’s also no pre-drilled hole for the flight stand. He’s more useful to me as scrap. I’ve got other ghosts.

After cleaning up the exterminators, I primed them with Reaper’s Brush-On-Primer mixed with a drop or two of flow improver. This was my first time thinning the primer, and I’m not sure I’ll do it again in the future.

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For the base coat of the jump suits I used Desert Stone with just a tiny bit of Brown Liner to darken it up a shade. The various bits of equipment, gloves, and boots were all painted black.

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The straps for the backpack and elbow pads were painted with Olive Grey, and the elbow pads were then given a coat of Rainy Grey. Egon, Venkman, and Stance’s skin was painted with Tanned Flesh and washed with flesh wash. Their hair is Nut Brown. Winston has Nut Brown for his skin and Brown Liner for his hair.

"Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I'll be back."



October in Review

2017-10-31T06:00:04.618-04:00

GamingMy Wednesday night 5e game has continued to be a blast. They’ve been dealing with a town besieged by a small hobgoblin army. It wasn’t big enough to take the town, and the party managed to take out about a third of the town with some magical assistance in the form of the bard’s invisibility spell, and the warlock’s ability to telepathically speak with anyone. They used this to drive a hill giant kinda nuts, and in the confusion dropped some flaming oil from the paladin’s giant bat, and then an assault from the town’s small unit of knights, assisted by the adventurers. Things were looking as the hobgoblins pulled away from the town, but a day or two later, a flight of a dozen wyverns being flown by hobgoblins was spotted. Commandeering the town’s half dozen hippogriff’s and flew to intercept…It turns out that even split into 2 waves, a dozen wyverns is a nasty thing to toss against 6th level characters. With a bit of luck, and a lot of good use of their abilities, they managed to defeat them all, and in the process took 2 of the wyverns for themselves. They’re now set to explore their magical hat…Meanwhile in Stonehell, the party is continuing their assault against the hobgoblins, though now they’re mostly exploring empty chambers, as most of them have fled or been killed already.I also got in a game of Lord of the Rings SBG at ReaperCon. Fun game, though it took a bit to remember the rules, and the guy running the scenario was the dad of the guy who wrote it, and wasn’t as up on the rules as he could have been.Painting/HobbyingOh boy… With ReaperCon in the middle of the month I was painting like a mad-man! Only some of it was actually for ReaperCon, while some was to distract me from Halloween. I did not finish my goal of getting the diorama done, and instead switched gears. I ended up painting the King in Yellow, which won a bronze. Also got some good feedback on both my OSL and faces.In addition to the King in Yellow, I also painted up 2 grave hounds, a bat, cat, and crow familiars, and the the snow leopard and hawk from the Animal Companions set. I’m also in the middle of painting the pumpkin-headed Halloween Knight figure (almost done), Lady Sith (converted from a Bones Paladin), the 4 Paranormal Investigators from Crooked Dice, and a Bones Eye-Beast.I also completely reorganized my paints after ReaperCon. Sadly they now span 3 full paint cases.Why is that sad? Mostly it’s just more difficult to get to various paints as I switch colors. Otherwise, it’s awesome! Definitely need to clear out some of my doubles… and triples…ReadingBusy month with a lot of short stories!The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers - Reading this because I was painting the King in Yellow. Most definitely Cthulhu adjacent, at least some of the stories in this collection. There’s also a war story and a couple of romance type stories which… don’t actually seem to fit in with the horror/ghost tales centered around, or at least mentioning the King in Yellow. It made reading them a somewhat disjointed experience. This collection would probably not have been published today given that.Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman – You know when Gaiman puts together a collection of stories about unnatural creatures written by some very interesting authors, you’re going to get a weird collection of stories. Ranging from traditional fantasy to science-fiction, with a smattering of contemporary fantastic fiction, it’s an odd but enjoyable collection. Bit of a mixed bag, but enjoyable.Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe – Coming of age story that I would have loved when I was 10-12.The Legend of Sleepy [...]






ReaperCon SWAG!

2017-10-28T07:00:27.783-04:00

As usual, the VIP package for ReaperCon was way worth the cost. Aside from the dinners (which were okay to good) you walked away with a whole bunch of minis and paint.

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4 faction minis, 2 Mouselings, 1 Sophie, Con Crud the zombie, resin werewolf and scarecrow minis, 6 paints, a blister pack of extra bases, and 1 resin dragon bust. And if you visited each of the vendors, you got a free All Hallow's Eve mini. And that's just from Reaper!! Oh, and the paint cup!

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PaintRack also gave out paint cups. Darksword tossed in an elven archer, badger tossed in an airbrush primer, Happy Seppuku gave a free base texture stamp, Frontline games gave a small tub of flock, and Mage Case gave everyone a free figure case...

On top of that, I got a few minis from the melt table, including the 2014 convention special figure and a pumpkin headed bugbear bottlecap!

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A friend who won boxes of Bones minis tossed a bunch on a tray, and I snagged a few. Also got several of the Xmas holiday minis, and an Urban Legends Sophie from the factory shelves. I'll need to get her wings next year.

From the non-Reaper vendors I snagged a couple more base stamps (temple courtyard and splintered wood). From FreebladesI got a cool dryad and snake charmer sorceress. And from Bombshell minis I snagged 2 small familiars and a one eyed tiger space pirate.

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And of course there was the auction where I won 3 more of the mage cases!



ReaperCon Wrap-up

2017-10-27T07:50:30.683-04:00

My second ReaperCon has come to an end. The bags are unpacked. The pictures uploaded. The swag put away. While it's only my second ReaperCon, that feeling of coming to a family reunion full of people you actually like and have things in common with only felt stronger than it did last year. Even more so, since I've been spending a lot of time hanging out and painting with a bunch of them on Google Hangouts.Wednesday was flying in, and attending the meet and greet at the convention center, followed by staying up way too late at the firepit! Thursday and Friday I ended up spending most of the time painting, desperately trying to finish my entry. I did, though only with a half an hour till the entry deadline... Buglips getting his first taste of Taco Bell!Saturday I took Fluid Filled Objects as my class for the day. It was a great class, and I'll be practicing the technique going forward. It's interesting how I don't think I learned something new exactly, just learned a new way to look at painting and a way to tweak techniques I already know. Or at least know in theory... Definitely need practice though. I also played some Lord of the Rings SBG. The guy running it had set up a Laketown scenario with the 13 dwarves defending the townsfolk from an attacking Kraken. The things you come up with when you have a cool mini and no other use for it... I also spent a fair amount of time enjoying the small arcade that had been set up. The Ghostbusters pinball machine was particularly challenging and a lot of fun. Saturday night the results of the painting contest were announced. Rather than judge the dragonborn sorceress, they went with the King in Yellow that I'd only just finished painting. I got Bronze again, but from what the judges said I'm getting closer to a silver. Kuro Cleanbrush said that if I can get the rest of the mini up to the level of the robe, I'll be good! Goals for next year.. I'll admit, I was a little bummed, but super happy for my friends who did amazing work. Sunday I took Red & Yellow Leather and Monster Skin tones. Because Sunday is a shorter day, the afternoon classes start earlier than they do the other days, so I showed up late to the leather class, much to my shame. There were only 2 other students, so the teacher was able to give me the condensed version without taking away from the others. I haven't painted with sponges or stippling on a mini ever, so I got to practice 2 new techniques, which both gave good results for distressed leather. Monster skin tones was interesting, and was the class I took the most notes in. It's also the one that I'm going to have to digest the most. Of the 3 classes, this was the most advanced. The other 2 were very much "here's how to achieve this one effect" while Monster Skin was much more theory based with examples showing a whole lot of different things. One class I didn't attend this year was the Bones Conversion class. However Reaper Bryan (who taught at least one session of it this year) dropped this former paladin, now sith lady at my table, and I managed to get a bit of paint on it before we wrapped up. After the classes wrapped they held the auction. Unlike other auctions, you could only use funny money at this one, specifically Reaper Bucks which are earned by attending various events throughout the Con. I managed to snag some modular mini display/transport cases, and I got to snag 1/4 of a set of faction pint glasses that a friend won. Sadly my faction, The Bonehenge Covenant lost this year, and won't be returning next year, which means this was the last time I'd be able to get [...]



The King In Yellow

2017-10-26T15:19:59.630-04:00

You know when a great time to start on a painters entry for ReaperCon? The Friday before, giving you less than 7 days to actually work on it....Last year Reaper released 4 faction minis for their Dreadmere campaign at ReaperCon. The Cthon faction (Cthulhu-esk weirdos) miniature was the Disciple of Cthon, aka the Crimson Herald. However, when I first saw it, my immediate thought was "The King In Yellow."Cleaning up the mini was pretty easy. There weren't a lot of mold lines to deal with, however on the top of the staff and the worm coming out of it there was a bit of mold slippage that was just more than files could take care of. I cleaned it up as best I could, but short of trying to carve out the issues and greenstuff it back into shape, I'd just have to hide it. After priming with Reaper's brush on primer, I went at the robes, starting with Pumpkin Orange, and moving up through Hearth Fire, Lantern Yellow, Candlelight Yellow, Canary Yellow, and then up to Bone and Linen White. Somewhere in the process, probably around the time I'd worked up to Lantern Yellow it also got a wash of sepia. The tentacles and arms were primarily a blend of Dragon Green, Nightsky Indigo, and Vampiric Shadow messily mixed in a variety of ways. A wet pallet would have been really useful for this... The mask, skulls, blades, and pages of the book were all based on Dirty Bone, brought up to linen white. The gem (eye?) and the book cover were based with Crimson Splatter. The details on the book cover were done with Dragon Gold, as was the dot on the gem.The top of the staff started as a fairly normal looking eyeball, but it wasn't working. It was neither convincing as an eye, or effective at hiding the mold line that ran right across it, so I repainted it with green where the white of the eye would be, and a yellow iris. At just under 24 hours from when the figure needed to be turned in, this is what it looked like:Pretty nice... Not amazing, but really solid work. I talked to a couple of the artists, and Kuro Cleanbrush strongly suggested the base needed more. I knew that throwing down some flock, or sand wouldn't cut it, but there wasn't a whole lot of time or space on the base to do a whole scenic thing... so Kuro suggested I sculpt some more tentacles to completely cover the base. So I did. I then left it alone overnight to cure. The next morning I got right to it. By the afternoon I was ready to glue the arm on. Then I tried to remove the figure from the cork... and apparently I'd used too much glue, and couldn't get it. With minutes counting down, I pulled out my hobby saw, and cut it off. Unfortunately in the process I bumped the arm off. Trying desperately not to panic, I glued it back on, touched up a bit of paint, including giving some of the shadows on the arm a glaze of pumpkin orange to bring down the shadows (they didn't quite match the rest of the robe). After all of that, I finally got it turned in with 30 minutes till the deadline. I once again earned a solid bronze. One of my judges said that he wanted to go silver, but the rest of the figure just didn't quite make it up to the level of the robes. So, better than last year, at least in review, if not in actual score. Major thanks go to Ian (Kuro Cleanbrush), Matbar, Klarg1, and Tish for all their help in getting my King in Yellow as good as it is, whether from their technical suggestions and critiques, to providing a drop of paint or glue, to their general enthusiastic support. Even bigger thanks to my bride for her understanding as ReaperCon approached and I got a litt[...]



DCC Reviews

2017-10-25T06:00:00.400-04:00

So after a bunch of reviews, you might be wondering why am I suddenly focused on reviewing DCC adventures? Especially since I'm running 5e and RC edition D&D, and haven't mentioned running any DCC...

In large part it's because I enjoy reading adventure modules. Even with 2 regular games, there's always more I want to run. Getting to read the adventures at least gives me a flavor for what might happen if I ran it. Interestingly, having 2 different groups that I'm running means that while reading it, there are 2 different ways I can easily see those groups tacking them.

I also like to mine the adventures for ideas. I'm not going to specifically point out which ideas I've stolen, or plan on stealing, since some of my players read my blog!

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There's also the fact that I *have* the adventures on my shelf, and since my shelf is a bit thin since moving, I'm trying to give what's on the shelf some attention. Part of the same reason I pulled out Tales from the Floating Vagabond.

Looking through my shelf, these are the adventures that I've still to review:
Masks of Lankhmar
Through Ningauble's Cave
Chaos Rising
The One Who Watches from Below
Emirikol Was Framed
The 13th Skull
Sailors on the Starless Sea
DCC Free RPG Module 2012
DCC Free RPG Module 2014
DCC Free RPG Module 2016 (I have no idea where 13 or 15 are...)

Hope you're enjoying them!



DCC and the Problem of the Purple Prose

2017-10-24T06:00:19.200-04:00

While I've generally heaped praise upon the DCC adventures, I do have some issues with them as a whole. Copy editing and layout aren't their strong suit. Also the language tends to be about as purple as the fiction that DCC seeks to emulate. While both a feature and a bug, it tends to suck up some space in the adventure that could otherwise be used for more game-able material.

My biggest complaint however is that information isn't always clearly provided in a clear user-friendly way, and they're written such that I wouldn't want to run any of them without having read the entire adventure cover to cover at least 3 times. Once to get a general idea of the adventure itself, once to make sure I understood everything, and once following the maps, rather than the room descriptions, since the map numbers don't always flow with the way adventurers seem most likely to encounter the adventure. Hell, even just reading them for review, I read them each at least 3 times.

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While each adventure generally includes a small key showing what encounter is in each room, I want something a little more than that, but less than the paragraphs each room generally gets. Here's an example from The Croaking Fane. The encounter key is above, and this is what's in the actual adventure. Mind you, this whole page is just rooms 2-9 and 2-10.

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And here's what I'd like to see, ideally tucked in with the maps, since I have to spend so much time flipping back and forth the way it's set up now.

Area 2-9 - Infectious Instructional. Prayer Room
Spear Trap in doorway. +3 melee, 1d6 dmg. DC10 find/disable traps or DC12 Int. Check
Cursed Silver Tablet - DC15 Will Save or Schaphigroadaz Spoilation. 150gp value
Area 2-10 - Toad Cavern with pond with island
Locked Bronze Doors: Key from 2-2, DC 10 Open Lock, DC17 Str Check
Corroded Iron Gate: 25hp
Giant Toads (30) attack in waves of 1d10 every 2 rounds
40pp Treasure
Loud croaking, humid, incomprehensible voice from 2-11

Then again, I've gotten very used to the Stonehell style dungeon key where 30+ rooms, the map, special notes, and area description are all given a mere 4 pages total. 2 for background and detailed notes, and 2 for the room descriptions and map. I guess while I enjoy the purple prose, it isn't super useful to me when actually trying to run/prep for a session.

As this is a recurring issue I have with all DCC modules, I wanted to give it a detailed focus once, rather than repeat it each review.



Croaking Fane

2017-10-23T06:00:16.377-04:00

What is it? DCC Adventure #77 for 3rd level characters by Michael Curtis

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Because the best place to read a DCC adventure is on the subway!

Spoilers Below!

In case you missed it from my review of Frozen In Time, Michael Curtis is pretty awesome, and I'm a fan. That said, this is another ribbiting adventure full of of ideas worth stealing, even if you aren't going to run it straight.

As you might guess from the title, this adventure focuses on a religious site of a toad god, though not, as you might guess, Bobugbubilz.... No, this is about its progenitor, Schaphigroadaz who was long ago overthrown by its spawn. But now, Schaphigroadaz is looking to make a comeback! Not that the adventurers know this. All they know is that suddenly their temple seems to be suddenly abandoned. That can only mean "ready to be looted" rather than "something terrible has/is about to happen" of course.

This is one adventure that really takes a central theme (frogs) and hops with it. You get frog-mummies, frog-gargoyles, frog-vampire bats, flesh eating tadpoles, flesh eating tadpole swarm, mutated frog cultists, and more all inside a giant frog temple. You'll never see a more toadaly themed adventure. Seriously, it's 100% kermited to it!!
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While a lot of DCC adventures tend to have potentially significant impact on campaign worlds going forward, this one seems to spend a bit more time world building. Sure, most give some background before the adventure, but this one just seems to have a bit more, not just in the intro, but sprinkled throughout. And as this is just one temple, there's the possibility of there being many more fanes of Schaphigroadaz out there!

It is a relatively short adventure, at a mere 14 pages, and the entire upper level is one big room, but the contents make it worth it. Certainly the cost is worth it for the night of gaming it'll provide.

And while I haven't mentioned it in my other reviews, the art and the maps are all wonderfully evocative. It's a shame that the players don't get to enjoy the maps till after the adventure is over!



Diorama & Painting Thoughts

2017-10-19T07:00:27.373-04:00

As ReaperCon got closer and closer, and I realized I'm not going to be able to get the diorama done in time, at least not to the level I want. I found that my attention was drawn more toward doing some fun, relatively simple minis to a tabletop standard. That's why I worked on the familiars and grave hounds.

Most of the painting I've done this year has been to a tabletop standard. Tabletop plus in most cases, and I'm happy with the painting I'm doing. It isn't award winning level painting, though I've pulled off award level painting in the past. It's a lot of effort and a lot of stress. And it isn't my job. I don't hobby professionally. I don't teach classes, take commissions, I don't give online tutorials. At most, you get a couple of sentences here about what colors I used. Mostly I paint for me.

So I'm going to focus on what I enjoy, and that's getting things painted. Hell, that's why I went with Bones in the first place, to have something to paint that I could practice simply getting things painted. (I may have slipped a bit into just collecting all the Bones...) I haven't really followed through on that, but I'm getting better. And by doing my best to incrementally get better and better, learning and trying out new techniques and styles, I can compete with the one person who I need to compete with: Myself. As long as I keep getting better, I'll be happy.

What does that mean for the diorama? Mostly that it'll be entered in 2018. I'm going to keep working on it, and try to make it awesome. For this year, I'm taking the sorceress and entering her alone. I'll swap in another figure to replace her on the diorama...

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I put the sorceress on a 30mm lipped base, greenstuffed it smoothish, and then painted the torchlight and shadows onto the base. I went through a couple of different ways to paint the light before settling on this... I mean, I think I've settled on this.

Yes. This.

Also going to enter the The Red Herald, Disciple of Cthon that I've been frantically working on since Friday... you know, less than a week before the Con... But that's another post that I don't have time to write right now!



ReaperCon here I come!

2017-10-18T06:00:27.538-04:00

In just a few hours I'll be on my way to ReaperCon!

It's less of a "fuck it, I'm going" this year, and more of a "that was awesome! I'm totally going again!"

This year I'm taking 3 classes, signed up to play in a couple of games, and bringing a bit less than what I brought last time. Since I didn't get the diorama done, I'm only entering the painters division. I'm going to keep working on the diorama, and will enter it next year.

Last year's classes ended up being an oddball mix from painting to basing to sculpting to converting /kitbashing minis. This year, I'm focusing only on painting. I'm taking:
  • Fluid Filled Objects
  • Monster Skintones
  • Red Leather & Yellow Leather
I hope that this will help up my painting level going forward.

I'm also bringing several minis that I want some expert takes on. Painter's Row, with all the professional painters is an amazing resource, and I intend on making better use of it this time around, rather than just drooling over the display pieces.

I'm still gonna drool over the display pieces.

Among the goodies included this year is a resin dragon bust. I've never painted a bust before, so I'm kinda looking forward to giving it a shot. Of course I'll need to get a good display base to show it off on...

As for other goodies, I don't actually plan on getting much of anything outside of what comes with my ticket. I'm good on paints, more than good on minis, and incredibly short on space to store stuff... So mostly I'm going to have a good time and see if I can't level up my painting!