Friday, May 15, 2015

Medieval Update

Completing a full set of terrain and matched armies for use with OHW is the big goal for 2015.  So far the terrain is about half done, and the armies are half done.  This weekend, the second army got bumped up a few slots on the all-too-long to-do list.  Check it:

What you're looking at here is 6 full stands of foot troops, dismounted knights in the upper  left, bowmen in the upper right, and spearmen levy along the bottom.

These strips are all from Heroics & Ros' dark age and medieval line.

For this army the boy has selected red and gold - he wants to see a force dispatched by House Lannister.  Not a big fan of old George Har Har Martin, but I am a big fan of my son, and the colors are distinct from his green and purple Necromancer King army, so...time to get ready to pay all my debts.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Session 8 - Slaad Clown Faces, Part One

Finally getting caught up on a backlog of posts.  Just way too many irons in the fires.  Too many fires, too, come to think of it.

When last we left our plucky heroes, they were heading north, ten days out of Baldur's Gate, and still a month away from Waterdeep.  The dragonborn paladin's cover had been blown in a fight with raiding hobgoblins, which should make for some complications down the road.

The lead wagon on day ten belonged to the Cult, and a chance broken wheel caused their load to spill out all over the roadside - gold and gems.  The party quickly arrived, warned the caravan master he should keep a sharp eye on that wagon, and noted a guard from another wagon's eye light up as he spotted the treasure.  The cultists quickly scooped up the gold, including an embossed chalice they had stolen from Greenest back in Session 1, and waved off all attempts at help.

That night the weather turned foul, but the caravan was slated for a brief stop at a lonely inn way out in the wilderness.  They entered to make arrangements, but found an apologetic tavern keeper trying to shoo them out the door as five foppish noblemen taunted the rough edged travelers.  While the party didn't want a fight, they refused to back down and quit the dry confines of the tavern.

As everybody geared up for a fight, the noblemen showed their true colors.  The leader's skin split down the middle like a snake shedding its skin, and a massive slaad burst forth. His four friends, and the poor tavernkeep, also burst at the chest as baby slaads leaped forth.

Turns out slaad regenerate and are immune to most magic based and all elemental based attacks.  Which meant round after round of pummeling the big daddy.  Karren nuked most of the babies with a blast of electric breath.  The guards from other wagons were of no use - they ran and hid.  Just as the fight started to look like a quick one, Grim made an almost fatal error.  In an effort to hid behind the bar, the better to shoot from ambush and triple his damage, he unwittingly called the attention of a second slaad hiding in the kitchen.

Nothing for it then, Grim commenced dancing all around the tavern, leaping on tables, shooting from behind anything he could.  Gilgamesh dove into the fray with his little knife and 12 HP, just for a bit, but what a bit.  He had a melee attack spell that nuked the Daddy slaad's regeneration just long enough for the party to put it down once and for all.

Momma slaad fought the good fight, but now outnumbered and unable to score enough damage to bring down the key damage soak for the party (Yolo the meat shield sword and board fighter), her doom was inevitable.

Coming soon:  Session 8, Part Two

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Session 7 - The Journey Begins

In which the party attempts to discover where exactly the Cult of the Dragon is shipping their stolen treasure and what they plan to do with that treasure.

Our plucky heroes are heading north amidst a small caravan led by an experienced dwarven wagon driver. That is, the caravan boss is a dwarf, not a guy with experience driving wagons of dwarven manufacture.  Yolo the fighter and Grim the archer signed on as guardsmen working for the ale merchant Beyd Sechepol.  The cleric Aramis, Gilgamesh the death mage, and the half dragon paladin Karren bought a merchant's wagon of their own along with a selection of spices in an effort to travel in disguise so as not to tip off the cultists who are also travelling in disguise.

The 40-day trek north to Waterdeep started off uneventfully, but the early days out of Baldur's Gate mean a trip through a massive haunted plain called the Fields of the Dead! Three days into the trek, the caravan stumbled across a band of Ushanti Hobgoblins ambushing a lone merchant's wagon. As fate would have it, the two party wagons - that is the wagons manned by the party, not wagons built for parties - were the lead wagons of the caravan and hence were the first to respond.  Alas, despite dispatching the hobgoblin raiders, the party was too late to save the ambushed merchants.

During the hobgoblin attack, the fight was visited by an ancient grieving elvish ghost, seeking her long lost no avail.  She ignored most of the party and hobgoblins unless attacked - she sucked the soul out of the one hobgoblin that tried - focusing on the elf, Yolo.  She begged him for aid in finding her husband and escaping her manipulative father.  No one could help, so she wandered off into the plains.

After the fight, one of the cultists caught Karren alone and muttered that he knew who the half-dragon was and that the cult was watching him.  How did he know?  Probably the powerful magic spear that Karren wielded in the fight - it perfectly matched a spear taken from the blue dragonborn leader, Cyanwraith.  Should have kept that weapon under wraps.

In the morning, the camp was visited by an epic "Golden Stag" of yore. Not able to pass up a chance of capturing such a legendary beast, a few members of the group tracked and followed the great stag deep into the forrest only to find the stag transformed into an ancient elvish druid with some rather dire "warnings" of what may come to pass...  Realizing the aged elf was the previous nights specters' long lost husband, the group re-united the two, thereby earning a valuable reward - a rare wand of Detect Magic.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Session 6 - Missed Opportunity

Couldn't make it to this session.  It's been a busy few weeks, and these write-ups are getting way behind.  All I can tell you is that the party fought an ogre, and joined a north bound caravan containing a dozen wagons including five cultist wagons hauling a small treasure horde up to Waterdeep.   The party split up, with Yolo and Grim hiring on to guard a mobile tavern set to service the rest of the caravan, and the rest of the party buying a spice wagon to go incognito.  The plan is to spend the 40-day journey north investigating the cultists, whittling down their numbers, and just sort of keeping tabs on them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Linear Bust

Finally got around to pulling the caulk based streams and rivers out of the box where they have languished the last few months.

They tore.

Big time.

Not quite sure what went wrong.  Either the caulk was too thin, or you're not supposed to try to separate the caulk from the wax paper, or your're not supposed to use wax paper, or you have to pull them before you spray paint them with a base coat, or any number of other possibilities.  At least the bridge was salvageable.

Back to the drawing board.  Maybe just stick with the bass board basing that has worked well in the past.  Those streams and rivers wind up being pretty tall, but there should be a way to work them into the overall visual design of this terrain.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Note on Random Dungeons

Long time internet based D&D dungeon designers know all about Dyson Logos and his brilliant series of dungeon geomorphs.  They also know about Dave Millar's amazing contribution to our little hobby, Dave's Mapper, which builds a random dungeon using geomorphs created in Dyson's style.  The Mapper has geomorphs created by a couple of dozen artists, and the individual tiles can be rotated, flipped, swapped out, and tweaked in a bunch of different ways.  It's a very powerful tool for inspiring dungeons that rises above the level of "random generator".

Well, now the Mapper has one more contributor.  In my on-going effort to give a little something back to the community, I've added a dozen new tiles to the "side-view" portion of the program - you can even see my name in lights.  (LCD screens are lights, right?)  My surface tiles give DM's a chance to sink a dungeon right below the streets of a town or village with secret entrances outside the wall, through the sewers, and of course vie secret ways beneath pubs of ill-repute.

Don't thank me.  This is my thank-you to YOU.

I've used this tool to build a few levels for my current (under-construction) mega-dungeon by starting with a random map, tweaking the tiles to get the right layout, and then redrawing the map to bring it all together into a coherent whole.  Although there is no way to select tiles based on themes such as "undead" or "underwater", many of the contributors have tiles that have their own little theme.  Once of the artists includes a lot of little niches set into the walls all over the place, so I've used his tiles as a starter for my catacombs level, for example.

So go, play with it a bit.  Enjoy.  Maybe if I ever get caught up on a few of my other projects, I'll add more tiles to the program.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Linear Features, Step One

Before we kick off the second matched army for Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames, let's take a look at the roads and rivers.  Staples of wargame terrain, I've decided to give the old "acrylic caulk smeared flat and painted to suit" trick a shot.  After careful study of Neil Thomas' thirty scenarios, I figured that a total of 11 pieces of linear terrain should give me everything needed.  That's five straight roads, a crossroad, five straight river pieces, three with crossings.  To get the measurements right, I just divided my drop cloth length by three.  Then, to make sure that my roads and rivers were the right length, I drew out the pieces inside a flat packing box like so:

The drawn out pieces can even be seen through the was paper taped to the box for easy peeling of the dried caulk.  Smear the caulk, and let sit overnight.  This stage took all of twenty minutes including the hard planning.

Here's a closeup of the bridge river crossing and the two fords.  The bridge is a cast metal piece from Heroics and Ros.  It's scaled as 6mm, but in retrospect, I kind of wish I'd gone with the 15mm piece just to have something a little bigger and more visible.

Then work got crazy, and the box stayed on a shelf in the garage for several weeks...More later when I get a chance to peel the caulk up and find out if this is going to work.