Monday, March 30, 2015

Terrain Touch Up

Quick update on some simple terrain touch-ups.  My single terrain pieces looked flat, so I threw down some simple little clusters of bushes, and it helps bring them to life.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

End of the Undead

The Army of the Necromancer King is complete.  Long unlive the King.

Click for the full glory of the Necromancer King's Army.
The One Hour Wargame rules require at most six units on the field.  Before each scenario, you roll to see what forces you have available.  For medieval armies that means up to 4 knights, and up to 2 heavy foot, up to 2 light foot, and up to 2 bowmen.  Which means you need to have a full ten units available before play.

While painting up these figures, it was a little worrying that there weren't enough dudes per base to look like a proper army.  Now that they are fully assembled, it looks like there was no need to worry.  On the table it looks like a sizable force after all.  Much better than the three men representing a block of troops you see in most 15mm armies.

And they all fit into a single blue tub for ease of storage and transport.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last Knight, In The Bushes...

It is (almost) done.  The undead army for use with Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames rules now has 10 full painted units and can take the field in any scenario.  The last two units of knights just need a protective coat and they can take to the box until the human army is painted up.  And the roads.  And the rivers.  And the town.  But hey, I'm halfway done and it's only a quarter of the way through the year - I'm way ahead of schedule.

Knight 4 on the left with a dark rider leader, and knight 3 on the right with a
second traitorous human captain.

While bushing up the knight bases, I figured why not do a couple of terrain bases and finish off the rest of the army.  Here's a comparison of the woods with and without bushes.
Before - bland.

After - subtle, but a little more character
Left to right: Bows, levy, and man-at-arms.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Second Knights - Things Get Heavy

This second unit of knights for the Army of the Necromancer King is actually his elite mounted shock troops.  The heaviest horses, the best trained knights, and led by the fearsome Horned General, it will play a role in every battle fought by the evil forces of undeath.

This base was a pain in the neck.  First I forgot to add the general and had to scrape off some base sand to make him fit, and then the base warped so bad it broke (you can see the line just to the left of the general). Once it was done, inspiration struck, and I found myself going back to strip off and reapply the bushes to streamline the game a bit.

You see, tracking hits in One Hour Wargames is kind of a pain.  I've never been a fan of hit markers on the table.  It takes away some of the visual appeal.  For these rules that means using a separate card as shown in yesterday's post.  But tracking by unit means you've got to have a readily visible marker on each base.  Painting a marker directly on the base detracts from the visual appeal.  A big old flag on each stand can work, but makes storage harder.  The solution that hit me while shooting ten year old Aussie kids in the face (read: playing X-Box) was to use the bushes.

In the photo below you can clearly see two dark green bushes to the right of the lightly armored knights (on the left side of the photo).  Likewise, the heavy unit (on the right) has just one dark green  bush on their right.  So my roster will have Knight-1 and Knight-2 listed, with the number of bushes signifying which is which. Easy to see, easy to track, and no need for delicate flags or weird colored bases to separate them.
I like my numbering like I like my wargame rules like I like
my women - elegant, easy, and you only need a few d6's to play them.
As promised earlier in the week, here's a slightly better shot of the first set to be painted.  As you can see, they are not as heavily armored, and don't dress their lines and lances with the same rigor.  The two marker bushes to their left (on the right in the photo) are also more visible.

Monday, March 16, 2015

One Hour Wargame Cheat Sheet

The two big downsides that I see with Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames are 1.) it requires hit tracking, and 2.) it isn't one set of rules...well, it is one set of rules, but it's reskinned for use with nine separate eras.  The great thing about these beefs is that they have the same solution - Cheat Sheet!

I ain't gonna use no hit counters on my nicely painted and based and terrained up figures, I'll tell you what.  Dice counters? Wound caps?  Chits?  Pshaw!  I'll use a roster on a separate piece of paper if that's what it takes to keep the battlefield clear of clutter.

Nine rulesets fleshing out the same skeletal rules seems like a great way to lose track of whether this game is the one where missile weapons do 1d6+2 or 1d6-2.  Keeping a handy cheat sheet handy will help the rules fresh.

It'd be great to show you the whole darn roster, but the half page sheet I whipped up includes all of the rules, so it's probably a violation of copyright law to show you more than this heavily redacted snapshot.  Sorry 'bout the tease.

Oh!  Hey!  I owe you some better shots of the figures from this past weekend.  I checked the shots out at work and hoo-boy, did they not turn out well at all.  Sorry 'bout that, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

One Hour Wargames Knights...ish

All this talk of D&D lately, nothing gets the creative juices flowing like an ongoing campaign.  But there's a full box of Heroics and Ros medieval figures(and terrain!) sitting on my shelf, untouched until I get this undead army completely painted, based, and all boxed up.  I've been a very good boy not cracking it open to see what's inside.  I've also got another 10% of the undead army completed this week.

Idle thoughts:

  • Using basswood for the bases has resulted in some visible warping.  This base bows up the middle a bit.  I'm okay with that.  It just looks like a small rise.
  • That base still looks a little light on the figures to me.  At a ratio of 1:10 it gives me the ability to field a 200 man unit of knights.  That's enough for a minor clash.  With these rules, that's enough.
  • This base represents a relatively lightly armed crew - one of the artifacts of cobbling together a full force using two different Irregular Army Packs.  The others should have more heavily armored horses and their lines should be dressed more professionally.  But these work just fine.  No one will mistake them for peasant rabble at any rate.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

D&D, The Teen Paradigm

My now fifteen year old son showed me the notes that he's drafting for the D&D campaign he is running for his friends.  It's an interesting glimpse into one creative solution designed by a player who has played the game for years, but has never cracked open a module.  He had no model on which to build, so he just sat down and started making notes in a very visual manner.  You'll have to click to make these readable.
This is the start of the campaign.  The players are tasked with helping a large city defend itself against a besieging orcish army. The double lines are the city's inner and outer walls. The king has been duped by an evil mage, and there's a dragon riding hero in the mix too.  Evidence that the king's adviser is a traitor is scattered about; hopefully the players aren't expected to find them all, but that they represent different ways to learn the truth and confront the evil mage.

The mech powered by the oblisk (sic) in the lower right hand corner ties into the second part of the campaign...

I don't know the full details here.  There are pieces of the oblisk scattered about, so there's your fetch quest.  Now we learn the evil mage from part one was serving a lich undead boss.  It looks to me like an evil lich is supplying the drow - commanded by driders (a departure from canon already, thumbs up).  There are potential allies up above that spooky magic fog in the form of a dwarf fortress.

When I asked him about the details, he said these two pages give him everything he needs to fill those in.  He doesn't know what the players are going to do, so he just wrote down a bunch of stuff to help him remember the important bigs.  ("You mean those are all mnemonics?"  "Is that what those are called?").  As for stats...he figures all he needs is a spell list for the casters, and he can make the rest up as he goes.

Harry Chapin put it best...

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sneak Peek at a New Series: Treasure Maps!

After three long years, the mini-Megadungeon in finally complete.  That means it is time for a new series.  This time we're going in the complete opposite direction: short scalable adventures that you can drop into just about any campaign*.  The kicker here is that, in addition to the standard GM's map, each of these adventures will include a handy-dandy handout to help point the players in the right direction.

My submission to this year's One Page Dungeon contest consists of an abridged version of the search for a pirate's treasure.  The actual treasure map, with a slightly more detailed background (why they called the dead pirate captain "The Brass Canon" for example), can be printed out and given to the players to spark their imagination and give them something to play around with while figuring out how to get onto the island.

*Dropping this rocky island into a Dark Sun campaign will be a little harder than dropping into Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Complete Mini-Megadungeon

Just in time for DMs day, here's my present to all you hard working, handsome, and under-appreciated DMs out there in internet-land.  With all 14+ levels of the Mini-Megadungeon are complete, I went ahead and bundled all of the relevant posts into a single PDF document for ease of printing and reference.

As an added incentive to look this free 22 page dungeon setting over, I've updated the introduction and added some new material.  The biggest block of material consists of a lengthy list of rumors associated with the dungeon to help your adventurers know what to expect when they delve into the depths of the biggest little dungeon around.

Consider this my way of giving back to the community from whom I've stolen so much material for use at my table. Remember, though,this wouldn't have been possible without the genius of Dyson Logos.  If you want cool free stuff like this to keep coming, head over to his Patreon campaign and throw him a few bones.

I think that Scribd is the easiest way to make this available to all and sundry.  If you're interested in a copy, but that isn't working, let me know.  We'll work something out.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Brass Canon's Plunder - A One Page Dungeon Contest Entry

It's getting to be that time of year again.  Time for the One Page Dungeon Contest.

My entry this year was designed for ease of use at the table.  Most of the relevant backstory didn't make the final cut.  Maybe it wasn't so relevant after all.  For those who are curious, more information is presented below the fold.

The Legend
The tale of The Brass Canon, pirate captain and terror of the Rainbow Seas, is a ripping good cautionary tale about the fate of all thieves.  A holy man captured by slavers, he turned pirate himself and rose to become the most notorious high-seas brigand of the last century.  Such a nuisance he made of himself, that the Old Empire sent a small fleet to bring him to justice or send him to the bottom of the sea.   The long search finally concluded when the Imperial Fleet found the Captain’s ship, the Godshank, sheltering from a heavy thunderstorm in the lee off a small lighthouse isle.

The captain ran for open sea, but was driven onto the rocks protecting a small cove. A thousand imperial sailors and officers watched as every man pirate fell into the wave-tossed waters and drown. The Brass Canon’s plunder was never recovered.

The Facts
The Brass Canon had already buried his treasure on the island, and intended for the fleet to watch him crash his ship on the rocks and bear witness to the death of he and his men.  The plan was to swim to shore and steal the lighthouse supply caravel.  The Captain didn’t reckon on the high seas, and did indeed perish in the seas along with all but one of his men. A young cabin boy managed to swim to shore and wait out the storm.  He recovered his Captain’s body and buried it in a shallow grave.  Before burying his Captain, the boy cleverly recovered the Captain’s journal from his great coat pocket.

Escaping on the supply caravel by stowing away, the boy grew to an honest man and never managed to return to the scene of the wreck.The journal passed down from father to son to grandson.  After a one hundred year journey, it somehow found its way into the hands of the party...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Megadungeon Bonus Post: More Secrets

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the dungeon...

When I run this dungeon, the entrance looks like this*.
  There is a narrow path up to the left side of the mouth
shaped cavern that leads down to the dungeon proper.
Even after carving up that amazing map by Dyson Logos into a baker's dozen different levels, there were a few small nooks and crannies that didn't quite fit into the rest of the dungeon.  These little rooms are perfect for small vignettes.  As a final entry in the mini-megadungeon, here are four more little secret areas to explore.  I'm particularly fond of the massive treasure horde hidden right near the entrance to the dungeon.  Play your cards right and your players should walk past it a dozen or so times before they find it.  Those reveals are some of the most priceless moments in the game.

This essentially closes out the mini-Megadungeon series.  It may be revisited from time to time.  If my players return, I'll let you know how it evolves in my own campaign.

*Shamelessly cribbed from Google Image Search - I think it is from an episode of the Smurfs of all things.