Friday, April 30, 2010

In The Labyrinth... (long)

NEW FEATURE! For what it is worth, I'm going to start building a dungeon... well really a bunch of dungeon encounters. I'll make a map of the encounter and detail the contents and the flow of the encounter. I don't know how long I'll do this or how good it will be, but wtf it's worth doing at least once right? I'm going to use the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons because I really like the rules even if I don't play them.  I will post a map of the encounter and the stat blocks for any monsters involved. I'll do my best to not make the maps obscured but who knows what it will end up like, I'm sort of unpredictable.

So, without further ado... ENCOUNTER 1 - Blackblade Ambush

This encounter is designed to be dropped into any dungeon, and the map is designed in the 4E method of 1sq = 1sq so that means much of the passages here are tight, which makes tactics difficult. It is a level 2 encounter designed for a party of four level 1 characters. The party could conceivably enter from any of the three directions marked with blue arrows. There is one secret door at the bottom of the map marked with hashes but all others are both unlocked and not trapped.

The goblin blackblades are waiting in ambush for any prey to come through. They are on a hunting party for their tribe and need both food and resources so they intend to kill what ever wanders through here and rob it of its flesh and what ever is useful (from a goblins point of view). They have been waiting a while though and the three clustered together are talking amongst themselves implying they may not notice stealthy adventurers. The two behind the statue are waiting with patience unlike a goblin, most likely due to fatigue and hunger. There are three things of importance in the area; the statue, the secret door and the chest...

The Statue: Squat and ugly the poorly carved brown stone statue is either an artists poor attempt at a anthropomorphic octopus or one of the many disgusting idols of the under dark. Clutched in one nearly formless hand is a silver holy symbol, it looks out of place, clean and shiny and particularly useful. A DC 10 Arcana skill check will give the indication of this being a badly built mind flayer statue, but this may not be so. The holy symbol is actually a +1 magic holy symbol and how it got there is anybodies guess.

The Chest: Located in a small chamber to the east; An old wood and bronze chest, not dusty but not in the best condition. The chest is not locked or trapped and it contains a suit of +1 Magic Scale Armor that is obviously of Eladrin make with a slight blue tinge to it. The armor includes a larger right hand gauntlet indicating this should be the sword arm and a partial helmet that obscures the wearer's face providing some protection but little against concussion. The armor is guarded by and old curse that the local monsters know of, if it is lifted from the chest two giant rats will appear and attack the character that took the armor without exclusion. At one time the curse was much more powerful but it has eroded over the centuries and now the best it can summon is the giant rats. Of note though is that the curse will remain with the owner of the armor and if someone takes it from them either through theft or guile then they will be attacked by a pair of giant rats as well.

The Secret Door: If the players come from the east side of the door then they will clearly see it is a secret door, otherwise it requires a Perception skill check DC 25 to find. The goblin blackblades do not know about this secret door and they could very well be rudely surprised by a party coming through this passage.

Other Odds and Ends: there is a handful of objects in the area that may or may not interest the party. In the small west chamber is a bundle of 4 torches, one of which is burnt to uselessness. Right outside the door to this room is a crude clay and string necklace that looks like a tooth (Perception DC 15 to see this in the gloom). Right outside the statue's chamber to the door the double doors have a scrawled chalk message that seems no more than a few weeks old, it reads "Beware the beholder!", this could cause some consternation if misinterpreted and the Dungeon Master may want to pull a nasty trick with the statue that could be misinterpreted by the players perhaps expending valuable resources.

Battle Script: The goblin blackblades are no great tacticians and they will perform a simple pincher maneuver. The larger cluster will attempt to assault the party head on and the pair by the statue will attempt to flank to the rear of the party to kill weak characters or cause general havoc. If the party uses choke points to their advantage the goblins will back off, hiding in another passage, hoping to ambush them or gain some advantage.

(As a side note I used the Donjon RPG tools to generate the encounter monsters and treasure, it is really nice, you should check it out... )

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vancian Magic... my fix.

 The problem with Vancian magic system is it is brutal to the first level magic-user. One spell of his several is all he can ready and this old argument goes on for another three or four sentences. You know the drill and if you don't then Google it you'll get plenty.

ANYWAY there are a lot of fixes out there, but this is the one I used to use when I was a Dungeon Master. The Wizard's Staff. In effect it doubles the spell slots of a caster, he can store in the staff an equal number of spells as he can prepare daily. The staff is considered a minor magic item that is breakable with a 50% chance of a retributive strike when broken either by accident or intent.

The spells stored in the staff expire after sun set or sun rise, which ever comes first, and they cannot be dispelled but must be cast to remove them from the staff before then.

While this doesn't give a first level magic-user a lot more to work with (one spell I know) it does give him just a tad more and it does grant geometric growth related to spell preparation increases. So, at level 2 they have four spells, six at level 3 and so forth. It's not a perfect fix but I feel it also adds some aesthetic to the magic-user and illusionists classes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Uncharted Seas

So the CSA still isn't done. Sue me.

I did get my fleet for "The Uncharted Seas" done and I think they are okay. As I've said I consider myself an average painter at best and these are another good example. The color scheme is simple but sufficient and I have never painted BOATS before so it was fun. They are actually much larger than I thought, the battle ship is something like five or six inches long, quite large.

As for the battle report allow me to tender my apologies... I FELL ASLEEP AT THE GAME TABLE in the middle of battle. How depressing is that? I will rectify that though and get you a battle report of either Warmachine OR The Uncharted Seas asap.


...oh and i'll finish the damn rebels.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mud Dice

I have a friend, an old friend meaning he is both old(er than me) and a friend as well as a friend for many years, who called the old soft-ish plastic dice from our role playing youth "Mud Dice".

I'm not sure where the term comes from and a thorough (fifteen second) internet search finds the term only in use by the oldest of gamers implying it was a term they developed for use that has not been canonized in any way.

I love these dice, I've always loved them and not just because they remind me of the good parts of my childhood (along with stabbing fallen leaves with a broken driveway reflector and burying a dead bird to dig up its skeleton later) but because of their nature. It's not the crayon-in numbering, although that is cool, it's the IMPACT they have. Modern dice are great and sturdy and will not round off on the corners or loose their numbering BUT they roll HARD. It can be like dropping a fist full of rocks on a thin glass sheet!

I'm a war gamer now and have left role playing behind which means I roll MORE dice than I did before and when you're throwing down six or seven d6'ers and they bounce every which way and that and into the other player's pile of dice and off the table and dislodge some trees and roll under a piece of armor AND GET CAUGHT ON THEIR CORNER...I just long for the softer, less bouncy "mud dice".

I've got a few still, but not many, and I think I'm going to rectify this when I go to Origins next. There is usually some vendor there selling a newer version of the mud dice, not quite as... "muddy" but close enough for my purposes I think. OF COURSE, if you want to donate your old mud dice to the Adept Gamer Active Use Gaming Museum then I'd be happy to provide you with a mailing address ;)

As an aside, I've still not gotten tot he rest of the Confederates although they mock me daily now. I've also got a game night coming up this weekend and we should be playing either/or/both Uncharted Seas/Warmachine Mark 2 and I'll endeavor to produce a battle report so you can observe my unyielding awesome generalship...or mock me, which ever  you feel moved to do.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

OH... MY... GOSH!

I really don't understand what my problem is by daggone I wish I could BUCKLE down and finish these friggin confederate soldiers! They are just about done; something like eight to ten infantry bases to paint and the 16 cavalry to finish which are 80% done. THEY'VE BEEN THIS WAY FOR TWO WEEKS!

What, oh what is my problem.

As an aside I "did" a 5K today. My first. I am a middle-ish aged over weight man and the walk/run combination of the 5K was hard on me. I've been increasing my exercise significantly so it wasn't a 'cold start' so to speak but I am sore as all-get-out.

I probably couldn't have done it as well as I did without the help of a coworker, I got him a "wolf shirt" for Christmas last year. Without mercy I post it here now :)

I will be getting those confederates done though b/c I have a bunch of Infinity to paint up for a friend.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another stroll down memory lane.

A brief one, but, did you ever have any of Arco's "The Other World" play sets? Bendy plastic figures with wire in them. Little guys that were one piece molds. Strange and fantastic creatures to ride. I had only one set as far as I can remember and truthfully it might have been a rip off as I can't find a picture of it. Mine had a dude, and a wolfman, and some of the little guys. It also had the prerequisite weapons racks and glow in the dark weapons.

I had completely forgotten this existed until coming across an ebay sale for a rip off of Arco's "Monsters & Dragons" line of monster in my pocket style toys. That lead to searches for Arco and all the other stuff. I wish some manufacturer would re-issue these puppies or at the very least come out with something similar..../sigh.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dragon Dice, Where My Hobby Is, and What is Coming...

Hello loyal READER (freakout) allow me to fill your eyes with a beautiful picture. Gleaned from the forums at The Acaeum ( is a photograph someone took of a set of dice in their collection. These happen to be the exact same set of dice that were the first dice I ever purchased. I can still remember that day, not in vivid detail but I can still remember it. I won't bore you with all the details but needless to say it was after visiting an arcade and it was in a book store. I imagine there are hundreds, if not thousands, with a memory similar to mine. Kind of like an abductee even eh?

I'm n early done with my Confederate army and when they are done I'll photo them and put them up. I'll also try to get a game in with them and the Union and post a battle report and give you some thoughts on Neil Thomas' rules for ACW.

I've been thinking about messing around with the D&D pre-paints and posting some M&M stats, if I get around to it.

But, mostly, I just want to get some painting done and make sure my boys get to all their soccer practices on time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


It is an important day for me in my beliefs and I just want to wish everyone of like mind a Happy Easter :)