Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Prop Dusting - Combat Tier by Tinkered Tactics

The issue of elevation in game play has been a conundrum from the start of miniature war gaming on through to current times in role playing. Every method from stacking dice, using string to hang figures from lamps, to stacking smaller tables on top of the game table, and writing elevation on small pieces of paper have been tried.

Plenty of companies have produced gadgets to help deal with the problem in more elegant ways than notes, string, furniture, and dice stacking.

Among the more interesting are Dr. Wizard's Patented Elevation Indicator, an acrylic cylinder marked with numbers and multipliers. Bands are placed around it at the numbers indicating how high the figure on top of the cylinder is at present. Reviews seem to indicate that the Indicator only comes with a single band to mark the elevation and additional bands can be purchased. Reviews also mention that the bands slide around too easily on the cylinder. Another obvious drawback is, what do you do if another figure has to be directly under it?

Another option is from Litko, they produce a number of game enhancement items including invisible character and monster stands, torch stands, and their flight stands. I have all of these, yet have not used them for one primary reason. I have not put in the effort to locate a glue that will dry clear and stay clear, and I'm picky about yellowed glue on clear plastic. My secondary reason is working out safe storage to keep them from breaking once assembled. I plan to eventually use the flight stands in combination with the Combat Tier by Tinkered Tactics.

I own two of the Combat Tier Family Packs, because during my move I initially misplaced the first set.

These are sturdy acrylic stands that can be adjusted to provide various elevations. They are clear allowing players to see through to what is around the figure. They also fairly strong, but I won't be putting anything breakable on them that could fall or topple the tier. No finely painted metal minis or resin figurines, plastic minis only. I might try putting some dwarvenite terrain higher up to represent flying dungeon locations.

Take a look at the pictures below. These will give you some idea of how useful they can be, and should provoke the imagination for other ways to play with the combat tier. The pictures below show just one set.


 No, cat, you cannot play with my Combat Tier set.
 As you can see, it is possible to get some serious height using all of the extension pieces.

Warning to my players - these can also work well for underwater depth indication.




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Winter Wolves and Surprise Elves

The most recent episode of CaptCprajus' D&D campaign saw the party traveling further north through desolate and game depleted territory. A large wolf pack was stalking them at a distance until hunger, and the urgings of their Winter Wolf leaders drove them to attack the party just miles from the elven city they sought.
The pack leader, a large snow white creature, moved into our path and stood snarling, daring us to come closer. His pack mates then began to close in from the sides and rear, revealing two other winter wolves and a dozen or so common wolves, all of them leaner than normal. 
Torul advised the party stay close together and move toward the pack leader so the other wolves could be drawn into a tighter formation to make the party capabilities, especially those of the wizard, more effective.
The fight began and Sophia shut off the right rear flank with a web spell trapping two enemies and redirecting the rest to the left side of the party.
Hungrier members of the starving pack rushed to the attack and were swiftly cut down by a combination of Roysen's Spirit Guardians prayer, lethal crossbow fire from Mulva, and Torul's sword.
When most of the pack were in a very tight formation Sophia unleashed her newest toy, a fireball spell, killing most of the pack and seriously damaging the remainder. Those in the web suffered even more damage due to the web igniting.
A few of the wolf pack ran off to lick their wounds and find less dangerous prey.

And that is when the Surprise Elves showed up, crossing between realities to partially surround the party. In the ensuing conversation they admitted to having observed our fight, but decided not to help us because we seemed to be doing fine on our own. Surprise! (Translated from elven - expend your powerful resources before we show up so we're less likely to get killed if we decide you aren't welcome on our snowy turf - foreigner.)

Would they have been more inclined to help if we were fighting a dragon? Somehow that seems unlikely.

Sophia revealed the artifact she carried and the surprise elves suddenly became much more welcoming. (Oh crap, they brought back our happy fun ball!) Surprise right back at you!

The party was led into the heart of the elven city and presented to their queen, to whom Sophia presented the magic Snow Flake of That's Right, We Recovered What You Lost.

The elves became sincerely friendlier now that they understood that the party were trustworthy despite being a foursome of murder hobos. In fact they became so much friendlier that they presented deli counter numbers 4 and 5 together.

You want us to what?

Ok, so we were very close to a portal that would get us back to the surface world and out of the Hollow World. But . . . there's always a catch.

It turns out that about 100 years ago, the elven garrison near the portal was attacked and driven off by a dragon which is believed to lair in the attached cave complex. Sometimes you just cannot choose your neighbors.

We were asked to investigate the ruins of the keep and see if it could be returned to elven control.
 Long story short (too late!), the party and a small detachment of elite surprise elves, went to the icy rift that the portal was hidden within to determine the situation. Mulva, invisible and very stealthy, crept close enough to Hailstorm Tower to witness and overhear some frost giants that now inhabit the ruins.

She saw a male and female embrace, obviously in love, and then saw another male come around a corner and start a discussion. Could there be an exploitable love triangle among some of the giant tribe? Would they be friendly enough to allow the party safe passage through the portal? Would a toll be charged? Had the giants killed, cowed, or allied with the dragon whose lair entrance was only 100 yards away?
Surprise!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Getting Hammered part 8

At the time I was planning out my new table, one of the items I wanted to get along with it were a pair of custom dice trays. These were to be gifts to two of my players, good friends that I have known for a very long time. Dan Fisher of Hammered Game Tables began work on these after the table and primary accouterments were done.

Here they are:
That's right, the artwork is a reproduction of a Magic: The Gathering Black Lotus. The player getting this tray used to be big into collecting MTG cards and had some originals of the card.
The second tray goes to my longest friend, CaptCorajus, who happens to be an excellent KJ and DJ. That is his company logo in the dice tray bottom. He teared up when he saw the tray for the first time.

Eventually I plan to have more trays produced for another couple of long time friends and gamers, but those will have to wait for now.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Prop Dusting - Large Bull Elephant Miniature (aka Supermarket Toy)

Walking through the grocery store mid-week, I happened upon a bin of children's toys. Among the pile of animals and dinosaurs was a figure of a large bull elephant. It appeared to be about the right scale for use with D&D and Pathfinder Miniatures so into the shopping cart it went.

Getting it home I immediately placed next to a mini and lo and behold it indeed does look well matched to be the kind of large bull elephant that might be encountered by adventurers.

Here in all its glory I present Deathbo, Dumbo's bigger meaner cousin.


One good fireball and the whole village is having pachyderm steak for days.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Isle of the Abbey part two

When last we saw our adventuring band, the players and I gathered around my new Hammered Game Table. (see the posts about Getting Hammered).

The party were up against mad cultists and encountering an odd assortment of rather strange characters.

They discovered the elf Bayleaf, a mercenary instructor of arms, chained to a desk writing a letter home requesting he be ransomed. After cutting the leg off of the table to allow the elf to walk with them, they then went looking for the mysterious pale skinned individual who had ducked down some stairs.

Merenk was waiting further down the hallway standing behind the animated corpse of the captain of the cult guards. They parlayed with the necromancer and despite the paladin's distrust and dislike, the party agreed to put aside hostilities and see if Merenk could assist or advise in exchange for safe passage to the mainland.

Merenk, it turns out, was also hired by the cult to shore up defenses by leaving undead "traps" about the island to drive off the pirates and anyone else that might bother them.

With Bayleaf, Merenk, and the zombie in tow, the party decided to take on some more cultists they had been told might be in the ceremonial chamber.

The party wizard did the honors of opening the door to the ceremonial chamber using a fire bolt spell to do what the paladin had failed to achieve, and that is when Merenk's information about a third mercenary came into stark reality.

Merenk mentioned that the cult had hired Silas, an elementalist wizard well versed in fire magic, to train the membership in how to cast powerful fire spells. The success of that training was about to prove very dangerous.

Leznar and his remaining adherents were poised and ready for battle, or so they thought. The party was fast on the attack with only one cultist able to blast a vicious fire spell taking down the wizard.

To the relief of the adventurers the rest of the fight went their way. The wizard was pulled out of harms way and later healed. The party managed to do serious damage to Leznar before he could unleash his spells, hoping to stifle and unholy power he might have in his arsenal. (my very first roll as DM on my new table was a concentration save for the evil high priest - natural 20)

The paladin stormed into the room to engage some of the cultists, while the ranger, and halfling barbarian/sorcerer unleashed ranged attacks at their enemies.

Leznar proved far more resilient than expected as he called forth a roiling mass of smokey black tentacles centered in the hallway and blocking the rest of the party from attacking. Meanwhile the remaining cultists acted to repel the troublesome paladin. (he had slain one cultist, been hit with a fire bolt, and was now dodging - and a cultist, terrible with melee weapons - had to roll with disadvantage when attacking - two rolls, one a natural 20, the disadvantage die was a 19 and a hit.)

 Leznar never got off another spell. The ranger managed to fire a perfect arrow through a haze of writhing tentacles, through the doorway, over the raised dais wall, past a shielding cultist, and through Leznar's eye, slaying him outright. (natural 20 plus sharpshooter feat)

Mop-up was easy and resulted in a talkative prisoner, the last member of the cult.

Now the party became very suspicious of the strange company they were with. After rounds of questioning they bound the hands of both Merenk and the cultist. While this was going on, Bayleaf discovered a hidden storage chamber beneath the dais and recovered his personal effects, also showing the party some other valuables.

In the chamber were an arcane scroll, a chest with two old books, the captain's logbook the ranger was seeking, a history tome, and a very expensive looking small bottle containing a dark liquid.

Other loot from the dead cult leader and minions included a necklace of skulls that the paladin confirmed was evil, a single bracer later understood to have something to do with earth magic, either control or resistance (need the pair for definitive identification), and very valuable jewelry.

Moving on, the party opted not to risk going into the tower, understood to be where Silas likely was, and instead to continue with one of their main objectives, finding the holy book Interregnum of the Spirit, the sea priest asked them to recover from the crypts below the abbey.

Merenk confessed that the hallway he had hidden in lead to a false passage and not to the crypts, however there was a second way into the tower at the other end. The last cultist confirmed the fact that it was a false passage, but knew nothing of the secret door.

At sword point, Merenk led the party to the real passage, and to the first crypt. The party had learned from the captured cultist, of a trap of some type they would have to brave if they were to pass from the first crypt to the second.

While in the first crypt a brief search turned up little of any obvious value beyond a tarnished silver goblet.

With a plan in mind, the party opened the door that separated them from the trapped passages that the cultist feared. Endzique the halfling cautiously went forward to scout. He noticed an odd difference to the air - while the crypt was dry and musty, these passages were dry and smelled of earth.

It wasn't long before the trap was discovered. Hidden in beyond a somewhat narrow archway in a chamber between the passages was an animated armored guardian whose attention was now fixed on the diminutive scout. The guardian followed the retreating halfling, but refused to pursue Endzique into the crypt, instead continuing away down the right side passage.

Following the armored trap, the halfling watched as it went deeper into a seeming maze of halls. To try and lure it back, Endzique slung a stone striking the automaton. This only got it to turn it's head completely around to face him as it continued away.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A little more time off.

As you may have figured by now, I am taking some additional time away from the blog.

When I return there may also be a new writer joining the blog - CaptCorajus. I have offered him the opportunity to write occasionally. We often have different enough views on things or varied ideas, and that should lead to some good back and forth discussions.

Game on!

Monday, March 16, 2015

This Blogger is Temporarily Out of Order

I am taking a day or two off from the blog and expect to return before the weekend. Meanwhile please enjoy this picture from one of the earliest fantasy adventure movies.