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.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Model Railroad Level Dwarven Forge Obsession

I admit it, I am addicted to most things Dwarven Forge. I have been this way since first encountering it while working at a distributor of collectibles in the late nineties and early two-thousands. Back then, and for some time afterward, I could not afford more than an occasional purchase and often had to chip in with other buyers to get portions of sets. The recent three Kickstarter campaigns have not helped ease this affliction and affection for adventure terrain.

My collection is much smaller than most of the regulars on the Dwarven Forge forums, many of whom buy 3 or more sets of every resin offering released by Stefan and crew. It also lacks some of the resin sets, Woodland and Lava, come immediately to mind. Still, over time my collection has grown.

Even with a fairly large collection available for use, I still enjoy mixing mediums. I routinely employ a battle mat along with the DF pieces, and have used many other props and non-DF terrain in combination.

I am considering purchasing some city terrain from Fat Dragon Games to flesh out scenes, limiting the DF City Builder items to the foreground immediate use area, while the card stock terrain sets the background imagery. Just like model railroad layouts, the viewer can be convinced of the depth of setting with less expensive materials in the distance while their vision is focused on where the action is happening.

My reasons for thinking of not getting very deep into the Dwarven Forge City Builder sets includes space and cost, and my three existing resin sets of DF MBS accompanied by accessories. Here are a couple of photos taken by a friend, of a past setup of mine.

 You can see the rest of the adventure layout pictures at this link.

Meanwhile, I'll be watching the current Dwarven Forge Kickstarter with interest, and will definitely be thinking about drooling over the new DF sewers.

Is there a 12 step program for Dwarven Forge terrain addicts?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Prop Dusting - Toobs Horses

Finding horse miniatures to compliment the fantasy miniatures can be somewhat difficult at times. One solution is to look in children's toy stores for the Toob collections. They have tubes of animals, dinosaurs, etc. I was fortunate enough to find one just of various breeds of horses that work well with the 25mm miniatures.

Figures shown to illustrate how well these horses match the 25mm scale. Undead included because it is International Be Kind To The Un-Living Week (somewhere, maybe).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dwarven Forge City Builder Kickstarter

Here we are, a handful of days into their third Kickstarter and Dwarven Forge is closing in on the one million dollar mark. If my guess is right, the funding should surpass that number on the coming weekend.

At the time I write this on Wednesday evening, there are 1725 backers and over $885,000 in the pool.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Follow-up on XP in Escrow

Here's the thing, as a DM, I wouldn't give full experience for the Lich and Death Knights in the latest example. They would have an xp value as challenges when the situation is overcome unless actually engaged, and creative solutions (or funny ones) would earn a bonus. Regardless, the 5E advancement is off-the-charts too rapid.

I seem to recall Mike Mearls or one of his team at Wizards of the Coast, mentioning alternate charts that would be in the DMG. They have since stated that quite a bit had to be cut from the book before release, and I can only surmise the alternate charts were cut.

I imagine working out an experience advancement table wouldn't be that hard to do, it's the getting the pacing right that is the tougher part. And if I really wanted to as DM, I could just tell the players when to level. I much prefer tables, probably for the sense of reward I get from it as player and DM.

When I return to running Ptolus, I expect to have put together an advancement table more to my liking, that gives everyone time to explore the setting before being too powerful for almost everything.

Keeping the change simple is important. Considerations include changing just the advancement table; reducing the experience awarded for combat; figuring out a way to convert to xp for treasure with drastic reductions in creature xp value, etc. I'm currently leaning toward just the first option. This is something the players will be consulted with for input and ideas.

More time is still needed DMing the game before I feel ready to offer up additional house rules.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

XP in Escrow

One of the things I am finding annoying in 5E is the level advancement table. It is just too fast for my tastes. I'm a believer that players should have time to experience and develop their characters at each level, and as a DM I like being able to make use of the great number of things available for characters to encounter appropriate to each level to build an early sense of wonder.

I have some other beefs that are waiting their turn to be discussed as well, however, this time it is the rapid rocket level advancement.

To give you an example from play in CaptCorajus' game, here is what the party has either defeated directly or avoided intelligently (both should provide experience points), in  recent play:
Lich (CR21) = 33,000 experience
Death Knight x2 (CR17) = 18,000 xp each = 36,000 experience
Iron Golem (CR16) = 15,000 experience
Minotaur Skeleton (CR2) = 450 experience
Skeleton Archers x12 (CR1?) = 200 xp each = 2,400 experience
Flaming Skeletons x2 (CR3?) = 700 xp each = 1400 experience

So, guesstimates totaled = approximately 88,250 xp divided by 4 characters is 22,063 experience each.

The party had been blowing through levels fast, but now we would nearly double our xp total and that would have landed at 48,563 (49,563 for the dwarf), which would blast us over 8th level and into 9th level. The Capt only allotted us 6,000 each which puts us below 8th level. 

The experience awards seem higher than they should be, and when combined with the level advancement requirements (300 points to get to second level?!).

I'm sure there are better ways to to handle xp and advancement that can be whipped up for home games.

Meanwhile, that leaves us with the question: Are we collecting interest on the xp sitting in escrow?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lich In A Box

CaptCorajus' game turned into a life or death puzzle this session.

As you may have read in the last session report, the party fought off an iron golem and then rested before trying to open the next puzzle door. It then turned into a laugh riot for Chuckles the Bone Boy while we worked out the puzzle and unlocked the door.

Beyond the door was another set of stairs downward. Which the party was cautious about descending, all while Chuckles taunted from his undisclosed location.

Dividing the grand hall of a crypt was a wall flanked by two sets of portcullis. Behind them were a dozen skeleton archers, which once we figured out how to attack them and suffer minimal damage (poor wizard got hit with arrows from skeletons with held actions), the party destroyed a few and learned that their owner is dedicated to recycling. The skels were reconstituted and returned to the firing line.

We decided to explore the side crypts before dealing with the recycling issue. In those crypts we discovered areas that still remained consecrated, and uncorrupted by CtBB's evil. If we needed a rest (and we soon did) we could find relative safety there. 

In one we discovered an animated heroes sword and in the other a well of holy water. (Again, where is a stone bucket when you need one?). Eventually the sword would be used as a key to get us past the portcullis's and Roysen turned most of the skeleton archers. Torul moved near the reconstitution circle the try and keep things tied down so the rest of the party could come on through.

Having gotten into the back half of the grand crypt, Sophia discovered the lever that could shut off the factory that kept pooping out undead assailants. Thankfully it worked well because it was getting nastier with the crap it was sending the party's way. The last new undead was a minotaur skeleton with a huge axe. The switch not only stopped production, it caused existing ones to vanish. Sophia found this amusing and for a moment or two played with the switch. (Skels on/Skels off).

This did not amuse Chuckles the Bone Boy so he sent two flaming skeletons to give the party a warmer welcome. Fortunately Sophia had an Ice Storm to drop on them and that was that. The party broke the power system before more of those anorexic arsonists could be ported into the room.

It was off to the deeps of the crypts and soon to a face to face with Bone Boy himself.

Descending the stairs led into a long hallway lit by flickering glyphs moving from the stairs to a distant door and starting over, and over. Note: the d6 represents the Guardian of Faith Roysen had cast when we rested by the holy water well.

The door was carved to appear like an angel of the good faiths, though over time had become worn. Roysen figured around a thousand years. Mulva, the ever reluctant, was finally cajoled into examining the door for a mechanism to open it. She located a button hidden in the detailed carving, and refused to be near the door when eventually Torul and Roysen did the job.

Hello Chuckles!

Valendros the Wicked rose from his throne and stepped to the edge of the dais. "Come in" he laughed. His ancient, wrinkled, undead form was resplendent in robes as new looking as the day they were made. (Ah Ha! He does buy new on occasion! Faux hipster biatch!)

Roysen sent his Guardian of Faith forward and it ceased to be as it crossed the threshold. That gave the group more than enough reason to hang back in the hallway. (CR 21 Lich, damned right we were hanging back! CtBB has Legendary AND Lair actions with which he could swat the group to death in a single round.)

Conversation and repartee confirmed for us that this former Set worshipper had changed allegiance over to Orcus in exchange for becoming a lich, and after a millennium of running rampant in Traladar (our original neck of the woods) the immortal he betrayed put him in this cage and conveniently provided the tools to finish the bugger off for those canny enough to learn the means.

During the talk, the party was given a "gentle" coaxing to enter the room with the captive and not too happy lich, by the appearance of two Death Knights blocking our exit and advancing slowly. (Two CR17 heavy hitters either one of which could vaporize the party by launching a necro-fireball.) 

That is when the session MVP, Roysen, locked the group in with the lich and away from the death knights by casting a spell of shaping stone to put a 5' thick wall between us and them. There seemed to be a possible flaw in the plan, as in, only exit, however, maybe destroying Chuckles would get us a safe way out.

Torul broke open a canopic jar on a hunch and located a beating heart and after killing it, he found three arrow heads of obvious power. Roysen bashed open a treasure chest to spill thousands of platinum to the floor. (What the fark were you thinking! We could have carried that loot out!)

Eventually our recalcitrant halfling was cajoled into using the arrowheads and shooting the phylactery, destroying it. Good thing she hit on the first shot since Torul and Roysen had just released the lich thinking that was required for the arrow to reach the phylactery. Close call.

You'd think that being the Chosen One of Set she would have happily done in Valendros the Betrayer, but we had to bully her into taking this crusty cadaver of evil down for good. Torul hates having to bully the halfling because he absolutely despises bullies. He ends up angry and down on himself each time. Eventually Mulva may drive Torul to commit acts of great evil, which being the Chosen One of Set, may be her true purpose all along.

The Phylactery and throne exploded, destroying Valendros and sending reverberations throughout the dungeon. Quakes shook the tombs, and all undead in the region ceased to be and the party was able to break free of the stone wall. It was now a race to escape the crumbling ruins, back to the surface and help from the beastmen.

In their escape Torul managed to scoop up about 300 platinum coins out of the thousands scattered on the floor. Thousands of platinum coins, spilled, by the dwarf.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


I have been hit by a storm of pain this week. A cold with sore throat is the minor part of it. Neck and back pain with pain shooting down my legs, combined with intestinal cramping have really capped off a miserable week.

I had intended to finish building out the dungeon my group are presently exploring and writing up the latest bit of the game. No joy on that front.

To at least try to make up somewhat for the delay, here are some pictures of more of the structure.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Two Days Remain Before Doom To Your Wallet 3

The third Kickstarter from Dwarven Forge launches in just two more days.
This still is from what I suspect is the video for the Kickstarter. I have no answer regarding what some have called a Dachshund pelt over Stefan's shoulders.  ;)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

EN World is back.

It appears that some folks were having the issue, not everyone, and that EN World is still doing fine. Explanation at the link.

Here's a brief quote - "You may be seeing a domain landing page instead of the site; the whole of Cyberstreet (where the server, along with Circvs Maximvs, is hosted) appears to be doing the same thing."

What happened to EN World?

I used my usual link to go there and got the above page. I followed up by using a Google search and still no joy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dwarven Forge Game Tiles Kickstarter 3

Just five days left until round three of "Doom To Your Wallet" gets underway.

On March 8th Stefan and the fine folks at Dwarven Forge launch their third Kickstarter. The previous two brought in two million each. It will be interesting to see how this one does with many people's wallets still smarting from last year. At least the DF guys time this for tax season so returns can be spent on their amazing terrain.

This year it looks to be city streets, sewers, roofs for the Medieval Building set, and maybe city wall sections. That's a lot of different themes in one go, so perhaps we're seeing some from this year and some from a future Kickstarter in the teasers on the Dwarven Forge forums.

Here are two images to wet your appetite.

Wait till you see the painted prototypes.

My main beef with what I see here is the raised edge in the sewer next to the walkway. In reality that would result in a submerged walkway covered in all sorts of nastiness and the gutter below only receiving overflow until the walkway became packed enough for waste to flow over and down where it belongs. I would prefer that edge to be flat and flush with the walkway. I guess it is a good thing that this is all made for fantasy gaming!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Wow Factor

Saturday was the first opportunity to run a game on the new table. We didn't have a full group due to the usual scheduling snafus, but for those that did turn up, the custom Phoenix table was a big hit. They became even more impressed when I turned on the under-lip lighting.

I didn't have enough energy to prepare the entire dungeon using Dwarven Forge Master Maze and Game Tiles ahead of time. I will post a write-up of the session soon and will try to reconstruct the full dungeon to accompany the write-up. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures showing a mix of DF and a battle mat.