Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye Old Game Year, Hello New Game Year

Another year of gaming has come to a close and a new year of gaming is beginning.

This waning year our group continued my campaign and introduced my brother's campaign. We alternate running our adventures which can sometimes confuse a few of the players as to which character they are playing at a given session. My brother is doing great as DM, being a novice isn't slowing him down or dampening his enthusiasm and I am proud of how well he is taking to the job of Dungeon Master.

My Hammered Game Table is back in action, having been taken out of storage and set up at my brother's house. He and his wife have fully embraced the game and went so far as to rearrange their house to create a large gaming space to fit the 8+' x 4+' table and turned an entertainment center into storage for gaming paraphernalia.

They have also been buying miniatures, and crafting their own terrain and decor for the adventures in his campaign.

The gaming group seems to have stabilized at 7 members for the time being.

I've just introduced Federation Commander to one member of the group, but it remains to be seen if any others will take to the game.

In the coming year there is a strong possibility we will add two new players to the group bringing us back up to nine which makes for a target rich environment for the monsters.  ;)

One of the possible new member played an old school version of D&D years ago, and the other, his wife, will be completely new to role playing. This will be fun rekindling his enjoyment and sparking new interest for her.

As for my campaign in the new year, I anticipate doing more dungeon crawling and less wilderness exploration. My players have begun to show greater appreciation for indoor environments than for the great outdoors. While both are dangerous, the party has lost more characters in  the wild than in the dungeons so far.

Here's hoping your games in 2019 will be grand, wild fun.

Happy Gaming!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Magic Item: Helms of the Myrmidon

Embuk slipped quietly through the concealed doorway making his exit to safety as the mahem began. The gift of the cursed helmet went into effect as his Lordship donned it and screamed a war cry. Drawing his dagger and leaping into the crowd of sycophants the despotic Baron stabbed and slashed at his new enemies laying low several of his most loyal friends.
"To a job well done and a curse well deserved" Embuk toasted to his companions.

Helms of the Myrmidon

These cursed helmets were created to take revenge on high ranking officers of the King's defenders and given as gifts. The curse causes a berserk rage driving the wearer to see all about him as enemies and immediate threats. Victims of the curse will fight until no enemies remain in line of sight and will renew the attack upon anyone that comes into view.

Example helmet.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Magic Items on the Borderlands

Keep on the Borderlands remains a popular adventure module for starting campaigns and introducing new players to D&D. As such it contains a good variety of magic items to allow players to experience the fun these toys bring to play. Here then is a rough list of how many items of various types populate the module.

TL/DR list =

7 Scrolls, 20 Potions, 2 Wands, 3 Staves, 1 Helm, 34 Amulets, 7 Swords, 3 Spears, 2 Hand Axes, 1 Rope, 8 Armor, 6 Shields, 2 Maces, 7 Daggers, 5 Rings, 19 Arrows, 1 Elven Cloak, 2 pair Elven Boots.

A portion of the items are located within the friendly/safe Keep and are unlikely to become available to the player characters without them risking a vigorous reprisal from higher level combatants and expulsion from the only safe place to rest and recover. This includes most of the armor which seems to be all Plate Mail +1, most of the swords +1 and +2, most of the +1 daggers, and most of the +1 shields.

The amulets are mostly worn by skeletons and zombies and increase the difficulty of turning by clerics. Other amulets are Protection From Good worn by evil priests.

Two cursed items and a couple of Potions of Poison are hidden about the Caves of Chaos.

Nine Healing Potions as well as some Cure Light Wounds scrolls are available.

Four of the Rings are Protection +1.

The magic rope is an odd item to be included since it doesn't call to mind any immediate uses in the adventure, but later adventures may have plenty of opportunities to employ the rope.

If the inhabitants of the Caves put their stashed magic items to use the adventurers would face a much tougher task of clearing the caves and it would reduce the amount of available magic items a fair bit. Can you imagine an invisible Ogre surprise attack?!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Pruning the Magic Item Christmas Tree

A long lamented problem for some campaigns is the accumulation of magic items by the characters to the point where a detect magic spell would cause them to light up like a Christmas tree.

DM's being loath to take away treasured items from the player characters for fear of disappointing the players have often neglected to use the built-in mechanics of the game which serve to mitigate this issue and keep the discovery of more magic items fresh and exciting.

Items like potions and scrolls are already meant to be used once only, and charged items like wands and staves run out of power after a random number of uses. This was meant to limit power while still allowing characters special bonuses. Sadly without the risk of these items being take away through hazards, spells, creatures, or other mishaps, the players tend to hoard them for use against the toughest foes or "end bosses". With the mechanics for taking items away, there is incentive to use it or lose it and encouragement to be more liberal in use of charged and consumable items.

Among the possible mechanics in 1st edition AD&D for handling the abundance of magical treasure available in the game are spells, creatures, etc.

Spells can include Dispel Magic, and Mordenkainen's Disjunction. The former can ruin potions and temporarily disable other permanent items like magic armor and swords. The latter permanently removes all magic from items affected.

Monsters can include Rust Monsters, Caryatid Columns, some slimes and oozes, and the Disenchanter. In my opinion the Disenchanter wasn't needed and was a bandaid for a problem that shouldn't exist.

Of course hazards play their part in reducing excess magic items from play. Things like lava, acid, and the common occurrence of falls into pits or from other heights play their part; and lets not forget other spell hazards like fireball, all bring the Item Saving Throw Table into play. The last one should not be forgotten despite the possibility of slowing down play.

Playing closer to the guidelines as written would provide a way for the problem to take care of itself.

Friday, December 21, 2018

New Spell: Troubled Footfall (Curse)

Troubled Footfall

Level: 3
Duration: Permanent
Range: 10' Plus 10' per level (May be cast through a scrying device.)

Troubled Footfall is a curse meant to prevent sneaking about silently. The victim of this spell is affected each time they attempt to move unheard. The snap of twigs, crunch of leaves, skitter of kicked pebbles, thump of boot heals on stone, are all results of this curse. A remove curse spell will negate this affliction.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

New Spell: Twig (Cleric, Nature; Wizard, Illusion)


Level: 1
Duration: 2 turns (20 minutes)
Range: 10' plus 10' per level

By casting Twig the cleric or wizard causes a distraction reducing chances of being accurately tracked by 20% for the duration of the spell. The caster tosses a twig off the trail which snaps as anyone tracking nears the diversion location. It then becomes difficult to discern which direction the caster took from that point.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Lair of the Necromancer

Here are a few pictures from the lair of a necromancer the party only saw part of before retreating to safety. They were in bad shape with most of them at 1 or 2 hit points so a withdraw was the wisest option.

The lair contained the remaining cultists of the Rat God, the Necromancer, and numerous skeletons and zombies, including a number of ripening bodies in the fetid water in the lowest reaches of the dungeon. Had more than just one party member entered the place, the Necromancer would have animated the bodies in the water to bolster his already impressive force of undead.

During the confusion the necromancer would have made his escape, leaving behind 8 cultists, 4 skeletons, and 10 zombies to vex the adventurers. Treasures left behind included an apprentice spell book, several Lesser Wondrous Figurines, a talking Auguring Skull, and a journal.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

More pics from other adventure moments.

Above - A Hammered Game Table completely filled with Dwarven Forge and other scenery.

Above - A wealthy merchants veranda.

Above - The merchant's basement with secret door behind painting.

Above - Delivery for the blacksmith.

Above - Well-to-do citizens hob-nob by the cathedral clock tower.

Above - The party is surprised by an Ocre Jelly while in the sewers.

Above - The party finds a secret door in the sewers and emerges into caverns.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Isle of the Abbey part 3 - unfinished post from April of 2015

This post was meant for publication in April of 2015, but it remains unfinished and is being posted now mainly to show off the pictures of resin Dwarven Forge sets.

At the end of part 2 the party had begun exploring into the maze of passages called "the trap" and the halfling and paladin were trying to lure an armored automaton back toward the rest of the party. Their effort was failing to trap the trap.
Eventually the paladin decided to confront the automaton at the intersection of the long halls.

The paladin paused at the intersection to light a torch. Somewhere in the darkness the automaton turned around and came back to attack. This action also triggered the rest of the trap. A section of wall opened behind the halfling and through it stepped another of the metal guardians.

The party pulled together to eventually destroy the first automaton, and the wizard discovered that the bracer allowed him to halt the second automaton, deactivating the trap.

Continuing further along, they found another door like the one between the first crypt and the trap.

Beyond the door lay a passage to the large gallery of the crypts, and shrine. About 50 feet into the corridor stood a pair of doors opposite each other. To the right was a storage room of mummification supplies and to the left was a  burial chamber with a sarcophagus.

The lid to the ornately decorate sarcophagus was somewhat askew and a horrible smell emanated from within. Half climbing, Endzique peered over the edge to see a mostly evaporated thick dark liquid with a roughly man shaped lump of dessicated sludge.  Merenk, the necromancer explained that this was likely a mummification technique using seawater and sea salts, and somehow the seal had broken allowing the process to go foul.

Nobody was willing to feel about in the dank mess so they proceeded to the next small chamber. The room was filled with faded and cracked murals, but little else.

Passing beyond a narrow door, the party found themselves by a sealed sarcophagus, their meager torchlight fading in the distance of a larger room.  Edging slowly out into the wider darkness, the paladin stopped and drew his sword when he noticed a human-like silhouette in the distance.

Endzique hearing the paladin challenge the person just beyond sight, ran back the way they had come and on a hunch ran down the long corridor beyond the doors they had previously investigated. He emerged into the Grand Gallery parallel to Fairchild and could see another figure opposite himself.

Cautiously the two advanced into the gloom, discovering that they faced only statues beside a shrine composed of a silently trickling mermaid fountain. The two statues of previous Lord Navigators of the church stood silent sentinel, arms spread to their sides, holy symbols of ship's wheel adorning their vestments.

Relieved, the party chose to bypass the sealed sarcophagus and continue into a smaller chamber to the left pf the gallery.

This turned out to be another burial chamber. Within they discovered a shattered sarcophagus cluttered with mounds of rubble, and broken bones.

Archway leading onto older crypt - "Between the pilings the Grand Navigator rests, with an eternal flame to guide him home beyond the waves."

searching, found stone block dimensions of a book, pried open, delicately removed book, discovered key fits pommel lock on large sarcophagus

mummy from behind tears cultist in two (44 points damage) chaos ensues

wizard cuts necromancer free mummy takes down ranger (down to zero) people begin to flee when realize only magic is affecting it

paladin tries covering escape route, is dropped by mummy (rolls natural one on his first death save takes two failures, three inspiration from paladin and other party members used to save life)

party, much like early cave dwellers discovers new use for fire, finally drop mummy

investigate large sarcophagus and find very old man preserved perfectly under crystal clear water

pull him out, he is dry, party members involved are wet, try to wake him up, eventual success, he heals ranger and paladin

party heads to living quarters area to rest and regroup before checking tower (will they find Silas? will there be a fight? will the powerful elementalist roast the party?)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Magic Items: Lesser Wondrous Figurines

Like their more powerful cousins the Figurines of Wondrous Power, the Lesser Wondrous Figurines are approximately an inch in size and depict various creatures. Unlike their cousins these figurines vanish upon their invoking.

No command word is needed and activation is as simple as tossing the figurine to the ground.

These figurines can sometimes be found in sets, but more often are located individually.

Spider - Single target web spell, effect lasts 2 rounds.

Hound - Tracking bonus of 20%, lasts 1 turn (10 minutes).

Pigeon - Send a message as the spell.

Mole - Digs a 10' by 10' hole in earth, does not affect stone.

Frog - Gives a bonus of 5' to a single jump attempt.

Minnow - Provides water breathing for the user for 5 rounds.

Chameleon - Gives user a bonus of 10% to hide for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Squirrel - Climbing bonus of 50% for one attempt.

Ferret - Dodge bonus to armor class of +2 for one combat.

Bat - Night vision for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Bee - Anti-venom bonus to saves vs poison of +2 for 5 rounds.

Butterfly - Provides a +2 bonus to Charisma for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Stirge - Heal 1 hit point.

Chicken - Flutters to the ground becoming a days rations.

Fox - Gives a 10% bonus to listen checks for 5 rounds.

Deer - Increases movement speed by 20 feet for 5 rounds.

Sloth - Slows a single target as spell for 2 rounds.

Snake - Fear as the spell for 1 round.

Pig - Cases a single target to drop held items.

Ant - Reduces encumbrance by 1 category for 1 turn (10 minutes).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

More Scenery

This time I was playing around with the Erinthor Mountain pieces from Dwarven Forge and a Balrog tea-light piece, using an LED flashlight for more oomph.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Magic Item: Blindfold of Seeking

"I know the door is here somewhere", Rillek grumbled.
"Maybe this will help", offered Embuk, passing a blindfold to his companion.
Rillek stared at the offering, "Very funny, Embuk, quite the joke.
Looking wounded Embuk coughed "Just try, the blindfold helps locate concealed things".
Taking the blindfold Rillek put it on and almost immediately gasped when he spotted the door behind the tall portrait of the Count. "Maybe he's hiding back here".

The Blindfold of Seeking provides a 20% bonus to spotting concealed and secret doors. When worn nothing else can be seen.  The power of the blindfold can be called on 3 times per day for 1 round each time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter 7: Some Early Beans

It appears the gang at Dwarven Forge have a good head start on designing the next Kickstarter project for the coming year.

Quoting Stefan Pokorny on Thanksgiving:

"BEANS: Yes, more Wilderness! And also some attention to City Builder and Castles! As I am designing all the interiors for Castles, Inns, Forts, etc, that will appear in the MYTHRAS Sourcebook I am getting frustrated with what I can do with the interiors, where I put corridors, how to configure the insides of houses and Castles . . . so Nate and I (and the team) are working hard to add the interiors of all these structures! Secret Doors! Tudor 2" x 4" style, 2" x 2" spiral stairs, smaller spaces (closets) garderobes, and more . . . so when the Mythras Sourcebook comes out you will be able to build to exact specs the Castle of Valoria! (Castle Crag), Temple of Khrom, Gold Coin Inn, Red Beards Tavern, etc."

I must admit that I was hoping for something different, but with my non-existent budget this might be a much needed break from the yearly struggle to participate. There will definitely be things I will want, but nothing yet that is likely to be a must have. We can only wait and see what surprises DF will have in store for us all next year.

If I had the budget I would like to see some additions to Sewers, Catacombs, cathedral, graveyard, and mausoleum.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter 6: Caverns Deep - Afterthoughts

As mentioned in the previous post, lack of motivation sapped my interest in posting to the blog, even about things I would normally enjoy discussing. That includes this years DF Kickstarter which normally would have been the topic of several posts before and during the event. Here are some thoughts about how it went.

The project end with a total of over 3.3 million dollars and over 3,000 backers. Included in the themes for this year were caverns in standard color and Underdoom paint, crystal caverns, ice caverns, and the new outdoor terrain Dreadhollow Forest.

Variety seems to have been the objective this year, not only in themes, but in piece types. Multi use pieces called trifecta pieces are part of just about every encounter option in the project except for the forest. Diagonal walls and swell walls are also a major addition and enhance builds that can be created with the cavern pieces from the Kickstarter 2 Cavern sets allowing for more natural shapes to your layouts. The mix of shapes is impressive. Sadly getting enough of particular pieces is a costly endeavor.

Every year the designs get more detailed, and more complex which drives the prices higher. Increased inclusion of magnets, metal, and LED features (some that can change colors through use of a remote control) also factors into the price inflation. As a collector I love the bling, but as one of many with low or no budget, it seems that the idea of making Dwarven Forge terrain more affordable to a wider audience has been forgotten.

Too many themes being presented contributes to a paralysis when trying to decide on what to buy and what to skip, hoping to pick them up later through the web store. Trying to get some of everything leads to "feeling like butter spread over too much bread". I imagine people new to DF terrain get migraines trying to figure out how to maximize versatility while having variety.

Since I don't want to sound like a Negative Nelly, let me state that I love what I saw offered in this Kickstarter and if I had a budget this year as in previous years, well, my participation would have run pretty deep.

The new forest terrain is gorgeous. The modular trees and depth of detail left many wondering if the factory would be able to match what the very talented crew of artists have created. So far the painted prototypes coming back from the factory indicate that they indeed are up to the task. A full set of the Dreadhollow Forest (painted) runs about $900, and if you want greater table coverage the cost climbs from there, especially once you include the extra items that were added during the pledge manager phase. If you want incredible looking wilderness terrain you can't beat this set.

 The cavern pieces are also quite lovely. The attention to detail and to grand elevation pieces really defines these sets as among the best work Dwarven Forge has created. The artists involved deserve high praise.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Don't Bring Me Down

I was reluctant to address this topic on the blog until now. My frequent and prolonged absences are due to depression sapping my motivation. Currently I have motivation to blog again and need some input from readers for ideas to write about.

Please offer up some topics you would like my opinion or insight about and I'll see what I can come up with.

Thank you.