Friday, September 6, 2013


I purchased the Numenera Role-playing game by Monte Cook and have been slowly reading through it.  This isn't really a review of the game but I find it to be an easy game to learn and it doesn't get bogged down in a bunch of crunchy or fiddly rules like most modern RPGs do these days.  The core rule book is a hefty 400+ pages, but the rules mechanics including optional rules are only 30 pages.  The rest cover character creation, equipment, game setting, and the bizarre technology called Numenera.

There are only 3 stats in the game, Might, Speed and Intellect.  There are 3 "character classes", the Glaive (warrior-type), Nano (wizard-type) and Jack (a kind of rogue-type class with some abilities from the Glaive and Nano, plus their own tricks.)  There is only one race, human.  There are optional rules to play 2 alien-type races and also to play mutants.

Each character type starts with a set value in each of their stats, and you get 6 additional points to divide up among your stats.  Each character chooses a Descriptor that defines the character even more (for example, Strong, or Charming, or Rugged) with bonuses to stats, skills, contacts, some hinderances and additional equipment.  Then each character chooses a Focus, which is something that makes your character unique.  These have some pretty gonzo powers associated with them, such as Bears a Halo of Fire, or Controls Gravity.

Characters advance and improve by earning XP to get to the next Tier (level) by purchasing four character benefits each of which cost 4XP. The benefits are: Increasing Capabilities (allocate 4 points among your stat pools), Moving Towards Perfection (add 1 to your Might Edge, Speed Edge or Intellect Edge.  Edge is a value that decreases the cost of points spent from pools to do certain actions or use powers), Extra Effort (increase Effort score by 1.  Effort allows you to reduce the difficulty of tasks by sending points from the pool associated with the task.) and Skills (allows you to become trained in a skill of your choice.  If you are already trained in a skill, you may become specialized in it.).  Once you advance to the next Tier, it opens up more options for your character to select new abilities and powers, in which to customize your character.

XP is earned by exploring places and discovering new things, not fighting monsters.  I think that right there is very telling of the kind of game this is supposed to be.  I'm sure people will quickly learn that if you can avoid a fight, you will be better off.  It's kind of like OD&D where XP was rewarded by treasure and not killing monsters.

And combat in this game can get real nasty.  Since your 'Hit Points' are directly tied to your stat pools, this becomes a resource you have to manage wisely.  The same pools that you spend points from to make attacks are the same that take damage when you get injured.  Once a pool is depleted to zero, you become Impaired and start taking penalties, when 2 pools are reduced to zero you are Debilitated and may not take any actions other than move.  If your Speed pool is zero, you may not move.  Once all Stat pools are reduced to zero, the character is Dead.

I have only just started to reading the setting information, which is called the Ninth World.  The game takes place on Earth a billion years from now.  In the span of that time, there have been 8 previous civilizations that have risen and fallen.  Not all of these civilizations were of human origin and the the big mystery is what happened to the humans during this time and how they returned in the Ninth World.  Nothing is known about these previous civilizations but their mark and existence is clearly evident in the world today by the remnants of their civilization in the form of the Numenera, the powerful alien technological artifacts left behind.

Reading this book has made me think about reviving my Weirdlands of Xhuul setting as being part of the Ninth World in a remote location in a region known as The Beyond.  The setting is wide open for GM's to make up their own stuff.  On the world map, there are map symbols for locations of towns, cities, ruins that are not labelled, so that GMs can detail those as they see fit.

This game might even serve as a game engine for even a Gamma World game quite easily.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pathfinder campaign on life support

It's been a while since I've posted anything to the blog.  Not much as been happening.

I managed to pick   up a new player for the Pathfinder game, but his work schedule conflicts with the Saturdays I try to run the game on.  So, I;m not sure how he is going to work out.  Another player has been difficult to reach by email or phone and I fear the worst.  It's become a little frustrating and I'm considering sticking a fork in this and doing something else.

It's amazing to me that as popular as Pathfinder has become, that I can't find 4 steady players to play on a regular basis.  I found a large, active Pathfinder Society Organized Play community, but they all seem content to just play the events and not a regular home game.  In order to fill the void, I have been playing PFS games at a FLGS that occur every other Sunday.

The last time I GM'd my Pathfinder game was several weeks ago.  There were only 2 players present and it was a role-play heavy session whereupon they were investigating some things in the aftermath of of the goblin raid in the town of Sandpoint.  I am running the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.  The new player had played part of this adventure with another group a long time ago, so he didn't want to drive the direction of the game based on previous knowledge.  Overall, they did well and sometimes I feel that even with two players, you can get a lot done in a game, especially when role-playing.  Combat, maybe not so much.  That is where you really need four players.

I do play in a Pathfinder campaign of which I am one of 6 players.  We only meet once a month to play, but we have been together as a group for almost 2 years.  We have discussed what the next game is going to be when we finish the current campaign.  I'm thinking of stepping in and offer myself as GM. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bad Dog!

So I came home from work today to discover that my dog "ate" one of my War Torn Worlds 3D terrain pieces. These are made from a recycled rubber material and are gridded for use for 25mm miniatures.  I just bought this piece about 2 weeks ago and haven't had a chance to use it yet in any games.  So friggin' mad right now.  A real capper to a week filled with rage, as if I needed more of that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We Be Goblins Minis

On Free RPG Day, I picked up a couple of the new We Be Goblins minis for Pathfinder.  I was disappointed to discover that the minis were random and each pack only contained a single mini.  At about almost $3.00 a pack, that's pretty expensive.  I picked up 3 packs, so I got 2 Goblin Dogs and Mogmurch.  Bleh.

Given the size of the set, wouldn't it have been better to package the minis similar to the Champions of Evil pack?  Like this?
That way you get all the goblins you need to play the We Be Goblins and We Be Goblins Too modules.   I guess I'll have to wait for these to hit the singles market and just buy the ones I want.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Okay, Lets Try This Again...

Pertaining to my last post where I basically </RAGEQUIT> GM-ing my Pathfinder game, the problem stemmed from a player who can be difficult to please apparently.  At the start of the campaign, I stated that I would only run the game if  I could do so in a more Old School style.  As soon as I laid down a list of house-rules, this player began his nit-picking away at them.  Instead of just going with the flow and seeing how it would play out first, he was already doing his Mr. Spock analysis to figure how this or that rule wouldn't be to his advantage.  I conceded from random ability rolls and adding back Attacks of Oppurtunity.  But that didn't seem to be enough.  One of the other conditions was that I would be using Slow XP Advancement.  After the game we played the other night he whined like a baby that they didn't level and it had already been 7 game sessions (they were about 50XP away from it and his assumption was incorrect).  To be fair I did start them off at 2nd Level.  That bit of generosity seemed to go unnoticed.  They reached 3rd Level if I recall correctly in the 3rd game session.  So it has been maybe 4 or 5 sessions where they haven't reached the next level. 

Anyway, this player also has the habit of trying to milk every bonus he can during any combat, instead of experiencing the scene more organically, it's all just cold, soul-less mechanics with this player.  There is nothing cinematic in anything he does.  It's like his character knows it is in a game and acts accordingly.  This is not the type of player I want at my table.

I contacted the other two players and have expressed that I am looking for some other players in the meantime to replace this troublesome player and when I do, I will get the game up and running again.  I did get a response back from one of them who said he was cool with it and understood where I was coming from.

Jeebus, I hate drama.

So here's to crossing my fingers and hope I can find two cool players so we can have a nice 4-player table.  Wish me luck.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pathfinder Game is OVER!

I was going to post a play report about our Pathfinder game this past Saturday, but there have been issues I'm having with the players and the game system overall.  I just feel too ham-stringed by the rules.  And by one of my player's power-gamey-ness and rules-lawyerness.

When I agreed to run this game, I knew I was going to have issues.  So I made up a list of conditions of how the game was going to be played to make feel more Old School.  Sadly, that didn't seem to happen and the players just bitched and complained about not having Attacks-of-Oppurtunity, rolling for Ability scores and now the Slow XP advancement.

So, without going into more detail, I just sent them all an email and basically said I am done being a GM for Pathfinder.  Maybe they can find a spineless GM that will cater to their sense of entitlement that the New-School Era of players are so used to.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reaper Bones Coming Soon.

I got an email today from the Reaper Bones Kickstarter wanting to confirm the shipping address before they ship me my minis.  They will be sending me a confirmation email soon.  So maybe another week or so before I get my ton of minis.  Yay!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

3-D Dungeon terrain

I took a short trip down to San Diego over the Memorial Day week-end to visit a friend of mine.  He introduced me to a friend of his who has made amazing 3-D terrain for their D&D games.  It was very inspirational.

I found a video on Youtube to make your own 3-D terrain tiles using styrofoam and so I am making this piece below.

I have it already painted in black and will be doing the dry-brushing soon.  I just want to make sure I got all the little spots still showing the white of the styrofoam covered with the black paint before moving on to the dry-brushing step.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lego Cthulhu

I used to play with Legos when I was a kid.  Looks like these sets have really evolved over the years with all kinds of interesting bricks and pieces.  And now it is to the point you can build your own H.P. Lovecraft dioramas even with tentacles!

Check out this awesome link for Cthulhu Lego awesomeness!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Blogger needs a good ass-whoopin'

How come when I log onto Blogger these days, it displays a message where the summary of blog posts that I follow that reads "You are currently not following any blogs, please use add button to add blogs to your reading list."  WTF?  I can never remember how I fixed this issue, but then it keeps on happening when I log in several days later.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Red Hand of Doom Pathfinder Game

Tomorrow I get to play (as opposed to DM-ing) in a Pathfinder campaign that is based on the Red Hand of Doom.  I'm playing a 7th Level Elf Ranger.  Our group has 6 players and we meet once a month to play the game at the local Hobby Day in Anaheim.  The gaming hall can get quite noisy with lots of other games going on such as wargames, boardgames and card games.  This is the only down-side to playing there, as it makes it difficult to hear what our DM is saying.  We have had a handful of games at one of the player's house and those have been a nice respite for our ears.

We are at the point in the campaign where we have helped a tribe of elves living in the swamp and ingratiated ourselves so well with the tribe that they have given us the use of their Giant Owls to get around the Elsir Vale quickly.  We had defeated a bunch of hobgoblins and ogres at their base located in Lake Rhest and recovered a Phylactery that belongs to an undead druid, known as the Ghostlord.  The Red Hand had apparently got possession of the the phylactery by Wyrm Lord Saavith and was placed in the hoard of his black dragon mount for safe-keeping.  We found a journal that detailed the Red Hand not wanting to reunite the phylactery with the Ghostland as that would be bad for them.

After some discussion, we came to the conclusion that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", and set on a course to find the Ghostlord in the southern Elsir Vale and see what kind of deal we could broker by giving him the phylactery in exchange for help against the Red Hand.  But before that could happen, we have been side-tracked by helping refugees fleeing from the Red Hand army and finding out that there was a Aranea spy amongst them.  We knew something was amiss when some of our party members weren't acting like themselves, and my character suspected (correctly) that one human refugee was the culprit, whom I attacked  with several rapidly fired arrows which did enough damage to force the "human" to partially drop their shape-shifted form, revealing her spider-like appearance of the Aranea.

Soon after, we had heard of a ruined dwarven fort that we wanted to investigate, as the clan is belongs to is related to a ghost of a dwarf that we had encountered in a much earlier adventure.  The ghost asked us to  deliver a journal to the clan.  The ruined fort was occupied by Ogres and we had a battle with them.  That is about as much as I remember, so we will continue from this point tomorrow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Head of Vecna

I was playing the new Neverwinter MMORPG the other day when I noticed that one of the NPC merchants in the marketplace was barking out that he had the Head of Vecna for sale.  This wasn't an actual merchant what you could buy anything from, however.  I got a good chuckle from it as it reminded me of the most awesome story I had ever heard about a DM's campaign and his two groups of rival players, involving a fake artifact called the Head of Vecna.  And it goes to show the sense of humor from the Devs of this game.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Of Sandaled Feet and Spellplagued Towers

My new blog header image is taken from the Age of Conan: Unchained MMO.  It is one of the load screen images in the game, and I feel it really exemplifies the Ale & Whores trope of OSR gaming.  I've been playing AoC for a few weeks now and I like it enough because it is free to play.  The game probably has more magic in it than the Sword and Sorcery genre typically has.  As a free player, I can only play two characters.  I made a Dark Templar from Aquilonia which is a fighter type that uses dark magic to harm opponents by draining life energy.  The other character is a Barbarian from Cimmeria.

Another computer game I have been playing is Neverwinter which is in Open Beta and will be free to play when it launches.  It is set in the 4th Edition version of the Forgotten Realms, centered on the city of Neverwinter.  Many of the game's naming conventions come from the 4th Edition D&D, but it doesn't play like a d20 game (like the old Neverwinter Nights games were).  Strangely, spells and powers are labelled as At-Will, Encounter and Daily, but this is just a distinction in at At-Will powers you spam with either your right & left mouse buttons.  Encounter powers are fired off with keyboard keys and have a longer recharge time (around 10 - 15 seconds usually).  The Daily powers are also fired off with a keyboard key(s), but you cannot use them again until you build up enough energy from attacking foes (which is represented as a Twenty-Sided Die that fills up with color).

There are a couple of interesting story arcs in Neverwinter that would make great table-top game adventures.  One is called the Plague Tower, which involves an evil wizard harnessing the Spellplague energy to open a rift to the Fear Realm in order to transmogrify into a large Foulspawn of god-like power.

There hasn't been any non-computer gaming last month.  My Pathfinder game is still going on, but April was a month of many of the players being busy with real-life matters.  So in times like this, I "run home to momma" and find entertainment in computer games to occupy me.

I tasked the players to give me more detail on their character backgrounds and some motivations in order to help me make some adventure hooks.  What they came up with initially when we started the Pathfinder Barrowmaze game was not really inspired and didn't give me much to work with.  The Barrowmaze dungeon-crawl hasn't been much for generating role-playing opportunities and surprisingly has left me, the DM a little bored.  I want to transition the game to one of Paizo's adventure paths, The Rise of the Runelords.  There is a small town featured in the "module" named Sandpoint that has lots of NPCs and opportunities for role-playing.  I purchased the new hard-cover edition of this adventure path and some other game aids, like the NPC Cards and a Flip Mat of the town square of Sandpoint to help me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Campaign Thoughts on Pathfinder Barrowmaze

The last session of my Pathfinder Barrowmaze campaign saw the death of one of the PC's, Boyd the barbarian.  We must have spent a good hour of game time with the players discussing whether or not they could afford a Raise Dead spell. The player debated whether to make a new character or not, but decided on seeing if they could Raise his character.  Making a new character would put him at least a level behind the others and he did not want to lose ground on all the XP he had gained on his just slain character.

The consequences of Raise Dead (according to Pathfinder rules) meant the player's character would have 2 permanent negative levels after being raised.  The player did not want to be brought back to life and play a gimped character, so the cost of 2 Restoration spells needed to be added.  This amounted to around 10,000 gold pieces.  And this entire process mechanically would take 2 weeks of game time.

So yes, having a character die sucks.  But I think I missed a role-playing opportunity of what instead boiled down to a mechanics discussion.  We never determined which temple they went to to get Boyd raised.  There was no role-play between any priest and the characters to determine the cost of the raise dead.  We just went through the mechanical motions of the rules to solve a situation without role-playing it.  This has been bothering the heck out of me.

The only comfort I have is that the whole process has cost the party nearly all their gold and they even had to sell a few magic items to make up the difference.  So, they have a motivation to adventure some more.

I haven't run a group through a true megadungeon before and I always wanted to.  Barrowmaze fits the bill, but there really hasn't been much room for role-playing with NPCs and there is no real plot at the moment.  I've been wanting to transition the group to the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path, and I think now is the perfect time to do so while they are in a 2 week downtime.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Petty God Submitted

Wow, this Petty Gods community project that Greg over at Gorgonmilk has decided to take over is just getting better and better.  And now with a submission from author Michael Moorcock himself!  Awesome.

So I made my submission today, which I will share below.  I hope there isn't any similarity with any other entries in the book.  Can't wait to see if it is accepted and what the illustration will look like.  I used to draw a long time ago, but alas, my skills are pretty feeble these days.

The Ghoul Queen
Goddess of Ghouls

Symbol: A gnawled bone
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120', 90' (tunneling)
Armor Class: 0
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 100 (HD: 12)
Attacks: 3
Damage: Bite (2d6), 2 claws (1d10 + paralysis)
Save: C12
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 3,600

Khorissa's natural form is that of an emaciated woman of almost skeletal countenance, greenish skin stretched tight over her bony frame and with sagging, pendulous breasts. Despite her appearance, she has supernatural strength which allows her to rend flesh with her long dirty, blood-stained fingernails and crack bones with her teeth.   She is covered with dirt, stinks of decay, and accompanied by a swarm of flies. This stench is similar to a Ghast's but is -4 to any saves to resist. The swarm of flies act to distract anyone wishing to attack the Ghoul Queen by imposing a -5 to-hit.

She may shape-change to appear as a beautiful, if pale-skinned human female with long, dark hair.  She usually takes this more pleasing form to get close to her prey before striking. In this form, she does not have her stench ability or the swarm of flies.  It takes her 1 round to change between either form.

Khorissa is usually hungry and always seeking a meal in the form of any nearby dead corpses or live prey. She does not like the taste of elves and will refuse to eat their corpses. She is worshiped by ghouls and ghasts.

Khorissa can be encountered stalking graveyards or other subterranean places where there is ample supply of dead bodies to feast on. There is a 15% chance that any PC's attacking ghouls in their warren will attract the attention of Khorissa and she will appear.

Khorissa Reaction Chart (2d6) (+4 if recently attacked/killed ghouls or ghasts)
Roll     Result
  2        Friendly: Will cast 1 Necromantic spell for the party if that will help them.

3 - 5     Indifferent: Allows PCs to leave unharmed and may answer 1 or 2 questions about the dungeon or graveyard they are in.

6 - 9     Neutral: Ignores nearby creatures.

10-11    Unfriendly: Attacks any nearby creatures unless appeased. Appeasement is usually an offering of a live victim.

  12       Hostile: Attacks any nearby creatures. Summons additional 2d6 ghouls.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Barrowmaze Pathfinder Game 7

It seems like a long time since my players and I got together to play our Pathfinder game. I believe it was January 27th was the last time we played.  February was a busy month for all of us as we each had some activity already planned.  We tried to set up a game around March 2nd, but one of the players had a stomach illness and another had taken their dog to the veterinarian to treat a virus infection.  It is a virus that isn't contagious to humans, but it can be passed on to other dogs from humans.  So my player didn't want to possibly infect my dog.  I appreciated the thoughtfulness.

So we did manage to play our 7th session of Barrowmaze using Pathfinder tonight.  At the end of last session, we froze the game in the dungeon and picked up where we left off.  The party traveled east down the corridor flanked with funerary curtains that covered the entrances to several burial crypts.  They didn't encounter any monsters, as these crypts were empty, except for a few coins and a jeweled bracelet of low worth.

Our cast of characters:

Boyd - 3rd Level Half-Elf Barbarian
Vermithrax - 3rd Level Half-Orc Cleric
Zaid Draakson - #rd Level Human Monk

The passage ended in a T-intersection heading north and south.  In the south passage there was an open 10-foot deep pit blocking the passage with continued into a chamber.  The north passage had four alcoves containing stone statues before it ended in a door.  Deciding to head north, the party investigates the statue in the first set of alcoves.  The statues appear to be of beautiful women wearing togas and bearing swords.  Boyd the barbarian notices the statue seems to be alive before it lashes out at him.  His two-handed waraxe breaks and subsequently is destroyed in the encounter.  Vermithrax's magical Undead Bane mace is also broken, but not beyond repair.  When the statue (actually a Cayatid Column) is finally destroyed, the sound attracts a rat swarm from the door at the end of the passage.  The bottom 3 feet of the door had been chewed away at some point, most likely from the rats.  The party threw flasks of oil and alchemist's fire, slowly burning the swarm.  Boyd ran up with his great-club and smashed many rats before the swarm broke up and the remain rats fled.

Investigating the room where the rat swarm came from, it contained many square burial niches, which it took Boyd and Zaid about 2 hours to search thoroughly and they found some treasure.  Vermithrax used his Mend spells to repair Boyd's greataxe and his magic mace which were damaged by the Cayatid Column.

The party then decides to head down the south passage.  They use their Rope of Climbing to descend the 10' pit blocking their path and then use it to climb up the other side.  Boyd prepares to continue when another pit opens immediately next to the one he just exited.  He jumps back, avoiding falling into another 10' deep pit lined with iron spikes and coated with a green substance.  Judging that they would not be able to cross the bottom of the spiked pit without injury or risk being poisoned, they look at their map and they believe that the chamber past the pits can maybe be accessed by going back to a section of the dungeon that looks like it might connect to it.

So the party heads back to this part of the dungeon and head up an angled hallway going northeast that ends in a door.  Boyd opens the door and a horrid stench wafts out.  Boyd gets sickened by the odor, however Zaid and Vermithrax are not affected by it.  They enter the room and find a large pile of offal, dung, cadavers, trash and other refuse inside.  They begin looking around the chamber when the pile shudders and a large creature with three tentacles, three legs and a very large mouth emerges and begins to attack.  Two of the tentacles have flattened ends that are lined with spines.  The third tentacle has several eyes set in it.  This is an Otyugh.  This was the major battle of the night that led to Boyd being killed.  Zaid and Vermithrax decide to head back to Magnimar with Boyd placed inside the Bag of Holding.  Their perception rolls weren't good enough to find the only treasure in the room (a +1 Ring of Protection).

What followed was a long discussion between the players as the best course of action.  Whether it was feasible and/or sensible to bring Boyd back to life by a Raise Dead spell and having two Restoration spells placed on him (to remove the two permanent negative-levels from Raise Dead) or roll up a new character.  Since I ruled that bringing in a new character would start at 2nd Level, the player of Boyd didn't want to have to have to spend several sessions to get to 3rd level (which is where the other two characters are at).  I'm using Pathfinder's Slow XP progression for that Old School feel.

So the players decide to get a Raise Dead spell and the two Restoration spells cast on Boyd.  This cost them around 8,000 gold pieces, which meant they practically had to sell many of the few magic items they had and almost all of their gold.  They are practically poor again.  Yippee!!!  Now they have a greater motivation to go back to Barrowmaze and replenish their wealth.  They better hope that nobody else dies, because they won't be able to afford another Raise Dead anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pathfinder Comic LotFP Cover

I haven't read comics in years, at least the dead-tree versions.  And occasionally I might read a web-comic here and there.  But today, I was browsing Paizo's website and came across the Pathfinder Comics they have for sale.  Looks like they are having fun coming up with alternative covers for the same issue, much like the collector's craze back in the '90's that really glutted the market.

But I came across this cover for their 5th issue and the first thing I thought of was "This cover wouldn't look out of place in a Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG product."  It's kind of erotic and disturbing at the same time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just A Friendly Reminder...

Lots of folks out there in the blogoverse make some cool stuff, like rules and random charts for their favorite RPGs.  They even assemble all this cool stuff into files which they upload to a site in order to share it so that others can download it.

That's all cool.

But as a friendly reminder, please upload those files to a site that doesn't require me to sign up for a membership before I can download it, or jump through a bunch of hoops to get it.  Thanks.

That is all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Greyhawk Maps Goodness

If you like nicely detailed World of Greyhawk Maps with topography, heraldry and even famous locations such as Hommlet, Nulb, and the Ghost Tower of Iverness( to name a few), then check out Anna B. Meyer's website,

She has put in years of work into these maps and they look awesome.  It appears that these maps take into account the changes in the aftermath of the Greyhawk Wars.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ernie Gygax's Fire Relief Fund

A story I discovered on Facebook.  Ernie Gygax's home destroyed by a fire and a Fire Relief Fund is currently being set up on Facebook.  Check it out here:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Fastest Bitch-Slap in the West

My brother told me about this scene in a movie I was unfamiliar with.  It is a spaghetti western called "Trinity is Still My Name".  This scene is hilarious, and is obviously sped up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lords of Waterdeep

I played this board-game on Saturday.  I'm not big into board-games, but this one was fun to play.  It is quick to learn after the first game.  This is a board game made by Wizards of the Coast.

The players take on the roles of one of the secret Masked Lords of Waterdeep (determined randomly by random draw of a card) and you keep that secret.  The game set-up is different depending on how many players there are.  Each player has a number of agents they send to various locations in the city to acquire resources such as money, buildings, get quests or influence and adventurers.  Acquiring buildings and completing quests allows the awarding of victory points.  Certain quests require a number of adventurers of a certain type (fighters, rogues, clerics or wizards) and other resources (like gold) to complete.  Most quests not only award victory points but other resources for completing them.  Quests are broken down by type (Warfare, Skullduggery, Piety, Commerce or Arcane).  Each Lord gains extra victory points at the end of the game for each completed quest of a certain type.

The game lasts until 8 turns.  At turn 5, each player receives an extra agent.  At the end of the game, each player gets a victory point for each adventurer they have, one victory point per 2 gold they have.  Whoever has the most victory points, wins the game.  There is not much in the way of outright conflict between players, much of it is trying to acquire as much resources as one can.  Once a player's agent is in a particular location on the map to acquire a resource, no other player can place their agent at the same location unless they have an ability from a completed quest that allows them to do so.

All and all a fun game that I wouldn't mind playing again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What's in the Box?

I received a package today.  So what's inside?  Let's find out!

Something from Paizo!

NPC Codex!  Can't wait to read it.

More Pathfinder Minis!

Let's open those Boxes and see what's inside!

Box #1

A Medium Water Elemental, a Skeletal Champion, a Tower Girl (a human rogue-like character), and a Large Wrath Demon.  I thought the demon was a Vrock when I first looked at it.

Box #2

A Medium Caulborn, a Large Alchemical Golem, a Small Caedimus (must be a Derro NPC in the Shattered Star Adventure Path), and a Medium Clockwork Soldier.

Box #3

A Small Mite, a Medium Cayatid Column, a Small Portioque (another Derro NPC in the Adventure Path) and a Large Troll Champion.  The Troll mini is awesome.  You can't see it in the angle of the picture, but he is clutching a bladed weapon in his right hand, with the blade facing behind him.

Box #4

A Mite mounted on a Medium Spider, Shiela Heidmarch, another Portioque (boooo!) and a Large Iron Golem.  Shiela Heidmarch is an NPC I'm familiar with.  She heads a Pathfinder Lodge in the City of Magnimar.  Could be used for a female wizard or aristocrat.

Box #5

A Medium Fire Elemental, a Hound of Tindalos (yes, from H.P. Lovecraft), a Medium Shadow Hound and a Large Fire Giant!.  The Fire Giant's sword was bent in the box.  The plastic is very soft and not as rigid as I think it should be.  The details on the Giant are awesome.

Box #6

Another Medium Fire Elemental, a Shriezyx (a Medium spider-like Aberration that regenerates, has a poisonous bite, it's webs are coated with a toxin that slows anyone touching it), a Xulgath (looks like a albino troglodyte with spots), and a Large Hill Giant (I'm going to call him Beavis).

Box #7

A Ravenous Ooze (can be used as a generic mini for any ooze monster, most likely for a Gray Ooze), another Small Mite, another Xulgath and a Large Gug! (yes, also from H.P. Lovecraft).

Last Box!

Koriah Azmeren (NPC, great-looking elf adventurer mini.  Nice details), a Hell Hound, a Catfolk Rogue (also some nice details), and a Large Guiltspur Naga!.  Below are some close-ups of Koriah and Catfolk Rogue minis.

These are some great minis.  There are some great combos you could make for Encounters such as the Fire Giant, Hell Hound and 2 Fire Elementals.  Also the 2 Mites and the Mounted Mite on the Spider would make a good low-level encounter.  I'll have to find out what some of these other monsters are by checking out the Pathfinder SRD website for their stats.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Re-imagining Gamma World

Yesterday, I posted a Pulp-o-mizer cover for Gamma World.  It got me thinking about the 1st Edition Gamma World box cover art, and how it is reminds me of a Pulp magazine cover in presentation.  Looking at it further, that evocative cover doesn't really present the contents or the setting of the rulebook inside the box.

The cover shows a group of humans wearing matching uniforms.  Most are armed with seemingly high-tech weapons and gear.  It gives the impression of a group of explorers that presumably could have landed in a spaceship and are surveying to ruins of a city.  None are wearing armor.  None are equipped with primitive weapons.  None are mutant humans or animals.

The implied setting is a future Earth destroyed hundreds of years before by some terrorist group calling itself  "The Apocalypse".  It was an Earth that had energy weapons, robots, and other wondrous technological marvels.  It always seemed to me that the designers of the game never really settled on a definite vision of the kinds of artifacts and time period in which Gamma World occurred.  Whereas the 1st Edition Gamma World boxed set presented a far future Earth with sci-fi inspired artifacts, many later supplementary products would show art-work of humans and mutants using 20th-Century 'Stop'-signs as shields, or Parking-meters as clubs or using gun-powder weapons.

Really?  You would think that in a world that had Mark V Blasters and Flit Cars, the last thing you would see is a Stop Sign or a Parking Meter.  Such things would have been relegated to obsolescence long ago.  It's just that sort of thing that makes it hard to suspend your disbelief.  The designers kept introducing 20th Century imagery into a world that was supposed to be in the 24th Century.

Oh, I suppose those humans on the box cover could all be Pure Strain Humans who are so well organized enough that they want to dress in matching uniforms and helmets.  And they all just got so lucky to have fully-functioning technological weapons and artifacts.  Maybe they are part of the Reconstructionists or Knights of Genetic Purity.  Maybe.

I think it would be a better premise to run Gamma World as a pulp science-fiction game.  The characters would not be native to the planet, maybe the survivors of a crashed space-ship.  Survivors that must now explore and learn to survive on a hostile world with radiation, mutants and crazy killer robots.  And just because our intrepid pulp-flavored PC's come from a technological society, doesn't mean they will be able to easily figure out the wondrous tech artifacts of Gamma World.  Think of how advanced the alien Krell technology was in the movie Forbidden Planet.  Even Dr. Morbius wasn't able to figure out (or even control) most of the Krell machines and he spent most of his lifetime studying them.

I think that would be much more fun than playing primitive screw-heads wearing chain-mail armor, carrying Stop-sign shields, wearing their 'No Nukes' T-shirts and armed with their laser pistol.  Or, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gamma World Pulps

There is a really cool website the allows you to create custom pulp magazine covers.  Thanks to Greg Gilespie from Discourse and Dragons blog for the heads-up.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Painting Minis

I painted some minis over the weekend.  These have been wallowing in the "to-do" list for a while to get finished painted.  These are by no means finished yet, but works in progress.  And I don't profess to be an great mini painter either.  There is a reason why have a prediliction to purchasing pre-painted plastic minis after all.

But, I'm willing to try my (unsteady) hand at it and I thoroughly respect those people who can paint their minis to look like works of art.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ramping Up the Challenges in Barrowmaze for Pathfinder

So far I have run 6 games of Pathfinder using the Barrowmaze megadungeon.  I have been running the module's monster encounters pretty much straight out of the book, with one exception where I switched out 6 Giant Centipedes for a Centipede Swarm.  That proved to create a tactical challenge for the players which isn't something that happens often with most encounters.  I think the problem is that in a standard dungeon-crawl, with 10-foot wide hallways, the combats aren't very dynamic when the players can keep the bulk of the monsters at bay, only fighting a few at a time due to the choke-points created by fighting in door-ways.

Another problem I'm now encountering is that even though the 3 characters in the game are now 3rd Level, they dish out  enough damage to instantly kill most 1 to 2 Hit Dice monsters in one hit.  This despite the fact I having decided to maximize the hit points of all the monsters after Game 3.  It makes the battles short and not very interesting, yet the players are raking in XP for what I consider to be easy combats.  The PC's are a melee-oriented group (Barbarian, Cleric and Monk) and their AC's are high (around 18 to 19).

I addressed my frustration and asked for suggestions on the Pathfinder G+ community and received some nice tips and tricks to spice up the combats.  This will require me to revamp many of the monsters in the module in order to spice up the challenge of the combat.  The fact that much of the dungeon is focused on undead monsters and they recently found a +1 Mace of Undead Bane enables the group to do much more damage to the dungeons primary inhabitants.

Some of the Ideas I received:

  • Use of incorporeal undead (i.e. Shadows).  The incorporeal ability allows the undead to only take half damage and they can pass through walls and bypass armor. Also the Strength drain from a Shadow should put some fear into them.
  • Use of energy-draining undead (i.e. Wights).  Negative levels for the win!
  • Have the standard skeletons also use ranged weapons so even though the party has the front rank pinned at a doorway engaged in melee, the remaining skeletons towards the back can still attack the party.
  • Use different types of monsters not affected by the Cleric's channel energy ability and their new Undead Bane mace, (i.e. non-undead monsters).
  • Increase the Hit Dice and abilities of the undead by applying the Advanced simple template to make them tougher.
I have about three weeks before the next game session, so I will be going through the Barrowmaze module and making such changes.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pathfinder Barrowmaze Game 6

The players couldn't all make it to the scheduled game yesterday on Saturday, so we played today.

Once again our intrepid trio of Boyd, Vermithrax and Zaid went back to Barrowmaze, continuing to seek the missing halfling Pathfinder Society member.  They have come very close to finding him back around Game 3, but then decided to explore other passageways in further sessions.  They are beginning to think this halfling doesn't really exist.

The party decided to return to the general area of where they last left off their search.  This time, while passing into the room of the gargoyle statue with the missing left arm, there were 4 Sapphire Skeletons awaiting.  The players have learned to dread these monsters, but now that Vermithrax has been given the Mace of Undead Bane they found last game, this has proved a helpful tool in dispatching them and the gems that power their magical ability to reform.

After they killed the skeletons, they decided to investigate the door on the angled northeast wall.  Boyd listened at the door and could hear whispers of a conversation in broken common mixed with animal noises seeming to be regarding the adventurers.  Boyd thrusts open the door to the room and charges in, attacking the 6 Mongrelmen within. He manages to kill one of them and the rest, surrounding him, deftly pummel him with their clubs to the point of near unconciousness (0 HP exactly). Vermithrax saves Boyd by healing him with Cure Moderate Wounds spell.  They make quick work of the Mongrelmen and one tries to escape but is killed by Boyd when it turned and tried to run.

The group decides to search the crypts to the south.  The major highlights of which are that they found the missing arm of the gargoyle statue and returned to attach it back on, upon which it's closed fist opens up to reveal a pearl.  Verminthrax detects strong transmutation magic but is unable to discern its magical properties.

They entered a crypt of 10 burial niches with skeletons in them standing at a slight reclined angle.  One of the skeletons wore a blue robe and had a blue conical wizards cap upon it's head.  Vermithrax detected abjuration magic in a scroll tube tucked in the skeleton's robe and transmutation magic in the hat.  He decides to take the two items and all 10 skeletons animate and attack.  The players were only expecting the robe-wearing skeleton to do something, not the other 9 skeletons.  So, they were a bit surprised.

The party has explored the southwest corner of Barrowmaze and are now searching the crypts east of the four-way intersection south of the Gargoyle statue room.  They killed 2 more Ghouls and 8 Dire Rats before the session ended.

The next game won't be until February 23rd as each of us have other plans on different weekends until then.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


As I'm sure many of you have heard by now, Wizards of the Coast has made available once again PDFs of their products on  There is a range of modules and rulebooks which number around 84 products, some of which are bundles of related module series. Apparently, this is the first wave of several uploads to come.  For this week only, module B1: In Search of the Unknown is free. 

I purchased the following PDFs last night:  B5: Horror on the Hill, G1-3: Against the Giants, and D1-D2: Descent into the Depths of the Earth.

One of the first modules I bought when I first entered the hobby was G3: Halls of the Fire Giant King.  Don't ask me why I bought that one instead of G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief.  I eventually bought all the modules in the series and ran my friends through them.  I was around 13 years old at the time and still new to AD&D which is the rules system I started out with.  So, the G-series holds special memories for me as a fledgling DM.

I would like to convert this over to Pathfinder, since that is the rules system I am currently using.  Pathfinder isn't my system of choice due to the sheer amount of the rules, but my players prefer it over the older editions, so I'm sort of stuck.  I'll eventually make them pay for that.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Barrowmaze Pathfinder Game 5

This afternoon we continued our Pathfinder Game in the Barrowmaze megadungeon.  The party had exited the dungeon last session back to the City of Magnimar to rest up fully from the effects of blood loss from the attacks by Stirges that had attacked them (CON ability damage).

Zaid decided to purchase Bracers of Armor +1 and a few Potions of Cure Light Wounds with his share of the loot, and Boyd purchased a new suit of Breastplate Armor +1.  Vermithrax wasn't in any dire need of anything.  I roll to see if such items are available to be found in the City of Magnimar at any given time.  Once they were done, they set off once again to Barrowmaze.

I decided to mark areas previously explored as a Grey color and mark the new areas explored in this session in a Teal color.  I figured I would eventually run out of colors for each session, so from now on as each session progresses, I will change previous sessions to grey and mark current session in another color.

They traversed the now familiar corridors and hallways towards the area they had last left off exploring, this would be the hallway south of Room 55.  Once again Room 52 continues to be the monster magnet of the Restock Table and there were 3 Zombies waiting for them.  The battle was very brief and they were able to cut through them literally.

Once the battle was over, the party continued to the four-way intersection, whereupon they could see two more Zombies that emerged from the octagonal-shaped room, which saw them and moved to attack the party.  This too was a quick battle.

The party headed south and spotted the small 5 foot wide corridor heading west with a pile of rubble that seemed to suggest that there was once a wall covering the narrow passage.  They looked through the archway where thay saw a 5 foot wide corridor that was parallel to the passage they were in.  They decided to investigate the small 5 foot passage heading west.  There they found a set of stairs leading upwards to the south.  The stairs ended after ascending 20 feet to a smooth stone surface, as if something covered it.  They found a stone plug, that when pushed in, caused the slab to move aside.  They looked into the chamber that was revealed to them, a crypt.  The slab was actually a damaged sarcophagus.  The chamber was empty of anything of value but the chamber did have a doorway that led outside.

Exiting the chamber, they discovered that this was another barrow mound south-east of the main barrow mound they had been using to enter the dungeon.  The party was quite pleased that they had discovered another exit from the dungeon, as they have constantly worried that they could be trapped in the dungeon at some point, thinking that the main entrance was the only way into Barromaze.  They surveyed other mounds from a distance and saw several, only one other had a door, but it was sealed with a stone slab.  They went back into the mound and found the stone plug that closed the sarcophagus from below the stairs and continued their exploration.  They did note that it appeared quite evident that this staircase had been used previously by someone or something else.

The party then entered the small 5 foot wide corridor that ran a length of 25 ft parallel to the corridor they were in past the open archway.  At the northern end of the corridor was a rubble pile.  Boyd decided to investigate.  Both Vermithrax and Zaid hung back.  Vermithrax just inside the archway and Zaid outside the archway in the main passage.

Suddenly a huge swarm of centipedes erupted from the rubble pile, almost covering Boyd.  Zaid, stepped back away from the archway and poured oil from a flask just outside the archway, thinking it would slow the centipede's advance.  Boyd ran down the the small corridor, back through the archway to the main passage and slipped in the oil and fell prone.  The centipedes erupted forth in a wave of stinging bites, covering Vermithrax.  Boyd rolled out of the patch of oil and dug out his flint and steel to set the oil ablaze, just as the swarm crossed the archway.  The fire had some effect, but the swarm of centipedes was still too large in number.

Vermithrax managed to get back out into the main corridor north of the swarm and tried to toss a flask of oil onto the mass of insects, but his throw was off and it landed short, splashing him with burning oil.  Boyd stood, covered in the swarm and tried to swing at it with his great-axe, but to no avail, as the mass of insects were not affected by his physical blows.  Zaid tossed a burning torch into the mass but the torch alone did nothing to them.  Boyd succumbed to the numerous bites of the centipedes and fell unconcious and was dying.  Zaid ran to his friend's side and revived him with a healing potion.  The swarm then covered Zaid and he sustained only light wounds from their bites.  Vermithrax threw another oil flask and did not connect, again only splashing the swarm.  The oil only burned for a short time, but eventually over the course of a short period, it did eventually kill the swarm.  Vermithrax used his healing powers to help his friends and suffering from the effects of the venom in the centipede bites, they decided to head back to the city of Magnimar to rest up (and level up, as this encounter was more than enough to get them to 3rd Level.).

[GM's Note: The module originally has 6 Giant Centipedes listed in this location, but I decided to change it to a Centipede Swarm.  This made the encounter much more difficult, as the swarm is immune to melee weapon attacks and the only attacks that are effective against it are area attack spells and effects (such as splash weapons from burning oil.) ]

At this point, Vermithrax's player had to leave early for a family function.  The other two players still wanted to continue playing so they loaded up on healing potions, and more flasks of oil and headed back to Barrowmaze.  This time they went to another part of the dungeon where they descended a pit trap they had sprung in Game 1 and using their magical Rope of Climbing enabled them to climb down to the bottom and up the other side safely.  The passage south bent southeast at a 45 degree ange into a trapazoidal shaped room with two doors and the statue of a demon (actually gargoyle) with a missing left arm apparently looking at were it's left hand would be.  They found no sign of the missing arm in the room they were in, and search around the statue, but found nothing of interest.  They exited through the door in the southern wall where they again were confronted by the choice of 3 separate passages heading west, south and east.  The south passage showed a doorway on the west wall and the passage continuing.  The east passage held rotted tapestries along the north and south walls spaced every 10 feet.  The west passage seemed to open up into a large chamber.  They chose the west passage whereupon they found a 30' by 110' crypt running north-south containing pillars and stone slabs each with a skeleton dressed in tattered robes laying upon them.

Zaid entered the crypt and approached the nearest slab, whereupon all the skeletons animated and began to rise.  Zaid took a swipe at the skeleton nearest him and then backed out of the room.  The skeletons ran forth swiping at the two adventurers with their bony claws.  Zaid and Boyd had an easy time dealing with these skeletons as they formed a defensive line and slowly backed their way down the passage.  Not all the skeletons could attack in so narrow a space, and those that could had many of their blows miss or deflected away with weapon parries.  After defeating the skeletons, Zaid went to the northern stone slab and search it.  He found that one of the decorative bas relief roses carved into the slab's base could be pulled out slightly, he fiddled with it for a bit before discovering that it needed to then be turned and then pressed back into the slab to open a secret compartment that revealed a mace and a set of bracers.  They took these items and began to search the other slabs.  This took over an hour whereupon a group of 7 Fire Beetles looking for food entered the crypt and attacked them.  This was a quick and easy battle and they noticed that the glands of the beetles continued to glow and give off light after death.  They harvested the glands to sell them back in the city.  They continued their search but found nothing else and so decided to head back to Magnimar to discover if the mace and bracers they found were anything special.

At this point, we decided this was a good point to stop the game as it was getting time for one of the players to go home.  The mace turned out to be a +1 Bane Mace vs. Undead.  The bracers were Bracers of Armor +1.  The players commented that was too bad that Zaid spent gold on his magical Bracers of Armor +1, when they just discovered a set as treasure in the dungeon.  Ah well, you can't anticipate everything.

Monday, January 7, 2013

This looks Badass.

I discovered this Kickstarter today on Google+, and was impressed with the concept that I just had to kick in for the game.

Kingdom Death: Monster