Monday, 31 December 2012

Men of the Cloth

I managed to finish off a few more fantasy miniatures today. The rain stopped me going out again, so out came the brushes and paints instead. These four clerics are all old Citadel I think from a variety of ranges from the 80s...

I decided to go for a brown and red colour scheme for them all to represent mud and blood. I don't know why I decided on that scheme, it just popped into my mind at the time I started to paint them. I am not too keen that the figures have been scuplted with overtly Christian iconography because I would have preferred to have been able to use my own religious symbols. First up is a male cleric in full armour...

The second figure comes from a slightly later range. Again he seems to be in pretty much full armour, so in my mind would represent a successful (meaning high level) adventurer.

I thought I would show off the shield design on the above cleric as it creates a dichotomy - Christian cross on his breastplate but devils on the shield of the same figure. The heavy dry-brushing I did on this shield looks much better in real life than in the photo below - there is a lot more shade in the recesses. I also wanted to show just how much work some of the earlier old skool sculptors could put into their miniature making if desired.

Third up is a female cleric. She only has maille beneath her surcoat, so I see her as a lower level ecclesiastic adventurer. Again she is covered in crosses (on the surcoat and on the shield)...

This figure was used as one of my earliest player characters when I played AD&D back in the late 70s and early 80s. She was called Ennericca and reached the heady heights of 13th level. The colour scheme she used to be painted in was purple and white, but I didn't feel taht really fit in with my revamped fantasy world, so I got out the paint stripper and repainted her to match. I have also renamed her slightly, she is now known as Anna Reikhardt - a high-priestess of Sol Invictus, as part of a world redesign and rebirth.

I think this is just about it for figure painting for this year - a rather disappointing tally to be quite honest. I will write a summary of my gaming achievements of 2012 and a summary of aspirations for 2013 tomorrow in my first blog entry of the new year.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Lullingstone Roman Villa

It was a bright, sunny day today here in the wilds of Kent, so I gathered up the tribe to repel those Imperialistic Roman invaders. As the fortresses around here are a bit beyond the ferocity of even my tribe, it was decided over the plum duff to take in force one of the local villas. We pored over the map for indications of weakness and planned our attack with precision...

We would head for Lullingstone Roman Villa located in Eynsford, Kent.

We haven't had a day out with the kids in ages, and as the sun was shining today (we have had solid rain for the last week and a half) we decided to head on out for a bit of fun and education. I have been to this villa on several occasions and many years ago, on its grand re-opening, I was invited along with the rest of my archaeological research group to a cheese and wine party.

It is a grand villa with a very fine central mosaic (part of which is shown above). The new(ish) display hall has plenty for the kids to see and do, and kept my lot entertained for an hour and a half - not bad considering my youngest is only 3. The gift shop has been revamped and includes lots of goodies, so we were able to grab a handful of cakes on the way out for chomping in the car on the way home. I also picked up a bottle of plum wine and spelt beer to have with my cheese, biscuits and pickles tonight whilst slumped in front of the TV - heaven!

Citadel Space Santa

"When Santa got stuck up the chimney ... "

Here is another view of the old Citadel Space Santa that I posted up on Christmas Day. I have rebased him in the same style as my other slotta-based sci-fi miniatures (not that I have that many).

I still have a couple of other sci-fi minis to paint, but they will have to wait until later in the year next year. I doubt I will ever get to play with these minis as they either do not fit into any existing canon or I just have too few to do anything with them for Warhammer 40K and such like. That may change if I start playing sci-fi tabletop battles again but that is not very likely - unless there is a sci-fi HotT variation out there that I can use?

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Well, I finally got around to seeing this film yesterday afternoon with a couple of the kids, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised despite some fairly negative comments I have seen on the net.

Picture courtesy of Google Images

I felt it stuck to the book reasonably well, with a few diversions that fit into the canon (welcomed) and a few that did not (mostly they worked well). I especially liked the ways in which PJ got around the fact that in The Hobbit some of the animals are able to talk, but in the film he has made it that they do not - thus the (re-)introduction of a couple of deus ex machina to resolve the issues.

Many critics have said that the intro and meeting at Bilbo's hobbit hole dragged, but I found I enjoyed the slow build up without it dragging at all. There is a fair bit of light heartedness and the singing was actually good for the film - I am also happy to know the tune that was set to the songs in the books, so I can sing along with them (in my head) the next time I read them. They did not detract from the film IMHO - the Hobbit was a kids' book afterall and should be light hearted and full of song and cheer; plenty of time for it to get darker and match the tone of LotR later.

There have been a few new characters introduced, but none too obscure to detract from the film, and a few removed. I feel that Azog is going to be a recurring baddie (as opposed to, IIRC, his son Bolg in the book) - hopefully more use will be made of him than was Lurtz in the LotR films. Azog reminded me very much of the lead "zombie" in I Am Legend. Perhaps PJ changed the amount of characters to make things flow a bit better so as not to confuse the audience who have not read the books with too many adversarises that would otherwise just blend into one another anyway.

A few scenes from the book have been amended slightly for the film but the outcomes were still the same. There are a few new scenes too, but without going into too much detail only one didn't work for me - a chase involving Radagast the Brown - but the rest of his role as the bearer of ill tidings fit in nicely. There are glimpses of what is still to come in the next two films too.

My favourite aspects of the film, other than a reasonably good rendering of the book, are the mounted elves (awesome), the hunter orcs and dire wargs (brutal), and the fact that the animals do not speak (although I suspect Smaug will be a speaker - but maybe/hopefully by some form of telepathy?)

As we walked out of the cinema both of the kids said they couldn't wait for the Blu-Ray version, and have since said they want to go to see it again. I am more than happy to oblige them.

My wife, who is not at all into fantasy or sci-fi stuff, has said she will take a trip to see it on the feedback she has had from us all. Previously, she has fallen asleep during LotR and a variety of other sci-fi films I have taken her to see, but I think she may just stay awake for this one. She may have started to see the light when it comes to sci-fant films after being subjected to the first of the Alien and Predator films during the Christmas break, and saying that she actually enjoyed them!

From a gaming perspective, there are a few battle scenes that can easily be recreated on the tabletop, and seeing the miniatures released by GW, the whole film will be easy to recreate - although where I am going to get several hundred goblins on the cheap I do not know :-)

Overall, I would give this film about 8.5 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was, and it was actually better than I anticipated. Now to get on and paint those figures I bought just before Christmas so I can plan an Escape from Goblin Town.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas...

Thursday, 13 December 2012

All Flesh Must Be Eaten : a one off adventure

All Flesh Must Be Eaten: 12th December 2012

There has been a bit of a break from our usual adventures in Ravengro recently due to a variety of real-life commitments affecting some or all of the players over the last few weeks. Tonight, three of us turned up anyway to play a game put on by another DM who had a few places available at his table. This is a one-off adventure based in the modern day - a zombie apocalypse game I have not played before. The game plays well and is both fast moving and highly exciting. Trying to play to as many cliches as possible, we all had a load of fun with this one. Thanks go out to Gary for putting this on for us.

The Survivors
Cpl. Masterton – Soldier from out of town
Officer Gabriel – Local law enforcement officer
Harry – Local detective
Tom – Video store clerk
Dawn – Out of town reporter
The Doctor – English scientist abroad
Norman – Computer Hacker
‘Mad Dog’ – Local biker and garage owner

Riverside, WA, USA (Wednesday 12th December, 6:03am)

“… urther news from upstate Washington on this cold and icy morning. It seems that there has been an influx of wolves into the town of Riverside over the last few weeks. Professor Romero of Seattle State University has put this down to the sudden cold snap descending upon their usual hunting grounds and forcing them to scavenge further afield. The army has been called in to take care of the situation but all has gone quiet over the last few days. We have been assured that local residents have nothing to worry about. We have sent in roving reporter Dawn Haven to investigate. We have heard nothing back from her just yet, but she should have arrived in town late last night and we should get our first live broadcast, weather permitting, later on this morning.

Now it is over to Stuart for the weather. It is due to remain cold but clear tod …”

“Goldarn it”, cursed Tom, the video store clerk as he rolled over in his warm, cosy bed and switched off the alarm clock radio. “I just knew those soldiers were here for a reason.”

He crawled out from under his duvet and sprinted to the shower, his breath trailing as small puffs of heat as he huffed in the coldness of his room.

The shower warmed him through thoroughly but he spent too long in there and found that he would be late for work if he did not get his skates on. He grabbed a few mouthfuls of last night’s lukewarm coffee that was still on the percolator and got his scarf on before making his way out of the door towards George’s Pancake House for breakfast.

Lower 3rd Street, 7:12am

Making his way to the pancake house, Tom heard a bit of a ruckus going on. He noticed that the local law enforcer, Officer Gabriel, was in a heated row with one of the soldiers mentioned in the news story and the local troublemaker Mad-Dog. As he approached the scene of the argument he noticed that a few more of the local citizens had come out of their homes to see what was going on. As he got closer he began to see why things were becoming heated; the ground all around them was covered in blood. The lawman insisted everyone should stay calm and return to their homes, but the soldier, a Corporal Masterton insisted that everyone, including the officer, needed to leave the scene for their own safety and security. Mad-Dog was just there for the fight.

A crowd of about eight people were milling around just as the local scientist known by Tom as The Doctor (after his own love of the British Sci-fi series Doctor Who) picked up what looked like a severed human hand from under a parked vehicle. It was at this point that Tom decided it best if he started to shoot this on his camcorder as it looked like things were starting to turn interesting. Everyone had started to talk at once and the argument became more heated until Officer Gabriel let off two shots that shut everyone up pretty quickly.

The Doctor looked at the hand, aided by his two friends Tom and Norman (the guys he played D&D with every Wednesday evening over a few beers) and came to the conclusion that it was indeed a human hand that had been ripped from an arm by a fearsome force and then worried at by teeth that did not look like they belonged to a wolf as everyone was suspecting; in fact they looked decidedly too similar to human bite marks! This set everyone panicking again and Tom started quoting zombie lore from all of the films he had been watching recently (working at the video store meant he could watch as many as he wanted whenever he wanted, and boy did he watch videos).

Officer Gabriel requested that Cpl. Masterton inform his superior officer about the situation whilst he tried to call in backup from out of town. Cpl. Masterton ambled off in search of his colleagues just up the road and the lawman went to his patrol car. He tried the police radio but only encountered static. He then tried his mobile, but could get no signal. Finally, he decided to rejoin the small party back at the crime scene, but only after retrieving his shotgun and spare ammunition from the trunk of the car.

Corporal Masterton returned to inform everyone that his entire squad were missing from their tents and there was blood everywhere around the camp. Everyone started to shout all at once, many in fear of what was happening and others in trying to find out what the authorities were going to do about it.

The sound of the old World War Two siren by the Town Hall pierced the morning air, causing everyone to quieten down quickly. Officer Gabriel told everyone to return to their homes immediately whilst he went to investigate what the meaning was. He hadn’t taken two steps before everyone else had joined the huddle behind him and followed directly in his tracks.

The Town Hall, 7:37am

The group of townsfolk arrived at the Town Hall only to find the front doors swung wide open. It was dark inside but faint scratching noises could be heard coming from deep within. Corporal Masterton, taking control of the situation un-shouldered his assault rifle, primed it for action and switched on the torch over slung on the barrel. Tom, still filming the scene, followed closely behind him to get the best shots possible. The rest of the troop followed on in a gaggle.

A trail of blood led from the door, past the benches dimly illuminated on either side of the main hall, to a pile of intestines in the middle of the floor. With a yowl, a fluffy white cat ran from under the benches and through one of the back doors leading off the back of the room. Detective Harry yelled for someone to grab the cat as it was the main lead in a case he was trying to crack. No-one took any notice and let the cat go. Footprints, most likely those from a large canine, could be seen within the vicinity of the viscera leading off to the other one of the end rooms of the building.

After spending several minutes trying to piece together the clues given up by the body parts, Corporal Masterton took the lead and re-settled his assault rifle into the crook of his shoulder. Tom and Mad-Dog advanced close behind, loosely followed by the rest of the crowd. The sounds of snuffling and scrabbling became louder until the door was nudged open by the toe of the soldier’s boot. The bark of the assault rifle was loud in the small room, and the panic caused by the sudden shock caused both Tom and Mad-Dog to open fire with their handgun and shotgun respectively. All three shots hit but the wolf just turned towards the shooters with a snarl on its half-rotted face illuminated by the half-light of the open window and leapt out of it in a single bound. The sight of the half-eaten corpse of the mayor on the floor caused a riot and everyone started to scream in fear and shock.

After a few seconds of pandemonium, Mad-Dog yelled for everyone to be quiet. The volume was cut immediately and in the silence scrabbling noises could be heard coming from upstairs. Officer Gabriel decided to take charge again and suggested some people should investigate the noises upstairs whilst others tried to find a light switch to get the place illuminated. After seeing the monstrosity that had leapt out of the window, Cpl. Masterton took it upon himself to start closing any windows on the ground floor that were still open, starting with the one in the back room. After they were closed he then started to rather inexpertly try to barricade them too.

One up, one down (8:11am)

Mad-Dog, Tom, Dawn and private detective Harry, in the hope he may come across the cat again, headed up the stairs to investigate the scrabbling noises. They entered a landing area with a locked door at each end. The scrabbling sound came from behind the door closest to the head of the stairs. Mad-Dog barged the door open and levelled his 12-gauge at 7 year-old Sarah from down East 17th. Dawn shouted not to shoot the girl that was cowering behind the overturned filing cabinet and went forward to comfort her. With a snarl the girl lunged for her, her hanging entrails leading to the puppet-master’s clutches; a heavily decayed corpse with its hands within the child’s eviscerated body. Dawn just managed to leap backwards in time to avoid the shot from Mad-Dog’s shotgun. Blood and bone flew everywhere. The cadaver behind the filing cabinet rose to its full height but it too was blown away by the combined might of Mad-Dog’s shotgun, and Tom and Harry’s handguns.

Meanwhile, downstairs, The Doctor and Norman had headed down the wooden ladder to the switch room. They slowly descended into the darkness when suddenly Norman slipped on the bottom rung, snapping it in two. The Doctor made his way down carefully after asking if Norman was OK. The noise though had disturbed the silence down in the room. Sparks started to erupt from the breaker board and a faint scrabbling could be heard in the darkest corner. Frightened but unperturbed, the two intrepid adventurers proceeded towards the fuse box, when suddenly shots could be heard coming from upstairs. A hand lunged out of the darkness. Without thinking Norm levelled his handgun and opened fire. The Doctor, whose only weapon was a flare pistol he had in his coat pocket from the fishing trip he took a few weeks previously, also let loose, setting the rotting corpse’s clothes on fire. The corpse started to spin around rapidly, bumping into the walls and filing boxes, upturning them all and setting them alight. The fire spread rapidly through the room and forced the two townsfolk back up the ladder

Officer Gabriel, now left on his own, decided to follow the party that headed upstairs, his authority well and truly undermined. Gunshots sounded from above and a few seconds later from below. Confused, he stuck to his first thoughts and went where the most noise was. He needed to get the peace back into some sort of order. He couldn’t have townsfolk going off and shooting at every shadow.

Corporal Masterton was still busy trying to barricade the windows when he heard a clubbing and scratching at the main doors of the Town Hall. He decided to chance a look out of one of the front windows. He pushed the sash window up and slowly pushed open the external shutters. A clawed hand try to grab him, but he quickly pulled away from it. Outside he could see a sea of walking corpses trying to break their way into the Town Hall. He rapidly pulled the shutters to, slammed the sash window down and re-barricaded the potential entrance.

The Town Hall secured, 8:25am

After they had checked over the two corpses in the upstairs office, Officer Gabriel suggested they checked the rest of the rooms. An empty board room led onto the mayor’s office, which also proved to be empty. Upon hearing the shouts of alarm from Corporal Masterton downstairs, they all looked out of the upstairs window and noticed that there were dozens of slowly moving corpses gathered by the front door of the Town Hall. A quick look to either side of the building showed that they were totally surrounded by these slow moving horrors, but they were also accompanied by no less than a few faster moving zombie-wolves. They returned to the room at the top of the stairs where they realised that the fire started in the fuse room was still burning uncontrollably and belching black smoke that made it difficult to breathe.

Things were looking bleak for them as they realised that the fire needed to be put out before anything else happened. More than half of the Town Hall had been proven to now be empty; there was only one last wing upstairs that needed exploring. Luckily it was behind a heavy closed door.

Officer Gabriel gathered everyone together at the top of the stairs and explained the situation. The phone lines were down, mobiles had no signal, the electricity was cut and there was a fire in the basement. Worst of all, there was a whole town full of walking dead surrounding the very building that they were now stood in.

Delegating as best he could, he assigned a few people to fight the fire downstairs. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets were found and The Doctor, Mad-Dog and Norman returned to the place of danger to attempt to put it out. The flames and smoke forced Norman back, but The Doctor and Mad-Dog struggled on bravely to reduce the flames.

Tom, Dawn, Harry and Officer Gabriel returned upstairs to explore and make safe the last few rooms upstairs. Corporal Masterton set himself to watch over the walking corpses in case they tried something whilst the others were busy trying to make safe the building. Guard duty was what he was good at.

The Phone Call, 09:07am

Dawn, the reporter, listened at the locked door and swore she could hear muffled voices beyond. This made everyone more wary, but the sound of a small petrol engine starting up made them all look round. The detective had pulled a mini-chainsaw from his rucksack. It was to get the cat out of a tree he explained. The little petrol engine exploded into life and the last locked door on the landing was cut open in the blink of an eye. The room beyond came as a shock to all those on the landing. After expecting undead to jump out at them, they saw that the room beyond was just an empty kitchen. Norman, who had now rejoined the main party, as had Mad-Dog, noticed the loft door and pulled it open so they could climb up to investigate if there were any ways out of their predicament. Whilst Officer Gabriel, Dawn and detective Harry went on to investigate further rooms, Tom decided to look through the kitchen cupboards. He had seen all the zombie movies and knew that food and water would be important in the days to come. He stuffed his backpack with all of the food that was left in the cupboards. Just as he was finishing he heard the chainsaw rev up once more and then the shattering of glass. Those on the upper storey could now shout down to those in the main vestibule of the ground floor below where Cpl. Masterton was continuing on his rounds.

Mad-Dog and Norman broke through to the roof and then called for buckets. As many as could be found in the kitchen area were passed up to them; they were then handed back down full of snow. Chain-gang style, the buckets made their way down to the basement and the flames were finally put out.

Reconvening on the landing at the top of the stairs, the survivors tried to think what to do next. Dawn, feeling that she should call in to her office, dug the satellite phone from her bag; she had a signal… just. Officer Gabriel commandeered the phone and passed it to Cpl. Masterton to call his commanding officer for backup. He did as he was asked, and after several attempts at getting past the desk jockey he finally spoke to his captain. Promising to put him on a charge for being drunk, he said he would send down a couple of MPs to arrest him. They would be there in about three hours.

The Hacker’s Escape, 09:48am

Hearing this, Norman cracked and decided that it was all becoming too much for him, so he would get out whilst he could. He returned to Sarah’s room, where he had earlier spotted the main electricity and ‘phone cables just outside the window. He removed his belt, slung it over the thicker of the two cables, shouted “Geronimo” and leapt out of the window before anyone could stop him. He slid about halfway along the cable before grinding to a halt, hovering directly above a side-alley half-full with zombies. He tried to wriggle to get the belt moving again but all that helped to achieve was a shorter amount of time he could hang on. A few seconds later, the nerd’s strength gave out and he fell to the street below. He twisted his left ankle badly but was able to jump up and make his way towards the video store where he used to hang out in saner times with The Doctor and his pal Tom, the video store clerk.

Upon seeing their companion make his desperate leap and subsequent fall, they rushed to the window to see how they could help him. Despite his twisted ankle, he could still outpace the zombies, but the noise had attracted no less than five of the zombie-wolves, who closed in on him rapidly, drawn by his yelling for help and screams of agony.

Tom shovelled body parts from Sarah and the puppet-master zombie out of the window whilst Officer Gabriel and Harry the great cat detective started shooting at the zombies from the upper floor. Corporal Masterton heard the commotion and popped open a lower window, shooting at anything that moved before spotting Norman on the other side of the alleyway.

The survivors shouted at him to get into the video store whilst they held the zombies off. The soldier’s assault rifle and the law officer’s shotgun made short work of the zombie-wolves that were attacking Norman, but not before one of them bit his swollen ankle. Those that were attracted by the meat feast below the window gave Norman just enough time to smash his way into the shop. Using the butt of the gun proved impossible against the tempered glass (made to stop thieves), but his last but one bullet shattered the door lock. He was saving the last bullet for himself. He got into the shop and through the internal door in the wink of an eye, and proceeded up to Tom’s apartment where he barricaded himself in and set about logging into Tom’s computer to hack into the military servers.

As the commotion began to die down, the fluffy white cat came out from hiding. The detective made a grab for it and said that the cat needed saving too. Tom would have none of it – he had seen all the movies after all: anyone who tried to rescue the cat died. He promptly grabbed the feline off of the detective, blew out its brains and threw it out of the window.

The Hacker, 09:59am

Feeling a little worse for wear, but still carrying on, Norman managed to power up the PC and hack his way into the military site. He was able to amend the order to send just two MPs to send a platoon of soldiers instead, and at a high priority. He then made his way back out to tell the others what he had done.

Meanwhile, the rest of the survivors noticed that all the gun fire had attracted dozens of other zombies to the vicinity. Now numbering well over a hundred walking cadavers outside, this was starting to become a little onerous for even the most stout hearted. Making as much noise as possible they attracted the zombies away from the video store towards the Town Hall again. When the majority of the zombies were clustered together in one place, the survivors let loose with everything they had on them. Corporal Masterton’s assault rifle let off a constant barrage of shots, everyone who had a handgun or shotgun pumped bullets into the undead crowd and even the mayor’s liquor cabinet was raided to make Molotovs. A few well thrown grenades cleared a large path through the walking corpses and Norm saw his chance to run up the street away from the hostilities.

Running as fast as his swollen ankle would carry him he got to the army checkpoint and leaped into the truck there. The keys were still in the ignition, so he gunned the engine. It was at this point he realised he could not drive a truck. Undeterred, he managed to slam it into first gear and drive it lurching into the side-street beside the Town Hall. The survivors all jumped into the back of the truck except for Mad-Dog, who could drive the truck. Gunning the engine and slamming the vehicle into reverse, he drove over several walking corpses, their guts spilling out at the impact. When on the main road, he slammed it into first and accelerated away up the street heading north out of town; the sound of sirens approaching from ahead of them spurred them to greater courage and determination.

The Cavalry arrive, 10:23am

Those in the back cheered as they heard the sirens and saw the corpses rapidly dwindling with distance behind them, but Mad-Dog howled in agony as Norman’s teeth sunk themselves into his neck. Not able to shift the grip of the newly formed zombie, he yelled for someone to help him. Tom leant out to try to get a view into the can via the wing mirror and was just able to yell “Zombies” before he was flung from the back of the truck, still filming as he fell. Officer Gabriel and The Doctor didn’t like the sound of that and made a jump for it. Dawn followed suit, and in suitably gymnastic style landed neatly on her feet, leaving Harry and Cpl. Masterton in the back.

The fight in the cab would soon be over the biker, so Mad-Dog decided to end it in his favour. He rammed the truck into a tree. It crashed and turned over, throwing the pair of them through the windshield and onto the side of the hood. The two passengers in the back were flung around like rag dolls, but got away with just minor cuts and bruises.

The newly created Norman zombie started to rise whilst Mad-Dog clutched a shattered leg. He called to Officer Gabriel to end it for him – he didn’t want to end up a zombie like Norm. Officer Gabriel took aim with the flare pistol on the fuel tank and BOOOM! The whole truck went up; Cpl. Masterton, detective Harry, Mad-Dog and all.

The survivors sat dazed by the kerb as the military arrived to the tinkling and clattering of truck parts falling about them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Hobbit: Escape from Goblin Town - What's in the box

I succumbed. I popped down to Blue Water shopping centre to do the Christmas shopping this weekend just gone to get the family their presents, but I was also looking for something to buy myself to celebrate the festive period. Anyway, at the end of the day, I wound up inside Games Workshop whilst Mrs Odo popped into some cosmetic shop or other. I was only going in for a look and came out with the new box set.

Image used without permission - Copyright Games Workshop Limited

I had a good look at the contents when I got home, and started on reading the new rules. There are a few differences/additions compared to the LotR Strategy Battle Game, but essentially it is the same game and one that your old LotR minis can still be used for.

Anyway, this is what you get in the box...

2 Large sprues of Goblin Town scenery (walkways and ramparts)
1 Large sprue of the Goblin King, his throne, a captain and the sling type contraption complete with an extra tichy captain, scribe in the sling
2 identical sprues of goblins, each containing 18 goblins to give a total of 36 goblins (+4 from above to give a grand total of 40 goblins in the box set)
1 sprue of the 13 Dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf
1 small sprue with the limited edition Radagast the Brown

2 bags of bases to mount the figures on
8 white standard GW dice
1 plastic measuring tool (24" long in two pieces that can swivel/fold in the middle

A set of instrucrtions to build the minatures
A set of instructions to build the Radagast miniature
A stat sheet and scenarion for using Radagast the Brown
"Your Journey Begins Here" booklet - contains details of scenarios to help you get into the game, as well as stats for all miniatures in the box set
A quick play "Play Sheet"
An A5 sized rules booklet for the Strategy Battle Game


Well, I have got to say I am very impressed with the detail and quality of the miniatures. The goblins are not my favourites style-wise (not that I dislike them - they may just take a little getting used to) but are none-the-less sculpted very well, with lots of details. The dwarf company have to be some of the best plastic miniatures I have seen for a long time - full of exquisite detail. I have to admit that when I first saw the painted miniatures in my local GW I thought they were Finecast, such was the quality of the sculpts. Alex has now got his eyes on a sprue of them if/when they are released separately. The only gripe I have with them is that they are of varying heights. Nothing wrong with that in itself as everyone is a different size, even in fantasy realms, but a few are not really dwarf sized - they are quite tall to say the least. Then again, that may just emulate the size of the characters in the film.

Overall, if you are a fan of the books, films or SBG then I would recommend the box set. Yes, it is a little pricey, but you do get quite a lot for your money - a full game with plenty of scenarios in the box. And to buy the parts separately it would be a heck of a lot more.


I also took a look at the new Hunter Orcs and Hunter Orcs on Fell Wargs whilst I was in GW. Again I really like these and will definitely be getting some (lots) of these. I am not too keen on the trolls (Bill, Bert and Tom) though, and as they come in a bit too much for my wallet figures/pound, I doubt I will buy them. The Finecast White Council are very nice figures too, but again are too expensive figures/ pound, so I doubt I'll get these either. Now, if they were released in metal and were a lot cheaper I would definitely get them.

I also got a sneak peak of the elf cavalry that are due out in the next few months - again they are very nice.

It seems that GW have really pulled out all the stops with this new range and I really hope they keep up the quality for the entire range. The price has risen slightly, but I have read that this is because the franchise has cost them a lot more this time round. Not sure what I think of this yet, but I still think the non-"big monster" plastic miniatures remain just inside my range of value for money.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (White Dwarf-Dec 12)

I took a trip down to my local GW today to take a look at the new "The Hobbit" stuff on offer. Unfortunately the stores do not get anything in until actual release date, but I managed to have a good chat with the manager of the shop and one of the staff before purchasing the latest White Dwarf for perusal at home - something I have not done since February 2011.

WD December 2012 - Image used without permission - Copyright Games Workshop

We can expect the game to be an update of the Strategy Battle Game we have all come to love said the GW bods. It looks like the new rulebook is indeed the next step in the evolution of the game, and I found out that the new hardback should contain the latest ruleset (but previous supplements are compatible) for both LotR and TH (The Hobbit). It includes a beastiary and rules for all of the existing range of LotR miniatures as well as the new stuff coming out. The softback that comes with the box set "Escape from Goblin Town" will contain a cut-down set of rules that only caters for The Hobbit.

Delving into White Dwarf, we have no less than 62 pages of The Hobbit goodness out of a total of 144 actual pages - not a bad return in comparison to previous months' magazines (the reason I stopped buying White Dwarf was because of its very limited cover of LotR:SBG). Inside the magazine we find the following articles...
  • Introduction to The Hobbit game - detailing the new releases with a nice double spread, gatefold section (which actually takes the page count to 66 pages in total). We are introduced to the game, the Dwarfs, the denizens of Goblin Town, the Trolls (William, Bert and Tom) and the Hunter Orcs (both on and off Fell Wargs) with their leaders.
  • There are three pages of The Hobbit related adverts detailing all of the new releases
  • There is a Bat Rep for the scenario in the new box set
  • A short painting guide for some of the new miniatures
  • A Design Studio article on the inspiration for the miniatures by the sculptors
There are also a few articles on Warhammer (a featured Ogre army and painting guide) and Warhammer 40K (a delve into the realms of Forgeworld and attack craft/vehicles). These game systems are not really my thing, but the articles look potentially good for WH and WH40K players.

I have to admit I am becoming quite excited by these new releases for SBG, and the photos of the minis look good so far. To summarise a few things for you ...
  • Many of the new releases are plastics (good news!) - the Company of Dwarfs, goblins, Goblin King, the Trolls, Hunter Orcs and Orcs on Fell Wargs (the wargs are VERY nice imho - I will definitely be getting some of these - there are three warg bodies and four heads, hopefully giving a dozen decent poses to go with the 27 combinations for the riders).
  • Finecast releases include the leaders of the goblins and orcs (a couple GW stylee captains, Bolg and Fimbul), as well as The White Council
  • A couple of new rulebooks - hardback for the full set and the softback that comes with the box set
  • A paint set that includes five goblins
  • A set of scenery called goblin Town (also included in the box set)
  • A release of the plastic Fellowship of the Ring figures that originally came with the Mines of Moria box set - tempting I must say
Overall, both the releases for The Hobbit and the new White Dwarf have been great to see this month, and they have definitely renewed my interest in the Strategy Battle Game.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Carrion Crown - Session VII

Session 7: Harrowstone (21st November 2012)

The Pathfinders
Kazimir – Elf Fighter
Moebius – Elf Conjurer
Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Zef – Human Ranger

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys (Day 10 – mid-day)

Upon opening the door we were struck as if by a wet cloth. The room was open to the elements, and the rain beat against us as we entered. The only feature left in this room was a huge furnace and its accompanying chimney; the rest had collapsed into the level below and the resulting chasm had filled with water forming the lake we had seen outside. I lit one of my small candles and looked up the chimney. I spotted nothing of interest but the rest of my companions mentioned that they could smell burning flesh. I quickly pulled my head out of the chimney but the smell didn’t dissipate. Moebius took a turn to look up the shaft but as soon as his head entered the space a ball of fire shot down towards him. He managed to back away without getting hurt.

Stirge Attack

As we had explored most of this level of the prison now, I decided to climb up the rubble and onto the roof to see what I could see, and match it up to the details I gained when I went up the stairs earlier. There were a whole bunch of rooms that we needed to explore. After looking around for a few minutes to get my bearings I heard the unmistakable buzz of stirge wings. Three of the critters were heading straight towards me. I rapidly made my way back to the party just as they crested the lip of the rubble wall we were standing beneath. Zef let fly with his arrows and two of them dropped. The third that approached me was quickly dispatched by my trusty rapier. I have to say that I really do not like these creepy crawlies.

We decided that it would be safer to get onto the roof via the inner stairwell, so we returned inside and made our way up to the first storey via the stone stairs. The landing opened out into an area containing a watch room with floor to ceiling bars and a whole bunch of cells. We checked many of the cells but all they contained were the skeletons of the previous inmates. We decided that we would ask for Father Grimburrow’s help in getting the corpses back to town for decent burial rather than attempt the feat ourselves. It was at this point we started to hear the sound of mournful pipe music and the flutter of more stirge wings. Moving on we passed through a kitchen and pantry area, but had to retrace our steps to find another way into the watch room. We found the way through via an adjoining room which contained the skeleton of a man wrapped in chains and draped in holy symbols.

The First Encounter with the Five

Moebius mentioned that this was most likely the body of one of the five dangerous criminals who had plotted the prison break; the preacher one. Kazimir poked the body to make sure it had no life in it. It didn’t, but the piping seemed to get louder and we still could not ascertain where it was coming from.

We took a quick look into the watch room and found that it could be used to observe the majority of the prison cells with the exception of a few round one corner. All the cells we looked in were occupied with skeletons much like those we had encountered earlier. We headed for the area we could not see from the observation room which happened to be another corridor full of cells. The piping got suddenly louder when we were halfway down the hall and when we least expected it, a number of skeletons burst from their cells into our midst.

Zef looked behind us and let fly a couple of arrows at a wraith like apparition that was stalking us from the rear (this was seemingly where the piping was coming from). Moebius and I were raked by the rank claws of the cadavers. Suddenly there were five images of Moebius amongst us but as soon as those images appeared, our fighter collapsed to the ground and proceeded to bleed profusely; the blood flowing towards the wraith-like spirit beyond Zef. Chains and holy symbols, the same as those on the corpse in the room beside the observation room, began to appear on Kazimir’s body but the fighter himself was unconscious.

During the melee, we all suffered a form of paralysis but were able to shake it off a few seconds later. Unfortunately, this led to most of us picking up wounds from the undead attacking us – Moebius’s doubles were taking the brunt of damage that was meant for him. After a short while, we heard the unmistakable whine of stirge wings and saw a couple approaching down the corridor towards us. It was at this point that I was unable to take any more and had to duck inside one of the cells to avoid being killed by the skeletons. As I popped into the cell, I heard a whoop from Moebius and Zef as the wraith winked out of existence and the music stopped – they had killed the Piper!

I quickly drank one of our healing potions and felt well enough to re-enter the fray. I burst out of the door, and put paid to one of the skeletons just as Zef skewered both of the stirges which were busy trying to suck the blood from our poor downed fighter. I threw some Holy Water onto the fighter’s body, and it seemed to help him as the chains that were wrapped around him slowed in their tightening. Moebius, meanwhile, summoned up some attack dogs and headed back to the holy symbol covered corpse in the room beside the observation chamber. Zef and I finished off the last skeleton.

Two down three to go

Moebius collected up the dog-savaged bones of the preacher and placed them into a sack, then rejoined us in the corridor. Kazimir came to and asked us what had happened. He had fallen into a trance and been told by an apparition that we had deserted him and that he should join with the preacher as we no longer cared for him. He had decided to refuse the offer and thus had begun to be set upon by chains and holy symbols.

We headed on up the corridor to the last couple of rooms. Neither of these were cells. The first contained a ladder and trapdoor in the ceiling that we could not open, and the second room contained a skeleton and a bone flute. We realised this was the Piper’s body, so we again scooped up the bones and placed them into another sack.

The Gnome

As I wanted to get to the roof to see what else was up there it was decided that I climbed up via the rubble and see if I could clear the obstruction above the trap door to allow the rest up. Again, I heard the unmistakable whine of stirge wings. I called up Zef, who promptly put arrows into them, whilst I began to pull fallen masonry from off of the trapdoor. With Kazimir pushing from below, we soon had the trap door open and the rest of the party clambered through and out onto the roof.

All we could see up there was a parapet and walkway in fairly good repair. We wandered around until we encountered a patch of carnivorous vine (identified by our ranger). Moebius soon had a little fire elemental get to work with burning it up. When the leaves had peeled away, we noticed the skeleton of a gnome beneath. Not knowing what he was doing up there, and not wanting to hang around as the light was beginning to fade, we quickly searched the body and found a few gold (24) and platinum (3) coins along with a little signet ring. We headed on back downstairs and headed towards the room with the warden’s wife’s ghost.

The Blue Lady

When we went into her chamber we heard her crying, but this time in joy. When we asked her about the two criminals, she told us that they were definitely dead. We told her what we had done and what we still intended to do and she thanked us in a most heart felt way.

With the light fading from the skies, we headed back to town and into Father Grimburrow’s garden. He was weeding and cursing his acolytes for being a lazy bunch and not knowing their aspidistras from their rhododendrons or some such. We interrupted his reverie and cursing to give him our news.

Father Grimburrow performed a couple of rites on the skeletons and we saw the ghosts of the prisoners rise from the bodies and evaporate with silent screams of anguish on their faces. He told us that the ordeal was over concerning these two.

He then proceeded to heal us of our combat wounds and mentioned that he would send his lazy acolytes up the hill to the prison tomorrow to pick up the rest of the skeletons for a decent burial whilst we carried on our investigations of the ground floor (we still had to get into the strong room and cold room, as well as open the safe in the calm room).

The Gazebo (Day 10 - Late evening)

We were awoken again later that evening by the sheriff; there was a large letter ‘S’ daubed onto the town’s gazebo. This is the third letter in the warden’s wife’s name. Luckily she has quite a long name, giving us plenty of time in which to finish our investigations at the prison on the hill.

The Strong Room (Day 11)

Feeling a little worse for wear and still carrying a weakness from the stirge bites I could not be raised from my bed. Zef decided to stay with me during the day to help me heal whilst Moebius and Kazimir returned to the prison with the acolytes of Pharasma. They all returned about an hour or so later with the contents of the room.

Contained within a small safe there were indeed items that looked like they would be useful in fighting the five (a smith’s hammer, a silver flute, a spell book, a collection of holy symbols and a blood-stained item). There were also more items that would help us against their minions and furthering our adventures (a set of Master Thieves’ Tools, a silver hairclip, some throwing stars, a silver war razor, a wand of Lesser Restoration and a few other items).

We spent the rest of the day looking over the items; trying to identify them and their uses. The skeletons from the upper storey had been cleared out by the acolytes, but the cold room and safe in the calm room still needed to be investigated. Perhaps we will do that on the morrow when we are all recovered from our wounds?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Goblin Wolf Rider

I seem to have a few one-off miniatures laying around that fit into a variety opf armies but are not really usable as part of a unit. Here is the only Night Goblin (?) wolf rider I own. He should fit in nicely with the Tusker Riders I painted up a while back as some sort of scout to the heavy hitting riders.

It was very simple to paint, but the detail on the sculpt is just right to make my paint job look a lot better than it actually is.

As you may be aware I give my orcs and goblins particular skin colours depending upon what 'tribe' they are. I do not personally like the newly established Games Workshop 'traditional' green for them (although some of the paint jobs by GW and gamers do look very good utilising that colour scheme), as I prefer a more muted and realistic (?) palette. My goblinoids range from dark brown for trolls and ogres, through bronzed flesh for orcs, to lighter flesh colours for actual goblins, and finally Rotting Flesh for Night Goblins. My rationale for this is that the smaller the goblin, the less likely they are to come out during the day, thus the epithet Night Goblins for the smallest goblins. It works for me anyway.

Still to come are loads of Norman Knights, the Hitch Hikers from H2G2, a few more GW Dredd and sci-fi miniatures and a handful of cleric types.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A couple of new HotT Elf bases

Alex finished off two more bases of Elves for his HotT army. This army is very slow in the making (rather like my own really), but he now has 4 completedf bases and another on the way. I will see about putting in an order for some more minis for his army soon - he has some greatideas for fleshing it out, and I am looking forward to pitting them against my Barbarians, Dwarfs, or Orcs and Goblins armies.

Anyway, here is the second unit of spearmen...

And here is the first stand of archers...

He has another stand of archers on the go and he put together some Mantic Elves to go with them. They are on a completely different scale to these minis, which are actually quite large for an old skool set of minis, but could be classed as an allied contingent.

Next up from me should be a Goblin mini that just needs the basing completing.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Early Citadel Space Marines

I have at long last begun to get back into painting after a long hiatus. The time spent not painting has been very productive gaming wise, as I have been involved in two rather excellent fantasy RPG games (AD&D and Pathfinder) and some long-term discussions about re-developing some old sci-fi stuff with one of my oldest gaming friends, Arlo.

My eyesight has not improved (will be going for a check-up in the next couple of weeks to change my prescription) with the time away from the close scrutiny, and it shows in some of the pictures below with the parts I have missed or gone over accidentally and not noticed even when checking for such errors - ho hum, the camera doesn't seem to lie in these cases.

Anyway, I have also managed to put a lot of pigment onto a rather large bunch of Norman milites, but it will be a short while before they are anywhere near completed. I have also undercoated a handful of clerics for AD&D to go with all of my fighters, thieves, barbarians and magic users that were completed a year or two back., and some old Denizen miniatures for the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Getting back to the sci-fi theme, here are the final painted versions of the first released Citadel Space Marines. I have already painted up a couple as Judge Dredd style heavy troopers, but these ones are painted as Dark Angels (my preferred WH40K troop type). I really like the womble-head style of the helmets, and think that Citadel/GW should have stayed with that style imho.

This figure, although bought as part of the same set, doesn't really fit in with the unit, what with the skull motif on his shoulder pads. I painted him differently, as if he was a baddie. I have also found another bunch of sci-fi style baddies that I bought around the same time that I will add to a menagerie of scoundrels - maybe the crew of a space pirate ship? Hopefully I'll get those painted before Christmas.

This one, with an old style chainsword I have designated the commander of my little squad.

And, here are the rest of the squad - all with the same weapons except for the last chap. Not sure why he was sculpted with a different weapon, but it does add to their individuality I guess.

Finally, here is a group shot of the whole squad. Those space pirates had better beware!

Alex has also been picking up the brushes again and managed to get a few more finished - I will post them up later when the basing is completed.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Carrion Crown - Part 6

Session 6: Harrowstone (7th November 2012)

The Pathfinders
Kazimir – Elf Fighter
Moebius – Elf Conjurer
Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Tomas – Cleric (absent)
Zef – Human Ranger

(Note to Matt – 1250 Xp was awarded this week)

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys (Day 9 – afternoon)

We left Tomas in the chapel of Pharasma to carry on re-sanctifying it. The rest of us headed towards the end of the corridor after a brief spot of lunch to keep up our flagging energy levels. The room beyond the door was triangular in shape and appeared to all intents and purposes to be a branding room. Scattered over the floor were a multitude of branding irons with hand etched serial numbers, and a large brazier turned upon its side. We (Kazimir, Moebius and I) began to poke around the debris with our boots until Moebius and I started to smell burning flesh. When we looked up and mentioned this to Zef, four of the iron rods lifted from the floor. The tips of the brands started to glow red hot. I knew Tomas had a bucket of water on the go to aid in his cleaning of the chapel, so I swiftly ran to grab it. In the meantime, all I could hear were incantations, and grunts and cries of pain emanating from the room until my return. It appeared that the situation was under control when I returned just a few seconds later, but both Zef and Moebius had been badly burned by the branding rods. As soon as they saw the bucket of water they thrust the rods into it, quenching the fire upon them immediately.

Just as the last hisses of steam were dissipating, we noticed that Kazimir had joined us – Kendra had got sick of him moping around the place and she requested that he go join his companions and earn his keep. He mentioned that he had passed Tomas going in the other direction on his way up to the prison, and said that Kendra needed a new bodyguard whilst he was away, but the cleric was rather uncommunicative an donly grunted in response.

The Warden’s Wife

We collected our wits and moved out of the branding room to the next door along the wall. This door popped open with the minimum of effort from Kazimir and we all entered. We could see a room full of sewing paraphernalia and the skeleton of someone at the far end of the room. I also happened to notice a door to the right of us hidden behind a few drapes that partially obscured it. Before we could investigate further, an apparition appeared before us. The blue woman wept continuously, but managed to ask us if we were the new guards. We answered in the negative but mentioned that we were here to cleanse the prison of evil. We managed to question the shade of the prison warden’s wife further for the following information…

  • There are five items in the lock-up that can be used against the five most evil prisoners; those that Moebius had garnered the names of earlier
  • She declared that she is the new warden now that her husband is dead, but her time is limited
  • The Whispering Way cultists arrived and set about casting a ritual
  • They murdered the professor and wrote the incantation around the prison that we saw on the way in
  • The Splatter Man is daubing the statue in town – when her name is spelt out, she will cease to exist and the five prisoners will be free to leave the prison
  • The cultist’s leader is a thin grey-skinned humanoid with a bone breast plate, and a dark staff with a gagged skull upon it
We thanked her for her aid and advice and made our way through the semi-secret portal I had spotted earlier, perhaps there were more secrets to be found through here we thought at the time, or why else try to conceal the door?

The Laundry Room

The next chamber revealed itself as a laundry room; clothing and linen was scattered all over the floor and a constantly running drain led to the cess pit we had noticed outside earlier.

I began to prod around the piles of linen with my rapier until the clothing started to move of its own volition. I jumped back in fright as an animated leather strait jacket arose from the laundry pile. Zef managed to grab hold of the jerkin whilst Kazimir and I proceeded to rip it to shreds using our swords; the remnants being finished off with one of Moebius’ rays of acid.

Luckily no-one was hurt in this encounter, although Zef did get embraced by the jacket at one point. Zef and Moebius were still nursing severe burns from those branding irons, so it was a good thing that this animated item was put down so quickly.

Other than the iron door situated way back past the vestibule, we only had one more door to search behind on the ground level of the prison. As it was getting late, we decided to try the door and then head back for some well earned rest, and to try to get those injured tended to.

The Poltergeist

As soon as the door to this room opened we were faced with a haunting apparition. I tried to throw some Holy Water at it, but its fearsome visage made me drop the missile in fright. At this point, the ghostly apparition let out the most horrendous scream which caused Zef and me to immediately take flight in fear of our souls, closely followed by Kazimir. A rather shocked Moebius then brought up the rear, muttering something about who was supposed to the brave ones.

Our fear had run its course by the time we got back to the vestibule, so we stopped to take stock of our position. None of us were harmed and the ghost had decided not to follow us. Looking out of the door we noticed that the evening was drawing in, so we decided to call it a day. I just made a quick detour to the steel door to check out its lock. It looked way beyond my skill to attempt to unpick.

Gibbs Strikes Back (Day 9 – early evening)

We headed back to town; Kazimir and I visited the statue, and Zef and Moebius went via Father Grimburrow’s office to see if he could alleviate their suffering with a bit of ecclesiastical jiggery-pokery. He healed the worst of their wounds, but at the cost of them both attending service the following morning. Moebius was not too happy as he had things he wanted to study, but Zef was beginning to like this god Pharasma; she and the ranger have a lot of things in common. I see a full blown conversion coming on with him.

Kazimir and I set up watch on the statue, me near to it with the horn at hand, and Kazimir close by to give heavy support if needed. Towards the end of my shift, I spotted a person in nightgown and sleeping hat approach the statue with a struggling dog in one hand and a rather large razor in the other. I aimed up with my trusty crossbow and let loose just as the perpetrator was about to start his grizzly ritual by slitting the dog’s throat. The quarrel flew true and stuck fast in the man’s shoulder causing him to drop the dog, which ran off yelping. I blew on the horn, to summon Kazimir to my side. He proceeded to swipe the villain off of his feet with the handle of his glaive, but before he could deliver a coup de grace I stopped him and cautioned it may be best to take the dauber alive. Kazimir delivered a very well aimed blow that knocked the person senseless. When we discovered who it was, we were shocked to find out the night prowler was none other than Gibbs; Zef’s mortal enemy.

A second wind of the horn brought forth the townsfolk from the Laughing Demon. Amongst them was the sheriff who, seeing the situation for what it was proceeded to arrest Gibbs and drag him off to the gaol.

The Ouija Board (Day 10)

We rested up for the rest of the night, all of us having a good sleep, and awoke early. Zef and Moebius headed off to the 6 o’clock service whilst Kazimir and I paid a visit to the sheriff’s office. We didn’t manage to get much out of Gibbs other than he was ‘sleepwalking’.

The sheriff was to head off to Gibbs’ house to see what he could find so we asked to accompany him. He agreed to this and on our way we bumped into the others. We all arrived at Gibbs’ house and entered his main living room where we saw a message daubed in rabbits’ blood on the wall (we know it was rabbit’s blood because of the two tiny corpses left lying in the middle of the floor. The message stated, “You shall not prevent our escape”.

Zef wanted to get to the bottom of this now by any means possible, so he produced the ouija board he had been carrying around with him since breakfast. He set it up, placed his fingers on the main mat and promptly stood up. He made for the rabbits, put his fingers into the blood and began to daub a fresh message on the wall, “The woman will die again”. He then returned to his seated position and came back to himself.

Wondering if there was some other kind of spirit channel in the room, Moebius cast a small spell and realised there was a faint emanation of magic coming from a water skin that was once filled with blood (we could see the dried stains of it around the mouth of the skin).

We all made our excuses then and left the sheriff to his investigations; Zef and I popped off to see Father Grimburrow on how to use those Haunt Siphons, and Moebius and Kazimir went to the Unfurled Scroll to purchase a Knock spell scroll. We managed to get Father to empty one siphon for us with the promise of returning another soul for him to send on its way to Pharasma. We agreed and met up with the others on the road leading to the prison.

Back to the Poltergeist

We made our way straight back to the room containing the phantasm that frightened us so much the day before. We prepared ourselves and burst into the room. One of the ways in which souls could enter the siphon was through persuasion (the other being that it needed to be subdued sufficiently by force or hemmed in by a circle of salt to want respite from its suffering). I tried to reason with the ghost but my well rehearsed oration was drowned out by another soul wrenching scream.

This time we all ran except for Zef, who had decided he would not run from the undead ever again. After running for quite a distance, we came to a halt and realised that our companion was not with us. We headed back into the prison complex expecting to find him dead or worse, only to find him grinning from ear to ear. He had loaded his bow with one of the magical arrows and let fly. The apparition had just exploded when the arrow struck returning the tormented soul back to whichever hell it had come from.

As it had taken us a while to get back to our compatriot, Zef had had time to search the room, where he found the following items…

  • 2 Healing kits
  • 3 vials of anti-toxin
  • 2 vials of anti-plague
  • 3 vials of blood block
  • 3 vials of smelling salts
  • 4 potions of Cure Light Wounds

After we had got over the excitement of seeing our trusty ranger alive and well, and bearing gifts, we noticed one last door in the room. We stepped towards it …

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Carrion Crown Part V

Session 5: Harrowstone (24th October 2012)

I think I had better put a disclaimer in here - this write up contains spoilers for anyone who wishes to partake in this adventure. Please only read this if you do not wish to become a player in this adventure path as it will spoil your enjoyment.

The Pathfinders
Kazimir – Elf Fighter (absent)
Moebius – Elf Conjurer
Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Tomas – Cleric
Zef – Human Ranger

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys (Day 8 – late afternoon)

Running from the creatures from beyond the grave has left me feeling rather foolish. After suffering from two near-death experiences I am finding I am becoming more and more nervous around strange creatures and beings that want to do us harm, especially giant sized creepy crawlies that offer poisonous bites and stings. I do not want to let my companions down but I am feeling increasingly cowardly when faced with such antagonists. I just hope that my other skills will allow me to keep such brave and trustworthy companions at my side whilst we delve into the mysteries surrounding Harrowstone and the town of Ravengro.

I made my way back to Kendra’s house after the fright I’d had with the skeletons. My more belligerent companions were able to easily overcome the walking dead; Zef felled two with his deft bow-work and Kazimir brought down the other with his glaive. To calm all of our nerves and to catch up with events all round, we decided to head to the Laughing Demon. However, on the way, I thought it may be prudent to take up my position as look-out in case the statue desecrators returned, so I headed off into that part of town.

Zef and Moebius made it to the tavern, but Kazimir decided to stay put and look after Kendra just in case any harm befell her. What with that Gibbs fellow pushing his weight around and causing a couple of scenes, it seemed like a good idea. Whilst at the tavern, an acolyte of Pharasma, and another true friend of the professor turned up. He is named Tomas. I got to meet him on my return to the tavern at around 9:15. In the meantime, Moebius and Zef had brought him up to date with the entire goings on. Tomas told us that he would have made it earlier if it wasn’t for his caravan being delayed by the dreadful weather. Anyway, it is good to have another cleric in our party after Dukker had to return to his temple a few days ago. We now number five, which is a goodly  number of investigators, but I myself would feel safer if we had perhaps another who could wield a sword with more gusto than Moebius and I (although Moebius is rather handy with those magical incantations of his).

It was Zef that relieved me from watching the statue and he also made it his task to set a few footprint traps, just to see if we could capture some tracks from the perpetrators of the violation. We left the tavern around midnight, collected Zef upon the way and headed to our beds.

The Prison Ruins (Day 9)

I awoke quite early and proceeded to run through my stretching routines. I felt pretty good actually; fully recovered from my bruising experiences. We decided to head on up to the prison to reconnoitre, again Kazimir elected to stay with Kendra (probably because he thought that maybe there would be no fighting involved). We diverted our path via the statue to check out Zef’s footprint traps, but the only tracks we saw there were for small nocturnal animals. Moebius quickly called in at the Unfurling Scroll to pick up a scroll that contained some Warding or Alarm spell.

We got to the ruins atop the hill quite quickly and in good spirits despite the newly arrived clouds and subsequent downpour. Nothing appeared different, but Tomas decided he wanted to see the runes around the prison building for himself. He noted that it seemed to be part of a ritual, but what kind of ritual he could not say. He cast a few more spells and made it known that the place was heavily under the influence of the undead; there were many signals given off, mainly below our feet and below the prison building. Moebius tied his mule up just outside the main entrance.

The Office Block

Zef and I headed to the main door of the building and took a peek inside. Beyond the fallen doors was a vestibule that measured around 10’ by 10’. Many doors led off from it. We decided to pick the first one on the left hand side and Zef put his boot to it. On the other side was a long corridor, ending in a door, with doors all along the right hand wall. All of the doors down the corridor seemed to contain offices full of paperwork. Moebius wanted to grab as much as possible for future reference, but we said that we would grab them for him on the way out. We proceeded to the end of the corridor, where we noticed that there were in fact two doors, the second obscured as it was around a corner we could not see from the other end. As we opened the first door, all the rest of the office doors behind us slammed shut in turn; none could be opened when we tried them. The door that we had just opened revealed a sanctum of calm, and a safe which was unfortunately beyond my skills to open (there had to be a key around somewhere). We left the calming effect of the room and entered the other door next to this one that we hadn’t spotted when we first entered the corridor. This, however, only revealed a latrine.

Perplexed by this turn of events, we returned to the door we entered the corridor by. Zef and I were ahead, whilst Moebius, sensing a loss of clues held within the paperwork, with Tomas looking out for him, tried to open the office doors. Zef kicked open the first door on the right within the vestibule. This caused the door opposite to slam shut, closing Moebius and Tomas within. As the door shut, a burning head thrust through the door making us jump out of our skins. It rapidly retreated back into the door however. We then heard three raps on the door and Tomas’s voice calling that they were OK and did we see anything come through the door? Zef and I replied that we had spotted the same as the others. To reunite the party, Zef tried to cut through the rotten wooden door, but as his sword bit into the wood, it stuck fast and he could not remove it. Tomas worked out that this was a simple Hold Portal spell, and that it would dissipate soon. True enough, the sword eventually came free and upon rechecking, the office doors became unlocked again. Moebius, not wanting to lose his paperwork, asked for time to move it from the offices into the calm room. Zef and I agreed and used that time to remove the door that was held from its hinges so that it would not block our escape in future.

The Cold Auditorium

The doors on the right hand side of the vestibule didn’t really present us with too many problems. The first door opened up to a short corridor ending in a locked solid metal door at the other end.

The second door opened into an auditorium with many benches inside and a grille at the far end behind which we assumed the prisoners were held whilst being questioned. Zef entered and felt the temperature suddenly drop. Icicles began to form on the furniture as soon as he entered the room. He got out of their quickly sensing it was not a nice place to be. As the others were still unloading the paperwork, I decided to kill the time by removing the door to this room too.

The last door from the vestibule

We did not really want to leave any of the doors unexplored, but we decided that the metal door could be left for a time whilst we explored the rest of this level of the prison building. We popped open the last door of the vestibule (the one opposite the main entrance door) to reveal another corridor with doors down the right hand side. The first door led down some stairs a little way before becoming choked with collapsed masonry (possibly an effect of the collapse the Warden caused all those years ago?). The second door opened onto some steps leading upwards. I carefully made my way up the wooden stairs and could make out in the gloom of the collapsed ceiling that there were several rooms up there. We decided to come back to explore these as the upper storey did not look like it could take the combined weight of our party. The third door revealed a small cupboard filled with cleaning equipment.

Giant Spiders

Making our way back to the beginning of the corridor again, we opened the first door on the left. This revealed corridors leading off in a couple of directions and several other doors. The first side door we came to revealed a collapse door leading into a room full of cobwebs. I didn’t like the look of this so edged backwards a bit. Tomas strode straight in and was instantly pounced upon by three huge spiders, each with an abdomen the size of a large pumpkin, and fangs dripping with venom. Tomas staggered back under the onslaught which gave Zef enough room to shoot one of the spiders a couple of times. Moebius cast his acid spell, but it just bounced harmlessly off the wall. Whilst the ranger and cleric busied themselves with two of the spiders, the injured third one made its way towards Moebius and me. Moebius cast his bright light spell and all of the arachnids were suddenly dazed. Zef and Tomas easily finished off their opponents but it took me quite a while to destroy the third with my rapier.

Tomas recognised the room as a small temple to Pharasma, so he set about cleaning it up. Moebius helped him with a few cantrips and the brooms and mops from the store room back in the previous corridor. Inside a small wooden cabinet Tomas found a few potions of healing, a wand of healing (which he kept himself) and a scroll which he passed to Moebius. This went some way towards stopping the sorceror griping about not being able to study the papers from the offices.


Whilst the other two of our party tidied up the small temple to Pharasma, Zef and I went to try another of the doors. The one opposite led into what looked like a torture chamber; manacles, ropes and chains littered the floor. Zef strode into to see what he could find but upon entering, a pair of manacles rose into the air and darted towards him. One cuff managed to grasp onto Zef’s wrist and lock shut. Zef grabbed the other cuff with his free hand and backed out of the room.

We went back into the small temple to see if Moebius could open them after my lock picking skills were found to be useless as there were no locks on them! Acid seemed to roll off of the rusting metal clasps, but a vial of Holy water saw the manacles sizzle and drop to the floor.

We decided to return to the induction chamber to take another look but all we could find this time were more rusting manacles. Luckily none of them came to life when we entered the room this time.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Carrion Crown Part 4

Session 4: The Professor Returns (17th October 2012)

The Pathfinders
Kazimir – Elf Fighter
Moebius – Elf Conjurer
Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Zef – Human Ranger

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys (Day 6 – mid-morning)

The stirges and centipedes have left me really wobbly on my legs. I still needed to rest up, so much of the next few days I spent resting up whilst the others work on this mystery. As I have previously noted in my diary, our meals with Kendra are becoming increasingly bland. I am sure she doesn’t want us around, but I am unsure as to why when her father put her into our care for at least the next month.

Anyway, on with our tale... The rest of the party visited Father Grimburrow to find out what those vials contain. He mentioned they were something called Haunt Siphons; receptacles for spirits that can be used for combating the undead. When the vial breaks, the spirit contained within will attack the closest being to it upon its release.

Kazimir paid a visit on Zokar to see if he could get something from the rumour I told him about from my last visit there. He was invited out back to watch the preparation of his meal, but nothing untoward could be found out. He proceeded to eat his fill. Meanwhile, Moebius had visited the Unfurled Scroll and found out some more useful information…

  1. Harrowstone Prison was built in 4594
  2. Ravengrow was founded at the same time as the prison, in order to supply it
  3. The fire killed all the prisoners, many guards and the warden’s wife
  4. A statue was built a month or two later, honouring the dead
  5. The prisoners had revolted and taken control of the lower dungeon. The warden and 23 guards prevented them from escaping
  6. Five of the prisoners in particular we re notorious for some reason
  7. The warden, prisoners and guards were all trapped inside when the fire broke out
‘E’ for…? (Later that evening)

Whilst we were preparing for bed, we got a slow knock at the door. Sheriff Benjen was at the door and he told us that it had happened again. We accompanied him to the scene of the crime but noticed this time that the letter daubed on the statue was an ‘E’. We found no other clues other than the usual footprints and that the blood used was found to be animal blood (but which species we do not know). I put my thoughts into motion on these meagre clues but the only connection I could come up with was that ‘V’ and ‘E’ were the first two letters of the warden’s wife’s name: Vesorinna Hawken. I am not sure if that helped anyone but it made sense to me when the children’s rhyme was added into the mix.

The Professor Returns (Around Midnight)

We returned to Kendra’s and I headed off to bed due to the lateness of the hour and the need to still recover from the centipede and stirge bites. Around midnight, there came another slow knock at the door. Luckily Kazimir and Moebius were still up so they prepared to open the door, not knowing what to expect this time. Upon opening the door they came face-to-face with Professor Lorrimor! The zombie called for Kendra and struck out at Kazimir. The fighter made no hesitation in cleaving the body in twain. The fighter picked up the again dead pieces of the professor and deposited them within a rolled up carpet from the hallway. Moebius used a few of his little cantrips to clean up the mess, whilst Kazimir took the body and hid it in the wood pile for further investigation the next morning.

Another Encounter with Gibbs (Day 7)

We awoke early to yet another knock on the door. The incessant rapping annoyed us all, and upon seeing Gibbs’ face Zef had to be held back (Gibbs, if I recall was the townsman who assaulted Zef when we were carrying the professor’s coffin to his grave). Anyway, Gibbs ranted on that the professor had risen and it was our entire fault for not allowing them to bury him outside of town. Zef had had enough and thumped him; we did not stop him this time. Gibbs left rather promptly. It was at this point that the missing hall carpet caused Kendra to question our movements the night before. Some quick thinking bought us the cover story that it was all Kazimir’s fault for drinking too much. We promised to clean the carpet and return it to its rightful place.

This encounter with Gibbs spurred us into swift action. We loaded the professor’s body onto Moebius’s mule (which didn’t like it that much until Zef calmed it down with some well-chosen words and platitudes) and took it up to Father Grimburrow. He took the body off our hands and proceeded to rebury it in the same style as the farmer from the day before.

Fire at the Town Hall (Evening)

Due to all of this commotion we had forgotten about the meeting at the Town Hall that evening until reminded by the cleric. As there was a lot that needed investigating we decided to split up. The rest of my companions decided to head to the meeting to see what it was all about, whilst I cried off ‘sick’ and went down to the statue to stake out the area in case the perpetrator of the nightly daubing came back. I took Kazimir’s horn with me for an alarm in case I got into difficulties.

As the evening wore on, I got slowly more bored and cold. After an hour or so, I spotted three flaming objects leave the prison area and head towards the Town Hall. At around the same time, I heard a commotion going on up there. Not sure if that was just the general goings on from a town meeting I decided not to investigate that but the appearance of those flaming skulls made my mind up. I winded the horn just as the shouts from the hall turned to screams. I decided to leave my place of observation and sprinted up to the Town Hall. I got there just as the last of the fire was being extinguished. Moebius told me that the three flaming skulls came crashing through the windows a short time after all the torches in the building suddenly flared up. No cause was found but the townsfolk treated us like heroes and called for us to be the investigators into the mysteries surrounding the common undead appearances, even offering to pay us a reward! All were happy enough to collect us all together and drive us into the Laughing Demon to ply us with more drink than we could handle.

The Investigation Begins Proper (Day 8)

After another thin breakfast I decided enough was enough and popped out to the baker’s to buy us a proper meal. Moebius had plenty of reading to do, so the three of us (Zef, Kazimir and I) headed on up to the prison under the true guise of investigators. The walls were actually in a worse state of repair than I recalled from my last visit. The towers were all empty except for the one containing the swarm of rats which we decided to leave well alone.

The manor house at the centre of the grounds was in an even worse state of repair. One of the walls collapsed when Kazimir poked it with his glaive, and the first floor balconies looked as if they would do the same if we tried to climb onto them. Anyway, we managed to find some inscriptions around the base of the wall that repeatedly spelled out ‘LYVAR HAWKRAN’ – presumably the name of the warden. Around the back of the building we could only find the remains of the prison cess pit, which we decided not to investigate further. Poking our heads inside the open main doors showed us a large chamber but nothing in there of any note that we could see through the gloom.

We decided to head back to town, but wanted to take another look at the lake on the way. Kazimir decided my small stone probably wouldn’t have had any effect, so proceeded to lob in a fairly hefty boulder. Nothing happened to begin with, so we started to walk away. A few seconds later, the water started to bubble up and three skeletons started to emerge from the depths of the pool.

This scared me so much I was physically ill and I got out of there quickly, leaving my companions to their fate.