Thursday, 26 April 2012

Extract from Rioja Hyrule's diary

Whilst the rest of the party are sleeping, Korum Proudfoot gets bored on watch. He has struck up a good friendship and level of trust with all of his new companions, but he is forever curious. Since arriving on the new plane looking for unicorns, he has found Rioja Hyrule's diary and scroll collection. He has decided to copy them down for 'safe keeping'. Keep it quiet, no-one knows of these night time purloinings...

Map of Khorvaire...

Extracts from Rioja Hyrule's diary...

written by Russell, who plays the magic user in our game - I don't wish to have it thought I'd steal his IP - unlike Korum! :-)
From the diary of Rioja Hyrule (the day we found the hidden study):

Today we got our first real clues about unicorns, after spending days adrift in this strangely dark wilderness. After the terrors of the night in the barn, we discovered in another of the buildings a hidden study, filled with tomes of unicorn research, along with research notes of the inhabitant, of whom there was no sight.

In the main house we'd found books of fairy tales which included references to unicorns, but in the hidden study there was more scholarly work. Some were detailed collections of the mythology of unicorns, and other legendary creatures. Some speculated on the other planes of existence these creatures inhabited. Others chronicled those who'd claimed to have been to these planes.

Unfortunately the best of these claims was by one "Ilfrid the Unsane". He claimed that in certain areas of land one could dig down, along, then up again, and enter one of these plains. He even claimed to have been there and back, returning with a unicorn horn as proof! 

The notes taken by the house's researcher took these claims far more seriously than any of our party did. He was studying many of these "planeswalking" rumours in the books, but had highlighted this Ilfrid's instructions and clearly believed them. He was even planning how to protect himself once he got through to the other side, deciding to take weapons rather than trust in hired help. 

I'm unsure who is more 'unsane' - Mr Unsane, or the unsane researcher that wanted to follow him!

From the diary of Rioja Hyrule (the day we found the tunnel):

Yesterday's mockery of Ilfrid's story has proven unwise. A hidden passageway discovered in the hidden study led us down, then along, then up... teleporting us into what is clearly a different plane. No unicorns here, instead the dead body of the researcher, slashed repeatedly, greeted us.

We found more of his research notes upon his person, initially commenting on the very bright moon, but quickly turning into the scribbles of a man afraid of the forest that surrounded him. He reported seeing many man-sized creates in the forest. We assume it was these breasts that killed him.

Given this turn of events, I decided to take the rumours in the books I've brought more seriously. Before bed all I learn is that unicorns are said to live deep within forests, but are only ever seen on the outskirts or plains near forests. I would dearly love to read more, but I must study the new scroll I have obtained to fully understand it magical powers.

AD&D Campaign - Session 2 - 25/04/12

Session 2: Other Planes (25th April 2012)
The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
NPC (Human) - the guide

The fourth day (morning)

After an uneventful night, the adventurers rose from what little slumber they could manage and began to prepare for their next day’s journey further south. Whilst stacking firewood, the Elf spotted a small dust cloud in the distance. The party took up a variety of defensive positions, with Arken the Cleric, Bardan the Fighter, Rioja the Mage and the Guide continuing to look like they were collecting the supply of firewood, whilst Knil the Ranger and Korum the Thief took up position in the upper storey of the barn to get a good view on the yard below, bow and crossbow at the ready. The cloud slowly revealed a small cart with a single occupant.

The adventurers in the yard hailed their greetings and the journeyman alighted from his cart. After a brief discussion it was found out that he was an itinerant merchant on the plains. Whilst discussing his wares it turned out the merchant had a magical sword in his stock (determined by the subtle use of the Cleric’s divine magic). Negotiations got off to a poor start after the initial price of 2,500 Gold was asked, so the merchant called for help from his hired muscle that was lying down in the back of the cart. With a fully armoured warrior at his side the merchant became more confident. He started his negotiations from what he thought was the stronger position. Arken and Bardan were dismayed by his lack of movement on the price, due to not being able to find that amount of cash, so offered the party’s services as part payment. The merchant was unconvinced the party could offer him more protection than his own hired sword and a scuffle started. Seeing this from his vantage point in the barn, Korum let loose with his crossbow at the merchant as he was the least armoured. The bolt flew true and hit him in the arm. Weapons were readied again on both sides, but Arken diplomatically defused the situation and healed the merchant after a little argument over whether the bolt should be pushed through the arm or withdrawn. Tempers steadied, so Arken, again, offered the protective services of the party in part payment for the sword. The merchant would not budge and decided to take his leave. Arken smashed one of the cart’s wheels using his divine magic and the negotiations now turned in favour of the party. Knil saw the scuffle about to start up again so shot at the horse pulling the merchant’s cart. It hit the horse’s rump causing it to buck and throw the merchant from the cart. The merchant’s guard was cowed by threats from Bardan and the obvious superior fire power of the party, so the merchant had no choice but to agree to the party’s terms. The sword passed into the party’s possession.

It was decided that the party would move out after they had rested, fixed the cart wheel (which Rioja did using his newly learned Mending spell) and collected firewood for their journey. Korum had, in the meantime, come down from his hidey-hole but Knil remained hidden (the party still needed an ace up their sleeves) and idle chatter was entered into. The merchant mentioned that he knew the owner of the house but hadn’t seen him in quite a while. He asked the party what they were doing out here in the plains, but their answer of “looking for unicorns” was met with a snort of derision and the snippet that the owner of this farmstead was obsessed with unicorns. Once the conversation was over and the wheel on his cart fixed, the merchant mentioned he had another client to see. He left the sword and the party to their own devices and took off in a cloud of dust.

Whilst waiting for the cleric to recover from his magical exertions, Rioja and Korum decided to explore the rest of the farmstead; there was one building they had not entered yet. The other three stood guard over Arken and worked on completing the tasks in readiness for moving on.

The house

The two adventurers entered the third building but found it relatively empty. There were many small, carved unicorns dotted all over the room and a few items of furniture. A few of the unicorns found their way into a variety of pockets of both the mage and the thief. There was a half-eaten meal on the table, but any thoughts of eating it were firmly put away as the food was rotten and smelled awful. After checking the safety of the flight of stairs at one end of the room, which led up to a small sleeping chamber, the pair of adventurers continued on. Searching this upper storey room only provided more carved unicorns but, behind a closet, a door was discovered. After a swift search for traps, Korum opened the door which led down into darkness.

Rioja decided to go back to the rest of the party to enlist their help, but Korum couldn’t wait so continued on alone. At the bottom of the stairs, the thief saw that the narrow passageway hidden in the walls opened out into a small study. He lit a few torches to make things easier to see and scoured the room. There was a huge desk in the middle of the room and a large book case against one wall. The desk had a couple of books open on it, alongside a large number of hand-written papers. Further searching revealed more books on the shelves of the book case, more of the small, carved unicorns, but one much larger one. Korum made a mental note of everything, carefully picked up the papers and books on the desk and made his way back to the rest of the party.

Korum gave the scrolls and books over to the magic users of the party and described what he had seen. It was mutually decided they would send the rest of the day searching through the office and stay one more night at the farmstead – anyway, the merchant still hadn’t come back.

The whole party, except for the guide, returned to the underground office to search it. The first place that was looked at was the desk. It had six drawers. Korum opened these in swift succession revealing more hand-written documents, a scroll with strange writing on it (which Rioja snapped up with great gusto), a shiny new short sword (which Korum buckled on), a magical ring (which Arken purloined) and a couple of purses containing gold coins that Korum secreted away on his person without anyone else seeing. The desk was searched thoroughly but upon trying to push the last drawer back in, it caught on something. Korum couldn’t work out what was blocking it so got Bardan to give it a tug. The front of the drawer came off in his hands. Realising there may be something important behind the drawer, Korum asked Bardan to shift the desk so he could see; it didn’t budge. Bardan used his great axe and tried to smash it out of the way but the axe bounced off a solid steel interior. All the wooden panels of the desk were removed revealing a solid metal desk set into the concreted ground. This convinced the party that there must be something beneath it. Korum thought it may be a combination type release mechanism so started playing with the drawers, pulling them out and pushing them in, in a variety of logical sequences. Rioja remembered seeing some numbers “5 1 3” on a piece of the paper he had just skimmed through and realised that they may be part of a sequence – possibly for the desk.

Their research was going to take some time, so the magic using side of the party retired back to the barn to read, digest and discuss the books and scrolls that had been found. Many clues to the owner of the farmstead and his search for unicorns were found but most importantly it was discovered that the scroll was the Magic Missile spell, which Rioja copied into his spell book. The ring turned out to be some form of protective ring which Arken deduced with an augury. He gave it to the mage who was the least protected of the party.

Korum worked out the remaining sequence by listening carefully to the clicks and the movement of the drawers in and out of the desk. Once the correct combination was found (513426), the desk popped up from its concrete slots and easily swung round. Bardan and Korum decided they would leave the exploration under the desk until the morrow, as the day was starting to wane. They grabbed the largest carved unicorn (which happened to be painted), reset the desk into its slots and closed the doors on their way out.

The guide and Knil had finished their preparations for the night; setting the fire places and so on, so the party set watches. Nothing happened of note except that on the third watch a scream was heard in the distance. It may have been from a person, an animal or even the wind playing tricks, but Korum could not tell.

The fifth day: Going underground

After a good rest and a hearty breakfast, the party decided to split up to investigate both the desk and the merchant’s tracks. Knil, Bardan and Arken followed the tracks made by the merchant, the guide looked after the horses and a cart and started to collect the wood for that night, and Korum and Rioja decided to head back down to the basement office.

The cart tracks left the farmstead, heading south, but after only a short distance, the merchant’s cart was espied. The horse and the merchant were severely mauled as if by some wild creature, but there was no sign of the guard and confusing tracks everywhere. The party searched the cart for anything of use but didn’t find anything except a pouch of gold that Arken pocketed. They returned to the farmstead.

Meanwhile, Rioja and Korum had returned to the desk, input the code and sprung open the mechanism. They easily pushed the desk aside, although it creaked a little through disuse, and saw a bare earth floor beneath. The earth wasn’t compacted and was quite easy to remove by hand, but the trowel found under the desk proved more than sufficient to reveal a wooden trapdoor beneath. This was pulled open to reveal a dark shaft with a ladder on one wall leading down. Korum made to go straight down but Rioja warned him of the dangers of descending into dark places without any support. Korum chose to ignore the advice and made his way down the shaft. The shaft descended about 30’ and then led away along a featureless corridor for about 50’ and turned right. This part of the corridor led on for about 10’ before another shaft led directly upwards at the end of it. Korum’s infravision could not make out more than 20’ up the shaft so he lit a few torches. In the meantime, Rioja had heard a noise upstairs, so went back to investigate. Luckily the commotion was just the rest of the party returning.

Whilst Rioja was away convincing the party to join them down the shaft (it was a very tight fit for Bardan) Korum investigated the upper part of the shaft further. It seemed to be a wall of darkness, but not like the darkness that had been assailing the party for the previous few nights. He took a torch with him up the ladder set into the wall and noticed that the torch could go into and be withdrawn without any damage. He then took a pebble from his pocket and threw it up into the darkness. It did not come back down. 

By now the rest of the party had caught up and decided what to do. He explained what had happened and Rioja revealed that this situation was very similar to something he had read in the papers that were found. Arken asked if he could borrow the mage’s ring and if anyone had any rope. When Korum supplied it he tied it around his ankle, gave the other end to Bardan to hold and ascended the ladder to the darkness. He put his ringed hand in but felt nothing untoward, although his hand started to numb slightly. When he withdrew it, it was perfectly OK. He decided to climb right in. The rope attached to his ankle fell down from the shaft, severed a few feet from where his foot would have been. He didn’t come back down. Bardan decided to follow his compatriot leaving the rest of the party to ponder their situation.

After careful deliberation they decided to follow their two friends. Korum headed back to the barn and told their guide what they were doing. He said that if they didn’t return within 5 days, the cart, horses and all provisions etc would be his to do with as he pleased. He offered to join them, proffering his abilities as a guide and an archer, but Korum declined saying they needed someone to guard their possessions. He grabbed a few bags of rations and water and headed back to the shaft.

Another plane

Knil, Rioja and Korum had a quick, final discussion on the merits of the facts about accessing other planes of existence contained in the material read the night before, then proceeded to climb up the ladder.

They passed through a zone of numbing cold and emerged in a forest. There was no sign of the shaft they had just come up, but looking around they saw that Bardan was propped up against a tree and Arken was motionless on the forest floor.

Luckily both were just resting and they began to explain what had happened to them since they had arrived. They realised time was measured differently here and the days seemed to be only 9 hours long when watching the motion of the sun. When they arrived they had found the mauled body of the owner of the farmstead. They had also discovered that if wood was cut from a tree, or grass was plucked from the ground, the removed item disappeared. They realised that they didn’t have enough firewood for a long night if the terrors of the previous few nights returned; just a few torches that Korum had brought with him.

After a quick discussion they decided to head deeper into the forest rather than out onto the plains towards the mountains that could be seen through the boles of the trees. As the day wore on, a set of tracks crossed their path. They decided to follow them as the three-toed feet seemed to match the claw pattern of the wounds on the dead investigator back in the clearing.

Night was closing in fast, so they decided it would be time to make camp for rest. They moved away from the tracks and found a small alcove in which they could huddle. No fire was lit, so they ate a cold meal, much to the disgruntlement of Korum. They set watches and turned in to sleep.

A few hours into the night, the moon rose; it was very bright, matching the descriptions from the papers that had been read. Maybe they were onto something here? Is this the place where unicorns were found? That question would need to be answered over the coming days. On the final watch, Bardan spotted movement amongst the trees. He picked up his axe and moved towards the others to wake them. Just as he was doing this, a man-sized humanoid shape exploded from the shadows and made directly for him. Claws flashed at Bardan, scoring gashes upon his body similar to those seen previously on the dead investigator, but his axe returned the compliment. Confused by being woken in such a start both the thief and ranger fired into the combat narrowly missing Bardan. Arken was next into the combat, and whilst the ranger reloaded his bow, Korum headed round behind the creature. By the time Rioja has started preparing his offensive spell, Bardan and Arken had made short work of the creature. It fell to the ground dead.

However, within seconds of it hitting the forest floor, the body had disappeared leaving only bloodstains on the weapons that had hit it.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

New Blog title

I thought the old blog name was a little tired and needed a bit of razzing up. So, after much scratching of heads (they don't call me Zaphod junior for nothing) I came up with the latest title; actually, I had just been watching Wallace and Gromit with the kids and it kind of leapt out at me. Now, I'm not sure what that change is going to do to everyone's Blogger links (presumably it is based on the URL rather than anything like the actual name of the blog, so there shouldn't be any issues), but you never know with these things.

I've not really been up to much painting wise recently, but those Chronicle Hobgoblins are so very close to completion (next week, I promise). I have managed to get some actual gaming in, which is always great, and hopefully more of the same this week too. I have so many ideas buzzing around my head now due to all of these influences: there's my old set of gaming chums who I pbm with, Duncan and SoBH, and now the AD&D gang down at the Lewisham club to add to the mix.

I am hoping to get back to doing some painting again this coming weekend as I have quite a bit on my paint station: the aforementioned Hobgoblins, a very large force of Norman Knights, the rest of my Rohan army and the finishing touches to a HotT goblin and orc army too.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

AD&D campaign - Session 1 - 18/04/2012

Well, I plucked up the courage over the weekend and emailed a local-ish RPG club. The Role Play Haven is based in Lewisham, south-east London, which is on my way home from work. The club meets every Wednesday evening.

So, I attended my first AD&D session for nigh on 20 years last night, but I wasn't the only one. A coulpe of other new members appeared on the same day and we were all invited to participate in an AD&D Ver2 campaign. As with all new campaigns and gaming groups, it takes a little bit of time to get into and remember all the place/character/player names. Anyway, here is a write up of our first adventure in this campaign (it has only been running for a couple of weeks prior to us joining). Place and character names have been purposefully left out due to not being able to remember any but my own so far but, as time goes on, these details will be fleshed out.

Session 1: The Quest Begins (18th April 2012)

In a previous session, the party had come into possession of an orb that supposedly contains the nemesis of a great evil. They had discovered a few clues on how to activate it; namely, it required a Unicorn’s horn, a Troll’s heart and another unknown ingredient.

A Chance Meeting
The three new characters, a human wizard, an Elf fighter and the Halfling thief, Korum Proudfoot, were hired to guard a caravan that was due to travel from one town to the next (an estuary port). The members of the original party, a human fighter and a half-Elf cleric, were also hired as extra muscle, but their intent was to be able to travel safely to the port. Upon setting off, the party got to know one another and the story of the orb came up in conversation. The original party members had clues as to where a mythical Unicorn may be found – the southern plains. All agreed to join in the quest for finding these items.

The port
The caravan journey was uneventful and the party arrived safely in the port. After such a dusty, boring journey the party decided to whet their whistles in a local inn. After throwing a couple of GPs each onto the counter, the party managed to book themselves a cosy room or two with ale and breakfast thrown in. They then started asking around for ways to get to the large inland lake which was situated on the border of the plains, up river from the port. Word soon got to them that a certain one-eyed salt would be able to aid them. With this information gained, the Halfling went out to pick some pockets to gain a little extra cash to pay for his room, and the fighter and cleric decided to pay a visit on this one-eyed captain.

After many unsuccessful negotiations with other captains for passage up river (most failed due to cost or unwillingness to travel that way), the old captain was found. He was drunk and belligerent and would not hire out his boat (which he called a ship). The party decided to try to buy the vessel from him, in which they succeeded in doing but then found that they didn’t have a crew. The one-eyed captain mentioned he might be able to serve in this capacity; for a fee! The party decided to retire to the inn for the night and continue their journey on the morrow.

The fishing village
Upon awakening, the party packed their belongings and headed to the harbour to board their new boat. The captain was good for his word and welcomed them aboard their new acquisition. The hold was well stocked with rations and many, many kegs of beer, which the captain started helping himself to as soon as he was able. Despite being a drunk, he was an able captain, sailing with any breeze that sprung up and with the oars manned by all except the Halfling in calmer weather; they made good time reaching the fishing village.

Upon arrival, the cleric approached the local authorities and paid them the harbouring stipend and a hefty bonus of 20GP to make sure that their boat didn’t sail away before they returned from their journeys south onto the plains. The old captain was left to his own devices; the boat was well stocked with beer!

The cleric sought out a tavern and started asking around if anyone knew if there were any Unicorns in the vicinity. After guffaws of laughter from the patrons of the tavern, he decided to leave the establishment to find the rest of the party and help them look for transportation to the southern part of the plains. In the meantime, the Halfling had investigated the local stables (no unicorns there!) and the others had noticed a handful of carts and wagons situated close by.

When they all met up again, a drunken reveller erupted from the tavern and started cavorting around with a chair leg held to his forehead proclaiming that he was a unicorn. He was ignored and the party entered the tavern to try to arrange transportation.

There were several merchants sat at a table and these were approached first. None of them wished to help to begin with, but eventually one was talked into negotiating a price. Negotiations did not go well, and his price remained high despite the cleric’s liberal use of magic to persuade him otherwise. The merchant promised to meet them the next day with his cart and made his way home. The cleric and fighter decided to follow him, caught up with him, and with a liberal use of muscle power and healing spells persuaded him he could do it cheaper than his previously quoted price. They let him go on the promise of transportation for the morrow.

Meanwhile, one of the merchants pulled out what he said was a Unicorn horn. It looked like a horn from the mythical creature but the Halfling did not trust the merchant and said he would have his friend check it over on the morrow. The party retired to their boat for sleep, setting watches, but the night passed quietly.

After a good night’s sleep the party made their way to the stables where they were due to meet the merchant, only to find his wagon gone. This caused them a little consternation, so they returned to the tavern to find another who may take up their offer of gold for passage across the plains. The cleric checked over the Unicorn horn and declared it magical, but the party would not pay the price being asked. They stole it instead!

Another patron of the tavern mentioned that he was a guide for the Plains and knew them quite well. After a quick negotiation, the party agreed to his price. Whilst the guide was hitching up his horse to his cart, the Elf checked out the tracks from the other merchant’s cart. They headed due south but were around four hours old, so the party set off in pursuit of the missing merchant as he was travelling in the general direction they were headed.

The Plains
The tracks were quite clear for a while, and the journey remained uneventful until the late afternoon when the Elf espied a cart in the middle of nowhere. They approached it cautiously but found it to be completely empty. The cart was surrounded by dozens of sets of hoof prints but nothing else. The guide mentioned that there were many horse traders on these plains as it was good country for raising stock. The party decided to wait for a horse trader to appear so they could salvage the second cart. They didn’t have to wait long for a dust cloud to appear on the horizon. A band of a dozen horse traders rode up and hailed the party. The adventurers negotiated for three new horses (two to pull the abandoned wagon and a spare) and hitched them up in a caravan. They travelled on for a few more hours until the light started to fade and stopped to make camp for the night. They asked their guide if he had seen any Unicorns, but he just gave a wry smile and said that he hadn’t. He was then presented with the stolen horn, but all he did was grab it, snap it in half revealing it was a simulacrum and asked how much they paid for it. When it was revealed they hadn’t paid a copper for it, he sounded his relief and mentioned that this was a common merchant’s trick.

The first night
The adventurers set two watches and a couple of camp fires and settled down for the night. During the second watch, the Elf and half-Elf spotted movement in the darkness all around them. They couldn’t make anything out using their infravision so lit a few more torches and woke the rest of the party. When shapes appeared in the darkness, the party approached them with torches, but the shapes retreated from the flames and melted away again. The Halfling lit a fire arrow and shot it from his crossbow at the shapes but even though the bolt hit nothing solid, the darkness edged away from it. Similarly, a light spell from eth cleric only served to push the shadows back temporarily. The night seemed to last a little longer than it should have done and the adventurers started their journey next day a little more tired than when they went to their bedrolls.

The second night
The second day was no different to the first; unending horse country to every horizon. The guide started to doze in his seat, but the horses seemed to know where they were going, so the party let the carts plod along whilst they stopped off to gather firewood, dried horse dung and whatever else they could find for making fires and torches. Towards evening they spotted a small farmstead in the distance. They approached with caution but were greeted at the threshold by a friendly goodwife who offered them use of her home for the night in return for just good company and tales of the outside world. The party repaid her kindness with providing the food for the evening meal and plenty of beer. The goodwife provided a few dust covered bottles of excellent quality wine. She mentioned she didn’t get many visitors and that her husband was away south on a fool’s errand looking for Unicorns! He had been gone a while but had not returned yet, although he mentioned he may be gone for a couple of months.

The party set watches throughout the night but nothing happened until third watch when the half-Elf cleric spotted movement in the darkness again. He awoke the rest of the party and they secured the wagons and horses by setting more fires around them for safety. Their responses to the encroaching shadows within the dark were the same as the night before, but they did notice that the darkness could actually move around the sentinel fires like water flows around a stone. This was disconcerting as the fires would need to be set in complete circles and corridors to stop the darkness’ approaches. However, before the dawn approached, the darkness slipped away.

The third night
After saying their goodbyes to the goodly woman, leaving her more food and beer in return for more of her good wine, the party set off again. They soon picked up a trail and decided to follow it as it didn’t take them too far off their own path. The guide had slept throughout the previous night’s encounters, so was fully refreshed. Nothing much occurred throughout the journey, other than the occasional stop to water the horses and collect more combustible materials. Towards evening they spotted a small hamlet of four or five buildings in the distance. They approached it cautiously but found there was little movement to be seen. The ground was covered in horse tracks, but strangely the tracks became an orderly track between the buildings only to become chaotic again on the other side of the village. The Halfling jumped off the wagon and cautiously crept into what seemed the principal building. After carefully picking his way around the inside he declared it empty of inhabitants and traps – the inch thick dust layer probably went some way to alleviating any nervousness they had.

The party stripped the house of all its wooden furniture and pulled the wagons and horses into the nearby barn, where they proceeded to light a fire at each entrance and in the middle, thus dispelling all shadows that may have lurked in the corners. They settled down to sleep, setting watch in turns again.

Well into the third watch, the half-elf again spotted movements outside. He awoke the rest of the party who took up defensive positions. He opened the door a crack, but a strong gust of wind blew the door fully open and extinguished all of the fires within the barn. He quickly cast a light spell and the darkness was pushed back fifteen feet. There was movement within the darkness again, but this time it seemed to coalesce into a more or less humanoid shape; two arms, a head and body. The cleric pulled back from the edge of the light and decided to apply his shield arm with doubled up chain mail. He approached the light/dark boundary again and placed half of his arm (that with the shield and mail) over it. The fighter held his other arm in case he needed to be pulled back in a hurry. The dark shape started to coalesce again and leapt at the proffered arm. The cleric cast an offensive spell and the Halfling, who was on the first floor, shot a bolt at the shape. The bolt passed straight through the shape and it could be heard thudding into the ground beneath it, but the Spiritual Hammer dealt a blow to the dweller in the dark and it retreated. Magic could harm whatever was hidden in the darkness.

The fires were relit and the rest of the night passed without incident.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

AD&D Version1 Characters

These are the stats I got from randomly rolling 11 characters on the online random character generation system on the Dragonsfoot website.

Sex Class Align Str Int Wis Dex Con Cha Age Height Weight
1 Male Ranger NG 16 13 15 12 14 15 21 5'10" 175lbs
2 Male Fighter CN 16 9 15 12 15 15 17 6'2" 182lbs
3 Male Fighter CG 16 11 13 11 14 9 17 6'3.5" 197lbs
4 Male Fighter CG 17 8 10 13 14 15 17 6'11" 218lbs
5 Male Thief CN 13 14 10 16 11 13 20 5'0" 127lbs
6 Male Cleric NG 13 14 17 12 13 8 21 6'6" 175lbs
7 Male Magic User CG 12 15 14 13 6 15 31 5'7" 175lbs
8 Female Fighter NG 15 13 11 11 13 13 16 5'1.5" 135lbs
9 Female Thief CN 12 12 14 15 10 11 20 5'6" 125lbs
10 Female Cleric NG 10 14 15 13 15 12 22 5'1.5" 132lbs
11 Female Magic User CG 10 15 12 14 13 10 29 4'9" 168lbs

These stats give me quite a bit to work with, and from the stat lines alone I can see some real characters in there; for example, the female mage who is 4'9" tall and weighs in at 168lbs, or the male fighter at 6'11" and 218lbs. I can see the interactions between these two already. The leader of the band was a specially rolled Ranger (I had visions of Strider with this one) and I rolled up a mixture from the four major classes. I will undoubtedly roll some other rarer classes in future once party attrition has set in, but I was aiming for an initial eight characters to start with. These will be a mixture of pbm characters for my online gaming chums and the rest will be NPCs that I will control. I will be using these in my forthcoming Village of Hommlet campaign. All will have maximum HP at 1st level, have minimal equipment (just the clothes they stand up in, specific class tools and a weapon each), and they will each have a pouch of silver to buy further equipment and to pay for their board and lodgings. The rest of their kit will have to be scavenged, stolen or acquired in some other way.

The Village of Hommlet module is actually quite a tough one (I ran it when I first started out playing D&D many moons ago), so that is why all the characters will start off with maximum HPs. I am hoping it will last for a year or two play time, utilising a variety of playing styles (PBM, face-to-face etc.) and come to a reasonable conclusion.

The map is ready, I now need to go back and re-read the module and plan how to introduce the players to each other. There are several sub-plots and I have to create a back-story/quest for each character too that needs to be accomplished some time during the campaign.

I will work on this from time to time over the next few weeks and publish any new info as I finalise it. I may also need to try to find some miniatures for these and their adversaries too.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Songs of Blades and Heroes: Beyond the Andraswald

Saturday saw the hordes of the Cantwara descend upon the Suth Sexena. A crossing of the border through the great Andraswald was needed to disguise the numbers involved. Upon arrival at Chez Dunc, battle, or more accurately three battles, commenced.

We started off with a Songs of the Splintered Lands match up. An ambush was set up by the lord Basil Stag Hare and his two cousins; Sage Longfletch (an archer of reknown) and Thyme Grass Runner (a spearman of great repute). They were aided and abetted by Salt Brockley (a heavily armoured badger) and a motley assembly of four shrews who were contantly foaming at the mouth in a berserk rage; perhaps they hadn't had enough beer the night before or the Easter Bunny was not due in their neck of the woods on the morrow and they would miss out on the chocolate eggs?

Anyway, Dunc has pictures and a Bat Rep of the encounter in his Tome of Legendary Encounters. I really must start taking down a camera so I can report on these shindigs too. This first battle consisted of my SSL warband above fighting against a well-balanced crew of badgers, mice and magic. What we took away from this encounter was the effectiveness of the Hare archer, the unpredictability of raging shrews and that one must protect the magician at all costs if there are ranged attacks available. This time my dice rolls were either very high (resulting in my badger staying alive against far superior foes) or very low (especially the inability to activate due to many very low rolls in succession). This first encounter all turned on the Gruesome kill and the resulting Morale checks, followed almost straight away by loss of the Mouse leader resulting in further Morale checks.

The second encounter had my same SSL warband encounter a bunch of doughty Dwarfs. This time Dunc did the ambushing. His Hero on Bear made short work of my Hare archer (a wise move considering how effective he was in the previous battle) before he could inflict any damage and due to my poor activation rolls, my other hard hitters (the Badger and other two Hares) hardly moved before the Dwarfs got to them. I lost the Hare Spearman very quickly too, but in reply I was able to take out the Hero on Bear. My host started to break up due to poor activation rolls and were spread all over the field and were sure to be butchered one at a time. Then my luck changed with the dice and the whole tide of battle turned. A couple more Dwarfs fell and due to the small size of the warband, soon hit 50% and required a Morale check. "Hold Fast!" seemed to be the battle call of the Dwarfs (Dunc was beginning to catch my bug of activation failure) from that point on and the remainder were quickly mopped up. Two nil to the Kentishmen.

The third, and final, battle saw Dunc's all conquering Saxon army pitted against a very small but heavily armed Dwarf warband (in 28mm this time). The board was twice the size to incorporate the larger scale. Dunc charged his cavalry at the slow moving Dwarfs only to have them cut down very rapidly. His infantry followed up and some got into the combat quite quickly. A Dwarf fell to his champion but he was then beaten off by the rest of the slow moving warband. A couple more kills courtesy of the Dwarf Crossbows led to a rout, and from then on the war cry of the Saxons was "Run Away! Run Away!" The rest of the Saxon warband were slaughtered or ran off the board, the final chap being Gruesomely Killed. We learned a good deal from this battle -
1) Do not split your forces, especially fast moving cavalry as they wind up isolated and easily cut down.
2) Dwarfs are rock hard and will generally win a toe-to-toe battle.
3) Dwarfs also have crossbows and can hit from a distance.

Anyway, frivolities over, we retired to Dunc's Great Hall to repast on more fantastic cuisine courtesy of Mrs Dunc and a chat about all things gaming and books we are currently reading.

A rematch is in the offing - maybe Dunc has something up his sleevies to crush the eastern barbarians next time round? We also both thought about the possibility of playing Saga, which we both promised to pick up maybe at Salute or elsewhere before we next meet. I have a big stack of Norman cavalry on my painting bench, so maybe I could pit those against Dunc's Saxon dogs?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Princesses and Rainbows

I ordered a few figures from EBob for my daughters a few weeks back. I got them a queen and lady miniature each to start their painting careers on. My youngest daughter, Cerys (she's six), finished hers the weekend just gone.

Here is the maid...

And here is the queen...

She chose the colours and did all of the painting herself. I glued them to the bases (not letting her near superglue just yet) but she PVAd the sand and static grass.

I think she has done a cracking job considering she has only done school paintings and a paint by numbers previously - nothing three dimensional. The flash has bleached them out a little but there isn't any shading on them so far. I will grab a few more for her to paint soon, and see about doing some shading and highlighting. She had her first taste of dry brushing on the sand on the base.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

More of Alex's LotR minis

We were all busy with the brushes this weekend. First up are Alex's efforts. He has moved along with his Lord of the Rings figures and managed to complete 3 major heroes with another few almost ready.

First up is a mounted Aragorn. He has started to put some of his leaders onto display bases, as have I. This is to allow them to be more easily seen on the battle field as well as give them a more distinguished look...

Next up is Elrond. For some reason he decided not to paint the eyes and it gives the figure a weird look. It only took him a few hours to paint though.

Finally, here is Alex's favourite Elven hero - Glorfindel. Again he put this onto a display base and put a lot more effort into the cloak and armour (which can't really be seen in the photo).

He has also just recently bought a few more Elven Heavy Spearmen to go with the ones he painted up last year. He is collecting an Elven army for LotR, as they are his favourite army. I guess I will have to get my orcs and goblins painted soon so I can battle him.