Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Quick book reports


I busted through a couple of Horus Heresy novels the first Garro, which is a retelling of the audiobooks which I have stayed away from and the second was The Crimson King. A follow up to 2010 the A Thousand Sons novel.

Garro    


Captain Nathaniel Garro, one time loyal Death Guard has seen a bunch of stuff happen; his primarch and legion turn from the good to bad, the corruption of the chaos on his brethren and the whole Eisenstein escape bit and having to deal with the loyal Astartes when coming from a traitor legion.
He is now in service to Malcador the Sigilite, Regent of Terra. He has been tasked to gather like-minded or similar background Space Marines picked by Malcador for a mission.
Along the way you discover the fate of one Gavriel Loken, and Euphrati Keeler the rembrancer turned prophet, saint or whatever she is. This is leading to the foundation of the Imperial Cult which we all know about in the 40K history. The whole God Emperor bit and all that. You also get a bit of the build to Horus approaching Terra (because why not drag that out for several more books) how the Imperium is dealing with this fact. The idea that the Imperium of Man is on the verge of collapse or at best go through a radical change. You also get a look at a secret army and organization being built/founded by Malcador. They aren’t saying these are the Grey Knights and Inquisition, but they are not not saying it either.

Garro wasn’t a terrible read, but it wasn’t great either. Another filler novel to make the wait of the Horus vs. Emperor story drag out longer.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Monsters: Slimes, Molds, Goops, Gleeps and Yuck

A group of monsters that I never really take advantage of: the oozes, slimes, jellies, goops, globs and the like.
I always liked this concept of slime monsters from World o' Warcraft.
Why not transfer this to D&D?


Every edition has these gloopy monsters and I think ,many of them, they are as iconic as goblins and orcs. I mean green slime, yellow mold and gelatinous cubes have been there forever. Yet I really don’t bother with using them, well unless you count one occurrence with a grey ooze, a cleric of Bane and a 1st edition module………….


So why no love from me?

Well they aren’t really cool or fun. They just gloop and glop around the game. They are pretty boring as a monster. I mean they can be easily avoided. Well unless you force the party to have to deal with it in a blind hallway/locked room type scenario, but that is kind of a dick move to use against your party just to shoehorn in a slime creature.

They are usually lone gunman encounters too. I mean it isn’t like you can have the party face a horde of slimes, molds or jellies. That would be stupid. So, they are easy to ignore and avoid. This is common when I have thrown them out for the party to face. Sure, I almost caught our dragonborn rouge with a gelatinous cube full of shiny objects, but the rest of the party pulled him back to safety and then avoided it. Yeah, avoidance of these evil puddles is too easy, so they make for a drek random encounter.

These amorphous blobs of goop confuse my players too. They never know if they eat metal, eat flesh or both. They have no idea about their strengths and weaknesses either. They are kind of an enigma. I think that is a problem for most player groups. They just generally scare and confuse the party and this just leads to them once again being avoided.


It is hard to base a game around a big pile of pudding. I mean you can work a game or campaign with a ton of monsters as the threat. How do you make an entire game about a threat from yellow mold or ochre jelly? Even if you did how do you make it fun? I have never come up with a scenario that wouldn’t end with the party just leaving to do something else instead.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

D&D Post Game 4-7-2018 Part 3

The Old Grist Mill

The party deftly crossed the small rickety bridge that lead to the small plot of dry swampland housing the grist mill. The party split up to investigate the area. The barbarian moved toward the silos. The monk headed straight to the mill. The rouge went to examine a giant pile of what looked like swamp debris near the waterwheel.
 
The Barbarian’s search
The barbarian gave the collapsed silo a good look over, but found nothing of interest. The silo looked like it had collapsed due to a combination of the swamp environment, weather and lack of up keep. All he managed to find was the remains of what might have been grain and a few big hairy spiders.
 
He noticed that the second silo was in much better shape as he approached it. He also saw what looked to be the outline of a small door in the side facing the mill. From a distance the door was not noticeable, but as he got closer there was a definitely a door made to look like the side of the silo.
He cracked it open. Inside he found the remnants of a few sacks of grain, a very large rat chewing on said sack of grain and large wooden palate on the ground that had what looked to be two large rocks on it. He got closer and realized that these were not just rocks, but chunks of unrefined gold ore. A clue!

 
It was then that he heard a voice calling to him from farther up in the silo. As he looked up he saw a strange creature floating down towards him. It was essentially an orb with a mouth, a large central eye and four smaller eyestalks. As it descended it struck up a conversation about his master, delivery, pick-up, why there was a new guy instead of the usual little ones, if he knew if the password was still Purple Fish?
 
The barbarian responded that he was here for pickup and that the password was still Purple Fish. He was a replacement for the little ones. He also asked how long he had been guarding this ore.
 
The floating eye creature knew his service had lasted fifteen years so far. It also seemed very excited to hear he was here to pick up. It seemed that the discussion of pickup meant that the barbarian was able to take the two pieces of ore. It also meant that the eye monster had nothing left to guard. It became very excited about that, as it meant it was free from further service. The eye creature thanked the barbarian and floated out the silo and off toward the swamp muttering something about seeing the world.
 
The rouge’s search
The rouge wandered over to the pile of vegetative debris. It looked like it had been pulled up from the water and deliberately piled there.
As he was poking and prodding at the pile of swamp vegetation he noticed a large flying eyeball creature float by. He prepared to defend himself, but the creature simply said hello and drifted on by him. Confused as to what he just saw, and finding nothing in the pile of plant parts, the rouge made his way over to the barbarian coming out of the silo.  (thinking a shambling mound encounter right?  Yeah I had one in the back of the mill, but spoiler…the party didn’t investigate there)
 
The monk’s search
The monk approached the door to the mill. There were a few sets of footprints leading away from the door, but no tracks leading back. The door to the mill was ajar and sat crooked as the lower hinges had broken loose. He walked in prepared for anything.
 
What he found was a slowly turning mill stone, several old rotting bags of grain, a lot of dust, many cobwebs and a set of stairs leading to the second floor. He moved up the stairs to discover a caved in ceiling, a pair of bunk beds, a table and pair of chairs that had seen better days. Finding nothing he moved back downstairs.
 
He approached the mill stone and noticed that the floor around it was different than the rest of the building. The floor boards looked almost new in comparison to the warped, weathered and dusty boards the rest of the building. He also noticed a couple of bards on the North wall that looked in similar shape to the boards under the mill stone. He removed the two boards on the wall and discovered a small lever behind them. He gave the lever a glance and didn’t see anything that he thought might be a trap or trigger so….he pulled the lever down.
 
The floor subtly shook and the sound of stone grinding began. The monk jumped back as the millstone began to slowly move back toward the wall. Below it was a set of stairs dropping down roughly one hundred feet. The appeared to be a dimly lit passage at the bottom of said stairs. A clue!
 
As the passageway opened the rouge and barbarian walked into the mill. It looked like there was much more to this mill than the outward appearance and their investigation had into it was paying off.


Friday, April 13, 2018

D&D Post Game 4-7-18 Part 2

Town Q&A
The first stop for the party was  (insert tavern here ) here they procured a room for the night and began their investigation.  What they found was little to nothing. The barmaid had seen the coins in question. She had noticed them months ago, but didn’t give much thought to them. They spent like any other gold coin. She still had a trio of them that she never spent.

They moved on over to the By-Water Brothers Trading Post. Here they fell into a huge crowd of people shopping. This was by far the largest store they had ever been. The store was more a warehouse with shelves than a typical store. It looked like anything one could want from day-to-day life to high adventuring, plus the entire place had a heavy floral aroma. Here the party found Thomas and Nicolas Soapmeister the owners of the store and also creators of the floral smell. See these two brothers come from a long line of soap makers. The Bayou Bliss, a fragrant soap with subtle hints of rose, lavender, swamp lily and cattail bloom is  their biggest seller.

The two brothers had little more to tell the party about the money. They too had noticed it began circulating a month or so ago but they were concerned about it. When they showed the chest to the brothers, they led the party to a trio of shelves holding similar made and sized chests. Another dead lead. They had also seen the slugs before on several shipments of grain from the Southern swamplands. No new news there. However, the handful of oats intrigued the brothers. They told the party that this breed of oats was grown on one plantation that had gone under years back, due to slug infestation. This plantation used a long defunct  but  nearby grist mill to grind their grain.

This was the best lead the party had. The Soapmeister brothers drew them a rough map to the location of the mill then they went back to dealing with the influx of customers. The party decided to set moving and find this grist mill, but first they were going to load up on some oil and or acid. Knowing they were heading into a swamp they wanted to be prepared for any trolls they would encounter ( like I would throw trolls out in a swamp, how boring ). The By- Water Bros store was completely sold out of any and all oil. The tree other shops in town were sold out as well. It seems the people purging had bought all the oil they could for the exact same reason. Well, they decided to head out with only a few torches and the dragonborn’s innate acid breath as their troll regeneration deterrent.



Into the swamp

The trio made their way out of town and down the small road heading east into the swamp. It was only a  mile into their trek that the well-worn road turned into a rough path and then eventually it became nothing but ankle to waist deep ( sometimes fetid sometimes fresh ) water and the occasional small patch of dry land. They kept to the directions on the map. It was obvious the route they were following was at one time very well-travelled, the majority of the trees and large vegetation had been cut back. It was almost like they were following a road that had been reclaimed by the swamp over the years.

It was about an hour after they entered the swamp proper that the trio discovered the bodies of five men dead in a small pool. Their bodies looked to have been stabbed, beaten, bitten and partially torn apart. They found weapons and equipment scattered around and floating in the pool of water. The best guess is this was a group of swamp cleansers that met something they weren’t prepared for or expecting.

Suddenly the party was pepper with a barrage if tiny darts from the underbrush. The few that managed to strike flesh burned something awful when they were removed. Thankfully, whatever poison they were laced with didn’t hinder anyone in the party.  
Next came a low throated burbling growl followed by the slashing of footfalls. Four large lizard men armed with colorful shields and wicked clubs rushed the party from the side and rear. Another salvo of poison darts flew at the party. This was followed by the appearance of another lizard man who was adorned in a feathered headdress and several bone and bead necklaces. He was waving a staff about and chanting.

The water around the monk exploded with a multitude of vines that quickly ensnared and restrained him. The lizard men behind the party rushed the rouge and entwined monk. The barbarian flew into a rage due to being ambushed and leapt at the lizard man shaman. Two quick sword slashes later and the caster was all but cut in half. The vegetation ensnaring the monk went limp and fell away. Just in time for him to engage the lizard men rushing toward him.

The rouge and monk made quick work of the quartet of lizard men warriors while the barbarian chased down the blowgun wielding lizard people. A few minutes later and the reptile ambush was over. The trio went about policing the area and rummaging through the equipment scattered about the small pool. They also tool a few  trophies from the bodies of the lizard men to turn in for bounty. They did manage to find a pair of small vials containing a very caustic acid and one bottle that was familiar to them. They had seen these when dealing with the Alchemy Guild. A bottle of chemicals that when mixed and introduced to air would produce a most fiery and loud explosion. They pocket these and the handful of coins they found and continued onwards.

Half an hour or so later as they swatted at mosquitos they were set upon by a hideous troll. The beast came rushing toward them through the ferns and Cypress knees. They drew weapons and made ready to accept the charging troll. That was when a second troll rushed them from the side! One troll is a taxing opponent and now they had two of them barreling down upon them.



The barbarian stepped up to intercept he first troll while the monk moved to face the second troll. The rouge dove into the shadows and made to flank the troll facing the monk. The barbarian drove his sword repeatedly into the troll as the creature rained blows upon him. The rouge made an attempt to backstab the second troll, but the creature was able to smell the dragonborn advancing and swatted at him to prevent the sneak attack. However, the monk’s magically infused fists did a substantial amount of damage to the rubbery skinning body of the troll. Within moments the beast was down and the dragonborns’ acid breath kept it from rising back up to fight again. The trio then piled upon the other troll and managed to drive in to the ground. Where the barbarian poured a vial of acid over the creature’s body. The rouge scrapped up some burnt troll flesh and teeth to turn in for bounty as well. Even though this trip was wet, humid, smelly and bug infested…it was looking like it would pay off when they got back to Wychlight. A 100 gold piece bounty for trolls was nothing to sneeze at!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

D&D post game 4-7-18 Part 1


We begin with the night after the previous adventure where the party helped thwart a gnoll invasion of the Southlands.

Cloveshire Keep

The monk was busy counting the strange ( but becoming more common ) gold coins they had found. As he counted them he couldn’t help holding each one and examining it further. The rouge stepped over to see what was taking so long to tally their new found gold. As he watched the monk count coins, he too became enthralled by the look of each coin. It was as if they both wanted to get more of these strange stamped coins. The barabarian saw his two companions staring like fools at coins. He didn’t notice anything special, just that they were gold coins with a half circle with four protruding rays stamped on both sides. He did notice that several of the coins the box had thumb sized orange slugs moving across them. They emptied the coins and found a few more of these slugs in the bottom of the box. There was also a handful of what looked to be seeds at the bottom of the box. The slugs seemed very interested I those seeds.

The three of them had no idea what this was about, but with contigents of soldiers from around the realm still camping at Cloveshire Keep, they asked around the campsites. The majority of the warriors had never seen these slugs before. However, the Flames of the Firstborn, from the swamp city of Wychlight, knew all about these little slimy orange creatures. They were a bit of a local menace as they loved to eat the local grains in the region. There were a few breeds of wheat, barley and oats that these slugs were attracted too. They had even been the cause of a few grain plantations losing entire fields of crops.

When shown the contents of the box they also identified the seeds. They were not actually seeds at all. They were oats. A wild variety that grows throughout the swamps.

Also the Flames of the Firstborn each had a few of these strange coins on their person. They had been moving around Wychlight for months now. They thought it was just new money that had trickled down from the Northern cities.

Well these facts were enough for the party  (well that and the fact the box was made from Cypress wood, a tree native to the swamps ) they would head to Wychlight and investigate further. Maybe this was where these strange new coins were being made. Hopefully they would find who was making them and why.

The party tagged along when the first half of the Flames of the Firstborn headed home to Wychlight.

 (Insert Creedence’s Born on the Bayou musical montage here)


Friday, April 6, 2018

D&D Pre-Game 4-7-2018

A gnome in a long coat and floppy hat hurries down a long dimly lit hall. He reaches into his coat pocket and produces a large key ring with multiple keys on it as he approaches a large wooden door. He opens said door and shuffles inside.

As the door closes he is standing in a small room. There he finds two men and a woman, dressed in filthy rags,  huddled around a small murky fluid filled metal bowl within a runic circle surrounded by candles. They were slowly rocking in place and chanting. The room is littered with scraps of parchment, food and clothing and has an indeterminate odor wafting about.



 
The sight of this squalor always offended him. The  gnome softly kicked the remains of a roasted chicken out of his way as he approached the trio. He hated dealing with this wretches, but it was the task given to him. He would not fail, for he knew how his master felt and dealt with failure. He reached into his backpack and produced a bit of parchment and a small pencil.


The three filthy humans began to shake and their eyes rolled back white. Oh how he hated when their eyes did that. It was so unnatural. The small bowl began to bubble and sputter. Soon the chanting stopped. The fluid in the bowl cleared and a finely bearded human face could be seen.

 


“Hello? Can you hear me?” said the bearded face.


“Yes we can. What news?” replied the gnome.


“Well the gnoll invasion has been repelled. The forces sent here have driven them off. It was a failure! Cloveshire still stands!”


“Quite yourself fool!” replies the gnome. “Wiping out your little castle was never the intent. The gnolls were just another piece on a larger game board. Look at what they accomplished. The lands surrounding you are in shambles. The farming villages razed. The only other bastion of safety is ruined. Where will those simpleton farmers look for safety? Who will they look to for leadership? Where is the only strong point in that region now? Think about it fool….Cloveshire Keep. You have been placed in a position of great power in that region. The only place of power. That is just one part of the master’s plan.”


The bearded human stared in silence for several seconds. “What if the gnolls had not been stopped? What is they had wiped us out?”



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Adepticon 2018 final thoughts

Another year and another load of stuff I played and saw.

What jumped out that I didn’t get to try?
What was pretty or amazing to look at?

The Narrative Guys
This ground runs narrative 40K games that look stupid awesome and fun to play.
This year it was a 40K version of the movie/novel/real event  Black Hawk Down. A crashed Imperial Fist Thunderhawk has a crew that need resucing. The city it crashed in is full of chaos cultists and marines. The crew has to hold out while a task force of Rhinos travels to rescue them.

I talked to the guys running this game for a bit and they are pretty awesome! They get that games can and should be fun. They were burned out of the competitive game scene and started this little group to play some great story driven games using established rules sets. I really need to try and get into their game next year.

Frost Grave
A not Mordheim, but totally Mordheim game and setting. They were running a big game on a sweet frozen city table. It looks like a pretty standard squad skirmish game. It looked interesting enough for  me to watch for a few turns. If only I had infinite money and time to invest in other games like this.

Freeblades
Another small tabletop skirmish game set in a fantasy world. It looked like there were  multiple factions to play. It looked like a more narrative D&D type skirmish game. The missions had more of a gaming theme than a go grab the objective feel of almost every other table top mini game. I guess they play this both narrative and competitive. I would have liked to get a demo but sadly when I had time they did not. I have seen these guys the last three years, but never looked too closely. It looks like they building a good little community around this game too.  Sadly, this is another infinite time and money game for me.

CAV and Battletech
CAV was back in the spotlight again. I remember when Reaper Minis was pimping this game. The game play was a bit iffy, but the mechs were pretty. It looks like the models are all platic/resin now instead of metal. They had a big table and were running games over the weekend. It still has a playing card bit to play. Maybe it is more like Malifaux and their deck of cards instead of dice mechanic. I didn’t see dice while people were playing.

There was a weekend long Battletech game going as well. I had tried to register for that but it was full by the time I got online. It looked to be a good introduction type game/event. Cool to see some proper giant stompy robot gaming over the weekend. A nice refresher from 40K, Sigmar’s Age, and Warmachine/Hordes and Malifaux.