A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

15 July 2014

Mail Call!

Over the weekend, I received a Mail Call extravaganza.

OK, see, that implies that I received a hefty-sized amount of mail. I don't mean to imply that. I just mean that what I got in the mail was terrific.

A week or so ago I finally had enough disposable income to jump on-board a couple of Patreon funding projects. The first one was Tim Shorts' Micro Adventures efforts. Anyone who knows Tim from The Manor 'zine knows that he does good work.

In the mail I received three of these micro adventures--two copies of #3 and one of #5. (As you may know, Tim and I have this running joke about me getting two copies of everything he does.) These babies are fantastic! They're ideal for a little short side adventure; I can even see using these as adventure hooks to something bigger.

The first one he sent was his "The Pig and the Ogre" micro adventure while the second one was entitled "Ghost Ship." For patrons of his efforts, he sends out 4" x 6" copies of these adventures--hand-drawn color map on one side and flavor on the other. The copies are laminated, both to protect them and to enable you to use grease pencil or dry-erase markers to customize them and make notes for your own campaign use. Initial reviews suggest that 30-45 minutes of game play can be culled from these little gems. I'm guessing that a good DM could stretch that as necessary.

I can't wait to take over the DM screen in my group sso that we can incorporate some of these adventures. Meanwhile, I'll just have to content myself with reading them over and over.

If you haven't already, please consider following the above link over to Tim's Patreon page and throw him some monetary love. The quality of the product--both physically and intellectual--is top notch.

14 July 2014

Post-FantasyCon Catch Up

It's been a hectic couple of months around the Stronghold. Health issues have rebounded and expanded, while stressful life- and career-related problems have stayed fairly constant. I still haven't paid myself a paycheck in three months. More ecclesiastical duties heaped on my shoulders as well.


This shirt may be my new favorite!
But we had scrimped and saved and, for our "summer stay-cation," attended the inaugural three-day FantasyCon, as well as the 67th annual WesterCon, both in Salt Lake City. We made it to both the inaugural Salt Lake Comic-Con last fall and the "FanX" version of the Comic-Con in the spring.

Yes, Salt Lake City hosted three fantasy/sci-fi conventions in the last 9 months. (Not counting WesterCon or LTUE.)

The Comic-Con experiences were a lot of fun, even if you had to endure a LOT of people. I hate crowds, so it was a real downer for me. But it was a blast to be around the cosplayers, the vendors, and the celebrities. Plus, I grew up with one of the founders. So, I thought that this newcomer upstart, FantasyCon, had a lot to prove.

Turns out, IMHO, that they instead raised the bar for Comic-Con to meet.

Yep. I said that. Despite being on July 4th weekend, and despite not having the benefit of public transportation ON the 4th, there was a pretty good turnout. Around 50K is the last estimate I saw. While not Comic-Con numbers, it was a reasonable result for a holiday and a convention lacking the "Comic-Con" branding. Of course, the smaller numbers were a definite plus for me. I think the planning and mechanics were better than Comic-Con, as were the panels and the exhibits. (Although some of the volunteers were trumped-up little Nazis with delusions of grandeur. Also, I didn't like being searched upon entry. Comic-Con didn't bother to check for my concealed carry; FantasyCon almost made me surrender my grandfather's pocketknife. Guess where I felt safer?)

This guy sums it up pretty well. The LARPing was amazing. As were the displays and all the "extra-curricular" stuff. It was fun to walk through the Hall and feel the thumping of the kettle drums coming from the battle arena and, simultaneously, hearing the clangs of hammers on anvils from the on-site blacksmiths. Then to randomly hear the notes of a bagpipe echoing through the Hall above everything?

The guest list was pretty stunning, too, especially when comparing it to the guests that Salt Lake Comic-Con has announced. FantasyCon had a pretty hefty line-up of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit actors. Heck, they had Elijah Wood (yes, Frodo) DJ their opening night party. The day after that was announced, Salt Lake Comic-Con announced who? Oh, yeah. Smallville's Lex Luthor. Ho-hum.

As I said, FantasyCon really raised the bar.

Of course, getting to meet some childhood and longtime heroes of mine didn't hurt. I'll have to share my conversations with John Rhys-Davies, Sylvester McCoy, and Claudia Christian. But that's for another time. Suffice it to say that not only did I have a longer beard than Gimli, but Sallah (the finest digger in Cairo) told me I had a beautiful family and took the time to speak to each of my children (and forced the photographer to break the rules about the number of people in one paid picture and forced him to take another photo). The Seventh Doctor showed me on my Day of the Doctor shirt exactly where his TARDIS was parked. And Susan Ivanova was calling us "her family" by the end of the weekend.

While there, I increased my gaming inventory. A local game store--that has heretofore gone unnoticed by me--had a booth and were running a 20% off sale. I was tempted to pick up a couple of Pathfinder tomes, but even at that price, I would have quickly blown my budget. Instead, I picked up a couple sets of dice...they were pretty and hey, as you know, I can never have too many dice. Here they are, in all their polyhedral glory: they come from Chessex, of course. "Silver Volcano (speckled) and "Purple-Teal/Gold (gemini)" dice sets, shown in that order. These latter ones are the first ones I saw, from quite a distance away. They grabbed my eyes and held on for dear life. (Of course, it didn't hurt that  They're also ones my wife fell in love with. I think she thinks I'm going to give them to her.


Because, hey, dice. Am I right?

There was also a booth for an outfit called "Dark City Games." I didn't know anything about them, but their booth signage boasted "solo and single-player" games. The packaging was sufficiently retro to catch my attention: they looked for all the world like a 'zine stuffed into a plastic zipper bag. Now, when I go to conventions, I collect business cards. I collect them like crazy. I'd rather do my research online than be harangued by a salesperson in a crowded space. Plus, if I do see something I like, I can always get more stuff later. But all these people had on their counter space was some resin scenery, some WotC miniatures, and a display of their own wares. It looked like they had some fantasy, sci-fi, and steam-punk adventures, as well as a western and a horror title.

No business cards.  No flyers, No advertising materials of any kind.

So I asked for their contact information. The girl looked left and right and told me that, if I was really interested, she'd give me a free sample; the contact information was inside the product. Well, who was I to say "no"? So I grabbed their fantasy offering and thanked her. Come to find out, it's a $12.95 bit of gaming.  At first glance, it appears to be their own system; at least, I didn't see anything immediately obvious that denoted an outside system of any kind. It contains a 48-page booklet, outlining rules, backstory, maps, and the adventure itself; it also comes with a fairly nice (albeit small) sheet of counters and an 8"x14" map.
The map isn't great quality, but sturdy paper stock (not quite card stock weight). I haven't had a chance to really delve into the system or mechanics. Hey, if nothing else I can either throw it in the trailer for use while camping or use the background, flavor, and maps for my own world, throwing out their mechanics.

My wife was shocked. I told her, "Hey, it never hurts to ask, right?"

WesterCon was a fun experience, although the panel selections weren't as varied or numerous as those at, say, LTUE. I had the chance to sit down and talk to author Larry Correia for a while as well.

All in all, despite hurting my knee the second day (which prompted me to buy a sweet cane topped by the "Hound of the Baskervilles" in bronze), it was a terrific vacation and money well-spent.

06 June 2014

Abrams' Star Wars

I'm really trying to keep an open mind about all of this. I truly am.

You probably have guessed I'm a HUGE Star Wars fan. HUGE. The original trilogy (hereafter referred to as "the Trilogy")? Tops in my book. While I tend to disavow knowledge of the second trilogy, I can sometimes convince myself to watch them...usually by convincing myself they're simply part of the Expanded Universe. As for the EU, I'm not sure I've ever read a BAD EU novel, although I'm told by many that they exist and that most of them were penned by Kevin J. Anderson. I refuse to acknowledge the "Legends" label.

I had to do the same thing with J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies: I've had to convince myself that they exist in an alternate time-line. One with a madcap, out of control lens flare epidemic.

When Abrams was announced as the new director for the upcoming authorized movie(s)...I was scared. Then upset, then in denial, then scared again.

But now I've figured it out. I've learned to accept the possibility. You see, I've figured out what may very well be the plot to the next trilogy.

You see, these films are about a couple of misfit New Republic security agents who fly around the galaxy investigating reports of "weird science" occurrences, like missing star-liners and invisible polar bears. One of the agents happens to be Han Solo's son.... Han Solo travels with his son and the other agent because, y'know, he's flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and he's seen a lot of strange stuff, but he's also gone just a bit senile from the lens flares caused by the Millennium Falcon's new warp drive.

Then there's the sub-plot--the time travel sub-plot--that involves the character of Wedge Antilles. Now, Wedge is a hero from the EU; after all, he's the only pilot other than Luke Skywalker to survive all the major battles of the Rebellion (at least, as shown in the Trilogy). The EU expanded upon the character and made him a fairly major player. Actor Denis Lawson has already stated that he won't reprise his role in Star Wars VII. HOWEVER: what if they were able to convince him to appear for one single solitary scene--a flashback to pre-Trilogy--in which he has been catapulted back in time to meet his younger self, played by another actor, and give his younger self advice pertinent to staying alive throughout the Rebellion period and into the New Republic Era? Then this new actor could take the reins and be shown (albeit aged) in the new films? 

Then there's the sub-plot? R2-D2 is now (secretly) able to access security cameras from all over the New Republic worlds and can send anonymous information to the New Jedi Order to help save innocent lives. Thus Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3P0 race around the galaxy saving those lives (actually, C-3P0 usually stays on Coruscant manning the computer systems from a forgotten digital library because, well, he doesn't get around as quickly as you would imagine necessary).

When I ran this past a friend, he suggested that the time-travel sub-plot also allows for the cast to wear costumes from the 1970s in the new movies. An added bonus!

Does all this sound a bit too extreme? Maybe so. I just don't want to see this happen on the big screen:

Cosplay by BelleChere; Picture courtesy of FirstPerson Shooter

30 May 2014

A Long Time Ago...

Aw, heck. I just realized how long it's been since I actually dropped by the Stronghold. Unfortunately, things like A to Z April tend to have a stifling effect once the "pressure" is over. That's why I've given up on NaNoWriMo the past few years...it just takes too long to get the machine back working again.

But today I noticed something across the gaming blogosphere: people are starting to receive their boxed Tantive IV Star Wars Miniatures in the mail. I won't argue; it's a nice looking pre-paint. It looks hefty, too. Fantasy Flight worked out a "proportionate" scale, for lack of a better term. At first blush, it SEEMS to be about the same size as my initial Tantive IV purchase, although it's tough to tell; all the comparison pictures I could find today were of odd sizes, and the "product dimensions" tell me the size of the box. Plus, well, my real life is a bit hectic and I'm not that interested in doing a lot of footwork/research into this. I hope you all will forgive me for this oversight and laziness.

You see, this release? It's retailing at $89. It's even $64.59 at Amazon. Just way too much for my wallet right now.

Besides...I have an alternate. No, not just the "initial purchase"--the Action Fleet model referenced above.

I now have... THIS:

Yep. It's a vintage Kenner Star Wars Collector Fleet Electronic "Rebel Blockade Runner" from 1996. It was a STEAL, including shipping. It was used, opened, etc., but I didn't buy it for resale value. I built it to use on the gaming table. All the electronic functions still work, including the light-up engines:

And as far as scale goes, well, it's close to accurate. As I estimated in my previous post, the Kenner model is about 5" short of being true 1/270 scale. But, what's 5" here and there, eh?

Ahem. It looks terrific when put up next to the FFG models. I'll admit, it's not as detailed, or as pretty, out of the box as the FFG Tantive IV. If I want to, I can always touch it up, though. It'll double nicely as a display model in my home office. Y'know, establish some Geek cred. Seriously, though, I think it looks great up against the other models, even if I only use it as a centerpiece--or an obstacle--in an actual game. Now I just have to see if someone out there has prepped templates, rules, or other tidbits for using the actual huge model...or if I'm going to have to jury-rig rules from the FFG release.

13 May 2014

Gothridge Manor Random Purchase Table

Anyone who's read my blog or Gothridge Manor for any sizable length of time knows that I have a, well, let's say "penchant" for accidentally purchasing multiple copies of the Manor.

Now, see, I say it's because the Manor is such a great product that I need multiple copies of this awesome 'zine: you know, one to use and one to keep pristine. Tim, however, believes it's due to a mental deficiency on my part and feels it necessary to mock me over this. Actually, I think it's a mental deficiency too, and I openly mock it as well.

This all stems back to, I believe, the release of the Manor #2. I'm sure Tim can correct me if I'm remembering incorrectly. After reading Manor #1, I promptly sent the cash for a subscription to the Manor. And, apparently, promptly forgot about the subscription. Upon the release of Manor #2, I sent more cash to Tim for that issue as well.

Hilarity ensued.

Well, the same thing just happened this weekend. Tim released Manor #6. I posted a couple comments on Gothridge Manor's publication announcements suggesting I was getting ready to send cash to Tim for the purchase of Manor #6. Shortly I received the following in my e-mail:

Boric...YOU HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION...lol...even my wife is laughing.

Sigh. So, as any good lawyer knows, you have to start damage control, right? So I prepped the following d12 table. Tim and I thought I needed to share this with the world at large just in case anyone else ever suffers from the same mental lapse.

Gothridge Manor Random Purchase Excuses

d12 Roll
Hey...in all fairness, it's been 6 months, right? So, it must be YOUR fault.
Ill do just about ANYTHING for multiple copies.
I have an Int of 6 and a WIS of 9.
I failed my SAN check.
I was under the effect of a charm dwarf spell.
Hey, I'm senile. Cut me a break.
I'm single-handedly trying to pay for the Lemon Fart Tart Room.
It's all a ploy to help drum up interest and business for the Manor! (I'm the "crippled" plant in the snake-oil audience.)
I'm looking for the Golden Ticket.
Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?
Dude...where's my car?
A Teen-Age Illithid Ate My Brain.

05 May 2014

[A to Z April] Z is for Zekri's Brain Wound (poison)

Zekri's Brain Wound is a vicious, powerful poison. Fortunately, the process of creating the poison is sufficiently difficult--and the ingredients involved rare enough--that it is not commonly available or widespread in use. The main ingredient in the poison is calcified brain dust made from the brain of an illithid.

In order to preserve the freshness and vitality of Brain Wound, it is stored and sold in small wax vials, each one topped with a small wax cap. The unmarked vial holds only a single dose. The innocent and simple wax cylinder belies the horror contained within.

Brain Wound itself is a bright scarlet powder that turns colorless when mixed with liquid, at which time it can be identified by its smell of wet dog. The smell quickly dissipates when it is thoroughly mixed. The taste of vinegar remains, however. As a result, those who now how to use it, know how to use it only with strong-flavored drink or food to mask its taste.

In addition to the powerful effect of the poison, Brain Wound has an immediate side effect. Within one round of ingesting the poison, the victim begins to hallucinate, believing that the ground is gently rumbling and trembling, as if there was a small earthquake in the vicinity. This effect lasts only until the onset of the more serious symptoms.

Zekri's Brain Wound
Type: poison (ingested); Save: Fortitude DC 18
Onset: 1 minute; Frequency: Once every 1/2 hour for 12 hours
Initial Effect: 1d2 Wis and Int damage
Secondary Effect: 1d4 Wis OR Int damage (alternating) Once every 1/2 hour for 12 hours

Cure: 2 consecutive saves

Cost: 1000 gp per dose (powder)

Previous "Z"s:
2012: Z is for Zone of Terror (spell)
2011: Z is for Zero Dice Roleplaying

30 April 2014

[A to Z April] Y is for Yvus Toothsplinter (npc)

I spent an hour crafting a great back-story and description for this NPC only to have my laptop eat the entire entry.

Fortunately, I still had the stats, so I’m presenting this NPC as is. Let me be frank, though. This is no simple NPC. This is not a random merchant in a bazaar, it's no skulking thief in the alleyway.

To be blunt: he’s a villain. BAM.

There you have it. Plain and simple.

Without further ado, I give you: Yvus Toothsplinter, Good-bane Dwarf-slayer.

(Incidentally, he has about six more "titles" that all vanished with his back-story. Add in whatever you like and whatever fits.) Use him, plug him into your own campaign, give him whatever back-story fits your story. I imagine him to be a recurring villain that will harry and annoy your party.

Please note: All my NPCs are free for you to use. Please, feel free to use them. All I ask is a note to let me know if, where, when, and how it was used. Especially Yvus; I'd like to know player/character reaction, back-story, and especially a body count (if any).

Yvus Toothsplinter, BUGBEAR Fighter 10CR 12
XP 19, 200
CE Medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Darkvision 60, Scent, Listen +4, Spot +2
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 23 (+1 Dex, +3 natural, +10 armor)
hp 99 (3d8+10d10+26)
Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +4
Speed 20 ft.
Melee +1 vicious greatsword +22 (2d6+13/19-20)
Ranged +1 good bane longbow, composite +14 (1d8+8 x3) range 110
Full attacks +1 vicious greatsword +22/17/12 (2d6+13/19-20) or +1 good bane longbow, composite +14/9/4 (1d8+8 x3) range 110
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Str 22 (+2 mag)=24, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 9
Base Atk +12; Grapple +19
Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (Heavy, Light, Medium), Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Great Cleave, Greater Weapon Focus (greatsword), Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Improved Sunder, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Power Attack, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency, Weapon Focus (greatsword), Weapon Specialization (greatsword)
Skills: Climb +6, Hide +0, Intimidate +15, Jump +5, Listen +4, Move Silently +2, Spot +2, Swim +0
Languages Common, Goblin, Dwarven
Full Plate (+2), Gauntlets of Ogre Power, +1 vicious greatsword, +1 good bane Longbow, Composite

**Many thanks to WotC's "PC Portraits" Archive for the image.

Previous "Y"s:
2013: Y is for Ynx (creature)
2012: Ylder's Timid Divinity (spell)
2011: Y is for Yllseriad, The Shrine of (map)

28 April 2014

[A to Z April] X is for XOXO

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered to be the best movie of the Trilogy. I don't happen to agree with that; it's my second favorite after the original. We won't discuss Return of the Jedi, because dang it...choosing Ewoks over Wookiees? Really? The only real high point of Jedi is that Wedge finally got the credit he deserved as an Ace pilot; it's obvious why they couldn't do it earlier--Luke Skywalker was the hero and so had to be the only real Ace.

I enjoy me some ESB, though. I still remember the thrill of a 10-year-old boy hearing the words "The first transport is away. The first transport is away" and wanting to cheer with the rest of Echo Base. Not to mention the dread of the inexorable approach of the AT-ATs. And it's a joke between my wife and myself...when she says, "I love you," I invariably respond, "I know." That line has always irritated her. By the way, my six-year-old daughter saw a Wampa backpack in the FLGS this weekend, squeeed, and then asked if she could have one. Parenthood success!

But there is one thing about ESB that I would change in a heartbeat, if I could. It doesn't matter how old I get, or how many times I see the movie...this moment's "ICK" factor is just too high.

Hugs and kisses. Hugs and kisses. [shudder] I'm in the camp with those that believe this is proof that Lucas pretty much made it up as he went along.

In related news, look what I got in the mail today!

Called the "Republic Cruiser" by Hasbro/Galoob, the ship is actually the Consular-class cruiser, typically used "to transport Jedi and diplomats to troubled spots across the galaxy." This ship is what I was originally looking for at Comic Con, when I discovered the Tantive IV. The first mission in the boxed set of X-Wing Miniatures Game involves a "Senator's Shuttle." A little bit of research reveals that this is actually the CSS-1 Corellian Star Shuttle. What was the purpose of the shuttle? "To carry a large number of ambassadors on missions throughout the galaxy." Remarkably similar purposes, no?

The game comes with a cardboard punch-out token with the image of a CSS on it. However, while I was looking on-line at others' game reports, I noticed a couple players had the same thought: it would be so great to have a three-dimensional stand-in for the CSS. So I started shopping.

The scale is a bit off, of course, just as it was with the Tantive, although not quite as drastic. The Consular-class Republic Cruiser comes in at 115m in length while the Corellian Star Shuttle measures only 80m long. (The Tantive IV is 150m long.) It's still a bit large for the shuttle, especially when it's compared to the punch-out cardboard token representation of the shuttle. I like it more for the CSS than I do the Tantive IV. Even better was that I found a steal on two: $14 for the pair and free shipping. This way I can craft a mission with dual shuttles, if I need to.

And even better, look what I found when I opened the cockpit: Qui Gon Twins! This despite the listing details that said teh miniatures were NOT included. To make things even better, the seller threw in some other Micro Machines he had "laying around." Specifically, there was a small zipper bag containing a Gungan Sub, a Trade Federation Tank, and miniatures of Boss Nass and Nute Gunray. While these likely won't see any action on the X-Wing table, they make a nice addition to my overall toy collection. Come to think of it, the Tank is about the right size to stand in for a Delta-class DX-9 stormtrooper transport. Hmmm....

Previous "X"-es:
2013: X is for Xal's Dire Brown (beverage)
2012: X is for Xouvyus (New NPC)
2011: X is for X'rr

[A to Z April] W is for Weak Essence of Alcoholic Retreat (beverage)

This alcoholic beverage, often called "Speed Wine" by its users, is marketed in a large flask cunningly crafted from large reptilian scales of unknown origin. Each flask holds up to 12 doses, and costs 500 gp per dose. Due to some quality inherent to the scales, the labels quickly fade to near illegibility. The flasks are traditionally sealed with a plug of tree sap; unfortunately, this seal is imperfect and leads to reduced freshness in nearly 50% of all bottles, especially if one or more doses have already been used.

The liquid itself is watery and of a sparkling gold color. A hint of curry wafts up from the liquid, which actually tastes like sherbet. Within 1d2 rounds of drinking a dose, the drinker gains an additional 5' to her movement for 4d6 rounds. Reduced freshness reduces the duration of the effect to 1d6 rounds. Once the "speed" effect has worn off, the imbiber becomes sickened for 4d6 rounds, suffering a –2 penalty on all attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Previous "W"s:
2013: W is for Wild Drip
Crater (locale)

2012: W is for Wyrm, Slimeclaw (monster)
2011:W is for Waulker (npc)

[A to Z April] V is for Vaena Shieldbadger (npc)

Vaena Shieldbadger is an orphan. She knows nothing of her parents or ancestry. She was found in a burned-out caravan by a human ranger named Tephye Wardsalt. Tephye took Vaena in, raised her as his own and taught her everything she knows. About six years ago, he was killed by a rampaging pack of ghouls, fostering in Vaena an undying hatred for all things undead. Tephye’s leather armor is the only thing she has to remember Tephye. Since her adoptive father’s death, Vaena’s experiences have taught her the horror of unnatural aberrations. Together with her riding dog companion named “Mel,” she travels the forests and byways across the length and breadth of Dran, although she currently calls the wooded foothills outside of Coldtreath "Home."

Vaena has straight blond hair and striking ice blue eyes. She stands average height for a halfling and is considered quite attractive. She has one shortfall: she is filled with pride. She believes she was trained by the best and is, therefore, the best now that Tephye is dead. She believes in no deity or higher power beyond that of luck. Besides her animal companion, Mel, she loves what others would call "creepy crawly things." Vermin, insects, and reptiles all have their place in nature, they are a part of nature and therefore revered by Vaena. She never keeps more money around than she needs for supplies and equipment; she hates shiny things that other female halflings of her age would swoon over. Other than honing her own skills, she loves teaching the odd woodcraft skills to others, just as she was taught by Tephye.

Vaena Shieldbadger, HALFLING Ranger 5CR 5
XP 1,600
CN Small humanoid
Init +4; Senses Listen +11; Spot +9
AC 19, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+4 Dex, +1 size, +3 armor, +1 shield)
hp 26 (5d8)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +2
Special: Fearless
Speed 20 ft.
Melee Sword, short +7 (1d4+1/19-20)
Ranged Sling +12 (1d3+1) range 50
Full attacks Sword, short +7/2 (1d4+1/19-20) or sling +10/10 (1d3+1) range 50
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Favored enemy (Undead; Aberrations)
Ranger Spells Prepared: (CL 5; concentration 6)
1st – alarm
Str 12, Dex 18, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 9
Base Atk +5; Grapple +2
Feats: Armor Proficiency Light, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Track, Weapon Focus (sling)
Skills: Climb +6, Handle Animal +1, Heal +4, Hide +15, Jump +5, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +3, Knowledge (Geography) +4, Listen +11, Move Silently +5, Ride +6, Search +3, Spot +9, Survival +9, Swim +1, Use Rope +5
Languages Common, Halfling, Elvish
SQ animal companion (riding dog), track, wild empathy, endurance
+1 deathless leather armor

**Many thanks to WotC's "PC Portraits" Archive for the image.

Previous "V"s:
2013: V is for Varra Turnskull (npc)
2012: V is for Vapor Dwindle (spell)
2011: V is for Vesseth (npc)

27 April 2014

[A to Z April] U is for Undyrglade (item)

The origins of this hammer are lost to the mists of time.

When wielded in battle, Undyrglade appears to be a +2 hammer. However, if electricity is applied to the hammer, its true, cursed nature reveals itself to an especially watchful character. (DC 20 spot/perception check.)

On the round immediately following the application of electricity to the hammer (from any source), if Undyrglade lands a successful melee attack, 1d4 ghosts will appear (2d4 on a successful critical hit). Each spirit that appears does so within a 10'-foot radius from the wielder of Undyrglade. Each of these spirits takes the form of a character that was slain by Undyrglade. It is unclear whether the ghosts are the actual spirits of the creatures or simply spirits taking the form of those creatures.

The spirits will usually move to attack (eventually) any creature that is opposing Undyrglade’s wielder. However, there is a 25% chance that any spirit will immediately attack the wielder himself. These spirits act as ghosts in every way; however, attempts to communicate with these spirits (such as with speak with dead or similar spells will fail.

Previous "U"s:
2013: U is for Ulah of Kaitus (npc)
2012: U is for Upper Snarl (locale)
2011: U is for Urosh, Temple of (map)

23 April 2014

[A to Z April] T is for Tantive IV

I've already talked about the Tantive IV that I picked up at Comic Con. Well, I just won her elder sister on e-Bay. I'll post pictures when it arrives, but if you want to use your search engine of choice, look up the Kenner Collector's Fleet Rebel Blockade Runner. It's a lot closer scale-wise to the other miniatures in the FFG X-Wing Miniatures game, and several enterprising individuals already have rules, missions, and even playing bases/stands for the beast.

But one of my readers, the Happy Whisk, commented that I hadn't bothered to show the mini-figs that came with my Micromachine Action Fleet version of the Tantive IV. I did not want to risk alienating her and becoming persona non grata around The Manor. (Sorry, Tim, but she scares me sometimes.) So, today I hauled the little one out again for some more pictures.

The mini-figs live in the "cockpit" of the toy, that area of the ship that would normally be the bridge, etc. Obviously the figures are NOT to scale, and thus neither is the "cockpit." But, both figures have seats and fit in nicely, although the slightest jiggle or shake to the ship and they're tossed from their seats. The bridge is hinged so that it opens for play.

Here you see the "cockpit" (or bridge) fully opened, with the Rebel Soldier and Princess Leia revealed inside. Someone really ought to tell these two that they shouldn't be armed and ready to fire at all times. I mean, like I said--one good jiggle and they're tossed around. Live blasters have gotta be dangerous under such situations!

Hey, look! The ship has a stick shift! I love details like this; it's silly to add something like a stick shift, in part because neither figure can rest a hand on it. (Y'know, like the G.I. Joe toys--at least they could actually appear to drive their vehicles!) Now, I don't expect that level of articulation on a miniature so small, but really...a stick shift? I guess they've got to have SOME kind of detail in the "cockpit."

[Aside: Rumor has it that the creators of the model used in the original film actually placed a miniature pin-up girl poster in the cockpit as a joke. It wasn't visible in the final film, and I have no idea about the veracity of the rumor. If true, though, it would have been a nice touch in this model. An homage, even, to the original modelers. Although it may have detracted from the child-friendliness of the toy. End aside.]

I like Leia's two-handed firing stance, although my brain wants to take issue with the actual blaster she's wielding. That looks a lot more like Han Solo's BlasTech blaster than the sporting blaster she used in Star Wars (which would have been consistent with her white gown and Cinnabon hair-do). The Rebel Soldier has a one-handed stance that, unfortunately, reveals that his arms are joined with a solid axle. In other words, he's shaking his fist (maybe) at the same time that he fires his weapon. If it was molded/positioned differently, I guess you could have said he's waving or even ordering his target to stop. Yeah. Or he's trying to use the Force to deflect an oncoming laser bolt from the stormtroopers (a la Darth Vader). But no. They had to mold it to appear like he's shifting gears when sitting in the pilot's seat. Except that he's grabbing his thigh when seated. (See above picture.) Sigh. Again, I suppose I can't complain about the quality of the mini-figs or the lack of articulation. Gratefully these two are going to be sealed away in the "cockpit" and the ship is going to be used as a consular shuttle. Period. Or displayed in my office. Hmmm. There's a thought.

Previous "T"s:
2013: T is for Tombstone Blossom (monster)
2012: T is for Thord’s Gore Reach (spell)
2011: T is for Thoklin Oroxel (npc)

22 April 2014

[A to Z April] S if for Spark, Primordial (spell)

Primordial Spark

Transmutation [fire]
Level: Druid 4, Sun 4
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area of Effect: 50-ft.-radius-circle
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

Primordial spark allows the spell-caster to dip in to that fabled essence rumored to have been the cause of life throughout the galaxy in order to make all metal objects within the area of effect to become extremely warm.

This spell is essentially a "mass effect" version of the spell heat metal. The description is essentially the same as heat metal with the following differences:
  • The damage dealt during the second and next-to-last round is increased to 2d4 points. The damage dealt during the middle rounds is increased to 3d4 points.
  • If a creature is not wearing or wielding a metal item, it takes minimum damage (increased to 2 or 3 points).
  • Primordial spark counters and dispels flying frost.

    Previous "S"s:
    2013: S is for Suffocation, Immediate (spell)
    2012: S is for Snake, Howler (monster)
    2011: S is for Sheriff (npc)
  • [A to Z April] R is for Read This Book!!

    While flat on my back this weekend from an apparent case of either Con Crud or Food Allergy Attack, I read a great book that I picked up from a friend at Comic Con last week. I've had the occasion over the past few years at the Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) writing symposium to become friends with author Dr. Michael Collings and his son, Michaelbrent Collings. I'd not had the available shekels to pick up one of Michaelbrent's books until this past week, when I dropped a few bucks and picked up the omnibus edition of his Colony series. (This contains the first three in the series, with #4 just out a few months ago.)

    What grabbed me first was his father, who's written countless scholarly papers on horror and horror authors, telling me that "He lets you breathe around Chapter Two, and then not again until the last page." While you would likely expect a father to say positive things about a son's work, Dr. Collings is honest and down-to-earth, so I grabbed at it. The back-copy was what sold it to me, though.

    FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT ZOMBIES. In under 10 minutes, 99.9% of the world's population will be dead… or changed. Conversion is instant. Headshots just make them angry. And they’re getting smarter.

    For whatever reason--"Call it Fate. Call it Luck. Call it Karma." (with thanks to Dr. Venckman)--this little blurb got my adrenaline running. Once I picked up the book, I had it done in about 24 hours. It was unrelenting. Not just in the way every zombie story/movie is unrelenting, but these are zombies that LEARN. That can move in three dimensions to chase you.

    Definitely a must-read. I'd recommend it to you all. You can get a copy at Amazon at the link above.

    Previous "R"s:
    2013: R is for Rest
    2012: R is for Rage Hawk (monster)
    2011: R is for Real Life

    19 April 2014

    [A to Z April] Q is for Quick, Somebody Teach Me To Play!

    OK. Comic Con must have really thrown a wrench into my system. I'm still in physical pain from the "crowd-waddling" on a concrete floor for 9 hours. I'm clearly no longer as young as I used to think I was. I'm physically exhausted, sleeping through the night for the first time in years these past two nights. And I'm apparently mentally exhausted; I'm pulling and pulling on the rope, but the bucket's coming up dry from the bottom of the well.

    I seem to be addicted to FFG's X-Wing Miniatures Game too. And I haven't learned how to play it yet. I just have to find the time to sit down and crack open the box, I'm sure, because everybody tells me it's easy enough to learn.

    Time? Hah.

    But to continue, I need to learn how to play soon, because the purchase I talked about yesterday arrived in the mail today. I've already unboxed one. Took some pictures, too, as you can see.

    The Millennium Falcon is, needless to say, one of the two iconic ships from the Star Wars trilogy. I'm pretty confident when I say that nearly every man my age at one time or another dreamed of flying in this starship. The X-Wing and the Falcon were my early starship loves, followed later by the A-Wing. Of course, there was also the Viper from the original Battlestar Galactica and the Earth Directorate Starfighter (piloted by Buck Rogers). Those were my top four when I was young (again, adding in the A-Wing later on).

    "Why'd you get two of them?" I hear you ask. "After all, there's only one Millennium Falcon, right? Awww...silly reader. Of course you realize that the Corellian Engineering Corporation manufactured the original Falcon, under the designation YT-1300. The light freighter that was to become known as the Millennium Falcon started life no differently than any other YT-1300. Fortunately, the model comes with multiple pilots, not least of whom are Han Solo and Chewbacca. That allows a player to envision and enact a scenario where the Rebellion (or perhaps a pirate organization) has obtained an additional YT-1300. I've seen a couple players report that a dual YT-1300 force is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

    Here she is, one final time, with the X-Wing flying alongside in formation for scale purposes. It's really a nice model, although I was a bit chagrined to realize it was hollow, and not an overly-thick feeling shell, either. But, I plan on being careful with these beauties. I can't wait to see what it looks like to have two YT-1300s on the starfield facing a squadron of TIE fighters. Even TIE Interceptors. I'll take 'em all.

    So, please. Anyone. Anyone at all. Can someone quickly teach me how to play?

    Previous "Q"s:
    2013: Q is for Quickvale (locale)
    2012: Q is for Quickdeath (monster)
    2011:Q is for Quaint Folk
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