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.

13 November 2012

Winter is Coming II Blog Carnival: The Frusenspöke

Around these parts, we were taken by surprise by a massive winter storm that changed our climate from a nice temperate Autumn to deep Winter overnight. Record-setting snowfalls, low temperatures...the works.

I don't like winter. At all. While I would much rather be too cold than too hot, I generally dislike the snow, ice, and all that comes with it. How serendipitous it was, then, to stumble across Dicemonkey's proposed RPB Blog Carnival: Winter is Coming II. The premise of the carnival was simply stated in the title: Anything wintry and cold. I thought it was extremely fitting, considering my lousy mood with snow falling outside my window. Unfortunately, the deadline to participate was November 14, so I knew I had to work fast to get something in.

So, without further ado, my "generic" RPG description of a new critter: "The Frusenspöke." I'll be statting this one up for 3.x a bit later and posting it up for general consumption; I just wanted to get the general stats up for inclusion in the Carnival.

The Frusenspöke

No one is quite sure of the original source of the frusenspöke. Some blame the usual suspects: evil wizards, foul sorcerers, necromancers, and other doers of dark deeds. There are those who blame the restless dead themselves, discontent to simply lie quietly among the never-ending cold and snow. Others blame it on divine retribution. Still others blame organisms within the snow and ice itself, organisms that come from “beyond the outer places” and are older than civilization itself. Whatever their source, however, all who know about the frusenspöke agree upon two things: they are evil and they are deadly. Note: the typical zombie as presented in the ruleset are modified as listed below.

Frusenspöke come in as many varied stages of decomposition as a regular zombie. However, these creatures have several consistent characteristics that set them apart. Their skin is a sky-blue in color and covered with a thin layer of frost and the occasional razor-sharp ice crystals. There are also thick razor-sharp ice crystals in whatever hair or fur the base creature normally has.

Frusenspöke have four separate forms of attacks: slam, bite, crystalline flesh, and a breath weapon.
Slam: as per the typical zombie, plus a slight amount of cold damage on a successful melee attack. (Note: the damage normally taken from flesh-to-flesh contact from the frusenspöke’s crystalline flesh [see below] does not occur with a frusenspöke’s slam attack)
Bite: as per the base creature (or a similarly-sized creature with a low damage bite attack), plus a medium amount of cold damage on a successful bite attack.
Crystalline flesh: any creature coming into flesh-to-flesh contact with a frusenspöke will take a minor amount of slashing damage from the razor-sharp ice crystals that cover the frusenspöke’s skin, hair, and fur. This damage is automatic upon contact regardless of who initiates the contact; it is not considered a separate attack.
Breath weapon: a frusenspöke can emit a cloud of noxious, freezing gas once every four rounds. The cloud is essentially a 10'-radius fog bank that deals a medium-high amount of cold damage to affected creatures who do not successfully avoid the cloud. It may also cause nausea to those enveloped by the cloud.

Those creatures who succumb to the frusenspöke’s bite or breath weapon and die as a result will rise themselves as a frusenspöke within 24 hours. Any high-level magic that cures a majority of damage and ills will prevent the creation of a new frusenspöke from such attacks.

Frusenspöke are able to move through ice and snow as if through air. While other creatures are slowed to at least one-half normal speed through snow drifts and across ice, frusenspöke retain their full movement rate.

Frusenspöke do not suffer any negative modifiers to perception rolls through snow or ice storms. Frusenspöke likewise do not suffer any negative modifiers to perception rolls due to fog banks. These creatures treat cold-related weather effects as other creatures would treat a beautiful, clear, sunny spring day.

Frusenspöke are immune to any type of cold- or water-related attacks and spells. They take double damage, however, from fire- and fire-related attacks and spells.

12 November 2012

Rival Adventuring Party: The Stumble Hollow Trine, Part 3

Alyss Krov

Alyss [pronounced “Ay-liss”] Krov was orphaned at a young age when her parents and five siblings were massacred. The individual responsible was never found, but it has always been rumored to have been the work of a powerful wizard; none know the truth. At the time of the murders, there had been a rash of thefts from the rich and powerful in the town of Byesmore. Ayliss’ father was a wealthy man in town and an outspoken critic of the town guard; when he was killed, he was in the process of bringing in a mercenary force–including wizards–to stop the thefts and track down those responsible. He and the family were killed before he could complete the transaction. Five-year-old Alyss was in the fields behind the family home picking strawberries at the time and was overlooked by the killer or killers.
Alyss has led the last 25 years of her life learning arcane skills in an effort to hunt down those responsible for her family’s death. She is extraordinarily attractive, standing 4 ft. 11 in. and weighing 110 lbs. Brown eyes peer out from a narrow face partially hidden behind long blond bangs, with her braided hair reaching the small of her back. Extensive arcane tattoos cover her face and arms.
Alyss is extremely distrustful of strangers and is only staying a member of the Stumble Hollow Trine until she finds something better; any other adventuring party that promises new places to search for her family’s killer would not have to twist her arm to join.
She carries with her a beautiful longspear, her favorite weapon. This was the weapon that took her father’s life; she found it lodged in his back when she returned from her strawberry-picking excursion. She longs for the day when she can return it, in a sense, to its former owner. She is accompanied everywhere by her weasel familiar named Fakel.


Alyss Krov
Aristocrat 4 / Wizard 3 (School: Conjuration; Prohibited: Illusion, Necromancy)
HP: 32
Init.: -1
Speed: 30 ft.
AC:11, Touch 9, flat-footed 11 (Leather)
Base Attack: +4
Grapple: +5
Attack: Longspear (+7) 1d8+1 or Crossbow, light +4 (1d8) Crit: 19-20 x2
Full Attack: Longspear (+7) 1d8+1 or Crossbow, light +4 (1d8) Crit: 19-20 x2
Alignment: CN
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +8
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 9, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 12, Chr 14
Skills: Appraise 11, Bluff 5, Concentration 11, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Gather Information 10, Intimidate 2, Knowledge (Arcana) 8, Knowledge (Dungeon) 11, Knowledge (Geography) 11, Listen 1, Ride -1, Spellcraft 9, Spot 3, Survival 8, Swim 3
Feats: Combat Casting; Heavy Armor Proficiency; Light Armor Proficiency; Martial Weapon Proficiency; Medium Armor Proficiency; Shield Proficiency; Simple Weapon Proficiency; Spell Penetration; Weapon Focus (longspear; Weapon Focus, Ranged (crossbow, light)
Languages: Common, Draconic, Abyssal

Spells Known:
Level 0 (4) DC 13
Acid Splash(Conjuration)[Creation Acid ] X 3
Daze(Enchantment)[Compulsion Mind-Affecting ] X 1
Ray of Frost(Evocation)[Cold ] X 1

Level 1 (4) DC 14
Mage Armor(Conjuration)[Creation Force ] X 1
Magic Missile(Evocation)[Force ] X 1
Shocking Grasp(Evocation)[Electricity ] X 1
Summon Monster I(Conjuration)[Summoning ] X 1

Level 2 (3) DC 15
Flaming Sphere(Evocation)[Fire ] X 1
Summon Swarm(Conjuration)[Summoning ] X 1
Web(Conjuration)[Creation ] X 1

CR 6


Crossbow, Light
Masterwork Longspear
Potion of Cure serious wounds
Potion of Cure moderate wounds
Potion of Darkvision
Potion of Invisibility
Wand Bracer
Wand of Charm person
Wand of Light
Wand of Detect secret doors

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

Fakel, Weasel Familiar

Tiny Animal
Hit Dice: 4d8 (16 hp)*
Init.: +2
Speed: 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
AC:16* (+2 size, +2 Dex, +2 natural), Touch 14, flat-footed 14
Base Attack: +4*
Grapple: -12
Attack: Bite (+4) 1d3-4
Full Attack: Bite (+4) 1d3-4
Special Attacks: Attach
Special Qualities: Low-light vision, scent, Familiar Abilities*
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +15, Will +8*
Abilities: Str 3, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 10,* Wis 12, Cha 5
Skills: Balance +10, Climb +10, Hide +11, Move Silently +8, Spot +3
Feats: Weapon Finesse

Attach (Ex): If a weasel hits with a bite attack, it uses its powerful jaws to latch onto the opponent’s body and automatically deals bite damage each round it remains attached. An attached weasel loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class and has an AC of 12.
An attached weasel may be struck with a weapon or grappled itself. To remove an attached weasel through grappling, the opponent must achieve a pin against the creature.
Skills: Weasels have a +4 racial bonus on Move Silently checks and a +8 racial bonus on Balance and Climb checks. They use their Dexterity bonus for Climb checks. A weasel can always choose to take 10 on a Climb check, even if rushed or threatened.

Familiar Abilities: Natural armor, Intelligence, Alertness, Improved Evasion, Share Spells, Empathic link, Deliver Touch Spells

*modified as per Familiar description

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

05 November 2012

Jay Penn For Sale!

No, I don't actually have the rights to sell Jay Penn, although if I did, Dennis Mize's infamous "Slave Auction" comes to mind, which is possibly the most disturbing thought I've had yet today. (Sorry, Jay.)

Those who frequent these pages will, no doubt, remember my ravings from a week ago regarding my acquisition of a couple of pieces of art from artist Jay Penn. Even further back, it was Jay Penn's illustration of an otyugh that prompted me to go crazy and purchase several WotC minis of the critter from the after-market.

Well, shortly thereafter he sent me word--and posted up on his blog--that he was opening up his Loviatar art portfolio for sale. This is your chance to own your very own piece of 'zine and art history!

There's been some fantastic stuff in the pages of Loviatar and some fantastic artistic renderings to go with it. I really can't say enough good about both Jay's art and how great he is to work with, business-wise. I'd urge anyone interested to take a peek at Jay's portfolio and his offerings. Snatch up your favorites while you can!

I'm already putting together a list of my "wants" and hoping no one beats me to them.

Why are you still here reading this? Go. Now. Look at art. Purchase. Before the otyugh is set loose on you. I'm serious.

02 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: IT BEGINS!!!!

Or it SHOULD be beginning, anyway.
It ain't happenin' here this year. I'm a little bit bummed out about it but also a little bit relieved. I think I need to step away from the "forced imagination production" for a year to recharge my batteries. I also need to step away for a year because of personal issues that just won't quit. Between my ecclesiastical duties, responsibilities to my family, concerns over my mother's health, concerns over MY health, not to mention financial worries and the looming potential that this attorney may be out of work soon...between all these things, I just can't justify spending the time, sweat, blood, and tears to pound out 1,334 words per day over the next month.

Especially when I fear that most of those 1,334 words would simply end up on the editing room floor anyway, simply because I couldn't be trusted to focus and concentrate on my craft.

It's a little bittersweet; as hard as it can be sometimes, it is still fun to sit side by side with my wife and compete for daily word count, all while helping each other with our respective budding novels.

The creative output can be cathartic, but in this instance I fear it will be a distraction instead.

And now that I read this post, I realize that this is all a bit personal and it's likely that none of my readers really care that I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. On the off chance that one of you out there actually did care...well, I guess this post is for you, to help allay your frustration. For the rest of you, I guess this frees up a bit more time this month for some gaming-related creativity, which The Stronghold typically lacks during the month of October. Expect a few more posts at least this month.

Now...back to the real world for a while.
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