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.

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
DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 11, flat-footed 23 (+1 Dex, +3 natural, +10 armor)
hp 99 (3d8+10d10+26)
Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +4
OFFENSE
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.
STATISTICS
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
EQUIPMENT
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.

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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....


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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.


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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
DEFENSE
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
OFFENSE
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
STATISTICS
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
EQUIPMENT
+1 deathless leather armor


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

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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.


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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.


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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.


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    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.


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    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?




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

    18 April 2014

    [A to Z April] P is for Plans and Passengers: the Story of a Consular Ship

    Still heady (and head-achey) from Comic Con yesterday, I want to share with you what I found. I hinted at it in yesterday's post, but I now have pictures and can share the bounty!

    What we have here is a "vintage" Tantive IV, a.k.a. "Rebel Blockade Runner, from the Star Wars Action Fleet, circa 1997. It lacked its box, but has all the other parts, including the mini-fig Rebel Trooper and Princess Leia.

    Here it is, in all its nerdtastic glory: the Tantive IV! We see it here as it first appears (OK, wrong angle and with the addition of a giant space calculator...) in the original Star Wars movie.

    It's also known as the Corellian Engineering Corporation's CR-90 Corvette. I always knew it as the "Blockade Runner" but now that I think about it, I'm not sure WHY. My best guess is because that's what Kenner called it on all their products. Hmm. Interesting question. But then, Kenner is responsible for some "alternative" names to products that are worse than this, I suppose.

    Here it is from another "famous" angle, the camera shot as it is enveloped by the Star Destroyer Devastator high above Tatooine. Mostly, I just wanted to look at the detail on this little guy. The display stand is a bit awkwardly placed, and covers up the aft ventral laser battery. I will admit that I may have it on incorrectly, but this is the only placement that actually holds the ship up. From this view you can also see the forward ventral laser and the pull-out "landing gear."

    And I should also confess at this point that, while carrying this around with me all day yesterday, I had two thought ringing constantly through my mind:
    "If this is a consular ship, Where. Is. The. Ambassador?"
    and
    "Commander, tear this ship apart until you've found those plans and bring me the passengers. I want them alive!"
    Hence (obviously) the name of today's post....

    Here's a look at what it looks like next to one of the X-Wing miniatures from FFG's X-Wing Miniatures Game. Yeah. The scale is WAAAY off. But I purchased it intending to use it in this game, and knowing that the scale was off. I've seen others use the bigger version that Kenner produced in their Collector's line--it's a lot more massive. (I actually saw one of those for sale at a STEAL yesterday, but it was late in the day and I talked myself out of it. It was gone this morning when I was ready to buy it. :( Isn't that always the way?)

    Those bigger ones are a lot closer in scale than this. However, I've also seen the MicroMachines Action Fleet versions of the capitol ships used as stand-ins for a senatorial shuttle, for example. When I lucked into this at a great price (more than half of what the same, unboxed versions are going for on e-Bay) I couldn't resist. I've also picked up a couple of the so-called "Republic Cruisers" from Episode I for the same purpose. I'd seen these used online by a couple different players, and thought I'd pick them up at another STEAL. (It helps the cost that I don't need them MIB, I suppose.)

    Now, I acknowledge that FFG is releasing its own version of this craft. Mine is a bit smaller than the "announced"/estimated size of the official FFG version. I'll probably still use this as a stand-in or as a replacement for another craft and eventually pick up FFG's version (if for nothing else than the extras in the box--templates, mission, etc.) if I can find it at a bargain. I'm still searching today for another Kenner version; I'm not having much luck at finding an affordable one, though. THAT one is much closer to scale and looks impressive with the smaller ships around it. (OK. I'm a geek. I just grabbed a ruler and a calculator. According to Wookieepedia an X-Wing is 12.5 meters long while the Tantive IV is 150 meters. The miniature X-Wing is 1.75" long; That means the Tantive IV model would have to be 21" long to be in scale. Mine is only 7" long. However, on a high note, Amazon lists the Kenner Collector's version at 16" long, which is much, much closer to the correct scale. I can see now why FFG includes this little blurb in its description of its version of the Tantive IV:
    The Tantive IV and Rebel Transport will be the first X-Wing starships released outside of the game’s 1/270 scale. Simply too big to function in the game at that scale, they left us with two options. We could change their scale, or we could leave them out of the game. In the end, we decided these ships were simply too iconic and exciting to ignore, and we invented a new “relative” scale, carefully balancing each ship's playability against its presence on the table.
    (Emphasis added.) The cost alone for such a "miniature" would make it altogether prohibitive for most but the hardcore gamers to accept.

    Now...I just need to learn how to play the freakin' game....



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    Previous "P"s:
    2013: P is for Pond Stalker (creature)
    2012: P is for Pyramid of Swords (locale)
    2011: P is for Poushif Bonereader (npc)

    [A to Z April] O is for Oh My Gosh, What Have I Done?

    In lieu of a campaign-specific post today, and because I'm standing in the crush of great unwashed (in some cases literally) at the Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Experience, I'm just giving a quick heads up to y'all that I've gone and done it.

    I've jumped from fantasy gaming for a moment and picked up a new game. A sci-fi game.

    Fantasy Flight's X-Wing Miniatures Game.

    How could I not? I mean, great minis and Star Wars? Not to mention the chance to make "pew pew" sounds across the table at another grown man without either of you laughing at the other? C'mon...it was meant to be!

    I just waited a while until I gave in to the urges. I had read one too many battle reports online and it all just built up until I found a coupon for Barnes & Noble, swooped in, and grabbed it at a discount. That broke the dam.

    I now have six more expansions, with two more on the way in the mail (more on these in just a moment), and already looking at storage options. I'm also making some third-party purchases with an eye to beefing up my game a bit.

    Now, the two I have in the mail? I have to boast: I managed to find a seller on e-Bay selling the Millennium Falcon Expansion Pack for about 40% of MSRP. I bought two, and even got free shipping. The third-party purchase(s) I'll discuss in the coming days.

    All for now. I have to go feed my hunger by wandering the exhibit halls of Comic Con.

    Excelsior!



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    Previous "O"s:
    2013: O is for Omen Wine (beverage)
    2012: O is for Oath of Righeous Magic (spell)
    2011: O is for Opening Doors

    16 April 2014

    [A to Z April] N is for Nestspirit Caverns (map)


    Something different for today's map: Due to some sudden upheaval in my personal life, I've not had time to prepare any background info on the Nestspirit Caverns; neither have I had time to do any tagging or stocking. I'm a bit saddened by this, because the name Nestspirit Caverns just seems to SCREAM for some cool backstory. Maybe I'll revisit this once the A to Z is over this year.

    Then again, I'm still waiting to get back to some NPCs from the September challenge from 2012. So...yeah. There's that.


    Anyway, hope you enjoy. I enjoyed getting back to some caverns. Added some extra little chunks of rock mid-corridor here and there, too. It's one-dimensional; the next level (if there is one) may have some height changes here and there. Maybe a pit or a pool, too. We'll see.

    The usual applies to this image: free to use, just drop me a note to let me know if, where, when, and how it was used. The PDF can be grabbed HERE.


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    Previous "N"s:
    2013: N is for Nalicon's Plague (spell)
    2012: N is for Noises in the Dark (table)
    2011: N is for Nano-dice

    15 April 2014

    [A to Z April] M is for Marsh Blade (item)

    Forged at the behest of the Venerable Tirai Derus II centuries ago, the blade now known as the Marsh Blade was a beautiful scimitar. Its entire surface–hilt and blade–was crusted with engraved designs and precious stones. Needless to say it was purchased for a small fortune.

    The blade itself was imbued with magic sufficient enough to be considered a +1 weapon. An error was made at the forge, however, and the magical infusion was never correctly concluded. As a result, when Tirai Derus II was killed in the Ghoulbourn Fen and the newly-forged scimitar sank into the disgusting marsh waters, it began to absorb the qualities of the swamp around it.

    Newly re-discovered and dubbed the Marsh Blade, the scimitar is now more deadly than Tirai Derus II ever considered. The centuries of submersion in the marsh has imbued the sword with diseases from the water. When wielded, the sword literally drips with filthy marsh water.

    On a successful critical hit, the blade attempts to infect the target with one of six diseases commonly found in the foul waters of Ghoulbourn Fen, as if it was a poisoned blade. On the roll of a natural 1, however, the wielder of the sword is targeted by the possible infection. (Note: despite the infection methods and incubation periods normally associated with these diseases, upon wounding with the Marsh Blade, the target must make a successful save against the disease’s DC. Upon an unsuccessful save, infection and damage occurs immediately.)

    Marsh Blade Effects

    d6 Roll
    Disease
    1
    Blinding Sickness
    2
    Cackle Fever
    3
    Filth Fever
    4
    Mindfire
    5
    Shakes
    6
    Slimy Doom


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    Previous "M"s:
    2013: M is for Middlemurk Church (map)
    2012: M is for Myth Voice (feat)
    2011: M is for Maerl Dardar (npc)

    14 April 2014

    [A to Z April] L is for Lell (npc)

    To all those who know her, she is known only as “Lell.” If she has a family name, she has hidden it well. In truth, she is the youngest child of a five-child-household. Her parents remain alive, last she knew, but both are in poor health. It has been a dozen years since Lell looked in on her family on anything more than a cursory manner. Her family feels the same way and avoids her whenever possible. Lell emigrated to Coldtreath to get further away from her family home in the village of Anazel, off the Coter Straits. She currently calls no one “family” and few creatures “friend.”

    At one time, Lell had a very comfortable, stable life at home. The Anazel Fire of 1312 ruined her happiness, however, taking her favorite grandparents from her.

    She was helpless to save them, despite having bragged only that morning about her survival and adventuring skills. Her family held her partially responsible; blaming herself as well, she reacted to the accusations poorly, losing her temper. The resulting rage completed the alienation of her entire family. Because of the loss of her grandparents, and the subsequent loss of the rest of her family’s love, Lell cannot feel at home or settle anywhere for long. She is jealous of those around her that seem to have the happiness she lost. Although she tries to keep her anger tightly in check, she will occasionally give in to mindless bouts of reckless anger. The "fits" last anywhere from minutes to hours; afterwards, she is spent physically and emotionally, with no knowledge of her actions during that time.


    She is considered of average beauty among halflings. She is average height for her race, standing just a titch under 3' tall. She has a skull-cap of black hair pulled into a braided ponytail, with the sides of her head shaved to the skin and long bangs framing her face. Her eye-color changes with her mood, although her most common mood is “annoyance.”

    Lell is ambitious, always trying to prove herself to others. She is a sucker for lost causes, feeling that she can somehow atone for her grandparents’ death by succeeding where others have failed. She worships no deity, but believes only in fate and luck.

    Lell, HALFLING Fighter 6CR 6
    XP 2,400
    LN Small humanoid
    Init +4; Senses listen +2; Spot +0
    DEFENSE
    AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +1 size, +2 armor, +1 shield)
    hp 43 (16d6+32)
    Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +3
    Special: Fearless
    OFFENSE
    Speed 20 ft.
    Melee Sword, short +9 (1d4+3/19-20)
    Ranged Blowgun +14 (1+4) range 20
    Full attacks Sword, short +7/2 (1d4+3/19-20) or blowgun +12/12 (1+4) range 20
    Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
    STATISTICS
    Str 12, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 9
    Base Atk +6; Grapple +3
    Feats: Armor Proficiency (Heavy, Light, Medium), Martial Weapon Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (blowgun), Weapon Specialization (sword, short), Weapon Specialization (blowgun)
    Skills: Climb +10, Hide +7, Intimidate +6, Jump +9, Listen +2, Move Silently +5, Ride +4, Spot +0, Swim +4
    Languages Common, Halfling, Gnome
    EQUIPMENT
    Bracers of Armor (+1), Cloak of Resistance (+1), +1 Blowgun


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

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    Previous "L"s:
    2013: L is for Ladder, Nature’s (spell)
    2012: L is for Lung Leech Swarm (creature)
    2011: L is for Lehman Caves

    [A to Z April] K is for Kell's Force Tonic (beverage)

    Kell’s Force Tonic is modeled after a libation created a century ago by the Mad Wizard Kell, who was determined to create a beverage that was both delicious to drink and, because of his paranoia, an effective way to better see corporeal undead. In his honor, those few enterprising individuals who still mix up a batch of tonic for sale market the Force Tonic in the same kind of small brass bottle that Kell was known to use. Like Kell’s, each bottle contains one dose of the Force Tonic. To pay their respects, these bottles have an etched image of Kell on their side.

    The Tonic is a grey-colored liquid that has a barely-noticeable smell of fresh-baked bread and a smooth, pleasant vanilla taste. A single dose provides a slight buzz; the “side effects” take effect in 3d4 rounds. These “side effects” allow the individual the ability to see and touch incorporeal creatures for its duration; namely, 5d6 rounds. The Tonic does not come cheap, however, at 400 gp per dose.



    **Due to Blogger-related issues beyond my control, this post apparently didn't actually publish on Saturday as scheduled. So, I repost it today.

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    Previous "K"s:
    2013: K is for Kith, Sin (creature)
    2012: K is for Kel, Scokin (npc)
    2011: K is for Key, Skeleton (item)

    11 April 2014

    [A to Z April] J is for Jade Temple (map)

    The Jade Temple is a subterranean temple carved out of an enormous lode of magnificent jade. The temple was originally dedicated to the worship of Daiurai, the Goddess of Spring. Recently, however, it has been taken over and corrupted by worshipers of Thosli, the God of Destruction and Wrath. Thosli desires the secrets and treasures he is sure reside in the temple. For every 10 minutes the adventures are in the Jade Temple, there is a 25% chance of encountering a group of 1d4 followers of Thosli. Each group will contain one magic user or cleric.

    1. The 10-foot-wide hallways in this entryway and the parallel hallway to the east are lined with ornate bas relief sculptures depicting epic battles between avatars of Daiurai and Thosli and their followers. Worshipers of Daiurai attain a morale bonus to any combat maneuvers performed in line of sight of the sculptures. In the eastern hallway is a representation of Daiurai falling to Thosli’s sword. The floor immediately in front of that image is trapped; any creature that stops to pay respect to Thosli and his victory over Daiurai triggers the pit trap.

    2. This chamber is entered by one of four doors. Each door is locked with excellent locks and are trapped with one of four different traps: explosive rune, acid spray, poisoned needles, and electrical discharge. The stone floor forms a cross and is suspended over a bottomless chasm. In the center of the cross is a small pedestal on which rests an urn. The urn is purported to contain the ashes of Daiurai’s first prophet, Fawai the Bountiful. Removing the urn from the pedestal will cause the room to be filled with a pillar of divine fire. Stone golems stand in the four alcoves in the hallways around this chamber as protectors of the urn; if they sense the urn’s presence outside the chamber, each of them will become active and seek to (1) recover the urn and (2) punish those who are responsible for moving the urn. They will pursue and attack until either their target(s) are destroyed or they are destroyed.

    3. The door to this chamber is protected by two of four different traps: rune of disintegration, spiked floor, spore cloud, and a falling block trap. Inside the chamber is a stone circle suspended over a bottomless chasm. The floor of the chamber is treacherous and covered with ice. At the north end of the stone circle is an altar on which rests a frozen heart, rumored to be a trophy taken from an avatar of Thosli after his death at Daiurai’s hands. The air temperature itself will cause cold damage every round to any creature that spends more than one minute in the chamber. If allowed to close, the door will automatically lock and the alternate two traps will be set.

    4. Four sarcophagi fill this chamber. They are the final resting place of four of Daiurai’s greatest clerics: Enoundro the Learned, Bez the Faithful, Nol Adouk the Unlucky, and Krop the Silencer. 1d4 of these sarcophagi have been infiltrated by rot grubs. Each of them contain various minor treasures and oddly well-preserved funerary vestments.

    5. This is the treasure room for the temple, where donations were stored. There is a 50% chance that the bulk of the treasure has already been removed from the temple by looters or followers of Thosli.

    6. The chapel of Daiurai has been desecrated. The altar has been doused with the blood of some unidentifiable creature–possibly even human–while the pews and statuary have been vandalized, broken, and burned. A crude image of Thosli has been drawn in soot over the altar. Any evil creature will attain a significant morale bonus to attack rolls while in this chamber, while any good creature will suffer a similar morale penalty.

    7. A massive stone guardian fills this alcove and will immediately attack any non-good creature it sees. It will pursue and attack until it either destroys its target(s) or is itself destroyed. Gore and shredded cloth is scattered around the alcove, floor, and ceiling.

    8. Followers of Thosli have, apparently, somehow found their way into this room, the living quarters for the current priest of Daiurai in residence, Dominus Jere. Upon entering this room, one will immediately see the tortured, slaughtered remains of Dominus Jere hanging from the wall over his personal shrine to Daiurai. A thorough search of this chamber will uncover little in the way of typical treasure. However, a letter significant to one of the adventurers’ personal quests will be found in Jere’s desk. In addition, there is a massive tome entitled “Revised Inscriptions of the Hallowed.” Taking at least one hour to read this tome will impart knowledge of Daiurai to one reader. If read by a good cleric, it will also grant the knowledge of a random minor clerical spell of the DM’s discretion.

    9. The doors leading to this hallway are locked from the outside. Warning runes are scribbled hastily in chalk on each door. Within the corridor are 2d4 ghouls who followed the smell of carnage into the temple and who were trapped in the corridor by followers of Thosli, some of whom were trapped with the ghouls and have been killed and partially consumed.

    The long hallway bisecting the temple from east to west contains two pit traps for the unwary infidel. There are signs on the ceiling above each trap that warn of the traps to those whose eyes are turned heavenward seeking for Daiurai’s assistance and favor. Unfortunately, they are in the ancient language of Obi and can only be read and understood by a student of Obi or Daiurai.

    The usual applies to this image: free to use, just drop me a note to let me know if, where, when, and how it was used. The PDF can be grabbed HERE.


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    Previous "J"s:
    2013: J is for Jade Skull (item)
    2012: J is for Jalbion’s Liquid Jewel (spell)
    2011: J is for Juniper Ale (beverage)

    10 April 2014

    [A to Z April] I is for Island, Oraoss (map)

    The island nation of Oraoss lies approximately 1500 miles southwest from the continental port of Coldtreath. It lies in a temperate zone and has a wide range of climates and terrains for a relatively small island at 15,000 square miles. The island is characterized mainly by the sharp division created by the central mountain range–the Dazao Mountains–which separates the lush, wooded eastern side from the gently rolling plains and barren desert on the west. The southern tip of the island is an enormous marshland, the Raekri Marshes, which are nearly impassable without an expert guide. The island is surrounded by four smaller islands as well as a small island range, the Uabal Islands.

    The capitol city, Raolde, is an average size city by continental standards, large by Oraossian standards. Its population of 3,254 adults is dominated by elves (92%) followed by humans at 2%. Another 5% is made up of an equal mix of dwarves, halflings, gnomes, half-elves, and orcs. Walled by stone, Raolde is famous for its scholars (its major export followed closely by blueberries) and its courtesans. Many travel to see its beautiful architecture and experience the thrill of the gladiator rings. Most who visit realize only later that the locals grossly overcharge outsiders for their experience.

    Despite the dominant elvish population, crime is out of control in Raolde. Three separate thieves’ guilds operate in Raolde under the nose of its governing official, the Lawgiver Kera Pata. Nominally an elected official, the Lawgiver heads a corrupt government. Raoldian officials, while ostensibly the most cultured and refined of the population of Oraoss are still largely seen as bumpkins to their counterparts in Coldtreath and other large cities on the continent.

    Most of the other towns and cities on Oraoss are embarrassed to be associated with those from Raolde. The Uabals have unofficially declared independence; the Lord of Cear Keep, Bik Iloamai (known as “the Subjugator” to many throughout Oraoss) is the self-styled Lawgiver-in-exile, claiming to be the heir to the deposed once-Lawgiver. Seeing himself as the “true government” of Oraoss, Bik Iloamai occasionally sends decrees across the Uabal Strait to be distributed by messenger to the various Oraossian cities; these decrees contain more than a hint of madness and irrational mandates.

    Oraoss also boasts a large population of dwarves who inhabit Kilfik Hall, nestled at the base of Fivejade Peak, the tallest mountain on Oraoss (soaring 1,200 feet above sea level). Snow is often seen on the very top of Fivejade Peak during the rainy season. The dwarves of Kilfik Hall harvest the snow and ice and export it throughout Oraoss. Nestled in the arms of the Utui Hills, the passageways and chambers of Kilfik Hall are rumored to extend throughout the center of Fivejade Peak, although few outsiders have ever been invited into the Hall and no outsider has been known to be allowed past the Asssembly Room just within the main gates.

    The usual applies to this image: free to use, just drop me a note to let me know if, where, when, and how it was used. The PDF can be grabbed HERE.


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    Previous "I"s:
    2013: I is for Ice Quartz Caverns (map)
    2012: I is for Iron Hide Zombie (creature)
    2011: I is for Inkeeper (npc)

    09 April 2014

    [A to Z April] H is for Heart Filth (poison)

    Heart Filth is typically found–at least when purchased from semi-reputable dealers–in a ceramic flask. The flask itself is traditionally stopped with a plug of tree sap/ the bottom third of the flask is wrapped from neck to base with a fine cord.

    The main ingredient in heart filth is filtered ocher oil, which lends the poison its signature orange color and its aftertaste of mint. The distillation process gives the liquid a faint burnt meat smell.

    This vicious poison quickly debilitates any creature that ingests it. Because of its strength and its relatively slow-acting effect, its use is favored by groups such as the Black Wolves of Halldale and the Assassin Monks of Wanbei Shi.
    Heart Filth Poison
    Type: poison (ingested); Save: Fortitude DC 15
    Onset: 1 minute; Frequency: 1/hour for 12 hours
    Initial Effect: 1d2 Con and Str damage
    Secondary Effect: 1d2 Con OR Str damage (alternating) 1/hour for 12 hours

    Cure: 2 consecutive saves

    Cost: 500 gp per dose (liquid)

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    Previous "H"s:
    2013: H is for Heths' Jeacky Fleter (beverage)
    2012: H is for Happy Birthday
    2011: H is for Hargrim, the Soulhammer (item)

    08 April 2014

    [A to Z April] G is for Ghostcall, Eroutoa (npc)

    Many know the elvish armorer called Eroutoa Ghostcall, but if anybody truly knows her, they’ve yet to be discovered. She is a tall, gangly elf with alabaster skin and long, straight, golden blonde hair. She’s attractive, despite missing her left eye; her right eye is a pretty honey color.

    Stories abound about her background; in the absence of the truth, any of those stories could be the truth. The most prevalent story is that she is on the run. From what? No on is quite sure. Even though she knows all of the gossip, she has neither related the true story to anyone, no has she let it affect her personality. She remains polite and helpful to all, especially her customers.

    The few people that have seen her hidden storerooms will attest to her nature as an inveterate packrat. She loves to tell stories and will often keep customers well past their transaction’s close, just to tell “one more story.” In spite of her loquaciousness, she lives a secret life. She has no close friends, only acquaintances and customers. No one is even sure where she sleeps; there’s no apparent living quarters attached to Eroutoa’s Arms and no one has ever seen her spend the night elsewhere.

    One thing that is for sure, any who know her know of her paranoia against the gnomish race. Her paranoia lends her a mild bias against the short folk. She doesn’t let it affect business; she’ll sell to them just as readily as any other individual. Finally, Those that consider her a friend are extremely loyal. No one wants to believe the worst of her and will fiercely protect her, her store, and her reputation.

    Eroutoa Ghostcall, ELF Expert (Armorer) 16CR 8
    XP 4,800
    CG Medium humanoid
    Init +1; Senses keen senses; low-light vision; listen +10; spot +1
    DEFENSE
    AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +1 Dex)
    hp 88 (16d6+32)
    Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +9
    Immune: Sleep; Resistance: Enchantments (+2)
    OFFENSE
    Speed 30 ft.
    Melee longsword +17 (1d8+5/19-20)
    Ranged longbow +13 (1d8 x3) range 100
    Full attacks longsword +17/12/7 (1d8+5/19-20) or longbow +13/8/3 (1d8 x3) range 100
    Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
    STATISTICS
    Str 17, Dex 13, Con 10 (+4 = 14), Int 12, Wis 9, Cha 8
    Base Atk +12; Grapple +15
    Feats: Armor Proficiency (Heavy, Light, Medium), Combat Reflexes, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Persuasive, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Weapon Focus (longsword)
    Skills: Appraise +20, Bluff +20, Craft (Armorer) +20, Handle Animal +8, Hide +4, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (Nobility) +12, Listen +10, Profession (Merchant) +18, Ride +12, Search +3, Spot +1
    Languages Common, Elven, Sylvan
    EQUIPMENT
    Bracers of Armor (+2), Cloak of Elvenkind (+5), Longsword +1, Chain shirt (Mithral)
    Buffing Spells Pre-cast: Bears Endurance (CL 16)


    **Many thanks to Birosca Nerd for the image.

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    Previous "G"s:
    2013: G is for Grey Spirit Blade (item)
    2012: G is for Green, Mage (item)
    2011: G is for Grick
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