Sep 18, 2014

D&D Kre-O Figures: Wave 2

I was recently thinking about Lego and Dungeons and Dragons (maybe because of my recent GenCon speech) and remembered that there were supposed to be more waves of the figures from Kre-O.

After a little Google-fu, I came across a few images of the figures, as shown below.

There are definitely a few interesting things I see.

Pros

  • The lizardman (back row, left) look interesting (if maybe a bit too much like the Star Trek Gorn). I'll certainly try to pick up a few of these.
  • There appears to be a drow (back row, left of center) with a new hair piece and crossbow.
  • Back middle figure is some kind of succubus, with some unique looking wings. We'll have to see how they stack up to the Brickwarriors wings or Lego wings.
  • Back row, far right, looks to be a wizard/cleric. I like the neck guard and hair piece.
  • The mummy figure (front row, left) is a new figure for the line and is wielding a new weapon.
  • The ghost figure looks great, and it appears he has a spider accessory at his feet. It's possible the spider glows. Definitely want 2+ of this figure

Cons

  • The tiefling still has the same awful horn piece. Dear Kre-O, please come up with something better for wave three, or just give up on tieflings.
  • Where are the other classic D&D races, like elf (non-Drow thank you), dwarf, and gnome? And what about classic, monsters like goblins and kobolds. I would buy up bunches of those for my game. 
  • Maybe in the future we can start seeing more of the depth of the D&D monster and character catalog, instead of just the same humans and orcs, with a few extras. Granted, there aren't as many human orc figs as the first series, but we're still missing out on the classics.
Overall, I'm a lot more impressed with wave 2 than I was with the first wave. Now, we (probably) just have to wait till Jan to start seeing these in stores.

Sep 16, 2014

Female Friendly

If you haven't already heard, Sean K Reynolds has a blog post talking about Female-Friendly Campaigns, with some do's and don't's.

It's something I think every GM and player should read and try to take to heart. 

I'm pretty sure that each and every one of us has at some point in our lives felt excluded or out of place in a social situation. At the heart of most RPGs is a group of folks working together, as a team, to overcome a great obstacle. Why wouldn't we try to be that same way in our real lives, especially when dealing with people interested in the same cooperative games we love and enjoy?

I hope you'll spend a few minutes reading this important post here (http://seankreynolds.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/gamer-talk-a-female-friendly-campaign/)

Sep 11, 2014

DIY Miniature - Spinal Ooze

A friend of mine (the same one who did this wonderful custom terrain video) recently entered a scratch-build mini contest on http://dmscraft.proboards.com and won. Since dmscraft requires registration, he's allowed me to repost his winning entry here...

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I entered a contest for building a miniature from scratch, and actually won, haha! Contestants had one month to build the mini, and the rules stipulated that entries must include a tutorial. Since this was the first mini contest, there was no specific theme.

Here's my entry:

SPINAL OOZE

This guy is based off one of my favorite World of Warcraft monsters, Blizzard's version of the Black Ooze:

I loved how they had a skull, spine and debris stuck in them and could bite. In my version, they collect a couple of spines and connect them together to extend their reach, like a support structure. This explains why the skull is so far from the ribcage in the photos below. Ok, let's get to it...

Started with the inner portion of a dollar store hair curler:


See the spikey bits? That's what we need. We cut one row out:


We take that row of spikes and hold it over a flame for a second to soften it, then bend into desired shape:


We paint that off-white/bone. We grab a skull from our box of Wargames Factory Skeletal Warriors.
I forgot to take a photo, but as you can see below, there's a bit of spine on the back of the skull. I cut that out with a razor so our new spine can mate better with the back of the skull, behind the jawbone.


Next, we alter a torso. In the photo below, you can see I removed the lower spine, then cut a channel between the shoulder blades to house our new hair-curler spine. The torso on the right is unaltered, for comparison.


Glue it on, paint it up:


Starting to look pretty creepy :)


Glue the mini on the base:


I had some dollar store beads that came with these stupid key charms I thought I'd never use:


Got to looking at them and realized they actually magnify things! They're tiny lenses, which is more evident when you cut them apart:


I had planned on putting the small ones in as slime bubbles, but then thought it'd be cool if you could see the spine inside the slime, like looking in a porthole. I hot glued 2 of the big ones as large bubbles, one on each side, but not lined up with each other.
I then added the small lenses and pre-made globs of hot glue to build up the body of the slime. Also stuck 2 shards of toothpick into his back.


Ran hot glue up his neck on both sides. Here you can see the magnification effect in the large bubble. (sort of... sorry, phone pic)


Front view so far:


Next, I prepainted a mini sword and stuck it in his back:


Painted the black slime. I slowly built up layer after layer of black wash around the bones and bubbles. I wanted the bubbles to fade from clear in the center to black at the edges.


Here you can see the tail end of his spine showing through one of the big bubbles:


These final shots are after applying a high-gloss clear varnish to the slime. Also put a little on the base around him, to create a "snail trail". I also switched to my real camera, lol.

Cheers! :)

Sep 4, 2014

GenCon 2015: The Review

Another GenCon is over, and so it's time for me to do a little recap of how this year was the best year yet (and it was).

Day Zero (Wed)

First off, I had planned to do daily updates of my experiences at the con, but that didn't happen. I ended up with either too many late night games, or too many early morning events to find the time. Maybe next year I'll at least be better about live tweeting during various events. Anyway...

I got into Indy on the Wednesday before the con, around early afternoon. The drive in (shared by me and one of my oldest friends from Philly) was nice, but once again we missed a crucial turn off onto the downtown roads and had to take a slight shortcut. The problem seems to be with my GPS not being up to date with the current traffic pattern of the area. I mention this only because this is the third year in a row that we drove to Indy, and this was the third time in a row that we missed the same exit. Sadly, a large part of the reason for wanting to go back again next year is to conquer that road.

Once we settled in to our room (which meant just dropping off bags) we picked up our badges and event tickets. I was impressed with how quickly the line at moved, and barely put any dent into the book I was reading on my iPhone Kindle app (GoT, book 3, BTW). I looked over my events and found that in my envelop slip I had someone else's events in addition to my own! I promptly turned in the other person's tickets (in exchange for some good karma and all that) and headed over to Scotty's Brewhouse.

Scotty's does a GenCon themed menu every year. Last year I tried going over there but the two hour wait was more than I was willing to put in for "Goblin Ears". This year it was early enough that we were quickly seated. After having a beer sampler and the Sandpoint Devil (chicken sandwich), we collected our souvenir dice and headed out.

I'm a sucker for souvenir this and that, and so is my close family, because on the way back to the hotel, I had to stopped off at the Hard Rock and pick up this year's GenCon pin for my mother in law. This year's pin, quiet frankly, was a lot nicer than last year's offering, and I can officially say I started my holiday shopping in August!

Day One (Thur)

The next day, or the first actual day of GenCon was filled with a bunch of various D&D games. I started off the day at 9am playing the classic first edition modules D1-D2. I hadn't played 1e in many years, and had forgotten much of the obscure bits of that edition, while some parts, like THAC0, seem destined to never be forgotten.

I had a blast playing this old module. No, it's not perfect, and there are things that might not be inline with modern roleplaying design (like death without save), but there seemed to be something poetically perfect about playing a classic Gygax module at GenCon at the start of the con.

I followed that up later in the day by running one of the new 5e modules at the con. After last year's impromptu D&D 5e game I ran, I was determined to sign up for a few slots this year.

I was assigned Defiance in Phlan, the short one hour delve that ran every hour on the hour during most of the con. Since this module was so short, there wasn't more to do than set up the basic premise and get right in to the action. This was a great way for folks to quickly try the game without the full commitment of a 4 hour module, and if they liked it, there was also the option to come back and replay the adventure as there were five different one hour scenarios to choose from.

What I enjoyed most about running the module was the various people. Everyone from brand new players, to older 1e vets looking to try the new game, to hardcore folks determined to get through all five parts of the module, everyone crossed my table at some point over the weekend. I hope they had as much fun as I had.

Later that night I was back at the D&D 5e tables, but this time as a player, trying to unravel the Secrets of Sokol Keep. I enjoyed the module, and the chance to show off my new 5e character, Brandon Cash (a gambler and reluctant hero, a combination of a pair of old TV western characters. Feel free to make your guesses in the comments below). I did pretty poorly in the first combat, but redeemed myself at the end delivering several decisive blows to drop weakened enemies left and right.

And with that, so ended my first day

Day Two (Fri)

The second day of the con was very different than the first. One of the things I try to do each year, is find something outside the normal. It's usually just playing a new game, or going to an unusual seminar. This year, I went full tilt and actually hosted my own seminar.

My talk was about inventive ways to use Lego in your D&D games, along with a Powerpoint presentation with a lot of picture examples and even some free samples from my new best friends at Brickwarriors (http://www.brickwarriors.com/).

The talk was a lot of work, but a lot of fun pulling it all together. I'm especially grateful for the dozen people that actually showed up. As I've said before, there's some much to see/do at GenCon, you have to pick and choose how to spend your time. I hope the folks who showed up felt that the time was well spent.

After that, it was my turn to listen in on a seminar. I went to the Caves 2.0 seminar where Scott Rice-Snow (Chairperson of the Department of Geological Sciences and Professor of Geological Sciences at Ball State University) talked about real world cave systems and how they differ from what we typically see in RPG scenarios. It was a wonderful talk, and now I'm very interested in doing more research that I can leverage in my own games.

I later spent a good deal of time in dealer's room looking over this and that and making a few purchases, like finding a 5e PHB for $35, and a few new Pathfinder RPG decks (Tide of Battle looks very interesting, especially if I can easily adapt to 5e).

At the end of the day I ended up playing what I thought was an All Flesh Must Be Eaten game, but was only loosely based on that system. It was a zombie game, but it was more improve and humor than what I was expecting. I was really impressed with how a single DM was able to handle a room of about 50 people and juggle all the various actions going on at each table.

Day Three (Saturday)

Saturday marked another D&D day. I started the day running Defiance in Phlan and ended the day as a player for the Epic adventure Corruption in Kryptgarden.

If you haven't heard these Epic adventures are only to be played at big cons and are multi-table events, where the actions at one table can positively, or negatively, impact what's going on at your table. It was the first time I've ever played such an event, and it seems they still need to work some kinks out of the concept--a DM has to prep for three different scenarios, while only 1 of the 3 will be run at the table. Players choose which path at the beginning of the event. Also, the sound system wasn't the best it could be, so it was hard for my table (which as about as far away from the main stage as it could be while still being in the D&D section of Hall D) to hear the updates that were going on.

And that wrapped up my last full day.

Day Four (Sunday)

Sunday was the last day of the con, also known as The Long Drive Home. After checking out of the hotel, and packing up the car, my buddy and me hit the dealers room one last time. I was looking for some last day deals, and the only one I found was for a product I had pre-ordered, so I felt a bit chump-ish seeing it now $10 less. Oh well. After picking up a few items here and there, like something for the wife and kid, and 1/2 off an old 4e module (I picked up up mostly for the battle mat, I'm a sucker for those things), we were off, once again on the open road.

The trip back was nice, and after a stop off at a local Stake and Shake, for one last "feels like GenCon meal", we were out of town... hopeful to return next year.

Sep 2, 2014

D&D Minis Gallery

I was lucky to see some of the new D&D minis that have just started coming out at this year's GenCon, but not all of them.

Here's a full gallery, including some ultra rare invisible minis that I didn't even know about.



Here's the link to the page displayed above: http://www.minisgallery.com/dnd/dnd1.htm

Aug 28, 2014

Game Session - Same Game, Different Faces

So, after the finale of the Dragon Island saga, our gaming group had some changes in real life. One of the players was moving out of town, one seemed to be more interested in running a Mage campaign, and so on.

That put me back to the unenviable position of having to rebuild the group. Luckily, I did have one player still around (Mike), and after a couple of months of searching I had one more.

I was hoping to get at least three to restart the game, but rather than keep the two I did have waiting around (and potentially dropping out before I even got started), I decided to start with just two PCs (along with an NPC character I would run as needed).

Even though Mike already had a character in the game (Hunter, a 7th level ranger), I didn't want to start this game at such a high level, so I asked Mike if he would bring in a new 1st level character for the time being. The idea was that when this new party (along with any new players) reached a high enough level, we could have the Mike's new character leave the group to be replaced by Hunter.

Another change I was planning was to move this campaign from Flotsam to a new location. Rather than build a new town from scratch, I decided to drop Saltmarsh into the Dragonlance setting in an area I hadn't previously used. Since I wasn't planning on running the original U series of modules, I opted for the version of Saltmarsh presented in the 3.5 DMG II. All the city needed was a few cosmetic changes, swapping out the default deities for their Dragonlance equivalents, and adding a few details to the city based on a module I was planning to run far in the future and we were all set to start...

Starting the game were the following characters:

Duncan - A cleric of Kiri-Jolith
Ataraxia - A monk of Majere
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Saltmarsh District Map
Our adventure starts in the bustling trade town of Saltmarsh, located on the shore of New Sea in Qwermish. Cole Silverhammer, a dwarven blacksmith, and owner of The Anvil, was in need of some help. It seems Sandyford, one of the villages that supplies Cole with the raw ore he uses to forge his wares, had recently, and without notice or reason, stopped making deliveries.

Worried that something was amiss, Cole sought out the aid of the high ranking clerics of Kiri-Jolith in town.

Cole was well known to the clerics of Kiri-Jolith for supplying low cost weapons and armor to their warriors, and when he came to them asking for help, they were only too willing to assist. The clerics assigned one of their younger, newly confirmed members (Duncan), the task of accompanying Cole to the village of Sandyford. They also arranged for a monk of Majere (Ataraxia) to accompany the group to Sandyford.

It should be noted that the monks and the clerics of Kiri-Jolith often trained together and had formed close alliances in Saltmarsh.

The journey to Sandyford was mostly uneventful. Along the way, the trio did encounter a small group of refugees, not from Sandyford, but from Pinehurst, a town further north. These refugees mentioned that Pinehurst had suffered frequent attacks from local kobold tribes. They knew nothing of the fate of the town of Sandyford, so the trio bid them goodbye. Privately, Duncan and Ataraxia felt they might want to investigate the events in Pinehurst after checking in with the folks in Sandyford.

When they arrived in Sandyford, they found a village ravaged by disease. Many were already dead, and the rest confined to bed with shaking fever sickness. One woman, Mara, while just as sick as the rest of Sandyford, was at least coherent enough to shed some light on the situation.

The shaky fever, as she called it, started over a month ago. At first it was just a few of the men who worked the nearby mine, but it soon spread throughout town as well as the local livestock. Aid was sought from Solanthus, but never arrived.

When the first of the townsfolk to get sick started dying, some tried to flee, while others sought to find answers within the mine where the sickness appeared to start from. These few, the last healthy and able bodied men of town, were never heard form again. Mara begs the party to find the lost husbands, daughters, and sons of Sandyford.

Without delay, Duncan, Ataraxia, and Cole set forth to the mine just a few miles outside of town. They soon found themselves standing before the mine entrance. All around the entrance, tools and some crude weapons seemed scattered around, but no living or dead bodies could be found. A recent snowfall covered any tracks around the mine.

Curious about the missing townsfolk, the party ventured into the mine. Traveling down a descending hallway, the three soon found themselves in a small roughly rectangular room. Chunks of ore were scattered about while two overturned ore carts lay in the center of the room. Under one of the carts was a motionless body. Blood smears covered the walls telling of a fierce battle that took place here recently.

Heading down the westward hallway, they soon found themselves in the old mess hall, along with a half dozen or more kobolds. As fighting quickly broke out, three of their number raced over to the adjoining room, where they barred the door and set up a defensive position. After all the kobolds were defeated, the party searched the mess hall, and the other room, which turned out to be storage room. While they found all manner of food stuffs, from ale to cheese, there was no clue as to the whereabouts of the missing townsfolk.

Heading down the east hallway from the room with the overturned carts, the party soon entered the deep central cavern where the miners worked. Here they encounter more kobolds, but worse still were the zombies lingering down one of the main spurs off the cavern. The party soon encountered the reanimated corpses of several of the townsfolk, along with several undead kobolds as well.

Not sure who, or what, was behind such an abomination, they continued further into the tunnel. In a large chamber they beheld the cause of all the death and suffering that had plagued the quiet village of Sandyford. A lone bozak draconian, clad in the robes of his new god, the Rat King (aka Morgion, the god of disease). Here, the bozak had found a way to infect a stream of water that passed through this cavern, the same water that fed into the town's drinking water.

Grak, as he called himself, seemed to be infected with the same disease that he was inflicting on the town, but had not yet succumbed to its full effect. Even in his weakened state, the cleric of filth put up a good fight against the trio, but soon fell to their combined might.

With the death of the draconian, the magically talisman that was infecting the water supply was rendered inert.

In the following days, some of the townsfolk started getting better, and Duncan was able to send word back to Saltmarsh that clerics of Mishakal, the Healing Hand, would be needed for the very worst cases. Duncan and Ataraxia stayed on in Sandyford till reinforcements arrived. Afterward, the pair headed north to Pinehurst to follow up on the rumors of other kobold activity in the area, while Cole stayed behind to assist the recover of the townsfolk.

Aug 12, 2014

GenCon: D-1

It's almost GenCon day, and if you are lucky enough to be going this year (and you are not already in transit), then you are probably like me and frantically trying to get all the last minute things locked down so you can start enjoying "The Best Four Days in Gaming".

For me, this year is requiring a bit more prep than usual, mostly because I'm doing a bit more than usual this year.
Like every other time I've been there, I certainly plan to be spending plenty of time in the Dealer's Room, and playing a bunch of games, but this time around, I'm planning to run a bunch of D&D as well as give a talk about using Lego like products in your D&D games. Both of these things are forcing me to do a bunch of prep work that I didn't need to do in past years. It's certainly fun, but the last few days have not been as relaxing as they have in past years.
But no matter what, I'm sure I'll have a blast!
If you aren't going, please think about checking out this blog, which I'll be updating daily throughout the con, or following me on Twitter (dmfumbl), where I'll be live tweeting.
Happy GenCon 2014!