Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 18

First things first, I am king of the idiots.  I had pulled the folder containing everyone's character sheets from my backpack between sessions 17 and 18 to look up something in one character's inventory, and then failed to put the folder back into my pack.  Thus, I showed up for Session 18 without anyone's character sheets; given that it would have been a half-hour of everyone else's time wasted for me to drive home, get them, and return to the store, we elected to free-form this shit. 

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 5
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4
Jaeger, Human Fighter 5
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 4
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 4
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4

With the Demogorgon cult extinguished, the party celebrated by feasting on Bawss Hawg, slow-roasted in honor of Kholark's victory over the giant pig, and Kholark himself received all four of Hawg's tusks as a trophy.  Jaeger took Lord Vesper's ornamental saber and broke it, creating the new sign for Cor's new Broken Blade Inn, on which construction soon began. 

In the morning, there was the issue of the Red Brotherhood to address.  While a number of the mercenaries had been slain in the fierce fighting the day before, there were still more of them then there were town guards.  With officers and NCOs sequestered in the dungeons under the castle and the rank and file disarmed and placed under guard in a makeshift prison camp, Ariska the Red Witch (now the de facto ruler of the town by popular opinion, supported by the sheriff Edras and bailiff Borut) asked the PCs their ideas regarding what be done with the Brotherhood.  Turning them loose would just result in there being a large camp of brigands just outside of Craghold, it was swiftly realized. 

Interviewing the prisoners was a lengthy process, but turned up some interesting information; Sir Dorian had begun approaching his officers about joining the Demogorgon cult, suggesting it to them as means of greater personal power and of swifter advancement within the Brotherhood.  Additionally, a percentage of the rank and file had come to the conclusion that they didn't need to hold any sense of loyalty to a dead commander, and were willing to hang up their red cloaks and join the City Guard of Craghold. 

Turning this information and their own suggestions over to Ariska, the party was a little shocked when she coldly called for the officers as a whole, and any soldiers who refused to join the City Guard, to be hanged outside of town.  Reasoning that if they were set free and became brigands, they would have to be hanged anyways, Ariska decided that it was the solution that best fit the safety of Craghold. 

With that out of the way, the party took advantage of the discount the town was offering them for being heroes to get some shopping done.  Mivahl purchased a morningstar to replace the flail he'd given to Kholark, and Jaeger, Dormammu and Sylvus found the local leatherworker to get some new leather armor made.  The tanner, a half-orc named Elgar, made an immediate impression - gruff, perfectionist, a craftsman who took pride in his work and expected his customers to take pride in what they bought from him.  Sylvus was nearly thrown out of the store for walking in wearing a dirty, badly-tanned wolfhide, and Elgar gave Jaeger a bit of an education on the realities of boiled leather as an armor in response to being shown Jaeger's sketches of what he wanted.  Appreciating a customer who knew what he was after, however, Elgar went through the sketches and explained what he could do to give Jaeger what he wanted - leather armor that would allow for increased flexibility and range of motion in combat without sacrificing protection.  Mollified, Elgar even agreed to produce a new, better quality wolf-hat for Sylvus. 

Waiting on production of the armor and taking care of the issue of the Red Brotherhood kept the party in town for a week after the death of Lord Vesper.  Finally setting out for Molekh on the 23rd of Rainmont, the first day of travel through the mountains proved easy until they neared the border of the desert; waiting for them at the end of the road was a pair of Hill Giants. 

"Toll collectors!" one of them bellowed.  "Gotta pay da toll ta cross da desert.  Toll is every coin and shiny jewel ya got!"

"Yeah!" the other chimed in.  "Give us yer cash, or yer heads we will, uhhhh," he squinted at the script written on his palm, "Smash! Yeah!"

"We already paid," Dormammu bluffed, sending the giants into a huddle of confusion.  Jaeger and Mivahl, eyeing the bulging and jingling sacks tied to the giants' belts, recognizing that even if they got past the giants unscathed via deception, the giants would continue to prey on others.  Kholark had his hand on his flail, ready to crack some heads (even if those heads were fifteen feet off the ground).  Lasair whispered to Mivahl and Jaeger that she'd follow their lead. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Men of the White Island

So, funny story.  I had been thinking I would build 24-point and 48-point versions of two or three different armies for Dragon Rampant for demo purposes.  I've got my 24 points' worth of Undead and Men of the West; and a good chunk of my "Coalition of Evil" army is on its way.  While digesting pie, I was weighing options for what I would need to buy to build the second 24 points for the Men of the West.  

And then I remembered that I have a box of Perry Miniatures' Wars of the Roses infantry sitting in my closet from last Christmas, and it makes two dozen archers and a dozen billmen, plus command.  With the right upgrades, that's 18 points of a Dragon Rampant army right there.  Pulling it out and giving the sprues a once-over, I decided that given the differences in armor styles and weaponry between these figures and the Normans I'm using for my Men of the West, these would be a different, potentially allied kingdom, and for simplicity's sake I dubbed it "the White Island." I tend to favor the Hyborian approach when designing a fantasy world and steal as much from history with the names changed as possible.  

Selecting the 10 heaviest-armored bodies off the main sprues, and the two bodies off one of the command sprues, I quickly assembled a unit of Offensive Heavy Foot using the bill-carrying arms, and gave them a commanding officer and standard bearer as well.  

Tomorrow I'm thinking I'll get the two dozen archers assembled and then I can start priming them, holding off on painting them until the Painting Challenge begins.  Colorwise, I'm leaning towards the white and blue livery of Richard, Duke of York as my basis for these; based on my limited research, I believe that's whose banner my own ancestors would have been marching under in the 1450s and I think it'd be amusing - since this will be able to double as a Lion Rampant retinue - to field a retinue raised from the town in which my great-great-great-great-great-grandparents had lived.  

I placed an order with Perry Miniatures just now for a half-dozen foot knights with polearms to complete the retinue.  

In Dragon Rampant, the army roster will look like this:

  • 1x Elite Foot - 6 pts
  • 1x Offensive Heavy Foot - 6 pts
  • 2x Light Missiles (Sharpshooter) - 12 pts

In Lion Rampant, it will look like this:

  • 1x Foot Men-at-Arms - 6 pts
  • 1x Expert Foot Serjeants - 6 pts
  • 2x Expert Archers  - 12 pts
All in all, what I'm looking at painting for the Painting Challenge is going to look like this:

12 War of the Roses Billmen
24 War of the Roses Archers
6 War of the Roses Foot Knights
6 Normans with Two-Handed Axes
12 Medieval Russians with Spears
12 Medieval Russians converted to be carrying Crossbows
24 Goblins with Spears
6 Goblins with Bows
3 Giant Spiders

For a total of 105 28mm figures, putting me comfortably within my target goal.  Granted, I don't know that I'll be able to get all that done, especially as I anticipate having other deadlines to meet and projects requiring my attention, but it's a goal.  

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow Americans.  May your pants stretch and your gravy boat stay full on this, my second favorite reason to get people gathered around a table.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Painting Bench, an Update

Well, with the announcement having been made for the 8th annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge (in which I will be participating), I thought I should show off some of what's been coming off my project list lately:

First up, "Edgwick and his Hounds," a unit of Lesser Warbeasts for my "Men of the West" army for Dragon Rampant.  These guys still need a dusting of meadow flock added to their bases, and I'm not super in love with how the dogs themselves came out, but they'll do for now.  Edgwick himself is a Crusader Warlord from Gripping Beast, which they threw in as a bonus figure with my last order, while the dogs are Reaper Bones.

Next, "The Howling Hordes of Bakarath," A Reduced Model Unit of Bellicose Foot which may or may not end up with the "Cause Fear" rule applied to them, for a "Dark Lord's Evil Coalition" army for Dragon Rampant.  The idea for this army being it's humans, goblinoids and demons, held together by the power and charisma of a villainous warlord; these Reaper "Bakarathi" demons certainly look Bellicose! These are older metal figures from Reaper, from the 02100s and 02200s line, and now I think they're in the 03600s.  A "98" was scratched onto the bottom of a couple of them, telling me they were sculpted 19 years ago.  I've glued a few Wargames Foundry shields and a cut-down Reaper Bones skeleton warrior to a couple of the bases. 

Next, another unit for my "Men of the West" army, a Reduced Model Unit of Heavy Foot with an attached Wizardling.  The spearmen are Conquest Games' plastic Norman warriors, of which I'd ordered a couple sprues.  These went together nicely enough, though I had some problems with their two-handed axes, as you'll see in a minute.  These are still a work in progress; the red needs some touching up on their tunics and shields, and of course the bases remain to be finished.  Accompanying them is "Diva, the Blessed," one of the limited-edition figures Reaper has put out this year to commemorate their 25th year in business.  Like Edgwick and his Hounds, her base just needs a dusting of meadow flock to complete it. 

Following them we have the Black Prince himself, leader of the Evil Coalition army, accompanied by his beloved pet scorpion.  For Dragon Rampant purposes, he is a Single Model Unit of Elite Foot.  I think he's pretty much done except for his base and the leather bits on his armor.  I like how his cloak came out.  Both figures are Reaper metals. 

Finally, we've got the King's Guard, a Reduced Model Unit of Offensive Heavy Foot who will be replacing a set of Bones figures that I was never super happy with.  These will be paired with King Denethall, leader of my "Men of the West" army, and are again Conquest Games' Normans - made using the more heavily armored bodies on the warriors sprue, as well as the two bodies on the command sprue to create a sergeant and standard bearer.  I ended up with some significant gaps where the right arm meets the torso on two of the axe-men (I suspect that some weapons fit some torsos better than others) that I'm going to need to putty up before I can get painting. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with everything, caveats as noted above.  I'm liking the Conquest figures enough that I'm considering getting a couple archer sprues to replace my Reaper Bones bowmen in this army, and adding another box of Normans when I get around to building a second 24 points of "reinforcements" for this army. 

Next up, however, is going to be the first 24 points of the Black Prince's army; I've pre-ordered a box of "Oathmark" Goblins from North Star, which will produce two units of Light Foot and a unit of Scouts, as well as a box of Fireforge Games' Medieval Russian Infantry, which will serve as humans marching beneath the Black Prince's banner a la Tolkien's Easterlings serving in the armies of Mordor.  Fireforge provides enough spear-arms for the box to produce two units of spearmen, but not enough swords, axes, maces or bows to produce any units with them.  I've got a ton of Fireforge crossbow arms in my bits box from last year's Ordenstaadt project, I may convert a dozen of these soldiers into crossbowmen.  I am going to have to find some replacement shields for the ones I do arm with spears though...

For those interested, the Black Prince's list as I'm currently building it:

  • The Black Prince (Elite Foot, Single Model Unit) - 6 pts.
  • Sorceress and Spearmen (Heavy Foot, Reduced Model Unit, Wizardling) - 6 pts
  • Crossbowmen (Heavy Missiles) - 4 pts
  • The Howling Horde of Bakarath (Bellicose Foot) - 4 pts
  • Goblins (Light Foot, Cowardly) - 2 pts
  • Goblins (Light Foot, Cowardly) - 2 pts

The Goblin Scouts are being saved for inclusion in the second 24 points "reinforcements" list for bigger games.  Overall, however, I think the contents of those two boxes - a total of 55 figures - will form the core of my Painting Challenge entry this year. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 17

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 4
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4
Jaeger, Human Fighter 4
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 4
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 4
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 4
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4

When we last left our heroes, Cor was working with a cordon of guards - both regular town militia and the elite soldiers of the Red Brotherhood - to secure a perimeter around the House of Pavel, now known to be the lair of diabolical cultists.  Paired with a Brotherhood soldier named Desrick, a large, placid-looking man, Cor found in him an appreciative admirer.  Unfortunately, a pyrotechnic blast from one of the windows of the House of Pavel caused Desrick to say, "Well, there's the signal.  I'm sorry to have to do this..." drawing his short-sword.

The rest of the group was inside, where they discovered - they thought - Lady Erzebeta about to sacrifice one of her step-daughters to the Demogorgon as Sir Dorian, commander of the Red Brotherhood, looked on expectantly.  An arrow from Lasair dispelled the illusion, and Sir Dorian (not an illusion) ordered the two guards present (also not an illusion) to attack.

Dormammu's entrance was cut short as he passed the threshold and a pair of crossbow bolts struck him - the real Julia and Wanda, Lord Vesper's teenage daughters, were using a pair of raised choir boxes in this desecrated temple to turn the floor below into a shooting gallery.  He fell, but was soon back on his feet thanks to Flora.  Sylvus, still in wolf form, charged Sir Dorian, as did Kholark.

As the battle raged, it occurred to the party - "Where did Vesper go?" His half-elven eyes piercing the gloom of the balcony between the two heads of the Demogorgon painted on the wall, Dormammu saw Lord Vesper and Lady Erzebeta watching the battle with glee.  He called out his discovery to the party.

Stepping into the flickering carmine light, Vesper announced, "Did you not suspect that a Cult of the Demogorgon would itself have TWO HEADS? All would have been fine if you'd just done as you were supposed to and killed that troublesome Red Witch.  Ah well.  Take my secrets to your graves."

He cast Cloudkill on the party, including the still-living Sir Dorian and his men.

Before too much damage could be done by the poisonous cloud, Flora cracked the Elemental Gem of Air that the Red Witch had given her, directing the summoned Air Elemental to funnel the poison gas out of the room and back up towards the balcony.

Flora then caught sight of a towering, unholy creature shambling towards her through the thinning fog, and screamed - but either an arrow from Lasair or an Eldritch Blast from Dormammu [DM's Note: I honestly forget which, and nobody sent me notes this week] shattered Erzebeta's concentration, revealing the creature to be an illusionary Phantasmal Killer.

Jaeger had the Air Elemental throw him at the balcony, but failed to catch the railing, falling 20 feet on to a descending staircase below.  With Sir Dorian and his men dealt with, Kholark raced to those same stairs, and together he and Jaeger found a way up to the balcony, while the Air Elemental simply floated up.  Lady Erzebeta was thrown thirty feet horizontally out from the balcony, while Lord Vesper took a pounding from whispy, unseen fists.  Kholark smashed his flail down on Vesper again and again, and Jaeger, seeing the old man clinging to the barest threads of life, picked him up and PILE-DRIVERED HIM OFF THE BALCONY.

Seeing their father and step-mother (and fellow cultists) dead, Wanda and Julia opted to kill themselves rather than be taken prisoner, much to Lasair's dismay.

Meanwhile, Cor killed Desrick with his dagger and quarterstaff, and looting the body, retrieved some gold and a platinum ring that was too small for Desrick's fingers.  He quickly identified it as a Ring of Protection.  

The death of Vesper caused the mouths of the painted Demogorgon to open and bellow in stereo "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" temporarily deafening Mivahl and Kholark.  The sonic boom also blew out all the windows, causing enough confusion outside for the town guard to overpower the Red Brotherhood and bring them to heel.

Searching Lord Vesper's body, Jaeger came away with an elaborate cloak pin of gold and obsidian - identifiable as a Scarab of Protection.  He also claimed Sir Dorian's single-edged, basket-hilted sword for himself.

That night's scheduled pig-roast proved far more celebratory than originally planned, as the city celebrated the removal of the Demogorgon Cult.  Ariska the Red Witch was called upon to replace Lord Vesper as the ruler of Craghold.

In the morning, a delegation of Hobgoblins arrived, asking for the group.  Zerin, their former companion turned leader of New Dawn, had informed Borgai, Khan of the Hobgoblins, of the party's successful capture of the lance known as the Empyrean Vengeance.  The leader of the delegation demanded that the party turn the lance over to him to deliver to Borgai, which Mivahl gladly did.  With a bow, the hobgoblins withdrew, riding back into the desert from whence they came.

With that, Cor announced his retirement from adventuring, settling in to run an inn and decode the iron-bound Book of Skelos.  The remainder of the party, giving a fresh ear to rumors, decided on their next course of action - they would return to the city of Molekh to claim their reward from Borgai Khan for finding the lance, and then turn their attention back to the Groaning Keep, eager to avenge themselves on the undead knights contained therein.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

WIP: The Bakarathi

So while waiting for the figures I need to finish off my "Men of the West"-style Dragon Rampant warband, I've started work on a third - "Warriors of the Dark Lord" is the theme, and is going to be a mix of evil humans, orc and goblin-types, and demonic types.  I really like Dragon Rampant's tone of "play up the stereotypes - let elves be archers, goblins be sneaky, etc.," and I'm treating this army especially as if it were an evil army out of a high fantasy novel or a D&D campaign. 

At the same time, over on the Dragon Rampant Facebook group, this quarter's contest is up and running, with the theme of "Reduced Model Unit." In the parlance of the game, this is a unit where there are fewer models than there are "Strength Points" in a unit, each model being treated as having multiple "wounds" and being thereby tougher than the average foot-slogging infantryman. 

I took this into account while drawing up my "Dark Lord" list and made sure I had a reduced model unit I could assemble and paint for the contest.  I decided on a reduced model unit of Bellicose Foot, a group of big scary goons with heavy weapons that could rush in and hit hard but lacked staying power.  And I recalled that Reaper Miniatures, in their back catalog, had a number of these lanky, skull-faced creeps called "Bakarathi." I have no idea what they're supposed to be - they don't correspond to anything I've ever seen in a D&D manual - but I always liked the "skinless baboon" look of them and decided to get myself a few.  I bought two each of three different Bakarathi, leaving the archer and spearman sculpts unpurchased.

Clean-up was pretty fast, though being older figures (there's a "'98" scratched into the bases of a couple of them, making them almost 20 years old) there was plenty of flash to trim away. 

With the weather getting colder, I used brush-on primer for these, and the paint-job just kind of perfectly fell into place.'

Skin  is basecoated black, drybrushed "Midnight Blue." Armor and weapons are black then "Tarnished Steel" followed by a wash of Citadel "Nuln Oil." Wood is basecoated "Shield Brown" and drybrushed "Driftwood Brown." Insides of the mouth are "Old West Rose" while the teeth were picked out in "Yellowed Bone" and "Creamy Ivory." Eyes are "Fire Orange," while hair was basecoated "Monarch Purple," given a heavy drybrush of "Royal Purple," then a final drybrush of "Pale Red Violet."

Two of them got Foundry shields (dug out of my bits box) glued to their bases to break up the empty space, and these were done in Tarnished Steel, "Pine Green" and "Leaf Green" and "Deep Red" and "Blood Red." Somehow I didn't think that would come out Christmasy.  A third (and this isn't pictured here) got a cut-down Bones skeleton glued to their base and painted. 

Just finishing the basing left to do and I can call these guys finished.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 16

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 4
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4
Jaeger, Human Fighter 4
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 4
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 4 (out for this session)
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 4
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4

Stormsday, the 16th of Rainmont.  

The PCs awaken to learn that following Kholark's victory over Bawss Hawg the previous night, the porcine behemoth was given a final keg of beer, washed down and shoved into a smoker.  He'll be ready to eat this evening, at two gold a plate.  They resolve to get a few plates that evening, along with the remainder of Dormammu's medication.

Firming up their plans for the day, they head to the castle to try and sell Lord Vesper on their plan to "bless" his chambers.  Instead, they find the castle in disarray, and their presence called for - Lady Erzebeta has disappeared at some point during the night, and appears to have taken all three of Vesper's children (his daughters Wanda and Julia from his first marriage, and his son by Erzebeta) with her.  Fearing that the rumors of Erzebeta being a sorceress are true, Vesper begs the PCs to find her - and asks to accompany them to help rescue his children.  

Searching Lady Erzebeta's chambers turned up a vial of powdered Devil's Foot Root, confirming her as the murderer of Lady Talia, two years prior.  Similarly, a wavy black dagger, seemingly dropped in haste, was found next to Wanda's bed.  

Cor cast Identify on the teleportation circle in the chimney (something Vesper had been unaware of) and determined the magic words to activate it.  Intoning the words, the group (minus Cor, who agreed to join a cordon surrounding the target site) jumped through, finding themselves on a stone platform with a fountain in the center of it, seemingly in the middle of a forest, with paths leading off to the north and south.  Closer examination, however, determined that the "sky" above was enchanted ceiling, and that this "forest" was in fact growing inside a building.  

"I know this place," Vesper said, "This is the house of Count Pavel.  It's stood empty for two years; he was a loyal retainer of mine, falling to a troll-thrown spear while fighting orcish marauders two years ago.  An empty house on the edge of town...this must be where the cult has been meeting. Tread cautiously; no doubt the bitch has summoned up things to defend from us."

As if on cue, a pair of shadowy, demonic shapes detached themselves from the darkened forest and attacked, their insubstantial claws tearing at the psyches of the PCs; every successful hit forcing them to recall painful childhood memories.  Kholark recalled being laughed at by the other children as they chanted "Fang face, fang face, fang face!" at him, and Sylvus relived his mother drunkenly telling him he was a mistake.  

In the heat of battle, Kholark's flail broke, the chain snapping and sending the ball flying, while Vesper accidentally threw his sword at one of the fiends.  

Handing off his flail to the barbarian, Mivahl summoned the Empyreal Vengeance, the magic lance they'd found in the dwarven crypts beneath New Dawn, which proved much more effective against the creatures.  As Mivahl drove the lance deep into the chest of one of the fiends, bloody skeletal hands erupted from the floor to drag it, struggling and screeching, down into the Abyss - confirming Mivahl's decision that he didn't really want to keep this weapon for himself.  Jaeger drew his flintlock pistol and fired, putting a lead slug through the head of the second demon, vaporizing it.  

Before they had a chance to catch their breath, a scream rang out.  "That's Wanda!" Vesper gasped. Jaeger leaped on to Sylvus (in Dire Wolf form)'s back and they took off running up the path, with Jaeger just barely throwing himself off before Sylvus impacted the giant oak double-doors the path terminated at.  Sylvus had hoped to go straight through the door, but it was too sturdy.

Throwing open the doors, the PCs were greeted with a nightmare scene, hellishly lit by two smoldering braziers; a once-proud chapel of the Unconquered Sun, now defaced with obscene murals, including one of a two-headed, baboon-faced fiend leering down; an altar on a raised dais, where Lady Erzebeta, naked save for a golden tiara, held a knife high, ready to plunge it into the heart of Wanda, bound naked on the altar, with Julia bound (and the baby in a basket) nearby.  Sir Dorian, commander of the Red Brotherhood, looked on gloatingly, while a pair of Brotherhood soldiers stood guard.  

Lasair loosed an arrow, hitting Erzebeta in the chest; the sorceress and the three sacrifices disappeared instantly, while Sir Dorian and his men smiled and drew their swords.

[DM's Note: Initially, Dormammu had declared that he was using Prestidigitation to extinguish the two braziers, plunging the opponents  - all human - into darkness.  We are retconing this because the braziers were not within range of the spell.]

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dragon Rampant Work in Progress

Slowly but surely, the painting continues, and can hopefully continue at a better clip.  The new apartment lacks a lot of the built-in lighting that our old apartment had, and with the shrinking hours of daylight associated with the winter months, I've been limited to only being able to paint when the sun is out.  Tonight I finally bought a desk lamp for the dining room table (aka my painting station) so I can paint even when the sun's down. 

So tonight I got a little work done; a team of five Reaper Bones wardogs (Lesser Warbeasts for my Men of the West Dragon Rampant army) were basically completed, save for flocking their bases.  I also put a coat of brush-on primer on a one-eyed Crusader Warlord from Gripping Beast (a free figure sent to me with an order of Teutonic Knights last year) to use as the wardogs' handler, and took care of his armor (basecoated black, followed by Reaper Tarnished Steel) and put a basecoat of Deep Red on his tunic, axe-grip, shield and cap. 

Likewise, I primed "Diva, the Blessed," a recent Reaper figure released to celebrate 25 years in business, and did her armor (Pure Black undercoat, then True Silver) and robes (Deep Red again). 

Hopefully tomorrow night I'll finish off the red on both of them (coat of Blood Red, highlight Phoenix Red, glaze Blood Red).

I've been really frustrated with the Reaper Bones figures lately; I've had a number recently where no matter how many times I boil and repose them, they revert to bent states, and where paint simply won't stick to the material, beading off.  Given my issues in the past, I won't be priming them, despite what (conflicting) advice may get handed out.  So the last unit of this army, a band of spearmen who will be accompanying Diva, won't be Reaper "Anhurians," but instead hard plastic Norman warriors from Conquest Games; I ordered a few sprues and if I like how they go together and look, I may ultimately end up replacing all my official Anhurian figures with Conquest Normans. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 15

The last paragraph of last week's write-up caused a bit of consternation among my players, who had missed Jaeger's player mentioning it to me as we'd packed up for the night.  This spawned a great deal of discussion over the course of the week, and my biggest take-away was that, with eight players at the table, A) I'm not always hearing everyone clearly and B) in-character and out-of-character speech at the table is not always being clearly defined, and comments made at the table are being taken as being in-character and acted upon when they were not meant as such.  So this week I instituted a simple rule - each player was issued a playing card.  When speaking out of character, the card must be held up and be visible.  Otherwise, whatever they said was to be taken as their character saying it.

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 4
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4 (out for this session)
Jaeger, Human Fighter 4
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 4
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 4
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 4
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4

Wiseday, the 15th of Rainmont.

Mivahl is stunned in the morning, waking up to Jaeger throwing his old unit badge at him.  "I can tell when I'm not wanted," Jaegar growled, "And this group doesn't want me." Mivahl called an emergency meeting of the group over breakfast at the Golden Boar.  Jaeger laid out why he felt unwanted, despite Mivahl having vouched for him, and the rest of the group explained their attitudes and reasonings.  A lot of air was cleared, Jaeger was welcomed as a member of the adventuring party without reservations, and to celebrate the former bounty hunter bought the group breakfast. 

The party spent the day in preparation - Cor, to read the strange enchanted scrolls found in the dwarven tomb beneath New Dawn once the full moon rose and revealed their concealed text; Kholark, to wrestle the porcine behemoth known as Bawss Hawg behind the Drunkatorium; Jaeger purchased the tools and materials necessary to assemble a breaching charge of the sort he and Mivahl used to use in blowing open wizard hide-outs; and Lasair drew up plans to meet with Ariska, the Red Witch, that evening at the Drunkatorium. 

That night, Kholark threw his gold piece in the bucket and took his shirt off, downing three beers and allowing the dwarven barmaids to slather him in grease to wrestle Bawss Hawg.  Hawg, likewise, was fed a pony keg's worth of ale and greased up.  Wading into the sty with a bellowing call upon the strength of Bormo, Kholark slammed into the giant pig, grappling the greased grunter.  The sinews standing out on Kholark's arms like steel cables, he heaved the half-ton hog over his head and slammed the mighty beast down into the mud and filth, throwing himself atop it.  Holding the squealing monster down in its own semi-liquid waste, Kholark strained to keep Bawss Hawg pinned.  A count of five was announced, and Kholark stood victorious. 

When Kholark seized the bucket of gold that was his due, the bartender yelled, "Wait just a minute!" and hauled up two additional buckets - three years' worth of entry fees from contenders who had tried and failed.  Kholark had won 376 gold pieces, while the party members who had bet upon his victory each walked away with 200 gold. 

As the moon rose, Cor unfurled the scrolls, watching with glee as the silvery runic script unveiled itself under the moon's rays.  One scroll revealed a map, a section of the Worldsfang Mountains, far to the north, an X marking "The City of the First Masons, Where Fell the Hammers of the Gods."

The second scroll revealed a dire warning from Magister Eckhardt, the dwarf whose tomb had contained the scrolls:

May the gods have mercy on me in my weakness, that I feared to burn this map and the information it contains.  Long have I pondered whether to destroy the information within or to release it to the world.  In my weakness I have done neither, allowing indecision to rule.  I am the last of my clan; when I am gone, perhaps this damning sheet of vellum will go with me.  Let none seek what the map shows; let that first, hateful secret of the dwarves be left buried for all eternity. 

Cor's eyes lit up.  This sounded like treasure!

Meanwhile, in the Drunkatorium, Flora received a letter from Ariska, asking her to come - alone - to the back room.  There, Ariska beckoned Flora be seated after closing the door behind her.  "I am fat, drunk and old," Ariska said, throwing back her hood to reveal a heavyset human woman, her hair still mostly coppery, in her mid-50s.  "I'm neither blind, nor stupid, though I suspect your companions may mistake me for such.  They could have tried to keep their story straight from bar to bar."

Ariska explained to Flora that Talia, Vesper's first wife, was no simple case of illness; she'd come to realize - too late - that Talia was being repeatedly dosed with an extremely rare poison - Devil's Foot Root - likely in the form of fumes off a burning source.  She suspects Erzebeta, Vesper's current wife, as the poisoner, but confessed she's unsure how involved Vesper was in the plot - he was away, fighting orcs, when Talia fell ill.  According to Ariska, whatever the cult or coven operating around Craghold was, it had corrupted the psyche of the region; the bizarrely aggressive dogs and wolves were a symptom of this corruption. 

Welcoming the aid of the party in addressing this threat, Ariska gave Flora a polished oval of quartz, explaining that it was an Elemental Gem of Air; breaking it would release an Air Elemental that would serve her for one minute. She also gave her the first dose of a potion that would help with Dormammu's veneral disease; he would need to take a dose a day, for a full week, to clear up his problem, and she'd bring the remaining doses with her to the Golden Boar tomorrow. 

Returning to the Golden Boar (and with Mivahl asking Lasair to join him for a moonlit scroll later), the party went over what they knew and planned their next move.  It was proposed returning to the Whore's Arse to try and get some information out of Borut, the castle bailiff, since the party - especially Kholark - already had a good rapport with him.  Lasair was annoyed that Mivahl was welching on their walk to return to the Whore's Arse with Kholark, and took her annoyance out on Dormammu, who was trying to talk up a barmaid, informing her of Dormammu's unfortunate disease and ordering him back to his room. 

At the Whore's Arse, Kholark, Mivahl, Cor and Jaeger sat down with drinks with Borut.  Asking him about the Sheriff, Edras, Borut declared his boss a good man who was doing a hard job to the best of his abilities and ran a tight ship.  Seeing a nearby guardsman puking, the party proposed carrying the man back to the barracks to sober up.  Borut, deep in his cups, agreed.

At the barracks, Jaeger perused a series of maps of guard patrol routes and various written orders, finding everything above board.  On their way back to the Golden Boar, Mivahl picked a flower, hoping it would in some measure make up for standing up Lasair. 

Reassembled, the party came up with a plan.  Under the guise of concern for Lord Vesper's health and safety, Flora would "bless" the lord's chambers, and Lasair would check on the well-being of his daughters.  They would use this opportunity to further investigate the teleportation circle and see if they could at least copy the runes for translation, to see if they could figure out where it went.  They considered trying to activate it, but feared where it might take them. 

A plan in place, the party retired for the night.