Monday, January 31, 2011

Northern Reaches: Session 9

We had a relatively short session, but a memorable one nonetheless.

Here's the report on the Red Box Niagara Wiki:

Session 9

We play again tonight so expect another report soon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Don't know if you have seen this yet, it's the trailer for a film called Marwencol. Those of you who enjoy miniatures will appreciate this. Particularlly you WWII buffs.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No More WotC Plastic Minis

I guess I'm late to the party, but I just read an announcement over at The Weirdlands of Xhuul that WotC has cancelled their line of pre-painted plastic minis.

I have mixed feelings about this.

Most of the minis looked ridiculous and were unusable in an old-school game. However, I did accumulate a fair number of them over time, specifically those that held same understated-not-heroic aesthetic of my game.

In hindsight, I'm glad I returned to painting my own miniatures, especially covering all may bases with the OW monsterous humanoids.

So, many of the WotC minis I couldn't use, but I am sad to see them go.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Praise of Stonehell

*Warning: Minor spoilers*

I recently finished reading Michael Curtis' Stonehell.

My intent here is not to provide a full review, that has been done elsewhere and in a more timely fashion than this blog post. I don't have much time for casual reading, but Stonehell does require comment.

Stonehell is an excellent megadungeon game that would keep you and your players going for years. The author used the one-page dungeon format, which I really like because it makes DM prep fairly easy. I like to look at everything at a glance without flipping many pages. Statistics for your run-of-the mill monsters aren't provided, you'll need to dig those up in anticipation of playing [EDIT: Basic statistics are provided at the beginning of each level, but you'll need more detail to run the monsters]. Also, unless I missed it, you'll need to determine XP for some of the Stonehell-specific monsters as well. It would be nice if that was provided in Stonehell Book II.

The title of Stonehell is very clever. I can imagine my own players saying "We're going straight to hell!" or somesuch. In addition to being clever, the author is creative and writes very well. He provides the information DMs need and then moves on. That's to be applauded.

Each section of the dungeon has its own vibe and atmosphere. This will no doubt make for interesting gaming - sameness in a dungeon this big can get boring. However, the one-page format comes at a cost. I believe James at Grognardia noted the limitations of the format for a megadungeon - I now understand what he was referencing and agree. An alternative would be to create maps the size you want, but use the shortened entry style of the one-pagers.

I really like the traps and tricks in Stonehell. I also like, how on every level, the author has at least one dead adventurer to signal darkness and danger (something I like in my own work and rememeber from the TSR adventures).

The modular construction of this dungeon would allow you to drop sections if you so desired. Kobold Korners, or example, reminds me of the Troll Market from Hellboy. It doesn't suit my taste and makes the dungeon seem too vibrant and full-of activity. Again, that's just personal preference. The author makes it clear to steer Stonehell in a direction that makes it work for your group. Cool.

I admire the author for creating Stonehell and the amount of work devoted to it - I'd wager somewhere between a MA thesis and a PhD dissertation. He is to be commended.

In short, Stonehell is a fun and exciting adventure. I encourage you to pick up a copy. I'm looking forward to Stonehell Book II.

(As an aside, I recently went over 100 posts on the blog. Who knew!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Orc with a Spear is Enough

I've been reading on various blogs lately some angst about the OSR should be doing this or the OSR should be doing that. Why don't we have a clone of this game or why don't we have a clone or that game? Things are "getting stale" kinds of comments.

Here's my 2cp.

For me, an orc with a spear is enough.

I'm not talking a space orc with a fricken lazer-beam attached to its head wearing an amazing technicolour dream-cloak.

I'm talking a painfully, painfully, mundane, run-of-the-mill, standard-definition, orc with a spear.

It may not be enough for some, and that's ok, but it's fine for me.

I find the idea of an orc with a spear fascinating.

What's he doing there? Is he guarding something? Can I sneak past him?

Like the idea of the dungeon-crawl, the orc with a spear is timeless and never gets old.

(I know the pic looks more goblin-y, but you get the idea :))

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Otherworld Miniatures: Painted Gnolls and OW Announcement

I finally managed to paint my Otherworld Gnolls. WooHoo!

As you know, over the last year I've been working through the monsterous humanoids in the Otherworld range with specific reference to the descriptions in the definitive AD&D Monster Manual.

For gnolls, the description reads:

"There is a great resemblance between gnolls and hyenas. Gnolls have greenish gray skins, darker near the muzzle, with reddish gray to dull yellow mane. Eyes are dull black and nails are amber colored. Their armor is of horn, metal plates, and leather; like their fur capes and vests, it is shabby, and the latter are moth-eaten ond dingy, being brown, black or grayish pelts. Gnolls have short life spans - 35 years being average."

My interpretation from this is that 1) gnolls resemble hyenas, but 2) their colours are different than hyenas - particularly the greenish-grey skins (but with the exception of the yellow mane).

Now, this sucks because I really didn't feel that I could pull off a good green-grey skin colour. So I decided to comprimse to ensure the figures looked half-decent.

I went with a dark yellow for the skin colour (this was easier to paint, and connects more closely to the hyena motif), dark grey for the mouth, hands, and feet, and a dark reddish for the hair.

I have the gnoll chief half-done. I'll post him in the coming weeks, along with some more pig-faced orcs, if I can.

Click twice to embiggen:

Finally, Otherworld Miniatures have another voucher sale going on until the end of January 2011. Be sure to check it out and support a first rate business making old school miniatures!