Thursday, 19 April 2018

Ravenloft II

Session 2: Angels and Demons (18th April 2018)

The Party
Bernard – Human Cleric
Grumbold – Dwarf Paladin
Malfeseus – Elf Rogue
Meegosh – Gnome Wizard
Millie – Half-Orc Barbarian

Wraith - possibly copyrighted, from the internet - owner please contact me if you do not feel my use of it is fair
From the Diary of Meegosh Krackle

The Tower of the Paragons (Day 1 - addendum)

In my haste to record our amazing adventures last time I took out my diary, I missed a few items. Nothing important I should warrant but none-the-less I shall summarise the points here…

It was actually some chappie called Sir Gareth Puresword who put the kibosh on the dark lord; the priests were only brought in to purify the land – they don’t seem to have done a very good job in my opinion. The witches managed to scrape together the entrails of the dark lord and scatter them for burial throughout the land, perhaps in the vain hope they could bring him back from his remains? Bunkum and fairy stories as far as I can tell, no logic to it whatsoever. Still, I guess our intrepid band will become involved in some quest later on to find all these gribbly bits to stop the return of the dark lord. If I found them, I would probably just incinerate them and be done with it. Anyway, back to the tale...

We appeared on another plaque in another room, presumably one floor up from the level we had just left. Unfortunately, there was no way of knowing as the walls, floors and ceilings were all made of stone and there were no windows or arrow slits for us to look out of to gauge our whereabouts. What appeared to be a library was in a sorry state of affairs; tables and chairs overturned, books spilt from the shelves and a sense of damp, mould and decay prevailed. Grumbold and I set about righting a few items but to no avail as that great bear, Gur, proceeded to trash a table or two in his wild perambulations.

I managed to find an eerily intriguing book entitled “Ravenloft: Demi-Plane of Dread” and sat down to discover its contents. Whilst reading said tome, the others continued to stir about in the detritus and throw books at each other. I am not one for such sacrilege, but each to their own I suppose. I was happy to indulge their whims but being bonked on the back of the head with a heavy book is not my idea of fun. It was only then that I realised we were not alone. A strange ghostly apparition seemed to flit around the room for a while before returning to its lair within the walls.

Once we had discovered there was not much else to this room we tried to trip another of those plaques to move onwards but it seemed that only our dwarf companion could do so – was it because he tripped the first one and subsequently only he could do so again or, after a little study of the plaque, was it due to the divine code he followed?

The third level of the tower was a little better kept; dusty and musty yes, but there was still no sign of the tapestry we had been tasked to find. Malfeseus and I managed to espy a casket that would require further study but we were rudely interrupted by the appearance of four gaseous forms. The party sprang in to action but it appeared that most of their blows were either non-effective or only caused a minor irritation to the beings. Even our goodly cleric’s admonitions seemed not to have any effect. Once again it was down to poor little Meegosh to rescue them. A few lightning bolts and a very brave, and might I say insightful, move lured some of them away to split the apparitions between levels. My bouncing between the two levels of the tower was just enough to give the others a chance to finish off what I had started. It also gave Malfeseus and me the opportunity to investigate the casket (nothing of interest in it unfortunately) and get to know each other better.

After all that action, many of us had taken a few injuries. Where these corporeal beings touched us, our flesh turned necrotic; not nice. I decided to keep us all safe and conjured up my little magical safe place (a small magical hut) so that we could rest and recover from our ordeals. We all managed to grab a bit of sleep and heal up but our dreams were troubled. Grumbold seemed more affected than the rest of us; he no longer took to grumbling about our shortcomings and seemed a little more introverted. This was by no means a bad thing from my point of view. He can be such a sanctimonious grump sometimes: but I am beginning to like him all the more for it nevertheless.

Tower of Paragons (Day 2)

After our rest we pushed on to the next level. Again, the plate required Grumbold to activate it. We appeared in what seemed to be a man’s bedroom. The place was dusty and musty smelling and as there was no other plaque on the floor to another level assumed this was our final destination. We all set about looking for clues to the missing tapestry and the tower’s guardian angel (I forgot to mention that this place was supposed to be guarded by an angelic being but from what I had seen so far that is a most absurd notion – what angel would suffer a wraith to live?). Malfeseus called to our attention that the tapestry was most likely the one hung above the great four-poster bed that dominated the room; the four-poster bed that had an angelic occupant who, when we looked at him, began to rise.

Well, I for one was not taken in by the ruse. As we looked at this so-called angelic being, all the goodness dripped away from it to reveal some kind of fallen angel. Grumbold and Millie charged straight in to deal with the demon, and I fired off a lightning bolt to see what that would do. The demon soon recognised its mortal foe and proceeded to hunt me down. It slashed me with its great sword and followed me to the Ethereal plane just to get at its true enemy. Now, I am not embarrassed to say I was rather scared and the sight of all that blood (my own) made me completely faint away.

Bernard, our cleric, managed to conjure up some magic that brought me out of my daze so I could get up and finish off the diabolic being. The final straw was Bernard throwing a book at it - the being whimpered and collapsed in upon itself, leaving just a cloak and an amulet behind.

We gathered up what treasures we could find and returned to Carlian’s abode. We recounted our tale over some rather tasty roasted rodents (at least I hope they were) and I used my powers of divination to work out that the amulet would be a most welcome asset for our resident priest as it would improve his healing abilities. Carlian also did some divination of his own and mentioned two persons who had arrived on this plane just before we did; a certain Hammerstein and his accomplice lord Frack.

We still had most of what passes for a day on this plane ahead of us, so we headed on towards the next location of our quest; the town of Pureforge, located on the moorlands to the north. We managed to cover a great distance before we set up camp for the night in my little magical hut. Again, our dreams were fraught with impure deeds but we all managed to get fully rested except for our trusty paladin Grumbold.

Onto Pureforge (Day 3)

After another fitful night, Grumbold was reduced to a stumble. He just could not keep up with the rest of the party; so much for the stamina of dwarfs eh? Every now and then Millie plonked him onto Gur to rest whilst we trudged onwards. Unfortunately we could only cover half the distance of the previous day before I needed to set up camp again.

It was during Grumbold’s watch that things began to happen again…

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Ravenloft I

Session 1: Arrival in Ravenloft (4th April 2018)

The Party

Meegosh Krackle – Gnome Wizard
Millie – Half-Orc Barbarian
Bernardt – Human Cleric
Mephesus – Half-Elf Rogue
Grumbold – Dwarf Paladin

From the Diary of Meegosh Krackle

Arrival in Ravenloft (Day 1 of my travels in the Plane of Dread)

I am not sure what happened today. One moment I am sitting in the tavern minding my own business, and then, whoosh, I am lying on what I can only describe as a beach without an ocean being sick to my stomach. And, I was not the only one...

Within a short distance of me, were several other beings in various states of unease; a dwarf clad in the most heaviest of armour, a human who belonged to some cult or other, a female half-orc warrior queen and another being whom I can only describe as some kind of shady elf fellow. They all seemed rather friendly considering the situation; I guess adversity brings out the best in us, especially if everyone is in the same boat and up the creek without a paddle.

Anyway, after a few moments the mists parted (did I not mention the fog that surrounded us? Ebbing and flowing like the ocean, often revealing and then concealing what surrounded us) to reveal a fellow who introduced himself as Carlian (?). He just mentioned to meet him, when we were ready, at a large building on top of a hill he pointed to that the mists parted to reveal rather conveniently.

Not long after Carlian departed we began to hear shouts and screams from within the surrounding mists. A human woman, out of breath and obviously in extreme fear, came hurtling towards us. A few of the party (this is how I shall name this rag-tag bunch of misfits for now) on the beach tried to calm her but to no avail; apart from the fact that no-one could understand a word she was saying. Then, from out of the gloom, twang – thud, a rather ill-shot arrow plopped into the ground nearby. Another human female could be seen on a small incline not thirty yards away taking pot shots at presumably the woman who had just arrived. Millie, the half-orc, bounded up the hill and in a trice had her incapacitated and trussed up under her arm. She then popped back to us with a smile on her face at a job well done.

Now I am not one known for making up stories but what happened next was rather alarming. The human lady that was being chased began to scream in agony as parts of some being from another dimension began to erupt from within her. Before we could draw breath, we were faced with some terror from beyond. The dwarf, Grumbold somebody or other (I mean to find out their names eventually), strode up to it and began to trade blows but it looked from the outset he was not up to the task. I conjured up a few of my little parlour tricks and reduced the demonic apparition to a pile of limbs (with maybe a little help from a couple of the others who kindly distracted it whilst I issued the magical coup de grace).

Just as everyone began to recover from the surprise of this demon beastie and the aftermath of its destruction we heard many more noises issuing from the fog. Luckily, this time, the human lady, Annabella, and an accompanying bear, Gur, who arrived were known to some members of the party. I must say, I found her rather distracting in a peculiar way. I can’t put my finger on it, but she acts very strangely and no-one seems to really want her around.

After making a few introductions and so forth we headed up to the place that Carlian suggested we meet him. It looked like some kind of old temple; rather run down and dilapidated but it seemed sound enough structurally. What was weird though, as we crossed the threshold of the gate/fence boundary, rather than the usual sparse growth of tough grasses on the arrival area there was a comparatively lush kitchen garden that contained some jolly nice looking vegetables if I am to judge.

We cautiously made our way into the old building and introduced ourselves to Carlian. It was only now that we realised that he was totally blind. We moved into his abode and huddled by the fire whilst he told us his tale of woe. It seems that there was once this dark lord, Kargo Rah or some such, who died. Karlian mentioned that he belonged to some ancient order that destroyed said dark lord but all of his fellow masters gradually turned to evil or left the place. There was mention of some hut on legs inhabited by a witch that moved about on a nearby lake. Then he mentioned something to do with women and witches taking over and needing to be stopped. To be quite honest, I was more interested in a small ivory box and the mouldy tomes in the bookshelves around the walls.

Anyway, cut a long story short, he only wanted us to go and grab some mouldy old tapestry depicting some ancient gods from a tower of paragons an hour away and bring it back to him. As that seemed nice and easy, we all agreed to set off right away as we still had a few more hours of what passed for daylight in this realm.

After an uneventful journey, we approached the doorway to the tower only to have the ground beneath our feet literally erupt with vermin. Rats the size of trolls attacked my companions and me. As each was dispatched, two more took its place. The warriors in our group were hard pushed until I began to use my lowly cantrips to make light work of the monsters.

The door to the tower opened relatively easily and once inside we began to explore. It was a strange set up within the walls. There were no stairs that led upwards to higher levels. Luckily Annabella managed to suss that there was an illusion that blocked sight of another corridor. I would have found it but as I would not use such a simple trick to conceal a doorway I had my attention elsewhere.

The corridor led to a dead end but about halfway along there was a metal plaque on the floor. It took us but a few moments to figure out that we needed to touch the metal of the device with our bare hands to activate it and it whizzed us off one by one to another place once fully activated.

Friday, 30 March 2018


A new D&D 5e campaign - Ravenloft

After a long hiatus from gaming in general, I am slowly getting my act together and becoming involved in my hobby a bit more.

Out of the blue, a few weeks back, I got an invite from my old RP Haven gaming buddy RM. He asked me whether I wanted to play in a new D&D 5e Ravenloft campaign due to start at the beginning of April. As my life is slowly coming back together again after a couple of really horrendous years I jumped at the chance.

RM put me in touch with the DM, who outlined what was required characterwise, and I duly conjured into life Meegosh Krackle - Gnome Wizard extraordinaire. JD, the DM, mentioned that he had managed to get hold of a little gnome figurine, so Meegosh will come alive on the tabletop too. The game will start with all characters at 5th level, so I am expecting a reasonably tough campaign. I cannot wait to get started.

What with my son's interest in the GW side of things (Bloodbowl and Warhammer fantasy), my latest purchase of Adventures in Middle-Earth, and now some 5th edition D&D, I can truly say that my interest in gaming is coming back again. I have started reading gaming blogs again and now want to get some painting done, but I need to make sure my eyes are up to the job - I have yet to try out those new glasses I got last year specifically for painting.

I have just had a week off work (enforced due to having worked over my 55 day quota for the last quarter), so I used some of that time to sort out loads of minis that I began painting last year. Now I just need to sort out some paints - one of my cats had the audacity to pee all over my gaming stuff last year and I had to throw away dozens of paints, brushes, scenery items and even a few miniatures due to the overbearing stench of ammonia. Even after several washes, a good soaking, bleaching and so on, the smell just would not fade; the only place they could go was the bin. Unfortunately a lot of the colours I used on my Gondor, Rohan and Easterling miniatures last year are not replaceable since GW changed their paint ranges. Not sure what to do here - do I try to hunt down pots of the old paint range in hobby shops, find out if anyone stocks them under a differemnt banner or try to find a nearest match?

Hopefully the blog will get a little more love over the coming months and I can finally get some of those Lord of the Rings miniatures painted ready for the gaming table and their first actual game (Dragon Rampant, Battle Companies, Adventures in Middle Earth).

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Blood Bowl and other stuff

Blood Bowl

Over the last couple of months, my youngest son (now aged 9) has really got into gaming in a big way. He had been watching numerous YouTube videos and then he asked me for some figures. I bought him a stack of second hand Lord of the Rings minis but these weren't quite what he wanted. So, for Christmas last year and his birthday this year he was bought a load of Games Workshop miniatures (after he had purloined my Night Goblins). The boxes he has got so far are as follows:

  • Box of Night Goblins
  • 4 Ogre Leadbelchers (second hand)
  • 8 Gnoblars (second hand)
  • 8 Snotlings (second hand)
  • 4 boxes of 3 Chaos Warriors
  • Box of Age of Sigmar Chaos Warriors
  • Box of Age of Sigmar Forest Goblin Spider Riders
  • Box of Ogre Warriors
All of these have been de-sprued and glued up except for the last box of Ogre Warriors - due to his age, I will not let him near a pair of side cutters and glue, so I have done this for him. I am due to make the Ogres for him sometime later this week.

Anyway, whilst his interest has grown in "The Games Workshop Hobby" he has diversified his interests a bit whilst waiting for the weather to turn so we can get in the garden to undercoat his Warhammer miniatures. He has now got into Bloodbowl. He had saved up his Christmas money, birthday money and pocket money to buy himself the boxed game - he is determined in his goal if nothing else, as the box set cost him £65!

I broke open the very heavy box a week or so back when he brought it back from his mum's and took a look at what was on offer. Inside the box you get...
  • A rule book
  • A double-sided pitch (one side human the other orc)
  • 2 quick play sheets
  • 5 sprues of plastic figures and gaming aids (ruler, markers, line out grid and scatter grid)
  • 2 dugout cards
  • 2 sets of dice (one for each team)
  • A pack of cards
I started reading the rules the other day but my son managed to get a quick play session in at the GW store closest to his mum's. He also got in a painting session and an Age of Sigmar overview too, along with several more sessions lined up in a children's loyalty scheme GW do called Crusader (I think).

Anyway, whilst I struggled to find time to read the rulebook, he just dived straight in and made up his own game based on the run through he had at GW. He is loving it and is constantly telling me the scores of each match he runs (every day after I pick him up from the childminder).

I am not a great fan of GW's canon (except Lord of the Rings and a little bit of Warhammer Ancient Battles back in the day) but I have to take my hat off to their customer service and support. My wife is not a great fan of gaming full-stop, but even she got involved on one of the trips to GW and painted a Space Marine - she actually admitted to enjoying it!

Back to Bloodbowl though - I am hoping to get the rules sorted and get a game played in the next week or two with my son, and we may get a league going with his older brother too - the girls aren't interested at all. I have been out of gaming for a while due to lots of personal circumstances mentioned in previous posts, and this may just prove the catalyst (along with a new D&D 5e Ravenloft campaign I am due to start in next week) to get me going again with my miniature gaming.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Adventures in Middle Earth

Adventures in Middle Earth - RPG

Over the years I have put together a list of blogs I frequently read. I was perusing through my list of preferred blogs the other day when I came across one in particular that keeps me up to date with what is going on in the world of Dungeons and Dragons - Bat in the Attic. What got me interested this time though were a couple of blog posts about a new roleplaying game (for me anyway) called Adventures in Middle Earth by Cubicle 7 Entertainment. I had never heard of this company before but apparently they are famous for their Middle Earth roleplaying game; The One Ring. It seems that Cubicle 7 have managed to grab hold of the 5e OGL (Open Gaming License) and are now busy converting the wealth of material available for The One Ring into the new 5e D&D format.

As a sucker for all things Middle Earth I went straight out (well linked to their webstore) and bought a few items to get me started; the Players' Guide, the Loremaster's Guide, an adventure pack and a Loremaster's Screen (which also has a beginners adventure).

I have only really read the Player's Guide so far but it seems that the world they are wishing to convey is heavily influenced by Tolkien's books but with the choice (with a little Loremaster input) to set it in any type of Middle Earth the playing group desires - so you can make your vision of Middle Earth with as much or as little magic as you require, or even set it in Peter Jackson's film version.

I have only just begun to read the Loremaster's Guide, so cannot really say much about it yet. My one take-away from a quick skip through is that it is also a very well put together manual, conveying a conscious effort by the publisher to bring a quality product to the market. I wll try to get through this book over next week and and then take a quick peek at the adventure modules.

The setting for these books (from what I have read so far) is in what they call the Widlerlands - an area that encompasses basically from the Misty Mountains eastward to Rhun. At the moment they do not cover the Shire, Gondor or Rohan to name a few but the playing area is not limited by any means as adventuring can take place in dungeons deep and caverns old, the Lonely Mountain, Mirkwood, Dale etc.

Period wise, the setting is just after (approximately five years) the defeat of the goblins, wolves and bats at the Battle of the Five Armies and the fall of Smaug. Dale and Erebor have been rebuilt/recolonised and wealth is flowing from this area prompting the adventurous sort to get off their comfy couches, put on their walking boots and head out into the Wilderlands to help expand King Bard's benign hegemony.

As an aside, but relevant to this topic, one of my gaming buddies from the RP Haven contacted me a few days ago about getting involved in a D&D 5e game set in Ravenloft. Whilst we chatted about the game I mentioned Adventures in Middle Earth and he replied that the gaming group were looking at maybe delving into that arena after the 5e campaign closed. As RM is down as a temporary DM for a while if the current DM needs a break, I said that I would look into running a brief AiME 5e adventure when our Ravenloft adventures come to an end.

It looks like gaming may be picking up again for me after a few years in my own wilderlands (lots of personal stuff has happened in the last two years, of which only a fraction has been mentioned in previous posts - hence the lack of posts for quite a while, but hopefully that will be changing soon).

Anyway, back to my purchases. From what I have read so far, I am happy with the books. They are lavishly presented and even if I never get to use them, they have so far been a great source of information about the Middle Earth period in question. I daresay that I will pick up more of their adventure and location supplements as they are released (I am already a few behind, so once these ones have been read, I will undoubtedly purchase more of those that are currently available). If rumours are true, they will eventually be expanding (once they convert their One Ring stuff to 5e) from the Wilderlands setting into more familiar territories over time, so my favourite realm of Rohan may be given the special treatment.

Me finding the Bat in the Attic posts was quite serendipitous as I was just at the point of sorting out my GW LotR: SBG figures again. I have got the Gondor troops out of hiding and I am looking at what needs doing to complete a few squads of Warriors of Minas Tirith. My new house has a huge south facing bedroom window, that lets in plenty of light. Today I have just moved an old desk into the room as my painting station so, hopefully, I will be able to sort out my miniatures into their rightful armies and get prepped for a summer of painting.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Battle Companies II

Well, it seems, after several store visits and phone calls to GW, that Battle Companies is a direct only product. So, I decided to order up the book on the web store and get it delivered to my local store - saves a couple of quid on postage and as I need to pop up to the Broadway to do some other stuff soon anyway fits in well with my plans.

The book took one day to be "in process" and then be despatched. It took around 3 or 4 days for it to arrive in my local shop. I was not impressed with the local staff as I called on several occasions after I got the despatched notification - the first call it was not in and I was asked to call back two days later. I did so only to be told that it may be with the post at the shop keep's house! He checked it out during one of his breaks and confirmed it was there. I popped up and collected the book later that afternoon. Talk about right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing - these one-man operations don't seem to cut it in my opinion.

Anyway, onto the book itself. It is beautifully presented with plenty of eye candy on offer. It is a hard-cover tome, so should prove nice and hard wearing. There are 14 pages of actual rules - the main rules are obviously going to be those from one of the main rule books that are already out there; so you will need an additional (the main) rule book in order to be able to play Battle Companies. To be fair, this is mentioned on the back of the book, so no confusion allowed. A good point is that it mentions the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Games rules manual - things are moving forward with this franchise.

The main rules are then followed up with the actual Battle Company descriptions split between good and evil factions; for the good side there are 5 companies for men, 3 for the Elven lords, 2 for the Dwarf realms and one for the Shire. For the evil side there are also 11 companies that can be used to represent the majority of forces you may wish to represent from both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. There are promises within the tome to say that more will be forthcoming but may be presented in either a future supplement or within the pages of White Dwarf.

Next up are a bunch of scenarios (12 in all), with a nice little section presenting some one-off rules for particular locations if you wish to fight your battles all in one locale, Lake-Town for instance. These are an interesting addition to the basic rules and will add to the fun when played. The scenario section is completed by a new narrative style campaign/scenario - set in Arnor.

The next section, more to use up page space methinks than to add anything to the rules, contains some representative battle companies created and played with (presumably) by members of the GW staff. I must admit they do look good and give one something to strive towards; the back stories/recollections certainly make the companies feel like real forces of troops that grew organically rather than at the whim of a points jockey's calculations.

Finally, a short missive tells one how to utilise one's Battle Company in a main stream LotR:SBG game - some nice rules in here.

Overall, I am so glad that these rules have been given the time of day and released to whet our appetites for the main course which should be out sometime in the first half of next year. That said, I do wonder what will happen to the unofficial supplement doing the rounds on the internet...

A big shout out must go to the authors of this excellent supplement - a lot of time, effort and skill went into creating what we all wanted after GW stopped supporting the idea. Hopefully, the people involved were/will be contacted by GW for some input and maybe a new supplement with some of the Battle Companies within this PDF will see the light of day again. Perhaps even some of the minor rules alterations can be incorporated too?

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Battle Companies

On the gaming side of things, I have renewed my interests in the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Games with the advent of the new Battle Companies rules.

Unfortunately, I have visited three Games Workshop stores and drawn a blank so far; The flagship Warhammer store in Tottenham Court Road only sells their Warhammer ranges - so I can forgive them not stocking it, but my two local stores have both been closed when I got there even though their opening times were advertised on the website and on the shop doors! I am not amused as both times it cost me a lot of time and effort to go out of my way to personally pick up the product (and I was aiming to grab some hobby related goods too).

Recently, my youngest son, 8 years old, decided he would rather play with figures than Lego now. This is without any prompting from me. He noticed an old 2008 GW catalogue lying around and picked it up for a read. This then led him to asking me what I was going to do with a box of Night Goblins I have had lying around for many years. I said I would make them up for him and he could play with them if he wished. Next thing I know, a small parcel came through from an eBay purchase - he had asked his mum for a few items when he visited her and a little later he received some Snotlings. Not to be outdone, I grabbed him some second hand Ogres and Gnoblars at a show I recently attended. Finally, he was able to get hold of a couple of boxes of Warriors of Chaos (3 in each box) to make his little army a decent size to play with.

The other day I popped into the kitchen/study area to find him with my dice out on the table running a battle with rules he had made up himself - even down to using the direction die to see where the ogre cannons and goblin arrows flew. He was rolling to see how far they moved, to resolve combat and even took account of casualties on multi-based units.

He has a load of old LotR miniatures that I bought for him off eBay a few years back, and he has also got those out to fight against his ogres and goblins etc. He is getting more gaming in than I am these days! I will see if I can get some photos of one of his games in progress soon, and some idea on the rules he uses.

This winter holiday I will be gluing up as many miniatures as I can in readiness for a spring undercoating offensive. Then, when the light improves more (I had a serious issue with my eyes recently that has not really got much better - it is not sight-threatening but the reduced level of vision I have will not get any better) I will get some painting done both for him and for me. I am going to enjoy teaching him how to paint, and hopefully his older brother can help out too?