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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Paint Table

Today I am rebasing an elderly army of Heroics and Ros 5mm ACW Confederates for a 6mm Longstreet campaign starting soon at Endgame. No picture as I did not paint the figures originally and they aren't that visually interesting. They were bargain convention flea market figures about 20 years ago. I settled on using some leftover Terraclips scenery cardboard sprue as the basing material, with a quick spray of Testor's Olive Drab before gluing on the smaller stands. They were originally based on SPI WWII game counters & half-cut counters, by whoever sold them to me. The double layering of old and new bases should make up some for them being shorter than the later figures others will have.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Undead and Cremation

So, why do so many fantasy RPG worlds and their descendants among paper and computer RPGs have huge cemeteries and crypt complexes when all the bodies just keep clawing awake as zombies and skeletons in huge numbers salted by assorted nastier undead monsters? Why don't these societies just take up cremation of the remains and prevent getting overrun by slavering hordes of ancestors? Are they peculiarly stupid?

It could be that the whole undead thing is a new phenomenon, the whole basis of the typical zombie apocalypse movie genre where either the dead rise or the living get infected, die, and stand back up the next day hungry for brains.

But a lot of game worlds have undead as a long term thing in the background. These places have been haunted by the cursed minions of necromancers and liches forever.

My current thought is that cremation does not prevent the rising of the dead, it makes the situation worse.
Instead of hordes of mainly manageable zombies and skeletons, you get more incorporeal undead if the culture cremates the dead. This could be garden variety spectres and wraiths, nasty enough to dissuade you. Or maybe its worth introducing some new undead to a campaign that includes this as a world premise. So far I just have a name, and a flavor for them in mind, not stats and mechanics. Maybe describing an encounter will sort it out...

The Ashen
In a place afflicted by the curse of undead rising, the Ashen are what you get when the ashes of the cremated rising instead of corpses or bones. That pile of ashes your doughty barbarian is dragging through with his dagger, looking for hidden gold? Yeah, they swirl up in a whirlwind, and coalesce in the air into a malevolent shadowy form with glowing eyes that reach out and strangle him, as gouts of ash flow into his eyes, blinding, his mouth, choking, and nostrils, asphyxiating. His mighty blade, swung in blind panic, cleaves the being again and again, but it reforms immediately. Another rises and confronts the wizard. A couple of syllables into his first spell, and he has to stop, as the first ash into his throat has him coughing and gagging, and he has to close his mouth tight against it and run for all he's worth, hoping to get away before his held breath runs out. The dwarf quickly ducks through an open door, and spikes it behind him, unfortunately its into a dead end room and there's ash flowing in through the cracks beneath the door and around the edges. He doesn't have long to come up with a new plan before the one that flows in will attack.

Just writing that out as the scenario came starts to suggest mechanics. They should take magic weapons to harm, as is traditional for the more serious, less corporeal undead. Around 5 HD for the basic ones seems about right. They are not energy level drainers, instead they control the fight by blinding and incapacitating. It takes one combat round to pass through crevices, and another to gather back together into a combat capable form. In the dissociated form, it can fly on the wind, and generate its own breeze to travel in still air.

Each time an Ashen hits, it gets one of the following effects:

Ash flowing into the victims eyes blinds and causes excruciating pain. So the target is both afflicted by whatever your rules give for blind fighting penalties and a pain penalty of -2 on actions. This is not just a flung handful of sand, it is animate crud, that is actively scoring the eyeball, but, as it is D&D, a save vs petrifaction, or a Fortitude save in later flavors, made in a subsequent round will remove this effect. It also does a D6 of damage initially and a point per round. Moving fast while blinded should include a high chance of disorientation, probably ruled off the cuff.

Ash flowing into the mouth & nose requires a save vs poison or a tough concentration check DC20-ish , or penalized spell casting roll (-4 or so on a D20), depending on the game's spellcasting mechanics to be able to complete any spell being spoken in the round struck. Besides that, it chokes and makes speaking at all very difficult. Take a D6 of damage and make a save as above for the eyes. Success means holding one's breath in time and only suffering a -2 penalty and ending an ongoing 1 point of damage per round. Failure means -4 penalties on all actions, being busy attempting to breath, coughing terribly, and choking. Asphyxiation can be assumed as the source of the damage and penalties.

Those ongoing damage points will stack, with a save needed versus each hit to halt them all. One saving throw per round.

Ashen can also quench torches and lamps with hits, deface open scrolls, flow into and ruin potions opened by melee combatants they are fighting, manifest enough solidity to pluck away items that are not firmly held in hand, like arrows in quivers and sheathed weapons, dump pouches, etc. Losing initiative to Ashen in melee contact probably means you're screwed that round as far as using scrolls or potions. Given an ashen one such minor action in addition to its normal attack on any round in which it has initiative.

Ashen are immune to fire damage. Magical winds and strong natural winds can keep them at bay or disperse them for a period of time, depending on the strength and duration of the wind. Swift flowing water is another natural defense that can carry them off and disperse them for a time.

5 HD undead monster
Base move 9"
AC 2 vs magical weapons
Number appearing 1-8
Treasure E
% in Lair 40 - mostly lying around in piles or in urns when encountered. Ambush predators. Surprise on 1-4 in first encounter. Subsequently, normal odds of surprise.
 Could also be met as a breeze wafts ashes along the floor of the tunnel that was previously still.

Dousing with holy water damages them for 1D6, and is a touch attack (AC9 effectively).
Treatment of ash injuries with a vial of holy water will halt the effects of one ongoing hit, as will magical healing like a cure light wounds, in addition to the damage points healed. Cure serious wounds and similar more powerful magics can all ongoing damage over time hits at once, and end the penalties from them.

[I need to make an editing pass on the Ashen, and trim it down a bit. Inventing as you go and trying to account for too many alternate mechanics in places gets wordy.]

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Temple of the Weeping Moon

Yea! Mapping again!  The fill experiment was inspired by Simon Forster's recent maps, but his fills are better, after looking at them again afterwards. Still, nice to vary from stippling.

Friday, May 16, 2014

War Thunder tanks in open beta

War Thunder patched to 1.41 last night,  with various plane improvement but the main show is tanks going open beta, so I gave the tank arcade battles a good trial run. I had a lot of fun with it. Never played World of Tanks, so I don't have that comparative lens.

I did notice some bugs. The most annoying one was getting a connection failure to the battle server right after a match starts. You get scored as a drop out and can't rejoin. It is not a problem when solo, but bad when squared,  since you have the choice of waiting out a whole game or dropping squad to keep playing. There should be some provision to rejoin after a connection failure if you have squad mates in a game. The other notable  up is that if you touch ammo mods during a game before spawning a tank, it gets confused and thinks you have an extra load of shells to allocate, and if you listen to it and do so with a balanced load, you will only have the first kind, since the new number will be a full real load. Just ignore it and play on once you've assigned some shells of the kind you want, and dropped some others to make room in the real count.

Tactically, I like hugging low ground, with the perfect engagement beinget a spot with a high impassible flank cover towards the enemy direction of approach so I get flanking shots at advancing enemies that are going around the end of the hill. If there is a bit of a hull down to my front and a way to break LOS by reversing it's perfect. Then just hope the flow rate of enemies is fast enough to stay busy but one at a time in LOS. Until in a good spot or taking decent shots at least keep moving, halting to shoot at any but very close range, using the gunner's sight. Snapshots from third person commander view are good when shooting on the move while very close.

The early tanks pick up their upgrades very quickly. The Russian ones seem to be a bit buffed relative to historical performance. Their KV1 stat sheet looks like they are making it a bit too fast, for instance.[Turns out that was a bad example. Whatever the stats sheet says about max speed, the KV1 feels suitably sluggish at accelerating, decelerating, hill climbing, and turning, so it does not feel like a fast tank.].

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Old fart chuckling over yet another juvenile idea time - a dungeon dwelling race/species/civilization which uses chamberpots indistinguishable from treasure chests, enchanted to not smell while the lid is closed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A synopsis of Billy Compton's Barrowmaze Labyrinth Lord session this past Saturday

Was too tired to take notes or map, as I had been up too late flying the last couple nights before ;-)  but here is roughly what went down, as best as my muddled memory can do. We started in the tunnels under the mountain whose entrance we had discovered in the cellars of the ruins of the Dwarven monastery where we went on our quest for magic fungi for the disease cure in the previous session.

After a bit of wandering, an earthquake, and a stirge encounter, we discovered a clan of cannibalistic cave men and a crippled up escaped dwarf victim who had to write his responses, since they cut out his tongue among other wounds. We avoided them, using a (secret?) door the dwarf led us to and he guided us on to a dwarf city in a large cave on the far side of the mountain.

The city was under siege by "barbarians", some of whom seemed to actually be local knights who were trying to maintain human territorial claim over the region. The dwarf king (named something odd I wrote down) declared he was taking up his rightful ancestral claim and wanted us to serve as mercenaries to defend the dwarf city against the siege. The politics sound a bit like the ongoing mess in the Middle East to me. My dwarf Glant is naturally sympathetic to the dwarf king, but Weasel of course is looking to the first opportunity to sell him out, and the rest are more into the idea of finding the legendary lost dwarf treasure, so I keep pretty quiet in the negotiation. However as we start to wish the king a good war and bugger off, he offers us 500 gold apiece to help defend the citadel which puts a different complexion on it, so we tentatively agree.

The dwarf cleric takes us aside after our royal audience and dispatches us off to go find a maguffin, the blue crystalline lower half of a statue of an elf hero dwarf-friend, that rejoined, might summon the dude back from the dead to break the siege or something like that. He'll cover for us while we run his hopefully game changing errand. The prospects of loot seem better than reenacting Masada as mercenaries so we go off with the map he had from a wounded dwarf explorer of the deep passages, to the place where he found the top piece of the statue.

We go through some ancient dwarf ruins, experience another Earthquake of Foreshadowing and eventually reach the spot marked X, a large room with a big rough hole in the floor and some albino big eyed subterranean lizard-workmen. They won't let us look at the boxes of stuff they are piling up next to the hole but aren't offensive, so after the usual ethical hemming and hawing of a dungeon party let them be and go down their hole. We promptly run into their larger work party below the rough stair and a couple of tough, well armored guards. Worklizards run off when the inevitable fight starts and we are doing well against the guards, aside from the pelting our front line guys take from bad slinging by the party rear.

Then a big pack of pasty lizard guardsmen and the lizard shaman with the obligatory skull headdress that instantly gets knocked askew by a well placed slingstone show up and things look bad for our interlopers, so we go into fighting retreat mode, planning to lay down a flaming oil barrier below us on the stair as we retreat upward.

And there Cliff hangs for another couple weeks. Seriously, the fighter at the front getting pelted by friends is played by Cliff.

War Thunder is a lot of fun

War Thunder is a free to play PC WWII air combat game with advancement sped up and some extra planes made available if you buy in. It has varying degrees of realism, but most people seem to play in arcade mode where the flight model is more forgiving, the easiest control set is available and you can spawn several times in different aircraft. They also have a tanks mode in closed beta which I look forward to trying.

 I played a bit about a year ago and got good at air to ground with the early tech starter planes but didn't progress too far. Since then, one of my gaming friends from minis and boardgames really got into it and convinced me to update and get back in. Got it going early last week, and started playing a lot, was having a good enough time I bought in for the 90 days account yesterday. We managed to pair up in a squad one night and play with pair tactics using the in game voice which is quite good. Our first flight as a pair went very well, with us covering each other and both ended with kills and assists on the same planes we started with. Later runs were less lucky/sloppier, but it is clearly a game that rewards team tactics. It's very nice to have somebody to watch & clear your tail and help look out for targets and threats.

So far, my favorite among the tier 1 and 2 planes is the Bf110, which is probably a bit underrated on its plane level, as it just tears through a lot of tier 1 opposition with strong bursts of cannon + MG firepower, and is sturdy versus machine guns. It isn't very maneuverable but really rewards classic slashing energy tactics. Had one amazing flight in it yesterday where I picked off a couple, got tailed by a guy I could not shake, but who mostly missed his shots, and dragged him around the battlefield, dodging and weaving and scoring another five kills with slashing attacks against targets of opportunity, as I got more and more damaged. Ended plowed into the ground when I couldn't pull up after a final shot at a ground target. The last couple were seriously tricky to line up with my controls gone all sloppy in my shot up plane. Ended that game with nine kills after using a couple of Italian planes. The guy that shot me down was the lead scorer on the other side, but his score was seriously held down by all the time he spent chasing me.

Give it a go. Look for me as Argg if you want to fly as a squad.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Diced Dungeon map further along

Sometimes a map I don't touch for a while and remember as being done really is not. I noticed while showing Zach the barista this map as an example of "what it is I've been drawing in the cafe in the mornings" that I hadn't finished the stippling of the caves on the left side. So now I have, and added a couple doors and a name that might stick. Nice to have a good, clean scan before I decide if I want to detail up the interior.