After a long year, it is rewarding to look back on how the year progressed and note achievements. It also doesn’t hurt to acknowledge failures with a bit of chagrin either.
I started 2015 with a fairly short list of goals to achieve, let’s start off by reviewing those.
1. Finish the half-timber row of houses and build another one.
Well, that was a bit of a bust. I have the first row nearly finished…just need to shingle two more rooftops. I have zero progress on a second row of buildings…not even a plan drawn up. The building does look good, I think.
2. Finish the dwarven ruins and complete some additional scatter pieces.
Yeah, all I managed to do was basecoat that piece. Complete failure on this one.
3. Build 3 scratch-built tanks/APCs.
Yeah, nothing to report here. To be honest, these have been back-benched as I find I am playing less and less of 40K again. So much time to set-up and not a game I enjoy playing that much. Maybe at some point they will get finished.
4. HOTT Orc army finished.
Well, I did manage to repaint two of the pike units I botched. But that is it. Also a project that has gotten bumped down in priority.
So now it begs the question…what did I accomplish this year?
In counter point to #1, I have the start of a sci fi urban city, complete with 4 cars (and another 3 in various stages of completion).
In counter point to #2, I have completed 5 dungeon sections and 4 in progress. The most complex in progress being the library but still playable at its current state.
I don’t really have a counter to not finishing the orc army. This year I have completed painting 62 miniatures. I am surprised by the large number myself, but it is all there through my past posts. Wow, that is quite the accomplishment alone. In fact, there are more that were painted but never posted because they turned out badly.
Also accomplished this year was substantial leaps forward in Dungeon Down development. This might be ready for the eyes of the general public pretty soon.
So what does this year bring? Well the title is a spoiler. I have been bitten by the superhero bug lately. Between the excellent movies coming out and the tv series my wife has gotten wrapped up in, I feel more than a little nostalgia for comic books. So I took the plunge and ordered my first batch of heroes (and villains) in tights. This brought my attention back to (some of) the Hasslefree Miniatures modern miniatures I had kicking around. After looking at them, I realized that I have a dead ringer for Black Widow and Nick Fury (from the comic books anyways).
I know that my Nick Fury is actually supposed to be Kurt Russell from the “Escape From” series of movies but once I am done, I am fairly confident he will look like a good Agent of Shield.
As I bought these models for cool factor without a plan for them, I feel this is a good move to use them. As a plus, they will also be painted into tactical combat style so will still be used in other games where warranted, well not so much these two as the others below.
Also added into the mix is the start of my own version of the Saint of Killers from Preacher. I decided to go more undead with him, and I will have to tone down his abilities just a little bit…this cowboy could do more damage than the Avengers on a bad day. Pretty crude so far, but he is a WIP.
Now the only issue I see might come out, is trying to find a game system to use. Pulp City seems like a great game, and I read through the quick play rules. Seems to capture comic book style fights and cool hero abilities. There are a couple downsides to that system. First, it is card based…so you need to use their miniatures. So I can’t take Ironman and play him, unless they have an Ironman equivalent (they don’t as near as I can tell, hence my example of him). The other one is the complexity. This game is a dense read and complicated. This is not a quick pick up and play or teach new players.
I have been toying around with a modern setting version of Dungeon Down. I had a good set of basic principles that used the same basic mechanics but had a team going through a facility/alien ship/sewer/etc. So those ideas have a basis for doing a superhero game. But how do you represent the superheroes and the minions/less than super support? From my experience, the game already does that. A level 1 monster is not much of a threat to a party of level 2 heroes. But, I have witnessed 3 goblins with bows completely kill a party. I have also seen higher level guys hammer away on each other for several rounds with minimal effect. The simple balancing of forces using the levels mechanic still works too.
So all that said and done, I will be working on a super hero game setting this year with all the trappings that go with it. This means more terrain including cars. It means lots of minis painted and assembled. It also means it is a slow burn project that will still let me do other projects too.
So I hope to inspire you to have a super year too. And remember: no capes.
Or for those who like words spelt right: Whip it Good. I have had very little hobby time since my last update, but I feel that time has been fairly productive. In addition to progress on the stair room featured in the last update, I have a couple more projects on the go.
First we have Vanja at the 99%. Since taking this pic I have added highlights to her hair and I will obviously finish her base. Only a tabletop level right now, I still have the option to make her better with corrections to my errors. For now, this girl can proudly shake off the kiss of death of being featured in an earlier WIP.
I went with metallic paint for the jewelry with very crude light source added to the jewels. A simple but effective paint scheme. I notice other people have done her with a bare midriff but I think the layered armour look is better. At about 18′ maybe she could get away with the chainmail bikini but I would rather she wore proper armour.
A couple new dungeon sections have been started. In fact I have finished one (barring paint of course). The two-level storeroom pictured helped me realize something about my molds. There are 1″x1″ floor tiles and 1″x1/2″ floor tiles. Or so I thought. When I did the previous stair room I noticed that one of my walls didn’t line up properly and my bricks had gaps. I just chalked it up to my skill fade and sloppy work. It wasn’t until I did this piece I realized that the half-wide pieces are in fact about 1/32″ longer than an inch. this means using them as floor tiles will have an uneven length. So this wall has a few weird gaps in the walls I have had to deal with and it isn’t 100% squared off wall to corner. Oh well, live and learn. I think this piece will look good enough. More importantly, it give me another multi-level piece.
I have been wanting to play around with levels and adding a vertical dimension to my games of Dungeon Down. It isn’t to say it changes much, just gives some visual variety and cool changes. The changes in level do give some more options. I am also thinking of doing some corridor sections with stairs too just to add to the multiple level options.
To further enhance the multiple levels I have also put together these two pieces. Don’t let the simple shape fool you, I have not completely lost it. These are not giant dice either. So what are they for you ask?
These next few pictures demonstrate how they can support multiple levels. Simply put, these let me turn any piece into a second floor piece. I will throw a few more together obviously for the larger pieces and to let me have entire lengths of corridor that span distances.
A pretty short update today, but hopefully still inspirational. This year has been a bit sporadic due to busy periods at work but I still managed to keep it more or less current for the regular readers. My next update will likely see my year in review, including my shameful lack of achieving hobby goals. Happy New Year in the interim.
Or at least I was led to believe from the Economics sections in my sociology courses. I have had a bit of time to work and I am hammering away on a few different projects. I realize I have quite a few half-finished projects so I am trying to finish them. Today is brought to you by WIP-Inc and the letter W.
Previously shown as an example of a new tattoo technique I was trying, I figured I would finish him off. This barbarian’s pose is very striking. I see in the giant photo of shame that I need to do more washes to make his skin more natural and his muscles to pop more. What I have done is thrown some highlights onto his sword. I want a black sword with a hint of green reminiscent of uranium.
I am actually amazed how similar he is to one of my favorite old RPG characters – Barghev. The only thing he needs are 3 more axes and shaggy hair and beard. If I decide to get another one for this project, I will go in depth on the character on a later post.
But, he is a character I will never play again. The campaign world was in a system designed by our GM. Whenever he came out with a revision, he fast-forwarded a few hundred years so we were forced to make new characters. As consolation, this character eventually became a god of death…for goblins, but a god none the less. Something to do with destroying several thousand over the course of game sessions all by his own hand.
Also on the block of newly started figures is this creepy little guy.
I did up the fly very simply with wet-blending and highlights while I was waiting on something else. The eyes are obviously just blocked out at this time, I am not sure if I want to try painting on a whole bunch of tiny dots to show the faceted eyes. The wings will go for a green-tinted white, darker green on the veins.
Also new on the workbench is a new dungeon module for Dungeon Down. Most of my free time has been dedicated to updating the card backs, adding a few new cards and building some foam-core board sections. Why you ask? Simple – Christmas gifts. Two versions of the game have been given out, one for the couple who we regularly play with, and a second to a very close friend who I am certain will enjoy it. If nothing else he has a new use for his eclectic miniatures collection.
For this latest piece (and a few more I have in mind), I am playing more with multi-level sections. I will also make up a few bases to raise up sections to the second story when required. The stairs and bookshelf aren’t attached yet for ease of painting and this section still needs the walls for the second level to be laid down. Overall, I think it looks very striking and the forced route of movement will make it more challenging for combat.
This update saw a little bit of everything. I figure since my hobby time has been in short supply for a while, the variety of projects will be refreshing, and gives me a chance to work on several things at once. Hopefully something inspired you today, if nothing else, to seek out those figures that have meaning and paint them up.
This afternoon I had an opportunity to have a new play-tester play his second game of Dungeon Down. A few things were learned, but a lot was confirmed.
A veteran of many delves, Marius found himself with several new companions for this particular dungeon. He set forth with an initiate paladin and two wizards…or rather a witch and wizard. As they trekked to the abandoned ruins they sought to explore, Marius was sure he could trust the sorceress much more than the snickering elf wizard seemed to imply. The quiet, stoic paladin was a tough nut to crack as he did nothing but mutter prayers and play with his rosary.
First entering the dungeon, the adventurers saw the dungeon swung to the right with naught but moldering sacks in a dim corner to the left. The shuffling sounds to the right were the only warning of advancing mummies. Continuing his previous lesson on tumbler lock technology over the previous 20 years, Marius was distracted and needed to fire two bolts to drop the first mummy.
Before the paladin could even loose his sword, the two mages made quick work of the other two mummies, the dart from Joliee exploding the Pharaoh in an explosive burst of smoldering cloth.
The various piles of treasure scattered about were quite rewarding to the party and soon they had various magic items equipped as they proceeded down the long corridor towards a junction point.
In the ruins of some crates, the unshakeable explorer trailed off on his lecture about the merits of sliding versus rolling latches to be amazed at the swarms of trained beetles the goblins were controlling with their screeching language.
So dumb-struck was he that his first shot sailed wide above the diminutive beasts to clatter harmlessly against the wall. The second shot struck home and sent a goblin to a loud and messy end.
Again the sorcerous heroes displayed prowess and expertise as first Joliee fired a mystical dart of energy straight through Marius. Her pleading apologies and the callous laughter of the elf wizard were the last sounds to be heard by Marius before he slipped into the blackness of unconsciousness.
As the paladin lifted his still glowing hands from him, Marius knew he had been close to death.
“I am so sorry, I have never missed with a spell before. You have to please forgive me…” her pleading was an incessant stream of begging between choked back tears while the smirk on the face of the wizard told a different story.
In Dungeon Down, as I have mentioned numerous times, shooting obstacles (including other miniatures) has a chance of hitting the obstacle. Joliee manages to remind the player of this an incredible number of times through-out the game.
Regrouped and recovered, the party proceeded cautiously towards the junction. In the shadows of a storeroom, several ominous shadows lingered. As he approached closer he saw a sinister grick slink forth to attack the party. Taking a few steps forward to ensure his clear shot, Marius slew the serpent-like monster with a single bolt. As he shouted over his shoulder to warn the party, the hulking mass of a Gibbering Horror struck Marius dead with fear.
Not wanting to risk further deaths, the party reorganized in the narrow corridor as Joliee threw-up a wall of fire to protect them. To their collective horror, Marius again was struck dead by fear before he had even fully stood upright and even the paladin felt his heart quiver for a moment as unholy energy gripped him. The final insult to the party was as a Bone Horror absorbed the slain Grick and moved towards the prone form of Marius.
Mystic energy crackled through the air as spell after spell hammered into the Gibbering Horror with only a single errant bolt striking the wall instead. Once the massive bulk of the beast was felled, the corpse slowly reshaped to be knit into the ever-growing form of the Bone Horror.
I’ll take a moment to explain the Bone Horror. In the game I have a few abilities that interact with corpses. Healing is the most obvious (and most often used) ability. There are monsters who can turn the dead into skeletons or create minions of themselves. The Bone Horror works a bit different. It absorbs corpses to gain additional wounds. In the first game it was used, the Bone Horror was a 6 wound monstrosity before the party was able to deal with it. In this game it was a mere five wounds but was left as the lone monster facing the party and was quickly killed.
Marius again was revived by Erick and proved his composure by taking the lead into the storeroom. The rest of the party wasn’t too sure of this thief until the prearranged signal…his gurgling death scream. Joliee rounded the corner first to see Marius being devoured by a unit of shelves. The mimic curled behind wooden shelves to try finishing its meal as her first blast of eldritch magic seared away part of the chimerical form.
Anirion followed suit and destroyed the abomination with a searing dart of his own. The nervous paladin stared at the thief, carefully examining him before he let the gnome stand.
“You’re worried about nothing. Just some bad luck.”
His loud voice did draw more of that bad luck as a hulking minotaur came into the room followed by a troll. With two quick twangs Marius brought the bellowing minotaur to his knees, bright red blood pooling on the floor. The troll leapt over the prone minotaur and swung at the nimble gnome, barely connecting with him, but smashing a stack of crates to kindling. Joliee ran forward and flashed up a wall of fire near the corridor, engulfing the troll in flames. Stepping beside her, the elf wizard sent the troll’s head flying back down the corridor with a flash of heat and light.
In all the flurry, none noticed the foul mockery of the paladin that stepped into the room until he began reciting unholy scripture at the paladin. Gritting his teeth and gripping his holy symbol, Erick fought back the stygian powers of the evil champion. Bewildered to still be conscious, Marius dove backwards and fired his crossbow at the anti-paladin. He was gripped with terror as he watched the anti-paladin smile…until blood spilled from his mouth and the villain fell down lifeless.
The corridor again ended but not before revealing more treasure for the party to divvy up. By this time, all four were feeling confident about their abilities as numerous magic items and additional equipment made packs heavy.
Doubling back to the corridor fork, a dog sized spider, hunting cat and skeleton sorcerer were quickly dispatched as the heroes twirled around reanimating bones to destroy the skeleton sorcerer. Marius again was felled, this time by the webs of the spider.
By now, the paladin initiate was questioning his change in vocation. Marius reminded him of Prior Al. Old feeble Al had tried to train as a knight. He had unshakeable faith, but he lacked any sort of coordination. That was how he cut off his foot. Well, the right one. The left foot was apparently from some sort of carpentry accident. He found himself distractedly trying to remember which eye the old man told him he lost during his first joust.
Woken from his reveries by the twang of a crossbow, Erick was sure he would be reviving the thief again soon. To his surprise, Joliee stepped forward and rocked the entire dungeon with the force of her magical blast. As he wiped the dirt and dust from his face, he was surprised to see Anirion point the fully alert gnome to lead on. How is it a fight happened and the gnome didn’t die?
Marius and the sorcerous heroes plunged forward to the sound of an ear-splitting roar. Too far away to hear the shouts of his comrades, Erick was confused by the twang of crossbow, death wail in the distance and roar of flames. Flames? In the dungeon? How could that be possible?
This game marked the first encounter with my Chimera. I have created this beast as a Level 4 monster. I wasn’t sure about the stats. At first I thought it might be a bit tough, then I saw the stats aren’t insurmountable. In fact, in play it was the dice that made the difference. If a few rolls had been a bit higher, or at least not 1s, the party would have easily bested this monster and carried on to finish the dungeon. Not as visible in the picture is the Babau. As I mentioned in a previous post, this demon will warp in and out of reality to harass the party.
The biggest danger from the Chimera was his breath. His first round saw him squeezing into a narrow corridor (reducing his defense) to burn the gnome and two wizards.
Erick did step into the fray and revived Joliee, only to have her fall to a second gout of flame. Erick himself stood against flurries of attacks by the poisoned tail of the Chimera and the scrabbling claws of the demon until the poisoned sting finally pierced his platemail and sent the deadly poison coursing through his veins.
The fight was very tense with the Chimera and it was brought down to it’s final wound. With the ability to do flurries of attacks (with a chance to hit itself), the Chimera almost did itself in. On one turn, it almost hit itself 3 times in a row (defending against its own attack by a single digit in all cases). I was left trying to tell the poor play-tester that the party doesn’t die every time. But he was ecstatic. He was actually the first to admit the party kill was mostly due to his own mistakes. And bad rolling. The one and only time the paladin had to save the day and he fails to heal Joliee and then subsequently rolls 1s for his defenses against the Chimera and its poison (when even a 2 would have kept him alive).
Having a solo play-tester for his second ever trial of the game gave me a few solid observations. First of all, I did very little coaching on what the sheets meant, which dice to roll, and which ability was used for what. Since my goal is to design a simple set of rules that was easy to remember, I would say that bodes well. The only rules issues I noticed were that he had to be reminded to include dice penalties due to wounds and he wasn’t 100% sure what the difference between Miracles and Spells was until I threw out an idea that has guided my design: Sorcerers are selfish and only affect themselves and others while Miracles help others. That cemented it for him and he could even identify who used what stat on the bad guys by the skill effect.
The next observation came directly from him: the Cunning heroes may have more opportunity to gain experience than other heroes, but only if they lead from the front. Marius accounted for more kills and disarmed 7 traps. He also would have only earned a total of 1 experience from combat as he was dead at the end of every fight but one. The more solid Mighty heroes are more likely to survive and both Sorcerous and Resolute heroes benefit from flexibility and only really face death if they are foolish.
The final observation was a confirmation of what I had noticed before: the game plays best with more players. It is both more challenging and rewarding when there are more players. Ideally each adventurer should be individually controlled and the dungeon to be controlled by a player as well. This makes mistakes both more and less likely and the risks and rewards from treasure more exciting.
I hope this was inspiring to you today, if nothing else, I feel confident sending out demo rules for those interested now.
Nothing like the history of urban myths to start things off. If you aren’t aware, the story goes that (insert band name) wrote Satanic verses into their songs but they can only be heard if you play the album backwards. As a perfect example, have a listen to this: Warning: Likely to Cause Brain Damage. Anyhow, I have managed to do some painting, mostly of demons.
First up, we have the Reaper Bones Babau. This is the demon who was able to play cat and mouse with the party during the last game of Dungeon Down. I went with a fairly muted colour scheme as I wanted it to evoke stealth. In DnD, this particular demon drips with venom. The description makes it red, but I wanted to go with green instead and show it dripping down the rock instead of coating the mini.
Also painted on the demon front is the Nabassu. Now this is a demon I am not familiar with, so I looked it up online.
Apparently this is a demon who starts in the mortal realm and then shifts to demon realms afterwards. I wasn’t sure what to do with such a vague description so I just went with the stereotypes of a demon from Heavy Metal album cover to Christian movies. Oh Disney did it too. In game terms I just went with a big tough guy who can stare down individuals to strike fear in their hearts.
I did manage to throw some paint on a couple new adventurers. Truth is, I am not very happy with the results. I am not sure if it is a bit of painters fatigue, the bad primer (it left the figs pebbled) or just a bad selection of scheme. Anyhow, I went with a rather simple paint scheme. I wanted to go with a Templar style but I realized I had a knight with a white tabard already, In fact, I have another guy in a red tabard so it isn’t really the most unique choice either. On the other hand, he seems a bit out of scale with the other characters I have thus far. As demonstrated when he his beside my other divine inspired heroes.
Of course the action shots will showcase these demons, but it also shows off my latest modular dungeon terrain. This unholy temple will serve as the boss room for the Vrock demon but also adds a bit of interesting flavor and confused line of sight with the pews. I may go for a more elaborate temple set-up at some point too, but I am happy with the simple room but interesting effect.
Hopefully something inspired you today, if nothing else to try playing some songs in reverse.
Ok, maybe a bit melodramatic, but I did have a few figs consigned to being stripped redeem themselves with a bit of work.
Before we get into that, I did manage to get some nicer pictures of Elia so now her smooth skin and subtle shadows are at least visible.
Not an amazing paint job, but at least now my brushwork is more clear.
Ironically, in the game of Dungeon Down last night, the party was wishing for a Cunning Hero (read: Thief) and I showed them this girl who would have been a very valuable addition. More on that below.
My wife was wanting to learn to paint too, mostly because our daughters are doing it. So I sat down with her one afternoon and had her first brush on primer her first chosen model…and then I handed her one to learn dry-brushing on (a naked skeleton) and then told her to paint this guy above. She did very nice blending and subtle highlights with minimal instruction. Most of the white is actually plaster dust (doing Hirst Arts again has put that all over my workspace).
While she was painting her skeleton, I figured I would hammer out these skeletons too. I also had a few side projects where I would show her what a wash did, or multi-colour/layered drybrushing. I also did wet blending to show her that, but told her to try it after she felt more comfortable with putting on highlights by hand instead of trying to blend up to them.
Aaron is the Phoenix of the post today. I had originally wanted to paint a mage with orange robes so put on the first few layers and it came out all chalky. So I was frustrated with him. In the end I decided I would test techniques on him before I stripped him or put him in the bottom of a drawer.
With that in mind, I tried wet-blending an Asian flesh. Which came out fairly well. From there I tried putting in the hair and saw the Fu Man Chu could be pulled off. Once that was done, I wondered if a wash and wet blend up to highlights could fix the robes. In some places it worked better than others obviously, the back turned out the best I think but the front leg looks suitably worn and faded too.
Finally I just started playing around with wet-blending the spell effect from dark blue to white. I simply blocked out the other colours and threw him aside, still confident I would strip him. At the game of Dungeon Down though the couple who regularly plays were amazed with him. So now I guess I need to go back and touch up the details and smooth out the rough spots. Or not. For tabletop I think he looks quite good.
Another mini who may (or may not) have pulled himself from the proverbial doghouse is the Halfling here. While painting him, I though it would be cool to make him match Elia like brother and sister. Instead of opting for a Rnager-themed paint scheme I felt like going more for Perregrin of Minas Tirith. I was liking the basic colour blocking…but the skin just kept coming out patching and coarse. I did go back with a flesh wash that repaired some of the sins…but I am still not happy with him as a whole. And he certainly doesn’t look like a match for Elia, even as her ugly brother.
A few touch-ups are still needed too, but the question is if I can fix his skin. I tried using some blonde paint to give him a beard to cover up the sins, but it is just too tough to notice on such a small mini. Any suggestions would be appreciated…otherwise he will sit in shame or get stripped.
Also playing Phoenix were these two sinister figures.
The Anti Paladin was given a quick dry brush but I spent a lot of time blending his cape and the shield was separate and I was blending, highlighting and drybrushing it to this state while watching Netflix waaay past my bedtime.
Cassiata was simply a rough and dirty series of wet-blend drybrushes to get a purple girl. Mostly because I knew both my oldest daughter and wife would find a girl in purple cute.
The Anti Paladin shield is his focal point and the eyes are drawn to it (overlooking the poorly done eyes). The pair though fulfilled a devious role in Dungeon Down. As a new breed of tough monsters in an attempt to increase the difficulty of some fights. These two combine cleric-hunting with defending weaker monsters. Paired with the very efficient melee and thick armour kept the game on track.
Let me explain that last part. Due to my being busy and the work schedules of the couple, the regular Dungeon Down games had been side-tracked and we haven’t even had time to grab a coffee with this couple in almost 3 months. So the two women were gossiping away and talking girl stuff after we were a few minutes into the game with the two men looking bored. So we just pushed on and when these two appeared both the women were suddenly interested in the game as they saw Alain backing off from a fight.
The nastiest critter of the game was a demon (the first one in fact) who had Ambush. As mentioned in previous posts, Ambush lets a monster deploy in a non-standard way. Some monsters can even reuse Ambush. The demon’s Ambush let him deploy beside a wounded miniature. It could then reuse Ambush by using Stealth (an ability that uses Cunning against the Cunning of others). Since the demon has very Cunning, it had free reign to pop into existence, finish off a wounded hero and then disappear again. Since it could do the Ambush even if it was a wounded monster, it kept popping in and out until finally Brother Roberto was felled in combat. A healing potion could bring him back, but left him wounded…and the demon came in.
Alain valiantly stepped in front of Brother Roberto (using one of his skills) and shrugged off the demon’s attack. When it stepped into the shadows to disappear, Alain rolled higher on his cunning and ran the demon through with a single sword thrust.
As this monster was despised by the party and deemed nasty, everybody agreed he needs to stay. If nothing else he encourages the use of a Cunning hero. An unpainted mini right now, he has earned a paint job.
The game was great fun and ended up ending on time since we kept visiting and getting side-tracked as good friends enjoying themselves are wont to do. To give the action shot, here is the final shot of the dungeon where we ended it. This is a great shot as nobody was repositioned, so I took about 20 shots until I got one I was happy with. If I had zoomed in a bit more it would have been that much better.
Hopefully something inspired you today, if nothing else to try experimenting on the minis that are already consigned to stripping…it’s not as if you have anything to lose.
I’m back, but only for a brief while. After a month of business at work (actually closer to two) I finally have a bit of time off. It is short-lived and work will have me busy again for the next month. At least it will be a trip this time to Las Vegas and California…I know, sometimes work can be so tough.
Anyhow, before work got very busy I managed to squeak in a game of Dungeon Down. What really separated this game from others was the end state: we actually had the game finish with a dead-end and a boss fight in the second to last area.
I won’t comment too much on the pictures as they are over a month old and my memory isn’t the best. I will mention that it took a few pictures before I realized I had the wrong light setting.
What is worth mentioning is the boss fight. In that fight it was a closely fought one where each player plotted their turns carefully and worked together to beat the boss. What made this one more dangerous was his very dangerous bow and ability to charm the players. When they saw those threats they saw the need to take him out first, even if he was unpainted. This was done by having Hayden clear a path for Alain while Roberto and Joliee ran interference.
What was also interesting was how the now experienced heroes played. There were few monsters that were threats for any one hero and the combats were quick and deadly. That being said, there was one fight that had almost the entire party dead from the waves of monsters who sought out the isolated heroes. So even at the higher end of good, the heroes were still vulnerable to the random encounters.
That made me feel the game is balanced and all the players decided to try new characters for the next time, even trying out the character creation rules I have devised (in fact the same method each of the existing heroes was created).
Not a lot of words, but plenty of pictures. Hopefully the smaller update is no less inspiring. Stay tuned – another update is in the works.
This update is a bit delayed as my work is starting to pick up. I am sure this will be the last update for the next couple of months, but then it gets into a much quieter time at work, and some time off.
This weekend saw an opportunity to play Dungeon Down again, the couple who did the play-testing last time were asking when we could play it again.
The party was slightly different this time, as Hayden was back in the running. The others stayed the same, as both of them were quite attached to the characters they led to their death last time. As there has been a bit of delay, and some of the details are a bit hazy, this update will be a bit less cinematic.
Descending the stairs, the party found the stairs branched in two directions before ending. To their right was a dead-end and some nasty goblins while the left revealed skeletons and a veritable horde of goblins.
Throwing caution to the wind, Alain dove down the stairs to the right to cut down the goblins. After a bit of jockeying, eventually Hayden cut-down a zombie, with Alain stepping in to fell the other two. As the goblin swarm advanced, Joliee pushed past the mighty heroes to slay nearly all the goblins with her Blast spell.
After consolidating in the now blood-slicked corridor, Alain led the way into the storeroom ahead. With his first step he thought he heard some grinding, but it wasn’t until his second step that a volley of arrows struck him, one arrow hitting him hard in the seam between gauntlet and vambraces. As he grunted through the pain he heard the grinding of gears and a click as the mechanism reset.
Before he could shout a warning to the others, greed swept through the party and they ran into the room. Arrow after arrow strafed into the party, weakening them all. With reckless abandon, Joliee continued to plunder the room as was slain by another arrow as the mechanism failed with the squeal of metal shearing and gears grinding.
Some traps have a mechanism to reset. In fact, the most dangerous traps are more likely to reset. A total of 7 arrows were fired from the trap before the party managed to disarm it. We’ll call it disarm, at least that’s how the story in the tavern will go.
After the party finished looting the store-room, they proceeded down uneventful corridors until stumbling onto the Gauntlet defended by skeletons. After a long sprint down the corridor, Brother Roberto invoked divine favour and Turned all the undead with his prayers and chants.
After so many mystical puzzles in the corridor, the scribe demanded time not be wasted and all the puzzles should be left to her. Her haughty demands did raise eyebrows, but the fountain raised a smirk on Alain’s face when an arrow burst from the depth of the fountain basin and felled the scribe. With a sigh Brother Roberto again healed the scribe from her mortal wounds.
As the party explored past the Gauntlet, Alain demonstrated puissance and finesse as he first bested a Gibbering Horror and Grick with a single sweep of his blade and then sprinted the length of the room to plunge his blade into the abomination Mind Eater that emerged from the darkness.
At this point things get a bit, well recycled is a good word. First, the corridor cards got mixed up so the ones already drawn were being drawn again. As the deck only held enough for one of each terrain piece, it meant we were short of pieces. The easy fix of counting pieces didn’t work either: because the one corridor had been so long, it was disassembled as the party advanced.
After realizing the balcony would pose an obstacle with no rope, Alain was surprised to find a coil in a treasure pile right outside the entrance to the room. (Serious not Deus ex Machina, the randomly drawn treasure was a rope)
Before braving the balcony (everyone was hesitant to face a total party kill after the climb again), the side passage was explored revealing another storeroom. Such avarice struck the party that the looting began even before the monsters were slain.
The game makes use of actions that can be used to move, attack, open doors, or even loot treasure. So if a player elects to, they can spend actions looting treasure even in a fight. In this fight, after slaying the Darkspawn Cultist, Alain knew he couldn’t easily scratch the Spikeshell Warrior’s thick shell so elected to start looting chests.
The trepidation felt over the balcony was justified. As Alain climbed the rope he saw a set of stairs descending. As he set foot on the first stair he saw unholy eyes gleaming at him while the ground shuddered underfoot. Charging into the fray, he was able to make out more undead eyes in the distance.
As sections are revealed when you step on them, it is possible that multiple sections are revealed at once. If monsters are in them too…well it can be an issue. The monsters revealed posed a difficult fight.
As the intense melee played out, Alain carved his way through the skeleton, only to have it arise and the charging mummies reach him. Hayden fought the Ant Lion and was critically injured while Joliee used her spells to kill the Skeleton Sorcerer who could potentially bring skeletons.
The tension mounted as Joliee was wounded and Alain slain. Hayden was technically dead too, but she kept passing her roll to stay on her feet. Brother Roberto brought back Alain with difficulty while Joliee was slain by an errant trap as she moved into range to try blasting the Darkspawn Cultist. Alain was a bit nervous at that point.
Most traps target Defense, and Alain had it in spades. His player laughed off most traps and it took a good roll (and a 1 on his defense) to get hurt by arrows or blades. Spells he was weak to, and he saw that there were traps that targeted Resolve (one of his lowest attributes).
The game pushed on not much further until the Boss room was found.
A mechanic in the game is that Boss fights are randomly included. A Boss is a special card with both set-up rules and a stat line. For example, the Boss they faced was immobile but he could heal undead and turn corpses into skeletons. The fight took a lot of combined effort by the party but eventually they carved an opening in the almost perpetual horde of skeletons and the Undying King was slain.
Dragoth the Defiler was actually who I had in mind when I built the Throne Room. He is still a WIP, but even at this stage he really pops in his home.
I think the Boss mechanics worked pretty well and make for interesting fights. There were a couple of rules changes made after the game and I am still trying to get the best player card to get it all in one easy to use package. It shouldn’t be too long before I have something I can share with others.
Hopefully something was inspiring today, if nothing else to set up a recurring game.
Last night saw a chance for some new players to try the game I have been working on and was a pretty good success. Rather than bore you with ramblings on mechanics I will dive right into the narrative. I apologize for the lack of pictures and poor quality. I grabbed my camera and didn’t adjust the light settings before taking pictures. Also, I was distracted as the game played much faster than normal.
After celebrating their last incursion both Hayden and Marius Burrowell were quite drunk and in no fit state to again risk the dangers of a subterranean expedition. Finding two worthy adventurers, Brother Roberto and Joliee travelled to nearby ruins in the company of Tara the Silent and Alain, Cavalier.
Walking into the depths, Alain stumbled across an arrow trap that made loud ringing noises as the wooden shafts shattered on his mail. however, that same noise acted as a warning gong to alert the nearby mummies to his presence. In the blink of an eye, Tara dove down the steps and felled one of the undead horrors before it could even shamble a step forward. Likewise Brother Roberto and Joliee also slew undead horrors, leaving Alain to calmly stride forward and hack down the last undead abomination.
The noise of that melee did also bring the attention of two large swarms of spiders and a hungry grick slithering down the corridor. The crossbow of Tara twanged the funeral dirge of the lead spiders while Brother Roberto and Alain combined prayers and steel to dispatch the second swarm. With nothing but a nonchalant whistle, Alain skewered the grick with his long lance.
In the game I decided that spears and polearms should work differently than other melee weapons. So they are actually a ranged weapon and use a different attribute (Cunning) than melee attacks (Might). Alain is a Mighty hero (on par with Hayden) so his lance attacks are not as effective but do have a longer reach.
Alain took the lead once again with his confident swagger, only to stumble into a deep pit. His stalwart nature meant he was unharmed, but he did need to shift his position around for a few minutes before he could un-wedge his armour from the narrow hole to climb out. While the rest of the party scrambled through the piles of treasure and argued over loot, Joliee noticed the torch sconce was slightly tilted.
No matter how hard she pushed on it, she couldn’t shift it. Shifting her concentration to the astral realms she saw enchanted script flowing around the empty torch bracket. Invoking infernal mystical knowledge she moved the torch upright with sorcerous power. Rumbling below them and in the distance, a mechanism settled into place.
Joliee managed to solve a Trick which (again randomized) was part of a puzzle. This comes into play later on as the complex puzzle unravels.
Again taking the lead into the depths, Alain walked towards a promising pile of treasure when unholy gurgling and hissing drew his attention into the inky blackness.
Hissing, growling, and gurgling in a cacophony of unintelligible sound a Faceless Horror slithered through the corridor towards him protecting a Darkspawn cultist hissing with delight. Sprinting forward Tara rounded the high stack of crates to fire into the Darkspawn cultist almost hidden behind the heaving amorphous mass of mind-bending horror that barred the path. Whether it was her speed or the bulk of the creature that fouled her shot, the bolt flew harmlessly into the wall and shattered.
Brother Roberto was so far behind the fearless knight that he was forced to run to catch-up. He was helpless to do anything and instead watched in horror as the Faceless Horror terrified Tara causing the sharpshooter to die from fear. The Darkspawn Cultist hissed with delight as Tara’s noble form was wracked by aberrant spasms and her body reshaped into a horrid miniature version of the Darkspawn Cultist.
Alain gritted his teeth and steeled his resolve as he stepped over his fallen comrade to stab at the Faceless Horror. Whether guided by noble spirit or countless battles, his sword was true and slew the abomination with a single thrust.
Despite being a higher level creature with very good stats and numerous dangerous skills, Alain managed a critical hit that was triple the defense roll of the Faceless Horror and managed to kill it outright with a single attack.
As she rounded the corner, Joliee reacted in horror at seeing the violated corpse of her companion and seared the minion with sorcerous light. As the smoke cleared, Tara’s body has returned to her former appearance, although still inert and lifeless.
The flying spells and miracles created eerie images of light and shadow while the healing energy of Brother Roberto and the deathly spells of both the Darkspawn Cultist and Joliee arced through the dark corridors. As Tara opened her eyes, her agonizing headache faded with the increased glow from Brother Roberto’s hands. Looking around she saw the three dead monsters and Alain calmly cleaning his sword blade as he faced the darkness ahead.
As the game is intended to be quick and fast there are no complex healing versus revive spells or items. So a healer is very essential and more than a bit over-powered. Granted, the Darkspawn Cultist making minions or the Skeleton Sorcerer raising the dead as skeletons give a equally powerful edge to the monsters.
After pausing to regroup, Alain sensed tremors beneath his feet and stared in disbelief at an animate brain. Walking on absurd legs, the Thought Eater marched in front of the nearly impervious Spikeshell Warrior lumbering down the corridor.
With her allies blocking her path, Tara dove past the stoic knight to have a clear shot at the Spikeshell Warrior.
Unable to bring his sword to bear, Alain tried stabbing the beast with his lance, instead striking Tara in the back. Although she was not wounded, the scuffle left her off balance and she was horrified as her mind was wracked by the psychic probing of the Thought Eater as it’s mind stretched out for Joliee.
A very simple mechanic gives attacks a chance to hit friends or foes in the way. In a previous delve goblins massacred their allies with arrows falling short. This delve, Alain hit Tara instead of his target (but failed to wound) and the Thought Eater hit Tara (wounding her) instead of Joliee.
The Thought Eater reached out with it’s mind again and Joliee screamed in pain as the psychic assault brought her to her knees. As her eyes cleared she realized the alien mind had left her with pain but also had learned sorcerous knowledge from her: the beast could now cast Blast.
Before she could shout a warning, the Ant Lion smashed through the floor behind her and stabbed deep into her torso with razor sharp chitin limbs.
The Ant Lion is obviously too big for the corridor. Something I have built into the game is the ability for big creatures to squeeze into the narrow confines of a dungeon. If a creature in in a space too small for it, it drops to level one for defense. This made the giant beast vulnerable to attacks.
Whirling around to face the new threat, Tara launched a bolt from her crossbow into the smooth spot of chitin below the furiously chomping mandibles. More than a little surprised, Tara realized the drunken foppish gnome in the tavern was telling the truth when he said he slew one of those with a single shot. She reloaded her crossbow as she spun, burying her second bolt deep into the shell of the Spikeshell Warrior.
Her celebration was short-lived as the Thought Eater drew forth sorcerous energy and blasted the knight with eldritch energy. While the spell crackled harmlessly around the warrior, Tara was again knocked out. Again, the knight gritted his teeth and instead cleaved into the unnatural creation with sinews of steel, killing it outright.
Raising his eyebrows at the turn of events, Brother Roberto began the healing of his injured companions. He was really starting to regret this trip without Hayden to lead the way. She may have left the floor slick with her blood, but at least it was only her blood most of the time.
Resuming their grim advance into the darkness, an intersection beckoned ahead. Brother Roberto held back the knight and raised his lantern as he advanced revealing a Pharaoh and a swarm of scarabs in the room ahead.
Counting discretion as the best course of action, the party rallied behind Alain as Jolie can a wall of fire to block one of the side corridors. As Tara took careful aim, her bolt skipped along the floor and wall scattering the swarm of beetles with the ricochets of her shot.
As Alain braced himself for the charge of the undead king, Jolie sparked the tinder dry bandages with her Dart spell returning the restless spirit to the hell from whence he spawned.
Rounding the corner, Brother Roberto’s light revealed the corridor to be choked with clambering and cavorting goblins while the room beyond housed a Skeleton Sorcerer, Mummy warrior, and another swarm of scarabs.
Having been too bold in his advance, the rest of the party was stuck running to catch up except for Alain who was close enough to stem the rushing tide of goblins.
His intervention was short-lived as goblin arrows flew towards the priest and sent him to have a brief chat with the powers above. The only consolation was the high pitched squeak of a goblin as the flurry of arrows dispatched one of the goblins. Foul necromancy made short that celebration as the goblin torn off the cooling flesh to arise as a more powerful skeleton.
As missiles flew and spells were chanted, Joliee risked life and limb to revive the fallen priest. Her heroic act was short-lived as arrows again struck down the priest. Alain knew that he needed to secure the sorcerer before he could use his healing potion to revive Brother Roberto.
In an amazing feat of skill Alain carved his way through the goblins and skeletons that rose around him. Finally his path was clear to the liche. Sprinting the gap with his lance held low, he barely grazed the skeleton’s armour with spear tip.
But never before was such a graze so powerful. The sparks from the grating steel on steel ignited the dusty robes of the spell-caster and the razor sharp edge nicked the strange gem around its neck. With a quiet crack the unholy lighted dimmed from the liche’s eyes and the bones collapsed dead.
Ok, even by my Lovecraft inspired vocabulary, that was verbose. However, it was pretty epic. Alain was no match for the Skeleton Sorcerer if it cast a spell on him. Remember he isn’t as good with his lance? Well he scored a triple critical hit and outright killed the powerful spell-caster.
Following some minor skirmishes, Brother Roberto lifted a tapestry to reveal a devious mechanism.
By this time the party had found a Hidden Treasure that required 3 Tricks with Links to be activated. Joliee had activated one, and Alain had activated one. So the best thought was to find the next trick, get the treasure and call the game.
Instead, the next trick revealed a deadly blade that hurt Alain. A treasure did reveal a rope and so the party traipsed off to climb the balcony in the web room…hopefully to find another trick.
By this point we had actually used all the dungeon tiles I have assembled (which means all the cards too). The monsters had been cycled through too. So going on meant shuffling everything again and carrying on.
That decision would prove to be a fatal one. The room atop the balcony was home to a Darkspawn Cultist, Ant Lion and Spikeshell Warrior. The chokepoint of the narrow entrance left each party member following Alain to have no choice but move into the room. From there the Spikeshell Warrior and Darkspawn Cultist finished them off. The Ant Lion appeared to kill Joliee leaving Alain alone to face the monsters.
Oh, by the way the next room (which was revealed) held mummies and scarabs.
Sorry, no heroics. A total party kill.
Now here is the good part, the brand new players (who have never played a board game like this before) were ecstatic. They wanted to play again (just not that night since it was late).
There were a few points that came out, mostly on changing the player cards…something I was planning to do anyways. And when I said what I planned to do with them, it was exactly what the female player was looking for.
There was one issue with the night though. After the party died, my wife wouldn’t stop commenting on how Hayden could have survived that. Hayden could have killed them all. And a few other Hayden comments. Despite how good the archer she played was, she really wanted Hayden. Lesson learned: let the wife play the angry berserker in the game and not in the house.
Hopefully this was inspiring for you. If nothing else, I might be asking some folks for help in trying out these rules once I get the more clearly written and the products a bit better. Hopefully this inspires you to want to give it a try. Don’t worry, the Hirst Arts dungeon is optional.
I have been slowly plugging away at my library and I have a few updates that are worth showing I think.
First I now have 3 completed bookcases:
The books of different sizes and the scrolls add a bit of variety I think. Again, simple wood wrapped in card for the books. The scrolls are paper strips tightly rolled with a tiny dab of superglue to bond them. The crystal ball is a Hirst Arts bit.
Combined with a few other pieces, the library now looks a bit more library-ish.
The tables and benches are again Hirst Arts bits. The map is actually a fantasy map I found online and shrunk down and printed off. It is Alithan by the artist Luned.
The frame got a bit more distressed than I intended but a bit of drybrushing should hopefully help. It obviously will be mounted on the wall once the library floors and walls are painted.
Of course the action shot ties it all together.
A second update for today, but hopefully no less inspirational. I know I have been inspired watching this project come together piece by piece and I am excited to see this piece finished.