Thursday, March 29, 2012

Board Game: The Legend of Drizzt

About a year ago I posted about D&D's Wrath of Ashardalon board game.  It's one of a series of D&D board games, based on a very simplified version of 4e's rules.  The series also includes Castle Ravenloft, and most recently, The Legend of Drizzt.

I'm not exactly sure what made me buy the Drizzt game.  I really liked that time I played Ashardalon, and I've read most of the Drizzt books (though I'm definitely not a Drizzt fanboy), and I felt this would be fun to play with certain friends who don't have time to commit to a full campaign.  This series of games is fairly expensive, though to be fair they include a lot of little pieces.  Each game sells for around $65 when they're first released, but if you look hard enough (or wait long enough), you can find them for around $35-$40.  I was leery about spending the money, but I'm not disappointed by my purchase.

I haven't played enough of the other two to really compare them, but from what I've read, there's a bit of "power creep" in this one.  The player characters are a bit more powerful, especially Drizzt himself.  The PC selection has all the major characters from the series: Drizzt, Bruenor, Regis, Catti-Brie, Wulfgar, Artemis Entreri, Jarlaxle, and Athrogate.  Jarlaxle and Artemis can be used as heroes or villains, depending on the scenario.  

I do have one issue with the playable characters: the class selection doesn't feel varied enough.  They spent so much time staying true to the books, that they didn't fill out the standard "Fighter/Cleric/Rogue/Wizard" combo you see in more generic games.  On the other hand, these games are meant to be somewhat interchangeable, so they might be assuming I already own the other two.

If you enjoyed the Drizzt books, you'll probably have fun playing through the included scenarios, most of which are based on actual events from the series.  We have Drizzt escaping from the Underdark, Bruenor searching for Mithril Hall while Artemis Entreri hunts Regis, fighting the dragon Shimmergloom, Drow from Drizzt's past trying to hunt him down, freeing Wulfgar from the demon Errtu, and so on.  Most of the scenarios follow the same format; you keep drawing tiles/monsters until that adventure's boss appears, and you defeat him to win.  But some of them simply have you trying to escape, or even have you competing against the other players to kill the most monsters.

Some Pix:

Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle


Yochlol, Matron Mother Yvonnel Baenre, and Methil El-Viddenvelp the Mind Flayer

Regis, Bruenor, Drizzt, Catti-Brie, and Wulfgar

Drider and Drow

The Demon Errtu

Shimmergloom the Dragon

Trolls and Goblins

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Unlikely Heroes: Fall of the Wilden

Game Date: 3/24/2012
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Derp DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Flora Oakwillow (Matt): Hamadryad Seeker
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Lokang (Ted): Goliath Barbarian
Marrick (Greg): Dwarf Knight
Nementah (Ted): Wilden Druid
Starr (Star): Eladrin Paladin

The Session:
We left off in the dungeon under the Dwarven Monastery.  Today's session was mostly combat, as we cleared out more rooms of the dungeon.

First we entered a safe-looking room.  Nementah, showing no Genre Savviness whatsoever, stepped on in and was immediately cut down by a scythe blade trap.  Starr was knocked down as well, so we started this combat at a disadvantage.  We were attacked by 6 undead (2 Ghouls and 4 dog-like creatures called  Festrogs).  Also, two statues in the room turned out to be turrets, firing deadly projectiles at us.

"Ted's dead, baby.  Ted's dead."
It was a tough battle, and several jokes were made about the possibility of a TPK.  But we made it through.... except for Nementah, who died from massive damage, becoming one of the most short-lived characters in the campaign.  After the undead were destroyed we still had to take out the turrets.  Then we took an extended rest before going any further.

Next, our DM took the time to draw out a large, detailed central room.  But instead of exploring it we immediately took one of the side passages.  In a pile of rubble, Flora found a small darkwood sculpture of a fly.  It turned out to be an Ebony Fly, which can summon a giant fly mount.  We gave it to Keyanna for now.

Down one hallway we heard the sounds of suffering.  Peeking into a large room, we saw several undead creatures pushing prisoners into a pit.  We fought more Ghasts, Festrogs, and a "Bloody Bones" (a tentacled undead like the one we fought last session).  Shortly into the fight, a statue of Ioun came to life, becoming Ted's new character Lokang.  He charged into battle, fumbling his first attack roll and hitting himself for 26 damage.  It was an embarrassing start, but from then on he proved to be a worthy striker.

Orcus represents the pit full of writhing undead.
Even though there were more monsters in this encounter than the last, we performed much better and managed to take out our enemies without any further loss of Ted.  Once the coast was clear, we tried to rescue the prisoners, but they were beyond our help.  They were all diseased, and we had no way of curing them.  We offered to take them back to town, but they wouldn't have survived the journey.  In the end, all we could offer them was a quick death.

We continued exploring hallways.  Marrick noticed that this dungeon seemed to be of human construction, which was odd since it was under a Dwarven monastery.  At the end of one corridor was a door with prayers carved on it.  Inside we found an evil shrine, occupied by an undead mystic named Hymmir.

Six against one.  No sweat!
Hymmir had the ability to counter-attack whenever he was hit by a melee attack.  Nevertheless, he didn't give us too much trouble, and we defeated him quickly.  Then we purged the shrine with fire, took a short rest, and ended the session.

This didn't happen.  Maybe next session.

Orcus: Prince of Undeath

No big story here, I just wanted to show off my newest mini.  (If you can really call it a "mini".) I'd wanted Orcus for a while, and my wonderful spouse got a bonus at work, so she decided to treat me.

My only complaint is that it's not quite as big as I thought it was.  I had seen it on the shelves before, but I'd never really looked at it in person.  Orcus has a 4x4 base, the same size as the Gargantuan White, Blue, and Black Dragon minis.  But it's usually priced more closely to the 8x8 Colossal Red Dragon.  Still, I love the sculpt and I don't regret the purchase one bit.  Especially since I'm not the one who paid for it.

Click the pics to see them full size.

Orcus: Prince of Undeath

Orcus shows off his good side.

Size Comparison: Orcus, Colossal Red Dragon, and Gargantuan Blue Dragon

Orcus and his Undead Minions

Is it hot in here or is it just me?

Orcus Smash!

For the record, "Wanna see my Gargantuan Orcus" is not a good pickup line.

Fire bad!

A face not even a mother could love.

A Study In Red

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Traveller: Character Creation

Our current D&D campaign only has a handful of sessions left, and we've been thinking about what to do next.  We've decided to play Traveller.  It's a sci-fi RPG with a flavor that has been compared to Firefly.  Today we planned to spend a couple of hours before our D&D session working on our upcoming Traveller characters.  However, time got away from us and we spent the entire session planning our party.

Traveller's character creation is quite different from what I'm used to.  You add to your career path in four-year increments, and at any point you can quit with what you've got, or add another four years to your background.  Depending on how well you roll, adding more to your background could give you more skills, starting money, and other benefits.  But you also risk getting in accidents resulting in lost limbs and other injuries.  So it's a bit of a gamble building an experienced character.  But we're lucky - in older editions you could actually die during character creation.

So we got the basics of character creation out of the way, though we still need to think about our characters' personalities and other fluffy details.  Looks like we have a noble, a marine, a scout, a pilot, a medic... and me.  My character doesn't excel at much, and will probably serve as the group's comic relief.  She chose three career paths - Scholar (Field Researcher), Drifter (Barbarian), and Citizen (Colonist).  All three ended with an accident.  As a result, she is missing an eye and has very low Strength and Dexterity scores. So I've decided my character is accident prone.

So here's what I'm looking at so far:

Name: Malta Klonk
Age: 30
Race: Human
Homeworld: Tanoose
Str 1, Dex 2, End 8, Int 6, Edu 10, Soc 7
Advocate 0, Comms 0, Computers 1, Diplomat 0, Engineer 2, Investigate 0, Medic 0, Phsyical Sciences 0, Sensors 1, Space Sciences 0, Stealth 1, Steward 0, Survival 0, Vacc Suit 0

 Career Path
1 (4 years): Scholar (Field Researcher), Accident: Nearly killed
2 (4 years): Drifter (Barbarian), Minor Accident: Lightly injured
3 (4 years): Citizen (Colonist), Accident: Lost eye

Early life:
Early on, Malta's parents noticed her propensity for tripping over her own feet and walking into walls, so they encouraged her to excel at non-physical activity.  Any time she tried to engage in exercise, they said, "Wouldn't you rather be on the computer than to go outdoors?"  Therefore she put all of her efforts into her studies at school. 

Career 1 (4 years): Scholar (Field Researcher), Accident: Nearly killed
Upon reaching adulthood, Malta joined the crew of a deep space research vessel, assigned to study space anomalies. A few years in, she became romantically involved with a fellow crew member.  The rotating duty roster meant that occasionally the two were assigned to man the bridge together while the rest of the crew slept.  One shift things got a bit amorous, and they made out in various locations around the bridge.  At one point Malta sat on one of the control panels, and somehow locked the ship into a collision course with a nearby moon.

The alarms woke up the rest of the crew, who rushed to the escape pods.  Malta herself also tried to get to a pod, but accidentally locked herself in a bathroom instead.  Meanwhile, her boyfriend stayed on the bridge and attempted to unlock the controls.  He managed to recover control with seconds to spare, but for Malta's career the damage had already been done.  For risking the lives of the crew, and the expense of recalling the escape pods, Malta was in a world of trouble.

She was thrown off the research team and blacklisted from similar projects.  Her boyfriend would have nothing more to do with her, and she was forever known as "that girl who can crash spaceships with her butt."  In some circles, the name "Klonk" is still used as derogatory slang, as in, "You really klonked up; get your head out of your klonk!"  With all her life's dreams crashing around her, she decided she needed a fresh start.

Career 2 (4 years): Drifter (Barbarian), Minor Accident: Lightly injured
Malta was now on the run from her embarrassing reputation, so she decided to go off the grid for a while.  On one planet she found a small society of people who were living as simply as possible.  They were aware of modern technology, but rejected it in favor of spiritualism and "the old ways".  Malta missed computers and indoor plumbing, but she couldn't deny it was a less stressful life.  She still wasn't particularly graceful, but the other villagers were tolerant of her bumbling antics.  Forgiveness was in their nature, and besides, how much damage could she really do without sophisticated machinery?

Well, over the next four years, they found out. It's hard to say exactly which accident led to her expulsion from the community.  It might have been when she accidentally she mixed the Town Elder's ceremonial staff in with the firewood.   But it's more likely because the fire she started with that staff also burned down the town hall.  But let's not dwell on particulars.  She was banished from the community, and took the next opportunity to leave the planet.

Career 3 (4 years): Citizen (Colonist), Accident: Lost eye
By this point her accident on the research station was nothing more than an urban legend.  She had the opportunity to throw in with a small colony attempting to seed a new world.  Malta was glad to see higher technology again, in an environment where her name wasn't a running joke.  She became the personal assistant to one of the colony leaders.  By being extra careful, she managed to get through the next few years without any major embarrassments.

And then she had one really bad day. First, she spilled coffee in her boss's lap.  While trying to help him, she somehow stapled his tie to his desk.  Unable to tear the fabric or remove the staple, her next thought was to cut off his tie.  She ran to the supply closet to grab some scissors, and in her rush to get back she forgot one of the first lessons most people learn in childhood...

She awoke in a Navy hospital ship, headed away from the colony.  She had lost her left eye, and had been asked not to return to the colony.  Now she's a drifter once again, looking for purpose in life.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Unlikely Heroes: That's Enough Zombies, Thank You

Game Date: 3/3/2012
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Derp DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Flora Oakwillow (Matt): Hamadryad Seeker
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Marrick (Greg): Dwarf Knight
Nementah (Ted):  Wilden Druid
Starr (Star): Eladrin Paladin

The Session:
Last session ended with a horde of undead swarming the walls of Falcon's Hollow.  Our heroes managed to defeat the first wave of zombies before ending the session.  Today we jumped right into the action, standing outside the city walls, ready to take on the next part of the mob.

The second wave was mostly normal zombies, and a couple of ghouls.  We had a fair number of lumberjacks helping us, but they were fragile and easily defeated.  Still, they managed to hold off one group of zombies while we took care of the other, preventing us from getting too overwhelmed.  Nevertheless, it was a difficult battle.

Flora uses a daily that creates a zone of difficult terrain.
No sooner had we finished off the second wave, when the third wave approached.  This time there were three groups, and a few more lumberjacks joined us.  Once again, the lumberjack held off one group, while we handled another.  The third group was too far away for us to prevent from getting into the city.  Some of the group the lumberjacks were fighting also managed to climb over the town walls.

Keyanna fumbles a spell, creating a superzombie.
The final wave consisted only of zombie minions, but there were tons of them.  Even more managed to get past us into town, and Nementah was nearly killed by the swarm.  It took a while, but we finally wiped out the zombies outside, and we took a well-deserved rest by the gate.

This party needs more AOE spells.
Counting all the waves together, it was probably the longest D&D encounter I've been in.  We didn't get to take any rests between waves.  I think the scariest part of the battle was not the zombies themselves, but when the DM - who put these encounters together - asked us, "You guys are level 6, right?"  (We're level 4.)  Of course, he might have been joking... maybe?

The forces inside the gates had managed to take care of the undead that had breached the walls.  The sheriff, the cleric, and Payday (no, this isn't the setup to a bad joke) came outside to thank us.  They told us that they didn't recognize these zombies (that is, they didn't look like any dead people they had known when alive), and we agreed to check out the local cemetery.  But first we took an overnight rest at our keep, and replenished our supply of healing potions.

The next morning we set out for the cemetery, guided by Verrin, the graveyard's caretaker.  As we reached Verrin's cabin, he noticed that his door was open. Marrick stepped up to check it out.  He entered the dark room and was attacked by... a raccoon, which he deftly grabbed and tossed out of the cabin.  Verrin then broke down in tears (he'd lost his mule during the zombie attacks).  We checked out the graveyard itself.

There were about twenty open graves, not nearly enough to account for the swarms we'd fought the night before.  We looked closely at the zombie tracks, and saw something interesting.  Most of the tracks came from farther away, passing through the cemetery and proceeding to town.  However, the tracks that originated from this graveyard did not head to town, and went North instead. 

We followed the zombie tracks, into a part of the forest that made Flora nervous.  The party came across a few animals that looked like they'd been killed by ghouls.  Finally we realized that the tracks were headed towards the Dwarven Monastery our original party had explored all those sessions ago.  As we reached the monastery, we noticed a wolf staring at us.  We started to ignore it and head on in, when the wolf asked us to stop.  We don't see a lot of talking wolves, so we listened to what it had to say.

He said his name was Lucimar, and that he was a friend of the Druid that used to watch this area.  He warned us that a great evil had been awakened in the bowels of the monastery. Of course, that just made us want to in go in more.  Marrick asked the wolf to watch over Verrin for us, and we proceeded into the monastery.  We followed the zombie tracks until we reached a large hole.

Derp used his Boots of Climbing to go down the hole.  He was soon startled when some eyes opened up on the walls.  Then he saw movement in the water below.  As the party began climbing (and sometimes falling) down into the hole, we found ourselves fighting three tentacles sticking out of the water.

I've seen enough hentai to know where this is going.
Nementah was grabbed and gnawed on a little, taking the most damage this battle.  Finally we killed the last one, and took a short rest in the adjoining hallway.  And that's where we ended the session.

This was my first time playing a Seeker.  I've read that the class sucks, and nothing I've seen so far really changes that perception.  At first glance Flora looks like a Striker who can't do much damage, but really she's a Controller who can't control anything.  She's not tough at all, so I have to play her a little bit cowardly just to stay on my feet.  I don't like that, but I can't help the party at all if I'm dead.

But despite her mechanical shortcomings, I really like this character.  She has a lot of interesting flavor.  With Dalia (my last character), I wrote a fair-sized backstory and never really touched on any of it during the game.  Meanwhile, Flora has a paper-thin backstory, and one look tells you everything you need to know about her. And yet, Flora feels deeper than Dalia, because her details fit into the story better.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Character - Flora

This is my newest character in the "Unlikely Heroes of Darkmoon Vale" campaign.

Full Name:
Flora Oakwillow






Animal Companion:
"Fauna", Displacer Beast

Flora is one of many Fey creatures that protect the forests of  Darkmoon Vale.  Ever since she was a sapling, she has lived in the woods near Falcon's Hollow.  After the Unlikely Heroes defeated the evil fey at the nightmarish carnival, the Fey Queen requested that Flora serve them as a reward.  At first Flora wasn't sure about leaving her home to go off with these people she didn't know.  But she always obeys the Fey Queen's orders, so she made like a tree and, um, left.

Personality, Mannerisms, and Appearance:
Flora is often intrigued by the odd behavior of "civilized" humanoids, and this curiosity led her to accept duties closer to society.  However, she fears traveling too far from the forest (after all, she has roots there).  Flora loves nature and protects plant life whenever she can.  She has an extreme fear of fire, and isn't particularly fond of termites.  Her hobbies include gardening, archery, hiking, exploration, and standing perfectly still in the sun for long periods of time.  She often travels with her pet Displacer Beast, Fauna.

As a Hamadryad, Flora's appearance changes somewhat depending on what aspect she chooses to present.  At times she looks like a beautiful young nymph with flowers in her hair.  Other times she looks like she is carved from wood, to the point where she can be mistaken for a wooden mannequin if she stands still.

Creating this character:
After Dalia died, Rusty and I tossed a lot of ideas back and forth, and discussed which classes we hadn't seen played very often.  Neither of us could remember seeing anyone play a Seeker, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Since then I've done a little research, and found out just why Seekers aren't very popular.  They're not particularly powerful or effective, and there hasn't been a lot of support for them in the splatbooks.  But I've never been much of an min-maxer, so I don't mind.  Unlike my last group, this one doesn't have a judgmental optimizer who questions everyone's design choices.  It's nice to have the freedom to play a character built with roleplay in mind.  Flora's not necessarily a class the party really needs at the moment, but I hope she at least makes things interesting. 

Regarding race, I've always wanted to play some sort of fey creature.  We had just finished dealing with the Fey Queen, so this was a good time for a fey character to enter the party. 

Mini - Nentyar Hunter (Underdark #20/60)