Thursday, May 31, 2012

Boss Fights!

I know my posting is sparse, but I console myself in knowing that I haven't been writing about gaming because I've been too busy playing games!

Our "group one" game happened two weeks ago and it was fantastic. Blanklee, Karl and Gertrude have continued their journey toward the Sunderforge, where they hope to destroy a fiendish artifact. They stopped off for a brief moment at a grey elf settlement, where they were to meet an an emissary of the red elves - who was waiting for them. He would escort them through the Weirdwood: the warped and haunted remains of the once great red elf forest.

Unfortunately for them, the settlement had been overrun by a band of demons summoned to hunt down the party and take Blanklee to hell. They faced off against a horde of lesser demons, defeated a fiend hunter who had been tracking them for days, helped out the remaining townsfolk and finally destroyed the demon leader, a terrible vrock by the name of Gul'tuch.

The players facing off against a group of dretches. (no dretch figs, settled for slaves)

While the game itself was fun as normal, the players made it really clear that the boss fight was the cherry on the sundae. I had done my best to build a little suspense. NPC's warned them of the vicious creature ahead, and since even the minions were no pushover, the party had some real fear running through their veins. For the first time among this group of players, I actually heard them utter, "You know, we got what we came here for, we can just leave and not mess with whatever's behind that door."

Fortunately, they decided to stay. They couldn't let this monster kill the rest of the townspeople. They buffed up with spells (something they almost never do!) and kicked in the door, steel swinging. The fight went pretty much as planned. There were two human/fiend minions in the room with the vrock; one to act as healer and the other as a diversion. Two players went after the bait while the rogue pursued the healer. Meanwhile, the Vrock began a strange and violent dance in the center of the room. As the two minions fell, the Dance of Ruin completed, blasting the room with damage and nearly destroying Alvi (the NPC cleric and unofficial group mascot) in the process. The party rallied themselves, healed their wounds and threw themselves against the creature. While they did take a fair amount of damage, a series of incredibly lucky saving throws allowed them to win the day with no casualties!

In other news, my good friend Jim -player of Blanklee- has started his own figure wall project. A few months ago I discussed my process of using old typesetting drawers to display my minis and Jim has started his own similar similar project. Below is a preview of whats to come!

At the top is a troll he just started working on. It'll look totally badass when finished.

Until next time, happy gaming!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Favorite Monsters: The Otyugh

We had a great, I mean GREAT game this weekend, which I hope to touch upon tomorrow. Tonight however, I would like to discuss one of my favorite monsters: the Otyugh!

What could possibly be so disgusting even an Otyugh has to facepalm?

Squat, hideous, tentacled, sharp toothed and repugnant of odor, the otyugh is everything a dungeon monster should be. They feed primarily on the refuse and decaying matter found in dungeons. Bodies, garbage, offal and other viscera are delicacies to these filthy creatures. Upon discovery of their tendency to eat "unwanted leavings," my gaming group bequeathed otyughs the dubious title of "sh** monsters." Since then the lowly otyugh has become somewhat of a party mascot, appearing as often as possible - and with such memorable names as 'Engelfart Humperstink.' 

 "If you excrete it, I can eat it!" This is my otyugh mini. I confess, there's a few corn kernels on the back side.

While they eat carrion and feature all of the great 'monstery' qualities, my favorite aspect of the otyugh is that for the most part they are pretty laid back dudes. They aren't evil, in fact, more often than not they are neutral. And better than that? They don't howl and shriek, but are capable of regular conversation. Otyughs frequently make deals with dungeon dwellers, exchanging protection services for payment in... well.. you know...


Fortunately for the world at large, otyughs are mostly solitary. I don't think an otyugh society would be enjoyable for anyone and I shudder to think of their system of currency. So next time you need a spare monster to drop into a dungeon, don't forget the good old otyugh! Personally, I'm thinking of a quest revolving around a mid-level otyugh ranger NPC. The possibilities are endless!

Until next time, happy gaming! 

 Bonus picture! A close friend of mine (and player of games) started this giant purple worm about two weeks ago which I finished up for him. That's teamwork!

Friday, May 11, 2012

No Thank You: Geek Culture

The phrase "Geek Culture" lives in a special place in my heart. A seething, angry and dark place full of hatred. In fact, I hate all of the negative words associated with the culture such as nerd, dork etc. I do not embrace it as a badge of honor or as some backwards way to get back at "the man." When confronted with accusations of geekery I am the first and usually loudest to respond. My original gaming blog was titled "Orcs and Dorks," and it took some time to realize why I hated the name.

I... We are not geeks, nerds or dorks. While I sometimes use the word gamer, I don't need a label to tell the world who I am. I am so much more than the hobbies I participate in. If I was forced to label myself I would say that I am a hard worker, a dedicated husband, a good friend, an artist and a player of games. Only when we sit around the table -dice in hand- do I become the GM. The Game Master; a title in my eyes, not a label.

I bring this up because of recent observations out in the real world. I talk about gaming anywhere, and to anyone. I love to convert the skeptical or the naysayers into supporters and players. We've got so many people hooked on games at work that it's a regular topic of conversation. If we aren't talking about Pathfinder, we're playing Kittens in a Blender at lunch and when we aren't doing that, we're playing trivia. It's a nice feeling to walk into the break room and hear a sixty year old master plumber or electrician hopefully ask, "Hey are you guys doing trivia today?" I don't sit and look at the 'cool table' in the lunch room, wishing I was there. I run the cool table.

Today's game, circa 1984.

I worry that the embrace of the so called geek culture is just a trend - and trends change with time. Fantasy and sci-fi might be popular teefury shirts topics right now, but who's to say how long that will last? Dr. Who and Game of Thrones will eventually run their course. Harry Potter has been dethroned and Skyrim will eventually take that final arrow to the... never mind.

Take heart though. This post isn't some message of anger and impending doom. Just my opinion and some advice. Don't keep your hobbies hidden away in the metaphorical dungeon. Embrace them, talk about them and ask other people if they would be interested. In my experience table top gaming is not very friendly to newcomers, or people who are interested but don't know where to start. It's hard to start playing D&D if you've never played it before and sometimes a friendly face makes all the difference. If you play in a game/hobby shop and see some lone guy or gal wandering around, glancing at the tables invite them over! Use Craigslist, Meetup or even Facebook to link up with other gamers. And while I've never been a fan of trends and bandwagons, I'll be damned if I don't use Game of Thrones as a jumping point to get people into gaming.

 Behipster's head may just explode from irony overload.

I often fantasize about owning a game shop - and during those daydreams I don't imagine it filled with the stereotypical nerds we've come to expect from TV; but people of all races, ages, genders and social circles. Entertainment that is open to everyone and no one has to keep it as a secret hobby or describe it as "that one nerdy thing I do." When I look at the folks I game with I don't see gamers, I see friends and not one of them fits into the mold of a geek.

I'm currently planning a series of "First Timers" games to run in a few months time. Pre-written games with premade and easy to understand character sheets for folks who have never played before. A casual rpg experience just for the fun of playing and I'm happy to say that I've already received lots of interest from prospective players. My goal is not to start a new group, I've got more than enough games on my plate at the moment. My goal is to spark interest and encourage others to start their own gaming circles.

An early photo of Jeff.

I would like to finish this up by talking about a friend of mine. Really he is the reason behind this post in the first place. Jeff is a coworker and friend who is from a generation far older than myself. I'm not exactly sure how old, the lab hasn't sent back the carbon dating reports yet. Jeff is by no means a table top game player, although he does love trivia. If I mentioned gaming a year ago it's something he would laugh at and poke fun of; but today on my way out the door something surprising happened. I told him to have a good weekend and he wished me the same but followed it up with, "I heard you have a big game this weekend, have fun!" 

I mark that up as a victory in my book.

p.s. On a side note, if someone does give you grief about gaming, stand up for yourself! You can always ask them how many hours they waste in front of Modern Warfare 3.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How Much is TOO much?

Things are moving along slowly with our remodel and I apologize for the lack of posting (and reading!), but sometimes life has to take the driver seat.

Although I do want to talk about something to get my regular gaming fix.

I am fortunate enough to work with quite a few table top gamers, some long time players and others converted by myself, so many of our workplace conversations revolve around gaming culture. It was during one such conversation that got me thinking about out of this world characters.

I like to consider myself an open minded GM, allowing players to field many of their crazy ideas in our campaign world. Split personality? Sure. A character who secretly commits crimes so the party has something to solve? No problemo. A mute? Good luck, but okay. Lizardman Shaman who fuels his magic by consuming the hearts of humanoids? Go for it!

Where do you draw the line, if you draw one at all? I recently had a discussion about creating a male werefox wildmage who shoots spells from a rifle instead of regular casting. A sort of lycanthrope casting sniper. While the conversation was kind of theoretical, I could tell the player had put a lot of thought into it, and as a character it isn't a bad idea. Unfortunately it doesn't fit anywhere into our game world.

I am super tired, so I'll be cutting this short. But my question to other GMs out there is, "What crazy things have you allowed and when have you put your foot down and just said 'No.'?"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I'm STILL not dead! lus Reaper bones!

Things are moving along with our home renovation, unfortunately we are pretty much confined to living in one room of our house and that does not make for a very inspiring atmosphere gaming-wise. I also think all the junk food is starting to get to me. Without a kitchen or even the room to use a hot plate we have been eating out a lot more than I'd like to.

I have logged some time on Skyrim which has been enjoyable and Tom came over last Saturday for a mini painting session.

And he brought a special surprise!

He came over with a few figures from Reaper Miniatures "Bones" line.

Reaper is by far my favorite mini producer. I shudder to think how much money they've taken from me but every figure is great and I have no regrets. I still remember leafing through my first Reaper catalog, drooling at the metal madness within those pages.

The new figures in their "Bones" collection are not new, they are figures from their normal line cast in plastic and EXTREMELY inexpensive. The details are not quite what you see in the metal figures but they are detailed enough, durable and did I mention... cheap?!

My only gripe is the "no priming"claim they push on their videos. Tom and myself opened them right away and went straight to painting. We hold the figures with our fingers instead of a small stand and found that the paint rubbed off very easily from normal handling, as such, I recommend priming or dulcote before painting.

All in all, they are a great value and I recommend checking them out at!

Until next time, Happy Gaming!