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Archive for July, 2010

How We Roll: Accessories

July 25, 2010 1 comment

For this entry I had hoped to provide a thorough and well rounded accounting of resources for you to build a flexible and diverse set of minis that would not only add style to your tabletop but spark the players’ imaginations for creative use of environment and terrain. Alas, it is not to be. The problem? For affordable, quality accessories, there simply are few to none to be had. During my research for this article I discovered that the small set of useful items that I do possess were gained out of pure dumb luck or misguided and expensive forays into other games that I’ve never used for their originally intended purpose.

That said, I have a very few key pieces that you should keep your eye out for – and a couple of resources to point you toward depending on the size of your wallet and your skill at painting.

I have made one, count ’em one, purchase of Dwarven Forge merchandise and it was this – their accessories kit complete with bed palettes, crates, barrels, sacks  and urns. The quality of these resin figures is astounding, though I doubt I would have even these if it wasn’t for a going out of business sale at a Wizards of the Coast shop at my local mall. What cost me $12 will now put you back $35 – ouch!

The tables were from Wizards’ Harrowing Halls 3-D tile set and were probably the most useful items in it. But there were only three included.

The door standees are from the ‘Descent: Journeys in the Dark’ board game by Fantasy Flight Games. Trust me, you don’t want to lay out this much cash unless you’re really interested in playing the board game too. Back in the day, Hero Quest and Mage Knight had some great doors and other accessories, but collectors have generally priced these out of the market.

Yet all is not lost. If you have a steady hand you can score some nice unpainted accessories from Naloomi’s Workshop or for the real do-it-yourself folks, plaster molds from Hirst Arts. For a few bucks and the price of materials, you can have all the accessories you like!

One final thought – bottle caps. Be observant and you may come across some with very interesting and useful graphics, like these. Oh and it was nice to find that they are almost all about 1″ square.

In any case, be on the lookout for useful props for your games – and if you come across something useful that doesn’t break the bank, by all means grab it! Trust me, affordable finds in this area are too few and too far between.

Thunderspire Labyrinth – Part Four

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

For our fourth session in the great underground labyrinth of the minotaurs, Gorn and his companions breach the very gates of the Horned Hall. Aramil puts his eladrin teleport ability to precise use to flash beyond the guarded gates. Anatole, the party’s wizard, inflicts a tremendous amount of damage on an ogre and his four orc team by launching a fireball into their midst and following it up with an action point and flaming sphere. In the great final battle, the group defeats Murklumor and his spiny devils and rescues a few slaves.

As always, all downloads are posted in the box.net widget in the sidebar to the right. Pop on over there and download “Thunderspire Campaign Newsletter Vol 4!” Or see all files available for download and grab them from here.

Textures: Wet Sand

July 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, it looks like this entry achieves a triplet of thirds. This is my third texture entry right after the Level 3 entry for my wizard and the third installment of the Thunderspire Labyrinth campaign. You would have thought I planned it.

This is the last of the Costa Rica textures (sorry, all my other shots include volcanoes, surf and monkeys – with a judicious smattering of hammocks). This shot was taken straight down at a section of packed sand on the beach. It also has a concrete kind of look that may come in handy. It would be a good general purpose background for any number of things (messages in the sand, anyone?) or could be overlaid with a metal door to give that great apocalyptic sci-fi bunker feel.

Feel free to download and use these textures as you see fit – just do me a favor and refer your friends here if you get the chance.

The full size image is available as Wet Sand.jpg from the box.net widget in the sidebar. Or see all files available for download and grab them from here.

Tuning the 4E Wizard – Level 3

July 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I played Bayne again in our 4E D&D session on Friday. It was a marathon session this week that went well past midnight. Good news! He made level 3 (by a long shot).

This week the DM had wised up to how painful it can be to cluster enemies together so I had to adjust tactics a bit. More often than not I had to start an encounter with Thunderwave to cluster the enemies. Recall that Thunderwave has a push effect that can be used to slide a foe or two beside a couple of their evil cohorts. Unfortunately it is a hit affect, so if you miss a baddie then he gets left out of the future fun. It takes some pretty creative positioning to get off these area effect spells without tagging a PC, especially given the close blast nature of Thunderwave – it kind of feels like positioning a knight in chess.

Once clustered, I would blow an Action Point and follow with the standard Scorching Burst (if there was a follow-up chance of capitalizing on Bayne’s specialty of imposing cold vulnerability – see earlier posts on this topic) or jump the gun and lay down Icy Terrain to knock prone the previously pushed targets (if Bayne’s allies needed a bit of breathing room). And they did.

So what to do at this next level? At level 3 some great powers come into play. I had to make a difficult choice between Fire Shroud (an AoE DoT), Icy Rays (Chill Strike on steroids, as it targets two foes), and Color Spray (a crowd control spell attacking Will, and one of the few Will targeting spells). Recall that with the Tome of Readiness, I can grab two of the three but I’ll need to drop the level one encounter already loaded in there – which is exactly what I did. Goodbye Chill Strike, hello Icy Rays and Fire Shroud. I went with Fire Shroud purely for thematic reasons – I’ll retrain if it doesn’t work out. I kept the level one power, Icy Terrain for it’s great crowd control.

I regret leaving behind Color Spray, but what’s a caster to do? I’m still liking the variety and spell flexibility of this guy – Tome of Readiness rocks!

Textures: Ferns

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Another texture image from Costa Rica. This one is all organic from a hanging fern my daughter and I found behind a waterfall near Big Trout Lake at the La Paz Waterfall Garden. For this one, imagine the party pushing aside the rain forest’s thick foliage to enter a hidden cavern system – either that or a dragon size side salad.

The full size image is available as Ferns.jpg from the box.net widget in the sidebar. Or see all files available for download and grab them from here.

Textures: Stone & Moss

July 13, 2010 Leave a comment

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I enjoy finding and photographing interesting textures. My inspiration actually came from a great grunge texture site www.bittbox.com. BittBox has a ton of great textures that work well as backdrops for handouts, overlays for cardstock structures, or simply to use as a quick pic to facilitate describing a new environment.

In the same vein, here is a texture I photographed while at La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica. I like the contrast of the organic moss against the lifeless stone. The next time you drag your PCs into a overgrown ruin, considering whipping this out to help set the proper mood.

If you like this texture, a larger file is included in the box.net widget in the sidebar. Or see all files available for download and grab them from here.

Thunderspire Labyrinth – Part the Third

July 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Back from vacation and it is good to be back!

While in Costa Rica, I grabbed some neat shots of stone and moss that gave a suitable dungeon feel. Since I’m a fan a graphics and textures, look forward to an inspirational shot or two that you can use in your own games as backdrops or for messages. In the meantime, following is the third installment of our latest campaign.

For our third session in the great underground labyrinth of the minotaurs, Gorn and his companions storm the gates of the Horned Hall. Along the way they defeat the captain of the orc guard, Erwall, and the duergar boss, Rundar. Delfin, the rogue in our party, used an enemy positioning effect to push Erwall into his own shard storm, thereby forcing him to drop the area effect – a brilliant move that neatly nullified a problematic obstacle.

As always, all downloads are posted in the box.net widget in the sidebar to the right. Pop on over there and download “Thunderspire Campaign Newsletter Vol 3!” Or see all files available for download and grab them from here.