Sunday, November 25, 2018

Frostgrave Cemetery Graves

Frostgrave Cemetery
Welcome to the graveyard, we got snow and graves.
I had a bag full of old gravestones, so I decided to make a graveyard.  You know what they say.  When life gives you a bag of gravestones, make a graveyard.

Frostgrave Cemetery Materials
...wherein we totally ignore the lines we drew...
 So, I got my graves and with some foamcore and a small piece of scrap foam I set out to build a set for a cemetery.    I decided to use foamcore as it seemed to work nicely on the other pieces of terrain.  I knew what i was looking for...four smaller pieces and one larger one.

Frostgrave Cemetery Build
You're gonna need about 1" per body, Mister.
 One piece would have the larger grave, which is a Buzzy miniature from Reaper Bones.  It comes with a Mr. Bones figure as a pack.  It will be a pretty impressive tombstone for some unlucky sod...

Frostgrave Cemetery Build 2
All your stones in a row...
I cut a piece of foam to make a few small rises, for no good reason other than I thought it looked cool.  Once they were glued in place, I gave the whole base a good coat of acrylic brown.  After that, I decided to try a method I used on my daughter's tundra science project and put the snow down first.

Frostgrave Cemetery Graves
I know the names are sophomoric but I don't care.  I really couldn't help myself.
It had snowed here the day before and my yard looked like a sodden mess.  I wanted to try somethings with realistic water, and would use the snow to create bowls for icy puddles.  Using some flock, realistic water and some Winter Tufts from Army Painter I tried to get a blend that looked like the puddles in the melting snow, with some ice around the edges.

Frostgrave Cemetery Graves
That snow is turned to mush in the sun.
More precautions will be taken next time but it didn't look so different from the yard.  These took only a short time to make, and fill out a good portion of the board.  Gravestones can be claimed as cover by infantry, and if it's icy / muddy it also can be difficult terrain.

Frostgrave Cemetery Large Headstone
Alas, poor Buster...we hardly knew ye.
The set actually ends up providing a nice set of obstacles and cover.  The large one obscures line of sight in a most inconvenient way.  Together the whole set has a footprint of about 15-25% of the three foot board depending on how closely they are spaced.  The cemetery graves is the second section of the graveyard, the first one being the gates and the last one the mausoleum.  These graves will be the meat of that setup, and they look great on the board!

Frostgrave Cemetery Battle
As the Ghostmist falls on the tundra, rival warbands fight over the graves of those long dead.

Expect the Meta

Psychics become psychics because the reptilians don't eat psychics.
Inspirobot eats reptilians.  NOT humans.
Well, we did it.  It's been a few years since D&D went mainstream, and now there's a new set of things we need to be aware of.  Mainly, mainstreamers playing the game and developing 'video game syndrome'.  You know what I'm talking about, but it might be more subtle than you think.

I think I need to define what I mean by 'meta' gaming here.  I think there's two main school divisions as to what is meta, at least two that I can discern.  One is the number-crunching and exploitation of the mechanics, so called min-maxing.  The second is actually reading 'game' material that doesn't have numbers, from monster information to the actual adventure.  I'll have to address both of those individually, as I see them as totally separate things despite the common moniker.

So let's call it "illegal meta gaming" or a "meta gaming foul" when we mean meta gaming in the context of immorally (?) applying knowledge you as a player or character (player character) should not have.

The presence of the internet, with search engines and social media, make it very easy to run across meta game material without even trying.  I've only had trouble with this over the last year, to be honest.  Of course, that's since 5e came along and now everyone belongs to a D&D Facebook group.  So with this in mind, let's explore the meta.

First off - min/maxing.  I do not care about this AT ALL, and further I feel it's an integral part of the game.  If the player read the books and figured something out, good for them.  Unless it's somehow totally game-breaking then it's commendable.  I've never had cause to curtail something in twenty plus years of gaming.   In my opinion, this in NO WAY constitutes illegal meta gaming.  If anything, I feel that half a thought into the character's mechanics actually shows the player is interested in the game.

Now, you might technically call it meta gaming since it takes into account information the character does not have.  Yet, this isn't information the PLAYER shouldn't necessarily have.  The player should definitely have information regarding how they are to play the game, and I believe that includes the information in the Player's Handbook.  The Dungeon Master Guide is also a good thing for the player to read.  I don't even care if they read the Monster Manual, though I don't allow reference of the DMG or MM at the table, for reasons explained below.

So let's further refine our meta gaming taxonomy.  Illegal meta gaming occurs when a player uses information that NEITHER the character nor the player would normally have access to in the ruleset or scenario.  In this case, it's tantamount to cheating because such information would have to be deliberately sought out.

The new players will most likely be focused on the mechanics of the game if they ever played a video game before tabletop, that's just how it is.  Further, you can't expect someone to play a game they don't know the rules to.  We just think it's normal in our hobby because that's how you get gamers into the game, but not everyone that plays in a game buys a book or even bothers to borrow one.

Referencing material at the table should be frowned upon, but who's gonna stop someone from looking up a common monster or magical item in the main books at home?  We just have to assume that (DERP) these characters live in this world, and anything the player might recall from the common books (and even specific campaign books in some cases) MIGHT be something their character knows.  I think a lot of DM's make the mistake of assuming their characters are utterly ignorant of anything other than the races in the PHB, and then forcing the game to operate somehow in that false ignorance.

A character MIGHT know what a monster is or has heard legends of a magic item.  Great.  They might even have an idea of the monster's powers or the item's magic.  They probably don't have such memory that they remember specific details however, like exact numbers and everything else on the page.  This is why I disallow referencing the material at the table.  It's easy for people to Google anything, especially if you are playing on a virtual tabletop.  Make sure folks know the protocol for reference in your game.

Now, the worst type of illegal meta gaming BY FAR is actually reading adventures you are currently playing in.  You can play in modules you've ran or played in before by not acting on information you have remembered, or by allowing your aging memory to completely wipe the adventure from your mind.  However, this type of meta gaming is tantamount to cheating.

DO NOT READ the current adventure.  DO NOT READ adventures you KNOW you will play in.  Especially DO NOT pretend to be ignorant if you somehow do so accidentally, such as before you know you are going to play in it.  I know that's technically three 'do-nots' but it's all really the same thing.  Just don't do that one thing, and you're pretty much golden.

...and that's how I feel about meta gaming.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Nether War: Nether Peak

Dungeons & Dragons: The Nether War
The Zhentarim is your family. 
You watch out for it, and it watches out for you.
Nether Warriors!

The feeble armies of the Enclave and Harpers have somehow breached our defenses and lay at the very gates of our Fortress!

The Morueme demand we stand our ground here as long as possible while they crush the enemy's remaining forces.  However, a sizable amount of the enemy army has arrived and press the slopes of Nether Peak!

We are prepared!

The Cult toils in the bowels of the mountain, and Zhentarim rattle their swords in anticipation of the battles on the slopes.  Let the snow run red with the blood of those who would defy us!  For the Morueme!

Tier 4 - Nether Peak

Nether Peak
One of the tallest peaks in the Nether Mountains, this particular summit is the lair of the clan leaders of the Morueme - Krathoxis and Tyloss.  It is well guarded within and without, not only by fanatic Dragon Cultists but hired Zhentarim with a reputation to uphold.
  1. Scenario 1 - The Slopes of Nether Peak
    • D&D Attack Wing, 150 Legion Points
      • Setup: Players setup in opposite corners.  A player's corner is half the board length on each side of the map their corner touches.  Models are deployed up to range 1.
      • Objective: Destroy the Enemy Legion.
      • Resolution: When either player's last miniature is destroyed the battle is over.  The Good player must have at least one Dragon on the board at the end of the game in order to claim victory.
  2. Scenario 2 - The Lair of Krathoxis
    • D&D Miniatures, 150 Point Skirmish
      • Contested Ground
        • The Evil player must spend at least 40 points to include a Blue Dragon of any kind.
  3. Scenario 3 - The Upper Slopes
    • D&D Attack Wing, 175 Legion Points
      • Setup: Players deploy up to Range 1 from their table edge.  Place an Objective Token in the center of the board, then both players may place an Objective Token anywhere in their own deployment zone.  Only ground units may be deployed at the start of the game due to the high winds (no dragons or other flying units on the  ground).  At the end of each of their turns, a player may place a new unit on the board near one of the Objective Markers.  To determine which, that player rolls an Attack Die - if a [HIT] or [CRITICAL HIT] is rolled, the player may deploy a unit within Range 1 of the center Objective Token, otherwise they must deploy within Range 1 of the token in their own deployment zone.
      • Objective:  Destroy the Enemy Legion.  
      • Resolution: When either player's last miniature is destroyed the battle is over.  The Good player must have at least one Dragon on the board at the end of the game in order to claim victory.
  4. Scenario 4 - Tyloss' Den
    • D&D Miniatures, 200 Point Skirmish
      • Marked for Death
        • The Evil player must spend at least 40 points to include a Blue Dragon of any kind.  In addition, this dragon must be one marked for death at the beginning of the game and counts as the Evil player's 'choice'.  In addition, Good player must choose a Commander from his force to be marked at the beginning of the game as normal, but must disclose this choice to his opponent.  The other two models to be marked for death are chosen normally.
  5. Scenario 5 - The Summit
    • D&D Attack Wing, 200 Legion Points
      • Setup: Standard.
      • Objective: Destroy the Enemy Legion.  
      • Resolution: When either player's last miniature is destroyed the battle is over.   The Good player must have at least one Dragon on the table at the end of the game to claim victory.
When this base is cleared, the campaign is over and the Good player has won!

Total Points Campaign Narrative
1 to 3 The leadership of the Morueme has been denied to the enemy army.
The Cult and the Zhentarim are forced to retreat, but they are still strong.
5 to 11 Word has spread of our victory, and we draw more noble warriors to our side.
The Cult has lost their will to fight, and the Zhentarim have withdrawn.
12-18 The borders of the goodly folk of the Realms are strengthened!
Victory here has brought forth a new brace of hope over the land.
19 to 26 The banners of the Realms' defenders rise over the settlements of the Sword Coast.
The enemies of the goodly factions flee to the east as fast as they can...
27+ The Harper Network and a resurgence of druidic faiths follow the turning of the Morueme armies.
Throughout these realms, the Harpers and agents of the Enclave work to maintain the fragile peace.
A new call to adventure rises as warriors are called to defend the frontier.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dark Age Stormhammers

The Dark Age has begun.

A small force of Stormhammers have been ordered onto Vindemiatrix ahead of the Clan attack.  The warriors of this company are green, newly raised by the Tharkan Striker's commander - the freeborn Alexia Wolf.  Aware the Clan are coming to claim this world for their own, the appointed Inner Sphere commander surveys his forces for disposition.

Dark Age Stormhammers Army
The mustered Stormhammers defending Vindemiatrix's landing zones on the sulfur fields.
Tharkan Strikers
Commanding Officer Kommandant Wilhelm Kloss

Strategic Mission: Protect Vindemiatrix from the new Falcon Offensive.

Dark Age Stormhammer Battlemechs
Targe, Hellstars and Crimson Hawks make up the bulk of the professional forces battlemechs.
Lyran mechs are notoriously heavy.  The Tharkan Strikers have several mechs on the heavier side, but nothing truly huge.  However, they may have struck a fine balance to meet their needs as the Clan forces will be swift and sure.

Dark Age Stormhammer Mining Mechs
Even the miners on the sulfur fields had better be ready. 
There are many mining facilities out on the sulfur fields.  Lots of infrastructure to protect, though Stormhammer command is fairly sure the Clan attack will focus on military assets.  Nonetheless, the civilian mechs have been made as ready for battle as possible should the need arise.

Dark Age Stormhammer Infantry
The Stormhammers have more and more varied infantry than their clan opponents.
Infantry will play a strong role in the defense of Vindemiatrix.  The Stormhammers can call upon an array of troop types and armors.  The infantry sections of the defense garrison are the most well trained and experienced warriors in the detachment.

Dark Age Stormhammer Artillery
Mobile and fixed position artillery strengthens the conventional forces of the Stormhammers.
The garrison has an array of mobile artillery support vehicles and mech killers.  Gun emplacements will serve as point-defenses for every defensive line.  Missile batteries will rain damage on ground forces and aircraft alike.  Any approach to a Stormhammer position will be paid for by the attack in losses that may be too great to sustain.

Dark Age Stormhammer Helicopters
Stormhammer and allied Inner Sphere support craft.
The Stormhammers will also deploy VTOL assault craft in large numbers.  Not only are the Lyran attack choppers present, but allied units from Inner Sphere powers have been serving as transport craft.  These helicopters will form a vital link in the combined arms tactics the defenders are preparing.

Dark Age Stormhammers Army
No guts, no glory!
The Stormhammers have the advantages of numbers and the home ground in the coming conflict, but nothing is assured.  To repel the Clan attack, all elements must work together and coordinate to avoid losses and effect damage on the powerful enemies they will soon face.  Yet the company is eager to prove itself, and sees the coming conflict as the chance it's been waiting for.

Dark Age Stormhammers Army
Infantry train in specialist techniques of not getting crushed or thrown during joint operations with battlemechs.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Frostgrave Elementalist's Warband

Frostgrave Elementalist's Warband
The Elementalist Hakon Iceblood unleashes his kinsmen to raid the Frozen City.
The barbarian tribes of the north live in a state of constant strife.  The brutal demands of the land would be taxing to any people, but it is the creatures that wander these lands that make it truly dangerous.  Yet for all their fortitude and courage, the gift of magic is seldom found among these people.

Frostgrave Elementalist, Apprentice and Captain
The fierce Elementalist Hakon Iceblood, flanked by his Apprentice and Captain.
Hakon Iceblood the Reaver is a living legend amongst his people.  Great and many are his conquests, and his mastery of the primeval elements is well known.  He is a great champion of his people, for might and magic are both well respected in the north.  The tribes across the north have all heard his name and deeds, and he calls the worthy to his side as he journeys to Frostgrave.

Hakon is joined by Gulbrand, his apprentice in magic.  Not only has the elementalist trained Gulbrand since he was a young man in the secrets of controlling the elements, but also in the ways of war and battle.  Together they have vowed to bring the riches of the City Under Ice back to enrich their tribes and secure their future.

I heard a lot about how Bones models don't really fit with Frostgrave models, so I made a warband about it.  These are Kord the Destroyer, Grundor Hoardtaker and Ingrid, Female Viking - all Bones models on 32mm bases.  Sometimes I still have difficulty with Bones.  Maybe it's just me.

Frostgrave Elementalist's Men-at-Arms
The men of the north often use heavy shields and weapons to break their enemies.
The Northmen have rallied to Iceblood's call.  Warriors from across the tribes have pledged their arms, and are fanatically loyal to the Elementalist.  These are among Iceblood's mainstay soldiers, as many proficient warriors carry stalwart shields into battle.

The rest of the warband other than the Bones models above are Frostgrave Barbarians.  It's a really awesome kit that's probably a must-have no matter what games you are playing.  The paint flew on these models quick and they turned out really good.  I'm still not good at faces, but how easily these models took the paint helped me surprise myself.

Frostgrave Elementalist's Barbarians
Barbarian tribesmen of the North.
Some warriors yet prefer even heavier weapons.  These sorts of double-handed weapons are quite useful against some of the larger creatures and monsters found in the north, especially around the Frozen City.  Many if Iceblood's warriors carry these weapons, and are always looking for a giant monster to prove their valor and gain Iceblood's favor.

Not every Frostgrave Barbarian with a double-handed weapon has a shaved head, but every Frostgrave Barbarian with a double-handed weapon in this warband has a shaved head.

Frostgrave Elementalist's Ranger and Crossbowman
The barbarians may be primitive in culture, but not in technology.
Iceblood's forces are joined by more specialized warriors as well.  Rangers versed in the northern landscape scout the area and advise him of the situation, which the Elementalist exploits to great effect.  Crossbowmen supplement his soldiers' shields and hammers with hateful missiles.  Indeed the soldiers in the Elementalist's warband are eager to follow Iceblood into the City Under Ice and test their valor against the horrors that lurk there, risking all for the riches and glory.

The Frostgrave Barbarians plastic kit was the first one from the line I got, but I quickly got some more.  There are too many cool bits in there, nevermind all the soldiers you can build with it.

Frostgrave Elementalist's Tracker
Trackers make excellent companions when trekking across the trackless, frozen tundra.
Iceblood also employs trackers for a multitude of tasks.  When foraging, these men are invaluable as their skills greatly increase how long the camp can function out in the wild.  However, sometimes it is other men that they hunt.  In the case of the Elementalist's visit to the City Under Ice, those men are often rival wizards who don't realize they are being hunted.

This model is the only kitbash in the warband.  This model is mostly a Frostgrave Barbarian, but incorporates some pieces from Wargame's Factory's Saxon Thegns.  Notably, those pieces are everything but the body and head.

Frostgrave Elementalist's Warband
Fear the coming of Hakon Iceblood the Reaver, Master of the Howling Winds!