Monday, November 5, 2007

Chronicles of Highcliff Journey to Orc Island Part 4

Chronicles of Highcliff
Journey to Orc Island Part 4
Encounter at the Forest Edge

Saturday 8th day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse
After healin up a bit we decided our best bet was to press right on through the forest and perhaps try to camp on the very edge before trying to find the mine our “guide” told us was where the Rockfist tribe was havin the youngins work. We got to the edge without any incident then decided to rest up as best we could since we were not fully healed from the previous nights ordeal. It was still before noon so we pitched out tents and set up our standard watches.
I guess it was sometime well after dark when a large patrol of Rockfist orcs came around scountin the edges of the forest. Helsa and Mary was on watch and they heard the orcs makin their way along the tree line. Aleena was up readin a book of some kind. Like I said before that elf never sleeps.

The worst thing about monastic orders or fightin schools and the like is that while you can learn some good fightin in places like that you still don’t get more field experience. This was the case with Helsa. She told Mary, who is quite sneaky and light on her feet, to hide back in camp while she scouted the orc patrol. Now to say Helsa couldn’t sneak through a hall of passed out dwarves after a week long beerfest is being kind. She would also have a hard time hiding out in a school for the blind and deaf. She might as well have walked right into the Orcs path because the orcs spotted her straight away and shortly after that they spotted out camp.

The orc boss and a few of his goons attacked Helsa and the rest of the orcs moved into the are of our camp.

Helsa was havin a hard time with the orcs that attacked her. Seems their boss was a pretty tough character.

Mary however was well hidden so she let a group of orcs move passed her position.

Then she sprung out of her hiding place to attack them.

Meanwhile Aleena managed to zap one of the orcs with a spell just as I was gettin into the fight.

Unfortunately the orcs didn’t take kindly to this display of arcane type power. One of the orcs stepped up and knocked Aleena out with one powerful hit.

Fortunately Finnias came out of the tent at that very moment. Helsa was also doin better. She managed to cut down one orc goon and without missing a beat cleave into the other. It was just her and the orc boss in that fight now.

After killin the rest of the orcs in the camp Finnias and I moved up to help Mary with the orc archers. Unfortunately we didn’t get to her in time and she went down before we could help her. Joe had also managed to get himself up and join the fighting.

The sight of our ogre hireling caused the rest of the orc archers to take to their heels but Joe soon ran them down and killed them all.

We then helped the injured to their feet with a little healing. We had captured two more orcs in the fightin which was a good thing since they had more recent information and it would be easier for us to play them against each other to get it.

Unfortunately the battle left us in just as bad a shape as we had been before we rested and even though we were only a few hours from our destination we decided we would need to find and even safer place to rest before we staged our rescue. We moved camp a bit deeper into the woods and hid our position as best we could.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chronicles of Highcliff
Journey to Orc Island Part 3
The Haunted Forest Part 2

As told by
Snori Wallburg
Translated from the original hill dwarf by Nathan Miller

Seein all them corpsified pirates was somewhat disturbin but we figured we had to get through the woods if we was gonna have a chance to help the youngins. Wasn’t too long until we found a place to camp. We pitched out tents, set watches, and prayed to the gods we would have a peaceful night. As luck would have it though our prayers went unanswered.

A few hours after the witchin hour Helsa and I was patrollin the camp when we saw several shadowy figures shambling in our general direction. I never seen such a host of walkin dead in all my years. I’d say there were at least 30 in three groups an each one of the groups was lead by a wight. Well there wasn’t nothin to do but fight em off as best we could whilst shoutin and hollerin to try and wake our companions. Fortunately Aleena was also awake readin on a book. That elf never sleeps.
Helsa clutched her holy symbol and called upon the power of Heironeous as she strode towards 10 of the walkin dead. The lesser skeletons she was facing fled from her but the wight was undeterred and kept commin.

Aleena stood before a second group of undead types and began to cast a spell. Suddenly the ground beneath their feet turned slippery as a greased pig. The wight an several of the skeletons she was facing fell over.

Havin neither magical hoodo nor holy powers to call upon I did the next best thing. I grabbed my axe and charged head first into the third group of Undead. Several however slipped passed me.

I was havin no kind of luck trying to kill the undead ghoolies that was facin me an I was a startin to get concerned. Fortunately though all the racket we was causin woke up Mary and Joe and they joined the fray. Just about that time Helsa was gettin the better of the wight but I was gettin quite surrounded and I began to wonder if I was finally gonna meet Moradin.

After what seemed like ages and a day our sleepy cleric Finnias managed to rouse himself to battle.

I guess he needed a little extra shut eye cause after a quick survey of your situation he pulled out his holy symbol and called upon Fharlanghn to protect us seein as how we was travelin an protection of travelers was his thing.
I don’t know what kind of power Fharlanghn has but he must get powerful upset when travelers are in trouble cause the whole host of skeletons I was fightin vanished in a cloud of dust. All of em sept the wight who I was still wrastlin with.

Now Helsa seems like a brave paladin and she seems devout but her god must be a tad sadistic cause as only her luck would have it the last wight an another skeleton managed to pull themselves up from the greasy pit Aleena had formed below their feet and they charged Helsa straight away.

This proved to be more than Helsa could handle. The wight managed to knock her out with one powerful blow.

Fortunately for her Finnias and Aleena were there to save her from certain death. I also managed to finally send the wight I was fightin to the grave…..again.

Finnias immediately knelt beside Helsa and prayed for her protection. It was a good thing he did too because otherwise we may have lost our brave Paladin.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chronicles of Highcliff Jouney to Orc Island Part 2

Chronicles of Highcliff
Journey to Orc Island Part 2
The Haunted Forest

As told by
Snori Wallburg
Translated from the original hill dwarf by Nathan Miller

Wednesday 5th day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse.
Well out first attempt to traverse the Haunted Woods have come up short on account of a band of ornery Orcs of the Rock Fist tribe. In order to avoid another mess like that one we snuck into the woods before we got to the trail head. We also took Grottz our orc captive with us.

This however did not prove to be of much help. After treckin a fer piece along the trail, after we found it, we was ambushed by a pair of wild hell hounds.

Hell hounds are nasty critters to be sure. Wish I could say their bark was worse than their bite but their bite is pretty darn nasty. On top of the usual dangers when fightin hound type varmints hell hounds can also breath fire. Helsa found this out the hard way as one of em lit her up pretty bad.

Grottz also got lit on fire by the same hound that got Helsa but he managed to find a small pool to jump into. Joe found he before he could sneak away. Not that he was gonna try. He was burned up pretty bad.

With Helsa knocked out cold we decided to make a camp where we was. I was on watch and Aleena was up as well readin some book of hers when I saw somethin shamblin down the road towards our camp. I was a group of undead skeletons.

I commenced to shoutin and with Joes help we dispatched the undead patrol fairly easily but not with out a few cuts and bruises.

Thursday 6th day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse
Well we was in bad shape and nearly out of our healin potions so we decided we had no choice but to turn back once again and head to town. Luckily we managed to get out of the woods without runnin afoul of any nasty varmints lookin to do us harm.
We were runnin out of gold so after we got healed up again Helsa and I decided to sell off some of our loot we found in the Hexor cults hide out. We managed to find a shop run by a pair of Dwarves named Hengst and Hogarth’s Weapons and Armor, New and Used. They gave us a fair price for the equipment we had so we decided to head to a local waterin hole to see if we could find anyone else who could help us. We found a pair of humans there, Molly Malone a rougish looking young woman and Finnius Fillmoor a cleric of Fharlanghn. We decided to head out first thing in the mornin to make a third attempt to get through the woods.
Friday 7th day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse

Well we headed out again early in the mornin and we were makin pretty good progress. Just when I was thinkin we might make it through the woods this time I was hit in the arm by a black arrow. A few other arrows wizzed passed our ears before we spotted some hobgoblin archers up on a hill takin pot shots at us.

We started headin up the hill but before we got to the archers another group jumped out and attacked us. The archers fled however and after we dealt with their friends we began to chase the varmints right into another group of em. As we was tryin to get at that group a third group started shootin at us from a rocky outcropping.

So we was in a runnin battle for quite a bit the archers would stay out of range while their friends tied us up a few at a time.

We finally started to wear them down but they made it hard for us. They would seem to retreat but would instead maneuver in such a way as to support the other groups or consolidate their forces.

When we finally managed to finish them off we had all been shot at least a few times. Still we hadn’t faired too bad. No one had taken a serious wound so we pressed on down the trail.

In the mid after noon we was supprised to see a small group of pirates running down the road towards us. They weren’t looking for a fight but as they passed us you could see they had been terribly frightened by somethin in the woods.

It wasn’t long until we came across the remains of 20 some odd pirate bodies on the trail. We couldn’t tell what killed em but they was all dead so we buried them in a mass grave and said some words even if the rascals didn’t deserve it. We decided to press on a bit further then set up camp just off the trail. We set up watches and settled down fer the night.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chronicles of Highcliff Journey to Orc Island Part 1

Chronicles of Highcliff
Journey to Orc Island

As told by
Snori Wallburg
Translated from the original hill dwarf by Nathan Miller

This here is a chronicle of my adventures involvin the rescue of a group of orphans who were kidnapped from the Monastery of Heronious outside the town of Highcliff in the Kingdom of Aswald by cultist of Hexor who sold them into slavery on Orc Island.

It was on a Saturday mornin that I was awoke by the sound of frantically ringin church bells. It was the first day of The Month of the Harvest and I was on my way home to join in the Harvest Festival at Flaghill. I was stayin in an Inn at the Monastery of Heronious that night because all the inns in Highcliff proper were full. Naturally I got up to see what the commotion was. Everyone at the monastery had gathered in the main sanctuary. And old priest was there and he explained that all the youngins at the temple orphanage had been kidnapped. Now as luck would have it the local lawmen as well as most able body types were out searching the countryside for some notorious local bandito including some of the more able monks from the monastery. This left the old priest with no one to help rescue the orphans who had been snatched during the night. Now their ain't nothin so vile in this here world as those who would harm helpless little children so I immediately volunteered to track down the varmints responsible and help get the youngins back. A young elf named Aleena also volunteered on account her sister was one of the orphans taken as well. There was also a paladin named Helsa who was training at the temple who offered to join the search though I reckon the old priest would have volunteered her for the job even if she had not spoken up.

The tree of us searched the orphanage and Aleena found an odd lookin holy symbol. The old priest confirmed it was a symbol of Hexor the evil god of war and destruction. His cult was long though to have been stamped out in these parts. Accordin to the priest most of the old strongholds of the cult had been raised following an uprising over a decade ago but there was one hideout that was not destroyed. An old cave only five miles from the monastery.

Sunday 2nd Day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse
We set out for the cave the first thing Sunday mornin. We were set upon half way there by a band of cultist of Hexor but they proved to be no match for my companions and I. After that we found the cave and cleared it of it's inhabitants but none of the orphans were to be found. It just so happened that a group of pirates had docked their boat at an underground river that flowed through the cave. We caught on of the varmints and he confessed, with some persuasion, that he and his mates had sold the children to slavers on Orc Island earlier that day. After gathering some booty from the cave we set sail for Orc Island that night but we had to stop over on a small island on the way there. We didn't figure on findin any trouble but we set a watch anyhow. It a darn good thing we did too because I was attacked by a frightful lookin Ghast just a short bit after sunset. I commenced to raise a racket so as to wake the others as I fought with the beast. Luckily I managed to lop off it's head before it was able to bite any of us.

Monday 3rd Day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse
We arrived at Goldtooth Port by mid day. Goldtooth port is named fer The Goldtooth Goblin Confederation of Traders. It's also the only safe port on Orc Island. We paid to dock our ship for a whole week at quite an expense but there was no use arguin with the goblins as their Ogre security force is quite formidable and prone to rippin ones arms from ones body if they think your a threat to the goblins. We decided to settle down at “The Miner's Pick” a fine establishment run by a highland dwarf named Feargus MacDugal.

Tuesday 4th Day of the Harvest Moon, Year of the Horse
We decided to have a look around the town to try and figure out what happened to the youngins. We weren't havin much luck as it seems there is no formal slave market at Goldtooth Port which struck me as mighty odd seein as how the goblins like to charge fees for just about any thing and everything at the port. We got lucky though when Helsa spotted a young goblin street urchin wearin a tunic from the orphanage. We managed to discreetly corner the little rascal and he told us he got it from a Rockfist Clan orc with a big red hat. We managed to track the orc down at a local drinking establishment but he figured out real quick what were was up to and wouldn't give us any details.
We returned to “The Miner's Pick” to ask Feargus if he knew where the Rockfist Clan lived he drew us a map. Problem was even with a map it was going to be hard get to the place. By road we would have to travel through an Orcish crossroad trading post and that wasn't such a smart thing for our party as Orcish trading post are no were near as “civilized” as Goldtooth Port. There was another way. An old path ran through a forest straight to the Rockfist lands but Feargus warned us that the forest was haunted by all manner of terrible beast and that it would take us at least a day and a half to travel down the overgrown path.
We figured we might need some extra muscle so we headed over to an Ogre bar named “BAR” to see if we could hire a mercenary. Most the Ogre were working for the goblins or various pirates and warlords but there was one Ogre lookin for work. A very cleaver Ogre named Joe who could count all the way to 10 which as could be expected was his price in gold to do the “job”.
So feelin all confident like with our new hireling we headed in the direction of the path through the haunted forest. Just before we got to the trail head however we was set upon by 10 Rockfist orcs.

Aleena Managed to trip a few of em up with some elfy magic that turned the ground under their feet all greasy but their archers were already shootin at us as a pack orcs charged up the hill at us.

I don't know if these orcs were some kinda super orc or if we was just overconfident but the battle didn't go so well for us. Being a big target an all Joe managed to attract an awful lot of attention from the orcs. He went down and I was knocked out shortly after that. apparently Aleena and Helsa faired a little bit better and managed to kill or run off most of the orcs. They also managed to capture an orc named Grotz

Helsa and Aleena had also been hurt pretty badly in the fightin and it became clear we would have to return to town fer some healin. When we got back to town we headed for The Temple of Goldfingers which was the only temple in Goldtooth port. They healed the party for 30 gold and we began to understand why every goblin establishment in the port had “gold” in the title. Feeling just a little beat up we headed back to the Inn for the night and made plans to set out again through the forest in the mornin.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Introduction and using miniatures in roleplaying games

Hello friends and welcome to my miniature gaming blog. My purpose for their blog is to share my miniature gaming experience, both in role playing games and table top war games with miniature enthusiast around the world. I've been painting miniatures, building terrain, and playing miniature games for over 20 years and I've learned a few things about the hobby along the way.

I've decided to start my blog with some tips on using miniatures in role playing games. I've found the use of miniatures invaluable during combat situations for tracking movement and certain special effects like spell effects or grenade blast. Not only that they add a visual element to the narrative. I wrote this some time ago when I poster was asking for tips for using miniatures in his Serenity RPG session which is why many of the examples use terms from the Firefly setting.

Just some tips if your just getting into miniatures for roleplaying.

1. Avoid the "Playhouse" style play: The biggest mistake a lot of people make when setting up miniatures for a game is that they try and find a miniature for every encounter combat or not. Then they set a mini down for everyone the players run into or move them around a map or set every time they go somewhere. This isn't necessary. Minis work best when they are being used for combat or some other situation when it's very important to know the position of the player characters or NPCs. It's not such a big deal to have them out if they are just meeting a contact in a bar or something unless there is a real chance that violence will happen. Your playing a RPG with miniatures to support the action not playing with dolls or action figures. There's no reason to push them around on the table unless you have to know the exact position of the PCs in a given encounter.

2. Plastic Mooks are you friend: Mooks are unimportant NPCs that don't get a name or any dialog to speak of. Badger's bodyguards are mooks so are Niska's guards and thugs a posse but not the sheriff. Basically mooks are disposable cannon fodder. It's not necessary to have really nice minis to represent mooks. If you have a game store near you find out if they sell Starwars, Herocliks, or Horoclicks minis as singles. Sometimes you can pick up a bag of cheap canon fodder for a few dollars. If you don't like clicky bases you can carefully take a sharp exacto knife and remove the minis from the click bases. Then all you need are some cheap game bases or even fender washers to re-base them on smaller bases.

3. Don't forget the stunt doubles: Sometimes you need a mini and you just don't have one that's quite right. Perhaps someone you thought would never going to be in combat suddenly is. This can be a problem especially if you have "Shoot first ask questions later" players. It happens. The best thing you can do is call in a stunt double. Just grab a mini that's at least the right sex for the NPC in question and tell your players that the mini your using is going to stunt double for the NPC in question. For instance "Han Solo here is going to stunt double for Mr. Tam". It's more of a mental reminder than anything and it's easier if the mini in question has a regular name either because it's a character from popular culture or because you normally use it for another NPC.

4. Pre game prep is good. Try and have minis you know your going to use set aside so you can find them easily. You might not want to make it obvious to your players as that can foreshadow who they might run into ahead of time. "Oh I see you have Badger out. I guess we're headed to Persephone". If you don't do that then at least keep your minis organized. Keep your feds in one group, reavers in another, mooks in another, and regular NPCs in another. This way you can cut down on your search time which can be annoying if your in the middle of what is suppose to be frantic action.

5. Anything can be terrain. This is similar to the tip on stunt doubles. Don't have any cargo containers to fill a hold. Grab some bottle caps or old film canisters or pill bottles. What about those big storage tanks at the fueling station. In a pinch a few soda cans will do. Oddly enough a hand full of small rocks make a darn nice rocky outcropping. You can also set up a quick cavern or cave with a bunch of regular rocks set to represent the walls of the cave. I've even laid out dungeons or corridors with dominoes in a pinch. The item in question may not be perfect but it may help to set the scene. Playing with minis is about more than just setting up pretty scenes. The most important thing about using miniatures is tracking movement in difficult situations so what's ideal may have to take a back seat to what's practical.

6. Terrain doesn't have to be hard or expensive. So your sitting there the night before the game and your looking over your notes. You know your players are going to have a fight in a fuel depo but you have nothing in your terrain section to represent it. No problem. Grab those empty soda cans, clean them out. hit them with a base cote of dark gray spray paint dust them with a lighter gray or sponge a lighter gray on. Grab some peal off number decals and make your new fuel tanks number 1, 2, and 3. Now you have an instant fuel depo.

7. Less is more. Don't go overboard setting up elaborate sets for every fight. Sure it's nice to have that big throw down with everything set up just so when the players go to assault Niska's compound but it takes time to set that up. That may be a big scene but a quick shootout with a couple random thugs in the hills of Whitefall isn't that big a deal. You don't need to set up and entire scene for just a short bit of action. Put down only what you need for random encounters. Trying to set up an elaborate table for every fight will just bog your game down. Make use of Star Wars and Hero click maps for random encounters.

Hope these help.