Posts Tagged ‘fantasy wargame’

The dungeons of the sunken city of Xak Tsaroth

The dungeons of the sunken city of Xak Tsaroth

Our Subsurface Environments Acquisition Specialist, Dave surprised us all with a surprise deliver this holiday season. Itar’s Workshop ran a kickstarter concurrently with the Dwarven Forge Kickstarter and offered similar compatible dungeon tiles. The basic set unpainted in dungeon gray made its appearance on the table this week. The pieces ought to go onsale once the kickstarter is fulfilled through the webstore Itar’s Workshop.

'Ere's wot wot wot ye got right 'ere.

‘Ere’s wot wot wot ye got right ‘ere.

The general apearance of the tiles is very similar to Dwarven Forge’s Dungeon Tiles, with the key differences that the floor bases are not as thick, and the walls are only about half as high. I actually prefer the heights of these walls as they allow a better viewing angle of the table top action.

The mmaterial is very light, and feels like plaster. They are fragile enough that I will try not to drop, knock, or crush them. I store my Dwarven Forge tiles in the canvas sack they came with, but for these I will find a shoe box or something in which to carefully stack them.

Itars Dungeon tles after one black wash

Itars Dungeon tles after one black wash

The material was light gray as opposed to the dark almost black of DF tiles. Therefore I decided to do the opposite technique for painting. Instead of drhy brushing light gray, I would begin with black wash. The material is strangely water repellant which made it extremely difficult to do an effective wash.Perhaps they needed to have a primer, but I assumed the wqash would act as a thin primer coat. Apparently not.

I ended up dunking the pieces into the pool of black and still it would drain off leaving no trace but pools in the depressions. After letting the first coat sit all night, I went back with a second coat, and this time I really worked the now partially evaporated therefore even thicker black wash into the cracks and crevices.I think the improvement is noticeable.

A box of black washed Itar Dungeon Tiles

A box of black washed Itar Dungeon Tiles

The next step will be to do a light grey dry brush over the high points, and also a tan fieldstone drybrush to pick out a few fieldstones. I am thinking of picking out some watery and mossy highlights as well to really make these pieces pop. I will also make sure to sealcoat these, preferably wth something with some protective qualities, a polyurethane perhaps. More pictures to follw.

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The Temple of Elemental Evil Game Night

The Temple of Elemental Evil Game Night

Two years ago this January, we began playing the adventure Village of Hommlett. It was an epic occasion, but fell apart in the village of Nulb before ever venturing into the Temple of Elemental Evil itself. That game included some of the best roleplaying in the history of our game group: featuring one of my all time favorite characters the gunslinger Calamity Jane and her twin sister Calamity Joan; using the Pathfinder Beginner Box rules was a huge change from our earlier style of gaming; Rufus and Burne the gaylords; … there is too much to recount, read about it here: Welcome to the Welcome Wench, Wench!


Starting this year we changed all that, with a deus machina shift in the gears of our current campaignto place our heroes rght about where the last game ended, at the gates of the Temple of Elemental Evil. It happened like this…

For what seemed an eternity the part of advenurers had been wandering aimlessly through and endless dungeon with no sign of escape. Eventually they found themselves traversing a wide open area with grotesque columns holding up an arched vaulted ceiling. The chittering skittering sounds that were following them wherever they went surrounded them and resolved into giant insects of all shapes and sizes. The one thing they all had in common was that the bodies of the insects were covered in strange tufts of fuzz. The fuzzy mold covering the insects was of a different color for each one, ranging from bright purple to yellow ochre. The insects were easily defeated but the wizard and paladin were each bitten and contrated a constitution-sapping disease. Which the paladin promptly healed.

With much flapping of wings, the Raven Queen appeared, and offered to help them escape from the endless dungeon if they would do her a small favor – and slay the Demon Godess of Cosmic Fungus, Zuggtmoy, who was imprisoned beneath a temple dedicated to evil. They agreed and on a side note the paladin swore fealty to the Raen Queen and was granted additional healing.

They walked through a portal which sent them to a path. In one direction lay a hill in a clearing, upon which the blackened blight of the temple slouched. The other way led to a village of good helpful folk led by gay lords. The Raven warned them not to let the townsfolk know the temple was growing in power, for if they found out, the king’s evil advisor would soon learn and send armies of humanoids.

The Temple of Elemental Evil using Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (plus extras)

The Temple of Elemental Evil using Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (plus extras)

While investigating the temple grounds, they unleashed a horde of 70 giant rats. This caused them to seek quick entry into the temple, so they held the ats off while they broke through the stout side door. Once inside, they began a methodical search of the interior, finding robes in four colors, and finding four means of gaining access to the lower levels: a great pit in the center of the temple had a narrow ledge spiraling down; a grand central stair led downwards; and two sets of spiral stairs also led down, hidden in chambers to the left and right.

While investigating the grotesque throne at the end of the temple, through luck and tenacity, they managed to figure out the puzzle. The chair immediately descended many hundreds of feet downward and opened into a strange fungus filled chamber with many doors ad stairways leading from it. While searching the room, they found two secret doors. The first door led to a sitting room filled with loveseats, divans, nd ottomans of all different colors. The fightress sat down on a green velvet divan and put her feet up on a black leather ottoman only to find they were actually made of green slime and black pudding!

They fled through the other secret door and came to a room that had a conference table and a great map of the region on the wall with the temple marked at its center. A shelf contained many silver weapons. There was also a black ottoman that attacked them and chased them out of the room and all the way back onto the throne, which they took back to ground level, after deciding that they still lacked the power to take on the Demon Goddess of Cosmic Slime in her own boudoir.

They ultimately decided to take a side stair down to the first level of the dungeon and begin exploring there. They passed through two intersections before coming to a hexoganal shaped room with debris on the floor. Just as the kender assassin found a magic ring on the floor, 16 stirges attacked, four per charater.It was a tough battle, but they defeated the stirges and found a ring of incredible worth.

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An important aspect of fantasy spelunking is the unexpected danger of random encounters. Whenever a party is actively exploring, a wandering monster check should be made every 10 minutes, or in the event of an attention drawing spectacle. If the party is doing everything they can to elude detection, including using stealth to hide with little movement, muffling all sounds and dousing extraneous light, then wandering monster checks should be made every hour.

To check for wandering monsters, roll 1d8. If the result is an 8, roll again on the wandering monster table. This will direct you to the correct subtable for the encounter. Finally check for surprise by rolling 1d6, surprise on 1-2. Distance between sides should be based on the natural fit of the dungeon, with opposing sides being closer depending on the level of surprise; i.e. If both parties are surprised, the enemy should appear around the nearest corner or at the edge of the light source. in other cases, the monsters might tumble out of the very walls upon which the pc’s are leaning.

Wandering Monster Table Level 1
1-2 – Vermin
3-4 – Creature
5-6 – Humanoid
7 – Undead/fiends
8 – Special

Vermin Table (d8)
1 – Giant/dire rats (2-5)
2 – Rat Swarm (6-24)
3 – Giant/vampire Bats (3-18)
4 – Stirges (2-8)
5 – Carrion crawler
6 – Giant Spider
7 – Fire Beetles (2-7)
8 – Giant Centipedes (1-6)

Creature Table (d8)
1 – Giant Badger
2 – Rust monster
3 – Great Cat – Snow Tiger (1-2)
4 – Hell Hounds (1-4)
5 – Cave Bear
6 – Gelatinous Cube
7 – Ankheg
8 – Owlbear

Humanoid Table (d8)
1-2 – Orcs (3-12)
3-4 – Goblins (4-16)
5 – Kobolds (2-12)
6 – Gnolls (2-12)
7 – Human bandits (2-12)
8 – Adventuring party (2-5)

Undead/fiend table (d8)
1-2 – Skeletons (1-20)
3-4 – Zombies (1-12)
5 – Ghouls (1-8)
6 – Ghost
7 – Wight
8 – Devil: Imp

This is an excerpt from the dungeon complex The Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord Level 1: The Main Storey

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Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Playtest bad 'and drawn character sheet

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition* Playtest bad ‘and drawn character sheet

The Basic ‘And Drawn character sheet. inspired by collegiate lined (I hated wide ruled) notebooks full of characters made in that awkward transition between the basic and advanced versions of D&D. Really there was nothing else like them in the world, so simple and full of ignorant hope. So many HP boxes worn through with erasers. So many big black X’s marked in fits of rage or lamentation. These sheets use that original transitional style but are updated to fit a complete 5th edition playtest character onto a single sided sheet of paper.

Above is an 800X1100 jpeg, and here is a link to the PDF: d5charsheet

Enjoy, and please provide feedback or comment. These sheets are mandatory at my table.

*I have decided to stop referring to the next iteration of the worlds most beloved beheading game as “D&D Next!” because it just sounds foolish. Plus, what if they decide to make a 6th edition and refer to the playtest as “D&D Next” then it could lead to mass confusion and rioting, however 5th edition playtest will stand the test of time. So it is written, so be it done.

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I’m working on a new dungeon project, The Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord, and thought I would share my first pair of drafts of level 1 of the dungeon. Feel free to use, abuse, or ridicule.

With my second draft I tried a new type of “inverted” graph paper which looks really great in person but doesn’t scan very well. A few of the features are becoming more distinct in this version, and wll reach their full fruition in the final version.

Here be the Ruined Fortress Level 1, draft 2

Here be the Ruined Fortress Level 1, draft 2

The third version is the final version and will be used in the adventure module “The Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord – Level 1: The First Storey” with which I am soon to beat my group of players senseless.

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Just a quick post to show off the level 10 pregenerated characters for tonight’s session of the playtest, featuring a remake of a remake of a classic Dungeon adventure, The Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb. All comments (and checking for accuracy) are welcome. Enjoy!









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There once was a rich valley protected by the embrace of the northern mountains. A single pass led into the northern wildlands and the folk of the valley, elves humans and dwarves, all worked together to build a fortress to guard them from the monstrous creatures who came down from the rough northern region. The valley grew ever richer in trade with the southern lands and the fortress grew ever more mighty. The goodness of the valley dwellers led them to build extensive prisons beneath the fortress where the pitiful creatures they captured could live out their natural lives. Even giants and dragons were brought to heel by this industrious folk.

Unbeknownst to the valley people, a war was brewing high above them in the astral sea. A demi-god fought for control of his realm against a usurper in an extra-planar battleship. The demi-god’s defense was successful and the battleship spun wildly through the dimensions to crash into the fortress, splitting the mountain open in its fiery descent and carving a hole into unknown depths. The fortress crumbled and the surviving monsters, humanoids, and fell beasts escaped from their prison cells, led by an orc called the War Duke.

The War Duke’s ever swelling army of evil descended upon the helpless valley and slew or enslaved all its people. from there, the Evil Overlord went on to threaten all the surrounding lands with unending bloodshed. The civilized world banded together and fought back over a war lasting many grueling years, until they finally beat War Duke back to his fortress, his prison. There he was slain, and the war brought to a close in a great bloody battle and the ruined fortress was ransacked and abandoned. Few people returned to the valley, and what survivors remained scratched out a meager existence.

Four great hordes, each led by an Evil Overlord, have erupted out of the northern mountains and claimed the ruined Fortress in the thousand years since the Valley Folk were defeated. Four times the world has teetered on the brink of unquenchable bloodshed.

Still the ruined fortress of the Evil overlord remains, a blight upon the world, as indestructible as the mountain itself. It is full of the wealth of a hundred plundered kingdoms, and vomits forth an endless stream of vile monstrosities.

Description: The low peak at the head of the mountain pass was carved into the shape of a helm, with the nose piece being long stairs leading to a three-tower castle built at its crown. Large open chambers like eye sockets, held siege engines overlooking the pass and stairs. The castle was composed of two smaller parapet topped towers leaning like wide shoulders against a tall central tower. When the demonic battleship crashed, it struck the mountain top at the base of the central tower, causing most of it to collapse into the hole the ship bore through the mountain. Over the years, the face of the mountain has been carved to more resemble the skull of an orc.

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