day after ragnarok

Defeating the Gutshank

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PCs present:  Baldwin, human magic-user; Ebin, human cleric; Huggra, elf; Mike, human thief; Orwill, halfling; Reeny Reenmel, halfling fighter; Thorg, human fighter.

Safely back at the Keep once more, the party found the Curate, Hagalpin, firmly refusing to cure their minor wounds.  Orwill and Reeny joined the Congregation of Cuthbert as a result and paid their yearly tithe in full.  They again enjoyed a short work day, relaxing at the tavern of Zorga Zvar, the one-eyed, one-armed, one-legged dwarf (none ever doubted HER military service).

For the third consecutive day, the party set out at dawn and took the same route to the caves.  Word of their raids had obviously spread among the humanoids, however, as the portal dig site was now surrounded by a hasty palisade of sharpened logs, more a hindrance to movement than a defense.  More goblin archers had been posted (and swept aside) and the party headed to caves across the ravine from the goblins.

Orcs of the “Gutshank” tribe occupied this area and the party made short work of the entire warren in a short series of very lopsided battles, Huggra charming their chief, Chaarogn, in the process.  Reeny did fall when he made a headstrong charge, alone, into four orc guards but he was stabilized and brought to safety, along with Huggra’s new BFF.

Caves of Chaos

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Session 2 opens with the party having escaped from the goblins and carried their two severely wounded members safely to the Keep.

PCs present:  Ebin, human cleric; Erb Draug Gurth, elfHuggra, elf; Mike, human thief; Orwill, halfling; Reeny Reenmel, halfling fighter; Thorg, human fighter.

The party requested healing from the Curate Hagalpin, a priest of St. Cuthbert, Order of the Billets.  He refused at first since they were not members of his faith but the Prefect, Zeleth the Steadfast, exerted his authority and finally persuaded him.  They learned that Zeleth was a popular, highly decorated war hero who had risen from poverty to command the Keep’s garrison.  Zeleth’s story was in sharp contrast to that of the Keep’s other resident celebrity – Luciano “the Bold”, the greatest living dwarven tenor.  A pompous prima donna, Luciano was also very well-connected in the best social circles and boasted of many friends in high places.  He requested a posting to the frontier to gain military experience in preparation for a political career.  Luciano was not as well-liked nor respected by the garrison, despite his frequent impromptu performances (in fact, BECAUSE of them!).

Having spent the remainder of the first day and night resting, they decided to venture out at dawn, taking the same path they had been shown by Squirrel the previous day.

The goblins obviously expected their return and posted archers in the trees which ambushed the party.  The scouts were easily defeated despite their advantages and the party formulated a two-pronged plan to deal with the remaining goblins.  Most of the party approached the ogre, Kurchunk, in his cave, thinking the previous day’s payment would ensure his aid.  Meanwhile, two party members planned to toss a goblin head with a light spell into the cavern, hoping to affect the goblins’ vision.  The two groups would then attack from two sides of one of the main hallways.

Kurchunk, unfortunately, turned out to be two-faced and attacked.  Another lucky light spell blinded him and he was rather easily slain.  The rest of the encounter went according to plan as the goblins were temporarily confused by the bright light and hit from two sides.  They slightly outnumbered the party but superior ranged firepower made the difference, and the rest of the goblin cavern was cleared.

The party’s luck held out and they withdrew in good order to the Keep.

Keep on the Borderlands

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On August 4, 2010, the group began a Greyhawk campaign using Mentzer Red Box D&D rules and the Keep on the Borderland. The campaign was originally intended as a short demo of old school D&D but expanded beyond that due to popular demand. As such, we eliminated preliminaries and started the party in situ, having already met, been recruited and transported to the Keep and immediately ready to strike out for action.

The setting is the World of Greyhawk, on the border between the Principality of Ulek and the Orcish Empire of Pomarj. PCs are Ulek natives from the captured eastern provinces attempting to harass humanoids in the untamed lands beyond the Jewel River.

PCs present: Ebin, human cleric; Erb Draug Gurth, elf; Huggra, elf; Mike, human thief; Orwill, halfling; Reeny Reenmel, halfling fighter; Thorg, human fighter.

Players were given the following briefing:

“You were all recruited within the Principality of Ulek. Humans, dwarves and halflings are citizens of the eastern provinces within the Disputed Territory and have volunteered for dangerous missions involving getting revenge and wreaking havoc on humanoid invaders. Elves can either be citizens of Ulek or refugees from the northern front of the war. Create your PCs with this background in mind and then discuss amongst yourselves specifically how you came to be together. You saw the call to battle being pounded onto every post in Havenhill, and you answered, swearing yourselves to the service of Prince Corond of Ulek.

Eventually you were all able to arrive at the Fortress of Ogard, snaking your way through hazardous, enemy-held territory, made easier by chaos and dissension in the enemy ranks. Large swaths of land in Ogard Provice are not being controlled by anyone and this has helped you go unnoticed. Signs of atrocities and property destruction are everywhere, along with evidence of enemy clans fighting each other. The following communique awaits you at Ogard, along with official letters of Marque stamped by the Prince himself:

Situation Briefing, Common Year 591, Month of Readying (the first month of Spring) Welcome! No matter your place of birth, you are all now sworn subjects of His Highness, Lord of the Peaks of Haven, Prince Olinstaad Corond of Ulek. Forthwith you will be informed of the current situation in the Principality and of your particular mission. Seven years ago this very month, as many of you are already aware, the pond-sucking, scum-fucking, shit-eating, ox-humping… … humanoid forces of the criminal and illegitimate so-called “warlord” Turrosh Mak of the Pomarj, with overwhelming numbers, invaded the Suss Forest, and thence across the Jewel River into the Ulek States. Our eastern provinces were overrun and the city of Havenhill nearly captured before our glorious counter-attack, aided materially by our great friends, the Knights of Luna, and financially by our good neighbors, the Lion Throne of Keoland.

Since that time the forces of Ulek have battled without rest to recapture our rightful lands, up to our ancient border of the Jewel River. Our enemies, as is their wont, fell to infighting and chaos and we have made great inroads against them. Their situation became so dire that just this past year Mak was forced to withdraw his human mercenaries, bandits and sell-swords from the area. The disorganization of our enemies led directly to the heroic reconquest of the Fortress of Ogard on the banks of the Jewel and of several lines of communication to and from it.

You yourself came to Ogard by circuitous routes to answer the call of His Highness. We do not expect the current favorable situation to persist indefinitely and so we must take every advantage to bring the fight to the lands of our enemies. By our best reckoning, we will have one campaign season in which to conduct “special missions” across the Jewel. You are being sent to a restored watch keep which guards the old road through the borderland between Ogard and Strandkeep, the latter now held strongly by our enemies.

Follow the instructions of the good Castellan, Dame Carspadmir Tiransdottir, and bring glory to yourselves and to Ulek. The keep itself is beyond our traditional borders and WITHIN THE POMARJ ITSELF, so exercise caution! Therefore, be informed that all lands beyond the Jewel River, and all those traveling within who do not properly establish their identities as friends of His Highness, are to be considered HOSTILE and subject to TERMINATION ON SIGHT. We trust to your discretion as agents on-the-scene.

I have authorized Dame Carspadmir to offer bounties on confirmed kills as she sees fit; she will no doubt brief you in greater detail upon your arrival. At a minimum, you shall consider all humanoid races (orc, goblinoid, ogre, troll, giant, etc) as enemies, likewise miscreants, bandits and highwaymen, as well as all agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood. I do not wish to hear of acts of mercy or kindness with regard to such.

Good Hunting!

Duke August Clinkerfire, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces of Free Ulek

Once across the river, you push on about a day’s march with several heavily-guarded supply wagons. Looming ahead on a high shelf of granite north of the road is the Keep on the Borderland. The road has climbed higher as you enter the forested and mountainous country. You now move up a narrow, rocky track. A sheer wall of natural granite is on your left, the path falling away to a steep cliff on the right. There is a small widening ahead, where the main gate to the KEEP is. The blue-clad, spear-wielding, men-at-arms who guard the entrance shout at you to give your names and state your business. All along the wall you see curious faces peering down at you – eager to welcome new champions of Ulek but ready with crossbow and pole arm to give another sort of welcome to enemies.

Your party is greeted by a human, Athatas, corporal of the guard, who examines your letters of Marque before he escorts you to the Castellan, Dame Carspadmir Tiransdottir, a humorless dwarf in magnificent full plate armor with a fine surcoat of blue. She is rumored to be the sister-daughter of Duke August. Skipping the preliminaries, she confirms the rules of engagement set down by the Duke and informs you of the current bounty levels (requires proof of kill):

Humanoids: 10 gp each

Bandit, dead: 20 gp each (Carspadmir wants them eliminated once and for all)

Bandit, alive: 50 gp (one time only, for interrogation)

Bandit leader: 100 gp dead, 200 gp alive (one time only for the second)

The Castellan also gives each of you a voucher worth 100 gp at the provisioner, trader and armorer for any equipment you may need. This is over and above your starting coin. Equipment signed out on the voucher must eventually be returned intact or the bearer will be responsible for reimbursing the keep.

It is early spring. Intermittent light rains are in the offing and runoff from the high hills swells the rivers and streams. The air smells fresher and cleaner than in Ne-Ogard but there is still the distinct taint of smoke wafting in from the east, along with the odor of fenlands to the southeast.

The humanoids are almost exclusively nocturnal and are comprised of orcs, goblins, hobgoblins and perhaps other types working in concert. We do not know how they manage this; perhaps they are under the control of Turrosh Mak himself. With the approaching good weather, more clans are sure to try to move through the area going east to west. We have already sent one team out to the east but we haven’t heard from them since. There were two dwarves, an elf and a human. Avoid the road as it is bound to be watched.”

The party split into two, the majority slowly taking the road east while Orwill and Mike tried to find some way to navigate the stream through the fens, thinking such a route stealthier and less expected.

Orwill spotted a very young bulette “land shark” floating with the current and successfully hopped on for a ride (bonus silly points for this). He hopped off when he spotted humanoid figures observing from a hill to the east, deeper in the fens. Meanwhile, the bulk of the party attempted to slowly track their expected progress.

Orwill and Mike met a group of human slaves who had escaped the orcs, living now simply for vengeance. Once bona fides and favorable intentions were established on both sides, the group – Turkey, Squirrel and Hawk (apparently having so named themselves) – agreed to act as guides and scouts. Orwill and Mike cut back to the road and rejoined the others.

Squirrel led them off the road and through the thick woods toward a large clearing. Here, said Squirrel, many tribes of humanoids had established a work site near some huge, bizarre stone portal set into a hillock. Under the direction of several ogres, they were digging at and around this portal, and attempting to pry it loose by brute force. Strange reddish runes adorned the lintel and the trees had become progressively more black and twisted as they approached the area.

Squirrel then led them to the creatures’ lair, numerous caverns set into the walls of a ravine northeast of the dig site. The party took the direct route to the nearest cave opening, whose stone portal was shaped similarly to the great portal nearby. The opening led into a natural cave, which then opened up into a worked series of caverns. It became apparent that at one time the caverns were finished in a mosaic of black and red tile, which time and disrepair had mostly stripped away, leaving a rough layer of grout or mortar.

A series of sharp skirmishes followed, during which the party defeated a great number of goblin guards and warriors of the “Lasher” tribe.  They also had a tense meeting with Kurchunk the ogre while chasing a goblin guard.  They cleverly offered him the bag of money the goblin was delivering to procure the ogre’s aid and got the ogre’s promise of future assistance.

They barely escaped with their lives, however, when a goblin hunting party returned at just the wrong time to cut them off from the outside. The party managed to collect their wounded and fight through to safety and, guided by Squirrel, who had lurked in the nearby woods, returned to the Keep to recuperate.

German gnome painting sequence

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The German gnomes are outfitted in Great War-ish uniforms:  great coats, pickelhaubs, the Kaiser gnome with his Col. Klink helmet, etc.  All paints are Vallejo unless otherwise noted.

I primed these with Floquil Light Gray.  There are a few basic figure types with different uniforms:  the Kaiser and NCO are individual with their own look.  The bulk of the figures are riflemen with pickelhaubs and greatcoats along with two bier stein grenadiers.  Then there are four militia with lederhosen, pointy hats and pitchforks.

Paint the entire faces and beards with Saddle Brown, which has a ruddy reddish tinge.  I don’t complete the faces and beards until later, unlike on the Highlanders.

Pickelhaubs are Green Ochre.  I wanted a slightly yellowish tan but I think this color is too yellow, reminiscent of WW2 German camo yellow.  But what the heck, they’re gnomes; this isn’t history class.

Great coats are (tada) German Uniform Grey, along with the NCO’s hat.

Boots, belts, and weapons in black.  Rifle stocks in Cavalry Brown.  Metal drybrushed Gun Metal.

Straps on the pickelhaubs are a dark brown, I think Saddle Brown.

I finished the faces by blocking in Medium Flesh.  Hair is drybrushed Dark Sand.  The Kaiser, old fellow that he is, got a white moustache and skunk stripe on the beard.

The militia have Ivory shirts and socks with black lederhosen and shoes.  Hats are Deep Green with a Saddle Brown strap and Scarlet pom pom doo dad on the side.  Pitchforks are Saddle Brown and Gunmetal.  Red armbands complete the militia look (gnomish Volksturm?  why not?!)

The kaiser’s helmet is glossy black with a silver eagle and spike and Brass braided band (alliteration FTW).  Epaulettes are Brass and his marshal’s baton is Gunmetal and Old Gold.

Bier stein grenades are Ivory with the pewter bits in Gunmetal with some Old Gold highlights.  What are supposed to be little Iron Crosses festoon the front.

I used Magic Wash to very carefully line some seams for contrast.  I also used thinned Liquitex Raw Umber, which I believe is easier to control.

As with the Highlanders, a coat of Krylon Crystal Clear and two coats of Testors Dullcote.  Flock as usual.  Pictures to come soon…

Next up, Sandy starts her samurai while Heather tackles the Irish!


Highlander Gnome painting sequence

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I picked up a regiment of Highlander gnomes from Brigade Games for use in Gnome Wars games at the HMGS conventions (Cold Wars, Historicon and Fall In).  Here’s my approximate painting sequence.

Clean and base.

Prime with Testors Light Earth.

Block in fleshy bits with Vallejo Medium Flesh.  I drybrushed some with Basic Skintone but after a few decided to leave well enough alone.  I washed the flesh with Magic Wash Skin then went over some highlights with Medium Flesh.  Noses and cheeks got dots of Basic Skintone to make them look jolly (for heavily armed Highlanders).

Hair drybrushed Vallejo Light Orange, except for the Berserker and his white lime do.

Kilts, sashes and tam-o-shanters with Vallejo Intermediate Green.  Washed with Magic Wash Dark Green.

Jackets with several coats of Vallejo Scarlet as the coverage was a bit weak.

Belts, shoes and hatbands in black, socks in Vallejo Sky Grey.

Hat pom poms in Off White.  I also tried to dot in the eyeballs with this color (some successfully!)

Hat band check pattern in Sky Grey.

Tartan stripes on kilt and sash with a dark blue Staedtler permanent marker.

Sword grips, polearms, gun wood, shields in Vallejo Cavalry Brown.

Gun metal and blades in Black drybrushed with Vallejo Gun Metal.  Blades edged in Silver.  Shield bosses and rivets in Gunmetal.

Sporrans in black with white tassles and slight white drybrush.

Shoe buckles, sword guards and hilts and various doo dads in Vallejo Old Gold (or Brass, I forget).

Overall shading with Magic Wash Original or Dirty Brown.

Grass Green (Folkart) or Medium Foliage Green (Ceramcoat) bases.

Coat with Krylon Crystal Clear to protect against handling.  When dry, coat with Testors Dullcote.  Two coats will probably be required.  One coat leaves a satin sheen.

Flock the bases with a mix I had of green static grass and railroad talus.  The grass is a little too bright, but heck, they’re gnomes.  Rocks and pebbles from the gutter would also work nicely in place of talus.

That’s basically it.  Next up, regiments of Samurai, Germans and Leprechaun cavalry on wolfhounds.

UPDATE:  I was informed that all the green in the color scheme made the Highlanders look too “Irish.”  I had to agree, and since we’ll be painting some Leprechauns soon I didn’t want too many green gnomes sitting around.  So I repainted the hats with Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue in an attempt to match the tartan stripes.

The Chase

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[written by Kiely]

After the men were long gone, Grolach and Kiely decided to venture after the mystery men to save the beast girl. Kiely, being the heroic one, also wanted to bring the men to justice. Bran informed “the team” about a nearby sky chariot which the men might be headed towards.They came to a forest and ,of course, everyone went inside. Later the team came to rat-tentacle thingys. Kiely knew that they were zoogs. WEIRD! They were very easy to tame with Kiely’s powers. Everyone got safely past them even though some poor people didn’t. Grolach was glad because he had a death wish. [He really wanted to die, REALLY, REALLY BADLY!] Unfortunately Grolach didn’t get his wish and he continued with the rest of the group.

Night Stalkers

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Kiely awoke with a start as rough hands seized her in the dark. She could not see the faces of the hooded figures stooped above her and she did not linger to find out who they were. Bolt upright in a flash, she slipped between the two and out the door of her private room. Sounds of struggle came from another room as she made for the stairs down to the public hall. She slid deftly down the railing as her two assailants gave chase. "Get her!", one said just a bit too loudly.

Grolach and Duco slept in a common room with a group of sweaty, drunken merchants. Ailyn was in another common room for women while Mokk had a private room complete with body servants and healers; the best was always reserved for druids and bards. Grolach was jolted awake by the shout from the corridor and got up to share a few choice words, or even some knuckles, with the unlucky boor. He instinctively grabbed his axe as he stumbled out of the room, waking Duco and several others in the process, and heard a general commotion. Someone was hurrying down the stairs while female voices called from one of the private rooms.

He poked his head into the room to see two cloaked men struggling with the girl and her mother who had garnered so much attention earlier. One of the men held the girl fast and slapped a hand over her mouth as he kicked open the window to climb or jump to the ground. The mother put up a far more effective resistance but was eventually pushed to the floor while her assailant made for the window as well. Grolach could hear the sound of horses’ hooves as boots thudded into the mud below. Not knowing what resistance he would face outside, he made for the stairs.

Kiely was there with Bran and his hounds. Her attackers fled into the night with the others to avoid a scuffle as the sounds of struggle woke up most of the patrons who weren’t dead drunk. Unfortunately, the gate guards were dead drunk, and the cloaked men easily made off with the girl on horseback.