Miniature Painting Christmas Miracle

So I wanted to tell you all a quick story.

I wanted to surprise my wife this Christmas with something I thought she’d appreciate and wouldn’t think that I’d be able to get for her.

You see, she’s been on a HeroForge kick of late. She’s been designing characters left and right. She’s even had the kids design their own characters for our home campaign.

Of note, however, was one she designated “Sky,” her air genasai bard. She absolutely fawned over this design, wanting to play her in our next campaign.

Here is the link to it.

I took careful note of this fact and filed it away for later use.

Then it happened: the perfect storm. She was busy, away from her laptop, and unlikely to show up while I did my thing. Oh, I was slick, Dear Readers!

I got on to her laptop, logged into her HeroForge account, bought the STL file, emailed it to myself, and deleted all evidence of it, down to deleting the emails in her trash.

I contacted a dear friend of mine who had been printing Battletech minis for himself and me to use when we play said game. I asked and he delivered…the Sunday before Christmas, three copies: one flawless copy exactly like the original picture, one flawed copy of the same (it had a strange flat section under the arm so I would have to create an elbow with green stuff), and a mirrored copy of the same.

In a previous conversation, I had told her that if she ordered it, which I told her she should but she declined, that I wouldn’t be willing to paint it for her. she told me that under no certain circumstances did she want me to paint it for her. That bothered me. But I let it go.

Remember how I ordered three copies? Well, I did this for a reason. I fixed and painted one of the flawed copies, the one that was exactly like the original flawless one but with the missing elbow. I fixed the elbow. I primed the mini. And I began my painstaking labor of love to paint it. Here are my steps of progress although I did not take a lot of pictures along the way.

As you can see, at the end I added dull coat to finish it off.

I had exactly one day where my wife was out of the house most of the day to work on it. One day. I worked on that thing for over 9 hours.

I can honestly say, that this was a labor of love. I still have parts of my neck and shoulders that hurt! But it was worth it.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this as much as I enjoyed painting it and seeing her face once she got to see it.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

P.S. – we haven’t really been playing so I don’t have too many games to report on. I will post what little we have played over the Christmas break at a short time later.

Dear Readers

I thought long and hard about continuing posting this week.

Due my own family activities, and likely the activities of you, my Dear Readers, I have decided to take this week off, so that all of us may enjoy our holiday.

I, for example, have soooooo much wrapping to do.

In the mean time, here are some awesome holiday-inspired D&D Monsters!

Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

Until next time…

P.S. – I will be resuming the Sunday after Christmas.

Painting Update: Manshoon and the Drider

So I finally did it! I finished Manshoon!

He turned out wonderfully. The only thing I have not done is any kind of shading. I’m still trying to get that friend of mine to help me learn that shading technique that he uses. Thus, he’s not fully finished.

In other news, I have started work on an awesome drider. Here she is:

She obviously has a lot of work left to go, but I got the majority of her arachnid body painted. And that underside was no joke!

Unfortunately, that’s all I got for today as I haven’t had a game. I will be taking a break over Christmas, with Christmas Eve Christmas day and the weekend associated being non-posting days. I want everyone to enjoy their holiday!

As always, I appreciate each and every one of you!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

How-To Paint Minis: Painting Minsc

Hello, Dear Readers!

I only have a short post as my recent MS relapse has had me in near constant doctors appointments!

That said, I have something to show you:

Isn’t he wonderful?

I finished painting his base, did some touch-up work, and shaded him.

There is a shading technique that I want to try next time, but we’ll do that on another miniature.

All I have left is to give him a dull-coat lacquer and display him proudly!

Don’t think I have forgotten our dear villain, Mansion either. He’s due some shading and then he’ll be here too.

I’m sorry for the poor quality of the photos. My phone camera stopped working since the last Android update. This will be the second replacement I will have had. Not fun at all.

In any case, since my (new) Tuesday group has yet to meet, I won’t have a game summary for you tomorrow, so likely you’ll get more miniature painting updates!

Until next time, Dear Readers…

DESIGNING ENCOUNTERS (PART 4) – HOW TO DM

Hello everyone! We’ve spent a good bit of time talking about it, so today I’d like to post up an actual encounter I designed and ran following these principles.

Our group consists of a Goblin Totem Barbarian, a Halfling Moon Druid, A Human Fighter Archer, a Human TWF Hunter Ranger, and a Tabaxi Archer Gloomstalker Ranger. Tons of HP up front with some pretty squishy folks in the back with absolutely no real magical support.

By the way, I’m running Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden for them, but this encounter is entirely my own design, so you don’t have to worry about spoilers.

So, let’s talk about tips on designing encounters in this week’s How To DM!

First, I wanted to add a little horror and inspire some fearsome creepiness. I picked Dougan’s Hole because it already had a solid “Lovecraftian” feel to it. If I got one good WTF! Moment out of this thing, I’d be satisfied.

With a party composition like that, my players were steamrolling through most of my encounters. They don’t negotiate; they certainly don’t run.

It only takes one hit point. | Dungeons and dragons memes, Dnd funny, D&d  dungeons and dragons

With no magic of their own, I just felt like loading up the enemy with spells was deliberately designing against them.

So, I rewrote Dougan’s Hole and brought in some monsters that I knew they wouldn’t recognize no matter how long they’d been playing – the Wendigo.

I pulled the monster’s stat block from Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos which is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. This book is set up for 5e with great rules for putting some horror into your D&D campaign.

The premise was – the poor town of Dougan’s Hole has resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. They have all succumbed to the influence of the Wendigo spirits.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t design encounters with a “I’ll get you my pretties for walking through my monsters!” mentality. I don’t need them to die; I just need them to believe they’re going to die. The PC’s were in Dougan’s Hole to intercept a bounty target. The innkeeper was super-friendly. Gave them great prices on rooms and bowls “of the brown” (and yes…it was Chef Boyardee with extra chef included). After a good old time, the PC’s set out to look for good ambush spots.

All they had to do was figure out a way to survive the incoming blizzard until daybreak. The encounter didn’t start until they stepped outside Dougan’s Hole’s tiny little tavern.

The tavern door will be bolted behind them. Just at the edge of the lamp light, the entire population of Dougan’s Hole – men, women, and children – will be standing silently in the frigid cold, armed with whatever they have…just watching.

I didn’t even bother to assign these people hit points. Their purpose was to rush in in a maddened frenzy and distract the PC’s (there were some jokes about how easy this was going to be). Just so I could bring the Wendigo in after 2-3 of combat.

I didn’t even bother to decide how many Wendigo there were. I brought them in slowly in small groups, had them attack and them fly off into the darkness.

However, Wendigo fly. I introduced them by having one just barely fail a check to grapple a PC and carry them off. That was a nice WTF moment, and my one warning that the PC’s were not going to be able to stand there and fight it out. They’re fighting in the dark, snow swirling with only the two whale oil lamps outside the tavern to provide weak light.

D&D Hack: A Scarlet Letter | Dungeons and dragons, Dungeons and dragons  memes, Dnd funny

So, now they’re going to have enemies on the ground that they recognize, and enemies above that they don’t know.

The villagers will attack and then suddenly rush off to the north. The Wendigo swoop in trying to carry PC’s off. One will land and attack in melee, but Wendigo only attack targets that are farthest away from the lamps as a hint that Wendigo are vulnerable to fire.

I want to guide the encounter so the PC’s end up running through the blizzard-choked streets. If they stop, they’re attacked. If they try to duck into a building the villagers start chopping at the doors, or a Wendigo crashes through the ceiling.

I want to drive them into the Speaker’s House which is the largest and best-constructed structure in the village. Of course, there is a suitably horrible tableaux inside, and – after some super-creepy dialogue – the Speaker will commit suicide in front of them by smashing lamps on the oil-soaked floor. This releases the final Big Bad Wendigo, but the fires will negate its regeneration ability, so they’ll have a fighting chance.

At this point, I want them desperate and confused. I switch targets as needed to not focus-fire a particular PC. I will leave this Wendigo locked in melee so they can kill it.

In the morning, the village is half-burned down, the entire population lies dead in the snow, there’s no loot, and they’ll all be barely alive.

Now. Here’s a beautiful thing that happened when we actually got to the table. A fellow DM’s table had most of his players no-show, so I invited them to mine. So instead of having 5 players…I had 9. But…because I had a purpose in mind…it was very easy to elevate this encounter to accommodate such a large group on the fly.

I got my share of WTF moments. My PC’s told me after how confused they were; some were already thinking of what character they would roll up next. All told…a success!

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

Tuesday Shenanigans: Disintegration

So, with me going back into full quarantine to avoid getting the current Biblical-type plague that is flying across the globe, I’ve moved my games to a virtual tabletop, specifically, Roll20. That is both a blessing and a curse.

The Good

It works like a charm, now that I’ve figured it out. I found out how to do dynamic lighting and how to give people darkvision, etc…so yeah, we are good to go. I’ve already run a number of sessions from Roll20 and, with the exception of the video and voice (which we use Discord for), we’ve had zero problems. I have the maps imported, the encounters built, etc…and it’s almost like being at the table with them.

28 of the best DnD Memes

The Bad

It is most assuredly NOT the same as being around a table. Granted, once the logistics were worked out, we were good, but there was a learning curve that playing in person just doesn’t have. Second, not everyone is actually up to playing on a virtual tabletop or actually refuse to even try. I was devastated when that exact thing happened to me this week. It happened in my Tuesday group, gutting it down to three players. Lovely. Three, although usually fine, does not make a group in this particular mixture.

dnd-memes-npc-12k

That’s the good and the bad of having to migrate to a virtual tabletop.

The Plan

Well, I have enough Discord D&D friends that I can actually put a virtual table together with my current remaining Tuesday folks. I have to come up with a TOTALLY new campaign, and frankly I have no idea what I am running. I’m considering running a bunch of level-appropriate adventures, probably unrelated, and running the campaign episodically. It’s what I am leaning towards the most.

dnd-memes-dm-rolls-12k

So, there was no campaign summary today. The “Restoration of Netheril” Tuesday group story will either die ignobly, or be reborn after there is a vaccine for the pandemic virus.

Items · A Journal of the Plague Year · Covid-19 Archive

Tomorrow, yourdorkmaterials will be finishing up his Encounter series, so stay tuned!

Until next time, Dear Readers!

Rime of the Frostmaiden: Helping Hillbillies and Delving Into a Mine

When last we left our band of heroes, they had just completed their trip to Brynn Shander to remove curses, restock their gear and head out to see about the troubles of Dougan’s Hole (they also had picked up a job delivering supplies to a reclusive gnome north of Lonelywood and heading to a pirate ship that the tabaxi rogue [whose name I can’t actually put down due to him using the name of a famous cat-person in Skyrim and that’s copyrighted] used to be crew of).

The party set off across the tundra, eschewing the roads in favor of the short cut, due to the ranger’s favored terrain being tundra. Along the way, they had a short encounter with some wolves that ended peaceably with the party feeding the poor creatures.

The party arrived in Dugan’s Hole.

There wasn’t much there, in terms of friendliness, services, nor comforts. It was a town on the fringes, and everyone seemed to resemble everyone else, with mild to moderate deformities running rampant. This was a town that…kept things in the family.

They hear whispered rumors of a pair of winter wolves trying to extort the town of treasure and food. They had apparently already been party to kidnapping two teens, whom the town speaker presumed dead.

Deciding to try their luck, they left town and, sure enough, was approached by a limping winter wolf.

Talking with them, the party was suspicious of their actual motivations, but decided to go with them to deal with the alleged frost giant they claimed was abusing them.

They found the lodge, huge and made of ice. The wolves stayed outside, claiming that the giant was gone and willing to signal his return. Still suspicious, the party entered anyways.

The rogue scouted ahead silently, finding a dead giant as well as a mammoth, apparently awakened, mourning the loss of its master.

The party approached, and the madness screamed at them as if they were to blame for the death of the frost giant. As it began to charge, the party was able to calm it, and get it to talk.

They found that the frost giant had been killed by another group of adventurers. The party cleric agreed to perform a funeral right on behalf of the frost giant, composing a wonderful and well thought-out ode.

Well this was going on, the party continue to explore the hold, in the process finding three kobolds, who had snuck in but were trapped due to the killer mammoth. The party agreed to help them get out and in exchange, the kobolds said they would serve the party. This really didn’t matter, as the party forgot about them as the dwarf went outside to check on the wolves only to be attacked by them!

The battle was pitched, with the dwarf nearly being killed. But the party won in the end, skating the wolves and taking some of the loot from the lodge with them. They headed back to Dugan’s Hole, the captives in tow, with a grateful populace.

Deciding that their work there was done, the party headed out toward Brynn Shander, to resupply, and make their way north to Termalaine.

Termalaine was apparently having troubles with cobalts in their mines.

Arriving at Termalaine, the party quickly found that the speaker one a contentious election, the opposing side being a Zhentarim agent. They found that the senior officers of the Town watch had somehow been influenced by this agent. The party immediately knew that the person behind all of the trouble was the speaker of Targos. Deciding to deal with that issue later, the party agreed to go into the mine to deal with their kobold problem.

The party entered the mine, soon coming across two kobolds trying to sabotage a wooden walkway. Capturing them, the party intimidated them into taking the party to their leader, Trex, who suddenly became smarter and more well-spoken.

The party descend further into the mine, soon feeling like they were being watched, but not seeing anything.

The party soon met Trex, the smart kobold.

The kobold, in perfect common, explained that they moved into the mine because they were forced out of Kelvin’s Cairn by yeti, and that all they wanted was to be given a chance in town. The party agreed to be go-betweens with the town speaker.

Suddenly, the rogue felt a tug at his consciousness. Investigating a side cave, he found a strange crystal…

Psi Crystal

After some trial and error, the party wizard came to the conclusion that it was a psi crystal, a psionic object, and that it was “pulling” at the wielder’s consciousness towards a location far to the south, in the mountains.

The party decided that they needed to deal with the creature stalking them, and then with the kobolds.

Will the party successfully negotiate on behalf of the kobolds? Will they be able to face off against that strange foe stalking them? Time will tell…

Until next time, Dear Readers!

How To DM – Building Encounters (Part Three)

Hello Everyone and welcome! Last week we discussed some numbers and mechanics. Today, I’d like to talk about some ideas I use to balance out an encounter but still leave it challenging for everyone. For me, designing an encounter and then running that encounter are two entirely different things.

So let’s talk for a minute about design balance using our 5 man party and those 52 kobolds.

How Terrain Helps. This is probably not the first time some hostiles have wandered into the kobold’s home, so they probably have taken at least some measures to build defenses. They’re small and individually weak, so ranged weapons and spears make sense to me. They’re also expert tunnellers so modifying a cave is no great task.

If I can put archers on a ledge of some kind with some cover so melee combatants can’t reach them easily, then that’s worth about an extra 10 kobolds or so. So, I reduce their numbers to 42. If they’ve also cleared out the entrance so the enemy has no cover, then I would drop their total by another 5. The melee characters can’t get to them, and the party’s ranged characters can only kill 2 kobolds a turn. 15 archer kobolds on a ledge is still plenty of firepower, and we’re down to 37 kobolds to assign.

Surely, they would have erected some barriers or perhaps dug pits to hinder/direct enemy charges. If the melee’s can only reach them single file while the kobolds attack them from cover with spears, then that’s worth another 10 kobolds to me. So, now we’re down to 27 total, and I would put 10 spearmen up front.

My party is very weak on the magic side. A kobold sorcerer with the right spells could easily be worth another 10 kobolds. We’ll talk about spells more in a moment, but a single sorcerer now brings us down to 7 “unassigned” kobolds, and I might just eliminate them all-together or just use them as reinforcements.

Spells, Spells, Spells. Boy, these can make an encounter go south quickly for the party and for your monsters. I find that most of the spell selections given in a creature’s stat block to be circumstantial or useless really. I just cut them out; it’s less for me to keep up with.

How to pick them fairly though? I usually avoid “save or suck” spells that just take a player out of the game. No one likes it when their bad-ass barbarian is just sitting there paralyzed and none of the other players can do anything about it. In my opinion, I would just be punishing the party because no one wanted to play a cleric.

I will normally choose one useful combat spell per level and let it go at that, but spells should be useful to the monsters’ community and not tailor-made to specifically counter your party.

Give Your Monster’s A Goal. Especially, your more intelligent ones. Most creatures, even animals, are not going to fight to the death unless they have no other option. These kobolds probably want to left alone. They are fighting to protect their turf and community, but they’re probably not going to be psychopathic about it. If they can drive off a threat without a bunch of them getting hurt, then wouldn’t that be the best option for them?

This also can open up great role-playing opportunities as the players try to parley for information or safe passage. If the PCs are looking for an ogre’s lair and the kobolds know where it is, why wouldn’t they give that ogre up? Murderous adventurers and hungry ogre gone.

Be Realistic in Your Targeting. This is the last point I’d like to make. I like to play my monsters as smart and prepared as they would realistically be. If a kobold can safely shoot a PC, then that’s probably who they would choose, especially if there’s no strong commander. They’re not suicidal after all. Be careful about Int 7 creatures always making the most optimal choice in who they attack. This gives me a framework to use in response to the PC’s tactical choices.

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

Apologies

Hey, Dear Readers,

Due to the fact that I just got out of the hospital and am really fighting this relapse ending, I won’t likely be posting much until Monday and Wednesday.

I am so sorry. I feel like I’m letting you all down.

This is NOT the end of The Daily DM, though! I’ll be back in full-swing in about a week or so. I have a lot of stuff planned:

-A holiday session with the adventure “How the Lich Stole Christmas”
-More from my sessions on Sundays and Tuesdays
-yourdorkmaterials is still doing “How-To DM” and “DM Stories”

Stay Tuned!

Rime of the Frostmaiden: Operation “Housekeeping” a Success

Dear Readers, due to my having just been discharged from the hospital yesterday, I missed getting my post out, and we didn’t end up playing. Therefore, today I’ll be giving a brief overview of what happened Sunday to make up for missing that post. Thanks for your love and understanding.

~The Daily DM

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We last left our heroes in Good Meade, where they were investigating rumors of giants and the flow of mead being interrupted.

Getting into town and heading over to the mead hall, they almost immediately ran into a man rushing into town disturbed over finding 5 members of the town watch bashed to a pulp. Heading to the mead hall, the party found the townsfolk having issues with choosing a new town speaker due to the last one getting killed by some sort of giant who stole their last kegs of mead, leaving them dry.

Deciding to help the town recover their mead and put down the threat to them from these giants, the party headed the direction of the giants, eventually coming across a mammoth skull that made for a very convenient bridge to some caves where the tracks led. Along the way they saw two sets of prints: some large giant creature and that of an ogre. Lovely.

Making their way inside, the party decided to actually try “Operation: Housekeeping” again. What is this, you may ask?

Well, since the beginning of this campaign, whenever they approach a place that they plan on making a frontal assault onto, they announce themselves as “Housekeeping!” with the hopeful intent on actually pulling it off and getting access to the premises. This had not so far worked. Yet. But we’ll get to that.

In any case, they came across the ogre and fought it, dispatching it easy enough, as well as the “giant” which was found to be a furbeeg. Not too shabby with a full party of 7 characters. They ran into a polar bear, but convinced it with a Handle Animal check to have at the goats and sheep in the pen in the cave instead of them.

Wandering further inside to loot the place and look for the kegs, the party found an ancient burial chamber, taking the wand of the warmage and the pearl of power that they found there. One of the two thought this suspicious that there weren’t some sort of protection on them. Hmm…

Remember how I said that “Operation: Housekeeping” was coming up? Yeah, so they began to leave when they heard a voice outside, calling presumably to the former furbeeg occupant of the caves. Imagine a lady furbeeg that has the voice like that of Grenda from the show “Gravity Falls.” Apparently, she was a suiter of the male furbeeg that lay dead beyond her sight in the cave.

The half-orc, having actually purchased a French-maid type costume back in Brynn Shander, decided to shoot his shot to keep her outside. The exchange was something like this:

“Duhg, you home?!” calls out the furbeeg.
“Uhh, not really…” says the party.
“Who are you?!”
“Housekeeping!” (rolls CHA (Deception) check…gets good roll)
Me, rolling WIS (Insight) check: a Nat 1. Holy smokes.
“She believes you.”
“OPERATION HOUSEKEEPING A SUCCESS!!!”
“What happened to Duhg?”
“His polar bear got him. We couldn’t save him.”
“AAAAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!” (she proceeds to fight the polar bear in revenge then goes to bury Duhg)
The party takes the casks and leave.

At some point when almost back to Good Meade, the party found out that she realized the wounds weren’t from a polar bear. She came after them. They took her out pretty easily due to her weakened state from the polar bear combat.

Walking triumphantly into town, the party returned the mead and, after a brief strange encounter where the (just found to be) Zhentarim dwarf was defeated in the election of the Town Speaker over the woman who genuinely cares for the town itself.

During their long rest, the party found that two of their member were plagued with nightmares, unable to get any rest. Remember those magic items? Cursed. They headed back to Brynn Shander for a couple castings of remove curse with the intention of heading out to Dugan’s Hole the next day.

What will they find there? There were rumors of wolves plaguing the town, but, as it has always seemed, there is generally more than meets the eye going on!

Until next time, Dear Readers…