Saturday, April 25, 2009

D&D (3rd Ed) PC: Harkin the Half-Elven

Stalking enemies amidst the wilds of the Forgotten Realms, Harkin is represented by Wizards of the Coast Gray Cloak Ranger, Collector # 16/60, of their Arch Fiends set.

Harkin explores the entrance of Ashardalon (The Sunless Citadel). Immediately after the launch of Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition, Wizards of the Coast published a series of adventure modules to support their new product. The Sunless Citadel is one such module for 1st-level adventurers:

Hmmm. This set of ruins looks identical to the one Borgil is pictured exploring. Could they be portals between Middle Earth and the Forgotten Realms?

Harkin's Baptism of Fire:

A ranger from the wilds of Comyr, Harkin encountered fellow adventurers on the road to Oakhurst: Pilga, the Half-Orc Cleric of Ilmater; Shem, the Halfling Sorcerer and a Dwarven Rogue, known to them only as "The Dwarf with no Name." (In actually he was Ondahl the Silent Killer).

The four stopped a band of Zhentarim thugs from severing the hand of a farmboy in the village square. This was "punishment" for not paying tribute to Zhentil Keep and the Church of Bane. Unfortunately the accidental heroes were too late to stop the brutes from poisoning Oakhurst's well.

A local sage informed the party that only the White Apple from the Golthias Tree will cure the poison in their well. This fabled tree is said to be rooted in the center of the ruins of Ashardalon, a citadel swallowed by earth long ago.

Setting out immediately, the party followed the trail of two other adventurers: Sherwin the Human Sorceres and Sir Bradford the Human Paladin. The heroes discovered the "Sunless Citadel" at the bottom of a deep crevass and fought their way past goblins and bugbears inhabiting the ancient ruins.

They discovered the Golthias Tree was corrupted by the evil Druid Belak while Sherwin and Sir Bradford were turned into "Bark Minions." After killing Belak, along with putting Sherwin and Sir Bradford out of their misery, Harkin found one white apple. After plucking the precious fruit, the party set fire to the deformed tree.

Their return to Oakhurst however, was not a happy occassion for they found the village razed to the ground. All the villagers were either killed or carried off. Wanted Notices bearing their names were scattered among the remaining bodies. A bounty of 1,000 Gold Crowns was offered to anyone delivering their heads to Zhentarim Agents or Bane Cultists.

Harkin dropped the White Apple into the well. After hearing the lonely splash, he turned to his newfound companions and said "Maybe life will return here someday."

Avoiding Zhentil Keep's dark minions, the heroes made their way to Blasingdell reportedly terrorized by bands of roving Orcs. Once within the town's walls, they were joined by the Elf Warrior, Thelanis Menelmacar (the subject of a later post) and Selinda, the Bardess.

Blasingdell's Elders inform the party their town is practically beseiged by Orcs from Stone Tooth Mountain, located between the River Surbrin and the Moonwood Forest. The next morning the party set out to investigate.

As Blasingdell's inhabitants anxiously wait, Zhentarim Agents scour the roads and trails hoping to collect the reward when the heroes return...

(Note: A friend of mine started running a Forgotten Realms Campaign. Unfortunately we haven't been able to re-connect with him since he moved after we started the second adventure).

Harkin's Stats

Campaign: Forgotten Realms Class: Ranger

Race: Male Half-Elf Alignment: LG Level: 3

Height: 5' 7" Weight: 140 lbs Eyes: Green Hair: Brown
Initiative: +1 Base Attack: +3 Speed: 20

Saving Throws: Fort-3, Ref-2, Will-1

Attack Bonuses: Ranged +5, Melee +4

Abilities: Str-12, Dex-13, Con-11, Int-10, Wis-11, Cha-10

HP: 25 AC: 16

Favored Enemies: Goblinoids

Special Abilities/Feats: Point-Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (Composite Longbow)

Skills (Trained): Handle Animal, Hide, Intuit Direction, Jump, Move Silently, Ride, Swim, Use Rope, Wilderness Lore

Languages: Common, Elven, Damarran, Giant, Gnome, Orc, Sylvan

Weapons: Mighty Composite Longbow (+1 to dmg), Shatterspike Longsword (+4 to dmg), dagger

Armor: Scalemail, Shield (small)

Ammunition: 60 arrows, 10 drugged arrows (w/sleeping potion), 10 silver arrows

Equipment: Quiver (for 20 arrows), Backpack, Rope, Mapcase, Waterskin, Bedroll, Signal Whistle, Oil Flask (x2), Flint & Steel, Belt Pouch, Traveler's Outfit, Cloak, Crowbar, Steel Mirror, Chalk, Hammer, Pitons (x12), Tinder Twigs (x5), Torches (x2)

Potions: Endure Fire, Cure Moderate Wounds

Money/Treasure: CP-200, SP-180, Gp-67

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lord of the Rings RPG PC: Borgil of Bree

Answering the muster of the Dunedain, Borgil is represented by Wizards of Coast Freeleague Ranger, Collector # 14/60, from their Blood War set.

Borgil explores ancient ruins found between Fornost and Bree. This Hilltop Temple was orignally part of Geo-Hex's Battleground Set. Geo-Hex went out of business in 2003, but the Hilltop Temple is available from Monday Knight Productions:

1st Level Warrior

After escorting a caravan to Fornost, Borgil receives a message from a fellow Dunedain, a mysterious ranger known only as "Strider."
The message reads: Meet me at the Inn of the Prancing Pony.

Borgil sets off the next morning but runs into trouble along the way...

(Note: A friend of mine was going to run a Lord of the Rings RPG campaign, so with his help I rolled-up this character. However, shortly after creating my PC, he moved and we haven't been able to connect. So Borgil has yet to start his adventures.)
Borgil's Stats
Race: Male Dunedain Age: 25 Size: Medium Hair: Red Eyes: Green
Height: 5' 10" Weight: 190 lbs
Corruption: 0 Courage: +4 Renown: 0
Init: +5 Defense: +12
Languages: Common, Westron, Sindarin
Attributes: Bearing 10, Nimbleness 10, Perception 8, Strength 8, Vitality 10, Wits 8
Reactions: Stamina +1, Swiftness +4, Willpower +2, Wisdom +2
Order Abilities: Evasion

Edges: Warwise, Lionhearted, Wary
Skills (Trained): Armed Combat-3, Climb-1, Healing-2, Inspire-2, Intimidate-1, Jump-1, Observe-1, Ranged Combat-3, Ride-2, Run-1, Stealth-2, Survival-1, Track-1, Unarmed Combat-2
Regional Lore (Intermediate): Mordor, Rhudaur, Moria, Misty Mountains

Weapons: Longbow w/quiver & 20 arrows, Longsword
Armor: Chainmail, Shield
Equipment & Gear: Backpack, Blanket, Clothes (ordinary), Rope, Waterskin, Torch, Travel Rations (1 week)
Wealth: 11 Copper Pieces
Ancestors of Note: It is rumored that one of Borgil's ancestors was Isildur's standard bearer. No proof of this has yet been found.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

This picture and what it represents today leaves me speechless.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

First Impressions: Age of Dreadnoughts

Age of Dreadnoughts (AoD) is Mongoose Publications' latest release in their Victory at Sea (VaS) series. The original VaS is a popular "beer and pretzels" set of rules covering World War II naval combat. This popularity is, in part, due to the coincidental release of Wizards of the Coast's (WotC) Axis and Allies: War at Sea in 2007. So in one fell-swoop naval miniature enthusiasts had a set of easy rules and pre-painted, plastic ship miniatures to fight their table-top battles.

AoD in contrast, takes a step back time-wise to the battleship clashes of the First World War. The hardcover book weighs-in at 128 pages. But despite the length, the rules themselves comprise only 28 pages. The remaining portions of the book consist of: Scenario and campaign guidelines (29 pages); the Fleet Lists for the UK, US, German, Russian and Turkish navies (75 pages); along with 2 pages of black & white playing aids.

Each game turn is divided into several phases: Pre-Game Scouting (1st turn only), Initiative, Movement, Gunnery Attack, Torpedo Attack, Air Attack and the End Phase. The time-scale of each turn is not defined and the surface-scale is roughly 1 inch = 500 yards, which is geared for 1/6000 to 1/2400-scale miniatures.

Avoiding a tedious Order Writing Phase to reflect simultaneous movement, AoD employs the simpler "Igo-Ugo" method. This is where winning the initiative each turn is important. A player holding the initiative can either move first, or force his opponent to tip his hand by having him move first instead.

The Pre-Game Scouting Phase is an abstract way of determining which player's scout ships are more effective (or lucky) in finding the enemy. The winner receives a positive modifier for several Initiative Phases. As previously discussed, the Initiative Phase determines who moves and fires first. In the Movement Phase, players move ships singly or entire squadrons of up to 6 vessels in an alternate-move fashion. That is, Player A moves a ship/squadron, then Player B does, and so on until all ships and/or squadrons have finished moving. Opponents then fire at each other, if within range, during the Gunnery Attack Phase. If any ships are carrying torpedoes or there's aircraft present, then these weapons are moved and their attacks resolved in the Torpedo Attack and Air Attack Phases, respectively. The End Phase is where fire-fighting and damage control are conducted as well as any book keeping issues are completed.

Ships can attack enemy vessels within range of their guns (main, secondary and tertiary) or torpedoes. For each weapon eligible to fire or attack, one or more Attack Dice (AD, a 1D6) are rolled. If a die-roll is equal to or greater than the ship's Target Number, a hit is scored. For every hit, roll the number of Damage Dice (DD, a 1D6) listed in the weapon's DD Score. For every die-roll equal to or greater than the target's Armor Value, 1 point of damage is inflicted on the enemy ship. When a ship's damage points reaches zero, the ship sinks.

Other colorful items such as Special Traits, Special Actions, Crippled Ships, Skeleton Crews and Critical Hits affect the performance of ships under fire. The 12-page Advanced Rules include squadron formations, bad weather, night actions, submarines, shore batteries, mines, submarines and aircraft.

While AoD is geared for easy, balanced tournament-style games, 5 historical scenarios are also included along with an abstract campaign game. The Fleet Lists provides the information on the various ships of the main protagonists: The British Royal Navy and the German High Seas Fleet. Smaller fleets from the US, Turkey and Russia are also included. However, no other national navies are currently represented.

Having played a couple of solitaire sessions of VaS, I found the AoD rules very familiar. While helpful, you don't need to know anything about VaS to understand the game mechanics of AoD. The rules definitely lean towards "game" as opposed to "simulation" and is ideal for beginners. It's also a great set of rules for more experienced players who want to take a break from more complex games.

Now for a salvo of bad news. While the rules are easy to follow the book is poorly edited. Starting on page 3, there is a reference to "Chapter XX." At first I thought this was Chapter "Roman Numeral Twenty." When I came across another "Chapter XX", along with a "page xx," I realized there is no Chapter "Roman Numeral Twenty." In fact, none of the chapters are numbered. While I can forgive a few glitches like this, I find this to be extremely irksome, especially when every page or chapter reference in this $30 rulebook is printed this way.

The use of "xx's" or other symbols is a writer's technique used while working on a rough draft. You're typing-up page 6 for example, and know you need to reference a particular fact that will appear later, but you don't know yet where it will end up within the book. So you type an "xx," or "insert pg # here;" or anything else to remind you to go back and fill in the xx's with the appropriate data. This helps maintain a writer's creative flow.

In this case, it's as if the publishing company grabbed the author's rough draft and express mailed it to the printers without bothering to edit or proofread the material. Or better yet--getting someone else proofread the rules. This basic mistake should have been easily caught long before this rulebook went to print.

Fortunately, there's an Errata Page available on-line:

I like the rules and give this product a 4-star rating. I'd love to give it a 5-star rating but the lack of proofreading is a bothersome issue for this $30 book. I'd be more forgiving of this if AoG was Mongoose Publication's first naval warfare product.

It's not.

AoG is, as previously mentioned, derived from VaS while VaS in turn, is derived from Babylon 5: A Call to Arms, space combat game. So Mongoose Pubs should have plenty of experienced folks on hand to get the proofreading right.

The on-line errata damage control prevents this rulebook from sinking to a 3-star rating.

So if you're interested in World War I table-top naval combat and want an easy set of rules, then Age of Dreadnoughts fits the bill.

Just be sure to download the errata and grab your pen...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Droids Need Enhancement Too...

No wonder the Trade Federation developed the Super Battle Droids.

Seriously, I'm a big fan of Wizards of the Coast (WotC) Star Wars Miniatures. In fact, I'm also an avid collecter of their Dugeons & Dragons Miniatures and especially of their Axis & Allies: War at Sea/Task Force naval miniatures. I even have an entire case of the upcoming Flank Speed on pre-order.

Despite my admiration of these pre-painted products, some miniatures may have one drawback: Being made of soft plastic, a figure's pose may not be as, ah...firm, as should be. The Droopy Droid pictured above is a Battle Droid Sniper, Collector # 23/40, and is part of WotC's Clone Wars Set.

Another point to consider when purchasing WotC miniatures: The figures in most sets are packaged at random and each miniature has a Rarity Factor. This is similar to collectible card games, where figures are rated according to how many are produced and referred to as: Common (C), Uncommon (U), Rare (R) and Very Rare (VR).

This is fine in order to generate enthusiasm among collectors but can be irritating to wargamers. Buying packages of unknown figures is not a cost-effective way to raise legions of dreaded stormtroopers, strike teams of rebel commandos and hordes of battle droids.

My solution is to buy a Starter Kit and/or Booster Pack of each set in order to see if I "win the mini lottery." That is, lucking-out and getting a rare or very rare figure. Then I'll buy miniatures from sites that sell them individually.

My favorite site is The Miniature Market:

I can usually get "rank & file" figures for less-than $1 to $3 each and characters for $4 on up; sometimes less if a they're having a sale. The Miniature Market also offers a "stimulus package" of free shipping--IF you spend $75 or more. Which, of course, I always do. (Hey, my shopping cart's already at $60, what's another $15, right?).

All the figures stand on black bases which can be painted and flocked at the owner's discretion. Since I find these distracting, I spent the extra time and effort in creating appropriate terrain for each base.

WARNING: Use acrylic paint when painting the bases! Oil-based model paints don't adhere well to the soft plastic and remains sticky even after drying.

I give WotC's miniatures a 5-star rating and am very happy with everything I've purchased--even the Droopy Droid.

For more information on WotC's Star Wars Miniatures and Role-Playing Game, log on to:

Star Wars RPG PC: Niht Genga, Twi'lek Scout

Niht Genga is represented by the Twi'Lek Scout figure, Collector # 17/60, from Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Miniatures Legacy of the Force Set.

Niht's vehicle is represented by the Rebel Snowspeeder, Collector # 12/60, from Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Miniatures Bounty Hunters Set.

Niht Genga
(Size--Medium) Twi'lek Scout 5

Born into the service of House Malentha in the Tapani sector, Niht witnessed an act of cowardice from his master Bal Jaset. Accompanying Bal on the annual Vor-cal Safari, they were surprised by a ferocious Nexu. As Bal fled for his life, Niht killed the beast with his master’s discarded rifle. The Twi’lek stealthily made his way back to camp where he overheard Bal claim Hiht attacked him but was devoured by the hungry Nexu.

Knowing that he faced a death-sentence for assaulting a Tapani nobleman, Niht made his way off Vilhon and out of the Tapani jurisdiction by signing on as a crewmember of an HT-2200 class light freighter.

Eking out a living as best he could, Niht found himself on Coruscant. No sooner than he landed at the spaceport, he ran afoul of a covert squad of battle droids involved in a fire-fight with the Jedi Padawans Lacto Ovo and Ewan. He boarded their ship as they took off and helped destroy a pirate base hidden on an asteroid.

Upon returning from this mission, Niht was snatched by two bounty hunters--Bal Jaset had a score to settle. Niht was taken back to Vilhon where Bal planned on hunting Niht as the main event in this year's Vor-cal Safari. Fortunately Niht was rescued by his friends and Bal's cowardice exposed. (See details in Star Wars RPG Adventures Vendetta on Vilhon).

Niht is still in the company of the Jedi Padawans Ewan and Lacto Ovo, along with the Kel Dor technician Took Ilo Donin and the human scout Bail. The party is concluding its investigation of an ancient temple where they discovered two Sith Holocrons in a tomb. Niht and Ewan escaped a trap within the tomb and discovered another chamber containing red crystals radiating Dark Side Energy. (See details in Star Wars RPG Adventures The Puyallup Padawans and the Crystaline Chamber).

Niht Genga's Stats

Destiny: -- Force: 6 Dark Side: 3

Init: +3 Senses:

Languages: Basic and Ryl

Defenses: Ref-20, Fort-17, Will-17

HP 49; Threshold 19

Speed: 6

Base Atk: +3

Abilities: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 12

Talents: Expert Tracker, Acute Senses, Improved Initiative

Feats: Blaster Pistols, Blaster Rifles, Simple Weapons, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot

Skills (Trained): Initiative +5, Perception +5 , Pilot +5 , Ride +5 , Stealth + 5, Survival +5

Possessions: Blaster Rifle, Heavy Blaster Pistol, Dueling Blaster Pistol (+1 to hit), Knife, All-Tempurature Cloak, Electro-Binoculars, Glow Rod, Grappling Spike Launcher, Breath Mask, Medikit, Liquid Cable Dispenser, Com Link, Data Pad w/Link, Energy Cells (x4), Power packs (x6) and Credit Chip

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Sibling Coffee War

First my sister Roxanne posted this picture using her D&D miniatures on her blog in honor of Caffeine Appreciation Month.

Then my sister Erika retaliated by posting this picture on using her daughter's Star Wars action figures.