Monthly Archives: August 2013

Goblin Skulls & Shackles, Session 9 – Rickety Squibs

A couple of new mechanics were introduced in this session: Infamy & Disrepute and Plunder. Infamy & Disrepute is important for the PCs to gain a reputation among the other pirate crews and settlements in the area and be able to use that influence on their crew. Plunder is an abstract way of tracking wealth so that we don’t have to log every bolt of cloth and sack of grain plundered ships are carrying. That kind of book keeping can get really tedious. I handed all the relevant tracking forms off to Captain Spack Jarrow’s player.

After two days of hard sailing, and a near-bout of Ghoul Fever for Captain Spack Jarrow, Man’s Promise* arrived at Rickety Squibs. A longboat rowed out to meet them as they entered the harbor. Once it was established the goblins weren’t there for raiding, negotiations began for the squibbing of the ship. Squibbing involves altering the ship’s lines so that it looks different, yet retains the same capabilities. Rickety Hake doesn’t care who the ship is crewed by, as long as they can pay. And even if they can’t, he’s willing to take a percentage until the work is done. And thus was the agreement the goblins entered into with Rickety Hake: he gets 1/3rd of their plunder, paid monthly, until their debt is paid, plus 500 pieces of gold for a wider rudder to improve maneuverability.

Rickety’s laborers helped secure the ship in drydock and work began. Garagornne befriend a goblin dog that wandered into the settlement and calmed him down before the workers were able to kill him. She called him “Dimly.” The goblins and crew spent a day in the Commons drinking, carousing, and generally telling tales of their exploits, while the hammering, sawing, and cursing continued around their ship non-stop. Despite themselves, Rickety’s workers were impressed by the goblin pirates and invited them down to the beach for some drinking and to play Nine Pin. As they were complaining about the oppressive heat and dryness associated with the drought, despite the air’s humidity, one of the workers was dragged into the water by an aggressive water naga. Once she was done eating him, she turned her attentions to the goblins.

The goblins did not hesitate to wade into the fray and despite the naga’s ferocity, defeated her. Sadly, the worker was not among the living after the battle and Shahn Dook Pizzard and Brodo Faggins both were suffering from the naga’s virulent poison. They tended to their wounded as they contemplated what could have driven the naga from her usual hunting ground….

I intended to run a short one-shot or two-shot adventure of a different game in between Adventure Path modules. Unfortunately, I forgot about that. I was also exhausted from Gen Con, so I was not as energetic as I should have been for this session and I cut things short. That’ll teach me to schedule a game the Friday after Gen Con.

*I’m sure my players will correct me on the name of their ship, but until the refit is complete, “Man’s Promise” is the name on the side of the ship, and that is what I will call it. :p


Categories: Pathfinder | Tags: , , , ,

Dem Bones – Not Reaper Bones, but still miniatures!

Since I have a ton of unpainted minis, while I’m going through my Reaper Bones, I’m also painting up some of the metal minis that have languished, paintless and naked for far too long. Since my goblin pirate campaign is going strong, I’m concentrating on painting up a bunch of pirate minis right now.

Powder MonkeyFirst up is a Powder Monkey that came with the goblin gunslinger mini I painted several months ago. He’s not really going to have a major part to play, but I think I will throw him on the ship just for fun.

CaptainNext is a pirate captain. He’s a lot more civilized-looking than the main antagonist of the campaign so far, so this mini might stand in for a different pirate captain whenever I need one. Close inspection will reveal that I mistakenly painted his hands as gloves (he only has bracers and the cuffs of his frilly shirt stick out from under them). By the time I realized those were NOT gloves on his hands, I couldn’t be arsed to change it….so he’s wearing gloves that his shirt partially covers AND bracers. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Pirate wParrotFinally, my personal favorite of the batch: a one-legged pirate with a parrot. I especially like the parrot, even though it looks like I need to go back and paint the parrot’s eye. I used a scarlet macaw for reference.

All of these miniatures were painted with a combination of Vallejo paints and Privateer Press P3 paints. Unlike the Bones miniatures, I primed these before painting them. There’s no step-by-step photos because I’m mostly just showing them off (although you can see them in various stages in the backgrounds of some of the Bones photos).

Categories: Bones Miniatures | Tags:

Dem Bones – Pirate Lass, Famale Gnome, Dwarf Pirate, and Totally-Not Space Marine

Sorry for the LONG delay. Gen Con happened. For my next painting trick, I chose a smattering of smaller miniatures. To start, I washed them all in warm, soapy water, gave them a good rinse and let them dry.

All 4 Clean Reverse All 4 Clean

Two of them, a Nova Corp Female and Mariel Twinspar needed to be straightened out. You can see here how much they were leaning.

Unwrapped & Bent

To straighten them, I boiled a small pot of water. I also prepared another container of iced water, not unlike one does when one is blanching vegetables. I held the minis in the boiling water for no more than ten seconds. I used a hemostat for the first one, which actually caused a noticeable dent in the base.  The other I just used my fingers and immersed the base. I could feel the plastic change and the minis straightened themselves out, mostly.  To fix them, I plunged them into the ice bath. This was the result: Straightened

After that, I trimmed them as best I could, but I’ve found, so far, it’s really hard to tell what needs to be trimmed when Bones are unpainted. For these four, I decided to go with a base coat of Cold Grey.

All 4 Basecoat All 4 Base coat reverse

The base coat did identify a few areas I wanted to trim. I then painted a few other minis while I waited for my base coat to dry. Once the base coat dried, I started putting on some colors. Much to my annoyance, I noticed some of the paint didn’t adhere as well as I would have liked. I’m not sure if this is an issue with the consistency of the paints or if maybe I just didn’t shake them enough. I think on the next set of Bones I paint, I’ll do away with the base coat altogether and just put the colors I want directly on the unpainted surface. I’ll be sure to pick just a couple (or maybe just one) of the minis I’m not likely to ever use (like Mister Bones) for that particular experiment.

Ingrid 1st Colors

Ingrid here is going to end up standing in for a female halfling pirate in my campaign named Rosie Cuswell. I’m going to go with a darker palette for her.

Gruff 1st Colors

Gruff is going to stand in for another NPC in the same campaign, Ambrose “Fishguts” Kroop. He’s not a dwarf, but rather a fat, drunken, ship’s cook. This particular miniature is large enough, scale-wise, to easily pass as a slovenly human, and so he shall be. Shortly after I finished today’s painting session, I drilled out the hole in his cleaver. Though his initial paint job will make him look pretty clean, I’m going to try to figure out a way to dirty him up. Hygiene has no place in a pirate ship’s galley.

Mariel 1st Colors

Mariel is also going to stand in for an NPC, Sandara Quinn. She’s one of the PCs’ staunchest allies and even though she’s a priestess of Besmara, I’m going to go with a bright, pirate-y color palette because this miniature will probably end up being used for lots of female pirates in the future since I have a grand total of two female pirate miniatures.

Nova Corp F 1st colors

This is the first Bones mini that actually got unwrapped, aside from Kaladrax the Reborn. Her baggie was never sealed, so she fell out when I was going through the Vampire box. I’m going with a military-style palette because these Nova Corp minis are going to be used for just about any non-Imperial security force in future Star Wars games (especially Corporate Sector Authority Espos).

—- You can’t tell, but I went to Gen Con in between writing the first part and finishing this blog post —-

Since I was not satisfied with the way my Vallejo paints were performing, even on the base-coated minis (and maybe the sculpts weren’t that good, either), I purchased a whole MESS of Privateer Press P3 paints during the hiatus at Gen Con. I finished up the miniatures with those.

I cannot say yet how well the P3 paints perform on naked Bones versus the Vallejo, but they worked well enough to finish up the minis. Based on a few metal minis I painted at the same time (there will be a brief post about those later), I think part of the problem is with the Bones minis themselves. I think some of the sculpts just aren’t as detailed as some of the others, so when I paint them together, I get inconsistent results. Mariel vs. Gruff is a very good example of that. Mariel just didn’t see to have a lot of definition, whereas Gruff had more. Neither of them had as much as the fire giant.

So, I’m less than thrilled with the way these turned out. It also didn’t help (particularly on the Nova Corp Female) that my hand was shaking too much to get some of the lines as fine as I wanted. If I had to rate my own work, I would rate Mariel as poor, Gruff, Ingrid, and the Nova Corp Female as just O.K.

Mariel Front Mariel ReverseI think Mariel suffered from a lack of detail in the sculpt.

Gruff Front Gruff ReverseGruff turned out OK. The inconsistency of the paint on his shirt and do-rag actually helped dirty him up.

Ingrid Front Ingrid ReverseIngrid turned out OK, too. Her base was mostly rocks, and my dry brushing didn’t come through in the picture as well as I hoped. Neither did the glossy effect I attempted on the gem in her hand.

Nova Corp F Nova Corp F reverseThe Nova Corp Female turned out OK, too. My main problem here wasn’t a lack of detail in the mini so much as it was unsteady hands when trying to paint fine lines.

Next up: I’m going to experiment a bit with FIRE.

Categories: Bones Miniatures | Tags: , , , ,

Gen Con Wrap-up – Gamer Edition

If you’re looking for An Author’s Perspective, go here.

I didn’t play any games at Gen Con this year, unless you count “Dodge the Giant Backpack” or “Evade Sudden-Direction Changes.” I did get a little shopping in and I got to see a lot of friends again from all over the world. And that’s really what Gen Con is about for me: re-forging those connections.

Why heck, I was even visited at my table on Author’s Avenue by a friend I had not seen since 1988 (maybe 1990). He had seen on Facebook that I had a table on Author’s Avenue and came by on Family Day with his family to say “Hi.” He was the guy who introduced me to D&D in the first place, way back when I was 8 years old. Were it not for him, my life would likely have taken a very different course. In a way, his act of introducing me to that little game in the red box with the funny dice led me to my involvement in the industry (in my capacity as ENnie Awards Submissions Coordinator) and to becoming an author. I thanked him. I told him, “This, all this *gesturing to the con*, my involvement here, is all thanks to you.”

You can’t really put a price on something like that. It’s the best thing one can take away from a convention like Gen Con: the people connection.

I always run myself ragged at Gen Con, yet I always feel rejuvenated by having attended. It’s amazing.

Categories: Conventions

Goblin Skulls & Shackles, Session 8 – Rescuing the Crew

Looking for the post on Handicap Awareness at Gen Con? Just click the red link (or scroll down; it’s the previous post)!

When we last left our intrepid goblin pirates, they had just defeated a trio of nasty, ghoulettes. They searched the mock boudoir and found some booty to add to their meager loot pile, but more importantly, they found tracks indicating someone or something moved past the ghouls and into a nearby cave. Shahn Dook Pizzard volunteered to make sure the crew wasn’t absconding with the ship while the rest of the group entered the cave.

The cave was partially flooded. The water sloshed up around the goblins’ knees. In the dank dark, the stench of death and decay permeated the air. Since the monkey goblins couldn’t see well in the dark, Spack Jarrow cast light upon his shield. In a small nook, there was some sort of construction, a shrine, perhaps. Upon it, a familiar hat: Sandara Quinn’s tricorn. Four grindylows rose from hidden nooks in the water to attack the interlopers in their lair. The goblins made short work of them and pressed on.

2013-08-09 22.20.18

Brodo Faggins set off a hidden tripwire under the water and narrowly avoided the spiked iron grate that fell from its concealment on the ceiling. The ruckus gained the attention of three lacedons. They were not as easily defeated as the grindylows, but ultimately, the goblins were victorious. Behind a locked cage door, they found their missing crewmates, chained to stalagmites. They seemed no worse for the wear, except for Fishguts Kroop. The lacedons had been dining on one of his ample legs and he was near death. Garagornne thought she could fashion a peg leg to replace the missing limb once they returned to the ship. They searched the lacedons for treasure and returned to Man’s Promise.

The crew was ready to sail when they returned and the goblin-led pirates made way for Rickety Squibs….

And thus, did The Wormwood Mutiny end and the PCs sailed into the next adventure of the path, Raiders of the Fever Sea. I excised a vast portion of the island because after some clever playing over the last couple of sessions, there was really very little reason for them to be on the island, and certainly no incentive for them to explore the entire island. Now I’m going to have to work up a couple of worksheets so I can keep track of their Infamy and Disrepute, two mechanics which will become important once Man’s Promise is refit.

This week is Gen Con!

KermitTheFrogFlailI’ll be in the Dealer Hall most of the time, and when I’m not, most of my free time is spoken for already, and I am not even scheduled to play any games! (Gen Con has been a working convention for me for the last couple of years; I play at Gary Con in March). If you need to find me, the easiest way will be to come to the Dealer Hall and go to Author’s Avenue. I’m at Table AA, near Stan! and the Media Guest of Honor autograph area. I’ll be selling my novels there. (What? You didn’t know I wrote? Yup. Check it out.)

Categories: Pathfinder | Tags: , , ,

Gen Con Tips & Advice

Gen Con is nigh! With only 6 days to go before the best four days in gaming (as of the time I’m posting this), I’m not going to rehash what so many others have put out there. What would those be, you ask? Here:

Sean K. Reynolds (of Paizo) says…
Gnome Stew (ENnie Awards-winning blog) says…
Erik Mona (of Paizo) says… says… says…

OK, enough about that. As you can see, there are tons of blogs and articles out there with advice regarding large conventions like Gen Con. My advice is going to be different. To most of it, Wheaton’s Law applies. For those of you who are link-averse, Wheaton’s Law is this: Don’t be a dick.

However, the things about which I’m going to speak, are the sorts of things people are not aware they’re being dickish about. They’re not being malicious; they just don’t have any personal experience with these sorts of issues, so when they start breaking Wheaton’s Law, they don’t know they’re doing it. My job here is not to castigate, but to educate.

Specifically, I’m talking about dealing with those who have physical challenges at conventions. The handicapped, to be blunt. People like my wife. She can walk, but conventions like Gen Con are too big for her. So, she uses a wheelchair to get around. This year, she has a snazzy metallic red electric wheelchair, but in years past, I’ve pushed her in a manual wheelchair. This gives us a unique experience at Gen Con.

The average con goer is, shall we say, Plus-Sized. OK, that’s fine. I could stand to lose 40 pounds myself. At conventions, people often have large backpacks. Sometimes, everything they brought to the convention is in this backpack. People are not always aware that this backpack adds 2′ – 3′ to their girth. They spin around quickly. If you’re in a wheelchair, those backpacks are level with your head. More than once my wife has narrowly avoided being clobbered in the head by an unaware con-goer suddenly spinning around because something caught his or her eye. When I’m pushing her, I’m watching for this sort of thing. This year she’ll be driving herself and I actually worry she’s going to get beat up.

  • Be Aware of People Around You

Moving through large groups of slow moving people is a challenge in a wheelchair. Sometimes people back up unexpectedly. Worse, they often stop unexpectedly. Sometimes it’s because the crowd in front of them has stopped. Sometimes its because something caught their eye. Sometimes it’s because someone caught their eye, and they’re stopping to chat. If this happens to you, look ahead a bit and see if there’s a spot in a booth where you can divert to stop. Please, please, please don’t just stop in the middle of the aisle to root through your backpack. You’re not in a High School hallway, stopping in the middle of the aisle is hugely disruptive.

  • Step to the far sides or into a booth space, if possible, to have conversations with friends or on your phone, or to look at the map, in your backpack, etc.

Shower regularly and use deodorant. This has been covered by almost every blog and podcast I’ve seen on the subject. I bring it up because something most people aren’t aware of: Gamer Funk is worse when your head is at waist level to the average con goer. Think about it: you sit on your butt every day during the con. Often, walking around the city during the Con can be like walking on the surface of the sun (i.e. it’s HOT). The chairs don’t breathe. Except for a very few, select people, most attendees have the crotch region covered completely by a couple of layers of clothes (basically, I’m talking about everyone who can’t get away with wearing something like a swimsuit or lingerie to Gen Con). Sweat happens. Funky things happen in dark, warm, moist areas. This is not shameful, it’s just a fact of bio-chemistry. Cleanliness saves noses!

  • Bathe regularly. Use deodorant.

Often, those of us using wheelchairs move a little slower than others in the Dealer Hall. Sorry, it’s just difficult to push a large mechanical object through a crowd. Sometimes, we have to stop for a moment to wait for an opening to cross an aisle. I know you’re in a hurry. I know there’s a demo you think you’re late for, or a game in another room. But FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY: DO NOT STEP OVER THE LEGS OF THE PERSON IN THE WHEELCHAIR. This happens to my wife at least once a year. Someone will get the bright idea that they can cut a corner if they just step over my wife’s legs. That is 100% NOT OKAY. For one, these people usually misjudge how much space they need and end up kicking my wife’s feet or the wheelchair. She’s not paralyzed, OK? She has feeling in the lower half of her body. In fact, because she has a degenerative spine condition, she feels these jolts acutely. IN HER BACK.

Pain is a funny thing (and I mean funny like a heart attack). In my wife’s case (and I know many people experience this same thing), it’s like gas prices. It’ll spike very quickly, and then take FOREVER to come back down. If you kick her wheels (however accidentally) or kick her legs because you felt stepping over her was quicker than going around, or accidentally knee the back of the chair because you’re standing too close in line, all of those jolts go right into her back. The extremities are ALL connected to the spine in some way. That jolt of pain doesn’t just go away. It takes HOURS. Often, it takes her lying down for hours before it gets back down to a manageable level and it’s not something that can be alleviated by popping a couple of ibuprofen. Chronic pain does not work that way.

More than once, she has missed out on a half-day or a whole day of a con because of this pain. When you are the cause because you carelessly stepped over her wheelchair and kicked her legs, causing a flare up of pain in her back, you have taken a day at Gen Con away from her. Is that worth saving 5 seconds to you?

  • Give wheelchairs a wide berth; don’t step over them.

This last thing is just actually a castigation because this happens every Gen Con and it’s not a matter of people being unaware; it’s a matter of people being rude jerks. If there’s a person with a wheelchair waiting for an elevator and they were there waiting when you and your group of friends arrived, WAIT FOR THE NEXT ELEVATOR IF YOU ALL WON’T FIT. More than once we have had our elevator poached by a group of rude assholes who rush to get into the elevator before we can. That’s being a dick. That’s being rude. You are bad people and should feel bad. When that happens, we hope the elevator breaks down with you in it. If I’ve had a really bad day, I hope the elevator breaks and falls back down to the ground floor with you in it. Don’t make me be a bad person for wishing bad things upon you.

  • Don’t be a dick.
Categories: Conventions | Tags: ,

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