Painting Skaven #6: Warlock (Final)

Finally, the last skaven – unless there’s a figure or two in the wrong storage box! That’s a group of 24 all done.

This is a metal slotta-based Citadel (Games Workshop) figure from 1995 – #74472/2 “Skaven Warlock with skull”.

I’d considered doing his robes in purple, and when I got started on Friday night realised that there’s a separate jacket over the robes. The jacket was done in fushia with the lower robes in the same but lightened with white. Then I red inked the jacket, and purple inked the robes. Everything went smoothly from there, with colours suggesting themselves as I went along. A final bit of black ink over everything make the holes and folds were distinct, then highlighting. When taking the photographs this morning I noticed I hadn’t coloured the chaos symbol on the belt buckle. That’s now been fixed.

I’ve really enjoyed these last two skaven, and I like the warlock more than the plague monk. I’m very pleased to have got through the whole group, and they make a very nice force.

Last of all, a group shot. I had a lot of fun setting this up, which is a sure sign that it’s been way too long since I’ve done any table-top gaming. I already had planned to write these guys into my mega-dungeon. Now I want to set up something like this seen to play out a really big battle. You should be able to click on the pictures for a bigger image.

Painting Skaven #5: Plague Monk

I was determined to get another skaven painted this weekend and I’m very happy to have succeeded!

This is a metal slotta-based Citadel (Games Workshop) figure from 1993 – Clan Pestilens 74451/5 “Plague Monk”. I’d been planning red-brown robes, but saw some newer plague monks with yellow robes and black hoods. The yellow got my attention, but being plaguey, I wanted a dirty yellow. Once I got going other things fell into place.

Painting took longer than it should have, but I’ve interspersed that with some computer gaming, reading, housework and preparing another batch of figures.If the weather report is correct he can go out for a varnish spray tomorrow.

A number of years back I got some Mantic Dwarfs from Azazel, and last year (I think last year) I got some figures from Subadai (Lost & the Damned) and decided it’s a good time to get some of these done too. There are nine dwarfs, three skeletons and my last skaven ready to work on. (Only two skellies in the picture, the third didn’t need cleaning and undercoat like all these did.)

Yes, that’s a skeleton with a blunderbuss!

A new Stargate RPG

I’m a Stargate fan. I could say more about that and watching Sci-Fi on TV, but it would be a whole new blog-post of its own. There’s a new Stargate RPG just out, at least the PDF is, but printed rule-books are meant to be available for pickup at Gen-Con mid Sept. Here, on the other side of the world, I’m just hoping they start mailing at the same time.

I’ll assume you know what Stargate is. If you are reading this, I’d say there’s a good chance you have either watched the movie, or one of the TV series that followed it later.

History: Here’s some background on the game. (There’s already heaps of websites that could give you background on Stargate itself.)

This isn’t the first Stargate RPG. Back in 2003, Alderac Entertainment Group produced “Stargate SG-1 RPG” based on d20 & their Spycraft game. (Licensed from MGM) They also came out with a bunch of supplements and overall I think it looks pretty good. I’d love a printed copy now, but I’m not interested in spending over $100 getting a second-hand book from the USA/UK.

In mid-2019, Wyvern Gaming announced they would be developing a “Stargate RPG” with MGM. A closed beta playtest began in Oct 2019, followed by a public beta started in March 2020. Covid pushed most of their plans back six months, and they’re Kickstarter ran in October 2020. This was very well supported. I’d noted what they were doing late 2019, but missed the Kickstarter itself and got in as a late backer at the start of 2021.


The original game sounds like it was intended to be set away from Earth with players representing alien races helping the SGC fight against the Goa’uld – with no Humans! People quickly raised the point that a game based on Stargate SG-1 should allow Tau’ri (Human) characters. Thankfully, they agreed and altered their plans.

The last set of Beta rules available was Jun 2020, and little appears to have changed between that and the newly released pre-printed rulebook PDF. This PDF seems to have most spelling/grammar errors fixed and some cosmetic changes, but little or no change to the rules. The Stargate forums (on Wyvern’s site) have had considerable debate on character classes, abilities, weapons (particularly ranges), but I feel most of it hasn’t been taken into account. (Maybe their Discord channel was better with feedback?)

We now have the “Stargate SG-1 RPG” (“based on Stargate SG-1” – Really, I’d never have worked that out myself!) The game is set during Series 6 of the SG-1 TV series, and centres on the SG-P, “Phoenix” site, based away from Earth to recruit, train and send out teams through a Stargate to essentially do what the SG teams did in the series, and fight the Goa’uld. The game rules only cover material from those first six SG-1 series. I feel there may not be anything further. There’s been a lot of fuss and delay to this point, though much of that could have been Covid related rather than difficulties with MGM approval. (Wyvern also seems to have gone annoyingly quiet on how things are going with the final stage of the kickstarter, but is heavily advertising pre-order retail sales. This has also coincided with Amazon buying MGM.) If the game sells well in retail, it’s possible Wyvern could release a supplement (or more than one) to cover later SG-1 series, or even Atlantis or Universe. There’s definitely interest in an expansion of PC races and equipment. Failing that, it’s pretty easy for a GM to create material that adds to the official book – there’s already house rules on classes, etc.

Game Rules:

Based on 5th Edition D&D, this looks pretty good! I’d been going over bits of the Beta rules and reading the forums and started feeling a bit let down – especially when I’d been reading over some of the d20 version. Last month I got the full release PDF and I’ve been getting happier the more I read. I decided to make up a single-session adventure with the characters from SG-1, plus a few extras to round out character choices. I haven’t played 5th edition, nor have my players. I looked over stuff when Wizards were developing it, and have a copy of the SRD, but never really read through a lot of it. So, mostly I’m learning how the system works by making characters and reading the Stargate rules. I’m certain we’ll have a lot of fun with this, partly because it’s somewhat different from our other games.

Five races/species – Tau’ri (Humans), Aturen, Jaffa, Tok’ra and Unas. Six classes – Diplomat, Engineer, Medic, Scientist, Scout, Soldier. Each race has a “base” version, and a second variant, except for Humans who get two variants (Abydonians, Tollans). You get two origins that offer stat increases, skill proficiencies or bonuses with certain skills/weapons/environments, etc.

You can only take 5 levels in one class (specialising), after that all your “Mission Points” go to buying feats. Essentially, even class abilities are feats, and all feats have a cost in Mission Points. After 5th, your level is determined by how many points you have spent. If you know what you are doing, you can be “classless” right from the beginning. They have an interesting system for ‘encounters’ that uses a blend of actual role-playing with skill checks for what they term: Convince, Diplomatic, Infiltration, Interrogation, R&D, and Traversal. The GM sets a DC and Threshold (the number of successes required) to succeed. Players describe their “approach” and use ‘Determination Points’ to make rolls. This occurs in rounds until the PC’s achieve threshold, or no one can (or does) contribute more DP, and fail. I’m still getting my head round how this works, but the DP’s are a bit like wagering with poker chips, and you can get them back during the process.

It comes together pretty well. Trying to put together specific characters from the TV series has been a challenge, but I think I’ve got PC’s who represent the characters reasonably well and will be fun to play.

The downsides to the game:

I haven’t finished reading everything, and I’m still learning the game (and 5th ed) but I am disappointed. Particularly, that with all the time spent on play testing and feedback, there isn’t MORE available in the game. Also I’m surprised that considering how this is all based on SG-1, they didn’t draw more from the series itself instead of defining their own ‘canon’.

Potential Improvements:

  1. Races/Species: Aturen are a pointy-eared non-violent species invented by Wyvern (on the forum someone called them ‘space-elves’). While the rules mention 7 planets that SG-1 contacted with humans, only two of them are given specific race traits to use as PC’s. I would have like more options for Humans, and a few more alien races – actually from the series. Serrikan (a reptilian race from Hebridan, Season 6) are mentioned as an NPC race, as are the near human Ilempri (Season 3). I’m sure I’ll write my own rules for Player race versions.
  2. Origins: Players choose two, each from a different category – Biome (16 options), Background (25) or Racial (6). It’s a pity that the racial set has only one possible choice for all but Jaffa (and you have to be a pacifist for the Aturen one). At least three choices each here would have been much better. The backgrounds list is great, and I’m tempted to house rule both choices can be made from here if you’re human.
  3. Equipment: There’s lots of different weapon types listed, and a nice set of weapon ‘upgrades’, but the list of weapons itself isn’t remarkable. Equipment is fairly basic, and probably enough, but the Goa’uld technology that they give rules for is buried in the last chapter with the Goa’uld/Jaffa and not in the Equipment chapter. Again, I’m sure there will be people drawing up lists of more equipment/weapons to use, or I can just go to D20 Modern for inspiration.

Overall, the Kickstarter isn’t much behind schedule (about 5 months) and has been better than almost every other Kickstarter I’ve been part of (in regards communication and delays) except Zombicide. I haven’t funded many projects, but thankfully none have fallen through, although one was much much worse than this… <cough… CurseoftheLostMemories… cough>. I’m looking forward to my book in October. <curses seafreight> Anyone else a backer, or been play testing the game?

This has also given me the idea of using these rules for a one-off Battlestar Galactic session!

Painting Skaven #4: Grey Seer

I finished painting this guy yesterday, making this about four months since I started preparing all my skaven for painting. (Maybe two months since I did any figure painting… not encouraging.) He’s been sitting on my desk for way too long, but he’s not the last. There’s still two more to go!

This figure is a metal Games Workshop (Citadel) figure from 1993, 74464 “Grey Seer Thanquol”. I could have been a little fussier with some of the detail, but I reached the point where I’m happy and just wanted to say “done”.

My main problem with these last three skaven has been colors. I’ve learned that I do really well when I’m copying a card/comic/movie or whatever – an established color scheme – but struggle with individual figures where I have to choose everything myself. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s certainly why I haven’t gotten anywhere with these last few skaven.

It’s too cold for spray varnish this weekend. He can go back on the tray until probably Tuesday, when we are meant to reach 17 degrees and sunny! The next figure I’m hoping to start today is a plague monk, and I’ve decided on red/browns for his robe. The last, a skaven warlock (engineer) might get some type of purple.

Fals’Krag Session 49 – “How do you stake a Vampire?”

Four (of seven) players available, who wanted to push on. I think in each of our last three gatherings we’d had at least one player who missed other sessions. The session started quite normally, got interesting with unexpected things (the frog that was a Bogwid), the half-orcs, and then the vampires back again. Lanliss’ player was ready to throw himself at a vampire with a stake, and was determined that the group not do too much damage and force them to flee. I wasn’t going to have a vampire stand around and let a player shove a stake through their armour and into their heart, so had to pause the game to double-check rules for killing a vampire with a stake. [The vampire must be helpless, and it’s a full-round action.] They had a false start with the idea of casting hold monster (only living targets) and thankfully there were two charges left on an item that can make an undead creature drop helpless for 1d4 rounds. The vampire failed the second saving throw!

= = = = =

The search of Wastri’s Temple is careful and thorough. Most rooms hold items that support the temple or would be used by the priests. Statues and carvings of frogs and other amphibians are found everywhere. A large rear chamber has four large pools or fresh water and aquatic plants. As the group enter, more and more frogs emerge at the end of the pools, making a considerable noise. Seldrel feeds them with small bits of meat and dried worms from packets and boxes on a shelf. A wand, gems and many gold coins are recovered from the altar, and the high priests room. An upstairs area looks down over the altar. Two more frog statues are here, but they do not animate. A secret door leads out to the southern side of the building. The rooms here are dusty and either used for junk and rubbish, or just empty. A few have the fragile remains of chairs, tables and beds. A kitchen and storeroom finish off the building, and many bottles of wine carefully placed into the groups bag of holding.

Heading east, there are three obvious entrances, one with a broken door. Lanliss, backed up by Hardaz move to the northern entry and sight something move further back in the darkness. Seldrel and Winter see something about a foot in size dart into the southern doorway. An Ochre Jelly comes forward to fight with Lanliss and Hardaz who quickly swap weapons to smash it. Merxif supports them by magically throwing his mace at it. They succeed in bludgeoning it to a motionless bubbling mush without it striking any of them.

Bacon has entered the south chamber, and sees a green horned lizard watching him. He strikes it, and it retreats further into the building. He follows, and finds six of them scattered about the next chamber where they unleash a chain of electrical bolts. His fast reflexes allow him to evade this and he retreats. Winter and Seldrel have moved up now, and the Hunter lines up a shot at a lizard through two doorways and hits. The lizards all move out of sight, and not having paid attention to what happened with Bacon, she follows to finish off the lizard. A second discharge of energy seriously burns her and she too retreats. Seldrel keeps his distance and casts a carefully aimed fireball into the building. They pause before cautiously entering to find all the lizard dead or dying. Lanliss vanishes, and quickly scouts the central part of the building seeing rotting curtains, and a number of pools, but no movement. Merxif heals Winter, while Bacon checks the rooms the group has cleared, but locate nothing of value.

They all move up to check the central rooms, and this time and Lanliss enters invisibly, be sees a frog-like creature rise from the murk of the main pool. Other shapes move in the water around it, so he quietly moves past it to the back of the room and waits for the dwarves to move in. To his dismay, the frog moves away from him, and rises up on tentacles rather than legs, throwing foul smelling growths from its back at Bacon. It stays in the middle of the pool and the monk takes a chance on the depth of the water and leaps in to attack the frog-like aberration. Thankfully, it is only three feet deep and with the aid of magic missiles from Seldrel and arrows from Winter it is soon dead. Bacon batters the body with part of the broken door to ensure it and the young growing on its back are dead. Merxif is concerned about the potential of disease from both the beast and the murky water, so it is left to Bacon to search the pool. He only turns up water weed and bones.

The long southern side of block has a number of doors. The first leads to a set of small dusty chambers that have been empty for a long time. The second has many alcoves and a stone bench around a large room. While Lanliss investigates here, a door further along opens and two bugbears emerge. Hardaz and Bacon both charge down to engage them. Winter and Seldrel begin ranged support, and all are surprised when other humanoid figures emerge. The dwarves realise that the new group with the bugbears are mostly half-orcs including a warrior with a great-sword, one with a bow, two monks, and two others that use magic. Lanliss (invisible) and Summer assist the dwarves. About half of their opponents have dropped when Winter sights a figure approaching from behind them – one of the vampires met a few days ago. The second drops from the rooftop and swings at Merxif who dodges. The half-orcs are finished quickly, except for one who casts a spell and disappears. The dwarves and Lanliss run back up the road to fight the vampires. Lanliss reminds everyone they have stakes and there are sudden rapid suggestions on how to incapacitate one long enough to shove a stake through their heart. The main warrior vampire wearing chainmail grins amusedly, emphasising his fangs. The vampires inflict blows with their weapons and Merxif uses the last two charges of his moon bracelet, firing shimmering bolts at the warrior. Both strike, but the second knocks the vampire down and leaves it helpless. Both Hardaz and Lanliss are close – the dwarf runs a stake through it heart and the elf cuts its head off. Winter finishes the other vampire with a storm of arrows, and it flies off as a cloud of mist. Garlic, holy water and cleric’s blessing turn the undead remains into dust. There’s some healing and the remaining southern facing rooms are searched. The bugbears look like those previously encountered here, and the half-orcs are likely an adventuring group that has made it down this far through the mountain. They appear to have been using some of the rooms here for up to a week. An assortment of gear, a few potions and coins are claimed. The last few rooms are dusty but have been entered recently – they contain bones, skulls, and a few recently dead morlocks and trogs. The group return up through the mountain and emerge in the hold courtyard. It’s partly cloudy, and both moons are visible. Celene is full, and Luna is new. They build up a large fire, and spend a few hours letting their moon items recharge in the light. Then its back down to the crafting halls to rest.

4-5th Needfest: Some of the group check out the Hall of the Gods – the statues have changed. This set are nearly all human. Merxif and Seldrel determine the identity and domains of all but one; a dark slightly masculine humanoid figure with no features. Seldrel plans to spend two days crafting a belt of strength for Hardaz, and Lanliss will make makeshift holy symbols to match the statues they have identified. Hardaz, Bacon, Boris and Merxif head into town to speak with Kevelli, sell off some treasure and buy some weapons to equip the statues. Kevelli tells them he may come back to the Halls early in Fireseek if the weather is better. They activate the statue of Vecna – the most recognisable of the deities, receiving a minor wand of fear.

6th: The group return to the block they were exploring, entering the northern side. A couple of large rooms look to have been animal pens, and then a solid building has chambers with old worn and rusting exercise and/or fighting practise equipment. It also has a few guardians, that Merxif determines are constructs. The animated armour wields swords and shields. They take some time to destroy, with the fight in narrow passages. A secret room has some jewellery and potions. The final chamber in the block has skeletons spiked onto the walls and a short stair down into a basement. Broken shelves and pottery shards are unremarkable, but Lanliss locates a well hidden secret door. A passage leads into a dusty tomb, with an animated skeletal warrior. They more in a destroy it quickly, finding this to be a another tomb for Gregern Falshadren. A bunch of gems are recovered. Two are magical, what Seldrel believes are an Ioun stone and an Ivory Goat figurine. He also realises both are cursed. Lanliss finds two more secret doors – one that leads back to the basement and another to a second crypt. This one is cleaner, with two sarcophagi. The group surround and carefully open each – the fine coffins within are both empty. They have obviously been used recently and would suit the pair of vampires encountered in the cavern. They do their best to restore both tombs to the way they first appeared and all hide in one of the secret passages, waiting in the hope of the other vampire arriving. When Seldrel’s mage armour and flight spells cease, they know they have waited about nine hours. All are become cramped and restless. They wait another hour without anything happening and decide to head back upstairs. They mess up the first crypt again, hoping that if the vampire returns he will think they only found the first crypt. All are pleased to get out of the cramped space and head for proper beds.

Red Sonja Unconquered (Conan part 2)

RS1 “Red Sonja Unconquered” is a 1986 TSR AD&D module designed for 4 Characters 10th to 14th level.

I’m not going to give specific module detail, except where I’ve changed or left stuff out of my rewrite. The adventure’s best point is a great story idea. (Basically, being in the middle of a lot of bandit raids, and trying to locate a person/location to recover a item without being sure what the truth behind everything happening really is.) It starts really well, but is let down by being extremely linear (though it often suggests that its offering the players choices when it really isn’t) and the final scene is essentially two pages of text where nothing the players do (or have previously done) is likely to have any impact on the conclusion. Overall, I think it’s a good adventure module, with a bunch of potential problems. I’d have to actually play it as written to see if everything worked out or fell apart.

There’s lots of boxed text to be read to the players (too much), nearly always preceded by “read the following to the PCs”. (I think DM’s understand what boxed text is for!) A lot of the DM information is overblown – too much description or unnecessary background information. A lot could have been simplified or condensed without loss of anything important. For example, giving the GM the name, family background and accidental death of a corpse isn’t something the players are ever going to be able to know, so why mention it. The properties of some leaves (if you pick and brewed them) aren’t likely to be a concern for players searching a burial ground for a particular crypt either.

The module does a good job setting up the background of Hyboria for the DM and players, and has a lot to say about the possibility of extending the module into a campaign. 3-4 pages of useful info. It also has a fantastic eight-page fold-out map of Hyboria. (It’s such a pity I have a PDF.)

It’s designed to be run with the four characters included: Red Sonja (11th Fighter), Galon (14th Fighter, 4th Thief), Kynon (11th Fighter, 6th Thief) and Achmal (10th Magic-User, 4th Illusionist). Why is Red Sonja lower level than everyone else? She has a very high Dexterity, Intelligence and Charisma, and more HP’s than the others but lower Strength and Con.

Disappointingly, the character “sheets” provided only list Class Levels, Ability Scores and HPs, with a brief background description. The Magic-user has a list of memorised spells and two minor magic items, but only Sonja is actually given any equipment. One of the magic items can be used 5/day: Roll 1d6, on 1-2 causes 1 HP damage, 3-6 heals 1 HP. Apart from this, their only method of healing is 5-9 HP’s from a nights rest. (No Clerics in this world.) I think the biggest problem anyone actually playing these characters would have is staying alive. I’ve sure the lack of healing was forgotten when many of the encounters (that can’t be avoided) were written. They do all get a bunch of Luck Points that can be use to gain extra attacks, or automatically hit. I’m also amused to note that Red Sonja is pictured four times in her typical chain-mail bikini, but listed as wearing leather armour.

The adventure is broken into three main sections, the first being the best. It gives a little bit of background and throws the players straight into a fight. They then learn a bit more about what’s going on, and are led (or forced) to encounter the modules first main NPC, who can become an ally or enemy for the rest of the adventure. (He uses heaps of remarkable magical abilities during the module, and only one actually matches a spell he has memorised!) There are essentially three ways this section ends. These differences come up again in main parts of the adventure, but appear to have been overlooked in some encounters. The writer also seems to have missed the fact that one of these possibilities should mean the final events of the module should actually occur at least a day prior to the players themselves arriving at the relevant location, and finding that their actions in section two and three were completely irrelevant. This is something I’ve rewritten heavily.

The second part of the adventure has an encounter with a succubus who automatically drains 1 level from all three male characters. Combat can occur to drive it off on the second night, but it can’t be hit by non-magical weapons. (Here go the fate points.) The next major event is the players being captured by an army, which they can resist or try to escape. They are roped and chained, but somehow Sonja gets to keep her sword just so she can challenge one of the commanders soldiers to a duel when he has her escorted to his tent. They either get to escape or suddenly the army becomes their allies. If allies, the players get some more background to push them in the right direction. The army itself will not be a part of the final part of the adventure. Good ideas in much of this, but not well structured. Introducing some healing for making friends with the army would have been a good idea.

The final section is well detailed. It introduces a few minor NPC’s that are mostly irrelevant, and could have been simpler. There are a couple of encounters that serve only to weaken the players. Then you have the final encounter, where depending on how wounded everyone is, should either result in a total party kill, the sudden death of the magic-user/illusionist opponent (if players win initiative and save against his nastier spells) or rolls into the aforementioned set piece finish where the players win by default.

My rewrite simplifies all the text, drops some unimportant encounters and locations, and tries to focus dialogue on what’s important. I’m putting my adventure, PC character sheets and spell descriptions onto my resources page. You should be able to run my one session adventure with just a copy of the d20 Players Handbook. You shouldn’t need the d20 Conan Rulebook. If you have the original module you won’t have to improvise maps.

That’s my rant/semi-review of an old module. If you are one of my regular players, feel free to download the characters, but please don’t read the adventure!

Conan RPG (d20 Mongoose)

Conan, the Roleplaying Game‘ is a 2003 game based on the d20 Open Game License (WotC). Considering how much I’ve liked Conan stuff since high school (movies, books and occasional comics) I’m really surprised that I didn’t know this came out at the time, because I would have bought it.

In 2017, Modiphius released a 2d20 RPG called “(Robert E. Howard’s) Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of”. Last year during lock-down, I stumbled on some free Modiphius PDF’s – an adventure and a set of Quickstar Rules (also with an adventure). I read little more than the intro, then got sidetracked looking into earlier editions of Conan games – TSR (1985) and Mongoose. Of course, then I didn’t really read anything and forgot about them. (Like lots of other RPG stuff I collect!) With a new Covid lock-down here over the last few weeks, I started looking at the Conan material I had…

The TSR one looked interesting because it is skill based, not an AD&D version. (They did release some AD&D Conan modules.) Hmmm… compare your skill with the opposing skill/opponents skill on the “Resolution Table”, roll d% and if your result is in the red zone you are successful, other colours apply penalties, some things make column shifts… sorry I’ve lost interest.

Mongoose: I have an Atlantean edition (essentially a second print of 1st edition) rulebook PDF and I was hooked right from the initial part of the book. (I haven’t got to the Modiphius stuff at all.)

This is great… I started reading the intro, got into races, classes, etc and I’ve now spend almost all my free time in the last two weeks reading the rulebook, and playing around with characters and adventure ideas.

This came out about the same time as 3.5 but it makes a lot more of the system than I would have expected for the time. It’s both a setting and a game. There’s heaps of background straight from R.E. Howard’s books and notes (likely also influenced by the later writers who did Conan too) covering cultures, countries, religion, & history. They released lots of additional books that covered specific countries/cultures in more detail too, but what’s in the main rulebook is more than enough to set things up for a campaign. There are culture specific feats, a magic system based on Power Points (not “Vancian” like TSR/WotC), and a combat system that shifts away from the norm.

Cultures: Everyone is human, and there is no “Common” language. There are 14 ethnicities (with 12 variants) and they all have specific racial bonuses and penalties. This could be a Stat adjustment (Cimmerians get +2 Str, -2 Int), a racial bonus to certain skills, a bonus in certain terrain, attack or damage bonus with a particular weapon, etc. All have favoured classes (you gain bonus feats based on how many class levels), and many also have background skills that grant ranks.

Classes: There are eight main classes for PC’s – Barbarian, Borderer, Noble, Nomad, Pirate, Soldier, Scholar, Thief. There is no Cleric or Monk. Multi-classing is encouraged. Both Borderer and Nomad could be considered variant Rangers. The Noble is somewhere between Paladin and Bard – wealthy, combat skills, no magic but lots of influence styled abilities. Scholars can either gain bonus skill points/feats, or learn Sorcery. The different class abilities are quite varied from standard d20.

Combat: No touch/flat-footed AC. Most PC’s will have a Base AC of 10, and then you have Dodge and Parry Defence. All classes get slightly difference Defence bonuses as they level. Dodge Defence is AC 10 + Dexterity bonus, while Parry Defence uses your Strength bonus. Shields add to parry vs melee attacks, and dodge vs missiles. The players chooses which type of defence he is using against incoming attacks before the dice are rolled to determine a hit. Armour does not apply to Defence, it only grants Damage Reduction to lessen damage taken from blows. Most weapons have an armour penetration value (to which you usually add Str bonus) to see if you reduce the DR of your targets armour. There’s also a finesse fighting option where the player uses Dex not Str on the attack roll and tries to bypass DR entirely. There are extra Combat Manoeuvres (like Bulls Charge, Cats Parry, Devastating Sweep, Pantherish Twist, etc) that require a particular ability score, Base Attack value, or feat to be able to use them.

Magic: Conan is a very low-magic setting. Almost no potions, scrolls, wands, etc (so no cure light wounds for healing). There is magic around, but most comes with a cost, or is in the hands of people who won’t be sharing it with you. Power corrupts, literally. Contact with demons, evil deities and powerful sorcerers can grant corruption points that make you emotionally detached, and likely insane to varying degrees. There are Priests (of the uncaring Gods) but mostly they don’t use sorcery. I feel that Scholars using magic are a little under-powered, as they gain very few spells as they progress, even if they can choose what they cast and how often. They gain more skill points (8 + Int bonus) than a Sorcerer or Wizard, so they will have a heap of good skills.

The lack of easy healing makes the biggest difference to this type of D&D game. The affect of ‘rest’ and the Healing skill have been amplified, but finding ways to avoid combat is often preferable to actual fighting, unless PC’s have all invested in slow, heavy armour. Fate Points can help with this too (avoiding death, get maximum damage on a blow, defence bonus, etc), but most characters start with 3 and you only gain 1-2 each adventure.


I’ve spent just over a week making up 7 characters based on the Schwarzenegger movies and converting a AD&D Red Sonja module to use as a one-session adventure. The adventure is done; I just need to get a proper character sheet finalised for each PC. I’d be willing to run a short Conan campaign, but it’s hard enough getting the time now to run my Pathfinder campaign. We’ve already taken a break from a Gamma World campaign, and a mate’s Pathfinder game that I’m player in. It would be great to be able to get together twice a week and both run and play in a game, but I can’t see that happening unless I retire and/or find a new gaming group.

I’m going to put both the character sheets and adventure into my Gaming Resources page in case anyone is interested. The adventure would be easy to convert to standard d20 or Pathfinder.

Fals’Krag Session 48 – Frogs and Vampires

A more relaxed game session than the last. Two of the guys couldn’t make it along, but one of those who did missed the previous session. A lot more talking about real life and not so much focus on the adventure this time.

Overall, things went quite well for the players. Almost all of them picked on the visible vampire in the first combat. This spread them out a bit too, so the other two vampires weren’t able to make the most of their initial attacks. Very few criticals rolled. I think everyone fumbled at some point. Bad rolls on my side meant that most of the Wastri priests weren’t as effective as they could have been. Even so, I was surprised to actually have one out of three Hold Person spells against the party work.

It’s nice having recurring NPC’s, and I’m enjoying the flexibility in this sense with a vampire. Even if you “kill” one, it’s coming back unless you can locate its coffin! The initial vampire spawn here was first met in an ambush on the party (and fled, session 20), then assisted a Grave-Knight while dominating Winter (only half the party involved, session 23). The group has wondered about the location of his coffin a number of times. There was distinct distaste in a comment made (along the lines of “not him!”) when I placed the figure on the board.

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2nd Needfest (cont): While discussing whether to return upstairs, some of the group hear noises. A figure is spotted crouched on the roof of a building close by. Seldrel flies into the air for a better look. The figure is recognised as a vampire spawn encountered twice previously. A voice calls to them from another part of the ruin saying that ‘their’ master is awake and the group should be taught a lesson for exploring where they are not wanted. Bacon and Boris run across the ruins and leap/climb up onto the roof ready to attack. Winter levitates up and begins to loose arrows. Merxif backs up to a point giving him sight of the undead and launches a moon bolt that topples the vampire and weakens it. Damage from the others on the roof quickly have the vampire turning into a cloud of mist. A second vampire rises from the ruins behind Merxif, punching him with a damaging blow that also drains his energy. A third moves across the ruin from the south, heading for the gnome. Lanliss appears and attacks the third vampire, while the others return to join him. The second spawn is also defeated and his misty form begins to fly off to the east. The group attempt to damage the gaseous spawn, but eventually realise that can’t harm them any further. The third spawn is similarly dealt with but only after it has inflicted a number of solid blows with its spiked maul. It too begins to float towards the east. The first vampire eventually overcomes the helplessness inflicted by the moon-bolt and flies up into the air heading towards north-east towards the ceiling hole that marks the emergence of the great stair. The group decide that the retreating vampires may not fly directly towards their coffins, and it would be easy to lose them in the ruins. With Merxif using the last of his channelled healing, the group head quickly back to the crafting halls. They discuss vampire lore, and Lanliss crafts some stakes and wooden mallets, passing them out among the group. They rest, realising its likely quite late in the evening.

3rd Needfest: Everyone prepares for another day of exploration. They take a salvaged troll’s hand to activate the statue of Vaprak in the Hall of the Gods, receiving a wand of rage. Seldrel recalls that the statues are likely to change over night, and Lanliss wants them to head out of the mountain tonight so the group can recharge two of their magical items that require the light of a full moon. Reaching the cavern, Summer becomes extremely agitated as they start crossing the marsh. He soon calms down, and no-one else has observed or felt any disturbance around them. They move between the northern buildings and head around the rubble where they fought the vampires. Hardaz notices a wall carving of a seven pointed star with runes that match the animated rune construct they fought the day before. Most of the chambers they search are empty, but two have writings on the walls. Though badly worn or damaged, Seldrel makes out a few words – “Makk, Ralht, cavern, ruin, mountain”, but not legible sentences. Scratched into the stone floor are images of thin humanoids similar to goblins, all grouped in threes. The adjacent room has one part of wall that can be read. It describes the family groups of the “Makk”. Lanliss finds a floor stone that seems to have space behind it but cannot work out how to open it. Seldrel casts ‘Knock’ and the panel clicks open. There are now three small depressions in the text on the wall corresponding with the word ‘three”, which appears three times, each with the first E reversed.

Within the hole are a bottle of wine, pouches of tobacco and many scrolls and papers that mention a humanoid society called the Makk, refer to a book of lore and rules, a small pantheon of deities, and a guardian within a cave under a mountain called . Nothing referenced in the papers (all written in the same hand) is familiar to any of the party. A few empty chambers precede one that seems full of rubble. On the other side of the street and statues – four smaller, each showing an impaled dwarf, elf, gnome and halfling, and a taller odd-featured man in grey and yellow holding a pole arm. The statues move: the demi-humans occasionally showing a tremor of movement, shudder or shift of position accompanied by a whimper, or faint cry of pain. Each statue has a badly written script in that races language “death to false humans”. There is also the intermittent croak of frogs. Lanliss and Boris are concerned with statues movement. Merxif determines that they are neither dead or alive, and Seldrel that illusions cover all the statues. Seldrel and Merxif decide the main statue is Wastri. Known as the hopping prophet, he is a human demigod of amphibians, bigotry and self-deception. A supremacist, who favours only “true” humans and amphibians. Most other races are to be slain or sacrificed, or serve humans as servants and slaves. Winter can hear dripping water, but no voices or movement nearby and they move past. Behind the humanoid statues, a line of stone turtles support inscribed tablets.

The chamber of dust and rocks also holds a maul and broom. Lanliss stalks inwards unseen and sees a large lizard in one rear room, and some weapons in armour in a another. Bacon, Hardaz and Winter move up to attack the lizard. It’s golden eyes give most of them an odd feeling as they attack it. When Summer flies forward, and then drops to the ground as a stone owl, they confirm their suspicion of a basilisk. It takes a while to kill it, but no one else is petrified. Seldrel ‘s draws on his knowledge and bathes Summer’s form in the creatures blood, restoring him to life. They discuss if they could preserve the blood, but have no easy means of doing so with the little more they could likely gain from the body.

The final rooms in this building have copper framed doorways, with copper and iron bound doors. Some are locked and many guarded by magical traps. Lanliss is able to disable all, and within dusty rooms recovers silver and copper coins, some tools and a cask of pickled fish. They cross the street back to the statues entering a room with shelves full of frog figurines. One side room contains a shallow pool of clear water, and the next a troglodyte. Hardaz moves in a swiftly kills the frog man, but not before a cry of alarm is raised. Bacon and Lanliss enter the courtyard beyond the statues and are promptly attacked by two frog statues that animate, croaking loudly. The rest of the group pushes into the courtyard before a set of double doors, where the frogs inflict only minor damage but prove difficult to destroy. A door at the other end of the yard opens and three priests in grey robes emerge, holding spears. All cast spells at the party, but only Lanliss is effected and held immobile! Boris and Bacon engage the priests, while Winter shoots at them. The double doors open while chanting is heard, revealing another priest with a pole arm. Behind him a second human with the same weapon twirls it before him.

The lead priest is killed knocked out by Hardaz, supported by magic from Merxif and Seldrel. The three in the courtyard go down similarly. The final opponent strikes viciously with his glaive hitting most of those trying to surround him before he too is defeated. Behind this a foyer leads into a room with a grey altar, damp floor and more tablets. With the temple quiet around them, they quickly search the foyer and altar. The many tablets they now have time to read describe Wastri’s philosophy and a number of simple prayers and rituals.

Fals’Krag Session 47 – Trolls, Traps and Teleports

We ended up down three players for the evening, but were more focused on game-play than we often are and the four who came along got a lot of combat and exploration done. A real mix of stuff in this session: trolls, ogre priest, vermin, undead, constructs, strange runes, traps, and treasure. The PC’s took a lot of damage in both HP’s and ability damage, but were careful to heal and back each other up when needed. I’ve done something a bit different with this summary – some maps to give a bigger picture of where the group explored, with areas they didn’t get to erased. (No hints here!)

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Lines/arrows are previous exploration. Red oval is the focus of this session.

2nd Needfest.

Seldrel casts Detect Magic again and sees all the magical auras of the lock are back. He presumes his dispel only negated the magic temporarily. The group makes notes, and will return here if they find or learn something that may help. They move north-west into an unexplored area they have skirted around previously. Approaching a large block with much damage, Lanliss vanishes and goes to look through windows and a door way on the corner of the first building. He sees giant rats, but as he returns to tell the others, the rats emerge, having heard noise outside. Hardaz charges the rats, supported by Bacon and Lanliss. The combat attracts the attention of two trolls from the damaged side of the building. Merxif and Seldrel concentrate fire attacks on one, while Winter shoots the other with arrows. One of the trolls calls for assistance from Vaprak. The rats are quickly beaten, and the group focuses on the trolls. More rats emerge from the corner, and an armour wearing ogre followed by a shimmering bat, strides into the rubble strewn area behind the trolls. The trolls are burned and appear dead, and Lanliss and Hardaz finish the second group of rats. The ogre also calls on Vapraks aid, and gestures as if casting a spell. A thick fog springs up around most of the group. Winter levitates up above the cloud and notes its size. She calls directions out to the others so that they can move out of it easily. Bacon exits the cloud on one side, Merxif on another and Seldrel dispels the fog entirely. Bacon charges into the ruin to attack the ogre, closely followed by Summer. A ten-foot tall statue of Vaprak (god of ogres and trolls) further into the rubble suddenly animates. It leaps off its dais and charges across to attack Bacon, striking him heavily. The ogre backs away and grows larger. As others move up to attack, the statues emits a wave of energy and Lanliss, Hardaz and Summer are slowed. Bacon is unaffected and continued to pummel the things they suspect is a stone golem. The ogre and its bat attack the group, and the golem inflicts considerable damage. The party is happy they had equipped three of their group with golem bane scarabs, allowing them to damage the golem with their weapons. Seldrel casts haste to neutralise the slow effect on the group. Merxif moves in to heal, and the battle turns in the parties favour. They have soon defeated the ogre and destroyed the golem. They dais the golem came from has a secret compartment with gems and scrolls. They scout the chambers around what appears to have been a large temple to Vaprak before most of the ceiling collapsed. There are a few more rooms with giant rats, which also produce some coins. The rooms used by the trolls and ogre also have coins, some gems and jewellery and odd bits of equipment.

Combined image of the battle maps used for the session put together roughly in the correct position. The eastern side is actually slightly further ‘south’ than it should be.

Moving east to the next damaged building, Lanliss spots two more trolls. Hardaz and Bacon move in to attack with him, and Merxif follows. Once the trolls are badly hurt, he uses acid to stop them regenerating. Winter and Seldrel who had stayed back are attacked by small group of stirges. A stirge manages to attach itself to each of them and Winter is paralysed. Seldrel realises that the creatures are undead, and the rest of the party is not close by. He casts a fireball over the stirges, burning himself and Winter but killing nearly all of them. Seldrel is able to finish off the last while the trolls are defeated. A little healing is required. Amid some humanoid corpses and damaged weapons and armour, they recover some silver coins.

Further east the next block of buildings is initially in good condition. Windows and a few doors are visible, all is quiet. Lanliss chooses a central open doorway to investigate. A large hall has some damaged chairs, and a passageway leading out. At first he doesn’t notice the shape standing near a pile of rubble, but as Bacon enters the room they both become aware of the four-armed skeleton that moves forward. While it attacks with four short-swords, it proves not to much tougher than other animated skeletons they have fought. Lanliss continues down the passage, which has three small chambers open along each side. Each holds a short thin pillar of obsidian, with a large rune made from semi-precious stone set into the far wall. As the rest of the group move in to search, they learn that the runes are magical constructs that attack any who enter the room. While Hardaz smashes any construct he can reach, Lanliss and Winter are attacked near the final room by a greater shadow. Lesser shadows attack as the group comes together. Trying to evade and attack the incorporeal undead means more of the runes are activated, and shadows leave half the group seriously weakened. Lanliss and Merxif draw attention of main shadow and they destroy the last of them. Bacon locates and destroys another four-armed skeleton, and then they gather back together for healing. Winter uses much of her magic to restore the groups lost strength. While scouting and finishing off the shadows, Lanliss observed a large insect creature fleeing into a hole in a ruined area close by. A locked door is found near the second skeleton, and beyond it a locked and trapped door. Lanliss disarms the magical trap and the chamber beyond has many scrolls and papers. Most of the documents are damaged and illegible. Some fragments mention temples of Boccob (greater human deity of magic), magical training for scouts, and magical theory. Seldrel also recovers some scrolls with spells that he can use.

North is the last intact part of this triangular block. Lanliss disarms a trap of the locked door, and explores the few rooms of a narrow hall. The doors have an unusual rune on them, and there are a few simple traps and old fragile furniture. Two of the rooms have a dark coloured floor tile with a silver circle and a different rune on the wall next to it. Seldrel detects a teleportation magic. Lanliss tries to activate the first circle, feeling a little uncomfortable, then pain and unconsciousness. Both he and Seldrel also try the second circle, and this time Lanliss disappears. He finds himself on the previous circle. As they try other entrances, they find more trapped rooms and more circles, each with a rune. Lanliss tries activating a circle while thinking of the rune near a previous circle and teleports to it. They decide that the first circle didn’t work because its linked to a circle that is damaged or not present any more. Lanliss triggers and is hurt by a magical trap (spinning blades) in one room, and finds a dead goblin who was previously caught by it. He locates and disarms other traps and they find six teleport circles, each with a different rune and also some small brass tokens in the shape of lightning bolts. One room has a dry humanoid body with good armour and a sword. Searching into the damaged corner of the block reveals similar bodies with useful items and some treasure that were likely killed by the shadows. Continue reading

Fals’Krag Session 46 – Midwinter Ruins

Vermin, undead and two puzzles. The first was worked out pretty quickly – rope through hooks and loops. The second is more complicated. While there was a lot of good discussion and testing of theories, they don’t yet have a solution. Traps in my game are mostly detected/evaded by dice rolls (character skill), but if players don’t pay attention to something already mentioned by me or another player (like spider webs between the difficult terrain) or walk straight into a trapped area without looking around first, then too bad. I like puzzles in my RPG’s that the players have to think about, not just rely on a dice roll to work things out. I may allow a skill check to get a hint, or more detail, but some things can’t be solved by making a roll or casting a spell.

I’ve been having fun with rumours in town recently too. Some aren’t related to the mega-dungeon, but directly to things the players have been doing. A new rumour this session was about elves bringing valuable statues out of the dungeon and taking them to another town to sell. One of the players commented about not remembering the statues. I replied “You were one of them!” (It was a year ago in real-life: Medusa in session 40)

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1st Needfest. Everyone packs up and leaves the mountain. It’s both very cold and wet outside, and they head back to Fals’ford. The rain gets worse after they reach town. Shopping, training and celebration of mid-winter proceeds. [8th Level] Kevelli will stay in town all week, as he has some responsibilities during the festival. Seldrel, Brolith and Merxif trawl a few taverns looking for a halfling they can convince to donate some blood. (There is a rumour in town that an evil halfling pretending to be a priest is offering to heal people but really marking potential targets for sacrifice.) Buying drinks for people eventually gets them a suitably inebriated participant.

2nd: The party heads back to the hold and straight to the Hall of the Gods. They activate the statue of Cryollalee, obtaining a energy protection wand but no blessing for anyone. They return to the cavern and slowly make their way west then south through the ruins. They listen and look into buildings to see if anything has taken over from the morlocks and bugbears that previously used many of the buildings. There are no traces of bodies of anything they killed in the past. Reaching the blocks they had last been exploring, they find no cultist corpses. Lanliss can tell that rooms the cultists had been using have been searched since they left. Anything useful that the group didn’t take is gone. Some rooms they hadn’t entered have been used to grow fungi, moss and vegetables. Other chambers have been sleeping quarters and these too have been searched by someone else. Winter has reported odd noises and sighted movement in the badly damaged building immediately south. Lanliss vanishes to scout and reports the closest chambers empty. One has a grey lichen growing along one wall and Seldrel enters to study it. He determines that the plant is actually ‘Gloom Orb’, and the black growths it produces are beneficial. While he gathers these, he notes an uneven floor and three holes carved in the ceiling. Lanliss returns to examine the floor and ceiling. He finds metal rings in the ceiling holes, a floor that isn’t very thick (suspecting a pit or room below) and two holes in the floor corners with hooks. Lanliss and Seldrel gather rope, which they thread through the rings and anchor to the hooks. Lanliss believes they need to “lift” the hooks to make the floor panel open, but Seldrel isn’t able to exert enough force and Hardaz takes his place.

Bacon enters one of the empty rooms with other exits, and finds some humanoid corpses. All have large chest wounds, and some scraps of brown robes. Merxif confirms that they are indeed dead, and suspects that these are cultists that the giant mosquito creatures have emerged from. They appear to have died a week ago at least. Some normal rats flee Bacon as he looks around the other rooms.

Hardaz and Lanliss’ effort cause a section of the floor to flip into a vertical position revealing a thirty foot deep spiked pit with a rusty ladder and two coffers filled with copper pieces. A search also finds a secret compartment holding a large leather bag that is empty, but magical. Seldrel is convinced they have a bag of holding, and they hope that it isn’t cursed to consume anything they place within. They test it out with the copper coins.

Meanwhile both Bacon and Merxif feel a moment of lethargy, and are attacked by one of the ‘giant mosquitoes’ emerging from the darkness. Bacon strikes it, but in return it stings him and attaches itself. He bursts into action, battering it against the wall and door frame it came through. He succeeds in knocking it unconscious, and is able to detach it. With Merxif using his Deathwatch goggles, Bacon continues to batter the aberration until it is definitely deceased. Bits of bone and body pieces, as well as some more rats are in the back of the rooms. The end of the block is more damaged than solid, and there are many cobwebs. Lanliss warns of both fresh webs and piles of rubble as he sights a few giant spiders amid the collapse. Bacon picks his way carefully in alongside Lanliss to attack a spider. Both Merxif and Winter move to avoid rubble underfoot and find themselves entangled by webs. Hardaz and Seldrel take the long way around the building as more spiders emerge to attack. Bad footing and broken walls make the fight more complicated that usual, but it is soon over with no-one poisoned. Winter breaks free of the webs and assists Merxif out. They clear and burn webs, gathering coins and a golden plate amid the remains of the spiders prey.

The back of the building comes close to the cavern wall and they move along until they find another entrance. A large hall with divisions resembles a barn or animal enclosure. Lanliss moves quickly through a few rooms and calls out what he sees for others to check on – animal skeletons in the stalls, a humanoid skeleton in chainmail, and a tiled room. Seldrel detects magic amid the stalls. Hardaz going for a closer look finds himself surrounded by the ghosts of five large hounds and their angry trainer. He shrugs off most of their chilling attacks, and is quickly backed up by the rest of the party. Once defeated they quickly check for valuables – claiming two magical fire arrows and the chainmail from the trainers skeleton. Some coins are dug up from another stall, and Lanliss has found a locked trapdoor under floor tiles in another room. Lanliss picks the lock, and finds a box with more copper coins. Winter is attacked by a hazy purple figure similar to a shadow. She backs up, doing little damage with her arrows. Hardaz with his ghost-touch axe is again the best to take down the incorporeal undead. Seldrel thinks it was a murk, a shadow-like thing that effects your mind rather than feeding on your strength. They take some time for healing and treasure appraisal, then move on to the unexplored portion of the building. There are some faint noises ahead, and Lanliss sees an animated skeleton and two thin humanoids in adjoining rooms. The group splits in two as they enter and engage, what quickly turns out to be four skeletons, two ghouls and two ghasts. Merxif uses one of his crystal skulls to obliterate the majority of the undead. No-one is paralysed, nor appears to have been infected by disease, and one ghast wears a magical necklace. They are back to the cultist’s shrine now and head north towards the shouting that has been heard on an earlier day.

A small building is little more than a dusty, rubble filled shell. It is searched but doesn’t appear to be worth completely digging out. Noise from the adjacent building is more promising. The structure is less damaged, and holds nearly a dozen ghouls which keep everyone busy as the undead exit from multiple holes in the building walls. Ignoring many rotting limbs, bones, broken weapons and bits of armor, the group gather some silver coins and two gems. A rusty iron-plated door bars entry to the last part of the building. Lanliss takes time to pick the lock, only to find its rusted into place and isn’t opening with the usual encouragement. They have to bring out their portable ram and break it down. Beyond are two rooms filled with very old furniture – chairs, desks, stands, tables, cupboards and chests. Some break as they are examined and opened, due to damage from rot, mould, insects and age. A few pieces of jade inlay, some ivory handles, and a set of silver wind chimes are kept.

Bacon is suspicious about one section of floor. After cleaning the dust away he finds the seams around a large block of stone. He and Lanliss feel that it should move. A metal plate in the centre slides open revealing a hole with metal rings and brass discs. Seldrel detects abjuration, divination and shadow-illusion magic. Bacon and Lanliss look at it from a mechanical perspective and believe it’s a lock with the central portion missing. There is discussion as to what the illusion aspect does and closer examination suggests that what they see is accurate. Seldrel tries to dispel the magic on the mechanism and succeeds; nothing changes. The group thoroughly search the rooms, but find nothing else to give them any ideas of how to open the stone panel or door.