(D&D) Undead anti-climax!

Well, our 3rd edition Pathfinder D&D session last night went very well.

The first round against the invisible flying dracolich started off with most characters trying to work out where it was (Perception checks) and waiting (holding their action) for something to change. There were debates over trying to cast Dispel Magic at the general area or casting Raise Dead on the Dwarf Cleric. I refused to offer opinions on the basis that my character was dead and certainly wasn’t contributing to conversation. The dracolich swooped down and attacked our Ranger so we had a better idea of where it was. Fulcrum (heavy armoured Fighter) moved closer and used a magical item to change places with the wounded Ranger.  The Paladin moved into the midst of most characters and cast an area heal that was much needed.

Finally the Bard was convinced to cast Raise Dead (from a scroll, involving Use-Magic-Device checks) to bring back the Cleric (albeit with only 15hp and 2 negative levels).  My first action was to cast a major healing spell on myself. The fighter took some hits from the dracolich and everyone waited for me to be able to act again. A well placed Greater Dispel Magic cancelled the dracolich’s invisibility and everyone proceeded to start hitting/shooting it.  The Paladin charged in, declaring a Smite Evil and killed it with one very nasty blow.

We spent a few rounds healing, searching the chamber and more healing, while hoping to locate the creatures phylactery (an item or container that holds the undead’s spirit) and our Warmage found something magical in a crevice or ledge near the ceiling on one wall. (He was flying). He focused in on its location and succeeded with a well placed disintegrate spell that destroyed it just before the spirit was about to leave and animate another dragon corpse.

While being cautious about other monsters we began to search the chambers. Apart from the huge chamber we were in, there wasn’t much else but empty tunnels. We manage to collect a fair assortment of treasure and determined that their was no sign of the creature that we had originally changed into here. The portal that got us here had closed just after we arrived, so we next had to determine our location. Thankfully we found (by careful questioning and powerful divine magic) that we were still on the same plane and in/under a mountain range a bit further north-east than where we had started. Magic (Dimension door) got us out of the mountain and careful teleporting got everyone back to Greyhawk city. The temple of WeeJas was extremely pleased to hear that we had destroyed the artefacts, and said they would try to locate the creature that escaped. Finally, it looked like we have time to sort out treasure, spend money and get a long uninterrupted rest.

The rest of the night was spent eating and drinking (players, not characters) and discussing how to use our wealth. Top of the list from everyone is obtaining a portable hole! (At least one of the players is against leaving copper pieces behind, especially when there’s hundreds of thousands of them.)

Musing… on D&D, painting, writing and hot water!

Dungeons & Dragons:

Last weekend the Pathfinder (D&D) campaign that I play in reached a major climax. We have been trying to locate the cult/family that stole three powerful artefacts (of a dead god) designed to transform someone into a demi-god/powerful monster/something-really-nasty. The temple of WeeJas (a Greyhawk Goddess of Death, Magic and Law) finally found somewhere to send us… and we arrived in the middle of the ceremony to transform one of our opponents. We weren’t able to stop the ceremony, but we did kill all the undead thrown in our way and managed to survive destroying the artefacts. The “creature” escaped through a portal to elsewhere, but we were at least able to recover enough to follow.

We were lucky to get through the portal before it closed, and but I hate being rushed… major encounters when everyone in the party is wounded usually don’t go well. I/We need to balance healing with moving onward better…

What’s worse than a Dragon? How about a dead spell-casting dragon! My repainted dracolich figure got used prominently – the portal lead us to chambers with dragon corpses and then we were attacked by an INVISIBLE dracolich. (That’s why you can’t see it in the photo.) My Dwarf (and only my character) can see invisible things, and I had a spell up my sleeve that cancels out invisibility, so we killed it fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the dracolich spirit promptly reanimated one of the corpses and attacked again. We killed it again… see a pattern emerging? We started destroying (or badly damaging) the dragon corpses, but I think more healing would have been better. With a few rounds to prepare, the dracolich came back a third time and once again invisible. It seems to be a bit less powerful each time, but this bout it went straight for me… aaaaannd I’m dead. That’s my dwarf lying on his back on the upper right. Fulcrum, our powerful fighter charged across and managed to get a hit on it before it took to the air. (Still invisible!) That’s where we stopped for the night. We play again tomorrow!


Fighting an invisible dracolich!

For the curious: The play mat being used is simply for its size not features – we are ignoring the printed walls. The red discs on the table represent dragon corpses (unmangled) and the yellow discs are the destroyed corpses. I’ve made yellow “condition” cards (not pictured – such as stunned, dazed, fatigued) and green “spell effect” cards (like Bless, Prayer, Haste, and Bard performance) that we use during the game to remind us of bonuses and penalties. Flying stands are Litko, from Paizo.


Over the last week or two I’ve been touching up figures that I painted last year. Many of them had paint that had rubbed off and some of them got some ink for shading. They all got a spray of clear matte acrylic for protection too. Now I’m working on a group of figures that I first painted probably twenty years ago. Most of them need more than just a touch-up! Four figures in this group (and three in the earlier one) are Lord of the Rings figures, Citadel 1985. I’ve decided that my next major painting project will be to work on the rest of these figures (I bought a lot) and do a blog post on them as a group. It’s a big group too – including horses and ponies.


I really haven’t gotten much further with my novel. I’ve spent more time reading, painting and watching TV. I did finally get an understandable message from the publishing agent on my answering machine! This gave me a chance to do a little research before I phoned her back and told her that I never wanted to hear from her again!

It turned out that she was part of an American Publishing company that looks like it makes its money off “new” or prospective writers. You pay them money and they help you produce a book, with lots of options (that you pay for) along the way to aid you to spell-check, edit, format, restructure, or whatever. I found a bunch of bad reviews and no guarantee that you would actually get a published book into shops, or make any money out of the process.

I’ve got a list of Australian agents, and submission guidelines, so I’ll stick with that.


You might not understand how remarkable I find a hot shower to be – especially as the weather shifts towards winter here!

My wife and I haven’t had gas on at home for four weeks – so no hot water, and only electricity for cooking. I had a most enjoyable phone conversion this evening, even better than expected. It’s great to call up a company to tell them you’re not going to pay their service charges any longer, but I was expecting to get someone who wasn’t really paying attention (or who cared) and to confuse them by not following the typical process of cancelling a service.  First off, I got an Australian guy (in Australia!) answer my call (as opposed to someone in an overseas call centre) and we had a great conversation. It mostly started getting fun when he asked me if I was moving house. This of course, is asked so that they can try and get the contract to charge for gas at your new address. I said “no”. Instead of continuing on with the next step, he asked me to excuse his curiosity, but wanted to know why I wanted the gas cut off if I wasn’t going anywhere. He understood, sympathised, laughed, apologised for waiting times and actually provided good customer service!

In short – my home is the second house on a large block, built some decades ago. My neighbours realised there was a gas leak and eventually worked out that it was the gas line to our house, that runs behind their house. After many phone calls, visits by plumbers/gas company, emails to gas company and council, etc we have determined that the old pipes from the gas meter to our house are very corroded, thus the leak. Being on our side of the gas meter makes it all our responsibility, and replacing (or bypassing) tens of metres of pipe to get to our house and around the garage, is both complicated and very expensive. I’m thankful for great neighbours – I dug a bunch of holes in their yard trying to track pipe and other people have been in and out. Tomorrow we shop for an electric oven & stove top. Then it’ll be a new electric hot water service. No more gas here… and solar panels sound like a great future investment!

Dracolich Revisited…

Normally I don’t do anything about “basing” my figures except for making sure the figure is glued into the base and that any metal under the figure is blackened so it’s not obvious. Most are on 25mm bases, so there’s also not a lot of room to do much. Thirdly, most figures are used irregularly in games as individuals, not as part of an army – I don’t see a point in spending extra time to do a fancy base.

The “unfettered” Dracolich I repainted on the weekend actually has a fair amount of space around the rock on the base, and when Azazel suggested doing something (at least to the rock) I went to bed with a bunch of ideas running through my head.

When I painted my dark elves, I collected some small stones (for rocks) to decorate some of their bases. After I was done, I tossed the remainder back into the yard. This time I’m keeping stones and putting them in a bag!

So I had an assortment of flat and pointy rocks which got glued to the base. I found a hand holding a spear in my bits bag and cut off the pointy end, then “splintered” the haft. I have a heap of shields, so found a nice one and cut a chunk out of it. Then I went looking for something to fill out the rest of the base. I really wanted sand, but raided my chicken supplies and came up with something very close – finely ground sea-shells. (The chickens need calcium for strong eggs.) This got glued on, then everything painted black. The rock got touches of gray, and a few different browns until everything looked like I wanted it. Some grey dry brush over some rocks, and a strong tone ink wash over all. The painted spear and shield were glued on and I turned up some real bones in the back-yard to be trimmed slightly and glued on as well. (I never thought my chickens would contribute to miniatures!)

All of this meant the Dracolich itself deserved a little more work – so I touched up gaps in painting and did some more highlighting to blend the bones on it nicely. I had some good sunlight through the yard so I got some worthwhile shots of the basing. The main rock looks particularly good in natural light.


Painting – DDM4 “Fettered Dracolich”

I’ve been very happy collecting D&D pre-painted miniatures. They are light and aren’t likely to damage each other in my figure boxes, they are generally good quality available at a low price and they come in full colour! Since the main table-top game I play is D&D, I know they are the right scale for my game and can be used immediately.

Every now and then I get one that has a sloppy paint job, but I’m more than capable now of fixing them up or adding some extra touches where the existing look is bland.

Sometime last year I obtained a “Fettered Dracolich” (#17 in the Lords of Madness mini series; also in the Curse of Undeath – Dungeon Command set).

Fettered: 1. Chained or shackled; 2. Confined or restrained.

First concern first… who names these figures? It’s a good sculpt and nice pose. Chains… no. Shackles… zilch. Cage, weighted net, magical bindings or other confining object? Neither, nor. Okay, there is another D&D mini called “Dracolich” (its bigger) but since this Dracolich was originally a black dragon, maybe just “Black Dracolich” could have been a possibility.

Secondly… the paint job is extremely simplistic. Mine was purely a mid grey over the black plastic of the figure. Images online suggest that the grey is common, otherwise it’s a creamy brown. After we used the figure in a game a few months ago, I started to do some detailing to bring out the bone structure. It was taking me ages and I wasn’t very impressed with the small obvious improvements. During this week (a bit like Azazel) I decided it was time to take it seriously and get it off my desk by doing a complete repaint.

Here’s an image of the typical mini. (I hadn’t photographed mine beforehand.)

2015-02-28 Dracolich-3

The unchained, unrestrained, animated remains of a dragon!

I gave it an all over light yellow brown, and then a darker brown mostly over the wings. This then got a mostly dry-brushed white to bring out the skeletal structure. It then got a strong tone ink to darken between bones, etc. White highlights to most bones and I thought I was almost done. I’d been looking at some images online, and decided that instead of fussing with wing detail, I’d just paint between the bones like I’d seen on a few other dracolich figures. I started with black mixed with a bit of blue, planning to come back and darken it later, but it dried darker than expected and I only used a bit of black paint on wing edges. Tips of the horns and a few spots between bones got a bit of black too and fluro red, then red for the eyes.

It could probably do with a little bit more detailing, but I don’t really feel like doing much more – so it may only get a spray of clear varnish before going back out to the dragon display shelves in the lounge. Here’s the (probably) finished figure: