Age of Sigmar : First Thoughts

Brace yourself people, it’s the End Times. Oh, wait, actually, we just had those.

old nagash model
“Durrr, time to ensure that Chaos doesn’t destroy the world… by destroying the world!”

Okay, a different End Times. The usual End Times that comes about whenever Games Workshop unleash a new edition of one of their games upon the world. This time, it’s Fantasy’s turn. Great, yawn, whatever. More blocks of identical infantry nudging up against each other. Except it’s not that now. Now, it’s something a bit… different.


So let me get you up to speed if you’ve been under a rock for the past year. Warhammer 8th. Decent-ish, apparently. GW goes LOL ADVANCING THE PLOT and releases the End Times, aka Monster Mash Funtimes with big new plastic kits and stupid-expensive hardback books. Lots of significant characters die, or go Super-Saiyan (or both), the elves all kiss and make up, the Lizardmen fuck off to space, the Skaven eat most of not-Spain and not-Italy, Archaon goes RAAAAARRRRRRR, fucks the world with his spiky Chaos murderboner, and the Ruinous Powers win. Sort of. Except not, because one of the elven goddesses preserves a fragment of the Old World and uses it to create a new world. Skip forward, and now we have the Stormclad Eternals (above) who are NOT SPACE MARINES but are instead power-armoured demi-gods who are servants of the God-King (see it’s new because Kings are totally different from Emperors!), and everything’s on round bases and it looks all skirmish-y and the community is losing their fucking minds, because of course they are. Let me get this out of the way and I’m actually on board for Age of Sigmar. I like the look of the Stormclads (or Sigmarines, as the Internet has dubbed them), and I’m utterly in love with the boss-man on his drake/griffon/Battlecat thing. Some are saying that aesthetically they don’t look like “Warhammer” but honestly, “big dudes in armour” is not exactly ground-breaking stuff for Warhammer as Chaos Warriors have been around ever since this time known as forever. Also, as for things not looking like they “belong”, does anyone remember robo-horse? 99810202013_MasterEngineerMechanicalSteedNEW01 Or daemon-mecha? 99129915013_SoulgrinderNEW03WHF Or Apache helicopter? 99120205011_GyrobomberNEW01 But yeah, no, you’re right, dudes in magical armour is obviously crossing the line. Anyway, so, yeah, bit of a shake up, and not just in terms of a new faction and new rules. A lot has changed, the most surprising of which is GW’s business model. Now, as previously shown, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of GeeDubs, so it takes a lot for them to impress me, and would you know it, they actually have! Yes, GW have dragged themselves kicking and screaming into the 21st century and have seemed to acknowledge that other gaming companies give out rules for free! What does this mean? An end to army books! Now all units will have what’s called a War Scroll, basically like a unit card from Warmachine which gives their stats, special rules, etc. These will be completely free and ready to download as PDFs from the GW site on the same day that AoS drops. It’s okay. Take your time. It’s a lot to take on board; GW giving away something for free. The promise is that nothing is being obsoleted; you don’t have to rebase your dudes on round bases, you don’t have to eBay your 9,000 point Beastman army… everything will be there, including the new Stormclad stuff. Sure, it’ll be arranged into the new factions – all of which, by the way, have had their names tweaked to ensure easy trademarking (Aelf instead of elf, Seraphon instead of Lizardmen, Orokk instead of orc, etc. Kinda dumb but I also understand the reasoning) – but it’ll be there. It’ll exist. So, the new rules, which are four pages. Yep. Four. To say it’s been streamlined is an understatement. But we have what we need; rules for moving, shooting, fighting, morale, and a bit of magic. Gone is the venerable M/WS/BS/S/T/W/I/A/Ld array, something I’m actually glad of. There’s no more comparing your Weapon Skill to an opponent’s in close combat to determine what you need to roll to hit, or comparing Strength to Toughness to determine what you roll to wound; now models have set To Hit and To Wound, regardless of what they’re fighting. Of course, I’m sure some models will have special abilities to modify this mechanic. The one thing I’m concerned about is the rumour at there won’t be points values, or even some other kind of alternative list-building mechanic. There’s certainly no points values shown on the example War Scrolls for the Stormclad guys. If rumours are to be believed, you’ll just plonk down whatever models you like and go at it. We’ll see how that turns out. As many people online have said, other GW starter sets like Dark Vengeance don’t include points values, so… yeah. I imagine that’s one of the first things that the community may house rule, just to preserve some balance. It does leave a rather sour taste in the mouth though if it’s true; even checkers, the most basic of tabletop games, has a balancing mechanic! The starter set looks absolutely ace. Stormclads versus Khorne Warriors, hell yes. The Stormclads have He-Man on Battlecat, ten of the basic Sigmarines with hammers, some funky Thanagarian-Hawkman dudes, and even bigger Sigmarines with big ol’ smackin’ hammers. The Chaos dudes… well…


Yeah, they’re pretty cool as well. Chaos Lord, twenty Marauders, some Warriors, and a big ogre/troll/daemon monster which actually looks sort of goofy. The downside is that the starter set will probably run in the region of £75, which is definitely enough to make me think twice, especially when I’ve been eyeing up Mantic’s Deadzone and umm’ing and aah’ing about that for what seems like forever. As you can probably tell, I’m finding it all very exciting, because it’s actual genuine innovation from a company who have always had a history of, well, not innovating. I can fully sympathise with the people who don’t like it and who’d rather have a new game similar to 8th… but then what would be the point of that? It would be a 40k 6th to 7th deal; minor tweaks, a load of new problems (I mean, Jesus, Malefic Daemonology, wtf), and you’re £80 poorer after buying the new big rulebook and the new version of your army’s Codex. Age of Sigmar is the shot in the arm that Fantasy needed; it was dwindling when compared to the tumescent monstrosity that 40k has become. Even when I used to frequent my FLGS back in my old hometown when Ian and I were in our early twenties, no-one played Fantasy; people thought it was boring and complicated. GW may have gone too much the other way with Age of Sigmar. Like I said, the Internet backlash for this is mental. They’ve definitely created the most Marmite version of the game; you either love it or hate it, there’s no in-between. People are comparing it to D&D 4th edition in how divisive, which scares me; I used to like 4th, and then I realised what a monster it really was… hmm. Regardless, I’m psyched enough about the whole thing to pop into my local GW next week and have a demo game. Gotta hand to those lads in Nottingham; I keep pulling away, and they find ways to drag me back into their sweaty clutches.

Also America celebrates that time when they became a real country or something.

Gareth Some pictures courtesy of Bell of Lost Souls.

The D&D Pokédex #2

It’s a lazy Sunday evening and I recently got my hands on the 5th edition Monster Manual, so I thought it would be a good idea to continue this dumb little project and convert some more of your favourite Japanese seizure monsters into D&D statblocks!



Flametails are smaller and less intelligent than “true” dragons, but no less fearsome. Scholars believe that the first flametails were wyverns that were somehow infused with elemental fire, transforming their venomous stinger into a constantly-burning flame, hence the name. Although aggressive, it has been known for some flametails to be tamed and even ridden into battle by particularly bold individuals. 

– Scholar Oak, Beasts Most Peculiar

Large dragon, unaligned

Armour Class 13 (natural armour)

Hit Points 110 (13d10 + 39)

Speed 30 feet, fly 60 feet

STR 19 (+4)   DEX  10 (+0)   CON 16 (+3)  INT 7 (-2)  WIS 12 (+1)   CHA  6 (-2)

Skills Perception +4

Damage Resistances fire

Damage Vulnerabilities cold

Senses darkvision 60 feet, passive Perception 14

Languages none


Multiattack. The flametail dragon makes one bite attack and one claw or fiery tail attack.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 10 feet, one creature. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 5 feet, one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) slashing damage

Fiery Tail. Melee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 10 feet, one creature. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) bludgeoning and fire damage

Fire Breath (Recharge 5-6). The flametail dragon exhales a jet of flame in a 3-foot wide, 30-foot long line. Each creature in the area must tale a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) fire damage on a failed save, or half damage on a successful one.



This bizarre animal has developed the most curious of natural weapons; organic cannons which it uses to spray a variety of corrosive, freezing, or scalding liquids to drive off predators. To this day, I haven’t been able to determine exactly how the creature achieves this; I suspect some kind of innate link to the Elemental Plane of Water. Further research is required. 

As these beasts are incredibly strong and well-armoured, it’s no surprise that many military commanders attempt to train them to act as living siege engines.

 – Scholar Oak, Beasts Most Peculiar

Large beast (reptile), unaligned

Armour Class 18 (natural armour)

Hit Points 142(15d10 + 60)

Speed 20 feet, swim 30 feet

STR 18 (+4)   DEX  8 (-1)   CON 18 (+4)  INT 7 (-2)  WIS 12 (+1)   CHA  6 (-2)

Saving Throws Constitution +7

Damage Resistances fire

Damage Vulnerabilities lightning

Senses darkvision 60 feet, passive Perception 11

Languages none

Amphibious. The artillery turtle can breathe air and water.


SlamMelee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 5 feet, one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage

Multiattack. The artillery turtle makes two water cannon attacks.

Water Cannon. Ranged Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, range 50/200 feet, one creature. Hit: 10 (2d10-1) acid, cold, or fire damage

Tidal Rush (Recharge 5-6). The artillery turtle combines its cannons to unleash a wave of water in a 30-foot cone. Each creature in the area must tale a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 16 (3d10) bludgeoning damage, being pushed 10 feet away from the artillery turtle and being knocked prone on a failed save, or half damage and no other effects on a successful one.



These large, beautiful butterfly-like creatures are usually peaceful, and avoid violence when they can. They typically congregate in large groups to watch over their larvae. Their delicate nature shouldn’t be mistaken for one of weakness though; although too frail to attack enemies directly, the glitterwings are fully capable of defending themselves with the odd powders seemed to be produced by their flapping wings.

– Scholar Oak, Beasts Most Peculiar

Small beast (insect), unaligned

Armour Class 14

Hit Points 18 (5d6)

Speed 10 feet, fly 40 feet

STR 6 (-2)   DEX  16 (+3)   CON 10 (+0)  INT 3 (-4)  WIS 10 (+0)   CHA  4 (-3)

Damage Resistances psychic

Damage Vulnerabilities fire

Senses passive Perception 10

Languages none


Blinding Powder (Recharge 5-6). The glitterwing monarch sprinkles powder over a creature within 10 feet of it. The creature must pass a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is blinded for 1 minute. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turn to end the effect early.

Numbing Powder (Recharge 5-6). The glitterwing monarch sprinkles powder over a creature within 10 feet of it. The creature must pass a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature halves it speed and it can’t perform reactions or more than one attack per round for 1 minute. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turn to end the effect early.

Toxic Powder (Recharge 5-6). The glitterwing monarch sprinkles powder over a creature within 10 feet of it. The creature must pass a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 4 (1d8) poison damage and is poisoned for 1 minute. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turn to end the effect early.

So there we go, a few more beasties for D&D games! I’m having fun making these, so expect more to come, such as the javelin hornet (Beedrill), striker falcon (Pidgeotto) and chomper (Raticate).


D&D Lost Mine of Phandelver – Epilogue and Retrospective

After giving the Black Spider the boot (ba-dum-bum-tssh), Loki and Grimdark returned to Phandalin, with the battered and bloody Pyke and Nundro, and the bodies of Droop and Helga; Grimdark was unfortunately unable to resurrect them with his newly-learned revivify spell, because obviously he lacked the required 600 gp worth of powdered diamonds. This is why material components for spells make me sad.

Upon return to Phandalin, Droop and Helga were laid to rest, and the Black Spider’s spear was added to the growing collection of trophies over the fireplace in Barry’s Barrel Room. With the Spider gone, the town could finally start to get back on its feet.

Nundro, the last surviving Rockseeker brother, took over management of the mine, and gave Loki and Grimdark a share in the mine’s profits. The word went out across the provinces that the fabled Lost Mine of Phandelver had been found, and  a new workforce was recruited. On the recommendation of Sergeant Pyke, Nundro recruited a full regiment of Mintarn mercenaries, on permanent retainer, as security for the mine.

As for Loki and Grimdark? They were lauded as heroes for all their work. With the money they’d “acquired” from their adventures, they made even more improvements to the Barrel Room and funded restoration work for the dilapidated Tresender Manor. Sildar’s guild, the Lord’s Alliance, approached them with offers of membership and work, but they refused, happy to retire from adventuring and settle down in Phandalin as landlords of the pub and shareholders of the mine. Their adventure was over. For now…

Remember that Red Wizard of Thay who was wandering around with a small army of undead? Yeah, he’s probably Lawful Good.

The Treasures of Barry’s Barrel Room: Tattered Redbrand cloak, cask of dwarven brandy, the “crown” of the bugbear King Grol, Tested (the trident that slew the green dragon Venomfang), the skull of the green dragon Venomfang, Raid (the magical spear of the Black Spider), the painting Thundertree Resplendant, Hew (magical battleaxe), Lightbringer (magical mace), Earful (magical rapier), Ball Slicer (magical short sword).

The “Ears” of Loki’s Necklace: Wolf, goblin, bugbear (one burnt, one “fresh”), human, orc, ogre, hobgoblin, nothic, giant spider fang, green dragon fang, stirge proboscis, spectator eyestalk, ghoul, elf (specifically Aelya’s).


All in all, a pretty good way of spending ten months and several dozen hours! If you and some friends are just getting into D&D, you couldn’t really ask for much better than The Lost Mine of Phandelver; it’s a really well-designed adventure, with a plot that’s not too constricting if your players want to go “off-script” (buying a pub, for example). For the money, the starter set is excellent, and if you get the free basic rules from the D&D website, you could theoretically run a campaign of levels 1-20 for a tiny cash investment.

Me? I’m too capricious to be tied down to a level 1-20 slog. Instead I’m going to be running campaigns that peak at level 5; this to me seems the sweet spot, and means that a campaign can be finished off in about ten to twelve sessions… perfect for when I want to move on to the next one!

So what does my D&D future hold in store? Well, these are the campaigns I have in mind to inflict upon my group…

  • San Diablo : A supernatural action adventure where the heroes are modern-day knights and mages fighting off the creatures of darkness. Lots of influence from RWBY here, because I am a weak and impressionable man-child.
Hot blonde? Shotgun boxing gloves? Hnnnngh.
  • Shining Kingdoms : Oriental Adventures/Wuxia style game, and all that entails. Samurai, ninja, oni, geisha, warrior monks, HONOUR… all that stuff that weeaboos jerk it to.
  • Gladius Umbra : Sci-fi conspiracy/special ops style setting. Lots of infiltration/sabotage/assassination style missions. A sort of Mass Effect vibe, sans aliens and biotics. Might tie it with the Brahma Circle, a nascent sci-fi setting/narrative universe I’ve toyed with the idea of for ever.
  • Poison Earth: Gamma World ruleshacked into 5th edition. Loves me some Gamma World.
  • More D&D! : Maybe set a few decades after the events of The Lost Mine. Maybe there’s a new threat in the region that new heroes have to deal with, like that aforementioned necromancer from Thay and his Red Wizard buddies. Or a new setting. Because fuck Forgotten Realms.
  • Sixguns and Sinners: Weird West. A load of spaghetti westerns mixed with occult horror. This what we’re doing next, probably starting next month; Joe’s already got plans to show up occasionally as a mysterious wandering preacher, and Darryl is nursing a boner for being a rootin’ tootin’ gunslinger, because he has apparently developed a lust for dual-wielding…

All I can say is that the dice haven’t stopped rolling, and won’t for a long time yet.

If you’ve been reading about our Phandelver adventures from the start, then thank you; it’s been a real blast, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as popular as it has been, if my stats are anything to go by. I just hope that our next foray into the world of tabletop RPGs is just as entertaining for you!

May you always roll 20s.



Lost Mine of Phandelver Finale Part 2 – Does Whatever A Spider Can


Hellboy-II-The-Golden-Army-HD-Free-Download1“Oooh my, I’m soooo wickedly foppish.”

Goblin-Piker“Grimdark, I’m your son… and your father!”

2884773-Jeremy-Renner-as-Hawkeye-in-The-Avengers-jeremy-renner-32910680-3200-2000*is dead*

Meriadoc-Brandybuck-meriadoc-brandybuck-11947180-960-406“EARS EARS EARS EARS EARS.”


So, where were we? Oh, yes. The final boss fight.

The group strides into the Forge of Spells (retwigged on my map to be a big hallway with pillars and a raised platform at the end) and are greeted by the sinister Black Spider, the nefarious elven mastermind behind the campaign of terror against the people of Phandalin.


“Well, well; the nuisances make themselves known.”


“Sir? I know you’re going for the sinister, one-step-ahead-of-you nemesis thing, but seriously, we have utterly crippled your entire operation.”


“You mean those worthless human ruffians and that lickspittle Iarno? Or that imbecilic bugbear Grol? Or those lowlife mercenaries? (laughs) Oh yes, you truly have proven yourselves great and mighty heroes. And yet, here I still stand, at the seat of power that formed Phandelver’s Pact all those centuries ago! Your frantic efforts have amused me; the death and desertion of your comrades even more so. But now the joke has worn thin, and now you are dangerously close to actually annoying me.”

With that scathing monologue, he turns away, back to the Forge. He snaps his fingers, and the bugbears charge forward. Two giant spiders crawl down out of the corners of the ceiling. His three elven henchmen (one of which is Aelya, the betrayer) unsheathe their swords and slink down the stairs in unison like murderous catwalk models.

The final fight for the Lost Mine of Phandelver is on.

So, the group have munched their way through enough bugbears before to know what to expect. They tangled with some giant spiders in Thundertree, so no surprises there. But the elf swordsmen? And the Spider himself? Well, even if you had the book in front of you now, you’d be surprised at what they could do. In the published adventure, the final encounter is a bit… lame. The Black Spider is a hopelessly weak mage, and has no good ass-kicking henchmen. So, I gave him some bite…


Fang of the Black Spider

Medium humanoid (elf), neutral evil

Armour Class 15 (leather armour)

Hit Points 18

Speed 35 feet

STR 12 (+1)   DEX  18 (+4)   CON 10 (+0)  INT 13 (+1)  WIS 12 (+1)   CHA  12 (+1)

Saving Throws Dexterity +6

Skills Acrobatics +6, Stealth +6

Senses passive Perception 11, darkvision 60 ft

Languages Common, Elven

Fey Ancestry. Normal elf stuff.


Short Sword. Melee Weapon Attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 feet, one creature. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage.

Multiattack. The Fang of the Black Spider makes two short sword attacks.


Parry. When hit by a melee attack, the Fang of the Black Spider may roll 1d6 and add the result as a bonus to its AC; use the revised value to determine if the triggering attack hits. The FotBS can’t use this reaction if it can’t see its attacker, or if it isn’t wielding a melee weapon.


So, yeah. Three of them.

The Fangs actually hang back for a bit (why send the elites in first, after all?) while the bugbears and giant spiders rush forward. Loki and Grimdark rush to engage one of the spiders – Grimdark pausing to throw out a bless on himself, Loki, Helga, and Pyke – and heavily damage it; it responds by scuttling up the wall and onto the ceiling, out of reach. The other giant spider webs Nundro; Droop and Helga return fire with magic missiles and ray of frost respectively, while Pyke wades in to finish it off with his greatsword.

The two bugbears close in; one puts a hefty dent in Grimdark, and the other makes a beeline for “easy pickings”, Droop and Helga. Loki and Grimdark easily finish off the bugbear they’re fighting, while dodging the webbing fired from above by the wounded giant spider.

The Fangs then commit; one heads for Pyke, and the other two go for Grimdark and Loki. The Fang that locks swords with Loki is the treacherous Aelya. “I’ve never fought a halfling before!” she spits into his face.



“Oh, it won’t be a fight,” Loki sneers back, nailing her with a critical hit and nearly one-shotting her. I high-five Darryl then and there.

Pyke has his hands full against the giant spider and the Fang, but actually manages to achieve something for once when he kills the spider. The Fang is more of a challenge though, and he starts getting sliced up by the elf swordsman.

Seeing some of his goons have been defeated, the Black Spider finally decides to get off his perky elven derriere and get his hands dirty. He pulls an ominously-glowing spear from the flames of the Forge, does some fancy spinning, and OH SHIT HE CAN TELEPORT.


The Black Spider

Medium humanoid (elf), neutral evil

Armour Class 16 (leather armour)

Hit Points 28

Speed 35 feet

STR 12 (+1)   DEX  18 (+4)   CON 10 (+0)  INT 16 (+3)  WIS 14 (+2)   CHA  15 (+2)

Saving Throws Dexterity +6, Intelligence +5, Wisdom +4

Skills Acrobatics +6, Arcana +5, History +5, Investigation +5, Perception +4, Persuasion +4, Stealth +6

Senses passive Perception 14, darkvision 60 ft

Languages Common, Elven

Combat Reflexes. As long as the Black Spider is able to perform reactions, creatures cannot gain advantage on melee or ranged attack rolls made against him.

Fey Ancestry. Normal elf stuff.

Innate Spellcasting. The Black Spider can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components; mage hand (at will), cure wounds (1/day), misty step (2/day), shield (1/day).


“Raid”. Melee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 10 feet, one creature. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) poison damage.

Multiattack. The Black Spider makes two attacks with Raid.


Parry. When hit by a melee attack, the Black Spider may roll 1d6 and add the result as a bonus to his AC; use the revised value to determine if the triggering attack hits. The FotBS can’t use this reaction if it can’t see its attacker, or if it isn’t wielding a melee weapon.


Slightly more of a threat than his published version, right? Does he break some rules regarding creature creation? Yes. Does he have some fairly cheap counters to the hero’s strategies? Yes. But fuck that, he’s the BBEG, and they’re made to break the rules!

So the Black Spider misty steps into the fray, and stalks towards the guys on the back row; Helga, Droop, and Nundro. Droop panics and fires off his last burst of magic missiles from his wand. The Black Spider does a little smug chuckle and throws up a shield without even breaking stride.

Loki breaks off from Aelya to help out Pyke. Aelya, already psychotic from her near-fatal stabbing at the hands of a hobbit, follows him.

Droop, terrified that his wand is out of magic pew-pews, gets his pointy stick out and runs into the ridiculous clusterfuck of Loki, Pyke, and two Fangs. Aelya takes a swipe at Loki and misses, but for sake of drama we say that those attack hits Droop instead! The poor little dude drops to the floor.

The Black Spider is still walking towards Helga with murder on his mind. In a display of truly villainous douchebaggery, he straight-up coup de graces Droop as he walks past. No attack roll, no damage roll… shit, I don’t even say it costs him an action. That’s how casually he does it. What a dick.


Hellboy-II-The-Golden-Army-HD-Free-Download1“Urgh. Disgusting goblin vermin.”

Unable to break away from his fight with the Fang to protect Helga and his cousin, Grimdark instead summons that bane of my existence, spiritual weapon. But it’s okay, because Trev makes my night with this declaration;


“The weapon takes the form of Barry FUCKING Arrers!”

2884773-Jeremy-Renner-as-Hawkeye-in-The-Avengers-jeremy-renner-32910680-3200-2000*materialises into being* “Knock knock. Who’s there? The saviour of Thundertree, that’s who.” *hefts spectral version of Tested*



So now the Black Spider is having to fend off the vengeful trident-wielding ghost of Barry Arrers! This gives Helga and Nundro some time to get out of the way; they’ve been tied up against this one bugbear for ages. Compared to the frantic back and forth going on, their fight is like a toddler’s playground scuffle.

Loki kicks his murdering into high gear. Firstly, he finishes off Aelya, stabbing her right through her treasonous heart.

“I’ll be back for one of those pointy ears, bitch.”

Then he spins away, and plunges his second sword into the back of the Fang that Grimdark was fighting. You know what? A 3d6 sneak attack is pretty goddamn brutal. A second Fang goes down.

But Loki’s spree has put him the path of the waiting giant spider! Eager for revenge, it drops down from the ceiling on top of him, critting him with its bite. Thankfully he stays standing, and the poison doesn’t paralyse him.

Helga and Nundro have finally managed to drag down the bugbear they’re fighting when they find a psycho spear-wielding elf in front of them.

helga“Nundro, get back!”

No need to tell him twice; he scurries away and cowers in the corner. Helga lets rip with a burning hands. The Black Spider actually fails to dodge it, and gets a nice fiery facial.

Scorched, but unfortunately very much alive (and pissed), the Black Spider makes short work of Helga. One slash from Raid puts her down, and the second is a coup de grace. Noooooooo!


*pointing at Grimdark* “You’re next, priest.”


*rushing in from the side* “CHOO CHOO, ALL ABOARD THE TRIDENT TRAIN!”



Loki looks at the carnage unfolding, then at the unguarded Forge of Spells. An idea goes through his little halfling mind…

Grimdark kills the second giant spider, and Pyke somehow – against all odds – manages to beat the third Fang, bisecting him with a swing of his greatsword. Of course, then he’s got the boss to deal with.

The Black Spider faces off against Pyke, and cuts him up bad. But Pyke’s tough, and stays on his feet. Grimdark rushes in to help his fellow Mintarn alumni.

Meanwhile, Loki has climbed the stairs to the Forge and is bathing his rapier and short sword in the sorcerous flames…

The Black Spider lashes out against Pyke and Grimdark, while also fending off the spiritual Barry. He puts down Pyke, and reduces Grimdark to 0 HP. Again, Rule of Cool intervenes; rather than have Grimdark drop to 0 HP and leave himself open to a coup de grace, Trev and I compromise and say that Grimdark remains at 1 HP, but he’s staggered back and disarmed. Surely he’s as good as dead…

That’s when Loki pulls his new magical swords out of the Forge’s fire! I demand that Darryl names them both; all magic weapons need names, that’s what makes them magical!

The rapier is Earful. The short sword is Ball Slicer.


*flourishing* “Come to daddy.”

With a scream of rage, the Black Spider misty steps towards Loki, and they fight on the stairs. There’s some narrow misses, and both of them take hits. However, only one can survive.

The Black Spider nimbly steps aside the thrust from Earful, but that leaves him wide open for Ball Slicer, which does exactly enough damage to reduce him to 0 HP.

The elf tumbles down the stairs and rolls to a halt. Grimdark towers above him.


“I… I surrender.”

Grimdark looks at the bodies of Droop and Helga, then back down to the Black Spider.


“You know, I’ve always hated spiders. You know what I do to ’em?”


“Wh-what are you talking about?”

Grimdark doesn’t reply. Doesn’t say a single word.

Instead he CURB-STOMPS the Black Spider, like it’s fucking Gears of War. No coming back from that I guess.

Loki strolls down the stairs, giggling at the pretty swirling patterns his swords make when he twirls them. He looks at the sundered mess of blood, skull fragments and pulped brains that’s all that remains of their nemesis, and tuts.
Meriadoc-Brandybuck-meriadoc-brandybuck-11947180-960-406“Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t want his ear.”











Lost Mine of Phandelver Finale Part 1 – Unbugbearable

Well, that’s it. Half an hour ago, my players and I finished off our first real, honest-to-god, start-to-end D&D campaign. You want to know how to went down? Of course you do! Let’s get this final chapter underway while it’s still fresh in my mind. A lot happened though, so this’ll be a two-parter.

In Attendance: Loki Fastfoot (Darryl), Grimdark Stonelock (Trev)



And obviously myself, the DM.

So, last time, the group found an unused water channel than ran through the smelting chamber that would hopefully allow them to bypass the various barricades obstructing their way. After some robust discussion, they send a reluctant Helga through the tunnel to find out where it leads. Grumbling about how she gets no respect, Helga disappears down the tunnel.

The group waits for ten minutes, but she doesn’t come back. Eventually, Grimdark announces that he’ll go after her. Good thing he does; as he emerges from the tunnel, he sees that Helga has been captured by two bugbears (I was originally going to use hobgoblins, but after how badly they performed last time, I decided to pull out something with a bit more bite). The tunnel comes out at the bottom of a crater or dry lake bed, with high rock cliffs rising up above and… urgh, you know what? This bit.

wec map 1

Grimdark bellows down the tunnel for the others to come and help, casts spiritual weapon to start harrying the bugbears, and throws himself at one of the rope ladders that’s hanging down. Loki, Pyke and Droop all show up just as Grimdark scrambles to the top, only to find there are twice as many bugbears as he’d anticipated. Tch. Mondays.

Loki blows the dust off his hand crossbows and goes all John Woo, nailing one of the bugbears near the edge of the ridge with both shots. This is one of those times I decide to sacrifice rules for cool, and say that the bugbear – after being hacked at by a magical ghost sword and now getting two crossbow bolts in the chest – tumbles off the ridge, landing hard on the rocks. Droop throws uses his magic missile wand against the other, and Pyke makes a run for one of the ladders. Grimdark doesn’t have as much luck; he blocks a thrown javelin from one bugbear, but the other one rushes him and pushes him off the edge of the ridge.

Gravity is a harsh mistress.

The fallen bugbear scrambles up and takes a swing at Pyke, achieving nothing and starting the long and tedious dance of two below-average warriors. The bugbear that Droop shot responds with a javelin back at the little goblin, missing him entirely. The javelin clatters to the floor, and Darryl sees this as a chance to do something new. He gets Loki to run over, snatch up the javelin and throw it back, despite Trev’s repeated protests. I actually sort of hoped that Darryl would pull out one of those surprise natural 20s he’s so good at, but no luck. The javelin bounces off the rock face. “Well now I know not to try doing it again!” he beams, while Trev facepalms so hard he almost breaks his nose.

One of the bugbears manages to hit Droop with a javelin, which drops him to 1 HP. Droop then fails the Wisdom saving throw I request that he makes, resulting in him firing off a panicked three-charge blast from his wand (which vapourises the bugbear) and fleeing back down the tunnel.

Magic missile and cowardice. It’s like Mouse never left!

Loki actually finally gets a use out of his second storey work ability, scrambling up the ladder in record time (ganking the bugbear that Pyke is fighting as he passes). Grimdark also clambers back up onto the ridge. Meanwhile his spiritual weapon continues being fucking OP as shit for a goddamn 2nd-level spell.

One of the bugbears grabs Helga as a meat-shield.

“Surrender, or I smash ‘er ‘ead in!”
“I don’t negotiate with *sunglasses* bear-orists.”

Loki goes in to attack, but I impose disadvantage, fluffing his miss as him being unable to hit the bugbear without also stabbing Helga. The bugbear follows through with his threat and throws Helga off the cliff; thankfully Pyke manages to cushion her fall slightly, but she’s hurt bad and dying.

The fight’s over fairly quickly after that; Loki, Grimdark, and the ever-present spiritual weapon deal with the last two ‘bears, but not before taking some hard knocks; bugbears hit hard, after all. To think, there was a time when just one gave them trouble… Meanwhile, Pyke, with literally nothing else to do, stabilises Helga.

Droop returns, and the group spend some time healing. Helga has a broken arm from her fall, but I rule that a cure wounds from Grimdark would be enough to heal that. Loki finds a set of keys on one of the bugbears, and is obviously eager to find out what they unlock. He also takes another bugbear ear. Can never have enough ears for your creepy ear-necklace, that’s what I say.

They go exploring a bit, taking the north-east path and finding the namesake of Wave Echo Cave, a massive cavern where waves of water boom and crash against the rocks. Very pretty, but not much else. They follow the tunnel round, and essentially go round in a big circle before arriving back at the ridge (like I said, I tweaked this map somewhat). They head north and find an old hall which seems to be a place of worship for Generic Dwarf Mining God Number 54. There’s bedrolls and cook fires set out, so they’ve found where the bugbears are camping out.

They notice a door at the far end of the room, and find it locked. They use the keys they got from the bugbears and find that it’s the private quarters of the priest who no doubt maintained the shrine. Inside, they find an unconscious young dwarf; It’s Nundro, the youngest (and sole surviving) of the Rockseeker brothers. He’s malnourished and beat up, but alive. The Black Spider has been interrogating him, but would you believe that he knows nothing useful?


Regardless, Grimdark is just happy that at least one of his cousins is safe. They can’t risk sending Nundro back through the mine alone, so they get him to come with them, giving him a javelin looted from a dead bugbear, and a dagger. They tell Droop to keep an eye out for him. I’m sure that’ll end well.

With Nundro rescued, there’s only one more place for them to go; the actual Forge of Spells itself! They head down the final corridor, and come out into a big hall with a central row of pillars. At the far end of the room, two bugbears stand on either side of a flight of steps. At the top of the steps are four elves in black leather armour. The group recognises one of them as Aelya, the elf woman who betrayed them by murdering Sildar, Gundren, and Iarno while they were fighting a dragon and losing a friend in Thundertree.

One of the elves is standing in front of a long, wide basin full of green, mystical flame. As the group enters the room, he turns to face them, and sighs like they’ve shown up to a black-tie dinner party wearing wife-beaters and Crocs.



“Well. It’s about time.”

To be concluded… 

– Gareth

The D&D Pokédex #1

So I’ve had a bit of a thought. I’m officially in love with D&D 5th edition; as soon as we’re finished with the Lost Mine of Phandelver (which should be this coming Monday), I’m planning on starting up a new Epic-6 style Weird West style campaign with new classes, a whole new world, some house rules… the works. I’ll probably end up posting about it.

Thing is, I’m going to need some monsters to populate my next game. I’ve yet to get my grubby mitts on the 5th edition Monster Manual, though I hear it’s an absolute joy of a book. Of course, I’ve always liked making my own monsters for RPG games as well, inspired by creatures from films, books, TV shows, and video games.

There is however one franchise that I have left criminally untapped for potential. You can probably guess what it is from the title.

Eh, close enough.

Yep, the wonderful world of Pokémon! With over 700 of the little monstrosities running around these days, there’s plenty of inspiration there to make new creatures to challenge some intrepid adventurers! Beasts, undead, fey, dragons, constructs… if there’s a creature type, there’s a ‘mon for it.


I’m not going to try and do a D&D conversion for each Pokémon, that would be mental. Also, let’s face it, there are some fairly dull Pokémon that can already be represented by creatures from the Monster Manual; a dire rat for Raticate, a giant eagle for Pidgeotto/Pidgeot, etc. Maybe I’ll try and put a spin on them, but they’re a low priority when we have more fun stuff available.

Oh, and I probably won’t be using the actual Pokémon names; instead they’ll be getting slightly more generic D&D style names.

Anyway, let’s get the first of a long-running series underway with the little Grass-type that simply wasn’t as cool as a cannon-turtle or fire dragon…



Floranuras are stubby, frog-like reptilian creatures that have a symbiotic plant growing out of their body. Young floranuras have a distinctive flower-like bulb, but this bulb eventually blossoms as the creature reaches maturity. Floranuras share many characteristics with plants, and while they are normally docile creatures, they become far more active and aggressive when in sunlight, fending off predators with their lashing tendrils.  

– Scholar Oak, Beasts Most Peculiar

Small beast (reptile), unaligned

Armour Class 13 (+1 Dex, +2 natural armour)

Hit Points 15 (2d10 + 4)

Speed 20 feet

STR 8 (-1)   DEX  12 (+1)   CON 14 (+2)  INT 4 (-3)  WIS 11 (+0)   CHA  4 (-3)

Saving Throws Constitution +4 (in sunlight only; see chlorophyll)

Skills Survival +2

Damage Resistances radiant

Damage Vulnerabilities fire

Senses passive Perception 10

Languages none

Chlorophyll. While in sunlight, a floranura’s walking speed is increased by 10 feet, it gains a bonus on Constitution saves, and its tendril whip attack inflicts an additional 3 damage.

Terrain Affinity (Vegetation). A floranura’s speed is not reduced when it moves through difficult terrain caused by natural vegetation, such as long grass, roots, thorns, etc.


Tackle. Melee Weapon Attack. +1 to hit, reach 5 feet, one creature. Hit: 2 (1d4-1) bludgeoning damage.

Multiattack. The floranura makes two tendril whip attacks.

Tendril Whip. Melee Weapon Attack. +3 to hit, reach 10 feet, one creature. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage, or 8 (1d6+5) slashing damage if in sunlight (see chlorophyll).


Stun Spore (Recharge 5-6). When an attacker hits the floranura with a melee attack, and the attacker is within 5 feet, the floranura can release a cloud of disorientating spores. The attacker must pass a DC 12 Constitution saving throw; if it fails, it is stunned until the start of its next turn. Creatures that can’t be poisoned automatically pass the saving throw.




No Pain(t), No Gain, Part 1

It’s been ages since I’ve sat down and done any model painting, and it’s not for lack of stuff; I have a whole backlog of plastic and metal dudes who have yet to even feel the sweet aerosol kiss of a black spraypaint undercoat. Well, I’ve made a resolution to start getting stuff painted, even if it’s only spending ten or fifteen minutes an evening.

So armed with new brushes and a set of GW paints, I woke up early on Saturday, switched on 4Music’s Top 40, and had a pretty chilled and relaxing few hours painting. The very WIP results are as follows…



Chaos Helbrute for a planned/aborted Tzeentch warband. Fuckin’ love silver and blue. I was going to do a heavy blue wash on the silver to make it look all metallic blue and arcane-y, but the blue wash I picked up from GW is like slightly tinted rat piss and it barely left a mark. Bleh.



Finally painting up my Khador ‘jacks from that starter set I got years ago. My Khador are going to go with a drab olive scheme, because I’m in love with the idea of making them look like actual real-life military machines. I’ve also always liked the “default” paint scheme that Privateer Press used for the Kodiak, another Khador ‘jack.



I’ve made the mistake of painting up the way more interesting ‘jacks first, rather than leave them as a treat after completing the fairly boring Man-o’-War Shocktroopers. As for my warcaster, well I need to hurry up and actually order a model of my favourite psychopath…



I like to name my ‘jacks. This Juggernaut will be Iron Valour, and the Destroyer Fist of Zhaikev. Eventually, I’d like to get a Decimator – a Juggernaut-chassis variant with a giant buzzsaw and revolver-cannon – but that can wait for now; I’ve got more than enough Warmachine stuff to paint before I start buying new stuff!



Some Chaos Cultists. I’m currently considering buying Deadzone, and I’m wondering if I can use these guys as an alternative to the Plague, or maybe even house rule them in as a new faction, some kind of local militia gone bad. I went for a rather subdued, “military” style paint scheme of olives, tans, khakis, browns, etc, so as not to show their affiliation with any Chaos God in particular; ironically this just makes them look like Nurgle cultists. Damn it.



I made the smallest of small starts on these Super Dungeon Explore! heroes, intending to resurrect the HeroQuest 2014 project I’ve left on the sidelines. These models are a pain in the arse; their deformed proportions mean that they have tiny bodies, utterly cluttered with details, which is a nightmare for a below-average painter like me. Also, big anime eyes; I normally try to get away without  doing eyes; I usually slap on a black ink wash and hope for the best. But on these guys… eesh.

More updates to come as I continue to tackle the stockpile of unpainted little dudes!