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  • giorgis 12:43 am on March 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery Pt3 

    I already have several fortification pieces and a few trees, but what I need is something residential.
    My first attempt was with air-dry clay and was an utter failure. I placed the air-dry clay on a carton with glue, and it collapsed under the moisture and weight of the clay. A fellow modeler suggested I use speckle instead.
    Now, my main problem is the roof. The scale I aim for is 15mm, so there’s a high risk any tiles I design will be too large compared to my minis. The best option I found, was the one described in the video by TheTerrainTutor Miniature Tile, Slate & Wooden Shingle Roofing. I went ahead with the carton option, but I only cut the tile corners on one side not both, since I considered that too much for 15mm.

    What I used

    • Thin carton
    • White glue
    • Acrylic putty
    • Acrylic paint
    • Thin kidcraft wood


    This time I went ahead and measured everything with a ruler. I even gave some room for the places of the house where I would need connections. It’s a 30mmX50mm with a 15mm tall roof, all cut out from a single piece. I glued it together with white glue, and used some tape on the inside to keep it together while the glue sets.

    First side
    Then I went ahead and cut out the roof tile series as described in the video, and attached them to the roof using white glue.

    I finished the other side, and also added small Λ tiles to cover the top. At the time I wasn’t sure I should have done this, but I enjoyed the final result.

    Painted Roof
    I gave a couple coats of paint (1/3 vermillon + 2/3 raw umber) for the tiles. Here I was worried because I noticed that wherever the white glue had seeped through to the surface, the paint didn’t stick. I hope that with more coats, washes and drybrushing, this won’t be evident in the end.

    Painted house
    Next, I considered my options. I wanted some wooden beams, window shutters and a door. So I measured some kidcraft wooden sticks and cut them to the required sizes. I should have done it in the initial step of blueprinting, but no harm done yet. I painted the sticks with raw umber, and then let them dry overnight. Once dry, I went ahead and prepared a colored speckle (acrylic putty + yellow ochre + glue) and put it on the walls. While still wet, I put the wooden parts in place to set.
    Here I had some warping, which I countered immediately by adding some double-sided sticky tape on the inside part and adding a wooden stick. This gave it the necessary structural strength to remain straight. Unfortunately I had not done this on the shorter walls, so these are a tad bit warped.

    Finished house
    I did a second pass of colored speckle in some areas where I had some gaps.
    I saw in another video that washes should be added after drybrushing. So I went ahead and did that even though it didn’t sit right with me. I drybrushed the wooden parts, the walls and the roof, and then did a wash on each. I had to return a couple times and fix a few things but overall it went okay.
    While drybrushing the roof, I went in a fixed direction from top to bottom to give a highlight. I am quite happy with the end result. Never thought it would take me two days to build such a small house.

    Lessons learned

    1. Measuring properly helped me have a proper substructure for the house. Everything else fell in place afterwards.
    2. The colored speckle is an excellent choice to wall up carton.
    3. The wooden sticks add structural integrity. Next time I will put them in all internal sides of the building.
  • giorgis 11:28 pm on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery Pt2 

    Unfortunately I haven’t had much progress in solo endeavors the past days due to a combination of events and the overall grim situation.
    I focused on scenery instead (can’t work on my minis since I’m still waiting for some primers and varnishes).

    What I used

    • Repurposed foam
    • Thin wire
    • White glue
    • Acrylic putty
    • Acrylic paint
    • Soldering iron
    • Solder
    • Thin kidcraft wood


    So the project was a gatehouse. To that end. I repurposed packaging foam, not the best choice since it was flexible and wouldn’t let paint stick on it. More on that later.

    So I cut out a piece of foam to form the gate opening and cut out a few pieces of thin wire, and thrusted them in the foam to form a portcullis. I also used two different pieces of black foam from a different package to set up two towers on either side of the gate.

    Next, I shaped-cut a separate foam piece to form battlements above the gate and speckled and glued the two towers in place. I also speckled the entire gatehouse to ensure paint would stick.

    The towers wouldn’t stick in place, so I cut out a few wire pieces and stuck them at an angle so as to hold the different foam pieces in place while the glue sets. I also cut out battlements at the towers.
    To finalize the portcullis, I went above and beyond and soldered the wires, making a sturdy structure.
    Furthermore, I noticed that the speckle would chip and fall the more I handled the piece.

    First coat
    I began a first coat of paint, and realized that the black foam would suck the paint, so I went ahead afterwards and speckled the towers as well. Now my troubles with painting begin. Wherever speckle hasn’t reached (some creases), paint won’t set. The transparent foam material is completely resistant.
    On a good note, the paint seemed to strengthen the putty and it wouldn’t chip, increasing the overall toughness of the piece.

    Second coat
    Nevertheless I persisted. So I passed two gray coats mixed with some glue and water in an attempt to get it to stick.
    I then speckled places where there were gaps evident, and after the putty was dry, I painted them over again. During that process, while handling the piece, some pieces of speckle would chip due to the soft foam underneath, revealing the transparent foam. Again, I speckled and painted with a medium gray.

    I went ahead and black washed the entire thing. For the black wash I used black paint, lots of water and a drop of detergent to aid with the flow. Had to do a few washes especially for the deep cracks, where there were foam holes. Finally, after this was dry, I drybrushed with a mixture of yellow ochre and gray.

    I wanted to add a wooden gate to the portcullis, and went ahead with an open gate, because I wanted the portcullis to be visible. I used kid crafts wooden pieces (like tiny sticks and tiny icecream sticks) which I cut out to shape, glued and painted them a raw umber color. I then went ahead and did something which I should have done in the first place. I mixed the acrylic putty with black paint to get gray putty. I also added a drop of white glue to the mix and used this gray putty to stick the gate directly to the gatehouse without bothering to re-paint over it afterwards.


    Lessons learned

    1. The foam was largely unsuitable. Re-purposing material must be done carefully. I ended up wasting a lot of putty and paint to do the piece, and I’m concerned about its integrity.
    2. Soldering the wires was a great way to have a sturdy piece. Much better than any glue. Will have it in mind for the future for any wire metalworks.
    3. Mixing acrylic putty with paint is an excellent way to have a speckle undercoat without the need to add a paint layer. It also has the added bonus of being the same color, and with glue it can be used to attach materials on top. If I had used this technique in the beginning I would have saved me a lot of white paint used to make the gray undercoat.
  • giorgis 4:02 pm on March 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery 

    With the recent events, I’ve found the need to do something relaxing for the mind.
    I had started working on a few items of scenery. I’m not skilled at this, so I started with a few items and cheap consumables.
    I think that proper scenery really helps with immersion and that’s an important part of the solo experience.

    What I used

    • Air dry clay
    • Plaster
    • Acrylic paints
    • White glue
    • Thin wire
    • Thin kidcraft wood
    • Green hard sponge
    • Tube of toilet paper
    • Furniture pads
    • Various assortment of tools

    The trees

    For the tree trunk I took three pieces of wire and twisted them tightly using two pairs of pliers. On purpose, I left the bottom a bit untwisted to give them roots and base them, and a lot more room on top, untwisted for the branches.
    The wire I used had a green plastic coating, which makes it useable as is if you don’t want to bother yourself further and also helps with the branches. The plastic makes it a bit more difficult to get the clay stuck on it afterwards.

    For the foliage I used common kitchen hard green sponge. It’s like the hard part of regular sponges, but comes sold separately.
    I had seen a video here on how to make the foliage.
    I attached it to my wire armature by piercing through each piece of foliage and then twisting the wire to hold it.

    tree with foliage

    I then used furniture pads and stuck them to the bottom of the trees to base them. That’s an optional step, but I believe it will help with the overall durability of the piece if you decide to go ahead and add a clay trunk.

    I then shaped air dry clay around the trunk and roots. I didn’t add any of it to the branches as I found the risk of contaminating the foliage too high. I sculpted a few nooks here and there on the clay to give it a bark feel.
    I also spread a thin layer of plaster on the part of the pad that was left uncovered to make sure it will be paintable afterwards.

    trees with clay

    I then did a first hand of paint to it, using a brown base for the trunk and a sand-grey base for the bottom.

    trees first hand painted

    For the finished, I did a second hand of paint (hadn’t used primer). And dry brushed the trunks and roots with a brown-green color.

    The Tower

    For the armature I used toilet paper carton tube.
    I measured the dimensions I needed (a rectangle of 2πr * h) and spread my air dry clay onto a surface.
    I textured the surface by hand using a long flat stick and a flat screwdriver to make the bricks/blocks. Then carefully I removed the clay from the surface and applied it to the tube which I first had dampened first to make it stick, as suggested in the video here.

    Textured tower

    I didn’t do a very fine job and had many gaps and crooked look. I left it to dry at least 48hours under a damp towel as suggested in the video above, to avoid the formation of cracks, and it worked.
    After it dried out I covered some severe gaps with acrylic plaster.

    Now, I wanted a roof and some battlements.
    For the roof I took a round furniture pad, which seemed to fit exactly right into the tube. For additional strength I poured white glue all around its contact points, first at the top and after it dried, at the bottom. After this dried too I cut out a disc of air dry clay which I textured with little tiles. For texturing I used small heat sinks but any tool could be used.
    For the battlements and the inner wall I again measured the surface needed and textured bricks and removed the unnecessary parts afterwards with a spatula to shape the battlements.

    Tower with roof and battlements

    For the gate I cut out 4 pieces of wood, moistened and added a bit of white glue and mounted them on air dry clay. I cut out the unnecessary parts of the clay while moist. I then moistened the surface of the tower where I wanted the gate and squeezed it carefully there. I plastered the perimeter and mounted some clay bricks from a failed wall attempt. I moistened and put a bit of white glue on the bricks before mounting them. I then proceeded to plaster any gaps.

    tower with gate

    Once that dried too, I painted a first hand with dark grey acrylic paint. I added a tad bit of white glue to the paint along with water to make it stick and fall into the gaps.

    tower first hand paint

    I then passed a second hand. Since my tower was crooked and had several gaps, even after plastering, there were places where the paint couldn’t get in. I solved this problem by making a wash of watered down paint, where in the water I had added a drop of dishwasher soap first. It flowed nicely into every last bit.

    tower painted

    I finished it off with drybrushing with an ochre-gray color.

    Finished Tower


    My main mistakes were with regards to the tower. I was so eager to set it up that I made no considerations for openings.
    Attaching the gate required a lot of consideration, and if I had planned ahead and cut parts of the carton for battlements they would be more refined and easier to do.
    I also could not add any windows, and that’s a pity because I would love some arrow slits.

  • giorgis 12:57 am on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Over the Ringing Mountains – Ep02 – Dark Sun Scarlet Heroes 

    After some discussions regarding balance (thanks! u/Talmor), I decided to go ahead and upgrade my character at the Dark Sun standard starting Level of 3, increasing Chansa’s hit points, attack bonus and mental attack bonus. As extra traits, I decided to give a second point to Ranger and Halfling Stealth. Also the adventure’s Threat has risen to 3.

    After the experience of the first session, I see that I need to change a bit the narrative approach for this adventure. Scarlet Heroes is more metagaming oriented than my usual playstyle, therefore I will include what I call ‘narrative for the game master’. I will include text as if I was reading a pre-written module. Or to make a better analogy, like in comic magazines, where there is narration describing the setting, which also includes information the protagonist wouldn’t know about.

    Now to the adventure. Chansa has come upon a ruined settlement. Burned to the ground. His halfling curiosity gets the better of him and he will go inside to explore. I need to start interpreting some of the tags that I rolled up during the previous session.

    Q: Is the building’s size fit for halflings?
    A: No
    Q: Is the building’s size fit for larger than humans? (very unlikely)
    A: No

    Ages past, this used to be a bustling city of humanoids. But the Cleansing Wars came. The champions of Rajaat scorched the city to the ground. There were no survivors. The defenders perished, along with the civilians, women and children. Long lost souls still echo in the silent alleys. But maybe not all is as still as it should be.

    Chansa enters the ruins. Some remains of buildings are still standing, but most are reduced to rubble. He notices from the doorways, that the people who lived here must have been taller than him. As he enters one of the intact structures, he feels awe at the height of the ceiling. The light comes from the roof, there seem to be some openings that let it come through, but nothing at the ground level.
    In one corner he notices something that looks like a small, rough edged, altar.

    Q: Are there offerings?
    A: Yes
    Oracular Adjective: Imprisonment.
    I guess it’s a trapped animal. Let’s see if Chansa can identify it. I’ll roll a Wisdom check and add his Ranger trait to the roll.
    Chansa: Check: 9/9: Success

    Chansa comes closer and notices that there is a little golden furry mammal, snared up next to the altar, a Jankx. As it sees Chansa, it tries to escape using its little strength, but it can’t.

    So now I consider my options. There’s little chance Chansa would think twice before killing the Jankx for food. I know from a meta perspective that there may (let the Oracle decide) be repercussions.
    I’ll use the fray die, to see if he kills it right away.
    Chansa: Fray: 5: 1 point of damage. It’s dead.

    Chansa drips saliva from his mouth as he sees the tasty treat. He draws his bone dagger and with a quick and calculated thrust kills the little critter.

    Q: Is there an intervention?
    A: No, but (the failing of a piece of gear either for the hero or an NPC)
    Oracular Adjective: Mistake

    As Chansa kills the creature, it flails around, destroying the small altar, throwing some offerings to the ground, and knocking down a small statue.

    Somewhere further away, a spirit wanders, unbeknownst to it that the altar and its offerings have been disturbed. The soul still cannot accept that its patron deity did nothing to protect its people. Little does it know that the gods never arrived to Athas.

    Chansa will do some thorough searching in the ruins see if he can find anything of interest.
    Chansa: Check: 15/9: Success
    Q: Is there anything of interest?
    A: Yes
    Oracular Adjective: Courage, Treachery

    Chansa looks around. He can’t find anything of value. Most of the things he finds are either half burned to ashes or decayed from the relentless time.
    What strikes him as odd, though is a huge wall painting he comes across. It reminds him some cave paintings he saw among the most feral of his people. There is not much skill or color, but the image is clear. It depicts a massive army outside the walls of a city. Chansa can see that the city has two large statues very much similar to the ones he saw right oustide, so he realizes it’s the story of this city. The people who live inside don’t remind him of any race he might know of. They are muscular, hairy, with tusks on their pig like face. They seem really ugly, Chansa considers that they wouldn’t taste good either.
    Continuing to the right of the tapestry, he sees that a small side gate of the city walls was opened for the besiegers. ‘Treachery’ he thinks. That’s the only way the courageous defenders could have lost.
    He embraces the picture, trying to commit it to his memory. This cultural experience was of greater value to the little halfling than a bronze sword to a Tyrian gladiator. Chansa feels grateful and continues to his trip to Tyr.

    At night, Chansa will cook to eat the Jankx. But there are two associated risks.
    1. The position of the poison sacks.
    2. The chance of a nearby Jankx herd that will be enraged at the smell.
    Chansa: Prepare Jankx meat: Check: 10/10: Success
    Q: Are there any nearby Jankx?
    A: Yes, but, not too many of them. 2d6: 6 Jankx.

    As night falls in the mountains, Chansa, slowly removes the poison sacks from the underside of each limb near the paw. He skins it and takes the fur, and then proceeds to cook it for the night.
    As the smell of the cooked Jankx fills the air, and Chansa has started filling his belly, he hears a quick trek, and turning around he sees half a dozen of the little furry creatures charging at him.

    Distance: 120′.
    Combat Round 1:
    Chansa throws a Javelin: 31/20: Success: 7: 2 Points of damage. 1 Jankx dead.
    Jankx come 30′ closer.
    Combat Round 2:
    Chansa throws a second Javelin: 21/20: Success: 3: 1 Point of damage. 1 Jankx dead.
    Jankx come 30′ closer.
    Combat Round 3:
    Chansa readies his Javelin for melee combat.
    Jankx come 30′ closer.
    Combat Round 4:
    Chansa moves 30′ closer and attacks: 20/20: Success: 5: 1 Point of damage. Fray die: 5: 1 Point of damage. 2 Jankx dead.
    Jankx5 attacks Chansa: 10/20: Miss
    Jankx6 attacks Chansa: 23: Hit: Poison: 14/10: Success
    Combat Round 5:
    Chansa attacks: 14/20: Miss. Fray die: 5: 1 Point of damage. 1 Jankx dead.
    Jankx6 attacks Chansa: 19/20: Miss
    Combat Round 6:
    Chansa attacks: 24/20: Hit: 7: 2 Points of damage. 1 Jankx dead.

    He aims under the moonlight, and launches his javelin, hitting a Jankx straight to the head, killing it instantly. Quickly, he draws a second javelin and pierces another one through its belly. As he draws his third and last Javelin, he decides not to launch it and sets it up, holding his shield on the other hand as the creatures charge at him.
    Carefully timing his strike, he thrusts forward as the Jankx charge and with a single strike, he pierces through two of them. He opens up his flank more than he should though, and one of the furred mammals sticks a spur into his leg. He feels the rush of poison, but his strong constitution is enough to fend it off.
    He stabs the Jankx on the ribs, killing it, and blocking the last one with his shield, before returning quickly to finish it off.
    He has enough food to last him for more than a week now.

    Day 8

    Back to the wilderness adventure now. So Chansa is lost, so next move is random. I will roll 1d6 to find the hex direction he will follow. He heads SW instead of E.
    Encounters: No encounter.
    Events: No event. Event threshold increases by +1 to 2.
    Features: No feature. Feature threshold increases by +1 to 2.
    Since Chansa is no longer in the Forest. I will be rolling a check to see if he finds water. If he stops finding water, it will start dwindling. He has a waterskin for 3 days worth of water.
    Chansa: Check: 12/9: Success

    Lost in the mountains, Chansa spends the entire day trying to track his path to the east. Each route he takes is a dead end. In the end, as night has fallen he feels as if he has traveled further away from his goal. Maybe the next day he will be able to get back on track.

    Day 9

    Back on track. He heads E.
    Encounters: No encounter.
    Events: No event. Event threshold increases by +1 to 3.
    Features: Dungeon!
    Dungeon: Temple: Heretic Hideout: 7 Locations: Rebels: Threat 3
    What a great chance to try out the Dungeon Adventure feature of Scarlet Heroes! I love how the different adventure styles mix and match.
    So, Athas has no temples, priest worship or such. But since this is a heretic hideout this doesn’t mean there can’t be a cult that worships elementals. And since they’re heretics, I will have them worship paraelementals! I lean towards magma.

    Chansa goes into a chasm heading east, as this is the only passage heading to his intended direction. He avoids the unstable rocks and sliding mud and dirt and continues onward as the chasm slowly narrows down. Finally, he reaches a dead end. The only way forward seems to be a cave in front of him. Red and yellow symbols on each side of the cave, warn Chansa about the possible existence of inhabitants inside.

    Turn 1:
    Room 1:
    Meditation Room
    Encounter: No encounter
    Treasure: No treasure
    Hazard: No hazard
    Feature: No feature
    Wandering monster check: Encounter: 7 HD worth of minions (armed acolytes) and a 3HD elite (temple champion)
    Purpose: Cleaning their home from filth
    Attitude: Bloodthirsty, spoiling for a fight
    Condition: They’ve been hard-pressed lately, morale lowered by 1
    Allegiance: Neutral who may or may not cooperate with the rulers
    Combat style: Blood-crazed; Never checks morale against a wounded foe
    Their first round of combat: All-out attack, charging in heedlessly

    As he enters the cave, he notices huge stalagmites and stalactites and warmth emanating from the ground. This place feels hotter than the outside. With careful attention, Chansa makes out some stalagmites that have been smoothened up and cut off to resemble a place someone can sit on. They’re pretty much for halfling size.
    Heavy footsteps echo from down the corridor, and he listens closely, a bass voice speaking in the trade tongue. “Clean it up! Magma is our element not dirt!”
    Chansa hasn’t had time to hide, when he comes across 8 stout dwarves. As they see him their leader, wearing a long red cloak shouts. “We have an intruder! Kill him!”

    Combat Round 1:
    Chansa moves 30′ and attacks the leader: 13/20: Miss
    Fray die: 4: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Elite attacks: 22/20: Hits: 4: 1 point of damage.
    Minions: 1 Hit: 3: 1 point of damage.

    Combat Round 2:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 26/20: Hit: 5: 1 point of damage
    Fray die: 2: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Elite attacks: 25/20: Hits: 9: 2 points of damage.
    Minions: 3 Hits: 4,2,2: 3 points of damage

    Combat Round 3:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 13/20: Miss
    Fray die: 2: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Elite attacks: 14/20: Miss
    Minions: 2 Hits: 2,4: 2 points of damage

    Combat Round 4:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 19/20: Miss
    Fray die: 2: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Elite attacks: Nat 1: Miss
    Minions: 0 Hits

    Combat Round 5:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 25/20: Hit: 4: 1 point of damage
    Fray die: 2: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Elite attacks: 24/20: Hit: 4: 1 point of damage
    Minions: 0 Hits

    Combat Round 6:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 17/20: Miss
    Fray die: 2: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Elite attacks: Nat 1: Miss
    Minion: Miss

    Combat Round 7:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 25/20: Hit: 3: 1 point of damage. He dies.
    Fray die: 5: 1 point of damage, last minion dies

    Combat Round 8:
    Chansa attacks the leader: 24/20: Hit: 7: 2 points of damage: leader is dead

    Chansa recovers 2 hit points.

    In a savage outnumbered fight, Chansa singles out the leader as his target, but not letting his guard down against his minions. The stout dwarf leader yields a large two handed club made of obsidian, and crushes it down on Chansa, while on the side, the halfling exchanges blows with the other dwarves who flank him. One by one, the minions drop down dead, until only Chansa and the dwarf leader remain standing, wounded, bleeding.
    With a savage, furious strike, the halfling stabs the dwarf, right on his heart, and as he removes the impaled spear, the dwarf drops, blood spilling from his mouth, dead.

    A few things about the combat. I’ve been running it all in theater of the mind. With scarlet heroes, its manageable. I should have the dwarf elite’s weapon break down on this Nat 1 (and twice!), which would be more in line with Dark Sun. Also on my next fight with humanoids, I’m going to be using the hit locations table from Player’s Option: Combat and Tactics, using the initial damage roll as the location counter.

    Turn 2:
    Room 2: SE
    Encounter: encounter found: 7 Hit dice worth of foes in minions
    Treasure: no treasure
    Hazards: no hazards
    Features: no features
    Purpose: Seeking privacy for an assignation
    Attitude: Predacious, willing to take advantage of those weaker
    Condition: Half of them are wounded, losing half their hit dice

    Chansa continues down the corridor, and he comes across, seven more crazed dwarves. But three of them are wounded, laying on their side, the others tending to their wounds. They draw their obsidian clubs. “It’s only one. And he’s wounded. We can sacrifice him! Get him!”

    Combat Round 1:
    Chansa attacks a minion: 30/20: Hit: 6: 2 points of damage: 2 minions die
    Fray die: 4: 1 point of damage, 1 minion dies
    Minion: Miss

    Combat Round 2:
    Chansa attacks a minion: 28/20: Hit: 4: 1 point of damage: 1 minion dies
    Chansa kills the wounded dwarves

    In an effortless show of skill, Chansa, quickly dispatches all of the dwarf cultists. Their blood smeared around in the room. Finding nothing other of value, he continues further deep into the temple.

    Wandering monster check: no wandering monster

    Turn 3:
    Room 3: W
    Pilgrim quarters
    Encounter: no encounter
    Treasure: no treasure
    Hazards: no hazards
    Features: feature: unusual piece of movable furniture: hindering: snares the PC here for 1 turn: obscenely defaced furniture

    Wandering monster check (x2): no wandering monster

    Chansa comes across a large room, with several hard stone beds, sporting a soft mattress made of sand. As he heads to end of the room, there is a huge large cabinet. It used to have some markings, but they have been scratched off, and Chansa can’t make out what it used to have. The cabinet blocks his path further, and he has to use all his little halfling strength to push it aside and squeeze through the opening.

    Turn 4:
    Room 4: NW
    Ritual chamber
    Encounter: encounter found: 7 Hit Dice worth of minions and elites.
    Treasure: no treasure
    Hazards: no hazards
    Features: feature found: A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site: Negotiate with the leader of the dungeon

    Chansa creeps slowly further into the temple. The cave system going further into the mountain and the heat growing stronger and stronger.
    “It’s here! It has been summoned! Our prayers have been answered! Praise Magma that devours everything! Praise the true element of Athas!” From hiding, Chansa catches a glimpse of another dwarf in red cloak, accompanied by 4 more acolytes, in a five star circle around a pit.
    Down in the pit there is the source of the exhausting heat. The pit is filled with lava and magma. As he watches entranced, he notices that the magma moves and takes shape. A huge beastly shape slowly materializes in front of him.
    He recalls that there were clerics of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water among the shamans of his people, but he never knew about magma worship. What an amazing find.

    Now let’s see if Chansa remains hidden.
    Chansa: Stealth Check: 11/9: Success
    He can continue watching without risk of detection.
    Now, that’s a paraelemental beast. Will it attack the cultitsts (failed negotiation) or will it join them?
    Q: Does the paraelemental magma beast attack the cultists?
    A: No, but, Sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event.
    Let’s see what the random event is.
    Oracular adjectives: Thoughtlessness, Aging
    Something happens that will help the cultists calm the paraelemental beast.
    An old cleric arrives at the scene. He could be the major boss.
    Q: Is the cleric the leader of the dungeon?
    A: Yes, but The failure of a piece of gear, either for the hero or an NPC.

    The magma beast thrashes around wildly. “Call Suthra! Quickly, if we can’t appease the beast it will kill us all!” The leader in the red cloak calls to one of the acolytes, and he rushes, out of the room, returning quickly, with an old dwarf, carrying a black ashen staff.
    He raises his hands to the air and falls on his knees, bowing to the beast. The heat in the room pulsates wildly, as the beast slowly stops thrashing around.
    As the cleric does so, his staff, breaks in two from the energies emanating in the room.
    Chansa knows that this is his chance. If he disrupts the cleric’s concentration, maybe the beast will attack them all.

    Surprise Round:
    Chansa throws javelin to Suthra: 28: Hit: Damage: 4: 1 point of damage. The cleric’s concentration is disrupted.

    Combat Round 1:
    Q: Does the paraelemental beast attack the nearest cultist? (likely)
    A: Yes, but The failure of a piece of gear, either for the hero or an NPC. Huh. That doesn’t make sense. The paralemental beast will be rolling a morale check each round to see if it decides to returns to its plane.
    Chansa throws another javelin to Suthra: 24/20: Hit: 8: 2 points of damage.
    Paraelemental beast, magma: Morale: 8/9: Success
    Paraelemental beast attacks minions: Miss, Miss
    Minions, Elite move 30′ towards Chansa.
    Suthra tries to concentrate again to gain control of the Beast.

    Combat Round 2:
    Chansa will throw his last javelin to Suthra and use his dagger in close combat: 19/20: Miss
    Fray die: 5: 1 point of damage. 1 Cultist dies.
    Elite: Miss
    Minions: Miss, Miss, Miss
    Paralemental beast, magma: Morale: 7/9: Success
    Q: Does the paraelemental beast attack the elite or the cleric?
    A: The cleric
    Paraelemental beast: attack cleric: Hit, Miss: Damage: 7: 2 points of damage
    Suthra: Check: 18/17: Success: He gains control of the paralemental beast

    Combat Round 3:
    Chansa attacks the minions: 30/20: Hit: 8: 2 points of damage. 2 minions die.
    Fray die: 6: 2 points of damage to elite
    Elite: Miss
    Paraelemental beast, magma: launches into the air and moves 30′ towards Chansa
    Suthra: maintain concentration

    Combat Round 4:
    Q: Can Chansa evade the magma beast and reach the cleric?
    A: No
    Chansa fray die and psionic attack at Suthra: 4: 1 point of damage to elite: elite dies.
    Psionic attack: failure
    Paraelemental beast, magma: shoots lava on Chansa: Damage: 15: 4 points of damage. Save vs Spell: 16/17: Failure.

    Combat Round 4:
    Chansa move towards cleric, even if it puts him in the path of the magma beast and psionic attack at Suthra: Hit: 2: 1 point of mental damage: the cleric loses concentration!
    Q: Does the paraelemental beast attack the cleric? (very likely, they attack whoever looks like their summoner)
    Paraelemental beast, magma: attacks Cleric: Hit, Hit: 15, 7: 6 points of damage. The cleric dies. The beast is free to return to its plane.
    Chansa bandages himself of 2 hit points damage.

    As the paraelemental cleric tries to dominate his presence over the beast of magma, an unexpected javelin, hits him right on the left arm. Then another, pierces his shoulder. The cleric loses concentration, and the cultists quickly identify Chansa as the perpetrator and charge after him. The magma beast furious and unshackled, thrashes wildly at two cultists, but fails to hit them as they have already moved away. Chansa throws a third javelin to Suthra, but it fails to meet its target.
    With his long bone bladed dagger on his right hand and his thick hide shield on the other, Chansa is locked in melee combat with the dwarves. Without much effort, he kills them, as the magma beast turns on its summoner. It burns down on the already wounded cleric, who in a last effort to maintain control, calls out with both his hands, in a gesture that seems to calm down the beast, which in turn, switches direction towards Chansa. It jumps out of the laval pit, as Chansa kills the red-cloaked leader of the cultists. Under the command of the cleric, it shoots a bolt of lava towards Chansa, which hits him, searing his flesh.
    The little halfling sees that it can’t get to the Cleric without going through the magma beast. Chansa then focuses on his inner thoughts, and with his mind he visualizes a whip with which he lashes at the priest. His first attempt fails blatantly, but during the second, he feels he has broken through Suthra’s defenses. His mind open, he loses concentration on the beast.
    The creature quickly turns around and bashes at his summoner, drowning him under two magma fists.

    Session Background

    This session lasted a lot longer than I expected, with the dungeon and all, so I had to cut it in the middle of the adventuring. I’ll continue with the last 3 locations in the next session.
    So I’m trying to stay true to the Scarlet Heroes mechanics as much as possible. Hence I’m missing some solo mechanics, like Interventions, False Presuppositions and the ‘And’ oracle results.
    As in the first session, I really enjoy the mechanics of Scarlet Heroes, though I must admit that at times it felt a tad bit *too boardgamey**. On the other hand, it’s spiritual ancestor, D&D is one of the most boardgamey RPGs, so that’s to be expected.
    I found some results to be too disconcerted. I mean, okay, I found a dungeon during wilderness exploration. Why, should my character go inside? I mean, it’s okay if a dungeon is the final goal, but when it’s just an obstacle, I’m missing the reason. I try to think of my protagonists as rational beings, and not MMORPG style adventures who go on quests that have no meaning.
    Inherent halfling curiosity saved the day.
    Regarding the last encounter with the paraelemental beast I find that the whole encounter was a tad bit too harsh. Therefore I did some on-the-fly rulings regarding the concentration aspect of the summoned creature, and I must say it worked quite well.
    I didn’t need a full-on psionic combat according to those rulings. Just one successful attack with at least 1 point of damage.
    Overall, I really liked the session and looking forward to finalizing the dungeon, reaching Tyr and running an Urban Adventure there, so that I have fulfilled the Scarlet Heroes adventure types.

  • giorgis 9:13 pm on March 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Savages of the Forest Ridge – Ep01 – Dark Sun Scarlet Heroes 

    I’m burning out on my A monster’s bounty campaign, so I am embracing a switch to something traditional yet unique.
    I’ve recently acquired Scarlet Heroes a solo GM & GM-less game system that is fully compatible with D&D. After a quick read I knew what I wanted to do. I headed back to my basement and recovered my Dark Sun 2ed revised boxed set
    I will create a Dark Sun character and run them with Scarlet Heroes.

    Name Chansa
    Race Halfling
    Class Fighter
    Height 38”
    Weight 63 pounds
    Age 32 yo
    STR 10
    DEX 17
    CON 15
    INT 10
    WIS 14
    CHA 10
    Traits ranger, ESP, E-whip, halfling stealth, halfling culture
    Goal Explore halfling past
    Weapons 3 obsidian-tipped javelins
    Armor scale armor, thick hide shield
    Supplies 5 days rations, waterskin
    Clothing fur pants, sandals

    I haven’t detailed all the character stats on purpose. Nevertheless I would like to state a few things on converting Dark Sun to Scarlet Heroes.
    1. I will roll on the wild talents and use the power in place of a trait. I rolled ESP for Chansa.
    2. I will use the MTHAC0/MAC concept. Using Mental Attack Bonus instead of MTHAC0, with a +1 bonus per two levels for wild talents.
    3. I will not use different mental defenses for each mental attack. Too much work.
    4. Each mental attack will cost one trait.
    5. I will use the 3-18 stats range instead of 5-20. Scarlet Heroes is already balanced heavily for one character.
    6. Likewise I will start at level 1 instead of 3. Hope this doesn’t come to bite me later.

    I’m starting a Wildnerness Adventure in the Forest Ridge

    Day 1

    Hex 1:
    encounter roll: no encounter
    event roll: yes: terrain event: ambush by an encounter in the trees
    I’ll be rolling in the dark sun random encounter tables: Ettercap
    I take out the Monstrous Manual, and read the relative text on ettercaps. It’s going to be a tough encounter. Smart humanoids that create elaborate web traps and have a poisonous bite. They ambush and attack to feed. Such a perfect fit for a dark sun ambush encounter in the forest ridge. Thankfully they’re solitary and rarely travel in pairs.
    Since its an ambush encounter I decide that the ettercap will have created a web trap.
    Chansa must make a Saving Throw or be caught in it.
    Chansa: Saving Throw (wisdom, ranger): 11/10: Success!
    Now I made a mistake and hadn’t read the relative text about encounter distance in wilderness encounters, and I rolled on the ‘How Far Away’ table, and got ‘A Few Rooms Away.’ So I interpreted it as 60′ distance. Next time I’ll be more careful.

    Chansa, the moon-strider, has left his village. He still considers the words of the strangers. Tall humanoids that had entered their territory. They were looking for ancient halfling artifacts. They offered a relic, a stone to the shaman with ancient symbols, in an attempt to save their lives. Nevertheless they made a good tasty meal for the entire village.
    Chansa believes they were not lying, and set off to find their homelands, past the Ringing mountains. They came from a city to the east called Tyr.
    He heads eastwards, exploring the forest for any clues in the way.
    As he treks under the thick canopy of the forest something catches his attention. He almost fell right into a thick sticky vine. He takes a good close look at it and realizes its not a vine, but a webbing. If he even touched it, it would be really hard for him to set free. He draws one of his obsidian tipped javelins from his shoulder belt and readies his shield.
    He crouched down and stars walking silently with his soft leather sandals, but far in the distance the trapper has already been made aware of the halfling’s presence. A tall humanoid with thin limbs and ugly face is coming towards him. ‘Ettercaps’ Chansa thinks.

    Combat round 1:
    Chansa throw javelin, long range: 15: Miss
    Ettercap closes in 30′
    Combat round 2:
    Chansa throw javelin, short range: Nat 20: Hit: 8: 2 points of damage
    Ettercap (claw/claw/bite): 14/15/12: Miss/Miss/Miss
    Combat round 3:
    Chansa melee attack with javelin: 15: Miss
    Ettercap: (claw/claw/bite): 17/19/20: Miss/Miss/Hit: 6: 2 points of damage. Poison.
    Chansa Saving Throw (constitution): 9/14: Fail
    Chansa Defy Death: 4: 1 point of damage
    Combat round 4:
    Chansa melee attack with javelin: 25: Hit: 5: 1 point of damage
    Ettercap: (claw/claw/bite): 11/12/10: Miss/Miss/Miss
    Combat round 5:
    Chansa melee attack with javelin: 12: Miss
    I decide here to do a morale check for the Ettercap. I tried homebrewing it to use the Monstrous Manual, Elite (13) Morale value into Scarlet Heroes, but it doesn’t work. I’ll have to consider a different conversion rule.
    Ettercap: Morale: 9/13: Stays
    Ettercap (claw/claw/bite): 24/9/19: Hit/Miss/Miss: 3: 1 point of damage
    Combat round 6:
    Chansa melee attack with javelin: 26: Hit: 3: 1 point of damage
    Again I used a wrong morale rule.
    Ettercap: Morale: 10/13: Stays
    Ettercap (claw/claw/bite): 19/17/14: Miss/Miss/Miss
    Combat round 7:
    Chansa attack: 23: Hit: 5: 1 point of damage. The ettercap is dead.

    He aims and launches the first javelin. With a thump it misses and gets lodged into a nearby tree. The ettercap lunges towards him, and he sends another javelin flying, this time, striking true, hitting the creature right on the chest. It lets of a screech, and with fury it charges clawing and biting at Chansa, who ducks and evades all of the creature’s hits.
    Chansa now thrusts in melee with his last javelin, but the ettercap blocks it with its arms and bites the small halfling’s arm. Chansa feels poison running down his arm and with the persistence of his people, he shakes it off, a black necrotic spot a reminder around his wound.
    The two are locked in furious combat, with the halfling evading the bites, and sending two more thrusts into the ugly creature’s belly, but receiving a claw slash at his chest. He blocks the other slash at his side with his shield, sweeps down between the ettercap’s legs and sends a final thrust at the surprised monster’s groin. With a moan, it drops down, dead.

    Chansa will attempt to recover the ettercap’s poison glands: 15/9: Success

    Chansa wastes no time. He jumps at the creature’s head, and with his dagger, he removes the fangs along with the poison glands.

    Chansa also wants to know if he can use any of the meat to recover his rations.
    Chansa: Survival check (Wisdom, Ranger): 10/9: Success
    Q: Is the ettercap meat edible?
    A: Yes, but (a twist in the relationship) Chansa remembers that according to his village’s customs, ettercap meat is supposed to be tainted.

    He considers if he should make a good meal of the creature, but then he remembers his shaman’s teachings. These beasts have tainted meat that has a very ugly taste.
    Then, he takes some time to bandage his arm, and put some healing poultry to the venomous bite.

    Chansa will bandage his wounds recovering 2 hit points.
    Chansa will spend the entire day exploring the area.
    Feature roll: 5: No feature: Feature threshold increase by +1 to 2.
    Chansa gets a full night’s rest, recovering 1 more hit points.

    Chansa further explores the region hoping to find something of interest, but he fails, and ends his day, eating from his supplies and recovering from his wounds.

    Day 2

    Hex 2:
    encounter roll: encounter: behir, seriously?
    time of encounter: night
    encounter distance: 100′
    notice check: Chansa/Behir: 14/5: Chansa wins with over 4 points. I decide not to engage at all.
    event roll: no event. event threshold increases by +1 to 2.
    features roll: no feature. feature threshold increases by +1 to 3.
    Chansa gets a full night’s rest, recovering his last hit point.

    Chansa further continues exploring the area eastwards. By nightfall, something catches his attention. He hears the trample of a dozen legs. His danger sense kicks in, and quickly he climbs atop a tree. Under the light of the stars, his eyes adjust, and in the distance he makes out a gargantuan creature, 40′ long. It’s a reptile so big it could swallow Chansa whole. He knows discretion is the better action, and climbs among the vine trees to avoid engaging with the huge beast. It would have been a great hunt, but he’s not ready for such an engagement.
    He doesn’t find anything else of interest, and will continue his next day further eastward.

    Day 3

    Hex 3:
    encounter roll: no encounter
    event roll: no event. event threshold increases by +1 to 3.
    features roll: no feature. feature threshold increases by +1 to 4.

    Another day he continues eastward. The Ringing Mountains now are so much closer. He’s almost out of the forest and on their foothills. He knows that the next day he will have to spend hunting. He has no idea when he will manage to find abundant prey again.

    Day 4

    Hex 3:
    encounter roll: encounter: plant (dangerous): Choke Creeper
    time of encounter: day
    encounter distance: 250′
    notice check: Chansa: 6/9: Failure

    As Chansa walks stealthily, trying to find prey to hunt, he steps on a thick vine. But something doesn’t feel right. He feels the vine move quickly and rapidly begin to entangle around his leg.

    Combat Round 1:
    Chansa: melee attack vine: 13: miss
    Choke Creeper (vine/vine/vine/vine): 8/14/22/21: Miss/Miss/Hit/Hit
    Combat Round 2:
    Chansa break free: Saving throw (Strength): 15/12: Success
    Chansa: melee attack vine: 17: miss
    Choke Creeper (vine/vine/vine/vine): 21/18/9/10: Hit/Miss/Miss/Miss
    Combat Round 3:
    Chansa break free: Saving throw (Strength): 11/12: Failure
    Chansa: melee attack vine: 12: miss
    Choke Creeper damage: 4: 1 point of damage. Strangulation: no strangulation.
    Choke Creeper (vine/vine/vine): 22/19/17: Hit/Miss/Miss
    Combat Round 4:
    Chansa break free: Saving throw (Strength): 9/12: Failure
    Chansa: melee attack vine: 14: miss
    Choke Creeper damage: 3/4: 2 points of damage. Strangulation: no strangulation.
    Choke Creeper (vine/vine): 21/8: Hit/Miss
    Combat Round 4:
    Chansa break free: Saving throw (Strength): 17/12: Success. He breaks free.
    Chansa runs away.
    Choke Creeper (vine/vine/vine/vine): 21/19/17/12: Hit/Miss/Miss/Miss
    Combat Round 5:
    Chansa break free: Saving throw (Strength): 14/12: Success. He runs away.

    I’m not quite sure I resolved this encounter correctly. It was quite odd using a plant encounter. Afterwards I realize I should have used the fray die for each of the vines separately.
    Chansa recovers 2 hit points.

    Thick vines entangle Chansa. He tries to hit it with his javelin, but his hands aren’t free. Each second that passes the vines twist stronger and stronger, trying to reach for his throat. He manages to break off one arm and tries again and again to hit the vines, but the javelin is too unwieldly to use in such close quarters. Finally he breaks off his feet from the clench of the carnivorous plant. It lashes out another vine, but he manages to push it back, and Chansa runs away as fast as a halfling ranger can.

    Hunting roll: 16/8: Success: 1 day worth of rations. He recover his last hit point.

    His hunting didn’t go very well. Catching only small prey. By the end of the day, the small humanoid sets camp, sheltered under an ancient tree’s hollow trunk.

    Day 5

    Hex 3:
    encounter roll: no encounter
    hunting roll: 12/8: success: 3 days worth of rations.

    Chansa spends an entire day hunting. He manages to catch several little birds, gathering 3 days worth of rations. Content about his supplies, he decides that the next day he will continue on his journey.

    Day 6

    Hex 4:
    encounter roll: no encounter
    event roll: no event. event threshold increases by +1 to 4.
    feature roll: no feature. feature threshold increases by +1 to 5.

    The small physique of the halfling passes unnoticed as Chansa ascends the foothills of the Ringing Mountains. As he was walked a significant distance, he looks behind him. The humid, vivid forest that is his home is far behind him. Will he sleep again under the cool shadows of his trees? Chansa wonders as the dark sun’s scorching rays start to burn his skin. He extends his light cloak to cover this shoulders and his back, and slowly continues on his path.

    Day 7

    Hex 5:
    encounter roll: no encounter
    event roll: event. event threshold reset to 1: get lost next movement roll is random
    feature roll: feature. feature threshold resets to 1: Ruin, Town, built by modern humans, as a common dwelling, ruined due to outside conquest, scorched by fire, with signs or recent use, having wooden palisades, square towers, having hideous gargoyles, no ground windows and colored in hot red hues.
    I had to reroll a few points that didn’t fit at all with the Dark Sun setting, but other than that it worked out pretty well.

    According to Chekhov’s gun concept, there must be a reason for the feature. So I decide that this is an excellent point to initiate a small side adventure.
    Adventure tag: angry ghosts.
    That fits in perfectly.
    I have a few ideas of how this will all play out, but I’m not revealing them yet until I’m certain.

    Chansa keeps on in the winding paths of the ringing mountains. He knows where the east and west is, but the whole region is completely strange to him. The constant light from the sun rays has had him disoriented, when he comes upon a strange sight. Up on top of a hill overseeing the region is what seems to be a settlement.
    From the distance, Chansa notices the red color of the buildings, but as he slowly comes closer he can see burn marks. The wooden palisade around the settlement is burned down. The red color alternating with the black of wood turned to coal and the white of ash.
    The entrance to the town is guarded by two huge statues of hideous winged creatures, ominously overseeing the strangers coming in.
    Chansa feels his heart pounding, but his halfling curiosity overcomes him. What people lived here? what happened to them? Could there be answers to his halfling heritage?

    I decide to stop my session here before proceeding to the exploration of this feature.

    Session Summary

    Notes on Scarlet Heroes: The solo game engine framework it provides may feel like a mini-game, counting all those meta points, but it’s effective. It takes a lot of work that would be needed otherwise.
    One could disregard the traits and several rules and run pure AD&D with only the damage and fray dice modification. I was tempted to run it like that, but it will definitely increase the amount of work that needs to be done. Right now it’s fast, almost like Savage Worlds.
    I love how I am able to play Dark Sun, all those years later. Scarlet Heroes suffers from the same problem all D&D styled products have, albeit much reduced due to its simplicity. Bland combat. I need to introduce narrative additions to it to make it more interesting. I’ll consider a couple hacks for my next sessions.
    Converting the monsters to Scarlet Heroes was so and so. The Ettercap wasn’t a problem, but the Dangerous plant was quite hard to convert. As for the imbalanced Behir from the Dark Sun encounters table, that’s true old school deadliness. One could state that I had meta info and decided to avoid the encounter, but I doubt that any sane halfling would try to engage a 40′ reptile even if it doesn’t know that it can spit lightning.
    The solo adventuring mechanics seem to hit the right spot between narrative inspiration and effective gameplay. One could hack these with some work to fit different settings as well. According to ones desires they can bullet point the entire game without losing content or add narrative to the extent I did or even more. I will continue this adventure as I have only touched the surface of Scarlet Heroes, but I think that it will be a perfect way to run the Beasts and Barbarians setting I have for Savage Worlds. I must say I am a bit excited.
    Finally I would like to note once more how deeply helpful it is to have physical copies. Reading the entry of the monstrous manuals and dark sun books is so much easier than going back and forth in a tablet or pc.

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