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Showing posts from 2018

The Coming Around of a D&D Skeptic

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“It looks fun, but I can’t imagine wanting to play anything other than D&D” --a phrase I found myself saying the other day, and then reflecting on how surprised my one-year-ago self would be to hear any version of myself saying that he wants to play Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, past me, Dungeons & Dragons. Deal with it. This is who you are now.

I never thought I would like Dungeons & Dragons. I thought it was just kids playing make-believe and making up rules to go with (or against) the made-up rules of their dungeon master to get through their made-up dungeon with made-up characters with made-up abilities that they made up as they went.

“There’s a chasm.”

“Oh, well my character can fly.”

“There’s a river.”

“I’m a boat.”

“The dragon attacks you.”

“I turn the dragon into a kitten with my Spell of Turning Dragons into Kittens.”

The dragon is defeated, and laughter ensues. It’s not a normal game, but people are having fun and that’s cool and all, but it’s not really a game, …

Lost Mine of Phandelver Part 5: This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Four of Us

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Our adventurers entered the town of Phandolin, unsure of what to expect. The scene before their eyes was that of a town that had been built overtop of an older one. The previous version of Phandolin was rubble and desolate buildings. While the current version was built up along a main road and had one goal in mind, to dig as deep as needed. The party turned their cart over to the Amber Rock Consortium. The reception gnome paid them their fees, and let them know about the layout of the town and the goings on of recent note. Under his breath he informed them that a group of mercenaries called the “Red Brands” had recently taken up “security” of the town. They didn’t do much aside from bullying the townsfolk and getting drunk under the guise of protecting the townsfolk.

[Lost Mine of Phandelver Index] [Previous][Next]
The gnomish attendant pointed them to the two inns they could find residency, the Sleeping Giant or the Stonehill, even though the Sleeping Giant had been taken over by th…

Princes of the Apocalypse Session Video

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We're in full swing over on our Twitch channel! We're airing Princes of the Apocalypse every Tuesday night at 7:30PM!


Watch us play LIVE on Twitch Sundays at 7:30EST!

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Well, something really really exciting happened this weekend. In a whirlwind of excitement, we decided to stream our biannual D&D fest as a pilot. We loved it so much, we decided to open our private game to the world!

You can catch us now live every Sunday around 7:30PM EST (give or take a few...) by subscribing right here: http://www.twitch.tv/CastleMac

Also, please follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CastleMacDnD

We hope to catch you live! We'll be picking up in the middle of our Curse of Strahd campaign.

You can see that weekend here:

Portrait of a Party: Princes of the Apocalypse

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The gentlemen depicted above are the current party we are using for our Princes of the Apocalypse campaign. Sean (of Caecilius Ras fame from our Curse of Strahd campaign) caught the DM bug, and after a successful two-parter (if you can call mercilessly murdering the player characters at the end successful) he decided to dive in on a full fledged campaign.
All three miniatures are by Dark Sword Miniatures. At roughly twice the price of your standard Reaper mini (my usual go to), these probably aren't suitable for bulking out your collection... but for splurging on a Player Character, they are, in my opinion, second to none. 
On the left, representing the Valor Bard Broderick Reinwald is the Balon Greyjoy figure from their George R.R Martin Masterworks line. What a perfect mini! The figure really captured the character of Broderick, and painting the model was an absolute joy. As with all of the Dark Sword minis I've put together, they do have very tiny connection points and so …

Curse of Strahd Part 15: The Puppetmaster and the Toymaker

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Letters From Weiland
Dearest Father,

I hope someday these letters reach you, hopefully hand-delivered in this journal by yours truly. In my search for Captain Frostclaw, I seemed to have stumbled into a far different land than I have ever heard of. Before you go off berating me for being unable to even read a map, this place is not on any map, nor is the culture like any society we have ever learned about. I doubt even Lanegan, your favorite son, would have been able to avoid a trip to this sullen land.

[Curse of Strahd Index] [Previous][Next]
This place is horrible Father, as if it were a land bent on bringing your worst nightmares to bear. I stumbled into an tavern called The Blue Water Inn. However, I have failed to see any blue water anywhere around in this desolate land. The inkeep took me in and I was able to secure some warm food for the first time in a couple of days, as Outrider rations were running low. He said he had some people I should talk to, and looked uneasy. I c…

Miniature Review: Gibbering Mouther

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Continuing on from the Grell post earlier, Gibbering Mouthers are both one of my favorite weird, grotesque, uniquely D&D bad guys! Gibbering Mouthers babble endlessly, driving creatures who can hear them insane. Also, their brains float around inside their mass. Love it! Just like the Grells before, these little beauties come in the Wrath of Ashardalon boardgame.

Item Name: Gibbering Mouther (From Wrath of Ashardalon)
Manufacturer: Wizards of the Coast
Line: D&D Board Games
Review: Much of what I have to say here is already covered in the Grell review. Bottom line, the Wrath board-game is worth picking up, even for just the miniatures. The game itself is based on 4th edition, which works best as a board game anyway, in my humble opinion. These are clean plastic sculpts that require no assembly. Quite happy with them!

I wanted them to look grotesque so I painted them in fleshy tones, and applied spot gloss to make things look sickly wet. Love dropping them on the table!

Curse of Strahd Character Background: Weiland Smallbrook

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The road wound on and on, and with each step the weight on Weiland’s shoulders seemed to increase. Thinking back to the events of the past couple of weeks, he could not believe all that had passed. The siege had been brutal. Had it not been for the Half Orc Grim, an elf monk named Komi, and Naal the half elf wizard defending the gate, his city would have certainly fallen. Many lives had been lost; none so devastating as the priestess Eole. Everyone had loved the priestess for her heroism, but none more than Weiland’s own commander, Xavier Frostclaw.

[Curse of Strahd Index]

The third son of a minor noble, Weiland Smallbrook sought mentorship in the Outriders (The cavalry and scouts of the Jappur guard). Having always been a gifted rider, he felt he could be more useful there than in a house where his father didn’t even acknowledge him. Abandoned to the army, Weiland followed his captain with a fervor, executing every order to help the city grow and thrive. After the siege, Xavier…

Lost Mine of Phandelver Character Backstory: Trajek Gloomhammer

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Trajek Gloomhammer, Druid
He woke to have his bandages replaced, Trajek had come to realize over the course of the past week that things in his life would have to change, there would not always be a next time, and while his hold on life was not so tenuous as in days past, the Old Druid’s message was clear. From here on out he must adapt, or die.

***

Trajek Gloomhammer began his adventures as a soldier. As orcs are naturally drawn to combat there was plenty of opportunity within the tribe to prove oneself and setting off to sell his sword proved fruitful. Being a half-orc made work easy to find and his skill at arms made that work easy to do. It also provided an ego that was not easily deflated.
The skirmishes and battles that were fought, won or lost did not take a physical toll on the half-orc. Lords come and go and the lines around nations are changed with pens as well as swords. He won gold a glory throughout his travels but it was a different price Trajek paid, and one not e…

Curse of Strahd Part 14: True Knight

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Journal of Caecilius
We ran almost all the way to Vallaki. As we entered the town, it was bustling. Nothing like the cities of Faerun, although it looked like many of the villages and towns that Anghar and I passed through. Defeated and depressed but with life going on. War torn but with some smiles and perhaps hopes left. As we entered my eyes were drawn to a circus wagon that said “Rictavio’s Circus”. Ava and Driessa seemed concerned by it, but it was not of consequence to me. We traveled to the Blue Water Inn.

As we entered, the Innkeeper was a stout man with black and grey hair. He couldn’t take his eyes off Ava and seemed to regard her as important. I mentioned what Danovich told me about it being bad luck to kill a Raven. His head cocked and he nodded and loosened up. We talked of what brought us to Vallaki. We mentioned the attempted sacrifice of Ursula at the hands of minions of Lady Wachter. He pointed to some drunk thugs in the corner that were her boys. In the other corner…

Curse of Strahd Part 13: Dead Man Walking

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From the Journal of Vrice Kilcannon
I had the first good night of sleep last night in the same place where we killed a vampire spawn, probably one of Strahd’s creation. It seems that there is some good in this world after all and it does my heart good. That is even after seeing the procession of dead that we witnessed the night before. Apparently, if we die here our souls cannot travel on. Now, normally this would concern me but I worship Kelemvor, Lord of the Dead, and I am sure his power over the dead is greater than any pathetic vampire. I will laugh in the face of Strahd if I die when Kelemvor shows him true power.

[Curse of Strahd Index] [Previous][Next]
The next day we start off on our journey to escort Ireena to the Abbey at Krezk. Along the way a mist appears in the road and a swarm of wolves attack us seemingly under the control of a dark shape in the mist with an intricate cane in its hands. Is this Strahd, have we already gained his attention? If so our task has just…

Arn: The Sleepy Elf Played by my Father as Illustrated by my Sister

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My Dad plays an elvish archer in one of my #DnD games (with a lot of my fam) and he’s always dozing off during roleplay/slow moments so, it’s just a part of his character now. pic.twitter.com/K5z6YltXVo — Tracy MacLauchlan (@saetje) March 6, 2018
My sister posted the above on Twitter, and it basically embodies how much I love playing D&D with my family better than anything I could say about it!

Miniature Review: Grells

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Ahhh, the Grell. Since I first encountered these sightless, alien creatures, I had a bizarre fascination with them! In fact, the next few articles will cover some of the more alien monsters in D&D! If you've not used one before, just go read the wiki article- as a DM if it doesn't spark some cruel inspiration, then I don't know what will!

Item name: Grell (from the Wrath of Ashardalon board game)
Manufacturer: Wizards of the Coast
Line: D&D Board Games
Review: I bought the Wrath of Ashardalon boardgame long before my triumphant return to 5th edition D&D. The game itself is pretty darn fun for some easy co-operative dungeon crawling action... but for $50 it truly delivers a boat load of excellent plastic miniatures- 42 to be exact. Came for the game, stayed for the minis. Highly recommended if you need to kickstart your miniature collection!


As for painting these little cuties, I knew I wanted them to look both bizarre and grotesque. To that end, I painted the &quo…

Curse of Strahd Part Twelve: Perseverence

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Caecilius' Journal Barovia is an unjust and dark reality. It is worthy of a righteous mission and the glory that will bring. The heroes of Faerun accomplished a task fit for gods, but they had the backing of the people and an environment they knew. Almost all answered the call. What would they do in a place such as this. When the world itself is the trap of a devil. When the people are too broken to try and assist.

We stopped to help a young girl. She was surrounded by cultists and being prepared for a sacrifice. The cultists were pathetic. They were sent by a woman in Vallaki to make this sacrifice to Strahd. To appease his need for blood. So the girl, Ursula, and a captured cultist explained. I do not kill captives, but I made sure to break his leg before I left him. I told him perhaps the devil will pity him as he hobbles and crawls toward the castle.

[Curse of Strahd Index] [Previous][Next]
We came upon a windmill that housed the hag who sells moon pies. Vrice couldn’t stand …

TIAMAT AKA Mal'Drakar by Reaper

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We wrapped up our Rise of Tiamat campaign on a spectacular note: a massive battle with a weakened avatar of Tiamat at the Well of Dragons. I worked on the miniature for weeks before unveiling it, and when that massive chunk of demon queen glory hit the table, the players knew they were in for a fight!
Our friend Jeff snapped a picture of my wife with this look of despair, and for 15 minutes or so, she was internet famous. I had people I barely knew who saw this post on Reddit asking me about it; quite hilarious!
The miniature itself is absolutely spectacular. For those wondering it's the Mal'Drakar by Reaper and the mini isn't cheap! However, I had a friend who was not interested in painting his, so we made a deal: He would buy me a "miniature" (Should this be called a "megature"?) if I would paint his. I decided painting two of the same model isn't too much extra work, so agreed.
The model is about the size of a small chicken. Hence, these tiamats…

Curse of Strahd Part 10.5: The Forgotten Dawn

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A Conversation between Caecilius Ras and Donavich, Priest of Barovia Village
As we left the burning mansion of Ireena’s former home, I decided to go and speak to the priest. My companions and I were quick to cleanse his son of the curse that afflicted him, but we didn’t engage the only holy man we’ve come across. I have questions and I think only he can answer them. No one joins me, and that is perhaps for the best.

As I enter, I find the priest, Danovich, over the body of his son performing burial rites. I make my presence known, but quietly let him continue. He finishes and addresses me without looking.

“Here is my boy. My one treasure in this life, now stolen from me. This is the way of this place.”



“I am sorry for you loss. From what you say, he fought. There is honor in that and I am sure it pleases your god.” The man hesitated and looks up at me with a pained face.

[Curse of Strahd Index] [Previous][Next]
“It was...it was right of you to bring him some peace. If that peace can ev…

Lost Mine of Phandelver Part 4

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Breathing heavily and weary from their fight with the goblins, the party debated what to do with the captives. Trajek wanted to use them as meat shields while the adventurers investigated the rest of the cave, Finbin wanted to be done with them and off the treacherous and evil things. Eventually, Finbin caved to the large half-orc’s wishes under the assumption they would set the captive wolves on a chase after the goblins on the way out. Finbin hated goblins, and felt sick at the thought of leaving any alive. To him they were the embodiment of pure filth and conniving ways, always trying to weasel out of challenges in life. Trudging on through the dim cave, they came to the locked room. Looking around, the party noticed the sluice which had been used against them and paused for a moment to watch it fill. Breaking their pause, a voice called out.

“Did you get them all?”

[Lost Mine of Phandelver Index] [Previous][Next]
Recognizing it as another goblin, Finbin again assumed the role …