Monday, 30 May 2016

Dungeon Gaming in 15mm

Over the last few weeks I've been working on something that I've fancied doing for a number of years - creating a dungeon exploring game for 15mm fantasy miniatures.

I made some initial notes over Easter and got stuck in during April and May, although the Ayton painting deadline did have to take priority. Lots of discussions with a friend, who shares the same nostalgia for D&D and likes games like this, led to some early rules playtesting and the making of trial floortiles. Last weekend it all came together and we managed some 3 player games for the first time, and actually had a good time!

Which door next?

After trying card and high density blue styrofoam, in the end I took advice and went for 4mm cork tiles for the rooms and corridors. It takes paint well, doesn't warp (if you paint the other side too), cuts easily, has a nice texture for representing stone, and is very cheap. The whole set I made (2 dozen rooms and a dozen pieces of corridor), using about 8 square feet of the stuff, cost less than £10.

Doors are deliberately oversized (bigger monsters don't want to get stuck do they?); 28mm scale from Warbases. Pillars are cotton reels donated by Goat Major, other dungeon scenery is mostly scratchbuilt. The game is still developing, but the core is there already. I want to add things like sewers, fire pits and other stuff, and these will all be made to fit in with the basic kit.

Going to see the Boss:

Figures are from a mix of ranges, with Demonworld furnishing the majority. Characters get nice floortile-matching bases, while the monsters and other enemies are largely borrowed from other parts of the collection and are based for the outdoors - which actually helps to spot who's who!

As with all things like this, the game started out pretty simple, but has grown in detail - though hopefully not in complexity. The core things the group and I wanted were; levelling-up between games, finding treasure/magic items, end-game Boss encounters, and generally not having it too easy. I.e. a challenging game with rewards. Level 1 characters are weak, as they should be, and completing the first game is a mission in survival more than anything. From there, capabilities increase and more skills, spells and abilities can be obtained to give the party (made up of 4 characters, which come from the usual stereotypes) scope to tackle increasingly tougher dungeons.

"No, don't open two doors at once!... Oh dammit!"

Every game starts with the descent to a new dungeon level, with things kicking off when the first door is opened. Sensible precautions - Fighter at the front, Magic User in the middle:

Our first session was fun, but we took our time getting through 2 complete games due to some bad dice-induced protracted combats and lots of wandering monsters. Next time, though, we'll be 3rd level and those Orcs and Gobins better watch out!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Frostgrave in the Sand

Very late in posting this one, but a few weeks ago I had my first game (one and a half actually) of Frostgrave, courtesy of Goat Major's hospitality and excellent Oriental-style table set-up. As you can see from the pics below (and here: on GM's own blog), the game scenery for the fictional sand-bound ruins of Sarapur was top-notch!

We each selected a starter warband, with GM going for an Illusionist and me a Necromancer. This allowed me to have a very useful spread of spells, including the handy Bone Dart missile attack, and the very entertaining Raise Zombie option. My tame zombie 'Alan' was a slow-moving plotline all of his own, and managed to make a bit of a nuisance of himself, albeit having to be resurrected a couple of times.

Alan gamely attacks the enemy wizard:

We played an initial game with a half-warband force each as a learning exercise, which was very effective as a way to get to grips with the rules without being bogged down with too many figures and capabilities. I managed to kill the Illusionist with a bone dart towards the end, but of course we weren't counting the results of this test game towards the campaign :(

Then we got into the main event - a full-sized game using the Mausoleum scenario, which sees skeletons issuing forth from the central building and causing plenty of mirth and mayhem while we tried to acquire treasure and fight each other.

The rules provide an interesting, fun and unpredictable game, and the wide variety of spells offer lots of tactical options for aiding your own side, hindering your opponent and securing treasure, etc. GM used Push effectively - on his own guys (to speed them on their way once they'd picked up some treasure), mine (off a roof) and on wandering monsters to deposit them in combat with my force. I used wall of fog to provide cover from archery, telekinesis to pick up treasure, etc. It's an exercise in cunning and sneakiness and very enjoyable all-round. My apprentice was a liability, failing enough casting attempts to inflict a lot of damage on himself!

The game ended with most of the hired help out of action and our wizards both decided that to stay any longer was to court potential disaster. We both had treasure and called it a day at that point. We rolled up our loot, and will give some thought to new spells, etc, between games.

The d20 system for combat threw up a handful of big results (eg. my Templar going down in his first round of combat to a thug..), but we felt this was in the spirit of a fun, wizard/magic-centric game and not a problem. Overall, the Frostgrave experience is a very good one in my opinion, and we will be returning to Sarapur to continue our campaign soon I hope.