Elania Campaign 2: Session 2

After disposing of the troll-like creature and the minions who had attacked them, the party (Gregor the paladin, Talon the rogue, Halmod the sorcerer, Kugel the summoner and Malph the bard) regrouped, healed themselves and then continued to interrogate their bandit prisoner.

Gregor insisted on performing a trial but the party more or less ignored this suggestion, leaving it up to Gregor how to deal with the prisoner. That is, until Gregor proposed cutting off the man’s hands and releasing him, a suggestion that caused many in the party to appeal to Lt. Rovell to intervene and come up with a better solution. Lt. Rovell was little help though, ceding to Gregor the responsibility for passing judgment based on the field assignment he himself had given to Gregor to act as judge for the Rovell family. “I would just kill him and be done with it” a clearly exasperated Rovell said, “but do as you will.”

Eventually Gregor judged that the proper punishment was the removal of the thumb and two fingers of the bandit, a sentence he enforced himself after rendering the man unconscious (since none in the party agreed to hold the man down). After healing the man back into consciousness Gregor allowed him to go and nobody in the party objected.

With that settled the party then continued westward in the direction the prisoner had indicated the bandit hideout lay. The day passed slowly as Talon scouted ahead, carefully scanning for traps or ambushes. Not quite carefully enough though.

A sudden voice was heard among the trees to the southwest and before the party could react, several were ensnared by a magical web. Having no clear understanding of the direction of the caster, the party attempted, with some limited success, to cut themselves free of the sticky webs. Unfortunately, before freedom was attained, a ball of fire erupted in their midst doing significant damage to many in the party. Adding insult to injury, those still stuck in the web were further damaged by the burning web itself.

“Turn back or die!” a booming voice proclaimed. Lt. Rovell, who had amazingly avoided both the web and most of the fireball damage, immediately moved back to the east, expecting the party to follow him. However, Gregor refused to turn back and instead moved toward the voice, receiving a welcoming barrage of arrows and crossbow bolts, none of which connected.

Kugel summoned a dire bat and the rest of the party spread out in an attempt to locate their attackers. Although the caster was not located, two bandits were spotted, and Kugel’s dire bat immediately zoomed towards the nearest. Talon also moved forward to engage the bandit. However, the threat was revealed to be mostly a bluff, and the bandits were shredded or routed quickly but the caster was not seen.

The party quickly followed the tracks of retreating bandits, eventually discovering a clearing dominated with some ancient ruins. Movement in the ruins convinced the party that they had located the bandit hideout. Talon and Lt. Rovell began to scout when Gregor decided to make himself the focus of attention to allow the party to engage the bandits from cover.

Gregor’s charge into the clearing was again met with a mostly harmless barrage of arrows and bolts. But then a large, albeit maimed, ogre charged forth to meet Gregor. Kugel dismounted and sent his eidolon forward into battle. Talon and Lt. Rovell moved around the perimeter looking for targets while Halmod began casting spells at the exposed archers. Malph provided a powerful morale boost and began looking for targets for his own bow.

Frustrated by the inability to hit Gregor with their ranged weapons, two bandits rushed forward to engage Gregor in melee. The ogre found it impossible to hit Gregor and as Kugel’s eidolon joined the fray, the ogre found himself hard pressed.

Suddenly a robed figure appeared on a nearby towering rock and pelted Gregor with magic missiles. Then the black-hatted bandit leader joined the fight, peppering Gregor with arrows that finally found their mark.

Talon’s true strike enhanced arrow nailed another bandit who also charged forth, apparently determined to repay Talon for his pain. Halmod’s spells seemed to have no effect on his targets.

For a few moments as the bandit leader and the caster joined the fight it looked like the party would be hard-pressed. But it was not to be, as the ogre came crashing to the earth and Halmod’s “Hideous Laughter” spell incapacitated the bandit leader. Seeing his comrades being overpowered, the robed caster drank a potion and vanished.

After dispatching the final remaining bandits, Malph cast “suggestion” on the bandit leader and managed to get him talking. Under Malph’s influence Dain (the bandit leader) revealed that there was an underground hideout with a trap door entry, but that he could not locate the key (which had been taken from him while he was incapacitated by the hideous laughter spell). While under the spell Dain also revealed that the Caston in the bandit camp was none other than young Orchid Caston, and that Dain intended to woo the young woman. He also refused to have anything to do with Lt. Rovell, calling him evil and profaning the Rovell name repeatedly.

A quick search of the downed or captured bandits revealed a high quality str-adjusted compound bow, a +1 spiked chain and a +1 rapier. A small amount of gold and silver was recovered from the bandit leader along with a key ring with two keys. The bandit leader’s leather armor also appeared to be of high quality, but was not magical.

At this point the session came to a close.

Custom block tower segment

Well, here’s the first attempt at a tower section using the custom sculpted blocks that I made a custom mold for. So this is pretty much all me. I can’t blame anything on anyone else. Even the painting….

Well, oops, actually it’s not ALL me. I did use some of the bricks from another Hirst mold to outline the doorway and to make the window sill. Those aren’t me… But everything else is!

Custom mold and blocks

First I sculpted the following blocks, starting with existing cut stone blocks as described in a previous post:

Then I glued them down to some flat plastic and built a dam around them using foam core posterboard. Then I mixed and poured my Mold Max 40 silicon mold material and allowed it to cure, which created this:

And finally I used that to cast eight sets of blocks which I have stacked up here:

If I get a chance, I might just glue these together into a short tower segment…

My first custom building block mold

I’ve made lots of molds in the past year or so, since I started really getting involved with plaster and resin. I’ve made molds for miniatures, terrain, building blocks, etc.

But up until now my molds have really fallen into three categories:
1. Miniatures (I’ve probably got about ten miniature molds)
2. Non-standard terrain (Only a few of these, one for a wall, one for a column, one for some rocks)
3. Hirst block assemblies (These are all floor elements that are intended to make it fast and easy to make modular elements for dungeons. This also makes for much stronger floors than just gluing individual blocks together).

What I have not made, up until now, is any sort of custom mold which duplicates the function of the Hirst molds, but with my own sculpted blocks.

Now I have one. Basically I wanted a 4″ diameter fieldstone tower mold and didn’t have one. So I sculpted the individual blocks and then created a mold that lets me cast sets of blocks which I can then assemble into towers, etc.

I’ll try to take a photo tonight. I made the mold Monday night (during the football game) and it took 24 hours to fully cure (which means I probably didn’t get the catalyst exactly right in spite of using a postal scale to measure the amounts “precisely” – sigh). So last night I started casting some blocks using the new custom mold. I was able to cast five sets of blocks, which was enough to create a four block high “tower”. Tonight I’m going to cast more blocks, hopefully enough to have a high enough tower that it can actually be used in a game. Then I can paint and seal it.

But just based on the dry-fit four block high “tower” I did last night, I am fairly pleased with the results. The blocks fit together pretty well even without any sanding, meaning I got the sizes close enough that they fit together without any horrible gaps or unevenness or bubbles, etc. I believe the result would be a perfectly usable tower.

It will take a few days for me to make the blocks needed even for a prototype tower and they will need 48 hours to dry enough to glue and paint, so it will be Friday at the earliest before I have anything to take a photo of, and it will probably be more likely to be a weekend activity.

Re-evaluation of goals/approach…

Arg… so this will be somewhat revealing of my personal nature, but oh well.

I posted a few days ago how the response to me linking some of my quick and dirty furniture resulted in somewhat less than laudatory responses on the Hirst Arts forum from several regular posters on that forum.

My initial reaction was a somewhat petty and snarky explanation that my goals have been more to create usable gaming material than it has been to create high quality items that would be suitable for dioramas or for entry into art contests.

But of course it stung. And because it stung, it has caused me to re-evaluate my approach entirely in terms of quality vs quantity.

I have gone through all of my miniatures, my terrain, my buildings, etc., and with this new focus on quality I am afraid that I must admit that I am very disappointed in the level of quality of the huge majority of my work.

Yeah, the vast majority of my stuff is perfectly usable for gaming. But it does look sort of sad at worst and somewhat cartoonish or repetitive at best. Many of my painted miniatures have blobs of different colored paint splattered on the bases, or bases that are unpainted entirely. Since I was using cheap poker chips for some of my bases, I am forced to realize that many of those minis now look like they are perched on cheap poker chips.

Now, it’s highly unlikely that I am going to be redoing bases or painting of over 1,000 miniatures, and I will eagerly use them in games with no embarrassment whatsoever, BUT, I think that my approach going forward is now going to shift much more from quantity to quality. I had already begun that shift with my miniatures, but my terrain is still very much in the “throw it together” realm. Or most of it is. But no longer. From now on my terrain is going to be focused on quality as well.

The subterranean cavern I built, I think, satisfies this “quality” approach, although of course I can always get better. The wizard’s tower, ruined tower and bridge also all satisfy those goals, so I’ve got some pretty good stuff already. However, many of my huts and furniture and wagons do not. So I’ll be thinking about what to do about that. For example, I’ve got a bunch of tables I’ve made, but they are all sort of cheesy. Do I use what I have or do I take the time and trouble to create a high-quality table (or tables) and then use them to make a mold and cast dozens of them?

Same for bookshelves, wagons, etc…. Sigh. I suppose having open ended activities which constantly improve the quality of my collection is a good thing from a hobbyist perspective, but it also leaves me feeling somewhat daunted by the amount of work needed.

The price of being an amateur…

Sigh…. So I have an account on the Hirst Arts messageboard. I normally only comment on other people’s amazing builds or ask questions about materials or glue or stuff like that.

The other day someone posted a question about making furniture. So I linked to some of the furniture I made. Like these:

And this:

And these:

And these:

In return a couple of folks commented rather pointedly on the “rough” nature of the items. I knew better but decided to reply that my goal was not to produce “fine art” but to enhance my gaming. One of the folks who had expressed dislike of my efforts then responded that it destroyed their gaming verisimiltude for them to be able to see that the bookshelves were made from “popsicle sticks” and that I should have done more to “disguise” their true nature.

I have to say it is people like that who make me appreciate the comments of the vast majority of my posters and my gaming buddies. Thanks to all of you for your kind words. 🙂

Well, of course we all knew this was coming…

I am going to sculpt some custom blocks to work with the Hirst molds I already have. Then I am going to make molds of my custom blocks and treat them the same as my Hirst molds. Yesterday I purchased some of the same mold material that Hirst uses.

My first mold will be to work with the fieldstone dungeon blocks. Right now I can only make straight corridors and right-angle turns. I am going to create some curved walls so I can have a more organic look to my dungeons. That way I can have odd shaped rooms, curving hallways, etc. I’m also going to make some archways to fit my doors and some custom floor tiles.

My second mold will be to create some cavern segments such as stalactite dangling archways or stalagmite floor pieces which are intended to be stand alone. Also I want some more flexible wall elements for my caverns. I like the Dwarvenforge cavern wall blocks much more than the Hirst ones, so I’ll use those as models.

If I have enough mold material for a third mold I will work on some accessories like beds, chests of drawers, tables, chairs, etc. If my hydrostone is too fragile for those I can always use resin and make much sturdier ones.

I will be making the “originals” which will become the basis for my molds out of Sculpey clay which I will “carve” with my rotary grinding tool and some files.

Should be fun. 🙂