Wednesday 15 May 2024

Five Leagues From the Borderlands (part 4) - Skirmish on the Stairs

OK then… in my last post I managed to get everything set up for my first battle… so here’s how it went (note that I’ll explain a few things about how ‘5 leagues’ works to begin with – but it will be a very basic overview):


So, in this (and other Nordic Weasel games), the round usually starts by rolling a number of six sided dice equal to the number of models in your warband…

...and what you’re hoping for is low numbers.

You then compare these to the ‘Agility’ skill of your characters… and if any of the dice are equal or lower than that score, you can assign that die to a corresponding character – which means that that particular model can then activate in the ‘quick phase’ of the round (i.e. it gets to activate before the enemies).

So, since all of my ‘heroes’ have an agility score of one… and since I only rolled a single one in the above example… that means I can only activate one of my characters before the enemies (though I’m free to choose which). So…

As the company made their way down the stairs into the vast chamber, the quiet echoes of their own footfalls were met by the clamour of many clawed feet rushing towards them out of the darkness.

(Quick Actions Phase)

Lagashi was the first to act – whispering fell words from cracked lips, and holding her staff aloft. Within mere seconds a whole host of bats had flocked to her side… and with words of command she sent them out into the centre of the room to form a screen between her and whatever it was that approached.

(Enemy Actions Phase)

From out of the gloom the outline of several wargs could be seen advancing towards them – howling and gnashing their teeth as they came. Though just how many there were was unclear.

(Slow Actions Phase)

Muzlug and Golb followed along behind the bats – this being a tactic that they had put to use on several previous occasions – while Snagluk moved off to one side and readied his bow.

(No Tracking Phase)


(No Quick Actions)

(Enemy Actions Phase)

The first of the haggard beasts bore down upon the swarm… tearing bats from the air with tooth and claw (first stunning it, then wounding it).

The second warg then joined the fray but could do little more (the exchange ended in a draw).

And finally another of the ravenous creatures came into view – but luckily this seemed to be the last of them (i.e. the unknown enemy roll resulted in just one extra creature).

(Slow Actions Phase)

Moving up to get a better shot - Snagluk loosed an arrow and wounded one of the lead creatures.

Muzlug followed that up with a charge of his own… but was beaten back by the beast (i.e. a draw).

Lagashi then began to make her way back up the entrance steps – thinking that it would give her a better vantage point for weaving more of her dark magic. Looking back, she turned around just in time to see her bat swarm eviscerate one of the fell wolves.

Emboldened by this, Golb dashed in… his sword swinging wildly. However, he soon regretted his decision… as he himself was wounded after a brief back and forth.


(Tracking Phase)

Seeing it’s companion torn to ribbons, the rearmost warg decided that it had seen enough, and fled back the way it came.

(Technically, the last warg should have fled at this point to – due to a ‘not worth the risk’ special rule for this scenario – but because I’m using a reduced number of models to begin with, I simply gave it a second morale roll instead… which it passed).


(No Quick Actions)

(Enemy Actions Phase)

The last warg clawed at Golb – forcing the injured orc to his knees and leaving him somewhat stunned.

With the stairs fully occupied, Snagluk clambered up the rubble beside them, and let loose another arrow. However, the uneven footing caused him to slip as he did so… and the arrow sailed off into the darkness (note, as I mentioned previously, I’m using a slightly modified ‘out of ammo rule’ – so if I roll a one on the die, I then roll it again to see if I run out of ammo).

With Muzlug behind him (ordering him forward) Golb reluctantly advanced… but after a brief back and forth… he managed to finish off the last of the hungry beasts.

With the immediate thread dealt with, Muzlug then rushed up the stairs… eager for this patrol to be over. Meanwhile, Lagashi watched on from afar – urging her bat servants forward to guard the far side of the great stairway.


(no activation rolls needed)

The great uruk cautiously peered through the doorway and examined the floor – looking for signs of recent movement. Finding nothing himself, he ordered Golb and Snagluk to join him.


(no activation rolls needed)

With the aid of his ‘trusty lads,’ Muzlug and company ventured a short way down the passage and conducted a more thorough search. Finding little evidence of dwarven activity, they made ready to leave – but at the last moment something caught Muzlug’s attention from the corner of his eye.

Something about one of the walls didn’t look quite right; when tapping on it, it didn't sound quite right either. Could their be an adjoining room on the other side – the entrance to which had been blocked up? Or was this some kind of secret entrance that warranted further investigation?

Whatever the case may be, Muzlug swore the rest of the group to secrecy – as this could be something they might not want other orcs to know about… at least not yet – as there might be some ‘good looting to be done’ ...loot that they might not want to share with the rest of the camp.

(i.e. the party made a successful roll to complete the mission in the allotted time frame – and as a result discovered a ‘delve’).


With the mission being a success the group gained:

1 adventure point.

Muzlug leveled up and got an extra point of luck.

Golb gained the crafting skill.

The party found a damaged standard weapon & damaged bastard sword amongst the debris in the room.

They also found an ‘essence crystal’ (which allows a Mystic to cast a spell for free without any rolls). For this I’m going to say that while the other members of the group were searching the battlefield, Lagashi conducted a foul ritual (involving the removal of the heart of one of the dead wargs) that allows her to use its spirit/essence as fuel for a future spell.

Returning to camp, Lagashi and company made their report (being careful not to mention their actual discovery), and found an unoccupied corner to rest in. Within the camp all was still rather tense and quiet (i.e. the ‘news travels’ roll didn’t result in anything again), and so they decided to keep their heads down for the moment… and wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Dwarven Stairs

Continuing with the dwarven theme of the last episode… here’s some large stone stairways with a similar Moria-esque aesthetic.

As always HERE is the (pay-what-you-want) pdf file that goes along with the video, and here’s hoping you can put them to good use!


Sunday 12 May 2024

Five Leagues From the Borderlands (part 3) – So it begins….

OK then… so I have my Orc warband painted (which you’ve already seen)… and a bunch of dwarves painted too… lets get started!


Since this is the first turn of the game, there’s not a lot to do - as my party will just be making a Travel roll to get to the region where the game takes place (and skipping the rest of the stages).

So let’s do that… here’s the first roll of the game:


And with a result of a 3 absolutely nothing happens. So...

Lagashi, Muzulg, and company set out from the fastness of Dol Guldur and embarked upon their mission. Always travelling under the cover of darkness, they made their way across the Great River and eventually into Dimril Dale. Once there, they approached the East Gate with caution - but were able to enter without incident - as the longbeards had been driven out of the East Gate (and the 2nd Hall) by Sauron's forces.

Now, with this being the first turn, I’m not sure if I should be rolling on the ‘News Travels’ section… but I’m going to do it anyway. And with the roll of a 5, once again, nothing seems to be happening right now. So...

Moving on, the warband reached the orcish outpost stationed in the 2nd Hall, and made their report before being allowed any rest. At the moment all seemed quiet within the encampment… with only the vaguest echoes of squabbling orcs breaking the stillness from time to time - though these were quickly silenced. Maybe something had recently happened here - or was it just the quiet before the storm?


OK then, since nothing really happened in turn 1, let’s jump straight into turn 2.

(note that I’m going to run through things fairly quickly – so some of this might not make much sense if you’ve not played ‘Five Leagues’ - but in future posts I’ll probably just post my interpretation of the rolls... that is, unless anyone is interested in seeing both the rolls and my interpretation of them).

Anyway, the first thing I need to do is roll for local (settlement) events… and I get a ‘wandering healer.’

Next I roll on the Hard Times table… and get a 5 – which means my upkeep is 3 gold (note that since I’m running a non-standard/evil game I’m thinking of this more as a pool of accumulated loot and the warband’s reputation).

Now, for Campaign Activities this turn I’m going to ‘Help the Town Guard’ (which will offset my upkeep cost this turn), and ‘Meet the Locals’ (since I’m new in town). And with the roll of an 82, the table says that I ‘Spend time having a Drink’ (which adds one story point).

And then, as my action in the Adventuring Stage, I’m choosing to ‘Ride a Patrol.’

So I’m going to interpret all of that to mean something like this:

The quiet didn’t last long though, as Lagashi & Co. were quickly put to ‘guard work’ after their short rest – and set to watch over one of the passages just off the main hall. Not long into their watch they were approached by Robgot ...a sickly looking creature who handed the party a skin full of a thick healing liquor (i.e. the 2 silvertree leaf doses in my starting inventory) - in preparation for when ‘The fun begins!” as he put it.

He went on to add that the party were being reassigned and sent out on patrol… “Orders from Grob” he said. And, while they could get little more out of him than that, during their short journey back to the outpost he did offer up a few pointers for dealing with any dwarf raiders that they might run into while 'out there' - though nothing of any real substance... or so it seemed.

Right then… so let’s see how that patrol goes. With a roll of a 38 that means I’ll be encountering some unsavoury types from the roadside enemy table (‘dust hounds’ in this instance). However, with this being a ‘patrol’ I’m not sure if I should roll on the objective table as well - but I did it anyway… and with a 19 I’m also being sent to ‘search for something’ – (which I think will work).

So, following all the table/model set-up rules… this is what things look like:


And, again I’m going to interpret this to be something like:

Before heading out, Muzlug was pulled aside by Dugmush (second in command to Grob), and given instructions as to where they should go, and what to look out for… in particular, signs of ‘dwarf mischief’ near a large stone stairway in an adjacent hall. He also warned of a pack of hungry wargs that were roaming the tunnels… feral beasts that might have once allied themselves with the orcs that were here previously – but creatures that have long since been driven mad with hunger.

So I have 5 turns to get to the point indicated on the map and make a successful (battlewise) test… while at the same time, fending off a pack of hungry wargs.

But that will have to wait until next time...

Thursday 2 May 2024

Miniatures Painted This Year (April)

It’s time for the monthly update on all the mini’s I’m getting done this year… starting with some more Mantic undead from their Dungeon Saga board game:

As you can see, since there are duplicate models in the set, I’ve painted one batch with red accent colours, and the second batch with blue.

And, much like I’ve done with the previous models from this game, they’ve just been primed, base coated, had some washes applied… and then tidied/highlighted back up with the same base colours (seeing as how the washes darken everything down a little bit).

OK, next up are some orcs…

...which, if you’ve been following my recent ‘5 Leagues from the Borderlands’ posts, you’ll know that these are going to be part of my warband that are exploring the halls Moria. But as far as the models go, the middle guys is a Gargantua Orc (from Ral Partha Europe), and the guys on either side are kit-bashes (using Mantic Zombie legs, Warlord orc heads and bodies, and Oathmark goblin arms).

Then there's my Mystic (for the same game), and the summoned ‘creature’ she can… well… summon:

And, like before, the bat swarm (which, as I say, I’m using for the 'summon' spell) is from Ral Partha Europe, and the figure on the right is a hobgoblin shaman from Midlam Miniatures.

Now I did spend a little bit more time painting all of these orcs – seeing as how they’re going to be my ‘heroes’ in the game… but in truth it was just an extra highlight layer on top of the ‘tidy’ stage that I mentioned above (so it's probably not that noticeable :) ).

Anyway, if I’m going to be playing orcs in my upcoming Moria (solo) game… then I’m also going to need some dwarven opponents:

And these five mini’s are from NorthStar’s Oathmark range. The first three are from the regular dwarven infantry sprue – and the 4th and 5th models are from their ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ infantry sprues respectively. And, since these are essentially going to be the ‘monster minis' in the game I’ll be playing, these have just had a quick paint job as well (though I will be painting some more of these guys soon).

OK – now on to the miniatures that I bought.

First up are these four metal models from Midlam Miniatures (a barrow wight, a female and male hobgoblin shaman, and a wagon driver):

And, as you saw earlier, I did manage to get some paint on one of the hobgoblins :)

In addition to those, I also picked up another sprue of miniatures from ebay…

...these being some more Northstar/Oathmark models – but this time some light human infantry/rangers. 

So my totals for April were 16 models painted and 9 models bought. 

Which brings the yearly total up to 65 painted / 21 bought… which is still much better than I thought I would do! 

And since I mentioned the Moria game a bit earlier on – here’s a quick look as some of the terrain I’ve been putting together for it (which, I think, is shaping up quite nicely)…

...but more on that soon!

Saturday 27 April 2024

Dwarven Pillars and Little Rivers

As you might know if you’ve been following some of my recent posts, I’m about to start a Moria-style game – one where I’ll be playing as the orcs (using the Five Leagues from the Borderlands solo rules).
And, while I could just use my regular dungeon tiles for this (and I probably will to be honest), I also want to make a few pieces that have a bit of a dwarven theme… and I thought a good place to get things started would be with these pillars:

So, as always, there’s a (pay-what-you-want) pdf file that goes along with them (you can find it HERE)... and I hope you agree that, considering they’re just made from bits of card with a paper texture glued on top, they don’t look too bad at all :)
Furthermore, I forgot to post about the river tiles that I made earlier this month… there’s the video (and HERE’s the pdf) for that as well. 
So, yeah… it’s been quite a productive month. Now I just need to set some time aside to play!

- a few pesky dwarves for my orcs to deal with -

Friday 19 April 2024

Five Leagues From the Borderlands (part 2) – FINAL PREP

As I mentioned in my last post, for my first campaign of 5 Leagues, I’m going scale things down a bit… not the scale of the models (I’ll be using regular 28/32mm stuff)… but rather the number of models I’ll be using (for both my heroes and their opponents).

In addition to that, there’s the whole ‘evil campaign taking place almost entirely in a dungeon’ thing that I’ll be attempting – but looking through the book, I think I’ll be able to flavour most things to fit… but it will be interesting (and hopefully fun) to see how I can reinterpret some of the situations that arise.

So with that in mind, here’s a few changes that I’m starting out with...


1. For the most part, switching things over to an ‘evil’ campaign will be pretty cosmetic. I don’t think there is any need to crate new races for example - as the ones provided in the book are vague enough to be open to interpretation. So, if you take a look at the roster you will see that Muzlug (my black orc of Mordor) is actually a duskling. And since dusklings can’t have spells cast on them, and have the ‘brute charge’ ability (plus he also got a +2 speed bonus during character generation) – all of that simply influenced his description (see the previous post). Another example would be changing ‘gold marks’ to a pool of ‘loot, reputation, and favours that can be called in’ ...but it’s the same thing - I’m just describing it differently to better suit the narrative.

2. As I mentioned above, I’m halving the number of heroes I get (so 2 instead of 4) – though I am giving them both ‘avatar’ status to help a little bit with that (as I don’t want to end the game if one of them dies prematurely – plus I think it will be interesting to see how things progress if one or the other is taken out of action). To compensate for this, I’ll also halve the number of enemies encountered… and maybe halve the monster points for the creatures that have them (rounding up) – but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. However, if it goes well, I might add in a couple more heroes later on, and play things with the correct number of models.

3. Thirdly, since I want to start off small, I’ve only put two ‘threats’ on the map (one foe within, and one foe without – though I’ll assign them both a threat level of six), and I’m only adding one unexplored location to the map (i.e. I’m leaving off the first delve). The foes within (gnawling hordes) will represent rival orc bands that were pushed deeper into Moria when the dwarves first arrived, and the foes without (duskling warbands) will be the dwarves of Balin’s company. My play space is also a bit limited, so I’ll be using either 60cm x 90xm magnetic blackboard (in conjunction with some of my dungeon tiles) or a Paizo flipmat for my battles.

4. I’ve watched a few ‘bat-rep’ style videos on YouTube to give me a bit of a feel for things – and in most of those that I’ve seen, folks seem to dislike the ‘limited ammunition’ rule (I wasn’t sure about it myself either). So, as a bit of a test, I’m going to modify that rule to something like this: When rolling to hit, if the result is a natural 1, roll the die again. If this also results in a 1, the model has run out of ammunition (this does not apply for the first shot of the game).

5. Due to the nature of the game I’m trying to run, I’ll be playing things fast and loose, and not worrying too much if I have to alter things to better suit the narrative. For example, if the enemy list provides something that doesn’t fit the setting, I’ll just choose something suitable from another list (the ‘ruin within’ has some good options I feel).


One of the cool things about 5 Leagues is the way you generate the campaign map.

If I were doing this for a regular game, I’d probably use something like this generator HERE to get the basic layout… but since I seem determined to make things harder on myself, I’ve had to put together a rather abstract version of Moria myself… or at least, I’ve attempted to.

So, with that in mind, this is what I’ve come up with (note that you can find a better pdf version of it HERE):

And, as you can see, I’ve tried to use a multi-level hex map to cover the seven levels and seven deeps of Moria - adding in some of the key areas mentioned in the Fellowship of the Ring (alongside most of the points of interest that 5 Leagues prompts you to add). It’s far from perfect – but I think it will do the job well enough :)

And with that, I think I’m about ready to get started!

Though, saying that… as I mentioned in the last installment, I am using this as an excuse to get some of my (Oathmark) dwarf models assembled and painted… so there might be a brief pause every now and again while I splash some colour on any models I might need for a given scenario.

But yeah… I think it’s time to make my first travel roll… and see if my little band of miscreants make it through the East Gate without incident...

...wish me luck!

Monday 15 April 2024

Five Leagues From the Borderlands (part 1) – GETTING STARTED


I got hold of the physical version of the (Five Leagues from the Borderlands) book a little while back… but, aside from watching a few YouTube tutorials/playthroughs, I’ve never really delved into it – despite it sounding like a cool concept (I think the amount of rolling on tables put me off a little bit).

But, all that is about to change, as I thought it was about time I gave it a try :)

However, because this will be my first game, I am going to scale things down a little bit - so that the campaign will be a bit shorter than usual (more on that later)… and also, because I want to try something a little bit different - I want to try playing as ‘the bad guys’ for a change (something I usually shy away from).

And while the game isn’t really intended for that kind of thing, I think it’ll be interesting to see how it goes (I mean, it might not be worth pursuing after a while – but it’s only a test game… so I can move onto something more traditional once I’ve got to grips with the rules and seen how flexible the game can be).

And, seeing as how I seem to be in the mood for making some dwarven themed dungeon terrain at the moment (posted below is a crude prototype for a huge pillar/column that I’m working on) – what better place to set the game than the Halls of Moria (this also gives me an excuse/reason to paint up some of the Oathmark dwarves that I’ve had sitting in a box for forever ;) ).

So that’s the plan… I’ll assemble a small warband/party of orcs… and we’ll be battling against Balin’s company in the year 2994 of the Third Age.

And, since I’m led to believe that solo games work better if you keep a journal of sorts, I think I’m going to try and keep track of things here on the blog (at least to begin with) – and maybe take some photo’s of the game in action (as I always seem to forget to do that when running D&D sessions in person). Plus, if I play it for any length of time, there’s a good chance that it will also inspire future terrain projects for the YouTube channel as well!


OK then, as is usual with most games – the first thing you need to do is create your character, or group of characters… and this is no different. However, rather than go through the whole process, I’ll just share my roster HERE (hopefully there aren’t too many errors).

Like I say, I’m starting off with a smaller roster than usual – for some of the reasons I mentioned above (and also because it will mean that I have to paint less models ;) ).

Speaking of which – here’s what I’ve got done so far (note that the bat swarm will be used for the ‘summon’ spell)…

 …and here’s the (very basic) narrative that goes along with them:

* * * 

Lagashi is somewhat of a rarity amongst the orcs – a creature capable of harnessing dark magic through shamanic practices and foul rituals (albeit in a very minor way). This has allowed her to rise above her station, and gain the favour of her dark master.

To that end, she has been instructed to join with the forces that are rooting out those pesky dwarves that have (re)gained a foothold within the halls of Moria… and to strengthen the dark lord’s presence there (as many of the orcs that dwell within have turned to worshiping Durin’s Bane as a god).

And seeing as how the road to (and beneath) the mountain is fraught with many perils, she has been assigned a small (but capable) escort – lead by a huge uruk brute named Muzlug.

Muzlug is a fierce, bow-legged warrior – with long powerful arms, broad shoulders, and an evil heart. Despite his great size (standing man-high in spite of his hunched posture), his great loping stride allows him to close with his enemies with surprising speed – a trait that serves him well, as he seems to relish the chaos and brutality of close quarters combat.

However, he dislikes and distrusts Lagashi in equal measure – and he has made it perfectly clear that if the shaman were to ever use her magic upon him, then it would likely be the last thing she ever did.

And while his orders are to act as Lagashi’s bodyguard – he’ll not consider it a great loss if anything were to happen to her while they are so far from home… as he has brought with him a couple of ‘trusty lads’ in the hope of ‘setting up on his own’ if the situation presents itself. 

Speaking of which, Golb and Snagluk are the two orcs that are rarely very far from Muzlug’s side. Golb is equipped for hand to hand combat, whereas Snagluk is more at home picking off the enemy at distance. 

Together, this small force has set out from the stronghold of Dol Guldur, and one more march (under the cover of darkness) will likely bring them in sight of Moria’s east gate… 

* * * 

NEXT UP: House rules, and populating the adventure map.