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.

Monday 1 April 2024

Miniatures Painted This Year (March)

It's a day late again, but here's the March update for what miniatures I've managed to slap some paint on...

First up is the last of the horse models that I painted up for my carts and wagons video:

And, since I talked about them in last month's post, there's not much more to add really.

Next we have a couple of test models...

...which are Wizkids models that I got for half price - and all you're seeing here are some experiments to see how certain colours look in conjunction with certain washes. But they're good enough to throw in my traveling GMs kit, and so I'm counting them towards this month's total.

And the reason for these test models is because I've started work on some of the Mantic models from Dungeon Saga Origins...

...the first of which are these zombies that you can see above.

Now, I've gone with a relatively quick paint job for these, but despite that, I think they've turned out rather nice.

Anyway, after finishing off the first batch of regular zombies I then moved on to the armoured variants...

...followed by the ghost/wraith models:

And, for board game pieces, I have to admit that they're pretty nice models (I've also started work on some of the skeletons - but I haven't got those finished yet - so they'll have to be included in next month's roundup).

Anyway, the final models I got done were these dwarves (I think they're from the Massive Darkness game - but I picked them up as single models from a store that breaks the sets of various boardgames down):

And, as you can see, I just painted these up as ghosts (as I needed a few for a game I was running - and since these guys had been sitting on the shelf for a while, I decided to put them to use).

So that's a total of 14 models done in March - for a grand total of 49 miniatures painted this year - though I did pick up this sprue of (Perry) mercenaries (I think)... that counts as 2 models bought I suppose (for a total of 12 this year) - but even so, I'm still well 'in credit' so to speak :)