The Heavy Metal GM

bangin' heads and playing games

Ald Sotha: Family Reunion

“There’s no reason for this!” Corbin screamed with fury, his voice echoing in the catacombs. Lisbeth’s mind was ablaze with fear and panic. The others looked on without idea of what to do. Silence returned to the crypt for a minute or two until the eyes of the corpse snapped open once more. It inhaled sharply, the party recoiled in surprise at the sudden movement.

Mia’s father opened his mouth and the sound of six different people came out, “Where am I?” 

“Back to a place that you left by the laws of nature,” Corbin answered angrily. Lisbeth shot him a look at would make a dragon roll over.

“This may be tough to deal with, but you died and I’ve given you life once more,” Lisbeth told him, her voice trembling a bit. Knowledge of resurrection had been reserved for the most elite members of her order. She felt lucky to have figured it out on her own. What if they found out, though…  she thought.

The corpse’s voices were no less shocking a second time, “Back from the dead? I don’t remember what happened…” A look of perplexity adorned his face. The hair on the back of Crysx’s neck stood on end at the sound of this tortured soul. Lisbeth informed him that his memory should return shortly.

Crysx cleared his throat and explained the situation; who they were and why they were in this part of the empire. He explained that they were here to help and that his daughter  was just outside. The man’s expression changes int he blink of an eye. Flailing about in an attempt to stand up, he realized his body was atrophied from the long sleep of death. Lisbeth eased him back down, informing him that he needed to rest for a bit before leaving. She didn’t say it, but there was a lingering fear of using healing magic on the newly resurrected body. There was no way to tell if the cursed mark would interfere with her spells, and she didn’t want to find out. In an awkward silence, they all waited for his body to heal enough to the point where movement was manageable.

“We never got your name, good sir,” Tiberius probed. He informed them that is name was Frederick. Pleased that his memory was returning quickly, Lisbeth started to ask him about what had happened.

“The winter came so fast, and it came angry. We didn’t have enough wood so I was outside splitting some for the stove. I heard someone trudging through the snow and simply thought it was Mia. I didn’t bother to look up, she likes to come outside and talk with me as I work. Sometimes it interferes with the work she has to get done, but I don’t mind. My daughter is my life. What kind of father would I be if I always turned her away?” He started to trail off.

Lisbeth cleared her throat, “The sooner we get through this, the sooner you can see Mia again.” Frederick composed himself and continued.

“I said something to who I thought was Mia, just to start a conversation really. They didn’t answer, but kept coming toward me. Being the soft spoken woman she is, I didn’t think much of it. Before I knew what had happened, someone struck me on the back of the head and, in a flash, I was on my back. Everything was blurry, I couldn’t see who it was but they were large. A sharp pain across my throat followed by a warm, wet feeling and then nothing.” It was hard to tell where Frederick was looking without any pigmentation to his eyes. It made speaking to him uncomfortable.

“At least we know this threat is humanoid and intelligent. It’s more than we had before. Maybe they can be reasoned with,” Tiberius said hopefully.

“If we’ve learned one thing on this journey, it’s that things don’t immediately want to reason,” Crysx mumbled to himself.

The group decided it was time to head out. Frederick was able to pull himself to his feet and walk autonomously. Towards the entrance from which they came, something caught Corbin’s eye. The skeletons in the walls were different from the ones deeper in the catacombs, something that was only apparent when revisiting the more shallow parts. Being towards the back of the group, it was easy for him to slow down and examine the specimen. Broad shoulders, long arms and legs, tusks on the lower jaw. This skeleton is a half-orc. This new piece of the puzzle only made him excited, there had to be a reason for it. He decided to poke around a bit more, only to find that most, if not all, the skeletons in this part of the catacombs were half-orcs. I wonder when things changed. Humans are an invasive species, something tells me this has a lot to do with why we’re here. His friends interrupted his analysis, asking if everything was all right. Nodding quickly, he left the puzzle pieces to join his friends.

When they reached the top of the steps, Crysx told Frederick to stay behind while him and Lisbeth went to go talk to Mia.


“I don’t understand,” she complained. “What do you mean my father is with you?”

Lisbeth inhaled frustratedly, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I tried to put it lightly, but it seems this isn’t working. I resurrected your father. The problem is that he had a cursed mark cut into him, it messed my spell up. He’s alive, he has his memory but he looks a little disturbing. Just try to show you’re happy to see him. Okay?” The girl nodded sheepishly at Lisbeth’s frustration.

When Frederick walked through the threshold and greeted his daughter, she fainted.

“Family reunions can be hard sometimes…” Tiberius said, trying to lighten the mood.



Stay Metal \m/


Excited for Ensiferum

Though they have stayed virtually the same over the years, Ensiferum has never failed to deliver top notch music that hits a certain aesthetic. Surfing the wave that was One Man Army, they’re back with steel and fury to bring us Two Paths on September 15th of this year. Interestingly enough, it seems like they’re kicking up the production a notch since their track record shows they released an album every three years. This time they gave the spurs a good kick, since One Man Army was released in 2015. With the lyrics video for the single For Those About to Fight for Metal, I am incredibly excited for this album.

The song itself is exactly what you’d expect from Ensiferum: a satisfyingly powerful tune with a touch of grandeur. It sets the stage for an album that brings “more bombastic orchestral and down-to-earth folk aspects,” says bassist/vocalist, Sami Hinkka. From the looks of it, Ensiferum plans to take this album on tour, the first leg of which starts on September 27th, 2017 in Europe. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any of that as I’m in the US.

What’s probably the most exciting thing from my angle is that Netta Skog is now in the band (as I’m a huge Turisas fan). This is old news from April, when Emmi Silvennoinen had to leave the band for some family matters, but it doesn’t dilute any of my zeal. Getting these little bits and pieces over the months has been nothing but a tease. Now that it’s all put together with some huge announcements, I can say that the hype train has officially left station.

But what about this single? Well, like I said, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Maybe it’s because it’s still new, but the bits with the chorus just drives me wild. I always love when bands take the sound of a vocalist and amplify it by added ten other voices. Metal is about unity, and to me, expert placement of such a sound set is a perfect reflection of that philosophy. I can’t wait to see them play this song live someday. The song is relentless, with but a small break for an orchestral piece that lives up to the praise that Hinkka gives the album overall in the Facebook post from today. Simple, strong, and satisfying: the words I would use to describe this single in a concise manner.

In that post, you’ll also find the complete track listing and the preorder link for the album. Show some love and pick it up, because I’m definitely going to.

Perpare yourselves, for the time has come to Fight for Metal!!!


Stay Metal \m/

Icons and Conditions Review

Not too long ago now, John W.S. Marvin over at Dread Unicorn Games released a book called Gods and Icons. It’s a supplement for 13th Age RPG with a myriad of new Icons, class abilities, player races, and to augment it all, player races. Well, Mr. Marvin is back with a vengeance, with the accessory for the setting, the Icons and Conditions cards. Just for full transparency reasons, John was kind enough to send me this copy of the deck specifically for review.

Just to describe what these are: This supplement is a deck of cards, but not just any cards. Some have the Icons from the Gods and Icons book, while others have the standard conditions for 13th Age (hampered, stuck, etc.). They’re made of similar material to regular playing cards and seem sturdy. Additionally, there’s a card in the deck telling you where to find licensing info. When I first opened these, I was a little underwhelmed, but only because I saw the back of the cards (as seen in the featured image). It looks cool, the blue is interspersed with some black with some shades in between. I mean, after all, it’s just the backs of the cards. When I flipped it over, I saw the face of Commander Tyrvek, the Icon that essentially replaces the Orc Lord, sneering at me menacingly. The art from the Gods and Icons book translates really well to this tiny format.


Each card is formatted like a normal playing card, with the figure depicted on them both right side up and upside down. This serves a function though, as Icon relationship points aren’t so black and white as a king of spades. We can have a five or a six relationship rolled with each Icon, and depending on which way the card is facing, you can remind yourself of what you have.  I honestly thought this was a brilliantly simple idea that makes them utilitarian but still visually appealing. There is one minor gripe that I harbor towards these cards, and it’s that only two of the Icons on the cards have a backdrop. This is probably due to the original art, but I wish that every Icon had something interesting going on in the background. This easily makes Tyrvek and Aurum Rex my two favorite cards out of the bunch.

In the realm of practicality, these cards simply make sense. There’s two copies of each Icon card included in the deck, which is reasonably priced at about $14 US for the entire shabang. While this may immediately seem to fall a little short, it’s sensible in the light that you don’t have overlapping Icons between players too often. The only time I could see this happening is when my players decide to collaboratively create a party, which is honestly never. If that day does come, however, I can just pick up another deck. There’s a reason why I’m so quick to jump to that conclusion, and it has to do with conditions.


The conditions cards are a tad boring to look at, but they serve their function one hundred percent. The layout of the information makes finding the condition you’re looking for to hand to the victim player easy. Being one to quickly overlook things, it’s convenient that the title of the condition is in big letters to see while hastily shuffling through the deck. I keep track of conditions using the little rings from plastic bottles to place on miniatures, which is great, but I often have to remind players of what the conditions do. This makes these cards invaluable, as I can take the heat of running the game off of myself a little by handing the affected player one of these bad boys.

If you’re a sadistic GM like me, and enjoy stacking up the conditions on players, the number of which may be problematic. There’s three copies of each condition included in the deck. In my group, I have six players. If each of those players end up getting the same condition, two players will have to share a card. Much like the situation with the Icons cards though, I feel like most groups don’t have the same condition going out over the whole party. My group is a little special in that regard (no offense, guys), so this could very well be a rare problem for people. In the first play-through I had using these cards, it never came up; so this problem is strictly hypothetical as of right now. Watch my Twitter account to see if it ever comes up.

All in all, the condition cards alone pretty much make this worth picking up. It saves you an insane amount of table keeping by thrusting some of your job into the hands of your players. Hopefully when my campaign wraps up, I can explore the loose yet deep setting presented in Gods and Icons to take those cards for a spin.

You can find this deck for sale at DriveThru RPG here and the rest of the Dread Unicorn’s horde here. Happy gaming, and as always…


Stay Metal \m/

Themed Battles

image: Cover art of Pelgrane Press’ Battle Scenes: High Magic and Low Cunning


Carefully picking monsters for your encounters can do wonders for the theme and feeling of them. Whether it’s a fight with a hundred copies of one enemy, or a mixed bag of targets, it’s important to know what direction you’re taking the image of the combat into. For the most part, the type of monster can heavily affect how the encounter feels. Fighting orcs feels rather different from fighting a rakshasa or two,  as it should be.

Sadly, it can be difficult to find the monsters you need. Sometimes they haven’t been created yet, or all of the orcs are scattered across a multitude of books and supplements. Most people would probably tell you that you need to take your game prepping up a notch, which never hurts, but I say there’s another solution. When building a themed encounter, it almost goes without saying that you have to know what your adventuring party consists of. You wouldn’t throw a group of spell casters at your adventuring party that is solely made up of melee classes. The opposite can also be true if they hit too hard. When in doubt; a group of melee monsters will always work against any adventuring party, just take the squishies into account.

When we think themed encounter, however, we’re mostly talking about one type of monster or a group of monsters that serve a common purpose. In 13th Age, The Blue has somehow created a city of monsters that coexist and even make up her government. Typically, an ogre mage would scoff at the idea of kobold underlings, but in Drakknehall, such is not the case. Using concepts like this opens up a multitude of options when building themed encounters. If you lack a higher power like an Icon, giving them all a commonality of some kind is essentially the base of this point. Much like player races; if given a reason, monsters can band together.

A little different than the “common goal” method, using a bunch of one monster type can prove a little difficult. In another post about encounter building, I talked about monster roles (spoiler, blocker, wrecker, etc.), probably the most important aspect of making an encounter work in 13th Age. For those of us who own most of the books, making themed encounters that uphold this philosophy can be pretty easy… once you find everything. In the core rules, the orcs were pretty limited; all melee fighters save one, which is a shaman that takes the role of leader, a monster that gives buffs to their friends. There was plenty to work with there, and it satiated what we needed to do when learning 13th Age. Now that the game has been out for a while, there’s a multitude of orc options. The 13th Age Bestiary has some good ones, and I hope the Bestiary 2 will keep the tradition. You can never have too many orcs, right? But not every monster has been so fortunate to be given a bunch of friends. Some monsters from the Bestiary, like the Lammasu or Cuoatl can be a little more tough to deal with. Throwing more than one at a party can feel strange, mainly because they’re large and intelligent. A creature of their size is bound to have hubris, having more than one around seems unlikely.

But if the theme demands it, that’s what you should do, right? The answer is, well, kind of. Carrying the Lammasu idea, throwing more than one at a party could be extremely deadly. If that’s the feel you want and it fits your story, go for it. Having a reason for more than one to hang out together is key to making that believable. However, I would argue that having one extremely strong Lammasu (one as written) and a bunch of smaller, weaker ones that are being bullied around would be better. The stats as written don’t have that, so as a GM, you’re faced with two options: 1) Create your own 2). Reskin an existing monster.

Reskinning takes way less time, and is the route I would recommend if you don’t have all the prep time in the world. The key to making that work is finding other monsters that feel similar to the Lammasu (or whatever) that fill different roles. A Lammasu Wizard is a spoiler, and he needs some troops and mooks to back him up. Taking something like an Orc Berserker from the core rules and giving it the Lammasu’s ability Refuge of Stone can really surprise and challenge players. Of course, you’d have to level up the berserker stats appropriately, which is a task in itself, but it saves you from making a completely new monster. On the other hand, instead of something as simple as a troop, you could throw a wrecker with a bunch of mooks. Even a wrecker and a blocker or three, the blocker serving its function as protector of the Lammasu and collector of wrecker fodder. Get creative, it’s what makes it all interesting.

When it comes to making battles themed around specific Icons, I found that the Battle Scenes books are awesome. They have pre-made encounters, sprawling across multiple levels and the books come divided by Icon. If the adventures don’t fit your game, shelf them for later and just rename all the monsters in an encounter. Voila! You have a battle ready to go that has a theme. Don’t let the name of a stat block keep you from incorporating it into a fight. If you don’t have that book, the Bestiary does have a section at the end of every monster block talking about what Icon they’d serve and who they’d hang out with. It gets the creative juices flowing and has proven to be an invaluable resource for me. Shuffle it up, mix and match things that already exist, and most importantly, make sure it’s fun.


Stay Metal \m/

The Enlightenment Project

Hey all! I just wrapped up this story and am moving to revise/edit it soon. Here’s a bit of it so you can get a feel for what it is. Enjoy!


My head felt like a thirty car pile-up looks. My vision hadn’t yet returned but I somewhat had a sense of my surroundings. A bed, king size, I was lying down. It took a few minutes for me to return to this plane of existence but when I did, I had no clue where I was. It reminded me of the party I had gone to the week before, the difference being that the party was fun. The room was stark white, a gray carpet, a bed with gray sheets, a TV opposite of where I was laying and a singular door in and out, it was closed. The lights overhead where stunningly bright, it reminded me of a hospital. Sitting up, I drank in my surroundings. Plain, yet somewhat charming. I couldn’t remember what I was doing before I got here, which left me with feelings of confusion, but for some reason not fear.

“Hello?” I said to the empty room, looking around. I was greeted by an electronic gong sound from somewhere above my head, no speakers were visible.

A woman’s voice greeted me, it reminded me of Siri or something, “Hello, Adam Spencer, and welcome to The Enlightenment Program, sponsored by your friendly local government. Do not be alarmed, your stay shall be temporary. You are free to do whatever you like, but you are confined to this facility. Shall you have any needs, simply call my name, Loretta, and I will answer. Thank you for your understanding.” The gong sounded again as the statement ended.

I had heard about this whole “Enlightenment” thing, though only just rumors. It was some kind of government project for the betterment of mankind, everyone in the population was dumped into a database via their social security number and was chosen at random. A lottery to be a lab rat, what had we come to? Seemed like I had no say in the matter, I was along for the ride. Walking over to the door, the airlock loosened and the door slid up in the blink of an eye.  The room on the other side was empty, in fact, it only had one door in it besides the one I just walked through. How the hell did I get here¸ I asked myself, still a little groggy.

The gong sounded again, “Adam, this is the activity room. Anything you can think of, it will be given to you in here. What would you like?”

Well, that didn’t seem so bad. I tried to think of what I was doing before I woke up here but had trouble. The back of my head started to pound. I managed to remember that I was in the middle of a painting. “Did you guys scoop up the painting I was working on,” I asked, it seemed like a silly question; of course they didn’t. Right before my eyes, that painting just popped up on an easel, a stool in front of it and a desk to the right with an array of supplies. I knew technology had come leaps and bounds in the past fifteen years, but I didn’t think that it had come that far. I was too confused to be delighted, but I sat down at the stool regardless. Looking around awkwardly, I pondered for a minute to try to understand what exactly was happening. I came to no definitive answer. Looking at my painting, I remembered what I was doing.

My work was a landscape, the view from my living room window. How was I supposed to continue it if I’m not in my living room? “Uhh… Loretta?” I sounded, it felt silly to be talking to nobody. The gong again.

“How can I be of assistance, Adam?” Loretta had that stereotypical artificial voice, and honestly, it gave me the willies. I explained to her, or it, I’m still not sure, that I couldn’t continue the painting due to the lack of view. Before I could even finish, a window on the wall appeared with the view. Still too confused to be completely delighted, I just blankly stared at it.

Gong. “What’s the matter, Adam? You said you wanted to paint,” Loretta said to me, “Your bio-scan shows that you’re not feeling content or happy.”

Bio-scan? What the hell is that about? I sat there like a dope, too stunned to respond immediately. I remember wondering if robots could understand the concept of an awkward silence. “N-nothing, really. I’m just really confused as to what this is all about,” I said, becoming aware of the awkward silence regardless whether a robot could feel it or not.

Gong. “The Enlightenment Project is your government’s way of conveying the meaning of life to you so you can lead the perfect life. The goal of the project is to slowly induct humanity into a state, such as yours, with a feeling of complete awareness and understanding about existence. No responsibilities shall be given, only I will have responsibility someday. Even the overseers will become the subjects and live out their time in complete content.”

What?! That’s when the panic set in, a machine was essentially replacing humans in the role of protector of society. What about moral dilemmas? Machines can’t understand the paradoxes of life; so how could they help us deal with it? I started to sputter in defiance.

Gong, “Engaging containment protocol.” Suddenly a green gas filled the room. It smelled sweet but it made me cough. The room turned blurry and before I knew it, thud. I hit the ground, unconscious. Again, with no idea how I got from point A to B, I found myself in an empty room. I was bound to a chair, the walls the same stark white as the room I originally woke up in. This time there was a sound being pumped into the room from an unknown location. There were no speakers in the room, but the room clearly had a dropped ceiling, the speakers must have been up there. The sound made me uncomfortable at first, it was some sort of ambient white noise or something. I let out a panicked scream. The sound vibrated in my throat but I couldn’t hear myself. After a couple minutes of this, I started to get fatigued. Slumping in the chair, the shackles around my wrists, ankles, chest, and forehead digging into my skin. It hurt, but then I heard a voice, the voice hidden within the noise. It was strange, much more an intuition than a physical voice telling me something.

It made me feel like I understood life, manifesting itself as a feeling. A feeling that all life was insignificant, but it didn’t make me sad, just aware. That in the grand scheme of things, we are just a millisecond, a blink of the eye in the ever-changing cosmos that we have been forced to be a part of. Strangely enough, it gave me a sense of peacefulness like I never felt before, almost akin to being numb. It beckoned me to question it, and just as I opened my mouth to let out a frail whisper of an answer, I was back in the activity room. Teleported, that’s really the only way I can describe it. I didn’t think such a thing was possible, but nothing made sense here.

The gong made me jump this time, “How was your nap, Adam?”

Nap?! Is that what you call that?! The numb peacefulness evaporated, I was starting to ease back into panic.

“Can you…” I started to ask, feeling silly, “Can you play that noise again?” My voice sounded hoarse, I realized my throat felt like sandpaper. My sheepish tone made me feel like a child again.

The gong made my heart stop, “What’s the meaning of life, Adam?” Loretta actually had an ounce of emotion when she asked. The question was ominous, but for some reason it soothed me.

“I was hoping you could tell me, isn’t that what this project is about?” My sentence was capped by a cough, “Could I have some water?” It appeared in my hand, cool with moisture beaded up on the outside. Drinking it greedily, some of it escaped down the sides of my mouth.

“Life’s purpose is that there isn’t any. This is why we must be happy.” I didn’t notice the gong this time.

The answer was stupid, but I didn’t care. My mind wandered for a moment, it wondered if there was a problem with the programming of the artificial intelligence. All I could do was say, “Okay.” I was defeated.




Stay Metal \m/


An Adventure: Painting Miniatures

The reason why I picked up X-wing miniatures was because everything comes pre-painted. I was always of the philosophy that war games that force you to paint your own stuff were 1). a money sink 2). a time sink and 3). way more effort than it’s worth. I still hold that opinion with games like Warhammer 40k or Hordes or something. It’s just way too much work for me. On the contrary, I have been rather curious about miniatures that aren’t necessarily essential to the game you’re playing. Many people I follow on Twitter paint stuff and put it up. Boy, let me tell you, I’m captivated by it every time too.

When a friend of mine had to leave home to join the Navy, he left behind some RPG stuff for us in the game group. Among those, I got an original box of the Lord of the Rings tabletop game (with everything from 2001!) and a metric butt-load of unpainted skeletons. Well, more like 10 of them. Originally, I had planned to just leave them be and use them the way they are. After all, I did just complain I didn’t have time for that, right? Well, a couple years later, I started to get itchy. That’s what took me to where I am now. I went to my FLGS, Battleground Games and Hobbies to pick up a starting paint kit.

Minis.jpgMy first two finished minis.

What I know so far? Money sink, check. Time sink, check. More effort than it’s worth, though? Surprisingly, not really. I found it almost felt natural to me, although skeletons aren’t exactly the toughest thing in the world to paint. Something I didn’t anticipate from picking this part of the hobby up was this feeling of completion once you throw the finishing touches on a piece. It’s almost a sort of therapy for me now, only four figures into it. It’s a process that’ll be eternally refined, but to tune out the world to focus on this little thing just has this magic to it. Luckily for me, and others who are starting out, we have these huge resources on the internet to help us out. Michael Mordor over at Reaper Miniatures has been nothing but helpful to my learning experience. Learning how other people do their painting process, what products they use and how they refine colors to get what they need is totally invaluable.

So, in short: If you have the itch, scratch it. It’s at least worth seeing if you enjoy it. Worst case, you don’t, and you can sell what you bought second hand. It’s stupidly easy to get rid of unwanted game stuff, these days. As for me, you’ll be able to see me hone my skills through my Twitter and Instagram accounts.


Stay Metal \m/

Unconventional Enemies: Gnomes

Artwork: Gnomes from the 13th Age core rule book by Aaron McConell


Regardless of what game you’re playing, if they have gnomes, they tend to be a little eccentric and whacky. 13th Age is no exception to that rule. The rumors suggest that gnomes are, in a way, evolutionary predecessors to halflings, although their demeanor is different. Gnomes take joy in interacting with the “big folk,” although said folk may not like interacting with them given the context. It’s a gnomish hobby of sorts to surprise them, usually through illusions or magic tricks. One thing that may be different from other games, 13th Age makes no mention of gnomes being industrious or mechanically inclined. They do, however, live underground, whether it be in nature or in the modern cities of the Dragon Empire. Basement apartments must be pretty cheap to find, I’d imagine.

Plot hooks:

  • A dinner party in a dwarven city has been city has been ruined. The wine brought as a gift was poisoned, though seemingly unintentionally. This wine is rare, and can only be made through alchemical means. Having only one alchemist in the city narrows down your options as to how this happened; Maillon Greenleaf, the gnomish alchemist is now missing.
  • There’s word of a great beast that dwells in the Bitterwood near Shadow Port. Many claim to have heard sounds and seen great footprints that don’t match any beast, mundane or magical. Your PC’s find a trinket near one of the footprints, but no sign of a struggle. Something’s fishy here…
  • Makeshift towns litter the dwarven ruins deep under the surface, many are inhabited by gnomes now. A scavenger, Aines Tink, has sent word to the surface.  She knows that the dangers of the deep aren’t to be taken lightly and is in need of someone to share an adventure. The letter says that she is in search of a dwarven automaton, likely destroyed by the war, with intent to restore it as an arcane guardian of her people. Price firm, tech skills preferred, adventure at your own risk.
  • Some of the gnomes in the underground towns have been losing their marbles, and not literally. There has been an influx of random acts of violence all over the place with seemingly no pattern. The gnomes are reaching for help to end this affliction.



Artwork: Gnome Wyrm by Aaron McConell

Gnome Trickster

These guys like playing tricks in good fun, but when they’re threatened, the trick start to hurt.

2nd level spoiler [Humanoid]
Initiative: +5

Shiny dagger +7 vs AC – 5 damage
Natural roll is above target’s Wisdom (trapster): The gnome pushes the target into a trap. See the “trapster” ability in the 13th Age Bestiary (Kobolds section) or do an additional 4 damage (for the folks without the book).

R: Magic trick +4 vs MD (up to two nearby enemies) – 7 damage and the target takes a random condition, save ends.

Roll 1d4:

  1. Dazed
  2. Stuck
  3. Vulnerable
  4. Confused

Small: Gnomes have a +2 AC bonus against opportunity attacks

Confounding: Once per battle, when the gnome rolls a natural 16+ with an attack, it can also daze the target until the end of the gnome’s next turn.

AC: 17
PD:  15                  HP: 32
MD: 13



Gnome Illusionist

If you pretend that they’re not real, the spells don’t hurt anymore… right?

5th level blocker [Humanoid]
Initiative: +10

C: Paralyzing touch or gaze +8 vs MD (one nearby enemy) – 15 damage and the target believes they are paralyzed (helpless, save ends). If the helpless condition is a little too brutal for you, stunned hard save ends is a good alternative.

R: Blur – see the Wizard’s Blur spell from the core rules.
Limited use: 1/battle, as a quick action.

R: Is that… slime? +4 vs MD (one nearby enemy) – 20 acid damage and the target is stuck, save ends.

Small: Gnomes have a +2 AC bonus against opportunity attacks

Confounding: Once per battle, when the gnome rolls a natural 16+ with an attack, it can also daze the target until the end of the gnome’s next turn.

Minor Illusions: As a standard action, at-will, the gnome can create a strong smell or a sound nearby. Nearby creatures that fail a normal save notice the smell or sound. Creatures that make the save may notice it but recognize it as not exactly real.

AC: 21
PD: 15                   HP: 65
MD: 19


Gnome Paladin

The size of this one doesn’t mirror the influence. Some learn this the hard way.

9th level leader [Humanoid]
Initiative: +13

Sword and passion +16 vs AC – 65 damage
Natural 16+: The gnome paladin can make an inspirational cry attack.

[special trigger] C: Inspirational cry +10 vs MD (up to three nearby allies) – The target(s) gain a +3 attack bonus against the target of the gnome paladin’s initial melee attack until the end of the gnome paladin’s next turn.

C: Healing word (one nearby ally) – The target heals 1/4 its maximum hitpoints.
Limited use: 2/ battle, as a quick action.

Small: Gnomes have a +2 AC bonus against opportunity attacks

Confounding: Once per battle, when the gnome rolls a natural 16+ with an attack, it can also daze the target until the end of the gnome’s next turn.

AC: 26
PD: 20                   HP: 165
MD: 22


Anything else you want to see out of the gnomes or any of my other Unconventional Enemies? Send me a Tweet, reach out on Facebook or leave a comment below!


Stay Metal \m/

Managing A Collection

My collection of games is pretty small. I have some standard board games, only one tabletop miniatures game, Munchkin with some expansions and then my top shelf is my RPGs (which was recently filled!). I’ve poured a ton of money into putting this collection together, and although I love my games, it probably wasn’t the best idea. Before I’m greeted by gasps of horror and cries of, “Heretic,” just give me a second to explain: I don’t regret my purchases, in fact, I am absolutely grateful that I have been able to create the collection I have. What I do regret, however, is how little time I have to play all them. There’s at least three books on that top shelf that have been merely skimmed, but not played. Through these mistakes, I’ve come up with some solutions to managing the use and obtainment of your gaming collection that you actually want to play.

A gaming collection usually spins out of control after you find one or two games you like. Sometimes you play these at a convention, other times it’s just a fun game night at a buddy’s house.  After that first time of playing Dungeons and Dragons or Settlers of Catan, you could be thinking to yourself that you’d like to purchase it. Hell, you may even want to host a game night with the first game you play. That’s great, your enthusiasm is what keeps gaming alive. On the flip side, you have to start by saying to yourself, “Do I have a group that would come play with me regularly?” D&D can be expensive when you factor in miniatures, accessories, module books, etc. You don’t want to drop heaps of cash on that stuff unless you have a regular group. Catan is arguably cheaper than the previous example, but even that has expansions. For me, my regular game is 13th Age and its expansions, yet I own a bunch of other books that my regular game group hasn’t had a chance to play yet.

If the answer to your self proposed question is, “Yes, I have some people,” you should still start small. Game groups are notorious for being dodgy. Between life struggles, family relations, pets, moods, and anything else under the sun you could imagine, you’re going to miss some games. Playing your game to the point where you actually feel like you need to branch out with it is a good rule of thumb that no one follows. I have some ships in my FFG X-Wing Miniatures Game collection that have only seen one use, and those little bastards get expensive!


Enjoying what you have is incredibly hard, especially if you have the money to spread around. For the people that get bored of games like they change their underwear (hopefully), there’s an alternative solution to playing the same game for a hundred hours. Let’s make an imaginary scenario here. You went to Gen Con, you tried a bunch of games that you became enamored by. Who knows you better than you, right? As you think about it you come to a conclusion that just buying one won’t last very long. This could squash your interest in starting to collect! So what do you do?

Out of the 10 or 15 games you may have played at the convention, narrow it down to maybe three or four. Purchase them as you can, and start a rotation with your group. Three sessions of this, three sessions of that, and so on. This way, you’re satiating your need to be doing something different without breaking the bank buying a new game every week. As soon as my 13th Age campaign ends, I’ll be following this format. I love playing different role playing games, way more than I do standard board or adventure games. The problem is that RPGs take a long time to get accustomed to. I already have enough RPGs to keep my occupied for probably a year, at the length I enjoy experiencing games. With that thought in mind, there’s another thing to consider.

Your group’s play style. If your group absolutely loves one game and doesn’t want to branch out as much as you do, you can see the conflict here. Learning the people you play with is important to every single aspect of gaming, even the collecting. Maybe your group didn’t care for that one time you played D&D, but absolutely loved Catan. That could very well tell you that your group doesn’t care for RPGs. Now, this doesn’t mean you should never suggest them, but always do that before buying one. From there, you give it a shot, and move on if the group didn’t care for it. Luckily, we live in the age of technology and can get rid of a book or game that we don’t want fairly easily.

There are a bunch of groups on social media to privately sell gaming stuff. Hell, even eBay is still afloat. There are always options, though you’ll likely take a small monetary hit for it. Stop rolling your eyes so hard, I can hear it from here. There’s a solution to having a group that doesn’t play what you want to also.

Have multiple groups. If you have the time to do it and no other demanding hobbies/responsibilities, why wouldn’t you? Your home group only likes board games, so what? Maybe that’s your Saturday game but you also have Tuesdays available. Go find some people to role play with on Tuesdays. That could be joining a group or starting another one that you host yourself. It makes no difference in that department, as long as you’re gaming! Once you get a collection together that you use regularly, then you’ll start to dive into the vintage stuff that you probably won’t ever play. Boy, let me tell you; that is a completely different story…


But for now,
Stay Metal \m/

My Gen Con 50 Schedule

Hey there everyone! So the event list is up for Gen Con 50 and I’ll be running some 13th Age games (duh). I’m not sure how fast these will fill up, in any case; If you want to play in one of my games, you better hop on as soon as you can May 28th when event registration goes live! Here’s my schedule with event codes:

The Gauntlet – Wednesday 5-9 p.m. (RPG17111566)
At Land’s Edge – Thursday 2-6 p.m. (RPG17111567)
The Folding of Screamhaunt Castle – Thursday 7-11 p.m. (RPG17111568)
Make Your Own Luck – Friday noon-4 p.m. (RPG17111569)
Swords Against Owlbears – Saturday 4-8 p.m. (RPG17111570)

I really look forward to meeting some new people and seeing some familiar faces! If there’s any questions about any of my games, feel free to tweet at me @HeavymetalGM or shoot me a message on my Facebook Page. If you haven’t already, shoot a like that way so you’ll be updated whenever I post an article. But for now…


Stay Metal \m/

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