Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Castle Ravenloft Adventurers 01

Not so long ago I bought the Dungeons and Dragons board-game, Castle Ravenloft produced by Wizards of the Coast. It is designed for 1 - 5 players, where the players control one or more adventurers. Villains and monsters are controlled by the game mechanics. There are five adventurers to use in the game.
All five adventurers have four game stats - Armour Class (AC), Hit Points (HP), Speed and Surge Value. AC determines how hard they are to hit. If a monster rolls equal to or higher than the character's AC they will wound that character. Rolls are made on 1d20. HP determines how much damage a character can take before being knocked out. Speed denotes how many squares on the game board a character may move in a single turn (diagonal movement is allowed). Surge Value denotes how many HP a character may recover if they use a Surge Token when knocked out. Surge Tokens are shared by the party so anyone can use them but they are rare. It is recommended that a party start with just two Tokens for the whole party.
The adventurers start with 4 - 5 special Powers, chosen from a list of 10, to aid them in their quest. Allisa starts with 4, whilst the rest start with 5. All Heroes start at 1st Level and may advance to 2nd Level if they roll a natural 20 on 1d20 when attacking a monster, providing they have a minimum of 5 Experience Points to spend. Experience is gained by defeating the dungeon monsters. When a Hero reaches 2nd Level they increase their AC by 1, their HP by 2 and their Surge Value by 1HP. In addition, if they roll a natural 20 when attacking they deal +1 damage.
At the far left of my two photos is Arjhan, a Dragon-born Fighter. He is a mighty warrior, born to a clan of draconic humanoids. He has never lost a battle and has come to drive evil out of the ruins of Castle Ravenloft. His stats are AC17, HP10, Speed 5 and Surge Value 5HP, making him the most powerful of the Heroes. He has the special ability, Defender. When another Hero is on the same tile as him, he or she gains a +1 bonus to AC.
Standing next to him is Thorgrim, a Dwarf Cleric. He is a champion of the dwarven gods, sent to eradicate the evil deep inside Castle Ravenloft. His stats are AC16, HP8, Speed 5 and Surge Value 4HP. He has the special ability, Aid. At the end of his Hero Phase, if he did not attack, one other Hero on his tile regains 1HP.
In the centre of the group is Allisa, a Human Ranger. She is a master of bow and blade with keen senses and dungeon skills. She is determined to stop the evil of Castle Ravenloft. Her stats are AC15, HP8, Speed 6 and Surge Value 4HP. She has the special ability Scout. During her Exploration Phase, she can explore one unexplored edge on her tile even if she is not adjacent to it.
Fourth in line is Kat, a Human Rogue. She is stealthy and sneaky and a master of sudden strikes and quick escapes. She laughs at danger and has come to Castle Ravenloft to satisfy her curiosity and acquire treasure. Her stats are AC14, HP8, Speed 6 and Surge Value 4HP. She has the special ability Trap Expert. She gains a +5 bonus to rolls to disable traps. Traps are always disabled on a result of 10+ on 1d20.
Last in line is Immeril, an Eladrin Wizard. He is a powerful spell-caster from the magical lands of the Feywild. He seeks arcane knowledge and magical treasure from the ruins of Castle Ravenloft. His stats are AC14, HP6, Speed 6 and Surge Value 3HP, making him the weakest member of the party, statwise. He has the special ability Lore. While another Hero is on the same tile as him, he or she gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls.
The figures are made of a soft plastic and come unpainted. I added sand and gravel to their bases before I painted them. They took acrylic paint very well. My views on them are as follows -
Arjhan He is my least favourite hero. I have nothing against the sculpt of the figure - it is the concept of the character that I dislike so much. To me, a Dragon-born Fighter seems like it has been designed by a Munchkin for a Munchkin player... and I HATE Munchkin players! They are just a pain in the arse, as I know from personal experience. He even comes with the Dragon's Breath Power, which is totally Munchkin! It is for this reason that he gets left out of any party of four or less that I choose.
Thorgrim I have nothing against him, either as a sculpted figure or character concept. Although he is a Cleric he is powerful enough to make a worthy stand-in for the Dragon-born Fighter. He is a good solid Dwarf and his healing ability makes him a must-have choice.
Allisa My favourite character from this group. I love the way she has been sculpted and her pose is spot on. My only criticism of her is that she is not armed with a bow, but that is only a minor criticism.
Kat Exactly what you'd expect from a Rogue. Another great sculpt. I do have a soft spot for strong female characters. In case you're wondering what she's throwing from her right hand, it's a dart. It was a no-brainer to paint her all in black.
Immeril I had never heard of the Eladrin before. He looks very Elvish, so I presume the Eladrin are a race of Elves. He is fragile in combat but he comes with some powerful spells that can prove decisive. I have no strong feelings about him. As with the others, he is well sculpted, and I do like that fireball he's about to cast.
All in all, a good selection of Heroes, although I'd happily swap the Dragon-born Fighter for a Fighter from another race. 

18 comments:

  1. The start of what I fear could be another very enthralling series of postings which will ultimately hurt my wallet, Bryan :-) I actually like the Arjhan mini paint-job best of all, but as you say I do struggle with dragon-warriors as a concept for gaming. Lizardmen I adore but dragon-kin I feel are a bit meh. Just my opinion anyway and I'm sure there are plenty of Draconian players out there who love their race's lore. Just not my cup of tea. This game on the other hand, does sound rather enticing, so I hope you'll be rounding this definitive series off with a BatRep ;-)

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    1. I'm like you, Simon, in that I like Lizardmen (I once collected a Lizardmen army for Warhammer many years ago). Also, I have nothing against the Dragonkin monsters in Super Dungeon Explore. Dragonkin as bad guys is fine with me. But Dragon-born player characters does not sit well with me. Too powerful and too naff.

      The game itself is rather good, but of course I am biased because it very heavily deals with the undead. If you like the undead as much as I do then buying the game is a no-brainer. As for hurting your wallet, Amazon have it on sale for a smidgeon over £40, which is good value for a miniatures-based board-game these days.

      You read my mind! I do intend to finish off my figures reviews with a batrep.

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  2. Dragonborn? In Ravenloft? Would be immediately rounded up by peasants with pitchforks and torches and burnt at the stake. Interesting selection of figures. The elf (I refuse to bow down to the current trends) is a popular sculpt, having been originally a D&D miniature, then a Heroscape one. Anyway, stop teasing us, Bryan, and bring on the undead!

    Regards Jez

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    1. Ah, Jez, you're a man after my own heart. The undead will appear in abundance in my next few posts starting off with the boss-man himself - Count Strahd Von Zarovich.

      I do like your thoughts on the peasants and how they'd react to a guy looking like a dragon. Burning at the stake or an old-fashioned hanging seems about right to me!

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  3. I am quite interested in this Brian. I look forward to reading more as I might imagine a club player buying the game.

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    1. Thanks, Clint. Next time I'll start reviewing the bad guys and then I'll finish off with a batrep. I like the fact that the game can be played solo but the more the merrier if you can attract the numbers.

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  4. I'm quite torn by this. On the one hand, here are all the traditional "dungeon hero" cliches as expected (though I find the idea of an adventuring warrior woman quite risible when one considers medieval Europe's attitudes to sexual equality). Such stereotypes are good, because they're immediately recognisable :-) .

    On the other hand, there's nothing particularly inventive or original about either the sculpts or the characters which they represent. That's dull :-( .

    Ah, maybe I'm just over-thinking this. If the game is good then the playing pieces can be anything you like...

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    1. I have to say, Hugh, that fantasy gaming is a whole new ballgame to historical Medieval gaming, even though they share some similarities. But, I take your argument on board. I like the game for what it is, which is a simple dungeon crawl fighting the undead.

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  5. Oooh cool, D&D miniatures from the Adventure System Boardgame, at last. yeeey!!

    most interesting Bryan. Incedentally, Eladrin are not really elves, but were in fact introduced in the D&D "Planescape" setting of AD&D 2nd and D&D 3rd edition of the game. They were described (in Planescape) as being `celestial` often chaotic good alignment, and come from an inner dimensional plane - called Arborea. However, in the D&D 4th edition, Eladrin were defined as a race of fey beings, closely akin to elves. Eladrin`s skin is usually depicted as being slightly blue hued; preferring adornment of yellows, greens, pale blues and silver.

    Dragonkin are a part of the Dragonborn collective. They are a race of draconic creatures native to Abeir (Toril's long sundered twin... or The Forgotten Realms). Originally a big part of the Dragonlance Chronicles, they were syphoned into WotC`s official game world(s) after a ton of fan letters all asking for them to be `bought up to spec` for use in the Realms. They are closely tied in history with the Tel'Quessir (Elves) and share a strange inter woven past. Adornment is usually lacquered armour, in tones of buff red, bronze and ruby green.

    They are not my most favourite D&D race, especially not as heroes at any rate... so I simply use mine as NPC Lizardmen, and away we go, problem solved.

    Allisa is wearing branded mail (like the Roman Link Mail), buff and lacquered, so I t-h-i-n-k should really be in brown, with rivet links of plate (gunmetal).

    All in all, these are nicely done, with an interesting take on a few depictions. Never one to stick to `what`s right`, I often like to see deviation from the norm; even if I am a mine of information of the D&D world(s) I`ve never been one to say "this is how such and such HAS to be painted". Many do I know, but I like originality.

    Can`t wait to see the rest Bryan.... really nice start :)))

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    1. Many, many thanks for your insight, Steve. You clearly know FAR more about D&D than I do and I bow to your knowledge. I know absolutely nothing about "Planescape" so I would never have made that connection. I do know a lot about "Dragonlance" but nothing at all about the Dragonkin as player characters. Personally, my ignorance of such history does not bother me at all. I'm happy to stick with what I do know about the lands of Barovia, which nowadays is mostly forgotten!

      As for the painting of the figures I simply chose colours that appealed to me without giving any thought to "what's right". For example, I have no idea what the Dragonkin's skin colouration should be. I simply thought he'd look cool painted with crimson skin.

      Next post features the vampires of Castle Ravenloft, which naturally means, Strahd Von Zarovich. Watch this space!

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    2. Meh, the good thing about Borovia is..... well, ALL the mist shrouded lands (of Ravenloft), they were all designed to be `floating` lands, for Dungeon Masters to be able to `drop into` his own campaigns as whim demanded.... the travellers wandered through the thick blanket mists... mists which seemed to swirl about their horses feet with near sentience; causing everyone, especially the animals, to become skittish, uneasy and apprehensive.... "Where are we, I don`t recognise this path at all, we should have arrived at Waterdeep hours ago!"

      Ravenloft allowed you to drop horror side quests into your standard game at the drop of a hat, or use it as complete self contained sandbox. All in all, Ravenloft allows you to use characters and heroes from ANY and ALL different game worlds, both official world or/and home brew ones.

      Your colours are fine Bryan. Meh, does it matter if you follow the descriptions, photos and artwork laid down by TSR and later by Wizards of the Coast? Not at all, its fantasy. You paint everything how YOU want it to be.

      Hell, in my fantasy D&D world, I even have blue Goblins.

      Can`t WAIT to see your Vampire minis :))





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    3. It's true that the actual whereabouts of Barovia was never entirely clear... unless I missed something. Like you said, I always believed it to be a setting you could drop into any game world anywhere and at any time. Equally, it could disappear just as mysteriously as it arrived.

      I do hope you like my Castle Ravenloft vampires, especially since teasing you about using a totally different figure for Strahd. All will be revealed on Sunday.

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  6. Quote

    (though I find the idea of an adventuring warrior woman quite risible when one considers medieval Europe's attitudes to sexual equality).

    D&D was invented, takes its history not from Medieval history, not even Middle Earth, but has its origins in things like Mort De Camp, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Frirz Leiber, and Mervyne Peake, all of which were fiction writers (and first generation ones at that) who based their worlds on the almost Pre-Raphaelite notion that `anything new should not come from the past`, as such, the chain mail bra on women fighters, skimpy clad wardresses, and Bodacious female Clerics and rangers is pure imagination.... I`d say a valid part of Dungeons and Dragons (as laid down by Gygax and Arnson) hehe.

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    1. Well said, Steve! Fantasy gaming is all about the imagination and goes way beyond real life history. To your list of notable authors I must add Robert E. Howard who introduced me to fantasy fiction with his "Conan" series. I am sure there must be others who influenced Gygax and Arneson in creating D&D.

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  7. I wish you many happy hours with this project Bryan! The obvious care and attention you've lavished on these adventurers suggests you've already had quite a few. Fantasy gaming just doesn't scratch my itch I'm afraid, I didn't back Black Plague for that very reason, even though it was Zombicide. I'm way happier blowing away my monsters with an automatic shotgun, keeping the chainsaw for the up close and personal moments.
    I guess we just have different tastes in our gaming flavours Dude! So while you have your fun, I'll try and continue surviving the ordeal of putting together my modern zombie apocalypse.

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    1. Thanks, Bob. Yes, I like this game and the figures, too. Of course we have different gaming tastes and I'm glad we do. It'd be a very sad world if we didn't.

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  8. Nice work they look really cool. They remind very much of Castlevania characters which is not a bad thing!

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    1. Thanks, Simon. Yes, I can see a similarity as well.

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