New GM – Session 7

Real life (specifically exams and illness) has meant that our semi-regular sessions had to be pushed back a couple of times, but last week we finally managed to get together again. I was a little bit rusty, given that I had prepared for the session several weeks ago, so I flipped through the pages of the Rise of the Runelords book to refresh my memory.

RipnuggetAs my biggest challenge so far has been remembering what all the spells and abilities of the NPCs do, I made myself a little document with details of abilities that enemies were likely to use in combat. This helped me make the fights more challenging and more interesting.

The session started off slowly as we recapped events from last time, and then the party decided to avoid the rigged ridge and find an alternative way to Thistletop. They climbed down the Howling Hole into the lair of a rather angry bunyip, a seal-like creature with shark-like teeth. This nearly ended in the death of our monk, but the others arrived in time to assist him.

After grabbing some treasure from the beast’s lair, the group headed out and decided to swim across to Thistletop and scale the cliffs. Our sorcerer preferred to use a potion of levitate that he had, and waited for the other two at the top. This is where I learned how irritating skills like climb and swim can be. I had the players make numerous checks to get across the sea and up the cliffs, when in hindsight they probably could have taken 10 – although they had made quite a ruckus leading up to this point, the goblins weren’t expecting them to climb up the side of their island.

Needless to say, the session also taught me about several other skills. Perception is a tricky one for me, especially when I know there’s a hidden door right in front of the party… but they failed the check to notice it by 2 points… It seems almost unfair to me, to know they’re missing out on extra treasure, and it’s torturous for me to not say anything! But I feel it is important for the players to explore on their own, and not be nudged in the right direction all the time.

Further in the dungeon, we came across other challenges. One was the diplomacy skill. For me, this skill roll needs to be accompanied with roleplaying in order to succeed. As I’m not a fantastic actress, this was challenging both for my players as well as me. I hope to be a little better at it next session!

We also came a bit unstuck with the monk’s new Snake Style feat, which we hadn’t used before and so I was a little unprepared for how powerful it was. Some research after the session helped me find a solution I was happy with, and also showed me that I had been allowing that player to use the ability incorrectly! All in all, I learnt a great deal during this session, but it was a lot of fun as well.

Highlight of the session was Warchief Ripnugget’s pet gecko Stickfoot landing a critical hit on one of our heroes. It was a glorious moment, followed by poor Stickfoot, his master, and the surrounding goblins being incinerated by a well-timed fireball from our sorcerer!

Star Wars Lego hits New York

It’s been a bit of a slow week on the blog, with my regular Pathfinder game cancelled due to the GM losing her voice, and my minifigure shipment being delayed, but I found this bit of news:


Lego has built and just revealed the largest Lego model ever – a Star Wars X-wing fighter. It’s constructed from over 5 million bricks and is right in the middle of Times Square, New York. Apparently it took 32 designers 17 000 hours to build (?!), which sounds crazy, but that’s what it says on the Lego Facebook page. They also have plenty more photos of the model.

As cool as the X-wing is, it was this Lego Chewbacca that really caught my eye! He’s somewhat bigger than the Chewie minifigure I posted about a few weeks ago.


Minifig Monday 8

ClownAnother Monday, another minifig. Today we have the short clown from Minifig Series 5. He has a stylish blue hat with a flower that probably shoots water at fellow minifigs. He also has an awesome cream pie, perfect for starting food fights.

Now, with at least three things to set him apart from the other minifigs in this series (short legs, hat, pie), you have to wonder how on earth I ended up with three of these clowns..!

The Hobbit in Lego

lego hobbits

Earlier this week I had a look at the cost o f collecting the fellowship of the Ring in minifigures. Today I intend to find out what it would cost me to add the 13 dwarves from The Hobbit to my collection. This is a little easier, given that each of the 13 dwarves is only available in a single set.

First up is the Unexpected Gathering set. This set features Bag End, Bilbo’s home, and is a set I would be quite tempted to get. It costs R1199 or about $70, but it does come with a lot of minifigs: Balin, Bofur, Bombur and Dwalin, as well as Gandalf and Bilbo. That’s 4 of the dwarves right there, but it still works out to about R200 per minifig. Each of the dwarves in this set can be picked up for about R55 on BrickLink. That’s about R220 so far.

Next is the Barrel Escape, a moderately priced set at R749 ($40). This set has the dwarves Óin and Glóin, plus a couple of Mirkwood elves and Bilbo. (If you’re interested in Bilbo, he goes for R25 or R45 on BrickLink, depending on which outfit he’s wearing.) That’s two more dwarves, at around R150 each. On BrickLink, they’re about R75 each, bringing our running total to R370 for 6 dwarves.

To get Thorin Oakenshield, as well as Bifur, you’ll need the Attack of the Wargs set. This one features a big tree and some orcs to attack it, plus two wargs and Yazneg. At R799 ($50) for the set, that’s R160 per minifig, not counting the wargs. Considering you can grab Thorin for around R50 and Bifur for R40 at BrickLink, you’re not getting a great deal on this set if you’re only interested in the dwarves. At this point, we’d have spent R460 on 8 dwarves.

Next up is the Goblin King Battle, the most expensive Hobbit set at R1499 ($99). This large set includes three dwarves, Dori, Ori and Nori, plus Gandalf, some goblins, and the large goblin king. Still, that’s R190 per minifig. On BrickLink, you’re looking at just under R70 for each dwarf. So that will bring our total to R670 for 11 dwarves.

The final two dwarves, Fili and Kili, appear in the Escape from Mirkwood Spiders set. This scene is not actually in the first Hobbit movie, and features Legolas in his Mirkwood armour, and a female elf called Tauriel. Both dwarves can be purchased for around R40 (the elves cost about R50 each). The cost of the set is around R430 ($30), meaning a cost of around R105 per minifig. If we add these last two dwarves to our collection, our total for all 13 dwarves would be R750.

Final calculations

Bought individually, the dwarves will set you back at least R750, assuming you can get them at the lowest possible price, and not including any shipping fees. However, if you buy all five sets, you’re looking at a whopping R4675. I think the look on Bilbo’s face below sums up my thoughts on that price!


The Lord of the Minifigs


If you’re anything like me, while you might like the ‘generic’ minifigs that come in the blind packet series, you might also be yearning for some of your favourite movie characters in minifig form. Last week I revealed my favourite minifigure in my collection, Queen Amidala. She was part of the Gungan Sub set, which is very nice, but I don’t really have anywhere to display it. And the set cost R999, making her a fantastically expensive minifigure.

This brings me to my current dilemma. I would really love to have the entire fellowship from The Lord of the Rings, not to mention all the dwarves from The Hobbit as well. As you can see from the above-mentioned price, Lego is rather expensive in South Africa. Admittedly, it’s not really cheap anywhere, but if we look at the recommended price of that Gungan Sub set, US$70, that works out to around R640. So here we’re paying nearly R400 extra on this particular set. There are similar mark ups for other Lego sets, probably due to shipping costs and other fees related to the import of the product. Either way, it’s a lot of money for a few minifigures.

This prompted me to investigate the possibility of simply buying the minifigures I wanted online, but I wasn’t sure if this would actually be more cost effective. So I decided to actually sit down and work out some numbers.

Let’s have a look at collecting all nine minifigures in the fellowship of the Ring. (There are a couple of Lord of the Rings Lego sets on the way later this year, but I’ll just look at what’s available right now.)

SamwiseGamgeeSamwise Gamgee

Sam is only available in the set Shelob Attacks. The set also contains Frodo and a Gollum with a unique expression. So a solid start to the collection, with two of the nine fellowship members plus Gollum.

The set costs R349 ($20). That’s R116 per minifig… not a great deal, really. The rest of the set is Shelob herself, and a small cave. Nice, but I doubt I would want to display Shelob. Over on BrickLink, Sam is going for a little over R50. While I’m at it, Gollum is going for somewhere in the region of R45.

MerryMeriadoc Brandybuck

Another hobbit only found in one set. This time it’s Attack on Weathertop. This is a rather nice set that includes Weathertop itself, as well as the Ring, Sting, and numerous other weapons accessories. There are also two ringwraiths on black horses, plus Aragorn and Frodo.

This is a large and expensive set, however. It costs R800 ($60), working out at R160 per minifig. That’s even worse than the last set, Meanwhile, you can pick up Merry at BrickLink for a little over R50. Aragorn is sitting around the R40 mark.

LegolasLegolas Greenleaf

Next up is Legolas. He comes in two variations, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The version shown here is his LOTR outfit, which is currently only available in the Mines of Moria set. Sometime this year, he will also be available in the Pirate Ship Ambush set.

The Mines of Moria is a large and therefor expensive set: R1199 or $80. Still, it comes with a nice array of minifigures. This is also the only place to get Boromir and Pippin for your fellowship. The set also has Gimli, 2 goblins, a cave troll and some skeletons. That’s about R150 per minifig. The set itself is really rather cool as well, right down to the dwarven runes carved above the door. Looking over at BrickLink, you can expect to pay at least R80 for Legolas. Boromir is around R45, Gimli R35, and Pippin would set you back about R40 as well.

Assuming you had purchased the above three sets, you would just need one more to complete the fellowship:

GandalfGandalf the Grey

Gandalf is currently only available in the Gandalf Arrives set (though he also appears in some sets from the Hobbit, and will be available as Gandalf the White in future LOTR sets). This moderately priced set (R199 or $12.99) also contains a horse and an alternative Frodo Baggins, as well as a cart filled with various odds and ends.

Still, if we’re just looking at minifigures, that’s R100 each. On BrickLink, you can grab Gandalf for just under R20. You can also grab this Frodo for R20, or around R30 for Frodo in his travel gear.

The Final Maths

So, let’s add up the numbers.

Buying the four sets needed, Mines of Moria (R1199), Gandalf Arrives (R199), Shelob Attacks (R349) and Attack on Weathertop (R799), would set you back about R2500. You would also have three Frodos, but no other doubles.

Ordering the minifigures off BrickLink: Frodo (R30) + Sam (R50) + Merry (R50) + Pippin (R40) + Gandalf the Grey (R20) + Aragorn (R40) + Gimli (R35) + Legolas (R80) + Boromir (R45) = R390. You would need to factor in a little extra for shipping and fluctuating prices so R500 is probably a better estimate. Even then, that’s an average of R55 per minifigure. Not bad at all. You won’t get all the minifigures you would have if you bought the sets, but those can be purchased individually as well.

So there you have it. For a minifigure collector who doesn’t have the space for full sets, buying the minifigures individually is 5 times as cost-effective! (Admittedly, the individual prices are not always this good – Queen Amidala is going for over R200.)