Friday, January 30, 2009

Three-Day GEEKend!

As such luck would have it, I work a four-day week, and so I get Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays off. You might say I've reached that point in my life in which I find that my time is infinately more important than money or career. Therefore I rejoice in finding new and more importantly CHEAP ways to get the most happiness out of the time I have off.

Tomorrow night, a friend is coming over, and we'll be playing a bit of Orcz while Garish finishes up casting a HirstArts dungeon for a different friend down at our local game shop.

Then on Sunday we'll be heading down to Hobbytown USA in Kennesaw GA for our weekly Reaper Miniatures paint-&-take demo (free minis, anyone?) followed by Garish's intro to traditional adventure roleplaying Dungeon-of-Doooom

But, do you think we're going home to watch the Superbowl? Nope! We have yet another friend coming over for a bit of Swords & Wizardry. This poor guy is so gung-ho for traditional roleplaying that he seems to have forgotten all about..what's it called

Monday? Well...nothing formally planned, but it's Groundhog Day, and it is said that if a geek ventures outside and sees his/her shadow, there will be six more weeks of waiting for the next issue of his/her favourite eZine to be published...and this simply cannot be allowed to happen, so we'll find SOMETHING geeky to do I'm sure.

Then comes Tuesday...and it looks like the whole gang plus perhaps a new player will be coming over to kick the tires on Labyrinth Lord with a little all-thieves campaign.

Suffice to say, I should have some fun stuff to blog about in the next few days. Meanwhile, I have to sleep.... 'cuz I gotta work tomorrow. ...pthtpthppppttthh! :P

Thursday, January 29, 2009

GameBlog - Tomb of the Iron God

When we last left off, the group had made camp in a small patch of trees near a stream. As it turned out, the fishing was quite good that evening. Eight in all,..and I'm sure they were all hungry after the day's encounter with wolves.

It would seem that the mosquitoes were hungry too, and have a preference for sleeping elves.

As Day 2 began, Big Bart prayed for his spells. Meanwhile Turleus collected up his wolf pelts and took up his bow to scout ahead as the group began the trail up into the rocky hills. Luckily the day's travel was completely uneventful.

And yes.. we can has map!

Image Hosted by

Actually my map does not do the view justice. The actual mountains look considerably less dorky, but y'all bear with me. I'm still a cartography-nOObie.

So, after a lousy night's sleep at the first camp, Drake sought out a less rocky place to lay his head and commenced to enjoying his pipe. Turleus set up the wolf pelts to dry some more overnight, and Dukkor took first watch.

And again, the night passed without event.

(The DM seems to have misplaced his stable of random wandering outdoor adventure creatures and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night and kill poor 1st level elf girls and their hirelings)

But the good news is that everybody healed a point of damage for getting a good night's rest...and Ibhram's map showed the cave can be reached by day's end...and this is good..because had begun to rain.

Turleus loaded up his pelts and got ready to set out with bow and pole again. Meanwhile Amarixes wisely suggested that the group decide how best to approach the kobold lair. Gwynned the Mage, it would appear, prefers to execute the plans before they can be laid, hatched and grow up to become strategies.

(And it seems somebody hit the [FF>>] button and suddenly, there's the cave.

And Gwynned has just found some little paw prints.

Could it be.... I dunno... kobold paws?

{cue ominous music}

Will the group go right in before the kobolds find out they have arrived..or will they find a place to camp one more night so they heal up and prepare to assault the caverns in the morning? What sort of plan might they come up with, and will that crazy elf berserker remember to forget the plan later?

Watch, wait, and we all shall see!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In which I talk about my character

Yeah, I know I's taboo, so I won't do it too often, but here goes.

When we started playing S&W back in November, I asked if I could still play a half-orc even though halforcs did not become PCs until 3rd edition and if I recall rightly did not even exist in the monster manual until 2nd edition.

The GM, likely fearing yet another rant about oppression, green-rage and "the man", said he'd allow it, so long as the character could be expressed in Oe terms..that is to say, she had to be a fighting Man Orc-ette with emphasis on Strength and de-emphasis on Intelligence and Charisma. She would get no advantage for her orcish blood..not even Darkvision. But that was alright by me. After all, the game should be about playing the role of a character rather than playing stats and special abilities, right? Also, due to the fact that the six attributes can grant at best a +1 bonus and at worst a -1 detriment, having even the proverbial "minmax" character does not make you a window-licking Terminator.

Surprisingly, it did not take too much getting used to, even though Janara (you might say she has achieved the status of recurring franchise) was originally created for 3e D&D. Okay, so she kept forgetting to light her torch at first,... as did our Dwarven cleric...but that's neither here nor there. On a completely unrelated note, the GM has more recently decided that in his games, demi-orcs and dwarves get darkvision just the same as their later counterparts. I mean, why should Elves get to have all the fun, huh?

Actually, in the game setting Janara belongs to, Elves would be as yet unknown beings. They might just be legends..or they may be (as Dunsany would say) 'beyond the Fields We Know'. Orcs, on the other hand, are based on historical barbaric tribes from the east of the big continent (Europe, actually) who were brought to the isle (Scotland) by the Latins (Romans) to provide a buffer against the northmen (Vikings). Half-orcs might be more properly called orc-blooded, since their kind has been left alone and to their own for a few centuries by the time our adventure begins. Janara only knows that she is different, that she comes from a people who are different, (but no differenter than the picts or that crazy yellow-haired berserker NPC her party had originally hired...may he rest in peace). She's never seen an orc, and is curious about the stories she has been told about the eastern warrior tribes. For all intents and purposes, she was raised human... Christian actually... and has no doubt that she is one of her God's creatures too... as are the people of her ancestry if she should ever happen to meet one.

Well..that's how it started at least. Janara and company did a bit of low-level romping around in the highland hills, but as such things happen, they eventually boarded a longship and went to a place suspiciously Norwegian in topography, custom and outragiously exaggerated accents. It was there that they encountered their first halfling and their first elf. The halfling was, of course, trying to unlock a treasure chest, and the elf was quite deceased.

I won't go into too much detail, as you may find yourself in this same adventure some I highly recommend you should. Stefan Poag's work is top-notch adventuring

So imagine what poor Janara thought the first time she came across actual orcs. Of course these orcs were hostile and attacked first, so being a loyal fighter who stands by her friends, she helped slay the ever-lovin' doggy-doody out of them.

But this time after the fighting is over, rather than help the others toss the room for hidden treasures or loot the bodies for useful weapons or coins, she carefully looked over the dead orcs' bodies for any jewellry, regalia, totems or other such items that she would think to be culturally unique to orcs. She did the same with the next two orc encounters as well, eventually collecting one rather odd-looking dagger and a little medallion made of bone.

She really cannot quite explain her recent interest in orc-anthropology, and she is really starting to suspect that orcs as a collective group are generally and deservingly disliked by everybody. The Dwarf in the party has shown no hostility toward her, but then again the Dwarf is a man of God..even though he sometimes calls God by the name Thor. Janara is almost certain that God has different names and aspects for different people in different lands. This might account for why her Christian education was cut short and she ended up becoming a fighter...but that's yet another story.

Yeah..she's a complicated orc... can ya dig it?


Oh... and then there's the point, which I almost went right past without getting around to.

Don't let the lack of a Bard class or Ranger class or the absence of Tieflings keep you from enjoying the older edition roleplay games. All it takes is imagination and a bit of flexibility on behalf of the player and dungeonmaster to make things possible. The old Oe rules are only there as a toolkit and house-rules are practically encouraged and in some spaces almost necessary. Even the retro-clone rules encourage the concept that the DM and players run the game, not the book.

By the way, Janara's newly-embued darkvision was "discovered" by her halfway through the dungeon adventure. She will likely explain it away like this. "I never tried it before. When it was time to put out my fire, I'd just shut my eyes and go asleep."

That's her story, and she's stickin' to it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Old School" character sheet download

As I mentioned in my last post, I am finding I enjoy the simplicity of the character sheets used in older editions of D&D and the retro clones. There are already a few character sheets available for download from various individuals..and each has its merits, but over the past two months I've gotten a better feel for which elements are most important, which statistics need to be located where in order to be found easily, and how much room is needed to fill in the various types of information on a character sheet for a typical player in a typical game (though "typical" might be a strong word for what goes on here at Chateau-Garish)

And since the traditional roleplaying community has given me so much in the past few months, I'm giving a little bit back. I've created a character log sheet PDF that can be downloaded HERE from my ftp space.

Among the features this one has..

Places at the top for character name, player name, and campaign -- This is important around here because we have three seperate campaigns going on, and it's not entirely impossible that a character might be participating in more than one campaign at the same time.

A spot for character portrait -- I know not everybody can draw, but then again, who's the one that wants to tell Rich Burlew that stick drawings are not viable, huh?

PLENTY of room to list loot -- though most folks end up cashing in their loot as soon as they hit the next town and therefore track their looting on a piece of scratch-paper, I like the convenience of having all my data on one page...because I lose stuff or might get my loot pages from different campaigns mixed up.

A place for tracking quantity of arrows/darts/bullets -- Most sheets just don't have room for that sort of thing, but it is, at least in my opinion, one of the more important game stats for characters that use ranged weapons.

Ascending and Descending "to hit' table -- I keep wanting to call it THACO, but you other retro gamers know the sort of chart I'm talking about.

A small block for character notes -- Good spot for keeping up wtih current nemesis, favourite tavern, or character's shoe size...whatever you feel is important.

Anyway, feel free to make use of this in your own retro games. I promise soon to produce a similar sheet for tracking spells for mages and clerics. I'm also not beyond taking requests for elements you'd like to see included in such a document.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Revisiting 3.5 ... Character Generation

As you all know, I have been playing retro D&D clone rules for the last few months and having a great time. Since discovering "traditional style" gaming, we've begun several ongoing face-to-face campaigns at my house, one online PbP game, and we're embarking on starting up a weekly dungeon-crawl "pickup game" down at our local Hobbytown USA store. As a matter of fact, I probably am beginning to annoy the hell out of folks with my praise of "Oe" and "old-school"... but then sometimes I have to get things back in perspective.

I started out playing good ol' 2nd Edition..with the THACO and all that good stuff. It was not long after before a friend convinced us to try out 3e, and eventually that version took over our group. We never really bought into the 3.5 because over the course of three years we had a decent-sized investment in 3e books. Besides, as our GM will be the first to admit, he hates having to learn a new system if there's nothing wrong with the one he's already got. Suffice to say, 4e ain't gonna be happenin' here.

And I LIKE 3rd Edition actually. Or at least I think I do. Even now I have no reason to grumble about skill-checks or all the various types of Saving Throws or the different races and classes available. Those just add more dynamic to the game... ..but..

(hehe... she said, 'butt'...hehehehe)

Eariler this evening, a friend dropped by and asked me if I could print him up a 3.5e character sheet for a face-to-face game he has been invited to join. So I offer him one-better and fire up my /wink/ "secondary market" /nudge/ eTools software and start generating him a nice li'l 3rd level barbarian.

Now..I've used eTools plenty of times in the past. It's especially handy for PbP games when you like having an HTML version of the character sheets as an online referrence. The program is also nice because ... to be blunt...the Resident Half-Orc sometimes makes math mistakes and screws up AC or Saves or forgets the cost penalty for cross-class skills.

So, the friend I am making the character for is our own Shane "the Crusher" from my previous Traditional Roleplay Week posting. He wants his Bbn-3 to be a Chaotic Neutral half-elf with high INT, decent STR, could care less about CON, and wants to speak an extra language, maybe put a few ranks in Move Silently and Craft(Weaponsmithing)...and did I mention Tumble?

No..I'm not making this up.

So who am I to stifle a dude's creativity! We got a character generated in about an hour, and it's all rulebook-legal and 3.5 compatible and stuff. I almost wanna be there when he springs this'un on his DM.

So we print out a sheet. There are all his vital stats in three pages of glorious 150 dpi Canon-colour..right down to his chosen god, his weight, and a spiffy colour cartoon of a wild-elf with a huge sword. My Oe character sheet should be so lucky. It is one page..B&W with no artwork..and nowhere does it say how old my character is nor even her gender.

I could be making those up as I go along, ya know?

So.. at last, we are nearing the elusive point of this post.

If you like planning ahead, quantifying everything, and knowing exactly what your character is capable of, and you don't mind spending an hour or two filling out your character sheet, then 3e and 3.5 are both right up your alley.

But if you don't care for number-crunching, like to make things up as you go along, or find that most of your characters don't survive more than a few hours of gameplay, then you might want to go retro like me and lots of others are doing.

BTW I plan (depending on the capabilities of my ftp space) to upload my own retro-clone character sheet in PDF form.

Ya know... I've yet to see anybody come up wtih software for generating Oe characters. I suppose they figure if the Resident Half-Orc can do it without a computer's help, anybody can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

GameBlog - Tomb of the Iron God, continued

I'm sorry for the belated gameblog update. Time got away from me this week.


When I last left off, our brave adventurers were hiking east toward the mountains, unsuspecting of what awaited them. Turleus, who chose to scout a bit ahead of the group, is the first to be attacked by the wolves. One sprang upon him, and four others charged the rest of the group. Fortunately for Turleus, he was able to fend off his attacker for a short while.

Oghram and Ibhram each shoot, both hitting their targets. Meanwhile Drake and Dukkor move to protect Ameryxes, Bart and Valley. Dukkor with one swing was able to finish off the wolf wounded by Oghram. Bart also took a swing, but missed. Both he and Drake were bitten badly in the initial attack.

Amaryxes stepped up with his staff and landed a wallup on the head of the wolf that was trying to eat poor Big Bart. Valley swung his axe at the fourth wolf and sent it into a yelping fit.

Turleus then somehow managed to kick dirt up in the face of the wolf that was attacking him, giving him a chance to throw an axe at the vicious animal. His axe connected, and then Ibhram and Oghram were able to rush in with swords and finish off the wounded wolf.

Meanwhile, Drake and Dukkor continued trying to protect the magic users. Neither have much luck in wounding the beasts, and Dukkor got bitten a second time. Ironically, it was Valley's axe and Big Bart's club that came to the aide of Drake. The angry wolf that had been tormenting Drake then took a bite out of Valley.

Turleus and Amaryxes both tried using their darts on the remaining wolves with some success. Meanwhile, Dukkor killed another wolf as Bart was trying unsuccessfully to nail it with his club.

As all that was happening, Valley the elf went into a berserker rage, bearing teeth at the wolf in front of him, but swinging wild with his axe and missing completely. Luckily Drake stepped in and lopped the wolf's head off.

Who's afraid of the Big-Bads? Nope. Not those guys!

But Ibhram gave them something else to worry about as he and Oghram did a bit of first-aid on the wounded comrades. Rabies? Or maybe becoming a werewolf? Or maybe an elf?

Turleus didn't seem too worried though. He went right to skinning him some wolves. Oh how wonderful the camp will be smelling later on!

So our party is pausing for the night, setting up camp amidst a small stand of trees, and they might just be having fish for dinner. There is a stream nearby, and Drake, Valley and Oghram head off to see what they can catch. Dukkor and Big Bart seem more inclined to kick back beside the fire ...err... guard the camp, that is.

Actually, it seems as if Big Bart is watching the backs of his own eyelids rather than guarding anything.


And that's where we are. Tune in soon to find out who gets to clean the catch-o'-the-day, what else might be lurking in those woods, and how to tell that you are becoming a were-elf.

Networking? Me?

Yes, it's true, and I am just about as surprised about this as some of you other folks who know me.

I have in the past tried to steer clear of social networking web sites, finding them to be rather like the schoolyard of my childhood...big, noisy, somewhat disenfranchising, and sometimes even a bit hostile. And much like the schoolyard, being "somebody" on those networks had much more to do with how flashy your profile was and how large your friends list had become.

But last week I decided to give social networking a second chance..and am glad I did. There are two new communities on FaceBook that those of you who are traditional style gamers might be interested in.

One is the official TARGA group, which is less than two weeks old but already almost 80 members strong.

The other is Attack of the Retro Clones, a less formal group that is also all about promoting any and all retro-clone D&D RPG publications and the playing of said games. It is a brand-new community and so far has less than 10 members.

Being that roleplaying itself is a niche hobby, making retro roleplaying a niche within a niche; I believe that these and other social networks can be valuable tools in making others aware that such games are still out there and perhaps even help bring players of a particular locality together face-to-face. The idea of a TARGA or ARC member-meetup in the Atlanta area is an exciting possibility, and I for one will do my best to support such networking.

So..take a moment and have a look at both groups. Join up if you wish, and help spread the word about traditional style gaming.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

International Traditional Adventure Roleplaying Week

For those of you who've not yet noticed the link down at the bottom of this page, I an now supporting TARGA, the Traditional Adventure Roleplay Gaming Association, a not-for-profit corporation made up of gamers who want to preserve and promote the "old-school" or classic style of roleplaying we love. Last week I joined the TARGAtalk Yahoo group...just in time for International Traditional Adventure Roleplaying Week. Here is a quote from the main web site.

And what can we get done? TARGA’s first initiative is International Traditional Adventure Roleplaying Week, January 10th through 17th, 2009. We are challenging you, ourselves, and old school referees everywhere to find a game store, contact the owner or manager, and arrange a demo of your favorite old school game or retro-clone. Or invite some friends (gamers and/or newbies) to your home for a one-shot adventure. We need to get people playing!
Our group is doing its part. We have been meeting at least once a week for a few months now, and our original three players has grown to five, and a sixth potential player has been asking about what we do. Here are some pics and highlights from last week's game.

garish the dmThat is Garish the GM (also known as my husband). He is taking us through The Endless Tunnels Of Enlandin, an AD&D dungeon-crawl adventure by Stephan Poag published by Dragonsfoot. For those of you who might want to follow in the footsteps of our party, I won't spoil any surprises for you..but be warned, Stephan Poag's dungeons are quite imaginative, especially where traps and tricks are concerned. You better bring more than a ten-foot pole. Garish is seen here with dungeon map and a truckload of dice ready to unload on his players.

If you look carefully in the reflection on the glass cabinet door behind him, you can see your intrepid photographer and resident half-orc.

chris the rear guardThat's Chris, a.k.a. Gavin the Archer. Here lately when we call off marching order, he ends up taking the rear guard position. But he's not chickening out. As a matter of fact whenever a fight breaks out, he's back there shouting "Can I get to 'em?" or "Can I shoot 'em from here?".

He has an amazing Dexterity score. Just look at how well he stacks those dice.

He is also a real TARGA success story. We have saved him from the sinister clutches of console video MMORPGing and he has come to know the joy of traditional adventuring.

shane the crusherThen there's Shane...a.k.a. Gorn the Crusher. He is our local thick-headed barbarian type who just so happens to prefer playing thick-headed barbarian character types when we game. His favourite phrase in-game is "I kick the door down!"

This picture was made moments after he was shot in the back by a particularly imaginative trap which he sprung. He was not amused when the half-orc removed the arrow, then suggested he go back and see if he could get another one the same wey.

Shane has been playing historical wargames with us for years now, and seems to enjoy the simplicity of this style of roleplaying. Having a character sheet that does not look like a 1040 tax form is a good thing.

So... we hacked and slayed, found numerous creatures, living, dead, undead and otherwise. I am not entirely sure which category gelatinous cubes fall under. Anyway, fate brought us to a hidden room filled with a helpless halfling, a box of treasure, and two carrion crawlers. The fight was ON!

carion crawlers
There you can see our happy band of brothes (and sister) nearly getting killed by denizens of a self-cleaning dungeon. Several of us spent the last few rounds of combat paralyzed from their attacks, but ultimately the good-guys won...and now we have a halfling along for the fun. Tune in next week to see if the cute li'l fella is actually Orcus in disguise.

As for Traditional Roleplay week, Garish and I contiune our crusade tomorrow at Hobbytown USA in Kennesaw. We have a HirstArts dungeon full of Reaper monsters and a few lovely polyhedron "treasures" to give away to any brave adventurers who dare enter The Dungeon of the Dreaded Snake-Eyes... MWA-HAA-HAAAA!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


And now that I have a new dice box, my mail-ordered Chessex Pound-o-Dice arrived this afternoon!

Not that there is anything wrong with having spare dice on hand, especially if you do a lot of game demos and tend to have shrinkage in your dice inventory; but I was a tad skeptical about just what sorts of dice would come in the potluck mix. I imagined these would be the "unpopular" styles that inevitably turn up in the "cursed dice" loaner bucket at the game shop. Boy was I pleasantly surprised.

Before I go on, I must mention that my set was the "premium" Pound-O-Dice, which Chessex made temporarily available because their usual stocks of ordinary pounds-o-dice had run out. Unlike the normal pound of factory-second assorted dice, the premium deal gets you (for the same price as the usual deal) a pound of factory-firsts, but the styles are all out of current production. The normal Pound-o-Dice should be returning to availablenessity (according to the enclosed note in my bag) in November 2008.

Here is a breakdown of what values of dice came in my particular mix.

  • 31 d20s
  • 31 d10s
  • 5 d10s "double zero"
  • 7 d12s
  • 8 d4s
  • 2 d8s
  • 11 d6s "pips"
  • 1 d6 "numbers"
In addition to the above dice, each set comes with a special factory-firsts envelope of speckly dice that can only be gotten in the Pound-O-Dice.

That's 102 dice..all full-sized and in a nice variety of styles. Now as the Chessex site states, the Pound-0-Dice is made of factory seconds and the assortment will likely be scantt on the lighter dice like d4s and d8s.

Of course, Garish and I both got "pick of the litter" before putting the rest into the communal dice box. Here's my picks.

Three matched d6s like this just SCREAMED "character dice" to me.

This was the only one of this style...but again, it's made of pure pretty.

And these were the closest thing I found to my swirl dice. I call 'em "blurple swurl"

Ahh yes..the d12..the barbarian's best friend. When you're rolling up your hit-dice..or hitting your dungeonmaster with your greataxe, who says you can't be pretty while doing so.

Then there's Garish's picks, since this was his idea.

The lighting here does not do these justice.

It's a shame this was the only one and is, according to the enclosed note, out of production...else Garish would be ordering more to fill out a complete set.

OH... and while we're on the subject of dice, here are some others (NOT by Chessex) I picked up a few years back.

These are what you should be using when you roll for the attitudes of NPCs. But these dice really work. Each single dot, dash or symbol represents a pip. For instance, the one in the middle with the party-hat is a 6..the one with glasses to the left is a 2, and happyface on the right is a 4.

Anyway, tomorrow night is our next scheduled game-night for Swords & Wizardry, so I get to give these dice and my new box a proper try-out. Hopefully these rookies will do well and keep my character from being eaten by a purple worm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A simple dicing box for $2 (US)

My husband was in serious need of paint brushes after a week or so of frantic demon-painting, and so we found ourselves at the local HobbyLobby today. While there, I decided to pick up some things and do a little craft project I've been meaning to do but keep forgetting.

Now I know there are some folks over on the HirstArts web site who have designed some amazing dice-tumbling towers with complicated chutes and funnels all to make your players green with envy...and that's all fine and good if you want to spend a little money and a LOT of time making one..but for the rest of us who just need a place to roll the dice that will keep the dice on the game table without scratching up the surface of said table, here's what I made today.

Start with a simple wooden tray. Hobby Lobby sells them in various sizes and shapes and they cost anywhere from 99 cents to $2.99 depending on size. I chose this cute little oblong octagonal one. The one in the picture above is 8" long measured from outside edges.

Next, get a sheet of FunkyFoam. This stuff comes in all sorts of colours and in my humble opinion is something that no gamer should be without. The greens, browns and blues make for excellent ground scenics on the cheap, and the soft material is kinder to your painted models than traditional flocked felt or sculpted sand tables.

Start by aligning the tray with two edges of the foam. This saves cutting. Then with a pencil trace the outside edges of the box onto the foam.

When your done doing that, set the tray aside and use a scribing tool or something similar to draw a second smaller outline in the middle of the first tracing. I just so happened to have a craft stick that was exactly as wide as the sides of the tray so I used that to trace out the interior shape.

Then, cut out the exterior tracing, being careful to only trim along the drawn lines. Repeat with the interior shape. As you can see in the picture above, the interior shape will become the bottom liner of the box, and the foam between the interior and exterior shapes will become the tabletop-protection padding on the bottom. The bottom liner, if sized right, may not even require glue. The padding underneath can be attached with any white craft glue. Superglue should not be used with FunkyFoam, as it will dissolve it.

End will have a simple and lightweight dicing box that keeps the dice in one place, saves your tabletop from scratches and dings, and can even be a nifty gift to a fellow gamer.

If you want to be fancy, you can always finish out the tray with some fine sandpaper and a stain or varnish and maybe even get a woodburning tool and personalize the tray. You could also substitute felt for foam if you want, though the foam really cuts down on the bouncing and clattering when you roll the dice.

So far, my tray has not proven to help my dice roll any better, but on the bright side, they've not gotten any worse.

I've been OUTED!

Found this one on QuizFarm - What kind of roleplay gamer are you?

You Scored as Method Actor

You think that gaming is a form of creative expression. You may view rules as, at best, a necessary evil, preferring sessions where the dice never come out of the bag. You enjoy situations that test or deepen your character's personality traits.

Method Actor








Casual Gamer


Power Gamer




Thursday, January 08, 2009

GameBlog - Tomb of the Iron God

After a short holiday lull in game posting, things are finally starting to move along. The characters and NPCs have left the city of Augustina and are moving along the east road toward the mountains where there is alleged to be a cave and ultimately the hidden treasure.


Here's the part where I put in a sort of Gilligan's Island summary of each character for those just tuning in. .... er... just sit right back and you'll hear a tale..a tale of a fateful trip?

Amarixes - a slight man with prematurely vanishing hair who has a fondness for coin tricks but likely has more up his sleeves than just slight-of-hand. He seems to be a nervous or shy person.

Dukkor - raven-haired man from the north who carries a sword in one hand, a tankard in the other, and seems quite confident in his skills with both. He also speaks a bit like Jack Sparrow.

Turleus Ba'dor - tall wiry man in dusty black desert garb carrying a crossbow.

Gwynned - Elf magician..or is he a fighter..or is he a magician? He has brown hair, blue eyes, a bag, a bow, an axe, and an eye for the ladies. He also has an alter-ego called Valley..who is a fighter. Confused yet? Don't worry, there's time yet.

Drake - brawny tattoed wall of a man with braided beard. He carries a wooden flagon and chews on a pipe. He was once a sailor.

"Big Bart" Hammerstein - balding man with grey unkempt hair and full beart, somewhat unfit physique, tatty robes, and a serious fondness for strong drink, even for a priest. He carries a very large ironshod club.

Ibhram - the group's Yarab guide and friendly helpful NPC


So, our group of adventurers along with a map, a guide, and an ass (donkey, that is) are moving into what a fair sprinkling of in-game foreboding indicates to be bandit-country. It is morning. The dirt road leads them away from the port city of Augustina and past farms and ploughed fields, small hamlets and orchards, and the occasional westward bound pedestrian.

What random encounters lie beyond yon hill or homestead? You'll have to wait and see.

And now.. I present my first game aide. Here is a map using the tutorials I mentioned in my last post. Mind you the hex grid kind of takes away from the Middle-Ages cartography look, but sometimes function overrides form. The hexes are 3 miles each (whether that's edge to edge or corner to corner I have no clue).

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Mind you this map took a bit of trial and error..and I still am not wild about how the mountains turned out..but Chgowiz pointed me toward a forum specifically for mapmakers and I hope to learn a thing or two there also.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy Mapping

Many evenings, the first thing I do online after reading my email is to come visit my blog just to have a look at the various updates made to the blogs down in my "Blogs List". Not surprisingly, this tends to eat up a lot of my time, but then again, it keeps me off the streets. :D it's all good.

Recently I came across a posting on Chgowiz's blog and followed his link to a spot on YouTube called ZombieNirvana. There I found a series of podcasts on how to create medieval-styled maps in Photoshop for use in your roleplaying games.

Now..this isn't Photoshop For Dummies. Yes, he guides you through step-by-step, but it does help to have a working knowledge of how layers work, what the various tools are called, and how to navigate the various menus. If you've mastered those, then you should have no trouble with this series. Each video takes you through a different step of the mapmaking process, and once you have done that, you can save your original Photoshop file so that with a bit of editing on certain layers you can create more different maps in the same style with minimum reworking.

Best of's like having a cooking show on DVD. You can make a project right along with him and pause whenever you need a bit of extra time to finish the step you are working on. So of course I jumped in with both feet and made myself a li'l ol' map.


I think the tutorial is using PS7. My version is PS6, so I have a few less fancy brushes in my palette and also am unable to resize any brushes except for the perfectly round ones. Other than that, my version was good enough to keep up. Now, I thought I was a person who knew Photoshop fairly well, but after watching the first 12 videos, I learned five new techniques for accomplishing various effects as well as at least half a dozen keyboard shortcuts to help me get my workflow unclogged. (Apparently you are not a "real" digital photographer until you are comfortable throwing around terms such as "workflow".)

By the way, those four orcs at the bottom left are courtesy of, another free download site for tabletop gamers that allows you to download, print,cutout and play with paper miniatures. Those orcs, however, can no longer be found there, as the site has discontinued its fantasy models section. Those particular orcs were made by Michael Krein.

Chgowiz also has a link to a dungeon mapping tutorial, which I will be trying out really soon.


In Tomb of the Iron God PbP related news, the game WILL continue, but the gamemaster has been busy the past two days with a bit of important beta reading. I'll keep after him to move things along tomorrow.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My 2009 Beefcake Calendar

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Several years ago on the Reaper forum, somebody brought up the idea that it might be fun to have a informal beauty contest of some of the "hotter" female Reaper Miniatures models. For those of you who are not familiar with Reaper's models, the company makes numerous fine 28mm pewter minis suitable for tabletop miniature gaming or for representing your roleplaying game's characters. Reaper is particularly noted for having produced a few anatomically-correct female models dressed only in their birthday-suits, which they sell under the "Urban Legends" title.

So naturally the guys all jumped in with their favourite elf chicks or succubi or barbarian girls in chainmail which point I, being me, said there should be a few posters of Reaper's more eligible orc lads too.

My enthusiasm met with several "ewww"s and "ugh"s and one particular notable "would give me nightmares", and one person even went so far as to say that orcs are "butt-ugly"??

After that, I made it my mission to make the all-orcs calendar a reality. I put a posting on Reaper's forum asking any comers to paint their favourite orc model and send me a picture of it. All the models in the calendar are by Reaper and painted by Reaper forum members. I accept entries from painters of all skill levels and give credit to each artist involved.

None of the painted minis themselves have been edited in any way by me, though I sometimes change the background to make it more dynamic if need be.

In the past, I have uploaded the calendar PDF to my own web host, but this year, thanks to Mythmere and the other folks at Swords & Wizardry, I have discovered Lulu.

Lulu is a print-on-demand company that allows the author to upload ebooks, photos, and other digital media for others to purchase. Lulu handles any printing, binding and shipping necessary for a share of the earnings. Best of all, an author can use Lulu to share free downloadable media. This is good, especially for one like me with a teeny ftp host and bandwidth restrictions.

Anyway, my calendar is a 12 page PDF, 150 dpi resolution, and is around 2.5 MB in size...and FREE!.

Here's the link >> 2009 Beefcake Calendar download

If you for whatever reason are disinclined or disallowed to download PDFs to your computer, the images are on my Flickr account for your viewing pleasure.

The link >> Beefcake Calendar set on Flickr

Next year, I am feeling inclined to create a special "Monsters of D&D" project similar to the Beefcake, and perhaps even formatting it to be printed by Lulu as a professionally bound wall calendar.