Saturday, June 10, 2017

R.I.P. Adam West


Adam West, best known for his portrayal of Batman in the trippy 60s television series has died at the age of 88. :-(  While his was never my favorite version of Batman, I have very fond memories of watching him and Burt Ward socking villains after school when I was a child.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Miniatures Monday (Special Edition)

Look what has arrived from new Zealand! These are latest miniatures from Star Hat Miniatures.  Another great set from +Darcy Perry I still need to assemble the troll.
I'm so very far behind on painting that I'm note sure when I will get around to these, but I've singled out three for priority painting!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Star Wars Turns 40


     Wow.  It's hard for me to believe that Star Wars is 40 years old today.  I was 7 1/2 when it was released, and I was already a fan of science fiction and fantasy films.  I loved the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials that our CBS affiliate would run as filler for movies that didn't cover their entire time slot.  I watched Star Trek reruns on Sunday afternoons, because football was boring.  I was glued to the TV on Saturday afternoons to watch hokey sci-fi films from the 1950s.  Monsters in rubber suits and ray guns that fired sparks were kind of my thing, but none of that prepared me for what I saw when my parents took me to see Star Wars.  It was awe inspiring.  I'd never seen anything like it before.  My imagination didn't need to fill in the blanks created by poor special effect and black and white film stock.  It was all there on the screen, and it looked real!
     As great as the film was, there was still another surprise waiting for us in the autumn of that year.  The toys.  My friend Keith had pre-ordered the first set of action figures, and I remember him brining them in to school in second grade.  They were the coolest toys ever, but of course, nobody wanted to get stuck with the droids! :-)  My own collection of toys started soon after.  I had 4 Boba Fetts from sending in proof of purchase labels from other action figures.  I had an X-Wing and lost the clear canopy somewhere.  I had Darth Vader's tie fighter, and like everyone else, I struggled to keep its wings on.  I had the Death Star, and I can't count the number of times that Boba Fett and his three clones shoved farm boy Luke into that trash compactor.  I spent hours recreating the movies and making up my own Star Wars stories.  Those were great times, indeed.
     More films followed.  The Empire Strikes Back was a thing of beauty, even better than the original.  Return of the Jedi was a little bit of a letdown though.  I was almost 14 by that time, and the Ewoks just weren't cool to me.  Star Wars had begun to lose a bit of its magic I guess as I got older.  Other things were just cooler to a teenager I guess, but fortunately, that didn't last.  Somewhere along the line, in college, I managed to recapture what I loved about Star Wars, and I'm a fan to this day.  I doubt that many people would have predicted that 40 years later we would still be getting new Star Wars films, or that there would still be Star Wars action figures on my desk.  The later films of course have been a mixed bag, some good, some less so.  But when I hear that John Williams score, I'm reminded that even a so-so Star Wars film is still Star Wars.

Happy Birthday Star Wars!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

R.I.P. Roger Moore


He was never my favorite Bond, but it's difficult to deny his charm.  Though it often ranks as one of the lesser Bond films, I'll always admit The Man With the Golden Gun as a guilty pleasure.  I know what I'm watching tonight.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

These Tiki are now the ultimate power in the universe

In honor of Star Wars Day, my wife bought me this set of amazing Tiki mugs!

Now I need to set about creating some Star Wars themed Tiki drinks. :-)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Miniatures Monday


This week, we take a trip into the sewers to visit a Ratman champion.  Ratmen are usually kind of pushovers, but this guy seems to be carrying a hill giant femur as a weapon, so I'm not sure that I'd mess with him.  The sculpt is by Ben Siens from Reaper Miniatures and is 02761: Skrattle, Giant Ratman.  Its still available from Reaper for just $7.99.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Miniatures Monday


Deep beneath the earth in perpetually lightless caverns dwells this fearsome creature.  Though rooted to the stone floor, its flailing tentacles and gaping maw allow it to make a meal of anything unlucky enough to wander within its grasp.  The figure is from Reaper Miniatures 2658: Stone Lurker ($9.99) sculpted by Bob Olley.  I'm not overly happy with the way that the eye turned out.  I think that I need to rework that a bit.  Its been a few weeks since my last Miniatures Monday post.  This isn't because I haven't been painting, but rather because I haven't been photographing my work as regularly.  With the weather improving, I'm hoping to increase my output a bit.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another map made with Hex Kit (and some further thoughts)

I started playing around with layers in Hex Kit, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  I really love the art style used in the application.  It sort of reminds me of the board icons from the Avalon Hill version of Titan.  I'm a real sucker for hand drawn things.  So far, the beta of Hex Kit seems pretty darned stable.  A couple of minor bugs such as duplicate icons being placed in adjacent hexes, but that may be something that I'm doing wrong.  It seems to be able to handle maps up to 999 x999 hexes, which is way bigger than I would ever use, so it should cover the needs of most people.  In any case, based on what I'm seeing so far, the release version is going to be awesome.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A quick map made with the beta version of Hex Kit

I'm looking forward to playing with this more over the weekend, but so far, I'm really liking it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Miniatures Monday

This is the stuff that nightmares are made of.  For this week's Miniatures Monday, we continue the recent monster theme with several photos of this giant spider.  I've always found giant spiders to be particularly horrific, and I honestly didn't expected to ever finish this figure.  It's 03049: Huge Spider from Reaper Miniatures and is still available for $17.99.  I bought this one years ago and it requires a bit of assembly.  Each pair of legs is separate, and it took a bit of trial and error to get them in the right order.  I love the end result, but it does have one drawback.  It has no base.  So, when used, the paint on the legs tips tends to chip off. :-(

To remedy that situation, I decided to make my own base for it.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but integrating a base with the figure does limit it a bit.  I guess now it's a desert spider.

So, what do all of you think?  Base or no base?  I'm really still on the fence about it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Miniatures Monday

This week, Miniatures Monday continues the theme of large humanoids with big bellies.  Here are a couple of photos of a rather angry looking Cyclops.  It's not a particularly large Cyclops, but that spiked club could really do some damage.  The figure is from Reaper Miniatures and is 02953: Cyclops.  You can get your own for only $5.99 U.S.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Miniatures Monday

Miniatures Monday returns with three photos of a Half-Ogre Adventurer.  I made some recent touchups to this guy, but overall I'm pretty happy with how he turned out.  On a figure of this size, eyes become even more important to the final result, so I'm glad that I fixed them on this guy.  The figure is from Reaper, 02966: Gorevane, Half Ogre Fighter, and it's still available at their online store for $8.99.  An interesting thing about this figure is that it came in two parts, but the second part was just the sword on his back, making the main figure a somewhat unusually large cast.
Fearsome From the Front

That's an interesting way to carry a sword...

I wouldn't want to get in his way.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Weird Adventure Wednesday


This week's weird adventure idea:

On a cloudy evening you are greeted by a swaggering but obese bravo in a busy tavern.  The bravo tells you that 7 days journey to the northeast, within The Profane Crater of Demented Sleep can be found The Forbidden Tentacle Tunnels of Eternal Slaughter.  It is reputed that there can be found The Skull-adorned Chaos Flute of Blood.  The bravo informs you that he knows of a buyer who will pay 7,500 gold coins for that enchanted item.  But beware, for the bravo warns you that The Enchanted Skull of Perversion is said to guard that place!

If you enjoy Weird Adventure Idea Wednesday, be sure to check out these other free resources:
1,001 More Weird and Wacky Adventure Ideas

The picture above was inspired by a photograph taken by a friend of mine in Switzerland.  The photo is far more impressive than my hand drawn version, but it doesn't have as many tentacles. :-)

R.I.P. Captain Apollo


Actor Richard Hatch, known for playing Captain Apollo on the 1970s science fiction television show Battlestar Galactica has died at the age of 71.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Miniatures Monday


This week, we have twin barbarians posing before looting an ancient temple.  I liked this miniature so much that I painted it twice.  The figure is from Reaper Miniatures and is #03216 Brom the Barbarian, and you can get one of your own for only $4.99!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kickstarter: Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom 2 - Only 32 hours left!


So there are only around 32 hours left to get in on the second Kickstarter from Starhat Miniatures.  I backed the first Kickstarter and I can honestly say that I loved these miniatures by +Darcy Perry .  And who doesn't want a St. Andre Troll?  Also if it reaches $7000NZ, there is a Star Princess miniature...

Want to read a review of the first Kickstarter?  Then go here.

Want to read a review of 3 of the miniatures from the new Kickstarter?  Then go here.

Seriously, what are you waiting for? :-)


Monday, January 30, 2017

Miniatures Monday


A pair of Grenadier giants from the 1980s guarding a doorway.  I got these probably about five years apart, The Cyclops around 1980 and the hill giant around 1985.  The Cyclops was always one of my favorites.  I mean, who wouldn't like a guy who wears a loincloth and carries around a sack full of skulls to chuck at his enemies? :-). I had a little trouble with the photo focus on these.  I need to work on that.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

(Preview Review) Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom 2 Kickstarter



Want to know about what to expect from +Darcy Perry 's new Kickstarter Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom 2?  Well, we've got a hands on review with 3 of the miniatures!

On 15 January I finally got around to posting my review of the first Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom Kickstarter.  Tow days later the second Kickstarter Launched!  Today, I received three preview miniatures in the mail to review.  So, I'm going to review these guys, but don't forget, if you like them get over to Kickstarter and pledge before the campaign ends!   

Full disclosure, these miniatures were provided to me to review free of charge.  I have no involvement in the Kickstarter, nor with Starhat Miniatures.  The opinions in this review are mine alone.  I'd also like to apologize for the quality of the photos, as I had a hard time getting the lighting right for photographing unpainted miniatures.  Now that we have all of that out of the way, let's get started!


Just like the previous releases, these miniatures are SOLID.  They have great heft in your hand and wonderful bases to prevent tipping.  This is what I've come to expect from Starhat Miniatures, so while it's not unexpected, it's something that I really appreciate.



The first miniature that we are going to look at is Vok Whightkicker.  He's a goblin mage with a toad familiar.  His staff is topped with a human skull, so don't mess around with Vok.  He's got some groovy feathers in his hat too for added style.  I really like the position of the toad, as it looks like he's whispering secrets to old Vok.  Let's turn him around and see the other side.



Here we see a belt pouch and a dagger with a skull pommel.  I'm a sucker for skulls.  We can also see the feather in Vok's cap a bit better.
Next up we have Ailgavart the Ensorceller.  


This guy looks like he may have started his career as an assassin, but turned to magic later.  His eyepatch is adorned with an image of an eye and perhaps it acts as a means of magical sight.  His staff is no mere conjurer's staff, but rather looks as if it could double as a small pole-axe topped with a magical orb.  The fingers of his left hand appear to be making the motions of a spell, or maybe it's a wizard gang sign.  "Wizards only, fools!"  Either way, it's awesome.


From the back, we can see that he's carrying a quiver of arrows and a short bow.  No doubt so that he can continue to rain damage upon his foes while his spells recharge.
And finally, we have Saetog the Sorcerer. 


Saetog's got a fireball in his right hand ready to fling at his foes, while in his left, he wields a pretty mean looking staff.  I haven't decided what's on top of the staff, but I'm thinking that it's got lenses in it for focusing various spells.  He's also got a scroll tube attached to his belt, where he no doubt keeps his backup spells.

To me, these miniatures have a wonderfully old school and whimsical feel to them, but with more modern sculpting.  I loved the old Grenadier gold box sets from the late 1970s because those miniatures evoked a sense of wonder in me, and that's the same sense that I get from these.  These aren't the boring same-old same-old, but rather represent one sculptor's unique vision.  They have tons of character about them and feel like great sculpts of the types of character you might have expected to see at an RPG table in the late 70s where somebody was playing a goblin wizard, just because it sounded cool!

As of today, there are still 7 days left in the Kickstarter, so I would really suggest heading over and taking a look!  I'm really looking forward to Kroag when this set ships.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Generating Ability Scores in B/X D&D, Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, etc. (How I like to do it these days)


I've used many methods to generate ability scores in my games over the years.  We started, of course, with 3d6 in order, letting the fates decide what type of characters we would play.  We quickly moved to 3d6, arrange them as we wished, in order to give ourselves the ability to make character whose stats better matched the classes that we wanted to play.  We tried the approach of rolling up 6 characters apiece with 3d6 in order and then choosing the one that we liked the best.  Later, we moved on to 4d6 drop the lowest.  We even experimented with 2d6 + 6 in our real power gaming days.
These days though, I like to use a slightly different approach.  I have players roll up two characters with 3d6 in order, and then allow them to swap one score from one of the characters with any one score of the other character.  This allows them the opportunity to get the prime requite that they want for at least one of their characters, while still allowing fate to play a role.  The caveat here is that they must equip both characters, and choose one to be their starting character and the other to be their replacement character should the first die under unfortunate circumstances (as characters are wont to do at first level).

Example:

Character 1:

STR: 11
INT:   9
WIS:  9
DEX: 11
CON: 10
CHR:  17

Character 2:

STR: 10
INT:   8
WIS:  12
DEX: 11
CON: 14
CHR:  9

The 17 in the first character's charisma is a prime target for moving, so lets say that we swap that with the strength score of the second character, ending up with one character who would make a good fighter and another who would make a good torchbearer. :-)

Torchbearer:

STR: 11
INT:   9
WIS:  9
DEX: 11
CON: 10
CHR:  10

Fighter:

STR: 17
INT:   8
WIS:  12
DEX: 11
CON: 14
CHR:  9

I think that this presents an interesting dilemma for the player.  Do you go with your best character first, or do you test the dungeon with your lesser character, expecting him or her to die and allowing you to trade up?  We've had many instances where a player took their best character first and sadly wound up playing the other after the first encounter.  We've also had at least one instance where the player took an obviously inferior character as their first, and through incredible luck they ended up surviving and never getting around to using the character with better stats.
So what about everyone else?  Do you have a method of character generation that you prefer which you think is a bit off the wall but works for you?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Frazetta for the Win


Better late than never.  I finally got around to hanging my 2017 Frazetta calendar! :-)  I actually didn't realize that they'd started doing these again.  Twelve months of Frazetta!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Miniatures Monday


Well, Miniatures Monday is a bit later than usual today, but that's because I only just finished this one last night and didn't have time to photograph it.  The miniature is Thrud the Barbarian for those who aren't familiar with Carl Critchlow's work.  This figure came from the Carl Critchlow special set for Zombicide Black Plague.  I really like the sculpt, but am sad that it's plastic rather than metal.  Speaking of metal, long time followers may recall that this isn't the first Thrud minature that I've painted.  Way back when (2012), I did a step by step series on painting one of the old U.K. metal versions.  You can see the result of that endeavor in the final post of that series here.  I think that this one turned out a bit better than the first, but I had a bit of trouble getting the lighting right.  :-)

If you like the miniature, you can get your own from Amazon here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Robert E. Howard at 111


On this day, in 1906, Robert E. Howard, arguably the father of sword and sorcery fiction, was born in Peaster Texas.  It still amazes me that even though he died at the age of 30, he had such a profound effect on the fantasy genre, and on roleplaying games.  I drink a toast to his shade and to the dream of what he might have accomplished had he lived longer.  May the fame that eluded him in life follow him into the next, and may all of those slain by the bloody hand of Conan stand as his honor guard in hell.

Stabguy the Pantless: Diablo Redux (video)

This morning, we played through the redone original Diablo levels on Diablo III, and we even managed to kill Diablo.  It was a lot of fun even though it took me a bit of time to get used to the forced pixelization that they did to make it a more authentic retro experience.  My barbarian made it through 15 levels before a pair of pants finally dropped for him.  It became a running joke with our group, and I was kind of sad when a pair finally dropped.  :-(  All hail Stabguy the Pantless!  Diablo remains after three iterations and many years, an extremely fun if somewhat mindless dungeon crawl.  Here's a short video of part of our quest to give you a feel of the graphics.  For those of you with Diablo III, the Diablo I levels are available in Adventure Mode through the end of January.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The last two weeks was great at the post box!

Not only did my leatherbound Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook arrive, but also my Sons of Gygax t-shirt (which sadly no longer seems to be available), an absolutely fabulous Patreon installment by +Tim Shorts (if you haven't check out his Patreon, you really should), and the latest edition of Crawling Under a Broken Moon by +Reid San Filippo .    Hooray for January!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weird Adventure Wednesday

It's been quite some time since we've had a Weird Adventure Wednesday around these parts, so let's fix that!


This week's weird adventure idea:

On a wintry day you are confronted by a down on his luck swordsman near an ancient shrine.  The swordsman tells you a rumor that 4 weeks ride to the east, Beneath The Ruined City of the Final Oracle lay The Labyrinthine Sewers of Tainted Dreams.  Rumors say that there is hidden The Destructive Vanadium Stabbing Sword of Emasculation.  The Swordsman tells you that he knows a buyer who will pay 10,000 gold coins for that sword.  But beware, for the swordsman warns you that The Radiant Pain Maiden of Harm feasts upon those that dare enter those sewers!

If you enjoy Weird Adventure Idea Wednesday, be sure to check out these free resources:

1,001 Weird and Wacky Adventure Ideas

and

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Kickstarter: Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom 2!

Well, just as I finally finished my review for the Delvers Lost in The Dungeons of Doom Kickstarter,  +Darcy Perry has launched the next one!  Honestly, the first one was fantastic, and I expect the second will be even better.  So, if you like miniatures, consider throwing some coin at this one guys!
I can't wait to paint Kroag!
No need to say it, but I'm in!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Miniatures Monday (Two photos and some thoughts)

Evil Cleric: Front View
This week, Miniatures Monday goes way back to the very early 1980s and to one of the earliest sets of miniatures that I owned.  I'd been playing D&D for a good while at that point, but the only miniatures that I had gotten were the Grenadier Dwarves boxed set (#2003), so I was pretty excited to get the Grenadier Action Art Monsters set (#8002) for Christmas one year.  That set contained two of my all time favorite miniatures, the Assassin, and the Lawful Evil Cleric.  I loved the cleric because of his awesome demon shield.  That things is just fantastic.  Heck, I even made several magic items for some of my games from it.  In one game the shield acted as a bag of holding that was large enough for the PCs to crawl into.  In another, the shield could exhale wind from its mouth and knock enemies down.  I was fascinated with the miniature, but I just never got around to painting it.  For over 35 years it sat unpainted until recently I decided to finally give it the full color treatment.  To some extent, I guess 35 years of expectation was too much to ever live up to.  This clearly isn't among my best work.  I could claim that it's an old miniature, and the detail isn't that great, or that my eyes just aren't what they were, but the end result is that I just didn't do as good a job on this one as I'd hoped.  I don't think that it's bad, but rather just disappointing.  At least the shield turned out OK, and that was my favorite part of the figure anyway.  Man, I love that shield. :-)

Evil Cleric: Rear View (The Shield!)
And for those of you who may not remember the Grenadier Action Art sets, here is a box photo.

That Drider is probably still around here somewhere...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Kickstarter Review: Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom!


Amazon, Wizard ,and Dark Cleric

Every year, I institute a moratorium on miniatures purchases, and every year something happens to make me buy more miniatures.  In 2016 , the big thing was the Kickstarter for Delvers Lost in the Dungeons of Doom! by +Darcy Perry and Star Hat Miniatures.  I came across this Kickstarter, and one look at the preview sculpts had me hooked.  I have to say that I was not disappointed in the results. Not only did they show up early (November instead of December), but I love the sculpts.

Berserker, Knight, and Barbarian

The first thing that you notice about these miniatures is that they have HEFT in your hand.  They are solid with excellently sculpted bases.  No slotted plastic bases here, or thin metal bases to save on casting material like companies such as Reaper have been doing in recent years.  These guys are meant to stand firmly on your gaming table!

Dwarf Lord, Druid, and Crusader

There is a ton of character in these sculpts with a bit of whimsy thrown in for good measure.  Just check out the mindflayer janitor.  :-)   In a market filled with miniatures, these are really something special.  The Miniatures are heroic scale at around 35-38mm, so they will stand out from many of your other miniatures, but as they are primarily PC miniatures that's a good thing.  Your PCs should be easily distinguishable from the other miniatures on the table.  They are the heroes after all!  The added bonus is that, being a little bigger, they are easier to paint for old guys like me. :-)

Janitor, Bard, and Alchemist

If I had to single out my favorites from this wonderful collection, I'd have to go with the Wizard and the Barbarian.  The wizard because he reminds me of the most bad-ass Gandalf in down, and the barbarian because he's a barbarian (and he has a mohawk).  I managed to get some of these guys primed before the weather turned too cold here, and I'm really looking forward to starting to paint them.  It's a long weekend here in the U.S. so I may just start today!

Thief, Ranger, and Assassin

I believe that +Darcy Perry  is working on another set for a future Kickstarter, so if you missed out on the first one, do yourself a favor and keep your eyes open for the next one.  Check out Star Hat Miniatures to keep up on the progress.  Also, if you live in New Zealand, I think that some gaming stores are carrying individual figures for sale from this set.

Monk, and Kobold Thuamatologist
Excellent miniatures.  Keep up the good work!  As a postscript, I meant to post this review months ago.

UPDATE: It looks like the new Kickstarter is in a draft state!  I can't wait.  Kroag looks amazing...

Friday, January 13, 2017

R.I.P. William Peter Blatty


Author William Peter Blatty has died at the age of 89.  I first read The Exorcist in high School and not being religious, I thought that it made a decent horror story, but not much else.  His work certainly didn't capture my interest like Lovecraft.  I seem to recall that my mother had been so disturbed by the book when she read it in the 1970s that she burned it.  I'm not sure where my copy is, but maybe I'll read it again someday.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Now that's a book!

My DCC 4th printing Kickstarter rewards arrived today from +Goodman Games !  I'm so happy that I sprung for the leatherbound edition.  Number 85 of 400.  It is one sweet book.  Check out that awesome +Doug Kovacs cover!  It's got a place waiting for it beside my Grimtooth's Ultimate Traps Collection.
This is indeed a tome.

Signed to boot!
I haven't even mentioned all of the extras that came with it.  The pad of zero level character sheets is amazing too.  A fantastic game and a fantastic Kickstarter!