Saturday, December 31, 2005

An order for Reaper Minis

I just placed an order for a bunch of stuff from Reaper. I've been going down to the local hobby store here in Minot, Force of Habit, and if they'd had any of these figs I'd have bought them there....but luckily I've discovered the Reaper on line catalog (see permalink in sidebar).

Here is the list of the current order:

  • Lady of Darkness #2184
  • Krung Beast #2405 (Which I will be using as a Stench Kow)
  • Townsfolk: Clergymen #3536 (which has a figure I will attempt to convert into a cleric of Gond for my campaign. Hopefully all I need to do is add a big yellow hat--and no naughty monkey)
  • Ice Queen #2163
  • Princess of Hell #3247
  • Queen of the Dark Elves on Throne #591
  • Alvhaera, Dark Elf Cleric #538
  • Arethusa, Nereid #2520
  • Bird Man #2603 (which I will be using for an aarakocra. I don't know why the Monstrous Compendium illustration shows it with bat wings, the description clearly discusses plumage and feathers.)
  • Lonnia, Female Duelist #3479
  • Female Necromancer #3547
  • Anastacia #80
  • Creepy Familiars (6) #3544 (I plan to use the doll golem for a Carionette, from Ravenloft)
  • Crystal Golem #3353 (I'm planning to use this as a Glass Golem as described in the Ravenloft Compendium Appendix)
  • Townsfolk II (Beggar, Strumpet, Blacksmith) #598 (I bought this mainly for the human blacksmith so that I can have an avatar of Gond. Most blacksmith figures tend to be dwarves and I was excited to find a human one.)
  • Dark Creeper #2467 (The WOTC version of the Dark Creeper has hooves, like a fawn. How does something with hooves "creep" down a dungeon hallway or a cavern passage? I much prefer this mini which is nearly identical in design to the original TSR artwork from MM, MMII or Fiend Folio....wish I had my books here in Minot. I'll correct these references when I get home.)
  • Duskraven, Undead Hunter #687
  • Adara: Succubus #2244 (I might use this for Glasya. I'll have to take a look at it and the other Succubus I bought. Either will need some modifications, but I will choose the one that needs the least work.)
  • Acid Beetles (2) #2218
  • Amiryth Elmlighter, Female Elf Archer #725 (I have a player running an elf ranger named Elessaria and she's currently using a figure I painted quite some time ago. I'm going to offer this figure to her and ask her if she'd like to paint it herself and use it instead. She might not, though, as this one has quite a bit less...armor...and I'm not sure how she feels about running an elf that is a little on the cheese cake side. Still, you never know.)
  • Melisande Wavecutter: Female Pirate #2245 (It is the lingering geek boy in this middle aged man that can't resist the female figures. They do call it "fantasy" gaming, after all.)
  • Talisman of Scrying Life Counter #3600
  • Crypt of the Vampiress #3551
  • Blade Dancer #3468
  • Gunther, Fire Giant #661 (I'm eventually going to run my PCs through the Against the Giants and Demonweb Pits modules, so I'm stocking up on giants and drow well in advance.)
  • Frorigh, Frost Giant #613
  • Frulla, Female Giant #636
  • Jahenna, Vampire Seductress #646
  • Egyptian Cat Statue #3613 (x2) (I have a PC based on Catwoman and intend to exploit her obsessive compulsive attraction to cat things. Two solid gold cat statues ought to tempt her to into any manner of foolish behavior.)
  • Lola Darkslip #1169
  • Starter Level Sculpting Armatures #1269
  • Green Stuff 6 Strip #2462 (I may suck at sculpting, but I've got to try.)


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

WOTC Needs

I've been spending hours and hours over at Stuff of Legends cataloging and identifying my fig collection pieces. Man, I wish I could get my hands on those old Grenadier Monster Manuscript box sets!

These are the ones I still need from the WOTC Dungeons and Dragons fig sets.

2 Dwarven Defender LG 55 R
34 Kapak Draconian LE 11 U
39 Urthok the Vicious LE 34 U
56 Ogre Ravager CE 38 R

3 Gold Dwarf Fighter LG 29 U
5 Large Silver Dragon LG 122 R
7 Paladin of Torm LG 51 R
25 Clay Golem CG/CE 56 R
28 Aspect of Bane LE 106 R
34 Gauth LE 39 R
44 Abyssal Eviscerator CE 29 U
46 Aspect of Lolth CE 75 R
58 Vrock CE 79 R
59 Young Minotaur CE 13 U

36 Lord Soth LE 98 R
41 Blue Slaad CE 50 R
44 Drider Sorcerer CE 30 R
50 Gnoll Sergeant CE 33 U

17 Frenzied Berserker CG 52 R
18 Goliath Barbarian 31 CG R
19 Greenfang Druid 50 CG R
20 Griffon 28 CG R
36 Grim Necromancer 35 LE U

06 Mounted Paladin 96 LG
08 Stone Giant 81 LG
09 Sword Archon 82 LG
14 Archmage 98 CG
19 Ghaele Eladrin 124 CG
26 Thri-Kreen Barbarian 55 CG

01 Battle Plate Marshal 43 LG 12
25 Iron Golem 61 LG/LE 10
26 Justicator 48 LG/LE 10
43 Death Slaad 53 CE 10
46 Drow Arachnomancer 52 CE 9

That's as of today, anyway!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Roll your own...

There's an old song by the Fabulous if AD&D 2nd Edition didn't date me enough...called Roll Your Own.

It goes:

"If you don't like the way that they make 'em in the city
the filter's too long and the damn paper ain't pretty...

Roll your own."

Today, I prepared a New Year's resolution guarenteed to make the wife question each our our sanities.

I'm going to learn to sculpt my own minis.

The horrors to come! Green Stuff, send me Green Stuff!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mage Knight?

Well, I'd never actually play, but as I mentioned before, I have run a figures based campaign pretty much since the beginning back in the late seventies.

For the Player, cost is pretty minimal, they buy one figure, paint it, and keep it in their dice bag. For the DM, not so simple or so cheap. I need a figure for every monster I run and nearly every NPC. I've even built a 3-D version of The Yawning Portal!

Anyway, the new sets of pre-pointed figs for D&D and Mage Knight...even some of the heroclix are a godsend.

They are super cheap...mostly...and come pre-painted and ready to terrorize my PCs.

I admit that the pre-painting in most cases is shoddy, but since I am not collecting and don't plan to re-sell, I have no problem with repaints and modifiying them with kit bashing.

Today I scrolled through a website with a pic of every individual MK figure ever released...I was suprised at how many of them I recognized as formerly lead figures from the 70's, but that's neither here nor there.

These are the MK figs I'd like to have. Most are under a buck, but some are in the $30 range....those I'm not in any hurry to get. I'm always interested in the cheapest, weakest versions, since I don't actually play or collect them.

When I get home from the in-laws I'll post my official Dungeons & Dragons want list.

The MK prices listed are the ones from the website...Everything Mage Knight. Consider this my letter to Santa:

Woodland Scout #13 YELLOW $ 0.39
Nightblade #29 BLUE $ 0.39
Wraith #155 UNIQUE $ 4.95
Neophant #156 UNIQUE $ 4.99
W007 Tanglewood Spirit $ 1.99
W010 Crystal Sprite $ 1.29
W049 Battle Queen $ 1.99
W056 Nightwitch $ 1.19
W062 Immortal Fanatic $ 1.49
W070 Thorn Crawler $ 1.99
Deadwood Golem #53 BLUE $ 1.29
Alsyn Vale #81 $ 1.49
Treasure Chests $ 0.10
Zombie Baron #149 $ 14.99
Nightblade YELLOW #28 $ 0.59
Seething Knight YELLOW #73 $ 0.89
Woodland Scout YELLOW #13 $ 0.59
Mending Priestess YELLOW #16 $ 0.59
Leech Medic YELLOW #43 $ 0.59
Amazon Blademistress YELLOW #85 $ 0.79
Warrior Sprite #7 YELLOW $ 0.99
Corrupted Priest #70 YELLOW $ 2.99
Elven Recruit #25 YELLOW $ 0.99
#040 Gorgon YELLOW $ 0.69
#052 Vine Golem YELLOW $ 0.59
#069 Carlana $ 1.99
#004 Forest Nymph WEAK $ 0.39
#079 Galeshi Knife Dancer WEAK $ 0.49
#088 Queen Corella UNIQUE $ 9.99
#092 Darq the Corrupt UNIQUE $ 34.99
Sand Minion Yellow 31 $ 0.99
Thiana Farseeker #74 $ 1.99
High Priestess Jaysari #82 $ 1.99
Vija of Vladd #83 $ 6.99
Phinidae #84 $ 2.99
Elabeth the Pure #94 $ 3.99
#103 Apprentice Conjurer WEAK $ 0.39
#109 War Priestess WEAK $ 0.49
#093 Chitterling UNIQUE $ 8.99
061 Solonavi Oathsworn* $ 0.99
#007 Blood Demon * $ 0.99
#011 Frost Minion ** $ 0.99
#020 Blood Cultist ** $ 0.99
#023 Oak Warrior ** $ 0.69
#025 Noble Initiate * $ 0.49
#047 Oak Mage ** $ 1.99
#067 Blood Priestess * $ 0.69
#088 High Priestess Kess UNIQUE $ 12.99
#089 Tythania Stormbringer UNIQUE $ 19.99
#093 Lady Rowan UNIQUE $ 14.99
#094 Kem Ravenbane UNIQUE $ 24.99
009 (Wave Spawn) *** $ 1.29
014 (Fang Worm) ** $ 0.89
041 (Moonborn Sorceress) * $ 0.99
058 (Amazon Warrior) ** $ 1.29
085 (Heirraman Priestess) * $ 1.99
015 (Arowyne Painbringer) Unique $ 1.99
133 (Heddravalis) Unique $ 9.99
137 (Seeker Elydia) Unique ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Conversion from 3E (and now 3.5E) to 2nd Ed.

I know that WOTC ate TSR, and unlike most purists, I think that is a good and natural thing. I hated the way TSR had ejected Gygax and admit that they spread thier customer base too thin by creating too many game worlds and cranking out too many products...I too was overwhelmed by them. Only having too many modules coming out to play them all kept me from realizing how poorly written and game tested they were...and that Forgotten Realms may have been the worst offender.

None of that means that the game system itself was fatally flawed...true, my math skills are not great and I had to calculate THACo with an actual calculator...but all this is beside the point of today's post....I'm not going to switch to 3E and you can't make me, you can't make me. (Try not to picture Gilligan in that episode where he refuses to dress up like a girl to save the castaways)

The point of this post is that when 3E first came out there were conversion tables and programs to help people transition to the new game system and carry their 2E products into the d20 (and 28mm)age.

Are there, or were there ever, any products or conversion materials to take 3E things backward?

Modules I can (and do) rewrite on the fly converting the plot, traps, etc pretty handily...but there are a lot of new monsters and NPCs that I'd rather base my conversions on something a little more solid than my own whims.

If there are reverse guidelines out there someplace, can someone let me know?


Monday, December 19, 2005

When you write code for 13 hours....

I'm currently in Minot, North Dakota, visiting my wife's family for the holidays. It is cold. When I have time, I've been working like crazy giving my new laptop (primarily designated for two things...writing and D&D...guess which I'm using it for most!) a workout by updating a huge pile of game related files.

Before we left for Minot I digitally photographed almost every figure I own...close to 3,000 if you count all the duplicates and dungeon dressing. Now I'm putting the digital photos of the figures into publisher files with AD&D Monstrous Compendium style stat and ecology pages...I'm also doing the same thing with all of my character and NPC figures.

Before we left I had gotten a bunch of PDF files of old 2nd edition materials off of the free downloads from the Wizards site and purchased from RPGnow, all of which I'm boiling down into my own campaign related support materials that will live on the laptop...which also has the AD&D 2nd Edition Core Rules and Expansion, the Forgotten Realms Atlas, and a few other related programs. I know, super geek.

What I've been working on mostly today is setting up a sprawling website for the campaign which will include a huge FR timeline and archive of campaign notes, NPCs, maps and so well as a links section to relevant support sites, related materials, and the Yahoo Group discussion board I set up for my players to organize play and share notes.

I could easily spend 24-7 working on this....but hereby resolve to make sure that I actually spend some time with both my wife and my wife's family and not spend the entire 20 days...that's right...20 days...madly typing away on my lap top in my mother-in-law's office.

After I get home, I'll send the new website and update links on this page.

I am sure that nobody else is reading this...but it helps my sanity to write this is like a confessional.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Welcome to the last outpost of a 2nd Edition hold out

A long time ago, in the late 1970's, my little brother (Scott C. Ristau, the author of Death Brand)had started reading The Hobbit, and I made fun of him mercilessly over his growing fascination with elves and something called "Gollum." He had our Mom make him a Legolas costume and I kidded that he was the fairy version of Robin Hood.

Then he heard that there were little lead figures being made in the images of all his favorite characters from the book. Assuming there would be rich fodder for more riducule of my younger sibling, I went along with Mom to the Hobby store, and took my friend Matt Clark with me.

The hobby shop was a tiny hole in the wall on Brady Street in Davenport, Iowa. It was crammed to the rafters with the most amazing array of lead soldiers and a new line of fantasy figures. Far from torturing my brother with teasing...Matt and I got hooked.

I purchased a little set, I think possibly made by Grenedier, which had a tiny little chutes and ladders style cardboard map (great grand-daddy of the 3rd edition dungeon tiles for miniatures) that led from one side to the other. It also came with a figure for a fighter, a magic user, and a hobbit theif as well as a few monsters. There was a paint brush, a strip of small connected paints like you got with paint by numbers sets, and one six sided die.

The game system was not D&D basic set, or 1st edition. This was the ancient days before international standardization. There were only three stats, Speed, Endurance, and Fighting Ability.

I was totally hooked by my little game, but the tiny game board was far too limiting. Before very long I was building a massive 3D dungeon out of balsa wood and coreboard several levels deep. We had 4x8 sheets of plywood all gridded out in 2x2 inch squares for outdoor battles, and we were making up ever more elaborate rules and stats for our game we were inventing. We called it Dungeons and Dragons, but we never bought an official rule book or an offical TSR module. We invented the game as we went along, and it was absolutely amazing.

Each of us had a party composed of 5 characters, and we all competed with each other to loot our dungeon, the DM managing up to 4 parties running in the dungeon simultaneously. We'd invented notebooks full of spells, items, and character histories. Each week we'd rotate who was the DM, and since nearly all of the dungeon's treasures and encounters were randomly generated from the tables we'd created, that didn't matter much, the DM was more of a referee than an opponent whose team was the monsters.

My brother, Scott, had a main character named Morgan who was a paladin who actually rode his warhorse through the dungeon with his knight companions. Matt Clark played, and so did Joe Fick and Audie McAvoy. We'd play every Friday night.

Each Friday had the same routine, we'd start by buying large amounts of Doritos and Moutain Dew, drop the supplies off at my house where we'd pretty much taken over the entire basement for gaming purposes--levels spead out from one side of the house to the other--and then we'd go to Godfather's Pizza to eat a large combo and flirt with the waitresses, play a few games of Pac Man, and then head home to play until we collapsed from exhaustion sometime on Saturday. When we woke up we'd all head to Davenport to buy new figures, come home and paint a few and then confirm plans to meet the following week.

After a year or so of college, though, playing became harder and eventually stopped. I kept all my figures, which by that point had become quite a collection. So did Matt. He actually works for Reaper Miniatures now, and rues the day that he sold me a huge slice of his figure collection when I started playing again in Iowa City in the early 90's.

I'd found some people (who probably would rather not have their names published due to a deep devotion to privacy) who were far more than casually avid players of the official AD&D game. They, like many of those hard core pencil and paper players, disdained my enthusiasm for all things miniature but wanted to encourage my support of their hobby. They agreed to try thier hand at playing in my world.

I had a hard time convincing them to learn my self-created game system, but they honestly did give it a go. In the end, however, they convinced me to try learing official D&D so that I could objectively decide which was better.

I have never lost my love for the simplicity of my own created game, however there was no denying that having access to all the official products was a benefit almost as important as having players who fully understood the game they were playing and who didn't constantly compare what I'd invented to something else.

I purchased the Forgotten Realms campaign setting and from that day to this I have run a second edition FR campaign.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss not only my campaign, but also any issues related to 2nd Edition and the vast field of collecting miniatures.

I hope you will enjoy my musings, offer some of your own, and in the comments section discuss 2nd edition rules and errata in this archaic form of gameplay.

We can talk about pretty much anything we want, so long as the discussion is civil.

The one thread I won't tolerate is anything trying to convince me to convert to 3rd Edition or higher. I've made the transition from one gaming system to another once in my life, and I'm too old to do it again. Don't try, or I'll delete your comments.

Dungeons have their master, and blogs have their owners, and here...I am both.

Ejoy, and let the quest for the survival of 2nd Edition begin!