Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm Thankful for the D&D Room

While my wife and I were cleaning in preparation for the guests coming over for Thanksgiving, we found the small digital camera we bought last year. It won't work for photographing miniatures because it can't focus on things that small, but it works great for general purposes. I've posted often about my basement D&D room, but rather than describe it I thought I'd take a few pictures and share what it actually looks like. You can click on the images to see larger versions.

This is a wide shot. I built that table like a theatre platform, with a 4x8 sheet of plywood reinforced with 1x6 boards on three sides, a 1x12 on the DM's end, 2x4 center strut, and legged with 4x4's. There is a 1x8 shelf on the long sides of the platform so players can have a place to write notes, keep miniatures, etc. outside the view of other players. The entire top is covered in a 4x8 vinyl Battle Mat marked off in 1" squares. Vis a Vis markers tend to stain the mat if you don't wipe them off within an hour or so--especially the blue and the red markers--so I'm hoping to eventually cover the mat with a clear plexiglas sheet.

Surrounding the table are the shelves for my miniatures and books.On the table are a some dugeon tile catacomb geomorphs I made around 15 years ago from cardboard inserts meant to seperate 8.5 x 11 sheets of scannable computer forms at the place I worked in Iowa City. These were marked off in a grid of 1" squares and then the cavern areas marked off and colored in with black Sharpie. The coffe can lights I made myself, along with the lightboard dimmer thing you see at the far corner. I took an old wooden lecturn and cut out slots for 6 rheostat dimmers and a master on/off switch. I don't do as much seat of the pants theatre as I used to, so the extra lighting comes in very handy down in the basement. On the top shelf you can see the Sophie Christmas Card I got from Reaper last year, signed by all the staff!

This is a better shot from the player's perspective of the game table. Standing up at the DM's end is a clear plastic thing for signs you can buy at any office supply store. I'm using it to hold up the Tables of Terror sheet from the 2E Ravenloft box set with all the Fear and Horror check tables. I use these in my world to make things a little more interesting without having to send the party to the Demiplane of Dread.

This is a shot from the other player's side. This gives a better view of the geomorphs and the bookshelf I got to put up most of the books I had as well as the new additions I got from my friend in Iowa City I told you about last month. On that shelf are all the books relevant to players most of my modules and box sets, and the cardboard geomorphs. I don't use the cardboard ones very much, but they photograph better than the revised version of them I made later. For those I took stiff construction paper and had catacombs on one side with sidewalk and building interiors on the other which were then laminated. I'll post some of these next week maybe. For now, let's continue the tour of the D&D room.

This is the Dungeon Master's Command Center. The 1x12 facing means my shelf is lower than that of the player's on the sides so that I can put my lap top on it at a comfortable height for typing and the screen almost below the level of the table allowing a clear view of all the table top action. To the right you can see hanging on hooks the Games Workshop area effect templates for breath weapon and blast radius. You can also see my cup warmer. The cup warmer is one of the best Christmas presents I ever got, it is over a decade old and probably a fire hazard, but I consider it as essential a device as a pace maker. The swivel chair lets me spin around easily for 360 degree access to the scanner/printer, DM console, filing cabinet, book shelves, and all the monster miniatures on three sides. In the filing cabinet (thank you Brad, I'm still using it!) I've got all the DM related books I need and my back issues of Dungeon and Dragon magazines. In the top drawer are files realting to world building and dungeon creation. 2nd Drawer are the laminated geomorphs I told you about. Bottom drawer are the loose leaf compendium sheets of monsters I've already scanned and entered into my Publisher 2000 Monstrous Manuals.

In this photo you can see the inside of the lecturn I turned into an ersatz mobile theatre dimmer board. It has very handy shelves for storing all my monster manual books. That thing with the magnifying glass is the light my wife bought me for my birthday last June for scuplting and painting miniatures. The clamp broke the first day, but I drilled a hole in the corner of the D&D table and dropped the light into it and it works great. When I'm not running a session all the DM console stuff is easily removed and this is a perfect work area for painting and sculpting.

On my left at the station I keep a music stand with an easleback ring binder. Inside the binder I've got xeroxed a collection of the most important tables from the DMG for very fast reference. It also has tables from earlier editions of the DMG, PHB editions, the revised regular D&D hardcover book that came out in the late 80's because I like the checklists it used for game day, game turn, encounters and combat sequence. It also has the tables for calculating experience points and random results tables for lots of different things from lots of different sources. Behind it you can see more monsters on shelves and the giant wall map of the Forgotten Realms I've cobbled together from all of the FR boxed sets.

Here is a close up of the DM console. On the left is the famous coffee warmer--I'm left handed. On the table top I've got in black Sharpie 1-10 numbered in squares and then 11-20. Standing there is a miniature of the White Queen from Marvel Heroclix mounted with Super Glue on a penny. She functions as my segment counter in melee. On the foldable book holder is an enlarged xerox of the time track table from the hardcover D&D book (this was different from AD&D 2nd Edition and was the main book for use in the Mystara Campaign Setting). I took the xerox and had it laminated in very stiff plastic. This is an extremely useful tool. Before I had a lap top to keep track of everything, I would flip this over and use Vis a Vis markers to keep track of the hit points and damage of monsters encountered by the PCs. You can see on the laptop that I use the wonderful Core Rules and Core Rules Expansion programs made by TSR. I love having a computer to use as a DM. Everything is so much easier. And, because I have a wireless connection in the basement, if I don't have the information handy, it takes no time at all to search the internet to come up with the needed info.

On my right hand side is the DM screen from the 2E Planescape Campaign Setting. You can also see my dice box--I prefer black dice--calculator and the really cool random generator dice I got somewhere. These include dice that will tell you what the dungeon features are, where a monster is encountered, where a hit was taken, level of foe, foe reaction, size of encountered creature, alignment, character class, and race. There is also a nifty "Death Die" which has normal dice pips, but the number 1 is replaced by a death's head. I also have a six-sided die I've converted to a three sided by changing the 4, 5, and 6 to 1, 2, and 3. Easier than dividing. I also like my wireless mouse and gel filled wrist rest mousepad.

This is a better shot of the books I was talking about that combine my previous collection with the ones I got from my friend in Iowa City in October. The other shelf on wall brackets is where my players store their character sheets and other info in ring binders. I also keep plenty of spray on glass cleaner and paper towels for wiping off the wet erase markers from the battle mat. It is also a good idea to keep a box of tissue handy. Around the corner is a large table where we can put snacks and where I also keep all my paints and terrain making materials. Terrain is a whole 'nother post for a later date. This one is taking up enough of your time already!

And, of course, there are the minis. This bookshelf has all the minis which might be used by my players as characters. They are arranged by character class, with each character class divided by male and female. We start with Female Fighters, then Male Fighters, and go through the various classes as arranged in the 2E PHB. There are some non-standard classes for my world, however, including the broad category of Martial Artist, psionicist, witch, shaman/occultist, pirate, hireling, and mutant. All are human, however, with the possible exception of the mutants. The possible minis for use by players if they want to play demi-humans are on the shelves with the other creatures and monsters, all arranged alphabetically as they are in the Monstrous Manual I'm creating in Publisher.

Individual minis are pretty hard to see in these images, but on the top shelf are figures of Forgotten Realms personalities, most of which were from the offical AD&D series by Ral Partha, but there are a lot of minis by other companies which come close to the descriptions in the FR materials if there is no "official" mini for that character, and the WOTC official minis are growing in number. On the second shelf are figures of personalities unique to my world. For some reason there are a lot of DC comic book characters in my world. I don't know if my PCs will enounter many of them, but I like knowing they are there. The third shelf is currently empty, but only so that there is room to expand as the number of monster minis grows. On the bottom shelf the monsters begin, all alphabetized, starting with the aarakocra. (For that monster I use a really good Reaper Miniature that I think is called "Bird Man") Tucked against the next set of shelves on the right of this image you can see a small gray organizer with pull out drawers. This is where I keep all of my dungeon dressing items. Having the organizer makes finding and putting out on just the right items or artifacts easy as pie. Mmmmm, much longer till Thanksgiving Dinner????

And here are the rest of the monsters, ending with Zombie Wolves. I'm very thankful that I've been enjoying this hobby since the mid-1970's. I'm very thankful that my little brother read The Hobbit and that his excitement over Tolkein led him to get our mom to make him a Legolas outfit and to take him to a hobby store in Davenport to get lead miniatures of characters from The Lord of the Rings books. I'm thankful I went with him, along with my friend Matt Clark. I'm thankful I got hooked and that playing D&D was one of the things my brother and my friends and I could all do together that didn't involve surgically removing BBs from leg wounds, bloody noses, black eyes, or accidental stabbings with kitchen knives.

I'm thankful that I was able to keep involved in the hobby and for all the friends I've been able to enjoy playing with over these past 30 years or so. I'm thankful my wife doesn't mind the hobby (too much) and has actually enjoyed playing it herself. I'm thankful Matt figured out how to actually make a pretty good living in the miniature business and that we have reconnected since the 25th High School reunion (and not just because he keeps sending me big boxes of Reaper Miniatures), and I'm also thankful for a whole lot of non-D&D related stuff but that wouldn't be appropriate for this blog.

Enjoy your own Thanksgiving, thank whoever deserves thanks--from Higher Powers to little brothers--and I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my D&D room with you.

Maybe one of these days I'll share the life size Uboat playset I'm building in another room of the basement. Did I mention my wife is very supportive and how grateful I am for that???

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Fig Pack of Miniatures up for Auction at eBay

Help Shandar raise money to fund the Blood War!

Big Fig Pack is up for auction right now, ending in 7 days. Pretty big lot, including the following minis:

ARCHFIENDS: Catfolk, Cursed Spirit

ANGELFIRE: Wrackspawn, Longstrider Ranger, Dwarf Mercenary, Dwarf Raider, Abyssal Skulker

UNDERDARK: Monitor Lizard, Mercenary Sergeant, Troglogdyte Barbarian, Halfling Sneak, Satyr, Orc Skeleton, Lolth's Sting, Gold Dwarf Soldier, Dark Creeper

WARDRUMS: Halfling Slinger, Sacred Watcher, Lion of Talisid, Inspired Lieutenant, Wood Elf Ranger, Hunting Cougar, Howling Orc, Arcanix Guard, Warpriest of Moradin, Terror Wight, Tiefling Blademaster, Karrnathi Zombie, Axe Soldier, Brass Samurai, Flameskull, Mephling Pyromancer, Derro, Orc Mauler, Horde Zombie, Hobgoblin Archer, Warforged Scout, Troglodyte Thug, Steelheart Archer, Blood Ghost Berserker, Combat Medic, Aspect of Moradin (w/ Epic Card), Hill Giant Barbarian, Fiendish Girallon, Wemic Barbarian, Warforged Bodyguard, Frost Dwarf, Sand Giant, Warforged Captain, Skeletal Legionaire, Goblin Underboss, Quaggoth Slave

War of the Dragon Queen: Meepo Dragonlord, Storm Archer, Tavern Brawler, Yuan-Ti Halfblood Sorcerer, Aasimar Fighter, War Weaver, Small Copper Dragon, Cleric of Syreth, Diseased Dire Rat, Warden of the Wood, Hunting Hyena, Small Fire Elemental, War Ape, Small Black Dragon, Twig Blight, Greenspawn Razorfiend, Cleric of Laogzed, Bonded Fire Summoner, Bluespawn Godslayer (epic), Huge Fire Elemental (epic), Aspect of Bahamut (epic), Dispalcer Beast Pack Lord (epic), Purple Worm (epic) Mountain Troll (epic), Poison Dusk Lizardfolk, Witchknife, Cloudreaver, Kobold Zombie, Large Fang Dragon, Wererat Rogue, Doomfist Monk, Demonic Gnoll Archer, Dread Warrior

Blood War: Doomguard, Skeletal Reaper, Gnoll Barbarian

D&D Miniatures: Unhallowed

I have been a little short on the green this month, so I have yet to order my normal 3 cases of the new miniatures...and so, I have been forcing myself to continue to live while only having been able to buy 7 booster packs of Blood War minis at the local game store.

I've had terrible trouble finding boosters for this set, they just are not on the shelves at the stores I normally visit. But, even though I haven't even really begun to buy Blood War minis, I'm already curious as heck about the next release due in March--Unhallowed. What will be in it? What does it all mean? Will my wife allow me to continue to spend money on these little hunks of lead, pewter, and plastic? Will my basement hold it all? Will I ever be able to get enough game time in with my players to justify the expense?

Probably not, but who cares?

HR: 80/80
DE: 60/60
AR: 55/60
(need Large Silver Dragon, Aspect of Bane, Gauth, Aspect of Lolth, Vrock)
GoL: 70/72
(need Lord Soth, Drider Sorcerer)
AB: 60/60
DK: 60/60
AF: 59/60
(need Archmage)
UD: 60/60
WD: 60/60
WotDQ: 60/60
BW: 60/60
UH: 0/60

Icons 2/2

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nalfeshnee Miniature

I have posted about this miniature before, but because it is one of my favorites in the collection, I don't mind doing it again using this nifty photo upload tool.

This is a Nalfeshnee which is almost identical to the original artwork from the TSR 1st edition books. I think the nalfeshnee from Reaper is scarier, but this one was such a rare find I can't help but love it the most.

When I posted the first time I had no idea what the history of the figure was, and couldn't find any references online, even at Stuff of Legends.

Finally, Michael at Classic Miniatures, gave me this answer:

"You have a very nice example of the old Minifigs Dungeons & Dragons line Type IV demon. Minifigs was the 1st company to have the official TSR license to make minis for D&D & call them as such. They went out of poduction at the beginning of the 80s. I think the Minifgs World of Greyhawk line lasted longer, perhaps to 1983.

This mini is fairly rare and due to the thin legs few survive unbroken. Nice figure, that is a prize. I have about 4 of these, one broken & none of them as nice as
yours. I'm a particular fan of anything that looks like the old MM drawings.

I've sent many scans along with dolly pieces from my Heritage masters to Max Carr hoping he will sculpt something new. Many members of my Yahoo Heritage collector group have expressed an interest in Max sculpting old MM style monsters. This is one of the requested pieces. Maybe someday..."



I'm compiling a list of minis from the old artwork I'd love to see, if you want to post your suggestions, I'd love to discuss them.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Converting 3rd Edition Monsters to AD&D 2nd Edition Stats

Here it is, my 3E to 2E Skunk Works Template.

While there exist several good conversion descriptions for taking your 2E whatever to 3E, you pretty much have to start from scratch converting a 3E to 2E. I've been winging it on a monster by monster basis, but I'm going to try to codify some of what I've been doing here. Mostly so it is written down someplace to help me remember how I'm doing it.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions (besides, "Dude, join the party and just learn 3E!") I'd welcome them.

I'll use the one I'm working on this morning, the Greenspawn Sneak from Blood War.

The first thing I do is create a Compendium style sheet for it in Publisher 2000. (No, I don't feel the same way about Publisher 2000 that I do about 2E, and will update when I wouldn't rather spend my extra money on new miniatures.)

Then I take a picture of the mini, which is hard to do now since I had to give the camera I was using for that purpose back to the school I no longer work for...but to be fair it was nice of them to let me keep using it all summer and half a semester after I started teaching at a new university. The whole point of this exercise was to have a compendium that used pics of minis instead of the TSR artwork, so I'll have to find a new camera somewhere. The images on the WOTC website, besides being copyrighted, are way too small to be useful for this project.

Then I have to find out which, if any, of the many shiny and expensive new 3E books the creature is listed in--not always easy--and obtain that book. I try to buy them on eBay.

"Dude, you mean you're buying the 3E books and not using them? That's whack. Dude, grow up and just play 3E, man."

Look, I told you. I prefer 2E whether I have the 3E books or not.

"Whatever, dude, but all the time you spend converting, wouldn't you rather spend actually playing something?"

No. Now, go write your own blog and get out of my head.

Ahem. As I was saying, if I can't find the creature in one of the books, I'll use the stat card it came with, but this won't give me many of the details since the miniatures game is even less concerned with ecologies, habitats, and other background information than 3E in general.

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: For this, you need to scan the text entries for a section called Environment. In this case, temerpate forests and marshes.

FREQUENCY: For this, you need to read the entire article to get a sense of how often the creature might be encountered, as there is no direct indication. I run a Forgotten Realms campaign, so the section at the end which discusses ecology specific to that setting usually gives a few clues. Sometimes in the 3E sourcebooks it will list this number under the Organization heading in the stats chart.

ORGANIZATION: You have to check both the strategies and tactics and the society section in order to come up with this information, though sometimes you get lucky and they come right out and say it in the sample encounters. Some 3E sourcebooks have an Organization heading in their stats charts.

ACTIVITY CYCLE: Again, the only thing you can do is read the whole entry and make a guess.

DIET: This information will often be given in the ecology section of the 3E entry.

INTELLIGENCE: This one is easy, as 3E gives all of the ability scores for monsters. I will admit that this is an improvement on 2E. The one that doesn't seem to translate perfectly is Strength because of the changes to exceptional abilities. Use this chart:
3E Exceptional ST = 2E Equivalent
19 = 18/01–18/50
20 = 18/51–18/75
21 = 18/76 –18/90
22 = 18/91–18/99
23 = 18/00
24 = 19–20
25 = 21–22
26 = 22–23
27 = 24–25

TREASURE: It is really diffucult to convert the information in the typical treasure section to the 2E treasure tables. Nearly impossible, really. I usually try to find a similar creature in the 2E books and hope for the best, mentioning any important with the Greenspawn Sneak, I'd look at what treasure is common for Green Dragons, which is H. That is a Lair Treasure value, though, and so it isn't going to work well for the Sneak. So, I ponder whether it is likely to have treasure values more similar to kobolds or troglodytes. (J,O or A) Neither of those work because these creatures don't carry coins and A is a very substantial lair treasure. Without anything else to really go on, in this case I scan table 84 in the DMG and look for a treasure category without coins, which pretty much is only U. So I put that, replacing Art Objects wtih 1d4 acid flask eggs per Sneak. Lair treasure I'm assinging a value of E.

ALIGNMENT: This is pretty straightforward.

NO. APPEARING: Here you often have to interpret information from clues scattered throughout the text section. For the Sneak we know that a strike team is 1d4 +1 leader, so 1-5 or maybe 10-20 (1d10+1) constitutes a "small settlement."

ARMOR CLASS: Armor class is a tricky conversion. What I have started doing is taking a base armor class of 10 to everything and subtracting any of the given 3E bonuses, so a +1 for size, +3 for Dex, +2 for armor, and +3 natural becomes a cumulative -9, giving the Sneak a total AC of 1 (or 3 without the armor). It probably isn't a perfect system, but it is close enough for jazz and provides a measure of consistency. The Conversion Manual says to take the 2E AC and subtract it from 20 to get the new AC in 3E, so if you don't know what the modifiers are, you could try subtracting the the 3E AC from 20 to get a 2E AC. In the case of the Greenspawn Sneak, you get a 2E AC of 1 with either method.

MOVEMENT: The conversion manual from 2E to 3E says to multiply the exisiting movement by 2.5 and round up to the nearest 10, which is how, for example a 2E dwarf with momement of 6 has a 3E movement of 40. Going backwards isn't that easy, since you don't know how much was rounded up before deviding by 2.5. The standard movement in 2E was 12, and the standard movement in 3E is 12 x 2.5 for 30ft/6 squares. So, what I do is divide the movement rate by 2.5 and then compare the creature to a human, and if (in the case of something similar to a dwarf) the result seems high, I adjust it down a little. Fortunately, the most common movement rating by far is 30, which is easy peasy to convert.

HIT DICE: This is usually a straight conversion, but in the 3E books many creatures have different types of HD (d8,d6,d10, etc.). Hit Die for monsters in 2E was generally d8 x the number indicated, unless there is something special about the monster that calls for a different die to be used. When a monster in 3E has a different HD than d8, but there isn't anything special about it to merit a higher die used, I will take the parenthetical hp number given and divide that by 8 to come up with the 2E HD level for the creature. For example, the Frost Worm on page 92 of the 3E MM has 14D10+70 as its HD, with 147 hp listed in paretheses. Dividing that by 8 gives you 18 for a 2E HD, which seems like a reasonable HD level for a creature with all these abilities.

If this method gives you something that appears too low, then instead of dividing the parenthetical hp total from the 3E book, get the max total hp using the 3E method and divide that by 8. For example, the Hammerer Automaton on page 27 of the MM2 is listed as 3d10 (16 hp). Dividing 16 by 8 gives you would make this a 2 HD creature. That seems too low. 30 divided by 8 gives us 3.75, so I'd say this creature's HD in 2E is 3 +7, which seems more reasonable.

(As I've said, there is really no concrete way to convert from 3E to 2E, these are only guidelines for basically re-inventing them from scratch.)

If the creature has advanced versions (check the advancement line) then be sure to include those in the range. For example, the Nashru in MM IV would be HD: 4-15. Don't forget when you get to the experience point values you group them as indicated. i.e. 4HD, 5-9HD, and 10-15 HD.

THAC0: Determined by the Hit Die against table 38 in the DMG. Use Warrior for monsters.

NO. OF ATTACKS: If the melee line doesn't specify this, I go more by the figure than any straight up conversion. If the figure has two weapons, I give it two attacks. Why would the figure carry two weapons if it couldn't use them both in combat? If it looks like it has a tail attack, it gets that, if it has bite and claw, it gets those, plus breath weapons. If a creature is of very high hit die, then I compare hit die to level advancement in warriors. In the case of the Greenspawn Sneak, I figure it has a 1 or 2 for number of attacks. It has a nasty looking maw, so it probably has a bite attack, but I doubt it could bite at the same time it is using two of its dragonsplit sword thingies, so you'd have to decide at initiative round if you were going to use bite or dragonsplit. I suspect, however, that if it were using natural claws instead of the dragonsplits, then it could probably have 3 attacks, or a grapple (combination of two claws) and a bite. Game science is so complicated....which is why if there really is intelligent design for the real world, that intelligence must be pretty danged intelligent.

DAMAGE/ATTACK: For this I go by the melee line in the 3E book or card. It can be confusing in some of the monsters, so I will adjust for game logic in my system. Most of the time, though, it will tell you. For example, the Nashrou in MM IV, the melee line says 2 gores +5 each (1d8+2) and 2 claws +3 each (1d6+1). I would convert that to 4 attacks, 1d8+2/1d8+2 (gore) and 1d6+1/1d6+1(claw). As I read it, this includes the strength modifier already. Correct me if I'm wrong. The special dragonsplit sword of the Greenspawn Sneak has a special attack, which must be called by the Sneak, using the slashing edge for a quadruple-damage critical hit. So, you'd add a (x4) to the damage of any critical hit. Since I use critical hit tables, though I haven't decided if this would be in addition to the damage result on the Crit Hit table. Probably I'd go with the x4 instead of the Crit Hit table on this monster, but again, this is the kind of thing that is so maddening about converting 3E to 2E.

"Dude, I'm telling you..."

No, I'm telling you, I'm not converting to 3E!

SPECIAL ATTACKS: Check the attack options, feats, and skills and decide which you want to use, then figure out a logical way to convert them into 2E mechanics.

SPECIAL DEFENSES: Also check the attack options, feats, and skills here and, as above, convert those which are appropriate. You should also check and include any vulnerabilities in the combat section of the body text. Be sure to also check for any damage reduction defense and convert to 2E mechanics, such as "hit only by silver weapons" or other as appropriate.

MAGIC RESISTANCE: I am not 100% clear on this, but as I understand it, if there is no line in the 3E stats for spell resistance, this is Nil. If there is a line which gives a number for Spell Resistance, subtract 11 and mulitply by 5 to get the percentage of magic resistance. This based on the conversion instruction in the 3E conversion manual which says to do the opposite to get the Spell Resistance number.

SIZE: This is based mostly on the figre used, as there is no direct correlation between the size categories in 2E and 3E. Many of the 3E books do have a heading with a size indication, such as "Huge Magical Beast" which will give some hint, but remember that the size categories are different for 3E and it won't always work to use that as a guide.

MORALE: Here you just have to guess based on the intelligence of the creature and the description in the 3E text to give you an idea.

XP VALUE: I use the Calculating Experience Points page from the Ravenloft Compendium, which includes expanded versions of tables 31 and 32. First figure out the base value of the HD for the creature, add the modifiers from table 32, and then see where the adjusted HD and corresponding value are on table 31 and that's youre experience point for the creature.

For the body text of the entry you have to do a lot of cutting and pasting of the text from the 3E books, as they are organized in a completely different way than the basic 2E compendiums (Description, Combat, Habitat/Society, Ecology).

It takes a little bit of effort per creature, but I'd soooo much rather play 2E than 3E that it is all worth it to me.

If this helps anyone, or you have helpful tips to offer, I'd appreciate them. Just don't try to convert me. I'll delete you with my make the 3E troll vanish spell.

This all took longer than I thought to describe, so I'll leave out giving you the possibly copyright infringing conversion of the Greenspawn Sneak. Try your own conversion, and we'll compare notes.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Sand Dragon

For years and years I'd used this dragon miniature (possibly another in the Sculptor's Row series by Ral Partha?) as a representation for a Deep Dragon.

WOTC came out with their own Deep Dragon mini in Underdark (#52 Large Deep Dragon--see sidebar image) though, and since they set the standard appearance for trademark, my dragon figure had to become something else.

I don't know why I painted it this ocher color, but I'm sure I painted it before I decided to make it a Deep Dragon. I think it was something about the dragon being perched on rocks that reminded me of the illustration of a deep dragon in the TSR materials. I couldn't find any 2E compendium sheets that looked like this dragon, but the color reminded me of sand, so I have decided to invent a desert dwelling dragon to bedevil the sand giants. Stats are very similar to the compendium sheet for the Sapphire Dragon (since I just copied the page), with a few changes.

Most notably the breath weapon:

A sand dragon's breath weapon is a cone of incredibly arid and dehydrating air, 75' long, 5' wide at the dragon's mouth, and 25' wide at the base. Creatures caught by the blast may save vs. breath weapon for half damage from dehydration caused by the drying air. Victims who reach 0 HP are considered completely dehydrated and are dead. Victims killed in this fashion are unable to be raised from the dead and are completely mummified. Sand dragons will not eat food which has not been dried in this fashion. A sand dragon casts spells and uses its magical abilities at 7th level, plus its combat modifier.

It also has a little barb on its tail, so I've endowed it with a poisonous sting like a corpion's.

PS: As to the previous post, I'm very pleased with the electrifying showing the Blue Dragons had earlier this week.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Red or Blue? VOTE TODAY!!!

Remember when they used to trade blue and red colors every election so that no party was identified with either color? Well, those days are in the past for good. The Republicans have claimed Red and Democrats have claimed Blue...and probably with the mania our nation has for branding, we'll never go back.
So, if that's the case, wouldn't it be nice if these were our national party symbols instead of Donkeys and Elephants?

Today is election day. I hope you're informed. I hope you've read a newspaper, a book, and maybe watched Meet the Press a time or two over the past few weeks. I hope you will go to vote today. I hope that when you cast your vote, you know what you're voting for and who you are voting for and what that candidate actually stands for.

For example, in Virginia, you keep seeing all these signs and negative ads about the so-called Marriage Amendment. Make sure when you go in there, prompted to vote yes, that you realize that gay marriage is already illegal in Virginia and that this proposed change to our state constitution doesn't protect marriage, it creates legal punishments for everyone who isn't married. Make sure that sure that you know what you are voting for instead of just what you've been told to vote against, regardless of which color dragon you identify with.

And yes, I realize that both of these types of dragons are evil, but isn't it always about determining the lesser of two evils? To me, the greatest evil is proclaiming a love of democracy and then not exercising the most basic responsibility a member of a democratic society be an informed voter.

Now, if we could only get some quality scrying devices to monitor the voting machines built by the Red Wizards of Thay to ensure accuracy. And a pocket full of Detect Lie scrolls sure would come in handy this time of year.


Monday, November 06, 2006

10-461 Fearless Frost Dragon

This was a series, I think by Ral Partha, called Sculptors Row. It is my favorite White Dragon that I have, I doubt that the WOTC White Dragons are going to ever make me feel differently, though the white dragon head on the Aspect of Tiamat does look very similar to the artwork of the 2E compendium sheet for White Dragon.

I read on one of the various 3E message boards I sometimes visit because a google search for something has brought up these 3E punks complaining about how stupid and awful 2E is and I need something to distract me momentarily from my very bad habit of reading conservative political blogs to get my blood pressure rising. Not that high blood pressure over D&D is any better than high blood pressure over politics, but at least it is easier to dismiss as fantasy than, I digress.

I was reading one of these message boards and they were talking about how the recent trend by WOTC to standardize dragons in order to more effetively enforce copyright and trademarks for specific dragon characteristics was having a negative effect on the variety of possible looks for dragons.

I'm a little torn. As you know, I am committed to finding figures that look like TSR artwork (and thankfully, WOTC figs often bear a passing resemblence), but I agree that it would suck if I felt like the above dragon wasn't really a White Dragon because it had two horns and not one bony fin. I also don't want to feel like I need to sell my black dragon from the Krynn box just because its horns are straight and not curving down in such a way as to pose real problems in eating like the WOTC official Black Dragon does. So, I think in my world there will be a little more variation than WOTC would like...and the main identifying characteristic of a dragon will be its color, rather than its trademarked physical features. If a dragon is white, no matter what else it looks like, it is probably a fair bet that it will hit you with a cone of cold rather than a gout of acid.

Maybe you want me to say, well, white dragons look like WOTC say they do, but what you have here is clearly a Frost Dragon, like the box says it is.

Fine. Call it a Frost Dragon, then, but the stats, background, and ecology of Frost Dragons and White Dragons are going to be exactly the same and I'm not doing a seperate sheet in the compendium for it! So there.

I'm going to scan this compendium sheet now and then go up and re-read Life is a Dream, since I'm teaching it to a dramatic lit/theatre history class in about 4 hours.

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Draconians and Dragon-kin

I don't run a Dragonlance campaign, but I've got a lot of the miniatures, and WOTC is doing minis of each of the different types of Draconians so if I have complete sets of WOTC minis, then I'd have Kapaks and Baaz and the other Draconians anyway.

What I'm doing for the Draconians in my world is lumping them all together and using the stat sheet for "Dragon-kin" from the Dragon Mountain Box Set, with a few changes. All Dragon-kin are universally evil, they do collect treasure but never monetary--only armor, weapons, and in particular magic items. Only Dragon-kin born without wings (female?) are capable of actually using magic items and spells. Unlike Dragonlance Draconians, mine can breed, but very slowly, so that eggs are the greatest treasure. Here is the main deviation from the original Dragon-kin compendium sheet in my world:

"No one knows exactly how these creatures came into existence, though it is theorized that some form of magic or polymorph spell was at play, and so their very being is somehow tied to magic—thereby explaining their intense desire to collect magical items with an almost sexual fetish.

When a Draconian reaches 0 hit points, the skin immediately begins to dry and shrivel, cracking apart and falling from the bones of the creature for 1d4 rounds. At the end of this time, the bones explode in a violent eruption sending shards of bone fragments in a 20 foot radius in all directions, causing 1d6 points of damage to everyone within the area. Any item being carried by the creature during such a death event, or carried by anyone within the area of effect must roll against item saving throws for disintegration, their magical energies consumed in the death flash of the Draconian."

As you can guess, I'm working my way through the D secton of my Monstrous Compendium in Publisher 2000. I may be in D for the rest of my life with all the varieties of Dragon, Dragon-kin, Draconians, Spellscales, Dragonborn, Dragon Spawn...and don't get me started on the number of Deities there are from all the various pantheons.

Another big issue WOTC created for me, but that I'm actually kind of happy about, is their change from TSR's kobolds to their new and more draconic kobolds. This is the Ral Partha kobold created for the Dragon Mountain adventure. I consider it the high point of original kobold evolution. I also still have a bunch of the Grenadier kobolds with the red vests and axes. Original edition kobolds were more like a cross between dogs and lizards, and they made yipping, barking noises. The 3E version are clearly dragon offshoots and so different from the earlier kind that I have made them two distinct races.

Dragon-kin kobolds follow pretty closely everything set out in the 3E books, though with a few changes here and there.

I kind of did the same thing with Ghouls, Ghasts, and Ghoul Lords. I used to use the Cthulu ghouls, but when WOTC made their ghouls so human-like, I set out two types of ghouls, those which are monsters that breed true, and those that are transformed humans. I won't go into it too much here, perhaps I'll do a ghoul comparison entry down the road. Right now I should get back to text scanning the sheets in my D section.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Morgan the Mounted Knight

I just found out via email that my brother checks this blog from time to time. I've mentioned before that he used to play a character in my old D&D world back in high school who never dismounted. His character and two other knights rode their war horses through the dungeon. Like a medieval motorcycle gang. I think this is the miniature he used to use for himself, though it is missing an arm now. I remember it had a long lance, like the other two smaller knights he "rode" with.

So, Scott, if you're out there, can you leave a message and confirm that this is Morgan?

I think in my new world (where a lot of my old characters now live) I'll set Morgan up as a baron somewhere in the Dagger Hills with the WOTC Mounted Paladin figure used as his son, the Noble Jarrid. And maybe a lovely daughter who needs rescuing? I think the wife of the Baron will be a high level cleric. I don't think Morgan, after all his troubles with wizards, would trust any magic other than clerical magic. is all taking shape.

Perhaps, hidden in the castle of the Baron, is one of the items Shandar is sending the Company of the Severed Head out to quest for.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lost Minis I'd Like To Obtain

Most of these images came from Stuff of Legend, simply the best resource for identifying minis from the golden years of miniatures. If they belong to someone and you want them taken down, let me know.

If you know where I can get any of these minis, please contact me. I'd really like to have them in my collection.

This is Monster Manuscript Volume R-S (Grenadier 1509). I'm mostly interested in the Roper they have listed as Stone Tangler MM 79. Although the Rust Beast and Shadow would be nice too. For some reason I have the Satyr (MM 75) in my collection but none of the others. In my campaign world I incorporate female satyrs, but they are very rare. I have to include them, I have figures for them, so I know they exist. In my world only a union of a male and female satyr can produce a female satyr, about 25% of the time. Children of mated pairs of satyrs are bigger and stronger than those of mixed heritage. (Accounting for the size difference between 25mm and 28 or 30mm figures.) Male satyrs who mate with dryads create only male stayrs or dryads. Dryads or satyrs of either sex who mate with other species produce no offspring.

I am always interested in getting more Shrieker Fungus miniatures, which were originally in the Grenadier set 5004 Tomb of Spells. This set also had the classic ettin, mind flayer, larva, and giant spider. I use the cockatrice from this set, and the wight. All the above minis are fairly accurate representations of the original TSR artwork, or maybe the artwork was based on the minis, I don't know. The rest of the set, especially the skeletons and ghost with rope belt are nothing to write home about. I wish someone would do a mold of the Shrieker Fungus and crank out a bag of plastic versions of this so you could have a forest of them. Same with the other large mushroom species from various sets.

I have never actually seen this miniature, so of course I'm desperate to get one. It is TSR 5801 Queequeg.

If you have any of these, or know where I might find them, please let me know. I'll post some more of my wants list in coming weeks, including images from old TSR books of minis I wish someone would make. (hint hint Reaper and WOTC)


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Buy the D&D 2007 Calendar

I just found out my friend Lee Moyer did some of the artwork for it.

He's terrific. Check out his website if you don't believe me.