Thursday, August 30, 2007


Well, I got prepped and we had our session last week, and it all seemed to go very well. I've been doing more work on my 2nd edition citation project on an excel spreadsheet, and am looking forward to having Office 2007 on both my office and home computer so that I can update everything that I have in Publisher 2000 to 2007, which finally has a save to pdf feature. Yay.

I did another inventory and update of the Monstrous Manual/Fig collection, and decided it was finally time to do a scratchbuilt Gambado.

I've always found the monster interesting, and it does appear in a module I'd like to use, but nobody has ever thought it was worth making a miniature of.

I took a mageknight figure I had of a minotaur with no flesh on its head...I don't know what the name is, but somebody out there will probably know what it is.

Here is the image: Then I took a little green stuff and after cutting the MK mini off at the waist, I did my sculpt using all of my meager skills.

Here is the unpainted image:
This is the image after finishing it up and painting it:
It isn't perfect, and I know the gambado doesn't carry weapons or have "hands" but I guess they do in my world, because this is as close as I am ever likely to get to having a gambado...unless they are suddenly very popular among R&D in creating the new line for DDM 2.0

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dwarven Forge

I've been doing postings over at The Severed Head Blog of my Player's miniatures as they proceed through the current module, Doom of Daggerdale.

They actually played all this stuff a year ago, but I'm trying to catch up so that I can record their history in real time with images from the digital camera. One of the rooms in the module is an abandoned dwarven forge, and there just isn't a lot in the way of dungeon dressing to equip such a room. I tried all over town to find something, even looked into a dollhouse fireplace and bellows...but nothing. The closest thing was a plastic representation of an outdoor brick grill I saw at a train shop, but the guy told me that it went for huge bucks because it was only made in the 50's and nobody does anything like it anymore...then he told me a million stories about model trains with a Lord of the Rings theme and I barely escaped with my sanity.

I decided that I would have to make my own out of brown stuff, and I got this toy plastic haystack for 99 cents and cut part of the bottom off for a base. Then I used the bottom part of a dice box and an upsided down metal base from Reaper and started adding on bits of brown stuff rock. I used a match to burn out the hole in the side for the fuel, and discovered that brown stuff both melts and burns.

I probably could have done a better job if I weren't in a hectic hurry, but I'm fairly pleased with the results. I stuck a couple of Reaper shields on it to make it more dwarfy, and then let it harden. I snapped the pics for the blog before painting it, figuring that if they bump into the forge again it will look different that way.

At any rate, my dwarven forge!

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Campaign Histories

A while back I posted that I had created a unique way to handle hand outs for spell scrolls using Publisher. This program is a quick and easy way to create all sorts of posters, booklets and brochures.

What I did was use a great jpeg of parchment I found on the WTOC website, and then put the spell description over that. When a player finds or buys a scroll, I simply print it out and use a three hole punch to make it possible for the player to "write" it into his "spellbook" by simply slipping the page into a three ring binder.

Back in January I started posting to a blog (Severed Head Blog) my "novelizations" of the player's notes from our campaign. The player's notes are great, but tend to be heavy with game mechanics and light on the role playing. This makes them perfect for prepping for the next session, but less useful for maintaining the feel of actual role playing when trying to catch up on the full arc of the story. The blog is done entirely in character as though written by the main NPC, my "character" of Shandar. These posts include information from the module which the players failed to note but that the characters would have certainly been aware of. It also has photos of the various creatures, NPCs and terrain features which aid in keeping the details fresh no matter how long it has been since the last session. Lastly, I add some dialogue which may or may not have actually been role played by the players. The players are then free to make comments in character disputing anything Shandar has written about them, and making corrections where they feel that Shandar has been inaccurate or taken too many liberties in describing what their characters have done.

One of the flaws in blogger is that posts are done in reverse order chronologically, with the most recent first. I've had players request a way to sort the posts in the chronology of the story line and there just isn't any way to do that. As a result, I've decided to use Publisher to create a chronology using the same style as that used for the spell books. This can then be rendered as a PDF and distributed to the characters via the Yahoo message board for the campaign. If they wish, they can print it out and then can use it as a reference during the campaign. These PDFs will be annotated with maps and other useful info from the module and updated after each major section of the campaign.

Here is the image I'll use for the cover:
I don't remember where I found the image, I think I simply did a google search for book or maybe spell book. If the image is under copyright and you are the owner, please leave a comment saying so and I will remove the image or give credit accordingly. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Here is the image of the parchment paper:
This image was on the free downloads page at Wizards of the Coast. You could probably find other images of parchment paper on the internet which are just as good or better.


Friday, August 17, 2007


In my first dungeon, we were using not the original basic D&D rules or even 1st edition stats, but our own expanded version of the the Paint n Play sets put out by Heritage in their Dungeon Dwellers series...with only three stats: Speed, Fighting Ability, and Endurance. Everything was on a d6, not a d20. Each player had a party of 5 characters and we were all running our parties through the dungeon at the same time trying to compete with each other to find the good stuff before the other parties did.

Those were wonderful days because we were literally inventing the game as we played it. Everything was figure based, and we had built these free standing dungeon levels out of foam core board and balsam wood painted to look like stone and marked off in squares that were 10'x 10' (2").

The absolute worst monster on the 1st level lived in this cell that was 30' x 30' and I remember there was sand and bits of straw glued in there for it to sleep on and a big offal pile you could search through, but you had to keep cauterizing your hand with a torch because it was rot grub infested.

At any rate, the monster that lived in there was something we called the Gorgor. Or maybe it was Gorgar. It was huge, ugly, mean, and deadly. It was like a rhino centaur. If you got the cell door open, or if he got mad enough and broke it down, he charged you and trampled you and ripped out your guts.

When becoming grown ups finally split my high school gaming group apart, my friend Matt Clark (now at Reaper) and I split up the miniatures we'd kept at my house because that was where the dungeon was. He got the Gorgor. Then when I started to play again in the mid 90's, he gave me back a bunch of them and the Gorgor was one of them. We couldn't remember the real name of the figure or the company that made it.

I recently picked up another pile of old Dragon magazines and in issue #55, November 1981, that very miniature was reviewed on page 70.

For future reference, the miniature was/is a Gorillasaurus, and was manufactured by Archive Miniatures.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I give you on his collosal come back tour, direct from 1981, GORILLASAURUS!!!!!


Morons or Evil Geniuses?

So, yesterday the entire game world was clicking into the official WOTC website to find out about these 4th Edition rumors...and all they got was a very plain graphic with the word 4deventure, some line drawings of figure concept art and a bunch of dice which had rolled to "4"...and a counter counting down to around 6:30PM.

When the counter hit zero there were so many people trying to complain about the 4th Edtion of D&D that the website crashed and still today all you get is:

We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties
Unfortunately, due to an extremely high load on our web servers, we have been unable to bring you our normal web content. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that you please try again in a few hours! Our technical team is aware of the problem and working on it.
Thank you for your patience!

So...were they stupid enough to think their server could handle the reaction of coordinating everyone logging onto their website at exactly the same time? Or were they purposely creating the bottleneck in order to put the hype into hyper drive and put off the rain of complaints until people had a chance to cool off a little bit?

I honestly can't tell...but as Spock once said, "A difference that makes no difference is no difference."

Spock must die.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fourth Edition magically turns teenagers around the country into Grumpy Old Men

It appears to be true, the 4th Edition of D&D will be announced at GenCon this week.

The various forums are ablaze with people wailing and complaining about their shelves being laden with now worthless books.

Welcome to my world, folks. I can't help but giggle a little at all those little [descriptive term deleted] who told me to grow up and start playing 3E. And they are all hoping that 3E materials will still be supported...Take a look at how well they support 2E and you'll know how your hopes will fare.

Here's a press release:

August 16, 2007 (Renton, WA) – Whether you storm a mad wizard's tower every week or haven't delved into a dungeon since you had a mullet and a mean pair of parachute pants, one thing is certain - millions of D&D players worldwide have anticipated the coming of 4th Edition for many years. Today, Wizards of the Coast confirms that the new edition will launch in May 2008 with the release of the D&D Player's Handbook. A pop culture icon, Dungeons & Dragons is the #1 tabletop roleplaying game in the world, and is revered by legions of gamers of all ages.

The 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game includes elements familiar to current D&D players, including illustrated rulebooks and pre-painted plastic miniatures. Also releasing next year will be new web-based tools and online community forums through the brand-new Dungeons & Dragons Insider (D&D Insider) digital offering. D&D Insider lowers the barriers of entry for new players while simultaneously offering the depth of play that appeals to veteran players.

The 4th Edition rules emphasize faster game play, offer exciting new character options, and reduce the amount of "prep time" needed to run the game. D&D Insider includes a character creator that lets players design and equip their D&D characters, dungeon- and adventure-building tools for Dungeon Masters, online magazine content, and a digital game table that lets you play 24/7 on the internet — the perfect option for anyone who can't find time to get together.

"We've been gathering player feedback for eight years," said Bill Slavicsek, R&D Director of Roleplaying and Miniatures Games at Wizards of the Coast. "Fourth Edition streamlines parts of the D&D game that are too complex, while enhancing the overall play experience. At its heart, it's still a tabletop game experience. However, D&D Insider makes it easier for players to create characters, run their games, and interact with the rest of the D&D community."

Wizards of the Coast will release two 4th Edition preview books in December and January — Wizards Presents: Classes and Races and Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters. The first live demos of 4th Edition will happen at the D&D Experience gaming convention in Washington D.C. in February 2008. The full scope of 4th Edition books, miniatures, and adventures will be available in the spring and summer of 2008.

Since its first release in 1974, the fantasy roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons has taken millions of players on imaginary adventures of epic scale. Today, D&D is universally regarded as the original game that created the roleplaying game category, and the inspiration for generations of game designers. D&D is enjoyed by millions of players worldwide, while countless more remember it with fond nostalgia.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reaper's Legendary Encounters Minis

I got my batch of Legendary Encounters Pre-Painted Plastic Miniatures last week. They really exceeded all expectations and are going to be very useful in the campaign.

20004: Skeleton Swordsman
20005: Skeleton Archer
20006: Skeleton Spearman

I didn't get any Skeleton Archers in my packet from Matt at Reaper, but the skelies I did get were all great. They are a an ivory or off white color and nicely shaded. What can I say about skeletons?

20010: Orc Swordsman
20011: Orc Archer
20012: Orc Spearman

These are great. I know in the official D&D chat rooms they are all freaked out about orcs being green instead of grey. Get over it. My orcs are all still grey, but Swamp Orcs (Jor) are supposed to be greenish blue. They are also bald and use scimitars. Ka-ching! I now have a huge pile of swamp orcs that I don't have to paint. And I don't know that I could have painted them any better than this. The paint jobs on these Reaper plastic figs is head and shoulders above the WOTC pre-painted minis. Check out the detail!

20013: Cave Troll

I was very pleased with the Cave Troll miniature. I don't know if WOTC is ever going to do a cave troll based on their 3E artwork, but if they do, I am sure that I can find something else to use it for. This mini is perfect for the cave troll and it gives me a reason to buy all the Reaper metal troll line. I hadn't been before, because all my normal trolls are the old Ral Partha official AD&D line trolls. I liked the Reaper Trolls, but didn't really have a use for them...the plastic version really changed my mind about that and I just today added the Cave Troll sheet to my Monstrous Compendium. Nice work!

20014: Ogre Chieftain

There is a very wide variation among minis of ogres. Even among the WOTC line there are some ogres that look like half-orcs on steroids and some that look like feral horse people. I was very glad that Reaper made their ogre an ocher color. I mostly use the Ral Partha ogres from the Bilidum box set, and Reaper's looks like an orog version of those, which makes me pretty happy about including it on my shelf. The painting is really nice.

20015: Minotaur of the Maze
I already had two of the metal version of this minature, it really is a fantastic sculpt. I love the paint job on this mini, and in general, it blows all of the WOTC minotaurs out of the water. The only problem with the mini is that it is easily knocked off balance, and could use a wider base. One of the two minotaurs I got in the box had legs bent so that it was even more off balance than it would ordinarily, and so it won't stand up.

I haven't tried the hot and cold water trick yet, but I suspect that will be all it will take to fix the problem. With plastic minis, pour very hot water on them if they are bent and then move it into the place you want it to be, then have someone else pour ice water over it and it should hold in place in the new position.

So, in general, I give the new line of plastic miniatures from Reaper a bit thumbs up.

My only suggestions would be to concentrate on doing plastic versions of the really large miniatures, which are prohibitively expensive, like the Pit Fiend.

I also had a dream last night that Reaper started doing plastic hallway and cavern sections like Dwarven Forge does in resin or plaster. Plastic, pre-painted sections wouldn't break. They would be cheaper. They would weigh less so shipping costs would be less. I wouldn't want them to do the bow tie thing (which is probably trademarked anyway) and I would want them to be whole sections instead of half more like Hirst Arts but already assembled. Spiral staircases, dungeon features, altars...and in the underdark, lots of plastic shrieker fungi and other cavern features.

I'd buy a lot of those.

A lot.

Especially if they did cavern geomorphs.

It would be cool if they did a product that got WOTC customers buying a bunch of stuff to use in their system too.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mountain Troll Conversion

Troll: Mountain
DIET: Carnivore
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
NO. APPEARING: 1-2 (1)
THAC0: 6
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 or 3
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 3d8+28/2d6+6 or
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Knockdown, reach
MORALE: Elite (14)
XP VALUE: 8,000

Mountain trolls are the largest members of the troll family, towering over 17 feet tall and weighing more than 2 tons. They are great, hulking creatures with gray skin and the rough features of a troll, but with the power and stature of a giant. Indeed, it is rumored that they are a magical combination of those two creatures. Mountain trolls are also very good at blending in with their rocky surroundings, and are able to fool all but dwarves and gnomes when attempting to do so at a rate of 85% of the time. Gnomes and dwarves are only fooled 40% of the time.

Combat: Mountain trolls have no concept of fear or caution. When they see something they want, which typically is something that they want to eat), they take it. If anything or anyone gets in their way, the smash it. It has no tactical sense, either, and will charge in first rather than send in minions to soften up a target. The minions typically wade in along with the troll, and stick close by it in battle, taking advantage of the very great protection this creature provides them and dining on the fresh kills while the troll is still distracted with combat.

A mountain troll will normally attack using a massive uprooted tree as a club. This weapon deals tremendous damage, and any hit with the club has a 25% chance of knocking the opponent to the ground, which requires an entire round to regain their feet. In addition, the swing of the club will continue in its arc unless it meets with an opponent that resists being knocked down. Each target in succession receives half the damage accorded to the target(s) which the club struck first. The arc of the club’s swing is 20’ from the center point of the creature’s position, and 25’ wide in front of the troll.

For example, say four fighters are standing in front of the troll within the arc of its swing. A is 15’ from it, B is 20’ from it, C is 15’ from it, and D is 10’ from it. The troll swings its great club at the line, hitting the first fighter for 48 points of damage, killing her. The club continues to swing and hits the second one for half that damage (24 points of damage) knocking her unconscious, so the club continues its swing and hits C for half damage again, which is 12. She survives the blow, but has to roll to see if she is knocked down. She rolls a 13, so she is knocked down and the swing continues to the next fighter and hits for half again, 6 points of damage. She rolls to see if she is knocked down and rolls over 25, managing to keep her feet, so the arc of the swing goes no further.

The mountain troll will swing with its club and follow up with a bite attack each round. If it is without a club for any reason, it will use a claw, bite, claw attack each round.

One important distinction between mountain trolls and their more traditional cousins is that they lack the ability to regenerate. They do, however, heal at an extraordinary pace. While a mountain troll won’t re-grow a severed limb and a severed limb won’t re-grow a new mountain troll, these massive creatures regain 1d6 hp each round. Acid and fire attacks do normal damage and convey no particular extra effect on the creatures.

Habitat/Society: Mountain trolls dwell near mountain peaks and stir from their lairs only to gather food. This happens frequently, as they have the voracious appetite common to all trolls. They are rarely encountered alone, but equally rarely encountered with others of their own kind. Instead of forming societies, these brutish bullies tend to gather around themselves a small cadre of giants, ogres, and smaller types of trolls. Although giants and ogres make reluctant minions at best, the slow thinking mountain troll simply eats any creature that fails to follow their simplistic commands.

Most mountain trolls speak Giant.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

2E Citation Project

Some of you know that I've been compiling an index of 2E monsters and what 2E materials their stats appeared in.

The task is becoming too massive for a single blog post, and I'm going to have to give in and do it in an Excel spread sheet...unfortunately, I don't have MS Office on my laptop, so doing that may take a good long while. $399 just to be able to do spreadsheets in the basement is a bit much....but for an OCD DM like myself, not beyond the possible.


Pardon Our Dust...excavation in progress...

Well, at long last, most of the rest of the house is in pretty good shape and once I get the lawn mowed, nearly all of the things which have had to take priority over cleaning up the D&D room will be finished.

I think I can get the game room ready for a session by the end of the week, but that will put us in the target range for the much needed summer vacation. The good news is that I can't mess up the place while on vacation, so I think we can finally play again around the last weekend of August.

No promises, mind you, but that's the target.

That's the target.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Gargantuan Orcus???

Amazon has this notice up this week: Icons Gargantuan Orcus.

What can it mean?

Hopefully, it means that there will be a very big miniature based on this artwork:


Legend of Drizzt due in September and Desert of Desolation due in November

This is the latest edition of the gargantuan Icon series of dragons. It will be great to have a gargantuan white in the collection, and the alternate pose of Drizzt will be cool too.

D&D Minis: Legend of Drizzt Scenario Pack

Expected Release Date: Sept. 21, 2007

Some legends are born out of darkness. Drizzt Do'Urden was raised in the underground city of Menzoberransan, home of the drow - a race of twisted, evil dark elves. However, Drizzt fled the Underdark for the surface realm, where he befriended the human barbarian Wulfgar. Together they battled the most terrible threat ever to ravage Icewind Dale: the white dragon Icingdeath!

Set Includes:

  • Three figures: Drizzt Do'Urdern (new pose), Wulfgar, & Icingdeath the Gargantuan White Dragon
  • Five stat cards, including epic stat cards for Drizzt Do'urdern & Wulfgar
    1 Fold-out, illustrated battle map
  • Encounter booklet - including a promotional chapter from The Orc King™, the newest Drizzt novel R.A. Salvatore!

I'm still working on getting the extra bones together to buy my three cases of Night Below, but the next set is due for release in November.

D&D Minis: Desert of Desolation - Iconic characters & creatures from the hostile wasteland of the Dungeon & Dragons® World

Expected Release November 2007

Within the desolate wastelands lurk creatures as dreadful as any found in the cavernous dungeons of the world. Can the forces of civilization hold back the denizens of these hostile lands? This release includes several remarkable characters & popular monsters. Various figures are drawn from key D&D titles, including the various Monster Manual® supplements. Select figures also come with a second stat card that features epic-level statistics for high-level versions of those figures.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Beware the Miniature Master

Last month, on July 8th, I won the auction on this old mini from Ral Partha. I have the standing version in my collection already, but somewhere along the line I lost the mounted version of this excellent sculpt by Tom Meier. In my excitement to patch this hole in my collection, I missed what should have been a tip off to potential problems with the sale....that this single item was listed as having a location being in "england and usa, United States". (emphasis added)

I mailed out the money order on July 10th, and on July 29th, miniaturemaster posted postive feedback for the transaction. All well and good, I thought, until the following day he also filed an unpaid item dispute for the same transaction, claiming I'd not responded to repeated attempts to contact me.

There were no email messages to respond to, no messages in My Messages on eBay, and even though he has my phone number in my confirmed address, no phone messages.

Since the 30th I have attempted to contact him through all those methods (I have his phone number too) and have gotten no response. In a few days I'll likely have an unpaid item strike for a transaction with postive feedback. And no miniature, I suppose.

His feedback rating is good, only one negative and one neutral. The one negative had to do with not getting the item shipped from England, even though the guy's address is in the midwest...Detroit, I think.

I don't know what the problem is, but the whole business has been extremely frustrating. I suppose I'll keep trying for a few more days, and before the unpaid item strike keeps me from leaving negative feedback I might try lodging an Item Not Sent dispute to see if that gets his attention. Patching that hole in my collection has NOT been worth all the extra work and worry.

It will have to be a pretty awesome miniature at an extremely low price to tempt me to use this seller again. FYI.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Just as the last issue of Dragon goes to press...

I picked up a whole pile of vintage back issues on eBay for about $50 including postage.

DRAGON: #122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 147, 148, 148, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157

Some old issues of Dungeon Magazine, also scheduled for extinction next month, were included.

DUNGEON: #10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 44

It has been fascinating going through them and reading the letters and reviews, the a time machine going back to 1987. People suggesting TSR start using CompuServ's modem service for sending archived articles and arguing about how many floppy discs it would take to store all that information. People pitching huge fits about how the release of Unearthed Arcana and Weapons Specialization had thrown game balance all out of whack...the release of the first Forgotten Realms campaign set, the departure of Gary Gygax from TSR.

I started reading Wormy only to experience 20 years late the shock and sorrow of finding out that the comic would end in the middle of a story, right after the 100th issue to include a Wormy comic...and the mysterious disappearance of the artist who went into hiding in Southern Illinois as a cab driver who'd turned his back on the gaming industry.

I remembered why I never got into Snarf Quest.

I felt excited all over again about 2nd Edition.

I realized just how clearly the Dragon Magazine of today is geared to Junior High School players and how the Dragon Magazine of yesterday was geared to adults...or very smart Junior High School players that wanted to be treated like adults. The entire tone of the game was different back then. Better, if you ask me.

I'm only about half way through the stack, and once finished I'll go through them again meticulously cataloging and indexing the information in them that is relevant to my campaign.

It's made me very happy. I suppose I should post a running list of issues that I have and that I want. It would be great to get a copy of that fabled Archive CD Rom with the first 250 issues on it. It is nearly impossible to get for under $200 though, because it is quite a collector's item. It was released without TSR having obtained the electronic reproduction rights from authors and artists...and they got sued. They pop up from time to time on eBay, and I saw one at Amazon for $389.

Maybe someday...until then, as the ghost of Dragon Future comes to an end, I'll sit in the basement playing with the ghost of Dragon Past. The experience of getting these back issues has made me even more committed to staying a 2nd Edition Holdout.