Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Origin of the Habit

On eBay I recently saw the exact same set that got me started playing D&D. I'd been buying a few minis here and there, but this was my starter set.

This set came out in 1980, which sounds about right, because I think I first started kicking the D&D tires in 1978 or 79. I still have many of the miniatures that came in the set, but the box and map have long since been lost. I'd even had trouble wracking my brain about what the company and name of the product were. When I was down at ReaperCon, Ed Pugh told me what it was and so I've been searching for a set out of nostalgia...my nostalgia budget this month didn't exceed $70, which was the winning bid range. Maybe later another will come up and I'll be better funded or more lucky.The set came with enough figures for a small party (wizard, dwarf, fighter, halfling thief). It also came with paints, a brush, a d6, a dungeon map, painting guide, and rule book.

The rules were really simple, and characters had only three or four stats to keep track of--everything was on a d6.

Speed
Endurance
Fighting Ability
Spells

My little brother, my friends Matt Clark and Audie McAvoy and I took the basic rule set and created our own complete and detailed rules system. We also took the premise of the map and did it up in 3D with balsa wood walls painted like stone glued to foam core board marked out in two inch squares. We built the dungeon levels to stack down to around third level, and down to the lower levels you walked on 2x4 bridges on saw horses to other levels around my basement...which we'd marked out in 2" squares using yard sticks and permanent markers. (I had a permissive mother)

Our version of the game didn't involve quite so much role playing, it was more board game based, I suppose. Each player had their own party of 5 characters and we all went into the dungeon each week in staggered turns, competing for the treasure to be found there. My little brother had three mounted knights who rode their war horses through the dungeon.

Each week we would rotate DMing duties, so that everyone got a chance to compete. We were very strict about turns--if you went to the bathroom IRL you had to secure a room and if your turn came up and monsters attacked while the player wasn't there, you were presumed to have been surprised and too stunned to react. When we stopped playing, everyone had to teleport out of the dungeon.

Those were wonderful days, and I've still got all of the characters, notebooks and other items we used back then...though the basement flooded while I was at college and the dungeon levels were destroyed. At some point, I hope to use the maps I still have to reconstruct the old dungeon for my current players.

I didn't convert to AD&D Second Edition from my own home brew game system until the 1990's...1991, I think. That conversion was the last one I'll ever do. I'm a 2E holdout for life, now.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Settembrini said...

Hi there!

I´m searching for Lensman (beholder kin) figures. Do you need what could be used for them?

4:09 AM  
Blogger Settembrini said...

Sorry, do you know what could be used?

9:50 AM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

Unless WOTC includes one of these in a future release, this looks like the kind of monster you'll have to scratchbuild, I think.

If I were trying to make one of these I would try finding a good cave man or yeti figure (try www.pulpfigures.com or something similar) that you think you could cut or grind off the head easily. Once you've done that, I'd use brown stuff to put the eye in the chest and maw under it, and the whip-like tenticle between the shoulders shouldn't be too hard. I suspect this sort of conversion would be a lot easier if you could find a cave man figure that was done in plastic rather than metal, but then you're going to have to be careful to make sure the tenticle doesn't unbalance the mini and make it fall over.

Hope this helps, but I'm sure it is more frustrating than helpful. I'd always rather buy than build.

Maybe I will try my hand at one of these and if it isn't too hard, I'll make some extra and put them up on eBay.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

Actually, what would probably be perfect for this conversion would be the old Ral Partha Snow Troll. It looks very simian already and the hunched back and concave stomach could easily be made into a maw with an eye over it using green stuff...and the head of the snow troll is a seperate piece so you wouldn't have to cut anything off. The problem is that this mini is such a rare and cool miniature on its own that I don't think I could bring myself to do the conversion until I had a dozen of them to use as they were supposed to be used...I try to pick one up on eBay every time I see one, but they usually go for quite a bit of money.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Settembrini said...

Thanks a lot!
I´ll be searching the 2 buck bins for convertible material. After all I need several of these!

3:38 AM  
Blogger Settembrini said...

How about the Ral Partha Cyclops-kin?

9:47 AM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

Pretty much anything that is slightly simeon and of medium size will work, the trick is trying to find something that looks as close as possible to having three fingers and nothing more on than a loincloth.

Good luck, let me know how it turns out!

4:04 PM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

You might look at the Reaper Legendary Encounters Cave Troll. They are plastic figs so they would be fairly easy to cut and grind down to the right shape and are pretty inexpensive. They also have three fingered hands and a loin cloth. The only problem with them is the ear on the right arm will be a bit hard to file off. I was thinking about using that myself until I saw the snow troll...but they go for $15 each on ebay at least.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Settembrini said...

I´m not sure about the size. Are you positive that the Cave Troll is medium, not large?

3:01 AM  
Blogger Settembrini said...

BTW, can you point me to a place that explains how to model with brown stuff?

3:03 AM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

I think he's closer to medium...but given the variance between so many of my models in 25mm, 28mm, and 30mm, designations like M and L are a bit squishy.

There are some sites out there, but I don't know the urls off the top of my head. The best way to learn is by doing, though. The best advice it to go slooowly, build up in staged, keep it lubricated with spit, and experiment on things you don't care about while getting the hang of it.

Also, if you can, find someone who already knows what they are doing and watch them. It was great to go to Reapercon last year and watch the pros do their thing.

Check the reaper website in the Craft section, they have a lot of good articles on sculpting and terrain making.

Maybe I can do a post with links to articles on sculpting.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Shandar the Ashen said...

I know this is a really old comment thread, but I finally had great luck converting a heroclix mini called White Martian to a Lensman Behholder-kin. Do a blog search to find the post and tutorial!

1:12 PM  

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