A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

24 January 2015

[game report] Near-TPK

Game night tonight. 3.5 edition.

My 19th-level dwarven rogue and his companions found themselves trapped in a castle's inner room, one exit. Resurrected (and rescued) a cloud giant high priest whose skeleton we found shackled to the wall. However, we found ourselves facing a vampire (storm giant), 3 spectres (giants), 4 mummies (giants), and several other undead giants. Led from afar by a lich giant. We put ourselves under a shaped wall of force, but there was just enough space for the vampire to make his way through in cloud-form.

My character has nothing that could hit him as he was, so I spent most of the night readying an action. If I could get a shot at a physical attack, I could unleash some serious damage with my twin hand-axes.

The vampire finally re-manifested...but outside the dome. Our key tactical plan morphed: I would be teleported out from under our "dome of force" and unleash everything I had on him. Then we'd be teleported out of the castle. He was at near-full strength; I wasn't. But I was the only one that could touch him in melee at that point. So I took a deep breath; the sound of the All-Father's hammer was ringing through my mind.

Song lyrics came to mind:
I wake up in the mornin'
And I raise my weary head
I got an old coat for a pillow
And the earth was last night's bed
I don't know where I'm goin'
Only God knows where I've been
I'm a devil on the run
A six gun lover
A candle in the wind, yeah

You're brought into this world
But they say you're born in sin
Well at least they've given me something
I didn't have to steal or have to win
Well, they tell me that I'm wanted
Yeah I'm a wanted man
I'm colt in your stable
I'm what Cain was to Able
Mister catch me if you can

I'm goin' down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth
I'm goin' down in a blaze of glory
Lord I never drew first
But I drew first blood
I'm no one's son.
Call me young gun

Bon Jovi - Blaze Of Glory

I was ready to unleash, we were all ready to go. I was ready for the supreme sacrifice. The elf was ready to teleport us...and it fizzled. We were locked in place by a counter-spell.


That's when we saw TPK coming on the horizon. The only way out was to dispel the force wall and fight our way through to the door.

And THAT was when our other spell-caster remembered he had a miracle spell readied and a (hopefully) willing deity. One of the party cast a desperation destruction on the vampire--his last...which finally succeeded (try #3). That's what we wanted to accomplish before fleeing anyway--the vampire's dereat--so miracle was cast--successfully--and we were then able to teleport back to the cloud giant city from whence we set out.

Much rejoicing for our return, made even more special by returning the high priest back to his home. (Can you say XP and story points out the wazoo?)

One other high point: the shackled skeletal giant we found? Throw-away detail. DM had to quickly stat up an NPC to aid us. Our group LOVES to throw wrenches in the DMs works like this.

21 January 2015

[RPG Inspiration] Expedition to the Canaveral Cape

"I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it. [screaming] You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you!" -- George Taylor

The Planet of the Apes line was the first thing I thought of when this picture popped up on my Facebook feed this morning.
White Castle by Yuri Shwedoff

Unfortunately, in my pessimism, this picture paints what I fear is our space-faring future. It struck a chord with me, and not a good one. I'm one who firmly believes that mankind should be out there among the stars, exploring, learning, growing, and discovering as we have throughout our existence. I look out into the night sky now and wonder, "Where is our Columbus? Our Marco Polo? Our Thor Heyerdahl or Jacques Cousteau? Where is this generation's (or the next generation's) Neil Armstrong or Jim Lovell?" Forget what you may think of their supposed politics, alleged ethics, or remembered reputation: these men were explorers. They stretched our maps and widened our world views, risking life, limb, and possibly soul to do so. They were men of vision. They were heroes.

I still remember the thrill and adrenaline rush from the first shuttle launch. My father roused me early one morning and dragged me downstairs to watch. "Dragged" I say...I had always resented being born just a little bit late to see the moon landing; I wasn't going to miss this for the world. My father later had the opportunity to be present at a shuttle launch; he took pictures and, through his experiences--both there and as a bomber pilot--I watch the launches now and can almost physically feel the shock wave from the engine ignitions and the G-pressures from the acceleration. I remember looking at these men (and later women) as heroes. Certainly the crews of the Challenger and Columbia shuttles are heroes. Once we had vision and a drive to learn.

Now we're relegated to milk runs to a cramped little tin can in orbit. Especially as Americans, who have to humble ourselves to hitch a ride on someone else's bus to that flea-bag in space. Great way to honor the memories of the countless heroic astronauts who gave their lives to the space program and the idea of exploration.

We should be stretching out our hands and minds, embracing the wonder, the adventure, and the risk. From that activity comes growth, learning, and countless benefits to society. The other way--the way we're taking now--ultimately results in becoming Morlocks and Eloi.

That being said, the DM in me sees this image as a potential modern version of the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. The "verticality" of the shuttle gives rise to some interesting environmental questions, though, like "how best to traverse the interior?" and "just how do we get inside that thing anyway?" Of course, the modern version of the dungeon--as suggested here--couldn't be much of a dungeon crawl; the size difference in the shuttle systems makes that unlikely.  I mean, just compare the potential maps between the two. Canaveral Cape would have to be extended to the base itself and the various outbuildings. The STS and the tank/boosters alone just wouldn't be enough for a full adventure.

Hmm. Now there is an idea.

Dang. Now I'm going to spend all day looking through online NASA files for blueprints and such. Sigh.

08 January 2015

[From the Mailbag] Starter Adventures

Look what was waiting for me after a miserable day at the office...Tim Shorts' Starter Adventures!!

I took advantage of the holiday sales over at Lulu to get my copy. I haven't even opened it yet; wanted to show it off too much first. From all indications, though, it's a great book. Knowing Tim's abilities and his other works, I have no doubt that I'll find great use in this.

And actually, my reaction when I saw the Lulu box was close to this (although the sound and video quality on the clip are crap):

**EDIT: It sometimes helps to add the image when you type: "Look what I got!" Sigh.**

19 December 2014

[From the Mailbag] MYTHOARD!

I just received the inaugural Mythoard package/bundle in the mail today. Great stuff. Really great stuff. Talk about an early Christmas; my wife suggested I leave it under the tree for a week.


The first thing I saw coming out of the envelope was a poster of two baby phoenixes, courtesy of Baby Bestiary.

Next out was a book: 10+ Treasures by David Guyll & Melissa Fisher, published by Awful Good Games. Designed for Dungeon World, at first glance, most--if not all--of these items are easily translated to any OSR or 3.x version of that one RPG. Not only does the book come with 30+ detailed treasure items, there's also a section that walks through item creation, and the theory behind it. Excellent stuff.

Then there was a postcard from the incomparable Jim Magnusson. This postcard features the Mushroom King. As one of Jim's Patreons, I already received a copy of this; however, one can never have too many--it just means another framed piece of art for my office. (Let my clients figure THAT out.)

Also included was a pack of Blue Dungeon Tiles by Red Kobold. I didn't have the chance to support these when they came up on Kickstarter, as I was low on funds. I wish I'd made the effort; these look GREAT. They're double-sided, usable with wet-erase, dry-erase, or permanent markers. 4x4 grids of corridors, rooms, and stairways. I'll definitely be saving up to grow my collection of these babies.

Last, but not least, Tim Shorts' Mythoard Exclusive labor of love: Stone Fields of Azoroth. Three separate books outline the environs: The village of Bad Water, the Last Temple of Praxus, and the Prison of Azoroth. Each one comes chock-full of NPCs, flavor, and maps. Everything you've come to expect from Tim, and more. You won't be disappointed. Well, I guess you will...unless you were one of the subscribers to Mythoard.

Then, down in the bottom corner of the envelope were three little beauties. A random d20 and two random d6. Ain't they purty? They wanted to get photographed just as soon as they came out of the wrapping. As you know, I can never have too many dice. These will cap off my 2014 fairly well.

Thanks to Jarrod Shaw as well as Kevin Chenevert and all the other contributors. My day has been made! If you haven't already checked out Mythoard, do it now. Sign up. Well, as long as you don't take MY bundle.

[Found Item Friday] El Diablo Cometh!

I dropped by my FLGS this morning, thinking as I got out of my car that I should leave my wallet under the seat. After all, I really couldn't afford much of anything. I mean, NOTHING at all.

I should have listened to my doubts.

Well, maybe; maybe not. I went in looking for a copy of the 2nd Edition AD&D title, The Complete Book of Dwarves. I was going through my shelves earlier this week and realized that my copy was missing. At least, I'm fairly sure I had a copy. The FLGS usually has an eclectic mix of out-of-print titles from earlier editions. They didn't have that title (although they did have The Complete Book of Psionics (which I'm not interested in) and The Complete Book of Fighters (which I already have)) but they did have a couple titles that piqued my interest. Titles that I got for around 60% of cover price (even the marked-down price was discounted for me).

First up was the Diablo II: Diablerie. One shelf down was the Diablo II: To Hell and Back. Both are 3.x supplements released by WotC, meant to build off of the popularity of the Diablo II video game. The first, the Diablerie is more of a brief "setting" book. Within its 96 pages you can find character classes for Diablo-specific classes, such as the Amazon, necromancer, and sorceress. There's some equipment lists and a bestiary. A blank character sheet template in the 3.x style. Even a sample adventure--five pages--that sets out a "How To" for the uninitiated (with differing levels of encounters: Basic Level, Nightmare Level, and Hell Level), explaining how to prepare an encounter for the Diablo-verse. Most of the book is geared this way: playing in the Diablo-verse.

The To Hell and Back volume is a detailed 192-page "module" set in the Diablo-verse. It contains a bigger bestiary, equipment lists, and magic items. I'm not sure that I'd ever use it as a stand-alone adventure path. I'll more likely cut it into pieces and use those pieces as drop-in encounters in our regular adventure. However, I can also imagine sitting the guys down one night and describing how they wake up next to a shimmering portal, a portal which disappears even as they awaken. They find themselves in a small hamlet, one terrorized by demonic creatures that have taken over a nearby church and accompanying catacombs. Heh. Just thinking about it makes it more intriguing.... Hmm....

They were previously-owned by the same person, as I found scribbled notes on steno-pad paper in several spots in both books. Also slipped inside To Hell and Back is a print-out of the web enhancement "The Secret Cow Level" that anyone familiar with Diablo will recognize. There's also a couple of old PC character sheets: Krump, the human barbarian (played by "Jake") and Isabell, the human Amazon (played by "Sally").

I'd be interested to know if anyone's played around with these books. If you have, drop me a line in the comments. Let me know your experiences, would you?

08 December 2014

Mini-Map Monday: The Citadel of Nor-Von

Just a little something I threw together last night as I was suffering from insomnia. The Citadel of Nor-Von. The corridors are somewhat larger and wider than what the normal Dwarven citadel would contain. The reason for this--indeed, the reason behind the citadel's existence--is that the hallways were originally the shafts and corridors tracing the mithral deposits. They were eventually shaped, dressed, and decorated as the citadel aged and became the formal home and hearth for the Dwarves of Nor-Von.

I'll leave it to you to stock and key; just a few pointers from my own thoughts.
  1. The large round oval is an open fighting arena/training area, ringed by a walkway.
  2. To the immediate left of the arena are two throne rooms. These rooms are connected by a secret corridor. The smaller, oval-shaped throne room is reserved for meeting foreigners; the larger throne room is the formal, ceremonial throne room.
  3. Three bridges cross the chasm that bisects the citadel. These bridges--and the open caverns to which they lead--are edged by a banister, otherwise open to the chasm.
  4. To the right of the chasm is a formal statuary. Each of the fifteen previous Masters of the Citadel are represented here by stone golems.
  5. The citadel is edged on the right side by an underground river.
  6. All of the arrows designate a descending corridor.
The medium is the back of a 3"x5" card, using a fine point Sharpie grip pen. This map is smaller than the ones I typically draw on 3"x5" cards, primarily because I chose not to use the gridded side, but the plain, white side instead. This, combined with the fine point pen, freed me to draw smaller rooms, corridors, and features than I would have with the 0.25" grid. I'm actually pleased with how this turned out. I'm providing links to both a gridded and a non-gridded version. Contrary to my usual, all of the lines were hand-drawn; the only GIMP work I've done are some slight touch-ups, contrast/brightness, and adding the grid. Also atypically, the grid I've used is scaled to the image rather than using a 1" grid, so it may not be overly useful as a battle mat.

Feel free to use my maps in your home games. You can rename it, modify it, stock it, or abuse it in any manner legal in your particular jurisdiction. If you do use it, all I ask is that you let me know and tell me about it afterwards.

05 December 2014

[Found Item Friday] Pristine PHB!

In my city, we have a used bookstore that has been in operation since 1929. It was housed in a GREAT location in downtown, three floors of new and used books, rare books, odd books. Especially great was the basement--meandering corridors, random rooms filled with ramshackle shelving, everything was just on the edge of controlled chaos. It was always great to go in, if even to browse. (It is said that one of the Magistrate Judges at the nearby Federal Courthouse made a visit there every lunchtime of every weekday of his tenure as judge until his death a few years back. I believe it, based on what I knew of the man.) Recently the third-generation owners made a controversial decision and moved the bookstore from its historic location to a nearby mall location.

My post is not about that bookstore.

Instead, it's about the location. A newer, Johnny-come-lately (relatively) bookstore seized on the opportunity and consolidated their three or four smaller stores and moved into the space. The shelving is all a bit newer and more modern, but their selection is just as eclectic as the "historic" bookstore. I hadn't had a chance to visit since the move; all that changed this morning.

About ten years ago, the original owners added a coffee shop to one side of the store front. I've never frequented the place, mostly because I don't drink coffee, but also because their baked goods were exorbitantly-priced, mediocre-quality items. But I had a meeting yesterday and they wanted to meet there to chat.

This was a mistake.

After the meeting, I wandered the aisles. Call it fate, call it karma...I wandered straight to the "game" section. Most of it was Call of Duty guides (and other various video games). But then...the infamous binding jumped off the shelf at me.

Now, you may ask yourself why I'm so excited by this, even though you should know I'm a big 3.x fan. I'd be a lot happier if it was a 3.5 PHB, but I'm still happy with this. Why?
  1. It's in pristine condition.
  2. It's for the use and education of my kids.
  3. It's "close enough" to 3.5 or Pathfinder. Especially for my kids.
  4. Did I mention it was in pristine condition? The binding is still tight and the Character Creator disk in the back? Still sealed in the plastic envelope. The Wizards of the Coast order form is also still folded inside the back cover.
  5. Oh, and it was only $6.00.
  6. Yes, I said $6.000
Yeah. I'm pretty pleased with myself. They also had a 3.0 DMG in the same condition; sadly, I only had so much cash with me yesterday. I figure the PHB will get more use anyway.

Also grabbed was this little beauty: "In the Belly of the Beast" by Mike Mearls. It was only $1.00 and in very good condition; the pull-out pages of NPCs, etc. was still intact, for example. I grabbed it for that fact alone. It's more of a political intrigue than my normal fare, but it still has some good fodder for combat and adventure too. It's got some good, dangerous NPCs with some good backstory; they'll take a little beefing-up, as the equipment lists are fairly generic. Maybe it'll be good for my players to do a little bit more role-playing; it requires the careful negotiation and manipulation of three rival factions who are all ready to fight. Hmm. I'll just have to find the right place to drop it into a campaign.

Unfortunately, the store is now on my radar. NOT good for my wallet.

20 November 2014

New Minis: Praise and Complaints

So, a couple months ago, the Magic-users on the Beach jumped back into the miniature business. I knew that they were releasing a new miniature aerial combat game, but hadn't heard about the new randomized pre-painted plastics line. So imagine my surprise when I walked in to my FLGS back then and found them. Tyranny of Dragons no less. I bought a couple boxes, of course. I mean, scientific research purposes and all that.

Hey, don't look at me like that...I can stop buying minis whenever I want. I'm not addicted.


So, upon opening the two boxes I learned a couple of things that I want to share with you, just in case there's any of my readers who have NOT yet picked up a box of these for themselves.

First, I was shocked to realize that they are produced by WizKids/NECA, just like the Pathfinder pre-painted plastics are. I say shocked because (a) they're rival companies and it just seemed a little odd and (b) the quality is significantly lower than on the Paizo Pathfinder miniatures. No, I'm serious, the paint jobs are, for the most part, simply terrible. Let me give an example (although my camera with the macro function isn't working, and my cell phone isn't so hot at small close-ups).

This little beastie is a new sculpt of a wraith. They've prepped him up with the nice see-through plastic, tinted grey of course. Mantle streaming out behind it, nice pose, full of motion. They even put him on a post so that he appears to be hovering or flying along. Nearly everything would be perfect with this sculpt and make it a great addition to my collection.

Nearly everything...except for one thing: THE FACE.

Look at that face. THIS is the face they choose to strike terror into the hearts of the adventurers. Really?

And I know that it's not just WizKids' production issues, because dang...their Pathfinder minis have come a LONG way and they've refined the process. In fact, just this morning I deleted a draft post from a couple years ago complaining about the paint jobs in the first Pathfinder minis release.

This wraith looks like it came from the PRE-PRODUCTION runs of that first release.

And the guy who said, "Y'know, I think it looks GOOD with the 'faux-glowing-eyes-and-mouth' effect. Let's run with that paint scheme"? I have to wonder if he still has his job.

In fact, this wraith looks like something off of which the Scooby Gang is about to rip the mask.

And do I even need to go into the paint scheme on this Hobgoblin Fighter? There's four colors. Green on his chest plate. Red for his armor. Black for his hair and facial features. Black with a little metallic added for his underarmor and sword. So, really, he has three colors. There's no distinguishing features, really. Oh, y'know what? On closer inspection his right eye has a yellowish-greenish pupil while his left eye has the same color serving as eye-shadow. Nice job, Mages of the Beach. Yeah, it's a little thing, and I'm sure I'll get someone telling me that limiting it to four colors reduces costs, etc. These were just the first two minis I pulled out of my backpack.

Second beef.
Take a look at this picture. These are representative bases of the miniatures. Pathfinder (on the left) and the new Mages of the Beach (center), with an older Mages of the Beach (on the right). You see anything? First gut reaction?

Well, it may be tough, because the camera is picking it up better than the naked eye. The names on the new Mages of the Beach minis are next to impossible to read? Now, you may tell me that's another cost-cutting measure, saving on white paint, or you can tell me that the old ones didn't need white paint. Well, it may just be my aging eyes, but I still say that the new names are really tough to read: smaller fonts, not as raised, not as much contrast. And then there's this: The BIG minis have the names painted in white.

It's a minor thing, and easily rectified. You can also consider it your Free Tip of the Day: I grabbed a white paint Sharpie and scribbled a bit. It's not perfect, but it works. It adds just enough contrast for my old eyes. Here's a look at the result. I just realized that I probably killed resale value, but I don't plan on getting rid of these any time soon. And who knows, someone may actually pay more to be able to read the names. (Yeah, wishful thinking, but it's all I have.)

My final beef (for now) is kind of a mixed bag. There are dragons. New dragons. I love dragons. One thing that I can't get enough of is dragons. For example: I'm pretty sure I have most if not all of the dracolich pre-painted minis, and a good number of metal ones of all sizes. One thing I DON'T have is any red dragons. Mostly because they're so sought after and therefore expensive.

Well, in these two boxes, I pulled--would you believe it--a red dragon. (Oh, wait. You CAN believe it; a picture of its base is right up there.) This new mini is a red dragon in flight. It's executed quite well, to be honest. I'm glad to have it and I was excited when I saw it in the box. However, I have a complaint about size. In this picture I've included an elf and a halfling for scale. As you can see, it doesn't seem as daunting as the old Mages of the Beach dragons used to be. Now, I'm not expecting a colossal red dragon, but this is on--what used to be considered, anyway--a large base. Now that I mention it, maybe it is to scale. I haven't measured it against any of my others. It just seems small.

Whew. That's enough beefing for a while, I suppose. Gotta go work some more on Issue #1 of the Stronghold. More soon.

19 November 2014

[From the Mailbag] Manor Micro-Adventure

Look what came in the mail today!

Yay me!

(Yeah, I actually said "Yay me"...so sue me.)

Gotta love them Patreon perks. Map goodness, micro-adventure goodness, and my friend Tim Shorts' warped mind-- all wrapped into one. And let's not forget the joys of getting something useful and fun in the mail instead of another overdue bill.

Guess work is on hold for a little while today while I read through the Hideout of the Long Dead Mardrid. That's OK. That foreclosure will hold off just a little while longer.

Oh, and if you want cool stuff like this in YOUR mailbox -- and who wouldn't -- head on over to Patreon and sign up to support Tim's work!

EDIT: I should note that the vertical lines in the pictures are a product of a bad camera and low lighting and not due to any defect in the actual product. Sorry, Tim.

16 November 2014

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

It's time to start getting a little excited. The Stronghold 'Zine is nearing completion. The articles are getting a few finishing touches. The artwork is nearly ready. The cover art has been commissioned. Layout is in the planning stages. Next step...finish up and find some poor suckers slaves editors to tighten the work up. Then it'll be up to you, my readers, to want to take a gander.

A word about the artwork: I've been blessed to obtain the help of a couple of FANTASTIC artists. First off, Jim Magnusson agreed to do some illustrations for the interior...and they look TERRIFIC. Then, I managed sneak in a request for a cover from Jay Penn  just before he closed his commission's calendar for the next year. I'm really excited to see what he comes up with.

More coming soon....

03 November 2014

Wherein the Effects of Unfortunate Pizza are Experienced

I have to admit that some of my best ideas are the fault of Tim Shorts over at Gothridge Manor. Today's is no exception. Over on Google+ he mentioned he'd had leftover pizza for lunch. It was good enough, apparently, to be "stat-worthy"...if he hadn't eaten it all. He followed that up with a list of XP awards, as follows.
I'm gonna go with 25xp per slice. And additional 50xp if you can eat the whole pizza in one setting. However you'll need to make a save vs. heartburn. [Aside: for my PF/3.x readers, I'd suggest a Fortitude Save, DC 16. End aside.] A failure means you'll have a -1 on your rolls when interacting with others.
Then Mr. Jason Zavoda (from Hall of the Mountain King) provided the kicker: If you fumble you have to roll on the flatulence table.

Well, how could I let that gauntlet lay untouched on the ground? Answer: I couldn't, not without bringing great shame to the OSR Blogging Community at large.

And so I present to you: The Flatulence Table: (Note: roll once on each table for each failed save.)

Flatulence Table 1: Severity

d20 Roll
Area of Effect
Silent But Deadly Completely silent, but oh, so potent.
Mousey Nothing but a little squeak. Sounds like a shoe with a bad sole.
FlapperThere’s some flapping cheekage. Sounds a little moist.
TrumpetProud, triumphant. Heraldic, even. Nothing to be ashamed of.
ElephantineTrumpet, but more so. Worthy of a grass-fed giant mammal.
Weapon of Mass DestructionThe truly epic, in all respects: sound, smell, and yes--taste.

Flatulence Table 2: Side Effect

d6 Roll
Side Effect
Gas only. No effect.
Shart. A little s**t, a little fart.
Total Trouser Betrayal.

For Area of Effect: roll 1d20 x 5' for each occurrence.

As usual, free for your use. Just drop me a note to let me if and how you used it, and to what effect.

27 October 2014

'Zine Construction Continues

Work continues on the first issue of the Stronghold 'Zine. Foundations have been laid; bricks for most of the outer walls have been put down and mortared. Some of the infrastructure is still a bit unclear--the architect keeps changing his mind about exactly what rooms need to be included and where they need to go.

I think there's some good stuff there. Most of it is the kind of stuff that would be included in the online version of the 'zine. Most of the struggle is coming with the mini-adventure I want to include. I've drawn three different maps and started to digitize each of them...then I try and stock them, and that's where the wheels fall off the wagon.

I'm also in the need of some illustration(s). I've got a couple specific ideas and then some general needs. The biggest problem is finding someone to whom I can beg for a freebie commission. I can't afford anything for art, at least for this first issue or so. If anyone out there has some ideas or offers, let me know...please. I've put out some initial feelers, but it's tough approaching people I barely know and saying, "Hey, you do good work, I really like the art you spend so much time on, and could you do me a solid and give me some for free? I'd really like that."


Anyway, I just wanted to throw out this update; it's been a little while since I gave one. More soon, I hope.

13 October 2014

[Map Monday] Still Alive, Still Plugging Away

Despite appearances and weeks of sickness, I'm not dead yet. I'm not dead and neither is this blog. This is also despite two trips to the Emergency Room in the span of four days for non-stop vomiting (including vomiting up blood). The diagnosis? "Well, you're sick."

No joke.

Oh, even better was the comment, "We don't think your internal bleeding is critical."

While the dizziness continues, the stomach issues have (mostly) resolved, and since I don't have the $400+ "up-front" to get the esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), I'm just crossing my fingers for now and trying to relieve stress in my life.

In "Even Better News," the Stronghold Zine is still alive. I'm plugging along, trying to come up with more ideas and doing my best to make the Stronghold epic. Tim, over at Gothridge Manor challenged his readers to a massive map-share. So, I dug into my drive and threw out a little sneak preview for The Stronghold, Issue #1. And so I need to share it here as well:

It's your basic forest lake, gnoll village (complete with boar pen), and gigantic monolith on a small mid-lake island. More details will be forthcoming in Issue #1 of The Stronghold.

02 September 2014

"Death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth."

Nah, it's not a new monster. Or even an old one. It's a new stapler. Yep. I purchased one of these puppies.

Having already assembled my arsenal of the bone folder, my big ol' metal ruler, and my heavy duty razor knife, I've got the essentials for the physical creation of my planned 'zine, The Stronghold. Guess the purchase of the stapler means that I've committed myself to actually producing the 'zine now. (The list of "necessities" courtesy of (or fault of, whichever is applicable) the magnificent Matt Jackson.
  • Foreword written
  • Treasure table drafted
  • Gratuitous map drawn and digitized
  • Monster article #1: WIP
  • Monster article #2: WIP
  • Adventure article: Planning stages
Artwork is looking sparse for this issue. I'd be willing to accept any offers of donated art (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) from readers. I have some artwork donated by Dylan Hartwell for one of the Monster articles, and some stats for the critter. It looks utterly KILLER and I can't wait for you all to see it.

Over all, I'm getting more and more excited about this project. It's a ton of work, including stuff you never think about when you're simply vomiting onto a blog post. Gives me a whole new respect for those heavy-duty 'ziners out there.

So why the vorpal bunny quote as the title? Hey...if you've ever stapled yourself, you know just how bad it hurts.

28 August 2014

Not Quite Dark

Yes, I have to admit, the blog has gone a bit dark of late. Not through any intentional act, but suffice it to say that depression, family problems, car problems, career problems, and money problems have all descended upon me all at once and have made it hard to really find any joy in anything right now.

Heck, I even tried to map my way out of it and the result came out looking like...well...it wasn't pretty.

One bright spot was being able to sit in the living room of Tracy and Laura Hickman on Sunday and have a nice 2+ hour chat. Catching up, gossip, that kind of thing. I was also able to pick up my Kickstarter-funder copy of their game, Sojourner Tales. I can't wait to get the families schedules all worked out so that we can sit down and play. The final product looks TERRIFIC. Tracy and Laura know what gamers want, know what board gamers want, and this product fits the bill. Just PHYSICALLY you know that when you pick up the box. This thing has heft.

I believe you could kill a kobold with it. Although that might scratch up the box a bit.

This past weekend was my birthday, too. I received a copy of the Hickmans' latest book, Unwept from some close friends. Couldn't wait and stayed up most of the night to read it.

I loved it.

I'd highly recommend it. Great dark gothic work. I told my wife I kept expecting someone to mention how much Rebecca was missed, or "Look, over there. There's Mandalay." (And I mean that as a compliment. I LOVE Rebecca.) I was truly sorry when I reached the end, because of course, there wasn't any more.

Work continues on the Inaugural issue of the Stronghold. Slowly, but surely. I hope to have some more news for you soon.
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