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.

31 October 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Insanity Begins!

It is that time of year...the time when the smell of pencil shavings starts my blood to boil, when the feel of fountain pen ink between my fingers causes shivers down my spine, and when the mere thought of turkey makes me queasy because I know that time is short.

It's time for NaNoWriMo!


The big problem is that I'm starting to dread November. I've been "NaNo-ing" for six years (this will be #7) and I've "won" all of the last three. I have no idea what I'm going to do this year: no genre ideas, no character ideas, no plots.

Avengers Assemble! Hallowe'en Edition

No great content today--too much to do on my last day to prepare for a month of seclusion. (NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow, after all.)

Snapshot_20111031_5But to make sure my geek cred lasts the month, I give you my cheap and easy budget Hallowe'en costume this year. Yes, the firm actually told us to go ahead and dress up. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the mood for Robin Hood or a pirate this year. This was the best I could muster. And yes, I've already been asked twice: "What are you supposed to be?"

To which I respond with a look of scorn and answer with derision, "Only the symbol of American Freedom: Captain America!"

Sadly, actually, that's where most of the scorn and derision comes in...and it's focused towards me.

Happy Hallowe'en, all!

28 October 2011

Literary References -- OSR Challenge, Sept. 2011

Now that the dust from the September OSR Challenge has settled, I'm sure there are a few out there who have wondered about the source of some of my OSR Challenge post titles. As an English major, book-worshipping, pun-lover my inspirations are varied. Some of the posts' titles are obvious, but some may be a bit more obscure. I apologize in advance: I realize that this post is a bit of ego-stroking, a "Look at how clever I am" kind of post. However, a friend suggested that maybe I should share the origin of some of these titles, in part so that I can share that "Aha" moment with you, as well as to give you a bit of a laugh (not to mention a peek into my crazed psyche. She claimed that knowing the source added to the humor and depth of the individual posts. So, if I miss one that you want explained, let me know.... Otherwise, look below the fold.

26 October 2011


It came! It came! It came! Itcameitcameitcameitcameitcame!!!

I've been wanting to pick up an issue of Loviatar for a couple months but only now was financially-able to take the plunge. Yeah, I know, $3 isn't much, but there you have it. The descriptions of the first three issues have intruiged me and issue number four certainly did not let me down.

Well, it did, but only a slight little hiccup. More below.

What is Loviatar? It's a great little digest-sized hardcopy magazine in Old School fashion. Don't take my word for it; head on over to the website and check it out for yourself. Christian did a nice job with this and was very accomodating with my shipment request. He was also quite kind when I started crying about losing some content...but again, more on that below.

The picture really doesn't do it justice; the cover is a great, striking yellow (perhaps canary?) but unfortunately the color scanner is down at the office and this is the best I could do. I hope you'll forgive me, Christian.

24 October 2011

The Master Thief

After posting pictures of my namesake's miniature representations, I felt that I had to post up images of his closest ally, the Master Thief: Simon.

Simon and Boric have been through Hell and back with each other--side by side and back to back. Because of their joint heroics, Boric has been named Elf-Friend and Simon has been named Dwarf-friend. They've travelled through 2nd. Edition AD&D, Third Edition, 3.5E and now "epic" 3.5E.

Like last week, I will not bore you with tales of the characters' in-game deeds. There are other times and places for that.

21 October 2011

Found Items Friday: Personal Library Additions

Stopped by the used book store this morning on a hunch.

It paid off.

19 October 2011

Post 100: The Namesake

It's taken 1 year, 6 months, and 11 days to reach, but today I can celebrate 100 posts at the Dwarven Stronghold!

I could have made it an even 1 year, 6 months if I hadn't suffered a couple bouts of the gomboo and some work-related issues, but that's beside the point. The point is we've reached 100 posts!

To commemorate this day, I've decided to dig into my miniatures and give a sneak peek at my namesake, Boric.

I won't waste time spinning tales about my character--I know that becomes all too dreary to outsiders. Suffice it to say that I had a DM who wanted to get a gaming group together years post-high school. I had been out of the gaming scene for roughly fifteen years and was eager to jump back in. I knew him through our wives; I wasn't a high school buddy.... He'd already gotten commitments from all his high school group and a co-worker and the group needed one more: the cleric. This was where Boric was born.
2nd Edition Boric -- Front2nd Edition Boric -- Back
Yeah, I was shoe-horned into filling a party need. But I made the best of it and rolled up a dwarf. For one thing, I hadn't played in a LONG time, and certainly had never played 2nd Edition AD&D; I was a NOOB for all intents and purposes. The DM was willing to work with me, though. He and I had a killer backstory woven into the entire campaign. Yeah, it was full of the usual tropes: exiled royalty, stronghold-stolen-by-dragon, magic weapons, etc. You know the type.

But it was fun. This was in early 2000 and we jumped into 2nd Edition AD&D with both feet. Splat books and Player Options everywhere; the DM didn't care so long as everyone had fun. He ran a wicked-cool game. I became the "prop-master" for the campaign and painted nearly all of the miniatures used in the game. All was well with the world.

And then, shortly after we started the campaign, Wizards of the Coast came rudely into our lives. Third Edition was announced. We researched it, the DM and I (mostly through Dragon Magazine) and decided we didn't need it at this time.

We resisted "The Change" for about two years. Finally we started seeing some things we liked and picking up books. Slowly but surely we started figuring out ways of converting the still-ongoing campaign (we were playing, on average, twice per month so game-time hadn't been all that long). We took the plunge, bought the books, and started the conversion. There were some things that had to be changed on all of our characters. Some ret-conning took place; there was a bit of the same thing that the world of the Forgotten Realms would suffer in a few years with the Spell Plague and 4E. It was a convenient time in the campaign because our mage had just taken some steps that led to a royally pissed-off Mystra in our non-canon Realms. The result of those acts changed the landscape enough that Third Edition was possible.
3E Boric -- Front3E Boric -- Back

Hey, let's be honest: it also gave me a chance to paint another miniature.

The change-over, as you could probably predict, was not that smooth or easy. The first problem came when we realized that we were running technically epic characters and that had its whole separate set of rules. The second problem came when we thought we could just use the Epic Level Handbook and call it good.

Stop laughing.

You see, to those who may not know, the Epic Level Handbook is widely considered to be the worst and most broken rulebook Wizards of the Coast ever produced. Those who don't consider it #1 surely have it in their top 5, possibly top 3. I consider it the worst, so I can't even offer 2 or 3 others that may be worse.

Our third problem? We had not waited quite long enough to make the switchover: here came 3.5E. And a whole new round of book-buying occurred. Once again we were retro-fitting characters and rules that simply were no longer possible under the existing ruleset. Yeah, we had that mindset, to my hindsight-induced dismay. We limped into a good place to end the campaign--or at least suspend it. Playing these characters, at the end, just wasn't fun any longer. Everyone agreed.

We rolled up new Third Edition--OK, 3.5E--characters. Life went on. Fast forward five years. Same group, but the old DM's departure from the group necessitated a new DM, and a new campaign. He needed some high-powered NPCs to help out as a shadow organization. He called me up and queried about the possibility of using my dwarf and his elf from the old campaign as these high-powered NPCs. We quickly statted up 23rd level characters, agreeing NOT to use the Epic Level Handbook this time. Problem was, we needed new miniatures for both of us.3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Face3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Side B3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Back3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Side A

Both Boric and the new DM's elf got a makeover (I'll post pics of the elf sometime soon). We added on to the backstories of our old characters, and by now were well-enough versed in Third/3.5 Edition that we made better choices with the characters. They made some great cameo appearances in the then-current campaign. In fact, it may have been the best use of DM NPCs I've ever seen: they were used for information sources and interaction. Nothing more. They weren't called upon to slay the mighty dragon while the PCs watched. They also didn't give away the answers sought--we had to work at it. Masterfully done, I still say to this day.

Now we're in 2011. The old DM came back. He had an idea to pick up threads of the original campaign, again epic level without the use of the "Epic" rules. The idea was to run a quick campaign to wrap up the original campaign once and for all. (The BBEG got away all those years ago, after all.)

This, of course, meant we had to update the miniatures. OK, we didn't need to, but I wanted to take another stab at Boric. This was the result.
I hadn't painted in about a year and I was a bit rusty. But I'd had this miniature sitting around for a while and he seemed to fit the new attitude. I now had a chance to use it. I also had a chance to play around with the figure itself and went out on a kit-bashing limb: I added magnets. I'd wanted to try it out for years since reading about it in White Dwarf in the early 2000s. I'd just never had a miniature that called for it. Now I did. Both his pack and his shield are, as shown below, removable.
I'm pleased with how it turned out. Both paint-wise and magnet-wise. [Although looking at these pictures tells me that I forgot to seal the figure. D'oh.]

The new DM allowed us to once again retro-fit all our old, original characters. I had several years' more experience with the rule system and started from scratch; I used none of the previous "updated" characters' information, except maybe the backstory.

Although there were some things that still could not be duplicated in 3.5, I'm fairly happy with the new incarnation. There is enough out there between WotC and third-party publishers that we got dang close.

How close, you ask? Close enough that he was able to stand toe-to-toe with a gargantuan black dragon and win (although the fact that my miniature was not, at the time, wearing his pack almost caused his demise).

How close? Frankly, he's close enough to make playing him fun once again. He's about as close as possible to the High Old one of Moradin, the Sonnlinor of old, that could call down the fires of heaven upon his foes, the dwarf that I first came to know and love. My namesake.

Happy 100th, my friends.

10 October 2011

New Stonework

A chance look at my blog stats today show that I'm fast approaching the 100-post milestone.

As a result, I've decided to update the look of the blog a bit. A little bit of patchwork, a little expansion on the towers, and a little bit of colored mortar thrown in.

I think it looks a bit nicer; at least it's different. Please look around and give me your feedback and opinions.

After all, one person's gemstone is another person's costume jewelry.

07 October 2011

Found Items Friday: Paradise Cubed

Yep. More dice. I have a problem and just can't stop. But I figure that there are MUCH worse things to be addicted to, right?

So, for those that are interested in dice pron, these are my latest additions to the dice bag.

Another trip to the local education supply store yielded my first wooden d6s, as well as my first d24. I also grabbed another die-in-die d100 for my office drawer. After all, it's a lot easier to roll one die in the back of the hearing room than two dice; sometimes you just HAVE to roll on a d100 table while in court.

And yes, I've already used it. This was the die that produced my 25 26 rooms for my Short Adventures for September's OSR Challenge. I rolled on Lord Gwydion's random room table while sitting in court and waiting for my clients' cases to be called.

Also included here is a nice purple d20 from a d20 grab-jar at my FLGS. As I've said before, you can never have too many d20s. I didn't have a purple one and this one sort of spoke to me.

Yeah...I'm hearing the voices again. But that's beside the point. We're talking about the dice right now.

Finally, another new set of 7: I guess you would classify these as mini dice. I have my nano and micro sets.... These are more on the order of mini: a set of 12mm Koplow polyhedrals. These are for my DM travel box. (More on this box next week.)

I'm still looking for the maker/set name for the white speckled set from my last dice post. Any help is still appreciated.

06 October 2011

Recap: OSR Challenge September 2011

This post has taken me nearly a week to finish, thanks to illness and being smashed by work at the office.

But wow.

I can breathe again.

Looking back at September, it was a wild month. I dealt with a lot of personal stuff, not the least of which was writer's block, and yet I still managed my goal of 26 short adventures.

Before I go any further, I would be remiss if I didn't (1) thank /Matt at Asshat Paladins for the original idea and (2) congratulate all those who made it through September alive.

A few thoughts below....
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