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.

30 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Update: It's Over

Well, I did it.

My final verified total tonight is 54,320 words. Most of it is crap, but it's words on paper that counts at the end of the day. I've proven that I can do it, that I can overcome sickness and adversity. I've found and drawn inspiration from some odd places to finish the "novel." It may not be good, but it's there and done, and mine.

More importantly, I can now return to my normal life--play with the kids, sit with my wife, all that jazz.

Not to sound overly dramatic, but as I walked in the door to the house tonight I honestly felt a little bit like Samwise returning home from his visit to the Grey Havens. I waslked in the house, drew a deep breath, and thought "I'm back."

I'm back, my friends. Thanks for all the kind words of support and good karma you sent my way.

Now.... Let's play

29 November 2011

Found Item: Lifebringer

I happened upon a new blog yesterday, Giblet Blizzard, hosted by Jez, a self-proclaimed illustrator, writer, and gamer from New Zealand. So far he's got some interesting content and I want to be one of the first to welcome him to the Gaming Blogosphere.

One post in particular grabbed my attention. In it he sets forth a premise, that being:
"Blood is life, life is sentience, thus blood is sentient. That which is imbued with blood, is alive."
He then goes on to set up some game rules by which blood splashed on an object in the course of a physical attack against a living being causes said object to become sentient. The idea intrigues me; Jez then proposes applying it to a setting, whether that be a castle, a city, a region, or a world.

I like the idea, but I'm not sure I want it to be an entire setting, even if only a castle or keep. Instead, I like the idea of it being imbued as a curse (or a boon, depending upon one's perspective) on an edged-weapon. Imagine the wielder's surprise as he stands over a fallen foe, when suddenly: the neighboring statue--now blood soaked--moves to attack him; the nearby urn (also blood soaked) speaks to him; and the now-gory carpet begins to sing bawdy ditties from beneath the corpse. The role-playing angles and opportunites are countless! And it's not just a one-time effect, either. Played well, the DM could keep the players' suspense and confusion going for quite a while. It's not going to happen all the time, after all.

On a side note, each time I've read and re-read Jez's proposal, I've taken it for granted that the blood-soaked object in question would be an inanimate one. However as I was writing this entry (and post-item creation below) it occurs to me that it could just as easily be an animate creature, but non-sentient, e.g., dog, cat, beetle, bird, etc.) I suppose a lot depends upon your idea of "sentience" and one of many different tests therefor. Take that idea for what it's worth.


Lifebringer, +2 Greatsword (with a hat-tip to Jez over at http://gibletblizzard.blogspot.com)

This greatsword is, for most wielders, simply a +3 greatsword. However, the sword carries with it a special ability; this ability is both a curse and a benefit, depending on the wielder’s perspective. The average wielder will notice that the blade is crafted so that there is a prodigious blood-spray created with even the merest successful strike of the blade.

When a killing blow is made with this weapon, the attack sends a splash of blood and gore in a 5'-radius area around the vanquished foe. Any inanimate object coated in this gory spray must then make a Fortitude save equal to or greater than the total damage done with the single killing attack. Should the object fail its save, the magic of the sword causes the object to become sentient and animate. The number rolled as its save is then assigned between the six base attributes and the newly-aware “creature” gains the dominant attitude of the vanquished foe, or “bloodgiver,” as a basis for its personality.

The newly-aware creature will gain the ability to communicate in (at least) those languages known by the vanquished foe. Should the newly-aware creature have a “natural” means of locomotion (e.g., a humanoid statue has legs and a bird statue has wings), the object gains a movement speed of 10. There is also a 50% chance that the newly-aware creature will animate sufficiently to attack Lifebringer’s wielder.

Legend holds that there exist other similar life-bringing edged weapons in the world; stories abound of a great-axe as well as a dagger. Any other such weapons appear, for now, lost to history.

**Image courtesy of http://www.freeclipartnow.com.

24 November 2011

Thanksgiving -- Enthusiast & NPC

I haven't seen very many people still refer to this table and/or system lately, but if I reviewed it today and realized I've actually passed a couple levels....

I am now an "Enthusiast."

I'll try not go let it go to my head.

Now, go about your day. Eat turkey and watch football. Have a happy one, and I'll see you on the other side.

That is all.

Joesky Tax:

Amanuensis 3 (Enthusiast)
HP: 7
Init: +0;
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 12 , touch 10, flat footed 12 (Leather)
Base Attack: +2
Grapple: +1
Attack: Mace, Heavy (+2) 1d8-1 Crit (20) x2 or Rock (+2) 0
Alignment: Neutral
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +3
Abilities: Str 9, Dex 10, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 11, Chr 11
Skills: Appraise 10, Bluff 10, Gather Information 5, Handle Animal 4, Know Geography 4, Knowledge (History) 4, Know Local (3), Listen 0, Profession: Scribe 6, Ride 0, Sense Motive 6, Sleight of Hand 5, Spot 6
Languages: Common
Feats: Light Armor Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Skill Focus (Appraise): +3; Skill Focus (Bluff) +3;
Weapon Focus (Mace, Heavy)

CR 2

  • Elixir of Vision
  • Potion of Rage
  • Universal Solvent

23 November 2011

Sci-Fi Inspirations


I’m one of those people whose writing is occasionally enhanced by the use of good mood music while writing. When I worked at the Court, my Judge could never figure out why I listened to the Braveheart soundtrack. For whatever reason, that album helped me with my legal research and writing. I find certain operatic and classical works help when I’m doing my letter writing, unless it’s an angry letter, and then I go to something like Evanescence for inspiration. Hymns or gospel music work well when the work is spiritually-centered. Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings works, or even Midnight Syndicate or Nox Arcana help in my fantasy- and RPG-writing work.

I find myself at a loss, however, in at least one area. Science Fiction. I tried my hand at some sci-fi writing a couple weeks ago and found myself needing the aural stimulation. There’s the obvious: John Williams’ Star Wars soundtracks. Unfortunately, I find the music from the latter three films to be distracting and the kids have done something with a stack of my CDs, which happen to include the soundtracks from the first three films (commonly known in the Stronghold as the “REAL Star Wars movies”). But this one is almost too obvious.

What I need is some suggestions for some sci-fi inspiring music out there; I need something that’s fairly readily available, i.e., not an obscure single-run album that was pressed in the late 1970s by an unpronounceable Eastern European techno-pop group, which album has never been re-released in any format and is available nowhere, including on the World Wide Web.

There simply must be something out there.

Browsing through pulp magazine covers and old novel covers helps a bit, but musical inspiration is exponentially more helpful in my writing process. Until I get some valid suggestions, or find some good musical cues somewhere, I fear I’m at an impasse with the current story. If the block lasts too long, I’ll have to close the file and throw it in a drawer for a while. I really don’t want to have to do that. So, please: comment away and gimme some suggestions. Oh, and thanks in advance.

22 November 2011

Map Monday: Caverns of Sceades

OK, I realize that it's no longer Monday, but I had some technical issues and wound up using all of my free time for the entire day yesterday just trying to get the map in a digital format.

But here it is: the first level of the treacherous Caverns of Sceades. Click here for .pdf.

Why are they treacherous? Well, that's completely up to your own devious DM mind. I'd like to see what kind of dungeon-stocking and keying you all can come up with. I'll try and post up my own in a week or so.

Just a couple notes as to the map:
  1. The "bullseye" in the upper left corner of the map? You see it? There in that tiny, almost-inaccessible corridor? That's a statue.
  2. Also, on this .jpg on the blog I've "shaded out" a portion of the lake. If you look at the .pdf, it's not shaded. This is for the DM reference only--it's an overhang that comes down nearly to the level of the water across half of the lake. The walkway only runs around the lake in a crescent and ends abruptly where the overhang sits. The slight 3'-4' slope up from the water proceeds under the overhang and grants a little bit of room between the water and the overhang itself. There is an outflow point in a cave running from under the overhang to the west.
  3. Down in the lower right corner is a set of steps leading down to the next level.
All the rest I'll leave to you.

As usual, the map is free to use. Just please shoot me a link and a note to let me see how and where you used it.

16 November 2011

What D&D Character Am I?

Courtesy of this site:

I Am A: Lawful Good Dwarven Cleric/Paladin (3rd/2nd Level)
Ability Scores:
Lawful Good

Interestingly, that is exactly what Boric is: A lawful good dwarven Cleric with a house-ruled flavor paladin. He's a bit higher level, though. Considerably higher.

Detailed results below, for those who are sick and twisted about such things care.

DIseased! Unclean! And a Spell!

I'm sorry, my friends, if I've missed anything important the last few days. I have not been at my computer since Friday afternoon.

You see, beginning at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I spent the rest of the day Saturday worshiping the porcelain gods. At one point I'm pretty sure I saw my shoes come out of my mouth.

You're welcome, by the way.

I felt human enough to take care of my Sunday church-going responsibilities, and then, Sunday night, I felt an unfortunately-familiar stabbing pain in my right eye when I looked at any light source. Over the course of an hour it grew steadily worse and confirmed my fears.


I don't know how or why, or what I've done to deserve this. No-one who hasn't suffered from pink-eye can truly understand the blinding pain. I'm only now able to ride the train into work and (sort-of) gaze at a dimmed computer screen in my dark office one-eyed from behind my prescription sunglasses. It's a nice look. Not to mention the gauze pad wedged between my eye and my glasses to catch the indiscriminate weeping from the pain.

And I'm only at the office today to meet with an angry client. Who, by the way, as I'm typing this called to reschedule until next week. Grr.

Oh, and I cannot BEGIN to describe what devestation this has wreaked on my NaNoWriMo goal for this month. I may need to throw in the towel and make December my NaNoWriMo month for this year.

Hopefully you'll forgive my absence. And for my Joesky tax:

Blinding Mist
Conjuration (Creation)

Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect: Cloud spreads in 20-ft. radius, 20-ft. high
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude half; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Blinding Mist creates a cloud of mist similart to that created by fog cloud, execept that the vapors are extremely irritating to the eyes of living creatures. Any living creatures in the cloud of mist becomes blinded and takes 1d4 points nonlethal damage each round. This condition and damage continues as long as the creature is in the cloud and for 1d4+1 rounds after it leaves. (Roll separately for each character.) Any creature that fails its save by more than 5 points suffers the blinded condition (as above) and is also stunned for the same duration. Any creature that succeeds on its save is merely dazzled and takes no damage; this condition also lasts as long as the creature is in the cloud and for 1d4+1 rounds after it leaves. A creature that successfully saves, but remains in the cloud must continue to save each round on its turn.

Any non-living creature or a creature without eyes is not affected by this spell. Any creature affected in any way by the cloud finds that the whites of their eyes turns red and remains red for 24 hours. This redness has a 50% chance of reducing the character's Charisma score by 1 for the duration; this effect may only be countered by any restoration spell.

Blinding mist can be made permanent with a permanency spell. A permanent blinding mist dispersed by wind reforms in 10 minutes.

Material Components:
A rose thorn and a drop of holy water.

09 November 2011

O, Canada!

This shout-out is going out to ALL of my readers, but specifically to two of my readers that live up in the Great White North.

I promise, that even though most of my knowledge of Canada comes from the McKenzie Brothers, I will refrain from any direct references thereto. Conscious references, that is.

Anyhow, I notice from my stats that I have a couple of frequent visitors from Canada. One from Vancouver, the other from Toronto. As repeat visitors I'd love to connect and know a little bit about you.

This actually goes out to ALL my readers. I like to know who's out there and who's looking at my stuff. Please, feel free to drop a comment or an e-mail and let me know who you are. It makes the blogosphere feel a bit more personal if I can attach a name to a reader. It makes me feel like I've got an extended circle of friends out there who share a love of a hobby/game.

You don't have to "Follow" me or boost my numbers in any way; that's not what I'm asking. Just drop me a line and introduce yourself. That's all.

04 November 2011

Found Items Friday: The Grimblade

So last night I was able to steal away for an hour and watch the series premiere of NBC’s Grimm. And yes, this was time when I should have been pounding away at my NaNoWriMo word count. Don't talk to me about that.

I haven’t been able to watch Once Upon A Time yet (broadcast TV’s other genre offering this season) so I cannot compare the two. Grimm, however, was a lot of fun. I gather it won’t be your typical police procedural, full of hard clues and evidence, but still a good romp nonetheless. Hopefully a little bit more of the detective's skills will come into play in future episodes, because I would hate to see him have to rely on what I feel was essentially a deus ex machina solution. That was my first real complaint. Also, the reveal at the end makes it feel a bit too much like last season’s No Ordinary Family from ABC. I stopped watching that one about three episodes in once it was clear that the boss was the villain and he knew who the heroes were and blah blah blah blah blah. I hope that Grimm takes a different direction because I think there’s real potential there. I won't talk about the characterizations because, let's face it, NO series ever gets the characters perfect in the first season; it also takes that first season to get writing style, acting style, etc. down pat as well.

01 November 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: First Chapter Done!

OK, maybe that title is a bit...misleading...?

But I have my first chapter done. Or maybe it will just be a prologue. Tell me what you think:

It was what his father would have wanted.

Rest in peace, Dad.

He pulled the trigger.
I still have no idea where I'm going with this, who's father is being discussed, or any character ideas. I still don't even have a genre. But at least I have WOP: Words On Paper.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride....
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