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 December 2011

Found Items: Last RPG Purchases for 2011

OK. The post title is a little misleading, as I plan on making several purchases from RPGNow later today. But I wanted to share with you my final FLGS RPG purchases for 2011.

First of all, my final die purchase of the year.
I wish I knew the manufacturer; this one was pulled from a bin of random crystal d20s. Marked down to 85¢ it grabbed my attention because, upon close examination, there was a hint of red at each of the corners of the die. It's not apparent in the photo, but oddly the photo shows sparkles which are not apparent to the naked eye. The other oddity on this die? I have been unable to roll over an 11 on it. The majority of the rolls are in single digits. I suppose this is the one that I have to use for players' Search/Perception rolls. [Cue evil laughter]

Now for the minis.
I happened upon these tucked away on a side counter in a bin marked "Toys: 50¢." In among several handfuls of random promotional lapel pins were some random plastic miniatures. They were quite unusual-looking and, at first, I didn't recognize them. But I thought: "Hey, 50¢ miniatures. How can I pass THAT up? I'll figure out what to do with them later!" I emptied the bin.

As I suspected, a quick search of the 'net told me these were Dreamblade minis. A slightly longer search suggests these are all from the base set. Anyhow, I picked up two of the minis on the left: something called a "dreamstuff entity." I thought they'd make great oozes, until I turned it around and saw the face peering out of the middle of the mass, like a melted juvenile Abzorbaloff. But now I have two of them. They only had one of the "runetagged brawler," but he'll make a good golem or construct.

Then there was this one: a "loyal scragglemaw" -- there were four of them. They are now mine. This one was a puzzler; I had absolutely NO idea what to do with them. Then, after I got home, I tossed the bag of minis on my desk and started surfing the OSR blogs and came across a reference to a monster I'd long wanted to investigate for my own campaign(s). Another search of the internet revealed that the critter had already been statted for 3.5 Edition. Lo and behold! I had the book! I pulled my copy of Dave Arneson's Blackmoor off the shelf. When I opened up to the critter in question, my jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out. I had just purchased the mini!

It's a thoul. Yes, the infamous thoul. The description was uncanny, but the picture was the kicker. Here's what the book says:
Thouls are a magically created crossbreed of hobgoblin, ghoul, and troll created more than a millennium ago by insane hobgoblin necromancers seeking the key to eternal life.
The thouls of today look much like their ancestors did: they have rope-like, stone-gray to jet-black hair, usually worn in long locks. Their skin is hairless and colored deep green or red, with yellow or white eyes that lack visible pupils. They stand over six feet high and weigh more than 180 pounds.*
Now: opinions anyone?

Now I just need to work on unbasing all these critters from the obnoxious Dreamblade bases and putting them on nice, standard bases. I also need to work on getting these critters into a game session.

All in all, a happy end to the year. Happy New Year, everyone!

*Legal stuff: the text and the picture are not my work and are reproduced from Dave Arenson's Blackmoor copyright 2004 by Zeitgeist Games. Use here are not intended to assume ownership of or otherwise violate the copyright owner's rights in any fashion or manner.

29 December 2011

Will o' Wisps and Basilisk Smoke

Yeah, yeah.... Put your bestiaries and rulebooks away. I know that basilisks don't smoke.

Except on those rare occasions where starving adventurerers throw their recent kill on the spit. Yeah. I went there. Merry Christmas.

Instead, the title means to me the etherealness of my goals and dreams for this last week of 2011. I left my office on the Friday prior to Christmas with great goals and ideas of what I was going to accomplished over my ten-day holiday vacation. There were some great gaming goals: posts, adventures, maps, and even some miniature painting.

Ask me which of those have actually been accomplished. Go ahead.


I sat down Christmas afternoon and *POOF* it was all gone. Motivation, ideas, germs, drive, etc. It was all gone. Much like basilisk smoke in the wind, completely irretrievable. I've tried for days to remember, and all my ideas are gone.

That's depressing enough to drive me into a mini-buying spree. For that, however, I need to wait for my next paycheck. So...strike two.

I guess I'll go through and update my 2011 totals and see if a good night's sleep does any good. As for all of my friends: may you have sufficient creativity and imagination to get you to the New Year.

Stay dicing, my friends.

**EDIT: Wow. Could I be any more depressing? I guess I could if I really tried, but it's not worth the effort. I found a couple minis pictures on my hard drive and realized that I was going to do a review of some Pathfinder minis. So, hopefully, that means my brain is back on board!

27 December 2011

Holiday Wishes

Just thought I'd take a chance to tell all my friends and readers out there:
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas or replacement-holiday of your choice.

Here's hoping that we all have a better 2012 than our individual and collective 2011. May we all be prosperous and find plenty of time and places to game.

In short, I'm wishing the entire gaming blogosphere a Happy Monty-Haulidays.

20 December 2011

[From the Mailbag] MINIS!

I received a small pile of miniatures in the mail today. This was after I stopped at the store and picked up a box of Pathfinder minis. So, I'm feeling the plastic love today.

Alright, that didn't sound exactly as I'd intended it to sound.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some general pics--they turned out kinda poorly, given my office photographic equipment--and some thoughts about the Pathfinder minis specifically. (This is my advance apology for the quality of the photos.) I'll deal with my mailbag first, then look at the Pathfinder minis in another post.

The "old" Wizards minis are getting harder and harder to find, at least at reasonable values. In this economy, it's difficult to justify to the wife spending $15.00 (or more) on a small piece of plastic, especially when that piece of plastic is smaller than a stick of gum...and your kids haven't eaten dinner yet. Fortunately, there are still some rare finds out there and I lucked into one of those finds to get me some random minis to fill some holes in my collection.

First, the Aspect of Bahamut. I think I've said before that the group has ventured into a dragon-heavy pseudo-Epic 3.X campaign. (I say "pseudo-Epic" because we've collectively agreed that the Epic Level Handbook was one of the most broken pieces of publishing trash to come out of the 3.X-Wizards era. We're all simply 26th level.) The DM allowed my Cleric to develop a "Summon Aspect of Bahamut" prayer to combat the dragons we'd be facing; once that was done, it was obvious that I needed a suitable miniature for the table. (The DM for this particular group is a stickler: if you want to summon a creature, you better have the miniature...although he kinda let up on that a little once he demanded a player produce a dolphin and a squid miniature the character wanted to summon and the player plopped one of each--in appropriate scale--down on the table in front of him.) I've seen/heard a lot of complaints about the paint job/scheme on this miniature so I was a little hesitant to order it. I must say, though, that the pictures don't do it justice. There is a lot more subtlety to the colors than you would expect. I would have liked to see a little more range with the colors, but all in all I'm quite pleased.

The kicker was hearing my older children say, "Oh no, Dad! Is that for our game?!? Auuugh!!!! My (fill-in-the-blank-player-class) is going to die!"


Next out of the box were the rats. Rats are somewhat difficult to find, for some reason. Maybe it's because all DMs use rats as typical low-level sword fodder. I know that's what I'm using these for; the first few levels of Dyson's Delve are filled with giant rats and that's what the family's going to spend Christmas Vacation doing. At any rate, here come the rats; I have to make do with what I can get, and what I got was:

  1. Dire Rats (4)
  2. Diseased Dire Rat (1)
  3. and
  4. Ravenous Dire Rat (1)
I already have six of the "Rat Swarm" counters that I can employ, so I should have my rat-needs covered.

(Again, that phrase sounded better in my head.)

Those needs should be especially well-covered, considering that the next thing out of the box were a blister pack of Reaper's plastic offerings: three giant rats from their Legendary Encounters pre-painted plastics line. Also included was one of the Reaper plastic ghosts. Because, hey, who doesn't need undead...especially with the Pathfinder Carrion Crown adventure path on my shelf? I'm slowly compiling a list of minis for use with that particular set of adventures; it's simultaneously easier and more difficult, seeing the wide range of minis needed, contrasted with the range of Horrorclix models that there are, contrasted yet again with the limited availability of said Horroclix models. [Sigh] (Which reminds me: I need to go searching for Horrorclix (or other) models that will suit a flesh golem and some werewolves. Werewolf minis are scarce and expensive. (Stupid question of the day: Do you think people like werewolves or something?) In fact I need two flesh golems, a pile of werewolves, and some items most likely found in a C'thulhu range. Ugh.)

Speaking of Dyson's Delve, another critter that I need for that dungeon-crawl was solved in today's package, at least partly. Dyson's first level also include several giant ferrets; this is something I didn't have in my collection, mostly because I'd never seen the use for them. Well, to be honest, I'd never actually SEEN a giant ferret miniature; but hey--then I got thinking, once I saw the need for the critter: "Hey, weasel? Ferret? What's the difference?" (Please, don't take that as an invitation for all you weasel- and ferret afficianados out there to point out the distinct differences between the two.) At any rate, I now had a need, I ordered them, and should have sufficient to torture my kids allow my kids to chase around the caverns.

Rumbling around the bottom of the box was a mini that I forgot I'd ordered: a Dragonborn Paladin Death Knight. I hadn't gone in search of one of these when it was originally released, specifically because it was evidence of one of the things I find wrong with Wizards of the Coast and their miniatures philosophy: namely, "let's make a figure that is a combination of classes and races so obscure and arcane that no one will ever want one, because this is of course what every miniature-hunter is looking for!" AND I KNOW YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I MEAN.... When I was looking for bargains, however, I saw this one for under $1 and I thought, well, I need a deathknight, I can use this as a stand-in and just ignore the dragon-skull on his shoulders. So I ordered one. And here he is.

It wasn't until I was cataloging all of these miniatures that I realized that I had apparently "pulled" one of these deathknights previously from a booster purchaed at the FLGS. So I already had one. Now I have two. If that isn't strong enough evidence about how insignificant this class/race combination creature IS, I don't know what would suffice. Yep. I now have two of something of which I never really even wanted ONE.

Well...that's the extent of my mailbag today. The shipping box is now empty, the minis are all catalogued and sorted into their different storage boxes. Coming up soon: my review of the Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes miniatures.

13 December 2011

[From the Mailbag] Dice

After my day yesterday coming to grips with my blogpression, and after a lot of encouragement and support from many of you, the entire day was eventually saved with a visit from the postman late yesterday afternoon.

After a long wait, my Dungeonmorph Dice finally arrived! And apparently I'm not the only one excited by these, as I've seen them all over the blogosphere this morning. Upon first inspection, the excitement is warranted and the wait was definitely worth it!

These dice were the project that introduced me to Kickstarter, an introduction that I am grateful for. (My wife and wallet? Not so much grateful, I'm afraid.) While they were originally conceived as OSR white-on-blue maps--a design later found to be too prohibitive for mass-production--the final black on white design looks terrific.

As you can see from the picture, I took the plunge and bought one of each set: The Explorer, The Adventurer, and The Spelunker. Of course, I now wish I'd purchased two of each set, but am grateful I at least have one of each. The range of random dungeon rooms that these dice make available is great: whether I use them to create a dungeon from scratch or just to add a bit of random personalization to an already-published dungeon, they're going to see a lot of use.

Joe has also produced a font based on these dungeonmorph designs as well as some cards; both tools are intended (and prove likely) to help use the dice to their fullest extent. He has also planned .pdf versions--battlemats--for use with miniatures and computer-aided games.

All it takes is a simple roll of the dice. They're oversized--I've been told that they are similar to casino dice, but having never been to a casino, I can't vouch for that. Rolling more than a couple at a time gets to be a handful, but that ain't much of a complaint; the size makes them more legible after all. One quick roll, though, and you have a dungeon area all ready to be stocked, beginning in the small temple complex, ranging through some meandering hallways and finally winding up in the caverns beneath the temple. All those delicious areas just waiting for terrifying creatures and diabolical traps. (My apologies for the quality of this picture; all I had was my cell phone and it decided to be a bit temperamental; this was the best of three attempts. My photograpic skills should not reflect on the actual quality of the project.)

Joe's to be commended. I look forward to his next Kickstarter project: Plastic 2D miniature card stand-ups. Visit him over at his website, Inkwell Ideas, for more information. He's also got some leftover Dungeonmorph Dice available for purchase, but my guess is: move fast on these dice or lose out. They're sure to go fast.

As an attorney, I feel obliged to add this legal stuff--the fine print, as it were: "The DungeonMorph designs may be republished by anyone (free of charge, even commercially) if 5 or fewer designs are republished in a given item or if the designs are less than 20% of the overall item containing the designs. In either case, you must also note 'DungeonMorph Design from http://www.dungeonmorphs.com' next to each map and copy this entire message somewhere in the item. An item refers to a website, magazine, book, etc."

12 December 2011


Whoa. It's been nearly two weeks since my last update.

A few years ago, a friend of mine coined a term on his blog: "Blogpression".

His idea was that there was something beyond writer's block and burnout. Something approaching depression, almost. Something which prevented the generation of even a slight "oomph" necessary to post a blog entry.

It's not writer's block and I don't believe it's post-NaNoWriMo burnout. It's not a lack of interest in the subject. I have plenty of ideas; at the least, I could talk aobut the various supplements and materials I've purchased online.

I have the most recent issue of Loviatar (which my wife finally relinquished following completion of a "honey-do" list last weekend). I have a stack of .pdfs to discuss, ranging from Knowledge Illuminates to Stonehell Dungeon. I have a pile of new miniatures to review, not to mention the Pathfinder Beginner's Box and X-Plorers. I even have a couple of new original maps.

But I just can't seem to sit down and write them out. I can't seem to find the time to process the maps, slap them through the GIMP, and put them out on this virtual tabletop of mine for review. I even owe a couple of you some hand-written correspondence and can't even find the time and energy for that.

Maybe it's the stress at the office. More and more is being piled on my shoulders lately, without the corresponding remuneration for my time and effort. Some personal issues have been increasing with their demands. Money worries and holiday stresses are certainly adding to it. The upcoming election (a year from now) has been taking its emotional toll; namely, I'm sick to death of it all.

Truth be told, looking at this list, it's nothing that hasn't happened before or that hasn't been experienced by most of you out there. It just seems to be piling up in extra-heavy proportions this year. All I ask is that you stick with me. I'll have some content to post up here pretty soon.

I promise.
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