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.

29 March 2012

[From the Mailbag] Minis, eh?

Today I received a little picker-upper in the mail, direct from the Great White North.

A while back, Aaron over at A Paladin in Citadel posted up some Pathfinder mini pictures and offered some of his extras up for sale. Well, we bargained and bartered and came to an agreement. Then he waited patiently while my children got fed. Then he sent them off and endured my panicked reaction when I forgot they were coming from Canada and was worried about our terrific US Postal Service having possibly lost the package.

I am not joking. I am telling on myself here and offering myself up on the Altar of Ridicule.

But for all my impatience and imagined travail, a nice little package arrived on my office desk today. Filled with pre-painted plastic goodness! And he even threw in some unexpected extras! Here's what he sent:
  • Watch Guard, #8 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
  • Watch Officer, #9 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
  • Half-elf Cleric, #19 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
  • Dwarf Fighter, #20 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
  • Gnome Fighter, #22 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
  • Dire Rat, #23 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x2)
  • Spectre, #26 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
  • Seelah, Human Paladin, #27 Heroes and Monsters Pathfinder Battles (x1)
*My apologies for the "eh?" and "Great White North" comments. I realize that this is perpetrating a stereotype. I realize that Canada is no more filled with the Mackenzie family than Utah is filled with buggy-driving Amish polygamists. I did not mean to offend.

**Funny story about Canada.... My office has recently discovered that our phone number somehow has been printed on the letterhead for a phone company up in Canada. We receive at least a phone call a week now from Canadian residents about their phone service. We received one this past week from an elderly woman who said she was "calling about her phone bill." My secretary suspected this was another Canada-call and to verify, asked the lady if she was from Canada. "NO!" was the vehement response. "I'm from Ontario!" We were all a bit confused by this response, as well as entertained. Maybe I'm missing something upon which my friends up North could enlighten me.

Now, my Joesky Tax:
The Altar of Ridicule

Most outsiders do not know that there are a small number of dwarves who actually worship Garl Glittergold, typically a Gnomish deity. These dwarves are usually gemsmiths and miners of precious stones who revere the stones above precious metals, forge craft, stonework, and other revered Dwarven works.

Within these communities of Garl Glittergold's Dwarven followers are secret shrines in which uniquely Dwarven rites of worship are performed. One such rite involves the use of the Altar of Ridicule. Each Altar is a simple affair made of stone blocks forming a 5' cube, offset so that the four corners face the cardinal directions with the congregation at the south. On three of the four upper corners are rounded stone spikes pointing upward; the south corner is unadorned.

Garl Glittergold appreciates wit and a good sense of humor. Among these gem-loving dwarves, the art of "the Roast" has been perfected. Pointing out one another's foibles in a humorous way is an art form. However, in order to preserve the comraderie and closeness within the Stronghold as a whole it is preferred that dwarf-on-dwarf ridicule be avoided.

To that end were these enchanted Altars constructed and ensorcelled. The subject of the ritual -- the guest of honor, a.k.a., the Honored Soul (or "Cracked Diamond" as he is commonly referred) -- stands upon the Altar. The Altar itself then begins hurling insults at the subject, in full view and hearing of the congregation. (See HERE for inspiration.) Five insults in all are hurled; with each insult the subject is required to make an increasingly difficult Will Save, beginning with a DC 15 Save and increasing by 1, up to a DC 19 Save. For each successful Save, the subject is imbued with an increasing aura of confidence and others look upon him with a more favorable eye. This aura acts as inspire courage for all allies within line of sight of the subject; each successful Will Save counts as an additional +1 modifier to inspire courage effect, up to a maximum of +5. This effect lasts for 10 rounds per +1 bonus (maximum 50 consecutive rounds), so long as the ally remains within line of sight of the subject (or vice versa).

For each failed Will Save, the individual suffers a temporary -1 modifier to his Charisma score (maximum -5). That negative modifier lasts for 10 rounds per -1 bonus (maximum 50 consecutive rounds).

Once an individual has been subjected to the Altar of Ridicule, he cannot receive further benefit of any sort from the Altar for a period of at least one month.

23 March 2012

[From the Mailbag] It Ain't My Fault, Dear....

So yesterday in the mail I received a pleasant surprise: Minis!

I know, I know. "MORE minis?" you're thinking.... Well, so is my wife, I'm sure.

But these weren't my fault. Not at all. It was y'all's fault. Or at least a select few of you. And I'm offering you all up on the Altar of Doom as sacrifices. Nothing personal, you understand.

This first one I blame on Christian over at Loviatar 'Zine and Destination Unknown, as well as his cohort in art: Jay Penn. It's all their fault, they did it, they forced me to buy the thing. You see, I've never had an otyugh mini before. Never really saw the need for one. On second thought, I guess that I shouldn't really blame Christian. His 'zine was just the delivery system. I think it's really Jay Penn's fault. You see, I was happy in my otyugh-less existence -- at least fairly so -- and then Loviatar #8 came out. With this on the cover. By Jay Penn.
Jay's magnificent artwork doomed me. And my wallet. I simply HAD to have an otyugh. (According to the scene as written, I suppose I really should have purchased more than one. However, even in my mini-frenzy I have a general idea of my monetary limits. That, and there's always next month.) So... Dear.... if you're reading this, it's all Jay's fault. And I suppose Christian's too, if you really need to include him. But mostly Jay's.

Sorry, Jay.

Jason Sholtis takes all the blame for the next mini out of the box. I suppose I could blame his cohort as well, John Larrey. Sigh. OK. I guess they share the blame. You're off the hook a little, Jason. Or you're sharing the hook. Something. Whatever. But this mini is your fault. You see, Jason went and published a little 'zine adventure entitled Zogorion: Lord of the Hippogriffs. I picked it up and read through it once. I have to confess, I giggled. Several times. Not because it was funny or there was anything wrong with it. It was an evil giggle. It was a DM-giggle, at the thought of running my platers through this. My wife will probably remember that evening, because she looked at me with great concern whilst I was giggling. I read it through a second time. I giggled even more. I started plotting where in my campaign world this could happen. And when. (Not in a rail-roady fashion, but just some potential plot hooks.) On my way home from the office the next day I stopped in at the FLGS and found a booster pack of DDM minis, from the Dangerous Delves set, with this hippogriff proudly displayed as the "visible" mini.

I had never seen this booster set before. All the other Dangerous Delves sets, yes. But never the hippogriff. I took it as a sign: it was meant to be.

And then I looked at my minis. I already had a griffon from the Dungeons of Dread boosters that I could use as a hippogriff. But I clearly needed a third beastie, just for the opening scene of Zogorion alone. So I simply HAD to order another one. And as purty as the Arcadian Hippogriff is (also DDM), it had to match. Right? Right. So, again...it wasn't my fault.

Sorry Jason...and John.

Now...the last items out of the box. I'm not sure who takes the blame. I'm sure it isn't me, though. Honest. Someone....Somewhere out there....Ah, yes. THAT'S who it was. Jamie over at For a Fistful of Coppers posted a while ago about "cheap minis." In that post he referenced the DDM Warape mini. I'd seen the figure before; I'd considered buying it. Always before I'd been able to reason my way out of the purchase. But something about seeing it this time? Yeah. I was hooked. And then I found a good deal on them. I have several now. Alright, I have five.

Why do I have five? Well, I think I'd like to have a band of warapes following me around in real life. Think about how much easier it would be to get a seat on public transit if you had a warape with you? So, yeah. A band of warapes. Or an orangu-posse. That'd be cool too. Either one.

But at any rate, it's Jamie's fault, dear, that I now have a band of warapes. (Sorry, Jamie. Really.)

And so readers, I just want to make it clear again: None of these purchases were my fault. None of them.

That's my story, anyway.

[Review] Infamous Adversaries: Slogar the Uncaring

This review is of the recently-updated (January 2012) version of Total Party Kill Games’ Infamous Adversaries: Slogar the Uncaring. The product is available free of charge from DriveThru RPG. The file comes with a .pdf book, a .pdf map, and Hero Lab files. Unfortunately, I do not use Hero Lab; thus I cannot speak to the quality or usefulness of the included files. I therefore limit my review to the actual “printed” matter.

The .pdf is 20 pages long, including: 1 page front cover, 1 page title page, 1 page portrait, 1 page editorial, 1 page “How to use” explanation, 1 page Hero Labs advertisement, 1 page d20 PFSRD advertisement, 1 page TPK advertisement, and 1 page OGL. This leaves 11 pages devoted to Slogar.

Slogar was TPK Games’ first product and has been updated and revised based on feedback from readers and fans, as well as earned experience in the industry. TPK Games indicates that they want to give this treatment to all of their Infamous Adversaries characters, although it is unclear whether this means new Adversaries only, or whether they will revisit the already-published Adversaries and give them the same updating treatment.

So, how is the product itself? Keep reading....

22 March 2012


I have a confession to make. And an apology to my readers.

I'm suffering from depression.

It's taken me a long time to finally admit it. Back in December I chalked it up to what a buddy of mine calls "Blogpression." I'm ready to admit that it's gone beyond that. I'm fighting it, at least enough to be marginally functional. Usually it's not too debilitating, at least to my regular life.

But gaming, no matter how fun it is, is only a game right now. It's not my life. And it has to take a backseat to my family, especially when I only have enough physical and emotional energy to deal with one or the other.

This is not to say I don't have blog-fodder. In fact, it's just the opposite: I have several reviews I need to type up, and a couple maps I need to scan and upload. I just don't have the ... oomph ... right now to get over the hump and actually do it.

This isn't an announcement that the blog is going into hiatus or disappearing or anything of the kind. It's more of an apology: I know I don't contribute a lot, but I try, and I like to think that what I DO contribute is enjoyed somewhere out there. And to that (likely) single person... I apologize and promise that more is coming soon.

15 March 2012

Thank Heavens for History!


Some of you may remember my post from yesterday about losing my memory of a comment I made on somebody's blog about a game mechanic/item/thingy that I liked so much I wanted to convert it for 3.X edition use.

If you don't remember, feel free to scroll down and read it again.

Or don't, because I just gave you the essence of my problem at the heart of my post.

Anyway, whether you remember or not, or re-read it or not...here's the gist of today's post: I FOUND IT.

Of course, I had to search through two weeks of daily internet use in my browser's history. And no, I DON'T know why I have it set to save three weeks' worth of browsing.

But I found the link. Here it is, in case you're wondering: Dwarven Sprue.

Now I just have to find the time to play with it and 3E-tweak it.

14 March 2012

Aw, Crap! Memory Issues

Awwwww, Crap!

That just about sums it up.

Somewhere....somewhere out there in the Blogosphere....Sometime in the last two weeks....Somewhere I came across something--a creature perhaps? an Item? Somewhere I came across something that I really liked, something for an OSR game or clone. I remember really being intruiged and wanting to stat it up for 3.X edition. I even left a comment to that effect, asking the author if there were any concerns about my conversion. I further promised to link back to that author to give him/her credit.

And I promptly forgot what it was.

Real life interfered, and now that I have time to devote to it, I have no CLUE what it was. All I remember is a sense of AWESOMENESS and a vague disquiet at having forgotten what it was. Also a sense of loss.

If it was something one of you wrote, or you remember seeing a comment from me proposing to convert something in the past few weeks, please let me know.

Growing old ain't fun.

10 March 2012

Game Night

It's game night tonight and one of my buddies took over the DM screen for the third part of a long-term off-and-on campaign.

Our 3.5/Pathfinder home rules are serving up some battle-damage goodness for our characters tonight. We recently adopted some modified Pathfinder "called shot" rules and walked right into a situation where we could put them into play.

But first, a bit about the new table we have. Our regular game is hosted at a specially-built game room at one of the other guy's homes. We've been playing there on a regular basis for several years surrounding an old dining room table. We've eschewed battle mats in favor of a digital projector mounted on the ceiling shining downward onto the table. The DM projects the map through that onto the table. It's worked well, but the resolution hasn't been the greatest.

Two weeks ago the projector died.

Enter the Mother of Invention. Our current DM donated an old dining room table with removable leaves. We kicked in for a 40" LCD TV which the host then mounted inside the table. A piece of plexiglass on top, the plug into the DM's laptop, and VOILA: instant electronic battle mat. The table is still under construction, with some amenities and niceties being added, but it works for tonight. Pictures forthcoming once the final touches have been made.

So: Called shots. In our party, we have a Dwarven Sonnlinor (a modified specialty priest from 2E house-ruled into 3.x), a Dwarven Knight, a Human Warmage, and a Centaur Ranger.

We entered a room with an undead beholder, a devourer, and some other lesser baddies. All of our beefing-up spells went bye-bye as we climbed up the stairs and entered the beholder's anti-magic ray. My character, the Sonnlinor, leaped on the centaur's back, who promptly charged at the beholder. A called shot on the central eye followed by a natural 20 and 74 HP later (with an Undead Bane weapon, using Smite Evil), and the undead beholder lay in soggy pieces around the room. This was followed by a natural 20 on a ray attack from the Warmage and the devourer was disintegrated. Our Knight then also rolled a natural 20.

I followed that up a few rounds later with a natural 20 on a Shadow.

We're calling it the Blessing of the New Television. Three natural 20s in a row. The DM is calling it a "curse" for some odd reason. The DM, of course, deflated our celebration by reminding us that he could now use the "called shot" against us in the future.

Party pooper.

09 March 2012

[From the Mailbag] Mail Call

I have to admit: I was a little depressed when I left home this morning. Even more so as I sat at my desk staring through space.

And then the mailman came. The UPS man was right behind him. In truth, as they came in I felt a little bit like Winthrop from The Music Man.* The Wells Fargo wagon had come down the street and the Wells Fargo man was was lookin' straight at me. OK, well, NOT Wells Fargo, but the United States Postal Service and the United Parcel Service. But that doesn't have the same ring to it as "the Wells Fargo Wagon." Blame Meredith Wilson, not me.

[Of course, I also don't have red hair, or quite as much hair, and I'm a tad bit older than Winthrop. Otherwise, it was exactly like that song, but completely different.]

What happened next was what you might call the Gamer's Perfect Storm.

This is what I found once I opened all the envelopes and boxes:

Three different 'zines from three separate individuals. Three orders of miniatures from three different companies. All ordered on different days, all arriving on the very same day, from (I believe) six different states. What we have here:
  • Issue #1 of Dungeon Crawl
  • Zogorion, Lord of the Hippogriffs
  • Issue #8 of Loviatar
  • Half-Ogre Barbarian, #18 Underdark DDM (1)
  • Centaur Hero, #15 Deathknell DDM (2)
  • Centaur War Hulk, #15 Blood War DDM (1)
  • Wererat Rogue, #39 War of Dragon Queen DDM (1)
  • Wererat, #40 Dragoneye DDM (2)
  • Ankheg, #30 Underdark DDM (3)
  • Kintan Strider, #32 Masters of the Force, SWM (3)

I took a close-up of the ankheg and the Kintan Strider, mostly because no-one I talk to has ever actually seen either of these miniatures. Odd, because the ankheg is an uncommon and the Strider is a common. Regardless, no-one in my circle, or that I've talked to at my FLGS, had ever come across either.

I found the Strider one day when I was doing an image search on the internet and it popped up in a completely unrelated picture. Specifically in a game report on Paizo.com by none other than Sean K. Reynolds. I figured they'd work for troll-kin, giant-kin, elementals...the list goes on and on.

So...now I have something to read and review over the weekend, some adventures to run, and some critters to stat up. Plus, a game session tomorrow night with the guys. Things are starting to look up!

*That's right. A Music Man reference. Wanna make something of it?

2012 RPG Inventory --Running Totals

An update to my 2012 RPG Inventory.

The most recent items are listed here. The rest of the list (reverse chronological order, of course) is below the fold. If anyone but myself is truly interested.

  1. Pathways: Issue 13, by Rite Publishing (Free!)
  2. Toys for the Sandbox 00: The Wizard's Tower, by Occult Moon (Free!)
  3. Half-Ogre Barbarian, #18 Underdark DDM (1)
  4. Centaur Hero, #15 Deathknell DDM (2)
  5. Centaur War Hulk, #15 Blood War DDM (1)
  6. Wererat Rogue, #39 War of Dragon Queen DDM (1)
  7. Wererat, #40 Dragoneye DDM (2)
  8. Ankheg, #30 Underdark DDM (3)
  9. Kintan Strider, #32 Masters of the Force, SWM (3)
  10. Loviatar #8, by Christian

08 March 2012

Food for the Muse

My boss is Old School.

I don't mean as a gamer. I mean he's from the Old School. He cannot listen to music while he is working and cannot multitask in any way. He absolutely cannot abide the fact that I can and will listen to music while I work. There is an immediate frown on his face when he walks into my office and music is playing, regardless of what kind of music.

On the other hand, I often find it impossible to work without music of some kind. My parents were much like my boss is now--they could not tolerate music playing while I was studying.

A Facebook post last week from an author-acquaintance of mine got me thinking; he asked what his friends liked to listen to while writing. He had his own list, a list that had some fairly predictable items on it for a SF&F author, including Lord of the Rings, Aliens and Braveheart; it also had some interesting items as well, such as There Shall Be Blood and [shudder] High School Musical.

And that's when I was able to put into words something I have known for years and years: Music is food for my Muse.

So I started looking at what I like to listen to while I work and write. As I started to catalogue it, I realized that much more of it was made up of soundtracks than I realized. This surprised me, simply because in my younger days I was quite selective about the soundtracks I purchased. It really had to speak to me and not just be "music from the movie." Until a few years ago, I believe I had less than ten soundtracks in my collection.

Most of the albums are on this list, primarily, I think, because (a) they have no words to distract or confound your own writing and thoughts and (b) they are at any given time dramatic, romantic, moody, joyful, triumphant, melancholy, epic, dynamic, and evocative. This is especially true of the soundtracks, of course.

Anyway, here is a list of what I like to listen to, or at least, what I've been listening to in the last 12 months. I'd like to see what you all feed your muse, or even IF you feed your muse. [Note: These are listed in alphabetical order, for ease of reference, rather than preference or any other method.]


  • Dances with Wolves, by John Barry

  • Doctor Who--Series 3, by Murray Gold

  • The Wolfman, by Danny Elfman

  • Braveheart, by James Horner

  • The Dark Crystal, by Trevor Jones

  • The Lord of The Rings, by Howard Shore

  • Bladerunner, by Vangelis

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, by Various Artists

  • X-Files: I Want to Believe, by Various Artists

  • ---------------------------------------------------------------

  • Apurimac, by Cusco

  • One More Trip to Birdland, by Maynard Ferguson & Big Bop Nouveau

  • The View From Here, by Matt Flinner

  • Benny Goodman

  • Peer Gynt, by Edvard Grieg

  • Deep Breakfast, by Ray Lynch

  • Canyon Trilogy, Vol. 5, by Carlos Nakai

  • Phillips, Grier & Flinner, by Phillips, Grier & Flinner

  • Practically anything by Midnight Syndicate

  • Glenn Miller

  • Practically anything by Nox Arcana

  • Lord of the Rings: At Dawn in Rivendell, by the Tolkien Ensemble

  • Caverna Magica, by Andreas Vollenweider

  • Beneath the Raven Moon, by Mary Youngblood

01 March 2012

Another 'Zine or Two

Well, I did it. I took the plunge yesterday.

No, I'm not jumping into the 'zine publication scene. Not yet, anyway. Instead, I've listened to the recommendations and reviews around our corner of the 'sphere and ordered myself a copy of Zogorion, Lord of the Hippogriffs.

I received word that it shipped this morning. Bodes well for a good recommendation that the turnaround was so quick. Yeah...review coming when it gets here.

I. Can't. Wait. I love 'zines.

I also ordered a copy of this new 'zine offering, Dungeon Crawl #1. There are no pictures yet of this 'zine (that I can find), but rest assured you'll get a review of this one as well once it arrives.
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