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 July 2012

OSR Monster Project

Just a heads up to my readers of a new OSR project swiftly reaching its (scheduled) conclusion.

The OSR Monster Project over at Rended Press is scheduled to wrap up on Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

This was originally intended to be a collection of craziness: all the monsters created in June 2012 from the OSR blogosphere, collected in one place and then .pdf'd for general consumption. It was then extended to any monster blog-created in 2012. I came late to the party, so I was glad to see the extension. I took the opportunity to add in the eight critters that have crawled from my brain through my pen in the past eight months.

I'd urge everyone to take the next 24 hours or so to jump on over to the Google Docs site and plug in their own creations. Mine are in 3.x format, but they come from someone in the OSR blood flows. I consider myself part of the OSR, even if no one else does. I use OSR materials and theories in my games and have nothing against previous versions of D&D or clones.
================================
Re-blogging today's post from Rended Press.
http://rendedpress.blogspot.com/2012/07/status-update-osr-ogl-blogosphere.html

As of today, the OSR OGL BLOGOSPHERE MONSTERS PROJECT has 26 entries.

I'll close the file sometime during the afternoon of August 1.

Remember: This is open to any creature you've posted on your blog at any point in 2012!

So come on, people. Do the cut & paste!

Note: Please only share material that you feel comfortable appearing in a half-assed, crazy, DIY fan compilation.
================================
The count's increased from 26 this morning to, well, 39 at last count. I wanna see some more, though...monsters are like dice: you can never have too many.

My contributions:
32. Brain Ghoul
33. Howler Snake
34. Iron Hide Zombie
35. Lung Leech Swarm
36. Quickdeath
37. Ragehawk
38. Slimeclaw Wyrm
39. Soul Beetle

26 July 2012

[From the Mailbag] Runed by Pathfinder

Around these parts, the 24th of July is a state holiday, one for which our firm closes down. This year, with it falling on a Tuesday I figured there was no reason to work on Monday and so I took a long four-day weekend.

While I was away from the firm, I got a package. A package of goodness and light that was awaiting me when I returned. Something to salve the pain of returning to work.

I had THIS.

Five years ago, I had the chance to sign up for the Adventure Path. The first one. I almost did. I couldn't convince myself or my wife that it was worth it. It took me a long time. Last year I picked up my first Adventure Path: Carrion Crown. I enjoyed it thoroughly; just waiting to finish my current adventure with my kids to throw them into this one. Then I picked up the next one: Jade Regent. I've never liked having fortune cookies in my D&D, but having lived in the Orient for several years, I thought I'd try it out and see. I was right--I didn't enjoy it as much...but I have monsters, I have ideas. Then came the pirate Adventure Path. I don't even know what it was called. I. Don't. Like. Pirates. In. My. RPG. (I know, this is heresy in some circles.) So I canceled my subscription.

Since the second Adventure Path, I've regretted not picking up the Rise of the Runelords. As I said, some of the ones since have not been that enjoyable to me. But I enjoyed the ideas and the presentation enough that when the Rise of the Runelords was announced I started saving. And saving. And saving.

And now it's here.

And the potential adventures are just lining up for my kids and my players.

It looks terrific. Nice sturdy hard-bound. Glossy pages. I'm told it has new artwork and new material. Granted, there are some things missing: Paizo did not want to repeat creatures, items, and rules that have since become part of the Core Rules. They updated it to formal Pathfinder rules. It's PURTY. I haven't had a lot of time to actually thumb through it, but I've discovered one problem with it. A big one.

The problem? Now I have to take a serious look at the upcoming pre-painted plastic mini release from Paizo.... The Rise of the Runelord miniature set.

Time to start saving.

And saving. And saving.

25 July 2012

More 'Morphs!

I'm going crazy with the Community Geomorph Project. Rather than sitting and drooling at the television (or the judge), I take the chance to whip out my clipboard and a pencil and throw a quick geomorph or two onto paper.

And I think I'm driving Richard crazy as well.

Again, I'd urge you to check it out if you haven't already. Jump on board, if for no other reason than to give Richard something to look at other than MY geomorphs!

Here are my latest offerings:






20 July 2012

A Grim Day

I had several posts that were nearly ready to go live today. One in particular that I was quite excited about.

All that changed when I heard the news coming from Aurora, Colorado. I have friends and family that live in Denver and Aurora. I haven't been able to reach them yet; I don't know whether that's because of the early hour or something more dire.

Needless to say, I won't be posting anything about gaming today. It's a game, and a darn fun one, but it's only a game. This is real life. This is tragedy.

This is Evil at work.

It is a grim day.




As a gun owner, I pray that this creep won't color the rest of us in the eyes of the public.

As an attorney, I pray that everyone waits to get the full story before running off half-cocked, strewing blame about without cause or reason and pointing fingers. I would also pray that everyone remember that the suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

As an American, I pray for the community, that it can come together, remember what is most important in life, and most importantly, HEAL from this.

As a human being, I pray for the victims and their families. My thoughts and prayers are truly with them this morning. I cannot even imagine the pain, the grief, and the horror that has enveloped the lives of those in Aurora--and indeed, across the country--that have friends or relations that were involved in this nightmare.

Join with me. Kneel. Remove your helms and lay down your arms. Bow your head. Remember the victims and their families. May God bless them and comfort them.

God bless us all.

18 July 2012

Sack of Swarms (New magic item)

Wondrous Item: Sack of Swarms

This small bag appears normal and empty. However, any creature reaching into the bag feels a small ball. Touching this ball causes a peculiar tickling sensation, much like thousands of tiny pinpricks, across their appendage. If the creature grasps and removes the ball, and the ball is tossed up to 30 feet away, it turns into a swarm. The summoner has no control over its target or direction of travel. If no living creatures are within the area of the swarm, it attacks or pursues the nearest creature as best it can. The swarm persists for 10 minutes (or until dispersed or slain), at which point it disappears.

Vermin produced are always random, and only one swarm may exist at a time. Up to ten swarms can be drawn from the bag each week. Use the following table to determine the type of swarm.

Faint conjuration; CL 3rd; Craft Wondrous Item, summon swarm; Price 900 gp.











d%Animal
1-15Wasps
16-30Centipedes
31-70Spiders
71-85Locusts
86-100Scorpions

16 July 2012

[From the Mailbag] Gamer Generosity

I've tried to write this blog entry a dozen times and I've deleted my efforts just as many times.

You see, I want to express my gratitude to several people and I want to laud the generosity of the RPG blogging community. But at the same time, I worry that others will try and take advantage of the same generosity for which I'm so grateful.

In the end, I've decided that I have to go ahead and make my thank-yous and count on the same gamer goodness that spawned this entry in the first place.

Now that my dithering is out of the way, I guess I should explain myself.

I've mentioned recently that my father passed away in June 2011. A year later, my mother decided it was time to pick out a headstone design and get it installed on the grave site. She enlisted the help of my older brother and myself and set up an appointment with the monument company's designer.

The problem: the appointment fell on the same day as Free RPG Day 2012: June 16. I'd waited a year for this date and found that I could do nothing to accommodate both my familial duty and my hobby cravings. I resigned myself to missing out and relying on the release of free PDFs from some of my desired Free RPG day materials. I explained my predicament online in a couple places and took care of my mother on the day in question.

I've spent the last 18 months or so in a spiral of depression. My father's passing did nothing to help the spiral; problems at the Firm and with my family's finances have piled additional weight on my shoulders. My back isn't broken, but the straw of missing Free RPG Day this year was close to a final one.

And then something happened, something that strengthened my faith in humanity and reassured me that the RPG community is full of good-hearted and caring individuals.

I had three friends respond to me...people that I know only from online correspondence, people that I have never met face to face. These three friends took it upon themselves to share with me their Free RPG Day bounty. In fact, I received an extra bit of gaming goodness that took the act of kindness to a level above and beyond.

Once the envelopes arrived, this is what my desk looked like.
  1. Q-Workshop Free RPG Day 2012 Forest Dice (d4, d8, d10, d20, d100)
  2. Harn Map, by Columbia Games
  3. Dead in the Eye, by Wizards of the Coast
  4. Cosmic Patrol Quickstart, by Catalyst Games
  5. Dungeon Crawl Classics Free RPG Day 2012 Module, by Goodman Games
  6. Dawn of the Scarlet Sun, by Paizo
  7. Cardboard Heroes: Castles Walls and Towers, by Steve Jackson Games

Most of these items were on my "Wanted" checklist for the purpose of teaching my kids to game. Because of the generosity of others, I can do it.

I want to thank the three individuals publicly; in the spirit of effective alms-giving, I want to keep them anonymous, however. They know who they are, and hopefully they know how grateful I am to their kindness. They went out of their way to help a friend who was unable to help himself. I do not think that I could find the words sufficient to show my gratitude to them. At the least, I can try and pass along the kindness to others in the community in the future.

Thank you my friends. You've given me a bit more than simply RPG products. You've given me some hope and faith. The depression isn't gone, but this experience has thrown me a little life preserver.

13 July 2012

Community Geomorph Project

I've taken the plunge.

I just sent off my first four pages of entries to the Community Geomorph Project.

For those not in the know, Richard over at Save Vs. Dragon and the creator of the d30 DM Companion was inspired to begin a Geomorph project among the d30/OSR/RPG community. I was intrigued and decided to spend a day laying some lead down onto paper.

For the most part, I'm pleased with the results so far. It's a lot of fun to throw these small rooms/areas together without worrying about what "the whole" looks like. I've varied between caverns, temples, corridors, and single rooms. Lakes, ramps, chasms, and balconies are all found therein.

Ultimately the goal is to compile all of the community-generated geomorphs into one large PDF. They may also be thrown onto Dave's Mapper as well.

I'd urge you to check it out if you haven't already. It's for a worthy cause, after all...because you can never have too many maps!

Here are my first offerings:

11 July 2012

[From the Mailbag] Son of The Manor! A Review!

One day after the postal worker brought me the twin happiness of Barrowmaze and the d30 DM Companion, I returned home to find that our personal postal worker (or would that be "mail distribution facilitator"?) had left another present for me.

Yup. I had an envelope with the scary moth. Inside was the lovely mug of Hugo staring up at me. The envelope had a laugh-inducing personal message from the Author himself, Tim Shorts. Unfortunately, my laughter meant explaining the message to my wife.

You see...I like 'zines. I'm sure this comes as a surprise to my long-time readers. Yeah. Really. I like 'em. I get excited about a good product too. So when the two sources of excitement combine in one? Well, loss of reason isn't out of the question. I was so eager for The Manor #2, I went and purchased my copy mere minutes after the PayPal button went live over on GM Games. Within minutes I had a confirmation e-mail from Tim thanking me for my purchase, but advising me (what I had apparently forgotten) that I had purchased a subscription when I bought issue #1.

Yep. That's what I did. And I told Tim that he was free to not let me live it down. And now my wife won't let me live it down either. At any rate, it was a nice personal touch that I certainly wouldn't have gotten from someone like Wizards of the Boast. (Full disclosure: To be honest, I HAVE actually received something similar from Paizo's customer service on one occasion, but I digress.)

So, what did I get for my $3.50? 24 pages of gaming goodness. First, The Manor #2 has a nice, striking yellow (is that Canary?) cover. It looks great on the shelf next to the red cover of Issue #1.

The title page has a few humorous touches--a great disclaimer, for one, that my attorney-side appreciated. These are the kind of things that I love about 'zines. The personal touches, the inside jokes, the foibles.

The introduction contains, in part, a nice piece of software pimpery. I actually wanted to go out and buy a copy of Office Publisher myself, even though I hate Office products. Then a nice personal note from Tim about the contents and the history of Issue #2.

Now for the meat: 14 pages devoted to [u]Hugo's Healing Potions Shop[/u]. Honestly, I feel like it should be "Shoppe".... But Hugo's feels real. We have mechanic generic bios of Hugo and his staff. We have a nice map with a detailed key. Tim also gives us a random customer table for the Shop as well as adventure hooks. Great fluff that really makes the place come alive. I particularly love the little touches Tim adds to his descriptions; they add atmosphere and realism. I mean, "During business hours, the door is held open by a rock." I love it. I have a player that WOULD ask how the door is being held open, and would probably take the rock and use it for nefarious ends.

The next 8 pages are devoted to Smugglers Inn and the surrounding environs. Jason Sholtis contributes to the cause with a table of "things you might find under the cot at Smugglers Inn." Great stuff.

The inside back cover gives us a rampaging orc (pig-faced, of course) and a Poetry Slam by the Rusty Battle Axe. Any poem that can work in 'cockroaches' and 'destruction' pretty much gives the poet my nod for Poet Laureate.

More than anything else, I think I may like and appreciate about Tim's work is that it is SO mechanic- or game-generic. One could easily use the Potion Shop and the Smuggler's Inn in a Labyrinth Lord, DCC, Pathfinder, 4th Edition game, not to mention
Call of Cthulhu, d20 Modern, or whatever your flavor-of-the-month may be.

Finally, the back cover. Here we have something that, to me, epitomizes so much of what I have found in the RPG blogosphere. Tim has included an advertisement for The Horrendous Heap of Sixteen Cities by Dylan Hartwell over at Digital Orc. The advertisement was, according to Dylan, completely unsolicited and unexpected. Maybe because it's so rare in my professional life, but I really enjoy the comraderie and brotherhood that RPG gamers share in the online world. I've been touched in the past month by some outreach from some fellow bloggers and gamers; that's a topic for another, well-overdue post. Suffice it to say, it's a nice refreshing change from real life for me, to know that there are good, honest, and caring people that just want us all to get along, have fun, and promote a good, fun hobby. It makes it even better to see these same people band together and try to help the fellow gamers in real life situations, concerns, hiccups, tragedies, etc.

So...back to the Manor #2. If you couldn't already tell, I would recommend it to anyone who games. Period. Anyone can use this material; if you can't, you're really not trying. Excellent work, Tim.

Wait...I take it back. There IS a major problem with The Manor #2. I just discovered it. It's nearly insurmountable.

The problem is this: now I have to WAIT impatiently for The Manor #3. This makes me... unhappy.

09 July 2012

[From the Mailbag] Oh Frabjous Day!

Callooh! Callay!

When I came galumphing into the office today, I had to chortle with joy because of what awaited me.

Sitting on my desk were two brown cardboard mailers. Inside I found these:


RPGNow came through with my print copy of Barrowmaze and Lulu came through with my print copy of the d30 DM Companion.

A mailbag full of Gaming Goodness and inspiration. I can't wait to get home and break these open. I have reading material for the evening. Hopefully I can get to running Barrowmaze soon so I can get a review posted up.

Admit it.... After just a bit of uffish thought...you're just a little jealous, aren't you?

05 July 2012

Magic Missiles at the Stronghold

I hope you all had a happy, safe, and relaxing 4th of July -- both to my American readers and international readers. (As the question goes: "Do they have the Fourth of July in England?")

For myself, it was fairly relaxing. A little sleep-in followed by hours of American Revolution documentary-goodness on the Military Channel. The gaming material for the new campaign was right at-hand for the commercial breaks.

That was followed by a picnic in the backyard with the family. Homemade Onion/horseradish burgers; Jell-o, corn on the cob, etc. Fantastic food; the wife is a stellar cook, so the burgers were amazing and the corn on the cob tasted like candy. Truly the sweetest corn I've had in ages.

Then, once we were stuffed with food, the kids demanded that I try and run away from dangerous pyrotechnical objects. Well, semi-dangerous. We couldn't afford much more than the budget pack from the local supermarket. But we can always count on our neighbors for assistance. They pull out the big guns every year; this year they said they spent over $200, just in the past week alone. So the kids were still entertained; the younger ones don't mind the little fountains we purchased and the older kids (and mom and dad) were entertained with the neighbors' fireworks. Here's a sampling of the night...once the neighbors brought out the mortar shells.
video
All in all, a relaxing change of pace. Good times and good food with the family; what more can you ask? And honestly, with entertainment like this, why fight the crowds, parking, heat, etc. just to see "professional" fireworks?

Other than not having another day feel like Monday in the same week, of course. Sigh. The crazies are out on the telephone in full force today.

But I have a new campaign starting up, so that kinda balances things out. More on the new campaign soon.
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