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.

14 February 2013

LTUE: The Hobbit--Film vs. Book Panel Discussion

As I mentioned earlier, I'm spending the next few days at the LTUE: Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy, in beautiful downtown Provo, Utah.

A few tidbits from the first panel discussion, Tolkien's The Hobbit: The Book and the Movies. The panelists involved were Paul Genesse, David Farland, Blake Casselman, and Tracy Hickman, with Paul acting as moderator.

At one point, the topic was raised of "What were your quibbles with the movie?" David Farland leaped in with some minor complaints about the pacing, particularly focusing on the scenes in Bag End. He said that he went into the movie really wanting to love the dwarves...and came away not having fallen in love with them at all. He pointed out that too much time was spent at Bag End. Then he made the mistake of using the word "pacing."

The microphone was passed to Tracy Hickman and the question repeated, "What were your quibbles? What was there about the movie that made you mad?" He smiled and said, "What made me mad was the audience." There was rousing applause to this sentiment. "All the cell phones, the texting, the little lights all over the theater. It made me want to throw popcorn at them all." Again: rousing applause. "This is why the 'free refill Coke' is such a good thing; that way you can dump your drink on them and...." Laughs and applause.

Then Tracy continued: "Seriously, though, my problem with the movie is with people who have a problem with the pacing." At which he and David Farland looked eyes and David laughed. Back to Tracy, with a few tidbits of wisdom from him.
  • We are so inured to the Bruce Lee, fast-paced...action-from-a-firehose movies that we have lost the art of enjoying the journey.
  • Look at The Maltese Falcon: that one didn't truck along. Casablanca wasn't action-packed or fast-paced.
  • As writers, the audience expects us to write our prose cinematically.
  • Enjoy the pace--the journey--rather than worry how long it takes to get there.
The microphone was passed back to David Farland who conceded that he didn't really mean "pacing" per se. What he intended to complain about was the fact that the time at Bag End could have been used better by developing the relationship between the dwarves. He wanted to be shown how to differentiate between the dwarves, and that he said, was what he meant by "pacing." Tracy nodded at that and voiced his agreement to that idea.

Blake Casselman made a comment in passing that he really appreciated the whole Moby Dick theme included in the movie, meaning Azog, the White Orc. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of time to develop that idea, but it's an idea worthy of a number of essays itself.

Paul Genesse had a good, pithy observation on Radaghast: "Look, I know you like ALL like Radaghast, but when the smoke came out of his ears, I rolled my eyes. Radaghast is my Jar Jar Binks." Even though I really liked the Radaghast character, I had to laugh. I can respect his opinion.

O.K. Off to another panel discussion. More later.

The Answer is '42':LTUE

The answer is, of course, to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Wow. I just realized I used the same joke last year.

That's where I'm spending my Valentine's Day, and the next two days as well...with my wife at the LTUE writing conference in Provo, Utah. Yup, I'll be rubbing elbows with such writers as Tracy & Laura Hickman, David Farland, Larry Correia, and Paul Genesse. It's a great opportunity to learn about writing, get writing tips--of all sorts--from all sorts of authors, artists, and filmmakers.

I'm starting the day listening to David Farland, Tracy Hickman, Paul Genesse and Blake Casselman discuss The Hobbit: The Film and the Book. Great stuff.

I'll try and remember to add some more information over the next few days.

13 February 2013

Painted Lead: Harapan, the Elephant Man

I picked up the brush Sunday for the first time in eleven months. Yes, I said ELEVEN months.

I spent a few hours relieving stress with this guy. And by "a few" I mean "7.5" or so. "This guy" is a limited edition release from Reaper Miniatures: 01411 Harapan, Elephant Man. This was a fig released in January 2005 to raise funds for Red Cross following the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, 2004. I picked up a couple of these--partly because of the good cause and partly because, hey, cool miniature! They've been hiding in a box for the last 8 years.

Saturday, I was bored and exhausted. A bit depressed. My personal and professional life(s) had me stressed to the hilt. So I decided to paint. A bit of digging in my lead pile uncovered Harapan, the Elephant Man. My mind started spinning and color schemes started flashing through my brain. My hands itched to hold a paintbrush.

Yeah, I'm serious. Itching.

Don't laugh. You mini-painters out there know exactly what I'm talking about, I'll bet.

I think I'm done with the miniature except for the base/basing...haven't decided out what to do there yet. I haven't decided whether to simply paint the broccoli base, mount it to a new, larger base and do some basic terrain basing, or to build a small diorama around it (rock towers, grass, rocks, etc.) for display. Getting the right base is important, as you know.

Oh, I probably have to hit him with some sealant for a bit of protection.

I would appreciate any honest feedback, etc. from y'all. Please let me know what you think. I have to be honest, it was my first time trying out a few different techniques.

Also, I know the pictures aren't the best, but they were the best and most well-lighted of the four sets I tried.

Again: let me know what you think in the comments. Constructive criticism is more than welcome.

07 February 2013

Who's Who: Wedgaer Ironhand [NPC]

Wedgaer Ironhand is an only child who comes from a long line of paladins and clerics. His father, Erfbaer Smallwhisper, is famous among the kingdoms of gnomes for his deeds in battle against the forces of Anaekah, the goddess of Evil and Darkness during the Time of Unrest. Erfbaer is also infamous among the gnomes for his traitorous actions during the Time of Regrowth shortly thereafter.

Both of Wedgaer’s parents are now deceased. His mother, Dalseg, died by her own hand, shamed by the actions of her husband. The revelations of his misdeeds came as a complete surprise, the shock driving her deep into madness and eventually a crudely fashioned noose. His father, Erfbaer, was challenged to a duel by his brother-in-law after Dalseg’s death. Blinded and near-crippled by grief, Erfbaer was not up to the challenge and proved to be a poor match for his late wife’s angered brother.

Needless to say, Wedgaer was and is extremely embarrassed by his parents: his father’s treason and his mother’s madness. After their death, Wedgaer was taken in by one of his father’s comrades-in-arms, a paladin named Flan Wildgold. Flan taught Wedgaer about the Code of the Paladin and began his instruction in the worship of Oridon, the God of Science and Victory. Wedgaer has since grown into a staunch defender of the faith, brooking no insult to his God. He has also made it his life’s goal to stamp out every last worshiper and shrine to Anaekah. Vengeance for his family’s dishonor will, he vows, one day be his.

He has already had several encounters with Anaekah’s followers. One particular skirmish went extraordinarily badly. Although Wedgaer survived the fight, several of his fellow paladins fell to the dark magic wielded by Moglaun, the Warpshroud of Kel-engog. Wedgaer was one of only a handful of survivors; they escaped, but grossly embarrassed Moglaun in the process. The Warpshroad of Kel-engog has pledged to hunt down and destroy all of the survivors of the conflict, including Wedgaer.

Wedgaer is still a young gnome at 52 years of age. He stands 3'5" and is slender. He has piercing blue eyes and flaming red hair; he is considered extremely attractive among gnome-folk, and some human folk as well. His wardrobe is understated–for a gnome. This means, of course, that he still stands out among humans, dwarves, and elves. Early in his combat training under Flan, Wedgaer suffered the loss of two of his fingers on his left hand. Flan contracted with a local dwarven craftsman who fashioned replacement fingers out of metal. The fingers fasten to his hand with a series of straps and are non-functional. Wedgaer took this opportunity to ceremonially sever ties with his family and history by changing his surname from “Smallwhisper” to “Ironhand.”

Pride is his greatest weakness and stems from the embarrassment he feels about his parents’ shortcomings, real or perceived. As such, he is particularly vulnerable to compliments and adoration; it is difficult for him to discern between genuine praise, empty flattery, and malevolent sycophancy. At the same time, he finds no pleasure in expensive but unnecessary things. Frippery does not attract him in any way. His armor and weapons, while of excellent quality, are utilitarian and not gaudy or showy. They are tools–important tools to be sure–but no more than tools. His metal fingers, while seemingly unnecessary, feed into the pride he has in his appearance and are thus necessary to his work.

Wedgaer Ironhand
   CR 4
   Gnome Paladin 4
   NG Small Humanoid
   Init: 0
   Senses: Low-light Vision; Listen +3; Spot +1
   Languages: Common, Gnome
   AC 15 touch 11, Flat-footed 15 (Chain Shirt) (+1 size, +4 armor)
   hp 30
   Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +5
   Speed: 20
   Melee: Mace, light +7 (1d4+1) or
   Ranged: Crossbow, light +5 (1d6/19-20 x2) range 80
   Space/Reach: 5 ft./ 5ft.
   Base Atk 4; Grp 1
   Combat Gear: Mace, light +1
   Spells Prepared: (CL 1)
       1st — (DC 12) Bless
   Spell-Like Abilities: (CL 0)
       1/day speak with animals (burrowing), 1/day dancing lights, ghost sounds, prestidigitation (DC 13)
   Abilities: Str 12, Dex 11, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 16
   SQ: Aura of Courage, Aura of Good, Detect Evil at will, Divine Grace, Divine Health, +1 Difficulty DC with illusionary spells, +4 dodge AC vs. giant type, +2 save vs. illusion
   Feats: Combat Casting, Heavy Armor Prof., Light Armor Prof., Medium Armor Prof., Shield Prof., Simple Weapon Prof., Weapon Focus (Mace)
   Skills: Concentration 7, Craft 1, Diplomacy 5, Heal 3, Hide 2, Listen 3, Ride 0, Search -1, Sense Motive 3, Spot 1
   Possessions: Combat gear plus Chain shirt +1, Potion of Bless Weapon, Potion of Endure Elements

04 February 2013

Kickstart THIS!

Two "new" Kickstarter projects have come to my attention that I want to pass on to the rest of you.

First of all are these Tavern Cards by Hannah Lipsky.

Some of you may know Hannah better as the operator of the random generator site, Chaotic Shiny. Hannah is a friend of mine, one that I've talked about here before. The random generators on her site are terrific and are a great spur for your imagination, gaming, and writing needs. Now she's taken the plunge from digital generators to physical--shall we say "analog"--generators with this Kickstarter.

From the Kickstarter description:
A gorgeous deck of full-color playing cards that you can use to randomly generate a tavern, then win at poker while you're there.

Tavern Cards is a random tavern generator in the form of a fully playable normal card deck....

You can play any normal card game with these cards. Or, you can draw a handful and use those to randomly generate a tavern.

All 54 cards have original full-color art. You can use the pictures as inspiration for your tavern, or just hand them to your players and say, "This is what you see." Many of the cards feature characters which you can use as NPC portraits.

The cards also have some cool features like tarot-style numbering. See the four diamonds on the Burly Bouncers up top? What about the seven clubs in the Gambling Game card? Each card will have some representation of the number and the suit hidden in the art.

Each card also had an adjective on one side and a noun on the other. Combine any adjective with any noun on the cards you draw for a tavern name like the Prancing Pony, Drunken Goblin, Daring Hostler or Crimson Duchess.

As with any Kickstarter, the different support levels offer various perks: multiple card packs, discounts on future card packs, signed art, etc. With nine days left to go, she's about $1,740 away from funding the project. So head on over, find a good support level for your pocketbook and gaming shelf and let's get some of these card packs started shipping out to the gaming community.

This next one happened across my radar purely by accident. I'll let the description speak for itself:
A Gallery of Rogues is a fantasy sourcebook of a criminal guild and its network of operatives. More than just a thieves guild, the provides details on operation, range of influence, adventure hooks, and numerous tools for GMs and Players to get involved right away....

The characters come from all backgrounds, including criminal, civil, and even political. The guild maintains a wide array of members, including at least one wizard and a few politicians — to keep things orderly and all that. Each has a deep background, linked to other members of the guild. This interwoven design promises for a realistic and complex web for your organization. Which in turns means months, if not years of rich game play.

Each character in the book includes game information for old and new editions of the world's favorite fantasy RPG, including Pathfinder, but not 4th.

This one looks pretty cool, if you ask me. Like monsters, I believe one can never have too many NPCs. This one has seven days left and is about $800 away from funding. I'm helping fund and would urge you to do so as well.

So head on over to Kickstarter, throw in a pledge to these two great projects, and then help get the word out!
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