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 October 2013

Prepare to be Jealous

A couple weeks ago, Tim Shorts over at Gothridge Manor showed off some artwork he'd received in the mail. The name of his post was "Prepare to be Jealous." Seeing how his post inspired this one, and the sentiment fits, I've co-opted his post title for my own today.

Thanks, Tim.

If you're a long-time reader of my blog, or have been around the OSR for a while, you've no doubt heard of Jay Penn or have seen his work. He was the artist for Christian Walker's Loviatar 'zine. Jay's been generous enough in the past to allow me to purchase some pieces from him, pieces awaiting framing for my home office. Well, Jay recently completed an artistic challenge "100 Heads in 100 Days"; he put these works up for grabs and I grabbed several.

Here's what I found when I opened the envelope:

I'm currently looking for a frame for this one. I loved the idea and the colors in this.

I actually received two of these from Jay. He graciously sent a second print that I delivered to my FLGS, Hastur Games and Comics. The owner calls himself "Cthulhu Bob" and the managers of this store have been good friends of mine for over three decades. They all loved this piece; I understand it's getting framed and put in the manager's office.

These were pieces from Jay's "100 Days"; The one on the upper right, titled "Nanna Orc" was Day #5 and is in pencil. Kiddy-corner to that, the one-eyed dwarf, is an ink piece for Day #7, appropriately named "Left-Eye the Dwarf." The piece on the far right is Day #18, an ink/watercolor rendition of Tolkien's Gimli, son of Gloin. The upper-left hand pieces is another ink/watercolor for Day #36 and is what Jay titles, "A Stonehead Waymarker."

[Aside: I had to share Jay's explanation of the piece here.... "Faerie is ribboned with paths, roads, trails, passages and the likes. They go in every which way, over mountains, under hills, around lakes, through streams. On some of the ancient and seldom used paths, one may come across a Stonehead Waymarker. These talking stones will only give directions if asked the correct question. The catch being that they will not tell you what that question is or how to discover it. To further annoy passing travelers, the 'right' question is never the same one twice, it always changes. Stonehead Waymarkers are, thus, entirely useless in every way except as a cautionary tale of the importance of a good map on a journey. Perhaps that is why the Stonehead Waymarkers exist in the first place..." End aside.]

Finally, the one in the bottom center is Mr. Tolkien himself, a pencil sketch for Day #42.

To tell the truth, there were LOTS more that I wanted. I didn't want to be greedy, however. Tim actually got one that I really wanted. I guess I'll let him keep it. Although, I should add a disclaimer: if it comes up missing, Tim, it wasn't me. Honest.

If you haven't seen Jay's work, or haven't picked up something from him, head on over to his Realm of Faerie blog and take a look around. He's always got something new up his sleeve. And don't let my pictures fool you or dissuade you: they DO NOT do the artwork justice. Not at all.

22 October 2013

[Review] Tombstones of Terror: Curse of the Sin Eater

Well, my good friend Dylan over at Digital Orc has done it again, and just in time for Hallowe'en gaming goodness.

This time 'round he gives us a little adventure titled: Tombstones of Terror: Curse of the Sin Eater.
First: a disclaimer.

I was an editor/proofreader on this project for Dylan. Thus, I want to make it clear: I have not received and will not receive any monetary remuneration for either my proofreading work or this review.

Now that's out of the way, let's get down to business.

We're looking at 32 pages of Labyrinth Lord goodness. (No worries to those who don't play LL; I regularly use Dylan's adventures in 3.x settings and they translate well.) As usual we have Dylan's unique artwork sprinkled throughout. I particularly like his grey-scale setting images and his critter pics. I will confess that my wife saw one image and hollered at me, "WHAT are you reading?!" I told her it was grown-up stuff for grown-ups and not to worry: the kids wouldn't see it. That didn't help my cause, of course. Once I told her it was Dylan's latest, she was mollified because she knows his work. (In hindsight she agrees that the picture wasn't all that bad; it just took her off-guard.) YMMV.

The adventure is not graphic, it's not James Raggi grown-up stuff, but it's not intended for the little ones. Definitely PG, or maybe PG-13, based on some of the thematic elements. This is not a critique or a complaint, just a warning to my more sensitive readers and the parents out there. As with most things: if you have a concern with your kids seeing something, take the time to look at it first rather than complaining later.

The premise of the adventure is intriguing: the death of a village "sin eater" causes a curse to descend and sets the stage for some interdimensional doom and destruction. In order to lift the curse on the town, the adventurers must unlock riddles on seven different tombstones, each one a magical portal to a different and unique dungeon. Each dungeon has its own creatures and settings; each dungeon has its own boss. All seven dungeons must be overcome and each of the eight bosses Dylan gives us must be conquered in order to lift the curse.

As usual, Dylan gives us some interesting souls (literally in this case) to populate his world: lost sailors, grieving bards, and lustful priests. He also gives us some familiar monsters to battle, but adds in some new ones of his own. And yes, we have another spider. A wonderfully, gruesome spider. One that makes my skin crawl, and yet I cannot wait to unleash it on my own players.

[Aside: Dylan knows I'm an arachnophobe. (I know better, but...) I swear he lays awake at night thinking up something new and creepy to do with spiders just so that I can proofread their stats and text-blocks and get the heebie-jeebies. He's even threatened that his next work will be: Boric's Basement Book of Spiders -- 20 Arresting arachnids for your old-school games! Written & Illustrated by Dylan Hartwell. I told him that I may not be able to handle the editing work on something like that. (Shudder) I wanted to tell him that I didn't think he could come up with 20 new ones, but that sounded too much like a gauntlet being thrown down so I resisted. End aside.]

Dylan also gives us seven new maps, one for each dungeon. The text accompanying each dungeon is just detailed enough for most DMs: giving enough detail for some DMs to take it as written and run with it, while leaving room for other DMs to add/subtract details of their own. I think he strikes a good balance with the detail, myself. I will say this about the details, though: Dylan likes his Easter Eggs. He sprinkles little bits of continuity from his other adventures throughout. It's a nice nod to those of us who have/enjoy the other adventures, plus it gives an opportunity to expand from a quick adventure into a campaign.

If I had one complaint, it would be this: I want just a bit more. I'd like a bit more flavor about the town, a few more NPCs and townspeople with whom to interact. I realize I can do this myself, but sometimes I'm lazy. It certainly works well without the extra flavor and NPCs. I just think it would be even better. (But then, I collect NPCs, so I suppose it's not that difficult for me to pull a few out of the file drawer.)

Really, then, my one complaint comes down to pure, unadulterated selfishness.

I'm going to give this 4 battle-axes out of 5. I'd highly recommend it to anyone; as I said above, I think it could make a nice one- or two-night adventure for a group, or it could form the basis of an entire campaign. Great content, period. Currently it's available at RPGNow in PDF format for $3.99. He's anticipating the print version to be available soon for $4.99 -- if you'd rather the print version, just keep an eye out over at his Digital Orc blog.

21 October 2013

[From the Mailbag] Return of the Son of the Unboxing of Golarion

The mailman hadn't even hit the next building yet before I got the box opened. Most of what I got today were duplicates of my favorites from the Legends of Golarion Pathfinders Battles set I opened last week. Specifically, I picked up a few more Tatzlwyrms, Degenerate Serpentfolk, and some more Monkey Swarms.

But I picked up a few more individual minis that had piqued my interest.

18 October 2013

[From the Mailbag] Son of The Unboxing of Golarion

Well, you gluttons of punishment, you're back for more, eh? Yesterday didn't scare you off? Or maybe it piqued your interest? Either way, let's go ahead and finish up the accounting from the Legends of Golarion minatures set from Paizo/Pathfinder.

17 October 2013

[From the Mailbag] The Unboxing of Golarion!

I tore into my free booster packs last night as soon as I got in the door. All in all, not a bad haul: there were only 2 duplicates, and both duplicates were of useful miniatures. I'm getting more enamored of these sculpts as time goes by. The first couple releases just didn't impress me. The last few, however, have had some amazing pieces.

For example, I like what Paizo/WizKids is doing with clear plastic. The two goblins in this set are carrying torches, made from colored clear plastic, and the flames look really nice. One of the other minis from this set (not received in my boosters, but put on order a few hours ago) uses clear plastic to denote a slimy outer covering. Earlier sets have used the clear plastic for see-through housings on golems and similar miniatures. It adds a layer to the 'realism' that is difficult to get in metal unless you really spend a lot of time, money, and talent.

I can hear you saying, "Yeah, yeah. You like the sculpts. Get on with it and share your loot with us!" OK, maybe you aren't saying that. In fact, if you are, I may have to worry a bit. But without further ado, here's the accounting:

16 October 2013

,[From the Mailbag] Legendary Mail Surprise

I spent most of Columbus Day (observed) out of commission from a "gastric disorder" and didn't make it into work until Tuesday morning.

Imagine how much better I felt when I saw the big box sitting on my office chair, containing a full brick of Paizo's newest miniature release, Legends of Golarion.
And the best part? I didn't have to pay a thing for them.

"Zip. Zero. Nada. Zilch," as they say.

There's a long story behind these that I won't go into here. Suffice if to say it ended a much better day than it started. Hopefully real life will slow down enough to allow me to do an unboxing and give you all a report on what exactly it was I got.

Until then, keep your dice dry.

08 October 2013

It's the Final Countdown!

Friends, a reminder that there's less than 36 hours remaining on the Kickstarter for my friends Tracy and Laura Hickman's latest gaming endeavor! They're not just friends of the OSR; you may say they help embody the OSR! Plus, they know a thing or two about making games....

I think they've got another home run on their hands!

Let's make a final push toward the finish line; there's some GREAT stretch goals that are well within reach. (These include plastic counters, special dice, and input from author Kevin J. Anderson!) They've already met stretch goals to include a game module written by author Larry Correia.

It's a fun game and a worthy cause.... Besides, you can never have too many board games, right? Best of all, it's suitable for adults, kids, and families.

If you haven't had a chance to pledge yet, jump on board! If you've already pledged, take a moment and check out the great add-ons!

Here's the link: Sojourner Tales Board Game.

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