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.

28 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 22—Brownleaf's Cottage

 O.K. I'm now in the process of playing catch-up. A couple of real-life deadlines are kicking my butt, but I'm determined to see this through, even if I have to bleed into November just a bit.

Here's the offering for Day 22: 

Brownleaf's Cottage
(Key word: little)

Brownleaf is a pixie druid, who fancies himself an artist. He has crafted himself a home in a discarded snail shell in Elkhole Forest.
  1. Entry Hall: Brownleaf keeps most of his weapons and armor here.
  2. Rumpus Room: used for entertaining, games, sport, etc., as well as his studio.
  3. Gallery: Brownleaf keeps his favorite artistic works here.
  4. Storage/Dining: used for both storage and informal dining.
  5. Study: bookshelves, a comfy chair, and a stove.
  6. Bedchambers
  7. Walk-in Closet
  8. Treasure Room: linked to #7 by a secret door.

21 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 21—Gonk Tribe's Arena

Gonk Tribe's Arena
(Key word: big)

Located in an enormous knob of granite jutting up in the middle of the Sanktar Plains is the arean of the Gonk Ogre tribe.

Two massive stone slabs serve as doors. Inside a narrow (relatively) walkway rings a steep pit. The pit is littered with stones, tree branches, and bones.

The pit serves as a place to resolve challenges and duels, as well as a place of punishment. The tribe will also bring in warriors of other races for entertainment.

The knob is nearly fifty feet tall and the pit another twenty-five feet below the surface. The victors are aided from the pit by means of a rope ladder. The dead rot where they fall.

[Inktober 2016] Day 20—Quirinklauth's Lair

Quirinklauth's Lair
(Key word: squeeze)

The Drake, Quirinklauth, has amassed a tremendous hoard of treasure in his cliff-top lair. Quirinklauth enters through a small cave that leads to a hole in the top of a one thousand-foot-high subterranean dome.

Other creatures must enter through the winding, narrow passageway; the passage is so narrow, in fact—sometimes narrowing to only a few feet—that human-sized creatures can only proceed at a fraction of normal speed. The passage is also, on average, only three- to four feet tall.

The hoard in the domed cavern is dozens of feet deep, and includes weapons, armor, gems, and coins, as well as art objects. The items are both mundane and magical

[Inktober 2016] Day 19—The Airship 'Voidkeeper'

The Airship Voidkeeper
(Key word: flight

The brainchild of the mad Gnome mage, Seglik Glitterfoot, the Voidkeeper is a one-of-a-kind transport.

In addition to Captain (self-appointed) Seglik and his first mate, a female human ranger named Kaet, the Voidkeeper's crew consists of five other mages, a cleric, and crew—an assortment of rangers and fighters.

Suspended from a balloon of delver-skin containing harnessed arcane plasma, the airship has a mage-powered stern propeller for movement. The crew transports goods and people...but is not above a bit of piracy.

Two open decks—one on each side—are dubbed "Mage decks" and are enclosed only by a low railing. The Mage decks are used for the Voidkeeper's defense as well as offensive capabilities.

19 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 18—Brom's Hovel

Brom's Hovel
(Key word: escape)

Brom, a human druid, is well-known in the Sanktar Plains. A hermit, he keeps to himself and guards his privacy jealously Despite his powers, he prefers to flee fro confrontation if possible.
  • Escape #1: a secret door leads from behind his bed to a passage headed northwest, running west for a mile through the rock.
  • Escape #2: a passage leads from E1 to a rough-hewn spiral stairway leading to a hidden oasis on the top of the bluff, 500' above the Plains.
  • Escape #3: a trapdoor beneath the flagstone floor leads north to Brom's storage room. A narrow door and stairs makes for an excellent defensible position.
  • Escape #4: a passage from E3 and from the northeast wall of the hovel lead to a two-mile-long passage through the rock to the southeast.

18 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 17—Barrows of Idet-hur

The Barrows of Idet-hur
(Key word: battle)

A millennia ago, on the fields of Idet-hur, an epic battle took place between two Armies of the Elves. The followers of Queen Kaiannathas and those of King Nyounus met; shields and spears crashed together, swords and arrows flashed in the sunlight. Day after day, week after week, until all lay dead or mortally wounded. Time made barrows of the bodies; grass became their shrouds.

Sample treasure (in addition to coins and mundane items): 
  • +2 buckler (small)
  • +2 warhammer [sheds light]
  • boots of elvenkind
  • robe of bones
  • +1 amulet of natural armor
  • +1 steel shield, heavy
  • composite longbow (+3 STR), MW
  • pan pipes, MW
  • breastplate, MW
  • studded leather, MW
  • +1 longsword
  • circlet of blasting, minor
  • +1 shortspear
  • full plate, mithral

[Inktober 2016] Day 16—Outpost at Ketchum Falls

The Outpost at Ketchum Falls
(Key word: wet)

High above the Ketchum Forest is a meandering trail, which leads to a cave complex behind the grand Ketchum Falls.

The entry to these caves is blocked by a crude iron portcullis, raised by a winch. The portcullis was installed by a band of outlaws led by a half-orc named Joax. The band includes several humans, a half-elf, a dwarf, and a halfling, as well as Joax's Mate, Kedra.

The edge of the main cavern is perpetually wet, slick from the spray of the falls. One wrongly placed step could mean a quick and steep death.

No one knows who else has used the outpost, and for what purposes. Rumor has it, however, that it's haunted.

17 October 2016

Taking the Next Step

After my self-described flagstone disaster—seen here—I sought out the advice of +Dyson Logos  and +matt jackson  about their flagstones...or at least, their pens. Local office supply stores didn't carry any of their recommended styles, so I figured I'd have to shop online.

Then, when I dropped my wife off at school tonight, I thought I'd stop by the college bookstore and check out their pen selection.


I not only found the Pilot Razors that Matt recommended, they had a huge line of Microns. They also had a line of "Le Pen" micro fine pens. The drool started. Unfortunately, all I had on me at the time was a couple bucks, so I grabbed a Pilot and two REALLY small Le Pens. If I get these to work, I'll go back for a Micron or two; the college had them priced twice the amount of either of the other pens. (I want to make sure I can actually make the things do what I want to before paying Micron money. Or, local-college-Micron-money.)

Now...gonna go down some migraine meds and take these puppies out for a spin.

And try to figure out where to get the same level of talent as Dyson and Matt. I know the pens are only a tool.

Wish me luck.

15 October 2016

[The Stronghold 'Zine] Another Shipment Ready!

In case you had forgotten, payday has come around again.

And just in time! Another shipment has gone out, with another stack being prepped and readied for mailing.

Mailing to YOU. Yes, YOU. Right there. I'm talking to you. All you have to do is ask me.

As ever, you can see a preview of the contents here. You can still pick up copies of Issues #1 and #2 as well here. --OR-- click on the link below to go ahead and buy #3 and get your copy (or copies) in the mail ASAP.
When you do pick up a copy, please drop me a line, especially if you use anything from Issue #3—or any issue—in your game.


[Inktober 2016] Day 15—The Waystation

Gah. This post means I'm all caught up for the mid-point of Inktober.

This also represents my attempts at drawing flagstones a la +Dyson Logos-style. I don't think it worked. I think I'll need to bribe him or +matt jackson for some tips.

The Waystation
(Key word: relax)

Located on the edge of the brown sands of the Sanktar Plains, the Waystation is the last safe place of rest for many miles. Manned by a human ranger named Mal, strangers will find three cots and a couple of coal stoves for warmth. A few supplies are also available for a charge.

Under the flagstones, however, are accommodations for friends. Several more cots, a secured secret room for valuables; the cavern is heated by a magical rune, which also provides light to those rooming here.

The river feeding the Waystation's well also provides a means for secret shipments to the small pier as well as an escape route if needed.

[Inktober 2016] Day 14—Kyro Timesong's Forest Home

The Forest Home of Kyro Timesong
(Key word: tree)

The Elven princess Kyro Timesong established her own tree-home following an argument with her mother, the Queen.

Kyro took with her several of the royal servants, her personal guard, and even a few of the lesser nobles. Her little sister, Evthi, went with her in an effort to establish her own independence.

The many-layered system of platforms are joined by ladders, bridges, and stairways, weaving among the massive splayed limbs of the ancient ironoak tree. Kyro's guard are well-skilled with both the bow and the sword.

[Inktober 2016] Day 13—Shrine of Banael

Shrine of Banael, Undergod of Fear
(Key word: scared)

In the middle of the Sanktar Plains stands a tall, solitary knob of rock. As one enters the cavern and follows the steep, curving slope, the actual shrine is reached.

Legend says that Banael himself was last seen within this shrine and that it was his touch that released the flow of dark viscous ooze in the fountain.

The ooze and the altar radiate fear—crippling to most mortal creatures. Dread builds as a creature climbs the sloping passage. A hideous statue of Banael stands in the shrine.

13 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 12—The Worried Goat

The Worried Goat
(Key word: worried)

The Worried Goat is a tavern in Northeast Coldtreath. There is no inn; no rooms are available—this is an eating, drinking, and entertainment establishment only. Information, of course, costs extra.

A good-sized stage plays host to medium- to high-level entertainers of all types. Daan Steele tends bar and doles out information from behind a large ironwood bar that wraps around the kitchen.

Outside, a wooden outbuilding shelters the stairway into the small storage cellar.

11 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 11—Portal of Mystery

Portal of Mystery
(Key word: transport)

There are three entrances to the cave complex. Two come in from the South, from the mountainside. The West entrance joins to a secret door from the lean-to belonging to Rog, the crazy Hermit of the Hill.

The complex is guarded by two massive iron golems.

The portal itself is burined far into the complex, behind a well-hidden secret door that is securely locked and thrice-trapped.

No one knows where the portal leads. Occasionally a gold bar or a bag of silver ore will appear on the steps in front of the shimmering doorway. Not a single adventurer who has ventured through the portal has ever returned.

10 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 10—Joari's Step

Joari's Step
(Key word: jump)

Fifty years ago, Prince Tetaros fell in love with a peasant woman named Joari Pinlean. They carried on a romance in secret for over a year; when Tetaros told his parents, the King and Queen reacted predictably. They put their feet down. Hard. 

Unfortunately for the couple, their love was real. They ignored the Royal edict and married in secret. After two months, a royal heir was conceived. Despite their efforts, the King and Queen learned of the marriage.
Royal assassins were sent to resolve the issue. Tetaros helped Joari elude the assassins; she fled to a small mountain overlook, nearly 1100 feet above the royal preserves. The assassins raced after her; Tetaros followed after. He caught up with them in time to see her jump to her death rather than face the assassins. He pushed his way through the assassins and followed his true love over the edge.
Their ghosts still reenact the chase and the jump to this day.

[Inktober 2016] Day 9—The Bridge to Farth

The Bridge to Farth
(Key word: broken)

The mystical sky-island of Farth is the homeland of the Sky Elves. One majestic stone span anchors and connects Farth with the Swifthalm Mountains: the Bridge of Mists. A century ago, a massive army made up of ogres, orcs, and goblins—led by General Thawn Orcheart himself—laid siege to Farth, catapults launching massive stones into Farth. Many struck the Bridge of Mists, dislodging and pulverizing the 20-cubic-foot stones that make up the span, sending defenders and citizens plunging into the Mists, never to be seen again.

Eventually the siege failed and the army was driven off, but at a great cost. The Sky Elves no longer possess the arcane knowledge to successfully repair the bridge, at least sufficiently to make it safe. They evacuated Farth to found a new home in the Swifthalm Mountains, leaving behind priceless works of art and treasure—ready for the picking by anyone brave foolish enough to attempt to cross the broken span.

09 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 8—Birdmarch's Fall

Birdmarch's Fall
(Key word: rock)

No one is quite sure what it was—exactly—that the town of Birdmarch did to upset the giant. Perhaps it was nothing. Maybe it was indigestion. Or something worse.

Whatever it was, most of the small town escaped before the rock fell, dead center, on the town square. Most of the buildings, however, were not so lucky.

Five large pits are at the edge of town, five more some distance away—part of the giant's footprints deep set as he lifted the rock....

[Inktober 2016] Day 7—The Lost Caravel of One-Eyed Wilhelm

The Lost Caravel of One-Eyed Wilhelm
(Key word: lost)

The notorious One-Eyed Wilhelm established a hideout for his pirate crew inside a seaside cave. Several living quarters, a mess, and an animal pen comprise this vile settlement, nestled against a cliff.

The cave is deep, and just large enough to navigate the caravel.

One-Eyed Wilhelm and his crew returned to port, the ship heavily laden with treasure of all types, both mundane and magical. No sooner had they anchored, an earthquake struck. The quake brought down enough of the cliffside to completely seal this cavern. Fifty years have since passed; if anything yet moves on the boat or shore, it is undead.

[Inktober 2016] Day 6: Tomb of the Forest Kings

Another day, another headache, another day behind on posting. I've got the pain to subside enough to upload this one.

As you may know, I usually do black & white maps, with only a little bit of color for accents such as shadow or water. Also, the tradition is to show lower level walls with dashed lines. Because so much of this map is "under" the tree, the surface, and other details, I thought that dashed line walls would get confusing. Instead, I used colors to mean something on this map. The main trunk is colored brown, with the green hashing showing the foliage. the blue lines take the place of the dashed lines on the sub-surface walls.

I dunno...maybe it's too busy. Let me know what you think. I also probably would have outlined the leaf-line in green rather than black. I thought about that too late...

Tomb of the Forest Kings
(Key word: hidden)

The three great Elf-lords—Thoae, Wyn'Anor, and Sellinah were interred in an underground tomb after they fell at the Battle of Arveia. Their grateful people planted above the tomb's entrance a majestic Sehhalhel tree. Over the eons the entrance to the tomb was hidden by the growth of the massive iron-hard trunk.

The Elf-lords' sarcophagi and the treasures buried with them have long passed into legend and rumor, scarcely believed to exist. Forgotten completely are the four tomb guardians.: golems crafted from living Sehhalhal wood, who are eternally vigilant against intruders. Also forgotten are the myriad deadly traps within.

07 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 5—The Temple of the Weeping Goddess

I'm a little embarrassed and quite frustrated tonight.

It's amazing what impact a migraine can have on mapping and creativity. But my more-than-two-day-long migraine is starting to fade; this was a bad one, as I usually don't have significant visual impairment. It hit before I could post this map.

But now I can try and get caught up with Inktober. Bear with me for the next couple days?

The Temple of the Weeping Goddess
(Key word: sorrow)

A thousand years ago, Isaidai—the favored one of Loarier, the Goddess of Dreams—defended her temple against an attack by Scoak—the champion of Scir, the goblin war-god. Mortally wounded, Scoak threw his sword, skewering Isaidai, whose killing spell went awry, striking the enormous bust of her god and carving holes in the eyes of the statue. As both champions died, a trickle of water inexplicably began to flow from the statue's eyes, the water pooling around Isaidai. The water's flow steadily increased to a briskly moving fountain. The fountain has flowed steadily ever since, inexplicably, as no source has ever been found for the water..

Loarier's adherents have since modified the temple to channel the god's tears into a stream leading to a pool of holy water. Loarier has since become known as the "Goddess of Sorrows" or "The Weeping Goddess."

04 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 4—The Unlucky Stableboy

For today's inking, I turned to the recently released Stronghold 'Zine Issue #3 for inspiration. When crafting this issue, I was intrigued by one of the shops mentioned in the map section: a little roadside food stand called The Unlucky Stableboy. I envisioned this as a D&D-era food truck, essentially.

Unfortunately, space issues restricted how much I could delve into the shop and how detailed I could make the map. When I saw today's Inktober key word, I saw the chance to revisit The Unlucky Stableboy. Of course, such a small structure looks a little silly with all that white space around it, but there you have it.

 The Unlucky Stableboy Food Stand
(Key word: hungry)

The Unlucky Stableboy is a food stand owned by Horgan Skulison, a wretched-looking dwarf, with thin gray hair and one hazel eye. He wears dirty, ragged leather armor (pieces of which occasionally find their way into customers' food) and serves bad food, fast. Horgan may also know a few odd rumors, which may be of interest to some of his customers. (For sample rumors, see Issue #3 of The Stronghold 'Zine.)

A typical menu: 
  • Boiled shredded flounder stew  (7 cp)
  • Dog roast hash  (9 cp)
  • Hot pepper bread  (4 cp)
  • Rice bread and filleted bass  (12 cp)
  • Diced octopus  (9 cp)
  • Rat testicles on a stick  (5 cp)
  • Heavily watered-down ale is available at 2 cp per cup. (The ale is watered down with the wash water.)

The back of the booth is dominated by crates and a large keg of ale. A grill/oven and large stewpot takes up the east side of the space. A wash-vat is on the west. Stacks of bowls and cups litter the ground around the wash-vat. Stools sit outside the front counter.

03 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 3—The Warrens of Smux

Day Three of Inktober: a quick offering:

The "Warrens" of Smux, the Lonely Kobold
(Key word: collect)

   Smux, the one-armed Kobold, was exiled from his pack-clan for his deformity. He found this small cave "complex" and has claimed it as his own. He is a veritable pack rat.
   The entrance is flanked by large shrubs and a majestic oak. A small stream runs nearby, its source a waterfall.
   Inside, a natural chimney funnels the smoke from Smux's fire ring. A sloping ramp leads to the shelf where he has his nest. A small cache of his "treasures" is hidden under his soiled bedding.
Cache: silver spoons (2); silver fork (1); a marble statue missing an arm; 5 gp, 10 sp, 5 cp.

[The Stronghold 'Zine] Hey, Look! It's Payday!

If you happened to be away from the internet this weekend, you may have missed the launch announcement for Issue #3 of the Stronghold 'Zine.

Fortunately, it's the first of the month—it's payday! A copy of The Stronghold 'Zine will only take a few of your paycheck's entertainment dollars.

The first shipment of Issue #3 has already hit the post office; they are racing out to their new owners. Your copy could be in the next shipment. You can see a preview of the contents here. You can still pick up copies of Issues #1 and #2 as well here. --OR-- click on the link below to go ahead and buy #3 and get your copy (or copies) in the mail ASAP.

When you do pick up a copy, please drop me a line, especially if you use anything from Issue #3—or any issue—in your game.


02 October 2016

[Inktober 2016] Day 2—The Tower of Sorceror Mot

The Tower of Sorceror Mot
(Key word: noisy)
  • The Basement: Arcane sigils are inlaid into the floor.
  • Main Floor: Several bookshelves and a table ring the walls of this comfortable room. Two cushioned chairs sit in front of a large fireplace. Mot's bedchamber is on this floor.
  • Second Floor: Book- and scroll shelves around the room. Several chests and a stack of crates. This is Mot's spell-work room. A chair sits in front of a heat vent set into the chimney. When he is at work, a veritable cacophony echoes into the surrounding forest.
  • Top Floor: A stark room, reached by a rope ladder through a trap door. Two doors lead out onto the narrow walkway on the top of the second floor.
This is actually the first wizard's tower I've ever actually completed. I hate them. Loathe them. O.K., truth be told, I'm scared of them. Dwarves typically are not happy around magic, after all. As a result, I'm never quite sure what needs to be inside.

And it turns out that my logo is also difficult to draft while sitting on my bed.

[Inktober 2016] Day 1—Mad King's War Fortress

I've never taken part in Inktober, Drawlowe'en, or whatever we're all calling it this year. I don't consider myself an artist. My last art class in school was somewhere around 34 years ago, and involved shading three-dimensional geometric objects and bowls of fruit.

That's probably why my few hand-drawn animals and people look like cartoons.

+matt jackson  and +Dyson Logos  inspired me yesterday. If they could try to do it every day, maybe I could as well. And Matt made a good point: my maps are in ink. So, lying in bed last night, I grabbed my pens (and a nifty new notebook I've discovered) and quickly sketched this one out.
Inktober #1: The War Fortress of the Mad King Halgrim Stonetower
(Key word: fast)

1. Massive doors lead to the entry hall.
2. Central hallway.
3. Throne room.
4. Barracks / Dining hall  (s) kitchen w/ storeroom underneath
5. Dungeon: Portcullis at top and bottom of stairway.
6. Stone guardians.
7. Clerics' quarters.
8. Temple of the Dwarven War-god, Mordrim: huge anvil & forge.
9. (s) Minor treasure room; door locked and trapped.
10 Halgrim's bedchamber. (s) Halgrim's treasure room: door locked & trapped.

I almost numbered the rooms for the key, but I didn't know whether my red ink would bleed through the page. I also, intentionally, left the walls of the dungeon thinner to denote the lower level. I'm not sure whether I like the effect, or whether it works.

The other thing I learned? Background fill is tough to do in bed.

01 October 2016

[The Stronghold 'zine] Baby Turtles Pushed from the Nest

The first copies of The Stronghold Issue #3 are headed out into the wild this morning. Pushed from the nest and making that crawl toward the sea. (Hopefully they don't face the same kinds of predators on the way that baby sea turtles actually do. Sheesh. That analogy went dark quickly.) Even a few copies of Issues #1 and #2 are headed out. (Yes, they're still available.)

Thanks to all who have jumped in on the first day. It's truly appreciated. Many more will be going out the door this weekend, so grab 'em while they're hot!

**You can see a preview of the contents here. You can still pick up copies of Issues #1 and #2 as well here. --OR-- click on the link below to go ahead and buy #3.**


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