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.

31 December 2011

Found Items: Last RPG Purchases for 2011

OK. The post title is a little misleading, as I plan on making several purchases from RPGNow later today. But I wanted to share with you my final FLGS RPG purchases for 2011.

First of all, my final die purchase of the year.
I wish I knew the manufacturer; this one was pulled from a bin of random crystal d20s. Marked down to 85¢ it grabbed my attention because, upon close examination, there was a hint of red at each of the corners of the die. It's not apparent in the photo, but oddly the photo shows sparkles which are not apparent to the naked eye. The other oddity on this die? I have been unable to roll over an 11 on it. The majority of the rolls are in single digits. I suppose this is the one that I have to use for players' Search/Perception rolls. [Cue evil laughter]

Now for the minis.
I happened upon these tucked away on a side counter in a bin marked "Toys: 50¢." In among several handfuls of random promotional lapel pins were some random plastic miniatures. They were quite unusual-looking and, at first, I didn't recognize them. But I thought: "Hey, 50¢ miniatures. How can I pass THAT up? I'll figure out what to do with them later!" I emptied the bin.

As I suspected, a quick search of the 'net told me these were Dreamblade minis. A slightly longer search suggests these are all from the base set. Anyhow, I picked up two of the minis on the left: something called a "dreamstuff entity." I thought they'd make great oozes, until I turned it around and saw the face peering out of the middle of the mass, like a melted juvenile Abzorbaloff. But now I have two of them. They only had one of the "runetagged brawler," but he'll make a good golem or construct.

Then there was this one: a "loyal scragglemaw" -- there were four of them. They are now mine. This one was a puzzler; I had absolutely NO idea what to do with them. Then, after I got home, I tossed the bag of minis on my desk and started surfing the OSR blogs and came across a reference to a monster I'd long wanted to investigate for my own campaign(s). Another search of the internet revealed that the critter had already been statted for 3.5 Edition. Lo and behold! I had the book! I pulled my copy of Dave Arneson's Blackmoor off the shelf. When I opened up to the critter in question, my jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out. I had just purchased the mini!

It's a thoul. Yes, the infamous thoul. The description was uncanny, but the picture was the kicker. Here's what the book says:
Thouls are a magically created crossbreed of hobgoblin, ghoul, and troll created more than a millennium ago by insane hobgoblin necromancers seeking the key to eternal life.
The thouls of today look much like their ancestors did: they have rope-like, stone-gray to jet-black hair, usually worn in long locks. Their skin is hairless and colored deep green or red, with yellow or white eyes that lack visible pupils. They stand over six feet high and weigh more than 180 pounds.*
Now: opinions anyone?

Now I just need to work on unbasing all these critters from the obnoxious Dreamblade bases and putting them on nice, standard bases. I also need to work on getting these critters into a game session.

All in all, a happy end to the year. Happy New Year, everyone!

*Legal stuff: the text and the picture are not my work and are reproduced from Dave Arenson's Blackmoor copyright 2004 by Zeitgeist Games. Use here are not intended to assume ownership of or otherwise violate the copyright owner's rights in any fashion or manner.

29 December 2011

Will o' Wisps and Basilisk Smoke

Yeah, yeah.... Put your bestiaries and rulebooks away. I know that basilisks don't smoke.

Except on those rare occasions where starving adventurerers throw their recent kill on the spit. Yeah. I went there. Merry Christmas.

Instead, the title means to me the etherealness of my goals and dreams for this last week of 2011. I left my office on the Friday prior to Christmas with great goals and ideas of what I was going to accomplished over my ten-day holiday vacation. There were some great gaming goals: posts, adventures, maps, and even some miniature painting.

Ask me which of those have actually been accomplished. Go ahead.


I sat down Christmas afternoon and *POOF* it was all gone. Motivation, ideas, germs, drive, etc. It was all gone. Much like basilisk smoke in the wind, completely irretrievable. I've tried for days to remember, and all my ideas are gone.

That's depressing enough to drive me into a mini-buying spree. For that, however, I need to wait for my next paycheck. So...strike two.

I guess I'll go through and update my 2011 totals and see if a good night's sleep does any good. As for all of my friends: may you have sufficient creativity and imagination to get you to the New Year.

Stay dicing, my friends.

**EDIT: Wow. Could I be any more depressing? I guess I could if I really tried, but it's not worth the effort. I found a couple minis pictures on my hard drive and realized that I was going to do a review of some Pathfinder minis. So, hopefully, that means my brain is back on board!

27 December 2011

Holiday Wishes

Just thought I'd take a chance to tell all my friends and readers out there:
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas or replacement-holiday of your choice.

Here's hoping that we all have a better 2012 than our individual and collective 2011. May we all be prosperous and find plenty of time and places to game.

In short, I'm wishing the entire gaming blogosphere a Happy Monty-Haulidays.

20 December 2011

[From the Mailbag] MINIS!

I received a small pile of miniatures in the mail today. This was after I stopped at the store and picked up a box of Pathfinder minis. So, I'm feeling the plastic love today.

Alright, that didn't sound exactly as I'd intended it to sound.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some general pics--they turned out kinda poorly, given my office photographic equipment--and some thoughts about the Pathfinder minis specifically. (This is my advance apology for the quality of the photos.) I'll deal with my mailbag first, then look at the Pathfinder minis in another post.

The "old" Wizards minis are getting harder and harder to find, at least at reasonable values. In this economy, it's difficult to justify to the wife spending $15.00 (or more) on a small piece of plastic, especially when that piece of plastic is smaller than a stick of gum...and your kids haven't eaten dinner yet. Fortunately, there are still some rare finds out there and I lucked into one of those finds to get me some random minis to fill some holes in my collection.

First, the Aspect of Bahamut. I think I've said before that the group has ventured into a dragon-heavy pseudo-Epic 3.X campaign. (I say "pseudo-Epic" because we've collectively agreed that the Epic Level Handbook was one of the most broken pieces of publishing trash to come out of the 3.X-Wizards era. We're all simply 26th level.) The DM allowed my Cleric to develop a "Summon Aspect of Bahamut" prayer to combat the dragons we'd be facing; once that was done, it was obvious that I needed a suitable miniature for the table. (The DM for this particular group is a stickler: if you want to summon a creature, you better have the miniature...although he kinda let up on that a little once he demanded a player produce a dolphin and a squid miniature the character wanted to summon and the player plopped one of each--in appropriate scale--down on the table in front of him.) I've seen/heard a lot of complaints about the paint job/scheme on this miniature so I was a little hesitant to order it. I must say, though, that the pictures don't do it justice. There is a lot more subtlety to the colors than you would expect. I would have liked to see a little more range with the colors, but all in all I'm quite pleased.

The kicker was hearing my older children say, "Oh no, Dad! Is that for our game?!? Auuugh!!!! My (fill-in-the-blank-player-class) is going to die!"


Next out of the box were the rats. Rats are somewhat difficult to find, for some reason. Maybe it's because all DMs use rats as typical low-level sword fodder. I know that's what I'm using these for; the first few levels of Dyson's Delve are filled with giant rats and that's what the family's going to spend Christmas Vacation doing. At any rate, here come the rats; I have to make do with what I can get, and what I got was:

  1. Dire Rats (4)
  2. Diseased Dire Rat (1)
  3. and
  4. Ravenous Dire Rat (1)
I already have six of the "Rat Swarm" counters that I can employ, so I should have my rat-needs covered.

(Again, that phrase sounded better in my head.)

Those needs should be especially well-covered, considering that the next thing out of the box were a blister pack of Reaper's plastic offerings: three giant rats from their Legendary Encounters pre-painted plastics line. Also included was one of the Reaper plastic ghosts. Because, hey, who doesn't need undead...especially with the Pathfinder Carrion Crown adventure path on my shelf? I'm slowly compiling a list of minis for use with that particular set of adventures; it's simultaneously easier and more difficult, seeing the wide range of minis needed, contrasted with the range of Horrorclix models that there are, contrasted yet again with the limited availability of said Horroclix models. [Sigh] (Which reminds me: I need to go searching for Horrorclix (or other) models that will suit a flesh golem and some werewolves. Werewolf minis are scarce and expensive. (Stupid question of the day: Do you think people like werewolves or something?) In fact I need two flesh golems, a pile of werewolves, and some items most likely found in a C'thulhu range. Ugh.)

Speaking of Dyson's Delve, another critter that I need for that dungeon-crawl was solved in today's package, at least partly. Dyson's first level also include several giant ferrets; this is something I didn't have in my collection, mostly because I'd never seen the use for them. Well, to be honest, I'd never actually SEEN a giant ferret miniature; but hey--then I got thinking, once I saw the need for the critter: "Hey, weasel? Ferret? What's the difference?" (Please, don't take that as an invitation for all you weasel- and ferret afficianados out there to point out the distinct differences between the two.) At any rate, I now had a need, I ordered them, and should have sufficient to torture my kids allow my kids to chase around the caverns.

Rumbling around the bottom of the box was a mini that I forgot I'd ordered: a Dragonborn Paladin Death Knight. I hadn't gone in search of one of these when it was originally released, specifically because it was evidence of one of the things I find wrong with Wizards of the Coast and their miniatures philosophy: namely, "let's make a figure that is a combination of classes and races so obscure and arcane that no one will ever want one, because this is of course what every miniature-hunter is looking for!" AND I KNOW YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I MEAN.... When I was looking for bargains, however, I saw this one for under $1 and I thought, well, I need a deathknight, I can use this as a stand-in and just ignore the dragon-skull on his shoulders. So I ordered one. And here he is.

It wasn't until I was cataloging all of these miniatures that I realized that I had apparently "pulled" one of these deathknights previously from a booster purchaed at the FLGS. So I already had one. Now I have two. If that isn't strong enough evidence about how insignificant this class/race combination creature IS, I don't know what would suffice. Yep. I now have two of something of which I never really even wanted ONE.

Well...that's the extent of my mailbag today. The shipping box is now empty, the minis are all catalogued and sorted into their different storage boxes. Coming up soon: my review of the Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes miniatures.

13 December 2011

[From the Mailbag] Dice

After my day yesterday coming to grips with my blogpression, and after a lot of encouragement and support from many of you, the entire day was eventually saved with a visit from the postman late yesterday afternoon.

After a long wait, my Dungeonmorph Dice finally arrived! And apparently I'm not the only one excited by these, as I've seen them all over the blogosphere this morning. Upon first inspection, the excitement is warranted and the wait was definitely worth it!

These dice were the project that introduced me to Kickstarter, an introduction that I am grateful for. (My wife and wallet? Not so much grateful, I'm afraid.) While they were originally conceived as OSR white-on-blue maps--a design later found to be too prohibitive for mass-production--the final black on white design looks terrific.

As you can see from the picture, I took the plunge and bought one of each set: The Explorer, The Adventurer, and The Spelunker. Of course, I now wish I'd purchased two of each set, but am grateful I at least have one of each. The range of random dungeon rooms that these dice make available is great: whether I use them to create a dungeon from scratch or just to add a bit of random personalization to an already-published dungeon, they're going to see a lot of use.

Joe has also produced a font based on these dungeonmorph designs as well as some cards; both tools are intended (and prove likely) to help use the dice to their fullest extent. He has also planned .pdf versions--battlemats--for use with miniatures and computer-aided games.

All it takes is a simple roll of the dice. They're oversized--I've been told that they are similar to casino dice, but having never been to a casino, I can't vouch for that. Rolling more than a couple at a time gets to be a handful, but that ain't much of a complaint; the size makes them more legible after all. One quick roll, though, and you have a dungeon area all ready to be stocked, beginning in the small temple complex, ranging through some meandering hallways and finally winding up in the caverns beneath the temple. All those delicious areas just waiting for terrifying creatures and diabolical traps. (My apologies for the quality of this picture; all I had was my cell phone and it decided to be a bit temperamental; this was the best of three attempts. My photograpic skills should not reflect on the actual quality of the project.)

Joe's to be commended. I look forward to his next Kickstarter project: Plastic 2D miniature card stand-ups. Visit him over at his website, Inkwell Ideas, for more information. He's also got some leftover Dungeonmorph Dice available for purchase, but my guess is: move fast on these dice or lose out. They're sure to go fast.

As an attorney, I feel obliged to add this legal stuff--the fine print, as it were: "The DungeonMorph designs may be republished by anyone (free of charge, even commercially) if 5 or fewer designs are republished in a given item or if the designs are less than 20% of the overall item containing the designs. In either case, you must also note 'DungeonMorph Design from http://www.dungeonmorphs.com' next to each map and copy this entire message somewhere in the item. An item refers to a website, magazine, book, etc."

12 December 2011


Whoa. It's been nearly two weeks since my last update.

A few years ago, a friend of mine coined a term on his blog: "Blogpression".

His idea was that there was something beyond writer's block and burnout. Something approaching depression, almost. Something which prevented the generation of even a slight "oomph" necessary to post a blog entry.

It's not writer's block and I don't believe it's post-NaNoWriMo burnout. It's not a lack of interest in the subject. I have plenty of ideas; at the least, I could talk aobut the various supplements and materials I've purchased online.

I have the most recent issue of Loviatar (which my wife finally relinquished following completion of a "honey-do" list last weekend). I have a stack of .pdfs to discuss, ranging from Knowledge Illuminates to Stonehell Dungeon. I have a pile of new miniatures to review, not to mention the Pathfinder Beginner's Box and X-Plorers. I even have a couple of new original maps.

But I just can't seem to sit down and write them out. I can't seem to find the time to process the maps, slap them through the GIMP, and put them out on this virtual tabletop of mine for review. I even owe a couple of you some hand-written correspondence and can't even find the time and energy for that.

Maybe it's the stress at the office. More and more is being piled on my shoulders lately, without the corresponding remuneration for my time and effort. Some personal issues have been increasing with their demands. Money worries and holiday stresses are certainly adding to it. The upcoming election (a year from now) has been taking its emotional toll; namely, I'm sick to death of it all.

Truth be told, looking at this list, it's nothing that hasn't happened before or that hasn't been experienced by most of you out there. It just seems to be piling up in extra-heavy proportions this year. All I ask is that you stick with me. I'll have some content to post up here pretty soon.

I promise.

30 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Update: It's Over

Well, I did it.

My final verified total tonight is 54,320 words. Most of it is crap, but it's words on paper that counts at the end of the day. I've proven that I can do it, that I can overcome sickness and adversity. I've found and drawn inspiration from some odd places to finish the "novel." It may not be good, but it's there and done, and mine.

More importantly, I can now return to my normal life--play with the kids, sit with my wife, all that jazz.

Not to sound overly dramatic, but as I walked in the door to the house tonight I honestly felt a little bit like Samwise returning home from his visit to the Grey Havens. I waslked in the house, drew a deep breath, and thought "I'm back."

I'm back, my friends. Thanks for all the kind words of support and good karma you sent my way.

Now.... Let's play

29 November 2011

Found Item: Lifebringer

I happened upon a new blog yesterday, Giblet Blizzard, hosted by Jez, a self-proclaimed illustrator, writer, and gamer from New Zealand. So far he's got some interesting content and I want to be one of the first to welcome him to the Gaming Blogosphere.

One post in particular grabbed my attention. In it he sets forth a premise, that being:
"Blood is life, life is sentience, thus blood is sentient. That which is imbued with blood, is alive."
He then goes on to set up some game rules by which blood splashed on an object in the course of a physical attack against a living being causes said object to become sentient. The idea intrigues me; Jez then proposes applying it to a setting, whether that be a castle, a city, a region, or a world.

I like the idea, but I'm not sure I want it to be an entire setting, even if only a castle or keep. Instead, I like the idea of it being imbued as a curse (or a boon, depending upon one's perspective) on an edged-weapon. Imagine the wielder's surprise as he stands over a fallen foe, when suddenly: the neighboring statue--now blood soaked--moves to attack him; the nearby urn (also blood soaked) speaks to him; and the now-gory carpet begins to sing bawdy ditties from beneath the corpse. The role-playing angles and opportunites are countless! And it's not just a one-time effect, either. Played well, the DM could keep the players' suspense and confusion going for quite a while. It's not going to happen all the time, after all.

On a side note, each time I've read and re-read Jez's proposal, I've taken it for granted that the blood-soaked object in question would be an inanimate one. However as I was writing this entry (and post-item creation below) it occurs to me that it could just as easily be an animate creature, but non-sentient, e.g., dog, cat, beetle, bird, etc.) I suppose a lot depends upon your idea of "sentience" and one of many different tests therefor. Take that idea for what it's worth.


Lifebringer, +2 Greatsword (with a hat-tip to Jez over at http://gibletblizzard.blogspot.com)

This greatsword is, for most wielders, simply a +3 greatsword. However, the sword carries with it a special ability; this ability is both a curse and a benefit, depending on the wielder’s perspective. The average wielder will notice that the blade is crafted so that there is a prodigious blood-spray created with even the merest successful strike of the blade.

When a killing blow is made with this weapon, the attack sends a splash of blood and gore in a 5'-radius area around the vanquished foe. Any inanimate object coated in this gory spray must then make a Fortitude save equal to or greater than the total damage done with the single killing attack. Should the object fail its save, the magic of the sword causes the object to become sentient and animate. The number rolled as its save is then assigned between the six base attributes and the newly-aware “creature” gains the dominant attitude of the vanquished foe, or “bloodgiver,” as a basis for its personality.

The newly-aware creature will gain the ability to communicate in (at least) those languages known by the vanquished foe. Should the newly-aware creature have a “natural” means of locomotion (e.g., a humanoid statue has legs and a bird statue has wings), the object gains a movement speed of 10. There is also a 50% chance that the newly-aware creature will animate sufficiently to attack Lifebringer’s wielder.

Legend holds that there exist other similar life-bringing edged weapons in the world; stories abound of a great-axe as well as a dagger. Any other such weapons appear, for now, lost to history.

**Image courtesy of http://www.freeclipartnow.com.

24 November 2011

Thanksgiving -- Enthusiast & NPC

I haven't seen very many people still refer to this table and/or system lately, but if I reviewed it today and realized I've actually passed a couple levels....

I am now an "Enthusiast."

I'll try not go let it go to my head.

Now, go about your day. Eat turkey and watch football. Have a happy one, and I'll see you on the other side.

That is all.

Joesky Tax:

Amanuensis 3 (Enthusiast)
HP: 7
Init: +0;
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 12 , touch 10, flat footed 12 (Leather)
Base Attack: +2
Grapple: +1
Attack: Mace, Heavy (+2) 1d8-1 Crit (20) x2 or Rock (+2) 0
Alignment: Neutral
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +3
Abilities: Str 9, Dex 10, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 11, Chr 11
Skills: Appraise 10, Bluff 10, Gather Information 5, Handle Animal 4, Know Geography 4, Knowledge (History) 4, Know Local (3), Listen 0, Profession: Scribe 6, Ride 0, Sense Motive 6, Sleight of Hand 5, Spot 6
Languages: Common
Feats: Light Armor Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Skill Focus (Appraise): +3; Skill Focus (Bluff) +3;
Weapon Focus (Mace, Heavy)

CR 2

  • Elixir of Vision
  • Potion of Rage
  • Universal Solvent

23 November 2011

Sci-Fi Inspirations


I’m one of those people whose writing is occasionally enhanced by the use of good mood music while writing. When I worked at the Court, my Judge could never figure out why I listened to the Braveheart soundtrack. For whatever reason, that album helped me with my legal research and writing. I find certain operatic and classical works help when I’m doing my letter writing, unless it’s an angry letter, and then I go to something like Evanescence for inspiration. Hymns or gospel music work well when the work is spiritually-centered. Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings works, or even Midnight Syndicate or Nox Arcana help in my fantasy- and RPG-writing work.

I find myself at a loss, however, in at least one area. Science Fiction. I tried my hand at some sci-fi writing a couple weeks ago and found myself needing the aural stimulation. There’s the obvious: John Williams’ Star Wars soundtracks. Unfortunately, I find the music from the latter three films to be distracting and the kids have done something with a stack of my CDs, which happen to include the soundtracks from the first three films (commonly known in the Stronghold as the “REAL Star Wars movies”). But this one is almost too obvious.

What I need is some suggestions for some sci-fi inspiring music out there; I need something that’s fairly readily available, i.e., not an obscure single-run album that was pressed in the late 1970s by an unpronounceable Eastern European techno-pop group, which album has never been re-released in any format and is available nowhere, including on the World Wide Web.

There simply must be something out there.

Browsing through pulp magazine covers and old novel covers helps a bit, but musical inspiration is exponentially more helpful in my writing process. Until I get some valid suggestions, or find some good musical cues somewhere, I fear I’m at an impasse with the current story. If the block lasts too long, I’ll have to close the file and throw it in a drawer for a while. I really don’t want to have to do that. So, please: comment away and gimme some suggestions. Oh, and thanks in advance.

22 November 2011

Map Monday: Caverns of Sceades

OK, I realize that it's no longer Monday, but I had some technical issues and wound up using all of my free time for the entire day yesterday just trying to get the map in a digital format.

But here it is: the first level of the treacherous Caverns of Sceades. Click here for .pdf.

Why are they treacherous? Well, that's completely up to your own devious DM mind. I'd like to see what kind of dungeon-stocking and keying you all can come up with. I'll try and post up my own in a week or so.

Just a couple notes as to the map:
  1. The "bullseye" in the upper left corner of the map? You see it? There in that tiny, almost-inaccessible corridor? That's a statue.
  2. Also, on this .jpg on the blog I've "shaded out" a portion of the lake. If you look at the .pdf, it's not shaded. This is for the DM reference only--it's an overhang that comes down nearly to the level of the water across half of the lake. The walkway only runs around the lake in a crescent and ends abruptly where the overhang sits. The slight 3'-4' slope up from the water proceeds under the overhang and grants a little bit of room between the water and the overhang itself. There is an outflow point in a cave running from under the overhang to the west.
  3. Down in the lower right corner is a set of steps leading down to the next level.
All the rest I'll leave to you.

As usual, the map is free to use. Just please shoot me a link and a note to let me see how and where you used it.

16 November 2011

What D&D Character Am I?

Courtesy of this site:

I Am A: Lawful Good Dwarven Cleric/Paladin (3rd/2nd Level)
Ability Scores:
Lawful Good

Interestingly, that is exactly what Boric is: A lawful good dwarven Cleric with a house-ruled flavor paladin. He's a bit higher level, though. Considerably higher.

Detailed results below, for those who are sick and twisted about such things care.

DIseased! Unclean! And a Spell!

I'm sorry, my friends, if I've missed anything important the last few days. I have not been at my computer since Friday afternoon.

You see, beginning at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I spent the rest of the day Saturday worshiping the porcelain gods. At one point I'm pretty sure I saw my shoes come out of my mouth.

You're welcome, by the way.

I felt human enough to take care of my Sunday church-going responsibilities, and then, Sunday night, I felt an unfortunately-familiar stabbing pain in my right eye when I looked at any light source. Over the course of an hour it grew steadily worse and confirmed my fears.


I don't know how or why, or what I've done to deserve this. No-one who hasn't suffered from pink-eye can truly understand the blinding pain. I'm only now able to ride the train into work and (sort-of) gaze at a dimmed computer screen in my dark office one-eyed from behind my prescription sunglasses. It's a nice look. Not to mention the gauze pad wedged between my eye and my glasses to catch the indiscriminate weeping from the pain.

And I'm only at the office today to meet with an angry client. Who, by the way, as I'm typing this called to reschedule until next week. Grr.

Oh, and I cannot BEGIN to describe what devestation this has wreaked on my NaNoWriMo goal for this month. I may need to throw in the towel and make December my NaNoWriMo month for this year.

Hopefully you'll forgive my absence. And for my Joesky tax:

Blinding Mist
Conjuration (Creation)

Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect: Cloud spreads in 20-ft. radius, 20-ft. high
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude half; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes

Blinding Mist creates a cloud of mist similart to that created by fog cloud, execept that the vapors are extremely irritating to the eyes of living creatures. Any living creatures in the cloud of mist becomes blinded and takes 1d4 points nonlethal damage each round. This condition and damage continues as long as the creature is in the cloud and for 1d4+1 rounds after it leaves. (Roll separately for each character.) Any creature that fails its save by more than 5 points suffers the blinded condition (as above) and is also stunned for the same duration. Any creature that succeeds on its save is merely dazzled and takes no damage; this condition also lasts as long as the creature is in the cloud and for 1d4+1 rounds after it leaves. A creature that successfully saves, but remains in the cloud must continue to save each round on its turn.

Any non-living creature or a creature without eyes is not affected by this spell. Any creature affected in any way by the cloud finds that the whites of their eyes turns red and remains red for 24 hours. This redness has a 50% chance of reducing the character's Charisma score by 1 for the duration; this effect may only be countered by any restoration spell.

Blinding mist can be made permanent with a permanency spell. A permanent blinding mist dispersed by wind reforms in 10 minutes.

Material Components:
A rose thorn and a drop of holy water.

09 November 2011

O, Canada!

This shout-out is going out to ALL of my readers, but specifically to two of my readers that live up in the Great White North.

I promise, that even though most of my knowledge of Canada comes from the McKenzie Brothers, I will refrain from any direct references thereto. Conscious references, that is.

Anyhow, I notice from my stats that I have a couple of frequent visitors from Canada. One from Vancouver, the other from Toronto. As repeat visitors I'd love to connect and know a little bit about you.

This actually goes out to ALL my readers. I like to know who's out there and who's looking at my stuff. Please, feel free to drop a comment or an e-mail and let me know who you are. It makes the blogosphere feel a bit more personal if I can attach a name to a reader. It makes me feel like I've got an extended circle of friends out there who share a love of a hobby/game.

You don't have to "Follow" me or boost my numbers in any way; that's not what I'm asking. Just drop me a line and introduce yourself. That's all.

04 November 2011

Found Items Friday: The Grimblade

So last night I was able to steal away for an hour and watch the series premiere of NBC’s Grimm. And yes, this was time when I should have been pounding away at my NaNoWriMo word count. Don't talk to me about that.

I haven’t been able to watch Once Upon A Time yet (broadcast TV’s other genre offering this season) so I cannot compare the two. Grimm, however, was a lot of fun. I gather it won’t be your typical police procedural, full of hard clues and evidence, but still a good romp nonetheless. Hopefully a little bit more of the detective's skills will come into play in future episodes, because I would hate to see him have to rely on what I feel was essentially a deus ex machina solution. That was my first real complaint. Also, the reveal at the end makes it feel a bit too much like last season’s No Ordinary Family from ABC. I stopped watching that one about three episodes in once it was clear that the boss was the villain and he knew who the heroes were and blah blah blah blah blah. I hope that Grimm takes a different direction because I think there’s real potential there. I won't talk about the characterizations because, let's face it, NO series ever gets the characters perfect in the first season; it also takes that first season to get writing style, acting style, etc. down pat as well.

01 November 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: First Chapter Done!

OK, maybe that title is a bit...misleading...?

But I have my first chapter done. Or maybe it will just be a prologue. Tell me what you think:

It was what his father would have wanted.

Rest in peace, Dad.

He pulled the trigger.
I still have no idea where I'm going with this, who's father is being discussed, or any character ideas. I still don't even have a genre. But at least I have WOP: Words On Paper.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride....

31 October 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011: Insanity Begins!

It is that time of year...the time when the smell of pencil shavings starts my blood to boil, when the feel of fountain pen ink between my fingers causes shivers down my spine, and when the mere thought of turkey makes me queasy because I know that time is short.

It's time for NaNoWriMo!


The big problem is that I'm starting to dread November. I've been "NaNo-ing" for six years (this will be #7) and I've "won" all of the last three. I have no idea what I'm going to do this year: no genre ideas, no character ideas, no plots.

Avengers Assemble! Hallowe'en Edition

No great content today--too much to do on my last day to prepare for a month of seclusion. (NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow, after all.)

Snapshot_20111031_5But to make sure my geek cred lasts the month, I give you my cheap and easy budget Hallowe'en costume this year. Yes, the firm actually told us to go ahead and dress up. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the mood for Robin Hood or a pirate this year. This was the best I could muster. And yes, I've already been asked twice: "What are you supposed to be?"

To which I respond with a look of scorn and answer with derision, "Only the symbol of American Freedom: Captain America!"

Sadly, actually, that's where most of the scorn and derision comes in...and it's focused towards me.

Happy Hallowe'en, all!

28 October 2011

Literary References -- OSR Challenge, Sept. 2011

Now that the dust from the September OSR Challenge has settled, I'm sure there are a few out there who have wondered about the source of some of my OSR Challenge post titles. As an English major, book-worshipping, pun-lover my inspirations are varied. Some of the posts' titles are obvious, but some may be a bit more obscure. I apologize in advance: I realize that this post is a bit of ego-stroking, a "Look at how clever I am" kind of post. However, a friend suggested that maybe I should share the origin of some of these titles, in part so that I can share that "Aha" moment with you, as well as to give you a bit of a laugh (not to mention a peek into my crazed psyche. She claimed that knowing the source added to the humor and depth of the individual posts. So, if I miss one that you want explained, let me know.... Otherwise, look below the fold.

26 October 2011


It came! It came! It came! Itcameitcameitcameitcameitcame!!!

I've been wanting to pick up an issue of Loviatar for a couple months but only now was financially-able to take the plunge. Yeah, I know, $3 isn't much, but there you have it. The descriptions of the first three issues have intruiged me and issue number four certainly did not let me down.

Well, it did, but only a slight little hiccup. More below.

What is Loviatar? It's a great little digest-sized hardcopy magazine in Old School fashion. Don't take my word for it; head on over to the website and check it out for yourself. Christian did a nice job with this and was very accomodating with my shipment request. He was also quite kind when I started crying about losing some content...but again, more on that below.

The picture really doesn't do it justice; the cover is a great, striking yellow (perhaps canary?) but unfortunately the color scanner is down at the office and this is the best I could do. I hope you'll forgive me, Christian.

24 October 2011

The Master Thief

After posting pictures of my namesake's miniature representations, I felt that I had to post up images of his closest ally, the Master Thief: Simon.

Simon and Boric have been through Hell and back with each other--side by side and back to back. Because of their joint heroics, Boric has been named Elf-Friend and Simon has been named Dwarf-friend. They've travelled through 2nd. Edition AD&D, Third Edition, 3.5E and now "epic" 3.5E.

Like last week, I will not bore you with tales of the characters' in-game deeds. There are other times and places for that.

21 October 2011

Found Items Friday: Personal Library Additions

Stopped by the used book store this morning on a hunch.

It paid off.

19 October 2011

Post 100: The Namesake

It's taken 1 year, 6 months, and 11 days to reach, but today I can celebrate 100 posts at the Dwarven Stronghold!

I could have made it an even 1 year, 6 months if I hadn't suffered a couple bouts of the gomboo and some work-related issues, but that's beside the point. The point is we've reached 100 posts!

To commemorate this day, I've decided to dig into my miniatures and give a sneak peek at my namesake, Boric.

I won't waste time spinning tales about my character--I know that becomes all too dreary to outsiders. Suffice it to say that I had a DM who wanted to get a gaming group together years post-high school. I had been out of the gaming scene for roughly fifteen years and was eager to jump back in. I knew him through our wives; I wasn't a high school buddy.... He'd already gotten commitments from all his high school group and a co-worker and the group needed one more: the cleric. This was where Boric was born.
2nd Edition Boric -- Front2nd Edition Boric -- Back
Yeah, I was shoe-horned into filling a party need. But I made the best of it and rolled up a dwarf. For one thing, I hadn't played in a LONG time, and certainly had never played 2nd Edition AD&D; I was a NOOB for all intents and purposes. The DM was willing to work with me, though. He and I had a killer backstory woven into the entire campaign. Yeah, it was full of the usual tropes: exiled royalty, stronghold-stolen-by-dragon, magic weapons, etc. You know the type.

But it was fun. This was in early 2000 and we jumped into 2nd Edition AD&D with both feet. Splat books and Player Options everywhere; the DM didn't care so long as everyone had fun. He ran a wicked-cool game. I became the "prop-master" for the campaign and painted nearly all of the miniatures used in the game. All was well with the world.

And then, shortly after we started the campaign, Wizards of the Coast came rudely into our lives. Third Edition was announced. We researched it, the DM and I (mostly through Dragon Magazine) and decided we didn't need it at this time.

We resisted "The Change" for about two years. Finally we started seeing some things we liked and picking up books. Slowly but surely we started figuring out ways of converting the still-ongoing campaign (we were playing, on average, twice per month so game-time hadn't been all that long). We took the plunge, bought the books, and started the conversion. There were some things that had to be changed on all of our characters. Some ret-conning took place; there was a bit of the same thing that the world of the Forgotten Realms would suffer in a few years with the Spell Plague and 4E. It was a convenient time in the campaign because our mage had just taken some steps that led to a royally pissed-off Mystra in our non-canon Realms. The result of those acts changed the landscape enough that Third Edition was possible.
3E Boric -- Front3E Boric -- Back

Hey, let's be honest: it also gave me a chance to paint another miniature.

The change-over, as you could probably predict, was not that smooth or easy. The first problem came when we realized that we were running technically epic characters and that had its whole separate set of rules. The second problem came when we thought we could just use the Epic Level Handbook and call it good.

Stop laughing.

You see, to those who may not know, the Epic Level Handbook is widely considered to be the worst and most broken rulebook Wizards of the Coast ever produced. Those who don't consider it #1 surely have it in their top 5, possibly top 3. I consider it the worst, so I can't even offer 2 or 3 others that may be worse.

Our third problem? We had not waited quite long enough to make the switchover: here came 3.5E. And a whole new round of book-buying occurred. Once again we were retro-fitting characters and rules that simply were no longer possible under the existing ruleset. Yeah, we had that mindset, to my hindsight-induced dismay. We limped into a good place to end the campaign--or at least suspend it. Playing these characters, at the end, just wasn't fun any longer. Everyone agreed.

We rolled up new Third Edition--OK, 3.5E--characters. Life went on. Fast forward five years. Same group, but the old DM's departure from the group necessitated a new DM, and a new campaign. He needed some high-powered NPCs to help out as a shadow organization. He called me up and queried about the possibility of using my dwarf and his elf from the old campaign as these high-powered NPCs. We quickly statted up 23rd level characters, agreeing NOT to use the Epic Level Handbook this time. Problem was, we needed new miniatures for both of us.3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Face3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Side B3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Back3.5E Boric (NPC) -- Side A

Both Boric and the new DM's elf got a makeover (I'll post pics of the elf sometime soon). We added on to the backstories of our old characters, and by now were well-enough versed in Third/3.5 Edition that we made better choices with the characters. They made some great cameo appearances in the then-current campaign. In fact, it may have been the best use of DM NPCs I've ever seen: they were used for information sources and interaction. Nothing more. They weren't called upon to slay the mighty dragon while the PCs watched. They also didn't give away the answers sought--we had to work at it. Masterfully done, I still say to this day.

Now we're in 2011. The old DM came back. He had an idea to pick up threads of the original campaign, again epic level without the use of the "Epic" rules. The idea was to run a quick campaign to wrap up the original campaign once and for all. (The BBEG got away all those years ago, after all.)

This, of course, meant we had to update the miniatures. OK, we didn't need to, but I wanted to take another stab at Boric. This was the result.
I hadn't painted in about a year and I was a bit rusty. But I'd had this miniature sitting around for a while and he seemed to fit the new attitude. I now had a chance to use it. I also had a chance to play around with the figure itself and went out on a kit-bashing limb: I added magnets. I'd wanted to try it out for years since reading about it in White Dwarf in the early 2000s. I'd just never had a miniature that called for it. Now I did. Both his pack and his shield are, as shown below, removable.
I'm pleased with how it turned out. Both paint-wise and magnet-wise. [Although looking at these pictures tells me that I forgot to seal the figure. D'oh.]

The new DM allowed us to once again retro-fit all our old, original characters. I had several years' more experience with the rule system and started from scratch; I used none of the previous "updated" characters' information, except maybe the backstory.

Although there were some things that still could not be duplicated in 3.5, I'm fairly happy with the new incarnation. There is enough out there between WotC and third-party publishers that we got dang close.

How close, you ask? Close enough that he was able to stand toe-to-toe with a gargantuan black dragon and win (although the fact that my miniature was not, at the time, wearing his pack almost caused his demise).

How close? Frankly, he's close enough to make playing him fun once again. He's about as close as possible to the High Old one of Moradin, the Sonnlinor of old, that could call down the fires of heaven upon his foes, the dwarf that I first came to know and love. My namesake.

Happy 100th, my friends.

10 October 2011

New Stonework

A chance look at my blog stats today show that I'm fast approaching the 100-post milestone.

As a result, I've decided to update the look of the blog a bit. A little bit of patchwork, a little expansion on the towers, and a little bit of colored mortar thrown in.

I think it looks a bit nicer; at least it's different. Please look around and give me your feedback and opinions.

After all, one person's gemstone is another person's costume jewelry.

07 October 2011

Found Items Friday: Paradise Cubed

Yep. More dice. I have a problem and just can't stop. But I figure that there are MUCH worse things to be addicted to, right?

So, for those that are interested in dice pron, these are my latest additions to the dice bag.

Another trip to the local education supply store yielded my first wooden d6s, as well as my first d24. I also grabbed another die-in-die d100 for my office drawer. After all, it's a lot easier to roll one die in the back of the hearing room than two dice; sometimes you just HAVE to roll on a d100 table while in court.

And yes, I've already used it. This was the die that produced my 25 26 rooms for my Short Adventures for September's OSR Challenge. I rolled on Lord Gwydion's random room table while sitting in court and waiting for my clients' cases to be called.

Also included here is a nice purple d20 from a d20 grab-jar at my FLGS. As I've said before, you can never have too many d20s. I didn't have a purple one and this one sort of spoke to me.

Yeah...I'm hearing the voices again. But that's beside the point. We're talking about the dice right now.

Finally, another new set of 7: I guess you would classify these as mini dice. I have my nano and micro sets.... These are more on the order of mini: a set of 12mm Koplow polyhedrals. These are for my DM travel box. (More on this box next week.)

I'm still looking for the maker/set name for the white speckled set from my last dice post. Any help is still appreciated.

06 October 2011

Recap: OSR Challenge September 2011

This post has taken me nearly a week to finish, thanks to illness and being smashed by work at the office.

But wow.

I can breathe again.

Looking back at September, it was a wild month. I dealt with a lot of personal stuff, not the least of which was writer's block, and yet I still managed my goal of 26 short adventures.

Before I go any further, I would be remiss if I didn't (1) thank /Matt at Asshat Paladins for the original idea and (2) congratulate all those who made it through September alive.

A few thoughts below....

30 September 2011


[OSR Challenge] Gesundheit

Gesundheit: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure. [With apologies to Asshat Paladin; I should have waited to read his latest adventure. It got stuck in my head and all I could think about was summoning.]

Get Ready:
  • The adventurers stumble upon a dark ritual being performed deep in a friendly stronghold. They have no time to summon help; they must deal with this on their own, or die trying.

[OSR Challenge] A New Skeleton For The Closet

A New Skeleton For The Closet: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • The adventurers find a secret door hidden inside a closet in the Hold Lord’s bedchamber. Opening the secret door brings the party more than it bargained.

[OSR Challenge] Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Potential Copyright Violation

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Potential Copyright Violation: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • The adventurers, seeking to relieve the stronghold of a priceless piece of art, break into the Hold Lord’s private study. Inside they find something quite unexpected.

29 September 2011

[OSR Challenge] Midnight In The Garden Of Neutral And Chaotic Evil

Midnight In The Garden Of Neutral And Chaotic Evil: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • Rumors of fantastic treasure draw the adventurers to a dwarven druid’s small keep; even better: the druid has not been seen for weeks. Now is their chance.

[OSR Challenge] Keep A-Knockin’ But You Can’t Come In

Keep A-Knockin’ But You Can’t Come In: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure. (This short adventure is designed to follow the short adventure entitled “Knock, Knock ... The Sky Is Falling” and assumes the adventurers move forward with their exploration of the stronghold.)

Get Ready:
  • The young adventurers have been bloodied, but their resolve remains. The smell of treasure promise of exploration drives them forward.

[OSR Challenge] Knock, Knock...The Sky Is Falling

Knock, Knock...The Sky Is Falling: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • Sometimes just getting in is the hardest part for a group of young adventurers. And sometimes a stalactite is just a stalactite...except when it's not.

[OSR Challenge] Dank As A Ditch

Dank As A Ditch: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure. (With apologies to Theodore Roethke and his ‘Root Cellar.’)

Get Ready:
  • Something is wrong in the stronghold’s storage room; dwarves go to the cellar and do not come out. The adventurers boldly volunteer to root out whatever is down there...for a price, of course.

[OSR Challenge] Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled Water: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • Fleeing from a powerful dwarven sorceress, the adventurers cross the breezeway joining the two halves of the sorceress’ stronghold over a deep chasm. They do not count upon her skills with elemental creatures, however.

28 September 2011

[OSR Challenge] Walk Into My Parlor

Walk Into My Parlor: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • The marauding goblins are gone and the forest outside is quiet. The quiet does not mean safety, for another danger has been living in a lonely tower with a chimney to the outside.

[OSR Challenge] Please Pass The AACKKK

Please Pass The AACKKK: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • Some people never learn the truth of the adage, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Intrigued by wisps of smoke found randomly throughout the stronghold, the adventurers seek out the source.

[OSR Challenge] 99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall

99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • The adventurers enter a room to find large casks and enormous metallic urns and tubs, all connected with various kinds of metallic pipes. It’s time for some refreshment!

[OSR Challenge] Mount The Terrace...And Hearken What The Frightful Sounds Convey

Mount The Terrace...And Hearken What The Frightful Sounds Convey: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • Hearing rumors of a great treasure, the adventurers travel to the Garduum Hold. What they find is a terrace over a beautiful garden, an odd riddle, and a dangerous secret.

27 September 2011

[OSR Challenge] Be Our Guest ... Feed Our Chest

Be Our Guest...Feed Our Chest: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • An enemy Hold Lord invites the adventurers to parley under a flag of truce. The adventurers are invited to stay overnight, not knowing that they are intended to be the meal of honor.

[OSR Challenge] There's A Bugbear In My Kitchenette!

There’s A Bugbear In My Kitchenette!: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure. (With apologies and a hat tip to Jeffrey over at There’s A Bugbear In My Kitchen!
Get Ready:
  • While the adventurers are resting from the road in a friendly stronghold, a horde of bugbears attack. The Hold Lord, his retinue, and the adventurers are forced to fall back and set up defense in the King’s private sub-kitchen.

26 September 2011

[OSR Challenge] To Dim The Glowing Battle-Forge Once More

To Dim The Glowing Battle-Forge Once More: A Get Ready, Get Set, Go! 3.5 Edition adventure set in a Dwarven Stronghold, but easily dropped into any stronghold or similar structure.

Get Ready:
  • The adventurers stumble upon what appears, at first glance, to be a standard stronghold workroom, complete with forge. Instead they find a forgotten High Temple of Moradin.
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