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.

19 December 2014

[From the Mailbag] MYTHOARD!

I just received the inaugural Mythoard package/bundle in the mail today. Great stuff. Really great stuff. Talk about an early Christmas; my wife suggested I leave it under the tree for a week.


The first thing I saw coming out of the envelope was a poster of two baby phoenixes, courtesy of Baby Bestiary.

Next out was a book: 10+ Treasures by David Guyll & Melissa Fisher, published by Awful Good Games. Designed for Dungeon World, at first glance, most--if not all--of these items are easily translated to any OSR or 3.x version of that one RPG. Not only does the book come with 30+ detailed treasure items, there's also a section that walks through item creation, and the theory behind it. Excellent stuff.

Then there was a postcard from the incomparable Jim Magnusson. This postcard features the Mushroom King. As one of Jim's Patreons, I already received a copy of this; however, one can never have too many--it just means another framed piece of art for my office. (Let my clients figure THAT out.)

Also included was a pack of Blue Dungeon Tiles by Red Kobold. I didn't have the chance to support these when they came up on Kickstarter, as I was low on funds. I wish I'd made the effort; these look GREAT. They're double-sided, usable with wet-erase, dry-erase, or permanent markers. 4x4 grids of corridors, rooms, and stairways. I'll definitely be saving up to grow my collection of these babies.

Last, but not least, Tim Shorts' Mythoard Exclusive labor of love: Stone Fields of Azoroth. Three separate books outline the environs: The village of Bad Water, the Last Temple of Praxus, and the Prison of Azoroth. Each one comes chock-full of NPCs, flavor, and maps. Everything you've come to expect from Tim, and more. You won't be disappointed. Well, I guess you will...unless you were one of the subscribers to Mythoard.

Then, down in the bottom corner of the envelope were three little beauties. A random d20 and two random d6. Ain't they purty? They wanted to get photographed just as soon as they came out of the wrapping. As you know, I can never have too many dice. These will cap off my 2014 fairly well.

Thanks to Jarrod Shaw as well as Kevin Chenevert and all the other contributors. My day has been made! If you haven't already checked out Mythoard, do it now. Sign up. Well, as long as you don't take MY bundle.

[Found Item Friday] El Diablo Cometh!

I dropped by my FLGS this morning, thinking as I got out of my car that I should leave my wallet under the seat. After all, I really couldn't afford much of anything. I mean, NOTHING at all.

I should have listened to my doubts.

Well, maybe; maybe not. I went in looking for a copy of the 2nd Edition AD&D title, The Complete Book of Dwarves. I was going through my shelves earlier this week and realized that my copy was missing. At least, I'm fairly sure I had a copy. The FLGS usually has an eclectic mix of out-of-print titles from earlier editions. They didn't have that title (although they did have The Complete Book of Psionics (which I'm not interested in) and The Complete Book of Fighters (which I already have)) but they did have a couple titles that piqued my interest. Titles that I got for around 60% of cover price (even the marked-down price was discounted for me).

First up was the Diablo II: Diablerie. One shelf down was the Diablo II: To Hell and Back. Both are 3.x supplements released by WotC, meant to build off of the popularity of the Diablo II video game. The first, the Diablerie is more of a brief "setting" book. Within its 96 pages you can find character classes for Diablo-specific classes, such as the Amazon, necromancer, and sorceress. There's some equipment lists and a bestiary. A blank character sheet template in the 3.x style. Even a sample adventure--five pages--that sets out a "How To" for the uninitiated (with differing levels of encounters: Basic Level, Nightmare Level, and Hell Level), explaining how to prepare an encounter for the Diablo-verse. Most of the book is geared this way: playing in the Diablo-verse.

The To Hell and Back volume is a detailed 192-page "module" set in the Diablo-verse. It contains a bigger bestiary, equipment lists, and magic items. I'm not sure that I'd ever use it as a stand-alone adventure path. I'll more likely cut it into pieces and use those pieces as drop-in encounters in our regular adventure. However, I can also imagine sitting the guys down one night and describing how they wake up next to a shimmering portal, a portal which disappears even as they awaken. They find themselves in a small hamlet, one terrorized by demonic creatures that have taken over a nearby church and accompanying catacombs. Heh. Just thinking about it makes it more intriguing.... Hmm....

They were previously-owned by the same person, as I found scribbled notes on steno-pad paper in several spots in both books. Also slipped inside To Hell and Back is a print-out of the web enhancement "The Secret Cow Level" that anyone familiar with Diablo will recognize. There's also a couple of old PC character sheets: Krump, the human barbarian (played by "Jake") and Isabell, the human Amazon (played by "Sally").

I'd be interested to know if anyone's played around with these books. If you have, drop me a line in the comments. Let me know your experiences, would you?

08 December 2014

Mini-Map Monday: The Citadel of Nor-Von

Just a little something I threw together last night as I was suffering from insomnia. The Citadel of Nor-Von. The corridors are somewhat larger and wider than what the normal Dwarven citadel would contain. The reason for this--indeed, the reason behind the citadel's existence--is that the hallways were originally the shafts and corridors tracing the mithral deposits. They were eventually shaped, dressed, and decorated as the citadel aged and became the formal home and hearth for the Dwarves of Nor-Von.

I'll leave it to you to stock and key; just a few pointers from my own thoughts.
  1. The large round oval is an open fighting arena/training area, ringed by a walkway.
  2. To the immediate left of the arena are two throne rooms. These rooms are connected by a secret corridor. The smaller, oval-shaped throne room is reserved for meeting foreigners; the larger throne room is the formal, ceremonial throne room.
  3. Three bridges cross the chasm that bisects the citadel. These bridges--and the open caverns to which they lead--are edged by a banister, otherwise open to the chasm.
  4. To the right of the chasm is a formal statuary. Each of the fifteen previous Masters of the Citadel are represented here by stone golems.
  5. The citadel is edged on the right side by an underground river.
  6. All of the arrows designate a descending corridor.
The medium is the back of a 3"x5" card, using a fine point Sharpie grip pen. This map is smaller than the ones I typically draw on 3"x5" cards, primarily because I chose not to use the gridded side, but the plain, white side instead. This, combined with the fine point pen, freed me to draw smaller rooms, corridors, and features than I would have with the 0.25" grid. I'm actually pleased with how this turned out. I'm providing links to both a gridded and a non-gridded version. Contrary to my usual, all of the lines were hand-drawn; the only GIMP work I've done are some slight touch-ups, contrast/brightness, and adding the grid. Also atypically, the grid I've used is scaled to the image rather than using a 1" grid, so it may not be overly useful as a battle mat.

Feel free to use my maps in your home games. You can rename it, modify it, stock it, or abuse it in any manner legal in your particular jurisdiction. If you do use it, all I ask is that you let me know and tell me about it afterwards.

05 December 2014

[Found Item Friday] Pristine PHB!

In my city, we have a used bookstore that has been in operation since 1929. It was housed in a GREAT location in downtown, three floors of new and used books, rare books, odd books. Especially great was the basement--meandering corridors, random rooms filled with ramshackle shelving, everything was just on the edge of controlled chaos. It was always great to go in, if even to browse. (It is said that one of the Magistrate Judges at the nearby Federal Courthouse made a visit there every lunchtime of every weekday of his tenure as judge until his death a few years back. I believe it, based on what I knew of the man.) Recently the third-generation owners made a controversial decision and moved the bookstore from its historic location to a nearby mall location.

My post is not about that bookstore.

Instead, it's about the location. A newer, Johnny-come-lately (relatively) bookstore seized on the opportunity and consolidated their three or four smaller stores and moved into the space. The shelving is all a bit newer and more modern, but their selection is just as eclectic as the "historic" bookstore. I hadn't had a chance to visit since the move; all that changed this morning.

About ten years ago, the original owners added a coffee shop to one side of the store front. I've never frequented the place, mostly because I don't drink coffee, but also because their baked goods were exorbitantly-priced, mediocre-quality items. But I had a meeting yesterday and they wanted to meet there to chat.

This was a mistake.

After the meeting, I wandered the aisles. Call it fate, call it karma...I wandered straight to the "game" section. Most of it was Call of Duty guides (and other various video games). But then...the infamous binding jumped off the shelf at me.

Now, you may ask yourself why I'm so excited by this, even though you should know I'm a big 3.x fan. I'd be a lot happier if it was a 3.5 PHB, but I'm still happy with this. Why?
  1. It's in pristine condition.
  2. It's for the use and education of my kids.
  3. It's "close enough" to 3.5 or Pathfinder. Especially for my kids.
  4. Did I mention it was in pristine condition? The binding is still tight and the Character Creator disk in the back? Still sealed in the plastic envelope. The Wizards of the Coast order form is also still folded inside the back cover.
  5. Oh, and it was only $6.00.
  6. Yes, I said $6.000
Yeah. I'm pretty pleased with myself. They also had a 3.0 DMG in the same condition; sadly, I only had so much cash with me yesterday. I figure the PHB will get more use anyway.

Also grabbed was this little beauty: "In the Belly of the Beast" by Mike Mearls. It was only $1.00 and in very good condition; the pull-out pages of NPCs, etc. was still intact, for example. I grabbed it for that fact alone. It's more of a political intrigue than my normal fare, but it still has some good fodder for combat and adventure too. It's got some good, dangerous NPCs with some good backstory; they'll take a little beefing-up, as the equipment lists are fairly generic. Maybe it'll be good for my players to do a little bit more role-playing; it requires the careful negotiation and manipulation of three rival factions who are all ready to fight. Hmm. I'll just have to find the right place to drop it into a campaign.

Unfortunately, the store is now on my radar. NOT good for my wallet.
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