Friday, May 31, 2013

Digging up some Bones!

Look upon my recently arrived Bones! Feel the jealousy course through you...

Until you realize there are only 6, and not 240+.

It is inevitable that in a box of around 200 unique minis (there are multiples of some) there will be a few that just don't do it for you. In such cases, people are sometimes willing to part with them. In some amazing cases they don't even ask for anything in return.

Lucky for me, this was one such occasion.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Post Balticon: Short Films Review

As part of the Balticon experience, there is a short film festival on Sunday night. There were some really good films this year too. If I embedded it, it's absolutely worth watching! Below are links to the films and my ratings of each on a 1-5 scale:

The Reward - 5

Abiogenesis - 3 (link is to trailer only)

The Milk Run - 4
I really liked the end on this one.

The Saga of Biorn - 5
Watch this one now!

Netty Carlise and Iron Hands - 4
This one has an interesting D&D idea - a map in someone's hair!

Rollin Safari - 3.5
No real plot, but very cute.

C (299,792 km/second) - 3
Interesting premis, but desperately in need of some editing.

Luminaris - 4
Who'd have thought lightbulbs could be so interesting?

Ella - 3.5
I liked this, but it's completely missing a sci-fi/fantasy element, so I'm not sure why it was shown at Balticon.

Defining Fey - 4.5
This was fascinating, sadly this only links to the FB page for the movie.

The Titans of Newark - 5
The Greek gods meddle in the affairs of a Jersey accountant, featuring the minotaur and Calypso!

Culling - 3.5
The link only goes to a couple of pictures, not the video. In an irradiated, subterranean future world, a teenage boy finds himself having to re-evaluate his family values.

Behind - 4
Can't find a link, but this was a cute video of a little girl and her backpack

The Gate - 3
Great special effects, needed some editing

Catzilla - 3
Just what it sounds like.

Far- 4.5
I really liked this one, but this is only a link to the trailer. It's a live action short, about a very special date.

Dolls Factory - 3.5
I'd have rated this higher, but like several of the other shown, I think it needed a bit more editing.

Caldera - 2.5
Very pretty, but... I'm not really clear on what's going on.

Sleepworking - 2.5
Trailer only. Of all the movies shown this one was so very clearly student's work. It's got a very interesting premiss, but it needs some cleaning up.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pre-Balticon 47

Tonight is the first night of Balticon, and I’m stoked! While it isn’t a gaming convention, it is a con that focuses on science fiction and fantasy literature. Reading, Writing, and Editing. The topics range from the hard science of dinosaurs and the newest info on exoplanets to which Enterprise is the best (1701-D, FYI) with tons in between. Beyond words, there’s also a strong costume and art component to the con, as well as a short film festival on Sunday night. All of these provide plenty of fodder for gaming inspiration, and blog posts!

As usual there is a lot of programing I’m looking forward to. This year Rich Sternbach, who did a lot of the art design work for Star Trek (TMP, TNG, DS9, VOY, and Nemesis), is the artist Guest of Honor, which is majorly cool. Dr. Holtz’s Dinosaur Update is always worth sitting in on, and is usually standing room only. I’m also looking forward to catching up with T.C. McCarthy, last year’s Compton Crook award winner about his Subterrene War series.

There is also an opening on Saturday early afternoon that I’m thinking about spending in the game room. I usually only get to catch a quick game or two during the con, so this’ll be something of a luxury. If there isn’t anything else going on, I may even run a game in Stonehell.

I’m not really looking for anything in the dealers room this year, as I still have a pile of Birthright stuff that I bought 2 years ago and still haven’t opened, plus I just won copies of the Razor Coast Players Guide (100 pages) and Main Campaign books (over 400 pages) (Thanks Erik Tenkar, Johua De Santo, and Frog God Games). Not to mention a pile of regular books that’ll take me years to get through.

If you follow me on G+ I’ll do my best to post updates throughout the weekend, including pictures if I can get the connection.

If you're going to be there, drop me a comment, and we can meet up!

Also, for those aspiring writers out there, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (the group that hosts Balticon) is holding an amateur writing contest where you can win up to $250 for a 1,000-5,500 word entry.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Magic Item: Armadillo Throne

"Bring them forward" The queen ordered. Her fancy orange coat draped artistically over the ridged arms of the throne, and her black nails tapped impatiently.

The all female guard snapped to attention as the companions stepped forward, and bowed before the throne. "Majesty, we-" Rathgar began.

"Quiet" the queen huffed, slapping her hand upon the throne, and her back stiffening. "You shall remain silent, man-thing"

Nimble and Feris exchanged quick glances, as Allianora stepped between the queen and Rathgar. "A thousand apologies, your highness." She glanced back at Rathgar with arched eyebrows. "He often speaks out of turn."

Nimble silently reached forward, placing his hand on Rathgar's shoulder.

"I thank you for this audience, and beg the queen's indulgence. It is said that within your vaults there is a musical sphere which is capable of driving the sanity from any who hears it."

"This is true. It is one of my greatest treasures." The queens lips twitched into what might have been a smile.

"We-I would like to use this mighty weapon, in your name, to aid in the destruction of the warlock that created your evil clone. His transgression can not stand while your radiant example brightens the very lives of all of those below you who can't help but love you." Allianora carefully rubbed the gold and platinum ring.

Armadillo Throne

The magic of the Armadillo Throne is legendary. Anyone sitting upon the throne will automatically receive a +1 reaction bonus. A Corgi character will receive double the bonus, and be able to cast Charm Person 3/day. However, they are also more likely to fall under the sway of charm effects themselves as they bask in the adoration of those who look upon them (-2 to all save against charm related effects).

Today is Lucy's birthday, and this post is in honor of the Ikea Poang chair she sleeps on every night with her 3 stuffed armadillos (and other assorted toys).The picture above is how Lucy thinks of the chair. This is what it looks like in reality.

Image Source: Giant Armadillo Crew by MikhailD

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Pirate's Life For Me!

Tenkar had a contest to give away a free copy of the S&W version of the Razor Coast and all you had to do was come up with a pirate ship and it's captain, and post it on his blog.

I did a little more than that, and it payed off, since I won! I'm pretty sure it's only because I wrote (and then recorded) a shanty. For those who missed it, my entry is below. I'd also suggest you check out the other entries on Tenkar's post.

Along the shipwrecked shores of the Razor Coast
Sails the Bloody Haar and her dread captain
Under red-dark skies and Pele’s eyes
Sails the Bloody Haar and her dread captain

For he’s faced the worst the waves can bring
Wreck and ruin and hurricane
Pitch black flag and scarlet sails
Sink their hearts and lips a’ wail

With orkish blood and a pirates ire
Sails the Bloody Haar and her dread captain
Cults and Curse of ancient times
Sails the Bloody Haar and her dread captain

He’ll take your silver, gold, n’ magic things
If you get in his way, you’ll be a blood stain
from the isle of Haht to the great Port Shaw
Ruthless Jack’s will plunder them all

Rum and gold and a wind steady
Sails the Bloody Haar and her dread captain
Treasure or tempest upon the sea
Sails the Bloody Haar and her dread captain

Listen to the shanty here... if you dare!

The Bloody Haar is a two masted schooner, with a red stripe running the length of her black hull. Her sails are a sun and salt faded scarlet, and she flies a pitch black pennant. While a relatively small ship, she’s one of the nimblest and fastest that prowls the Razor Coast.

The Bloody Haar’s crew consists of the following:
SkarJak “Ruthless Jack” Urzok (Captain, Black Orc male fighter)
Lady d’Rath (1st Officer, blond human female fighter)
Masked Mage (quartermaster, ??)
Reed & Finnan (riggers and knifers, halfling brothers)
4-8 other pirates (Crew, varies - orcs and humans)

Prior to a raid, the Masked Mage will wreath the area in fog, allowing the Blood Haar to close upon her prey unseen. The rest of the crew will then board their target, eliminating any resistance with extreme prejudice, but not needlessly slaughtering anyone who doesn't get in their way. Their goal is always the loot.

“Ruthless Jack” is a large, broad shouldered bald orc with sun darkened olive green skin and a wiry black beard. He is covered with bright tattoos across his chest and down his arms, and fights with a magical harpoon in one hand, and a hand ax in the other. He’s been a pirate nearly his whole life, sailed the length and breadth of the Razor Coast, and when the Masked Mage offered him command of the Bloody Haar, he lept at the chance. The last 5 years have proven the wisdom of the Masked Mage’s choice.

The Lady d’Rath was the 1st officer under the Bloody Haar’s previous captain, and was initially pissed that the Masked Mage passed her up for the position. SkarJak’s success only infuriated her more. Eventually she challenged him to a duel, and lost, though it was a close thing. SkarJak asked her to remain on the ship as his first officer. Their relationship remains tense.

The Masked Mage is an unknown to all. Clad from head to toe in flowing embroidered robes, with an elaborate facemask that lacks any holes, his voice is low and raspy. Over his robes he wears The Medallion of the 9 Winds, the item which allows him to both call forth the fog, but also to influence the wind, further assisting the Bloody Haar in being one of the fastest vessels upon the sea.

I guess this just goes to show that you sometimes get rewarded for embarrassing yourself in public!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Empires of the Shining Sea (Part I)

A while ago (I honestly don’t remember exactly when) picked up the Empires of the Shining Sea boxed set. Seeing as I have a stack of stuff I've managed to collect, and haven't really read yet, I decided to pull this one from the pile, and have a go, based solely on the cover.

Summoning a genie to fight a dragon? Awesome!

It’s a fairly typical 2nd edition forgotten realms setting boxed set. Here’s the text from the back of the box:

Calimshan and the Lake of Steam Revealed!

The dusty trails from the North have brought you to the warm and welcoming coasts of the Shining Sea and the Lake of Steam. Here is history spanning millennia, not just centuries; passion, profit and danger; dreams of power and conquest; and wonders mysteries centuries older than any hedge realm north of Dalagar's Road and the Snowflake Mountains.

Empires of the Shining Sea goes farther and deeper into the southern reaches of the FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign setting, providing a breadth of scope and a level of detail never before published. This boxed set includes a 192-page book filled with information on these topics:

History The Empires of the Shining Sea hold tales and legends passed down by word of mouth across the years. The myriad mysteries and dramas of more than 300 rulers across four empires - including the infamous Shoon Imperium - reveal themselves in the history and timeline spanning more than 8,000 years.

Calimshan The long-fallen empire of Calimshan rises yet again, as a new ruler and new power groups take control of the former land of the genies. Updated and expanded by more than 100 pages since its first appearance in FR3, Empires of the Sands, Calimshan shows itself to be a land bent on returning to its former greatness - at any and all costs!

The Land of the Lions This rugged land sandwiched between the Deepwash and the Lake of Steam seems empty, but many surprises lurk among its plains and woods - nomads and raiders astride giant lynxes, elder orbs, ruined cities, lost cultures, and more!

The Lake of Steam This steaming bay of the Shining Sea unveils its secrets, proving that it holds more than easy trade routes to the Inner Sea. Scarlet pearls the size of a human fist or the smoking majesty of the volcanic Arnrock tempt those who dare test its deceptively calm waters.

Also inside are two full-color poster maps showing Calimshan and the Lake of Steam region at 30-mile-per-inch scale.

Everything you need to adventure in the conspiracy-laden Empires of the Shining Sea is here!

I’d like to point out that bit right in the middle there, the over 8,000 years of history. You don’t actually get the timeline until you’ve gotten all the way past the 30 pages of history.

Seriously, 30 pages covering 8,000 years?? How much of that is even vaguely relevant to anything 99.9% of players are ever going to deal with? And we’re not looking at nice easy to read 30 pages, we’re talking serious textbook small type. The level of verbosity is just astounding, and the amount of useful info is vanishingly small.

I’ll grant you that I’m spoiled, living in an age of video info graphics and supplemental web pages to expand on material presented elsewhere, but even granting the technological limitations of 1998, this is really user unfriendly, but typical of a Forgotten Realms product from the end of the TSR era.

If you’re going to attempt reading this, I’d strongly suggest keeping a copy of the maps handy, especially if you aren’t all that familiar with the region to begin with.

One thing that doesn’t really stand out, is what’s the point of having this particular area? The predominant themes I’ve noticed are Genies, Dragons, Beholders, Angry Sea Goddess, Volcanoes, Slaves, etc. Now, it seems very like Al Quadim thus far. Flipping ahead I can see it’s a bit more africa themed, rather than arabia, but it isn’t obvious. We’ll see how it goes as I get past the 8,000 years of history.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chainmail Gnolls

Like I said in my last post, I've been working on old minis while waiting on my Bones.

Sunday night I based up my Chainmail Gnolls.

I'm really pleased with this red guy. The demonic aspect really isn't subtle...

Pair of archers.

It's really hard to see in this picture, but these guys have one clawed foot and one with a hoof!

This pic shows how his face is half ripped off.

The ax gnoll in the middle, and the flail on the left were painted together years ago. The rest of them were started back in March.

They are rather flat minis, but I'm pleased with how they came out.

Wargaming Girl Giveaway

Want some free minis?

Head on over to Wargaming Girl and check out her 100K Prize Draws!

Day 5 - Spartans
Day 4 - Bones
Day 3 - Royalist Infantry
Day 2 - GZG Gift Certificate
Day 1 - British Infantry

Enter quickly and good luck!

Friday, May 17, 2013

‘dem Bones

With Reaper’s latest updates on their kickstarter, I think it’s safe to say that I probably won’t be seeing my minis until the end of June/early July. This isn’t terrible, though a bit disappointing, especially for the paints and cases. While I have both paints and cases already, the paints are old and drying out, and the cases are pretty much full. But, I still have enough paint and more than enough unpainted minis that I really don't have anything to complain about.

Of course I still keep checking for more updates, hoping for good news on that slow boat from China.

What’s really disappointing though, is the response online from some backers to the delay. I know, idiots online acting like trolls, big shock, but they just act so entitled, it makes me want to smack them and say "you're getting a $75 dragon mini for $10! It's coming from CHINA. Chill!"

Not that it would help even a little, but I'd feel better.

While it’s been a couple of weeks since I picked up a paintbrush, I’m currently playing with skin tones. These three minis are each done with a different skin tone, and all are works in progress. The two fantasy minis are vaguely celtic, so I’m going for a very pale on one and sort of pale but with lots of sun on the other. The sci-fi lady I’m going for a Martian red.

In addition to trying to get skin tones that look good, I’m also practicing faces. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do on such small figures, especially the eyes. While I’ve done pretty good jobs of it in the past, there’s lots of room for improvement, and I’m out of practice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Campaigns I'd Like to Run: RPG Blog Carnival for May

This month's RPG Blog Carnival topic is: Campaigns I'd Like to Run, and is being hosted by Lowell Francis of Age of Ravens

There are of course several different campaigns that I’d like to run, and on any given the day, the list changes. Right now there’s a pretty small number.

1) 4e Orcus Campaign - This would be a continuation of the game that’s currently on hiatus with my cousins. They’ve just been sucked into the Pyramid of Darkness, and I really want to see the game continue, and I know they do too. It tends to be a more marathon type event, with us getting together and playing for a whole day at a time.

2) Stonehell Megadungeon Campaign - I’d like this to be a semi-regular G+ flailsnails event, probably on either Wednesdays (morning or early afternoon) or Friday evenings. Depending on how things run, and how consistent a crew I’d get, I could see this branching out, but to start with, I’d like to stick with Stonehell.

3) Starships & Spacemen 2nd Edition - I have never gotten to play a Star Trek RPG (that involved dice) and I think the rules here are really designed to allow some fun, campy action, and I’d really like to try them out.

4) Star Wars d6 - Post Episode 4 or during the Knights of the Old Republic era. I’ve played both d6 and d20 SW before, and had a blast using both systems, but the d6 is just less complicated.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Want a free copy of Teratic Tome?

+Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern and +Rafeal Chandler, author of the Teratic Tome, are hosting a contest in honor of Rafeal's ne OSRIC adventure SlaughterGrid.

All you have to do is post the most awesome, heroic, funny, gruesome, pathetic, surprising character deaths you can think of over at Tenkar's Taven, TODAY, starting around 7am, and going for 72 hours...

Three winners, the best of the deaths, will get a free print book and PDF. Three other winners will be chosen at random! and will also get a free print book (and PDF).

* Teratic Tome
* Roll XX
* Roll XX: Double Damage
* Spite
* ViewScream

Also, every entry drops the price of Teratic Tome by 2 cents, so even if you don't win, we all win!

For more details go read what's posted here at Tenkar's Tavern.

Come on! Enter already!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Inspirational Image: Jain Dilwara temple, India.

Jain Dilwara temple, India
From Spamers illustrierte Weltgeschichte (Spamer’s illustrated history of the world) vol. 1, by O. Kaemmel and R. Sturmhoefel, Leipzig, 1893.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Random Graffiti Generator

Dungeons, especially the upper levels, are often rife with graffiti. Whether it's adventurers making boastful statements or dungeon denizens warning others out of their territory, or some cryptic message scratched into the door frame, evidence of past visitors can help to bring the dungeon to life and give it history. To help out in those situations when the players are asking what type of graffiti is around, or if you want to have some premade, I've created this little chart to help you figure it out.

Age 1d6
Language 1d10
Material 1d10
Message Type  1d12
Very old
Old Common
Can't tell

Bug guts

Magical writing


Territorial Marker



Image Source: The Dungeon Stairs by Rodulfo

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The End of the Quest

Tonight I will walk across a stage in a funny robe and a funny hat, and when I walk off the stage I will have my Masters Degree. Actually, I’ll have an empty folder, and they’ll mail it to me later, but officially, if not literally, I’ll have my Masters.

What does this have to do with gaming? Not a whole lot, at least not directly, but I am at the end of this particular quest, and in one way I’ve leveled up. This of course means that I’m ready for the next quest!

After getting in some carousing of course!

But that span, between the end of the drunken revelry and the start of the next quest... It’s pretty well demonstrated in the original Conan movie.

After you’ve thrown lavish orgies of drink and debauchery, burned down a tavern or two, and find yourself hung over and strung out... what next? Your DM might throw you a bone and/or drag you before the king to send you onto the next quest, or he might leave you to figure out what you want to do next.

For myself, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Bones from Reaper. Given the hold up at US Customs, I might be waiting a while, or I might get it in a week. At this point there’s no way to know. Luckily I have no shortage of minis to paint.

Aside from painting minis, I’ve also got my Hirst Arts molds, a bunch of Star Trek models, and an airbrush that I still haven't tried out yet. I think it's safe to say you'll be seeing all that and more...

Anyway, here's to leveling up!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Map: Deep Purple Dungeon

This is a fantastic gaming map by Lukc, and one that barely needs anything else written about it.

I think my favorite notation is the bottom center one.

You can check out Lukc's gaming blog and art blog.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reflections on A to Z

Now that the 2013 A to Z Challenge is over, it’s time to do a little reflecting.

One of the big goals I had for the challenge was to get back into the habit of blogging. You may have noticed that aside from April my posts have been pretty sparse, and most of them have been in the Sunday Inspirational Image group. Picture posts are easy, but I never wanted this blog to be just pictures. It’s a place for me to write, and the writing stopped with the beginning of my final semester of my Masters degree.

In that, the A to Z succeeded, for April anyway, and I’m done with my degree. So there should be no excuse for further slacking off!

One thing that I failed at was visiting other blogs and leaving comments. It just didn’t happen. In part, this was because I already follow an awful lot of blogs, and keeping up on my standard reading takes a significant amount of time. I used to be much better about it too, but there are just so many interesting people writing interesting things that it’s hard to trim the list. That also makes it hard to get around to commenting on the interesting things.

As for the rundown on my posts, I’m really pleased with Alizario, Cerebral Slime, the demon bunny Jak-Arakit, Umbral Walker, and Yanaloth the demon prince. When I settled on monsters for my theme, I didn’t expect to be creating so many undead and demons yet about half of them were.

There were a couple of trouble letters too. For most of the alphabet I had my monsters picked before April even started. O, Q, T, U, and Y didn’t get picked till the night before, and I didn’t finish X in time, so it was posted on Sunday.

I have been thinking about putting this all together in a PDF. I was originally hoping that all the monsters based on Reaper’s minis would be pictures of minis I’d painted, but I still haven’t gotten my Bones Kickstarter shipment yet, so I’m debating whether to wait or not. Is a PDF something you're interested in? There's a poll off to the right

 And here's the list of posts, just in case you missed any of them.