Wednesday, June 17, 2009

B4 - The Lost City boxer shorts?!?!?

Oh the humanity!

My apologies for not yet posting the follow-up to my romp through M1 - Blizzard Pass. I still have to get the audio sorted from my son's run through it. If it doesn't work out, I'll just summarize the session. Kinda like ending one season with a cliff-hanger, and then having the show canceled. I suck, I know. Sorry. It'll be up soon.

Anyway, I was cleaning up my hard drive here and found a saved pic of the awesome cover art for module B4 - The Lost City captured on the front of a 3/4-sleeve concert jersey. Now that is freakin' cool, eh?

How appropriate. Setting the way-back machine to 1982...anyone wanna come along?

Well, I am a huge fan of basically all of the old Basic/Expert D&D and 1st ed AD&D artists, and Jim Holloway's works are most certainly some of my faves. His awesome art is a constant source of inspiration for gaming, blogging, and just plain fantasizing in general.

On top of that, B4 is an incredible module, loved by many. Of course Tom Moldvay deserves most of the credit for that affection, but Jim's artwork helps solidify B4 as one of my (and numerous other players'/DMs') favorite D&D modules.

From the home page at you can find the link featuring his work on t-shirts, mugs, and stuff. The first one you'll see is the B4 cover, but you can get several other Holloway D&D/AD&D gems at this site too. Heck maybe I should snag this one too. It's the absolute inspiration I used when imagining Beechum, the halfling I played in JimLotFP's recent online Labyrinth Lord game. I'm not kidding when I say I had that illo printed out right next to my PC. Maybe a golf shirt version would be best. That way I can get away with wearing it to work. Business Casual? Sure.

So if you dig Holloway (and if you don't, you should), and especially if you dig B4, then head on over there and snag a jersey or a coffee mug...maybe even a wall calendar. Oh and don't forget the boxers! If you need any further prodding, check out the item description on the site:

"Enjoy the roomy comfort of our sexy boxers as underwear or sleepwear. They're 100% cotton, open fly for thinking outside the boxers. Boxers, because you don't want to be brief."

You may wanna hurry up though, as it looks like a few of these guys might be needing a new pair soon enough too. I know I sure would.

Ohhh @#$%!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Solo module (M1 - Blizzard Pass) conquered?

A couple weeks ago I posted that I was going to run some solo mods, mainly because my gaming had dried up with the abrupt closing of a local game store and the fallout/disconnect of the gaming group following that move.

Well a few things happened since then:
  • I solo'd thru M1- Blizzard Pass
  • I DM'd (sorta) M1 for my 5 y.o. son
  • I played in a session of JimLotFP's Labyrinth Lord game
  • I reconnected with my former gaming group...sorta
The last point is a "sorta" because the gaming group is now a mixed bag of some of the guys I gamed with before the store closing, and some of their other gaming friends from other groups (these guys game a lot!). At any rate, I've played in two sessions now, both different campaigns with mostly the same folks. These are weekly sessions, alternating between the two campaigns. One is currently level 3, and the other is level 11. So that's cool.

I also am especially hoping that JimLotFP will run some more online LL for us, as that was a complete blast.

In summary, I'm all smiles.

Anyway, back to the solo stuff...

So I looked thru the pile of solo/solitaire mods (D&D/AD&D/Tunnels&Trolls/etc) and decided it was gonna be M1 - Blizzard Pass:

I have three copies of this thing (don't ask why), but it kinda worked out nicely as a means to make the most out of some of these old and no-longer-revealable invisible ink text boxes. I also made heavy use of that very cool online project I mentioned last time, which is a collection of the revealed entries from all of the text boxes in M1.

So I printed out those text box entries, grabbed the module, and then gathered up this stuff...
  • My "lucky" dice cup and some precision edge dice (of course - well except for the d100...ha! that was just for fun with thieving skills), mostly gamescience BTW:

  • A photocopy of my favorite character sheet ever to fill in with the stats for the character I rolled up for this solo mod - they recommend the pre-gen guy, but I wanted to roll some dice early, so I created a Footpad named "Grep" (any old timer DOS... err... Unix users out there?) and played by the module character's gear rules/restrictions:

I neglected to jot down his (un)bonus to damage and opening doors from that whopping 7 strength...not sure why, I guess we'll blame it on being 2am. It never really mattered...ha!

First off, the screen is obviously useful for easier lookups on charts and lists:

But also for this guy! I mean the graphic alone of this crazy halfling running for his life is reason alone for propping this bad boy up for the session:

  • Some old Grenadier minis too, to add to the whole vibe. I mean, I am playing this darn thing alone in my kitchen, at about 2 am, so I need to make this as cool as I can, right?:

That action shot there is my thief Grep and his new buddies Roderick (the cleric) and Salamdros (an elf) duking it out with some lizardmen (reptile-men, I think they called them...meh). Here's a shot of the module, pretty close to that time-frame:

That's one tough predicament our heroes are in, eh? Did they put it to those dastardly lizardmen and prove victorious? Or in the end did module M1 get the best of Grep and his new friends?

"Tune in next time for the conclusion of Blizzard Pass: passed or failed."

A cliffhanger...ha!

Actually I will only provide some details of my run through the module in my next post. I really don't want to give too much away as far as decisions and such go. Sure, there are numerous paths which you could take and have a totally different story than I did, but you may not want to hear too much of the story in case you do decide to play through it yourself.

However, I will let you know the outcome of my solo session next time. Additionally and more importantly (at least to me) is that after I ran this myself, I DM'd it (sorta) for my 5 y.o. son Bobby. He's been all into minis and D&D related stuff as of late (too many past posts to reference - half of this blog is Bobby playing cool stuff with me), and his eyes lit up when he awoke the next morning to find all this stuff left out on the kitchen table from my late night session.

I ran him through it and took some fun pics of that event too. I also recorded some of it with the voice recorder function on my cell phone, so maybe if those turn out ok when copied here, you'll get a chance to hear some of the fun we had. I've yet to upload any audio to this blog, so that may not work out, but I hope it does so that you can experience Blizzard Pass as played by a very young future D&Der.

So until next time, what do you think...did Grep and his gang conquer Blizzard Pass or was it a TPK?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Iron spikes, 10 foot poles, and lots and lots of rope!

Well we did it. We played in Jim Raggi's (LotFP - Lamentations of the Flame Princess) online Labyrinth Lord game, session #2 in this case for a couple of the guys.

And we lived! Well, most of us did....sorta.

A couple of my adventuring comrades have already posted on the fun that was had, so I'll send you over to The Dwarf and The Basilisk for Matthew's (Sunniva the chaotic dwarf) take, and over to Running With Dice, where jerm (Cerran, our curious thief) also discusses the session.

As noted in both of those great posts, we were playing (playtesting?) through some of Jim's own personal creation, which will be published very soon. Thus the details will be very few, as to not give away any of the coolness.

Three members of the crew were returning vets from last week's session, and jerm and myself joined up in a return to the ugly. In full force we were as follows:
  • Sunniva - chaotic female dwarf
  • Cerran - neutral male thief
  • Vander - lawful male cleric
  • Roland - neutral? male fighter
  • Beechum - lawful male halfling
and of course the doombringer... err... storyteller/gamemaster himself (Jim):

Sunniva and Cerran have been described a bit by their players in the blog links noted above, so I'll let you check those out for yourself. For a description of my little guy Beechum, I will refer you to this Jim Holloway drawing, which is what I had printed out next to my character sheet last night as inspiration. This is almost exactly who Beechum was/is to me:
...well, except for the armor and the axe at his side. Beechum wears chain mail and a shield, or at least he did until he had to beat-(hairy)feet, running for his life.

Additionally although he does in fact prefer the sling as a weapon, being graced with a nice talent at missile attacks, he also carries both a spear and a silver dagger for up close and personal scuffles, whenever they might present themselves. The spear, of course doubling as a throwing weapon if need be.

The silver dagger is more for show than for any real practical use (ie, lycanthropes, wights, wraiths, etc), as Beechum falls victim to his race's characteristic weakness for a finer thing or two. He can often be found twirling it between his fingers and thumb, grinning with pride and complacency. Don't get me wrong though, if such a fiend would happen to wander upon him, he'd whip that baby out as fast as you could say "roll for initiative."

In typical 1981 fashion, and as the title of this post implies, our brave group of adventurers took to:
  • spiking doors - both open and shut
  • brandishing 10' poles - as door openers and floor testers
  • collecting and testing strange unknown liquids - if you don't have any hirelings, just have the thief stick his pinky in it
  • minor dentistry - no comment
  • keeping the local rope maker in business - with about 200' of the stuff in our collective packs, we had no qualms to using it at every juncture, securing certain objects as well as a certain thief
  • tossing torches - as a distant light source and the occasional act of arson
We actually rolled very few dice, spending nearly all of our time exploring and having fun role-playing our crew. In fact up until the last few minutes of the session, the only rolls were for thieving skills, stonework checks by the our resident dwarf, and opposing STR checks, IIRC. In our full-on retreat to seemingly nowhere, we did have to make CON checks, which we all did....wshew!

We did however, spend a massive amount of time worrying about our (incorrectly) presumably-charmed/cursed thief friend, Cerran. As noted and commented on in the other blogs, we were darn sure he was out to get us (not of his own free will, mind you), and we were contemplating tieing him up (we did have the extra rope, that's for sure), knocking him out cold, or pushing/tripping him grade-school playground style over Beechum's back (wouldn't even really have to kneel for that move). It got so bad, that someone nearly accidentally let him drop into a very, very deep pit/hole!

But that's not quite a deed of lawful nature now is it? Sunniva?!? Feeling a tad goody-good, Beechum reminded a couple party members that although we were certain that Cerran was no longer on our side, he was still "one of us" and we needed to find a better way of dealing with him than watching him fall to his doom. But then again, he wasn't holding the rope now was he? MUUHAHAHAHA!!!!!

In the end things got so hairy that it didn't quite matter which side Cerran was on any longer. We needed to get the F outta there! So we did.

After the session was over, Jim answered some questions we had about certain points in the adventure, and also offered up quite a lot of info on the rest of his very cool creation. I will not reveal any of those details, but I will relay the interesting fact that Cerran was... in fact... absolutely... NOT charmed or cursed or otherwise affected in any way. He was just roleplaying a different take on something that had happened to him during the crawl, and totally hammed it up. OMG!

Well sadly his peculiar behavior was a bit costly, as he was the chosen one to be left behind. It was all about encumbrance and time, Cerran. Honest.

Oh and a massive amount of undead!

In summary, it was a total blast! Jim, thanks so much for creating, hosting and running us through your new project. It is very, very cool...creepy as hell, and a very fun crawl for anyone looking for something a little different than your average hack-n-slash adventure. I highly recommend it.

To my comrades, you guys were tons of fun! So we doomed everyone..big deal, right? Just think how much XP we're gonna get killing all of that crap. Job security, baby!

It was a pleasure to meet and adventure with each of you and I sincerely hope we can do it again sometime soon. Hit me up here or shoot me a message any time you like.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So a bugbear, a werewolf and 3 goblins walk into a bar...

Ok, so there was no bar...not even a tavern. Well then let's just focus on the fact that Reaper has some new members of their Legendary Encounters Pre-painted Plastic minis line coming out this summer. Sweet!

I was over at Spike Page's awesome blog Ubiquitous Orcs, reading a post about Reaper's Warlord tabletop minis skirmish game being released in a new rev (version 2), and I decided it had been a little while since I visited Reaper's site, so I headed over there to see if there were any more details on the new version.

It was then that I saw these:



3 Goblins

"Yes, please. May I have another? And another? And another?"

Man, I freakin' love that Jeff Dee drawing. Always have. That lighthearted halfling looks like he just stopped in from the local frat toga party. Bottoms up!

Ok, so back to the minis: I really like Reaper minis, especially their current pre-painted line, as I am having trouble finding time to sit down and paint the buggers myself....ugh. I have tons of WotC's plastic D&D minis too, but I seem to favor the Reaper minis when they are an option. I've noted on a few occasions my usage of their LE plastic line figs. I especially have gotten some good mileage out of two of these figs for both a Human Cleric of Kord and a Elf Archery-style Ranger that I currently have as 4e characters. Heck, I even used those same two minis when my son and I played Dungeon! the boardgame.

My feelings on the pricing is somewhat mixed. I think $5.79 for 3 goblins is ok - $2 a piece for something you know you are getting, and can plan for your usage requirements isn't too bad.

The Bugbear at $4.99 is getting pricey (I do have a number of Bugbears from WotC - mostly the same guy though, IIRC) but the sculpt and paint job as shown on this new Reaper one looks pretty darn nice.

The Werewolf though, is the real tricky one, IMO. It's listed at $3.99 which unless this thing is sized along their current Minotaur or maybe even Troll's scaling, then that just seems too high to me. I guess I may be skewed a bit on that one, as I also have picked up various werewolves in Heroclix, Mage Knight, and other collectible miniature game used and/or commons bins at local gaming shops and conventions, spending anywhere from 15 cents a piece for the smaller ones to 70 cents in the bigger/nicer versions. Here's one of my cheapos:

Sure, I usually have to re-base those, mostly for cosmetic purposes, but still that makes this Reaper one a bit tough to take. We'll see though. Maybe when I see it for real-realz, I may just have to have it too.

Now, looking back on some older pics I saved off to my HD, I recall that Reaper had previously posted some future releases for the LE pre-paints, including gnolls, kobolds, a mummy, an ettin, a dwarf warrior, a war dog, a succubus, and even a type V demon... err... marilith... err... female demon. In fact they also already had goblins in that list. However those earlier posted guys sported a different paint job. Potential gang wars? Don't wear the wrong color, bro':

Oh, they also have a Giant Spider in the mix too:

But honestly I will likely pass on that one. It's showing a $3.99 price tag, and unless it really blows me away, I will probably stick with my Target $1 bin ones, or some new smaller ones (about half the size of the Target one) that I just snagged for 35 cents each. I bought four of those critters thanks to the advice of Mr. Moldvay:

I guess time will tell. First if these things actually are released or not (like the last "next" batch?), and secondly just how many gold pieces I'll hand over to get me some.

Now, back to the original premise...sorta: If you are ever in a bar/tavern/etc, especially once named after a certain wild animal of a certain color (ie: The Black Stag, The Red Lion, The Purple Worm...hehe), and you see a bugbear, a werewolf, and a trio of goblins come strolling through the front door, I leave you with three simple words of advice (again illustrated *awesomely* by the great Jeff Dee):

"Hit the deck!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jack Lantern-head: a D&D mini concept drawing by a 5 y.o.

So my son is pretty enamored with D&D minis. Yeah you could say he kinda digs 'em. Hmmn....I wonder why. Well yesterday I overheard him from the other room describing with great enthusiasm to my wife the drawing he was working on at that moment. The part that really made me go "huh?" was when he said:

"Look Mama, doesn't it look like a mini? Look! I'm gonna go show Daddy. Wait 'til he see this guy!"
"Wow! That's great!" she said. "Daddy, you should see Bobby's drawing. He's been really concentrated working on it in here."

So he comes rushing into the den and flips the paper around, flashing this fiendish fellow right in my face:

"Woah!" I exclaimed. "Who in the world is *that*?!?!?"
"He's... uhm... Pumpkinhead." he replied. "No, wait!... He's the headless pumpkin!"
"Wow, that's awesome!" I told him. "But I'm not sure a pumpkin *can* be headless, can it?"
(Actually, it's a pretty interesting notion - a headless pumpkin. I should have let him run with it...ah well.)
"Oh yeah. Well what's those things? Ya'know, when we carve the pumpkins?" he asked.
"You mean 'jack-o'-lanterns'?" I inquired.
"Yeah! That's it! He's Jack Lantern-head!" he declared. "Or the Headless Pumpkin!"
(There we go. He got to come back around to the idea of headless pumpkin. Cool.)

As soon as I saw his picture, I couldn't help but think back to a few posts by some veteran bloggers Jeff Rients and James Maliszewski and a phenomenal artist Steve Zieser. You know them from their blogs Jeff's Gameblog, Grognardia, and Curmudgeons & Dragons, respectively.

Anyway, I did a quick search through their sites and found the posts I was thinking of. Here's a post Jeff made which features some pics of a similar looking dude...actually two similar looking dudes. First there's the Knight of Autumn Gate mini from Dreamblade:

Now if you took away this guy's sword and set his head was on fire he'd be a shoe-in for Marvel's Jack O'Lantern. But then... his head would be... well... on fire:

And then there's this pic of an OD&D bugbear, of which Jeff comments in his post as who/what the Dreamblade mini reminds him:

Pretty sweet, eh? Nice stuff there Jeff.

That last OD&D image there is reborn in a work posted at Curmudgeons & Dragons by that blog's own Steve Zieser, an amazing fantasy artist who has that sweet old-school flavor. Steve's work has been featured in such great retro-clone gaming works as the Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game, the very cool Fight On! magazine, and some of the B/X combo-remake Labyrinth Lord's supplements, etc.

Here's Steve's cool pic from Halloween '08:

The last post is this one at Grognardia which James claims this illo by Erol Otus to be "hands down, one of the best depictions of any undead creature in any edition of Dungeons & Dragons.":

One of my faves there too, James. At least the face of this spectre has that carved jack-o'-lantern look to it. That along with the whole clawing-tree-branch, Michael-Jackson-Thriller-video-undead-dance-move-thing, is exactly why it reminded me of my son's creation.

Hey I think she may have been at my '80s themed 40th b-day party this past November...hmmn.

Anyway, three great posts there by three great gaming bloggers. /salute

Now I understand that one could look at my son's drawing and think yeah but what's that have to do with a D&D mini? Well look at the base. He specifically added that black base to the picture, just like the D&D minis that we play with have. Most of the time I try to steer him clear of the old lead figures, painted or not, just to be safe...sorta. Even though I played with them as a kid and I turned out ok...right?...RIGHT!?!?!? Anyway, when he and I play minis we use the plastic ones, mostly from WotC, which all have the black circular base. And so here it is in a full length shot:

Thus as of today, thanks to Bobby's awesome artwork, Jack Lantern-head the headless pumpkin guy is standing guard in my office at work, and I must say he's doing a fine job. In fact folks have been runnin' scared from my cube all day. What a bunch of wussies!