Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Irontooth": 2008 4e D&D villian or 1981 Judges Guild region?

I was just perusing my blog list and saw James Mishler's latest post at his very cool blog Adventures in Gaming. He is selling some Judges Guild stuff that he recently unearthed from his pile of old-school gaming coolness.

I am having a very hard time not buying the lot.! Must...not...cave!

Anyway, just looking through his list, I saw a number of JG items that I had not seen before. This particular item caught my eye - Portals of Irontooth:

Now I know that some of you are pure OD&D-ers and AD&D-ers, and that's cool. But I like to play 1981 game one day and the 2008 one the next. Sure I love no version more than my Moldvay/Cook/Marsh boxsets of B/X D&D, however I've also fallen pretty darn hard for 4e D&D too.

If you happen to be in the 4e camp (either just cracking it or already a vet) then you very likely have run across the name "Irontooth." If not, then you might wanna snag H1 - Keep on the Shadowfell:

You can get it free now in a pdf download they are providing (you know the whole "no more pdfs of our stuff" thing...meh) here.

Anyway, enough of the 4e module thing, and back to the JG stuff. Here's a snippet from the Portals of Irontooth describing a new magic item. Oooooooooooo...:

Iron Dragon's Tooth: Each adult or older Iron Dragon has two teeth which grant special magical abilities to beings who wear them on a chain around their neck next to their skin. Anyone so wearing a tooth gets a +3 to all saving throws versus Dragon's Breath and a -1 to each die of damage from Dragon's Breath. It should be noted that not all the Dragon's teeth have this power, only the two smallest ones.

I do have some Judges Guild modules and supplements, etc, but I would like to get some more. So maybe I'll hit James list again and see if I can talk myself into it. If you dig any of their stuff, you should hit it too. Grab that bag of gp and head on over there!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

M1 Blizzard Pass: Basic D&D solo mod'n without the cool invisible ink pen

So recently I've been blessed to have a regular local weekly game of D&D (4e in this particular case) for the past 4 months or so. It began as the WotC/RPGA sanctioned Delve Night series, in which I played an 8th level Elf Ranger (Archery Style) sniper... errr ... "striker." That then morphed into a custom campaign where I played a level 4 Bastard Sword wielding human Cleric of Kord (let's just say he liked to get up in there, ok?). This campaign was created and DM'd by the DM of the Delve Nights at my friendly local game store, Blue Dragon Games.

Now I'd usually link the store's website to that last phrase there, but ya see that's when "teh suck" struck.


Out of the blue, the store closed. Boom. Blam. Done. No warning. In fact I got an email stating from the site's fourms stating that as of right then, they were closed for good. Wow.

I was stunned. Not only was this store a great source of gaming items, which I purchased quite frequently, but this was the place that got me back into playing real tabletop PnP D&D, no matter what version it might be. It just so happened to be about 5 miles from my home, which was the freakin' icing on the cake.

Now look, the economy blows... understood. We are especially feeling it in the metro Detroit area (ugh), so I won't comment on the store owner's reasons. I'm sure it has been tough making money, so my best wishes go out to the store owner in whatever direction he decides to go next.

The part that leads us to this blog entry is that even though I played every Sunday night with the same crew for 4 months, I have no idea on how to reach them, now that the common ground has been removed. Sadly, I never got their cell numbers, or even their last names...jeesh! I guess I just got spoiled on just calling up the store if need be to chat with the DM (he was an employee/manager/etc of the place) if there was ever a question of game on/off.

At any rate, until I either reconnect with the members of that group, or find a new local one, I am in severe need of some adventuring!

This past weekend I got a little fix from the Worldwide D&D Gameday - Monster Manual 2 event, but I had to drive about an hour and a half to the next closest gaming store that was running it. I did have a blast with the gameday, playing the part of the bravura tiefling warlord "Chance" and I think I'll post a little about my xp with that gutsy general. Additionally, I have been to that particular store before (Heroquest Comics), purchasing a fair amount of stuff, and they would be a great replacement for the other (now defunct) store, if they weren't so far away.


Time to bust out the old solo/solitaire modules again. The terms solo and solitaire get a bit tricky with some of these old modules. Sometimes solo means a single player and a DM. Other times solo means solitaire, just you the player, no DM required. I'm talking here about those solitaire mods (even if they call them solo mods...ha!).

Looking back to last fall, I had some fun playing through the Basic D&D solitaire module BSOLO - Ghost of Lion Castle:

I never actually finished that one, so I could hit that again and see if my sucky Elf can get past a Giant Fire Beetle or a Rock Baboon before dying (twice) this time.

I also have tons of Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventures, and those are all kinds of quick and easy fun, so maybe I'll run a couple of them.

However, first I think I wanna take a shot at the M1 - Blizzard Pass, the invisible ink Basic D&D mod by David Cook:

Now, as the blog post title states, I will be taking on this quest sans magic pen. Ugh! Some folks have said that a yellow highlighter can work, and my kids have some more modern invisible ink pens that they use to reveal sections and words in little Spider-man books etc, but I don't think those are gonna work. We'll see.

I do have 2, maybe 3, copies of this thing, but they are all in varying degrees of "revealed ink" status. So I need to kinda watch how I progress thru it, and try not to accidentally reveal a choice too soon. Wouldn't wanna spoil all the fun, right?

On that note, one very cool project that I found online is this one here, where some folks have put some serious effort into compiling (most of) the invisible entries into one big entity. That just might be the route I will have to take, at least for Blizzard Pass. Thanks to all of those who helped compile those notes. Very, very cool.

After MI I may have to keep the solo mode going for a bit, unless I find a good local group. If so, these beauties are all waiting in the wings:

M2 - Maze of the Riddling Minotaur:

XS2 - Thunderdelve Mountain (At least I think I have this, I need to get organized!):

XSOLO - Lathan's Gold (Similar in style to Ghost of Lion Castle, IIRC):

CM5 - Mystery of the Snow Pearls (Ooooooo, a Companion Level mod...nice! - utilizing the Magic Viewer thingie too.):

MV1 - Midnight on Dagger Alley (1st ed AD&D here - using the viewer again to reveal parts of the map.):

Rage of the Rakasta (An early '90s D&D Game Box module, which is mostly spent exploring a palace. It can be played with or without a DM. In pure solitaire mode I don't think it's much more than "enter this room, fight this baddie, rinse repeat" but I could be totally wrong...never played it. I'm not sure if I have the stand-up figs with my copy...hhmnnn. Again the need to get organized.):**EDIT**: When I first posted this, I had this mod mixed up with another in the same series, In the Phantom's Wake. That mod takes place mostly on a boat. See below. **END EDIT**

In the Phantom's Wake (Another in that same early '90s D&D Game Box series. This is the one that features a boat floor plan. It's recommended for 4-6 players, (so not a solitaire mod...kinda), butit can be played with or without a DM....weird. So I guess a person could play solitaire, playing all 4-6 characters, with no DM. So that's like playing in accompanied solitary? Regardless, I'll still include it here because of that possibility. Both of these '90s D&D Game Box mods reportedly can be played with those Game Box rules, the Rules Cyclopedia, the Dragon Quest game, or even 2nd ed AD&D witha little fudging, I presume.):**EDIT**: Added this one here late, after checking them at home and realizing I mixed it up a bit with Rage of the Rakasta. See above. **END EDIT**

Wshew! Well that's quite a little bit of solo-play (man, that just sounds wrong) to be had, if need be. I've only messed with one or two of these mods listed above, and that was a loooooong time ago. I recall buying some of these, but never really needing to play them, as we always seemed to have the old kitchen table group back in '81 (and '82-'85 too). Even if sometimes the "group" meant a whopping two of us. A few others I aquired later in life, and just never really got around to playing them.

So that being the case, do any of ya'll have any favorites in this list, or any advice on which one(s) I might enjoy more? Do you favor the invisible ink over the magic viewer? Or is the good ol' "choose you own adventure" style of Ghost of Lion Castle still the best way to go? I think I'll start with Blizzard Pass and see if I dig the invisible ink thing. But if you have a better choice, please let me hear it.

Until then I'll be kickin' back enjoying a little "solo time" (still sounds just as bad, dunnit'?):

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Purple worm, purple worm..." - starring 1977 Monster Manual inspired Reaper minis

Confess! You are either humming the Prince tune or you are trying very, very hard not to. It's ok, you can admit it.

Now for the half of you that haven't yet closed your browser window, I'll quickly move on to the true inspiration of this post. And no, it's not Morris Day and the Time, either. It's none other than that periwinkle wriggler himself, the Purple Worm.

Ok, remember this heart-warming little scene, by one of the (sadly late) greats, Mr. David Sutherland, from the back cover of the 1977 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual?:

Of course you do.

Well as I seemingly can't stop dorking around with these things, here's another very simplified remake of an old masterpiece of the vintage D&D/AD&D era. This time we watch the scene unfold as our fuchsia fiend moves in on some (apparently completely) unsuspecting dorks... err... orcs:

These little green men are Reaper's orcs, from their Legendary Encounter pre-painted series. As noted before, and seen in a few different prior posts here, I really like these Reaper minis. I have been using them for two current tabletop characters of mine, an Elf Ranger (archery style) and a Human Cleric of Kord. I feel that in most cases they have better sculpts and paint jobs than comparable current offerings from WotC. I still have tons of the WotC figs, and I will keep buying them, but I really like these Reaper minis.

Now for a direct comparison of Reaper vs WotC, in regards to worms of the violet variety, here's a shot of the WotC version appearing ready to chow down on the Reaper version:

Sorry for the difference in lighting there, but different days, different shadows, etc. I just take these pics on the kitchen table (it just seems to fit the "back in '81" theme, ya'know?...ha!), and whatever light I get, I just deal with it.

Anyway, I actually really like the WotC worm too. I think it has a completely different vibe to it. IMO, it looks more Alien than D&D. The size difference could be a deciding factor, but I choose not to go down the "my purple worm is bigger than your purple worm" road. Just not gonna do it. Aw man, I just did, didn't I?

Either way, I like them both and would happily use either one of them on the tabletop, if the adventure called for it. However, for the representation of the old MM back-cover shot, I figured I'd go with the worm that gives me more of an old-school feel, and that would have to be the Reaper mini.

Speaking of old-school feel with new minis, Otherworld Miniatures has (or had) an amazing Purple Worm mini, along with all of the rest of their very cool line of figs. Jeff Reints of Jeff's Gameblog posted on that mini a while back, with this pic along the same lines of that MM back-cover (I hope it's ok to re-post that pic here, Jeff - it's a copy, not a link to your site, so hope that avoids any bandwidth issues):

That shot really reminds me more of the entry on the Purple Worm inside the pages of the old MM. Maybe it's a tail thing...dunno. Check it out:

I do like the fact that Otherworld's worm has the tail included, but IMO the graphic of the work busting out of the ground in the Reaper and WotC versions is even more cool. Diana, Hank, Eric and Presto seem to be diggin' it too:


Reaper does have an unpainted metal version that seems to cover the best of both worlds in those regards. Here is a shot of that:

However at $27.49 for that bad boy (according to that link), I think I'd have to pass on that, as cool as it does look.

And finally for the real penny-pinchers out there, there's always this option:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

that "promo" Silver Dragon mini and some other sterling wyrms

I've been trying to stick with the (very) early '80s artwork in these recent posts (Otus, Dee, Roslof, etc), but man, I think I may have to turn in my pro-googler membership card after today's quest. I couldn't find a silver dragon by any of the real old-schoolers. I do like this work by Todd Lockwood though, so I guess I'll roll with that.

** EDIT **
Well, until I find a better scan or do it myself, here's what I wanted in the first place. I seriously couldn't find this darn thing online....jeesh! Ah well, here's Sutherland's Silver Dragon from the 1st ed AD&D Monster Manual (RE-EDITED: no longer in a horrendous yellow-orange hue):
Draco Nobilis Argentum

** END EDIT (and END RE-EDIT) **

Anyway, recently Jay asked in a comment about the Best Buy exclusive silver dragon mini that came with my Dungeons & Dragons: Complete Series DVD box set (the animated show), which I mentioned in this previous post on various Green Dragon minis.

I actually snagged the box set back when it came out, from a local Best Buy. They often have exclusive stuff with their box sets and special edition DVD releases. In this particular case the packaging included a clear plastic section sticky-tack'd to the top of the DVD box, containing this little silver dragon mini. It was labeled as a Best Buy exclusive fig. I've seen the box set at Best Buy recently, but the packaging is new. It is now in a black box (mine is the older red one) and this new version does not have the mini included. Weird.

At any rate, Jay asked for a pic of it, and I actually found one in my folder of shots I took when I was recently comparing some dragon minis (among other creatures) from various companies. Here's one I took of the Best Buy mini on the left compared to WotC's Young Silver Dragon from the Dungeons of Dread set...oh and that crazy old dude in the bathrobe snuck into the shot too:

If you've been following for a bit around these parts, you might recall that I've shown a couple shots of that bigger Young Silver a while back in a post about a heavily-modified game of Crossbows & Catapults with my son.

Regardless, you may have also seen them around in your gaming circles as WotC has released a number of silver dragons, including these beasts:

the Young Silver Dragon shown above in my pic:

the Large Silver Dragon from the Archfiends set:

the Medium Silver Dragon from the Underdark set:

Now the Best Buy mini, which is labeled on the bottom of the fig as "Knights of the Silver Dragon" 2004, was supposedly a promo for the young reader book series of the same name. As far as I can tell, and as you can see from the pics, it is just a renamed/relabeled version of the Underdark set's Medium Silver Dragon.

Googling like an archfiend myself, I also found a few more comparison shots of the Large Silver vs the promo mini. This pic is from Merric's D&D minis site, in the promos section:

I highly recommend Merric's site for some very nice info and pics on WotC's D&D figs.

Additionally, as a source of some of the other links/pics above, check out for some other good minis pics, stats, and other cool info. They are also a great resource for some awesome RPG loot in general. Just be prepared to part with those gold pieces...

"Come'on, I'm good for it. This is a Bag of Holding, dude!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jeff Dee's "Land of Umber Hulk Confusion" drawing: yep, more old lead minis stuff

"It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility" - Chris Knight, 1985

As true as that description by one of my all-time fave characters in one of my all-time fave movies may be, this crap is still a lot of fun.

Here's a real cool drawing by Jeff Dee, from the pages of 1980's TSR AD&D module C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, of an umber hulk seemingly putting "the whammy" on some poor sap:

And here's me dorking around with some minis again, doing a very minimalistic representation of that scene:

The umber hulk fig is one of my favorites from the old collection, a Grenadier blister pack which contained this Umber Hulk and a Xorn. My Xorn still has his 3rd arm as a separate entity. In other words, I never attached the darn thing. Ah well, another project for another day.

The "poor sap" in my shot is the Fighter with Sword mini from the 1983 AD&D Fighters, Rangers & Paladins box set, a set which has rewarded me over and over again.

You may notice, from the back of the TSR box that this guy bears a strikingly resemblance to a popular TSR iconic(?) fighter. Here he is cropped from that back-of-the-box pic:

And here he is gracing the cover of 1986's The Book of Lairs, a book of short adventures by TSR for AD&D:

His name escapes me...anyone? How 'bout you there big fella?


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trampier's "Giant Frog vs (insert tiny humanoid-ish type here) " drawing: more lead minis reenactments

So lately I've been dorkin' around with some old school D&D/AD&D illos, trying to recreate the scenes depicted in them (in very, very simple form) using old lead minis, newer plastic minis, kid's toys, etc. Well this one here basically slapped me in the face and said "Hey punk, recreate this!"

Yep, it's a goofy one alright. A nice little ditty though, by Dave Trampier, from the 1st ed AD&D Player's Handbook, in the spells section.

This kooky pic has befuddled even the most 'nardish grognards (and BTW, that's a compliment fellas...hehe). The discussion over there at GROGNARDIA covers every angle from what type of creature the little dude on the right actually is (elf, halfling, hobbit, gnome, pixie, brownie, etc) to what the actual scene is supposedly representing (temporal stasis, time stop, shape change, etc). The post and it's comments are a very fun read, and I highly recommend you check it out.

At any rate, for the purposes of this dorky little post here, let's just say some little generic demi-human thug just said some very nasty things about a certain giant frog's mother. Here's some fun I had reenacting the scene with a Giant Frog mini (love those oxymorons) from the WotC D&D Deathknell series and a heavily used and severely abused old lead Halfling Thief from the Grenadier Thieves box set from their AD&D Solid Gold Line:

Sadly, the frog in my scene isn't quite the pouncer, but he certainly looks like he's diggin' that halfling... err... pixie... err ...whatever.

"Pucker up, buttercup!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Three Green Dragons: Papa, Mama and Baby?

As noted at the end of a recent post here on some Papo figs (dragons and various goblinoids & humanoids), I snagged a couple other dragons, including Papo versions and other makes too.

Here's a shot of two of the newest wyrms in my growing collection, alongside one I've had for a while now:

So left->center->right we have:

I've had the WotC little guy there on the left ever since the starter set came out, but the Papo and the Safari are recent buys. They are great prices too, like $5 - $6 or so. IMO, that's quite a deal. I'm sure they can be had even cheaper if you search online, but I just grabbed them from a local doll/toy-soldier shop. Gotta support the local scene, ya'know?

Also, as I mentioned in my chat about the "breathless" Papo Blue Dragon, I plan on doing a little surgery on this Papo Green, de-flaming him. After all this is D&D, where any respectable Green Dragon breathes chlorine gas, not fire. Of course certain other applications and various literary works would disagree, but for the uses this mini will see, he needs to lose the flames.

I am already in search of a decent little plastic representation of a lightning bolt for my Papo Blue mod, and now it looks like that quest just grew to include some gaseous form...ewwww.

Next will be the major mod of painting a (2nd) Papo Red with some black-ish acrylics, which will lead to the search for some dripping, burning acid breath mod.

Man, this is getting dangerous!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Biggie-sized! - a few old lead Giants (and other big folk)

I've been diggin' through some old minis lately. That exercise along with and a recent suggestion by Jay at Spell Card of using a Papo Dwarf King mini as a surrogate Fire Giant got me thinking it was time to post some old late-'70s/early-'80s lead giants and other biggie-sized minis, from Grenadier, Ral Partha, etc.

So let's begin with a group shot taken at last year's Lumberjack-Con:

Can't recall without peeking, but I believe that lineup is from left-to-right a Grenadier(?) Frost Giant, a Ral Partha Firbolg, and a Ral Partha Fire Giant.

* EDIT *
Turns out I wasn't too far off on the makers of these guys. Upon checking them at home, here's the real deal:

Here's a real nice paint job (IMO) by Herb the bitter that I saw over at of that Firbolg mini:

Very, very cool!

Next up, some recent Mall Cop applicants:

Ok, now I really need a cheat-sheet. Forgive me for any misinformation here, but I think in the shot above the polite fellow on the left is a Ral Partha Ogre, a Ral Partha Bear-rider Dwarf is the homey in the center, and on the right requesting a high-five we have a Grenadier Ape...err something. I will check these when I get home and edit things as needed here to provide better information on these figs.

* EDIT *

More corrections here, after checking them at home:
  • The Ogre on the left is indeed an Ogre, but he is more correctly an Ogre Berserker by Grenadier (1988).
  • The Bear-rider in the middle is actually a Dwarf Ursine Cavalry with Axe from Grenadier (1989) which was (as Jeff Rients from Jeff's Gameblog pondered...or possibly teased?...hehe... in the comments of this post) part of their Fantasy Warriors sets. I know I only have one of them, but I also know where I can get more, so a tabletop skirmish with a legion of bear-riders may be in my future.
  • The ape on the right is a total unknown for me at this point. The bottom of the fig is basically unreadable. I think it says '77 and #122, but that's all I can make out. I could swear I just saw this fig on some old lead minis site, but I can't find it now. Ah well. If anyone knows what it is, please shout out so I can get back to sleeping at night, ok? Thanks.

For purposes of scale, here's a couple pics of the Fire Giant and the Frost(?) *EDIT* Hill Giant hangin' out with my (apparent) recent favorite posers from the Reaper Legendary Encounter Pre-painted Plastics line:
Most of these are all 2nd-hand figs, painted (if at all) by some other gamers of days past, which I either inherited from my old PnP buddies, or snagged at different times in the past from various shops' used-RPG sections and other forgotten backroom bins. "One man's trash..."

I may just leave them as they are, as sometimes those old-school paint jobs ...good, bad or just plain horrible... can better set that "back in '81" mood, standing proud atop the kitchen table in all of their Testors glory. But I'm thinking I'd like to try to clean them up and do some re-paints, if I ever find the time. I have tons of old minis in that "someday I'm gonna paint" pile, so these will have to get in line. I have a sneaky feeling, however, that a couple of these whoppers just might "take cuts."