Random plots

I saw this web site, “The story starter,” recently — it was highlighted in a blog about writers. It just generates randomized sentences, and they are kind of goofy. Some examples:

The absent-minded dentist dialed the cell phone in Fort Knox on Wednesday for the Russians.

The religious trivia whiz jumped near the hidden room during the heatwave to clear the record.

The smart diamond cutter spoiled the joke near the huge truck four days ago to cover things up.

There is something to be said for specificity, but with so many random clauses, there’s almost too much to incorporate.

But the “junior” version is pretty cool. The prompts it generates are much simpler, and more evocative because of that.  Here are some examples:

The flower grower was following a treasure map near the volcano.

The fisherman was looking for clues on the moon.

The writer was crying near the lake.

See? There’s a lot less to go on, but for me anyway that gives the imagination more of a spur. Why is the writer crying, and why at the lake? is an interesting question that allows the story be sad, scary, funny, or whatever; the adult version sentences, being more detailed, seem to have fewer possibilities.

Naturally my thoughts also turned to using these sorts of things for quick adventure prompts for D&D. I started looking around for other story prompts or plot generators and was surprised at how many there are.

I particularly like a fairytale plot generator here and a fantasy plot generator at the same site. Actually I pretty much stopped looking once I got to that site. There is a full list of its plot-generators here. If you happen to roll up an interesting one, why not leave it in a comment here?

Published in: on May 25, 2015 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Girdle books

A girdle book; image from Wikipedia.

 

Recently a colleague of mine cataloged a “girdle book” for our library. I’d never seen one before. It is a small book, typically a prayer/liturgy book, that is bound with long tail of soft leather and clasp so that it can be attached to one’s belt (“girdle”) for easy access. Our specimen is a 17th century German prayer-book, I think Lutheran, and had been rebound in the 1980s. It is a small, but thick, manuscript, and it looks to me like the original clasps were saved in the rebinding but the tail was placed on the top edge rather than the bottom edge, so that it hangs upright. I think it would be more handy to have such a book hand upside down, so that when you pull it up the tail is on the bottom.

This fellow is carrying the girdle in his hand, but normally you’d attached the knotted “tail” to your belt. Image from Wikipedia.

Girdle books seem like pretty natural fits for adventurers. IIRC the first edition Unearthed Arcana described “traveling” spellbooks, which would be compact spellbooks that a magic-user took on an expedition. These would be lighter than a standard spellbook and have fewer spells, but the benefit is that you would not be as burdened and losing it to dragon fire or whatever hazard you faced would be less of a crippling blow.

Yet another Wikipedia image.

If you Google Image Search the term, you’ll see a lot more examples. Some have a pair of rings attached to the cover and loop a chain through them; I kind like the image of a mage with a tiny spellbook on a chain, like the dudes you sometimes see today with their wallets on a chain.

 

 

Published in: on May 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags:

The book of creatures

This post is just a shout out to a project I recently noticed on someone else’s blog roll: The book of creatures. The posts are all like encyclopedia entries, with an excellent color illustration, a map showing the creature’s habitat/origin, and a silhouette showing the relative size of the creature next to a human (much like the silhouettes in the books published by Chaosium, Inc.). The description gives a bibliography too, which is nice. The creatures are all from folklore so far, and not your run-of-the-mill collection of stuff everyone knows about. Looking at the old posts, I have only heard of three of the featured creatures, plus  maybe a couple more that similar to more familiar creatures. The unfamiliar ones are pretty amazing. The eventual goal is to create a comprehensive catalog, or nearly so.

The site has a (broken) link to a Patreon account, so you might support the project by pledging there.

Published in: on May 18, 2015 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The last of the giants?

With these guys done, I can finally say I’ve painted all the giants minis I own. (OK, there is a pair of firbolgs, an ettin, and some Gamma World giant mutants, and a lot of trolls and ogres, but no more giants per se.) Those are mostly metal; these guys are all plastic.

First, a Dragonstrike! stone giant. A very simple sculpt, but immediately recognizable. And next to him a DFC giant. I really like these guys as frost giants.  I’d get half a dozen more if I could, and mix up the weapons a little.

plastic-gaints-2

palstic-gaints-3

Then two truly giant giants, from the Descent board-game. Mountain giants, I guess.

Descent-giantsI painted the first as a mountain giant. The pointy, elfin ears gave me the idea to paint his hair green, which sort of suggests grass or leaves; maybe he is related to the ents. The other guy might be a frost or stone giant.  I like the fairy-tale aspect to these guys.

Technically I guess I have one more giant to go because I am painting a Battlemasters ogre as a fire giant, but I was impatient to get these up on the blog.

 

Published in: on May 15, 2015 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Huh. 35,000 words.

There’s a semi-secret project I’ve been working on, on and off, for two years — actually a little more, as it grew out of an idea for another project I was just one of several contributors to. Really the bulk of the work has been finished for at least a year, and mostly sitting around while added a bit here or there and waited for my collaborator to find time to write his part. Anyway I just decided to run a word count on the current draft and it is 35,000. That’d be a respectable novella, if it were fiction. I’m kind of shocked.

I’m probably jinxing things by mentioning it publicly but I am pretty sure it will see light of day this year. All I will say about it, is that it will be D&D-related source-book but compatible with other systems too, and I read dozens of books and journal articles to research it.

 

Published in: on May 12, 2015 at 11:45 am  Comments (3)  

Book sale haul, day 2

Back to the library, this time with my brother and a friend. More goodies.

The Dark Design (Riverworld #3)

The dark design / Philip Jose Farmer. (another Riverworld novel; still waiting to start them till I get the first one)

11226442

Njal’s Saga (Penguin classics; I’ve read a lot of Viking sagas but not this one, even though it must be the most famous of them all)

763841

The song of Roland (Penguin classics)

216494

The end of the beginning /Avi (for my daughter mostly)

https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1177443078l/704178.jpg

The slynx / Tatyan Tolstaya (Looks like an interesting one: a satire about Russia, it involves an underground society, after s nuclear war, that uses mice for food, clothes, commerce, and entertainment)

Doctor Rat

Doctor rat / Willaim Kotzwinkle (another oddball; looks like something Doris Lessing would write as a follow-up for Briefing for a descent into Hell, which was a great book come to think of it)

7081881

The best of Frederic Brown (another book club edition)

and

1027003

The encyclopedia of Hell

And afterward we checked out a neat little craft beer bar with the clever name Craft Beer Bar. There we knocked a few back while opening up a grab bag of 20 more sci-fi paperbacks I got for a dollar!

There were some classics ( 2 by HG Wells, as well as Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson, A stainless steel rat is born by Harry Harrison) as well a several others I’ll give a shot; about 2/3 were dross though (Piers Anthony, number X in a series, Star Wars novels, and similar). It was a lot of fun.

The only downside is that I need to clear shelf space now. The wife strictly enforces a “one book in, one book out” policy that I have to admit is for my own good.

Published in: on May 9, 2015 at 10:58 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags:

Book sale haul, day 1

As I always try to do, I hit the “pre-sale” for Friends of the Library the other night. As usual, I was a little disgusted by all the prospectors with scanners looking for stuff to resell at a profit. I know the library gets money either way but it seems really dishonest to prey on people’s good will for the library like that; after all the stuff I buy I’ll probably donate back so someone can enjoy it for a buck or less while these vultures are sending them off to jerkwad collector, right? Yeah maybe I shouldn’t begrudge them. I guess I’m just annoyed they aren’t actually there to find things to read and enjoy. Oh well.

The cover images are all swiped from Goodreads.com, which has a surprisingly complete catalog.

I’m planning to hit it again on Saturday (probably while this post goes up). They always restock the shelves between the sale days.

Not a bad haul so far for 5 bucks:

8359940

Dragons / Hogarth & Clery (love this cover; it’s a nice illustrated miscellany on dragons)

874563

The magic of Atlantis / ed. Lin Carter (Atlantis-related tales by the usual pulp fantasy suspects — Howard, Kuttner, de Camp, etc.)

11115558

Little, big / John Crowley (a hardback in excellent condition, even though it is a “book club edition”)

462383

Return to Quag Keep / Norton & Rabe (withdrawn library copy; I would not normally bother with Norton but this does have a D&D connection and an intro by EGG)

3821856

Three Hainish novels / Le Guin (typical beat up book club edition but I like le Guin)

1293690

The dwellers on the Nile / E.A. Wallis Budge (a Dover reprint of a fairly classic book on the Egyptians; I may have read this before but I’m not sure)

11383493

Sturgeon is alive and well (stories by Theodore Sturgeon, a true master)

7858

Dead cities / Mike Davis (nonfiction about extinct and abandoned cities of modern times; looks interesting)

483992

Fantastic archaeology / Stephen Williams (about crackpot theories about North American prehistory; unfortunately I realized it has some mildew when I got it home so it will not be joining the shelves permanently; so far it’s good)

716523

The sundering flood / William Morris (a BAF paperback in good condition)

[no pic!]

Issues # 15 and 16 of Harbinger (2005) — a British miniatures magazine I’d never heard of.

Published in: on May 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags:

Troggs

Back in the early 1970s when Gygax and his buddies were improvising fantasy miniatures for their wargames and proto-D&D, plastic caveman figures stood in for ogres. Various toy companies had sets of prehistoric animals like saber-tooth tigers and mammoths that came with a handful of cavemen figures (to be their hunters, or prey, I guess). I remember my brother & I having a few cavemen that came in a set with dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals when we were kids, so it was a kick to find, among the DFC minis and knock-offs, several knock-offs of (I believe) the old Marx cavemen figures — including several I recognized from my childhood.

They are pretty similar in height the TOYCO “barbarians” or “giants” or whatever they are (like some of the other TOYCO figures, they are not really knock-offs of the DFC line at all).

Toyco-giants

So I thought they should all get a similar paint job to form a small clan.

not-marx-cavemen

None appeared to be female, although the stout one with a spear might be a child. In fact I may use more for juvenile giants than as ogres, since ogres in D&D have been getting steadily larger and broader. Really with scale creep these guys are only 7-9 feet tall at the most, compared to other figures. Interestingly they are almost exactly the size of the Grenadier AD&D hill giants that came in a blister pack. I have an extra rock-lobber from that set so I painted him in the same group too.

hill-giant-and-cavemen

Here are all four of my Grenadier “Giants” (I just realized they never actually said they were Hill Giants on the packaging. Still they are small and cave-man like, so Hill Giants seem to be the intent.)

hill-giantsI’ll probably re-base the ones on square grassy bases like the newer guy.

The Marx knock-offs were made in a waxy plastic of various colors — including orange, silver, and black — which reminds me off some plastic figures made in former Soviet republics that flooded the 1/72 scale market a few years back.  A few had bases but some did not, so I had to plant them in epoxy putty to get them to stand. All are on bases about an inch across. Larger sized bases, like the ones most of my giants and ogres are on, seemed too big.

cave-man-clan

Anyway, when my thoughts turned to what they’d be in AD&D terms, I looked through the monster manuals and noticed a relative dearth of 8 foot cavemen. The closest thing seemed to be Verbeegs, though by second edition they approach 10 feet tall. However they are barbaric and described as “unusually thin” for their height. The cavemen certainly are thin compared to regular D&D minis, since these guys use human proportions rather than the cartoony proportions that most D&D and fantasy figures have. (Even Tom Meier’s sculpts for Ral Partha, which are unusually realistic, have noticeably over-sized hands and heads; most other sculptors have totally given up on realism in favor of the convention that features be exaggerated to make up for the small scale.) The illustrations for Verbeegs are barrel-chested, though some descriptions of Vergbeegs in later editions of D&D modify the descriptions to either downplay their thinness or explain the look by saying they wear multiple layers of furs and clothes, perhaps to hide their slimness.

Cyclopskin would be another reasonable option, but I have other small cyclopes and didn’t want to alter these guys too much. So under-dressed Verbeegs they will be. Or I’ll just stat them up as oversized Neanderthals, or “Troggs”:

Troggs

Mv: 12″; AC: as leather + shield; HD: 4+4; Dam: d10 or by weapon; Save: as F5

Troggs are large cave dwellers, perhaps distantly related to humans. Their material culture is very primitive, and they wear only furs and skins. Some wear decorations like animal teeth or other trophies strung on sinew. They make crude weapons, such as clubs, axes, and spears. These generally do d6 damage, plus 4 for their great strength.  Alternatively they throw rocks for d10 damage at a range of up to 120 feet. They live in clans of 2d6 members; d8x10% will be juveniles (2 HD). The womenfolk usually are armed with flint knives which cause d4 damage, plus 4 for their great strength. Each clan has a leader with 7 HD and who saves as 7th level fighter. One clan in four will have a shaman who casts spells as 5th level druid and saves as 5th level cleric. One clan in six will also have a champion who has maximum HP and fights and saves as a 7th level fighter. They are not necessarily man-eaters but tend to be surly and easily provoked to fight or flight. They fear elves and will attempt to flee from them, but if forced to fight will focus their attacks on them if there are non-elves also fighting. They hate ogres and attack them on sight. Their treasure is usually negligible but some clans  will have a magic item or book that they consider a sacred talisman (50& chance of each). They will not willing part with such a talisman unless offered something spectacular (to their primitive minds) in trade.

troggs

Published in: on May 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The year of the sunken OPD

I thought I was being all clever submitting a sunken tower for this year’s One Page Dungeon contest, and now that the full list of entries is up I see FOUR other “sunken” entries — another tower, a pyramid, spires, and a ship. Though the ship is only semi-sunken. Great minds think alike, right? Or is it sick minds run it the same gutters? Something like that. Though really the idea of a structure that has sunk or been buried is not exactly something new under the sun.

There is also a “panopticon” entry this year. I’ll be watching that one with interest, since I entered a panopticon a couple of years ago and I’d like to see another take on one.

Published in: on May 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags:

Paper Dragon

ROOOOOOAAAAHHRRR!

ROOOOOOAAAAHHRRR!

Here’s a paper dragon I made a couple of years ago for my kid’s Halloween festival — one of the stations along the “pumpkin walk” was to be a Chinese pagoda. We made a couple of pagoda silhouettes out of cardboard, and the teacher wore a nifty traditional Chinese costume. (Cue asshole parent council member repeatedly referring to the costume as a “geisha” and questioning why we wanted dress a teacher as a prostitute. No, really. Sigh.)

Anyway the dragon was made out of triangles of paper cut by my wife from her stock of scrapbooking paper and glued in place on a piece of cardboard. Overall, the dragon is maybe eight feet long and 1.5 feet tall. It came out looking pretty cool, I thought, and I didn’t have the heart to throw the thing into the recycle bin until last weekend, but at least I captured a few photos of it in case I ever need to make another.

dragon1

Published in: on April 30, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,
A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

hosercanadian

Miniature Motivation

CFallsGamer

Geek Gaming Goodness

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.

Cirsova

An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Documenting the 8-bit era and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

daggerandbrush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain creation and more

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Fractalbat

A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

tenfootpole.org

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

300 stories

A continuing mission to produce flash fiction stories in 300 words (or less)

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer

I play games and sometimes I write things about them. Geek, dad, husband, gamer, and amateur carpenter, in that order.

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Where the Wild Things Aren't

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

HUGE RUINED PILE

A vast castle built by generations of mad wizards and insane geniuses.

inthecitiesdotcom

Just another WordPress.com site

Bunker Club 55

Another Dump of Stuff for your RPGs, D&D, Microlite 20, OSR

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"

chieflyill

gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

Metropollywog

Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

pipeandscotchdm

Tabletop gaming, Dungeon-Mastering, pipesmoking, and single malts

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

KEEP ROLLIN' SIXES

Tales from South Zierden Alley

Wrathofzombie's Blog

A blog of Role-playing Dorkiness!

Atroll's Entertainment

A Troll's Account of Having Fun

Three Lil Pigs Painting

talking about painting miniatures for display and heritage figures

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 254 other followers

%d bloggers like this: