The Oakhurst Marauders’ Core Values and Mission Statement

     Though I haven’t really blogged about it, my gaming group was in an ACKS campaign my brother ran a good four years ago. I found this old post draft and updated it for grammar (past tenses). I really ought to find our adventure logs for that campaign. It petered out too soon, due to non-game responsibilities. 
Any effective organization knows its mission and core values. Adventuring parties are no different. One such party became known as the Oakhurst Marauders. We were exploring the Barrowmaze (about 50% inside the dungeon and 50% in the village of Oakhurst and the town of Wolverton; I’m not sure if they are part of the module or not).  Five sessions in, one PC and maybe a dozen hired hands had died. The party had done some pretty terrible things, if you look at them objectively, but of course we were provoked and felt more like vigilantes than robbers. One player, who at the time was new to group, deciphered our party’s moral compass, and below are the core values he’s identified for our party:
  1. Clerics are for wusses.
  2. Everyone is expendable but me.
  3. When in doubt: escalate.
  4. Authority Aushmority.
  5. Always act on the assumption that there should be no surviving witnesses.
  6. Kill first, we don’t remember the question.
  7. Dungeoncrawling with minimum armor for minimum wage is what you get for not finishing fighter-school.
  8. Dak [the barbarian and only fighter type] enters rooms first, at least until we run out of healing compresses.
  9. We don’t check for traps.  That’s why the hirelings are at the front of the marching order.  The hirelings do not need to know this at time of hire.
  10. If you make us bribe you, we will eventually screw you.

Another player condensed these values into a mission statement to help keep us on track.

The Oakhurst Marauders’ Mission Statement

The mission of the Oakhurst Marauders is to enrich themselves at the expense of the hired help, frustrate the lawful desires of the local constabulary, to always strive to test the theoretical limits of a ‘Bag of Holding,’ and to allow for the continuing personal development of war dogs by putting them unnecessarily in harm’s way.  Also, to burn things.

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Published in: on September 18, 2018 at 10:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Ten years of Swords & Dorkery!

Posting has dropped off some, especially in the last couple of years as I navigated a new job in academia, the end of my marriage, and a move. But today marks the tenth anniversary of this blog, which has led me to some great friends online and off, pushed me to publish some gaming stuff both online and in print, and generally been a blast.

Ten years ago, I started this blog to document a project I was working on, having been inspired by someone else who was working on similar project: to revive the old “Paint & Play” dungeon crawl games produced by Heritage Models USA in the early 1980s. The blog had a different title for the first month or so (and I’m actually drawing a blank on what it was, something like “Heritage Dungeon Project,” though I used to see it on some blogrolls years after changing it). Within the first year it moved beyond being a showcase for my crudely painted miniatures and maps as I began to engage the “old school revival” in RPGs. I used it to chronicle a pair of D&D campaigns I ran, and post reviews and appreciations of books, movies, and music. More recently I went back to posting photos of miniatures, as I found time to paint again, and while I may never return to the rate of posting I managed for a couple of years at the beginning of the decade, I hope to continue posting as I find time.

It’s hard to tell how many visits the site gets any more, because WordPress can’t seem to count how often the mobile app version that Google hosts is accessed. I’m sure visits dropped off due to lack of posting, but I’m always pleasantly surprised by the number of views per day, which hovers around a couple hundred.

I don’t make anything off the ads which WordPress inserts, but I suppose it pays for the site, which WP also doesn’t charge me for. I did however make a few bucks from the sale of my book, at least some of which must be traceable to the blog. The blog has also been my entry point into the “gift economy” of the OSR, and I’ve gotten several small collections of wanted lead figures from readers and sent out figures, books, and other stuff, as well finding buyers or trades for other things, which has been nice. I hope the stuff I make for free (which is the vast majority of the content) entertains or is useful.

I’m always shocked by the number of follows the blog has too, though I know some are random bloggers who follow in hopes of reciprocal follows to boost their ad revenue, and lately I’ve been getting a few follows a week from Outlook addresses that look a bit scammy to me. Speaking of which, the only real downside to the blog has been finding my pages and posts copied without credit or link on other sites — mostly sites selling herbal remedies, real estate opportunities, or other scams. One Russian site claimed to offer a PDF of my book for free, and no doubt delivered a virus-laden file to anyone unwary enough to try it. There’s another “4CHAN” type site that appears to illegally post game pdfs too, and at some point my book was posted there too. Sigh.

Anyway thanks for reading, whoever you are!

Published in: on August 25, 2018 at 8:00 am  Comments (8)  

The Fantasy Trip

There’s currently a Kickstarter to republish the long out-of-print ancestor of GURPS: The Fantasy Trip.

I was really into GURPS for quite a while, ever since I got the Man to Man book (a sort of “preview” of GURPS published as a stand-alone arena game). I lost a lot of enthusiasm for GURPS when the complexity grew to the point that their were separate books for players and GMs. I saw the ads for Melee and Wizard in Dragon magazines back in the day but never saw them is stores or had any idea what they were about. When the first edition of GURPS was published (as a boxed set with two stapled booklets that did not even have covers!) there was something about The Fantasy Trip (TFT) in the introduction but I didn’t pay any heed. I finally learned about the game in the late 1990s or early 2000s when some fan sites started posting scans of the rules. Intriguing, but GURPS was already filling that niche and why go backward, right?

When I heard Steve Jackson reacquired the rights to TFT, I was a little excited and convinced my gaming group to test out Advanced Melee — the combat system from TFT with no frills. We liked it quite a bit.

So I’m pretty excited about the Kickstarter, because there is the option to subscribe for a seriously packed “Legacy Edition” boxed set that includes the minigames Melee and Wizard, the full RPG In the Labyrinth with three modules, and a lot of extras like play mats drawn by Dyson, a GM screen, and dice (“I want it all” level) plus possibly more stretch goal add-ons.

I really like TFT‘s simplicity.

  • The basic mechanics are rolling under a stat or score on 3d6, with possibly more or fewer dice depending on the difficulty of the task.
  • Weapons all do fixed ranges of damage, with strength just counting for hit points and allowing use of bigger weapons. This seemed like a terrible idea to me at first, but it has grown on me.
  • Characters advance more like GURPS than D&D: XP are used to buy new talents/skills/spells or increase attributes.
  • Characters can do fairly superhuman things eventually, but they can also always get killed by lesser foes who are lucky or clever.

The reports on longer campaigns seem to emphasize that the mechanics, being simple, tend to take a back seat to story, but being so tactical they also allow dramatic action for combat. Sounds like a winner. My only concern is how much ‘planning’ is necessary in character generation. I never liked 3e D&D for that reason — your choices early on tend to drive what your options are later. But TFT does have some “unlearning” rules, at least for spells IIRC, so it may bem ore flexible than it looks.

Now, if I can figure out a way to tack on some version of the miracle-based clerical magic in my own book

Published in: on August 6, 2018 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Selling out

Not sure when it happened but I just found out my book has officially sold out on the Melsonian Arts Council site. I do know for a fact that some hard copies can still be found for at brick and mortar stores (Weird Realms had a copy last time I was there!), and maybe someone or other is still lugging copies to conventions along with other Lost Pages products. But the last of the print copies for sale online are gone. You can still get the pdf through Drive Through RPG though.  I’m not sure when, or if, it will have another printing, though I am hopeful I will be able to create a companion volume and/or revised edition at some point in the future  when/if things settle down in my personal and professional life…

 

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier Supplement

Terence Gunn is at it again, Kickstarting a supplement to his book on Grenadier Models. You can follow the link below. It looks like it will be an archive of photographs that did not make into the first book, plus some special articles, an interview with publicist Kim Eastland, and a reprint of the entire run of Grenadier Bulletins published in the 80s and 90s.

If you missed the The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier book, you can also get a copy of that by pledging a bit more. Well worth it if you like old lead.

There’s only a week to go!

 

Published in: on May 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Neologisms VI

It’s been a minute. Almost all my figures and gaming stuff are packed up in anticipation of moving, and my job has been pretty brutal of sucking up all my free time. But I’ve finally compiled a few more neologisms. The second was coined intentionally by a friend, but other two are repurposed typos, which are my favorite kind of neologism.

obscore (obscure + score) n. A composition by an obscure composer. adj. Relatively unknown, as a composer.  You wouldn’t believe the obscore pieces on the symphony’s program this month. This is first time any of them have been performed.

queerum n. (queer + quorum)  The minimum number of players required to avoid canceling game night. If John and Richard can’t make it, we won’t have a queerum and D&D is off this week.

sarchasm n. (sarcasm + chasm) The feeling of alienation that arises when one’s sarcastic remarks are taken literally. I can’t talk to him anymore, the sarchasm is too great.

 

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mounted adventurers

Here are a few mounted characters I painted recently, all plastic. It’s been slow going but I hope to get all the figures I have which are suitable for mounted PCs done next. Of course there are way too many knights, they’ll mostly wait.

Left to right, a cleric, “prince,” and barbarian.

The cleric is just a knight from the BattleMasters game, his lance swapped out for a flail. The shield is (obviously) my crude free-hand of a lion rampant. I need to look into transfers.

The “prince” is from a set of castle-building blocks I got for my birthday one year. He seemed way too big for use with minis when I got it, long before scale creep.  Back in the 80s he would have been a hill giant or something, but now he’s pretty average. The details were pretty crude and I wasn’t sure if primer would adhere to the soft, glossy plastic, but a coat of gesso seems to have done the trick. He could be a bard, magic-user, or fancy thief. I have a handful of mounted  demihumans, but first I’ll focus on the remaining humans that don’t look like fighters. more to come.

The barbarian is cobbled together from the body and legs of a Lionheart “mercenary,” arms and head from the spare parts that came with a box of GW chaos marauders, and a horse of unknown origins that I got in a bag of spare parts at a convention. The horse is extremely barrel-chested and I had to break the mercenary’s already very bowlegged pose to fit. I tried to give him some Appaloosa type markings (dark spots on the hindquarters that only really show when the horse’s fur is wet). I’m surprised I didn’t have any mounted barbarians in my collection, though I have a dozen Rohirrim that usually serve. The problem with them is that they’re all quite similar, since they were for the LOTR wargame.

Anyway back to the castle blocks. The set was called “Exin Castillos” and had instructions in a number of languages. The box was a hexagonal cylinder. It seemed very exotic at the time and I wish I’d managed to keep together some of the parts that came in it. A few bits survive in my terrain: the portcullis found its way onto a castle, and some low wall sections I glued together for wargames, and that’s pretty much it. The princess (who, if I thought of it at the time, would have made a good giantess) was dismembered to make a prow for a Man’o’War ship. I believe there was also a ghost in the set, and I remember seeing a guard with a halberd on the box art but there wasn’t one inside the box.  A little googling turned up this excellent collector’s site (in Spanish).

 

Published in: on February 25, 2018 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Free hugs!

I had a meeting in Cleveland so I took advantage of the chance to check out a hobby shop I’d heard about — Warzone-Matrix (no link, the website has been neglected for nearly 10 years and the Facebook page looks like it’s been hijacked by 9/11 conspiracy buffs; Google it and see the reviews and photos there). In fact I first heard about it when an acquaintance from overseas mentioned he wanted to check it out when he was passing through the States. I confused it with another shop, or else a version of it from long enough ago it bears no resemblance to what I found last month. What I thought it was, was a basic wargaming type shop with current games. What it actually is, is treasure trove of stuff old and new. It was strongest on RPGs and board games, but had a fair amount of miniatures stuff, and I found a couple of TSR blister packs. One was, sadly, showing lead rot; I got this one instead:

They’re both mounted on fender washers for stability. They follow the TSR tradition of packaging seemingly unrelated monsters together, but as both kill by grabbing you, there is a weak theme.

The roper needed a little more animation, and I bent his tentacles as much as I dared (they were all splayed straight out). He really looks like he wants to give someone a hug.

Being monsters, they painted up really fast and looked pretty good for an otherwise middling line.

Published in: on February 5, 2018 at 1:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I missed the moon!

Sadly clouds this morning in my area, so I missed the moon. Also I was misinformed that the super blue blood moon would be tonight, not this morning. Ugh.

As you will know, the moon was extra puffy today, which astrologers call a “super moon.” This is because it has grown visibly larger. Rotund even. Please be respectful and don’t stare, it’s been a rough time for the moon lately.

As you will also know, it was a bleu moon. This means the Penicillium always present in the cheesy crust of the moon’s surface has grown particularly densely and literally changes the coloring of the moon. So the moon would look blue, except is it also bloody from a savage beating it’s gotten from an unnamed heavenly body or bodies. The red blood and bleu cheese left the moon looking purplish. You don’t see that every day.

We will not get the puffy, purple moon again for something like 200 years.

Published in: on January 31, 2018 at 2:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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Makin’ bacon : Pig-faced orcs

Pig-faced orcs (“Porcs,” as they prefer not to be called) have been having a minor renaissance lately.

OSR bloggers were talking about them for while; the most compelling look at the origins of the pig-faced orc for my money is here, but I’ve also read that there was some sort of miscommunication between writer Gary Gygax and illustrator David Sutherland which led the best know example in the Monster Manual.  Not sure where I first heard that either. Another theory holds that the Tolkien calendar for 1977 by the brothers Hildebrandt introduced pig-faced orcs, but honestly the orcs in that calendar don’t look very pig-like to me for the most part. I think Zhu is on the right track with the Disney goons (See also Telecanter’s Receding Rules;  Sword & Shield; Realm of Zhu 1 and 2 ; TOTFF; Greyhawk Grognard; Grognardia).

For a long time the only ones available would be the old Minifigs AD&D line.

But several manufacturers put them back into production — Otherworld starting the trend in 2010, which inspired several of the blog posts already linked above  (Casting Room; Otherworld; Splintered Light; and yes Minifigs has them mostly back in production too!).

I was not really a fan of pig-faced orcs back in the day, since I came to D&D after being exposed to Tolkien. But more recently they’ve grown on me, and while I couldn’t justify buying any more orc figures (I have scores unpainted and literally an army of them painted) I thought about doing some conversions on my own. But then I saw the incredible workmanship over at Belched from the Depths and got cold feet. No way am I sculpting anything near that standard. More recently I saw a simple conversion on a Facebook page (and who can ever find something again in that Book of Sand?) and I could at least copy that. So I took some plastic orcs that were unlikely to be painted any time soon and tried making snoots from epoxy putty. They are just tiny balls pressed onto the nose, with the tip flattened and nostrils made by poking the end with bit of florist wire. The only thing I forgot to do was make one an obvious leader. I have a plastic GW “black orc” that should fit the bill though. For reference here’s the basic plastic orc as I painted one some time ago:

A small, somewhat ape-like nose typical of GW.

And here are the pig-faced versions (I also did some weapon swaps from other kits for variety, and gave some shield bosses).

The yellow and purple shields will likely get decals from the BattleMasters game on their shields.

Finally some Grenadier UK plastic orcs:

For reference, here are some I painted in the usual manner, and with their shields.

Both the pig-faced spearmen had their weapons modified; a third is below:

This guy could be the shaman of the tribe, and will be the leader for now.

Lastly a couple of metal orcs (Ghost Miniatures, the fantasy arm of Old Glory Miniatures) that I painted along similar lines, though I left their noses as they were. They might be half-orcs from the tribe.

Published in: on January 24, 2018 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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