2019, minis painted to date

I’ve had a handful of productive days painting, in spite of everything.

On my birthday, I finally painted the infamous Ral Partha three-headed troll!

It is a bit of a testament to Tom Meier’s skill as a sculptor that when I uploaded a photo of this on Ye Faces Booke, I was asked to tag Curly and Larry!

I decided to also paint a Ral Partha AD&D ettin. I already had one from many years ago, so I painted this one red, after the fairy tale Red Ettin (which had three heads, but who’s counting?)

And here’s a group shot all the ettins I’ve painted to date. The tan ettin has the oldest paint job, though the green one (Grenadier) is my oldest and was repainted when I was in college some 25 years ago.

Next up, a Grenadier dragon. He came in a lot of old minis and needed a new passenger side front claw. A spare bit from a GW cold one sufficed. Because the color scheme is so simple he hardly took any time to finish.

That same lot had a bunch of really old dungeon dressing, mostly from Grenadier’s old Wizzards & Warriors line.

Two small statues that reminded me of Tikis:

A couple of thrones or chairs. I believe they’re from the same “temple” set, but have what I can only assume are Indic naga figures on the backs.

A pair of altars. Scale creep is real. On the left, a Reaper Bones altar; on the right, the Grenadier W&W altar. The demonic figure behind the small altar is a bit shorter than a typical man-sized 25mm miniature.

Next, a few piles of bullion from the Grenadier W&W treasure room set. I have a another pile that came as a “bonus” in a set of supervillian villains from Grenadier.

And these are pretty cool. On the right, an iron maiden (also Grenadier W&W) and on the left, a mystery figure that seems to have been a “bonus” mini in certain Grenadier “Encounter …” boxed sets. Several other pieces from the Encounter at Lloth-Komar were in the lot, and a FB group member asserts he got the same piece in his set, so maybe it’s just in that one.

This next piece is a hammer from the board game “Dark World” mounted as a Spiritual Hammer spell. That spell has often featured in our D&D games so it will be nice to have a way to keep track of it.

Another quickie paint job is this Reaper silver dragon. This too came it a big lot I bought online, and luckily with all its pieces.

Back to the scenery, here’s a Minifigs Valley of the Four Winds figure: man impaled on tree. The VFW line is pretty great, and this one — from 1978 — is pretty unsettling. The humans in that range tend to be either in baroque armor from an Ian Miller drawing or 19th century finery. This chap has a high collared jacket and spats!

Also from Lloth-Komar: a dragon statue.

Next up a couple of fun items scavenged from bits and parts. Inspired by the 1980s Michael Caine thriller “The Hand,” I took a bunch of spare hands from a plastic kit and made a swarm of hands.

I also found an unidentifiable pair of hands that probably go to a scale model. The other hand holds a gun. But the clenched fist screams Bigby’s Hand spells, so I painted it up as one.

For scale, next to the wizard form last update.

The greenish paint you may have noticed on the spells is a GW “technical” paint I bought on a lark. I decided to try it on some spirits I recently acquired. On the left, a Grenadier ghost. There is another version with a less fluttery cloak and base, and I have a few of those, so I decided to put this one on a wire like it’s floating. Next to it is a Minifigs Sword & Sorcery line ghoul.

On the far left, a Wizzards & Warriors wraith. The other two are later versions of the wraith/ghost. They don’t really lean to the side, that is an artifact of taking a photo close up with my phone. I have a lot of ghosts and wraiths painted various shades of grey, black, or white, so I figured I’d add a little color.

I was really pleased to find this tree man (“Tree with arms and face”) from the VFW line. His companions are a couple of tree stumps made out of polymer clay, and will naturally serve as casualty markers for ents.

These two were fun. On the left, a toilet mimic, made of soft rubber and probably from a gumball machine. I inserted a wire for stability and painted a few layers of Mod Podge on it to make it a bit more stable and keep the paint from flaking off. The chest is just a plastic piece from a Weapons and Warriors game. I keep finding components to the games I picked up on clearance when Kay Bee went under 10 or 12 years ago.

These are a couple of pillars from Citadel’s Fantasy Specials line. You never can have too many pillars.

Another mini that somehow took me about thirty-five years to paint is this table from the Grenadier AD&D “Wizard’s room” set. Next to it is a scratch-built flying carpet made form epoxy putty. There’s a 1″ x 1″ flat space on it for a mini to occupy. I meant to eventually make all the possible sizes of flying carpets from the DMG but never got inspired.

I especially like the little lizard behind the skull candle holder.

Lastly, a ballista which I am unsure of the origins of. The lot it came in had both Roman and Orc crew from Grenadier, and a catapult, so maybe Grenadier. It’s quite large though, so maybe some other company. I added the string (a bit of thread).

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Published in: on March 9, 2019 at 9:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Quote of the day, perhaps applicable to current events

“If a man has character, he has also his typical experience, which always recurs.”

— Beyond good and evil,  Aphorism 70, F.W. Nietzsche.

Published in: on February 12, 2019 at 9:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Fantasy Wargaming : the audiobook

This is some very old news, but I’ve just noticed a DAISY version of the venerable early roleplaying game Fantasy Wargaming available for borrowing from the Internet Archive! DAISY, for those unfamiliar with it, is a “talking book” format developed for people with disabilities that prevent them from using printed books, such as blindness, dyslexia, and so forth. So really a DAISY book is much more than an audiobook (which would be a recording reading of a book). The DAISY format allows much more sophisticated manipulation of the text, both as audio (changing reading speeds, using searches or indexes, and so forth) as well as including image files for low-vision users needing larger displays. you will need to create an account to “borrow” it from the Internet Archive. I have not actually tested the DAISY file, and it is certainly easier for someone who can read a standard format book to obtain a copy (going for as little $5 on Amazon last I checked). But it’s pretty cool that someone took the time to make this book accessible to folks with disabilities.

Published in: on January 16, 2019 at 3:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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2019? Impossible

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, and I’ve had a lot going on. I did manage to paint a few more miniatures. Some of the photos include a penny for scale since I posted the pics to social media where not everyone knows what the hell these are.

Click pix to embiggen.

First up, some undead rising. I had a bunch of spare parts from some kits so I cobbled them together with gravestones made of bits of matte board. I’ll need to flock the bases some day.

Next up, some barbarians. The two on the left are plastic, from board games, while the two on the right are metal. The big guy is a spoof of Thrudd the Barbarian (himself a spoof of Conan), while the little guy is a VERY old Ral Partha sculpt from when 25mm scale meant 1/72 scale. He’s now sold as a “young barbarian” and still in production! I had an older casting from a box set but it was one of the many lost in a tragic incident I’ve mentioned before.

Next up a couple of plant monsters from the TSR line of AD&D minis.  I don’t remember what they are called but they sure were easy to paint.

Nextly, some GW Horrors of Tzeentch. They should only be pink or blue per the Warhammer fluff but I thought I’d mix em up. A couple needed tails, which a cheap plastic dinosaur donated (one has the actual tail and the other has a leg as a tail). A WotC “ravening maw” is crashing their party too.

The “musician” is easily my favorite. Very Boschian.

Ole Birdy is cool too.

Gotta love Pinky and his asymmetrical eyes.

The maw was missing an arm, but a plastic dinosaur supplied a replacement.

Finally, some random minis — a Reaper succubus, yet another plastic barbarian, and a really old Ral Partha necromancer.

The ole Schnozzola!

 

Published in: on January 4, 2019 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bards and stuff

I’m still not painting as regularly as I’d like, but here’s a few I did in the past month. All still need their bases finished.

First, a bard that I’ve had for about 35 years. He came in the “Woodland adventurers” box.IMG_20181004_231821841

Here he is with the rest of the band. The harpist is another Grenadier AD&D bard (from the “Specialists” box) and the lute-player is from one of the MPC “Action Scenes” kits, which had hard plastic figures based on the Grenadier designs (her lead counterpart is a mirror image though and less ape-like in appearance).

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The two horn-players are (left) a plastic Zvedza musician and on the right a Ral Partha trumpeter. Not exactly bards but I kind of like the idea of bard with a huge horn like that.

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Here they are announcing a Chronopia bronze golem.

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The white orbs should probably be painted as gem stones, which I might do later.

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And two Reaper Bones selkies.

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Published in: on October 30, 2018 at 12:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Ogres, ish

Three “ogres” I painted for my nephew. For his seventh birthday he wanted me to paint some ogres for him. How could I say no? So I finally got some painting done after a much too long hiatus!

I picked up some Reaper Bones minis that looked like they’d fit his idea of an ogre (green, big, & strong). The biggest guy is actually supposed to be a hill giant and the trollish guy a troll. I really like some of the details on the true ogre — his club has a screaming face on it, and his armor looks crudely thrown together from whatever he could scrounge.  Click pictures to embiggen. Sorry about the lack of focus, still figuring out my newish phone.

I’m hoping that being plastic they won’t break too easily. I decided not to go crazy with the detailing since he’ll probably smash them up playing anyway.

Published in: on September 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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Fuck cancer

Ns Olah passed away yesterday after a year with pancreatic cancer. (Ns is short for Nicholas, he had a bunch of other eccentric abbreviations for his name over the years, N’s, N’k, Nik, etc.) I met Ns in college, maybe 25 years ago, and last saw him in person about ten years ago at an Origins gaming convention, though we occasionally chatted by email or Facebook since then. Ns was always the kindest, funniest, most enthusiastic person in the room, and was joking right up until the end, signing off of Facebook to enter at-home hospice with “Smoke ’em if you got ’em folks.” His incredible attitude about what he knew full well was a terminal diagnosis gave a lot of us hope that he’d beat the odds. He’s been memorialized much more eloquently by people who got to spend more time with him and know him better than I did. He probably had hundreds of people who counted him as a friend. He treated everyone he met as one, and the world really needs more people like him. I knew him mainly through gaming but he had many passions, including bicycling, and he’s profiled and interviewed here on one of his last big rides. I can give him no better tribute than to ask others to listen to what he has to say.

 

Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  

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.

Published in: on September 18, 2018 at 10:59 am  Comments (2)  
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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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