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…

 

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Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Advent Die Geburt Krampuskind

Just noticed my #shamelesscommerce in the last few posts is being frustrated by the fact that the publisher’s site is down (though you can still cop a pdf at DTRP). Anyway here’s another seasonal repost. <Update — new site to buy it in hard copy>

nat-der-kra-2

In just eighteen days we’ll be celebrating the nativity of the Krampuskind!

Left to right we see a manger animal (Reaper Miniatures), an angel (Ral Partha), Krampusjoseph (Heritage Models), the Krampuskind (Dollar Tree),  Krampusmary and two magi (all Metal Magic), and a third magi (Grenadier).

Krampus gloriam in excelsis!

Amen!

Click the image below to embiggen…

nativity der krampuskind

Published in: on December 7, 2017 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy feast day, Saint Nicholas, wherever you are (or, This is clearly not a repost to remind people buy The Poor Pilgrim’s Almanack, but now that you mention it, it makes a great gift!)

Readers of my book will know that St. Nicholas has a grave in Myrna, Turkey, a tomb in Kilkenny, Ireland, and shrines in Bari and Venice, Italy — each of the Italian shrines containing fully one half of his skeleton. He also has a sacred cave near Bethlehem and an island named after him which is known for its ever-sharp tools. I assume there are suitable festivities going on in all those places right now, December 6th, his feast day. Among his miracles are saving ships from storms and raising three boys who had been mummified* from the dead.

Image result for st nicholas

*or pickled, in some versions of the story.

#shamelesscommerce

 

Published in: on December 6, 2017 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Maybe you’re on the market for a piece of the True Cross?

Well then you’re in luck. (Link to catalog listing where you can request a quote.)

But wouldn’t you rather get your relics the old-fashioned way — plundering catacombs?

If so, you should buy The Poor Pilgrim’s Alamanck. Tons of information to help you add relics, miracles, pilgrimage, and catacombs to your D&D game.

Makes a great gift for Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, birthdays, Hanukkah (buy eight!), or Decemberween.

 

Published in: on December 2, 2017 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

No elf rangers or druids

I could probably develop this into a more detailed and nuanced argument, but here goes with some thoughts as I kill ten minutes at my desk, when I should be on my way home but have an after-hours union meeting to wait around for.

Just a contrarian thought. Elves always seem to be a go-to choice for rangers because most versions of D&D give rangers some extra skill with bows, and elves have bonuses to hit with long bows at least in AD&D. Rangers are also associated with the outdoors, and elves love nature, right?

Going back to the first instance of rangers in a D&D manual (the AD&D PHB), we just have this laconic description before jumping into their abilities and powers: “Rangers are a sub-class of fighter who are adept at woodcraft, tracking, scouting, and infiltration and spying.” Their powers revolve around killing “giant class” monsters (generally speaking, humanoids/goblinoids, and not including giants but including ogres and trolls), tracking, and some spells. Their increased chance of surprise would make them pretty deadly with bows under first edition surprise rules. But apart from limited druid spells and attracting woodland followers, I’m not really seeing the nature-loving aspect to them. They look a lot more like Tolkien’s rangers, who protected mankind by patrolling the frontiers. Rambo more than Robin Hood.

Why would elves be protectors of mankind? The first edition restriction that elves can not be rangers makes sense in this light, especially if you mix in some of the Poul Anderson ideas about elves being not so friendly to humans.

D&D druids are fleshed out a bit more, but the basic idea is that they are throwbacks to Celtic druids (as described by Julius Caesar?), and worship trees, the sun, and moon. Bearing in mind that AD&D elf characters are always high elves, the shouldn’t be druids. Druids sound rather backward; a refined elven culture certainly wouldn’t be worshiping nature directly, but would have developed a pantheon of gods, as we see in Deities & Demigods. Even if wood elves are allowed per Unearthed Arcana and post-1st edition versions of D&D, wood elves don’t seem any wilder or more primitive than high elves, just different.

Druids are tied, minimally, to a certain kind of semi-barbaric human civilization. (OK, barbaric according to Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, which was propaganda, but we’re buying the myth anyway by making them tree-worshipers). Elves are not Celts or Gauls. Rangers are also tied to human civilization, as a sort of frontier defender of humans. Again, not a role you would see taken by up non-humans.

In this light, half-elf rangers make a little more sense (and really half-orc rangers make more sense than elves, while we’re at it) — half-human outcasts might be deployed to the frontiers, hidden from prejudiced eyes and laboring to defend a wold they are not really accepted by.

So whenever I see people say it just “makes sense” to allow elves to be rangers and druids, I shake my head. It makes sense only if you divorce those classes from they actually represent and focus solely on the “nature” part of their roles. But both classes actually serve humanity; they simply do so on the fringes of civilization, in the wilds.

 

 

Published in: on December 1, 2017 at 4:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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Sea monsters

When I was painting up all those pirates and swashbucklers over the summer, I also tried to pull together all the aquatic monsters in my colleciton. It turns out there weren’t all that many unless I count plastic and rubber animals which could be giant crabs, octopodes, sharks, and that sort of thing. Here’s what I did have to paint.

A Reaper marsh troll, a TSR scrag, and Grenadier sahuagin. I spent the most time on the sahuagin, since he’s got a lot of gear, and the Monster Manual description mentions that they are lighter in front, and dark in the back, which makes sense for a fish-man; really almost all animals are lighter on their bellies/undersides and darker on top, as camouflage in the water. I think land animals might retain that as a leftover from evolution. The eyes are described as shiny and black (dead eyes like a doll?) so I just put a couple of dots of white to suggest a glint. The troll I painted similarly.  I believe I read that sahuagin leaders are larger, so the marsh troll is especially suitable on that count, though he should maybe have some equipment.

Before doing those guys, I also painted a pair of mermaids (clear plastic drink hangers), a merman (some kind of rubbery gumball machine toy) and another scrag.

Not sea-related but I also repainted a MageKnight figure that I assume is some kind of night hag on a nightmare. I think that’s some kind of organ she’s hurling. A little big for a heart … maybe it was supposed to be a fireball?

 

Published in: on November 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Minotaur, ettins, more sneaky hobbitses (We hates them forever!)

On the left, an Asgard halfling; right, a Reaper minotaur by Sandra Garrity. The only thing these two have in common (apart from being painted the same night) is that both were purchased at conventions. The halfling was purchased at Neovention, a fairly big convention that used to be mostly held at the University of Akron. I went to it once or twice in the late 1980s with my brother and some friends, and vaguely recall buying some loose miniatures including this halfling and some furniture that might have been old Citadel stuff. The minotaur I picked up for a buck (!) at Origins maybe ten years ago. The same vendor had some old TSR miniatures (I bought a bunch of them) and various other clearances figures.

Here’s another view of the minotaur next to a Heritage man-at-arms for scale.

Next up two Grenadier ettins. I painted the green one maybe 10-15 years ago. Green because he’s a bit short for an ettin but reasonable for a two-headed troll. He’s also one of the few figures I tried stippling on, to increase the depth of his relatively smooth limbs. The other one I painted more recently. He looks a lot more stooped because I never tried to straighten him out — the green one has had his ankles broken and reglued many times because I tried bending him and the leas just snapped. A lot of Grenadier castings were fairly brittle. I’ve read that they used lead from a lot of sources, including printer’s type, and maybe that had something to do with it.

Finally, two more sneaky hobbits! On the left, a halfing from the Kenzer & Co.’s Hackmaster line (now produced by Ral Partha/Iron Wind). On the right, a halfling sniper from the Grenadier Woodland Adventurers box.

Almost all of the Hackmaster minis I have I bought another time at Origins. The Kenzer booth had loose minis relatively cheaply (I bought one of every type of PC they had; no monsters at that time). The guys also gave me and my brother free copies of the Hackmaster PHB; I think Tom bought the DMG.

The Woodland Adventurers were a Christmas gift in 1981 or 82. There were a few repeats of figures in other sets, I think, but overall a great variety of elves, gnomes, and similar.

Published in: on November 21, 2017 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Barbarians, halflings, and some monsters

Here’s a real grab bag.

A few barbarians I hadn’t posted yet. Two from Asgard (Viking Forge recasts):

This one sort of replaces a figure I lost … not really sure when. But at one point I had this and a similar unarmored and beardless dude which is no longer in production. Both originally came with a selection of weapons (hand axes, swords, shield, bow and arrows maybe?) but I got mine second hand so I’m not positive what was originally theirs. Anyway I had to give him a different sword than the rather chunky one that he came with, because his hands are tiny, almost Trump-like.

Next up is another Asgard/VF barbarian, fairly traditional.

This guy is a MageKnight figure, and honestly not the best in terms of pose, detail, and proportions. But he’ll work as Chaos Thug or something.

TSR’s Conan the king. The axe is a replacement. He’s probably the worst figure in the set — he came with a neat Thak the Ape (which probably was the main reason my brother bought the set) and a decent Thoth-Amon, as well as an excellent  vampiress and a couple of serpent things.

 

A couple of random monsters, both Grenadier. On the left, a Vegetation Beast, from the Fragon Lords “Horrors of the Marsh” set. This was a rather odd set — it had great work by John Dennett, but for whatever reason he must have been ordered to partly replicate the original AD&D “Denizens of the Swamp”. Both sets had lizard men, a giant snake, a troll, and plant-based monster, though they diverged from there. Anyway he’s a great and unique monstrosity. The gargoyle next to him is a bit of a cheat. The wings are not original — I got the figure second-hand with no wings, but also acquired the wings separately in a trade. I think they are Reaper — I remember them making a blister of spare bird and bat wings to customize your own angels and devils or something.

FWIW here are all my fungus and plant monsters, including slimes but leaving out the treants (hah!), in their designated box.

Two more monsters — a HeroClix villian repainted as a beastman or satyr, and a hag (night hag?) from Metal Magic (a MegaMinis recast). I’m not 100% happy with the night hag. I kind of rushed the eyes and they look like bloody sockets rather than glowing red. I can’t remember anything about the superhero/villain except that he is an alien of some kind and exiled from his planet. I don’t even remember if he is a DC or Marvel character. But he makes a good beastman.

As a break from the barbarian horde, I started looking at my halflings, who have always been under-represented on my painting desk. Here are a bunch of Ral Partha halfling militia. Don’t look too close, really need to finish them up later. They unusually petite. Here’s a couple next to a Grenadier halfling. The rest of that set (barring the archer, which has been MIA for decades) will be coming soon…

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nagas, mushroom men, hell hounds, and a thingthing

Am I still painting a lot? Oh hell yeah. As usual, quantity takes primacy over quality.

First up, two nagas from the Descent board game.

They follow the old Monster Manual illustration pretty spot-on. Though I didn’t apply the mascara.

D&DNaga.JPG

For scale, here’s a Grenadier wizard I probably didn’t post already. He should have had a skull on his staff but the one I traded for was broken. The round orb is just the end of a stickpin.

Interestingly, Way back in the early 1980s when Dimensions for Children released a series of fantasy playsets and action figures (Dragonriders of the Styx), one of their designs was based on the Monster Manual illustration too. TSR sent a cease & desist letter (I’m not clear on how a sculpture can violate a copyright on drawing; it certainly wasn’t a patented image, but then again who wants to go to court?) and soon the toy naga was appearing with the face completely removed. Original on left, later version on right!

Image result for naga monster manual dfc

I managed to score a later naga in a trade some time ago, and painted him (her? it?) up thus:

Anyway I also finished the last three Descent hell hounds I have:

Here they are with the same wizard and the three I painted earlier:

I was really on a roll with the plastic monsters; here are three Reaper Bones fungoids/mushroommen/myconids or whatever they’re called:

I already had a metal version of the big guy, and I’d say he’s an almost exact replica. Maybe a slight loss of detail on the staff and cap.

Finally, I painted the last of the demons from the MegaMinis monster box I bought some time back. It’s a weird insect-like thing, and while he looks ok from the side, he suffers from the same flatness of other demons originally made by Metal Magic.

They call it a demon, but I’m not really convinced. I’d call it more of an alien. Or a thing. Or a thingthing.

Published in: on November 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Human giants

“Verbeeg, or human behemoths, are a race of human giants…”–Monster Manual II

Per the Monster Manual II, verbeeg are 8 1/2 to 10 feet tall, while firbolg are 10 1/2 feet tall.

These two were sold as Firbolg during TSR’s short-lived turn as a miniatures manufacturer, but I always thought of them a half-ogres or Verbeeg, based on their relative size. They’re pretty close in size to the Grenadier AD&D “Giants,” which could only be hill giants (and really are ogre sized at best). If I were going to quibble I’d also say that the TSR minis should be armed with greatswords or halberds, per the MMII, rather than axes.

Together with the plastic cavemen and Grenadier giants I am calling troggs, these and few other miscellaneous figures are grouped together in my collection as “human giants,” whatever that means — the MMII terminology is ambiguous. Why call them “human giants”? Are they a distinct race? Or just humans with acromegaly or some magical affliction?

I include this Grenadier ogre from the Wizzards & Warriors line:

He’s no more than 7 feet tall in scale, but looks like a shaman or witch-doctor for the tribe.

I also finally painted an Adina giant and a viking from the “Crossbows and Catapults” game. (Somehow I unede up with just one example of each of the vikings and barbarians from that game).

The Viking actually fits the Verbeeg description the best, as they should be relatively slim for giant types. The Adina giant is barely taller than a normal human, as you can see below with a Heritage knight for reference. Though he is very stocky.

I also snagged a few HeroClix figures that I thought I’d use as young giants. I think they represent a DC villain. The huge craniums make them look a bit like children.

I was pretty happy with how their animal skin togas turned out.

So here’s the complete collection of Verbeegs and Troggs:

Published in: on November 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm  Comments (3)  
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