The terrible tax on gnomes

Yesterday someone came here looking for “the terrible tax on gnomes”.  I know because it was among the search terms that brought a referral.  Obviously I  must pay my Google Penance.

The gnomes of Telengard are a displaced people.  Legend has it that long before they founded Gnomestead (in the north-east of the land called Telengard, after the terrible mountain) they lived underground, perhaps in the very caverns beneath Mt. Telengard.  But this was many, many centuries past, and now they live above ground in halls and huts within the wooden palisades of Gnomestead.

Though the gnomes of Gnomestead have come to peaceful terms with the dwarves and humans who have displaced them, they remain standoffish and rarely visit the human settlements (Skara Brae, Clovis, and Porttown) and the dwarven undercity beneath Skara Brae.  Instead they trade mostly with the peasants who still live outside of town walls, in the woods near Gnomestead, as well as with traders from the far-off Vulking kingdom.  The gnomes, once masters of metalwork, trade mostly in wood and leather items, as well their famous Gnomeade ( a mead said to have invigorating — possibly magical — properties).

However even these trade relations have not made the gnomes completely safe, and the proud little people bear a terrible burden silently.  In fact the gnomes pay an annual tribute to The Lord of the Forest — a tribute of living souls.  When the gnomes can, they offer captured humanoids, but more often the bulk of their tribute is in gnomes — criminals, outcasts, and even innocents.  What becomes of the souls given over to the Lord of the Forest none can say.  The gnomes will not speak of this shameful practice, for the only greater shame than their thralldom would be to ask for assistance from the dwarves and humans who have stolen their underground empire and rightful gold.  This shame is partly compounded by the fact that gnomes have already been saved by a band of human and dwarvish heroes at least twice in the past — long ago from a fire giant, and more recently from a witch who enslaved their astral bodies to work a mine in the Dreamlands.  So now, they suffer in silence, paying a terrible tax that impoverishes their manpower (gnomepower?) and keeps the whole of Gnomestead under the shadow of the Lord of the Forest.

Published in: on January 31, 2014 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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(Almost) No Google penance* required

I occasionally check in on the “stats” page for WordPress to see what you sickos were looking for when you found my blog.  Here’s a list of the top Google terms used this morning (it’s about 8:45 AM as I type this).

swords dorkery 4
moloch 3
spiked shield 3
d&d desert city map 3
escher 2
dark tower 2
orc porn 2
howard prince valiant 2
talhoffer’s medieval fight book 2
duchess alice in wonderland painting 2

There were 15 “others” with one or two instances.  But I am happy to see that the top search that got four people here was possibly for the site!  Of the others, only “howard prince valiant” and “d&d desert city map” are failures (there is some stuff on R.E. Howard, and a map of a city for my D&D campaign, but I don’t think those count).  Then again there is also the ever-present “x porn” where x is some very unlikely D&D monster; in this case it is “orc.” (I have seen searches for “treant porn,” “bugbear porn,” “gnoll porn,” and others as well.)  Sorry dude, no monster porn here.

But all the other searches would actually return at least post with something relevant to the search terms.

For those of you with blogs, what memorable/odd/perfect searches have been reported back to you? I’d love to see some Google penances in the OSR/DIY D&D blogosphere!

*As far as I know, the “google penance” meme started with Got Medieval, whose owner occasionally answers questions or creates content to match the misguided searches that brought him traffic.

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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No Google penance today

I was getting kind of proud that a lot of the search terms people used to find this blog were right on topic: minis, Breughel, a saint with a dog head, poop machine, Black Sabbath…

Then I saw these two: “Icarus porn” and “gnoll porn.”  For crying out loud, people.

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 10:58 am  Comments (5)  

Google penance: Brahmaji miniatures

I’ve gotten a couple of Google hits for this unlikely search term and I just remembered the semi-spam comment he left here that must have engendered it.

Mr. Brahmaji being recommended for a record for making the smallest ceiling fan in the world, out of gold.

It’s a fairly interesting site: link here. The last time I visited his site everything was in the Devanagari script (I think — maybe Hindi or Tamil or or Telugu or Kannada?), but now it seems to be in (rough) English.

A silver ship.

So this is my Google penance for being the #1 hit on Google for “Brahmaji miniatures”.

Godspeed, Mr. Brahmaji Talabattula!

Published in: on July 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another Google penance

Two recent searches that lead folks here:

1. “trpaslík”  (Czech for dwarf, apparently) and

2. “d&d rules for khanda sword” (!!!)

1. I’m kind of impressed Google knows that this is a “hit” actually, but I only know a few words in Czech, and can’t necessarily spell them.  So that’s a non-starter.

2. It’s called a bastard sword in D&D.  Sheesh.  So is a katana.

Which reminds me, along with reworking races & classes, my brother’s been reworking a simplified weapons table/system, which I should put up.  The short description is that weapons are classed as short, medium, and long (he may use different terminology).  Short swords = what D&D palyers know as short swords, long swords, scimitars, falchions, broadswords, etc. — all one-handed swords.  Medium swords (or war swords) = bastard swords, katanas, any “hand & a half” type sword wielded in one or two hands.  Long swords (great swords) = all two handers.   Why do you need  finer distinctions than that?

Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Other races in D&D part two: some crunch

My musings on how to move a little bit away from strictly Tolkien demihumans — without descending into the anime style of 4th ed. D&D — have been a consistently popular post, garnering 50-100 hits every week.  I think there is a strong possibility most of those hits are 4e players looking for the newish Changeling race from the –3rd? 4th? 5th? — Player’s Handbook for 4e.  My Google penance for that will be to offer some slightly crunchier stuff…stats and numbers for how I can see a slightly fairy tale/Nordic take on the traditional D&D races. (I envision using a heavily house-ruled variation of C&C, which I’ll detail as my brother & I hammer out the details.)

An illustration for Peer Gynt by Arthur Rackham


My preference would be to make elves very alien, soulless, and basically chaotic, as they are in Poul Anderson’s works.  But in keeping with fairy tales, they should range widely in size.  Elves roll d8-1 for their height, in feet.  Treat 0 as 1.All elves get +1 Charisma and Dexterity, for they are fascinating and graceful.

Illustration by Brian Froud

If 1 foot tall, they are Fairies, with wings (flight = 18″). They may turn invisible at will but become visible until their next round if they attack.  -3 to Strength (they are still supernaturally strong though) and they can use only tiny weapons which generally deal 1-2 points of damage (bows and one-handed weapons) or d4 (for two-handed swords and the like).

If 2 foot tall, they are Pixies.   They fly with wings (15″) and are small. -3 Strength

Ernie the Keebler elf.

If 3 feet tall, they are Cobbler (Keebler?) Elves, the sort Santa employs.  Small and nimble, they lack wings but are excellent craftsmen. -2 Strength, +1 Constitution from living in extreme environments (trees, artic, etc.)

If 4 feet tall, they are Wood Elves, a very wild breed with green skin and hair.

If 5 feet tall, they are standard D&D Elves.

If 6-7 feet tall, they are Sidhe, also known as High or Courtly Elves, of the Seely (Good) and Unseely (Evil) courts. +1 Strength.

Little People

Occasionally confused with Cobbler Elves, the Little People live all over the world and come in  wide range of varieties.  All have +1 Constitution and -2 Strength.  Their appearance is closely tied to their alignment.  Optionally, a change in alignment will alter the appearance/breed of the Little Person!

Good little people are Gnomes, and live in the woods.  They can speak the languages of all woodland animals and generally will not be attacked by any but the hungriest or most vicious animal.

Lawful little people are Halflings (also called Munchkins, Bobbits, or Hobbits). They live in villages of their own and often have trade relations with Humans.  They rarely adventure but make adequate thieves and even become fighters on occasion.

Neutral little people are Bogarts (also called Brownies), a fairly unpredictable breed who live, often surreptitiously, in Human buildings like barns, houses, and shops.  They are the most shy of the little people, and covered in fur.

A Gobble of Goblins by Edward Foster

Chaotic little people are Goblins.  They live in caves and other wild places, and are extremely mischievous.  They usually become rogues if they adventure. -1 Charisma.  They can see well in the dark.

Evil little people are Kobolds (also known as Knockers or Tommyknockers).  The live in mines and dungeons and love to lure men to their deaths with their tricks and traps (the simplest ploy being to knock in a mine shaft to lure would-be rescuers to their doom). -1 Wisdom.  Kobolds can see in the dark.


I think standard D&D Dwarves are ok rules-wise, but I still think they need to have their culture revisited so that they are not miniature Vikings or Romans but instead live in underground, largely solitary.  Some have odd deformities like crow’s feet or backward knees that they try to hide.


As explained on the earlier post, these are human or demihuman babes raised among the other kind.  Changelings with a Charisma of 12 or more are known as Half-Elves, apparently favoring the human or elf influence; those with Charisma below 10 are known as Half-Orcs, Orc-Men, or Goblin Men.  Half-elves have no attribute modifiers and can be most classes; Half-Orcs get +1 Strength and Constitution but suffer a further -1 Charisma, and can only be of fighter and rogue type classes.

Woodwoses, or Wild men, have very acute senses (Listen as Thieves and track as Rangers), can hide in the wilderness even without shadows or cover (use Hide in Shadows as Thief of same level), and are never surprised in the woods.  However they do not begin the game with Common as a free language (although highly Intelligent Woodwoses may choose Common as one of their bonus languages).   They are covered in hair, like Bogarts, and need not wear clothes except in extreme environments (arctic cold, deserts), although they might do so to enter towns and civilized areas.


Unlike humans, they cannot be raised by means of Raise Dead or Resurrection.  Their life force stays on the Prime Material Plane and will be reincarnated.  A Reincarnation spell will bring them back with their memories (and experience points).  If Reincarnated as humans, they will still be soulless and should have uncanny features (mechanical or  wooden bodies or body parts; hollow chest cavities/no heart; etc.)

However, soulless demi-humans have much less to fear of the undead.  They merely suffer one of their own HD type in damage when suffering energy drain attacks (i.e., no levels are lost, just HP, and this is damage, not permanent).  Demi-humans slain by the undead never rise as undead creatures, but Animate Dead spells will animate demi-human skeletons or corpses.  Finally, demi-humans are not aged by ghosts nor paralyzed by ghouls and ghasts.  However, other special undead attacks still affect them (a vampire may still hypnotize an Elf, for example).

Because they are soulless, demihumans cannot be Clerics or Druids if these exist in the campaign.  (I am planning some house rules that eliminate all classes but Fighter, Rogue, and Magic-User, but more on that later.)

*I’m on the fence about Munchkins, Gnomes, and Changelings having souls.  Maybe they should have souls.  Woodwoses who learn to speak Common might have souls too.

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 2:52 am  Comments (7)  
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Stripping miniatures, part 1

This will be a disappointment to some of my readers* but this post is about stripping paint from figures.

Whether you are buying second hand figures, or rehabilitating figures that have wear and tear, or just re-doing figures you painted before, your best option is usually, but not always, to remove (“strip”) the old paint.

In fact I have been able to salvage a decent paint job out of many figures my brother began painting and decided were “finished” to his standards but not to mine (I like to make sure no bare metal is showing anywhere, details are done, and bases are painted). He often used interesting color schemes and did a good job with metallic paints so it did not make much sense to strip off what he’d done; I just “finished” the job. With pre-painted plastics like MageKnight and WotC D&D figures, the paint is not very thickly applied and you might as well paint over it too. But if you have a figure that’s been painted in enamels or thick, sloppy layers of acrylics, or an old-school figure with shallow, subtle details that could be lost in a few excess coats of paint, primer, and sealer, you should strip the old paint off.

In the case of plastic miniatures, I have almost no experience stripping them. Most of the ones I own have very pronounced details and would take a second coat with little to no loss of detail. Also, because there are so many kinds of plastics, I assume that they may not be safe in the stripping agent anyway and could dissolve right along with the paint, or be chemically altered by the process.

There are many choices for paint stripping:

  1. Acetone (nail polish remover)
  2. Brake fluid
  3. Pine oil based cleaners like Pine-Sol
  4. Isopropyl alcohol (“rubbing alcohol”)
  5. various hobbyist products sold for stripping models (Chameloen, Dio-Sol, etc.)
  6. Oven cleaner spray (Easy Off is the brand I have seen recommended the most)

Acetone also takes off super glue and is the main ingredient in “super glue removers” as far as I can tell. But it evaporates quickly and can be absorbed right through your skin, so I am leery of it. I have not used it much.

Brake fluid has been very variable in my experience, taking off some paints very fast but not affecting others. Also, it smells bad, and is very very toxic, so I wouldn’t use it again.

Pine-Sol has worked the best for me. It is not toxic, and smells ok, and does a super job on enamel and acrylic paints.

I have tried the alcohol, and it was not so good– you probably need a fairly pure laboratory grade solution rather than the drugstore version. If you need to dissolve epoxy glue or epoxy putty, it is perfect, but if you’ve done any conversion/repair on the figure with epoxy putty you won’t want to use it!

I did try the Easy-Off once too but I can’t really remember how well it worked; it is something you only want to do outdoors though.

In my next post on this topic I’ll walk through stripping with Pine-Sol, and then maybe try other methods.  I’ll definitely skip the brake fluid though.

*A recent Google search that brought a visitor to my blog: “Treant porn.” No, really.  Think about that, but don’t visualize it, ok?

Published in: on June 6, 2010 at 8:49 am  Comments (5)  
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Amon Amarth’s paranoid woodchuck coloring pages, or, How best to Google for Swords and/or Dorkery

I would encourage any blogger to make their blog’s title somewhat distinct — preferably using a neologism, or uncommon words, or just a statistically unlikely phrase. I toyed with trying for an almost invisible title composed entirely of Boolean operators and common “stop words” — the best I came up with was “Near is not the same as with,” but that sounds like a forlorn love poem, and this, after all, is the web’s most important blog about half-orcs, D&D figures, and Black Sabbath ever. Ergo, Swords & Dorkery.

But WordPress has an intriguing feature which shows me the Google searches used to stumble onto my blog.  Some recent, unique searches that lead people to S&D:

  • norse macig
  • cosmic horror hopelessness
  • realistic woodchuck coloring page
  • i love the gay eastertide
  • make your own monster bugbear
  • paranoid album artwork
  • 1st edition half orc fighter
  • porn figures miniatures (more…)
Published in: on April 29, 2010 at 7:24 am  Comments (1)  
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