A ringing endorsement from John Eric Holmes

Heritage Company has marketed a series of boxed game sets specifically designed to hook prospective figure-using role game players into the hobby. Each box includes a complete short game with the referee’s map and attendant data, a box of lead figures (there are 8 in the Crypt of the Sorcerer set), and a box of paints and a brush. If one of these sets doesn’t get you completely engrossed in fantasy role-playing, nothing will!
— John Eric Holmes, Fantasy Role Playing Games.

Maybe Holmes garbled the packaging a little (the map and rules don’t require a referee, and everything was in one box) but The Crypt of the Sorcerer and the Cavern of Doom sets from Heritage USA were pure awesome. My brother and I each got one (I got the Crypt, because it included my three favorite monsters — an orc, skeleton, and troll!) and we played the heck out of them, adding rules for other miniatures and dreaming up new adventures. We had already been playing AD&D when these came out but to us they were all part of one hobby and we briefly tried to reconcile the differences (“why is the Black Pudding called a Slime monster in the Caverns game?” etc.)

Anyway I got into blogging and the OSR because I discovered Scottsz’s Sorcerers of Doom project (the current link goes to what I think is the third incarnation of the site*). At the time I was working on some games for my niece and some nephews (the boys will getting theirs a year late, because we did not see them last xmas) but the final product, I hope, will have something like the effect Holmes described.

*I guess it’s ok to move the SoD out of Valhalla now!

I hope everyone reading this has a great holiday. If you feel like leaving a comment, tell us about a gift you got that introduced you, or lead you deeper into, in the hobby, or else just a favorite dorkery-related item from yesteryear. Maybe something you’ll find in the “Wishbook“.

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 11:35 am  Comments (8)  
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Christmas update

Despite having some kind of rotavirus/stomach flu ye olde flux & emesis* pass from my daughter, to my wife, to me in succession, we all managed to be healthy on Christmas Day, which was great. We alternate between my side and my wife’s side each year, and this year was with my side, so the first of the games I made went to my niece.  She is “that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books” (to use H.G. Wells memorable phrase). Actually she has long been interesting all things fantastic and fantasy-oriented, but I was afraid I may have gotten to her a bit to late, as she is just now approaching her teen years and, I feared, was ready to put away childish things. I turns out, not so much. (more…)

Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Finally finished the “gift” games!

As I mentioned last time, the boards were all finally in a finished state:

But noone can actually scan a board that big, so, although it killed me to do it…

Cut into scannable chunks, scanned, reassembled as the pdfs I put on Scribd, printed, touched up, laminated.

Happily I was able to salvage the originals into a usable form too, as I’d hoped.  I covered each section with clear shelf paper and then reassembled them with more shelf paper so that fold like game boards.  Unfortunately I’d cut one so assymetrically that it looks really bad folded up but all are serviceable. Edge on:

3/4 opened:Completely opened up:

And completely folded up again:

So anyway here is what a completed gift game is looking like:

That is the “Hall of the Frost Giant.”  Map, booklet (general rules and the specifics for this dungeon), two laminated sheets of tables, and two record sheets, each usable to keep track for at least two adventures, and case for the figures (they’re on the map in this shot).  The monsters are in the large oval feating hall room and the adventurers are in the hall to the left.


And lastly here is a shot of the figures in their boxes:

And the figures for the other three games:

Now that I’m ready to wrap them up, I’m a little excited that I can get back to painting figures for myself again….

Published in: Uncategorized on December 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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OfficeMax, you’re dead to me

I could have sworn I called OfficeMax’s copy center about making copies of my map boards.  But when I strolled in Saturday morning to have the rules books printed up and copies of maps made an laminated, they said no can do.  They have a flat bed scanner that can only handle 11×17 and even then with some loss on the edges.  WTF? How did I not realize copy places can’t make copies of anything bigger than 11×17?  Technically you could find a scanner for something on paper that is bigger, but I used foam core to reduce warping from the paint.  In the end I couldn’t bring myself to start all over, so I cut the boards up into 8×10 or so sections and scanned them on my computer, then got my brother to reassemble them as printable pdfs.  They are not perfect, due to my cutting more than Tom’s reassembly.  Oh well.  The prints look decent and I will touch them up with a Sharpie, have them laminated, and the project is finally done!  In time for Xmas too!  Woot!

I’ll take pics and post them later.  For now I went ahead an uploaded the the files to scribd.com, for the curious.   Here is one, for example.  The scenarios, and my version of the basic rules, are there too if you poke around.

OK, maybe I never did call OfficeMax before … it is kind of a blur now.  Still, I coulda punched someone when that happened.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 15, 2009 at 12:57 am  Comments (2)  
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Mythology maps progress

Been super busy lately getting ready to insulate my attic (there’s a lot of prep work, and the access hatch is about exactly as wide as my ass, so not a lot of fun getting in & out of there with tools).

Anyway I managed to at least draw the three maps for the mythology themed dungeons, below:DSC03175The tomb of the forgotten pharaoh.  Very heavily influenced by other Egyptian map, and more authentic in that it is smaller and follows the plan of a real royal tomb.

DSC03176The lair of the frost giant.  That’s a trophy room in the lower left corner, with heads of various animals (and adventurers!) on plaques on the wall, and the big room with a giant table is the throne room/feasting hall.

DSC03177The ruins of Minos.  There is a labyrinth in the upper right and large round chamber is collapsed section where the Hydra will lurk.

All need to have traps and numbers added to some squares (I’ll write much smaller on these), and will also get some marginalia (hieroglyphs/runes/Greek writing, encounter and treasure tables, and so on).  I still need to find out how expensive getting these puppies photocopied will be too… all that will have to wait until I finish with the insulation project though.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Caverns of Doom remix

I have three mythologically-inspired sets of miniatures ready, and will be giving them to three nephews in one family (maps and rules booklets still in process…).  I decided that the fourth set would be different, partly because I couldn’t decide which mythos would be best for her and partly because I also knew I’d given her a basic D&D set a year or two ago and she has more figures in that scale.  So, below are the alternative figures I’ll use for  a version of the CoD — they’ll use CoD stats but look a little different.

Instead of the rats, goblins:

DSC03014(These guys are from the Battle Masters set).

Instead of the hobgoblin, a beastman (Battle Masters again), and a different slime monster, spider, and demon:

DSC03017The slime monster is epoxy putty.  The demon is a Battle Masters chaos warrior, and spider is another plastic toy.

DSC03021A close-up of the slime monster.

The skeletons are replaced by orcs, and the dragon by a giant.  The vampire is replaced by a wraith.  The giant and wraith are Dragon Strike figures, the orcs are Battle Masters (the archer is actually a chaos thug).

DSC03022The character figures are a pirate, dwarf,  knight, monk, elf, and wizard:

DSC03078monk,elf,wizrd2The knight & pirate are from the Weapons & Warriors games; the dwarf is a Games Workshop plastic figure; the wizard is from Descent, the Elf is from GW’s Lord of the Rings line, and the monk is a Lionheart peasant with his pitchfork trimmed into a staff, and slightly tonsured (you can’t see it from this angle).

The map will be pretty much identical to the original CoD map.

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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Some pics added

Just adding some images here and there to a few posts and pages.   Below, a photo of the myth sets, almost finished, on my work table.  I used our real camera, and the difference in picture quality is pretty significant.almostdone

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 12:38 am  Comments (1)  
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Work progresses on the mythology project

I’ve got about 1/2 of the mythological figures painted, although I haven’t sealed any of them yet.  I’ll try to get some pics up.  They have been pretty easy to paint, because they are not as three-dimensional as lead/tin figures would be (plastics are generally made in rigid metal molds, while metal figures usually are cast in rubber molds, so it is possible to have more complex shapes).  They’ve been glued to steel washers so their bases are more uniform and so they have a bit more heft and stability.  Being soft plastic, I’ll need to seal them with something that will keep some flexibility, like white “tacky” glue, and maybe top coat that with matte medium.

Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 12:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sidelined by a cold

The Age of Mythology figures I ordered back on the 11th were waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday, but I haven’t had time time to do much more than cut a few off the sprues and wash them.  I was totally wiped out with a head cold and even stayed home from work today over it.

The figures are pretty close to standard 1/72 scale (i.e. significantly smaller than 25mm figures. More like 20mm, and like 1/72s they generally have normal proportions (metal 25’s tend to have very exaggerated features, particularly  heads and hands, because metal figures are usually sculpted at their actual size while plastic 1/72s are sculpted much larger and reduced by a pantograph milling machine.

Anyway I think I can get about five passable adventurers from each theme, if the Egyptians hire a Greek mercenary since that set is short on fighters.  The Norse set has a glut of fighters, though, so I think I’ll do some minimal conversions to make a spear into a staff and an axe into a rod or mace, just so they will have some variety.

You can see good pics of the sets here at Plastic Soldier Review.

The current roster of adventurers then will be, for the Greeks: a ‘hero’ (Hercules figure), a hoplite, a rogue (the Argonaut-looking figure), a centaur, and a sorcerer (the spear-armed hero).  Norse: a Berserker (the guy with two axes), a dwarf, a huscarl, a wizard (not sure what to call him), and a priest.  Egyptian: A mage, a priest, a javelin-man, a Greek mercenary, and the Son of Osiris.

The peasants from each box will serve as minor monsters (Greek lost souls, Norse Draugr,  or Egyptian animated Ushabti); I am still working out the rest.  My initial idea was to make a troll=a cyclops=a sphinx etc. with each set having a functionally equivalent set of monsters, but since three sets will be going to one family, I’d rather make the monsters all different too, so there will be more replay-ability (I imagine one nephew taking his characters through the other’s dungeon, or that they may make up new encounter tables on their own.  (I’m probably projecting!)

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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