Category Archives: Dungeons and Dragons

Book Nutty


Being a role-playing-game dungeon master, you have to be familiar with how to absorb and implement the many, many game-playing books that are published to help you keep the adventure humming along towards epic goals.  I have to admit to being a book addict.  That is true for all books, but particularly game books.  I collect them obsessively.  I still troll Half Price Books looking for old and out-of-print D&D books and other game books.

Every role-playing game has certain necessary basic books.  There is a book full of advice for the game master.  It will tell you how to run an adventure and how to plan or map-out your events.  There is a guide book for players that advises them on how to create a character, develop that character over time, and how to use the rules to create success.  There is also usually some kind of enemies compendium, a monster book, filled with the characters you will have to defeat, slay, or outwit during the course of the adventure.  Then there are game supplements that provide detailed settings, often complete with maps.  They can give you non-player characters, adventure seeds, extra statistics, and sometimes additional useful tables.  Equipment books are a thing as well.

I have a huge collection of Dungeons & Dragons books going back to TSR and continuing through their current publisher, Wizards of the Coast.  I have practically every Call of Cthulhu book, a game system to turn H.P. Lovecraft’s horror fiction into RPG adventures.  I have almost all of the Talislanta books, a D&D-like game with no elves, dwarves, or humans in their game.   I have practically everything put out by Game Designers’ Workshop for Traveller.  I have a few books from the Rifts RPG, a time-and-dimension bending science fiction game.  I have practically all of the Star Wars RPG books.  I have a lot of Star Trek books.  I have some G.U.R.P.S.  books (Generic Universal Role Playing System), some d20 RPG books, and many other odd books, including a boxed set of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s RPG, complete with hand puppets.

So, please don’t file paperwork on me with the authorities who put insane people in white jackets with extra long sleeves.  I am a collector who suffers from hoarding disorder.  And I love books.  I just can’t help it.

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Filed under collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, humor, monsters, old books, wizards

Role-Playing Games in the Classroom


Zeus, the god of Storms and the Sky

In the early 90’s a fellow teacher became acutely aware of the effect the role-playing games I was playing at home after school had on the cognitive abilities of the fatherless boys I was constantly entertaining.  She suggested that maybe, if it was working at home with a few students and former students, it could also work in the classroom with all students.

This, of course was a daunting classroom activity to carry out, but enough of a creative challenge to my story telling abilities that I simply had to try.

I began with a cheap RPG book about adventuring D&D style with characters from Greek Myth.  This was an opportunity not only to play adventure games, but to teach a little bit about history and a lot about mythology.

So I created generic character sheets using my own personal copier, my own copy paper, and my own overhead projector plastic overlays.

I created adventures that could be conducted on the overhead with dice and each kid having their own set of skills and useful items.  We conducted Olympic games and included mythological creatures like Tritons and Centaurs as player characters.  We learned about the city of Olympia, the city of Argos, the city of Corinth, Athens, Sparta, and even Atlantis.

I let students draw their character from a hat on strips of paper that contained a boy option and a girl option.  I even let students trade for the character they wanted and we learned negotiating skills along with problem-solving skills.


                                                                                     Demeter, goddess of fertility (which you can’t say in a junior high classroom, so goddess of crops and farming.)

Most of the stories were driven by a kidnapping where the beautiful daughter of one of the players was kidnapped immediately after the Olympic medals were awarded.  The villain would take her to his evil island base, and the players would have to work together to buy or steal a boat.  Gods and goddesses could be called on to intervene, and sometimes they actually did.  Another story line began with the sack of Troy, during which the players either murder or witness the death of a young Trojan boy who just happens to be Heracles’ son.

That story took the players on a quest of penance to visit the underworld and retrieve the boy in the same way that Orpheus tried to rescue his lady love Eurydice.  Potentially, Heracles would even join the quest himself if none of the player characters were the actual killer.  And, of course, all sorts of encounters with monsters would ensue.



I ended up using about as much of my personal resources as a story-teller and a cartoonist to create those adventures as I had available.  But I had students tell me that the week of classroom time spent playing that problem-solving myth game was one of the most memorable learning experiences they ever had.  I never tried it with a high school class, only middle school, and then mostly with 7th graders.  But I think the experiment was very successful from about 1992 to 2004, and it taught me even more about teaching than it ever taught them about mythology.

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Filed under autobiography, Dungeons and Dragons, education, heroes, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

Justifying The Existence of Aeroquest

Aeroquest banner a

The question may arise if anyone who wasn’t forced to read the novel Aeroquest because they have the misfortune of being my relative ever actually reads the book, “Why did you ever write such a gawd-awful thing?”

The truth is, I didn’t write it, not by myself at any rate.  The essential plot of the novel is such a jumbled mess because the story is lifted directly from a game of Traveller, an RPG from Game Designer’s Workshop.  The basic characters in the novel were all player characters.  Their design and personalities are created by adolescent boys in the 80’s and the paths they chose in the story strongly reflect the chaos of youth.

The Aero Brothers, Ged and Ham were both created by one of my favorite students of all time.  I will refer to him here as Armando Carrizales, though that was not his real name.  I am trying to explain the novel here, not mortify an adult former student living somewhere in Texas, or even elsewhere.  Armando’s idea was to use Star Wars characters.  Hamfast Aero was actually Han Solo in the game.  And when Armando wanted to create an all-powerful psionic character, he created brother Ged Solo, using the first name of Larry Winslow’s character Ged Stryker (And Larry did not know how to spell “Jed”).  Because I really liked Armando, and he was bright, creative, and a good problem solver, I eventually chose his characters as the main characters of the novel.  He was good at organizing expeditions, collecting gear and matching it to the purpose in the adventure before him.  But you do need more than heroes for an adventure game, or for a novel.

Emilio Jalapeno was a very different kind of kid, but also Armando’s real-life best friend.  He was a skinny kid with a goofy grin, and was always ready with a joke or prank that would either make you laugh, or make you palm your forehead and consider murder.  His first Traveller character lasted all of fifteen minutes because he decided he wanted to take his shiny new pistol and kill everyone on the entire planet they were on.  That character, whose name I have forgotten, was actually gunned down by his own adventuring party.  So Emilio had to start again.

He created the character Trav Dalgoda.  He got the name from the first syllable of the Traveller game and a name he spotted on the cover of a magazine laying on the table.  Trav was simply Emilio in an RPG form.  He wanted to have an eye patch like a pirate, but he wanted to have two eyes.  He wanted to wear wide ties with messages on them, like a cartoon screw next to a baseball.  And he dearly loved to blow things up.  A time would come in the adventure where he had access to really big weapons, and we had to let him experiment with killing everybody on an entire planet.  This, then, was the needed comedy relief that kept us laughing through shared adventures.  And Trav’s ability to get into really big trouble would eventually drive the plot forward.

Sinbadh the Lupin, a dog-headed humanoid alien, was also Emilio’s character.  The fact that he based his entire character on talking like a pirate from Treasure Island was a source of endless hilarity.


Tron Blastarr, the scar-faced villain, was created by Armando again.  There was a time when Larry Winslow wanted to create a villain character in the most desperate way possible.  But the evil villain Mantis, who was really just a living head on a robotic body, and the enigmatic psionic Xavier Trkiashav never really got their chance to be truly villainous.  One became a laughable boob while the other became a hero and the leader of the Psionics Institute.  Tron, however, was a perfect pirate.  He led the band of adventurers on merry chase after looping, curling space chase, eventually becoming the first player character to get married and have children.  He retired as a villain with a fleet of stolen space ships, and a planet (the airless world Outpost1) as his pirate treasure.

So, to claim I wrote the novel Aeroquest on my own is to completely overlook my collaborators.  It is a mess of a comedy sci-fi novel that I am still trying to iron out and rewrite, but it is also a story I shared with some who were very near to my writer’s heart.

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Filed under aliens, Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, humor, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, science fiction, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Little Metal Men I Have Made


Today’s post is basically a picture post.  Every metal (or Plasticine) figure displayed in this post was painted by me with Testor’s enamel.  Most of the figures were painted back in the 1980’s.  Most of them were sculpted by Citadel Miniatures Co.  The Indian boy I repainted as a young storm giant was made of an inferior quality Plasticine that melted a bit with the paint’s more caustic ingredients.  That’s why looking at him closely makes him appear like a burn victim.


Not all of the figures are from Dungeons and Dragons games.  These are figures I used in the Traveller RPG.    I also owned the Indiana Jones role-playing game, but the figure was used as a Traveller hero.


These figures were used to play Call of Cthulu as well as Traveller.  Cerebus the Aardvark made appearances in both the Dungeons and Dragons game and Traveller, which was fairly true to the character as he appeared in Dave Sim’s underground comic.


I am proud that my arthritic hands once allowed me to paint the tiny details on these miniature sculptures.  But the red dragon I wanted to display in this post, that I have pictured before in this blog, is missing for the moment.  I spent most of the morning trying to find him.  Oh, well…  I still got to show off my mini-painting skills.

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Filed under artwork, Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, humor, photo paffoonies

Star Wars Aliens, Mickified

I spent a good deal of my time as a game master for the Star Wars role-playing game in creating alien characters that fit the movies, the books I read in the Star Wars series, and the game materials.  In this post, I will give you a mini-gallery of the aliens I drew for the game.


Chee Mobok was a space trader who had a problem with his own ego.  He believed that he was a genius at language and could speak any language he had heard a handful of words from.

The Galactic Common speakers were always laughing at the things he said.

Huttese speakers like Jabba the Hutt were always trying to kill him for say precisely the wrong thing.





Hethiss was the Jedi Master when my son’s Jedi character was still a padawan learner.

He was wise, but unable to keep his student from doing things in violent ways when a diplomatic solution was called for.







Merv was a potential terrorist and a suspect in a series of murders on a water planet.  He was, however, the good badguy character.  You know, the villain who has a heart of gold and whose actions redeem him in the end…  As opposed to a bad goodguy who seems to be a hero and ends up betraying everyone.






Fisonna was a street kid from the same planet and same race as Hethiss the Jedi master.  He had the potential to become a padawan learner.  But he also used his Force skills to pull pranks on serious adults.







Odo-Ki was a Gotal with the ultra-sensitive cones on his head.  He had a limited ability to see behind walls and predict the near future.









Nadin Paal was an actual pirate and terrorist with no redeeming qualities at all.  The best thing about him was, that when the time came, he blew up really nicely.  A colorful fireball.








Kehlor was a Herglic, one of the whale people who required specially built extra-large space ships and accommodations.   He was also a gifted pilot.  You can see that he wears the uniform of the Trade Authority.










And finally, Klis Joo was a Duro and a Jedi, a gray alien with considerable Force powers.


There were many more drawings like this as well.  But these are some of the best ones.




Filed under aliens, Dungeons and Dragons, humor, Paffooney

Setting the Scene

As a rabid Dungeons and Dragons player, I have labored for years to build up my collection of miniature figures.  Now, like the action figures and the dolls, the collection is growing so fast it may eat the house.  So, in order to play with them and get some use out of them, I built a cardboard castle, complete with grid for playing D & D.  It is a scene that can be used to play the game, but it is also a place to display my collection.


Toy companies have recently started putting out collectible miniatures in an almost D & D scale.  They only cost about a dollar apiece.  That makes them cheaper than candy bars.  And I am diabetic, so I can’t buy candy bars.


I like to position them in my D & D background and take pictures of them, even though DC Superheroes are not D & D figures.  I can work them into the story of the next RPG sessions.  Batman is a paladin.  Aquaman is a sea-based druid.  Wonder Woman is an Amazon.


Adam West Batman is really, really cool.  Wham!  Pow!  Sock!


Killing a dragon is a big event in a D & D campaign.  And I can do that now with miniatures.



The Flash can rescue Jessica Rabbit from a mad goblin in the Skull Plaza.

So, I reached a point in setting the scene for the game that it has become almost cinematic.  And I like taking pictures of it as I continue to play with all  of it.  Forgive me.  I will forever be twelve years old in my head.



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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, illustrations, making cardboard castles, photo paffoonies

Return of the Star Wars Figures

On a previous Saturday I admitted to the crime of using 12-inch action figures to play the Star Wars role-playing game.  The Dungeons and Dragons RPG world was horrified.  You are supposed to use scale-appropriate metal miniatures.  How can you simulate combat without small figures on a grid?  I have to confess.  It was via x’s and dots on graph paper.  But we didn’t use the action figures to represent ranges and lines of site in combat.  And one of my players was my niece, an actual girl.  So, I guess, to be honest, we were actually playing with dolls.

But it helps to have a lot of dolls.


Emperor Palpatine, Snow Trooper, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar, Quigon, Droid Soldier, and home-made Mace Windu

We started play after the first two movies in the Prequel Trilogy.


Wicket, Imperial Walker, Astroboy (What’s he doing there?) Darth Vader, Little Anakin, and Boba Fett.

We got creative with stories.


Jango Fett, General Grievous, and Admiral Akbar


Anakin Skywalker


Robot from Lost in Space, R2D2, Slave Girl Leia, and a Green Orion Slave Girl Dancer from Star Trek

So there is evidence available to my offspring to help them have me committed to an institution.  The truth is, these are not even all of my Star Wars Dolls.  So this morning’s confession session is now at an end, though all of the horrible truth is not yet revealed.


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Filed under action figures, autobiography, doll collecting, Dungeons and Dragons, goofiness, humor, photo paffoonies