Category Archives: making cardboard castles

Evil Wizards

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Evil Voldemort has now appeared atop the highest tower of Cardboard Castle.  Please ignore the snake who appears to be doing something really creepy and x-rated.

In the Dungeons and Dragons game, just like in good fantasy fiction, it is the villain of the episode who makes or breaks the story.  Good villains in D & D often means an evil wizard.  After all, what would the Harry Potter saga be without Voldemort… (sorry, I mean “He who must not be named.”

Like H.W.M.N.B.N., a good villain must have a truly evil goal in mind, something for the heroes to thwart or fail to thwart until the world is on the edge of ultimate doom.  Brother Garrow, the shape-changer masquerading as a vampire cleric of the Blood of Vol religion, wanted to find an ancient mechanical evil in an earth-rending robot, and bring it back to life.  He was fully thwarted and died a horrible death, but the robot would later be given life and unleashed anyway.  Malekith the Pyromancer wanted to subvert the entire college of magic at Cymril University and set them on a path to a new age of necromancers and undead evil.  Unfortunately, the heroes got side-tracked with looting the Peppermint Wizard’s Candy Store and Alchemy Shop, so he is still out there subverting successfully.

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Morgoth the Mad and the High Lama of Krakatos

Some wizards, like Morgoth the Mad are based on published game characters, and some are entirely my own creation like the High Lama.  Both of these wizards are not only lead figurines that I painted myself, but they both lend an oxymoronic meaning to the idea of “Good Villains”.  Morgoth was certainly evil when he tried to sack the city of Gansdorf.  But his son, Kath, was adopted by the heroes and raised to be a hero himself (though one that bore endless suspicion because who ever heard of a hero with bat wings?)  The High Lama did only evil magic spells, but he also raised an orphanage full of adolescent were-rats.  Any mentor and teacher, no matter how evil, cannot be all bad in my book.

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Lucan Stellos was not actually a wizard himself.  He was an agent of the Kingdom of Breland who should’ve been a great hero, but got turned into a vampire by the evil vampire queen of Sharn.

His sister, Grilsha Stellos, however, was a level 6 sorceress who used her magic to help her brother carry out the will of his evil mistress.  She loved her brother and fought for him courageously, but in the end she fell in combat with the player characters.  It was her death that shook Lucan free of the power of his mistress, and so he let himself be captured, expecting to be destroyed.

Instead, the heroes set him on a path to redemption as a good vampire, killing other vampires in the name of a forgiving god and vengeance for his lost sister.

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And let me end this silly list of evil wizards with the Lizard Wizard.  Old Lizzie is dragon-born, half man, half dragon.  And he uses his evil dragon magic to loot and plunder for the pleasure of himself and his lizard-man minions like Kato who follows him here. In the picture, you can see old Eli Tragedy trying to drive the Lizard Wizard out of the Cardboard Castle with his magic wand of really painful cold sores.

And that is not the end of my list of evil wizards.  They are immensely fun to play with, so naturally I have a lot more.  But I will not inflict them upon you here and now. Too much evil in one essay is never a good idea.

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, humor, making cardboard castles, monsters, photo paffoonies, villains

Toys From My Second Childhood

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Being retired for health reasons and unable to work, I would be dead already without my writing and art endeavors to fill my time and keep me sane.  I can do some work, as proven by my attempts to patch and repair the swimming pool this summer.  But my limitations drive me crazy, as proven by the fact that I did about half of the work on the pool wearing only sunscreen and a hat.  My kids are not married yet, and two of them are still in high school, but they are not much interested in toys any more.  And I don’t yet have grandkids to spoil.  So when I go the Resale Store or Goodwill to shop for old toys, I am basically buying them for myself.

The Princess of the Korean Court Barbie was lying on the bargain shelf for $3.49.  I bought the ceramic wishing well behind her for $5.00.  So the bargain-hunting gene I inherited from Scotch ancestors was duly satisfied.  But I had to do more with things like these than merely own them.  Toys are for playing. And what does a 60-year-old man do with dolls when he is playing?  Besides being a bit creepy, I mean?  Well, this photo is the answer.  I use my toys to create pictures and artwork.

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Here’s a creation using the ceramic wishing well again.  It is apparently, on closer inspection, actually a candle holder.  But it serves to make my Walmart Clearance Sale Disney toys happy.  Here you see the pony-brushing party held by Minnie Mouse with Daisy Duck and the gay snowman from Frozen.

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Here you see the metal miniatures I got in a pack from Walmart as they visit the cardboard castle.  Two of the lead figures on the ground are hand painted by me in days long ago.  The entire cardboard castle was printed and glued on cardboard, cut out and put together entirely by me.  Mickey, Minnie, Alice, Stitch, and Kermit are the metal miniatures not painted by me.

So, my days have not been overwhelmed by boredom and frustration and problems with city pool inspectors (he doesn’t even know about doing the repair work in the nude, so he can’t give me a ticket for that.)  I have been filling my time with toys and creative play.  I have been mostly a good boy… err… old man.

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Filed under action figures, Barbie and Ken, doll collecting, foolishness, goofy thoughts, making cardboard castles, Mickey, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Updating the Cardboard Castle

When my health is poor and my day is limited mostly to the bedroom, there are still ways to pass the time that create a tangible something.  Something I can hold in my hand.  A piece of art.

This weekend has meant more work on building my castle out of cardboard.  (I am not planning on living in it myself.  Imaginary D & D characters live, fight, and die there.)

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I actually painted the wizard in red and the Amazon in front myself.

So, I don’t draw all the elements myself.  I have found published sources of easy-to-assemble cardboard castle parts.  Then, with my arthritic fingers, scissors, tape, glue, and miniature-making muscle memory I proceed to create castles.

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This weekend’s castle-creating came about with the help of a supplement purchased at a book store, my favorite used bookstore.

It was called Map Folio 3-D and was published in the last decade by Wizards of the Coast, a publisher whose D & D products I have been buying since they published Talislanta books in the 1980’s.

It has cut-out walls and doors and details that you can cut out and slap together.

You may have noticed I even cut designs off the cover to use on my versions of the buildings they designed.

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So, that plan took me from this above to this below.

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I did the village inn and a barn/workshop.  And put into the center of the cardboard castle, it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the scene.

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So there you have it, a little bit of the doofy art-noodling that Mickeys often do.

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Filed under artwork, Dungeons and Dragons, making cardboard castles, photo paffoonies

What Happens at the Castle, Stays at the Castle

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Part of being a dungeon master is the responsibility for creating the dungeon.  Now I do intend to fully explain the events of the siege of Castle Evernight in a future Saturday D&D post, but today I want to show you my dungeon setting, the Keep of the Duke of Passage, Dane Evernight.  This is me thinking like an insane architect to build a tall, spindly castle that no real-life king or duke would ever try to live in.  But insane as it was, it had to be drawn to scale and the inner workings had to be mapped out on grid paper where every little square represented a space of 5 feet by 5 feet.

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Level one shows the areas you would enter coming in through the front gate.  Colored-in areas represent the solid stone from which this castle is built as well as the rock spire it was precariously perched upon.   The usual dungeon-master map symbols apply.  The little empty rectangle thingy blocking passageways and interrupting walls is to be interpreted as a door.  You can also see that to visit on horseback requires your trusty steed to be able to climb stairs.  So, unless you have a verily dexterous and unusual horse, you should probably ride in griffin-back or dragon-back.

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Moving to Level 2 brings you to where the Duke’s Great Hall would receive you as a visitor.  There are also places you would like to get to, especially if you are a teenage boy, like the harem and the bathing pool attached to the harem, and maybe the Magic Lab, but you will most likely not be allowed into those places.  But you see the dark spots in the walls?  Those are the garderobes.  You probably will be allowed access there, because, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and that is the proper place to go.  Medieval castles have primitive plumbing.

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Level 3 is the level I would most want to see if I were touring this place myself.  Not only is it the place that has the library in it, but it houses the limner’s studio, and the limner is the resident painter, picture-maker, and white-washer of fences and garderobes.

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Level 4 contains the “Party Central” places that every highly social and only mildly psychotic nobleman seeks to spend his schmooze time.  There’s a ballroom for dancing, a solarium for getting sunburn when you drink too much wizard’s ale and dance naked in the sunshine for too long, and a hall of mirrors for admiring the way the sunburn makes your behind glow bright red.

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Level 5 is getting up to the top of the towers.  In a vertical dungeon like this one, this should be nearing the adventure climax.  That was not how it happened, however.  I will tell you more about that in another post.  This is where the belfry bats and the Duke’s treasures are stored.

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By the time you reach the Summit of the Keep, you are beginning to think that something is seriously and morbidly wrong with this Castle.  This is where you will find the Evil Doctor Zorgo and the animated remains of Duke Dane Evernight.   And golem labs next to sarcophagus rooms?  Something has gone terribly wrong here.   But don’t have nightmares about it, or anything.  Rest assured that Gandy Rumspot and Mira the Kalashtar have already solved this problem or I wouldn’t be telling you about it.  Dungeon masters, at least the good ones, never reveal a secret before the dice are rolled.

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, humor, making cardboard castles, maps, Paffooney, plans, surrealism

More NPC Nonsense

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A view of the D & D table in my library.

I believe I warned you last Saturday that I had a lot more stupid stuff to share about Non-Player Characters in D & D.  I probably let it slip that I really like playing all the weird parts and the monsters about to be slaughtered.  I intend to share more of those strange characters today, so you can get a real sense of why my D & D games get so out of control and my children are turning into sword-wielding sociopaths.

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Barkley is not exactly the family dog.  He’s a gnoll.  That means he’s a monstrous hyena-man who would be inclined to hate and eat humans were he not raised from puppyhood to gnollhood by a beautiful female elf cleric.  He now hates the gnolls (and probably eats them) because in the first D & D adventure, his gnoll brothers tried to kill and eat his beloved elf mother.  He traveled with the Player characters for about three adventures.  And though they treated him like a dog, they came to rely on him in several tough battles.  He proved his dog-like loyalty and learned some critical spy skills from them, so he became a Dark Lantern (a secret agent for the kingdom of Breland) and began a life of hunting and killing evil gnolls.

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Mysterious Mara was one of the few civilian survivors when the weretigers attacked the lightning rail train with the player characters aboard it.  She tagged along because she would not have survived otherwise.  She has never revealed her true identity, and it’s a real mind-blower related to the royal court of Aundair, but the player characters have been too busy with other things to look into the mystery.  In fact, she is what the D & D manuals call an “adventure hook” because following up on her essential mysteriousness would’ve led them into the middle of a kingdom-crashing conflict.  In the meantime, they have been feeding her, teaching her to make use of her natural acrobatic skills, and generally befriending her, not realizing she is the reason so many enemies of Aundair have been tracking and attacking them.

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Caitian Redfurr is a shifter, one of those half-men with the abilities of a cheetah, able to run like a rocket and use speed to best her foes.  She has been a part of the campaign since just after Barkley joined.  Her son, Night Sky, is the son of a former Dark Lantern leader whose ghostly presence now inhabits Fate’s head.  She has used her skills with a sword, and her skills with a bow, and her skills with Talaen Kara, the intelligent double-bladed weapon, to save their fat from goblin cookfires on numerous occasions.  The players are fond of her and trust her as basically an added member of the family.

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Finally for this Saturday, I mentioned Turkoman last week.  He is what is called a “patron” in D & D NPC-terms.  He’s the man with the expertise when a beloved character is cursed with frogs hopping out of their ears or is turned completely to stone by a gorgon’s kiss.  He also provides necessary magic items, spells, enchantments, and critical advice that can help bring an adventure to a conclusion.  When needed, he can even lend a hand in the actual adventure, giving the characters a chance to overcome difficult odds and find adventures that they would not otherwise have access to.

So, once again I have passed my word limit and must draw to a close with so much more to tell.  Even if you are bored stiff by D & D nerd-ism, I intend to inflict more upon you in the future.  So be warned, be wary, and watch out for curses that make frogs hop out of your ears.

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, foolishness, humor, making cardboard castles, Paffooney

Building Castle Walls

Some people might say I was born in the wrong century.  I love castles and knights and everything medieval.  Of course, the Dungeons and Dragons part of my life, my twenties and early thirties (1980’s and 1990’s) only made the situation worse.  I am cursed by a desire to build castle walls.

cardcastle10I mean both figuratively and literally, of course.  I have blogged already about incessant cardboard constructions that I can’t help but build and add to my ever-increasing set of Dungeons and Dragons toys.  And always it is for the sake of the story.  I love not only making the castle walls and castle buildings, but also the castle people.  It flows in an unbroken stream of goofiness from cardboard and paper to brick and wooden towers and finally to knights and wizards and commoners and goblins.  It takes all kinds to fill a kingdom.

20150314_203024Figuratively, I keep hoping to build ramparts against the coming enemies that I know are lurking, waiting to attack and take my life.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor.  I had two benign lumps removed from my body this school year.  I can no longer teach because of health.  I can’t supplement my retirement income, because part-time jobs I can physically do are either too distant to travel to or simply not available.  The Dire Wolf of Poverty and the Grim Reaper are both sniffing around my barbican, looking for the way inside the castle.

But I continue to people my castle with new and fascinating folk.  Endless elves and half-elves, were-creatures, and halflings all take up residence in my imaginary castles.  They take over my art, my house, and sometimes… even this blog.

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These are just a few of the interesting folks I’ve invited into my house and my life through the windows of my imagination.

And the most fascinating thing about this whole castle-building thing is that it touches my life in so many places.  I am sincerely addicted to castle-building games on Facebook like Magecraft and Stormfall.

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I have used those moments when I am waiting for things… telephone calls to insurance offices that put me on endless hold, those times after midnight when body aches wake me and I can’t get back to sleep, winding down after doing whatever yard work or house work that I can, and even when I am in the pre-writing stage letting ideas percolate.  I came up with this lame idea for a blog while watching my troops take down marauders in Magecraft.  And these games let me people the castles too.

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So I spend a good share of my days now building and mending castle walls.  Of course, I know the enemies I am trying to defend against are both undeterred and unimpressed by castle walls.  They are immune to my vain attempts at constructing defenses.  But even though the darkness looms on the horizon, I still have some of my bright, shining day left.  And there is something majestic about castles with towers and walls.

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Cardboard Castles

After a long, lonely week by myself, unable to go with my family to Florida for Spring Break due to poor health, my isolation ended suddenly as they returned early.  I woke up to find them already here yesterday morning.  They were tired from travelling, having arrived in the middle of the night, and so they needed to sleep in… and I was suffering horrible cabin fever.  It mattered little, though, that I longed to get out.  I was still ill and unable to breathe outside of my sealed bedroom.  My arthritic back ached and I needed to lie in bed on the heating pad for the better part of a Saturday.  So, what could I do but use my creative talents to take me on a journey into imagination.  I built a castle.

cardcastle1 cardcastle2 cardcastle4  I used an old computer program I previously found at Half-Price Books, the big superstore thing on Northwest Highway in Dallas.  I printed out castle parts on white paper with colored ink.  I gathered pieces of reusable cardboard I had been saving for the purpose.  I began to cut and paste and tape.

cardcastle5 Cardcastle6 cardcastle7  I nearly forgot the most important step.  I put on a Dr. Who DVD I snagged at Walmart.   It was An Adventure is Space and Time starring David Bradley (who was playing William Hartnell who was the first Dr. Who, so it was a movie about an actor playing a part in a BBC fantasy series in the 1960’s played by another actor who looked like the original actor… I mean, it was a story about telling a story and it was the true story of the telling… Oh, I give up!  You figure it out.)  (That was the second longest parenthetic expression I have ever written, by the way.)  It also had a full four episode adventure from the very first Dr. Who story, An Unearthly Child, starring the real William Hartnell.  So I watched and cut and taped and pasted and built castle all day.

Cardcastle8 cardcastle9 cardcastle10  It begins to get exciting as the pieces fit together and it actually starts to look like a castle.  Of course, once it was finished, I had to play with the dang thing.  I am old, and this is my second childhood after all.

cardcastle11 cardcastle12 cardcastle14  Now, if only I can figure out how to keep female vampires dressed in red from invading my castle.

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Filed under humor, making cardboard castles, photo paffoonies