Tag 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

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

Making Metal Miniatures


Being a sort of amateur artist with extremely artistical tendencies, I naturally love to paint. My daughter also likes to paint.  So one way to combine our love for sloshing colors on stuff with paint brushes with our love for playing nerdy role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons is to buy and paint our own miniatures to play with in the game.  I used to do this a lot when I was a single goofer with time and money on my hands, so I have boxes and boxes of painted little people and little critters made out of lead or pewter or plastic.



When doing these dastardly deeds of nerdling paintery to little metal people, we have to choose how we are going to go about it.  Different paints work in different ways.  I like to use brightly colored enamels like the Testors stuff I have used since the 1960’s.  The Princess prefers acrylic because it is less permanently messy.  Once you laminate your fingertips with enamel, you have to wear blue and green and brown on your hands in school for most of a week as it wears off.  Acrylic is less socially mortifying, in that it is removed more easily as a water-based paint. Even after it dries on your hands, it still comes off with a little scrubbing and you don’t have to use turpentine.



Finding new figures to paint is not as easy as it once was.  You used to be able to locate such things easily in the nearest comic book shop or game shop.  Hobby Lobby and Michael’s used to have sections where you could find the figures as well as the paints.  Now that those things are becoming extinct and increasingly rare, you have to take advantage of serendipity.  We discovered a magically preserved and timeless game shop in a dying mall next to the movie theater where we recently went to watch Jumanji.  I bought the elves above in that shop from the young elf running the place all by himself.  An elf bard with a fiddle and bow, and another elf with a crossbow.  I also found two exquisite sculpts of children which I haven’t even removed from the card yet.  All that is left to do now is argue over who is going to paint what.  And that can be a difficult thing.  I am older and cannier than her, but she outweighs me by ten pounds.  The decision has not been made yet.


I am finishing this essay on painting nerdling painter-deeds with a look at two finished works from my glorious nerd-painting past.  Ganser the Wizard of Gansdorf is actually painted in acrylic, while Anya the Amazon is painted in enamel.  I did them both in the 1980’s.  We shall soon see if I can still do as good as I used to do.  And if the Princess can match me or surpass me.  It is not actually a contest, but I still hope I win.


Filed under action figures, artwork, Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, homely art, humor, old art

Teachers in Space

This is another in my continuing series of Saturday night D&D posts, though it was written on Saturday morning and contains no Dungeons and Dragons information whatsoever.


The Space Bear was a travelling space ship/school.

You see, in the early 1980’s, I got in trouble with Baptists for playing Dungeons and Dragons with kids from school because… well, demons and dragons are evil, right?  Apparently even the imaginary ones in games and illustrations. So I turned my attention to science fiction games.  Traveller was my rule system, and all science fiction was my campaign.  And then in 1986 Ronald Reagan and NASA decided to blow up the first teacher in space aboard the Challenger shuttle mission.  So, my Traveller game became less about “explore and conquer” and more about “teachers in space”.

gaijin1234aGed Aero was the player character of one of my favorite kids.  He was a psionic shape-changer who could transform into other animals, space creatures, and alien beings.  He became so powerful that he naturally inherited the job of leader of the Psionics Institute, a criminal teachers’ union that taught psionic skills to psionically talented kids. It was a criminal organization because the semi-fascist government of the Third Imperium had made psionics illegal.  He gathered students and taught them to use their powers for good.  The students were all non-player characters to start with, but as new kids from school wanted to play the game too, and player characters were needed, the students of Ged’s psionics dojo became player characters.

Junior Aero, a former student and the adopted son of Ged’s deceased brother Hamfast, grew up and became a player character himself. He taught psionics, being a telepath who could talk to computers and robots that were self-aware.  His wife, Sarah Smith Aero, also became a teacher.  She and Junior had twins, a boy and a girl, both genetically Nebulons, and both destined to be students aboard the Space Bear.


Of course, you may have noticed a K’ung Fu sort of thing going on in the illustrations I am showing you.  That was because one time as Ged was in dinosaur form and fighting with a ninja swordmaster, he won the fight by eating the ninja.  His shape-changing power then absorbed all the muscle memories and martial arts training of the ninja he ate.  So, his students would not only become psionic masters of mind manipulations, but ninja warriors as well.


So, whether they liked it or not, my Traveller players had to learn to teach their skills to others, lead students through complex adventures and problem=solving situations, and basically do themselves a lot of the same things they saw me doing in school all as part of a role-playing game.  You see, that was one of the main dangers of playing role-playing games on Saturdays with that kooky English teacher in South Texas. The danger was, you might actually have to learn something.  Although, most of them probably didn’t realize that that was precisely what they were doing.  They thought we were just playing games, or junk like that.

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Filed under characters, Dungeons and Dragons, education, high school, humor, imagination, kids, Paffooney, science fiction, teaching

Demons and Devils


Playing Dungeons and Dragons in Texas during the ’80’s and ’90’s was basically a subversive act.  The reason?  Fundamentalist Christians actively stepped in and persecuted you for it.  It was their sincere belief that a thing that had demons, devils, and dragons in it had to be from Satan.  Satan, they reasoned, used a game like that to poison the imaginations of innocent children and turn them to the Dark Side of the Force.  Or, rather, the Devil’s side of religion.  They were terrified of subtle corruption of the mind, believing that certain patterns of words and ideas could turn goodness into evil.  In other words, their religion advocated living in a bubble of non-association with certain words and ideas in order to superstitiously inoculate themselves against badness.  They were, of course, not entirely wrong.


Kids playing the game will often develop the desire to play the Dark Side, to be an evil character, to commit evil acts and murder without the hindrance of conscience.  That is the reason I wouldn’t let my own kids even consider playing Grand Theft Auto or similar murder, rape, and pillage sort of video games.   It is, in fact, possible to desensitize yourself to violence and immoral behavior, and I have serious philosophical doubts whenever anyone tries to tell me that that can be a good thing.  My Dungeons and Dragons games always contained a rarely spoken understanding that if you chose to play an evil character you were going to lose everything, because any adventure is solved and overcome by combating evil and siding with the forces of goodness.  Paladins with their magical swords of ultimate sugary goodness are always stronger than evil wizards with their wimpy bat familiars and potions in the end.


But leaving out demons and devils was never truly an option. If you never face decisions between good and evil during playtime, what hope do you have of avoiding a life-altering mistake later in life when faced with evil for real.  If you are going to make an evil choice, say for instance, committing an act of murder, isn’t it better to learn the consequences of such an act when the murder was killing an imaginary rival wizard for a magic staff you coveted than if you committed that murder in a fit of passion in real life?  The fact that the rival wizard’s spirit takes up residence in the staff and finds a way to punish you every time you use it for the remainder of your adventuring life in the game may teach you something you can use when faced with the opportunity to steal for profit and get away with it to make a better decision about what to do.

In the Tomb of Death adventure that the three demons illustrated in this post came from, the only solution was to find the weakness in the demon team.  Estellia had been ill treated by the other two and deeply resented it.  She resented it enough to tell the adventurers’ thief about the brass demon bottle that could be used to magically imprison the demons and then force them to do the bottle owner’s bidding.  Viscarus had been using it to control the other two, so only his soul truly needed to be captured.  The demon-hearts of the other two were already inside.  That story taught several lessons.  Manipulative evil can bite you in the neck even if you are the one wielding it.  (If only Trump and his cronies had learned that about their own brass demon bottle.)


Evil people don’t see themselves as evil.  Often they only see themselves as victims.  And it is true in real life that there is goodness in even the most heartlessly evil people.  You can find it, appeal to it, and possibly even reach the goodness in their hearts necessary to change them for the better.

I truly believe that those kids who over the years played my story-telling games were better, stronger, and more inherently good because they played my games and learned my lessons.  I believe it is true even though there may have occasionally been demons and devils in the stories.  And if I believe it strongly enough, it must be true.  Isn’t that how faith is supposed to work?

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, villains