Tag Archives: Dungeons and Dragons

D&D Saturdays

In honor of all the years I spent playing dungeon master on Saturday afternoons, I am posting pictures to keep the posting of D&D stuff on Saturdays as a tradition.  I really am a bit too achy and ill to post any old orc and ogre stories today.

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My Secret D&D Identity

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An author can’t resist portraying himself somewhere in his fiction. Even though the entire work of fiction is actually a map of the inside of the author’s self, there will be a character who is the self-portrait of the author buried somewhere within.  It may be the first person narrator of the story.  Or it may be a background character lurking at the periphery of the plot.

In the ongoing work of fiction that is my family D&D game, that me-character is the wizard in red, Eli Tragedy.  Yes, bumbling, doddering, and constantly babbling Eli Tragedy, aged half-elf with a little more than half a wit, is basically me.  His two apprentices, Bob and Mickey the Were-rat, are constantly at his side to open doors for him, set off booby traps stupidly before he gets there, and generally demonstrate the level of his teaching ability by their lazy incompetence and general inability to learn anything.

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Now, lest you think I might really be exactly like this exaggeratedly foolish fool of a character armed with way too much magical ability and arcane knowledge to be safe wandering around freely in public, let me assure you, we are very different, Eli and I.  He’s at least a centimeter taller than I am when he stands up straight.  I have, however, aimed more than a few metaphorical fireballs at my own image in the hallway mirror.  And I may have burned my own eyebrows off more than once.  But Eli’s real purpose is mainly to poke fun at myself and create a few laughs, along with a few D&D style world-ending crisis-es, as when Mickey the Were-rat stole and misused Eli’s magic hat.  Dang, those toe-dancing pink rhinoceroses with the nitroglycerin in their over-sized backpacks were heck to herd back into the King’s Royal Zoo!

But now, I am finally ready to admit it.  Eli Tragedy is my alter ego.  I like the color red.  I am fond of random explosions and acts of inexplicable transformation.  Eli Tragedy is me.  And I promise, I won’t really blow the world up.  It is only a role-playing game after all.

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Equipment Makes the Adventurer

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You cannot cleave a ghost in twain with a cast-iron fireplace poker. Throwing snowballs at vampires will not keep your blood from being drained.  And bugbears don’t really have an aversion to little girls in pink dresses (except for little Tessie Trueheart of the Green Dale; that little booger has a temper as large as her love for the color pink).

To go adventuring in Mickey the Dungeonmaster’s dungeons, you need the right equipment.  Of course, whole books full of weapons and armor and adventuring doodads have been published.  Some of the stuff we use in the family games comes from the game books, as exemplified by the items pictured above.  The Blue Wood Armor of the Forest Guardian is a collection of items put together from the books published for D&D by Wizards of the Coast Publishing.

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My daughter’s favorite weapon is a sentient throwing knife that always flies back to its current master after being thrown.  It also never misses, adjusting its own flight to always strike the target for the greatest possible damage.  It has a mind and intelligence of its own.  It became sentient and alive in the middle of an epic combat with a magical giant golem who hit it with a spell that went disastrously wrong for the caster. This item was created on the spur of the moment in the midst of a published adventure, based on a disasterously low roll of the dice for the monster side of the combat.

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Some items in the game are actually treasures from the published adventure scenarios I like to use. Instead of simply selling off items when they are discovered in the cold, dead hands of defeated evil druids whose dreams of conquest and tyrannical rule you have thwarted, you can take them for your own personal use.  I have a tendency to embellish what is described in the pages of the adventure with both really good powers and effects, and really insidious concealed curses.  The Legendary Black Blades are both demon-laced and deadly.  And both, though fatal to your enemies, will eventually darken your own heart and possibly shorten your adventuring life the hard way.

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Not all equipment is made of swords and armor.  The Evil Heads of Dr. Zorgo are a collection of living zombie heads that can impart wisdom and information (allowing characters to add skills) and can also direct you to places of adventure and great treasure.  Of course, they are evil.  There is always that little factor to consider.  But come on, how can you not be tempted by treasures talked about by the Ghost Elf’s head when you tried to ask her for the time of day in her native land?

So the point of this post is that I am really proud of my drawings of D&D equipment and wanted to show them off.  This post is merely an excuse for doing that.  I have one more to show you, though I must confess, while I drew this one, it was designed by number one son to be used for his character, though as soon as he got it made, he sold it for lots of gold to use on the next project.

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The Little Shop Full of Treasures

Every good Dungeons & Dragons game needs a quaint little magic shop to provide the appropriate magical boom-boom solution that isn’t obviously needed, but will prove essential to the adventure later.

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For our game, where we had a choice of a number of screwy little magic shops that didn’t manage to blow themselves up, the main place of choice was Failin’s Arcanum Magickum Shoppe in Sharn.   (Why “shop” has to be spelled “shoppe”, I’m really not certain.  You have to spell things wrong to cast spells apparently.)

The shoppe is located in the Precarious District of Sharn, City of Towers.  Visitors have been known to be crushed by falling parapet stones from above that may or may not have been wedged loose by a hobgoblin street gang.  Failin himself is a rather morose individual with red hair and a connection to the Dragonmarked House Orien, the house whose magical dragonmarks allow the members of the house to do transportation magic.  Failin was himself a talented geomancer, able to create items with bound earth elementals used for power and propulsion.  He also collects items of great value from adventurers and commands impossibly high prices for them.

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So, if you want to buy a Wand of Blinding Colors, a Bag of Holding, a Flaming Elf Skull of Timely Warnings, or a Deadly Drum of Druid Doom, he’s definitely your man and will only take twice the amount of everything you own in payment.  If you want something more powerful or more arcane, you better be ready to slay a dragon for it and bring back the entire hoard as payment.  Failin is rich in several different ways.

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Working for Failin is his one and only servant, Gobbie.  Gobbie is also a rare thing, a goblin you can trust.  He was raised by dragonmarked humans and treated slightly better than the average goblin (who tend to be killed on sight by heroes).

Gobbie is also trained as a shield bearer, and carries a shield that is immune to dragon fire and most magical fire and ice.  Failin rents Gobbie to adventurers for a high price, and Gobbie usually serves them just as faithfully as he serves his red-haired master.

And Failin’s shoppe is a place where you can find any number of magic users, wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, illusionists, thaumaturges, and other magicians.  If you don’t mind risking a meeting with horrifying necromancers, you can find and talk to some of the most powerful people in all Eberron.

 

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Book Nutty

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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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Little Metal Men I Have Made

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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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Making Metal Miniatures

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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