Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beautiful 19th Century Public Domain Maps of France

I was browsing the online library of Toulouse when I ran across a number of excellent maps of various regions of France, all from the 19th century. I thought they might be of interest here - what strikes me about them is how much flavor in each region is conveyed with its accompanying art. Considering the Dordogne campaign, I immediately thought of how I could edit these public domain images and load them with my own campaign information to furnish as found or purchased maps to players...

Region du Nord
Region du Nord #2
Region du Nord Est
Region de L’Est
Region du Sud
Region du Sud #2
Region du Sud-Ouest
Region du Sue-Ouest #2
Region de L’Ouest
Region de L'Ouest #2

Region du Nord Ouest

As an example, here's one I cut up as a template...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Video Conference Gaming: Google Plus

I don't have a Facebook account and giving corporations my personal network information is something I avoid, but I am looking forward to checking out the (free, presumably) video conferencing Google Plus is going to offer. Still in Beta and invitation only... Anyone have an invite to spare?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Witch Doctor Comic

This looks like it might be fun...

"It’s a sick world - literally! The universe is a living thing and the monsters of legend are its parasites. Humanity has been at war with the supernatural for its entire history. But to fight a disease you don’t need soldiers - you need doctors. Meet Dr. Vincent Morrow, who makes up for what he lacks in bedside manner with black humor and brilliance. Dr. Morrow’s on a quest to understand the supernatural using every tool at his disposal, magical and medical. The apocalypse is a disease - and he’s looking for a vaccine."
Witch Doctor is a four issue limited series coming out soon from Skybound/Image Comics. (Found via io9)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Little League

Last night we finally played a short session of S&W. It’s been over a month since I’ve DM’d - considering all the time I had, I was a little embarrassed at being unprepared. In the end, I pushed the game start back another half hour and rolled some dice on an index card, tracing where they fell as a quick dungeon layout. For this first level, I thought I’d make it very simple and not require a map. There really wasn’t much of a choice in terms of which way to go, but I hoped a couple of interactions I’d planned would distract from this and it could still be fun.


•A lone pugilistic goblin looking for a good bare knuckles fight. Ends up being charged by the entire party one of whom falls badly into a pit trap as the goblin flees. Classic.

•A large goblin cook stirring a pot. Pugilist goblin hides behind him, fists up. Pikmit (the only non-human PC) speaks kitchen goblin, and translates that the cook seems to think that they’re here for the games and that their soup will be ready in a moment. When he’s filled stone bowls for them, the party decides against trying it and leave. They head down a corridor where cheers and jeers have been coming from. The cook is livid and beside himself, and just as the blind PC (last in line) is exiting the chamber, he hurls a stone bowl with soup at him. This nearly brains the poor bastard but the party doesn’t care and continues on.

•They enter a large, clamshell-shaped chamber. There’s some kind of goblin baseball game going on, with six goblins in view ahead. Only one appears armed - with a large femur. A gruff voice in the darkness asks if they’re here to play or to die. The party attacks the hitter and catcher! Mayhem, the sides of the “field” erupt with more goblins appearing from the darkness and the defense comes running to the aid of their catcher who’s been quickly dropped. Even the female goblin cheerleaders join in as they see one of their boys killed. Fortunately for the party, the goblins were badly managed and the PCs did a fine job of dispatching most of their opponents before the rest ran away.

I’d really hoped to have the players put in a little time behind the bat, or femur as it were, before the game descended into chaos due to someone cheating or a bad call or something. No matter though, it was good fun. Wasn't there an article in a Dragon magazine or somewhere about baseball in the dungeon? It seems like one of those old school rites of passage.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

B-B-bears?!? Paper Minis

I've been meaning to put this one together for some time, looks like I just missed JB's Bear Week too. Click the thumbnail image below for a closer look or to download the 4x6" PDF.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Odds and ends...

My wife decided she wanted a greenhouse last year and built one from a kit, but it blew over and was destroyed in a wind storm. So this year I decided we'd build something a little more sturdy by basically tacking onto the existing awning in our backyard. Here's a picture to show what I mean...That's not going anywhere. The treated 2x4's running lengthwise from the door at about stomach height are fitted into hangers so they can be lifted up and out - they'll have heavy clear plastic stapled to their matching 2x4's which will simply lay on the ground. This way we can just remove half the wall to move things in and out of the space if we like. It's not the prettiest thing but it should work nicely.

Meanwhile I thought it was high time I gave my paper minis a home as they were starting to take up too much space on my desk. I thought they'd be happiest in a box like the old Grenadiers came in, and I'd saved two boxes that reminded me of them. I sprayed one black and then found some black foam inside an old computer box which already fit nearly perfectly. So I stuck that in there and then slit little spaces for the penny bases to go into - halfway in and the paper lays nice and flat. Now I just need to find or make some art to go above the box label.
In other news, after the Giants got blown away by Cincinnati yesterday, I'd had enough. Every time I could watch on a Saturday, it seems like they'd get rained out or just lose. What the hell, they're at the top of their division! Posey's steamrolling and Sanchez's dislocated arm have me a bit depressed. So today I broke down, bought an Apple TV and signed up for Occasionally there are blackout restrictions, but even then they post the game up about 90 minutes after it ends. Hopefully Christian won't mention any results. Dude! I can watch every Dojers game too! Sick.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Meat Meat Meat and Meat

This Consolidated track always cracks me up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brave Halfling Announces X-Plorers Box Sets

"This is going to be (IMHO), the quintessential, grab your raygun, put on your bubble helmet, kill the bizarre aliens and take their stuff game!” Fans of X-P will not be disappointed." - John Adams

Full announcement and order info.

I already have a copy of X-P and dig it - but I'm a total sucker for Mullen art and box sets. John has big plans for this baby, including a supporting magazine called "Galactic Troubleshooters."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waxing Nostalgic: Traveller

I admire to varying degrees some OSR forays into the sci-fi genre, namely X-Plorers, Terminal Space, and Stars Without Number.

But damn, classic Traveller rocks. As much as I loved Traveller back in the day though, it always seemed cold, both as GM and player; we never fully wanted to play in someone else’s universe (not being well read enough at the time to know much about anything other than Star Trek or Star Wars) and really just couldn't project a compelling setting of our own. Maybe the sheer vastness of the cosmos and potential imaginary playspace was just too much for our young minds to really work with.

Putting that aside, the lasting appeal of it for me comes back to just a few things: the character generation (pretty quick - speaking to the old school expendability of one’s character), the ubiquitous d6, and the very wide brush with which one could paint one’s own universe. To quote a certain “Ziven of Nine” from ‘... After all this time, I am still in love with original Traveller, dead-during-chargen warts and all. The beauty of the Traveller system was, to me, the same as Dungeons and Dragons. The system got out of the way of the setting, and the setting stepped aside if you wanted to play Star Trek, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, or a homebrew/setting adaptation with minimal fuss.’

Maybe after all these years I have a better vision of the kind of Traveller game I’d want to play - I think I’d go with a Terran based game and the recently invented jump drive, mixing something like Bakula Star Trek with Cthulu.

To be honest, I’ve never really played any other sci-fi rpg that I can remember. I think the closest I’ve come is early Gamma World and Paranoia (edit: I just remembered playing at least a few games of Star Frontiers and owning the box, as well as SPI's Universe, though I don't think I played that one even once). I picked up a copy of d6 Star Wars awhile back because I’d heard some good things. Yesterday I also picked up a box of “Space Opera” at Ancient Wonders in Tualitin - I paid $25, which I think is probably close to being about right considering the condition, or maybe I got a good deal. I’d missed seeing this on earlier visits and am really surprised to see all the FGU support material that was released back in the day, now that I’ve looked into it a bit more - I had no idea.
Lister looks on, somewhat befuddled.

As cool as Space Opera seems (‘The most complete science fiction role playing game ever produced.’ says the side of the box) in a quick perusal, I’ve already found myself once again pining for the wonderfully succinct hexadecimal Universal Personality Profile of Traveller, or the 7 character planet summary stats. Damn, there was something about being an aspiring computer nerd in 1980 that was just so right about that stuff. I see this page of Classic reprints and just drool.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Say Hello To My Little Friend

That’s my new muse. I’ve had him for about a month now. He hangs out in the office and gives me the stink eye and wiggle every time I come anywhere near him.

For some reason I thought it would be wicked to put Mr. Fishy in Mr. Aykroyd’s vodka bottle. Sans vodka of course - I mean, how cool would that be, a Siamese Fighting Fish swimming around inside a crystal skull? But I’m getting ahead of myself… I’ve already said how I’m a bit of a sucker for cool bottles. Containers of any sort, really, but liquor bottles stoke the rationalizing consumer in me all the more so. I've also said how cool I think crystal skulls are… So enter “Crystal Head Vodka”.

Far be it from me to judge the judges that awarded this a “2011 Double Gold” award, but about my own appraisal, I can only say that either I somehow got a bad batch of the stuff, or those judges are complete suckup toadies, or… well, that’s it actually. Because even the kid who sold me the stuff at the liquor store said it was no good (I didn’t care too much since I mostly just wanted the bottle). Oh yeah, that’s another thing, maybe they just put utter shite in there because they know freaks like me are going to buy the closest thing to a crystal skull that they can. I mean, you can pick one up without an internet connection - right down the street! I beg you though, please don’t buy this with booze inside.

I did. I tried it neat, and I tried to mask the vodka with some tonic. No good. Then I dumped the whole bottle into my water purifier. I’ve got one of those Burkey stainless steel water filter buckets. I emptied the water out and ran the vodka through twice before it got a little better - and then could stomach drinking the stuff with tonic water or juice. It was really that bad. Afterwards I had to run three whole buckets of water through the ceramic filters to get the taste of vodka out of my water.

It wasn’t cheap either; I got the bigger life-sized bottle. The thing is, I can’t bring myself to put the little blue devil into the thing. I’m pretty sure I could funnel him in somehow, but it seems like cleaning it would be a bitch and I’d have to continually siphon/vacuum his pissy poop water out so I wouldn’t have to keep re-funneling him in again.
Watching watcher watches.

So he’s been alternating between a glass stein a buddy of mine ripped off from a local dive, and a glass kim-chee container. I still haven’t given the little guy a name. “Frank” is tempting for obvious reasons, but suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sir Froig

Sir Froig - the Moonlit Knight

A marshy inlet near Marqueyssac would be unremarkable save for the fact that a small rain cloud continually hangs low in the sky above it - and for the strange little fellow who lives there. In most respects he appears no different from a simple if uncommonly large frog, but what noticeably sets him apart (aside from his obvious intelligence and ability to speak) is his albinism.

The creature calls himself “Sir Froig.” He moves in a human-like fashion, sitting with legs crossed or standing up on his back legs - and he’s quite fond of halfling pipeweed. He’s very sociable and happy to trade his vast knowledge of herbs for his favorite smoke, and is sometimes sought by those of magical training for advice or ingredients. He’s not hard to find: the small cloud above his home is an unmistakeable “airmark” and made use of as a traveling aid for those new to the region.

Though typically friendly, he can be arrogant, and short of temper and patience if a large group of young frogs are preparing to leave the water for the first time. When this happens, he will hop about frantically, shooing away (or worse) any imagined threats to the frogs’ well being.

Sir Froig - HD 7, HP 38, AC 7[12], Mv 9, CL/XP:8/800, Atk: Special: Spits acid (Dmg d6, range 30’). Thrice per day he can croak a noxious cloud (treat as Stinking Cloud). He speaks with plants and animals (per the spells). He is never without a Flower of Protection from Evil and a basket filled with magical herbs and spell components.

In his underwater den, Sir Froig has a small Umbrella of Weather Controlling which he uses to keep a rain cloud permanently hovering over his marsh. He will defend this with his life.

Sir Froig is an ally of the nearby High Druid as well as the Witches of Belves.
4x6" PDF with Paper Mini version:

Inspiration comes from the strangest of places. I knew that I wanted to stat Tim’s frog statue the moment I saw it, so I began writing and working up a Sir Froig mini even before seeing JB’s fat frog challenge (also inspired by the proud creature!)... I thought I should just go ahead and post it here.