Wednesday, August 31, 2011

X-Plorer Paper Minis and Pre-Gen Cards

A little while back (and with Brave Halfling's blessing), I put together a set of paper minis and pre-generated character cards from the artwork and PCs listed in the back of the X-Plorers rules. It seems like the box sets should be arriving any day now so I thought I'd post it up here in case anyone can use them. Formatted for 4x6" index cards - they should scale to Letter size pretty well if you don't want or need minis but can still use the character records.

Click the thumbnail image above for a closer look or to download.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Always on the lookout for new and especially low level monsters, I spotted these creeps in an old comic book from the '50s. Scanned and cleaned up a bit, there's one on the right. They should serve nicely as an occasional generic stand-in for goblins etc...

A lonesome wizard’s experiment gone very wrong, mouthies have managed to reproduce and can now be found in many dark and desolate places. The creatures have a ravenous appetite for human flesh and are difficult to outrun. Fortunately they’re quite stupid and lack grasping appendages - vertical escape is often the best course of action.

Mouthy: HD 1; AC 8 [11]; Atk 1 Bite d4, Move 13; Save 18; CL/XP B/10

Friday, August 26, 2011

Feeds and Followers - Blogger Weirdness

I've been having some problems with the feed widget over there on the right, so I finally just deleted every single google cookie from Firefox. Now I notice that every site I go to where I was formerly a follower (sorry, "member" is blogger's new term), I'm asked to rejoin. Then after doing so, I have to be sure to choose site settings next to my own icon and choose to follow using a web profile - then choose blogger if I want to show up as ze bulette again.

Anyhow, it appears as though somehow this may have unsubscribed me from some other bloggers. So if you see a follower drop or a long time follower suddenly un-follow and re-follow, maybe that's what happening. On the plus side my feeds are working again correctly so far. Oh yeah, and the little scarlet "G" on the ze bulette icon has finally been banished.

Probably just a speed bump on the way to Google reconciling its G+ accounts with its blogger users' desire for anonymity.

Correction: Crap, the RSS feed widget is still broken. The one thing that does seem to fix it is editing the widget's settings, removing one or more of the items that it shows and re-saving. Then if you go back in and edit again putting the original items back (such as post snippet, time of update, etc.) and save, it will work again for a bit. Anyone else having that problem? Emptying the cache and clearing cookies doesn't help and apparently might cause its own set of problems.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Planet Comics Covers from the Golden Age

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bourbon Schmourbon

I don’t know precisely how one goes about acquiring a sore throat in the dog days of summer, but I seem to have managed it. I blame the rug rats at the local ball game I attended the other day.

It seems an appropriate time to discuss my preferred method of treatment: the frequent application of whiskey. This evening I’ve managed to do a fair amount of damage to two different bottles of bourbon - one “Buck”, a small batch 90 proof which bills itself as a Kentucky whiskey but is bottled in San Jose. The other is George Dickel’s No.8, an 80 proof distilled in Tennessee and bottled in Connecticut.

Both of these I picked up for between $25-$30 each from the same shelf, which makes sense since they aren’t far off from one another in quality. The Buck at 90 proof is a bit paler than the Dickel No. 8, and predictably has a smaller nose. Its bottle is sexier at first glance, which should always make one slightly suspicious. In terms of medicinal value, the award would have to go to Buck, but I definitely prefer the Dickel No. 8. It just has a lot more going for it, although I wouldn’t say it’s terribly sophisticated - it just knows its way around. The Buck bills itself as the drink of cowboys and blah blah blah. The No. 8 didn’t feel the need to explain itself with a small card attached to its neck by elastic band.

I suspect a lot of bourbon is shuttled around and mixed by bottlers from the same half dozen distilleries. At some point, there’s not much point in reviewing the stuff unless it’s a very small batch. Bulleit is a good example. It's one I've thought about reviewing, but the difference between it and these other two I find pretty marginal. I suppose it might be good for a GIMPing and rebranding as “Bulette” though. I really need to get back to single malts.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Linocut Stamps and Maps

I’ve been looking through an old book of German expressionist woodcuts lately and it inspired me to dig out my linoleum block printing kit. The strong lines in the works of Trampier and other early TSR artists have often reminded me of medieval wood block prints - maybe they'd unconsciously encouraged me to try my own hand at such prints in the first place.

Castles, cathedrals, mazes and goblins were favorite subjects long ago...

Once I had my carving tools out again, I started thinking about how I might be able to use them to create something for use in the game. One idea was that I could make maps on the spot, using small stamps. I cut out a one inch hex, got an ink pad, and proceeded to stamp away. It looks a little funky, but it might work. Next, I thought I could carve small symbols into similar hex pieces - castles, mountains, forest, etc. Linoleum is pretty cheap stuff though, it might be difficult to get the level of detail I’d like.

Stamp experiments, small linocuts glued onto corks.

What’s the point of this versus just using a pre-printed sheet of paper or battlemat? I’m not sure. Aside from the quick and simple pleasure of stamping out a crawl as it progressed, I suppose one could stamp a map on different surfaces. For instance, I have some strips of suede backed faux alligator skin. It might work well as a wilderness/ treasure map made out of a monster’s hide - a game prop I could give to players.

In addition to experimenting with making map stamps out of linoleum blocks, I’m going to try to make my own “Deceased” stamp to ceremonially mark dead PC cards. It could be fun to slam one down at a game table. Bam! Officially dead. It seems like there might be other game uses for DIY stamps like these though.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Musical Intermission

Got bored and put this together. Joy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Undead Pinniped

Telecanter's visiting for a few days so I took him out to the coast to show him the Sea Lion Caves. Stellar sea lions have a great sounding growl, very different from the California variety. Barely managed to escape this guy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

S&W Sessions Journal: Pub Life and Missing Men-at-Arms

Our short game over the weekend consisted of a lot of paper work. But between character card updating and role playing mundanities at the local tavern it was really a pretty fun time assisted by a number of whisky shots and beer. I’d done a little more than my usual amount of preparation and was ready for the second level of the dungeon to be explored. That never happened, but I was more than happy for the reprieve and a chance to flesh it out a bit more. A quick trip up, out, and back to the usual tavern HQ was decided upon.

The little hobbit Pikmit (the blind magic user’s guide) was hauled out of the dungeon slung over the shoulder of Wagstaff the Thief and slammed onto the bar. Stebbins (their employer) was sent for, as was usual whore of Henri (their newly one armed men-at-arm). An earlier sample of their now large haul of strange mushrooms had been analyzed by Stebbins' superior and deemed Magic Mushrooms of Underwater Breathing. At least, Stebbins said his employer was pretty sure that’s what they were. We all had a good laugh at the thought of how this might play out later in the game (as the party decided to keep a handful), but a fat sack of 100 gold was handed over to Wagstaff as leader to distribute as he saw fit.

Stebbins was usually in the habit of taking only Wagstaff through the kitchen and into the place where livestock were butchered in order to discuss business. This time, Gulch the assassin was also invited to join them. Stebbins introduced himself and mentioned that he knew of several associates of his at the guild in Haldane far to the West. It seems his services could very well be required of Stebbins’ employers and so he was glad to have made his acquaintance.

Wagstaff relayed how a dwarven friend of his, Aleger, had recently rejoined their party only to be killed by goblins recently in the dungeons of the abandoned chateau. Stebbins offered another sack of gold in compensation for this loss (later discovered to be 50gp), and encouraged the group to acquire more men-at-arms if they could as future expeditions would likely prove ever more perilous for some time.

Inquiries were made as to whether there were any treatment options for their blind magic user. Stebbins told them them that there was a strange man-like creature to the northeast across the river who called himself Sir Froig. He was said to be highly knowledgable of healing herbs and magic. A low hanging dark cloud which never moved in the sky hung continually over the place where they might find this creature. He said that there was also an alchemist in Sarlat some distance further away who might also be of assistance, and that he could send a courier there (for their smaller sack of gold he’d just paid them) if they wished more information from there.

Leaving Stebbins, the night soon faded into a spinning fog of forgetfulness until the next morning when the group regathered on the ground floor to plan their next move over breakfast. It was decided that the still near dead and recuperating halfling would be left to rest at the Turnapeak for awhile, while the rest of the party headed northeast in search of Sir Froig. At this point, everyone demanded to be paid their share of loot and reward - Wagstaff ripped off everyone including even Gulch who’d seen exactly how large the sacks of gold had been. Wagstaff privately conveyed that Gulch should not worry as his extra share would be coming shortly as long as he didn't betray Wagstaff’s confidence.

The two local hired men-at-arms, Gerard and Henri seemed a bit miffed but asked if there was time for them to nip off to the village near Castelnaud to repair or upgrade their armor and weaponry and otherwise re-equip. The rest of the group waited at the tavern, but after the appointed time of a couple of hours, the two had not returned. The party waited another hour, and then another again, but there was no sign of the two. Finally, it was decided that the group would head to the village itself to see if they could be found.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Late to the Party, Brought My Dice

Above are the dice I currently use. The white Gamescience dice I proudly inked and use the most - simple and clean, like my favorite rpg rules. On the left is a home made paper d8. There's also a "die" that came out of a Magic Eight Ball, and of course the Gamescience d30. I obviously don't need this many for regular use but I like to have one everywhere I look when one is needed.

Below are some d10's in the collection which never get used but were fun to design, make, and test. (If you want to try your hand at it yourself, a while back I put up a bunch of PDFs here.)

Below are dice that never get used but that I bought for some reason or acquired when I bought a guy's whole game collection. There's another huge bag of assorted weirdness around here somewhere but I'm too lazy to look for it right now and never use them since they were someone else's to begin with... Can't risk the vibes. I think that bag of different colored dice came out of the Brave Halfling box set.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Rings of Velav

The distrust between the Ogleds and Ocks has spanned several centuries. The river Dordogne that separates the two ethnic groups from one another along with its guarded bridges and frequent inspections has been a major source of irritation to the non-aligned segments of the valley’s residents as well as its smugglers. As a result, numerous means to traverse the border have been devised and used, including tunnels, zip lines, and makeshift watercraft.

During times of war, several of the accomplished magic users of the region developed more advanced methods to make the crossing - devices which they would loan or rent to those deemed reliable enough to return them. Among these are the creations known as the Rings of Velav.

It’s unknown how many of these rings the wizard Velav has crafted, but their magical value is the same. The rings are made of an unknown heavy metal, and come in two colors - each with a matching rune. When removed from the finger and thrown, they will expand after landing to some three feet in diameter. At this point, their center will appear to contain bright lights and fog, corresponding to its original hue. Any item or individual that enters one of these hoops will exit from the other.

The value of Velav’s Rings is diminished by their range - they need to be thrown by an ungloved hand in order to function properly.

The Rings of Velav

The rings come in one of two colors: green or red, with matching runes. When thrown by hand, if landing on a flat and large enough surface, they will adhere to it and expand to a 3’ diameter hoop. Items or individuals entering one hoop will exit the other hoop at the same velocity and with the same inertia as when entering it. For example: A green ring is thrown onto a surface 60’ below, and a red one onto the ground some 10’ away at the same level as the thrower. If the green ring is then jumped into, the jumper will exit the red ring at the original angle of entrance and at the speed of someone falling 60’ (with possible resultant injury).

The thrown and enlarged rings will lose their adhesion and revert to normal size after d6 turns. They cannot be picked up or moved beforehand once enlarged.
A thrown ring cannot be entered until its counterpart has been thrown, its center remaining solid until then.

The rings do not like the timid - those tempted to test the enlarged opening with a toe, stick, etc. will find that the object will protrude from the opposite ring, but after one minute of being penetrated in this manner, both rings will close, perfectly severing anything that was inside.

Clever players or NPCs may discover it’s possible to throw one ring onto a surface and another directly above it at some distance, creating a trap where an individual who falls into the first hoop exits from the second and falls back again into the first, continually falling in this way until the rings once again revert to normal size.

A ring can be thrown into its enlarged opposite. If this is done, both rings will instantly disappear, returning to the laboratory of Velav where he recharges them. The rings will similarly disappear once their last charge has been used -
they typically have 3d6 charges when found.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Two for the Kids - Puzzle Post

In the interest of encouraging kids to take up pen and paper games, here's a couple of word search puzzles - find the B/X monsters (some will be reversed). Maybe this could come in handy for those long vacation car rides or flights? Click the thumbnail image to download them or for a closer look.

Last week's crossword post has been updated with the answers.