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The Barbarian: Personal commission sculpt

The final sculpt for a recent commission, the first of eight planned figures in this series.


Well-thumbed posts

"Nighted" Evening of Lovecraftian Role Playing

I have a talented friend named Ash who, as a game master, is a big proponent of incorporating life-sized props and some evocative theatricality into the role playing games she creates. 

Last year we played in a scenario Ash concocted titled "Nighted" that I think used a simplified version of the Call of Cthulhu role playing game as the undergirding rules. She made a special GM screen that was adorned on the player side with pictures of the house and grounds we were exploring in the game. She prepared a slew of photographs to be handed out, as well as props like scrolls that got progressively more legible the more sanity we were willing to sacrifice in scrutinizing them. There were actual copies of books by the likes of Nietzsche with annotations and marginalia that offered clues. The lights in the room were connected to a remote control so that she could instantly dim them if certain events happened while exploring the game's house. 

The players all had to wear masks Ash h…

Water Terrain: Cheap and Easy

For a while now I've been contemplating a variety of ways of creating a large body of water on which to play out scenarios with miniatures. I can imagine scattering some islands about and having players sailing out to explore them, not too dissimilar from the games Steve Braun likes to put together for cons (see my recaps for Historicon 2017 and Barrage 2018). Part of my dilemma has been that my dining room table is narrow and long (3'x8'), which does not lend itself to investing in a heavy pre-printed mat that's going to awkwardly hang over the table's edges.

About a year ago I bought a dark blue tablecloth and some paints with the intent of trying to make an ocean/sea mat myself but timidity about my ability to pull that off pushed other projects ahead of it in the queue. In the meantime, I came across some nautical-themed plastic disposable party tablecloths on Amazon (here, while the link lasts). When they arrived a couple of months ago, they were a bit thinne…

Historicon 2017: My First Gaming Con

Despite spending hours poring over the GenCon insert included in the first Dragon Magazine I ever bought (#49, with the Hildebrandt dragon cover), it has taken me over 35 years to make it to a gaming convention. I dropped out of the hobby for most of my adult life except for the occasional board game and a handful of role playing game sessions hosted by friends who never gave up the hobby.

After rediscovering in my basement a little over a year ago my box of old D&D miniatures from the early 1980s, I've been experiencing something of a gaming rebirth, developing a special enthusiasm for the miniatures war gaming I never had the opportunity to explore as a kid. In those days, a lack of funds to invest in the massive armies required combined with simply not knowing any grognards as a teenager kept tabletop miniatures gaming dangling in the distance as a tantalizing pastime that I never got to explore.
Now I feel like I'm making up for lost time, acquiring rule sets and amas…

Fall In! 2017 Convention Report

I think I have caught the bug.

Thankfully not the notorious Con Crud (though last September I did fall prey to a virulent strain immediately after exhibiting with my Lost Art Books at the Small Press Expo). And, no, not the Rockin' Pneumonia, either...I seemed to have been cured of that back in 2007 when my last band, The Spontanes, gave up the ghost.

Nope...all of the the symptoms—a growing pile of lead pieces in the shape of fantasy archetypes, subscriptions to YouTube channels dedicated to "terrain crafting," saved eBay search terms such as "oldhammer" and "28mm"—point to a chronic case of the dreaded Miniatures Mania. Perusing the online message boards suggests a grim prognosis for the afflicted: An obsessive preoccupation with "scale creep" and an over-sensitivity to miniatures basing techniques.

Given this diagnosis, it should come as no surprise then that after never having attended a gaming convention in my 47 years, I have now experien…

Hamlet's Heroes

Introduced my friend Francesco to the pleasures of miniatures wargaming yesterday evening, using the great skirmish rules, Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes. He and a mutual buddy, Nate, played the ragged group of heroes defending a small village about to be raided by my band of aggrieved orcs (see scenario intro below).

Hamlet's Heroes (scenario) A band of roving orc reavers recently set up camp in the forest near a small hamlet. One night in a drunken stupor the orc captain wandered into the hamlet’s livestock fields and began fornicating with various animals, a traditional way among the orc of insulting a neighbor. The settlement’s residents heard the noise and ran him off with thrown torches and rocks. The orc stumbled back to his camp, singed and with a long gash along his scalp from one of the sharper of the hurled stones. He was met by his compatriots with a howl of guffaws that continued to echo in his ears long after his men returned to their slumber. To assuage his sha…

D&D Against M.D.

Back in 1985, I was pretty excited when this dot-matrix printed letter arrived in the mail addressed to me. I was 15, and I had probably attended three such tournaments by this point. I'm sure I called and registered immediately. The Tin Soldier was the only dedicated hobby and game store in Dayton in the late '70s and mid-1980s; it was in a pretty distant southern suburb from where I lived, and we rarely found a reason to go to that part of town. These tournaments were an exception, though, and my dad would drive me and my best pals down to the Tin Soldier to play in them, where we got to experience players and Dungeon Masters with wholly different styles and approaches, and then usually parted with some allowance money to pick up a cool new 20-sider or a couple of Ral Partha minis selected carefully from the hundreds hanging from the hooks on the shop's walls. The master of ceremonies at these events was a local TV celebrity (remember those?) named Doctor Creep, who hos…