Wednesday, December 27, 2023

2023 Reading - UPDATED

In my original 2023 Reading post made earlier this month, I thought that I had quit reading for this year and was ready to pick it back up next year.  I found myself on Christmas break from work and I decided to get a head start on one of next year's books I planned on reading. I wound up finishing the book I selected so I am updating my 2023 Reading post.  

Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson: I have planned on reading this book for some time now and just got around to it this year.  I was really looking forward to this book because I knew it was part of Appendix N and I've always heard people say it has a great representation of a Paladin as the main character.  After reading this book, what are my thoughts? I expect some pushback on my opinion.

I gave Three Hearts and Three Lions a score of 3 stars on Goodreads. If you're not familiar with Goodreads, books can be rated on a range of 1 - 5 stars.  These ratings do not allow for partial scores such as 4.25 stars.  It's not uncommon for members to give their partial score in their written and I did that in my review.  

My actual score for Three Hearts and Three Lions was 3.25 to 3.5 stars.  I enjoyed the book and found it an easy read, but I had some issues.  I prefer fantasy works to be on the epic or grander end of the spectrum. This book definitely felt like it was more on the mundane end. I prefer reading fantasy books with much more meat on the bone from lore and backstory.  This book seemed to barely scratch the surface.  It did do a good job of representing the conflict of Law and Chaos.  I respect the fact that Three Hearts and Three Lions is a foundational work of modern fantasy, but it didn't match my personal tastes.  

Sunday, December 10, 2023

2023 Reading

I usually plan to read 12 books every year, but I failed to do so in 2023.  I didn't even come close to reaching that goal. In fact, I only read 2 books this year!  I made several attempts that turned out to be false starts that I never was able to recover from and continue on with those books for one of several reasons.  I'm not going to post about any of those failures, but I will post some thoughts on the books I did complete in 2023. 

Swan Song by Robert McCammon: I stumbled on to this book while I was browsing in one of the local bookstores.  I had never heard of the book or the author, but I decided to take a chance on this one. I did watch a few YouTube reviews before reading this book and noticed it kept getting compared to The Stand by Stephen King.  I was immediately interested as that's one of my favorite books.  I wasn't disappointed at all in my decision to read this book.  It does share many similar themes with The Stand and I think if you enjoyed one then you would enjoy the other. I think it could very well come down to you getting the most enjoyment out of whichever one you read first.  I would read it again and I will definitely read more works by McCammon in the future.  

Knight of the Demon Queen by Barbra Hambly: I decided to read this book because I enjoyed the first two books - Dragonsbane and Dragonshadow - in her Winterlands series. I remember seeing the first book on the shelf several times at my high school library.  I always intended to read it back then, but I wound up checking something else out before recalling my intentions to read Dragonsbane. One of my goals as an adult it to reading those books that caught my eye earlier in my life, but I never had gotten around to it.  I found all four books in the series at a local used bookstore in very good condition and a really reasonable price, so I bought all of them. I enjoyed the first two books quite a bit and I was looking forward to reading all of them.  The third book, Knight of the Demon Queen, started off good and was consistent with the feel and tone of the previous two books but I hit a snag later in the book. At that point, part of the story takes place in a futuristic cyberpunk setting.  It felt completely out of place to me and my reading slowed to a crawl at this point. I struggled to complete the book and I was very thankful it returned to fantasy in the final chapter.  It threw me for such a loop that I'm now re-evaluating whether or not I want to continue by reading the final book in the series.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Looking Ahead...

I miss the days when this blog was much more active and I'm not happy with the minimal posting I've done over the last several years. I'm at a point where I need to make a decision about what I'm going to do moving forward.  I'm not going to erase the contents of this blog, but I might just shut it down and leave it here in case anyone tis interested in the posts or some of the other content; I do have people still downloading the Adventures in Fantasy character sheet from time to time so that's cool. Some of the things that will affect my decision or my ability to post regularly will be discussed below.

In January of 2024 it will be one year since I accepted a position in the Quality Assurance department of my employer.  Of course, the increased salary came with more responsibilities and more time commitments so that will definitely affect how often I can post on the blog.  Fortunately, the decision to accept this position was the correct one because I do enjoy my job and the challenges tremendously. On top of that, we are in the process of launching two new models of school bus so that will definitely be demanding on my time as well.  I would assume that from December of 2023 to the end of the first quarter of 2024, it will be the most challenging period for us.

The main subject of this blog will still be roleplaying games and related subjects with various posts about reading, miniatures, fan films, and pretty much whatever else grabs my attention.  I know the OGL drama seems to have settled down, but I think I'm going to look into moving away from using the OGL to post anything.  I'm most likely gong to post nothing but house rules like new races, new monsters, etc. from my campaign but I think I'm going to play it safe and use a different format other than Delving Deeper to post the information. Make no mistake about it, Delving Deeper is still my game of choice and I will always recommend it and my home campaign will be ran using it. I just think for posting stuff in a public area such as this I'm going to use a format inspired by the old gaming products of the past that were "close but not quite D&D".  Maybe I'm being too cautious?  I'm not a lawyer by any means and I don't have the time to commit to writing a new clone from scratch at this point. I did take the time, however, to come up with this new format in a 2 page pdf.  It still needs a little bit of tweaking, but I will post it here in the near future.

At this point, I think the best estimate I can make for 2024 is committing to post once per week. I can use whatever subject I like so the post may come any day of the week.  I could post for "Miniature Monday" one week and then "Fan Film Friday" for the next.  That does NOT mean I won't pick up the pace at some point but once a week should not be an unrealistic goal. 

I plan on evaluating progress every 90 days of 2024.  I've also started bullet journaling for work and for home/recreation so that has helped me quite a bit.  I like having concrete plans on paper that I can look at and track progress. I never used the bullet journal method before, but I used to track things much better and I lost that in my recreational activities, so it fell by the wayside and took a backseat.  Hopefully, I can maintain a healthy and productive work/life balance from now on.  It's not unhealthy right now but it is somewhat lopsided, and I need to correct the course.  Let's see what happens on the road ahead...

Monday, April 10, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Grave Wraith has been demanding lately.  I just realized it's been a month or a little over since my last post.  We had a four-day weekend at work, so I decided to paint this Grave Wraith miniature that I've been meaning to paint for a while.  I began by opening the miniature, cleaning it with dish soap and water, and then mounting in on a base.

The second step was painting the main color.  I went with a Skeletor inspired color for the robe.  I also decided to add in some black in the face area and a few other small areas.

Then I painted the gravestone and the sword as well as the tiny Skeletal fingers wrapped around the hilt of the sword.
Then I painted the earthen area by the feet and gravestone.
Next, I did some touchup in the areas that need it done.

Finally, I did a wash on the miniature and then put a coat of Brush on Sealer once the wash had dried.  

Monday, March 6, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Naga Part II

I completed the second Naga using mostly Vallejo Xpress Color paints for the majority of the miniature.  I would have used them for all of the miniature but there are not metallic paints in the range as of yet and when I returned to buy more the display rack was already down to less than half full. It went much quicker than the Naga I painted in another post.  I will definitely buy more of the Xpress Color paints because they make the process so much quicker to complete.

Monday, February 27, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Vallejo Xpress Color

I made a stop at one my local FLGS locations on Friday and noticed they had a rack of the Vallejo Xpress Color paints setup in their shop.  I tried the standard Vallejo paints when I first started painting and I have remained a fan of them ever since.  I have tried a variety of paints, but I still maintain a healthy selection of the Vallejo range in my collection.  

After browsing through the rack, I decided to pick up three bottles of the Xpress Colors to test them out on an unpainted miniature this weekend.  I still had an unpainted Naga miniature in my collection.  I decided to paint it so I could compare it with the other one I painted a while back. I did not finish painting the Naga but it wasn't because I was disappointed with the results.

I used Snake Green (far right) for most of the body and yellow for the mid-section of the front.  You can tell the difference between the other Naga (left in the picture) and this new one.  The reason I chose to stop painting is because I'm enjoying using this paint and I'm going back to pick up the other bottles before I continue painting.  We get our bonus payout at work this week and that's going to be my splurge item.  

The Xpress Color paint is really smooth and flows like milk.  It's going to take a minor adjustment on my painting method but that's not a bad thing.  I can skip the wet palette for these, and it seems like one coat will most likely do the trick.  Simply put, I can paint more miniatures in a shorter amount of time.  Since my miniatures are for in-game use rather than competition or showcase then that's perfect for me.


Monday, February 20, 2023

[Miniature Monday] I Need a Working Space

I have no completed miniature to showcase in this post but here's a look at my current painting area.  Yes, it's part of my kitchen countertop and I need to change it.  I'm going to be on the hunt for a reasonably priced desk or table and some sort of paint stands (or something similar) to get this mess moved from my kitchen to the other room.  I always thought I was just going to have a few bottles of paint and a few miniatures because I intended to give this part of the hobby a try and put it back down.  Now I have over 40 bottles of paints, several sets of brushes, and an accumulated collection of miniatures waiting to be painted.  I'll update in the future when I get a dedicated space.

Monday, February 13, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Mind Flayer


I've had this miniature for a while, but I was holding off until I thought I was good enough to paint it reasonably well.  I finally got tired of waiting and decided to give it a whirl.  I didn't have to remove any paint or any major rework during the painting process so I'm pretty happy with the results.  I now have a table ready Mind Flayer for my collection.  I need to look into some of the other old monsters such as Beholders and Ropers sometime in the future.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

02/5 - 02/11 is a Wash

For the week of 02/05/2023 to 02/11/2023 there will be zero content posted other than this post.  My new position at work finds me really enjoying what I'm doing but this week was a curve ball and required an extraordinary amount of overtime.  I put in 70 hours, and I just don't have it in me.  A temporary lull in posting and then it should pick back up soon.   

Monday, January 30, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Goblins

I began the paint job on these goblins almost 2 years ago.  I only painted the exposed akin areas and then I closed on my house so were lost in the shuffle for a bit.  During the last week I was at a point where I was between painting projects, so I settled on these Goblins.  I was originally planning on painting only one of them. I wasn't really satisfied with the results, so I decided to continue on with some more.  As you can see from the picture, I wound up painting three of the Goblin miniatures.  

I know I've stated several times that I'm not a competition painter and I have no intention of becoming one. I kept thinking that the results would eventually turn out better, but it didn't matter what I tried to do to produce a better paint job. I'm really not happy with the results.  I'm pretty much meh on these three Goblins.  They do pass my arm length test of not resembling a blob of paint, but these are definitely the miniatures I am least satisfied with in my collection. 

What are my thoughts on this experience?  I did experiment with painting the base of one of the Goblins black.  I do like that and may continue to do so but I will use the black circles instead of the tiled circles in the future.  Maybe it's the lack of a strong contrast between the color of the Goblin skin and the clothing that doesn't quite work for me? Maybe my paints were properly thinned or mixed for this project?  Maybe I'm overthinking it and being too critical?  I honestly don't know on this one.  I do have three more Goblins to paint so I will give it another go sometime down the road.

Monday, January 23, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Kobold


I completed my first Kobold miniature and I still have 5 more left to paint. This is one of the few tiny miniatures I have attempted.  I am not disappointed in the results, but I do see some areas that need improvement.  I need to give in and open up the smaller brushes I bought just for this size of figures. 


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Dungeon23 Part 6: Merchant Row

I'm starting my #Dungeon23 posts back up, but I can't guarantee that I will be posting something related to it every day of 2023.  There are four main reasons for this decision.  First, I want to post about other topics than the #Dungeon23.  Second, I am treating my #Dungeon23 posts as an exercise in brainstorming a rough draft that will lead to an updated pdf compilation later. Third, I am most likely going to use statistics that are system agnostic or at least not tied to the OGL. Fourth, I accepted a new job at my employer, and I have no idea what the time commitment will be, so I need to maintain some sort of balance between all of my commitments.  With that being said, let's move on to the next #Dungeon23 post.

Monday, January 16, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Mimic


Since my last two painted miniatures were a closed treasure chest followed by an open treasure chest full of gold coins in only seemed natural that a mimic should be next.  It's not an "official D&D branded miniature" but rather a mocking beast from Reaper Bones.  As you can see, it serves the purpose I'm going to use it for quite well.  I was a little concerned with how the teeth and mouth would turn out, but after applying a wash to the miniature it obscured most of the problem areas that had me concerned. I know I still have a lot of improvement to do in some skill areas, but I'm definitely satisfied with the results.  The main thing is that it passes the table use appearance test so it's all good.  It also looks consistent with the other two chest miniatures. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Talisman Adventures FRPG Core Rulebook


During a recent trip to Tulsa, I stopped at Wizard's Asylum to browse through the shelves to see what was in stock.  I saw a few things that caught my interest but nothing that just really took a hold on me.  I decided to check out the bargain section at the back of the store before I left.  I always enjoy seeing what they have to offer in that section.  I'm glad I made that decision because I got lucky.

I found a copy of the Talisman Adventures Fantasy Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook for 50% off the normal price of $49.99 and it was still in the shrink wrapping.  I picked it up and turned it all around so I could inspect the condition.  The book had no damage that I could see. The only reason it was in the bargain section was due to the fact that it was their only remaining copy and it had sat on the shelf unsold for a while.  I didn't know much about the book, but I decided to go ahead and buy it for my collection.  

I haven't done a deep dive or any serious reading of the rules yet, but I do like what I've seen so far.  One thing I have noticed is these rules don't just follow the standard expectations of most fantasy roleplaying games.  In addition to the Human, Elf, and Dwarf ancestries you can play a Ghoul, Leywalker, Sprite, or Troll.  The character classes available include the Assassin, Druid, Minstrel, Priest, Prophet, Scout, Sorcerer, Thief, Warrior, and Wizard. As you can see, there is a mix of the standard options plus a few more. 

I picked up this book with no prior experience with the Talisman board game or any previous experience with this fantasy roleplaying adaptation.  As I previously mentioned, I haven't done any major reading so far but I'm digging what I've seen up to this point.  I will definitely check out these rules in full detail and will make further posts on this game in the future.

Do you have any experience with this game?

Have you played the Talisman board game?

Monday, January 9, 2023

[Miniature Monday] Open Treasure Chest

"Full of gold" is the answer to what's inside the chest.  I tried to pain gold pieces, silver pieces, and maybe put a few gems in the chest but I was never satisfied with the results.  After it dried, I decided to make it full of gold, so I painted that part again.  I'm really satisfied with the results.  

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Dungeon23 on Hold - Waiting on FULL OGL update

As the old saying goes, "things change", and it looks like the OGL is changing in a big way. This new OGL version 1.1 goes in a completely different direction than OGL version 1.0a.  My plan was to use Delving Deeper statistics for detailing any NPCs, magic items, monsters, etc. that might pop up during my #Dungeon23 posts.  I have decided to hold off on any posts until after January 13th of 2023, because that keeps getting thrown around as some sort of cutoff date.  I would like the full details that come with that date before continuing on with any support for any type of OGL product.  I'm most definitely not a lawyer experienced in intellectual property law, copyright, trademark, contract law, or any other similar area.  I'm just a gamer with a blog that gets a small bit of traffic and interaction from time to time.  I like putting up stuff to support the games I like BUT now I have to decide whether to support any OGL game in my blog or use some sort of "fair use and no infringement intended" notice to any house rule posts I put on my blog. I suspect the OGL tab at the top of my blog will disappear at some point in the future.  Make no mistake about it, I think Delving Deeper is one of the best games I have in my collection.  I have no problem with it, but I do have a problem supporting the OGL.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Dungeon 23 Part 5: Notice Board [Catch Up Post]

This post is the first #Dungeon23 post of the day and will serve to get me caught up.

The notice board was placed in the main square of Frane years ago. It began as a way for the city officials to communicate with the citizenry and visitors. The notice board has grown to allow job postings and other types of announcements. People are free to place their information on the board all to read.  Some examples of the information that can be found on the notice board are stated below.

[1] Help Wanted at The Riverfront.  Dockmaster Jim seeks new dockhands. 

[2] Caravan to Aren seeking extra escorts. Contracts can be negotiated with the trademaster.

[3] Have you seen my cat? For reward, see Jasper.

[4] Survey team for newly discovered mine seeking extra security and help.  

[5] Have you heard the message of The Redeemer? Come to our Temple on the West side of the city.

[6] Help needed - Looking for a sturdy group to retrieve Nightshade.

[7] Rat infestation needs clearing.

more to come...

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Slight Pause

Just a heads up for anyone interested, there will NOT be a #Dungeon23 post on 01/05/2023 (today) because I'm not quite satisfied with that entry BUT there will be 2 separate posts on 01/06/2023.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Dungeon23 Part 4: Serenity Inn

I'm foregoing a map depicting the Serentiy Inn at the moment.  The inn is more for background and flavor rather than important location that needs everything mapped out; most of that can be done one the fly if it's needed.  Honestly, I'm just not excited about drawing a floor plan for an inn right at this moment.  I will, however, provide some information below that may come up during play.

The Serenity Inn is located on the West side of the road a short distance inside of Frane.  The husband-and-wife team of Otto and Brianna have operated the establishment ever since Otto's father passed it down to his son a few years ago.  They maintain a welcoming atmosphere for the citizenry and visitors of Frane and the Serenity Inn has continued to be a popular place for celebrations and activities.

The main dining area has a counter that can seat eight people while there are 12 tables that can accommodate 4 people each.  There is a fireplace to keep the building warm and storytellers or minstrels have been known to perform from time to time in the main hall.  There is also a private party room that can be rented out by the hour as well as 6 rooms upstairs that can be rented for a comfortable night's sleep.  Some of the more popular dishes served at the Serenity Inn include potato soup, roast, and fish from the nearby river.

There are rarely any issues at the Serentiy Inn that can't be fixed by a warm bowl of soup or a refreshing cup of mead.  It's a pretty lowkey place without much drama.  If one asks around, some of the rumors you might hear include the following.

[1] A mine has recently been uncovered south of the river.

[2] The evil snake-cult of Grax has tried recruiting in town recently.

More to come later...

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Dungeon 23 Part 3: North Gate

The North Gate of Frane generally stays open during daylight hours and gets closed when the sun starts lowering in the sky. Two guards (G), stationed on each side of the entrance, monitor the traffic coming through the gate.  Their main intent is to keep a watchful eye out for unsavory people that are known criminals and scam artists.  The guards also ensure that all vendors entering the city have their associated permits to set up a tent or stand in the Merchant Row area.  

These guards typically serve 8-hour shifts before getting relieved by the next shift.  If a situation arises that they cannot handle on their own, each guard has a whistle to blow in case of emergencies as well as a large bell hanging by the gate.  Using either of these will alert other members of the city watch to respond; typically, 2+1D6 of the guards will immediately respond.  When the gate is closed at nightfall, anyone seeking entrance must speak to the guards through the window in the middle of one of the doors.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Dungeon23 Part 2: Frane Map with Points of Interest

 The North Gate (1) and South Gate (9) are typically patrolled by two guards on watch.  They handle disturbances at the gates and ensure traffic flows smoothly.  They usually keep the gate open during the day and close them when the sun starts going down.  The guards have been instructed to tighten up security during this time. 

The Serenity Inn (2) is the third building on the West side of the road inside the North Gate.  Patrons can get a hardy bowl of stew, a mug of mead, or other refreshments.  There are several tables for seating and entertainment is available at times in the form of a storyteller or minstrels. The second floor has six rooms available to rent for a reasonable price.

Continuing South down the road you will find the Main Square (3) in the center of the city.  In the center of this area is the Notice Board (4) with various listings posted on it.  Situated around this area are tents, carts, and wagons comprising the Merchant Row (5) offering various goods for purchase by shoppers. A member of the city watch is usually stationed here to ensure that all vendors have a permit and to keep disputes civil.  

Travelling West down the street, you can find a Temple of the Redeemer (6) a short walk away from the Main Square area.  Across the street from the temple, Henrik's Supplies (7) offers all sorts of gear and items for sale.  Southeast of the Merchant Square area, The Bloody Claw (8) is tavern that has been known to host a rough crowd at times. 

Exiting the South Gate (9) you can access the bridge crossing over the river, or you can turn West and visit Riverfront (10), a port and dock area that serves as a stopping point of the local trade route among several cities.

[Miniature Monday] Closed Treasure Chest


A treasure chest miniature should get quite a bit of use in a fantasy game so it seemed like a "must buy" when I found this miniature at one of my local gaming stores. I had a little bit of difficulty with the silver parts because they were so small.  It was more to do with the steady hand, but I got just a touch of overage on the brown parts in some places. It took a few touchups before I got it almost perfect but then I remembered I paint for utility rather than competition.  Does it look good at arm's length?  Yes, it does.  I'm even more satisfied with it after applying a wash because it basically eliminated any issues.  The only thing to figure out now is what's inside of the chest?

Sunday, January 1, 2023

D&D 50th Anniversary in 2024

Based on an idea originally proposed by The Perilous Dreamer in this post at his blog, I am committing to posting once a month every month in 2023 leading up to the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons.  Unless I missed something, Wizards has given no indication they will recognize, celebrate, or otherwise commemorate this event. I have some thoughts and ideas on the upcoming 50th anniversary and how to make it meaningful in one way or another.

On a personal level, if you're a fan of OD&D then I would like to echo the recommendations of others to have some sort of reunion game.  Some members of your old playing group still reside nearby? Send out an invitation to have a reunion session.  If you have a blog, you could post some memories of OD&D game sessions or post an old character or some homebrewed OD&D material.  There are a ton of possibilities.

When it comes to Wizards/Hasbro I have a simple idea - make OD&D and the supplements print on demand at DriveThruRPG; even if for a limited time.  I have the pdfs but I would buy pod just so I wouldn't have to print them out myself and assemble the books.  I know they did the wooden box reprint set but this would allow people that missed out on that to own physical copies as well.  That's not anything extravagant and it would be easy to do for the 50th anniversary.

What are your ideas for celebrating the 50th anniversary of D&D?

Dungeon23 Part 1: Overworld Map

This is the overland map of the immediate area around the city of Frane in the center of the map.  Some information related to this setting and map is listed below.

The lower left-hand corner of the map contains the directional compass.  

The center of the map contains the city of Frane.  There has been pretty steady growth for several years and Frane is on the verge of becoming a hot spot or destination area for travelers. Frane is located on the North side of the river and there is a small dock and port area along the river that has spawned a fish market.  The port is a stop along the river trade route among several cities. There is a road leading North out of the city gates and a road on the South bank of the river.

Following the road North, there are three areas of interest not far from the city.  A set of ruins is to the East while a small village and lies to the West along with a small hut housing an old man close to the pond. Rumors persist that he could be a hermit, a wizard, and other interesting claims.

There is a recently uncovered opening in the small mountains on the south side of the river.  A recent storm system saw several lightning strikes in that area that caused several rockslides to occur. A survey team noticed the opening and has sent word back to the city for the possibility of further exploration.