Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ultimate Combat

This is just me poking some fun at Ultimate Combat. Recently in a Shackled City game which my friend Tom is running, my barbarian King was killed by a trap. Part of the actual problem was the bonuses when raged and when using a two handed weapon. My math skills were not putting all of the bonuses to their highest numbers.


So after King died and our NPC expert trapfinder died, one of my friends who is a maestro of making characters crafted for me a ninja. But no trapfinding skills. Still, it did inspire me to flip through Ultimate Combat myself.

Personally I think Wayne Reynolds is one of the better artists we have in the industry but this cover is terrible.

The samurai on the right facing his enemies, the yeti or what have you on the left semi-facing their enemies and the core fighter thinks that this is an episode of You Think You Can Dance just standing there in the middle of the page making the action too dense and adding nothing of value to it. Who is he looking at? His blades aren't in position to actual strike anything. Worse still, he has the flailing arms thing going on.

We all appreciated Wayne making Orcus have short stubby arms. I mean sure he was the demon prince of the undead but not only was he in the first 4e Monster Manual and therefore a punk, he also had short fat arms.

Fire giants also have this horrible genetic curse. Terrible. It's why their always so pissed off. Imagine never being able to wipe your backside with your stubby little arms? Anger management isn't going to do the trick.

Seriously man. Wayne needs to take one of those little sticky pads, write no backwards flailing arms on it, and then move on.

I also challenge Paizo, if you ever reprint Ultimate Combat, take the fighter out of the center of the picture. You'll have a stronger illustration with a moment of tense potential conflict instead of some moron busting his movies in between two warring forces.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kickstarter Check In

Project Name Estimated Delivery Time Late Months
Dwimmermount 8/1/2012 9
It Came From The Stars 6/1/2012 11
Midgard Tales 12/1/2012 5
Steampunk Musha 10/1/2012 7
28mm Demons & Devils 3/1/2012 2
1650s Rulebook 9/1/2012 8
Imbrian Arts Miniatures 3/1/2013 2
Reaper Miniatures 3/1/2013 2
Red Box Games 10/1/2012 7
Tectonic Craft Studios 6/1/2012 11

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tome of Horrors: What Monsters Would You Have Picked?

Center Stage Miniatures is closing in on their Tome of Horrors Kickstarter.  They have exceeded their initial funding goals and have unlocked a nice variety of bonus figures and add on figures.

The Tome of Horrors is a classic monster tome as it updated a ton of creatures from previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons to first the 3.0 rules, then 3.5 and eventually Pathfinder. Reaper Miniatures did some figures based off the initial art. Now Center Stage Miniatures is taking their shot at it.

I pulled the last version, the Tome of Horrors Complete, down from the shelf today just to page through it and see what monsters I would have went with for miniature purposes.

Amphisbaena: The old snake with a head at each end is very old school. It's also a relatively simple creature. Maybe too simple?

Cat Lord: This would have to be a two part figure. One in the nature version and one in humanoid version.

Bat, Doombat/Mobat: Maybe a slight twist on the figure since they are both large bats? The good thing about something of this nature, is it could work in many situations requiring a giant bat. Often vampire based games tend to have these types of monsters.

Bonesnapper: In some instances, this could work nicely as a raptor.

Cerberus: Depending on how it was made, especially since he's described as being 'Huge', this one could be an interesting 'bonus' style figure.

Cooshee: Come on man, it's an elf dog! A great companion for rangers and other forest walkers, it could also sub as a cool looking dog. It's been in multiple sources from it's credit section.

Daemons: It's possible that Center Stage will do a Kickstarter just for these bad boys as there are quite a few classic bits there.

Dark Stalker: I was kind of surprised this one didn't show up. They have the Dark Creeper but no Stalker? The Stalker is like the boss man!

Demon Shadow: I admit, this one might be kind of hard to capture in miniature form. At least it would be easy to paint.

Demonic Knight: Okay, not quite the Death Knight, but the illustration in the core book is a nice one with a black plate suited knight with a vicious looking two handed sword.

Dragonnel: It's dragon like, could probably be used as a wvyvern but is a HUGE creature so it's feasibility isn't really there.

Eye of the Deep: Not quite a beholder but...

Four Armed Gargoyle: Depending on the sculpt and the paint job, could probably be used for a few different types of creatures ranging from demons and devils to well, gargoyles.

Half-Ogre: The picture by rjt is a great one and would be fun to see cast up.

Khargra: I don't think this one would be popular at all but I don't recall ever seeing a miniature for it. It's also small sized so there could be a few of them.

Greater Medusa: While the whole medusa becomes half snake thing has been done a few times now, it's still a great concept and could be used for some of the various snake races out there.

Skeleton Warrior: Like the Death Knight, a classic from the old Fiend Follow. The illustration by rjt would look good in lead too.

Troll, Ice: The ice troll, like the two headed troll, is an old classic.

Personal favorites... the ones above are mainly real old school or could sub for other monsters. These are ones I just like the look of.

Brass Man: A large construct with a solid picture? Sold!

Golem, Mummy: A medium sized cloth bound creature that players might mistake for a mummy instead of an undead and waste precious undead killing resources against?

Obsidian Minotaur: I like the way the illustration looks. Might be another one that's boring to paint thought as it has no real areas to 'detail', just a huge minotaur shaped hunk of obsidian.

Reliquary Guardian: While it's large, with the 'weeping angels' being so popular from Doctor Who might make some people happy.

Ronus: A wolf with the head of a falcon? Score! I could use a pack of them.

Soul Reaper: A large undead with a scythe? Could also make a great Dread Wraith sub.

The N'gathau: Hellraiser meets D&D. Mind you, this might be better done as a separate Kickstarter to judge interest but it's something I would hopefully be able to back.

Mind you those aren't ALL the ones I'd like to see done up, just the ones I'd most like to see done up. The book is a huge bastich after all.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Knives and Swords: A Visual History

I was in Barnes and Noble last week waiting for the girlfriend to get off work. In the bargain book section, I happen to see this puppy. It's a little over priced I felt but what the hell. Looking up the picture online, I see it's 10% off the price I paid in the store. That pretty much insures I'll never buy another book in the store without doing a look up online first and getting the better price. Gee, I wonder why B&N could be having problems? Could it be selling products through your own damn store online cheaper than in the store? Nah.

Anyway, the book doesn't really start off with knives and swords, but talks about things in historic context. One of the things it shows are some of the weapons the royalty of Egypt might have used, like a dagger with a gold blade and scabbard with a hilt made of blue lapis lazuli. More impressive than that though, was as axe with the center part semi-hollow depicting a warrior on horseback design. It mentioned that axes were often the weapons of the nobility and the richer the person, the more decorative, more design oriented, more lavish, the weapons.

The fact that we're talking about axes here, as opposed to swords, reminded me of an anime I had seen a while ago in that the main character there was a wielder of a spear. In her country, the spear was the top weapon while in the country she was travelling in, it might not necessarily have been a peasant weapon but close enough.

When looking at the different parts of your campaign world, what does the weapon of choice say about the culture? What does it say about the metallurgy skills present? What does it say about the quality of the iron and steel?

While I haven't gone into detail in Knives and Swords, the visuals are nice and the writing, while I'm not sure of it's accuracy, did get me thinking of the value of weapons to culture in terms of status symbols again so that was well worth looking into.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Black Company Sale that's not really a sale

Tor does some great books.

Recently they put on "sale" the first volume of the Black Company for $2.99.


Chronicles of the Black Company is $7.99 It contains the first three books.

There are no other volumes of the Black Company available in their individual format.

I believe the term "horseshit" can be applied to the term "sale" or "special" in regards to selling one volume of the Black Company at that price.

I get that on one hand if you're never heard of the Black Company spending the $2.99 isn't necessarily that bad a deal but then what? You can't buy the other volumes in individual format. You have to buy the big book and unless I'm mistaken, they aren't going to comp you that costs.

A real sale would be putting the Chronicles on sale itself and letting people get a better taste of it that way.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I am not the huge Judge Dread fan many people I know are. It's not that he's not an impressive character. It's not that he hasn't been around for years. It's not that he doesn't even have a song about him. I've enjoyed the comics where he's run into Batman say but for the most part, I haven't seen much about the character. Mind you Mongoose has tried to change that on many levels with role playing games and miniatures. Heck, before this, there was rumored to even be another movie.

I'll be discussing some specifics of the movie below but for those who want a snapshot yea or nay? Its worth at least a rental. The movie is very action packed but doesn't feel like one long action sequence. Its broken down into digestible chunks and Dredd comes off as a tough mentor without the story being vast and overpowering but rather just another day in Mega City One.

In terms of Dredd for inspiration as a RPG thought? Well, as I mentioned, there's already a RPG or has been. There's also the miniature line.

The movie brings out many good bits.

First off, gangs and judges are both small groups. Both empowered past that of normal people. Sound like adventurers to me. While it's easy to see this scenario in some post apocalyptic world, such as Game's Workshop skirmish level game, it's also easy to see something like this for say, a fantasy setting where the outside territories are dangerous. Imagine if the Spellplague did REAL damage to the Forgotten Realms and most of the setting was plague land? Imagine if Greyhawk was mostly lifeless outside of the city proper. Imagine it all being in a drow city with mind flayers and other powerful entities to contend with as all surface life has been destroyed. (Say the hated second adventure path by Paizo actually succeeded.)

Another bit that fits most adventurers is Judge Dredd wields the Lawgiver. A unique weapon that has unique abilities, ammunition and well, can only be used by him. Sounds like a powerful magic item eh?

In this film, the individual he tutors is Anderson, a psychic. So Dredd is the ultimate bad ass while Anderson doesn't do bad, but also has psychic powers. Sounds like an adventuring group where each character has some specialty but they overlap a little eh?

The movie does have a few interesting twists though. For example, corrupt judges. In a setting as harsh as this one, such corruption probably isn't out of place. Indeed, neither Dredd nor Anderson seem too surprised by it and make relatively short work of the corrupt judges. In a long term campaign setting though, such incidents may have a long term effect.

For example, one of the character themes of Spears of the Dawn, is that the characters are a social class, a special caste of individual that is there to help the common people. If too many of their fellow Spears turn out to be nothing more than bandits, rogues or scoundrels, what type of reception can the players expect from those they work for, with, or around?

The setting as shown here, is ripe for adventurer. It would actually make a great television show except for one part. Eventually, some one some where would decide to 'humanize' Dredd which would be the mistake. If they did a show, they should only have him show up in 'guest' capacity. Dredd is the ultimate law man but people may feel him boring after a while. Not me mind you. He's like the ultimate player character given flesh. "Choke on this." and other one liners fly from his lips quickly and his ability to pass punishment due to his status makes him a powerful figure.

In terms of setting up a dungeon crawl, you could do worse than steal a few bits from Dredd.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Elric: The Balance Lost

Over at Comixology right now, 5/1/2013, they are having a sale on some Elric comics. I already have these in trade form but bought the electronic editions anyway. I figure I'm more likely to be by my tablet then by my collection anyway.

Reading them over again, I'm struck by how good the variant cover artist, Francesco Mattina is. The strength of his painting alone could make me want to run a Dungeon Crawl Classic or even support the new Luke Crane game on Kickstarter.

When looking for inspiration, don't forget the material you may already have read. Don't forget the images that inspired you. We live in a near golden age of visual medium that hosts images from modern art to those done hundreds of years ago. Don't allow inspiration to pass you by because you need those old styling again.

Another nice thing is how the writer is able to take different parts of the whole Million Spheres and other bits that Moorcock has woven about in numerous previous books and make them, if not into one seamless whole, into something that is passable. If you're a fan of the old Elric mythos and want to see The Three Who Are One again, this is a good sale for you.