Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Kitbashed Dungeon of Doom!

Part of the fun of working on my own RPG system "Legends of Steel" is the chance I've had to do some honest to god face to face gaming. The only problem was that 99% of my gaming supplies are sitting in a storage shed in Hawaii. Well piece by piece I have been able to gather together some supplies here to try and make the gaming experience a bit more visual for my players. I started off by haunting EBay looking for a dungeon building system called Dungeonworks. These are plastic dungeon wall sections placed on a metallic board and held in place by magnets in their bases. I was quite lucky to win a series of auctions at a great price giving me a total of six sets for under $40.00
I then used a combination of AD&D miniatures, Mageknight dungeon dressings, Heroquest pieces and various toy snakes and spiders. The result looks pretty decent if I do say so myself.

My thanks to Ed W. and Fred J. for their help in getting some nice startup pieces.

up on the "header" you can see some of the pieces used by my son Anthony for his "Dungeon of Doom. He built a dungeon featuring a torture chamber, wizard's lab, evil chapel, and a big snake room. Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2004

"Man, you come right out of a comic book."

King Arthur came out in DVD last week. It sunk at the box office but I still found myself liking it, not loving it mind you, but liking it in my own gamer geek fan boy way. It's a dirty gritty re-telling of the Arthur legend. No chrome armor, jousting tournaments or fairy tale castles this time. This movie tries a more historical slant (as historical as Hollywood allows anyway). Arthur is a Roman/Briton commander; his "knights" are indentured cavalrymen from Eastern European barbarian tribes. And his lovely Guinevere is a Celtic warrior chick. Merlin is a holy man and tribal leader but doesn't have any magical powers per se. The "bad guys" are the Saxons, who surprisingly are the "good guys" a few hundred years later in Robin Hood.

When I saw the movie in the theatre I remember being disappointed that the battles seemed so tame. Now with the DVD I understand why. It seems that the director was going for a hard R rating when he was filming, but in postproduction he was told by Disney that they want it toned down to pg-13, hence the tame, bloodless battles. Well that isn't the case with the DVD version.

This movie is bloody as all hell now with limbs and heads being severed left and right. For me the violence helped sell the movie. Another little concession I made was to watch the movie and not think of it as an attempt at the Arthur legends- I saw it more as a war movie where this commander is in charge of an outpost facing overwhelming odds. With him are his elite team of warriors: the strong guy, the bow chick, the sword master, the "kid", the Axe dude, the knife guy, and the loyal friend guy who uses two swords. And suddenly it becomes the testosterone charged guy flick (Dirty Dozen, Magnificent Seven, 13th Warrior, etc.) that its supposed to be.

Hell, all we needed was Jim Kelly as the kung fu guy.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Conan Christmas

it was quite a REH Christmas for me. amongst my gifts were the new Conan TPB, the Frazetta Calender for 2005, A copy of the "whole wide world" on DVD. and a chance to get caught up on Kurt's work in the Conan comic. I haven't gotten to the stories yet in the Bloody crown book,but I must say I enjoyed Rusty's introduction.

the Calender is always a treat. I'm from the generation where Conan is personified by Frazetta's artwork. I'm one of the "unwashed masses" that enjoyed the hell out of the ace books, only later did I learn the joys of pure Howard. but in my teenage years those paperbacks with the frazetta covers always had a place in my backpack, as did the Gor books, but thats another story...(slave girls, yummy).

I hadn't seen the "Whole Wide World" in quite a long time. and ever since i found out that it was in the $5.00 bin at the Wal-Marts, I've been looking for it. the wife spotted it for me. It was a nice story, I enjoyed Vincents portrayal of Howard, My wife enjoyed it as well and it gave her a glimpse of this man whose work I talk of often. she was sad for him.

I had a growing stack of Conan's to read, so during a holiday lull i dived into a few issues. I didn't care for the Hyperborean adventure (still couldn't get over the fact that the Hyperboreans looked like Dr. Seuss had drawn them). but I was very pleased with the stories from then on. the childhood tale was good as was the two Nemedians in the bar story (did anyone else think that the two Nemedian bravos resembled Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser?).

Monday, December 20, 2004

They got it so right!

Over the weekend I finally had a chance to watch my copy of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King-extended version. Needless to say I was impressed. Now I know my accolades are nothing new to any fan of the genre or of the literary work itself, but I just want to say that watching the whole thing unfold in front of me was just such a cool experience. And to think that these folks crafted THREE movies of this scope to tell a rendition of a piece of classic literature is really amazing.
When you stop and think about it, I mean damn - the sets, the props, the technology, the editing of the story, the sheer damn magnitude of the whole effort of creating three movies, together, at the same time is just unheard of. The effort itself should be considered one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history.
I don't know, maybe in this pop culture- instant gratification- short attention span world we live in today, it's easy to become jaded and toss this aside while we wait for the next episode of Survivor. But in any other time a movie series this huge would be a cultural event.
The attention to the smallest detail, the meshing and melding of the written story into a screenplay, the epic scale of the battles- this is the type of movie our genre needed. This is our "Casablanca", our "Sound of Music", and our "Godfather". "The Lord of the Rings" movies are what we lovers of fantasy adventure knew could be made if folks making it had the right amount of dedication, love of the story, and strength to fight for the integrity of the project. Thank goodness for Peter Jackson and his team. They set the bar so high with this trilogy, that if nothing ever comes close, at least we know that Professor Tolkien's vision was done justice.

Oh, and did you catch Bruce Spence's portrayal of the Mouth of Sauron? It was too damn cool!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Up in the belltower

I enjoy sniping on ebay, it's the closest I'll ever come to hunting. I kinda get a twinge of regret when I snipe a really cool item from some poor slob with a feedback of 12. But I really enjoy sniping a dealer. when I see that my opponent has a feedback of 25987 and a power seller icon, then all bets are off. that reseller scumbag is mine, baby!
I know for a fact that the item in question aint going to his kids, or even up on a shelf in a joe room, he's gonna re-list it with better keywords and recoup his investment-plus. I feel it's my holy duty to thwart those scumbags. I go for the grandma angle a lot. I look where most folks dont, and I aint afraid to use the word doll. I've found quite a few hidden "Action figure" treasures mis-labled by uninformed grandmas as dolls. problem is those power sellers know what to look for as well. they are like the barracudas at the yard sales that troll around at 7am to buy all the good stuff from the yardsale on saturday morning-only to take it all to the flea market and re-sell it on sunday. I dont do strip clubs anymore and I only game every other weekend so I get my diversions where I can find em.

Monday, November 29, 2004

the Alamo

I saw the Alamo this last weekend. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to see it on the big screen back in march but I didn't have time. I know it didn't do well at the box office, dismal by current $$ standards, but I wasn't sure if it was because the movie was misunderstood or just plain bad. After watching it I have to say it was probably misunderstood. It may have been marketed as a patriotic film, but to me it was more of a character study of the three mythic heroes of the Texas Pantheon, Jim Bowie-Davey Crockett-William "Buck" Travis -Sam Houston (None of whom surprisingly, were Texans).
In the movie these guys were portrayed, as men of greatness who were as flawed as any of us would be. I appreciated that. I also appreciated the portrayals of the Tejano defenders and the slaves.
Once again the commentary on the DVD's added to my enjoyment of the film by providing some interesting insight that wouldn't have been available to me had I seen the movie in the theater. I took a look at the comment sections over at Amazon and at the IMDB site and I found quite a few negative reviews of the movie. Folks were posting that it was long and boring and that the fight at the end was just a chaotic mess Most of those comments I attribute to those folks who went to see it expecting something more in line with Braveheart, Gladiator, or the Patriot. There were even guys making fun of the clothing (which was historically accurate to the time). Once I started reading the posts I found that the few defenders of the movie were guys like me who had an interest in the historical points and had done a bit of reading of the period and the issues involved in the conflict. Given that, it was easy to dismiss the silly hat comments.
Overall my feeling is that the movie is good. But it must be taken as it is intended, a movie adaptation of the siege of the Alamo. Not historically by the book, but the closest in realism of the several movies that have been done on the subject.

Legends of Steel update

Well the project continues. I am writing stuff every spare minute I can. I've got my oldest son and some friends play-testing it every other weekend. And I have some experienced gamer buddies giving the rough drafts a once over and giving me their thoughts and concerns. Seeing as this is a one-man operation I think I'm doing pretty damn good. I'm finding that the hardest thing in the whole process is keeping it simple. I want it to have (as one of my buddies puts it) a "Wahoo!" feeling to it. But I also want it to be mechanically sound. Character generation is done. Combat is moving along, as is magic and Psionics, but it looks like magic and Psionics is gonna need a bit more tweaking. Some are advising a open spell creation system Ala' Hero games' Fantasy Hero system but I feel if I make it in that vein then "simple" goes out the door. Hmmmm??

Research -wise I'm watching movies ("Sword and the Sorcerer" the other day) and reading comics (I just won a set of Atlas comics titles "Wulf the Barbarian" and "Iron Jaw" comics). Doing this always helps bring me down from the "rules rafters" and reminds me of what I want to create here, a fun game that can be played quickly rather than a set of ponderous rules that intimidate casual players. The saga continues...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


It's been hard keeping up with my Blogging for the last couple of months. But in a good way I suppose.

Legends of Steel is coming along nicely. I'm just about done with the core portions and then I'll start on the fluff like DM sections and a sample campaign world. Right now I'm trying to tackle the magic and Psionics section. Then come the tough part...monsters. Research wise I've been reading more than I have been watching. I just got a nice run of Claw the unconquered and Arion of Atlantis from DC. And I'm looking for some cheap copies of other S&S comics (Dagar, Stalker, Skull the slayer). We are playing every other Saturday night though I wish I had at least one more player. My Son and Fred's daughter have been a godsend in the play test area showing me the gaps in the rules that only a 13 year-old power-gamer can find. The last game session was kind of weak and the blame for that rests on me alone. My players are not big on puzzle solving, and I should have recognized that early on instead of wasting 90 minutes of game time trying to force feed them the solution. We are playing this weekend and as my way of saying sorry, I'm gonna have some serious Hack-time ready for them!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Postwar A/T

I love the Headsculpts for Lanards Ultracorps!Line. the problem is the bodies suck. So I kept the heads and swapped em out to the latest SOTW figures, which have great bodies for $7.00.

I had this idea to do an -earlier than the 60's-version of the GI Joe Adventure Team. I'm thinking post WWII, These guys would have some nifty 50's sci-fi type weaponry, probably stuff the Government developed after they seized Nicolai Tesla's notes. so here is a starter pick of my "post war Adventure team" I figure they are all ex service men, probably OSS and commando types. Sporting hi-tech secret weaponry to fight commies and aliens- in that order.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Are you guys passing the torch?

after quite a hiatus from table top gaming I now have a regular group. My 13 year old son Anthony, my buddy Fred and his 11 year old daughter. It's a far cry from my mountain dew-fueled weekend long gaming marathons, but we still have a good time. I also let my two little ones play with the figures and the dice (The new D&D miniatures are excellent for kids, those damn things are near indestructible).
the other day I went to Ebay and picked up a copy of "fantasy forest" an early TSR board game for children based on the D&D cartoon. the boys also watch my wife and Anthony play Baldurs gate: Dark Alliance on the playstation. so the kids are getting a fair share of indoctrination in the mysteries of gaming. and just to insure we don't overdo the geek factor I'm also having them start Little Dragons Karate and Football league is on schedule next fall.

By the way, Ain't that a cool pic?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

HEY look ma, no nipples!

Man, this has got to be the best Batman costume yet!
Dig it Baby!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Get a life...please

So a few weeks ago with nothing better to post I put up a picture of the Justice League of Amazons and I make mention of the fact that an "idiot moderator" of an action figure group saw it as pornographic and put me on notice (I shortly thereafter left the group). fast forward to this morning and who do you think I get an email from? Yup, "mister moderator". He must have been visiting my web log to check out the "porn" instead of "moderating his own group. Anyway, he goes into me being bitter for being booted from his group and trashing people behind their backs...Yadda...Yadda...Blechh. Whatever. Like I said earlier his censoring policies didn't jive with my sensibilities so I LEFT HIS GROUP. Not only that, I quietly unsubscribed and went away (Unlike some people who feel they have to post a "Swansong diatribe" as to how they are being forced to leave. screw that nerdy bullshit.). as to being bitter- I posted the picture for the pictures sake, it had nothing t do with leaving his group, he was just an amusing anecdote. And as to posting it behind anyone's back...hello, this is a web log, A very public forum. He's probably just mad cause he just found out that he's an amusing anecdote.