January 27, 2010

Why I Like Castles & Crusades (as explained in comic form)

So I've been meaning to explain why I'm such a fan of TLG's Castles & Crusades.  I will do so at some point, but in the mean time, this comic by Shamus Young, about summons it up:

From: DM of the Rings XXXVIII: As Simple as Calculus


January 26, 2010

Books I Read to My Kids: Greek Myths for Young Children

Since I'm on a Greek Mythology roll, I wanted to share a great book for kids: Greek Myths for Young Children

I gave this book to Chaos for her fourth birthday. At the time, she wasn't taken too much with it, but really enjoys it now. Although it's very colorful and has plenty of illustrations, it doesn't have pictures on every page.  That sort of put a damper on her interest at first, but now, at five, she doesn't seem to mind. I also think some of the creatures used to frighten her (she wasn't too big on the picture of the Cyclops).

Actually, we've returned to this book because I ran out of myths to tell her.  When I put Chaos to bed at night, I often tell her a Hercules or Odysseus story.  "Hercules and the Hydra" is one of her favorites ("Cut! Burn! Cut! Burn!"). When my mental stash was depleted, I busted out this book again.

It's a great book and, although the tales are bit abridged, be warned, they aren't censored and no happy, Disney-like endings have been added.  When Bellerophon, after riding Pegasus to slay the Chimera, gets cocky and decides to ride the flying horse to Olympus, he still ends up plummeting to his death.  That certainly isn't the kind of ending my daughter expected.

I'm not sure what she makes of those kinds of things yet, but she always asks for "one more page," so I take that as a good sign.

January 25, 2010

Perseus and his Magic Loot

As sort of a follow-up to my post about the Clash of Titans remake, I think Perseus has to be one of the first heroes that fit the model of D&D character.  How so?  Because homeboy is loaded with the magical loot!  It seems in most classic myths and legends, and even a lot of modern fantasy tales, the hero is lucky to have one magical weapon.  The gods load Perseus up: 
  • a mirrored shield from Athena,
  • a helm of invisibility from Hades,
  • an adamantine sickle-sword from Hermes, 
  • and, also, the winged sandals of Hermes.
Sounds like a high-level PC to me....

Oh, and on a side note, I'm absurdly glad that the dumbass, clockwork owl, Bubo, from the original film won't be finding its way into the remake.

January 20, 2010

Donate to Doctors Without Borders and Score a Ton of Gaming PDFs

DriveThruRPG has a fantastic promotion to help out in Haiti: link

If you donate $20, which goes to Doctors Without Borders, you receive a shite load of RPG PDFs. 
There is a lot of stuff included that I can't see ever using, but it's all for the cause (I mean, it's a donation, right?).  There are some real gems, however:
At the moment, the response has been overwhelming (from their site):

Unfortunately the overwhelming generosity of the gaming community is hampering our ability to deliver the orders purchased with the bundle coupon to you. Your products will be safe in your order history, so if you could wait a day or two before downloading them, it would be much appreciated.

January 19, 2010

Release the Kraken!

This is kind of old news, but a Clash of the Titans remake is set to come out in March of this year.  Here is the full-length trailer (there is a teaser trailer out there as well).

I'm pretty damn stoked to see this movie.  Yeah, this remake, like the original, appears to be a hodge-podge of various myths, but I'm okay with that.  If anything, I say toss in more.  I want to see as many creatures as possible.  Hopefully, there won't be a lot of over-the-top action maneuvers, though (i.e., a ton of wire work).  I know the movie itself is going to be popcorn fare, but I hate the modern tendency to make every hero have Flying Tiger, Hidden Dragon-like moves. 

I don't care too much for the revamped Kraken.  It looks all right, but reminds me of tons of other movie monsters and aliens.  The original beast has a distinct look and they should have stuck with it. On a side-note, the "kraken" is actually a Norse myth.  There is a sea monster in the Perseus story, but it isn't named.  I'm guessing that "Release the Sea Monster!" just didn't have the same ring as "Release the Kraken!"

Ah well, I am very pleased that they kept medusa as the half-snake, half-woman beastie she was in the first flick.  I don't think that is too true to the myth, but, man, is she a damn fine monster. More than that, she is no doubt the inspiration for the 2nd edition D&D "Greater Medusa" (later finding is way into 3rd edition in Necromancer Game's Tome of Horrors).  Nothing like a creepy, serpent woman that is bad-ass with a bow.  Hell, even the regular medusa became a killer archer in 3rd edition.

I dug up the original medusa scene on YouTube and, damn, it holds up pretty well.  The bit with Perseus tossing the shield onto the statue is a bit hard to swallow, but the rest of the scene is solid.

January 18, 2010

One of My Favorite Gaming Artists

Brian "Glad" Thomas is one of my favorite gaming artists.  I first encountered him at the Troll Lord Games forum in his "Glad's drawings of the adventuring life....." thread, and have since found his Web site, Three-Headed Troll Art Wurks.    "Drawings of the adventuring life" is an accurate title for his work.  I certainly appreciate the old-school style of the art, but what I like most is that his illustrations depict scenes of what really happens to the characters of a D&D party.  There is plenty of great art out there based on gaming, but usually it is on a scale more epic or heroic than what happens in your typical D&D session.  A typical D&D session, is full of action, humor, and perhaps a tiny bit of horror.  Brian Thomas captures this perfectly.

Here are few of my favorites.


The Benefits of Having a White Board for a Table Top and an Artist for a Player

One of the cool things about having a white board as a table top is that, in addition to being a miniature map, my players can use it to jot down notes, spell lists, etc. If you have a talented artist in the group (such as Dave White of 741.5 Comics), you also find some pretty cool doodles. Dave has drawn all kinds of things, ranging from Spider-Man to Orko (don't ask). Last session, he drew the great El Goblino, a now, infamous goblin of Rappan Athuk and his character's new arch-nemesis.

January 16, 2010

The Naughty Trolls and El Goblino

Just wrapped another session of Rappan Athuk Reloaded. The players dropped one more of the three Naughty Trolls of the dungeon. So far, they've killed the Sneaky Troll and tonight they bagged the Scary Troll... only the Speedy Troll remains.

Oh, and they have a new arch-nemesis... El Goblino! Who is El Goblino? A goblin miner that was parleying with the trolls about having them ferry some gold down to the goblin city. He earned his name after evading a fireball blast unscathed.

It was a good time. On top of that, I scored some great miniatures as Christmas gifts from my players.

January 13, 2010

Republishing Mishaps

I apologize for all the various republishing I’ve been doing.  I just figured out the purpose of “labels” and redid all of them.  Unfortunately, every time I do this (or any kind of editing), it republishes the blog entry and folks using readers receive the damn post again.

Sorry for the annoyance.  I’ll master this thing sooner or later.

It’s a girl! Here is your pink d20.

So the days of the expectant father sitting in a smoke-filled lobby are long since gone.  Still, the tradition of handing out a cigar or some other token remains.  There are all kinds of crap for this now: candy cigars, personalized chocolate bars, etc.  Like anything else these days, a once informal gesture has been turned into a marketable “must.” 

Well, what does the proud gamer father give out?  Dice, of course.  Before my oldest daughter, Chaos, was born, I was pondering what to hand out and my wife suggested a die.  Brilliant.

Finding pink dice was a bit tricky and the d20s I handed out for Chaos’s birth were borderline purple.  For Mayhem’s birth, I found some nice pink ones at dicepool.com (and the price was reasonable, too).

My good friend and fellow gamer just welcomed his daughter into this world and, for the first time, I was on the receiving side.  It was a really cool feeling.  Now, I’m not delusional enough to believe that I was the first to do this, but I do think it’s a fun tradition.  My buddy handed out these pink d20s to gamers outside our immediate group and they loved it. 

Hopefully the idea will catch on and one of these days I’ll receive a blue d20 to go with the pink ones.

My Daughters: Chaos & Mayhem

Mayhem (2 years old) plots a PC's demise

I've written a good bit about dungeoneering, but nothing about being a dad. I am the proud father of two girls: my five-year-old, Chaos, and my two-year-old, Mayhem.* I love these little two to death. It's funny. I'd never imagined I'd still be playing D&D as a parent. When I was a kid, I always figured when I finally grew up, I'd hit some point when I would only do grown up things. Suddenly, D&D wouldn't appeal to me, no more video games, and I'd start listening to adult contemporary music. Yet, here I am, 33-years-old, married with kids, and I play D&D almost as regularly as I did in high school, I play video games whenever I can (granted, which isn't much), and I just received the Black Tide "Light from Above" CD for Christmas.

Chaos (nearly 1 year old in the photo) awaits a TPK

Suffice it to say, my girls are used to seeing all sorts of odd books in their dad's office. They love playing with my dice and I've bought them each their own big d20s. The plastic minis from Wizards of the Coast are a bit of a godsend, as I don't have to worry about them playing with lead or ruining a paint-job. I have to admit, I'm pretty protective of my books (and by "pretty protective," I mean "borderline OCD"), but they really haven't gotten into them anyhow.

My daughters were born into a gaming. When Chaos was born, my good friend, Steve, gave her her own copy of the 3rd edition D&D Player's Handbook and I wrote her name in the cover (come to think of it, I should probably give that book back to her... I commandeered it for my own purposes via Fatherly Right). On top of that, a few of my players hand-made a set of giant, soft dice for her. They made the whole set and picked colors to mimic those of an old-school dice set. They have bells inside that jingle when they roll. A lot of time and effort went into those dice and my girls have gotten a good bit of use out of them (they like the big d20 and d12 the most).

Chaos (3 years old in the photo) enjoys her big dice

My daughters look forward to D&D night as much as I do. That's when their "uncles" and "aunts" stop by, loaded with sweets. They feast on cookies, cake, chips, and whatever else my health-conscious friends bring. I love it and so do they. It's a bit taxing on my wife who has to handle bedtime duty solo those nights. Normally, I put young Mayhem to bed while Mrs. Frost handles the elder Chaos (and even then, I'm usually on "clean up" with Chaos, telling her a Hercules story and singing her a song or two after she's had time with Mom). On game night, my wife has to round them up and get them to sleep on her own. No small feat when you have two girls as rambunctious as mine who have main-lined sugar for a half-hour or so.

On a side note, my wife isn't a gamer, but is very understanding and supportive of my hobby. I'm blessed in that way. She gave D&D a try and had some fun, but decided it really wasn't for her. On game nights, she usually hangs out with the other D&D widows and catches up on chick flicks on the DVR.

I'm not sure how much my girls grasp what I actually do down in the basement, but they do know I'm playing some kind of game. They don't seem to care too much, just as long as they get to devour the goodies. Like I said, there is nothing quite like game night.

*Obviously, these aren't their real names, but I don't feel comfortable posting that info.
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