Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One-Page Dungeon Megadungeon

The 2012 One Page Dungeon Contest has been announced and I'm planning to enter again.  You should too!

Last night, I had an idea that I thought I would run past all of you, my intrepid readers.

What if we collaborated on our 1PDs to make a multi-1PD Megadungeon?

Inspired by the likes of Stonehell, I thought we could each create a quadrant of a level, based on a 3x3 or 4x4 set of geomorphs...

You wouldn't NEED to use geomorphs, but your quadrant should be "geomorph compatible" so that our sections could link together...  Each contributor would be randomly designated with a level number, let's say 1, 2 or 3 (maybe more if more people are interested) and a quadrant NE, NW, SE, SW...

Then, each of us would create a theme, maybe creating a suitably evocative name using Matt Finch's Tome of Adventure Design...

Finally, each of us would create and share two "links" from your section of the dungeon to another section.  One link would connect to the same level and another link would connect to a deeper/upper level.  Here's a raw sketch that helps me envision what I mean...

A simple example might be a locked door on your level that can only be opened by a key found one level down in another author's quadrant.  Make sense?

Anyway, is anyone interested in collaborating on this?  If so, please drop me an email at wilmanric at gmail.  Put "1PD-Megadungeon" in the subject if you would be so kind...  I'm happy to coordinate all the random interconnections and I'll mock up a nicer 3D map that shows how all of our levels interconnect.  :)

If I could get a "dirty dozen" of us together, we could make the first three levels with ease!  

I hope to hear from a few of you!  I think it would be a very cool project!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tau Hammerhead with LEDs

My grandson Matt turned 11 yesterday and as a gift, I built and painted up a Tau Hammerhead for him.  I wanted it to be special, so I installed some LEDs in it that will blink during the game.

What follows is the construction of the Hammerhead.  I've taken some pics and I've also included some movies.

I began by going to the dollar store, where I bought this emergency flasher.  It has 5 red LEDs on a tiny circuit board inside.  I de-soldered four of the LEDs and I left one attached to the board (so that I could test the circuit as I went along...)  It's important to mention that I tested the safety light BEFORE I even started.  I didn't want to do a bunch of customizations and then find out that the light itself was junk.

I took the red face off and converted the bottom of the light into a battery compartment.  I superglued the contacts in -- they were loose -- and I soldered leads onto the contacts.  I threaded the leads through the hole left by removal of the belt clip.

Here you see the tiny circuit board.  I soldered 24 gage solid copper wire in to where the old red LEDs used to sit.  I will be soldering these leads onto new yellow/green LEDs that I will mount inside the Hammerhead.  On the right you see two leads I've soldered to the board for power.  I will connect these leads to the wires from the battery pack.  On the left, under my thumb, you can see two other leads.  These are soldered to either side of a little "contact pad".  This pad will eventually connect to a momentary switch.  That switch cycles through the seven different "blinking" settings.  

Here you see a little black plastic enclosure I purchased at Radio Shack.  This will serve as the base for the Hammerhead.  I've inserted a tiny momentary switch on the box.  This switch will control the blink settings.  The battery pack will go inside the enclosure.

I've drilled a hole in the center-top of the enclosure.  I will be attaching a standoff there to support the Hammerhead as it "hovers/flies..."

I wanted a plastic cylinder to serve as a standoff.  I took an old pen (like the one shown) and I unscrewed the bottom.  I cut the top and bottom to size.  I can now screw the bottom part, through the hole in the enclosure and into the larger standoff.  

This drywall mount will slide down into the standoff to support the Hammerhead as it "hovers".  The wires will run up through the standoff and through that tiny hole ahead of the drywall mount.  I toyed with running the wires through the standoff and into the Hammerhead, but I felt that might weaken the connection between the model and the standoff.  I don't want the Hammerhead accidentally breaking off the standoff and crashing into the table.  

I drilled out the holes where I want the LEDs to go, then I pre-painted the top section with black paint.  All in all, putting the thing together once it was wired AND protecting the LEDs from spraypaint was a big hassle -- probably one of the most difficult part of the project.

I wanted Matt to be able to swap the Railgun for the Ion Cannon on the Hammerhead.  I drilled out some small holes and superglued in some rare earth magnets.  I took the time to stack all the magnets togther IN ADVANCE so that I could draw a black dot on the same side of all the magnets.  Nothing worse than installing the magnets with the wrong polarity so that they repel rather than attract.

I finished spraypainting the model.  I did a green drybrush.  I painted a few elements with yellow and I added "MATT 2012" in Tau to the back of the model.

My paint jobs aren't award winners, but they are certainly adequate.  I'm never embarrassed when my models hit the table.

Here's the finished product --

Ion Cannon

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Scadgrad Drop Table

With the invention of my Vornheim drop box, I think I've found my most useful DM accessory yet.

I've just added the awesome drop table over at The Savage Sword of Scadgrad to the bag of tricks inside the box!  Thank you Scadgrad!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vornheim Box

Those of you who don't at least have a PDF of Zac's amazing Vornheim, run, don't walk, over to RPGNow and get one.

Those of you who do have a copy, I wanted to show you the "drop table" box that I made -- because I don't have a dead tree copy.

I went to Hobby Lobby and I bought this box for $3.99.  I painted it black and I Mod Podged a picture of the Flailceratops to the top.

Then I printed out the drop tables at 95% and cut them to fit inside the box.  I Mod Podged the rules to the inside of the lid.  The d4 fits inside the box with the lid slid shut.

I'll let you all know how it works out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

[Gaming Memory] Lord Neville Trollbane

[I will use no names to protect the innocent and not so innocent]

Years ago (I was in high school), I was playing AD&D at a friend's house.  We'll call him A.  He had an Arizona room (a kind of screened porch with an evaporative cooler) and that was where we played.  Think of it as an Arizona basement.  :)

For tonight's session, I was playing my monk, Robyn Hoodwink and another friend, B, was playing his cavalier-paladin, Lord Neville Trollbane.

Robyn was probably about 4th level and he was pretty pathetic.  I loved him anyway.  Every single thing Robyn had, I had to claw and scrape to get.  He had a +1 gem that absorbed into his quarterstaff -- that was his primary magic item.  He also had a cool steel ball that would expand to Indy Jones trap size when rolled at enemies.  He also had "the copper tube" or "copper wand".  More on that in another post.

Bottom line -- I had nothing and I was (relatively) happy about it.  I enjoyed playing Robyn.

Neville was literally dripping with treasure.  I believe he had magic armor, a magic sword, magic other doodads.  I think he might have actually had a Hammer of Thunderbolts.  He had a lot of HPs and he could soak damage in combat.  He was near unstoppable.  Despite all that, I think it's fair to say that Neville wanted MORE!


On that night, we were in the bowels of Bellicose Keep.  Bellicose was a funhouse megadungeon before those things had names.  Cool place to adventure.

Somewhere in its depths, was a maze.  I don't recall what it was called, but deep in the maze you could find your heart's desire -- but you could only go in ONCE.


Robyn had died earlier in the campaign and a kindly paladin (whose name escapes me) raised me from the dead.  Did you know you get XP for that??  Anyway, in exchange for the second chance, Sir Whatzizname asked me to go into the maze to find an artifact of his choosing.  He couldn't go in again. He had quested within the maze at a time in the past to save Kranston, the local town.

I agreed to his terms.  Neville agreed to go along.


We delved into Bellicose and we found the maze.  We traversed the maze and we found the chamber of  your "heart's desire".  Scrawled above the door was a stern warning about not entering the maze twice. Something about "half your life" or "half dead" or similar.

In we went.


Once inside, the DM, Mr. A, told us about all the fabulous treasures that could be seen.  Literally ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING was in there.  All I cared about was the artifact for the paladin, which I quickly found.

Neville was drooling.  :)

Was there a holy sword?  Yes.  Magical armor?  Yes.  Girdle of Giant Strength?  Yes....  You get the idea.

Neville made a selection and we both departed.  Once outside with the item, B rationalized the situation and went back in.


He made another selection and he exited the chamber.  Upon stepping outside, a great energy sapped him of half his HPs.  PERMANENTLY.



This is when Player B should have thought about math more like fractions and less like Zeno.  B was under the impression that since he lost HALF his HPs the first time, he'd lose half of what was left the next time, and so on, and so on...


Half + Half = Dead.  In this case, Dead = being turned to some kind of goo...


The night ended when Player B leapt across the card table at DM A.  Dice, character sheets, minis (for marching order) when flying.  I had to separate them.

We laugh about it now, but it wasn't funny then.

PS: the paladin did eventually get his artifact and Robyn's debt was paid in full.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Warhammer 40k on a Sunday

For those of you who read my blog, you may have noticed that my posts have trailed off a bit.  The problem is (and its a good problem to have) that I'm gaming too much.

I run my LL/1st Ed Castle of the Mad Archmage game for 7 players (!) every two weeks on Wednesday nights.  Lately, I've even gotten back into 40k.

Here's a shot of the table from yesterday.

My grandson Matt and his dad heard about a 40k game I played in a few weeks ago.  Matt got all excited to see my Space Marine army (his dad has one too) and he wanted to play.

I took a bit of time on Saturday to mock up the game table.  Lowe's will cut a sheet of plywood (in this case OSB) into strips if you ask.  I bought a quart of mis-mixed latex paint and then I spray painted camouflage over the top in 4 colors.

I made a few terrain pieces from some plastic tubs, a couple ice cube trays, some foam packing and a couple cardboard boxes.  We even used some papercraft terrain I had lying around.

The game was 1000 points on a side, and I'm proud to say that I won... barely.  One more turn and I was hosed.  :)

Anyway, it's really hard to post when you're having so much fun playing!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"John Carter" Review

TLDR - I liked it.

Last night, I had the opportunity to go and see "John Carter" in 3D for free.  I saw an ad in the paper for an early showing, and I signed up.  I got two tix, so I convinced my wife to go with me.

What follows should be a spoiler-free review, but I'm not always sure what qualifies as a spoiler, so if you're nervous -- read no farther.  Go see the movie for yourself.  :)

OK, on to the review!

I thought the movie was pretty good.  It had some exciting moments, some funny moments, some dramatic moments, some sappy moments...  It isn't a ground-breaking movie, but it seemed to all come together well and it was enjoyable to watch.

I'm not exceptionally well versed in the John Carter of Mars mythos, but, from what I know, it seemed to be a fitting adaptation or homage to the series.  I'm sure that true JCoM aficionados will be able to find fault or places where they could have done better, but I think they did a fairly admirable job, in my semi-informed opinion.

I personally don't think that 3D added much to the film, but I'm not a big 3D fan, so that might be bias.  (PS: I think it's a fad)

The CGI was good.  I found the animated characters to be believable and they were able to convey emotion to the viewer.

I especially liked the animation of the white apes.  Here's a pic.  Gotta stat those up for LL or something.  Wow!

Anyway, if you're on the fence about the movie, wait for Netflix or Blue Ray.  If you went to see the Conan movie, I liked this one better.  Skip the 3D and get some popcorn instead.  :)