Friday, December 30, 2011

Appendix N Update: December 2011

Abbey, Lynn:

Adams, Richard: Watership Down

Alexander, Lloyd: The Book of Three 1; The Black Cauldron 2; The Castle of Llyr 3; Taran Wanderer 4; The High King 5

Anderson, Poul: Ensign Flandry; Flandry Of Terra; Agent of the Terran Empire; The Long Night; Three Hearts and Three Lions; The Broken Sword; The High Crusade; A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows

Anthony, Piers: A Spell for Chameleon; On A Pale Horse

Ariosto, Ludovico: Orlando Furioso

Asprin, Robert A.: Thieves World I; Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn II; Shadows of Sanctuary III; Storm Season IV; The Face of Chaos V; Another Fine Myth

Barker, M.A.R.: The Man Of Gold; Flamesong

Baum, L. Frank: The Wizard Of Oz, Emerald City Of Oz, Land of Oz

Beagle, Peter S.: The Last Unicorn

Bellairs, John: The Face In The Frost

Bellamy, Francis R : Atta

Bloodstone, John: Thundar Man Of Two Worlds

Bok, Hannes: The Sorcerers Ship

Brackett, Leigh: Eric John Stark, Outlaw Of Mars; The Best Of Leigh Brackett; The Sword Of Rhiannon; The Ginger Star 1; The Hounds Of Skaith 2; Reavers of Skaith

Bradley, Marion Z: Sword and Sorceress Anthology

Brooks, Terry: The Sword of Shannara

Brown, Fredric:

Burroughs, Edgar R.: Pellucidar; Tanar of Pellucidar; A Princess Of Mars 1; The Gods Of Mars 2; Warlord Of Mars 3; Thuvia, Maid Of Mars 4; Chessmen of Mars 5; The Mastermind of Mars 6; A Fighting Man of Mars 7; The Moon Maid; Out of Time’s Abyss; Jungle Girl, Land of Hidden Men; Tarzan Of The Apes 1; The Return Of Tarzan 2; The Beasts of Tarzan 3; The Son Of Tarzan 4; Tarzan and the Lost Empire 10; At The Earth's Core

Campbell, J Ramsey: Demons by Daylight

Carter, Lin: Thongor and the Dragon City; Thongor and the Wizards of Lemuria; Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus; Zanathon; Tower at the Edge of Time; The Black Star; Beyond The Gates Of Dream; Down To A Sunless Sea; Journey to the Underground World; Warrior of World’s End; Flashing Swords 1; Flashing Swords 2; Flashing Swords 3; Flashing Swords 4; Flashing Swords 5; New Worlds For Old; The Young Magicians

Cervantes, Miguel: Don Quixote

Chalker, Jack L.: Midnight at the Well of Souls 1; Exiles at the Well of Souls 2; Quest For the Well Of Souls 3; The Return of Nathan Brazil 4, Twilight at the Well of Souls 5

Chandler, A. Bertram: The Road To The Rim

Chant, Joy: Red Moon And Black Mountain

Cherryh, C.J.:

Cook, Glen: The Black Company

Daley, Brian: Han Solo At Star’s End; Han Solo’s Revenge; Han Solo And The Lost Legacy

Davidson, Avram: The Phoenix In The Mirror, The Island Under the Earth

deCamp, L. Sprague: The Complete Compleat Enchanter; The Compleat Enchanter; Lovecraft, A Biography; Warlocks and Warriors; The Fallible Fiend; Conan The Barbarian; Conan And The Spider God; Lest Darkness Fall; The Carnelian Cube; The Emperors Fan; The Reluctant King; The Goblin Tower; The Clocks Of Iraz

Derleth, August: The Trail of Cthuhlu

Dickson, Gordon R.:

Donaldson, Stephen: Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Lost World

Dumas, Alexandre: The Three Musketeers

Dunsany, Lord: The King Of Elfland’s Daughter; Over the Hills and Far Away; The Charwoman's Shadow

Eco, Umberto: The Name Of The Rose

Eddings, David: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen Of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, Enchanter’s Endgame

Eddison, E. R.: The Worm Ouroboros; Mistress of Mistresses; A Fish Dinner In Memison

Ende, Michael: The Neverending Story

Farmer, Philip Jose: The Maker Of Universes 1; The Gates Of Creation 2; A Private Cosmos 3; Hadon Of Ancient Opar

Fiest, Raymond: Magician

Finney, Charles: The Unholy City; The Circus of Dr. Lao

Foster, Alan Dean: Nor Crystal Tears, Splinter of the Minds Eye; The End of the Matter; The Tar-Aiym Krang; Bloodhype; Orphan Star; For Love Of Mother-Not; The Time Of The Transference

Fox, Gardner: Kothar Barbarian Swordsman; Kothar and the Conjurer's Curse; Kothar and the Wizard Slayer; Kothar and the Magic Sword; Kothar And The Demon Queen; Kyrik Warlock Warrior; Kyrik Fights The Demon World; Kyrik and the Lost Queen; Kyrik and the Wizards Sword; Warrior Of Llarn

Funke, Cornelia: Inkheart

Gardner, Craig Shaw: A Malady Of Magicks

Garner, Alan: Elidor; The Moon Of Gomrath; The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Gemmell, David: Legend

Goldman, William: The Princess Bride

Glut, Donald F: The Empire Strikes Back

Gygax, Gary: The Samarkand Solution; The Anubis Murders; Infernal Sorceress, Death In Delhi

Haggard, H. Rider: The People Of The Mist; The World's Desire; When The World Shook; She And Allan; King Solomon Mines; She

Hambly, Barbara: The Time of the Dark, The Walls Of Air, The Armies of Daylight, The Ladies of Mandrigyn, Dragonsbane

Harrison, Harry: The Adventures Of The Stainless Street Rat; The Stainless Steel Rat

Heinlein, Robert: Glory Road

Hickman, Tracy:

Hodgson, W.H.: The House On The Borderland

Holmes, John Eric: Mahars of Pellucidar

Howard, Robert E.: Sword Woman; Almuric; The People Of The Black Circle; Red Nails; Shadow Kingdoms; People Of The Dark; Beyond The Black River; The Hour Of The Dragon; Black Hounds Of Death; Conan 1; Conan Of Cimmeria 2; Conan the Freebooter 3; Conan the Wanderer 4; Conan the Adventurer 5; Conan the Buccaneer 6; Conan The Warrior 7; Conan The Usurper 8; Conan The Conqueror 9; Conan The Avenger 10; Conan Of Aquilonia 11; Conan of The Isles 12; Solomon Kane, The Hills Of The Dead; Skull-Face; Black Canaan; Swords Of Shahrazar; Marchers Of Valhalla

Hyne, C J Cutliffe: The Lost Continent

Jakes, John: Brak The Barbarian; Mark of Demons; The Sorceress

Jackson, Steve: Fighting Fantasy

Kline, Otis Adelbert: Swordsman Of Mars, Outlaw Of Mars, Planet of Peril

Kuttner, Henry: The Mask Of Circe; Elak Of Atlantis, The Dark World, Robots Have No Tails

Kurtz, Katherine: Deryni Rising; Deryni Checkmate; High Deryni

Lanier, Sterling: Hiero’s Journey; The Unforsaken Hiero

L’Engle, Madeleine: A Wrinkle In Time

Le Guin, Ursula: A Wizard Of Earthsea; The Left Hand Of Darkness; Tehanu; The Farthest Shore

Lee, Tanith: The Book Of The Damned I; The Book Of The Beast II; The Storm Lord, The Birthgrave, The Dragon Hoard, Night’s Master, Death’s Master

Leiber, Fritz: Swords and Deviltry 1; Swords Against Death 2; Swords In The Mist 3; Swords And Wizardry 4; The Swords of Lankhmar 5; Swords and Ice Magic 6

Lindsay, David: A Voyage To Arcturus

Lovecraft, H.P.: The Doom That Came To Sarnath; The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath; The Shadow Over Innsmouth; At The Mountains Of Madness; The Lurker At The Threshold; The Tomb; The Watchers Out Of Time; Waking Up Screaming; The Dunwich Horror

Martin, George R.R.: Dying Of The Light; A Song Of Ice And Fire

Matheson, Richard: I Am Legend

McCaffery, Anne: The Ship Who Sang; Dinosaur Planet

Merritt, A.: The Ship Of Ishtar; The Seven Footprints Of Satan; The Moon Pool; The Face In The Abyss; Dwellers In the Mirage; Creep Shadow Creep

Miller, Walter: A Canticle For Leibowitz

Moorcock, Michael: Legends From The End Of Time; The Jewel In The Skull; The Mad God’s Amulet; The Sleeping Sorceress; The Runestaff; The Lord of the Spiders; The Masters of the Pit; The City of the Beast; The Warlord of the Air; Stealer Of Souls; Stormbringer; Elric of Melnibone; The Sword Of The Dawn

Moore, C.L.: Northwest Smith; Jirel Of Joiry

Morris, William: The Well At Worlds End I; The Well At Worlds End II; The Wood Beyond the World; The Water of the Wondrous Isles

Mundy, Talbot: Tros Of Samothrace; Avenging Liafail 2; The Praetor's Dungeon 3; The Purple Pirate 6

Niven, Larry: The Man-Kzin Wars; A World Out Of Time; A Gift From Earth; Tales of Known Space; Neutron Star; The Magic May Return; The Magic Goes Away; The Flight of the Horse

Norman, John: Tarnsman Of Gor 1; Outlaw Of Gor 2; Priest-Kings Of Gor 3; Nomads Of Gor 4; Assassin Of Gor 5; Raiders Of Gor 6; Captive Of Gor 7; Hunters Of Gor 8; Marauders Of Gor 9, Tribesmen Of Gor 10, Slave Girl of Gor 11; Time Slave

Norton, Andre: Quag Keep; Exiles of the Stars; Warlock of Witch World; High Sorcery; Witch World; Sargasso Of Space; Lord Of Thunder

Nowlan, Philip F.: Armageddon 2419 A.D.

Offutt, Andrew J.: Demon In The Mirror; Eyes Of Sarsis; Web Of The Spider; Conan, The Sword of Skelos; Conan The Mercenary; Swords Against Darkness I; Swords Against Darkness II; Swords Against Darkness III; Swords Against Darkness IV; Swords Against Darkness V; The Iron Lords; Cormac Mac Art

Piper, H. Beam: Space Viking

Pratchett, Terry: The Colour Of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Mort

Pratt, Fletcher: Land Of Unreason; The Blue Star; The Well of the Unicorn; The Carnelian Cube

Saberhagen, Fred: The First Book Of Swords; Second Book Of Swords; Third Book Of Swords; Empire Of The East

Schmitz, James: The Witches of Karres

Shea, Michael: Color Out Of Time; A Quest For Simbilis

Sims, John:

Sirota, Mike: Master Of Boranga

Smith, Clark Ashton: Lost Worlds Volume 1; Lost Worlds Volume 2; Out Of Space And Time 1; Out Of Space And Time 2; The Abominations of Yondo; Genius Loci; Poseidonis; Zothique; Hyperborea; Xiccarph; Tales Of Science And Sorcery; Other Dimensions 1; Other Dimensions 2

Smith, L. Neil: Lando Calrissian and the Midharp of Sharu; Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of Thonboka; Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Osean

Smith, E.E. ‘Doc’: Triplanetary

Springer, Nancy: The White Hart

St. Clair, Margaret: The Shadow People; Sign of the Labrys

Stasheff, Christopher: The Warlock Wandering; A Warlock's Blade; Warlock And Son; The Warlock Is Missing; Her Majesty's Wizard; King Kobold

Stewart, Mary: The Crystal Cave; The Hollow Hills; The Last Enchantment

Swann, Thomas: Green Phoenix; Day Of The Minotaur; Cry Silver Bells; Moondust

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings

Tubb, E.C.:

Van Arnam, Dave: Star Barbarian

Van Vogt, A.E.: The Voyage Of The Space Beagle; Quest For The Future

Vance, Jack: The Languages Of The Pao; The Dragon Masters; The Best of Jack Vance; The Dying Earth; The Eyes of the Overworld; Cugel’s Saga; Rhialto The Marvelous; Trullion, Alastor 2262; Wyst, Alastor 1716; Marune, Alastor 933; The Faceless Man 1; The Brave Free Men 2; The Astura 3; Lyonesse 1; The Green Pearl 2; Madouc 3; The Face 4; The Blue World; Galactic Effectuator; Big Planet; City Of The Chasch 1; Servants of the Wanhk 2; The Dirdir 3; The Pnume 4; Suldrun's Garden

Verne, Jules: The Mysterious Island

Wagner, Karl E: Bloodstone, Death Angel’s Shadow, Dark Crusade

Weinbaum, Stanley; The Black Flame; A Martian Odyssey

Wellman, Manly Wade: The Old Gods Waken; The Hanging Stones; The Lost And The Lurking; After Dark; Silver John; Who Fears The Devil?

White, Theodore: The Once and Future King

Williams, Robert M.: Return of Jongor

Williamson, Jack: The Trial Of Terra; The Legion Of Space

Zelazny, Roger: Nine Princes In Amber; The Guns of Avalon; Sign of the Unicorn; The Hand of Oberon; The Courts of Chaos; Jack Of Shadows; Dilvish, The Damned; The Changing Land; Isle of the Dead; Trumps of Doom; Blood Of Amber; Sign Of Chaos; Knight Of Shadows; Prince of Chaos

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alien: Intruder And Xenophobe

Between the release of Chevski's Thousand Suns and Ridley Scott's Prometheus trailer, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the science fiction old school renaissance.

Ridley Scott is directing Prometheus, and directed the original Alien movie. H.R. Giger gave us the look of the Alien antagonist, the Xenomorph. The above Giger image inspired Alien's Xenomorph.

That antagonist later makes its appearance in all sorts of unauthorized spin-offs.

The first of those two is the Xenomorph's appearance in a Task Force microgame from 1980, entitled Intruder.

Intruder was designed by Dennis Sustare, known for having designed the much beloved Bunnies and Burrows RPG and Dwarfstar's engaging, if somewhat arcane, Star Smuggler microgame.

Intruder is set in the near future, on the Deep Space Station Prometheus, orbiting the star Sigma Draconis.

An exploratory team brings back an alien life form, and is directed to keep the creature alive for study. When the creature escapes from the lab, this directive proves to be a deadly mistake.

If the premise sounds familiar, it may be because it is. That is the same premise that informs the first two Aliens movies.

The second unauthorized spin-off is a Bally Midway Arcade game from 1987, entitled Xenophobe. Xenophobe is obviously inspired by the Alien movie franchise, as the goal of the game is to rid various ships, bases and planets of alien infestations.

The game allows you to play one of nine different characters. Among them: Dr. Kwack, sporting a duck head; Mr. Brace, with a Quasimoto face; Col. Truth, the spock-eared; Mr. Fogg, crazy scientist hair and a Geordie visor; Dr. Udderbay and Col. Poupon, two female chaaracters; Mr. Eeez, with a green bug head; Mr. Zordiz, the James T. Kirk of the game; and Col. Shickn, with white hair and an eye-patch. The characters wear yellow, blue and red tunics, Some also wear black slacks, given the characters a look reminiscent of early Star Trek attire.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Split Enz: I Hope I Never

A while ago an old buddy of mine remarked how much I looked like Tim Finn from Split Enz. That reminded me of one of my favorite Split Enz songs, I Hope I Never. My other favorite is Iris.

Split Enz would later transform into Crowded House. Anyway, enjoy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Pathfinder Minis

I'm not a Pathfinder player, but i'm quite enthusiastic about Paizo's new line of pre-painted miniatures. Over at their website, they continue to reveal more of those miniatures, these from the Heroes and Monsters collection, which is set to be released in early 2012.

Erik Mona's most recent blog entry provides a visual update of several figures, including the Lich, pictured below.

If you scroll down to the December 8th entry, Paizo reveals their Gargoyle and Goblin figures. Here are the four Goblins from the first set.

I've mentioned before that I dislike the Pathfinder humanoids, like the Goblins above. For those of you that do like them, I'll have a plethora to trade once I take possession of my case of figures.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Terrain For Skirmish Games

I enjoy an occasional LOTRSBG skirmish. I was introduced to the tabletop battles hobby late in my roleplaying game career, sometime in 2003 if memory serves. It was Games Workshop's Lord Of The Rings miniatures, and the related strategy battle game, that led me there.

Once you are introduced to tabletop skirmish games, there's a natural progression towards the other facets of the hobby, including terrain-building. This is a work-in-progress; a rocky outcropping that can be used as cover and visual interest. I think it needs some grass and foliage to finish it off.

Here are a couple of additional photos of the same rocky outcropping. I added some miniatures to provide scale.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Microgames: Still Back-Filling My Collection

I have a pretty extensive Microgame collection, but that doesn't mean i've stopped my search to fill in the gaps. I recently chanced upon several Dwarfstar microgames at reasonable prices and added them to my collection. Still, there are a handful of games, included Helltank, that continue to elude me.

Canadiana: The Safety Dance

The Safety Dance is perhaps the most hated of all Canadian songs.

Performed by the French Canadian band, Men Without Hats, this song has been spoofed multiple times, by such shows as Futurama, Simpsons and The Family Guy.

This song is an endless well for lampoonery. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DnD End Game: Empire Building

One of the forgotten pleasures of Dungeons and Dragons is reaching name level and being permitted to establish your own stronghold. This early feature of DnD is obviously inspired by the wargaming traditions of the first roleplayers.

The problem is, there are woefully inadequate rules in Original DnD to govern stronghold and empire building, and stonghold-building precipitates player-versus-player conflict, particularly when the name-level players want to expand into the same territories. Not to mention that the level of abstraction necessary to handle a game of empire building is different from the level of abstraction necessary for a game of dungeon-delving resource and hit point management.

Though not perfect by any means, I get my fantasy empire building and PvP conflict fix from our occasional games of Settlers of Catan. Settlers is at just about the right level of abstraction to avoid getting bogged down in the minutae, and allows for a certain amount of PvP conflict without resulting in the total elimination of the other players.

Settlers would be a suitable base upon which to build a really interesting high-level fantasy empire building game. I've heard good things about Small World as well, but have yet to give it a try.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Revolt On Antares/Erol Otus: One Fine Young Artist

From the Forward (sic) to The Arduin Grimoire; Volume 1, by Dave Hargrave:

"Special Note. The artwork for this supplement is the sole doing of one fine young artist: Errol (sic) Otus. I'm only glad I'll be able to say ten years from now, 'I knew him when...'"

Erol Otus did not merely produce fantasy artwork during the late 70's and early 80's. He also rendered the science fiction artwork below, which graced the centre pages of the 1981 TSR Revolt On Antares minigame booklet.

Click to embiggen.

With the seeming-success of Metagaming's microgame line, other game companies jumped into the soon-to-be-crashing minigame market. That included TSR, SPI, Task Force Games, Chaosium, Mayfair Games, Heritage USA, Operational Studies Group, Steve Jackson Games, and FASA.
TSR's Revolt On Antares concerns a power struggle on Imhirros, ninth planet in the Antares system, on the fringes of Imperial Space.

Several noble houses, the Imperial government, and alien invaders vie for control of Imhirros using raw military power, alien artifacts, galactic superheroes, and hereditary psychic abilities to achieve their ends. Interplayer diplomatic efforts are encouraged in the rulebook, but there are no game systems to regulate diplomacy.

The game was designed for TSR by Tom Moldvay, who also designed Avalon Hill's Lords Of Creation. Two pieces of Erol Otus art appear within Revolt On Antares.

The game showed great promise, particularly when viewed through the lens of the above Erol Otus art.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Pathfinder Miniatures

Here are more images of the Pathfinder Heroes & Monsters miniatures being released in January 2012. You can find the images of the miniatures here, and on the Paizo blog. I like nearly all of the miniatures in this first set, with the exception of the humanoid monsters. Not because the sculpts and paint jobs are poor, but simply because I don't like the monster designs themselves. To see what i'm talking about, scroll down to the last three images, of the Ettin, Troll, and Goblins.

Winter Wonderland

We received quite a dump of snow last night, easily six inches or more. A significantly heavier snowfall than back on November 18.

A drive to the grocery store that usually takes 5 minutes took 20. I just finished shovelling for the third time, so I thought I'd take the above photo of the culdesac.
Here's the snow piled up on the handrail of the back deck.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Miniatures Done Right

One of my central compliants with the prepainted Wizards Of The Coast Dungeons and Dragons miniatures line was the lack of quality. It was a combination of average to poor paint jobs and uneven poses. As a result, my DDM purchases were almost exclusively in the after-market.
Paizo's upcoming line of Pathfinder pre-painted miniatures has me quite excited. Not only is Paizo staying true to their artistic source materials, but the miniatures paint jobs are much improved compared to the old DDM miniatures. You only have to look at the sample miniatures in this post to see the improvements.
I'm not a Pathfinder RPG player. But i've already pre-ordered the full Paizo Heroes and Monsters set and am looking forward to receiving it in January 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Endless Night: A Megadungeon Hook

Imagine a fantasy world in which two events happen simultaneously. One, a total solar eclipse that never ceases. Two, an earthquake and rend in the earth near the city centre, providing access and passage to the endless stair. What is the cause? What do both events portend? Will you brave the endless stair to discover the answers to these questions?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Conan The Barbarian In Space

Or am I telling you something you already know?

My favorite lines from the trailer ...

Girl: Are you going to stop the monsters now?

Riddick: I am the monster.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Paizo: Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box

It's unlikely you'd ever catch me playing Paizo's Pathfinder RPG. Roleplaying being what it is, I can't say never: social will always trump system. But as the natural heir to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, Pathfinder holds little allure for me.

It's the granularity. Like its cousin DnD 4.X, character generation and development is far too detailed, and i'm predisposed to viewing Pathfinder RPG as too much determined by character skills, scores and abilities; too little by player skill and role-playing.

So, given my obvious pre-disposition and therefore lack of interest in this game system, why bother purchasing and reviewing the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box? Two reasons. First, the shallow one: with certain exceptions, I really like the art of Pathfinder. I am a big fan of Wayne Reynolds, and the stable of other Pathfinder artists seem to maintain the same high standards. Second, I wanted to see if this Beginner Box set would moderate my pre-disposition against the Parthfinder RPG.

The Pathfinder Beginner Box retails for $35, compared to $20 for the DnD 4E Red Box starter set that was published by WOTC roughly a year ago. The Pathfinder box is 9" x 12" x 2.5" deep, and includes a one-page welcome page, a single-page advertisement for Pathfinder RPG and Pathfinder Society, a 64-page Hero's Handbook, four pre-generated characters (corresponding to the four characters pictured on the side of the Beginner Box), four blank character sheets, a 96-page Game Master's Guide, a 24" x 30" fold-out battle mat, a complete set of polyhedral dice, and 90 cardboard monster and character stand-up pawns.

Considering the breadth of contents, the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box compares very favorably to the DnD 4E Red Box Starter Set. Add to the above the following: the Pathfinder set allows you to go from levels 1-5, while the 4E set only allows you to go to level 2; Pathfinder includes another 64 pages of gaming material; Pathfinder includes stand-up, rather than flat, pawns; and the Pathfinder box is sturdier and more visually interesting.

With 64 pages of game material in The Hero's Handbook, Pathfinder goes into far more detail than Red Box regarding character creation. Paizo provides a solo pick-your-path adventure and an example of play in the Hero's Handbook.

The game mechanics suffer from the same malady as 4E: too many rules and too much dice-rolling. On the other hand, the art is amazing, and there's so much of it that it almost becomes a distraction from learning the rules. Paizo has gone all out here, though I couldn't say whether some or all of this art is recycled from other Pathfinder products.

Four pre-generated character sheets are included in the Beginner Box: Ezren, Valeros, Kyra and Merisel. The Beginner Box includes four cardboard standup pawns for those characters, but you can instead buy a set of pre-painted miniatures, which, at $12 for the complete four figure set, has higher production values and is more modestly priced than any pre-painted plastic figures heretofore produced by WOTC.

The 96-page Game Master's Guide delves into areas completely ignored by the equivalent Dungeon Master's Book found in the 4E Red Box. Most startling is significant page count devoted to gamemastering, building your own adventures, environments, magic items and random encounters. Pathfinder is noted for its prolific publishing of pre-scripted adventure path products, so devoting page count in the Game Master's Guide to building your own adventures is laudable. Like the Hero's Handbook, the Game Master's Guide is heavily illustrated: I will hazard to say that every page has some manner of illustration.

The Pathfinder battle mat is superior to the 4E Red Box effort. It feels heavier and is plasticized to stand up to more wear. And the cardboard pawns in the Pathfinder Beginner Box can be slipped into round plastic bases so they stand up. The Red Box equivalent are poker chips with pictures on them.

If you are playing DnD 3.5 or 4.X and looking for something just a little bit different, the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box may be just your ticket. This is good value for $35. Indeed, the gorgeously illustrated cardboard pawns are almost worth the price of admission alone.

For those that prefer old-school gaming, there is little here to convert you to the dark side. But if you're like me and have more money than sense, or want to support the underdog, you might consider buying the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box. While i'm unlikely to play Pathfinder, I don't regret this purchase.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Death Frost Doom Map That Never Was

Still getting my head around a different kind of megadungeon design for the endless stair; something that appeals to my naturalistic adventure design aesthetic.

This is a map of St. Paul's catacombs in Rabat, Malta. That catacomb map would have made for an inspirational reference for Death Frost Doom, a James Raggi adventure full of menace and horror but lacking in evocative cartography.

I continue to be attracted to maps and images like this one of St. Paul's catacombs. As an adventure designer, there is an honesty in using real world subterranea for the basis of one's own maps, if only for the designer's own moral fortification.

The user of the adventure may not appreciate that the environment does, and therefore can, exist. But from the creator's point of view, there is a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that the environment makes sense.

What's most challenging for me is attempting to visualize these catacombs. There are a handful of images on the internet, but I think it would take actual exploration of an environment like St. Paul's catacombs to truly appreciate the depicted map. The next challenge would be to communicate what you have seen to the end-user of the adventure in a way that is not burdensome.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Winter Is On Its Way

This is the view of my culdesac this morning. Its garbage and recycling day today, so all of the bins are on the street.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall In Calgary

The last time I did a weather post was June 5, so it's high time for another one. Here's a photo of one of the two trees in my front yard. This is why I love the Fall, all of the golds, reds, oranges and purples as the leaves change color. The snow will be flying soon, so let's enjoy Fall while it lasts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

All she knows, is she takes his hand
And prays the child will understand

At the door
They watch the men go by, in the clothes that daddy wore

Mother's pride; baby boy
His father's eyes; he's a soldier waiting for a war

Time will come

He'll hold a gun; his father's son

And as he grows, he hears the band
Takes the step from boy to man

At the shore
She waves her son goodbye, like the man she did before

Mother's pride; just a boy
In his country's eyes, He's a soldier waving at the shore

And in her heart, the time has come

To lose a son

And all the husbands, all the sons, all the lovers, gone
They make no difference, no difference in the end

Still hear the women say, your daddy died a hero
In the name of God and man

Mother's pride; crazy boy

His lifeless eyes; He's a soldier now forever more
He'll hold a gun, 'til kingdom come

Tuesday, November 8, 2011