Monthly Archives: December 2014

Sydney Museum, 1925



‘The crouching image with its cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in the Museum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisite workmanship, and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangeness of material which I had noted in Legrasse’s smaller specimen. Geologists, the curator told me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world held no rock like it. Then I thought… about the primal Great Ones: ‘They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them.’
H.P. Lovecraft, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

Draft render for a Lovecraftian roleplaying project, DAZ Studio and Photoshop. (Click for full size image).

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DM Talk 5 Part II: 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide

Brave New Dungeon

Two Dungeon Master’s mastering the art of talking around the subject of Mastering Dungeons

Found at The RPG Athenaeum Found at The RPG Athenaeum

DM Talk 5

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Monster: The Phase Spider

How many people know someone who is afraid of spiders ? I think just about all of us do. It is a common fear. Now lets take your fear. Make it bigger then your average dinning room game table and has the ability to seamlessly shift between this plane and the Ethereal! Many players dread facing phase spiders. And if they don’t you are not doing it right ! These lovelies should scare the pants off most parties when encountered. If used properly at the moment realization of what is about to come their way a game master should hear a satisfying and slightly audible groan of dread sweep over the room.

So enough about my personal feelings of joy at the terror these guys bring. Lets take a look at what exactly it is about the Phase spider that makes it so deadly. This is a spider form the…

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Defender Gaming Initiative – Supporting Those That Defend Us

Rolling Boxcars

Welcome to Rolling Boxcar’s Defender Gaming Initiative. This initiative is my way of giving back to the veteran community and staying connecting to my military brethren. A little background information is in order before I outline the plans. So, please bear with me and I ask that each of you check your political agendas at the door please. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation!

I am 19 year Air Force veteran and have done my time in the “sandbox” and working as a mechanic grunt on heavy aircraft for far too many years. My time “down range” pales in comparison to many of my brothers and sisters in the Army and Marine Corps. The military experience changes a person, both positively and negatively on many levels. I know I have been affected by my time in the service, some good and some not so good. That said, I wouldn’t trade…

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Monday Art Attack: Dungeons & Dragons “Red Box” Art by Larry Elmore

Five Moons RPG pre-alpha playtest

5e Session Seven Recap Part I- Puzzles, Riddles, and Difficult Decisions

DIY RPG Productions

Last session we left of with the group dealing with the death of Fletch’s dwarf barbarian, defeating a bone naga and claiming Ruby Eye of Shazal for the dead sorcerer Gargomel.  This session we finished off the apprentice’s secret lair and encounter a whole new set of problems.


Fletch- played John’s wood elf rogue for most of the adventure, and then introduced his Snow Elf Cleric of Tittivilla

Stephen- Halfling barbarian level 1/fighter level 1

Chuck- High elf sorcerer

Liam- Gnome paladin

NPC- Benedict (Level 0 NPC)

The group continued down to the southern area and found a wall with a gargoyle head that turned either left or right.  Fletch examined it and was about to roll for traps when I described the new situation.

Aside: I’ve decided to make some traps more like puzzles (and more interesting than just rolling), but structuring them in a flowchart layout (see picture below)…

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Starting a PhD In Video Games Amid Gamergate

DAREDEVIL, SNAKE, WOLVERINE, AND THE BATMAN, or How I Beat Metal Gear like a Wet Stepchild

Up until this past holiday weekend I had not played any video game in months. Probably closer to a year.

But after Christmas I played some video games in my spare time, and today my oldest daughter wanted me to play Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

So while everyone else went off to watch football games at friend’s houses I stayed at home and played Metal Gear. (Once I start something I don’t like to break off iffin I can help it.)

In the space of a mere three hours I beat the main or primary mission. An amazingly good time for me because I tend to favor stealth and sneaking, Intel gathering, and exploration and reconnoitering of my environment over direct combat (just my nature, in both gaming and in real life). Also I stopped play two times to eat and once to walk my dog.

How good was I, you ask?

Well, let me put it to you this way. If you took Daredevil (not that stupid yellow or red suited Daredevil, but the Black Suit Daredevil) and cooked him, then fed him to Solid Snake, then wrapped that Snake around Wolverine, then made an incision and stuck that Daredevil-fed, Snake-Wrapped Wolverine inside the belly of the Batman to run that mission – well, I was still better than that…


By the way, I really enjoyed Ground Zeroes. It was a typical operatic Metal Gear game but far more gritty and tactical and down to Earth minus most of the really weird villains and the bizarre combat sequences (and cut scenes). I think of it as Metal Gear Lite without all the crazy Japanese metaphysics about warfare and life and the universe. (It did have a couple of open gut scenes though.) Now actually I often really like the crazy Japanese metaphysics but it can get kinda convoluted and plot sticky from time to time. This was like supercooled frictionless Japanese metaphysics.

It was more of a very simple, straight forward, almost realistic (considering it is a Metal Gear game) infiltration and hostage recovery game/mission. The parameters were simple. Which was an extremely nice and simple change of pace for a Metal Gear Game.

It was short though, even with me burning through it with very few mistakes and only being killed once.

It alert mode though, those Marines sure were tough and sure did like to bunch up in hard to scatter fire-teams with good overlapping fields of fire. Another reason I avoided combat, plus I really didn’t feel like killing Marines even if they were rogue, and it was just a game. (Gotta lotta buddies who are Marines.) Though with such an undeveloped, or I should say unspecified plot it was really hard to tell good guys from bad guys or even just exactly what was going on.

I still don’t really know, but ya know, that’s a Metal Gear plot for ya, ain’t it?



These two posts,The Tributary Tales, and Conan, Baba Yaga, and Tôl Karuţha will explain what I mean by the Tributary Tales.

Suffice it to say that over the holidays (in my spare time between Thanksgiving and Christmas)  I made basic, and sometimes quite complicated, plot and character sketches of the Tributary Tales I wish to write.

Below is the new and expanded list of the Tributary Tales I will write and the titles for each story. I’ll post plot and character sketches and the stories themselves as I write them. I’ve made good progress on Tôl Karuţha and on My Battered Heart already, with the second being a graphic novel script, not a short story. The Godzilla story, Rising Son, will actually be a film script not a short story. But most all of the others will be short stories or short novellas.

I will work on…

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To Score or Not to Score, That is the Question

COG Gaming


A board game Facebook group I belong to recently hosted a discussion regarding review rubrics. The discussion specifically centered on rubrics with a points system, focusing on how heavily to weigh certain categories over others, and what exactly the specifics of each point should be. People had varying scales in their rubrics, differences in categories, and differences in how heavily they weighed things like art vs. mechanics, components, etc. Even though COG doesn’t currently use a rubric like the ones discussed, it nevertheless got me thinking about the pros and cons of different review systems, and whether there were aspects from other systems COG may be able to use to better our content.

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Review: The Convicted- a fantasy, cooperative survival game

Interesting game and nice Kickstarter project

COG Gaming

The Convicted Box ArtYear Published: 2014
Designer: Mateusz Albricht, Marek Sanecki, Pawel Puchniewicz
Publisher: BoardGames4U
Players: 1-4
Playtime: 8 hours (Can save progress)

One Sentence Synopsis: You’re bad boys, and need to figure out what to do before they come for you.

You and your pals are some real delinquents.  No, really.  Counterfeiters, murderers, smugglers, vandals…you’re all some real scum.  Lucky for you, the King is feeling generous.  In exchange for giving your group a new lease on life, you’ve been banished to the fringes of the known world and given instructions to prove your loyalty by colonizing those new lands.  Accompanied by a small contingent of soldiers and a few carts worth of resources, you’ll struggle to turn your fledgling village into a well-fortified township that is capable of fending off even the most intimidating sieges from the less-than-friendly locals.  No fabled Thanksgiving welcome here- You’re The Convicted.

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Out in Thirty

I miss Risk

Snowgood's Blog

Risk 2014Roy would like the world to knbow that last year’s RISK champion was knocked out in thirty minutes.  😦

Hopefully there’ll be a re-match.

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Seminar CLV: tracking the head of John the Baptist

A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

I proffer my usual apologies for the intermittent service here at the moment. I had hoped that the holidays would give time for blog catch-up but I am between even more places than usual this Christmas and have also been contriving to get about 1,500 words a day of book written and an article finished off and ready to submit, and I’m loath to mess with the magic… Nonetheless, tonight I have some time and so I can tell you about going to the Earlier Middle Ages Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research on 14th May 2014 to hear Dr Georges Kazan speak to the title, “The Head of St John the Baptist: Byzantium and the Circulation of Relics in the Early Middle Ages”.

View from the west of the church of Sv. Ioan Prodrom, Sveti Ivan, Bulgaria View from the west of the church of Sv. Ioan Prodrom, Sveti Ivan, Bulgaria. Photograph by Kazimir Popkonstnatinov

This was an unusual paper, not least…

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From an Amphipolis tomb to Richard III to Neanderthals – The most interesting archaeological discoveries of 2014

Universal Journal Review

Discovery Channel: Thanks to the careful work of archaeologists, we learned more in the past year about Stonehenge’s hidden monuments, Richard III’s gruesome death and King Tut’s mummified erection. From the discovery of an ancient tomb in Greece to the first evidence of Neanderthal art, here are 10 of Live Science’s favorite archaeology stories of 2014.

Rarely do archaeological digs attract so much attention in real time. But at Amphipolis, an ancient coastal city in northern Greece, the discovery of a lavish 2,300-year-old tomb has created a national frenzy. In August, state archaeologists broke through the entrance of a huge burial mound that’s been billed as the largest of its kind in the Greek world. (Its perimeter measures about 1,600 feet, or 490 meters.)

Excavators found broken sphinxes, two female statues called caryatids, a remarkably intact mosaic floor and some skeletal material, which is awaiting analysis. It’s still unclear who…

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Episode 10: the World that Cyrus Conquered

Finally we arrive at the tale of Cyrus, what you have all been waiting for. Get the episode from here

This is the introduction to the history of Cyrus, looking at the world in which he started his career. I go from the Mediterranean to China and back to Mesopotamia, surveying the Eurasian world in 550 BCE or so, as well as making some preliminary remarks about Cyrus himself.

Check out the Bibliography for items added for this subject.

The world in the sixth century BCE (a bit idealistic, but gives you some ideas) The world in the sixth century BCE (a bit idealistic, but gives you some ideas)

Map of the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire Map of the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) Empire

Cylinder of Nabonidus Cylinder of Nabonidus

A gold coin from Lydia A gold coin from Lydia

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How does the game work?

The Dungeon Missus

So let’s backtrack a little bit. Because you will have just read about Uthyll’s first (level one, “awww”) adventure with Eli, Pravus, Adriana and Aloysius. But what I have been asked most commonly is “how do you, you know, play?” That’s probably the hardest thing for a non-player to grasp, as there’s no board, no disc, no cards (yet), just a few sheets of paper with some moves and some statistics.

Well, here is what we found. The idea is to, literally, role-play your character. Whether that means to refer to yourself in third person or first person is, I guess, really down to the individual player, although in my opinion it would be better for a group to stick to one format. So, for example, the DM (Dungeon Master, more to come on that role later) who is in charge of the scenario and does not…

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Staghound I Tactical Evaluation

Tribe Collecting

Flames of War fans, my latest blog entry is on Stormtrooper Move. Check it out for some Staghound love!

Flames of war 044

Tribe collecting score: 4

  • Wargaming
  • Miniatures Games
  • Flames of War
  • WWII

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Terrain T’ursday – Christmas Edition

rats east

Pretty much just a photo post today; my playgroup recently ordered some terrain from Warsenal, and I’ve started putting some of it together. I plan to say a little more about the experience in a future post, but for now it’s Christmas, I’ve been on the go all day, and I work at 4am tomorrow, so here’s what you get:





I’m really liking it so far, more details later!

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“The enigma of the Antipodes”

The Medieval Antipodes


This is a chapter from Unit II of my new manuscript. This article has been published at and has been honored with 600 visits so far. It proves that some educated people in the Middle Ages believed that the inhabited world contains more than three canonical continents-an interesting prelude to the Age of Discoveries.

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