Friday, March 28, 2014

R.I.P. Tramp

Dave Trampier has passed on to a higher plane.  http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/03/david-a-trampier-obituary

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Restoring Lost Art - Pictures from Monster and Treasure Assortment Set Three: Treasure

In the final installment of the pictures included in the loose leaf Monster and Treasure Assortment, here are two unattributed pictures.  The first one reminds me of the art work on pages 172 and 173 of the DMG.  Probably the barefoot guy.

Finding Treasure

Treasure
I'm tempted by the amount of shading on the second to assign it to Trampier, but I really can't say for sure.  Again speculation is welcome in the comments.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Restoring Lost Art - Pictures from Monster and Treasure Assortment Set Three: Ogre Magi

Another Sullivan piece, an incautious fighter negotiating with Ogre Magi.  Note the third one behind the screen, there's a scent of betrayal in the air
Cutting a deal
. This does a nice job of bringing out the oriental background of this monster.  It's a good companion to the illustration DCS did in the Monster Manual.
Monster Manual Ogre Magi
Although the others probably teased this guy about his nose.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dirty DM Trick - droit d'aubaine

I was researching travel in the Age of Enlightenment and I came across Tobais Smollet's Travels in France and Italy.  These are the letters he wrote to his friends during his sojourn - and boy howdy, if he wasn't an 18th century Scots novelist, he'd have been the original ugly American.  To say that his prejudices shine through would miss the chance to say the he revels, nay, glories in his smug provincialism and Brit-centic view of the world.  He classifies the inhabitants of Boulongne as nobles, merchants and canaille (blackguards/dogs/skunks depending on your translation of choice.)  His opinion of all of them is scathing; as is his opinion of innkeepers anywhere.  But I digress.  Here is a local custom with which to eliminate excess cash and magic items belonging to the late characters and their henchmen.

"When a foreigner dies in France, the king seizes all of his effects, even though his heir should reside upon the spot; this tyranny is called the droit d'aubaine founded at first upon the supposition, that all the estate of foreigners residing in France was acquired in that kingdom, and that, therefore, it would be unjust to convey it to another country."

 Imagine that, the characters are toasting the memory of poor Smedley, who bravely was the last one to turn to run from the troll, when the local bailiff shows up with the tax collector to pick up the shiny +1 sword  Smedley no longer has a use for.

Now apply that same ruling, even in cases of resurrection.... <Cue maniacal laughter.>



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Restoring Lost Art - Pictures from Monster and Treasue Assortment Set Three. Umber Hulk

This time I have an action shot by David C Sutherland III, an Umber Hulk snacking on a fighter as his henchman reconsiders his employment.
Umber Hulk in Action
Compare this picture to Sullivan's Umber Hulk in the Monster Manual and it appears rougher and cruder.  Also it has a full head of hair. 

Monster Manual Umber Hulk

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Domains at War Kickstarter Update II - It's (almost) shipping

In the email today.  D@W has completed converting the print layouts to PDFs, including the counter sheets and will be emailing the PDFs to the PDF reward level backers.  The PDFs are available for backers to download now.  No firm date on the dead tree editions, but they hope/expect/promise/sacrifice small animals that D@W will be on sale at Kickstarter at Gencon this summer.

If I have time I'll grab the online PDFs and post a review over the weekend.

Also in the email bag WoTC announced via rpgDriveThru, the rerelease of 2e module Ravenloft:Masque of the Red Death, Forbidden Lore and Planescape: Something Wild.  I'll defer to Stelios over at d20DarkAges for reviews on anything 2e.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Book Review - Quag Keep

Quag Keep by Andre Norton, was as I mentioned during February's Blog Hop, the first D&D themed novel I ever read.  Indeed it is the first one ever published.  It was published in 1978, and I have the a paperback copy from the Daw September 1979 printing, which puts it right after I started college and coincidentally right after I started playing AD&D.  The book has been traveling around the country with me, thanks to the fact that most of my moving was done at the taxpayers expense.

My memory of it was that it was an unmemorable work by a major author.  It is a fairly lame premise, gamers encounter mysterious miniatures sent to 'well-known players' and are magically transported to the world of Greyhawk, where a wizard sends places them under a geas to find and oppose whoever sent them.  A bit circular but that's the premise.

The intrepid troop, travel across a recognizable version of the Flanaess; each one gets their chance to take center stage by having a unique talent/ability/possession that will get the group past this chapter's literary obstacle.  Eventually they find the eponymous castle in the middle of a swamp in the middle of the Sea of Dust where they defeat the wicked Referee, who is plotting on merging the two worlds.  Character development zero, comprehensible rational for the villain zero. Which I think is par for the course with Norton.  I read many of her works when I was younger, but never felt she was at the level of Heinlein, Asimov, Anderson or Tolkien.

Still if the plot is second rate, the individual scenes are done by a master wordsmith. She makes buying horses for the journey a scene full of background knowledge for the setting; humor and wraps up with a sense of foreboding.

I'm not a fan of any D&D setting fantasies; of the ones I've read, this one has the best writing, but the plot limits my recommendation to two skulls.