Sunday, April 24, 2016

Field Report: Chico, California

This field update comes to you from the heart of the State of Jefferson.  (It's currently known as Northern California, but from the yard signs seen around the area that's subject to change as soon as the locals get a say in state politics...don't hold your breath, the big metroplexes that run California ain't giving up all that tax revenue or all those water sources any time soon.)

Chico is the big local city, about 100,000 people, located at the far northern tip of California's central valley.  Although not a huge city, it dwarfs the towns and villages that serve the largely agricultural area.  It is also home to two university's, so there's a large enough contingent of gaming's target market to support at least one game shop.  That would be 'Bat Comics and Games' located on the downtown strip.

Inside is mostly comics and general nerd paraphernalia, with one wall of gaming supplies.  No gaming space, which strikes me as odd, but this is primarily a comic store.  That may be a good sign, indicating more gaming groups doing their thing at home rather than the weekly mini-conventions that dominate gaming in my home town.   They had a couple of feet of older discounted products on the shelf, so there's some opportunity for finding that rare ouit of print gem, but nothing that caught my eye.The staff was friendly and helpful, and parking was easy even on a Saturday morning.  

They didn't have any of my preferred product in stock, but 15mm fantasy in one of those strange little niche products that make me feel like a hipster when asking about it.  ("I only drink craft beer and listen to bands you've never heard of, too.  *sniff* ")  One great little feature is a glass case full of the most random assortment of miniatures I've seen in person in a long time.  Old Partha true-25mm fantasy, plastic pre-paints, and a host of them I can't even identify.  They had these cute little guys that I couldn't pass up for just a buck each.  

They are a little cartoony, but that fits great with the pulpy feel I've been pushing in my sci-fi.  They should make great little unmanned drones and patrol bots in15mm sci-fi games. Only a buck each, and no shipping costs for once.

All in all, Bat Comics and Games is worth a quick stop if you're ever in the area.

Monday, April 11, 2016

On Hiatus

It's been a good year.  By breaking things up more than normal, I've been able to produce content every other day for the first quarter of 2016.  Unfortunately, it is probably going to be a while before anything else appears in this space.  My month long business trip is turning into two months or more, so no real progress can be made on the blog until I can get home and get some serious brush time in.

Stay tuned, it's just a temporary setback.  And thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Pool Room

Rooms full of weird pools meant to tempt, trap, lure, and reward adventurers go all the way back to those halcyon days of B-effing-1, In Search of the Unknown.  That was back when TSR didn't sell adventurers to follow, they sold modules to explore and use to create your own adventures.  One of my earliest memories as a player was a fight against kobolds where my cleric used a sling, and my older brother (the DM) had to explain that a sling was not a slingshot.  My second oldest memory is poking around the pool room in B1, finding one pool with just sand in it, and finding one full of healing potions.  That's about it.

Magic pools are a must-have in any mad wizard's dungeon, and Castle Meatgrinder is no exception.  One black ichor, one purple magic, one green slime, and one cool refreshing water pool. 

Have fun figuring out which is the safe pool and which is the dangerous one, suckers adventurers!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Temporary Storage Solution

One of my Christmas gifts to myself was this great box.  It had personal hygiene products in it, but I'm a gamer, so did what gamers do and threw that in the garbage.  This box, though.  Sliding top, solid wood, pretty swanky.  At some point I will need to create some inner partitions, but I'm waiting until I get more dungeon terrain done.  
It'll be a lot easier to figure out what size compartments I need once I know what all needs to go in there.  At this point we are up to:

  • Wizard library
  • Wizard laboratory
  • Bunkroom
  • Dining Hall
  • Mystic Garden
  • Hall of the Blood Columns
  • The Well
  • The Glowing Angelic Statue
  • The Stone Tree
  • The Pool Room
  • Lone Mirror Room
  • Black Altar of Death

  • That's a pretty good dungeon, but now...we need some traps!

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016

    Mirror Mirror In the Hole

    Still on the road, so just a quick hit today.  For those of you that haven't figured it out yet, my posts are scheduled weeks in advance.  As you read these words, I am cooling my heels working in San Francisco for a month.  While I'm gone, please enjoy this filler post featuring a single cheap piece of furniture.

    It's just a simple wood frame with some reflective paper glued to it.  Nothing fancy construction-wise.

    I love love love otherwise empty rooms that contain one single feature.  In ordinary circumstances this might be a normal mirror.  Finding it as the only feature inside a large stone room deep in a dangerous dungeon, the odds are good that it is as valuable as it is dangerous.   Even just putting in place as a valuable magic item will challenge the players.  Now they can ignore the obvious loot or struggle to haul something as fragile as it is bulky up and out of a hostile environment.  Good luck with that!

    Sunday, April 3, 2016

    Puzzle Room

    Imagine your characters walking into a large chamber dominated by this thing.

    The top is simply a 10mm wizard courtesy the fine folks over at Irregular Miniatures.  The base is part of a Kid's Meal toy that's been bopping around the bits box for years.  I always knew it would come in handy for something.

    This is another one of those fun little items that offers a lot of potential.  There is a reason for the massive size of the base of this statue, and a reason for all those purple glyphs etched around the base.  Hitting the right glyphs will open up a door to treasure.  Hitting the wrong glyphs will open up the door to a dormant undead monstrosity.  Anything else triggers green bolts of energy from the staff of that robed figure.

    What I love about features like this is that you can stash the code to unlock the door somewhere else in the dungeon, and that treasure map unlocks the secret to this tomb.

    Friday, April 1, 2016

    The Iron Cage

    Here's a nice and versatile dungeon feature.

    It could be a cage trap set to drop on the unwary.  It could be a cage containing a rare and expensive monster that, whoops - the party just stepped on a release mechanism and now it's escaped.  Or it could contain that lost princess you've been hired to find.

    The two portcullises crafted as hallway blockers can easily be pressed into service with this feature to make an even cooler looking cell block.