Thursday, 27 February 2014

D&D 40th Blog Hop Day 27 + Regrets?

27. If you had it to do all over again, would you do anything different than when you first started gaming?

Xena has no regrets.
Yes. I would have kept working on Mythrandir, my fantasy world. The hand drawn map is long gone, along with the pages of notes and artwork.

More importantly, I would have shared my love of gaming with more people. There's a certain social stigma attached to D&D. Just ask my wife! Anyway, if I have a regret, that would be it.

This weekend I'm running a D&D Tournament at a gaming convention. I haven't done that in over twenty years! Is it a sign of things to come? Perhaps I shall leave that to the next post...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

D&D Day 26 + Do you still game with the group that introduced you to the hobby?

Ok, so I'm getting near the end of the...

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge!

26. Do you still game with the group that introduced you to the hobby?

Hmmm, yes and no. I mean, as I mentioned in my first post. Mr Roberts, our primary school teacher, took the whole class on an afternoon D&D adventure. That was my first introduction to D&D. That started it for me. I started buying the game books, miniatures and dice and playing with friends. Then came Geoff Holland's Sunday sessions in the library. As we grew older, it turned into Saturday nights. My group of friends from way back then are now out in the big wide world. Actually, most of them live in Wellington. Some of have kept in touch, others I've lost contact with. I actually live close to some gamers I've known since I was a teenager. A good gaming friend (or notorious gaming fiend?) lives just down the road in fact. New Zealand is such a small country, I wouldn't be surprised if every gamer is connected by 2 degrees of separation.

So, in a way it's yes and no.

Dungeon Of Doom + Ella's Map

Dungeon of Doom!
Here is the first dungeon from my 8 year old daughter. She named it the Dungeon of Doom!

Using the Key from the inside cover of Mentzer (Red Box) Basic DM book, you may notice there are plenty of beds. Even for the skeletons (the main inhabitants), ruled over by the Skeleton Master. His friend and close neighbor is the Goblin King. They both had a statue erected in their honour but the King's fell down a sinkhole!

This looks like a dangerous place to explore. The goblins set plenty of traps and snares. You can get away by heading down the river.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 25

25. Longest running campaign/gaming group you've been in?

That would be a DragonQuest (SPI) campaign run by Ali Lamb. I've played a character called Toll Quicksilver since 1990 (or 89?) and there have been breaks in play, sometimes for years!

Half of that gaming group (including Ali) is currently playing D&D 2nd edition, DM'd by Steve, so it may be a while before the DQ campaign kicks into gear again.

I'm also still in touch with some of the players from my first gaming group (1980's). They still play RPGs, though not many (if any) are playing D&D.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sunday, 23 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 23

23. First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D?

"Ramble On" is the first that comes to mind. I'd take the whole of Led Zeppelin's forth album on a natural 20. 'Why?' is not a question that needs to be asked, just listen to the music.

Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way.
Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I've got one thing I got to do...

Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time to for spreadin' roots, The time has come to be gone.
And to' our health we drank a thousand times, it's time to Ramble On.

Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

I aint tellin no lie.
Mine's a tale that can't be told, my freedom I hold dear.
How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
T'was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her....yeah.

Aint nothing I can do, no.
Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Gonna ramble on, sing my song. Gotta keep-a-searchin' for my baby...
Gonna work my way, round the world. I can't stop this feelin' in my heart
Gotta keep searchin' for my baby. I can't find my bluebird!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Painting Table Saturday 16

Another Painting Table Saturday! Thanks to Sofie for the encouragement to post photos of unfinished miniatures from my work bench in The Man Shed. These are from my old collection of lead Grenadier miniatures. Long overdue for painting!

Grenadier Elementals: Wind, Earth, Fire & Water!

Bugbears bust in on the action.

Flame on!
As so often happens, other miniatures invade the painting desk. This usually occurs when I have some spare putty to use. Here you can see one of my tried and true techniques for dungeon stonework on the miniatures bases for the Fire Elemental and Grenadier Bugbears.

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 22

Inspired by D&D!
22. First D&D-based novel you ever read?

Dragonlance? I mean, that was a sanctioned AD&D setting and I devoured the novels, bought the modules and painted the Draconians (from the Grenadier miniature range). Created by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis (for TSR), Dragonlance was released when I was beginning to play D&D. There is some discussion that George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series is similar in many ways to Dragonlance. The former is definitely more adult! Which is better? Though I’d sooner give a child Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea than Harry Potter, they both have their place.

I read a lot during my childhood. Some of it was not for kids. I remember buying Congo when I was nine - hey, it had a gorilla on the front cover! Some of the books I read as a young teen were ok enough then but unenduring horrible now. David Eddings' Belgariad is an example of that sort of fiction. However, David Gemmell (RIP) is still a good read. I bought the Dragonlance movie because of nostalgia and ouch, it was awful. I’ve read so much science fantasy, my brain must have a library of tomes shelved somewhere gathering dust. My favourite would have to be The Hobbit. It opened up a whole new world and I’ve been amazed by J.R.R. Tolkien’s works since I was eight. The Hobbit is also the first novel I read to my daughters, followed by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

A few years ago I read The Complete Chronicles of Conan and the entire collection of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, back to back, because I was on a mission (of sorts). I then read all the Elric (Stormbringer) books. By the time I got through those, I had forgot what I was looking for. Perhaps it was to understand what I may have missed when I was younger. When I was watching Conan or Tarzan (Greystoke) in the early 1980s, I knew nothing of Robert Ervin Howard or Edgar Rice Burroughs. Later, I would discover them through Appendix N. in the Dungeon Masters Guide.

Ha! Gotcha! No… Jack Vance, Roger Zelanzy, Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Hugh Cook, Douglas Adams, Robert Rankin and a host of other authors came to me through my friends (ok, mostly gamers) and an innate desire to read stories of heroic fantasy. Tales of characters that face danger head-on and explore the opportunities that come with growing up. Oh, and some dragons thrown in for good measure! If you ever lent me a book, I thank you. If I ever lent you one, could you finish reading it and give it back please? I may want to share it with someone else, or at least discuss what you thought about it.

I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan and his books just scream D&D to me. One of the few authors I know my dad read also, because he was given some Discworld books when he was diagnosed with cancer. He found them humorous and recommended them to me, not realising I’d been a dedicated fan since The Colour of Magic. It was good to know he enjoyed them. My dad loved British humour and introduced me to The Goon Show and Monty Python when I was a boy. March 5th will mark twelve years since his passing.

I actually read The Light Fantastic and The Colour of Magic around the same time as Dragonlance and I believe our Dungeons & Dragons games were closer to Discworld than Krynn. I was introduced to Bravd and Weasel before I met Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Perhaps this is where it comes full circle? A novel that parodies classic fantasy works (some of which already packed with humour) and is also influenced by the authors own experience as a DM? I'd certainly recommend reading Terry Pratchett if someone asked for a D&D-based novel.

Friday, 21 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 21

Current Collection of RPG books.
21. First time you sold your D&D books (for whatever reason)?

Ok, the first time I gave away my entire collection of RPG books, modules, etc. was at the end of my first marriage (back in the 90's). I was leaving town and packing light, so some things just had to go. I don't know if Tom Broadhead still has the contents of those hallowed boxes but I hope they served him well. Especially the Rules Encyclopedia, which is a hot item nowadays!

As for selling D&D books, I sold the three core rulebooks for D&D 3rd edition (and let some modules go) online at very reasonable prices. The main reason? I wasn't going to use them. Hang on, what about the other books on my shelf I'm not using? Well, I guess they have a certain appeal 3rd edition didn't. I also thought, if I'm not using them to play D&D, some other folks should! I had enjoyed exploring them while running a campaign but that was when they were first released. Thus I sold them and did not shed a tear. May they bring joy to their new owner and his gaming community.

I never owned D&D 2nd edition by the way. Just thought I'd put that out there. I read the core books and many of the 'complete' *books but despite playing in 2nd edition campaigns, never felt the urge to buy them. It just felt like AD&D 1st edition with extra add-ons. Lots of extra add-ons. In fact, most of their content was viewed in the same way as Unearthed Arcana by our gaming group at the time. Let the buyer beware.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 20

There can be only one...
20. First non-D&D RPG you played?

Fighting Fantasy! I discovered these gamebooks in the school library at around the age of nine, when I lived in Matamata, which is now the home of Hobbiton. Warlock of Firetop Mountain was the first and it was brand new! Then (over the next few years) came other books, including The Citadel of Chaos, The Forest of Doom, City of Thieves, Deathtrap Dungeon (my favourite for some reason), Island of the Lizard King, Scorpion Swamp and Caverns of the Snow Witch.

These were the years before my first game of D&D. Deathtrap Dungeon stands out because it was a 'Trail of Champions', set in a deadly labyrinth of traps and monsters. Not only did you have to survive against those odds, you also had to compete against five other contestants: "There can be only one winner in the Trail of Champions."

All for the glory and your weight in gold!

The first non-D&D RPG after playing Dungeons & Dragons? Dragon Warriors.

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 19

19. First gamer who annoyed the hell out of you?

I'm going to have to sleep on this one... seriously. Good night.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 18

What's all the fuss about LARP?
18. First gaming convention you ever attended?

The first gaming convention was in Hamilton (New Zealand) back in the 80's. I can't even recall what it was named. I do remember playing D&D, Battletech, Gamma World, MERP, a Super Heroes game and a variety of other lesser known games and homebrew systems. Over the following years I kept coming back to play, enter miniature painting competitions and run RPG sessions, although the convention was at a new venue each time. I'm not sure if this was because the event was growing in size or that we weren't welcome again at the previous venue... perhaps because of the LARP?

There are some fantastic gaming conventions in New Zealand, like Battlecry and KapCon. Also, Armageddon is a huge convention for those who are into sci-fi/fantasy comics, TV and movies. You will see quite a few cosplay enthusiasts (er, gamers) at Armageddon, even though it's mainly about merchandise and movie-stars, not playing games.

As a celebration of Dungeons & Dragons 40th Anniversary, I will be running a D&D tournament at The New Zealand Festival of MindSports. I may even bring some funny hats.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Boromir Death Simulator + Blowing The Horn of Gondor

So much old school fun here! Alas, it may end badly for Boromir...

"Few have gained such a victory."
"Then Boromir had come leaping through the trees. He had made them fight. He slew many of them and the rest fled. But they had not gone far on the way back when they were attacked again, by a hundred Orcs at least, some of them very large, and they shot a rain of arrows: always at Boromir. Boromir had blown his great horn till the woods rang, and at first the Orcs had been dismayed and had drawn back; but when no answer but the echoes came, they had attacked more fiercely than ever. Pippin did not remember much more. His last memory was of Boromir leaning against a tree, plucking out an arrow; then darkness fell suddenly." The Two Towers, "The Uruk-hai".

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 17

17. First time you heard that D&D was somehow "evil"?

An article in a White Dwarf magazine. Or, it may have been in the letters to the editor? I mean, there was always stuff in RPG magazines that wasn't particularly wholesome, for example Dave Morris and his article "Dealing With Demons in RuneQuest". That's bound to have any concerned parent banning their child from the game, right? Well, I wasn't raised by those parents.

I'm a born again Christian. For some that's scarier than playing D&D! However, I see playing games as an important part of my life. Perhaps more now than when I was younger. It is noted that Gary Gygax had a favorite Bible verse:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

Sunday, 16 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 16

16. Do you remember your first edition war?

War! Good God! What is it good for? I can't say I'm innocent when it comes to the edition conflict. I'm often vocal about what I like and don't like. This doesn't mean I'm right. I just know what I enjoy.

So I'll stay out of discussions about 4th edition - I never played it. I ran a good 3rd edition campaign but ended up selling the books because it wasn't for me. 2nd edition, well I reckon it's 1st edition with added fluff. They are certainly highly comparable. Then we get back to basics with brown books versus Holmes, Moldvay versus Mentzer.

Next? I'll borrow what I like and keep rolling.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Painting Table Saturday 15

I joined the crew at Painting Table Saturday, run by Sofie. Here is the state of things in The Man Shed today:

My Painting Table

On the left is Nuada of the Silver Hand, a birthday present from my good friend Bobby. It's an i-Kore miniature that is now part of the Brigade Models 'Celtos' range. On the right is a Dwarf Lord of Legend, King Gorrin - a classic from Citadel Miniatures. At the back is a Reaper miniature, Alastriel the Elf Sorceress.

I'm not sure how these will turn out. I don't tend to use the colour purple often and I may change my mind about the cloak. Miniatures can sit half-painted on my desk while I get to know them better!

Thanks Sofie, for letting me joining Painting Table Saturday. See you next week!

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 15

15. What was the first edition of D&D you didn't enjoy?

I believe that a good DM can run any edition of D&D and still give the players a rewarding game experience. However, some editions are harder work.

When D&D had a major overhaul and was rebranded as 3rd edition, I bought the three core rule books and ran a campaign using them. We had a lot of fun. The groups first encounter with a troll will always be remembered for the ferocity of that first round of melee and it's unexpected result. Rend

D&D 3rd edition was (and still is) a great game. The time it took to prepare a session or roll up a character had greatly increased though. In fact the Character Generator CD that came with the game helped immensely. Especially when running a campaign. In combat, the attack of opportunity rules were unnecessary.

Perhaps it would be too harsh to say I didn't enjoy 3rd edition D&D. Why? Because as a DM it inspired me to think differently about monsters. I even had the opportunity to play online with Swords & Sorcery creators from Necromancer Games. One of my characters, a half-orc Wizard named Vok Wightkicker, even made it into one of their modules.

In the end though, I left the books to sit on the shelf. It is telling that the next campaign I ran was with the D&D Basic and Expert rulebooks. Eventually I sold my 3rd edition books online.

Friday, 14 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 14

14. Did you meet your significant other playing D&D? Does she still play?

Ah, now we start to get personal? My wife doesn't play D&D. She does play Candy Crush, so maybe there's hope? I haven't met a lot of women who are gamers. My daughters and their friends are far more interested in the hobby than girls were when I was younger. How the times have changed!

My first girlfriend who played D&D was actually the daughter of the man who ran the gaming club (and my English teacher), Geoff Holland. He wasn't altogether happy with us dating but that was Barbara's decision and she was fairly headstrong. Suffice to say she was wonderful (and far too good for me). I believe she still plays regularly.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 13

Adventurer w. Sword - Grenadier Fantasy Lords 101b
13. First miniature(s) you used for D&D?

The first miniature I used for D&D was from a blister set of three Adventurers, from the Grenadier Fantasy Lords series. I painted them all but the fighting man with a two-handed sword appealed most. The other two were armed with battle axe and spear. It was the beginning of a lifelong love: collecting and painting miniatures.

Because I had a job as a paperboy, my collection of miniatures grew quickly. I began painting with enamels (Testors/Humbrol) and then eventually moved to acrylics (Tamiya/Ral Partha/Citadel), which is probably when my habit of licking the brush started. I soon discovered other miniature companies too, with a variety of fantastic heroes, villains, beasts and monsters. With time I started to recognise the work of different sculptors. I'm a big fan of the Perry Twins!

I currently own more unpainted miniatures than painted ones. Sometimes I give them new homes, as gifts to friends, or by selling them cheaply online to other enthusiasts. I also still enjoy painting the older miniatures as well as more recent sculpts. My friends know this, so I often end up with the occasional gift myself. Most of all, there is a peacefulness that comes with painting. As a husband, dad (with three girls), teacher/musician, peacefulness is precious. A good reason to pick up the brush when I have the spare time!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Dungeons & Dragons + The New Zealand Festival of Mind Sports

Hauraki Herald, 31 January 2014.
"MindSport Festivals and Competitions are mainly held in Europe - and now - Thames on The Coromandel is championing the first of its kind in New Zealand. Along with serious competitors, the event will provide a fun environment for anyone who plays a sport of the mind to compete equally and fairly in the spirit of good will and sportsmanship."

The New Zealand Festival of MindSports! Only two weeks to go and it's game on! It feels great to be bringing Dungeons & Dragons to the massive weekend event, which will include everything from Bridge to Napoleonic wargaming. 

I'll also be bringing my blues band to rock the street party that opens the festival. Epic!

Happy birthday D&D!

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 12

Chris Lander at MK1: Keeping it unreal.
12. First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?

No. It was in Te Kuiti and is long gone. However it really wasn't a gaming store, it was just stocking the D&D rules, dice(?) and Grenadier miniatures because it was the 1980's and demand was high. The first actual gaming shop I visited was in Hamilton (Waikato, New Zealand), the nearest big town. Mark One (aka MK1), was where you went to get a healthy dose of unreality. Weird was welcome. I mean, the staff were gamers too.

They're still around but times have changed. They had everything back then. Card games, board games, comics, graphic novels, miniatures, a plethora of different RPG rule-books and so much more. Nowadays they stock the latest and best selling pop culture stuff and have even gone online with their comics but you're unlikely to find as much variety in the RPG section. Still a great shop though, where weird is still welcome. Service with a smile!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 11

Barbarian, Unearthed Arcana.
11. First splatbook you begged your DM to approve?

Splatbooks? Hmm, that would be most books after the core rules, right? You could call the Best of Dragon IV (which I mentioned in the previous post) a splatbook. It has enough classes to fill a sandbox: Bandit, Bounty Hunter, Cloistered Cleric, Death Master, Duelist, Jester, Scribe, Smith... plenty of player choice for a campaign, even if they're meant as NPCs. Plus there's also the whole Half-Ogre! I rolled one up (as an NPC) as soon as I saw that lovely Elmore artwork.

Any of those early RPG magazines, like Dragon and White Dwarf, just oozed creative campaign balance-tipping potential. The sort of potential that would later become authorised in TSR books and modules.

Unearthed Arcana? There's some serious * in there! That would be the first book I bought that introduced a whole lot of fluff to our game. Serious, game-changing fluff. The sort of fluff that was now officially optional, as opposed to experimentally optional.

It would be fair to say that my views of their worth has changed with time. However, my first splatbook approved character was a Wu Jen from Oriental Adventures. That was long after playing alongside Barbarians, Cavaliers and Rangers (with weapon specialisation: bow), knowing that the old standard Fighters were now the poorer class choice. Can't beat 'em? Join 'em! For better or worse.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Blood Bowl + Orcs Vs Humans

Maybe I needed that Troll?
Monday game night provided an excellent adventure into the realms of fantasy football. I never played Blood Bowl back in the day. It was perhaps because I didn't play Grid Iron at school. I played football. You know, the international sport with a round ball? Sometimes called Soccer. The closest thing we have to Grid Iron in New Zealand is Rugby. It's a similar concept but without all the padding.

Anyway, back to the game. My first game of Blood Bowl! Lewis was unaware of this until the end of the night, though I doubt he would have gone easy on me because of it. He played Humans, I played Orcs. It was a game of two halves.

Lewis is a very organised gamer and makes sure rules are handy at all times. Yes, that's an authentic Blood Bowl box in great condition.

The field is home made and specially designed for slaughter.

Games Workshop at their best.

Special Blood Bowl dice!

My first Blitz!

Go long!

Touch Down!

The Orcs make a quick comeback.

Touch Down!

That's a foul! 


Foul! Eh, not pulled up for it?

You can't keep a bad Orc down. You can knock him senseless though!

Half time, change sides.

Some people try to find things in this game that don't exist but football is only two things - blocking and tackling.
- Vince Lombardi
A quick pass, a fumble, the Humans take the intercept and...

Football is a game played with arms, legs and shoulders but mostly from the neck up.
- Knute Rockne

The last chance for the Orcs, a long pass is dropped!

Lewis is stunned by the snake eyes.

Fumble after fumble after fumble. Technical errors abound!

Another Orc Team, expertly painted by Rob from Wellington.
So, there you have it. The first touchdown went to the Humans. The Orcs came back fighting and scored in the end of the first half. The second half was a battle royal, with the Humans scoring again. The Orcs regrouped but ran out of time. Alas, you don’t get any medals for trying (you’re supposed to do that).

A well deserved win for Lewis! He promises to get out the metal miniatures for the next game.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 10

New Classes, plus advice for Players & DMs!
You could run a campaign with this book!
10. First gaming magazine (Dragon, Dungeon, White Dwarf, etc.) you ever bought?

That would be Dragon. Which issue? Not sure. So I did some research here.

My first gaming magazine was definitely the Best of Dragon Vol. IV and I also purchased Dragon #104 (Release: 1985) and most of the ones afterwards, from 1986 - 1991. Then started buying them again from Dragon #254 (Release: 1998) until Dragon #290 (Release: 2001), around the time I finished a 3rd Edition campaign*.

Were there other magazines? Yes. Dungeon, Pyramid, etc. Was there anything better than Dragon? Well, yes of course! White Dwarf. I started buying them around the same time (1985) and they were just better in every way. That's not to say Dragon was bad. White Dwarf just had more mojo.

I gave away my magazines but over the last few years began collecting early issues of Dragon and White Dwarf second hand. Some of these I had borrowed for perusal from friends in the past, others were new to my eyes. I now own the Best of Dragon I, II, II and IV, plus a large stack of (the best) White Dwarf magazines from the 1980s, back when they had content for D&D, Traveller, Dragon Quest, RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, etc. (and so much more!) and weren't just a coffee table photo book for Warhammer wargames played at the Games Workshop studios. I do like a game of Rogue Trader or Mordheim (I have the Best of The Town Cryer magazine). I'd just rather play it than look at the glossies of someone else's battle report.

So, those early issues of White Dwarf are the gold for me. That being said, I also have some Lord of The Rings issues from the early 2000s. I'm a lifetime fan of Tolkien and the miniatures are superb! Also, the movies were filmed in New Zealand, so there are a lot of connections for me personally.

Thanks to the digital age, I have pdfs of the earlier (#1 onwards) issues of Dragon and White Dwarf. I rarely bother opening them, even for study. You just can't beat print. Alas, they are both gone now.

*As a DM, 3rd Edition was a lot of work but hey, we had a lot of fun with it. The best thing to do is ignore most of the rules and just play the game.

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 9

Bigby had a lot to answer for!
9. First campaign setting (published or homebrew) you played in?

Until high school*, all the games were about entering dungeons. Then there was a shift as I joined a gaming club with my friends, run by Geoff Holland, an English teacher and in many ways, my first mentor. His dungeons were linked to something larger, even if we didn't realise it. Geoff had a heart for gaming. His collection of board games, role-playing games, card games... he had what would now be regarded as an OSR treasure trove!

As well as games, he had the other town library. It was a room of shelves filled with science fiction, fantasy and world history. His love of games was infectious. All sorts of wonders made their way into his campaign setting, with a healthy sense of humour!

*That's around 13 years old for those outside New Zealand.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 8

8. First set of polyhedral dice you owned. Do you still use them?

They came in the box. I didn't even pause to think about why they were cool. They just were. Maybe it was rolling them and hoping for a high number? Especially for those precious hit points, where a 1 really sucked. Or knowing that you wanted the best weapon for your character. Dagger, 1d4? No way! Two-Handed Sword, 1d10! Awesome!

My favourite die? That beloved d20. No matter what you were up against, a natural 20 was always a hit! So much cooler than the six-sided dice I used for combat in Fighting Fantasy gamebooks!

Those original dice are long gone. Stolen from my car a few weeks after my dad died in 2002. I replaced them with new ones soon after. They didn't feel the same. Since then I've also collected some dice from second hand D&D box sets I've bought. It's feels good to have a bag with a variety of dice handy, especially for games with new players. I empty the bag on the table and they get to choose their own.

Friday, 7 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 7

7. First D&D product you ever bought. Do you still have it?

That would be a close call between the D&D Red (Mentzer) Box or a some Grenadier miniatures. They came in blister packs and boxed sets. This was the beginning of my painting career. I still have some of those miniatures!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 6

6. First character death. How did you handle it?

I cannot recall the first character death. I lost a lot of characters in the early days. There are so many dumb ways to die when you only have a handful of hit points! Some notable early deaths:

1. Sam Lightfoot, my brave Hobbit (Lvl 2), slaughtered by Simon's Myrmidon after searching through the treasure without leave. Lesson learned the hard way. Thievery within the party is best left to the Fighter and Elf classes!

2. Grimm the Dwarf (Lvl 3), drowned in a well he was trying to swim across. Given that he was wearing chainmail (and the well was filled with green bubbling water and tentacles), it would have been wiser to run around it. Or did he take off his chainmail first? Anyway, his body was never recovered.

3. Malkraz, Elf (Lvl 4). A failure to Save vs. Dragon Breath results in ashes for this unfortunate elven adventurer. He did not die in vain. His death was a warning to the party that there were dragons about!

4. Willow Weeping By The Water, an (Oriental Adventures) elven Wu Jen (Lvl 2). After investigating glowing lights in the marshes (in an effort to communicate with the spirits), she is slain by will-o'-the-wisp. The party gathered her body and used a wish ring to bring her back to life. Alas, a critical (00) failure. Her body disappears in a puff of cosmic dust with a faint smell of sulphur. Now that I recall this character's death, her name (after a line in a Pink Floyd song), is rather poetic and prophetic.

The best way to handle character death? Roll up a new character!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge + Day 5

5. First character to go from 1st level to the highest level possible in a given edition? Or, what's the highest level character you've ever ran?

I've never had a character go to the highest level, except in computer games. I guess that's because all editions are limitless? Or, more likely, because characters/campaigns tend to die or retire around name level (9-11) in Dungeons & Dragons.

The longest character I've run in a campaign is Toll Quicksilver, an elven mage (College of Air Magics). He's been around for over twenty years now, although the game has taken breaks, sometimes for years. The game system is Dragon Quest (SPI), so I'm not sure of his level, although I could probably convert him to AD&D stats.