Thursday, September 23, 2021

Word of the Day -- Encumber

This is the root of a word known to all RPG enthusiasts, especially if you sit at one of Steve's tables... 

Encumber -- weigh down, burden; to impede or hamper the function or activity of : hinder

In Old French, the noun combre meant a defensive obstacle formed by felled trees with sharpened branches facing the enemy. Later, in Middle French, combre referred to a barrier, similar to a dam or weir, constructed in the bed of a river to hold back fish or protect the banks. That notion of holding back is what informs our verb encumber. One can be physically encumbered (as by a heavy load or severe weather) or figuratively (as by bureaucratic restrictions). Combre also gives us the adjectives cumbersome and cumbrous, both meaning "awkward or difficult to handle." (from Merriam-Webster)

Steve loves encumbrance, as he has said many times in games and on Twitch.  He thinks it makes the game better, makes people more focused on their gear and what is worth keeping with you.  And I can't argue that, I believe a little reality never hurt anyone.  Except when it's on your back! :-)

Have a great day folks...


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Blast from the TLG Past (Gygax and d20)

Here's a news article from June 10, 2001, announcing our first product with the esteemed Gary Gygax (friend of the Troll Lords). We had just signed the contracts and the news was out. Gary was extraordinarily generous and we bundled it all up in Aihrde, Gaxmoor and all manner of goodies. 

It is hard to describe those early d20 days. The energy was through the roof, people were coming out of everywhere wit ideas and concepts, amateur and professional. We met at every convention, gathering in bars and around tables in restaurants talking biz and game design. It was wild.

Read the original article here in ICV2! Or click the link. 

Fighter (Female, C&C Players Handbook, 8th Printing)

Fighters do not live in fear of the melee; they face their foes with gritted teeth and steely determination, longingly anticipating the next test of their strength and skill. Art from C&C Players Handbook, 8th printing.

Art by Peter Bradley

The Press of Arms

The grinding press of steel and flesh, bone and iron. With feet braced in earth to loose to hold them they push forward, attempting to force the other off balance and into the thickening maelstrom beneath the upright. The press is too tight for hard swings or broad strokes, it is now a contest of brute force, and stamina where the flesh drives the metal to liberty or death.


The Mutual UFO Network (Mufon) is a great society dedicated to exploring strange phenomena, UFO sightings, abductions and other things you might normally think belong in an episode of the Xfiles. But they do take their job seriously, going the Dana Scully route more than the Fox Mulder, using a scientific method to try to figure out what it is that people are seeing or experiencing. They list case logs with info gathered and post for all to read. The logs show pictures and sometimes videos.

They have a great website for those interested in such things. I must admit I'm in the Mulder camp and I want to believe, so I hit the site one a week or so and see what's happening in the world that lies beyond my office windows. 


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Word of the Day -- Tabard

 Today's word comes out of a necessity for me, from reading an earlier blog post by Troll Steve.  He writes (down below here, a few posts down):  This is pretty much how I picture all my mounted fighters and NPCs. I love chainmail, the normal helm, kite shield, the tabards, trappings on the horse, banner. All of it. Wizards can go sit on a stump!

The slight to Wizards aside, I had to wrack my brain to remember what a tabard was.  It turns out it is:

Tabard --  coarse sleeveless garment worn as the outer dress of medieval peasants and clerics, or worn as a surcoat over armor.

Then I had to wonder what a surcoat was.  Don't you just hate an entry that has a word you don't know?  So I found this:   A surcoat may be defined as being a long coat, and was often sleeveless... A tabard is a looser style of surcoat, which superseded the jupon in the first half of the fifteenth century. The armorial tabard is often depicted emblazoned with arms on the front, back and on both or either sleeve. 

Jupon?  Just what in the hell is a jupon?  Make it stop!  Okay, so a jupon is: a tight-fitting garment like a shirt often padded and quilted and worn under medieval armor. It comes from French so then it hit me, like jupe meaning skirt.  I took one French class and got a D, but I remember how to count to ten and apparently the word jupe.

So there we have it, a sort of roundabout way to get there, but we have it now.  A tabard is sorta like a surcoat and sorta like a jupon.  

I need a nap...

The Barbarian (C&C PHB, 8th Printing)

Banded together in family clans or tribal nations, barbarians are a free people ruled by strength and custom alone, subject to no state or empire. They judge others by their actions and deeds. To them deeds of valor are held in the greatest acclaim. From the 8th Printing of the Players Handbook (Coming Soon)

Art by Peter Bradley

The Tragedy of Macbeth

A new movie version of Macbeth. Now with Denzel Washington and Francis MacDormand! And really with those two, you absolutely cannot go wrong. Denzel is superb in literally everything he does and MacDormand is beyond the pale on screen. 

How the Fighter Is (well in my mind)

This is pretty much how I picture all my mounted fighters and NPCs. I love chainmail, the normal helm, kite shield, the tabards, trappings on the horse, banner. All of it. Wizards can go sit on a stump!

Erde Map on Ebay

A few of these original Erde/Aihrde maps surfaced on our discord channel.  

This product was printed in 2000. We had 2000 made I believe. They came to us wrapped in paper, unfolded. We weren't clear on what to do (didn't have a supplier of cardboard tubes yet). So we hired a company to fold them and then Davis and I hand bagged them all, and put those labels on by hand.

It sold well, we eventually sold them all but about a dozen. The last few hundred were tubed. Weirdly in about 2004 or 5 or 8 or some such, I stopped by a flea market in bum $*#^ no where Arkansas and spotted two of them on boards for about 20 apiece. I bought them both, telling my wife, "I was bringing them home!" One is framed on my office wall even now.

They are selling on ebay for 50-100 bucks!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Word of the Day -- Halberd

 This is a word that comes up frequently in our RPG conversations.  Though I don't own one, I think I would like to use a:

Halberd -- a weapon especially of the 15th and 16th centuries consisting typically of a battle-ax and pike mounted on a handle about six feet long.

A weapon that consists of an ax blade and a sharp spike mounted on the end of a staff, usually about 5–6 ft (1.5–2 m) long, a halberd was an important weapon in middle Europe in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It enabled a foot soldier to contend with an armored man riding on horseback; the spiked head kept the rider at a distance, and the ax blade could strike a heavy cleaving blow. Firearms and the declining use of armor made the halberd obsolete.


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Where the Hammer Fell

The great dragon bore him ever higher, so that the Dwarven King knew his fate. Taking a grip on the hammer of his house the king smote the dragon such a blow that it ended the beast's life, but before it fell the creature turned on the King, vomiting ash and flame upon the warrior so that his life too was ended. The force of their struggle took them deeper into the mountains to find what tomb few can say, but the hammer fell directly to earth and tore such a gap in it that the land filled with water afterward and made a lake for all time. 

Beneath its waters the hammers lies....

Friday, September 17, 2021

New Players Handbook Art!

 Joining the fray at the last minute is Joel Chaim Holtzman! Some wonderful pieces of his art have been set in the Castles & Crusades Playershandbook, 8th printing. Here is one of the two. This piece captures the heart of a magic user, be they sorcerer, wizard, illusionist or one's mind's eye sees!

Word of the Day -- Sophomoric

This is an easy one folks... You can either read the definition for:

Sophomoric -- lacking in maturity, taste, or judgment

or you can just take a look at these pictures. :-)

We used to do this at each GaryCon.  Hope to revive it this year!

Joe Goodman, Jim Ward, Steve Chenault, Tom Tullis, Tim Burns

I can't remember which con this was; there were so many.  But pictured are Jason Vey, Tyler Morrison, Steve Chenault, Davis Chenault.


The very definition of sophomoric.  I love them all.

~ Tim

Poison - the preferred trap


So I have been reading about actual real life traps found in tombs and stuff. As one might suspect, much of this is rooted in pure fantasy. However, there were traps in some tombs that archeologists have uncovered. A pit trap in a pyramid, a 'room filling with sand' trap, and a crossbow trap. The most ubiquitous trap of all though is poison. Poisons of various types were applied to treasures or in the room as paint. 

Poison, use poisons.

map with rivers of liquid mercury


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Akad! Gnoll God of Destruction

 When all was new, Akad looked upon the worlds in revulsion. None were to his liking. Angered, he set foot upon one world and clove through it to build a home. He took Itzakakal as his wife and they bore four hundred children. Akad gave them the world to plunder and make their home.

~ Castles & Crusades Gods and Legends (Coming this Fall)

Shadowgrove Forest! Like Nothing You've Seen Before

Dragonlock Shadowgrove Forest from Fat Dragon Games is back on Kickstarter! This set is beyond cool, with moving parts, traps and all manner of cool little nuance! Back it. Print it. Game! This kickstarter is just damned cool. It is live. Funded and roaring toward her first stretch goals. 

Fat Dragon began in paper terrain and several years ago they picked up on the growing 3D print market. Tom Tullis, Pres of FDG, quickly launched a 3D print line, replacing the paper. Taking all of his skill and graphic design (he used to paint museum quality WW2 planes for a variety of publications) he has created some of the most realistic looking, cool and innovative material out there. If you aren't familiar with 3D printing they have a whole youtube channel devoted to helping you out. 

So check it out. Bring terrain to your game like never before!

Here are a couple images you can see on the Kickstarter and have rockin at your game. There's more on the KS page. 

Word of the Day -- Luthier

This is a word I'm not sure I have heard before.  I was looking up a person Mary and I follow on YouTube.  She is makes whole foods, her own cleaning products, etc. etc.  We originally found her while searching out sourdough pancake recipes.  Living out in the boonies the past few years (more on that at another point, suffice it to say it's pretty remote) we've taken to making a lot of our own food -- not only for health reasons, but also for something to do.  Her channel is Bumblebee Apothecary, check it out! 

But I digress... I was looking her up just to find out more about her and her family and I saw that she had at one time been a:

Luthier -- one who makes stringed musical instruments (such as violins or guitars) (source: merriam-webster)

I was struck by how cool that is.  I just picked up the guitar again after my brother gave it to me over 2 years ago.  It is a beautifully made Mitchell six string acoustic.   The design is gorgeous, sleek curves and lines and different tones of wood.  

The word comes from French in the late 19th century, so not that old really.  Derivation is luth, meaning lute, so I guess the first person to be called a luthier was working on lutes.  

To the left is my less than stellar job of showing the front and back of the guitar that my brother gave me.  I really need to work on my Photoshop skills.

Choose your weapon wisely


Swords developed along with armor. Some were particularly useful against certain types of armor and no so much against. Again, some swords were overkill versus certain armors. below are some illustrations.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Beer.... Always and Forever

I would imagine the very first thing man invented was beer. I take that back, nature produces its own beer, we just manipulated it and made it more plentiful.

Every treasure trove should have some. Seriously.

Burial site reveals evidence of beer drinking 9,000 years ago in China

Resident Evil Afterlife (Best Scene)

This should be the goal of combat sequences in every RPG you play, movie you watch, tv show you enjoy! It is the apogee of entertainment! If I could only figure out how to do slow mo at my table! 

The Assassin: Art from the C&C PHB 8th printing

 The assassins serve both the weak and the strong, the good and the evil. They are killers who walk in the shadows as the poor man’s justice or the wealthy man’s retribution. The Castles & Crusades Players Handbook, 8th printing. 

Art by Zoe DeVos

Funcom Buys Cabinet! Conan has a New Home

 Funcom has bought Cabinet. Their purchase includes all the Conan properties (as well as all the Robert E. Howard properties). The IPs in question were made part of the Funcom's Hero Signatures which specializes in tv/entertainment. What this essentially does is injects alot of liquidity into the Conan budget. Maybe we'll get a new, better movie out of all this.

Read the full press release.

Beyond the Waves

Beyond the tumultuous waves and rocks like razors lies the land of Baratine Coast. A wild and inhospitable land where the ruins of the old world like undisturbed. ~ The Codex of Aihrde

A Fighter's Grill

Fighters need food.  Not just a bite, but a hearty meal.  Nothing says hearty like this grill full of food...

I had grilled some bell and poblano peppers and removed those for steaming off the skins before I remembered to take a picture.  But what you have here are onions caramelizing in a cast iron skillet, some purple potatoes, and some buns staying warm for the burgers.  

I usually eat turkey burgers (blasphemy, I know, Steve, but what can I say?) but these were fun to try as it is a combination of brisket, chuck, and short rib I found.  After watching a couple videos from chef J. Kenzie Lopez-Alt I decided to make them like he does:  

Loosely form the patty, don't bunch it together hard and don't salt it until you are putting it on the grill.  Most important, form it into a type of disc, where the middle is thinner than the outside.  That helps with an even cook and gets rid of the puffy middle burgers can sometimes take on.  Oh, and make the burger slightly bigger than the bun you are going to use.  In this case, they are store bought potato buns, but if you have time, make some sourdough buns.  Last time Mac was up, we made some killer buns for the pork shoulder bbq  (tip: eat homemade buns day of or freeze).

The onions are vidalia, thinly sliced with a touch of salt and baking soda.  Again, no finished pic on them but there were damned good.

The purple potatoes were good, a little less starchy than others and I did start them in the microwave for 3 mins prior to putting on the grill.  

Bonus: The next morning the leftover potatoes and onions made a killer hash to go along with scrambled eggs, which will be in another post down the line.  Mac and I each made our version of perfect scrambled eggs one morning; I need to see if I can find a side by side pic somewhere buried in a phone.

All in all a meal fit for a Fighter!

~ Tim

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Movie Review - Dark Tower


Being  a fan  of fantasy, action, adventure, dimension travel,  mayhem, destruction, and yadda yadda. I figured Dark Tower would be right up my alley. I had not heard of the movie until I came across some snippets on tiktok. Wow Mathew's character appeared quite the trouble maker. Then there was some gun action. Looked great.

I fell asleep. Twice. I tried two times to watch and enjoy the movie but never got beyond the scene where Mathew's character told the two face people to kill one another. 

So yeah. I fell asleep twice. Not saying its a bad movie. Maybe I should start watching movies at 3pm instead of 7pm. Could be a reflection of my age. Who knows? 

THE DARK TOWER - Extended Preview - YouTube

Word of the Day -- Moat

Today we "dive" into another part of a castle (clever, eh?  my wife didn't think so either), this time, the:

Moat -- a deep and wide trench around the rampart of a fortified place (such as a castle) that is usually filled with water

I just did a quick look up and though it sounds just like mote (a speck of something), it does not have the same derivation.  Our moat comes from 15th century Middle English mote  while mote comes from 12th century Middle English mot.  Confused yet?  Me, too.  But for sure we know what a moat looks like...


Photo by Kees Streefkerk on Unsplash 

How often do you use a moat in your game? 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Brilliant - the five room dungeon

 This is a must read article. Seriously its like 1000 words and brilliant.

The five room Dungeon

Word of the Day -- Jocund

 This word should make you smile.  And laugh.  If not, then you are not 

Jocund -- marked by or suggestive of high spirits and lively mirthfulness

Don't let the etymology of jocund play tricks on you. The word comes from jucundus, a Latin word meaning "agreeable" or "delightful," and ultimately from the Latin verb juvare, meaning "to help." But jucundus looks and sounds a bit like jocus, the Latin word for "joke." These two roots took a lively romp through many centuries together and along the way the lighthearted jocus influenced the spelling and meaning of jucundus, an interaction that eventually resulted in our modern English word jocund in the 14th century. ~ Merriam Webster

 Fact of the matter is that this word is just awesome.  I love the look and sound of it.  Everyone needs some jocundity some times...

How big are wolves - pretty freaking big

So a Canadian timber wolf, snout to butt, can up to seven feet long, stand three feet at the shoulder and weigh around 150 pounds. The largest actually recorded was a 175 pounds. Average sized wolves are more common though. 

A Blast from the Heavy Metal Past


The Rogue C&C 8th Printing

Their names vary: thieves, rapscallions, cut-purses, footpads, confidence men, fences, burglars sharpers, pick-pockets or highwaymen. Their methods vary as widely as their names, but their goals and the theme of their lives are constant.....from the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook, 8th printing.

Art by Zoe DeVos

Winged Hussars

The Winged Hussars! The Poles win again! Some of the coolest looking soldiery of the medieval world...or maybe Renaissance.

Helmets, a visual history

 So came across a lot of these types of visual histories. We used to do them in  archeology all the time.

How you use this  otherwise pointless knowledge is up to you. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Word of the Day - Milieu


"Milieu" is best known as a popular "High Gygaxian" term that most people take to mean "campaign setting," or world. It's more than that, however. lists the meaning as, "surroundings, especially of a social or cultural nature." It basically means one's social environment, or everything that goes into one's culture. 

So there you have it. When Gary talks about a "milieu," it's a lot more than just lists of countries and kingdoms with population figures and government types. It's the languages those people speak, the way the interact with their gods and the universe, their customs and beliefs, and what every single blade of grass means to them when they roll out of bed every morning. Consider that next time you set out to build a world!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Siting Over Missouri

According to the Mutual UFO Network a Missouri couple reported seeing a metalic disc over their pastures last week. It moved from left to right, hovered and then after a five minute or so stay, it left the area. Read more!

To Guard Against Dragons

The dwarves set their homes deep in the mountains, in valleys sheer and steep so no dragon or armed host could come at them easily. And their hid their doors with clever artifices, such that they were all but lost to the world.

Word of the Day -- Reprobate

This was a word that was often hurled around in my family, brother to brother, mother to son, brother to father, etc. etc... Not in the strictest meaning of it, mind you, we were joking.  I think.  I hope.  Not sure anymore, might have to call my brother, that:

Reprobate -- a morally corrupt or depraved person

Reprobate comes from the Latin reprobare, meaning "to disapprove" or "to condemn." It came about in the late 16th century.  It's also a pretty good word to call your brother when he once again takes your book without asking.

Also, these guys...



It knew not where it came from nor where it was going. But it stopped for a drink at the One Stop in Bergman. It lamented that there was no map of the place, places, and placed.

Ahh, but the Mapmaker has an answer to every question. It is widely known he is as incorrect as often as he is correct. 

its coming down the pike, 5x5...

Thursday, September 09, 2021

RPG Terrain on Kickstarter (Don't miss)

 For all those who love RPGs and game table terrain, be sure to sign up for Fat Dragon Games' latest Kickstarter and be part of its opening day. I've seen behind the curtain a bit, and Holy Carolina, this one is beyond cool! Click the Image!

Taking Stock

Warrior Stock 

When there is little time for a meal, Dwarven Warriors can "stock" up on this nutritious drink or use it as a base for any soup.

Recipe -- In a large stockpot, over an open fire or on a stove top if you have one, start browing:

  • 1 quartered onion (skin on is fine)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 bulb of garlic (sliced horizontally)
  • 1 knob of ginger (peeled and rough chopped)
  • chicken carcass

Once everything has had a chance to brown some, add at least 20 cups of water.  Then add:

  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 11 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 stalk of fresh rosemary

Bring to a boil, skim off the top if you want a clearer stock, but who has time for that?  You're a warrior!  

Having said that, you will want to simmer it for about 6-8 hours.  Then run it through a fine mesh strainer or preferably a chinois into containers and let cool.  Additionally if you want to skim the fat after cooled you can, but for those long adventures, the fat might be needed. ~ Tim

Word of the Day -- Embouchure

The reason I chose this today?  Because I played trumpet growing up, even in the marching band for a few years.  My music teacher would always hound me about my...

Embouchure -- the position and use of the lips, tongue, and teeth in playing a wind instrument
It's pronounced ˌäm-bü-ˈshu̇r which is still a little hard to understand, so if you want to hear it pronounced, you can go here.
My trumpet idol...


Laws, Laws, Laws and more Laws


For those who know me, you must know how much i dislike laws and rules. I dispense with gaming rules and make others up on the fly at a whim's notice. 

I've never found the dictum that there are 'laws of physics' as all-encompassing to be quite convincing. neither have these folks. Touche. 

A team of astrophysicists based in Australia and England has uncovered evidence that the laws of physics are different in different parts of the universe. The report describes how one of the supposed fundamental constants of Nature appears not to be constant after all. Instead, this 'magic number' known as the fine-structure constant -- 'alpha' for short -- appears to vary throughout the universe.



Dwarven Warrior

Fighters come from every geographic region and occupy all social strata. They are born with a strength of will and spirit that leads them to seek the field of battle. From the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook, 8th printing. Coming Soon. Art by Peter Bradley.

Dracul's Courtyard

 I'm very certain that Castle Bran has undergone countless remodels since the 1400s, but I surely do like to think that these very cobbles bore the feet of the Impaler, who would later, and probably still does, haunt the darkened allies of our modern world, seeking the plunder of a body's wealth.

Astounding Video Game Visuals

 I stumbled on this gem while looking at zombie game play. What caught my eye immediately were the little figures attempting their escape. They just looked haunting. This game has such amazing visuals that it held me for quite awhile. This is a rich vein of inspiration right here! 

I think I'm going to have to play this one...

This second one was just as cool, different setting. Put a whole new spin on Another Brick in the Wall for me... "Hey teachers! Leave those kids alone..."

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Trap Trap Trap

" In Mexico, the Red Queen of Palenque was a ruler of the sanguine Maya around 650 AD. The altars in two vast pyramidal temples were protected by false floors and death pits, but these were just teasers - for inside the leader’s sarcophagi her bones - and all of the pearl and jade treasures - had been painted red with cinnabar, a deadly neurotoxin."




Stab me in the Eyes

 You know, looking at that, I imagine the rest of the armor is just as tight fitting. 

So, the only way to die is by being stabbed in the eyes.... repeatedly.

Not so sure I like that. 

Word of the Day -- Ceviche

Today we bring you a word for one of my favorite dishes I've ever had...

Ceviche -- a dish made of raw fish marinated in lime or lemon juice often with oil, onions, peppers, and seasonings and sometimes served as a snack or appetizer

It was around 1993 and I was in New York to watch a few days of the US Open.  I was there with a friend of mine, John.  He was an inspiration to me, especially with teaching me about carpentry, food, and booze.  He was one of those free spirits who spent a lifetime trying new things, new jobs, new places to live.  He told me we had to try this place in Manhattan.  

We spent an hour getting there from Queens, but when we got there, it was a food experience like none other.  The place is gone now, but it was a really cool and interesting, innovative place, mixing traditional Peruvian ceviche with fusions from all over the world.  

We ate and drank until I passed out on subway home.  

If you've not tried it, you may think that the description above sounds a bit odd.  Well, it is a bit odd, but it's one of the best damned things I've ever eaten.  You should give it a go...