Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Xmas & all the various holidays

Seems to be a new tradition that December runs over me, repeatedly, like a herd of reindeer on meth.

What a month.

So please excuse the pathetic trickle of updates.

First my computer died, then I fixed it.. or thought I did, but was hardly working, then it flat-out died, so I've been unable to do much of anything, though a new computer is on it's way!  So sometime before the new year I'll have things up and running again and January should see a steady march of projects and ramblings.

I'm visiting family for the holiday and hope everyone out there is doing similar, or enjoying it all in other ways.

In theme for the holidays enjoy the snowman the mice family are building!




Happy Xmas All

Friday, December 6, 2013

Top 10 Magic Items of the Movies

The next installment of the Top 10 is Magic Items.  In the last two lists I looked at Magic Users: that's great for them, but what about the rest of us shmucks who don't have a magic attuned bone in our bodies?

Luckily for us, the movies present us with the magical equivalent of Q's latest gadgets.

So dig into the bag of holding and see what you pull out!  Time for:

First up: define our terms.

A magic item is an artifact or item, some physical object that someone can use to do something magical.
Not science: a garage door opener is an item you hold in your hand that appears to levitate a door, but it isn't magic.  I'm placing value based on amount and versatility of the power and effect the item would give someone, ideally: anyone. Some magic items only work for one specific person, and that's a pretty lousy item, assuming (which is likely) you are not that person.  Remember the Sword in the Stone? Great if you're the intended special dude but it's just a tease for anyone else...

Joe: "What do you have there?"
Bill: "A magic sword."
Joe: "Cool!  What's it do?"
Bill: "Not sure.  I think it's supposed to make me king, or give me power, or something."
Joe: "You haven't tried it?"
Bill: "No, I can't get it out of it's packaging."
Joe: "Oh, one of those plastic clam-shells? I hate those, I can never get it open. You tried biting it?"
Bill: "No, I mean it's stuck in this rock unless you're the right person."
Joe: "Dude... bummer... so it's just like a big rock on a stick"

So, yeah: Sword in the Stone isn't making the list, which I had reminded to me isn't the same as Excalibur: correct, but the sword lobbed by the watery tart has only one user too, and if only one person can use an item that's going to weigh against it in my assessment.

Another consideration with these things: The Fine Print: what are the downsides to using the item?
Also, the items have to be from a movie I have seen, or I can't rate it.  So on we go!

#10: The Glaive

I am pretty sure this was magic.. was it ever explained?  A fantasy medieval planet overlorded by a giant alien in a giant alien spaceship-become-dark castle. But this guy never cut his fingers off catching that thing so I have to think it's magic.  Ninja magic laser beam throwing staroomerang.  I was 14 when I saw Krull and wanted this thing soooo bad.  Good thing I didn't get it or no car tires in the neighborhood would have been safe. It's more flash than function though, I mean really... short of puncturing tires what are you going to do with this if the alien overlord never shows up to dominate your planet?

#9: The Sampo

From the tales of the Kalevala to the screen of MST3K via Soviet film making, brings us The Sampo.
The Day the Earth Froze (see full video at the end) remains one of my favorite MST3K episodes.  A tale of how Mel Brooks and C.Everett Koop conspired to hoard the means of production for their own personal selfish gain and plunge the rest of the world into eternal winter.  Now I see why it was interesting to the Soviet film industry, that's some good propaganda. The Sampo is an item, the delicate nature of which appears to require repeated rythmic hammer blows to create, and then you're left with an item which will make a never ending supply of grain, salt & gold. I am unclear if there is just one 'ON' switch and you're stuck with 30 metric tons of salt in addition to the gold you were after.  Still, could solve the world's hunger problems (who's doesn't love salty bread?) if you can keep it out of the hands of greedy witches. But don't take my word for it, watch the movie below!

#8: Brass Teapot

From the film of the same name, a quirky take on an old standard: the item that will make you rich.
This one is refreshing for a questionably cursed item in that it makes no secrets about it's harmful side effect, it's right there in the operating instructions: to make it work, it needs pain.  Have the teapot & stub your toe? Pop! it makes money.  Break your arm?  Pop-pop! Even more money! In a race between humanity's greed and capacity to inflict harm, this is a match made in heaven.. or someplace else.

But I have to think they just were not thinking creatively enough. Granted they had some creative ideas:
So I get to 'punish' you and we get free magic money? Thank you Teapot.

But why not just take the teapot where there is unchecked suffering already and just let the teapot crank out the money?  Then use the money to help fix those problems. Oh! Haha Teapot, got you! Of course, doesn't mean you have to tell your female companion about that, seeing how she's already in that black outfit and all.

#7: The One Ring

The One Ring: not #1. And for good reason. This might be the highest prized item for Sauron, but the rest of us lose a lot more than we gain.  Extended life is great, I wouldn't mind being a spry one hundred and eleventy year old someday. And the invisibility is a nice touch no doubt about it.  But the whole corrupting you into a wraith if you don't get rid of it, and the high addiction factor brings it down quite a bit.  So FDA warning label reads: may bring on wraithdom.  If it could be mass produced it'd probably be marketed as a dietary aid.  The only reason it isn't lower on the list is you could still do a lot with it, it's got huge historical significance, and the competition isn't very fierce if you're not greedy or have an unquenchable desire for salt.

#6: Magic Mirror

This one is much more valuable within-story than it would be for us.  We do have Google afterall, so a lot of this is covered already.  But this is like NSA level Google. You get to know everything, even what people are thinking.  Get creative, you could get some good uses out of that.  Probably not enough to justify a multi-trillion budget and losing what little trust and confidence might still remain of your people.. or you could just use it to ask if you're still pretty enough.  Your call.

#5: Dagger of Time

Time Travel is always high on people's wish list.  This one is pretty limited, but does seem to help keep you alive, so that's a bonus.  Makes a Prince of Persia a more impressive fighter than a Jedi Knight, so there has to be something to it.  And the blade is so small compared to a light saber. Guess size doesn't matter.  Not if you can control time.

#4: Tablet of Ahkmenrah

Make every night a Night at the Museum: and bring it out into the world.  When I was a kid I was sure my toys came alive at night and played, moved around.  A lot of kids do.  Guess our toys don't like us much since they won't do this when we're awake.  Well screw them, use this tablet to make them and every other inanimate object you want come to life and do what you want!  I am the puppet master! Oh, wrong movie. But what untapped potential. Disaster relief? Make animated statues go in and rescue people. Hostage negotiations? An army of plastic ants ought to do the trick. Plus I want to see the Statue of Liberty wrestle the Eiffel Tower! Pay Per View! And if things ever get really bad, just animate the world's mannequins and unleash your army and take over the world until you set things straight.

#3: Tesla's Machine from Prestige

I know, I know... Tesla: science.  But come on, this is clearly more magic than science.
Spoiler Alert: Ready?  If not, skip to the next or go down and watch the Sampo movie.

OK: it's not a transporter, it's a copy machine.

This is one of David Bowie's cooler ideas.  I mean Tesla's idea. Not the band Tesla, goodgod not the band.
Bowie makes this awesome magic machine and it's just wasted.
Word to the wise Tesla: don't trust Gollum around your magic items!

This thing has such amazing untapped potential.  Think about what you could do if you could copy anything. Not only is it a licence to print money, but that's got limited benefit with inflation, but think of all the good you could do!  78 people on the waiting list for a heart but you only have 1 donated?  Not anymore! Schools need computers or smart phones? Crank em out and no need to force Chinese workers to live in the factory dreaming of a suicide retirement.

Now if it would just play the B-side of Low while turned on this would really be a magical device.

#2: The Horn Resounding

It's not going to make you rich, and probably won't save the world (though it might).  But the Horn Resounding can open up a way to travel to the realm of the Gods.  I assume it could also travel to other destinations? Maybe it depends on what note you blow. Inter-dimensional travel?  Oh I can't resist that.  Every generation has wondered what if anything is beyond death, and with this magic item you get to go and find out, without having to die! I'm not sure what it says that every Viking on the ship was unable to blow the horn, but they all transported to a magic realm when the only woman on board saddled up to blow the big horn... yeah, maybe this is like one of those Roreshak tests.

It's an awesome magic item.  Much better than the other 'magic item' in Erik the Viking...

Erik's 'invisibility cloak' which was actually more of a rag on his head than a cloak, and also more of a does-not-turn-you-invisible-rag, instead encourages you to dance around and make a fool out of yourself. 

#1: The Map

With this map you have everything you need to set out on your career as a Time Bandit

Speaking as someone who has been well-bitten by the travel bug, this would be Awesome. 
A map that gives you all the secret backdoors to the shoddily-made universe.  

Travel through time!  Future or Past, change events, explore, learn, or as one bandit put it "get stinking filthy rich". So much to know! I wants it. Is this actually a magic item?  Hmmm... not certain.  Probably?  But the doors are magic and this is the key to understanding the doors, so it's all wrapped up in the same magic item concept.  Oh, and did I mention you not only get to travel through time but you get to travel to other versions of reality.. lands of myths and legends! I was sold already, but no question now. 

Downside: The Devil is after you for the map.  OK, that's bad, but still totally worth it. 


So that's my list, what's yours?
Agree with me?  Disagree?  Have other items in mind? 

For your Friday enjoyment.. get yourself a Sampo!

MST3K Says: 

"If you know what a Sampo is, write it on a piece of paper, 
throw it away and try not to think about it.
You'll be glad you did."

Music to fax yourself by:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On the Nature of Natural Magic

So I've been miserable sick for going on 48 hours, so don't have a lot of minis progress to show you.

Hopefully that state won't last too long.  We'll see.

But I have noticed that the fever-addled brain is a very creative and productive brain.
Maybe it is making up for the fact that your body refuses to do anything but drain & ache.
But I think it may more likely be that this sick-misery-fever-head pounding is similar to what shamanic traditions have always understood: bring the body close to death & the brain in an altered state and you get some fun results. So you'll have to tell me if this idea I'll present is fun stuff or if it's the kind of odd weirdness that makes sense in a dream and nonsense when you wake up.  Speaking of, my illness-enhanced dream last night was awesome.. I was searching on hands & knees in a backyard garden and found a trail of snail-sized sauropods, looking like micro brontosaurs with spiky snail shells on their back, and their flesh was like that of slugs & snails.  Too cool.  Back on track..

I've mentioned I like to write game rules, and I've been working on rules for skirmish games that should work in any genre and I've been working on rules for 15mm element based unit warfare.  I hoped to come up with a magic system that would work in both, even though they use a different mechanic.  I think I have.

The Compass of Magic

So this is for the basic Magic System for miniatures combat.  It is aiming to be Beer & Pretzel with Interesting Options: a balance between simple & not overpowered and characterful.

I play tested a fantasy skirmish game recently which I liked a lot.  But the magic system was very simple. Fine for what it is, but I want something with more options.  However, something like the magic in Warhammer is too powerful and too much variety for the more simple games I want to make.  Plus there is no way it could work in a skirmish game, considering the power output of some spells. So I want balance but I also want something with flavor.

There will be other magic traditions added later, but to start with I will focus just on Natural Magic, which would be the basic magic and the other magic traditions as options.

Natural Magic dates back to the oldest shamanic roots of the prehistoric times. Sometimes this is called 'elemental magic' of the four elements, but this is an over-simplification as you will see.

Natural Magic is divided into 10 aspects of nature: 4 Major Aspects and 6 Minor Aspects, though in truth none are more powerful than another, but the Major Aspects pull the focus of those who use magic so that they are unable to stray far from the Major Aspect of Magic which guides them.

The Major Aspects of Magic are associated with the four cardinal directions:

Air: North
Fire: East
Earth: South
Water: West

Between Air and Fire there is Sand Magic
Between Fire and Earth there is Lava Magic
Between Earth and Water there is Mud Magic
Between Water and Air there is Ice Magic

Across the four polar opposites there are also adjacent intersectional magics:

At the intersection of Air and Earth there is Lightning Magic
At the intersection of Fire and Water there is Steam Magic

The intersectional magics while powerful can be extremely difficult and dangerous for the wielder.

There are many paths to walk for those who follow magic. Generally speaking, wielders of magic come in three power tiers. Some focus in one aspect of magic, others seek a wider breadth of knowledge.

In game terms, you can think of this as a level 1, 2 or 3 level magic caster.

Every magic caster of Natural Magic is centered in one of the ten Aspects of Magic.

A level 1 caster has but one option:
Initiate of (Aspect) : The Caster has 1 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect.

A level 2 caster has a few options:

Adept of (Aspect): The caster has 1 level 2 spell in their chosen aspect.
Scholar of (Aspect): The caster has 2 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect.
Journeyman of (Aspect and Aspect): The caster has 1 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect and 1 adjacent aspect.

A level 3 caster has many options:

Summoner of (Aspect)*: The caster has 1 level 3 spell of their chosen aspect.
* The exception is a level 3 caster of Steam is called an Artificer.
Grande Scholar of (Aspect): The caster has 1 level 2 and 1 level 1 spell in their chosen aspect.
Grande Adept of (Aspect): The caster has 3 level 1 spells in the chosen aspect
Grande Transmuter of (Aspect and Aspect): The caster has 2 level 1 spells in their chosen aspect and 1 level 1 spell in an adjacent aspect.
Rogue Adept of (Aspect, Aspect and Aspect): The caster has 3 level 1 spells in three different but adjacent aspects.

When given titles, the first Aspect listed will always be the primary chosen aspect which if the caster is more powerful in one aspect than another, it will be in their primary aspect.

It must be noted that if choosing the path of the Rogue Adept the chosen Aspects must be adjacent Aspects but not include more than One Major Aspect, for the Cardinal Aspects are too diametrically opposed to be mastered by a mortal.


A level 1 caster might be an Initiate of Fire or an Initiate of Ice

A level 2 caster might be an Adept of Air or a Scholar of Lava, or a Journeyman of Mud and Water.

A level 3 caster might be a Summoner of Water, or a Summoner of Lightning .. or
A level 3 caster might be a Grande Scholar of Ice .. or
A level 3 caster might be a Grande Adept of Fire ...or
A level 3 caster might be a Grande Transmuter of Steam and Fire ...or
A level 3 caster might be a Rogue Adept of Fire, Sand and Lava or Rogue Adept of Air, Lightning and Sand
but he could not be a Rogue Adept of Earth, Mud and Water because this includes two Major Aspects.


As you can see, a level 1 caster will always have 1 spell, a level 2 may have 2 level 1 spells or only 1 of a higher level, and a level 3 caster may have 3 (level 1), 2 (a level 2 & level1) or 1 (level 3)spell.


I have started compiling a spell list for each aspect.

Each Aspect will have 3 level 1 spells, 1 level 2 spell and 1 level 3 spell.  
The level 3 spell is always a summoning of an elemental, except in the case of Steam, which is a repair ability for a construct which the caster starts the game with. 

Examples of Spells: 


L1. Gust: target is slowed by 2” and has missile fire ranges halved.
L1. Guiding wind: target friendly may re-roll failed missile fire
L1. Protecting Breeze: Any successful missile hit against the caster must be re-rolled.

L2. Tornado: target is moved d6” in random direction.

L3. Summon Air Elemental
When the Elemental is not summoned the Summoner has +1 to all stats and a bonus to dispell


L1. Flametongue: Target's melee weapon damage is increased by 2.
L1. Gout of Flame: 6” range: missile attack +2
L1. Firestrike: 12” range: missle attack +1

L2. Rain of Fire: target friendly missile fire does double damage.

L3. Summon Elemental
When the Elemental is not summoned the Summoner has +1 to all stats and a bonus to dispell 

What do you think? 
Have any ideas for spells?  
I'd love to hear them.  I have almost 2/3 of the list full, but I may not keep them all. 

There will also be a counter-spell ability, which will have modifiers for level and for direct opposite caster aspects: casters of Fire versus Water have an easier time canceling each other's power than say, a caster of Ice versus Water. 

See the long odd stuff you get when all I can physically manage is typing instead of painting?

And as long as we're talking about the elements... like Earth, Wind & Fire, this is too fun to pass up...


Friday, November 29, 2013

Brokentooth's Guide to Goblin Greatness: Cruise On Your Wyvern

You knows, as much as we like to talk about war... fightin' and killin' isn't the only good thing in life, sure it's one of the best things I'd never say it twernt, but there is more to life, and when you're the king o' the tribe it's good to enjoy all the perks of the crown!  And one o' the best perks is impressing the ladies! 

Some of the goblin youth started snickering and cackling at this...

Oh fine, you laugh now, but when you have your eye on a sharp toothed lass and she fergets all about you because she sees a goblin ride by on a fierce black wolf, then yell regret laughing at me! 

Some of them perked up at this and shut their yaps.

Uh-huh, that's what I thought.  Already happened to some a you hasn't it?  You sloggin through the muckengunk, splattered and foul and some fancy gob is gettin all the attention accounta his wolf or thundering chariot.  Well just imagine how much the pretty red eyes will widen up if you swooped down on a green beauty like Spitter!  A wyvern is a dangerous monster of war, but don't forget all the other advantages a sweet ride can bring ya!  Why once I buzzed low over an elven village and damned if I didn't hear a whole mess of elf ladies shriek and squeel! Yeah that's right, I'm sure their hearts fluttered wondering what dashing young goblin could be in the saddle.  So don't you forget it...

Brokentooth's speech drifted off at this point, his eyes focused on a memory hovering about a foot before his face.  He didn't even notice that one of the young goblins made off with his lunch.


Brokentooth the Goblin King on his Wyvern, Spitter is finished.

This is one very big mini, and try as I might, I couldn't find a way to photo it without take a whole lot of photos, so hope you won't mind the pixel flood gates being opened... 

Click on any for a close up

Here we go:


So the first mini for the Brokentooth Tribe Goblin Army is finished.

Still to go: 300+ goblins & others ;)

More Mayhem to Follow...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Late Cretateous Mega Vozhik Wishes You a Happy Dinovember Thanksgiving

If you are anything like the Greater Vozhik, the largest mammalian predator of the late Cretaceous period, a distant ancestor of the hedgehog which reached a height and length of nearly 10 meters, you should have no problem enjoying the bounty of the land and settling in for a nice Thanksgiving Feast.

Happy Dinovember Thanksgiving from the Greater Vohzik!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful for the Very Big Bird

Gandalf was very thankful for a very big bird, but not a turkey, the great eagle Gwaihir... although I wouldn't put it past Bombur to try to eat him, and luckily I don't think The Shire celebrated Thanksgiving.

I saved my favorite of the recent Mithril Miniatures, Lord of the Rings large minis & scenes for last:

Gandalf & Gwaihir:

I really enjoyed painting this one. 
Mithril has such graceful lines to their sculpts, and this one is just beautiful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mithril Miniatures: Sanctuary at the Bombadil Residence

Another of the more rare Mithril Miniatures scenes:

Frodo & Sam introduced to Goldberry by Tom Bombadil in his home.

I went for a classic Tomb Bombadil, for colors (though decided when he labels his own boots 'yellow' that he more than likely means a yellowish leather.. I can't imagine yellow felt being very practical in undomesticated forest even for an anthropomorphic personification spirit), and decided that the colors of the home should reflect Goldberry's preference for water lilies.

Hey! Come derry dol! Hop along, my hearties!
Hobbits! Ponies all! We are fond of parties.
Now let the fun begin! Let us sing together!

Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,
Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,

Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,
Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water:
Old Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool! Fair River-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves' laughter!

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.

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