This past weekend, I had the pleasure of contributing to a web-feature on Horror Delve titled Ultimate Fantasy Creature List, sort of a companion to last year’s Ultimate Fantasy Weapons List.

For ‘Creature’ I tackled the draugr, providing both a very brief overview of the wight in question and a bit of artwork as well. I thought you might like a better look at the illustration… Not my best work, but fun nonetheless.



Happy Birthday, Frank Frazetta


February 9, 1928 — May 10, 2010

If I were to make a list of my Top 5 Influences, there is zero doubt that Frank Frazetta would be one of the first names to be included. I bought books, magazines, and albums based solely on his artwork, content be damned. His illustrations covered my walls, fired my imagination, and haunted my dreams.

Frank painted with a primal spirit and feral sexuality that was infectious. No artist had the impact on me that Frank Frazetta had. He created whole worlds with a brushstroke…



Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian


At long last, the core rulebook for Robert E Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of by Modiphius has see the light of day, at least in pdf form. In addition, another book, Conan: Jeweled Thrones of the Earth, has been released alongside it.

As a backer, this is exciting news. We’ve been poring over chapter releases for months, with incomplete art and typographical errors. It’s nice to see it in its completed glory, even as a collection of pixels on a computer monitor.

Some of the art is uneven and I sort of wish they’d have just buried Tim Truman in money for all the interior illustrations. His work really pops in this.

The core book is strong, with in depth character creation mechanics and a rich and erudite examination of the cultures and homelands that make up Howard’s Hyborian Age.


Jeweled Thrones is an adventure book that most gamers will find indispensable. They are compiled chiefly of thinly-veiled pastiches of actual Conan adventures which maintains the flavor if not the overt originality. I think this is a good move on Modiphus’ part. By making it hew as close to Two Gun as possible you establish the world as intended and train those less versed in Howard’s words.

Skilled Gamemasters will be able to take the reins from there.

The core book is priced at $24.99 with the adventure book coming in at only $10.99. I know some people balk at prices like these for pdfs, but believe me, this is money well spent.


While not originally a fan of the 2d20 system, it’s grown on me and I look forward to bringing the game to our Club.

I’m also excited to see the rest of the kickstarter material to be unveiled in the months ahead. There is a wealth of source books on the way, as well as dice, tiles, maps, and more.

It’s been a long time coming, but the wait is mostly over. The time of Conan is at hand.

Robert E Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of and Jeweled Thrones of the Earth can be purchased through DriveThruRpg


brentJanuary 24th, 2015, two years ago today, was the last game session the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club shared with one of our oldest and dearest friends — Brent Smith.

We were running two campaigns at the time. In the early session Brent played a human rogue named Artis and in the late game he played a human wizard by the name of Delarius (a play on words, by combining delirious and hilarious).

On that particular evening, a Saturday, Brent’s son Kasey had come along to watch us play. It was the boy’s 12th birthday and I remember him being excited to start playing with us soon. My own son was already a part of that early session and Connor and Kasey were becoming fast friends.

It was a thrilling game, with tensions mounting as the party found their way into the ancient ruins beneath the city of Crowhaven, discovering the insidious machinations of a demonspawn wearing the face of a nobleman’s son.


Brent and I took our respective children home and returned for the ‘adult’ game. It was an amazing night, fraught with epic conflicts and a dangerous delve into the catacombs beneath the Lighthouse Stable. There were traps aplenty, orc marauders, and nasty critters from the Underdark…

After the late game, we stood outside on the sidewalk, rehashing the night’s high points, discussing each others plans for their characters in both campaigns, and the inclusion of the young ones. Brent and I also talked about my plan to renovate Connor’s bedroom and he was eager to lend a hand.

As the night came to a close, I hugged my friend and told him I loved him for the last time.

A few days later, Brent had a bad reaction to changed medication and died in his sleep. He was only 48 years old.

I feel the weight of his passing every day. Brent and I had been friends for 43 years. We all miss him terribly.

Our sons now play their own weekly D&D game, building the kind of lifelong friendship that we had shared. I think Brent would appreciate that. I know I sure do.

I see a lot of Brent in Kasey, now turned 14. It tempers the pain of his passing somewhat.

Each time the Club gathers, we feel his presence still with us. He and the characters he played are still talked about. Though Brent has sailed on to Valinor, his mark upon each and every one of us remains.


These are the Rules of Jousting, written by King Alfonso XI of Castile and presented to the Order of the Band in 1330.


First Rule

Firstly, we declare that the knights who must joust should run four courses, and no more. And if in these four courses one knight should hit the other, splintering his lance, and the knight upon whom that lance splintered did not break his own lance by striking his opponent, he shall be vanquished, for he did not break his lance.

Second Rule

And furthermore, we declare that, if one knight splinters two lances and the other only one, the winner shall be the knight who breaks the two lances. But if the knight who only splintered one lance knocks off his opponent’s helm with the same blow, a tie shall be declared between him and the knight who splintered the two lances.

Third Rule

And furthermore, if a knight shatters two lances by striking his opponent, and the knight who has been struck knocks him off his horse, even though he did not splinter his lance, a tie shall be declared between him and the knight who splintered the two lanes.


Fourth Rule

Furthermore, if one knight knocks down both his opponent and his horse, and the other knocks down the knight but not his horse, we declare that the knight whose horse fell with him shall be the winner, because the fault in this case was the horse’s and not the rider’s. And in the case of the knight who fell but whose horse did not, the fault rests with the knight and not with the horse.

Fifth Rule

Furthermore, we declare that lance staves shall not be judged properly broken if they are broken crosswise, but only if they break after striking with the point.

Sixth Rule

Furthermore, we declare that if in these four courses each knight splinters two staves, or one each, or they each strike in the same place, a tie will be declared between these two. And if in these four courses they never manage to hit each other at all, let the judgement be that they jousted poorly.


Seventh Rule

Furthermore, we declare that if any knight should drop his lance whilst charging, without ever coming to blows, his opponent should raise his lance and not strike him, for it would be unchivalrous to strike an opponent who had no lance.

Eighth Rule

And in order to judge these affairs, we declare that there should be four judges in place: two assigned to one team, and another two assigned to the other team, so that they can ensure that the knights who have jousted the best are declared the winners.

Godspeed, @Gamerstable

It is the end of an era. After 300 episodes, today is Lastday. Carousel begins. Gamerstable, in its weekly incarnation, breathes its last.


As a farewell salute I open the floor to Gamerstable’s own, Shannon, who will share with us her Last Writes.


Last Meal: Tacos and pizza and polish sausage and sauerkraut, and like an absurd amount of all it. And I definitely need some ice cream to top it all off.

Last Book: This one is tough, if it’s just a single book I would say Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, I try to read this at least once every other year, if not every year as October rolls in. If I can swing a whole series, I don’t think anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear the answer is Harry Potter, but I can’t pick just one of the Harry Potter books.

Last Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this has been a long time comfort movie and never fails to make me laugh.

Last Song: Meet Me Where You’re Going by Cloud Cult with Brandon (who goes by Babs on the show, since we already had a Brandon) singing along in my ear.

First person you’d like to meet on the other side: First time meeting or meet meaning see again? I’ve lost several people who mean a lot to me, and obviously I would be happiest to see them again. If it’s meeting for the first time, I would love to pick the brain of the aforementioned Ray Bradbury. He was an inspiration of mine for a long time.

And so, the Best Damn RPG Podcast on the Internet shutters its doors. My Tuesdays will be poorer for it. But Lastday offers at least the hope of Renewal. Here’s to the Gamerstable crew showing up now and then in some fashion…

You can listen to Gamerstable’s 300th and Final Episode HERE

The Shadow of the Past

Four years ago today, on the 5th of January in 2013, a group of friends came together for a game of Dungeons & Dragons. This was no ordinary gathering. These now balding and graying men had once, years before, slung dice together as teenagers and young adults, but those days were now a part of a shadowy past.

Months previous, I had posted on facebook that getting your old D&D mates together for a game was the modern equivalent of getting the band back together. Shaun thought it was a great idea and we discussed making that innocuous comment a reality.

We set out contacting as many as the ‘old gang’ as we could, inviting them to attend a reunion game for old time’s sake. Shaun made arrangements for us to use Ali-Caters in Marion and there we met — Mike Duncan, Brent Smith, Joe Strunk, Doug Gentry, Shaun Keenan, Steve Congdon, and myself — seven grizzled tabletop warriors, returning to the fray once more.


It was supposed to be a one-time reunion, but it has turned into a monthly game now for four years running. It’s been amazing reconnecting with these gentlemen, rekindling old friendships, and embracing once more the game that brought us together so many years before.

So, today, I raise a horn not only to those who sling dice with us today, but to those who sat with us in that distant shadow of the past.

Skál, Dog Brothers and Sisters. May your dice ever roll true.