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Scribbles from the Ballpoint Pen of Stan!
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20100416
"Lil Lidda, how many times have I told you
NOT to Sneak Attack your dinner?!?"
"Sowwy"


This is the second of my doodles imagining what iconic D&D characters were like as kids. Imagine that wondrous moment when a youngster first discovers the wonders of the sneak attack! If she isn't forever scarred by the ensuing trip to the Emergency Room, she's sure to grow up to be a rogue!
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20100415
"Many guards were killed ... even Captain Krang!"
"Man! I HATE it when a named NPC gets killed!"


Let's face it, like "red shirts" in Star Trek, NPC warriors pretty much exist just so that they can be killed in order to SHOW the PCs how dangerous a situation is. For the most part, they come and go without really being noticed or even named. But every once in a while an NPC sticks around and makes an impact on the PC group. They get to know him and consider him almost like one of their own.

And when THAT character goes the way of all NPCs, it REALLY has an impact ... until the next week, when the players KNOW a new NPC will show up to fill that void.
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20100413
"Secure the other end of the rope ... I've got gnomeventuring to do!"
Jarvis Specklethwaite, Gentleman Gnomeventurer


It will come as no surprise to many of you that I am a gnome supporter. Throughout 3E, the lead up to 4E, and especially in current D&D/OGL circles, I think the gnomes got the short end of the stick repeatedly ... and I'd like to DO something about it!

In part, I understand. How to handle gnomes is a tricky subject. At first blush, they and halflings seem to tread a lot of the same ground. And even when new ground is identified, gnomes have often been painted in a purely comic style. They became a JOKE, when really part of what they embodied was a sense of wonder and whimsy.

The answer that Wizards of the Coast AND Paizo have come to is to substantially change what gnomes are ... giving them a strong link to the world of the fey and making magic (particularly illusion) their mechanical focus. Moving away from the amusing and giving them an otherworldly creepiness. And, while both companies have created very interesting races in this manner, neither of them really seem like GNOMES to me.

I get it. Some people have NO PLACE for anything light hearted in their fantasy RPGs. But is it really necessary to take away those elements entirely? Is it not possible that the classic gnome has something to OFFER to a game?

I sure think so. And Jarvis Specklethwaite, Genleman Gnomeventurer may help me to elucidate on the subject as he appears in more doodles.
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I've been trying for an hour or more now to upload new doodles to the Livejournal scrapbook, so that I can post them here this week. However, the work that LJ is doing on upgrading their servers apparently is making it impossible for me to access the upload function. This is in addition to the fact that yesterday it was NEARLY impossible for me to access the images currently in the scrapbook.

Since I really DON'T want to spend the entire day trying to make this work, I am officially canceling today's doodle ... and possibly more, if this situation isn't remedied soon. My apologies to all the regular doodle fans. Hopefully we can get this straightened out soon.

I will post updates here as the situation develops. In the meanwhile, you can go see more fully-rendered comics (many based on former doodles) over at 10'x10' Toon.
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20100410


I started this doodle with just a general pencil-top eraser shape and no real idea where I was going beyond that. It turns out that eraser turned into a fish guy.

On a different note, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to post a doodle today. Livejournal has apparently been doing some upgrades to their servers ... which is good, but are causing insane problems in accessing the scrapbook and managing pictures (and sometimes just loading pages) ... which is bad. I don't know if anyone noticed, but there was no doodle on Friday simply because I couldn't get the site to load properly during the morning or afternoon ... and then I forgot to try again in the evening. (Not 100% LJ's fault ... but I'm still sticking them with the lion's share of the blame.)

If this continues during the coming week, I wouldn't be surprised if there was another skipped day somewhere along the line.

I'm torn in my thoughts on the matter. On the one hand, it seems as though Livejournal is trying to improve their service to make everything easier and quicker. On the other hand, all of this came out of left field and I needed a friend to tell me WHY the problems were happening. LJ never gave me any advanced warning or made it EASY for me to figure out what was happening.

If I wasn't so busy with other work, I think I'd have spent the day exploring ways to migrate my journaling activities to another site without losing all my past content. (It would make me VERY sad if I had to lose the 3+ years of doodle archives.)

Now we'll just have to wait and see how things pan out in the wake of the server improvements.
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20100409
"You know we're using CARRYING CAPACITY as the deciding factor for splitting the treasure, right?"


It's always an interesting test to see how a roleplaying group divvies up the treasure their characters have gained over the course of an adventure ... what they use to make those determinations and how they make it feel fair to all the people AND characters involved.

Some people come to it from their character's perspective of things he or she wants, regardless of practicality. Others come strictly from a mathematical view of how to optimize the party's effectiveness. Most groups have a mix of the two. But eventually, you need to have a deciding factor. What trumps all other considerations if the group can't reach a compromise?

And carrying capacity has to be good for SOMETHING, right?
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20100408
When the bard sings ... the badger grooves!
"Vut vut vut"


I've really been enjoying posting Facebook updates during our weekly Game Night sessions of the Pathfinder RPG ... but I've been kind of shocked at how popular those updates seem to be getting. It seems there is at least a small group of people out there who want to be part of our campaign, even vicariously.

More surprising to me, though, is how people are forming opinions about and attachments to various characters. The monk, for example, has gotten the reputation for having a "glass jaw" simply because he was the first PC to be killed. He's actually an important part of our melee strategy and can take a hit just as well as he doles out flurries of blows.

MOST amazing to me is how popular the ranger's badger animal companion has become. People want to know how the badger is doing ... they fret when he's taking too much damage ... and I really kind of worry about the reaction we'd get if something bad actually befell poor Roger (that's the badger's name).

In the meanwhile, though, he remains an integral part of our group ... and he really LIKES it when the bard starts to sing.
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20100407
"AAAAAAH!"
"I didn't know that a water elemental COULD be set on fire."


After nominally beating the Kobold King and his minions (see yesterday's doodle) our group THOUGHT we could just leave the dungeon complex. However, we found the exit was blocked by a Huge fire elemental. So, battered though we were, we had one more big fight to get through before we could actually rest.

Somewhere along the line, we'd picked up an item that let us summon a water elemental and we figured it would be a great way to counter the opposition. However, our elemental was only medium size ... so we knew it wouldn't completely turn the tables.

Still, we were surprised when it walked into battle, got hit by the fire elemental, and failed a save, that our water elemental was now "on fire." We were SO surprised that we spent the next 10 minutes or more flipping through various rule books to see if it was POSSIBLE for a creature made entirely of water to BE on fire ... and eventually we realized that nowhere was there any rule that would PREVENT such a thing from happening. So, indeed, the water elemental WAS on fire.

That is something you don't see every day.
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20100406
"I am the King of the Kobolds!"
"I can SEE why!"


A game night doodle of the shock our characters got when, upon entering the climactic encounter with the kobold forces that had kidnapped the children from their village, they found the kobold king to be nearly six feet tall and bursting with muscles. He still ACTED like a kobold, though, sending his minions to block and delay us while his shaman cast spells at us.

In the end, his brawn turned out to be the result of an enlarge spell (and maybe a few other buffs like bull's strength) ... and the REAL challenge was getting through the ranks of minions, who had some insane AC up in the mid 30s. Between them and the shaman (who was actually a sorcerer), the party nearly got wiped off the map. In fact, if the GM had been played them to the best GAME strategy, there almost certainly WOULD have been a TPK. (Instead he played them to the best KOBOLD strategy ... which is a lot less self-sacrificing.)

In the end we kinda won, taking out the king and MOST of the minions. The sorcerer and a few minions escaped through a tunnel so small none of us could follow, and we saved all the remaining children. (Some had already been killed by the kobolds.)

Hurray for mitigated victories!
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20100405
"I HATE PEAS!"
"How PROUD you must be."
"Just like his father. The Gronks have always been early ragers."


I got it in my head to do a few doodles about what various RPG classes were like at their earliest stages ... kind of like a "D&D Babies," to harken back to the worst incarnation of the Muppets (not to pokes at the Lucasfilm licensing machine Dave Kellett was telling in his Sheldon strip recently).

This "Barbarian Baby" is the first one ... based mainly on the fact that I'm playing a barbarian in the current Pathfinder campaign. I've only done one other so far (which you'll see here soon enough) ... but I may turn my brain toward covering the other classes the next time I sit down for purposeful doodling.
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20100404


For some reason, when I look at this doodle I hear a pleasant, deep, sonorous voice with a vaguely Caribbean voice. Kind of like Sebastian from The Little Mermaid but more laid back.
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20100403


I was goofing around with various facial designs for giants, for no particular reason other than my own amusement, and this is one of the more endearing versions I came up with. Sure, he still has that "big brute" look ... but he also looks kind of lost and bemused.

I think this might be a good look for a giant that just wants to be friendly ... but the local townsfolk insist on treating him like a monster. (I actually wrote a short story with a giant like that, though he was already dead at the start of the story ... having been betrayed by his only friend so that friend could look like a mighty warrior to his friends and neighbors. Sad, really. Now I feel like a meany for even coming up with that storyline.)
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20100402
"Eureka!"
Orc and Pi


Anyone who's been looking at my still relatively new 10'x10' Toon webcomic may have noticed that a significant number of the comics there are refined versions of doodles that have shown up here at Doodle-A-Day.

I am, indeed, using my notebooks full of doodles as raw material for the single-panel comics ... but this is the first time that a finished comic has been released BEFORE the doodle it's based on. Y'see, I did the doodle SPECIFICALLY because I WANTED a doodle for Pi Day.

If such things interest you, comparing this doodle and the finished comic is a good example of how my development process works. Tweaking the image ... adding at least an implied background ... and refining the text (in this case, to create a secondary gag).
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20100401


Even in the future, Russ Curtis doesn't have a jet pack ... but his little friend does!

Gravity is a harsh mistress!
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20100331
"Alas, poor Uruk."
"He's in Valhalla now."
"Yeah. Too bad we didn't take him to town ... he could have been raised.,,"
"NOW you mention that?"


This is a sort of "what if...?" scenario from a recent Game Night session. We had our first party death--the monk whose player, as it turns out, was not at the game (but HAD given us permission to run his character as normal).

The group was a long way away from civilization, and we'd never had a party member die before. Our characters come from a Viking-esque culture, so we began thinking about what they would likely do with their friend's body. Burn it in a standard "Viking funeral," we thought ... since none of the characters there were particularly knowledgeable about divine spellcasting.

Thankfully, the bard made a strong Knowledge (religion) check and came up with the fact that the church that the monk was associated with IS supposed to have magic that can peel back the veil of death. So we decided that taking his body to the main temple was the best thing to do.

But what if the bard had failed that roll? And then just happened to remember that important bit of information few hours later?

Ooops!
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Name: Stan!
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