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Friday, December 31, 2010

Of Dark Elves, TSR and the road to 2nd Edition PT. 1

On Dark Elves and their history of the game
(Before I get rolling on this I should present the fact that I read the first books when the came out that featured Dark Elves by RA Salvatore in 1988 with the first of the Crystal Shard; however as you will see my experience fortunately predates this work by a few years). 

Willmark's history on Dark Elves in AD&D... Part 1

Before I get into the particulars of the role-playing genre and dark elves in general I think I should point out a few things. Unlike most people that started playing the game I was not a geek or nerd, I suspect that some had the same path as me, but not too many. I played sports (football even from the time I was 7-8), had lots of girlfriends even from an  early age. So suffice to say I was not the lonely "prototypical nerd" staying in my basement playing D&D to the exclusion of all else. In fact some of my girlfriends in high school were downright hot! (what the hell they were doing with me is another post for another time ;) I might be a geek now, but I digress. So for at least me it blows the angst geek stereotype that wants to play dark elves right out of the water.

Now, with all this said I have terrible secret: I have played drow characters! Harsh. Fan-boy, I know? Hardly. However, I have been only two I've played in my gaming life of 30 years and both were fun for different reasons.

My first experience with dark elves started with the first AD&D book I bought myself, the much maligned Unearthed Arcana. Contained within the tome that is really a collection of Gary Gygax's home campaign notes to a large degree were expanded rules for demi-human races: including Dark Elves. Funny when I look at it now, the deep gnomes may have even more munchkin rules then the dark elves! The Druegar and the Dark Elves are about neck and neck in my honest opinion.

Playing in one of of our last 1st edition D&D campaigns in High School before we switched to 2nd I decided to play a dark elf fighter/magic user wielding a spetum and shield to mean effect and casting many a fireball and lightning bolt that crossed his path. This was late 1986/early 1987. I still have his character sheet and looking through his notes finished at around levels 7/9 for about 2 years of play. His name Relendor Silkenweb. The main memories I have of playing him was that he was very much a mercenary and approached most obstacles with that mindset.

My second dark elf was from the 90's and was created in early 1997 for a 2e campaign. Previous the DM tried to get us to play Basic via the Rules Cyclopedia. For one reason of another the group stopped playing and reformed a few weeks later. I played a elf figher with a morbid curiously towards death. With that short lived character called Cormac I came up with the idea of my second dark elf character named Yonel Var-Empyr a dark elf elven knight using a kit from Elves of the Evermeet. Now how I got to this was a bit weird so bear with me. At the time I was re-reading all of the Elric books and being easy reads I plowed through them all. I had even more time to re-read them a third time when I broke my leg in 13 places in March of that year. it was from this thirds read that I would later form up his  back-story.

With all that said the character gained a ton of back history and it melded to the history of the game the DM presented, it was quite organic. He eventually became a leader of outcast elves, mainly surface elves at that. The interesting thing is that at either time with either character I cant say I was influenced by the Dark Elf sagas of Drizzt Do-Urden. Shocking I know? In the first case I looked up some drow names from D3- Decent into the Depths of the Earth and jumbled something around or dropped some letters. In the second case more Elric influence. Can't quite remember how I came up with the second name.

So what does this have to do with dark elves per say I hear you say? Nothing, and everything. As a player that came in a latter wave to D&D and 1st AD&D via the Moldvay boxed set I got for Christmas in 1982, I have a different perspective of TSR and its events relating to dark elves, and the road the led to second edition. I mention these because to many the two are the same thing: dark elves and 2nd edition.

Switching gears a bit: Being 12 in 1985 I only had a vague impression or understanding that Gary Gygax had left  TSR and no idea as to all the reasons till many years later. So with this in mind my friends and I had about 2 years of AD&D under our belts and much of that was figuring out what to do with it and coming up with some munchkin characters that make anything RA Salvatore could come up with look tame in comparison.

We noodled around with both Basic and AD&D and blended them together as I'm sure a lot of people did. I quit that group and joined another group which is where I played my first dark elf listed above. From there I played with some excellent guys who are still my friends to this day, yes even including the 2nd edition games.

Now cross this with my DMing. In my current gaming group either one other DM and I take the DMing chores. In the times I DMed I think I've used the dark elves as protagonists exactly once as a minor story arc revolving around a human PC cleric. When its all said and done my favorite under dark race and one that I often use in my AD&D games is the Derro, another creature that first appeared in 1st edition AD&D...

So thus you have my perspective as a DM (I rarely use them) and in playing since 1982 I've played exactly 2 dark elves. Thus the stage is set for my discussion of Drizzt, Dark Elves and 2nd edition AD&D.

So this closes out Part I. I'll be starting on Part II soon. That next one is going to really get into the meat if you will, mirroring my analysis of the rise of 2nd Edition and the hated cliche of the Dark Elf character, what the archetype means and how it mirrored TSR.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hey, Hey! Trying to catch up, brief update for now.

Also on my current Reading list 
Now that the holidays are done and the Word of Hashut is underway I thought I'd take a moment out to talk about my latest readings. As noted to the side as it says I'm reading Glen Cook's The Black Company. However my erstwhile friend Simrion just provided me with book 6 of the Camloud Chronicles (or in Canada, A Dream of Eagles) By Jack Whyte /

This is a great series that I can't say enough about, I have recommended it to a few of my friends and work colleges and thus far no one has disliked it. Without spilling the beans too much it is set in the time of the historical Arthur and gives plausible reasons as to why and how the legends have come down to us the way they have. I say historical arthur by then again that is truly up for debate anyways. I wont spoil it by saying anything further just pick up the series.

Currently I'm on Book 6 The Sorcerer Part 2: Metamorphosis which is  6 out of 9.

Again, highly recommended.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hey long time away!

Just a few updates about me:

Right now Issue #10 of the Word of Hashut is being proofed by the editorial folks so hopefully this week I will have it out; a week late I now but what can you do.

Additionally Right now I'm reading a few new books for the latest one check my "What I'm reading". (Just realized I need to update that more often...)

Also a cool website I found out about:

Wakoopa Wakoopa is sorta like the Facebook of technology, definately a nerd thing. I've just started to play around with it and hope to uncover more about. Unfortunately Paul Thurott of WinSupersite (in)fame(y) uses it. Ahh well hopefully I won't hold that against him.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sorry gang but its been a while with health issues and all and hopefully i find out some good news later today from my doctor.

I’ve also updated what I’m currently reading. if you hav not read the Jack Whyte series called either the Dream of Eagles or the Camloud Chronicles (depends on where you live) then I highly recommend doing so;; great read and a great telling of a classic tale, perhaps the classic tale.

On to other stuff: I see that the next issue of the Bellower is out from Ogre Stronghold so its time for me to download and review it.

The issue can be downloaded from here:

At a quick glance I like the cover (I knew what it was however due to the Ad exchanges amongst the current ezines in production). Looks like it will be a good read.

Also on the horizon I’m hoping to start reviews of some of the fan made modules for 1st and 2nd edition AD&D. We’ll see how that goes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

First 2nd Edition Module done!

Despite tons of tribulations in my life right now I managed to somehow get my first module for 2nd Edition AD&D done: W2-Assault on the Hill Giant Raiders to a playable form. (Its called W2 because module W1 is taking far longer to write then I would like).

This came about from my players getting some fairly high level characters and wanting to challenge them with giants but not wanting to resort to G1-3 Against the Giants by Gary Gygax. While I love G1-3 I wanted to opt for something different. Thus this first stab.

Look for more to come as I write them.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gold and Glory #4

Once again I go insane by actually designing and laying out not one ezine, but two. In this case I'm talking about Gold and glory #4 rather then the Word of Hashut. As soon as I finished it I had to immediately start working on Word of Hashut #9 which is now very, very late as a result. It was fun and it was nice to do something different.

This time around I tried out a few new things in terms of layout and I brought me back to the Winter of last year when I did Gold and Glory #1 (February 2010).

One thing is for sure there is no way I can do tow so I'm sure that the Gold and Glory crew will be looking to hire some folks to work on it.

Also a nice touch is TwilightCo's cover for this issue, his second in a row. 

Issue #4 can be found here, so enjoy:


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gold and Glory #4... is done!

Exclusive news here! I have finished the layout for Gold and Glory #4, the ezine of

In the coming week I hope to have this one out by Friday next week as I'm getting well into Word of Hashut #9. That will be a blog post for a later point and is going to be a great one.

Good to see just who is reading/following this blog. ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jamarcus Russell Thank the Sith Gods he's gone!

I'm going to take the opportunity to thank the Sith Lords for finally cutting the worst, and I mean worst quarterback ever to disgrace himself in football. The Oakland Raiders and us the long suffering Nation can finally move on from this complete and utter craptastic "QB". Really, now the debate about who was worse: Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus can begin. For a comparison see below.

I was against this tool when the Raiders drafted him in 2007 and so was Lane Kiffin, not that I was a huge fan of his either They could have drafted anyone , but no they had to take him #1 in the draft.

In retrospect this "QB" set the franchise back years by his in consistent "play". Fortunately the Crypt Keeper (Al Davis) finally wised up and cut ties with him admitting the mistake.

One of the more amazing things is what he got paid 39 million dollars to win 7 games... to put it into perspective:

How depressing is that?

Then from the USA Today
"That works out to $110,169.49 per completion. If Peyton Manning were paid at the same rate, he'd have earned $466 million by now. And Brett Favre would have topped $670 million."

Even more amazing for JaMarcus Russell, he "earned" $110,000 per completion, 2 million per TD pass, 5 million per win... if that doesn't suck I dont know what does.

JaMarcus Russel 2007-2009
Games: 31 / QB Rating: 65.2/ Comp: 354 Att 680/ %52.1 Yds 4083 TD 18 INT 23 Record 7-18

Ryan Leaf 1998-2001
Games: 25 / QB Rating: 65.2/ Comp: 317 Att 655/ %48.4 Yds 3666 TD 14 INT 36 Record 4-17

So let the debate begin and there have been some truly horrendous QBs to "grace" the NFL over the last 20 years: Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Todd Marinovich, Andre Ware, Rex Grossman, Dan McGwire, Kelly Stouffer, Danny Wuerffel, Jim Druckenmiller, and Heath Shuler to name but a few (Cade McNown, Rick Mirer and Joey Harrington) are question marks to me in a lot of respects.

And there are even more when you look at the NFL over the last say 40 years, but at the top of the scrap heap? Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell with JR being #1 in my mind.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Bellower Issue 2

The Big flabby, guts over at Ogre Stronghold are back at it again, and this time with the latest release of the Bellower,. The Bellower being the the ezine of the excellent Ogre Stronghold website. As one would imagine (but for the benefit of those not in the know) this is for the game of Warhammer, specifically the Ogre faction of the Warhammer World. The Ogre Kingdoms site can be accessed at: (

In much the same way the production delays seem to plague the Word of Hashut the Bellower got out a bit later then last time, not that I know anything about that...

For layout it is in the horizontal (landscape) format again and that is fine. To me personally its immaterial as my laptop is often hooked up to a large monitor for reading or I read them on my home desktop and a 24” screen…

There are no real noticeable production glitches and being the geek that I am I noticed that the ezine was created in Scribus which is open source; that would be my choice if I did not use InDesign on Gold and Glory and The Word of Hashut so kudos there. Why would anyone check this you ask? Because if you create these things you winder what someone else is using that’s why. Scribus is freely available from here:

First off the good things that I liked or noticed as I read through it
Great job on the cover. A good looking cover is a necessity for ezines in this day and age. In a world of increasing ezines its harder to stand out unless there is a good cover, this one fulfills those requirements. The cover also ties in nicely to the content inside. It shows that the Bellower Staff is looking at theme rather then a random picture on the cover that has only marginally meaning to the contents.

I enjoyed the focus on the Trapper. It’s always nice to see articles that challenge the status quo of thinking for a particular army, whether it’s from the theoretical or a necessity. All too often many Warhammer players cant get out of their rut. I think those that don’t play “Point and Click armies” are able to do this better and such is the case here. Also the Trapper article was well laid out and an easy read. A few more graphics and/or pictures might have helped it “breathe” a bit more as the last page of the article felt a bit cramped in terms of its space.

I also really liked the recap of Animosity IV, this is a great example of a short, concise article that gets to the salient points quickly and is an easy read. Great job here Mercules.

The Saber step-by-step guide: It was well laid out and and clear about what steps you were doing. In short a great guide for a newbie to follow. A few bigger pictures showing the painted goods might have gone a long way here.

I like the look of the ezine with varying shades of gray; it breaks up the pages nicely. With that said see my comments below about improvements. Also the flip side of prolonged usage of white text on dark backgrounds is eyestrain. This issue has a lot of reversed type. The flip is to beware of too dark of a background with black type as it can blend.(Of course this blog is black and white but I keep the posts short(ist).

Things to work on
The next step for the Bellower Team is to step up their game and to attempt an ezine in full color. The (largely) black and white layout/theme is well executed and looks great, its also fun to do once in a while but for the sake of variation its good to add more color. This is more difficult to accomplish but worth it to give it a try. This is more of a style thing, not that anything is wrong.

I noticed a few typos here and there; nothing too major and I know how tough it can be to catch them all.

Careful use of the text wrapping tools! I know for a fact how tricky this one can be. The fact that the software can easily wrap text is great. The downside is that it can produce tight text to an object or even weird separations or gaps of the text. When finished its always a good idea to have someone else look at it who has a fresh set of eyes: after looking at it for months you tend to fill stuff in mentally, I know I do.

From the layout perspective the Painting Competition article was a bit unfocused. What I mean is that it was not always clear looking at it what won what placing in the competition. I know I did a double take a few times here and there. Once I looked it over again I can see where the idea was going but it seemed a bit disjointed.

The back cover is a minor point but an important one. The back cover sets the tone for the next issue and also gives a sneak peak as to what’s coming next. Now how this goes its likely that someone was supposed to do it then “something came up” forcing Randroid to scramble, not that I would know anything like that.

If you are looking for a great read that focuses on the flabby mercs of the Warhammer World then these are your lads and this is your mag. There is nothing bad about the issue at all and overall I'd feel comfortable giving it a 4 out 5 rating, easily. All in all a fine effort from the group here and all around its nice to see an improvement from Issue 1. Congratulations on the good work and keep it up.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Writing and Producing 2e Modules for sale, eventually.

2nd Edition Adventure in the works, eventually.

For those of you not in the know I also play 2nd Edition ADD. I'm not a big fan of either 3rd or 4th edition and would play it if I had to, but fortunately I don't ;)

Right now I'm DMing once a week and have been working on a high level adventure on and off for a while. Considering the success of the Word of Hashut I'm pretty confident I can produce a good layout. I'm thinking about writing a module and possibly selling it at Lulu. I am in the process of putting together a high level adventure based on a few ideas that I have had for some time now. Cool thing there is a homage to both the remake and original Clash of the Titans in it.

I dont expect this will happen soon, but I do think that once I finish up Gold and Glory #4 I will have a bit more time.

So as time goes by I'll update here with more bits and pieces.

(PS: Wow first time I made more then 2 blog posts in a month!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Warhammer 8th edition and the fate of Chaos Dwarfs?

Warhammer 8th edition
As the entire world is now talking about this I might as well post about it too ;)

But rather then hash out all the rumors that have already been gone over ad naseum I wonder what the fate of Chaos Dwarfs will be in 8th. As we know they were inserted into the back of the 7th edition books with the notation of no current rule book or some such. Then through the entire run of 7th, and 6th for that matter, nothing.

The question then becomes will GW remove them this time around? If they are in its probably a good sign that they will continue, if not, who knows what that means but its probably not anything good.

Like any business GW has to make money. They normally do not do anything and teh past results of Chaos Dwarfs are hardly encouraging in that regard. Lets just how that the efforts of has made them reconsider. I think that they have a far bigger fan base then creating another army out of left field like they did for Ogre Kingdoms.

I'd be hard pressed to name another faction of Warhammer that has more fan support then Chaos Dwarfs. Oh that's right there isnt one!

If they are not included I'm not sure I want to throw in the towel but by the same token the last chaos dwarf book was... 1993. Some people have never even seen the cover of White Dwarf Presents: Chaos Dwarfs! In fact some who are playing Warhammer right now have never even seen them on the table top, some probably weren't even born yet. Man I now feel old.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Word of Hashut #8

Word of Hashut #8 Finally done!
This is not a review of my own work, but more of a post to say yep its out and I'm glad its done because now its onto Gold and Glory #4 for Dogs of War Online. *

Word of Hashut #8 was a milestone for many ways. For one it is now equal in terms of issues to the Citizen Levy for the High Elves ( and puts us on par with the Skavenblight Gazette.

Its important to note that for me this is not just about the length of the content or how many issues, truly and simply its about giving something back to the Warhammer community and to keep the dream of Chaos Dwarfs alive.

Its also important that now we are closing in on Issue #9 and 2 years of doing the ezine as well as our 10th issue right after, all fine achievements, but we are not resting on our laurels. we are looking for new ways to make it even better.

Many across the web think we (I) are dreaming about the return of Chaos Dwarfs to Warhammer. To which I say: "What's wrong with dreaming?" To paraphrase from the movie Miracle " I find the term Dream Teams ironic, because now that we have dream teams, we seldom get to dream".

I don't know about you but a little dreaming coupled with some hard work isn't a bad thing.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review of the Invocation #4

Its the end of a three month span so we all know what that means, a number of ezines will soon be making their way to the internet. The first out of the gate is the Invocation from Carpe Noctrum and can be found here:

Once again the guys led by Disciple of Nagash have done a good job for the undead fans of the Warhammer world.

First off I liked the step-by-step painting guide for undead beasts: pictures were clear and color was/is good on the photos.

Next up is the comic/graphic novel: I'm liking it. The style of the story fits well as does the storyline and action. The artistic style also has an appeal to it (to me at least) that evokes the right feelings. I especially liked the final panel.

Battle Report: Knowing how much of a pain these art to organize, photograph and write I have to give props just for getting one in! For those not in the know these are not necessarily the most fun thing to do for an ezine. It follows and reads well so you can clearly see what is going on.

Now to some of the criticisms
Each time the Invocation has been out each issue has felt long and this one is no exception at 149 pages. Simply put reading it tends to feel like a chore in spots. No ezine is immune to this and I for one am looking to cut down the Word of Hashut so its not as unwieldy.

The use of white text on a illustrated background with no stroke to the characters. This is not a problem in and of itself but make for difficult reading when it is a issue of this length. Again, in and of itself not an issue, but coupled with page length it becomes more noticeable.

A minor quibble for typesetting: Either make a headline bold or underline, but not both at the same time. ;)

In short the criticisms are minor and correctable for the future but it looks like the DoN and the gang did another fine job. I plan on re-reading it again more in depth and will add any further comments to this blog post.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Word of Hashut... and Orcs and Goblins???

Word of Hashut Update
Well I'm not sure if I am going to make it with the deadline being the 28th of March, but what else is new huh?

One really good factor is almost anything in terms of contents is in and I am working on getting it organized.

So stay tuned for the next few weeks and we will see what transpires.

Next up... Orcs and Goblins?
By now everyone now knows it looks like Orcs and Goblins are next up on the release schedule:

To me this a bit unusual as it was not the next army I was expecting to see come out after Beastmen. This will prove interesting and I wonder what might be coming next after this bit of a curve ball.

Of course does this mean a new book and army fully?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Word of Hashut Deadline

As always with a few days left to go to deadline means the scramble is on. After the deadline passes it's what I call a one month sprint to the finish. Meaning almost all of March will consist of me working on nothing warhammer related except Issue #8.

In terms of exclusive scoops (just to see whose actually reading this ;) how about this teaser: we will be revisting an old article from White Dwarf that is sure to have broad appeal to not only chaos dwarf fans.

But that's all I'll say for now :)


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chaos Dwarfs Online

As the longtime members know today was the worst day in terms of site "performance" in quite some time.

In case you missed as I noted on I am now looking into alternatives for site hosting and getting a migration plan together.

For those that follow the site/are members hang in there everyone.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 29, 2010

Look out for the New Minotaurs!

I'm not one of those doom and gloom folks that think that every new army that comes out is "broken".

I will point out however those new rules for Minotaurs in the Beastmen book are sick: S5; additional hand weapon or great weapon, boodgreed. Now I haven't faced off against them in years but wow.

Make you check out this months WD and see what they did to a unit of Grail Knights...


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Defintion of insanity is this blog

Well as if I do not have enough to do I figured I'd actually use my blog space that I created nearly 2 years ago. This blog will mainly focus on the comings and goings of my websites that I'm either a Admin or Co Admin for: and; plus my work on the Word of Hashut ezine. Gold and Glory the ezine of Dogs of War Online may figure into here as well.

So be sure to stop back as I get this up and running.

Also some non-Warhammer related items my appear here from time to time.