I’ve created a Google Photos Gallery for my Lost Mine of Phandelver tabletop terrain project. I was going to make a gallery here on the website, but all these pictures already exist on Google and this is just easier. Maybe as things get more finished I’ll put together a project gallery for it. But it’s too early for that right now.

The plan is to do each of the four “dungeon maps”. The ruins may be individual buildings, because otherwise it’d be a single board bigger than most tables playing surface, something like 30 x 50 inches. I’m also not going to even attempt to do the whole village, but I may do a few significant buildings. We’ll see.

Right now, I’m waiting on the arrival of some foliage from Amazon so that I can finish the area outside the Cragmaw Hideout cave complex. That order is coming with some more Mod Podge, as I seem to be going through quite a bit of it. While I wait I’ve been making the individual ruined buildings for the Ruins of Thundertree area, planning out the Redbrand Hideout, and working on building some of the extras–chests, boxes, sleeping mats, that sort of thing–all the bits that get scattered around the maps to make things look lived in and interesting.

I’m certainly jumping into this with both feet. It’s a big project, but I’m having fun. I’m also trying to make these pieces reusable for other scenarios, but I may be less successful with that part of things. Have a look at that gallery, if you’re interested. I’ll be adding more pictures as I take them. Later.

The work on the Lost Mine of Phandelver pieces continues to move forward. I’ve applied a coat of joint compound to the Cragmaw Hideout cave complex. I started working on some of the cave rubble, adjusted some of the stalagmites, and built a ridge around the pond and stream to hold in the clear epoxy resin. I also realized that I am going to need a structure to hang the waterfall from, so I added a pillar that I’ll thicken and texture up before figuring out how the waterfall is going to work.

cragmaw hideout birds eye view

I started coating the finished foam and joint compound areas with a sealing coat of Mod Podge & black paint. I need to texture the actual play areas with some tin foil, but forgot about that step and you can see that I have one cave floor that has already been coated. Whoops.

entrance to the cragmaw hideout

I made three campfire rings, two small and one larger, that will get placed in the caves. You can see that the small LED and dab of cotton give a not terrible flame effect on the one of the smaller campfire that I’ve put together. I’ll get all three of them set up and wired to a switch, maybe two switches, before this thing is done.

This weekend I made some bricks for the next two parts of this project–the ruins and the first of two dungeons.

20mm x 40mm bricks

Okay, I made more than a few bricks. I made a bucket of bricks. I hope I have enough.

bucket o’ bricks

I mentioned in passing that I’ve decided to add another hobby to my repertoire. It ties into both the statue customizing/repainting that I was all about a while back and is a part of tabletop gaming that I’ve flirted with in the past but never committed to. I’m talking about 28mm miniature painting. 28mm refers to the scale of the figures, but explaining the details of that seems to lead everyone into the weeds and I’ll avoid that for both our sakes. Lets just say that a typical dude is about 1-1/8th tall. They’re pretty small.

otherworld idol and a 5-pack of resin flames

I found this miniature diorama set at Otherworld Miniatures and knew immediately that I had to have it. If you’re not of a certain age and disposition, you may not recognize it. This is the idol featured on the cover of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. This set includes the iconic demon idol pictured above, but it also includes an altar and pair of braziers, as well as a pair of plucky thieves stealing one of the idol’s eyes. None of which did I include in the picture. Once I get everything put together and painted, I’m going to build a set piece recreating that cover. The flames; those I don’t really have a plan for yet, but I wanted them so I bought them.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook by Trampier
trampier cover art

In preparation for all the painting fun that I’m about to embark on, I picked up a nice set of brushes. This one is a 12-pc set of assorted detail brushes, Minute Series XII Miniature Brushes. I am no expert on brushes, but this set has almost 1,500 reviews on Amazon and has an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5, so I have high hopes for them. They came with a bag, a plastic case that screws together, and little caps for each brush. The brushes themselves have a fat, triangular, supposedly ergonomic, wooden handles and premium synthetic hair brushes. I’ll let you know what I think about them once I start using them.

Minute Series XII Small Paint Brushes with Holder by D’Artisan Shoppe

Of course, if you’re going to have figures and brushes, you’re going to need paints. I found a deal on Amazon for a pair of paint sets licensed by D&D. Each of these came with a miniature: an owlbear in the monster set and a dude with a sword in the adventurer set. So in one fell stroke I have two miniatures, four brushes, and 46 paints. Well, the actual breakdown is: 1 primer, 3 washes, 4 metallics, 37 acrylics, and 1 effect paint. I’d include a link to this deal, but it seems to be gone. The individual sets are still there, but the whole package doesn’t appear to be available anymore. I think this is enough to get me started. But I will say that like with every hobby, paints and brushes are the never ending must haves.

Nolzur’s D&D paint sets

I tried to use Lady Ronn’s light box for the photos, but obviously I need some practice. I had to photoshop everything to make it look right and I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work. Here are a couple pictures of the Cragmaw cave hideout that I’ve been working on. This time with miniatures for scale. That’s all for now. Later.

a peek into the cragmaw hideout
cragmaw hideout – work in progress

After another evening of watching Poledark with the lovely Lady Ronn, I was scrolling through Amazon Prime Video and came across something that I didn’t know existed. A documentary about the art of Dungeons & Dragons back in the old TSR days.

I immediately started watching it, which probably was not appreciated by everyone in the room, but whatever. It wasn’t great, but if you’re a longtime gamer like me and have lots of good memories about all that old D&D art, you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.


My favorite tidbit was that artist Jack Fred was a pseudonym used by the artists, when a particular piece of art was felt to be subpar and they didn’t want to be associated with it.

It was an interesting watch and it was interesting to see and hear from each of the artists, most of whom I only know from their art. Check it out if you’re into this sort of thing.

Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons
Documentary 2019 1h 31min
A documentary that explores the history & stories behind the art that helped create the world’s most popular role playing game. The movie profiles artists – both past & present – & features former company insiders, game designers, authors, & fans.

Eye of the Beholder

Appearances by Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Erol Otus, Tony DiTerlizzi, Brom, Todd Lockwood, Tom Babbey, Peggy Cooper, Darlene, Jeff Dee, Randy Gallegos, Ralph Horsley, Jennell Jaquays, Tim Kask, Dana Knutson, Diesel LaForce, Brynn Metheney, Dawn Murin, Steve Prescott, Harry Quinn, Jon Schindehette, Chris Seaman, Matthew Stawicki, Margaret Weiss, Tom Wham, Ralph Horsley

Both of my canvas prints arrived this week from CanvasOnSale.com.

Inner Sareth arrived on Thursday. It looks good. Colors are nice. Text is sharp. But… due to the way it’s stretched, the border is wavy and not even around the perimeter of the canvas. If I was going to give you advice about doing something like this yourself, I’d tell you to remove the border and avoid the disappointment. I’ve already gone in and created a borderless copy of the map in WonderDraft. It’s distracting and that would be my biggest complaint. I have one other complaint, and that is the corner folds. These are sloppy and stick out all around the print. I can pull the staples and refold them, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to do that.

Inner Sareth

This was not where I had intended to put it, but I think it looks better here. Mainly, because the unfinished statue projects distract from the sloppy border. Besides, I think the other two look pretty good together.

The Skorr & Baenrahl

The Skorr is the first one I ordered and I’ve already talked about it. The Regentia (Baenrahl) map arrived today. It’s dark, but I knew it would be. It’s a dark world and I intentionally designed the map to be dark. The one thing I’m disappointed with, and it’s my fault and a small thing, is that my radial lines coming off the compass are very faint. This is due to the width of the lines. I should up them from 3 pixels to 5 or 6 pixels, but it’s a nice print. It has one small scratch and the frame is not quite flat, but the corners are much nicer than on the Sareth canvas.

I have plans for those two empty spaces. I know it looks odd right now, but I just have to put a couple things together to finish up the layout on the wall.

In other news: I was talking to Lady Ronn about her photography and getting a website set-up. One thing led to another and I had her a domain name and a basic wordpress site for her. Now don’t go rushing over there. The only thing to see right now is the generic Bluehost “Coming Soon” page, but HeidiMcCarrick.com will be a thing at some point in the near future. If I had to guess when, I’d guess after we’re both done with the Summer semester at the end of June.

I’ve put in orders for two more canvas maps, because I want to put them up in my office as inspiration for writing and gaming. And also because I get very into new projects and this one seems pretty easy to finish. Just click to order.

Inner Sareth
original map of Inner Sareth

The first is the map that began as an unnamed world map with a big blacksword as the compass, and so I called it the black sword map. It’s been renamed Inner Sareth, which represents the idea that it is part of a much larger continent.

The original was drawn on a large 22×30 sheet of preprinted hex paper (Chessex, I think) and colored with Berol Prismacolor pencils. You can see it there, all taped up, because I cut it up to scan it many years ago. I never used it for gaming or writing in any substantial way. The new version is a WonderDraft creation.

The second map is the one I used for the Baenrahl campaign and was also created in WonderDraft.

original map of Regentia

This isn’t actually the original, but is instead the first digital original. The actual original was made on a series of 8 1/2 x 11 papers and lived in a three hole binder. I have pictures of some of the pages, but not one of the map as a whole. And in fact, I don’t think I even have all of the pages. The original inspiration for this map, believe it or not, was a vector image of the moon. Those island continents were all one of the shadow layers of the vector.

I’ll post pictures when I get the new maps and have everything installed on the wall. Until then, tomorrow is the 1st episode of arohenRADIO. I hope you like it. We’re not going to talk about the progress on the promised arohenTV video. Later.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons

I just finished listening to Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons by Shelly Mazzanoble. Have you ever wondered about the female point of view at the gaming table? It’s maybe not what you were expecting. Or at least, Shelly, is not what I was expecting.
There’s not a lot of role playing meat here. It’s not a book on how to play D&D or full of adventure/campaign ideas. It’s also not any sort of self-help book as some of the blurbs imply. What is it? Something of a memoir or personal tell all. Really it’s just her talking about the life lessons she’s taken away from the gaming table and it’s fun, funny, and insightful.
This was a good listen. The narration was well done, the story flowed well and was interesting, but I could do without most of the sidebars. I wouldn’t say that I couldn’t put this down, but I did blast through it in two or three days of listening, which is pretty fast for me to go through a seven and a half hour recording. Shelly offers an insight into a life I find difficult to imagine… who talks to their mom every day? But it was interesting to me and I think it does a good job of taking away some of the stigma that gets built up around tabletop role playing. She is someone who I can totally see at the gaming table, and at the same time a person who I would not expect to be a gamer. But such is life and gamers are found in the most unlikely places. I enjoyed this book, even though there were large parts I couldn’t relate too. Shelly Mazzanoble does a great job of laying it all out on the table.

One of my more recent purchases from Audible was worthy of being mentioned here at arohenRPG. Clocking in at 10-hours and 22-minutes, Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons, written by Jeffro Johnson, narrated by Brandon Porter, and published by Castalia House, is an investigation into the various works of science fiction and fantasy that Gary Gygax listed as being the primary influences on the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading being the list of reading material published in the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide.
The author takes us on a fascinating dive into the literature of SF/F’s past, we get a look back at fandom/geek culture and why these materials were so influential, and he does a good job of critically reviewing all the works and authors listed by Gygax. Furthermore, he hypothesizes and draws conclusions from his investigation as to what parts of those works were most influential in the creation of the game. As a roleplayer who cut his teeth on AD&D, and who has referenced that appendix for reading material, I was fascinated by this book.
Let’s look at what Appendix N is. I no longer have my original DMG, so I have to go with what I have. Here is what was presented in the Limited Edition, Premium-Covered Dungeon Masters Guide (page 224) in its entirety.

Inspiration for all the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a tad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted swords, or wicked sorcerers and dauntless swordsmen. Then too, countless hundreds of comic books went down, and the long-gone EC ones certainly had their effect. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies were a big influence. In fact, all of us tend to get ample helpings of fantasy when we are very young from fairy tales such as those written by the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang. This often leads to reading books of mythology, paging through bestiaries, and consultation of compilations of the myths of various lands and peoples. Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy, being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950. The following authors were of particular inspiration to me. In some cases I cite specific works, in others, I simply recommend all of their fantasy writing to you. From such sources, as well as any other imaginative writing or screenplay, you will be able to pluck kernels from which will grow the fruits of exciting campaigns. Good reading!
Brackett, Leigh
Brown, Frederic
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. “Pellucidar” series; Mars series; Venus series
Carter, Lin. “World’s End” series
de Camp & Pratt. “Harold Shea” series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE
Derleth, August
Dunsany, Lord
Farmer, P. J. “The World of the Tiers” series; et al.
Fox, Gardner. “Kothar” series; “Kyrik” series; et al.
Howard, R. E. “Conan” series
Lanier, Sterling. HIERO’S JOURNEY
Leiber, Fritz. “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” series; et al.
Lovecraft, H. P.
Moorcock, Michael. STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” series (esp. the first three books)
Norton, Andre
Offutt, Andrew J. editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Pratt, Fletcher. BLUE STAR; et al.
Saberhagen, Fred. CHANGELING EARTH; et al.
Tolkien, J. R. R. THE HOBBIT; “Ring trilogy”
Weinbaum, Stanley
Wellman, Manley Wade
Williamson, Jack
Zelazny, Roger. JACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” series; et al.
The most immediate influences upon AD&D were probably de Camp & Pratt, R. E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, H. P. Lovecraft, and A. Merritt; but all of the above authors, as well as many not listed, certainly helped to shape the form of the game. For this reason, and for the hours of reading enjoyment, I heartily recommend the works of these fine authors to you.

I’ve not read all of the books on that list. Conan, Fafhrd & Gray Mouser, Elric, and the Lord of the Rings are all stories I’ve read and enjoyed. But I got to thinking about what I would add to that list if someone were looking to understand my ideas on fantasy and gaming. I’ll keep it to books, as the influence of television, movies, and video games would make this an unweildy list. Mostly I’m drawing from my childhood of the 70’s and 80’s to create this list of influences. I like a lot of newer stuff, but most of my ideas were fixed many years ago.
Alexander, Lloyd. “Chronicles of Prydain” series
Anthony, Piers. “Xanth” series; “Tarot” series; “Chthon” series
Brooks, Terry. “Shannara” series
Bulmer, Kenneth. “Dray Prescot” series
Chalker, Jack L. “Dancing Gods” series
Donaldson, Stephen R. “Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” series
Dumas, Alexandre. “d’Artagnan Romances” series; THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Eddings, David. “Belgariad” series; THE RIVAN CODEX
Feist, Raymond E. “The Riftwar Saga” trilogy
Foster, Alan Dean. “Spellsinger” series;
Gemmell, David. MORNINGSTAR; “Drenai” series; et al.
J.F. Rivkin, J. F. “Silverglass” series
Kirk, Richard. “Raven” series
LeGuin, Ursula. “Earthsea” series
Norman, John. “Chronicles of Counter Earth” series
Peters, David. “Proton” series
Rosenberg, Joel. “Guardians of the Flame” series
Stoker, Brom. DRACULA
Vardeman, Robert E. & Proctor, George W. “Swords of Raemllyn” series
Wrede, Patricia. “Lyra” series
Okay, I’ve got to stop. This list could go on and on… man I miss reading with the fervor I did in my younger years. The long and short of it is this; I found Appendix N to be entertaining and insightful. If you started gaming back in the 80’s you’ll probably like it.


The wedding of my sister-in-law to her handsome groom has come and gone. It was last weekend and I didn’t get around to mentioning it. Congratulations Josh and Kristen, I wish you many very happy years of wedded bliss. And Josh, I wasn’t kidding. That was a pretty swanky gala and I think it’d be great if you threw one every year! You know, for the family.
Thursday was the graduation ceremony for my youngest boy. The whole gang turned out to watch him walk and it went without a hitch, despite the heat and a stadium full of 18-year-olds and their parents. He made it out of high school and into world with only minor bumps and bruises. Now, despite the assertion that those were the longest, hardest, worst 4-years of a persons life (they’re not—that’d be middle school) it only gets more challenging from here on out. I wish him well and hope he finds his luck.
This weekend is the big summer kick-off. My mother-in-law is here. Summer is here. I cleaned up the patio and got the furniture set up and washed down. The grill is ready and waiting for me to make shish-ka-bob tomorrow. Because that’s what I want to do and it’s my Memorial Day. That’s why.
It’s a 101°F in my garage with the door open… I think I liked it better when I just thought it felt like a hundred degrees in the garage, now with the thermometer on the garage door opener I actually know it. Does not make things better.
So despite the 3-day holiday weekend, my math class is online, so no ‘day off’ from that. And if you needed proof that all this school has got me feeling the pressure. Here it is: arohenRPG. Yep, despite a 10-year hiatus from the pen and paper tabletop roleplaying stuff, I’m feeling the bug. So of course I had to waste some time on that by putting some of my old stuff together and creating a section of the website for it… probably not the best use of my time. But WtH, a guys gotta have some fun. You’ll find the link up at the top of the page if you’re into that kind of thing.

Welcome to my blog inside a blog.
This is the part of the website that will be dedicated to tabletop role-playing games, pen and paper gaming, or whatever else you want to call it. Mostly it’s a Dungeons & Dragons thing. Old campaigns. New campaigns. Maps and notes and ideas. I think you get the idea. I just felt this part of my life should have it’s own section of the website, as opposed to being mixed in with all the other arohen stuff.
Let’s see what happens.

It’s not a finished site. It may never be. I’m not making any promises about that, but it’s a thing once again.


Role-playing Resources

While it is most definitely a work in progress, I think it shows its direction fairly clearly. This time around it is neither a Dungeons & Dragons campaign site nor a fictional diary of an interplanetary traveler, though, it may well be both of those things at the same time. No. This time I’m using it as a repository and resource for all the clutter that has been accumulated and created by my  forty years in the tabletop role-playing hobby. As such it has many pieces and parts.
It has stuff from my campaigns (baenrahl, warlock’s cauldron, the skorr, shadow chasers, etc…), a blog focused on tabletop rpg related stuff (house rules, advice, reviews, etc…), and most significantly, to my mind, the idea is to open it up and make a community out of it. To allow other folks to contribute and participate in what it is and what it becomes. This probably wont happen, but it would be cool if it did.
For the most part, I’m not in the hobby anymore. I don’t play anything. I don’t run anything. But I do still enjoy a good bit of world building and setting creation and this gives me a place to share that along with all the stuff that inspires and influences me.
Will see how long this lasts 😉