R.I.P. Blaine Gibson – Disney Imagineer

Today, I saw a post on my sister’s FB wall that our maternal grandmother’s cousin, Blaine Gibson, died.

Many don’t know his name, but he is a credited artist in several Disney cartoons: Fantasia, Bambi, Song of the South, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and others.

His desire was to always be an animator, but when Walt Disney found out that his hobby was sculpting, Walt made Blaine the chief sculptor.

Blaine always sent hand made Christmas cards to my dad and others, with sketches of him walking his dog in the snow. He also sent a nice color sketch to my parent’s for their 40th Anniversary.

As a sculptor, his first famous work was the head of Abraham Lincoln for the audioanimatronic exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair. He went on to do the heads of all the presidents, except Obama, and came out of retirement to add H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and G.W. Bush. His apprentice did Obama. My mom’s favorite story from Blaine about creating all the audioanimatronic heads was the response from a glass eye manufacturer when asked for pairs of glass eyes. The mere idea was absurd and took some convincing that it was a serious request.

He also did the sculpture, Partners, that has Walt and Mickey holding hands.

The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other figures also relied on his sculpting talent.

I wonder how many more of the rides and attractions with your sculpted heads will be made into movies?

Hall of Presidents? Partners?

Way back in fourth grade we had to write a letter to someone and have them write us back. Getting a letter back from a real Disney artist with a sketch of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on official Imagineer paper was a big hit. I wish I still had his letter. I do still have the sketches.

Cousin Blaine will be missed. He was the last of his generation on that side of the family.

As the keeper of the family tree started by my parents, it is with sadness that I enter the last piece of information about Blaine. He is survived by his son and grandson, who will miss him most of all.

Mickey Sketch
Mickey Sketch

Several news outlets mentioned him:






He doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page, but has an IMDB and d23 pages, and is mentioned on lots of other Wikipedia pages.












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New Monster – Felt Golem

I was trying to come up with an idea for a new monster. I looked next to where the dogs sleep, and saw how much they shed. I made a comment that there was enough hair to knit a couple of new dogs and cats. One dog is “mine” – actually my youngest son’s. The other dog and the cats belong to my oldest son and his girlfriend.

Instead of knitting, I thought of making felt and then filling a felt body with loose hair.

I know that the Mongolian nomads make felt from horse hair for their tents and clothes. Felt can be made of any kind of hair.

Such a golem would be susceptible to fire, but would otherwise have the characteristics of the animal from which it is made. If made from the hair of multiple animals/sources, it would have multiple characteristics.

For example, plant fiber fabric, such as cotton, or linen, also can be felted. Bits of fabric separate when washing. How about a dryer lint golem? It would be made of cotton, and artificial fibers.

If the hair of a dog, a felt golem of larger than normal size could be constructed. Add hit dice and damage capabilities based on your rule set of choice.

Gather the hides from slain animals with fur to make any manner of felt golem.

They would move silently, being made of a soft fabric.

If combined with amber for the eyes, they could have an additional attack similar to shocking grasp, say once per turn.

Can you imagine a woolly mammoth golem with a trampling and goring attack, plus a shock attack?

If attacked with electrical attacks, it would allow them to be re-charged and make an extra shock attack.

That cute life size grizzly teddy bear will rip your arms off!

How about a room full of the things?

Lions, tigers, and bears! Oh yeah!!

How about a hell hound felt golem! The possibilities are endless!

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Today is Independence Day in the United States. We celebrate with parades, picnics/barbecues, festivals, carnivals, and fireworks.

How does the town that is home base for your players celebrate its founding, or other secular or religious days?

Are there any nationwide celebrations? Are their similar yet different celebrations and traditions in neighboring nations?

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

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The Journey Home

I traveled home yesterday by car, about 8 hours of driving from south central Illinois to south of Kalamazoo. It was interstate and highway all the way. I took a couple US and state highways for a bit to go around/avoid construction. I got to thinking about a journey of that distance in D&D.

I think it was like 350 miles or so, maybe closer to 400. At ten miles a day, walking would take 40 days! If you have ever walked 10 plus miles in a day you know how sore your feet are, if you are not used to it. If you carry a pack or any gear, you know how tired you are. Imaging doing that all the time.

When characters are walking for miles on end, we need to keep in mind the need for them to stop and rest, to avoid exhaustion. We should also keep in mind that a character with a lower constitution might have trouble staying awake for a watch. Lack of enough food and water can make one weak and more prone to dozing off as the body conserves energy.

I’m not arguing for complicated rules and tables to track this, just keep in mind if there is an encounter while traveling and it happens before they can take their next rest during their daily travel, they might be exhausted sooner. Of course, if they have enough food and water and are not injured, sick, or exhausted for some reason, such as running, they will have a natural resistance to being worn out. However, any characters with a low constitution would be hard pressed to maintain a normal/standard pace.

Age also has an effect. When I was a teenager I used to mow lawns in the high heat and humidity of Missouri summers. I would mow on days it wasn’t really safe to do so, and as long as I drank enough water, I was fine. Now, 30+ years later, I mow my yard and on hot days, I am spent if I don’t take it slow and stop to get plenty of water and a snack to keep me going.

Again I think these don’t need complicated mechanics. Just keep these in mind, for those times it makes sense. If the party has no random encounters and plenty of food and water, and gets enough rest, it won’t be an issue. Just apply the effects if they are short or out of supplies, injured, running for their lives, or short on rest.

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Roll 20 On The Road

Roll20 and Google+ make a good combination for remote gaming. I play in a regular Wednesday night AD&D campaign, we his Session 63 last night. This was the second time I had to be on the road for work, and use the hotel wi-fi to get online so I could play.

Different towns, different hotel chains, different wi-fi experience. It works, it lets you get by, but it is a challenge sometimes. I could spend a lot of money for anywhere access via a national phone company, but it would be a waste of money most of the time.

The things technology allows us to do and the ease it can bring to finding a gaming group is wonderful, but the inconsistency of internet access when on the road makes it a challenge.

At least I have the option to do it, even if I had to juggle my schedule so that I am in a motel so I can play, instead of travelling on game night. It’s not that big a stretch, I’m not driving until 2 or 3 in the morning to get home. It’s not worth it. I tried sleeping and driving once, I don’t recommend it. I’m also trying to get completely over being sick, not relapse.


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Dirk Derringer And The Hartufan Plot

+Matt Jackson has quite the writing talent and is generating a Science Fiction pulp serial, with an obvious White Star influence. He is publishing it both on his blog and a site called Wattpad.

I am honored that my encouragement to write more has helped him to come up with more ideas.

My recommendation is to go read this serial!

He can write and make cool maps!

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Work, Work, Work

Last week got crazy with last minute preparations to go out of town to train a client, and trying to get over the bug that’s going around.

I don’t have much to write about for the blog, except that I have more ideas and things on the back burner than I seem to be able to get to. The internet at the hotel was particularly difficult to connect to so I could write this post and maintain my daily posting.

I am finally mostly over the cold or whatever it is. My ears are still a bit full, but I’m not coughing so hard I pass out when I do cough. I’m still tired, but now I actually feel like doing something.

Training today went well, and the data entry the client did is done and we verified it and I didn’t have to bring any work back to my room  tonight!

I ran by the local Wal-Mart and they had sheet protectors, so I got a package of 100.

I picked up some other odds and ends and had some ideas for the various games/campaigns I am working on/thinking about/planning.

I tried watching TV in my room. I don’t have regular TV at home. It was all ads and very little worth watching, and to think I was contemplating giving cable another try. I don’t miss it. It gives me more time to do other things.

Well, time to wrap this up and see how much I can get done before I need to get to sleep.

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An Example Of Creative Spell Use

Back in college, one of my room mates was DM for an established group. I was allowed to play and run a “version” of my character from my Brother Robert’s game. I couldn’t take the XP from his game and then add more XP from my brother’s game.

He ruled that Griswald showed up by some sort of inter-dimensional travel.

As a half-elf Fighter/Cleric/Magic User, he could do a lot of things. I don’t recall what levels he was in each class at the time, but he had levitate and fly, so he was at least 5th level as a magic user.

For some reason, the party split up to cover more ground. The group I was with was on the beach of the island we were exploring. I don’t remember if we were being chased, or something would happen to us if we didn’t get away from the beach fast. One of the party was a dwarf and could not run fast enough to make it. I think one or more of the party was unconscious.

I decided to cast levitate on the dwarf to neutralize his weight, and cast fly on myself so that I could move everyone quickly. As I recall, there were three of us.

The image of a flying half elf pushing a levitating dwarf with someone else hanging onto him gave the other players a great laugh. It may have been ridiculous, but it was effective.

One need not have a lot of spells that do damage to be effective in life or death situations. Defense, getting away, and information are just as powerful if played right, and the DM is in tune with what you are trying to do.

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An Example of Yes

A couple days ago, I wrote about The Fun Is In Yes! Today, I’ll give an example that shows how invisible this can be to players.

In my face to face campaign with my sons and the girlfriend of my oldest son, they kill creatures and skin them, decapitate them, etc. and then have things made.

For example, due to really bad rolls when they encountered a minotaur returning to its lair, it could not hit them and they killed it. Being a large and impressive monster, they took its head and brought it back to town. They wanted to take it to a taxidermist and have it mounted.

When I created the town, I had generated the different businesses and skills available in town. A taxidermist was not one of them. However, since the town is on the marches between the kingdom and the ancient abandoned city, and serving adventurers is one of its industries, it made sense to have a taxidermist. So I picked a name and decided what part of town the shop was in. They haggled with the owner over a price, and arrange for a time to pick it up.

They go back a few days later, just to check on progress, only to find a crowd gathered around the taxidermist’s shop. It turns out that the taxidermist was charging  to give people a chance to look at this head in progress. All the normal benches and things in the shop were cleared out to focus on this one head and allow as many paying onlookers as possible. This little twist greatly enhanced their enjoyment.

The agreement was to mount the head on something to make it easy to mount on their wagon behind the seat and above the heads of the driver and passenger. This sight alone makes an impression on less powerful foes they encounter. They later added an ogre head to their wagon display, prepared by the same taxidermist.

They fought two giant weasels, who again couldn’t roll to hit, and how their heads and hides are hooded cloaks.

I am sure, if we ever resume play, that they will skin and decapitate more creatures to add to their collection.

The twist of adding an unplanned NPC expert hireling increased the fun for both the players, and me.

There was no good reason not to bring the taxidermist into existence. Had I said, “No”, the mental image of two preserved monstrous heads mounted on a wagon, with a driver and passenger wearing giant weasel cloaks would not exist. That’s part of the fun of the collaborative storytelling that is RPG’s.



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Character Sheet in a Sheet Protector

I have mentioned using sheet protectors to cover things so you can make notes with either dry erase markers or grease pencils. I shared my Spell Slot Tracker idea, and my Troop/Horde Tracker idea.

Today, I just mention character sheets. With all the the erasing and re-writing that can occur, they can become a mess.

I developed my own way of preparing an AD&D character sheet, whether I used notebook paper and hand wrote it, or took the same format and typed it up. When it is in a sheet protector, I can make temporary notes, and only make changes that are long term or permanent after the session. For example, a level change with requisite level title, and change in mas hit points.

In the online game I play in on Wednesdays, I use the form fill-able PDF our DM gave us, so I print that out and make notes. I need to get more sheet protectors because I have been writing and erasing a bit on it.

I use a separate sheet for tracking experience points and money, since those are the things that change the most often.

As a player, I recommend that when you are a player, that you are organized and have all the information you need at your finger tips so that the game is not delayed while you fumble with papers.

As a GM, I recommend that you suggest ways for your players to be organized, even giving them examples, or mandating they use a certain form, if they are never ready. Especially with online play, there are so many other potential interruptions, by weather, family & pets, phone calls, trains [I live near the tracks], technical issues, etc. that anything to minimize difficulties and interruptions will have big dividends in the long run.


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Ramblings of an Old Gamer