- Gnome Stew - https://gnomestew.com -

Troy’s Crock Pot: The Eyes Have It

What’s the Crock Pot? Just a simmering bowl of lentils and herbs, with a dash of DMing observations. Don’t be afraid to dip in your ladle and stir, or throw in something from your own spice rack.

Wisdom score, check

I went in for my annual eye examination, and Doctor Mike told me that my vision had improved. “That sometimes happens when you get older,” he said. Really? I guess the Player’s Handbook had it right all along when it conferred Wisdom bonuses to the aging effects chart.

Square peg, round hole

I’m in my third decade of playing this game, and I’ll be dagburned if I ever draw a round tower on a map for my game. As long as I draw maps on graph paper, my towers will be square.

Don’t forget the Krylon primer

The approach of summer means it’s time to start painting miniatures again. You’d think it would be a great winter pasttime, being stuck inside and all. But for me, nothing beats sitting out at the picnic table and slapping paint on my minis.

26 Comments (Open | Close)

26 Comments To "Troy’s Crock Pot: The Eyes Have It"

#1 Comment By Ishmayl On May 14, 2008 @ 6:58 am

I learned the “Square peg, round hole” many years ago. 🙂 The closest I come is when I have hex-shaped graph paper, the tower will take on a slightly round-er shape, but never an actual circle.

#2 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 14, 2008 @ 7:33 am

OK, here’s a mini quiz for military history buffs who dig trivia: Why are round towers preferred to square towers?

#3 Comment By LordVreeg On May 14, 2008 @ 7:37 am

Nope. As soon as my lazy ass switched to mapping software, I got round towers.:p But not when I drew them myself.

And Troy, if you can still find time to paint your miniatures, more power to you. I’ve had to buy online specific plastic ones becasue I haven’t had time to paint the lead ones since ’88’. Though no more sniffing Krylon…But in that wise, let me also remind you of another throwback. Dice marker crayons.

#4 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On May 14, 2008 @ 7:37 am

Because curves are stronger than straights and corners.

I am quite possibly the only person in the history of my (admittedly small) high school to ever use a compass outside of geometry class. I used it to design round towers for my AD&D game, but hey, I used it.

#5 Comment By Martin Ralya On May 14, 2008 @ 7:41 am

@Troy: Round towers are preferable because their curved surfaces present no weak points and are more likely to deflect cannonballs. Square towers are weak at every corner, and a well-placed shot can seriously damage them (and lead to subsequent shots bringing them down entirely).

That’s why once cannon became popular on the battlefield, you stopped seeing fortifications with square towers (and can very roughly date castles by their tower shapes).

Good question! And I like the Crock Pot format — I hope we’ll see more of them.

#6 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 14, 2008 @ 7:44 am


Yes, curves are stronger. But against which tactic is this important?

BTW, my father is a retired geometry instructor. I’ve got access to a compass anytime I want it. But then I couldn’t be stubborn about my dungeon design. 🙂


I still have my pale blue dice with depressed numbers that you fill in with crayon. They’re still my favorite d20s.

BTW, what mapping program do you use?

#7 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 14, 2008 @ 7:49 am


Round towers were an important military innovation before the invention of the cannon.
We’re getting closer …

Glad you like what’s stirring in the crock pot.

#8 Comment By LordVreeg On May 14, 2008 @ 8:02 am

You still have those? Your miniature tangent got me thinking about the other things I used to do. I still have a pink and white 20 sided…though there are really no sides to speak of anymore.

I use autorealm normally, or autodesk for my small scale stuff.

#9 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 14, 2008 @ 8:13 am


That was a failing of plastic dice. I have plastic d10s from my Star Frontiers set that are just about shot from rounded corners. I don’t think anyone anticipated how devoted some gamers would be to such dice.

Please provide links to those Autorealm apps. Martin’s always interested in sharing DMing utilities with the community.

#10 Comment By LordVreeg On May 14, 2008 @ 8:55 am


Decent app, still being updated, and free.

#11 Comment By Martin Ralya On May 14, 2008 @ 9:09 am

@Troy: If I was off the first time, then I’ll have to make an educated guess: sapping. A sapper’s tunnel dug under the corner of a square tower during a siege will collapse the whole tower, whereas with a round tower there’s no comparable weak point.

I was so sure I was right the first time, too! 😉

#12 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 14, 2008 @ 9:31 am

We have a winner! Siege warfare tactics changed tower construction really fast. Of course, I did use the word “dig” when I posed the question.

But rarely is that an issue in a typical D&D adventure. Digging tunnels for months (even in game time) is not most folks idea of fun. So, square towers work out fine in most instances.

#13 Comment By Immolate On May 14, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

In before the first person says “I knew that”. Of course, I did know that. Corners are heavily build and heavily reinforced because they are the most important load-bearing part of a rectangular structure. This makes them more vulnerable to the force of nature that undermining depends upon: gravity. Corners are the fence-posts of angular towers, whereas in a round tower, the entire tower is the fence post. Convex surfaces, as noted, are also more resistant to force. Any force applied to the convex side of a thick wall compresses the materials. The more force, the more compression. There is a point where force becomes greater than compression, but it is much higher than the amount of force that would have to be applied on a span flat wall to affect a breach.

Curved walls also give every man on the top a good field of fire.

If you want to know what works against cannon-balls, however, look to the Spanish forts in Florida with their sharp angles and massive walls made from stone quarried from compressed shells. It may not be a renewable resource, but it eats cannon-balls nicely. The castillo in St. Augustine, Florida is a perfect example and well-preserved. Admittedly, it’s damned hard to undermind a castle built on sand.

#14 Comment By Immolate On May 14, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

My apologies for the many sloppy typos.

#15 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On May 14, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

Actually, I was thinking in general terms, not just cannon or sapping.

But I missed it on the basis of “unclear answer”.

#16 Comment By zacharythefirst On May 14, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

I have a few pieces I’d really like to paint this summer. My dream, along with winning Powerball and being able to lose money on my own gaming store comfortably for 2 decades, is to buy every Reaper mini I always wanted, hire a frickin’ pro to paint ’em (with the exception of a few I want myself), and have enough professionally painted minis to stage the Battle of Helm’s Deep if I so wanted. 🙂

Also, I would like the license for Greyhawk.

#17 Comment By Reverend Mike On May 14, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

Fun fact: The castillo in St. Augustine has never been taken by force, only through diplomacy…gotta love that cocina…

#18 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 15, 2008 @ 12:55 am

I remember that about Saint Augustine when my wife and I took a quick up-and-down tour of the Florida east coast several years ago. The thing that struck me was how small the rooms in the fort actually were. I mean, really small.

Immolate: You’re absolutely right about “eating” cannon balls. What an absolutely great description for that.

Telas: Did not mean to make you feel sad. 🙁 I acknowledged that you got the answer partly right. I say that everyone who took part in this round towers discussion gets a pepperoncini from the crock pot for playing! Pepperoncinis for everyone!

Hmmmmm, tasty!

#19 Comment By tallarn On May 15, 2008 @ 3:05 am

I too have resorted to plastic mini’s and downloaded counters rather than painting stuff.

But then, I am the person that used to declare that plain metal Games Workshop tanks looked “perfectly fine” on the tabletop…

#20 Comment By Bartoneus On May 15, 2008 @ 5:14 am

Troy: One big issue with this whole tower discussion is whether or not you’re referencing a tower in relation to a castle, or simply a tower on its own.

The sapping issue you mentioned is MUCH more pertinent to castles / towers than to the single tower you see on its own in pretty much any D&D game. Most singular round towers are found in Ireland and Scotland, and the biggest reason a lot of them are still standing is because the round shape provides the best resistance to the winds that they experience as they get up there in height.

The square peg – round hole issue is definitely a problem though, assuming that a single person fully occupies 25 square feet of space is definitely frustrating at times.

#21 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 15, 2008 @ 9:16 am

I was really thinking of a tower as part of a castle or other fortification.
Yeah, the stand-alone wizard’s tower really is a different animal.

You bring up an interesting point as referring to partial squares. Can you occupy a partial square? Or don’t those partial squares count? I’m curious, how do you handle those in your game? It’s certainly worth looking up in the rulebooks, which I think I’ll do right now.

Tallarn: I agree. An unpainted mini looks just fine on the tabletop.

#22 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On May 15, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

Partial square ballpark solution for D&D, using Medium critters:

If at least 2/3 of the square is open (GM’s opinion), it’s a square.

If 1/3 to 2/3 is open, it’s squeezing. 2x movement costs, -4 to both AC and attack rolls.

If less than 1/3 is open, it can only be occupied by a stationary figure. As above, but also considered Flat Footed.

Yes I am just making this up. Why do you ask? 🙂

#23 Comment By Bartoneus On May 16, 2008 @ 6:44 am

Simple solution? I discourage my players from humping curved walls.

#24 Comment By GeeksDreamGirl On May 17, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

Hooray for learning something new today!

#25 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On May 18, 2008 @ 12:00 am

Here’s what the SRD says about squeezing, which may or may not apply to the partial square issue. (For me, it would probably depend on whether the adjacent square was occupied. Logically, I can stand in a partial space and not be “squeezed.” But then, when did logic enter into D&D’s tactical rules.)
You can squeeze through or into a space that is at least half as wide as your normal space. Each move into or through a narrow space counts as if it were 2 squares, and while squeezed in a narrow space you take a -4 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to AC.

To squeeze through or into a space less than half your space’s width, you must use the Escape Artist skill. You can’t attack while using Escape Artist to squeeze through or into a narrow space, you take a -4 penalty to AC, and you lose any Dexterity bonus to AC.

Telas’ solution above is certainly in the spirit of these rules.

#26 Comment By penguin133 On August 8, 2008 @ 9:40 am

Round as opposed to square or angular towers appeared in castles for the two reasons cited, fields of fire – you need to “project” to fire ALONG the face of a wall – and because corners were areas of vulnerability and weak points, places where a wellplaced cannon shot or ram could take a bite from TWO walls. Same applied to a mine, of course, and given corners that spot would be hard to cover from either wall. For the same reason, stairs in towers went clockwise, so that in a siege the retreating defender’s swordarm was unhampered by the central pillar, while the attacker’s arm constantly fouled it. (I hope I don’t have that in reverse, I happen to be lefthanded!)
In space terms, it depends on what my character is doing? A Thief may hide in Shadows in a small space;if he moves or attacks it needs at least a 2/3 Space. This also depends on what a character is wearing or carring, bulky armour or encumbrance are dangerous,while chr. larger than human may be in serious trouble!