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Dungeons and Dragons, My Beginnings


I am one of those guys.
I grew up in the 70′ s and discovered Dungeons and Dragons, which I played heavily thru the eighties and lost track of it in the nineties.  My first glimpse of it was a blue paper bound and stapled rule book from TSR games  my brother left on his desk. I read it and wondered “what sorcery is this?  It was followed quickly by his copy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Player’s handbook. A singular work with incredible art work and a cover that still fuels my imagination today. For me, other role playing games followed , such as TSR’s Boot Hill, Gamma World and Top Secret, but D&D was always king of them all.B2571A08-7479-4348-BAF8-DDA2CA0B5BFB

You have heard all this before.
No one else played the game. In a world where my nerdiness was not cool, or even tolerated it was difficult to find other players.  I created epic adventures that never were played by others. Occasionally I was able to join a game in the city or cobble together  some friends to play for a day here and there. Those were incredible days, planning the adventures for weeks ahead, anticipating game day like a holiday. The game gave my imagination room to roam. The game set in motion so much of my direction as an adult that I never realized until looking back at it now. When I played role playing games I could be in control of a creative world and learned how to work with others, troubleshoot and problem solve in the most creative of ways.

After commanding and shaping so much of my life as a teen, my artistic focus, my travels and love of history, D&D slowly faded away and I lost track of my vast collection of notes, artwork, books and modules. Lost to time.


Until one day.
One day a few years back, right as the D&D 5th edition was getting rolled out. That day my son and I were in our local comic shop and he said the magic words”  dad, I really want to learn to play D&D”……..WHAT!! My brain screamed. What did he just say? We had watched a few d&d podcasts over the years , mostly marveling at the costumes and  listening to the jokes they told while playing,  inwardly I would marvel at the fact the game had survived. I had never really reflected or talked to my son about how important the role playing game had been to me.

Cut to that day in the store –  ever so coolly I replied to him, ” yeah, D&D…that’s still a thing?”
“Yeah,” he said, ,” I’ve watched a ton of podcasts of  game play on line.”
Ahhh….the internet.
They had a four sided kiosk in the store with a ton of D&D and Pathfinder game stuff on it.

We walked out of the store that day with the 5e players handbook and dungeon masters guide and a bunch of dice. Always dice.

The rest as they say, is history. It turns out, nerdiness is quite cool these days.

D&D it turns out is an even bigger imagination builder, community making adventure building powerhouse than ever before.

Shortly thereafter my son dreamed up a company and online community called NerdzGarage. Among other things they have been playing D&D at NerdzGarage for 18 months nearly every Sunday, now live streaming to YouTube and Twitch. There is also a lot of tabletop game play, anime, cosplay, conventions  and video gaming.

I occasionally play, I am constantly painting new mini figs and building terrain and ships and castles. I am along for the ride as NerdzGarage grows, writing about D&D,  collecting and writing about comics and playing tabletop games.

Earlier this month I was in Augusta, GA on business and got the call,  ” we need a storm giant figure for Sunday”

Me: Hey SIRI,  find a comic and games shop near me….

Come on along and  join us.


@nerdzgarage on the twitter, instagram and facebook

— This recollection by Nerdz Garage Head of Acquisitions  and Master Builder,  Derek “Jimmy” Smith


Storm Giants and Comic Book Shops

Nerdz Garage has 2 D&D 5E campaigns running right now that alternate Sunday’s depending on which Dungeon Master is available.  They go live each Sunday at 5 o’clock, est on Twitch.  Last week Dylan was the DM for his continuing Heist campaign,  the current arc is ” Water Heist ” using the new seafaring rules from the Ghosts of Salt-Marsh.


I was on the road last  week and Dylan knows that I take a mobile mini figure painting station with me for when I am not working and at the hotel. He gave me some furnishings and barrels to paint that he needs as scenery for this Sunday’s adventure. He let me know this morning that a particular rare figure he had ordered was not going to make it in time for Sunday and could I look around for one on the road….

Heading into Augusta GA that afternoon with time to kill, I set off on my mission. With a little help from google I zeroed in on a shop, Cardboard Castle Games. Quiet on a Thursday afternoon, they were helpfully enough but did not have what I needed. They did have some more miniature barrels and furnishings so I bought these and headed to a comic store they recommended, Top DogComics.                       




An amazing little store to say the least. Staying on mission, l made a note to return sometime and delve into their collection. After a great conversation with the owner about the comic store community in general, I headed to his  recommended store, Augusta Book Exchange. The sign outside says it all.  Uncommon for a game or comic shop they had a thirty foot sign out front hailing to one and all that their island of nerd is there. Said sign also looking 40 years old.


Jackpot! This place has everything and is worthy of a full afternoon browse or an evening to avail oneself of a game table. Super kind folks and they had an epic cloud giant figure , which will easily do as a storm giant once painted…by Sunday!

Derek Smith

Nerdz Garage

Frank Miller’s Ronin, 1983 and D&D



I went to my Local Comic Shop yesterday and my guy there said, “ Hey, you might like this trade (paperback) it’s a re release of Frank Millers series, Ronin from the eighties.”

I turns out, I love it.

The cover of DC’s re release of Frank miller’s Ronin series (1983).


I was in Burlington for the day to play some A D&D at a meetup in the public library. I was a bit nervous, going to play with total strangers. Would they let me play? Would they like me? Would I be good enough? Typical teen angst I guess, but it was my angst. Turns out, The answer was yes to all those questions, D&D has always been an accepting community. But I digress.

To kill time and calm down I went to a nearby arcade for a while and then to a comic book shop, Earth Prime.  I was browsing ( I had no more money to spend, I had bought some new D&D stuff and the rest was gone on arcade games) my usual books, Batman, Superman and Sgt. Fury when the counter guy interrupted.

“You might like this, I saw the D&D books in your bag.”, he said by way of explanation.

What he handed me changed my world. . It was book 2 in Frank Millers “Ronin “ Series , a short run 6 issue DC comic.  Only it wasn’t a comic. Not like Superman , Spiderman or anything else I had ever read. It was Gritty, had a real story and the art was out of this world. I loved everything about it. And, Samurai. Say no more. I already liked Samurai but this put me on the hunt for everything Samurai, Movies Books, games, everything.

As far as comic books go, it changed my world. I Understood with reading that one book (in the store without buying it) that comics were more than classic super heroes, that they were a vehicle for storytelling , archetypes and multiple layers as much as any novel. I just had to find the people that were making those comics.

From that I walked over to the public library, early, and found the room for “Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Game Meetup, 12:00 – til Closing (8:00 PM). The door was closed and I opened it to find 6 kids already there. The looked up from the table and in an instant sized me up and Cheered, “ Hey! We have a seventh!” Getting up to welcome me. They didn’t even know me.

“What’s your Name” “ What class do you play” “We have two Dwarves and an Elf” “A Druid and a Paladin, and a thief” “How long have you played” and on it went…I was instantly a part of this group and the Dungeon Master Looked me in the eye after everyone had settled, “ Welcome to the rest of your life, Derek. Your Party will be searching for a lost Tomb today, What Race and Class do you want to play as?”

“Samurai” I said , with only the hint of a nervous question.He laughed in a way only a Dungeon Master can,”  A D&D does not have a Samurai Class. Yet. We could design a class like that later on”.

So that day I went into the ”Tomb Of Horrors” with my brothers as a Human Ranger. I  lived and Fought as a Samurai  until the Library closed.


Derek Smith

Nerdz Garage

Naruto Multiverse Gx

Guest Contributors from Naruto Multiverse Gx Amino.

#1 Community For Naruto Roleplay Since 2016 with 3,272 Members!

Aku VS Madara

The Shape-shifting Master of darkness VS the new sage of sic paths

Written by Karma919

Pre-Battle Analysis


Aku is a fragment of a great evil that took the 3 highest gods of 3 mythologies to defeat. Aku fell to earth and began to infect the world (very slowly). Eventually the emperor of japan tried to destroy this infection, but freed Aku and now Aku could use his powers to their fullest. Aku has powers of shape shifting and his changes include but not limited to: Dragons, giant birds, altering size, giant scorpion, peak humans, and etc. The only weakness to his shape shifting is that he can’t change his color scheme. Aku also has laser eye beams that can destroy and create, telekinesis, elemental manipulation. Aku cannot be harmed by conventional means, weapons such as arrows and spears Aku can absorb and fire back, and while swords and axes can tear his form he can regenerate from this almost instantaneously. Only weapons of divinity or of great human spirit can kill Aku. Aku also has another weakness. His pride and cowardliness. Aku has been able to react to jack (who dodged a beam of natural light), but when fighting people, he thinks of as inferior he’s been shown taking multiple blows. Aku is also a coward, any time someone has a chance at beating him he tends to run away or send someone else to fight in his place. This is what largely lead to his defeat.



Madara the former head of the Uchiha clan, one of the most powerful clans to exist in the Naruto world. Madara even before becoming the New Sage of Six Paths was the considered the strongest Uchiha. In his weakened reanimated state he was strong enough to cut the tops off of a mountain range with his perfect Susano’o, reacting to a teleportation from the second hokage, and summon meteors from the sky. Madara also has the rinnegan, an eye that grants him the powers to create rod/chains to control or restrict chakra, control gravitational forces, absorb attack, and a hand full of other abilities. Madara after receiving the (incomplete) ten-tails and god tree, could produce light speed attacks and combat light speed reaction time. Six Paths Sage chakra is the chakra of the “gods” and is both divine and natural energy. This energy grants Madara regeneration, near immortality, and can only be harmed by natural energy or Taijutsu. With Six Paths mode Madara gained Orbs that could destroy on the atomic level, while also changing these orbs into anything he wanted, and the infinite-Tsukuyomi the most powerful illusion in the Naruto verse. Madara’s main personal weakness is his pride. Like Aku he won’t take fights too seriously and either fight with limited power or just send a clone to do the job.

Fight Rules

  • No outside assistance- (However the ability to summon monsters and the undead do not count so long as the user has complete control)
  • In character
  • Neutral Location: Battle field with corpses scattered around
  • No prep. Time
  • The final rule will be a limitation on Aku. He can’t send Madara into the future, as that would only delay the fight and not actually end it.


If the two were to meet they both would most likely boast about their superior power, Aku would raise the dead soldiers and Madara would summon a rinne-beast or a clone. Aku might be amused at someone that beat his undead armor and try to get him on Aku’s side. Madara would not be swayed and try to kill Aku with the orbs. Aku would twist and contort his body to dodge them. Madara would most likely attack with limbo clones to assault Aku. These invisible clones would pulverize Aku until he was filled with rage and turn into a monster or start decimating the landscape with his eye beams. Aku very angrily attacking with his claws would slash away Madara. Shredding the sage to nothing Aku would laugh “Yes! I have obliterated this false sage. Now on to the samurai.”. Aku’s eyes would resemble the rinnegan and be still as Madara absorbs Aku’s power and bind him with the divine tree while Aku is trapped with by the infinite Tsukuyomi. Aku is bound in an illusion of his victory.

Post Battle Analysis

Madara’s Infinite-Tsukuyomi was able to put the entire world under the illusion and the only ones safe were dead or had the rinnegan. Even if Aku couldn’t be controlled Madara has the rinnegan rods and chains to trap Aku. The rinnegan also allows Madara to rip souls from bodies and summon the king of hell. Madara’s sage energy might also be able to harm Aku. Now comparing their feats. While they’ve both been able to take down multiple armies and fight with light speed reaction fighter, Madara has the advantage in almost every other category. While Aku is a city or mountain buster at best  Madara is able to cut mountains casually with his perfect susano’o without direct contact with his sword, while a direct attack from Aku’s eye beams could only set a city on fire. In a weaker state Madara’s one limbo clone beat multiple mountain level beast with a single strike and when Madara got more powerful he could summon four clones at once. Madara has several kekkei genkai to choose from and not just the basic elements. Madara’s sharigan can see through illusions.  Now some may claim that Aku is a planet or galaxy level threat because three deities had to stop him. No, the Aku that jack spent the series fight is a small sliver of that creature and is now where near as strong. Since Aku can be harmed by human spirit and chakra is part spiritual energy, then it could be argued any chakra ability could harm him.

death battle.png


Reflections on 3D Animation

Dylan Smith's Mastery Journal

This is my first reflection of my time at Full Sail because it goes at warp speed. Everything I have learned from month one has been built on on each consecutive class. The layering of information has been overwhelming, but at the same time it is extremely well thought out and a good way for myself to learn.

I have been anxious to get to this class because I am finally taking all the parts I have learned and animating it!!! This class has taught me how to take the principles of last months 2D animation and put them to use and start 3D animation.

This project was the bouncing ball. It is the same one we did in 2D, but now it is 3D. I used the graph editor and felt pretty confident that I achieved  what was asked of this project.

This is my first pass at Smash Ball…

View original post 134 more words

NERDZ ILLUSTRATED #2 Han Solo and The Green Rabbit


by Derek Smith, Janitor at Nerdz Garage

So, having over the past few years renewed my love affair with Comics I began the task of cataloging the comics leftover from my youth. Some of these I had lovingly bagged and boarded as a teenager and are in fine shape, ready for display or reading today. Others are wrinkled and mangled showing the signs of the “love” I, and my brother and sister had for these books. Traded back and forth amongst ourselves, some are taped and wrinkled beyond recognition to any but ourselves.

I had a stack of five plastic moving boxes that had not seen the light of day (except for the occasional peek to be sure they were still there and not reduced to dust) since the late 90’s. As I sat and opened each box of treasure, each was a memory trip as I would see a cover from the past and remember moments with my Brother as we read them together in our room at the old farmhouse. Like turning a key, I Remembered the trips to our local store in Moretown, Vermont, a Petco Gas station that had a small section of comics next to the candy that my sister and I knew would have the most recent Richie Rich or Archie comic. 25 or 30 cents would get us hours of imagination and teleport us to their worlds. I love this about old comics, something as simple as the glimpse at a page, the smell of old comics or a torn cover and the memory of,” how that happened” will send me back every time.

Sitting and opening the five crates that have made every move with me (although mostly ignored over time) since the 1980’s, I started remembering comics that were not there.

Should there be another crate?

As I catalogued and searched I would be longing to see certain comics appear in the pile. Most of the Richie Rich were gone, missing. Where were all the Sgt.Fury’s, a favorite of mine and my brothers. I once bought an early edition of this and sent it to my brother in college. It cost me $20.00 back in the day, a small fortune.  The Fighting Army comics? My 1980’s avengers? The large format super-sized Star Wars #1 or the venerated Superman compendium of six memorized stories? The Marvel Star Wars with the green rabbit on the cover (what # was that)? All missing.

I catalogued the lot, checked the empty boxes and then repacked the books for the next move.  At some point, out of curiosity, I checked and neither my brother or sister had any of them. I always was the one who held on to things the longest.

Going to conventions and comic stores, I have always been on the look out to replace some of the more specific nostalgic treasures. Usually I am stymied not by price, but for the mere lack of not finding them. I once found a Sgt Fury #12 for $300 in VG (very Good) condition, I could not justify the cost for that memory it was fun to see, also knowing the one I used to have would not have been any better than Fair on its best day. I decided that most of those books would just remain happy memories of times gone past and good days of imagination.


This spring we moved, once again, to a new house. A drawn-out process preceded by many months of pre-packing and culling the flotsam and jetsam of five years in a house. Over time and many moves with a family you become very familiar with boxes, what each contains and to whom they are important etc.; We all knew fairly well the locations and contents of the household goods moving on to the new place. Everything was labeled and ready.

On the last move day, hot tired hungry and exhausted, filling the last load into the truck I headed to empty the last room in the house, my clothes closet. A catch all for everyone’s stuff on the floor and my 2 long racks for clothes and hats.  I began pulling out boxes and handing to my wife.  Suddenly I spied a box that could not be. It just couldn’t.

There, underneath an old suitcase was a box clearly labeled, “COMICS”.  It should not exist in this house, this reality.  I recognized it and knew its contents without opening. I turned to Suzanne and said slowly and carefully, “what’s this?”.

“A box of your comics, I must have put it there when we moved in. Totally forgot it was there”.

With this, you NOW know two things:

  1. I was not a lover of that closet, for five years, too full of stuff to use as an actual closet.
  2. I was so excited and happy at that moment I could have flown like superman or been as clever as Tony Stark.

However, I was so exhausted I smiled and mumbled something like, “wow that’s so cool I’ll have to open this 1st thing when we get to the new place”.


That, did not happen.

Life being the busy carousel that it is, I did place it with care under the shelves containing my growing collection of new editions and past classics. I did not dare open it for doing so would let the memories out and there is a huge time commitment involved with that. So, it sat for a month and a half 4 feet from my desk in plain sight, glowing red and burning holes in me every time I sat at the desk. Weeks went by, working on other projects for Nerdz Garage.

“Are they really in there?’, “Are they as wrinkled as I remember”, “are they readable”, “damaged”?

The Box stared back at me, burning. Until last night. I couldn’t take it anymore.

So, at 8 o’clock at night I dragged the box to the middle of the room, sat on the carpet like a kid at Christmas, not wanting my hopes to be dashed.

I opened the box.

First was the old book, old comic, smell that I associate with a farmhouse in Vermont and childhood.  And then, the cover removed from the box, I peeked and right on top, right where I had left them the last time (8 or 9 years ago?) I had closed it – was not only the 1977 large format Star Wars #1 that my Brother, Sister and I had spent untold hours reading and pouring our minds and imaginations into – but there with it was The Giant Superman book (of unknown origin from 1974!  My relief was such that I yelped with joy. Yes, Yelped.

Underneath were two tidy stacks of many books the back of my mind has been missing. The Star Wars #9 with the green rabbit and Han Solo on the cover, Countless Richie Rich and YES the missing 20 editions of GI Joe from the eighties including the Snake Eyes stories 26-31 that I treasured, the Sgt Fury’s and many more. Pure Joy in a box. I had written these off to time and now here they were.

These are important to me for the memories, most are so worn there is not a collector $ value to put on them, but that is not why I collect comics. I collect for the art, the stories and the memories. There are of course, some still missing. Archie, Betty and Veronica and what I remember as quite a few Star Wars editions are still out there, somewhere. For now, they and their associated memories are still in the back of my mind.



21 January 2017

Storytelling and Illustration

by Derek Smith, Janitor Supervisor at Nerdz Garage

By way of introduction to this new Nerdz Garage Blog about Storytelling and Illustration, I will say that I love all forms of these two things. That being, I am told, too broad of a topic to cover in a somewhat frequent blog posting I will narrow the focus. Let’s dial it in to the printed arena(with the possibility available to stray into the world of anime as it related to printed series).  Ok narrower still, the focus will be on the medium of illustrated narrative stories.



Graphic Novels.

Periodic tales illustrated in color or black and white.

The line blurs even further as we access Anime and other illustrated video content.

Ok? You get the picture?

I would have said, “Things you find in a comic book store”, but that sort of blows up again into once again too large and unwieldy of a subject matter.


I have always been mesmerized by a good story.  A story with pictures. Now there is something I can get behind. So here we are, blog number one.

Blog is a blunt term, not very sexy.  I think a better term for this narrative commentary might be Nerdz Illustrated #1.

Yeah. OKAY, Here we go…

As far as I am concerned we are living in the golden age of the illustrated medium of Comics, Manga and Anime.  I can go to a regular bookstore, a specialty “comic shop” and of course on The Web to find any number of incredibly crafted examples of great art and story craft.   These are not the days gone by where reading “a comic book” was only for children, and most of the story lines were, well, not very deep. The available choices were limited and reflected or typified the culture of the day.

No, today the freedom of creators to produce publish and circulate what they feel is important seems to be at a pinnacle in history.  Any type, any genre any flavor from stick figures to flowing abstract illustrations combined with storylines that are anywhere from one offs to series with no end in sight, Action Comics, featuring Superman, is nearing 1000 in one series alone. He is a constant. There are so many more, not to be so narrow as just one classic.   The list is endless from new content at the frontier —- space cowboys, spies, future universes and so on.

The access to this content is unprecedented. It is a great time to be a reader, a fan, a connoisseur, a collector and just to be alive.

That is how we at Nerdz see it.

What We are reading at Nerdz Garage right now:

A couple of selections at the top of our list:



Story: Jeff Lemire

Art / Cover: Dustin Nguyen

Published: March 4, 2015-


In the present day, I am fascinated by the Descender series from Image Comics by Lemire and Nguyen. I picked my first Descender book up at Awesome Con this past summer in Washington DC.  It was a random pick from a booth off the main traffic lane on the Con Floor. The cover art jumped out at me, Issue number one of the comic series.

It was not until I was on my flight home after the Con that I was able to dig into this title.  The art style drew me right in as did the story of an android, last of its kind(?), its race having been oppressed to near extermination out of another populations (humanity) fear. The story kicked off and by the end of this first issue, it left me wanting to believe in the good side of humanity and fearing the dark side of it as I reflected on the title of the series, Descender.

The story is powerful and brings to bear many ideas and concepts pertinent to our world today. This alone makes it a valuable comic.  The story set in a future where space has been conquered by humanity and the corporations seem to be kings is always a good place to start a fine sci-fi yarn.

Personally, I prefer to read and handle individual issues as they are released, or as I find them in back issues boxes. However, in this case, as soon as I returned home from the Con I ran straight away to my Local and pulled the available Trade Paperback compilations of Descender off the shelf as soon as I found they had none in back issues. I had to read all of it, right away.

I am not sure how this title escaped me for so long since its first publication in March of 2015, but I am on it now and better for it. And trust me, I have gobbled up thes rest of the series right up to the current edition,  Descender #20! Great stuff!

We give this one Nerdz Love, 5x (out of 5x).

This of course led me, as new finds often do, right down the rabbit hole to another title by Mr. Lemire who teamed up with Scott Snyder for, A.D. AFTER DEATH, BOOK 1.


Story: Scott Snyder

Art / Cover: Jeff Lemire

Published: November 23, 2016


This periodical book comes in a larger than average “prestige” format, magazine size, with a heavy cloth like paper cover. This alone draws me in. When I pulled this from the shelf of my local and opened it, I was instantly mesmerized by both the incredible artwork and the weaving of the story. Crazy good.  There is an eerie sketchbook quality to this piece that really works to its advantage and draws you in.  Art that makes me think and delve deeper into my own thoughts, more than normal, is a sure fire five-star hit.

On the image comics website, the lead for this book is “WHAT IF WE FOUND A CURE FOR DEATH?”


My only misgiving about this masterwork is that it is a limited run of three issues. All good things must end. I guess. I am very much looking forward to what these artists next have in store for us.

Read this Book!!! Nerdz Love 5x+ (out of 5x)(the + indicates an elevated level of Nerdz Love)..

That is all for now. Let us know what you think and by all means, share your comments and let us know what you are reading these days. We will be back soon talking more about Manga, Comics, our “local” and more!  Thanks for checking us out.


Derek and the gang at Nerdz Garage