Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year, New Project

Time for an annual genre shift.  2017 was a year filled with fantasy.  My fantasy table is as complete as it needs to be and my fantasy figure tackle box is crammed almost to bursting.  The pair of long weekends for the holiday mean that I've had time to start in on a new sci-fi tabletop.  I also had time for a few games - check back here for links to full write-ups on one of the other blogs I contribute to.

I've always wanted to have a decent space station suitable for corridor fights, but never really found a system to my liking.  Rather than constantly wish I had the perfect battleground, I've decided to settle for a good one now rather than the best one ever.  I'll have a few more informative shots up later, but for now, here's a sneak peek at the terrain.

The fantasy figures were close at hand.  I've been toying with making this set-up genre neutral.  By painting it as caves, I think I can use set dressing to swap out between fantasy and sci-fi.  We'll see.  I like the idea of conduits and tubing and control panels affixed to the walls to really make this table shine as a science complex or spaceport.

Either way, 2018 is going to be a great year.  I'm looking forward to getting it started off with a bang!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Happy Boxing Day!

By now the boy has finally unwrapped his Christmas presents, so I can show you what he got without spoiling any surprises.  It's Warhammering Time!  He traded away some terrain a few years back and has been playing with ugly tan vehicles for some time.  He left them here when he went of for some colleging, which gave me the chance to sit down and spiffy them up a bit.  With these new paint jobs, he's going to be the belle of the Only War Ball.  Make sure you scroll to the bottom, that last paint job is complete aces.  Enough to bring a tear to the Emperor's own eye.

That's not great, let's zoom in a bit...

If you don't want to click for biggening, the left blade reads, "For Love of Suffer Not", and the right "Sic Semper Hereticus".

Turns out graffiti is half the fun of painting these things.  The Imperial Guard has the best fiction, really, just the best.


I actually painted up two troop carriers and two heavy tanks.


We Brake 4 Sororitas

Oh hell yeah, that turned out better than I anticipated.  Note that the Bloody Rose is one of the Sororitas chapters, specifically the one dedicated to maximum carnage.  I had more fun painting this little gal than should be legal.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Drone Sweet Drones

Two years ago, while travelling through upper Cali, I found these little guys inside the glass case of a comic/gaming/general nerdery shoppe called Bat Comics and Games.  At only a buck each and perfect for drones in 15mm scale, I snatched them up.  They had no identifiers, but that's not a problem for the hivemind over at the Lead Adventure Forum, and within a day they were IDed as Boppers.

According to the ancient texts, these little guys go way back to the METAGAMING days.  They were originally designed for use with a game called RIVETS - one I've never played, but one that looks fun nonetheless.  Looks like I got a Jack Bopper, two Rocket Boppers, and a Tiny Bopper.  Cute little guys, and the perfect size for drones or even as parked 'bots usable as cover.

These four little guys will probably be pressed into service as some sort of automated security or cleaning drones for use with my next project.  It's a real doozy, and you're going to be suitably impressed.  If the holidays are quiet, I hope to show you a whole new gaming board the first week of January.
The lovely spokesmodels shown for scale are Khurasan's Grav Armor crew with the ridiculously long silencers at the end of their barrels snipped down to a more reasonable length.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bowling Green? #NotAtMyTable

With apologies to the Ohioans out there - it might be a fine university, but a bowling green makes for a bland wargaming table.  With very little room left in my One Fantasy Box to Bind Them All And In the Dark Closet Rule Them, grand topographic chances are off the table (heh).  That doesn't mean we can't spruce things up with some nice terrain blocking templates that also help to funnel figures around and even make for some interesting defensive challenges. 

These three small hillocks were carved out of one plain round piece of Styrofoam picked up for a couple bucks at the craft store.  The slopes are just low enough to allow figures to stand almost anywhere on the terrain piece, and they were painted to match the hill on which the Nameless Tower stands - a small touch that helps unify the table theme.

As you can see, the overall elevation difference is less than 15mm including the terrain base, so they can be treated as a linear obstacle for climbing purposes, or the players can agree that they are not to scale, and that these little cliffs actually block all movement.  In that way you can even have a couple of short canyons to funnel troops through. 
Oh man, I'm working on something big right now, but I can't show you what it is.  A huge project compared to my usual, but I don't want to ruin the surprise for my players, so posting might be lighter than usual here despite increased output.  Maybe I'll be able to share the photos with you as a Christmas Surprise.  If you don't already follow this blog, now's a good time to subscribe so you don't miss it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Deepest, Darkest Elfrica

Who doesn't love a good fight against the dark elves?  Especially when Splintered Light makes such distinct and characterful figures!  The first four figures are the Personality Pack, and give you four unique NPC style bosses.  Rather than the usual purple dress, I went with a fall-time red and orange coloring.

I also bought one pack of blade dancers.  These guys come in a pack of twelve with three different sculpts.  You wouldn't know it from looking at these eight figures.  Simple arm bends give each of these eight figures a different look - if you look closely you can see which ones are twins, but they'll still look great on the table.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  A better blog host would have had a nice Solomon Kane figure painted up.  Perhaps a cornucopia of fields and gardens can make up for it?

It's late autumn, just after the crops are in and the table fully dressed.  The crops are just MDF covered in sand.  Took two or three applications to get those furrows looking right, but it paid off.  They demarcate rough ground, but don't hamper figure movement in the least.

The rock wall is just fish tank gravel carefully stacked one at a time until it was high enough to represent a decent sized wall.  The giant leafy greens are small plastic flowers painted in bright green.  They transform that slab of terrain from a merely empty field to a corner garden. 
Here's another sneak peek at the completed dark elves, too.  Full shots up on Monday.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bringing Out More Dead

My tombs were heavy on the physical dread and light on the spiritual dread, so I fixed that with a little help from Splintered Light.  Their ghostly packs sell packaged in numbers suitable for big battle games rather than skirmishes.  So I added a chunk of lead to my never-to-be painted mountain.

Being a rather clever fellow, I also turned a few of these single sculpts into different monsters through the expedient of different paint schemes.  In addition to standard black, I painted a handful up in a LotR ghastly greenish glow.
Here's a slightly better side by side comparison.  The contrast is even more stark in person.  So the black robes can serve as more skeletons or wraiths, and the green guys can be ghosts or shadows or something equally impervious to less than silver or magic weapons.

I also found this towering skeleton giant in a bag of twelve plastic toys for sixty cents the day after Halloween.  I picked the best looking figure and simply mounted and painted him - didn't even need to trim any flash - and look how he towers over that dark elf (spoilers for my next post!).

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Giant Update

Light on the texts, but heavy on the heavies, here's how Splintered Light's hill giants stack up against a typical (Ral Partha Europe) figure.

I like this size.  Big enough to be a threat, but not comically so.  And the animal skin and skull necklace, and the weird proportionality of their limbs, make these two a much better representation of the fantastic than just using a 28mm figure.  (Which I've done, but never really liked the look of.)

No idea the size difference between these and the other giant-kin on offer, though.  I never really liked the breakdown in giants in traditional D&D.  It always felt a little artificial to me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Devil Dogs!

Just in time for Halloween, here's a pack of great big Devil Dogs from Splintered Light miniatures.  They are listed as Dire Wolves, but I decided to give them a considerably more demonic cast.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Having fun painting up a few more critters for the tabletop.  Here's a few fun owlbears for your dining and dancing pleasure.  If you ever wanted to know how big Splintered Light's owlbears are, here's your chance to find out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ten Foot Pole - The Best Adventure Site Around

Like many writers, my first real storytelling experiences came about through tabletop RPGs. Like many gamers, I found the fiction sections included with most RPGs to be wasted space. Even worse were the needlessly convoluted backstories to otherwise simple adventures, and despite (or perhaps because of my) owning and reading more than a few issues of Dungeon Magazine back in the day, I was never able to use the adventures to run more than one dog's breakfast of a campaign.

For the most part, things have only gotten worse since the 1980s. Luckily for us, one man is fighting to change all of that and elevate RPG adventure design out of the muck of 'failed fiction writer' and into the stratosphere of 'actually useful at the table when running a D&D session'.

Bryce Lynch is the best adventure reviewer out there. I've bought a fair few adventures from the fine folks at DriveThruRPG based on his recommendations. And now he has a summation of all the things that went wrong (and a few that went right) at Dungeon Magazine in his Final Retrospective.
I have review standards and strong beliefs on what makes a good adventure. First and foremost it has to be useful to the DM at the table while they running it. This is the primary purpose of every adventure ever written, even if the designer didn’t understand that fact. You can use it as inspiration, steal parts from it, or use it as a doorstop if you want, but, judged as an adventure, it has to be useful at the table. My standards are VERY high.
Bingo. The best backstory in the world is useless if you can't find the relevant information within seconds of being asked by the players.
Dungeon Magazine is an abject failure in this regard. It is VERBOSE. Mountains of backstory, mountains of room text. All of it fights the DM running it at the table. If you are including something in the main text then it has to be directly useful for play. If it’s not then it needs to be removed or moved to an appendix where it can be ignored. Dungeon Magazine didn’t do this. It reveled in useless detail. A LONG room description that describes a trophy room, all of the trophies and accomplishments, and then ends “but it was long ago looted and now nothing remains but dust.”
I remember that adventure, though not that room description. That adventure marked the moment in which I gave up on Dungeon Magazine. Even at the tender age of 16, unable to identify WHY, I could at least recognize that the time had come to turn away from 'modern' published adventures.

Go read the whole thing. If you've ever thought about publishing adventures, it's well worth it. The 'Best Of' list can be skipped, but his break down of what makes an adventure work is Plinkett-ian.

[Crossposted from]

Monday, October 23, 2017

Game Time - King of the Hill

With the new and improved 15mm fantasy table largely completed, it's time to break out the miniatures!  With a little help from my lovely assistant, we threw together a small force of seven human defenders trying to keep an ogre and his goblins out of town.  The ogre wanted to get his shaman into the cemetery to perform some blasphemous rite, and the humans wanted to stop them.  The game was a simple 300pt battle using the excellent Song of Blades and Heroes rules.

The basic flow of the fight.
The local lord took his retainers out to investigate a diversion, but returned in time to find the ogre chief and his minions just sneaking into town.
Returning to town
Although badly outnumbered, the humans had the advantage of better motivation and leadership.  They seized the initiative and never really let go.  They quickly raced up and took hold of the cemetery, which denied the goblins a key advantage.  Had they grabbed it first, their shaman would have made for a powerful piece of artillery during the fight.

The ogre made the tactical blunder of sending his troops in piecemeal instead of waiting and slowly marshalling his forces.  His vanguard was meant to slow down the humans, but just wound up getting destroyed by a combination of flanking fire followed by a hammerblow of melee.

By the time the big man himself could get into the action it was too late to do anything except get swarmed.  Four on one isn't a fight anyone is likely to win in SoBH.

And brought low by the weaker but better coordinated humans.  His goblin champ never got within smelling distance of the fight.  None of the goblins on the wings could muster the gumption to move into town, which meant the ogre basically traded away his one advantage.  He should have left them lumped together and used marching orders to get them all stuck in and swarming the humans.  A valuable lesson for the next game of SoBH.

Friday, October 20, 2017

All Together Now

Time for a table reveal!  Now that the basics of my fantasy table are done, we can see what the whole thing looks like when put together.  Let's start with a cluttered town setting.

Downright bucolic, ain't it?

The kind of streets ready to run red with blood.

Nothing fancy, just a solid and attractive table.
Curious to see what else we could do with this box of terrain, I threw down a wizard tower isolated in the deep woods.  Whoever built it knew about the ley lines tapped into by ancients, which explains why it's so close to the ruined temple.  He was also smart enough to keep running water between his home and that fell ruin.

From the north

From the south

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Tower Generica

Even with all of the additions, my table was looking a little bowling-green-esque.  To add just a little bit of topographic interest to things, I elected to mount my local tower keep (courtesy of Kallistra) on a small, defensible mesa.

Front and approach.
To keep things nice and generic, I opted for a simple crusader cross on the pennants.  Those could easily be left gray, but I wanted a little splash of color to break up the solid wall.
The other side.
Houston, we have a table.  Time to figure out what rules/figures!

I actually broke out all of the terrain and set it up for my daughter to zoom her matchbox cars around on.  The pictures didn't turn out, though, so you'll have to wait for the weekend.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tavern on the Green

Alternative Armies has a great line of single piece resin buildings, but they seem more geared for town life than the bucolic village that I've been assembling.  Of course, any village worth its salt will have a decent tavern for the local yokels and the passing murder-hobos looking for a map to buy.

These pieces are even more undersized that the church.  Again, we're looking for representative terrain pieces here, not perfectly scaled.  This particular piece should match my houses very well - they all have that Germanic timber frame and plastered walls look.

I have one more building to finish and then I'll break everything out and see how it all looks when put together.  Maybe I'll even get a game out of the set-up!