Thursday, July 23, 2015

Westhead

This is Westhead, on the western side of the River Norflowd as it exits Roddenberry Gorge. There was originally a matching head carved into the cliffs on the eastern side of the river as well, but it has weathered away to the point of being virtually indistinguishable from a natural mountain-side.

It is one of the most southerly of the great stone heads carved into the hills of the Headland. There is only one further south than this, at Southead.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Green Screen Experiment

 I thought I'd try a bit of an experiment in photographing miniatures.

I bought a sheet of fluoro green card to use as a green screen, and tried it out with this Reaper Ettin. Then I removed the background using Photoshop's colour range selection.

It was not a complete success, though to be fair it was a pretty bodged-together job, and it might be better with a bit more forethought and effort.

I would need to adjust the lighting to remove as much shadowing as I can for a start, though that doesn't address the biggest problem, which is colour reflection on the model itself. It would also be useful to be able to take spot light readings, but my camera isn't really that clever — I'd have to adjust exposure manually, by trial and error, or else rely on its bracketing feature (which I'd have to set manually anyway).

With green screen
Green background removed


Levels and saturation adjusted, layer defringed, new background added.

It hasn't been a worthless experiment by any means. I'm not precisely sure how to deal with the reflection issues, but possibly a variety of background colours to suit individual subjects might be a solution? maybe.

Hmmmm..... one thought occurs to me: perhaps if I bring the model forward, out of the immediate reflection zone, and put it on a green-painted pedestal so that I retain the green background without contaminating the model itself? It's worth a try I think.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Shit!

Shit!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rust Monster

Last Reaper miniature for the day is this one. I think they call it an Oxidation Beast, presumably so as not to anger the Litigation Gods, but to me it is clearly a Rust Monster.

Intellect Devourer

Another plastic figure from Reaper. I don't know what they call it, but it looks a bit like the old D&D Intellect Devourer to me, so that's what it shall be.

Plastic Basilisk

This is a quickie paint-up of the Basilisk from Reaper's Bones Kickstarter II.

I don't know what the product number is because it's yet another mini from that collection that isn't yet available in their online store, and I can no longer be bothered trying to find it in their preview gallery because its 'search' functionality is, frankly, garbage. They are really stretching out the general release of the KS-II minis; in my opinion, too far. Much too far.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Random Name Generators

As pretty much the first fruits of my javascript self-teaching labours, I've made these Random Name Generators for my D&D campaign.

Because I am but a pathetic n00b at javascript, they are pretty basic, and no doubt they could be built much better. They do seem to work, however, so I'm quite pleased with myself.

Motivation Challenges (Whining, Basically)

I do really enjoy GMing, but it's difficult to maintain enthusiasm sometimes, especially in the face of constant negativity. It saps the fun out of the game for me, whether I'm GMing or playing.

Another big motivation hurdle is wasted effort — I like to think up Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine, but it's just a fact of life that nobody else really cares, and the chances are pretty good that the players will just ignore all that shit and go off and do something else entirely*. I'm not generally in favour of railroading an adventure, but it would be nice to be able to use my lovingly-imagined creations from time to time. It sometimes feels as though curiosity and adventurousness are an unwelcome intrusion into the game, rather than the underlying stimulus for the whole thing.

And another thing — I'm really not a big fan of constant city and/or detective and/or political and/or wilderness adventuring. It's fine as a leaven, but not all the time. I'm not good at acting and presenting NPC interactions, and all of those genres tend to require quite a lot of it.

I'm beginning to think that drawing a world map in the first place was a terrible idea. I should have just stayed with dungeons. In fact, I'm tempted to just send the whole campaign to Hell. Not metaphorically.

* The most recent example of that has come back and bitten the players in the arse though; if they hadn't ignored everything around them in their haste to go somewhere else, they would have found something that would have taken care of a certain problem that one of them has been whining about incessantly. Well, they missed it, so tough.

Monday, July 6, 2015

"Sculpt Spells" modification

From the D&D5e PHB, p.117, the School of Evocation:
SCULPT SPELLS
Beginning at 2nd level, you can create pockets of relative safety within the effects of your evocation spells. When you cast an evocation spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell's level. The chosen creatures automatically succeed on their saving throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.
This is a pretty cool ability, and I like it, but I think it's just a little too potent. If a warrior has to think twice about the cost/benefit ratio of shooting arrows into combat, I feel that a wizard should likewise have to weigh up whether or not they really should be dropping a Flame Strike right on their own location.

To that end, I intend to modify it thus:

  1. The "pockets of relative safety" become truly only relatively safe. The Evoker can shape their spell to flow around creatures, but the effect is this:
    • The creature being avoided gets to add the wizard's spellcasting ability modifier to their saving throw. (If the wizard includes themselves in the spell area-of-effect and already gets to add their spellcasting ability modifier, they don't get to add it again.)
    • If they save, they take no damage. If they fail, they still take half damage. If they fumble their save, they take full damage.
  2. Creatures in intimate physical contact — e.g., if grappling, or being swarmed by hundreds of flesh-eating beetles — count as a single creature for the purposes of shaping the spell around them. The wizard can choose to affect both of them or neither.

I think this should have the effect that I want, which is basically to keep the ability's usefulness, but remove the guarantees, so that the wizard actually has to consider whether to cast a spell that might damage their allies.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

T-35 — Small and Smaller

Since the exchange rate on our dollar is spiralling away down the toilet, buying new stuff from overseas is less and less tenable.

One good side-effect of this is that instead of getting ever more things, I'm forced to deal with some of the things I've already got.

These are a couple of platoons worth of C-in-C white metal 1:285 scale T-35 heavy tanks (in service with the Soviet army from about 1933 to 1941) alongside a plastic 1:100 scale model of the same tank by Zvezda.

I like the Interwar period multi-turreted land-dreadnoughts. They have a distinct diesel-punk aesthetic about them that appeals, even though they were really pretty shit as tanks.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Critter: Jellybaby

Here's a critter I made for my campaign, a Jellybaby.

It's big, slimy, smelly, and only as humanoid as it needs to be. Jellybabies are basically Gelatinous Cube golems, but they don't share the Gelatinous Cube's transparency, and they're considerably more purposeful in hunting down their prey..

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Next Bit

This is the players' map of the next bit of country they'll be moving through*.

The HeadLand is so called because of the many great stone heads that adorn the many rises and knolls of the valley of the River Norflowd. They are the relics of an ancient people, long gone. The heads remain, looking out over the flocks of sheep that now graze those downs.

This was done in indian ink with a croquil nib, coloured with watercolour and coloured pencil. It took a lot longer than it should have, and it reinforces why I do all this kind of shit on the computer these days.

* You would think that after SPECIFICALLY ASKING FOR A MAP OF THIS BIT OF COUNTRY the players would show at least a modicum of interest in exploring some of its many interesting features. But no, turns out the purpose of SPECIFICALLY ASKING FOR A MAP OF THIS BIT OF COUNTRY is so that they can hurry straight through it as quickly as possible, ignoring everything. For fuck's sake.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What, naked AGAIN? Oh, for goodness' sake!"

The Shieldmaiden by Danes
This is how all the characters always seem to end up equipped in my games.

I swear I don't do it on purpose.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Old Mantua

Here's an excellent roleplayable map of Old Mantua. I have just the spot for it in my campaign world too.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ankheg

Another burrowing beastie, this time an Ankheg (Reaper Bones 77230, not in the online store yet).

It's a bit of an uninspiring paint-job, though the mini itself is OK.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Remorhaz

Next up, Reaper's 77183: Frost Wyrm by Kevin Williams.

Or, as pretty much everybody else in the RPG world knows it, a Remorhaz.

From memory, I think remorhaz are supposed to be more of a light ice-blue, but I got a bit carried away, so this one has more of a tropical look about it than an arctic one. Never mind.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Shrine On You Crazy Diamond

The Titan Wood Shrine by Josh Eiten
From Talysman the Ur-Beetle, on G+:
"I wrote something up about holy shrines. The basic idea: don't give NPC priests levels, just assign the spells/miracles to the shrine instead. One benefit of this that I didn't mention was that it encourages adventure: if you want to cure disease and don't have a cleric that can cast it, you don't just find any old NPC cleric, you seek out the shrine known for curing disease. It's a place you have to travel to, not something you can advertise around town for. And if you want a local shrine that will provide multiple services on demand, consider investing in a shrine and praying for the miracles you need."
I like this idea a lot. A whole lot. Of course it does mean that I'd actually have to give some thought to what shrines where do what, but that's probably all to the good. I've been pretty slack about sorting out the religious side of my campaign world.

I can think of some good adventure hooks around dealing with evil shrines too.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Spell Research

Last night, Our Heroes got off much more lightly than they should have because of our collective ignorance about how some of their spells actually worked.

Today, I've been reading through the spells in the PHB to clarify matters for the future.

My players may come to regret making me do my own rules-learning, because I'm getting lots of ideas. Oh yes. LOTS.

[Insert maniacal Evil-Overlord laugh here]

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not a Bulette™, Honest It's Not

Next up on the painting table from Reaper's Kickstarter II is this critter, which they call 77372: Burrowing Horror and I will go out on a limb to call a Bulette.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Badger 105 Patriot - review

I took an opportunity to get myself another airbrush from Chicago Airbrush Supply, an airbrush I've wanted for a while now, the Badger 105 Patriot. It was on special at CAS, and thanks to one of their periodic holiday vouchers I got it even cheaper. So, score! It got here very promptly too — just five days from ordering to appearing on my doorstep here in New Zealand.

The stand doesn't come with the airbrush. That's a soldering-iron stand.
 It's a double-action gravity feed brush with an integral paint cup. It also comes with a plastic push-on cap for the paint cup, for those who are likely to be moving the brush around a lot while they're painting, though that's not likely to be much of an issue for me.

It's roughly equivalent to the Paasche Talon I bought a while ago, but so far I'm finding it superior in almost every way. The machining of the components is excellent, the action of the trigger is smooth and easy, and the open tip makes it easy to get in very close without back-scattering air and paint from the painted surface into the tip cup. The Talon uses a skeleton tip shroud to achieve the same thing, and that does work OK, but I still found myself having to be very careful about the amount of air and paint I put through in close-up work. The cup of the Badger has a lower profile than that of the Paasche, so it interferes less with one's sight-line while working in close — for my purposes, it could be even lower. The weight and balance in the hand is very nice, and the skeleton back-cap gives instant access to the needle for pre-set paint flow adjustments and the like. Plus, for maintenance, you can dismount the needle without having to disassemble the whole brush, which is a bonus.

I've added a converter to this airbrush's valve stem so that I can use it on my Paasche hose.

Speaking of the Badger's open tip, here it is right here. And this is one place where one has to be a bit cautious: the needle stands proud of the tip, and like all airbrush needles it's a delicate thing, easily damaged. You do need to take care not to ram it into your paint surface, or inadvertently drag it across your sleeve or anything. It is often possible to re-straighten a bent needle tip, but it's not all that easy.

When not in use, the tip is protected by a spring-fit metal cap, which you can see in the first photo. It goes on and off very smoothly, and stays on firmly. It's nice.

Badger claim this as a "universal" brush, that will paint a line from pencil-thin to broad, heavy coverage without the need for changing tips and needles. That seems to be true, up to a point. It will certainly paint a nice fine line, but I find the spray pattern to be a bit more granular than that of the 150 or 200 with XF (extra-fine) tips and needles mounted.

Overall, I like this airbrush a lot. It's very flexible, and it's easy to clean and maintain, which I appreciate a lot. I think it'll be my go-to airbrush for just about everything bar ultra-fine or super-broad painting.