Monday, July 6, 2015

"Sculpt Spells" modification

From the D&D5e PHB, p.117, the School of Evocation:
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 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.

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


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


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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hail Hydra!

This is yet another of Reaper's Bones plastic figures, 77191 Hydra by Sandra Garrity. I like Garrity's work, and this is no exception, though I feel that it would be more useful as a gaming miniature if its pose were more compact, more curled around on itself. That would probably require that it be moulded with one or two more pieces, but it's already a multi-piece model so that wouldn't be a big problem — at least, not from the end-user's point of view.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Tin Full Of Tanks

Top left — KV85, Top-middle — ISU-152, top right — T34-76D

Bottom left — SU-85 (or SU-100), bottom right — T34-76A.
I glue little rare-earth magnets to the bottom of all my micro-armour so that I can store and transport them like this, in little shallow tins. This particular tin is one that a set of 10 Caran D'Ache crayons came in, and it's an ideal depth. Old tobacco tins are good too, though they're getting to be a bit expensive.

It's a little crowded at the moment, and I should probably transfer some of these to another one.

Monday, May 18, 2015


I've got a whole bunch of 1:285 scale late-WWII Soviet armour that I got ultra-cheap as a job-lot a while ago, and it all needs painting. It's not actually an army I have all that much interest in fielding, but what the hell. There are a couple of manufacturers present; one is definitely C-in-C, but the other I'm unsure about — possibly Scotia.

I've been flailing about trying to find the ideal paint shade and processes to make my life as easy as possible. Fortunately the Soviets didn't go as much for markings as other combatants, so that at least will help.

These are some of a bunch of early T-34s I bought quite a few years ago when C-in-C were doing a cut-price deal — 10 tanks from each of Russia, Japan, Germany and America. They're painted in a dark Tamiya green of some sort — NATO Green, I think — and dry-brushed with Tamiya Buff. The colour would be roughly equivalent to Vallejo Russian Green I suppose, and it's pretty much the dark colour I used to think all Russian armour was painted. These days I prefer something more in the olive green line.

This (and the SU-85 or -100 below) was painted in a base of Vallejo's Parched Grass surface primer, and washed with Citadel Athonian Camoshade, which is a sort of olive khaki. Dry-brushed with Vallejo Buff. It's not too bad, but it's just a little bit too bright for what I want.

SU-85 (or SU-100)
One good thing about Soviet armour of this era is that the guns are simple tubes, without much in the way of sleeves or muzzle-brakes. That makes them a breeze to replace with stiff steel pins, which are much less susceptible to damage than the cast-on soft white-metal barrels. It's a little bit of a drag drilling and pinning hundreds of models, but doing them just a few at a time as I paint, it doesn't take long at all.

I'm not sure whether these are SU-85s or SU-100s — I'm not au fait enough with Soviet armour to be able to tell the difference at a glance. the SU-100 would have a much longer barrel of course, but otherwise they're near enough in basic shape that I'll happily use the models for either, as I require.

These KV-85s have been painted in Vallejo Russian Uniform and washed with Citadel Agrax Earthshade, dry-brushed with Vallejo Buff. They're a shade or two down from the ISU-152 and SU-85, (though the camera doesn't really show that very well) and I think that this will be my basic colour for all the rest.

I replaced the barrels with lengths of 0.7mm steel wire.

These are the T-34 Model 1942/43 from the Mystery Manufacturer. Having looked at them a bit more closely, I begin to doubt my theory that they came from Scotia — the other models I've had from them have been considerably less detailed, more like stuff from Heroics & Ros (of whom I'm quite fond, incidentally). The standard of detail is almost like some older GHQ stuff, but the quality of casting isn't as good as I've had from them. It remains a mystery.

I've replaced the barrel on the one on the left with a .55mm brass rod. It's slightly over-scale, but it looks right on the table. I'd have preferred to do it with steel, being stiffer, but even brass is a substantial improvement on white metal.


This is Reaper Bones 77256: Brass Bull, from their Bones II Kickstarter. It's not in their store as yet, apparently it's due for release in June.

I wanted a Gorgon, not a Brass Bull, so I painted it in rusty iron colours.

Note, that's a D&D Gorgon, not a mythological Gorgon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


 Redditor called Sarithus has created a map of Clichéa, “a map based on fantasy tropes that also pokes a little fun at unoriginal map makers.”

Now, although this is intended as a parody of many, many (so many) fantasy worlds, I think it would also be very useful as an introductory campaign world. The tropes are all familiar enough that new players could feel right at home, and that familiarity would allow them to come up with their own character and adventure ideas without first having to figure out what game the GM is playing.

As I've said before, clichés become clichés because they work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mashaaf - finished at last

I finally finished painting old maggot-breath, Reaper's Bones 77375: Mashaaf. It's a big figure, which made it a bit tricky to handle while painting.

In the first photo, I've included a figure of your friendly neighbourhood psycho-killer and vivisectionist for scale.

Just in case you haven't already seen it, I kept a work-in-progress blog here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tabletop Dungeon Mapping Modules

 I've been experimenting with using flat printed images on blocks of MDF for 3d (or 2½d) dungeon mapping pieces. Proper painted 3d resin pieces are very nice, but they also cost an arm and a leg.

These ones are my first "secret door" image, printed on self-adhesive label paper, and stuck to 12mm MDF. I might possibly go to 18mm for added stability, but I'll see how these go in play first.

The black edges are problematic. They'd be better covered with the stone pattern, but the edges of MDF aren't an ideal surface for sticking the label paper to unless it's sealed and sanded pretty smooth, which means more trouble than I really want to go to. Maybe as a partial fix I'll paint the sides of the blocks, where they're more likely to be exposed, in a roughly stone-like colour — it would still be a bit of a dislocation, but they wouldn't stand out quite as much when they're butted up against each other like this.

What I want to end up with is something like the Fat Dragon card dungeon bits, but with more weight and stability.

This is the image I've used for this particular module — I've got a bunch of other doors in the works at the moment, if these turn out OK.

I've saved it at 300dpi, but I don't know if Blogger's image uploader will preserve image resolution information. The physical dimensions of the image are 50 x 50 mm, so if it prints bigger than that, then you'll have to find some way to adjust it (such as embedding it in a word processor document, resized to the right dimensions.... though that sort of kludge makes me sad).


I later realised that I had a roll of 12mm double-sided tape, and since the MDF is fortuitously also 12mm, I could make my own block-pattern edge banding tape with relatively little travail.

Which I have now done.

As I suspected, it is a great improvement.


I tried out a single wrap-around image for a standard dungeon door, but I found that it made the location of the door sides centrally on the block on both sides difficult — impossible, in fact, without getting a lot more pernicketty about my measurements.

So instead I went back to separate individual images for each side, but this time with sufficient overhang to wrap around and cover about 60% of the width of the block. There is therefore a line up the sides where the two images don't tile seamlessly, but it's not at all noticeable unless you look for it, so I call that a win.

Here are JPG files for a couple of styles of door, to go on to 50 x 50 x 12 mm blocks:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sluggy the Slimy Slug-Monster (revisited)

Continuing with colouring in some old line drawings as a substitute for actual creativity, this is one I did a couple of years ago to try out a new brush pen I'd just bought.