I made myself a miniature travelling Onitama set, this time on the 3d printer instead of out of wood.

The pieces are pegged, to go in the holes on the board, so there's no risk of them being shaken off.

The board is only 60mm on a side, and the whole lot could easily slip into a pocket, were it to be given a suitable box. Which it may very well be.

What's the point of the Cleric?


Really, what's the point of the Cleric as a separate character class? It's pretty much just another Magic-user with better hit-points and combat ability and no armour restrictions.

Even if the DM chooses to play a game in which sects and cults are socially important, there seems no point to me in the Cleric as a separate class. It would be more satisfying by far, in my opinion, to take care of all that religious palaver through roleplaying. If a player desperately wants a fighting spellcaster, there's always the multiclass/dual class Fighter-Magic-user option.

Armchair Skeleton


This is a 28mm model from somebody's post-apocalyptic stuff, printed on my Ender 3 FDM machine, and it's a pretty good example of why I don't really bother much with printing miniatures on that machine any more.

I could tune it to get cleaner results (probably) but frankly I can't be bothered. Not when I can get much better results more easily on my resin printer.

Figure Size and Model Scale

 This is a somewhat fraught subject, and there are people out there who take their own opinions very, very seriously. I suspect that they're very angry people at heart, and need to chill a bit, but anyway.

The main thing to remember is that the numbers used to describe miniature figure size and model scale are quite different, and bear only a passing relationship to each other. A purportedly 15mm figure might be anywhere from 12mm to 18mm or worse, but a 1/72 scale model will (or should) always be in a proportion of one real-world centimetre to 72 scale centimetres.

This image is from Andrew Loomis' famous work on figure drawing, Figure Drawing For All Its Worth.

It's a very influential work for illustrators, but its main purpose here is to give us some proportions to work with.

Loomis describes the normal male as being 7½ heads tall, which is a handy starting point as it's independent of any actual measurements. However, thanks to the magic of the internet, we can tie it to some real-world figures — it turns out that the global mean male height is 171cm (5'7⅓"). Therefore, the mean height of one head is 22.8cm, for what that's worth.

Miniature figure size is generally agreed to be measured from the soles of the feet to the eyes*, thus allowing us to ignore any tall fancy hats or the like. The eyes are half way up the head, which handily allows us to ignore the ½-head and declare that our mean male miniature figure's eye height will, in scale, be 159.6cm, which, for ease of calculation, we can safely round out to 160cm (5'3").

* Though remember those angry people who take themselves far too seriously. They may have other ideas.


So anyway, now that we know all that we can work out which model scales and figure sizes should go together visually:

Scale Figure
1:300 5.3 6mm
1:285 5.6 6mm
1:200 8 8mm
1:144 11.1 12mm
1:100 16 15mm
1:76 21 20mm
1:72 22 20mm
1:64 25 25mm
1:56 28.6 28mm
1:48 33.3 32mm
1:35 45.7 45mm
1:32 50 54mm
1:24 66.7 70mm
1:12 133.3 130mm

These are not, of course, hard and fast rules. There are many people, for example, who use 1:48 scale vehicles with their 28mm miniatures, just because they think they look better. And 25mm figures are often used with 1:72 scale vehicles, mainly (I think) out of tradition. More power to them; they're their models, and they can do with them as they please and it will harm me not one whit.

A Note on Figure Sculpting

The proportions given by Loomis may not be entirely suitable for figures sculpted for gaming use, especially in the smaller scales. Often, elements like heads and hands will need to be sculpted slightly larger than would be strictly accurate, and limbs may need to be thicker just to stand up to the rigours of handling.

There is some natural variation in the size of real human beings, and there's nothing wrong with reflecting this within a unit of little army-men. Different sculptors may create their figures at slightly different sizes than other sculptors, and mixing figure ranges can create some pleasing height variation.

BUT items of equipment like rifles, webbing, ammo boxes and so forth do NOT vary in this way, and if two figure ranges have visually differently sized rifles, for example, then when mixed together they will just look wrong and wonky.

Hawker Hart (1:144)


Some time ago I designed a 1:144 scale digital model of the Hawker Hart in Blender, and from time to time I have another go at 3d printing it.

The silver one on the left is printed in FDM on my Ender 3; the STL for that one is split longitudinally and the model is printed in two halves. The resulting print is okay, but as usual with FDM the surface texture is quite striated, I end up with a lot of little nubbins where supports rest, and the struts and undercarriage are really quite rough. It will do as a wargames model, but I crave something smoother.

However, I've had very little success when it comes to printing aircraft in resin, like the one on the right. This one was also cut in half, but fore and aft this time.

Part of the issue is that resin isn't all that dimensionally stable, and warping in the curing process is fairly common. But the recurring problem, again and again, is deformation of one or more wing-tips. Even when I've supported both sides completely symmetrically, I'll often get one side failing to print properly. In the case of this print, the profile of the whole port side is screwy, and I honestly have no idea why.

I'm trying another print right now with the front half of the plane in a different orientation, but to be honest I'm getting a bit pessimistic.

Next Day...

Success at last!

I had a couple of breakages when the supports came off (one of the wing struts, and the undercarriage) but they glued back together okay with some raw resin, cured with a UV flashlight.

There is a little bit of sanding to be done where support nubbins exist, but it's the best result so far.

I'll print one more, and paint one in the silver peace-time livery and the other in the dark earth/dark green it would have been repainted in if it had to go to war.

You Are Here

 At last, a genuinely useful galactic map for space-operatic tabletop roleplaying purposes.

I don't know who originally made this wee masterpiece. If you know, I'd love to be able to give credit where it belongs, so let me know.

NOTE: Sectorbob, in the comments, tells me "That was made by VENGER SATANIS for his Alpha Blue setting/rpg. Mostly a silly fun rpg with a lot of slease." I've  heard of Alpha Blue, but never seen anything of it in real life.

Saving Throws

 I don't know the exact history of the saving throw mechanic across the various editions of D&D and its ilk. I do know that it has changed considerably in detail, but not in essence — regardless of the specific implementation, it gives the player a chance to avoid or ameliorate some sort of effect, be it damaging or not.

AD&D has a fairly byzantine system, in which saving throws are split into categories depending on the effect. Some effects, however, fall into two or more of those categories, and as far as I'm aware it has never been unambiguously stated how those categories were originally conceived. The Rod Staff or Wand category, for example, would seem to embrace the agility needed to avoid the magical rays cast from them, but the trouble is that the effects created by rods, staffs, and wands are by no means limited to dodgeable rays.

The categories, in order, are

  1. Paralyzation, Poison, or Death Magic
  2. Rod, Staff, or Wand
  3. Petrification or Polymorph
  4. Breath Weapon
  5. Spell

I've read opinions that this is supposed to be read as a hierarchy of effects, but the arguments are not compelling.

Like the concept of hit-points, AD&D saving throws are pretty abstract. The exact way they work isn't really spelled out, and is left largely to the imagination.

D&D3e introduced a three category saving throw system:

  1. Fortitude
  2. Reflex
  3. Will

They were based on the character's abilities: CON, DEX and WIS respectively, and instead of basing the saving throw on a class of effects, the important thing is to decide how the attack would affect the character and assign a save category accordingly.

The character's level is still the most important influence on the likelihood of making or failing a save, but now (some of) their characteristic totals also become relevant.

One side-effect of the change to this system is that saving throws become a bit less abstract, and there's no implicit mechanism to reflect pure luck. How does a warrior, pinned spreadeagled to a rock wall, save vs. the breath of the dragon who is about to incinerate them? None of the characteristic-based saving throw categories would really apply without an unconscionable amount of hand-waving.

I know little of D&D4e, and what I did see of it I hated. let us pass it by.

D&D5e ties saving throws even more closely to the character's ability scores, and now they're implicitly a STR save, or a CON save, or an INT save, or whatever. On the face of it, it's a simple, logical system, and for the most part it works fine. Just like D&D3e, the effect on the character and the nature of the attack are the most relevant things, and just because an attack comes from a wand, there's nothing specifically wand-ish to be considered when determining which characteristic to save against.

D&D5e reduces the abstraction of the saving throw mechanic even further than D&D3e, and again, there's no specific method of reflecting a save based purely on luck.

The saving throw mechanic used by the Swords & Wizardry retroclone simplifies matters considerably. Each character class has a single Saving Throw target number. There's no worrying about the nature of the effect, or the character's abilities, or any of that. A saving throw is just a saving throw; it'll always be the same at any given level regardless of how or why a save is required.

Fighters have the worst saves (though not by much). Wizards are better. Thieves have the best saves (though not by much). As with other variants of D&D, the saving throw target number gets lower as the character rises in level, but there's just the one target number at any given level.

Having a single save is also advantageous if one wants to go the characteristic save route, as used in D&D5e, since you can just add (or subtract) any ability modifier to (or from) the target number, and Bob's your uncle. In S&W that's unlikely to make much of a difference; as it's a 0D&D retroclone, ability modifiers tend to be small.

This is the most highly abstracted, and in my view the most elegant, saving throw system within the extended D&D fold, and I like it very much. It performs the basic function of the saving throw (allowing the character to escape some or all of an effect) but it is not tied to anything but the character's level. Want to avoid some falling damage? Make a saving throw. Being attacked by an acid-spitting dong-worm? Make a saving throw. Want to remember something your character knows but you can't recall? Just make a saving throw. Easy-peasy. How did the save work? I dunno, make it up. These games are supposed to be games of imagination.

6mm Napoleonic Brits (3d printed)


I've printed some of Henry Turner's 6-15mm Napoleonic British sculpts at 6mm on my Mars Pro, and made some 40mm two-rank sabot bases for them on my Ender 3. I like his proportions for 6mm, but I find them just a tad too chunky and dwarfish for 15mm.

At the moment only the front rank strips are glued in place; they'll be painted along with the base, while the rear rank strips will be painted separately and then be glued in place. The battalion colours will also be painted separately, and then be glued in place — the colour bearers' hands can be drilled out to accept a pin, and the colours themselves will be made of paper.

There have been a few casualties amongst the muskets and bayonets when I removed the printing supports, but never mind.

These five bases would make a full medium-sized battalion for Black Powder in 6mm. The left and right bases are half-and-half line troops, with the woolen puff epaulettes, and flank troops with the swallows-nest epaulettes. The difference is visible if you look really closely, but in this scale I think differentiating them in this way is largely pointless. Nevertheless, I've got them, so I might as well use them.

I've photographed them here with some Heroics & Ros 6mm Spaniards, on 3mm MDF bases, for comparison. They are more detailed than the H&R metals, but how much of that extra detail will be visible on the wargames table is yet to be seen. I guess it will depend a lot on the quality of one's eyesight, and mine is pretty crap these days.

Couple of days later...

This is the first test base, painted and flocked. The 3d printed sabot base seems to have worked as planned; the ranks aren't perched up on little mounds as they would be if they were glued straight to a flat surface.

The figures are just block-painted over a black primer, and then sploshed with Army Painter Dark Tone which does successfully delineate a bit of the detail present in the prints — detail that will be only minimally visible at tabletop distances. It's not a painting standard that will reward close scrutiny, but they'll look okay en masse on the table.

These two strips suffered even more than most when I took the supports off, but hopefully the flags will distract from the missing bayonets.

There are a pair of colours still to go on this base; I'm waiting on some toner for my printer for those. Normally I'll print them to get some precision in the outlines, mount them on their pins, and then give the paper a bit of flowing contour and finish by painting in some shadow and highlights.



I've recently been introduced to a two-player game called Onitama, which has similarities to several other games but uses a move mechanic that I've not encountered elsewhere. Each game uses a set of five cards, two for each player and one pending, which show the allowable moves for that turn. All the cards are open, so you can see not only your own permitted moves, but also those of your opponent, as well as the pending card which they will get next. As they're used, the cards circulate around.

Each side has an Emperor piece and four Soldiers, and the game is played on a 5x5 grid. The centre square on each side is the Throne for that player. The game is won by either taking the opposing Emperor, or by having one's own Emperor occupy the opposing throne.

Anyway, it appealed to me enough that I thought I would make a set of my own. The pieces shown here are turned from oak, and at least one side will need to be stained to distinguish them; the Soldiers are about 50mm tall, and the Emperors about 75mm. I'm in the process of making a board from kwila (and some other timbers for inlays). The turn cards are the trickiest bit; I'll probably have to print and laminate some.

Next day...

I've finished the Onitama board and pieces, and now all that remains is to do the cards. I think I might do them as woodcuts on 450gsm card, and fill in the coloured bits in watercolour.

The board is made from kwila planks laminated together, and I've inset a little block of the appropriate colour for each side. The tabs are made from ash, so the dye looks quite a bit brighter than it does on the playing pieces, which are oak. To be honest, I much prefer the tone that the oak gives to the dyes.

The board has had its coat of finishing oil, and when that is well and truly cured I'll give it a coat of wax, just as I did with the pieces.

All in all, I'm fairly pleased with the way it's turned out.

Next day, the cards

In the end I piked out with the cards and just whipped them up in CorelDraw, and printed and laminated them. I might get around to doing the fancy-schmancy hand-made versions at a later date. Maybe.

A bit later

I made some boxes to hold all the bits.

If I had thought ahead a bit more, the cards could have gone into the same box as the pieces, but I did not. It's not quite deep enough.

More 3d Printed Napoleonics


These Frenchies are a freebie sample from MC Miniatures on

They're described as "15mm w epic size", whatever that means. They are indeed pretty close to 15mm from foot to eye.

The British soldier alongside is a metal figure from a manufacturer I don't recall. It was sold as "15/18mm", and it's definitely nearer to 18 than 15mm. Too large for 15mm, too small for 20mm. They're nice enough figures, but neither fish nor fowl as far as scale goes.

I have a bit of a yen for Napoleonic horse-and-musket wargaming, but the sheer number of figures required has always put me off. I've made a start on a British Peninsular army of about 1810 vintage using  20mm plastic HaT figures, but progress on that has rather stalled. I haven't looked at them for a couple of years.

I speed-painted the single strip of Frenchmen and then slathered them with Army Painter Quickshade Dark Tone. This is an oil-based glossy varnish-stain, and I probably won't matte-coat them at all. I really don't mind small-scale Napoleonics being all shiny and glossy like toy soldiers, because that, after all, is what they are. The gloss varnish enhances the brightness of the colours, and compensates to a degree for the grubbiness that the stain leaves.

I know very little about the vast array of Napoleonic uniforms, so these have been painted largely by guess, though with reference to some pictures I found on the internet. If I got deeply into Napoleonic wargaming I'd probably start looking at reproducing specific regiments and what-not, but for the present I'm quite happy with generic crapauds.


I nabbed some STLs by a chap called Henry Turner from

This particular one is a freebie, and it is (of course) Napoleon Bonaparte.

Turner's figures are marketed as 6-15mm, and as supplied they seem to be about 7-8mm. Therefore they need to be rescaled to about 200% for 15mm, a fact of which I was unaware before I printed the first batch. You can see Napoleon's little Mini-Me in the front there.

Their proportions are probably better for 6mm than 15mm, as they tend to be rather dwarfish in stature — big heads and short legs, and a fairly chunky build. However, the detail stands well proud of the surface of the figure, which makes it quite easy to paint, and there's good facial detail which is always a help. Although their proportions aren't naturalistic, they do make for good, sturdy wargaming figures, and en masse and painted up I think they'll look fine.

In terms of modeling, I do prefer the MC Miniatures figures, but Turner has a much wider catalogue of Napoleonics to choose from.

And later still...

The strip bases of the MC Miniatures figures are all 28mm x 6.5mm x 1.5mm.

Simply gluing them to a flat group base would mean a lot of effort in basing, and would most likely mean that each rank would look like it was marching on top of a grassy mound of its own.

I whipped up this 30x30mm sabot base and printed it on my Ender 3. The ranks of figures sit down into the base so that their feet are much more nearly level with the ground, so there will be much less need for messing about with basing grout and the like — I could pretty much just paint the base and then go straight to flocking.

I did this base in three ranks, because of the French habit of attacking in column, but it does make the base quite crowded. I'll try another with just two ranks and see how that looks — if it's okay, apart from anything else, it will cut down on the amount of painting required per battalion by a third.

And here is the two-rank version of the base.

It's okay, but it definitely has less of the feeling of the attack column about it.

Aussie M13/40


I finally got around to testing out my method for painting the Aussie kangaroo that they painted on their captured equipment, and I'm reasonably happy with the results.

This is a 1:100 scale M-13/40, printed on my Mars Pro. The figure is a very old one from Battlefront.

I just realised that the kangaroo on the starboard side of the turret should be going the other way. Oh well, too late now. Somebody at the depot will get a bollocking.

Nova Luna Modifications


I have a new game, Nova Luna, which I think is destined to be a favourite.

 However, some of the game pieces could do with a bit of improvement, so I've made new ones. 

The track counters now interlock for improved stackability; now they're less likely to scatter everywhere under people's clumsy sausage-fingers. And I made a new moon marker too, partly because the cardboard one that comes with the game is just a few millimetres too tall to store upright in the box, and also, because why not?

I'd have liked to be able to print each of the counters in the appropriate coloured filament, but unlike those lucky Americans who seem to be able to buy reels of filament for about a buck fifty, my resources are more limited. So they're painted instead.

Toilet Paper Merchant


This guy was sculpted by somebody, I don't know who, a couple of years ago in 2020 when toilet paper hoarding was very much in the news, and I printed it (not very well) on my Ender 3.

At long last I've got around to giving it a very basic paint job.

It's a more-or-less 28mm mini.

Isometric Mapping in Owlbear Rodeo

I've been fiddling around with an isometric map hack in Owlbear Rodeo. It takes a wee bit of work to create the isometric character and monster tokens, but not a heck of a lot more than the normal round ones.

It has the advantage that I could sort of get to use some of the gajillion figures I've painted, but I can foresee a certain amount of clutter and confusion occurring when trying to manage moving and ordering the tokens. Nothing that is insurmountable.

The isometric map image is overlaid on a hex grid, but I haven't worked out how to match the grid and the map as yet, so the measuring function isn't reliable. We'd just have to count squares like cave people.

A plain whiteboard map like this is easy enough, but creating an illustrated environmental map would not be so straightforward. Again, not insurmountable, but quite a bit of work. There are quite a lot of isometric mapping tokens, of wildly variable quality, available here and there on the internet, so doors and chests and furniture and what-not are achievable relatively easily.

I haven't yet played around much with drawing on to the map with the app's drawing tools; they're pretty primitive. Probably good enough to indicate general room extents and that sort of thing.

Here's a pretty pictorial map, which is all very well. However, as you can see, we have no way of seeing what's going on down behind the bridge — the view can't just be rotated, as it would be in a video game.

Doctor Zarkov's Spaceship (nearly, sort of)


I've been fiddling around in Blender, putting together a Space Opera spaceship loosely based on the ship of Doctor Zarkov in the 1935 Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials.

Something I hadn't remembered, but which I discovered when I looked at a screen-shot from one of the films, is that the ship has a fixed undercarriage just like an aeroplane of the era.

I tried a variety of layouts for the STLs.

The one-piece model (the red one) didn't print well at all; Cura's support game proved to be weak.

The green one, split longitudinally, worked fairly well, but in the end I went with the blue one, split fore and aft, as it required the absolute minimum of supports.

The STLs are available (free) at
Thingiverse has enraged me one time too many, and I've deleted my account there. Maybe I'll get around to putting them up elsewhere some day, if I can be bothered.

The model, as designed, is roughly 150mm long.

Humber Mk.II Armoured Car


Here's a WWII British armoured car, the Humber Mk.II in 15mm/1:100 scale. It mounts a BESA 15mm heavy machine gun with a coaxial 7.92mm machine gun, also a BESA. It was used in North Africa from late 1941, and stayed in active service in Africa, Europe, and the far East in various configurations throughout the war.

The vehicle is a Bergman design, and I've opened up the hatches and added a commander.

It's printed in resin on my Mars Pro.

D&D5e character: Aedan Comarren


Character sheet PDF is at
Annette ran a campaign for a while, which I hope we'll get back to some time, in which the party was made up of a family of quadtuplets, born of chiefly parents in mysteriously magical circumstances. By the agency of a dastardly wizard (who came to a bad end eventually) the four Comarren children were whisked away to the ends of the earth, and we had to (a) escape his magical bonds, (b) cut out his gizzards, and (c) find our way back home, all of which we managed to do.

When the campaign went into hiatus, we were off looking for our mother who had been abducted by some sort of toad-demon thing.

The four kids, in order of age, are Aedan (me), Conoran (Steve), Uther (Andrew), and Ethel (Clare).

My character, Aedan, is a stunningly beautiful youth who has been cosseted and indulged all his life, and is therefore blithely and innocently self-entitled. Plus, being the eldest (if only by a matter of minutes) is the primary heir to the chieftainship, and naturally expects all his siblings to look after him and defer to his wishes. To his credit, he's generous and loyal, and treats his eminence purely as a fact of nature, and not in any way a matter of personal virtue. It's just the way things are.

His character class is Barbarian, but he's by no means a bulging-thewed Conanesque brawler. In fact his strength is no better than average. However, his dexterity is exceptional, as is his constitution, and most importantly, his charisma. 

He's fun to play.

I created a miniature for Aedan in HeroForge, and at this moment of writing, it's on my printer, hopefully taking physical form.

Finding a non-musclebound male model barbarian figure ready-made turned out to be impossible, so HeroForge was my best option. It's a bit expensive, but hey-ho. The STL cost about the same, or a little bit more, than a metal figure from Reaper or the like, and of course I have to print it myself.

And this is it, printed and painted. I forgot that I'm terrible at painting naked flesh. Plus, I notice that he's got green paint on his hand, which is a nuisance.

First Model of 2022


Here's my first model of 2022, a member of the Stalingrad Workers' Militia in 28mm.

Model design is by Propylene Foliescu, printed on my Mars Pro.

Model Photo Colour Balancing

1: White background
2: Black background
3: Fluoro green background
4: Fluoro green — no swatches

I've been experimenting for a while with using a colour and tone swatch card in an attempt to get more reliable colour balancing and exposure with the automated controls of my camera.

It can only help so much with strongly coloured backgrounds though; you can see that there's considerable colour contamination from the green background, but that's due to reflection, not the camera's own colour handling.

Of all of them, it seems to be most successful with a black background, though the white background is fine as far as colour goes — it just overwhelms the tones of the model itself. The model on the black background would be more successful still if I used a reflector to get some light into its shadows, and it could do with a touch more exposure too; you can see the greyness of the white swatch compared with that on the white background.

Of the two with the green background, the one with the swatch card in frame is the more accurate colour-wise, though again it could do with a little more exposure. In the other one the camera has blown out the background quite substantially to expose the model better.

The swatch card I've used is just something that I printed on my cheap laser printer, though I've painted over the black and white swatches to get them as clean as possible. You can buy similar cards, properly calibrated for studio photography, but they're not cheap, and all you really need is something close enough. As long as you have a repeatable reference colour/tone set to match against, you have a baseline constant to work from.

Old-Style Pig-Faced Orc


This is a figure that was inspired in style very heavily by the clunky old Minifigs pig-faced orcs of the 1970s. It's not an exact match to those old lead figures, but it's fairly close I think. The hardest things about the sculpting really was keeping its pose as stiff and awkward as the originals, and resisting the urge to add any more detail.

The only point at which I departed from the design of those old figures is in the shield. I used instead the shields as shown in the AD&D Monster Manual.

I rendered it as if it was an old soft plastic figure, the sort of toy you might have once got in a box of cereal. It seemed like an appropriate aesthetic for this thing.

The STL is on Thingiverse at