Time for some more thrilling heroics...

Our heroes are getting SICK of these motherfuckin' ZOMBIES on these motherfuckin' PLAINS!

The zombie dogs were dangerous, and not in the least bit waggy...

...but the poor old zombie cow was just pathetic. And stinky. Very stinky. Especially when JZ stuck a sword right into its bloated, distended, gas-and-slime-filled belly.

The party have finally made it, at long last, to the ruins of Thundertree, where no doubt they will either succeed in their aim, or fail. I think that's a reasonably safe prediction.

It's a TRAP! A tiny, perfectly-modelled TRAP!

Here's my collection of painted, human-sized undead (plus three or four skeletal pooches... awwww!). I have a bunch more, still unpainted. And I have various giant-sized undead mummy lords or cyclops skeletons or huge horse-headed skeletal things. Plus the non-humanoid undead things, like skeletal snakes or zombie dragons or what-not.

And that's just the undead. Then there's all the other monsters and characters I've collected and painted over the years. And I have boxes and boxes full of unpainted figures as well.

And yet, I never have enough of the particular type of figure I want for the particular encounter at hand, or if I do, they're buried somewhere in amongst the giant figure pile and thus something of a hassle to lay my hands on at a moment's notice.

Sure, I could substitute one figure to stand in for another kind of critter, but that seems to me to kind of defeat the purpose of having a whole bunch of different figures at all.

That's why I'm beginning to think that it would be better to just use cheap plastic chess pieces of various sizes as markers, whenever we feel the need to use figures on a map layout. If I needed anything more as a visual aid, I could just show the players a picture of what the chess pieces represent, but for the most part I think a description would be sufficient.

Contrary to what people might think, considering my abiding habit and hobby of painting up these little bastards, I'm actually not all that interested in creating little dioramas on the tabletop to play with my little dollies in. Not that I'm morally averse to such things; in fact, if somebody else is doing it, I find them quite appealing. I just can't be faffed putting in the time or effort to do it myself.

At game time, the figures, to me, are purely functional... but I find the wrong figures distracting, somehow.

Next day...

OK, so I bought a couple of cheapish chess sets of different sizes because it seems nobody just sell chess pieces on their own any more. It used to be that you couldn't move for boxes of plastic chessmen for a couple of bucks, and now I can't find them anywhere.

I hate change. Unless I like it, then I like change.

Later...

It occurred to me that Scrabble tiles would make ideal markers for situations involving lots of monsters of the same type. Assuming you don't need more than 26 of them, you have individually marked tokens that the DM can use to keep track of exactly which monster is where, without the risk of note-taking confusion that can so often arise when using non-unique markers.

I think it's possible to get Bingo tokens too, which would be labelled 1—99, for those REALLY big fights. Where you'd get them from though, I do not know.

Children of the Night of the Living Dead Go Mad in Dorset

Well, the party managed to survive its first encounter with a roving band of zombies, and with only one near-death experience. They learned two things:

  1. Zombies in 5e are MUCH SCARIER than they used to be, and
  2. Critters that stop to munch on you when you go down instead of moving on to another (moving) target are MUCH SCARIER than intelligent, tactically-savvy critters.

Having waded through years of game "development" in which player-characters have steadily become more and more unstoppably invulnerable superheroes, able to wade through oceans of mook-blood with impunity, it's rather refreshing to have them have to think twice about whether they should fight or run.

Boring Terror-Bird

This is an old Citadel slottabase figure I think. It's some sort of generic  Phorusrhacidae, or Axe Beak if you prefer the name from the Fiend Folio of yore. Actually, I strongly suspect it's a pirate of an old Citadel figure, because the detail is pretty soft and blobby.

I painted this quite some time ago, and I was fairly happy with it then. However, I recently re-based it on to a large steel washer, and in the process became dissatisfied with it.

It's just boring.

Also, the matte varnish I used has gradually become less and less matte, to the point where it's actually quite glossy.

All this indicates that it's time to repaint it.

Next day...

OK, here it is jazzed up a little bit.

It still mostly sucks, but it's ever so slightly less bland than it was yesterday. And that's about as much attention as I can be bothered giving it, I think.

5e Character Sheet Update

I've uploaded updated versions of my 5e chracter sheet designs, now including a space for Death Saves. That's a bit of the sheet that's sure to get plenty of use.

Mark I: A4 double-sided

Mark II: A5 booklet fold

NOTE: if you stick a piece of that invisible mending tape (the stuff with the matte finish) over areas like this, you can keep pencilling and erasing it until the cows come home and you won't wear a hole in your character sheet.

D&D 5e DM Screen — Progress



I've filled up three pages, which is sufficient to make the screen self-standing. It could include one more page, but any more than that and it would be getting unmanageably wide, so I'll try it out as it is for a while and see how it goes.

No doubt there will be more stuff I think will be vital to have at my finger-tips once the DMG comes out in December.

You can download the most recent version here — the PDF is about 195 KB.

D&D5e — DM Screen


I am working on a DM Screen for D&D 5e, and I've run into a bit of a blockage.

It really needs at least three panes to stand up by itself and to guard the flanks of my oh-so-secret DM dice rolling and note taking and crap like that. However, I'm struggling to fill even two panes. There's more equipment price lists I could throw in there, but that seems like rather a waste of space when all one really needs is where to find them without any extraneous page-turning.

I imagine there will be more stuff that might be useful when the DMG comes out, but I won't be getting mine until a couple of weeks after it's released, so about Xmas time.

If anyone is feeling of a mind to help, take a look at this WiP PDF, and feel free to make any suggestions for stuff you think would be useful to a struggling DM in the middle of a game.

The pages are each 180 x 297 mm (that's roughly 7" x 12"), which I find low enough to see over easily, but tall enough to keep my super-secret DM secrets secret.

Note: I'm not really all that concerned with the sanctity of DM secrets these days, and do most of my rolling and stuff out in the searing light of day, but it is useful to have handy information at one's fingertips to avoid constantly paging through manuals for stuff.

Sound Effects

I've been taking a look at Syrinscape, a sound mixing/playback app aimed at the tabletop roleplaying market. The app is free, and there are some free soundscapes available with it, but for the most part the soundscapes cost about four bucks a pop (and there are some collections available which will get you a small price cut for buying a bunch of them at once).

It assumes, of course, that one has one's gaming area set up for sound, and that one is able to make use of a computer (or iOS/Android tablet) at the table. That's not a big ask these days I guess.

I like the way that it blends sounds together, and fades seamlessly from one to another. I've always fancied the idea of being able to have ambient sounds running during the game — things like wind noises, rain, thunder, crowd/street noises, all that sort of thing — to reinforce mood, and this app seems to be ideal for that.

Unfortunately my gaming area isn't set up to make best use of it right now. My computer is nearby, but I'd have to be getting up and down to activate the noises I want, which is far from ideal. However, I do have a little netbook that sits around mostly doing nothing, and I have a spare set of speakers, so I might just give it a try-out one of these days.

D&D5e Character Sheet

I put together this character sheet for D&D5e for a couple of reasons. It includes an arrangement of characteristics and their related skills and saves that I like, and it's rather less rigidly laid out and sterile than some. It could be more compact, but I wanted to leave plenty of room so that you don't have to cramp up your writing hand fitting in teensy-tiny pencil scrawls.

I've printed it with both pages on the same sheet too, and everything is still easily legible. That has the added advantage of giving you a whole extra side of the page to use as a jotter.

The link points to a PDF file, approximately 160 KB in size.

Later...

This version is laid out with both of the above pages on the same side of an A4 sheet, to be printed double-sided and folded down to an A5 tent-fold. The inner pages are lined and framed, but otherwise blank — write whatever you want in there.

This one is also about 160 KB.

GHQ Microarmour — SiG-33

I just received another order of early WWII German 1:285 scale microarmour from GHQ, amongst which are these — the SiG-33 self-propelled 150mm howitzer.

It's about as simple as self-propelled artillery gets, being nothing more than a gun plonked on top of a Panzer I tank chassis and a welded steel box shoved around it. They got more sophisticated as the war progressed, but even this initial stop-gap design was very successful.

I may have to buy some decals for the markings; my hands aren't as steady as they once were, and painting them in this tiny scale is becoming something of an ordeal.

Because you can never have too many worms...

...here's another one.

OK, I guess you can have too many worms, especially if those worms are parasitic and giving you some kind of disgusting tropical diseases.

This is a re-paint of one of Reaper's 77006: Great Worm plastics.

Unburied Treasure

I was fossicking around amongst some old storage boxes and found some things.

First up, some Magic - the Gathering cards.

I have no idea where these came from. I've never played Magic in my life, and I would certainly never pay actual money for the cards, so I can only assume they came free with a magazine or something. Probably a Dragon magazine, now that I come to think of it. Or Dungeon. I used to buy them both at one time, though not for years. I spent arseloads of money on D&D3e-related stuff before I finally got tired of it. So many arseloads.

Magic was huge when I was hanging out at the UCSA Lower Common Room back in the distant past, whenever the hell that was. There always seemed to be three or five games going on at any time. As I recall, the players tended to favour keeping their cards in little plastic bags, presumably so that they couldn't be identified by DNA traces left on them. Or something.

Also, I found a bunch of WotC pre-painted plastic Star Wars minis.

Including this particularly balletic rendition of that loveable old son of fun, Darth Vader.

He's just TOO FABULOUS.

They might come in handy if we ever get back to doing any more Traveller gaming or the like, so I'll transfer them into the general miniature stock and hopefully won't forget that they exist if and when we ever get around to needing them.

Cyclops Skeleton and Pathfinder Goblin

This isn't a new figure. In fact I painted it about twenty-five years ago (bloody hell!), but I've left it since then gloss varnished and sans-base. I've finally got around to giving it something of a scenic base, and squirting it with matte varnish. Never let it be said that I rush things.

It's a Grenadier figure, I believe, and stands about 70mm tall from foot to crown. I've never actually used it in a game, and I really should remedy that.

This one is considerably newer. It's one of Reaper's Pathfinder goblins. The Pathfinder artistic style is pretty cartoonish, and that doesn't always work, but I quite like their version of goblins — they're like little bipedal piranha with an attention deficit disorder. Not stupid, exactly, but definitely with poor impulse control.

This little guy is about 18mm to the top of his little flat head, not counting the thickness of the base. I have a few more ( another seven, I think). I got them from Reaper's first Bones Kickstarter.

Reaper Ettin

77103: Nor'Okk, Ettin - sculpted by Tre Manor
I've never been a big fan of the GW-style green-skinned humanoid trope, but I thought I might give it one go, and this is it. I'm still not wholly convinced, but it could have been worse I suppose.

As with almost all my miniatures these days, this is one of Reaper's Bones plastics, mounted on a big washer for stability.

Musings on Class

Druids? Or just grubby old men in blankets? I have a fondness for AD&D, but one of the things that drove me away from it back in the...