GURPS 4e in physical form

NOTE: This review concerns only the physical manifestation of the rules; I make no judgement whatsoever here about the usefulness of the GURPS rules and system for roleplaying games.

The first half of my GURPS 4e order arrived today. 

I ordered the Characters volume from the Book Depository (it hasn't arrived yet) under the impression that I was getting the set of two books. Then I realised that I'd ordered only the one, so I ordered the Campaigns volume from Amazon, and it arrived on my doorstep this morning.

I think this edition is GURPS's first foray into signature-bound hardback publishing. I don't really care one way or another about hardcover/softcover books for roleplaying manuals. As long as the glue used for softcover perfect-binding is adequate to the task so that pages don't start falling out, that's fine by me, though signature binding is always going to be harder wearing if it's done even half-way competently. This appears at first sight to be well bound, but that's not something that is easy to determine until the book has been in use for a while.

As an aside, I recently bought a copy of WotC's 5e Tasha's Cauldron of Everything book, which is the worst of both worlds. It's really just a badly perfect-bound book stuck into hard covers, and the binding is really shit. Anyway. Back to GURPS 4e.

Let me say at the offset that I hate the paper. It's a very bright white, glossy stock. That's no doubt excellent for making the colour illustration pop, but it's hard on the eyes when reading dense blocks of text (of which there is a lot) and it feels kind of nasty to the fingers.

The illustration style is competent enough, though not particularly inspiring. It's in colour throughout, which is another new thing for GURPS. Again, it's not something that I require in a RPG manual; black & white illustration is fine by me as long as it is informative or evocative (or preferably both).

What is useful about the transition to all-colour publishing is that each chapter has its own full-bleed coloured page borders, which (once you get to know which colour refers to what) makes navigating the book much easier. The colours are easily visible even when the book is closed, so you can go straight to the relevant section with an absolute minimum of page-flipping.

I'm not enthralled with the serif typeface choices, but I have to admit that I've seen worse. The impression I get is one of "good enough" conservatism in layout design.

The glossary and index at the back of volume 2 Campaigns covers both volumes, and appears at first glance to be pretty comprehensive. Of course, only extended use will show that for sure.

In the end, what matters is whether or not this hardback full-colour glossy format is a genuine improvement over GURPS's old softcover black & white books. I'm not convinced that the advantages are significant, but I am aware that I am of an older gaming generation and that The Youth these days won't look twice at anything that isn't ALL THE COLOURS, so I guess from a commercial point of view, it's a necessary change.

AD&D2e (revised) P.o.D.


These arrived today for me from DriveThruRPG.

They're print-on-demand softcover copies of AD&D2e (revised), originally published in 1995. When I ordered these, there was no hardcover option offered. However, I don't mind softcover RPG books at all.

The paper stock used for the P.o.D. publication is a bit heavier than that used for the original hardcover printing, and as a result these are fairly hefty books. The print quality is very good; it's not identical to the original, but it's very very close.

The original books were signature bound, and open flatter than the perfect-bound softcover without cracking the spine — it won't take a huge amount of use before the softcovers start looking less than new, but if that matters to you... well, I guess you'd just have to buy two copies, one for use and the other to sit on the shelf looking fresh and unused. It matters to me not one jot.

How durable the glue binding is I don't know, these things are always a bit of a gamble. I have perfect-bound books that have lasted for decades, and others that started falling apart within weeks of purchase.

I've included a comparison image below: the original is on the left, the DriveThruRPG P.o.D. is on the right. As you can see, the text is very crisp and clear, and so are the many (mostly pretty mediocre) colour illustrations peppered throughout the volumes.

Stand for Paasche HO414


I thought I'd make a stand for this Paasche single-action external-mix airbrush. I seldom use it; it's very limited in its application, being little more than a spray-gun. However, external-mix brushes have the advantage of being able to move thicker paint than internal-mix types, so it's good for spraying varnish or PVA for terrain flocking and stuff like that. It's also good for covering large areas fairly quickly.

The stand is a Flintstones-ish sort of thing, and it's intended to be screwed to a piece of wood or something, though it would probably be adequately stable just on its own.

I actually spent a lot more time creating the digital model of the airbrush than the stand, a lot more time and effort than I really needed for what was really just a measuring maquette. I got a bit distracted though.

The STL is up on Thingiverse at


And fourteen hours later (plus a couple because I slept in), here's the actual physical result.

Char B1(bis) conversion


One of the many conversions of French vehicles, this one was (I think) designated LeFH-18 auf GW B2. It was basically a 105mm howitzer in a hexagonal steel box on top of a Char B1 (bis) chassis, with a few other adjustments like the removal of the hull 75mm and improvements to the driver's sight.

I was going to add some crewmen to this 15mm 3d print, but there's just not room for them in the fighting compartment, so it can go without.

These conversions started out being painted overall panzergrau, then went to overall dunkelgelb. I don't know if there's any direct photographic evidence of them being painted in the three-colour scheme, but I think it likely, and besides, I like it better.

April 6th

I've made a start on another of the Char B1(bis) conversions, this time the Flammpanzer. Fortunately I've only made it as far as the base-coating though, since it looks like I'm going to have to repaint it in overall panzer grey.

The Vickers-Crossley armoured car to the right is on its way to the plain light grey livery that the Brits used for them during the inter-war era. It's too dark at the moment, but it will lighten substantially when I come back in with the airbrush and do a bit of panel-shading.

And here is the Flammpanzer in all its panzergrau glory.

Light Tank Mk.VII Tetrarch


The Light Tank Mk.VII, called "Tetrarch" from 1941, was intended by its manufacturer to replace their Mk.VIb and VIc, but its timing , and military conservatism, turned out to be against it.

It was in production by 1938, but before it could be built in numbers, WWII kicked off. The BEF went off to France with their Mk.VI light tanks, and lost them in droves. Partly as a result of this, and partly because the military thinkers decided that reconnaissance could be better handled by cheaper, faster scout cars meant that the army soured on the idea of light tanks and plans for the Tetrarch were scaled right back.

In the end, it stayed in service until 1949, but it saw only very limited action, and it was declared officially obsolete in 1944.

This is a 15mm (1:100) 3d print. I've painted it in Khaki Green #3 and Nobel's Dark Tarmac, which would put it at about the end of '41 or beginning of '42, just before the base colour for British armoured vehicles changed over to SCC2 brown.

3d Printing Miscellany


As happens quite a lot with me, my 3d printing is outstripping my painting.

This is the clutter on my modeling desk at the moment. Apart from the aircraft, everything is 15mm, and everything is 3d printed with the exception of some metal medieval crossbowmen, lurking down the back where they have been literally for years... I really should get them finished.

So, what do we have here?

  1. PaK38 50mm anti-tank gun
  2. leFH18-3 auf GW B2 — A German "beutepanzer" conversion of a French Char B2(bis) into a 150mm self-propelled gun
  3. Kettenkrad with Goliath on trailer
  4. Springer demolitions vehicle
  5. Tetrarch light tank
  6. Goliath
  7. Vickers-Crossley armoured car
  8. Seated WWII British infantry
  9. Albatros DVa (1/200)
  10. Sopwith triplane (1/200)
  11. Fokker Dr1 (1/200)
  12. Very chunky early WWII German infantryman (up-scaled from 6mm)
  13. Westland Whirlwind (1/144, failed print)
  14. SdKfz 251 C ambulance (semi-failed print)
  15. Rolls-Royce armoured car (old FDM print)


 This arrived for me today from DriveThruRPG.

I bought it pretty much on a whim, more in a collectorish spirit than with any intention to actually make use of it. I got the hardback version because it only cost a couple of bucks more than the softcover.

BFRP is one of the oldest 'retroclone' games out there. It makes use of the d20 Open Game Licence to more or less recreate Old School D&D/AD&D, using some of the D&D3.5e d20 SRD mechanics and definitions. The PDF is free, the physical POD books are sold at cost.

It's nice to have it in physical form. I've had it sitting on my hard drive for years and years.

Meeples of the Sea


In our most recent D&D session, we were engaged in some nautical shenanigans, and could have used some ship models.

Continuing my policy of making exactly what we need for our games just too late to actually need them, I printed these very simple little tokens from STLs I found on Thingiverse.

There's so little detail there that it's hardly worth bothering painting them, so I won't. Besides, I quite like the look of the translucent red resin.

They printed support-free, so of cleanup there is none.

I printed some in FDM as well, for comparison.

They required a lot more post-print work, due to the stringing I just can't seem to eliminate from my FDM prints.

These ones are printed at a layer height of 0.1mm, and it took about 6 hours to print four of them. Considering the lack of detail, I should probably have dropped that to 0.2mm — it would make no functional difference, and it would cut the printing time in half.

Still, I've got them now, and I'm not likely to need any more.

In spite of which...

I whipped up this very basic little 14th century cog.

It's designed at about 70mm long, which would make it roughly 1/200 (small cog) to 1/300 (large cog) scale, but I didn't design it to be any particular scale. It's just intended to be small enough to go conveniently on the gaming table, and large enough to be able to tell what it is.

I've put the STL up for sale on at

Kettenkrad and Goliath


The prolific Mr. Bergman recently released his 1:100 scale models of the Kettenkrad tracked motorcycle, and the Goliath and Springer demolition vehicles.

The Kettenkrad had no driver, so I made one for it.

Kettenkrad and Goliath, on and off its trailer

I've printed the Goliath both on and off its trailer, and I'll base the Kettenkrad and trailer in such a way that they can be used together or separately. The little Goliath on its own can just go on a washer, like the infantry.

Next day...

The Goliath is painted and mounted on a 22mm washer.

It is both teeny and tiny.

Next next day...

Finished the 15mm Kettenkrad to go with the 15mm Goliath.
Will it ever see any use on the tabletop? Maybe, maybe not. Better to have it than not, in my view, because you never know.

Next next next day...

Here's the Springer demolition vehicle from the same set. Again, it lacked a driver, so I added one myself.

The Springer was based on the Kettenkrad tracked chassis with an extra set of road wheels and lacking the front forks, and carried a demolition charge of 330kg. It was driven near to its target, and then the driver dismounted and it was guided on to the target and detonated, either by wire or by radio control. It was, naturally, pretty dangerous for the driver-controller.

It was a single-use device, and was really too complex and expensive to be justified; only about 50 were made.



This is yet another remix of the work of others.

The body of the JgPz IV comes, I think, from the ever prolific Mr. Bergman; I've just refined the gun and mantlet a bit, and cut off the old running gear.  The running gear I've used has been extracted from Zac Kuvalich's (TigerAce1945) remastered Panzer IV model.

At some stage I'll probably also do a JgPz IV/70, since it would require minimal extra work. The front road wheels would need to be swapped for steel wheels, and the gun barrel would need to be replaced with the much longer (and muzzle brake-less) L70 gun. Though considering the relative fragility of the resin, I might just add a socket to the mantlet, into which I can glue a length of brass rod or tube.

The test print went very well. I'll call that a success, I think.

I've very rarely printed vehicles with separate running gear in FDM; I've seldom found it to be worth the extra trouble. However, it's a lot more straightforward when printing in resin, and the additional track link detail is nice to have. It will simplify painting the upper run of tracks as well, to be able to paint the tracks separate from the hull.

And here it is, all painted and decorated and ready for the wargames table.

Coupla days later...

The hull of the JgPz IV/70 is done and printed.

As I suggested earlier, rather than printing a fragile resin gun barrel, I just put a socket in the mantlet and used a 2mm brass rod. It's a tad too thick for a 75mmL70 in scale, but not too egregiously so, and it will be much, much more hard-wearing this way.

Modifications to the hull for the L70 version consisted of adding a gun barrel lock on the glacis, doing away with the left front MG port cover, adding another spare wheel, and filling up the rack on the rear of the engine bay with spare track links.

The redesigned running gear, with new steel wheels on the first bogies, is on the printer as I type this. It should be ready in about an hour, all going well.

And yet another day...

The JgPzIV/70 is all painted, and I've experimented with a new colour scheme, with which I am not entirely satisfied. Oh well, there's always another day.

15mm Vehicle Passengers
I have been messing about in Blender, sculpting some 15mm WWII British infantry that I can use to populate transport vehicles.

These ones are wearing variants of the Mk.III "turtle" helmet, introduced in 1944, and worn (with modifications to the liner and strap) right up until 1985, when it was replaced by the kevlar type similar to that worn today.

I printed these guys on my Mars Pro, and I'm pretty happy with them overall. There's more that I can (and will) do to them, and I'd like a wider range of poses and weapons, but as a proof of concept I'd call them a success.

Next Day:

I've put these, and some other sets, up at my shop on

Some Brits in Mk.II helmets. These helmets remained in use right up until the end of the war, but were gradually replaced in service.

And some early WWII Germans:

Here are the Germans added to a SdKfz 7 STL, and all printed together.
This gives better, more natural results than printing the figures separately and then gluing them into an empty model.

Decals for tiny aeroplanes


I hate using decals, but I also hate painting RFC or RAF roundels. So, decals it is.

However, these little aeroplanes I printed (this one is a Sopwith Camel) are 1/200 scale, not a scale that anybody but me is interested in, it seems. 

Fortunately for me, somebody recommended to me Kevin Hammond of Miscellaneous Miniatures, and he very kindly whipped up some custom-sized sheets of RFC roundels, German crosses, and some lozenge pattern camouflage.

His prices are very reasonable, his customer service is exceptional, and he sends out the decals by letter post, so postage rates aren't nearly as terrifying as USPS parcel rates have become in recent years. It took about two weeks or so for my order to reach me here in New Zealand from him in the USA.

The decals on each sheet are all printed on a contiguous piece of film, so they need to be trimmed before use. However, the film seems to be very clear and reasonably thin, so its edges disappear under a coat or two of matte varnish.

Note: this is not a very good 3d print — I did it when I was brand new to using ChituBox, and I didn't do the supports very well at all. However, it's still recognisable as a Camel, so I see no reason not to make use of it.

 This one is an Albatros D-II, also in 1/200 scale. It's not my design, and I'm no longer sure who it was who originally created it — I've had the STL for quite a while.

This model doesn't have three-dimensional wing ribs built in, so the ribs have had to be painted on. All in all, that's no big deal — in fact, it probably makes life a bit easier, especially when it comes to applying decals.

Library in Miniature


I'm not sure what the function of this piece of jewellery is: maybe a belt buckle, or a wristwatch with a spring-cover.... I don't know.

However, in a D&D game, this is obviously a portable wizard's library, magically compressed into some kind of little stasis bubble. The wizard could, with the appropriate commands, enlarge it again and free it from its stasis, refer to any of the volumes or items on the shelves, and then shrink it back down again and return it to his pocket or pouch.

I imagine it would be a highly sought-after item for a travelling magician, though with the particular down-side that one's entire library could be stolen by some random pickpocket.

My First Proper Dice


These were the first dice I ever bought for playing AD&D with, back in 1981. The red ones came with a yellow crayon to rub into the numbers; I don't remember what colour the yellow ones came with as I coloured them with a Rotring pen instead.

The green-numbered yellow d4, the red d10, and one of the red d12s aren't my originals. I don't know what happened to my original d10, nor where this one came from.

They've stayed in reasonably good condition, considering the shitty soft plastic they're made from. That's mostly because as soon as I could (still in 1981) I got myself some harder, sharper, much more expensive Gamescience dice to use, and put these ones aside.

That d20 is actually a d10 — it's marked 0 to 9 twice, and it's always been my favourite style of d20. I marked one set in black and the other in red, using the reds as 11 to 20; I once had a second one as well, and I have no idea where it has got to. I didn't bother buying an expensive Gamescience d6, since they were so readily available just about anywhere.

I used these dice for years and years before I started expanding my dice collection, which is now reaching the point of being a bit excessive.

10mm BAOR 3d Prints


A while ago, before PSC had got around to releasing its 10mm NORTHAG stuff, I thought I'd 3d print some for myself. At that time I only had my Ender 3 printer, and though the resulting prints were okay for game pieces, they weren't fantastic.

Recently I got myself an Elegoo Mars Pro resin printer, so I thought I'd print some more to see how they'd look. I'm pretty happy with they way they turned out, in the end.

I doubt that I'll proceed with this project though. Now that infantry are readily available from PSC and elsewhere, and the amount of infantry I'm liable to need for a game means that the cost isn't too exorbitant, there doesn't seem to be all that much point in DIY stuff.

For comparison, here's a fire-team I printed in PLA
on my Ender 3 FDM machine.

Bebilith (WiP)


The Bebilith is a gigantic spider-demon-thing that first appeared, I think, in AD&D2e Planescape.

The Pathfinder SRD definition of the creature can be found at

Resin in red, PLA in black.

Schlossbauer, on Thingiverse, has his own version of a Bebilith, which I have downloaded and have attempted a couple of times to print, both in resin and in PLA, with very limited success with the limbs of the thing. It's not a model that is well adapted to FDM printing. However, now that I'm beginning to get to grips with resin printing, I've given it another go, more successfully this time.

Schlossbauer's model in 3d Builder

The model is too large for the build volume of my Mars Pro, and rather than scale it down, I decided to cut it up in Blender. I printed it in three batches: the body, the six legs, and the two scythe-claws.

This had the advantage of making supporting the elements quite a bit easier. However, assembly was made slightly — though only slightly — tricky because I had to match the right leg to the right socket. Fortunately I'd had the foresight to make each plug and socket a slightly different shape, so it was only a question of matching the shapes.

One last leg to fit, and then the scythe-claws

One interesting thing about resin printing is that it turns out to be a bit less dimensionally precise than the prints I get from my Ender 3. I had to file the plugs a bit to get them to seat properly in their sockets; fortunately the resin is very soft, so it was easy enough to do.

I glued it together with ordinary superglue.

The softness of the resin will make basing this model a necessity. The attachment points of the legs and claws will inevitably break if given even slightly rough handling.

Once the claws are finished printing, in an hour or so, I can get them fitted, put the thing on a base, and then get on to painting it.

And here, a couple of hours later (after going out for some more superglue) it is. I've sprayed it with a coat of Vallejo IDF Grey surface primer so that I can see what's going on — the translucent resin is very tricky to the eye. The seams where the limbs have been joined are very apparent; they'll need to be filled.