Friday 27 March 2015


While sanding mindlessly today (so much sanding), my mind drifted away to thinking about initiative determination.

I was pondering a slight simplification of the process.

Rather than having everyone roll initiative separately, each side just rolls one d20. Everyone still gets to add (or subtract) their own modifiers for DEX, spell-casting and what-not to the base number, so there will still be a certain amount of variance, but there are only two die rolls that I have to keep track of instead of five or more.

So, the process would go:
  1. Declare actions (attack, cast a spell, run away, panic, etc.) 
  2. Somebody rolls initiative for your side for that turn (take it in turns, I guess) 
  3. Add/subtract modifiers to see if you go before or after the Bad Guys 
  4. FIGHT! 
Hopefully this would provide a nice balance between the ultimate simplicity of one roll per side without modifiers, and the complexity of everyone (including the four hundred goblins) rolling individually.

99% of the time, the only important thing to know is whether or not you get to act before or after your opponents; having your comrades actions spread all over the turn order is mostly just pointless and irrelevant.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

The Known World Expands

I've been working on some more of my campaign world's maps.

Specifically, I've been expanding the north of the main continent out to the north-west and incorporating Færún's Sword Coast (from the D&D Forgotten Realms campaign setting) so that I can make use of Neverwinter and Waterdeep.

I started our 5e campaign with the Starter Set and its Lost Mines of Phandelver module (which, incidentally, we're nowhere near completing), and all the action in that adventure takes place on the Sword Coast. So, it seemed like a good idea to shoehorn it into my own world.

Progress thus far. Clickupon to enlargenate.
The geographical features are more or less all present, but I still have to add all the place names and roads and what-not in the eastern half of this map — the overlapping area with the existing map of the North. Also, I have to come up with names and terrain for the islands out to the west. I haven't really thought much about what they're like.

Adding roads is way easier since Photoshop finally started supporting dashed and dotted strokes on paths — I think they started that at long last in CS6.

Friday 20 March 2015

Reaper 91008: Desert Thing

91008: Desert Thing
Here's another monster from the Bones II Kickstarter — 91008: Desert Thing, along with an old Grenadier figure for scale.

It didn't sit flat on the table once assembled, so I mounted it on a washer, extended its nest of rocks, and gave it a gullet (and uvula, though it can't be seen in these pics.)

It will do for any of the ground-burrowing ambush critters, like trappers and what-not.

Looking straight down the gullet

Underneath - with a honking great washer for heft

Bring-and-Buy Booty

A few months ago, the Christchurch Wargaming Society held its annual bring & buy sale, at which I didn't sell much, but I did find some stuff to buy. My best score of the day was a shoe-box full of C-in-C micro-armour and resin buildings for $50.

That works out to just a few cents per vehicle or building or whatever. Score!

It's all stuff intended for a late-WWII Soviet army. I don't really have much interest in that particular genre, but I just couldn't resist. I mean, fifty bucks! How could I not?

Sunday 15 March 2015

Reaper Roper

I'm not sure exactly what Reaper's product code is for this; it came with their Bones Kickstarter II, and they don't appear to have been added to their store just yet.
Edit: Turns out it is 77227: Stone Lurker.
Whatever Reaper choose to call it, it's clearly a roper. It doesn't look precisely like any of the ropers described in various D&D Monster Manuals, but it's a stony pillar with six long tentacular arms, so really, what else could it be?

SquareHex Game Mat

I really must get around to painting Annette's figure properly.
This is my 25mm square-hex game mat. Thanks to Living In The Future, getting this printed and laminated at A1 size cost me about thirty bucks, whereas not that long ago it would have been hundreds, and thus unattainable. When I first started gaming back in '81, this sort of thing would just have been a dream.

I like this offset-square layout for gaming on; it provides all the benefits of a hex map (which I've also got several of) while being much, much easier to draw accurate room layouts on without getting lost in counting hexes. We don't go all-out tabletop-miniatures-wargaming style, but it does reduce the chance of mutual misunderstanding when it comes to determining just who is eligible to be brutally dismembered at any given time.

I draw the layouts in dry-erase whiteboard marker. Some colours (red, for example) are a lot harder to erase without solvents than others, but I mostly just use black, so that hasn't been a big issue.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Krita - magic in the dark

There is a free, open source image-making app called Krita that I have just discovered, and this is an early result of playing around with it. His proportions are a bit out of whack; I didn't do any preparatory drawing and just leaped straight in.

It seems to be aiming for the same sort of niche as is currently filled by Corel Painter, and though it's not (yet) as capable as Painter, it has definite potential. Krita could do with some fine-tuning of its user interface, and its brush design capability, though considerable, is a bit opaque to the casual user.

One point where its textural painting falls down is that the texture is defined by the brush, so if you resize the brush, its texture also gets bigger (or smaller), unlike Painter in which a texture is applied to the "surface" you're drawing on, so it remains consistent even when you resize brushes.

Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye on Krita. My most recent version of Painter is VIII, and I certainly can't afford to upgrade to the current version, so something free and good has definite appeal.

Update: October 2023

Krita has advanced enormously since I wrote this, eight years ago. I'd now recommend it whole-heartedly; it's truly excellent.

Toad demon

I've recently upgraded my copy of Photoshop to whatever the current version of CC is — about 15, I think — and I'm slowly finding my way around the new tools and capabilities. Since my last version was CS3, there are a few of them to search out. I must say, although I was sceptical at first, a $10/month subscription turns out to be a lot more cost-effective (and affordable) than paying $600 every few years to upgrade.

This guy doesn't use much in the way of new tools except for some of the newer brush definitions.

As I look at it now, it's a bit flat. I probably should do something about giving it a bit more three-dimensionality and weight, but whether I can be bothered labouring any more over what is, at best, a pretty mediocre picture — well, maybe. probably not.

Or then again, maybe.

Friday 13 March 2015

Lesser Lesser Restoration

 This spell is designed as a stop-gap, temporary remedy for ability loss.

Lesser Lesser Restoration

2nd level abjuration 
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: Touch
Components: V,S,M (powdered stimulant herbs mixed with brandy) 
You draw a magical circle of runes and sigils around a creature and, while chanting the verbal component of the spell, have them drink an infusion of stimulant herbs in brandy. The spell will temporarily reverse 1d4 points of one characteristic loss. If more than one characteristic is below its normal maximum, the characteristic to be targeted by the spell must be specified when the spell is cast.
The spell can be cast multiple times on the same recipient, affecting the same or different characteristics each time. 
The spell will not raise a characteristic above its normal maximum, nor does the spell address any underlying condition causing the characteristic loss — it will not, for instance, neutralize poison, nor cure a wasting disease. 
Characteristic points restored by the use of this spell disappear at the rate of one per casting per six hours. 
For example, if the spell is cast twice to restore, respectively, 3 points of STR and 4 points of DEX, after six hours one point each of the restored STR and DEX would be lost. If it were cast twice with both castings affecting STR, after six hours, two points of STR would be lost — one for each casting of the spell.
Casting the spell using a 3rd level or higher spell slot increases the amount of ability points restored by 1d4 per level above 2nd.

Saturday 7 March 2015

The Size of Money

These should be pretty close to actual size
if your monitor is running at 100ppi or thereabouts.
In our last D&D session, it actually became relevant exactly what size were the coins the characters were carrying. Thanks to the internet, and especially to the miraculous Wolfram Alpha, I can now give a categorical answer to that age-old question.

The assumed weight of coin is 50 to the pound, which means that any coin, regardless of its metal, weighs 9.07 grams. With that information, and knowing the density of the three primary metals for coinage (gold, silver, and copper), Wolfram Alpha gives us the respective diameters for cylinders 2mm high (or thick, if you prefer) of  17.3279mm, 23.421mm, and 25.419mm respectively.

So, there you are. That's how big your coins are.

Friday 6 March 2015

More toys

A new box full of figures finally arrived the other day, courtesy of Reaper's second Bones Kickstarter. It's been a long wait — a lot longer than expected — but I have to say that this time around, once they finally started shipping, my order got to me pretty smartly.

I'm not sure what this guy's official designation is, but last night he was standing in for an empty throne, because I don't have any empty thrones. I clearly need a lot more in the way of dungeon dressing for my little dollies to play with. Yay for Barbie's Dream Dungeon!

As is my habit these days, I've just given this model a very quick shade-and-highlight spray coat, followed by a dark wash to bring out the detail a bit. I may or may not get around to painting him up fully, but this is good enough for most tabletop purposes.