Saturday, November 27, 2010

Painting Gaming Miniatures

It's been a while since I've painted any miniatures, but it was something I enjoyed doing; even though I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  I bought my first set of miniatures when I first started playing AD&D so many, many years ago.  It was a set put out by Grenadier, and it was of different adventurers.  I also got a monster assortment a bit later.  I thought they were awesome, and knew they needed to be painted.  Unfortunately, like I mentioned before; I knew NOTHING about painting miniatures.

Now when I say nothing; I really mean nothing.  I didn't know they needed to be primed.  I was using a set of enamel paints for models.  I still cringe when I think about that.  Of course at the time,  there wasn't the resources that were available today or even ten years ago.  At least that I knew of!  There certainly wasn't the World Wide Web/Internet/whatever you want to call it; with all it's websites and blogs.  I didn't know about any magazine that covered such knowledge; much less any books.  Now there are quite resources websites, blogs, books, and magazines which contain information and tutorials that help teach the craft of miniature painting.

One of the better blogs discussing painting miniatures is wargaming tradecraft from N++ .  If you know nothing about painting minis, and want to learn his blog is the perfect place to start.  He covers it all, or will eventually I imagine, and does so with a nice, clear writing style.  I've learned a few things reading his posts.  I really need to go back, and start taking "notes"; i.e. cutting and pasting text into a word processor.  Hey, it's how I do things, and works great if you make back ups of your files.  Plus, Dave seems to be a nice guy, he gave me some advice about my computer problem.

Carmen's Fun Painty Time! is another good miniature painting blog.  He's a talented painter and terrain builder.  It seems he covers quite a few different genres.  The conversions he made for Gamma World are awesome. I couldn't find any miniature painting tutorials, but you can probably learn quite a bit from just reading his blog, he's got quite a few photos.  He's also talented at converting minis and sculpting new creations.  His photos document his processes well, and he does have some really nice terrain tutorials.  Check out his caveman series of terrain tutorials.  Some very good stuff there, with techniques that can very well carry over into other genres.  There's also quite a few links to the miniature companies he buys from; as well as the companies he buys his supplies from.  If his blog does anything, it should inspire you to be a better painter, sculpter, or terrain builder.

Here's another fun blog, Double 0 Sven .  He's got some great tips on photographing miniatures and some on terrain.  Plus, I really love his concept.  He doesn't just post the photos of the miniatures, he writes stories about what's going on. A web comic of sorts.

The World of Double 0 Sven

Double 0 Sven is a cold, Icelandic secret agent working on behalf of the Scandinavian Government. His mission: to track down the feared SMORGES Board-a band of Smugglers, Muggers, Ornithologists, Racketeers and Genius Evil Scientists.

Every time I read this I laugh.  Sheer brilliance.  That's what I love about this hobby so many creative people involved in just about every aspect of the gaming hobby.

Another fun blog is Doctor Merkury , he's always got some kind of fun, miniature thing going on...

Earlier in the post I mentioned the Grenadier Miniatures I bought when I was just a teenager. They were official AD&D miniatures.  I don't remember what the sets were called, but I believe I still have a few, well, maybe a couple somewhere, and I plan on stripping the old paint off, which I now know how to accomplish thanks to the wonders of the Internet, and I eventually will repaint them.  Where are you Balrog!

I know that you can get prepainted miniatures, but there's nothing like taking a unpainted miniature and giving it your own unique look.  Also, with some practice you can convert or create your own fantastic creations.

Well, I guess that's enough for now.  Trust me, you can find many other blogs and websites about painting minis just by checking out blog rolls, or doing an Internet search.  ( I've got a few on my own blog roll. )  Even if it's a genre or gaming system you aren't interested in; the techniques will be the same, and you can learn much from the different ways people do things.  Good luck, and start painting!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! And other stuff... and pictures!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  Okay, with the mandatory holiday greeting out of the way... ( Well, I've been working on this a while, and technically it's no longer Thanksgiving, at least in my time zone... )

Whew... I've been busy the last week or so, and either haven't had time, or too tired to write.  That, and this computer is sometimes quite wonky, and will close windows willy nilly!  It's really aggravating...

I've been a blog zombie on my downtime; reading and discovering new blogs.  One of which is the new Mystery Blog, and if you like making terrain you should check it out.  You should especially follow the link to making buildings out of foam board.  This guy is AMAZING, and the tutorials are good.  At first I thought the photos were of real buildings.  Even if you only use one or two of his techniques your terrain is going to look better.

I've removed the TARGA link, because well, in my opinion TARGA is dead, embalmed, and buried, with as far as I can tell; no chance of resurrection.  When I first became interested in the gaming hobby again I tried to become a local representative of TARGA, but after an initial inquiry and one email, from the head guy I guess ( which basically said something along the lines of 'we're working on things'... ) I decided to wait, and of course never heard anything else from them.  Oh well...

Since I've discovered the demise of TARGA I wanted to try something myself, but eh... I'm no cleric, and I would have to start from scratch, because I would want to do things my way.  In the end, I decided there probably isn't much of a need for this type of national or international group anyway.  Of course I am going to try to get something going locally to help promote the gaming hobby, but nothing as serious as TARGA.  I want to have a "Gaming Day" every month, if I can find a free, or low cost venue to hold it in.  I really don't want to have an entry fee, unless it would be for charity.  I guess it would be kind of like a one day mini-convention.  I need to do more brainstorming on this...

I've also removed the Giant Mutant Baby from the sidebar.  He wasn't too happy about that, but he was getting a little to big for his diapers. He kept insisting I work on the Giant Mutant Baby roleplaying game, and I told him I wasn't interested. ( Yes, I am in a weird mood, and no, I am not off my meds, errr I don't take meds... )

Over the course of the next month I plan on making more changes to the blog, but that may wait until I get my computer fixed.  I want a better layout, and a new logo/masthead.  I will probably remove the ads also.  I don't think anyone uses them anyway...

I have a question for my readers and fellow bloggers.  Does anyone know about a skirmish level miniature game for the superhero genre?  Preferably rules-lite?  I haven't found one yet, but for all the other genres I like playing I found what I want, and once my cash flow improves, I plan on getting some of Two Hour Wargames products because I have only read good things about them, especially ATZ ( All Things Zombie ).  ATZ won the Origins Award for Best Miniatures Game of 2005.  They have miniature skirmish rules for science fiction, pulp, horror, and western, as well as a couple of other genres.

Once I have replaced this computer, this EVIL computer, I plan on taking it out back, and smashing it to pieces with a sledge hammer.  I will not give it to someone else. I will not sell it for a couple of bucks.  I wouldn't even give it to my worst enemy.  It deserves to be destroyed.  It is a pain in the arse to use.  It keeps freezing up on me, closing windows, and what not.  It's taking forever just to write this blog entry.  And I will use the debris I create from the smashing, crushing, and demolishing of this computer, and use it for making wargaming terrain.  Okay, that felt good, and it was cathartic.  Okay, where was I?

Here's a random thought I just had a moment ago.  I want to make fortune cookies for gamers.  I want to print out the little slips and put them in those horrible cookies.  The idea would be to have a funny fortune, and instead of lucky numbers, you could have a one time bonus to certain die rolls.  You would have a bonus for a d4/d6/d8 etc... One cookie per gaming session, and the player only gets to open it when they want to use the bonus, and they have to eat the cookie!  You could have all kinds of different fortunes.  Like... "Once you have eaten the cookie you gain 10 extra hit points, which are temporary."  Or... "Upon eating the cookie you are teleported to another dimension."  The fortunes could be good, bad, or cause some minor nuisance... "Upon eating the cookie every dog that sees you begins following you for the next week."  Heh... I really like this idea.  I think it would fit in really well with a light hearted fantasy RPG campaign.

I've been reading Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia..  Published by Baen Books, it's a long read at over 700 pages. (  A real monster of a book! Heh... )  It's a really good book, and an interesting take on monster mythology.  Monster Hunter International is a for profit company that, yup you guessed it, hunts monsters for money. 

One of the more unique concepts is that the fedgov pays a bounty ( called a PUFF ), on every monster that a hunter kills.  Of course the knowledge that this kind of evil exists is top secret, and if you start to try and divulge the information about the supernatural, monsters, et al; you can expect a "visit" from a federal agent, probably a member of the Monster Bureau, the fedgov's version of Monster Hunters.  The more dangerous and powerful the monster is, the higher the bounty is.  If a hunter survives to retirement they end up very wealthy, as in buy a third world country wealthy. 

The author's spin on elves in the modern day had me chuckling, the elf queen and other elves live in "the Enchanted Forest".  I won't go into a lot of detail, because I really don't want to spoil it for anyone who decides to read it.  I also think it would make a great modern day horror campaign for a RPG.  The sequel is called Monster Hunter Vendetta.  If you like the horror genre this book is really good.  It's even got giant stone gargoyles and wights!  Yeeeeah baby!

Well, enough for now.  I've been kind of swerving all over the blogging road anyway, but I hope you at least enjoyed my "swerving".   My blog posts might be a bit infrequent for the rest of the year, mainly because this computer is EVIL.  However, I will try my best to post when I have the patience to deal with this beast.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Anyone know what the status of TARGA ( Traditional Adventure Roleplaying Games Association ) is?  When I click on the banner the home page still pops up, but the Wiki page is gone, or at least most of it is.  The blog hasn't had a post since May.  If the organisation is kaput I want to take down the banner on my sidebar, and remove them from my blog roll.

I have a feeling it's dead in the water.  The only thing remotely active is the yahoo group, and it's not that active.  The last message there was in early October.  I guess I'll give it a week.  If I can't find anything out then I start purging TARGA off my blog.

Oh well, life goes on...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Exploring the Blog-o-sphere

I'm leaving the World of Viphtry for just a bit.  I wanted to do a bit of blog-o-shere exploring.

Here's a great blog article about zombie miniatures!  It compares the various sizes of the zombie miniatures by the various mini companies.  It looks like I've found another blog to follow! Vampifan's World of the Undead!  In fact the blog-o-sphere has quite a few zombie-centric gaming/minaiture blogs.  There are far too many to list here today, but maybe for a future post when I'm stumped for ideas.

Propnomicon is one of my favorite blogs.  If you enjoy the works of H. P. Lovecraft and his Cthulu Mythos, the Call of Cthulu RPG, or making props ( especially Halloween or horror props ) then you should check out this blog.

Lord Gywdion over on his, What a horrible night to have a curse...  blog, has a great series of articles on the different tactics players can use to tackle megadungeons.  A must read for dungeon delving players and their DMs.

Here's another great blog and even though it hasn't been updated in a couple of months it's got some great ideas for building terrain.  It's called Terrain from Junk, and yup, it's about building terrain from junk.  Plenty of great ideas here for those of you into miniature gaming.

Well. enough for now.  Time for a bit of reading.

This is kind of how I'm feeling tonight...

Ugh... just not feeling it tonight.  I need to get off the computer for a while and read or watch a movie.  I'll probably watch a movie.  I just finished a Dean Koontz novel.

However, I will leave everyone with a Quirky Quote:

"I just love casting lightning bolts!  It makes me feel so tinnnnggglllyy all over!  Sometimes I throw them just for the fun of it!  Tingly!!!"

Ornth the Orbanth ~ High Wizard in the Sacred Order of the Unnameable Secrets, and possibly the last of the Orbanths, ( whatever they are... ).
Take care everyone, and have a great weekend.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Viphtry: The First "Hook"

In the last blog entry I discussed how writing fiction can help create a campaign world, and set the tone of the campaign.  I really didn't go into a lot of detail, but it makes a lot of sense.  Many people ( GMs and DMs ) get inspiration for their campaign worlds and adventures from works of fantasy fiction.  My idea would take it an extra step.  You write your own fiction, for your original campaign world.  It wouldn't have to be a whole novel, but rather a series of short, short stories.  These in turn can be used as adventure hooks, and "color" for the campaign to help the players get a feel for the world their characters live in.

Also, it doesn't even have to be complete stories, maybe just snippets, a paragraph or two.  Entries into a wizard or sage's journal, or even a letter, would work, and help flesh out your world.  These of course can became hand outs/props you give your players.

Here's one example that I plan on using to get players to the main city of the campaign.  It's a letter from one of the character's old friends inviting them to come to Viphtry.  This is the initial adventure hook.

Greetings _________!

I hope life finds you well, and that you and your family are prosperous.  As you know I traveled to Viphtry to seek my fortune last year, and I have not been disappointed!  I have secured a position at the Castle Viphtry.  I am the second assistant, to the assistant of the Royal Adviser on Civic Improvements in Viphtry, and I am learning so much.  However, once I have earned enough for tuition I will be entering the Viphtry Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences. ( I know I talked about attending the School of Alchemical Cookery, but I decided that sort of schooling would not help out on adventures of the sort we are going to have! )

In fact I have secured a tutor, and have already begun my magical education.  This was necessary, because to enter the V.A.M.A.S. you need to be able to show some magical aptitude.  I can already make my thumb glow with enough light to see by!  This is very handy when I need to go the privy at night.  My tutor tells me I have great potential, and that I will be throwing flaming balls and scorch bolts with the best of them before long.

Well, enough of my ramblings.  Perhaps you should come to Viphtry?  We always talked about adventuring together, and if you want adventure then Viphtry is the place to be.  Plenty of opportunities here.  Viphtry is a great city!  There is usually some sort of festival every month.  Always something exciting going on in Viphtry! 
I am sure you have heard some rumors about how unsafe the city is, but aside from a couple of rare instances caused by undesirables, Viphtry is very safe.  Occasionally ork gangs make it into the city, but the city watch is very diligent in keeping the peace.
If you decide to come I can assist you, at least until you can survive on your own.  Also, if it all possible could you bring a couple of jars of your Aunt's Tok Jam?  No one here makes good Tok Jam.  Upon your arrival here you can meet up with me at the Ork Knob Tavern.  I am usually there every night.  Hope to see you soon...

Your friend,
Jig, soon to be Red Shadow the Wizard!
I think the letter could use a little work, but it's just a first draft.  I would print it on parchment paper to give to the player.  Every player would get something similar, perhaps from the same NPC, if the PCs live in the same town or village.

The letter ( aside from being a hook ), also gives the players a little information on the city of Viphtry.  Not much mind you, just enough to hopefully entice them to travel to the city.  Do they have to go?  No, that would be railroading, but I would hope that they would.  It is after all such an exciting city!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Campaign World Creation Thru Fiction Writing

My post yesterday was just supposed to be a bit of fun, but it has turned into the genesis of a campaign idea.  My Quirky Comments of Fantasy NPCs has spawned quite a few ideas, and an itch to start a light hearted, sort of "gonzo" fantasy campaign.  All of my campaigns have always been on the more serious side.  Now, I don't want it to be completely silly,  sort of along the lines of the BBC show, Black Adder 1, 2, and 3, but set in a fantasy world.

To get a grasp for the world I plan on writing a series of short pieces of fiction set in the country of Viphtry, mainly the City of Viphtry.  Some involve the NPCs I created for the quirky comments, especially Dranch the Smasher, and of course plenty of new creations.  King Viphtry will play an important part, because I envision him as being a possible patron to the PCs.

It will be a world of variable magic, and odd edicts, of grand quests, and absurd battles.  Races and NPCs will be a mixed lot, from the truly bizarre, to the rather boringly mundane.  The elves probably won't really be elves, but the dwarves will definitely be dwarves.

It will definitely be old school, but maybe with a few house rules.  Also some odd charts to use during character generation.  I want a fun, quick paced game, with some occasional outlandish role playing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quirky Quotes for Fantasy NPCs

Okay, this is just for fun, and are mainly intended for quirky or gonzo fantasy RPGs.

"Those who don't wander in the forest, never discover it's wonders." Vokron ~ Soon to be forgotten Sage, who shortly after writing this in his journal, disappeared after wandering in the forest.

"Smashing things fun.  Killing elves fun.  Killing elves by smashing them most fun of all!"
Dranch the Smasher ~ Ork well known for his smashing, especially of elves.

"The King wants a what for breakfast?!?"
Elman, the King's Cook, after learning the King wants a soft boiled dragon's egg for breakfast.

"Cook wants me to go to the market and buy a what?!?!"
Shorty, the King's Cook's Assistant, after learning Elman wants him to go to the food market to buy a dragon's egg.

"They did what?  Arrest them and throw them in the dungeon!  Then execute them!  I need my breakfast!!!"
An irate and eccentric King Viphtry, after learning his cooking staff has fled the castle.

"Wow, this is going to be a busy day!  I've never executed a cook and his assistant on the same day before!"
Delton the Dark ~ Enthusiastic executioner.

"Oops... uh... you see..."
Delton the Dark, and much embarrassed executioner, after learning the King wants to pardon his cooking staff.

"Guys, I didn't think we could afford an inn tonight?  Hey, where's my horse?"
Fredrick the Clueless Bard

"Ouch! That really hurt..."
Swift Fist the Warrior Monk, after trying to demonstrate his version of the Dragon Fist on a stone wall.

"What! A dragon? No, no, no, no, no..."
Resh Dragonsbane, the last words his fellow party members heard him speak before he fled down the dungeon passage; never to be seen again.

"Well, Resh certainly had an ironic last name, and I was only kidding about the dragon..."
Seven Fingered Fred, the Unlucky, but humorous thief.

Well, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them.  I have a lot more, but I think I'll save them for another day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blog of Useful Items Part Two

Okay, apologies for the delay, but I finally got the chance to get this written.  I've had a flu bug or something the past few days, and didn't have the energy to do any sort of cohesive thinking that writing a blog requires.  ( Although, now that I think about it; some bloggers don't seem to think at all when they write their blogs.... )

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, I started this when I was reading some of the magic item descriptions in AD&D DMG 1E.  (  Here's part one.  ) I came across the Robe of Useful Items, and started thinking about some of the odd things that are on it, and really started thinking about what kind of spell is required to turn some of these things into a cloth patch!  As far as I can tell, there is no corresponding spell in the lists that would create these patches, but at some time in the past wouldn't there have to be a spell?  Perhaps it's still out there somewhere?

It would have to be a very powerful spell, and it does either one of two things.  It either transforms the target into a cloth patch ( and attach it to the robe ), or it transfers the item into another dimension, where it's stored in stasis until "summoned" ( by pulling off the patch ).  The patch is merely a "link".

Some of the items on the robe are very complex.  Several living creatures are listed, war dogs, a mule, giant owl, and on the Appendix P listing there's a wasp nest, which is described as normal, with 200 wasps.  Now, I don't claim to be an expert on wasps or their nests, but 200?  That's a lot of wasps...

I find one of the oddest items to be the 10 cubic foot open pit.  Does the wizard have the pit dug, and then cast the spell?  Does it include the sides of the pit, or just the empty space?  Also, when you use that particular patch, assuming your using on the ground or in a dungeon, what happens to what was there before?  Hhhmmmm...

On the matter of the spell, is it just too powerful to let a player character learn?  It would be a very useful spell, in so many different ways.  Carrying large items out of dungeons, smuggling contraband,  a dead party members body, etc...

Also, consider that whatever gets turned into a patch does not age, decay, or deteriorate in any way!  Need to provision your party for an extended megadungeon crawl?  Load up the Robe of Useful Items!

There are two things you would never want to turn into a patch.  One is a Portable Hole, the other a Bag of Holding, trying to turn either into a patch would probably result in a nasty dimensional vortex that sucks everything around into it.  Of course the players wouldn't know this unless they did a lot of research.  There could also be other disastrous results for trying to turn powerful magic items into patches.   At the very least the items should get savings throw versus magic, especially if said items are intelligent.  The same goes for intelligent races and monsters.  Of course if you succeed, heh, having a red dragon patch would be awesome.

Of course I believe this would be a fairly high level spell, and would be expensive to cast, i.e. very costly material components.  Also if it is a known spell, I can imagine that most magic users would closely guard it, and try to keep it secret at all costs.

Then again, maybe the spell is lost to the ages, and would require years of research, and who knows how much gold to replicate?  If the ROUI is rare then eventually, they will all be used up.  So I started thinking that perhaps to make the robe even more useful that there's a chance the robe comes with a wand that can turn items, creatures, things, or whatever, into patches.  It wouldn't have a tremendous range, and a large area of affect would drain more charges.  I also think that magic users are the only ones that should be able to use the wand.  Perhaps one day I will write the wand descriptions in more detail, but I'm really torn as to what to call it?  Wand of Patch Making?

Well, I feel that I've rambled on enough about the Robe of Useful Items.  It really is one of the oddest magic items in the AD&D DMG 1E.  Before I started writing this, I did a google search, but didn't find too much about it.  Then again it was a quick scan.  I've been wondering if there ever was an article in Dragon Magazine about the ROUI?  Anyone out in the blogosphere know?

Maybe next time I will write about the ubiquitous iron spike, the dungeon delvers friend, in all it's various permutations.  It is after all a much more simple thing than the puzzling, mind boggling, and mysterious Robe of Useful Items.