Tuesday 28 November 2023

New sci-fi terrain, plans for the new year, and hobby stuff...

 At the end of last week I released another new sci-fi video...

...in which I added some free-standing walls - which could also be used/repurposed to make sci-fi layouts on multiple levels. Here's a better picture of them if you're not interested in watching the video tutorial:

And, I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with how they've turned out! (note that you can pick up the pdf file HERE if you want to have a go at making some yourself).

* * *

It's also that time of year where I have to start thinking about whether or not to do another 'dungeon build along series' (if you're not familiar with the previous ones, you can find the playlist HERE) - as they are quite a lot of work, and I (obviously) have to get the pdf finished, the encounters written, and at least one video filmed, by the end of the year (so that episode 1, along with all the textures, can be released the first week of January).

And since I've been umming and arring about whether or not I should do another level of the dungeon, I thought I'd put the question to my Patreon supporters and youtube Members...

...and it seems that, out of the two options presented... Dungeon Build Along Season 3 is the way to go.

As such, I'm thinking that maybe I could introduce some 'elemental' themed stuff into this one... maybe even having a ruined tile (i.e. a tile with a hole in the middle) - and we could swap out the bottom piece for various effects... something like this maybe:

So the bottom 'texture' could be water, or lava, or something like that - and that just slots underneath the main tile for whatever 'elemental effect' is in play for the room in question (if that make sense ;) ).

In the meantime I could maybe try to squeeze in a 'quick craft' video or two - where I make some small elemental creatures to use in said encounters. Here's a couple of prototypes I put together yesterday (note that the GW model is just shown for scale):

However, there's already a bunch of videos out there (on other channels) showing how to make this kind of thing - so I could just refer to those instead I suppose. But if it's something you'd like to see, then please do let me know (EDIT: maybe a blog article would be a better fit for this kind of thing - similar to the written tutorials that I used to post here).

* * *

In other news, on the hobby front, I've been getting a bunch of stuff ready to play 5 Parsecs: Bug Hunt (though I'll be going with a 40K theme rather than the default setting).

And while I'm still getting all the relevant units together for my various 'teams' - I have been painting up a bunch of poxwalkers (which I picked up pretty cheaply on Ebay) to use as 'shambling re-animations' (I think that's what they're called anyway).


Though, to get them to the table ASAP, I've gone with a pretty quick paint scheme on these guys - so just primer, base coats, and then washes...

...which works well enough for horde monsters I think.

And sticking with the undead theme - earlier in the year my brother backed the Dungeon Saga Origins kickstarter (it's a dungeon crawler board game), and he asked if I would like to get in on his pledge, and see if there was anything that I would like to get.

So, I got one of the miniatures expansions (a set of 18 undead mini's for £18), and since the game has  recently fulfilled - he handed these off to me yesterday...

...and although it was advertised as an 18 mini's set - they actually supplied 20 (which was a nice surprise).

And for board game pieces that cost less than £1 per model - they're pretty good I think. I'm certainly looking forward to splashing some paint on them (whenever that may be).

* * *

But yeah, I think that's it for this little update (or whatever you want to call it). As I say, it looks as though I'm committing to doing another level of the 'build along' dungeon in January - but that might mean that I'm a little quiet in December - because, as I say, there's a lot that goes into making those.

Thursday 26 October 2023

Halloween Nonsense...

It seems that, more by luck than judgement, some of the projects that I've been working on this year have kinda culminated in my recent 'Halloween Special' video (which I've just uploaded to Youtube):

So, if I go back in time a little bit, back in April I thought it would be a good idea to sort out a bunch of mini's that I have lying around and 1) get some paint on them (as I have quite the pile of shame), and 2) use those as the inspiration for a little D&D adventure that I would put together (just as a little personal project - as I like to have a few one-shots up my sleeve for emergencies ;) ).

Anyway, as I mention in the video, some of these were board game pieces, some were basic kit-bashes, and others were just things that I've had lying around for years:

So, the first job was to get them primed...

...then get the basic colours and the washes applied...

...and finally just tidy/highlight them back up with the same colours that I used for the base-coats (as I didn't want to fuss over them too much with numerous highlight layers):

Though, as you might have spotted, I did swap out the lady (who has someone's heart grasped in her outstretched hand) for this guy...

...as I thought he'd make for a better 'cult leader' (and because I think the original model would be a better fit for a Vampire Spawn... which would be way too powerful for a 1st level adventure).

Anyway, armed with the monsters that I would need for most of the encounters, I then set about writing a few notes for the adventure itself - which, of course, needed to be set in a graveyard - just because that was the terrain that I was working on at the time (as you can see in THIS video), and also because most of the models I'd selected were either undead or cultist-looking.

However, I usually like to throw in some dungeon exploration as well (I do have a lot of dungeon terrain after all) - so I decided that the main location for the adventure would be split into two parts - the first being the graveyard, and the second being the catacombs.

As such, I would need to transition from the graveyard to the catacombs somehow... and I thought that the ideal way of doing that would be to have some kind of entrance in an old mausoleum - something that would lead down into these underground crypts. And, since I've had an idea for a mausoleum video on the to-do list for a while - this seemed like the ideal time!

And, throughout all of this, I was slowly putting a couple of maps together (bit by bit), as I fleshed out each encounter (as you can see in the picture below, I decided to go with the classic 'blue' look for these), and trying to make sure that it could all be made with the 'print & paste' terrain that I've been putting together these past few years.

But, as you know, once you start putting pen to paper (or in my case, fingers to keyboard), things can sometimes take on a life of their own -  and you start thinking to yourself ...maybe the characters will try to convince the NPC guardsman to accompany them? ...perhaps there are some other minor annoyances in the catacombs? ...should I have a token or something to represent the cult fanatic's spiritual weapon spell?

So, as you can imagine, that resulted in me digging around in my bits box yet again, and putting a few more miniatures together...

...and since I'd recently made some (very quick) 'giant fly' models for Rangers of Shadow Deep (which is a great game BTW), I thought I would include those as well:

So, here's all of the models once they had been based (with some Geek Gaming 'scrublands' basing material):

- I also found a very old GW? snake while I was rummaging around - so that ended up in the adventure too -

Anyway, back to the adventure...

Once I had it all written down (originally in a shorthand form that would probably only make sense to myself), some basic maps drawn, AND most of the terrain I would need if I was to run it in person...

...I started to think that perhaps I should turn this into a short 'tips and tricks' video (or something like that) - just in case some of this stuff would be useful for other folks too ...and maybe include a couple of new textures for some of the specific terrain pieces as well (originally just the corpse's head for the statue).

However, as you've seen, that short 'tips' video evolved into something more akin to a regular episode (and a longer episode at that), and my notes got tidied up into something a bit more presentable - and all of that culminated in the latest pdf file (which is pay-what-you-want, and can be found HERE).

That being said, in the video I show how the finished dungeon might look if you are using some of my dungeon tiles - however, I forgot to include a separate image showing how the individual tiles go together (that is, if you are using my suggested arrangement).

So I'll correct that now with this image...

...which, if you look at the example on the right, shows the exact placement of each individual tile!

And with that I think I'll bring this post to a close. As you can see, it's been a rather lengthy (and somewhat unintentional journey) to get this video released - but I think (or at least hope) that it's been an interesting one (it's been a fun one for me nonetheless... especially when I got to playtest some of the encounters with a couple of friends :D ).

Monday 2 October 2023

More Print & Paste Terrain

Last month I forgot to post about some ‘print & paste’ tents that I made…

...i.e. the kind of thing that could be used to put together a little campsite for the PCs when they’re out in the wilderness – or maybe (if you make a lot of them) that of an army on the march – or even (if you made some of them look a bit tatty) something more akin to a goblin camp.

Anyway, that was last month’s project… and this month (since it’s Halloween in a few weeks time) I’ve expanded on the graveyard terrain, and made a simple mausoleum…

...which has turned out pretty nice I think :)

And, as always, you can pick up the pay-what-you-want pdf files for both the tents and the mausoleum over on DriveThruRPG.

* * *

Also, since I’ve been playing some Rangers of Shadow Deep every now and again – that will sometimes prompt me to make a few bits of terrain for some of the scenarios featured in the main rule book.

So, as you can see in the pictures below, one of those scenarios calls for a small farmhouse – one that needs to be playable AND needs to have the positions of all the doors and windows clearly shown.


And so I thought I’d try out something similar to what Wyloch does with his clip-on features… and I think it’s worked pretty well. It might even be worth a quick ‘tips and tricks’ video at some point.

-a picture of the set-up before the game began-

* * * 

Another thing I'd like to get finished this month, is a little graveyard-themed adventure of sorts - just something that could be run as a Halloween one-shot (i.e. the kind of thing that would put the mausoleum and tombstone pieces to use - as well as a handful of dungeon tiles).

Now, I'm not sure if I'll actually manage to get it done (as I don't think I'll be running a Halloween game this year) - but the idea is there... it's just a matter of getting it out of my head and onto paper (in a form that will make sense to folks other than myself :) ).

Note that you can get these maps in their current form over on Patreon - and you don't need to be a member to view/grab them.

* * *

Anyway, I think that’s if for this post – I’m not quite sure what I’ll be working on next with regard to the Print & Paste stuff (I might have to do a poll over on Patreon) – but I have a to-do list as long as my arm, so I have a few things to choose from if I get stuck :)

Friday 22 September 2023

D&D Adventurer Magazine… another look (part 2)

OK then, as promised, here’s a quick look at what’s contained in issue two of this new D&D themed ‘partwork’ by Hachette…

So, as you can see in the picture above, this second installment contains another set of dice, and a large map (in addition to the magazine).

And if I start things off by taking a quick look at the dice…

...they’re pretty much what you’d expect them to be – they’re a standard set of seven dice in the clear ‘gem’ style – but they also have little flecks of micro-glitter (or some-such) within them – which gives them a bit of a pearlescent sheen when the light catches them.

And, as for the map…

It’s the same overland map that you can find in the D&D Essentials Kit – but this time it’s much larger (the original was roughly A2 in size – this one is more like A1), plus it’s also printed on thicker paper/card (think of it being similar to one of the Paizo flip-mats – but without the wipe clean surface).

Here it is pictured alongside the 'essentials' map – just so that you can get a better idea of how big it actually is:


So, if you plan on running the ongoing campaign featured in these magazines (or would like to add it to your original starter set, or the new Phandelver book that’s just come out), then it will probably be a very useful thing to have. However, unlike the one in the Essentials Kit – it is only single sided.

Now, onto the booklet itself…

Much like the last issue, I don’t have any issues reading through it (as it’s basically just going over things that I’m already familiar with) – but I’m still not quite sure if jumping around from one subject to another will be helpful or confusing to someone who is totally new (hopefully someone who is new will be able to clarify that).

For example, this issue jumps from inspiration, to resting, and then to spellcasting in short order... and then muddies the waters a little by stating that you shouldn’t confuse regular inspiration with bardic inspiration… but also not to worry about that… because they’re not covering bards yet (which begs the question - why bring it up then?*)

*note that the reason I think they bring stuff like this up, is because of the repeated reference to ‘making your own characters on D&D beyond’ – rather than just sticking with the pre-gens for these first few introductory scenarios.

And speaking of the scenario featured in this one…

...it doesn’t really carry on from the encounter in the first issue (other than mentioning the same fallen elven kingdom) – so it’s yet to be seen what direction they’ll be going with for the overall campaign (i.e. will it be more like the Phandelver boxed set? or more akin to the notice board quests of the Essentials Kit? or something else entirely?)

Either way, it’s a fairly simple dungeon ‘fetch quest’ - with a couple of things to fight, and a couple of skill checks to be made.

It’s not anything to write home about – but if you’re new to RPGs, you don’t really want to start things off with anything too complicated I suppose.

One of the nice things about this one though, is that you get a player handout to give to the players… however, the downside of this is that on the reverse side are the stats for one of the monsters… one that’s meant to be a bit of a surprise. So that could have been thought out a bit better I think.

But yeah, on the whole, £4.99 is not too bad of a deal if you’re in the market for another set of dice and a poster map of the Phandelver region of the Sword Coast.

* * *

I’ll now move on to the ‘free gift’ that you get as a subscriber bonus…

 ...and, as you can see, it’s a nice faux-leather style dice tray with neat stitching. It’s the kind of thing where you can un-pop the press-studs and fold flat – which makes it easy to store and transport.

So, much like the dice, there’s not much more to say about it. It’s the kind of thing that does a job, and does it well IMO. It’s a nice thing to have.

* * *

So, to sum up, what do I think overall.

So far, these first two issues seem like a pretty good deal – even though for me personally, I don’t have much use for the booklets (but I’m not really the target audience now am I). And while I have been sent this first delivery packet for free (as I said, this is because I took part in the previous trial), I would have still bought these first couple of issues anyway.

And if you’re a new player (or part of a new group) I think these first two issues are probably a good purchase... even if you’ve already got one of the starter boxes - as a couple of extra dice, more pre-gens, plus a nice overland map – all of these aren’t bad things to have.


However, these ‘partwork’ subscriptions, they do tend to be quite expensive over time – so it remains to be seen if they’ll be worth it in the long run. For me, this will largely depend on the kind of things that accompany each issue.

If, for example, each issue ends up having an encounter/adventure that can be run with minimal fuss, that’s not too bad. However, for £8.99 per issue (as that’s the price from issue 3 onwards), I would expect a lot more – miniatures/standees/tokens for PCs and monsters, maps and tiles and/or postermap encounter areas to help run the adventures, handouts and props that aren’t just a page torn out of the booklet… basically everything that I would need to run a game in a premium ‘beadle & grimm’ fashion (as this subscription is going to cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds in the long run – so it really needs to be something special to draw me in).

However, unlike other partworks, this one is a little bit vague on what you’ll actually be getting. I mean, I’m assuming that there will be ‘something’ packaged alongside each booklet (as that’s how these things usually work) – but until we know what those ‘somethings’ are, it’s going to be hard to judge its value.

As a quick example, when a ‘warhammer’ partwork is released by the same company – it usually contains something like this in the first issue…

 ...so that you can see everything you’ll be getting up front (which usually works out to being a reasonable saving compared to if you had bought the same items at a GW store). With this new D&D Adventurer partwork there is nothing like that so far (other than the fact that we know that there’ll be some 2D acrylic PC mini’s in #3, and a large d20 & dice bag in #4 ...plus the various ‘free gifts’ for subscribing online).

So, what am I going to do? 

Since I got this first delivery for free, I’m going to pay for the subscription for next month’s four issues… and then report back to see if I think it’s going to be worth it in the long run.

And, while I have my doubts that it will be the kind of thing I’m hoping for (something akin to the ‘dungeon in a box’ type of subscriptions that you can get elsewhere) – I’m still hopeful that I’ll be proven wrong :)

D&D Adventurer Magazine… another look (part 1)


Around this time last year, Hachette Partworks did a trial (4 issue) release of a new D&D magazine.

At the time, they didn’t make it clear that it was only a trial (I have since found out that this is a common practice), and so I subscribed – as I thought it was an interesting idea.

However, because it was only a trial (i.e. it went on sale in a very limited area) – they didn’t actually charge you any money if you did take the time to subscribe online… but instead sent you a free (random) issue when the trial concluded (as a way of saying thank you for being part of their market research I guess). 


So, that was nice… the issue I got sent was #1… and if you want to see what I thought about it back then, I have a separate blog post HERE which I wrote at the time.

Anyway, I assume the trial went well – as they’re now going ahead with a full release… and because I subscribed previously, they automatically renewed my subscription for the actual release.

And while that in itself was mildly annoying – the sweetener was that they would be sending out the first delivery for free – once again, as a thank you for taking part in the trial (so I can’t really complain). 


And, true to their word, this is what turned up the other day:



...and so I thought I’d see what’s changed, and share some of my thoughts here on the blog!

So first off, it looks like issue one has been reworked somewhat. I think it still contains most of the same information, but the art and photos are different, the sections have been moved around, and stuff like that.

Noticeable changes are things like, including a reference to Gygax and Arneson this time, changing ‘races’ to ‘species’ (to be more inline with current thinking) and lots of references to D&D Beyond (there also seems to me more ‘DM tips’ sidebars in the adventure section - which is a nice addition). 

And, once again, to someone like me, the contents makes perfect sense (as I’m already familiar with the system and RPGs in general) – but, just like I said last time, it’s hard to know if that will be the case for someone coming into this completely new (as it does jump around a lot). So, it would be interesting to know if anyone that’s completely new to D&D/RPGs picks this up, and is able to actually run the encounter at the end (just using this issue) without any problems (i.e. if that sound like you, then please do let me know how you get on).

A few minor quibbles from me is when they explain that 1d8 means that you roll one eight sided die, and then go on to say that 4d8 means you roll four (I think it would have been useful to clarify that you total that result, because in issue two they describe advantage/disadvantage as being 2d20). There's also the fact that they state that you can sketch-out/photocopy the map of the inn (for the encounter at the end of the magazine) instead of just providing it as a separate handout (I mean #1 of the similar Warhammer ‘partworks’ usually come with a small battlemat to play on – so it’s not like it's something they don’t already do in similar products). 

They’ve also partially fixed the position of a trapdoor in the encounter text… so it’s now in the correct room – but they forgot to change the wording. 

But yeah, one the whole it’s the same kind of thing with the ancillary booklets (i.e. their content is similar to the trial material – just switched around a bit). However they seem to have (thankfully) taken a step back with the dice you’ll be receiving… as it seems like the old plan was going to be dice, dice and more dice… 


-pictured above: the trial blurb-

...whereas now they’ve broadened their horizons a little… 

-pictured above: the new blurb-

...though I do fear that it’s still going to be heavily dice focused – I mean they openly state that each adventure will have it’s own colour coded dice – which seems a bit odd to me. Sure, we gamers like dice, and we sometimes buy a new set for a new campaign or a new character or a new system… but for each individual adventure? ...I can’t say I’ve ever done (or heard anyone do) something like that.

So, while I understand that front loading the subscription with dice is probably a good idea (so a group of players has enough to get started), if it ends up being dice every two or three issues – that’s a bit excessive I think.

Anyway, on the whole, my opinion has stayed the same – for £1.99, issue one is a good deal. You get a set of dice in a little tin, a little starter encounter, four pre-generated characters and enough information to pique your interest if you’re new to all of this. So you can't really go wrong!

-what you get with #1-

However, as a slight aside, those similar Warhammer partworks that I mentioned earlier – they usually have an insert that shows you exactly what you’ll be getting over the course of all 80 issues. There is nothing like that with this one – which is rather disappointing to be honest (as I'm still not sure what I'll be getting if I decide to continue the subscription).

But yeah, that’s my thoughts about issue 1 (i.e. nothing has really changed)... and I’ll take a look at what’s in issue two (and also one of the ‘free’ gifts you get for subscribing) in my next post.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Painting some ghouls


As some of you will know, I've been playing some Rangers of Shadow Deep (RoSD) lately... and that has meant building specific terrain pieces, and buying/painting certain models. And, as you've probably guessed, in this blog post I'll be talking about ghouls... lots of ghouls... :)

* * *

So, first off, a while back I picked up this fellow for £1 (from the bargain bin of Too Fat Goblinz - a store in Stafford), and I figured that would be a good mini to practice my colour scheme on (as I wanted to do something pretty quick - basically just letting 'washes' do most of the work).

Anyway, here it is with just the basic colours added:

And here it is with a few tactical washes (i.e. I've not put one dark wash over the entire thing - rather a different wash over each of the colours):

...which doesn't look too bad. However, after being varnished and properly based (and held at arms length ;) ), it looked a whole lot better:

So, armed with this basic colour scheme (note that I'll list all the colours I used at the end of this article), I made a start on putting some Mantic ghouls together... eight of them in fact... and undercoated them with (brush on) Army Painter Grey primer:

Next I applied all the basecoats...

...then the various washes...

...and finally, based them with some Geek Gaming 'scrublands' (though I did kinda smooth out the step between the integral base and the mdf base with some AK texture paste first). And, just like the test model, once all that was done, they didn't look too bad!

* * *

Anyway, for some of the missions/scenarios in the RoSD core book, there's a couple of different ghoul variants - the first of these being Ghoul Fiends (essentially more powerful ghouls... perhaps akin to D&D ghasts)...

...and for these, I simply did a few hand swaps (you get some weapon holding hands on the Mantic sprues - so that's what I used), and I also used the heads with hair to distinguish them further. However, you only get one 'hair head' on each sprue - so to add a tiny bit more variety I added a second head from the Frostgrave cultists that I've also purchased recently (again, for RoSD).

And, while I did have to dremmel out the neck area, it's a pretty good match I think!

Furthermore, the keen eyed among you might also have noticed that I added some spare pouches and stuff from the Frostgrave gnolls that I painted up previously - again, just to make them stand out from the regular ghouls.

* * *

Anyway, next on the list was some ghoul 'rotters' (disease carrying ghouls that have continued to decompose) - and for these I just opted to use some Mantic zombies straight out of the box...

...and, since they've been painted in the same scheme as the rest of the ghouls - that should (hopefully) differentiate them from actual zombies on the tabletop (that's the plan at least).

* * *

Now, for the final type of ghoul (the 'flingers' - creatures that throw bits of bone etc. at their prey) - that proved to be a bit trickier. But what I settled on was a few hand swaps (using some of the Mantic zombie arms that are clutching a severed arm)... and also drilled out some hands and put some bones into them (again, from the Frostgrave gnoll accessories I think).

I also added a whole bunch of accessories from most of the kits I've mentioned thus far (ghouls, gnolls, and cultists) - just to make it look like they are carrying around a ton of stuff that can be thrown at their enemies:

And, while I'm not 100% happy with the colour that I went for on the dismembered body parts (I think a slight greenish hint would have been a better option), they too haven't turned out too bad:

So, with that, I think I've got all the ghouls I'll need (at least for a while)... and while the main plan was to get them done for RoSD, they'll be useful for RPGs... and I also made sure that I have 20 of them in total... just so that I can use them as a unit in Oathmark (or similar) too:

* * *

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, if you're interested in knowing what colours I used, here's the list (note that they're all from Army Painter):


Flesh: 1 part Mutant Hue / 1 part Filthy Cape / 2 parts Corpse Pale

Bones: Skeleton Bone

Rags: Monster Brown

Rocks & Hair: Field Grey

Wood & Leather: 1 part Dark Stone / 1 part Leather Brown

Metal: Gunmetal

Severed Body Parts: 1 part Barbarian flesh / 1 part Kobold Skin

WASHES (in this order)

Bones: 1 part Soft Tone / 1 part Wash Mixing Medium

*Severed Body Parts: Light Tone

*Flesh: 1 part Light Tone / 1 part Red Tone / 1 part Purple Tone / 3 parts Wash Mixing Medium

Rocks & Hair: 1 part Strong Tone / 1 part Military Shader / 1 part Wash Mixing Medium

**Rags: 1 part Strong Tone / 1 part Wash Mixing Medium

**Metal: 1 part Strong Tone / 1 part Wash Mixing Medium

**Wood & Leather: 1 part Strong Tone / 1 part Wash Medium (add an extra wash: 2 strong tone / 1 mixing medium, over the top to darken it further)

*an extra red wash was applied to any open wounds on the 'rotters' and to the severed arms.

**these are all applied at the same time.