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… 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… 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 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.