Sunday, 28 April 2013

Goblin Aid - Raising Money for Kevin "Goblin Master" Adams

On March 20th, Miniature sculptor extraordinaire Kevin "Goblinmaster" Adams was brutally attacked in his own home by a couple of scumbags.  Thankfully, Kev survived the attack but suffered some pretty serious injuries.

The gaming community has rallied to support Kev in his time of need and, thanks to Ian Brumby (Fenris Games) and John Atter (Frothers Unite), The charity facebook page Goblin Aid was launched.  Unfortunately I passed on Salute this year, but Wargames Foundry were selling a "snorklings" blister of 6 miniatures including a self portrait mini of Kev.

Dear Tony Blair... has an excellent update post showing all the "greens" which have been donated by sculptors the world over to be cast into a series of boxed sets to raise money for Kev.

Thanks also to James "Grim" Desborough of Postmortem Studios for passing on the news.

Friday, 26 April 2013

DIY Gelatinous Cube

Finn gets half eaten by "Jelly Cube"
Adventure Time with Finn & Jake
Gelatinous cubes are one of those classic dungeon monsters you need in your DM's arsenal, in fact I'd go so far to say that if you haven't encountered one you need a new DM.

The commercially produced miniatures are on the whole way too expensive but here's a list in case you have no modelling or DIY skills.
  • Otherworld Miniatures - The go to guys for OSR style fantasy miniatures have 3 versions;  DM16a Standard (£15), DM16b Deluxe I and DM16c Deluxe II (£25).  These are very useable and to the usual Otherworld Miniatures sculpt standards, but pricey all the same.
  • D&D Miniatures - The Desert of Desolation series of minis introduced which you can still pick up (if you have deep pockets) on ebay for £40.  One for the serious collector I think.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - The DIY Roundup


There are basically two ways to tackle this, solid or hollow.  Making your gelatinous cube solid has a number of advantages namely that it will be extremely sturdy durable and you can embed miniatures and other items inside for that partially digested look.  However the cost of resin can be high and it's not a material everyone feels confident using. 

The obvious advantage of the hollow cube is that you can put your PC's miniature inside it and there's a weight saving.  It's a purely personal choice, but here's a quick round-up of the more prominent jelly cube makers out there on the interweb.

Solid DIY Gelatinous Cubes
Hollow DIY Gelatinous Cubes

Make it the Roleplay-Geek Way

You will need:
An old shirt box, ripe for recycling
  • Acetate - I got mine from an old shirt box (I bet you have some old packaging lying around) so was this was essentially free and made me feel good about reusing and recycling.  Most come clear but any colour will do, it just has to be transparent.
  • Hot Melt Glue Gun - I picked mine up from a discount store complete with a couple of packs of sticks for £3, but most DIYers and hobbyists will have one of these already.  If you don't have one of these you can use superglue, but make sure that you add some gluing tabs to your box grid (see Step 1 below).
  • Pen - A Sharpie or other non branded fine permanent marker (like a CD Pen).  Green or Blue are best, but any colour will suffice.
  • Sandpaper - Wet & Dry is best to minimise coarse scratches but essentially any sandpaper will do the finer the better.
  • Ruler - for marking, cutting and folding your acetate.
  • Craft Knife - for cutting your acetate.

  • Sticky Tape - for holding your cube sides together as you glue.
  • 30-60 Minutes of Your Life! - You won't ever get it back but you were only going to waste it watching TV or reading some other persons blog.
Acetate marked out in "Cross Pattern"
Step 1: Get your sheet of acetate and mark out a grid of 2 inch squares (50mm) in the standard folded out cross pattern you learnt in high school geometry class using the pen and ruler.  Like so:

If you want to make a hollow box, cut out a smaller square (approximately 40mm) from one face, usually the end one in the cross pattern. 

If you're using superglue it's a good idea at this stage to leave a thin glue tab around each of the faces as it's really tricky to glue edge to edge without seepage and the inevitable fingers stuck together.

Acetate cut, scored, folded and scuffed
Step 2: Making sure that you have the marked side face up, cut out the acetate cross and score along all the fold lines using the blunt side of the craft knife.  Using the ruler as a straight edge will help you make sharp folds.

box taped and glue up in progress
Step 3: Again, making sure that you have the marked side face up, take your sandpaper and rub along all the inside faces edges to both scuff off the pen lines and to give it a frosted look.

Step 4: Tape each side one at a time and glue the edges together.  The hot melt glue may heat up the plastic and deform your box sides but don't panic at this stage.  Beware, the hot melt glue is exactly that, HOT! and will take a while to cool down, so try to avoid the temptation to touch it as it will burn you, stick to your fingers and go all stringy. 

If you're using superglue instead of hot melt glue try to avoid getting any on your fingers as it's a real pain and you will get finger print marks in the acetate. 

Extra drippy effect applied to outsi
Step 5: When all sides are glued and cooled, strip off the tape and repeat the process on the outside edges.  You can drip hot glue (or PVA) from the top face down each side for that extra... drippy look.

Eh voila, you have a super cheap Gelatinous Cube, or as we say in Sarf East Lahndan, "Jellied Cube for nish, mate!".  You can make your cube's as big or small as you like and in as many colours as you like. Try spicing it up by by glueing miniature swords, shields or bits of that half butchered skeleton you have lying around your bits box, to the inside faces

With a bit of creativity you can use hot melt glue and acetate for all sorts of things like flying stands, Tenser's Floating Disc, magic portals, Walls of Ice, Fire, Force and Fog or any of the Bigby's Hand spells.  Let your imagination and hot glue flow free!.
Finished gelatinous cube happily munching on a GW half-orc

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sci-Fi Ship Morphs Part 3 - Cryo Tubes, Mess Hall, Transporters and Drop-Ship

Continuing the intrepid adventures of SS Morpheus, this week we add:

Cryo-Tubes and Mess Hall

For those deep space missions where you have to go to sleep during the long journey. This also introduces a new basic standard tile.

Without Doors With Doors

Teleporter Bay

Unless you have a shuttle, you need a teleporter to get you planetside.
Teleporter Room

Shuttle

If you're gonna have a shuttle you might as well have a dropship, just remember to shut the doors when you've left.

Dropship / ShuttleShuttle Bay Doors Open

Escape Pods

If you need to evacuate the ship use an escape pod and always come in handy for secret meetings, just don't let the computer lip read what you're saying... 
Escape Pods

Daves Mapper

All the tiles for this and previous posts in this series have been uploaded to Davesmapper.com, so go get mapping!

Previous Posts in this Series

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Oblique Strategies - Musical Fun with Brian and Peter

"The internet... if you're not learning a new thing every day then you're doing it wrong."

Brian Eno - Games Designer?
©Rolling Stone Magazine
Today's new thing (well new to me anyway) is that noted producer and all round musical genius Brian Eno is also a game designer.

In 1975, he and Berlin born British artist Peter Schmidt, released Oblique Strategies, a limited run of 500 boxed sets of 113 cards signed and personally given as gifts.   Each card contains an inspirational phrase, question or dilemas designed to focus artists on other ways of solving problems and avoiding creative block.

in the early 80s Eno went further, creating his "Games for Musicians" for the recording sessions of the David Bowie album Outside.  Some of the characters he came up with would not look out of place in a William Gibson novel and on it's release Rolling Stone's critical review aptly characterised it as having a "jury-rigged cybernoir narrative".

It occurred to me how fun it could be for a Neutral (or Chaotic) PC to be furnished with a deck of these cards and for their player to respond to the whims of each card.  A cartomantic verison of The Dice Man, you could even make this into a cursed magic item like the Deck of Many Things.

Thanks to Sword & Backpack for leading me to this little gem and thanks also to Gregory Taylor who hosts a fine Oblique Strategies resource page.

In case you were wondering how much you have to pay for a 1st edition signed copy, ebay has one listed for $4,999!!

The Eno shop will also flog you a brand new (unsigned) copy for the princley sum of £30.  For technocenti an e-version is available at

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sci-Fi Ship Morphs Part 2 - Guns, Guns, Guns

After last weeks effort I noticed that the SS Morpheus would get cut to ribbons in any sort of firefight.  What we need, as Clarence Bodiker would say, is "Guns, Guns, Guns".

Corner Tile Single Ball Turret
Edge Tile Single Ball Turret
Of course if you do get shot up you need a medical bay so the ships doctor can patch you up.

Edge Tile Med Bay
and in the event of your ship being boarded you need some basic corridors to run down.


UPDATE: Tiles have now been uploaded to DavesMapper.com.

Goodbye to all that


before
after
As a child growing up in the North of England in the 80s, it was hard not to have an opinion about Margaret Thatcher.  Her funeral today marks the end of an era and demonstrates her ability to divide the nation as much in death as she did in life. 

Many words have been printed and broadcast about the issues surrounding protests (both physically and via iTunes) at her funeral in the last few days.  This had me thinking about using it as a situational plot in RPGs.

The Funeral of a Divisive Figure

The PCs are in a large town or city (doesn't have to be the Capital) in the day(s) preceding the funeral of a divisive figure.  The city officials (or family) have decided to mark the funeral with great pomp and circumstance and at significant cost during harsh times which has resulted in unrest amongst certain population groups.
  • Protestors Plans - The inn in which the PCs are staying is also being used by a group of protestors planning their direct action.  The PCs overhear significant amounts of information which would be of use to local law enforcers tasked with keeping the peace.  PCs might also wish to give the protestors the benefit of their experience during the planning process, act as messengers to feed information to the public, or disinformation to law enforcers.
  • Taking Sides - Depending on the role the divisive leader has played in the PCs lives, they may choose to abandon their party loyalties temporarily and join the ranks of the protestors and/or the law enforcers.  Warning, this may result in PCs being pitted against each other.
  • Caught in the Crossfire - The inn in which the PCs are staying becomes the target of rioters attention and the inn keeper asks the patrons to defend his establishment.  For added peril, make one of the inn's guests relevant in some way to the deceased.
  • Patron Escort - A chance encounter leads to the PCs being hired by a patron who needs escorting through one of the cities protesting hotspots.  The patron's identity may be unknown to the PCs but of relevence to the divisive leader and the protestors (ie: the deceased's heir or close relative, their right hand man, their biggest critic or opponent, their lawyer, the priest officiating at the funeral).  The patron's final destination could also be of relevance to the days events, feel free to have the PCs charge headlong into a state funeral pursued by a mob of angry protestors.
  • Exit Stage Left - The PCs could stumble upon the truth that the divisive figure is in the process of attempting to stage their own public funeral to avoid past consequences.  The divisive figure turns patron, offering the PCs hansom reward if they can facilitate their safe egress from the city.  Equally useable if you prefer the figure to be loved by the people who form a lynch mob on learning about their idols deception.  Do the PCs handover the individual to the mob or aid their escape?
Enjoy...

Friday, 12 April 2013

International Tabletop Day 2013 - Orpington - Photos

Better late than never, here are some photos from the first International Tabletop Day held at the Temple URC in Orpington, Kent, England.

Renier Knizia's Formula Racing
(this game is far more fun than this photo!!)
Formula Motor Racing

Reiner Knizia's fast paced formula 1 card game was totally new to me, but it was laughably easy to pick up the rules.  Essentially each player tries to get one or more of their cars to the front of the pack by playing cards which either promote a car (and the one behind it) or demote or remove a car. 

This game is all about knowing when to make your bid for the for front and making sure you have the cards to do it.  

I fell instantly in love with it's simple yet fiendish mechanic and I will definitely be hunting down a copy in the future.  Currently out of print

Pandemic

R to L: Paul, Richard, Apo and Mark
play my shiny new copy of Pandemic
A couple of days before International Tabletop Day, I left my job on voluntary early release after 21 years.  My work colleagues kindly gave me a copy of Pandemic as a leaving gift, so  what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than trying to rid the world of four deadly and highly infectious diseases. 

Jonas also brought his copy along including the "On the Brink" expansion.  Always fun and always fiendishly difficult we ended up playing four games without a single win.  Never mind there's always next time (unlike real life!!)

Robo Rally

R to L: Mike, Simon, Kai and Chris
getting their Robo Rally on
This classic game of robot programming chaos is a firm favourite with my regular friday group and it proved to be the same at Tabletop Day.

Not pictured but also played were;

Corsari -

A pirate themed suit collecting game which was far too abstract for me.

Metanauts
Paul's homebrew tabletop mecha fighting virtual reality arena game.  Like Battletech but with a unique theme which only Paul can explain.

Rto L: Carol, Jonas and Mel
playing Pandemic with added chocolates.
Microscope

The GM-less game of epic history timeline creation.  We ended up creating a Victorian sci-fi alternate future where the Americans were in league with Alien invaders held off by a British Chinese alliance.

King of Tokyo

A fun little Yahtzee style dice game of giant monsters battling over Tokyo.  Another instant hit, simple to learn but with lots of tactics, strategy and of course luck.

Thanks to everyone who turned up and made the event a success despite falling on the Easter weekend.  Hopefully next year's event will be bigger and better.  Play more Games!!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Getting Back on the Morphing Horse - Sci-Fi Ship Morphs - Part 1

It's been a while since I last posted some geomorphs (over 2 years!!), but I was spurred on by a recent visit to the Sci-Fi Ships category at Dave's Mapper.  I was surprised to find that only two artists have contributed, so here's my effort:

Curved Grey Walls (Plated Floor, Doors and Windows)

Corner Tiles (150x150px)

Curved Grey Plated
Doors
Curved Grey Plated
Windows Doors

Side Tiles (300x150px)

Curved Grey Plated - Windows No Doors
Curved Grey Plated - No Doors

Side View Edge Tiles (150x300px)

Curved Grey Plated
Doors
Curved Grey Plated
Windows No Doors

Standard Tiles (300x300px)

Curved Grey Plated - Doors
Curved Grey Plated

Feature Tiles (various)

Derived from basic tiles above, these last ones add a bit of colour and flavour. 
Warp Coils3 Engines
Cargo BayBridge

Completed Example

You should now have enough tiles (and variants) to put together a basic small ship like the USS Morpheus. Enjoy.