Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Frugal gaming: Easy flagstone dungeon floors

I like using miniatures in my D&D games, as I have probably mentioned once or twice, but the expense of resin or plastic dungeon sets has always put me off. Paper ones are fine, but you have to put a good amount of work into them to make them look good and stay on the tabletop without sliding, and just drawing on a map or using the bare tabletop and having pencils and things for walls is nice but lacks visual panache. 

I think, however, I've figure out what I'm going to do from now on. 

I was making road scenery inspired by a video from The DM's Craft on YouTube, and I picked up a bunch of craft foam to make it with. The stuff I was using for my pavements was this grey foam: it comes in more-or-less A4 sheets and sells for 50p at Hobbycraft. You can probably get it cheaper and larger elsewhere. 

This stuff is soft, cheap, and easy to work with. When creating the pavement, I learned that the way to do cracks and texture on it was simply to draw on it with a blunt pencil. You don't want a sharp point, which will tear the foam: you want a nice rounded one that you can press into the surface. It will leave a darkened indentation that creates texture. 

With my blunt pencil, I drew in a grid of 1-inch squares. 

Then I went over it, adding cracks, stippling and so on to give the squares a little texture and variety. I also added a small border and trimmed off the excess. 

Depending on your preference, you could either cut this into corridor and room shapes or you could just use it as a base and form your rooms with free-standing walls. Which reminds me that I should probably make some walls. I'm going to keep mine in complete sheets because that way I can also use it for plazas, courtyards and so on when doing urban terrain. 

I mainly did this so that I could use it as a base when taking the photos of miniatures I use to promote my podcast, MONSTER MAN. Here's an example: 

So, yeah, cheap and easy to make: I did a sheet of these in about 10 minutes while watching TV last night. Next time I'm in town I'll try to pick up some more; it'll give me a project to work on in idle moments. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Progress updates

Over the last few weeks, I've been working steadily away on a couple of ongoing projects.

The first, as I've mentioned previously, is my Armies on Parade project. This is developing! I have been painting up unpainted models and retouching and rebasing old models. Here's my tally so far:

28 Plague Marines: 18 painted, 8 unpainted, 2 to be retouched.
Sorcerer: waiting to be retouched.
Palanquin bearers: 3 painted, 1 unpainted
Palanquin platform: unpainted
Palanquin rider: partly painted
Great Unclean One: painted
Dreadnought: painted
Predator: to be retouched
7 Poxwalkers: painted
7 cultists: painted
7 Plaguebearers: to be retouched

Totals: 59 models. 37 painted, 12 to be retouched, 10 unpainted.

Days remaining: 33

I've also been adding new episodes to my AD&D 1st ed. Monster Manual podcast, MONSTER MAN. You should check it out if you want to hear my voice talking about stuff.

I've also been adding images showing some of the monsters I talk about on the show using models and toys from my collection!


Ant, Giant!

Ape, Carnivorous!



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

New podcast!

For the last month or so, I have been recording content for my new podcast, MONSTER MAN. It's a show where I read my way through the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual from 1977 and talk about the history, mythology, and game uses of different monsters. Sometimes I have guests.

Anyway, you can visit the podcast site here or find the show in your favourite podcast app. The RSS feed is

Have a listen. If you enjoy it, please share, and if you don't enjoy it, keep your mouth shut.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A possibly impractical plan

So, Armies on Parade is this thing where you put together an army of Games Workshop models and take it down to your local GW shop and people vote on their favourite. I have decided to enter this year, largely as a way to motivate myself to paint some damn models. This may not be smart.

I will be entering my Warhammer 40,000 Nurgle force. Because it's a patchwork of models from so many different eras, I've decided to make that sort of the theme of the entry.

The goal is to include:

Commander on palanquin. This is a custom model made from an old Citadel Sauron supported by four converted plastic plague marines. This model isn't quite finished yet, but most of its component models are almost ready. 2 are still to be painted.

Sorcerer. This is just a regular old sorcerer from the late 2nd / maybe early 3rd edition era. Maybe needs a new base but otherwise pretty much ready to go.

Great Unclean One. The classic. Ready to go.

Dreadnought. Likewise. Ready to go.

Predator. The old plastic rhino with the second edition metal parts and a bunch of kitbashing. Needs a little touching up but otherwise ready to go.

7 80s Chaos renegades. 5 are completely finished, while 2 need new bases and some touching up.

7 pointy-helmet Death Guards of the late 1st / early 2nd era. This combines a few waves of models. 4 are done, 1 needs to be touched up and rebased, and 2 are not done at all.

7 of the not-so-great 2000s metal Death Guard. 2 are completely done, 1 needs touched up and rebased, 1 is partly done, 3 are not done at all.

7 of the new Dark Imperium plastic Death Guard. 1 is done, 1 is in progress and 5 need to be done.

7 Poxwalkers. Completely done.

7 cultists. Completely done.

7 Plaguebearers. Need to be rebased.

In total, then:

Models to be assembled, painted, etc: 13

Models to be touched up and rebased: 12

By the end of October? That's not too crazy.

Also I should make a 2 x 2 foot scenic board for them. That might be a little more challenging, but I have some rough ideas.

More progress reports as I, er, progress.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

More frugal monsters -- with bonus Rogue Trader content!

I've been to the zoo again, which means it's time for more cheap monsters from the zoo gift shop!

These plastic jellyfish are 40p each or 10 for £3.50 in the gift shop. Mount 'em on a length of floral wire, base them on a coin, cover the wire up with some foliage, and Bob's your uncle.

In the jungle ruins of the equatorial region, an Imperial officer and his Schweintruppen bodyguards
have a chance encounter with a stingpod.

I think they'll look great as juveniles of the larger floating space jellyfish critter I made from an ornament I found in a charity shop nearly a year ago.

Anyway, here's a writeup of these monsters for Rogue Trader, the first edition of Warhammer 40,000.


This lighter-than-air species is indigenous to Peterson's World. Typically found in schools of 1-2 adults and 2-6 juveniles, they drift across the landscape, paralysing prey with their stinging tentacles and consuming them. The gas that fills their lift sacs is highly combustible; ranchers and mine companies have encountered difficulties when stingpods collide with electrified fences or other energy barriers.


On its first round of hand-to-hand combat, the stingpod attacks with its tentacles, attempting to incapacitate its prey. If successful, it will bite in subsequent rounds unless attacked by another opponent and driven off.

The lashing impact of a stingpod's tentacles inflicts no lasting harm, but causes overwhelming agony that can temporarily paralyse the victim. Each creature hit by a stingpod's tendrils must make a Cl test or be paralysed. It may test at the beginning of each of its turns to recover. 

When a stingpod is killed, there is a chance that its lift sac ruptures and combustible gas is released. Roll a d6: on a 6, the creature explodes like a grenade with S4, D1, -1 save, 1.5" radius. If the stingpod was killed with a las, auto, shuriken, bolt, power, or other similar weapon, it explodes on a 4+ . If it was killed with a flame, plasma, or melta weapon, it explodes automatically. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Further lack of idleness!

In addition to not being idle working on gaming videos, I have not been idle in my painting and terrain-making. I have mostly been trying to catch up with my painting backlog, with special focus on things that have sat around unpainted too long. The fine young folks at the Cambridge University Role-playing and Tabletop Society are starting up a Shadow War Armageddon campaign this coming academic year, so I've been putting together some scenery to go with that as well (and to fit into my existing post-apocalyptic collection). Here's what I've done lately:

I decided to put most of my obstacle and barricade terrain in one place!

This is a collection of scatter terrain, objective markers and so on suitable for that campaign. 

These piles of scrap are made from Ramshackle games miscasts and based on scrap cardboard. 

This walkway is made from 3.5" floppy discs and a few other bits.
Now that I'm volunteering at the computer museum, I suspect I'm going to get through a lot of these. 

Lots of new stuff here, most visibly the Poxwalkers from the Dark Imperium boxed set. 

I finished the storage tank I started about four years ago!

This figure is from Oakbound Games' upcoming minis game, Factious Waste. 

As is this bomb-throwing rebel. 

This barbarian was a quick paint job for my Dragon Rampant army. I think he looks pretty good!

Here's a closeup of one of the Poxwalkers. They're speed-painted with washes. 

A shot showing the construction of the walkways from the photo above. 
Anyway, that's what I've done recently that I have good photos of. More to come!

Friday, 18 August 2017

I have not been idle!

I haven't updated this blog since BOYL, but don't let that fool you into thinking I haven't been busy! I've been painting away, working on some projects for my LARP group, and developing something else that I'm not going to talk about until it's finished. Over the next few posts, I'll be quickly recapping what I've been up to over the past few weeks.

So let's begin with my live-gaming project. Actually, although we intend this as a guide for new GMs within the Isles of Darkness LARP society, pal Bob and I are talking about stuff that's applicable to a wide range of different games in this video series. It's called pre-game hustle and it's aimed at people who have a reasonable level of gaming experience but have never run a parlour LARP.

There are a few videos up already, with more to come, so if you want to see my face make sounds, you can check that out.

Monday, 31 July 2017

BOYL 2017 trip report

This weekend I was off once again to Bring Out Your Lead, an annual event where members of the Oldhammer community meet up to play games, look at other people's games, talk about games ... you get the idea. It was hosted, as it was the last two times I went, by Wargames Foundry, who made some special models available for the event.

So, enough backstory! Let's look at what was there.

I turned up Friday afternoon to find that the main tables were set up and games were already under way.

This is only about half of the massive Helsreach board. 

The marketplace is full of weird characters.  
Meanwhile, the outlaws have their own market. 

Looking across the wasteland toward the gates of Helsreach, which are just out of shot to the left in the first photo. There's more wasteland behind this too; this table is pretty big. 
The game I was mostly there to play was Helsreach, a Necromunda-ish multi-player skirmish set around a single enormous city and wasteland board put together by Curtis of Ramshackle Games and Aidan of Warfactory. This was what I'm gonna call a "megaboard" -- that is, it wasn't a single terrain board for a single game, but a board on which essentially several different games were happening. There were many different skirmishes going on simultaneously, blending into one another, plus, at various times, a jetbike race, a grox-herding game, and so on. This allows the host to get maximum use out of the effort spent on terrain, and I think it's going to catch on.

Speaking of megaboards, there was also a fantasy equivalent: Heldenhofen! This was a huge Warhammer city and outskirts created by the chaps from G.R.O.G (if I've got that right), including Geoff of Oakbound Games, Harry and Chris. It had:

A Blood Bowl (well, Bier Bowl) stadium!

Docks (here still under construction)!



Chivalry! And cows!

Political dissent!

A market!

The Jade Gate!
And more. I did play a game of Bier Bowl, the five-a-side pub version of Blood Bowl, and good fun it was, with tense and action-packed turns that added up to a complete game in less than an hour. But the main thing I was there for was Helsreach. Here are a few action shots from that table (these are really from all weekend, but they should give you an idea of the kind of thing):

Three Jokaero and their pet Ambull in a hand cart. 

This outlaw walker is full of 80s glam style; it's based on a Buzz Lightyear!

Strange figures roam the grounds of a Helsreach building. 

Outlaw jet bikes raid the Squat merchants' land train. 

Hooligans race jet bikes through the Helsreach marketplace. 

Brave men and women of the Imperial Army stand around like jerks watching honest merchants get robbed. 

Drunken oafs sprawl in the alleys. 

A merchant convoy sets out to prospect for salvage. 

Ork mercenaries patrol the wastes in their walker. 

Outlaw Orks swarm into the cabin to punch them a bit. 

Traders spread out across the wastes in search of profit. 

The Ork dropship lands in the desert. 

Armoured knights hunt for valuable plants near the walls. 

Missionaries spread the word of the Emperor -- and, er, rob the water merchant. 

Corpses dot the street after traders and mercs "salvage" some water barrels. 

Imperial authorities arrest a protestor while traders sneak off with water barrels. 

This is the Mayor of Helsreach. 

This is the Mayor of Helsreach emerging from his robot Wrong Trousers after being shot; turning out to be an alien snake monster is the kind of political scandal you don't really recover from. 

Other games were going on too -- I didn't get many photos on Friday, but there were people playing WHFB, Space Fleet, Dark Future, Rogue Trader and lots of other games.

These classic Orks were even being used in a game of (whisper it) modern 40K.
As is traditional, there were free figures to be had, donated by the generosity of community members. One was the mayor of Helsreach (the regular guy, not the alien beast) from Ramshackle, and the other was this familiar figure, sculpted by John Pickford: 

Not a bad haul for day one.

Friday night! Pub! Beers! Philosophisin'! Bed! Saturday morning!

Saturday saw even more Helsreach action for me, plus a short-lived career as a Dwarf giant slayer in Heldenhofen, and by "short-lived" I mean "died like a dog on turn one." There were also the Helsreach jetbike racing and grox herding games, which I took some pictures of but didn't play. 

Yee-ha! Git along, li'l groxies!







Erm, excuse me, where was I? 

Other stuff on Saturday included a lovely chat with classic gaming artist Tony Yates about our favourite Marvel Comics artists and the wild fact that these great creators were making things that weren't really meant to be reread, collected, studied or displayed. And of course there was the painting contest. I didn't get shots of too many of the entries, but I did snap pics of a few, including some of the winners: 

I believe this was one of the winners. 

Aidan's plague doctor won a prize, as did the huge Ork walker you saw earlier (built by Mr Papafakis).

I mentioned Tony Yates, but in addition to him and (of course) Bryan Ansell, other luminaries of British gaming present included Tony Ackland, Kev Adams (sculpting for charity again), Rick Priestley and Nigel Stillman. Nigel brought his Bretonnian army: 

Sadly, my photo isn't very good, but you get the picture. Bright colours, named characters, multiple coats of gloss varnish.
The old ways are not forgotten. 
Saturday night! Bar, figure trading, laughing until hoarse. 

And then Sunday!

A six-way Realms of Chaos bash on a mighty ziggurat. 

Praetorians ride into action in a Rogue Trader battle. 

Nigel Stillman models his reconstructed bronze age Sherden helmet. 

Nigel's home-made post-apocalyptic models, made from toys, model kits and just ... bits and bobs. 

I think I have used both that car and those skeletons in other projects. 

A man who makes post-apocalyptic models from toys must be an exceptional fellow, in my view. 

Ruffians advance on the other side of that RT game. 

I GMed a three-player RT game on Sunday.
Here, Crimson Fist marines take up firing positions as a concerned bystander looks on. 

A reluctant tech-priest is placed under arrest and hustled away. 

The forces of Chaos infiltrate the marketplace. 

A huge game of Space Fleet was still going even as I headed out on Sunday. 
And there were so many other things I didn't get photos of! In particular, there were quite a lot of the smaller games going on -- a couple of WHFRP sessions, several games of Advanced Heroquest and similar. I also didn't get a photo of the Dreadnought bash game I played in; my poor Chaos dread got rolled. Perhaps I was a little too aggressive, but I was eager to get stuck in on its first outing. If you have any fondness for the Oldhammer aesthetic, or just like to see the crazy stuff people make. I can't recommend BOYL enough. The generosity and hospitality of the community astonish me every year, and I come away with new models, new friends and lots of new ideas for gaming projects. 

In another post, I'll look at my model haul from this year and maybe even post some painted pics, so stand by for updates.