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Monday, July 25, 2016

3D Printing

The Printable Scenery Kickstarter for Apocalypse Ruins having delivered, I shopped for a 3D printer and ordered a Flashforge Creator Pro from Amazon, kind of a midrange hobbyist printer, with a 4.5 rating a a good reputation for quality, ease of setup, and tech support from the company. Haven't used the support yet, but I can attest to the other two.

I set it up Monday night and learned to print stuff over the course of the week. Two aspects have been particularly tricky, getting the model to stay stuck down and managing curl from differential cooling of layers of bigger objects.

I have a reasonable solution for the first one, melting some of the waste ABS plastic in acetone and painting/smearing it over the print area of the platform to give good adhesion to the first layer of the print. It was the suggestion from online that seems to best match my printer's print bed, though I haven't yet tried kapton tape.

I have some ideas from online and my own thinking re solving the differential cooling issue, will have to work through them over the next week.

Here's my first painted 2x2" scenery tile from the Kickstarter models collection. I like the result and can see working through a lot more of the set.

Quality has improved a lot from the first 3D printers I saw some years ago at Maker Faire.

Here is the first miniature figure I have printed. He's a 28mm Elf Ranger v2 print, a free model by dutchmogul, downloaded from Thingiverse, printed at 0.1mm resolution, the
highest resolution rating of my printer. It's a simple, low detail figure, printed out really crisply. I feel the layer texture with my nail, but I couldn't really see it on the raw print without reading glasses. It's more visible in this after-priming photo, especially on the flat expanse of cloak.  It took minimal clean up effort with my fingers first and then a bit of Xacto knife work. Primed him with a gray mixed from Americana black and white craft acrylics.

Also pictures of both a good small print and a larger one with cooling curl problems on the print bed. The larger roof piece also has secondarily thrashed support material that got stuck to one of the hot nozzles and dragged out of place, some of it sticking through the roof. It's about two thirds of the way through a poor print. I'd already cleared away some of the dragged support mess before thinking to shoot the photo.

5 Photos - View album

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Combat frontage and dungeon design in D&D

Want to make your D&D combat on a 5' grid feel a bit more like OD&D? Make your basic hallway map square a spacious 15' by 15', translating to 3 combat squares across, or assume three guys fit in 10 feet if playing theater of the mind. Why? Well, back in the day, moving on from playing Chainmail to D&D in early '75,  we packed three guys into line to fill a rank in a 10' hallway, based on historical close order infantry like Romans and Anglo Saxon shieldwalls. One 10' by 10' square held nine, not four guys. Two guy could space a bit open order or split the gaps to the walls on either side and hold a hallway without being flanked, since there was no "snap to grid" of 3rd ed and later, but three could pack in and fight as the first rank.

This makes a bit of a difference in dungeon crawls, since except in real chokepoints like doorways, bigger parties didn't become such straggle-fests of characters with their line of sight to the enemy blocked. A typical optimized heavy melee front of PCs and hireling warriors was three with weapon and shield in front and three more with pole weapons or missiles or casters in the second rank.

The 5' grid of later standardization is for the convenience of miniatures play with big single bases after scale creep had driven up the size of figures to 28mm and beyond, often on 1" circle or square bases. Three dinky little 25mm Minifigs or McEwans on close order basing will fit a 10' passage on those maps as long as you aren't sticky-grid about it.

Does it matter? A bit. Besides more guys obviously getting to do something in a basic hallway, and more possibilities for flanking in a hallway fight, if you don't do 15' but do 10' is three squares, fireballs and other area effects are even more lethal, when over twice as many slavering orcs can pack in and be blasted by one.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Hiring Hall

Hiring Hall is a new web app I made, drawing on DunGen and DunMap. It's a hireling generator, sort of like Meatshields, which helped inspire me to make it by being down long enough to annoy one of the GMs I play with. Meatshields is quite good. I hope it comes back. But in the meantime, and afterwards for variety's sake, give Hiring Hall a try.

There are some shortcomings with it being a one day project, so far. The names are lifted right out of the namer for NPCs encountered in dungeons in DunGen and DunMap. So they are a bit dark and florid for your usual bunch of torchbearers and mercenaries. The weapons to character class matches are poor for some of the rarer classes, like monks and druids. So edit those when they come up inappropriate. Some of the quirky adjective phrases are out of place in this context, like describing someone as especially well equipped when they roll off the same table as everyone else. Maybe give them a bump in gear if that comes up, or a magic item. I fudged hit points to a D6 + 1 for all mercenary/soldier types, 1d6 for noncombatant servants, and D8 per level for fighter type classes and D6 per level for other levelled classes to keep the coding down.  There is room to add a lot of customization controls, and option in the historical names lists in place or in addition to the syllable masher. All of this stuff is grist for iteration.

But it generates NPCs. Some of them make me laugh out loud when I consider using them. That's a win. And it got me coding game stuff again and some of the data structures I added to equip characters for it can feed right back into DunGen and DunMap.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Something I have always wanted to do...

I have shied away from attempting landscape painting for decades. Painted hundreds of minis, lots of table top terrain, and not one painting to backdrop it for photos.

Until yesterday.

I took some photos Sunday of my layout for my first game of Andrea Sfiligoi's Of Gods and Mortals*  that I quite liked but the background room clutter really detracted. I started thinking about how I really ought to get started with the airbrush and make a backdrop to hide the clutter for better pictures. Whited in the sky on a couple of handy still-flattened box lids Sunday. Well, I backed off on learning to airbrush too and finished the first painting as a regular brushed painting with some cheap craft store acrylics I usually use for terrain last night. I'm pretty happy with the mountain, not as much with the clouds. But now I know I can do something good enough to use. With the dam broken, I can start getting better. And maybe start learning that airbrush too.

Anyway, here it is, proof of concept...

The painting by itself. Yeah, the box lid folds and corrugations show. But it is basically a throwaway learning piece. Took about an hour and a half maybe. I was in the zone and really don't know. There are some little flecks of white still there from a stupid ancient bottle of blue paint whose lid crumbled to plastic dust as I tried to open it. Got most of them off...

Anubis in a fearsome aspect.
I learned that having tall shadow casting terrain and a sharp board edge in front of the painting is a bad idea. Could take down the towering bits and plunk some lichen or rocks down at the board edge to break the flat line . But hey, he's awesome, so I want a picture here of him until I take a better one! He's an old Diablo-related action figure that I based up on two bases, one for each foot, since he is so big, and could stand, if unstably, without any base at all.

Sobek's left flank guard is the mighty BOAR CROC!

I think my next one will be on foam core to be wider and still lightweight, and not have corrugations to show through. Maybe do two so as to be able to line a 6 foot table edge?

(Thanks to the guys that reported the pictures problem. I was able to see in from Safari on my work machine. I have re-uploaded the broken images by another path and will see if they are visible soon.)

* Published by Osprey. More on the Anubis vs Sobek game I'm doing with it in my next blog post. I think its going to rock.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Quicksilver Bow, a Magic Item

The Quicksilver Bow was crafted for the werewolf hunting ranger Ivar the Night Stalker by his friend Venable the Mad Wizard. It looks like a finely crafted composite bow with silver inlay that ripples and shifts over its surface like the patterns on a cuttlefish. It provides no bonuses to shooting or damage most of the time. When drawn against a werewolf or other target that is vulnerable to silver arrows, some of the quicksilver flows over the head of the arrow, silvering it on the fly.

Ivar found great success using the Quicksilver Bow for over a decade, in an illustrious career of surprising duration for a man so frequently endangered by werewolves, but all things have their costs and he eventually succumbed to heavy metal poisoning.  Mad as a hatter for much the same reason, he was imprisoned on a particularly bad day by the city watch of Fellstein. Long and repeated use (on the order of  several years) will afflict PCs similarly.

It is rumored that Venable also made a Quicksilver Sheath that treats the longsword drawn from it the same way if it is drawn in the presence of a creature vulnerable to silver weapons.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Frostgrave at DundraCon

So, I have been silent on the blog for over  a month now, what have I been up to?


I'm scheduled to run Frostgrave at DundraCon, Friday Feb. 12 at 4 PM. I expect it will go two rounds with a campaign turn in between and one at the end. The maximum player count I set was eight, so I will have two tables going, either as two 4 player games or four 2 player games. It will be starting warbands with 500 GC. You can bring your own, and I'll have figures for eight pregens set up, with a list for each school of wizard. I've been working a lot on scenery to give it that Frostgrave flavor. Here is a vignette shot on terrain a recent practice game, as an example:

An earlier practice game before the round towers got painted:

And here is a shot of my painting table with treasure markers and guys in progress:

And some scenery in progress: