Friday, November 21, 2014

By the Lords of Kobol, I would buy this!

This is apparently a demo reel done as a "proof of concept" to propose redoing the special effects of the original Battlestar Galactica using CGI, in much the same way they redid the effects for the classic Star Trek a couple of years ago.

Oh man would I buy this. In a heartbeat.

 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Adventure: Bitterbark's Circus

Hot on the heels of the best-selling Adventures Dark and Deep™ GM's Screen, BRW Games is proud to announce the release of Bitterbark's Circus, an adventure locale designed for characters level 8-9.

Because it's written for the Adventures Dark and Deep™ rules, it can be used with most Basic or Advanced-compatible rules almost as-is. And for those people who are playing games that don't feature a jester character class, the entire class (including lots of new spells) is included as an appendix. Jesters feature prominently in the adventure, and it only seemed fair to include the whole class for GMs who want to use the adventure using other rules.

Bitterbark's Circus describes a sinister circus which can be inserted into most RPG campaigns with little effort. The GM is given a variety of different ideas and options for inserting the adventure into an existing campaign, and the adventure is also linked to the Castle of the Mad Archmage™ megadungeon, via a magical gate in the lower levels of the fabled and deadly dungeon. But it is also perfectly fine as a stand-alone adventure, and can add a layer of creepy mystery to any game.

The adventure runs 30 pages and is available for $4.95 in pdf format. Buy it today; your players will thank you. Well, probably not, because it's an eerie and deadly place, but they'll still have fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No capes

"No capes!"
Over at The Hollywood Reporter, talking about the Universal plan to turn their classic monster properties into action-adventure films (presumably because that worked so well with Van Helsing), Universal chairman Edna Mode Donna Langley is quoted as saying "We don't have any capes" (in their catalog of films).

Mmmhmmm...





Sunday, November 16, 2014

Adventures Dark and Deep Players/GM Screen now available

Now available, an eight-page print-it-yourself Player/GM screen for Adventures Dark and Deep. It's a buck and a half, and has 40 tables, diagrams, and charts that you'll want at your fingertips. And naturally, most of those tables are usable with most other OSR-type games.

You can get yours by clicking here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Agents of SHIELD, the Inhumans, and the MCU

Speculation has been rife for months that Marvel's Agents of SHIELD television show (now in its second season) is going to be introducing a new element into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU); namely, the Inhumans.

This post is going to have some spoilers about recent episodes of AoS, so if you're not caught up, caveat lector!

First things first. In the comic books, the Inhumans are the descendants of humans who were genetically modified tens of thousands of years ago by the alien Kree. The Kree, by the way, are the alien race that gave us not only the Host (the alien corpse in AoS that gives us the miracle drug GH325) but also Ronan the Accuser, the villain in this year's hit Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Inhumans live in a hidden city called Attilan, which has at times moved from the North Atlantic, to the Himalayas, to the moon, and then back to Earth. Because of their alien hybrid DNA, when a young Inhuman is exposed to the Terigen Mists (or crystals in some cases), latent superpowers are activated which can vary in strength and utility enormously.

The Inhumans are led by a royal family, headed by Black Bolt (whose voice is so powerful that speaking at all causes enormous devastation around him) and sometimes his criminally insane brother Maximus. And in the comic books, the mutant Quicksilver (as in the one we saw in X-Men Days of Future Past, and who will be in Avengers: Age of Ultron) married a member of the Inhuman royal family. So there's an in-comic connection there already. Certainly the MCU isn't required to cleave 100% to the comic book mythology, so making Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch Inhumans rather than mutants is certainly doable.

Because Fox has the rights to all things mutant locked up in their license to make X-Men movies, Marvel now has to look elsewhere for an equivalent. The Inhumans are the logical choice, as they're functionally the same. They have many varied and potentially colorful superpowers, and can serve as a stand-in for morality stories about persecuted minorities.

Oh, and Marvel already has announced not only an Inhumans movie in November 2018, but also a Captain Marvel movie in July of that same year. Captain Marvel (in her incarnation as Carol Danvers, whom Marvel already said was to be the subject of the movie) is also an Inhuman (well, not technically, but she also has a hybrid of Kree and human DNA (and superpowers) for a different reason, so it's close enough).

Agents of Shield (which has really upped its game since the shaky first half of the first season) last night telegraphed the existence of Attilan; the mysterious symbols that Coulson and most of the others injected with GH325 were carving weren't intended to be 2-dimensional. They're a 3-dimensional map of a city that the Host apparently died desperately trying to reach. And speaking of those symbols, doesn't this close-up view of the new Inhumans comic book logo look a bit familiar?

h/t to The Mary Sue for this one

There's another piece of the puzzle that having Agents of Shield start up a major Inhumans story line fills in as well. When it was announced that Captain America 3 (May 2016) would be doing the "Civil War" story from the comics, some observers were puzzled.

The Civil War story line involved a "superpower registration act". Some heroes were for it, and others were dead-set against it (hence the name). The trouble is, there just aren't enough people running around the MCU with superpowers to really need a superpower registration act. The SHIELD agents we've seen have been extremely well-trained, but not super-powered. There are the Avengers, and a couple of others walking around, and doubtless some of the folks that HYDRA released from various SHIELD prisons like the Fridge (who probably wouldn't comply with such a law anyway), but on the whole the MCU world just doesn't seem to have the numbers to justify such a thing.

(As an aside, there's also speculation as to who in the MCU is going to handle some key roles that in the comics were handled by characters out of Marvel's control, like Spiderman and the Fantastic Four.)

Why yes. That is a dog. Why do you ask?
Now, imagine if the existence of tens of thousands of Inhumans, with Kree-hybrid DNA and superpowers, was suddenly thrown into the mix. A superhuman registration act, like the one we'll undoubtedly see in Captain America 3, suddenly makes a whole lot of sense. It would be aimed at the Inhumans (framing them as the persecuted minority in the exact same way that the Mutant Registration Act in the first X-Men movie did mutants), but would sweep up others in its wake as well, including Captain America, Doctor Strange, etc., and, if it included extraordinary technologies not generally available, Iron Man, War Machine/ Iron Patriot, Falcon, etc.

So, a very hypothetical Inhuman-centric timeline could look something like:
  • Agents of SHIELD (winter 2014/15): our first introduction to the Inhumans, perhaps the revelation that they are intermingled with the general population. Skye and Raina are revealed as Inhumans, perhaps given superpowers as a result of exposure to the Terrigen mists/crystals?
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (summer 2015): Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are introduced as Inhumans
  • Agents of SHIELD (winter 2015/16): fallout from Age of Ultron, setting up the Civil War for next summer, which could mean fleshing out the whole Inhuman mythology to give Cap 3 additional depth. (Assuming we get a Season 3, of course.)
  • Captain America 3 (summer 2016): the superhuman registration act and resultant Civil War.
  • Agents of SHIELD (winter 2016/17): will deal with the fallout from the events of Cap 3. (Assuming we get a Season 4, of course.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (summer 2017): more Kree? Do they come to Earth or the moon and interact with some Inhumans there? 
  • Agents of SHIELD (winter 2017/18): Picking up the pieces of GotG 2 and Thor: Ragnarok. Will there be an Inhuman connection? Maybe; Captain marvel is a great bridge to the more cosmic side of the MCU. (Assuming we get a Season 5, of course.)
  • Captain Marvel (summer 2018): stars a superpowered Kree-human hybrid, probably sets up the Inhumans movie a few months later.
  • Inhumans (fall 2018): just what it says on the tin.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Metatopia Post-Con Report

This past weekend saw me at the annual Metatopia convention in Morristown, NJ. Metatopia is run by Double Exposure, the same folks who put on the Dreamation and Dexcon conventions (the latter now including the old-school OSWARP con as a featured subset), as well as the First Exposure playtest hall at GenCon. It caters to game designers, publishers, etc. and hooks them up with eager playtesters to get feedback on new games coming in the pipeline. There are also a bunch of seminars in several tracks, and the whole thing is an invaluable experience for the aspiring game publisher or designer.

I was on several panels myself, attended a bunch more, and overall had a great time (despite a bit of a stomach bug on Friday night that seems to have hit a few other people besides me). There were a bunch of high points (the afore-mentioned seminars, as well as getting to talk with some of the luminaries of the industry at the bar), and a couple of low points (some of the seminars veered too deeply into the PC end of the pool for my taste, but hey, if folks want to fret about the impact of HP Lovecraft's racism on game design, that's their time to waste), but on the whole I had a great time.

Here are just a handful of the hundreds of games that were being playtested (all these photos were taken with permission, so no trade secrets are being revealed, I hope):

You don't see that many games about medieval Africa

Using Lego as a prototyping tool

Some games were simple in layout

Some were a bit more complex

Some were very polished for a prototype

You can see a mix of bits and pieces in this one

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dune: The Television Series

It's no secret that big-budget shows, with a shortened (10 episode or so) season, are all the rage right now. Of course the trend is exemplified by Game of Thrones, but we've seen it in other historical dramas like Rome, The Tudors, and The Borgias, and with more sci-fi/fantasy/horror fare such as The Walking Dead and American Horror Show. SyFy just announced that not only are they doing Childhood's End as a miniseries, but 3001: The Final Odyssey is also coming to the small screen. Plus American Gods. Plus a bunch of others.

I submit that there's a series of novels that would make every bit as compelling a series as Game of Thrones.  Frank Herbert's Dune novels.

I'm not talking about the prequel novels by his son (which are pretty awful; some might go even further in their... dislike of them), but the original novels. Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976), and God Emperor of Dune (1981). I omit Heretics of Dune (1984) Chapterhouse: Dune (1985) which pretty much take the series in a completely different direction. The first four books (many would argue - with some justification - that the first three books are sufficiently self-contained to not need the fourth, but I disagree for a variety of reasons).

The comparisons with Game of Thrones are stunning, but I submit Dune has an even grander scope (the entire universe, and spans 3,500 years if you include God Emperor), deals with questions of history, civilization, religion, the nature of time and prophecy, ecology and the economics of scarcity, and more. Yet it is also firmly grounded in the interrelationships between, and growth of, the characters; at its heart it is the story of a family doomed to become those things they hate the most.

The political maneuvering is as intricate as anything you'll see in King's Landing. It begins with the feud between the noble houses of Atreides and Harkonnen, fueled by the desire of the Padishah Emperor to remove Duke Leto Atreides as a rival for power. But there are layers upon layers of complexity as new centers of power are revealed - the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, the Fremen, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Tleilaxu, and later Fremen factions and renegades, a new Priesthood of Muad'dib, the deposed (formerly Imperial) House Corrino, and much more besides. Plus there are factions within factions and individuals shift from one to another. Fans of that sort of intricate plotting would be in hog heaven.

There are also a lot of opportunities for violence and war. One of the conceits of the novels is the artificial constraints on technology. Thinking machines are outlawed, and bladed weapons are back in vogue because of the adoption of personal shields that block conventional bullets and which blow up in contact with a laser. So combat is much more personal, hearkening back to something you might see in a more medieval-esque setting (ahem). There are wars, battles large and small, duels, gladiatorial combats, assassinations, and more.

There's relatively little sex or nudity to be had, but the opportunities are certainly there (just as the writers for GoT managed to insert quite a bit where I don't remember reading about it in the novels). Paul and Chani, Alia and various people, Feyd-Rautha, and others. It could certainly be included if that was deemed a requirement. (Personally I don't think it would be, but I can't speak for everyone, let along for what a network would want to see.)

Now, it is true that Dune has already been tackled twice on the screen. Once as David Lynch's famous flop, and again by the SciFi channel as a pair of three-part series. Personally I like them both, although both have enormous flaws. The visuals in the Lynch version were great (with some notable exceptions like the disease-scarred Baron Harkonnen), but Sci-Fi cleaved closer to the novels in terms of plot and took a lot more time to develop the relationship between the Atreides and the Fremen. Both versions had their good and bad casting choices, but the Sci-Fi version was limited in terms of budget and it shows in a lot of scenes.

I foresee a series that goes at least four seasons, possibly five. You could at least two seasons out of the first book, possibly three. It could be broken up in two ways:

  1. Arrival of the Atreides on Arrakis through the destruction of the Atreides by the Emperor/Harkonens.
  2. Atreides merge with the Fremen through the Fremen attack on the Emperor and start of the Great Jihad.
Or:

  1. Arrival of the Atreides on Arrakis through the destruction of the Atreides by the Emperor/Harkonens.
  2. Atreides merge with the Fremen through about the middle of the Fremen war against the Harkonnens. Includes lots of scenes of the war that are glossed over in the book.
  3. Finish the Fremen war against the Harkonnens through the Fremen attack on the Emperor and start of the Great Jihad.
The remaining books would each be good for a season. So there's a five, maybe six season show, with no chance that the show will overtake the books. If they managed to maintain a level of quality similar to GoT or Vikings, you couldn't tear me away from the television.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

DungeonScape for 5E is gone before it started

This just in from OSR Today:
This morning it was announced by Trapdoor Technologies, who were creating the new character generator called Dungeonscape for Dungeons & Dragons 5e, are shutting down the current version of the tool, effective noon MST October 31, 2014, giving little more than 24 hours notice of the shutdown to current users. 
Well crap. I doubt that Wizards has a "Plan B" when it comes to digital development; there's no way they would have let Trapdoor get as far as they did.

Personally, I think it might have a lot to do with the fact that this deal also pretty much precluded the release of the 5E books in pdf format. It looked like the agreement with Trapdoor locked them into all of the digital content for 5E, and they were going with a proprietary system that required a subscription to their service to work.

So while this is definitely bad for people who like online character generators and that sort of thing, it's potentially very good news for folks who were hoping for pdf releases of the rulebooks. Without Trapdoor's exclusive lock on all things digital, Wizards might be in a position to release pdfs now.

It's also (and this is entirely speculative, based on no actual data) possible that Wizards will open up digital development in the same license they've promised us for more conventional third party products.

That would certainly explain the delay in releasing the license, if they decided late in the game that they wanted to let folks develop their own character generators, etc. Again, pure speculation on my part, based entirely on this news.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

BRW Games Call for Submissions

It's that time of year again - BRW Games is looking for authors who think they have what it takes to get published.

At the moment, we're looking for RPG adventure modules that aren't tied to any particular campaign setting, either using the AD&D 1st Edition/compatible or D&D 5th Edition systems. We are not looking for settings or rules supplements. Submissions should not have been previously published elsewhere, but we can make exceptions in special cases. Please contact us with details.

Please do not send in proposals or multi-adventure series. We are looking for finished self-contained adventures, but that doesn't mean they need to be able to be wrapped up in a single session - longer adventures are okay. Plot-driven, location-based, and sandbox styles are all acceptable. You do not need to have polished cartography, but preference will be given to submissions that have been playtested more than once.

Please send your submissions to joseph@brwgames.com. If we like what we see, we will contact you with rates and terms. Good luck!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Sea of Death

(Caution: Spoilers)

No, I haven't forgotten my reviews of various Greyhawk novels. When last we left, I had just reviewed Artifact of Evil, the second in Gary Gygax's "Gord the Rogue" series of books, published right before he left TSR. Now we turn to the first in the series to be published after his departure (and the first to actually bear the "Gord the Rogue" banner as a series identifier), Sea of Death.

Published by New Infinities in 1987, this novel picks up some months after the previous installment, and finds Gord in the Baklunish lands west of the Flanaess. He is on a mission to recover the second part of the three-part artifact known as the Theorpart, which will free the god Tharizdun from his aeons-long sleep and bring about the final victory of Evil over the multiverse. To assist him in this mission, he has been endowed with magical powers by the Demiurge (Basiliv, who in Gygax's Greyhawk is the Mage of the Valley), and the Cat Lord, who favors the forces of Neutrality.

The second part of the artifact, known as the Second Key, is found in the City Out of Mind in the dangerous Sea of Dust. The map in the beginning of the book confirms that this is the same as the Forgotten City on the original Darlene map of the World of Greyhawk.

One of the things I like about this novel is that we see a lot of the inner workings of the various evil factions. Iuz finds himself under the thumb of his mother Iggwilv and his ally Zuggtmoy, while at the same time opposing his father Grazz't, who is in turn opposed by various other princes of the Abyss. They, being chaotic, oppose the release of Tharizdun, but wish the power of the various keys that will free him for themselves. Against all of these chaotic evil factions is Anthraxus, leader of the neutral evil plane of Hades, who is working to see Tharizdun released, feeling he will be given a high place in the new order of evil. It's clear in these passages that Iuz is a favorite character of Gygax's, and he gives some wonderful dialogue to the cambion.

And opposing all those still are the forces of Neutrality (of which Gord is a highly-placed champion), and we get some inkling that Good is also involved, but appearances by angels and solars are few.

Iuz and Grazz't are contesting for the Second Key by sending a single agent with some assistants; the evil dwarf Obmi (from the previous book, as well as appearances in Hall of the Fire Giant King and the original Castle Greyhawk) on behalf of Iuz/Iggwilv/Zuggtmoy, and the drow priestess Eclavdra (also from Hall of the Fire Giant King, as well as Vault of the Drow) on behalf of Grazz't. To befuddle their enemies, Grazz't and his right-hand-demon Vuron (one of the most fascinating characters in the series; more about him later) have created a clone of Eclavdra, who will act as a decoy.

Of course, things don't go according to anyone's plan. The clone of Eclavdra survives, although she doesn't remember being Eclavdra, and is known as Leeda, Gord's love interest. They proceed to the buried city with trusted Baklunish tribesmen, and all three groups converge on the resting place of the artifact at the same time (which is actually lampshaded in the book, with one of the characters saying something about such synchronicities being arranged by mysterious forces).

In the city, they encounter albino pygmies, the degenerate descendants of the Suel who did not flee the city when calamity struck down the Suel Imperium centuries earlier, who are served by vicious albino apes. They have many captives from the surface, and we learn that there is some trade between the underworld of the drow and this place; Leda's memories slowly resurface as she continues on with Gord (and her character becomes more like that of the true Eclavdra).

Eventually, Gord prevails over the perils of the city, and a cadre of slaves is rescued. The desert is once again crossed, and on the shores of Jerlea Bay a huge battle is fought not only between the three agents, but also the extra-planar assistance they invoke. Leda slays Eclavdra, the forces of Good intervene, and eventually the magical powers involved hurl most of the combatants into other planes.

At the very end, Vuron convinces Gord to hand over the Second Key to him, along with Leeda, who will serve in the role of Eclavdra, to temper the actions of his lord, Grazz't. This is an instance of the odd nature of Vuron, who is as alabaster-white as his master is ebon-black, and who displays a decidedly lawful streak for a demon lord. He might even be said to suffer from pangs of Good, and the scenes were he puts his intellect on display are wonderfully done.

From a gaming standpoint, there is a ton of material that could be used in a campaign. Details large and small abound about the Baklunish tribes north of the Sea of Dust, there are enough pieces of information about the flora and fauna. weather, and environment of the Sea itself to run an adventure or three within it, and tantalizing hints about some of the lands west and south as well (some nations are named, which I used in my own "Beyond the Flanaess" maps several years ago). The City Out of Mind/Forgotten City is described in relative detail; certainly enough that an enterprising DM could use the chapters set there as the basis for a fully fleshed-out adventure.

This is the point in the series where Gord becomes more of a Mary Sue, however. Imbued with magical powers by various powerful beings, this novel sets him on the road to near-unstoppability, and the resultant increase of the power level of his enemies means that his companions (Curley Greenleaf, Gellor, and Chert) become more sidelined. Personally, I find that hurts the stories themselves, and therefore I give this novel three wizards out of five. Still recommended, especially if you're looking for a source of inspiration and information on the places visited, but not required reading.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Metatopia schedule now up

The schedule of events for this year's Metatopia convention in Morristown, NJ on November 6-9 is now up. For those who don't know, Metatopia is a rather unique sort of convention that caters to game publishers and designers, and hooks up people looking to playtest new games with companies in need of playtesters. You tell them what sorts of games you're interested in, and they put you in an appropriate playtest. I personally go for the panels and seminars; they're invaluable to anyone interested in the game industry (and it's not just RPGs; all sorts of games are represented).

Now that the schedule is up, here is what I'll be doing, for those who might be interested:

D015: "Self-Publishing 101" presented by Joseph Bloch & Fred Hicks. It's a terrifying prospect, taking that first step into the world of game publishing. You have already made a great decision to come to METATOPIA; two of our industry veterans will take your newbie questions here. Friday, 1:00PM - 2:00PM; Serious, All Ages.

D019: "Planning Your Crowdfunding Campaign" presented by Joseph Bloch, Fred Hicks, Kevin Kulp & Joshua A. C. Newman. Successful Kickstarts (or campaigns on other platforms) don't just "happen". There's a lot of work that needs to be done in advance or behind the scenes to bring your plans to fruition. Friday, 3:00PM - 4:00PM; Serious, All Ages.

D033: "Print On Demand 101" presented by Joseph Bloch. A veteran designer of the Old School Revival gives you the basics on doing small print runs without losing your shirt. Friday, 11:00PM - 12:00AM; Serious, All Ages.

D060: "What is the OSR?" presented by Joseph Bloch. The Old School R... (OSR) has been something of an enigma for years, but its influence is keenly felt in the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Explore the history of the OSR, see just how many OSR games are out there, discuss the influence it has on the RPG industry, and figure out just what the heck people mean by "OSR", including the real enigma... what does the "R" stand for? You'll be surprised at the answer. Saturday, 5:00PM - 6:00PM; Serious, All Ages.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What is the OSR? The *definitive* answer

With all the hullabaloo around the definition of "OSR", I felt it was incumbent upon me to provide the definitive answer.

And of course, given that it's the OSR we're talking about, that means a random table!


Die Roll (d20) The OSR is...
1
...Old School Renaissance.
2
...Old School Revival.
3
...Old School Revolution.
4
...Old School Rules.
5
...Old School Retro-clones.
6
...Old Shit Rules.
7
...any game I played, or might have considered playing, from 1980 to 1990.
8
...a design philosophy of creating systems, settings and adventures that fit within the boundaries of old-school mechanics and concepts; that is, either directly utilizing features that were in existence in the period before the advent of 2nd edition AD&D; or features that, in spite of not having historically existed at that time, could have existed in that period without the addition of material or design concepts that are clearly the product of subsequent ideas or later theories.
9
...Oh Shit Really? That's what OSR means to me, because I realized I was playing the way I wanted to, and I liked it.
10
...anchored on classic DnD and on an interest in similar old school games.
11
...grounded in classic D&D.
12
...a marketing term and is neither old nor an identifiable single way to play.
13
...about stripping away rules and making gamers simpler.
14
...about moving away from storytelling to adventuring.
15
...a movement in gaming that focuses on role playing games from around 30-40 years ago. In many ways it is like freeform jazz-funk – it is very 70s/80s, it scares me, and I don’t fully understand it … and among the terrible squealing and hurumphening it produces moments of such sublime beauty and genius that it takes my breath away.
16
...a term used to describe the vigorous growth of activity and interest in TSR D&D over the last several years, begun online, but spreading beyond that medium.
17
...a type of RPG that allows a group to have a simple, elegant experience without the fuss or setup involved in more complex, modern roleplaying systems.
18
...about random monsters, hit locations and armor values.
19
...people who like certain kinds of games (‘old school games’) and sometimes product things (modules, rules books, settings, fanzines, etc.) for those games.
20
...like pornography. I know it when I see it.

With apologies to the various places and people from which I stole these answers, some of which date back to 2009. It could very easily have turned into a d100 table...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rebasing Prepainted Miniatures

One of the advantages of modern pre-painted miniatures is that there is usually a glut of suitable figures available in the after-market. Right scale, more or less, and covering both the usual fantasy tropes as well as some interesting monsters. Many of these, especially those that are reasonably priced ($1-2 each, sometimes a little more or less, especially at conventions) come from other games and other lines. 

One of the problems with doing this is that such miniatures come with weird bases, bases that have "Heroclix" type dials, odd sizes and colors, etc. In later editions of D&D, miniatures should have standard-sized bases, as it has an impact on movement, zones of control, etc. You can get away without doing it, but it looks nicer on the table when things match up. 

Usually, the answer is to use metal washers of the correct size, possibly painting them black. They will certainly do the job, but they have the disadvantage of having the incorrect thickness and a hole in the middle (the hole is smaller if you use a "fender washer", but it's still present). Naturally for someone as anal retentive as I am, it simply won't do.

The quest for suitable replacement bases was a long one. Most commercially available bases have some sort of terrain molded into the base, making it look like flagstone, etc. Nice, but unfortunately the "official" D&D miniatures use plain black bases. Litko makes a very nice plain base, but they're either wood or magnetic, and not quite thick enough. Battlemart makes some plain white ones, but they're just ever so slightly the wrong size, because they're metric. Annoying. Proxie models makes ones with a raised lip and a slightly textured bottom; I might get a batch of them to use with my metal figures, and fill in the depression around the metal base with flocking, but until I'm prepared to do that for all my figures, both metal and plastic, I went looking for something suitable for the plastics I already had.

And lo! and behold after a lot of searching, I found something suitable from an industrial plastics supply company. So suitable, in fact, that I'm going to start selling them in small batches, since it took way too much effort to find something that should be ubiquitous and which I think at least some gamers are going to find really useful.

Here's how it works.

First, you start with a suitable figure on a large/incorrect/unwanted base:


Next, carefully pry the figure off the base with an x-acto knife. They're usually attached with super-glue, and it's possible to pop them off without damaging the figure. You have to be careful on two counts. First, you don't want to slice into your fingers, especially given the natural way to hold the figure while you're gently prying with the knife. Second, you want to make sure you're not cutting into the plastic of the figure itself; when it comes off, there shouldn't be anything left on the base except glue:


Now, here is the replacement base. It's dull black, the correct diameter (1" for a medium-sized creature), and the correct thickness (1/8"):


A dab of super-glue on each foot, hold it down for a few seconds, and voila!


Here's the above dwarf with an official Wizkids D&D figure for comparison. The bases look almost identical at a casual glance, which is exactly what I'm looking for:


And the best part is, they come in the proper diameters for large, medium, and small creatures:


An official announcement of availability will be made once I get some of the details down. I might start at conventions just to test the waters, but if anyone absolutely has to have these now now now, email me and I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The most useless miniature ever

I give you... the doppelganger:


Let's make a miniature of a creature that only appears in the shape-shifted guise of some other creature. Something that quite literally is never, ever seen in this form in the game. 

At least there's a shot that the rakshasa (also a shape-shifter) could choose to appear in the form of a chunky humanoid with the head of an elephant: