Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Terrain Update: Rock Spires Finished, Ruined Buildings Started

Never mind the Dreadball figures
 As you can see in the above picture, the rock spires from earlier in the month are all finished.  We pretty much had them done last time, to be honest: when I gave them a browny base coat, the hard work was done.  All that was left was to slap on a few layers of drybrushing to add Snakebite Leather, Coat D'Arms Rust and finally Mechrite Red to add texture and give the right reddy-browny shade the rocks should have from being out in the martian dirt.

Also visible in that picture is a quick and dirty movement tray I made for the Sneaky Gits.  Cardboard base, cardboard lip covered in poppy seeds and a bit of filler to smooth it out: spray black, paint dark grey with a drybrush of light try and bob is your uncle.

Today, however, our main thrust of conversation here is going to be the after-effects of buying a table.

Never mind the Torchic

In February, Sister Superior put the foot down on the very old, very shoogly and very small dining table we owned and demanded I trek out with her to Ikea to buy a new one.  A cheap dining table isn't something I could get excited about...  However, receiving a new object in cardboard and polystyrene packaging always has it's uses!

Before moving back to Warhammer Fantasy I wanted to knock out some more terrain pieces, and redress an imbalance in my collection.  I have lots of hills, road sections and rockspires but only a few buildings, and no ruined buildings at all.  This is the classic image of a 40K tabletop, but in my entire life I've only ever made one ruined building - the old "turn a polystyrne tray into a building" trick, back when it was first featured in white dwarf, and even then I never painted the damn thing up properly.
Never mind the old scan
This time, I was going to do something properly.  I was going to make several ruined buildings, using the cardboard I got with this Ikea table for cheap and cheerful terrain.  I was going to get some good line of sight blocking stuff on the table, with high sections so there's places for heavy weapons and snipers to be emplaced.

Photos follow!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

RPG Update; Death Takes A Holiday and Time & Temp

"We're More Popular Than Cheeses."
 My nerdy chums and I may have been a bit sparkly-eyed this week, with the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett.  A distinctly British nerd icon with his books that mixed slapstick comedy, wordplay and oddly serious themes, he was in particular a big deal for Sister Superior who was a huge fan growing up.  Not since Roald Dahl's passing has she actually been emotional over the death of a famous person.

We waited for a couple of hours in Borders bookshop Glasgow to get him to sign a book once; she had met before, however.

However, appropriately enough we had an RPG scheduled for the Thursday which rather fit a Pratchett-like theme which we gave a shot.  While we'd played overtly Discworld games before - taking on the role of City Watch in CSI: Ankh-Morpork - this was something more broadly connected.  This was Death Takes A Holiday.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

March 4th - GMs Day

The big man himself, in his Futurama appearance.

 Today is March 4th, a day notable for nerds for two reasons. 

First of all, in 2008 it was the day that Gary Gygax died.  Co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons and major force in popularising the game in its early days, Gygax is a sort of father figure to the roleplaying community and continued to play and write even in his final years. 

But March 4th is also International GMs Day, the totally-not-made-up-honest holiday for commemorating your local games master, dungeon master, referee, storyteller, director, mayor,  headmistress, landlady, HolMeister or whatever you call the person who organises your games.

Obviously this is a pretty minor event but nerdy places get into it - online shops will have discounts for GMs Day, including my preferred PDF selling website

Worth a look.
I usually end up being the Gamesmaster in RPGs.  That's been the case since I was a wee lad, when I didn't know many people who played D&D so the only way to get people to try it was to run it. When I went to Uni and joined GUGS I quickly fell into being principally a GM and even now in my regular group I run all the campaigns, with occasional one-offs by others.

For a while I was in a rotating GM slot group - every Monday we played a game and every month or two we changed to a new GM and system, so everyone ran a game or two every year.  Before that I had never played in any substantial amount and has always been the game organiser rather than a participant.  I've also started encouraging more one-offs by other people in my current RPG group, with short bursts of play from Matthew, Molly and Charles here and there.

I'm usually this guy.
I don't mega-pine for just being a general player, to be honest.  Some people GM grudgingly because no-one else in the group will do it and it's the only way to get a game going - A sort of army rules "he who unvolunteers last" thing.  I actually quite like GMing - world building, adventure crafting and the like are a big part of my enjoyment of the RPG hobby.

However, I've found as a GM that I've learned a lot about GMing from playing more often.  The only way to stay balanced as a GM is to see things from the other side of the screen occasionally, to find out what different people do and ask yourself if you'd do the same thing.  Like a painter finding out other people's techniques or a writer reading other people's books, your own craft improves with a variety of sources.

A Scottish film about non balanced players.

To that end, if I am any good as a GM, it is only because of experience playing under other people.  Whether I liked the game or not I always learnt something, always found something I wanted to duplicate or modify or ignore.  Off the top of my head I've played under various friends including Adam, Aaron,  Robert, Nicky, Michael, Phil, Doc, Molly, Matthew, Charles and a couple of other people from GUGS whose names have escaped me for the moment - and without them I wouldn't be as big as an RPG nerd as I am today.

Awesome art from MoulinBleu on DeviantArt.  I may feel like this when GMing but I certainly don't look it
Below the cut I'm going to sum up four particularly memorable games I've played in, for good and ill, and what I learned in running them.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

How To Make Your Own Rock Spires - A Rainy Day Activity

I had great plans to start painting my Dreadball Xtreme figures this weekend by blasting them with undercoat..... but Glasgow's famous weather put paid to that.  Even for a rainy island we are the rainiest city in all of the UK, with 170 days per year of various varieties of rain including drizzle, spitting, showers and full-on bucketing it down. If it's raining I can't really spray undercoat as I do that outside in the garden so I was kind of at an empasse

However, I wasn't going to let that stop me from all nerdity, especially as Sister Superior was out for a bit on Sunday and I had time to myself.  No, I figured I would do a little quick project to cleanse the palette after the Chaos Dwarfs...

My love for this book is previously established.  I managed to pick up a copy on eBay of this version for a mighty £2 plus carriage.

...and that project is make some quick and dirty terrain.  My 40K terrain, like my bases, has a red Martiany theme - I was dead set on this when I started planning my Chaos Space Marine army back at Uni and when I actually progressed with it a few years ago I stuck to that plan.  I prefer my sci-fi table to not be a generic green flocked effort but have weird terrain as befits a planet light years from Terra.

Terrain for such figures needs a dusty look - no generic shop brought trees for me, but something more like the vistas of Oregon or Utah. 

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

What I needed, to use a technical term, was Hoodoos - the tall rocky spires you might associate with westerns.  I've made a few of these for my table but could always use more - and that, my friends, is what I did at the weekend.  You can join in too, because the ingredients list is cheap and the process simple.