Monday, March 09, 2020

Some Fantasy figures I painted

My self-imposed social isolation has given me time to do some painting, and here are some figures that I painted up over the past couple of weekends.

From left to right, we have:

A Northstar Frostgrave female wizard. I have given her a 'peasant' look instead of a 'wizard' look as I wanted to use her as the default Mama Clay figure - it's now a running gag that all old-woman-NPCs in my campaigns are called Mama Clay and they all have the same voice and may in fact be related to each other.

The 'Expedition Pack Mule' from an old Citadel starter set. My brothers and I have owned this figure for literally decades, but have never actually painted it. With an old school dungeoncrawl campaign in the plans, I decided to finally get it painted.

A lantern-bearer/porter, made from Northstar Frostgrave soldiers set. When you run an old school dungeoncrawl, you need some henchmen: someone to hold the lantern while your party fights the monsters, and to help you haul all that gold (read XPs) back to town. I made this figure using parts from the Frostgrave Soldiers set, loading him with a large backpack, rope, extra arrows, and added a bamboo toothpick cut to 10' length in scale.

A generic swordsman from the Northstar Frostgrave soldiers set. The head may have come from a different (Gripping Beast?) set, but I made this figure for a PC I was planning to play. I wanted to name him Bojack Horseman and paint his clothes in the same colour scheme, but did not see it through. Now clad in green and holding a green shield with a white horse motif, he can be a Kai Lord, a Rohirrim foot soldier, or a mercenary/caravan guard type.

An undead dog from Fireforge Games' Living Dead Knights set in their Forgotten World range. I backed their Kickstarter, and was very disappointed by the quality of their resin pieces, and their so-called customer service. Suffice to say that I will never buy anything from them ever again.

The reverse view to show the amount of gear that the henchman and mule are packing. The 'floor' in the photos is a page from Loke BattleMats' The Dungeon Battle Mat Book Set - it blends nicely with the backdrop.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Heroic Maps Ancient Dungeon tiles

With no games scheduled, I decided to use the time I have to prepare for future campaigns.

One of the planned campaign is a megadungeon using Five Torches Deep rules.

Now I have a few map books in my collection, but while they provide a lot of variety, most of the pages tend to be 'packed' with no dead spaces, making them resemble more indoor floorplans than your old-fashioned dungeons, which sometimes have inexplicable-long corridors between rooms, when it would have made more sense to have shorter ones which would have reduce the labour required...

Anyway, the solution to this was the equally old-fashioned modular dungeon tile.

To make a set of dungeon tiles, I turned to my favourite 2D maps people, Heroic Maps. After looking through their catalogue, I decided that the sets that fit my requirements were the Ancient Dungeon Rooms and the Ancient Dungeon Corridors sets. The dungeon depicted in the sets look suitably old (as befits their name), and fit the theme of the megadungeon I am planning to run. As I already own both sets (and have used the Rooms maps previously), all I had to do was to get the material components.

Heroic Maps also have modular dungeon tiles in several other themes, including a cleaner-looking dungeon, frozen dungeon, mossy dungeon, abandoned dwarf dungeon... If you are looking to run a megadungeon and planning to make your own set of modular dungeon tiles, you should definitely check them out.

I then went through the various maps to decide how many of each type of tile I would likely need. Now this requires some planning as the sets had rooms with doorways/archways which are one, two, or three squares wide, and there were corridors which are one, two, or three squares wide, and 'adaptor' tiles which allow you to transition from one width to another. I decided on a two-wide system, but included a single two-to-three adaptor tile so I could use a room tile with a three-wide entrance.

Once I have decided on that I made a rough estimate of how many straight, corners, and junctions sections I would likely need. I also printed out the 'pre-made' rooms that looked interesting/useful, as well as enough pieces of the 'make-your-own' modular room (room corner, wall on one side, plain floor tile, wall with entrance) tiles to give me the capacity to make any odd-sized room the module required, and a very large room if I needed one.

I printed out the selected pages using my home laser printer, at the recommended 91% size for 1" grids.

For the board I got some A3 size black mounting board. These were sturdy enough for my purpose, and more importantly were black throughout their thickness (instead of being black on the outside but white on the inside), which meant they would blend in better to my usual black tablecloth.

I cut out the tiles and test-fitted them on each sheet of board to best utilise the surface area, placing long edges against the edges of the board to save on cutting.

Once the shapes had been cut out I turned them on their backs and used Elmer's spray adhesive on them. The spray gave an even coat, and had just about the right amount of time to made adjustments once you put the paper to the board. It does leave a sticky residue on the surface you work on, so I recommend you use some sort of a tarp (or a large trash bag as I did) to cover the surface you are working on.

Then came the laborious task of cutting each and every piece out. Once that was done, I went over the edge of each side of the tile with a black marker to cover the white edge of the paper.

Here you can see them in action. The set contains enough tiles to make an interesting layout, including alcove pieces and round shaped rooms.

After I was done with the set, I realised that there was a lot of unused surface on the reverse sides of the tile. I went back and started looking through the Heroic Maps catalogue again to see if I should maybe glue a different-themed set of tiles on the reverse side, but decided that they were all too specific for my current plans (although the dwarven one was tempting).

Then I saw that they have a couple of sci-fi sets too, and that their Industrial Spacecraft sets (which I also already owned) have tiles in the exactly configurations as those of the Ancient Dungeon ones, just with a different skin! OK, they didn't have the make-your-own room modular pieces, but those aside this meant that I could essentially duplicate the Ancient Dungeon set in Industrial Spacecraft by gluing the exact counterpart on the back of each tile!

The problem with the Industrial Spacecraft Corridors set, however, was that while the Ancient Dungeon set had multiple identical tiles on a page (say three identical straight corridors on a single page), the Industrial Spacecraft set had different tiles on a single page, say the straight corridor with a corner and a two-to-one adaptor. This meant that to get say three straight corridors, I would need to print three of the pages - not the most economical on paper and toner.

To overcome this, I cut-and-pasted the required tiles to a Word document and resized them to the correct dimensions. The fit were mostly good, and if they were a little larger I just trimmed the excess with an Exacto knife.

And what do you do when you have a set of modular sci-fi corridor tiles? Well, play Space Hulk, of course!

Of course the configuration of the tiles (two-wide instead of one-wide) meant that some tweaks have to be made. I am still in the process of doing that, so hopefully I can write a post on that too once I have found something that works.

If you have any question about making a set of dungeon tiles, or some cool hacks or ideas I might have missed, so let me know in the comments section.

Thank you.