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By Jordan Peacock
One of my Friendly Local Game Stores, which has largely dumped its stock of miniatures gaming supplies (awww!) still carries various products that have a "reason-to-exist" in that they're tied in with BOARD GAMES. That the board games in questions happen to utilize MINIATURES to work their magic is just an added bonus.
I really know nothing about Mantic's "Dungeon Saga" game, except that there are dungeon tiles involved, and apparently, after the fashion of the old Milton Bradley / Games Workshop "HeroQuest" game, there are some furnishings here and there.
So, with two packs of doors and two packs of dungeon furniture, I've decided to try painting them up a bit to help out our current GM as generalized props that might or might not be useful for his dungeon.
The doors pack seemed like the best place to start, since it would be the most generally useful. The pieces come in a hard plastic (not the least bit Bones-like), in a deep brown color. As-is, or with some light dry-brushing, they'd probably look decent on the table, but I opted for spray-painting the pieces white, then painting the edges "denim blue" (a faintly bluish grey), with some light brown for the door faces, and then I applied a light wash of darker brown to the middle, and some lighter grey dry-brushing to the frames. There's a lot of detail and touch-up yet to be done, but the 3D details do most of the work, so the pieces already look pretty decent with minimal work.
The pieces come in a clamshell-opening plastic case reminiscent of an old VHS video cassette case. There are two each of 5 designs, for a total of 10 doors: 8 1"-wide doors (about 1.5" tall) and 2 2"-wide double doors (about 2.5" tall). They have just wide enough of a base that they stand effortlessly on a hard surface, but they're lightweight enough that they might wobble or topple of anyone bangs the table, or if they're set on too irregular of a surface.
The pieces have a very tooled and precise look about them, making me certain that the originals were designed in some sort of CAD software rather than sculpted. Each plank is clearly denoted, but there are no organic details such as wood grain in the planks or cracks in the stones. With some light washing and dry-brushing, however, enough random elements are introduced that the "machined" look doesn't stand out much (in my opinion).
The raised details on the doors have nice, sharp edges, but they're also very shallow. This makes it a bit of a challenge to paint the filigrees and hardware on the doors without splashing paint on the adjoining planks; a bit of back-and-forth touch-up work is probably inevitable. I still have some work to do in finishing up the detail work and cleaning up the splashes. I'm undecided as to whether or not I might try to darken the "grey stone" areas with some sort of wash.
The doors have a nice, solid feel to them, and seem to be reasonably durable for their size. They can be stowed together in the box without much fear of the paint "dinging" off -- but I think I'm likely to put some foam inserts in the plastic box all the same, just in case.
The furniture box (pictures to follow later) comes in a similar container, but consists of several "furniture" pieces after the fashion of the old HeroQuest. There are 4 treasure chests (separate lid and body pieces, two slightly different designs), 2 barrels, 1 bookshelf, 1 bookcase, 1 throne, 1 well, 1 weapons rack, 1 small tomb, 2 wooden tables, and a lectern. (The box and online details of the set seem to indicate that there's supposed to be an open book piece that goes with the lectern, but I didn't find one in either box, so I'm a bit concerned about that. I can probably proxy something from one of my Warhammer Fantasy Flagellant sprues.)
Somehow I didn't notice it until after I'd sprayed on the first side of base coat, but the plastic of the furniture pieces, while the same dark brown, is NOT the same texture as with the doors. The furniture pieces are very slightly bendy (less bendy than regular Bones, but less rigid than the Dungeon Saga doors for certain) -- and as such, when I sprayed on base coat, they all felt noticeably tacky even after the paint had apparently dried.
Fortunately for me, procrastination-out-of-frustration paid off. I let the pieces sit for another day in the garage, and when I checked on them again, the paint seemed to have dried, and the tackiness largely has gone away. Still, I feel as if there's at least a little tackiness still, so I'm certain that when it comes time to matte-seal everything at the end, I'll be using brush-on matte sealer, NOT the spray on variety.
Right now, all the furniture pieces are just grey-and-brown, like the doors so far, but I plan on putting a bit more work into painting in individual details (especially with pieces such as the bookshelf and bookcase).
So 6 months ago, I committed to my co-DM for our D&D game that I would build a puzzle prop we could give t the playrs piece by piece.
Well, at tomorrow's session, she'll be handing out the first of 7 pieces. So I kind of have to get it built tonight.
The concept is that it's a brass tube within which five lenses are fitted, and a map piece placed at the end. When the lenses are rotated to the proper position, and the viewer looks through, the treasure location is revealed upon the map.
I have the "brass tube" built, and the "map" made (a Pringles can with a view hole punched into the bottom, and the map pasted into the inside of the lid. The lens pieces are to be fitted into five different slots that I've made on the Pringles can, and can be rotated about 135 degrees.
Where I'm having a problem is figuring out how to actually decorate and punch the holes in the "lenses" to get them to line up with my map.
I can make it work by just punching some holes in the inserts, but that seems like it would be too easy to figure out. Only 2-3 of the lenses would be needed to confirm the location.
I thought about each lens having a different set of rectangular slots, but not really certain how to get them to line up.
Any thoughts or advice? Examples?
OK, SO we were talking about DIY seals in the writing supplies thread, and I thought I'd just give this a go.
So you have a D&D session tonight, and the Royal Messenger has just delivered a Writ of Summoning to the party...you can tell the players about it, or you can actually hand them the Writ.
But if this Writ is to look authentic, it needs parchment and ribbons and calligraphy...and the Royal Seal. All that other stuff is pretty simple to come by, but where are you, the DM on a budget, going to find the royal seal of a kingdom that only exists in your brain?! Well...you can make one. Here's one way to go about it.
I have no prior experience making stamps or seals, and did no research of any kind before trying this out; everything here is just my instinct/common sense. It didn't end poorly, so I decided to share it.
Concept art (in this case, a version of the supposed flag flown by noted pirate Henry Avery, and the seal of the Knights of Solamnia from the Dragonlance campaign setting). solid, non-bendy discs of appropriate size for your final seal (in this case, an American Quarter Dollar coin and a ~40mm wooden disc). Sculpting tools (color shaper and various metal "dental tools") sculpting material (Green Stuff/Kneadatite for the master sculpts and Apoxie Sculpt for the seal itself. Not shown: Milliput for the other seal) Petroleum jelly or other lubricant for working with putty.
Now, I could have just sculpted the negative image into some apoxie sculpt, but A) negative images are harder than positive images, and B) I wasn't sure whetehr Apoxie Sculpt, milliput, or some other currently unknown medium would be the best for the seal. With a positive master I figured I could make more of these if the need arose. So, positive-image masters...this is what I want the wax to look like when all is said and done.
I sculpted the masters by putting a coat of GS down on the disc, then drawing the outline of the image I wanted. I then pulled all the putty away that wasn't part of the image. For the Solamnic seal, I scraped almost all the putty away, but for the pirate flag I left enough that I could add a good bit of texture (the idea being the master would look like a woodcut; it also hides the quarter nicely). I then sculpted in detail like the rose petals and the kingfisher's feathers.
After the GS was cured on the masters, I coated each one with a thin layer of lubricant as a mold relaese, then put a big splat of Apoxie Sculpt (the grey blob) or Milliput (the yellow blob) on top. The pirate flag was small enough, I just shaped a rough handle in the putty; the Solamnic seal is pretty big, so I used a cabinet knob to create a nice big handle.
After that all cured (definitely overnight), I peeled off the masters...well, "peeled" makes it sound easy. Even with the lube, I had to lever them out with a blade. Here's the result:
You can see, the apoxie came out pretty well. The milliput...well, milliput isn't my favorite for a lot of reasons. One is that it seems to cure in layers, like a (American-style buttermilk) biscuit, so it pulls apart when given the chance. In this case, the detail on the kingfisher's head stayed on the master. Some of this may be that I had some undercuts in the master, but I tried to avoid that. Regardless, the Apoxie cured rock-solid and seems pretty good.
The master after milliput (I had already cleaned a bit of the milliput off before snapping this, but you get the pint...also, the Milliput took part of the crown with it):
Now, how do the new seals work? Well, My first attempt with the pirate flag showed the edge of the seal was too deep, so I trimmed the sides down to get the actual image closer to the paper. And this is what I got:
You can see, I didn't put nearly enough wax down for either impression (40mm is huuuge for this purpose), but they turned out pretty well, for all that I didn't use enough wax to fill the whole seal. You can tell they're made by an amateur, but they do the job. I tried a second impression with the Solamnic seal, using a bunch more wax, but ended up with a lot of wax stuck in the seal, a bit of milliput stuck to the wax on the paper, and generally not a useful impression.
Here you can see how much wax came up with the seal. Also you can see (sorry it's blurry) that a chunk of the left wing is missing, because it's attached to the paper:
My final thoughts are: Apoxie Sculpt works better than Milliput for this purpose. Chill the seal before using; this will help cool the wax faster and release the seal more readily. And stick to ~30mm or smaller.
Inspired by a Facebook post: do any of you use physical props in your RPGs?
1. I often used actual weirdly-made ornamental perfume bottles to represent potions. On one occasion, I implied heavily that drinking this one potion would cause a one point increase in a random stat... but the PLAYER had to actually drink the contents of the bottle!
The players looked in the bottle. They smelled it. One of them wanted to do the "dip the finger and taste" test, but I ruled that doing this would invalidate the potion. It had to be CHUGGED.
Turned out that the main ingredients were coffee and lemon juice...
2. A friendly troll once served the party a pie. When the party agreed to sample the pie, I stood up, opened the stove, and took out an actual pie I had made before the game. It was still warm. And it was green. And had warts. (I'd used green food coloring in the crust and pie itself).
The players... stared at it. One of them asked for a knife. I gave them one. He cut the pie open. Inside was thick, runny green stuff, green chunks, and unidentifiable colored bits.
The party stared. I said, "The troll is looking at you expectantly. Do any of you try his pie?"
It was actually a homemade chicken pot pie with dyed vegetables and cream gravy filling (albeit the color of broccoli). But it took them a while to figure this out. And one guy nearly heaved, despite knowing what was in the pie...
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