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So, in my Iron Kingdoms RPG campaign, I needed a Soul Stalker -- a wormy, tentacled extra-dimensional monster that intrudes into the mortal world for the sole purpose of chasing down someone who reneges upon a deal with the otherworldly creatures known as the Infernals.  Artwork from the newer Monsternomicon made it look more centipede-like, but old Iron Kingdoms d20 Monsternomicon illustrations of lesser infernals sets a trend wherein they tend to look almost embryotic, more soft-edged and squishy.





I had this fellow from the latest Bones 3 Kickstarter (Graveyard Expansion) -- 77541 Carrion Worm.  I also had a few tentacles from 02664 Phase Cat, because once upon a time I needed some wild cats of the leopard variety, but couldn't actually find some ... so the next best thing was to pick up some Reaper Phase Cats, leave off the tentacles, and fill the gaps on their backs with some putty.  I kept those tentacles around because you JUST NEVER KNOW when you'll need those for something, eh?  And basically I just drilled a couple of holes (a little larger than I usually do for my pinning holes for wire) so I could insert the ends of the pewter tentacle pieces.  Voila!  Extra-dimensional horror!


The scenery, by the way, is a combination of some Secret Weapon Tablescapes "Forgotten City" tiles (which I finally got to try out for the first time this weekend), and some kludged-together bits of scenery made from pink foam board.





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On 7/8/2017 at 10:18 AM, Chaoswolf said:

Cool conversion, and good paint job on it!


The terrain looks pretty good, too. What do you think of Secret Weapon's stuff?


Thanks!  I'm pretty pleased with the Secret Weapon Miniatures "Tablescapes" overall.  I've been in the process of retiring some of my old foam-board and cardboard terrain that hasn't been holding up too well in the garage (I'm in Florida, so I don't have a basement), and I've also been trying to figure out better ways to quickly set up a table at convention games.


For HIPS terrain boards, previously I've tried the Games & Gears Battleboards (specifically the "Hawk" city streets), but those things are big and unwieldy -- each board is 2'x2', and it's rather thick.  Also, I'm a bit disappointed in the surface detailing: it really looks like someone just scrawled out an engraving pattern in CorelDraw to spell out the outlines of the sidewalk tiles and such, and then that was used as the template for "carving" the details into the surface.  Seriously, it was no more detail than could have been accomplished with some laser-cut MDF.  It's a bit sloppy at points, as some of the lines don't fully connect to form the outline of a sidewalk tile here or there, and I've seen more work put into making an interesting detailed surface in TOYS.


Tablescapes seems to address everything I might have found wrong with the Games & Gears Battleboards.  First off, they come in 1'x1' tiles, with big friendly flexible corner clip pieces that make it easy to quickly latch the things together.  The difference between 2'x2' and 1'x1' might look petty on paper, but the box they came in has a plastic handle, and they load up rather nicely (with a bit of room to spare) for transport.  With the 2'x2' Games & Gear boards, by comparison, they just game in big cardboard sleeves -- no handle, and too heavy to comfortably just tuck several of them under an arm to transport up and down stairs at a convention.  The Tablescapes are also fairly thin and compact for the most part, but durable.


The Tablescapes tiles hold up well to spray paint, and have considerable detail.  So far, I've got several of the "Forgotten City" tiles and a flocked set of Rolling Hills for my fantasy games, for my Fallout-themed games I have some more Rolling HIlls and Scrapyard tiles painted up "wasteland" style, and for modern games (plus a bit of Fallout), I have a few "Urban Streets - Clean" tiles.  (The Urban Streets are a bit redundant for my purposes with those Games & Gears street battleboards, but I really like the extra details with the cracked and textured streets, gutters, grills and panels, and so forth.  I'd love to get the "battle-damaged" Urban Streets, but that'll only happen if I can find them at some incredible mark-down, as I've already blown a sizeable portion of my "hobby budget" on Tablescapes tiles.)


Now, I can still complain about ANYTHING, so there are still a few points where I could do with some improvement.  (The fact that I spend far more words on explaining my discontent than on my praise does NOT mean that my net opinion is negative.  It's just that while it's simple enough to say that something is awesome, if I have criticisms I feel the obligation to be specific.)



It's evident that this is done with computer-aided design, in that there's a bit of "cut-and-paste" and "squash-and-stretch" visible in some of the repeating elements.  It's not THAT BAD, but it looks a bit odd when some basic model such as a tire or truck grill or rectangular crate suffers a bit of squash-and-stretch such that what should be 90-degree angles are no longer so.


Another drawback of the "cut-and-paste" is that in places the scrapyard looks like it's suffering from video game "clipping errors," as there might be a nice big solid sheet of corrugated steel that part of a vehicle or crate is inexplicably sticking right through.


I should note, though, that this is only something I've noticed while getting up close with the details while painting it.  I imagine that the typical user/player is not going to notice or care.  Collectively, it gives the idea of a scrapyard, just like it's supposed to, and it looks cool.  So I'm willing to forgive a little such sloppiness.


Rolling Hills:

One of the big features of Rolling Hills would be the modular riverbed.  It looks cool ... and yet it's also my pet peeve about the set.  It has a lot of potential in that you can either just paint it up and leave is as a bone-dry riverbed, or else you can go the extra mile with some water effects to give it some "water."  However, there are two details that bug me when it comes to "rivers" in tabletop miniatures:


1) They're ridiculously small.  They're really more "streams" than rivers.  Depending upon the game system and character, it might be possible to jump right across.


2) They're a bit too straight and angular.  The Kickstarter concept art showed "corner" river pieces that meandered about in a sort of angled horseshoe path that actually looked pretty good.  I could do with a bit of "meandering" to break up the straight lines in what's supposed to be an organic feature, but for some reason the final product became a fairly boring curved 90-degree turn for one tile, and two straights (one narrower, one wider) for the remainder.  If you just use the straights, it doesn't look that bad (perhaps it's just a ditch), but the corner turns call out how unnatural the angular nature of a square grid seems when used to represent organic wilds.


3) Just as you can't apply magic paint to turn part of a miniature transparent, we haven't "portable holes" that can be laid down on a tabletop to represent an abyss, chasm, pit, or other feature that descends below the plane of the table.  That's one reason why for my terrain board projects, I started with thick foam, because then I could dig down into the foam to make battle trenches or pools or rivers.  Resin or plastic "river" terrain pieces generally have piled-up banks, and a water's surface that would put the water table higher than the surrounding ground.


As such, I was somewhat disappointed that the "Rolling Hills" tiles have those tell-tale rising banks on either side of the river.  I'd rather the riverbed just be a bit shallower and represent a gradual tip into the (slightly) elevated surface of the tile.  (As a bonus, if I left the riverbed empty, it wouldn't become such a pitfall for placing and standing miniatures.)  But ... eh, that's just how it is.  I'm tempted to make some sort of "riverbank transition" pieces that would be incomplete tiles that line up with the edge of "Rolling Hills" tiles on one side, and then have a jagged descent on the other -- and then my "water" would just be a big sheet of plastic spray-painted blue, lying underneath the whole board, and the river could basically be as wide as I wished.  Alas, I wouldn't have the advantage of the tiles being able to "link up" with the existing Tablescapes tiles, unless I sacrificed a few of the "link" pieces and permanently glued them to my custom transition pieces.


But, just to be clear, I love these tiles!  :D

Back on the plus side, the design of the Tablescapes linking system is such that they line up nicely with terrain that isn't necessarily "compatible" but at least has a straight edge. My Hirst Arts boards already naturally round off to the nearest inch in dimensions, and I've got a number of terrain mini-tiles that measure 6"x6" that would line up nicely next to the 1'x1' tiles.  I might eventually make some sort of riverbank/bridge/dock piece, and the current "river" sections could just represent some sort of tributary or drainage ditch.


And once again, despite all the words spent nitpicking little details that I didn't care for, the Tablescapes tiles still nicely fulfill exactly what I got them for.  I really hope that Secret Weapons Miniatures gets around to making some more.  (I can imagine all sorts of designs I could make use of, and I've found uses for everything they've put out so far.)

Edited by Jordan Peacock
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