Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hirst Arts Projects

In both miniature games and some rpgs terrain is always an issue. It can be quite time consuming or expensive. So, over the last few years I've collected a number of Hirst Arts molds. These are rubber molds that take in plaster. I currently use Excalibur plaster which is dental plaster that doesn't meet the standards for dental works. Basically the company gets to sell their 2nd tier plaster to modelers for less. I made a number of ruins and basic shapes. I even used it in my wedding cake top...

The current project was to use a number of the tiles to build three different dungeon terrains. I had cast a number of them over the years. I decided to put them on pink insulation foam so I could make pits and such.
This is the cavern terrain pre-painted.

Some more pieces. The lego L helps keep the walls straight.

I mostly went with basic designs with this test run. I did decide on this one fancy wall.

So, next I picked some pain to try. I went with house paint, Behr. First some Egyptian Nile for the cavern base. The paint was slightly thinned to get in all the crevices.

Then came some heavy dry brushing of sand stone

Some close ups (sorry not great light in the garage)

Overall, I like the look and effect. The painting is quick and gives a nice look and terrain. The main time issue is the casting. However, you can do stuff in between sets. Of course with school coming again not a bad activity for a break in grading.

For the fieldstone dungeon I went first with mahogany for the base coat. 

Then a drybrush of puddle for the stonework.
Once again I like the effect with just a little time of painting. I might add a few different color stones to enhance the fieldstone effect. 

Next step will be to start building the more interesting rooms and painting the gothic dungeon. Overall, a nice easy project just takes a little while.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some Thoughts on 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

New Editions

Nothing can divide a gaming community more than a new edition. Warhammer 40K recently switched to 7th edition. It killed the game at the local shop I go too. The numbers are growing again but I doubt it will ever hit the popularity it had. 

Of course the biggest edition war I can think of was D&D switching from 3.5 to 4e. Part of this was due to the magazine license mess with paizo. The other was Wizards of the Coast (WoTC) marketing. They really bashed the old system and did a radical shift in gaming style. Some people loved it others didn't. It didn't help that 3e was so open licensed and 4e was not. In fact 3e license was designed to allow something like Pathfinder to come into being (Not the first game to do it, but the successor game to 3.5).  

So to be fair I feel I should say my experience with D&D. I played Orginal, Advanced, 2e, returned with 3e. A number of very good modules got me deep into 3.5. We mixed it with Monte Cooke's Ptolus and Arcana Evolved. With the open license we added Midnight, Warmachine's Iron Kingdoms, Pathfinder Adventures, etc. My group played 4e for a while but found ourselves going to Pathfinder when it came out. 4e turned into a one shot rpg with a board game feel (as one friend said our alternate descent). In Pathfinder once again open licence has been a big thing with Ways of the wicked, Rappan athuk, Slumbering Tsar, Razor Coast, Rise of the Drow, etc. My group has also played a lot more Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Gurps, and Legend of the Five Rings since 3.5.

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

Always starts with the Players Handbook
So first things first, WotC treated this release in a far different manner. Of course many people have changed since the 4e days and they seem to want far more outside opinions. In fact they did a massive open playtest of the system. So what was the result? I will note this is from a read of the rules, haven't played it.

Look and Feel

The Player's book first has some great art in it. Closer to the older style than more recent editions. The whole feel of the book takes me back to 1&2e with modern advances. This actually explains the new system quite well. It feels like what I fondly remember of 2e with advances from 3.5 and savage worlds. Character creations is far easier and you are less likely to drive yourself into a useless corner. That's not to say its balanced perfectly, just that there are less wrong choices.

Part of this is due to the idea of your proficiency score. The progression of base attack bonus, saving throws, skills, spell dc etc are all rolled up into your proficiency score. So a 1st through 4th level character has a +2 proficiency. So making an attack is strength bonus plus a +2 if you are proficient in that weapon. A rogue with dexterity proficiency would make a dex saving throw with his dex bonus and the +2. Skills same idea. This simplifies progression. The slow progression of numbers makes monsters last longer as being a threat. This seems great for something like the Original Temple of Elemental Evil.

Character Creation

The normal stats are here as normal (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma). There is a maximum for any stat at 20, not a first level max but for the characters live span. The first choice is race and then a sub-race. Each gives you various bonuses from skill proficiency, bonus to a stat, weapon proficiency,  or other special abilities. Next step is picking your class which decides your proficiency in weapons, saving throws, spells etc. Each class has a number of sub classes to pick from. These have starting equipment options. Finally you pick your background which also adds another proficiency or two to change your character a bit.

The classes with their various sub classes inside of them give a decent variety. The fighter even has a swordmage subclass that with the proficiency setup seems to be effective. The bard seems useful as well which is an odd thought. The classes overall seem decently put together. Leveling up can easily be done at the table since there are only a few choices needed to be made. 


A character at advantage gets to roll two dice and take the highest. One at disadvantage rolls two dice but keeps the lowest. This is a nice way to give a quick bonus due to circumstances. 

General Thoughts

Wish I had this game back in the old days. It seems to be a great game for a group that wants a campaign of DD but doesn't want the detail level of Pathfinder. In many ways the arguments between using Savage Worlds or GURPS. 

I don't see my ongoing campaign group switching over. They like the options and tactical choices in Pathfinder and like the building of the characters. Another group of friends rpg has turned into board gaming. So I'm trying a Descent Board Game campaign with them. Gets the fantasy story campaign feel, but is a nice board game.
The variety of missions are interesting for Descent. To give an example one is a masquerade that a vampire comes in. It becomes a race between the players and the vampire to find her masked target first. Fighting off her flunkies and trying to find who to protect.

Having said I could easily see doing a one shot or a short campaign with a number of players I know. Its nice and easy rules set and doesn't need much thought out of the session. For those without a lot of time its a great system. I also think it is a great introduction to the hobby. The main problem I see is all the other ideas I have for campaigns. Does Dungeons and Dragons win over Savage Worlds set in American or French Revolution? Wierd War II? Cthulhu Acthung? Legend of the Five Rings? Call of Cthulhu? Delta Green? etc. Doesn't help the first module isn't that great. Doing the Temple of Elemental Evil again could be fun. 

So, in the end seems a game I really wanted years ago. I'm willing to play, just not sure it will fit in.

As a side note, how much my wife and I are more rpg than crunch? First 10 minutes of Diablo III on PS4 we make sure our banners looks right.