Cassette-based D&D adventures and dungeon-delving soundtracks

I love the work that the Italian DIY ambient punk and dungeon drone label, Heimat Der Katastrophe, is doing. They release cassette tapes and digital albums via Bandcamp that are sonic-based old-school D&D adventures. Every cassette comes with a folded tray card with maps, dungeon and character descriptions, and background on the adventure depicted in the music and on the card. You can just listen and enjoy the music, or follow along with the action outlined in the adventure, or play an actual D&D adventure using the music and material provided.

HDK's latest offering is artist Kobold's "The village in the frozen mountains." The music is described as "short dungeon-pop compositions in a 16-bit style with magic melodies that will transport you straight to when you were young and carefree."

The limited edition cassettes sell out immediately. Today's release is already gone. But you can listen to the music free on Bandcamp or buy the digital album which comes with all of the adventure materials.

Image: Promo photo Read the rest

Creating realistic vegetation for a tabletop gaming board

Last month, I covered the unreal tabletop fantasy village that Real Terrain Hobbies and Goobertown Hobbies built using buildings from Tabletop World, two Croatian sculptors who pretty much make the best resin-cast fantasy buildings in the world.

Now, Neil of Real Terrain is building a gaming board and terrain features worthy of the Tabletop World buildings that he and Brent so meticulously painted.

Here are his first two videos documenting the process. The first is of him building the actual board, the second is him beginning to add paint, the ground cover, and vegetation. These videos are something of a masterclass in terrain making.

One thing that Neil shares in the second video is a great tip for all miniatures painters and terrain makers. As he begins to put the watered down paint onto his foam rock formations (in gray, brown, green, and black), he has to remind himself that it's going to look kind of awful, like it might not be working, before he's done. This is something that often frustrates and scares newbies. Often, basecoats and early layerings of paint can look bad and you can become fearful that you're on the wrong track. As you gain more experience painting and weathering, you realize that it takes time to build up your colors, and that, for things to look realistic, you need many different colors and sometimes some of those colors look wrong when first applied. Things in nature are not a single color. Your minis and terrain look best when they have a complex of color. Read the rest

The fantastic fantasy miniatures game, Frostgrave, is currently free!

Osprey Games has made the PDF version of their popular game, Frostgrave, free in a gesture of support for self-isolating gamers who might be interested in the award-winning skirmish-level fantasy miniatures game.

Frostgrave is normally a two-player game of wizards and their warbands duking it out over treasure and other spoils in the ruins of the frozen city of Frostgrave. But there have been some solo adventures in the Dark Alchemy supplement and the recent Perilous Dark supplement. As part of their shut-in bundle, Osprey is also giving away Dark Alchemy for free, along with the three solo scenarios from Perilous Dark. You use the code FGV2020 on check-out to get the free deal.

Frostgrave is one of my favorite tabletop miniature games and I can't say enough good things about it. I've never played solo, but I became tempted when Perilous Dark was released. Now that we're all trapped in our wizard's towers, under siege from tiny, glowing invisible monsters, it seems like a good time to give solo Frostgrave a roll. I've got an Explosive Rune spell with "COVID-19" written all over it.

Here's a bit more about the free PDF deal from Frostgrave's creator, Joseph McCullough.

Image: Cover art for Frostgrave: The Wizard's Conclave Read the rest

Hand of Glory offers modular, magnetic gaming miniatures

If you've ever tried to create swapable arms and weapons on gaming miniatures, using rare earth magnets, you know what a hassle it can be. Great idea, not fun to implement.

In 2018, a Kickstarter called Hand of Glory raised $156,000 to create a line of hot-swapable fantasy miniatures. With a collection of figures outfitted with rare earth magnet wrists and a line of weapons and other accessories, you could mix and match to create unique miniatures tailored to your game. Hand of Glory is back with another campaign to add more figures and tons more weapons and accessory options to the line.

The folks at Hand of Glory were kind enough to send me a sample box of minis and weapons. The minis are wonderfully sculpted and the weapons and other components are varied and characterful. Hand of Glory 2 introduces 11 new figures and over 100 new weapons and other items. Among the new additions are chain-based weapons and animal figures on chain leashes.

I have never played a game using magnetized minis, so I can't judge how fussy the process is of changing out parts on the fly, or how often things fall off. The magnets do seem strong, but I did notice that some of the bigger, heavier weapons sometimes pivot on the magnetic wrist as you move the figure and "go limp," not something you ever want your scary, intimidating weapon to do. But this is a minor quibble.

With so many people using miniatures in RPGs these days, and so many cool "miniature agnostic" fantasy skirmish games out there, these sort of modular, design-your-own minis make a lot of sense. Read the rest

A great, non-intimidating way to get started in miniature-based Dungeons & Dragons

A lot of roleplaying gamers who are used to playing in "theater of the mind" mode (with nothing more than pencil, paper, dice, and vivid imaginations) are often intimidated by the idea of switching over to miniatures and terrain-based gaming. The idea of acquiring and painting the minis, building a gaming board, and making a bunch of terrain and props can be an overwhelming prospect. All of this "dungeon crafting" really is a hobby unto itself for many of us [raises hand].

So, I really like these projects on Dungeon Craft. Basically, you build a stone floor on top of a lazy Susan using insulation foam and some simple walls, doors, and other dungeon furnishings (also out of foam). Your main tool is a gel pen that you use to simply draw/carve the stones into the foam.

You don't need to create a complete dungeons and all of the furnishings to do mini-based RPGs. All you need is this little, moveable theater-in-the-round stage that you can change up with each encounter you're looking to represent to your players.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Two well-known YouTube game crafters paint up an entire tabletop fantasy village in five days

"Two men, one highly detailed resin fantasy village, and five days to paint it."

If you're a fantasy tabletop gamer, you likely know about Tabletop World, two Croatian terrain makers whose resin-cast buildings are the gold standard in tabletop gaming. Read the rest

Crowdfunding an old school gaming zine as part of Kickstarter's Zine Quest 2 campaign

James Floyd Kelly runs the excellent Tabletop Engineer channel on YouTube and Bexim's Bazaar, a monthly tabletop gaming magazine (to which I often contribute a game-crafting column).

Like me, Jim was a lover of 80s roleplaying game fanzines. Unlike me, he's decided to use Kickstarter's Zine Quest 2 campaign as an excuse to try his hand at creating one of these homemade, old school zines. His zine, entitled Tavern Tales #1: Lair of the Battle Mage, will be a 32-page mini-adventure delivered in the format of the classic gaming zine (5.5" x 8" size).

To honor the fun and uniqueness and rarity of the handmade, old school fanzines that have survived from the 70s and 80s, no more than 300 physical copies of Tavern Tales #1: Lair of the Battle Mage will be printed and mailed to backers. I'm going old school -- I'll be printing them, folding them, stapling them, and mailing them. I've created the 300 limit because I can only print, assemble and ship so many in the month of October. (Yes, more of Niloshis' tales may make an appearance in future zines, but not this one. Read it, play it, and then tuck it away for someone to discover in a few decades or more.)

If you haven't checked out the Zine Quest 2 campaign, do! There is an embarrassment of retro-gaming riches here.

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Why Star Breach is a sci-fi tabletop skirmish game you should be paying attention to

One of the coolest, most impressive games I was introduced to last year was Wild in the Streets, a free-rules punk, goth, and metal miniatures skirmisher from Slow Death Games. Slow Death has upped the ante on awesome with their latest project, Star Breach. Like WITS, this "multiverse" narrative-style skirmish game has free and simple downloadable rules [PDF] and is miniatures agnostic.

In this play-through video, Gaminggeek discusses his quest for the perfect sci-fi skirmish rules and explains why he thinks Star Breach fits the bill. He ends up giving the game a 9 out of 10.

I have yet to play the game, but I love the straightforward approach to the rules and the ability to play games within the worlds of 40K, Star Wars: Legion, Deadzone, Necromunda, Kill Team, etc, using an alternative rules set. Anyone familiar with these sci-fi universes will recognize "the Hive," "Legions of Mankind," "the Resistance," "the Dark Path," and other thinly-veiled versions of factions found in other popular sci-fi games.

Star Breach is currently on Kickstarter with a softcover rulebook and sets of special StarBreach dice. You can use regular d6 dice (it's a 2d6-based system), but the official dice are worth it. Read the rest

Black Magic Craft unboxes a full-color 3D-printed Hero Forge miniature

Jeremy of Black Magic Craft managed to get his hands on one of the prototype 3D printed full-color(!) miniatures that Hero Forge is currently offering in their Kickstarter campaign for Hero Forge 2.0.

As you can see from the video, the results are pretty impressive, as are the other miniature design and digital painting tools coming in Hero Forge 2.0. Given all of this gamery goodness, it is perhaps no surprise that Hero Forge's Kickstarter campaign has already racked up over $2 million, with 15 days still to go. Read the rest

My favorite new game, KnifeTank: The Shüffling, is now on Kickstarter

Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of getting to play a new game that quickly became my son's and my favorite over the holiday break (when we try to play lots of games together). It's my friend Doc Popular's KnifeTank and he was kind enough to send me a prototype copy.

When I got the game, I was excited, but with reservations. No offense to Doc, but I expected it to be light and gimmicky, something of a vanity project. What I wasn't expecting was a game I instantly wanted to play over and over again and invite my friends to come and play (which I did). KnifeTank can hold its own against anything coming out of a large commercial game company and I look forward to it enjoying a long and happy life, with many expansions and a worldwide, enthusiastic player community.

KnifeTank comes in a poker-type tuck box and includes everything you need to play. You get 30 action/movement cards, 8 tanks (4 two-sided cards), 4 health cards, and 5 damage cards. The box also contains a rule book and there are two rules summary cards. The game is for 2-4 players and rated ages 12 and up. Each game takes about 20-30 minutes to play. The goal of the game is get your tank from your table's edge to your opponent's edge or to eliminate your opponent(s) by reducing their health/hits to zero.

Those familiar with tabletop miniature games like Star Wars X-Wing and Gaslands will likely dig the movement mechanic here. Read the rest

Squidmar issues another miniature painting challenge on Fivver

After Boing Boing and other sites wrote about the Squidmar Miniatures video where Emil challenged painters on Fivver to paint a mini for him, the video went viral. Others painters approached him about doing another video that they could participate in and even Fivver itself wanted in on the action.

So, Emil decided to issue another challenge. With $600 provided by Fivver, he sent one mini from the Zarbag's Gitz warband for Warhammer Underworlds to eight painters (I guess paying them $75 each?). This time, he didn't give them any directive beyond using their creativity. For some additional inspiration, he also provided them with a little animated story describing Zarbag's Gitz.

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Jeremy of Black Magic Craft builds a gorgeous Mandalorian diorama

On Black Magic Craft, Jeremy usually builds scenery for tabletop fantasy and sci-fi gaming. But, inspired by his new 3D resin printer, he decided to create something just for fun.

Given the Nerdisphere's current obsession with The Mandalorian, he settled on a Mandalorian and baby Yoda diorama. The results are impressive, one of the coolest things I've ever seen Jeremy build.

The video contains lots of great build tips that can be applied to tabletop gaming terrain, dioramas, or any type of hobby modeling. Good stuff. Read the rest

YouTuber hires people on Fiverr to paint his minis

One of my favorite new gaming miniature painting channels is Emil Nyström's Age of Squidmar. In just six months of making videos, Emil has already established himself as a content creator to watch. Not only is he a talented miniature painter and painting teacher, he also chooses fun themes for his channel that go beyond things like painting weapons with non-metallic paint, using a wet palette, and model basing (all of which he's covered).

In the above video, Emil ventures onto the online marketplace Fiverr, finds some miniature painters there, and requests that they paint a single Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine. To make the challenge more interesting, he kept his identity secret and sent them a reference model from Golden Demon painter, Antonio Peña, and asked them to paint a Primaris Intercessor in Imperial Fists colors, one of the most difficult Space Marine color schemes in the 40K universe.

He got quotes in response that ranged from $10 ($25 with shipping) to $110. After several painters bailed, he went beyond the confines of Fiverr and commissioned two pro painters, asking for a $40 paint job from one and a $100 job from the other. He ended up commissioning six painters.

The results across the board were pretty decent. Even the $10 jobs were very respectable tabletop quality. The most impressive for the money ($40) was the model seen above. They even painted a display on the Auspex (Space Marine handheld scanner). This painter also did a two-part video of him painting the model. Read the rest

Luxury RPG dice set goes berserk on Kickstarter, raising over $1.66 million

Karen Wang launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday for custom gaming dice with a modest funding goal of $20,000. Twenty-four hours later she's raised $1.66 million and the number continues to go up. I am especially enamored of the enamel pins she made:

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