Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Tabletop Crafting: A Tower

I picked up a new hobby over the summer; tabletop crafting. Using foam, cardboard, glue, craft paint and other cheap materials I started making props and terrain for a con game I'm running in November.

In order to develop some skills, practice some techniques I watched on YouTube, and to take a break from that game prep, I decided to work on a tower. With Halloween just a few months away I thought it'd be a good idea. Thoughts of A Barbarian also launched a Fall Creativity Contest so I decided to speed it up so I could enter it.

http://thoughtsofabarbarian.blogspot.com/2018/08/its-contest-time.html

So here's what I did...

I painted a Pringles tube black. I cut out a bunch of bricks out of XPS Foam, tossed them in a coffee can with rocks and shook the whole thing up to texture and bevel the bricks and then hot glued them on the tube. I cut pieces out of a thick black foam core board and textured them with a piece of crinkled aluminum foil.

Here I cut the outline for a doorway.

Using cheap foam core board I drew a brick pattern, scored it with an Xacto knife and beveled it with a ballpoint pen.
I inserted the archway.

I wrapped a textured piece of foam core board to a toilet paper core to make a second smaller tower.

I cut out sharp edges out of the bricks and textured them with my aluminum turd and inserted a window to the tower made out of foam core

I cut out pieces out of matches to make an underlying wooden beam support structure to the steps.

I cut out, sanded and textured a bridge out of XPS foam to connect both towers.

I glued on the bridge and second tower, added a pavement to the bridge and the start of the roofs.

Using toothpicks and scrap pieces of the black foam core board I made railings.

I added more beam with match sticks and glued them with super glue from the dollar store.

I hid the bridge seams with some spackle.

I made decoration for the roof with a bbq skewer and some wooden beads and then black bombed the whole thing with a mixture of matte Mod Podge and black acrylic paint to make sure I didn't miss a spot. The mod podge protected and hardened the foam.

I peeled off and trimmed scales from a pine cone and hotglued them on to the styrofoam roof structure one by one as shingles.

I cut out a circle out of a piece of cardboard and made a cone. I then cut out a bunch of shingles out of cardboard and hotglued them on one by one.

I painted the shingles with a pewter gray, barn red and terracotta and capped everything off with two beads and painted it with a metallic bronze.





The rest is just a bunch of painting. Base coat, heavy dry brush with a lighter color, black or brown wash and then an even lighter dry brush highlight. The roof is a metallic gold, railing with a steel, steps are my attempt at sandstone. I filled the large gaps in the stone work with moss and speckled a light mossy green around it. The lil egg shape things on the bridge could be magic lanterns from Eberron or simply a decoration.

Some of you might have noticed that there's no entrance to this tower. I started building this as upper level towers in Sharn (Eberron). I might build the lower level at some point. You may also have noticed that there are many architectural styles. The reason why is because this was an exercise for me to try a couple things and also because I envisioned Sharn being built over centuries with different architects, materials and workers from different cultures. The steps are huge and out of scale but in order to be used in table top gaming, your terrain has to accommodate miniatures. So that's why they were huge.

I've spent several hours on this but it was fun. The hardest thing for me was to not be too symmetrical. The most tedious part was the pine cone scales for the roof but it's also what I think makes unique. The wooden beams and shingled roofs were also quite tedious.

The material to build something like that was less than $2. The tools? Maybe around $40.

Cheers! I hope it makes you want to try something like that!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

FreeRPGDay - Wrath & Glory



Yesterday was Free RPG Day and I visited my local store to pick up some of the offerings and buy some books as well. All gaming products were 20% off!

I'm not gonna lie. I went there early hoping to get my hands on Wrath & Glory. Besides a few vague teasers on blogs this was to be the first preview of this new RPG. When news of this RPG first came on my feed I quickly dismissed it thinking it used the same system as the others in the series. It was only after actually reading about it that I learned it was going to use a dice pool and narrative system. Color me interested.

So here I am a day later. I read the quickstart rules and the adventure summary. I'm here to tell you what you missed out on and share some of my impressions.

Wrath & Glory - Blessings Unheralded comes shrink wrapped. The cover and back is printed cardstock inside of which is a map. Inside is a 32 pages booklet containing the quickstart rules and the adventure. There's also a token sheet printed on cardstock and 4 character folios.

The production quality is top notch. Starter sets like FFG Star Wars offer basically the same thing, and charge you for it. This one is free and holds up to it.

The Booklet

So Wrath & Glory takes place in the WH 40k universe. It's a grim gothic sci-fi universe where the last bastion of humanity fight xenos, corruption, heretics and daemons. I've always been a fan of the lore, but not the system. I read Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader and played in a few games over the years but never ran it.

The writers warn that this is an introduction and that some rules have been simplified in this Quickstart. The full game promises not to restrict your warband to only Imperial archetypes. That means you could an Eldar or Ork boys if you want. I'm not a purist. I can see how this may offend long time fans but I welcome this change. I think it can only lead to interesting roleplay opportunities.


Sorry about the glare!


 The Core Mechanics

Task resolution is dice pool based. You add a number of d6s equal to your skill and linked attribute, add bonus dice and you roll against a Difficulty Number (DN), usually a 3 but it could be higher or lower depending on the difficulty of the task. A 4 or 5 counts as one Icon (success) and a 6 counts as two Icons. If you meet or exceed the DN, you succeed. 

Then you have the Wrath Dice. One dice out of every pool is designated as the Wrath dice and should be of a different color. If that dice comes up as a 6, you accumulate Glory. If it comes up as a 1, a Complication is added to the scene. You can gain Wrath or Complications regardless of if the test is successful or not.

Glory is a pooled resource for your warband. Complications is something the player and GM work together to add unexpected drama to the scene. If you can't think of anything, you can elect to give the GM a point of Ruin.

Then you have Shifting. Shifting is a resource you can use to gain additional effect. If you've accumulated more Icons than needed to accomplish a task you can deal more damage, improve the quality or speed. It's basically a crit.

You start with 2 Wrath Points. This is a meta currency not unlike Bennies, Fate Points or Force Points. You can spend it to re-roll failures (not the whole roll), restore Shock (stress damage) or make a Narrative Declaration. You can gain more Wrath Points with good roleplaying or accomplishing personal objectives (included on the pregens - they're pretty cool!).

Glory is a representation of the Heroes' will to win. As previously stated, it's a collective resource. You begin with 0 in the pool but gain some by shifting Exalted (6s) Icons into the pool or with a 6 on the Wrath Dice. Note that there's a set maximum number of Glory points you can have, at which point you can't gain more. So it's good to use them instead of hoarding them. You can use Glory to increase a Dice Pool, damage or seize the initiative.

Ruin is the GM's equivalent of Wrath. You gain some with failed Corruption or Fear Tests and with 6s on the Wrath dice as well. You can spend Ruin to active special abilities, interrupt the PCs during initiative or seize the initiative, re-roll failures, restore Shock or Soak Wounds.

I think you can see the influence of games like FFG Star Wars and Genesys here. I sense a bit of 2d20 here as well. What do these two have in common? Jay Little. He didn't work on this game, though. At least not that I'm aware. No. The lead designer is Ross Watson. He's worked on many RPGs but I know him better for his work on Savage Worlds products such as Savage Rifts and Accursed. And the adventure is written by John Dunn, who also worked on Accursed.

While the core mechanics offer just a faint hint, the combat options (such as multi-actions, firing into melee), interaction attacks (tricks and tests of wills), the way damage works and combat effects (hinder and vulnerable), feel familiar to a Savage Worlds player like myself. Defiance checks feel like saves vs death from D&D 5e. So there's a bit of everything. It feels like they've used fun mechanics that work well together that I understood instantly.

Character Folios





The character folios are gorgeous! Full character portrait on the front, the character sheet spread with cheat sheet tables in the middle and a bio plus a handout on the back. My only complaint is that I wish there were one or two more.

Token Sheet

Then you have a token sheet. They aren't pre-perforated, though. But this is a free package, remember? Use some scissors and make sure your tongue is sticking out while you do that. They cover everything from the PCs, NPCs, troops, tracking wounds, shock and statuses.

The Map

Finally, there's the map. I have yet to read the adventure so I don't know what it represents but it looks pretty good to me!


Conclusion

I'm hoping this is made available in digital format soon for people that couldn't get a copy. If this was something you could purchase, I'd tell you to go grab it. I'd have paid $5-10 for something like that. Meanwhile, I started scanning it, hoping I can run this online for my friends soon.

I have to say I'm looking forward to see the full book. Although a bit crunchier than I usually like, I quite dig the system from reading it. Sometimes you read something and it isn't as complicated when you play it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wiseguys Update June 13th 2018

Hi everybody!

Eric Lamoureux here for an update on the progress with Wiseguys. I recorded the latest Wiseguys Video Diary last night but the audio is completely borked, so I decided to put it into words here. My Wiseguys Video Diary is a YouTube series where I talk about my journey through the process of writing my first setting for Savage Worlds and hope that it can help other creators going down the same path.

It's been a month since the release of the Wiseguys Demo Kit and it's been downloaded over 400 times! We've received very positive feedback so we're quite pleased. Several wonderful people around the world have also come forward to help playtest the Demo Kit and beyond.

I've concluded the playtest with my group this past weekend. I have to say I've gotten what I wanted out of it. The biggest effect it's had was to prune out the things I believed were cool and essential to the Wiseguys experience but turned out not to be simply because they didn't come up, were overlooked during character creation, or that I didn't want to use during play.

Something else that influenced my decision was the discussion my Wild Die Podcast co-hosts and I had in a recent episode on Setting Rules and an interview at Veiled Fury Entertainment. At that time, Wiseguys was working with about 9 Setting Rules. Some were nothing more than a paragraph. Still, I took a hard look at what I had and decided to take half of them out, or at least represent them in another way. The Organized Crime setting rule that gave every player characters the Vow (Minor) Hindrance, Connections Edge and left them with 50% of their earnings at the end of each week became part of character creation instead, with the 50% being represented the Poor Hindrance. I worked hard on the Contacts Setting Rule and I Know a Guy Edge but the players didn't seem interested in taking any of the 30 or so cool contacts I had created. So I changed how it worked. You can now make up one Contact as needed per rank, and the I Know a Guy Edge allows you to create more. All those contacts I created will become nice cards that a group can use when someone lacks inspiration. The Source of Income Setting Rule inspired by the Optional Wealth system from Nemezis, and meant to highlight a mobster's life outside of "adventuring" is in the process of becoming a random table the Don can use to put the spotlight on a particular character, creating a side-trek adventure of sort.

If you're writing your own setting, when it comes to Setting Rules my advice to you is this. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the desired effect on the game? The mechanic you thought was needed to illustrate it may not be the best one for that. For instance, in Wiseguys, when mobsters get caught they are likely to go to jail. This is the result of accumulating Heat and gaining the Wanted Hindrance. In Savage Worlds, Social Conflicts have an example of a trial. For the longest time, this was the way it came down to for me in my design. When I took a closer look at how Heat worked (basically like Wounds or Fatigue) it became obvious that once your Wanted (Incapacitated, hello?!) you roll on the Verdict Table (Incapacitation Table) using Knowledge (Law) instead of Vigor. Always keep mechanics as simple as possible when you design them. Then playtest them. Once you're done with that. Make them even simpler. Let them simmer for a while, and then make them even more simple again!

Finally. I've been working on Wiseguys almost non-stop for 13 months now. I'm very close to completion. Summer is here in North West Pennsylvania and it's very short. We're waiting on Savage Black to finish it because we want it to be compatible with it. So I decided to take a break from writing and playing Wiseguys for the summer. I'll still be coordinating the various playtest groups, taking notes and using the valuable feedback to finish the book. We also plan to release a few One Sheets leading up to the Kickstarter.

So that's it folks! Talk to you later.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wiseguys Video Diary #7

In episode #7 of my video diary I talk about designing Edges and Hindrances.
#wiseguys #justinsertimagination

Thursday, May 10, 2018

What's Next for Wiseguys?

Yesterday, Just Insert Imagination (Winter Eternal, Fuhgeddaboudit!, The Mutation Deck) released a FREE Demo Kit for the upcoming setting and tool kit for Savage Worlds that I wrote, Wiseguys.

In the coming months, I will continue my developer's vlog on YouTube, write more blogs, coordinate play test groups, publish new one sheets, and of course continue to write the full book.

The plan is to go to crowdfunding for artwork and editing once the draft has been completed.

Happy gaming!

Eric Lamoureux (justinsertimagination@gmail.com)