01 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 2)

One of the key things about good terrain building is preparation.

You need to know what the game system is, what mechanisms might come into effect, how figures are placed, what the setting is. Does the system allow figures to climb on buildings, or do they just run around on the one level? Are there rules for 'full cover' or 'partial cover'? Does the terrain need to accomodate different sizes of base?

For this first project, I'm just making a simple rectangular box...okay, maybe it's not just a simple box, it's a figure carry case and it's retractable, so it needs a degree of sturdiness and versatility. But sturdiness and versatility are generally useful to keep in mind with any terrain project. Sturdiness because you want this stuff to last, you don't want to have to make new terrain for every game played. Versatility because you want to be able to mix and match the terrain in interesting ways.

Once I get around to finishing off the series on geomorphs, I'll do a quick run showing how to combine terrain concepts and geomorph concepts to develop modular game boards.

For the moment though, a box that functions as a mobile peacekeeper station.

The first thing I do is draw up the terrain piece at full scale. Floor plan, elevation, and interesting angles that might make the piece a bit more interesting. Points of interest are good, but you need to make sure they add more in aestethic value than they take away in playability.

The next thing I do is measure up the board I'll be making the project from. If I weren't planning to use this piece as a storage box, I'd probably make the piece from thick card or foamcore board. Instead I'll be using MDF.

The next thing I do is cut those shapes out.

That's made quicker with power tools, but can be done just as easily by hand. Just make sure you leave a gap between the various parts, because a saw blade has a width of its own. I've seen a few projects go awry because someone hadn't considered that simple width of the blade. I like to make at least a 5mm gap between components.

Once the pieces have been cut out, make sure they are planed or sanded down fairly accurately. Even if you are making terrain that is designed to look decrepit and abused, it needs to be sturdy at it's core structure. The decay and abuse can be done with weathering techniques once the base piece has been created.

You might also note that I like to label all my pieces for easy identification.

Like I said at the beginning, preparation is key.

31 July, 2014

How to Roleplay

This has just hit my radar, and touches on many points I've made over the years.

I don't usually like to point people toward other blogs, I try to provide new content of my own, but this just says a lot of things really well.


I've encountered a few of these problem players (particularly in many LARP events).

29 July, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 1)

Alright, so we've worked our way through a painting tutorial (almost). There is a lot more to the hobby of miniature wargaming than simply painting up figures and moving them around a table with the assistance of some rules and dice rolls.

One of my favourite aspects of the hobby is developing terrain.

I've had an idea for my peacekeeper force, it's basically a carry case for the unit of troops, and a field base of operations to go on a table. I've started drawing up a few sketches to get my mind heading in the right direction for the project. 

The piece is based on the concept of the rapid deployment emergency shelter developed by Daiwa.

Then I've applied a few retractable solar panels, and it will be painted up in a manner to match the troops in this unit.

This tutorial series will go through my development process for the build, and a bit of my theory regarding wargaming terrain.

The Ancient Legacy of Plastic Animals

Late in 2013, there was a story about plastic animals doing the rounds. It appeared in a few places, but this seems to be the origin of the story.


This story has sat in the back of my mind for a while. It has given me thoughts about finding plastic animals of my own and using them in games. The problem is that most of the plastic animals I've found have been common beasts (or at least common for this part of the world...kangaroos, emus, platypi, etc. and typical zoo animals with distinctive shapes like lions, elephants, camels), certainly nothing monstrous.

But the other day I saw some plastic dinosaurs, and since I've been painting up plastic figurines, I figured that they might provide an opportunity. Voidstone Chronicles needs some interesting creatures for its heroes to face, and dinosaurs might make a fascinating addition to the setting.

So I decided to paint them with the same techniques that I've shown with my recent sequence of blog posts about figure painting.

This is what I've come up with...

Visits to the junk store are a great opportunity to find interesting bits and pieces that can be used in games.

28 July, 2014

Other Mapmaking Theories

There are many people who draw maps, especially in RPG circles.

One of the more prominent figures around is Dyson Logos.

He's just posted some great stuff about cartographic methodology over on his blog.

23 July, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Figure Painting (Part 14)

Not a lot of theory today, mostly just an update on where the figures currently stand.

As you can see, I've gone with the local highway patrol car as inspiration for the base with a star indicating the figures forward facing.

The stars are done pretty simply, with a dot of bronze coloured metallic paint...then I cheat. I draw the star over the top with a fine marker pen. When preparing a dozen bases in a similar manner, sometimes a shortcut like this makes the process a bit less tedious. The downside is that you need to spend a bit longer before clear-coating or spray varnishing the marker ink, otherwise it's prone to running.

21 July, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Figure Painting (Part 13)

I've come up with some inspiration for my bases, something to make them more distinctive.

Here's a local highway patrol car from this part of the world...

Since this squad is generally being used as police and peacekeepers, they aren't stealthy in any way. They like to make their presence felt, and if you cross their path, you're probably breaking the law and will feel their wrath.

With that in mind, here's the base scheme...

Building up a sequence of blue checkers on the white. Maybe with the bright orange as a name plate for the officer (we'll see about that one).

Here's a few of the bases together...

At the 'front' of the base, I'll put a gold star. This will designate the facing for those game systems that require the 'front' of the figure to be indicated. At the back, I'll add the officer's name.