30 August, 2014

Mutant Size Discrepancy

I'm really getting stumped on the disparate sizes of potential mutant animals, with characters potentially ranging in size from smaller than mice to larger than elephants, how do we address the issue of characters hitting varying sized characters (and the respective damage their might do)...and when I do this, how do I keep it from getting too crunchy when the rest of the game is predominately narrative in spirit.

At this stage I'm thinking of allocating a limited "size class" mechanism.

Each character has a size class from 0 to 14 (typically), where 7 is a regular human (50-100kg, 1.5m-2m) and every increment basically halves or doubles the weight (and modifies height by about 30%). The whole system is logarithmic.

In this way we can compare the difference between character sizes, and the same effects apply. A size class 3 character facing a size class 6 character (3 levels of difference), works much the same as a size class 6 character facing a size class 9 character, or a size class 10 character facing a size class 13 character (both of these are also 3 levels of difference).

If we use the FUBAR system of combat, three levels of damage neutralise a character (completely removing an unnamed character, or temporarily paralysing a named character), and six levels eliminate a named character from the story completely.

Perhaps a successful hit could score an automatic level of additional damage for every difference in size (or subtract levels of damage if targeting larger opponents).

Perhaps we simply offer the chance of an extra level of damage after a successful hit if a larger attacker rolls a d6 and gets a score less than the difference in "size class". Or they lose a level of damage if a smaller attacker rolls less than the difference.

I'm not sure, it feels a bit messy.

29 August, 2014

Mutant Morality

One of the reasons I love roleplaying games is the ability to get into different headspaces. Forget different races, different cultures are more interesting, different forms of morality that underpin the actions of a character.

This is one of the reasons why I like the Sabbat in Vampire: the Masquerade. They don't bother pretending to be human anymore, so they adopt new methods to transcend their humanity and the beast that gnaws at their soul.

For this reason I'm thinking of including a crude morality system in the mutant game "Other Strangeness", something that mechanically makes players think in a non-human way. These characters aren't human, and many players I've encountered in conventions (and ongoing LARP chronicles) over the years don't really understand the way to get into an inhuman mindset...but mechanical prompts help a bit. Such mechanical prompts may seem a bit forced at times, but they do their job.

I've been trying to think of good methodologies to base morality forms on.

One group might base their morality on the notion that they bear the legacy of ancient Egyptian deities, perhaps desiring to lead cults of human followers.

Another group might follow tenets of 'transhumanism', constantly pushing the envelope of mutation and evolution.

One might consider themselves guardian angels of humanity, eternally separate but fated to help when they can.

Mutant insects might have a hive mentality that rewards working for the common good, but makes independent choices difficult.

How do these forms of morality affect the characters? How do characters with different morality forms interact with one another?

I'm thinking back to the 'pack dynamic' in the Sabbat, where clans give powers, paths define morality, and packs have a quasi-mystical bond. The difference being that in this game, the mutant animal type gives the powers, and this undefined criteria defines morality.

It's just a fragment of an idea at this stage, but maybe something that could be further developed.

28 August, 2014

Getting closer

My post apocalyptic scavenger has been through a few more refinements today, and I think I'm getting closer to something that might be workable.

There will be a bit more tweaking, perhaps playing with proportions a bit to get a more manga/anime vibe. Maybe playing with shading techniques. 

We'll see how things develop.

Post Apocalyptic Storybook Character (Take 2)

The story takes place in the world of "Walkabout". The premise behind this character is a scavenger of non-descript gender who does steretypically "male" things, like rescuing the "macho soldier in distress", it's only at the end of the book that we see this character is in fact female.

So we need the twist at the end not to be pre-empted too much by the shapeliness of the figure...

...the following are some more concept sketches.

It's clear she needs more belts, webbing, storage packs, and other padding to bulk out her frame and cover up the curves for this to work. On the other hand, she needs to be quick, agile, and combat ready in the story.

More sketches to come.

27 August, 2014

Another bit for that side project

Quick question without further context...

What gender is this character?

26 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Geomorphs (Part 14)

This is a combination post, describing how geomorphs might be appropriate to use in the Vulpinoid Studios game "Voidstone Chronicles".

In the 12th part of this series we looked at ways to break a larger hexagon into smaller hexes, and this is basically how I generate quick battle terrain for Voidstone Chronicles. Two or three large hexes are put together, one or two of these might have a hill (either in the middle, at the middle of an edge, or focused on the corner of the hex). This gives us four possible phases ("plain", "left hill", "right hill", or "mid hill"). 

The setting for Voidstone Chronicles is a series of floating discs drifting and orbiting in the eye of a massive storm, and those discs have various sizes. Some small ones might be the equivalent of one large hex across, the majority would be the equivalent of two or three hexes across, and some of the largest might be four or five hexes across. But each battle sequence only covers one to three adjacent hexes. To create the full variety of combat spaces available in the game I include a couple of "edge" hexes, with round sides to show where the floating disc ends (yes, it's possible to push someone off the edge in this game)

In this case, I've moulded up my geomorph hexagons from plaster, and carved a hexagon grid on them. It only takes about six of these moulded hexagons to give the full range of possible terrain variations that might exist in a conflict zone (and about four extra edge pieces just in case a conflict occurs on the edge of a disc.

I could customise the geomorphs with permanently placed trees and buildings, but then I'd probably have to build dozens of discs, and for convenience of storage it's easier to have a low number of discs and an assortment of terrain elements to simply place on them for added interest and strategic value.

25 August, 2014

Let's Try This Patreon Thing

I've set up a Patreon to help earn a bit of extra money and further the cause for mapping work across the internet.

This is basically structured into two levels, digital backers and physical backers, and for the moment will basically focus on sets of geomorphs. I've looked at a few other patreon pages and think that the prices I'm asking are fairly reasonable, but we'll just have to wait and see.

I think this is the link, please let me know if it works.
[EDIT: Thanks for the confirmations, it works.]

I'm hoping that once geomorph sets have been produced for the Patreon, they will then be made available for sale through RPGNow (as digital copies) and The Game Crafter (as physical copies). Those people kind enough to support me through the Patreon will simply gain earlier access to the map fragments and have the chance to determine which maps sets will come next.

24 August, 2014

Impending Geomorph Release

All this talk about geomorphs is no good if the theory isn't put into practice.

This week I'm hoping to release two sets of geomorphs over on the Vulpinoid Studiios RPGNow webstore.

Each will be a three-phase system, and each will have around 30 hexagonal geomorphs. The sets will each comprise an uncoloured set of 30 inked hexes, and a coloured set.

In hyperbolic marketing speak, that's 60 tiles per set.

The first two sets will be:
A general landscape set (with the three phases "open plain", "road", and "forest").
A subterranean set (with the phases "open space", "passageway" and "rock").

I hope they sell well, I've got a few bills to pay at the moment.

23 August, 2014

Just a little something for a side project

A work in progress.

Still needs a lot of work, but might be the start of something.

22 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Geomorphs (Part 13)

Geomorphs don't have to focus on wide sweeps of landscape, they can just as easily be used to model small locations...perhaps the specific confines of an encounter, a dungeon room, an alleyway, a passage with traps.
I was actually asked about this when I first started the series, but I figured that it was necessary to lay some ground rules and background information first.

There was a recent kickstarter where geomorph tiles were offered (I'll provide a link here as soon as I find it). That basically worked with these ideas, but I like a bit more detail in my geomorphs.

This system is basically four-phase "open space", "building", "left wall", and "right wall". Once you decide to add in varying widths of alleyway, you add in two more phases "narrow left wall" and "narrow right wall". In assembly, like the swamp geomorphs indicated earlier, left wall sides can only match up with equivalent right wall sides.

Basically it allows you to lay out modular settings for encounters to take place in, without needing to completely draw up new rooms each time. The set-up could work for square based movement games of the "Heroclix" variety.

Let's add a bit of colour to it.

I like to make sure each of the geomorphs has something interesting or different about it, but not too much. You'll note that in the straight wall sections, one has a sewer lid, one has a fire escape, one has a bit of a puddle draining away...in one of the corners I've added a stairway. For this particular colouring scheme I've made the alleyways seem a bit darker by showing the lighting effects on the ground from open windows. I could do more colouring effects to the rubbish piles and bins, but you get the idea.

From a cluster of a dozen different tiles (2 or three copies of each), you could make hundreds of possible encounter locations, making them all interesting and unique.

20 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Geomorphs (Part 12)

There was something interesting that I noticed about the work of Keith J Davies yesterday.

He divided the edges of the hex into tenths, then drew the isometric grid across it from these points. That's really interesting from the perspective of splitting a hexagonal geomorph into smaller geomorphs or building a larger hex from smaller hexes.

Basically, to do this effectively you need to divide the sides into a number of fragments equal to "one plus a multiple of three" (eg. 1 + 0x3 = 1, 1 + 1x3 = 4, 1 + 2x3 = 7, 1 + 3x3 = 10).

Here's an illustration to show what I mean.

It's not a specific element of geomorph design, it's just something to consider when it comes to scaling geomorphs (whether dividing larger geomorphs into smaller forms or combining smaller geomorphs into larger patterns). The fact that the 10 to 1 ratio makes things easier for those of us using metric is just a bonus.

A Guide to Geomorphs (Part 11)

One of my future posts has been pre-empted by the work of Keith J Davies. It's great to have been an inspiration to someone, and it's good to see things being taken further. I've got a lot of projects on my plate at the moment, so I can't churn out these tutorials as quickly as I might like, but it looks like Keith is generally on the same wavelength as me, especially over a few of the online conversations we've had in recent days.

I was going to leave it a bit further down the track, but I'll start looking at the actual drawing of geomorphs now. We've touched on edge types and phases for geomorph systems, but one of the key things about drawing geomorphs is making sure everything is consistent and lines up when the tiles are placed together.

I try to draw a single sheet of paper with one or more geomorph shapes on it (whether they be square or hexagonal), sometimes the geomorph will fill the page, but more often I try to get a few onto a single sheet. Each of these shapes is then marked with diagonals across the points, and often markings along the edges where roads (or rivers) might lead out of one geomorph and into the next.

With this master sheet, I trace a second sheet (or lightweight paper or tracing film) with the actual geomorphs. This way I know every geomorph will be consistent in its alignment.

Mine are typically hand done (with old school drawing board, set squares, compasses and mechanical pencil), and this can make for some mild inaccuracies. But since I usually draw at twice the reproduced size (and cutting out shapes often has a margin for error), these inaccuracies are negligible.

Keith has been kind enough to generate a few pages, typical of what I would draw up. I'm shamelessly stealing them from him to post here (but certainly giving credit to him). If I hadn't draw up some of my own sheets two nights ago, I'd probably just use these for drawing future geomorphs on.

(Keith's blog can be found here).

19 August, 2014

A Guide to Geomorphs (Part 10)

If two-phase geomorph systems seem a bit constraining, three-phase systems start to seem a bit daunting, and four-phase systems are just a nightmare in complexity waiting to beat your brain into a gibbering heap...what about single phase systems?

If you're thinking to yourself... "Surely you can't have fun with a system of geomorphs where every side is the same?" ...you'd be wrong.

Single phase geomorph systems are arguably the most versatile of all, because it doesn't matter which geomorph edge sits next to which other geomorph edge. No problems with land abruptly meeting sea, no problems with "right banks" being forced to join up with "left banks". They all fit together neatly because they are all the same.

But this means you need to design your complexity within the confines of the single tile.

For example, I developed a goblin labyrinth setting a few years ago. It was comprised of a huge maze spanning continents and mystically plunging into nearby planes. The goblins had lost the ability to keep expanding and the civilisation had collapsed centuries ago. It was a tarot deck, accompanying book, and RPG. The maze dominated the lives of the goblins and shaped their myth.

It would be easy to generate a set of single-phase geomorphs to create fragments of the world in this setting. The world is fairly homogenous in its labyrinthine nature, but incredibly complex at a smaller scale.

Since each geomorph has the same edges, we could use this for a game where spell effects might manipulate the maze. One spell might rotate a geomorph clockwise or widdershins, another spell might swap two geomorphs with each other. Since they all match up, there won't be any cascading effects of complexity.

Another great example of a single-phase system comes from last year's game from Vulpinoid Studios, "Town Guard".

All of the town sectors are on a single geomorph, all of the sectors may be connected to each other because all of their edges are "road" edges. I've toyed with a "pirate" expansion for the game, including so e coastlines for a two-phase system, but the core game has heaps of options with only a single phase.

Other games like "Tsuro" work with single-phase geomorphs too.

18 August, 2014

A Guide to Geomorphs (Part 9)

Some people don't like making their edges separate entities, they don't like placing their map changes in the corners of their geomorphs. For those people, I present a geomorph system like this...

It might be a swamp, like the marshes that Gollum leads Sam and Frodo through after the fellowship of the ring breaks up.

It looks pretty simple, and could probably do with a bit of colour, but it's basically a specialised three-phase system...and there is a degree of trickiness in its execution that you have to be careful of.

Let's say the stippled fragments through the map are rocky outcrops in the swamp. Each of these is self contained within a geomorph. The three edge types of the geomorph system are "open water", "left bank" and "right bank". If we have the described edge at the bottom of the geomorph, the "left bank" has land of the left and water on the right...and the "right bank" has land on the right and water on the left.

Unlike previously described systems where an "open" edge matches an "open" edge, and a "road" edge matches a "road" edge, the catch with this system is that "left banks" can only match up with "right banks" when you assemble the geomorphs into a map. Thus you need roughly equal numbers of "left" and "right" banks otherwise you start to run out of options for assembling the final map.

It's not a huge issue, but something to consider.

If you are making 3D geomorphs for wargame terrain, you might substitute "left bank" and "right bank" for "left hill" and "right hill", the same situation applies.

(Image from Ultimate Table Top Terrain)

(Edit: I've just looked back at the geomorph image for this post and have noticed that it is actually a four phase system. It has edges that are "open water", "open land", "left bank" and "right bank". Also, since I've had some queries regarding the concepts of "left bank" and "right bank", I'll expand these ides and give some better explanations in a later tutorial.)

17 August, 2014

A Guide to Geomorphs (Part 8)

Geomorphs have a great deal of versatility.

Many of the depictions so far have been urban or above ground, but don't let that be a limitation. They can just as easily depict underground caverns and dungeon complexes.

This particular example is a three-phase system. The edge types are "rock", "passageway" and "opening". You could easily get away with developing an underground geomorph system by using only a two-phase system with "rock" and "passageway" edge variants, and there would certainly be a wide variety ofoptions possible with such a system, but I've included the "opening" option because it allows for much larger cavern spaces that extend beyond the borders of a single geomorph (this can be seen most clearly in the bottom of the map where three adjacent tiles have "opening" edges connecting them.

This can be seen a bit clearer when a bit of colour and texture is added to the geomorphs.

In theory with this system you could also develop geomorphs where all six edges are "rock" to designate areas of solid stone without any passages for explorers to pass through, and conversely, you could develop geomorphs where all six edges are "openings" to create much larger cavern spaces.

You may also note with the "cavern" at the bottom, that I've shaded the corners where these three geomorphs meet up. I've done this because you can't be certain whether an "opening" geomorph will contact the edge of a wall (as can be seen in the three border points around this central cavern point), or whether it will simply meet open space. For the purposes of versatility, shading each corner is more useful. 

You can also have fun within the confines of a single geomorph. Consider the geomorph at the bottom left, which has two passageways and an opening, but all three don't necessarily meet up in a continuous path.

A Guide to Geomorphs (Part 7)

A working computer and scanner...that means it is time to get back to work on the geomorph sequence.

A lot of the discussion in this set of tutorials has been focused around square geomorphs. They're the easiest for most people to wrap their heads around.  But my preferred form of geomorph is based around the hexagon, these tend to produce more organic and interesting shapes.

This is true for natural environments, but it's no less true for urban environments.

The example set of geomorphs above as a simple two-phase system. One edge type is plain, the other edge type has a road piercing the centre. There could be dozens of combinations and permutations for each of the two phases around the hexagonal edges, but a quick look at the variety of buildings and road shapes shows that there could literally be hundreds of possible options when drawing these map fragments.

But you certainly don't need to create hundreds of designs for the system to be effective. Using only a dozen different designs repeated, a huge variety of urban environments could be mapped out. Each additional geomorph adds new versatility and a wide variety of options depending on how it is combined with the existing map fragments.


16 August, 2014

A Guide to Geomorphs (Part 6)

This post is testing a theory...I can upload the map with my laptop and type in the text with my iPad.

The general idea here is that you can build complex maps from simple sets of 2-phase geomorphs. All you need are a few geomorphs that link the sets, and a couple of signature hexes to bring out key points of interest. 

Since there has been some strong interest in this series, I'll try to keep the inertia rolling with regular posts (despite the difficulties this poses).

15 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 10)

Thankyou for indulging me in this foray into miniatures and terrain for the past couple of weeks.

The project has basically reached it's conclusion, and here is the final result.

I'm pretty happy with the ways these have turned out.

I could easily spend more time obsessing over finer details, but this stuff is meant for playing with. Finer details make people scared to play with stuff in case they damage it.

Shortly we'll head back to our regularly scheduled programming with a return to the geomorph series.

12 August, 2014

Expanding the Chronicle

My Voidstone Chronicles project is steadily ticking away, a few people have taken an interest in it. But it was always designed to be an expanding world, which would be developed more as time went by. With that in mind I've spent a bit of time adding some new elements to the setting.

The initial release saw five cultures (north, south, east, west and central), and four occupations (adept, disciple, hunter and warrior).

But recent work has seen me develop a few new cultures and next I'll work on a few new occupations.

One of the new cultures is an alternate central group. Where the existing group was comprised of high ranking nobles, this new cultural group ("The Triad of Central Syndicates") is a lower class criminal underworld.

A second culture is a group that players may not start with, but instead a group that may be defected to during the course of play. These are nomadic outcasts on an endless pilgrimage of redemption.

Four additional cultures are being worked on now. Each focused on an element and each bringing something new and diverse into the world. The culture of the "Metal Touched" are basically undead, and characters may end up infected by this group if they are killed by someone who is "Metal Touched". The culture of the "Wood Touched" are immortals infused by the vitality of living energies...characters might end up switching to this group if they are healed by someone who is "Wood Touched". The "Fire Touched" are passionate spiritual beings, I haven't worked out much more about them as a group yet. The "Water Touched" are also still a mystery.

The six impending occupations will blend the four basics, and none will be available to new characters. They are designed to be advanced paths for players to follow with their characters once the basics have been mastered.

These will be added to the Voidstone collection over on RPGNow, automatically updating the set for people who have already purchased a copy. Once the full range of additional cultures and occupations have been added to the collection, the basic cost of the set might see an increase to $6 (rther than the current $5 price tag).

I still really like a lot of the comcepts in Voidstone Chronicles, hopefully it will keep picking up traction.

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 9)

This piece of terrain isn't completely static. It has a few moving parts because I like my projects to have a little bit of something special about them.

Here's a basic sketch about how I made those moving parts work.

...and a couple of photos.

(There have been quite a few photos of the window progress over the course of the tutorial series).

10 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 8)

Using a lot of the painting techniques described during the "Miniature Painting" series, I've applied a bit of colour to the peacekeeper mobile outpost.

Here are a few progress shots.

Just a few more details to add, then we'll be ready to move on to the next project.

07 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 7)

The primer coat has been applied to most of the building, and the shafts representing hydraulic rams have been cut to size.


Now that the primer has been applied, I can see where I really need to apply some extra care to get the right surface finish. The cracks in the corners will need to be filled with something (or maybe they could be highlighted to look like battle damage). 

The two panels at the front are going to be painted before they get glued into the structure, because they'd be a bit tricky to access with a oaint brush once they're inside.

Regarding the hydraulic rams, there are two distinct schools of thought. One states that all surfaces should be primed and painted to ensure consistency of surface finish across the model. These are the kinds of people who often do incredible work with paint shafing to produce "non-metallic metal" effects (look up this technique on Cool-mini-or-not). 

The other school of thought states that you'll never get a better representation of true materials than the original. These crafters use exposed metal or wood where these materials are to be depicted in the model. It may take a bit more effort to weather and fatigue to material in a "realistic manner", and there are quite a few materials which don't scale well (sometimes a thicker woodgrain just looks wrong on a small detailed piece of terrain). Getting the basics may be quick with this technique, but getting it wrong can just look tacky.

I typically follow the second school, but I try to push it from basic, through tacky... and on toward a more realistic representation. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I find new ways not to do things.

06 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 6)

Did I mention that I like textures?

Depth, bumps, things for the brush to catch onto when drybrushing.

I'm starting to think that the peacekeeper outpost is starting to develop a bit of an anime vibe with it's straight lines and rounded corners...not that this is a bad thing.

But it's looking a little too clean and smooth. Perhaps if these things were dropped from orbit, that might be a good thing, but I'm thinking more of the original design when I see these outposts shipped by truck, helicopter and barge. It still needs to be relatively smooth, but can handle a few bits of relief work across its surface.

To do that, I use cardboard.

In this case I draw up a few strips, some rectangles of various sizes, circles and a star for each side of the structure (in keeping with the stars on certain figures and the stars I've drawn on the bases). These are cut out with a sharp knife.

The MDF material is actually very similar to cardboard, but much thicker and bound with a harder glue/resin, so gluing these cardboard components onto the structure. Simple PVA/Wood glue does the trick.

First the pieces are laid into position, then they are glued down one by one. To ensure a good bond, I'll typically place some greased/baking paper on top of the glued pieces then a heavy board or book. This makes sure the card sticks to the appropriate surface with a flush join. 

The long stripshanging over the edge are folded around the structure and glued throughout. I think this gives the whole form a more unified appearance, rather than just looking like flat panels thrown together.

Some components are built up in multiple layers before being applied to the structure.

Here's where the project stands at the moment.

05 August, 2014

The Current Status of Vulpinoid Studios

This is pretty much the entirety of Vulpinoid Studios at the moment.

All of the files, all of the soft copies of game designs, except for those uploaded to this blog or RPGNow, and those that exist as hard copies (whether printed or handwritten).

Time to start the process of rebuilding. Now I just need to find something that can read old laptop hard drives.

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 5)

Well considered and well built terrain helps to tell the story of the world, in much the same way that a well painted figure tells the story of a character within that world.

Take a look at the fogures that this terrain piece is going with...

...they aren't the ornate and baroque forms that you get from a Warhammer 40k Space Marine. They look pretty clean and functional. They've been painted up to avoid blending in. These are visible peacekeepers, agents of the law...once you start getting a feel for the characters you might even say that they are upright, noble warriors, proud of their heritage. But you could just as easily say that they are the visible arm of a tyrannical fascist regime, carefully trained and thoughtfully dressed to make everything look good on the surface while sinister horrors lurk in the regime's shadows. (The 1984 coffee mug in the background is pure coincidence)

The upright freedom loving peacekeepers, and the propaganda driven fascists may have a lot of the same imagery associated with them, but it's in the details where these two stories start to diverge.

As a high tech group with a functional mentality, I'm looking for clean lines on this terrain piece. But I want them to look friendly, so instead of sharp angular corners, I'm sanding all the edges into rounded forms.

This sanding is applied to the windows, the outermost edges of the building, and the new crossbars that I've decided to add to each end. (Why the crossbars? Why didn't they appear in my original design? I'll get back to that later)

I'm also accounting for my poor construction work by over sanding the upright edges. Knowing the tips to help cover mistakes can make construction a lot quicker.

It still looks geometric and modular, but now it looks a bit less imposing.

As for those end bits, I've modified the design slightly because I want to show the hydraulic rams that push the building's second storey upward. I've decided that the absolutely plain rectangular prisms don't have enough interest in them and I want this piece to look like a functional piece of technology.

I've thought long and hard about how to make these hydraulic rams as functional as possible, but the logistics of this was just a little beyond my skills and tools (sometimes it's good to know your limitations and know when to stop).

I'll be using some small hollow metal tubing and a metal rod to simulate the hydraulic rams. Using fourrods to raise second storey when the base is deployed, and simply storing them inside when the game is over and figures are being transported.

03 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 4)

You may be wondering why I've written this.

The simple reason is that once I put all the parts together, this is how well things lined up at the other end of the box assembly.

In my attempt to sand things to the right size, I made some of the components too small, and the actual wall thickness of the material was closer to 5.5mm rather than the advertised 6mm. As a result, I'm about 2mm short on one end. It doesn't make a lot of difference in the grand scheme of things, I can always just sand down the lid to match these components. Luckily this isn't a functional bit of the design that needs close to.erances to work.

02 August, 2014

A Fox's Guide to Terrain Building (Part 3)

At this stage we're still cutting out the shapes for the final piece.

The basic rectangles for the box sides have been cut out, and now it's time for detailing the piece. That means windows, then etching designs into the sides.

Instead of the heavy power tools, this cutting and etching is done with a hand-held rotary tool (my wife spent a decent amount of money on a variable speed Dremel with a huge range of attachments as a birthday present to me a few years ago). I still make sure to label all the pieces, just in case my cutting isn't straight and some windows don't match up with some holes, this means each window shutter will definitely fit, because it is marked to match the hole it was cut from.

Now for some etching, because I like surface detail.

A long way to go, but we're getting there.

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.