Miniature Japanese Torii – Mini Monday, Ep 1

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kit bashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you how to build a miniature Japanese torii gate for Steampunk Musha, Legend of the Five Rings, or similar East Asian inspired settings.

Here she is, folks. This miniature Japanese torii can easily accommodate most Large sized D&D or Pathfinder figures in the center.

Miniature Japanese Torii
The base is 2 x 4 inches: perfect for using on a grid map.

Steampunk Musha – Shangti Factory Hub

This project is the first part of my Steampunk Musha terrain project that will consist of several factory pieces set in the mega city of Shangti. Since it’s steampunk, I figure this set will work well for both my Warhammer 40k games and for fantasy gaming, so this is a “two birds with one stone” type of deal.

The torii gate we’re making today is highly customizable, but is perfect for a Japanese themed game. You could use a similar technique to make gallows or other structures featuring a prominent wooden frame.



Getting Started

You’ll need balsa wood for this, but popsicle sticks will work well too. A sharp hobby knife, wood glue, and sandpaper will do all the heavy lifting, then you can paint and varnish the gate as you see fit when it’s done. I used hardboard for the base.

Prep

Make a paper template for the top piece of the gate (the kasagi and shimaki). Cut 3 of these. Cut 1 long crossbar (nuki), and 6 poles (to make the hashira). We’ll add more bits later, so keep any extra wood aside.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Torii Frame

Place 1 top section on top of 2 pillars. There’s no need to glue it yet, but you can if you like.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Glue the crossbar onto the pillars, with a small space between it and the top piece.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Connecting Things

Score lines on 2 more pillars under the crossbar, like so:

Miniature Japanese Torii

Then cut along the scored lines.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Glue the longer sections of pillar below the crossbar. Glue the short sections of the pillar over the top section. This forms the very center of your Japanese torii gate.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Don’t worry too much if the glue is causing all the pieces to float around. When you’re done you can move everything nicely into place, and sanding will clean it all up when we’re done.

Bulking Up the Top

Score lines to match the location of the pillars onto the second top piece.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Glue the pieces of the second top piece onto the first top piece. In the end, this gives the model more strength and bulk.

Miniature Japanese Torii

Finishing Up your Miniature Japanese Torii

Now glue on the last of the pillars and top piece. If your glue is still wet at this stage you can move things around, then put a heavy book on the gate and let it dry.  Miniature Japanese Torii

Next, add a small down piece between the top and the crossbar. Then cut 2 identical pieces to form the very top section of the tori. These will look like slightly curved french fries.

When it’s dry, use your hobby knife to make everything flush along the edges, then sand the model. An emery board (used for fingernails) works very well for this.

Miniature Japanese Torii
There are 25 ninjas hidden in this image. Really!

I base coated my model white, then painted the whole thing red. I washed it with a purple wash to pick up the natural wood texture of the balsa wood, and to age the model a bit.

For the base, I used hardwood covered in two grades of sand, the finest for the path. I painted and dry brushed this before adding flock. I varnished everything when I was done, because I like harder wearing gaming pieces.

Pro Tip: Suppliers of Shinto religious goods will often have miniature Japanese torii for sale. Personally, I prefer to make my own.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Free Swag and a Choose Your Destiny Play Test

Har har har, me hearties! We’ve got free swag for you. All you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter or back us on Patreon and you’ll get a free copy of Lunatic Labyrinth by next week Friday.

Lunatic Labyrinth Updated - Free Swag

Join Our Playtest

Right now, our Flaming Backers are enjoying a first look at our next Choose Your Destiny adventure called Companionable Darkness. If you back us now there’s still time for you to join in and try out the game before anyone else.

In the Works

Besides the next Choose Your Destiny book, we’re working on the next Aurora’s Catalogue, Nightscape: Red Terrors, and have a new Pathfinder adventure in layout. I’m also dabbling away at a solitaire wargame, which I hope to tell you about soon.

Our biggest project is the ocean-themed book we’re doing for the DMG, which I’ll dive into writing for again next week (and yes, I love puns). The book is already well over 10,000 words and covers a lot of ground.

Have an awesome 2019!

Arr, This Blog Be Ours Now!!!

Avast, me hearties!

This here blog now belongs to us, to do with as our black heart’s desire! You might say, we’ve commandeered it — it’s a nautical term.

Walking the Plank: originally published in Pyle, Howard (August–September 1887). “Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main”. Harper’s Magazine. (We may be pirates, but credit where credit is due.)

The Captain’s Blog Log

Look here, matie, we’ve scrounged below deck and hauled up the captain’s log. 2018 was a good year for this blog, I say:

Blog stats - 2018

But now things will be different, just you wait and see. Hoist the Jolly Roger and join our crew (or walk the plank).

Update: Oi, what’s this mutiny?! We found this message in a bottle, dropped by those scurvy dogs we left adrift at sea!

– Two Finger’s Megee

Summer Christmas Adventures

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is, like in the Northern Hemisphere, a time of family, relaxation, and lots of food. The Oliphant in the room is the very European aesthetic to the celebrations we have here. Mistletoe, snowflakes, skiing Christmas decorations, and snowmen — even though we’re spending our December by the pool. So, if you’re sick of winter, you’ve had it with snowflakes, or you’re enjoying summer in your corner of the world too, here’s our guide to summer Christmas adventures — a mishmash of adventure seeds in the sun and surf for your RPG campaign.

Summer Christmas Adventures
Image credit: Frank Mckenna

Sun & Surf Adventure Seeds

  • A sand elemental is terrorizing the coastline. The locals have dubbed the creature “Sandy Claws.”
  • A selkie druid in human guise seeks help rescuing her cubs from a sahuagin hunting party, deep below the waves.
  • An ancient bronze dragon brings toys and gifts to the local children every summer solstice. The gnomes that usually help him make the toys have run into a problem…
  • A ship disappeared from port during the night, along with its crew. In its place is a strange island of sand. Some say it was the curse of a genie.
  • A whale swallows the adventurers after capsizing their boat.
  • The legendary ningyo has been sighted by pearl divers off the coast. Capturing one of these creatures could bring a handsome reward.
  • An ominous statue is discovered during an unusually low tide. News of the discovery spreads quickly, and nefarious forces are moving to acquire it.
  • A mysterious spell is slowly turning the surface of the sea to glass.
  • An island appears off the coast. When explored, it’s found to be a forgotten temple on the back of an enormous sea turtle.
  • The rising tide brings unusual creatures onto the land.
  • The adventurer’s ship is captured by pirates and burned. The PCs are given a choice: join the pirate crew or walk the plank.
  • An ancient city rises from the ocean.
  • The party discovers a tunnel that leads deep beneath Waterdeep. In a water-filled chamber, they find a massive clockwork crab lying in its berth. Portholes and a hatch indicate something of its intended purpose.
  • A sailor reports having seen a giant undead whale.
  • A coastal town floods during the night. In the morning, the citizens discover that the graves of the town have been emptied.
  • The PCs discover an open portal in the ocean, which draws water through. The portal brings the water to a thriving desert city, but endangers ocean inhabitants.
  • An underwater ritual opens a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water, through which a giant sea monster passes to terrorize the Mortal Realm.

More Summer Christmas Adventures

Looking for more summer goodies? Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue has a vast collection of thematic items that will add flavor to your Dungeons & Dragons game, without breaking it.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

RPG Christmas Stocking Fillers

Ho, (and a ho, ho, ho), Adventurer!

We’ve got four Christmas stocking fillers for the players and GM in your life this festive season.

Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue

For D&D fifth edition, Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue is a fresh take on Aurora’s Emporium, which some of you might remember from AD&D. The book’s 50 pages include loads of interesting, flavourful, summer-themed items that won’t break your game. And yes, we know it’s probably winter where you are, but here in Africa we’re melting.

Christmas stocking fillers

Griffins – A Field Guide (D&D)

We’ve also got Griffins – A Field Guide, which offers 6 subspecies of griffin, a new paladin archetype, and rules for griffin animal companions and familiars. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout and would make a stunning player aid for a party of griffin riders. The book is $2 off until Christmas.

Christmas stocking fillers

Tentacles of the Deep

Tentacles of the Deep is a PWYW title with statistics for tentacles that act as individual monsters but are connected to a larger creature deep below the ocean’s surface. Grab it free, and if you like it, you can always leave a tip in the tip jar, or a review.

Christmas stocking fillers

Steampunk Musha: Races of Rosuto-Shima

Lastly, for Pathfinder this time, and not from us but from our friends at Fat Goblin Games, is Steampunk Musha: The Races of Rosuto-Shima. The book introduces several East Asian inspired races, such as the tanuki, pandajin, jinteki oni, and kappa, as well as steampunk inspired races such as the clockwork ronin.

Christmas stocking fillers

These Christmas stocking fillers are a great way to show your appreciation for a year of great gaming.

We’ll be back next week with more exciting content, but if we miss you, have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Welcome to Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue

Greeting, adventurer. Let me introduce Kim Frandsen, a game designer I’ve worked with on a number of projects before. We recently collaborated on the Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue, which he’s here to tell you a little more about.

This will likely be a bit of me gushing, so bear with me.

Back in the heady days of AD&D, a younger version of Kim was introduced to a number of fantastic worlds: Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, and more.

For some reason, the Forgotten Realms always stuck with me. It had a depth unmatched by any other setting. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t necessarily better, but it had a depth that the others simply couldn’t match. Even just in the world of Abeir-Toril, you had a number of other settings: Al-Qadim, Maztica, Forgotten Realms, Kara-Tur, and the Hordelands. But the central Forgotten Realm, Faerûn, stuck with me.

This was a world where you could dive into almost unimaginable detail: Volo’s Guides, Faiths & Pantheons, the Forgotten Realm’s Player’s Guide, and then there was this “little” tome called Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue.

Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue

The Catalogue was like opening a box of toys for me. It contained bits and pieces I’d never even thought of, but which belonged perfectly within a fantasy world, or even a realistic medieval one. All this was offered to you by Aurora, an adventuress who sold these things from her shop, Aurora’s Emporium, in Westgate. Using teleportation and magic, this high-level (16) adventurer would collect bits and pieces from all over this fantastical realm.

And here I was, with my greedy little fingers, paging through the book, like someone paging through a book at a store. (In hindsight, it actually reminds me a bit of what they’ve done with the shops in Red Dead Redemption 2). I was itching to get my hands on these items.

This wasn’t the power-hungry munchkin player in me that got so attracted by these. This was something that allowed me to see the world of the Forgotten Realms as a living, breathing place, where ordinary people could experience extraordinary things, just by entering a shop. How could I not get hooked?

Fast forward 24 years and here we are. Along with Ishmael Alvarez, Troy E. Daniels, and Rodney Sloan, I finally get to release my homage to this book that, in my youth, captured my imagination. I hope, dear reader, that this humble offering of ours, will do the same to you and your imagination. But for now, let me invite you inside Aurora’s Emporium. As Aurora would say: “Welcome, dear customer. How may I serve you today?”

Aurora's Whole Realms Summer CatalogueYou can find the 50 page Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue on the DMs Guild.

Kim Frandsen

37 years old, and a gamer since I was 13. These days I freelance as a writer for various companies (currently Fat Goblin Games, Flaming Crab Games, Outland Entertainment, Paizo, Raging Swan Games, Rusted Iron Games, and Zenith Games) as well as editing the Pathfinder and D&D 5th edition lines for D20PFSRD Publishing. I’ve dipped my hands into all sorts of games, but my current “go-to” games are Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics and SLA Industries. Unfortunately, while wargaming used to be a big hobby, with wife, dog and daughter came less time.

NPC Meme Brings RPGs and Real Life Together

I love the Internet. In many ways, the Internet has made my work possible. But it has also brought a level of anonymity that shelters people from repercussions for the things they say and do. Often, the Internet provides an excuse for people to be rude. A good example of this is the NPC meme. This post is going to be a rant, but let’s face it, humanity can always use a swift kick in the backside from time to time.

NPC meme
Source: Rawpixel

NPC (meme) named after non-player characters in roleplaying games, the term is used to label someone as a person who does not. or is incapable of, thinking for themselves.

You might have heard of the NPC meme, where people label others as NPCs: bit players in this game we call life. It’s another example of RPG’s influence on our lives, but it’s also a cheap blow that dehumanizes others. Stange word that, “dehumanizes.” How conscious are we, really, about the feelings of others on the net? It’s so easy to break others down, why don’t we put more effort into raising others up — especially in a global village like the web?

But okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about games.

Griffins for Fifth Edition Fantasy

Griffins – A Field Guide was one of the first books Bob Greyvenstein and I did together. Now, with Ismael Alvarez, we’ve updated the book for fifth edition fantasy. Yip, that means you can use the griffins detailed in this book in your Dungeons & Dragons games.

The book is beautifully illustrated and contains 6 new griffin subspecies, a new paladin archetype, and rules for griffin familiars and griffin animal companions. It’s a great addition to your collection, no matter if you’re a player or a GM.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

 

 

 

Tentacles of the Deep – An Undersea Monster

What do Cthulhu, an octopus, and many politicians have in common? Tentacles! That’s right, tentacles!

As roleplayers, we kind of love tentacles, don’t we. Evard’s black tentacles, Day of the Tentacle, mind flayer chins, and the Japanese porn industry – tentacles have dipped their slimy appendages into every part of geek culture.

Today, I’ll share a new monster I’m working on that’s 100% tentacle, and tell you how you can join in and playtest it at your table.

Tentacle Miniatures - Hand Made Monsters
Tentacle Miniatures. Easy handmade monsters.

The above tentacles are based off the Watcher in the Water from The Lord of the Rings movie, and the miniature Games Workshop made of it. They were relatively cheap and easy to make, too.

In most cases, the adventurers are fighting against whole monsters, but what if you wanted to only pit them against a giant’s hand, or a dragon’s claw, or the tentacles of a creature hidden deep below the waves?

That’s where the tentacle of the deep comes in. First, I’ll talk about the miniatures, then I’ll show you where to go to find the stats.

Making Tentacles

I made my tentacles with wire and modeling clay. You could probably use Green Stuff, but anything that won’t go brittle when it cures is fine. For the water effects, I used clear silicone, then painted the tips of the waves white. Lukes APS has an excellent tutorial on water effects that’s well worth checking out for this kind of project, and his silicone idea worked a treat.

I painted the miniature dark green, and used a mixture of Citadel’s Bronzed Flesh and Goblin Green on the underside. Paint the base black, because it really adds depth once the silicone is added to the top. When I was all done I used a gloss varnish to give the tentacles a wet look.

D&D Stats for Your Tentacles

We’ve published the stats for these tentacles, free, on the DMs Guild. Grab your copy here.

Tentacles of the Deep

If you like the monster, let us know or drop a tip in the tip jar. If you’ve got creative feedback, we’d love to hear from you too.

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

This Black Friday we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG. This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Looking for some unique gaming gift ideas? Check out our Black Friday Buyer’s Guide.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

The Quick Win – Leveraging Goals for the Big Win

I’m a big believer in the quick win.

Especially when it comes to hobby gaming.

The Quick Win
Photo credit: Andre Hunter.

Quick wins, as the name suggests, are small projects that don’t take much time, or effort. The miniature you paint in an hour, the terrain you bang out in 3 hours, or the monster stat block you write in 5 minutes all fall into this category.

Why the Quick Win?

Getting things done is very motivating. My recent post about painting RPG miniatures gets into that more. The reverse is also true though, that having too much on your plate can turn you off of your hobby quicker than a quickling in hyperdrive.

It’s also great having something to show for your efforts, and with a string of quick wins you can easily build up to a much larger goal. It’s a lot like how I write now. My current RPG book — teasers here, here, and here — is being written in 2-hour bursts. In each session, I aim to finish one section of the book. Sometimes I’ll get 2-3 monsters done, sometimes it’s most of a background, but every session that I finish something is another thing off the checklist.

How’s this different from how I used to write? Before, I didn’t break down my tasks much, so in 2 hours I often worked on a bunch of sections, got demotivated, and lost my concentration. That kind of thing can lead to burnout. In other words, I’m talking about the tortoise’s approach to winning the race: slow and steady, and about breaking down that race into milestones. Each milestone is a victory in and of itself.

Life also takes up much of our hobby time, so when we have time, we need to use it wisely.

Your Next Quick Win

I’ll leave you with this thought. What small hobby project would give you the most satisfaction. Is it drawing that dungeon map you’ve been planning? Making a handout? Stating up an NPC? Or do you just need to run a short session over Google Hangouts to get everyone ready for a longer session?

Plan it. Do it. Celebrate your quick win.

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

This Black Friday we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG.  This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Looking for some unique gaming gift ideas? D20Radio.com has some excellent gamer gift ideas worth checking out.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Black Friday – 2018 Buyer’s Guide

Right now, all our books are 33% Off, but wait, because this Black Friday (and maybe earlier) we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG. This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Black Friday

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

Here are my top 5 recommendations, based on sales and customer feedback, as well as my own (totally biased) opinion:

5. Mecha – A Field Guide

This has 2.5 stars out of a possible 5, making it our worst rating, for any product, ever. Still, if you read the reviews objectively, you’ll notice that nobody’s complaining about the rules, which are water tight. The book might not show you how to design your own mecha, but attentive readers will be able to reverse engineer the system and create anything they want, using the core Starfinder Roleplaying Game rules.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

4. How to Plan a Murder

How to Plan a Murder CoverWhat’s a little murder between friends? A lot of fun, it turns out.
The game’s rules are so intuitive that you might be tempted to think the game is overly simple. In fact, the game’s streamlined for an evening’s dinner party with friends, and makes intrigue an integral part of the experience. We think you’ll find that How to Plan a Murder has something special that most murder mystery dinner games lack. Check it out.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

3. Phoenixes – A Field Guide

This book is so beautifully illustrated that it’s worth grabbing, just for the pretty pictures. The art is by Bob Greyvenstein, who does most of our illustration and layout work, and this book contains many of my favorites of his art. It takes real talent to draw birds well, and Bob pulls it off with apparent effortlessness.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

2. Death Queen and the Life Stone

Death QueenOur Choose Your Destiny line of solo 5e adventures is steadily growing, but it all starts with this, the first adventure in the series. The second book, Forest of Secrets, is also on sale.

The books contain rules for extending the game, as well as player boons and class archetypes, so they’re valuble resources for GMs too.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

1. Welcome to Scarthey

This brings us to my top recommendation for Black Friday, 2018. Scarthey, the University of the Arcane, is your guide to adventures in a wizard’s university, complete with map, location guide, introductions to the main faculty members, houses, the surrounding town of Scartheyton, history, activities, and sports. You can set your whole campaign within the grounds of the university, or drop it straight into your campaign. Our Choose Your Destiny adventures are set in Scarthey and its surrounds, making Welcome to Scarthey an invaluble part of the collection.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

Enjoy your Black Friday shopping!

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Make Good Games