Category Archives: General

Get into Tabletop Gaming, Even if You’re Poor

Too poor to play Warhammer 40,000? No cash for Dungeons & Dragons books? I’m going to tell you why money is less of an obstacle than you might think, and why DIY tabletop gaming might do better things for you than paying for official products ever can.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Games Workshop, Wizards of the Coast, and every other tabletop publisher that has ever taken me on a great flight of the imagination. I want you to support them. I’m a game publisher, so I know how important your hard-earned cash is to the industry. But money shouldn’t be the thing that stops you. If you really want to get into roleplaying games, wargaming, or any other tabletop gaming, then there are ways and means that require very little financial investment.

DIYHammer and the Money Paradox

When I was in high school, it wasn’t a problem for me to buy loads of metal minis for my Ork army. It was my parents’ money, really, and I probably didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as I should have. Maybe because I hadn’t earned them myself or because of some fear of not being able to paint them well enough, very few of my minis ever got a lick of paint. In fact, I can only remember ever playing one full game of Warhammer 40K, and it was with another person’s army.

Fast forward twenty years and I’m a freelance writer and editor, making a little extra from RPG sales. There was no money for minis. Any month we didn’t need to cut into our savings was a great month. But I needed a hobby, a space to unwind and think. That’s when I found that my paints hadn’t dried up. I unpacked my old minis and dived back into the fascinating world that had first intrigued me all those years ago. Turns out, I’d stumbled on the cheapest hobby ever.

You’d think that the hobby would start getting expensive as soon as I needed more minis, but I found the opposite to be true. I kitbashed two Ork Deff Dreads, some Runtherds, and a Grot Oiler, all using bits I wasn’t using for anything else. Now I have a Mek Big Gun in the works, lots of bikes, and two Dakka Jets, all in various stages of completion. The more I’ve gotten into the hobby, the more resourceful I’ve become, and the less I’ve spent. The only thing I’ve bought is one box of Gretchin and a few Reaper Bones minis.

Mek-krakka Deff Dread

Okay, yes, I’ve needed to buy the occasional paint, spray can, and lots of superglue, but these costs are low and infrequent. Since getting back into it I’ve only finished one pot of Chaos Black paint.

There have been some interesting benefits from taking the kitbashing approach:

  1. I’ve become more ready to take on DIY projects, including fixing things around the house or building toys for my kids, like a Captain America shield and a PJ Masks HQ toy that I built from PVC pipe.
  2. I look at trash in a whole new way, and more of it gets upcycled instead of being thrown into a landfill somewhere.
  3. My pile of grey plastic is shrinking.
  4. I understand the art of model making much better, so I’m closer to making those custom TMNT figures I always wanted.
  5. I’m more resourceful. If I need a thing, I can probably find a way to make it, substitute something else in, or do without. And this goes far beyond miniatures. I’ve needed a new skateboard for nearly a year now, but I’ve been able to repair and maintain it because of a shift in my mentality.
  6. I have a far greater sense of ownership over my army than I ever had before.

Make Your Own

Brett Novak, who turned skateboarding videos into an art form, said in his TED talk that we romanticise that if we had more money, we’d do all these amazing things, but, in truth, there’s usually a way to do them without the money. As an example, Reiner Knizia, the best-selling board game designer, said that, when he was a kid, he often couldn’t afford the games he wanted to play. He had to make his own. That process must have taught him a lot about game design, and probably has a lot to do with how successful he is today.

So forget about money being the problem. If high prices are keeping you from tabletop gaming and the games that intrigue you, make your own. It’ll teach you a lot and give you a sense of satisfaction that money just can’t buy.


Kitbashing and Scratch Building Bolts — MM 38

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week I prove just how far I’m willing to go to find the perfect kitbashing and scratch building bolts!

Mini Monday Logo

When you kitbash a lot of Ork miniatures, like I do, you get a little obsessed with bolts. My Deff Dread Gundams have them, my Mek Big Gun has them, and most of the Orks I’ve kitbashed have bolts on their weapons or back plates. Even fantasy minis can use a lot of bolts for things like doors, treasure chests, armor, and flesh or iron golems.

So I’ve spent way too much time thinking about kitbashing and scratch building bolts, and here’s what I’ve found. Below are three different methods:

kitbashing and scratch building bolts

Method 1: Plastic Cylinders

The bottom row was made with discs cut from a soft plastic cylinder. This method also works with harder plastics, so look at the sprues you have, since they might have rounded sections that are perfect for making these types of bolts or nail heads.

Pros: Looks like a fat nailhead or a flattened bolt head. The neat, round shape is consistent, even if you cut them at an angle.

Cons: None really, it just takes practice cutting them thin enough.

Method 2: Bread Bag Clips

Bread bag clips are the miracle material. Cut them into thin strips, then cut these into small squares to make rough-looking boltheads, which you can see in the middle row of the image above.

Pros: Cheap and readily available.

Cons: Looks too rough for modern or futuristic applications.

Method 3: The Secret Ingredient

Clothing zip ties. They’re my secret ingredient.

Secret ingredient X
Secret ingredient X

Look closely, and you’ll see all those little bolts just waiting to be cut out and turned into amazing decorations for your next kitbashing project. The top line of our example bolts is made from these, including the loose bolt lying next to them.

Pros: Looks just like the real thing.

Cons: The soft plastic makes them really difficult to cut nicely, and I’ve not managed to do any reasonable amount of sanding on them to perfect the dome shape.

Of the three, method 2 is my go-to for Ork conversions and fantasy kitbashing, while method 1 is great for neater applications. Method 3’s going to be saved for those times I need a higher level of detail, or if I need loose bolts for my Grot Oilers.

How about you, which methods have you used, do you have another trick to teach us, or do you have a question? Pop it in the comments below.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Mad gods bestow cruel trinkets on those who dare ask for a boon. Here are two magical items for Dungeons & Dragons 5e that could easily prove to be both a blessing and a curse to those who dare to use them.

Thank you to Sea of Stars, who’ve inspired this post and are hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival.

The Headhunter’s Coin

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

This silver coin has a skull depicted on one side and a pelvic bone on the other. As an action, you can designate a target creature you can see and flip the coin. Make a flat DC 11 check. If you succeed, your threat range for all attacks you make against the target increase by 2, so a roll of 18, 19, or 20 is a critical hit against the target. A roll of 18 or 19 can still miss, unlike a roll of 20, which is always a hit.
If you fail the flat check, you instead suffer a -2 penalty to your Armor Class.
The bonus or penalty lasts until the target is destroyed or until another creature attunes to the headhunter’s coin.

Cruel Trinkets
Image Credit: BlackDog1966

Deadman’s Hand

Wondrous item, unique

This mummified hand clutches four playing cards; two black aces and two black eights. A creature that handles the item becomes instantly attuned to it, and loses attunement to a random item if no free attunement slots are available.
While you are attuned to the deadman’s hand, you gain no benefit or penalty from it.
If you lose the deadman’s hand or become unattuned to it, you suffer a -2 penalty on death saving throws until you become attuned to the magical item again, or through a remove curse spell.

I hope you enjoyed these cruel trinkets. If you’ve tried them out in your game, let us know how your players got on, in the comments below. Or maybe you have some of your own nefarious magical items to share, then pop those down in the comments too.


Image Credits: darksouls1

Why I Made All the Miniature Pallets — MM34

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week I’m talking about miniature pallets and scatter terrain.

Mini Monday Logo

I found this great miniature pallet tutorial on Terra Genesis before going on holiday. So I took my hobby knife, steel ruler, glue, and enough coffee stirrers and matchsticks to fill a veritable warehouse to the inlaws, then got crafty.

Miniature pallet for tabletop gaming.

But why make so many? Well, I’m glad you asked! (And I’m going to tell you even if you didn’t.)

Scatter Terrain

They make great scatter terrain. Keep a bunch handy to scatter around the table to make your wargame table or RPG map more interesting. I keep a bunch of model train trees for the same purpose.

Other Builds

Use them in other builds. I could add barrels and boxes onto a few, or stick the miniature pallets onto piles of rubble. They’re so versatile that you’ll easily blast through a pile of them if you regularly build terrain. It’s a little extra detail for very little extra effort.

Weirdly Modular

Stack them into towers of pallets to hide miniatures behind, build walls with them, or make bridges. If you think about all the uses people find for life-sized pallets in real life, then it’s easy to see that the possibilities for using these are endless. Because of their uniformity, this can be taken to a whole other level, just by using matchsticks between the slats to join two pallets together.

And that’s it. A slightly weird one today, I know, but I wanted to point you to Terrain Genesis’s great article and hopefully inspire you with a super easy terrain project. I hope you enjoyed it.

Our Plans for 2021

So, what’s on the cards for 2021?

I’ve got way too many terrain projects on the go, which are sure to feature here. I’ll also be putting more work into my Angels Encarmine and Goff Orks, which will feature too. Those are all a given, barring anything major that life might throw in the works (touches wood vigorously).

I’ll probably focus on getting more fantasy minis painted, drawing heavily from the minis that came in the Dungeons & Dragons Legend of Drizzt Board Game and the Dungeons & Dragons Castle Ravenloft Board Game.  That first one is 10 years old this year, but both games contain a good range of monsters that most fantasy players will want to have, even if they buy miniature incarnations of them from a different manufacturer.

So expect to see new posts, from me, every second Monday.

Have a great 2021 and I hope you build and paint awesome creations!


Happy New Year from Rising Phoenix Games

Happy New Year from all of us here at Rising Phoenix Games. We hope 2021 is a fantastic year for you and your loved ones.

New Year's Message from Rising Phoenix Games

Keep safe and have an awesome 2021.

We’ll be back from the 11th, so see you then.

Don’t forget that our solo sale is still going on at Drive Thru RPG until the 11th too, and that you can find last month’s RPG Blog Carnival roundup, right here.



When the Bad Guys Win – Blog Carnival Roundup

This December, at the end of a year that’ll stand in infamy among years, we looked at “When the Bad Guys Win“. Here’s a roundup of all the articles submitted as part of the carnival, and what a carnival it was!

Image credit: Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

When the Bad Guys Win

Tom Homer of Plastic Polyhedra — the hosts of January 2021’s RPG Blog Carnival — asked (When) is it okay to TPK? He looks at some of the pitfalls of common solutions for rescuing a campaign from a TPK and suggests that TPKs might be unavoidable, but can have negative consequences. Understanding this is an important part of being a great GM.

I want to build stories around the PCs, so what happens if all of those PCs suddenly die?
— Tom of Plastic Polyhedra

Steve Rakner of Roll 4 Network wrote about creating the ultimate boss battle. Steve brings more ways to up the ante in a boss fight, all of which have little to do with power levels or adding buckets of HP to the boss. Follow his advice and your players are sure to remember the Big Bads of your table for years to come.

Gonz at Codex Anathema wrote about The Darkest Hour — how to deal with a Total Party Kill (TPK). There’s life for your campaign after death, and Gonz reveals how you can go from a TPK to a memorable campaign that builds on the legacy of characters that have come before.

Image credit: Yuri_b

Tony Bro001 at Roleplay-Geek posted about the bad guys winning, and looks at it in terms of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. He also looked at a number of well-known movies and stories to highlight the importance of beating down the heroes, and how an NPC can be a useful proxy for the PCs.

Timothy S. Brannan of The Other Side made Skylla, a 7th level witch for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Pathfinder 1e fans will find a link to her stats for that version of the game, in the post.

Here, at Rising Phoenix Games, I talked about upping the stakes for memorable encounters in When the Bad Guys Beat Christmas. Similar to Steve, we looked at ways you can put the pressure on the player characters to create encounters that they’re invested in.

And that, as they say, is a wrap!

Thank you to everyone who took part, as well as to Scot Newbury of Of Dice and Dragons, who herds cats to keep the RPG Blog Carnival alive and growing. If you’re an RPG blogger, do consider joining us on our adventures.

Rising Phoenix Games is 10!

The last day of the year marks the anniversary of the founding of Rising Phoenix Games. We’re looking forward to bringing you more exciting games in 2021!

Happy 10th Birthday Rising Phoenix

Have a Happy New Year and stay safe everyone!


Plan to Win with a Painting Plan — MM33

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’ll look at what a painting plan can do for your next painting project.

Mini Monday Logo

I feel like I’ve come a long way since I painted my first Adeptus Astartes some 20 years ago, but I also feel like I’m just scratching the surface of what we might call the basics of miniature painting.

For the Emprah! My first Space Marine.

Below are some of the Space Marines I’ve painted since my very first. While painting the ones on the left I learned about varnish, brush selection, dry brushing, edge highlighting, and making my own transfers. And that’s on top of learning better brush control. Now we’re going to talk about something that will improve your painting, save you time, and help you assimilate everything you’ve ever learned about model painting: writing up a painting plan.

Get Organised with a Painting Plan

Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as saying “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Drawing up a plan puts this wisdom into practice. A plan sets out your paint scheme for a mini, while breaking it down into steps. It can also guide you when batch-paint many models at once, so that you can have a table-ready army in less time than it would take to paint each miniature individually.

My plan for my Angels Encarmine has evolved with each model I’ve painted so far, and now looks something like this:

  1. Clean mould lines.
  2. Glue fine beach sand onto the base.
  3. White base coat, with a spray can.
  4. Red coat, with a spray can.
  5. Black parts.
  6. Balor Brown (was Snakebite Leather) on base and scrolls.
  7. Skin tones.
  8. Hair.
  9. Red touchup.
  10. Silver dry brushing.
  11. Edge highlight grey on black.
  12. Dry brush skin tone over the top of the base.
  13. Flesh wash on red and skin.
  14. Freehand company and squad markings.
  15. Add transfer for chapter markings.
  16. Glue on dry tea or flock.
  17. Glue on banners.
  18. Final touch-ups.
  19. First coat of matt varnish.
  20. Second coat of matt varnish.
  21. Do the dance of joy.

I have a painting plan for my Orks, Genestealer Cults, and for fantasy races like drow. But you don’t need to follow the plan step-for-step every time. The plan’s more like a set of guidelines, and breaking the rules is often a great way to improve your plan.

Guidelines GIFs | Tenor

Do you use a painting plan, or do you like to do it off the cuff? Let us know in the comments!

Christmas at Aurora’s

Christmas is almost here, and Aurora has a whole emporium full of goodies for your Dungeons & Dragons 5e party.

You can find Aurora’s Whole Realms Christmas Catalogue on the DMs Guild.

Aurora's Whole Realms Christmas Catalogue

Aurora's Whole Realms Christmas Barbarian Gifts

Until next year, keep improving!


RPG Cyber Sale — Get 20% Off Supplements

From now until Friday you can get 20% off great RPG games and supplements in our RPG Cyber Sale! Just use the coupon code “CyberSale2020” on the Rising Phoenix Games Store.

RPG Cyber Sale

Aurora’s RPG Cyber Sale

It’s Cyber Sale week at Aurora’s Whole Realms Emporium, and Aurora has a massive collection of gear on sale now, perfect for your Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition adventures.

Auroras Emporium of EverythingAurora’s items are purpose-built to add flavor — without complex, campaign breaking rules — to your campaign. You won’t find earth-shattering magical items or expensive gear, only goods inspired by the Forgotten Realms, the practical needs of adventurers, and a world of imagination. The bundle also includes the Manual of Masks and Undersea Sourcebook: Feats & Equipment, so you’ll be well equipped for any adventure.

 

Aurora’s Christmas

Christmas is coming, but what do you get the barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard in your life?

Never fear, Aurora’s Whole Realms Christmas Catalogue is here!

Aurora's Whole Realms Christmas CatalogueThe catalogue contains loads of gift ideas for each of the core classes from the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, as well as more ideas for celebrating this special holiday in character, such as Christmas treats, scented candles, confectionaries, and even magical stockings.

Here’s a peek inside:

Aurora's Whole Realms Christmas Barbarian Gifts

Aurora’s Legacy

Aurora’s Whole Realms Emporium has a legacy extending way back to AD&D. You can read more about the history of Aurora’s Emporium and our part in extending the legacy here, on the blog.

RPG Blog Carnival

RPG Blog Carnival kicks off tomorrow, right here on the Rising Phoenix Games Blog. Our theme for December is “When the Bad Guys Win.” Be sure to tune in for loads of interesting articles from RPG bloggers from around the world.

Have a happy holiday season everyone!

When the Bad Guys Win — RPG Blog Carnival

Great trials. Horrific encounters. Epic adventures. Glittering prizes. Victory. These are all a part of being a hero in the fantasy worlds we explore in our games. But what happens when the bad guys win?

Image credit: Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

RPG Blog Carnival

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is all about “When the Bad Guys Win.” We’ll be putting links in the comments below that cover the topic in all sorts of ways, so be sure to check back here often. At the end of the month we’ll compile all the articles into a list, so keep an eye out for that too.

when the bad guys win — rpg blog carnival logo

The RPG Blog Carnival is a virtual, traveling, monthly event that moves from blog to blog, covering interesting topics related to our wonderful hobby of tabletop roleplaying games. It’s a great way to see what many talented RPG bloggers are up to, get some ideas, and expand your horizons. Enjoy!

Calling All Bloggers

If you’re a blogger, why not join us?

Write a post on this month’s topic, then post a link to the article in the comments below. How you interpret this month’s topic is up to you, but here are some ideas:

  1. Talk about running a game where each member of the party is a dastardly villain.
  2. Give us ideas for cunning, recurring NPC enemies.
  3. Stat up some diabolical monsters.
  4. A fiction piece where the heroes lose the fight.
  5. Paint up some diabolical enemies and share your tips.
  6. Teach us how to roleplay a great villain.
  7. Throw some ideas at us for dealing with character death.
  8. Devise some cunning traps.
  9. Share some great sources featuring villains.
  10. Check out the RPG Blog Carnival Archive for even more ideas.

Be sure to check out what others are writing about and keep boosting the signal as we head into 2021.

 


Ork Weirdboy Kitbash — MM 29

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’ve got an Ork Weirdboy kitbash.

Mini Monday Logo

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the current Ork Weirdboy from Games Workshop. It’s because of the chains and the weird poses, but anyway. I also love kitbashing, so I took the chance to add a little spice to my army. Happy #Orktober everyone!

Orktober on Rising Phoenix Games

Parts

For this kitbash I used the Orc Hunter from Reaper’s Bones range, a bit of wire, and bits from the Gretchin box from Games Workshop.

Orc Hunter from Reaper Bones

I love the stabby pose, though the spear is ridiculously flexible.

Body Work

I chopped off the spear and drilled through his hands to accommodate the wire. I then added some plastic tubing to attach the shock prod.

I used modelling epoxy to replace his neck after hacking off the little orc head. Onto the new neck I stuck the head at a cocked angle to make him look more menacing.

Since he looked like a Runtherd anyway, I stuck the whip from the Gretchin kit onto his belt at the back, so now he can fill two roles in my army. Maybe hanging around with all those grots made him really weird.

Lastly, I attached him to a 40mm base and this Ork Weirdboy kitbash was done.

Ork Weirdboy Kitbash

Nightscape: Red Terrors is in Print

Nightscape: Red Terrors, the game of cosmic horror set in post-Soviet Russia, is now in print through Drive-Thru RPG.

Nightscape: Red Terrors RPG CoverIn the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian government decommissioned several publicly hidden research facilities devoted to ‘arcane science,’ chief among them, PERM Laboratory 37. Recently, due to several strange energy emissions, the location of the PERM 37 facility has been discovered by various parties with an interest in the lab’s inventory of eldritch artifacts.

You’re an agent of one of these factions on your way through driving sleet to the facility. Dusk is falling as you pass through the broken security gate…

 

Later!