Tag Archives: Dungeons & Dragons

Toys as Minis, a Boost for Your Table — MM 39

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 going to tell you why you should use more toys as minis.

Mini Monday Logo

I figure that tabletop gamers fall into two groups; those who supplement their mini collection with toys, and those who hate the idea. If you’re in that second camp, it’s probably because you think that toys just don’t look right on the gaming table. I was one of the haters too, but I changed my mind. Here’s why!

Toys as Minis
Most of these are from Japan, but I found the bear locally.

Hidden Treasures

There’s a lot of junk out there, but search hard enough, and you just might find the perfect additions to your collection. I found that toys from Japan can be particularly good, and tend to be on the smaller side, but keeping an eye on your local cheap or second-hand toy shop will pay off eventually, especially if you’re in a biggish city.

Lots of folks online have shown off their dollar store hauls, so that’s an awesome option if you have cheap shops like that in your area. You’re most likely to find animals and mythical creatures such as dragons, but you never know what might turn up.

Two other great sources for toys for minis are your own toy collection and second-hand sales. Such sources usually have a varied collection of toys to choose from, are dirt cheap, and might surprise you with what you’ll find.

Kitbashing and Converting

If you’re ready to do some converting and kitbashing, then toys offer a veritable gold mine of options. Some hobbyists on YouTube recently did a toy monster mashup, go search it out if you’re looking for more inspiration.

Price

With some exceptions, toys are generally a lot cheaper than specifically-produced miniatures, and printing takes time. It’ll take time to find the right toys, but you can usually search while looking out for other things.

The Buying Strategy

Patience and a will to shop around are the keys to success if you’re going to use toys as minis. Buying a couple of odd-looking horses because you need horses for Friday’s game might be fine, but you’ll quickly collect a lot of ugly minis that way.

Rather, keep a list of what you want minis for and play the long game, buying only the best of the best.

Toy Traps to Avoid

Avoid buying online, unless you can find a good size comparison for the toy. Also, avoid cheap-looking plastic, as this can become brittle over time and break easily. Thin plastic is usually the biggest clue, but strange colour changes in the plastic can also give you a hint that the toy will be more hassle than it’s worth in the long run.

I hope this inspires you to start adding some toys to your mini collection. If you have more collecting tips to share, then throw them in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

A Death in Spring — New Releases from RPG

It’s been a busy month at Rising Phoenix Games HQ, and we’ve got a bunch of new releases and special offers to tell you about.

Hello, My Name is Death

Our new, poker-based tabletop RPG, Hello, My Name is Death is on sale at an introductory price of $1! Outdo your friends, reap souls, and become the next #OffiialGrimReaper.

Hello, My Name is Death is a poker-based roleplaying game that uses betting for souls to influence the ultimate demise of hapless humans. Collect souls, outdo your peers, and become the next official Grim Reaper.

In Hello, My Name is Death you play immortal beings interfering in the lives of oblivious mortals. Plan, scheme, interfere in your friend’s machinations, and collaboratively create truly bizarre circumstances leading to the spectacular death of your selected victim.

What’s Inside:

  1. A device-friendly PDF
  2. A PDF for zine printing on white paper
  3. A PDF for zine printing on colored paper
  4. A printable PDF counter sheet

You can find Hello, My Name is Death on Drive Thru RPG. Get it while our introductory offer lasts.

Aurora’s Spring Catalogue is Here!

Can you feel it in the air? The crispness? The energy? The bounce in your step? It’s spring in Faerûn, and that means it’s time for another of our great sales, featuring all the things you need for the season of rebirth.

That’s right, Aurora’s Whole Realms Spring Catalogue is here!

Aurora's Whole Realms Spring Catalogue

Get ready for the changing of the seasons in Faerûn with 20% off this title if you buy it before the end of the weekend.

Manual of Masks — On Sale!

The Manual of Masks is on sale until the end of the weekend too. Get it for a neat $1!

The book includes mask-related class options, magical items, and more for your Dungeons & Dragons game.

Until next time,
Be the Hero


RPG Leveling is Broken — Why Levels Suck

RPG leveling is broken. And yes, I’m looking at you, Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder 1 and 2.

First off, thank you to Plastic Polyhedra for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, to which this topic relates.

RPG Levelling is Broken
Image by Esteban Sayhueque

The Problem with Levels

Here’s my gripe:

In real life, but even more importantly, in stories, characters grow in ways that have nothing to do with their skills and abilities. Think of most comic book heroes. They generally have a set of skills that don’t improve during the course of their adventures, though they might get better control over their powers over time. There’s not much story in abilities. Rather, characters face personal challenges that grow their personality… their character.

Now, I get that gaining power is fun, but it’s false fun. Gaining an extra attack, just because I’ve reached level 5, doesn’t make my character stand out from other barbarians. Reaching level 15, just so I can kill level 15 monsters, isn’t real growth, it’s just gated content. Bilbo didn’t gain a new feat that enabled him to sneak past Smaug. He had a magical ring for that!

Character Building is not a GM’s Prerogative

The GM can offer chances for a player’s character to grow, but ultimately that isn’t the GM’s job. The GM’s job is to stoke the fires of the furnace that will forge the character’s character, and the player’s the blacksmith.

But the mechanics can help.

A Few Solutions

Leveling up in D&D or Pathfinder type games could, with a few rules tweaks, be more meaningful. We won’t even throw out the core rules, I promise.

Your character should change in a meaningful way during their adventures, such as gaining new flaws, changing alignment, become more set in their current alignment, developing a new phobia, or seeking to accomplish new goals.

A ton of RPG systems already implement mechanics for these. The Mouse Guard RPG and Cortex both used a system similar to 5e’s flaws, ideals, and bonds, but they change very frequently and are linked to how you gain experience. This isn’t a new idea.

Encourage your players to play to their flaws, ideals, and bonds, or to hooks linked to their alignment, and offer them experience for doing so. How much you offer them is your dial; turn up the roleplay by offering more, or turn it down and focus on traditional advancement by offering less. Then, when a character levels up, force them to refine their flaws, ideals, and bonds, or add new ones. Encourage them to be specific.

Get your players more connected to their character’s story, because feat or skill choices aren’t meaningful decisions.

Image by Ubergank

The Grimdark Pamphlet

The Grimdark Pamphlet offers new ideas and rules for taking your Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition game to darker places, where your choices matter and death is a real threat. We update the book from time to time with new rules, so your once-off purchase gets you a growing repository of rules and GMing advice. It also includes information on joining our playtest.

Grimdark Pamphlet Cover

Till next time, Be The Hero!


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!


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!


Zombie White Dragon — Mini Monday 27

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’re painting the zombie white dragon from the Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game.

Mini Monday Logo

The zombie white dragon was such a satisfying and quick model to paint. You could easily apply the main technique we’ll look at here to other frozen creatures, perfect for your adventures in Icewind Dale.

Basecoat and Drybrushing

Zombie White Dragon First LayerI base coated the mini white, then painted the whole dragon blue. Two thin coats applied with a big brush will make quick work of this frozen fiend. After that, lightly dry brush pure white over the model. I recommend two goes of this, otherwise it’ll look more like a blue dragon with white highlights. You’re building up levels here.

Detailing

I then painted the exposed ribs, teeth, and the hooks on the leading edge of the wings with Flesh Wash (like I did for those skeletons a while back). I painted the tongue, exposed flesh, eye sockets, and nostrils purple (I mixed red and blue). Then I edge highlighted the tips of the teeth and ribs with a flesh tone.

I painted the base black. For this, I found that a thin first coat and a thicker final coat gave it a really solid finish.

The last thing I did was edge highlight the large scales on the tail and head, as well as clean up around the jaws. All of this was with pure white, which muted the blue undercoat some more. I sealed the model with matt varnish.

Zombie White Dragon Painted

Using Photos to Paint Better

If you look carefully in the photo above you’ll notice spots I missed. The great thing about taking photos of your minis is that you’ll examine them through a different lens (literally) and notice things you didn’t spot while painting. Photos also give you a great way to compare your progress. I learned everything I know about mini photography from Tabletop Minions. Check out How To Shoot Good Photos of Your Minis with a Smartphone on YouTube.

Explore Icewind Dale

Icewind Dale Ultimate Pack
Venture deep into the cold north!

Great Icewind-Dale-shaped things are happening in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, and Rising Phoenix Games has teamed up with other DMs Guild creators to bring you the Icewind Dale Ultimate Pack bundle. The bundle is packed full of adventures, player options, items, and more for your adventures in the cold north.

Flesh Golem Frank N. Stein — Mini Monday 24

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week we’re painting Mr Frank N. Stein, the flesh golem from the Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game.

Mini Monday Logo

The flesh golem from the Castle Ravenloft Board Game is one of my favourite minis. The detail is crisp and he looks like he has just walked onto the stage of an Iron Maiden concert. I wanted him to have really gross, leathery skin, and I’m very pleased with how he turned out.

Flesh Golem Final

Undercoating and Flesh Wash Magic

I sprayed the mini white, then painted sections of his skin in off-green, off-blue, and flesh colour. I also left some sections white. It’s all in the name of visual interest.

Flesh Golem Basecoat
Yum, yum. I think I might never eat sushi again.

I then went over this with my magical Flesh Wash. I’ve used it in a few projects now, such as the Cacodemon, Yochlol, and the skeletons. Flesh Wash was perfect for getting that dry leather look, and the off-green and off-blue shows though enough to give it a sickly look. Perfection!

Flesh Golem Flesh Wash
Flesh Wash for a Flesh Golem! I knew there was something to the name!

Stitches and Iron

After some experimenting, I painted the stitches black. If Dr Frankenstein was using thread, these would turn black from the blood it would soak up. I did try adding silver to make them look like staples, but that didn’t make sense to me in a fantasy setting, so I ditched the idea.

Okay, he has metal fingers under the flesh of his one hand, but I’m still not doing staples. I picked out the raised metal edges with silver paint.

Disaster

I didn’t want to paint every stitch, so I tried a marker pen instead. What I didn’t realise until I’d finished was that I was using a dry-erase pen. Whenever I added wet paint or varnish, the colour ran and pooled in an ugly mess. What seems to have worked was going over this with an actual permanent marker or dryish paint.

Live and learn.

Exposed Muscle

I painted the flesh golem’s exposed muscle pink, then went over the raised parts with a reddish-purple. I used a black wash to pick out the detail, and then made sure to use a gloss varnish to make this section appear wet.

Pants

We decided on purple pants to contrast nicely with the orangy flesh, and because this guy looks like an undead version of the Hulk.

I painted the pants the same reddish-purple as the exposed muscle, then dry brushed a lighter purple over the raised bits. The straps were painted a leathery brown and given metal highlights on the buckles. Finally, I used a black wash (watered-down black paint) to pick out the shadows.

Almost done!
The first layer of paint on the pants. It’s not very smooth, but the dry brushing will cover that up.

Final Details

I painted the tongue pink and the teeth yellow, then these also got a black wash. When I was done, I gave varnished the flesh golem with matt varnish, except for the exposed muscle, as I mentioned before.

Flesh Golem Final
Here he is again, in all his gory glory.

Rising Phoenix Games’ RPG Con is On

Rising Phoenix Games’ RPG Con is this week, all week, right here on the blog!
 
Join us for articles like this one, interviews, discounts, and more RPG fun!
 
#RPG #RPGCon
Rising Phoenix Games Con

Buy Dungeons & Dragons Books, Support Creators

Dungeons & Dragons Friends,

These are interesting days. Again and again, I’ve been amazed by the ability we have as humans to adapt and thrive, even under immense pressure. The Dungeons & Dragons community, and the RPG community at large, has shown true solidarity in pulling together in these difficult times.

OneBookShelf announced that, from May 4th until May 17th, all earnings on the Dungeon Masters Guild will go directly to community creators.

Play It Forward - Dungeons & Dragons

This is a massive opportunity for us, since community creators like us usually take 50% of the earnings made off any sale. In many cases, this 50% is then split between those who contributed to the project. OBS and WotC have been very generous with this offer, since community creators and their contributors will now effectively earn double off each sale!

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Buy

At Rising Phoenix Games we strive for quality. Our team is made up of experienced RPG creators, all with a passion for the hobby and for creating quality Dungeons & Dragons resources. We’ve worked together with David N. Ross, Kim Frandsen, Ismael Alvarez, and Michael Ritter, to create titles we know you’ll love using at your table. I’ve also had the privilege of working with DMG creators like M.T. Black and friends on the best selling Player’s Companion. All of these creators deserve and appreciate your support.

If you’ve had your eye on any of our titles, please consider purchasing them before May 17th. Also, if you know other Dungeons & Dragons players, please share this post with them.

Our Dungeons & Dragons Titles

Here’s the full list of our Dungeon Masters Guild titles, all 20% off during the Play it Forward sale:


Player's Handbook

Adventurers Guide to Fey Magic - Dungeons & Dragons

Manual of Masks

Aurora's Summer Catalogue

Aurora's Autumn Catalogue

Aurora's Winter Catalogue

Race & Class Guide for Dungeons & Dragons

Mutants & Mariners

Street Fighter

Genjutsu Master

Deadly Dancer - Dungeons & Dragons

Lightining Bruiserr

Rising Phoenix Games wouldn’t be what it is today without all our friends and collaborators. Friends like you. Thank you for supporting us!

Stay well and happy gaming!

Rodney Sloan and the Rising Phoenix Games team.

Mini Monday #16: Painting Skeletons and Easy Rust

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week we’re painting skeletons and rust.

Mini Monday Logo

Walking skeletons are a staple of fantasy, so knowing how to paint them will come in handy, even if you’re only painting a few for your roleplaying sessions. This method is super simple and very effective. If you haven’t already had a look at how I painted Yochlol, be sure to check it out. That tutorial goes into using Flesh Wash, which is the key ingredient in this recipe.

1. Basecoat White Then Flesh Wash

Basecoat your skeletons white, then wash with Flesh Wash, aka Ink Wash: Flesh.

Painting Skeletons 1

2. Dry Brush Off White

For this step, I used a 1:1 mix of white and a brownish flesh tone. You’re looking for whatever looks the most like bone.

Painting Skeletons 2
The guy in the middle isn’t dry brushed, so you can compare the effect.
Painting Skeletons 3
All dry brushed… and done!

To dry brush, dip your brush in the paint, then wipe most of the paint off. Paint this residue over the raised edges of your model by flicking the brush back and forth. It takes a little practice, but the technique is very useful.

And that’s it, those bones are done. Let’s move on to the rust.

3. Paint Rusty Surfaces Orange

‘Nuff said!

Painting Rust 1

You can mix things up and have patches of different shades of orange, if you like. We’ll be adding plenty of visual variety still, so don’t worry too much if you don’t.

4. Sponge on Brown

Using a small bit of sponge and tweezers, sponge brown over the rusty surfaces. Like with dry brushing, you don’t want too much paint on the sponge here. The aim is to get a random pattern of dots.

Painting Rust 2

5. Paint in Metal Edges

Now, here’s the magic part. Paint a metallic colour on the edges of the swords and shields, focusing on raised edges that would see wear in battle.

Painting Rust 3

It’s a smoke and mirrors technique, but the metallic edges sell the rust and suggest that the weapons and shields are actually made of metal… actually.

6. Finishing Up

Lastly, put some Nuln Oil or a black wash over the rusty armaments, paint or base the bases as you wish, and seal off the miniature with two coats of matt varnish.

Painting Rust 4
Done dun dun dun DONE!

I was blown away by how easy and effective these techniques were. I’ve used the rust technique a bunch of times on my Warhammer 40,000 orks already, and painting these bones felt like cheating, it was that easy.


Adventurer’s Guide to Fey Magic

The Adventurer’s Guide to Fey Magic is an introductory guide featuring advice, treasure, charms, and other rewards for your journeys into the Feywild. Written by David N. Ross, the PDF clocks in at 26 pages, with the OGL and credits taking a page of that, together.

From the Back Cover

The homes of the fey — in the Feywild or in enchanted regions of the mortal world — offer power and danger for local heroes and intrepid interlopers alike. Many seek their fortunes there for good reason. Any adventurer might quest for the otherworldly power of the fey courts, or even aspire to become an archfey, in the right circumstances.

Part 1 of the guide helps adventurers orient themselves among the fey.

Part 2 provides a variety of unique fey rewards for adventurers to seek out.

The Adventurer’s Guide to Fey Magic is available on the DMs Guild.

The Adventure Begins

David, who has many writing credits, particularly for Paizo, came to me with an idea for a series of books on the Fey and Feywild of Faerûn, and the ball got rolling.

Now, we’d like you to join us as we plan for the next book in the series. What would you like to see David and I unpack with book 2? Let us know, in the comments below.

Magic Life Lessons and Mini Monday

I’ve decided to put our two blog series on hold for now, so that we can focus on producing more exciting RPG content. If you enjoyed Magic Life Lessons or Mini Monday, please leave a comment on one of the posts in the series and let us know. Your feedback means a great deal to us.

With MLL and MM out of the way, we’ll be able to focus on our free fiction. The first release, First Contact, is on the blog.