Tag Archives: Roleplaying Games

Guitar Wire for Mini Converting Victory! — MM 51

It’s Mini Monday, and this week I’m going to introduce you to my new favourite kitbashing and converting substance: guitar wire.

Mini Monday Logo

Metal guitar wire, as far as I understand, comes in six thicknesses: thin, thicker… well, you get the picture. What matters is that it has many great properties that make it perfect for miniature conversion and kitbashing work:

  1. It’s wire, so you can bend it and cut it like wire!
  2. It’s tightly wound and won’t uncoil like a spring might.
  3. It’s the perfect thickness for detail work and comes in a variety of thicknesses, so you can use whichever size works best for the job you’re doing.
  4. One string goes a very long way.
  5. Once bent, guitar wire maintains its shape fairly well.
  6. Musicians throw it away when they’re done with it. That’s right, it’s literally free if you know somebody who plays the guitar.

Guitar wire for mini converting

Ask Not What You Can Do For Guitar Wire…

DriveThruRPG.comGuitar wire gets used for pipes and cables mostly (first mini, above), but here are a few more ideas:

  1. Guts! Check out mini number 2, above!
  2. Arms! Mini number 3 had her arm rebuilt with thick guitar wire and modelling epoxy. The original arm was hopelessly too short, but the bendable wire made this an easy fix. I like the ribbed detailing it gives her arm where I left the wire exposed.
  3. Handles! He-Man (yes, he’s finally here!) has an all-new axe with a handle made from our wonder material. This detail alone brings the axe much closer to the toy axe I got with my action figure. Watch out, Beast Man!
  4. Coins! Because they’re so tightly wound, you could use guitar wire to make miniature-size stacks of coins.
  5. Armature Wire! Because it retains its shape after bending, I figure it’ll work well as armature wire — the wire used as a skeleton for modelling clay when making figures.
  6. Joints! Laid horizontally, you could fill gaps in knees or elbows to simulate more complex joints.
  7. Toast! I’ll bet guitar wire makes great toast. Ah, guitar wire…

That’s it. That’s all I have to say. Go get yourself some and give it a try if you’ve never played with it. I promise… this stuff rocks…

Captain Nemo’s Scimitar, a D&D 5e Artifact

Captain Nemo’s scimitar is a powerful artifact that you can add to your undersea Dungeons & Dragons 5e campaign.

Nemo’s Scimitar

Weapon (scimitar), artifact (requires attunement)

The legendary Captain Nemo was a consummate gentleman and an amicable diplomat who made many friends, both above and below the waves. It is said that he counted sphinxes and phoenixes among his closest advisors, and that it is they who helped him build the vessel his name is synonymous with: the Nautilus (see Undersea Sourcebook: Feats and Equipment).

Captain Nemo's Scimitar

While the Nautilus was being completed, a companion blade was forged, a scimitar linked to the vessel by powerful magic. The scimitar would serve as a mark of rank and ownership, while its arcane link to the great vessel would be able to bring the Nautilus back from disaster if their planned journey to the ocean depths ever became too perilous.

Although the scimitar is not required to command or pilot the Nautilus, it is a common misconception that the scimitar is its key, and that the Nautilus would be powerless without it. This misinformation has inspired many of Nemo’s rivals to steal the sword, though none have yet succeeded.



While attuned to the scimitar, you can breathe air or water, have a swimming speed of 30-feet if you don’t have a better swimming speed, and are immune to the effects of extreme cold.

Call the Nautilus. If you are holding the scimitar and are within 120 feet of a body of water big enough to hold it, you can, as an action, call the Nautilus (Underwater Sourcebook: Feats & Equipment). The vessel teleports to your location if it is on the same plane. If the Nautilus has been destroyed, it appears with 1 Hit Point remaining for each of its components. You can’t use this property again until 3 days have passed.

Captain’s Gate. If you are holding the scimitar, you can use your action to cast gate, linking a spot you can see to the captain’s quarters within the Nautilus. You can’t use this ability again until after a long rest.

Conjure Shield Guardian. If you are holding the scimitar, you can use your action to conjure a shield guardian. You can conjure it within 30 feet of you or within the Nautilus. In either case, it is bound to the scimitar, which acts as the shield guardian’s bound amulet. The shield guardian dissipates after 1 hour. You can’t use this ability again until dawn.

Destroying the Scimitar. The only way to destroy the scimitar is to melt it down within an underwater volcano, alongside a power crystal from the Nautilus.

Captain Nemo's Scimitar


Wanna be a Great GM? Get an Education!

So, you want to impress the boys at your local with your masterful storytelling? Figure you’ll show the ladies a good time with dice and an epic quest? Looking to put “Professional GM” on your CV? Well then, if you want to be a great GM (or DM, or Storyteller), then you need to get an education.

What kind of education? I’m not talking about school — stay in school kids — I’m talking about life experiences.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Why?

Rules are great. Acting skills are useful. Improv skills are even better. Knowing and understanding all the tools available to you, that’s the road to being really great.

But all of this isn’t very useful without some real experiences. Some fuel for the creative fire.

Go ride a horse. Practice martial arts. Write with a quill pen. Hike up a mountain. Go camping. Gut a fish. Travel.

Real experiences always beat book learning. What you’ve lived through becomes a part of you in a way clinical understanding never can.

Have you ever noticed that many writers, those brave souls who battle with pen and paper their whole lives, struggle to sell a good novel, while non-writers (usually sportspeople and explorers) seem to create best-selling books without much effort? There are exceptions, but I’ll bet that the key ingredient here is substance. Those with real experiences have something meaty to offer.

A poorly-researched example, as Exhibit A: Stephen King cited being hit by a car as inspiration for many of his books. I’m not sure which, but my Google-fu tells me it’s a bunch. Sorry, Stephen, you’re free to pipe up in the comments.

Your experiences are beautiful pigments for painting truly memorable images at the table. Your fantasy games will be so much more real when you embellish them with realistic details drawn from your experiences.

So look, listen, and learn. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Thanks to The Five Foot Square for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. Do go check them out and join in the fun.

While you’re here, please check out our store or our Drive-Thru RPG page. We have loads of publications for D&D 5e, Pathfinder, and unique systems we know you’ll love.

Why is the RPG Industry Growing?

Despite Covid-19’s reign of terror, the RPG industry looks healthier than ever. But why? In a time when we couldn’t get around the table with friends, this surely wasn’t what anyone predicted. So, why is the RPG industry growing?

Playtesting Horde
Our lone hero gets ready to repel the undead legion.

I recently read articles about the growth of the manga and comic book industries. Despite the global pandemic, piracy, any economic downturn, and other negative factors, these market segments proved robust enough to keep growing. The tabletop RPG industry is also reportedly growing, with ICv2 citing a 31% growth in the RPG market in 2020. This growth is great, but what’s actually driving this growth?

I’m asking. I don’t know.

Many of the people who read my blog are intelligent folks who know things though. Maybe their insights will help us figure out the answer.
That means you, so sound off in the comments.

I suspect that community content is certainly playing its part. Websites like the Dungeons Masters Guild and Storytellers Vault give GMs (and DMs, and Storytellers) a way to earn something from the content they’re creating for their games anyway. Now, Paizo is joining the community content market with their own Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite initiatives. It’s a solid route for a publisher with a strong IP to go.

Streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube probably brings in more players and more book sales, though I’m not too familiar with the streaming scene and its impact. I’m guessing. I do know that watching HarmonQuest always got me amped to play though. It’s the perfect kind of marketing that worked for TV: look at us, we’re happy (playing D&D), you should join us and also (play D&D).

Being at home more might have had an impact too, though I don’t know how many people are still spending most of their time at home. After a few months of lockdown I picked up skateboarding again, maybe many others have dived back into roleplaying? I’d love to find the numbers and know the actual trends.

Then there’s the virtual tabletop boom, and of particular interest to us, the growth of solo RPG gaming.

Most likely, all of these factors are because of the pandemic. If that’s the case, then should we expect the market to contract as the world recovers from Covid? Nothing is forever, as they say.

Above is a short poll I did at the start of the year. I didn’t get loads of responses, but if this is any indication of how people and the market reacted to the crisis, then it’s worth digging deeper and understanding exactly what’s going on. My feeling is that demand outpaced supply, leading to better sales. What do you think?

If you like knowing about the RPG industry, you should add your voice to Kim Frandsen’s RPG questionnaire, which is running until October 1st, 2021. He’ll send out the results via e-mail if you add yours to your response. He’ll also be publishing his findings on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, so connect with him now.

Why You Absolutely Must Play Pathfinder 2nd Ed.

Pathfinder Second Edition has been around for a while now, and if you’re still finding excuses not to try out the system then let me tell you why you absolutely must play Pathfinder Second Edition.

Pathfinder Second Edition
Image credit: Yuri_b

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 was a great system. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (good old 1st ed) was also a great system, which built on 3.5, streamlining some of the clunkier rules. Something then happened in the D&D world that might be better left forgotten, but then came Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, another amazing system. Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition marked a renaissance for the hobby and became immensely popular.

Then came Pathfinder Second Edition, which might not have become the smash hit D&D 5e is, but does have the benefit of all these systems that came before it.

Which is why you need to give it an honest go.

If you’re serious about your TTRPG hobby (you probably shouldn’t be too serious though, it’s just a hobby), then you owe it to yourself to see what Pathfinder Second Edition has to offer with its new take on fantasy roleplaying and D20 systems in particular.

Steal Like a GM

Great gamemasters steal ideas all the time, and because Pathfinder Second Edition evolved out of so many other, solid D20 systems it has a lot to offer in terms of new mechanics, reworked rules, and fresh perspectives. You might find something you want to adapt for your own game, even if you’re sticking with 5e. There are plenty of resources on the Internet for converting PF2 to 5e, which will give you pointers on how to tackle your thefts. (Don’t actually steal something folks. I’m talking about grabbing inspiration and making it your own.)

Ultimately, PF2 has a lot to offer players who like fiddly-bits in their games. While 5e is great in general, the level of abstraction in the system can get frustrating, while Pathfinder Second Edition offers many more dials and switches to tweak. If you’ve never tried Pathfinder, then go see what all those dials and switches can do for you.

You can find Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Fifth Edition books in our store.


Why It’s Good to Suck (At Something)

I suck at skateboarding. I’m terrible at it. But you know what, it’s good to suck at something. Here’s why…

(And yes, there will be an RPG angle to my story.)

There are a bunch of things I can get cocky about. I’m not bragging though, because I still have far to go, but I’m a fairly competent writer and editor, I know a deal about design and layout, and my puns are perfection. When it comes to skateboarding though, I suck.

Just how bad am I?

I’m a fearful person, and I’ve got the coords of a drunken goat. I can’t jump, and I nearly killed myself for a stupid trick (that’s hyperbole, but it still hurt).

But all the suckage is a good thing. It keeps you humble. It teaches you. It gives you perspective.

Humility and Real Motivation

So we’re going to talk about game design a lot here, and we’re going to talk about motivation too. Motivation’s the fuel that gets game design done, that pulls game devs through the tough times.

Motivation fascinates me.

People say our minds are like a computer, so then understanding motivation is like learning to hack our brains. That’s tastily cyberpunk.

But the motivation I’m talking about isn’t the Tony Robbin’s flavored shlock you find in a lot of self-help books. I’m talking about understanding what makes your brain think like it does, then knowing how to deal with those thoughts.

In skateboarding, sometimes the most unnatural movements are the right ones. Take dropping in.

Credit: Tania Ferreira Lourenco

Dropping in is where you have your skateboard’s nose up, then lean forward so that you and your board’s nose come down, onto the ramp. Your body’s natural instinct is to pull back, but this always fouls up and could put you on your bum. Ultimately, you have to trust the physics and lean into it, fighting through the fear.

You quickly realize that fear’s keeping you back. The only way to hack your brain is to fight the fear. So how do you fight fear?

School of Hard Knocks

We all know how to run, but riding a plank, that’s odd. You might be lucky to have learned it as a kid, but otherwise it’s an alien activity. In this way, skateboarding is a perfect model for how we learn.

I see it when I compare mini painting to skateboarding. Both take practice, and practice pays off for both hobbies. The best synonym for practice is “baby steps”. You learn to master mini painting by focusing on one new step at a time.

Gamemastering? Same. Writing games? Same. Nobody ever learned all the rules of D&D before running their first game, they learn enough and add to that knowledge later.

Knowing you suck is the only way to improve.

Why I Almost Quit the TTRPG Industry

The table-top roleplaying games industry is notoriously tough. Keep your ear to the ground and you’ll hear, now and then, the hasty footfalls of an RPG designer rushing for the door. Burnout is usually the cause. I was at the edge of that precipice, and I almost quit the TTRPG industry, and I’m here to tell you my story.

I’ve worked in the TTRPG industry for five full years now. Some of my time is spent on other work, but I’ve picked jobs carefully to build my career with experience that’ll feed back into RPG design and writing. These years were only possible because of another five years spent preparing to go full time. So why, if I’ve fought so hard for this, would I be ready to let it all go?

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

An Honest Picture of Success

To understand that, we need to talk about success. What does success in the TTRPG industry look like? Is it working for Wizards of the Coast, or having your name on a hardcover? Maybe it’s earning enough that you can quit your day job?

In my view, success is all about sustainability. Does your work support you? This isn’t just about money, although money is a big part of it. Sustainability includes the actualization of your goals. It answers questions such as “Will I, one day, have my name on a hardcover?” Your sense of worth is also important; “Do I make great content that people enjoy?” Then there’s fair remuneration; “Is my hard work being adequately rewarded?” Rewards include money, buzz, positive feedback, and players sitting down to play your games.

Ultimately, is all the graft, the grind, and the stress, paying off? If it is, then your work is sustainable and you’re successful. If not, then the job will eventually beat you down, you’ll cut your losses, and beat an expeditious retreat.

Hard trials are going to come along, no matter what you do. If anything, I didn’t always have the maturity to face those trials and pull through, so each hit became a personal burden (or grudge) that grew heavier and heavier with each setback. On top of that, as Freddie sang, “… bad mistakes, I’ve made a few.” This reached its ugly head when I had a run of flops with products I really believed in.

It has taken me months to recover from burnout and get excited about producing RPG content again.

But I’m committed to learning from my mistakes and doing better.

How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!
— Proverbs 16:16

Last night I was reading a Batonga story to my kids about the dung beetle. In it, Butterfly tells Dung Beetle that if she doesn’t try, she’ll never succeed, but if she tries, she might (When Lion Could Fly and Other Tales From Africa).

So I’m sticking around because I know I can do better. Even after five years, there’s still so much to learn, and I’m enjoying being a student of game design and the TTRPG industry. Even my many failures are not a loss, because they give me something to build on that I didn’t have when I first started out.

The name of the company makes a lot more sense now too, doesn’t it? I hope you, too, can rise like a phoenix from whatever setback life has thrown at you.


Why I Nearly Died for the Worst Skateboard Trick

The tail drag is probably the worst skateboarding “trick” in history. If it even is a trick. Basically, you’re stopping your skateboard by slamming your tail down. That’ll rip up your tail and cause razor tail if you do it enough. This sharpening of your tail’s edge turns your board into a lethal weapon, ready to slice shins.

On top of that, there’s a lot that can go wrong with a tail drag. When you lift your front foot, the skateboard’s nose comes up with it. If you don’t commit to the trick, your nose falls down and your front wheels become a fulcrum of death, catapulting you forward and into the ground.

That’s how I bodied myself, many times. It’s just lucky I’ve never broken an arm. Still, I’ll attempt the tail drag again, and again, until I get it.

Why?

skateboard
You didn’t realize this RPG blog was going to take a skateboarding turn, but don’t worry, we’ll get back to rolling dice.

To me, skateboarding is about technical skill. It’s fun, too, sure, but the act of skateboarding is all in the physics. Similarly, you might say TTRPGs are about telling stories collaboratively. So learning to tail drag, as I see it, is the first step to better board control, which leads to unlocking the next level of skating.

Many skaters will disagree with me, because it really is a terrible trick, but I know myself and I know this is my personal battle. I have to fight it.

Maybe there was an aspect of the hobby you had to work hard at, even if your peers disagreed with you. Maybe you’re part of a group of power gamers, and you’re fighting hard to roleplay instead of roll-play. Maybe you’re trying to improve your mini painting skills, and your buddies all buy pre-painted minis.

Maybe this is about RPG fundamentals, and doing all you can to learn and put them into practice. What do you think?

The Death of Tabletop RPGs: Did D&D Doom Us?

I… really should write more posts. I’ve been meaning to, but blah blah sorry sob story… whatever. You’re not here about that, you’re here because of my clickbaity title, which means you probably care either about proving me wrong, the title hit a nerve, or you’re genuinely curious about my ominous predictions about the death of tabletop RPGs.

Raven on tombstone

Actually, there might be some other reason why you’re here, so scratch that. I’m not omnipotent. I’m not even semi-potent. Most of the time, I’m just trying to be more than normal. What I’ve learned though, is that normalcy is seldom escapable, and that’s a good thing.

Most roleplayers like to live on the fringes. Most of us were goths when goths were a thing, or punks, or the emo kids, or drama students. We’re the kind of people who wilt in the sunlight, who can’t throw balls, who use words like ‘dimwitted’ and ‘Ludite’ to mock others and feel intellectually superior. I’m exaggerating and generalizing here, but in my experience, few of us ever thought ourselves normal.

For some of us, normal is a swearword. We’d never want to gain that label.

But then D&D 5e came along, and suddenly TTRPGs were immensely popular. And “normal” kids were playing them. For some of us, it felt like a betrayal. Like we’d lost our last refuge to the football jocks.

Of course, there’s a bright side to all this. TTRPGs are doing well, and more of us are getting to make a living producing content for our favorite collaborative games. Roleplaying is more accessible than ever before, and that’s worth celebrating.

But that doesn’t mean the grognards need to like it.

So, kids, if you ever hear an old-school gamer ranting about the death of RPGs, or about how Warhammer FRP 1e or Vampire the Masquerade is better than Dungeons & Dragons could ever be, just let it slide.

The hobby isn’t dying, but evolution can be painful.


More Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Once again, we have more cruel trinkets for Dungeons & Dragons 5e that could prove to be both a blessing and a curse to those who dare to use them.

You can find the original Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods, on the blog.

Thank you to Codex Anathema, who inspired this post and are hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Eager Blade

Weapon (longsword), rare (requires attunement)

This polished +2 longsword grants you an additional action after a successful attack, once per turn. You must use this extra action to attack an enemy with the Eager Blade or, if no enemy is within reach, to attack an ally or bystander. If no other target is available, you are instead incapacitated until the end of your next turn, as you attempt to bring the weapon under control.

Fire Emblem

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

This red ruby is set within a brooch of red gold. You have advantage on Charisma based checks involving fire elementals and creatures from the Elemental Plane of Fire. Additionally, any d6s you would roll for fire-based spells step up to d8s.

Whenever you take a long rest, make a DC 2 flat check. On a failure, a 5-foot-square area within 1 mile of you is set ablaze. This fire is affected by the prevailing conditions and will spread if sufficient fuel — such as dry grass or wood — is available.

I hope you enjoyed these devious treasures. It’s always more fun when there’s some risk involved.

I wonder who might have created them? Maybe an elemental lord of fire had the fire emblem made for his most trusted envoys, but his craftsmen were unable to fully contain the elemental power within the gem? Just imagine if an NPC was wandering around with one of these around their neck.

Do you have any sneaky items or cruel trinkets you’ve created? Did your GM ever fox you with a real stinker? We’d love to hear from you, in the comments, below.


Image Credits: darksouls1