Tutorial: Chibi Cottage Terrain

15 04 2019

So, I’ve blogged about making little chibi houses and chibi igloos for your gaming needs, but there’s another option: chibi cottages. These little things are great for the odd cabin in the woods that may or may not be inhabited by children-eating witches. Basically, throw them in the background of a scenario using the Von Drakk level box, or whatever your homebrew setting is doing in the dark forrest.

First, you start with an Animal Jam Series 4 cottage (available online here). As I’ve talked about in earlier tutorials, you’ll need to hit the piece with a dremel to pull off the logo. (N.b. follow safety precautions with power tools.)

The good news here is that the rounded surface of the roof means that you only have one place you really need to mod. The bad news is that the rounded roof means you’ll need a lot of clean up.

My solution was to make more flowers on the roof with green stuff. I tried doing this in two ways: 1) a press mold based off other flowers on the roof, and 2) sculpting flowers from scratch. Here, the flower on the bottom right is scratch while the others are molded. Additionally, I put flowers on the top where there was a molding divot.

I then decided to prime in green, supposedly to save time on painting. This turned out not to be the case.

The finished cottage will work reasonably well on most forrest boards.

This was more or less a proof of concept here. I’ll probably sculpt all the flowers in subsequent attempts because the press molds never quite come out smooth enough.

Additionally, these little cottages don’t have quite the range of reapplication or mod-ability that the Series 1 houses do, but they will make a cute edition to most any chibi-themed game board.

Tutorial: Chibi Igloo Terrain

28 03 2019

Ever noticed that there’s all these great arctic themed things for Super Dungeon Explore? You’ve got the Deeproot Druid and Angry Bear in the base game, half the Mistmourn Coast box is ice themed (including the Salt mini boss), there’s the Deeproot Wolf Rider, and maybe even the Tusk Raider (if you were lucky enough to snag one).

With all this ice, there clearly needs to be more nordic love for components and terrain. Luckily, here’s a tutorial to help a bit.

Start with an Animal Jam Series 2 Igloo (available on Amazon here or in the toy bin at your local Cracker Barrel).

These little guys have the same problems as the houses I talked about here. They have signage on the front and back that needs to be addressed.

The best way to deal with the back is to hit it with a dremel and grind off the logo. Then, score some lines to match the bricks with your hobby knife. (N.b. follow the manufacturer instructions and safety precautions when using power tool.)

I decided the uniformity of the pattern was a bit too much for my personal chibi aesthetic, and so I then bulked out a few bricks with green stuff.

I also used green stuff to remove cover the small logo on the front.

I then painted the igloo up with a series of blues, starting with a blue primer and moving my way up.

My rational for the blues can be seen here. I have an ice-themed game board that is mostly layers of whites. A white igloo would too easily get lost on the table.

Tutorial: Making Chibi Houses for Gaming

2 02 2019

A quick way to make chibi houses for all your gaming needs is to pick up Animal Jam Adopt a Pet Houses (also available in six packs here).

These little houses come with small critters and key codes for an online game that I’ve never bothered to investigate. If you are child adjacent you might find a use for the minifigs.

This tutorial is using the Series 1 pet houses. Later series look like igloos, huts and cupcakes. I’ll show how to work with other varieties later one, but for now we’ll start with the houses.

These houses are 2″ x 2″ bits of chibi goodness, but they do have some annoying branding you might want to mod. For example, there’s this lady bug on the front of the house.

There’s also the logo on the back, which you will certainly want to remedy.

For the front, you can cover it over with a bit of green stuff or a random piece of weaponry; but usually I put another window. I’ve made an impression of one of the side windows using instamold. I then pressed out a few copies out of fimo clay.

Who doesn’t need a little bit more light in their house?

For the back, a simple solution is to make a large chimney out of foamcore.

I cover the foam core with a thick coat of hot glue to help with structural integrity and protect it against the spray primers I tend to use.

Another possibility is to hit the logo with a dremel and grind the back into something resembling logs.

Or, you could just stick two windows on the back (here with a makeshift overhang to help keep the rain from running in the windows).

Other additions here are stove pipes of various sizes and dormers for additional space upstairs.

Prime them, paint them up, and they’re good to go as terrain for your next chibi D&D game or for blocking line of sight in a chibi wargame.

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles

12 11 2014

Looky here. My Cavern Tile kickstarter showed up—two sets (enough for all the stretch goals), along with a side (literally, on the right side) of ten corridor pieces.


The quality of these pieces is very nice, given the price. They seem a little less robust than the dungeon tiles. The bottom of each tile is concave, and hence there is less plastic to the bottom of each piece. As a result, a few of the thin tiles have a bit of warp to them. Granted, they are cavern tiles; and as such, I’m not to worried about things being a little more warpy than with the dungeon tiles. Still, this will be something to watch out for if Dwarven Forge runs another kickstarter in the future (which will clearly be just a ploy to take more of my money).

Hopefully I’ll have time to paint these guys up before the end of the year. I’m not sure exactly how to paint some of the fiddly bits. Additionally, the watery areas bring up the question of how to get a water effect on this plastic. Stay tuned.

(I should also note that Arcadia Quest has also come in. I’m holding off too much discussion until I’ve had a chance to run an entire campaign.)

RPG Musings Part 2: How Small Can You Go?

26 09 2014

My Iron Kingdoms game ground to a halt a few weeks back when all members of the party present were knocked unconscious by a sinister baddy, unsure if they will ever wake up.* After this indeterminate TPK, we’ve taken a vacation from the Iron Kingdoms to play other games (specifically a 5th Edition home brew of Eberon, but that’s another story). This has left me trapped in my head thinking, musing and generally scheming of role playing scenarios.

One question I keep coming back to is this: how small can I make a role playing adventure?

Now, by small I do not mean short. I mean as in physically petite. To understand, keep in mind my love of terrain, war games and Iron Kingdoms. In other words: Could I make a single piece of terrain and play an entire campaign using nothing but that terrain?

I’d like to think this is possible. I even think it could be amazingly beneficial. With a limited locale it is possible to go deeper both in terms of story and player interaction. I’ve been involved in a “sandbox” campaign with no over-arching story that allowed the party to roam far and wide. What happened was that we never stayed anywhere long enough to build a story. We just hacked and whacked.

What if the party was physically in one place and could not leave? What would they do? How would they interact? What if instead of going to the monsters, the monsters came to them? What if they were the monsters? etc. etc.

In truth, I think the wanderlust would be too much. But, what if the locale was an air ship? A zeppelin? A floating town? Hmmmm….

I’m not sure where these musing will lead. I love terrain. I have a 2′ x 2′ MDF board sitting in the basement begging to be transformed into a little world. Would it be possible for 4-5 characters to exist in that space? That’s 144′ x 144′ in scale—roughly half an American football field. What story could I write in that world? What scenario could I create to keep my players interested?

Maybe this is my players’ future?

* I need to qualify “all members present” because one crucial member decided to go play skee ball instead of show up and in some ways helped cause the existential dilemma for the rest of the party. Oddly, his absence might all provide an option for GM hand waving to allow the story to continue later.

Kickstartery News

2 04 2014

Dwarven Forge II: Electric Boogaloo 

First off in Kickstartery news this week is the final dash for the Dwarven Forge Caverns kickstarter. This second kickstarer from the fine folks over at Dwarven Forge has already been amazing, having raised about 1.2 million at the time of writing. The kickstarter is to cover the cost of molding new and existing lines of game tiles for miniatures gaming (usually D&D, but other 25-32mm miniatures could work as well). The tiles are made out of a rubbery plastic that is more or less indestructible. And also, gorgeous:

Their first kickstarter raised just shy of 2 million dollars. I’d love to see them break that barrier in the last week for this kickstarter. If you haven’t supported this yet, it’s a phenomenal deal.

Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten Chibis

Second, there is Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King kickstarter. Soda Pop Miniatures has broken ties with CoolMiniOrNot and put this kickstarter together to continue their 8-bit chibi board game solo. This kickstarter has one level ($100 US) with no exclusives. The basic pledge gets you not only the new expansion, but updated cards and rules to everything they’ve already put out. There is also a new co-op mode sans GM and a PvP mode (rules to the latter here). They are balancing quite well between free stretch goals and paid add-ons. All-in-all it looks to be running quite nicely. Here’s just the basic haul, sans stretch goals:

But, there is still the specter of kickstarters past. While the release date here is December 2014, Relic Knight was such a clusterfuck I have anxiety about seeing this game before 2016.  Additionally, I have personally found Soda Pop’s customer service to be… wanting (read: dickish). I’m a backer, and encourage other to back as well. However, I’m realistic about the amount of time it might take to get a hold of this thing.

Red Shift is run by idiots:

Finally, there is a cautionary tale. Back in the day, lo almost two years ago, I backed the Kittens in a Blender Expansion kickstarter. As of time of writing I have received nothing from the folks at Red Shift, though there are reports that the base game is “in the mail.” Keep in mind, that’s not the expansion—not what I actually BACKED—but the base game that at the time I helped kick said expansion was still in print. They tell me that the actual expansion won’t be out until the “late spring” which might mean any time in the next two years, as far as I’m concerned.

What’s more, the base game that was supposed to go out to backers first was “accidentally” shipped to stores a full month before it was sent to backers whose funding made it possible (though again, that’s not what the kickstarter was actually about).

The most ironic thing about this complete fuck-up is that The Doom that Came to Atlantic City had its kickstarter kit, had its coordinator run off and squander the money, had its creator regain control of the game, had it picked up by Cryptozoic AND had it produced and shipped to backers world wide all in the time that Red Shift hasn’t been able to get one expansion done.

I have generally done well to keep my snark about this project to their kickstarer’s comments section. However, I really felt the need to get that off my chest. Hopefully I won’t feel the need to bring these assholes up here. Unless, of course, they run another kickstarter. At which point I will tell you all over and over again how you should neither trust nor back anything this “company” does.

January Wrap-up

27 01 2014

While January was abysmal in terms of game playing, I did manage to get a few things painted.

First off, Lady Aiyana and Master Holt:


Then there is a minimum unit of MoW Demo Corp (modded from plastic Shock Troopers):


Finally, I worked on a small display board (seen behind & under the models above). It was a proof-of-concept piece more than anything else, but I’ll put a brief tutorial up on it in the next day or so.

Dwarven Forge update

4 11 2013

After a weekend of pretty heavy painting, my Dwarven Forge tiles are painted.

Here’s a general overview:



And here is the joyous dragon with his shiny (the real power behind the dwarven throne).



And here you can see the dwarven king at court with two of his loyal man-at-arms (completely unaware that there king’s mind is being held in the dragon’s trawl!).


An Update (finally!)

26 10 2013


This semester has been killer, but I finally got a chance to do some painting this weekend. Humbly presented for your perusal: Reaper’s Bones bat swarm and two test walls from my Dwaven Forge kickstarter haul.  I painted the latter with cheap, Americana craft paints. Given the 200+ pieces that I will need to paint from Dwarven Forge , I’m experimenting with cheaper alternatives than the Vallejo paints I usually use.

Asteroid Tutorial

23 08 2013

So the other night I played a few games of X-Wings. I haven’t done so for a while since my usual partner has basically rage quit the game. In any case, I discovered something very important while playing: it can be slightly boring just to try and kill all your opponent’s ships.  This shouldn’t surprise me—I generally play scenarios in Warmahordes for just this reason. So I’ve decided to play more of the X-Wing scenarios. This however involves SPACE TERRAIN.

Using teh Googles I discovered this great little video on making asteroids for Battlefleet Gothic (the Cadillac of space wargames).

I’m still working on getting the right melty bits on my pink foam, but I should have some picks up in a few days.