Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back - Top 10

In chronological order, these are my personal top 10 posts of 2011. They are't necessarily highly viewed, highly commented on posts, they're just my favorites.

Dogs in the Dungeon

Old Man of the Dungeon

Wheaton’s Vicious Cockpunch of Furious Anger

O is for Orphan

Megadungeon Binder

Tim Curry Tuesdays - Darkness

Wire Wolf

Fey Thoughts

On Dragons

Zombie Mice

I hope you all enjoy what remains of 2011, and hope that 2012 brings you peace, and prosperity, and gaming!

Looking Back - The Stats

Today, as 2011 comes to a close, I want to take a moment and see where things stand.

As of now, I have had over 131,000 page views, with December of this year being my best ever with almost 14,000 page views. I have 144 followers and 215 subscribers according to Google reader. I'm sure there is some (a lot of) overlap, but I have no way of determining what it is.

The people that come to my blog do so from a wide variety of places around the world.
  • United States 71,311
  • United Kingdom 11,051
  • Canada 6,917
  • Germany 4,047
  • Australia 3,187
  • Italy 1,629
  • France 1,271
  • Spain 998
  • Brazil 929
  • Russia 904

Most of you use Firefox, but a shocking number of you use IE.
  • Firefox 51,773 (39%)
  • Internet Explorer 34,981 (26%)
  • Chrome 23,836 (18%)
  • Safari 13,778 (10%)
  • Opera 2,282 (1%)
  • Mobile Safari 1,651 (1%)
  • Mobile 514 (-1%)
  • chromeframe 380 (-1%)
  • (FlipboardProxy 307 (-1%)
  • OneRiot 138 (-1%)

Readers find my blog with the following search terms:
  • pennywise 4,245
  • dragons 1,176
  • end of the world 490
  • pennywise the clown 426
  • dungeons and dragons 166
  • fey corgi 152
  • sharkbear 107
  • bastard sword 82
  • queen 79
  • book name generator 65

This flows rather well into my most viewed posts:
  • Tim Curry Tuesdays - Pennywise
    Jun 28, 2011 10,129 Pageviews
  • This is Dungeons and Dragons!
    May 13, 2010, 1 comment 3,678 Pageviews
  • Racial Weapon Styles: Humans, Dwarves, Elves
    Mar 19, 2010, 4 comments 2,071 Pageviews
  • WotC-Fail - Girls & D&D
    Jun 17, 2011, 13 comments 1,486 Pageviews
  • On Dragons
    Nov 22, 2011, 7 comments 1,329 Pageviews
  • Off for the weekend
    Aug 26, 2011, 1 comment 912 Pageviews
  • The Best D&D Race is the...
    Feb 26, 2010, 4 comments 736 Pageviews
  • Busy week = Lazy Post
    Dec 12, 2011, 1 comment 662 Pageviews
  • Racial Weapon Styles: Dragonborn
    Mar 30, 2010, 2 comments 469 Pageviews
  • The Book of Vile Darkness: The Movie!!
    Jul 20, 2011, 2 comments 455 Pageviews

Counting this post and the one that will follow, I have posted 328 posts this year. My most commented on post was the Blog Carnival post (19), and then the WotC-Fail - Girls & D&D (13).

As an aside, I hate how blogger messes up the ampersand

Friday, December 30, 2011

Phenomenal Cosmic Power!

My favorite character class has always been the Magic-User/Wizard/Mage. This is a confession which should cause no surprise. The ability to warp space, time, and the very fabric of the universe, even if only in small ways, has always been way cooler than any sword swinger, back stabber, or prayer slinger.

Because of this I’m always on the lookout for things that can make a wizard, especially a low level one, a little more fantastic, and a little less squishy.

Bat of Ancient Vaults created the Staff of the Arcane.  It’s a fairly potent item, yet not wildly powerful. It’s just the sort of thing that you could drop into the hands of a 3rd level wizard.

If you’re worried that it’s too powerful, you could always limit the level of spells stored within it, or cause the use of the knockdown power to use up one of the spellslots (limiting it to 3/day)

In a similar vein as Shields Shall Be Splintered, Telecanter of Telecanter’s Receding Rules suggests the possibility of Wands Shall Be Broken. Now, wands and staffs (in most campaigns) are orders of magnitude rarer than shields, so this is a rule that would see little use, but it could be worth it if it’s an almost certain instant death sort of situation.

Depending on what rules you use to create magic items, the requirements can sometimes be silly. For example, creating a fully charged wand would require casting the same spell 99 times all at the same time. Grognardling had an idea that would address that issue, at least to a certain extent.

Personally I don’t see why item creation can’t take an extended period of time, rather than involving dozens of casters, but his rule idea isn’t a bad one.

Of course not every mage is a paragon of virtue. There is a certain temptation when you can hurl fireballs and raise walls of ice to ignore such trifling concerns as honor or ethics or social norms. It isn’t even entirely an internal temptation, as there are lots of beings (mortal and otherwise) that would be happy to see the spellslinger walk the dark side. The Grimoires of the Pact Insidious are a tool to aid a wizard down that dark path.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fieldstone Bell Tower Finished!

While I was distracted by finishing the semester and then the holiday season, I finally got back to it yesterday.

with flash

without flash

slightly different angle

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RPG Loot!

The only gamer loot I received from Santa was this awesome t-shirt.

Yesterday however, we stopped at the used book store, I found some unexpected goodies. First up is the AD+D Dungeon Builders Guidebook and the Star Wars Game Master Handbook. I've been wanting the Dungeon Builders Guidebook for a while now, especially as I want to get back to working on my megadungeon. As for the GM's Handbook? I just enjoy reading them, and I like the d6 system.

The really amazing finds of the day were Mutant Future and Sorcery and Super Science!

I never expected to find either of these in a bookstore!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

When the nights grow long...

The adventurers rode slowly toward the snow covered town, the sound of drums and horns could be heard well before they reached the gate. The town had the air of a festival, with musicians, food vendors, and seemingly the entire populace lining the main street through the town, looking in the direction of the far gate. The last rays of the sun leaving pastel streaks across the clouds.

“This feels odd” Allianora said, leaning toward her companions.

“What do you mean?” Rathgar asked. “It’s a solstice festival.”

“No, Allianora’s right” Nimble said. “Look around... look at the people.”

“No one is smiling.” Feris noted.

“Right” Nimble nodded “Whatever’s going on, these people aren’t happy about it.”

As twilight faded into darkness, the drumming swelled. A knee deep ground fog began to roil into the town from the far gate, and the crowd’s nervous energy seemed to spike. Flickering torches appeared beyond the gate as demonic beings lurched their way into the town. Each being was different, yet all were covered in wild fur, with bestial mouths and tongues that perpetually hung out of their mouths. All had horns, some straight, some curved, some with multiple sets. They carried whips, staffs, torches, chains, and leather sacks.

The children of the town were pushed to the front of the crowd, and the demons began to sniff, touch, lick, and taunt them. The adventurers watched as a boy was pulled into the middle of the street, and thrown to the ground. He was kicked by several of the beasts as they walked by, and whipped by another before he scrambled back toward the crowd. A little further long a little girl was dragged by her hair screaming away from the crowd. Two of the beasts shoved her into one of the leather sacks, cinching it tight before giving it a few jabs.

Allianora stared horrified at the spectacle, seemingly frozen as the demons approached the adventurers. Rathgar fingered the hilt of his sword, and Feris subtly drew a wand and hid it beneath his cloak. Feris’ horse stood alone, tied to a post, but no one noticed.

Snapping out of her horror, Allianora slipped from her horse, pushed through the crowd, and stood before the creatures. The entire town paused. The crowd seemed to hold it’s breath, and fear bordered on terror. The demons waited, and looked at her, their tongues lolling.

"Let that child go."

"Why?" the demon hissed.

"I'll give you this" in her outstretched hand was an orange.

I hope you've all been nice this year...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I need a hero

It’s rare to find big damn heroes in classic Dungeons and Dragons. The entire game is designed around tomb robbers. Occasionally players will take on “altruistic” causes, but this usually involves their being able to keep a percentage of treasure that they find (aka loot). In my limited experience playing classic D+D, my players tended toward chaotic good. More than happy to do good deeds, but generally wanting something for it. When I got to play, I usually played in that same moral vein. Good people, but not generally heroes.

During my 2e days I know that no matter what their character sheets said, my players tended toward neutral evil. On the rare chances I got to play I usually ran either an elven bladesinger or a paladin. I was usually the only good character in the party, and while I was trying to emulate the high fantasy hero that was so often depicted in the art of 2e, both my party and my DM usually failed to support me in this. My fellow players by being NE jerks, and my DMs by not providing any sort of situation in which to be actually heroic. They tended to be subscribers to the school of thought that believed Lawful Good = Lawful Stupid. This is not a great situation for the player of a paladin to find himself.

With the introduction of 3e and d20 Star Wars I began to see more heroic acts, though not too often. Like back in my classic D+D days the general alignment had shifted back toward good, if not lawful. Being able to play Jedi in Star Wars certainly helped with that. There’s just something about the lure of lightsabers that proved impossible to resist.

4e, and it’s lack of emphasis on collecting treasure, seems a much more heroic game, which does cheapen the whole point of heroism in a fantasy rpg. It’s one thing when you’re playing a superhero game, but another when playing D+D.

Is looking for a hero in Dungeons and Dragons a fool's quest? Maybe, but then where else do you find a hero, but on a fool's quest?

This post brought to you by the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted this month by Runeslinger of Casting Shadows. The topic is Heroes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Random Encounters

Today I'll be most likely finishing up Thunderspire with my cousins, however I also just learned that in-laws will most likely be stopping for the night on their way to where we'll all be spending Christmas.

The house is a mess.

Anyone have a house elf I could borrow?

Monday, December 19, 2011

What's your holiday gaming wish?

There's a new poll - Are you asking Santa for any gaming stuff this year?

I am! I want Vornheim.

Santa won't bring Carcosa - so don't ask!!
What's on your list?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Contest Results

And the winner of the terrainsgiving day contest is...

Niccodaemus of Shatterworld for his entry The Stolen Child


Tonybro001 of roleplay-geek for his Ruined Tower of the Archmage


Tim of Gothridge Manor for his entry Sleestak in Black

Why pick just one?

Drop me a line at davidbrawley at gmail dot com and we'll see if we can't get the ruins to you before the holiday!

Now, because Tonybro is in the UK, getting a tower over to him will be a touch expensive, so an alternate but thematically appropriate prize will be arranged...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Déjà vu! Magic Mushrooms

"Hey human... grab a seat.  See those eggs over there?  Why don't you fry them up, they go great with mushrooms."

Nimble froze.  His foot oozed slowly into the soggy moss.  Turning his head slightly he saw a couple of eggs and a frying pan next to a small stack of firewood.  Just a little bit away was a patch of brownish spotted mushrooms.  Nimble felt himself relax and stepped over to the frying pan, and pulled the flint and steel from his pocket.  A mushroom omelet and a soft bit of moss sounded perfect.

Just as he bent down a small vial arched overhead, landing amidst the mushrooms, and setting them alight.  Screaming echoed through the swamp as Rathgar grabbed Nimble from behind and jerked him away from the conflagration.

Magic Mushroom
Magical Plant
Armour Class: 10
Hit Dice: 1+
Move: 0
Attacks: 1 (special)
Damage: Special
No. Appearing: 1
Save As: M1
Morale: 11
Treasure Type:  C
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value:  25

Each patch of Magic Mushrooms is a single entity with a powerful charm ability. Any intelligent creature that comes within range will be encouraged to consume a portion of the mushroom patch. While both tasty and nutritious, the mushrooms are highly poisonous. Anyone consuming even a single mushroom, and failing a saving throw versus poison will fall into a deep sleep after 2d6 minutes from which they will be unable to wake themselves. The victims of this poison, presuming their bodies are left unmolested are covered in the spores of the creature, and will be killed after approximately 24 hours, and over the course of about a week their body will be entirely consumed. Larger (and thus more experienced) Magic Mushroom patches will often have their victim lay the trap for the next victim.

Magic Mushrooms was originally published 1/27/10 and is my entry for The Deja Vu Blogfest.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gaming Music - Queen

In spite of the fact the music plays only a limited role in my games, it does a fair job of serving as inspiration. Now, unlike most of you, I missed the whole punk & heavy metal influence. I didn’t really begin to expand my music tastes beyond classic rock and classical until high school.

Despite this, there has always been one band that I feel is very inspirational for Dungeons and Dragons, a band that embodies the attitude and character of players, characters, and DMs:

Hear me out! I’m not just a crazy person*!

They are a loud and flamboyant band, full of energy, style and bravado. This matches characters really well, and players too. Who else would spend their time digging around old tombs full of nasty things in hopes of getting some gold?

Also, look at the lyrics (click through for the youtube video of each):

“Adventure seeker on an empty street,
Just an alley creeper, light on his feet
A young fighter screaming, with no time for doubt
With the pain and anger can't see a way out,
It ain't much I'm asking, I heard him say,
Gotta find me a future move out of my way,
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now,”

“Here we are, Born to be kings,
We're the princes of the universe,
Here we belong, Fighting to survive,
In a world with the darkest powers,”

“Here I am, I'm the master of your destiny,
I am the one the only one, I am the god of kingdom come,
Gimme the prize, just gimme the prize,
Give me your kings, let me squeenze them in my hands,
Your puny princes,
Your so-called leaders of your land,
I'll eat them whole before I'm done,
The battle's fought and the game is won,”

While Queen might not be perfect for the gaming table, it can certainly be inspirational. I know it has been for me!

*note - I do not deny being crazy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Busy week = Lazy Post

I'm afraid it's crazy busy this week, so don't expect to see much this week.

Next week on the other hand... well, next week is the week before Christmas. How the hell did that happen? I need another week.

Is there a ritual for that?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Dungeonmorph Dice

Yesterday I got a package in the mail... One that I've been waiting a long time to get!

My Dungeonmorph Dice arrived!!

And this is the first dungeon I rolled!

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but these are big dice, about the size of casino dice.

On a related note, has anyone heard from Dyson Logos lately?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ruin Giveaway Contest - LAST DAY TO ENTER

This is it, your last day to enter! And by entering, you can win this! All you have to do is follow the instructions below... And to clarify, the encounter can be for any system or systemless, and it can be for any setting! Just make up something cool!!

This could be yours!

What do you need to do to win this fabulous piece of terrain? There are 3 simple steps:

1. Follow my blog. If you're one of the 138 people that already does so, you're ahead of the game!
2. Write up an encounter that would take place around the ruin.
3. Post the encounter to your blog (if you have one) with a link to your post as a comment here, or (if you don't have a blog) just post it as a comment!

All entries must be received by 11:59 PM Eastern on Saturday 12/10. A discriminating panel of judges will pick the winner on Sunday.

discriminating panel of judges is waiting to be impressed

The winner will be announced sometime next week.

US entries only, unless you're willing to pay shipping.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Zombie Mice

Feris paused, leaning back against the stone wall. The flickering light of a recently discarded torch sputtered on the grimy floor amid the quickly decaying bodies. It had been a running battle, but luckily zombies don't run very well. They led them on a merry chase, picking them off a couple at a time.

Across the chamber one of the bodies groaned. Feris extended his wand, and scanned the bodies on the floor. One of the zombies, it's body broken rolled its head side to side and snapped its teeth together.

Stepping closer to finish the thing off Feris noted a mouse standing next to the zombie's head, picking at the flaking flesh. Another mouse, covered in gore, emerged from where the zombie's ear had been.

"Feris? What's going on?" Allianora asked from the doorway.

"They're eating it's brain!"

Zombie Mice Swarm
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4*
Move: 120’ (40’)
Attacks: Special
Damage: 1d6+disease
No. Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Save As: F3
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 125

Monster Type: Undead
Zombie mice will automatically cause 1d6 damage to anyone within reach of the swarm. Anyone suffering damage will need to make a save vs poison otherwise will be infected with a rotting disease that will have a 25% chance of killing them in 2d3 days. Within 24 hours of infection they will be at a -6 to all rolls, and be unable to take any action beyond moving at 1/4 speed. If the disease does not kill them the character will return to normal in 3d12 days.

Zombie Mice turn as ghouls, and suffer double damage from area effects.

Zombie Mice are otherwise normal mice that have feasted on the brains of zombies. Uninfected mice will avoid zombie mice, or if they outnumber them, will destroy them. Individually they are little threat to anyone, however when entire mischief of mice becomes infected they can be a deadly danger.

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a hirst arts fieldstone tower ruin! So far there is only 1 entry in competition!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A place of evil... part 2!

I don't have a good explination as to why I put the flock on the base already. Usually that's just about the last thing I do. I blame a combination of exhaustion and boredom.

You might also note the new piece in the middle. With only the skulls on the corner I felt it wasn't evil enough, so I built this little alter thing.

I'm thinking about painting it with a glossy black or blood red.

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a hirst arts fieldstone tower ruin!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Painting the Bell Tower

Since I want the bell tower to match with the other fieldstone pieces I’ve done, I base coated it in a medium dark brown. After the initial base coat I returned to it several times to add touch ups. One of the issues with painting fieldstone is that there are lots of little nooks and crannies that often get missed. The trick is to go over it several times, and to view it in a variety of lights and from a large number of angles. Even after doing this multiple times I still find spots here and there that show the original grey plaster.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the tower with only it’s basecoat. You’ll just have to use your imagination!

Once the base coat was done, it was time to bring in some more color. I used a combination of colors to highlight individual stones. Aside from an assortment of browns I also used grey, dark cherry, burgundy, green, and blue. These are all cheap craft paints, the type you can get 2 for $1. I avoided the orange that I’ve used before, because it was just a little too bright and stood out more than I liked.

This process actually took quite a while.

The next step is to dry brush over the entire tower with a light brown, and then a cream.

The hooded statues that sit in the alcoves were all primed with a dark brown, and highlighted with were painted separately to avoid being whacked with the different colors and dry brushing. I won’t be gluing them in till the rest of the tower is done, that way I can repaint them if I decide I don’t like them. I’m not sure how I feel about them right now.

Sorry about the crappy photos. Cellphone camera + basement lighting does not make for an ideal combination.

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a hirst arts fieldstone tower ruin!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gaming Music

Back when I played Rules Cyclopedia D&D music didn’t play any part in my gaming experience. I tended to listen to whatever was on the radio, and didn’t have any sort of music collection of my own. My limited disposable income went to other things! Games and toys mostly.

During high school, when I played 2e, music started to be incorporated into my gaming, but not so much with D+D, but rather with Vampire and Werewolf. I got my first exposure to goth culture and the various types of music that included. While it was around, and helped to set the mood, I wasn’t the music guy, and didn’t really pay too much attention to which band was which. I made very sure that I didn’t end up in charge of any WoD games by not learning the rules beyond what I needed to run my character. It was all very RP heavy anyway, so I didn’t need to.

In college, with the release of 3rd edition, I started to pay more attention to music during my games. Midnight Syndicate released an official D+D soundtrack, as well as their other mood CDs, I acquired the Conan soundtrack, then the lord of the rings soundtracks, plus some anime OSTs. These all found frequent rotation during my gaming sessions.

In my 4e game I’ve expanded the selection to include some more diverse selections, but it’s still a lot of orchestrated and fairly bombastic pieces. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to expand my gaming music horizons, at least a little...

I know that lots of grognards were enjoying a combination of punk and rock with their early D+D, and still do. While tempting, I try to avoid music with lyrics. Then again, maybe it’s worth trying? I did put on some Metallica during session 3 of Thunderspire, and it seemed to work out ok...

What do you listen to during game? Do you even play music? What should I add to my collection?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Inspirational Image - Battlefleet Gothic

Battlefleet Gothic is one of my favorite games, and I really enjoy a lot of the artwork that was in it and inspired by it, including these from Zach Graves.

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a hirst arts fieldstone tower ruin!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Déjà vu all over again

I found this via Tim Brannan's The Other Side Blog and I'm stealing the announcement pretty much word for word.

I am going to participate in another Blogfest. But this one is different.

On December 16th I am going to repost an older post of my own that I felt didn't get the benefit of a wider audience.

You can read all the details here: Cruising Altitude 2.0: The Deja Vu Blogfest

It is a gaming post, and one I think you will all like.

So join me on the 16 and I'll do something I have already done.

I need a tag for when I do one of these sorts of things... Bandwagon? Sheep? Peer pressure?

Anyone have a suggestion?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Building a Terrain Board

An illustrated report of my activities from Thursday evening (7/23/09) through Monday afternoon (7/27/09).

After dinner on Thursday night my cousins and I piled into the Rio and drove to Home Depot. We were a little worried because it was already 8:45 by this point, and we weren’t sure if it closed at 9 or 10. Luckily the answer was 10. We picked up 2 sheets of 2 foot by 4 foot by 2 inch insulation foam, 1 of 1inch, and 4 2x4 foot boards of 1/4 inch thickness. I was hoping that they would be willing to cut the pink foam for us, but no such luck.

There is no way that I can fit an 8 foot long sheet of foam into the car, at least not without leaving my cousins stranded in the Home Depot parking lot. Somehow I think my aunt wouldn’t appreciate me doing that in Baltimore at 10pm. This necessitated purchasing an instrument of destruction – in this case a knife. I wanted to get the $8 knife, but that would have required another knife to open it’s sealed plastic packaging, so I decided to get the more environmentally friendly $11 knife.

The checkout girl couldn’t get the 2” foam to scan, so she ran all 3 sheets at the 1” price, which was a nice bonus to make up for having to get the more expensive knife, though not enough to make up for the fact that I had to buy a knife at all. We then wheeled everything out to the car and set up an impromptu cutting station. We sandwiched the foam sheets between the 2*4 wood boards and used them as a guide to cut the foam. Once everything was cut and loaded into the car there was barely any space left in the back seat, so we were again faced with the prospect of abandoning at least one of my cousins in Baltimore at 10pm.

Now, to be fair, they are both black belts in karate, and both in great shape. They could kick just about anybody’s ass. On the other hand they are also skinny white boys from small town PA.

Cory decided that he could fit in the back seat, even with all the stuff we’d packed into the car, and he did. It didn’t look comfortable, and he couldn’t close the door himself, but we all made it back to the house where we unfolded Cory, and then unpacked the car.

I suppose construction officially began at that point, as we glued the foam to the boards for extra stability.

The next morning we cleaned up any rough edges on the boards, carved out hills and river and then textured the board. Now I’d spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to texture the flat surfaces of the board. Games Workshop suggests using a fine grit sand mixed with paint, or using textured paint (same thing). While it does create a pretty good texture, it also can really scratch up a paintjob. What I ended up deciding on was using course grit sand paper in generally tight circular motions to rough up the foam. It also created a lot of pink dust! After we sanded all the boards and cleaned up the mess it made, we primed the boards using a can of brown killz coat paint that I had gotten years ago to prime my Hirst Arts dungeon.

While we waited for the board to dry I played Knight of the Old Republic while my cousins, who’ve finished the game multiples times each, helped me out. We returned to the board and using cheap craft paints we added some color. It’s hard to tell, but there are 3 colors – tan, khaki green, and a forest green.

We didn’t apply the paint too thickly so it was pretty much dry right away. We used a kitchen sponge to apply the paint, as I didn’t want really solid patches of color. We also painted the river section using a variety of dark and muddy greens. Once we finished with the painting we added a flock from Woodland Scenics called earth blend. Like the paint, I didn’t want it over the whole board, just in patches, that way you can still see some of the paint. On top of that we added patches of honey color static grass.

In between painting, flocking, and static grassing we began to work on trees for the board. The goal was to make a set of trees that could be assembled quickly and cheaply. Realism wasn’t a high priority this time around, though of course it’s always nice. I already had a pile of dowels from a project Tigs worked on back before we moved, but I needed something to base them on. I decided that I would try using the hole saw drill attachment to drill out disks. Amazingly it worked pretty well. I drilled out the disks, while Cory sanded down all the edges.

Once the disks were all drilled out I needed to make the center hole big enough to insert the dowel, so I clamped each disk down and drilled out the hole one by one. Then we glued the dowels into the disks and set them aside to dry.

The next step was to take 4 and a half packs of dollar store green scrubby pads and cut out a whole bunch of disks of various sizes. These disks were then skewered onto the tree trunks. When these were all finished I gave them a heavy spray of Dark Angels Green, and then lighter sprays of a medium and a light green.

Not the most realistic trees, but once you have them all on the table with hills and minis and hamsters, you stop noticing.

The river section of the board was sequestered to the far side of the basement because of the water effect that we used. It takes about 3 days to really dry and we wanted to be sure that it didn’t get dusty. It still needs to be flocked and have static grass added to it. I’ll post pictures of that as soon as I get it done.

We finished up the board Sunday afternoon and decided to inaugurate it with an epic game of Lord of the Rings which ran from Sunday evening through till Monday afternoon. However that’s another post.

Things I’d do differently next time

1. The flock and static grass cover the texture that we spent a lot of time working on. Either go for smaller patches of flock to show off the painting and the texture, or go ahead and flock the whole table and don’t worry about surface texture.

2. If I’m going to show the texture pick the colors out beforehand and make sure I’ve got them available before I reach the painting stage.

3. 26 trees with 2” diameter bases cover a 6*4 board pretty well, and can make a heavily forested 4*4 board. Irregular shapes and roughed up edges would probably look more realistic.

4. Having a spare hill to test things out on was a good idea. Remember that for the future.

5. Home Depot doesn’t cut pink foam – bring a knife.

6. Listening to the soundtrack to all 6 Star Wars films while building a table will make you want to watch/play Star Wars.

7. A 6*4 board takes up a lot of space. An 8*4 board takes up even more space. I need to set up something to store the board when it’s not in use so the craft table can be used for other things.

8. Next time I want to do a river section (or other elevated/depressed features), rather than carving it out of 2 inch foam, use multiple thinner layers with the appropriate sections cut out. It’ll look better.

9. Keep an orc handy to check scale, even for natural features. 3-5 inch tall trees are pretty big, but also pretty realistic. Keep a Mumak handy for the same reason. Remember to reference your scale orc, mumak, and hamster often.

10. Open a window and run a fan when doing the following: melting pink foam, sanding pink foam, mixing resin, or any other activity which may compromise the already dubious air quality of the basement.

What I still want to do for this board:

1. More/better trees – Woodland Scenics has some really nice tree skeletons of a variety of sizes. For about $40 I can get 2 sets in a wide variety of sizes.

2. I’m strongly considering adding more flock to the board. Tigs thinks it’s too dark, and I’m inclined to agree with her. So get a lighter greener flock and add that to the board.

3. Barrows, ruins, hobbit holes, standing stones, Amon Sul, Amon Hen.

4. A Stargate