In my quest to get signatures from all of the special guests at GaryCon VIII, I tracked down Jeff Perren, in the miniatures warfare room.
He graciously signed his blurb in my program.
During the Growing Up Gygax session I had attended just a short while before, Luke mentioned that Jeff Perren had disavowed the fantasy portion of Chainmail, and that it was all Gary. So I asked him if he was getting ready to play Chainmail, at the sandtable where he was sitting, and he said, “No, Cavaliers and Roundheads.” Then he said something I didn’t expect. “I have never played Chainmailby the rules as published.”
He was gracious enough to let me get out my cellphone and let me record his re-statement of what he told me.
I stopped recording too soon. Jeff went on to talk about the last time he played against Gary in 2006. I believe the picture of them together in the program guide is of that day.
NOTE: If I am not the first to ask this question and publicize his answer, please let me know with a formal citation of the source.
I began with washing them with warm soapy water and gently scrubbed the non-painted ones with an old toothbrush.
After letting them air dry a few hours, I painted them with a coat of white Testors acrylic as a primer. I know there is a special primer, but my hand is not the steadiest for this detail work, and my eyes don’t see those small details so well. I finally have the patience to do a good job, but my hands aren’t as steady and my eyes aren’t as goo up close. Well, I have been nearsighted since junior high, and now have bifocals, but I have to take of my glasses to see anything closer than about 6-8 inches, like the back of my hand or when I am shaving. So I am curious to see how well this turns out. So we’ll call it an experiment. I don’t think I’ll have people seeking me out to do their miniatures, unless their eyes are in worse shape than mine.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to paint and let dry and repeat to get each part painted. I focused on the big parts, the cloaks. I let them dry overnight after each step. So instead of one article showing all the progress and the final result. I will break this up into multiple postings.
It takes up my work space to spread out my game materials. I have to use that space because I can close the door to keep my son’s cats out. The last thing I need is cats breaking or hiding these.
So here are the before and after priming pictures. Yes, those are blue shop towels under them. Much thicker than regular paper towels and I can wipe off excess paint from the rush without it soaking through.
Here are the after painting the cloaks & boots pictures. Yes, I know, that black is really dark, but it is a work in progress. It is only paint after all, and I can just start over if I goof it up or don’t like the end result. I had to take off my glasses so I could see the details when I had to hold them close. Do I get extra XP because I didn’t get paint on my glasses?
Crayons for a project in the works. I remember when the 64 box came out. Now they have huge boxes. 64 is enough for me. Coincidentally, I graduated from high school with the current president of Crayola. (We are almost related. My great-grand uncle was his grandfather’s step father. Small world.)
Finally, Contact Paper to laminate maps and things. I’ll soon have a posting on that.
I got my Hero Forge backer’s mini on Saturday, that I ordered in December, and wrote about in my Hero Forge Update.
It was well packed and arrived undamaged.
It looks like it has dust on it, but that is an illusion of the texture.
Now I need to get the supplies needed to paint this and my original miniatures from back in the day. Since I am running out of month to finish two RPG related tasks, that will have to wait. No promises on the when, but I will post pictures when I get them done. I will show progress, etc. I will take better quality pictures and dig out my homemade light box when I start the painting process.
Now for pictures of the unpacking. Can you tell it was raining? Actually, this was before the rain and the warm weather melted the snow and ice on my roof and it dripped down on my front steps where the mail carrier left it.
It was wrapped in large bubble, bubble wrap with a layer of the same type of bubble wrap to ensure that it did not bounce around in the box.
Hero Forge is one of the Kickstarters that I backed. they are a victim of their own success and are backed up due to the volume of orders placed in the last few weeks, and rather than a planned two – four weeks until shipping, it is delayed to be four weeks. I received a generic email a couple of days ago, and today I received a personalized email about my specific order.
Here is the informational email I received.
Thank you for shopping with Hero Forge, the internet’s new home for customized, 3D printed tabletop miniatures!
In a response to requests for status updates, we are reaching out to users whose orders have finished processing and have been sent to our manufacturer to be forged. We wanted to let you know that your order 107996 has finished processing and has been sent to our manufacturer to be forged.
While it normally takes up to 4 weeks for your miniature(s) to arrive, we have experienced very heavy order volume during our launch and encountered some delays. This has resulted in some orders taking longer to be fulfilled and may extend delivery times by a up to a matter of weeks. We are working to address these setbacks in order to return to the 2-4 week fulfillment speed that we would normally provide.
Character: Griswald — Material:ultra_detail_28mm
Note that we have been implementing several updates and tweaks to our models and poses to improve the quality of our 3D printed miniatures. We have included high resolution renders of your figure(s) below which include any updates. We invite you to review and verify they are as expected, though no reply is necessary unless you have any questions, concerns, or comments.
If you have any questions about your order please contact our customer service team firstname.lastname@example.org with your order number, account e-mail address, and the contents of your order confirmation e-mail.
We hope to see you again soon! HeroForge.com
I’m in no hurry, I had beta access for nearly two months and due to my schedule, I did not order until December. Having regular updates to let me know that things are progressing is great, at least I know where things stand, and maybe by the time of MarmaladeDog, I will have a sample to show….
Tonight I finally made time to go online and design my mini and place the order. My Kickstarter pledge for $30.00 gets me a detail mini and free shipping. As one of the backers I have access to the beta hexagonal base, for no additional cost.
What is really cool, is that you can name and save the character and then click the share button to get a link to that character. My mini is my interpretation, limited by the options of the Hero Forge site, to make Griswald Stewart, my long-time character in my brother, Robert’s AD&D 1st Edition game. Griswald is a half-elf fighter/cleric/magic-user of 10th/10th/11th level , and is the one for whom Robert drew the wolf’s head image that is Griswald’s personal symbol. Griswald was the only one with a magic weapon when the group he was with encountered a wolfwere. Slaying this magical beast gave Griswald the appellation, “The Wolf”. Griswald’s father was a hillsman, who are based on the Scottish clans, so he is supposed to be wearing a kilt, it is the lower half of robes.
I will show pictures of the unboxing when it arrives.
I will now have to locate paints and other supplies to prepare it. I will do my best to put the wolf symbol on the shield. I will have a post or two on the progress as I paint it. That could take some time, as January is my busiest time of year at work, plus my first grandchild is due in mid-January, so I may not get to it until sometime in February.
I found the Hero Forge website to be easy to use. I could have chosen from many different genres, like science fiction, western, modern, or east-Asian. You pick a genre, body type, racial type and design from head to toe including facial expression. It is all point and click. The low end mini is $15 and is not suitable for painting. The detail mini is designed to hold paint, and there are three inch and six inch versions available, for a big increase in cost. Standard shipping is $5.00. It is also very cool that you can change your view of the mini in design to make sure you know how the whole thing looks and if it is to your liking.
If you want a mini that is massively customizeable, this is a quick and easy way to get one, although I find the cost to be one to limit my purchases to either favorite characters or major NPCs to use in my game. I only have eight lead/pewter miniatures from back in the day, so I don’t use minis in games I run.
I will include further impressions of the actual mini as part of my unboxing post in the coming days….
Google+ Hangouts are a way to do group conference calls online. They can be just voice, or mix the use of video and voice.
Roll20 is a Virtual Table Top (VTT). It works in your web browser, so it can work on a computer, laptop, tablet, or even a phone. From my experience, I prefer a larger screen. The display has an area that is the “table-top”. It can hold fancy maps of terrain, buildings, dungeons, etc, or just a grid to keep track of marching order or positions of objects, players, and monsters. Roll20 has integration with Google+ Hangouts. You accept the invitation to the G+ Hangout and sign in when it starts. You also sign into Roll20 when it is time. I signed into Roll20 early, so I don’t know if joining the hangout would take me to Roll20 or not.
I have seen YouTube videos of past Google+ Hangouts, and have had invitations to them before, but never had the time to get involved in one. It does not require the use of video. That it only useful if you want to see the other players. If you don’t have a webcam or don’t want to be on video, you just need a microphone so others can hear you, and decent speakers so you can hear them. A headset with a microphone would work, as it appears some other players were using. The nice things about using G+ Hangouts is that it showed who was speaking, either by the video of the speaker going to the center of the screen, or showing the picture displayed by those not using video. Having the hangout window open covers part of the screen. It is not required for it to be open, but I found it helpful to have a window just big enough open to see who was speaking. That made it more like a face-to-face session. If you have two monitors, it would work better to have it on one screen and the VTT on the other.
I have a Roll20 account, it is free to use, but for a fee, you can get some more bells and whistles. Those are not necessary to run or join a game. I have the basic, free account. I have gone through the Roll20 tutorial about how to do things. You can display different maps, with a grid. You can use tokens for players, monsters, and items. There is a library of free tokens and maps, and you can upload your own. For a fee, you can get specialized tokens and maps that give you more options. It also features a dice roller that just says what dice was rolled, pus any modifiers and gives the result. It has an option to show 3-D dice that roll across the VTT, but it is slow and slows down the game. To roll, you either have to type a command in the chat window, or set up a macro with frequently used rolls. For example, “/r d20” rolls a d20. As a GM, you can have multiple Roll20 campaigns/games, and as a player, you can participate in multiple games. There are multiple layers that can be displayed and the GM can see things on the GM only layer
The game I participated was Vault of Time hosted by the founder of the Friday Night D&D: Next Google+ Community. As the name says, it is Friday night. The game was slated to start at 9:00 PM. To play, you roll up a 10th level character using the D&D Next beta play test rules. I had signed up to the D&D Next beta at Wizards of the Coast, so I had the latest rules. D&D Next is D&D 5.0 and is slated for release this summer. This was the more challenging part of the whole thing. I rolled up a character using real dice, then I had to read through a PDF on character creations, then classes, then races, then equipment. I started about 6:30 PM and was “done” with my character about 8:30. I am old school, so I know how to roll up a character and get started in short order. D&D Next can be played that way, but it has been influence by all version s of D&D. I have played D&D Basic and 1st Edition, and had minor exposure to 2nd edition. I have no exposure to D&D 3.0, 3.5, or 4.0. As I understand it, the later versions of D&D, i.e. 3.0 and later, have all the feats, skills, and abilities that are not part of D&D or AD&D. I did not have time to read and understand what choices to make for feats, etc. so I had as close to an AD&D dwarven fighter as imaginable.
Playing the game.
I signed in to Roll20 early and there were only two other players. One invited me to play poker. Roll20 can simulate a deck of cards for situations that require use of cards. The actual game session started about ten minutes late. The GM had been sick last week and cancelled last week’s session. For this week, he had not had time to get maps, etc. uploaded to Roll20, so we just used a grid over a graphic of a stone floor. We have tokens with the names of each player to show marching order, etc. The VTT has a whiteboard type feature, so the GM could draw the rooms and doors we encountered. This game is just a group of players who get together and play through the same dungeon, and my character was just there, no explanation, etc. (I don’t have a problem with this, as the idea was for me to learn and have fun.) The regulars in this game may have started at tenth level, but had over 100 hit points, I only had 71. They were like 20th level or something. The all male group of players were in the 30 to 50 age range, give or take. There were several wizards in the group, and they had all kinds of spells going all over the place. My understanding is that you can play D&D Next with a subset of the rules to be closer to D&D/AD&D, or have all the bells and whistles and make a first level character that is a demi-god. I definitely see why later versions of D&D have been described as emulating video games like WOW or LOTRO. As a basic fighter, my character was only good for taking up space, moving, and fighting. I ended up being the only character in the session to take a hit, and lost 16 hit points, but was healed at the end of the damage inducing encounter of 15 hit points.
I deferred to other players a lot as I was there to learn how this online role playing format worked. I found a group of guys that reminded me a lot of other groups of gamers I have played with over the years. There was a lot of non play related banter, and meta-gaming. The players spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do in some situations, sort of like my ex and I got into when we were trying to decide what restaurant to go to. I kept expecting the DM to have a random encounter come and give us trouble for dawdling. There were no random encounters. We could have done a lot more exploration of the dungeon/caverns we were in, but were caught up in lots of back and forth over what should have been quick decisions. There was no elected leader, and the DM did not enforce order or keep us focused on the game. There was very little role playing of people speaking as their characters. That’s ok, I can play either way. I did try to roll play my dwarf in a way to move things along.
Our first obstacle was a slow moving underground stream about five feet deep and twenty feet wide. We spent 20 or so minutes trying to decide/figure out what to do. The next obstacle was a magic archway with an ominous inscription that could be interpreted as something good or bad. No one wanted to go through it, but we spent 20+ minutes with the wizards arguing about how to dispel a permanent magic item they had no clue what it did. Finally, we went the other way and the next ominous sign only delayed us for about five minutes. We went to a room with a brass door and opened it to find a room with two doors on the north, east, and west walls, total 6 doors. We started working out way around the room and two rooms had two wights we easily slew in two or three rounds, two more rooms had four juju zombies that took a little longer. The DM said that he levelled up the zombies so they would challenge us. I was hit in the second of those rooms. The next to last door had a passage. We decided to check out the other room and it had a wight. We slew the wight and ended the session about 1:30 PM. The DM said we each got 28,775 experience points. That is enough to put me to 11th level. The DM said he did not divide the XP. In earlier rooms we did find a +1 sword and a ring of levitation and one pair of wights was guarding a potion of flying. Not dripping with magic or treasure, but XP wise seemed pretty easy. What is odd is that I needed less than 28,000 XP to go from 10th level to 11th level. All classes use the same experience point advancement chart. The DM rolled actual dice and was on video, so we saw him look down to roll. It reminded me of DMs rolling their dice behind the screen.
I had fun learning about the online role playing tools and playing and laughing with a group of gamers. D&D Next is not my thing, at least not all the feats, etc. The players tell the DM what they can or can’t do and what they need to roll to do things. I think the DM should set the parameters. There are so many options for a simple fighter, that it felt like I was playing a spellcaster in AD&D. A fighter should not be so difficult to create or play, but that’s because I learned how over 30 years ago.
As for the tools of online roleplaying I like what I see. Google+ is just the means of gathering together, and Roll20 is the table where we gather round. Roll20 is flexible enough to allow just a blank grid to show marching order, terrain/dungeon, objects, and monsters. You don’t need miniatures or a fancy map to play, but if you want fancy, you can do it. For the harried DM who is short of preparation time, I can see the value of using it to show basic positions and for rolling dice.
I have an AD&D/OSRIC game I plan to participate in on Wednesday to see how another DM does it.
I will do a few more sessions to get familiar with things before I dip my toes in the water to run my own game(s).
Here is a picture of what we saw when fighting the wight in the last room before play ceased.I forgot to mention that one of the wizards created a zombie from the remains of one of the juju zombies. No one seemed to have an issue with that, so alignment did not make a big difference in this game.
[EDIT] I forgot to mention sound. Roll20 has a feature to allow you to play background music and sounds. There is a collection of royalty free music, and you can upload your own. There are also other music/sounds available if you join their fee plan.
During our play another player was playing music. I don’t have a problem with music during play if it complements what is going on. I found that in the environment of a Google+ Hangout it was distracting from play. It was not my kind of music, I’m not sure what it was, and to me, did not fit. Also it was louder than it should have been at times. A way to put it in the background would have helped.
The other issue was on my end. I live across the street from the house next to the train tracks going through town. We have about five or six streets from one end of town to the other that cross the tracks. The Federal law requires the horn to be blown at each crossing. I am used to it and tune it out, so I was then conscious of it and muted the sound when there was a train. I will have to use a microphone that I can limit what it picks up so I don’t blast out the others and have to mute my microphone to avoid interfering with play. This is a drawback to running a game of my own.
We could not afford a lot of miniatures. We often used the redcoats and continentals you could order from the back of comic books, since they were small. We we lucky if every player had a miniature of their character.
We used Ral Partha mostly. I know there were a lot of companies doing them back then. You would pick up a package of goblin archers, some orcs. Slowly those who DM’d the most built up a collection.
Miniatures were not needed most of the time. Usually we only used them for the party to show marching/riding order or where we were relative to each other. A big piece of paper or wet erase mat would then have marks for the enemies, or a unique die, Lego, small Lincoln Log, etc.
We have played with nothing more than X’s and O’s or initials on the mat or paper to distinguish players from monsters.
Not all miniatures were painted, and not all that were painted were painted well.
[EDIT] – Here are pictures of my entire miniature collection. All but one is from Ral Partha, 1979. The skeleton, I am not sure of, and I can’t read what is on the bottom of the three-pack minis. They all have lead, and the warning on the back of the box mentions it. the cool thing about the three stage minis is that you could change your character’s pose mid-game, or you had three minis for whatever you needed.
I have also participated in the Hero Forge Kickstarter at the level to get my own mini. This will be fun! It has four days to go as of February 13, 2014.