Keeping A Painting Journal


Between a sluggish painting speed and the occasional hiatus I’ve occasionally found myself at a loss when trying to remember how I painted older models.  I can usually remember the technique I used but don’t always recall specifics like paint mixing ratios.   Late last year I finally decided it might be a good time to start keeping a basic painting journal.  There’s a number of electronic options out there, from Google Docs to a wiki (either personal hosted wiki or on a stick).  At some point I’ll probably transfer most of my notes over to some sort of taggable or sortable format but for now I’ve found it most convenient to keep a small notebook and pen next to my painting area so I can jot down notes or paint recipes as needed.

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Sweet Ride

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and put together a blargpost.  As it is gaming has been fairly routine for me lately.  Not that that’s bad, but it means there’s not a whole lot that jumps out and says “Hey, write about me!” But our last few RPG sessions saw an interesting reaction between players, GM, and props.

Our current game is a Sci-Fi setting using the Savage Worlds ruleset and have been using some of his son’s Lego Minifigs as miniatures when we play. A few sessions ago we were given a task to perform and hummer-esque vehicle to take to our destination. We initially started with a couple large flat Lego pieces to represent the vehicle but our nerdiness couldn’t let the abstract stand.  So while we played, a couple of us started putting together a vehicles with whatever pieces were in the box of Legos near the table. Thus, the “Sweet Ride” was born. And no, before you ask, you’re never to old for Legos. Ever.

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Manaburst: Session 2 (Bastion)

Nika was struck with a moment of shock as she found herself being yanked away from the plane of Broken and through the borderpost after Ada. There was no point in voicing her complaint though – no one would hear her as she shot along through the Blind Eternities.

Surviving the trip required a small portion of her attention.  Her spark did most of the work, keeping her body functioning while the alien energies pressed in, but with a little effort she was even able to keep them from her. There was little else to do but wait for the trip to end.

As Nika felt herself slip from the Blind Eternities, she quickly opened mouth to voice her complaint.   But instead of a fresh breath of air to use to expel her curse, she nearly choked on a mouthful of brackish muddy water.

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Final Planeswalkers & Campaign Illustrations

The last two planeswalkers of our party joined the game after the first session. If you’ve been reading the Manaburst session write-ups you’ve already met Nero. Ibrand appeared in the following session, and is the final member of the group. I’ve also started doing something a little bit different with the planeswalkers’ images as seen below, so have included the original planeswalkers a second time with their updated portraits.


Ada’s original conception was that of a construct capable of aiding its master in research and ritual.  She quickly became  indispensable  to his experiments, able to observe and record all that transpired while his concentration was elsewhere.

Many years after her creation, Ada was given sentience when a powerful spell cast by her master  inadvertently  bound a being of primordial magic within her shell.  The reaction not only destroyed the ritual but also flung Ada from the plane, sending her careening through the Blind Eternities for the first time.

Concept of Magic: Flow of Aether

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FATE & Abstract Combat Mapping

FATE uses an interesting system regarding positioning in combat and the like, grouping areas into zones and adding borders to specify difficulties in mobility.  It’s a pretty simple system, but still one that can benefit from a physical representation on the tabletop when a large number of parties are involved.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of miniature use in role-playing games, but for our Manaburst game I wanted to try something different.  I was worried that if the players – who were new to FATE – saw the miniatures on the table it might distract from the looser, narrative way FATE designates location in a scene.  So I decided to try something new:

A sample combat zone setup for a boarding action.

Whenever a map is necessary, I sketch one out on a pad of paper and thumbtack it down to a couple cork tiles.  We then use straight pins to mark locations and move them around as necessary.  The pack of small push pins I purchased contained three different colored pins, which helps keep from confusing groups on the map.

For the PCs or  important  NPCs I use larger pins, with the PCs’ getting extra attention.  I had asked the players for pictures of their characters before the campaigns started so I could surprise them with their pins at the first game.  I cropped and resized these pics before printing them out as two .75″ x .75″ squares side by side which  were wrapped around pins and taped into place.  It makes it easier for each player to quickly see their own pin given the smaller size of the maps we use.

So far the only complaint has been that the maps can be a little small, but that could be easily resolved with some larger cork tiles.  Other than that, though, the process has been quick and abstract, allowing more room for narration.  Seems like a success to me.

Sleeving & Storing WM/H Stat Cards

Stat cards are a tremendous benefit to the game of warmachine and hordes, allowing quick reference to the entire suite of your models’ rules and abilities, as well as providing a place to track damage done to multi-wound models. They’re definitely an invaluable resource to the game, but as expansion books are published, each faction gets access to more and more models and units. For the player that means more and more cards in their collection to keep track of.

When I first started playing, most locals sleeved their cards individucally and kept them in a deck box. I quickly adopted this method and found a couple products that I really liked – Dragon Shield card sleeves and Ultra Pro deck boxes.  I’ve used this set up for years – it’s quick and dirty but it works.  I never had any problems at all in actual play, but as my army collections started getting bigger, keeping the cards sorted became harder – I started chucking whatever I had played back in the box after each game.  Searching for cards when building armies on the fly started taking longer and longer, so I started looking at alternatives.

Alternatively the Dragon Shield Box will double as a cheap (but less durable) deck box.

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Word of Everblight vs. Spirit of Everblight

The word of the law vs. the spirit of the law.  Whenever people get together to play a game of any type they have to decide where on that spectrum their game play experience will lie.  Most cooperative and/or casual games will lean towards the latter, but most  competitive  games sit bunched around the former.

Each gamer has their own opinions on the philosophy of game design, and I’m no different.  In my mind, if a game is designed to be played in a  competitive  format, then it should be designed to abide by the letter of the law.  By designing for the more strict guideline, those who prefer the more casual and/or want to tweak their experience – to make the rules feel more fluffy or appropriate to their own vision of the game – can do so.  Designing from the opposite standpoint results in a game that works for those on the spirit end of the spectrum but will likely negatively affect the word end of the spectrum, as the rules will either fail to  accommodate  certain  interactions or maybe even resolve them in a manner the game designers didn’t desire.

Privateer Press seems to take the word-emphasized  view of design, which I certainly appreciate.  Each incarnation of their Steamroller tournament system has had its flaws, but for the most part they design their game and format so that it can be played in a highly  competitive  venue and not break down to dicing-off rules interpretations.  In the past they’ve even made rulings that seem to go counter to how a rule was meant to be played when it preserved the word of the rule.  For example, the ruling on MkI Vilmon that allowed him to run and still use his Impervious Wall ability.  The rules supported the tactic, so whether or not it was intended it was supported (until the rule was reworded in MkII).

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Manaburst: Session 1, Part 2 (Broken)

Nero glided over the broken terrain like a shadow, moving with inhuman speed and catching Grrrk well before reaching the designated ruins. He snatched the goblin from his feet and tossed him into the deep shadows behind the wall before darting around to the sunward side where he danced up the stones as if he weighed no more than a feather.

As creatures followed, scrambling and seaching for footholds, Nero called back to Grrrk, who was effortlessly drawing up strength from the stones beneath him. The wall slowly began  toppling  over, while simultaneously the ground on the far side started to rumble uncontrollably.

Nero tried to leap free but had underestimated the goblin’s destructive capabilities and caught a glancing blow to the side, knocking the wind out of him as he tumbled away. The sunblights were not so lucky. The wall came crushing down, sandwiching them between the crumbling slab and the trembling earth.

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Manaburst: Session 1, Part 1 (Broken)

As the session began, the planewalkers slowly regain consciousness in a large domed chamber, lit only by a faint reddish glow filtering down a stairway through the chamber’s only entrance. After a few moments of recovery, Gaeleth illuminated the small room with divine radiance and the planeswalkers tried to get their bearings.

The only feature of the room to stand out was the circular engraving in the center of the floor, but before anyone could investigate they realized something was off. Torvolis was missing and another man had appeared – a planeswalker named Nero. Accusations were curbed when Grrrk and Ada vouched for him, having traveled with him before when they and a fourth planeswalker named Ibrand had attacked a plane under demonic control and decimated one of their strongholds.

The group started looking around for answers to where they were, how they had gotten there, where Torvolis had gone. Gaeleth followed Ada, illuminating the chamber so that she could examine the carvings and the two found the artifact Grrrk had swiped from the magnus on Whitesea laying against the wall, smoking slightly.

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