Friday, September 28, 2012

Back on the Grid

Hello dear readers. I apologize for my nearly month-long absence, but I have been on vacation for the past two weeks! More specifically, I have been on vacation in Italy! More more specifically, my vacation in Italy was largely spent on a farm in the middle of the Apennine Mountains in the Marche region.

Let me tell you, it was glorious and provided a great deal of inspirational fodder that I do not doubt will work its way into my creative endeavors. From the characters I met to the tourist maps I collected in the cities I explored with the fiancee... all gold.

Some of the cooler things I learned include:

Old Italian farmhouses were built with a specific heating plan in mind. The ground floor housed the animals, whose body heat rose to the first floor providing a little extra heat for the farmhands. The body heat from the farmhands then rose to the top floor where the land owners lived. Their body heat helped supplement the heat from the fireplaces, which were set into the walls of the top floor.

Italian hunters have a phrase equivalent to the declaration "break a leg" used to wish actors good luck. If you meet an Italian hunter, be sure to say: "In bocca al lupo!" which translates to "In the mouth of the wolf". The hunter will likely respond by throwing the metal horns and saying "crepi il lupo" "Death to the wolf!"

The equivalent statement for fishermen is "In culo alla belena!" or "Into the ass of the whale!" to which the response would be "Fammi luce!" or "Give me light!"

Just exploring some 1000 year-old ruins with my sweetie.

Anyway, I just got back last night and am in the process of uploading photos. This album should work, if you want to check it out... if it doesn't, it's probably my FB security settings.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tutorial: Flying on the Cheap

As the PCs in my campaign continue to rise in levels, they find themselves facing increasingly more complex enemies and wielding increasingly more powerful spells. Lately, they've been frequently dealing with baddies possessed of the logistically problematic ability to fly and have often countered this ability with their own fly spells.

Flying characters are a pain in the butt to distinguish from their grounded counterparts when playing on a battle grid, especially if one character decides to move directly over or under another. This weekend, I finally acted on something I've been thinking about for a long time and built myself a cheap but effective flying rig, which allows me to display flying minis above the battle mat in a way that can be quickly adjusted to a wide range of specific altitudes. Even better, it only took a few minutes to build each rig and only cost me a few bucks to buy the supplies.

Fly my pretty! Fly!
The rig I built will support a plastic mini of up to large size or a pewter mini of up to medium size. It accommodates an altitude variation between 10 and 60 feet above the battle mat.

 Here's what you need.

The items on the left are for the bare-bones model.
The stuff on the right is used to improve the mini holder.

Basic Supplies:

All of these should be available from a well-stocked hobby/craft store

  • 1 doll stand (2 inch base $0.99 at the craft store)
  • 1 metal rod (a pack of five 3/32" diameter aluminum rods was $3.50 at the craft store)
  • 1 small clothes pin (a 24 pack of 2" long pins was $3.50)
  • sticky tack (I had some lying around the house, but you can get it at any office supply or craft store)
  • ruler
  • permanent marker

Additional supplies for a better mini holder:

  • masking tape
  • small paperclips
  • cork (I used a coaster from a pack we picked up at Ikea. A bit of shelf liner would work too.)
  • craft magnets (I had these lying around the house.)
  • matte knife
  • glue stick

Building the basic stand:

Step 1
Step 1: Pull the top out of the doll stand and drop in the rod. Measure the height of the stand to get your minimum setting. Mine looks like about 2 inches (10 feet in game scale)

Step 2
Step 2: Pull out the rod and mark your minimum setting and 1-inch intervals along the length of the rod.

Step 3

Step 3: Put the rod back in the doll stand and add a bit of sticky tack at the base and around the top part of the doll stand. Make sure the rod is relatively vertical before placing the sticky tack.

Step 4
Step 4: Clip the small opening of the clothespin around the rod.

The basic version is finished by adding a bit of sticky tack or double-stick tape to the top of the clothespin for attaching the minis. I found that the sticky tack caused minis to attempt a sort of bungie jump off the stand after only a couple minutes. That's why I went on to experiment with improved platforms.

Improving the Platform:

My solution to the mini holder is still experimental. It works pretty well, but it could definitely still be improved. Here's how to make it.

Step 1A
Step 1B
Step 1C

Step 1: Bend a small paperclip as shown above and check to make sure the end fits through the center of the clothespin's spring. If necessary, add a bit of masking tape to ensure a snug fit. Make sure you use metal paperclips that will stick to magnets.

Step 2A

Step 2B
Step 2: Cut a bit of cork in the shape of your magnet and glue the two together.

Step 3: Stick the magnet on the paperclip and attach the clothespin to the rod. You now have an aerial platform for your minis!

Making adjustments:

To adjust the altitude, it is probably easiest to remove the mini before sliding the clothespin up or down.
If your mini topples the flying rig over, try bending the doll stand slightly forward to keep the center of gravity over the base.

Now you're ready to fly!


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