The Orienteering League of Codswall

datetime November 25, 2018 5:17 PM

I have a computer-y job in a department with other computer-y people. Given this, I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when, as the department expanded during my decade-long tenure from 3 humans to 14, around half of the people in the department turned out to be nerds of various stripes. As a result, we do a bit of mild group nerdery within the department– mostly lunchtime boardgames and Magic, and regular conversations about video games, superhero movies, and so on.

During one of these departmental chats in July, one of the nerds mentioned Dungeons & Dragons, and his neighbour mentioned that he had never played it, but always wanted to try. Fast-forward a few weeks, and I ended up volunteering to run a few sessions of D&D after work to let any curious parties see what the game is like.

Because most of the players were brand new to D&D and I didn’t really relish the idea of starting the first session with a forty-minute lecture explaining the thirty-eight different character classes, I decided to try out an idea proposed by Matt Colville, who is a super thoughtful dude who posts DMing advice on YouTube: since I already owned a decent collection of painted miniatures, why not handle character creation by showing the players a variety of different minis, and then having each person pick the one that they find the coolest or most evocative.

I liked this idea for several reasons. First of all, instead of having to read through all of the classes in the game to decide what they wanted to play, each player just needs to consider the 2 or 3 classes that best match the mini they picked, which dramatically reduces the amount of complexity each of them needs to wade through. Also, on a more practical level, it allowed me to frontload any miniature painting before the campaign started instead of trying to paint minis and plan adventures at the same time.

I announced the proposal to my group (more on this later), and only then did I go home, open my D&D miniatures case, and come to two realizations:

  • Realization #1: “I don’t have nearly as many D&D minis as I thought I did.”
  • Realization #2: “Wait… do I have, like, ANY female miniatures?”

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Classified Deck – Season 10 Update

datetime October 26, 2018 3:09 PM

After a bit of a delay caused by the size of the task unexpectedly quadrupling, I have finally finished updating my Classified Objective Deck for Season 10! You can download the new versions on my Infinity Tools page.

In addition to containing more objectives, the new cards needed indicators for several new elements– specialist icons, a differentiator for Normal/Extreme Mode, and– because my old cards were made before it existed– Intelcom. My old card design didn’t have any really convenient places to put these things, so I went ahead and completely redesigned the card layout to cleanly integrate the new elements. Doing this allowed me to shift things around and open up more space for the main text area, which should hopefully make things marginally easier to read.

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But… why are their heads so big?

datetime October 3, 2018 6:59 PM

There’s a goofy multiplayer format that we play in my local area. The first time we played it several years ago, someone lazily named it “Murderball”, and nobody has yet bothered to come up with a better name. In a nutshell: every player gets 100pts and always has 3 orders. When you get wiped out, you respawn a single Authorized Bounty Hunter that you can use to harass the players who are still in the game. It’s super fun. 🙂

We’ve used a large variety of proxy Bounty Hunters for Murderball over the years, but I wanted to have some proper dedicated models to use, so I decided to convert a squad of them using random models that I liked, with scratch-sculpted heads and scrounged weapons. And because I don’t want to bury the lead today, I’d like to answer the question in the post title by explaining WHY THEIR HEADS ARE SO BIG.

  1. That’s how I draw! An average human being is around 7 heads tall, but I tend to draw most characters closer to 6 heads. I grew up drawing superheroes (who skew toward an exaggerated 8-head scale), and as an adult artist, I’ve noticed myself rejecting the overexaggerated body types I drew all throughout my teens by overcorrecting really hard in the other direction, with more subdued musculature and larger, more expressive faces. People comment on it frequently when I post my art, but at this point in my artistic journey, I’m pretty settled on my preference. 🙂
  2. Related to #1: I just like larger heads on my models. 🙂 It’s easier to paint an expressive face on bigger heads, and I would rather have a goofy-looking model with the face I want than a correctly-scaled model that my ham-handed painting can’t make look right.
  3. With that said: I messed up. I like bigger heads, but these ended up even bigger than I had intended due to my sloppiness. In particular…
  4. It’s a side-effect of the way I sculpt heads. I often credit the sculpting videos on MiniatureMentor.com with bridging me from a beginner to an intermediate sculptor (where I remain to this day! 😛 ). The most influential video tutorial for me was one on Green Stuff sculpting by James Van Schaik, and his technique of (1) creating a skull, (2) putting eyeballs in it, and (3) sculpting the head around that core once it’s hardened will, if not done correctly, result in an oversized head. Recognizing this limitation, I’ve recently tried some experiments in a different head-sculpting technique that isn’t prone to the same problem, with good results. So today’s project may turn out be the last time I make such obviously misproportioned heads. We’ll see. 🙂
  5. And finally: It doesn’t help that the models I’m working on top of are ridiculously skinny. As you’ll see over the course of today’s post, two of the models with custom heads are built on top of incredibly skinny female models, while one of them is built on top of a more realistically proportioned male model. And while all three heads are roughly the same size, the one on the male body barely looks out of place, while the two with female bodies look like lollipops. ~_~

So, there you go. Some intention + some accident = bobblehead bounty hunters.

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Balloon Animals

datetime July 3, 2018 11:49 PM

  1. Despite all appearances, I am, in fact, still alive.
  2. I didn’t post for 2+ months because the projects I started kept hitting walls of various sorts that prevented me from writing them up.
  3. It’s all good now, though.
  4. Today’s thing isn’t about army men, but it is very cute.

My sister is a better adult than I am. She has a more normal job, does normal human things like go outside and eat different food every day, and much to my relief, she volunteered to do the “family” thing. That last one was particularly appreciated for its effect of reducing certain lines of badgering from our shared mother, and the whole topic will be settled for good in a few months when Sandy provides my mom the grandchild she so stereotypically pines for.

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A Gift Twice Given

datetime April 22, 2018 12:08 AM

I basically only have one friend, and it’s kind of surprising to me how well that’s working out.

If we were to rewind five or six years, I would be hanging out with quite a few different circles of people– all gamers of varying stripes, but technically still people. I had my D&D group; a handful of Warmachine players I was still close to despite having soured on the game itself; the Infinity group I had just started to poke my nose into; a small group of friends I met with on Tuesdays for cards and board games; and even a group of “my friend’s friends” whom I occasionally joined for random movies and games. In most of these groups, there would be people I enjoyed hanging out with, people who were… let’s go with “inoffensive”… and people for whom I spent considerable mental energy devising plans to avoid having to ever speak with.

Here is an approximate venn diagram of these groups circa 2012:

As you can see, I considered my entire board game group to be good friends, with maybe one or two people from every other group warranting semi-regular communication outside the physical confines of our gaming store. There were certainly positive aspects to having a social circle of this size, however it was also very stressful for me– people usually don’t guess this based on my hilarious, charming, and generally spectacular personality, but I’m actually quite introverted. I can put on a dazzling show for a few hours, but when it’s done, I need to crawl back into my dark cave and shut the world out while I recharge for a few days.

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