More on 3D terrain and gaming


No, the above photo isn’t my own cavern/dungeon, but I have something similar and can add to it pretty easily.

But I’ve been wondering more and more lately about the use of terrain in my games. I love the terrain myself, but using 3D terrain makes the game play differently than using battle maps or my old digital desk. The terrain looks incredible and the ability to take tactics visually and intuitively into the third dimension is very nice, but the logistical activities that are involved in transporting, setting up, moving around, reconfiguring and otherwise messing with the terrain is something that impacts game time.

If you just put down the terrain the PCs can interact with as they move around then you are constantly adding, removing and shuffling heavy blocks of terrain around, knocking over minis, replacing them where they need to be, etc. If you put down a huge area of terrain (like above) then the players can see the whole area at once and that gives them knowledge the PCs don’t have, which can impact how they decide to explore an area.

One possibility is setting up a large area but covering it with something and removing the cover as the PCs explore, but that requires having the time to set up a large area in advance, which I will have to wait until I have my own gaming room to do.

What are your thoughts on using 3D terrain?

Contemplating gaming in new house

Well, as of tomorrow we should officially have our house on the market. Our real estate agent feels confident that we should have it sold within 90 days. I hope so, we really do need to move. The commute is just killing us. One hopefully positive aspect of moving is that I’ll be able to host game activities in my own house instead of always going to someone else’s house. So I’ve been contemplating what that means. Of course that means my mind tends to think of stuff like this:


Cleaning up and getting organized (again)

I’ve posted before about the cleanup activities I’ve done in my office/game room. I am afraid that have to admit that I can be ridiculously disorganized and sloppy about some things, and my gaming room had been one of them. Then we decided to sell the house meaning I had to box up tons of stuff to “declutter” the house, which meant for several weeks my entire house was a mess of piles of stuff as we tried to decide what to keep, what to store and what to just throw out or donate.

Well, as of this morning the decluttering, painting and reorganizing of my office/game room is complete.

The above photo is of my trays full of cast Hirst blocks and my cases that I carry with me when I am running a campaign. Since I live far in the mountains I can’t run games at my house, nobody wants to drive this far to game. Anyway those are two rolling “drawer sets” each with seven drawers that are roughly 1’x1’x3″, and most of them are full. So roughly four cubic feet of Hirst Arts blocks. Once we get moved I’m going to be making stuff out of them. 🙂

This photo is of the top shelf of the same closet my Hirst Arts blocks are in. The foam “block” in the center of the photo is actually a stack of about a dozen foam miniatures cases, each about 1’x2′ and of varying heights depending on what sort of minis are inside. Basically that stack has over a thousand miniatures. The plastic cases on each side either have more Hirst Arts blocks, uncased miniatures or raw materials for making terrain or miniatures. Two or three of the cases are literally packed full of my dragon minis.

It’s sort of nice having the room all cleaned up, but at the same time I know that my working on minis or terrain is probably going to be on hiatus until we get this house sold and moved to a new one… Sigh.

Entering the realm of bard-dom…

halfling bard

I’ve played a lot of characters in D&D or its variants. Fighters, rangers, wizards, druids, sorcerers, rogues (or thieves), clerics, even a witch now.

But there are two classes I have rather deliberately and pointedly avoided for decades. Yes, decades.

One is the paladin. The other is the bard. I avoid them for entirely different reasons. I avoid the paladin because I find the role playing constraints and GM or other player expectations to be too severe. I’m not much of a “black and white” morality kind of guy, and paladins are all about that. But I haven’t played a bard because… well…

Bards suck.

I mean even in the Order of the Stick online webcomic (online webcomic, that’s redundant isn’t it? Oh well…) the bard is the comedy relief of the party. Even the fundamental concept of the bard strikes nothing but laughter into the heart of most gamers. “Look out, he’s going to … SING!”

But I’ve decided to take the plunge and will be playing a bard in an upcoming campaign, assuming we can find a time when everyone can play. Yes, a bard. A halfling bard at that. So I’ve decided not only to play a class that is woefully unsuited for combat, I’ve picked the least combat suitable race too.

“Sparky” is his name. I haven’t yet created a miniature for him, but I will. Hopefully it will turn out better than my crappy miniature for Gil the Wonder Gnome. It almost has to, really.

So, why a bard? Well, mostly because the party we have already has all the other standard roles all filled, and I just wanted to finally take the chance to play a class I’ve avoided forever.

I am doing what I can to make him a competent member of the team, but mostly his focus is going to be on performing, diplomacy, bluffing and sneaking around in the dark. In combat he’s mostly going to hide behind the big beefy dudes and fling a sling stone out from time to time. Having picked the “detective” archetype, my bard won’t even have the ability to buff the party with the bard’s signature ability, the “sing a song to buff the party” ability called “inspire courage.” That’s sort of deliberate, and I certainly won’t miss the taunts of “fight fight fight the ugly ogre” from the rest of the team. But without that ability Sparky will have to make up for his limitations in other ways.

To make this work I’m going to have to be quite clever and resourceful. I’m looking forward to it.