Tuesday, April 27, 2021

10x10 Table of Monster Names, Presented Without Comment

Artificial Bestial Chimeric Dungeonesque Ethereal Fay Grubby Haunting Inflamed Moist
Artificial Robot Manbeast Owlbear Shoggoth Modron Candy Critter Fake Egg Zombie Tarbeast Submarine
Bestial Stichthing Bear Snallygaster Orcgre Eternal Bird Ball of Fur Big Rat Lycanthrope Rakshasha Shark
Chimeric Gargoyle Bigfoot Panther Cerberus Ziz Reptilian Basilisk Pumpkinking Firefox Kraken
Dungeonesque Ooze Dino Gorgon Eyebeast Throne Gnome Spider Shadow Cherufe Urchin
Ethereal Meme Bird of Prey Pegacorn Starspawn Wingaling Fairy Bat Ghost Djinn Flying Fish
Fay Clone Turtle Queen Dryad Mimic Sylph Li'l Elf Ball of Teeth Vampire Will o Wisp Jelly
Grubby Golem Beastman Cyclops Sewercrawler Locus Goblin Wormlord Mummy Firebug Eel
Haunting Frankenstoid Wolfpack Mothman False Hydra Guardian Angel Bogeyman Lemur Skeleton Hellhound Angler
Inflamed Steam Punk Rampager Drake Plaguehurler Phoenix Imp Compostling Devil Flamespren Fishstick
Moist Snowman Leviathan Merfolk Deep One Nimbus Lake Lady Serpent Swampheap Salamander Trout

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Making Scrabble Tiles Into Cheap RPG "Minis"

Here's how to make cheap DIY wooden standee miniatures for 10 cents each.
Snail wizard modified from Twitter Emoji; Modron modified from AD&D Monster Manual II; plastic minis from Battlelore 2e.


  1. Get some Scrabble-style letter tiles.
    • Here's an example search query on Amazon, but you can find similar tiles pretty much anywhere for around 0.04 USD per tile.
    • For a bit of extra money, you can buy them pre-painted in a variety of colors. I bought the pink ones up above to make a gift for a family member, and had a bunch left over.
  2. Glue pairs of tiles face to face to make a thicker wooden block.
    • (A single Scrabble tile can be balanced on it's end, but it's not very stable.)
    • A simple pva gluestick will do the trick. The resulting bond holds up to normal handling, but can be twisted apart. 
    • A stronger bond can be made by scoring the surfaces and using a bit of wood glue, but I personally don't think it's worth the extra effort and mess.
  3. Optionally: give them a couple quick coats of acrylic color. 
  4. Print out some little images of critters.
    • To avoid peeling, make the images slightly smaller than the size of the tiles. 
      • For example, the scrabble tiles I bought are about 18x20mm, so I should have printed the images at about 17x19mm.
    • I print two images per block. One for the front, and a mirror-image for the back.
    • Make or select images with sharp lines and bold colors. Texture and fine detail gets washed out at this scale.
    • I used GIMP to crop my images and Inkscape to scale and arrange them for printing. These are both free software.
      • In Inkscape, you can change the default display units to mm under File > Document Properties.
      • In this same menu, make sure the correct page size is selected. A4 is the default.
      • Leave a bit of space around the edges of the page for printing margins.
      • Once all your images are arranged, export the file as a pdf by choosing File > Save a Copy, and changing the file type to pdf. 
      • Print this pdf at 100% size. Don't shrink to fit it on the page.
    • Color printing services usually cost less than 1 USD per page; my local library charges 0.50 USD per page. You can easily fit 50 blocks worth of images onto a page, making the printing costs no more than 0.02 USD per block.
  5. Cut out and glue the images onto the blocks.

Now you  have some nice little game pieces . They're not as fancy looking as molded plastic minis, but the advantages are:

  • They're significantly cheaper, and easier to replace.
  • They are much more durable than painted minis or paper standees. You can just throw a handful of these in a box or bag without concern.
  • They stack nicely for compact storage.
  • They're pleasant and easy to handle.

Formatted Example Downloads:

Here are some downloads for the doodles I made:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wandering Titans, part III - Making Things Personal

 Part 1, Part 2

Here's another batch of titans as weather. See part 1 for explanation. The unifying factor with this batch is that these titans interact more directly with people. The first stretches the concept of "weather" a bit.

The Hard-hearted King of Dragons

Logan Feliciano
The artist's description is also pretty good RPG brainfuel.

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)

: Just the dragon's sharp silhouette seen occasionally in the sky.

Environmental Effect 
:  Blades and claws become sharper. Stone becomes unchippable. Bones become unbreakable. Metal becomes impossible to bend.  +1d6 damage when attacking a target without hard armor, like plate or shell. Bouts of dart-like hail impale the ground.

:  Gargantuan dragon with impenetrable scales. Wings held wide, blocking out the sun.

Behavior / Desires
: The King of Dragons hoards peace and stability. In a conflict between two states, it will rush to decimate the attacking armies. It will use its breath to turn revolters into glass. And there is nothing it finds more beautiful than a tyrant on their throne. 

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby
  • Sharp nailed dragon cultists on ineffable missions of political espionage.
  • Piles of wicked stones, once merely gravel, now made impassibly dangerous by the Dragon King's presence.
  • Woodland creatures impaled on supernaturally sharp brambles and branches.
  • Beehives and waspnests grown to unreasonable size, their stingers empowered, and their queens driven mad with a lust for expansion.

Radiant Fowl

"The Dragon Prince" background by Michael MacRaebut I doodled a little bird on top. 

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Light on the horizon. Most noticeable during the night.

Environmental Effect 
:   Brightness that rivals the sun's. Lights up the night like the day (including effects like vampire ensmoldering). Somehow penetrates indoors and into caverns. Don't need light sources, stealth is impossible.

:  A giant glowing phoenix, wispy tail trailing off towards the horizon. Or maybe its more of a glowing rooster. The details are hard to nail down because you can't really look directly at the thing.

Behavior / Desires
: Witness it! Witness its luminous glory! This titan wants to be seen, appreciated, and maybe even worshiped. It tends to gravitate towards areas with large populations of people or polished surfaces, where it perches and preens.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Fluffy, arm-length, radiant feathers fallen on the ground. They glow so brightly it hurts to look at them. A single small barb casts light like a torch. Frequently leads to deadly conflict between rival feather-hunters.
  • Cold-blooded monsters, standing still, eyes closed, basking in the ever-present glow.
  • Travelling titan researchers bedecked in reflective protective suits. Despite its proclivity for precariously perching on buildings and blinding pedestrians, it's overall the safest titan to observe and study.
  • Nomadic lycanthropes following the titan to avoid transformation, driven only a wee bit mad by lack of sleep.
  • Basements and dungeons choked with new sprouted vegetation.

Desiccant Prowler

Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: No clouds in the sky. No rain.

Environmental Effect 
:  Rivers and lakes dry up, soil turns to dust, plants wither. Deplete an extra water ration each day. Persistent magical effects falter.

:  A dusty striped pantherine thing, surrounded by a thin choking haze

Behavior / Desires
: Lazily tears apart magical protections, sabotages water reserves. It doesn't kill things directly, but its mere presence is hazardous, and it likes to watch things die. Stares down at entire villages or herds as the life drains out of them, and them laps up their souls like a cat drinking milk.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Fanatical dust elementals and living stone statues, helping wage war on water-based life-forms. The titan is ignorant of their devotion.
  • Arcanohazard disposal teams dragging wagonloads of janky cursed items and failed enchantments into the titan's zone of influence, hoping the beast will rip them apart for fun.
  • The desiccated corpses sometimes begin to crawl around and gnaw. Don't let them get their teeth into you, or they'll steal your blood and soul. Outside of the titan's hex, they crumble into ash, which can be sold to wizards for its magic-suppressing and water-absorbent properties.

Kekai Kotaki

Additional Titans: Part 1Part 2Part 4

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Wandering Titans, part II - Fast and Slow

Giant monsters that are also weather phenomena.

The basic mechanism I suggested in the previous post is to roll 2d6 each day, and move the titan to a neighboring hex when doubles are rolled. Here's a pair of titans brainstormed while thinking about twists to those rules.

Stampeding Winds

Keep track of the direction the titan last moved. Each day, roll 2d6, and use the sum to decide whether this titan continues in that direction (6,7,8) turns left or right (3,4,5;9,10,11), abruptly reverses direction (2) or stalls in place (12).

Donato Giancola

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Swirling clouds, moving at a visible pace, forming and dissolving in the blink of an eye. Distant sounds of roaring winds and hooves.

Environmental Effect 
:  Hurricane-force winds topple structures and knock you to the ground. But if travelling downwind, you'll find yourself magically invigorated and full of energy.  Travelling through the hex in the same direction as the winds provides the same benefits as a long rest. Travelling through any other direction is difficult and hazardous. Exiting the hex in the upwind direction is impossible. 

: A herd of charging ethereal stallions precipitating from the air. Clouds run through the sky, and smaller instantiations charge along the ground. Windward, the air speeds up, forming into visible near-tangible wind-creatures, and then slowly dissipate as they approach the leeward edge of the hex.

Behavior / Desires
: Wants to run. Wants to be free. Wants mortal creatures to charge alongside it without end.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • The smaller manifestations of the Stampede can be captured and used as a magical power source. Poacher-wizards try to do this with elaborate steel wind-traps. But it's dangerous work, as the winds speed up to impossible levels to batter down walls wherever a member of the herd gets trapped.
  • Wind-dependent ecosystems of whirlibirds, tumbletrees, and lumbering strandbeests.
  • Homes or even entire castles tumbling through the air.
  • An encounter with an instance of the Stampeding Winds. If it likes you, there's a chance it will bless you with tailwinds for the rest of the day. Party travels twice as fast until the next time they sleep.
  • Travelers hitching a ride on the winds
    1. Two blokes calmly rowing along in an airborne canoe.
    2. A gang of witches racing along on suped-up broomsticks.
    3. A village of people, rapidly evacuated, carrying as many possessions as they could grab from their now-destroyed homes.
    4. Bandits in a balloon with long hooks and nets, snatching up possessions that people left behind.
    5. 140-years-old woman, hunched over with age, slowly walking with the wind. Hasn't stopped or slept for the past 50 years. Barely kept alive by the sustaining force of the titanic winds.
    6. A whale which beached itself and just kept going.

The Ponderous Ox

This one's simpler. Roll 3d6 each day and move the titan when you roll triples.
While the party is awake within the titan's hex, don't advance the time of day, and don't roll for its movement.

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Clouds frozen in midair. Things sound slightly more quiet than they should.

Environmental Effect 
:  Silence. Stillness. Fires stop crackling and flickering, but still give out steady heat and light. Rivers freeze in place while remaining fluid. A diffuse mist fills the air. The sun and moon appear frozen in the sky. Your heart aches with nostalgia for things you've never seen. Loosed arrows slow to a stop and hover in midair.  Rest and rations are optional when near this titan. Cannot gain XP while in this hex. As you travel away from it, time suddenly returns to normal as if you never approached the titan to begin with.

: A massive buffalo, with fur like boulders and horns like mountains.  Always faintly visible, far off in the distance, behind the next hill, shaded by the mists. You can always approach the titan, but can never reach it. 

Behavior / Desires
: No one has ever seen it move, or do much of anything at all but slowly breathe titanic breathes. (But surely it must move, for how else can it travel from hex to hex?)

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Void monk meditating on a hilltop. No, they haven't been following the titan. They've been here in this spot as long as they can remember. The titan hasn't moved in all that time, they say. 
  • Small towns that don't exist, fiercely aggressive towards outsiders.
  • Strange pillars, can be hacked apart (may trigger localized earthquakes) and sold to wizards to make immovable rods.
  • Empty cabins, with a warm hearth and hot soup inside. If you sleep in the soft beds inside, you'll wake up on cold ground outside, weeks later, the titan having moved on.
  • Incomprehensible alien geometries slipping through the gaps between moments in time. Probably nothing to worry about.

Additional Titans: Part 1, Part 3Part 4