Monday, 13 November 2017

The Monster Man Contest: Week 2 Update!

Has it been another week already? The Monster Man contest continues to go full steam ahead. There are nearly two weeks left, so if you haven't come up with a fun monster to enter yet, you've got plenty of time to get your hands on some prizes.

New Sponsor!

I'm pleased to announce that we'll be adding three print copies of Robert "Thorkhammer" Pinnell's Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord to our prize pool! As you might be able to guess from the title, this module is an unofficial expansion to the classic Against the Giants. This prize comes in partnership with our existing sponsor Chaotic Henchmen Productions!

In other sponsor-related news, did you see that sponsor Grant Howitt's game Honey Heist was on Foreververse? That's pretty cool.

And in yet more sponsor-related news, sponsors Oakbound Studios just released the rulebook and the first few figures for their post-apocalyptic skirmish game, Factious Waste. The digital rulebook is just £3!

Here are some models I painted for the game:

I am not the world's best painter, but I think they look pretty cool. 

Anyway, if you want your models inexpertly painted or your game products enthusiastically plugged, why not become a contest sponsor? There's always room for more!

Charity game stream!
Listener Edwin Nagy and his friends are hosting a 24-hour live RPG stream to raise money for children's charity Extra Life. They'll be running a dungeon crawl for most of the stream, with a Cthulhu interlude, and over the course of the stream they'll be raising money by raffling off some great prizes from sponsors like Chaosium, Frog God Games, Pacesetter, Gallant Knight Games, the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, and more! It's all going to be at starting at 6 PM EST (that's 11 PM GMT) on Friday 17 November.

If you've designed a Monster Man monster and want to inflict it on the players, the DMs will incorporate it into the game for a $5 donation. I'm hoping to have a monster of my own ready for one of those rare chances to send money to a good cause via an act of petty cruelty.

Read more here!

Yet more entries!

Early entries continue to come in, including:

The Jellybender!

The ... well, you can read. 

And the unpredictable menace of the Spellagron!

Keep 'em coming, monster fans! And as always, stay tuned to Monster Man for further updates!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

New project: Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago

Having wrapped up the Armies on Parade project that has been dominating my painting table for two months, I'm finally free to embark on a new thing. The Nickstarter for Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago arrived recently, so I think I'm going to strike while the iron is hot.

I really like the crew creation system in Ghost Archipelago, which I think is simpler than the one in Frostgrave while still providing a lot of variety. I dithered a bit, but ultimately I decided that I wanted to put together a crew that balanced mobility and heavy attack, with a Heritor who was a bit of a brute.

I settled on a warden with a staff, a Heritor with heavy armour and a two-handed weapon, two archers, a pearl diver, a mercenary, and four normal crewmen. The pearl diver is one of the bonus figures from the Nickstarter until I find something more appropriate, the mercenary is an old fantasy model I had lying around, and the Heritor and Warden are both Reaper Bones models. The Heritor got a headswap from the Crewmen kit, a practice I recommend.

Here they all are, aseembled, based, and primed. The goal is to do them in a primarily tan and white colour scheme with brightly coloured sashes, turbans and so on. I'm going to do the crewmen pretty quickly and concentrate mainly on more detailed paint jobs for the special models. I'm more interested in a cohesive whole than having any one model be brilliant.

I'm going to try to keep this blog updated with my progress as a way of staying motivated. Next time: terrain!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Monster Man Contest: Week 1 Update!

Last week I announced the first ever Monster Man contest, in which you, the listeners of Monster Man, create and vote for cool new monsters based on cheap toys. It's been a great week, so let's quickly recap everything that's happened!

New Sponsor!

When I launched the contest, I had three great sponsors: Chaotic Henchmen Productions, Otherworld Miniatures and Oakbound Studios. Now we have a new one: Grant Howitt has added a print copy of his appropriately-themed RPG Goblin Quest to the prize pool.

If you'd like to sponsor the contest, there's plenty of time. All prizes are gratefully welcomed, and we'll be accepting new sponsors right up until the end.

Rules questions!

The question I get asked the most is: but what if I can't find the actual toy I want to use? Look, I'm not out here trying to limit people's creativity. I'm out here trying to encourage people's creativity. If you have a photo of the toy you want to use and it is not an actual toy you have in your possession, I mean, whatever. Or if, like one entrant, you want to just make a monster out of Play-Doh and wire, you know, that's fine too. Inspiration is where you find it. "Miniatures from everyday objects" is the main theme here.

If you do use someone else's photo, though, please credit it if possible.

First entries arrive!

Even though the contest was only announced on Wednesday 1st November, as of this writing (Saturday 4th November), I have already received three entries! I'm not going to put up the complete monsters just yet -- I'll try to do it about a week before the end of the contest. But just to give you some idea of what we've seen so far, here they are:

The Bone-Butcher!


The Slathax!

I'm really excited about how these are going so far, and I encourage all of you to send in your monster submissions. It's free or very cheap, it's fun, and you have the chance to win some great prizes.

For more information on the contest, check out the main contest post, and be sure to tune in to Monster Man!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Armies on Parade wrap-up

So, my great Armies on Parade project is finally done. I say "great" -- by the standards of a lot of people's armies mine wasn't all that large. Still, I'm pretty pleased with it.

This project completes something I've been collecting for a long time. These Nurgle models include some of the earliest figures I ever bought. While on a trip to the UK as a kid, my brother bought the Plaguebearers in the now-long-defunct Games and Puzzles in Cambridge. One of the early spikey-helmet Plague Marines was bought on a contemporary or slightly later trip to Ireland, and many of the others are from the 2nd edition Chaos era, which occurred when I was in high school.

Ever since then, off and on, I've been acquiring Chaos models for this project: just a guy or two here and there when I see them at affordable prices. I still have a good number unpainted, but this made enough to display and I'm happy with it.

It was a very satisfying moment -- to take these models, some of which were among the first I ever owned (or, more accurately, "swiped from my brother"), and get them painted and ready to display and play with. The project seems to have really resonated with people, which was tremendously gratifying.

The army included:

28 plague marines in four squads of 7
7 poxwalkers
7 cultists
7 plaguebearers
1 sorcerer on foot
2  spawn
1 sorcerer on palanquin, with 4 plague marines as bearers
1 dreadnought
1 bloat drone
1 predator
1 Great Unclean One

Total: 61 models. I've shown photos of most of these in previous posts.

I also created a scenic board to hold the army, depicting a shrine of Nurgle on a former Imperial world. It included my first lighting effect: I popped the plastic "flame" off an LED tealight and replaced it with a bead from Hobbycraft, then slathered everything in hot glue to give it a foul wet shine. It looked pretty good and I'm definitely going to do it with future techno-gubbins.

The base itself was made from EVA foam. This stuff is cheap, lightweight, portable, and you can paint or print on it. Texturing is a little more difficult, but six 24 by 24 inch panels cost £10 at B&Q, so I can overlook it. I'm going to use this as the base for my Shadow War Armageddon terrain, and it's gonna look pretty great. I have ideas.

Anyway, the shrine itself is made from scrap polystyrene; the big skull is a foam Halloween ornament I bought for 50p. The spikes and other decorations are either from the bits box or are beads and junk; the wall texture is just polyfilla mixed with PVA glue and slathered on, with some sand sprinkled on in places while it was still drying. The diamond panes in the windows are auto body mesh. All the slime and ooze is just hot glue, which is ideal for the purpose.

Anyway, enough talk; here are some photos!

An overview of the board as a whole. 

The sorcerer conducts a foul ritual to the Plague God. 

Banners of the Legion adorn the shrine.

The Greater Daemon and his capering brood. 

Nurgle's favoured child advances. 

Veterans deploy with armour support. 

A daemonic figure inhabits the Predator's hull.

Nurgle's worshippers, their rites complete, march to war. 

The deadly effluent of the shrine creates new Spawn. 
Anyway, I won an award for Best Scenic Board at the Cambridge store, so that was nice. It came with a little pin.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The first Monster Man contest!

Monsters are great. Making monsters is doubly great. Making monsters while saving money is triply great. And making monsters, saving money and winning fabulous prizes? Has such felicity existed before now?

The first Monster Man contest celebrates the spirit of creative improvisation and adaptation that is such an important part of role-playing games. It's something I've talked about on previous episodes of the Monster Man podcast (, and now it's time to put it into practice!

Here's how it works:

1. Find a cheap toy

When Gary Gygax needed inspiration for a new monster, he turned to the cheap plastic toys he could find in any dime store. The Bulette, Rust Monster, and Owlbear all come from these little monster models.

So head down to the pound shop (or dollar store, or flea market, or dusty corner of the attic, or wherever) and get yourself some cheap toys. These are going to be the starting point for your monster.

Update: Rules questions!

The question I get asked the most is: but what if I can't find the actual toy I want to use? Look, I'm not out here trying to limit people's creativity. I'm out here trying to encourage people's creativity. If you have a photo of the toy you want to use and it is not an actual toy you have in your possession, I mean, whatever. Or if, like one entrant, you want to just make a monster out of Play-Doh and wire, you know, that's fine too. Inspiration is where you find it. "Miniatures from everyday objects" is the main theme here.

If you do use someone else's photo, though, please credit it if possible.

2. Let your imagination work

Use the toy as inspiration to create a cool monster. You can modify the toy if you like, but this isn't a conversion contest: you won't be graded on modelling skill. Expert sculpting isn't any better than sticking on a new head with hot glue, adding evil eyes with nail polish, or making spikes out of toothpicks.

3. Write up your monster

Create a Monster-Manual-style entry for your creature. It should have a description of the thing's habitat, behaviour, and so on. You should also create stats for the monster in your favourite game. It doesn't have to be AD&D -- that's the game the podcast is about, but part of the point of the show is that the Monster Manual is inspirational and informative for any gamer. A photograph of the original toy would also be great to include!

4. Submit your entry

If you have a blog or website, put your entry up there and send in a link via email, Twitter or what have you. Otherwise, email me the writeup and I'll post it here. I'm @gonzohistory on Twitter and my email address is the same thing at gmail. You have until Sunday, 26 November to submit your entry!

5. Vote for the finalists!

Check out the contest entries and leave a comment or send an email or tweet telling me your two favourites, in no particular order.

6. Finalists go to the judges

I and my team of volunteers will total up the scores, identify the 8 finalists, anonymise them and send them to the judges. Our judges will select winners for 1st through 3rd place.

7. Win fabulous prizes!

Every finalist will receive a finalist's goodie bag including a PDF scenario from Chaotic Henchmen Productions plus a bunch of other fun stuff (watch this space for further prize announcements).

The third-place winner will receive a print scenario from Chaotic Henchmen (or a selection of PDF scenarios if that's their preference), plus a £10 gift certificate from Otherworld Miniatures.

The second-place winner will receive a print scenario from Chaotic Henchmen (or PDFs as above), plus a copy of the Secrets of Shandisholm core rulebook and Barrow Ring Burning supplement from Oakbound Studios and a £20 gift certificate from Otherworld Miniatures.

And the grand prize winner will receive a print scenario from Chaotic Henchmen, a print copy of Goblin Quest by Grant Howitt, and a £30 Otherworld Miniatures gift certificate. The winner will also have their creation sculpted by Geoff Solomon-Sims of Oakbound Studios!

Do you make games or game-related products? Would you like to support the creativity of Monster Man's listeners? Get in touch! You can email me at or send me a message on Twitter @gonzohistory .

This contest is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors:

Chaotic Henchmen Productions

Oakbound Studios

Otherworld Miniatures

Grant Howitt

Listen to Monster Man for announcements, future contests, and more fun stuff:

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Yet more progress reports!

I have legit painted every model for my Armies on Parade entry. I am pretty pleased with this. Here are some non-exhaustive photos:

Squad 3 is the early 2000s metal Plague Marines. 

Squad 4 is the new plastic Plague Marines.

Just some of the models in a big group shot. 

The sorcerer is based on an old Sauron model. 

The Great Unclean One and some Poxwalkers

Dreadnought and cultists.

Squad 2 is the late 80s/early 90s spikey-head marines, leading up to the monopose plastics from the 2nd edition.

Now all that remains is to create a board for these bad boys!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Frugal gaming: Easy flagstone dungeon floors

I like using miniatures in my D&D games, as I have probably mentioned once or twice, but the expense of resin or plastic dungeon sets has always put me off. Paper ones are fine, but you have to put a good amount of work into them to make them look good and stay on the tabletop without sliding, and just drawing on a map or using the bare tabletop and having pencils and things for walls is nice but lacks visual panache. 

I think, however, I've figure out what I'm going to do from now on. 

I was making road scenery inspired by a video from The DM's Craft on YouTube, and I picked up a bunch of craft foam to make it with. The stuff I was using for my pavements was this grey foam: it comes in more-or-less A4 sheets and sells for 50p at Hobbycraft. You can probably get it cheaper and larger elsewhere. 

This stuff is soft, cheap, and easy to work with. When creating the pavement, I learned that the way to do cracks and texture on it was simply to draw on it with a blunt pencil. You don't want a sharp point, which will tear the foam: you want a nice rounded one that you can press into the surface. It will leave a darkened indentation that creates texture. 

With my blunt pencil, I drew in a grid of 1-inch squares. 

Then I went over it, adding cracks, stippling and so on to give the squares a little texture and variety. I also added a small border and trimmed off the excess. 

Depending on your preference, you could either cut this into corridor and room shapes or you could just use it as a base and form your rooms with free-standing walls. Which reminds me that I should probably make some walls. I'm going to keep mine in complete sheets because that way I can also use it for plazas, courtyards and so on when doing urban terrain. 

I mainly did this so that I could use it as a base when taking the photos of miniatures I use to promote my podcast, MONSTER MAN. Here's an example: 

So, yeah, cheap and easy to make: I did a sheet of these in about 10 minutes while watching TV last night. Next time I'm in town I'll try to pick up some more; it'll give me a project to work on in idle moments.