Crafting, Creating and Finding Cool Stuff

One of the things I have enjoyed about getting back into D&D has been collecting and crafting various game aids. While none of these are essential for gaming, they all add to the immersion and fun. This article will show off the various items I have found, as well as the first items I crafted myself for our games. And for the guys over on TheMiniaturesPage asking about minis, these are the only 2 minis I have painted as D&D minis. Bother were entered into a local painting competition at Our House Games. A Death Knight and a Dwarven Cleric.

A couple years ago, before we started playing D&D, I found a wood worker online who made cool dice trays. They are square, with cork leather bottoms, and came in a variety of woods, finishes, and cork colors. Unfortunately, this guy seems to have stopped trading, which is a bummer, because I wanted one or two more of his dice trays.

This is the one I bought. Called ‘The Dark Hunt” it is a dark wood with a grey cork. Dice roll so great here. Not super loud, but enough clatter off the edges to know you are rolling dice. There were other super cool color combos, but alas, Iron Archer Gamecraft seems to have slipped away into the ether.

Looking for more custom options, a guy I met on Facebook crafted a trio of dice bowls for me from various woods. These went to my son and his gaming buddies. I may have mentioned these before, but for completeness and for those that are new to the blog, I am sharing them again. My son and his buddies play a lot of 40K, so these were crafted to include the icon of their favorite army. Dark Angels, Necrons and Blood Angels.  They turned out amazing, and all three get plenty of use. The DA bowl was often on the table while we played D&D as a secondary dice tray/bowl.

While waiting for my buddy to turn more bowls, I found a really cool dice tray made of leather on Etsy. My daughter plays with another group as well as our family games, and travels to play with her other group. When I found this portable tray, I knew I had to get it for her. It’s a perfect tray for D&D. Portable, leather, and rolls up like a scroll case. It just looks like it belongs in a fantasy RPG. You can find it here:

In all the games I’ve played that used dice of some sort, I always utilized a time-out for bad dice. Sit it aside, or load it back in the box until next week. Heck, I’ve even launched a really bad die out the side door of a game store. Said door opened onto a road so that bad die could end its useless existence. Way too many 1s on that little turd. While playing 40K I all-too-often simply bought a new box of D6s to continue a game. My dice rolling is notoriously bad, and I needed something better for D&D. Besides, a nice set of polyhedral dice isn’t something to throw away. I needed a dice jail. A real dice jail. Which I also found on Etsy. Now this was before I had a 3D printer, and the jails I picked up are most defiantly 3D printed. Still, for anyone sans printer, this is a viable option. While this is what I bought here: there are other options out there. I like these because they are portable, so I have two, one for home games and one my daughter takes on her itinerant gaming journeys. Bad dice beware, we have a place for you.

Since I was the only one familiar with the Forgotten Realms, I found a high-resolution image of the Sword Coast the WOTC has here and had it printed and laminated. I think I printed it 24”x36”, so it is good size. I have bought a few Mike Schley maps (he produces official Wizards of the Coast art) and had those printed larger as well. I find it helpful to have a bigger map than what is included in the adventure modules. You can find Mike’s amazing art here.

While perusing one of the many gaming-related groups and Facebook pages I am part of, I saw someone who had a skull they used for bloodies coins in a one-shot game. The coins were bought with real cash that was donated to a charity after the game. The coins were purchased and used to roll with advantage during the game. In D&D, rolling with advantage means you roll two d20s for an attack or save and use the higher roll. Pretty nifty. However, in that game, every coin bought and used gave the DM a coin to spend on advantage for the bad guys. In the review he wrote, the players loved it. The skull was a plastic Halloween decoration he opened up and then covered with craft paper to give it the look of being covered in desiccated skin. A little grewsome. A lot cool. And I knew I needed on. I’ve gone over it before on this blog, so here is one quick picture of my skull that holds what I call ‘coins of destiny’ that work in a similar fashion. Use them at your own risk.

Skulley the skull bowl

Which reminds me, I bought these coins off Amazon to fill my skull with: here

Heavy, with a shiny gold tone, they work great for my need. There is another pack from the same company that has small denomination coins. Kind of cool for a game prop.

After more than a few gaming sessions, we noticed the hit point section of the character sheets were getting worn through from erasing. While I guess we could just print new sheets, I like the look of a well-used form at the table. Thinking about it some, I decided to get some small game diary books for them to use. They could make notes of important NPCs, traps, code words, or whatever they needed, and also keep track of HPs in the book. There are very nice examples on Etsy, but I wanted something a little less expensive, and home crafted.

Heading to my local craft store, Hobby Lobby, I perused the aisles looking for something that would work. I found small drawing books, blank pages of a cream white heavy paper. A three pack was only like $10 regular price, on sale for $5 I believe. Then I picked up two sheets of dyed and finished leather (also on sale), some rivets and buckles. Then a second trip was in order for a bit more leather to actually make the straps for closures. Doing this on the cheap meant I did not buy the cobra or python or caiman skins. As cool as those were, using fancy leather would have priced this craft into “just buy one off Etsy”. Which defeats the whole crafting for gaming idea.

Adding a can of 3M 77 spray adhesive, I was all set. The leather was nearly a perfect fit. Though it could have been slightly bigger, to give more overlap and get better glue adhesion. Not only was I going cheap on this, I was lazy, too. No fancy stitching for this guy. Let’s just glue the leather to the books. I laid the book on the leather, centered it, and marked the edges with a scratch awl.

 After some consideration on corners (I didn’t do well, so figure this out yourself. It can’t be any worse than mine were…) I made some cuts and then sprayed the leather with the 3M spray. Be careful! It sticks really, really well… Lay the book along the marks, and press into place. I overlapped the edges and used the smooth end of a screwdriver to burnish them over. See? Cheap. There is a nifty tool for burnishing/rolling edges of leather that I chose not to buy.

With the leather stuck to the covers, I pulled out a leather hole punch from my son’s leather working tools. This is a pretty invaluable tool, though rather expensive. I used the smallest punch to put four holes in both front and back covers, then set the smallest rivets I had. I did use the offcuts to make backers for the rivets since the sketchbooks have paper covers. I figured this would give a little more strength.

With the leather on, and rivets set, it was time to figure out the buckles. I laid them out and decided which buckle to use with which book. One has two straps, the other has one. The extra leather I picked up to make the straps with was a cheap pack of dyed scraps. Next time I am spending a little more to get the right colors. These are a trial run, and really designed to be disposable at some point. After cutting the straps out, I punched some more holes using the awl for some, since the hole punch didn’t reach. Setting more rivets attached the straps and the buckles.

While these are by no means perfect, they look a little better than plain notebooks. Hobby Lobby here in the States has several drawing books with leather covers. If you are looking for something that is less work and don’t mind the expense, they are definitely an option. Or search Etsy, there are plenty there.

For a one shot I ran for my daughter’s group, I created some healing potions. I had seen these on Etsy and other places, but I needed 10 or so, and that made buying them cost prohibitive. For a while I thought I was going to have to give up on the idea because I couldn’t find inexpensive d4s. In D&D, a healing potion allows you to roll a number of d4s to regain hit points. My plan was to put two to ten d4s in each bottle, enough to roll for a healing, greater healing and superior healing or supreme healing potions. The bottles I found (I was on a time crunch) didn’t allow 10 d4s to fit. I also found some corks to cork the bottles with, though as purchased from Michael’s the bottles had a plastic lid covered with a cute little piece of fabric tied on. I can’t link the bottles, since they don’t appear on the Michael’s site. The dice had to be ordered online because Chessex dice (the ones I love) were just too much for something I was giving away. eBay had a 50 pack for around $10 shipped. ($13 now, I just ordered more.) These were a big hit, all of the kids thought they were cool, and were surprised they got to keep them.

The last items are some in game items. I was reading on a D&D website called The Alexandrian and was browsing all his tips for dungeon masters. One of the things he does is makes printed “books” to give his players when they encounter in game books. Instead of saying “you found a book” and proceeding to describe it and what it might have in it, he hands over a printed book. It sounded cool, so I browsed the net for some suitable book covers and other art. I spent some time in Paint 3D (I think) and made the covers into a two-cover spread, filling as much of a page as I could. If there were words or unusable marks on (watermarks mostly) I used one of the tools in the program to cover the markings with a swatch of the cover. These are not perfect by any means, and I can’t link for copyright reasons, but I hope you get the idea. Then I went through the adventure we were on and looked through it for any books they might find. Creating these, and a couple more, I did some brief writeups in a word document. Making them two columns in landscape mode, I was able to craft simple books. If I needed more pages, I made those as a separate document. I have access to a color printer, so I played around with ink colors and fonts, and drew some crude sketch maps.

If you do your own, go wild. Provide as much or as little info as you want. In one book, I told them it was written in an unknown language, and only listed the few things they could read. I prepared another page of the info they can find if they get the book deciphered. This is actually kind of fun, and gave me a nice outlet for writing and dreaming.

With everything ready, I bought some heavy linen paper to print these on. I laid them out and did a couple test prints on plain paper to make sure orientation was correct. Then I loaded up the fancy paper and went to town. After printing, I trimmed the paper back to the printed book covers and folded them into books. Cool little player props. Now then can reference their own discoveries and I can give them info that they have to actually read to find out versus me dumping info on them. I have plans for lots more, including the spell books of wizards they take on, and scrolls they find.

So that’s it. They player aids and props I have bought or created so far. Not everyone cares. Some people love it. I’ll probably make more stuff. A chainmail dice bag is absolutely on the to-do list. I think I want a couple ornate candlesticks to put some LED candles on for atmosphere. Anything to put us in the mood to cause carnage somewhere on the Sword Coast south of Waterdeep.

I’ll leave you with this video of the coolest DM’s screen ever being created from wood and silver wire and magnets. A thing of beauty. If any of you are looking for a gift for me for any reason whatsoever, a screen from Wyrmwood would hit the ticket.

Have you crafted or created anything for your gaming? Let me know in the comments what you have created, I am always looking for new inspiration.

BG the DM out

Dungeons & Dragons- New beginnings

I first encountered D&D while checking out a winter campout my dad had taken some Boy Scouts on sometime prior to 1984. They were roughing it in a cabin and for some reason I was there one evening for a couple hours. I wasn’t Scout age yet, and was super jealous of their winter adventure. While at the cabin, a group of the boys were talking about fighting some monsters and one was throwing darts. I do not recall much else, other than I had a brief conversation about if he could recover any darts, or would he run out of ammo? He told me he could only recover darts that hit. That’s about all I remember, exceopt I went home intrigued and wishing i could play a game like that!

A few years later I found a copy of the Basic D&D red box at a garage sale. I must have found out those boys were playing D&D, or they told me at the time, because I recognized the box and was excited for the low price. It was a complete box, if I recall, even including dice that had been carelessly colored in. The original owner had used a black marker to color some things in (you could see the bleed through) and had also used a highlighter to color other things like lamp and magic effects. I laminated the cover, poorly, with contact paper and screwed up how the cover closed, then inexpertly tried to trim the pages to fit. Despite my “improvements”, I still have those books today.

I cant even remember all the times I played through that introductory adventure. I still despise rust monsters to this day! I read through it and played solo over and over. I couldn’t interest my brother or any friends, and it languished on a shelf for some years. I did find out that the local library had several D&D books in their collection, including the Fiend Folio and Deities and Demigods, which I pretty much checked out as often as I could. They also had subscriptions to Dragon and Dungeon magazines. It was heaven!

Then a new family moved to town and began attending the same church congregation. It was a blended family, three boys from Dad, a boy and girl from Mom. And they ALL played D&D. I was a pest, I am sure, trying to dig information and stories from them. They were open about playing, and any chance I had, i wanted to know more. The boy that was my age (I was 13 or 14) was usually the DM and invited me and couple other boys to start a campaign. This was not Basic D&D. This was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. So much more intense and detailed. We started that campaign, and gleefully played for several years. We even played through the original Ravenloft module. Glorious times. Until his family moved to Texas. In the pre-internet days, that might as well have been Mars, and my D&D days were over. No one else had the will to DM, and none of us had the money to buy our own books. That was it. No more dungeon adventures.

Until high school. I met a few others that played, got a job and a car, and started playing again. This was the era of 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. though many AD&D modules were on the shelves of the local game store. I had the Dungeon Masters Guide, Player’s handbook, the loose-leaf Monstrous Compendium and most of the supplements for it. I also had the castle guide, the arms and equipment guide, and most of the character books. And at some point sold them all. Like an idiot…

College came and went and was deep into Warhammer 40K. I didn’t even really think about RPGs for years. It wasn’t until post-2007 that i even talked about D&D again. I was a youth leader in my church and several of the boys played. I’m pretty sure they were still playing 3.5, probably for the same reason I didn’t keep playing when my first DM moved. Money. 4th edition came out in 2008, but I’m sure they had quite the investment in books already, and none were wealthy enough to just dump 3.5 and buy all new books.

We talked about the rules and game play, and something about it didn’t strike a cord with me. Though it did encourage me to buy a few 2nd Ed. books as i could find them on used book sites. Shoulda looked a harder and bought more, because wow, the prices have skyrocketed on some things!

I didn’t play. But i read through those books and remembered all the good times we had in my friend’s basement. A couple supervisors at work played, and we started talking about editions and games, and they tried talking me into joining them in adventure league play. The place they played was well over an hour away from me though, and I had small kids and really couldn’t spare the time.

Once my son was in junior high/high school I tried to get him and his friends into any gaming. I had a table and terrain and several sets of minis for various eras and games. No bits. Until their junior year. One of his really good friends discovered D&D and Warhammer 40K at the same time, then Bolt Action at our house. They became quite the gamers. Our house was frequently host to a loud bunch of starving teenage boys, and i couldn’t have been happier. They mini gamed their hearts out on my table. Then, D&D took hold, and they jumped straight in. My son bought or asked for a couple books, now into 5E, and I happily supplied them. They played and played until he served a mission for our church. They continued to play even as several went off to college, and my son joined up once he was home. Online gaming sure has its perks!

Having read the DMG and PH, I was really liking 5E. So I started buying my own books and trying to figure out how to play. ,My son had to come home temporally from his mission due to C19, so we started playing at home. Son, his girlfriend (screw quarantines), my daughter and wife. We played through a couple of the Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventures, and had an amazing time. I was DMing for the first time in my life and really enjoying it. Our games are probably a little more relaxed than many, but we were having fun. As a family.

Once my son and his girlfriend were gone again, I couldn’t stop the ride. My wife and daughter roleld up a pair of characters each, and we kept playing. I’m not sure what I am going to do once my daughter is off at college, but we might have to make the jump to virtual gaming.

For now, here is the story of four adventurers who find themselves in the midst of a dark world beset by enemies, dungeons, and defiantly, dragons.

The last vestiges of the Great Horde splintered and dispersed into war bands that roamed all of the Sword Coast.  Mercenary companies, mounted patrols from various cities in the Lord’s Alliance, and even town militias were pressed into service to hunt down and eliminate the last orcs, goblins and their hobgoblin warlords.

Against this back drop, adventurers from across Faerun flocked to the region. Most of them were looking to earn coin in the employ of the many mercenary companies, paid militias, or free-lancing as hired guards. Some were looking to take advantage of the chaos to further their nefarious aims. This is the saga of four of those adventurers.

Adran, Seraphina, Malark and Lia all arrived in Oakdale the same day. Having arrived from various locales and traveling through for various reasons, they happened across one another in the small village. Fate, the gods, or happenstance brought them together the day a sorrowful mother needed help.

——————————————————————–

Looking uncomfortable and out of place, the bulky human approached the outskirts of the small village. His eyes never stopped shifting from place to place. Always searching, always alert. His hand rest lightly on the hilt of a sheathed sword. His other hand held a pouch close, protecting or hiding it. A pair of axes were tucked into a pair of short belts linked together to fit his waist. Wearing leather breeches in a dwarven cut, his feet were wrapped in furs rather than boots. Passing close to a dark and tangled wood, he slowed as he crossed a cultivated field. Carefully stepping from furrow to furrow, he bore a confused look as he studied the rows of plants.

Shadowed and hidden, a tall elf watched the human move across the field. The figure leaned on a gnarled staff, burdened and weary from a long journey. A bow peeked from a quiver laden with white-fletched arrows. A long sword hung from a tooled leather baldric, with a gold, gem-set buckle. The elf wore a hood low, facial feature shrouded in shadow. In a moment, the elf shifted and shrunk, transforming into a brown tabby cat, springing from the wood to scamper towards the human.

Sitting as far from the bustling, crowded bar as was physically possible in the cramped tavern, a woman looked into a stein, swirling the foam with her slender finger. Thick bread smeared with preserves lay next to the ale. Her face was down, long hair hiding her features. She drummed the table lazily, an intricate metal band wound around her wrist and looping around her middle finger. With a snap of her fingers a flare of fire flashed, then was gone. Sipping the ale, she used to movement to scan the room, before letting her hair shroud her face again.

Pulling the tavern door open, a short halfling female, dressed in browns and greens, stepped across the threshold. She blinked several times, her eyes growing accustomed to the dark interior. A thick cloak was wrapped around her slight frame. Carrying a traveler’s pack, full quiver, bow and with a pair of swords hanging from her hips, she looked every bit an adventurer. Tucking her dark hair behind her ears, she closed the door and moved quickly towards the bar. Her nose twitched, taking in smoky and savory scents wafting through the room that made her stomach rumble. Smiling broadly, she waited for the barkeep to notice her.

Dark clouds, heavy with the threat of rain, hung low over the broad valley that lay between the Dessarin and Delimbiyr rivers. Field hands and farmer toiled in their fields, moving spears and axes every time they changed the row or tree they tended. Herdsman and shepherds watched their animals, and watched the horizon. In every village across the vale, the militia was armed and watchful. The tension was palpable. Danger was close, the whole valley could feel it. Every day, more refugees passed through the small hamlets and villages, heading for the sanctuary walls of Daggerford. Every day, another homestead or thorp was raided and ransacked. Every day, lives were lost. Few staying overnight in field or fen ever returned.

Still reeling from the great hordes of goblinoids and barbarians that had poured out of the northern mountains last spring, the Lord’s Alliance was too busy to send help. Baldur’s Gate had their own issues, and too few ties to the valley to really care. Silverymoon and Sundabar were still reeling from the War of the Silver Marches just a year before. Every village was their own defense. Every home was a refuge.

Amid the open warfare and struggle, nothing was easy or normal. The assault on Goldenfields by Guh’s band meant food was in short supply all across the North. Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate spent vast sums shipping in foodstuffs from across the south, and even from the Moonshae Isles, to keep their citizens from starving. Here in the Vale, every crop was precious. Every field was carefully tended.

The hordes had been splintered north of the Dessarin, but small warbands and raiding parties had fled the slaughter and splintered off in search of plunder and spoil. These small bands were no threat to the cities or the patrols the Lord’s Alliance was sending in all directions. They were devastating to common folk, and the common folk were suffering. Calls for mercenaries and adventurer bands to bolster the weak defenses of the various settlements went mostly unheeded near the Delimbiyr. Larger contracts, fatter payrolls, and more plunder were available further north. The tiny hamlets couldn’t offer enough to entice the soldiers-of-fortune to come to their aid.

Not all was hopeless. Some small bands of adventurers were scouring the valley, riding hard after the raiders. Druids left their groves to bless and aid the remaining crops. The few Elves left in the Ardeep were tireless in their vigil to prevent the raiders from finding sanctuary in the deep wood. Other bands were traveling from further afield, slowly arriving to add their swords to the fight. Even lone veterans and apprentice wizards arrived daily, hopeful that some coin or plunder might be earned.

The village of Oakdale was no different. As determined and brave as the men and women of the village were, they were not warriors. The small militia was bolstered in spirit by most of the men, but it was midsummer, and the crops would not tend themselves. By chance, divine grace, or mere happenstance, four outsiders found themselves in the village the very day they were needed.

Shadowed by the tabby, the fur-clad man entered the village proper. Eyes wide, he studied the buildings and people. Drawing wary looks from all of the townsfolk, he was quickly surrounded by a trio of militiamen brandishing spears. The man held up his hand as if to ward away the spearpoints, turning in a circle, fear on his face.

“Be gone, ya brute!” shouted one of the men.

“We don’t need yer kind here, go back north. Far to the north you scum!” screamed another.

The man towered over the others, strength and power in his every move, yet he seemed more confused than threatening. He motioned to his mouth, then his lips pursed, soundlessly moving.

“Food.” he finally said, his voice soft, with a strange accent nearly unheard amid the shouts of the militiamen.

“Go! Go away!” shouted a woman, throwing a rock at the man.

The rock was small, and the woman frail, but it hit the man in the chest. He looked at it on the ground, then up at the spears encircling him, and he repeated his single word, louder this time.

“Food.”

He turned in a circle, hands up. Fear turning to frustration.

“Food!” he shouted, holding the small pouch towards the men as he turned. “Food! Hungry!”

The tabby sprang forward, morphing back onto the tall Elf. He held his arms wide, stepping between the fur-clad man and the militiamen.

“He isn’t one of them.” His voice was lilting and musical, a calm amid the din. “Look at him, he is hungry and scared, lower your weapons, he means no harm.”

The sudden appearance of the elf shocked them all into momentary silence.

“How do ya know he isn’t a raider?” a militia man asked. He held his spear level, still on guard.

“Look at his face. No scars. No tattoos. He isn’t one of them.”

The townsfolk murmured and whispered. Pointing at the elf and human.

“And”, the elf added, “I think he is hungry.”

“Put your spears away, you fools. He looks ten times the man any of you are. Had he the will, methinks the lot of you would be spilling your blood already.” added another voice. Strong, clear and with a commanding tone.

“Ma’am, with all the…”

A stout woman, hair pulled back in a tight bun and dressed in a fine, embroidered gown cocked her head towards the militiaman. He looked down, and muttered.

“Begging yer pardon Lady Hucrele.” Shouldering his spear, he waved to the rest. “The Lady has spoken, put away your arms.”

The others stepped back, shouldering their spears and gathering around the one wearing a sergeant’s sash.

“Well met, Lady Heecruel?” the elf turned to the woman, bowing his head.

“Hew Creel” she enunciated. “Do you know this man?”

“No, mi-lady, I saw him on the outskirts of town. He is not from here, that is clear. But he is harmless to your village. Though methinks you have great need here. You live in fear. I sense it. The animals know it.” He turned his head slightly, eyes misting for the briefest of moments. “You. You have a need.” Others saw it. A small field mouse was hunched on his shoulder as if the tiny creature was speaking to the elf.

Lady Hucrele wiped a tear from her cheek before replying. “We do. I do. My family does. Come, come to the tavern. He is hungry, and I have a proposition for you both.  Your tiny friend might not feel so welcome, though, the tavern cat is an exceptional mouser.”

With a nod, the elf tucked the mouse into a pocket, and took the large human by the arm. Speaking soft and low he urged him. “Come, friend, and eat.”

The big man nodded and followed the woman and the elf, watching the militiamen carefully until they entered the tavern.

Until next time.

BG out

2021 In review

2021 in review

This is the time of year that modeling bloggers often tally the year and the progress they have made. I’m honestly not sure how some do it, unless they keep a better tally of what they build and paint. I have tried to keep a hobby journal, but it never lasts long. I can barely remember to put paint schemes in my notes so I can add to units in the future…

Reading those posts, though, got me thinking. How much have I accomplished in 2021? I read through the posts I put up this year, and took some quick notes, and the verdict is: Not much. At least in numbers.

From blog posts the total is about 83 28mm models, 13 28mm vehicles, 4 Wild West buildings built (not painted), 25+ map hex tiles, and two large fantasy buildings for WFB and Mordheim. 69 of the 28mm models were painted in one month while I was on a work “retreat”. Which means painting was way off for the year. Way off. I’m sure I bought at least that many new models, 50+ just off the top of my head. And we all know many more magical little boxes of metal and plastic have arrived that I stashed and already forgot about. I also wrote eight whole articles. Eight!! Closer to one a month than 2020, but not there yet.

Musing on my low productivity, I can attribute it to two things. 3D printing, and Dungeons and Dragons.

I’ve talked about 3D orienting and the time sink it can be. Looking for files. Modifying files. Slicing files. Printing files. Printing more files. Printing more files… I’ve printed A LOT of files this year. From arms, heads and torsos for 28mm models, to modular wall pieces for WFB or DnD, to Star Wars ships. I have printed a little of everything. In fact, both printers are burning through resin and filament as I wrote this. A WW1 trench knife in resin for my daughter, and one of 10 L Columns I need for a large fantasy building. The Ender has basically run non-stop for weeks now. Ever since I rebuilt the hot end (the doohickey that melts the plastic) after a battle with a clogged nozzle. And that was months after a battle with a broken extruder. Plus, a trio of punctured FEP films on the resin printer (all my fault) slowed resin printing. Yes, printers can be temperamental. A minor issue can cause headaches until you figure it out. I also dealt with older filaments not adhering to the build plate. Fresh filament solved that. When they are tuned up, printing is a breeze. When they aren’t… You want to toss them in the trash.

Solving the various issues took time. Watching videos. Reading articles. Staring at all the tiny screws holding parts together. Luckily, my nephew KP is a 3D whiz and usually can solve an issue, or point me in the right direction for a solution. He figured out the extruder issue when I was beyond frustrated. He encouraged me to rebuild the hot end. Without his help, the printers might be in the trash! Thanks buddy, you the man! Having a more experienced 3D printing friend can help climb the steep learning hill.

While I worked on other things, the Ender chugged away at the 100+ individual pieces I need to build the Alchemists Guild from Printable Scenery. I have most of the round tower printed and assembled, and I have about half through printing the square tower. That is the real help of 3D printers. They work mostly unassisted. With filament printing I can pop a print off the bed, prep the bed for good adhesion, and start a new print in about a minute. Simple. When it is running right. At this point I consider both machines pretty essential to my hobby pursuits. In fact, I am trying to convince my wife I need another Ender 3! Twice the productivity!

The other distraction has been DnD. After not playing for decades, we started up in that lost year, and continued through 2021. Time I might have spent painting minis has been spent prepping for games, making maps, or writing my own adventures. And playing. My daughter is a bit busy in her senior year of high school. Between band, AP classes, sports ad everything else, we never have as many free evenings to play as we would like. DnD has still been something that has taken time from mini painting and terrain building. Not a distraction or waste, just another thing.  I do not regret a moment of family game time, and DnD has led to many memorable moments. In fact, I was thinking I could use this blog to record our ongoing campaign, in the vein of some early short stories I posted here. If nothing else, it gets me writing, and stores our adventures.

That’s it. 2021 was busy and complicated and less productive than I would have liked. I do like to think what I built and painted were quality models, and that helps. Some of the blogs I follow are veritable machines of productivity, churning out armies in the time I paint squads, and filling tables with terrain while I smash on building a single building. I am still trying to decide if it is inspiration or discouraging. Either way, I will keep at it. My gaming hobbies help as a refuge from an increasingly crappy job, and that is priceless no matter how slow I paint models.

How was your 2021? More productive? Less? Any new projects or interests? let me know in the comments.

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and hopefully Santa left you a pile of metal, plastic and resin under the tree!

BG out

PS Sadly, this was written IN 2021. Before Santa’s big day even, hence the ending. And just now getting around to posting…