Tuesday, 10 May 2022


 My son's take on the Egyptian god Khonshu, from Disney's Moon Knight. He's made from tin foil and Fimo and based as a god for Hordes of the Things.

Here's how he (my son, not the skull-faced deity) did it:

Sunday, 24 April 2022

My son's scratch-built Slaughterspine

 My son made this beastie out of an old toy dinosaur and lots and lots of bits of cardboard. 

He's put up a video about it here:

Saturday, 23 April 2022

More of my son's creations

My son made these two big beasties recently.

He scratch-built the sand monster from tinfoil and Fimo.

The robot was constructed from wire, beads and a pencil sharpener. Here, he was inspired by the amazing Bill Making Stuff YouTube channel - one of the inspirations for his own RustMonster channel.

The robot's 'mouthparts' were inspired by the helipcoprion.


Sunday, 27 March 2022

My son's Star Wars kitbash


My son kitbashed this fellow from various bits and bobs. He's put up a video about it here.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

A kit-bashed demon for Reign in Hell

 I picked up the Reign in Hell skirmish rules the other day and decided to kitbash some demons for the game. This one's an armoured demon (one of the regular troop types). He has the head and horns of a GW beastman, the body and tail of a Frostgrave demon and the arms and equipment of a Mantic orc.

I plan to assemble a few warbands to try out the rules, which can cope with up to four players. There's plenty of scope for using orcs, etc., as demons - appropriately enough from an etymological standpoint (orcneas = "hell-corpses").

I also have a big batch of kitbashed and half-painted broos that should slot in nicely. This fellow could work as a broo too, of course - albeit an unusually well-equipped one.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Playtesting house rules - and weapon-based initiative mods


My son and I ran a quick playtest of my D&D house rules tonight. We pitted two first-level fighters against each other. Each had 6 HP and added his level (1) and his opponent's AC to the 'target 20' roll. Initiative was rolled on D6 each round. 

The first fighter had a gambeson (AC 7), a sword (D6) and a shield (D6 absorption). The second had mail (AC 5) and a two-handed sword (2D6, take the best). I was originally going to have a shield reduce AC, but forgot all about it. I think I'll keep it that way - shields seem plenty powerful!

We initially played three combats. The shield-armed fighter won the first, so we added a second mail-clad fighter with a normal sword and no shield to help the chap with the two-handed sword. The shield-armed fighter won that too, albeit with a great stroke of luck in his first attack. And then shield guy won the third fight tool.

After my son went to bed, I ran a few more fights. Shield guy won most, but greatsword guy got a couple back. 

I was quite pleased with how this played out. A shield was very important - and that's just as it should be. 

The fellow with the greatsword was a bit unlucky, in that all of his best shots were met with solid shield parries, but there was also a sense that he was a bit green and lightly armoured to be putting all his trust in a big weapon. 

And that, I think, is just as it should be too. Historically, two-handed cutting weapons tended to be the preserve of champions, bodyguards and forlorn-hope types (higher level!) - or else those with very effective armour. I ran three few fights in which greatsword guy had AC3, and he won two out of three of those. Better armour and a higher level would have swung things greatly in his favour. 

One thing I'm considering, though, is giving two-handed weapons +1 to initiative rolls. As two-handed swords, poleaxes and halberds are long, their users should probably get a higher chance of having first strike. My shield rules help here, as the fighter with the shorter weapon can trust in his shield until he closes.

Then there are spears. I'll probably give them +2 initiative. Halberdiers and billmen should be able to choose from round to round whether they want to use their weapon as a spear or a two-handed weapon - so +2 initiative or +1 and best of 2D6 damage. After all, what are halberds if not a combination of a spear and a two-handed axe?

All of that leads to a spear and shield combination being the best combination for the fighter who values his or her life. And guess what? If history's any guide, that's exactly as it should be too!

House rule for critical hits

 Here's a quick house rule for critical hits in my 'rethought' version of D&D (cooked up in response to a comment by Little Odo and this post on Grognardia). 

To recap: 

  • shields absorb damage through an opposed D6 roll, unless damage is 6 to a shield roll of 1, in which case the attacker chooses whether to inflict full damage or break the shield; bucklers absorb D4;
  • hit points are set at 6 for most first-level characters and monsters;
  • All weapons do D6 damage unless the wielder is ogre-sized (D8) or (possibly) very strong;
  • there are no damage bonuses (except for magical weapons);
  • two-handed weapons allow the wielder's player to pick from the higher of two D6.

I like the balance of 6 HP vs D6 damage. But the problem is that rising HP (even if it's just one point per level) immediately take characters to a point where there's no risk of death from a single orc arrow. I don't want that!

Enter the critical hit. A straight critical on a roll of 20 on a D20 comes up far too often. So here's my rule:

  • any unmodified attack roll of 20 allows an 'exploding' damage roll - that is, a roll of 6 on a D6 allows another damage die to be rolled and the total added together. Damage dice may explode infinitely, so long as the highest number on the die is rolled each time. Two-handed weapons explode when either of their 2D6 comes up with a 6. Note that an ogre doing D8 damage needs an 8 to 'explode'; likewise, a giant on D10 or D12 needs a roll of maximum damage. If a dragon hits you on a 20 and then rolls 20 damage, you're in for a short night ...

As a two-handed weapon essentially doubles the chance of exploding damage on a 20, there's a strong incentive to carry one - though at the cost of the D6 absorption that a shield offers. A critical is likely to overwhelm a shield; even if a 6 is rolled against a 6, the extra die will still get through.

Something I really like about this is that it (theoretically) allows even a first-level character to slay a dragon or a giant or similar sack of hit points. It means that the humble orc arrow still poses a risk - however unlikely - to the highest-level fighter. And it frees me up to allow higher-level characters to add hit dice rather than hit points with each level.