Monday, July 6, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 10

I am still working on those walls. I have a list of things I need to do around MY house, so it may take me a day or two. 

Cutting the sheets for the walls went fast. I have 10 of them all stacked up and ready to go. 

I ended up with 3 scrap pieces which I will probably use for the doors. 

Since the walls are essentially done, I started on the roof. I will be using some cord to make the thatched roof. 
This part is actually fun. I took a piece of card stock and used it to measure out how long each cord needs to be. Then I simply wrapped the cord around the card. When I get the chance, I will use a pair of scissors to cut the bottom. 

I have a couple of options. The easiest is to simply drape the cord over the roof. It's fast and nice looking, but what if I drop it? I could run a bead of glue down the beams then place it. There is no guarantee it will hold every piece, but should grab enough of them. 

I'll be back tomorrow. 

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 9

And we are back. The nice thing about this project is, you can let it sit. There is no rush. 

In the last update, I tried to color some white stone with coffee. The results were inconsistent, this is some sort of chalky porous stone with little chips of quartz in it but it is not as porous as I thought. 

Let's call this four rows. The bottom row, I painted with different shades of brown, tan and grey. The second row from the bottom, are coffee treated stones that took some color. The third row are stones that took very little coffee color at all and the top row are completely untreated stone. To my eye and not the camera's, the third row is not as shock white as the untreated stones and I could use them but probably won't. 

When doing scale models, there is a trick to colors. Your brain does not think that you are looking at a tiny version of an object. Instead, it believes that you are seeing a full size object very far away. And in the atmosphere, a distance object is not only smaller, it's blueish. 

The Space Shuttle on video is great example of this color change in action. It's white. When you see the crew enter through the side door, clearly, the shuttle side is white. When the camera is moved back the white exterior becomes grey with tones of blue. As it lifts off and travels a great distance from the camera, it becomes bluer. And on approach to the ISS, it is back to brilliant white, no matter how far away it is. It's the air and the background colors that make it change. This is why blood looks lousy on figures, because it's never the right color. 

So, I will have to shade these rocks blueish to make them look "real". Just a smidgen. I'll come back to them later. 

Now for the walls. I'll be using sheets of basal for this. 

I didn't crop this image so you can see how large the piece of balsa is. It is sufficiently to cover the entire side of the house, but then the grain would be wrong. I want that grain going up and down. 
Yes, I will have to make many cuts to do this, but only four. The middle of the rectangle will have door in it. By running up and down, it looks more like what people expect. 

Think of siding. When people use aluminium, it often has a grain that goes side to side because it can. It's just stamped into the metal. If you tried that wood, you'd have to work hard to either accentuate how the pieces fit together, hid the connections or have something that looks ramshackle. Side to side grain is "rich" and a byre house shouldn't have details of luxury. The design still exists because of it's ease of construction and repair. So up and down. 

Technically, if this is something from 1300 or 1400s, then this is would be a "rich" person's house. The plague took care of that by tearing society up a bit. The devastation allowed those locked to land serfs to negotiate labor costs. It was a shock to their "betters" because if those landlords wanted something done, the labor pool had collapsed so you need to discuss who was getting what. Negotiate or you're project gets cut. 

Speaking of cuts, I measured the distance I will need to cover. It's about 1 and 7/8th high. To do this, I just dropped in a piece of index card and drew a line. Now when I cut the card, I'll end up with a cutting template which forces the idea of measure twice and cut once. 

Next post, placing the walls and doors. 

For those wishing to source their balsa from Amazon, they have a few choices. I like the Small, Random packs of balsa because I use it all the time and draw inspiration from the oddly shaped bits. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Goblin Clan Miniatures (Formerly 3DMakerWorks)

They came on Friday! 

The amount of details on these figures are incredible and because they are 3d printed, they don't have a bit of flash like metal figures. I swore one of the skeletons had a bit of something sticking off his neck at an odd angle, but when I looked closer, it was an axe lodged in his armor. That's cool! 

I was expecting some sort of lines as an artifact of printing, and it is there, but it's super fine. It looks like a pattern on the figures. It looks like a pattern on the figures. I don't see any point in trying to remove it. A bit of paint will probably completely cover it. I suspect that a simple wash would make it more evident, but we will see. 

As you can see from the photos, these figures are large. Way bigger than 28 mm. They border on being "model sized". If I was trying to make a 28 mm army, I'd object. But these are for D&D, and monsters are notoriously "not to scale". The bases are almost exactly 1", so for 1"=5 feet on a game surface, these are perfect. In the picture above, the building in the background is an in-between scale, good for 25 mm or 15 mm so I am not exacting in my scale anyway. "Looks good" is better than "in scale". 

I wouldn't call these minis "unbreakable", but they feel tough. The material does feel like you could break it with a tool, so modification would be difficult but a random drop off the table probably wouldn't hurt them. Each package of figures came with multiple poses. 

Speaking of "modification", there probably isn't any point. The 6 Archer Skeletons came in 3 poses, while the 7 Melee Skeletons have 7 different poses as did the Lizardmen. And these poses are not your typical mini "poses" with a leg or an armed moved. Each is different sculpts, but share common details so obviously they are from the same theme or group.  

All and all, I'd give these 5 of 5 stars. I can't wait to start painting.  

Remember, if you use the coupon code "TheseOldGames", you'll receive a 10% discount. Plus, they are running free shipping off of orders $35.00 or more. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Dark Queen of Krynn - Macintosh Version - August 24, 1992

Welcome to These Old Games, 1992 edition. The Dark Queen of Krynn was a part of SSI's Gold Box series of D&D games. It happens to be my personal favorite. 

This was part 2 of a three part sequence. You could (and should) bring your characters over from Death Knights of Krynn. Back in the day, I was buying these games singly, and I had no idea Death Knights of Krynn existed because it wasn't on CompUSA's shelf that week. Actually, Death Knights would not appear for 2 more years on Macs. 

I am not sure where I'm going with this post, as this is neither review nor walk-thru. Perhasp it is a retrospective. 

When you drop into the game, you are presented with a blank screen, where all of the action begins. Once you have some characters, either through import or generation, you can begin. 

What I loved about this game was it's faithful rendition of D&D. You had class and racial restrictions, which were locked to "hard mode". There was no bypassing these. This game was the first to enforce spell limits for Wisdom and Intelligence. Typically, you'd discover this when a character looses a point on a Stat after a certain point. 

Also, the rule booklet doesn't explain that Elves can't be raised and "our elves are different", so they can and do sleep and are subject to sleep spells. So... considered yourself warned. The kinder's have an unusual ability, they can backstab with a blunt weapon which is helpful in more than a few circumstances. 

There were also some bugs which could wipe you out. Save often is the golden rule. 

The first bug is that characters eligible for level up would be highlighted in a nasty pink color. Sometimes, the game would bug and not highlight your character. You could go on forever thinking a character had not leveled. This isn't a major bug because if you hit the train command, that character could train. You just had to watch the experience points to know you could.  

The reason I mention this bug first is, there are a bunch of cheat codes for this game. In the DOS versions, you have to do some junk to access them, but on a Mac they were ready to go out of the box. Pressing a certain key combination would bump your character up to the next level. This could make the game unplayable, or at least unrewarding. (I think it was alt-J or -J). This cheat will completely ruin the game. The ⌘-J cheat could age your characters into losing INT or WIS, so be careful. 

The next bug is frustrating. There is a "quick mode" which would have the AI take control of your character(s). First, the AI is pretty stupid and second, it is faster than you. Once quick mode was in effect, hitting the space bar fast enough to stop it was nearly impossible. One trick to get out of it was to remember the character order and slam the space bar before the next character's turn. Frustrating. 

A third bug was the possibility that the game would teleport the party to a room with no exits. Reboot was the only way out as this bypassed the save game menu. You loose progress, but at least you can recover. 

A fourth bug was basically the opposite of the third bug. A monster would generate in a room with no exits. In this case, you couldn't end the battle. You could select flee. You didn't gain treasure or experience, but at least your game could continue without a reboot.  

The are several cheats that are almost necessary to play the game. The players are horribly short of magical arrows and this game power escalates fast. You need +2 arrows right from the start. Unfortunately, you can only buy magical arrows at one point and they are expensive. The other frustrating part of this game is coins are dead weight, slowing your character down and have relatively little value besides Identifying items. So, when you get to the point of being able to purchase magic arrows, you the game has trained you not to carry steel pieces. 

There are two variants of mugging a character for goods. One is in-game and one is out of game. 

In game, you can create a bunch of characters which always generate with specific equipment. Typically, you'll use fighters who start with 40 +2 arrows. Create Bob, Ted, Jim and so on, add them to the party and transfer their gear to a character you intend to play with. Then remove them from the party and delete them. Instant infinity arrows. (Not really, you'd have to do this a lot.) 

The second method is out of game and carries some risk. It is also labor intensive. In the save folder are some files. You'll see all of your characters appear with the ending .qch for Queen CHaracter. These are the files you want to mess with. 

If a character is awarded a cool item save the game and quit. YOU MUST QUIT! 

Hit the ⌘+D to duplicate the whole folder - Twice! Name one "working copy" and the other "backup". Don't touch "backup" unless something goes wrong. Open the game. Steal the item you want from your character. Save and quit. In the finder, duplicate that character in the "working copy" folder. Rename it to <your character's name.qch> and drop it into the Save folder. You'll get a warning that you are overwriting the file. That's ok. 

When you reopen the game, now two characters will have that item. You can repeat as often as you like. In fact, if you reduplicate the folders, you can double the number of items you can steal each time. So one item converts to two on the first cycle, then you duplicate two items on the second cycle for a total of 4. On the third cycle, you have enough for a whole party. I would create a holder character, so I could dump extra good items to them. That was more labor intensive, but effective. 

Back in the day, this was all done on floppies, so you had a slight chance of having a disk failure. Especially if you were using the free CompUSA disks or had hole punched a 400K so it read as 800K. Working on an actual hard drive is easier. 

Since you are in this folder and you have access to huge hard drives, you can make a copy of your whole save folder in case something gets borked. The files labeled SavGam<letter>.QSV are all of your saved games. It's good to have a copy in case you get happy hands and overwrite one. 

There are 2 files in this folder that I could never figure out. VaultA.DAT and VaultB.DAT. The game won't work without them and editing them with a hex editor doesn't work. They also touch your saves and characters, so you can fry your whole game by messing with them. 

I am pretty sure I am not done with this game. Heck, I'm the guy who ran through 100 days of a pen and paper game by the hour, so no I am not done. Only for now. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Over in the lefty column are ads for DriveThruRPG. It takes a bit of work to get them looking nice and when I delete them they are gone. For this reason, I am creating a post with the links so I can save them for the future. I hope you have taken a look at all that Dunromin University Press has to offer. I'll be adding new links in the next day or so. 

SM03 Cityguide to the City of Karan
SM03 Cityguide to the City of Karan
SM03 Cityguide to the City of Karan

SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young
SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young

SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard
SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard
SM12 The Trials of a Young Wizard

SM06 The Warren
SM06 The Warren
SM06 The Warren

SM04 Gazeteer of the Land of the Young
SM04 Gazeteer of the Land of the Young
SM04 Gazeteer of the Land of the Young

SM01 A Players' Guide to Dunromin
SM01 A Players' Guide to Dunromin
SM01 A Players' Guide to Dunromin

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Stop Being Crazy In There!

Chaos Star
As you can tell from the frequency of posts, I have a lot of insanity going on. Where to begin? 

I'm teaching online classes all this week while trying to get my classroom up to NYSED standards. Social distancing for special edu students and all that jazz. Plus there is a ventilation standard, which is wholly dependent on a building inspection that no one at the school has any control of. I don't know what kind of HVAC we have... But that's not all, we have a mandated break starting next Monday which lasts until the first day summer school could start. So, I might be doing a lot of work for not much benefit. And that's not all... We are taking in new students, who really want to be correctly placed in a quality school by summer session, which means no one is assured of that mandated break. No pressure! 

In more minor news, the screen door latch fell off my front door and there are no replacements anywhere in the City of Buffalo. WTH? I had to order one online. I'm now checking USPS tracking like an eBay fanatic. In the meantime, we can't use our front door, even to check the mail... 

Anyway, I just want to post a reiteration that if you would like a link, a review, or whatever, go ahead and contact me at phil<zot :)>viverito at gmail<dot>com or leave me a not in the comments or contact me via or facebook. I'm always happy to link share. 

At some point last week I had a spammer come in and drop a link. It doesn't happen that often but the person was an total asshat about it. What is really rotten about the whole thing is, he was promoting a product that pertains to my website and looks super cool. This isn't like the guy that tried to link his consignment store to my series called 52 Weeks of Magic, as if the items in his shop were real magic items. This product is actually way better than that and it is linked to another product I am ridiculously happy with. 

The name of the company is and like the name implies, they produce 3d printed miniatures. The designs are by Fat Goblin Games, who is a great content producer on DriveThruRPG among other places. I purchased some clipart from them but then found it didn't match my setting, so now it's hanging on my wall as a great D&D themed piece of art. Great stuff. 

Anyway, what about these minis? has a dozens of minis for sale. They look great for any D&D campaign. In perusing the link the spammer left, I though, "Gee, I haven't ordered figures in a while." $30 later, I have an order for 7 Lizardfolk Warriors, 7 Ranged Skeletons and 8 Melee Skeletons

But wait, that's not all! I set up my own affiliate account and if you use those links above, I get a 10% commission. 

And then it gets better. If you use the coupon code "TheseOldGames", you'll receive a 10% discount! I can't wait for my order to come in... Hmm... Damn it! I fell for the spam!. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 8

Jesus, how long does it take to build a house? It's like a have a contractor issue or something. I've had a lot on my plate lately. Sorry for the delay. 

I picked up some more materials for this build. I need some stone for the exterior areas and I found some interesting stuff at the Dollar Store. These white rocks are the right size for this model, but the wrong color. 

I'm going to fix that in this post. 

Anyway, these rocks are white and somewhat crumbly. I could paint them and seal them, but pure white will stand out like a sore thumb and paint will be too unnatural looking. So I am going to dye them, 

I could use ink or something, but that will have the same problems as paint, the color will be too sharp. Instead, I am using coffee and a ball jar. These thing will have to be sealed, but the colors will be natural. 

Anyway, All I am doing is add warm coffee on top a handful of rocks. The material seems dusty, so I expect it's rather porous. 
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

Add the rocks to the jar.
Pour on the coffee. 
Tea also works.
Now add some used coffee grounds.

Now I'll seal up the jar, give it a good shake and leave it sit over night. The liquid coffee will stain the rocks to one shade, while the used grounds will stain everything it touches to a different shade. This is not labor intensive, but it is time consuming. 

Tomorrow evening, I'll open the jar, drain off the ick and rinse them. Old coffee grounds are a good stain, but they smell bad. I'll leave them on a towel to dry for another 24 hours. I could warm them in an oven, but they may smell bad. 

Check back tomorrow to see the next step. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Episode 003 - The Tomb of Horrors Sucks and Everybody Should Be a Bard

Welcome Back! What more can I say after that title? 

I have some new music so let's all give thanks to Kevin MacLeod at for the following tracks:

Parting of the Ways - Part 2 Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Parting of the Ways - Part 1 Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

All hail Mr. MacLeod!

In this episode, I wax poetic about AD&D 1e Bards and Rage Against the worst module ever, Tomb of Horrors.