The Best Miniatures on a Budget (Take 2)

I’ve talked about this before–the minis I use for my table.

I had the same problems most DMs find themselves having when they want miniature-based (or grid-based) combat… minis themselves. They’re a nexus of three major conflicts:

  1. Reference – we want miniatures that can be used in the place of monsters and players in a way that makes it easy to know what the heck they are. That old box of half-painted Warhammer figures and some random Bones minis, etc. is a disappointment because, end of the day, you end up having to say “that wolf there, that’s the hellhound; yeah, and that blue guy? he’s the Helmed Horror; and that giant is a dragon”.  Proxies (objects used to represent things) are a legit way of doing it all, but even then, random proxies are terrible (“I shoot at the hobgoblin!”…”Which one?”…”the d20 over there by Bill; no that one… no THAT one”).
  2. Quality – Paper miniatures can be alright, but they’re fragile. Cheap minis rip and break and it’s just no fun. Flimsy plastic warps. In the end, we want something with a little table weight, something durable, something consistent, and useful.  Quality.
  3. Cost – Sure… if we had an unlimited budget, then an unlimited inventory of well painted monsters of all kinds could be at hand. But, that’s not practical, it’s not cheap.  We would love to be in and out of the mini market for under $100 (many of us) and under $50 (if we’re lucky).

So, my solution was to take a note or two from other games.

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A Hardcover Magic Item Compendium That’s Better Than Nothing…

Well, we’re finally doing it... we’re in pre-production and principle art design for our first ever supplement to 5E D&D!  Many-Sided Dice will be the proud pioneer of the largest, professionally produced compendium of magic items and wonders out there.

Hundreds of new designs and images, a full in-character guide through the word of weird artifacts and lost treasures! Guaranteed to add so much content to your D&D game you will absolutely wet yourself with excitement.  Heck, we all did!

Please sign up below to get (occasional) notifications in the coming weeks about the launch of our Kickstarter, giveaways and prizes for our fans, and find out how you can get your hands on the book!

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A Costly Grace, An Artful Ward, and A Level Playing Field…

Martyr’s Shift

The others were drunk or laughing or both, a high fire popping and hissing wood while they celebrated.  The road had been long, the journey fraught with peril, and today they won through. It was dead. And the long miles and weeks of hunting it back to its manse, dispatching it’s minions–even with the losses they suffered and the friends they buried–were worth it. As Sir Broadways watched them all smiling and cheering each other through the gap in his tent, he felt the costs more than the joy. 

He took off his heavy golden armor, piece by weighty piece, and slowly–laying each down with care and respect. He took his padding off, the old quilted garment common to thick plate, and knelt in his shift.  The old blood stains–here, from that crossbow bolt last year; there, from the ax of that vile dark thing from his youth–were accented by a fresh one still red and damp and sticky. The creature had conjured some fierce and dark lance and there is where it would have pierced him had the old paladin not stopped it.

A cheer went up in the camp and the explosive and infectious laughter of Tanner.  Let them enjoy themselves, Broadways thought, I can still pay the costs…

History:  (Religion DC 15) The old orders of knights and The Faith from the long fallen Northern Empire still carry some of the artifacts of power or piety with them. Among these few and far flung pieces of careful, divine blessing are Martyr’s Shifts–seemingly normal, though well-made, cloth longshirts.  If not for the golden thread in the stitching, one would mistake them for any such shifts any armored or active individual might wear under their clothes in any part of the world.

But these were created through a slow and careful pledge to their now half-forgotten goddess that their wearer would trade his life, in what bits and pieces they must, to fight on righteously for Her glory and to protect Her people. They’re the simple clothes of a long dead pious warrior. As venerable as the bones of a Saint. One must be baptized, wearing only the shift, in natural waters (no particular faith or creed necessary, only a rebirth and personal oath to live to protect the weak) in order to attune.

System: Once attuned (see History), the shift allows the wearer to negate damage against themselves after the damage dice are rolled.  After a successful attack hits them, and after the damage dice are rolled, but before they are applied to the character, the player may use their Reaction (assuming they have it available) to remove as many of the rolled damage dice as they want.

For example, in the case of a greatsword attack against them that hits and does 3 (dice one) + 5 (dice two) +2 (strength) damage against them, they may elect to use their Reaction to activate the shift and take the 5, the 3, or both away–this has no effect on the remaining non-dice related damage.

Doing so, however, runs a 25% chance of removing 1 permanent maximum HP from the character for every dice removed.  So, in the event of removing 1 dice, roll 1d4 and on a 1 remove one permanent maximum HP from the character.  In the event of removing 2 dice, roll 2d4 and for every 1 rolled remove 1 HP from the character.  These HP removals aren’t a curse (and cannot be fixed by uncursing or restoring), they’re a cost.  They may not be wished or miracled back in any conventional magical sense as they aren’t “lost”.  They’re freely given away, divinely.

Finding and returning the shift to a priest or temple of the old Northern faiths (rare and lost to time) may restore those “paid” HP to the character at the cost of ever being able to use it again–DM’s are encouraged to make finding such people or places whole adventure arcs on their own as it has been centuries gone.

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A New Project – A New Series

Oh, it’s been a while… I know.

And, to preview fans on upcoming updates, over the last year we’ve been creating content but it just hasn’t made it here, yet.  There are a couple of hundred new Better Than Nothing items coming in the months ahead (and some revisions of existing ones), a few new expansions on both the Kalamar Legacy and new Greyghast series of setting details and information, and (most proudly) we are exploring our first ever “filming D&D” experience!

There are a ton of great series’ out there–of course there are.  And I enjoyed tuning into the phenomenal “Critical Role” and others, but every DM and every table has their own style and flavor and I hadn’t yet seen mine out there.  So… we’re working through logistics and schedule and plan on seeing how best to make this happen.

Wish us luck.

Variant Clerics and Faiths in Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

So, a big chunk of updating Kalamar is updating the information for all the gods and goddesses–and there are a ton. Kalamar is a Divine heavy game. The Variant clerics for each faith (and each faith is really fleshed out with a rank-up system independent of level that gives PC’s something work work towards from an RP standpoint) are niche and clever and detract very little from the overall game.

Most of my favorite clerics ever were Kalamar Variant clerics that players played in my game. Really giving themselves over to non-ambiguous religions expectations and duties.

Our first pass at this will be the Good gods and goddesses and faiths.  We’ve got a Google Spreadsheet that outlines the following:

  • Temple Name (name of the faith)
  • Standards (alignment, spheres of influence, favored weapons, name of holy books, etc)
  • Restrictions (because with the new 5e cleric domain mechanics, it makes the most sense to identify banned domains moreso than what is the included–a subtle clustering of clerics this way and that without needing to invent a dozen new domains to make the perfect domain).
  • Ranking and titles (and duties for those cleric ranks)
  • Variant Channel Energy (what the Variant clerics do instead of turning Undead)

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Divine Right of Kings for Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

One of the clever parts of the old Kingdoms of Kalamar setting was the Divine Right of Kings mechanic which granted divine bonuses to nobility and royalty in the world passively. So, NPC kings really did have a sort of “divine right” to rule. It wasn’t that a particular God or Goddess chose them, so much as it was that because the world was very VERY friendly to divine magic (four dozen fleshed out deities and variant clerics, which we’re working on updating to 5e now) that the makers wanted to represent how that would influence the building of nations.

So, we’ve done and tested our own update for that system and simplified it. The pre-requisites are guidelines, of course–in one region a Duke may be a slightly different title or amongst one remote town, their “king” might be that in name but properly rank only a 5 on the Divine Right chart.  Flexible is the key.

The idea here, below is that PC’s have something to think about when meeting NPCs. Its one thing to RP naturally that the Duke is a powerful man, but it adds a whole new dimension when one is confronted with that same NPC having some stats and a sort of Divine Favor for their rule. At the least, it should make assassination plots harder and really emphasize why an Assassin Rogue needs all those dice to kill one simple non-PC character. Continue reading

The Best Budget Minis for Practical Needs

So, we’ve tested out a number of mini solutions. Cardboard stands (too light, too fragile, seem to look nice but feel in the way).  Reaper minis (beautiful but not cheap to field a whole game of NPCs and monsters with).  D&D minis (beautiful and perfect, but definitely expensive) and everything else under the sun, it seems.

What we game with most times are simple to make, materially tough and robust enough to handle drops and sloppy packing and unpacking, clear and clean to see from across the table, useful for tracking actual combats, and even customizable for players.

These are our “everyday clay” minis. Continue reading