Well, well, well – we’re nearly to the end of our letter-laden journey and what a ride it’s been. Sure we had some obvious choices with this week’s entry but we kinda already did walls and water. So, time to dig deeper and see what actual D&D-style wells are resting in the Pile.
Ben is often asked, “What’s the most unusual thing in your D&D collection?” Well, that’s a difficult question indeed. That’s like asking one to pick a favorite ice cream flavor. They’re all good in their own special way. But alas, Ben definitely has a favorite item or two on his RPG shelf that possess some quirky qualities.
It’s time for a little pomp and circumstance in our ongoing A to Z RPG series by recognizing the rightful place of Kings in one’s D&D collection.
Despite water’s ongoing terrain headaches & bad AD&D swim-check memories, everybody occasionally wants a boat in their RPG life. So Ben scoured his D&D Pile in an attempt to share some ship-shape options.
Not every D&D accessory leaps out at you or is the size of the Colossal Red. This week Ben reviews some MBA must-haves including the Buddha and Bedroom Set.
You walk up and down Gen Con’s vendor hall – over and over again. Your eyes scan the booths like a lurking Predator and targeting Terminator. Where are thee? Show yourselves! Ben takes pride in this adrenaline-pumping hunt. It separates the Elves from the Half-elves.
Ben was ecstatic with a couple of beauties from Miniature Building Authority at Indy 2010. Thankfully, they’re now available from the company’s Direct Buy program. We’ll only be focusing on a few of ‘em but there’s a growing list of items for you to see.
First, the Buddha – it was Seinfeld-kitschy and had lots of fun uses. Picture it as a daunting temple statue, mysterious forest marker, or simple cave guardian. Plus, a Buddha always makes a man feel good.
Secondly, Ben grabbed a Bedroom Set. It contained two beds, a nightstand and a dresser. The beds are true gems: one is made and the other turned down. The furniture fits into any creature’s wooded cabin, remote farmhouse or humble residence.
Ben’s items were acquired pre-painted. For these kinds of micro-finds, that can be a rarity. If you’re smart, you can get ‘em though. Cons will often paint their prized items/molds for some customer shock and awe. The vendors just won’t sell them in great quantity and often charge a premium. Fair enough – nothing wrong with a little extra effort and currency if the product is done right.
Questions to Ponder: What’s the most unique thing you snagged at a Con? What do you wish you would have bought but passed on at the last second?
A castle and its nearly impenetrable walls bring forth so many iconic fantasy images and magical movie memories. Those sky touching towers, readied archers, bubbling pots of oil, and an impassable portcullis all have RPG meaning to us. Thankfully, the crew over at Miniature Building Authority have the RPG terrain to do your own table right.
There are 11 different castle wall pieces to choose from including the Town Wall, Destroyed Wall, D-Tower, Sally Port, Inner Curved Wall, Outer Curve Wall, Beloved Gate House, 45 Degree Tower, Corner Tower, Tower Hoarding and Stairs. They’re all made for 25 mm scale and can drop into your multiple D&D settings in a pinch.
You can easily get by with a small starter set: 2 Town Walls and the Dwarven Forge Portcullis. Then slowly add a tower option. Then start to sprinkle in some classics like the Gate House and the Crumbled Wall.
Ben also loves terrain that invites lots of different miniatures to play. The WotC series has a myriad of fine choices (to help build variety in your different uses of this terrain).
Plus, it’s easy to inter mix these wall pieces with your existing terrain collection.. While doing Thunderspire Labyrinth’s Horned Hold, Ben had an absolute blast dressing up the MBA castle walls with Dwarven Forge and Hirst Arts pieces.
One of Ben’s first stops at Gencon is the MBA booth. The sheer volume of choices is pure shock and awe. That annual experience conveys the same reaction as the little boys outside the toy store window in a Christmas Story.
Many of the castle pieces are reasonably priced ($29.95 to $69.95) and it’s easy to add to your collection as you go.
Now whose turn is it anyway to storm the gates?
Questions to Ponder: Do you do a lot of village, high-walled assaults? Got a favorite castle-style RPG mod where this terrain would be useful? Got a preferred castle guard mini?
This week Ben shares a smattering of structures that serve nicely in the guard post capacity. A common transition in any D&D adventure, a security checkpoint makes for a handy encounter – whether it’s a brief battle or a fact finding exchange.
Ben retrieved four different buildings from his bookshelf to represent a typical sentry’s station. Each has its own uniqueness and possible storyline spin.
- Lookout Post: This stone tower is a bit on the wee side but perfect for those smaller creatures. One can easily perch a goblin sharpshooter at the top with a few heavy swordsman on the ground. You can nab this item over at JR Miniatures.
- Defensive Tower: This magnificent fortification is part of the Miniature Building Authority European Castle Building Series. This looming battlement is your clear choice for any city entry. You’ve got lots of Wizards miniatures options here too including the Arcanix Guard and the City Guard.
- Woodland Hut: Ben picked up this little shelter off a Gen Con display case but couldn’t even begin to tell ya who makes it. The material is actually all plastic and the company had lots of interesting pieces. Post a comment here if you know the author. Ben puts this building in the poor man’s outpost category – perfect for a middle-of-nowhere locale with tribal-like monsters.
- Turtle Shell: This dwelling comes from that same who-knows manufacture as the Woodland Hut. Ben sees this building placed in a swampland area or as the home of a single crazed creature. The giant turtle shell roof is a sweet-ass touch.
Questions to Ponder: What was your favorite building? Got a mod in mind that had a great guard tower scene or battle opportunity? Who makes those pre-cast plastic pieces in that one pic?
Be honest now…when has a bridge crossing on your game board ever passed over without incident? The answer is of course, never. Ya see no certifiably sane DM can resist an encounter in such a tantalizing environment – the opportunities are endless.
Ben scours the RPG landscape for bridges on a regular basis. He stumbled across a particularly palatable piece from Miniature Building Authority’s original High Adventure Series. The exquisite detail sealed the deal with perfectly painted planks, weathered ropes, and a couple gaping holes.
D&D 4E’s Thunderspire Labyrinth gave Ben a prime opportunity to test his coveted find (as each fortress of the Horned Hold is connected by a bridge over a deep chasm). Athletic checks and jaw-dropping dice roll rescue checks ensued. Be sure to watch the fun unfold on a future video podcast.
Still lots of options are there for the taking. Ben has tried to build his own with some mild success. Hirst Arts opens your creative mind with Mold 282 (bridge planks) and the imposing Fieldstone Bridge Mold #74 (the complete package).
Every GM needs a bridge in his arsenal cause simply skipping across it just ain’t fun. There’s blood to be had.
Ben’s favorite source for 25mm building models is Miniature Building Authority. They build and sell resin cast pre-painted miniature buildings that are ready to use out of the box. No need to cast the molds or paint them.
You will see many of their buildings featured in Ben’s RPG Pile but the impressive Guild Hall gets the first plug. It’s perfect for a small town setting such as Winterhaven (from Keep on the Shadowfell).
The Guild Hall has two floors and a removable roof. The paint job rocks and it’s just the right size for your game table and book shelf. Ben gives the nod to the Guild Hall as the perfect start to your miniature building collection.