Suffering From The Game Pimp Hand


One of the joys of pimping out my games with scenery, or even trying to make print and play games a little snazzier, is that it's an excuse to break out the arts & crafts skills that I never fully developed as a child, but found I enjoy more and more as I get older. Plus, mom as all about the arts and crafts, so doing it makes me smile. I've yet to make anything perfectly right for any of the gaming stuff I'm played around with and made over the past couple of years. Well, ever, but I've been trying to actively do a better job the past couple of years. Most of the time I'm about to screw something up and along the way of fixing it, come up with something that will work - battle damage and weathering are great for covering up mistakes from little to big.

Sometimes, there's no weathering or battle damage to fall back on.

I've been moving forward with wanting to play Gaslands. I can't just print movement templates and start playing with cars on a table top. Hell no! The first thing I need is a map to play on. While I have a few roads for my zombie-infested streets, those streets are of the wrong scale for my needs. Enter Dave via RPGNow and his Wasteland Dirt Track. Although I love a modular map, I really like the layout of Dave's track. I liked it enough I bought it at full price - which I seldom do at RPGNow since they have almost as many sales as Steam. The map is scaled for Hot Wheels (1/64), but I've decided to play at a smaller scale of 1/87. Luckily, this is as easy as printing 1/64 at 73%.

Since this isn't a modular board, my plan was to print out the track at home and glue it to foam board. It's well documented that cutting a straight line isn't my strong suit. I ended up printing 25 7.5" square sections to glue onto 2 foam boards I would fit together. I couldn't find 1 foam board big enough at Hobby Lobby, unfortunately. With everything printed out, I used Aileens Stick Tack on the foam board, applied and lined up my printed and cut piece of track, and moved on the next square.

Once everything dried, it was unusable. The foam board had bowed up on the edges, thanks to the glue drying and contracting. When I held 1 end of the board flush to the table, the opposite end was curved up about 2½" above the table. Weighting the board down for 2 days didn't make a noticable difference.

Every other time I've glued onto foam board I've used smaller sections (8" instead of 30"), different glue (Elmers, or even spray adhesive), and usually card stock paper instead of the regular stuff I printed on. There's enough things to do differently, and I never thought about the board bowing up screwing me on this one, that I don't yet know what Plan B is.

#2 on the Make Gaslands Cool is custom dice. There's a nice chart to map dice numbers to the 6 symbols on the dice. You can fairly easily print out the dice, fold, glue, and have your own dice. We don't roll that way here, though!

I came across a video showing Mod Podge Photo Transfer goop. Laser print something, apply goop, stick it on thing to transfer to, come back a day later with a moist cloth and rub the paper away, leaving the laser ink (I know there's a better name, but I like the way it sounds). This sounds better than the ink jet waterslide decals I've had mixed luck with in the past. I wanted to try this method to make some Gaslands dice!

Back at Hobby Lobby, I picked up a bag of ¾" wooden cubes. I wanted to test this out on something my meaty fingers could easily manipulate. I printed out the dice icons from the Gaslands site, cut them, applied the Podge to 1 side of 1 cube to sample, and a day later rubbed it with a moist cloth. The videos I'd seen had people transferring family photos to wood, and I was basically doing the same. When I rubbed the paper off, the icon showed fine, but it also had a white background. For whatever reason, my paper didn't rub all the way off. Still, it looked fine, so I'll go ahead and do the other dice.

I proceeded to cut and apply 6 faces to 6 die. I allowed some proper drying time between each face just so I wouldn't move around a recently applied piece of paper while trying to apply another side - which ended up being at least 4 hours per side. At the end of the weekend I moistened a washcloth and began rubbing the paper off. Everything looked ok, but a little off. I could tell the paper wasn't coming off uniformly. Some of the videos showed going over with the moist rag multiple times. On the final die I decided to be a little more agressive, and ended up rubbing the paper, with the printed icon, all the way off.

It appears I'd not transferred a photo, but merely found an overly complicated way to paste paper to a wooden cube.

In tracking down the cause of this one, I think it's because my paper wasn't 100% laser printer compatible. It's marked for use in ink jet or laser, adn I noticed I could actually feel a little texture on some of the printings. While my oversized wooden cube dice are usable, they're not really worth moving forward with. It'd be better to just make some clear label stickers to put on blank dice.

For my slowest evolving project - the water tower - I decided to move forward on a test version where I can learn some stuff. Paper mache style paper covering of styrofoam is the big hurdle here. What most kids learn while getting their hands sticky with water and glu in the 4th grade I skipped.

My test water tower needs legs to rais it above ground. &frag12;" square dowels will work! I simple square, 4-legged base is all I need. It owuld be easier if the legs were joined together by cross-supports and just let the tower kind of sit on top. The dowels were about a yard long, and I decided the legs would be 8". I could cut 4 legs and use the left over for 1" cross supports.

The last time I cut dowels they were small enough I could use some razor shears (again, not sure what they're really called, but it's a 5 inch razor blade attached to glorified scissor handles).Said shears did not work on these dowels. I got out the dremel and attached the wood cutting blade. 8" lengths were cut, then I went to cut 1" sections from the remainder. While the wood cutting blade works great, the body of the dremel was in the way of making a straight cut. In the end, I had 4 lengths for legs that I could even out at the same length, and 10 meant-to-be 1" lengths that were jagged and nowhere near each other.

My dremel is not good for fine cutting. In the end, I went back to Hobby Lobby and bought a bag of ½" cubes to glue together as needed.

I've made scaled down movement templates for Gaslands. I attempted to make oversized dice. On the Friends of Gaslands page, people are linked to that sell customized whatnot for the game, and many make movement templates. 1 guy, who I don't want to name here, had a nice selection of colored acryllic templates. He also sold a set of dice that looked of pretty good quality. I contacted him and asked if he could make a scaled down (73%) version of the templates. We emailed back and forth a hand full of times as it seemed each time I answered a question it led to another legitimate question. After getting what felt like all the info he needed from me to put together a quote, I didn't hear anything back. Maybe I had too many questions? Maybe I came across as flaky (at least 1 of my answers led to not being able to use semi-transparent acryllic). Maybe the cost isn't worth the hassle?

While I could easily email him back, I've mostly convinced myself it's not worth moving forward on. at least not now. Later on I'll start thinking about getting a home CNC setup like Christian. I may have also spent too much time looking at YouTube videos of home laser cutters and acryllic - which require way too much tweaking for my attention to detail.

For now, though, my little cardstock-on-really-thin-chipboard templates will do. I went ahead and made left-turn versions to go with the right-turns instead of just flipping them over.

Hoping to salvage a little something along the way, I decided to prep the garbage cans and camping set I got off an eBay sale from TTCombat a while back. I haven't painted anything in over a month, and trash scenery shouldn't be too hard. First up, some cut wood which just needed a base coat of tan.

I then learned what happens when that cheap damn Krylon, that I said I wasn't going to use anymore, is more empty than it first felt. First, there's a hiss and spew as compressed air tries to shoot out some paint. Next, a mostly liquid stream glops out. My cut wood now has the equivalent of maybe 6 coats of paint.


I've since trashed what was screwed up or stored away what I'll attempt to fix later. Time to go back to something more structured and get back into my groove. I have two more shotgun houses to make, sitting on a shelf. The first one was a good learning experience that wasn't too frustrating. I have an idea on how to make the 2nd pass better.

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