Category Archives: DIY Projects & El Cheapo Gaming

He Man & Friends

Finally got lucky at the local Dollar Tree! For a while, the Dollar Tree thing going around RPG circles was the $1 set of dice. The new one is this set of He-Man figures.

And yes they are $1 each. Which still isn’t bad compared to the prices standard prepainted minis. Sure they are about 54mm scale making them bigger than your standard D&D mini. Which is OK by me. I’ve gathering cheap (at that time) off market minis from other dollar stores and grabbing up sets on Amazon before D&D was cool.

Remember; dice, paper, pencil, and imagination are more important than things with an “offical” label and a mark up. Also, it’s already starting gamers. Back to school stuff is hitting the shelves, so it’s time pick up those gaming essentials at good prices.

Owl Bear Rodeo

Yeah, I know that I’m a little late on the band wagon and that many folks have already been playing online for over a year. Let’s just say I was holding out and too many real life things just go in the way. But any way, I’m finally starting up on online game with some members of the old gaming group.

Of course, lots of folks had already done a lot of legwork and it really helped researching about what tools to use. After a little debate with group we finally decided on Discord for our choice for video/audio/text chat. For the Virtual Table Top, I decided to with Owlbear Rodeo.

Sure there’s lots of VTT’s out there. And many of them have a ton of really bells and whistles. But comparing the others to the way I like to run games the choice was clear.

Most importantly, the learning curve for Owlbear Rodeo isn’t that steep. After playing around with it and watching a couple of Youtube videos, I pretty much got a solid feel on how to use. It also means that my players don’t have to mess around and make yet another account/login. On the downside, I’m making one either. Sure that’s easy on me but Owlbear Rodeo saves everything in your browser. So you don’t have an “account” with it. They have added a means to import and export your data since it’s sitting in your browser and if you switch devices, browsers, or clear out your browser the stuff is gone. That really doesn’t bother me.

Let my tell you. And this is another selling point for me. Owlbear Rodeo feels most like throwing down a battle mat and some mini’s. I can load up custom maps for each encounter but then I’ve never really done that at the table and it’s much handier when there’s random encounters or the party doesn’t jump on board the plot train.

Owlbear Rodeo come out of the virtual box with basic tools you need to set up a map and get to rolling dice (and yes it does have a dice roller). You can upload custom maps although larger sized files may cause some lag. Personally, I made a very simple battle mat with Dungeon Scrawl. It’s just a simple 12 x12 grid which IMHO is big enough for most encounters. The file size is smaller than the builtin maps and should load faster for my players. I also tested out making a bunch of custom tokens. I already had a bunch of inspiration art in a folder and headed out to Token Stamp and made over 50 tokens in a couple of minutes. Will I use all of them? Probably not but I’ve got them if I need them. A quick Internet search also leads to some useful tools like a Spell Effects Template and Initiative Tracker.

There’s a few other selling points. Players can use it on a tablet or even their smart phone. And it’s free! I know this is cool but this also a small project built with passion and they do have a Patreon which I encourage folks to support.

Now if you don’t believe my rants then take from someone prettier and smarter than I am.


I don’t mind bring up something cool from the past. As I was digging thru DrivethruRPG, I had totally forgotten about Talislanta.

The original system is a pretty simple one and can be easily tweaked or converted to whatever old-school rules you like. But you can totally ignore the rules themselves and delve into the fluff and modify it the way wish into your own campaign. And there’s wild stuff there that any enterprising GM can use for inspiration. There’s so much that I’m not really going to do a review here on it. Let me just say that it can be worth your time to give it look.

Back in 2010, the older editions were released under a Creative Commons license. And that means, you can grab up those old PDF’s on DrivethruRPG for free.

So if you’re looking for something that’s different and out of the ordinary. Give this stuff a chance. And as always. Still No Elves.

The Return of El Cheapo Gaming

I don’t how long it’s been since I did an El Cheapo Gaming post. I just haven’t stumbled across anything new or cool. Let’s also face it that a lot stores are still closed, and inventories are down. But it doesn’t mean that I haven’t tinkered with some of my toys.
There’s a lot more options than when I started ranting about doing things on the cheap. 3-D printing was still pretty much in the prototype stage and readily available to your average hobbyist. Heck. I still don’t have one. Not sure if I will. But we shall see on that.
For this post, I want talk about my favorite things in DM Box of wonder. First, a few Legos or the generic knock-offs. You don’t need a lot maybe a dozen or so. I’ve used them for altars, tables, desks, whatever. They’re just all around handy.
The second toy that travels in my box are the wall sections that I made.

It took some experimentation but I’ve found the perfect system for me. First, go to your local hardware store and get some 3/4 inch stock. This usually comes in 3 feet section for only a couple of bucks. I looked at other sizes; 5/8 was just too small and 1 inch just seem too tall. I wanted something all of the players at the table could see over without any trouble. Then I just it down into convenient sizes: 6″, 5″, 4″, 3″, 2″ and 1″. The 1″ pieces are special. I use them for doors. Just stand on edge so it’s 1″ tall and the door stands out and is taller than the wall section. I just hand painted a door on there.
For the other lengths, I ran a little sand paper on the “top” two edges and rounded the corners a bit. This is really necessary but does add a little to the appearance when your looking up close. Then just paint them gray with cheap acrylic paint. After the paint dries, I mark off 1″ sections and paint lines with black paint. These don’t have to be perfect. It’s OK that they’re a little wavy or even off a bit. Makes them look a little more natural. You can add more details if you want but it just let stand as is as extra details can be distracting.
In play, I just lay out the walls for the room. I don’t worry about using any dungeon tiles. I use the markings on the walls as a general guide. I like to hit this weird mid-point between theater of the mind and using miniatures. I don’t worry about exact tactical movement. Just give everybody a rough idea where the party and the monsters are.
And there you go.

Return of the GM Notebook/Bag

I haven’t wrote about this a long time and I figured it’d be a good idea to update this rant. Because really you probably should update your GM bag/notebook with each new campaign.
Since I’ve picked up a lot of things since that last post and I’m a way different game than your normal adventure crawl I’ve taken some stuff out the rotation and added a couple of things. Since I’m running The Blight. I, of course, have that book in my bag. And that’s a huge chunk of weight. That thing is dang near 900 pages. I’m running it with Swords & Wizardry so there’s that book. I just got Bill Webb’s Decks of Dirty Tricks so that got added. Before I did have the Encounter, Treasure, and Hireling Decks for Swords & Wizardry but I took them out for this game. The most valuable thing I did add back was the old Chaosium Cities book. That thing is great for random when you’re running a city based game. I’ve kept my notebook very slim. The only things I actually use are some scratch paper and the handy Attack Save Cheat Sheet that I made earlier. And my dice, of course.
I dropped a lot the miniatures out of the big bag. You just don’t need a lot of the standard dungeon denizens if the characters are running around in the city. So the mini’s that I am lugging around are more like the humanoid PC type, undead and the occasional demon. That covers most bases. Remember that bag look like this when I running Labyrinth Lord.

I know this is just a rant but here’s my advice. Redo your GM bag and notebook, every time you start a new campaign. Especially, if you’re changing up rules too. And if you’re a player. Same thing. It’s a pain to lug around things you don’t need.
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