Marrow Productions’ Journey: Wrath of Demons Unboxing

I received my basic pledge from the Journey: Wrath of Demons Kickstarter today. The box was fairly heavy, and thick, to protect the single box contents. First, let’s discuss what’s included with the basic box plus the boxed game upgrade from the Kickstarter. Then, at the end, I will include images taken when I pulled open the box on the dining room table.

Here is a quick video of Kei Lun, Heavenly Creature:

I bought into the Single Journey Early Bird Special which included the “Boxed Game Upgrade” stuff from the Kickstarter bonus, including all this found here:

• 4 Pilgrims: The Monkey King, Tripitaka, Cho Hakkai, Monk Sha

• 3 Demon Lords: Koorogg the Bull Demon King, Yazuiji the Empress Iron Fan, Kogaiji (Koorogg’s son)

• 2 Borrack Bull Generals

• 3 Boof Bullserkers

• 5 Bharhaz Bull Archers

• 15 Berrok Bull Warriors (1 pose but two weapons)

• 1 Kei Lun Heavenly Creature

The above is from the basic game, found on game shelves once it hits retail. My KS copy includes the following extras:

  • 33 + 15 highly detailed plastic miniatures including:
  • 4 Original Pilgrims (all different) + 1 Dragon Princess Xiao Yan
  • 3 different Boss Demons
  • 1 huge Heavenly Creature
  • 25 + 9 Bull Demons in 4 different types and poses
  • + 2 Bone Warriors
  • + 3 Independent Demons (Zing Yau x 1, Jing Yau x 2)
  • 9 large doubled-sided color map tiles and other scenery tiles
  • 6 custom dice + 6 KS Exclusive dice
  • Full color rules and scenario book
  • Over 100 cards from the core game
  • + 4 KS Exclusive Skill Cards, +20 KS Exclusive Fortune/Misfortune Cards,+15 KS Exclusive Nightmare Deck Cards, + 15 KS Exclusive Nightmare Cards
  • + 4 Plastic Initiative Tokens

Journey Base Extras

Here is the image of all the contents:

single journey

Finally, here are the images as I pulled them from the box:

Kickstarter: MidKnight Heroes Miniatures

Hi all.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but this Kickstarter project got me excited.  The guys at MidKnight Heroes are running a funding campaign to get their core group of miniatures off the ground.

The goal is to fund the first three miniatures in their range with rewards adding new miniatures at rising funding goals. Below you have Elvia, Leonide, and Oda, the three heroes of the MidKnight Heroes world.

MidKnight Heroes Core Characters

MidKnight Heroes Core Characters

They have started sculpting their first mini, Leonide, a race of Fai (humanoid monster race) which you can see below.  I think this is a great start to awesome looking miniature.




Finally, here is a link to the MidKnight Heroe’s Website, and a link to their Kickstarter.

Drybrushing is Your Friend: Completed Ruined Pillars From Advanced Terrain

I completed a set of ruined pillars tonight using some simple drybrushing techniques.

The pillars come from Advanced Terrain who had a Kickstarter back in 2010, I believe, and even though the store is closed, I was able to order some of the ruined pillars as seen above.Advanced Terrain who had a Kickstarter back in 2010, I believe, and even though the store is closed, I was able to order some of the ruined pillars as seen above.

The pillars and other terrain sets are rubber, and are molded after Hirst Arts terrain.  It’s some of my favorite terrain.

I will be using this stuff for Recruits this weekend when I do my Hell Dorado and Relic Knights events.

Although I didn’t paint these, they came from the Kickstarter painted.  This is what my other set looks like:Kickstarter painted.  This is what my other set looks like:

Ruined Walls

This is some great terrain and Patrick ever opens his shop up again, I’ll be buying some more.

The Painting Continues- Hell Dorado Saracen Starter

I’m still working on that Saracen starter for Hell Dorado slowly but surely.  Below you’ll find some pictures of the leader, Nazir  Ibn Hamid Ibn Hajjad and his trusty sidekick Youssaff.

Hell Dorado Logo

Hell Dorado Logo

I’ve been painting the entire starter up now for about two months, which shows how slow of a painter I am since I don’t sit down to paint on a regular basis.

cipherlogo Youssaff describes Nazir as being so compassionate, he wept for every soul lost in the battles in Hell. Therefore, Nazir asked Youssaf to burn his out with his scimitar so that he shall forever see the light of Allah.  Youssaff has been his companion ever since.

In game, Nazir provides a good use of buffs as well as hitting power.  However, you don’t want to lose him in the game as he provides quite a bit of the army’s command points at 5.  Since command is important, you want to keep Nazir around.  However, with Nazir’s healing ability, you’ll want to get him into base to base with your allies so they can be healed.  Being near Nazir gives the rest of the army a +1 to combat, which is nice, but again, you have to keep him towards the front of the army.


Besides some touch-up and a couple little spots of black, I think he is done.



Below, you can see the progress I was before the previous painting session. Not the bands on the arms, the embroidery on Nazir’s cloth, his beard, and jewel are not painted as shown above.

For the sword, I tried an experiment using non-metallic metal style of painting.  There are a lot of tutorials to view for this.  I didn’t do that good of a job as I’m still learning.  However, I used the method of NMM for the sword, then glazed over it with Plate Mail Metal paint by The Army Painter.




The choice of colors was based on the fact that I wanted something more colorful and brighter than the off-white of Youssaf’s trousers and the rest of the traditional garb of the other models.

I started off with P3 Menoth White Base, an off white color, then, added some RMS Linen White for the highlights.  I washed the cloth with P3 Flesh Wash, then went back over the cloth to bring the color back up to the highlights.

For the blue on Nazir’s outfit, I started with Warpaint Electic Blue.  I added some of the base from Youssaf’s pants to the blue to highlight it up.  I used P3 blue wash, then went back through with highlights.

For Youssaf’s skin, I used P3 Idrian Flesh, and also some RMS Earth Brown and slowly added in some lighter brown such as Leather brown from the Warpaint line for the highlights.

The Hell Dorado models are nice, and have a lot of character.  They do require some clean-up as the mold line is obvious, but not bad.  A simple file such as a fingernail file or miniature file will do the trick.

Below is a stock photograph of Nazir and Youssef from the Cipher Site:

Nazir Studio Scheme


Finally, here is a group shot of the starter, with Nazir and Chalms done, while the blessed warriors and Pillar of Faith continue to get paint slapped on them.

Saracen Starter WIP

I’ll keep everyone updated with progress!

Gamer OCD

I know that many of us gamers have Gamer OCD, I do.
I mean I really, really do.
Like crazy bad.
I go through phases when all I want to do is play all the armies of all the games. Then I suddenly don’t.
Gamer OCD.

Perhaps it stems from a need to figure out exactly which army and which system fits your specific gamer “style”. Perhaps it’s just boredom, then again perhaps you want to be a total gamer wizard and play them all. Either way, it can be an extremely debilitating issue. I know when I’m going through it (which right now I’m not thank goodness) it can be an extremely expensive problem. And also confusing because you are always looking for what you want to play and if you want to play this game or that game, what army you want to play, how you want to paint them. The list goes on! My personal con with having gamer OCD is the spendyness of it and the fact that I take forever to decide how I want to paint my minis. I love all the games I’ve played and factions I’ve played within those games, but for some reason nothing ever really filled the void I had. That is until I found Cipher Studios and Soda Pop Miniatures. I have finally discovered two companies that produce stunning models and really solid rule sets.
So if you have the plague known as gamer OCD you have a few options, you can keep buying all the factions of all the games selling stuff as you grow sick of it or you can keep trucking through till you find the game(s) and faction(s) that make your heart sing. I have found my happy games. So I encourage you, if you have gamer OCD, to find out which option works best for you.

Happy gaming!

Soda Pop Miniatures Interview: Forgotten King and More

Soda Pop Miniatures recently finished a new Kickstarter for Super Dungeon Explore (SDE) called the Forgotten King on April 16th, as well as rocked the hobby gaming world with the announcement that they parted ways with Cool Mini or Not, the previous publisher of Super Dungeon Explore.  They are now working with the guys from Ninja Corps, who led a successful Kickstarter campaign for Robotech RPG Tactics.  Forgotten King ended the Kickstarter campaign with 6, 689 backers with a total pledge value of  $1,151,889, averaged to a little more than $172 a backer.

Cipher Studios and Soda Pop Miniatures logo

Soda Pop Miniatures logo

Let’s dive into the the questions and focus on their Kickstarter for SDE and see whatever else they may have planned for all of us gamers in regards to their other games and the hobby industry.  The questions were answered by Deke at Soda Pop Miniatures.

Supder Dungeon Explores world of Crystalia

Supder Dungeon Explore’s world of Crystalia

1.  So, Super Dungeon Explore (SDE)has been out for a few years now, and I remember doing a demonstration at Gen Con 2010.  Since then, SDE has had a few new releases and mini-expansions, but this new Kickstarter is for a stand alone expansion.  What was the impetus for this new stand alone game?  What was the choice behind using Kickstarter?

As you say, Super Dungeon Explore has been around for a few years and, like any game, we’ve found things that we want to improve and expand upon. This is also our first foray into self publishing, so we felt that a revision to Super Dungeon Explore was a great way to start out on this new adventure.Kickstarter is great for for several reasons. Obviously it helps generate capital to get a project off the ground. It also serves as a fantastic marketing vehicle, where we get to spend a month really highlighting the project and generating interest.

2.  Soda Pop did a unique thing by having one pledge level for The Forgotten King.  How did you decide to go against the grain and only have one pledge level?

We’ve discovered from past experience with Kickstarters that multiple pledge tiers can really complicate the fulfillment end of the Kickstarter. It can also be bothersome for backers, who may feel like they’re missing out on something by not getting an expensive tier. In the end we knew that the focus of the the Kickstarter was to get people to buy the main game and be able to play. One tier makes that super easy.

3.  The Forgotten King is a stand alone game.  How is The Forgotten King different than the original SDE core game?

Forgotten King is a revision of the original Super Dungeon Explore rules. It’s our opportunity to clean up and expand the existing rules, while still allowing you to use all your existing models. The big new feature for Forgotten King is the cooperative Arcade mode which allows you to play with an automated dungeon.

4.  For those people who have the original SDE and expansions, do they need to do anything in particular to update their existing rules to the new Forgotten King rules?

Forgotten King will come with an errata sheet that will cover the largest changes that you need to adapt your existing collection to the new rules. However, the best way to fully integrate your existing models into the new system will be with the Upgrade Decks. We will have one upgrade deck for each level we’re previously released, with revised cards for every model and unit.

5.  If someone misses the Kickstarter or misses out on the updated cards, what is the next best way to get their updated items?

Nothing in the Kickstarter is exclusive, so players will be able to get all the updated cards they need once the main game enters retail.

Forgotten King Logo

6.  There have been a lot of stretch goals in this Kickstarter.  Some are “loot” goals and some are ‘blacksmith” goals.  The loot goals add new items for free to the pledge level while blacksmith goals are unlocks that you have to buy to get.  What do you think is the coolest goal we’ve seen for both the loot and blacksmith categories, and why?

My favorite loot goal that we had was Brave-Mode and Shadow-Mode Candy. The light/dark Hero is a very classic component to old school RPGs and it was really fun to be able to do that with our iconic mascot.My favorite blacksmith goal was hands-down, the warband boxes, specifically the Claws of the Wyrm one. I am a big fan of the warband boxes as an easy way to expand your game of Super Dungeon Explore. The Claws of the Wyrm expand my favorite monsters, the Kobolds with an incredible new stock of units.

7.  Are there any items or goals that you wanted to include in the Forgotten King Kickstarter that you just couldn’t, in one way or another, include?  Can you give us any hints as to what they might be?

We have a huge amount of Crystalia planned out and I want to get to it all! We have many regions that are still unexplored and we can wait to visit them.

8.  Do you think having two “core” games of SDE will split your fans into original and new supporters, effectively splitting your fan base?  If so, what are some strategies you are might use to bridge that gap between the original and new fan bases?

We don’t think the fanbase will split. In general we find that gamers always prefer to use the most up-to-date rules system that is available and Forgotten King will be the current system that everything else is built off of. Since all the previous models can be easily used with the revised ruleset we think most people will adopt it.

9.  What has been the biggest challenge in getting The Forgotten King to Kickstarter?

Forgotten King is a big project and getting all the wheels moving in the same direction for art, sculpt, rules, etc. is always a big challenge. It’s compounded a bit by the fact that we are also setting up the infrastructure to self publish. Which is quite a large task. Needless to say we are keeping very busy around here!

10.  Speaking of challenges, how do you handle topics like “sculpted eyes” or no on your SDE Forgotten King minis?  Do you go with the fans or do you go with what is suggested in house?  I can imagine a lot of discussion goes on in the office about things like that.

We are always open to community feedback, and it is very fun to be able to do things like our poll we did for the facial expression on the new dungeon boss, Goro. That said, in the end, we always make sure we stay consistent with our vision of the product and the world. Otherwise you run the risk of the classic “too many cooks in the kitchen” dilemma.

11.  Currently, many people are in the middle of waiting for your last Kickstarter, Relic Knights, to be shipped, and others have received their product.  A lot of companies get complaints and negative criticism for starting a new Kickstarter without delivering the first.  How do you deal with the critics and naysayers in this regard since you were running Forgotten King before Relic Knights shipped?

Unfortunately, delays in Kickstarters are not uncommon. I know I’m waiting on several myself. In any project, whether it is funded by Kickstarter or not, there comes a point where you have delivered a completed game to manufacturing and it is largely out of your hands after that point. You then need to move on to development of your next project. Naturally you hope that manufacturing will be complete and your project is delivered before your next project is ready, but that isn’t always the case. When that happens you just have to keep moving forward. You can’t simply stop moving forward. In the end, everyone will get the products they pledged for. We just need to keep reminding people of that fact, and that we are every bit as anxious as they are to get product in our hands.

12.  How will production be different in regards to your games now that Cool Mini or Not isn’t part of that process?  Will materials change, etc?

The biggest change is that we will be overseeing the entire process. When we were being published, we completed a project and then handed it over to Cool Mini to manage all the manufacturing, shipping, and distribution. Now that will be managed by us all the way through. For the most part we are using all the same factories so the process and materials will largely stay the same, but we will have control over the quality control process to make sure components all meet our standards.

13.  For people new to “miniatures” and the hobby side of gaming, how do you suggest people get started?

Play with a friend! This hobby is always best when you have somebody who can learn with you. If you’re looking for good starting points: The current Super Dungeon Explore core box remains an excellent way to get into the miniature hobby. It gives you a ton of miniatures for a great entry price. It can be a bit daunting because of the sheer number of models to assemble but if you go at it sure and steady you get a great reward at the end.

The new Relic Knights Battle Boxes will also be excellent entry points into hobby gaming. Each box comes with models, esper deck, mini-rulebook, tokens, and dashboard. It really is a great way to get into the hobby at an affordable price.

14.  It seems that board games are starting a trend recently and crossing over into the “miniature” side of gaming, by including some great sculpts and providing some great hobby opportunities.  Super Dungeon Explore does this well.  Do you think that trend will continue in today’s market, or will the trend slowly go away, leaving the market with more delineation between board games and miniatures?  What do you see as the pros of having this cross-over between game types?

We think the “miniature board game” market is going to continue to grow. Traditional miniature games can be very hard to get into, and difficult for retailers to carry. Miniature board games provide a complete package in a single purchase. This makes it easy for players to get the complete experience with a single purchase. It is also easy for a retailer to carry without needed walls and walls of space to carry the product line.For people who love the huge expandability and versatility of traditional miniature games, miniature board games are a great “gateway” into the world. They provide an excellent baseline hobby experience at an affordable price.


15.  What is the most difficult part in “rebooting” a game such as The Forgotten King?

Revising and making sure you don’t break existing models. Usually you develop just for the expansion you are currently releasing, but a revision requires that you go back and look at everything you’ve done before. So in many ways you’re writing four expansions simultaneously.

16.  What has been the biggest moment, or moment of most excitement in the creation of  The Forgotten King- From day 1 to now?

For me it’s always the moment we start getting the first sets of completed concept art in. That’s when it suddenly becomes real. All of the discussions and written briefs have sprung to life and we can look at it and just go, “wow we’re making this.”

17.  It seems that with SDE Arena rules, you could have an official tournament rules and start that in stores.  If that is going to be a possibility, you will have a group of casual gamers playing the board game for fun with fans playing the game competitively.  Do you see that as another dichotomy in the fans of SDE?

We are working on tournament rules for PVP Arena now and should have them soon! Super Dungeon Explore has a wealth of models and a really fun style and world. We also know that there are people that love many different types of gameplay styles. Our goal is to let you play in the Super Dungeon universe in any manner you want. Whether it is competitive with PVP Arena, casual with Arcade or Classic, or story driven with our future Legends expansion.

18.  Relic Knights took off in a big way on Kickstarter, surpassing the fan’s expectations.  Did Relic Knights go beyond SPM’s expectations as well?  Meaning, was it bigger than expected?  If so, how is SPM dealing with the larger than life game that has come from the Kickstarter?

Relic Knights doubled in size from what we had originally intended. The planned book jumped up an extra 100 pages. It was an incredibly exciting moment for us, and in retrospect we probably should have reigned it back a bit. Nonetheless, now that it is shipping soon we are hard at work preparing organized play opportunities for players. We are planning two tournament systems: Establishing Order and Endless Hunger.

Establishing Order is your classic hobby intensive system that rewards painting, sportsmanship, and celebrates the entire hobby.

Endless Hunger is all gameplay focused where speed and skill are paramount to your success. We’re also working on some campaigns to play with your club and friends!

19. Writing rules for games is an art.  How does SPM go about writing great rules and making them clear and meaningful?

Lots of revisions and lots of playtesting. With Relic Knights we did a limited public beta which was a huge success. Nothing really compares to having thousands of gamers looking at your system to find the flaws. Really though the most important thing is to leave your ego at the door. No rules system is every going to be perfect so it’s really important to be open to feedback and be willing to change things.

20. What is the best part about being involved in the gaming industry?

We get to bring our ideas to life! Every gamer has dreams and ideas of what they would love to see as a game. We actually get to make those ideas a reality. Then to watch others enjoy them is a real treat. You just can’t beat the feeling you get when you watch a whole group of players enjoy something you created.

21.  What are some general trends you see happening in the industry- both on the development and production side as well as on the consumer side of things?

Digital sculpting and 3D printers are going to change everything. We’re already seeing the ability to affordably create models generate an influx of high quality games. That trend is just going to continue. We can’t wait to see what will happen when consumers can afford high quality 3D printers. Maybe one day we’ll just sell files of awesome miniatures for you to print at home. Wouldn’t that be something!

22.  What are some unique things SPM are doing to reach fans?  What is the most difficult thing in reaching fans?

We have always tried to move beyond the traditional miniature game audience. We were one of the earliest miniature companies to look at events like PAX and anime cons to actively engage the video game and anime fan bases.

We also stress a sense of fun and wonderment in our games. Many traditional properties are very dark and dour. We love things bright, colorful, and exciting!

23.  If you had free reign to develop a new game (including funding, the ability to make components, etc) what would be an ideal game for SPM?  Essentially, you can make a wish and the game will be there.

I’m going to have to be silent on that one, since we are actually developing what my answer would be for a future date!  ;)

I would like to thank Soda Pop Miniatures for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer questions for Pen and Lead.  I look forward to seeing the Forgotten King in stores and on shelves as well as many, many, people playing it in game stores, clubs, and conventions.

 Thank you for the opportunity and for your readers’ time. It’s been a pleasure!

Also, for those who may not be aware, Soda Pop Miniatures has a new volunteer organization called Ninja Corp for fans of their games.  If you love running events, showing off painted miniatures, and more, check out Ninja Corps and see if you are interested in being a volunteer.



Cipher Studios and Soda Pop Miniatures logo

Soda Pop Miniatures logo


The challenge of “unplayable” PCs

By Dave Gilham

It will date me to confess this, but I’ve been a gamer for 32 years. Starting back when my Uncle’s Boy Scout troop came to my family farm to camp and one of them brought the old red box D&D set. We didn’t eRPG-Dice-660x495-600x340ven make it to playing that first session, just stayed up until 3 a.m. making characters. I was inevitably hooked. Less than a year later I bought my own red box and found my first convert to the game and we just played.

Now it took me years to fully understand the idea of “character” in a game.  Sure, I knew I was a dwarf, I had a battle axe and a bad attitude, but the idea of knowing why he was acting the way he was, why he made the choices he made never occurred to me. It might have been getting involved in theatre and forensics in high school that gave me the tools to get beyond the numbers and into the head of my dwarf.

Once I’d actually made the jump from ROLL-playing to ROLE-playing, I discovered that getting behind the numbers was great fun and very rewarding. Then came my first encounter with an unplayable PC. According to the books, an unplayable PC is one whose stats are so low there is no feasible way for the character to survive in the game. I think many of us gamers are familiar with the stereotypical dumb fighter type. So many muscles there’s no room for a brain, they often are action catalysts through sheer stupidity. And in the hands of a poor roleplayer they can end up quite tedious. How many games have gone off track just trying to repair the damage the dumb fighter caused to the hamlet? Since stats are determined by rolling dice, a series of bad rolls could result in a set of numbers that would be very difficult to nurture through a successful career. Or do they?

I think it wasn’t until I played the old Marvel Superheroes RPG (with the FASERIP system) and the completely random character creation tables that I mustered my will and accepted this challenge. Assembling the random collection of an origin, powers, and talents into a cohesive whole that could be played in a game without removing the fun for other players became the kind of fun I loved. So, I’m an nonhumanoid alien, who can generate light, has extra limbs, and breathes water? Maybe I’m a sort of cosmic jellyfish who comes from an oceanic planet and was sent out to explore the galaxy before my ship crashed on earth. Amongst my species we used strobing patterns of light to communicate, but my first attempt to communicate with humans rendered them unconscious.

So let’s translate this to more traditional fantasy setting. Let’s say I’m a clumsy thief. How does this work in game? Well, mechanics-wise this is a challenge, because so many of the class abilities to depend upon dexterity. What this means is that to be of use to the party, and not a hindrance to fun I have to play intelligently. Allocating skills with a nod to my weaknesses and communicating with other players about their character choices to make sure there is some skill overlap in case your failure would jeopardize plot progress. Also, there comes a responsibility to be able to assess your character after a few levels to see if there’s a change that needs to be made.

I would posit that what most would consider an unplayable PC, is simply an opportunity to stretch your roleplaying wings and take an opportunity to have fun

I once had a fighter in an AD&D game who was from a jungle culture far, far to the south of the known lands. We were using the Skills & Powers Players Option. He wasn’t the brightest bulb on the marquee, and he had the disadvantages of Compulsive Honesty (he simply didn’t understand the concept of deceit) and the Tongue-tied disadvantage. This meant that when he had to communicate very important things he often messed up critical details. Once N’Gar was intercepted by some magistrate officials near the harbor and they started questioning him mercilessly. The rest of the players were sweating bullets because we were doing some pretty hefty undercover stuff that NEEDED to stay under the radar of the local authorities. However, through some really fun roleplaying N’Gar told the truth as he saw it, yet bungled just enough details to bring the group to stitches and still give the party enough leeway to make an escape.

So the next time you roll up a character only to see a mass of mediocrity, think instead about what kind of person might lie behind the numbers, and stretch your comfort zone as a roleplayer. You may just stumble your way toward your next favorite character.