Initiative Or What? – Archives – May/2009

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Minting the Coin of the Realm

Several months ago, I wrote this blog detailing how I (among other things) utilize coinage in my home campaign. If you don’t remember that, feel free to go back and read that one.

All set? Did you read that part about the craft foam? Yeah, I can’t do that anymore. I might have a little OCD, but I was totally getting a hand cramp trying to punch craft foam dots out one at a time.

I had to come up with something different.

Recently, I’ve been looking for alternatives. A while back I discovered these handy do-dads. They were perfect f0r making the condition markers (which we still use). They are also a perfect size for coins. However, with their bright transparent color, I wasn’t sure how I could make them look like passable coins (without overtaxing my poor players’ imaginations).

Well, I finally figured out a way. If you are interested in making coins, and don’t feel like laying out the coin for a product like this, (although it is a very pretty product) then read on.

The first thing you’ll need to make your coins are some plastic counters. I usually get these here, but sometimes the local educational supply store will carry them. For a thousand count, you’ll only spend about $8.95, so they’re a bargain. I get them in two sizes: 1″ and 3/4″. For the purposes of this demonstration, I’m using the 1″ counters.

Once you have some of these counters, spread them out on a sheet of plastic canvas. You can use other materials as well, I just find that the counters don’t stick to the canvas (after painting them) like other materials might. After the counters are spread out, get yourself a can of Krylon Fusion. Here’s a picture of it:

I want to be pretty specific about my choice of paint here. In order to get metallic enamel paint to stick to plastic (and not soften it), you need to primer the counters. Krylon Fusion is a special paint formulation that sticks to plastic. I use a flat white Fusion for the primer.

I spray the Fusion in an even coat across the spread of counters. I try to spray the paint at a bit of an angle, because the counters have an edge on them. If you spray directly on the top, you can miss covering the edges of the counters. Once you have a nice even coat, the counters should look like this:

They kind of look like NECCO wafers, don’t they? DON’T EAT THEM! Krylon Fusion is great stuff, but it’s probably not very edible. Okay, once you’ve allowed them to dry (takes about 15 minutes), flip them over and do the same process again.

Now that the counters have been primed, you can use a regular metallic enamel for the main coat. Obviously, the metallic paint gives the counters their coin-like appearance. Here’s a selection of the paints that I use:

The four metals used for coins (at least in D&D) are copper, silver, gold, and platinum. The copper, silver, and gold were easy to find. Platinum was a bit tricky. I really didn’t expect to find an actual “platinum” color, so instead I found a chrome (the can on the far right in the photo is the chrome). It’s shinier than regular silver, and seems to do the trick.

Spray the color of your choice onto the coins in the same fashion as you did the Fusion. Since you’re now working with regular enamel, I’d allow at least an hour between coats. When you have both sides of the counters done, it should look something like this:

Once you’ve allowed the metallic coat to set, you’re very close to being finished. In fact, you could just put a clear coat of acrylic and be done there. Here’s what the semi-finished product should look like:

These certainly look good enough for any dragon horde, don’t they?

When I get another moment (next weekend maybe?), I’ll show you what I do to finish the coins up to make them game playable.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

World Building — The Tale of the Five Sisters

Here’s a sneak preview of the information to be found in my portion of the shared RPGBN shared campaign setting.This is the entry for The Five Sisters:

The Five Sisters

The indigenous people of Smokefire Island tell the following story:

Many lifetimes ago, even before Caruso King became boss in the land, there lived five beautiful sisters. With raven hair and flashing eyes, each sister was generous and kind; and they spent all of their time together exploring the land. One day, the sisters came upon an old crone sitting dejectedly in a pond. When the sisters saw the old crone, they were curious and called out, “Why do you sit in the water, mother crone? Your clothes are all wet!”

The old crone replied, “I was trying to wash my hair, when I slipped in the mud. I am old and weak, and I cannot regain my feet.”

The five sisters took pity on the old crone and helped her out of the pond. After they cleaned the old crone and brushed the weeds out of her hair, they set about making her more comfortable; for this was their way of treating the unfortunate. The first sister, Lua Ahi, set about cooking a delicious meal for the old crone. The second sister, Noevahi, showed the woman an exercise to make her bones stronger. The third sister, Halalu, praised the old crone on her beauty and made her shake with laughter. The fourth sister, Hiamoe, said little, and fell asleep in the old crone’s lap. Finally, the fifth sister, Pahoehoe, found some stone and built the old crone a small shelter.

After a time, the old crone revealed to the five sisters that she was none other than Gaiamehu, the goddess of the earth. Surprised and awed, the five sisters knelt at the goddess’s feet in reverence. Bidding them rise, Gaiamehu spoke, “At long last the five sisters of Mohonokai have come to my home. I did not believe the tales of your kindness and generosity; but you have proven the stories to be true. For the kindness you have shown me, I will grant you each a special gift.”

She went first sister and said, “Lua Ahi, you cooked me a delicious meal and were the last to eat. For this gift, I will give you mastery over the hearth. Your food will forever be delicious and the ash from your hearth will make a clay stronger than any have seen.

Next Gaiamehu went to the second sister. “Noevahi, you have the strength of a warrior, and have generously shared your strength with me. For this gift, I will make you like smoke before those that would harm you. You will defend your people from all enemies and will be a proud and fierce warrior”.

After Noevahi, she went to the third sister. “Halalu, your clever wit and unwavering voice made me shake with laughter. For this gift, I will make you a great leader. Your voice will be heard over the din of confusion, and you will lead your people to build a great civilization.”

Next, Gaiamehu spoke to the fourth sister, “Hiamoe, although you did nothing but slumber in my lap, you gave me great comfort with your trust. For this gift, I will grant you wisdom as you slumber. Whenever you awaken, you will give wise council to your people.”

Finally, Gaiamehu spoke to the last remaining sister, “Pahoehoe, where no shelter was to be found, you dug out the very rocks and built me a sturdy house. For this gift, I will make you a master mason, and your grand buildings will house a safe and confident people.”

And so with their gifts, the five sisters parted from Gaiamehu. True to their nature, the five sisters used their gifts generously and helped build the people’s land into a great civilization. After many long years, the sisters grew aged, and knew they would not be able to work much longer. Taking one final journey, they once again passed the pond where they had found the old crone; who was the goddess Gaiamehu. Remembering their fortune, the five sisters made a sacrifice to Gaiamehu. Relaxing by the fire, they soon fell asleep. Done with their days, the sisters crossed over into the spirit lands.

Seeing their great works at last come to pass, Gaiamehu took pity on the five sisters and granted each of them a permanent place around her pond. To this day, the five mountains we know as Lua Ahi, Noevahi, Halalu, Hiamoe, and Pahoehoe watch over us and protect us from harm.

–The Tale of the Five Sisters, carved into a relief found in a cave near Menhwaii.

Regardless of the stock taken in ancient legend, the Five Sisters are known to this day as volcanoes by the same name. Oddly enough, their individual names are characteristic to the nature of each of the mountains; which the following table illustrates:

Map Legend

Sister’s Name

Translation in Common Tongue

Volcanic Characteristic


Lua Ahi Fire and Ash Erupts constantly with flashy pyrotechnics and ash. Anyone in the hex immediate north of the volcano can be swallowed and cooked alive by the pyroclastic floes emanating from this volcano.


Noevahi Smoky One Gives Smokefire Bay its name. A large pillar of smoke constantly pours from this peak, keeping the northern end of the Caldron in a constant haze.


Halalu Rumble (Deep Sound) Earthquakes originate frequently from this volcano, and it is known to make deep rumbling sounds that can be heard all the way across the Cauldron.


Hiamoe Sleeping One This volcano has been dormant for hundreds of years. Legends speak of a great cataclysm that will occur if the mountain awakens; the wisdom of Hiamoe judging all.


Pahoehoe Lava A never ending flow of liquid magma rises to the surface of the volcano to flow over the sides as lava. Most of the land in the hex immediately to the north of the mountain was created by the volcano.

All sorts of magical features are attributed to the various earthen products the Five Sisters spew forth. It is thought that weapons forged in the lava of these volcanoes hold their edge, even under the worst of conditions.

Travel in this region is nearly impossible, and more often than not, incredibly dangerous. Regardless, from time to time, some tradesman in Helmsport can be found selling ash or pumice stone reputed to be from the area. Whether or not these materials have special powers, is unknown.

Until next time…Game excellently with one another.