Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Status Rings

Friggin' finally I can put these up on the shop.  At the start of each year I have a list of all the items I'd like to develop into product lines that year.  Most of them get put up in the relative slow period during Jan and Feb but there's occasionally a little hanger-on that takes a lot longer for one reason or another.  This year these were that "hanger-on".  Not for many technical reasons but mostly just because I always had something else I was working on.  Some other prototype or order for a client took priority.  One upshot of that is I've been playtesting these since April or May and they're a marked improvement on the old square tokens.  Being able to drape the ring around a mini helps a lot but even when the mini doesn't work for that they sit under the mini quite nicely too.  Being able to carry them on any given loop saves a lot in labor and materials too, which is a large part of how these are about half the price of the condition tokens now that they're up on the shop!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Map, Soulvale

The client was a player for a DM who hadn't yet mapped their campaign.  So we knew some of the names and rough locations but not how they related to one another or what they should look like.  So the client suggested we plot their homebrew locations over the map for the Broken Isles in WoW (because they had the same number of "zones" I think).  That actually worked out pretty well.  I'd've been just fine drawing up a land mass from scratch but adapting the terrain I know quite well from my time as a Tauren Drood was a lot of fun.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Map, Terna

When I listed the Adventurer Maps I wasn't sure how many orders I'd get where the clients provided their own maps.  This was the first and other than replacing the text (it didn't survive the processing for the engraving) the map is just as the client drew it.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Wallet of Devouring

Remember that Bag of Holding?  The client liked that so much they put in an order for a Wallet designed after it's infamous cousin: the Bag of Devouring.  We used the same basic construction (milled veg-tan shell, canvas lining) for a tri-fold clutch wallet with space for cards, cash, change, and the client's cell phone.  I might've added a little more space for the cards or tightened the elastics for the phone a bit more on the whole I think it came out pretty well.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Map, Riverdale

When I first heard the client wanted a map of Riverdale I thought of the eponymous comic/TV series but it turns out it's also a neighborhood in central Toronto.  I tried a few new tricks with the drafting of this map (dashed line rail roads, graze engraving trees/parks, etc) that I think worked fairly well.  There was a railroad yard that I removed early on because it was cluttering up that area of the map but in hindsight I think it might've been worth cleaning up and keeping.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Map, Waterdeep Topography

After the headache that was my first attempt at a topographical map of the City of Splendors I wasn't exactly eager to take another swing at it.  But after investing all that time and material I'd rather have something to show for it rather than a "Don't Do This" lesson.  It took about a day to rejigger the files and drafts to work with the plywood and I scaled the map down a touch to reduce the number of segments I'd working with.  And I'm glad I went through the trouble because the result is excellent!

I fixed the whole thing on a 1x2' piece of MDF that I painted and sealed to look all water-y.  My signature's looked better but it was just a goofy personal project at the time.  The plywood engraves wonderfully though and all the text (even the teeny tiny street names) is pretty readable if you get up close.  All the tiny details (like the sea caves or trees beneath Cliffwatch) came out really well.  I was close to inverting the image (so the streets would be burned down beneath the buildings, sort of like a relief carving) but seeing the final result I think this was the right way to go.  Cool as having the buildings stand up above the streets would be, it would also mean the buildings were semi-fragile white bits over black streets and it just doesn't quite look right.

It's been a little while since this has been up over our game table and it's been pretty handy to point at (with laser pointers) while we're planning where to go in the city.  So handy that I decided I may as well add it to the shop!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Jeep Tokens

These took awhile to come together but they started as a silly little gift idea the client wanted to explore.  They'd purchased a bunch of my D&D coins in the past and they were curious if I could 3D print them some cards for their Jeep club.  Nothing major, just some tokens they could hand out as gifts.  They designed the cards themselves and I turned them into a 3D model for the printer.  The tricky part was the URL code at the bottom because it was too fine for the printer to manage well.  It took some fine tuning but I was eventually able to laser cut the text into the plastic.  Even left a very thin bit of plastic at the back of the letters to hold the inside of the Os and As.  Unsurprisingly, the laser works quite well with PLA once it's properly calibrated.  That'll be a good trick for me to keep in mind!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Tablemat, Dune

When I accepted this order I knew it would be challenging but I'd thought I'd be able to work out the kinks.  The client wanted a flexible leather play mat for the Dune tabletop game and in practice that basically worked out to a giant (about 30x30) Adventurer Map.  I had a side that was (barely) large enough to accommodate that and I was able to slice the image into six segments that would individually fit on the laser's bed.  The trick was going to be aligning those six segments between cuts, especially since I'd have to fold the material to physically fit it inside the laser.

To start with, the first segment engraved perfectly.  Each segment took about six hours to engrave onto the suede and then I'd spend about an hour setting up the next segment.  That included removing the material from the laser, refolding it to expose the relevant area, slipping it back inside the laser and then trying to manually align the segment with lots of tiny, faint scores that ultimately wouldn't've been visible (in theory). 

This process, though tedious and labor intensive, would probably have worked if I was using a rigid material (nevermind that then I couldn't have fit it inside the laser) but this particular variety of leather is quite flexible and elastic.  Because it would not stretch, bunch, crease, etc only one or two of the 7 joints between segments actually lined up in any appreciable way.  The client was willing to pay for a second attempt if I could figure out a solution (awfully generous of them) but ultimately I had to conclude I wouldn't be able to produce what we'd had in mind.  The client got a full refund and I got an expensive lesson in what isn't quite possible.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Free Shipping

I've made a few changes to the shop over the past few days but by far the biggest has been including the cost of the postage in the initial price of each item.  That allowed me to zero out the shipping cost on every item in the shop.  I had experimented with this model in the past but Etsy is making some clear moves towards making this the standard so it seemed worth a try.  The only orders that will see any shipping cost now are orders headed somewhere outside US/Canada that weigh more than 1kg.  And International buyers still have the option of ordering expedited shipping if they'd like tracking.


  • Range Card Holsters now have an option to select Belt Loops or Belt Clips
  • All 5e and Waterdeep coins have had their images updated

New Listings

  • Mini DM Screen: https://www.etsy.com/listing/708996442/mini-dungeon-master-screen
  • Bag of Holding: https://www.etsy.com/listing/722795173/dnd-bag-of-holding

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

New D&D Props

We're just about to start running the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist campaign and I may have gone a little overboard in building props for this new campaign.  Many of these could well be prototypes for future shop products but just as many were just about trying new things and/or making something I figured would be useful.

* Map of Faerun - Because why not?  The Sword Coast has too many place to keep track of and even if this campaign won't leave Waterdeep I like having maps at hand.  This one was pretty easy since I just engraved Deven Rue's awesome map on some pigskin and added some blue to the bodies of water.
* Spell Cards & Case - This one took awhile.  Not as long as it should have, but still awhile.  There's a PDF kicking around the internet with all of the SRD spells so then I just had to make cards for all the other spells in the books we already own.  And because I'm me I drew a fancy back for each card and built a chest to hold them all. 
* Forgotten Realms Calendar - I've been trying to figure a way to show & track date-time information at the table for ages.  I don't have the sense it's important to most campaigns but for various reasons I often need to track the phase of the moon or some PC's logistical what-not.  And in Dragon Heist I understand time and date are pretty relevant.  So this calendar has a wheel for time of day, month, and day and all of them are pretty easy to rotate and use.  I burned the holidays in Waterdeep on the base just because I'm a nerd like that.
* Initiative Tower Name Tags - Everything else here took at least several hours to pull together, most of them a few days.  The Name tags took maybe 15 minutes but they're what the other players remarked on the most.  Go figure. =P

And on top of all of that there was one prop that... hasn't turned out so well.  I wanted to make a topographical map of Waterdeep and really push at the boundaries of what I've been able to do with the laser cutter so far.  I spent a lot of time drafting, tweaking, and calibrating and my initial results were looking pretty promising.  Then I spent two days and most of a side of leather making the full thing and... yeah, I'm not happy with it. 

There's a few things going on here but it fundamentally breaks down to image processing and material.  The first is pretty complicated but essentially, the more the image is processed the clearer it burns but the less detail it has.  The balance I'd struck in small scale didn't work great at large scale.  And as for material, to make a map so large (18x36") I had to cut it into 27 pieces across 4 different layers.  It took a ton of leather to make this thing but as a material leather's pretty dynamic.  It warps and stretches and curls.  Peices that are laser cut to fit together perfectly just won't.  It was really frustrating. 

I still have all the raw work that went into drafting and I'll probably revise that to make a smaller map out of plywood, probably closer to 12x24".  And if that comes out well, maybe that's something that can go one the shop.

Printer Upgrades

I've had this printer for nearly two years now and for most of that time it's been cranking out coins and other prints like a friggin' champ.  So I can't be too disappointed when it finally ran into a few issues recently.

A full accounting of the maintenance and troubleshooting would make this post a book but by the time I was done I'd swapped the old print head for a new, upgraded model.  And it's spinning up great!  The prints are coming nice and quick and with far fewer failed prints.

As part of this whole process I updated the models for the 5e and Waterdeep coins.  My filament supplier's been changing their stock this year too so a few coins have had some color changes.  The CP is the only one that's had a "drastic" change but it was the closest I could find to it's original color.  The Etsy listings have all been updated with photos of the current models/colors.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mini DM Screen

The client requested this over twitter back in December and I'm a bit embarrassed it took me six months to finally get them there Screen.  I had a prototype back in February but I wasn't happy with some of the details and I didn't get another shot at it until June.

Much of the delay came down to finding a cost productive way of cutting the steel used to make the Screen magnetic.  Once I got that solved the second prototype came together fairly quickly.  I widened the card pockets to make them easier to use and set the Moloch statues gem eyes inside the leather so the surface would be flush.

The result is nice and sturdy and folds up to about pocket-sized.  It's magnetic from either side and just the right size for hiding a few key notes without blocking a view of a dungeon mat.  I should have them up on the shop before too long.