Mixed Signals

Straight-forward gaming

I've been painting exclusively with Citadel Contrast and Vallejo Xpress Color paints lately. The idea of a high contrast black is a little strange, though. There's no contrast to black, it's just all black. If there's something blacker than black, then the first black wasn't true black. And yet ther...

I'm the developer and publisher of Skuffle Wammer, the universe's smallest wargame. It's designed to be played in 5 minutes or less, with the intent of being the tabletop gaming equivalent of a good stand-up-and-stretch at work. The play area is an A4 sheet of paper, you throw out some miniatures...

I don't like sports. I tend to think of geek culture in general as being against sport, but that's a sentiment influenced strongly by my own social experience. If you think about it, sport and tabletop gaming share a lot in common. They're competitive, they're games, people play them for fun, there...

I like re-playing RPG adventures and I don't let my knowledge of the module interfere with the way my character follows clues. Should you re-play an adventure, though, there are some important things to keep in mind.

1. Yarn wall

My primary rule is pretty simple. If I can't trace a decision my...

I get bored during action scenes. Books, comics, movies, it doesn't matter what it is. But sometimes an action scene actually works for me. The scene somehow manages to be engaging, maybe even tense, and something makes me want to read or watch it. What's the difference between a good action scene a...

As a newcomer to miniature painting, I'm, er, fortunate to have made lots of stupid mistakes early in my hobby journey. In my own defence, I did a lot of research before starting to paint. That saved me from some really egregious errors. But I managed to make a mess of a few things. Here's what they...

Last year, I developed and published Skuffle Wammer, the universe's smallest wargame. It's designed to be played in 5 minutes or less, with the intent of being the tabletop gaming equivalent of a good stand-up-and-stretch at work. The play area is an A4 sheet of paper, you throw out some miniature...

Player characters in an RPG can be tricky. A player character is an imaginary person who you're meant to speak for and control. The character is meant to be distinct from you (in reality), and you're also supposed to be mindful of fellow gamers at your table (in reality) which obviously your fiction...

I love pre-built characters. That might seem strange, because I also love building characters. On a week when I don't have an RPG to play, I'll often sit down with a rulebook and build a character that will probably never get used. And yet, I love a system that provides a good array of pre-built cha...

I've been a pretty active blogger for a while, although initially most of my content was concentrated on the very technical side of open source computing. My gaming life tended to creep in on my tech blogs, though, and so this past year I made a concerted effort to expand my active blogging to g...

A few months ago, I tried Vallejo Xpress Color paints. Aside from the bottles they come in, I like them a lot. They're a great way to get started painting with auto-shading paints for a relatively small investment. It's got a limited colour range, but when you're just starting out, less can be mor...

The problem with colour is that there's a lot of it, and it's never the same to two different people. It's not even the same to one person under different lighting conditions. I love the topic of colour theory, but when you're just starting out as a miniatures painter, it can be overwhelming to see...

Sometimes, after you've painted a miniature you need to go back and fix a mistake you hadn't caught the first time around. When you revise your paint job, though, you're usually filling in something that's missing or concealing something that isn't meant to be there. That means you have to match the...

Like a lot of (or all? is this a defining trait?) geeks, I'm pretty obsessive by nature. I focus on things intensely, and work in sprints so I can concentrate my current obsession into productivity (by some definition of "productive"). I work in the tech industry, which also works in sprints, so I'v...

Most tabletop roleplaying game systems have the concept of rolling dice as a way of determining whether a player character in the game succeeds or fails when attempting a non-trivial task. A die roll doesn't itself have any meaning. A 20 on a 20-sided die is just a number, no better or worse than a...

I've written before about how much I love Citadel's Contrast paints. I recently decided to try out a similar line of paints from Vallejo, not because I'm looking to replace Citadel Contrast but because I want more. I love painting with auto-shading pigments, so I wanted to see what colours Valle...