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Brent Newhall
21st Century Renaissance Man
21st Century Renaissance Man


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A roving camera platform made almost entirely out of 3D printed parts (only the CPU, camera, motors, and screws are not 3D printed).
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FYI, the good folks at GearBest who sent me that Creality3D Ender-3 for review now have it on sale for USD $180. Use coupon code GBEnder3 with the affiliate link below:
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GearBest was kind enough to send me a Creality3D Ender-3 3D printer for review! TL;DR It's a solid printer worth checking out.

* 220mm x 220 x 250 (height) / 8.6 x 8.6 x 9.8" printer
* Heated build plate
* Bowden style
* Micro SD card
* LED screen
* Includes spare nozzle, Bowden connector, tools, and spare screws
* Some assembly required (1-2 hours)

* Solid construction
* Clear assembly instructions
* Extruder and bed heat up very quickly
* Huge knobs to adjust print bed
* Lots of relevant info on LED screen
* On/off switch is on the side, easily accessible

* Clog after 4 prints
* Some difficulty loading filament
* Included PDFs show inconsistent settings (retraction, travel speed)
* LED screen resets to main info screen if you stay on one screen for a few seconds

* Must unscrew 2 screws and move fans to the side to swap out nozzle
* Control knob takes some getting used to
* Filament loads right next to one of the vertical rods.

I received this printer as a free review unit from GearBest:

You can order this printer here:
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Are you sometimes flummoxed by Medieval culture in your tabletop RPG? Do you sometimes wonder how exactly justice worked with no permanent police force, or how long a fair would run, or how old an "adult" was?

I'm working on a booklet on this topic, not to make games historically accurate, but to make games more grounded where that's useful. It will also (hopefully) dispel some popular myths about Medieval culture, and help it "make sense" to the modern reader.

I could use beta readers, who will read and let me know what needs more information, what needs less detail, and what it's missing. Interested?
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#Monster Monday: Occult Owl

Some monsters won't attack you on sight, but can be quickly antagonized. They work well as either a weird creature to seek out or as a remarkable enemy.

Occult owls are about twice the size of an ordinary owl. A strange third eye glows in the middle of an occult owl's forehead, leading to legends that magical researchers use them to store and recall obscure knowledge. Indeed, those who encounter occult owls often report hearing voices in their heads.

Occult owls will deal no melee damage; only psychic damage from an aura of strange whispers and a focused psychic lightning attack from their third eye. Even this they'll use more to discourage enemies from attacking; if seriously injured an occult owl will simply fly away.

For stats, I'm going to use bits and pieces from the air elemental and the salamander. It'll get two psychic lightning attacks, each dealing about 14 damage, plus its aura of psychic damage dealing 2d6 damage. This makes the occult owl deal more damage than those monsters, which will be offset by fewer resistances and immunities.

Click through for a D&D 5E stat bock.
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#Monster Monday: Dryad Flower

The lovely manga Delicious in Dungeon features the monster I'm about to detail, and while your PCs can cook and eat a dryad flower after defeating it, just like the characters in the manga, they don't have to.

Dryad flowers look like beautiful, naked humanoids of a variety of genders (including unusual varieties; they aren't picky), though their "skin" is usually a shade of blue or green. These "genders" are purely for show, however. A colony of dryad flowers (usually numbering half a dozen) are all tied to one central dryad flower, a "female," while the rest are "male." When the colony reaches maturity, the "male" flowers kiss the "female" flower, fertilizing it. The "males" then shrivel up and die while the "female" grows strange lumps, creating a grotesque tableau for those unlucky enough to stumble upon a colony at this stage. The lumps bud into actual flowers, and after sufficient flowering the "female" swells and explodes, scattering the flowers. These contain seeds which remain dormant for several years, begin passed on by birds and nature, before sprouting into new colonies of dryad flowers.

Male dryad flowers have two singular attributes. For one, within seconds they can form their body into a variety of shapes, still maintaining a basically humanoid contour while allowing them to, for example, form an arm into a tentacle or create webbing on their toes. This allows them to exist in and adapt to a variety of environments.

Secondly, when a male dryad flower is subjected to slashing, piercing, or explosive force, it explodes in a cloud of intense magical pollen. This quickly fills the lungs of all creatures nearby, causing what amounts to an instant, strong allergic reaction, making them much more vulnerable to the remaining dryad flowers.

For stats, I'm going to use the basic stats of the adult oblex. An ooze with a Challenge Rating of 5 is easy to imagine as a plant, and that CR can easily be shifted up or down a few levels by adjusting AC, attack, and damage.

We'll keep its amorphous and aversion to fire abilities, and convert its charm spell into a charm-like ability. We'll drop the rest of the spells, its sulfrous impersonation ability, and its eat memories ability, adding a poisonous pollen ability. The basic attack makes sense, changing its extra psychic damage to poison damage.

However, our dryad flower ends this transformation significantly weaker than an adult oblex. So, let's keep the multiattack but make that two regular attacks. That should keep up the pressure on the party.

Click through for a D&D 5E stat block.
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#Faction Friday: Sages of Twilight

I forgot to write a faction until this morning, apparently, so this one will be quick.

The Sages of Twilight are a mysterious organization that collects only lore related to ancient civilizations. They seem particularly interested in societies that collapsed suddenly and violently. Perhaps they seek knowledge of what toppled them.

The Sages number perhaps a dozen high-level spellcasters scattered throughout the major cities of the world. They use permanent scrying spells and crystal balls to communicate and coordinate between themselves and their benefactors. As to the latter: While few people have both money and interest in these lost civilizations, those that do have little choice but to pay the Sages dearly for the information.

As a friendly faction, the Sages of Twilight are simply specialized historians and ideal quest givers, paying adventurers to delve into old ruins for lost books and relics.

As a foe faction, the Sages have an ulterior motive: they find the magical knowledge and artifacts that destroyed those ancient civilizations and sell them to the highest bidder. They are effectively trying to find arcane weapons of mass destruction and become the brokers for these weapons. If some group is trying to take over the world, they often employ the Sages. Stop the Sages, and save the world.
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#Faction Friday: Gaxton's Garrison

Some factions are created by an environment.

So with Gaxton's Garrison, the soldiers that patrol Wintershold Castle in the coastal city of Blackcrag. Unusually for this part of the country, only about half are peasants fulfilling part of their duties to their lord by serving in the castle for a month. The other half are professional mercenaries who've traded in the uncertain life of pillaging for a smaller but more stable income.

Gaxton is a severe half-orc with a chip on his shoulder about his parentage. He's so hell-bent on convincing everyone around him that he inherited none of his father's savagery that he's devoted himself to looking as cultured and rational as possible (for a captain of the guard). Always impeccably dressed and sporting fabulous hair, his almost foppish habits belay an intelligent, driven man who's no slouch on the battlefield, either.

Gaxton's grim, resolute personality has rubbed off on the soldiers. They drill routinely, keep their weapons sharp, and when the gates shut for the night, they stay shut. Their behavior extends to off-hours, too; no soldier drinks before their turn on watch and they've even begun avoiding the intimate company of strangers.

As a result, garrison officers are often called on to deal with justice in the city or danger near it, whether it's quelling a riot or driving off wandering orc tribes that stray too close to the city walls.

They're also keenly aware of the crime that occurs not far from the castle walls. They're itching to do something about it, and if Gaxton could convince Blackcrag's noble family to extend their power, they'd be more than happy to kick down a few doors.

Use the veteran stat block for soldiers of the garrison, and the orc war chief stat block for Gaxton.

As a friendly faction, Gaxton's Garrison is an ideal quest-giver for good-aligned parties. Gaxton will be acutely aware of any nearby dangers and hire adventurers to stop them. The soldiers themselves can also provide quest hooks, as they're too dedicated to their duties to resolve problems with missing relatives. Soldiers can also accompany the party as combat-effective NPCs.

As a foe faction, Gaxton has turned the group intense, slightly paranoid, and a little like a cult. The soldiers drill incessantly and peer out over battlements that haven't seen a battle in decades. They don't trust anyone except those under Gaxton's orders.

Their impatience to address the crime problem makes them even more eager to jump into action when they do get involved in investigating one. This tends to create swift accusations and even swifter punishments, well before all the evidence has been gathered.

While Blackcrag is far from a police state, Gaxton's Garrison sure isn't calming the populace down.
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#Monster Monday: Mack the Knife

I've been itching to write a fast assassin for a while, one that uses unusual mechanics.

Assassins tend to be very peculiar to a particular campaign, so I'm going with a popular name for this nasty fellow: Mack the Knife.

I want to do two things with this monster: make him deadly against his foe, and incredibly fast.

For stats, I think the Shield Guardian is a good starting point: a CR 7 creature with a few abilities but focuses on simple combat attacks.

We'll swap out the Shield Guardian's bound, regeneration, and spell storing abilities, as well as its immunities, with the ability to choose his position in initiative every round and advantage on attacks against one target per long rest.

Imagine that: an assassin who simply decides when to sidle up and slip the knife between your ribs, and who will almost certainly be able to do so.
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#Faction Friday: Moralim's Mining Cooperative

For this week's faction, I want to start with a stereotype, then push past it.

Moralim leads a hardy tribe of dwarves who mine the crystal shafts near the coastal city of Blackcrag. Several dozen male and female dwarves work the mine each day, while their children (about twice as many in number) live in a cave complex they've hollowed out just off the main shaft. Every two weeks, a small caravan arrives from Blackcrag with supplies and leaves with the crystals mined since the last delivery.

Moralim, a gruff middle-aged dwarf with a salt-and-pepper beard, directs the miners' efforts and troubleshoots problems, doing so with alacrity thanks to his many decades of experience in mining this mountain chain. The work's roughly split between two teams, one led by Moralim's son Burrin and the other by his ex-wife Glazabyrn.

Burrin's no genius, but his work ethic outstrips that of any other dwarf in the company, and he can overcome a lot of problems by just pushing through them, one way or another. Galazbyrn, on the contrary, is quick-witted and always looking for a challenge. That's why she left Moralim, in fact; she was discontent with his steady, unexciting miner's pay. A few decades later, when she heard about the crystal mine, she investigated, and was only too happy to work with her former husband on this difficult project. While their relationship remains...complex, her team has no problems working under her clever direction.

Moralim's in this situation because he happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. He was part of a caravan sending precious metals to Blackcrag that came under attack by orcs. Without combat experience, Moralim ran and hid in a small cave entrance just large enough to fit him. After the orcs slaughtered his companions and stole the caravan, his keen dwarven senses pulled him further into the cave. After some investigation, he discovered a shaft into the crystal caverns.

He then made his way to Blackcrag and reported on the mine, careful to insist that he knew a crew that would mine it. As Blackcrag had very little in the way of miners, he managed to strike a deal for exclusive rights to mine the crystal caves, sending the crystals back to town in return for fat fees.

As a friendly faction, Moralim's Mining Cooperative needs regular help with both the magically infused crystal monsters that they intermittently encounter in the mines, as well as occasional raids by goblins and deep gnomes. The mines are still a relatively new venture, and lack defenses. The dwarves can fight off the occasional raiding party, but such threats need to be dealt with at the source, and Moralim can pay handsomely.

As a foe faction, the crystals have greatly increased the wealth of many in Blackcrag, and Moralim knows it. He's begun insisting on increasingly large payments and holding onto some of the better gems for a "personal collection" that's grown extensive. Further, some of the crystals have magical properties, and Moralim's retained the services of a mysterious wizard to investigate ways of sorting the magical crystals and selling them himself (since, as he sees it, the contract with Blackcrag was written under the assumption that the mine's crystals were mundane).

A rift grows between Moralim and the administrators at Blackcrag, who would love to see the mine fall to either Burrin (who would be easy to negotiate with) or Galazbyrn (who's at least less stubborn).

Plot hooks:

(Friendly) A deep gnome raiding party has attacked Moralim's Cooperative three times in the past two weeks, and equipment left in the mines has gone missing. The dwarves since found an opening in a rarely-used mine shaft where the gnomes are likely getting in, and have temporarily sealed it, but the gnomes are sure to find another entrance. Moralim's sent word back with the latest caravan that he needs an adventuring party who will descend into the opening and destroy the deep gnome threat.

(Foe) Eleol Emberstrike, the gnome steward of Blackcrag, hires the PCs to follow the bi-weekly caravan to the crystal caves and fake an injury, allowing them to stay an extra day or two and investigate the administration of the mine. They are there to find out if Moralim does indeed have a personal stash of crystals and the exact job of this mysterious wizard who's begun living there.
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