Today's PACG Homebrew Special blog is by Todd Alexander (Wilbur_Whatley), about a homebrew of a different kind. Todd wanted a new surface on which he could play our game and... well, he made something everyone in our office now wants. Take a look.
I've been a fan of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game for a few years now. My entire family played Rise of the Runelords, my wife and I played through Wrath of the Righteous, and I've played everything I could solo. All those decks and cards and layouts were getting hard to manage on the dining room table, and after fighting the cat for room on the table—again—it occurred to me it would be great to have my cards up off the table.
I had been surfing for Pathfinder images for a different project when I came across some photos of people making really cool custom boards for their favorite CCGs, and from there, the ideas began to flow. By the next night, I had come up with an exacting blueprint encompassing some of the ideas I'd been having fun with. (Warning: I can't draw a stick figure!)
The next weekend I found myself escorting the family to the local crafts store. I spotted some foam board for school presentations and remembered those homemade die-rolling towers I'd seen online. From there I walked around trying to imagine how everything in the store might work as part of a diorama. I picked up a couple sheets of moss and some pillars intended for a wedding cake. When I got home, I borrowed the lazy Susan from the kitchen, which made things easier to reach and work on. That also made it a circle, which really drove a lot of the implementation of things. A lot of what followed was more out of necessity than design. That also meant it evolved as I put it together, which was fun to watch.
It changed even more after we used it a few times. My attempt at water turned out to be not just a mess but also sticky and oily. Lesson learned: stick with modelling tools and supplies! I ended up covering the whole base in moss, which has turned out be a lot easier to use. It also made things look more like a miniature place that could be real, rather than just a rotating board.
That brought me to the next step in my Tower of Doom: greeblies. I had heard that term on an Adam Savage vlog and it clicked. Greeblies are tiny little details that movie effects artists add to props and models to make them more complex and multi-layered. They often take them from old model kits they keep around for this purpose. Well, I'm a geek—I have plenty of little things around the house that I could use, like a gargoyle kitchen magnet that is now a fallen piece of rubble. That was next to the Kyra figure I had from playing Mummy's Mask. Nearby was a Cthulhu miniature I picked up at Comic-Con.
Speaking of Cthulhu, I used a website to translate H.P. Lovecraft's famous quote “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange eons even death may die” into J.R.R. Tolkien's dwarf runes, and copied that onto the base. (Told you I was a geek.) I was bothered by the plainness of the board—those petrified stone pillars were begging for some extra moss effect... and there's always room for magic runes. The diorama nature of the board and the miniature props give it a multilayered look that I love to look at when we play.
The top section is for rolling dice and holding the blessings deck. It would need to support a fair amount of weight, so I used the four wedding cake columns from my craft store run. I glued the column bases to a center stand I made to give the tower a little extra height. I attached a thin lazy Susan to the column tops, so the top section swivels independent of the main base, which is on the lazy Susan I took from the kitchen. Having access to every part of the die roll tower while fighting goblins is pretty handy! I added short foam board walls around the top so the dice wouldn't roll off. I lined a piece of cardboard with shelf paper, giving it the look of a stone floor. Toothpicks became wooden beams sticking out of the stone walls. As we've played, I've made a few changes, adding a little moss here and a Supernatural pin there. I haven't had to make any big fixes—I suggest a lot of Gorilla Glue if you try something like this.
It has added a lot of atmosphere as we spin it to play a scenario. While my family and I made this, I'd like to thank Mike Selinker and everyone at Paizo for giving us the inspiration. I'm off to make a new Adventure Path to play on this nifty board...