Day 31: Favorite RPG of All Time

DAY THIRTY-ONE: FAVORITE RPG OF ALL TIME

The entire month has lead up to this question and I’ll just have to go with the obvious, easy choice.  My favorite RPG of all time is Dungeons and Dragons.  Maybe that’ll change decades down the line but for now there isn’t a single RPG out there that invokes the wealth of nostalgia D&D provides for me.  I’ve been playing it for decades, and if the quality of 5th edition tells me anything I’ll be giving it even more of my time.

There isn’t much else to be said honestly.  I’ve given D&D many accolades throughout this little project David Chapman created (thank you David!) and I doubt I could ever sum up in mere words what pulling out a character sheet or DM’s Shield means to me.  So I’ll just leave this last write up short and sweet. Many thanks to Gygax and Arneson for their initial stumble into the game and then their vision of making it even bigger, and thank you to the many authors of other editions and supplements for the game over the years.

Gaming means a lot to me, it is a window to my own imagination and the collective imaginations of others who mean a lot to me.  I love gaming dearly and it has been a pleasure writing for 31 days about it.  Take care folks, and good gaming to all!

-Melvs

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Day 30: Rarest RPG Owned

DAY THIRTY: RAREST RPG OWNED

The rarest RPG I own was actually given to me, and recently at that, by Eric over at Gamerstable. This game is one of the 200 signed Hardcovers of Corporia,by Mark Plemmons.

Corporia 1

The best way to find out more about Corporia would be to check out the successful Kickstarter, it funded back in December, check out their site, or even listen to the Gamerstable episode where Mark himself stops by to hang with the gang. The game is pretty solid.

You play as reincarnated versions of the Knights of the round table in a version of our modern day where the world has been utterly incorporated.  So what you get is a bit of a Shadowrun feel as you and your crew take on evil corporations in a shadow war.  Like I said though, the above mentioned links are certainly better means of figuring out what this game is all about. Of course you could certainly buy it too!  Check out DriveThru RPG for that!  Want a free taste?  Here are the free quick start rules.

Corporia 2

You can only get a pdf of the game currently, with some Hardcover love possibly showing up later this year.  I can’t be sure but my hunch is that there won’t be a large Hardcover printing, and I’ve got number 200 of the 200 Hardcover limited edition signed copies.  It’s a really cool item and I can’t wait to dig even more into the rules!

-Melvs

 

Day 29: Most Memorable Encounter

DAY TWENTY-NINE: MOST MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER

To tell true my most memorable encounter would likely be the one described on Day 17 of this #RPGaDay marathon, but that would make for a short post. So, I figure I’ll describe a few of my favorite encounters from one of the more memorable ongoing campaigns I had the pleasure of playing in before my gestation into the fine Dungeon Master I am today!

AN INTRODUCTION

Way back in high school my buddy Mike was our main DM. As the older brother of my friend and classmate Jake it may come as no surprise he’s a damn fine DM as well. To this day his 3.5 D&D campaign set in the Forgotten Realms is remembered for many things but mainly being the longest ongoing game we ever had. My character was Seavel Moonlance, a Moon Elf Fighter/Wizard who later became an Eldritch Knight.

Yeah... Remember this guy?... On the Carpet.

Yeah… Remember this guy?… On the Carpet.

Now, putting aside the fact that Seavel Moonlance is a terrible name (I said…put it aside…) he was actually an awesome character. He was a 3.5 Wizard after all. I had chosen Fighter at 1st level so I could better use the longsword my character was naturally good with, him being an elf and all, and I probably used it more than was warranted. I can still remember when I found that Longsword +1 with the added 1d6 fire damage, man that was something. Used that blade for a long time!

KERSHLACK

Even today that name is coupled with a deep seated rage. There were many encounters with that damned Kobold, because he just kept getting away! No matter how hard we pursued, he always had an escape plan. It makes sense for a Kobold to be crafty, so we couldn’t even fault Mike for writing in so many great escape plots. We could blame ourselves though, and we could sure as Hell blame Kershlack!

Kobold

Kerschlack don’t give a F$%&!

The one incident that stands out in my mind is not his defeat, though that was so worth it when the time finally came. No, the most memorable encounter with that little guy was the only time we were truly defeated soundly. It was by his hands alone that a party of mid level adventurers were defeated and captured.

We were on the chase after him, and this had not been the first time. He was leading us up a grassy knoll where we knew we would have him cornered. A few arrows had injured him, so he was easy to track. We were off after him at a dead sprint. When we finally cornered him we thought we would have time to gloat at our victory, but no such joy was to be had. We sat at the table in horror as Mike revealed that our characters had, in their haste, neglected to perceive the trap we had walked into.

I can’t recall its precise mechanics but it ended up being equivalent to a grease spell that caused our characters to slip and slide down a steeper portion of the knoll and into a giant net. The last thing Mike relayed to us as the session ended was Kershlack staring down at our trapped forms laughing his little scaly ass off. It was infuriating, defeating, and totally awesome!

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KERSHLACK!!!!

THE DIRE WEASEL INCIDENT

I can’t recall the details that got us there but we were in a fight. In this fight a big guy with a sword noticed that my character liked to waggle his fingers, say a few words, and then rain fiery balls of death on him and his buddies. Apparently he didn’t take kindly to my magical tendencies so he decided to rein me in, mostly by getting real close and personal with that big ol’ sword.

Now you may recall that Seavel possessed a skilled sword arm. Well that does exactly nothing to protect one’s supple Moon Elf skin from a Great Sword being swung by a man with forearms larger than my character’s legs. I needed a getaway fast. The best thing I could locate was big hole in the ground. The very same trap our rogue had discovered before the fight began. I decided to take my chances and leapt in.

I fell roughly 20 feet, so only incurred 2d6 damage from that, but before I could rejoice in the fact that there were no spikes adorning the floor I noticed what else occupied my little getaway hole…Fiendish Dire Weasels, two of em’.

https://i2.wp.com/www.koboldquarterly.com/k/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/weasel.jpg

Okay… I swear they weren’t this cute… I MEAN IT!

So while the battle raged above I struggled below with two fierce little bastards.  Sure, they were only CR 2 but I was injured already and they resisted the fire from my sword and… SHUT UP! The only spell I got off was Mage Armor so I did have some AC. The rest of the fight was just me and my sword against two full HP Dire Rodents! Mike was beside himself happy that someone had fallen into his little trap, and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face either regardless of the fact I was in some serious duress.
In the end I fought off those annoying critters and didn’t allow Mike to kill me off. The guys still poked fun at me though, and to this day we still enjoy a good laugh at the idea of falling into a pit of Dire Weasels.

There are so many other great stories from that time. My buddy Nick ran a half-drow Rogue Shadow Dancer we dubbed “Rizzen the Great!”. Another friend who played a barbarian that Jake essentially ran for him because he was there just to hang out. The creation of the “Money Button”, the heartbeat sound we made when someone was trying to secure the critical hit they just rolled. Many good times for sure.

-Melvs

Day 28: Scariest Game You’ve Played

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: SCARIEST GAME YOU’VE PLAYED

The scariest game I’ve ever run was a game of Dread the RPG where the guys were being chased by a werewolf while trying to enjoy a float trip, it was one of the pre-mades for the system.  If you’ve never played Dread you should certainly give it a go!  The scariest game I’ve ever played though, well that was a Ravenloft game.

Caul RickrakThe game was part of the adventures of Caul Rickrak, one of his adventures I didn’t get to back on Day 8 of RPGaDay.  Our characters were somehow caught up in a request to look into an older building that ended up being haunted.  My memory of the exact details are very shaky but I remember the tone, it was all about our character’s faults.

One of our crew was an alcoholic, and not in the “har har, I take a drink every time we go to the tavern” type but rather someone who’s alcoholism actually got in the way at times.  Caul had his temper, of course, and the others I can’t seem to recall.  Great story, I know.

Shouldn't be anything off about this place...

Shouldn’t be anything off about this place…

One of the pivitol scenes for me was when Caul was attempting to simply climb a flight of steps and the entity just kept interferring, getting his temper flared up.  Then suddenly, after he began to feel utterly helpless, he was transported via illusion back to one of the many days the villiagers he grew up around turned on him.  In the vision they beat him and called him names, he felt more an more helpless until some good rolls finally broke the spell holding him and he laid waste to the shades of his past.

It was eeire and well played.  It’s that kind of stuff that makes me really want to see my buddy Jake run some more Ravenloft.  Just finding some good ways to make us feel a mite uneasy.

-Melvs

Iron Kingdoms Unleashed

One thing I knew I wanted to do at Gen Con 2014 was get to play Privateer Press’ future entry into their Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying Game “Iron Kingdoms Unleashed”. Sadly, I was too slow in the grabbing of events and did not make a single reservation at any of the games they were running. This was fine though, because I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the panel Privateer Press had set up to give a sneak peek at Iron Kingdoms Unleashed. I’m glad I did, it looks to be shaping up to be exactly what I was hoping for.  A hyper-aggressive, tooth and claw, visceral, force of nature!…In game form.

Unleashed first lookBack in the summer of 2013 Privateer Press released its updated rules for their RPG setting Iron Kingdoms. Prior to this release they had been utilizing the d20 system for their product and while that was fine it didn’t really garner the same feeling to those playing the game that the parent system Miniature Wargame, Warmachine and Hordes, did. The update actually incorporated a style of play that was very similar to Warmachine and Hordes and in doing so likely dropped the barrier of entry for lovers of the Miniatures Wargame who had maybe never played an RPG. The new rules fit their game well and presented a compelling, and very different, type of play that I truly came to love.

IKRPG Core Rules Cover

The first foray into their game world consisted of a core rulebook titled “Full Metal Fantasy” and it was very much a representation of the factions one would recognize from the Warmachine half of their miniatures game. This left me, and likely others, wondering when we would get more love for the Hordes portion of the game, it is here where “Unleashed” comes into play.

Where “Full Metal Fantasy” introduced us to the more civilized portions of the Iron Kingdoms, with steampunk arsenals and militaristic nations, “Unleashed” looks to be going full bore into the opposite direction. The races and “careers” a player will choose from are pulled from tribes of people and other sentient creatures that are losing their natural habitat to the frenetic push of civilization.  They are more concerned with where to get their next meal or how to protect their villages and families than joining a war effort like theirUnleashed civ militaristic neighboring countries. This will be a game of “Survival of the Fittest” just that their survival may hinge upon teaming up with other beastly creatures of the wilds to push back against further incursion into their habitats!

There has been much speculation as to what races may be playable in “Unleashed” and there was no holding back on that account. Many of the popular entities from the Hordes universe have been captured in Player Character form. The new ones include Gatormen, Bog Trogs, variants for Trollkin, Pygmy Trolls, Tribal Humans, Tharn, Ferro, and even a form of the Nyss that are not Blighted! These races will be focused on survival, and many times that will be represented in some truly visceral ways. A Gatorman may actually eat portions of a fallen foe to sate its gnawing hunger. Pieces of a body may be used for magical channeling or as a piece of armor. One of my favorite quotes of the panel was “body glands will be formidable weapons for an Ogrunn”. Their “careers”, assuming the word career will be used in this system the way it is used in Full Metal Fantasy, will be very representative of the wilds. For example the image below shows a Bog Trog Bonegrinder Mist Speaker and a Gatorman Monster Hunter Brigand.

Unleashed Preview 01Magic for “Unleashed” will function much like it does in Hordes, the way “Full Metal Fantasy” mirrored Warmachine’s handling. You will be able to run a Warlock and that Warlock will be able to capture and forge a relationship with a Warbeast. Each race handles that differently too. This may be a concept I’m very excited about. The use of Warjacks and Warbeasts are not only common in Warmachine and Hordes but present in practically every game played. In “Full Metal Fantasy” I was always a bit put off by the financial hurdles one faces before they can ever get a Warjack capable of working seamlessly with its Warcaster. With “Unleashed” there seems it may be possible to hunt down a Warbeast fairly early on. This is something that would likely be a very dangerous but obviously rewarding task, and much more satisfying than merely saving up the coin to purchase a Warjack.

Speaking of Warbeasts reminds me of another aspect of the game explored at the panel, the horrifying beasts of the wilds. It was revealed that there will be over one hundred pages of monster content within the pages of “Unleashed”. All of them a danger to any traveler in the small pockets of wilderness in western Immoren, even the beastly characters you will be playing. One mentioned creature sent a shiver down all our spines (pun intended), the Spine Ripper. Certainly a hit from the previous incarnations Monsternomicon!

An UNLEASHED adventure party has fallen into a croak trap. The art is taken from the Gear chapter section on traps.

An UNLEASHED adventure party has fallen into a croak trap. The art is taken from the Gear chapter section on traps.

Honestly if there has been a game like this before I’m not familiar with it (though please feel free to inform me if I’m wrong).   There is uniqueness on two fronts. The first being that “Unleashed” will be a standalone core rulebook, you will not need “Full Metal Fantasy”, or any of its supplements. Though, it has been relayed that, much like Warmachine and Hordes, the system will work fine with its civilized cousin. There were hints that there may be some imbalance between the systems though, so GM beware when giving your players free reign to take what they will from both! The second factor comes from the visceral, wild aspects of the game itself. This is where the game really stands out to me as an interesting project. There has rarely been a game of this kind of bestial nature, Dark Sun or Primeval Thule strike me as lone competitors on that front. Even then, they focused more on human or humanoid survival in the wilds than on starkly different types of races.

I’m very excited to have participated in the panel, and am even more excited to get my hands on this book. I think it will certainly be an exciting, vicious, addition to the Iron Kingdoms Roleplaying game. Look for an early 2015 release, and if you want even more information here is the LINK to the initial look at the game that was provided back during the Privateer Press 2014 Keynote.

-Melvs

Day 27: Game You’d Like to See a New/Improved Edition of

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: GAME YOU’D LIKE TO SEE A NEW/IMPROVED EDITION OF

The 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons is in the process of hitting the shelves and rather than a generic fantasy setting they’ve chosen the Forgotten Realms to hang their hat on.  The first thing this day’s question made me think of is not some system I’d like to see a new edition of but rather what Campaign Setting I wanted to see given life in the new Edition of Dungeons and Dragons.  So after scarce internal debate I’ve narrowed it down to two settings, and if you’ve paid any amount of attention to my incessant ramblings over this last month you can probably figure which two won out my interests.  Eberron and Ravenloft!

RAVENLOFT

The Demiplane of Dread has had a storied history with Dungeons and Dragons. Our first introduction to the Gothic Horror setting was with the module “Ravenloft” released in 1983 where adventurers were whisked away on the wings of malevolent mists to a fun little romp in the land of Barovia to hang out with everyone’s favorite tragic lover Strahd!

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Okay… maybe not so lovable

The module and its 1986 sequel module “The House on Gryphon Hill” were so popular that TSR decided to create a full campaign setting with the Realms of Terror boxed set, know colloquially as the “Black Box”.   My own personal introduction to Ravenloft was through the 3rd party work by White Wolf Studios, under its Sword and Sorcery, imprint during the 3.X edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

I’ve always loved the Gothic Horror feel of the game.  The Dark Powers touching everything, creating Dark Lords that rule their own corners of the plane whether they know it or not.  The downtrodden masses suffering at the whims of horrifying beasts and people.  No one is looking for heroes in these lands and when heroes do appear they are often met with distrust and are begrudgingly rewarded when they do help someone.  It’s dark, brooding, and horrible but a truly fun setting to play.

https://melsmifgames.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/22bc8-castleravenloft.jpg

Right now I believe all rights for the Campaign Setting have reverted back to Wizards of the Coast.  I kept waiting to see some Ravenloft love back during 4th Edition but we never did.  Instead my good friend Jake had to craft his own stuff, as I’ve mentioned before way back on Day 8 of this thing.  Hopefully we’ll see it under this new set of rules.

EBERRON

In 2002 Wizards of the Coast ran a contest called the Fantasy Setting Search to allow game designers the chance to be picked as the next Campaign setting for the Dungeons and Dragons system.  After sifting through over 11,000 entries the Campaign Setting written by Keith Baker, Eberron, was chosen.

When Eberron was released in June of 2004 I had just graduated from High School and was spending the summer working like a dog at a local golf course and conference center, generally enjoying most of the tropes one sees in a “teen summer” movie from the 80’s.  It was basically Caddyshack every day.  Gaming wasn’t left behind though, we played a lot during that summer and it was the first time Eberron entered our game.  We loved it from the get-go.  Magic, steampunk, and pulp noir filling every crevasse of a very fantasy world that brought races like the Warforged to life (and even the annoying changelings).  Always on the verge of another great war, likely never to advance in timeline much.  Truly fun stuff.

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Later in college, once I had migrated to Mizzou to be with the rest of my pals, Eberron became our go to Campaign Setting.  I hold many fond memories of campaign after campaign set in the world.  Three separate, long-term, campaigns were run by three separate DM’s (Myself, my brother, and my buddy Nick) all set in Eberron.  Every week we got together and spent a little time in Khorvaire.

I’ve mentioned it before but the longest game I ever ran was a 4th Edition D&D game set in Eberron.  We played it for just over 2 years, you can even see many of my post game write ups on a blog I kept (LINK).  This setting has meant a lot to me and I’ve always wanted to thank Keith Baker for creating it.  I mean, even my twitter handle was chosen based on the name of Eberron’s most prolific city (Sharn).  So here’s hoping I get to see it reproduced once more for 5th Edition!

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Plus: Airships

I love both these settings and want to see more of them in the new rules.  I suppose it would be easy enough to modify some of the older stuff to fit 5th Edition (certainly easier than it was to modify them into 4th) but I’d like to see it done up proper.  We are still fresh in the launch, but things do seem to be coming along really well for this edition of D&D.  Hopefully though, even if we don’t get the two I want, we will get some more interesting settings than just the Forgotten Realms, a good starter but man is that a well trod landscape!

-Melvs

 

 

Day 26: Coolest Character Sheet

DAY TWENTY-SIX: COOLEST CHARACTER SHEET

I believe I’ll choose from a more recent stock of character sheets out there and choose my favorite from the lot.  I love the Numenera Character Sheet.

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When I first glanced at the sheet I honestly thought it looked really busy but upon actually writing up a character and playing the game it is as functional as it is cool looking.

https://i1.wp.com/lantredugeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Num-Fiche-2.jpg

Its a great representation of the weirdness of its parent system and setting, not to mention the obvious work that was put in behind the scenes before this game rolled out.  The folks behind Monte Cook Games really polished everything well before launch.  Looking forward to more from them in the coming years.

-Melvs

Day 25: Favorite RPG No One Else Wants to Play

DAY TWENTY-FIVE: FAVORITE RPG NO ONE ELSE WANTS TO PLAY

I’ll go a bit odd here because, thankfully, today’s topic is a mite vague.  My live group has played this RPG extensively but may never play it again.  Typically it is reviled about the net and in game conversations worldwide, and I never really understood the vitriol.  It may not be my favorite game of all time but I do really like it.  Ok… I’ll stop teasing. The game I’m referencing is 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

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I just erased a large collection of text that could have been titled “Why I think all the Haters are Wrong About 4e” and I’m more than willing to hold a lengthy conversation with someone if they wanted to hear me rant about it, but that’s not what today is about.  Instead I’m going to tell you about my concern that I may never get to play this fun little game again, and why that makes me sad.

https://i1.wp.com/www.g33kwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/wpid-RevenantScout.jpg

I LIKED all those cards and stuff, I made my own of course, but I liked em’!

I’ve always maintained that the rule system and concept behind 4th edition only made one mistake when it rolled out, and that’s being attached to the Dungeons and Dragons name.  Had an independent company introduced us to this style of game we would have been floored by how innovative it’s style really was.  I’ve never played an RPG with more balance infused into its core and the combat system handles as well as any tactical tabletop skirmishes game.  So while 4th isn’t my favorite version of Dungeons and Dragons (5th edition fits that mold now) it was a refreshing change from 3.5 that contained all the same lengthy battles and none of the balance.

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I’ve made mention of my love for the Monster Builder, only truly GREAT thing from the Digital Tools. Encounter building & customization was easy due to balance again.

My concern though seems similar to that annoying “First World Problems” meme, 5th edition D&D is so good even the people I played with who liked 4th likely won’t ever want to play it again!.  I mean, it fell apart at Paragon level and above, the mystery surrounding magic weapons was diluted extensively, and the wizard class just felt odd, but I ran some of my best games through 4th edition D&D and had some of the best Roleplay my table has ever seen.  It holds a special place in my heart, and I’m afraid it may just fade out of style.  Maybe I can play it at a Con or something.

 

OH! Lastly, some of the best written Eberron guides & supplements ever made were done within the 4th Edition era, and I love me some Eberron!

https://i1.wp.com/img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100703201719/eberron/images/2/24/4E_Eberron_Campaign_Guide.jpg

-Melvs

Day 24: Most Complicated RPG Owned

DAY 24: MOST COMPLICATED RPG OWNED

I’ve remarked on this before but Hackmaster is truly the most complicated game I have in my collection.  The rules are like that for a reason though, its part of the schtick!  Hackmaster Sheild 02

Just look at the inside of that DM’s Shield!  Plenty of rules to try and keep straight.  Ever seen the rules for injuries?  Still a very playable game, it just boils things down to the minutia.  Of course the last time I really tried running the game I was a sophomore in High School…maybe I should give them a look over with the bit of experience I’ve picked up since then.

-Melvs

 

 

Day 23: Coolest Looking RPG Product\Book

DAY 23: COOLEST LOOKING RPG PRODUCT\BOOK

My coolest looking product is actually the work I’ve done using the Hirst Arts molds I’ve talked about with fair regularity during this RPGaDay spree.  I figure if I were to ever sell this stuff it would be a product for someone else so, to me, it fits the criteria.       3d Dungeon whole

Now, I know its amateurish work but I’m damn proud of what I’ve done with just those molds, some dental plaster, paint, and craft water.  Its also incredibly easy to get proficient at this stuff too.

I’m not going to give a full Step by Step guide on doing this, if you visit the Hirst Arts website they had a plethora of videos and guides that handle training far better than I could but here is a picture of what my Molds look like and I recommend a dental plaster that I order from Canyon State Dental Supply called Excalibur.  For a 50lb box you only pay $32.99 (plus some heavy shipping of course) and that entire dungeon you saw was made with only 1/3 of that 50lb box.  The stuff goes a long flippin’ way.3d Dungeon 06

The base I used, pictured to the right, is a cheapish foam board you can buy at any Michael’s, Wal-Mart, or Craft Store.  How lucky I left the sticker on when cutting the shape!  As you can see I use the 3/16 of an inch style.  All I had to use to glue the dried tiles to it was some Liquid Nails brand glue, but pretty much anything stronger than Elmer’s Glue would be workable.  You use the same glue to glue stone against stone as well.

3d Dungeon 05The first work I tried was just building some hallways and comers.  From the get go I wanted to make a whole dungeon, and wanted it to be made of modular pieces but I’m not going to lie and say what you saw above was my final vision.  No, it was very much a learning process on making a working dungeon that fit together and some of the smaller corners were certainly made just to fill in a gap I accidentally left empty when initially designing it.

3d Dungeon 01

3d Dungeon 03

Other fun modular pieces to make were doorways and of course the entrance to the whole thing.   I added torches and skulls for further character but I don’t think I care for the torches, which is a shame because removing them will leave a glue spot for me to file down.  Thing is though, I want to leave the option for my dungeons to be pitch black though.  So naturally I need to remove the light someone could point to.

3d Dungeon 02

The coolest part I worked on though were the rooms with the water effects.  Mainly because this gave me the opportunity to work with Craft Water.  I was so intrigued when the craft water started seeping into the crevasses of the stones near them, it really gave the impression that there was water flowing by.  A seriously cool effect.  I did some testing here where I handled the craft water differently for both pieces.  On one I painted the top of the craft water, giving it a duller look.  The other I painted the foam board below where I was going to put the craft water and it resulted in a shinier water effect.  Either looks really great but now I know how they look in case I want a clearer or murkier water look.

So there we have it folks, if you have any questions about Hirst Arts stuff I am more than willing to talk with you or answer comments about it.

-Melvs