Lucky number 13! Today I bring you something from the murky depths of your mind… A winged, tentacled beast whose will renders one confused at best, delirious if lucky… the worst is unthinkable…
It’s cultists vs. investigators in The Seals of Cthulhu and a few lucky backers of the successful Kickstarter campaign by Thing 12 Games are getting a special game box from the hands of the designer, Sean Epperson.

To Play Is Human: What game is this project for and why did you make it?
Sean Epperson: The Seals of Cthulhu. We wanted to have a cool custom game that we could send backers, ahead of the retail version, and I enjoy making something extra special for our higher tier backers.

TPIH: Is this your first tabletop crafting project? If not, how did you get started with tabletop crafting?
Sean: This is our 4th Kickstarter-funded game. I started back in 2014, with a game idea and a handful of blank cards.
If you’re a designer, making hand-crafted things is part of the trade, be it cards, dice, tokens, game boards, etc. You find ways to quickly get your game prototyped so you can play it early. That’s one of the core principles of design. Build it fast, find out where it fails, fix, find out the new places it fails, fix, etc etc. Failure is just a step forward to success.
TPIH: What was the process for creating the custom wood boxes? What tools and supplies did you use?
Box Inside In Progress
I found the boxes through a hobby shop and they had an awesome look that really spoke to me. I knew I would have to do some work on them though.
So I had Cast Iron Game Lab do an engraving on the lid, with the name of the game. I then used an appropriate “Cthulhu-looking” colored stain, and painted the boxes. I wanted them to have an older look, which is why I chose stain instead of paint. I then used a darker stain for the bands.
Box In Progress
Stain is very watery, so I used a sponge-brush to paint the stain on.
I wanted the inside to look nice as well, and offer some protection for the cards, as wood could scratch them up.
Finished Box - Outside
I ended up finding a dark felt-like material that I could cut and glue to the inside of the box. It made the box look great when open, and the darker green added a nice contrast to the lighter green on the outside.
Finished Box - Inside
TPIH: What advice would you give to someone thinking about a similar project? Any specific resources you would recommend?
Sean: Don’t feel like you have to build EVERYTHING from scratch. There is no shame in starting with a base and then making it your own.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to the community. It’s incredibly helpful and there are a lot of knowledgeable people that can offer assistance or know of a service to utilize. There are lots of Facebook groups for tabletop and crafting, Twitter folks, etc. The community is very inviting.
TPIH: What does your crafting work space look like?
Sean: Heh. For me, I’ve got full family so “crafting space” is an quaint notion. All my work is done on the kitchen table, on a lap table sitting at the couch, outside on a bench, etc. Necessity is the mother of improvisation. 😉
TPIH: What do you enjoy about tabletop crafting or crafting in general?
Sean: Making something that will engage people or something they will find value in. As a designer and developer of tabletop games, I feel like playtesters can better give you feedback if there is at least some sort of visual for them to identify with…and it makes them more interested in trying a prototype as well.

TPIH: What are your current favorites in the following categories:

  • Recently played game: My top faves are Moai and Vanuatu. Strangely, they’re not fantasy…but they are incredibly mean games (without looking the part) with players undercutting each other all through the game. The term “knife fight in a phone booth” absolutely applies. I also really like Dice of Pirates. Yes, it’s one of our games…but the player interaction, ease of teach, and portability make it a super fun game to bust out for some quick piratey fun.
  • Mechanic: I really like worker placement games, but there needs to be some player interaction rather than just a solo “I do my thing without interaction with others” element.
  • Theme: Anything fantasy. If there are dragons, monsters, swords and sorcery I’m immediately interested.
  • Designer: Eric Lang. His games have a high amount of thematic tie-in with the mechanics and he seems to focus on engagement between players. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t call out Badger, the designer of Dice of Crowns and Dice of Pirates. His grasp of dice games and quick filler games makes him a blast to work with.
  • Game Illustrator and/or Sculptor: Víctor Pérez Corbella. He does the art for Champions of Midgard, and has a really striking and eye-catching style. Son Duong, the artist behind our upcoming The Seals of Cthulhu, is also an incredibly talented artist. His paintings for the game art make everyone turn their heads and ask about the game. He’s classically trained in physical media, which helps his art stand out from many others.

TPIH: Thanks for sharing your project, Sean! It’s fun to see a bit of the behind-the-scenes action for special items like this. I’m sure the backers receiving these will be very happy with them!
Readers, if you’d like to find Sean around the web to get news about this and future projects from him and Thing 12 Games, you can follow him here:


Do you have a tabletop gaming project that you’ve created? Contact me with some information and photos. No project is too big/small — as long as you made it yourself and you use it when you game, it is eligible for submission! I would love to see projects for board game upgrades and accessories, RPGs, miniatures (I would love to see mini paint jobs!), terrain, dice towers, custom playmats, custom dice, or anything else you have made.

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