Sculpting again – Robotech Tactics

I was annoyed by the lack of Malcontent command chips, so I started sculpting my own this afternoon. So far, I’ve got about 20-30 minutes of work into it. I freehanded the base shape onto paper using a UEDF chip as a size comparison, sketched the design onto it loosely with a Micron .005, and then freehanded from that with my engraver (picked on up free from one of the Makerspace guys who was ditching it after getting a laser engraver).

After cutting the base chip and freehanding the Malcontent logo on there with the Dremel - ~5m.

After cutting the base chip and freehanding the Malcontent logo on there with the Dremel – ~5m.

Next, I mixed a tiny amount of Green Stuff and worked it onto the design.
Step three - 10 MinTook about 10 minutes so far. I’m pretty proud of the detail on the Valkyrie tail, especially since it’s less than 1mm tall.

Now I gotta wait until after my volunteering shift at the local film society to throw another layer of GS on there, but it’s already looking damned good. I’m probably gonna be in shape to drop rubber on these by the time I can afford to buy more. Eventual plan is to cast off a pair of masters, sand the backs down slightly, and then glue them together and install a thin rim instead of trying to do this thing double-sided. All told, should take me about an hour’s actual work to get a mold going, maybe another 40 minutes total to set up a full mass-production rig.
Not, of course, that I’d MP these. But Jesus, Palladium, it’d take a pro sculptor less than a fucking day to set this up and GHQ could be pumping them out by the thousands in less than a week. Hell, you already have masters for the UEDF and Zent chips, put them under some rubber and give us enough to actually play with…

I made a bookcase today.

Salvaged a broken, but good-quality bookcase (made with actual wood and quarter-round molding, I might add) from the side of the road last month. Bleached it to neutralize any mold/acids in the wood, cleaned it up, sanded off the ruined old finish, and cut/stained new shelves. Cost me about $8 in materials to restore her. Letting it dry overnight before I seal it with polyurethane and put books/models on it. So, got a ~$60-100 bookcase now for about ten bucks and six or seven hour’s labour. Most of which was literally letting paint dry.

Yup, it's a bookcase

Yup, it’s a bookcase

yet another quick update.

Nothing super big going on for the last two days, just a lot of micro-progress. Still, I’m trying to publish at least once every two days right now, so here ya go.

As far as the ongoing cleanup goes, I sorted out the last of my terrain and materials into boxes, cleaning out and consolidating my three unsorted boxes of minis into one coherent whole. Still need another three to four plastic shoeboxes to finish storing everything (I need to sort the Mars Attacks suburbs and generic post-apoc terrain into its own box and clear out the big shoebox currently full of modular Necromunda and Russian industrial terrain so I can put my Space Hulk set into it). Bases are sorted for now as well, but I need to replace or repair the current Plamo case they’re in – the hinges on the lid shattered from UV degradation.

Less impressive-looking than perhaps it is. Top to bottom: Bases, Fantasy, Post-apoc, Warzone, Light Vehicles and Mecha. Gundams to the left, IG and moderns to the right.

Less impressive-looking than perhaps it is. Top to bottom: Bases, Fantasy, Post-apoc, Warzone, Light Vehicles and Mecha. Gundams to the left, IG and moderns to the right.

On the modeling front, I cleaned up, converted, and posed a Stalker, Wasp, and two RRPGT Valkyries, and did a photoshoot for my long-delayed review of the Destroid Tomahawk (which I need to finish now so that I can start on a Secret Project [tm]).

no soup for you

Finally, I’ve gotten the last bits of wood I need to do the paint shelf and finish restoring a bookcase I salvaged last month, so tomorrow’s gonna be a carpentry day.

About to be a couple of far more-impressive things.

About to be a couple of far more-impressive things.

Then I’m having guests for dinner. Should be a lot of fun.

Pirate conversions, and more Black Widow work (TotBWC, Battletech)

So, I’ve been much more productive these last couple of months than usual. Part of it’s getting on the right meds for a change, part of it’s completing the better part of a year’s worth of therapy for my ADHD. Now I’ve got time to work on something other than fixing my headspace, I’ve been working my ass off on my project backlogs. It hasn’t really made it onto the blog, since a lot of my projects have just been aimed at unfucking my house or otherwise not hobby-related, and I haven’t been in the mood to write for a while either. But now it’s too hot for carpentry, so back to the keyboard we go.

Right now I’m working on my massive post queue; I kept starting posts and then abandoning them to the ether after twenty minutes over the last year or so, and now I’m going back and finishing them – or adding on the stuff that I quit writing to do and never got done.

This is one of those posts – a selection of the ‘Mechs I converted/prepped/repaired in the course of three days back in June. I had to pull a couple back for QC (like the Bounty Hunter), but it was a lot of fun.

Overall production

Left to right, front to back:
Front row: SHD-2D “Vang” custom Shadow Hawk (This one is a little surprise for the mission “Leave No Survivors“; check below the break for the tech readout. It’s a beast), Stinger, Crusader, converted GRF-1S “Steiner”.
Second Row: Stinger, converted Wasp (left-handed, with a Recon Camera, two Vehicular Grenade Launchers, and a Small Laser replacing the missile system), an ICE Thunderbolt (modified from Steve’s design in 3063, see below the cut), a dressed-up Griffin with a Dougram Bushmaster’s linear gun, and a stock WHM-6R for the Santander Killers.
Third Row: two stock Wolverines, plus a Shadow Hawk converted to a Wolverine standard. See below for the parts breakdown. After that there’s another upgunned Griffin and a reposed and cut-down Stalker for the pirates (I’m using the stats for the lightened 80-tonner with it).

IMG_20160605_213303_957Detail pics:
Here’s some slightly better shots of the four who do me proudest.
SHD-2D “Vang”: Added another Dougram light Linear gun (the ML on the Shadow Hawk) from my gashapon collection, and put on a light SRM from the same source. The over-the-shoulder gun is the Large Laser I took from the Thunderbolt, mounted on a small part from a MW Clix mini. I recarved the area next to the head to remove the original grenade pack and plugged the SRM holes in its “collarbone”.

SHD-2 “NISE* Wolverine”: So, I’ve always disliked the way the Wolverine looks (heresy, I know. Shut up.). I scored a 3e plastic Shad on Ebay for $1 since the backpack gun was damaged and the laser had broken off. And I figured “Why the hell not? Someone’s gotta get a Command ‘Mech out of this, and pirates seem like the folks to do it”. First I rebarreled the arm laser with a bit of wire and some Green Stuff, then added a spare Command Destroid pack to the back in place of the AC. I mated the AC receiver to a barrel cut from scrap from a WH40 Basilisk fighting platform railing and a short magazine made from plasticard, then mounted it under the fore-arm. It’s hard to see, but there’s a small finger guard attached to the hand-grip. The missile rack is a carefully re-cut pair of SRMs from a JES-1 carrier. I also filed off the VGL mount on this one, but left the gap clear for the backpack SRM to shoot through.
This is going to be the leader for Recce lance of 2 Coy, Santander’s Killers.
*From the Gundam fandom. Refers to a “mocked up” or faked version of a ‘Mech using another’s chassis; the original NISE Gundam used a GM chassis.

TDR-6FX1: I like diesel Thuds. You like Diesel Thuds. We all like ’em. So this was an easy rebuild choice for another E-Bay rescue Thud. The shoulder mount is a pair of Dougram Linear guns, cut down and reinforced, with a Locust-like arm pod made from plasticard and a plastic rod. The arm got a Wolverine hand-gun from a WVR-6M conversion I did ages ago for a buyer, plus a shield from an MS-06F Zaku II that I had converted to a Zaku I. The smokestacks are made from sprues, and I sculpted a simple engine and heat sink into the back (as well as the laser pack space in the front). Given that these things are supposed to be like forty years old by the late Jihad, I busted her up a little bit too.

GRF-1S: This is a simple up-gunning, using components from a Roundfacer “Korchima Special” as well as a RRPGT Defender radome and some cord.First I cut away the shitter guns that come with the vinyl 3e minis, then carefully sawed in the detail on the legs and re-carved/sculpted the shoulder and side of the head. I added a small “reactor pack” on the back using a casting taken from a AAA battery, and wired it up to a recast Roundfacer gun. I tried a couple different components to dress up the other side of the pack, but the radome just seemed to fit so well. On the other side, I’ve mounted a smaller missile launcher, taken from a Dougram gashapon. Oddly, given how much time and effort I sunk into the others this one is still my favorite-looking.

 

The Future:

Painting to come once I finish allocating to the various forces in the book, though I already have homes for the Stalker, “NISE” Wolverine (both to the Killers), Thud (Canopian militia), Stingers, Vang’s SHD (Draconis March Militia), and Griffins (One each to the Donegal Guards, Killers, and Black Widows). On the shelf I’ve got some converted Archers, Pixies, the Bounty Hunter (3015), a few Valks, and the Dougram gashapon to fiddle with, plus a fuckton of vees.

Record sheets:
Below the cut, with some quick commentary on the design process and ideas behind them.
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Airbase Toblerone: Part one (Battletech, Robotech Tactics)

As promised (two weeks ago -_-;;) here’s some WiP shots of the terrain I’ve been working on. I got a fire lit back under me while working in the local makerspace with one of the guys on some really basic foam-cork stuff, and started back up on one of my long-term stalled projects; a fully-fleshed out 6mm Drop Port and/or HPG station for Battletech and Robotech Tactics. The wall and command bunker entrance here come from that session.

Ha Shi Dao complex front

“But what’s the ‘Mech, Doc?” Come back tomorrow for more..

IMG_20160605_213655_604 They’re loosely based on the Hai Shi Dao defense emplacements from Steel Battalion (Christ I love that game), and depicted as shelled and partially knocked-out. The intact emplacement on the left in the bottom pic is going to be getting a twin-AC/10 emplacement later. I really wanted to get a kind of “churned and barraged” feel, so I referenced a couple paintings of WWI battlefields for the ground colors on the main emplacement. You can also see a partly-overgrown crater with bits of a tree in the foreground of the piece.

Airbase step 2

For the main buildings, I rooted out one of my old ERTL Space Shuttle kits for the EuroLab components and the  GPS satellite payloads (I’m converting the Shuttles themselves into mini-Leopards, but that’s another post) to make the Quonset huts and barracks. The Command Center is a fighting deck from a Warhammer 40k Basilisk that I’d converted to a direct-fire SP gun, along with a few resin scrap components and a Cardassian comm screen from an old Star Trek figure. All are mounted on 1/8″ foamcore. The beveling was done roughly with a sharp hobby knife.
The gate towers are each made from half a Toblerone package (which I’ve been wanting to do for ages), scrap from the “Storage Units” that I got from the Burn In Designs kickstarter as ‘Mech hangars, and bits from a trashed Mechwarrior DA figure I used for parts on an N-scale kitbash. The bay windows are simply cut from mini blisters. These are still waiting on internal floors for the third deck and some catwalks against the back wall, as well as armament for the towers. I’m focusing on the plastic buildings at the moment, so I can get as much as possible put away before doing any more heavy conversion lifting.

Airbase progress 10 Aug 2016Current status after base-coating.
I sealed the foamcore with PVA glue, then added sand and flocking with another couple coats of glue before spray-coating. No melting, so I must have done it well enough..
You may remember the turrets here from my casting tutorials (link to first post here). I’ve since converted a few of them to laser and missile turrets, as well as a massive mini-missile rack and a “mechaturm” based on the old German Panzerturms. The turret torso is from one of my own “Shortbow” custom FrankenMechs. The readout below is just for the “factory” option, since making a Franken proper is a massive pain in the ass.

Basically just slap an LRM-20 in each arm instead of those shitter ACs and you get a startlingly competent back-line fire-support unit.

Basically just slap an LRM-20 in each arm instead of those shitter ACs and you get a startlingly competent back-line fire-support unit. Enough sinks to fight, ammo for days, and no armor to speak of. It’s perfect!

 

Remaining for this project: Doll up the Burn In Designs modules and the Toblerone Towers, prep the power center and fuel farm (I have the parts, just haven’t put them together) and make a blast shield for droppers.

Desk Organization System (DiY)

IMG_20160810_131249_686I wound up putting a lot of projects on hold over the last couple weeks so I could do this. I’ve put together a new top shelf for my desk to expand my storage space, and I’m also working on a paint rack to free up one of my toolboxes for all of my new gear. I’ve been talking shit about fixing the desk for over two years, and the overwhelming clutter has been holding me back from doing a lot of other stuff. It feels damned good to have this done.
Below the fold, I talk about the tools and equipment I used to make the shelf, but all told this cost me almost nothing and presents a substantial improvement over the absolute wreck I had before.

Read the full post »

Quick Robotech Tactics update

Palladium finally put up the paper minis they’ve been promising for literally over a year on Drivethru RPG.

There are still problems with the assembly instructions, but those are also now up for every unit in the game instead of just a couple.  I’m hoping to find the time to print a few up and see how they look in a few, but right now I’m more interested in another project. More on that in a bit.

General update (BT, LotFP, RL)

Been away for a while, and while I’ve been getting a lot done in meatspace I just haven’t had the right kind of energy or focus for extensive writing these last few moons (I’ve still posted a bit on tumblr and the LotFP G+ groups, just not enough material/fucks to hack at the KB here for a while) . Not to mention, I haven’t been getting much if any table time in (although that’s changing), so there really hasn’t been much to write about.
Oh, and my fourth wedding anniversary is tomorrow.
So.. general update time.

 

On the blog front:
Went back and fixed some broken links as well as doing minor edits to a couple of posts as playtesting shakes out. Notably, Camo Specs Online (the BT color reference site) went down and had to completely restructure, so I had to fix all those links. I bumped all my drafts to the top of the queue to see what’s salvageable.
I’m also going to be revising the sidebar links and adding a few new cool people to the list, as well as removing dead sites. If you happen to see something let me know.

Kickstarter updates:
Got my copies of World of the Lost, Towers Two, and England Upturn’d. All are amusing in their own ways. Reviews as can be arsed.

Robotech RPG Tactics continues to be a mass clusterfucking event, with Palladium now weeping crocodile tears about how hard it is to make new sprue layouts while promising us the same shit they have been since Wayne stopped talking last year. Kevin got hit by a truck and people were celebrating in the comments because at least the header on the Pallladium updates changed for a week. I need to get a few more items before continuing work on the build reviews for the Archer/Spartan, Warhammer/Tomahawk, and Longbow/Phalanx.

The Skyway Project buildings are fucking awesome.

Gameplay updates:
Got my friend A. into BattleTech, and we’ve done a couple of training fights now as well as dicking around watching ’70s and ’80s Real Robot anime. Much fun was had, and BATTLETECH occurred

Ran a picaresque game with Scenic Dunnsmouth for my folks on the 4th, using the characters from the Thanksgiving game as well as a couple new rolls. It got cut off right after a Big Reveal ™, but at a place that allows adding or subtracting characters as necessary. Play report shortly, along with house rules in use.

Meatspace projects: (project logs in line for several of these)
I’ve successfully sorted nearly 20 years’ worth of loose papers – including DM notes, half-finished projects, dead campaigns, and reference files. All of my gaming books are likewise sorted. I built new display shelves for my desk out of a deceased bookcase, and I’ve cut the panels for a chemical and paint storage rack as well.

One of my friends bought a folk-banjo at an artist’s garage sale, and I’m pretty sure I can do one. So I’ve salvaged most of the materials and gotten some tools together; just need strings and elements for the neck. I’ll be blogging my progress as it goes.

Finished one large piece of 6mm terrain. It’s a busted wall based on the shore defenses in Ha Shih Dao in the first missions of Steel Battalion. I also mounted and prepped a half-dozen California Base Turrets, along with a surprise FrankenMech Mechaturm, a massive wall, an assortment of bunkered buildings based on the ERTL Space Shuttle labs and sattelites, and some Quonset huts.

Painted and/or prepped a huge number of models for the Black Widow project. Photos coming this afternoon.

Bought a hardcopy of The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and soft-copies of various BT books (IntOps, CampOps, RS:Industrials, CM:Mercs).

I’ve built up some post-apoc minis for This is Not a Test, and grabbed an assortment of terrain. I also organized and repaired/re-stored all my modular terrain systems. I have a shitload of terrain.

Finished another few props for the local theater folks, including a Kodak Brownie 1880’s model and a couple of books.

Joined the local makerspace, and I’m likely going to be teaching a class on scratch-making half-timbred buildings for Mordheim and the like. Watch this space for deets.

Thanks for putting up with my shit. Have a shiny.

Thanks for putting up with my shit. Have a shiny.

End of an Era (40k, Sisters of Battle)

I don’t talk much about Warhammer on here, simply because I don’t play it any more, but I used to be an avid – even tournament-level – player. I have almost a full maniple of Space Marines with armor and scout support, a very large cultist/IG force based around Necromunda Eschers and converted IG, some Inquisitorial forces, and various uncompleted vehicles, even an entire unfinished army of Dark Eldar and AdMech. But they’re not really what this is about.

Last year, I sold my Ulthwe’ Eldar to a friend. Then again, that army never really got off the ground as far as I was concerned. I had a couple of cool conversions in the force, but I really made it (back in the halcyon days of 3rd edition) to prove a short, extremely violent point to a local metagame that had been obsessed with Swordwind armies. Nobody in the area had ever played against an Eldar swarm with shitloads of cover saves, and it ended hilariously – especially the deathball of 40 WS5 I6 Storm Guardians massed around an Avatar of Khaine. Part of that force was a converted Jetbike warlock of whom I was particularly fond, as well as a massive Seer Council – I actually owned all but one of the Farseer and Warlock models that GW had produced up until 6th edition, with over a dozen minor custom jobs. Anyway, when I sold them, I documented a couple of my conversions for my own archives. IMG_20140404_241747_286 IMG_20140404_241802_233 IMG_20140404_241813_972 IMG_20140404_241840_036Now, though.. another friend of mine has offered to buy my Sisters of Battle.
Sisters are what got me into WH40k, specifically the infamous image of the Palatine crushing a skull under her boot as she advances from the cover of the 2e Sisters ‘dex. They were my first and last love in the game, and they kept me playing through a decade and four editions. I have hundreds of painted sisters and over a dozen vehicles (all based on the old Rhino chassis). At the same time, I’m never going to wind up playing again. It just feels insulting to the Girls to leave them in a box for the rest of forever, especially since they’ve won me many tournaments and dozens of friendly games (not to mention, of course, dying hilariously in dozens more).

Those desultory photos I took for my Eldar just won’t do it for the girls. So over the next week or so I plan to photograph my models, share some memories, and talk a little bit about my games with them and my experiences as a Sisters player over the years. I’m heading off to set up the lightbox later tonight, and we’ll go over the squads and my notable conversions  as I post them.

Props, general update

I’ve been hellaciously busy the last month and change. First I did a crash commission for a cosplayer friend at PAX Prime, then I got roped into working Kumoricon with almost no notice, and I’ve just finished working on Theater Artists Olympia’s reprise of their original musical “The HEAD! That Wouldn’t Die“. More on that later.

First prop: Jinx’s Zapper (League of Legends).
There are only a handful of “official” images of the Zapper, so I was forced to make do with a couple promo images that showed the handle, and what I could glean from in-game footage.

Materials:
1.5″ pipe fittings, hangar wire, 1/2″ nylon cabling, plastic, a couple found items, a soda bottle, acrylic gem, 1/2″ nylon tubing, a maple 1×2″ board, and plywood.
Jinx zapper day 3
First shot I have of the build process, taken at the beginning of Day 3. This is all the parts assembles. You can see that I’ve outlined a tentative grip shape here, as well as carving the grip shape and trigger out. All of this would have taken half an hour with a Dremel, but I was working with a shitty hand-saw and sanding blocks.

Jinx Zapper day 4
Day 4.
A test design for the light-up vacuum tubes, along with fitted grips and a mounted hand-guard. The acryl gem is colored using a trick I picked up ages ago from another builder – if you put nail polish on one side and back it with something reflective, the gem winds up turning that color and sparkling. It’s basically how they make colored Rhinestones. As you can see, I mounted the rope around the wire for stiffness and shaping. I used left-over dessicant tubes from one of my medications, cut in half, as the end caps. The tube is just a placeholder at this stage, since  the one I’d glued together out of the 2-liter soda bottle was still in the clamps.
I’ve sawed off the base of the 90 degree bend, and am using it as an end-cap for the main barrel-tube. The trigger now has the knob on its end – for an up-build, I’d put some kind of knurled bead in there.

Jinx Zapper day 5
Day 5, about halfway through the workday (I took a break and took some photos). I’m test-fitting the butt-plate and the 1.5″ circular wooden plates that will hold the barrel-tube in place. The grip-plates are now stained and screwed in place, and the plastic parts and knuckle-guard are painted.

Jinx Zapper Day 6
Day 5, Final (I took this on Day 6, before I started work, hence the title). The second iteration of the vacuum tubes is in place (they failed spectacularly as well). I’ve puttied the sides of the receiver and mounted the muzzle furniture: the electrical tape is simply holding the main body of the barrel in place as the glue dries. At this point, I had also dropped rubber to start a mold of the prong I sculpted on day 1.

Jinx Zapper Final 1

Jinx Zapper Final 2
Day 6
, The “finished” Zapper without glowsticks installed. I’ve added a friction-fit center “strap” on the barrel. The copper tube though the center adds rigidity as well as serving as a conduit for the eventual lights & sounds conversion I intend to do. There are plastic spacers installed in the breech and rear of the muzzle that center the tube and have holes for glowsticks, my interim lighting solution.
The new, and final, vacuum tubes are based on short sections of copper tube, paperclip wire, wire mesh netting, and one-shot casts of found objects.
The head of the trigger guard forms a pin locking the barrel assembly in place; it can be rotated 15 degrees for maintenance or replacing the glowsticks.
The trigger itself is rigged on a return spring and wired to a simple detent switch for electrification. There is a slot for a battery pack immediately above it inside the breech housing. The grip and breech are screwed together, and the vac tubes will be screwed on as well once I rig the electric lighting.

The final product (for now)

Jinx Zapper final - Internals with flash Jinx Zapper Light Test
Top: unlighted. Bottom: a lighting test with cheap glow-bracelets.

Future Plans:
Electrify prop with flashing lights: not sure I can get a good sound rig inside it without undue expense. The vac tubes, barrel tubes, and gem will go from a steady, light-blue glow when on, to bright flashing blue-white when the trigger is pulled.
I’m also going to get a $5 ice-maker coolant hose to replace the interim rope-and-dessicant guard, and move the grip out and down slightly while sculpting the floorplate of the breech for better handling characteristics.

Washington is Burning

IMG_20150822_193559_118 IMG_20150822_194025_183Last week, we had a thunderstorm that lasted a hair under three hours over my house.
It ignited over 200 wildfires.

The Nisqually delta’s bog is burning. Our Maxfield Parrish splashes of glowing cloud have been replaced by a feeble magenta eye struggling to punch through to us. Yesterday the smoke was so bad in Seattle, you couldn’t see across the Sound, and I stared straight into the sun for the first time in over a decade. It’s like someone stole the sun and traded it out for a red dwarf. Everything smells, tastes, like smoke.

This is the worst it’s been since my great-grandmother was my age.

For the Archive: Solaris Stable Tag Match (Battletech)

I was reminded of an old game mode I used to run years ago by a stray comment in /btg/ – Anon wanted to know what BV levels we preferred, and it came back in a flash.

The Stable Tag Match works best as a mid-season exhibition match or a semi-finals match if you’re doing a full-on AccountantTech Solaris season (and really, there’s no reason not to). It’s sort of a modified Grinder, but flashier, and it makes for a fun demo game. It’s also very much a make-or-break event for the smaller stables, where you have a chance to deal – or receive – crippling economic harm against the competition. I recommend playing it as a double-elimination tournament over a couple of weeks, but with small stables you can sometimes get away with running it as a full-day event.
There are also some other rules in here that I’ve used for most of my Solaris seasons, like the “Face/Heel” bonus purses (see Crowd Support).

Resources:
First things first: you’ll need the April Fool’s joke product XTRO: Royal Fantasy. It reprints all the necessary material from the old Solaris VII boxed set for free, including the map-sheets. You can even print them off in double-size if you want to use Dark Age clix minis, which I’ve done in the past to kick up visual interest in the game. Alternately, you can try to hunt up the Solaris map pack, but that’s been out of print for a good while. The scenario was initially designed for the Steiner Coliseum, but I’ve also used it in the Reaches, the Jungle, and the Factory to good effect.

You’ll also need at least four tag-out markers. I’ve used bottlecaps (good beer makes for good Battletech), Blip markers, repainted Krazy Glue bottle protectors with an LED in the tip, and cardboard hex markers with the word “TAG” on them in large friendly letters.  You can also add 2-hex-wide doors, one per player (I used Space Hulk bulkheads) to the edges of the map, representing the entrances at the edges of the arena.

Hiring Duncan Fisher is advisable but probably prohibitively expensive.

Force Selection:
Matches may be ‘Mech-only, or mixed, at the option of the organizers. The points limit is the total fieldable BV of the smallest stable in the Season, or an arbitrary value between 2,000 and 5,000 BV.  If playing with Stables during a season, the smallest stable(s) use their entire available force. The other stables must field ‘Mechs or other combatants, to the nearest 250 points (NOTE: You can go over, but only if you don’t have any units with a BV lower than the overrun. This is to keep you from winding up 500+ points behind because you can’t quite squeeze in a Light).
For single matches, the forces chosen must all be under the points limit.

Special Rules:
Tagging Out: If a ‘Mech successfully lands a physical attack on one of the “TAG” markers, the ‘Mech is swapped out with another unit from the owning player’s stable at the beginning of the next turn. Vehicles, infantry, and battle armor need simply remain in the same hex through the physical phase. The new unit is swapped directly on the tabletop with the old one, being placed in the same hex but with any facing the player prefers.
Tag Markers count as one vehicle for stacking purposes. They may be inset into one of the walls in a cramped arena, such as Ishiyama, at which point non-Mech units need only spend the physical attacks phase adjacent to the marker to tag out in this case.

No Tag-backs: If the player has more than two usable units, a unit may not tag-out with the most recently-used unit.

Forced Withdrawal: A unit that has been subjected to Forced Withdrawal must retreat to a Tag Point; they may not retreat to their stable doors.

Destroyed and Surrendered Units: If a unit is destroyed, or surrenders on the field, the killing player gets one free Movement Phase. The player who lost the unit may then move its replacement onto the map from their Stable Door in the Movement Phase of the next turn.

Crowd Support: The usual rules for Crowd Support are in effect; players may not agree to ignore them for tag matches. In addition, track each player’s highest total support rating in each match. At the end of the tournament, the player who achieved the highest total score in any of the matches gets the “Viewer’s Choice” purse of 25,000 Cb per match in the tournament. You can also award Viewer’s Choice after each round in the tournament.
At the management’s option, in tournaments with more than two players you may also include a “Heel” award of 5-10,000 Cb for the player with the lowest Support Rating after each round or tournament.
Note that tagging out is NOT considered surrendering; in fact, the Crowd Support rating is increased by +1 on a successful tag, representing the crowd’s excitement to see a fresh warrior enter the battle.

Example: Emily has just finished a match in the Factory. Over the course of twenty turns, she scored mostly sixes and eights, but after a particularly spectacular kill in the twelfth round her total support rating went up to 14, before falling once again to average numbers. The GM notes down “Support: 14” next to her win on the ladder chart; this places her ahead of Mike, who got a 12 in a Jungle match in the previous round of the Tournament. Her lowest rating, a 5, doesn’t come close to Dennis’s low water mark of -3 (bad rolls, cockpit hits, and away crowds are unforgiving at times), so she’s still not in contention for the “heel” award. 

Optional Rule: If players successfully execute a “flashy” physical attack (DFA, Charge, pushing an opponent off the fourth floor of the Factory or cliff) they gain +2 Crowd Support instead of the usual +1.
 
Set Up:
The organizer places the Tag markers before the match begins. At least one should be in a concealed but difficult-to-reach location and one in a highly-visible spot; try to keep them roughly equidistant from each other. In the Steiner arena, you can also roll a d6 at the beginning of a round to see the squares in which Tag Points have popped up; there is a Tag Point on each of the related black numbers for the rest of the round. If combining this with pylons, rolling doubles means there are no tag points available, only pylons.
Place each of the Stable Door markers into two adjacent hexes on the edge of the map, spacing them out as far as possible. The Coliseum already has two stable doors; for three and four player matches, simply add two more on the far side of the map.

Each player writes down their chosen unit on a slip of paper, and then rolls initiative for the first turn. The chosen unit must enter the battlefield from the player’s Stable Doors. Play then proceeds as normal.
Stables have the option to surrender at any time after having one ‘Mech or vehicle destroyed, and must surrender if all their available units are currently subject to Forced Withdrawal. A Stable surrender is considered a loss for the round.

I’ve been on a Puzzle and Dragons/Fallout kick of late, plus doing a class in Seattle. Haven’t really had much traditional gaming-related stuff to say of late.

Went out to a concert last night with the wife and a couple of friends. Was okay, enjoyed myself. It was in a new local music venue/bar started by some neighbors.
We went mostly for the headliners, who came out of semi-retirement to play benefit concerts in Olympia and Seattle for a friend with cancer (incidentally, FUCK cancer).

Band 1 : Broken Water (local metally outfit)

Set was a little slow and poppy at first, but they broke into some excellent Doom metal and had a little jam session at the end.

Band 2: Man Date
A shitty protest-porn group. Had a ten-minute song about the WTO broadcasts, ended one song with a five-minute film of someone preaching at a pride parade. Not hard enough to be punk, but not competent enough to be anything else. We all left at some point during the set to have a drink and get some air and sorta didn’t come back for the rest of it.

Band 3: Earth
Oly boys, a Drone metal group that actually got some national recognition.

They haven’t toured in ages, so we were understandably excited. I was reading Narcosa for most of the concert. The band’s long, hypnotic fugues at brain-vibrating volumes worked quite well as a backdrop to the reading material (review later), along with the billowing clouds of cannabis wafting in through the windows from the alley outside. Surprised that there were only about a hundred folks there, but we all had a hell of a time. Ran into a guy with an Erol Otus day-glo Myconid shirt, spent some time talking about gaming and running games while high/while your players are high. Good times.

A Quick Update

Saw my first wild weasel yesterday. Looked to be a Washington Long-tail – beautiful cinnamon color, short tip on a very long tail, and almost no countershading.

Other than that I’ve spent the last three days repairing and prepping garb for the reenacting season. Pics later, although I have a bunch of WiP stuff up on my tumblr.
(Making a “new” hat, a camp knife, and a shirt, as well as repairing a pair of pants. Other projects to follow)

Still hashing out that NPC generator, trying to create a memorable system that rolls fast enough to make something at the table. Got it down to four throws, but I think I may be able to cut it down to two or three (and one, if you need someone right now).

For the nonce, however, I’m off to a family reunion in Oregon, and will be away until at least Tuesday. Remember to hoist a glass for the fallen on Monday, and maybe tell a few stories for Granddad…

“The Forgotten”, Session 5 (Actual Play, LotFP)

Had an entertaining, if startlingly combat-free, session this week. Brother #3 (the good Doctor) managed to get a real weekend off for the first time in a while, and brought his fiancee. She’s never played, but was interested. One of the other players couldn’t make it (due to work), so she got to be hung-over all session.

As an aside:
I’m not sure if the Savage class is mechanically more attractive than the others, if it fills a particular evocative need, or if I just wrote it well, but for some reason around a third of my players in the three campaigns and one-shot sessions I’ve run have taken them (the rest are basically Specialists – there are a total of 3 Fighters and one Cleric out of over 20 characters rolled).

Anyway, brother’s fiancee set about hammering out a Savage of her own – a Polynesian shark-cultist, lost in a storm during his rite of passage, and wandering the seas as a navigator looking for home.

Andrew Wyeth - "Gust of Wind" from "The Black Arrow"

YAR HAR FIDDLE DEE DEE~!

Where we left off:
Last session, Elizabeth discovered and purchased her father’s cabin boy in a slave market, deliberately concealing her reason by claiming him as an, ahem, “lady’s companion”. She quietly questioned him in the cabin about her father’s ship’s fate. He’d been thrown overboard from the Crow’s nest during a strangely-colored storm, and saved by a hunk of planking. The Corsairs picked him up and sold him out of Morocco, and he knew no more.

During the interview, the lookout and one of the PCs spotted a lion made of hellfire stalking along the coast towards the ship; they immediately weighed anchor and bailed for the Canaries. Three days out, they overtook a battle-in-progress between a Portugese carvel and a Corsair dhow. It was not going well for the merchants, who had been dismasted. There was a short argument amongst the crew about which flag to run up before they engaged, but eventually “French” won out. The Wind of Avarice‘s crew successfully sunk the pirate dhow, but blew up one of their own swivel guns with a misfire (mortally wounding a crew-man). The pirates had just enough momentum and position to ram and board; most of the Corsairs made it onto the carvel’s deck. The PCs closed and counter-boarded, sweping the pirates from her decks. Several misfires and an extremely successful Physic roll later, they recovered a half-dozen each of guns and blades, plus 8 prisoners, and saved two of their own crew as well as a mortally-wounded Portugese. For charity’s sake, they escorted the limping carvel back into her last port-of-call (their own destination as well), pulling in in the late afternoon.

The island’s governor begged off thanking the party and paying the bounty for the corsairs they had captured, citing “important business”. The Berbers were hauled off into the dock to await trial, and our “heroes” prepared to go get unrighteously pissed. Meanwhile, Sailing-master Michel set about finding materials for repairing the Wind‘s burst seams and mild hull damage from its repeated ramming adventures, and paying the ship’s tunnage taxes.

This session:
Conceding to the general mood, I fired up my Alestorm station on Pandora, because we’re well out of the territory for Berber music.
Also, apparently Alestorm has decided that they should do some Dimmu Borgir on the side (fast forward to 4:10 for the abrupt whiplash into full-on Swedish Death mode, then at 6:20 they’re back in Scottish Pirate, and shift off to power metal in the ~6:40 range..)

As we began play, Hernando’s player was slightly crestfallen when I pointed out that they hadn’t actually committed any acts of piracy per se – just sex trafficking, slave trading, smuggling, murder, fraud, grand larceny, sales by defraud, tampering with the fabric of Reality, more murder, providing aid and comfort to a fugitive, probable accessory to regicide, incitement to riot, arson, mayhem and maiming, torture, desecration, and espionage.
In five fucking sessions, I might add.
On the bright side, they don’t have any active governmental death-warrants yet, so there’s that.

Anywho, the party immediately decided to split up, which would have been a bad idea if my random encounter dice hadn’t had other ideas. Seriously, 12 rolls and no encounters? What the shit.

• Doctor Byron: CAROUSING TIME! He burned over 400sp, making a contact with the local “crimelord” and acquiring a dose each of purple, white, and crimson lotus, a bottle of something resembling habu-sake but with a frog inside, and a vial containing a sticky neon-orange oil (a curare extract). He was instructed not to take any of them in combination, and “don’t make any plans” for the day he used the frog-booze. He also picked up a useful rumor: there’s a pirate base somewhere to the North, and they should stay outa them waters if they don’t want a fight.
He passed out drunk in the rafters of the inn, there to stay the night.

• Hernando: Has been feeling increasingly itchy since he read a certain book during the Forgive Us run. He unpacked the Black Eagle, determined to use a combination of threats and a crowbar to extract magical knowledge from it (Bonus points for roleplaying a fighter with a tragically low Wisdom, I suppose). Unfortunately, after a badly-failed saving throw, he passed out; dreaming of a great black eagle with the face of a man ripping at the top of his skull, he took a couple points of Wisdom damage. Waking up, he wrapped it in an iron band, roped onto the steering-anchor, and hucked it into the harbor. This is clearly going to go well for him..
He awoke covered in fur, and spent most of the morning shaving.

• Brygytte: Got tanked, got into a pit-fight alongside Ol’ Roy, and won. Down 3 HP, up 300sp (mostly in jewelry and small coin). She came back to the ship shortly thereafter: during the fight, she’d heard rumors of mysterious stranglings each night in the town. All were known “trouble-makers”, but no-one on a ship or outside the town’s walls had been taken. No-one was sure who the culprit was, though all and sundry believed that deviltry was afoot *gesture to avert the Evil Eye*.

• Elizabeth: Tapped one of the remaining whiskey-tuns, leaving with a cask of whiskey, and bought a chicken. She asked one of the local urchins to take her to the “most respected grandmother” in town, but the urchin (blowing his reaction roll) decided to take her to the most-feared grandmother – Mama Odie’ – before fleeing. Mama was currently preparing to cast a divination for a strapping young Polynesian man; Elizabeth hailed him in (almost) his native tongue, and asked after his business. They chatted briefly while the houdoun did her thang, coming up with the prophecy “Travel with this woman, and you shall find your long-sought home“.
Elizabeth then made offerings to Mama for guidance; one set of boxcars later (given her CHR and gift modifiers, it was more like a 15..), and after providing the priestess with a “thing of him” – E’s father’s diary – she began casting the ritual again.

Seek the Violet sky.
Offer the sky a fish, and a bird to the sea.
Lay eyes on no man
for a night and a day.
The place you seek you soon shall see

The business transacted, Mama Odie proceeded to get roaring drunk, offering Elizabeth an interestingly-filgreed skull, which she claimed was a trapped spell (a scroll of Palsied Affect). Elizabeth returned home at a “seemly” hour, and slept the sleep of the non-damned.

• Two sailors disappeared during the night.

Re-united in the morning (well, other than Byron’s drunk rafter-sleeping ass), the PCs discussed their next course of action. Hernando, Brygitte, and the silent Polynesian grabbed a few samples of the furniture they’d jacked from the thieves’ guild in Tangiers, looking to sell it off at the sugar plantation outside town. On the way, Byron noticed that the workers appeared to be restive – bunching into small groups, working very slowly, and talking amongst themselves a bit much.
After being rudely rebuffed by the butler (“We don’t accept *sniff* peddlers here, sirs”), they managed to hail the young bounder in charge from the yard. Following another very positive reaction, he offered to buy their furniture and whiskey, and sell them un-processed cane at a very favorable rate – provided these charming adventurers gave him their tales. Cue in-character exposition to get brother’s fiancee up to speed… “Alonso”, the given name of the young master, seemed particularly interested in their harrowing and almost completely false account of their escape from  Marseilles (which also omitted their wizardly encounters in that city, and the other magic items they’d acquired).
Byron recognized the gentleman as being an agent of the Queen of France, in this Portugese port, and offered to discuss “personal matters” with him in French. After the PCs alerted him to the brewing unrest, he requested that they take a letter to his “associate” Bernardo Larriva, in a small tower on the northwest of the town.
Brygitte and the Polynesian returned to the ship to organize a working-party, quietly preparing the ship for action under cover of unloading the cargo.

Bernardo turned out to be a ferrety, whispering man with sharp white streaks in his red hair and many dueling scars – including a ragged slash across his throat. He accepted the letter and informed the PCs that they’d “know when he needed them”. He also passed a successful Sleight of Hand roll…

The night passed rather uneventfully, though one of the lookouts sighted three black sails coming from the Northeast, which slipped around a headland in the early morning.

Items of business:
• The governor is probably butthurt about several minor diplomatic insults.
• Slave revolts gonna slave revolt.
• The ship’s crew is perilously short of extra hands, and she still needs to finish her repairs before leaving “civilization” (such as it is).

GM tracking info. Feel free to disregard.
Price index:
Rum, other alcohol up 20%. Food down 10%. Luxury clothing down 12%. Luxury furniture up 10+%. Others as Rural or rolled as necessary.

Ship’s armory (not including PC weaponry):
2 swivel guns, 8 breeches (requires 10 shots’ worth of powder per shot)
1 light cannon, with 20 balls (requires 25 shots’ worth of powder per shot)
3 linstocks
9 50-shot casks of gunpowder, plus 30 shot’s worth in an opened cask
Four-stone-and-five of lead
10 match-lock calivers and muskets (all loaded and prepped)
2 flintlock pistols
100 feet of match-cord

Current haul/cargo status:
~50gp worth of silk clothing, packed in chests (250 silver shillings) (smuggling hold)
20t of unprocessed sugar-cane (20 gp/1000sp)
1t of grain and biscuit (1gp/50sp)
1 tapped tun of fine whiskey (smuggling hold)
1 untapped Tun of rum
4 bottles of good French wine (sent as a “tip” by “Alonso”)

1 curious eikon of Solomon, adorned in Arabic characters.
1 magic bird, who is apparently a giant asshole.
1 sheaf of extremely incriminating blackmail papers on assorted Tangierines
1 sheaf of accounting records for the Tangierine theives’ guild.
3 charts of assorted clarity and value; one appears to be a treasure map pointing to a location to the NW of the island they’re currently docked at.

Coffers:
70 pieces of gold (3500 sp)

Crew (current, reflecting casualties and roster changes):
Captain Hernando Velasques
Doctor Wm. Byron
Quartermistress Lady Elizabeth
Sailing-Master Michel St.-Jourdain (NPC, 2nd-level Specialist with 5d in Sailing-craft, 3d in Languages)
L’t. of Marines Brygitte Benoit (Henchman)
Cabin Boys Ol’ Roy and William Holt (official position: Catamite to ship’s quartermistress)
Marines – 1 1st-level Specialist, 1 1st-level Savage (both currently unnamed ><)
Sailors – 19 able-bodied,
Civilians – Malika bint-Gifar (wife of Hernando, NPC, 0-level Specialist)

A Sample Mage, using my generator from earlier (LotFP, NPCs, Spoilers)

Spoilers for my players under the jump. Plz to go away, thank you.

Beardsley-peacockskirt

So, this is one of the mages I made for last week’s session, using that generator from the last post plus some of the other stuff I’m working on..
Read the full post »

Tables for Creating Low-Level Wizards & Other Fools who Would Tamper With the Skeins of Fate (LotFP/D&D).

Harry Clarke - The Snow Queen

Harry Clarke – The Snow Queen

In addition to my generators on Last Gasp (Wizardly Schools and First level Spells for LotFP wizards), I’ve been working on a full NPC speed-generator for mages, to go with a more general NPC supplement I’m writing. I used it last week for generating a couple towns and their conflicting magical populations. I’m retaining copyright on this one, mostly because I’m hoping to publish – but with a creative-commons attribution non-commercial license if ya want to use it.

Here’s the current draft document:
So, if you don’t know if this town is the kind of place that attracts Reality Warpers, roll on the first table. If you already know who’s there, or you’re just generating an NPC, skip the first table. If you don’t know their level, roll 1d6 at the end, adding mentor/school modifiers

———————————
Is there a wizard?
  (Roll 1d8, +2 if in a thaumocracy, +1 if inside a city (5000+ citizens). Note that these modifiers are cumulative. In a large city, roll once  for each major ward or district)
———————————

  1. No
  2. No
  3. Hedge-mage/shaman/goodwife of power
  4. Hedge-mage &c.
  5. A Magic-user
  6. A Magic-user
  7. A Wizard (see “Seclusium of Orphone” and “Isle of the Unknown” for more information on the distinction between Wizards and Magic-users. Loosely, “Magic-users” use magic, “Wizards” ARE magic)
  8. Several of them (1d3 to 1d6, at your discretion)

———————————
Are they part of a cabal?
———————————

  1. Yes. Several of them. Someone’s going to be in trouble soon… (roll twice on the table, taking both results. Keep rolling if you keep getting ones..)
  2. Yes, and the cabal has powerful rivals; they’re in an active turf war
  3. A secular secret society, not limited to Magi
  4. Yes, and it’s (roll 1d6): 1-3 – riven by internal conflict, 4-6 – stable – for now. Magi being what they are, of course, they’re still jockeying quietly for advantage.
  5. Yes, and this mage is in charge (+1 level, may have missions for or claims upon a PC mage)
  6. No, but they have a rival with whom they are as friendly as wizards get.
  7. No, and they have a rival who’s a powerful enemy
  8. No, and they’ve pissed off a cabal or society
  9. No, and they’re at war with another independent
  10. No, and they were cast out of one
  11. No, and they’re in a position of public power (secular or religious)
  12. No, and they’re hiding from one (other than the Church)

———————————
How did they learn their skills?

———————————
(Roll 1d10 for Magi in rural or heavily chaos-tainted areas, roll 1d20 for cities or larger, add +1 if there’s a major thaumocracy or city in the area. Roll 1d6+2 for Wizards.)

  1. Raised in a local tradition (themed spell list, little ambition, but unlikely to be set afire. Roll 1d6 – on a 1-4, ignore the “why aren’t they on fire” table, and treat as “locals approve” )
  2. Local Tradition (as 1, above)
  3. They’re self-taught (all spells rolled randomly, seeks magical information and knowledge more aggressively, lower a level)
  4. Self-taught, (As 3, above. If a wizard, he was created by an Item of Power)
  5. Pacts and Infernal contracts (Must bargain a thing of supernatural value to learn further spells. Constantly looking for ways to pay that don’t hurt themselves.)
  6. Feyblooded (no iron in their home, despises gulls, gets a +2 on all rolls to learn spells, but can’t roll again. Ever.)
  7. Possessed (Uses demonic abilities, cannot learn new spells. Turning has a chance of removing the demon)
  8. Plasmically conceived (Learns spells instinctively; cut research times in half, but gains no benefit from a library.)
  9. They had a mentor (roll on the Mentor table, gains some free magical nexus or trinket as a gift)
  10. As 9, above
  11. They killed their mentor (roll on mentor table, gains 1d3 nexii/trinkets, add a level)
  12. Their mentor was killed by a rival (gains an enemy)
  13. They escaped their mentor (may be hunted – roll on Relationship table)
  14. They mentor another wizard (+2 levels. Roll another wizard, skipping this table, of level 1d3; roll for the student on “mentor” and “mentor relationship” tables)
  15. As 14, above
  16. Poached from their mentor by another wizard or school
  17. Tutored in a school or cabal, and they were expelled
  18. School/Cabal, still in tutelage (-1d3 levels)
  19. School/Cabal, still in tutelage (-1d3 levels)
  20. School/Cabal, graduate
  21. School/Cabal, graduate
  22. Yes, and they’re in charge (+1d3 levels)

———————————
Mentor sub-table
———————————

  1. Mentor was kind, but incompetent (-1 level, minor magical trinket or tool)
  2. Mentor was kind and competent (+1 level, minor trinket/tool)
  3. Mentor grew bored and cast them out (-1 level)
  4. Mentor was ruthless and cruel, but competent (+1 level, gain a spell of cursing)
  5. Mentor was ruthless and cruel, but incompetent (-1 level)
  6. Still under tutelage (-1 level)
  7. Actively plotting to kill or usurp mentor. May attempt to enlist PC aid.
  8. Tried to kill, but failed (Under a curse, seeking to lift)

———————————
Relationship with mentor?
———————————

  1. Respect, genuine
  2. Respect, grudging
  3. Raw hatred
  4. Subtle hatred
  5. Resentment
  6. Fear (even if he’s dead. ESPECIALLY if he’s dead)
  7. Lovers, or similar physical/metaphysical desires. (Roll again on the table to find the mentor’s opinion on the matter..)
  8. Fondness
  9. Condescension
  10. Apathy
  11. Curiosity (“where are they?”, “are there secrets they didn’t teach me?”, etc.)
  12. Mentor or student is unwillingly enspelled (Roll 1d6: 1-4 – student, 5-6, mentor)

———————————
Why isn’t the mage on fire?

———————————
(In a Thaumocracy, roll 1d12 – this is how they’re maintaining their own power against their rivals.)

  1. Political favors/blackmail (to include providing black magic services, enchantments, or implicating the “patron” in their own crimes)
  2. Stealth and concealment of powers
  3. Vulgar displays of power (raw fear. This wizard probably isn’t long for the Mortal Coil)
  4. Subtle displays of power (targeted curses, illusionary omens, &c)
  5. Has ensorcelled locals (strategic charm spells, keeps them under threat of a death-curse, etc)
  6. Has ensorcelled major official or patron
  7. Wizard is laying low, hiding from a warrant, rival, or lynch mob in a nearby place
  8. Kills all inquisitors and challengers, subtly
  9. Kills inquisitors and challengers, extremely unsubtly
  10. Powerful magical defenses (Sanctum, magical traps, summoned creatures, extradimensional bolthole, etc.)
  11. Powerful mundane defenses (Bodyguards, army, traps, fortified home)
  12. Political power (Wizard uses an official position as cover, or is shielded by a powerful patron)
  13. Owns or provides an indispensable service (widespread blackmail, providing protection against a greater threat than himself)
  14. Stealth and concealment of powers
  15. Locals know there’s a wizard, and they’re trying to find him (Adventure hook!)
  16. Locals don’t care, government cares (this can change rather abruptly depending on the wizard’s behavior or omens, plagues &c.)
  17. Locals disapprove, government doesn’t give a damn  – and is suppressing witch-hunts (Locals may attempt to hire PCs to assassinate)
  18. Local citizens are down with witchcraft, government does not approve (Locals will be actively obstructive)
  19. Citizens and government approve of witchcraft (Possibly on the way to a thaumocracy?)
  20. Lies (roll again on this table)

Robotech RPG Tactics, Wave I – Part III (It’s Destroid Time, With Your Friend, the Defender)

Finally, we get into the home stretch of my Wave I reviews. The Destroids are the models I bought the most of, for various battletech reasons.

Edit: Palladium Books has released updated assembly instructions for the Defender (and other units), which you can find on DrivethruRPG (here) for free.
Previous Posts: Part I, Part II
Next Posts:
I started a great photo-set with my sprues of Defenders months ago. I just burned out on dealing with the damned things when I started my first Phalanx. Wound up throwing the entire mess of Destroids into a box for a couple of months in sheer frustration. To be frank, I was getting pissed just looking at the models. That’s a very bad place to be as a reviewer, and a worse one as a hobbyist. So, yeah.

That’s really about half the review right there.
`
Generally speaking, the Destroid models are more poseable than the Valkyries or Glaug. There’s also no less Procrustean modeling, so you aren’t specifically forced to keep half the weapons in a fixed position. The joint layout makes magnetizing the arms and weapons very easy, which means you can even repose during a game if you want.
Unfortunately, they’ve also got insanely high part counts, with unsightly seams everywhere on most of the models. And, though the feet on the Defender, Tomahawk, and Phalanx are essentially identical, each sprue uses a slightly different and incompatible connection method for the ankle joint, reducing your posing options.

We’ll start off with the Defenders, because I actually have a full photoshoot prepped and ready to go (and I don’t want to keep this series on hold for the week (good Lord I was naive there) or more that prepping the other three will take)


Defender:


 

Defender Sprue obverse

Click to embiggen for assembly notes

Reverse of sprue, showing arm keying.

Reverse of sprue, showing arm keying.

Issues:
Three of the four legs are missing at least one detail. Only one is complete. In addition, two of the legs have gates on top of surface detail. You’d think, with the amount of copy-pasting going on elsewhere, that the legs would at least be identical..

Note that the leg on the right has only two strips, while the left side has four. Another is completely missing this detail, and a third has it damaged by a gate AND is missing the vent details on the side

Note that the leg on the right has only two strips, while the left side has four.
Another is completely missing this detail, and a third has it damaged by a gate AND is missing the vent details on the side

The body is a five-part model. It has several ugly, prominent seams that must be cleaned or filled, and leave noticeable gaps in the finished model. The searchlights on my models were also miscast, with mold lines and underflow on all four side torsos.

Gapping in the torso, hips, and arms

Gapping in the torso, hips, and arms. Torso searchlight miscasts.

The guns have extremely thin barrels, making extracting them without damage very difficult. Cut the bases of the gun first with clippers, then slowly cut off the barrels with a very sharp knife or saw. Preferably, add some padding behind them.
The connecting peg on the hips is wider than the hole in the torso, and must be carefully filed down to allow the model to mate properly.
The hip joint mounts on the legs force them into very specific angles, but can be easily (if carefully) modified to allow other positions.
There is no mounting point for a Command Destroid modification on the Defender, and the only position in which it “fits” interferes with both the arm placement and the radar sail. I have a functioning conversion that involves cutting down the piece into three parts and re-mounting them in the radar sail area.

Conversion prep instructions and diagram

Conversion prep instructions and diagram

Once the parts are cut, you can mount the search radar on the side of one of the ammo bins, or up over the shoulder/gun area. I cut off the top of the right-hand bin and hard-mounted it to the torso, however, and I think it came out pretty well.
Flip around the comms package, and cut it to fit the normal radar sail mount. It won’t take too much effort, and it looks pretty good up there.

The finished product

The finished product

Good Points:
The hard, flexible plastic makes the slender guns and radar blade surprisingly resilient once they’re off the sprue. The Defender’s posing is much more flexible than most of the other models in the line. There are points of articulation at the arms, legs, radar, and torso angle – all tweakable with minimum effort.

Number of Components
:

Twenty. Body is six parts alone, the legs and arms are three each, and the hips are two-parters.

Assembly Time:
Prep cutting took 15 minutes, not counting the time required to pin and re-glue an o.7mm gun barrel. Torso and hips took about 8 minutes to green-stuff and align, including filing and prefits. Overall, the two models took about 40 minutes to assemble, plus 8 hours of Green Stuff drying time. With a sharp, very slender pair of diagonal cutters the pair would probably take ~30 minutes.

 

Vigilante One, reporting for duty!

Vigilante One, reporting for duty!

Lusus Naturae (Review, LotFP)

Three years ago today, I opened this nerdy little candy stand, averaging a post every five days. Cool.
Let’s celebrate by getting into Lusus Naturae, the first explicit (and boy is it..) Lamentations of the Flame Princess “monster manual”. It’s written by Rafael Chandler, best known in my circles for the Teratic Tome (a universal monster book that just leans heavily on LotFP). It’s serviceably, and occasionally beautifully, illustrated by Gennifer Bone. You can find the pdf here (link) for fifteen bucks. Print version’s expected soonish, but it needs to get shipped from Finland.

So, first, some pontificating, so you know where I’m coming from.
I define “Horror” as “The fear of impending, but uncertain violation”. The violation can be of your body, mind, or assumptions about the structure of the world (psyche?). The uncertainty isn’t just if it will happen, but also when, how, and in what manner. An important part of horror is that you feel, on some level, deprived of agency – usually by biological reactions or simply the apparent futility of action. To defeat it, you must reassert your ability not just to act, but act meaningfully.
Roleplaying games are celebrations of agency; therefore, you’ve got to balance seeming helplessness with the possibility of success. Mystery helps (adding uncertainty), as does things that screw with the rules of the game (see: assumptions about the structure of the world). Players should know that the characters can die, or be horribly affected. On the other hand, only shitty authors coughFatalcough see “violation” and think “RAPE ALL DAY EVERYDAY”. Parasites, mutation, loss of control over personal space, having secrets wrested from you.. all are unpleasant and (properly played) horrifying outcomes.
Lusus Naturae is one of the better horror gaming aids I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t need a Sanity mechanic to make the players start screaming and setting each other on fire..

Synopsis:
What it ain’t: This isn’t meant to be “all the monsters” for a campaign. It’s not really a source for wandering monsters, either – though a couple things would certainly be appropriate.
What it does: Adds/adapts a treasure system to Lamentations. Contains an assortment of horrifying, modular mini-Mythosoi with accompanying additions to to your campaign world. Fucks with players.

What’s it about?
Lusus Naturae is basically a dozen metal album covers made into a book. There are some truly Lovecraftian enemies that will alter your campaign world if they show up. The treasure and magic items are highly-portable, and several are quite interesting. You can use at least a couple things in the book at almost any level of play, and you can challenge a low-level party without instantly reducing them to a fine red mist (the main problem with the critters from the MMII, the Fiend Folio, and the assorted “Deities” books in 1e).
It’s also deliberately, sometimes extremely, offensive – and on pretty much every possible level. There was shit in there that skeeved me out, and I used to work as a search engine tester. Many things in the book alter or rewrite the rules; you have to pay attention while using it.

What’s new about it?:
There are several innovations I like, and some I’ve already incorporated into my own campaign. Specifically, several of the summoned monsters have ill omens or Harbingers associated with their appearance. I’m adding them onto the “Omens” section of my random encounter tables.
I’ve also spoken about Death Curses and Desecration penalties elsewhere. I think they’re an excellent, thematic way of adding a little unpredictability to the game. I’ll post more on my current mechanics later. That said, Chandler has expanded on the classic idea to include boons/banes/weird magical things that happen to the person who strikes a killing blow against some of the monsters. These range from small mechanical bonuses or maluses, to extremely specific magical abilities or information and tools. Not every monster has them, but they have an appropriate fairy-tale feel to them.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10
If you’re into horror, the book is almost certainly worth it. If you or your players are easily squicked, or you demand “SUPER SRS, ALL THE TIME” games, it’s not for you. It’s not quite as pretty as the usual Lamentations release, but it’s just as usable as any other.

Detailed breakdown after the jump.
Read the full post »

Just got Lusus Naturae (LotFP)

I backed this a year and change ago on Kickstarter. The pdfs just went live on Drivethru RPG for fifteen bucks. Review forthcoming as I read – watch this space for more.

In penance for my sin of crass hyping, please enjoy this perspective map of mid 17th-century Paris.map - 1600s - Paris

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