Familiar rules [LotFP, Archive]

Find Familiar is not a spell per se. Rather, “researching the spell” represents the Mage gathering the lore and equipment required to bind an animal or spirit to their service. Nor is it cast, crudely, as a lure to the waiting fish of the void (for there are far too many sharks, and worse, in those Plasmic waters), but taken on as a spiritual journey and investment. Though most Magi would be loath to admit it, Familiars also provide companionship upon their lonely road to power; more importantly, they provide subservient and reliable companionship, an extension of themselves. Even Clerics will sometimes accept the aid of a friendly or at least allied servant of their Gods. Remember, though –  the price of service may differ in detail, but it is equally terrifying for the servants of Angels as of Demons..

As bound spirits, Familiars cannot be Dispelled, though they can be Turned and in some cases Banished. They are hedged out by appropriate warding magics.

Natural Familiars
Natural creatures are the easiest to bind, and the most common associates of Magi of all waters. They also excite less comment among the uncultured, should the Mage still be forced to hide their powers from the jealous and frightened. A Natural Familiar is created by binding a combination of the Mage’s own Plasmic energy and other latent power to the beast, and is always a draining and deeply unpleasant process for the Mage. Treat the entire process as Researching a 1st-level spell, with the final sacrifices and costs coming only after the ritual is complete. The wizard will be completely exhausted and require a full day of rest when the ritual is completed.
Any sacrifices made to create a Natural Familiar are permanent. Even after its death, barring exceptionally powerful healing magics or extensive and deeply unsavory spell research, the wizard’s gifts are not returned.

The animal gains the following benefits
• 1 HP for each permanent HP the Mage invests in it during the soul-binding rituals. Its natural life is also extended by 1 year for each HP so invested; the DM may also allow the caster to pledge some of his own life force (years of life, HP, stat points, etc.) to the Familiar at an appropriate ration for more HP/Life.
• It may use the Mage’s saving throws whenever applicable. Further, when in the Mage’s presence, any Magic Missiles or similar spells targeted at the familiar will normally strike the Mage instead.
• It may speak freely with the Mage in its own tongue, and be understood. If given a point in Languages, it may also converse in one Human language with others, and possibly even learn other languages depending on its Intelligence. A familiar with Intelligence 14 or more is literate, though writing may be somewhat difficult. All animals may furthermore speak with any others of their kind (cats with wildcats or lions, ferrets with martens and weasels, etc), but do not convey this ability to their masters without further research.
• Most other animals will treat with the Familiar deferently, or at least with appropriate condescension. It gains a permanent 1-point bonus on Reaction rolls from natural animals.
• At the DM’s option, the Magos may make a further appropriate sacrifice of Life Force, magic items, bound Plasms (spell slots) or other resources to grant the Familiar additional skills and abilities. For example, the Wizard with Spider Climb might sacrifice a spell slot to give his familiar the ability to walk on walls and ceilings.

The Mage benefits thusly:
• Speak with, and understand, his Familiar.
• The information and additional insight provided by their presence subtracts 10% from the cost of any magical research and item creation; the Familiar also acts as a “gopher” during the process, retrieving needed tools or bearing messages to those outside the laboratories as desired.
• A bonus point in a single appropriate skill possessed by his Familiar.

Finally, both the wizard and his familiar are marked out from others by their association with each other.
• During the Familiar’s creation, the player must choose one or more features that the Magus and Familiar share. This could include anything from birthmarks and sigils, to similar physical and behavioral features. Each time the caster and Familiar level up, add an additional characteristic to this list.
• They will have an identical plasmic aura to anyone using the Second Sight (Detect Magic, True Seeing, and similar spells or magic items).
• At higher levels, the Mage may perform additional research and rituals to give or share further power with their familiar. Common abilities bestowed include limited shape-shifting, seeing through the Familiar’s eyes at-will, use as a “plasmic battery”, greater facility in speech and new skills, or even human form and spellcasting ability. The process is half as expensive and time-consuming if the Mage knows a related spell (Speak Unto Beasts, for example, would facilitate learning the Speech of All Cats from one’s Familiar.)
• If using the DCC Corruption/Taint rules, or the Maleficar and similar classes, both the Mage and the Familiar may be marked more explicitly in any case where the Familiar is present and participating in the Mage’s spellcasting.

Homunculi
Developed more fully later; I’m poking at the stuff in England Upturn’d as I have time, but so far none of my players wants a Homunculus.

Other Supernatural Familiars
Imps, Gremlins, some lesser Undead, and other Plasmic beasties may desire to form pacts with the Magos; not all will become Familiars, however.  Treat normal pacted entities as a Retainer or Henchman for loyalty purposes, though they almost always require remunerations more.. esoteric than mere gold and specie. Likewise, their housing and feeding requirements are more exotic than most employees. Payments are usually given on Samhain or All Soul’s Eve and Walpurgisnacht as part of a larger ceremony.
Becoming a Familiar requires forging a direct link between the souls of the Plasmic entity and the Wizard. In addition to the sould-binding rituals, the DM and player should negotiate a contract for the creature’s service and enumerate its powers. Its loyalty is affected as a Henchman or other “demi-PC” character accompanying the party. Most will (again) have goals other than a simple share in the treasure the party collects – esoteric materials, information, or seemingly-insignificant acts at requested times. Failing to meet these requests will enrage and potentially even free the Familiar, but the party as a whole is under no more obligation to meet them than they would be any other Henchman’s demands.
In general, a Supernatural familiar will be in a more adversarial relationship with the wizard and his party, but also much more powerful than a plasmically-enhanced natural beast. Dismissing a contract without prejudice will usually return the life force the Mage invested, but good luck getting it back if you broke it. Familiars themselves cannot break the word of a contract but will, of course, twist it depending on their personal goals and general cussedness.

Common points of contracts include:
• Bonuses to Summoning spells and control rolls (especially in the service of the Familiar’s interests)
• Use of the Familiar’s powers at a negotiated price, or amplification of its powers through the sacrifice of spell levels/Stat points by the Magos. Familiars almost never allow themselves to be “used” freely, but will rarely pass up the chance for a little more profit..
• Many supernatural familiars will have knowledge of tongues other than the Magos’. They may wish to negotiate for its skill; woe betide the wizard who blindly trusts a servant of the Father of Lies, however.
• Access to a bonus spell, usually limited shapeshifting or illusion magics.
• Listed punishments for violating the minor terms of the agreement, usually taken as oaths. These will have >very< visible effects.

Frostgrave: The beginning – Dark Alchemy [actual play, mini-review]

Most of my posting’s been confined to Tumblr of late, but the blog deserves more attention than I’ve been giving it. Just haven’t been doing much gaming stuff since the Holidays.

I have, however, been horsing around with some Egyptian terrain and minis for a LONG-ass time, but never really got around to doing anything about it. I’ll post more images later on that score. In March the Frostgrave bug hit me and the 50-foot Lesbian at about the same time. Last Saturday we got our first practice games in; we both made quickie solo runs through all three levels of Dark Alchemy. We’re currently using soldier options from all of the books, but I haven’t had a chance to pick up Breeding Pits yet. She’s dyslexic, so part of the delay has been in converting all the text from the game books and tables into a printable, DL-friendly font and format. I personally recommend the open-source Dyslexie, which she says works “amazingly”.

My own warband is based on the excellent line of war-nuns from Reaper Minis (most from the ass-tastic desks of Werner Klocke and Bobby Jackson). I originally bought them for Mordheim but all three of the groups I put together managed to dissolve before dice ever hit table. Such is Gamer ADD..

The Band

In the main group, from L-R, back-front, we have:
Javelineer/Peltast (from Thaw of the Lich Lord) – Javelins are a nice, cheap missile option, especially important since it’s hard to find missile-equipped nun models. You can get away with using them for pretty much any spearmen you have lying around, too – which is great if you’re using leftover historical minis instead of purpose-built fantasy stuff.
Infantry-woman
Inquisitrix (based on Bob Ridolfi’s “Veronica Duskraven”) – a Sellsword Mercenary Captain. Bonuses: Movement and Shoot, Hand Weapon, Dagger, Crossbow, Coup-de-Grace and Leadership
Thief (Ral Partha Assassin with a new dagger made from plasticard) This guy used to be one of my PC models, so he’s been rotting in the bitz box since.. well, since Ral Partha was still a company that sold miniatures.
Nun-at-arms. Her shield is converted from a Pirates of the Spanish Main coin token, with paper reinforcements and wood texture scored into the surface. The hammer is all filed plasticard and paperclip, although it broke in-play and I need to pin it again.
Nun-at-arms. For this one I filed down her ridiculous little cestus and dropped a Hoplite round-shield on top.
2 Wardogs (old 3e Elven Hounds from Games Workshop)
Leader – Thaumaturge (The old Mordheim Sigmarite special character, whom I’ve used in the past as a priest in my Sisters of Battle armies). Hand-weapon, dagger, and a lot of support spells Beauty, Heal, Miraculous Cure, Dispel, Write Scroll, Brew Potion, Reveal Secret, and Planar Tear, which has wound up being one of my most useful choices to date.
In the background are some of the minis I’m making into “statues” (mostly oversized ~35mm figures), and on the right are the backups for later gameplay. I have a Templar, some angels (in case I pick up summoning spells..), another infantrywoman, a couple Pack Mules/Thugs, and my future Apprentice (Friar Stone)
The basic idea is to send the Captain in with a squad of faster minis (dogs and the Thief) to wolfpack heavier targets, while my Wizard slings Beauty and support spells onto the Nuns-at-arms for treasure-hauling purposes. The band-size limits in Dark Alchemy, not to mention the way all enemies are Constructs, Beasts, or Undead, is going to hamper the Hell out of my strategy for now, but what kind of wargamer doesn’t like a challenge? :P

My opponent has chosen an amusing evil wizard model (Orcish Witch Doctor) and a SHIT-TON of Aztec goblins, plus a few LotR Orcs I traded her out of my bitz bin. She successfully pulled an Animal Companion, so I’m loaning her a Utahraptor model I had lying around to use as a Snow Leopard. I.. kinda love how fucking gonzo Frostgrave lets you get when building warbands, and I’m really looking forward to the Sinbad/Pirates/East India thingy they’re putting out in September.

The games went quickly, and even with the half-finished terrain they looked pretty darned good. The first scenario is extremely easy as long as you just immediately dogpile the Abomination. If you try to sneak around it’ll peck you to death, but 14 HP just isn’t enough once a Wizard with +6 from her buddies starts swinging her hammers on it. As soon as it’s gone, the whole game is basically “send one person to fuck up the rats and a dog off to open the door”
The second fight was interesting, with the random skellie (or in this case, Mummy) placement making things get hairy fast. My wizard got slowed down by casting and then dogpiled by a sudden swarm of mobs that appeared right next to her, pecked to death by flames/scarabs. Generally, though things like Dimensional Rift’s small but almost-guaranteed damage are more than enough to handle packs of mummies. Grenade and Explosive Cocktails (both of which the Goblins had in abundance) also see them off quickly.
That third scenario is a beast, though; both of us escaped with only a single model, though she got her wizard off and I only managed to get my Captain out.  To fit the Egyptian-fantasy setting we made a couple fluff changes. The Fire-slingers became Mummy Queens and small animated statues of various gods summoning scarab swarms (c.f. the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies), and the flame areas were likewise swapped for Beetle Swarms.

Overall, Dark Alchemy was a hell of a lot of fun. We both walked out with a couple hundred GP, no deaths, 7-8 levels on the Wizards, and a nice assortment of Magic Items (she got a Hand Weapon+1,  Ring +1 and Staff of Power +3, plus a Grimoire and 6 potions: I got less cash and only 1 Grimoire but 14 potions.) She selected a Treasure Vault as her home base, and I went for a Temple.
Once I get some more GC together to buy a Roost, I have an excellent Falconer miniature and some cool eagle models that I’ll be using as Blood Crows instead of the dogs. The lack of missile support really hurt me in scenario 3, and my Crossbow captain made the lion’s share of my kills. I’ll be adding a bow to one of my two-weapon leftover nuns at some point to make a Ranger, or possibly converting one of my backup Sci-fi models with a crossbow or arquebus to get a Marskwoman. I’m worried about those rings and staves; in the last game I bumped up my wizard’s Dispel skill but with what she can do using Enchant Weapon I’m not pleased..

Current state of the warband:
Base: Temple (of course)
Level 8 Thaumaturge – added Circle of Protection, levelled Health (+1), improved Planar Tear (x2), Write Scroll (x1), Heal (x2), Brew Potion (x1), Dispel (x1)
Apprentice w/ Staff and a crapload of very nasty potions
Level 3 Captain, now with Sprint and boosted Shoot (x2).
2 Nuns-at-arms
2 Warhounds
Thief (will be replacing with a Ranger/Markswoman shortly)
Infantrywomen
Peltast/Javelineer

Model Review: 1:288 (6mm) Eastern Express Antonov AN-71 “Madcap” AWACS

Summary:
The EE Antonov AN-71 is a fun, quick little build that will look fine as a gaming piece. Probably not the best overall choice for a “serious” micro-mini modeler, who will be screaming and flinging it out the window within minutes. 1:288/6mm scale makes it compatible with quite a few wargames, including Micro Armor, Fistful of TOWs, Battletech, and Robotech RPG Tactics. The limited historical deployment of this particular aircraft will hurt its utility for historical gamers, but other models in the series would likely serve them much better.
For Robotech Tactics modelers, the AN-71 is also an excellent base for an alternate version of the ES-11D “Cat’s Eye” recon – one of the guys on the Robotech Tactics Facebook group did up a conversion you can see here if you’re a group member.

Background:
First off – a little history. In 1984-ish, the Antonov company put together a bid for a new AWACS version of the AN-72 light transport airframe (NATO callsign “COALER”). It was intended to vector in ground-attack forces at the tactical level (taking the load off of the larger “MAINSTAY” and “MOSS”, which were busy handling strategic responses and combat air patrol), while taking advantage of the AN-72 airframe’s ability to make use of short, poor-quality runways and improvised airfields. While loosely equivalent to the role of an E2-C Hawkeye in USN service, the AN-71 was supposed to be a land-based design (the naval role was supposed to be taken by the Yakolev YAK-44, which never surfaced).  NATO assigned the bird the reporting name “MADCAP” after its first flight in 1985. Unfortunately, the USSR only ever made three AN-71 airframes before the economic collapses of 1986-88 killed the program. One of those three prototypes was shipped off to the Ukraine for their new Air and Space museum while they were in the process of seceding from the SSSR, which is why this particular model was originally Ukraininan.The Eastern Express company put out a series of models based on the Museum’s holdings, all nominally in 1:288 scale. Toko seems to have put out a version of the series as well, and you can find a box in the US from Imex (I got mine on the ‘bay for $4, so always check your supplier..)

The AN-71 herself is pretty unique – a STOL design that uses engine exhaust to increase lift over the wings. Unfortunately this design, while efficient, tends to be damned noisy for the poor saps inside the cargo bay, but hey. Whatcha gonna do? *(cancel it if you’re Boeing, of course. Keep using it for fifty-plus years if you’re a Russkie..)

Surviving AN-71 on display in the Ukraine

The Good: Simple, clean instructions. Good decals, although I have no need for them. Generally decent fit and polish on the kit.
The Bad: Lots and lots of flash on frame “A”. It cleaned up well after a quick pass with an emery board. Some gates on detail elements distorted the radome and tail. Shallow detail cuts had to be sharpened.
The Ugly: Does not include any parts to make closed landing gear bays. The engine mounting surfaces were poorly-designed, and the wing overall required a lot of work to mount.
Full model build/review under the cut. My apologies for the poor quality of a couple of the images -I plead being sick as hell and having a shit phone.

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Updated Physic rules, Seamanship [LotFP Skills]

So, I’ve got a fire under my ass (for the moment) and I’m re-upping the now four-year-old rules for my homebrew LotFP skills.
And before you get started on why Clerics get this, remember:
Knights Hospitallier.

tumblr_npymbe574w1r4w8k5o1_1280

Physic:
“Physic is a shorthand for all the healing arts; diagnosing and correcting imbalances in the humors, knowledge of healing herbs, of staunching and stitching, fitting artificial limbs, and all things appropriate to the station of a doctor. ”

As a starting skill
Clerics may start with Physic at a base chance of 3 in 6, and advance as a Dwarf’s Architecture skill. Other classes may exchange their starting skill for a 2-in-6 chance at Physic, and advance as an Elf’s Search skill. All classes begin with 1 point in Physic.

Uses
1) All characters with Physic may attempt basic first aid on themselves or a single comrade following combat. This takes a Turn. A success heals 1HP per point of success. Characters with Specialist’s Tools (Physic), often called a Leech-bag, get a +1 to this roll. Specialists and Clerics with the Physic skill and tools always heal their skill level in HP on a success, and may divide this number between more than one character.

2) A character with Physic and Specialist’s Tools (physic) may forgo their normal rest to heal others. They may care for a number of patients equal to their skill level, and double each patients’ recovery rate.

3) A Specialist or Cleric with a Leech-bag may deal 1d3 damage to an ally who has failed a save versus Poison, drugs, or diseases (and similar imbalances in the humors). If the Physic roll succeeds, their ally is allowed to make an additional save.

4) A Cleric or Specialist with Specialist’s Tools (Physic) can attempt to resuscitate a “dead” character. This can only be done if the character has succumbed to wounds or other immediate trauma rather than “instant death”, and their body must be largely intact. No scraping Captain Pancake off the bottom of the cliff, or trying to undo your comrade’s tuberculosis. Poisons, diseases, and other conditions will remain in the character’s system, and they may succumb to these eventually.
If the character succeeds at a Physic roll, the “mostly dead” character’s player may make a Save vs. Poison. If successful, the formerly-dead character will stabilize at 0HP and enter a coma for 1d6 hours. They remain barely-lucid and helpless for 3 days, minus their Constitution bonus. They will usually suffer some severely disfiguring injury or mental trauma; to use the crit/injury table of your choice. Feel free to assign bonuses or penalties depending on the severity of the character’s injuries and the suitability of the environment.

Restrictions, Bonuses, and Penalties.
1) Rolling a “6” on a Physic attempt always fails. Unless the Leech is a Specialist or Cleric, the character(s) being treated immediately suffer 1d6 additional damage, reduced to 1d3 damage if the character is using a Leech-bag. Clerics and Specialists only injure their patients on an additional roll of 4+; with a skill level of 6, this is reduced to  6+ roll.

2) The Physic skill cannot cure conditions that specifically require magical healing. It also cannot cure magically-induced conditions and curses like a Blindness spell, but could remove a necromantically-conjured poison from a character’s system or restore the sight of a man blinded by the flash of a spell.

Depiction of a carrack, carrying John of Gaunt to Lisbon. From Jean de Wavrin's 'Chronicles of England', Bruges, c.1461-83. c British Library Board, Royal MS 14 E. IV, f.195r

Depiction of a carrack, carrying John of Gaunt to Lisbon. From Jean de Wavrin’s ‘Chronicles of England’, Bruges, c.1461-83. c British Library Board, Royal MS 14 E. IV, f.195r

Seamanship:
The mastery of a ship at sea, and how to survive on the waves. Treated as Bushcraft when adventuring on the water or along the coast/rivers, with the following additions:

1) A Specialist or Magic-user with Specialists’ Tools (Seamanship), which include a Sextant or Sunstone, star-charts, and compass, can determine their rough location on a successful Skill roll.
2) Seamen may attempt to predict the weather for that day; on a successful roll, the DM should inform them of the day’s sailing conditions. Failure yields no information.
3) The character helming a boat may add their Seamanship level to the ship’s saving throws against weather effects, grounding, reefs, etc.

Savages may exchange their starting Bushcraft skill for Seamanship.
Hunting at sea requires fishing gear or harpoons (as Javelin). Lines and harpoons are expended as “ammunition”.

Busy Day [admin crap, LotFP]

Went through and updated the House Rules page, Occultism, the Savage, and a few other posts. Currently updating Physic to match my current offline rules, and reconciling firearms and Seamanship with my notes as well. Forgot how damn much some of this stuff has changed. Currently queuing posts for the next couple of days.

…also, I dropped the silverware drawer on one of my fingers and it’s pouring rain. So painkillers may be involved.

Occultism Skill Rework and Grimoires [LotFP]

It’s been a few years, and a good bit of play, since I posted the Occult skill here. Anon asked about it today, and I figured I might as well go root out my hardcopy notes and post the revisions here.
I’ve loosened the day-to-day bookkeeping restrictions in favor of a more intuitive system, and added a bit more gambling to the mix. The additional rules for bonuses are encouraging my players to do weird stupid shit, like carrying around live chickens for sacrificial purposes and cranking themselves on Red Lotus in inappropriate places, and it also allows me to throw in more evidence and clues when the PCs are dealing with cultists/EHPs/witches and diabolists. Those folks can also be a serious, time-sensitive threat to the party without needing to have a level 9 Magic-User running around. It’s also a lot more dangerous than using a regular skill, but still useful enough to tempt players. Finally, the Grimoire rules place a sharp limitation on ritual spellcasting while adding a new and desirable form of treasure to the DM’s options.

h-clarke-faustus-appears

Harry Clarke – Faust – Faustus Appears

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Happy Thanksgiving!

That’s about it.
Got parts for some Quonset huts and a water tower on the build table, and finished a full-size version of The Device for working on said items.
Unfortunately, one of my Navy souvenirs (a tropical lung-fungus) lit off again last Tuesday and I’ve been down since. Pics forthcoming when I can get some more build time and/or fucks.

Also, I highly recommend spending tomorrow watching the MST3K Turkey Day marathon on Youtube/Shoutfactory.  Lord knows I’m gonna be.

More TNT house rules and weapons [This is Not a Test]

I’ve spent most of the day caring for an ailing wife and a brain-pulverizing migraine, but I did get some converting done this afternoon. More on  that shortly.
Meanwhile, here’s a second installment of some house rules I’ve been toying with these last couple of weeks. As always, these are house rules and in no way official.

New Weapon and Relic attribute:
Janky
Masterwork weapons are the best equipment in the waste. Janky gear, on the other hand, is the stuff even a Raider would think twice about picking up. Whether poorly-made, badly-maintained, or just old as Hell, the item breaks down more frequently than most. Still, it’s cheap.. and it might be easier to find a low-end relic.
Relics and Ranged Weapons with the “Janky” attribute treat a roll of “2” as a Fumble when using or Activating them.
They provide a 25% BS rebate to Ranged weapons bought at any time, or Relics chosen at Warband creation (though Relics still count their full cost towards the Warband Strength). In the End-Game sequence, a player may select a Janky relic of one higher rarity level than the one they rolled.
The “Janky” rule may be bought off if the warband has a Gunsmith (weapons) or Maintainer (Relics) by spending 50% of the item’s nominal value.
Don’t buy Janky power armor. Trust me.

New weapons:
Carbine
Str: 6—Rng 18″—Rel 2—Two-Hand—Cost: 10 BS
Modern Weapon
Special rules/notes: Hail of Lead
Carbines were far and away the most popular civilian weapon in America before the End War, and held that distinction for centuries. They combine a short, handy profile with a deep magazine of lower-caliber ammo (either pistol cartridges or light rifle rounds), and boast a fast action. The most common types are lever-action “ranch rifles” or scaled-down versions of Assault Rifles converted to semi-automatic fire, though some companies manufactured beefed-up SMGs and stocked, long-barreled pistols before the Fall as well. The Carbine’s low recoil and deep magazine make it easy to lay down covering fire, even if the weapon can’t quite match the volume of shots or accuracy of an SMG or AR firing full-auto.  They’re popular among Wastelanders who prefer to fire on the move, or with anyone who wants to get a little extra range but doesn’t want to buy (or scrounge) more expensive high-powered rifle rounds.
Note: A Bayonet may be mounted on a High-Caliber Carbine.
So, basically this is a huge-ass hole in the TNT armory. As noted above, these really are the most popular guns in America – from the AR-15 and Mini-14 to the .357 and .44 Magnum Winchesters.
With
Hail of Lead, the guns work best as suppressing-fire weapons on the move, but you can also pull off a Concentrated single shot. It also leaves the SMG and AR with their niches – massive emplaced fire. I bumped up the cost a little over the SMG because otherwise there’s really no reason to take the latter (but see below), and kept the poorer reliability to balance the volume of fire. I was torn between bumping the range up to 20″, but 18″ just seemed easier to work with.

Sawed-off Shotgun
Str 6—Rng 9″—Rel 1—One-hand—Cost: 7 BS
Modern Weapon
Special Rules/Notes: Close Range (3″), Pistol
Short-ranged and brutal, cut-down shotguns are the close-combat weapon of choice for anyone who can take the wrist-breaking recoil and doesn’t feel like learning to use a knife or bat. They also make an excellent last-ditch weapon to stop Rad Zombies or other, nastier wasteland creatures. Though most are more-manageable 16 and 20-gauge guns, larger bores are not unheard-of; before the End War, combat entry teams would sometimes use pistol-sized shotguns as “12-gauge lockpicks”. Raiders and Lawmen alike will occasionally continue the tradition in the post-apocalyptic era.
Come on, man. Mad Max has one. And don’t give me that “Large-Caliber pistol” crap, the Close Range rule is the whole point of a shotty. Plus the range of Pistols feels a little too long.

SMG – test rule (jacked from the TiNaT Facebook group)
SMGs and machine pistols are not affected by the Movement penalty. All other rules remain the same.

Riot Gun (Automatic Shotgun)
Str 7—Rng 18″—Rel 3—Two-handed—Cost: 20
Support weapon
Special Rules/Notes: Close Range, Burst
Fully-automatic shotguns are terrifying (if rare) support weapons. Their popularity with police forces and urban combat teams before the End War earned them the nickname “Riot Gun”. They’re legendary for their brutal recoil and are notoriously unreliable, but offer unparalleled knockdown firepower at close range. Auto-shotties are temperamental, with very finicky ammunition requirements, so it is rare to find a warband with one that does not also manufacture its own shotshells. They chew through ammo too quickly for Pre-war stocks to be viable, and low-quality “scrounger” rounds will foul the action or simply fail to cycle it effectively. Most are built on modified AR actions, but some were built from the ground up as shotguns with drum or tube magazines; they might resemble an out-sized assault rifle or grenade launcher to untrained observers.

God I love the AA-12, and the SPAS-12 is too iconic to miss – especially since I have an Aussie bush hunter with a SPAS-12 and some velociraptors in my minis collection..
Also, these make a great representation for the Bolters, undersized light drum-fed GLs, or out-scale “heroic” SMGs and ARs you might have in your collection.
I left this as a Support weapon because of the enormous potential firepower and the specialized training needed to effectively handle one, plus as something of a balancing mechanism. Nobody needs to deal with one of these in the hands of an Omega Mutant. Pricing it higher than the current AR was a no-brainer, of course. But the LMG has vastly superior range even if it’s
Move-or-fire, and its lethality feels on-par with the Sniper Rifle or Grenade launcher, so 20 seemed about right.

LAW (One-shot anti-tank launchers)
Str 9 — Rng 30″—Rel 2—Two-handed—Cost: 10
Support Weapon
Special Rules: One-shot (Sporadic reload rarity), Move or Fire, Anti-Armor
The LAW and its ilk are single-shot, high-powered anti-tank weapons descended from the venerable Panzerfaust. They were designed to give troopers who didn’t expect to encounter enemy armor a cheap, rugged and lightweight last-ditch weapon that outranged (not to mention out-hit..) conventional grenades. Though they had long been replaced by the Plasma Rifle in front-line American units, National Guard armories still held huge numbers of the obsolete weapons when the End arrived. Some ancient, unfired units survive to this day in the Wastes; skilled weaponsmiths have even made their own cruder but no less-effective disposable rockets to reload or replace them.
LAWs are effectively an “insurance policy” in the modern Wastes. Noting says “Bugger off” quite so effectively to a claim-jumping Preserver than seeing one of their big ‘Bots or powered armors eat a rocket, and even Psychos tend to back off once a vehicle or two explodes.
Though vastly cheaper than other anti-armor weapons, they can be hard to replace or source. Once a LAW has been fired in a campaign, the Warband must roll a Sporadic or better on the Relic availability table to re-use it in the next match. Note that a LAW does not count as a Relic for any purposes.

This is primarily intended for letting me do WYSIWYG skirmishes with some modern troopers I have in my model inventory. The Reload Rarity rule was mostly to balance out the cost – I either had to make it so cheap to get one that no-one should be without (which is silly) and >really< make it disposable, or charge a more balanced price and let it be a campaign item, and it felt like a good way to emphasize the difficulty of replacing ammo without adding on more hassle buying bundles of the damned things. Plus, if a model has a bundle of 3+, you can always just give it an >actual< ML and hand-wave it.

The Device [Terrain-making]

Basically, I got tired of dealing with simulating all of my corrugated tin/steel with cardboard. It looks.. okay. But it’s not very sturdy, and it’s all fuzzy and shit. So, a while ago I realized I could use all the pop cans I had lying around the house if I could find a way of corrugating them. What did I have? Popsicle sticks. So I tried an alternating arrangement, which worked.. sort of. With a lot of work.

Version one

Version one

This one was, of course, hilariously unsafe. Something about rubbing small sticks right together vigorously next to a sharp-ass metal edge. I did use the test pieces to make that shack a couple weeks ago, though. In the ensuing weeks I’ve gone through a couple iterations, and finally put together something that requires about the same amount of work but far less filing. Or risk of severe finger injury.
Directions below the cut.
Read the full post »

Additional Wasteland Deck cards, and other This is Not a Test House Rules

The following cards are playtest house rules, and of course not endorsed by Joey. Unless he does later :b

———————
The first house rule is simple – instead of basing Agility tests on Mettle, I’m using MOV. It’s worked well in playtest games so far, and undoes the silly situations where a high-MET character in heavy combat armor is somehow dodging attacks and jumping gaps that an unarmored dog with a MV of 7 can’t. It also makes the choice between +1 MV/RNG a little harder, and reduces Mettle’s position as the game’s God stat.
———————
Second, (though this was one I cooked up before the latest rules update beefed them up a bit) Flamethrowers get the Poison Gas special ability to reflect the way they kill – with carbon monoxide, not by setting you on fire. I also was testing having them automatically catch you afire with a crit.
———————
Finally, I have a number of extra cards in my poker decks (as many do), and I figured “why not make use of them?”. I tried to keep in the spirit of the game, while also making some stats/items that the original Wasteland deck ignores available.

Advertisements (non-card-related)
The character sees something twinkling in the rubble just out of reach.
○ On a successful Survival (TN/10) test, the character finds some pretty, but worthless junk. Choose one: You may either gain the effects of the Barter skill for the next d3 games, or the warband gains 1d3 Shiny Objects for free
○ Failure: It was a trick of the light; the character finds nothing. They return from the wastelands discouraged with 1d6 BS in scrap.
○ Avoid: Fearing a trap, the character scavenges elsewhere, and finds a stash of old canned food worth 1d10 BS.

Advertisements (Card-related) –
A youngster on their own, impressed by your reputation, approaches the character seeking a mentor..
○ On a successful Mettle test (TN:10), a Rank-and-File model of your choice joins the band for free. If the searching character has the Fearful Reputation  general rule, they will automatically pass the test.
Note: Cannibal warbands may simply capture and eat the aspiring badass; treat as one captured enemy casualty for Upkeep purposes.
○ Failure: They were just a grifter – the character was rolled! The youngster steals one randomly-determined item from the character and disappears back into the wastes.
○ Avoid: You’ve heard that cannibals and muties use decoys as scouts or to lure the unwary into traps. Maybe someone should know about this. The character warns a passing caravan of their suspicions, and the grateful guards pass the hat. Gain 1d10 BS.

Rules cards (how to play poker, Old Maid, &c.):
Rooting through an overturned bookcase, the character finds a legible self-help book!
○ They may attempt to use it with a successful Int test (d10+MET/TN 10); if successful, roll 1d10 on the following table.
1: Mental Health and You – the character may either cure one psychological condition in your warband (Frenzied, Hatred, Dumb, Coward, etc.) that the model gained as the result of an injury, or the finding model gains the Brave skill for free.
2: Ballistic Calculations for Dummies – Gain Range Finder or Fast-Tracker skill for free; if the model has both, add +1 to the character’s RNG stat.
3: Recipes for Anarchistes – Choose one ordinary (non-Relic) grenade type, or an Aerosol Gun; the model gains it for free.
4: Tinkering with Firearms (Without Dying)Gunsmith or Field Strip skill (your choice). If the model has both, gain +1 RNG.
5: The Biscuit Scout’s Handbook – Gain the Survivalist or Trekker skill for free; if the model has both, increase its MOV by +1. If the model has the Soft-Bellied ability, remove it instead.
6: How to Win Friends and Influence Puppies  –  The model gains the Animal Handler special rule. If it already possesses the skill, pick one model in the warband with the animal  type; it gains +1 MET.
7: Kung Fu in Thirty Days or Less – Choose one: the model gains either the Flurry of Blows skill in melee when using fists or improvised weapons, the Spring-heeled skill, or +1MEL when using Fists and Improvised Weapons
8: You’re Awesome, I’m Awesome – Choose the Assertive or Confident skill; if the model has both, gain +1 MET.
9: Pump Yourself Up – Gain the Brute or Muscular skill for free, or +1 STR
10: Ladies’ Home Surgeon –  Gains the Medic General Ability for free, or you may cure one permanent physical injury on any model in the warband. If it gains the Medic ability, the model will cost one additional BS in all subsequent Upkeep phases (doctors are in high demand, after all..).

Note that this result may give the character skills or abilities outside their normal options, but it still cannot increase their skills above the normal limits. As with leveling, if none of the above options are usable the character may gain one allowable skill or a point in any stat (or advance in rank if they are at max stat points).

○ Failure: This looks like bullshit.. The book is a fraud, and the character sells it for 1d6 BS back in town.
○ Avoid: Reading is hard. The character sells the book for 3D10 BS to a more literate collector.

Making 28mm Asphalt Roads [Modern/Post-Apoc]

Following on from a post over at Tabletop-Terrain about making roads with self-adhesive floor-tiles, I swung by the Home Depot (gotta love that 10% veteran’s discount) and picked up a sample of this shit – TrafficMaster “light brown travertine” SA vinyl. Given that it’s running less than $1/square foot, and each square foot makes two 12″x6″ road sections, this is going to be a about half the price of my previous favorite option – Ikea “Avskild” cork placemats.

Before I break down the advantages of each, I figured I’d put up a quick shot to show you the texture of the vinyl tiles versus the cork.
• Ikea Cork sheeting, painted as concrete (from the Airbase Toblerone project).
IMG_20160605_213622_431
As you can see, it’s got a pretty fine texture, even on the smaller bunker. Good for concrete, but it’s not really my favorite on the asphalt front. The surface tearing is nice and chunky, and the edges wear pretty well.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics of the commissioned road set I did a few years ago, but we’ll go over my experience with them below.

•Trafficmaster tile, inked and uncut (I just slapped some India ink on with a wet rag and took a photo here without cleaning the tile first: the pale spots appear to be greasy areas from previous handling..).

img_20161030_151202_887Here we’ve got a much more irregular surface, and it’s already very reminiscent of weathered asphalt even with the pale spots and brown undertone. It is, however, a thin sheet of plastic – less than .25mm – laid over a ~1.5mm rubber sheet. That may make larger areas of surface damage look less realistic unless I cut out the undersurface and hammer the surface plastic down into the “damage” pattern, or fill them with basing ballast.

So, what’s my take so far?

Cork sheeting

Advantages –
Realistic surface damage (for both asphalt and concrete). It’s easy to sink in some paper clip wire to simulate rebar on a broken section, or a small piece of low-gauge copper cable/plastic pipe for other conduits, which dresses up the edges nicely.

Multi-purpose. Crumbled scrap bits make great rubble. You can face a chunk of foamcore or stiff card with the cork and get a plastered concrete surface in minutes – one that’s also easy to trash and make look good.

Super-easy to work. Cutting, fitting, and weathering the cork bits for both of the pieces in the pic above took me about two minutes.

Cheap. Granted, both of the materials have that going for them, but it bears repeating; this stuff costs about 75c/ft^2.  In other formats, unfortunately, that’s not so true – a straight-up roll of cork from a craft or art store can be more along the lines of $5/ft^2.  And there’s a certain amount of wasted material because of the rounded edges of the Ikea stuff and the weird size.

Disadvantages –
Poor surface sealing coupled with moisture sensitivity. You have to paint PVA or another sealant onto cork, or it has a nasty tendency to swell. That flakes off paint. It also behaves oddly when painted unless you seal it – soaking in some colors, repelling others, and generally being a pain in the ass. Plus, again, it can swell or crumble without sealant while you’re painting it, screwing up your effects or damaging the piece.

Fragility – the same thing that makes it easy to work makes it hard to store. Cork works best as a facing on top of another material, like heavy card or styrofoam. In storage, dropping or bumping the container can shatter off a large chunk of cork, and the pieces frotting against each other in the box will not just wear the paint but tear chunks out. That means you need padded storage and rigid containment, which reduces the amount of stuff you can store in a given space. With roads it’s less of a problem – you can wrap them in cheap felt and glue a sheet of craft foam to the edges of the box – but storing a large building is a >massive< pain in the ass

It just doesn’t look like asphalt at larger scales. With a good paintjob, you can pass it off pretty well at 6-10mm, and I’ve seen some guys make 15mm look decent, but at 28+ it looks like shit unless you work it as concrete. How many cities or highways do you know of that use concrete for the roads? Yeah. It’s fine for sidewalks and warehouse floors, but not roads.

Vinyl Tile

Advantages –
Tough as hell. I did a few experiments with a painted chunk, slapping it edge-on against a desk and flapping the piece back and forth. Paint held well, and even the section I stripped the vinyl from seemed to be doing okay. Unfortunately, rubbing the painted sides together did do some paint damage, so I’ll still need surface protection, but rubbing gently with stiff, sealed card didn’t do too much damage. I think I may be able to get away with just peeling and sticking the flooring sheets onto posterboard and using that as layer protection; for more on that, see “conclusions” below.

Great surface texture. I mean, look at that pic again. That’s literally a thirty-second swipe of india ink – not a damn lick of paint – and it already looks like a road.

The sheets are a better shape and size than the Ikea mats I’ve been using, which means there’s less waste. Basically with cork I got two 6″x16″ chunks of straight road, or two 12″x8″ sections. Lots of room for a shoulder, but the roads also wound up looking unrealistically wide compared to 1:43 or 1:48 cars (let alone the figs). Of course, I could trim off that extra couple inches on each side and use to make sidewalks and curbs or building parts, which was pretty cool. With the vinyl I get four 6″x12″ straights, nearly quadrupling the yield per dollar spent.

On that note, the sheets are even cheaper than cork, especially in bulk; I can get ten 1’x2′ sheets for under twenty bucks. So for the same $20 I can get either ten sections of road with sidewalks/shoulders, plus 2 intersections per road section I drop, or forty sections without sidewalks. Sections that require less reinforcement and storage area.

Properly painted, it also looks like facing stones. With a little work, it’d be great for adding a “sandstone” texture to the lower floors of Foamcore ruins, which means I still have an outlet for scraps. Cork does have an advantage, though, in that crumbled bits of cork will look great just tossed on a rubble pile, where this will require trimmed and (roughly) squared sections of the scrap rather than “whatever’s left”

Disadvantages –
Heavier, by a substantial margin. Each sheet weighs about half again as much as one of the placemats, making it harder to transport on foot/bus.

Harder to weather and simulate surface damage – as I mentioned above, just picking the surface off reveals a chunk of rubber, which has a terrible texture. So you have to backfill the holes with basing ballast, or find some other way of getting an interesting texture instead of smooth cuts. That adds working time as well, which seems to be compensating for not needing to seal each individual piece.

Harder to work – This shit is dulling the HELL out of my boxcutter, and straight-up snapped a #11 Exacto blade within 5 cuts. It’s also tearing the shit out of my leatherworking swivel knife, which is why the boxcutter is getting an outing. I also can’t slap it up on the deck of my paper-cutter to just slice off straight sections, which means breaking out the rulers, square, and compass.

Floppy – A disadvantage both share, but the higher weight of the sheeting makes it more noticeable. I’m gonna need to give these a stiffer backing to keep the paint on, even if it held reasonably well in the basic tests.

Surprise contestant:
EVA (Craft) Foam
Advantages:
Easy to work, soft, multi-purpose.

Disadvantages:
Poor surface texture, floppy, fragile, and more expensive than either. Worse, it’s sensitive to heat and to spraypaint, so it’ll need sealing.

ConclusionsI’ll definitely keep using cork for my own street/postapoc projects, but I’m about to add a lot more vinyl to my toolbox. Given the properties of both, I’m thinking of using an 8″ wide strip of black posterboard, with the vinyl laid on top (using its own adhesive) as a road bed and either cork sidewalks or ballast to simulate gravel shoulders. I could also take strips of foamcore and cut out roadbeds from the center ( just leaving the bottom layer of card), and mark up curbs/sidewalks onto the raised edge sections. The foamcore method is almost certainly going to be the way to go if I’m making bridges/overpasses, unless I can convince that guy in the Makerspace to let me use his laser cutter on some MDF or hork up for the Hirst Arts bridge mold..

Quick, Cheap Skirmish Horde Basing; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hole Saw.

So, one of the problems you’re inevitably going to face as a wargamer is simple – you’re gonna run out of bases one day. A lot of companies sell their minis with “integral” display bases that aren’t worth a damn. Especially the cheap shit – Wargames Factory, Reaper, lookin’ at you here. And of course, these aren’t cut to fit on GW’s patented slotted base. The hole’s easy to cover, but still more of a pain that you really want to deal with – not now that GW is charging in excess of a buck a base, anyway.

So I’ve started manufacturing my own, at least for the “horde” models. I put together this tutorial to help you make your own quick, cheap bases in large quantities. Short version is, forty bases cost me ~$2.15 using existing tools (about $30 worth). It’s about the same price as mail-ordering MDF stuff, but you get it now and don’t have to pay shipping..
Tutorial below the cut.
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Shack! [Post-apoc terrain]

I have invented a device for turning pop cans into scale-correct corrugated iron sheets. It is made from popsicle sticks. I’ve done up a quickie sample shack with the prototype. Plans will go up once I refine it into something a little less-dangerous and labor-intensive.

shackpix-1 shackpix-2

Reversing the Apocalypse: “Un-ruining” the Mantic 28mm Brick terrain set

I picked up the Mars Attacks! brick ruin terrain boxed set a year or so ago, while I was on my last Fallout kick. The sci-fi kits they put out were pretty cool, and I liked the way those fit together, so I snagged a couple of the MA! ruins boxes on sale from the LGS, hoping they’d fit the good old zeerusty Fallout aesthetic. They were.. not the most impressive. A couple of connectors snapped off while I was doing test fitting, and there were a huge number of “samey” pieces of ruin. That tends to make everything look a little too planned for a crumbling town (in particular, the three identical un-shattered glass doors, and all the identically-busted windows). The clip-together system also leaves huge unsightly gaps between pieces, and glaring holes in the models’ texture that would require filling. Plus they were a garish salmon-orange-pink. So I knew that if I put these together I’d either hate them or have to give up on the modularity that was supposed to be the kit’s selling point.

Instead of doing either, I got annoyed with it in the planning stage and stashed it in the back of my closet with the rest of my unloved but usable gaming crap.

Today I’ve been inspired by the work of the gent over on Tabletop Terrain to give my 20th-C brick a second look (he’s got a couple of really cool posts through that link showing his own work on it). He fixed the gapping problems and the clip-holes quite handily. As I said, however, the biggest thing that bugged me personally was the uniformity of the busted bits, along with how small most of the pieces are. Some are barely big enough to make a blasted corner sticking up out of the rubble, and only have 1-2 clip holes. That makes building walls and linear terrain much harder. Plus, I want a couple of vaguely intact buildings to fuck about in. The best part about Necromunda and Mordheim was always the massive, multi-level terrainscape; I want to get some of that feel with my own This is Not a Test tables. I know Mantic offers actual un-ruined sets, but most of them don’t actually give me anything over what I already have. In particular, the roof tiles look shit and they have no models with plain, open windows – everything’s a thin layer of tough, orange plastic I’d have to saw out anyway. I might pick up their Convenience Store for the windows, but really their setup is pretty janky and this is more about salvaging and getting the most out of what I have. Kinda appropriate for a post-apocalyptic project, if you think about it..

So I set about restoring what bits I have and planning out new ones – the roofs are going to have to wait for a bit.

One of the first things I noticed was that the “Accessories” sprue has some pretty cool bits on it that aren’t actually on any of the buildings Mantic offers – a different dustbin, beer kegs, a better-looking paneled door – so I plan to might wind up separating a few of those off and repairing/recasting them for scatter terrain. That door is >definitely< going under rubber, although I’m going to have to make it as a “face” mold since the other side is covered by crates and reinforcements.

accessories-linear-terrain-annotated

Annotated to show some of the nifty salvageable bits here

accessories-cool-door-in-barricade

Almost the same size, and you can’t tell me this isn’t cooler…

The park benches are too difficult to cast, and I can make my own, better-looking ones more quickly and cheaply with coffee stirrers and wire anyway, but the road signs and 50s-style lamps are badass.

I also did a basic repair on the main panel.

I had the sneaking suspicion that one of the smaller “ruin” pieces would match up fairly closely to the missing chunks of the largest panel. None of them did exactly, but a couple were pretty close. This was the best fit.
main-panel-tracing
I traced the outline of the larger wall on it with a sharpie and got to work with the ol’ razor saw (this stuff is a little too stiff to cut with the X-acto, although my heavy boxcutter is decent for trimming), and an emery board.
main-panel-traced

These things are the shit, kids. $1.50 for fifteen, and they're wide, straight, flat, and flexible.

These things are the shit, kids. $1.50 for fifteen, and they’re wide, straight, flat, and flexible.

Anyway, I sanded until the model hit a decent temporary fit, then clamped it into a pair of other walls as an alignment jig and sanded until it fit cleanly and without real effort before I glued it. I also lightly sanded the surface of the piece – like a lot of these hard-plastic wargaming models, it warped slightly while cooling and I want the recasts to be as clean as possible.

main-panel-fit-and-glueNext up is making a quick-and-dirty epoxy mold to transfer and repair the brick texture from the other side and replace the two bricks in the middle.

After that I have a couple of ideas, but given how shitty this plastic is to work with I think I may just cast up quick-and-shitty molds of the main unique wall sections instead of building off of what I have.

Said larger bits of ruin

Said larger bits of ruin

One of the cooler things is that the door piece aligns in a couple of different ways with the window-walls. With proper castings and a little elbow grease these ought to break up a lot of the monotony of the set.

Side alignment with two full-height windows

Side alignment with two full-height windows

Side alignment with the paneled door

Side alignment with the paneled door

Center alignment with two small windows above the door.

Center alignment with two small windows above the door.

The bay window will be kind of a bitch, but at least I can get my brownstone on in a reasonably attractive manner. Floors will be super easy, just joisted coffee stirrers with a little filler on top, and I think can get away with using the floor separators as a frame to hold on upper levels since I’m not going to be using the Mantic clips to hold the structures together.  Given my ongoing mold hold-out rates, this ought to give me enough casts for a couple reasonably-sized buildings to play in and beat the shit out of in a slightly less-regular manner than they probably intended.

Useful article for the DiY carpenters out there.

I strongly recommend this article : http://makezine.com/2011/02/09/skill-set-tuning-planes-and-chisels/
I just spent about 40 minutes tuning my flea-market rescue plane and spokeshave, and they’re already cutting like silk compared to yesterday. I still need to sharpen my irons and chisels (waiting on payday to snag a new stone), and I can’t wait to feel the difference after that.

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.