Bad Resin! No Biscuit!

As you may remember, I’ve been fiddling around with resin casting, working up to sculpting and casting my own wargaming minis. I ran out of the white resin I’d been using previously, and broke out the Smooth-cast 325 I bought a month ago. It’s “clear” and, in theory, tintable, although I haven’t sprung for any of the colors they sell for it.  Allegedly, it’s got the same work and demold time as 300, which I’m now quite comfortable with.
I tried to run up some quick-and-dirty armature casts for the torso and arms of a Destroid Phalanx/Longbow LGB-0W that I’m sculpting.
Short story? It did not go well.

Longer story:


I’ve Got to Admit, I’m Getting Better

Finally recovering from that bastard lung thing. It’s been nearly two weeks now.  Still got a lingering cough and still on meds for a while, but no pneumonia this time, Gratia Dei.

Anyway, on the gaming front. I bought me some robutts, as I mentioned earlier. Right now I’m going through the preview rules, presented videos, and various other crap to put together a better preview ruleset. They actually gave us enough to reconstruct most of the UEDF mecha, but were not so kind with the Zentraedi (alas). Final results will be posted elsewhere and linked from this post. Trying to get a couple multiplayer preview games together instead of just playing with myself (hurrhurrhurr). Been using my BT minis as proxies for full irony; the Citytech Locusts have the right height compared to the Stingers/Wasps and Destroids to work as Regults.


Today I pray for Peace, in the name of the dead and maimed who fought for her.
I pray for the Dead, that they may know the Lady for whom they fought in Life.
I pray for an end to my nation’s campaign of terror and murder in the name of the false-hearted Goddess Security.
In nomine Dei, Patri & Fili & Spiritu Sancti +, amen.

Historical inspiration; Teraphim and an impressive lady

“According to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Teraphim were made from the heads of slaughtered first born male adult humans, shaved, salted, spiced, with a golden plate placed under the tongue, and magic words engraved upon the plate; it was believed that the Teraphim, mounted on the wall, would talk to people[3]. During the excavation of Jericho by Kathleen Kenyon, evidence of the use of human skulls as cult objects was uncovered, lending credence to the Rabbinical conjecture.[9] The implied size and the fact that Michal could pretend that one was David, has led to the Rabbinical conjecture that they were heads, possibly mummified human heads”
Wiki article
TYWKWDBI article
Sounds like a perfect familiar for a wizard…

Second, this is frankly an utterly awesome NPC – a woman 6 feet tall with a golden artificial eye engraved with the sun, and wired into her eye socket. Reminds me of my homie Chang, but female. Let’s be honest, not much difference between middle dynasty Egyptians and Klingons, either..

Sick week

I’ve been down for the count all weekend with a massive respiratory infection – something made my bronchitis flare again, I think. Still on bed rest for a couple of days, and I haven’t been able to do any creative work in the interim.

I did kick in on the Robotech minis kickstarter. It certainly fit my criteria:
First, Ken Sembieda may be many things, but his company survived all three of the great RPG crashes. He delivers consistently. Ninja Division/Soda Pop have run multiple kickstarters in the past, and always come through.
Second, I’ve met several of the developers in person and I’ve been following this game avidly since it was two separate projects a couple years ago. I’ve already seen some of the prototypes, and I know the quality they put out.
Third, the game is already playable in its basic form, and I fully anticipate the kickers being looped in on a beta test in the next few months.
Fourth, the time goal was reasonable (6+ months for a prototyped game), and even if it goes over these guys will deliver.

So I’m now a Battle Cry supporter, and I’ll probably be kicking in another ~$100 at the beginning of the month for a Monster and some other accessories.
When I’m a little more conscious, I think I’m going to enter the Design-an-Ace contest (yes, this one’s a joke)
Torgue Valk

Borderlands Fan-RPG: Update 2

I’m back on the stick after a very trying weekend, and I still have a bunch of educational outreach crap to get done by next week, but I’ve added several pages, and finally settled into a character sheet format with which I’m comfortable. The front covers your character’s basics; skills, description, accumulated Badass points and EXP. The back is only the combat-relevant skills, weapon stats, ammo-tracking, and character Quirks. The idea is to flip your character sheet and be ready to go as soon as the shit hits the fan.
On the rulebook front I’ve settled on a skillset, now I’m writing out the skill descriptions and some sample tasks with difficulties for each. The post-combat sequence is still in flux, as is the gun-generation system in general, but I think it’s going to boil down to a Tech Level system. More on that when I get it out of my head and onto a page.
Current pagecount: 18 single-spaced, 10-12 point. I’m also experimenting with fonts, trying to find something with the right in-verse “feel”, but the aesthetics are less-important right now than keeping my ass in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard.

Enemy, NPC, and character templates
Weapon stats and generation system
Post-combat sequence
Pre-combat sequence
Sample Adventure
Fluff work;
the timeline is almost complete. The corporate armies are now fully-described, and I have a list of vehicles I want to make (Monster Truck, Racer, Torgue Supercycle, Technicals, Maliwan Hoverbike, Runner, a couple corporate APCs, and the dreaded Jakobs SkagCoach). Critter fluff, ecology information, geography, major towns, and most of the info you need to set up the world still needs making though…
Once I get this into beta form, I’m going to start soliciting new planets to play on, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Legalese: No challenge is intended to the rights of any entity owning trademarks or copyrights mentioned herein. This was not created for profit, not an official product, and is in no way endorsed or approved by Gearbox, Lucasfilm Ltd., West End Games, or indeed any entity but Anonymous and myself. Use of the name of a game or other work for comparative or educational purposes does not imply that this game is a derivative of that work. Keep circulating the Tapes.

Cool goblin race-class (link)

This guy:
came up with a pretty awesome take on Gobboes. If I was using Humanoids in the current game, I’d certainly be trying them out…

Artistic Inspiration: A gentle reminder to Early Modern GMs

Bows are damned near silent. And they shoot faster than anything you could get mass-produced until, oh, the late 1700s. Great for poaching and assassination, especially after everyone gave up on body armor…

Joshua Reynolds, Colonel Acland and Lord Sydney The Archers, 1769The Archers, by Sir Henry Raeburn (1789-1790).

Artistic Inspiration: Female Biblical Badasses

Since there aren’t all that many good pictures of females suited for the less “gentle” characters in an RPG, I thought I’d post some of my collection today.

Lucas Cranach had a problem. That problem was a lack of creativity and an enormous need for money. Fortunately, noble ladies loved getting painted up as various historical women from the Bible, which allowed them to go punk and be socially transgressive. In the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, many of them wanted to be Judith, a Hebrew woman who slew the general Holofernes in his tent during one of the Jews’ many wars over the Levant…

This is my background at the moment; an absolutely gorgeous piece. I particularly like the no-nonsense sword and the slashes in her gloves that display her ring collection. Her clothes may be velvet, but they make at least a nod to combat function, and she’s not wearing a corset so much as an armored brace. The outfit is tightened-up and easy to move in compared to the older slashed-and-strung outfits below. All in all, a great trophy shot of a higher-level Fighter.

Oh, and there’s a LOT more after the break.1336678547691 (more…)

Borderlands Fan-RPG update

I posted the first mechanical draft last night. Anon has been shitting up the threads (as he so often does), so I’m not linking to the archive right now. I’ve also added to it (of course). In the meantime, I’m posting the FAQ section of the preview. This is both a sort of manifesto and a way of keeping myself honest as I start having to really buckle down and get to the nitty-gritty of hacking this system together.
Finally, I’d like to thank Anon for some of the cooler ideas in the game, including Slag Harpies, new corporate turrets, and the “Biggest Badass In the Room” rule.

What is D6? Who made it? When?
The engine was originally created by West End Games in the 1980s. It was intended to be fast-playing and cinematic, while also being easy for newbies to pick up. West End would use it as a universal franchised RPG. The two most notable licensed games were Ghostbusters and Star Wars, both of which licenses they lost in the mid 1990s. West End itself subsequently perished in the infamous D20 crash of 1999-2002. Refugees from the company still make a D6-based RPG, and the core system is now available for free from most RPG e-retailers.
I hold a special place in my heart for the first edition of the Star Wars RPG; the humor and immersion of its presentation are still basically unmatched. If you can find it, buy it just for the R2-D2 advertisement centerfold.
The insanely popular Paranoia does NOT use the d6 system, because Friend Computer is special.

How does it work?

The original system is closely related to the old World of Darkness in layout, but in practice functions more like D20. It uses a “DC “-like target number, which you roll against using your skills’ dice pools.
EXP are used to improve your Skills and (in this game) buy Quirks – unique improvements to your character that function similarly to the Skill Trees in Borderlands.

Why did you choose this system for Borderlands?
Several reasons.
• I’m comfortable working with it, since I’ve been hacking around with the basic system since I was 14.
• It’s a universal system that gives the right feel for Pandora. None of the rest really tickled my fancy.
Note, before I get into this system by system: yes, I actually have run and/or played multiple games with all of these systems. This is not just rarghrgarghfrothskub from a fa/tg/uy, this is an ADD-addled GM with 23 years of experience in dozens of systems breaking down his own logic.
• GURPS is too crunchy and yet too unfocused. Tri-Stat isn’t crunchy enough, and the mechanic is too easily-broken by character advancement.  Interlock can be readily broken in character creation and doesn’t deal with advancement well at all. None of the last three handle vehicles the way BL does – as disposable extensions of the characters. FASA D100 (Star Trek, early drafts of MechWarrior) focuses too much on the character’s history in character building, and the system is insanely lethal – hardly appropriate for how resilient BL characters actually are. I very seriously considered using a modified Crafty system for it, but D20 requires too much work on statting everything at multiple levels and doesn’t focus enough on what makes Pandora fun (guns, Skags, and shooting people with a shotgun that shoots fire instead of bullets). Not to say it wouldn’t work, but I really wanted the weapons to be modular, rather than discrete with modular add-ons. And don’t get me started on ammo tracking in D20…
• The D6 game mechanics, on the other hand, allow me to get crunchy enough for players to feel like their weapon choices matter, without losing the flow and pacing important to the game. The mechanics are intuitive for a generation brought up on D20, and you get to roll a lot of dice without being saddled with the picherfuls that Shadowrun, WoD, or Interlock can require. It’s also technically point-buy. Normally, I prefer random-build systems, but Borderlands itself is all about how you express your character off of a template, not taking what you get dealt and running with it. Character advancement is constant but incremental, and choosing between Skills and Quirks (an entire mechanic I’ve added) at low levels gives you some interesting choices. Basically, in a skill-based RPG, you can constantly feel like you’re accomplishing something without having those massive jumps in power that come with a level-based system; it also means that “human” enemies stay dangerous in packs for a lot longer.
• The BADASS mechanic just feels right for Borderlands.
I could see World of Darkness and FFG D100 (you might know it better as the Dark Heresy engine) both working, but I was comfortable here, and one anon was allegedly already working on an FFG-based system.

What did you change?
I added a LOT of mechanical crunch, with an eye towards keeping the speed-of-play and elegance of the engine. I altered or added the combat mechanics, the Ammo system (D6 uses “cinematic” ammo, like BESM, where it doesn’t matter until it does) Elemental Attacks, Quirks, Attributes, the flow of the combat round, the new Shield and Wound mechanics (D6 uses a far simpler version: this is more akin to the WoD system but more intuitive), and the new cash system. Not to mention the brand quirks and vast proliferation of weapon types.

What’s left before you put up a playtest draft?
Designing an intuitive character sheet, preferably one that includes everything you need to run an entire combat on one side of one sheet of paper.
Templating some playtest characters, and statting out enemies for them.
Writing out and/or converting several dozen more Quirks. Right now I’ve only got a half-a-dozen plus a couple of Signature Quirks.
Writing out and organizing the fluff in a coherent fashion. A couple of the people I’m bouncing this off of are unfamiliar with my inspiration: if they get the right “feel” from what I’ve written, I’ll know that the game has accomplished what I set out to do. I also want to dive more into this ‘verse; I’ve done as little “massaging” of the canon material as I can.

Legalese: No challenge is intended to the rights of any entity owning trademarks or copyrights mentioned herein. This is not created for profit, not an official product, and is in no way endorsed or approved by Gearbox, Lucasfilm Ltd., West End Games, or indeed any entity but Anonymous and myself. Use of the name of a game or other work for comparative or educational purposes does not imply that this game is a derivative of that work. Keep circulating the Tapes.

Jeff Reints’ 20 Questions

So, felt like answering Jeff’s 20 questions today for the game I’m spinning up.

What is the deal with my cleric’s religion?
Very few pagans survive in the “civilized” parts of the world. Most “savages” are Neutral shamanists and animists (revering the spirits of the land, beasts, and the dead), or rigidly Lawful polytheists (frequently with rigid ritual taboos).
The Lawful modern religions are in vicious conflict in this age, having split away from one another after defeating the Orientalists’ once very real threat.

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
In cities, stores scattered about various neighborhoods collect the produce of this and other lands. Exotic materials – drugs, spices other than the basics, gunpowder, silk – are the province of specialist merchants, and may be out of stock.
Rurally, most equipment is acquired by barter. Expect to trade a day’s labor for same.
In the Colonies, you wait for a ship or trade with the natives. Getting exactly what you want, on the other hand, is gonna take several months if it’s not right there.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
It depends on the shape of the monster, but if you’re willing to wait a month or two the smiths in the East Mark could make pretty much anything you want, engrave it with tiny hands making obscene gestures, and add the ass of an ostrich to the crest.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
That is the subject of immense, if underground, speculation and intense competition. The “chief alchemist” to the Orange Queen is believed to traffic with powerful daemons, and several Continental men of letters are suspected to be advanced Chaoticians as well.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
“Greatest warrior” means a lot of things to a lot of people; the best General is probably Halat the Tvertian, the best man in hand-to-hand is a Moorish fencer named Venetti the Black, and the best shot is Anne-Marie d’Tours.

Who is the richest person in the land?
Well, it’s someone in a merchant quarter. Probably one of the bankers, likely Italic. They tend to hide their actual wealth, so you never quite know.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Local saints and miracle workers, orders of Knights Hospitalier.

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
The Church covers most of these. You can also attempt to enlist the local Goodwives, whose varied and usually herb/hedge-magic based charms may even work.
Lycanthropy and Polymorph? Good luck. There’s usually a fairy-tale cure condition for it, if you can figure out what it is.
Undeath: Quick bath in holy water or burning at the stake.
Alignment change: Penance, scourging, oaths. Maybe it’ll work. Keep in mind, Alignment is a measure of what supernatural forces are helping you, not your religion; the VAST majority of people are and will stay Neutral.
Death: Try a saint, there’s always a few somewhere.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
Legally? No. See “Johnny Law” and “secret societies” below.

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Make enquiries about town. The local monasteries will always have experts (as long as the king hasn’t confiscated them yet), but they will probably take a dim view of certain questions. The quality and sanity of meddling sages will vary wildly, but apothecaries are a fixture of most towns bigger than a farming hamlet.

Where can I hire mercenaries?
Send a messenger with a letter of introduction to a company commander, or visit one of the many hiring halls and public auctions of mercenary service all over the Continent. Be forewarned, though, if you treat mercs badly you’re not going to hire any but the most desperate and disloyal in the future.

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Every city has a Byzantine layer of sumptuary and arms laws. Open carry of knives and light swords is not only legal, but expected. Concealing guns is usually treated harshly, but professional soldiers and others whose arms are a badge of their profession will need to disarm only in the biggest and most hidebound of cities. Some kingdoms will literally require you to carry a bow or crossbow.
Magic is technically outlawed, but hedge magic is practiced pretty much everywhere as long as you pretend it’s in the name of whatever religion is currently holding sway over the area.
Wearing armor in town is dreadfully out of fashion and generally treated as being prepared to start some shit by the Law. Passing through a town while armored will generally earn you a discrete escort from the guard. If you are planning to start some shit, say in the catacombs, try to stay off the high streets.

Which way to the nearest tavern?
Look up. See that sign? Yeah. There’s another thirty in this quarter alone. Ask a local or you might wind up in a den of thieves or other unsavory place. Also, Ella down the street can’t cook a pie to save her life. Poor girl. Can’t cook, and a face that’d stop a clock. Have I told you about the time she…

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
The Medici. Seriously though, bandits, rogue mercs, and upstart nobles are the most common threats on the Continent, and wiping out any one of them will get you a healthy ransom and a handshake. Maybe even some land.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Pretty much constantly. The entire Continent has been at war for about 130 years now, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Picked a religion? You’ve got a side in the wars.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
Deulists and sword-schools have constant competitions all over the Continent and beyond. A well-known duelist can establish his own school as long as he’s willing to take on the (many) challengers that come with the position.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Thousands. The most prominent are colleges of Magi, frequently using tattoos and secret signs visible only to those with the “evil eye”. There is rumored to be a group of mercenaries manipulating the course of wars all across the Continent for their own profit. Dedicated Secularists are pushing for a world without gods or kings, and the humorously inbred scions of royalty are pursuing their own intrigues across every continent.

What is there to eat around here?
Choose one from each category to be the local specialties. Most of the rest are available, but may be harder to find or badly-prepared.
Meat: Salt beef, smoked pork, sausages, spiced fowl, salt-cod, dried herring, goat, mutton, beans for the really poor.
Cheese: Sloppy, hard, semi-soft; moldy, fresh, white, tinted, salted, marinated
Starch: Bread, hard red wheat or Rye (north), white wheat (south), amaranth or maize (colonies), flatbreads, potatoes (everywhere), Parsnips.
Booze: Beer (anywhere with wheat or rye), aqua vitae, wine, cider, brandy.
Vegetable: pickled cabbage (north), random other brassicae (pretty much everywhere), dried peas, root veg. There’s a lot more variety in the summer and fall.

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
The City of Gold, anything magical, lost swords of dead heroes, and the savages in the Colonies are pretty much dripping with legends about precious metals, magical realms, and the hidden treasuries of damned kings.

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
Dead these hundred years. Now, if you want to knock over someone for it, I hear the Merchant quarters are lovely this time of year. Pray you can get to the border fast enough, and hire a taster. And of course, anything is possible in the Colonies.