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:
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:
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.
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.

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).
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
Easy to work, soft, multi-purpose.

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.

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.


Annotated to show some of the nifty salvageable bits here


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.
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.

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.

What I did this Weekend (Fallout, Crimson Skies, Borderlands)

Re-installed Fallout and Fallout 2 again on Friday (from actual factual disks! Yes, kids, I’m that old..), and spent the weekend in a happy haze blasting mutants. I’m playing with a crapload of patches, of course – raw, the games are playable but lovably buggy (like everything else from Bethesda/Black Isle). You can pick up most of the patches here (link). I recommend the High-res pack, 1.02 official, and 1.03 fan-patch for Fallout, and the “Restoration” mod plus the official patch and the high-res patch for Fallout 2. The restoration patch in particular has made this a much more enjoyable experience for me, what with all the things I haven’t actually played through like 15 times before – although it did bugger up a bit; little girls have been replaced with Mr. Handies. That gave me a bit of a pause: strolling into Klamath Falls the first time, and seeing like six sentry droids running for me demanding candy and hugs. Damned near earned the Child-killer perk a mite early.

On that note, Fallout inflamed my post-apoc gun-fest itch, so I’ve done some more writing on the Guns Guns Guns! Vault-Hunter’s Brochure, finishing off the basic character generation chapter and adding in some more critters to blast. It’s still not ready for release, but another couple of days of work and it’ll be ready for playtesting.

As if I didn’t have enough on the plate, visiting brother #3 (who may be becoming a permanent roommate? Time will tell) has also reignited my raging boner for Crimson Skies. It looks like a perfect candidate for Fantasy Flight’s Flightpath system (read: X-Wing/Attack Wing). Yes, I know there’s already a tabletop system. Two, in fact, but Clix still sucks donkey balls, especially for dogfighting.

Not just for PC and XBox, folks!

Not just for PC and XBox, folks!

But I like the feel of Flightpath. The point-buy system would need slight modification, however, to accommodate the Crimson Skies Ace/Wingman unit structure. I’m thinking certain pilot cards need to be labelled as “wingman” rather than forcing all wingies to be generic. Wingies would give the flight additional abilities, even if they’re not necessarily great buys; “Brooklyn” Betty, for example, could grant an additional evade die to her flight (her constant radio chatter, her own admittedly good piloting skill) despite her abysmal gunnery skills. Nate Zachary (Flight Leader) might get bonuses as long as there’s a female pilot in the sky (lowered evade, boosted attack) because he’s a hot-rodding ladies’ man. So on, so forth. Needs a lot of hashing out, and I need to get ahold of a few more of the plastics (I only have half the plastic airframes available, need a few more to horse around with). Still, I can do a playtest with what I have right now, and it should turn out well.

Borderlands Fan-RPG: Update (Templates and other things)

I had a slow day and a fast muse today. Got a few more pages written, and established a decent-looking format for the chapters.

First, a sample enemy template I worked up. All attributes not listed are held at the standard 2D

Crazed Marauder
Shooty 2D+2 (Bitty, Boring or Sniper skill: 2D+1 (choose 2))
Beef 3D (Brawl 1D, Endurance 1D)
Other skills:
Streetwise 2D, Survival 2D+1, Creatures 1D, Religion (choose) 1D, Salvage 2D, Search 1D, Hide/Sneak 1D.
Special: Crazed Marauders will Charge enemies if wounded, and rarely take Dodge reactions. They gain +1D of Beef, for Brawling damage only, when wounded.
Equipment: 1-2 Pistol, 3-4 SMG, 5 Carbine or AR,  6 sniper rifle. 2 Throwin’ Grenades. No armor, 33% chance of shields. Pants, mask (based on religion), tenuous thread of sanity.

The military descriptions are fleshed-out, and I’m beginning to stat up the new elements – corporate troopers, new and old vehicles, the like. I’ve added a number of DLC events to the timeline (see below). With that, I’m working out reasonable dates for the events described; I’ll be starting on the Borderlands II events and DLCs shortly.
The Timeline so far:

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.

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.

Borderlands PNP Discussion

So this is a thing that happened.
Usual disclaimers apply to anything coming from 4chan. Up to and including an obscene haiku about Zer0.

I’m toying with a D6-derived version, but the idea has merit in general. Other front-runners for a system to hack include DH D100, 4e, and Shadowrun. Now off to work a character sheet.
Only problem I can think of is dealing with the guns, since d6 is so abstract about weapon damages

Update: up to four pages of stuff not counting the basics of good old D6.

Project Log: Pinewood Derby (Gary’s)

So every year Kayce runs a pinewood derby at Gary’s (see sidebar) (Gary’s has since, sadly, closed.) to celebrate her birthday. They’ll post more stuff on the Facebook page later, along with a vote for the prettiest car.
Anyway, this is the first year I participated, finally feeling comfortable enough to try. Bought a standard Woodland Scenics $4 kit with a 2×2 block, some axles, and some wheels.

400 and 600 grit 3M sanding blocks.
Gerber pocket knife
X-acto (#2 blades), razor saw (used to start the hacksaw cuts)
Bargain-bin Hacksaw. I think I got it from Harbor Freight like 6 years ago.
JB Weld “Qwik Wood”
Various Deco Art acrylic paints

Step one: Roughing and carving the block.
Partway through the first cut I belatedly realized that I have a blog, and random people might actually like to see this.
SDC10029This is partway through the first cut. You can see the roughed-out design freehanded with pencil on the side of the block here. It changed a little, of course. This is ~3PM

SDC10030Started whittling.  Don’t worry, I patch that horrid fuck-up in the hood later.
SDC10032Mostly finished with the sanding now. You can see my knife in the top right corner here – had to sharpen the blade 5 times before I was finished.
The kitchen floor in the aftermath… After that, it was bondo time.
Here you can see some of the stuff I was roughing out for the decorations. Unfortunately, none of the pictures I took of this step came out :/

Step two: Detailing and painting.
SDC10037Detailed and basecoated. 2 Reaper Bones kobolds, a Games Workshop Land Raider hatch and Rhino hatch arranged like an Israeli/British turret, part of some weird Dr. Frankenstein diorama I bought ages ago (see the comment below for the post where I finally IDd the damn thing), a shitload of Green Stuff, and an Unseen Rifleman (actually a 1/300 Macross destroid) arm. Chain is from my inexhaustible supply of crappy aluminum quarter-machine jewelry chains, anchored with green stuff. You can tell the thing on the head of the “gunner” kobold was supposed to be a taco hat, because pirate kobolds. This was taken around 7:30 PM.

SDC10040First bascoat layer. After this I went to do other shit for the night (cook dinner, watch Deep Space 9 with my wife, etc); ~8:30 PM.

Day Two: Painting.
Started at 9:45 AM. Had to leave by noon-thirty, so I had to bust ass to get this done.
SDC10043In this shot, the varnish is still wet, ~1205. Unfortunately, it started to frost, and I had to patch it.  Text on left side reads “Luv Waggin” and on the right is a “20” inside a triangle. “JATO” in stencils on the rocket pack on the back.
SDC10050SDC10049The Van De Graff generator on the ass-end. I wonder how bad-ass it would be if it went into the red? :b
Note that the “pirate hat” has now, sadly? devolved into a pompadour, but it’s still sufficiently awesome to require no redo.

SDC10055Finally, a shot of me and the other racers on race day (I won!). Kayce’s Twinkie in the middle, Tim entered the Gandalf wagon to its left. (Entries are arranged in order from first place in the races on the right, to last on the left). There’s still a contest for best-looking racer, which will also go up on the Gary’s facebook page.