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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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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Desk Organization System (DiY)

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

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A Quick Update

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

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

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

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

Transports for Star Trek: Attack Wing (WiP)

So, Attack Wing is one of the better games Star Trek has ever gotten. It’s far from the best simulation, but it certainly scratches the fleet maneuvers itch in a way that ACTA and FASA don’t. Plus it has all-canon ships, post TNG season 1 (where FASA stops) and Animated Series (where ACTA/SFB stop). Yes, its action economy is fucked, and yes, Secondary Weapons are broken. It’s still fun to play, unlike Star Fleet Battles, if you have more than one ship. And let’s be honest, FASA’s non-canon designs are by and large complete shit.
Update: now with 200% more pictures, so you can see what the fuck I’m talking about.

FASA Ambassador top

The FASA Ambassador, designed in the middle of the second season of TNG.

Hey, that doesn’t look so..

FASA Ambassador sideOh Lord. Kill it with fire.
But today’s post isn’t about FASA, nor ADB’s “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” approach to game design. It’s about expanding Attack Wing a little.

Almost all of the STAW scenarios and OP events are based on episodes or movies. This is great if you’re a Federation player, but it eliminates many of the “classic” naval wargame scenarios. We only see a freighter in use a handful of times, for example, and a full-scale convoy attack is basically Right Out. Unless Worf needs to suffer, anyway..
One of the first problems you run up against while making freighters is the maneuver dial. Usually ships are either fast or extremely maneuverable, with Red maneuvers serving as a sort of half-assed choke on your Battleships turning like light cruisers. Freighters, on the other hand, are usually utter pigs. I realized a few days ago that the Mini-Clix dials I talked about in my Proxy Dials post would actually handle them fairly well, since they only have 12 slots.

My current test dial

My current test dial

This puts freighters at a nice, predictable 6″ average move. To put it another way, it’ll take about 5 turns of play (given a standard-sized board and set-up zones) to get a freighter off the other side of the map – or about 3 turns if you start in the middle. So, we’ve got their general piggishness and a basic parameter for the game length set out.

Cargo and Upgrades:
Thematically, Attack Wing is all about the upgrades. With that in mind, transports have a new Upgrade type: <cargo>. Some Cargo is free, others cost SP to field. If the ship successfully disengages as noted in the scenario, you gain extra Victory Points as noted on the card. If your opponent destroys or captures the ship, he gains the VP instead. The Convoy Attack scenario gives the Defender bonus points which must be spent on Transports or Cargo Upgrades (other Upgrades, if available, are paid out of your regular points allowance)

Captains with [Elite Talent] slots may not be assigned to a freighter. Nor may they be assigned any Admirals or Resource cards. Sorry, guys, they know as well as I do that’s a bad idea.

Current tentative cargoes:
Contraband – prevents attack cancelling, high VP award.
Grain – Tribbles are hilariously dangerous. Low VP.
Medical Supplies – “good guy” powers will leave you alone sometimes. Dice roll or Action? Average VP
.
Arms shipment – put a secondary weapon face-down under the card. Discard both during any Attack Step to attack with the weapon at Range 1-2, regardless of the Range printed on the card. Enemy gets the VP if you use it, High VP.
Q-Ship – Moderate SP cost. Adds AD and a shield.  No VP.
Bulk Goods – can discard to ignore a hit or crit, but the enemy gets VP for it. Low VP
Troop Ship – Add a “Boarding Party” to your ship for free, regardless of  the ship’s Upgrade limits. Instead of Discarding the Boarding Party, you Disable it instead. Average VP

===Ships===
All ships have a 90 degree forward arc unless otherwise specified. Most are in the “Light Cruiser” weight range, which means 1-2 Agility and ~3 Hull.

Federation:
Bradford-class tug. 15 SP. 1A/1D/3H/2S; [cargo] x3. “Evasive Action” and “Battle Stations” actions. AKA “Ptolemy”-class. You may notice that this is basically a demilitarized Miranda-class. This is entirely deliberate.

The original, unfinished shooting minature of the Bradford

The original, unfinished shooting miniature of the Bradford

Antares-class drone freighter. 10SP. 0A/2D/2H/2S; [cargo]x1. “Evasive Action”. Special: This card can be used without a Captain, with an effective Skill of 1. Flip over any Critical Damage cards that reference injury to the Captain or crew, and ignore their effects. This ship always ejects the Warp Core in the case of a Warp Core Breach effect.

Ortho shot of the original Antares (there's also a Miranda-class variant of the same name)

Ortho shot of the original Antares (there’s also a Miranda-class variant of the same name)

Klingon:
Heavy Freighter: 22 SP. 2A/0D/3H/3S. [cargo] x2. “Cloak”, “Sensor Echo”, “Target Lock”, “Evasive Action”. 180* Forward arc, no rear. The White 2-Left Turn and 2-Right Turn maneuvers become a Red 3-Left and 3-Right  This is almost a warship. Almost.

tumblr_nap4cjny6H1tch951o1_400

Independent:
Tuffli-Class Transport: 18 SP. 2/1/4/2; [cargo] x3. “Evasive Action”.

Not a Klink heavy frieghter

Not a Klink heavy frieghter. Totally. It’s, like, way bigger you guys.

“Hammerhead” Deep Space Frieghter: 10 SP. 0A/2D/1H/1S. [cargo] x1. “Evasive Action”. (this is Batris’ ship from TSFS).

Christopher Lloyd said blowing this sucker up was one of his favorite parts of his favorite role

Christopher Lloyd said blowing this sucker up was one of his favorite parts of his favorite role

Ferengi:
For 5 SP, you can exchange any of the original Upgrade slots on a Marauder for a [cargo] slot.

Bajoran:
Bajoran Medium Freighter. 15 SP. 1/1/2/3; [cargo] x2. “Evasive Action”.

Shot of the troop transport filming model courtesy of Drex and Greg Jein (used w/o permission and all that)

Shot of the troop transport filming model courtesy of Drex and Greg Jein (used w/o permission and all that)

You may notice that Wizkids  fucked up, and labeled the transport as a fighter. The Bajoran  fighter looks like this:

same source as above

same source as above

Dominion (Cardassian):
The Dominion can use the Tuffli-class, or the Bajoran Transport, without Faction Penalties.

Still working on a Romulan option.
I’m open to comments or suggestions, so let me know whatcha think.

Images used without permission for the Fair Use purpose of education and review.

My apologies for waiting so long to update.

I’ve been struggling to come to terms with a major change in my health, and several family tragedies of varying scope. I just haven’t had the resources, mental or physical, to deal with the net for a while.
Regardless, my Battletech project is ongoing. Johnny Clavell’s Rifleman is basecoated, and I’ve got the minis chosen and basecoated for the Haseks, Santander’s Killers, and the Black Widows. Pics when I’ve got something worth showing off.

I’ve also been drawn in by Star Trek Attack Wing. Why do I always have to fall in love with the unsupported games? :b
The system’s got flaws, most glaringly in its field-of-fire rules and blatant Federation favoritism (although I suspect that’s Paramount’s fault – I have a whooole rant on that that’s fodder for another post). Still, based on my playtests it runs fast and fun, and it’s nowhere near as shitty as the Clix game (nor as abandoned as ACTA..). Cash and time permitting, I should be able to get into the tournament the LGS is having in two weeks. Here’s hoping for a Saber and a Constellation
I’ve also been rebuilding/painting/mounting Clix models, and kitbashing some of the more obscure Feddie ships together for my own purposes. I also have a master-list of the Trek ships and the wargame systems which have rules for them, with some proxy suggestions. That goes up once I’m done transferring it from my meatspace clipboard and clean it up a little. Finally, I’m in the middle of a comparative photoset of two Miranda-class Light Cruisers, one basecoated black and one white. Intermediate steps will go up on my tumblr.

To sum up: Life has sucked recently, but I’m sick of letting that run my life. Time to start moving forward again.

Even if that will be on crutches for the foreseeable future.

Folio update # whatever.

As per usual, work has devoured the last few days of the month. On the bright side, that left me with a couple hundred unexpected bucks, so there’s that. Probably wind up spending it on bills, sed, vitam est.
Anyway, spent my evenings and breaks reading up on the witch-panics in North America, along with editing the folio. I’m just now finishing the formatting/rewording/art choices for the third-level spells, and it’s pushing 100 B5 pages. Open Content + illustrated with public-domain woodcuts (largely Johannes Gerts’ Northern Gods with a side of anonymous fashion pics) = the proverbial win, I believe. I’m also listing the names of the Lamentations spells that aren’t OC in the indices with source links so you can at least hunt them up. I need to check with Mr Raggi at some point to verify exactly what’s open and what’s PI elsewhere, but that’s a project for next month.

On that note – Sakuracon is in mid-April, and I’m also hitting up Emerald City Comicon (more Trek actors than you can shake a stick at, plus custom fantasy legos? I’m there). Literally nothing is going to get done on the gaming front before I discharge my rather extensive responsibilities to the con, so if I don’t have this thing uploaded by Sunday next it’s probably not going to go up until after Easter. All the more motivation to finish now, eh?

Craft Fair Aftermath

Didn’t manage to sell my book, but the wife sold off essentially her entire inventory, and I used some calligraphy to barter for goods. Then we got free bookcases on the way home, so hey. $60.

The finished product

The finished product

IMG_20131204_080850_149 IMG_20131204_080916_511Vinyl cover, hemp thread, and Japanese rice endpapers. Not bad for a first effort, I think.

IMG_20131204_160256_118Our table, after the stampeding hordes made off with all our finished offensive cross-stitch. I embroidered “be a dick” on the Wheaton’s Law patch, which I found somewhat ironic.
IMG_20131204_160317_425My wife briefly abandoned me at the table.
In the Student activities building of an extremely progressive college.
With gigantic, framed cross-stitches of an uncomplimentary Saxon word for a latrine and/or female genitals, of a short tube for the conveyance of fluids, designatory terms for female dogs, and various other “helpful” things.
I instantly became the Gingery White Male Oppressor.
The sign deflected most of the filthy stares once people actually read it..

The highlight was the aged Yiddish woman who bought all the dirty words on the table and snapped up the rest as fast as we could sew them.

I have made an art (project)

IMG_20131204_031023_332 Glue’s still setting but she looks darned good if I say so myself. Will put the final touches on it tomorrow morning, and case the other two text blocks I’ve finished. With any luck, this might be my second project to actually break even!

Busy Busy Binder (project)

Today I rigged up a bookbinding press and glued my second text block ever. As usual, I’ll be doing a more detailed “how-to” once I get the process down better. I’m testing several methods, focusing on 15th-16th century binding, as part of the folio project I mentioned earlier.IMG_20131202_170323_704Items (costs included), clockwise from upper left, top to bottom:
3m Sanding Sponge, 400 grit ($2.99) – I use this for modeling and various other things as well.
Fiskars 5″x9″ guillotine paper trimmer, ($10 on sale at Michaels)
Outdoor-rated Mod-Podge ($6.50, same)
Jute twine, various weights, and waxed leather thread [the black spool at the bottom] ($5 all told, left over from a leatherworking project)
Rubber mallet, 2# ($1.5 at Daiso Japan, a hundred-yen store in Seattle)
Ruler (45 c)
Standard safety razor blade ($1/pkg 5, Ace hardware)
Linen bias tape ($2, Jo-Ann’s, sale)
Bone Folder ($6, Dick Blick)
Folding Japanese-style saw ($9, Home Depot, bought for camping) note: Japanese saws cut on both the draw and push stroke – this isn’t just me being a weeaboo.
Awl ($1.50, another leftover leatherworking tool from Daiso)
Ghetto bookbinding press  – 2x  2″x1″ C clamps (local hardware store, $3.50 each) and a couple 9″x1″x1/2″ strips of maple, which were left over from a prop project. I’ll give it feet later.

This setup lets me bind books roughly B4-6 and A4-6, which suits me fine. Total cost is ~$50, which means 5 books at $10 to break even. Should be doable in theory, but the craft fair is in 2 days. Wheeee!

A Productive Day (Battletech, Sculpting WiP, rust reference photos)

Well, after fiddling with that pen, I felt the need for some sculpting. My long-running Longbow/Spartan project is one layer closer to completion, and I’ve begun taking a miscast Hunchback from my Battletech Intro Boxed Set and turning it into a “Swayback” variant – in this case, the twin LRM-10/quint Medium Laser HBK-4J. Click to embiggen all photos – the knife shots below are quite large for reference purposesLongbow WiP 08 Oct 2013 - Hunchback
Then I went out to make dinner. Turns out a bottle of vinegar-based salad dressing had overturned onto my carbon-steel meat cleaver.
You may know what acid does when exposed to good steel.
I had the presence of mind to photograph it, as this is pretty much what a good bloodstain that’s been ignored will do to a sword/cleaver/knife. Commentary in the captions

Left side of blade, with a quick wipe to remove the pooled vinegar.

Left side of blade, with a quick wipe to remove the pooled vinegar.

Note the grainy texture of the corrosion on the right side, and the ring of corrosion around a nearly untouched center at the top of the blade (if there’s no contact with oxygen, the blade can’t rust – that’s why you oil weapons)

Right side, again after a quick wipe

Right side, again after a quick wipe

This side didn’t get it nearly as bad. Again, though, notice the texturing and contours of the corrosion around the clean areas of the blade.
IMG_20131008_191945_515IMG_20131008_191936_898

Here’s the blade after a scrub with paper towels, but before I scoured and re-seasoned it. This is what hastily wiped-off blood would look like if you let it sit in a corner somewhere. Also, note the color changes as the oil scrub absorbed the majority of the “fresher” light orange oxides on the damaged parts of the blade. The corrosion’s almost black underneath, building though thicker browns to a powdery, newer orange.

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.

Remaining:
Quirks
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.

LotFP Playtest rules: Firearms

Got tired of waiting on Jim, and my brother and I are both setting up games with them in – he in the death of the Middle Ages, me in the age of Colonialism. Because what good is a Colonial game where you can’t trade guns to the natives?
Keep in mind, these are a rough-out playtest draft. It also adds onto the rules for bows and crossbows: it makes a high-STR fighter devastating with a custom-crafted longbow, but a high-dex Halfling with a heavy crossbow or anyone with a gun will give him a very good run for his money.
If the damage seems a little low to you, remember that these will reliably kill 2nd-level characters and even 0-level dwarves in a single hit. And as someone who’s killed a boar with modern firearms, “angry” game with multiple hit dice is hard to take down; I know a man who took 12 bullets and not only lived, but pistol-whipped the guy who shot him with his own gun.

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Playtest firearm rules. These rules assume an ascending AC, 5-save system, and are loosely based on the crossbow rules from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. They are intended to cover (very roughly) the period from the late middle ages to mid-19th century.

When using bows, if a character has a -STR modifier, the target’s armor class is improved by that amount. Bows otherwise ignore 1 point of AC per point of STR modifier of the targeting character. Light crossbows have an effective STR of 16 (-2 AC). Heavy crossbows have an effective STR of 19 (-4 AC). Light guns, such as pistols and blunderbusses, have an effective STR of 19 (-4 AC): heavy guns like muskets and hand-gonnes have 22 effective STR (-5 AC). Cannon ignore armor completely, but suffer a -10 to-hit any target smaller than a house. Pellet bows and slings DO NOT ignore armor in any way.

Bows are typically made to accommodate a STR 10-12 character; a custom-made bow can be had for a small premium. Short bows, however, cannot be made heavier than STR 16. When using a bow heavier than they can normally draw, characters suffer a -1 to-hit per 2 points of STR required above their own. There is no bonus for using a lighter bow.
Any crossbow may be quick-drawn as a move action on a successful opposed STR check. Failure may result in injury to the character or bow, and drawing the bow cannot be attempted again that turn.
All blackpowder guns may be fired only once per combat, unless the character can somehow find a way to spend the better part of a minute doing delicate, fiddly work that requires their full concentration (IE, withdraw from combat for 6 rounds to reload).
Historical note: There were a tiny handful of faster-loading guns in the late middle ages (the cartridge was actually invented sometime near the turn of the fifteenth century, albeit as a set of hand-forged removable breeches), but these are expensive, vanishingly rare, and frequently extremely unsafe.

Pistols do 1d8 damage, long guns like muskets or handgonnes 1d12, and blunderbusses 2d6 (2d4 with improvised ammo). Cannon balls instantly kill any character hit unless they successfully save vs. poison: on a successful save, the character is reduced to 0 HP, possibly maimed. Grapeshot does very bad things to a moderate area. The cannon suffers only a -5 to-hit using shot, and anyone within 10 feet of the target is also hit on a successful shot. For damage, use multiple dice based on the size of the gun (a typical light field gonne would be around 3D6, a full-on 12lb cannon more like 5 to 6 D6); cover reduces the rolled damage by its miss percentage, and characters may make a further save vs. Breath Weapon to halve that damage.
Use your own discretion as to what category a given weapon falls under, and don’t hesitate to increase or decrease the damage dice based on the individual weapon, your needs, and possibly the use of fell magics.

Most guns run the risk of deafening the user in enclosed spaces; save vs. Paralysis or go deaf for 1d6 turns when firing in these circumstances. Make an immediate Morale check – AND Wandering Monster check, if applicable – when a gun is first fired in combat. Most natural animals will spook instantly when fired upon, making hunting harder but potentially more rewarding. When hunting, a gunner expends only 1d3 ammunition per roll, but must roll 2 dice against his fieldcraft skill and take the worst. If the roll succeeds and the dice come up doubles, the party gains that many HD worth of additional meat.

UPDATE: Tacking on a Pistol
A small-caliber pistol may be built into virtually anything. They do 1d4 damage, but take the normal amount of time to reload. They may well wind up costing several times the amount a regular pistol would, however, and are usually more fragile and prone to misfire. Still, the Morale checks and ability to conceal the gun can be worth the expense.

Fortuna Favet Paratibus

Fortuna Favet Paratibus

While making an exhaustive list of rules for each type of available gun would be silly, here’s some basics to consider when you’re choosing what technology your world will use. Disadvantages are in normal type, advantages in italics. They are listed in rough chronological order.

No Lock: must be hand-lit, distracting, requires matches (and thus their stink/light, expends matches, useless in rain) or a fuse, hard to aim when it’s not on a trunnion, exposed touch-hole, high accidental discharge risk, higher risk of explosive failure/operator injury. Extremely simple design, cheap to make, and reliable ignition. First available guns. A fuse and a clay packed touch-hole resolve most ignition issues. Only real option for cannon for most of history. Requires only matches or fuse, shot, and powder to function.

Matchlock: Produces stench and light when prepped, useless in rain, exposed touch-hole, matches burn down (consumes 1 match per hour lit and prepped). Accidental discharge risk from most flame sources (or igniting a match attached to the gun). Simple and robust system; cheap and easily-made. Relatively easy to re-cock. Allowed triggers for guns.
Note that, contrary to popular opinion, matchlock pistols did exist, they just sucked.
benno_pistol600

Wheel-lock: delicate, temperamental, most designs useless in rain, v. expensive. Unreliable ignition, requiring reprime and rewind for a flash-in-the-pan. Very slow load/reload process. Requires spare pyrites (it goes through them very quickly) and a key or crank, can only be repaired by a watchmaker or equivalent. Silent and scentless until triggered, and can be carried loaded and wound without fear of accidental discharge. Can be carried on a horse. First lock design actually suitable for pistols.
There’s a reason these bitches cost 7+ times what a matchlock does
Gold-chased double-barreled wheel lock
Flintlock: Late origins in real world. Still can’t usually be safely fired in the rain, but it will work in the damp. May squib. Requires spare flints, but few other non-ammo consumables. Requires some precision metalwork, as well as screws. Requires less maintenance and can fire more times than a wheelie before needing an overhaul. Can still be carried loaded relatively safely. Compact and silent/scentless before discharge. Can be swiftly reprimed and re-cocked if the flash-pan squibs. The first revolvers (in the 1620s..) were flintlocks, but required insane levels of metalwork.
1299004067179Other attempts at multishot flintlocks were.. less successful.
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Percussion Lock: Very late development. Requires small, fiddly caps, making combat reloads stay annoying. Requires some precision metalwork, but not nearly as bad as the other locks. Virtually immune to rain or damp on first shot, although reloads in the rain still aren’t happening. No flashpan, so no priming and more reliable ignition. Made true semi-automatic weapons practical. Very robust ignition system, with few moving parts; losing the cap, or accidental discharge from keeping the hammer down on a cap, while jostling it are your worst problems..
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Air Rifle (yes, they existed, and yes, they were lethal): Mid-late colonial period. Lower damage (still enough to kill a man, though – the Austrian Army and Lewis and Clark both used them to good effect), air reservoir is delicate and slowly leaks. Cannot be used as a melee weapon. Requires water, shot, and leather gaskets to function, and reloading after the reservoir is empty takes a long time (up to 10 minutes). Accurate, rifled. Bolt-action, repeating weapon with as many as 30 shots per reservoir of air and a 20-round magazine. Comparatively, it’s very quiet – about as loud as a suppressed .308 – and produces no smoke. No powder or fire required. Gunners can carry additional loaded reservoirs.

Projects pending

4 signatures punched for a mini-book binding test run. Still need some scrap cloth for the covers. Once I get the system down I’ll do a couple octavos of the art-free LotFP books with interior design fabric and wood-braced covers. Should be fun! (The mini-books are being used for a second project that I’m still working on)

Also, I got wood (hurrhurr) to throw together a couple of prop weapons. I figure with S-con coming up, I can advertise for that bespoke prop-making service I’ve been bullshitting about for – Lord, like 8 years now. Now that I’ve got the casting tools and expertise, it’ll be even easier.

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.

Tools:
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”
Hammer
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.
SDC10031
The kitchen floor in the aftermath… After that, it was bondo time.
SDC10036
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 :/
~5PM

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.

Resolution progress

Total so far:
5 pages, tabletop wargame (this has been on hiatus for about, oh, 4 years or so. Feels good to get back in the saddle, but I still have the hardest part to go before alpha).
11 pages, D&D/LotFP module (this one’s bleeding into a megadungeon already..)
3 pages, D&D/LotFP monsters
2 pages, miscellaneous musings
Plus various errata notes for the new BT releases.

So far, so good. I’m polishing an essay from last year right now, which I’ll be posting (in two parts?) later. It is, of course, long-winded and pontificatory.

The Butcher

This is what happens when I’m allowed to have an Atlas, plasticard, and rum at the same time.
Needs work on the RT Hazard stripes, cleaver handle, feet, and one more “depth” ink coat before I highlight and seal it. Oh, and redo the “cigar” flamer, the last one looked like ass and I had to pull it. Anti red-eye wrecked some of the highlights, alas.

Runs at almost 70 KPH, flies, breathes fire, shoots lightning from its crotch, does over 70 damage at point-blank range (and can literally carve anything under 45 tons in half, breaching anything <60t, with one cleaver hit to the CT), can continue to balance TSM heat even with half the ‘Mech shot off, and mounts a staggering 19 tons of armor.

Mold experimentation, day 2

Mold 1, side 3 cont:
Demold @ 10h. Mold firm and clean. Part corroded by acetic acid release from RTV.
Mold release failed. If it weren’t for a slight difference in texture and hardness between the molds and the amount of time I spent cleaning up mold side 2 last night, this would be a total loss. As it is, I had to carve apart the mold sides with an exacto.
Detail looks sharp, if dirty,and I think I’ll go for a test run tonight. SDC10017Edit: cast part. Two air bubbles have wrecked it, but the detail is top-notch.