Saturday, 27 February 2010

Pirates of the Uncharted Seas

Stop tutting it was this or some old bugger with scrofula and none of his own teeth.

DaveO, von Mike, Big Al and I tried out our unholy Pirates of the Spanish Main/Uncharted Seas mash-up last night. Describing it as some form of hybrid, fusion mash-up is perhaps a bit rich, we actually just played Uncharted Seas with PotsM ships since I'm the only one with Uncharted Seas models and one fleet doesn't go far between four players.

I simply acquired two card decks for the Imperial Humans fleets and we set to it, reproducing four "starter" Imperial Human fleets of one Battleship, three Cruisers and six Frigates apiece.

von Mike and I lost seven or eight ships to magazine explosions - and to add insult to injury none of the magazines were ours. Uncharted Seas has a truly spiteful entry on the Critical Hit table being the infamous magazine explosion which destroys the ship and then rolls Hull Points x 2 shots at everything with 8" - effectively a point blank broadside on every target. The critical comes up on a double one so shouldn't happen very often, but we did two to DaveO and Big Al's fleet and they used the wonderfully named "From Hell's Heart I Stab At Thee" card to turn any critical they take into a double one - so they suicided a Cruiser just to do it all over again for the lulz.

My face when the bastards played that card and did another three of our ships.

(It's actually a Herman Melville quote BTW)

Not so much a case of "something wrong with our bloody ships today" as "something wrong with their bloody ships today".

So after that things went pretty much as might be expected. Good fun though and looks like Pirates of the Uncharted Seas will be played in this fashion again in the future.

That's another game for the 2010 list along with another two sessions of 40k Combat Patrol (one at Stourbridge, one at Stewey's) that I frankly haven't been bothered to blog about.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Miniatures? Ja, Bitte!

OK, I know that in the last post I said that miniatures were the cheesy helmet scrapings of the Devil and the root of all evil for knocking my imagination out of it's groove during RPG sessions. All true but for this post Coop has his wargamer's hat on. It's a white beanie from River Island BTW...

These were groundworked today and photographed pretty much straight away. They are a 20-strong unit of Night Goblin spearmen from the Warhammer "Battle For Skull Pass" set, purchased on Saturday, assembled and painted on Sunday so mark the fastest and most productive day of painting I've ever done, the only time I've ever managed to put a wargames unit of this sort of size together in one day.

Much like the bone-idle painting style adopted for the Silver Skulls Space Fascists a couple of weeks ago, production of these was sped up immensely by the fact that all the grey is simply the grey the models came in, washed with Miracle Dip. The blue faces that a few of the Goblins have are inspired by the 40K Orcs with the blue face-paint (Death Skulls clan I think) but I don't think it's obvious enough in the finished article.

Miniatures? Nein, Danke!

Squidman over at Elves Ate My Homework has a post about how he is being tempted to introduce miniatures into his RPGs. This reminded me of something that I have mentioned on the intertubes before (Frothers probably) about how, despite being a huge fan of toy soldiers, I really, really, really hate using them in RPGs. And increasingly it seems I am in the minority. :)

I have always found that when using figures in RPGs the better painted they were and the nicer the floor plans, the more the visual side took over and ruined the picture you had in your minds eye.

I once played in a one off WFRP game where the GM had a big collection of well-painted (well... well-painted for 1991 that is) figures, card tiles, 3d scenic items (he'd really gone to town) and it was impossible to picture the "reality" as being anything other than the diorama laid out in front of you. This really jarred when the GM had to say things like "these Orcs are actually Skaven". I could not see them as being anything over the Orc miniatures in front of us, painted in those colours.

At one point we reached a cavern with a Red Dragon (I know this doesn't sound very WFRP - the game was really a traditional xD&D dungeon bash but WFRP rules were used because the GM liked them) and the GM laid down a card floortile of a cavern floor with a firepit in the middle. "There's a Red Dragon here", he said, "and that firepit isn't."

Completely could not see the scene in my mind's eye.

Conversely in an AD&D 2nd edition campaign I was in for a bit, the GM sketched out everything in green dry-erase marker on half a hollow core interior door (glossy white) and we used all sorts of rubbish to depict PCs and NPCs or just X-marks-the-spot in more green marker. Strangely I always found my imagination to be really sparked off by this, perhaps because there was nothing to hijack my mental image.

Another memorable RPG experience was in a game of Stormbringer at Wolves Uni RPG Soc when we were trying to create a diversion in a marketplace. I have no idea how we came up with the idea but we asked the GM if there was a pet stall selling exotic birds. The idea was to distract the owners attention, release the birds and use the chaos to achieve whatever aim it was we were trying for. Running with the idea (as all good GMs should do) the marketplace was improvised on a piece of A4 paper in blue biro, little scribbles showed where everybody was. I got really taken by the scene and could see the marketplace explode in a riot of tropical plumage because nothing was in the way. With figures I just wouldn't have found myself so lost in the immersion that makes RPGs such a fantastic pastime.

That's why I stopped using figures in my RPG sessions. If the scene on the table doesn't match the intended scene 100% - I've lost it.

These pics I see around the forums of people gaming with the truly horrible WOTC D&D Miniatures, all crappy factory painting and crappy plastic on awful plain black bases just turn me off big time. It would spoil a game for me, but swop them for bottle tops and I'll be there with my dice bag eager to play.

(For the record - the pic is of the first Citadel Miniatures I owned that were a Christmas present alongside the Mentzer Red Box set. They too ended up being dropped from Basic D&D games and were absorbed into Warhammer stuff).

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Hypogeum Dungeon Dressing Tables

These are the first two random tables of dungeon dressing for the Hypogeum dungeon. My idea is that for a lot of the corridors and obligatory “one third empty” rooms, I can quickly stock dungeon levels by just referring to a table number and entry on the list, so that a certain room can be marked up as being 1/86 and I know that it refers to the 86th entry on Table 1. Further details can just be winged on the fly.

Hopefully you can find some bits in here you wish to rip off for your own use.

A couple of explanatory notes of terms used:

NECRON WALLS are great black, glossy ceramic blocks, 3' or so across. Walls, floor and ceiling the same. Recessed runes (unreadable), often decorative touches such as architrave. Periodically green sparks flash and run through along gaps between block at random, outlining blocks, lighting runes momentarily and fizzling out. These are inspired visually by the futuristic dungeons found in Final Fantasy X and the inner regions of Laputa in the Studio Ghibli film Laputa : Castle In The Sky (favoured comfort viewing in Coop Towers).

NECRON CARCASSES - Describe as gunmetal suits of armour for a humanoid race, impossibly thin in the abdomen and jaw. Stylised skull helmets. Don't say the word "Necron". Ever.

DAKONS – Intelligent ape-men from the Fiend Folio, planned on being a PC race because it's a novelty and because a commenter made a link between them and the Jokaero that I hadn't consciously noticed.

TABLE 1 - d100

01 - 2d6 dead rats
02 - Wall blends into "Necron Walls", cracked with single Necron Carcass hanging out.
03 - Shallow pool of black water
04 - Much of room covered with "Tyranid" style, bio-matter actually a harmless parasite that leeches carbonic acid from limestone.
05 - Half an adventurer, top half
06 - Half an adventurer, bottom half
07 - Blocked and choked fireplace
08 - Floor strewn with thousands of tiny rodent skeletons
09 - Huge laser scar on wall
10 - Subsidence - room/corridor sags dramatically in middle
11 - Broken ceiling - need to squeeze through
12 - Staircase in Necron Wall-style. Upwards
13 - Staircase in Necron Wall-style. Downwards
14 - Staircase in Necron Wall-Style. Upwards then Downwards
15 - Staircase in Necron Wall-Style. Downwards then Upwards
16 - Broken furniture
17 - Knockers. Rapping noise leading along walls. 50% lead to nearest treasure, 50% to nearest trap
18 - Paralysis poison on small spike in concealed recess on floor. 1 in 6 to tread on, d3 damage, Save vs. Paralysis or paralysed for 2d6 Turns.
19 - Mould
20 – Tunnel subsided so much that rotated through 45 degrees so as easy to walk on wall as it is floor. For room, subsided so much that access to a connecting tunnel room is only via a narrow crawlspace near the rest position of the ceiling.
21 - Gnawed ribcage, human
22 - Giant snakeskin, 6' long
23 - Jawbone of Land Lamprey
24 - Broken Necron propped up in corner between wall and floor
25 - Necron "helmet" on rusty spike
26 - Wall appear to have trapped souls in it - resembles in Han Solo in carbonite - harmless.
27 - Water pouring from ceiling, exiting through broken floor
28 - Green sludge pouring from ceiling, exiting through broken floor
29 - Flooded, blocked drain
30 - Floor missing, 10' drop. Bridged with petrified wood planks
31 - Floor missing, bottomless drop. Bridged with petrified wood planks
32 - Stalactites, damp floor.
33 - Stalactites and Stalagmites, 'mites formed around ancient human skeletons
34 - Stalactites and Stalagmites, 'mites formed around Necron carcasses
35 - Silted up
36 - Old camp-fire
37 - Cracked and scratched bowling ball
38 - Flayed human skins nailed to wall
39 - Archway carved to represent screaming mouth of human female face
40 - Archway carved to represent open mouth of human baby face
41 - Archway carved to represent open mouth of Necron "helmet"
42 - Slab room - great flakes of ceiling material cracked off and scattered on floor
43 - Door that comes off hinges as soon as touched
44 - Fire damaged backpack
45 - Empty pouch (Bag of Holding)
46 - Fortean weather - snow on floor with no possible way of getting here.
47 - All stone is mysteriously warm to the touch
48 - Strange humming sound that cannot be traced to source
49 - Petroleum smell
50 - Confusing echo
51 - Torches flicker - bad air
52 - Some form of machine has exploded here - metal shrapnel and damaged, rusty gears everywhere
53 - Front half of Iron Maiden, rusty and corroded
54 - Rear half of Iron Maiden, rusty and corroded
55 - Shelving stacked with Necron arms
56 - Shelving stacked with Necron legs
57 - Shelving stacked with Necron breastplates
58 - Metal grate in ceiling with rusty chain hanging from it
59 - Scorched footprints, carbon
60 - Mild tremor from below
61 - Lurid coloured fungi/mushrooms (harmless)
62 - Luminescent fungi/mushrooms (harmless)
63 - Ceiling supported with wooden pit props
64 - Donkey or mule skeleton
65 - Blood-stained bandages
66 - Very uneven floor
67 - Damaged wall leans inwards
68 - Floor strewn with dry beetle husks
69 - Dead cow
70 - Dead cow, mutilated
71 - Snails
72 - Tunnel cross-section is round, not square/rectangular. If room, spherical instead
73 - Sloping floor
74 - Sloping ceiling, less head-room at one end than the other
75 - Last door PCs used closes and locks solidly shut
76 - Random door swings open (just the breeze)
77 - Dust slowly falls from cracks in ceiling
78 - Illegible brass plaque on wall
79 - Broken floor revealing pit rammed with slithering earthworms of unnatural size
80 - Mass of flies
81 - Ceiling too low to stand up in
82 - Mysterious laughter with no apparent source
83 - Platemailed skeleton in large puddle - armour turned entirely to rust
84 - Torrent of water through broken ceiling
85 - Shelves used as catacombs for mummified human skeletons
86 - Fallen iron chandelier
87 - Walls whitewashed
88 - Dried entrails hung on walls
89 - Floor painted red-brown
90 - Y-shaped stick. If taken and backpacked away will be broken when PC reaches for it
91 - Dried up fountain
92 - Two human skeletons staked to floor with rusty iron spikes through ribcage
93 - Rotting tapestries - Necron themed
94 - Rotting wallpaper
95 - Shattered longcase/Grandfather clock
96 - Rusted candle-holders lining wall
97 - Missing block in floor, leads to next level
98 - Missing block in floor, small insect lair at bottom
99 - Missing block in floor, flooded to depth of 12"
00 - d6 rolls on this table

TABLE 2 – d100
01 – Bright green moss covers most surfaces
02 – Incongruous bright, pretty flowers
03 – Shift in Earth's crust – floor level has slipped, 2d6' (will be on fault line across entire dungeon level map)
04 - “Necron Walls” raised slab(s) in centre of room
05 – Floor is “Necron Walls”, walls and ceiling match rest of dungeon's immediate environment
06 - Ceiling is “Necron Walls”, walls and floor match rest of dungeon's immediate environment
07 – Walls are “Necron Walls”, ceiling and floor match rest of dungeon's immediate environment
08 – Fluorescent paint splashed around area
09 – Crustacean shells
10 – Marine life fossils in rock surfaces
11 – Black “Necron Walls” spikes protruding from ceiling
12 – Rusty metal décor
13 – Rusty metal décor with dried blood and other filth
14 – Rusty chain
15 – Ash-filled braziers
16 – Skeleton impaled on spike trap
17 – Cobwebs, black
18 – Brief glimpse of ghostly figure
19 – Sounds of drums starts from random direction, slowly fades away
20 – Tunnel cross-section is hexagonal. For room, walls have 60 degree kink in them, floor and ceiling are bottom and top face of hexagonal shape.
21 – Rockfall/Subsidence creates tiny squeeze (narrowed horizontally, vertically unaffected). One PC through at a time
22 – Evidence of large-scale destructive fire in tunnel or room
23 – “Necron Walls” all surfaces with sickly green lights set in ceiling
24 - “Necron Walls” all surfaces with sickly green lights set in floor
25 - “Necron Walls” all surfaces with sickly green lights set in walls
26 – Large, dead crab - all soft matter rotted away
27 – Abandoned wasp's nest – normal size or giant.
28 – Dead flies
29 – Evidence of archery “shootout” - arrows stuck in cracks in all surfaces and scattered on floor
30 – Slippery ceramic floor, black glossy surface shot through with green.
31- Natural rockface, broken away in great chunks to reveal “Necron Walls” beyond.
32 – Small fragments of Necron “armour”.
33 – 3d6 gold pieces, fused and melted by some great heat.
34 – Human skull pierced by broken spear
35 – Human skull covered in moss
36 – Colony of bats, floor covered in guano
37 – Floor carved to resemble giant Necron face
38 – Ceiling carved to resemble giant Necron face looking menacingly down at party.
39 – Tunnel is actually a crawlspace, room of similar “must get on all fours” height.
40 - “Necron Walls”, slopes downwards
41 - “Necron Walls”, slopes upwards
42 – Dakon skeleton with spear
43 – Rubble strewn – rockfall
44 – Rubble strewn – building materials
45 – Rubble strewn - “Necron Walls”
46 – Elf/Eldar skeleton, chained up in thick chains, now rusty solidified mass
47 – Unpleasant, but otherwise harmless, stinking gas
48 – Slime or sludge over all surfaces
49 – Some flagstones in floor missing, sand beneath.
50 – Two normal dice
51 – Dust falling from cracks in ceiling/between flagstones
52 – Rotten door, left propped up against wall
53 – Slugs
54 – Sawdust
55 – Flagstones carved with letters/runes
56 – Shattered clockwork mechanism
57 – Shattered steam-powered mechanism
58 – Shattered circuit boards
59 – Filthy puddle
60 – Mushrooms with human-like faces on stems
61 – Fireflies
62 – Mysterious haze
63 – Ticking noise
64 – Sickly, sweet smell
65 – Ash-filled firepit
66 – Many broken storage units (shelves, cupboards etc.)
67 – Sleeping furs
68 – Dead Giant stuffed into corridor, completely blocks it
69 – Dead tree roots protruding through ceiling
70 – Acid-damaged human skeleton
71 – Dakon heads on spikes
72 – Petrified subterranean tree
73 – Church organ, vandalised
74 – Urine smell
75 – Grafitti on wall, written in blood
76 – Floor scattered with twigs
77 – Creaking floor
78 – Creaking ceiling
79 – Drum beats from deep below
80 – Sound of scraping metal
81 – Skeletons of tiny hominids
82 – “Ancient astronaut” wall carvings
83 – Very fragile and ancient remnants of “Ancient astronaut” spacesuit
84 – Stashed potion
85 – Stashed rations
86 – Large white worms
87 – Amphisbaeana skeleton (two-headed snake)
88 – Door hanging off hinges
89 – Collapsed doorway – rubble choked
90 – Hand of glory with extinguished candle
91 – Human skeleton, crucified on wall/door
92 – Tortoise shell
93 -Ceiling sags so much that party must crawl underneath
94 – Rocks fall, nobody dies.
95 - Dead cat
96 – Piles of tarpaulins
97 – Thousands of pottery fragments
98 - “Necron Walls” flickering with half-glimpsed images of Necrons at war
99 – Dropped compass or lodestone, completely misreads N.
00 – d6 rolls on this table

I have an OpenOffice document with these tables and the start of a third - when inspiration runs out and I regard it as finished I'll realise it as a PDF.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Lightspeed Painting

I may have mentioned before that after painting a complete army of Crimson Fists Space Fascists in 6mm for Future War Commander and then going on to paint another complete army of Crimson Fists Space Fascists in 28mm for Warhammer 40K Combat Patrol I'm now completely sick of the sight of Citadel Enchanted Blue. I hate the colour with a passion, everything from it's sheen, to it's garish hue when dry even down to way it flows out of the pot. Please just take it away out of my sight.

So, I decided that, even if it was just the one squad, next time I painted some more 40K Marines it would be an allied squad from another chapter.

I knew silver works well with the Miracle Dip method that I use so I thought about doing the old Silver Skulls chapter from Rogue Trader circa 1987. There are plenty of small skull decals in my waterslide collection so chapter iconography wouldn't be a problem.

Back in the days when all Marines were Angry Marines...

For experimental purposes I have a bunch of the old Grenadier Space Rangers figures, both an original box where the figures are cast in a repulsive purple plastic with hexagonal bases and the newer re-releases by EM4Miniatures in silver plastic with more conventional round bases. I had a go over this weekend at painting one up as an experiment.

I started slapping Citadel Mithril Silver on the model but quickly noticed that the paint and the EM4Miniatures plastic are identically coloured - to the point where I couldn't tell where I had applied any of the paint. A lightbulb went off above my head.

So I tried out just painting the visor (red) and the old school helmet stripe (black), along with a red panel on the bolt gun and it's laser sight. Quickly threw a wash of the Miracle Dip over it and it looked fantastic. Added a small skull waterslide from the box of waterslides I have, dotted white on the visor, red panel and laser sight and slapped over another quick coat of Citadel 'ardcoat Gloss Varnish. Fantastic finish.

Decided to knock the rest of the EM4Miniatures re-releases up and each stage of producing a Devastator squad took about 2 or 3 minutes. There is a bit more painting on the Sgt. and two heavy weapons Brothers but the regular "bolt gun" Brothers are literally a flash of red and a stripe of black on bare plastic. I put a waterslide and couple of tiny white highlights after the Miracle Dip stage in order to prevent them being muted by the wash.

I think the groundworking, simple though it is, took longer to do than the model it frames.

The absolute fastest wargames unit I've ever painted (well, that I'd be prepared to show in public that is) and a quick and easy 182 points towards a 400 point Combat Patrol. Seven Marines, Sergeant with Pistol and Close Combat Weapon upgrade, Plasma Cannon, Lascannon.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Front Burner/Back Burner

On the Front Burner

- Deep within the underground workshops of the Crimson Fists Chapter upon Rynns World more powered armour suits are being painted by lobotomised Servitors and Chapter paintslaves. I have two sessions of Combat Patrol coming up in the next fortnight and want to amend the army I used last time. A couple of real veterans from 1987 are about to take the field once more thanks to the Sacred Annoiting Bath of Dettol that washed all their sins away - truly The Emperor blesses cleanliness and personal hygiene.

- The prison workshops of New Tipton Penitentary are churning out 1:64 cars for Axles and Alloys II. Weaponry has arrived from Stan Johansen Miniatures in the US and the prison governor has authorised it's release. Bless you Ma'am! Prisoners are aiming for a rare day out at the West Midlands Military Modelling Show in Wolverhampton on March 21st where the game will be run as a participation game by myself and Dave-O.

- Up in the Governor's plush office attempts are being made to proof-read the A&A II rulebook but it's hard, hard going. Too much seeing what I know is there, rather than what really is there...

- Under Hypogeum, the Gods of Chance are busy interior decorating. A huge table of random dungeon dressing and imagination prodding, currently up to about 180 entries, aiming for an optimistic 1000 entries so that no part of the OD&D dungeon remains without something of interest or bafflement. The aim is to require me to do less prep, so that the obligatory "one third empty" rooms can just be marked with a random number describing their random contents or even just winged on the fly.

- Star Ocean on the XBox 360. I've no idea why I bought this as I know that at some point I won't be able to dive into it for a week or so and then it will slowly fade away from view and remain unfinished.

On The Back Burner

- I played a game of Red & White on Friday at Stourbridge, Jacksonville Gamers' home brew Russian Civil War rules in 20mm. As it happens I have about 100 plastic Russian infantry in this scale, both Great War Eastern Front and RCW so while I know Dave-O is going to nag me about it, I have no idea when any of this will get painted.

- West End Star Wars 2nd Edition. It looks a nice set of rules and I love Space Opera these days but no idea when it will get played - I want to run Swords and Wizardry White Box and I can't see there being space for two RPGs in my gaming life at the moment.