Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Asteroid on the worktable

This piece of interplanetary scenery started off as a chunk of concrete I found after workers fixed my fence.  Standing on its end and painted black, it makes a fine asteroid for spaceship gaming, next to my previous efforts here and here

I just need to do some drybrushing, and the space rock will be ready to serve as a hazard to stellar navigation and a haven for star pirates.  Does anyone else build their own asteroids?  If so, how?

Monday, July 30, 2012

From across the pond

I picked up a handful of Nightmare Legion troopers on ebay from a seller in Great Britain, and the package arrived after just a week and a half.  When added to my recent skeletons purchase, these five skeletons give me enough figures to make seven stands of Spears for my Hordes of the Things skeleton army.  That's in addition to the four Spears elements I currently field.
Eleven 2-point elements is nearly enough for a complete HotT army, but I don't know if I want to try to land any more of these out-of-production minis.  Although I got a great deal on these--less than $11 including transatlantic shipping--the old 1980s Games Workshop miniatures seem to be getting more and more expensive.  Besides, I think I have enough to paint as it is. 
I could always base these command figures from this set that I painted back in the '80s.  I haven't mounted them for Hordes of the Things because I don't think their armor and weapons match the rank-and-file of the NL troopers.  Besides, I want the army general to be a Spears element, and these are clearly Blades.  Should I use them anyway?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Starships: Avarian work in progress

On the painting table I have the Avarian Gryphon-class super galactic dreadnought.  As you can see, the bottom of this ship is super-detailed.

Because this ship is so massive, I haven't secured it to a stand yet.  And because I don't have it based, I only have the underside painted so far; I want to make sure the paint is dry before I flip it over and and paint the topside--I don't want my new paint job to wear off while I'm working on it?  Anyone else have a multi-stage project they're working on this weekend?

Weird search term leading to my blog

"star trek fleet wars porn comic"

Uh, OK.

If you're wondering, it led to this post on a starship comparison poster.

What are some of the strange search terms you've seen for your blog?

Friday, July 27, 2012

5150: Star Navy replay

Since we tweaked the rules for 5150: Star Navy, Ed the THW Guy and I decided to replay last week's playtest with the rules modifications.  Ed also thought it would be a good idea to add a few more ships to this battle, so it ended up being 47 Class 3s against one Class 6.
We remembered to designate a flagship this time, and Ed vaporized it the first turn, affecting the performance of the remaining ships.
I also had a chance to deploy my scratchbuilt escape pods, which I used to indicate the position of ships that had been destroyed (since surrounding vessels take a test to remain on the board).

It played out like last time--most shots from the smaller ships were ineffective, but sheer numbers allowed a few attacks to cause damage, making easier to cause further damage.  Meanwhile, the dreadnought was taking out ships left and right, but eventually its luck ran out when it failed a bridge damage test, which lowered its Rep.  This made it easier to fail subsequent tests, and an engine hit forced the ship to flee the battle, ending the game.  
We're happy with the rules feel and the way the game's going.  Check out Ed's battle report for more details of the game.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ed's new toys

These models aren't mine, but because of the great detailing on these ships, I had to share photos of these starship minis that Ed the THW Guy picked up from a TMP member.  These are Terran (above) and Avarian starships (below) from Monday Knight Productions.
The former owner did a fantastic job picking out the details on these ships.  There were several more starships, as well as fighter minis, that Ed purchased, but I didn't take photos of those.  Still, these pics will give you an idea of the craftsmanship involved.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reminder: GuadaComaCon is next month

Don't forget, GuadaComaCon (formerly the South Texas Mini-Con) will take place Saturday, August 18 in New Braunfels.  Some of the featured games include:
  • 5150: Star Navy (sci-fi space combat minis) run by Your Humble Scribe
  • By This Axe I Rule (homebrew fantasy minis) by ckutalik of the Hill Cantons
  • Paranoia (humorous dystopian sci-fi role-playing) run by Brad Ncube of Skull Crushing for Great Justice
  • Clay-O-Rama (what it sounds like) run by artist-in-residence Jason Braun
  • 5150: Star Army (sci-fi ground combat minis) run by Ed the THW Guy
  • and many more
We're expecting a carload of gamers from Austin to come join us, as well as some of the organizers from the North Texas RPG Con.  Anyone is welcome, and admission is free (but donations will be accepted).  I hope you can make it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New monster for Holmes basic: Anti-Paladin

A while back, I posted some re-imaginings of character classes as monsters for the old blue-book basic Dungeons & Dragons, as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old me and filtered through the pop culture of the time.  One of the "monsters" I re-imagined was the paladin, but I just now realized that he needs a nemesis.  Without further ado, I present the


Move: 90 feet/turn
Hit Dice: 10
Armor Class: 2
Treasure Type: see below
Alignment: chaotic evil
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6 points

As the paladin is pure, the anti-paladin is foul; an implacable foe of goodness and law.  The waves of palpable evil this black knight sends forth causes any character in melee who fails a save to flee in terror for 1-6 rounds.  Like his nemesis, the anti-paladin bears a knight's accoutrements of plate & shield, lance, sword, and so on.  Such weaponry will function normally for the anti-paladin, but act as cursed items for anyone else using them.  Although chaotic, an anti-paladin will always accept a one-on-one duel with a paladin or high-level fighter (and usually attempt a dirty trick).  An anti-paladin will usually ride a mount of some sort, typically a manticore or chimera.  Anti-paladins often dwell in dank castles, where they rule evil brigands or savage orcs and sometimes (60% chance) keep noble prisoners.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another freebie

Even though I'm working on a set of space combat rules that will be sold for money, I don't mind directing you to free games, even those on the subject of starship battles. 

This time, it's the quick-start rules for Ultra Starfire, published these days by Starfire Design Studio.  However, I remember when Starfire first came out from Task Force Games.

It's a fairly straightforward ruleset--each ship has a single line of stats, with damage affecting systems linearly, so you have to destroy a ship's shields before you can hit its weapons, its weapons before its armor, etc.  Kinda simple, but there's room for a lot of variety.  And hey, you can try the rules out for free, so why not?

Anyone else remember playing this game back in the day?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Starships: Terran capital ships

I painted the last of my Terran capital ships: a Constellation-class galactic attack carrier and a Formidable-class galactic battlecruiser from the Starfleet Wars (now Galactic Knights) line of miniature starships. 
I painted these ships to match the rest of my Red Fleet, since my White Fleet already has two carriers and a battlecruiser.
Now that these ships are done, I just need to prime and paint the remaining stellar destroyers and starbombers.  Then my fleet will be complete!
As a bonus, here's another batch of Terran Comet starfighters--this time painted in the White Fleet color scheme.
I still have a whole bunch of fighters to redo in the proper colors, but at least they're all painted.  Once I get everything done the way I want, I'll post some group shots.  Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This week's Half Price Books score

I'm not that big of a Star Trek fan, but I couldn't pass up this Hot Wheels model of the Enterprise-D from the Next Generation series when I saw it. 
In a move sure to make collectors cringe, I took it out of the box and threw away the packaging.  This thing is meant to be played with, not sit inside plastic. 
As you can see, it's got a lot of detail.  However, I think I will apply an ink wash to bring out those panels and windows.  It was just seven bucks, and although I'm unclear on the scale, I can probably figure out a way to use it in a starship game.  If not, it will go on display at home or at work.
My happiness in finding this is somewhat diminished by the fact that as I was leaving the parking lot, a woman backed into my car!  Luckily, it didn't seem to do any damage other than leave a slight mark on the side of my vehicle.  Still, if I hadn't stopped at HPB, she wouldn't have hit me ....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Breaking the game: Star Navy playtest

When playtesting, it's important to do more than try out the game the way you intend it to be played.  You need to stretch the rules and example them from every angle until any loopholes become visible.  In other words, you need to try and break the game.
In our latest playtest, I wanted to see what would happen if a whole bunch of little specialized ships ganged up on one ginormous general-purpose warship.  I figured little ships armed entirely missile weapons wouldn't have to worry about a superdreadnought's shields, once they could get close enough to fire.  The question was, could the larger ship take out all the small vessels before they came into range?

I pulled out about 38 of my smaller models (destroyers, starbombers, and armored pursuit ships from various factions) to serve as Zhu-Zhu missile frigates (Class 3 ships) defending their planet against the Star Navy's gunboat diplomacy. 
The Terran Victory-class super galactic dreadnought made a great Class 6 Star Navy vessel, suitably imposing against the myriad smaller vessels.
There were several turns where the smaller craft were too far away to use their missiles, so the SGDN got in several free shots, destroying a number of Zhu-Zhu ships outright before they could close.  The massive batteries of the Star Navy scored only glancing blows on some ships, leaving them injured but on the table.  However, several Zhu-Zhu fled the table when they saw their comrades blown out of the sky, and the number of defenders dwindled.
Finally though, the missile frigates flew into weapon range.  The dreadnought's four anti-aircraft batteries were more than enough to shoot most missiles down.  For the first few turns of shooting, nothing much got through, and what did reach the ship didn't do serious damage. 
However, once I took out one flak gun, it became easier and easier to score hits.
The dread kept swatting down Zhu-Zhu, but eventually it lost weapons and then engines.  The monkeys kept pounding away, finally taking out it's remaining hull and destroying the ship.  Final tally, the monkeys started with 38 ships.  The Star Navy ship destroyed 13 of them, another 15 fled, and at the end of the battle just 10 missile frigates remained on the map--and three of those were damaged.
It was a good playtest session.  We tweaked the rules a little bit, but we were happy with the way this combat played out.  It shows the bigger ships are more powerful by an order of magnitude, but they can eventually be worn down. 
Ed also pointed out that if he'd taken out my flagship earlier in the game (we forgot to designate a flagship for the Zhu-Zhu until about halfway through), that would have resulted in more of my ships fleeing the dreadnought, and he could probably have held out through the game.  So we're pretty happy with the power balance for these ships.  Can't wait to try and break the game again next week!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cavern A: Kobold Lair

We were west of San Antonio last weekend when I spotted this cave opening in the hillside.  Luckily, we didn't encounter any wandering monsters from the Caves of Chaos.  I think probably because it was about 105 degrees that afternoon. 

I don't know how those D&D adventurers do it.  If I had been wearing any sort of armor, I'd have passed out from the heat.  Tell me, does heat ever become a factor in your adventure games?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Speaking of conventions ...

Texas BROADSIDE! 2012, the only game convention held aboard a United States battleship, (the USS Texas) now has its own website

Despite leaks plaguing the vessel, the event is still on, and some of the proceeds will go to the Battleship Texas Foundation

So if you're gonna be in the Houston area in early October, you might want to look into attending the BROADSIDE! convention.

Monday, July 16, 2012

New name, same games: GuadaComaCon

South Texas Mini Con now has a new name.
One hex = 500 feet
Taking inspiration from the two rivers that converge in our host city of New Braunfels, the Guadalupe and the Comal, this year's game convention is now known as GuadaComaCon! (pronounced GWA da CO ma CON)

Muchas gracias to local artist Jason Braun for the logo.  We plan on getting t-shirts made in time for the convention; they'll have this emblem printed on them.  For those of you familiar with the town, the design shows the correct course of the rivers as they meander through New Braunfels.

It's still the same convention, hosted by the same people, with the same website.  But now it's a lot more fun to say: GuadaComaCon. 

See you at GuadaComaCon!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Starships: Primed directive

I had hoped to start slapping paint on that Avarian super galactic dreadnought, but I just wasn't feeling painterly.  Instead, I got out the spray cans and primed.

From the Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights line, here are the last of my Terran capital ships, a galactic battlecruiser and galactic attack carrier, surrounded by the last of my unpainted starfighters (although I have a whole bunch of attack craft from ebay that need to have their paint jobs replaced with my own).
I also picked up another can of gray, so I could finish the Star Frontiers battleship and destroyer and their Stardate: 3000 escorts after my other can crapped out on me.  I'm looking forward to painting these guys as part of the same civilian(?) fleet. 
I didn't get a chance to prime everything, however.  These half-dozen starbombers are almost the last of my SfW/GK Terran fleet.  I have a quartet of Terran destroyers to put on stands, and then I'll have my entire Terran fleet (or both of them, since they're painted in two different schemes) completed and ready for battle.
Of course, this means I've been neglected my fantasy figure painting, as you can see from the poor unfinished Reaper kobold at the upper right of the above photo.  But I paint what the mood strikes me to, and lately it's been spaceships.

Has anyone else ever let stuff sit half-completed for a long time while you tear through a number of other projects?  Seems like I do that a lot.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cloud giant's castle

The clouds reflected the sunset this evening, painting the neighborhood in a golden light.  Seems like good real estate for a group of cloud giants.  Which brings up this question: Do you incorporate weather phenomena into your games--not just how rain might affect missile fire in combat, but things like thunderstorms, lightning, etc., or even just signs and portents like rainbows or halos around the moon or sun?

P.S. Don't forget, if you attend the South Texas Mini-Con, you have a chance to view great sunsets like this!  Mark your calendars for August 18.

Friday, July 13, 2012

South Texas Mini-Con has a website

That's right, the South Texas Mini-Con now has a website of its very own.  It's still pretty much a skeleton right now, but save it in your browser favorites, because soon there will be a list of games being run at the second annual convention--and a way to register for them.  Kudos to Brad the Skull Crusher for setting up this website.

This event will once again take place in New Braunfels, at the convention center, on Saturday, August 18 from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m.

The cost to attend is still free, but we will happily accept donations.  Or, check out this online auction fundraiser by NTRPGCon organizer badmike, proceeds will go toward the mini-con.

So what are the games, you ask?  ckutalik has a list of events in his latest mini-con update on his blog, including one old-school game designer and one new-school game designer.

I plan on being there, of course, to run at least one spaceship game.  Who else is going to make it to the South Texas Mini-Con?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Painted galactic attack carrier

I completed this Nest-class galactic attack carrier.  Now I'm almost finished with my Avarian fleet--just the super galactic dreadnought to go.  But with two carriers and the fighter-bearing SGDN, I probably need some more Av starfighters ...

Should I be thinking about buying more minis before I even finish the ones I already have for this fleet?  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What's old is new again ...

... and there's nothing new under the sun.

Looking through the old Judges Guild Ready Ref Sheets (which I bought at a game store for $10 used instead of direct for $3 new), I found a section on recovering hit points.  I thought it interesting that one of the optional rules allows a character to regain 1-4 hit points after a combat by binding wounds--the old-school equivalent of a once-per encounter healing-surge.  It also alludes to negative hit points, allowing a character at less than zero to recover HP if another character binds those wounds.

What "new" rules have you come across that have actually been around for some time?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Work in progress: Kobold

I started painting one of my kobolds from the Reaper Bones line I picked up the other day.  I have to say, it's kind of a pain trying to paint a figure this small.
I'm taking the color scheme straight from the first edition Monster Manual: dark brown skin, orange clothing, etc.  So far that's about all I have blocked out, and I haven't painted any of the smaller features on this figure or done any highlighting or washes.

I decided to test the package's claim that its ready for painting, no priming required.  It seems to be more or less true; the paint did seem to go on a little thin at times, but that just may be the craft store paints I'm using.  I will share some more photos once I finish this mini later in the week.

Monday, July 9, 2012

In the painting queue

OK, I know I have way too many spaceship minis when I discover models that I primed some months ago and forgot to paint.  I was going through some things when I stumbled across these two Avarian ships for Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights.
The flattop is a Nest-class galactic attack carrier, while the larger of the two vessels is a Gryphon-class super galactic dreadnought.  Note the level of detail on the underside of the SGDN; this is typical of all the starships in the SfW/GK line.
Now that I've rediscovered these two minis, I just have to paint them and my entire Avarian fleet will be complete--until I purchase some more, that is.  What about your fleets?  Are they ever really complete?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Starships: A fistful of fighters

I completed some of the fighters in my painting queue.  These are Terran Comet and Meteor starfighters from Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights along with some Federation Intruder IID scouts and Vigilante IIIC interceptors from Stardate: 3000.
I painted these dozen Intruders and the trio of Vigilantes to match the other ships of my civilian fleet.  I'll use these as shuttles, support craft, small transports, or even fighters if I use my civvies as pirates.
Since most of my Terran fighters were already painted in some sort of red design when I got them via ebay, I painted these Meteors to match the carriers in the color scheme of my Terran White Fleet.
However, I also wanted to see how some starfighters would look in the colors of my Terran Red Fleet, so I went ahead and did these Comets with that scheme instead.
I primed all these fighters black, then drybrushed in the trio of colors for each fleet.  I also wanted to paint some other fighters and ships, but I was priming them gray when the spray can stopped working, even though it was more than half full.  It's not clogged, and it's not empty, but it's not dispensing paint.  Looks like a trip to the hardware store is in order.

Where do y'all get your primers?  Standard hardware store paints like Krylon or Rustoleum, or do you go for the pricier cans from game stores?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Look at the bones, man!"

I found some of Reaper's new Bones line of plastic miniatures during a visit to Dibble's Hobbies in San Antonio this weekend.  I'd read about how cheap they are, and how they're supposed to be easy to paint up--no priming required! 

I've been wanting to buy the the pack of kobolds for some time, but until now I never saw them at other game stores.  So when I saw the package for three-and-a-half bucks, I grabbed it.  Then I decided that I didn't want to cost the store more in credit card processing fees than my purchase, so I also picked up this ogre chieftain for another two-fifty.  Six bucks for a swarm of little dog-men and their large friend isn't too bad.

I'm gonna see if these figures live up to the hype, and try painting them without using primer first.  I'll let y;all know how it turns out.

Friday, July 6, 2012

More Holmes D&D rules-lawyering

Time for another nitpick of the Dungeons & Dragons basic set from 1978.  Did you know that this ruleset allows magic-users to cast cleric spells?  OK, it lets M-Us cast the equivalent of certain cleric spells from scrolls, but that got your attention, didn't it?

How does this work?  The Scrolls subsection of the TREASURE section of the book lists, in addition to the selections for a cursed scroll and various protection spells, entries to pick "Any potion spell" with a couple of exceptions, "Any ring spell" (likewise), and "Any wand spell."  So there's a chance your magic-user could find--and use--a scroll with a spell of Healing based on the potion or staff, the magical equivalent of the clerical Cure Light Wounds spell.

Of course, a good rules lawyer could argue that the Holmes scroll rules encompass all cleric spells as well.  Here's how: some of the other entries for the type of scroll are "Any one spell," "Any two spells," or "Any three spells."  And here's where it gets interesting.  In the EXPLANATION OF MAGIC ITEMS regarding scrolls, Holmes instructs the dungeon master, "Select the spells from the appropriate list by some random method."  Therefore, I would roll a to see which book of spells the scroll contains, M-U levels 1-3 or clerical spells levels 1-2, and then roll to see which spell.  You might argue that since Holmes allows only magic-users to read scrolls (other than protection scrolls), the "appropriate list" means only magic-user spells, I read "appropriate" as the lists mentioned in the table: character spells, potion spells, ring spells, and wand spells.

What about elves?  I'd argue that since "Elves progress in levels as both fighting men and magic-users," they can use magic scrolls.

Which reminds me--according to Holmes, "The spells written on the scrolls can be read only by magic-users, except for the protection spells."  If we interpret that strictly, that means that only M-Us (and elves, who progress as M-Us) are affected by cursed scrolls.

Your thoughts?  Would you run a game this way, with cursed scrolls only affecting magic-users?  What about scrolls with clerical spells?  Allow them at all?  And if you do, allow clerics to use them, or only magic-users? 

Or am I the only one who thinks about these things?