Tuesday, 21 February 2017

GHQ Grant

Among the unpainted bits and pieces I've been organising, I found this: the Grant medium tank, from GHQ.

This camouflage scheme is more or less the same as that painted on the example at Bovington, and it's a scheme I rather like, which is why I painted this. It's large swatches of KG#3 outlined in lines of black and white on a Dark Sand base.

I experimented with various means of getting the outlines done, but in the end I didn't find any easier or more effective way than just painting on the KG#3 blotches and then outlining them with a fine brush. Now I have four more to paint the same way.

And as usual, now that I've photographed it, I see that I've forgotten to paint the various tools and what-not. Not to worry, that's easy enough to fix.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Warmaster Chaos Critters

I picked these up out of a bargain bin for a couple of bucks quite a few years ago. They're for Warmaster, so 10mm scale — in 28mm scale they'd be about the size of a pony, I guess.

I have no idea what they're supposed to be; the box just said "Chaos Creatures".

They're squatting on beds of skulls and bones which I haven't painted (yet). If I use them for 28mm gaming, those skulls would have to have come from something pretty tiny — some kind of fairies maybe?

GHQ Matilda 1

I'm in the process of organising all my unpainted microarmour, and I'm finding quite a bit of stuff I'd completely forgotten I'd ever bought.

Among them are these Matilda 1, from GHQ. They're tiny little things, and beautifully modelled, but being GHQ they're also pretty bloody expensive — $US10 for five, which (when I bought them) meant about $NZ17, or about $NZ3.40 each. Add on postage, and that brings them up to about six or seven Kiwibucks each. A lot more, if I hadn't bought a bunch of other stuff at the same time, so the postage cost was spread out a bit between them.

I have some other Matilda 1, from Scotia. Compared with the GHQ models, their sculpting is fairly... "crude" is a harsh term, but I can't think of anything more appropriate right now. On the other hand, they only cost me about one Kiwi buck apiece, and they're readily identifiable on the wargames table for what they are.

I haven't yet seen any examples of the Matilda 1 from Heroics & Ros; I might add a couple to an order one of these days out of pure curiosity; I'd expect them to be roughly equivalent to Scotia quality, but with H&R you never can tell.

Is the extra money for the much better quality of GHQ justified?

I'd say that really depends. If all you want are identifiable playing tokens, then I'd say not. However, if your interest is more in the micro-diorama modelling line, then I'd say definitely yes.

Personally, while I like having exquisitely detailed models on the tabletop, I'm quite willing to settle for less as long as they do actually look like what they're meant to be. And the skyrocketing cost of postage from the USA (which often doubles, or more, the cost of an order) means that, with the high cost of their models, I won't be buying any more GHQ stuff in the foreseeable future. That's kind of a shame.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Deadeye Slim

Here's another figure from the last Reaper  Bones Kickstarter — 80002: Deadeye Slim, by Patrick Keith.

I wanted a "spaghetti Western" gunfighter, so he's very very dusty and sweaty and almost monochromatic. I also wanted to get him painted very quickly because I didn't want to have to expend too much effort on him, so this is about a 15 minute paint job.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Strong Independent Woman

This lady is part of the Townsfolk set from the last Reaper Bones kickstarter. She seems very friendly. Possibly one of the Hot Singles in Your Area Keen to Meet You.

This is not one of my better paint-jobs; the subtleties of nice smooth skin defeat me. Nevertheless, now she's done.

The figure SKU is 77086: Townsfolk: Strumpet by Bobby Jackson, and she's currently selling for $2.49.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Covenanter — finished

I've finished my 1:100 scale Blender model of the Covenanter.

Now I'm trying to get it uploaded to Shapeways for 3d printing, but for the moment there appear to be issues — the trouble is, I have no idea if the issues are with the model, or with Shapeways' servers, which have been known to crap out fairly frequently, especially when somebody has been trying to make "improvements" to them.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Covenanter (digital model)

Bovington's Covenanter.
I'm in the process of building a 1:100 scale digital model of the Covenanter, the immediate (unsuccessful) predecessor of the Crusader cruiser tanks of WWII.

This is a tank of many, many angles, and modelling is not proving to be completely straightforward.

At the moment, the gun mantlet is giving me a huge amount of trouble. It's a casting, so all the component parts will need to be faired together, but first I have to get the actual profile right, and that's giving me a lot more grief than I thought it would.

I think I'll have to scrap what I've done on it so far and start again.


The lug you can see at the bottom of the turret is just to hold it to the inside of the hollow hull.
It won't be seen on the assembled model.
The mantlet is still far from perfect, but it's a million times better than it was, and certainly good enough for my purposes.

Now I've got all the bits and bobs on the turret, and hollowed it out to save on materials when it's printed, and I'll call it finished. Now I can move on to the next bit, which I think will be the various components of the running gear.

Next bit

We've got some wheels, and now I shall have to make some tracks to wrap around them.

And the next

It's starting to look a bit tankish now. I have the basic shape of the hull and trackguards, and the wheels in place.

However, I'm going to have to revisit the turret because I forgot about the cut-out beneath the back half which would allow it to rotate over the guards and other assorted clutter.

What a nuisance. Still, I have nobody to blame but myself.

Running gear is complete, and now I'm making a start on all the crap that clutters up the decks. Those things in front are radiator covers.

Things are coming along, and most of the rear deck clutter is done. There are still a few bits and pieces to take care of — hinges, fire extinguishers etc. — but the end is in sight.

Friday, 10 February 2017


This is a very old miniature, from Games Workshop I think, which I've had sitting on my desk undercoated for years and years. It came in a blister of two versions: this one, and a mounted figure. It was actually the mounted figure I was looking for when I came to finally get around to painting it, but I couldn't find it, so this guy finally got the treatment.

It's designed for a plastic slotta-base, which I hate, so I've mounted him on a 22mm washer and built up the ground with GreenStuff. I briefly considered adding some foliage, but that stuff catches the dust like you wouldn't believe, and is impossible to clean properly. So, he gets to stand on bare rock.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Ghastly Ghasts

77159 Ghast by James van Shaik
I got these four guys in the last Reaper Bones Kickstarter. They're ghasts — a sort of uber-ghoul, for those who don't know D&D monsters. Retail price is about $2.50 each.

I just wanted mooks, so I painted them up as quickly and simply as I could bear: black primer followed by white zenithal spray followed by white wet-brush followed by greeny ink-wash followed by ivory dry-brush followed by inks for clothes and ground, and that's it. Actual painting time, not including waiting for things to dry, was about twenty minutes I guess.

The only thing I don't like about Reaper's plastic Bones figures is the mould lines. They're a real pain to get rid of.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

New! Improved! Now with added synergy!

Get it here!

Get it even more here!
Do YOU have a need to randomly determine integers from 1 to 4?

Are YOU sick of impaling your bare feet on caltrop-shaped 4-sided dice in the dark?


Now you can throw dice that will be the envy of all your peers. [gender] will want you, [otherGender] will want to BE you!

Coming now for an unlimited time to a Shapeways printery near you!

The dice are 10mm sort-of-cubes — the lugs sticking out on two sides are so that they will come to rest square on the table, and not sit half-cocked on the roundy-bit.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Limited-Use Magical Doo-Dads

There's a system for determining whether or not your magical gizmo still works or not that I read somewhere some time ago, and that I rather like.

Rather than giving it a set number of charges remaining, you assign to it a die — anything from a d2 to a d1,000,000,000,000.

Every time the macguffin is used, the die is rolled: if a 1 turns up, it fizzles, fails to operate, and is out of charges from that point.

This system has two advantages:

  • First, it adds a degree of uncertainty to the use of magical gew-gaws. I don't imagine them coming with a little read-out showing exactly how much fuel is left in the tank, and I don't think the characters using the thing should have that information either.
  • Second, it reduces the amount of record-keeping that either the player or the GM has to remember to keep track of.

The easiest thing, from the GM's point of view, is to just let the player know which die they should be rolling to activate the thingumajig. The down-side to that (if it is, in fact, a down-side) is that it gives them some information about the state of charge of the doohickey.

The slightly more tiresome method is for the GM to secretly roll the die every time they attempt to use the framistat. The possibility here is that an unscrupulous GM might take advantage of the secrecy to remove from his or her campaign a magical splandlefloopit that is causing them irritation.

My personal choice would generally be the former, but that's mainly because I'm really very lazy.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Dwellers in Dark Places — a New Monster Book

This book of monsters for AD&D/OSRIC by Matthew Hargenrader, Dwellers in Dark Places, has just arrived on my doorstep — at long last; I ordered it from DriveThruRPG a couple of weeks before Xmas last year.

I bought it in PDF format some months before then (about September, I think) and enjoyed it enough to shell out for the PoD hardcover when it was marked down (about 20%) for the pre-Xmas market.

It is, without doubt, the most entertaining book of RPG monsters I've seen in decades. I haven't enjoyed a critter collection as much since I got my brand new copy of the Fiend Folio in 1982.

It's thoroughly illustrated in black-&-white throughout, and generally, the illustrations are pretty good — to my mind, they're of a much better standard than the usual run of fan-published work. There's something to be said for the enthusiasm of amateurs, but it's refreshing to see such a solid body of professional-quality black-&-white artwork. There's nothing there, alas, by Pete Mullen (one of my favourites), but I guess you can't have everything. There are about 500 monsters detailed in the book, and almost (?) all of them have at least one illustration, so that's a lot of pictures.

The paper is a bit thin, and not terribly opaque, but considering the page count (366 pages, not counting the front- and end-matter) if the paper was as heavy as that in the first Monster Manual and Fiend Folio, the book would be about two or three inches thick. Not that I'd particularly mind that.

The organisation and layout follows the precedent set by those earlier works, though in places it betrays a certain amateurishness. The most obvious example is in the tables that are scattered liberally throughout the book; they are all dominated by thick black borders which overpower the text within, and make the whole table less legible.

Another example, and a more serious one from the point of view of the book's usability, is that all too often monster statblocks and descriptions/illustrations are spread across more than one page. That's not really an issue as long as they're on the same two-page spread, or at least start on the same spread, but frequently I see a statblock table on a right-hand page that refers to a monster that is detailed on the following page — and that description is lacking any sort of title or visual separation from the previous entry. That's just bad design.

However, even with these reservations, I like this book a lot. It has obviously been a labour of love for the author, and it's jam-packed full of critters that I'm champing at the bit to use.

I hope it makes him a MEEEELLLION DOLLARS!

These also arrived today, in a separate delivery: ten 24-sided dice from the faraway land of China.

I've made my love of Stupid Dice known before.

I can't foresee very many uses for these, except maybe to randomly determine an hour of the day, so you'd think there would be no point in getting more than one. Or even one, for that matter. Ten certainly seems like overkill.

However, they were only about a buck-fiddy for a bag of five, with free postage, so really I think I should be congratulated on my self-restraint in only getting ten.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

With an Onion +2 on my belt...

....as was the style at the time....

I was idly leafing through one of my old AD&D 2e Players' Handbooks and feeling that its layout, it's look-and-feel, were really boring and old fashioned.

It's true that the layout is staid, to say the least, but it was more than that. Then I put my finger on it: the blue bold serif headings and the blocks of conservative Times-Roman-like text make it look like a web page from 1995.

All that's missing is <blink> and <marquee>.

On the cover, there's a TSR logo with the tagline "Products of your imagination". This sort of layout does not reflect much in the way of imagination at all. It might as well be an engineering reference manual. It does have the occasional illustration, but they're mostly pretty crap.

An argument might be made that keeping everything as neutral as possible is a good thing, as it would be less likely to unduly influence the imaginations of the users in any particular direction. This layout fails at that as well, because of the general focus and tenor of the aforesaid lame illustrations. They influence the imagination without particularly inspiring it.

I felt, at the time that it was released, that there was quite a lot about 2e, mechanically, that I liked as compared with 1e. But I thought at the time, and still do, that it lost a lot of the heart and soul that 1e had had in spite of its frequent clunkiness.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Friday, 30 December 2016

The Troll Job - Episode #2

The terrifying bulette!
This is the cheap plastic toy the original bulette was based on.

Lots of travel, an unsuccessful encounter (though not as disastrous as it could have been) with an ox-stealing bulette, and far fewer grimlocks than I originally intended.

I had forgotten just how fragile AD&D-ish characters could be, after years and years of playing WotC superhero games, so I had to make some quick decisions about encounter numbers for my team to have any hope at all of surviving to get to the main job. Which, in itself, may be a larger bite than they can reasonably chew.... we shall have to see.

Friday, 16 December 2016

New Campaign(ish): Working for Eyeless

Eyeless the Wizard.
I've started up a new AD&D/OSRIC campaign. The basic information is on my website, along with game journals as and when I get around to writing them.

I don't foresee any grand overarching world-shaking plots transpiring out of this game, but you can never quite tell what will happen in a roleplaying game.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Invisible Magic Sky-Friends and You

Just another Monster Manual, really
The treatment of gods and religions in my D&D campaigns has always been based on this supposition:

The world (including all associated planes) is a created artifact, made and maintained for the pleasure and entertainment of entities who, to the created inhabitants of that universe, are, to all intents and purposes, gods.

The situation is very similar to that shown in the recent series, Westworld, though on a larger scale. Very similar indeed. Or perhaps it would be closer to the "Hells" in Iain M. Banks' Surface Detail.

Some of these entities, who for the sake of convenience I will just refer to as gods, get their jollies by physically interacting with the created universe and its inhabitants. Some restrict their interference to working from outside, operate via proxy creations, and manipulate the conditions of the world to create circumstances beneficial to their agendas.

The key thing to note about both of these groups is that they are playing a game. They are playing for points. Some play very seriously, some just dabble for a bit of fun. They get more points for actions where they are physically present, because when they are physically present, they are in physical danger. Still other of the "gods" are simply observers, watching purely for entertainment but having no stake in the game, nor any way of influencing events in it.

But regardless of the stakes of the game, it's still a game, and the created beings who scurry around the world are just playing pieces.

So basically, all the actions, purposes, plans, schemes, loves, hates and so forth of all the created inhabitants of the world are futile and meaningless, existing only to win or lose some entity a few game points or to provide an evening's passive entertainment. Bummer.

The thing is, that's irrelevant to them. Even if they know the true state of affairs (and some of the more potent characters in the farce have at least an inkling that it might be so) they still have to live their lives. They may be playthings of the gods, but that doesn't mean they don't have to eat and shit and make a living.

So, there it is.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last.....

NOTE: This is NOT the actual OSRIC cover.
Which is a pity.
Things have been slowly digesting and percolating in my tiny brain, and I've come to a realization which is long overdue.

Pretty much all my tinkering and messing around with fantasy roleplaying game systems over the years has been, essentially, an attempt to recapture the joy I had in playing AD&D, while trying to avoid the things about AD&D that irked me. Of which there were quite a few, but not so many as to be insurmountable I think. The rules are now easily available again, both as reprints of the original books (expensive) and via the OSRIC project (cheap). I have a nostalgic fondness for the old books, but I think OSRIC is a more useable and accessible resource.

This full-page illustration, in fact.
OSRIC is available as a very convenient A5 paperback for $13.50 or as a full size hardback including a full-page illustration by Your's Truly for $26.00.

So anyway, I've decided to dip my toe back into the murky waters of DMing, and return to my first love..... mostly.

These are the modifications I intend to make to the rules:

  1. I discard dual-classing; everyone can multi-class, as long as they have the minimum requirements. You can start a new class when training to go up a level, but from then on all XP (and hit-points) is split between all your classes — there'll be none of this taking one level in a class to get its benefits and then ignoring it forevermore.
  2. I am keeping the demi-human level limits, so only human characters will be unlimited in all classes.
  3. I will adopt the Character Background idea from 5e to determine the sort of basic range of knowledge the character has, along with the "Good At" skill system at the rate of one slot per 5 whole points of INT and WIS. The idea that a character can only perform a certain skill (like picking locks, or tracking) if they have a certain character class is stupid and dumb, and I'm doing away with it.
  4. All characters start with the standard range of Thief Skills at 50% of the ability of a 1st level Thief. Only Thief characters can improve from this level though (though if one or more of the character's "Good At" slots is applied to one of those skills, I guess it could be improved by level gain... we'll see).
  5. I will replace AD&D's Descending Armour Class and attack tables with the d20 model Attack Bonus and Ascending Armour Class. They're easily calculated: 20 – THAC0 = Attack Bonus, and 20 – AC = AAC.
  6. I intend to adopt the Advantage/Disadvantage system from D&D5e, because it is elegant and works very well indeed.

I've made a new dust-jacket for my A5 copy
of OSRIC so that I can give it the
cover I prefer as well as hopefully making it
a bit sturdier and durable.
There may be some other bits and pieces I've forgotten or haven't determined. For example, I haven't yet decided whether to stick with AD&D's slightly baroque saving throw system (easier to use 3rd-party stuff), or go with a much simpler single save with CHAR-based bonuses/penalties (easier to use in play). Probably the latter.... but maybe not.

The campaign will begin with the party operating as a "snatch" team, working for a Big Fucking Wizard to find and retrieve things the BFW wants or needs. I'm thinking of starting the campaign on about 10,000 XP, but if anyone desperately wants to start at first level, far be it from me to say nay.

Character creation will be by my Character Generation Wheel, using 3d6. For a change, I'm not placing any restrictions on character species.

I'm not averse to trying out Crabaugh's Custom Character Class Creator, though I have a suspicion it could be used for Evil. I'll be keeping a very, VERY close eye on anything created by that means.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Latest from Shapeways

20mm plastic figures by HaT
Another couple of models arrived on my doorstep from Shapeways today.

3d printing is just like magic to me (because it's mysterious and I don't know how to do it myself).

First up is my VSF Steampunk Battle-Tricycle, which is in an indeterminate scale. I show it here next to a couple of HäT 20mm British Zulu Wars figures; it would probably work with figures up to 28mm if you could find one to fit in the cockpit.

This one is printed in WSF nylon. It's also available in FUD resin at higher resolution.

Next is the German WW1 "K-Wagen" in 1:100 (15mm) scale, also in WSF. It never made it into battle; the war ended just before it could get into production, and the two functional prototypes were dismantled and scrapped under the watchful eyes of the Occupying Powers.

15mm PzKfw IV by PSC.
It was a real monster, with a crew of 26. Here it is alongside a WW2 PzKfw IV in the same scale.

It's also available in FUD resin, but the price is eye-watering. It's expensive enough in WSF.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

AutoMitrailleuse White

The White Armoured Car (Mitrailleuse White in French service) was the French equivalent of Britain's Rolls Royce armoured car, inasmuch as it was a World War One design that was continually upgraded and in service until World War Two. It was based on an American White chassis, and mounted a Hotchkiss machine gun and a 37mm gun opposite each other in the turret.

This is my 1:100 (15mm) 3d printed model in WSF nylon, available for sale in this material or in high-resolution FUD resin at http://shpws.me/MKq1

I'm not sure exactly what tactical markings they would have worn, but I think some French roundels would probably be a reasonably safe bet.


Somebody suggested the playing-card symbols as used on interwar/WWII French tanks as platoon identifiers. I don't know if they were actually used for armoured cars, but I liked the idea so I tried it out.

The French roundel on the doors makes a nice aiming bullseye.