Monday, 18 September 2017

The Opposing Forces

Conflict is the driving force behind most games. This is why games are called Dungeons & Dragons, Tunnels & Trolls, Villains & Vigilantes and Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes and not Accountants & Academics. Right now the only real conflict I am interested in is Man vs Flu.

The RPG I was going to start running again (using Savage Worlds) involves fighting the army of a Necromancer (assuming they don't go off at a tangent). This means that I need a bad guy and his allies as well as a force for the good guys. There are no end of fighting types in the boxes upon boxes of figures I posses.

I might be a bit light on cavalry but I doubt this will be a problem as armies tended to be cavalry light if they had any at all. The bad guys, being an undead army, will be mostly skeletons and zombies with a few extras. I might need a few more but I think I have enough. There are a few skeletal cavalry still it bit form in a draw on my desk. I might get round to making them up. I need a few character type figures for the bad guys. The good guys should be easier. I'll still need a few banner men. The heroes will be whatever the characters pick. In the round, these should be easier to get ready. Either way, there should be enough figures to get some testing done later in the week.

eBay has been good to me again, if you can call it that. I have managed to get The Road To Woodbury expansion for The Walking Dead: All Out War for a good price. This will give me a chance to practice the rules and more importantly a chance to have some more figures to paint for Zomtober. Zombie games have been a big thing for me for years. I haven't run a game in ages and I am feeling the urge to run one at the moment.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

End Of The Week + Blurrgh

I. feel terrible. The cold finally hit me hard today and despite the best of intentions, I didn't get much done. The plan had been to finish the five figures I have been working on this week and then do some work on the sabot bases for the wargame I have planned.

Despite being asleep a lot of today I woke up at about 9pm and did some painting. The New Cruelty demands and I have answered the call. To my surprise I have more or less finished all five of them them.One figure needs a shield attaching and some touching up on the shield and another needs a sword painting up. The bases also need a bit of detailing. So in the round, I am calling this a success.They are not going to win awards but the are a good tabletop standard.

What to do for next week? Well I haven't quite decided. My best I have some personality figures to paint which are mounted and unmounted versions of the same figure to work on. So I am thinking I will do the four horses. If I am going to play test this game I need some cavalry figures. I have some plastic Rohan cavalry somewhere but they will need rebasing assuming I can find them so this seems like a good idea.

To finish of the bases will need a lot of wash. I really don't want to use commercially available washing as this will be expensive. I might have a go at making my own. There are a few ways of doing this so I might give them all a try.

Before my mum passed so gave me some storage boxes to save some space. I haven't had the heart to do them until now. To be honest I don't think I have enough to do all I'll need to do so I might have to buy some more. This will give me an excuse to get out of the house but I don't see a chance of this happening over the next few days as I suspect I am going to have a few days of not doing much.

I have gotten hold of a big chunk of greenstuff. There are still a few projects I have in mind for this. Not sure if this is on the horizon in the next week but maybe in the next week or so.Then of course Zomtober is in the offing and there may be some prep for that.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Bases, Washes And A Need to Clean Up The Workbench

This is going to be a quick post. I am coming down with a bug the kids have given me.Yeah.

The FabLab went okay. I was bounced out a little early so I didn't get all that I was hoping to do.Hopefully the staff will finish off my stuff for me and I will be able to pick it up on Thursday. I still managed to get fifteen plus bases cut and all have been glued, most have been flocked and some have been painted. I should have just about enough to run a game when these are done and there will be enough for multiple options when the rest get finished.

After doing that I finished off a few more details on the figures.The Griping Beast Romano-British are coming along nicely but U am struggling to bring out some of the details of the Northstar Frostgrave figure, Then I moved onto doing the washes. There are still a few details that need to be attended to as well as the highlighting. Hopefully I should get this done for close of play tomorrow.

Zomtober is on the Horizon. ALthough I have missed out fir a couple of years, I have a plan that means that I should be taking part, I git a few minis today just for the purpose of running the game. These are perhaps the most expensive minis (in 28mm anyway) I have purchased in a while.I have primed them today but they should be being started in earnest in the next week or so.

Friday, 15 September 2017


I've said a number of times that I am not a big fan of basing. For me it's pretty much the worst element of figure painting. I should probably put a bit more effort in and then I would probably get better results. Even so, it has become the kind of thing that I do when I can't focus on the details of figure painting.

So today I started something that has been really hard work.  Having glued some bits together for the wargame sabot bases yesterday I have put some texture on them and given them a green base coat. I wanted to get ahead on this because tomorrow I am hoping to come away with a whole load more bases, maybe double the number I already have. My thinking was that if I don't do some of them now, the pile of bases will put me off completely. Now I have enough bases for about one army with a few spares and options. There are fifteen bases done. Mostly they are standard infantry bases but there are a couple for regular cavalry, and one each for heavy cavalry, irregular infantry and smaller monsters.

Hopefully I'll have a duplicate of this set so I can run two armies. With a bit of luck I will also have an odds and sods set with some different base layouts, irregular infantry, larger monsters and even some light artillery.

If the plan goes better than expected I might even have some more regular bases and some larger irregular bases that will do for terrain areas like swamps and woods.

At the end of the day I did get a chance to work on the week's figures. They don't really fit with anything on the horizon but the Arthurian age (Romano British) types are nice minis and the other figure which I think is a Frostgrave captain looks pretty good. I am worried that I have slacked off a bit on these to do the stuff for FabLab. For the most part they now have a base colour and tomorrow I am planning to ink them up and make a start on the highlighting, assuming the extra bases don't get in the way.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

FabLab, Wargames And Bases

Much to my surprise I got to FabLab just about on time. This proved to be a bad thing. Having booked the machine, someone else was using it when I got there and I was told that the time I had wasn't going to happen because they were going to close early. With a bit of targeted complaining I got them to extend the hours but still didn't get what I want done because it took over forty minutes to get the other guy of the machine.

For a while now I have been working on the idea and basics for a Savage Worlds driven wargame. There are a couple of wargame systems available already. The mass battle system in the rules is extremely basic and the Showdown rules won't handle mass battles. So I thought I could find a third way.

The plan calls for about ten to twelve units per side with units ranging from about five to thirty men. In a world where two hundred men might be called an army, this is about right. What I have wanted to do is give the rules a serious play test. I have played them through with digital paper counters and they seemed to work okay. Over the summer I have been thinking about doing it as a miniatures games, I just needed some sabot bases.

As a game it is really an extension of a RPG campaign but like most of my games, I like a mass battle element to them. So I want  a mass battle feel but still have the scope for using individual heroic characters. There are plenty of dark age figures in my collection but they are all based individually as I am primarily a roleplay at the moment. So whatever the rules were going to be would have to take this into account. I also wanted a system that would allow characters to be right up in the action but a bit more, well, wargaming light. The most obvious solution was sabot basing.

Take somewhere between two and six infantry or two or three cavalry figures per base. Make sure that there is some scope for bigger monsters and even light artillery (okay I have two dwarf balistas and I might get one for a Romano-British early saxon army).

I had hoped to walk away with about enough bases for two armies. Time got a bit short but I have still walked away with enough stuff for eighteen bases, admittedly some are not needed at the moment and I could do with a few more leg infantry bases. However, I should have enough of the stuff cut by the close of play on Saturday to make that happen.

A bit of sand, some time, some paint, some wash (maybe make some of my own wash as I am now going to need a lot of it) and a bit of highlighting and that should do me.Time is getting a bit tight to have all this done and finish my figures but I live in hope.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hellishly Busy Day

Not once today have I had a chance to pick up a paintbrush. Come to think of it I haven't even sat at the bench today. There has been a lot going on and to be honest, some of it has been pretty good.

Most of my limited laptop time has been spent doing stuff for fablab tomorrow. I have finished off all the ideas I have for the Viking Wargame and moved on to extra bits and pieces. This is more about basing. A while back I wrote myself, and my players some rules for basing after getting people who wanted to bring their own figures which were on display bases far too big for the 1" grids I use which came on piles of rocks almost doubling the size of the figures concerned. Most of the bases I already have but I figured some of the monster sized bases, especially the double length ones, not only do I not have but can't find. I thought I would try cutting out a swarm base as well and see if that looked any better. Pretty sure that it will and make the bases look a little more even to.

So I am hoping for a bit more basing time in the morning and maybe after I get back from FabLab. I should have a few samples to show as well.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A Good Year For The Blog

To be honest I have been blogging really hard this year. This probably explains why I have just hit seven hundred blog posts which is something that has made me proud. Some may say I have low standards :) Most of it seemed to make some sort of sense and it has gotten me few a number of darker days. It's already the year where I have posted the most and it's looking I will average over a post per day, if only just.

It does however seem to be paying off. Whilst the traffic has slowed a bit just of late, it is still running along at a much better rate than past years. Various other bloggers have been kind enough to put me on their blog rolls. Visitors are good but knowing that there are other people out there that think I am worth a mention really lifts my mood.

Playing a bit more of an active part in the blogging community and Google plus appears to have helped. I have more followers on the blog than last year, by about half a dozen or so and I've double my followers on Google plus. So I am quite happy.

I have done a bit of painting today. Although I could have done more, the base coats on the figures for the week are almost done. I'm at the Fablab tomorrow. For well over a year I have been working on a Savage Worlds wargame. The plan for tomorrow is to to make some sabot bases and actually give the game a dry run or two.

Monday, 11 September 2017

RIP Jerry Pournelle

Over my time blogging I have done several obituaries. To be honest I can't say I have any love of writing them nor any real talent in writing them. The thing is, people I admire keep dying. This may come as a surprise to you I know, given the shortage of admirable people out there.

When I first started reading  science fiction books by Jerry Pournelle were in just about every science fiction section of every bookshop. At the time I never read any of them. It's only in the last five years that I started reading them. I went through a phase of digging up old military sci fi books which brought him some criticism at the time. This, I think, was a product of the times he was living in and the world political situation in general and possibly some of his own experiences in the Korean War. He was something of a gamer in his time and contributed to a number of related gaming magazines. When I started going through some science fiction classics audiobooks, Jerry Pournelle figured quite highly on those lists. I guess his degree in Psychology did him more good than mine.

I guess it was his collaborations with Larry Niven that have stuck with me the most. The Mote In God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall are amongst my all time favourites. They are well thought through novels and have inherent consistency which make the worlds much more believable.

The guy was clearly a thinker. There are several statements referred to as "Pournelle's Law". The most relevant to me has always been "the importance of checking cable connections when diagnosing computer problems". Then there was the Iron Law of Bureaucracy. "In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely". If you have worked in any office, this has to colour your viewpoint in some way shape or form, depending on the side you were on.

He was a major advocate and early adopter of the personal computer. The are a number of non-fiction books he wrote about computers. This goes back to the early days of the personal computer. It is said to be the first author to have a book published that was written on a word processor.

I, for one, am sad that this talented man has passed away.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Just On The Edge

I have made it to the end of another week and I have stuck to The New Cruelty. Short of varnishing and a few embellishments on bases, I am back on target for my five figures per week. Five odds and sods figures, which I think are all Frostgrave, have been finished off. I have even got close to finishing a couple of background project ones on top of that.
So the plan is to do some early Saxon / Romano-British figures next. these are what is on the table and have been sat there for a while. They have been in the paint queue for about four years now. The whole Romano-British / Arthurian thing is a bit of an inspiration for me. This stems from the Merlin mini series years ago. The style of costume is probably a bit archaic for The Viking Game but I don't mind that. As a GM it is good to take a few liberties so they have become the figures I was going to use as The Kingdom Of Wessex. I did also think about using them as light elves and painting them with a white skin platte.
I've been to Southport today. There is a good gaming store there. A couple of presents have been brought for me. Not got them yet them, but I guess I will get them in a month or so. As a bonus I went to an arcade and walked out with enough 2p coins to meet my basing needs for another six months.

Back To FabLab

With the kids being back in school FabLab is back on. I went down there yesterday with little expectations of even getting access to the machine let alone the thing working properly. So I was surprised when there was no one there wanting to use it and the machine working properly. Apparently I had done a better job at diagnosing the problems with the machine that the staff had.

The trouble was that I didn't have much of an idea what to do. Over the last week or so I had an idea for a stick to paint figures on. Something I could slot in bases so that I could secure the figures with whilst priming and varnishing. As I have done a lot of that lately, I thought it might come in useful. Seems like it worked out well, hopefully not too well. This is a product I think I am going to produce.

This wasn't going to take too long so I thought i would cut up some bases. For years I have been using two 2p coins glued together as cavalry bases. This works well but us time consuming and messy. So I cut a few appropriately sized bases. I don't do too much cavalry (I have a thing about hating painting horses) but there are plenty of monster minis (I am thinking about the dozen or so dire wolves I did a few years ago). Then onto a few larger monster sized bases. My stocks of 30mm, 40mm and 50mm were running low so I thought I'd top these up.

There was a little bit of space left on the board so I thought I'd do some template sized circles for Savage Worlds. Sadly the Medium Burst Template didn't come out how I would of liked it.

For a while I have been working on a Savage Worlds wargame. I think I might give the sabot bases for that atrial during the week.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Auto Translate Is Not Always A Good Thing

I love the internet. It gives you some fantastic tools which makes dealing with the world so much easier. Sometimes though, things like auto translate do not always work.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

....So It Started With An Idea

I got a chance to bake the Fimo stuff I made yesterday. I did discover that there is an Urban Dictionary page for Fimo, of which more later.

To be honest I wasn't expecting much. Over the years I have played about with Fimo a few times and never really been all that interested in it. The only project that I liked were some figures I did for Low Life.  This suited my sculpting style (i.e. not very good) as the miniatures are somewhat cartoony. If this was what I wanted for another game, then I would have no problem going for it.

My initial results were about where I expected. The stuff does not solidify in the mould like green stuff. My normal approach is just to cover the thing I am moulding with a fair chunk of Instamould. This makes it even more difficult to get the model out. The idea that I had was to put lots of little bits of the plastic over the model. If you wait for each chunk to go cold, the mould breaks apart easier. What I did need to do was add another layer over the top to keep the bits together. In hindsight gluing the miniatures to the base was probably a mistake although it would probably work out well for green stuff. That said, with green stuff drying hard, the integral base isn't required.

As I said earlier, I wasn't expecting much. The final results are a little better than I expected but I did start out with a really low level of expectation. Would I use it for feature figures, well no. For what I have used it for, the results are good enough. There is about £1.20's worth of Fimo here so it's cheap enough for the miniatures but the craters, I am not so sure. There is some detail there.
 I like corpse markers for gaming and little bits of terrain. I did a load for 15mm, here and there. They give the RPG tabletop some more realism that usings a wash wipe marker. Most GMs just take figures off the table but I think there should be something left behind, even if it is only a minor obstacle. In the past I have just given casualty figures a very simple grey tone for 28mm figures, mainly for speed but the players seemed to like the "passed over to the other side" look.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

So It Started with An Idea....

A few weeks ago, when I was having a fit of preparing figures and priming them, I found the old GW corpses. One I think was a magic user and the other was a knight. These were in the first batch of figures I purchased, I guess this was some time around 1986.
My plan had been to base them, which I did, then prime and paint them.  Something just stopped me doing the priming. They are too bad to use and they have too much sentimental value to get rid of. This is probably why they have sat in a box for so long.

I've run out of green stuff but I still wanted to do something with them. I did find some Fimo though. So I thought I'd get the fimo and see what happened if I combined these with the figures. With most painted minis I would be worried about taking the paint off. The paint job is pretty woeful and it;s enamel so I figured there is a good chance all would be well.

So the moulds are done and filled. The plan is to leave them to cool a bit. I had warmed up the Fimo to make it more workable but even when it gets cool it will still may be too flexible. If this is the case I may put them in the fridge before pulling the castings out. I have also done a few casts of craters but these work out cheaper to buy than to cast and the originals look better. This was more about making multiple connecting craters  than getting something cheap anyway.

So I might post some results tomorrow.

The figure painting has progressed a bit. There are a few details and a little more ink to spread around. Then I'll do some highlighting and dry brushing but I am on target to finish in the next couple of days so I will get to work on some more figures and maybe even finish a few extras.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Where's My Head At?

This is yet another post about missing my gaming mojo. Come to think of it, my mojo has been lacking in general. I have done a bit of figure painting today but my heart has not been in it. Thinking back, this is probably why I did so much prep work the other week. My completer finisher moment seems to have passed me by.

Whilst I am still on target for the end of the week, there was this little bit of me hoping to get ahead of the game, if only by a little bit this week.  keep finding details that I have missed here and there. I 've even been so desperate not to paint that I have been painting bases. For mojo I should really be saying that I am missing a purpose. Noting is really lighting my fire.

What I really need to do is get back into doing some gaming. Painting figures is something I like doing but it's much better when I have an end in mind. At the moment, that is just not happening. All sorts of projects are passing through my head. Fir a little while I can work on one but not for more than an hour or so. This is my mind telling me to do something. Sadly this seems to be the perfect time to watch subtitled films.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Clerics Are More Or Less Done

I've not had much of a chance to get a huge amount done today but a few jobs have made it my way. The clerics are now pretty much done. These strike me as more abandoned than done completely. Tabletop standard is about the best I can say. There are a few bits I am not happy about. To be honest I am not sure if that is down to me or down to the moulds.
After a quick trip to the local hobby store I got some primer. The plan is that I will paint a few horses soon. Horses, the painting of them at least, is not my favourite pass time. It stems from my inability to paint them for a long time. Over the years I have gotten better but it's still a process I hate.

So still on track to get my ten figures complete and maybe the odd one on top of that.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Back To The Plan

It's back to painting. I have another five figures to paint this week as I do every week. Three are finished and two are pretty close to completion. On top of that there are another five that are close enough that I should be up to date. Typically for me, I have spent the day doing a lot of peripheral stuff and probably could have finished everything of if I had gotten down to it.

These are five priestly types. Admittedly one of them is meant to be a magic user and one is meant to be a potioneer. The first three are definitely Christian clerics and the last two will do for Norse clerics, something I don't have that much of.

Religion is definitely something I skirt around. Most games do not use mainstream religion and if they do they tend to minimise the way it interacts with the real world.

I am a little uncertain about using Christian clerics in the game. This goes double for Islamic clerics although there is no chance of that happening any time soon. This covers a geographic area that I am not about to deal with in the game until everything else is done. The Middle East in the dark ages is all Aladdin, Sinbad and A Thousand And One Nights so not an Islamic world as such. The Middle Eastern fantasy thing has been on my mind for over a decade. In general though, the figures that I want just aren't there.

Oddly enough the only person that is in anyway religious that might possible play the game, and therefore run the risk of getting annoyed is actually a practicing Pagan who is almost an Odinist. Odd the way things go.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Winter Is Here

I've been away all week so I have spent some of my day today catching up with the TV I have missed. Not least of which is Games of Thrones. Despite it being a short series it has been an eventful one. Baelish is dead. This is a good and bad thing. It's about time but the character is too good to kill off.

What I have been doing with the time I have had this week has all been about the Viking game. GOT does not give me direct inspiration. My game is something where I could take many ideas and make them work. What it does give me is ideas for staging.

Lord of the Rings has a good strong narrative. There is a reason why it is the best selling fantasy novel of all time. To give players a better experience, you have to give them plenty of options. In LOTR you are going to fight the forces of sauron. If you don't fight, the evil wins.
Winter is here but what happened to autumn. That's the British weather for you.
In GOT it is arguable that you must take up arms to fight the army of evil. To me is seems that there are more options. You can nail your colours to many masts and even flee. You are still going to end up in the same place, your path there is however far from direct.

In terms of running an RPG it gives you cause to think. History has a knock on effect on the present. In my game I am trying to create some form of history, It doesn't need to be too detailed. What it does need to do is explain the present and what is going to happen in the future.

Why are you enemies your enemies? Who did what to whom and when and why? I look at what I am doing and it is easy to figure out why the Vikings are not popular. They are traders and everyone needs trade so I guess they pick where to trade and where to raid. Within their own culture their are rivalries. Vikings probably loved their feuding like everybody else. Then there are external forces, monsters, weather and gods to name but a few.

So I have tried to come up with something of a timeline. I haven't put dates on any of them because I think these are the kind of details that get you bogged down. So there are recent events, events sinec your children were born, when you were children when your grandfather was alive and going all the way back before the times of legend.

Players need a place in the world. Preferable that place should be unpleasant enough that they have some motivation. It may be oppression, imprisonment, some external force or just the desire for a slightly wealthier lifestyle.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Viking Trading, Vanity Projects And The Enf Of The Holiday.

The end of the holiday is almost here. I should be back home tomorrow. Whilst I am enjoying the holiday, I will be glad to be back home.

Yesterday I found a nice little model shop in Portmadoc. It was a bit of a surprise as the place seems to mainly be a mix of shops that sell Portmerion pottery and charity shops. I got a few bits there but most of what they had isn’t currently on the shopping list. The staff were pretty friendly and the prices were reasonable.

What time I have had has been spent on the Viking game. Even the paperwork for this is turning into a never ending project. I have my bads guys worked out and readsy to roll out mayham across the land. I have tinkered about a few of my “myths” to ensure they all have internal consistency and I have been working on a trading system.

Having played way too much Traveller when I was younger I am still fascinated many of the systems. One of the ones in it, the trading system, has never really been attempted outside of Traveller. Trading was a big part of the Viking world. Along with raiding, it was trading that extended the influence of the Viking culture and it was this I wanted to give the players a chance to play out.

Essentially I took the basic Traveller trading system. I changed the goods around. There are no ATVs or radioactives in the Viking world. So I did a bit of research about the kind of goods traded and put them in the list. Then I had a think about the way the modifiers for trade. I took some categories and left some others out. Then added a few more. Population plays a part in the system so I had a few ideas about that. So I created a table and some modifiers and so on.

When it gets down to it, this is a vanity. The game would play without it as it would with a few other systems. Over the years I have criticised people for doing the same. It’s not the only vanity project in the game. There are already a few created for the game.

There is an even bigger vanity project to follow. Savage Worlds already have a couple of mass battle systems but none fit what I want for this game. What I am after is something more like a wargame (almost DBA) that allows for characters (player and non-player) to have some impact on the battle Showdown is not a bad system but I am after battles with hundred involved not dozens. This needs something completely different. There is a plan but it needs play testing. I want to do this properly so this might start out as a project for the laser cutter later in the month when I am back at FabLab.

Early start in the morning and a long day of driving so probably best I go to bed now.