Sunday 28 April 2024

Stainless Steel Planning


I've been having all sorts of fun re-reading the Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison and am slowly putting together a list of what I need to collect up to get my project re-started.

As such, I've been rummaging my 15mm stuff and have begun work on cleaning, tidying and sorting out suitable figures as well as painting up some odds and ends to add to the mix:

Governor General van Dorn, accompanied by Journo's observes militia manoeuvres.

While I've still got quite a bit of work to do, mostly on refurbing bases to make them a bit brighter, I'm quite pleased with how well some of these old paintjobs have held together and I'm looking forward to getting more done over the coming weeks.

Media Scrum!

While I'm using the Stainless Steel Rat novels as inspiration, I will be diverging somewhat to use characters in a somewhat different fashion, so for example, the villainous Count Cassitor Rdunrundt is only in one book and decidedly a side character but I plan on making him more of a nemesis, if somewhat hapless as we can't have our anti-hero being outshone by a thuggish toad!

The Governor's personal ride - prime target for theft!

While I do love the larger scale stuff and 28mm, this smaller scale does allow me to paint up quite a bit of stuff with minimal time and still looks pretty decent on the table and should allow me to get some games played fairly quickly to boot.

I've discovered I actually have quite a few civilians and non combatants painted up ranging from heavy exo-suited construction guys to lowly journalists and random passers by which is a handy and rather unexpected boon as I do need to represent quite a few miscellaneous denizens of assorted worlds to add random elements to my scenarios.

On top of that, I do have several little warbands that make for suitable combatants in the game too as there's nothing to stop me from having Jim turn up on Farpoint to loot the Governor Generals private wine cellar...
Journalistic Talent

I painted these little Peter Pig journalists a while back and still have a half pack to paint as rivals. In hindsight, I do think that the central pair should have been mounted on a 25mm rather than 30mm base but I will add another doodad onto it to bulk it out a bit. 

A have also found some of my newer Rdunrundt troops. I painted these when I'd been planning on using AK-47 Republic for a pulpy sci-fi ruleset but had been dissatisfied with how they turned out but looking at them now, they're not as bad as I had thought. Hopefully I'll get another few painted in the coming weeks to add up to a full squad of eight.

Finally, to get back into the swing of 15mm painting, I found my old WW2 US troops that have languished in my bits box for probably two decades now (once again Peter Pig figures) and decided to paint them up as random low tech sci-fi troops. Their should actually be six of them but I managed to drop one in the man cave and can't find him which is one of the downsides to smaller scales but I really like how they came out.

I may go back and paint some sort of emblem on their helmets but I figure they'll do as is for the time being.

With this fresh enthusiasm, I'm hoping to keep the mojo going and even if I don't manage to get many games played, I do seem to be really enjoying the process of reading favourite books and painting random gubbins so I'll take it as a win!

Hopefully I'll have something more to show in my next post but until then, All the best!

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Not Dead!


Well it's been a bit longer than I'd like between updates but we've still got issues with ongoing, if now infrequent floods coming from our upstairs neighbour and an awful lot of stuff to do at work has resulted in possibly my biggest hobby slump in years.

I've tried the usual approach of stopping my current project and trying something completely different which resulted in a total stoppage of interest in hobby shenanigans which is a bit rubbish to say the least.

Fortunately I have a very amazing and understanding wife and she got me to go out for a bit of a drive and walking session on my last couple of days off to get some fresh air and indeed much needed relaxation which has given me a bit of perspective and time to refocus.

While I've found work incredibly rewarding, I seem to have completely given up on any hobby time, with what spare time I've had been focused on stressing about our kitchen being ruined or watching the odd Youtube video and even my usual fallback of reading hadn't been enough to get me out of my funk.

Now I must say, I do not think I've been depressed during all this, just a bit frazzled and somewhat burnt out from doing too much and the whole flooding nonsense, not to mention the rather daft worry about updating my blog on the regular basis with a project, Leviathan, that I just wasn't ready for.

With this in mind, I'm going to be stepping back from the Leviathan project just now. It's been my obsession for 20 odd years now and it will wait for another for the sake of my sanity.

An Oaf in the woods

I'm also going to take a wee break from blogging to catch up with my reading and have been blasting my way through the Stainless Steel Rat books by Harry Harrison and plan on revisiting a host of other titles and authors that I read many moons ago as I feel its really important to reconnect with the imagination that I seem to have somewhat lost sight of in the modern world.

This doesn't mean I'm giving up my blog, far from it! I've found my re-reading of the Stainless Steel Rat books has got me remembering what fun I had with my old 15mm project/campaign log featuring the exploits of a certain interstellar crook, one Slippery Jim di Griz! 

Slippery Jim and Galactic peacekeepers

With this in mind, I've already had a rummage through my unpainted lead-pile for a handful of suitable figures and have got them cleaned, based and primed for some paint on my next morning off. Sadly I'd deleted the old Special Corps blog which housed the project when I started Tales From Farpoint but as the pictures were decidedly poor quality, I figure its not too much of a loss and I'll see if I can re-do it and start afresh as I still have all the posts saved somewhere!

This is a decidedly small project that I figure I can potter away with to see if I can't rejuvenate my rather battered hobby spirit and if it succeeds, Huzzah!

I've also got another mini project that is slowly taking form of a more fantasy nature but this seems to be really scratching the itch I didn't realise I had.

Now I've been blathering on for long enough so I'll call it a night but I wanted to say thankyou to everyone who has followed my gaming adventures and I'll post again when I've got the chance along with a progress report and hopefully some finished figures too!

In the meantime, All the best!

Saturday 9 March 2024

Five Parsecs From Home Mini Campaign - Initial Thoughts


In an attempt to get myself out of a bit of a hobby slump caused by lots of work, floods in the flat and having the lurgy that refused to clear up, I decided to have a bash at Five Parsecs From Home.

I've had the book for quite a while now and I've watched quite a few battle reports and campaigns of folks playing the game on Youtube and I quite liked how it looked so rolled up a crew and got gaming.

I used a couple of name generators to help me develop the crew and the worlds they will be fighting in as well as the assorted denizens they will be meeting. This did result in some interesting names and helped flesh out the campaign as it went on.

Setting wise, I'm using a bit of a hybrid of the Void and Kryomek settings so the only alien menaces are going to be the Kryomek while the assorted human or cyborg factions will be making up the bulk of the rest of the encounters.

My initial crew of six consisted of five humans and one robot and I was quite lucky with both firepower and patrons so right from the get go, the crew of the Polaris have found themselves thrust right into the centre of the action on the megacity world of Meerut.

Meerut has turned out to be a gloomy place with every battle having limited lighting thanks to random rolls on the Five Parsecs charts so I'm going to keep it that way throughout the campaign with the sun casting a feeble glow on a twilight city of neon, rain and broken dreams.

Their first job came from a wealthy individual known as Brother Yako Tino, a member of the somewhat secretive Kin who hired the team to secure a remote data core which was being held by a group of mercenaries called the Vicious Riders or VR's (this was one of the random generator results and its pretty lame but it does lend itself to the VR's being a bunch of puffed up buffoons who will make for good rivals!).

During the confrontation, the crew of the Polaris succeeded in securing the core but the ships captain, Finnegan Alucard was badly wounded and much of the cash payment from their patron was spent on medical bills to stop him from dying right from the get go. 

Handily their operation went well enough that Brother Yako has become a persistent patron, meaning that even if we leave the planet, he will follow us (or possibly another of the shadowy members of the Kin will turn up!).

The Vicious Riders, stung at being driven off from a lucrative contract of their own and their pride somewhat deflated have sworn vengeance and have become my crews first rivals in the campaign and I now need to flesh out who they are and what motivates them and indeed why they have such a stupid name (something my crew will no doubt mock them for at every opportunity).

The second campaign turn saw my captain stuck in the infirmary and another patron, this time a governmental toady names Alejandro Ortiz who introduced himself as a member of the Meerut Planetary Relations Council, or MPRC and requested our help in investigating a science station on the nearby moon of Barling-1 which had for some reason, lost communication with the MPRC. 

As the pay was good and my crew needed the cash to pay off the medical expenses of captain Finnegan and their ship debt, they agreed and a reduced crew travelled to the isolated outpost only to find it in ruins and seemingly abandoned. As their job was to secure the site, they set to work doing so when they encountered the reason the facility was in ruins. 

The Converted are rogue AI's that fled the Syntha and seek to enslave humanity by turning them into mindless slaves and a shuffling horde of tech zombies promptly attacked them. During the ensuing desperate firefight, the crews robot Qiao managed to outflank one of the groups of attackers and blast the leading zombie with her pistol but was in turn knocked out of the fight by a hail of return fire and in the swirling chaos, another crew member, Nivian was killed by a lucky shot. 

The remaining trio consisting of Laurinda, Aylin and Onu managed with a mix of luck and insane courage to destroy all the remaining Converted acquisition zombies and secure the site.

Unfortunately in the final moments of the skirmish, Onu was taken out of action and would spend three campaign turns stuck in the sick bay. 

Mourning the loss of their crewmate, bloody and unbowed, the crew then strong armed a profusely sweating Ortiz to pay up, including danger pay and with a little gentle persuasion to provide a friendly Doc to patch up Onu and Finnegan. 

Following the game, Laurinda and Aylin have levelled up and my robot Qiao was undamaged and even managed to repair the kit that the Converted had damaged.

At this point I'm two games into the campaign, have no doubt missed quite a few rules and steps in the campaign system itself but having a great time!

The game itself has a lot going for it for a solo gamer and is very narrative driven and once you get into the swing of how it works, its really quick to play and great fun too. 

I'm adding quite a few little narrative elements to the process to bring the game to life a bit and give each of my crew and their ship as well as the setting a bit more depth but Five Parsecs is a great option that is generic enough to use in pretty much any setting but provides a surprisingly deep amount of engagement. I'm still mourning the loss of my crewman Nivian who only lasted two games but its really giving me the much needed boost to get back into some serious gaming.

The first two games were played using tokens on a pinboard with some scenery thrown on but I do intend on getting some proper crew and opponent figures done but may end up using standees as the casualties do mount up and the number of varied opponents are pretty numerous so collecting and painting a full range of figures for the gam is probably beyond me at present.

I've just rolled up the third campaign turn and it looks like I'm about to mix it up with a squad of enforcers from the VR's so I'm looking forward to playing the game and giving them a damn good thrashing. I've also recruited a new team member called Norm who will be replacing the lamented Nivian. Also with captain Finnegan back on his feet its going to be a really interesting campaign to continue.

Each skirmish lasted 30 or so minutes and was pretty action packed and really encourages you to stick to cover and its worth remembering that your average human isn't going to cope to well with a bullet!

I do recommend folks give the game a try as it's such a fun experience and I'm now eying up my copy of Five Leagues from the Borderlands, the fantasy version of the game for possible miniature gaming!

In the meantime, All the best!

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Rogue Trader Reprint: A Long, Long Time Coming


Just a quick update today as I'm pretty busy but I thought I'd post my thoughts on the Rogue Trader reprint.

So as of typing, the book still hasn't arrived and reading around the internet, this seems to be quite a common occurrence in the UK with stock arriving recently in the US but with the book being printed in China, it appears that we'll be waiting a while yet for copies to appear.

In GW's defence, they did say it could take up to 180 days or 6 months but it does feel like this has turned into a bit of a cash grab before the release of the Old World fantasy battle stuff.

I'm willing to wait a wee bit to get hold of my copy but I must admit that I'm getting to the point where I may cancel my order as I am actively moving away from GW games and delving further into my collection of old indie stuff, especially as there has been some comment from folks who did get their copy that have mentioned its not the best quality wise with photos being described as being a bit on the dark side.

I suspect that is due to the fact that GW had to scan a copy of the original so its never going to be perfect but it sounds like they could have tweaked the images a wee bit to clear them up. I'll no doubt hum and hah about it for the rest of the week but I'm edging closer to just moving onto something else and the refunded pennies could be better used for something else that will get regular play...

We shall see if there's any update this week and I'll make the decision on Saturday and possibly dedicate the saved cash to a small indie company that needs it more than the behemoth.

In the meantime, All the best!

Tuesday 13 February 2024

A Great Flood


Apologies for the lack of updates over the last week or so. We've got an ongoing leak coming through our kitchen ceiling which has now been going on for three months.

The landlord for the flat upstairs has been in repeatedly to try and fix it but still it persists. Sometimes we have a whole week without water coming through but at others its poured through resulting in a kitchen we can't really use until repairs are complete.

Unsurprisingly this has been rather praying on my mind and while its currently slowed down somewhat, its a bit of a distraction from much needed hobby time.

Hopefully it will be properly fixed this weekend but until then, I doubt much hobby shenanigans will be had!

On a brighter note, I've got a few sculpts finished and hope to be able to show them soon which will then see my Leviathan project kicking off. In an attempt to distract myself further from the flood from above, I'm also going to revamp my original Leviathan blog and stock it up with rewritten and formatted articles about the original game. This will be a bit of a slow burn sort of project but once I've got the first few posts up, I'll share it here.

In the meantime, All the best!

Monday 5 February 2024

An Ode to Obscure Games: Exploring Settings and Factions


I've been sculpting furiously over the last week and have got the next batch of figures for my Leviathan project but as I'm trying to get an entire faction at least to a decently playable condition, it's taking a while but my Children of the Worm should be about ready to paint come this weekend which is great.

In the meantime, I thought I'd have a look at how to incorporate some of the obscure games from my collection into something a bit more focused, namely looking at setting a mini campaign in one of them.

For this I've rummaged out my original Void 1.0 rulebook which has the rules and basic background for the game as well as core troop choices for each faction. Weighing in at 48 pages, the original Void rulebook is none the less a really great wee read, chock full of background that helps set the scene for the game that would develop over the following years.

We have an outline of the civilisation, namely the Viridia Solaris-Leviathan binary system where humanity originated from. We then have a brief overview of the binary systems planets and brief history of how the civilisation, originating on Viridia spread initially throughout the system and began to squabble amongst each other resulting in war and a split between the Viridians, Junkers of Ironglass and the Syntha of Prime.

We also get a good overview of how FTL travel works in the setting, largely due to the gravity well of the dead star Leviathan and then the book explores each of the factions in greater length comparing everything from their commerce to military and politics which serves to give a good grounding on how each of said factions will operate in setting.

We have the eco-capitalist Viridians who have a megacorporate democracy and generally good tech level. Its citizens are probably the freest of the settings societies but as they're working for the megacorporations, this is must be taken with a pinch of salt. Their military is well equipped but risk averse so rely more on well equipped troops who can hold the enemy off at range.

The Junkers of Ironglass are a despotic society, loosely based on Rome with the basic citizens life being grim, hard and brutal, not to mention short. Coupled with their tendency to appropriate tech, planets and resources whenever possible, they're clearly not nice guys. The inner council of the Junker's senate aren't even known, so highly do they keep their secrecy. Military wise, the Junkers are numerous and eminently disposable with short range weapons better suited to close in firefights and assaults.

The Syntha of Prime are a technocratic society who believe in melding humanity with machine and develop artificial intelligences using Prime Obsidian, a super rare material only found on their homeworld. Interestingly it is stated that there are two tiers of citizens, the lower class Synthetics such as AI's and synthetic beings while the upper is the Prosthene or cyborg humans. At the same time their society is guided by an AI called Prime. Unsurprisingly the Syntha rely on technology over numbers.

Finally we have VASA or the Viridian Aeronautics and Space Agency who are based on Vacillus and are essentially a combination of scientific administrators, law enforcement, the UN and Nato. They seek to keep peace amongst the members of the Tripartite Confederacy. As such they have access to the best tech and gear and are pretty heavy handed in trying to stop humanity from both wiping itself out and in resisting the Korolan menace.

This sort of information is really handy as it gives you so many handy hints and creative choices if you wish to incorporate the Void setting into your own games or wish to play the game as meant and I do like the fact its all pretty hard sci-fi without the whole mysticism or space fantasy of many other games. 

When you compare it to the older ruleset, Kryomek, you can absolutely see its influences with the Nexus Quarumate and its mixture of megacorporate shenanigans facing an implacable alien menace so it wouldn't take much work to combine the two with just a small amount of effort.

Next we move onto the Void rules themselves, these are a nice, tight and quick skirmish set that is clearly aimed, at least initially at 30-40 figures a side. Looking at the rules, I see no reason why it won't work perfectly well for much smaller skirmishes with 5-10 figures fighting it out with only minor adjustments and may well be a way of trying out the game quickly and easily.

The other option is to use the setting as a guide and instead of concentrating on the big sweeping stuff and instead get down to the nitty gritty. There are plenty of interesting options for the skirmish gamer by just reading the rules. I could easily imagine creating a small raiding party of Junkers seeking loot, Syntha scientific expedition protected by AI troopers, Viridian marines off on a bug hunt or even independent colonists trying to hold off one of the great powers who seek to incorporate them into their fold. VASA could be used as enforcer types, either NPCs with set objectives or as a punishment unleashed on any warband that gets too overpowered in a campaign.

One of the criticisms I've head of Void is that it is a bit generic and the figures are bland and possibly compared to the super detailed and even fiddly stuff that GW produces, this is to some extent true but with a bit of a read of the rules and forethought, it does make for a really intriguing setting that lends itself to digging into and exploring.

When you combine this with other rulebooks which are specifically aimed towards small skirmishes, such as Star Mogul or Planet 28, there's the framework for a gripping narrative to be explored in small scale.

Combined with the Battles With Miniatures magazines and Army Books, all freely available to download from Seb Games, there's a lot of inspiration to be found and I do look forward to porting Farpoint into it and seeing what I can come up with 

I'll be posting more of my thoughts when using other games, specifically sci-fi for my next update and we shall see where it takes me but in the meantime, All the best!

Thursday 1 February 2024

An Ode to Obscure Games: Leviathan


I figured that after all this rummaging through my collection of obscure games, it was high time I actually posted about my main project this year, Leviathan!

Published in 1995 by Grendel Miniatures, Leviathan was a game that I discovered, like so many others, in Macs Models and was immediately fascinated by the stunning artwork produced by Adrian Smith. Macs Models even had lots of the original art up on the wall which I still regret not buying when they were available!

Unsurprisingly, I picked up the rulebook immediately and that was me. Sadly I didn't end up doing much with it until I headed off to university in 2006 where I arrived in Worcester, a city I'd only visited once and knew nobody having sold off literally every miniature I owned and most of the rulebooks and gaming magazines. While university was brilliant, I found myself hankering after miniatures and had for some reason, brought my rather battered copy of Leviathan with me and re-read it for the first time in over a decade.

Here was a very different fantasy world from the GW Old World. It had suffered an apocalypse called The Death which saw the thrice cursed Elves break a great seal which unleashed the princes of the fallen upon the world. At the same time a great storm of wild magic roiled across the world, mutating, changing and causing vast destruction as it went and now the surviving races must fight to survive this harsh new world.

The now throughly evil Elves squat in their great obelisks in the wastes ride forth to reconquer their shattered realm, accompanied by terrible monsters summoned from other realms and the warped remains of the dragons.

The barbarian tribes of the North march to a final war to avenge the mutilation of the Earth Mother. They ride great razorback boars and have the power to warp themselves in a battle frenzy and their druids can summon elemental creatures to aid them in battle.

The Orcs and their slaves, the Goblins pour from the endless plains of the east atop great lizards to ravage and claim the ruined world for themselves, driven on by their god Gorath who they summoned by the ritual sacrifice of all their shamans.

The Dwarves, locked up in their subterranean holds survived The Death better than most and now emerge with blackpowder weaponry and great steam driven engines of destruction to hold their mountain fastnesses and drive back the forces who wish to destroy them.

The rules themselves are pretty interesting but do feel like they are aimed at two very different styles of game. On the one hand, the setting and big beasties that were created for the game work for either small scale skirmishes with 5-10 figures a side fighting for resources or up to a large warband of several units supported by a handful of larger monsters or war engines, somewhat like 40k 2nd edition.

The rules themselves though seem to be aimed more towards Fantasy Battle sort of scale and need a 4'x8' board to play and regiments of troops fighting. At this level, it feels like it should have had a mass battle option with 10-15mm scale figures that would be better suited to the mass battle and mighty engines of war sort of thing.

Despite this, the game really appealed to me, and over the next few years, I picked up a lot of resin bits and bobs and even had a bash at creating usable warbands but the sheer size of the undertaking was too much and when I left uni, the project had stalled.

Over the next decade or so, I've tried to restart the game with limited success, managing to play a game each year using cardboard tokens to represent units and it actually worked pretty well but there is no substitute for a proper miniature game with painted miniatures.

This saw the birth of the Boar Company with their leader Grimli who I've sculpted in different scales over the years and their ongoing rivalry with their nemesis, Marik Goldhelm, a rogue wizard and much enjoyment has been had from it.

Similarly, as I played a small skirmish game using the setting, rather than the rules, the setting began to morph and change, with a new background forming until it was very much an original beast in its own right.

The Elves were now the remnants of an interstellar empire who unleashed The Death by creating a fell magitech machine to fight a foe so terrible that in defeating it, the Elves cursed themselves. Now there are multiple factions of them squabbling over the ruins. Some remain true to their original selves, others have fallen to evil or genetic modification or even magitech addiction.

The Orcs became Gorathians, soldiers from another world who the Elves used as footsoldiers in their wars who seek to return to their own world and will destroy all who stand in their way. They have access to crude blackpowder weaponry and when combined with their command of saurian mounts are a force to be reckoned with.

The Dwarves are engineers and builders whom the Elves had used to build their vast obelisk palaces and create the engines of war but turned against them when they turned on The Machine and now seek to bring order to the chaotic wastelands of Aeroth. They make use of technology and engineering but slowly turn to stone as they age so even their ancestors are still around and their souls can be implanted into machines to march to war along with their kin.

The Barbarians are the hardened survivors of The Death who roam the world in warbands seeking a new and safe homeland following the destruction wrought by the Elves. Once slaves to the Elves they are free people but live a hard, nomadic life of raiders and are somewhat like a combination of Mad Max and Slaine...

As the setting started developing off on a tangent, the background becoming very different from the original, I started moving away from the old resin sculpts and even the style of game that the original Leviathan rules were aimed towards and I have to say that I don't regret it as I've had a huge amount of enjoyment from putting together my own world and sculpting my own figures but I do find myself hankering after at least putting the original Leviathan to bed by completing at least one small warband using the original figures...

I still have a fair amount of resin miniatures from the range which could be put to good use so maybe this year will see me work towards getting a warband constructed and painted but I suspect that this is going to be beyond my abilities, if for no other reason storage for large painted resin miniatures is a bit of a nightmare and I just don't have the space for more than a 3'x3' board making gaming the original rules somewhat of an impossibility.

So where does this leave me? I do have plenty of options to use other rulesets but using the original setting to create some really interesting gaming. For example, how about using Frostgrave to represent different magic users investigating the ruined megacities of Aeroth in search of lost lore.

Rangers of Shadowdeep, Five Leagues from the Borderlands or Brutalquest could see brave bands of adventurers exploring the ruined wastelands and fighting dire foes to keep their homes safe from the perils of the post Death world.

There's even options for creating larger warbands with 30-40 figures to duke it out with each other with Rogue Trader or No Quarter so I do still have options!

At present, I've ben trying to get more of my SD sculpts finished that will represent the Children of the Worm, worhshippers of a great white worm that inhabits the southern deserts whose flesh, if consumed gives the gift of unlife so expect to see some fresh fights and rivals for the Boar Company.

But this approach is very slow as I can only sculpt about 4-5 figures a week and when you include painting, this stretches things out even more so I may end up with a bit of a two pronged approach to things and create some mini challenges of a Leviathan theme throughout the year, be it creating a couple of warbands for Brutalquest using pre-existing miniatures and building them up to Frostgrave levels or making scenery suited to the setting.

Coupled with this, I do find myself being drawn to another project, namely Void 1.1. With the upcoming release of Void 2.0 by Seb Games, I do think it would be fun to do a bit of an army challenge sort of thing where I give myself 3 months to paint one of the army starter boxes and then bulk it out to a full 1500 point army (which isn't too much of a challenge when that would be 30-40 figures and a vehicle or two).

This would give me lots to be getting on with and should keep me from burning out or losing motivation which is something I have had to deal with in the past, especially with Leviathan.

We shall see what I get through in the coming months but I do plan on trying out as many rulesets as I can this year (my record is currently 7 different rulesets played in a single year and I'm keen to break this!).

Hopefully I'll get myself in gear to make a start on the somewhat nebulous projects in the coming weeks but until then, All the best!