Tuesday 30 August 2016

The Magonium Mine Murders: What happens next?

One of the problems with sandbox scenarios is that people often feel they're a bit static. You know, you venture into the Vale of Doom or whatever, but since there isn't really a narrative as such, some players or GMs struggle to see the effect of player actions.

Now, as I understand it, the way these are supposed to work is that you just what you do with a sandbox you created yourself. You just figure out what the NPCs' motivations, knowledge and responses are, and you're off to the races. But it would be nice to have some rough ideas of what might happen next, just to get you thinking.

Maybe not this exactly.

This kind of thing is what I'm thinking about for the what-happens-now section:

Friday 26 August 2016

Zombies! Dozens of them!

So, friend Adam asked me to talk a little about my zombie apocalypse miniatures projects. However, he said "like The Magonium Mine Murders," so I expect he's going to be disappointed. I haven't put anything like the level of thought into the zombies as I have into that project. Still, though, let's take a look:

The dead walk!
 So there was a period when everybody and their mum was doing some kind of zombie project on Lead Adventure. I was already interested in post-apocalyptic gaming, and the two seemed to overlap naturally, as well as overlapping with some of my other collecting interests.

So over the years I've been putting together a zombie project. I consider it mostly finished: I have a few dozen various survivors and about 60-70 painted zombies, which is all I really need for most games.

For rules, I've had good results using a little two-page zombie skirmish rules set from Akula's Rules (although the file doesn't seem to be available at the moment).

The rules include a number of different types of zombie -- fast ones, big strong ones and clever(er) ones. I have various different models I use to represent these. 

In proper frugal gaming style, quite a lot of my zombie collection are really cheap models, like these repainted HorrorClix figures (the guy on the right also has a head swap). They are a bit large, but on the other hand eh.

Both some of the zombies and some of the survivors (like the guy on the right) come from Wargames Factory kits (have these since been purchased by Warlord?). The models are only OK, but the price is right. With the zombies in particular, it's all about the massed effect.

Some of the other models are from the first Reaper Bones Kickstarter, like the guy with the fro above and this state trooper here.

Horde bases serve as mobile spawn points for the zombies. These models were super quickly-painted and just bunged on some large bases, but they do the job of suggesting a roaming mob of the undead. I also have some "hand reaching out of a grave" and "oozing green toxic waste barrel" spawn points, although I can't currently find the latter.

What's really missing from my collection at the moment is more properly urban scenery. When I set up a full-scale town, I need to make sure there are plenty of parks and maybe a docks where I can deploy my crane and all these crates and containers. I do still have a train station and firehouse I need to do something with, but you know how it goes. One thing at a time.

Despite the shortage, I view this project as pretty much done and only return to it every now and again when a cool new model falls into my hands (like the lady with the mobile phone in the second photo in this post). I haven't played anything to do with it in years, but I could always dust it off and host a game if anyone feels like it.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Preliminary Frostgrave campaign finished, painting update, and some thoughts

So last week pal Buzz and I played what will probably be the last game of Frostgrave with our existing warbands. I think it went pretty well: the game turned on events right at the end, it was both strategic and swingy, all that good stuff.

Cultists approach the inn. Frankly, my terrain is a little more like "Mossgrave."
What I would really like to do now is get together four or five players here in or near Cambridge, start again from the beginning, and just play through the Thaw of the Lich Lord campaign. I have enough models to create warbands for other members -- I even have a few in mind if the players are interested. I think it's doable, but I'm going to complete at least one of my other gaming projects first.

A Giant Worm erupts right in the dang middle of a seven-person fight and takes out Buzz's most dangerous hand-to-hand fighter. I got lucky on this one, folks. 
Anyway, I have to say that this has turned out to be a good game for me -- I completed a project, got some great models, used some of them in other games, played some games with friends and finally feel like I've got this thing pretty much under control.

Painting update!

Two new models finished: a modern civilian (possibly from Rafm) that I got in the aforementioned minis joblot and a young zombie-fighter from Hasslefree I picked up at the bargain stand at Salute 2015. I may post about zombie gaming on Friday.

"Uh, guys ... you might want to finish shooting."

"What have we learned about the undead, young lady?"
"Remove the head or destroy the brain, Sister Mary Magnum."
"That's a good girl."

Monday 22 August 2016

One of those good problems.

So a friend of mine posted on social media a few weeks ago, saying that he had some old miniatures he no longer needed and asking if I wanted them. I thought "sure, why not?" I went off to BOYL, and in the meantime my wife, who was at a different gaming event, picked up the minis for me.

So ...

so this is the models I got at BOYL plus the models from the box. The ones I'm not going to swap away, that is (I figure I can't sell gifts given in a sense of gamerly comradeship, but I can swap them to other gamers who want them for more models).

And there are some more -- things that are currently on my painting table, things still in the Dettol jar, things that need to be stuck back together ... it's over 100 models all told. There are Goodwin Skaven, the halflings Copplestone did for Grenadier, an Ansell Chaos warrior, Nick Lund ogres, Queen Helgar, Night Horrors, and much more. I've had half a dozen great ideas so far. And, of course, all the great Ramshackle and other models I got at BOYL, including some old Essex fantasy stuff I'm going to turn into a little scenario group ...

So ... I'd better get painting, but first I'm gonna need to reorganise my storage boxes.

I have resolved that, even though I'm working on this challenge with The Responsible One, what I'm gonna do is, every time I prep and prime a batch of models, I'm going to try to do at least one additional model from this collection.

In fact, the first one of these is already painted. Check it out:

This is some kind of ghoul, or possibly a Nosferatu vampire from the Ral Partha Vampire: the Masquerade miniatures line -- it's definitely an RP model, and just looking at it I suspect it was sculpted by Dennis Mize. Anyway, I did the usual speed-paint technique: primed it grey, drybrushed up with VMC Medium Sea Grey and a 50/50 mix of that with VMC Foundation White. Then I washed the ragged clothing with Army Painter Soft Tone and mixed black and yellow washes for the skin. Black boots, ground, eyes, teeth, done.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

The Magonium Mine Murders: system stuff

Another update on my ongoing plan to turn my scenario, The Magonium Mine Murders, from note form into a product a DM could use to run it.

One thing I haven't talked about is system. The obvious thing to do is use the extension of the OGL to 5th edition to write it for 5th, which, after all, is the system I'm currently using to run the game. 

This has obvious advantages: first, it's a popular system and one I'm reasonably familiar with. The scenario will include a couple of monsters, some magic items and so on, which gives 5th ed. DMs some crunchy bits to play with in a field where that's still a pretty valuable thing. 

The bad news is that I am not a systems guy, on the whole. One of the things I like about the OSR (and the Oldhammer movement, come to that) is that the loosey-goosey attitude to rules means that concept is more important than implementation. But I feel like if I'm going to be selling something, I can't just half-ass it, which is 100% what I would normally do in my campaign. 

The alternative, I suppose, would be to do it systemless or based on some kind of OSR consensus (systemless like most One-Page Dungeons, or Gormand's Larder, or loose consensus like Maze of the Blue Medusa). But while I think that might be easy, it feels phony. It isn't ... my native language, so to speak. And I feel like the scenario is probably 90% system-independent, anyway. 

I do feel like the language of 5th edition is easier to speak for me. Here's the stat block for a Mole Man, for instance.

Incautious adventurers trespass upon the territory of the Mole Men!
Mole Man
Medium humanoid (mole man), lawful neutral

Armour Class 13 (natural armour)
Hit Points 13 (2d8 + 4)
Speed 30 ft., Burrow 30 ft.

Str 14 (+2) Dex 12 (+1) Con 14 (+2) Int 11 (+0) Wis 16 (+3) Cha 10 (+0)

Skills  Nature +2
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Subterran
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)

Light sensitivity. Mole Men have disadvantage on all saving throws, perception checks and attack rolls while in sunlight or similarly bright light.

Surprise attack. Mole Men have advantage on attack rolls in a turn in which they emerge from a burrowing move.


Claw. Melee Weapon. Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+2) slashing damage.

I think that's about right, although it doesn't reflect the fact that Mole Men use a variety of weapons.

Now, I don't quite know the ropes with the 5e SRD and the OGL and whatnot, but half of this is about teaching myself things. Of course, that's going to be rather more difficult with design and layout, which I did briefly do for a living, but ... that was in 1999. 

I suspect what I will do is draft the thing and then bounce it off someone who knows more of the system than I do. I do have scruples about the extent to which I'm relying on the unpaid help of others, but that's a post for another time. 

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Tale of Gamers: painting progress

Just a quick update on the joint painting project I am doing with Tim of The Responsible One's Wargaming Blog!

I have painted a few models, which was a great relief as I was, for reasons that will be seen in a post next week, itching to get some done.

This is one of the sorcerer's familiars. He's a little Reaper Bones imp guy, and he was very simple to paint. I primed him grey, then just drybrushed up to pure white. The main body got a 50/50 mix of green and yellow washes, while the tentacles are a mix of purple wash and old Liche Purple GW paint. The wings and a few other areas got a very thin purple wash, and then I highlighted up with a mix of Coat d'Arms Goblin Green and VMC Yellow Green. He's not very big, as you can see -- that's a 20 mm base.

This is the test model for my marauders. He had the same basic grey-then-wash setup, with a mixture of black wash and black paint for the armour and boots. His skin, following a suggestion from my friend Ian, is a mix of yellow and purple washes, with some areas then touched up with GW Carroburg Crimson to look inflamed. Everything else is just basic washes, with most of the colour in this unit intended to come from the shield. The unifying colour for this block of ten is going to be green, as you can see here. I wasn't pleased with the way the shield came out, so I went back and redid it. It's now OK. Still not great, but definitely better.

This is the champion of the Marauder regiment. I didn't want to paint acres of bronzed musculature, so I gave him a cold blue colour. To fit in with the theme, I gave him some bright green warpaint. This model is a pretty goofy sculpt with a pretty rough casting, and I'm not 100% happy with how it came out, but I think it will work in the regiment.

And this is the sorcerer, based on the Morcar giveaway figure from BOYL. I painted him as an homage to Skeletor, more or less, and in the photo I can see some places where it needs touching up -- the belt, the rings on the left hand and the base generally --  so I'll do that before calling it done. Still, so far so good.

Here he is with both familiars. Like the first, the second is a Reaper Bones model.

And lastly, here's the model I'm happiest about so far, the musician for the Marauder regiment. The entry in the army list specifies that the musician is a skull drummer, so I dug out some spare skulls. The head and arms are from GW Flagellants, with weapons carved down into drumsticks, and the body is a Frostgrave cultist.

Friday 12 August 2016

The Magonium Mine Murders: Location descriptions

So in a previous post about the development of The Magonium Mine Murders, I said that I would add some location descriptions in my next post. Here are a couple of samples.

Although it's meant to be a loosey-goosey adventure sandbox, a big part of The Magonium Mine Murders, as the name implies, is a whodunit, so most of the location descriptions are about clues. Here are a few sample locations. They're still in progress, but I don't think it'll be hard to tell which bits are incomplete.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Age of Sigmar project: work in progress

As you may recall, Tim of The Responsible One's Wargaming Blog and I are doing one of those Tale of Gamers things, where we paint up units over a schedule, perhaps resulting in some games at the end. We've pledged to do 1,000 points by January, which means about 200 points a month. My 200 are going to be:

A sorcerer and his familiars: 140 points

The sorcerer is the Morcar giveaway figure from this year's Bring Out Your Lead event, sculpted by Geoff from Oakbound Games and supported by generous anonymous members of the community. He is going to get a Skeletor-esque paint job, but aligning with the army's overall themes of being mainly grey, black and white with bright green and purple accents. The familiars are various small critters from the Reaper Bones II Kickstarter.

10 Marauders: 60 points

Here are the first five:

As you can see, like Tim I'm keeping my models on square bases for maximum inter-system compatibility. These guys are a mix of parts from various different models, including Wargames Factory Vikings, Gripping Beast Dark Age warriors, GW Flagellants and Frostgrave cultists. The leader is a Reaper Bones barbarian. They will have shields when completed. My plan is to do a standard bearer and musician in the next batch.

So far, pretty much all these figures have either been free or surplus from other projects.

Monday 8 August 2016

Bring Out Your Lead 2016

Well, the fourth Oldhammer "Bring Out Your Lead" event has come and gone. I wrote about the previous year's event here, but to summarise, this is a weekend for enthusiasts of older games and miniatures to get together, hear tales from industry veterans, admire lovely miniatures, and play games in a spirit of relaxed amity. Where there is competitiveness, it is sporting.

Aaanyway, this year I was mainly interested in two events: a Rogue Trader (that is, first edition Warhammer 40,000) campaign organised by the talented and generous Curtis Fell of Ramshackle Games and a massive Rogue Trader scenario organised by Aidan of Warfactory. Both of those were on Saturday, so on Friday I mostly stooged around saying hi to people, buying a figure or two and taking pictures.

Many of the photos here are from games that spanned both Friday (setup) and Saturday (play), mainly a "Coldhammer" game that pitted an attacking goblin horde against the defenders of a Dwarf hold in a game of, I believe, Warhammer 1st edition and an almighty 3rd edition battle that must have included literally thousands of beautiful models.

I don't think I got too many Coldhammer snaps, but I did get some pictures of the lovely colourful dungeon that was the interior of the Dwarf hold and a few of the battlefield:

The front of the hold. 

Siege giants lead the attack. 

Goblin warbeasts protect the scaling ladders. 

The first orcs through the breach are met with a storm of shot. 

Miners stage a desperate defense of a narrow tunnel. 
Some of the dungeon tunnels. 
 Here are some pics of the big game. This doesn't even begin to capture the number and variety of miniatures on display.

Giants, dragons and elementals hit the board during setup. 

Creatures of chaos. Inspirational. 

Minotaurs, including the Huntik megataur I have used myself. 

A scorpion with dinosaur legs, because why not. 

I think this dragon is one of those collectible dust magnet things. 

I think this may still not be complete. 

The war mammoth of chaos is on the march!

The sheep of chaos are on the march!

The poultry of chaos are on the march!

The evil artillery battery is ... well, staying right where it is, actually.  
It's beginning to look a lot like fishmen ... 

Undead swarm around the stone circle. 

A view from the evil starting line. 
That bridge is about to get reeeeeal ugly. 

The dinosaurs of Chaos ... well, you get the idea. 

Two can play at that mammoth game!

I just can't take enough pictures of that magnificent bastard. 

Things get started. 

Behold their mighty steeds!

I'm starting to run out of cool captions. 
Who wouldn't attack hanging off the side of a charging woolly rhinoceros if they could? 

Dah dah, dan dah da DAH dah, dan dah da DAH da, dan dah da DAH da, dan da da DAAAAAAA 
So, yeah, pretty spectacular, as you can see.

But these are games I saw -- what about the ones I played?

Well, my first RT game was against Alex of Lead Balloony, whose 215th Pretorians were racing the Orks of Waaaa-Badlug to retrieve samples of a, well, a waste deposit. Of possibly paranormal origins. It went right down to the wire, but in the end he gunned down my fleeing sample holders and escaped with his own.

Led by shallow tech junkie Badlug, the Evil Sunz go looking for loot.

The stout lads of the 125th pile into their Chimeras and roll toward the sound of the guns.

Praetorian heavy weapon teams deploy in whatever cover they can find. 

A mysterious Ork projectile stops the advance on the Imperial right in its tracks. 

Gunnut the Mekboy fires up his new invention with a resounding VWORP VWORP. 

A direct hit on the enemy Chimera fills the hull with noxious Snotling farts. 

The disgusted crew bail out. 
A few turns later, the accumulated combustible flatus blew the vehicle to pieces in an expanding cloud of brimstone and razor-edged metal fragments that, frankly, killed as many Orks as humans. But farts or no farts, it was not to be, and the puny humies got away with all that luvverly poo. After the smoke cleared, disloyal voices were heard to wonder whether it couldn't be to do with the fact that the humies were actually, well, redder than we were, and therefore faster. These reasoned objections were addressed in the traditional fashion, in a free and frank exchange of views (an ancient Orkish euphemism for a shoein').

Later that day, I was playing, together with Alex and many others, in Aidan's Inquisitor Cynole and the Temple of Gloom game. This was a big multiplayer Rogue Trader scenario, with different factions competing for a mysterious artefact on a primitive world. I played the natives, and started off in a bit of a sticky situation, which made me grumble more than perhaps I should have. The whole thing got resolved by the GMs (Aidan and his young helper) nudging things a bit, which I felt a bit embarrassed about, but that's what GMs do in scenarios like this one. There are so many unpredictable variables that sometimes you have to put your thumb on the scales a little.

In the end, the whole thing was tremendous fun. Here are some photos from the game:

Ornithopter and shuttle on the landing pad. 
Some of the rest of the board. 
Mercenaries guard the power generator. 

Native scouts infiltrate the compound. 

Nobles and guild members break into a fight near the entrance to the ruined temple. 

Natives approach the temple past the wreckage of the generator. 

Ogryn bodyguard Bigger Bob fights off native wildlife. 

The professor examines the temple inscription. 

Local fauna causes trouble for the mercenaries. 

Mercs pour into the temple to help out the Inquisitor.

Strange things are afoot in the artefact room. 

A Guild merchant finds himself in a sticky situation. 

Mechanist acolytes guide their hover-sled into the temple. 

All the bloodshed in the artefact chamber release the evil spirit within ... 
After that it was time to head back to the hotel for a pint and bed.

My last game was on Sunday, another entry in Curtis' campaign. This was against a small but potent Marine army played by Oldhammer forum member Niibl. The whole army had only 10 models in it -- but three of them were Dreadnoughts and two were Terminators. Most of my boyz lacked weapons that could even scratch these brutes, but the Shokk Attak Gun and Pulsa Rokkit might do some work. Nonetheless, I resolved to focus on the mission objective -- retrieving a VIP and escorting him off the table.

The ten-man wonder team. 
I am not one of the great generals, but my Pulsa Rokkit range-estimating game is on point

The Orks develop an attack on the left flank, despite a pulse from the Pulsa Rokkit smushing their own Dreadnought between the parked Squat Land Train and a rock.  
Badlug and Snacky the Snack Gretchin round up the weirdo. 

By this point this was more or less what was left of the Marines. 

The attack squad takes cover in the rubble and prepares to blast the Apothecary with massed pistol fire.

Gunnut launches base after base of Snotlings from Artillery Point.  
Rabid snotlings bite a Dreadnought's legs off. 

The Orks and Gretchin open up on the Captain ... to pretty much no effect. 
But although the captain was smashing his way through the boyz, Badlug and Snacky had made it off the table with their "package" and victory was secure.

The only other game I played this weekend was a quick game of Advanced Space Crusade, which is a really interesting design I'd never played before.

Other games I saw being played included:

Other games of the Rogue Trader campaign. Here Curtis' Plague Marines clash with another Ork warband. 

A recreation of the Battle of Maughtrond Pass from the Warhammer 4th ed. boxed set. 

Space Fleet!

Adeptus Titanicus!

I don't know the game but apparently this castle is a toy that cost only £15. Not bad!

A Judge Dredd game set in ... is East Meg the name I'm looking for? 
... and many more. Plus a painting contest, many other models on display, and the acquisition of some miniatures, including a custom Kev Adams conversion that's going to play a role in my painting challenge with The Responsible One. But those will be for another time.

I had an absolute blast at BOYL, just like last year, and I'm looking forward to next year already. I have some big plans in mind.