Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Solo Skirmish RPG Rules notes

So Ive been working on rules again... Who doesn't? ;)

I have boiled down for the millionth time what I like in a solo skirmish and why. This is the reasoning behind my latest effort.

Simple is better than complex. Its hard to keep too much in my head when playing solo, and checking a QRS should be infrequent as possible. A system you can easily remember is key.
Suspense is important. As there is no opponent, suspense and surprises are the fun part of the game.
I would like integration with my solo roleplay efforts. This is out of left field, but solo rpg is something Ive found fascinating since I discovered it via blogs.
Keep the scope narrow. Don't try to make a game that does everything.
Narrative! I like games that are aimed at creating cool narrative over crunchy simulation.

So here's the start of what I came up with.

I was obsessed for a long time with the card draw mechanic from TRWNN, as its excellent. The problem is you need to make custom decks or translate numbers.. Too much effort.
Instead I adapted the activation system I have read is used in Victory Decision.

The player (this is solo remember) chooses one of his minis, and selects the closest unactivated enemy model. Both dice for activation, the winner activates (each mini can only activate once a turn) when all minis have acted, turn over.

On activation, a model may Perform 3 actions one at a time, from the following choices:

Get up
RPG inquiry
RPG action

This is the cool part. Rather than making a solo rpg session before and after the battle, the solo rpg mechanics can be used DURING the battle.

In one of my tests of the theory:
My squad scouted an encounter token and discovered (via Yes/no/and/but dice questions) an abandoned transport truck... Inside was a bunch of unmarked gold, which the enemy were obviously there to steal! The gold was not easily transportable and the vehicle was inoperable despite frenzied attempts to get it running, so the squad demo expert tried to booby trap the vehicle.. Which went wrong and exploded prematurely. The squad pulled out as the enemy secured the area. They would need to either come back with heavy equipment to liberate the gold (Kelly's heroes scenario maybe) or leave it to the enemy.

This was all generated on the fly with no charts or prewritten scenario, just logic and interpretation of dice.

In another game, where two agents tried to sneak up on some cultists, the rpg mechanics handled all the non combat actions perfectly, just like having a GM as suggested in old school Warhammer, amongst other vintage rule sets. The combat was exciting and narrative as well. (things didn't go well for the agents, they took out the lookout, but the cultists swarmed one of the Agents and stabbed him to death before the other could reach them and shoot them up. It was a real nail-biter.)

Each action spent on moving gives you one roll of your move die. I find random move distances really add suspense to a shootout, especially when running for cover. It works beautifully in TRWNN and also in CROM. I'm sold on it for solo games, especially using the poly dice where a slow character moves d6 and q fast one moves d10.

Opposed roll, difference in hits. Roll to save hits, remaining hits have a cumulative damage effect.

A low hits total will give you a knocked down or a few more will yield a flesh wound, hampering your rolls by -1 depending on what body area was hit.

A high unsaved hits total can take you out on the spot, or cripple you so you cant move for example.

Flesh wounds are tracked by placing red markers/counters on your character card in the relevant body zone. A wound to the arm inflicts a -1 to shoot, to the body -1 to guts rolls, etc.
At the start of your activation you must roll higher than your total number of flesh wounds to stay conscious.
This keeps record keeping relatively easy. Sure its a little bit fancy, but this game is for 5 or so models per side so detailed damage is more interesting and narrative than not having it.

Thats all for now, but I'm pretty excited about this little system.

(I should have brought some Lego micro-figs along for test games in the hotel.
1 lug= 1", and a terrain board is very easy to build in micro-scale... Hmm, wish I'd thought of this sooner.)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

I'm going to PAX Prime 2012

I'm off in the morning, back on a jet, back to the USA, for my first PAX Prime gaming convention. I'll hopefully be taking some photos, but if you don't hear from me in the next week, it's cause I'm on the road.

When I get back, I have a week off that I plan to spend at home working on some music.. And of course painting a few minis!

Goodnight readers, I have to be up at 5:30 tomorrow...

The Department

Mail call!

As I was leaving the house today, I found a little brown paper packet in my mailbox. As you can see, it was my 15mm figures for "The Department" hand packed by the splendid Joe Dragovitch himself!

I bought the PDF for this game a few months ago when I moved back to Australia and it was a fascinating read.
I'm not a background story kind of guy, as I prefer to make up my own. The Department however has a genuinely interesting premise and is tightly focused around the idea of "Fabricants" and their role in society. The book is not choked with fiction, but what is there is thoughtfully placed and well written... I really enjoyed it.

The system is basically Goalsystem, which I think reads very well but have not played. Additionally, the game is designed to be co-op or solo without a GM. This is very rare and exactly what I look for in a rulebook! The solo element is handled by a set of AI charts that govern the actions of the non player forces. It's quite simple at first glance, but pretty ingenious.

The short version is you create some characters and then run your police unit (complete with Internal Affairs interference and evidence points) as you track down a master criminal. It is a unique and very well conceived game. The important word here is "focus". This is a game that does a great job of making you feel like you are conducting an investigation (I was reminded more of "The Wire" than Blade Runner) and dealing with encounters than full-on battles. This is not a game of pitched battles.

In theory you only require a handful of figures to play, so the accompanying minis line is a good start. I would imagine a variety of civilians in suits etc. would be useful as well. I think a pack or two from The Scene and Rebel would sort you out for most games.

Why haven't I played it? Two reasons. The first is time.. I just don't have enough to myself lately, and when I do it's been spent desperately painting. The second is fuss. Huh?

Central to the game is the character sheet, and the one in the book makes me want to design my own. Which of course I don't have time for. Also, I don't have any city terrain, which I feel is important to use.
I know they aren't especially good reasons, but at this stage in my life it doesn't take much to derail my hobby time :(

To close, the minis are fantastic! great sculpting, clean casting, oozing with character. And at three pound fifty SHIPPED TO MY DOOR, represent incredible value.
Thank you Joe!

Saturday, 25 August 2012


Sculpted by Eli and sold by, this is another alien denizen figure that I did while painting the shacks in the last post.

I like to have a single figure to pick at while I'm working on a larger group of things to make best use of my painting time. To be honest I dislike painting 'units' in the traditional way, but sometimes it needs to be done.

This fellow/lady was painted with Vallejo Gunship green and English Uniform.The eyes are lime green and his breather is some kind of buff color with earthshade wash applied.

This figure has all kinds of uses in sci fi or even Mythos gaming. He was quite fast to paint and took to the brush very well.

As you might have seen in the workbench feed, I'm dusting off my old 3d spaceship terrain modules and have them all ready to play with! The main thing I did was standardize "connection points" by placing a grating square where each module is supposed to join to the others. This means I can use them for a quick layout generation system I've whipped up. I will do a full post about them soon.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Scratch built shanty buildings

I've been terribly busy with real life, especially work etc. etc. However I have managed to put these buildings together while watching a crummy movie with my girlfriend on the weekend. I find terrain building is relaxing and pleasant when one is too tired to paint a "proper" mini.

This first building is made mostly out of some rescued blocks of blue foam (ripped off my old vault terrain tiles). The corrugated metal is paper from an art supply shop, the front door is a GZG metal one, and the back wall is an IMEX panel. Finally, there is an air conditioning unit by The Scene on the side. The whole deal is mounted on a plastic base textured with pumice gel.
I finished it off with a little bit of foam shrubbery.

This hexagonal building was made of foamcore, with an IMEX roof and plenty more corrugated paper. Another GZG door and large aircon unit complete the picture.

These walls were recycled vault terrain, with some more corrugated paper and chopped bits of junk glued on.

This tower is made mainly out of IMEX parts, with some ripped up plastic sheet and corrugated paper to fortify the top. Most of my terrain is one-story, so it was about time I made some high ground.

This last piece is another IMEX part, mounted on a block of blue foam with a GZG hatch glued on. As you can see, it makes a great bridge between two other terrain pieces.

These pieces were all easy to make and cost me nothing as I recycled them out of old junk and unpainted lead. Combined with my existing GZG shanty shacks they round out a pretty respectable sci-fi or post-apoc settlement to game in.

I painted these up tonight in about an hour while listening to my favorite Podcast, Minions of the Monster Master. It took me about two hours and I feel like a great weight has been lifted from me as I finally got some hobby time in!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tauran Terror

Jon from Khurasan broke the news on TMP today, so I can talk about the Taurans I painted over the weekend!
As you can see, these are some beefy fellows, standing a good bit taller than a 15mm human. The back story is that they are a subject race to the mighty Garn hegemony, equipped with huge lead-weighted guns used as much as clubs as firearms. they are supposedly berzerk flesheaters, even more savage than the Garn themselves.
The figures are very nicely sculpted and come with the horns as a separate piece. I'm thinking of ordering a second pack, leaving off the horns, cutting short the stogg guns and using them as some kind of steroided-up Lhurgg.

The bulging muscles make painting very straightforward and I did the flesh parts very simply: Skrag brown base, devlan mud wash, skrag brown highlight, skrag brown+vallejo medium flesh highlight. I kept the paint pretty thin and got a really pleasing result with what felt like little effort.

The armor was painted with mecharite red, washed with Reikland flesh shade and highlighted with Vallejo orange-red.

The guns were basecoated black, then painted the same as the armor on the big plates, and then with leadbelcher on the metal bits, with a sloppy Agrax earthshade wash over the metallic parts. I find this really helps make the metal look real and less like a bright painted surface.

The leader was done in Space wolf grey, washed with Nuln oil and highlighted back up. I want to do some face paint (like Kratos from the God of War video games,) but I thought of it too late.

I'm having a lot of trouble getting a good photo taken at the moment. I think the camera needs a reset (after GF has been using it) and I need a new lighting solution.. My old sunny front room in Brighton did a lot for my camera work.

Khurasan just keeps releasing tons of stuff I must have... It's almost scary.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, 6 August 2012


That's a big platter of Alien
Not much of a post, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging NOW THAT MY STUFF HAS ARRIVED! I have my paint station set up opposite my computer desk and music gear in my very own hobby room. I'm very lucky and also looking forward to getting all the boxes cleared away. My balcony looks like the spaceport from the 5th Element.

Contrary to any blog evidence, I've been quite busy in the last few days.. But drat it, the work is secret until Jon at Khurasan gives me the go-ahead to post about it. Needless to say it is another batch of sci-fi excellence from one of the best manufacturers in our hobby. Also one of the most patient.. I've had some of his figures in transit around the world for a few months.

As I may have mentioned, I usually have a secondary set of figures on the go to work on while the first lot is drying etc. Unfortunately, these were ALSO secret Khurasan miniatures. Dang it!

Luckily, I also have a third mini or so around while the OTHER set of figures is drying... And today I present to you the Burgansian!
This guy is from the SHM range by, sculpted by the very talented Eli of I see Lead People. These are a very characterful range of aliens and I have several more waiting in the wings. These guys make the perfect "palate cleanser" for me in a creative sense when working on unit-style miniatures. Each one adds to my nonmilitary collection, which are rapidly becoming my favorite subject.
I wanted to show off the contrast between the living creature and his mechanical chair, so I did it in a metallic style. I picked bright yellow as a skin tone for the same reason. To try to add some interest to the back of the chair and the base, I did some minor lighting effects.

Plenty going on in my head, some of it is even something I planned earlier in the year. here's a quick rundown:

-3rd go at a fast play solo shootout rule set (Lets not talk about how Throwdown panned out)
-Building more shanty shacks out of corrugated paper and bitz (I can't help it)
-Painting my Kallistra Hexxon II terrain set, dragged all the way back from the UK still boxed
-Painting my Kaiju models and the resin city I also dragged back from the UK
-Painting the awesome Khurasan post-apoc figures I have
-Painting the rest of my Khurasan Exterminators and vacc suit guys
-Painting my Alien legion JTFB figures

I have all kinds of other things planned gaming wise too, plus I want to buy the whole range of Khurasan's not-walking-dead range and even some (shh!) 28mm supers from crossover miniatures. Crikey.