Saturday, April 01, 2017

Savage Worlds Space Opera Campaign

Picture largely unrelated, but it's the least sexist picture of a spaceship crew I can find...

Welcome to this page. If you have arrived here via the D&D Meetup page, read on. If you have not... well, make yourself feel at home anyway.


One of the biggest difficulties with running an RPG campaign is getting everyone together - scheduling conflicts prevent me from GMing as often as I would like to. As a result, I have decided to try a different way of running a campaign: the players for each session will be gathered from a pool, with the party for the session being the players who can make that particular session. The adventures will take place in the same continuity, and PCs will gain experience and level up, but the players for each session (and therefore the composition of the crew for the session) will likely be different. This is still a campaign and not a series of one-shots.

System and Setting

The rules used will be Savage Worlds core rules plus the Science Fiction Companion, and the setting will be an as-yet-undecided space opera world. The PCs are all registered members of the Galactic Teamsters Guild. Each session represents a mission subcontracted out by the Guild to its members: the players who sign up for the session.

The fundamentals of the Savage Worlds rules can be found here.

Character Creation

In the interest of time we will create the characters via email or messaging on Meetup (hopefully) way in advance.

The characters will be semi-pregenerated: you let me know what type of character you would like to play, and I will stat up the character for you within the parameters of the rules. The information required are:

  • Name

  • Species - You can invent your own or stick to the stock humans, aquarian, feline/leonid, canine/lupine, robot/android, plant-based, space-elf, reptilian/saurian, hairy brute/space gorilla, or rubber forehead alien. Let's try to avoid avian/ornith and insectoid/bug aliens - they creep me out.

  • Species characteristics - If you want your character's species to have certain special strengths or weaknesses, you can propose them, or I can apply the stock characteristic. I prefer no psionics, but if you want to make a case for it, go ahead.

  • Gender - Binary, or as appropriate to your species. No space bimbo please.

  • Profession/Archetype - Your character's job on the crew and which sci-fi trope he or she belongs to. Professions will include navigation, engineer, security, medical, etc. Archetypes would be things like: ace pilot, gunslinger, brawler, rogue/grifter. It is preferable for your character to have a primary expertise and secondary one. Again, no space bimbo please.

  • Gear - Your character will have all the gear that he or she is expected to have to do the job - I am not too fussy about inventory as a GM, but if you want to have anything specific, let me know too.

  • Weapons - Each character will have a standard-issue blaster and a "utility" knife. You can have an additional signature weapon that is appropriate for your profession/species/archetype.

  • Backstory - A brief backstory of how your character gained his or her skills and how he or she came to join the Teamsters Guild. Please also list an enemy and an ally from the character's past, and the character's short-term and long-term goals.

Sessions, Signing-up, and AAR

Sessions are on a Monday evening, from 7pm to 10pm or so. There will be 3 to 5 places per session.

I will post the session date and synopsis on Meetup, and players who can make that session can respond on the page with their character's name and profession/archetype (so other players know which roles are needed and which are already filled). I will try to post as early as I can so you can plan your schedules.

Generally, places will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, but if a player has played in the last two consecutive sessions, I may give the spot to another player who has not.

I want to respect everybody's time and confirm the player list for each session as early as I can, so please only sign up for a session if you can make it.

Players can earn extra XPs by writing up an after-action report on the Meetup page; I hope to create a community feel in our pool of players.


The games will be played on Mondays, from 7pm to 10pm or so, at my place in Bukit Batok. We typically meet at West Mall for dinner at 6pm, and then make our way to my place afterwards. You can meet the group at my place if you do not join us for dinner.

Dice and stationery are provided. You may bring your own dice but if I think they are not balanced I will ask that you use mine instead.

Bottled water and snacks are provided - we only allow plain water at the table for... historical reasons (don't ask).

My GMing style and Important Caveat

I tend to play fast and loose with the rules, preferring to focus on the narrative rather than the rules. As I mentioned earlier, inventory is not tracked closely, nor ammunition (you run short when the plot demands it) and money (you are assumed to be able to afford things that a space trucker can reasonably afford, and you are up to your neck in debt when the plot calls for it). The word encumbrance is never used at my table.

The tone of this campaign is space opera. More Guardians of the Galaxy than Star Wars or Star Trek. There will be violence, and you will encounter societies which hold views on politics, religion, and human/alien rights which are different from your own.

As befitting a space opera, PCs will generally not die; but if your character is incapacitated in a fight, he or she may not get XPs for the encounter. I will track XPs for this campaign (I don't for my other campaigns) as I want a bit of competitiveness between players.

As each adventure has to be completed in a single session of three hours or so, the plot will inevitably be a bit rail-roady. This means that an adventure can sometimes consist of a series of problems presented to the party, but I will not make it such that there is only one way to solve the problems (sometimes I don't even have a solution myself...), or that they have to be tackled in a particular order.

Combat will be played on battle-maps with figurines. You may bring your own figurine if you wish to.

Finally, I would like to state upfront that players who feels that they don't enjoy my games (either because of the way I run games or who I am as a person) should feel free to leave - just let me know so I can offer a spot to other members on Meetup. Likewise, if I feel that a player is not a match for me or the group, I will ask him or her to leave the group.

Thanks for taking the time to read through all this. If you still want to sign up, please do so on the Meetup page, and I will get in touch with you soon.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Horizon Wars Game 2

Martin and I played our second game of Horizon Wars this afternoon.

I fielded my Heavy Gear Caprice mechs. As Martin had more points in models, I picked the Failed Ambush scenario, where my force, harbouring in a village in the centre of the table, is surprised by a superior enemy force coming at it from (potentially) all sides.

While Martin had the advantage in points, I had the advantage in numbers and of starting in cover.

Most of my mechs stayed in cover while a couple tried to make a break for it to the foreground in this photo. Martin committed his mechs to this corner of the table and managed to destroy one of my mechs and cripple a couple others. My mechs then conducted a fighting retreat to the opposite side of the table. Martin then threw in his off-table mobile artillery to try to stem this retreat, and managed to destroy another mech before it was destroyed by my artillery.

With one table edge open and most of my mechs still mobile, we decided to call the game.

We certainly had a better grip of the rules in this game, and I even performed the Recover action a couple of times. As with the previous game, I find that having more elements of the table confers a significant advantage.

We have yet to try out the aircraft rules, so perhaps in our next game we will do so.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Warzone 2nd Edition Imperial Regulars

A quick shot of the 40 Warzone Imperial Regulars that came in the 2nd Edition box set I got, plus a Trencher Hero. It took me a while to get everything assembled and primed, but I managed to power through 30 of the figures in the past 3 days once I developed a system of painting them quickly.

They are painted in a WW1 British colour scheme, which I think turned out OK. There are just enough colours to give the impression of an infantryman at tabletop distance.

The figures took the block-and-wash method well. I am particularly impressed by the detail on the bayonet, which looks more WW1 than sci-fi.

I am planning to add a heraldry decal on the left shoulder pads of these fellows, but apart from that they are done. I am tempted to add a mortar with 3 crew to the force though, if I can find the appropriate figures.

I still have the 40 Bauhaus Hussars that came in the box which I don't think I will use - let me know if you are interested, and perhaps we can arrange a trade.


Monday, March 06, 2017

Kings of War Hits Tracker

One of the nice things about Kings of War is that you do not remove figures from a unit to represent casualty, but at the same time this obliges you to track hits on a unit somehow. I looked at the many ways other gamers have used, and decided I wanted a system that kept the markers within the footprint of the unit. As my figures are all currently mostly singly-based and used with movement trays, I figured it was simply a matter of replacing one or two figures with Hits Tracker base occupying the same area.

As I had several dice holders left over from a purchase from Warbases, I decided to make use of them for this little project. It was simply a matter of gluing one of these dice cells onto a cavalry base and adding some battlefield litter and scenic tufts to blend the base to the unit.

The 3-cell frame is a little too large for one or even two infantry bases though, so I had to remove the the divisions between the outline and also one end of the frame.

The result is a precise fit for three dice, although in retrospect having two cells would actually be sufficient for most infantry units, and would have allowed me to add stuff on the base for decoration.

I made enough bases for my WOTR army, so the next question is whether I should do the same for my Night Goblin army, which I am planning to expand (just by 90 or so figures, nothing much...) to make up a 2000 points KOW army. And whether I should get fancy coloured dice for each of my two armies...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Battle Systems Shanty Town and Zen Terrain Bridge and Conversion Kit

Here is the set-up using three of Battle Systems' Shanty Pack #2, a Zen Terrain Bridge, and two of  their Conversion Kits. The utility poles and cables are my scratch-builds. Not every bit from the sets are used (I probably could have gotten away with just one Conversion Kits pack), but it's a pretty good representation of what can be built using the above.

Here's a closer view of the buildings, showing the bridge and a ladder and rooftop turbine from Zen Terrain.With a coat of suitably drab spray paint and some weathering, they blend into the grungy Battle Systems buildings.

My favourite bits from the Conversion Kits are probably these console screens, which I attached to the walls of the buildings using Bostik sticki dots. They don't really pop out, but will be useful for scenario games.

Over all I am very satisfied with my purchases. The set-up can be more cramped and littered, and when fg brings his stuff over we can probably make a better-looking table to play over.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Perry WOTR Light Cavalry and my entire WOTR/(The) Empire Army

The Perry WOTR Light Cavalry have been sitting in a tub for almost two years, but I finally started and finished painting them in the past three days.

I assembled them in two fashion, half of them as mounted crossbows.

And three with lances, and three as command figures.

The leader rides a horse from Claymore Castings. The glue is still drying on the base of the last figure.

With these figures done, I can say that I have completed my WOTR/Warhammer (The) Empire army.

The problem, of course, is that the Warhammer (The) Empire no longer exists. Nor does the whole Warhammer world. Not that that will prevent us from playing Warhammer 8th Edition, seeing how we already have figures for at least four armies. I do like the Warhammer rules, especially the fancy army lists, but on the whole I find them hard to remember, given how rarely we play them.

I have been looking at alternative sets of fantasy mass combat rules for a while, and last week I decided to order a copy of Mantic's Kings of War 2nd Edition rules. The reviews I have seen praise the rules for their simplicity, which is a plus for me, but I do worry if the army lists are different enough to distinguish each army. I guess we'll find out when the rules arrive in a week or two.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black Hat Dwarf Town Guard Crossbow

Here are the Black Hat Miniatures dwarven crossbowmen I painted for Adrian. The bases are unflocked so he can do them in the same style as the rest of his army.

These are some of the easiest figures to paint. The crossbow and the hands come in a separate piece from the torso, so I was able to prime them in two colours: black for the torso with all the metal, and brown for the hands and crossbow. The torso was then dry-brushed with silver, the face, hair and beard, sleeves, belt and scabbard, and feet hand-primed with red-brown or just painted over with the shade of brown I chose to represent leather, then the face and hair done. For the hands and crossbow part the hands are painted over the brown paint, and the bow itself left as is, with the metal parts picked out in black primer and then silver. Once the parts are glued together, I washed the non-silver parts with brown wash.

They are a little too large for a 20mm square base, so to make them rank up I set the rear rank closer to the rear of the base - this shouldn't be an issue as missile troops are unlikely to be deployed deeper than two ranks.

Again, these are a breeze to paint, and if you need a ton of dwarven crossbows for your army, they are the guys for you. It's a pity the range is so small, or I would be tempted to buy more.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mountain of lead, plastic, resin, and MDF

I haven't been posting to much this year, but I have been spending time prepping figures and models for painting.

These are what are on my painting desk right now: two packs of Zen Terrain Conversion Kit and a bridge pack. some sci-fi utility poles which I scratch-built using parts from suction wall hooks, inter-dental brush caps, plastic toy parts, and faux leather cords, a cheap plastic M1117 which I have converted with Tamiya and Kromlech bits, 20 Black Hat Miniatures dwarven crossbowmen, and a tub of (remianing) 37 Warzone Imperial Regulars.

Apart from the dwarves, these are all part of the sci-fi shanty town/Blast Pistol project which I plan to make the focus of the next few months. I have also ordered two more packs of Battle Systems' Shanty Town cardboard terrain.

I will post pictures of the stuff as they are completed, but here are some comments about them.

The Zen Terrain stuff are excellent, and come pre-cut and with clear instructions on assembly. They fit well and are easy to assemble with just some white glue, except for the turbines, which took a bit of fiddling. The bridge in particular is very well-designed, and fit perfectly with the Battle Systems buildings. I simply sprayed these with beige or grey paint, and will do some simple weathering and wash on them before spraying a matt varnish and calling it a day. I haven't got anything to put on the billboards though, so if you know of any appropriate posters and whatnot, do let me know.

The utility poles are the result of some scrounging around stores and drawers. There are commercially available sci-fi streetlights and such, but I wanted the messy, exposed cables - I believe the key to creating a cramped, shanty town feel to the tabletop is to introduce horizontal components to the terrain.

The M1117 came out of a bag of cheap toys. I drilled holes for the hook rings, added some grab bars using bent paperclips, and an antenna made of a length of thick wire and drilled-through plastic rods. The toy had the jerry cans on the sides sculpted on in low relief; I thought about filing them off or covering them up with stowage, but fortunately fg had some 1/35 Tamiya jerry cans which come in halves, and it was a simple job then of gluing half a jerry can to each and making a rack out of paperclip for them. The twin-mini-gun and the wheels come from Kromlech. The wheels come without a hub cap, so I used the landmines from my Tamiya M20 kit to cover up the holes in the centre. I have yet to decide which faction this vehicle will be assigned to, and what colour indeed to paint it. Suggestions are welcome.

The Black Hat dwarves are very nice, and come with separate hands-and-crossbow which will make the painting much easier. They do look like they will be hard to rank up in two rows on 20mm square bases though.

As you can see that's quite a lot of stuff and it will take me several weeks to complete. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

League of Legends: Mechs vs. Minions

Before yesterday's Shadowrun game, fg and I played League of Legends: Mechs vs. Minions, another one of the chibi boardgame kicksters that he backed.

The sheer size and engineering of the game is insane. For a start, Amazon lists the weight of the box at 12.8 pounds. Inside, the components all seem to be bigger than they need to be, with the individual trays for the components more luxurious than they need to be - I was reminded of sushi takeaway platters. There is a custom sand timer and metal ring markers, all of which functions could have been served by more generic, cheaper components. The scenarios, or missions, are presented in sealed envelops, each of which contain the set-up rules, the mission, as well as special upgrade and damage cards which are added to the game as you tackle each in turn.

The gameplay is, in essence, Robo Rally meets Zombiecide. Players play cartoon characters piloting primitive mechs (I am not familiar with the online game which this game is based on - sorry), whose actions are determined by cards the players assign to a dashboard. The cards represent movement, turning, or attack actions, and are divided into four suits of different colours; cards of the same suit can stack, making the action more potent.

Instead of just making a circuit around the race track, the mechs in this game have more varied missions, from collecting gems to killing minions to defeating the evil boss mech. The game is co-operative, which is something I don't usually enjoy, but in this instance the time pressure (that's what the timer is for, although we didn't use it) makes it hard for players to discuss their moves in detail.

Each turn, the minions will move either randomly or according to the scenario rules, and if a minion ends its turn adjacent to a mech, the mech takes a damage card, which can be once-off (resolve and discard), or it can be semi-permanent and placed over a command card, necessitating sacrificing an action card the next turn to remove, or moving over a healing square. Mechs can't actually die from damage, but presumably beyond a certain point the damage are too numerous to repair and it just moves randomly around the board.

We managed to play about 4 scenarios over the course of the afternoon. The missions are designed to slowly teach the players the rules, like the tutorials in a computer game, so the first one was a boring one about movement, the second one about killing minions, the third one being a more challenging one, and the fourth one a real struggle battling the boss mech (which has its own specially designed cardboard box within the main box!).

Not knowing anything about the computer game, I cannot say how closely the game replicates the original. As a boardgame, I get a sense that too much is going on and players do not have enough control over the action at times. In Robo Rally (which is my point of reference), the only randomness are the hand of action cards drawn, and the actions of the other players, which may sometimes be guessed at and overcome (that in itself being part of the fun); the board behaves in a predictable fashion, damage is applied in a fixed fashion, and there are no other unknowns. In Mechs vs. Minions, the random damage effects, the random movement and spawning of the minions and the random movement and attacks of the boss mech means there is a lot more unpredictability, which while fun from the fluff point of view, actually takes away from the depth of the game. It seems to me that the designers of the game has tried to bundle too many mechanics into a single game, and ended up with something that doesn't do anything too well.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Robogear T-Rex, Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse Terrain, and resin urban barricades

Marines prepare to take out an enemy walker.

Gaming activities have taken a back seat in the past few weeks, but today I managed to paint up the Robogear T-Rex models I bought years ago, and posed it with some of my recent purchases.

The three buildings in the picture above are from the Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse range. These are punch-out cardboard buildings assembled with plastic clips. The surfaces are printed on both sides, and the windows and doors can also be punched out. I am sufficiently pleased with what I got (the Shanty Pack 2) that I will probably buy more of it. I have ordered some HDF terrain bits from Zen Terrain, which I hope I can paint to match this stuff so the buildings will have a more 3D, realistic look.

The Robogear T-Rex is of course a classic and a favourite of Imperial Guard players who want a proxy for the Sentinel.I have painted this as a support walker for my Warzone Imperial Regulars, which will be painted in the same colour. I only mounted one of the weapons provided (the hard-points for the other weapons are poorly filled in with epoxy) and the exhausts come from another of the Tehnolog kits which I bought for bits - I used them as I wanted a vaguely WW1 look to go with the Warzone figures.

The kit came with two versions of the canopy: a 'solid' version where the 'glass' is moulded, and an 'open' version where only the frame is represented. I didn't want to procure and paint a pilot/driver for the kit, so I decided to use a wire mesh to represent some sort of anti-grenade barrier so I coud hide the interior. It still needs some decals for tactical insignia and numbers and a base, but the basic paintwork and weathering are done.

Finally, we have the resin barricades I bought off ebay. I had expected them to come unpainted, so it was a bit of a surprise when I opened the package and saw what was a reasonable paint-job on these guys - the oil barrels are rusted and even showed oil slicks. I may spray some beige paint at the bottom parts of these sections to help them blend to the tabletop. Or I may not.

What I have also done in the past few weeks was to slowly assemble the forty Warzone Imperial Regulars I bought. This was not an easy task as the figures are made of hard plastic, have some significant mould lines, and have arms (to be more precise: forearms) that need to be glued onto the main torso in a three-point contact. But done they are, and now sitting in a box of sand waiting for the glue on their bases to dry. Hopefully in the next week or two I can get them sprayed in their base colours, and then over the next month finish painting them.

Still on the sci-fi/Blast Pistol front, yesterday I finally bit the bullet and took advantage of Kromlech's 17% sale and bought some resin bits to convert the plastic M1117 toy I bought to a sci-fi APC/IFV. That's spending US$20 on parts to convert a toy that came in a US$9 bag-of-toys. With that kind of money I could have bought a second-hand GW 40K Chimera... but then where's the fun in that?

Monday, January 02, 2017

Frostgrave Barbarians and Shaman

Here are the Frostgrave barbarians from the box set plus the shaman from the Nickstarter. I started painting them in November or December, but only completed them when I powered through 9 figures in a single sitting yesterday, so I guess they count as the first completed project for the year.

I painted them with white-and-black body paint to represent Avvar barbarians in the Dragon Age world - the next arc of my RPG campaign will be set in The Frostback Mountains and feature the Avvars.

I am not quite sure the decision to paint them with the body paint was a correct one - the computer game version looked more striking because they had white-and-black clothing too; these just look like KISS fans or cast of a Chinese opera. Still, what's done is done, and at least they will be used in my Dragon Age RPG game, and can be used as a generic fantasy barbarian warband whenever I need one. Or Dunlending in fg's Middle Earth RPG.

With these done I can move on to the next project, which will be either the Warzone Imperial Regulars (40 plastic figures, one metal hero figure, a Robogear T-Rex walker, plus maybe a conversion project using the plastic M1117?) or the 20 Black Hat crossbow-armed dwarves which I ordered 5 weeks ago if they arrive in the next two weeks.

The Warzone project is set to become a major project for me this year as, despite the figure-count being only 41 plus one or two vehicles, the ancillary requirements in terms of terrain will be significant; already I have placed orders for card buildings, MDF building and building dressings, resin urban barricade sections, and bought other cheap toys and hardware bits to use for scratch-building purposes. Stay tuned.