Thursday, July 29, 2021

Uthuk Viper Legion

A while back my brother managed to get me a box of these Uthuk Viper Legion figures at a discount of Amazon. I got the starter set for the Utuk Y'llan faction and painted them a long time ago as I had planned on making them the antagonist for our RPG campaign, but that seems unlikely now.

Still, there is a chance that they can be used for a Warcry campaign in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2021

StudioLevel Resin Barricades Terrain

The resin barricades terrain pieces I backed on StudioLevel's kickstarter arrived last week, and being in another lockdown now gave me the time to paint them up.

The picture above shows the 4 trench barricades and the 4 scatter barricades I ordered, as well as the two small "crates" scatter terrain pieces I got from the Imperium Immortalis kickstarter.

The resin was easy to work with - no smell, and no stickiness either before or after being spray-primed. I painted them with a coat of black primer, followed by a zenital spray of grey primer. I then painted the metal surfaces with silver, and then dabbed red-brown primer and then orange paint over them, before doing some stippling with black paint. Jerry cans were painted a grey-green before being given a brown wash. Gas cans were painted blue and then given a brown wash. Wooden structures were painted with a brown contract paint before being dry-brushed with a sand colour. Finally, I sprayed the bottom of each piece with Tamiya Sand, and then sealed them with a clear coat.

This is a view of the rear of the barricade pieces.

Placed end-to-end, they cover quite a bit of frontage.

I got these terrain pieces because they are a good match for the pre-painted resin barricade terrain pieces I got a long time ago off eBay. Again, since it was lockdown and I had time, I laid the new and old pieces out on my mat and placed the Warzone miniatures down to give you guys a sense of the scale.

These terrain pieces were quite quick to paint - I did them all in one day - and look quite effective, although they are a little tall for my figures. Getting them painted has given me the push I needed to start working on the Imperium Immortalis figures I received months ago, so hopefully there will be more pictures soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #4

An Alikaia "mother"
Art from artist's website

Captain's Log - T036

Upon exiting hyperspace at DNS-AQ-406 Beta we immediately received what we soon determined to be a distress call from an Alikaia colony ship; as the Alikaia were until then unaware of the existence of any alien species, I can only imagine that they had sent out the call out of desperation, or in the hope that there was an Alikaia exploration vessel within range.

With Akranika's help, we were able to learn that the colony ship, carrying some 600 colonists from three different communities, were performing a refueling operation at the gas giant, while heading for the terrestrial planet which they had planned to colonise. Their drive had suffered a failure, and the ship was in a decaying orbit which would plunge it into the gas giant's atmosphere in fewer than 90 minutes.

I ordered the ship to proceed at full speed to the colony ship and put the entire flight wing on standby to perform rescue operation, and called the command team to devise a plan - we were at that point still an hour away.

As our docking ports were not compatible with those of the Alikaia, it was not possible to perform a direct transfer of the colonists. Transfer of the colonists via small craft was possible, but would not have been sufficient to evacuate all colonists as they only possessed some 40 vac-suits among them. The Alikaia were adamant that we evacuated their "mothers", not caring for their own lives, but my crew and I wanted to save every one of them if there was reasonable chance we could do so.

Performing a tether was not an option, as the combined effect of the ship's mass and the gravity at that distance to the gas giant would have risked Deepnight Revelation being unable to extricate itself. Then, seeing the trimaran configuration of the colony ship, Engineering proposed that we made all the colonists move into one of the lateral hulls, and then detach it from the rest of the ship with explosive charges.

We proposed the plan to the Alikaia, who were agreeable on the condition that we first removed their mothers via small craft, which we did, even though one of the distraught mothers had to be first sedated by a drug developed by Dr Balilaika, delivered via a dart gun.

Under the advice of Mr Stamper the Engineering Division was able to place the charges and attach the tethers, and we were able to pull the lateral hull a distance from the gas giant, where we were able to perform the transfer of the colonists via small craft in relative safety.

Chief Steward Patrick Hewes had been placed in charge of settling the colonists in the cargo bay and their provisioning, and after a discussion with their leaders we have decided to return them to the Aliakaia home system, which we expect to reach in two days.

Captain's Log - T045

Mr Johnson had returned from his visit to the city of Kadiaz, where he and his team met with the representative Irldzin of the faction. He reported that, unlike the rest of the Alikaia cities, which seem loosely organised by our standards, the faction seemed to have a more developed structure, and a higher proportion of warriors among their numbers - whether this was a true reflection of their society or a show for us foreigners he was unable to determine.

Irldzin and his team were curious about our technology, particularly about our weapons technology, and expressed an interest to trade with us, promising us a better deal than that which could be offered by the other cities.

I will have to meet with Irldzin soon, perhaps after the parade to honour our crew to be held in Dari-Alkin tomorrow; Mr Goldfone had been working with the city authorities on the programme, and he promised me it will be a spectacle.

On advice of the Mission Command Team I have decided that Commander Zruke will remain onboard Deepnight Revelation, while Commander Khomen will attend the parade along with representatives from each of the Divisions.

Prepping and Running the Game

This report omits the last part of the session, which I plan to report in the next post, after the next session.

The first "encounter" of the session was again a non-combat one. The situation as presented in the module was such that it was not possible to rescue all of the colonists. I reviewed the parameters, and was pretty sure that I had sufficient reasons to make the case that it was not possible to do so, even finding out the relative gravity at the surface of Jupiter to determine whether it was possible for Deepnight Revelation to pull the colony ship to safety.

I had prepared for the players to perform a rescue by small craft, which would have meant that most of the colonists would probably not be rescued, but when my players saw the picture of the colony ship, they came up with the idea of detaching one part of the ship from the main body, which made it mathematically possible for Deepnight to pull it free. As the colony ship was an atmosphere-capable ship, I decided that it should be able to withstand the stress of being pulled, especially since the whole section was essentially a cylinder, which is a strong shape.

As they were able to come up with a coherent plan and they rolled well, I ruled that their plan succeeded.

After the rescue we played out the arrival of Deepnight at the Alikaia system and their reception as heroes at their homeworld, with more detailed role-playing on their meeting with the "faction". Based on the information they have learned about the Alikaia until them, they rightly became suspicious of the faction, and started to call them the "space Hitler" faction.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #3

Captain's Log - T028

Preliminary scouting having been completed on the uninhabited planet Astrography named Prospect, an advance party was sent to the surface to establish a campsite at the selected location, where we planned to allow the crew some R&R on the first habitable planet we have come across since our transition through the wormhole.

During their journey to the river to set up a pump station and sewage processing plant, however, the vehicles Tech Team 6 were traveling in attracted the attention of the large birds encounter by the scouting teams earlier. The team broadcasted a loud noise from the sound system on the vehicles, which repelled the birds. Unfortunately, the same noise appeared to have attracted the ire of a herd of the large herbivore also reported by the scouting team. As the lead vehicle crested a rise, it came into close proximity with a large male, which rammed the vehicle and caused it to overturn and roll downwards, eventually settling on its side at the edge of a cliff overlooking the river.

The other vehicle was able to withdraw to a safe distance away, and from there team leader Petty Officer Milo Deems sent out a call for help to the team at base camp. Upon receiving the call for help Lieutenant Xebac took off in the pinnace alone and headed for the team's location, but was ordered back by Lieutenant (Dr) Balilaika, the commander for the mission, to return and pick up the rest of the team.

When they arrived at the site, the team found the herd of some 40 animals stood between them and the first vehicle. The team were unable to get a respond from Crewman Lydia Torrent or Crewman Scott Zane, who were in the vehicle, and it was assumed that they sustained injuries which incapacitated them. The male animal which had rammed the vehicle was next to it, and appeared wounded and agitated. Dr Balilaika determined that moving the second vehicle into the herd might have caused a stampede and result in the first vehicle being pushed over the cliff in the confusion, but the urgency of the injuries likely sustained by the crew made waiting for the herd to eventually wander off a non-viable option.

The teams on the ground decided to resolve the situation in a two-pronged approach. One team, led by Sergeant Ahab, took the second vehicle and reached the opposite bank of the river, from where they would be hidden from the view of the herd. There, Sergeant Ahab, Trooper Iaqta, and Crewman Talon Var scaled the cliff and entered the vehicle, while Mr Ajax and Dr Balilaika approached the male animal on foot, the former using his psionic ability to calm the beast, while the latter stood by with a dart-gun loaded with a tranquiliser he had created based on the tissue samples of one of the bird he had obtained earlier. The duo were successful in their mission, and the first team were able to secure Crewmen Torrent and Zane and lower them to the team below - Crewman Torrent had sustained an open fracture of her femur and had lost consciousness from blood-loss, while Crewman Zane had sustained head injury. They two casualties were conveyed by vehicle to the pinnace, where they were stabilised by Dr Balilaika and then returned to the ship by Lieutenant Xebac.

Supplemental: Commander Khomen had completed his investigation on the matter of Lieutenant Xebac's second instance of reckless action in our mission thus far. It turned out that it was no coincidence that both incidents involved Crewman Torrent - the two are involved romantically, and his concern for her well-being led him to react impetuously on both occasions. I have adopted Commander Khomen's recommendations as Chief Flight Officer that Lieutenant Xebacbe grounded and restricted to administrative and maintenance duties until further review.

Captain's Log - T033

The landing team despatched to the surface of planet DNS-AQ-306 to investigate the magnetic anomaly returned with our first "first contact" with a sentient species in this galaxy.

The magnetic anomaly was in fact the wreck of a spacecraft with a primitive hyperspace drive which had crash-landed on the uninhabited planet some 12 standard years prior. The lone survivor of the crew was a scientist called Akranika. With the help of Mr Ajax, Mr Goldfone, and Dr Tsoukalos, we were able to learn that he and his crew called their own species Alikaia, and they came from a system a little over a parsec away. The Alikaia had never before encountered another starfaring species, and it must have been overwhelming for Akranika to not only make first contact for his people, but first contact with some many alien species at once.

Illustration of Akranika from the module, from the artist's website

Work on creating a database for our auto-translator is ongoing, but so far what we have learned about the Alikaia's social structure is fascinating. Their species is divided into four classes, which translate loosely to: the Mothers (who are female), and the Thinkers, the Warriors, and the Workers (who are all male). The Mothers are not verbally communicative as the rest of the species, but are able to communicate their desires and intentions by other means not yet understood by us. They are considered the leaders of their communities, and are held in a position of great respect by them. They also hold the decision on which members of their communities may fertilise her eggs; individuals who are rejected by her are called "rejectees", and become in a fashion outcasts from their communities, and must live apart from the main communities, though the vast majority of them continue to serve their communities - warriors, for example, form warrior enclaves on the periphery of their communities, where they look after the defence of the communities, while rejectee scientists take to exploration, as Akranika had. Some individuals voluntarily become rejectees to pursue the profession, and these are viewed as self-less members of their communities; as we are all volunteers on Deepnight Revelation, this has resulted in Akranika viewing all of us as some sort of heroes.

The Alikaia's hyperspace technology seems to be primitive, and their extra-terrestrial colonies are so far limited to planets and moons within their own system; Akranika's mission was one of the species' first foray outside their home system. He is of course reluctant to reveal too much about his homeworld and their technology to strangers, heroic or no, and I have likewise advised my crew to be circumspect about the amount of information on our mission we give to our guest. I have, however, agreed to give Akranika a ride home, and see if we can make a new friend and ally in this galaxy.

Our next destination will be the system DNS-AQ-406, where we plan to make a refueling stop, before continuing to Akranika's home system.

Prepping and Running the Game

The two main encounters in this session both come from Book 1 of the module.

The first encounter was once again a non-combat one. I find non-combat obstacle/encounters a good way to introduce players to a setting or a set of rules, as the encourage players to interact with the setting first, and then see how I resolve their actions using the rules (or not, as may be the case).

The members of Tech Team 6 are created by a fellow-forumer on an RPG forum I frequent. I had the idea that they are specialists in airlocks, and told my players that they were the team that converted one of the missile bays to a special laboratory for researching on samples of the Entity which they plan to obtain, and that because of their expertise they are given the nickname of Seal-Team 6.

Hey, a GM is allowed to have fun.

I did not have a chance to roleplay all the members of Tech Team 6 to their full potential, but I will likely try to use the characters in future scenarios involving tech personnel and build them up as we go along.

One of the players picked up on the potential for Prospect to be colonised later, which was something that I had planned to address much later on in the campaign. I am planning to have the Tadpole Galaxy be sparsely populated, and for most of the species here to have a lower level of technology than the United Confederation or the Tazanian Empire; this makes the whole galaxy ripe for colonisation by either polity. Once the news that a stable wormhole exists between our own galaxy and this one reaches home, it will likely start a land-grab and trigger a third interstellar war...

The second encounter is the start of another lore dump, which unfortunately will be a feature of this kind of campaign. The Alikaia are the first of a number of scripted major arcs for the campaign, and next session will hopefully see more role-playing, and some combat.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #2

Captain's Log - T018

Mr Stamper had just completed his debrief to Mission Command on the exploration of HNP-B 1.

The team had been sent to investigate a psionic emanation from the planet, while the ship was conducting refueling mission at HNP-B 2. Upon arrival at the system, the team found remnants of a pre-hyperspace civilisation on the planet, but no sign of any organic life despite the presence of water and an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. They also discovered that the source of the psionic emanation was from the planet's only moon.

Mr Stamper ordered the pinnace to land on the moon, and a team comprising of Dr Tsoukalos, Dr Balilaika, Sergeant Ahab, three troopers, and Crewman Ajax were sent to investigate the source. They found a metal door built into the side of a rise, which opened automatically when they approached.

The door opened to a corridor shaped from the stone of the moon, which descended into the depths of the moon. The outer corridor was separated from the inner corridor by a set of airlock, which was still functional, which irradiated the occupants with ultra-violet light and cycled the air within.

The team passed through the airlock and reached the doors at the end of the corridor, which stretched close to a kilometer and descended close to 200 metres from the surface. Beyond the door they came into a round, domed chamber some 1400m in diameter. Within the chamber were four smaller, oval, transparent-walled domed enclosures, each measuring 600m x 400m and more than 100m in height - the precise measurements of the chamber and domes were not available at the surveying equipment brought by Dr Tsoukalos had to be abandoned due to subsequent events.

The team observed that the chamber was lit by a low green light on the floor. The smaller enclosures were lit from the top of the domes by some unknown source; within each enclosure were trees and other plants, and unidentified animals. In one of the enclosures the plants were thriving, but in two other they were in a stated of decay, and in the last they were all dead.

In the centre of the chamber was a plinth, upon which was a man-sized, transparent-walled chamber, within which was a sickly-looking Gren.

The Gren was able to communicate with Crewman Ajax telepathically, and after transferring a vast amount of information to him, warned him to flee the chamber. The team fled the chamber as they were urged to, and at the same time the floor of the chamber burst open with several plant-like tendrils emerging to try to seize them. As they entered the corridor leading to the surface, the walls of the smaller enclosures broke, and various creatures, with tentacled appendages and maws filled with sharp teeth, emerged from within and pursued them.

Sergeant Ahab and his troopers covered the retreat of the rest of the team, through a tactical use of grenades and blaster fire. He had the clarity of mind to collect a sample of the plant tendril which sought to seize him, but the sample disintegrated when exposed to the ultraviolet light in the airlock.

The creatures did not pursue the team beyond the airlock. The team made it safely to the pinnace, and during the return journey Crewman Ajax related what the Gren had "told" him.

The Gren, whose name was Tyovask, was a scientist on the planet that the moon orbited. Some 30,000 years ago, an asteroid bearing what the people later named the Entity landed on one of the smaller continents of that world. The Entity, a fungal-like organism, began consuming all organic matter it came into contact with, and when its spores infected the Grens, it took over their nervous system and were able to exercise a degree of control over them, until the bodies were eventually consumed too. While the Entity and its spores were susceptible to high temperature and ionising radiation, it proved impossible to eradicate once it has established itself on the continent. The Grens eventually made the decision to perform a thorough nuclear strike on the continent, and for a while it seemed that they succeeded - but it was later found that the Entity had infiltrated the seas around the continent.

Tyovask, a leading biologist, volunteered to study the Entity and the effect of its infection on Grens, and a laboratory was built on the moon, where the risk of a laboratory leak would be minimised, for this purpose. Tyovask had four bio-domes created, which he filled with plants and animals from their world. Then, he infected himself with the Entity, and sealed himself in, and waited for his people to come back for him. Unfortunately, the Grens lost their battle against the Entity, and all organic life on the planet were consumed, and the Entity, barring those on the moon, starved itself into extinction.

In his lab, Tyovask's mind merged with that of the remaining Entity, and he learned that while it was a fungal-like organism, when it has reached a certain size it attained a measure of intelligence and sentience. In their new form the symbiotic organism that was Tyovask and the Entity learned to control its instinct, and instead of consuming all of the organic life within the domes, practised a form of rationing that allowed it to survive for the millennia.

The teams arrival and its telepathic communications with Crewman Ajax allowed Tyovask to learn of what happened to his home planet, and in its grief Tyovask's control over the Entity was weakened, and the Entity, sensing a chance to leave the confines of the moon, consumed the last of tis food source and tried to seize and infect our crew.

After conference with the Mission Command Team, I made the decision to bring the ship to the moon and launch a nuclear strike on the laboratory from orbit. Our sensors confirmed that there were no remnant psionic emanations from the moon after the strike.

Based on the information we have learned, I have ordered a revision of the decontamination protocol for away teams. Further, I have instructed Lieutenant Slater to come up with operating procedures for the tactical teams in future scenarios where an encounter with the Entity would be likely. Chief Medical Officer Cho had also been tasked to set up an isolation facility where samples of the Entity, when we are able to obtain some, may be studied in relative safety.

While the origins of the Grens and their relationship with the fungal Entity are now known, Mission Command Team resolved to continue the mission to seek the source of this Entity and determine if it still poses a threat to our galaxy.

Our next waypoint is a cluster of seven stars some 5000 parsecs away, which Astrography has named Point Grainger. We will however make a pit-stop at a nearby gravitational anomaly at the request of Space Sciences Department before proceeding to Point Grainger.

Supplemental: At Dr Tsoukalos' recommendation, I have offered Crew Ajax a transfer to Social Sciences Department, with the designation of Social Scientist.

Captain's Log - T020

The gravitational anomaly, which Astrography named DSA-1, turned out to be a "frozen star" with impossibly low surface temperature. A closer survey of the frozen star revealed surface fluctuations in temperature and gravitation.

The source of these fluctuations were soon revealed when a large shape some 300 metres in length detached itself from the surface and approached us at high acceleration. We initially identified the shape as a Gren bioship based on its size, shape, and high acceleration and I placed the ship on red alert as we prepared for battle - it being impossible to outrun the bioship. Mr Stamper and Mr Ka'an, however, observed that while the creature approaching us bore some similarities to Gren bioships, it had a number of features that were different. Dr Tsoukalos was consulted, and his opinion was that the creature likely considered our ship either food, or a mate; and there being no discernable mouth or alimentary canal on the creature, it more likely considered us a mate on account of our size, shape, and our propulsion ability. I ordered the ship to reverse course, but the creature increased its acceleration to match, and two more of the creatures, smaller at around 50 metres each, detached themselves from the star and joined in.

The three creatures eventually caught up with us. The larger creature seemed to regard us with some interest, while the smaller ones seemed to invite us to play in a game of chase. As we did not indulge them, they all lost interest after a while, and returned to the surface of the sun.

I have instructed Life Sciences Department to study the sensor data on the creatures, and determine if they are the same creatures which were infected by the Entity and turned into bioships for the Grens. If indeed this is the case, then it proves that the Entity has the ability to construct complex plans, and may prove a far deadlier opponent that we have so far imagined.

Prepping and Running the Game

The encounters in this session came from books 1 and 3 of the campaign series. As with the previous session, there was little action, and a lot of lore dump.

The action, however, was interesting. I decided to use the chase rules from Savage Worlds to run the, well, chase. I have deliberately given the monsters relatively weak stats because I did not want a TPK, but when the players saw the sheer number of models I placed on the map, they decided to run even before they have found out how deadly the monsters were.

The chase would have been relatively boring had not Dr Balilaika's player forgotten (?) about the airlock and rushed in before the rest of the crew had caught up - he ran into the airlock first, which closed and began its two-minute cycle, leaving the rest of the crew stuck on the side with all the monsters.

While the action scene was straightforward, I think the players enjoyed making up plans and protocols for future encounters. This will certainly work to my advantage, as it aids immersion, and takes a lot of work off me.

The second encounter was taken from book 3. I placed it here, early in the campaign, as I wanted to complete the lore dump and solve the mystery of the origin of the Grens and their bioships - I worry that if I left it to a later session the players may not connect the dots. It also allows me to throw in a new element to the campaign: some of the crew may consider the mission accomplished now that the origin of the Grens had been discovered and that they are no longer a threat. These crew members may later become disgruntled as the voyage drags on, and agitate for return to our own galaxy.