About Tarmor

I'm a gamer - I play (will play, or have played) nearly any games, be it computer-based, board-game, card-game, dice, RPG (role-playing game) or whatever. I enjoy reading, and prefer books & movies along Fantasy & Sci-Fi themes.

Painting Battletech (Part 4)

Here’s the last two of four Iron Wind Metals BattleTech mechs. I finished them just over a week ago, but I’d been waiting for some warmer weather to be able to spray varnish and let them dry.

The Dola (on the left) is quite large and was rather fiddly to assemble. A complete rethink of the basing helped made it stand up properly and I feel looks really good. The sword it holds has a fine joint between hand and blade, and bends too easily. It would be easy to break off if care isn’t taken with handling. The Gurhka was a bit easier, but I would have spent more care positioning the legs at the time of gluing if I’d realised that early that it could end up bot being entirely vertical in stance. By the time I was basing it, and realised, I wasn’t going to pull it apart and try again.

The DOL-1A1 is an Inner Sphere mech used as a skirmisher, primarily by House Liao’s Capellan Confederation. As such I’ve gone with a colour scheme used by the Capellan dragoons. It mounts a pair of medium lasers in addition to the sword.

The Gurkha, also an Inner Sphere mech, was developed by the Word of Blake. The GUR-2G is fast with good armour. It has a four-laser hand, sword and particle projector cannon. (I presume the PPC is the chest mount.)

I’m very glad to have these all done and even happier with the way they all look now. Here’s a shot with all four together:

That almost completely clears my painting tray. Of the six figures remaing, I only want to paint two of them – a Warhammer terminator and a possible Drizzt figure. (Warrior with two scimitars) Two more are old skeletons that need paint removed before I could start on them, and that’s part of the reason I’m not enthusiastic about them. Then I have a metal two-part black orc shaman, and a bones priest. I have a non-bones prepainted plastic of the priest already, and the shaman doesn’t really fit with my other orcs.

Shadowrun – Platypus has Fallen

I first played Shadowrun at a convention called Arcarnacon in the early 90’s. A group of us  tried a number of RPGs that we already played and some we hadn’t. Shadowrun with its mix of future and fantasy held my attention and I liked the mechanics of the game too. My group didn’t play it, but I collected an assortment of books through the 90’s. I later sold off many of them in order to buy miniatures, but re-invested in a few things pdf and paper in the last decade.

I’ve spent most of my free time over the last week reworking my basic structure of a one-session SR3 adventure I first made notes on 4 years ago. I’ve cleaned up and expanded the adventure and made a bunch of extra maps and visual aids. I’m now happy to declare it done.

The whole idea was based mostly on the movie “Olympus has Fallen”. The characters are all slightly improved versions of the sample characters from the SR3 rulebook, and named after the actors in the three movie series. Eg: Gerald Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Basset, etc. There are ten choices offering a wide spread of character options.

The setting (as the name suggests) is the Canberra, Australia, based in and around our Parliament House. The President of Australia is hosting the Deputy PM of New Zealand. Injecting a little humour, all the politicians involved are Australian & NZ celebrities. So the players could be trying to rescue Hugh Jackman, Kylie Minogue, Russel Crowe, Peter Jackson, Neil Finn, or Paul Hogan.

I may be an Aussie, but the closest I’ve gotten to the real Parliament House was driving past it with my parents when I was a kid. (The War Memorial held a much greater attraction!) I do enjoy researching stuff though, and there’s an incredible amount of material (especially maps) that you can find on the internet nowadays. I’ve looked at lots of photo’s too, so I had a good idea of what the main chambers within the building actually look like, in order to come up with authentic and accurate handouts and game aids.

When I put together the PC’s it was always in mind that they could be used for other SR one-off games. This week I had a basic idea for a Tasmania based adventure. (My SR timeline says Tassie was abandoned 30 years ago except for 2 small research stations.) I really need to get back to finishing my Star Gate and Battlestar Galactica one-offs before I chase this idea any further though.

I’m haven’t seen some of my gaming group face to face for what could be a year, but its a good time to see if we can get back together. A one-off game could be a better option than straight back into our long FalsKrag D&D game. This is one possibility, though one of my players has already voted for “A three hour cruise” – a Cthulhu Future one-off based on Gilligan’s Island. We’ll see what happens…

Stargate SG-1 RPG. The Saga of Wyvern & Aetherworks

This post is roughly four months later than I’d intended it to be. In August last year I posted about a new Stargate RPG having completed it’s Kickstarter and being close to publishing the rulebook. PDF copies were available then, and actual books did start getting out to backers out Sept-Nov 2021, primarily in parts of the USA. Covid and the MGM – Amazon purchase caused a number of delays, especially with printing and shipping overseas. Overall, the project has gone really well, and I’ve seen worse delays in other Kickstarters, even some pre-Covid that never had that excuse.

Initially I’d hoped to have my book October – November, but like lots of other things around the world there were more delays. This was complicated by what sounds like Wyvern now needing approval from (MGM /) Amazon to do anything, including giving updates on what was happening.

Books actually arrived in Australia early Jan 2022, and I was thrilled when mine turned up later in the month. I’d heard Aetherworks (Sydney based) had a bad reputation as a KS distributor, but they got me the book fast and it was really well packed. Not so happy when I started flicking through it to find two sections of duplicated pages and other pages missing because of the repeats. This messed up a whole chapter on the worlds of Stargate and the Goa’uld. It’s taken four months for me to get a replacement. Aetherworks has their own website for selling stuff, and a single contact form – no address, no phone numbers, no assistance! I got a automatic response to creating a ticket that insisted “A support representative will be reviewing your request and will send you a personal response”.

That personal response took three & a half months! I’d updated the ticket twice with “what’s happening?”, and sent multiple emails to support. The response was “we’re sorry”, “we’ve made changes to customer support”, “it shouldn’t happen again”. No, it shouldn’t have happened AT ALL. They were selling copies online, so it wasn’t like they didn’t have spares.

I don’t fault Wyvern – they were great. They didn’t respond to every query (having multiple contact points is probably not so helpful), but I could email them (and had a Discord chat) and got responses that were friendly and helpful. I’m convinced they were doing what they could from the other side of the world to assist and push AW to act.

If there’s a good side to this all… it’s that I now have two books. The “bad” one has  complete player & main rules sections, so that can be the book everyone passes around, and I have a full copy just for me as GM. My group learnt a long while ago that two copies of the main rules of any RPG are a requirement with 6+ people. I got a set of equipment cards which look great too, though a lighter background would have been better.

The book is great… 368 pages, well-bound, nice artwork (nearly all original), glossy pages, well set out and easy to read. Print could have been a little smaller and reduced the page count! It sounds like Wyvern really wants to do more with this while they have the license. A ‘companion’ soft-cover with more character options, feats & equipment would really help the case game. Lots of people want expansions that cover Atlantis, Universe and SG-1 seasons 7-10. I’d certainly buy another book.

I’ve nearly finished writing two one-session adventures using this – one for Stargate itself, and another based on Battlestar Galactica. I still need to make some maps. (You could do a Star Trek game easily with this too.)

I’m sorry for those who are still waiting their order/KS to arrive. Brexit seems to have completely screwed delivery from Europe to the UK (changes in taxes, freight, etc) and some other countries also still have problems. My enthusiasm for the game has gone up and down a lot over the past year, but I’m still glad I supported this.

Now its back to trying to finish painting this final Battletech mini!

Revising AD&D – Finished! (Part 3)

My revision (home-brew) of AD&D is complete. I have four documents that cover changes to Ability Scores, Class & Race, Saving Throws and General Rules.

My aim was to keep as much as possible from AD&D, but include things I liked from AD&D 2. The 2nd edition dropped a race, and bunch of classes (mostly those from Unearthed Arcana and Dragon magazine). They added: Wizard Specialisation, some spells got better, initiative and surprise being a d10 was a better design, etc. (These are my opinions, you may not agree.)

TSR later went nuts adding race and class “kits” to add variety. I used a few kits in my game, and a future project may be looking at those and making a revised subset of kits that I’m happy with. My players and I weren’t keen on any kit (or anything else) that meant you earned less XP, so some of the better ideas would need rewriting to work around that in some other way.

I’ve learnt a lot about 2nd edition that I’d originally missed. When I first bought the 2nd edition Players Handbook (and DMG, revised 1995), I would have mostly read the race and class stuff, then skimmed over combat, etc. Only now, decades later, have I found rules and detail that I wasn’t aware of then. Most changes were minor, but there were some bigger ones and I’d missed some of both.

I also realised that as much as I loved Unearthed Arcana (1985), I’d missed stuff there too! My main AD&D campaign included a Cavalier and a Barbarian. The Thief-Acrobat sounded interesting, but it seemed like you lost a lot of the good stuff about a thief and were replacing it with different jumping abilities. As part of this, and also separately writing a one-off AD&D adventure that utilised the characters from the AD&D cartoon, I realised that I’d misread some parts (about what Thief abilities didn’t progress) and overlooked other detail. The tumbling abilities given are quite powerful – bonus to-hit, chance to completely evade attacks, reduce falling damage. The end effect is somewhat like a Thief-Monk.

I’ve really enjoyed going through all of this. I’ve revisited D&D history, and had a more patient & thorough read of large chunks of many rule books. I’ll be using this to rework some PC’s in a one-off game, but apart from that, I might not use it again. I don’t care… the process was both satisfying and a lot of fun!

The pdf files are up on my Resources page. Download if you are interested. I’m happy to get comments or suggestions!

Painting Battletech (Part 3)

Two of the four BattleTech mech’s are completed. I’ve been doing a little bit each evening during the week and thoroughly enjoyed painting these.

On the left is the Roadrunner RD-1R (also called an Emerald Harrier) and the right the Lament LMT-2R.

For those who may be interested:

The Roadrunner is a Clan Jade Falcon mech, 15 tons from the Late Succession War (2901-3019, and used up to 3058). It’s a fast, lightly armoured mech with two medium lasers.

The Lament is a heavy Inner Sphere mech, 65 ton created for the armed forces of the Republic of the Sphere about 3127. (Dark Age 3131-3150) Mostly used by regiments of Stone’s Brigade. This heavily armoured mech has a heavy particle projection cannon on each arm, and three medium lasers on the upper torso.

Painting Schemes:

I couldn’t find specific colours for the Jade Falcon Clan (and didn’t look too hard) but did find many other JF mech’s painted in dark green with yellow panels… worked for me!

The Lament is painted in Stone’s Brigade spec’s, specifically following that of the 52nd Shadow Division. I’m not a Battletech nut, so I’ve ignored the “fact” that this divisiion was mostly active about 50 years earlier. I like the colours! The figure had a distinct hole/dimple in the lower right leg. I tried filling this, but wasn’t entirely successful and decided to do it up as battle damage.

EDIT: Got my colour scheme and mechs confused. Shadow Division is actually ‘Word of Blake’ which should be the Gurkha. Stone’s Brigade has a bunch of designs (not red) that were possibly beyond my skill, but I still like the red and black I used.

Here’s an outside image taken which brings up the colours differently for some comparison.

If I had decals or much better freehand, it would be nice to add insignia on some of the panels, but I don’t… so this is it. Two done, two to go!

PS: Hope you like them my friend Asmodeus!

WordPress walks back (some) changes

WordPress still has no official announcement of its plan & price changes – no email to customers, no message on our dashboards. The large amount of “feedback” (almost entirely complaints) has led them to give us back a few of the things we had before April. Scent of a Gamer has an update on the mess…

Scent of a Gamer

Thanks to a link from Aywren, I see that WordPress have undone some of their recent disastrous changes.

The newly introduced limits on how many people are allowed to view your blog each month (!) are gone again… at least for now.

Remaining are the large reduction in storage for free plans (now reduced by two-thirds, instead of five-sixths), and the large monetary gap between the free plan and the cheapest paid plan.

Even if the storage reduction is largely undone, WordPress have destroyed a lot of trust and goodwill in exchange for… I’m not sure what gains. People who were previously on the cheaper paid plans will be looking around at alternatives, and those on the free plans will be keeping alert for opportunities to move away from a provider that has demonstrated a willingness to change things so fundamentally, and without notice.

There has been no…

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A sudden, unannounced change

I’m only a small blog compared to many of those I follow, but this is important to be aware of:
A fair number of WP bloggers noticed their media storage space suddenly become full yesterday… with no warning… and no announcement from WP. They seem to be in the process of restricting plan options, and increasing prices.
Take a look at Dave’s Blog, where this article originated. Read the comments too. (There’s links to WP forum and their responses and attempts at answering questions raised.)

UPDATE:

WP: “We often make an announcement several days after a change is made so we have room to work out issues that may arise.”

At this point WP have still failed to make any official announcement of changes. Some WP customers are only learning about the change because of blog posts by other customers. There is a single forum thread open where they are “collecting feedback”. (Other threads get closed/re-directed as people complain about what’s happened.) While they have offered a few answers (anyone on a plan before 1 April 2022 still has that plan with it’s limits/benefits), there are still lots of unanswered questions, and annoyed customers.

Scent of a Gamer

In between articles a line on my blog stats suddenly went from being halfway full to being full and red:

The free WordPress option used to come with 3GB for storage space.

Above is an image I found on a WordPress page that already seems to have been deleted while I was writing this. It shows what the limit used to be.

That has now been reduced to 500MB. At the moment, I can still upload new images, but I’m expecting that to stop soon.

There has been no announcement that I can see, but this is the new ‘free’ option. It has been drastically reduced. I also notice the 10,000 monthly views limit. I’m getting more than that, and so are many others I know.

At some point, something is going to happen, as in I won’t be able to upload new images, and people won’t be able…

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Painting BattleTech (Part 2)

BattleTech has been around in multiple forms since 1984. The closest I got to it myself was watching Robotech (and similar anime) and playing a little bit of the Robotech RPG (Palladium 1986).

These metal figures were produced by Iron Wind Metals in 2011-2015, though I noted the Gurkha actually had Ral Partha 2002 on the frame.

Separation and clean up was pretty easy. Lots of flash and a fair number of mold lines, that meant I spent a fair amount of time with clippers, knife and file.

The Roadrunner is the simplest of the lot, but the other three are exactly what I don’t like with multi-part figures. The only advantage I see in multi-part is if it allows alternate posing or positioning.

The Gurkha is 5 parts, and could have been two. (I would think the arm with the sword is good being separate)There’s really only one way to put it together without bending the metal.

The Lament is 8 parts and the feet should have been part of the legs. You can, at least, swivel this at the waist, and with careful filing possibly tilt the arms.

The Dola mech is the best and worst simultaneously. 8 parts, almost all with ball and socket joints, do allow some potential for posing, but making sure it all stays together and can still stand upright is going to be… interesting!

Two of the figures had no bases, and I’m not using the two small thin bases that were supplied. I was thrilled to find some good sized metal hexagonal bases (and a round one that’s had some filing) in my stuff to better suit the size and weight of all this pewter!

Left to Right: Dola, Gurkha, Roadrunner, Lament. From assembled but unpainted, through varying degrees of painting.

Making sure that legs line up in three dimensions has been harder than I’d expected. I’d been mostly concerned with gluing the legs “straight” and having the mech stand properly on the base. What I hadn’t considered was doing this and having the rest of the body in a balanced looking position.

The Lament intentionally leans slightly to one side because I positioned it with one leg slightly raised as if stepping forward. The Gurkha has legs cast in different positions and he ended up with the feet somewhat closer together than they should have been giving him a bit of an unintentional lean. (I’d done him first and once I realised this, didn’t want to break or dissolve the bond to try repositioning) The Dola was last, and all looked good until I realised the arms when joined to the rear of the broad flattened torso, would make it look like it was leaning back. It is sculpted to be stepping forward, which isn’t as bad as if it was meant to be standing upright. Not the effect I wanted, but only distinct from a side/rear profile. My image from the net has the torso at a steep forward angle that I didn’t like, and this is likely the reason why that was done. I’m going to re-do the base with a slant that he’s walking down. I’ve got some nice pieces of slate that need trimming and filing/cutting.

Painting Battletech

I haven’t really had the interest to paint much this year… the summer heat, the distraction of reading, computer games, and writing role-playing stuff have all been factors. My tray of stuff to paint has been nine figures (four of them daemonettes I’d prefer to sell or give away) for months and aren’t inspiring me.

On Friday I had lunch with a friend who gave me four Battletech mechs to assemble and paint. These are quite different from my usual figures, but are interesting enough to keep my attention for a while.

These are a Gurkha GUR-2G, a Dola Mech, a Lament LMT-2R and a Roadrunner RD-1R. The first three are Inner Sphere mechs, and the last a Clan mech, all from slightly different Era’s – Jihad, Civil War, Dark Age & Late Succession War. That all means very little to me, but I’ve only started my research so that I know both what I’m painting, and how typical colour schemes should look like.

All are metal figures produced by Iron Wind Metals. Finally some painting to look forward to!

 

 

 

 

Revising AD&D – Part 2

My revision (home-brew) of AD&D has been slowly progressing in between gaming (PC and tabletop), reading and life in general. I’d thought I’d post an update because there’s been a bit of interest in my first post, and it encourages me to continue.

What am I actually doing? I loved AD&D, and “Unearthed Arcana” is one of my favourite books. Second edition sorted out spells quite nicely (and added specialist Magic-Users) to my delight, but dumped almost all the early class additions from Dragon Magazine and UA. My group was already using some of the extra classes and we simply kept using them. My “revision” is primarily aimed at keeping all the race and class detail from 1st edition, but also drawing on some of the rules from 2nd edition to complement or simplify the stuff that complicated by the writing style of the first PH and DMG. I’m also drawing on my knowledge of later versions that helped balance out some of the stuff that hindered the early versions or that people simply ignored or reworked themselves.

I started by listing all the important info from the AD&D Players Handbook, Unearthed Arcana, and some notes from the DMG and Tome of Magic. Then I went through the second edition rulebooks for the same detail, and worked out what I felt was best, and made notes of any related gaming rules that I wanted to keep or change. I’m now at the point of compiling all my notes into proper tables and forms to put into booklet form.

Races: Dwarves (Hill, Mountain), Elves (High, Grey, Wood), Gnomes (Deep, Forest, Rock), Halflings (Hairfeet, Stout, Tallfellow), Half-Elves, Half-Orcs (which were dropped from 2nd), and Humans. In all cases I’ve kept the basics of the race abilities from 1st, with % rolls rather than x in 6 (or 8, 12, etc) and stat bonuses more based on 2nd edition. Humans get some enhancements to make them more playable.

Classes: Cleric, Druid, Fighter (Archer, Barbarian, Cavalier, Paladin, Ranger), Magic-User, Monk, Thief, Acrobat, Bard. (Archer & Monk are from Dragon, Bard based on both Dragon & 2nd Ed.) I’ve greatly simplified the Ability Score requirements, and many of the XP tables are from 2nd Edn. Class abilities are also % based, with any class that has a thief (or acrobat) ability getting bonuses and/or penalties (from race, dexterity, armor) in the same way a thief does. I’m thinking of using 2nd edition’s level caps. I’ve got a basic weapon proficiency system for the cleric that is based on their deities favoured weapon instead of the blunt weapons only of AD&D. Magic Users allow Specialist, Elemental and Wild Mages (AD&D Tome of Magic, 2nd Edn PH and PO: Spells & Magic.) My rangers will start with 2d8 HD, and gain both limited Clerical and MU spells.

Ability Scores: Since 9-12 is average (mean) of the 3d6 stat roll, my aim was to have penalties for <8, and bonuses for 13+. (AD&D didn’t give a bonus until a stat was 15+) In most cases I’ve compressed the 3-8 results and stretched out the bonuses given at higher stat’s. I’ve made small changes to the INT and WIS tables, with a max spell level castable for both clerics and MUs, and removed maximum spells learnt for MUs.

Surprise and Initiative use a d10 (2nd), searching (secret doors, etc) uses a custom % roll. Spells are likely based out of the 2nd edition PH, using schools and domains.

I’m working through each class now listing the XP tables, abilities, restrictions and so on. It’s still a work in progress but getting closer to something playable.