Star Wars – Painting Stormtroopers

Star Wars 40307 “Stormtroopers” (Lucasfilm, West End Games)

10 Stormtroopers SW61 – SW70.

 

When my Gamma World game got going this year, I dug out my Star Wars minatures thinking that they would be of more use than most of my fantasy figures, since most of these figures held guns! The Stormtrooper set has been particularly useful, since we’ve been playing GW1 “The Legion of Gold”. They have been perfect to represent the many golden-armored warriors that are fought in groups of generally five or more.

They were unpainted in the first session I used them, then got a spray white undercoat soon after. I’ve spent the last week finishing the set as well as the main Rebels/Bounty Hunter figures that I’d picked out to represent the player characters. (The PC’s should be my next post.)

A squad of ready Stormtroopers!

The best part about this ten piece set of one-piece metal figures is that each one is unique. While a couple have similar poses, this variety isn’t common now unless you buy a large set of multi-part figures.

Nearly all the Star Wars figures I purchased at this time (3 sets back about 1989) have been well produced figures, nicely posed, well detailed, not much flash to clean up, and few mold lines. I’m quite sure they came in a neat cardboard box at the time. I’ve still got the insert sheet with names, images and film/RPG detail that came with each set.

I decided to try something different with my last lot of painting: These got an extra spray of white undercoat, then a very good coat of black ink. It really picked out the detail and while looking more grey than the typical bright white, they looked good. I put them all onto 25mm round bases, and started going over each one with more white paint. Black for the “body-glove” and on helmets, black and gun metal on weapons. I’d painted the bases with a mid/dark grey then realized I needed more contrast, so went over them with a blotchy coat of black, then gun-metal. It can vary slightly with lighting, but the bases now appear to be black with a shiny silvery sheen.

These troopers don’t look like they just walked out of the clone factory! I could have gone back over them with another coat of white paint, but I like current appearance. They aren’t bright and shiny – they look like they actually been out and wearing the armor for some time.

 

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One-shot games (or “What to do when players aren’t free?”)

Long gone are the days when my gaming group played some sort of game multiple times a week. Work, partners and/or family, and life in general means my group now averages a gaming day/night twice a month. My main D&D game has six players, and I generally don’t feel like running it if two people can’t make it. The Pathfinder game I play in came about in part for this reason – so that we could still role-play when the two busier people in our larger group weren’t free.

Sometimes a player can drop out at last minute, or you may have a few people who still want to get together. Occasionally, we’ll still play and one player runs two PC’s. We have also ended up playing board games (like Dungeon Quest, Talisman, Minion Hunter), card games (Munchkin, Flux, Unexploded Cow) or I’ve run a one session RPG. In the past we have played two Call of Cthulhu games (I’ve got “Blood Brothers” – designed with this in mind) and last year we did three separate one-shot (/playtest) Gamma World games. I’ve still got another CoC adventure ready to run if required.

Earlier this year, one of the blogs I read – Dungeon Fantastic – detailed two sessions where he ran S2 “White Plume Mountain” (AD&D) as a change from his normal GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. It sounded like a lot of fun, both as an alternative from normal gaming and a chance to play a few adventures from early D&D versions without converting them to d20/PF (which is what I mostly do now) and/or having to make changes to suit my player’s character levels. It inspired me to look at the rule books on my gaming shelves and produce a couple of single-session adventures to have ready for one of those days when someone can’t make a game or we just feel like something different.

Over the last two months I started working on two One-Shot adventures – one for Star Wars and another for Middle Earth. This gave me a theme – Movie/TV – that I’ve been expanding to nearly every RPG I own. Generally I’m taking a part of a movie (or the general idea from the film/TV program) and building something for 4-5 players. I enjoy coming up with adventure ideas and I love making characters, so two ideas have grown into six – so far!

Here’s the adventures I’m working on; titles are subject to change.

Star Wars (d6 W.E.G.) – “The Pit of Carkoon”

Middle Earth Role Playing – “Dol Guldar: The Necromancer”

Gamma World (d20 Pathfinder) – “We’re not in Kansas anymore”

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay – “Inconceivable!” (Or “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…”)

Shadowrun (3rd Edition) – “Asgard has fallen.”

Oriental Adventures (D&D 3.5) – “Gandhara/Journey to the West”

Now, it’s possible that the titles don’t mean anything to you, or only sound a little familiar. If so, here’s some more detail:

  1. The “Pit of Carkoon” is the resting place of the Sarlaac from “Return of the Jedi”. Six minutes in the movie makes a great set-up for a major combat on two skiffs and Jabba’s Sail Barge. For five PC’s, with an optional sixth being Boba Fett, fighting against the rest of the players. The session could be expanded with something in Mos Eisley where the players have to get back to the Millennium Falcon.
  2. Dol Guldar is a fortress in southern Mirkwood forest, where the White Council drive out Sauron – “the Necromancer”. There’s a scene that interprets the events from “The Lord of the Rings” in the movie “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”. The LotR book lists the “White Council” as being “the Wizards, Elrond, Cirdan, Galadriel, and other lords of the Eldar” so I’ve made nine characters that can be chosen from by Players, and I’ll modify Dol Guldar from the MERP sourcebook “Mirkwood”.
  3. The classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” converted to Gamma World. Five PC’s (including Toto) are sent by the “Tech Wizard from Oz” to remove the threat of the “Wicked Witch” (an Esper) and her flying monkeys.
  4. Another classic movie – “The Princess Bride”. Westley, Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Fezzik and Miracle Max have to defeat Prince Humperdink, Count Rugen and maybe Vizzini. This adventure will draw on the characters more than the actual story in the movie.
  5. I’ve done little work on this so far. The idea is to have a Shadowrun session where the PC’s are all off-duty military/security named after characters (or actors?) from the “Olympus has fallen” movies who have to rescue the President and his son from terrorists. My big change is to relocate this to Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. Downloading basic maps/floor-plans was easy. I mostly need to make-up the PC’s and NPC’s.
  6. The novel “Journey to the West” is the fictional story of an actual Chinese monk who traveled to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures. Most people are more familiar with the 1978 Japanese TV series “Monkey”. The five main characters (including Horse) recreated in d20 and doing something similar to an episode of the series.

For most of these I’ve completed the PC’s and thought about NPC’s and creatures. Specific adventure detail comes next. Once finished, I’ll probably add the adventures to the blog.

 

Z:BP The Abominotaur!

I finished this figure last weekend, which is much too long after I started it. I could have finished it to a better standard, but after all this time I just wanted it done!

2017-05-20 Abominotaur-2

Originally, I base coated the figure with burnt sienna, but that looked rather more orange than mid brown. After putting some different colour on various parts (mouth, horns, claws, etc) I went over the skin with a better brown, did a bit of highlighting to claws, horns and the tumors/lumps on his back and arm. I inked it next to get some dark shading in skin folds, etc, but it didn’t work as planned – the overall brown darkened more than I’d expected and I ended up with very little ink sitting where I wanted it.

This meant a lot more highlighting to lighten raised skin/ridges. Then I did more detail/highlighting, particularly on the swollen arm. Finally teeth, eyes, some touch ups to claws and hooves, and copper on the chain belt. Gun metal on the metal/armour plates and a little black ink on most of those. Some darker brown in grooves or behind other pieces that stuck out to hide bits of the base coat that hadn’t been covered, etc. Fluoro yellow in the eye sockets and some bright red on the eyes over that.

Abominotaur – left side

Abominotaur – right side

The weather was good today, so he got spray varnished this morning and left out to dry. I’ll probably give him another quick spray coat tomorrow.

There’s nice detail on the figure and it wasn’t a hard paint… just time consuming when my ideas didn’t match what actually happened during painting. I’m very pleased to have finally finished all my Zombicide Abominations now!

 

Zombicide BP: The Abominalpha

I finished painting the Abominalpha about three weeks ago and had hoped to finish the minotaur as well and post both of them. The minotaur is nearly done, but light was good this morning so I finally got some pics of the Alpha! The photos came up really well and show the colour and detail as I see the figure, with the only exception being that the claws are slightly darker (and flecked with black) in RL.

A long, hot and humid summer in Melbourne meant I really didn’t feel like painting for most of Feb/March and only got back to the last two Abominations in April. I really like the Alpha figure – good sculpting and lots of detail. It wasn’t until I started painting and paying a lot of attention to the box pamphlet image that I realised he’s wearing human skin – there’s two feet hanging down at the front!

 

Abominalpha – front

I started with a mid grey base coat, rather like my Wolf Abominations, and a dark blue-grey on the arms and back of the head with the longer ‘fur’. A little dark brown ink (or black – I can’t remember now) for shading. A mix of yellows and light browns for the skins, and some brown ink for detail. Then lots of white dry brushing all over – I like the white fur of the original image – and over the grey I feel the shading/highlight has worked really well. I wanted a dark constrast with the horns and thought black wouldn’t show the detail there, and tried red over the gray base-coat. This looked good and got some black paint that sits in most of the grooves. I’d had a few ideas for the claws that didn’t seem to work and after the way the horns worked, decided to do all the claws the same way.

 

Abominalpha – rear

I could have done some more work on the skins, but I’m happy with the look I have. I would have liked to do more with the shrunken heads, but anything better is beyond my current ability. Look at this site to see what someone has produced – I don’t know if their heads had better detail, or they have steadier hands to create the detail and better painting skills! (Probably the latter from looking at the claws.)

I might take him out this afternoon for another coat of spray varnish while the weather’s nice!

 

A tree, a cactus and an android walk into a bar…

No, it’s not a joke – this is my new Gamma World campaign. Not only did I finish writing my conversion to Pathfinder rules, but also my gaming group rolled up characters and we’ve played about six sessions.

Three play test sessions (mostly last year) had helped me to establish what skills I wanted, and tweak my races, classes and feats. My mutation system seems fine, but the mutations themselves have had small adjustments, even into our first two gaming sessions, as both my players and I realised what wasn’t defined or could be refined – especially things like range for powers and whether something needed an attack roll or saving throw.

My full GM Rulebook is 90 pages long (so far) and I’m now converting GW creatures to the Pathfinder system. I’ve even built the basics of the system in Hero Lab – Races, Classes, Skills, Talents, Feats, basic weapons and all armour working properly. I still have to code the mutations and artefact equipment/weapons.

So this is what I have now:

5 Genotypes (Races, with 15 Animal subtypes, and 6 plant subtypes)
10 Classes
30 base Skills (8 Crafts, and 8 Knowledge expanding those)
78 Talents (Class abilities)
101 Feats
120 Positive Mutations
25 Mutation Defects
A heap of armour, weapons and misc equipment
7 Prestige Classes
1 NPC Class
32 Creatures

An abridged PDF of my rules is available on my Resources page.

 

The Campaign so far has been converted 2nd edition adventures. We started with GW2 “Famine at Far-Go”, then the mini-adventure “The Albuquerque Starport”. The group is currently halfway through GW1 “The Legion of Gold”. They have reached second level and have an assortment of the ancients equipment – mostly “Pre-war” stuff, but a couple of “advanced” items. Most of them can’t wait to level up to 3rd so that they can get a Tech Familiarity feat (so they don’t use things like guns and lasers with penalties), or to get a new mutation! I have a theme that I introduced in the first adventure (“Have you heard the words of the Electron Prophet?”) that will reveal itself again soon, and steadily build up to something I’ll have to write myself later. My next blog post should be about this group and gameplay.

Gamma World is a weird blend of crazy, humorous role-play that can suddenly turn deadly serious. Our last session has good examples. A huge bright orange lion flew down out of the sky yelling at the group. It landed and looked the group’s main warrior up and down. “It’s awesome, I’ve got to have it. It looks just like the one I ate last week – what do you want for it?” Tense concern melted into laughter when they realised that Yexil’s eat cloth, especially synthetics and it wanted Hack’s pre-war armour, less the ceramic plates. They managed to trade some fabric they recovered from a clothing store (on a space station!) for two photon grenades. The very happy Yexil flew off looking for Elvis – it had seen an image and wanted his jacket. A few hours later the players were fleeing in a panic because the four screaming mutants they’d just encountered in a bunker all had life-leech – a mutation power that drains hit points from living things within 30 feet and heals the mutant. The android in the party keeps proving a valuable choice.

 

Apart from Gamma World – I haven’t done much this year (more reading and playing computer games than usual). I’m determined to finish painting my Zombicide abominations over the next week or two. I also have plans for a new painting project. I undercoated 20 Star Wars figures from Ral Partha this morning – with the expectation to use many of them for GW. More detail on that as it comes.

2016: The Year of Zombicide!

Looking back over 2016, I note that I painted from scratch about half as many figures as the year before (27 compared to 60). But it’s easy to see what I did spend a lot of time on – Zombicide: Black Plague! I spent more time playing Zombicide than any of my usual RPGs, or any other game. My game review of Z:BP was my most seen post, with 771 views (8 times as popular as the 2nd place comer) Of the figures I did paint – 12 were from Zombicide.

On New Year’s Eve, I ran my third playtest of Gamma World 4.5 (my d20 rule set is pretty much complete now) and played two games of Zombicide!

2016 was a pretty good year for the blog. Compared to 2015, I tripled my number of visitors (3041 views, 2045 visitors from 67 countries!) I had a lot of fun – revisiting old game systems that I hadn’t looked at for a decade or more (MERP, Gamma World), finishing a major part of the D&D campaign I run, and starting a Greyhawk/Pathfinder project for Hero Lab.

This year has started off with me enjoying my annual leave break (but I go back to work tomorrow) and I’ve spent a lot of it playing World of Warcraft, some more Zombicide, and a lot of sleeping in. I’ve been reading through the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodking (in book four now) and had a couple of sessions of Pathfinder.

 

2017-01-16-abtroll-1

 

Yesterday I finished my first miniature painting of the year – the Abominatroll from Zombicide: Black Plague.

2017-01-16-abtroll-2

 

He was enjoyable to paint. Mostly a dark green base coat, some brown paint and dark tone ink for give some depth and shading, then a lighter “field grey” (more dull green than any grey) for highlighting. Touches of yellow, pink, red, white etc for various detail. Mostly flesh and white, then brown ink for finger & toe nails, with a distict “light olive” for the lumps. It’s a bit brighter in colour than the images make it look.

2017-01-16-abtroll-3

 

I still have the minotaur and wolf alpha to go – then I hope to get onto painting heroes/survivors!

 

A Brave New World…

…complete with people like a four-eyed flying monkey, a three-armed cat-man, an ambulatory vine that throws exploding seeds, a dark-skinned female human with gills who stands over eight feet tall, a normal looking man who levitates and controls the actions of those he touches, and a small rusty-looking cyborg who enjoys taunting computers and lesser robots. Maybe they need to recover healing fruit from an ancient building with an overgrown arboretum, or maybe they are helping a farmer learn what’s killing his six-legged blue sheep.

 

This is the Gamma World – a futuristic RPG set on earth after the ravages of nuclear and biological war. Mutants (creatures changed by radiation, genetic modification or biological effects) are common, as are the artefacts of the pre-war society – some undamaged and functional, others ruined, broken or decayed. Humans are either the descendants of those who lived through the worst in bunkers, were frozen embryos or clones (Pure Strain), or “altered” – those who survived, but aren’t entirely human any more. Larger, sentient animals exist, many with mutations or defects. Robots and AI’s, some functional, others with damaged programming and memory loss can be encountered, along with mobile intelligent plants.

Gamma World, first produced by TSR in 1978 is now into its seventh edition. I was first entranced by the idea of this game from three pages in my 1979 Advanced D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide which described converting D&D characters to and from the “Boot Hill” and “Gamma World” game systems. I didn’t get to play until the late 1980’s, when at University I started a short 1st edition game. One of the guys in my gaming group ran a short 3rd edition campaign in that time too. I bought the 4th edition when it came out (TSR 1992) – loved it, but never played it. (It’s mostly based on 2nd edition D&D rules, but looking back it’s obviously a precursor to 3rd edition, with defined class skills, DC’s, three saving throws, etc.) A friend gave me a copy of the Player’s Handbook for the sixth edition of Gamma World (2003) and this got me interested again. This is a d20 version produced by ‘Sword & Sorcery’ with three hardback rulebooks and three supplements, mostly based on d20 Modern and requiring that rulebook. It’s very good at defining the world and background, but has a lot less mutations and equipment than earlier versions.

The “people” of the Gamma World mentioned at the beginning are sample characters I created with my new system for play testing with my gaming group. Both sessions have been a lot of fun, and helped my tweak my rules and tidy up skills and abilities. I’m nearly at the stage where players could create their own characters with the rules.

I’ve considered merging the rules presented in both the 4th and 6th editions for a long, long time… this year I actually started doing it. The fourth edition allows plants as character races, has 102 mutations and 18 defects, and about 40 pages of equipment, weapons and artefacts. The sixth edition has no plants, but allows “synthetics” – robot player characters, 45 mutations (about half are defects), about 20 Cybernetic/Psionic powers, and only 18 pages of equipment. My system – I’m calling it 4.5 – is based mostly on the 4th edition material converted to d20 (3.5 D&D), drawing from Pathfinder, d20 Modern and of course the parts I like from GW 6th edition.

One thing I never liked about early GW versions was the randomness of mutations. You could have one character who was really powerful (laser eyes, immunities, regeneration) and another with bad eyesight, three legs and ability to levitate small rocks. No balance. Unless it was a campaign where you expected to die quickly and make up another character, it could be really annoying. My system gives most genotypes a number of points to buy mutations. Each mutation costs one to three points. You roll on a table, if you can afford the mutation you take it, or you roll again. If you choose to take a 1 or 2-point defect, you get extra points for good mutations. During game-play, radiation exposure may randomly grant 1 or 2 points of good or bad mutations. At character creation, it’s a choice.

I have five Genotypes – Pure Strain Humans, Altered Humans, New Animals (15 subtypes), Green Folk (6 plant subtypes) and Live Metal. There are ten base classes: six from d20 Modern (Strong, Fast, Tough, Smart, Dedicated, Charismatic) and four from 4th/6th edition – Enforcer, Esper, Examiner and Scout. All of these have been adjusted to balance out more evenly than their d20 originals. My skills list is mostly based on Pathfinder with some GW/d20 Modern additions, with revised or new descriptions when required. I have 30 fully detailed skill descriptions, 78 Class Abilities, and 100 Feats.

I’m currently converting all the 4th edition mutations to my d20 version, and then I’ll add in some of the powers from 6th edition. Equipment will be predominantly from the 4th edition and I mostly need to make range adjustments (from metres to feet), and “monsters” from the 6th edition almost as is.

Once it gets a bit further along, I’ll put detail up on my Resources page.

Have you ever played Gamma World?   What edition did you play and would you play again?