Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Ultimate Showdown

Click here for a video so cool it makes me want to pull my shirt over my head and demand teepee for my bunghole. I come from Lake Titicaca!

A Retro Future


I found someone selling the four Judges Guild sector books for Traveller in a price range a cheapskate like me couldn't pass up. I'm digging these books so far. My primary complaints is that the maps aren't half as pretty as the Spinward Marches poster. The graphic above is my first step towards correcting that problem. The Gateway Quadrant (the region pictured above) has three big advantages over the Spinward Marches:

1) Over twenty different polities for lotsa nuanced interstellar intrigue and maybe some wars, without the baggage of a lot of published stuff outlining the navies of the groups involved.

2) Besides the Imperium, the other two big empires in the neighborhood are the Two Thousand Worlds of the K'Kree and the Hiver Federation. As far as official Traveller aliens go, I find these guys to be a lot cooler than the Zhodani and Vargr that menace the Marches.

3) No one is using this stuff. This material has officially been de-canonized. Heck, the Traveller20 people are working on a new sourcebook that renders all the old JG stuff obsolete. No one could possibly care if I mess around with this setting.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Local News Hits Wonkette

International blog phenom Wonkette ("Politics for People with Dirty Minds") currently has up an item about an RNC party in Bloomington, IL tomorrow night. This story has every thing: creepy racism, Hillary hate, Representative Tim Johnson, gay bars! Seriously!

misc links time 5

The Ninjas & Superspies GMs Netbook

The Map Realm: The Fictional Road Maps of Adrian Leskiw

the screenplay for Peggy Sue Got Married

Seventh Sanctum, the premier stupid random generators site

The Watcher Files

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nostalgia or good taste?

I generally dig the monster figures in the official D&D Minis line, at least the ones that appear in the Monster Manual. But between the figures for critters appearing in books I don't own and some of the more outre personality minis, I'm not 100% satisfied with the line. So I supplement my figures with some Heroscape sets and paper figures (most notably S. John Ross's Sparks and Steve Jackson's Cardboard Heroes).

In terms of design my tastes align less with the dungeonpunk of modern D&D and more with things like Reaper's Dark Heaven line. Admittedly, the Reaper figures evoke more Elmore and Warhammer than I generally prefer, but since no one is rushing to produce an Erol Otus inspired miniatures line where else can I turn? Still, the question posed in the title of this post remains: Do I like Reaper's minis because they're good, or because I cling to a outmoded vision of D&D? I think the answer is a little from column A and a little from column B.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nightmare indeed

One of the stupider things I do sometimes is buying adventure modules for games I don't own. Partly I do this because adventures can be adapted to other games (most supers modules work in most supers settings, frex) and partly because getting a module can be a cheaper way of evaluating a game line than buying the corebook. My latest acquisition in this vein is Nightmare Maze of Jigresh, published by Judges Guild and for use with Empire of the Petal Throne.

Yes, there really is a module called Rat On A Stick.Before I dig into Nightmare Maze let me take some time to talk about Judges Guild and EPT. Judges Guild of Decatur, Illinois was one of the first and definitely the most prolific of third party D&D publishers, but they also supported several other lines. The Guild published a lot of modules, supplements, and multiple periodicals. For a rundown of their product lines, check out the Judges Guild Codex. I've got a crapload of this stuff, mostly D&D/AD&D adventure modules, Traveller accessories, and most of the run of the Paul Jacquays-edited fanzine Dungeoneer. Then there's the unique items like Rat On A Stick (play monsters running a fast food stand in a dungeon), Field Guide to Encounters (a fantasy rpg with one of the weirdest monster lists I've ever seen), and First Fantasy Campaign (Dave Arneson's notes for his pre-D&D Blackmoor campaign). A lot of JG stuff is available today for cheap on the eBay or as reasonably priced PDFs over at DriveThruRPG.

Some of the Judge's Guild stuff was really outstanding. Many players of the era heap praise on the JG setting material centered around the City State of the Invincible Overlord. The City State material was sufficiently popular that Mayfair bought the rights and published an updated boxed set sometime in the late 80's. Some JG material made a comeback when 3rd edition D&D came out and dungeoneering was suddenly cool again. The classic dungeons Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia were upgraded to 3e standards and released by Necromancer Games. They followed this up with new versions of City State and Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Several old schoolers on RPGnet and elsewhere have gushed over the new Wilderlands boxed set. I think this would be a good point to quote RPGpundit on Wilderlands of High Fantasy:
Someone should contract an armed gang of Brazilian mercenaries, kidnap every other setting designer in the industry, sit them down in a dank poorly-lit room somewhere, and force them to read the whole fucking thing. Then have the guys who worked on it give them all indoctrination settings on how to do the same. NOTE TO SETTING DESIGNERS: This is how you create a "crunchy" setting, and this is exactly the sort of thing that settings should be doing today! Not more fucking feats and prestige classes, not limp-wristed in-game fiction; give us more books with 4000 fucking adventure ideas in them! Let the personality of the setting show in the actual adventure seeds, and let the adventure seeds be tied to places on the fucking map. Its so goddamned obvious it makes my ears bleed just considering that I actually have to spell it out to people.
But that's the new Judge's Guild stuff, let's get back to talking about the original Judge's Guild. Not everything they published back in the day was gold. In fact, they were kinda spotty. Gigi D'arn, the gossip columnist for Different Worlds magazine, once noted in her column that JG had finally decided to start asking for rewrites if manuscripts sucked. I can't quite tell if she was being straight or just snarky when she wrote that, but either way the implication is clear. And although I like the Guild's Traveller accessories, the adventures and sector data are not well liked by Trav fans. The D&D modules are in general a mixed bag of great ideas and terrible execution. Many of the maps published by JG were ugly and in some cases they were hard to interpret as well. Not that everything produced by their contemporary competition was gold. It's easy to be hard on JG because of the handful of real stinkers in their large catalog. Many similar 3rd party ventures died in obscurity because they couldn't produce even one product of comparable quality to the better works of Judge's Guild.


EPT box art
But let us move on to Empire of the Petal Throne. EPT is a strange old bird, one of the earliest roleplaying games published. EPT came out in '75, a year after the original D&D game hit the scene. Tekumel, the world of EPT, is the loving brainchild of Professor M.A.R. Barker. To understand the depth and grandiosity of Tekumel, imagine that Tolkien had cribbed from Aztecs and Ancient Egyptians instead of Medieval Europe. Furthermore, make ol' J.R.R. into a GM and game designer. That's M.A.R. Barker and Tekumel in a nutshell. In the world of gaming Tekumel has few rivals. The future history of Traveller approaches the scope and grandeur of Barker's world, as well as possibly Harn and Glorantha (the setting of RuneQuest). I don't know enough about the latter two to make a fair comparison.

The publishing history of Tekumel is as long and tortured as that of the various incarnations of Traveller or D&D, but Empire of the Petal Throne was where it all began. The premise was simple: take Barker's exciting and unique setting, tweak the then-nascent D&D rules to better fit Barker's world, and let loose the PCs as barbarians new to the titular Empire. Later Tekumel games got away from the barbarian outsiders premise, which to me was the best part. I'd love to play a Conan-esque PC running rampant over the stratified social norms of the Empire. As I understand it modern Tekumel players go to great lengths to insert their PC into the Petal Throne social scene via clan affiliations and postings to imperial legions and such.

You can get more detail on EPT from the RPG Museum entry on Empire. For more info Tekumel in general, check out the definitive Tekumel site. The most recent incarnation of Tekumel is the the tri-stat Tekumel rpg from Guardians of Order. You can also get reprints of old stuff (including the original rules published by TSR) from Tita's House of Games. Cool cover, eh?One of the things you can get from Tita is Nightmare Maze of Jigresh, the module I bought for cheap with a lot of old Traveller stuff. Most of Nightmare is typical of 70's era dungeons I've seen, a little bit of intro text, some rooms full of monsters and loot, a couple of new critters to spice things up, and not much else. The two new monsters are both undead, one of them effectively an undead stirge (great idea) and the other a fairly standard killer corpse. Excerpted for background purposes is the setting fluff from The Book of Ebon Bindings, a Tekumel demonology sourcebook I've often wanted to check out. The encounter area descriptions are pretty bare-bone, most of them are single lines of text like "2 Pe'Choi, hp 25, 20". It's not ideal for my crazy purposes, like adapting it to Encounter Critical, but I could make it work. Except for the map. Turns out that Nightmare Maze is one of those gimmick dungeons, where the poor sod who wrote it thought he was being clever by using a maze for his dungeon. As in the kind you use a pencil to work out in a kid's Rainy Day Adventure Funbook. Check it out:

Just looking at this map makes my balls hurt. What sort of sick, sadistic bastard do you have to be to inflict something like this upon hapless players? Glancing at this maze (that's the unlabeled player's map above, which they can only find a copy of deep within the bowels of the maze itself!) reminds me of the maze generator from Irony Games. You select one of four sizes for your random maze, "Quite boring", "Incredibly boring", "Justifiable homicide", or "Please, please, please don't!" and then click a button labeled "I hate my players' guts..." And the scale! Most of the corridors are a stifling 5' or less in width. In terms of practical play, you can achieve the whole 'maze' effect with a map that's a whole order of magnitude less complicated. Redoing the map is probably the only way to make this module workable, unless you really wanted the PCs to be lost in the maze for multiple sessions. That would be a good way to test the author's rather twisted insistence that a big focus of the GMs efforts ought to be tracking whether the PCs are starving to death or not. If that's your bag.

Don't get me wrong, Nightmare Maze of Jigresh isn't a total trainwreck. The author hung his hat on a gimmick that I don't like and that won't play in Peoria these days. Back in the heyday of the killer DMs something like the Nightmare Maze was probably more acceptable in some regions. But attitudes have changed and anyone trying to pull this crap nowadays would quickly find themselves a pariah in the gaming community. I suppose a different, less maniacal map would go a long way towards making Nightmare Maze less of a gimmick and more of an adventure. You could still get that maze effect with a tenth of the twisty passages.

I tried to find some more information about the author, but there's not much I can report. Michael Mayeau has a few other credits with JG: Survival of the Fittest, Operation Ogre, and Dragon Crown. I don't know much about those, except that Operation Ogre is still pretty easy to find. Tadashi over at the Different Worlds website will sell you a copy of Operation Ogre. That's who sold me my copy of Nightmare Maze.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Newsflash: Guardians of Order still not dead

I'll spare you all the gory details and just pass on the quickie version: some moron started a thread on RPGnet saying they heard from an anonymous source at WW that Guardians of Order was going belly up and reneging on their contract with GoO. The anonymous posters on the internet with an anonymous but "credible" source appears to be flat out wrong. Who'd a thunk it?

To repeat: Reports of the demise of Guardians of Order are greatly exagerrated.

Also: Anything you've heard about a 4th edition of D&D is completely wrong.

Get quizzy!


You scored as Serenity (from Firefly). You like to live your own way and do not enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you that you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? The Sequel

SG-1 (from Stargate)

75%

Serenity (from Firefly)

75%

Moya (from Farscape)

63%

Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)

56%

Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)

56%

Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)

50%

Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)

44%

Enterprise D (from Star Trek)

31%

Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? v1.0
created with QuizFarm.com

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nonsensical Quote of the Weekend

Money always wins out over Scotland.

--Mighty Moe in the new episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

Making some progress

I actually got some work done on my con events this weekend. I finished the rough draft of the charsheets for the Risus supers event. (If you've got charsheets, you've got a game. -- my motto for cons) The ruins above my D&D dungeon are fleshed out nicely now and the first dungeon level is partially mapped and stocked. With only two weeks to go my events are finally taking shape. Yay for that.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Descent into the Neitherworld

Stuart, one of the fellows in my D&D campaign, has started a nifty new blog called Neitherworld Stories. Stuart's a smart guy and a lot of fun to game with, so I really look forward to seeing what sort of things he puts in his little corner of the blogosphere.* Another imteresting thing is that he's the one guy I know locally who fluently speaks both the crude patois of the dungeonhacker and the obscure dialects of the White Wolfians. Some day I'm going to pin him down and make him explain in small words how the Storyteller dice pool system works.



*Yes, I did just write about a sphere having a corner.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

DIY arcade games

Domesticated Arcades is a website devoted to one do-it-yourselfer's penchant for making his own arcade game and custom PC cabinets. Check out the Completed Projects page for all the good stuff.

Incidentally, I found this page while googling 'Penny Arcade' for no particular reason, just to see what else (besides the excellent webcomic) could be found under that name. Domesticated Arcade's version of the Penny Arcade is a tabletop cabinet that uses a Namco TV gamestick and a television to keep overall costs down.

Not-Safe-For-Work Bonus Link: Here's the first item that comes up when you do an image search for Penny Arcade with Moderate SafeSearch on.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cultures: D&D campaign tool idea

The most basic decisions in creating a D&D character are the selection of race and class. To these parameters I would propose adding a third dimension, culture. The purpose of the cultural parameter is to sort through a large array of chargen options to create patterns in the campaign world. Examples:

Culture one (bog standard fantasy)
races: human, half-elf, hill dwarf, high elf, halfing, gnome
classes: fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue
prestige classes: arcane archer, eldritch knight

Culture two (the vaguely Norman guys invading the island home of culture one)
races: human, half-elf, grey elf, mountain dwarf, gnome, half-orc, orc
classes: warmain, paladin, cloistered cleric, magister, unfettered, mageblade
prestige classes: assassin, tactical soldier, archmage
weapons: bastard sword

Culture three (Celtic? Norse? Whatever.)
races: human, half-elf, wood elf, deep dwarf, troll
classes: barbarian, ranger, spirit shaman, scout

Culture four (Orientalist adventures, ahoy!)
races: human, mountain dwarf, wood elf, goblin, hobgoblin
classes: samurai, shujenka, sohei, wu jen, ninja, monk
prestige classes: contemplative, ronin, dragon samurai, kensai, ghost-faced killa

Members of each culture would speak a cultural tongue in addition to Common. Characters would only have access to classes, prestige classes, feats, etc. from their own culture. To add something from another culture I envision some kind of mechanic hurdle has to be jumped. Maybe a feat 'Worldly', with a pre-req of speaking one or two other cultural languages.

I would also make some classes non-culture specific. I'm thinking here about the NPC classes, the Generic classes from Unearthed Arcana, and maybe self-taught classes like Sorcerer. World-spanning organizations might have prestige classes outside the culture system as well.

An additional benefit is that a clever DM can filter out particularly annoying class/race/whatever combos. Hate spiked chain fighters? Put spiked chain in one culture and the fighter class in another. Make the players work to achieve the most tasty cheese.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Is anybody doing this?

One of things I like about the Feng Shui rulebook are the schtick trees. As I recall Exalted does something similar as well. I'm not talking about the game mechanic (though I like those, too) but rather how they are presented graphically.

Schtick/Charm 1-->Schtick/Charm 2-->Schtick/Charm 3-->Schtick/Charm 4

When a certain Schtick or Charm can lead down two different paths that is represented by a branching tree graphic, which I will not reproduce here because it's a hassle.

I would really like to see some visual aids like this for D&D feats. Somebody really ought to have a website that has these trees all mapped out, with each feat on the tree linked to a page with the SRD entry. Does anyone know of such a site? If not, maybe I should do it myself.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The title of my last blog entry

inspired me to hunt down a source for Wesley Willis lyrics.

We all know that good ol' Double Double U had whupped up on Batman and Superman, so I'm always shocked when I read about Birdman kicking his ass.

Birdman caught me on his property
He saw me trespassing his real estate
He reached into his pocket for a pistol
He came after me and pistol-whipped my behind

Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass

Birdman beat me to a pulp
He gave me a yell-down war hell ride
He told me that he was going to kill me if I don't get off his real estate
He gave five minutes to get in my Bronco and hit the rookie road

Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass

At 10:00 PM, I drove my Bronco back to Birdman's real estate
I jumped over his fence after dark
I picked up a brick and shattered Birdman's window pane
Birdman sighted me doing it and reached for his pistol
Suddenly, I jumped back in my Bronco and took off like O. J. Simpson

Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass
Birdman kicked my ass

Superman was drunk at the time, as I recall. What's Batman's excuse?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I kicked Darth Maul's ass

Pat picked me up the Star Wars Lightsaber Battle Game. Finally, the technology developed for stupid TV plug-in baseball batting games has been put to a good and wholesome use!


I'm quite impressed with this toy so far. You can block and even reflect incoming blaster bolts. You can chop the heads off of stupid battle droids. According to the box the big boss of the game is Darth Vader hisself. And I really got that frantic action feeling from the duel with Maul. You can't ask for more than that.

Quote of the Day

Lets face it, there is nothing a 35 dollar mega campaign book can do for you on a Saturday night, that you couldn’t get from a copy of “Vault of the Drow” and a decent DM.


-The Evil DM, while waxing nostalgic about 2nd edition AD&D

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

MetaCon

I've mentioned once or twice before that the University of Illinois has a new student gaming group, the MetaGamers. Looks like they've reached the point where they are organizing their own conventions. The afternoon/evening of January 21st will be MetaCon Spring 2006. And the venue will be none other than the U of I Foreign Language Building, the place where the Conflict Simulation Society used to hold Winter War! The available details on MetaCon seem awfully sketchy for a con running in only 10 days, but they may be doing most of their organizing at the weekly club meetings. I wonder if I'm the only one who misses the regular meetings of the CSS? Nowadays the Society only exists to put on Winter War. Anyway, it looks like MetaCon will be one of those cons where you won't know too much about it unless you go there on the day of the event.

While trying to sniff out more info on MetaCon I discovered that I'm not the only one in town running a D&D game using the Gestalt rules from Unearthed Arcana.

I can hardly believe it

Someone actually made Garfield funny!

(Linky courtesy Dorkland.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Truth in Advertising

As far as I can tell, RPGPundit's blog really is the most popular (Uruguayan) gaming blog on Earth. I don't always agree with what the Pundit says and he's more strident in tone than I usually like, but he's got the most interesting gameblog I've yet to encounter. He's worth a read whether you love or hate his ongoing war with the "swine" in the roleplaying hobby.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

NeoTerran Republic - first sighting


They're nowhere near finished but you can see the the outlines of my battleship and heavy cruiser. Even with only getting a few minutes here and there to work on this project I'm surprised at how far I've managed to progress in just a few days.

The 24-Hour Traveller Project

The 'referee' section of the original Traveller set advises that a good way to start a campaign is to generate and detail a single subsector of space suitable for adventure. This methodology has become much less common since the rise of the official 3rd Imperium/Charted Space setting. Most folks just plop the PCs down into the Spinward Marches or some other official sector and cut loose.

Traveller enthusiast Ken Pick refers to the pre-3rd Imperium phase as the Burgess Shale Period of Traveller. I find Mr. Pick's retelling of the linked Shavian Empire/Foible Federation campaigns to be very compelling. You can read about them here. Elsewhere on Freelance Traveller Mr. Pick makes a case for returning to the one or two subsector model. He explores the idea of setting aside the multi-sector Imperium and High Guard's million-ton ships to instead tackle "One subsector (maybe two), TL 11 (with TL12 being gee-whiz cutting edge), exclusively using Book 2-designed starships. A "cozy" campaign universe -- with 15+ years of hindsight, probably what Original Traveller did best."

Well now somebody has taken up this challenge, and with real style. RPGnetter Methuslah recently announced his 24-Hour Traveller Campaign, whereby he develops a single subsector for use a complete Trav setting in the space of 24 hours. His starting material was "Exonidas Spaceport", a nifty little Traveller article published in Dragon #52. Around this focus he built a subsector-sized campaign during the last day of 2005. You can download a PDF of Methuslah's setting, called The Sky Aflame, by clicking here. He did a bang-up job on the presentation and crams a helluva lot of material into a 9-page write-up.

Looking at this setting it immediately struck me that it's pretty much the same size as the Frontier, the setting for TSR's Star Frontiers game. That's not a coincidence. There's other evidence that at least one member of the committee that designed Star Frontiers was cribbing from Trav. Why not borrow from the best, especially when creating a rival product? It's kinda funny how for years, decades now, people have been complaining that the Frontier was too small, too cramped. Yet here's a perfectly useable setting scaled on the exact same order of magnitude.

I think the big difference is that The Sky Aflame has real meaty conflict written into the setting, while the Frontier as presented in the boxed set is blander, with only the Sathar bogeyman and the corporate wars to give it any flavor. They did a lot more to spice up the Frontier in Zebulon's Guide, but that tends to get buried under overreaction to the new rules. (I'm just as guilty of this overreaction as anyone. I can barely read the Guide because the new rules annoy me so.) So it's not the size of your sci-fi campaign that really matters, it's what you do with it. Still, I can't help but think that I might prefer a campaign setting 2 subsectors in size (like the Island Clusters of Trillion Credit Squadron), or a quadrant (2 x 2 subsectors). But it's nice to know that a single subsector is quite sufficient for Traveller shenanigans.

Winter War update

The Winter War pre-registration book has been updated. You can get the new version here. Several familiar names have been added, such as Paul Pomykala and Jim Ferguson. Also, there's now a spaceholder for the RPGA events. For more info on those events the program directs you to go here. I'm considering getting in on some Living Greyhawk intros. I want to start a new character and my sister might be interested in doing so as well. Anybody else up for this?

Still no sign that Dave or Dennis will be running anything. I sure hope they plan on GMing. They're the backbone of the RPG section.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I have seen Valhalla

So now that the place has been thoroughly vetted by Dave and Pat I finally managed to scope out Valhalla Comics & Games for myself. It's still a little rough, as they're working on arranging the store and remodeling the space and whatnot. But so far I'm impressed. The miniatures lines are diverse: 40K, WarMachine, the Hasbro/Wizards stuff, some WWII goodies, clickies, etc. The boardgames selection is limited but nifty. The roleplaying stuff covers D&D and White Wolf of course, but also things like most of the new Paranoia line. And they just got in the new Cyberpunk. (BTW, my notions of gaming art were not offended by the action figure based graphics. I thought the effect was neat-o and went well with the layout and choice of green highlights.) The Valhalla staff was friendly. Heck, they gave me a tour of the facility, making sure to point me to the gaming areas. Notice the plural. Gaming areas. There's an RPG room, a board/card room, and a minis room.

Let's talk about store loyalty for a moment. Nowadays I don't feel that I owe any obligation to anyone one store. I buy from online outfits, eBay, LeisureTime Pet & Hobby just as much as from my so-called Friendly Local Game Store, the Dragon's Table. Each one is a different tool in the box as far as I'm concerned. I think you ought to use the right tool for the right jorb. For obscure out-of-print stuff I end up online. For mainstream stuff that everybody carries I can just take my daughter to see the fishies at LeisureTime or incorporate a visit to Waldenbooks the next time the family hits the mall. For lunchtime browsing nobody's going to beat Dragon's Table as long as I work two blocks from the place. How does Valhalla fit into this scheme? My guess is that the secret will be the playing venue. I absolutely loathe the Dragon's Table back room, because it's too damn noisy for roleplaying and because it's overloaded with table space. The tables sardined-in such as they are may be great for Magic or clicky tournies, but for less competive, more leisurely gaming it's suffocating. The way that Valhalla is laid out seem much more conducive to some good gaming. For games where I want a neutral ground outside my gameroom, Valhalla may be the answer.

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani

Over a month now with no new Homestar Runner cartoon! Woe! I could tolerate an occasional week without a new Sbemail, as long as a fresh new toon was the result. But now the entire Decemberween season has come and gone with nary an update. Alas and alack! And I was really hoping for an old-timey black-and-white Decemberween this year, like That A Ghost but with more Santamen.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

First draft, Red fleet


Here's my first attempt at the templates for the hulls of my first sci-fi fleet. Red Fleet (hopefully I'll come up with a better name soon) has big blocky vessels. Kinda like Star Destroyers made of bricks. Each vessel has large lower section and a smaller upper section that sits at or near the rear of the vessel. Except for the battleship, which has 3 sections. The cruisers and BB are each about 2" long. I figured that was the absolute largest I could make my ships and still be manaeable on my 1" hexmap.

Round bridge sections are not shown because they won't be cut out of plastruct. For the battleship and cruisers I've got these little wooden plugs that can sit atop the highest/smallest layer of the ship. I'll use something similar but smaller for the escorts. The BB/CA bridge section could probably be cast first and added to the prototype vessels. That way I'll only need to scratchbuild one bridge section.

I don't have specific Starmada stats laid out yet, but in my mind these vessels are armed and deployed somewhat like pre-airpower fleets. No fighters, no drones and few missiles. Just big gun platforms sliding through space with an ominous humming.

Click for a bigger version

I don't have any info on the origin of this map, but I think it's pretty cool.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A&A Miniatures Update

I still haven't bought any figures yet (apart from a Starter set for Pat's birthday) but I'm still making some efforts to follow the development of the Axis & Allies collectible minis game. Sometime during the holiday season blur the Wizards released the first expansion, rather dully titled Set II. Here's a PDF giving the list of new units and other vital info. They've added a few Nationalist Chinese, Polish, and Romanian units to the game with Set II, as well as expanding the selections for the main Allied and Axis powers. I wish I could point you to a handy figure gallery but Wizards seems to be hiding the link from me.

The next release on the schedule comes in March. They're calling this one Contested Skies. What, Set III not good enough for you all of the sudden? Anyway, the press blurb says that "Contested Skies features fighter planes, antiaircraft guns, tank destroyers, motorcycles, forward observers and more."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Alan Smithee: Cinema Legend

Here's the Internet Movie Database search results for Alan Smithee. For those who aren't familiar with the delightful Mr. Smithee, here's the Wikipedia article on him and his illustrious career.