Wednesday, May 12, 2021

love, dedication, or ridiculous gamer machismo?

I don't usually read the GeekLists on boardgamegeek.com but this morning I stumbled across a nice one that is basically a collection of personal reminisces:

Longest Gaming Sessions Ever

Most gamers of a certain age (old enough to get started before the internet took over our lives) have at least one marathon session story. Especially if you got started as a teenager. Do the kids still get together for allnighter game sessions?

My marathon story involves running the entirety of T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil over the course of a Friday after school, all night Friday, all day Saturday, most of Saturday night (we all fell asleep at some point in the wee hours of Sunday morning) and then the party finally killing Zuggtmoy after lunch on Sunday. Then we all went to high school the next day. 

Man, youth is wasted on the young. Nowadays I can't play any game for more than three hours or so without kinda wanting to take a little nap.

Iuz got away, btw.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

this one goes out to Dick McGee


Here's my attempt to make a Vektrean ship of some sort.

 

So I made a spaceship

So yesterday morning I stumbled across tinkercad.com, a simplified 3-D modeling tool that is completely browser-based. I signed up for a free account, did a few tutorials, and within less than two hours had made a 1/3000 scale spaceship.


Admittedly, it's not super-detailed, but I achieved the basic shape I was looking for. And the simple lines compare fairly well to the earliest Star Fleet Battles figures, which was what I had in mind as I did this.

With a couple clicks I could export my work as a .STL file. The next obvious step was to go over the shapeways.com to see how easy it would be to get a plastic version printed up. It only took a few minutes to make an account and upload the files.



The based version would cost nearly twice the unbased one. So this is why most Shapeways Marketplace stores sell spaceships unbased (that and a lot of people are fussy about the bases they use). Admittedly, I could bring the price down with further tinkering. My base is 5mm thick, which is way more plastic than is needed. The peg could probably be slimmed down as well.

If I could do this with a couple of hours, no prior 3-D modeling experience, and no real talent for visual arts, then there must be a ton of people out there who could do more impressive work with this tinkercad tool.
 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

a solo sandbox for Tunnels & Trolls

So I decided to put this together after being inspired by Tony Bath's Setting Up a Wargames Campaign. First I built a matchbox map, using 72 matchboxes and a hot glue gun.


Top-down view. You can get empty plain white matchboxes at craft supply prices, but buying boxed matches in bulk is actually cheaper if you look around a bit. True story: I was looking into this at the end of November, but I got distracted by something shiny just as I found the right thing on Amazon. I meant to add the matchboxes to my cart and come back to buy them later that day, but I put them on my wishlist instead. I dunno how I did that, but it was the end of the semester and I wasn't exactly thinking straight. I then promptly forgot about the whole thing until my sister bought them for me for Christmas. My suspicion is that she likes to order the dumbest thing on my wishlist. Which is fine by me. I have dumb tastes. 

Anyway, the idea is that each matchbox represents an area on the map. When my PC moves into a space, you slide open the draw (pushing from behind is the easiest way to do this). Inside is a chit I made by printing the numbers 1-72 and gluing them to a panel from a Cheerios box.

The chits are mostly randomly shuffled, but I seeded the coastal locations to the easternmost two columns and one "up north" location to the top two rows.

So location 0205 leads to adventure #58. What does that mean? To find out, you look in this little booklet I made.

Major Digression: I decided to lean into the fact that I hate the bloodbats that have killed numerous of my T&T pcs. The cover illo is actually a tarrahook bat by Aaron Arocho and Jennell Jaquays. It appears in the Dungeoneer Compedium, one of the best things published in the early days of D&D. This creature flies up to you and stabs you in the gut with a big hook-stinger on its tail. When I was killed by vampire bats, I tossed out my theory that bloodbats was just the T&T name for those critters. Tarrahook bats popped into my head unbidden. Anyhoo, here's the original tarrahook bat illo:

Terrifying as heck, but only the second creepiest monster in the Dungeoneer Compedium.

So the numbered entries in this booklet come in three broad categories. About one in six of them lead directly to a Tunnels & Trolls solo adventure. Like so:

You have found the entrance to the Dungeon of Umslopagaas of the Shiny Teeth, otherwise known as the Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon! Anyone with less than 5 levels and 70 combat adds may enter this dungeon.

A bunch of the rest are terrain:

You are travelling through a hilly region. You have a 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter from the table at 75.

All the random encounter tables have bloodbats on them. I don't know why I am doing this to myself. Some of the terrain have special rules. You can get lost in the woods and you must make a Strength roll to climb a mountain or else turn back.

I also wrote a handful of special areas to be discovered, like this:

You have found the Riddling Tree. Will you undertake its challenge? If you can succeed at a level 3 Intelligence saving throw it gives you a reward:

1-2 Random jewel

3-4 Random magic item (See T&T Bonus Pack #1)

5-6 Add +1d6 to a random ability score

If you fail, determine your penalty:

1-2 Teleported into a random Deathtrap Equalizer challenge. If you survive, you return to a random overland map location.

2-3  Lose 1d6 from a random ability score

4-6 You are turned into a nasty little gremlin rogue (undo kin bonuses and apply those of a gremlin, class benefits change as well).

You may only challenge the Riddling Tree once.


So the basic idea is to drop a PC onto either the edge of the map or a randomly generated location and discover what can be found in Bloodbat Country. I made a players map by drawing a 6 x 12 grid onto a sheet of Blackblade extra large hex paper. That way, with a little artistic license, I can make a hexmap out of my findings.

Finally, here's what 72 boxes of matches look like. I only smoke my pipe once in a great while (twice so far this year), so this ought to last me a while.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

this post took an unexpected turn

So the shapeways store called National Cheese Emporium sells a dice tower that is the large wooden rabbit from Monty Python:

I am enchanted by this idea, but I can't tell from the product write-up how many surfaces the dice careen off of on the way down, nor is it obvious where the dice come out. 

Oh, god. It's the rabbit's butthole, isn't it?

Monday, May 03, 2021

in which I show the same illo 16 times

For no clear reason I got it in my head that I wanted to see what the USS Enterprise looked like with its hull painted the colors used by other factions in the Star Fleet Battles series of games. I guess this is what happens when I'm left alone with photoshop and a search engine.

So according to the nice folks at Amarillo Design Bureau (the SFB people), Federation ships are all plain white. Except that at least one official painting guide (for the Federation carrier, maybe?) says that the hull color should be "off white." I'm not sure why one class of ships would be a different color than the rest of the fleet. A whole fleet of off-white Fed ships could look cool, and would make it easy to identify your figures at a distance at a con or something. For the ship on the right I chose the off white hue that wikipedia calls vanilla. That seems appropriate for the do-gooders of Starfleet. I like the results, but they're pretty close to the Lyran colors down at the bottom of the post. 


Klingons in SFB rock either blue-grey or green-grey, so something like these, maybe? That blue looks little insufficiently grey though. But here's the thing: as far as I know there isn't an official Star Fleet Battles paint line like you can get for Warhammer. You've got a painting guide and your own best efforts to mix and/or match the relevant hues. I've seen a fair number of SFB Klingons painted much closer to green than grey, for instance.
Romulan vessels are officially light grey in hue. Pretty boring. Maybe that's why they paint scary birds on their hulls.
The Kzinti of Larry Niven fame show up in Star Fleet Battles owing to their one appearance in the Star Trek: The Animated Series. (Niven took his short story "The Soft Weapon" and turned it into a TAS script by slotting in Spock, Uhuru, and Sulu for his original protagonists.) Kzinti vessels are brick red or dark red, which I love. The bulkier ships look a teensy bit like the Red Dwarf as a result. And I love the sheer ugliness of their ship designs. According to FASA Trek lore, one Federation vessel is actually painted red, the Larson-class USS Richtofen.
According to the official painting guides, Gorn vessels are supposed to be some sort of grey to dark grey. But all the painted figures I've ever seen in person were flat black in color. The SFB Gorn ships and the FASA-Trek Gorn are wildly different designs. I've always thought it would be cool to have a fleet that incorporated both aesthetics. 
Tholian vessels are copper-colored.

The Hydrans are one of the most alien of alien species in SFB. They evolved on floating continents on a gas giant, breathe methane, have three biological sexes, and their ships come in a variety of nifty shapes. Their main hull color is dark blue-gray. The color I used here is also the official blue hue of UCLA. 
The Andromedans paint their ships green. I've usualy seen darker shades than this used, but the painting guide just says green, IIRC.
The Interstellar Concordium is a multi-racial alliance that tries to bring about galactic peace by blowing up everyone else's spaceships. They paint their ships medium or light blue. 

The Lyrans are cat people like the Kzinti. They paint their ships sandy beige colors. A lot of people seem to add tiger stripes, leopard spots, or blotchy camo patters over that basic color.