'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Black Coast: Mitra's Justice

As the Conan RPG rules become solidified for Modiphius I look toward the start of a campaign. I have always enjoyed the tales of the Black Coast and the Black Kingdoms and have decided to start my players in those humid and mysterious realms.

First we need to get them there. I have taken a look at a few videos on this matter, and really need to blame Black Magic Craft for his ship, it made me want one.

As I have worked on this things have changed here and there. I had no real plans going forward with this.

For sailing the rough oceans and trade routes of Argos I decided I wanted something a little bit more substantial, and so I give you a build for the mighty ship, "Mitra's Justice".

This ship will probably be a stand in for a lot of ships of size for the campaign, and I do plan on building a smaller one as well, more like what BMC created to work as a pirate vessel.

In the end I suspect I would do some things different, especially when it comes to the wood planking, but overall it is a very cool piece to have used in the campaign and once I get another ship complete it will allow for some extra cool miniature based scenarios.

I hope you all enjoy the build!

This is 1/2" blue Styrofoam.  It measures about 19" long and 5.5" wide.  The figure is a Reaper Bones Miniature.  This will form the basis for the ship.

Next I cut out the quarter deck and the forecastle deck.  The quarterdeck is doubled to give it a little more height.

Next, working with foam core, I began work on the sides by first measuring 1/2 the total hull length with a long sheet of paper and then transferring it, as well as the deck measurements. 

Once these measurements were transferred I cut them out to create the two sides of the hull.

Peeling the paper from the outer side of the foamcore first I then used a sharp knife to score the foam core so it would flex around the blue foam.

This was done at the front and back of the ship.

Next, using white glue I started gluing the main ship decks together.

Once the decks were together, I glued the hulls to the deck using more white glue with pins to hold everything in place.
I decided to change the boat up and add some fortifications to it.

Adding the back structure for the fortifications.

Foam core cut to make the base of the walls.

Everything dry fit.

Items are glued with white glue.

Cut cardstock into 1cm wide strips and hot glued to the hull.

Ship planking coming along.

Cutting boards for the fortifications and adding texture.

Ship wall planks ready to go.

Ship with most of it's external texture pieces.


Adding railings with gaps for gang planks.  Melted holes into the foam and hot glued the dowels into place.
Railing complete with a figure for scale.
Adding a back keel using foam core, test fitting foam core size.
Adding some basic texture to the back keel.
I decided to add an extension to the back to create the illusion of a larger cabin.  Have I mentioned I had no real plan?
Back view of the ship.
Foam extension glued onto the hull and keel.  This will also give us the advantage of having a stronger keel.
Adding wood planks around the cabin extension.  I will probably add some windows around the cabin as well.
I was unsure how I wanted to texture the decking.  I decided on individual planks.  Main deck
Forward deck planked.
Working on the rear deck.
Rear deck finished, now to work on the remaining exposed foam.
Back deck more or less completed.  Will still need a ships wheel.
Closing up the front.  Used regular and skinny popsicle sticks to add a stepping system to allow everything to match.
Cutting matching grooves into the deck hatch so it can still attach.
Main deck hatch glued into place.
Remaining parts of the ship covered in wood.  Temporary door placed for photo.
Cut and texture two identical popsicle sticks long enough to reach from the main deck to the top of the quarter deck.  Also cut out 5 or so bamboo skewers approximately wide enough to allow a miniature to climb the ladder.  Evenly mark spots you want to glue the rungs.
Glue the rungs in place with hot glue.
Add a dab of hot glue to the tops of the rungs and attach second stick, make sure the bottoms are even so the ladder will stand.
Attach, or don't, the ladder to the main deck and quarter deck of the ship.
 
Beginning to paint it all with a black base coat.
Was still missing something.  Quick look at some reference photos and I added this front piece to finish the look.  Foam and carved wooden dowel.
Finished the black base coat.
Adding a dark brown over the base coat.
Wooden planking of the ship.
Dry brushed with a lighter brown and adding nail details with a sharpie.
Mast.  Washers encased in a craft stick box glued to a carved dowel.  Cotton string added to the base of the mast.
Ship all together in a mock scenario. Pirate miniatures from Monolith's CONAN board game.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Conan 2d20: Thoughts on Zone Representation with Miniatures.

For those of you not familiar with the Conan 2d20 system, it uses an abstract concept of location. It uses no grids but instead action takes place within a zone of indeterminate size. A free action will allow a character or creature to move within a zone, ie move to a place where they can strike an opponent. A Minor action will allow movement to an adjacent zone and a standard action to sprint two zones.

If you have played the board game by Monolith you will have an idea of zones. In the board game Monolith has drawn the zones on the board and denoted a central point that is used within that rule system. If you are using a hand drawn map or a battlemap you could also do this.

However if you are using miniatures and props not having a grid or even measuring movement you have a potential problem, you don't necessarily want to place a zone on a modular piece of scenery, as it might change. Zones are generally defined by a piece of terrain, like a fountain, a stack of boxes, middle of a bridge, etc. What happens if you have a large area that is generally featureless? Do we call that area one single zone? You certainly could, but perhaps, despite it being barren you want it to represent distance and you don't want your heroes merely skipping across it?

I am going to suggest zone markers for this. These are going to be like the central white dots I mentioned above, and are only needed in zones that don't have an easily definable area.

A simple cavern with a well. 
Three zones are easily defined. 1: The Entrance, 2: The Well and 3: The Exit.

The above example is easy and you will often have areas like this that are easy to define. Lets take a look at a barren plateau with an entrance and an exit with some space between the two.

An empty plateau with more than three zones? 
How do we define the extra 4 zones we want on this barren surface?

The simple answer is to make them less barren. I am going to suggest some small pieces of scatter terrain placed in the middle of each of these zones. Not only will it allow you to mark zones but it will make your area look more interesting.

Some suggestions of scatter terrain
  • Pile of rocks
  • Crates
  • Minor vegetation, grass, bush, etc
  • Bones
  • Crater or cracks
  • Small patch of differing flock, ie patch of dirt or grass.
  • etc.