'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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

15mm GRUNTZ AAR: RESD vs DROIDS

Last week we set out to spend the afternoon playing 15mm wargames.  Specifically we wanted to finally give Gruntz a try and see how it worked, following Gruntz we played the essentially same game with the Tomorrow's War rule set. 

We were both familiar with TW, although neither of us had played in awhile, and although I didn't choose to chronicle that game, I did try and chronicle the Gruntz game so I could give an AAR on it.

If you are unfamiliar with Gruntz it is a 2d6 based system.  Basic ranged combat is based on the stats, SHOOT, GUARD, DAMAGE and SOAK.   Basically 2d6+SHOOT needs to beat GUARD to hit and 2d6+ DAMAGE needs to beat SOAK to damage.  Rotten Lead Games has a fairly comprehensive playlist on how the game works: Rotten Lead Gruntz Videos.

In general we liked Gruntz.  It was easy to play, resolved fast enough and was easy to pick up.  It has a built in points system that allows you to easily build comparable forces, although it is not without issues.  I stated up my power armor suits as "Specialists" for about 37 points.  After the game we decided for 37 points if they were stated as "Mechs" I could have had a far more useful unit for the same 37 points.

For those interested I did an AAR video for this battle for the companion YouTube channel. Colony Report

SCENARIO:
Kill 'Em All:  Head to head, elimination scenario.

FORCES:
RESD:
1 Commander
3 Death Guard power suits
3 squads with heavy plasma
1 Mongoose Missile Tank




Droids:
1 Commander
1 Droid Soldier Squad w/plasma
1 Droid Solider Squad w/missile
3 Droid Scout Drone Squad
1 Droid Hunter Killer
1 Hex Droid w/ plasma
1 Hex Droid w/ Gatling Laser

BATTLEFIELD:
Small Colony complex
Colony Complex
DEPLOYMENT:
Rolling for initiative the RESD (myself) gain the upper hand and elect to deploy second.
Final deployment of all troops prior to Turn 1.

TURN 1: (RESD wins initiative)
RESD
Forces advance further into position.

DROIDS
Forces advance further into position.
Droid and RESD move further into position.
TURN 2: (RESD wins initiative)
RESD
Units move up into the tree lines on both sides of the base in response to the droid advance.
Mongoose tank moves up to building corner to cover the main base road.

DROIDS
Move up along pond and fire at exposed troopers, scoring no hits on the unit.
Droid Hunter Killer flanks on the right and opens fire on the light Mongoose tank, range and the chaos of the battle field result in no hits being scored.
Further advance and reorganization of troops in cover positions.
HK flanking in on my right side.











Turn 3: (RESD wins initiative)
RESD
Tank swivels and looses a barrage of missiles at the Hunter Killer unit, missing.
On the left side, the power armored Death Guard open up with their plasma on the incoming droids and miss the small nimble hover drones.
Plasma Squad moves back and prepares to fire on HK unit as well.
Plasma Squad moves up taking cover against the southern building.

DROIDS
Hex Droid at long range opens up with a gatling laser against the tank, it’s lasers pinging harmlessly off the armor of the tank.
Second Hex Droid moves up unleashing the hell fire of plasma against the tank, it’s super heated charge melting into the tank, but causing only minor damage
Hunter Killer drops down increasing range between it and the RESD plasma squad and fires on the tank, missing again, but it’s massive burst catches the squad of plasma troopers within it’s hellfire, knocking a man to the ground.
Droid Soldiers move up into a position in and on the main colony building.
The Drones moving down on the middle, maneuver and fire into the squad of men hunkered beside the southern building, knocking a man to the ground.
Mid Turn as the Droids advance on the RESD.

Droids drop the first RESD trooper.













Turn 4: (DROIDS win initiative)
DROIDS
The Hunter Killer fires against the tank missing as well as missing with weapon's area blast.
Plasma armed Hex Droid opens up on the tank again, again breaching the armor, but causing no critical damage.
Gatling Hex Droid fires on a squad of RESD troopers knocking 2 men to the ground.
Drones come down the middle and scores no hits on the plasma squad.
Drones fire on the Death Guard taking cover in the forest, scoring no hits.
Second unit of Drone Scouts fire on the Death Guard scoring 1 hit, resulting in minor damage.
Droid Soldiers fire shoulder mounted rockets at DG causing 3 damage.
Droid Soldiers miss with their rifles.

RESD
Mongoose swivels and closes with the HK before unleashing a barrage of rockets against the HK, causing massive damage but failing to drop it.
The RESD Commander turns and fires an expertly placed shot with his plasma rifle scoring a hit and crashing the HK to the ground.
RESD Plasma squad on the left side fires and misses Drones.
Death Guard open fire, their plasma finding one drone.
RESD Troopers move up from building cover to try and close distance on Drone Scouts and Hex Droids.
RESD Plasma on right, moves left using the south eastern building as cover.
Thick of the battle as troops move, fire and try and hold their position.
Combined damage from the Mongoose and Commander destroy
the Hunter Killer.














Turn 5: (RESD wins initiative)
RESD
RESD Plasma squad on the left moves up scoring one hit on the left unit of Scout Drones.
Death Guard opens fire scoring 1 hit on a second unit of Scout Drones, destroying one and suppressing the unit.
RESD Plasma squad in the middles misses.
The Mongoose tank fires it's missiles against the Plasma Hex Droid missing it.
Commander moves up.
The Plasma Squad on the right continues it's advance

DROIDS
Commander removes suppression on drone unit.
Droid Soldiers move up and fire on the RESD Plasma Squad suppressing it with 2 hits.
Droid Soliders fire their heavy weapon against the Death Guard failing to penetrate it's armor and having no effect.
Scout Drones move and fire against RESD Plasma Squad causing 2 hits and suppressing the squad.
Drones fire on the Death Guard causing no hits.
Hex droids, both gatling and plasma fire on the Mongoose, but fail to hit and penetrate it's armor.
Down the middle of the Colony the Scout drones fire on the remaining RESD Plasma scoring 5 hits on the remaining squad, wiping it out.
Left side: Scouts and Soliders exchange fire with Death Guard and Plasma troops.
Tank firing on Hex while Troops
advance.
Droids wipe out middle RESD team and cause casualties on left RESD Team.
Turn 6: (DROIDS win initiative)
DROIDS
Scout drones coming down the middle fire on the RESD Commander, their shots impacting harmlessly against his armor.
Gatling Hex Droid, fire on full auto against the remaining RESD Plasma, knocking down 3 men, suppressing them.
The Plasma Hex Droid opens up with it's heavy plasma, striking the tank and causing it to finally explode into a shower of molten and twisted metal.
Remaining troops, Soldiers and Scouts, on the left open up against the Death Guard. They cause an additional wound, but the Guard holds strong, but it is only a matter of time.....

RESD
Commander moves and shoots, no damage.
Plasma Squad moves and shoots hoping for a lucky shot against one of the Hex droids, but fails.
The Death Guard, still a lethal force, fire their heavy plasma against the Soldiers dropping 3.
Mongoose is destroyed, middle RESD troopers down.
Death Guard holding, majority of RESD wiped out.  Colony is lost.
We called the game in favor of the DROIDS after the completion of the 6th turn. The only units I had left that were at all effective against the DROIDS were the Death Guard and they would start falling in the next round or so.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Journaling Foes in Encounters for Conan 2d20.

Currently I journal encounter ideas either through Google docs or though a physical notebook.  Both of these methods have their pros and cons, which I am not here to discuss, at least not in this post.

I do generally try and break up each page into a single encounter, and when trying to include creatures that can often be difficult beyond having a page reference or a bunch of pre-printed sheets.  Creatures and foes in Conan 2d20 have nearly as much information about them as players do.  We know all of their stats and we likewise know what they have for expertise and training.  Most of this can be handy, but for a basic combat encounter, most is extraneous.

In combat a creature can strike and be struck.  If they are toughened or greater they can react.  They can do mental attacks and might have a few special abilities.  Beyond that we need to know armor and damage.  I have moved to an older school method of recording these. 

For a "Degenerate Warrior", a toughened foe I record the following right on the journal page,

Degenerate Warrior(T) V10 R9 S1 C2 M11/2 Ra11/2 P11/2 T9/0 Mr12/3 315
Stone club (M) R2 6cd 2H Kd,S Opportunistic Cannibal (T) C 4cd Area,P1

V10 = Vigor 10
R9 = Resolve 9
S1 = Soak 1
C2 = Courage 2
M11/2 = Melee TN is 11, focus of 2
P11/2 = Parry TN is 11, focus of 2
Ra11/2 = Ranged TN is 11/2
T9/0 = Threaten TN is 9, focus of 0
Mr12/3 = Mental Resistance TN is 12, focus of 3
315 = Page number.
Stone club = Weapon name
(M) = Melee
R2 = Reach 2
6cd = Damage dice
2H = 2 Handed
Kd,S = Special abilities
Opportunistic Cannibal = Weapon Name
(T) = Threaten
C = Range
4cd = Damage dice
Area, P1 = Special abilities

You may want to include any special doom spends the foe might have. 

Most stats/expertise numbers can be derived fairly quickly if needed, ie M11/2 means Agility is 9, but it is good to make note of the page number as well for quick reference if needed.

YouTube Episode 30: Atlantean Tomb

New crafting video. 28mm mausoleum style building. Enjoy!