HARDWIRED

A little side project I’m working on. A cooperative game where players are jacked up Agents sent on corporate black ops.

Guess who played way too much Syndicate back in the day…

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An All-Nighter

 

Someone tipped off Han Chou Telemetrics.

 

04:17 in the Shunyi District, HCT Corporate Zone, you and your crew slipped out the back door of their secure server facility ninety seconds ahead of schedule. That minute and a half saved your life; you caught their Rapid Response Team by surprise. They came at you fast and heavy. You came back faster and heavier. When it was over, they were down but your driver was dead and the get-away was totaled. So the four of you took off running.

 

Han Chou management won’t call the police – which is good. They’d have to admit to the breach and that would translate into a huge hit to their reputation, as well as their stock values. So they’re handling this in-house – which is bad. That means every HCT Security Specialist and Rent-a-Cop in New Kowloon is gunning for you.

 

You pulled an all-nighter on this one and there’s a trail of bodies, blood, and bullet casings in the dark alleys of Shunyi to prove it.  Less than an hour of night left, you’re still on foot and low on ammo, but you’re nearly home. Asian-Pacific holo-ads glow in the sky over the buildings just ahead.

 

Your uplink squirted ‘Package Retrieved’ the second you stepped outside the HCT building, so you know your company will back you when you reach the Neutral Zone. With the UN-enforced ceasefire, Han Chou won’t risk an open confrontation. They’ll have to eat the loss. The nearest checkpoint is just seven blocks away, next to the Yintai Shopping Center.

 

All you have to do is get there.

ZONA ALFA Crew

Other Pat is currently running a one-of DnD dungeon crawl for our weekly game night, so the next couple weeks won’t feature many table top photo ops. In the meantime, I managed to get some color on the first of the ZONA ALFA demo figs.

A Military crew with a Guide, a Medic, and a Technician, this is a solid, general purpose team. Lead Adventure figs on 32mm mdf bases.

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Some individual pictures.

 

Settling into the new game room but the LED lighting and the small basement windows make it difficult to get decent photos. Anyone have small, portable lighting ideas?

Have an excellent day.

Za Zdaróvye, STALKER!

Pix from last night’s game in the new war room.

A NEW WAR ROOM

Moving the hobby game room down into the basement took a while, what with preliminary clean up and then physical transfer of well, everything. But it is more or less complete. I’m pressed for time today but here are photos of last night’s Zona Alfa game in the new digs.

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4′ x 8 table with new 4′ x 6′ game mat. Props to Pat for help with the table.
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Long angle of ruined city on new PWork mat.
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Another angle. Thanks to Matt for the overhead LEDs
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Salvage at a Hot Spot
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A pair Stalkers facing down feral dogs
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Rats lurk in the dump near the Cell Tower.

Here’s the adjacent Painting and Storage Room

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New painting desk is already crowded
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Some terrain shelves
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Miniatures. With more in figure cases, and of course a bunch yet-to-be-painted in boxes under the table.

That’s it for now. Gotta hunker down as there’s ANOTHER storm coming. *sigh*

Have a great weekend.

New Terrain and ZP pictures

Coming off the holiday break, last night’s game session was more shooting the breeze than miniature foes. Everyone was more intent on hanging out and chatting than getting serious about a game. That said we did a quick brawl that let me put two new terrain pieces on the table: a ruined apartment building and a swamp. The building is an MDF kit, the swamp pieces scratch- built with wood bases, foam core, water effects, flock and Woodland Scenics tall grass.

We used Zona Perestrelki – our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules – for quick combat.

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The battle ground: a refueling station eleven kilometers inside the north perimeter of the Zone.
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The swamp
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“Look behind you!”
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Stalkers and scientist make it to the fence.
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ZERTs (Zone Enforcement and Recovery Team) facing down a pack of feral dogs.
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Bandits scrounging for petrol
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ZERTs at an old supply truck. Something valuable inside, perhaps?

There’s more ZP in the pipeline, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll be doing old-school RPGs (both Interface Zero Cyberpunk and straight up DnD) and a short ASOBH campaign, “The Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.” I’m finishing the brushwork on the character figs this week and will post photos later.

In the meantime, corny as it sounds, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude when the guys walked in last night; it’s a great hobby with great people and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Have a good day.

And if you’re in a STALKER mood, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available for your reading pleasure. Spasibo!

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Games that stick.

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I’ve been thinking about games that have durability, replay-ability, longevity.

As anyone familiar with hobbyists and the hobby industry knows, “Shiny” comes and goes. Indeed the hobby industry is built on ‘shiny’ and every gamer worth his salt has a lead/plastic pile that bears mute witness to the fickle siren song of new figs, a new range of figs, a different scale, genre, time period… Let’s all admit that most of the war games on Kickstarter are miniatures-driven – not rules driven. Coming to my ‘end-of-year’ game room clean up this week, I’m definitely guilty as charged.

But between tidying the game room and some recent attention to my home-brew rules, I’ve been thinking about the war games that last after the shine fades and asking ‘What games do I/other gamers return to and keep playing year after year? And why?’

I know the answers are different and flavored by individual experience and preference. Some people started playing DnD decades ago when they were Stranger Things kids and have stuck with it through all its editions. Others move on to Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020 because they scratch that Neon and Mirrorshade itch and there’s no need to look elsewhere. (Ain’t that right omae?)  Some sink their teeth into 40K early on and cling to it like a Pitbull all their days. ( I think that’s what GW wants) When I posed this question on TMP, nearly 50 historical gamers listed rules like DBA, HoTT, Johnny Reb, Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, and so on.

For a SF/F gamer like me: in no particular order and off the top of my head, I’ve played VOR, Void, Celtos, Chronopia, Warzone, CAV, Stargrunt 2, and Full Thrust. I did a stint with THW’s Bugs, 5150, and After the Horsemen. I’ve tried 40K, Necromunda, Inquisitor, and Space Hulk. Then there’s Warmachine and  Hordes, Iron Ivan’s Disposable Heroes and Ambush Alley games. (I know I’m forgetting some.) Now add Board Games, RPGs, Quick Start versions and Indie rules like One Page X, and the locust swarm of games I’ve read but never played/played once, and the trail of game rules behind me looks like a the footprints of an epic quest or an addict’s detritus. (a bit of both, I suspect)

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As far as I can discern, a game’s ‘longevity’ factor has multiple ingredients ranging from brand loyalty, local availability of players, and personal experience/associations, to the quality of related miniatures. But there are also underlying currents of simplicity and versatility. Those seem to be crucial.

Across the board, the common denominator in rule sets that seem to stick is that they are a reliable, straightforward framework to hang the action/story on. Sure, there may be particular flavoring and a degree of crunch/gritty detail, but the appeal seems to be that a player can plug in their force and play the game, not the rules. Combat, Movement, Morale, Special Abilities and Genre Specifics are resolved in the background while the battle, the story, is allowed to come front and center. IMO, the primary reason DnD and RPGs remain so popular is they provide mechanisms for players to participate in a common adventure, in a story.

The challenge is to translate that robust, functional dynamic to a war game, into a mock battle. The hitch is that most miniature war games seem to have been built on the back of RPGs and the detail level that’s so enjoyable and necessary for a player character in a dungeon crawl doesn’t scale up to platoon, regiment, and brigade level. Defeating Nash-Zaroth the Liche King requires the same kind of ‘combined arms’ flexibility as taking Istvaan IV in the Andromeda system, but the fine detail needs to be abstracted and smoothed out. Otherwise, the flow of the game/battle grinds to a chart consulting, modifier algorithm factoring, special rule quoting halt. CLUNK – players are disengaged, thrown out of the story, and there goes the fun. And I contend FUN is the real reason we’re still playing with toy soldiers and making up cool stories.

So as I approach Game Room Cleaning Day, not only am I going to take a hard look at the clutter, (expect a new batch of items For Sale) but in refining Zona Perestrelkimy STALKER-flavored, home brew skirmish rules –  I want bake in the brooding, dangerous, specifics of the Exclusion Zone but always remain mindful of honing the mechanisms to support the story, the mission, the game play, not bog it down.

It’ll take time, some sweat, and not a little bit of play- testing, but whether or not ZP gets picked up, that’s going to be a goal for 2018.

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Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.

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PS: the short story A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available at Amazon if you feel like getting in the mood. Enjoy.

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Missing Persons – Part 1

New Kowloon. 2069

Shenghua Street, District 5. LNK

The members of Blue Rose Import/Export were enjoying a meal in the back room of The Osaka Shuffle when a smartly dressed woman approached them. She apologized for interrupting, sat down and explained with great hesitation she needed their help to locate her missing daughter.

“It’s been a week, no one’s heard from her. None of her friends. Not her Boss or her apartment manager. The police let me file a Missing Persons report but they won’t do anything because she’s an adult. They say she probably ran off with some new boyfriend and will turn up later. But that’s not like her. She wasn’t dating anyone and she doesn’t just leave like that. I just know something’s wrong. Will you help me? I can pay you.”

A 1,500 Yuan advance is a great incentive. Add expenses plus another 1,500 when they find her.

So yeah, you took the job.

***

The evening unfolded as the team split up – one half to her place of employment, the other to the club she frequented. (Gentleman Loser) Leads in both locations point to her apartment building in District 6. It seemed like straightforward easy money job, a “Where’s Waldo” or in this case “Where’s Sun Dai Yu?”

Until they picked up a tail.

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C33r magnifies a frame grab from local street cam footage. Some guy and his pet drone are shadowing them.

 

I won’t bore you with details, but the evening’s session ended in a messy, back alley brawl as the tail turned out to be a private investigator contracted by the Asian-Pacific military to track down AWOL combat simulacra. He flashed his credentials and a general purpose warrant that would allow him to run ID tests on Derek’s character, C33r. (that’s ‘Seer” to you)

The members of Blue Rose were disinclined to acquiesce to his request.

Part 1 ended with C33r shooting one very nosy drone out of the air and Other Pat’s character, Marlow, using his shot-fist on the investigator’s head. Shot-Fist: 1 Head: 0

The team left District 6 in a hurry with Dai Yu’s laptop. (stolen from her apartment, btw)

More next week.

 

Terrain for Interface Zero 2.0

In preparation for our upcoming cyberpunk RPG games, (both Pathfinder and Savage Worlds iterations) the tabletop miniature gamer in me demanded suitable 3D terrain.  Can’t have chrome and mirrorshade minis blasting away on mere gridded map tiles, can we?

So I went for a low cost, minimal labor 2 x 3 playing area using WorldWorks ‘Streets of Titan’ tiles and Plast Craft buildings. Added some posters, some scatter terrain, and it’s starting to take shape. There’s another pile of inexpensive Mantic plastic scenics in the queue, and I’d love to pick up at least two suitable vehicles, but it’s pretty much done. Let me know your thoughts.

Couple things I learned:

  • Paper terrain hint: get matt sticker paper (full sheet) for your printer.  Probably obvious to you all, (bit slow, I am) but it made the whole process far easier and cleaner.
  • Plast Craft Pre-colored Buildings  are pretty cool. Got mine at Miniature Market. Price is good, pre-cut, printed colors and details are crisp. Easy assembly with super glue, add some posters and scenics to taste, and you’re good to go.  Highly recommend.

Here are some pictures:

 

That’s all for now. Have a good week.

EDIT: 

CYBERPUNK POSTERS AS DOCX

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