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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The Fall of House Navratola

Our gaming group is arranging mini-campaigns for our Fall game night schedule. John is currently hammering out the details on one, possibly two Dungeon Crawl RPG sessions. Derek is perusing the Pathfinder version of Interface Zero for some cyberpunk adventures, and Matt ordered the Blood Rage 5th player expansion so newcomer Anti-Patrick can join in the frenzy for glory as the worlds crumble and burn. (We all decided Blood Rage will be our go-to pick up game on those nights when no one has had time to prep.)

For my part, I’m currently writing up a three-game ASoBH campaign titled “Fall of House Navratola”, where a secret brotherhood of ‘Dusk Watchers’ – men and women sworn to hunt down the evil that preys on humankind – investigates arcane and bloody rumors in a remote province  of Trastaya.    

To that end, the Dusk Watcher party recently received some reinforcements. The Dusk Warden and Dusk Hunter are joined by a Dusk Medicae and a Dusk Quarreler. A Dusk Skean is in the queue.

 

While the Dusk Watchers are formidable, here are some of the ruinous powers that will oppose them:

 

Lastly, speaking of cyberpunk not only have I been leafing through the gorgeous Eclipse Phase rule book during lunch, I wanted to make sure I had suitable figs for whatever Derek cooked up. So here are a couple potentials I fished out of my c-punk storage case.

 

My workshop’s main table is filled with a commission for a large-ish memorial window at the moment, but outlining the third and final House Navratola game last night, I see a terrain project in my future. More on that as it happens.

Til then, have a great day.

 

New STALKER and Freedom troopers

More on the ZP/STALKER front: a new converted Eureka fig and some old Freedom troopers.

Took a bit more time with this latest STALKER, varying the paint scheme slightly, trying to capture the plastic orange look of those AK mags. I think he came out alright. I have plenty more in my STALKER-related bits box.

You can see him facing down some feral hounds on his own or with some comrades playing Hide-N-Seek with a group of Shufflers.

Next up are some Freedom troopers, converted from The Assault Group’s excellent Modern Russians range. Just add Pig Iron heads and you’re good. I did these a while back – before Lead Adventure put out their excellent Post-Apoc line. I made a set for Clear Sky and Duty. I’ll take pictures of them soon-ish. I think they get the job done. (This reminds me I could use a couple more TAG packs to create Monolith troops)

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Finishing my next novel will be the priority for the next month or so, which means Tuesday night Game Night is board games for a while. (Zombicide anyone?) But I picked up a copy of GW’s Gorechosen online for cheap and should be able to get in some painting time, if only to keep my sanity while I hammer out the final chapters of this draft.  Here’s hoping.

Thanks for looking. Have a great week.

Zona Perestrelki – Zone Firefights

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Fast-play war game rules for skirmishing, salvaging, and surviving in the Exclusion Zone.   

 

Sorry no Bat Reps this time. I’m slammed with real life obligations and our Tues night games have been solid but not very dramatic. This past session for example, 4 out of 5 Heroes could NOT roll to get off the starting line for the first half dozen turns. Meanwhile the Baddies surged forward and killed the one character model who managed to tiptoe a few feet forward, slaughtering him while his hapless comrades watched.

Finally Derek’s Skald stumbled forward into a copse of trees behind a stone wall. He then spent his next three successes to sound his magic horn. (It requires all enemy models within appropriate range to roll for Morale) The forces of Darkness – crowding at the Heroes’ side of the table by now – promptly failed their Q checks and panicked. They actually passed the three other characters still standing on the starting line on their way off the nearest board edge. Game over, man. Game over.

DESIGNER NOTES?

So this post is me thinking out loud about Zona Perestrelki.  ZP is going to be the next iteration of our “Cleared to Engage” House Rules and once we finish up our ASOBH Summoning campaign, our game group is going back to the post-apocalypse.
So as I’m hammering out the new rules, I’m thinking about the minimum required complexity of table top war game rules.

Now my experience with wargames started 40+ years ago with Avalon Hill’s “Gettysburg,” “Panzer Blitz,” and “Panzer Leader”.  I transitioned from counters to miniatures when I discovered Airfix 1/72 plastics. I’d glue them on cardboard rectangles to form units of Chargers, Shooters, and Commanders. Informed by the Avalon Hill games, these units had 4 stats: Attack, Range, Defense, Movement. Sure, there were different troop types, specialist weapons, simple modifiers for cover or terrain, but those four basic stats defined not just the units but the game. They streamlined the play. They simplified the mechanics so rather than flipping pages for multiple charts or special rules, or grabbing the calculator every round of combat, you could get stuck in right away and fight. It was smooth. It flowed. You could play the game, not the rules.

It was my recent purchase of GW’s new Shadow War: Armageddon that pushed my mind toward this topic. I love the idea of a skirmish game. I own a fair amount of GW figs. However, on the first read-through I was reminded why I don’t play 40K; not because I’m a hater who loathes soulless, money-grabbing, devious, price-gouging, new-edition-releasing, corporate bastards. (which GW is not. They’re a business like any other business that needs to market and turn a profit.) It’s that I was struck by the notion most table top miniature wargames are built on old pen-and-paper RPG engines and IMO they bring unnecessary levels of detail and complexity with them.

Some folks like and want a lot of detail in their games. Fine. Horses for courses. Personally, I find the nuances and intricate mechanics so useful in highly personalized, intimate-level RPG combat actually slows a table top war game down. Things like hit locations, variable strength melee weapons, minute differentiation between types of assault rifles or handguns render combat and game play boggy, particularly as the size of the battle/number of combatants increases.  Not to mention they’re fertile ground for Rules Lawyers and Power Gamers. It’s like stagnant water for mosquitoes.

I think it was SW:A’s three-stage Combat Resolution that bumped me: Roll To Hit, Roll to Wound, Roll for Armor Save. Why?

Seems to me if an exploding, self-propelled bolter round hits you, you’re wounded – unless your Armor stops/deflects it. Bullets are not your friend. Neither are swords or grenades or chainsaws or industrial level hydraulic claws. You got hit with a nasty thing. Either your armor worked or it didn’t  so why the extra, in-between step? There’s a battle raging, objectives to reach, other units to move. Why add the additional time for an additional roll at all? Lose the To Wound roll, you can drop the Toughness stat and that’s one less number to memorize and quibble over.  Simplifying doesn’t mean simplistic.

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Go back a step further: Combat. Seems to me Ranged vs Melee is a matter of distance, not ability. Why two stats? I would think a military unit would be trained to a certain level of proficiency in general. Want a dedicated Melee unit? Give them melee weapons. Want a bad-ass brawler? Give him a melee-only weapon with good damage and high Combat Ability. A Ranged unit not so hot in close assault? Negative modifier to any melee then. Strength can be reflected in the unit’s Combat Ability and voila, you drop another number on the stat line.

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In my experience, players want a smooth, fast game that flows. No clunk, minimal bookkeeping, intuitive mechanisms, reduced chance for quibbling and loopholes. That’s the main reason Cleared to Engage/ZP is going to stick with the Four Number Stat line: Movement, Combat Ability, Armor, and Will.  Weapons have a Three Number Stat: Range, Firepower, and Damage. In our experience, the simplifications don’t rob a model’s individuality or homogenize units. The Mix and Match of Stat values and Weapon load-out lets us reflect all manner of troop experience, abilities, and fighting styles. The Troop Creation has to be varied and solid, not perfect or infinitely nuanced. That allows players to enjoy the mission story  and the experience of the hobby without worrying whether a game will dissolve into bickering, math equations, or sneaky special rule/exceptions.

Even though this is ‘War’, it’s also a ‘Game’. The hobby is supposed to be fun, cool, and engaging.  At least that’s what I’m here for. And I’m hoping ZP can provide that not just for us, but anyone else who wants to give it a go.

Thanks for listening. Next time I’ll talk about the STALKER-style setting. (which is so cheeki breeki awesome, it staggers the mind.)

Til then.

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The Summoning – Chapter One

  1. A STILLNESS TO THE TREES

The Duke of Lorica has requested that you and your companions investigate a simple family matter.

His niece, Aolynn, summers at the farmstead of a retired member of the Royal Guard near the frontier town of Dunnhaven. The dispatch rider bearing the weekly correspondence from her is two days overdue and the Duke is concerned. He has ordered a troop of Border Guards to the area but your party is nearby and he wants assurances sooner rather than later.

The Duke is offering a respectable sum of Gold Crowns, but only after the party secures evidence of the niece’s safety. To sweeten the deal, he has sent additional supplies with the messenger bearing this offer.

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The Frontier Homestead.
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Plot Point: The Barn
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Plot Point: The Outbuilding
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Plot Point: The Field
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Plot Point: The Main House

Time constraints require we continue with a familiar rule set for our weekly sessions, so Matt, John, and Derek elected to continue with ASOBH. They are beginning this campaign with a single character each. Matt elected to play as the Journeyman Mage, Iobus Graymorn. John went with Barbarian Mercenary Brekr of Icehelm, while Derek decided to play the Skald, Alrick Tenloch.

The Party arrived at the farm early in the morning to find it seemingly deserted. There are no signs of life, human or livestock. The area is eerily silent and a strange fog is lingering over the place that seems unaffected by the rising Sun.

GAME EFFECT: ALL LOS is Limited to LONG. You detect Noise/Movement but Identity of enemies is not revealed until models are within LONG range.

Each PLOT POINT location contains a Risk and a Reward, i.e. an enemy that is triggered when a model elects to check the area, and an item reward and critical game information once that enemy is defeated.

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Our Heroes

Of course they ignored the first Plot Point location (The Barn) just outside their deployment area and headed straight to the Outbuilding instead. Brekr triggered a swarm of Giant Locusts and he and the Mage were forced to fight them off while the Skald took his sweet time getting down the road. (New boots?)

Eventually they killed the last  locust, searched the area for salvage and information, then headed straight to the Main House.

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The Mage, still queasy about the bugs, peeled off to the Field Plot Point, shouting words of encouragement to the Barbarian and the Skald. He was confident the two of them would make quick work of any threat that appeared.

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Ghouls lope in from a nearby copse of trees while a Raider busts out of the Main House shouting a blood-curdling war cry.
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This is my Angry Face!
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May the Gods grant you a good death.

Meanwhile, the third Ghoul hopped the hedge and sprinted toward Graymorn, who was mixing it up with a Giant Spider.

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Combat was short and fierce, but our Heroes prevailed. All the Plot points were Searched, the meager loot gathered, and the crucial information discovered.

***

Inside the house you find the body of an Older Man surrounded by the bodies of three dead Raiders. In the back pantry you find the body of an Older Woman and one dead Raider. A SEARCH yields

1 Healing Scroll, 1 Weapon Boost, 1Fire Bomb. AND a hastily scrawled note that reads:

“They have taken her. Warn the Duke the Black Hand has returned.”

***

Duke’s niece kidnapped, her guardian and his family brutally slain, all carried out by a mysterious enemy called the ‘Black Hand’. Who is this shadowy foe from the Duke’s past come to haunt him anew? Tragic as it is, could it be that more than the life of one young girl is at stake?

Tune in next week.

“Raven 4 is down!”

Derek blew off our regular Tuesday game night to celebrate his birthday with his wife. *sheesh* So Matt, John, and I did another ‘one-of’ Rogue Stars game. Each of us controlled two characters. Each crew was secretly tasked with a mission goal regarding a downed recon drone. (variations on a theme: secure intact, destroy, or salvage black box)

Here are the crews. (Stats down below)

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Drago Jaxx and EssenTok

 

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Vrak-ta and Eno Grundi

 

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Cl1nt 3astw00d and D3ad 3y3

 

Simple layout with crews coming in from corners.

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War-Torn Battleground
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Raven4 Recon drone

Straight up battle as crews converged on the center of the table. Shooting started once folks got in range which ended the game quickly with John’s Robots and Matt’s Salvagers in a short, sharp exchange of fire. My less than stellar Action/Reaction rolls actually helped in that both my characters lagged behind and arrived on the scene to find three opponents bleeding out and Matt’s big guy, Vrak’to, reluctant to tangle with two fresh hostiles. So a win for me by default. Which was nice.

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Have to admit we’re still on the fence about Rogue Stars. Advance Song of Blades and Heroes is a favorite here. I think we all hoped RS would be that in Space. Perhaps we need to get more familiar with the mechanics and the RPG-level of detail, but even streamlining the Combat by designating all shots as Torso hits, the fighting still felt slow. Don’t get me wrong, the character creation, the mission tables, the traits, gear, and sheer amount of stuff is great. Time will tell if we can adjust our expectations to this new level of crunchiness or if we House Rule the official ranged combat. Perhaps keeping the ‘only Torso’ hit location unless Called will help. Guess we’ll have to play more games, eh?

In the meantime, here are some potential characters for one of my Rogue Stars crews.

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CREW STATS

ESSEN TOK – Bounty Hunter (68)

TRAITS (35)

Agile 2 = + 2 to Terrain Rolls

Marksman 3 = +3 to Shoot

Danger Sense = Cannot be targeted by Surprise Attacks

Perceptive 3 = +3 to Spot Rolls

Reactive = +1 to Reaction Rolls

ARMOR (14)

Light Combat Dress

Legs = 2   Arms = 2   Torso = 3   Head = 3

WEAPONS (13)

Laser Rifle = Damage 5 (Blind, 2 Hand, Energy Weapon)

Variable Frequency Laser = No -1 Penalty when firing through smoke or fog

Accurate Weapon = +1 to Called or Aimed Shots

GEAR (6)

Stun Grenade x1

Cost 2 Actions to Use: 1 to Prime, 1 to Throw. TN 10 up to 12″ range.

3″ Blast Radius. Targets must pass TN 10 roll or receive 1 Stress and 2 Pin Markers.  (Sealed Armor may roll for Defense) Does not affect Artificial or Mineral targets.

Motion Detector = +2 to Spot Rolls.

 

DRAGO JAXX – Privateer for Hire (69)

TRAITS (48)

Alert 2 = No Sitting Duck Condition

Fast Draw = Drawing Weapon does not Cost action or cause Stress. Priming a grenade still costs 1 action.

Danger Sense = Immune to Surprise Attacks

Difficult Target = Ranged Attacks against model are at -2 unless bound or shackled. Does not apply to Psionic attacks

Marksman 2 = +2 to Shoot

Reactive = +1 to Reaction Rolls

Stealth 2 = -2 penalty to any attempt to Spot this model

Tough 1 = +1 to Endue Rolls

ARMOR (9)

Kevlar Trenchcoat

Legs = 1   Arms= 1   Torso = 2   Head = 0

WEAPONS (12)

SMG = Damage 4, Automatic (2 Attacks/Action at -2 Penalty) Cannot Call Shots.

1 or 2 targets within 4″

Monowire Blade = Damage 3, Armor Piercing (-1 to target Armor Rating)

 

CL1NT 3ASTW00D – Robot Gunslinger (70)

TRAITS:

Ambidexterity = Model may use two One-handed weapons at the same time for single action. Each roll at -1. Same or different targets.

Artificial = Immune to Toxins, Respiratory agents, and mental Psionics.

Marksman 2 = +2 to Shoot

Fast Draw = Drawing Weapon does not Cost action or cause Stress. Priming a grenade still costs 1 action.

ARMOR

Armor 3 on all locations.

GEAR

Slug Pistols (2) Dam 5 Short Range Weapon

Zap Rifle = Dam 4 Electrical, Two-Handed, Energy.

Combat Computer = Model may spend 1 Action to Analyze opponent. Model makes Tech Lvl 10 Roll, If successful, next attack against that target is +2. Critical Success = +3 Critical Failure = -2 for remainder of the game.

Refraction Field Harness = Only for Direct Fire Weapon Ranged Attacks. RollD20 for every Hit. On a 1 Harness goes offline. 2-14: Regular Damage. 15: Dam -1. 16+: No Damage.

 

D3AD-3Y3 – Sniperbot (65)

TRAITS:

Artificial = Immune to Toxins, Respiratory agents, and mental Psionics.

Marksman 2 = +2 to Shoot

Fire Into Melee = May Fire into Melee with no chance of hitting wrong target.

Nonreactive = -2 to all Reaction Rolls

Stealth 1= -1 penalty to any attempt to Spot this model

ARMOR

Armor 3 on all locations

GEAR

Accurate Battle Rifle = Dam 5 +1 to Called or Aimed Shots

Self-Accelerating Projectile = Ignores -1 Penalty for Hi-Grav situations.

Entangle Grenade = Cost 2 Actions to Use: 1 to Prime, 1 to Throw. TN 10 up to 12″ range.

3″ Blast Radius. Targets must roll TN 10 (TN15 if Critical Success) Failure = Entangle/Prone.

Force Sword = Damage 4, Energy Weapon

Night Visor = Ignore Darkness Penalties to Shoot or Terrain. However, Laser Blindness Roll at -2

Combat Computer = Model may spend 1 Action to Analyze opponent. Model makes Tech Lvl 10 Roll, If successful, next attack against that target is +2. Critical Success = +3 Critical Failure = -2 for remainder of the game.

Motion Detector = +2 to Spot Rolls.

 

ENO GRUNDI – Salvage and Recovery Expert (70)

TRAITS

Diminutive = Ranged attacks at -1. Movements -1”

Difficult Target 2 = All regular Ranged Attacks at -2.

Leadership 2 = +2 Bonus to Squad’s Initiative Rolls. +2 Morale to Friendlies in LOS

ARMOR

Light Combat Dress =  Legs: 2  Arms: 2  Torso: 3  Head: 3

GEAR

Refraction Field Harness= Only for Direct Fire Weapon Ranged Attacks. RollD20 for every Hit. On a 1 Harness goes offline. 2-14: Regular Damage. 15: Dam -1. 16+: No Damage.

Accurate Slug Pistol= Dam 4 Short Range Weapon. +1 to Called and Aimed Shots

Chain sword = Dam 3.

Bionic Eye = +1 to Spot, Ignore Blind and Visibility Modifiers, Halve Range Mods for Aimed Shot.

 

VRAK’TO – Salvage and Recovery Security (65)

TRAITS

Big = Ranged Attacks at +1 but +1 Bonus to model’s Melee attacks

Free Disengage = No Free Hacks when leaving Melee.

Heavy Worlder = Immune to Hi-Grav Movement penalties

Weapon Master 2 = +2 to Melee Attacks, – 2 to all Melee rolls against him.

Tough 2 = +2 to Endure Rolls.

ARMOR

Combat Dress = Legs: 3   Arms: 3  Torso: 4  Head: 4

GEAR

Power Maul= Dam 3 Stun (Endure Roll TN 10 or +1 Stress, +1 Pin Marker)

Plasma Blaster = Dam 5, Short Range, Scorching (use target’s lowest armor value)  Energy.

 

Nal-Rog of the Nine Hills

We had a new guy with us last Tuesday night, so we did a quick one-of scenario for ASOBH. John is an old hand at RPGs but fairly new to TTGs. One of the many things I appreciate about the ASOBH system is how easy it is to teach newcomers.

Matt, Derek, and John each had a pair of heroes, all of whom banded together to chase the Iron Jaw Orcs and the infamous giant, Nal-Rog of the Nine Hills from the ruins of Gray Maarten’s Tower, near the rune stones locally called the Four Sisters.

Real slugfest. Heroes for the win. No AAR but here are some pictures.

Painted up two new Shadowrun-type crews, so ‘Song of Mirrorshades and Shadows’ on the docket for tomorrow night.

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Gray Maarten’s Tower and the Four Sisters – the field of battle.
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Chain Fighter Piotr Nevsky faces Nal-Rog. Bold move. 
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Cleric Lazarus Sturn goes to meet the Orc Warchief. 
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Barda, War-Priest of Numor faces the Orc Brutes. His faith is strong, his sword sharp and fast. 
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Brawl around Gray Maarten’s Tower
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Quinn of Montfort grabs the treasure. 
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Hrodor and Brynar at the Four Sisters.
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Iron Jaws advance!