Tuesday 13 August 2019

Occult Investigator

I finished painting the last figure in the Dracula’s America Hired Guns II pack that I bought from North Star. I had a lot of fun painting all of three of the figures, and I can definitely see myself getting a few more.

This last one is some sort of paranormal investigator, and frankly would probably fit just as well into a Victorian game as an Old West one. With my renewed interest in Deadlands and now Sagas & Six-guns, I can definitely see him getting onto the table at some point.

I also painted one of the wizard shades from The Maze of Malcor. The paint job for this figure isn’t particularly remarkable, it is literally just blue highlighted all the way up to white, but the circumstances of its painting make it special.

This is the first figure I have fully painted while sitting and painting with my five-year-old daughter. I gave her a plastic Frostgrave figure to paint, which she ‘finished’, in about five minutes. She went on to paint several paintings (all of them masterpieces) while I worked on this one figure. Since the paint job didn’t require much attention, I was able to chat with her the whole time, which was wonderful.

I should get the other four wizard shades based up and ready to paint just encase we have another opportunity!

Monday 12 August 2019

Rangers of Shadow Deep: Ghost Stone

Ghost Stone, the latest book in the Rangers of Shadow Deep series is now available as a PDF and print-on-demand!

If you are unsure if you need this is your life, I have included the introduction to the book below to help you make up your mind.


Welcome to Ghost Stone, the latest supplement for Rangers of Shadow Deep. This book is divided into two main sections. The first section presents a new mission with four scenarios. Unlike previous missions, this one is designed to be played by two different ranger groups of differing levels. Scenarios 1 & 3 are designed for level 0–5 rangers, while scenarios 2 & 4 are designed for rangers that have reached levels 10–15. Each of the scenarios has an effect on future scenarios, and the whole mission is structured to show how different ranger groups sometimes work together to complete a task that is too complex for one to handle alone. I did, briefly, worry about writing a mission that would force players to create a second ranger, as I know how people get attached to their characters. However, I figure this mission gives players a chance to use their main ranger in the higher level scenarios, while creating a new ranger for the lower level ones. Plus, I’ve come to realize that most players take the need for a new figure as an opportunity! As an added bonus, the mission potentially gives players the chance to bring back some older companions that may no longer have a place in their main ranger’s party and use them to support the new ranger. One of the scenarios also calls for the rangers to work with a unique companion, who can potentially be used in future missions, assuming she survives…
The second part of this book is called ‘The Weapon Hoard’. Not long ago, I went to the British Library to see a special exhibit on the Anglo-Saxons. The exhibit mainly contained ancient manuscripts, but there were a few other items as well. One of these was an Anglo-Saxon seax. The word means ‘knife’, but most people would call such a large weapon a sword. What was peculiar about this seax was that it had bronze wire beaten into the blade so that it spelled out a name. No one knows if the name belonged to the creator, the owner, or was actually the name of the blade. Looking at that beautiful ancient weapon, I realized how important a unique weapon can be to a legendary hero. King Arthur, Roland, Strider, the Grey Mouser, they all had their own named weapons that accompanied them on their adventures.

I decided in that moment that I wanted to give Rangers of Shadow Deep players the opportunity to find unique weapons with their own special abilities and their own mysterious pasts. After all, the Shadow Deep has existed at least as long as recorded history, and in that time it has swallowed an unknown number of lands. Many of the weapons of those lands will likely have survived, either left buried in the rubble, or recovered by the minions of the Shadow Deep. So, ‘The Weapon Hoard’ is essentially a list of 52 unique weapons that can be found during your adventures. Hopefully, this will bring a little more narrative, a little more mystery, and a little more fun to your games.

As I’ve continued to work on Rangers of Shadow Deep, I’ve come to realize that there are two types of supplements, or, at least, two types of missions: those that carry forward the main narrative, such as the main rulebook and Temple of Madness, and those that are part of the greater war but not driving the central narrative forward, such as Blood Moon. Ghost Stone fits more into this second category. While it covers some large events, it really serves more as a side-quest. It keeps us in touch with the ongoing conflict, but can essentially slot in anywhere during the story. Going forward, I hope to continue writing both kinds of missions, to keep the story rolling, but also to provide players with adventures that they can work into their stories at any time.

Once again, a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has bought the game and otherwise supported my work. I continue to get a huge amount of satisfaction out of developing and experimenting with the game, and my ability to do so is largely due to your support. I hope you enjoy this new supplement, and, if you get the chance, please share the results of your adventures on the Rangers of Shadow Deep Facebook page, on Board Game Geek, or on one of the great miniatures forums.

Thursday 8 August 2019

Starfire Elemental

It’s a well-known fact that artists often have a hard-time sticking to the brief. Such was the case for Bobby Jackson when he came to sculpt the starfire elemental for Maze of Malcor

Basically, a starfire elemental is just a big ball of floating fire. Instead of that, Bobby sculpted a floating metal sphere, burning with internal fire, and smoke pouring out of it. I love it. It doesn’t match the description at all, but it’s just such a cool figure.

In the end, it was decided to use this figure and sculpt the more accurate version and include them in the same pack. I think it was the correct decision.

The starfire elemental is technically a creature, but in truth, it acts more like a spell effect. Soon after it was released, Games Workshop saw the model and stole the idea for their entire range of ‘EndlessSpells’. (Okay, that’s almost certainly not true, but I figure a little GW controversy might help sales!).

It was a fun, quick paint (except for trying to paint in the small, flaming cracks in the sphere), and it looks fantastic on the tabletop!

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Sagas and Six-guns by Robert Buckey

What happens when you mix Viking culture, as written in the Sagas, with the American Old West? You get Sagas & Six-guns.

Sagas & Six-guns is a new setting book for Savage Worlds written by Robert Buckley and published by Gallant Knight Games. It is available on DriveThruRPG, either in PDF or print-on-demand. Since I had a strong inkling that I was going to like the book, I ordered a hardback.

The book opens with creating a character. Characters can be any of your usual Old West tropes, along with several fantasy options including Valkyries (trapped on Midgard), Runesmith Engineers (weird scientists) and three types of magic-user (essentially the Viking equivalents of priests, witches, and bards).

It then gives quick coverage of the world, including the major kingdoms, cities, and organizations. There is enough here to get started, but it really is just a framework, and obviously designed to be filled in by the players or later supplements.

Also included are a selection Norse monsters that occupy the setting, including how some are ‘updated’ to the Wild West.

Finally, the book includes a host of adventure ideas, including one longer campaign. None of these are fleshed out, so game masters will need to do some work on them.

All-and-all, I think it is a lovely work. There isn’t a huge amount of artwork, but what is there is very nice. A map would have been a nice inclusion, as we get a good amount of discussion about the relationship of the various kingdoms, but only a bit on their geographical position. Also, the book could really have used one more proof-read. The mistakes aren’t terrible, but there are enough to be noticeable. 

While comparisons with Deadlands are inevitable, especially since this game uses the Savage Worlds system, I think the two can be thought of as complementary. It would be very easy to combine elements from either setting into the other if it were desired. 

So if anyone is looking for a fresh take on a weird west setting, I recommend giving this one a look.  I suspect there will be more material available for Sagas & Six-guns in the future. 

Be aware though - you will need the Savage Worlds book in order to play the game.

Monday 5 August 2019

The Wizard of Oz's Tractor

I just figure if the Wizard of Oz had a tractor, it would look something like this.  It was parked outside a cafe, a few minutes from my house, as I was walking by. I spoke to the driver briefly, and he said it was from 1916. He was from Brighton and heading for a steam rally. 

(That's quite a drive considering...!) 

One of the great things about living in Kent is the sheer amount of strange, restored, vintage stuff you see. 

Friday 2 August 2019

Back to Battletech

I recently purchased, read, and enjoyed Battletech: House Arano, which interestingly appears to only be available through DriveThruRPG. It’s a source book based on a recent Battletech video game. I know next to nothing about the video game, but the book was a fun read, none-the-less. It covers the previously unmentioned periphery state, the Aurigan Coalition.

It is very easy to get lost in the vastness of the Battletech universe, so it’s nice to sometimes see these self-contained books, which presents a smaller setting, with all of its notable personalities, and give a few scenarios to play.

Anyway, it got me in the mood to paint a mech, so I pulled a Griffin out of the ‘lead box’ and slapped some paint on it. He’s the newest addition to my Firehawks legion – you can see the unit’s emblem displayed proudly on the left leg.

At the same time, I painted up a little APC. It’s a nicely detailed model from Strato Minis – kind of like a sleeker version of the APC in Aliens. It’ll be useful for moving around VIPs or maybe special strike teams.

Of course, all of my Battletech reading and painting is somewhat overshadowed by the massive Battletech kickstarter that is running. It’s already well over $1,000,000, which is doubly impressive with only just over 6,000 backers. 

I am not one of those backers. I looked at it, and looked at it again, and again, but I just couldn’t see a reason for me to back. I have no need or interest in the core ‘Clan Invasion’ box set. I’m not much of a fan of the ‘Clans’ as a concept, and most of their mech designs, even the new, admittedly much improved, versions, leave me cold. It looks like there is going to be some awesome new mechs coming out of this kickstarter, but they don’t need my money to help with that.

Most importantly, nothing is going to be delivered on the kickstarter for a year, assuming it stays on schedule. I have no idea what I’ll be interested in at that point. Maybe it will be Battletech, in which case I’ll buy some of the new mechs when they come market. If not, I’ll just wait until the mood hits me again.

This is not to put down anyone who has backed the campaign. If you are a long time Battletech player, you can probably feel pretty confident that you’ll be excited about the new stuff whenever it arrives. But I run hot and cold on these things, and if it hits me when I’m cold, it’ll all just get chucked into a box, which isn’t much of an investment.