Mister Potato-head Goblin

This is just a little doodle I did this evening and finished off with texture and tone in Painter XIII.

GHQ vs. H&R

Clickify to embiggenate
Here's a comparison between GHQ infantry (on the left) and Heroics & Ros infantry (on the right). They're both Vickers machine-gun teams; the GHQ figures in desert uniform and the H&R figures in ETO battledress.

GHQ cost $US 9.95 for 50-60 figures. H&R cost £2.50 for about 50; at current exchange rates, that's about $NZ 11.50 and $NZ 5.00 respectively. Postage rates are more expensive for H&R; they charge an additional 40% for shipping from the UK to New Zealand, but that's still not nearly enough to make them as costly as GHQ figures.

GHQ figures cost more than twice as much as H&R, but then they're undeniably better sculpted. However, though they're cruder, H&R figures are still easily identifiable as to weapon load, troop type and so forth, and so serve perfectly well as wargaming units. At arm's length, on the tabletop, GHQ's finer modelling really doesn't make itself obvious, so from a functional point of view, H&R would be the obvious choice — after all, why pay all that extra for detail you're mostly not going to see?

I do like a nicely-detailed model, but that alone wouldn't be enough to make me pay a premium for GHQ. What does push me over into buying from GHQ is the fact that I can do all my purchasing automatically, direct from their website, and their stuff arrives here in New Zealand within seven to ten days. When dealing with H&R, on the other hand, I have to make my choices, send them an email order, wait for them to send me a PayPal invoice, pay them, and then wait for the figures to arrive. That extra inconvenience is enough to get me to pay extra just to avoid it.

Castle in the Mist


More gamish scenery. The hand-rails and lamp-post might be a bit out of place, but apart from that...

(Image nicked from imgur)

The Genius of Zak Makes Me Weak at the Knees

Zak, of Playing D&D With PornStars and Vornheim fame, suggested this initiative sysytem:

Each side rolls initiative (one die for all the PCs, one die for the GM).
  • The winning side has one character go (if it's the PCs, they just choose among themselves who'll go first)
  • Then the losing side has one character go
  • Then the winning side has one character go...
etc. etc. the side with more characters has the leftovers all go at the end.
This is an idea of sublime genius, and I want to try it IMMEDIATELY.

New toys make me happy

I just received an order of GHQ 1:285 infantry in the post, and I'm more excited by it than a grown gentleman of a Certain Age should be. They are ridiculously detailed, though they're also rather large for what are supposed to be 6mm figures (they're more like 8mm). Personally I don't really mind that they're a trifle gigantic; there tends to be differences in scale between terrain features and vehicles anyway, ground scale vs. model scale is way out of whack, and as long as they don't look too out of place the infantry can all be 8-foot heroes as far as I'm concerned. And they are great little figures.

The trouble with very highly-detailed figures is that one is tempted to spend more time than is really warranted for wargames figures in painting them; even so, they're still a lot quicker and easier to paint than 15mm stuff.

Realistically, once they're based and on the table being pushed around to the sound of mouth-sound-effects and the rattle of dice, there's not really any functional difference between these guys and Heroics & Ros infantry, which are smaller (much closer to nominal 6mm scale), much less detailed (though still perfectly identifiable) and much, much cheaper.

Crusader Mk.I (15mm)

This is my latest 15mm (1:100 scale) AFV model — a Crusader Mk.I, from Battlefront. The Crusader, in any of its incarnations, is one of my favourite British tanks of WWII; from an aesthetic point of view I find it a great pity that the Sherman was so much more useful, and so displaced it.

Lock-picking for all!

I'm not in favour of absolute exclusivity between the classes in my D&D campaigns. Anyone can try pretty much anything, as long as the players can reasonably justify it somehow. The benefit you get by choosing one class over another is that, whatever your class schtick might be, you can do it better than any of the other classes. At first level the difference might not be extreme, but it will become so as you rise in level.

In this spirit, I present my house-rules for handling lock-picking.

Picking Locks

Anyone, with access to a set of lock-picks and a little bit of training*, can attempt to pick a lock. An attempt takes one Turn (ten minutes) and succeeds if a 1 is rolled on 1d6.
* When I say "a little bit of training" I really do mean a little bit. Basic lock-picking is easy; a couple of hours instruction is enough to get anyone of reasonable intelligence into action.
If you buy a set of lock-picks as part of your starting equipment, it can be assumed that you've had that basic training as part of your character's background. If not, (i.e. after character creation) you'd have to seek out such training in-game.
If a 6 is rolled, the lock is unopenable — the pick breaks off in it, the mechanism is jammed, or something else similar occurs — and will require attention from somebody with real skill (i.e. a Thief or a locksmith) to clear it before another attempt can be made.

A Thief works in fundamentally the same way, but has advantages:
  1. A Thief takes a Round (one minute) per attempt, not a Turn.
  2. A Thief succeeds on a 1 or 2, but still jams the lock on a 6.
  3. A Thief can use a successful picklock roll to clear a jammed lock. (Note that a 6 rolled on a clearing attempt makes the situation worse: each additional 6 doubles the number of successes required to clear the lock).
  4. At every three levels, a Thief gets an additional die to roll per attempt; a 1 or 2 rolled on any of them indicates a success, and a success on one die can be used to cancel out a jamming result (a 6) on another (a success used to cancel a jamming result doesn't count against the successes required to open the lock).
Note that a successful picklock roll won't neccessarily open a lock; more difficult locks might require two, three or more successes to get them open. Particularly fiendish locks might even require multiple simultaneous successes, and would thus only be openable by Thieves of elevated rank. Or by a key.

Certain Death

Why "certain death"?

Because if you get rid of that modern-looking cable car, then getting into this place will probably involve a party swimming and/or climbing.

Both of those activities have a much higher mortality rate, in every game I've played in, than even the most terrifyingly armoured, venomous, fire-breathing, fanged and clawed monster.

This can only be in Japan, and there's no way I'd live there — a decent earthquake would be likely to snap those puny supports and send the whole kit and kaboodle into the sea.

Magical Landscape


Just because I haven't done a scenery piece for a while, here's this magical landscape. It's somewhere on the borderland between Germany and the Czech republic.

Last night

We finally managed to get another session of Joff's Travelleroid game played last night, after a bit of a hiatus due to various real-world irritations, and it was a HOOT!

To cut a long story to its absolute essentials: we successfully nicked a spaceship and some other stuff from a bunch of mercenaries without actually getting any of us killed (but only just).

More detailed session log here.

Our gaming group appears to have an uncanny ability to roll dice at either end of the curve without ever visiting the middle, which means strings of either abject, humiliating, farcical failure, or crushing triumph, with nothing much in between. The GM, no matter who might actually be taking that role, somehow manages to regularly roll higher than is statistically likely.

We're using a d20 mechanic, which means that the curve is actually a line. I'm not a fan of that for simulationist gaming; I think a multi-dice bell curve is better in that respect, as it reduces the effect of luck and emphasizes adjustments for character skill. However, I do like linear probability for more cinematic gaming because extreme results are more common, and extreme results are more amusing... as long as you're not taking things too seriously. It can get a bit depressing when the extreme results consist of nothing but pathetic fumbles, one after the other, but que sera sera.

Anyway, we can enjoy our ill-gotten spaceship for a while before its inevitable theft from us in turn, almost certainly stranding us all on some awful shit-hole of a planet, because one of us once again manages to throw a 1 at a crucial juncture.

Half-Orc

Here's another Reaper Bones plastic miniature. I don't know if it's actually meant to be a half-orc or not, but that's wha...