Thursday 18 April 2024

Replacement Star Hero Books

 


The two Star Hero books I ordered to replace two that I thought I'd lost (but had merely misplaced) arrived this morning.

I got the shipping notice from Hero Games on March 30th, so transit time was about three weeks — not the fastest I've had, but very very far from being the slowest. The actual order confirmation was a couple of weeks before then, so I suppose that was the PoD production lead time.

Together they cost me about twenty YankeeBucks, plus about the same for shipping from the US.

So, now I have two copies of each. Hey-ho.

Friday 12 April 2024

Playing With Dollies In Space

 

I've given the party in my revived Space Opera campaign a Far Trader, since I like my players to have more or less unfettered access to a ship. It makes my own life as a GM much easier. There's so much that can go wrong with a spaceship.

To that end, I found some deck plans for the Empress Marava class Far Trader (from Traveller) on the internet, and recreated them as a vector file in CorelDraw. I rescaled it so that it can be used with the old 15mm Traveller minis I have, and printed it out on tiled pages.

I don't know how much use we'll get out of them — I may just have to arrange a hijacking or two, or maybe an invasion by some kind of inimical Space Baddies.

In this photo it just shows the lower deck; there's another sheet for the upper deck as well.

I'll probably get them laminated at some stage, when I have a little bit of spare cash.

ADDENDUM

I've been fiddling around with the old Star Hero campaign pages on my website, removing purely Hero System relevant stuff and converting other stuff where and when I can. There's a campaign diary there too, for those who may be interested in reading about somebody else's roleplaying games.

You can find it all at https://mojobob.com/roleplay/hero/sci-fi/terranempire/campaign_notes/campaignindex.html





Monday 1 April 2024

Renewal

 

Many, many years ago, about the turn of the century, I dismantled a couple of RPG sourcebooks because I thought it would be a good idea to put them in a 3-ring binder. Sheer madness.

Anyway, zoom forward to the present and I have rescued them and re-bound them. Their covers are somewhat more restrained than they used to be, and also they're now hardbacks instead of the softcovers they once were.

I thought I'd lost them, maybe loaned them to somebody and never got them back, and since I wanted to use them for an upcoming BRP space opera campaign, I ordered replacements from Hero Games' webstore, where they have them for cheap — twenty yankeebucks for the pair of them (PoD plus PDF), and about the same for postage. Naturally, the instant I ordered those, I found the originals.

So now I'll have two copies of each. Hey-ho.



Friday 29 March 2024

Tiger II

 


I got around to painting the 1:100 scale Bergman Tiger II model I'd been mucking about with in Blender and printed on my elderly Ender 3 in eSun PLA+.

The number decal (from Skytrex, I think) on the starboard side didn't stick properly and came away on my finger; I had to kind of glue it back in position, and there's quite a bit of silvering as a result. I'll probably have to go in and paint over as much of the carrier film as I can manage.


Below is this 3d printed Tiger alongside an injection-moulded Zvezda kit of the same scale. I think it stands up pretty well, especially considering that it's a FDM print.



Sunday 24 March 2024

M-Space Binding

 

Because I wasn't expecting my copy of M-Space to arrive for a while yet, and because I'm starting a space opera campaign fairly shortly, for which I wanted to use the rules, I printed a copy from the PDF and bound it.

Because of the unusual format of the layout, the finished book, when the signatures are printed on my A4 laser printer, is only about 148mm square. I've found it to be an unexpectedly comfortable size for a RPG book — it takes up very little room, and doesn't get in the way on the table, while still being pretty readable. The page count could have been dropped quite a bit with a traditional page dimension I think (and by leaving out the huge black toner-eating full-page illustrations that I think are there mainly for padding) but the 240 pages of this one are a manageable size.


I just used the heavy brown manila paper from supermarket bags for the covering, over 1mm grey board (2mm would have been better). I screwed up the paper first and then ironed it out flat again, to get the crumpled surface texture — I think that if I'd also given it an acrylic glaze over the top it would probably look quite leathery. Maybe I'll try that another time.

The rather light 1mm grey board warped quite a bit under glueing. I'll just live with that I think.

The actual publisher's copy arrived unexpectedly early, so I have that now, but this one will be very handy I think, for slipping into a bag or pocket.

Saturday 23 March 2024

Tiger II Remix

 


More as an exercise than because I actually need one, I set about remixing the turret of one of Bergman's 15mm (1:100 scale) Tiger II models to minimise the problem of layer lines when printing in FDM.

I split it up to be printed in individual components so that the slightly sloping plates at fore and aft of the turret roof can be printed vertically, and the gun's strength can be maximized by printing it horizontally.

It worked well enough, though assembly was a bit of a faff and the individual components could do with some refinement.


Then, since I had a turret printed, I thought I might as well do a hull to go with it. I refined the detail on the engine deck, and added link detail to the tracks. Again, it was split fore and aft to print vertically, and it turned out okay.

My old Ender 3 is showing its age, and there's a bit of clean-up to be done, but I think it has produced a model more than adequate for tabletop use. I would probably print future models in resin, which would both be faster and give me better surfaces.

This is not the only model in Bergman's Tiger II set, and I went on and detailed those others as well. When, or if, I get around to actually printing them, who can say.



Sunday 17 March 2024

Preparing Paper

I am in the throes of preparation for reviving the mouldering corpse of my old space opera campaign. When it was last active, some considerable time ago, I was using the Hero System 5th Edition to run it. I did like the Hero System in many ways, but it was not the simplest game to run or to play in.

This time I'm planning on using Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying d100 system, though the milieu will remain the Star Hero Terran Empire. I have a d100 sci-fi game, based on the Mythras Imperative rules, called M-Space that I will pull all the character generation and equipment and what-not out of, since all the definition work has already been done there.

Rather than spending hours and hours painting 3-dimensional miniatures for the game, I'm once again making use of Okum Arts paper minis, which are great and cheap and pre-coloured. The pile to the left are all robots; the rest are various humanoids. I'm printing them on some 150gsm inkjet paper, so when folded and glued they make quite a stiff and sturdy miniature, still easily cut out with a little pair of decoupage scissors. Plain 80-90gsm printer paper is usable, but the resulting minis are still very thin even after being folded and glued, so they need card reinforcing strips applied along their bottom edge so that they don't fall out of the standee bases.

I've shown these before — these are some of them that I made for Call of Cthulhu, in 3d-printed bases that I designed in Blender and printed on my Ender 3.

I prefer black bases, but at the time I printed these I only had grey filament. Now I have some black PLA+, so I'm printing a bunch more. Because why not, after all?

Monday 11 March 2024

Critter

 

I cannot remember who sculpted this, nor what it was called, nor whether it's supposed to be a specific monster or just a generically monstery critter. It stands (or squats) 40mm to the tip of its muzzle.

I printed it quite some time ago, and just got around to painting it.


FDG Ranger

 

This is one of the support-free FRPG minis produced by Fat Dragon Games, in this case a ranger.

I like them as gaming pieces because their poses tend to be quite restrained. I'm not fond of the sorts of fantasy minis that are presented in hugely animated leaping-slashing-bellowing poses; they're exhausting to look at.

These FDG minis have the additional benefit that they can be reliably and successfully printed on a FDM printer.

That's maybe not as important as it once was, now that decent resin printers are affordable, and the resins available are tougher, but I still appreciate it. Plus, the new generation of FDM printers appear to be capable of detail and smoothness comparable with entry-level resin printers, while being much cheaper to run.

My old Ender 3 is not, alas, that good. Still good enough for tabletop work though.

Sunday 10 March 2024

Binding BRP

 

More adventures in bookbinding.

Some time ago I got a copy of Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying when the PDF was on sale at DriveThreRPG for 99c.

I printed it full-size and bound it in a fan-glue binding (the green one). The BRP Quick-Start rules were free, so I did them too (the floral cover, on the left). Both of those bindings have been around for a year or so, and since then I've also bought a PoD paperback edition of the rules.

Recently I thought I'd like a copy in a more compact form, so I printed the Big Yellow Book in A5 signatures, and stitched and bound it into a Little Big Crimson Yellow Book, on the right.

Now Chaosium have released a shiny new edition of BRP, with an editable RTF text block available under the ORC. However, even without any illustrations, and with all the text at 10pt, an A5 production of that comes to somewhere around 700-800 pages, so it might be a while before I get up the gumption to lay that all out and print it in signatures.

Thursday 7 March 2024

Very Old Wizards

 These are all very old 25mm figures that I painted some time in the late 1980s, mostly using Maimeri gouache acrylics. They all came, as far as I can recall, from two three-figure sets from Ral Partha, and I think they were designed by Tom Meier and/or Julie Guthrie.



Wednesday 6 March 2024

Reaper Great Worm

 

This plastic Great Worm from Reaper (one of their very first Bones models) is a mini that I painted quite a few years ago. I've used it as a test piece, to photograph against my new velvet backdrop.

I like the look of the dark background, and I'll probably use it quite a lot. I think it would make post-processing a lot easier if I could arrange the lighting to be a lot more focused on the models, and I'll experiment with some method to restrict the light circle quite a bit.

Black Velvet Backdrop

I bought a piece of black furnishing velvet to try as a backdrop for photographing my models.

I've hung it off a frame at the back of my photo box, draped forward over the floor of the stage.

I have three fairly powerful daylight LED bulbs over the stage, which is just a translucent plastic storage crate. There is a mirror tile on either side to reflect some fill light back into the scene.


My camera (a Nikon D3500), in common with all cameras with automated exposure controls, tends to freak out a bit when a scene is overwhelmingly dark or light. Fortunately, it has pretty easy exposure compensation controls, although finding the exact degree of over- or under-exposure is generally a matter off guesswork and trial and error.

This image has been underexposed by one stop, and though the minis look a little dark, the colour card is still a little bit washed out as the camera struggles to get the right exposure.


This one has been underexposed by two stops, and everything is pretty dark.

The velvet background is nice and black, but the white of the exposure card is perceptibly grey, and the minis are very dark. I could probably bring them out with some post-processing, but I suspect there would be a lot less faffing about involved in darkening the background of the first image than in trying to get an acceptable tonal range in the minis in the second.


This guy, a 28mm monk from Reaper, was underexposed by one stop to keep the dark background from making the camera blow out the highlights. But with this one, I focused the lighting much more closely on the mini, so that almost no detail from the background was picked up at all. He's been post-processed to further darken the background.

I like this effect, and I'll probably make a lot more use of it.


This was an experiment with a modeling light setup (i.e. using light to model the surface of the subject), using a single lamp from the upper right, and a convex makeup mirror as a fill reflector.

It's probably not often that useful a lighting rig for photographing miniatures, as highlights and shadows tend to be painted in, and the lighting generally needs to be more flat and even. However, I have it in my grab-bag if I should ever need it.

Monday 4 March 2024

Organisation

 

I've been very slowly tidying and organising my workroom, so that I could conceivably actually use it for something other than storing junk.

Part of that has been tidying up my modeling bench.

The top image is it yesterday; the bottom is its current state — it's unlikely to stay like this for long, but I'll enjoy it while I may.

It's refreshing to have more than a six inch square area free to work in.

Panther to Jagdpanther and back again

 


Some time ago I bought a box of five 1:100 (15mm) plastic kit Panthers from PSC. They included alternate hull and gun pieces to make Jagdpanthers, if the modeller so chose.

Realistically, getting three Panthers and two Jagdpanthers out of the box would probably have been sufficient for 99% of my wargaming needs, but being the cheap and stingy person that I am, I decided that I wanted to get maximum flexibility from the set.

So, through the magic of magnetism, I made the two options interchangeable on the basic running gear. I used epoxy to set the magnets in place because of both its strength and its gap-filling properties.

The bottom magnets were straightforward enough to place, but to get accurate registration and polarity for the upper magnets, I placed the two sets of magnets together with a piece of cling-film between them, put a liberal blob of epoxy in about the right spot on the inside of the upper hull, and closed it up and let the epoxy drool down and around the upper magnets.

I numbered each set so that the matching magnets always go together.

I will have to make sure that the camo pattern at the front edge of the hulls match, more or less, when I paint them up, but that's not really a big deal.

Just as an aside, I also glued a slug of lead in the hull bottom to give the plastic model a bit of heft. It makes it feel more satisfying in the hand, but it does have the disadvantage that the increased mass means that if I drop it on a hard surface it's more likely to smash into a bajillion pieces.

Sunday 3 March 2024

Found Terrain

 

When I was stacking the first batch of firewood for next winter, I kicked this little knotty chunk of twisted pine, and thought that it would make a good rocky outcrop.

So I painted it, and added some foam-flock mossy patches, and voila! A rocky outcrop.

Shown here with the 28mm Sergeant Measureby, to the left, and a pair of 15mm PSC plastic British paratroopers in front.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Churchill NA-75 (15mm)


 On the off-chance that we might get a Battlegroup campaign book for Italy before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I've been messing about with one of the estimable Mr Bergman's designs, a Churchill NA75.

I've done almost nothing to the model itself except to add some sockets to magnetize the turret, but I've added a commander figure based on the one I did for my Humber scout car.


I've got a troop of three printed and primed, and now I just have to remember how I painted the last Churchill I did.


I like the way it turned out, but I painted it some considerable time ago in 2018, and I didn't make any notes. So I'll have to work it out by guess and fading memory.

The commander figures in the left and centre vehicles came (I think) from Battlefront, while the one on the right is one I sculpted myself. It's a tad too small I think, but it'll do.


As a side-effect of this tinkering, I made some commander figures that I can insert into any future British vehicles. These are the first batch, in 15mm scale.

I've enlarged them slightly from the original design, so that they fit better with other commercial 15mm figures.

I'd like to make a version in a pixie suit as well, for 1944 onwards.

Sunday 18 February 2024

Bison


I've been messing about with the Sturmpanzer II "Bison" from TigerAce1945's Panzer II Pack, bumping up the detail here and there and refining a bit of the geometry.

His models have been a real boon, to me and to hundreds and thousands of others. Sure, I _could_ make one myself, but then I am very lazy.

The crew figures are a couple of 3dBreed artillerymen that I have edited a bit — I got rid of the loader's Y-yoke, and gave him a better-shaped helmet. Most 3dBreed figures have wide open angry mouths, and I had a fairly limited choice from those that don't.

This will go to give my 15mm Afrika Korps a bit more artillery support. Who knows, one day I may even get that army finished to a state where I could put it on the wargaming table.


2024-02-19

I've printed it a couple of times. The one behind I did before I noticed that it was missing a set of road wheels, so it's actually a bit smaller than it should be. I'll just have to pretend it's further away.

Ah well, I've used less accurate models on the wargames table before I guess; it's still eminently usable, and I doubt that any except the very pernickety will even notice as long as they're not right next to each other.


2024-02-23

I've been fiddling about in Blender, doing a quick procedurally generated terrain to put the model in. It's not really relevant to 3d printing, or at least, not for my purposes. But it's an interesting way of teaching myself a thing or two about Blender's node systems.

Thursday 15 February 2024

Wespe

 

I've been working on a 1:100 scale Wespe in Blender for the last couple of days. I actually started it quite a long time ago, but for whatever reason abandoned it, and I just happened upon the files again in my digital modeling folder.

I've always been quite fond of the Wespe, I like its compact neatness. It's not a blundering bloated behemoth like the Hummel. I saved up my pocket-money to buy a Tamiya 1/35 model of it when I was about 13 — now long gone, alas.

This model has been a bit of a headache, though no more than usual I suppose. I do need to hunt out some more pictorial references though.


I was in two minds about adding much interior detail in the fighting compartment. It does make it look better than an empty shell, but on the other hand it makes putting crew figures in there a bit trickier. The internal clutter I eventually came up with is entirely specious and made up, but it looks okay I think.


When I get a successful test print, I'll do a version in a firing posture with the gun elevated and the back door down.

I've designed it in such a way that the gun and superstructure can be printed separately from the hull, and the running gear as another separate component, so that should (fingers crossed) make printing relatively straightforward.

2024-02-16

I've put the STLs online. They're available at https://www.wargaming3d.com/product/wespe/


It printed well and went together easy-peasy, so that's a win.

I'd think that the assembly of this very simple kit should be fairly obvious, but just in case, I prepared this:

Assembly guide