Friday, 31 December 2010

Viva la revolución!

Happy new Gregorian calendar year! Here's to another orbit of the sun, more or less!

If you want gaming inspiration for 2011, you might start with the personal summaries of games played - or not - at Creepy Corridor, Fire Broadside!, ArmChairGeneral, Plastic Legions, Super Galactic Dreadnought and Mik's Minis, all of which cover various options.

Need your lists of bests? Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer has best bits in blogs, books and movies. Asking the Wrong Questions has opinions I trust on best and worst books, while shadowplay does movies that appeared only in alternate universes...

Papa JJ at diceRolla has something similar, a list unpublished posts. This seems to me dangerously like the approach Zanazaz took at Have dice, will travel... re iron spikes...

Resolutions abound, but the reading list at Huge Ruined Pile is a huge ambitious pile. If that helps put you in your place in time, see Slight Foxing for your place in existence.

Finally, there may or may not be an actual arrow of time, but there is an Arrow of Time at Tower of the Archmage. Impeccable timing.

With Earth history moving on, I thought you might also appreciate a few speculative timelines, elements of histories and/or info on calendars. Here they are then, by scope.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Big beasts

I don't do politics here, and definitely not party politics, but this post at Gene Expression hits above the belt. Can it be true?

If it is, I have a funny feeling I'm so conservative I'm actually liberal. Which is to say I'm so liberal I'm conservative. The spectrum's really a colour wheel after all. If not a sphere. Or a hypersphere.

We are large, we contain multitudes.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

All mines?

Here's a brief list of fictional mines and other mining-related resources, hopefully useful to someone at some point for settings, scenarios or terrain, in whatever kind of game or fiction. I'll update as I find or remember more, with your suggestions too if you have any.

Have a look at the original post for a few thoughts on how these or similar places might fit into games. With the length of the list as it is, they do seem relatively underused.

No kill

I'm working on a resource list that's nearly done, but this is too good not to show alone. Look out for more of those poor guys in red shirts, not one, not even two, but three.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Mine the gap

Remember kiddies, mines are dangerous. Just ask Thomas. And look at that terrain...


Monday, 27 December 2010

Gold struck

On the subject of gifts, a brief look at wealth, specifically mining in games. One of the three wise men gave gold and mining is a real ghost of past, present and future.

The past we know about - 2010 was a year the human cost really made the news. In the present we have the battle for rare earth metals, a big one - you could easily have some of these in whatever you're using to read this. For the future, if you think Branson et al are interested only in tourism and lifting, think again - a smart investor would be growing the technology to mine the moon and asteroids. There's money in them thar belts.

How to fit all of this into a game?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Foxing Day

We've all had some time with our gifts now, and probably been thinking about presents for ourselves and others plenty over the past few weeks. Johnathan at Ostensible Cat prefers not to list and I largely agree, while Desert Scribe at Super Galactic Dreadnought has thoughts on golden oldies (for Star Wars fans years could fall away at Back in '81). But how much have you thought about gifts in general?

I've mentioned The Log from the Sea of Cortez here once before. This is one of those books that keeps on giving. In the appendix Steinbeck suggests a defining quality of his close friend and mentor Ed Ricketts may have been the ability to receive. Steinbeck describes giving as a “a selfish pleasure”, but says receiving done well needs “a fine balance of self-knowledge and kindness”, “humility and tact and great understanding of relationships”, wisdom and even “a self-esteem”.

Ricketts is described as accepting a thing, but not taking it and keeping it as property, and association with him is said to have been “deep participation”. From reading the book as a whole, the authors – Ricketts included – seem to have an almost mythical view of synthesis and the non-teleological, the thing as it is.

As Steinbeck also says, giving can be “downright destructive”. We know this. In games plenty can be done with the fact. Where would Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 be without the corrupting gifts of Chaos? How about Tolkien's Rings of Power? They must have seemed like the perfect present at the time, for the lord who has everything. A DM/GM can use his or her players worst instincts against them, luring them into danger on the basis of greed or lust, or just giving them an item they can't not use...

Friday, 24 December 2010

Sleigh bells and whistles

I've held off for long enough.

If you have an interest in the physics of Santa Claus - not just that physique - then Science In My Fiction has an article for you.

Wondering how he'd look to an Inquisitor in the 41st millennium? Possibly the definitive answer is set out at Warhammer 39,999 in a humorous text of mysterious origin.

Also for fans of 40K - and anyone with a hand in worldbuilding - the trusty Just_Me at Bell of Lost Souls has an interesting article up, on holidays in the Imperium.

And as if that were not enough, the long-awaited Killzone update has finally arrived at Galaxy in Flames - forget the presents under the tree!

There are also more Christmas gifts waiting for you at various generous blogs.

No future

Intriguing evidence at Discover's Science Not Fiction blog that the future may be old hat.

Maybe there's truth in it. Tales from the Maelstrom are looking at adding Warhammer to their exclusively 41st millennium blog. Gorgonmilk is happy blurring 'past' and 'future' when developing a new setting. So is Mists of the Lost Continent with the mashup machine prototype, perfect for blending genres. ArmChairGeneral even sees a dragon in the Large Hadron Collider and opens the door for musings on progress and IT skills.

The eggnog may do strange things to us all. If so, I'll have to get some in.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Titillation red and pink

If your mind is still out on the red planet, Secure Immaturity has a review today of Total Recall. He's revisiting the work of Paul Verhoeven, and also covered Robocop recently. Yep, that means more nudity, and ultra-violence now too. But also sympathy for mutants. It needs mature reflection.

On the subject of nudity, I've been reflecting as maturely as I can. What follows some may find uncomfortable or even offensive - if so, skip this and the next eight paragraphs.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Games coming up

Games, games, games!

We're just looking for a good time, and that's as clear as can be - in recent posts I've mentioned the request at Destination Unknown for a fresh take on D&D as well as a great chance to get into Traveller. The New Year is imminent and with it reflections on the past and planning for the future. A great time to plant a figurative seed - perhaps a space seed for a truly bumper crop - in the fertile soil of the gaming mind.

In much the same way as everyone has a novel in them, I think every gamer is a budding games designer too. As evidence for this I cite the number of independent or homegrown games either already available or in development at blogs I visit regularly. Ever ready to support new growth, I thought you might like a report from... yes, the field.

Space, untimely

In the last post, on Traveller, I failed to mention the possible inspiration concept ships has up at the moment, in the form of spaceship environments. Take a look if you need a spark for anything space-based or even sci-fi.

Like what? Well, for space-based you could use the first part of the series on ships and spaceships here - 'A tall ship and a star' - as a launchpad; read through the comments for more ideas. The second part is still in the shipyard, but there's something related putting out shoots even as I type that should be out of the nursery in the next few hours.

While I'm here, I'll mention the current post over at Science In My Fiction, on the use of lasers. Apparently, space is the most feasible location if they have to be weapons.

Welcome Traveller

For anyone who hasn't already heard, DriveThruRPG is offering Starter Traveller for free until the end of the month. Rogue Trader or not, the classic Traveller is well worth a look.

If you'd like to know more, David at Tower of the Archmage has been blogging on aspects of the game for the past week or two.

Kobold at Waystar High Port has ideas if you're looking for inspiration for a campaign.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Left hanging

I do a lot of blog reading and come across all kinds of interesting posts, many of which are looking for some feedback. Today is no exception, with a wide range of subjects and much still open.

You're getting drafted in. Here we go then.

Cursed13 at The Dark Workshop has a special character for
40K he'd like a view on. The thoughts on development and the process he worked through are well worth a read anyway.

Cyborg Trucker has a question for anyone clued up about Imperial titans over at his Roleplaying and Wargaming Blog.
Look around while you're there - if you're like me, it's another good reason to wish you'd paid more attention in woodwork...

Monday, 20 December 2010

Mend and make do

The enterprising Zanazaz from Have dice, will travel... recently set the ball rolling on a bold new-and-used venture, the Scavenger's Depot.

It's up and running now and ready for exchange of anything sci-fi-, fantasy- or horror-related, from gaming materials and miniatures to books and posters, even toys. The first items await.

I've added it to the fuller spectrum blogroll on the left. If you blog, why not link up too? It might be too late for Christmas, but it could make dreams come true in the New Year.

When you're in the market, don't forget Santa Cruz Warhammer also has its Barter Bucket, which is an excellent place to search for Games Workshop products.

If even the sky is a landfill, this is the way to go.

Tron and on

More thoughts on Tron: Legacy and science, from someone who consulted on the film.

SF, lies and videotape

The assured Asking the Wrong Questions has another good review today, this time of Tron: Legacy. I hadn't got my hopes up about the film anyway, for the same hard knocks mentioned in the first paragraph, so the review should have been a comfortable read.

But it's far less comfortable factoring in the bulletin up today at OnFiction. If we trust the study - I don't know if I do - certain suspicions about mass media harden a touch more.

If you want to read around, Damien G. Walter also looked a day or two ago at the same basic subject, truth and beauty in sci-fi. I put my thoughts too.

Wondering then about Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie seems right, and it can only do good. Drathmere at the 40K Hobby Blog gives a view I can see a truth in.

A Renaissance man and his Good Day Today

David Lynch answers questions at The Guardian. Check out the interests, and the song.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Mapmaking merry (4)

We can all name worlds, real or imagined, and as gamers, writers and readers we've probably visited many in some way or other. I set a short snippet of fiction at Neptune a few posts back and suggested a 'retropia' on Triton. That's two, and still real ones.

Worldbuilding can be a big part of writing, roleplaying and wargaming - even if only for a campaign - and in sci-fi really does become about whole worlds. If anyone is building a world from scratch - in however much detail - they could well need a little help. If you're going big, plenty can be found at This Orb, a bold attempt I linked to at the snippet.

Our solar system is of course still the source of almost all the solid knowledge we have. To fill in the gaps that have appeared over the years or get up to date with recent developments, you could do worse than this amateur but highly ambitious animation.

Mercury inspires Mordian, and so gives us the Iron Guard? Well, maybe - and more.
It's strange in our backyards, but so much like home. It's "Little Gidding" by T. S. Eliot.

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Friday, 17 December 2010

From stardust to moondust and beyond

Regular readers know by now I have a bit of a thing for aliens and their potential reality. Here's a wonderful line from The BFG by Roald Dahl, coming out of nowhere in the book.

'I'll bet you is also finding it hard to believe in quogwinkles,' the BFG said, 'and how they is visiting us from the stars.'

I is not finding it all that hard to believe, even if living in an age of science has me demanding a proof of the thing, and one requiring multiple layers of trust.

For we dreamers, there's speculative fiction as well as action. Secure Immaturity today applies the usual analysis to a sci-fi staple in a stimulating article about Star Trek and metaphor. Not everyone's cup of tea it's admitted even there.

The blog as a whole might not seem to be one of ours, but the authors are as much like us as we are each other. After all, even the quogwinkles are made of stardust.

More jabbelling

The answers then to yesterday's quiz on The BFG by Roald Dahl.

  • crodscollop – in among the extras at the back of the version I'm reading (still) we're told the word means 'mouth-watering', but there's no definition in the text itself as far as I can see; it's used for the taste of a certain nationality and for me the vagueness is the joke
  • schnozzle – this is a noun, probably 'nose'
  • scuddle – a verb used to describe something ants do, almost certainly 'move' or 'walk', and most likely the BFG mispronouncing 'skedaddle' - what would it say about Dahl's creativity and passion for language and fun if he couldn't leave alone even a word as odd as that?
  • uckyslushyou know as well as I do now this is an adjective, probably meaning 'bad-tasting' or – in the context of the whole book – 'disgusting'; I'm glad The Happy Whisk was sensitive enough to peace among nations that we were spared the next sentence, in which the word is also used as a noun
  • whizzpopper – the explosive finale – this may be produced when drinking frobscottle, a fizzy drink in which the bubbles move downwards...

How did you do? I hope it wasn't a trogglehumper.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The BFG, not BFG

That's right, it's not Battlefleet Gothic. I really do mean The BFG, by Roald Dahl. The Happy Whisk reminded me I'd started re-reading it a few weeks back and still haven't finished. Go check out the blog and forget about eternal war for just a moment.

Now The BFG might seem completely unrelated to wargaming and roleplaying, but it's not. There's violence, giants and mysterious far-off lands in this book too. In fact, it's a tour de force both of and in imagination. The sense of hidden space is a highlight and even the stuff dreams are made of is finally revealed. If you have a copy, dig it out. In fact, if you have any Dahl, you're likely to enjoy the return journey, chiddler or not. It's Old School, and easily has what it takes to set off another great Renaissance.

Anyway, for now I thought it would be fun to test your memories of Dahl's neologisms and feeling for onomatopoeia. What do these words mean then? There actually might not be a definitive answer so forget absolute success.

  • crodscollop
  • schnozzle
  • scuddle
  • uckyslush
  • whizzpopper

Exunckly. And you was thinking you knew the langwitch...

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A tall ship and a star (1)

In The Log from the Sea of Cortez, we are told of a visit to Macy's in New York during which a strange observation was made. In the boat department over the course of an hour every man and boy and many women knocked thrice on each hull. Was this an unconscious testing, an act in assuring survival as ingrained as the pattern in the wood?

Ships then. Hard to leave them behind. Even when imagining the far future. On a world 70.9% covered with liquid, sailing will naturally inform our view of travel across vast open spaces. Not least when the dominant cultures here on Earth are still English-, Spanish- and French-speaking ones, cultures built also from interactions crossing oceans.

Ravelling yarns (1) - Plasma streaming

Something to start the whole thing off then. A near-future sci-fi snapshot complete with baffling but still largely comprehensible terminology, and a possible fantasy twist. It's a kind of pan-solar propaganda. Just for fun and hopefully inspiring in its reasonable wackiness. Questions, exclamations and criticism all more than welcome...

*      *      *      *      *      *

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Ravelling yarns

I've got it into my head to use the blog for something that might be more unusual for the non-roleplayers. Random snippets of writing on no particular subject. A chance to get some of my more coherent ideas out in some form or other, in an irregular way. I'm thinking bits of background for games that might or might not exist, as well as locations, characters or objects that could come in handy for anyone working with the imagination and at a loose end. That means DM/GMs, wargamers and writers. Basically the people that visit the blog. Things to get the creative juices flowing. Pretty much anything. A certain amount will be dross, maybe most - and possibly all - but it can't do any harm. You can always just ignore it.

How's that for a statement of intent?

If I feel the same way when the mood strikes, I'll put something up.

Roll-y poll-y

Don't forget ArmChairGeneral is interested in your thoughts on dice at the D6 post.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Compliments, complements, earth and Mars (2)

Here be musings inspired by the earthy and unearthly landscapes a few posts back.

You might have noticed that Ork miniatures are often shown by Games Workshop on an orange-brown desert landscape and have matching bases. A lot of players seem to do the same. I've always assumed it's because of Gorkamorka, a great game in which Orks fought for scrap on a remote planet after the space hulk they were travelling on crashed. It was a desert world and if I remember rightly, the colour change was first seen then.

Of course, colour theory may have played a part too. Colours opposite each other on the colour wheel are called complementary colours and these provide great contrast for each other. Orks have green skin, which means they will naturally look better on certain backgrounds, tending towards the red. Who says GW isn't smart? When it comes to design they know what they're doing. You can easily apply the same thinking, whatever the dominant colour on a given miniature. Unless the colour is octarine perhaps...

I was reminded of all of this recently by a discussion at diceRolla on a Raptors test model. The update in the next post and something seen at A Gentlemen's Ones then set me thinking more deeply about miniatures, landscape and roleplaying. I saw that rather than the base being an extension of the miniature and a link with the tabletop, the miniature is actually an extension of the base, and the base is a part of the game world.

This is definitely a subject big enough for the next part of 'When lives co-world'. It'll be along just as soon as I condense my thoughts. If you have any, I'd love to hear them.

Let's talk about six

The humble D6. Widely used in wargaming, less so in roleplaying and perhaps not taken as seriously as it might deserve. It's on my mind.

The argument for a higher numbered die - or a range of dice - is clear and apparently obvious, that the higher the number, the richer the reality. Maybe, but I would answer with this image at The Angry Lurker, and ask what it has to tell us. My comment there was this: "It's a fundamental law of a fictional universe. You can't get round that kind of thing." And that is what we're talking about here - fictional worlds. A DM/GM and players may not be operating at high magnifications, and may not need to. I'd argue the range of options we expect in any given situation - and are happy to be given - are fewer than we'd think. In gaming we're creating our own matrix, but we surely can't believe we do it in dice over imagination.

So what makes the D6 special? Here are some preliminary thoughts.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Porky models - Ork (3) - Body 1

Here then are the torso and legs of the first Ork, more than planned. I decided to keep it simple and avoid any cutting and repositioning for this first model, only adding elements. One of them, the extra armour plate, needed the torso and legs to be connected.

The pics first.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A word in your ear

Worth a read if like me you have too little time to keep up or even find the ones you might enjoy. There are so many out there that searching unaided is hard going. The last podcast I listened to was reviewed briefly in this post.

For podcasts on roleplaying, you could start your research with this page at RPG Bloggers, or this older list at Bibliophile Stalker.

I'd be very interested in a podcast for both wargaming and roleplaying, and I'm probably not the only potential new listener. If anyone can recommend one, please do.

Mapmaking merry (3)

Down In Places Deep, we're taken through the process of building a campaign map. The post not only has useful links and thinking, but comes hot on the heels of the BoLS campaign mention, so gets its own post. Fair? It was probably unfair to put so many in each of the earlier parts. If you haven't browsed the lists yet, part 1 is here, part 2 here.

They live among us (4) - The alien from Alien

Another part of the occasional series. So far we've had the intro, the sandworm of Dune and 'the enabling force'. All three can all be found with the series label.

Do not click on anything below this point unless you are an adult who is willing to be discomforted, possibly offended, and scared. There will be spoilers too.

It's the alien - or xenomorph if you prefer - the one from Alien. This must be one of the most coherent and discussed of all alien designs. We've probably all heard of H. R. Giger. In fact, more or less all we might expect to need for an understanding of the design can be found in this potentially offensive overview. This should be a very short post then - what can I say you don't already know?

Friday, 10 December 2010

Compliments, complements, earth and Mars (1)

In the last post I linked to a hex-board transformed into a crater field at Ogre Miniatures. If you want a similar landscape with or without hexes you could do worse than this felt game map from Hotz ArtWorks. More details hot off the presses at Miniature Review.

Or you could do it yourself. I've been looking for a chance to mention the hyper-realistic red planet board at Plastic Legions. This is it. Take a look at those colours! It could be Mars for pulp sci-fi lovers and players of the Adeptus Mechanicus - and the Necrons..? WorldWorksGames has an alternative approach which should be less labour-intensive.

Back at some near future point with something related, on colour theory.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Mapmaking merry (2)

The flight paths of Porky's Expanse! may be growing slowly into bustling space lanes, but the mission remains the same. In just the same way, tenuous links may become major thoroughfares and well-worn dirt tracks be paved over, with purpose unchanged. Imagined landscapes are made real.

The first post in the series offered ideas found treading the paths of cyberspace, a range of approaches to mapmaking for wargaming and roleplaying, from 2D to 3D. This second post will too, but with an emphasis on giving an idea for a landscape a fixed final form. Stunning vistas await. Click and lose yourself somewhere out of this world.

Mainly fantasy 2D

Fantasy and sci-fi 2D / 3D

Fantasy, modern and sci-fi 3D

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Porky models - Ork (2) - Stikkbomb 1

Determined Dave from Roll With It got the right end of the stick.

Here are the parts for an extra stikkbomb we saw hidden in the three arms.

They are - from top to bottom - the ring from the base of the slugga, a section of the axe haft, the barrel of the shoota and the remainder of the axe-wielding arm itself.

Here's how they went together.

The edges of the can are a little sharp so I finished the binding with some greenstuff. I also tinkered a bit, extending the apparently superfluous strap on the upper arm and adding a bracelet with an Ork tooth emerging from the glove.

A view from the bottom up.

And top down.

The strap extension is just a short length of greenstuff worked onto and over the plastic of the strap, shaped and folded over as if hanging stiffly. The tooth was made by playing with a bulb of wet greenstuff and carefully working opposite sides out into tip and root. The bracelet was a length of greenstuff broken down into short strands, which were then stretched out thinner and carefully twisted together.

Having done this, I would repeat the advice given in the tutorial at From the Warp - the greenstuff should be kept wet. I simply submerged the amount I was working with in a saucer of water. The one downside of it being wet is that it will also not so easily stick to the surface of the model, so when working on the strap and bracelet I had to be sure I had a secure connection at the first fixing point before I could continue shaping.

Monstrous teeth, bracelets and straps have their place in all kinds of games in which miniatures are or can be used. I hope the imagination has been stirred.

Next up, a torso for this growing Ork boy.

Shots of the shoota

I've added a few minor elements to the shoota and put up a handful of new pics at the original post.

This is an oblique view of the shoulder strap, the shot most notably absent the first time round.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Discussing terms (1) - Beer and pretzels

Since I started keeping up with the hobby online, I've come across plenty of terms and trends in language use I'd never seen before. Many of the regional differences and the markers of a different approach are a source of interest and pleasure. Unfortunately not all of them. The language of violence sometimes gets a bit out of hand for example.

I'm not especially thin-skinned or prudish, but I do think that we underestimate the power of words. I'll mention George Orwell here yet again, for his Newspeak. If you haven't already thought about it, I'd say take a good look and consider how the concept applies to us. For argument's sake, I'm going to play devil's advocate occasionally and be a pedant about hobbyspeak. Those who know Porky know this side of him well.

Field of dreams

I saw something a day or so ago in moving from blog to friendly blog even more haunting than usual. Here it is, at Fire Broadside! in the fuller spectrum, a very fine gaming blog.

How do you feel about that picture? It's not there by accident - games designers are smart people, whatever we might sometimes imagine. Games Workshop are UK-based, a land with an identity still rooted very much in the rural and a liberal approach to land access. If you've ever hiked over farmland, you might feel a field is a funny place, especially when blood sugar level is low, muscles ache and higher functions yield to lower. Do we sense in such moments echoes of the wonder and fear of the savannah?

Humans have cultivated the land for 10,000 years or more. That kind of acquaintance gets under the skin. We've had a lot of adventures in among the crops or bound up with them, from rolling in the hay to struggling with 'pests', 'outsiders' and 'landowners', all of which terms are wide of the mark. Remember this Fighting Fantasy gamebook? Is that a scarecrow? Scarecrows are uncanny, and a fantastical setting doesn't help. Or maybe not so fantastical after all - national identity is often bound up with an understanding of land, and the landscape in that last clip does look familiar. Then again, national feeling can be just as powerful even when freed of the land, as George Orwell shows us here.

Sting presents a sunnier side, or does he? Here's a better version in my view - Sting liked it plenty - by Eva Cassidy. The shadows are definitely there if the sun is shining...

It gets into wargaming too of course. A while back the guys at Tales from the Maelstrom ran a battle at an agricultural facility in the 41st millennium. That's over 50,000 years.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Porky models - Ork (1) - Shoota 1

So you've had plenty of time to think about that puzzle.

Here's the pic again - last chance.

So where could they be cut and how could the pieces be used?

This is how I chose to do it.

Working with miniatures - a warning

Before I post any of the modelling I've been doing, it seems a good idea to post a warning. Not everyone has built a model from a plastic kit, let alone tried converting. Working with miniatures is not always easy, and can be dangerous. I wouldn't want the keen among you to try replicating or improving on what I produce before you're ready.

I'm unlikely to be doing anything groundbreaking or even especially difficult for many hobbyists. But difficulty is a question also of knowledge and experience. I started working with miniatures when I was quite young and feel very comfortable building and converting, especially using a modelling knife. I know my limits and we all need to. You too. By all means extend these - of course - but first prepare well, concentrate fully, work at a reasonable speed, be patient, learn from what you see and feel and most of all work safely at all times. Your safety is more important than a model, or a piece of a model. If you damage the model, you can repair it or start again. If you damage yourself, repair may take time and you may not be able to start again.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Porky's new Orks

That's right, I have before me a new box of plastic Ork boyz from Games Workshop.

As most 40K players would no doubt admit, the Orks have a great model range. It's been developed over more than two decades and has really matured. For me the current style is the best it's ever been so working with these models is a little piece of hobby heaven. That said, I know some players prefer a classic look. If you do, there are plenty of old Citadel catalogue pages at The Stuff of Legends (listed also in memory banks on the right), though sadly a lot of the models shown are probably not produced any more.

While GW has given us a lot to work with I think more can always be done. There's so just so much background and so many cool ideas. John Blanche once admitted he can't sit down to paint a model without first changing it in some way. I like this approach. For me the basic kit is a starting point. Take something amazing and make it more true to your own vision, more personal. We're all the richer for it. After all, 40K is a hobby of imagination and
conversions have always been encouraged. Remember that legendary Grav-Attack Vehicle?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Porky does some modelling

I recently co-wrote that really long article at Bell of Lost Souls with Brent from Strictly Average. Maybe you're still reading it? In it I wrote a lot about the community and the hobby, and I talked about my own experiences a bit too. Here's the key quote:

With the intricate ecosystem of ideas I've come to value most of all imagination. I've decided that for me personally the reconciliation can only come with model and greenstuff in hand, making the individual dream real, but within a caring, sharing community.

Big words.

I want to show I meant them. The plan then is to live the dream publicly (very publicly) with Porky's Expanse! as the platform. Mainly I want to show what can be done with just the components of a plastic kit, a modelling knife and greenstuff. I also want to prove that great results can come from imagination, a little thought and steady improvement.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

When lives co-world (1)

These past few days I've been pondering the many imaginary worlds of wargamers and roleplayers, and more specifically how we interact with these spaces.

So what's cooking? Well, that rather depends...

It starts with Games Workshop's unreleased Stormraven, a possible pic of which has emerged. Opinion is divided. Two discussions at Bell of Lost Souls (one and two) show some commenters, such as Snord, Tynskel and our very own Satiran, are able to recognise in their positive critiques that compromises are necessary in sharing a world. In wargaming the world is more fixed and the wargamer accepts it more or less as it is.

In roleplaying the world is more fluid, perhaps frighteningly so. There are advantages. To take the Stormraven example, the DM or GM has only to show a good likeness (from concept ships?) and let the players imagine their own details. This is both more work and less, for everyone involved, but it is liberating. Then again, having a physical model does help with interactions, which is why miniatures and 2D or 3D maps have their place in RPGs too. The extent of the crossover is surprising, and I tried to reflect it here.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

They live among us (3) - The enabling force

Carrying on the occasional series. Part one here. Part two here. Or use the series label.

I was planning to keep the series relatively short and jump straight to the late 1970s and Alien, but then I realised what I'd be missing. Not least what I'd consider one of the mainstream alien lifeforms least considered in the mainstream. Which fiction?


It's 2001: A Space Odyssey of course. I'll say now it will be the film only. For discussing influence, it seems best. Despite close collaboration between author and director, more minds ultimately shaped movie than book, and this series is about the mood of the time, mass experience. I will include spoilers, if the idea can be said to apply to this film.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow blows in

Snow has fallen here too. Forget wintry mix - it's almost a blizzard. The freeze begins.

The dramatic and changeable climate was one of the features of Port Blacksand I loved most. (For more on the city and my feelings about it see yesterday's post.) Being a seaport, it was explained in Blacksand!, meant blazing sunshine could easily give way to a pea soup fog or heavy snow with little in the way of warning. Its weather anchored the city geographically, gifted it character and made Blacksand more of a living space.

The same was true for the setting of Games Workshop's Necromunda, the polluted, half-abandoned domes sunk deep in the base of the towering megacity Hive Primus.

The Outlanders supplement to the original boxed game contained rules for weather conditions and related events. Hazy memory tells me it had gales to topple gangers from walkways, true acid rain, electrical discharges, toxic sludge and the hivequake. The same book also featured a superb bestiary section, describing the Underhive's bizarre flora and fauna. My favourites were the ash clams waiting to snare the careless. As much as the evocative texts, all of this potential served to make the landscapes real.

If the game sounds interesting - it is - the latest version of the rulebook is available online or printed and bound, the current miniatures are here and the Eastern Fringe is a good place to find out more. Some older material may have gone, but it's not forgotten.

With winter setting in and our landscapes changing around us, the senses are caught unawares, memories grow vivid and imagination wakes. It seems the right time to ask: how do the games you play have you breathing the air of the setting?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Mapmaking merry (1)

Wandering the labyrinthine byways of the internet of late, I seem to have taken a lot of very right turns. Even without a map to guide myself by I've come across reams of maps. The one that set off this post was one that inspired me long ago. It was a city map...


That's right, Port Blacksand of Allansia, star of the Fighting Fantasy solo gamebooks and Advanced Fighting Fantasy system. Do you shudder with pleasure, or fear?

I relived the memories at Brighton Roleplayers, specifically at their post on urban settings in fantasy. While you're there, check out Sigil too. Right up my alley. They have the map from Blacksand!, and if you want a list of streets, there's one here. (I've added this useful wiki to memory banks in the right-hand column.) We met the city first in City of Thieves, the solo gamebook, helpfully reviewed here at Fighting Dantasy.

But this only set me off. I think we all love urban maps, whether campaign maps, adventure maps or criss-crossed tabletops, for roleplaying or wargaming. So Porky went snuffling for new or lesser-known options, and presents a subjective selection below.

Mainly fantasy 2D

Mainly sci-fi 2D / 3D

Many genre / fantasy 3D

No dead ends there - a host of atmospheric destinations - but stay in the lamplight!

So what have I missed? What grand thoroughfares, cramped streets and dank alleyways do you frequent? More to the point, which would you like to?