Author Archives: The Angry Piper

Monster May(hem) Straggler: The Dung Monster!

First: Thanks to everyone who took part in Monster May(hem), formerly called Monster Month, but now irrevocably changed, thanks to Roger. You guys are awesome, and there were many impressive and inspirational submissions. It’s my hope to continue this annually. I’ve hosted some challenges in the past, but this one seems to be the one that resonated best with people. In addition to my good buddies Roger (Dick Garrison) and Jeremy (Carrion Crow), I got to meet some new hobbyists, like Matt from PM Painting and Ken from Blue Moose Arts; as well as deepen my acquaintance with Dave from Wargames Terain Workshop, Harry from War Across the Ages, and returning participant Coyotepunc, who once converted a Toob tapir into a wizard (still love that). So, bring on Monster May(hem) 2021!

One of the great things about Zoom meetings where I don’t need to be on camera is that I can do whatever I want while “listening” to whatever drivel someone spouts off. This morning, I decided to paint one of the two monsters I didn’t get to by the end of the month (i.e. yesterday).

This is the “Dung Monster”, by Reaper. It’s their version of the Otyugh, a classic (if somewhat disgusting) Dungeons and Dragons monster. Otyughs live in filth, mostly trash and shit. This is what they usually eat, too (unless some tasty adventurers are doing a dump dive); so you can imagine the smell coming out of that massive cakehole must be pretty horrific.

This miniature came together quite by accident. I wasn’t planning on painting him for Monster May(hem)…in fact, I forgot I even had him. That’s because he was part of that same Craigslist lot that gave me the Marauder Giant I painted yesterday (2 posts in 2 days. BOOM.). I accidentally mixed too much Magic Sculpt while filling the gaps in the giant, so I had to use it lest it dry out (that shit’s not cheap). I rooted around in my insanity pile…kind of like an otyugh roots around in well, shit…and found him. I put him together and thought…”well, if there’s time this month…”

I decided there was time. This thing wasn’t gonna sit on my desk for another year, not when I had an interminably boring Zoom meeting to sit through. So I painted him.

This guy is actually a pretty old Reaper miniature, and he’s all metal, as his current price tag will attest ($12.99!) For those of you who want your own shit monster but don’t want to pay that much, you can find a different version in the Bones range for about 4 bucks. It also looks quite good, but different.

So, how did I achieve this particular shade of putrescence? I gave him a base coat of Vallejo Brown Violet (the violet part of which eludes me), then highlighted him with Army Painter Hemp Rope, followed by Army Painter Sulfide Ochre. Then, I gave it a final highlight of Citadel Zamesi Desert before washing the whole thing in Citadel Athonian Camoshade. Not bad for a couple of hours work, and certainly preferable to sitting through a Zoom meeting without painting anything.

I still have one monster on my desk that I didn’t get to last month. You can expect to see it soon, because like this ugly fellah here, that guy isn’t sitting on my desk for another year, either.

Fee Fie Fo Fum!

I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!

Not surprising, really, since I know of at least three Englishmen who frequent Dead Dick’s Tavern. Only too likely one of them would leave their spoor behind. Of course, I would never grind their bones to make bread. That’s just silly.

This is the classic Marauder/Citadel Giant, and he is my “Big ‘Un” for Monster May(hem) this year. This guy came out circa 1989 or so; and for decades he was “the” Warhammer giant; there wasn’t another until well after this one ceased production. I’m pretty sure he was sculpted by one or both of the Perry brothers, but I could be wrong. (Edit: I was wrong. A simple Google search turned up it was sculpted by Aly Morrison. Thanks to Matt and shame on me.) Whoever sculpted him did a great job. (It was Aly Morrison.) I’ve always loved this model. As an Orc and Goblin player back in the day, I always wanted one, but could never lay hands on it.

Then, a few years ago, I bought a miniatures lot off a guy on Craiglist who was getting out of the hobby (which was a pretty aggravating experience, but eventually turned out ok). This giant was in there, assembled and primed white (which I HATE). Back in 2018, when I first decided May was Monster Month (remember when it was called that?) , I put this guy on my desk to paint him. I decided to do my Orc Warlord on Wyvern instead, and there the giant sat until now. Every once in a while, when I squeezed out too much paint, I would dab some on him somewhere. He looked a mess, and I made no progress, always telling myself I’d get him done eventually.

Well, he’s done. Mostly.

About halfway through painting him this month, I noticed he’s incomplete. He’s missing two pieces: a keg which he has slung around his hip (where the rope meets in thie picture above), and a sword that attaches to his other hip. The guy included a huge bag o’bitz in the Craigslist purchase. Guess which two bitz were not there?

I guess it doesn’t look terrible without the keg. And who needs a sword when you can rip a tree out of the ground and swat someone with it? Anyway, I did what I could with him, and I’m pretty happy with the result. I’m most happy that he’s DONE, and I can remove him from my painting desk forthwith.

I know I just said it a few paragraphs ago, but I’ll say it again. I love this model. No computer sculpting or 3D printing here, and no resin or plastic to be found. This model is all metal, and reminds me of a time when transporting your army doubled as a biceps workout. Bring back those days…

Here’s a scale comparison to a Reaper Hill Giant (also all metal, though they make him in Bones now), and an Empire Greatsword. I know the current GW giant is even bigger, but I think this guy is just right.

And that brings Monster May(hem) to a close…or does it? It is currently 7:30 a.m. at Dead Dick’s Tavern. That means there’s still 16 hours or so left in May…and I have two unpainted monsters still sitting on my desk. Can I get one painted before midnight?

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Since last post, Matt painted yet another monster: the cloak fiend, and Dave sculpted and painted a Bantha for some Star Wars gaming! Plus, I forgot to mention Harry painted some unicorns and treekin over on his site, along with his High Elf dragon!

Next month is Forgotten Heroes over at Carrion Crow’s Buffet, and I can’t wait. But for now, there’s still time to paint some monsters!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

My Dinner with Mugato

The following excerpt is from my forthcoming book, Domo Arigato, Mr. Mugato, soon to be available at fine booksellers everywhere.

From a small part in a popular 60’s science fiction show to the entertainment tour-de-force he is today, Mugato has been a giant on stage and screen over the last five decades. I caught up to him in London, where he was in the midst of a two-month engagement at the Southwark Playhouse. His portrayal of Torvald in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House has been called a masterclass in the Stanislavsky method.

AP: Mr. Mugato. It’s truly an honor. Thank you for meeting with me.

M: Please. Call me Mugato.

AP: Thanks. Sorry, I’m just a little nervous.

M: Don’t worry. I don’t bite. Not anymore, anyway (laughs).

AP: Do you mind if we talk about Star Trek?

M: Why would I mind?

AP: Well, it’s just that some people have said…

M: That I don’t like talking about it? Nah. I’d like to think I’ve done better work, that’s all.

AP: Of course. But…

M: Ask your questions, kid.

The role that started it all…

AP: Do you remember how you got the part?

M: Right place, right time, I guess. In ’67 I was working as a caterer in the Hollywood hills. Serving drinks, wiping tables…you know. One night I was working a party at Roddenberry’s house. He must have liked my look, because he told me to come to Desilu the next day. Couple of hours after that, I was tackling Bill Shatner on planet Mongo, or wherever the hell they were that week (laughs).

AP: And from there a star was born.

Mugato and Lucille Ball.

M: Not quite…I got offered a lot of parts after that, became the toast of the town. Everyone wanted me around. I was Hollywood royalty. But then came the seventies…

AP: Right. The blacklisting, because of the war.

M: Well, they didn’t call it that, not officially. Everyone was still raw from the fifties. But, Jane (that’s Jane Fonda; I call her Jane) Jane and I sure as hell couldn’t get any good work once everyone found out how we felt about the war. If that’s not a blacklist, I don’t know what it is.

AP: Still, you managed to find work…

M: Sure. My unique look gave me an advantage. I’m lucky. I’m a humanoid, apelike creature with a lethally venomous bite, so obviously I can play just about anything. It’s tough to typecast me, so no one ever tried. Melvin hired me, then Russ…it was an interesting time.

AP: You mean Melvin Van Peebles? And Russ Meyer, right?

M: You got it. Mel gave me that part in Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and Russ gave me the lead in Watch It Jiggle.

AP: Do you regret any of those movies?

M: Nope. Both gave me the chance to show my range as an actor, and Russ helped me understand that I like boobs. (Chuckles).

AP: About that…over the years you’ve been linked romantically to Raquel Welch, Uschi Digard and Serena Grandi, to name a few. But the most persistent rumor is that Carly Simon’s famous song, You’re So Vain, is about you. Is it?

M: I dunno. We dated for a while. You’d have to ask Carly. Anyway, I don’t kiss and tell.

AP: In an April, 1987 interview with Cinema Verite, Stanley Kubrick claimed that the five greatest actors of the last 100 years were Olivier, Welles, Streep, Day-Lewis…and Mugato.

M: I saw it. That was kind of Stan to say.

AP: What do you think?

M: I mean, I’m flattered, but I think Bobby D and Marlon got screwed (laughs).

AP: Yet you never worked with Kubrick, even though it’s rumored he had you in mind for Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.

M: Yeah…Stan thought I’d be all over that because of my not-so-private stance on Vietnam. But I was ready to move on from that. I was doing a lot of coke at the time, too. That’s probably what cost me the lead in Children of a Lesser God earlier that year. Still, Bill Hurt did ok, I guess. So did D’onofrio.

AP: That brings us to the nineties…

M: Yeah, look…not to be rude, but I have a curtain call in 10 minutes. I do mostly theatre now. Back to basics. But remember, I didn’t get my start in the theatre. I’m doing things in reverse. Make sure you write that in your book.

AP: OK, one last question?

M: Sure.

AP: Why don’t you go to Star Trek conventions?

M: You’re kidding, right? (sighs). Look, I was practically a kid when Star Trek aired. Bill, De, Leonard…they were ok to me, but I wouldn’t call them my friends. Jimmy Doohan and I once ran into each other over at Pink’s, getting hot dogs. That was years later. By then I was a bigger name than him. But hey, Jimmy was all right.

The short version is that those guys and me…we only worked together long enough for me to attack Kirk and then get disintegrated. There wasn’t much chance of a recurring role after that happens to your character, and I was in demand elsewhere. I guess I’ll always be grateful to Roddenberry for giving me my shot. But I took it and managed to do pretty well. I managed to make some decent coin in this business, and I’m not looking back. Those conventions are just…sad. Anyway, thanks for dropping by, kid.

Thus, for a brief time, I had been in the presence of a master of his craft. I still had a million other questions for Mugato, but that was undeniably a dismissal. Regretfully, I shook his three-clawed paw and took my leave.

Monster May(hem) is winding down, and I’m happy to say I still have one more contribution to make, most likely on the last day. But…it’s my big ‘un this year, so if all goes well I will be happy indeed.

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Harry posted some pictures of his completed High Elf Dragon, Matt made the most terrifying (and clever) monster of all, and Ken completed a couple of Displacer Beasts that look great! That just leaves His Crow-ness, and I have faith he’ll deliver by the end of the month. (But even if he doesn’t, he’s been up to some pretty impressive Dr. Who gaming and diorama-making over on his site. You should go there and see.)

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Giant Scorpion

Monster May(hem) continues with my latest submission: a Giant Scorpion (and some smaller, yet still quite large scorpions). from Reaper. These Bones miniatures are define what an “impulse buy” is to me. I had no need for either the huge scorpion or its little brothers, yet I bought them to “pad” an order to get free shipping, as I recall. I’ve had these for a few years now. Since I’m finding any excuse NOT to work on the big monster I have vowed to paint by month’s end, I painted these guys instead.

The good news is that even though I don’t really have a use in mind, much like Rrrraaaaaang, this beastie can be quite versatile.

Kip Kincaid and Sarah Litmus are beginning to regret exploring Planet X…
Perhaps Lara should have done more research on why it’s called “The Temple of Stingy-Sting-Sting.”
The wizard said hunting for spell components was quick and easy work. The wizard lied.
Epitaph: “Clean Head” McGee. Never backed down from a fight.

Matt from PMPainting just completed an amazing-looking Cthulhu model for his third submission of the month, and Harry painted a Warhammer High Elf Dragon, after painting a Wood Elf Dragon just last month. Now I literally have no more excuses not to tackle my own big fellah…but I’ll probably find one before long.

Check out all the other participants in Monster May(hem). Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Happy Painting!

I Blame Roger!

And you should, too. Monster Month is now officially called Monster May(hem). BECAUSE OF HIM.

Moving on, this month’s challenge is shaping up quite well, with lots of submissions and more to come! I couldn’t be happier! Maybe I’ll turn this into an annual challenge, like Forgotten Heroes, the “rules” of which I eagerly await, Mr. Crow…

Check out the other sites that host submissions in the blogroll, below. Ken from Blue Moose Arts has done a stellar job on a classic Grenadier dragon, while the aforementioned Roger has begun sculpting a monster from an old Hammer film (and it looks awesome). Matt from PM Painting has completed a second submission…one strangely familiar to this challenge, back when it was just me and it was called Monster Month…and may even have a third for us by month’s end. I’m hoping to get two or three more done myself, but we’ll see just how much I can accomplish!

In other news, I was looking around my man cave of miniatures when I realized I have painted a lot of them in my day. Not all of them are worthy of a blog post, neither do I have much to say about some of them after they’re painted…but upon the suggestion of others I have started an Instagram account.

This is my first foray into social media, as until now I have had no reason whatsoever to care what other people have for lunch every day or any wish to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in 30 years (I still don’t). Some may see this as purely self-aggrandizing (sorry, that still annoys me), and maybe it is. Put simply, it’s a way to share my hobby with others quickly and with minimum effort, and to meet other painters and see what they’re up to.

Here is my Instagram account.

There are only about a dozen posts up there now, but I’ve already seen some very cool paintjobs, and I even discovered a new podcast I like a lot. It’s called Tale of the Manticore, and it’s a mashup between actual play Basic D&D and a dark fantasy novel. The guy who creates it decided he would write a story, make all the characters, and then let the dice determine everything. No one is safe, and it’s gotten pretty hairy already. Brings back a lot of memories of the fleeting nature of being a first-level character. I binged the first 6 episodes over the last 2 days. Check it out!

While you’re at it, check out all the other participants in Monster May(hem). Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Beware the Owlbear!

The sounds of pursuit fill you with terror as you try to flee. You can hear the beast gaining on you. There’s no outrunning it! You look back in panic. The ground shakes and trees sway wildly as its enormous form crashes through the brush! It spies you, its prey…and it’s beak opens wide, giving forth a blood-curdling shriek of maddened rage:

“HOOOO! HOOOO!”

My second submission for Monster Month, a classic Dungeons and Dragons monster and one of my personal favorites: The Owlbear! The product of magical crossbreeding of an owl and a bear, this ill-tempered monstrosity attacks anything it sees on sight and fights to the death. It’s the bane of low-level adventuring parties everywhere!

This owlbear comes from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, which is a line I can’t say enough good things about. They’re inexpensive, digitally sculpted, and generally very good-looking, especially the monsters. I’m less jazzed about the personalities (character classes, etc.), but YMMV.

The miniature was easy to paint and practically highlighted itself. The texture of the feathers and fur takes washes and drybrushing quite easily. I think it took me about 2 hours or so, which is pretty fast for me.

I still have four projects I’d like to get to this month, but realistically it’s probably not going to happen…so I have to prioritize. There’s one big one I really want to complete because I’ve been staring at it forever!

Check out all the other participants in Monster Month. Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Happy Painting!

The Coming of…Rrrraaaaaang!!!!!

Beware! Despair! Rrrraaaaaang is upon us!!!  Rrrraaaaaang, Destroyer of Worlds! Rrrraaaaaang, Bringer of Doom! Rrrraaaaaang, Devourer of Civilizations! Rrrraaaaaang! Rrrraaaaaang! RRRRAAAAAANG!!!!!!!

A bit of background: when I was in college, I spent a fair amount of time in the Fine Arts building, as one of my best friends was an illustration major. One day, I noticed something odd affixed to a wall in the main lounge. It was an orange. Someone had drawn a mean face on the peel and stuck it on a hook. They put a small, open box below the orange. It contained several coins of varying denominations. This, proclaimed a nearby sign, was Rrrraaaaaang, and he was a fearful god. Only through donations could Rrrraaaaaang be appeased.

Well, Rrrraaaaaang remained on his hook throughout the entire school year, long past when he became a withered, hardened husk of an orange with a sunken, glaring face. I think the custodians must have had a sense of humor; either that or, like the art students, they feared Rrrraaaaaang’s wrath should his physical body be molested in any way. I think there may have been about $2.00 in coins in that box by the end of the year, which is pretty impressive, considering college students are notoriously poor, and many are not above stealing change to raid a vending machine. Even so, none dared to defile the offerings to Rrrraaaaaang and risk his displeasure.

Rrrraaaaaang did not return the next semester. He vanished into the ether, as gods often do. He offered no explanation to those of us he left behind. I firmly believe Rrrraaaaaang will return one day, to visit divine retribution upon us all.

Until that time, I bring you my version of the great and terrible Rrrraaaaaang. My Rrrraaaaaang is an early Reaper miniature, Conjunctivus, the eye beast. He is a versatile monster, able to bring death and destruction in a variety of game settings.

They said nothing could make the Galacteers and the Imperials put aside their hostilities…but both fear Rrrraaaaaang!
Foolish mortals! Now you face Rrrraaaaaang!
“By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, Wong! My wards have failed! Rrrraaaaaang is upon us!
On Planet X, Biff Banning and Sheila Starr unwittingly awaken…Rrrraaaaaang!!!!

This miniature has been awaiting completion for years. In fact, I began composing a Rrrraaaaaang post in April of 2018, and he already had a basecoat on him back then. I’m glad he’s finally done, and I hope I can get to some other long-incomplete projects before the end of Monster Month.

Check out all the other participants in Monster Month. Dave Stone converted an awesome Kroot beast for Warhammer 40K, then did an amazing paint job on an Oriental Dragon he sculpted himself! That’s two submissions, one more than me so far, and I’m the guy HOSTING the challenge! Way to go, Dave! Coyotepunc completed a Reaper Frost Giant and it looks great! Matt painted a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath named Tracy. (Really!) Carrion Crow plans on painting some miniatures sculpted by Dick Garrison himself, another participant! Visit everyone’s blog and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Back to the painting table!

Gentlemen, Paint Your Monsters!

Monster Month has officially started! Don’t let the title of this post exclude anyone. You don’t need to be a gentleman to participate. Welcome, peasantry of all genders!

I have some ambitious projects I hope to complete by month’s end, including two projects that were started YEARS ago. When all is done, I hope to have finished four monsters in total. I’m also in the middle of painting more Trek miniatures, and don’t want to abandon them, either…we’ll have to see how things turn out.

Below are links to all the hobbyists who have agreed to take part in the Monster Month challenge. Don’t see your name? That’s because you didn’t let me know! Fret not, anyone can jump in anytime. Just leave me a comment or shoot me an email (angrypiper@angrypiper.com) with a link to your blog or website and I will include you forthwith!

I’ve prattled on enough. Here there be monsters!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well.

Happy Painting!

Star Trek Adventures: The Big Sleep Part 3

With the Cardassians powering up their disruptor banks and the Ferengi vessel responding in kind, things were not going well. Remarkably, Commander Logan managed to convince the leaders of both ships to meet aboard the Adventure, to see if they could somehow resolve their differences without armed conflict.

Daimon Nogrix and Gul Drazel met across the table in Captain Boardman’s ready room. Commander Logan took the lead and tried to negotiate a peaceful resolution, mindful of her own away team aboard the alien cylinder. Nogrix began to angle for the best deal he could, a deal which would include, ideally, sole possession of the object and the protection of the Adventure. It soon became clear that Gul Drazel had no intention of negotiating anything. He once again insisted that the mysterious object was the property of the Cardassian Union, and that he fully intended to destroy the Prized Possession for their previous attack on a Cardassian vessel. Staring daggers at Nogrix, Drazel abruptly declared that the meeting was over and left the room, transporting back to his flagship, the Sindral.

This left Nogrix alone with Captain Boardman and Commander Logan, a situation he found to his liking, at least until Lieutenant Beta informed the Captain that the Sindral had broken ranks with the other two Cardassian ships and set a course inbound towards the science outpost on New Coriolanus. While the crew discussed this development, the other two Galor-class ships powered up their weapons and opened fire on the Prized Possession.

Meanwhile, aboard the alien cylinder, Commander Fulexian had his hands full; a Ferengi salvage team had covertly beamed aboard and had taken up positions around the away team. The crew was not prepared for an assault, as they weren’t expecting any trouble when they initially transported over. Acting quickly, Lt. Commander Suvak decidd to modify the mass spectrometer to emit a high-frequency sound wave, inaudible to the crew but overwhelming to sensitive Ferengi ears. Assisted by Chief Specialist J’zhara, Suvak managed to make his engineering modifications successfully. The entire Ferengi salvage team collapsed, stunned!

Fulexian gave orders and the Ferengi were quickly disarmed. With this threat dealt with, he turned his attention back to the hatch. He could find no obvious way to open it, and it defied brute force attempts. While they searched for a solution, Suvak and Ensign Tamral tuned their attention to the mysterious consciousnesses they could sense all around them. It’s was as if they were in a darkened theater; aware of the other patrons and hearing their whispered conversations, but they could not make out any meaning or message.

Suvak decided to attempt communication by means of a Vulcan mind-meld. As there was no physical being present, he attempted to meld directly with the cylinder. Ensign Tamral assisted him with her empathic abilities, but the mind-meld was unsuccessful, revealing only that the consciousnesses aboard the cylinder were concentrated behind the hatch, deeper within the object, despite there being no detectable life signs. They didn’t have much time to ponder this, however; as Ensign Tamral sensed the presence of a more immediate problem; a team of Cardassians just transported over to the cylinder. Their intentions were most definitely hostile.

Understanding the Sindral posed a threat to the Federation science outpost, Captain Boardman leapt into action. Leaving Commander Logan in command of the Adventure, he took the remaining runabout, the Yoruba, and set off in pursuit of the Sindral. His intent was to evacuate the science outpost using the Yoruba and the runabout they left at the outpost. It was a really stupid plan, and Boardman was never seen again. Most likely he’s counting lights in a Cardassian prison somewhere.

(The group had previously discussed getting rid of Captain Boardman and promoting Commander Logan to captain, as Boardman was more of a hindrance than an asset to group play. My reasoning for having an NPC captain is because I wanted to avoid having one player dictate the actions of all the characters. My heart was in the right place, but Boardman just got in the way. I was going to kill him off in the coming battle, but the group decided his fate for me. This was much funnier.)

The Ferengi Marauder traded fire with the two Cardassian ships. Commander Logan ordered Red Alert status and Lt. Commander Pak raised shields. Unfortunately for everyone, Daimon Nogrix was still aboard the Adventure, not having had an opportunity to transport back to the Prized Possession before both ships raised shields. He immediately made himself a nuisance on the bridge. I spent some Threat to add the Scenic Trait: Annoying Ferengi on the Bridge. Nogrix’s presence would make any Tasks the bridge crew might attempt more difficult for as long as this Trait was in place.

Fortunately for Commander Logan, this wasn’t for long. Lt. Commander Pak, Chief of Security, politely escorted the Ferengi from the bridge after overwhelming him with her formidable presence. In Main Engineering, Ensign Mokta (a supporting character, as Chief Engineer Suvak was on the away team) tried to scan the Galor-class ships for weaknesses. In response, one of the Cardassian ships fired on the Adventure, taking a good chunk out of her shields. But the shields held, and the ship suffered no damage.

In response, Lt. Beta ran an attack pattern, setting up a counterattack. Commander Logan ordered Pak to fire the phaser arrays, targeting the Cardassian ship’s engines. The blast crippled the ship, knocking out the shields, disabling the engines and causing a further breach to the sensor systems. The Cardassian ship was effectively dead in space.

Before the other Cardassian ship could come about, Logan ordered the launch of the rapid-fire torpedo launchers, full spread. The resulting damage was devastating, annihilating the other Galor-class vessel in a fantastic explosion.

Commander Logan was now faced with a dilemma: pursue the Sindral, and leave the away team unprotected; or remain with the cylinder and leave the outpost to the mercy of the Cardassians. Meanwhile, Lt. Beta reported the Prized Possession was largely undamaged and about to make a run at the helpless Cardassian cruiser. Logan hailed the Ferengi vessel and warned them off, but not before Nogrix returned to the bridge and insisted the Adventure finish off the Cardassians.

Logan ignored him, and set off in pursuit of the Sindral, hoping to catch it before Gul Drazel could use the science outpost as a bargaining chip in pressing his claim to the mysterious object. Once again, hailing frequencies were opened.

Gul Drazel promised Logan and the crew that they would regret their interference in this matter and their decision to assist the Ferengi. He knew all about the Adventure from Legate Jabrel, who informed every Cardassian vessel in the sector of their previous treachery involving the Maquis. Logan reminded Drazel that he was leaving behind Cardassian soldiers to die, as the Ferengi were unlikely to show them any mercy if the Adventure had to chase the Sindral. Drazel stated flatly that death in service to the state is the highest honor a Cardassian can achieve. With a wicked grin, he said he hopes the scientists on New Coriolanus feel the same way…

Star Trek Adventures: The Big Sleep Part 2

The away team beams back up to the Adventure, which breaks orbit around New Coriolanus to investigate the strange object detected on the fringes of the system. On the viewscreen, the object is revealed to be a featureless cylinder (I know what you’re thinking, but that’s where the similarities end), roughly 2 km long by 1.2 km in diameter. It is moving quite rapidly, but is not moving at warp. The cylinder is rotating around its central axis. Its present course and speed will take it into orbit around New Coriolanus in 3 standard days.

Hails to the object are unanswered. Scans reveal it is hollow; spinning at a rate of .86 rotations per minute, with a rim velocity of 104 m/s. This would, theoretically, create artificial gravity inside the object approximate to standard Earth gravity. The method of propulsion is unknown. There are no readings that would indicate atomic, ion or chemical engines; and, although moving fast, the object is not moving at warp. There are no life signs detected inside.

Commander Logan forms an away team to investigate, consisting of Commander Fulexian (Science Officer) and Lieutenant Commander Suvak (Chief Engineer); accompanied by two supporting characters: Chief Specialist J’zhara (Engineering) and Ensign Mara Tamral (Medical Officer). Commander Logan remains aboard the Adventure to assist Captain Boardman. Lieutenant Beta likewise remains at the helm. The away team brings along a mass spectrometer in addition to their tricorders, to better evaluate and analyze any samples taken from the mysterious object.

The team beams aboard, arriving inside to find themselves in a long, featureless corridor. Tricorder scans reveal that the vast emptiness of the interior of the cylinder is above them. They are traversing the interior surface of the object. It is eerily silent and completely dark. There is no hum of machinery, no vibration of engine operation to be felt. The crew’s voices do not echo, as would be expected. The walls, floors and ceilings have no adornment or markings on them at all, and are made of an unknown metal. The corridor they occupy seems to tun the entire length of the cylinder, with many branching and intersecting passages. Exploring them would take months.

While the team gets it bearings, Suvak, a Vulcan, and Ensign Tamral, a Betazoid, both feel that they are not alone. Despite their tricorders registering no life signs aboard, the two officers can feel the presence of many consciousnesses, utterly alien and incomprehensible.

Meanwhile, outside the strange object, a new arrival to the system drops out of warp. A D’Kora-class Ferengi Marauder, the Prized Possession, hails the Adventure. Appearing onscreen is the huge face of a Ferengi, who identifies himself as Daimon Nogrix. Nogrix claims “sole and proprietary salvage rights to the…object” under the Ferengi Salvage Code. This allows him to take possession of any abandoned property. He discovered this “thing” several days ago and staked a claim to it then, but “circumstances developed” he had to leave the area. Now, he has returned, and he wants his property.

Technically, it’s not the captain’s responsibility to determine what is and isn’t abandoned property, or to regulate trade agreements; but Captain Boardman (played by Zach in this particular scene, as his primary character, Suvak, is aboard the object) immediately denies the Ferengi claim without so much as a hearing.

Predictably, this angers Nogrix. He claims to be “very important” in the Ferengi government, and implies that dire consequences, perhaps of a career-ending or diplomatic incident-causing nature, may result if the crew doesn’t show him proper respect and honor his claim.

Meanwhile, the away team continues to investigate the vast interior of the object. They can find no door, hatch, or means of ingress to the main area of the cylinder; and every passage seems to defy tricorder mapping. They discover that parts of the outer cylinder seem to be spinning at different speeds, which results in corridors shifting and changing constantly.

(In game terms, this investigation is an Extended Task; a series of skill checks that build a number of successes in order to complete a work track. The characters’ success rate is dictated by the difficulty of the task and opposed by a certain amount of resistance, which removes successes, costing more time. A good analogy would be to equate the work track with hit points and resistance with armor; each success removes a hit point, while each level of resistance (armor) prevents a success.)

Commander Fulexian continues to scan the interior using his tricorder, assisted by Chief Specialist J’zhara. Meanwhile, Suvak tries a different approach. Assisted by Ensign Tamral, they attempt to navigate their way around by telepathically “following” the consciousnesses they both can feel. The combination of both methods yields results. About an hour later, they discover the faint outline of a hatch in the ceiling. If accessed, this would presumably lead further towards the center of the cylinder.

Aboard the Adventure, Lieutenant Beta reports that ship sensors are detecting more arrivals to the system: three Cardassian Galor-class cruisers entering at high warp, making a beeline for the Prized Possession. Damon Nogrix hails the Adventure, and demands that Captain Boardman assist him in protecting his property from the Cardassian interlopers. Before Boardman can reply, the commander of the Cardassian squadron, Gul Drazel, hails the Adventure. He states plainly that he intends to destroy the Ferengi vessel in retaliation for a previous attack. He further states the “object” is the property of the Cardassian Union, and that the Ferengi stole it after the Cardassians staked their claim. Gul Drazel warns Captain Boardman not to interfere before terminating communications and adopting an attack formation.

Back aboard the mysterious object, Commander Fulexian attempts to access the hatch by finding its operating mechanism. Before he can, the crew hears sounds indicating new arrivals to the interior: a Ferengi salvage team taking up positions in intersecting corridors, setting up a crossfire. None of the away team are security personnel; and they are very much outgunned (especially since I spent some Threat to increase the number of Ferengi). It’s not looking good…