Monster May(hem) continues, and this one’s for Dave! For my second submission, may I present: the Spiny Death Worm!
This miniature is one I’ve had for a couple of years now…one, in fact that I wanted to get painted for last year’s Monster May(hem); but alas, I didn’t get to it in time. The Spiny Death Worm is available through Wargames Terrain Workshop; a.k.a. our buddy Dave’s joint!
There’s a nicely painted picture of this miniature on Dave’s site; but of course I wanted to put my own spin on it, so I didn’t copy the color scheme. You’ll have to tell me if I did ok. I considered basing this Spiny Death Worm on a snowy base, but instead went for a dry desert base.
Here is the blogroll of other participants in Monster May(hem), and their projects that I’m aware of so far. Drop by their sites and show your support!
Dave, from Wargames Terrain Workshop, has sculpted the majority of his own miniatures for his submissions: a Dragonkin warrior, a Clawed Fiend and a Jerba (a Star Wars beast of burden) thus far. He’s also done some GW Dark Elf Khymera, and they look terrifying, and a Slaan Lord on Palanquin (which definitely counts as a monster, Dave!) Did I mention he sculpted the Spiny Death Worm, too?
Matt, from PM Painting did the creepy Jötunn Moder from The Ritual, and a Fungal Troll that may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen by Matt, and that’s saying a lot; considering how talented he is. The colors on this are inspired. Everyone should check this one out!
Tom, @The_Goodground has painted a creepy demon miniature, a storm elemental, a Rat Ogre, an objective marker so monstrous it counts as a monster, a vulture demon and a Gnoph-Keh! You can see them over on his Instagram!
Malcolm, @mdcampbell_dunwichcreatives has painted thee monsters so far, a Runequest Walktapus, a classic Grenadier Shadowrun miniature, the Feathered Serpent and a Reaper Carrion Crawler! So far, he’s posted the Walktapus and the Feathered Serpent on his Instagram account! You can see all of them in my #miniatures channel on the Discord server, if you have access. If you don’t, ask!
Mike, @sasquatchminis is working on a White Dragon. He has also posted some WIP shots to the Discord server.
As a kid growing up in the 80’s I had my pick of cool cartoons: G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, and Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Nothing was cooler than Thundercats, though. A couple of weeks ago I splurged and bought myself the complete, original Thundercats series on DVD. I’ve been watching it ever since, and I found out I still love it.
Despite having many miniatures in their 7TV line that I salivate over, I’ve only ever placed one order to Crooked Dice, because shipping is absolutely insane between Britain and the US. As a result, I couldn’t get everything I wanted all at once, but I made sure these awesome “Beastman Heroes” were in the order. They were supposed to be painted as part of the Year of Pop Culture; but like so many of my painting projects last year, I didn’t get to them.
This set contains Panthro, Lion-o, Tygra and Cheetara. Crooked Dice also makes miniatures of Wilykit and Wilykat; and they make a Snarf miniature. They didn’t make the cut on this order. I can do without Kit and Kat, and Snarf is more annoying than any other cartoon character I can think of, with the possible exception of Gleek, the Wonder-Twins’ pet space monkey on Super Friends. No big loss there. (Come to think of it, that unicorn on the D&D cartoon was pretty fucking annoying, too.)
So let’s talk about the sculpts. They’re pretty good, with the exception of Panthro, who happens to be my favorite Thundercat. Panthro is smart enough to design and build the Thundertank, strong enough to LIFT and throw the Thundertank with a full load of passengers in it, and tough enough to kick the asses of all the other Thundercats one at a time or all at once. Plus, he uses nunchaku as his weapon, which automatically makes him cooler than anyone who doesn’t. And he’s voiced by the guy who played the grandfather on the Cosby Show. His sculpt is pretty meh, though, especially when compared to the others. He’s just standing there; and his weapon doesn’t have the telltale cat claw handles, nor does it have a chain connecting the sticks. He’s still a cool figure, he just could have been a lot better.
Up next is Tygra, hands-down my favorite sculpt in the set. Tygra is probably my second-favorite Thundercat next to Panthro. He’s the architect of the Cat’s Lair, he can turn invisible, and he uses a bolo-whip. He’s pretty cool. The miniature is fantastic.
Cheetara can run really fast, which is why I guess they sculpted her running. I find it an odd choice, considering all the other Thundercats are brandishing their weapons; but it’s a pretty good sculpt nonetheless. I would have been happier to see her posing with her staff, like in the intro.
Lion-o is also a wonderful miniature; although in the cartoon, he’s my least favorite Thundercat of the main four. Voiced by the great Larry Kenney, he probably has the most iconic and recognizable voice on the show (at least among the heroes). When they did a Thundercats revival on Cartoon Network a decade or so back, Larry provided the voice of Lion-o’s father. (I actually thought he was playing an elder version of Lion-o, which would have been fucking AWESOME; but I was wrong.) I didn’t watch much of it, because I wasn’t a fan of the art style.
The Mutants of Plun-Darr were the main antogonists for the Thundercats: Monkian, Vultureman, Slithe and Jackalman.
Monkian is my favorite mutant and my favorite sculpt.
Slithe comes in a close second, both for favorite mutant and favorite sculpt.
Jackalman’s sculpt is fine, I guess. Jackalman annoyed me a lot.
Vultureman’s sculpt is pretty lame, the worst of the bunch. Come to think of it, Vultureman is pretty lame. He wasn’t one of the original mutants. Vultureman just showed up one day, like he’d been there all along.
“Ancient Spirits of Evil…Transform this decayed form…to Mumm-Ra…the Ever-Living!” Of course, no set of Thundercats miniatures would be complete without Mumm-Ra, or as he’s called over on Crooked Dice’s store, “Abomination.” Crooked Dice makes a buff version of Mumm-Ra, too (i.e. the “transformed” version), but once again, I had to pick and choose. Maybe someday.
I thought I got that mold-line; but it sure shows up nice when it’s painted.
Since I’ve been re-watching Thundercats, I’ve found myself slipping into the voice of Mumm-Ra without warning.
“You dare ask Mumm-Ra to mow the lawn?! Your insolence tempts the wrath of Mumm-Ra, the All Powerful!!”
“This coffee has grown cold. Mumm-Ra is displeased! Bring forth a fresh cup, lest you be destroyed!”
“Your loyalty to Mumm-Ra has been rewarded. Your time-off request has been granted!”
Guess what? Turns out not everyone appreciates Mumm-Ra.
This project was originally intended for last year’s Year of Pop Culture. This is not a Monster May(hem) post. More monsters to come soon, but in the meantime, check out all the other participants this month at their respective blogs/Instagram accounts and show your support!
Dave, from Wargames Terrain Workshop, has of course sculpted his own miniatures for the first two submissions: a Dragonkin warrior and a Clawed Fiend. Both look wonderful!. He’s also done some GW Dark Elf Khymera, some models I didn’t know existed!
Matt, from PM Painting has completed the creepy Jötunn Moder from The Ritual, and it looks better it does in the movie!
Tom, @The_Goodground has painted a creepy demon miniature, a storm elemental, a Rat Ogre and an objective marker so monstrous it counts as a monster! You can see them over on his Instagram!
Malcolm, @mdcampbell_dunwichcreatives has painted thee monsters so far, a Runequest Walktapus, a classic Grenadier Shadowrun miniature, the Feathered Serpent and a Reaper Carrion Crawler! So far, he’s posted the Walktapus on his Instagram account, but he’s posted all of them on Discord. You can see them in my #miniatures channel on the Discord server, if you have access. If you don’t, ask!
Mike, @sasquatchminis is still hard at work on a White Dragon. He has also posted some WIP shots to the Discord server.
I don’t want to point out the obvious to my regulars here, but the Instagram crowd is kicking our asses! It’s a challenge, not a competition….but still…
Don’t see your name here and want to? Drop me a line with your info and you’re in! There’s still time to join the fun!
For my own sanity, I will post Monster May(hem) updates once a week rather than try to keep up with every submission…but the blogroll is here for a reason! Drop by the sites and accounts listed here and have a look for yourself! Support our fellow hobbyists!
Finally, to wrap up my three-part Star Frontiers posts, an actual post about miniatures! (Yes, I still do that here.)
Back in the mid-80s, TSR released a couple of boxed sets and blisters of Star Frontiers miniatures, both for the Alpha Dawn game and the Knight Hawks spaceship expansion. Let me skip to the end, here: like most TSR miniatures, they suck.
I have vented my spleen about the TSR line of miniatures before. In addition to Star Frontiers, TSR released miniature sets for Marvel Super Heroes, Indiana Jones and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. They all suck. Awkward poses, poor sculpts, no sense of scale…all made out of what has to be the shittiest white metal alloy ever produced. It’s too soft, holds paint like shit, and is prone to metal rot. This was not a good era.
The best Star Frontiers miniatures by far are the spaceships for Knight Hawks. Although also prone to metal rot, these are in scale with each other (mostly). Spaceships in Star Frontiers don’t have artificial gravity, rather, gravity is achieved from the centrifugal force generated by the spinning of the ship on its axis. All the interior decks of the ship are perpendicular to the ship’s body. The miniatures look pretty good, but then again the sculpts should be hard to fuck up, considering they’re mostly cylindrical as a result of this gravitational concept.
Which brings us to the modern era of miniatures. Star Frontiers definitely has a retro vibe to it. Although there are several companies that make terrific retro sci-fi models (like Hydra Miniatures, Killer B Games, and Black Cat Bases; not to mention our own friend Roger from the now-sadly-closed Wargames Supply Dump), none of these really capture the feel of Star Frontiers, which has a retro vibe firmly rooted in the 1980’s. It seems like there just weren’t any good options, until now.
Behold! Reaper’s Chronoscope line has done it again, coming out with a Korkosan Explorer (a not-Yazirian if ever there was one) and an Argamite Explorer (a not-Dralasite). Together with their “Rand Daingerfield, Smuggler” this trio could have walked off the pages of any Star Frontiers book published back in the 80’s.
Check out that vest and those metal pants on Rand! Sadly, there’s no “not-Vrusk” miniature yet; but I’m holding out hope, as Vrusk are by far my favorite species in Star Frontiers.
I painted the Argamite and the Korkosan last year with the intent of doing a Star Frontiers post for the Year of Pop Culture; but since I didn’t have Rand painted yet I put it off. I only just got around to painting him last month.
I converted the Korkosan by removing his pistol and giving him a GW laspistol, then adding some wire as a power cord connected to a beltpack. (Everyone knows beltpacks are the way to go. They hold five times as many SEUs as a clip.)
This brings me to the end of my Star Frontiers retrospective. Maybe I’ll get around to running that game this year. Best way to find out is to join my Discord server and keep your eyes peeled in the announcements channel!
I love this picture, painted by the great Larry Elmore. I was fortunate enough to meet him at Gen Con in 2012, and I bought this signed print from him. It was the cover art for the second edition of the Star Frontiers RPG, renamed Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn. Until then, the only sci-fi RPG of note was Traveller, which many people found somewhat inaccessible. This game was marketed to a younger crowd, and the system was much less complicated than Traveller (which isn’t really saying much).
A separate, compatible game, Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks, was released a year later in its own box, and dealt specifically with spaceships and space combat. Although it also had roleplaying elements, it was a spaceship combat wargame that used cardboard counters on a hex mat. I played a lot of Alpha Dawn but only dabbled in Knight Hawks. (We really just used the rules for ship design.) Both games enjoyed a decent amount of product support in the form of adventure modules and articles and scenarios published in Dragon Magazine.
The real draw of Star Frontiers, at least for me, is the setting. It takes place in a region of space known as The Frontier, where the boundary of known space meets whatever else is “out there”. Players create characters from four playable races: Humans, who are pretty much like us, but live longer; Vrusk, a race of insectoid beings that resemble mantids, only without the big claws; Dralasites, an amoeba-like race that can change their physical form; and Yazirians, a race similar to flying monkeys, only with anger issues.
These races worked together almost immediately, freely exchanging information and technology, sharing scientific advancements and generally getting along. They formed the Pan-Galactic Corporation (PGC), a massive conglomerate that, like it’s name implies, spanned the galaxy. They even developed a language called Pan-Galactic (PanGal) that all four races could speak which allowed them to effectively communicate, given their differing anatomy and communication methods. It was a pretty good time.
Of course, good times don’t last forever, and another alien race, known as the Sathar, suddenly attacked the Frontier with what seemed like the intent to destroy everything the PGC had built. The Sathar are a wormlike race with strange telepathic powers who are aggressively xenophobic. No one knows much more about them, because any Sathar will kill itself rather than be taken captive, and they’re not much for chit-chat. To combat the Sathar threat, the PGC formed a combined military force called the United Planetary Federation, or UPF (not to be confused with the United Federation of Planets, which would have probably got TSR sued by the Star Trek guys over at Paramount). The UPF managed to drive the Sathar back to wherever they came from, but not for long.
Knowing that they can’t take the UPF in a fight, the Sathar have since turned to espionage and treachery to topple it from within. Sathar agents from all the frontier races actively work to undermine the UPF, so the UPF created another organization: Star Law. Star Law Rangers travel the galaxies looking for these agents in order to bring them to justice.
And that’s Star Frontiers in a nutshell. The published adventures assume your players will work for either the PGC or Star Law; but nothing says you have to stick to that. You can be pirates, privateers, salvage crews, planetary explorers or even military agents of the UPF. I’m pretty sure my group was a group of mercenaries, because it was the 80’s and I live in America and that was pretty much every movie of the Reagan era; but the game actively discourages this. The first adventure, Crash on Volturnus, effectively strips your characters of all their weapons and useful equipment right at the beginning, forcing them to survive on a hostile planet using their wits and diplomacy; a big departure for groups used to kicking in doors, killing everything in sight and looting the bodies.
There are a couple of big problems with the game. The system is a percentile-based system: roll under your attribute or skill and you’re successful; over and you fail. Pretty standard for TSR boxed games of the time, and still used by many games today. That being said, the system is sometimes a bit more complicated than it needs to be, especially where skills are concerned. Each character can picks a Primary Skill Area, such as Military or Science. Each one of these PSAs have a group of skills under their umbrella, each with a rating of 1-6. Each of these skills are improved individually and usually offer a 10% bonus per level of the skill. The problem is there are too many skills, so advancement takes a long time.
Combat is another matter. It takes forever because of clunky design, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand in games, both as a player and GM, it’s combat that drags on forever (J’accuse, 5E!). There are a ton of different weapons in Star Frontiers, each of which does a different type of damage (electrical, energy, sonic, projectile, etc.) There are an equal amount of defensive suits and screens, all of which are usually effective against only one type of damage. Having the right defense for the right attack is tedious and pretty much down to luck; but equipped properly, your characters can trade shots all day with little danger of dying. Even if not properly equipped, your characters can take a few shots before they have to worry, because most weapons that aren’t energy weapons do shitty damage.
Energy weapons and defensive screens use power tracked by Standard Energy Units (SEU). Tracking SEU use is a bit of a chore. In the case of weapons, the damage you inflict is directly proportionate to how many SEU you expend. For example, a standard laser pistol has a damage rating of 1d10 per SEU (max 10 SEU), and a standard ammo clip contains 20 SEU. That means you could get twenty 1d10 shots out of a clip, or you could burn the entire clip in two 10d10 shots before you’d need to reload.
Either way, you’re unlikely to kill your target. Most characters have an average of 60 hp (their Stamina score). The average d10 roll is a 5.5, rounded up to 6. I suppose it’s possible that a character could burn 10 SEU (10d10 damage) and get a result over 60, which would kill someone with 60 hp (assuming you hit), but it’s unlikely. It becomes even more unlikely when you factor in defensive screens and suits, which will reduce the damage even further. Why anyone would bother shooting a 1d10 shot is beyond me. Even at maximum damage (10) that’s not enough to be more than an irritation. If the target is wearing any kind of defense whatsoever, forget it. You’re just wasting ammo.
Both these issues are easily fixable with some house rules which I use. First, I cut down the number of skills. The military PSA as written, for example, contains a separate skill for each type of weapon, which is ridiculous. Is it safe to assume that military-trained characters know how to shoot all kinds of guns? Yeah. I’d say so. So let’s just group all those separate skills together and call it “firearms” skill. For combat, no more adjustable shots based on SEU use. Laser pistols, for example, do 5d10 damage and a clip contains 10 shots. That makes them more dangerous and more effective then they are in the rules. I use two types of defensive screens: energy and inertia, not an individual one for every conceivable type of attack. Inertia protects against projectiles and explosives, energy protects against electricity, energy and sonic attacks. Two screens, no more. Same with suits. One for energy, one for inertia. Mix and match as you like, but no more nonsense.
It should be noted that combat in Star Frontiers was probably not intended to be deadly. Like I said, it was marketed to a younger crowd. There are plenty of non-lethal weapons in the game: stunners, needler guns, and the iconic doze and tangler grenades, which render an opponent unconscious or immobile, respectively. The equipment lists are both futuristic and a bit dated…for example characters are often equipped with a chronocom, which is a wristwatch/ video communicator with a range of…wait for it…10 whole kilometers! It’s an amusing reminder of when the game was written, long before cell phones were commonplace or the internet even existed.
I’m not the only one who has a love of Star Frontiers, not by a long shot. There are two fanzines that are regularly published: The Star Frontiersman and Frontier Explorer, both of which have a ton of fan-generated content that’s worth looking at. Both of these zines used to be free, but now they’re available for sale at (sigh) DriveThru RPG. The original Star Frontiers rules are also available there in PDF and Print on Demand format.
Up next: a short coda to the Star Frontiers posts, as I discuss…the miniatures!!!!
Back in the 80’s, during the heyday of roleplaying games, TSR Hobbies released a ton of RPGs in addition to Dungeons & Dragons: original properties like Gamma World, Top Secret, Boot Hill, and Gangbusters; and licensed games like Marvel Super Heroes, Indiana Jones, and Buck Rogers. These games were sold as boxed sets, just like the Basic and Expert D&D games. With the exception of Indiana Jones, the rest of these games were successful enough to warrant at least a second edition (some, like Gamma World and Gangbusters, would get more than that) in addition to a line of adventure modules and sourcebooks.
I never played Gamma World or Buck Rogers. I played Boot Hill, Gangbusters and Top Secret, and I enjoyed them all very much. I played Indiana Jones, and…well…let’s just say I played it. But my favorites, hands-down, were Marvel Super Heroes and Star Frontiers. I love MSH so much I still play it. In fact, I just ran Marvel Super Heroes in February for a group of Instagram friends over on my Discord server. I also planned on running Star Frontiers last year, but it never happened. The last time I played the game was a few years ago; but it wasn’t technically Star Frontiers. Like many of these 80’s TSR games, the system was a bit basic and we wanted more, so my friend converted it to GURPS. It was a lot of fun to revisit the setting, but we didn’t play for very long.
A couple of years ago, I heard a new version of Star Frontiers was in the works and I grew excited; at least until it turned out to be a racist, homophobic shit show of a game.
Here’s a summary, best as I can deliver it. Keep in mind, this is my opinion, and my knowledge, such as it is, may not be 100% accurate. If you really want to know, check the internet yourself.
TSR Hobbies, the original company that published Dungeons & Dragons, went out of business in 1997, and was acquired by Wizards of the Coast, the company that, until then, was most famous for publishing Magic: the Gathering. WotC was later acquired by Hasbro, and is a shitty company with a history of trying to fuck over creators, but that has no bearing on the rest of this story. It’s just me stating my opinion.
Anyway, back in 2011, Gary Gygax’s sons, Luke and Ernie Jr., along with another guy started a company called TSR Games in order to publish a new Top Secret game. Apparently, Luke and the other guy missed a trademark filing date in 2020, so Ernie Jr. filed for the TSR name and the two brothers cut ties with each other. It seems to be a bit acrimonious, as now there are two companies with the TSR name run by two brothers who apparently don’t much like each other. WotC doesn’t seem to like either of them, either.
While promoting his new company, Ernie did an interview where he made racist remarks about Native Americans, mocked Trans people and people who support them, and implied that being anti-racist is bad; and people who agreed with him should be very happy with “his” TSR. It got so bad that his brother Luke and a ton of well-known names in the hobby industry, like Jeff Dee and Skip Williams, officially cut ties with Ernie Jr. Larry Elmore even returned money Ernie had paid him for work he had done already.
Which brings us to Star Frontiers. Ernie Jr. decided he was going to revive Star Frontiers, and came up with a new game called Star Frontiers: New Genesis. A playtest doc for that game leaked and…well, shit. It wasn’t the Star Frontiers game of old, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of explicitly racist stuff in it, like how Humans are now split into sub-races, one of which is inherently superior to the other in every way. One of these sub-races is described as Nordic, and the other is described as Negro. Care to take a guess which one is said to be the superior race by racist asshole and known Caucasian Ernie Gygax, Jr.?
Wizards of the Coast has filed a lawsuit against Ernie’s TSR, not wanting to be associated with his bigotry and apparent assholishness. They want to make sure the game never gets published; and they claim they are the true owners of the Star Frontiers IP and the TSR logo, both of which they purchased when they bought the original TSR back in 1997.
My feelings on censorship are well-known. I think it sucks. I feel that Ernie Gygax, Jr. can say whatever shit he wants, and that includes racist, transphobic stuff. He can make games about it and publish them, and if people want to play them because they share his racist, transphobic, alt-right views, they can.
Unless, of course, WotC owns the trademarks. In which case, fuck Ernie Gygax, Jr.
Well, this was supposed to be a post about my love of the OLD, ORIGINAL, not intentionally racist Star Frontiers RPG, and I have veered off the mark. Guess I’ll make this a part 1 and talk about the game I actually like in the next post.
Hi there. Remember my last post, where I said that this year, I would do this and that, etc., etc.? Well, just forget that, because I clearly have. My hobby output has been dismal thus far, and I’m tired of making plans I can’t possibly deliver upon.
I guess I’ll paint what I paint this year, and that’s about it.
So, here are the remaining expansions to the Bespin Gambit set for Imperial Assault, starting with some ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) Infiltrators.
These two similar-looking fellows are led by Agent Blaise, who is an ISB Interrogator who supposedly was assigned to Bespin to uncover rebel activity…
…namely, the rebel activity of one Lando Calrissian, Cloud City Administrator.
Lando’s colors are pretty bold, especially compared to how he looked in The Empire Strikes Back. I followed Sorastro’s tutorial for Lando and I love the results.
I’ve barely painted anything this year so far. I managed to finish running my year-long Lamentations of the Flame Princess game earlier this month, and just last weekend I got to talk to Roger on my Discord server again, but that’s about the extent of my hobbying. I’m definitely feeling the disconnect from the hobby community that my unplanned absence has caused, and hope to be able to contribute more soon.
As 2022 draws to a close, I regard my hobby efforts this year with melancholy disappointment. All told, I painted 68 miniatures, and I’m unlikely to paint any more before midnight tonight. One thing I was hoping to paint this year was my full set of Star Wars” Imperial Assault: The Bespin Gambit. By “full set” I meant all the miniatures that come in the box, and all the ally and villain expansions released at the same time. Close, but no cigar. A few expansions will have to wait for a future post.
I did manage to do the core set, though, starting with these Bespin Wing Guard. I painted them all the way back in April, but held off on posting them (or any other Star Wars stuff) because I wanted to post the whole set together. Anyway, here they are.
Next: the Ugnaught Tinkerers.
I thought I knew what an Ugnaught looked like, but I had to check source material a bunch of times while painting these guys. Anyway, they have spoken.
Finally, the heroes: Murne Rin, Master of Intelligence.
Ilthorians are my favorite Star Wars race. “Hammerhead” was one of the first Kenner Star Wars figures I ever owned as a kid; and I made an Ilthorian Jedi for the Start Wars RPG back in the day. It was good to see them make a comeback in The Mandalorian.
And speaking of Jedi, here is the other hero from the set: Davith Elso, Codename “Hawkbat.”
Dumb code name. Cool miniature.
Lastly but not leastly, I did manage to paint one expansion, at least…and it’s a good one.
The Trandoshan, the myth, the legend… and the dude on the cover of the box…Bossk! Here he is with the Trandoshan Hunters from the original IA core box set. You’ll note that one is painted as Bossk, because it was before Bossk got his own miniature.
Today is July 4th; and here in America we celebrate our liberation from the tyranny of the evil British with day-long festivals of song and story (i.e. your drunk uncle reminding you that “There’s NOTHING more important than family” , somehow making family a five-syllable word, and yelling for Skynrd’s Freebird). These festivities almost always include copious amounts of barbecued meat, deviled eggs and potato salad; washed down with the alcoholic beverage of your choice (i.e. cheap beer). Since we are America, there’s a better than average chance of firearms being involved, too; and not necessarily in a good way (if there is such a thing).
Note: A quick look at the news, and guess what? Fucking predictable. (Fucking preventable, too; but this is supposed to be a happy post.)
But: this is not the way of things here at the palatial estate of The Angry Piper. Sure, there’s barbecued meat and drinking involved, but here, all I’m thinking about is the Season of Scenery, and what my plans are for it.
So, what am I doing for the Season of Scenery this year? I’m making my first non-wargaming plastic model kit in decades, and it’s a good one. From 1994: the AMT official Star Trek model of space station Terok Nor, a.k.a. Deep Space Nine!
I picked up this kit a couple of years back. The box is in sad shape, but it was never opened (as the stale waft of air I got when removing the shrink wrap can attest).
I opened it up, and it’s complete and in good shape. It even has this Star Trek Fan Club card in it. Wonder if I can still join?
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this will be my second attempt at this kit. I first tried it way back in 1995 or so; but I didn’t get very far. I put together the ring pieces, but was distressed by the gaps between them. So, I did what any modeler worth his sack would do. I used putty.
Of course, back then, this is what I had for putty: Testors modeling putty, which, like most Testors products (with the notable exception of Dullcote) SUCKS DONKEY BALLS. This has the consistency of watery toothpaste; not putty. They actually still make this shit, believe it or not. Anyway, suffice it to say that I used a lot of this and not only failed to fill any gaps, I made my model look so bad, I never wanted to touch it again and I threw the entire fucking thing in the trash. What a waste, I know. Almost 30 years later, I’ve learned a thing or two about modeling and more important; I’ve learned how to fill a fucking gap with ACTUAL, REAL putty, not whatever this shit is. I think I got this.
Also, I seem to remember that “Skill Level 2” was bullshit. This is a more advanced kit that includes the option for LED lights, should you wish to add them. I think you need to add them while you’re building it, though…I’ll have to take a look.
Deep Space Nine is probably my favorite Star Trek series (although I waffle between TNG, TOS and DS9 depending on my mood). Sadly, July 1 marked the last day the series was available for streaming on Netflix here in the US (damn you, Paramount Plus!), so I can’t watch it any time I want to any more. I thought: what better time than now to take a second crack at this kit?
Of course, Dave the Gracious (that’s a new nickname for you, Dave) gives us TWO months for this challenge; and I’d like to think I can get this done with time to spare…so I have these as a backup project: Assets and Hazards for the Alien: Another Glorious Day in the Corps board game. You know, that same board game I was so excited about that I still haven’t played, despite painting all the miniatures?
Oh, wait…that doesn’t actually narrow it down, does it?
The backstory for Lieutenant Junior Grade Rhin Valim, Starfleet Security Division can be found here. What follows is an explanation of his Attributes and Disciplines, his Talents, Values and Focuses: all the things that come into play quite a lot in Star Trek Adventures. Rather than get into the nitty-gritty of how these things work mechanically, I’ll just give a broad description of each and how it relates to his character; in other words, why I chose them and why I think they makes sense for this character.
Attributes and Disciplines
Attributes have a score range of 7-12, while Disciplines have a range of 1-5. Rhin Valim’s highest Attribute is Fitness at 12 (he’s in spectacular shape), and his highest Discipline is Security at 5 (not surprising, he’s been fighting all his life). His second highest Attribute is Daring at 11 (He’s used to taking risks) and his next highest Discipline is Engineering at 3 (he’s more than competent). His remaining Attributes (Control, Insight, Presence and Reason) and Disciplines (Command, Conn, Science and Medicine) are fairly average.
Attributes and Disciplines are used in combination with each other to attempt tasks. Rhin is a very physical character with a good knowledge of both combat and engineering.
These are the things Rhin is really good at: his particular set of skills, if you like. He has a better chance of succeeding at these tasks and of achieving better results than most people. Rhin’s focuses are: Small Unit Tactics, Infiltration, Espionage, Hand to Hand Combat, Hand Phasers and Hazard Awareness. All of these focuses fit a character who grew to adulthood in the Bajoran resistance and spent most of his life waging guerilla warfare.
These are traits that give Rhin bonuses in certain situations. Once again, these are primarily a result of his work in the Bajoran resistance.
Constantly Watching: Rhin is very good at seeing threats. He’s pretty tough to ambush or blindside.
Pack Tactics: Rhin knows how to pile on when he needs to. Other characters benefit more than they normally would if Rhin assists them during combat.
Crisis Management: He can give commands in combat situations, even if he isn’t in command. This isn’t “official” command status; it’s just that he is the kind of guy who people listen to when things go south.
Fire at Will: Usually, it’s difficult to fire with accuracy the more times you shoot, but Rhin doesn’t suffer from that. Rhin is used to laying down fire.
Finally, these are the things that Rhin thinks are important: his ideals and aspirations. In game terms, you can invoke (or challenge) a value in order to gain big bonuses; so when your values come into play, it’s a big deal.
For example: one of Captain Kirk’s values is “I don’t believe in a no-win situation.” People familiar with Kirk would agree he’s not the kind of guy who gives up, even in the face of overwhelming odds. When faced with a seemingly no-win situation, Kirk’s player could invoke this value to get a big bonus on his intended action. It also tells us a bit about Captain Kirk, so anyone could use this value to guide their roleplay of the character.
Rhin Valim’s values are:
Resistance Fighter: The Bajoran resistance was hardly a well-equipped force. Rhin is used to making do with whatever is available, working with what you have, not with what you wish you had. It’s great to have the right tool for the job, but sometimes you need to use a rock because you don’t have a hammer. Starfleet has all the hammers anyone could ever need. Rhin’s still not used to that.
“Put faith in yourself. It’s the only thing worth believing in.” Rhin doesn’t put faith in a higher power or the promises of politicians, because he’s seen what those amount to: nothing. If you don’t do it yourself, it won’t get done. Don’t trust anyone or anything to act in your best interests. Only you can do that.
“No one gets left behind.” This one is pretty self-explanatory. Rhin will go out of his way and risk life and limb for his fellow soldiers, even if he doesn’t particularly like them. As much as possible, the wounded get evacuated, bodies get recovered and identified, and most of all, prisoners get rescued. Otherwise, what are you really fighting for?
“Improvise. Overcome. Adapt. Or die.” Again, pretty self-explanatory. Don’t stick to a plan if it isn’t working. There’s nothing noble about getting killed because you were too stupid to zig when someone commanded you to zag. This value is probably why Rhin hasn’t advanced much in rank; he’s not afraid to buck the chain of command if it means saving lives, including his own.
As stated above, you can also challenge a value if it’s dramatically appropriate, and if successful, you can get big results just as if you had invoked it. For example, let’s say Rhin was in a situation where he was faced with trusting someone he didn’t know. Normally, because of his “put faith in yourself” value, he wouldn’t be able to do that easily, and he’d have to fend for himself. But what if I challenge it instead of invoking it? Rhin takes the chance and gets the bonus, but then I would have to cross out that value and choose a new one. People change.
Sadly, I never got to play this character. Maybe one day I will. I think he could be interesting, as he clearly lacks the mindset for Starfleet; but could be an asset to the right crew. He’s a lot like Major Kira Nerys at the beginning of Deep Space Nine, only Kira had her faith in the Prophets to guide her decisions. Rhin doesn’t. It would be fun to see how he reacts to serving alongside someone similar.