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Captured! A Fantastic Worlds Star Trek AAR

Captain’s Log Supplemental: Commander Spock, Dr. McCoy and I have been captured by Klingons and taken to an unknown location. It appears we are in a subterranean cave the Klingons have modified for use as a base of operations. At least we are out of the oppressive heat and humidity of the jungle. They’ve taken our phasers, tricorders and communicators and left us here. Every once in a while, one of them comes by to laugh at us, but for the most part we are left alone. Their arrogance can benefit us. They think we’re helpless. Attempting escape is our first duty. We won’t discover the fate of the science team or the Klingons’ plans by sitting here.

“Klingons sure like their caves dark,” said McCoy. “I can’t see my hand in front of my face.”

“As your hands are presently bound behind your back,” said Spock, “you would be unable to see your hand in any event.”

“The Klingons must want this…strange energy source…very badly,” said Kirk. “Otherwise why risk breaking the Organian Treaty?”

“Klingons aren’t the sharpest tools in the galactic shed, Jim,” McCoy scoffed. “They probably haven’t thought this through very well.”

“Neither are they fools, Doctor,” said Spock. “The energy source seems to have a profound effect on vegetable life, causing exponential growth.”

“That much is obvious, Spock,” McCoy snapped. “You think they’re doing this out of some desire to take up gardening?”

“On the contrary, Doctor, I believe the Klingons are considering harnessing this energy for military purposes. Consider the effect on populated worlds should it be introduced. Plant life would grow unchecked, soon taking over the entire planet.”

“Mother Nature run amok!” Kirk exclaimed. “That has to be it, Spock!”

“It is the most logical of my several working theories, Captain.”

“Well,” said Kirk, “one thing’s for sure. We can’t do much sitting here in this cave. We need to get to the source of that energy and find out what happened to the science team.. We must stop the Klingons!”

“How can we find the source?” McCoy said. “They took our tricorders. They took everything.”

“The tricorders should contain all the data we collected prior to our capture,” Spock said. “If we can recover them, we should be able to find the source.”

“Getting our communicators back would be nice, too,” said Kirk. “We could contact the ship, have Scotty beam down some reinforcements. But first we need to get out of these bonds.”

“How do you suggest we do that, Jim?” asked McCoy. “I’m a doctor, not an escape artist.”

Spock casually dropped his restraints on the floor. “If you will permit me, Doctor, I believe I can soon have you both free.”

McCoy stared at the Vulcan in shock. “Are you telling us you’ve been free this whole time?”

“No, Doctor,” said Spock. “I slipped my bonds 38 seconds ago. I merely thought it prudent to formulate a logical plan of action before we proceed.”

Kirk cut off what was certain to be a loud oath from McCoy. “Gentlemen, I suggest we act quickly, and silently. Our main priority is to locate our gear. We won’t get far without weapons.”

Scenario: The Enterprise crew has been captured by the Klingons and are being held in a cave below ground. They must escape and continue their search for the mysterious energy, and for Dr. Hubbard.

Victory Conditions: In order to win, the Enterprise crew must find their equipment and escape the board via one of two board edges chosen by the Klingon player as escape routes. The Klingons must prevent at least one of the Enterprise crew from escaping in order to win.

Forces: The Enterprise player has Captain Kirk (Grade 3), Mr. Spock (Grade 2) and Dr. McCoy (Grade 2). They begin play in the center of the board. The Klingon player begins with 4 Klingon guards (Grade 1). He also has a Klingon Lieutenant (Grade 2), who is not deployed at the start of the game. The guards are placed at least 10″ away from the Enterprise crew, and at least 6″ away from each other. They begin on guard duty (see below).

Special Rules:

Guard Duty: The rules for guard duty are in effect for this scenario. I won’t reproduce them here: just understand that the Klingons act like guards (which they are) until the alarm is raised. Once the alarm is raised, they act normally, and the Klingon Lieutenant is deployed immediately.

Darkness: The cave is dark and the Klingons didn’t bring much light. This limits visibility to 8″.

Stealth Takedown: If an Enterprise crewman can engage a Klingon guard in melee and defeat him in one round, then he does so silently and does not alert any other guards. He can then take the Klingon’s weapon. If he fails, the alarm is raised automatically. In addition, if melee occurs within spotting distance of a guard, the guard gets +1 to his roll to spot the attacker.

Initial setup.

The Enterprise crew must exit the board by either the right edge or the bottom edge in order to escape.

Turn 1: The Enterprise crew gets initiative. Kirk activates an encounter marker but it turns out to be nothing. McCoy triggers a restless guard, who activates out of sequence but fails to spot the doctor sneaking around in the darkness. Spock activates an encounter marker and startles a cave-dwelling critter, which makes a noise loud enough to alert the guard nearby. Unfortunately for him, the guard fails his brains test and doesn’t bother investigating the sound, so he doesn’t see Mr. Spock at all, despite being only 6″ away from him. The remaining Klingons all move around, but fail to spot any of the Enterprise crew.

Kancho!

Turn 2: Spock activates first and stealthily moves towards the closest Klingon guard. He applies the Vulcan nerve pinch and the Klingon goes down silently. Spock helps himself to the Klingon’s disruptor. (Game mechanics: Spock and the Klingon both have “Dirty Tricks”; Spock wins and gets an extra d10, which represents his nerve pinch. He handily defeats the Klingon in melee.)

I see nothing.

Despite being within spotting distance and despite Spock engaging in melee, one of the Klingons fails to spot Spock and turns away. Nothing to see here. McCoy activates another encounter marker, but it’s nothing. The remaining Klingons move. (It’s around now that we realized we’ve been playing guard duty rules wrong; that until the alarm is raised only ONE guard is supposed to move each turn. The others can change facing, but that’s about it. We decide to play it correctly from this point on.) Kirk activates and moves closer to the action, but doesn’t really do anything substantive.

Some folks wouldn’t think to use a giant penis as a weapon. Kirk isn’t one of those folks.

Turn 3: The Klingons gain initiative. One of them moves towards Kirk, but he fails to see the Captain. Kirk activates an encounter marker: “I got a rock.” He finds a heavy, interestingly-shaped rock that he can use as a weapon (functions as a club).

Kirk wastes no time, immediately taking a Heroic Action and charging the closest Klingon from behind. He brains the Klingon into unconsciousness and takes the Klingon’s disruptor. (He also inexplicably holds onto the rock.) That’s two guards down, and the remaining Klingons are none the wiser. Spock and McCoy both move off towards other encounters. The remaining Klingons change facing.

Turn 4: The Klingons activate and one returns to his original position. Kirk activates an encounter: reinforcements! Two Klingon guards enter via a table edge that is not an escape route. They’re loud and obnoxious, which makes it harder for the Klingons to spot any of the Enterprise crew this turn. The downside is they’re here to stay!

Turns out those GW artillery dice are still useful.

Spock triggers another restless guard, who moves in a random direction. He walks right between Spock and McCoy, but doesn’t see either one of them. (These guards are bad at guarding.) McCoy ignores the guard and activates an encounter marker. It’s the crew’s gear: communicators, phasers and tricorders! Now that the Enterprise crew has secured their gear, they can move off the board! McCoy and Spock are relatively close to the right edge, but Kirk is still pretty far away…The other Klingons change facing, etc. No one spots any of the Enterprise crew.

Turn 5: The Klingons activate and one immediately spots Mr. Spock. He sounds the alarm and fires at Spock, hitting the Vulcan and inflicting 1 wound!

Behold! I walked through this wall!

The Klingon lieutenant is deployed immediately, from a board edge that is not an escape route. Spock returns fire on the Klingon guard, killing him. The lieutenant charges into combat with Spock. Klingons fight better in melee than with guns, but not this time. Spock wins, inflicting one wound on the Klingon lieutenant!

McCoy adds injury to injury, firing into the melee with his newly-recovered phaser. He hits the Klingon lieutenant and puts him down for good!

The closest Klingon to Kirk charges him from behind, but it doesn’t go well for him. Kirk swings his big, manly rock with abandon, clubbing the Klingon to the ground.

Kirk sprints towards the right side of the board, spending two Hero Points to gets some extra movement.

Turn 6: The Enterprise crew makes a run for it. They can all reach the edge of the board, but can’t exit until next turn. The Klingons pursue, but fail to catch them.

Turn 7: The Enterprise crew gets initiative and escapes! Victory for Starfleet!

Once he realized they were not being pursued, Kirk slowed to a halt. “Now we can contact Scotty. We could use some reinforcements. We have to find Dr. Hubbard and stop whatever it is the Klingons are doing here.”

McCoy stared at the rock in Kirk’s hand. “You know, that thing looks like just about the biggest-“

“That’s enough, Bones,” said Kirk.

“I concur, Doctor,” said Spock. “It certainly bears a remarkable resemblance to a-“

“Yes, yes, Spock,” snapped Kirk, impatiently.

“Look, Jim,” said McCoy, “I’m a doctor. I’ve seen a million of ’em in my day. That one’s definitely noteworthy.”

“Whatever! It served its purpose!” yelled Kirk.

“Right,” said McCoy. “Can’t argue with that. But Jim… why are you still holding it?”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

Kirk tossed the rock aside and flipped open his communicator. “Kirk to Enterprise…come in, Scotty.”

Analysis: We played this scenario a couple of times. This was the most fun. (The first time we played, the Enterprise crew found their gear on the first encounter marker and it quickly degenerated into a firefight with no stealth at all. Boring.) It played very quickly, only about 25 minutes or so.

When creating the encounter markers for this scenario, I just had to include the infamous phallic rock from the classic episode “What are Little Girls Made Of?” Watching that scene really makes you wonder if the props department was deliberately fucking with the network, or if maybe Gene Roddenberry was. How could anyone see that and just see a rock? It had to be deliberate.

This was my first time playing a scenario with the guard duty rules in the 2nd edition. I was struck by just how difficult it is for guards to spot the heroes, even when they’re standing right in front of their faces. At least, it turned out that way the second time.

Coming soon, the final chapter, as Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise face off against the Klingon Captain and his men for control of the strange energy of Hubbard’s World! Watch for “Tug of War!”

Hubbard’s World: Race to the Source: A Fantastic Worlds Star Trek AAR

Captain’s Log Supplemental: We have determined the science team entered the jungle to investigate an unknown energy source; one that seems responsible for the sentient, animate plant life we have discovered here on Hubbard’s World. This planet is fraught with danger; we have already lost Ensign Gatwick, and we discovered the body of Ensign Jorgensen, a botanist assigned to Dr. Hubbard’s science team. Further, a Klingon spy managed to escape the camp before we could stop him. What he was doing here is unknown, however it’s a good bet the communications array fell victim to Klingon sabotage, and that the Klingons now know everything we do. We are going into the jungle to find the source of the strange energy and to discover the fate of our missing scientists.

The humidity was oppressive and brutal. Even Spock was showing signs of exertion. All around them, the flora of Hubbard’s World seemed an impenetrable, dark curtain; eerily silent, with none of the insect or animal sounds common to jungles on planets everywhere. Still, Captain James T. Kirk felt as though they were being watched.

Dr. McCoy wiped his forehead with his sleeve. “Are we there yet?”

Spock consulted his tricorder. “I assume you are speaking rhetorically, Doctor. Scans indicate we are still some distance from the source of the energy readings.”

“Your Vulcan physiology may be used to this kind of heat, Spock,” said McCoy, irritably, “but we humans aren’t meant to live like this, breathing soup.”

“Although my planet’s temperatures average several degrees higher than the current temperature here on Hubbard’s World,” Spock replied,”Vulcan is an arid, desert planet with far less atmospheric carbon dioxide. We would all breathe more comfortably there.”

McCoy smirked. “So, you’re saying it’s not the heat, it’s–“

“Finish that sentence at your own risk, Bones,” said Kirk. “What else is that tricorder telling you, Spock?”

“It is presently informing me that we are not alone, Captain.”

At that moment, a disruptor blast incinerated a nearby tree. The three men quickly took cover.

Kirk scowled and drew his phaser. “Klingons!”

Scenario: The crew of the Enterprise, in search of the missing science team, is making their way through the inhospitable jungle to the source of the strange energy readings that seems to be affecting the plant life on Hubbard’s World. The Klingons are doing the same.

Victory Conditions: The teams are searching for clues to find the source of the energy. This is represented by a series of 3 encounter markers. The first team to discover the path to the energy source by finding the last clue may nominate a point within 6″ of the model that discovered it. The first team to move all their models off the board from this point wins.

Special Rules

Dense Foliage: The jungle is dense and difficult to move through. Speeed is halved, and models must pass a Brawn test every round to avoid becoming entangled.

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity: The jungle is oppressive; all models have a penalty of -1 to their Brawn and Melee scores for the scenario. (In addition, any miniature who utters the name of this rule aloud is immediately attacked by his own teammates.)

Ambush!: Because the Klingon player won the last scenario and the spy escaped, the Klingons have been forewarned and have had time to set up ambushes in the jungle. The Klingon player may replace up to 2 encounter cards with ambush cards. When activated by a Starfleet model, place a Klingon model 6″ behind the model that activated the encounter. This model attacks immediately and counts as Gettin’ the Drop on the Starfleet model. The model will activate normally on the next turn. If this encounter is activated by a Klingon model, it counts as no effect. Shuffle the card back into the deck.

Forces: The Enterprise crew is down a man, as Ensign Gatwick fell victim to the dangerous plant-beings of Hubbard’s World last scenario. As a result, only Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Ensign Heathrow are available for this scenario. The Klingons consist of Korgal, a Klingon lieutenant, and four Klingon warriors, plus any that are activated by ambush encounters.

Turn 1: The Enterprise crew gets initiative. Spock activates first and moves to within 3″ of an an encounter marker. Being Observant, he can activate it from there. The card drawn is “What are you doing here?” A friendly Grade 1 model is lost in the jungle, and immediately joins the team. Ensign Stansted, a security officer, somehow got separated from the team. He’s back now! Korgal, the Klingon lieutenant activates, moving towards a nearby encounter marker, but not close enough to activate it.

Dr. McCoy heads off towards another marker. Like Spock, he’s Observant, and soon discovers a clue! Tricorder readings indicate that the energy signature is strongest in this direction. (This is the first of three clues needed to discover the path to the source.)

The rest of the turn (out of sequence) has the remaining Klingons moving into the jungle towards encounter markers, getting closer to the Enterprise crew. Kirk uses his Voice of Command twice, first to allow Ensign Heathrow to move (he promptly gets entangled in the jungle), then to make Ensign Stansted move. Finally, Kirk moves. No one can activate any more encounter markers, and no one else gets entangled.

Turn 2: The Enterprise crew retains initiative. McCoy moves and activates an encounter: it’s an ambush! A Klingon soldier appears behind McCoy and immediately fires, but McCoy manages to dodge aside. Ensign Heathrow fires at the Klingon lieutenant, inflicting one wound!

One of the Klingons meets one of the more dangerous plants on Hubbard’s World: a Deathspitter, so named for its ability to spit death. It immediately does so, dissolving the screaming Klingon into a puddle of goo with its caustic digestive juices.

Kirk uses Voice of Command to command Ensign Stansted to act; he triggers another ambush, this time with fatal consequences. The dirty Klingon shoots him right in the back, and Ensign Stansted’s brief tenure with the landing party comes to an end! Another Klingon finds the second clue: More tricorder readings indicate the energy is this way!

Kirk activates and shoots the Klingon that took a backshot at McCoy, vaporizing him instantly. Spock moves, but doesn’t do much else. Finally, two Klingons team up to take down the Deathspitter, as neither one wants to end up like their friend.

Turn 3: The Klingons gain initiative. Korgal moves towards cover and fires at Ensign Heathrow, killing him! Sadly, that accounts for all the Starfleet security officers in the landing party. Spock stumbles into some quicksand and begins to sink. He’ll have to pass a Brawn test to get out on his own, because the only person close enough to assist him is a Klingon soldier! He shoots Spock instead, causing one wound! McCoy and a Klingon soldier exchange fire, but neither one hits the other.

Captain Kirk sprints towards Korgal, trusting in good old-fashioned brawling to get the job done. He takes a Heroic Action to charge the lieutenant, but it doesn’t go well for him. Kirk falls victim to the Klingon’s Dirty Tricks, which gives Korgal an extra die to roll in Melee. Kirk is bested this round and takes a wound!

Turn 4: The Klingons get initiative, and Korgal must act first. He’s locked in melee with Kirk, so it’s 23rd century fisticuffs right out of the gate. Kirk rolls two 10’s, which not only beats the Klingon’s roll, it increases the strength of the attack by 4! The Klingon lieutenant falls below the double hand chop of Captain Kirk! Then, Kirk acts, firing at the Klingon who is facing down McCoy. He rolls yet another natural 10, increasing the attack strength and vaporizing the Klingon soldier! (That’s why he’s the Captain.)

Spock passes his Brawn test easily and extricates himself from the quicksand, but the Klingon fires at him again, causing another wound. Spock is KO’ed! McCoy finds nothing of interest when he finally gets close to an encounter marker.

Another Klingon blunders into another Deathspitter, with similar results as last time. The Klingon’s Wilhelm scream quickly turns into more of a gurgle as his whole body is reduced to essential salts and amino acids. The final Klingon sprints towards the center of the board, where one of the last two encounter markers is located. Could it be the last clue?

Turn 5: Spock fails his Will test to recover, so he’s still out cold. The Klingons get initiative. The one who moved last takes cover and shoots at Captain Kirk, causing a wound. Kirk only has 1 wound left! Kirk returns fire and kills the Klingon. The sole remaining Klingon fires at the Deathspitter, rolling exceedingly well. Well enough to kill it, in fact. Then he continues his movement towards the encounter marker in the bottom corner of the board. Dr. McCoy moves towards Kirk to administer medical aid, but doesn’t get close enough.

Turn 6: Spock once again fails to pass his Will test and remains unconscious. The Klingon gets initiative again, after a truly abysmal roll by Starfleet. He moves closer to the encounter marker in the corner, betting all his chips on it being the last clue. Captain Kirk activates the encounter marker in the center. It turns out to be nothing, which means the Klingon is going to discover the last clue and likely win the scenario, unless he is stopped! McCoy moves closer to Kirk, but that’s about all he can do…

Turn 7: Spock remains unconscious! The Enterprise crew (what’s left of it, anyway) gains initiative. Kirk uses Voice of Command to order McCoy to fire on the Klingon. Despite rolling a natural 10, McCoy misses! (The Klingon rolled a 10 on his Dodge, which resulted in a tie.) The Klingon can’t reach the encounter marker, so he fires at Kirk. He hits! Kirk goes down!

Turn 7: Spock fails his Will test AGAIN. Kirk fails his Quick Recovery test. Both remain unconscious. On the last turn, it’s just Dr. McCoy and the last Klingon. McCoy takes his (thematically appropriate) action to revive Kirk, but the Klingon has more than enough time to discover the final clue and make his escape.

Victory to the Klingons!

The hiss of a hypospray preceded Kirk’s return to consciousness by several seconds. His eyes fluttered open. Instantly alert, he tried to stand, only to be firmly pushed prone.

“Easy, Jim,” McCoy said. “You’re not there yet.”

“Bones!” Kirk sat up anyway, ignoring his doctor. “The Klingons-“

“Got away,” McCoy said. “With Spock.”

“We have to go after him!”

“How convenient for you,” said a sneering voice. “for here he is.” Korgal and several Klingons surrounded the pair, disruptors drawn. Two of them held Spock between them. The Vulcan was bound and unconscious.

“Take them,” ordered Korgal.

Analysis: This was a dramatic game! The final clue was the last encounter marker activated, so the encounter deck was fully exhausted. It didn’t go very well for Starfleet; despite having better quality forces, they were just outnumbered. The Klingon ambushes really gave them an advantage, both with the free attacks and additional forces.

Although we were pretty good about making the recovery rolls for Spock, we forgot all about Korgal. As a Grade 2 model, he was entitled to recovery rolls too. Also, I’m pretty sure we forgot to roll for entanglements due to Dense Foliage most of the time.

The next scenario was supposed to be the last of the campaign, but in true Fantastic Worlds/.45 Adventure fashion, we need to play a “Captured” scenario first, as all the heroes have been taken prisoner.

Check back soon for “Captured!” (I couldn’t think of another title.)

Hubbard’s World: Outpost Laertes: A Fantastic Worlds Star Trek AAR

Captain’s Log: Stardate 1315.9: We have received word that Federation Outpost Laertes, a science station on the newly-discovered Hubbard’s World in the Klingon neutral zone, has gone silent. We arrived in the system to discover a Klingon battle cruiser in orbit around the planet. Our repeated hails to the outpost remain unanswered. Of course, the Klingons deny any knowledge of the outpost’s fate and would like us to leave. Commander Spock, Dr. McCoy and I, accompanied by Ensigns Gatwick and Heathrow from Starfleet security, are beaming down to the planet’s surface to investigate. Chief Engineer Scott has been given command of Enterprise in my absence.

Outpost Laertes looked abandoned. Vines and creepers already encroached on the small clearing where the science team’s supplies still lay neatly stacked in crates and barrels. The jungle seemed poised to quickly reclaim the ground where the Federation outpost stood. A standard Starfleet communications array, clearly damaged and inoperative, sat atop the basic, prefab building that served as both laboratory and living quarters to the missing scientists.

Spock regarded his tricorder. “Fascinating.”

Kirk and McCoy traded glances, but the Vulcan didn’t elaborate. “Well, don’t keep us in suspense, Spock,” said the Captain. “What is it?”

“Life sign readings are overwhelmingly vegetable in origin. I estimate some 97.56%”

McCoy’s uneasy gaze took in the vast jungle around them. “You don’t say. That’s fascinating, all right.”

“There is no trace of the science team,” continued Spock, coolly ignoring the doctor, “at least not in the immediate area.”

“Jim! Look!”

Kirk whirled and focused his attention where McCoy indicated. Four bipedal, plantlike creatures began to shamble out of the surrounding jungle. They looked like walking flowers, but much more menacing. They began to converge on the clearing.

“It’s like the jungle is coming alive,” said McCoy.

“Incorrect, Doctor,” said Spock. “These beings were certainly alive prior to our arrival, and did not spontaneously animate, as you suggest.”

McCoy flushed angrily. Before he could respond, Kirk stepped forward. “I am Captain James T. Kirk of the United Federation of Planets. We come in peace and mean you no harm.” In response, one of the plant-things ejected a stream of liquid in Kirk’s direction. He quickly stepped aside as it splashed on one of the supply crates nearby. Immediately, it began to smoke and hiss as the outer casing began to dissolve.

“Well, that’s darn rude,” said McCoy.

“Rude perhaps, though likely unintentionally so,” said Spock. “There is no indication that attempts at verbal communication should be effective, or that these beings possess any sense of hearing, at least not in the way we understand.” The plant things crept closer. “Phasers on stun, Captain?”

“When was the last time you stunned a houseplant, Spock?” asked McCoy. The Vulcan raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

“Let’s not do anything we regret,” said Kirk, adjusting his phaser. “Low heat setting should be enough to show them we can defend ourselves if need be.”

Scenario: The Enterprise crew beams down to the site of the science outpost to find it deserted. They must search for clues to discover what happened to the science team. While they do so, they are attacked by some of the plant creatures of Hubbard’s World. Meanwhile, a Klingon spy is hiding near the camp, hoping to learn everything he can before he makes his escape, both about the Federation technology that now lies abandoned and about the landing party from the Enterprise.

Victory Conditions: The Enterprise crew must find three clues in order to discover what happened to the science team and in order to discover the strange energy readings. For every clue the Enterprise team discovers, the Klingon spy automatically gets one piece of information that is of value to his superiors. Once all clues have been found, the first team to move all the surviving models off the nearest board edge wins the scenario. (Only the Klingon spy needs to leave the board for the Klingon player to end the scenario.)

The Enterprise crew beams down to the science outpost.

Turn 1: The Enterprise crew gains initiative. McCoy activates first, and heads immediately towards the building. He activates the encounter marker there and discovers a clue: the remains of a Federation science officer, Ensign Jorgensen, one of the botanists assigned to the science team. He’s been partially dissolved. McCoy passes his Will check, and as a result he doesn’t have to spend next turn throwing up. One of the plant creepers spits its corrosive liquid at Ensign Gatwick, but misses him by a country mile.

Spock activates and heads into the jungle. He passes his Brawn check and is not entangled by the dense foliage. He activates an encounter marker (no effect). Another plant creeper spits at Spock, but the Vulcan ducks aside. Kirk uses his ability, Voice of Command, to make Ensign Gatwick act next. Gatwick fires at a shambling plant creature, but fails to hit.

A plant creeper creeps closer. Kirk shows Gatwick how it’s done. He steps forward and blasts one of the shambling plant creatures that spit at his first officer, killing it. Ensign Heathrow takes aim at an approaching plant creature, but he misses.

Turn two starts off with one of the plant creepers spitting its caustic juices all over Ensign Gatwick, who lets out a Wilhelm scream and dies horribly. Oh, the humanity!

Kirk uses his Voice of Command ability again, this time to allow Ensign Heathrow to go first. He spends a Hero Point, takes a deep breath, and vaporizes the nearest plant creeper to his position.

The plant creeper nearest to Dr. McCoy attacks, but the doctor has no intention of ending up like poor Jorgensen. The plant misses, McCoy returns fire and kills it. Kirk fires at the plant creeper that killed Ensign Gatwick and kills it, too. Spock heads deeper into the jungle and activates another encounter marker. Another clue! Tricorder readings indicate a strange energy coming from farther off in the jungle. All the vegetation on the planet seems imbued with this strange energy. Did the science team go investigate?

Turn 3: No plant creepers remain, so the Enterprise crew has the run of the board. Ensign Heathrow heads off into the jungle, but fails his Brawn test and gets entangled in the thick vegetation before going too far.

Dr, McCoy stumbles directly into a slumbering plant beast! This one’s huge, and it’s not happy!

The Plant Beast wastes no time. It swats Dr. McCoy hard, knocking him back and inflicting one wound!

McCoy is down, but not out. Spock activates next, moving back into the clearing and firing his phaser. He hits the Plant Beast squarely, inflicting a wound. The Plant Beast barely feels it! Kirk fires at the Plant Beast, wounding it; then immediately spends 2 Hero Points to take a Heroic Action, charging forward and firing again for another wound! Now the Plant Beast takes notice!

Turn 4: The Plant Beast gets initiative and charges Kirk, but Kirk spends another Hero Point and manages to evade the Beast’s grasping tendrils. Spock fires again but misses; McCoy tries to administer aid to himself but is too stunned and fails his roll. Kirk fires at point-blank range and finally kills the huge Plant Beast. Ensign Heathrow manages to extricate himself from the clinging foliage, but blunders into a spore cloud and is knocked unconscious for 2 turns!

Turn 5: Once again, with no opposition, the Enterprise crew has board control. McCoy moves into the jungle to revive Ensign Heathrow. He is successful! Spock and Kirk likewise enter the jungle, heading for encounter markers. Spock finds nothing, but Kirk discovers a final clue: the signs of several humanoids passing into the jungle is a clear indication that the science team went in search of the strange energy readings. The vegetation seems to have grown back abnormally fast. If not for their tricorders, the crew may have missed the science team’s tracks altogether!

At that very moment, the Klingon spy makes his move! Armed with the information on the Enterprise crew and their plans to seek the energy source themselves, he quickly attempts to race back to his superiors!

Turn 6: The Klingon spy gains initiative and flees into the jungle. He passes his Brawn test and is not entangled, but is slowed by the dense foliage. Spock activates and attempts to flank him. He fires at the Klingon, but misses. Kirk once again uses his Voice of Command to order Ensign Heathrow to pursue. The Ensign gives chase and fires, but he misses! Kirk all-out sprints into the clearing, trying to get as close to the Klingon as he can. He spends two Hero Points to take another Heroic Action, and fires, but he misses his mark! (Looks like they all need to go back to Starfleet marksman school!) McCoy chases after Ensign Heathrow, but gets entangled in the brush.

Turn 7: The bad luck continues for Starfleet this turn. In a last-ditch effort, Kirk commands Ensign Heathrow to take the shot! Sadly, the Ensign misses again, which allows the Klingon to slip away into the jungle!

Victory to the Klingons!

Analysis: The rules changes I made worked well and sped things up considerably. Not having to roll for wound location and keep track of deteriorating abilities made each shot count.

My first thought was that the scenario favors the Klingon player, since the Klingons only need to move one model off the board to win. Additionally, until the spy is revealed, Starfleet takes all the lumps from the plant creatures. But, considering the Starfleet player can just shoot the spy and win by default, this balances things out a bit. Turns out in my game Starfleet got the yips when it counted most and missed the Klingon with every shot!

I built the characters using a variety of archetypes from both Fantastic Worlds and .45 Adventure 2nd Edition, which was the core rules engine I used for the game mechanics. The Special Abilities listed are taken with my rules changes in mind, so nothing that would require wound location or stat changes. I also changed “Ray Gun” to “Phaser” and “Blade” to “Melee”, purely for thematic reasons.

Captain Kirk (Grade 3): DR 5 Brains 4 Will 4 Brawn 3 Guts 10 Phaser 4 Melee 6 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Brawler +2d10, Pugilist +1, Leadership, Tactics +1d10, Nerves of Steel +2, Voice of Command, Quick Recovery, Heroic Action

Mr. Spock (Grade 2): DR 5 Brains 6 Will 5 Brawn 5 Guts 7 Phaser 3 Melee 3 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Genius +2, Observant, Immune to Fear, Incredible Will +1, Nerve Pinch (Dirty Tricks), Undying Loyalty, Well-Prepared

Dr. McCoy (Grade 2): DR 4 Brains 5 Will 5 Brawn 3 Guts 8 Phaser 3 Melee 3 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Genius +1, Leadership, Medical Knowledge, Nerves of Steel +2, Observant, Undying Loyalty

Starfleet Security (Grade 1): DR 4 Brains 2 Will 2 Brawn 3 Guts 6 Phaser 3 Melee 2 Dodge 2 Speed 5 Sharpshooter +1d10, Tactics +1d10, Devotion, Nerves of Steel +1

Klingon Spy (Grade 1) DR 4 Brains 2 Will 3 Brawn 4 Guts 4 Phaser 2 Melee 3 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Brawler +1d10, Ferocious, Fencing +1d10, Bruiser +1

Up next: Race to the Source!

Hubbard’s World: A Fantastic Worlds Star Trek Campaign

I decided since I have all these Modiphius Star Trek miniatures, I should play something with them. This left me with the task of finding a set of rules conducive to Star Trek skirmish gaming. Modiphius has their own rules, callled Red Alert, for just this sort of thing; but I find it to be a cumbersome system that requires familiarity with their roleplaying game (which I have, but still…) I looked into a few other options, like using Osprey’s Black Ops (fail) and Pulp Alley (I only perused the starter rules, but it seemed like too much work for Trek). None of them really captured what I was looking for: simple rules that allow for heroic acts and can capture the feel of Star Trek.

Then I remembered Fantastic Worlds, which is the pulp sci-fi version of Rattrap’s .45 Adventure. I haven’t played .45 Adventure in a long time, but I love it lots. After I dug out my copy of Fantastic Worlds I knew I had what I needed. I made some rules changes (primarily to combat) to help speed everything along.

The rules I changed were really quite simple. .45 Adventure has a detailed combat system that involves wound location and deteriorating statistics based on damage received. For example, you get shot in the arm, your shooting and brawling abilities go down; you get shot in the legs, your movement speed decreases, etc. The better your character, the higher his stats and the more wound boxes he has; therefore wounds have less of an effect on heroic characters and a greater effect on scrubs.

For my game, this was a bit more bookkeeping than I wanted to deal with. I decided a model has a number of wounds equal to its rank and damage resistance (DR) commensurate with their abilities, and that wound location doesn’t matter. If a character is wounded, he loses a wound. Rank 3 and Rank 2 characters are KOed when they lose their last wound; Rank 1 scrubs aren’t so lucky: they’re dead (unless they are supposed to be KOed). This makes combat a lot faster and more deadly, but requires a lot less effort to keep track of a character round-to-round. Heroic characters ( like Kirk) may have access to abilities that allow them to shrug off and/or heal wounds, or to act regardless of them, but Joe Redshirt is probably going to die. It’s the Trek way.

The tradeoff is that a lot of special abilities are based around wound location, such as Supreme Effort, which allows a model to use his starting stats for a wound location for a turn (regardless of how badly damaged that location is); or Dead Shot, which improves your chances of hitting a specific location. Since I scrapped wound location, none of the models could use these; which somewhat limited the selection of skills I had access to. Each location also has its own Damage Resistance value. It’s generally easier to wound someone if you hit them in the head as opposed to hitting their arm, for example. I scrapped that too, and just assigned a blanket DR to an entire model. The more important or tough the model is, the more DR it has.

I was ready to boldly go. I just needed a compelling story. So…

Hubbard’s World (or Q’uvakh, as it is known in Klingon) is a lush, jungle-covered M-Class planet in the midst of the Klingon/Federation Neutral Zone. No one can say with certainty who discovered it first (although Dr. William Hubbard took the liberty of naming it after himself); however, both the Federation and The Klingon Empire have staked a claim. Under the provisions of the Organian Treaty, both powers are allowed to develop the planet for non-military use to the best of their ability, while ensuring any native species are not interfered with.

Several months ago, the Federation sent a science team to set up an outpost to observe the new life on Hubbard’s World, but soon lost contact with them. The U.S.S. Enterprise was dispatched to investigate the disappearance of Dr. Hubbard and his team. When they arrived in the sector they discovered a Klingon battle cruiser orbiting the planet. Naturally, suspicion immediately fell upon the Klingons; but they denied any knowledge of the science team’s disappearance.

The Klingons explained that while the Federation claimed to be interested in scientific research, the Klingon Empire had more practical concerns: their intent was to cultivate the world for food production, as (unbeknownst to the Federation) the Empire was in the midst of famine. They loudly insisted that they had no reason to interfere with any scientific expedition and resented the implication they would do so. They warned the Enterprise to quickly conduct their investigation and be on their way, as they considered this larger Federation presence to be an act of aggression.

Of course, the Federation was telling the truth about their motives. The Klingons were lying…

Up next: Hubbard’s World, Part 1: Outpost Laertes!

Death Soldiers of the Jade Hood: Part 2

When we last left our intrepid adventurers Bridget Rourke and Mo Shrevnitz, they had managed to obtain evidence that the Jade Hood was behind the strange disappearances of ordinary citizens in New Commerce. Bridget was able to snap a photo of some of the Jade Hood’s goons loading some suspicious chemicals onto trucks in the Warehouse District.  A shipping label from the Phillips Chemical Consortium was prominently displayed in the photo.

Bridgit went to alert the police and get the necessary warrants for a raid on the chemical plant, while Mo met up with New Commerce’s vigilante crimefighter, The Gargoyle, for a raid of their own. Meanwhile, the nefarious Jade Hood, aware that his schemes are threatened, sends a crew of goons to the chemical plant with orders to blow it sky-high…

 Scenario 2: Raid on the Phillips Chemical Consortium

Actually, this is technically Scenario 3, as Scenario 2 is a scenario to be run in the event the heroes are captured. The scene is an industrial complex, with lots of machinery and crates to hide behind. This gave me a good chance to break out my Aftermath Modular Terrain. I’m glad I bought in on this Kickstarter, as it’s really some great stuff. I bought in for $100, and the stuff shown below isn’t even half of what I got. The machinery was made by a fellow TMPer, Russell95403, and it works well for this scenario.

Basically, the good guys, Mo and The Gargoyle, need to find two key pieces of evidence and get out of the warehouse before the bad guys blow it up. The bad guys need to plant two time bombs and detonate them. The heroes get extra Victory Points if they can disarm the bombs or prevent the bad guys from planting them at all.

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This was the initial setup.  Once again, my buddy Matt took the part of the heroes. Opposing them, played by me, were two Grade 2 Enforcers, Chopper Murphy and Frankie the Fish; and two Grade 1 Gat Men, Limey Joe and Pete the Dentist (you don’t want to know how he got that nickname).

The scenario relies heavily on encounter markers. There are 12 in all, 6 for the heroes and 6 for the villains. Heroes can’t activate villain encounters and vice-versa. The interesting part is the type of encounter (hero or villain) is only revealed when the encounter marker falls within line-of-sight of one of the models on the board. The model still has to come in contact with it to activate it. Among other things, the pieces of evidence and the bomb locations are encounters which must be resolved, which means that each side is trying to get to their encounter markers as quickly as possible, while dodging the bullets and fists of the opposing team!

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On the first turn, both sides rushed in, trying to get to their encounter markers as quickly as possible. The villains activated one of theirs: a Tong Assassin! Not content to trust the safety of his schemes to his henchmen, the Jade Hood hired a Tong Assassin to ensure that the heroes don’t leave the warehouse alive. The assassin enters play through on of the side entrances.

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Soon after, Chopper Murphy finds one of the ideal locations to plant a time bomb. He sets it for two turns and prepares to move out of the blast radius.

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The Gargoyle knows he only has moments to act. He charges forward, guns blazing, and manages to wound Chopper Murphy. The crazed machine-gun maniac fires back, but the hasty expenditure of a Hero Point saves the Gargoyle from being riddled with bullets! Meanwhile, Mo runs at the other goons, but is intercepted by the Tong Assassin!

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The Gargoyle rushes to the ticking bomb, and, heedless of his own safety, attempts to disarm it! He succeeds! Chopper Murphy, slack-jawed at the Gargoyle’s boldness, opens fire again; this time wounding the Gargoyle. But the crimefighter isn’t down yet!

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With a flurry of hands the Tong Assassin leaps at Mo, delivering the 1000 needle strike! Mo barely feels it, and delivers two punishing body blows to the assassin. The Tong assassin drops like a wet bag of dirt and doesn’t move!

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Pete the Dentist sneaks around a piece of machinery and plugs the Gargoyle in the back! The Gargoyle, still reeling from Chopper Murphy’s machine gun rain, goes down!

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Mo takes this opportunity to charge Pete the Dentist, with predictable results. He levels Pete without breaking a sweat. I’m beginning to think no one has a chance against Mo, at lest not in hand-to-hand!

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The other two thugs, Frankie the Fish and Limey Joe, activate another encounter marker and find the other prime location to plant a bomb. Frankie sets the timer for three turns.

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Moe triggers an encounter, still hoping to find a piece of evidence. Instead, Bridget Rourke arrives with two Rookie cops! It’s not looking good for the bad guys!

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It looks even worse on the next turn, when The Gargoyle makes his Will roll and revives. Taking aim from the ground, The Gargoyle puts a slug between Chopper Murphy’s eyes! Then he gets shakily to his feet, scanning the warehouse…

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Limey Joe runs across the warehouse floor, taking a shot at Bridget Rourke on the way out. He misses. Frankie the Fish decides he’d better get out of the warehouse before it blows up, and runs off the board. But The Gargoyle spends another Hero point and sprints across the room towards the time bomb. He defuses it with seconds to spare!

Well, this turned out to be a pretty decisive victory for the good guys. The villains could only win if the bombs went off, and neither one did. The bad guys failed to kill or capture any of the heroes, even with the help of the Tong assassin. The heroes got extra Victory Points for defusing the bombs, but they could only win by finding the evidence, which they didn’t do. But since Frankie and Limey Joe fled the warehouse, the heroes had all the time in the world to search it. We decided the heroes found the evidence they needed after all.

And the Jade Hood? Well, let’s just say he wasn’t pleased. Frankie and Limey Joe won’t be returning for any further scenarios in the campaign…

 

 

 

 

Making Mescalero: Part 2

Just a short update on my Old West, south-of-the-border town, Mescalero. Over the past month or so I completed work on a couple of two-story structures. The basic process is the same as in Part One, but here are the differences.

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As you can see above, I constructed the frame of the buildings the usual way. I knew I would need stairs to reach the second level, and making them out of foamboard seemed to be pretty time consuming. Instead, I used a hot wire cutter to sculpt them out of insulation foam. Then I just glued them to the side of the building. Because they’re adobe buildings, I wasn’t all that concerned about uneven edges or the less-than perfect rise and run of the staircase. And neither should you be.

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After applying the wood filler, the buildings looked like this. I constructed them so the roof could lift off of both stories, allowing access to both levels inside. You’ll note I also made a large one-story building and some ruined walls at the same time. Why not?

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These are the finished buildings in this wave. I made the doors out of balsa wood and flocked the cork bases with sand and PVA, plus I added some dead static grass to them. I liked the look so much that I went back and added the static grass to all the Wave 1 buildings too.

I’m still working on the Church and Stables. When everything is done, I’ll post a photo of the whole town, including the ruins.  More updates soon!

A Fistful of Kung Fu: First Wave

A couple of months back I picked up a copy of Osprey’s A Fistful of Kung-Fu in the hopes that I would one day play it. Lord knows I have enough miniatures to jump right in (they just needed to be painted first), and whatever I didn’t have would give me an excuse to order more of Hasslefree’s Martial Artists.

After perusing the rulebook, I have to say I’m left with a definite “meh” feeling about the rules. The fluff and concept is terrific, the official miniatures by Northstar rock, but mechanics-wise it seems to be a very chart-heavy game. In other words, it seems like you’ll be spending a lot of time looking shit up as opposed to playing. Note that I haven’t actually PLAYED the game yet. These are only my first impressions.

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Anyway, I don’t own any of the Northstar miniatures, but I have more than a few others can can serve well for this game. Above are Shaolin Monks by Rattrap/Brigade Games. These guys are for use in their .45 Adventure game (and in fact will be used for that purpose on this very blog, coming soon!). The sculpts on these suffer from some obvious proportion issues, but who cares? Even though I’m happy with the results, I found them difficult to paint. Orange is one bitch of a color to shade well. At least for me.  The figure in the foreground is Osato, from Hasslefree. The Asian-themed terrain was a cheap find at Petco: clearance terrarium pieces!

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Up next are some of my old miniatures. I painted these about two years ago, and I notice some obvious flaws. In fact, I’m thinking of repainting them but I have too much to do. On the left is Hasslfree’s Tanshiro, facing off against Golgo Island’s White Tiger. You can get both from Hasslefree nowadays.

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I’ve found that some of the best miniatures for AFOKF come from the Clix lines. Above on the left is a repainted IndyClix Boon Sai Hong, facing off against a Marvel Clix Shang-Chi. I should note that Clix and some of the Hasslefree martial artists have a wide stance, so basing them requires a 30mm base as opposed to 25mm. So if you play with rules lawyers, beware. As a lifelong Master of Kung-Fu fan, I really enjoyed repainting and repurposing Shang-Chi.

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Reaper’s Chan Li (50190) from their Chronoscope Line, bears more than a passing resemblance to the late, great Bruce Lee. I painted him in homage to Enter the Dragon, complete with gashes.

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HA-DO-KEN!!!!! I couldn’t resist picking up a starter pack of Street Fighter Heroclix just for Ryu, on the left. I’m not a huge fan of the clear plastic energy effects so common on Clix miniatures, but this is an exception. I repainted and rebased him and he’s currently my favorite miniature I have painted for AFOKF. Facing off against him is Hasslefree’s Tetsuhara. I painted him to look like everyone’s favorite sumo wrestler, E. Honda. You can see the difference in base size above (Tetsuhara’s got a pretty wide stance). Ryu is on a 25mm base, Honda (Tetsuhara) is on a 30mm base.

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Another shot of Honda.

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And one more of Ryu.

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Last in this wave of miniatures is a familiar face: Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China. To be more accurate, this is RAFM’s Burt Jackson, Trucker from their USX Modern Day Heroes line. Northstar made their own limited edition not-Jack Burton, and it was great, but it was only available if you ordered all the starters and doesn’t seem to be available anymore.  I had RAFM’s version for a while, so I recently painted him up and posed him next to the cab of his Pork Chop Express. Hope you like him.

Maybe someday I’ll get around to actually playing A Fistful of Kung-Fu, and then I can more accurately give a review. In the meantime, it gives me an excuse to paint more martial artists!

 

 

Death Soldiers of the Jade Hood: Part 1

Since I bought .45 Adventure 2nd Edition, I’ve been itching to run some Pulp games with the new rules. In accordance with my new play style, I thought a miniatures campaign over the course of several weeks would be a good way to introduce all my friends to .45 Adventure while not necessarily needing to have them all present at once. It’s easy to jump into an episodic pulp game at any point, as each scenario doesn’t require much of a backstory.

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With that in mind I decided to run Death Soldiers of the Jade Hood, the published campaign for .45 Adventure 1st Edition. It will take a bit of fiddling to get it to run smoothly in the new edition, but I don’t think it’s beyond my abilities. I will give a brief synopsis of each scenario (including special rules), the full After Action Report, and any major differences between 1st and 2nd Edition that I encounter along the way.

The basic plot of the campaign is as follows: The nefarious Jade Hood, criminal mastermind of the city of New Commerce, has hatched a diabolical scheme to turn ordinary, unsuspecting citizens into bloodthirsty maniacs. He hopes to use his mind-controlled army to take over the city once and for all. Standing in his way is Ace Reporter Bridget Rourke, her faithful friend and ex-prizefighter Mo Shrevnitz, and the enigmatic vigilante of New Commerce…the Gargoyle!

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Scenario 1: The Waterfront Mystery

The board is set up as shown above. It’s a warehouse district at night, which limits visibility to 12″. Four streetlamps shed light in a 3″ radius. In the middle of the board is a white truck. The bad guys are loading the truck with crates (represented by the tokens) of chemicals that the Jade Hood needs to make his Death Soldier formula. Bridget Rourke has to get behind the truck and snap a photo of the crates being loaded, then get off the board with her evidence. The bad guys need to stop her or at least prevent her from snapping a picture and get away with the crates. My buddy Matt decided to play the heroes, leaving me with the bad guys. He started with Bridget Rourke (placing her on the left table edge, above). Mo started off the board until his encounter card was drawn. I started with 2 Grade 1 Brunos (Flanagan and Baldy), and 4 Grade 1/2 Mooks. I put two of the Mooks on guard duty and armed them with pistols. The other two Mooks were armed with a knife and club, respectively, and they were loading the truck.

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A couple of turns into the game, the Mooks have successfully loaded the truck with a few crates. Bridget has managed to avoid being spotted thus far, but she can’t get anywhere near the truck without being seen. A deck of cards is used to simulate random events, such as Mo arriving, random guard movement, and an opportunity to snap a picture.  I was a little unclear as to whether or not we should shuffle drawn cards back into the deck, but I decided to reshuffle as there were ten cards and only two chances to take a picture. (What if we drew the picture cards early? Does that mean there’s no chance for the heroes to win?)

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A few turns later, Bridget is spotted. She sprints across the street, trying to avoid the bad guys. Flanagan, Baldy and one of the Mook guards are in hot pursuit. The Mook fires his pistol at her, but it jams. Flanagan gets close but can’t tackle her this turn. The other Mooks continue to load the truck.

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Mo arrives!

Suddenly, Mo arrives just in the nick of time! He sees his friend Bridget is in trouble and rushes in, meaty fists swinging!

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This…HURTS.

On his activation next turn, Mo charges into combat. Now, here’s how 2nd Edition really differs from 1st: combat runs much more smoothly. Most models roll one die and add their Shiv score, keeping the result. Mo, however, is an ex-prize fighter, and he knows how to land a few punches. He has One-Two Punch and two levels of Brawler, which means he rolls four dice and keeps two. Plus, he charged into combat, so he gets to roll an additional die, bring his total to five dice, keeping 2 results. Yeah, Mo is pretty tough.

Among other results, Mo rolls two 10’s. This makes it impossible for Flanagan not to get hit and increases the strength of Mo’s fists from 7 (which is already stronger than most folks) to 9 (which is as powerful as a demolition charge) for two hits to Flanagan’s torso. Since 9 is three times stronger than Flanagan’s defense rating of 3, Moe does three wounds to Flanagan’s torso. Twice.

Being Grade 1, Flanagan only has one wound. So, Flanagan pretty much craps out his bones and keels over.

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Ka-POW!

The next turn, Bridget runs away, still trying to get to the back of the truck. At this point, I pretty much gave up with the random event draw, as most of the results weren’t making sense. (The guards had been roused already and were pursuing Bridget, so it wouldn’t make too much sense that they would suddenly get the urge for a smoke and randomly move off.) On his activation, Baldy charged Mo and tried to rough him up, but Mo wasn’t having any of it. Predictably, he floored Baldy with little effort.

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WHAMMO!

A couple of turns later, the pistol-armed Mooks ganged up and fired on Mo, but failed to hit him. Mo closed the gap, and using his Sweep ability, knocked both of them into next week with one punch!

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Meanwhile, Bridget moved closer to the truck’s rear end. Since we were no longer using the random deck, I ruled that if she could get into contact with the back of the truck, she could attempt to take a picture. The Mooks loading the truck finally decided to drop their crates and get involved. They moved towards Bridget with murderous intent, seeking to silence the nosy broad once and for all!

Bridget popped the flash on her camera, taking a picture of the incriminating chemicals and blinding the Mooks in the process. Despite having their Shiv score reduced to 1, the knife-wielding Mook managed to land a vicious hit on the Ace Reporter, and would have gutted her like a mackerel! But Bridget Rourke didn’t live so long covering crime in New Commerce without being Lucky. Matt spent two Hero points and Bridget managed to miraculously avoid the blow altogether.  Now, however, she was locked in hand-to-hand combat with two armed Mooks, and while Mo was on his way, he wasn’t there yet…

Next round, Mo ran to help his friend Bridget. Bridget couldn’t leave combat without taking some free hits from her assailants, so she craftily raised her camera again and ignited the flash, once again blinding the Mooks…and Mo.

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Don’t Look Now…

Later, Bridget’s blurry picture was developed. It showed the last few seconds of consciousness for the two Mooks, and incidentally fulfilled a bonus victory condition: she got a picture of combat taking place!

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When their eyes cleared, Mo was locked in combat with the two Mooks. Another Sweep, and another two unconscious Mooks. Bridget and Mo were able to exit the board with proof of the Jade Hood’s chemical designs and the fight. A clear victory for the heroes! That’s a wrap, boys!

Rules Synopsis and Differences:

There were a couple of rules differences I noticed between 1st and 2nd Edition. In 1st, Night limits visibility to 6″, whereas in 2nd, it’s 12″. This vastly increased the Spot distance for the guards. In the published scenario, spotting was handled with another deck, giving a 50% chance to not spot, a 25% chance to attempt to spot with a penalty, and a 25% chance to attempt to spot with no penalty. It doesn’t detail the penalty or what happens when the enemy is spotted, so I just threw out this whole mechanic and ruled that once a model was spotted, every model on the board was aware of it.

Also, once a model is spotted, it can’t ever hide again unless it has a special ability allowing it to do so. Bridget didn’t have any such ability, so once she was seen she was effectively screwed until Mo arrived.

Speaking of Mo, he clearly outclassed everyone on the table in combat. In the last edition’s combat system, Mo was nowhere near as tough. The new system really makes a difference.

Lastly, there are no Grade 1/2 models in 2nd Edition. Basically, they made Grade 1 models much weaker and did away with Grade 1/2 models altogether. If I was playing 1st edition 45 Adventure, this would have been a bit more of a challenge for Mo and Bridget, as the bad guys would have been able to stand up to Mo a bit longer.  I played the next scenario the same way (coming soon) and it was even more one-sided. From now on, when converting from 1st to 2nd edition when I see Grade 1/2 models, I’ll make them Grade 1; and when I see Grade 1 models, I will make them Grade 2. That way it won’t be as much of a cakewalk for the heroes.

Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode, coming soon!

 

Making Mescalero: Part 1

I had the week off last week, so I decided to devote some time to terrain-making. I was inspired by the awesome series of Youtube videos by The Terrain Tutor, which I had been watching at my desk the week prior. Hey, I can productively waste time at work like nobody else. In particular, I was inspired by this video, which is a comprehensive guide to using foamboard. A lot of the tips I already knew, but there were a lot of things I didn’t know and I’m glad I watched it.

I recently decided I wanted to get into Old West skirmish gaming, and to that end I have purchased a bunch of cowboys from Blue Moon Manufacturing. Not sure what rules I’m going to use yet, but I’m leaning towards Blackwater Gulch, as it’s a free download and seems pretty easy to play. Another possibility is .45 Adventure, just because I love it so much. In their Thrilling Tales Quarterly magazine, volume 2, there was an article by a guy named “Grimm” on how to make quick adobe buildings. So, between Grimm and the Terrain Tutor, I figured I was well-prepared to start on a Mexican village, which I have decided to call Mescalero. (And yes, I know it’s an area in New Mexico and the name of an Apache tribe. So what?)

I figured I would share with you the process I used. Please note that between the two sources I mentioned above, there’s very little I did that was original or new. I’m not claiming to be an innovator when it comes to building terrain. But  thought the time/process and end results might be of interest to all four of you who read this blog.

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Here’s what I started with: in addition to black foamboard, I used a couple of steel rulers with cork backing, a few different types of razor knives, some Elmer’s glue and a heat gun.  I traced some basic building templates on 5″x7″ index cards and cut them out.

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I used the templates to trace patterns on the foamboard, then cut them out using the knives and rulers. The Terrain Tutor has some great tips on how to cut foamboard cleanly and evenly, especially in hard to reach places like doors and windows. I wasn’t too worried about getting precise cuts since I was making adobe walls.

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Once this was done, I used a heat gun to heat up the corners so I could easily remove the paper backing of the foamboard, creating areas where the walls have cracked. Prior to this, I did not own a heat gun. I picked this one up at Home Depot for 20 bucks.

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Once the paper is peeled back, it’s easy to sculpt a brick pattern onto the foam itself. I used this old butter knife.

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Quick tip: Heat guns are not hair dryers. They get hot quickly and will melt the foam if you keep them on too long. Too long is more than a couple of seconds. Then you get something like this, above. Notice the bottom left corner, it melted away from the paper. Oh, they can also burn you, too, if you’re not careful, so watch where you put the tip when you’re finished.

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Once everything is cut out and sculpted, I assembled the buildings using the Elmer’s glue. I secured them for a good bond using pins inserted into the joins, as well as this painter’s tape. Painter’s tape is great because the adhesive is pretty weak. It will hold the joins together, but it’s easy to peel off once you’re done.

Quick tip: although painter’s tape has a weak adhesive, that adhesive will get a lot stronger if you let it sit for a while, as anyone who has ever used it to paint a room will know. In other words, It’s fine to let it sit overnight, but you should remove it the next day. Letting it sit for a few days or a week will make it very difficult to remove in one piece and may damage your foamboard. (Of course, if you’re making adobe buildings like me, that might not be a big deal. See below.)

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I deviated from Grimm on the next step. He recommends cutting your base out and wrapping it in textured wallpaper to create a floor. Then he mounts the building to the base. I didn’t have any textured wallpaper, but I did have some extra Mayhem tiles from World Works Games that I hadn’t used. Considering it was going to be the floor of a building, I thought I would just use those. You can see I made several buildings before proceeding to this step.

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I traced the inside of the buildings onto the WWG tiles to get a template for the floors, then cut them out and glued them on with paper glue (somewhat stronger than Elmer’s) for a tight bond. You can see the results above. I also traced the inside of the building onto foamboard so I could make a ceiling.

Quick tip: Make sure you trace the inside of the building on the correct side. For example, if you’re making a ceiling, trace the inside top of the building, not the bottom. Don’t assume the floor is exactly the same dimensions as your ceiling. I know it should be, but it’s not, as unless you have a perfectly vertically-level join (which you won’t).

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When that’s done, it’s time to give the adobe building it’s distinctive look. Here, too I deviated from Grimm’s instructions slightly. I used this awl I had laying around (I have no idea where I got it) to poke some holes in the walls a few centimeters below the top, then inserted some balsa wood as ceiling supports. I used my hobby saw to cut the balsa wood to about a 1″ length. If you don’t have balsa wood and don’t want to spend the whole 60 cents it costs to pick up a rod of this size, then you can cut the heads off some wooden matchsticks and use those. In fact, that was Grimm’s method, but I found the matchsticks I had on hand were too thin.

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After that, attach your buildings to whatever you’re going to use as a base. I used cork tiles, as it’s easy to cut and shape. This next part gets messy, so be sure to wear latex or vinyl gloves. Using your fingers, spread a coating of wood filler or spackle over the building. Don’t worry about how messy it is, as adobe structures look rough. Make sure you avoid the areas you cut out and sculpted as you want those to show through later. I had both spackle and wood filler on hand, and I used both just to see the difference. Although the end results were much the same, I found that wood filler was easier to spread and work with, so I pretty much abandoned the spackle after the first building. But YMMV.

I decided not to use wood filler on the interior of the buildings, at least not these small ones. Instead I covered a few centimeters of the top interior, as this is the part that would be visible once the ceiling is in place. Remember when I said it wouldn’t be a big deal if you damaged the foamboard by waiting too long to remove the tape? It’s not, considering you’re covering the walls with wood filler and that will cover the tape, too. You can also leave the pins in, if you want.

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Let it dry overnight. Then you’re ready to paint it. I used craft paint, and started by painting the walls a light brown color.

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Once the brown dried, I drybrushed it with successively lighter shades of tan, ivory and eventually, very little white. I painted the “exposed” brick areas a dark brown color and added a wash of black to make the bricks stand out. Oh, and I also added a stovepipe to the roof with a bit of old metal tubing I had laying around forever, and inserted balsa wood doors. I scored the doors with a hobby knife to make individual planks, and painted them brown. You can see them in later pictures.

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Once the walls were painted, I used a mixture of sand, ballast and wood flue to flock the bases. Then I painted the base brown, and built up the highlights with a lighter brown and ivory paint.

Quick tip: Don’t throw away your foamboard scraps. The piece above was made with some irregular leftovers. Put together, they make a good ruined adobe wall. I’ll be making more of these later.

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I figured with the bases done, I could get creative by adding some things to them.  I decided on some cacti. I bought this box of Pegasus Hobbies cacti for this purpose.

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There’s enough bits in this box for over 60 little cacti (which is more than I’ll ever use). Painted up, they really look nice and add a bit of Old West flavor to the scenery. The box retails for $8.50, so not a bad deal.

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I decided to make a well as a cool little flavor piece, or maybe even a game objective. I bought a couple of sheets of modelling plastic in a Spanish tile pattern at a hobby shop for about $6, and cut a bit to cover the well. Then I painted it with terracotta craft paint.

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Here’s a picture of the finished well. The well itself is from the now defunct JR miniatures (which sucks…they made some great stuff!). The bucket was an accessory from an army toy.

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Here’s the first batch of buildings in Mescalero. It didn’t take me very long to do…a few days between the cutting, gluing, filler application and painting. A fair amount of time was spent waiting for things to dry. As you can see, I added the balsa wood doors and painted them brown. Overall I’m pleased with the results.

What’s next? Well, I’m working on a few other buildings…a stables and a small church, complete with a bell tower and graveyard. I’d like the church to be the focal point of Mescalero. I’d also like to make some two story structures and maybe a couple more small buildings. I’m also toying with the idea of an outdoor mercado, and of course, more ruins. I’ll keep you all updated with more Mescalero as it takes shape.

 

The Chase: A .45 Adventure AAR

This could easily be the bloodiest game I have ever played in all my years of wargaming. It was like a Sam Peckinpah film on my gaming table.

With all the Super System 3 I’ve been playing lately, my Pulp gaming has been neglected.  So I had a couple of friends over for some .45 Adventure. (I have since bought the 2nd Edition, but we used 1st ed. the other night.) We started off with the scenario included in the rulebook, “Shootout in the Park”.  It’s designed for two players, but I modified it a bit to include three different teams. Basically, with the heroes in pursuit, a mob boss and his goons flee across a park (the battlefield), dropping two halves of an incriminating ledger listing all the bribed city officials the mob boss has under his thumb. Both sides are trying to find the ledgers and leave the park with them.

The two teams are .45 Adventure’s resident vigilante The Gargoyle and his ally, Ace Reporter Bridgit O’Rourke; and Mob Boss “Little” Paulie Wolinsky and his two goons, “Full Count” Nocerino and Tommy “Gun” Miller. I added a third team: corrupt cops! These cops know that if the ledgers get out, their crooked activities will be revealed. So why not just grab the ledgers and eliminate the mob boss while they’re at it?

The scenario ended with “Little” Paulie recovering both halves of the ledger and fleeing the park, leaving all three cops dead, and Bridgit O’Rourke out of action, pummeled mercilessly into unconsciousness by “Full Count” Nocerino.

Which set us up for the second (and bloodiest) scenario of the night…The Chase!

The Scenario

.45 Adventure is designed to be played on a 2’x 2′ surface, which isn’t a whole lot of room where vehicles are concerned. So I set up a 4′ x 4′ board as you see here. “Little” Paulie is in his car, fleeing from the Gargoyle, who is in hot pursuit. He has to make it all the way around the board and exit off the top near the construction yard. But a lot can happen before then. There are encounter markers along the road as well as in the city. To make matters worse, the streets are lit, but the rest of the board is dark, limiting models’ visibility to 12″.

The big dump truck in the construction yard contains a load of junk. Any model can take an action to dump the load if they are in base contact with the truck. This will block the road. It’s not a good idea to do that until the last possible second, however, as you never know who might be in the lead and you don’t want to prevent your own team from making their escape with the ledgers!

The Teams

 

The heroes are The Gargoyle (center), ex-prize fighter Moe Shrevnitz (right), and eccentric, driven District Attorney Roland N Seguin (left), who is determined to rid New Commerce of crime! The Gargoyle is in his car, which is a bit better than your average buggy. The Gargoyle is Rank 3, while the other two are Rank 2. If Bridgit didn’t get creamed in the first scenario, she would have been here too.

The hoods( from left to right) are Jimmy Gumballs, “Full Count” Nocerino, “Little” Paulie Wolinsky, Rocco Fortunato (nods to Frank Sinatra), Tommy “Gun” Miller, and around the back of the car, Jack Sacco, the driver. Jack and “Little” Paulie are in the mob boss’s roadster, fleeing from the Gargoyle. The rest of the goons are all on guard duty in the construction yard. Paulie is a Grade 3 Mob Boss, Rocco a Grade 2 Enforcer, and the rest are Grade 1.

The cops are Sgt. Danny Burke (center), a Grade 3 Police Sergeant, and 4 Grade 1 cops: (L-R) Officer James Haggerty, Officer Enoch Conlon, Officer Rory Landry, and Officer Nick Dearcy. And a fine top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

Any surprise the cops or heroes might have enjoyed was pretty much lost on the first turn of the game, when Officer Conlon opened up on DA Seguin with his rifle, scoring a head wound that the DA miraculously survived. From there it went south pretty fast in the construction yard. Within a few turns it looked like this. That’s “Full Count” Nocerino, Moe Shrevnitz, Officer Dearcy, Officer Landry, Officer Conlon and Jimmy Gumballs, all dead. Moe and “Full Count” learned the hard way not to show up with your fists to a gun fight. The star of the show was Officer Landry, who caved in Jimmy Gumballs’s skull with the butt of his shotgun and then, on his next activation, walked up and put a full blast straight into “Full Count’s” chest.

Meanwhile, with Jack Sacco driving, “Little” Paulie was free to fire at the pursuing Gargoyle with abandon. Despite having a faster and more maneuverable car, The Gargoyle was unable to catch “Little” Paulie before he lost control of the roadster after being wounded several times. He swerved off the road, running over and killing Officer Haggerty in the process.

Eventually, The Gargoyle got his car back on the road and once again in pursuit. In the meantime, Sgt. Burke, after spending two turns climbing out of an open manhole he fell into (damn encounter markers!) shot and wounded Jack Sacco, who lost control of the car. It flipped over and landed on Sgt. Burke, who survived long enough to put a few more rounds into “Little” Paulie, wounding him in the arms. Neither Sacco nor “Little” Paulie could use their arms any more, they were so badly shot up. Which of course meant they couldn’t drive. Or shoot. They could just stand there and wait for Sgt. Burke to finish them off.

The Gargoyle had other plans. He swerved around the corner in his sweet ride, pausing long enough to shoot Sgt. Burke between the eyes before running down Rocco Fortunato, killing him. That’s 2 people the Gargoyle had murdered with his car. Over the course of the game, the Gargoyle had been shot so many times that he could barely use his arms and legs. Tommy “Gun” Miller ventilated The Gargoyle and his car a bit more, killing him.

Hedging his bets, DA Seguin managed to get close enough to the truck to dump the junk in the road just in case Tommy “Gun” managed to get to the mob boss’s car and get it running again. Then he hunted Miller down like a dog, killing him. But not before Miller cut him off at the knees with a spray of .45 bullets from his Thompson!

So the end of the game looked like this: All cops: dead. The Gargoyle and Moe: dead. Tommy “Gun” Miller, “Full Count” Nocerino, Rocco Fortunato, and Jimmy Gumballs: dead. DA Seguin: crippled and crawling towards the car wherein Jack Sacco and “Little” Paulie waited, unable to do anything but look sadly at where their arms used to be.

Just another night in New Commerce!