Sunday, February 26, 2012


Now my camera has fresh batteries to eat, I've finally managed to take some photos of the new models for my upcoming GASLIGHT game.

Below we have the Spottiswode-Gallant Steam Exploration Vehicle Mk. II, the big brother of the smaller, earlier version. With tracks instead of wheels, it can travel over more difficult terrain, although at a slower speed. Instead of a MG, the Mk. II carries a short-barreled 3-inch gun. The weapon's limited traverse and elevation are more than compensated for by the ability to fire canister rounds. Light armor provides protection from most small arms fire.   

Merchants on a mission. Willoughby Pond & companions seek out new markets to conquer.

A generous space is provided on the rear deck for all kinds of equipment and merchandise. The boiler is operated by just one stoker using a semi-automatic fuel feeder system.

Below we have an enemy's eye view of an African witchdoctor's response to intruders. Magically animated from fallen trees and logs, these golems are twice the height of a man, preternaturally strong, and extremely difficult to destroy. Even fire takes a while to affect them. The sight of them stumping over a hill, monstrous arms swinging with intent, is enough to quell the ardor of any warrior - or Soldier of the Queen!  

Something Weird this way comes. African golems in action.

The exploration vehicle is mostly built of card on a foamcore hull, with Hirst Arts pipework and crates, painted with acrylics and finished with a coat of Future/Klear. The golems are short lengths of thick twigs, split and glued to form arms and legs, and darkened with a coat of India Ink thinned with surgical spirit. Other details painted on, although the marking came out more native American than African. Oh well...

Hopefully, these will be in action next weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Not entirely to my surprise, I've had to postpone my hoped-for GASLIGHT gaming session this weekend. My camera has also decided to run out of power before I can take photos of my new scratch-built steam vehicle and African golems. Why can't the technology geeks come up with a digital camera that doesn't eat batteries?

However, all being well, I hope to get an afternoon's game in next weekend, along with some photos of the action. Watch this space...    

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pootling on

I'm delighted to see this blog has reached 15,000 visitors in its short life. With luck everyone who popped in finds something of interest here.

At the moment I'm mostly busy making more stuff to sell online, but I am also working on a smallish vehicle for the upcoming GASLIGHT game. Quite when I'll get the chance to play is currently open to circumstances. Hopefully I'll get a window of opportunity later this week.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Space: 1889

We've had a quiet few weeks lately, taking care of mom-in-law during her illness. Everything wargame-related will resume sometime later this month. In the meantime, my wife has expressed an interest in the Space: 1889 rpg...

Created by Frank Chadwick and published by GDW in 1988, it's enjoyed something of a revival lately, perhaps due to the upsurge of interest in Steampunk. The game was revived in the last decade through the good offices of Heliograph, and a number of novels set in the 1889 universe have been released recently. One of the authors is Andy Frankham-Allen, who has set up a site devoted to Space: 1889. Useful materials can be found on their site and Frank's blog. 

My old role-playing group toyed with the game for a little while back in the '90's, but never really took to it, being more enamored of AD&D and Shadowrun. Regretfully, I had to let it drop at the time. 

I've not played it myself, but the game mechanisms seem good, and I've heard praise for the mass combat and Sky Galleons rules. At the moment I've only ever rolled a number of experimental characters, and read through a few scenarios, some of which appeared in Challenge magazine back in the day. 

One thing the old published scenarios became notorious for - they relied upon the player characters being captured by various enemies. Everything that happened after that depended upon their efforts to escape. Tiresome and rather off-putting in a campaign context, to say the least! I aim to do better in creating scenarios.

Some months ago I did raise the prospect of beginning a new blog devoted to role-playing Traveller. Since that's unlikely to fly, I might begin a general RPG blog instead.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

GASLIGHT scenario development

A stinking cold isn't exactly helping me at the moment. With inflamed sinuses and my right eye streaming like Niagara Falls, it's a task and a half trying to do anything. Still, I've managed to make a start on preparing the upcoming GASLIGHT scenario.

I've had these rules for some time, but this is the first occasion I've decided to play them. They do require a modicum of pre-game preparation, in the shape of character development. A good and useful tutorial can be found at Dr. Vesuvius' Axis of Naughtiness blog. 

GASLIGHT allows for the creation of Main Characters (MCs). These have four basic types, in ascending order of potency:- Veteran, Leader, Adventurer, Hero. By rolling a d20 and consulting the chart, the player assigns numbers to the attributes of Shoot, Scuffle, and Save. The higher the number the better, as these will be rolled against in the course of the game, and various modifiers come into play according to circumstances. 

MCs also get Skills, again rolled randomly. Heroes, being the most accomplished, get two; every other MC type gets one. Most of these skills are advantageous in some way - skill at shooting, using melee weapons, observation, etc. A few are detrimental, such as Drunk, Yellow, Clumsy, and so on. MCs can lead units, or be unattached. Only MCs have the Save attribute, allowing a figure to roll to avoid potentially damaging or deadly results from an encounter. All other figures are treated as Extras, having just Shoot and Scuffle attributes. When hit - they die.

In my case, I rolled the following attributes for Willoughby Pond, Merchant Adventurer. Shoot: 12  Scuffle: 15  Save: 14  Skill: Tough. The rascal has an average shooting ability, but he's quite tasty in hand-to-hand combat. Useful with his fists, no doubt. In game terms his Tough characteristic means he won't die the first time he fails a Save roll, and he ignores the effects of disease - useful if trekking through the African bush. 

He'll have a coterie of troops with him in the shape of Sunny N'Sher's mercenary tribal warriors. Sunny himself is rated as a Leader, with the following attributes:- Shoot: 13  Scuffle: 13  Save: 11  Skill: Natural Leader. He will lead his men, all with Shoot 8 and Scuffle 9, and, because of his charisma, all prepared to go to the wire for him.

The Kumyonda tribe has expressed an interest in providing Pond with a site for his trading post. All he has to do is reach the area and build it. The Kumyonda chief has assigned a couple of warbands to patrol the area against the rival Ukrazi tribe's interference and to escort Pond's expedition to safety if necessary. Unfortunately, the chief selected the local equivalent of Harry Flashman to lead them... 

Kumalonga is a strapping fellow, with Shoot 14, Scuffle 12, a Save 15. Unfortunately his Skill rolled up as Yellow. To quote the phrase used in the GASLIGHT rulebook, "he wouldn't walk up to an angry baby with a rattle."   

Pond has a history of bad blood with the local Ukrazi tribe. They have gotten word of his plans to establish a trading post in the territory of their bitter rivals, the Kumyonda tribe, and are prepared to voice their displeasure. Ukrazi tribal warbands have set out to catch and punish Pond and all who help him. Their attributes are Shoot: 6, Scuffle: 10. 

I'm planning to make a vehicle for Pond's expedition in the shape of a Spottiswoode-Gallant Steam vehicle of some kind. Perhaps one of these...

Vehicles have their own capabilities under the GASLIGHT rules. These are rolled on a chart, or can be selected by the umpire to fit game requirements. The capabilities are Save (the vehicle's armor protection), Speed (whether Sailing, Steaming, or Swimming), Start (to get the blessed thing rolling in the first place) Sustain (to keep the thing moving), and Spin (its maneuverability - or otherwise).

The little vehicle above has the following capabilities, all randomly rolled. Save: 14, Steam: 10, Start: 14, Sustain: 19, Spin: 45 degrees. On the whole, it's a fast, reliable vehicle, but about as maneuverable as the average barn. 

The Ukrazi tribe lack any steamy conveyances of their own, but that's not to say they're without resources. I have a few ideas for an equalizing unit, but will say no more for now.      

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