Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reading Rogue Trader, Part Thirteen

Seems to be difficult to keep these regular, but I'm on a bit of a RT kick so hopefully I can manage to be more consistent.

Following the intro to equipment from Part Twelve, let's start looking at weapons! Again, I'm not covering every blade and barrel, but there are some things I want to highlight. There is a surprising bit of fluff tucked away at the beginning of this chapter that wonderfully illustrates the character of the Rogue Trader setting.

We've already mentioned in the introduction that ranges and effects have been deliberately kept low to make the game playable. Some people find this very hard to accept. Try to remember that the universe of the future is very different than that of today, brute force and fear are the most potent of all weapons. The hand to hand fighting reputation of a unit may be in itself sufficient to put down a rebellion! Technology and sophisticated weapon systems have no place in this universe. Equipment must work and, where possible, be easy to manufacture on worlds where the only building materials are wood, stone, and metal ores. Try to remember too that a weapon's combat effectiveness is measured in terms of durability and ease of production as much as its theoretical performance - hence the relatively low powered laser is the most common weapon.

There are optional rules included to extend ranges up to ten times for those who desire more 'realistic' weapon ranges. Firing at these ranges first requires the roll of a '6', followed by a normal roll to hit and weapons strengths are reduced by one. Again, probably a bit of complexity not needed in a wargame...

Many of the weapons presented have similar stats to the ones that followed in later editions. For example, the Bolt Gun has a short range of up to 12", long range of up to 24", and a Strength of 4. In addition, it has a +1 to hit at short range. Many ranged weapons have modifiers to define their accuracy at short and long ranges. Weapons also have an armour save modifier that was independent of the weapon's strength, similar to AP of the modern version of the game. They are divided into mostly familiar categories - Basic Weapons, Close Combat Weapons, Heavy Weapons, etc. - though there is one category of Very Heavy Weapons that probably equates to the D-Weapons or Apocalypse level armament of the modern game.

Something else that hearkens back to RPGs of the day and completely absent from most modern wargames are random generation weapon tables. While it is more likely that any random weapons I include in a game will have to do with the models I have on hand (if I don't have a model with a plasma cannon, there won't be on the table), I find these tables interesting because they are weighted to the availability of the weapons. For example, looking at Basic Weapons, Auto-guns make up 25% of available rifle-style weapons, making them much more common than they would be in later editions. Lasguns come in at 18% with Bolt Guns, Plasma Guns, and Shuriken Catapults (they were not just for shiny Eldar in Rogue Trader) both at 10 %. The rest of the Basic Weapons are rated 5% each. The chart also includes bows, crossbows, and muskets, but rather than assign percentages, they have marked them with my favorite "GM Decides" tag.

More on weapons in a few days...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bugman's Rangers - Command Group

And here we are all ranked up!

So far, I like how they look as a group. I can't wait to add a few troopers to make this into a proper unit!

Hopefully more next week...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bugman's Rangers - Musician

Here's the final model for the command group. As he is a musician, he's a bit more flamboyant than the rest with his blue tunic (Bugman worries about 'Owd' Tom's swashbuckling stories corrupting the young dwarf), but still ready with his axe when it's time to get stuck in!

I'll have a shot of the whole crew tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bugman's Rangers - Standard Bearer

One of the first things I paint when starting any new unit is the standard bearer. This has always been one of my favorite dwarf miniatures - the pose, the beard. the girth... great stuff! Just a lot of character in this model.

This casting has something strange going on around the left eye. I'm not sure if it was intentional or some sort of miscast, but I ran with it and painted it as an empty socket and scar. The banner is a slight variation on the classic 'official' design in that I moved the 'spike' to the top corner of the flag rather than the center which just looked strange to me. I also swapped the sides of the flag, because compositionally, I wanted the banner over the bearer's head. If I left the 'official' version, that would have put the tankard on the back. If anyone wants the flag for their own unit, feel free...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bugman's Rangers - 'Owd' Tom Thyksson

Next up is the unit champion, 'Owd' Tom Thyksson. This rogue spent his youth with the pirates that haunted the port of Marienburg, where he acquired the eye-patch, peg-leg, and snappy fashion sense (check out that pimp shirt) through numerous misadventure.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bugman's Rangers - Joseph Bugman

The Story of Bugman's Dwarf Rangers
It was a clear, crisp morning in early spring when a mule-cart creaked up to the entrance of Karak-Varn. Two guards looked suspiciously at the driver, a small hunched figure thickly wrapped in a variety of foul-smelling and flea-ridden blankets. It might be a Dwarf, but they couldn't be sure.

'Who are you, and what's your business?' challenged one of the guards. The driver of the cart cackled softly.

'Come to see your king, I have,' it said, gathering the blankets around it as it shuffled down from the driving seat, 'Brought something for him.'

The guards looked at one another, a little nervously. 'What is it, then?' asked one. The other moved towards the back of the cart, and started to lift the tarpaulin that covered its cargo.

'DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH THAT!' Surprised by the sudden power in the driver's voice, the guard dropped the tarpaulin as if it had burnt him. 'It's had enough of a messing with, just getting here,' the driver grumbled, 'And if you go a-poking and a-prodding it about, it won't be fit for Goblins. And now, if you don't mind, I've had enough of the oily rags and I'll talk to the mechanic.'

Such a speech could only have come from the lips of a Dwarf, so the cart was admitted to the Dwarf hold. By the time the King arrived on the scene, a small crowd had gathered. A hush fell over the crowd as the stranger deftly whipped the tarpaulin off the cart, revealing a large barrel.

'Now I'm not guaranteeing how well it's travelled,' he announced, to no-one in particular. He produced a grubby metal tankard from among his mass of blankets, drew off a little of the barrel's contents, and peered at it critically. 'Hmmmm', he sniffed, 'Gone cloudy.' He swigged noisily, then screwed up his face and spat. 'Worse than I thought,' he continued , 'it could really do with settling for a month or two. Still, it should give you the general idea.' He held out the tankard to the King.

After a moment's hesitation, the King accepted the tankard, and, wiping the rim fastidiously with his cuff, took a swig. The effect was remarkable. His eyebrows shot up to the very rim of his crown, his eyes bulged and began to water as he was doubled over by a fit of coughing. After a few seconds the coughing subsided, and was followed by a deep, resonant belch. It was almost a minute before he was able to speak. 'I don't believe it!' he exclaimed. 'it can't be! It's.... Bugman's!'

There was uproar in the chamber. It was many years since the Battle of Bugman's Brewery. Joseph Bugman was just a memory, a name half forgotten and wreathed in legend, like the name of Bugman's Best Bitter.

'That's right,' said the stranger, 'The Goblins left me for dead. It's taken me all these years to work my way here - but hush now, I'm forgetting my manners.' He threw off his wrapping of blankets, and stood revealed as an old, grizzled and heavily scarred Dwarf. 'Joseph Bugman, Master Brewer and onetime Ranger Captain, at your service.'

Joseph Bugman miraculously survived the Battle of Bugman's Brewery, and turned up years later at the Dwarf hold of Karak-Varn. He was not recognised at first, but when the King of the Dwarfhold tasted the beer that he brought with him, his identity was proved beyond doubt. Bugman's Dwarf Rangers were re-formed at Karak-Varn, as his reputation and his brewing skills brought Dwarves from miles around flocking to his banner. The expedition to reconquer and re-establish Bugman's Brewery assumed the proportions of a holy war.

Right! So that's started - my Dwarf army is underway and the unit it always had to start with was Bugman's Dwarf Rangers. The unit will be 24 models strong (including the hero and champion) and hold down the spot of the compulsory Dwarf Crossbowmen in my list (with full command and the upgrades for shields and double-handed weapons, of course). My plan is to paint the unit in muted tones - browns and greys - for the most part.

I'll have the rest of the command group up this week...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Got Shields?

Shields for Oldhammer have been a pain to find since I started collecting models again. So much so that I resorted to modern shields for many of my Undead and Chaos Thugs. That changed this week thanks to two events that happened back to back.

Someone I purchase from often on eBay offered to help me out. I won't mention the seller because he doesn't normally sell lots of shields, but I mentioned the dwarf horde and he said he could get me some sets for the units...

That is 100 shields in matching sets of 20, including several Marauder Men-at-Arms shields that I originally used on my old dwarf army!

The second event was more remarkable. I was showing my brother all of my Oldhammer stuff at the house last week and mentioned I had some shields on the way. He said, "Why did you buy shields? I have piles of them left over from all of our old stuff..."

Wow... and he did. He brought me this box a couple of days ago (ironically just before my first lot arrived). That was almost as great as finding all that Rogue Trader stuff a while back in my parent's attic (unlike my fantasy collection, most of the models I've painted for Rogue Trader on this site were mine, purchased back when they actually came out, and I have piles more unpainted)! Now I'm not sorry I purchased the others. The price was reasonable and I wouldn't have had groups of twenty of some of the Marauder shields. I haven't inventoried the second box yet, or even counted but there must be several hundred.

So far, I like the way 2016 is starting out...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

So, I Think I'll Paint a Few Dwarves...

Yep, that's how it started in December. I found a box of Prince Uther's Imperial Dwarves at what seemed like a fair price (well, no more than I'd expect to pay for any of GW's new offerings for 17 models). Then I found a series of auctions on eBay for units of twenty - Hammerers, Ironbreakers, Trollslayers, etc.

It's a bit of a sickness. That is over nine pounds (over 4 kilos, not, unfortunately pounds sterling) of dwarves! There are also an extra twenty of Prince Uther's lads you can't see because I added them into the box with the original set. For those of you that visit regularly, you may remember I got my core Undead army back from a friend to whom I gave it years ago. I had to buy a few things, but the core was quickly established. On the other hand, my Chaos army was often acquired one model at a time. Both methods have advantages, but after getting a horde of dwarves in one box, I can say that was awesome! My preferred eBay method has always been to buy units when I can.

Again, I KNOW some of you were probably bidding on the same auctions. Again, I'll apologize for the looting, but it was too good an opportunity to replace nearly all of the dwarf army I used to own in one afternoon. The good news is I am done buying for now (until I need artillery, but I'm going to paint some units first). I need to grab a few more dwarf characters, but they seem plentiful.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reading Rogue Trader, Part Twelve

It's been a very long time since I managed to post one of these, but I thought it was time to dive back into one of my favorite wargame books of all time.

So where was I? Ah, yes... Book 2, Equipment. I am not going to cover every weapon, type of armour, or piece of tech. This is more of an overview and I will point of some of the surprises and highlight things that seem very 'Rogue Trader' to me. This chapter will run several weeks, starting with an overview of equipment in general.

The first thing I want to cover is Tech Level. It is interesting to note that unlike some RPG's (Traveller) Tech Level does not refer to the manufacture of of equipment, but rather it's level of difficulty to properly use the item. I covered this briefly way back in part two when I mentioned all models in the game had an Intelligence stat. The main use for this stat was to limit access to advanced equipment. In Rogue Trader all weapons and gear had a tech level and a creature required an Intelligence equal to or greater than the tech level of an item to be able to use it properly. First of all, let's look at some of the Intelligence scores for standard creatures (heroes may be higher)...

Ogryn 4
Ork 6
Imperial Guard 7
Space Marine 8
Eldar 9
Jokaero 10

Looking at weapons, there are very few beyond the grasp of an Ork. For example, under Basic Weapons, only Needlers and Shuriken Catapults are Tech Level 7. There are a couple of weapons beyond the lowly Guardsman which include the D-Cannon and Haywire Grenades at Tech Level 8. Moving beyond weapons, there is very little presented above Tech Level 6. A typical Dreadnought suit is Tech Level 8, though random suits may generated as low as Tech Level 7. Under miscellaneous equipment, many scanners are Tech Level 7, as are Bombots, Medi-packs, Phase and Power Field Generators, Targeters, and Teleporters (more on the last in a later post). Few pieces of gear are Tech Level 8 or higher and most have little use on the game table.

There is even an optional rule to learn to use unfamiliar equipment, though the character's Intelligence must still be equal to or higher than the tech level. The book doesn't suggest what 'unfamiliar equipment' might be. Gear that isn't standard to the model's unit? Alien tech? Anyway, a GM could easily define this for their own table, but the rule as written seems unpractical for the game table. The reason is it takes one full turn of uninterrupted study PER TECH LEVEL of an item, at the end of which time the character may test vs Intelligence with 2d6. A successful test means the character can now use the item proficiently and even teach others to use it in one turn with a +1 bonus to their Intelligence test. A failed test simply means trying again the next turn, though if the character is interrupted (moving, shooting, etc) the time is reset to zero! That's neat, but considering a crossbow is Tech Level 5 and other weapons range as high as Tech Level 8 it seems like many games would be over before the rule could be applied in any useful fashion. I could maybe see designing a scenario around a single piece gear that means success of a mission (figure out how to use a transporter to evacuate a facility under siege, for example), but for general use the rule seems of little use - maybe that's why it's optional.

I guess to conclude this post, I love the concept of these rules, but the end result seems to be very little is beyond the use of most armies as even Ork Major Heroes can rise to an Intelligence stat of 8. I can see why Tech Levels disappeared from later versions of the game as it was easier to use army lists to set limits on equipment available.

Over the next few posts, I'll look at few pieces of gear in more detail...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Yet More Heritage Miniatures

Ok, this is it - an Arcturan Illusionist/Assassin known as Tardos Mors (Arcturans are a race that have been my homebrew D&D campaign, the Realm of Quindia, since the 80's), a Wight, Succubus, Troll, and a pair of Kobolds.

The kobolds were some of my favorite. These were a blast to paint and I may need to dig through my stash and paint some more Heritage models. I have lots of them - goblins, orcs, bugbears, zombies, gargoyles, lizardmen, and lots more characters. I also have a shedload of Elan Merch Lord of the Rings models that fit in perfectly with these. Heritage and Elan Merch models fromed the basis of lots of D&D games in the early 80's.

So many models so little time...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

More Heritage Miniatures

Following up on the last post, here are a few more Heritage Miniatures I've painted in the last couple of years...

The last was probably the weakest of the group. The anatomy is very iffy and the face wasn't well defined. I love the guy with the lantern and the knight. The later was painted in the same outfit as the fighter on the cover of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. I have enough models left for one more post, but they are all high-res pics. I'll get them sorted and posted for Friday!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Orlygg's Challenge - You Always Remember Your First

On his blog, Realm of Chaos 80's, Orlygg posted a repaint of the first miniatures he purchased, and issued a challenge for others to do likewise.

I had lots of army men as a kid and I even painted some of them (1:72 British Desert Rats), but the first metal models I ever owned came in a boxed set from Heritage Miniatures - Caverns of Doom. I traded some Matchbox Cars for them. Maybe 1980? I had just started playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (no messing around with Basic D&D). The Caverns of Doom actually came with a map and a set of simple rules for a dungeon crawl, but I don't think I ever played them.

A couple of years ago I started collecting Heritage models again (this pre-dates my return to Oldhammer and Rogue Trader). I still had many of my original D&D models and stripped off the old paint. One of the first things I did was paint most of the models from Caverns of Doom set!

Here are the heroes - Barbarian, Cleric, Knight, Elven Archer, and Thief...

... and the monsters - the Slime Monster, Demon, Giant Rats (there are four of these, but I only photographed one), Dragon, a pair of Skeletons, Giant Spider, and Vampire.

For some reason I never got around to the last two models - the wizard and the hobgoblin. No idea why because I have them. Maybe I'll have to make a point to finish the set.

It takes a little more patients to get good results with these castings, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The skeletons in particular were very nice models once painted and I love the vampire leaping out and yelling, 'Gottcha'! I painted a few more Heritage Models during this time, and I'll post them later this week...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Last Stand at Brandon's Star IV

Judge Grimm cursed fluently as another of his squad fell to las rounds. The rebel scum were going to overrun their position. If that psyker didn't soon succeed in contacting Earth, none of them were going to make it off Brandon's Star alive.

Oh, this is going to be good! As promised, my Random Rogue Trader scenario for 2016...

Player Motives (64)
Raid and Kill an Important Person

Raid and Kill (81)
A small group of loyal troops are holding out against a rebel army - it is only a matter of time before the rebels destroy them. The Imperial troops are composed of the planet's force of Adeptus Terra, which includes an Astropath. The rebels must kill the Astropath before he is able to broadcast details of the rebellion to Earth (total time required could be 2 or more broadcasts). 

Sub-Plot (06) 
A military unit is unhappy with it's leader, who is brutal, incompetent, stupid, dishonest, or otherwise subject to some defect which makes him extremely unpopular. If asked to draw a line if fire that passes within 2" of their leader there is a 50% of a firer targeting him 'accidentally'. The player remains unaware of the situation and rolls to hit his intended target - the GM makes a secret 50% roll and if the the player's die roll is enough to hit the officer the attack is re-targeted. Unless the shot hits the leader, the attack will go unnoticed and the shot will be discounted as an ordinary miss. The player controlling the troops will be unaware of any problem or redirected shots until the officer is hit.

So according to the hallowed Rogue Trader tome, Adeptus Terra is composed of several different divisions...

The Adeptus Custodes - The Emperor's bare-chested guard in pointy hats who rarely leave the palace so we will skip them...

The Adeptus Mechanicus - Awesome! While I have been tempted to invest in some of the new plastics from GW, I don't want to go that modern for this project. I have a classic Adeptus Mechanicus model (the one with the melty face), a tech priest, and a pair of servitors. I also have a Confrontation Tech Gang that would make dandy Skitarri for this game. I've been wanting to paint them anyway...

The Adeptus Arbites - Awesome again! I have a squad of mid-90's Adeptus Arbites, but I think I want to paint something new as that is part of the reason for rolling random scenarios. The original concept for the Judges was along the lines of Judge Dredd, and I happen to have a handful of those classic Citadel models. I might even incorporate a couple of bikes if I can find them (not sure where the Dredd stuff is, but I know it's here somewhere).

The Adeptus Astronomica - They maintain the Astronomican and rarely leave Earth. Boring.

The Adeptus Astra Telepathica - The Astropath who is the target of this game. I have a few models I might use, but I may see if I can round up THE Astropath from eBay. They can be pricy, but I don't think I have much to buy so far.

The Administratum -  The legions of scribes, clerks, and bureaucrats that make the Empire run. This gives me license to include all sorts of strange models and I'll have a look through to see what I might include. It is mentioned that even the lowest ranks of the order may carry weaponry if they are away from Earth. I may resort to some newer models here as I have a couple of scribes from the Inquisition range that would work great. Though they are probably poor soldiers, they may be entertaining!

The Assassins - These deadly servants fall under the cloak of the Adeptus Terra as well, though I don't think I'll use one in this scenario.

So for the rebels I have my Imperial Army, Pirates, and Mercenaries to from the core of the force, but I will likely need to paint a few more depending on how many Imperials I end up with. I'm figuring 15-20 Imperials including a couple of heroes (the Adeptus Mechanicus and Judge Grimm) dug into a covered position so I probably need 30 or 40 rebels to make it seem precarious. I also need to decide on the reason for the rebellion. Are they tired of paying taxes? Under the control of a warp entity (I could use one of the scary Judges as a possessed)? Upset about the cancellation of Imperial Idol? Stay tuned...

For terrain I will likely use my ruined Cityfight boards. Maybe I'll build something new for the scenario like an Administratum Temple ruin. I also need to figure out how many successful transmissions it will take for the Astropath to alert Earth. Each use of the Astrotelepathy power only has a 50% chance of success, but I will probably reduce that (vagaries of the warp) to prevent the game ending on turn three! The sub-plot I generated is classic and I will simply roll to select a random character to which it applies at the start of the game.

It may be a bit before I can start on this, but I wanted to get the wheels turning... mission accomplished!