“We Deal with the Odd, the Unexplained.”

If you’re playing a  wargame, you need soldiers. And if you’re planning on gaming Doctor Who in miniature as a ‘traditional’ wargame, rather than a narrative miniature adventure, you will also need two opposing forces with which to battle.

Now, whilst it will be fun to pit the Daleks against the Cybermen, which is what Warlord Games have planned for the first release of their Doctor Who: Into the Time Vortex miniature game, sometimes you want to field a human force. And in Doctor Who, that means UNIT.

UNIT was first introduced into the Whoniverse in the 1968 Second Doctor adventure The Invasion, in which the Cybermen were attempting to invade Earth. At this time, UNIT stood for United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, and was described as an “independent intelligence group” whose remit was to investigate the odd and the unexplained and defend Earth against threats of this nature.

The heyday of the UNIT was during the Third Doctor’s tenure, as he had been banished to Earth and found himself working extensively with this group.

UNIT was re-introduced after the 2005 re-launch in the Ninth Doctor episode Aliens of London. However, UNIT now stood for Unified Intelligence Taskforce, as the real UN decided that it didn’t want a fictional organisation in a popular TV show to be associated with it. Since its introduction way back in 1968 right up to the 2016 Christmas special, UNIT has sported a variety of different uniforms, so the first thing you have to decide if you want to field a unit of UNIT is which version of UNIT you want to field.

To assist with this, I have found a rather interesting and useful blog called UNIT Uniforms, which details every variation of the uniforms worn by this organisation from its inception right up to the modern-day, with lots of useful images for painters.

However, to break it down, there are effectively three different styles of uniform – the classic ear uniform, the re-introduced ‘paramilitary’ look and the most recent ‘anti-terrorist’ look.

For the classic era uniform, your best bet for suitable figures is either our old friends Black Tree Design, who have the ‘official’ 28mm UNIT miniatures or Crooked Dice, whose ‘Army’ miniatures were inspired by UNIT.

For the ‘paramilitary’ look as sported by UNIT in the 2008 Tenth Doctor adventure The Sontaran Stratagem, i.e. all-black uniforms with red berets, Crooked Dice’s X-Commandoes fit the bill.

For the most recent ‘anti-terrorist’ look, I would suggest Moonraker Miniatures Future Skirmish Troopers.

Now, as I had some of the last suggested figures and required some UNIT troops for my first planned Doctor Who AAR, I set about painting them in the correct colours.

However, as I originally bought these back when they were sold by Grenadier Miniatures, they have been painted and re-painted several times over the years as I changed my mind what I was planning on using them for. So, when it came to painting them up as UNIT troops, they were so caked in paint, that any attempts to add more paint was just going to obscure the detail. Therefore, to use them for this purpose (or anything else for that matter) would require stripping off the existing paint, which is a job I detest.

But I needed some UNIT troops, so I had to either strip these figures or buy some more. However, in true Jez style, I went for secret option number 3 – use something else. “But Jez”, I hear you cry, “You’re primarily a sci-fi/horror/fantasy gamer, rather than a historical gamer, so what could you possibly have that could be drafted as proxy UNIT troops?”

How about these?

HeroScape comes up trumps once more, with the Airborne Elite. Based on my research, the uniforms and weaponry can pass as classic era UNIT, although they aren’t wearing berets. I could have cut off their helmets and sculpted berets on them, but the figures have very noticeable chinstraps, so I decided to just paint the helmets in the standard UNIT beret colour of beige instead.

So, having referred to the website above, I chose the colour scheme that fitted best with what I wanted my UNIT troops to look like and block-painted them:

So, uniforms in GW Goblin Green, webbing and pouches in GW Salamander Green, helmets is Revell Beige and rifles in Docrafts Chocolate Brown. I then gave the uniforms a wash of Salamander green, painted the boots Marine Dark Blue followed by Black Ink, used Chainmail on the metal parts of the rifles and a few obvious pouch buttons, then gave the brown parts of the rifles a coat of Brown Ink.

Faces and hands were Docrafts Flesh with a wash of GW Dwarf Flesh, and the chinstraps were just painted in with Black Ink. I then decided to try my hand at giving them UNIT insignia, which just consisted of a Black Circle with a White circle dotted in on their left sleeve and a white circle dotted in on the front of each troopers helmet. There would be absolutely no way of painting in a tiny globe with the UNIT lettering around the outside, so I left it as is. From playing distance, it will look fine and that’s what counts.

And this is what they look like now:

And just to prove that they do look different from what they originally looked like, here’s a comparison shot with one of the original figures.

I’m pretty pleased with them and best of all, they didn’t cost me anything! Result!

And finally, because I had to do something whilst I was waiting for my UNIT troops to dry, I’ve also finished off The Master. Here he is with his TARDIS:

I’m particularly pleased I managed to get his hair and beard right.

Right, that’s all for this week, but as I now have enough fully painted figures for my first Doctor Who AAR, using Way of the Crow naturally, hopefully next week will see the first instalment of a planned four-part Doctor Who miniature adventure. Expect thrills! Spills! Classic-era baddies! And a time-and-space spanning adventure that should prove that the Way of the Crow rules can be used for ANY type of tabletop miniature game!

Excited? You should be…

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They ARE The Law!

In my previous post Primal Law, I announced that I would be hosting an article written by Steve Gilbert on the epic ‘Cursed Earth/Judge Dredd’ campaign that he, his wife Hilary and Tarot Hunt had been working on since the sad closure of “The Games Cupboard”.

However, those of you who were regular visitors to this site will know that, like Athos, Porthos and Aramis,  these three are inseparable and come as a kind of package deal, so rather than a single article on this subject from Steve, you get one from each of them. And pictures too!

So without further ado, I will hand you over to my very special guests…


You Can Play a Super Dredd Game…. And We Did it Oooouuuuuuur Way!

Or

“The Jeremy Effect”

Hi guys. Wow, feels strange to be writing on a blog again. 2017 saw me make a decision to `put my gumption where my mouth is` and concentrate a lot more, almost exclusively in fact, on getting things done and playing endless number and variety of games with the finished results of these endeavours. Before this, I was spending too much time sitting on my ass talking about games instead of enjoying them, and so I decided to take a back seat from computer altogether and actually do something worthy of personal creativity. But then your kind invitation to do an article or two simply sparked a desire to write…. and I thought it might be quite nice to share what we are all up to in sunny Ireland (ha, that`s a joke… hasn’t stopped raining here in the last six weeks, seriously lol). So thanks Jez for the cool opportunity to share a bit of the Gilbert & Extended Family Hobby – our way.

Long ago, actually long before the current wave of interest in 2000 AD`s Cursed Earth became so prevalent amongst fantasy hobbyists, I discussed (with a fellow blogger), an interest in the subject as a `do-able` role play and semi skirmish table top endeavour. I remember at the time saying how much I would like to give it a go, but felt my knowledge of the subject at the time was far too sketchy on the whole… at least, to do the subject proper justice. Since that chat, the whole table top Judge Dredd phenomena has really taken off within many fantasy hobbyist circles, and with many companies at least `dabbling their toes` in the Mega City waters, there has certainly not been a dearth of interest of available products, to get the avid would be enthusiast started on this venture.

My only concern about it really comes in two parts. The first is the way the hobby has become so commercialised. It is geared towards people with too much spare cash, buying an endless wealth of material and encouraging (what is affectionately known as) complete-ism, which gamers seem to embrace almost with a sense of pride. This of course makes the companies selling their wares smile like sharks, while rubbing their hands together with almost unbridled money lust and glee.

The second is that… well, while we just buy everything that`s offered, like children dutifully opening our mouths when the proverbial spoon of goodness is proffered, we deny ourselves the dignity and the right to use our own imaginations to arrive at the same point, ourselves, without being told what we need all the time, and lapping it up without even stopping to think about it.

Simply put, you can play a super Dredd game without even having to spend much money. Just takes the three O`s.

1 – Observation, by reading the original material (comics) and making sure you get the look, the tone, and the feel right by being mega-observant <– yes, there`s a pun there hehe…. then you can in fact do it without needing to spend a small fortune.

A good game, to me anyway, isn’t about how shiny and full of eye candy the rules are. If a set of rules is all about COMBAT COMBAT COMBAT **Yawn**  my interest will soon wane. Zombicide is a good example of that. With great TV shows like Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead out there, there really is no excuse not to find inspiration and put more narrative into our table top hobby, not just kill, blood, guts, maim, and slaughter. There`s much more to any good story, surely? Same with any other wargame or rpg. And so I always tend to avoid rule systems which concentrate, top heavily, on combat, weapons, and skills that all just seem to enhance yet MORE combat ability. STUDY THE BACKGROUND MATERIAL and that applies to any type of game you play, fantasy, sci-fi or historical. Otherwise you`ll just end up playing a bad mimicry of a computer console game with its endless, inane chalking up of virtual kills.

 2 – Originality is the key to any good game. Don’t follow hobby fashions, but find your own unique pattern to work with, which includes rules, you don’t need big glossy expensive rule books, all exactly the same as everyone else is using **yawns with disinterest** Make your bloody own up, check out free online rules, or use rules written by your friends if you can`t write your own. I have checked all the `official` rules out there I could find and you know what I discovered? With the exception (possibly) of the 172 page D20 system 3rd edition D&D Dredd supplement, every other set of rules out there is a glorified skirmish wargame, like everything else is nowadays. There seems to be no interest in the nitty-gritty of bringing a world to life with proper immersive role play aspects: instead it’s all about weapon stats, types of ammunition, combat skills, and… well, basically everything is geared towards gun fights, knife fights, ZAP, POW, BANG and RAT-A-TAT-TATT..!!!!! God it depresses me, that the narrative hobby of role-playing has been reduced to (as I said earlier) nothing more than a glorified computer game mentality of “lets chalk up the body count and call it a realistic story.” No! Wrong, wrong, wrong, on so many counts, wrong!

Where is the depth in that? Where are the other characteristics which go to make a story come alive? Where are the rules to allow characters to try beat the ticking clock and unlock the safe before the authorities turn up and ruin the show: “Come on, come on Bugzy, you said you could have this open in less than a minute… the Judges will be here any moment…. hey! I think I can hear the sirens.”

Where are the rules to allow casino gambling, 007 futuristic James Bond {aka Bruce Wayne} style: no doubt a beautiful women with smouldering lips, sitting across from our hero, also playing the wheel {we know from the John Wagner stories alone that Judges often go undercover}. Is she cheating, will the hero expose her and humiliate her there and then? Or will he simply allow her to win, follow her to her room and `investigate` further, over a couple of Martini cocktails.. shaken, but not stirred.

We need rules for climbing, disabling traps, hot wiring a parked vehicle, skills to allow you to hack computers and access vital information. Forge documents and passports. What about persuasion? rallying speeches, sleight of hand, acrobatics,.. speed chases through the city streets are always fun (as Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition covered really well in their Fritz Leiber Lankhmar supplement). The list of possible options which should be included is almost limitless. But it seems almost as though the hobby has `dummied down` and people expect less nowadays. Me I remember things, how the hobby used to be, and if the rules no longer fit that image, I don’t try and cram myself into a wrong shaped hole; I simply do it myself (DIY) and make my games work the way they really should.

and 3 – be Organic. Don’t feel the need to follow modern trends, which is a sure fire way to ensure your game is just the same as everyone else’s. no no and no! Let your game grow organically, so it feels natural and is not pushed into a generic shape it doesn’t want to go (like for example why the hell are all Warlord games JD minis depicted holding weapons? It’s just silly. Look at a Dredd graphic novel/comic and you will often not even see a weapon drawn or fired for pages and pages of reading. There`s so much more to good storytelling than waving guns and clubs about and going BLAM, BLAM, HACK, SLASH, and miniatures all depicted with weapons drawn like phallic extensions, are simply not always conducive to good role-playing immersion.

Don’t be afraid to tell a story, and most modern rules don’t usually encourage you to do that,…. only allowing for endless bloody skirmish games of cops and robbers. A Dredd game should feel more like Dungeons and Dragons and less like Gun Fights at the OK Corral.

Let me show you an example of what I mean. Mongoose Publishing until recently produced a really nice Judge Dredd starter set. This contained everything (in theory) the fledgling gamer needed to get started in the game: a complete set of rules, and two factions of miniatures.. i.e. a `squad/faction` of Judges and a Gang of Perps for the judges to battle across the table top…. all told, two forces containing 8 miniatures each – plus a set of rules.  So right away we can see this is all pretty much geared up to be another sci-fi skirmish wargame. This retailed for about £75 in most shops, until recently when it was pulled from the shelves, and will no doubt resurface at a higher price when it comes back again (as revamped it will be, for sure).

Now let’s analyse this a little bit. I`m not wanting to knock the game, I`m sure it’s fantastic and great fun and decent value, if this is the route you wish to take with your hobby. In fact I`ve seen it being played and it isn`t a bad system at all. No better and no worse than many others out there (I maintain though, that its immersive atmosphere and suspension from disbelief… not necessarily rules… which makes a good game). But I want to look at alternatives.

I started this article by saying that once upon a time I discussed (with a few friends actually) the tentative desire to explore Dredd, but at the time, I felt my work restraint and my inherent lack of exposure to the genre didn’t qualify me as expert enough in the field to start a game in this vast and immersive world.  So I let it go, thinking to myself: “one day, I may go back to this and really give it a fling.” 

Well, I thought to myself, it can`t be that hard can it? I`m used to studying 400 years of Roman History, over 100 years of history covering the Tudor and Stuart reigns; studied Napoleonic history till my eyes bled, and many other subjects as well, which have taken me a lifetime to reach my standard of knowledge as it stands at the moment… and I keep finding myself learning more each year. Study tends to become addictive after a while, if your brain is wired that way ha ha.

Time passed. I found myself with some of it spare and wanting to get into a new subject. And my mind wandered back to Dredd. Yet when I looked wistfully online, I saw I had missed the boat. It had been done, was well on its journey, and in fact gamers had been enjoying the subject for a good while at this stage. And so with disappointment I almost gave up at that stage, instead intending to dive deeply back into my love of English Civil War, Treasure Island and the whole Pirates of the Caribbean thing. But it was two people spoke words of wisdom to me and made me see that I may just have this ass about face, and be wrong in my thinking.

Jez was one of them. “DO IT” he said. “Hmmmm,” I thought, and then re-thought my… um… thinking some more. Then my lovely partner Hils said to me: “Steve,” she said: “There are thousands of people out there playing Napoleonic Wargames, and have been for decades. Does this mean that a person new to the hobby can`t follow in those footsteps and take up Napoleonic games as well, just because it’s already been done before? Or are you saying that hobbyists must always search for things that no one else has done before them?”

Hit me square between the eyes like a boxing glove of wisdom. Knocked some sense into me, that`s for sure. “You SHALL go to the Ball, Cinders.” I thought to myself with happiness starting to enthuse into my face. And I began to ponder how I wanted to go about it.

So, I thought about the price tag needed to `buy into` the Dredd hobby. £75.00 for the starter set… hmmmm. Okay, lets analyse that a moment. Two lots of 8 miniatures.. 16 in total. Not a lot is it! Not many options for repeated games, and not really enough to immerse in Mega City One and Post Apocalyptic adventures into the vast wilderness…. not with just 16 figures 😦  Course, there was an option, just buy more. NO! I thought. What am I, money bags? That`s money I need to support my family, pay bills, and generally see everyone is looked after. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to take my family out for a nice breakfast at my favourite cafe in town, or an evening meal at the yummy curry house, than spend half a week’s wages on indulging my whims within the hobby every time I get an itch. It`s nice sometimes to think of myself, but not every time the passion takes a hold on me.

Hmmmm, £75:00. That`s a lot, just to make an initial stab as a new project. So I looked into details about the rules book: hmmmmm, not many pages of background detail. 30 or so pages, not enough for me. I wanted detail man, not simplified magazine style blurb.

Then I looked at the free 20 page Warlord Games PDF JD rules primer. Hmmmmm, it was all combat, combat, combat. *sighsss* okay, this was obviously all going to be a combat oriented table top wargame, to the exclusion of all else. Any immersion and essential world narrative was going to have to come from our own interpretations, supplemented by the meagre atmospheric blurb included in the package. Not enough. How the hell would this help me? I needed to learn all about this amazing world of the Cursed Earth. But oh my GOD, there was 40 years of it to learn *gulp*.

Then it struck me and I started to laugh heartily. If I could learn real life history for 45 years of my life, I could learn the information contained in a comic book.

“Hmmm, £75:00.” my mind returned to that price tag.

And I began to work that out. I then turned to Amazon.co.uk and scoured the site, gleaning all the options I had available to me. At the end of two hours in front of the screen, the smile of satisfaction that played over my lips was a picture of joy. Okay I would allow myself £75.00 to plough into this hobby, and NO more.

This was fast becoming a project obsession. Immersive gaming on a shoe string.

It was also fast becoming clear (the general consensus of opinion) that the newbie `jump in` point for getting into Judge Dredd was Case Files 5. Each case file graphic novel anthology contains about 400 pages and covers about 1 year of the comic books (unlike any other comic books, 2000AD Judge Dredd… which has been going for 40 years… runs in `true time.` i.e. a year in that world is also a year in the real world, “neat.” I thought to myself. So a young Judge Dredd written about 40 years ago, started at about thirty, is now a seventy year old man, “wow that`s neat,” I thought). The price tag of a Case File on Amazon is (if you shop wisely) about £7.00. “Okay I thought, I`ll buy Judge Dredd Case Files 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. That gives me the first 5 frickin years of the magazine… WOW,” all in all, around 2000 pages to read, enjoy, absorb and immerse deeply into the world and learn exactly how to do this subject right.

So I clicked – PURCHASE!

That was £35.00 spent. Yeeeey, not a bad start.

From here I can buy them one at a time from now on, for about £7.00 each. So wont break the piggy bank slowly collecting the lot. I t-h-i-n-k there`s about 26 of them to collect to bring me up to current speed and 2016. After Case File 12 they stop being black and white and go full colour, Oooh nice. Though I actually like the starkness of the early black and white programs. Like the Walking Dead graphic novels, it’s really atmospheric at times.

Next, I really wanted that Ape gang. But not at £30 (with postage) for 8 bloody figures. So I turned to another source. A big set of plastic apes, chimps, gorillas, and various simians, sold at the local Wild Life Park in Cork, but also sold online at Amazon for 11 euro. That`s about £8.00 English money. This would give me a pile of fur covered critters to inhabit my Mega City concrete jungles, and the wild lands beyond. Fun, fun, fun to convert these to a truly unique gang… with plenty of figures spare to place elsewhere in the game too. “Real neat.” I thought. £41.00 spent.

With the remainder of my self allotted budget, I blew on purchasing Terminator Genisys – The War Against The Machines. This boxed set, which normally sells for a hot £70.00 is currently on sale at a special price of £35.00 at Warlord Games. I paid £25.00 for mine as I already had a £10.00 voucher to use up. A synch I thought. WHAT amazing potential for crossover games. You get a veritable horde of various terminators, an even bigger load of freedom fighters/rebels (which all painted up for me nicely as MC1 Gangers, Psykers, Block Def Security Guards, City Tech Judges, with some figures still spare for useful optional variations, as new ideas come to me along the way. There`s a huge double-sided terrain `cigar style` map, and some nifty card terrain bits (the counters are nice, and I will find a use for these for sure, and there is a 128 rules book.. which I won`t be using, though contains some excellent ideas I will use, like the FATE dice idea… has an almost invaluable section on homemade terrain making, and offers some comprehensive tutorials at the back of the book. Whole thing looks really nice too).

https://store.warlordgames.com/collections/terminator-genisys/products/terminator-genisys-the-war-against-the-machines-1

This takes me up to £66.00 of my planned budget. Meh, I really don’t need to spend the other £9 quid, so I consider my experiment a complete success.

However I am going into the city next week, and will pop into all three pound shops that I know of, and will scour the shelves for cheap plastic children`s toys I can convert to space-y MC1 vehicles and speeders. Failing that (though I`m bound to get lucky) “Deals” in Killarney or our own Bantry toy shop is bound to have things on the shelves that will grab my attention. I’m already thinking a 28mm-ish toy dustbin lorry I’ve seen, which I believe would convert nicely into a cool MC1 Mopad vehicle.

If I didn’t already have all the spare figures I needed to convert to Mega City One, I would simply not have bought my Terminator set, and would instead have spent £30.00 on eBay and purchased a 250 figure group lot of random Wizkids HeroClix miniatures and lopped them off their bases. These are always appearing on eBay and represent a great investment to any gamer wishing to DIY their hobby on the cheap. Very handy, as practically any and every Clix fig has a use in this genre, and as I have been growing my collection of these for a while now, I currently have a good thousand or so to play about with.

So there we have it. I envisage a Cursed Earth with plenty of scope for crossovers… with Dark Horse Aliens and Hellboy, DC Gotham, Marvel Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D, weird WWII Hydra, and possibly even a bit of X Men: all tastefully done, accurately faithful (in tone and style) to the 2000AD comic genre, and yet allowing us enough scope to play about with creative originality. Should be a fun couple of years experimenting with this fun subject. After that, maybe up, up, and awayyyyyy.

God I love my hobby.

Steve


Hillers Afterword on the Subject.

The interesting thing about our future intentions with Cursed Earth is, we are going to do things `bum about face` a little bit. The normal expectation would be for someone to set up a 2000AD Judge Dredd game and then carefully work in all the crossover elements they want to add, at a later date. However, we are doing it completely the other way round, because we`re strange like that he he.

Yes we are working hard to pull this all together. Chopping up miniatures, rebasing, converting, customising and in some cases scratch building things we need when we really have no other alternative. An example of this would be Judge Death. We really wanted this character for our world, but we simply don’t have a suitable model to convert, and can’t find a Heroclix one at a price we are happy to pay, and so we decided in the end it would be simpler all round if we just made our own from scratch.

Terrain has to be made, and is being created almost daily. It’s frightening when I look at just how much we have made this year alone, and already I think it fair to say we could do a sizable and varied table top cityscape (which would easily fit onto a table tennis table if we put it all out) without too much problem at all. Best of all, it didn’t really cost us anything to make, just time and materials.

We are all of us pouring over the original Dredd comics, in anthology form, which makes collecting them so much easier, is aesthetically pleasing, and is rewarding to see the collection grow on the book shelf. Interestingly, the more we read and learn, the more we spot blinding errors in some of the (shall we say) latest rules manuals that have hit the shelves this last few years. I guess it’s not easy to stay true to 40 years worth of knowledge base, but *shrugs* is it that hard.. we`re managing it ok, so why not the professional game companies out there?  Anyway, before I step into a mine field there and upset anyone by knocking their favourite rules (not that I specifically single out any of them), I will quickly move on. Where was I.

 Oh yes. Bum about face.

So we are learning all we need to bring this game to life and make it an epic we would feel pleased and proud to run as game hosts, and happy to adventure in as player characters – both on the table top as skirmish run wargames, and as rpg games for the club to immerse in.

BUT why bum about face?

Well, when we have finished and feel ready to unveil our new `baby` and our grand magnum opus, we are not actually doing the sensible thing which most other normal and sane people would do, which would be to set our game firmly within the Cursed Earth. No, when we are ready for the next stage of game development, we are then going to move the entire campaign over to Gotham, and move all the other elements we want to add into that world. So instead of crossovers entering Cursed Earth and Judge Dredd`s Mega City One, we will move all our crossover realities and story-line-arcs into the DC world of Batman. This will include Marvel realities, Dark Horse, and of course, heavily feature as much of the Idea and Design Works Publishing (and others) as we feel necessary to complete our world.

Simply put, the world of The Bat, Robin, Catwoman, The Question, Black Mask, The Riddler, The Joker, HarleyQuinn, Poison Ivy, Croc, Mr Freeze, The Mad Hatter, Harvey Two Face, Scarecrow, Bane, and all the rest, is too rich a fictitious world of potential not to explore in all its neon gothic glory.

So there we have it. It should, hopefully, all be one hell of a ride.

Hils xxx


Tarot’s Thoughts

I really couldn’t let the guys write about this without bringing my own tuppence worth to the table. Reading up, I see that I agree with all that has been said so far: but I do feel something intrinsically important has been left out.. maybe even missed entirely.

Yes, I completely agree that Gotham  city of the great Bat himself  is a rich resource to tap into and add to any neo-Gothic or post modern supers setting; and I would be the first to place my proverbial cup under that tap and start to pour liberally from it.

In truth I would be deeply divided in my loyalty and my love of both genres: Judge Dredd`s Cursed Earth (Mega City One and its vast explored environs), or the alternative reality Gotham City and the neon infused futuristic vision of the USA and beyond. Certainly it would (from a gamer`s perspective) be a crying shame to play one setting, at the prime exclusion of the other. But need we just rely on crossover `programs` or `episodes` to achieve this harmonious marriage of playability between the twain?

I`m not so sure.

For me, I think the answer can perhaps be balanced on the scales and achieved with a little bit of lateral thinking games master-ship.

 Everyone knows the 1986 movie “Highlander” starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and Clancy Brown, right? Remember how the movie kept switching (seamlessly) between old pre-Jacobite Scotland, kilts, targes, dirks and all including lots of Och aye the noo.. and the film kept flitting back and forward to and from old Scotland to the modern day setting of Yew York? The film literally worked on two levels and told separate but deeply interlinked stories.. set in different times, and best of all.. the movie worked because of it.

So, please stay with my thoughts a little longer. I will get to the point I promise.. he he he.

Now imagine for a moment that Batman`s Gotham is (a) either a futuristic version of New York.. i.e. is what the city will one day evolve into: or (b) assume that Gotham is an alternative reality version of a futuristic New York (after all, we are used to alternative realities in this kind of thing aren’t we. Just look at the five Terminator movies. Look at film one for a prime example, where Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor about humanity`s approaching dark destiny and of the terrible guerrilla war against the machines. Sarah Connor turns to Kyle and says: “can it be stopped. Is this our written future?” and Kyle replies: “I don’t know. From your perspective possibly.. one possible future anyway.”

Hmmmm. I`m thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to use portal gates to explore possible alternative realities. We already know that Gotham is/was New York.. simply placed in a different setting. And so New York is also Gotham too.. in a sense? Soooo, it stands to reason that the two places can`t exist in the same space – not in the same reality, so why not have them both exist, but merely as two faces of the same coin?  When we think of portals we usually think of travel from one point in space to another. Well what I`m suggesting is two places divided by a reality curve, like two sides of an elastic band. One side is Gotham City and the surrounding lands existing in an utterly alternative (but similar) reality to real life; and another reality is Mega City One, and the terrible apocalypse swept wilderness of The Cursed Earth.

Other realities might include the Terminator Wars, the Cthulhu mythos, or any others you wish to explore (why not Fantasy Flight Games “Shadows of Brimstone” or “Tannhauser” even). Already I am thinking of using Mayan temples and pyramids to induce my gates to `awaken` (perhaps because of the dabbling of Hydra) and create opening s to these various realities. See where I`m going with this?

I can see two campaigns here. Both rolled into one, but each with a distinct and unique flow, tone, and feel. Cursed Earth would be grim, gritty, stark, and based in a mind boggling advanced futuristic setting. And Gotham would be all neo-Gothic, film noir, neon lighting, full of comic book supers and larger than life heroes. Both games would be `bridged` allowing access back and forth between them both, and yet each world would have its own unique themed development of back-story and in-game campaign tales.

Stepping back a moment, and talking  about Cursed Earth being stark and grim. I actually think the new Mongoose/Warlord Games Judge Dredd rules miss the mark by a very wide mile. They are a shiny, poppy, stylised lightweight skirmish table top miniatures set of rules, held together by some fairly `thin` in themed blurb to keep the readers happy: but ultimately designed to keep the customers interested in buying lots of expensive figures. That`s all cool, and good marketing. But if you really really want to immerse in culture of The Cursed Earth, you should be looking to The Judge Dredd D20 System Role Playing Game: by Wizard of the Coast/Mongoose Publishing (under licence from Rebellion A/S). This book has guts, is packed with information, it is a complete role-playing guide in its own right and also serves as a good wargame/skirmish table top game.. all at the same time.  I have heard others say that games nowadays are `dummied down` a lot for  modern public, and this book is living proof of that. Now out of print and longer readily available on the shelves, it IS available from various sources, including Amazon, eBay, and even online as a free PDF, if you know where to look. This book is all you will ever need to enjoy a lifetime gaming in a Judge Dredd world, and best of all, if you like using miniatures… actively encourages you to use any miniatures you own in your collection.. or dispense with miniatures altogether if you just want to play this setting as a pure paper and pencil rpg.

I seriously can`t praise this 256 page book enough. We had written our own rules for playing in the Cursed Earth, and were happily intending to do just that, until discovering this amazing gem of a book (a big bonus to those of you who like the 2nd and 3rd edition of the Dungeons and Dragons D20 system). Its deep, immersive, allows full character customisation,  and best of all, lets you run characters, perps and monsters just like you would in a roleplaying game… with lots of options and possibilities.  The book has it all. You seriously would never need to hold another book in your hands. Its masterpiece of (British written) work from 15 years ago, which is when it first hit the hobby store shelves.

I think this whole theme has amazing potential for us would be world builders. To explore endless games for our miniatures and/or rpg campaigns.

Happy gaming.

Thanks for reading,

Tarot.


I hope you all enjoyed the insights provided by my guests – let’s hope this isn’t the last time they’ll grace my humble blog with their efforts.

Next time we should be seeing some more progress on my Doctor Who project, unless I get distracted by something else, like grafting the heads of plastic ‘toob’ animals onto Heroclix bodies to make Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew

Actually, that’s not such a bad idea, after all…

Jez

Primal Law

Regular visitors to this blog will know that whilst the majority of the content posted here is relatively sensible, there are times when my brain experiences a spasm and we get something a little bit mad. Today is one of those days…

So, if you’ve turned up here expecting more Doctor Who figures, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. However, if the above has intrigued you, then read on…

One of my favourite blogs to visit, until it sadly closed it’s doors, was “The Games Cupboard”, the majority of the content for which was provided by Steve and Hilary Gilbert, ably abetted by Tarot Hunt. I always looked forward to reading what they had posted, as their love of the hobby was evident and they chose to discuss all aspects of it, rather than just providing an endless parade of figures that had been painted in the preceding week.

I became very good friends with all three of them and have remained in contact ever since. Whilst they may not have been making regular postings on a blog, this does not mean that they have been idle, as they actually been painting and building and, most importantly, playing with their miniatures.

So, the current focus of their attention is a long-planned Judge Dredd/Cursed Earth campaign, which, from the sounds of it, will be absolutely epic. Rather than going the route of buying every single available ‘official’ figure, they are utilising their existing figure collection and converting, scratch-building and generally being awesomely creative to ensure that their vision of the world of Dredd matches what they think it should be, rather than being a cookie-cutter, straight-out-the-box version, like everyone else’s.

The good news is that you won’t have to hear about this second hand from me, as Steve has very kindly agreed to write some articles regarding this project, which I will be hosting here on the Buffet – so watch this space.

The bad news, however, is that the discussions about this project inspired me to create some characters for their campaign and I went a bit…off road.

So, first order of the day was to decide what characters I wanted to create and the obvious choice is Judges. In order to do this, I required some suitable ‘bodies’ and felt that the original ‘womble’ Space Marines from Games Workshop would be ideal. They have big boots, elbow pads and massive shoulder pads and the particular figures I chose were all armed with bolt pistols, which make suitable proxy lawgivers.

So, I removed the backpacks and all their heads and tidied up the torsos a bit, as there was a fair bit of glue residue, due to these being originally put together in the early 90’s.

Looking at them, I decided that whilst they were pretty close, they weren’t exactly right, which led me down the thought path of ‘alternate reality’ versions of the Judges. If these were Judges from another dimension, this would explain why their uniforms were slightly different…so why not make them really different? Which led to the next component parts, namely these:

This is a selection of small plastic dinosaurs, the kind that come in a ‘toob’ and are roughly 30mm tall.

That’s right – I’m making….DINO-JUDGES!!!!

So, having selected the relevant heads and tails, these were removed from the torsos, trimmed and dry-fitted into the neck collars and rears of the Marine bodies.

Once I was happy that the fit was correct, out came the superglue and I discovered that the rubbery plastic used to manufacture these dinosaurs doesn’t like superglue. Having had this issue with plastics before, I went straight to the understairs cupboard and fished out the ‘No More Nails’. This stuff will stick anything to anything, and this indeed proved the case in respect of the dinosaur parts and the Space Marine bodies, as shown below:

Once these had dried, it was just a case of painting them up in the appropriate colours, although I did decide to go with dark blue rather than black for the jumpsuits and gold for the shoulder pads and the buckles for their harnesses.

Now, these may not be the correct colours for ‘official’ 2000AD Judges, but these are DINO=Judges, so they can be whatever colour I like.

I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with how they came out, although my initial assembling of the marine bodies shows that I didn’t consider how I’d paint them, as some of the nooks and crannies were a pain to get too. But now I have completed four Dino-Judges, ready to be dispatched across the Irish Sea to join in Steve, Hils and Tarot’s campaign – which hopefully means this won’t be the last time we see them.

Yes, I know it’s a little bit bonkers, but they’re anthropomorphic future dinosaur policeman – and that’s feckin’ cool!

“You have the right to become extinct! I am the ROAR!!!!

Next week should see a return to ‘regularly scheduled’ programming, but I’m not promising anything…