‘S’ is for…

Whilst thinking about this post, I noticed that everything I was planning on including either began with, or had some connection to, the letter ‘S’. And that gave me my Sesame Street inspired post title. Let us begin…

S is for…’Sai’

In a reply to one of Andy’s wonderful Bushido posts over at Da Gobbo’s Grotto, I stated that all my Oriental figures appeared to be male, with only the monstrous denizens of Japanese myth and legend being of the female persuasion – namely my Onryo, Kitsune, Oni and Jorogumo. To rectify this imbalance, I scoured my collection to see if I had any suitable figures, and came across this:

Image result for elektra heroclix

This was the first sculpt of Elektra from the Heroclix Infinity Challenge set. As she is armed with her signature weapon, namely a pair of Sai, I thought she would make a suitable addition to my Oriental fantasy project and even out the male/female ratio.

However, I felt that she was maybe a little under-dressed and a simple repaint would just make her look like a different coloured Elektra, so I decided to repaint her with a bit more clothing.

As I’d already decided that Clan Chouda’s colours were light green and black, and Clan Karasu’s were blue and yellow, to make her stand out as a mercenary who would fight for either faction, I decided to paint her green and gold, as you can see below:

It wasn’t until I’d finished painting her main colours that I realised that I’d used the same colours as Iron Fist’s classic costume. Go figure. She’s not quite finished, but I’m quite pleased with how I’ve managed to make her outfit a bit more concealing, although her skin colour is a little dark – so I might be repainting it.

S if for…’Samurai’

I’d previously given my rebased Heroclix Samuroid (from the Heroclix Flash subset) an undercoat of GW Goblin Green, as the intention was to turn him into an animated jade statue, under the control of whichever Onmyoji activated him.

He was then given a wash of GW Salamander Green, followed by being dry-brushed with GW Ghoul Grey, followed by GW Rotting Flesh, both of which are effectively different shades of green. I then pained his base Goblin Green, and washed this with a 50/50 mix of black and Salamander Green, then dotted in his eyes with GW Sunburst Yellow. And here he is;

Unlike Simon’s Weeping Angels, you will see this statue move, but he’ll be sending you to see your ancestors, rather than back in time…

S is for…’Sakura’

Whilst I’d already decided on the main colour scheme for my ‘Heroclix Ironclad-to-Rikishi’ conversion, i.e. flesh, I was undecided as to what colour I should paint his traditional kesho-mawashi (decorative apron). I was considering doing a variation of the ‘Rising Sun’ motif, but felt that this was a little too modern.

Looking at my paints, I thought that a good counterpoint to the sheer physical might of a Rikishi would be to use…pink, specifically GW Tentacle Pink, which is the same colour as candy floss. And, coincidently, cherry blossom! A base coat of Docrafts Chocolate Brown, followed by GW Brown Ink gave a lovely dark brown apron, which I then dotted with GW Tentacle Pink, to represent cherry blossom.

And Japanese for ‘cherry blossom’ is Sakura…so thus was born Sakura, the professional rikishi. Although he does also look a little Samoan too…

Finally, S is for…’Starships’

Due to Simon’s WIP on his Irregular Miniatures 6mm Star Trek proxies, I’ve been bitten by the Star Trek bug, as shown in my last post, wherein I constructed my own interpretation of a Federation starship.

Having scoured the web, I have found (so far) three companies that sell either ‘official’ Star Trek starship miniatures or proxies.

The official models can be found on the Amarillo Design Bureau website, of which there are two ranges, Starline 2400 and Starline 2500. The former is the larger range, and covers most of the races mentioned in the Original Series, so if you’re looking for Ferengi Marauders, Klingon Birds of Prey or Romulan Warbirds, you’re out of luck. The Andromedan range of fancy saucers remind me of the spaceship that appears on the covers of E.L.O. albums…

Andromedan Dominator

There is no copyright text…you did not see it…besides, this isn’t strictly a website…

Obviously, we also have Irregular Miniatures, as mentioned before, where you will find a range of pretty nice proxy Federation starships under their 6mm ranges.

Finally, we have Ground Zero Games, who have an extensive range of starships for their own Full Thrust game (which is freely downloadable from their website). The range of starships for the Out Rim Coalition are those that look most like Federation starships.

However, if you happen to have some sprues of Warhammer 40,000 weaponry, some GI Joe 3 3/4″ weaponry and a box of buttons, you can make your own…

As I’ve built a couple more starships since last week, both of which are larger than the first, I’ve had to downgrade my first ship. I’ve also decided on some background fluff for my ships, as whilst they are inspired by Star Trek, they aren’t in the same universe…

The planet of New Albion was colonised by Great Britain and is ruled by a hereditary monarchy, the current incumbent being Victoria the Third. As such, all starships in the New Albion Royal Navy receive the designation ‘HMS’, signifying ‘Her Majesty’s Starship’. Currently, the NARN fields Corvettes, Frigates, Cruisers and Dreadnoughts.

This is the HMS Webb, a Bulldog class Frigate.

This is the HMS Moore, a Lion class Cruiser.

And this is the HMS Scott, a Dragon class Dreadnought.

And here are a couple of pictures showing all three ships, to give an idea of relative size.

I still need to construct the smallest starship, which will be a Unicorn class Corvette, the HMS Nash, but the fleet is coming along.

All three ships were initially undercoated in Docrafts Light Grey, then given two coats of watered down Rust-Oleum Gloss White. This is quite a thick paint, so watering down means that you don’t get brush marks and the light grey shows through, meaning you don’t have to give it a wash afterwards. I then picked out various bits and bobs with my own Orange mix. They are pretty much done, although I think some decals would make them ‘pop’ a bit more.

I do have another ship currently under construction – a Tarot class Frigate – from the notorious Dendrassi race, known for their lush green home-world and their piratical ways…

That’s all for this week. Next week I will be continuing in a similar vein, so there will be more Oriental fantasy figures, possibly more starships, maybe a visit to the Super Chibification workshop…

Unless I get distracted by something else, of course – like my proposed game of heavily armed and armoured narrow boat combat “Pirates of the River Thames”…

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Oriental (Mis-) Adventures

For those of you who regularly follow my blog, you will no doubt have noticed that last week did not provide any new content. This was because the Sunday after my last posting until the following Tuesday, I was in Cardiff and the remainder of the week was spent ‘making up’ the time at work, due to some draconic rules they have about taking holiday during the first few weeks of employment – the joys of being a contractor…

Anyway, having not had any hobby-time, I made sure that I spent some time with brushes and paint this week, although things did not go quite to plan, as you may have gathered from the title of this post…

We are still staying in the Land of the Rising Sun for the foreseeable future, so my first offering is an addition to a figure I began during my last bout…

I’d previously decided to rebase and repaint Lady Deathstrike from the  ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ Heroclix sub-set as a Kitsune and realised that whilst this represented this creature from Japanese legend in human form, I did need a miniature to represent its fox form. Whilst at Warfare last November, I managed to pick up a two-pack of foxes from Rapier Miniatures, for the very reasonable price of £1.00, which can be found under their Familiars range for this exact purpose. However, it languished in its plastic baggie for months…until now.

Having been based on a two pence piece, I built up the base with Milliput and gave it an undercoat of White. Then using the same Orange I’d used on the human form’s hair, I began to add a little colour to the miniature. But that’s as far as I’ve got with this one so far, as you can see below:


The human form of the Kitsune also needs finishing off, but once they are both finished, I’ll be able to field this character in either form.

Next up we have my Ironclad to Sumo conversion and the first Samurai from Clan Karasu, the latter of which has caused me some issues. I had already painted up one of the Izumi Samurai and two of each of the Ashigaru with Yari and Ashigaru with Harquebus (their spelling, not mine) from the HeroScape game as members of Clan Chouda (dishonourable  dogs that they are) for a friend, and as his chosen Clan colours were green and black, I needed to choose different colours for Clan Karasu. (NB: If you want to see the current state of Clan Chouda, who are almost finished, see this post).

As Master Crow is attached to Clan Karasu, I had decided that the colours should reflect the colouring of the Muppet who inspired him, so yellow and blue. However, I chose the wrong yellow and blue the first time and it looked rubbish, so out came the nail polish remover and cotton pads and buds, as I attempted to remove the ‘wrong’ colours. This resulted in less painting being done than I had planned for the week.

Anyway, below you will find the Izumi Samurai I had chosen to represent a Samurai from Clan Karasu, who currently only has the yellow parts of his outfit completed (the yellow being GW Orc Brown, which is actually a dark yellow).

Next to him, is my Sumo wrestler conversion, or to use the correct term, Rikishi. So far, all he’s had done is his flesh in Docrafts Linen, hair in GW Marine Dark Blue and ‘skirt’ in Docrafts White. As this is a relatively uncomplicated sculpt, this one shouldn’t take too long to finish off, although I’m currently undecided as to what pattern the Rikishi should have on his ‘skirt’.

Next up, we’re getting a little…mystical. Whilst buying the foxes noted above, I also bought what Moonraker Miniatures called a ‘Shugenja’, as they had fallen into the same trap that most role-playing and miniature companies have done, by following on from someone’s incorrect first designation.

A Shugenja is a practitioner of Shugendo, which is a religion that originated in Heian Japan and centred on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling existence. The Yamabushi practiced this particular religion, so a Shugenja should be a warrior monk or, to put it in D&D terms, a cleric. For some reason, all companies dealing with Oriental Fantasy have decided to use the term Shugenja to denote an Oriental wizard – which is wrong and very, very annoying. The closest thing from Japanese myth and legend to what the West would consider a ‘wizard’, is an Onmyoji – practitioners of Onmyodo, which is a mixture of natural science and occultism. For more details on this, and Abe no Seimei, the most famous Onmyoji, read this Wikipedia article.

Rant over.

So, I have chosen to use this figure as an Onmyoji and as the outfit he is wearing is very similar to that worn by Miko (Shrine Maidens), I’ve decided to mimic the colours, so given him red trousers.

Next to him is the Heroclix Samuroid, who I’ve decided to paint up as an animated jade statue of a Samurai. So far, all I’ve done with this one is given it a base coat of GW Goblin Green, but additional washes and sponging should make him look like he’s made of jade.

Finally, we have my Master Crow conversion, which started out as a Heroscape Izumi Samurai, before I decapitated it and gave it the head of a Kroot.

As this figure has wide, sweeping sleeves, I decided to paint these the same colour as his hands and face, to suggest these were wings, using GW Elf Blue, his leggings/legs with GW Sunburst Yellow and his main robe with GW Marine Dark Blue.

Yes, my paints are that old that the colours I’m mentioning no longer exist in the GW catalogue…

His sash will also be Sunburst Yellow, and I have a feeling that the robe will end up with some kind of pattern (possibly tiny little crow’s feet) in gold.

So, not a huge amount of progress to show, but at least I’m back in the game…

Next time, I believe we may be returning to the Super Chibification Workshop, as I show you a use for rubber tap washers that probably hadn’t occurred to you…

Full of Eastern Promise…

For those of a certain generation, the post title will evoke memories of rose-flavoured purple jelly coated in milk chocolate, but I’ve chosen it to describe the contents of this post.

We continue with the Oriental Fantasy theme and I thought it high time that I actually got some figures onto the painting table. However, as three of the figures I was intending on painting had not been completely based, out came the Milliput…

The first two figures are both from the Wizkids’ Heroclix range, namely Scarab from the Indy Heroclix subset and Samuroid from The Flash subset. Having detached the pair from their ‘clix bases, I glued Samuroid to a 2 pence piece, but found that Scarab wide-legged stance precluded me from doing the same with her. However, having used some HeroScape figures for other purposes, I did have a spare Heroclix base, which was the right size. I then smoothed some Milliput onto each base and then stippled it with the end of blunt toothpick.

Currently, the intention is to repaint Scarab as a Ninja or Kunoichi (although traditionally the kunoichi were spies disguised as courtesans, amongst other things) and the Samuroid will either be a Daimyo, as he is rather impressively large, or possibly a demonic Samurai. I’m not sure yet.

Next up, we have another Heroclix figure – Ironclad from the Web of Spider-Man subset. This particular character is one of the quartet of villains known as the U-Foes, who gained their powers in a similar fashion to the Fantastic Four. However, I’d bought this particular figure for one reason only – to turn him into a sumo wrestler! The figure was already suitably muscled and sported a ‘skirt’ around his nether regions, which I have seen sumo wrestlers wearing, but his hair was wrong. However, a Milliput topknot and even without paint, he’s starting to look a bit more sumo…

As anyone who works with any kind of two-part sculpting putty will know, when you’re mixing it up, you either end up with too little for the job in hand, or too much. In this instance, I mixed too much, so rather than waste it I got of my Chibi armatures and used the remaining putty up on them.

First up, ‘Pulp Avenger Hil’. Not a great deal has been done to this figure since last time, the only real addition being her right foot, which was bare metal last time. I’ve also decided to take the WIP picture from behind, so you can see the definition of her calves, feet and…er…bum.

Nest, ‘Clockwork Mage Stevie’. As I need to complete the lower parts of this figure first, before I can sculpt his coat, I needed to make the feet/shoes bigger, as they were far too small. As you can see they are now more ‘shoe-like’.  I also bulked out the head a little more, but it would appear I didn’t smooth out the finger-prints, so it now looks like he has a thumb for a head…

Finally, ‘Shrine Guardian Tarot’. I must have really hit my sculpting groove when I got to this figure, as not only did I manage to sculpt pretty good tabi (Japanese split-toed socks), I’ve managed to make a start on the tunic. Whilst my original intention was to follow the traditional Miko outfit, I think I may have been subconsciously influenced by this image of Sailor Mars…

But with a bit more cleavage on show, as you can see below…

Either way, I’m feeling pretty positive that all three figures will end up looking like I envisioned them.

As next week sees quite a heavy workload, I may not get any new hobby stuff done, so we may have another tale, or possibly some resurrected articles from my old blog. Who knows… 😉

“Cunningly Fashioned from Pure Green!”

As regular followers of both my blog and Roger’s Rantings from Under the Wargames Table blog will be aware, Roger very kindly crafted a Chibi ‘Master Crow’ for me as a surprise thank you gift;

CC chibi (8)

Details on how he made this wonderful figure can be found here. However, Roger also kindly sent me a small amount of Green Stuff, as he knows that I’m too cheap to buy my own (and also as a dig for not buying tea for him and Simon at Salute, as promised.)

The reason I mention this is that we are returning to the Super Chibification Workshop and my initial experiments with Green Stuff. Do not expect the level of expertise and craftsmanship evidenced by Roger, as I’ve never used this medium before and found it a somewhat challenging experience. And that was after Roger had provided me with some detailed tips.

However, after two sessions using it (and a variety of colourful profanities whilst doing so), I believe I may have now got its measure…

Anyway, when we last saw the armature that is hopefully going to be transformed into “Clockwork Mage Stevie”, it looked like this;

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Realising that the arms were a little on the chunky side, I filed these down and then moved on to the forearms. As these are going to be big-ass steampunk gauntlets, I thought I’d lay down the initial shape of them, to give me some idea as to what they’ll end up looking like. Whilst I had the Milliput out, I also added a bit more bulk to the figure’s head.

The next session involved purely Green Stuff, and I’d decided that the best thing to do was use it to smooth out the figure’s thighs, as it gives a much smoother finish. As the figure had no feet as yet and this particular character would be wearing trousers, I needed to make a start on the feet before sculpting the lower legs. And this is where we’ve got to now:

Next we have “Shrine Guardian Tarot”, who looked like this last time;

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As mentioned in my previous post, I wasn’t entirely happy with the proportions of certain…*ahem*… “aspects” of this figure, so out came the needle files to tidy up and reshape the anatomy. As with the previous figure, I then moved onto the forearms.

This figure proved particularly troublesome in respect of the left forearm. I tried on three separate occasions to sculpt this, first with Milliput, then Green Stuff, but for some reason it just wasn’t playing ball. I finally managed to get complete it on the fourth attempt. The right forearm was a doddle in comparison.

I then moved onto the figure’s thighs, using the putty to smooth out the previously rough Milliput, with variable results. As this figure will be having flappy Japanese trousers, as with the previous figure, I needed to sculpt the feet first. As the intention was that this figure should be wearing sandals, I started with the soles first, with the intention of adding the feet after these had cured.

The remaining Green Stuff was used to bulk out the figure’s head a bit more and this is where I ended up with this one;

For some reason, when looking at the picture above, I’m reminded of Bruce Lee…but with breasts…

Moving swiftly on…

Our final figure is “Pulp Avenger Hil”, and this is where we left her last time;

wp-image-285115933jpg.jpeg

As with Tarot’s figure, this one also needed some cosmetic surgery, in order to reshape the anatomy. I then decided to add the left foot, as this character will be wearing knee-high boots. The Green Stuff came out for the next session, and the forearms were added, the top part of the figure’s trousers and the remaining putty used to bulk out the head a bit more. And this is where we are with this one;

I know it doesn’t appear that I’ve done very much, but a large proportion of the time was familiarising myself with the properties of Green Stuff…in other words, moaning about it sticking to stuff I didn’t want it to and not sticking to things I did want it to stick to, getting it jammed under my finger-nails and refusing to come out, and leaving green smears across my cutting mat. More practice is definitely needed until I’ll consider myself proficient, so I’ll probably finish the figures off with Milliput, as I’m more familiar with its properties.

Next week it could be more sculpting, more Way of the Crow rules or maybe some painting. Depends on what type of time I have available.

Way of the Crow – Part Three

The supplicant had returned to the House of Crows, for whilst Master Crow had taught him much, he felt that was much more to learn.

Entering the shadowy interior of the dojo, the supplicant was alarmed to see Master Crow lying face down on his tatami, surrounded by empty Guinness cans. Moving closely, he noted that Master Crow was snoring gently and a musty smell, reminiscent of dusty feathers. As he stepped closer still, he accidentally kicked one of the cans, sending it skittering across the floor. Master Crow immediately sat bolt upright, his eyes staring, although not completely in focus. Turning his head, he stared at the supplicant and said a single word…

“Oonagi.”

Gathering himself, Master Crow shrewdly looked the supplicant up and down. “I am assuming that you have returned to learn more of the Way of the Crow, yes?” The supplicant nodded.

“Master Crow,” the supplicant said nervously, “do you have a drinking problem?”

“Very perceptive, young Padawan.,” answered Master Crow, “I do indeed – my beak is not designed to sup from cans, so I must use…a straw.”

“But enough of the burdens I labour under, it is time for you to learn. Let us begin…”

Welcome back to the third part of my home-brew skirmish rules, currently known as Karasudo or The Way of the Crow. In Part One, I discussed my ‘design philosophy’ and detailed how to stat up characters. In Part Two, I explained weapon skills and gave a brief overview of the main rules and discussed melee combat. Now it’s time to get…crunchy.

Karasudo – The Power of One

No matter how lucky you are, or how good your dice-rolling skills are, there will be occasions that you will roll an unmodified 1 on a d10. This is a Bad Thing, for not only have you reduced the chances that you will succeed in whatever endeavour your character is attempting, in Karasudo it also signifies that your ancestors have forsaken you and something Bad has happened.

This may sound familiar to some and, to be honest, I may have appropriated this idea from the Ghostbusters RPG published by West End Games. This was a d6 based system, which was the precursor of the d6 system utilised in the original Star Wars RPG and used on nearly every game published by West End Games afterwards. When rolling a number of d6’s in the game, one of these dice had to be the ‘Ghost Die’, which had the 1 replaced by the Ghostbusters symbol. If a character rolled this, even if they rolled high enough to succeed, something Bad would happen. If a ghost or other supernatural foe rolled the ‘ghost’, then something Good happened – for the entity. Either way, rolling a ‘Ghost’ was detrimental to the players.

As I liked this concept, I originally integrated this into the missile combat system, whereby rolling a 1 usually meant that the missile weapon had failed in some way – the roll may still have been a success and hit the target, but the weapon was now jammed or broken, and would require a couple of Actions to fix. Not such a problem when supported by other characters, but if you’re pinned down in a mall clothing store by advancing zombies, having your SMG jam at an inappropriate moment can be a little hairy…

So, rather than restrict it to just missile combat, it has now been applied to any dice roll. You roll an unmodified 1 and something detrimental happens. Obviously, depending on what the roll is for, depends on what actually happens, so I’ll break it down by types of roll.

Initiative – Should a player roll an unmodified 1 when rolling for Initiative, not only do they lose the opportunity to go first, one of their characters will not be able to activate this turn. This will usually be the character with the lowest Awareness score or, if more than one character has the same lowest score, the figure furthest from the designated leader. This represents a combination of garbled instructions from the leader and the character in question not paying attention. He’s probably seen a squirrel or something…

If the player who lost the Initiative roll only has one character or model in play, then that character will only activate after the winner of the Initiative has activated all their models. Should have been paying attention, shouldn’t he…

Melee Combat – If a character rolls an unmodified 1 for an Attack Roll during Melee combat, even if they succeed in hitting their target, they’ve managed to disarm themselves. The must now use an alternative equipped weapon (if they have one) or spend their next Action attempting to retrieve it, which is something their opponent may not allow.

If a character rolls an unmodified 1 for an Attack Roll during Unarmed combat, even if they succeed in hitting their target, they immediately lose 1 Health point. This represents a particularly cack-handed attack, such as punching someone right in the armour.

The same rules apply if the character rolls an unmodified 1 for a Defence roll – if Melee combat, they are disarmed of their weapon or shield (controlling player’s choice) and if in Unarmed combat, they take an additional 1 Health point of damage, over and above any they may have received from the attack itself. In the latter case, even if the character managed to soak the damage caused by their opponent’s Attack roll via Vigour and Armour, they would still receive a single point of damage.

As I will be discussing Missile Combat further down, I will explain what an unmodified roll of 1 signifies in that section.

Movement

As previously explained, a character can move a number of Units equal to their Agility score for each Action expended on movement. However, this only applied to Clear terrain, such as grass, pavements, roads, etc. Terrain is divided into three categories – Clear, Rough and Impassable.

Clear terrain, as described above, constitutes flat, even terrain, where there are no obstacles in impede movement and therefore has no penalty to a character movement across it.

Rough terrain constitutes terrain that does impede movement, such as shallow water, thick mud, swamps, marshes or ground that is littered with a large amount of stones or gnarled tree roots. When passing through Rough terrain, a character can only move half their Agility score in Units. However, this only applies to the area of Rough terrain itself.

To give an example of how this works, a character has an Agility of 4 and can therefore move 4 Units per Action. The character could therefore move 2 Units across Clear terrain, but when entering Rough terrain would have their remaining movement allowance reduced by half, meaning that they could only move a further 1 Unit through the Rough terrain before halting. On their next Action, as the Rough terrain continues for a further 2 Units, they could only move 2 Units (4/2 = 2).

There are certain Abilities that a character may have that allow them to move their full movement through Rough terrain or ignore it altogether, which will be discussed when we get to the post about Abilities.

To keep things easy, Rough terrain also includes vertical surfaces, but with an additional complication. Each vertical surface, be it a tree, cliff face or building will have a Difficulty rating, depending on how easy it is to scale. Any character attempting to scale the vertical surface will need to roll 1d10 plus their Agility score and get higher than the Difficulty rating. If they succeed, they may move half their Agility score in Units vertically for each Action expended. Each further vertical movement Action necessary to reach the top of whatever they’re climbing requires a further roll. A success means a further vertical movement of half their Agility, a failure means they remain where they are and an unmodified 1 means they’ve fallen, automatically taking 1 Health point of damage for each Unit fallen. It doesn’t matter how tough you are or how much armour you’ve got on – if you fall, you’re gonna get hurt.

As with horizontal Rough terrain, there are Abilities that will make scaling vertical surfaces easier or prevent falling altogether.

Impassable terrain is just that – terrain that cannot be passed on foot. This may be deep or swiftly flowing water, molten lava, very dense vegetation or solid structures, such as walls or buildings. However, what may be Impassable to an average character, may only be considered Rough terrain to others. Certain types of Impassable terrain will have a Vigour rating, meaning that a character which has a Vigour score equal to or greater than the Vigour score of the Impassable terrain can treat it as Rough terrain.

So, if the Impassable terrain was a fierce and swiftly flowing river with a Vigour rating of 6, an average human with a Vigour of 3 would immediately get swept away by the torrent. However, an Oni, with a Vigour score of 8 would be able to force their way through the river, although at half their normal movement score. The same would apply to dense vegetation.

Buildings and structures are treated slightly differently. Whilst they will have a Vigour rating, they will also have a Health score. This represents how much damage the structure or part of the structure can take before being breached. A character makes an Attack roll as normal, adding any modifiers and deducting the Vigour rating (and any other defensive modifiers) of the structure. The end result is how many ‘Health’ points the structure has lost. Once these have been reduced to zero, the structure has been breached and any character can now go through the breach created. Particular weak structures, such as paper walls or thin wooden panelling will obviously be easier to breach than solid stone. However, if you roll an unmodified 1 when attempting breach a structure, you have either broken your weapon or got it jammed into the material from which the structure is made, so it now unusable for the remainder of the game. If you’re attempting to breach a structure using an Unarmed attack (suggested only for weak structures or very Vigourous characters), an unmodified 1 results in automatically receiving 1 Health point of damage. Unless you’re the Hulk, don’t try to punch your way through a wall.

As with the other types of terrain, there are Abilities that allow you to ignore Impassable terrain, such as Intangibility of Flight.

Missile Combat

Missile combat in the majority of rules I’ve read is pretty complicated, with modifiers for range, the time of day, the weapon being used and then there’s the headache of recording how much ammunition has been expended, ad infinitum. So, I’ve attempted to make it as simple as possible, because all that faffing about annoys me.

Unlike Melee weapons, which provide a bonus to your damage roll, and Unarmed attacks, which the base damage is based on the Vigour of the attacker, all missile weapons have a fixed damage they can do, which is expressed as a Vigour rating. So a Matchlock Rifle has a Vigour rating of 5, or V5. Similarly, every missile weapon has a Range, which is the number of Units the weapon can be used within. This is typically double the Vigour rating of the weapon, so our Matchlock Rifle would have a Range of 10, or R10. The shorthand way of recording this under Abilities is as follows:

Matchlock Rifle (V5/R10)

Typically, missile weapons cost their combined Vigour and Range, unless they can only be used every other Action. So, whilst the Matchlock Rifle above should have a points cost of 15, as it has to be reloaded after every shot, it cost half (rounded up) in points, so 8 points. Weapons that can be used every Action, such as automatic weapons or bows, cost their combined Vigour and Range. To show what I mean, I’ll list some typical Oriental weapons and their costs:

Shuriken (V3/R6) – 9 points

Matchlock Pistol (V4/R8) – 6 points

Longbow (V5/R10) – 15 points

Matchlock Rifle (V5/R10) – 8 points

Okay, so strictly speaking an archer does need to reload each shot, but this is just a case of pulling another arrow from his quiver, rather than loading powder, shot, etc. so he’s going to be a lot quicker.

To make a missile attack follows the same process as attacking in melee, so Agility plus Marksmanship plus 1d10. However, you have to take into account whether your target is in range and you can actually see them – this is what is known as Line of Sight.

So, we’ve established that there are no range modifiers, so a character with a Matchlock Rifle can shoot at any opposing character within 10 Units of them. However, if they can’t see them, they can’t shoot at them. There are three categories that apply to Line of Sight – No Cover, Partial Cover and Full Cover.

If the attacking character can see the opposing character with nothing impeding their view, it counts as No Cover – so you roll as normal.

If the attacking character cannot see the opposing character at all, it counts as Full Cover and they can’t shoot at them.

Pretty simple so far.

However, Partial Cover is where it gets a bit crunchy, but still relatively simple. If the attacking character can see the opposing character, but they are partially obscured by anything else, such as a low wall, vegetation of anything else on the battlefield, they are considered to have Partial Cover. The attacking character adds their Agility score and any relevant modifiers (such as Marksmanship) and then halves this amount. They then make their standard 1d10 roll and adds this to their base Attack roll. The defender rolls their Defence roll as normal and the result follows the standard rules for success or failure.

So, say we have an Ashigaru with an Agility of 3 and Marksmanship of +1, armed with a Matchlock Rifle. We’ve established that his target is within 10 Units and in Partial Cover. Therefore the base roll for the attacker will be Agility + Marksmanship divided by 2, which is 2. We roll our d10 and get a 6, giving a total of 8. The target has an Agility of 3 and rolls a 4, meaning that we’ve beaten the target’s score by 1. Add this 1 to the base damage of 5, means that the target could potentially take 6 health points of damage. Our target has a Vigour of 2, a Health of 4 and no Armour. we deduct the Vigour score of the target from our 6 damage, meaning 4 points got through and as he only had 4 Health points – Boom! – he’s dead.

So, as you can see, a lot simpler than most missile combat.

Of course, we still have to take into account the dreaded unmodified 1. For missile weapons that require reloading every other Action, an unmodified 1 means the weapon has become jammed and will require 2 Actions to un-jam. For weapons that don’t require reloading every other round,  an unmodified 1 means that the character is out of ammunition and needs to ‘reload’, which takes 1 Action. I know this is not particularly realistic, but it does work and saves a lot of book-keeping.

Right, that’s all for this instalment. If you have any questions or think that a particular part could be clearer or needs more explanation, please feel free to provide feedback and comments.

Super Chibification Workshop – Evolution

Welcome back to what I like to call the Super Chibification Workshop! This is where I’ll be documenting my attempts to sculpt three Chibi figures from scratch, to represent some of my friends and fellow bloggers. The three ‘lucky’ recipients of this dubious honour are Steve Gilbert, Hilary Gilbert and Tarot Hunt, who contribute to the wonderfully insightful and interesting blog, The Gamer’s Cupboard, which can be found here.

The first part of this series of posts can be found here, where I explained my design process and the creation of armatures.

So, what have we got for Part Two? Well, previously I’d only created the armatures and begun work on two of the three figures, so felt that I should really start the third figure, to represent “Clockwork Mage Stevie”.

Looking at my initial design ‘doodle’, I decided that whilst the picture gave me an idea of what the final figure should look like, the pose wasn’t particularly dynamic (or heroic looking, eh Steve?). As the general concept for the ‘character’ was a steampunk-ish mad scientist, with massive gauntlets to harness the elemental forces of lightning (similar to Rasputin’s big-ass gloves in the Hellboy movie), I felt that the left arm should be thrust heavenward and the right arm thrust forward, unleashing the power gathered within.

Bearing this in mind, I created my armature in this pose, then added some Milliput to create the torso and head. And this is the result:

It’s almost an en garde pose, but is suitably dynamic and shows that this character means business.

Next, I want to talk about breasts. Being a man, I do tend to look at women’s breasts – I could claim this is a genetic disposition, whereby I’m subconsciously weighing the particular woman’s capabilities as the potential mother of my children, but women appreciate honesty (apparently), so I’ll come clean. I look because I can and it makes me happy. I feel so much better to unburden myself like this…

Anyway, I’ve never sculpted the female form before and the differentiate a Chibi male from a Chibi female, the figure needs to have breasts – ideally of the same size.

So, taking two small balls of putty, I applied these to the chest of the figure that I intend to become “Pulp Avenger Hil”. Unfortunately, applying them as separate balls means that they ended up being two different sizes and not in the right place. Scraping the putty off, I had a bit of a re-think, then rolled a short, thick sausage of putty, applied it in the right area, then blended in the edges, making sure that the slope of the breasts looked correct. I then created the cleavage by indenting the centre of the sausage, then carefully worked around each breast until I got a shape I was happy with. As Chibi figures tend to be somewhat exaggerated, this has lead to me being quite generous. However, no-one can argue that this isn’t a woman now…

Having been pretty successful with this figure, I then moved on to Tarot’s breasts – by which I mean the breasts on the figure that will become “Shrine Guardian Tarot”, obviously. Using the same technique, I then sculpted the figure’s breasts and cleavage, and this is the result:

Looking at both pictures, It does now occur to me that I need to shape them a bit more, so will probably need to take my needle files to both figures. As the putty had started to become unmanageable, that’s where I left it.

New day – new putty. Having only added the torso and head to Steve’s figure, I concentrated on getting a bit more putty onto the armature, so that it was at the same stage as the other two.

This required the adding of thighs, calfs and upper arms, which were each individually added as small blobs of putty, which were then blended around the armature and shaped to the necessary proportions for the body part involved. This generally means that each particular part looks like an extended pear or flattened ellipse, as can be seen from the picture below:

Ideally, as each limb will be covered by clothing, you shouldn’t really make them too thick, so some judicious filling will be necessary on the figure above, to define the muscles a bit better and thin the limbs. This is the advantage of Milliput, as once it sets, it can be filed with no issues. I also decided to bulk out the head a bit more, as having checked some images of Chibi figures online, I realised that their heads are massive!

Moving on to the figures for the girls, I added upper arms and bulked out their heads as well, with results as below.

Currently, all three figures look like Grey aliens, with massive oval heads. The next stage is to add forearms and more bulk to their heads. Then the fun really begins, as I start to add the clothing that will begin to define each figure as an individual.

As there are, without doubt, people out there reading this who are far more talented at this kind of thing than me, any feedback or constructive advice would be appreciated.

Join me next time, where we may be back in the SC workshop, or it may be Part 3 of The Way of the Crow, or I might have actually painted some figures!

That’s why it’s called the Buffet – as you never quite know what’s on the menu!

Introducing…Master Crow

After posting the first part of my home-brew skirmish rules, currently entitled The Way of the Crow, which was introduced by the esteemed and dignified Master Crow, it occurred to me that I really should have a figure to represent him.

As those who had the dubious pleasure of meeting me in the flesh at Salute back in April will know, whilst I appear to be channelling Jack Dee’s voice, the person I most resemble is Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show…

For those of you who were not able to attend Salute this year, I was given permission to re-publish the report compiled by the noted unnaturalist, Sir David Battenberg, who gives his thoughts on some of the attendees here.

As I appear to resemble this blue-hued patriot, and my online ID is Carrion Crow, it seemed obvious that I would use him as the spokes-crow for the rules. So, having spent some fruitless time scouring the internet I discovered that whilst you can buy figures of Sam, they’re all too big for my purposes. So, being a cunning and inventive bugger, it was off to my figure collection and bits box, to see if I had the necessary resources to enable me to create an approximation of ‘Master Crow’ in 28mm.

Having gone through my collection, I decided that this figure was the best fit:

This is one of the three Izumi Samurai that came with the original HeroScape boxed set. Of the three, it is my least favourite figure – the other two have more character and will be appearing on here during the current focus on Oriental fantasy, one as a samurai for Clan Karasu and the other as a member of the despicable Clan Chouda (boo!).

As I was not overly enamoured of this figure, I felt no compunctions in altering him to my needs…so I cut off his head. This went into my bits box, as I knew I’d have a use for it later. I then gouged out a hollow in the area of his neck, as I had a cunning plan…

When I previously visited Oriental fantasy back in August last year, I posed the question “Could you use a GW Kroot mercenary to create a figure of a Tengu?” The answer turned out to be ‘Yes’. Details of this conversion can be found here.

So having established that a Kroot head can pass for a Tengu, or other birdman of your choice, I selected one of the open-mouthed Kroot heads and cut off the rear ‘feathers’. I then filed down the back of the head until it was nice and rounded, filed the ‘neck’ of the head until it matched the hollow I had created earlier in the donor figure and glued it in place.

So far, so good. Now whilst the dark eyebrows which are a distinctive feature of Master Crow can be created using suitable layers of paint, his tufty hair was another matter. So I turned to my favourite item for creating hair on figures, the humble pipe cleaner. I’ve previously used this on both my Oriental dragon conversion and my Hulk to Oni conversion, and once painted, it does give the impression of shaggy locks, without the tedium of sculpting individual strands. I like easy…

Cutting a suitable length of the correct thickness (as my pipe cleaners are tapered), I bent this around the tip of a pair of needle nosed pliers, then glued it in the correct place on the back of his head. The end result is this.

So, now I have my very own Master Crow, who now only needs an appropriate paint job, and he will be ready to show everyone why he warrants the title ‘Master’.

Join me next time, when we’ll have more Oriental goodness of some description, as I juggle the many balls I have. I shall finish with an appropriate quote from Confucius:

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

Way of the Crow – Part Two

I would just like to start by thanking everyone for their positive comments regarding the first part of my skirmish rules, which, if you missed it, can be found here.

Now, I did state in my last post that I would be looking at Abilities next, which covers all the other capabilities of your individual characters, bar their basic attributes.

However, as people seem to be keen to give the rules a test drive, what I thought I’d do with this post was detail the basic combat Abilities, which includes weapons, armour and fighting skills AND give a brief overview of the rules themselves. That way, should you want to stat up some of your figures and have them battle each other across your tabletop, by the end of this post you should be able to.

However, bear in mind that whilst I will be detailing the system and the basic combat Abilities, all the other bells and whistles will have to wait for a future post, so ‘crunchy’ Abilities such as Leadership, Reactions and Tough, and supernatural and Ki Abilities, such as Fear, Flight and Blast will not be available…yet.

However, you should be able to replicate a skirmish between two opposing forces, or host arena combat between a group of players each controlling a single character.

Karasudo – Units

So, to start with, let’s look at what I call Units. Units are a measurement of distance, which are used to determine how far a character can move and the ranges of various missile weapons. “That’s a bit vague,” I hear you cry, “what exactly does a Unit represent?” Well, as the rules were designed with 28mm miniatures in mind, a Unit is nominally 1 Inch. So, as detailed under Attributes, an Average human with an Agility of 3 can therefore expend 1 Action during a round and move 3″. Similarly, a character armed with a matchlock, which has a range of 10, can shoot at anything within 10 inches of themselves.

However, now comes the clever part – Units don’t have to be defined as inches. If you prefer to play your games on gridded battlemaps, such as those used by the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures rules or the Heroclix rules, a Unit is 1 square. If you use HeroScape hexes to build your battlefield, then a Unit is 1 hex. And if you play in any other scale other than 28mm, then a Unit is whatever suits your scale – for example, if you play using 15mm figures, you can decide that a Unit is 15mm. As long as what a Unit represents is decided before the game begins, it can be whatever you want. Just make sure that all the players know beforehand. I like to call this ‘Universatility’ (new word – tell your friends!)

Combat Abilities

As the majority of tabletop skirmishes are fought between troops who have at least some degree of combat training, this is represented in the rules by three basic combat Abilities – Brawl, Melee and Marksmanship.

Brawl covers all forms of unarmed combat, from bar-room brawlers to highly trained Martial Artists. If you’re hitting someone with part of your own body, then you use Brawl.

Melee covers the use of a weapon designed to inflict harm in close combat. This can be a sword, spear, mace, axe, etc. If you’re hitting someone with something sharp, pointy or spiky, you use Melee.

Marksmanship covers the use of weapons designed to inflict harm at a distance, such as bows, crossbows, arquebus, shuriken, etc. If you shooting or throwing something at someone, you use Marksmanship.

All three of these combat Abilities are rated from 1 to 5, with a 1 representing minimal training and a 5 representing mastery. The shorthand recording of these abilities is the Ability followed by a +X, so a character with minimal training in unarmed combat would have ‘Brawl +1’ listed under their Abilities. Each point of combat Ability costs its value in points, so a master sniper, with Marksmanship +5, would add an additional 5 points to the overall points cost for the character.

To clarify this, let’s take our Average human from the Attributes section, give him a name and train him up a bit. So, ‘Axel’ has the Average human statline and points cost, as follows:

Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw 3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: None  (13 points)

However, if we decide that Axel is a bit handy with his fists and a pretty good swordsman, his stats and points cost now looks like this:

Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: Brawl +1, Melee +2 (16 points)

Looking a bit more capable now, isn’t he? But whilst he may have the skills, he has no protection or actual weapons, other than his fists, so let’s give him some kit…

Arms & Armour

We’ll start with armour. Armour is any kind of physical protection that is worn by the character. However, it also covers thick hide, tough skin or being made out of rocks.

Armour is defined as Light, Medium or Heavy. Light armour offers minimal protection, such as a  formed leather breastplate or a shield. Medium armour offers better protection and coverage, such as a chainmail hauberk and Heavy armour offers the best protection and coverage, such a full suit of plate mail. However, whilst all three armour types have different names, they are recorded in the same way – as Armour +X. Light armour is +1, Medium armour is +2 and Heavy armour is +3. You can specify exactly what type of armour the character is wearing for ‘colour’, but this has no actual effect on the actual rating. As with the combat Abilities above, each point of armour costs its rating in points, so an Armour rating of +3 costs an additional 3 points.

As a shield is a separate piece of equipment, it can be combined with any of the armour types above to give an additional +1, so Medium armour AND a Shield would cost 3 points, the same as Heavy armour on its own. However, as you could lose your shield during melee, it is recorded under Abilities separately, so in the above example, it would be listed as ‘Armour +2, Shield +1’.

Note that these are the basic ratings for armour, as enchanted or technologically advanced powered armour would have better ratings – and a higher cost.

So, going back to Axel, let’s give him Medium armour and a shield. He now looks like this:

Axel:      V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: Armour +2, Shield +1, Brawl +1, Melee +2 – (19 points)

Not too bad, but he still needs a weapon…

Melee weapons, similar to armour, are defined by three separate categories – Small one-handed, large one-handed or two-handed. Small one-handed weapons are such things as knives, daggers and coshes. Large one-handed weapons covers any weapon that can be used comfortably in one hand and has some reach, such as swords, axes, maces, etc. Two-handed weapons can only be used in two hands – such as spears, halberds or naginatas. Obviously, a character with a two-handed weapon cannot also use a shield. Unsurprisingly, the ratings and points costs for weapons follows the same format as that for armour – small one-handed weapons cost 1 point and are +1, large one-handed weapons cost 2 points and are +2 and two-handed weapons cost 3 points and are +3. As characters may carry more than one weapon, the actual weapon is recorded under their abilities, so a character with both a dagger and sword would have it noted as ‘Sword +2, Dagger +1’.

Going back to Axel, as he already has a shield, we can’t give him a two-handed weapon, so let’s give him an axe, as it fits in with his name. He now looks like this:

Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: Armour +2, Shield +1, Axe +2, Brawl +1, Melee +2 – (21 points)

And now Axel is ready to venture out and cleave some enemies!

As this post is already quite lengthy, I will leave detailing Missile Weapons, Line of Sight and Cover for a future post, as otherwise I won’t have time to explain the actual rules!

THE BASIC RULES

To play a game, you will require: two opposing forces of miniatures of roughly the same points cost – suitably statted up on whatever bit of paper you have to hand,  a playing surface of your choice, a measuring device of some sort and a handful of ten-sided dice.

Yes, for this game we use the humble d10, currently unloved by games designers, who seem to think that rolling multiple d6’s is the way forward. And you won’t need a bucket-load, just a couple for each player.

Set up your playing area, with whatever terrain you want. Each player then rolls 1d10, with the player with the highest roll choosing where to set up his forces first. The opposing player then sets up his forces on the opposite side of the playing area. If you are playing with more than two players, then the procedure is the same, but each player should ideally be placed an equal distance from each other player, with the highest roller placing first. For the remainder of this explanation, I will be assuming that there are only two forces in play.

Play is divided into a number of Rounds, with each Round being defined as the period it takes for every model in play to use all their Actions. A round is divided into three Phases – Initiative, Action and Recovery.

The Inititave phase simply determines who goes first, the Action phase is where all the models complete whatever Actions their player has decided they will do and the Recovery phase is where any characters that have healing or regenerative powers gain back any lost Health.

Initiative Phase

To determine which player goes first, both players roll 1d10 and add the Awareness score of the character or model designated as their ‘Leader’. Usually, this will be the character with the highest Awareness rating, but should any character have the Leadership Ability, that particular model is automatically considered that player’s ‘Leader’ and may use either the character’s Awareness or Leadership score as the modifier, whichever is highest. Whoever rolls highest goes first.

Action Phase

The player who won the Initiative then selects which of their models goes first. Each character may perform a number of Actions up to their Action score. For the majority of characters, this will be two Actions.

An Action can be anything, but the most common Actions will be moving or performing an attack of some description. So, a character could move twice, attack twice, move once and attack once or attack once and move once. The latter usually only applies to missile combat, as once you’re in melee combat, unless your attack has downed your foe, you probably want to stick around and finish them off.

Moving – A character can move up to their Agility score in Units by expending 1 Action. So, a character with an Agility of 3 could move 3 Units in whatever direction they choose. If they wish, they could use both Actions on movement and move 6 Units.

However, if a character has expended all their Actions on movement and this brings them in base-to-base contact with an opposing model, they are considered to have Charged into combat and not only get a free attack Action, but also get a +1 modifier to their attack roll for every additional move Action above the first. So, if a character with an Agility of 3 uses both their Actions on movement, which puts them in base-to-base contact with an opposing model, they may immediately launch an attack on the opposing model with a +1 modifier. Had the character’s Agility score been 5, and consequently 3 Actions, which were all used on movement, not only would they have moved a massive 15 Units across the board, they would also have launched an attack on their opponent with a +2 modifier!

Melee Attack – Once a character has moved into base-to-base contact with an opposing character they are considered to be in Melee (or Unarmed) combat and may launch an attack.

The attacking character rolls 1d10, adding their Agility score and any relevant combat Ability and this is their Attack roll.

If we use Axel above as an example, he would add his Agility of 3 and his Melee of +2, for a total of 5, to his dice roll. Axel rolls a 6, so his total Attack roll is 11. His opponent, who we’ll call Brad, has exactly the same stats as him, now rolls his Defence, which consists of 1d10 plus his Agility of 3 – Brad has no defensive Abilities, so that’s all he gets. Brad rolls a 7, for a total of 10, which means the attack gets through his defence by a single point.

We now take this +1, add Axel’s Vigour of 3 and the +2 from his axe, for a total Damage roll of 6. From this total, we deduct Brad’s Vigour of 3 (representing his ability to soak any damage) and his Armour of 3 (Armour +2 and Shield +1), meaning that the overall damage taken is…zero. Looks like Brad’s armour saved him this time!

Had Axel rolled a 10, his Attack roll would have been 15, beating Brad’s roll by 4. Adding his modifiers, this would have resulted in a Damage roll of 9. Deducting Brad’s combined Vigour and Armour of 6 would therefore have resulted in the actual damage being taken as 3 points. This would have been deducted from Brad’s Health score of 6, meaning that he was reduced to 3 Health points – half his overall Health, but still standing.

Once the player that won Initiative has completed all the Actions of their first chosen character or model, play then shifts to the other player, who then activates their chosen first model. Play then alternates between each player, until both players have activated and performed Actions for each model they have in play. Should a player have more models than their opponent in play, they would then continue with their remaining models after their opponent had finished.

Once both (or more) players have activated all their models, the Action phase is over.

Recovery Phase – During this phase, any characters that have healing Abilities would regain any lost Health points, depending on the Ability used. This will be explained in greater detail when I detail the remaining Abilities that characters can have.

After the Recovery phase, the Round is over and both players then dice for Initiative once more. Should either player have lost their designated ‘Leader’ during the Round, they would then declare which of their characters has stepped into the breach, and use this character’s Awareness (or Leadership Ability) as their Initiative modifer.


Okay, that’s a very rough and ready version of the basic rules, but should give you all a flavour of how they work and enough information to enable you to run a few test combats between heavily armed and armoured combatants in melee combat.

Once you’ve given them a go, please feel free to ask any questions or give constructive feedback, as this can only improve them.

Next time, we’ll be looking at Missile Combat, including Line of Sight and Cover, other Movements Actions, such as dealing with rough ground, obstacles and climbing, and some of the more interesting Abilities, such as Regeneration, Dominate and Snare.

The Way of the Crow

It is said that the House of Crows can only be found by those seeking wisdom. It is also said that its form matches the desires of the supplicant – for those seeking Truth and Justice, it is an Art Deco hall adorned with the Torch of Liberty, for those seeking frights and scares, a Gothic mansion framed by lightning and for those seeking the wisdom of the East…

A seemingly abandoned dojo?

The supplicant shouldered his rucksack and crunched his way up the gravel path. Easing open the sliding door, he cautiously entered. The dojo seemed less dilapidated inside, but it was hard to make out the details in the gloom.

“What do you seek?” Came a deep voice from the shadows.

“I seek to learn of the Way of the Crow…” the supplicant said nervously.

A shadowy figure stepped forward into the light…

“I am Master Crow.” Said the figure, “I see you are startled by my appearance. Were you expecting a rat in a dressing gown, perhaps? Besides, big eyebrows are a sign of wisdom – haven’t you seen ‘Kill Bill’?”

Master Crow eased himself down onto a tatami in the circle of light cast from one of the many holes in the roof.

“So, you seek to learn…The Way of Crow. What do you offer in return?”

The supplicant thrust forward a brown paper bag and a glass bottle.

“Hmm,” said Master Crow, “a sausage and egg McMuffin and a bottle of West Indies Porter? That’ll do nicely. “

A lot of the current figure manufacturers, in order for you to bankrupt yourself buying their figures, cunningly post the rules for their games for free. Whilst we all like free, once you’ve downloaded and read their rules, you realise that in order to fully utilise them, you do actually need to buy their figures, as each character comes with a pre-printed stat card that details that particular figure’s capabilities. This seems to be a current trend in wargaming and one that I’m not keen on.

Secondly, the rules themselves seem to be overly complicated for what is essentially pushing little tin men around on a table. You have reams of charts and tables, modifiers for this and that, status tokens to stack like pancakes to indicate whether your character is on fire/mind-controlled/exhausted/terrified/having a bad hair day and authors whose grasp of English seems to have been learnt via Google translate.

And because they want you to use their figures (and stat cards), there are no character creation rules, so if you wanted to use Bananaman in The Batman Miniatures Game (and who wouldn’t), you can’t. And trying to work out the system by which they derived the points cost for individual characters by analysing existing characters is an exercise in futility, as they have used some arcane formula known only to members of the Esteemed Order of Dice…

Now, having entered the hobby via AD&D 1st Edition, I am not unfamiliar with complicated rules (THAC0 anyone?), but the advantage of learning a role-playing game is that it’s a group activity and there’s always someone on hand who knows the rules better than everyone else and is happy to teach you – because role-playing tends to be co-operative, with the party all working towards the same goal.

With wargaming, it’s slightly different, as usually you have two players opposing each other and your opponent wants to win – so will use his or her superior knowledge of the rules to give you a bloody good thrashing. Unfortunately, saying “Dude, chill…it’s just a game…” is usually met with derision. I’m not saying all wargamers are like this, but should you be confronted by someone telling you that you can’t field your Napoleonic infantry because “their uniforms are not historically accurate for the time period”, I suggest you punch them. Hard. You’ll feel better and you’ll be doing the World a favour.

Anyway, enough ranting, on with the Way of The Crow…

As I was not enamoured of the various rules that I had perused, I did what I always do when I want something and either don’t have the funds or am not happy with the available options…I made my own.

Now, my home-brew rules are something that I’ve been tinkering with for a number of years, with the intention of typing them up at some point. They were originally designed with Superhero skirmish gaming in mind, so had to cover all aspects of that genre. They were also designed to reduce the number of dice you need, the over-reliance on tables and charts and to be relatively easy to pick up. As I also disliked that fact that in most miniatures games you could field a character or model that was essentially untouchable by other troops, I tried to build into the rules that any character had a chance to damage any other character. True, the chances that a peasant armed with a sling could hurt a dragon were pretty slim, but it should at least be possible.

So, over the next month or so, I will be presenting my home-brew rules in easily digestible chunks, to not only get them out of my head and down onto ‘paper’, but also to give people a chance to try them out and give me feedback. I think they’re pretty good, but I may be a little biased…

Think of it as reading through a set of annotated rules, with the designer not only explaining them, but also why they have done things in a certain way. At the end, the ‘rules’ will be gathered into a single document, which then be available to download from here as an embedded document. You will have to provide your own illustrations, though. And crayons…

The rules do not (yet) have an overall name, as each genre they have been play-tested in has been called something different – for Superheroes it was Liberty Force, for zombie gaming – Survival Instinct and for fantasy gaming – Battleaxe. As we’re currently doing Oriental Fantasy, it will go by the name of Karasudo, which very roughly translates as ‘Way of the Crow’. (NB: According to StuRat, ‘Way of the Crow’ actually translates to ‘Karasu no hoho’, but that just sounds like the crow is not amused.)

Let us begin…

Karasudo – The Attributes

All characters (and the majority of objects) are defined by the same five basic attributes – Vigour, Agility, Will, Awareness and Stealth. These attributes are rated from 0 to 10, with a zero rating meaning that particular character (or object) doesn’t have that attribute. A rating from 1 to 5 is within the realms of normal human ability and 6 to 10 is beyond normal human ability. I know I said I disliked reference tables, but I’m going to use one here to explain the ratings and their points costs:

Rating

Definition

Points Cost

0

Inapplicable

0 points

1

Weak

1 point

2

Below Average

2 points

3

Average

3 points

4

Above Average

4 points

5

Peak Human

5 points

6

Exceptional

10 points

7

Superhuman

20 points

8

Metahuman

30 points

9

Demigod-like

40 points

10

God-like

50 points

As you can see, once you go above ‘Peak Human’, the points costs increase substantially, reflecting that these characters are more capable. I probably should explain that the system utilises a single d10 for resolving ‘Tasks’, so you can understand that a character with a rating of 8 is going to have a decided advantage over one with a rating of 3.

Vigour defines how strong the character is, how resilient to damage they are and how much damage they can deal in combat. It also gives a rough indication of how big the character is. All characters and all physical objects will have a Vigour rating, unless they have no tangible form, such as a ghost. Vigour is also used to derive the secondary attribute of Health, which is how many points of damage the character can take before they are rendered unconscious and/or dead. Health is equal to double the character’s Vigour rating. An Average human would therefore have a Vigour of 3 and a Health of 6.

Agility defines how quick the character is, how far is can move in a single Action and is used in combat as the base for the character’s attack and defence rolls. Agility is also used to generate the secondary attribute of Actions, which is how many ‘things’ the character can do in a single Round. The number of Actions a character has is equal to half their Agility rating rounded up. An Average human would therefore have an Agility of 3 and 2 Actions per Round.

Will defines the character’s mental strength and fortitude and is used for resisting mental abilities and attacks, such as Dominate or Fear. Will is also used to generate the secondary attribute of Spirit, or as we are doing Oriental Fantasy, we shall refer to it as Ki. This secondary attribute is a limited resource used when casting spells or activating Ki powers – when you’ve used up your Ki, the character is mentally exhausted and can no longer gather the necessary concentration, so strategic use of your Ki points is recommended. The character’s Ki is equal to double their Will rating. An Average human would therefore have a Will of 3 and 6 Ki points.

Awareness defines how aware of their surroundings the character is and their mental agility, and is used when rolling Initiative, detecting concealed objects and characters and for working out puzzles or other tests of mental acuity. An Average human would therefore have an Awareness rating of 3.

Finally, Stealth. This defines, unsurprisingly, how good the character is at sneaking about unnoticed and concealing themselves or objects from other characters. Unlike the other Attributes, this is more like a skill than an actual Attribute, but as surprise and sneak attacks are part and parcel of skirmish wargaming, it’s part of the basic statline for every character, although it is rated lower. An Average human would therefore have a Stealth rating of 1, representing the fact that everyone has the ability to tip-toe about.

So, to bring it all together, an Average human would have the following shorthand statline and points cost:

Average Human – V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 – H6 #2 K6 – 13 points

This represents an Average human with no training, armour, weapons or special abilities of any kind, so basically an Estate Agent. Or to stay more genre-specific, a peasant or villager.

In contrast, the basic statline and points cost for an Oni (Japanese ogre), without any weaponry, armour, skills or supernatural abilities would be:

Oni –                              V8 A3 W4 Aw3 S1 – H16 #2 K8 – 41 points

So, an Oni is equivalent (points-wise) to three Average humans in a bare-knuckle fight. However, unless you’re playing a tabletop version of Fight Club, every character will have at least some fighting ability or equipment. These and all other options, be that highly ornate lacquered armour, three-section staffs, the ability to summon the elements or a ‘hundred-hand slap’, fall under the catch-all term of ‘Abilities’, which we will be looking at next time.

Comments, feedback and malty ales both welcome and appreciated.

 

BUDGETO!

Hodo Tanaka strode forth into the mist-shrouded bamboo grove, katana gripped firmly in his hand, his brow furrowed in concentration. Furtive movements in the undergrowth signalled that the thrice-cursed dogs of Clan Chouda were skulking – dishonourably – amongst the greenery…

The mist parted and revealed Toshiburo Chouda, his lacquered armour glinting with moisture and his face set in a perpetual sneer. “So, Tanaka, you have come to defend the honour of your clan” he spat, “such a shame that the purse-strings of your clan are so tight, for as you can see…I have brought some of my friends.” 

The mists disgorged many forms – ashigaru armed with yari, yuma and tanegashima, shaven-headed monks, shugenja and the lumbering form of a red-skinned Oni. Tanaka swallowed nervously….

If only he’d taken advantage of the the special offers at Salute, he would now not be so seriously outnumbered…”

The problem with a lot of modern miniatures games is that not only do you have to purchase the rules, but the companies that publish the rules also produce the “official” miniatures, which usually come with a full-colour stat card, detailing that particular figure’s abilities within the game. And these are usually quite expensive.

Not such a problem if you have a healthy gaming budget, but for a lot of us (myself included), we can only enviously look on at the beautiful miniatures and wish for winning numbers on the lottery.

However, with a little bit of lateral and out-of-the-box thinking, you can still play the game, if you’re prepared to be a little…inventive.

As from now until the end of July, the Buffet will have a distinctive Oriental flavour, the game I will be looking at in this post is Bushido, from GCT Studios. The reason I’ve selected this particular game is that Andy, over at the da Gobbo’s Grotto, has been waxing lyrical about the game and has graced us with lots of wonderful eye-candy, scratch-built scenery and some batreps, which has made a lot of people sit up and take notice.

Now, should you wish to ‘invest’ in this game, a copy of the rules will set you back £24.95 and a faction starter set, containing 5 miniatures, has a recommended retail price of £29.95. So, your basic outlay is £54.90. Additional faction specific ‘characters’ retail at £7.95 each

As regular followers of my blog will know, as my gaming budget is quite small, I like to find alternative options, so what if I tell you that you can have a copy of the official rules, the necessary official faction cards and a reasonably sized ‘faction’ for less than £25.00? Intrigued? Read on…

Okay, first things first – the rules. If you go to the GCT Studios website and click on the ‘Bushido’ option on the top banner, on the far right you will see a menu entitled ‘Downloads’. The first item listed is ‘Bushido Rules’ – click on this and it will bring up this page. The first available download is the official Bushido rules – for free! Boom, just saved you £25.00…

At the bottom of the same menu is an option entitled ‘English Cards that can be downloaded from our Store.’ Following this link takes you to the GCT Studios Store, but doesn’t really give you any indication as to what you do next…

It’s very simple – click on the particular character whose card you want, then click on the small image of the card below the picture of the model. This will pop up in a separate window. Now simply copy this image and paste it into the word processing application of your choice, then save and print as many copies as you want. Here’s one I prepared earlier…

There, you’ve now got the rules and whatever cards you want for a grand total of…nothing! Now, that’s what I call a bargain.

“But Jez…” I hear you cry, “It’s a miniatures game. We may have the rules and the cards, but we can’t play unless we have some figures…” And you would be correct, so now it’s time to get a little inventive.

Unless you’re playing in an officially sanctioned Bushido tournament, who says you have to use the official miniatures? That’s right – no-one. As long as your opponent is happy for you to use a ‘proxy’ figure in place of an official figure, utilising the same stat card and playing under the same rules, you can use whatever you want. However, it’s probably best to stick to 28mm Japanese figures, although a game of Bushido using just ‘My Little Pony’ figures would be pretty amusing…

Okay, so the last part of this post is to point you in the direction of inexpensive Oriental figures, all of which are definitely less than £7.95 each.

First up is the small range of Oriental Blades figures from Moonraker Miniatures. Whilst there are only 10 figures in this range, we have armoured and unarmoured samurai, ronin and shugenja and it does included two female figures. Each figure is £1.50 each and oozes character, as you can see below.

Next we have Black Hat Miniatures, who have two ranges of interest – the 25mm Samurai range and the 28mm Tales of the Dragon Kings range. Do not be fooled by the listed scales, as they are both roughly the same size.

The 25mm Samurai range has 14 packs, covering ninja, peasants with bamboo spears, unarmoured samurai with a variety of weapons and ronin in piecemeal armour, also variously armed. The ronin would make good bandits. Now the sculpting has been described as slightly ‘cartoony’, but looking at the pictures, I think this just adds character. Best of all, each pack is £3.00, for which you get 3 figures – that’s right, they’re a pound a figure! Even if you only use one of the figures from the pack, you’ve still saved yourself £4.00 in comparison to buying an official miniature. Here’s a picture of one of the Ronin packs, with a particularly characterful bunch.

Sam09 Ronin with Katana

Next up is the 28mm Tales of the Dragon Kings range. Now, this is primarily influenced by Chinese myth and legend, but does have a few specific Japanese creatures, such as the Oni below, who retails at £7.00.

DK020 - Japanese Ogre

The figures can be bought as packs of 4 for £9.00, such as this pack – Chinese Heroes III, which works out as £2.25 a figure:

Or about 60% of the range can be bought as individual miniatures, at £2.50 each, such as this one – Chinese Wizard 5:

Whilst not strictly Japanese, they’re Oriental enough that with some careful figure selection and an appropriate paint-job, who will know?

For really cheap, we turn to Heroclix, which has a surprisingly number of useful figures. You might be thinking “Ah, yes…Silver Samurai…um…that’s all I got…”

Well, we also have DC Heroclix Flash #010 – Samuroid:

DC Heroclix Flash #010 Samuroid

Currently retailing at 29p on Blue Rat Games. Yes, you read that right…29p. We also have, from left to right; Indy Heroclix Tomoe #005 (29p), Indy Heroclix Arashi #031 (29p), Marvel Heroclix Xplosion #019 – Typhoid Mary (49p) and DC Heroclix Justice League Trinity War #004 – Katana (49p).

Indy Heroclix Tomoe #005Indy Heroclix Arashi #031Marvel Heroclix Xplosion Typhoid Mary 019DC Heroclix Justice League Trinity War #004 Katana

And that’s just a brief selection – not taking into account Hand ninja’s, Psylocke, Elektra or Gorgon. Browse with an open mind and who knows what you’ll discover.

Finally, we shall be looking at one of the older manufacturers of Samurai figures – Dixon Miniatures. This company has been around since 1976 and has quite a comprehensive range of samurai, warrior monks, ninja, Oriental goblins, Oni, Dai-Oni and Naga. And whilst their catalogue is a little archaic and their figures are quite ‘stocky’, you can’t argue with the prices. This Sumo Wrestler retails for £1.30.

Whilst this Dai-Oni is £2.25.

So, hopefully this post has opened your eyes to being able to play Bushido without breaking the bank, or as I like to call it, ‘Budgeto! (pronounced ‘Bud-Gee -To‘), hence the post’s title.

That’s all for now – join me next time, when we’ll either be back in the Super Chibification Workshop, attempting to reduce the stack of Oriental figures I still have to paint or looking at the highly mysterious…Way of the Crow.