Showing posts with label steampunk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steampunk. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 February 2017

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

I tried a variant of the 'Release The Kraken' scenario for 'Galleys and Galleons' the other day, with the attackers having to deal with a moving target before the creature appears.

So, a steam-warship heads across the ocean, bound for home.

But danger lurks in the form of the notorious Captain Nemo in the Nautilus.

The ship cruises on unaware, until a lookout spots something below the surface off the starboard bow.

The Nautilus surfaces and fires, and its first shot rips a massive hole below the warship's waterline, crippling it.

The ship is finished off with a ram. It sinks in minutes, with all hands lost.

The action has disturbed a creature from the deep, however - a giant octopus. It immediatle grapples the Nautilus in its powerful tentacles.

Nemo charges his ship's hull with electricity, and injures the massive mollusc, but not before it damages his submersible. He pulls away and attempts to escape.

But the octopus swiftly pursues, and grabs the ship again.

This time there is no escape - Nemo and his ship are dragged to the depths of the ocean, never to be seen again.

The stats for the vessels are as follows:

Nautilus - Q3 C3 - 94pts - Steam Engine, Ramming, Submersible, Reinforced Hull, Chasers, Razee, Marksmen, Unarmed

Warship - Q4 C2 - 23pts - Steam Engine, Bow Chaser

Octopus - Q4 C4 - 72pts - Submersible, Creature, Swashbucklers, Intimidating

The Warship is the equivalent of the Bastion in the original scenario. It starts in one corner heading directly for the opposite corner with its initial speed set at S. May not roll for activations until Nautilus fires on, rams or grapples it, or ends its turn on the surface within L or submerged within M. Until then, the Warship gets one free activation per turn, which can be used to make the minimum course or speed changes necessary to avoid terrain.

The Octopus appears as per rules for damaging the fort in the ‘Release The Kraken’ scenario.

Victory conditions are the same as the original scenario.

The models are from a mix of sources. The Warship is the USS Harriet Lane from my Navwar ACW collection. The Nautilus is a Thales class corvette from Dystopian Wars - I picked up a pack of these for $5 at Cancon. And the Octopus is a 3D print from this collection.

Here's some pictures and details of a similar scenario which I played ten years ago, using a different set of rules. And a Lego Nautilus.

Monday, 29 June 2015


Several years ago I built a steampunk robot out of Lego. I do that kind of thing sometimes. Since I have been pondering the superhero roleplaying game 'Supercrew' over the past couple of days I thought that it would be an interesting exercise to write him up.

To be honest I haven't thought of a fully fleshed-out background for him (it seems to be a 'him'). The Supercrew games I ran a few years ago were set in an idealised, comic-book Victorian London, this this construct would fit right in there, as a member of The Impossible Club (the organisation which drew the characters together). I see him as a kind of Victorian version of Data from Star Trek; of unknown origin, discovered, reconstrcted and reactivated. An intelligent self-aware mechanical device trying to live in the world of humans and maybe become more like them.

He was originally designated the Steam-Powered Ambulatory Difference-Engine, but 'Babbage' seems a good name for everyday use.

I envisage him as a vast store of knowledge encased in robust humanoid mechanical frame. Powered by a small but efficient steam-engine he also generates and uses electrostatic energy to run his cognitive functions (because the term 'electrostatic cognition' is one I feel has to be used from time to time).

Here he is in Supercrew terms

Steam-powered Ambulatory Difference-Engine

1 - Repository of Knowledge
2 - Robust Mechanical Body
3 - Steam-Power

[ ] Reroll - Efficient Indexing (Repository of Knowledge)
[ ] Effect 2 – Steam Jets! (Steam-Power)
[ ] Change One Die To 5 – Built to Last (Robust Mechanical Body)
[ ] Anecdote Bonus

Hero Points: 0

Toughness: 3

The Repository of Knowledge ability represents Babbage's ability to access data on just about anything he has read (which is a lot). The Robust Mechanical Body means that he is resistant to damage, but it can be assumed that he's pretty strong as well. Steam-Power is the least-used ability, and I would see it as using the body's power-source in creative ways. 

Now all I have to do is encourage my daughter to run a game. Or break out the Mythic GM Emulator and do my own.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Aeronef - Did It Happen?

If there's no photos, it didn't happen.

Guess who left his camera at home, and his phone plugged into the computer last night? That's right - me. Which is why you're just going to hear that three of us played Aeronef, without any pictorial evidence that such an event took place.

We played the 'Scramble' scenario from the rules. It was slightly less one-sided than last time, but still heavily biased in favour of the French; it's still far to easy for them to bomb the three targets before the British can stop them. One of the big French bombers was very badly shot to pieces (there was no way it would be getting home), and another was wandering along the English coastline looking lost after delivering its on-target bomb-load. Otherwise the French came out of the attack OK. The British lost a couple of gunboats, had their larger destroyers shot up quite badly and lost the war. That's my story, anyway.

In lieu of Aeronef pictures, here's one of a cat:

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

'Sakura Taisen' in HOTT

This list was originally written for The stronghold by Kent McClure. I have applied my usual deft editorial hand.

'Sakura Taisen' takes place on a steam dominated Earth in the early 1920's. World War 1 never happened. Instead, there was the Great Demon War, in which mankind emerged victorious. But the demons did not go completely away and the humans knew it was only a matter of time before they return. To prepare for that eventuality, a special unit of steam-powered mechas (called ubas or spirit-armor) was formed and based in Tokyo. (In fact, they are specifically tasked to defend Tokyo above all else.) This unit is the elite Imperial Floral Assault Unit. The ubas are crewed/directed by the spirit energy of their pilots, and, apparently, this sprirt energy is strongest in young women. Currently, there are only 7 ubas in existence - each uniquely coloured - and all but the commander's is crewed by women. Now on to the list.

Stronghold: The Imperial Theatre (Okay, at least the front of the theatre. And yes, that is their HQ in the show)
1 Knight General @ 2AP Ichiro Ohgami's Uba (white)
6 Knights @ 2AP Ubas piloted by Sakura Shinguji (pink) Maria Tachibana (black or very dark blue) Sumire Kanzaki (bluish purple) Iris Chateaubriand (golden yellow) Ri Kohren (green) and Kanna Kirishima (red)
1 Airboat @ 3AP The armored airship Shogei Maru
3 Shooters @ 2AP Regular Japanese infantry (1920's style uniforms)
Options: The Aerial Battleship Mikasa (Airboat @ 3AP), the armored Bullet Train Goraigo (Behemoth @ 4AP), very large steam powered cannon (Artillery @ 3AP), additional Japanese infantry (Shooters @ 2AP), Japanese infantry in steam powered trucks (Riders @ 2AP).

Note: The ubas should be based 1 figure per base.

Figure availability: The easiest figures are the Japanese infantry. Use figures from the Boxer Rebellion period or the Russo-Japanese War. The trucks could be WW1 vintage trucks converted to steam power by just adding tall exhaust stacks. The aerial battleship, armored airship, armored Bullet Train, and the steam cannon could be scratchbuilt, although some gashapon ranges may provide suitable proxies.

Finally, the ubas themselves. Small, hard plastic ones are available on the ends of keychains in anime shops, so that would be the first place to look. Otherwise they would also have to be sctachbuilt. At a small scale - 15mm or less, this should not present too much of a problem, as the suits are fairly crude and clunky.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 4

The Class 3 ships are now finished and undercoated (along with the two Helikopteronic Flyers):

(A quick iPhone picture I'm afraid).

With hindsight I really made the aeronefs too wide - both British and French. They look quite chunky. I'm not remodelling them now, though. I like how the turrets turned out, though. I still need to add some masts as well.

Not sure when I'll get chance to start painting them; I have a hectic work/parenting load this week, with my first game of Maurice on Thursday as one of the few highlights.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 3a

A bonus picture - whilst I was waiting for the tea to cook, and listening to Led Zeppelin III, I put these little beauties together from various scraps of card. They're helikopteronic flyers, and you can find the rules for them HERE.

One will be gun-armed, whilst the other has forward-mounted aerial torpedo tubes. I reckon that they're probably the beginnings of an Anarchist aerial fleet.

Aeronef Shipyard - 3

I finally completed the painting on my French Class 4 and 5 vessels.

And you can also see that I've laid down the hulls for some Class 3 aeronefs; British at the top, French at the bottom:

I have also started sketching out some rough designs for the Class 2 vessels as well:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 2

I've finished painting the ten British aeronefs I built the other day.

Here they are with just their undercoat - French and British.

And the finished British. If I'd really been on the ball (read that as 'not lazy') I could have scored planking onto the decks, and run a brown wash into them so they aren't so ... vivid. But as a quick job they work OK.

I am now working out a colour scheme for the equivalent French ships.

Obviously in actual play the ships will be mounted on flight-stands of some kind. I may also add a small mast and a flag to each ship.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Aeronef Shipyard - 1

OK, so I was so taken by my first game of Aeronef on Thursday, that I decided to download the rules, and the Captain's Handbook. And, of course, to acquire some fleets of my own. Since I'm a cheapskate (well, 'on a budget' is a more accurate term) I decided to scratch-build. Given the nature of the vessels this didn't seem too difficult a proposition - certainly not if I just wanted a basic force of ships to try out the rules with.

The ships I used on Thursday, which were from Geoff's collection, were mostly based on hulls from the old 'Sky Galleons Of Mars' game (including sailing vessels, which really need some rules in Aeronef). These seem slightly smaller than the 1/1200th scale of the 'official' Aeronef models from Brigade games. However since Geoff's ships will probably be the club standard for now, I decided to base my own ships on them. I'm not sure that any slight incompatibilities of scale will be too much of an issue anyway.

I have decided to base my builds around relatively fixed lengths for each class, although design variations will affect these. So, the basic lengths are:

Class 5 - 25mm
Class 4 - 35mm
Class 3 - 50mm
Class 2 - 60mm
Class 1 - 75mm

We'll see how they work over time.

Like my scratch-built starships I went for a layered card constriction. I start with a basic hull shape, then glue smaller pieces of mounting board and thin card on it until I get something that looks right. the end result is probably flatter than it should be - more like a 3D counter, perhaps - but it does the job.

I decided to build two forces. A British force seemed obvious (well, to me) and, since Geoff is well stocked with dirigibles to use as Germans, I thought I would make more aeronef and paint them as French vessels.

I started small - Class 4 and 5 vessels. Specifically, for each side, six Class 5 gunboats and for Class 4 frigates. Enough for a decent game, in fact, and enough to support the larger ships when (or if) I get around to making them.

Here they are under construction:

In fact the Class 5 vessels are pretty much complete. The brown patches are the thinner card, and the guns are snipped sections of florist's wire. In the foreground can be seen the marked out hulls of the Class 4 vessels. The biro casings are scheduled for conversion into dirigible bombers; the ink tubes from each provide funnels for the aeronefs.

I keep the small card off-cuts, as they make useful fins and trim for the ships.

A closeup of the gunboats. The British are on the left, whilst the sleeker, faster French ones are on the right:

You can see how I've used card off-cuts as the rudders on the French vessels.

And here are the assembled Class 4 and 5 aeronefs: the French in the foreground and the British behind them:

The next stage is undercoating and painting, so I now need to research some possible colour schemes

Friday, 17 August 2012

First Game Of Aeronef

Just Geoff and I turned out for a game this Thursday. Geoff had promised Aeronef, and Aeronef he delivered. Produced by Wessex Games it's a game of Victorian sci-fi aerial combat, with giant anti-gravity warships and dirigibles battling it out over the world's skies.

Geoff has a great little collection of vessels for the game, mostly made up of the models from GDW's 'Sky Galleons of Mars', as well as dirigibles made from plastic aircraft kit drop-tanks and bombs. It turns out that although he's had the models for years, and the game for nearly as long, he'd never actually played it before, so it was a bit of a learning experience for both of us. Fortunately Aeronef is an easy game to learn, and we picked it up quickly.

We used some optional damage allocation rules. In the original game damage to systems such as guns and speed is strictly proportional to hull damage. With the system we used a card is drawn for each point of hull damage, and reductions applied to systems according to what is drawn. This makes the process a little more unpredictable.

Anyway, we played two of the scenarios from the basic rules.

In the first Geoff took a British gunboat patrol attempting to stop a force of German dirigibles from travelling the length of the table.

Here are the dastardly Hun:

The British intercept, putting themselves well and truly in the way:

Lots of fighting, but the British firepower wasn't enough to take down all of the German vessels:

Actually part of the problem was that we played the optional damage rules we were using incorrectly, and the Germans probably lasted longer than they should have done.

The second scenario saw a British squadron scrambling to prevent French vessels from bombing a series of shore installations. The French were played by dirigibles (although most of their ships weren't).

Here's the peaceful shoreline of Old Blighty. The British are assembled in the bottom corner:

Here come the French! The British have scrambled to intercept them:

Two lines of gunboats fight it out. The smaller French vessels suffered badly:

A French bomber moves in on its target. This was happening all along the coast - the scenario seems unbalanced in that it doesn't seem possible for the British to take off and get into a position where they can inflict enough damage to stop the French before the French reach their targets and unload their bombs:

Despite the imbalance of the second scenario (for which we came up with a couple of solutions), we had a great couple of games. Thank you to Geoff for organising everything.

I have to say I really enjoyed Aeronef, and will probably buy it fairly soon, as assembling forces for it looks relatively straightforward.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Northern Lights - A Campaign Setting For HOTT

I was a fan of Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy within a few moments of reading the first pages of the first book. Needless to say that I was taken with its possibilities as a source of inspiration for HOTT armies and games.

The trilogy consists of 'Northern Lights', 'The Subtle Knife' and 'The Amber Spyglass'. The first book is called 'The Golden Compass' in the US for some reason.

I originally had the idea of coming up with two lists that represented the two, roughly opposing, forces in the first book (the Gyptian rescue party and the General Oblation Board), but felt that it didn't do the world in which the story is set full justice. There are no large battles in the first book, but enough small actions and mention of things in a wider context to come up with a set of simple lists for the major factions that are involved in the story. I felt that the lists are best presented in the context of a campaign.


First, some background. The trilogy essentially covers the story of a girl named Lyra, and her involvement in the schemes of her uncle, Lord Asriel and the mysterious Mrs Coulter. These schemes are involved initially with a strange elementary particle called Dust. As the story unfolds many other characters are drawn in, and the schemes have wider implications, but that is the tale in a nutshell. The trilogy covers an number of 'worlds', most essentially alternate Earths, but the first book, which we are concerned with here, is set entirely in Lyra's world.

Lyra's world is similar to our own in some ways, but radically different in others. The story appears to be set in the late 20th century, but the technology and culture of the world is closer to late 19th/early 20th century. In Europe, and possibly elsewhere, the church rules supreme, in the form of the Magisterium. The story mentions that the Papacy was abolished after Pope John Calvin moved its seat from Rome to Geneva, and the Magisterium set up to replace it. The church controls many things through a complex series of courts, boards and other organisations. Science is conducted in the form of 'experimental theology'.

The most important feature of Lyra's world is the presence of daemons. Every person is accompanied throughout their life by a daemon, which takes the form of some kind of animal. Those of children can switch forms at will, but as they grow older this happens less and less, and at puberty the daemon fixes into a single form for the rest of the person's life. This form tends to reflect the personality and nature of the person. A daemon cannot move more than a few yards away from its human without both of them experiencing pain, distress and, if prolonged or over a long distance, death. Daemons have their own name and can talk, mainly to their own human, sometimes to other daemons and rarely to other humans. They are nearly always the opposite sex to their human. The relationship between human and daemon is central to the book, and is complex, but it is best thought of as an external 'soul'. From a HOTT point of view, all human figures should be accompanied by a suitable daemon.

On to the lists. For a simple five player campaign, four lists suggest themselves, based on the political relationships described and hinted at in the story. These are the Magisterium, the Tartars, the Witches and the Panserbjorne. The campaign will be set in Scandinavia, mainly in the far North

Magisterium Expeditionary Force

Stronghold: A camp or local town
1 x Airboat general @ 3AP (Command zeppelin)
1 x Airboat @ 3AP (Zeppelin)
1 x Artillery @ 3AP (Cannon or fire thrower)
1 x Sneaker @ 3AP (Agent of the church, or absolved assassin) 
6 x Shooters @ 2AP (Soldiers with rifles)

This list represents a conjectural force assembled by the Magisterium to exert its power forcefully. Zeppelins feature in all three books in a military capacity, and use hydrogen as a lifting agent. They are armed with machine guns and can unload ground troops.

Cannon can be assumed similar to late 19th century artillery (breech loading); they are mentioned in the story but do not appear. Fire throwers are mentioned as a weapon, but only the Panserbjorne (see below) are shown using one in the book. Theirs appears to be a sophisticated catapult hurling a flammable sulphur mixture.

The Magisterium is quite capable of using devious means to achieve its aim, hence the inclusion of an agent as a sneaker. 'The Amber Spyglass' also introduces the idea of assassins who have undergone pre-emptive absolution. This means that they are able to commit appalling sins, safe in the knowledge that they have already been absolved, and makes them ruthless fanatics.

In 'Northern Lights', the only troops the Magistrium use are Tartar mercenaries. Since these are armed with rifles and machine guns the same is assumed for any other soldiers likely to appear. However, the Swiss Guard who appear in 'The Amber Spyglass' have repeating crossbows. The only uniform colour given is for the elite Muscovite Imperial Guard, and it is blue. No actual description of uniforms is given, but suitable late 19th/early 20th century figures can be assumed.


Stronghold: A tented camp
1 x Shooter general @ 2AP (Tartar khan and bodyguard)
1 x Blade @ 2AP (Champion) 
1 x Airboat @ 3AP (Zeppelin) 
1 x Artillery @ 3AP (Cannon or fire thrower)
7 x Shooters @ 2AP (Soldiers with rifles)

The Tartars appear throughout the first book as the main political enemy of Europe. There is mention of their ongoing invasion of Muscovy, as well as their having intentions in Kamchatka, and a number of characters in the story have fought against them at some time or another.

Most of the notes on equipment and classification for the Magisterium applies here. The gyptian John Faa talks of slaying a Tartar champion on the Khazakh plains, so one is included here for variety.

Tartars appear to be roughly equivalent to Mongols or Chinese, so rifle armed Manchu infantry would appear to be the best bet. The company of Tartars employed by the General Oblation Board all had wolf daemons.


Stronghold: A cave in a pine forest
1 x Flyer general @ 2AP (Witch queen) 
11 x Flyers @ 2AP (Witches) 

The witches of the far North are all women. Extremely long lived (several hundred years is the norm), the form clans throughout the wilderness, and interact little with other humans, being more in tune with nature. Rival clans are know to fight each other. Witches have the ability to separate from their daemons over a long time and distance, so not all witches need be depicted with one. Because of their nature, their daemons all appear to be birds of some kind.

Witches use magic, but not of the offensive battlefield kind, so do not justify any magicians. It would not be outside the bounds of possibility to classify a particularly powerful witch queen as a aerial hero, however. Given that the proposed campaign included two witch clans, one could be given an aerial hero general, and the other an ordinary flyer general.

They appear as beautiful, slender women wearing nothing but a few wisps of black silk, and riding through the air on pine branches and fight with bow and knife. The witch queen, Serafina Pekkala, wears a circlet of small red flowers as a crown. This army is a job for figure converters.


Stronghold: An ice fort
1 x Behemoth general @ 4AP (Bear king) 
1 x Behemoth @ 4AP (Powerful armoured bears)
6 x Beasts @ 2AP (Other armoured bears) 
1 x Artillery @ 3AP (Fire thrower) 
1 x Lurker @ 1AP (Bears in ambush)

The Panserbjorne, or armoured bears, live in the far north at Svalbard (on Spitsbergen). They are intelligent polar bears who make and wear mighty suits of plate armour, and have a fearsome reputation in combat.

This is one of those armies that is best depicted as having six behemoths. The bears are big; Iorek Byrnison is ten feet tall standing on his hind legs, and the bear-king, Ioufur Raknison, is described as being bigger than he, and their armour makes them more imposing still. However, such an army is not legal, so I have resorted to beasts for the rank and file. As mounted troops are not present in any of the other armies, this classification should work OK, making the bears fast, capable in bad going, and capable of overpowering human shooters if they can get close enough.

Another possibility is Blades, but this would make them far too vulnerable to aerial attack in bad going.

The bears that aid Lyra use a fire-thrower to oppose Mrs Coulter's zeppelin, and fire throwers are mentioned as part of the defences of Svalbard.

The lurker is included purely to offset the artillery, and has no justification in the book. Depict it as a bear erupting from a snowbank, or grade it as a water lurker and allow it to appear in patches of ice floes.

For figures use bears, the bigger the better. Armour would have to be scratchbuilt, as would the fire-thrower (a description of this is given in the book).

The Campaign

The campaign assumes that both the Magisterium and the Tartars are seeking to extend their control into the Northlands. This brings them into conflict with the witches and Panserbjorne, as well as each other.

Use the a standard five player campaign map. Clockwise, from the owner of the central province, the factions are:

Eastern witches, Tartars, Magisterium, Western Witches, Panserbjorne

In order to fix the factions geographically, I suggest the following:

The Tartars control an area roughly equivalent to Northern Russian and some of Finland.
The Magisterium occupies southern Sweden and Norway.
The two witch clans should divide the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland between them.
The Panserbjorne occupy the islands of Spitsbergen.

All routes to the Panserbjorne territories should be sea routes. Other sea routes may exist depending on how the factions are allotted into the geography.

Even these lists cannot do full justice to even the first book, and only touch on the scope of the other two books. The entire trilogy is recommended reading.
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