Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Land Ho!

Here are those pictures I promised...

"A Great Black Ark of Naggaroth waits in ambush for the Imperial fleet."

"A Bretonnian patrol along the coast of Sartosa and Pirate's Cove."

It's been very slow at work for me lately so I've had a little time to catch up on some scenery projects that have been gathering dust for a year or so. The top picture shows some Chaos scenery that I've had for a long time that has been used in many, many games. It is stored in a plastic tub and has taken a fair amount of abuse over the years. With my Man O War O Rama coming up in just over a week, I needed to spruce up this scenery and get it up to par with the rest of the stuff I'm using.

Luckily, this was very easy to do. Black spray paint to touch up the worn corners, a little white latex paint for the highlights, re-glue some of the lichen and VOILA! - it looks like new again.

This is the same photo as above - before I Photoshopped it.

The lower photo shows some brand new scenery that I've added to the mix. I uses to have a piece of scenery that had a sheltered cove in it similar to this one, but it was very thin and flimsy and the two "arms" that made the cove broke off and I eventually tossed the whole thing. This scenery was made with 4" thick solid Styrofoam and it is very strong.

The process is very simple, but a bit time consuming. I start by carving the foam into the basic island shape with a hot knife. I've never had good luck with the electric wire type so I have an old wood handled long bread knife that I just lay on the stove burner or the BBQ grill to get hot and carve a bit at a time until the knife starts to cool.

The contours and cuts make this island appear to be very real.

After the basic shape is cut-out, I use the knife to make contours, depressions, hills, valleys, cuts and other shapes to make it look like real land. For cliff areas, I'll cut in a near vertical line so they can be very steep and convey the right look. After all the carving is done, you get various types of glue - such as contact cement or model airplane glue, and brush them on to eat away at the Styrofoam and create irregular patterns. I do this on the cliff faces mostly as I want some really random rock formations. Once that is done, use a diluted mix of white glue and spray the whole thing to provide a protective coat so the spray paint won't eat through the Styrofoam as you try and paint it. (You can also you a neutral color latex house paint, but that takes longer and it hard to get into all the nooks and crannies). Let the whole thing dry for a few days before you start painting.

Painting is the easy part. Pick the darkest color overall and coat the whole thing. Once that dries, add other layers in specific areas to give different effects. New layers should be lighter in color and should be "dry brushed" on to let the previous layers show through. For my cliffs, I'll spray paint black into all the holes created by the glue, then dry brush the base color and all successive colors on top of that.

Most of all, EXPERIMENT! I had some 'textured' paint in a gallon can that we didn't use in a house project and I ended up using it as one of the upper layers. It looks great and added additional texture (from the sand granules in the paint) to the overall look that looks fantastic.

You'll then need some Model Railroad scenery items. I use "Talus" and Bird cage gravel to simulate large rocks and smaller boulders. You'll want various colors of lichen (for trees) and a bunch of colors and sizes of ground foam to cover the terrain.

This part goes fast. Pick the spots to place the largest pieces of Talus and use drops of white glue to sit them in. Don't worry about being neat. User finer Talus (it comes in several sizes) around it to show boulders - just drop these over the large pieces of Talus you placed. Don't worry about the glue just yet. Finally grab a pinch of the bird cage gravel (or fine playground sand) around/over this whole area and then do the next one.

To secure everything, you'll need two sprayer bottles - one with a 50/50 mix of water and white glue and the other with plain water. Spray a light mist of water first to just make everything damp - you are only trying to make it slightly wet so the next step flows everywhere. Next, spray the diluted glue over all the "rock" that is lying there, making sure it has soaked all around it. All the water evaporates and the glue remains to lock it all in place.

Use this same process to do all the ground foam. DON'T BE NEAT! Just use pinches of ground foam over the wet/glue areas and mix and match the colors however you want. Spray the whole thing again with the diluted glue and then add clumps of lichen in drops of full strength glue to finish it off.

A better view of my Chaos scenery - with weird steam vents (seashells mounted on Styrofoam and painted).

This is a great way to make lots of EASY, nice looking scenery.

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Man O War O Rama - ConQuest SF 2007

In just two short weeks, it's time for another fun-filled 3 full days of gaming for me. ConQuest SF will be August 31st through September 3rd at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel. I plan to be there from Friday around 12 noon through Sunday evening.

As usual, I'll be running a game - and as usual for ConQuest, it will be Man O War. I'm trying something different this year. Usually I create a special scenario for 6-8 players that runs from 6-9 hours and seldom gets finished - even with me speeding things along as the Game Master, but this year will mark the first ever Man O War O Rama!

What the heck is a Man O War O Rama you say? Well, I had a few specific goals in mind this year:

1. I wanted there to be more than 1 game.
2. I wanted the games to be 2 player.
3. I wanted the games to be fast.
4. I wanted to give the players the option to continue playing if they won.

So I decided to run 3 tables at once. Each table will have it's own scenery and will feature small fleets of up to 1000 points for each player. Games of this size should take 2-3 hours tops and some of the smaller games will be only around 500 points a side which should make them even faster.

Players will be given a similar sized random fleets (for balance) and turned loose at one of the 3 tables. I'm still working on the details, but so far I'm thinking it will work like this:

Points will be awarded by Battle Honors and you'll get the points you earned even if you lose. There will also be extra points for winning. If you win your game, you will have a good chance to stay at the table to take on the next player. A die roll will determine if you stay or go - players will roll a d20 and add in the Battle Honors they earned with the high roll staying at the table. If you are forced to sit out as a winner, you will be put into the rotation for the next available table and receive a few bonus points for having to wait.

This will continue for 8 or so hours at which time the person with the most points will be the winner and declared the "Best Admiral on the Sea of Claws". I'm hoping to be able to provide some sort of prize for the winner. Being this starts on Friday afternoon at 3pm and runs until 11pm, I'll have all day Saturday and Sunday to play whatever I want.

With all that in mind, I've been busy making some new scenery for one of the tables as well as touching up some of my older scenery as well. Making scenery is very therapeutic - it's been so long since I last did it, I forgot how enjoyable it can be. I'll add some pictures tomorrow of the work so far so you can get some idea of what the game is all about.

Until then...