Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Save the Princess; Barsoomian style & En Garde adaptations for Barsoom

Last night we played a great little game of Barsoomian En Garde! The scenario started as a simple raid on an ancient temple of Issus full of Green Martian Tharks with a hostage princess. 

The temple was truly ancient, since I must have made it sometime before 2000 when I still used cardboard and plaster. The thing has languished in my shed for at least 15 years and even smelled suitably mouldy for an old temple! 

This turned out very dull, as the Tharks were simply shot down when they exited the temple and the final Thark inside killed the hostage. Duh.  

So we turned it into a  tense sneak-and-stab scenario. Two sentries were placed outside and moved every turn on a scatter die + 1d6" movement. 

The Red Martian troops laid in ambush and a select few tried to sneak into the temple through a hole in the roof to extract the princess or protect her during the raid. The Red Martians had Initiative as long as they were unnoticed. The Green Tharks inside the temple did nothing as long as the sentries did not raise the alarm. 

The second game used this adapted approach. One of the two Red leaders (a Jeddak) and a trooper evaded the sentries and tried to climb into the temple. The Jeddak succeeded but the trooper fell and alerted the sentries. 

While the Reds stormed the temple, the Thark leader ran upstairs to the hostage and was valiantly met by the Red Jeddak. Who was subsequently cut inhalf in the following duel. Duh....

The third game showed some improved tactics. Red Martians ambushed all around the temple en the two Red leaders snuck and climbed into the temple. 

Succesfull this time, thanks to their higher Initiative. Once inside, they decided to extract the Princess instead of defending her during the attack and they succesfully made it out of the temple and unto the roof again. As it turned out, a fateful decision....

Unfortunately for the Martian Red royalty, the princess failed to make her climb rolls during the descent (twice!) and plummeted to her death. Damn!

Again, the En Garde rules proved perfect for playing Barsoom with only minor adaptaions shown below: 

En Garde rules adaptations for Barsoom: 

En Garde! Barsoom Rules

These rules are intended to take the player to the wastes of Barsoom as written about by the great
late Edgar Rice Burroughs. In these stories, Mars is a dry and dying planet populated with exotic and
warlike human and alien races, ancient civilizations and bizarre wildlife. In recent decades these
stories have spawned a lively VSF background which unfortunately is not very compatible with the
original JC stories for various reasons. Therefore there will be some suggestions to stick to one of two specific canons.

Victorian Science Fiction Canon:
This is the most versatile of the Martian universes. Here, like in the Space 1889 backgrounds, Mars is
essentially an unexplored territory where European peoples boldly go where no one has gone before.
They fly to Mars in Aetherships and explore the surface of the Red Planet in caravans and liftwood
skyships, encountering the native civilizations much as European explorers did in the 16th to 19th
century in Asia, Africa and Meso- and South America.

Humans in this universe have no special powers on Mars, beside the fact that they might be
technologically more advanced than most of the Martian natives. These natives are mostly humanoid
beings, some bipedal, some winged, living in city states or tribal structures. Their level of civilization
and technology is comparable to Late Medieval/Early Renaissance Earth. Wargaming on VSF Mars is
essentially a fantasy kind of colonial gaming on another planet.

John Carter or Barsoom Canon
True to the ERB stories, here Mars, called Barsoom by its inhabitants, is much like in the VSF canon.
The Martian races are mostly humanoid, divided into red, white, black and yellow humanoids. Next
to these live the giant six-limbed Green martians, originally constructs of the ancient White Martians,
the current Therns. There are however some essential differences compared to the VSF canon.
First, Mars cannot be reached by space, but only by very rare and inaccessible portals which
transport one’s energy form to Barsoom and transform this into a human body. Few humans manage
to make this crossing, the most famous of whom is American Civil War hero John Carter. Earthlings
on Mars are therefore rare. If not unique.

Second, due to Mars’ light gravity Earth-born humans’ muscles gain greatly enhanced strength that
essentially turn an Earthling into a minor superhero, capable of making huge jumps and other feats
of strength. This effectively prohibits playing with lots of Earthlings, since what fun would playing an army of superheroes be?

Thirdly, the human civilizations of Barsoom are technologically more advanced than contemporary
Earth civilizations. They are centuries old, aided by the much longer lifespans of Martians who can
easily reach over 500 Earth years of age. They employ enormous flying ships, energy sources of
unparalleled power and even have found a way to provide the dying planet with an artificial
atmosphere on which all life on Mars is dependent.

All Martian races are very warlike and adhere to warrior’s codes of honour that proscribe chivalrous
behavior in combat.

Red Martians
The technologically advanced red-skinned inhabitants of the moderate regions of Barsoom populate
a number of city states, among which Helium and Zodanga are the most powerful (and rivalrous).
Red Martians have mastered flight and energy-powered firearms.
Red firearms are semi-automatics and count as rifles and pistols in En Garde! They need never be
reloaded, as they employ tiny, highly energized radium bullets that explode on impact and do a
disproportionate amount of damage to their size.

Red Martians basically folow human stats as used in En Garde!. Red Martians may never choose armor. May be mounted on a Thoat (+10). May use skyships.

Green Martians
The 10 feet tall green-skinned and four-armed barbarians of the Barsoomian wastes and deserts are
feared all over the planet. Massively strong and tough and ferocious in combat they are literally bred
for war, as the ancient white Martians constructed them as artificial warriors and laborers. They
roam the deserts as nomadic tribes on their big Thoats and inhabit the ruins of old abandoned cities
that litter the surface of the dying planet. They war with everyone, including each other, with
barbaric customs like torturing and eating their defeated opponents. They should be viewed as
fearsome adversaries in combat.

Having an inbred knack for military technology and combat medicine, they employ surprisingly
advanced weapons for their barbaric demeanor.

Green firearms are more primitive than their Red counterparts. Rifles are powerful singe-shot breech
loaders that need to be reoaded. Due to their size, they are even able to damage flying ships with a -2 modifier. Pistols are simple revolver designs that do not need to reload and are comparable to a red pistol.

Green Martians use human En Garde stats with the following changes: 

Combat Pool +1
Movement Fast
Initiative +1
Shoot +1
Traits: Powerful, Extremely Tough. 

Green Martians may never choose armor. May be mounted on a Thoat (+10). All Green Martians are Extremely Tough. Green Martians never board or use skyships.

Extremely Tough:
· Green Martians gain a -1 on the roll to discard Stun counters.
· They ignore the effects of Light Wounds. Two Light Wounds still make a Grievous Wound.
· Grievous Wounds only cause an effect normally seen with Light Wounds. Any Wound on top
of a Grievous Wound still causes a Critical Wound.

· Critical Wounds have the normal affect.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Building two Martian Sky Galleons part 1

I made some more progress in my Barsoom project. Inspired by the magnificent models by Tre Games I decided to build my own. The TG models are 15mm scale (except for one, heftily priced and sport a LOT of deck buildings that severely restrict the playing space on the decks.

As usual I started with some sketches.

Based on my experience with the Aphid class gunboat I would build the entire hull and wings out of MDF.

The outer hull would be made out of thinner MDF or foamcore to save weight without sacrificing the sturdiness of the hull. This mainly because the paper outer hullskin of the Aphid obliges you to think before you pick it up to prevent crushing the hull.

I proceeded with many sketches, struggling particularly with the wings and the bridge.

I wanted as much deck surface as possible to move figures around, but still enough detail to look impressive. And of course there would have to be guns on the deck, railings and other fittings that you would expect on a ship's deck.

Then I drew all the parts on MDF plates and started sawing away with the electric saw.

That provided me with A LOT of parts....

After sawing and sanding the fitting and glueing could start. Here the underside of the decks is shown with the ribs for the outer hull sticking upwards.

The tailpieces as well as the bows were supposed to be able to come off. This would greatly shorten the model's length and would ease storage (and painting). Below is one of the two tailpieces I made showing the fit.

 Below is the other tailpiece, which also slots into the rear hull.

Below is the pipe that will eventually hold the entire ship suspended on the steel rod of the standard. This way, the model can "fly" over the tabletop and easily adjust height as per my skyship rules.

Here are the two hulls, clearly showing most of the wooden parts in place and showing the hole in the hull to fit the standard. 

The first fit after glueing however showed a serious flaw in my designs. You can clearly see the ships tilt backwards, because the weight of the wings, bridge and tail drags the rear part down. Not only put this great strain on the standard fitting in the hull, but also permantenly tilted the deck. Darn.....

So a re-design was in order. The bridge was removed, the standard hole moved some 10cms to the rear (after carefully figuring out where the balance actually was, like I should have done in the first place....) and everything was glued in place again. Leaving me with a great big hole sitting in the middle of the deck....

What to do about that? Time would tell. But as you can see the balance was greatly improved!

Below the hull is covered with foamcore parts and bits of ye olde coffeestirrer. 

The railings were made by Pat's Laser Cuttings, as no electric saw can rival a fine detail laser cutter. Ordered to length they fit perfectly!

The bridge will be covered by a dome made of unbreakable Barsoomian sun-crystal (blablabla) which started its existence as the transparent part of a big plastic Easter egg. The 28mm figure is showed for scale.

The model so far scored approving looks of my better half

Then I started on the many details that were to cover the decks. The bit box yielded more than enough futuristic stuff to make some convincing cannon. Can you already guess what I will do with that surpluss hole in the deck? Here are the heavy Shock Cannon. Each ship will carry one.

Something that is apparently a Dark Eldar Star Cannon (who ever knew?) provided the lighter Pulse Guns of which each ship will carry four. 

The gun mount was made from those little triangles that came in abundance with the railings and were meant to prop those up for sturdiness. There were so many however, that I just had to put them to some more use.

That's all so far folks. Keep posted for part 2!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

A first glimpse of the Martian ships, still building in progress.....

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Building HMS Scarab, a Martian skyship

Finally, with PolderCon 2017 on the (far) horizon I decided to re-animate the John Carter Project. With almnost all figures painted the few things left to build were the famous skyships and some impressive terrain. 

I decided to start small with a 28mm version of the diminiutive Aphid class gunboat from the Space 1889 game. Not canon as far as John Carter concerns, but not too hard to start with and well suited to try out some thing I had found and thought up in the meantime. 

As a basis I use a half-finished papercraft kit made by Wayne Peters that I found on this link.

While not finished, the thread provided me with templates for decks and hull, gear box and rear engine cowling and more than enough inspiration to finish it myself. 

The basis for the hull is a sawed out deck shape based on the templates. 10mm MDF was at hand and very sturdy, but for future ships I think I will get some thinner stuff. 

The templates were printed, cut and glued to the deck, reinforced with some MDF "ribs" to enable the ship to stand on the ground without pushing in the paper outer hull.

Since the skyship rules I wrote for this project require models to be able to gain and lose altitude, I needed to build a standard as well. I used 20mm MDF and 15mm steel pipe for the standard and 20mm PVC pipe for the funnel. 

The PVC pipe is attached to the hull and fits over/slides along the steel pipe. Pins hold the ship in place at the desired altitude.  The ship is able to rise some 90cm above the tabletop. More than enough. 

The rest of the papercraft kit was missing but plans for Aphid class ships are available in abundance so devising the upper hull works and such was no problem.

The rest was straightforward scratchbuilding. Boiler and deck house were made of cardstock, reinforced with foamboard -and in case of the second ship (I built two) MDF ribs.

Thick cardboard provided the material for the tail fins and nails-and-string produced an adequate railing. Sinbce the ship rests on the tail fins while standing on the table I will use MDF in future builds.

A plastic wineglass sacrificed its base for the greater good and voila! HMS Scarab had a screw!

Stairs were made from plasticard and some bits and pieces from the bitbox became bolders, mast and a compass house on the bridge.

The portholes were punched out cardboard using a 25mm and a 20mm punch with some clear packaging material glued to the back. The "rivets" are punched in from the back with a pointy tool.

And here she is painted. After painting I added some more details like decals on the fins, a manufacturer's plate on the boiler (a shrunk picture found on the internet and printed) and of course a nameplate on the bridge. The naval ensign is of course a given!

Next build will be a larger Martian ship. Stay tuned!