Monday, October 10, 2011

Empire of Bone: Tabula Rasa

memento-mori-engraving-by-alexander-mair1605One of the tricky parts about building a society of undead is their relation to the living. Are their living beings amongst them? How are they treated? Are they the enemy? The bigger question is about the sentient undead. Do they remember their life before they became undead? If so, how does that shape the rest of society?

In Empire of Bone I decided a couple of key things: the living are very much “off-screen” – they exist, but are incidental in a society of the dead. The second is related to the first: new citizens of the Empire have no memory of their former life. Personalities and skills are intact, but former memories of life would be “burdening” to a sentient undead. So says the Ministry of Existential Verifications, who also assign the newly dead their role within the Empire. How convenient!

This may sound like a bit of an easy way out, but this leads to a lot of interesting story questions. Is the tabula rasa effect a natural part of the resurrection process, or something engineered to prevent “potential problems” with the trauma of becoming undead? if so, what happens when the problem goes wrong? What happens with deaders awakened “outside the system”? Lots of story potential there!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Medieval Gatehouse–Part II

Having the basic gatehouse worked pretty well for the encounter around which it was based, but the “advanced” version looked too cool to ignore. Considering the amount of work that was involved, I probably should have ignored it…
First off was build a top extension to place on top of the basic gatehouse.
After the basic building extension was done, it was time to add the “optional” crenellations. Once build, two tabs at the bottom of the crenellations slides into two slots at the top of the building.
The end result actually looked really cool, and made it feel even more like a classic castle.
Once mounted to the top of the basic gatehouse, it doubled the height and made it look like an even more imposing structure.
The next part is where it started to get tricky. Printing chain and portcullis designs on transparency paper yielded see-through and fairly sturdy chains and portcullis. Slotting the portcullis bars in a gate from and running the chains through the gate slots resulted in the following.
Of course, we needed something to hook the chains to, and so the next step was building a working winch. This actually involved building a rotating center core suspended in a frame and held in place with straightened paperclip!
Fastening the winches in place beside the gates and at the top meant and attaching the “chains” to them meant you can actually winch up the gate and portcullis! The process is a bit slow and finicky, but being able to do that in a paper model is impressive nonetheless.
The end result is a rather stylin’ gatehouse that is a great centerpiece for any 25mm-28mm miniatures battle!
Now to build some walls to go along with it…

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Medieval Gatehouse - Part I

The next part I wanted to do as part of my fantasy terrain is a medieval gatehouse. I decided on using the gatehouse from WorldWorks Games CastleWorks Ultimate.
The building base used the older “Paperlinx” system, so I decided to modify the base a bit to make it compatible with the newer “Terrainlinx” system, essentially cutting two slots based on either side using the TerrainLinx template:
Like a lot of the earlier WorldWorks Games kits, there are a lot of fiddly bits associated with the model. Worst than that, there are some pieces that do not use tabs on all connection points, sometimes resulting in places where there are small gaps left between what’s supposed to be “joined”:
Still, with a bit of work the end result starts to look pretty good:
This is the “basic” version of the gatehouse, which is respectable in its own right, but I’d likely expand this out into the full version as time permits.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fantasy City Streets

I’m running a game of Dungeons & Dragons at work for some co-workers at lunch every week and wanted to start introducing some decent terrain instead of just using an erasable grid-map.  So I started with WorldWorks Games “Streets of Himmelveil” as a base.
Luckily I had a bunch of 6” x 6” foamcore bases made from previous work so all I needed to do was print out a set of street tiles on the laser printer to start:
Once the excess white space was cut from the printed tiles I scored the fold edges and wrapped them around the foamcore base:
When I had a couple made I double-checked the connectors to make sure the tiles would connect together properly:
I then proceeded to glue-mount the rest of the tiles on the foamcore bases:
The end-result I could configure into a city street area with a large center circle:
I still need to add edging to cover up any exposed white paper bits from scoring, folds, etc. and test all the connectors, but otherwise it’s ready for play.
I plan to add a number of new tiles for different configurations (corners, dead ends, sewer entrances, etc.), but this will provide a solid basic 18” x 18” play space that I can use for city streets.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Far East Steampunk Inspirations


James Ng’s Imperial Sheriff

When people visualize steampunk they usually associate it with Victorian England. However, since the main gist of the genre is Victorian-era futurism, there’s a much wider spectrum of world cultures that can be looked to for inspiration.

As SteamCon II’s theme was, “Wild, Wild, West”, this year’s Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition is going with the theme, “Wild, Wild, East”. And by this they mean the “Far East” (as called in Victorian times) and not “New York” (some people I talked to actually thought this was the case).

Since Nova Albion is coming up at the end of March, this gives me about a month and half to put together something for the event. Considering my last project took about two weeks of busy nights and weekends I think if I want to do anything ambitious I better start now.

At SteamCon I picked up a professional-quality pair of grey hakama at SteamCon II, so that’s a good starting point.


Wrinkled hakama, but you get the idea

I also have a white under-kimono and possibly a dusty green over-kimino (if I can find it). Going with this basic clothing premise, the obvious choice would be: steampunk samurai! However, a full set of steampunk samurai armor would be rather… ambitious in such a short period. A more practical goal might be an armored arm gauntlet with oriental dragon ornamentation? I steampunk-inspired mempo (although a helmet would look a bit odd without the rest of the armor)?