We’ve had a couple more Gaslands-by-webcam sessions since Corey wrote up his how-to and that’s inspired me to finally get the first few cars built up properly.
I’d primed and painted these cars months ago and they probably even appear in a few of our game photos, but I’d rushed the painting so the primer was scratching off far too easily, and I really hadn’t done much conversion.
I dropped the metal car bodies back in Simple Green to reset them to bare metal, then set about properly converting them into post-apoc Gaslands armed cars! Some time ago we’d done a group order to North Star for a bunch of their Instruments of Carnage plastic accessory sprues and those plus bits of plasticard from my parts box has gotten me three armed, up-armoured cars, all Gaslands Refuelled legal designs.
The first and largest of the three cars is Vlad the Impala, with a turreted MG or HMG, ram plate salvaged from a bulldozer blade, huge exhaust stacks coming directly off the engine block, and “spoiler” on the back hacked from a piece of sheet metal. The windows also got barred off with plastic strips.
The two Barracudas are slightly smaller. One of them got an air scoop on the hood, a single HMG mounted alongside, sheet metal on the windows, and a dropped weapon (usually mines) off the back. Barracuda 2 got metal bar armour over the windows and reinforcing the front and back of the car, and a pair of MGs or HMGs on the hood.
I’m pretty sure that one reason I had trouble getting paint to stick to the metal toy car bodies the first time I tried painting these cars was because I rushed off to paint before the primer coat had properly cured, so I’m going to put this trio aside for a couple of days to give the primer a chance to really properly dry and cure.
I haven’t actually finalized a paint scheme for any of them, although I suspect Vlad the Impala will wind up red and black, with one of the Barracudas mostly purple and the other blue, just because. There are driver figures on the North Star sprues, but with all the window armour none of the driver seats are particularly visible, so I think I’ll save them for other projects with more visible crew positions.
Given that our current COVID restrictions are running until at least mid-February at this point, I am probably going to finish all three of these and then drop them off at Corey’s place, along with the jumps and other terrain I finished late last year so they can appear in our webcam games as lockdown drags on!
March was when it all went weird. The high point of my own gaming year, Trumpeter Salute over in Vancouver, was cancelled on less than two weeks notice, work-from-home started abruptly, and all sorts of other things went very, very sideways. I did spend some of the money I’d have ordinarily have spent on other things on orders from Bad Squiddo and Forge of Ice, two tiny one-person companies I’ve been meaning to order from for many years now, so that part was nice, but the fact that March/April/May 2020 have fewer blog entries here, combined, than I made in January indicates how off-kilter everything was!
The end of May did see the modification of our local COVID restrictions so that we could have “pods” of up to six or so people, so my brother and a friend resumed gaming most Sundays, starting up a Frostgrave campaign that eventually morphed into a fantasy-flavoured Pulp Alley campaign.
COVID Bubble Gaming
June and July saw something like a normal posting pace resume here as I cranked out a bunch of fun quick fantasy scenery to add to our Forestgrave tables including a standing stone and a big tree. There were also a few impossibly tiny planes as a diversion from fantasy!
So, that was our 2020 here at the Warbard! A weird, stressful, very strange year but here’s hoping that sometime before the end of 2021 we’re back to in-person gaming, conventions, and something vaguely like pre-pandemic normality.
In the meantime, wear a mask, keep an eye on how soon you can get your COVID vaccine, try to get some hobby time in if your situation allows, and stay safe. Happy New Year, I guess!
The second wave of COVID-19 is here and with it, new restrictions on in-person events like gaming. While in British Columbia we don’t have a strict lockdown, we are limited to our “core bubble” aka our immediate household. Which means no in-person gaming. Our little gaming group (myself, Brian and our friend Sean) took a break, we wanted to get gaming again and preferably avoid fully-online solutions like TTS. Enter the webcam.
Attempt 1: Ancient webcam + gotomeeting
Our first attempt used an ancient webcam that spits out low resolution image, plus using Gotomeeting. I shared my screen, which had the default Windows camera app up on this. It worked, but was very difficult to see.
We were also challenged with how to track stats – gear, hazards, damage, etc. Brian tracked it on his computer and I tracked gear phase and hazards on the gaming board. Neither really worked – we couldn’t see what Brian was tracking and due to the webcam, nobody could see the hazards I’d placed on the board.
Attempt 2: Phone as webcam + OBS + Discord
Having tried the old webcam and realized it didn’t work, plus the need to track stats, I decided to download and play with OBS Studio. I figured I could overlay a Google sheet to track stats, plus bring in the camera feed.
To deal with the poor image quality, I downloaded #LiveDroid, an Android app that streams your phone’s camera over a local server. To help with low light, I used my new ring light that my wife had bought me for Christmas.
Setting up Open Broadcast Studio
OBS is pretty easy to setup – this was my first attempt at using it and it ran flawlessly. I had four different sources: cam link from phone (as a browser source), read-only Google sheet (as another browser link), white image for a background and the Esquimalt Thunderdome branding image. Note that I didn’t run any audio through OBS, as we were talking via Discord.
For stats via Google sheet, I first setup the needed columns and then cropped the source down using a Crop/Pad Effects Filter to only show the key part of the stats. This method is easy to change on the fly, which we did when I forgot to add Gear Phase to the initial sheet.
Streaming from your phone
I downloaded #LiveDroid, a free Android app that streams your camera to a browser on your local network. You will need to set the resolution for both the camera and in OBS. I set the phone to be 1920×1280 and the OBS source to 1280×960. For me, Camera 0 was my rear camera.
I also tried DroidCam, which has an OBS plugin, but that stuck an ugly watermark on the image.
Connecting it all together
Finally, I shared the OBS window out using a virtual webcam. On the bottom left of the OBS window, it is labelled Start Virtual Camera. We then started a video call in Discord and I changed my webcam source to OBS Virtual Webcam.
If you’re the presenter, don’t be alarmed when your webcam looks like this:
But for everybody else, the combination works well. This was Brian’s view of the final hit of the game.
Modifying Gaslands to play via webcam
For those playing remotely, the hardest challenge is spatial sense. A lot of Gaslands is about choosing the right template. Also, play will be slower, so plan for that.
Adjusting the template rules
The touch it, use it and no pre-measuring rules from Gaslands assume you have a good view of the table, which remote players really don’t. So we changed the template rules a bit. They could ask me about what a template would look like and sometimes I would even lay it down after they’d described what they wanted to do.
Keeping the cars and game simple
In order to keep the game from bogging down, we decided to institute a few simplifications to the game:
Everybody drives the same car, in our case a car with a single HMG forward facing & a mine layer aft
Easy scenario – we ran both a modified flag tag and arena of death
Have a record keeper (and track stats locally and remotely)
The person moving the cars and running the feed doesn’t have the time to deal with record keeping that others can see. So we ended up tracking the key stats both on the game board (so I could see them) and in the Google sheet. So Brian, sitting at his computer, could track the stats for everybody, leaving me free to move cars and keep the game moving
Be ruthless about whipping people along
In order to complete a game, you’ll need the person who is moving the cars to be a ruthless GM. They need to keep the game moving via ensuring each player moves, constantly asking all the key questions like “How many dice do you want to roll”.
Overall, the second game ran really well. OBS made it a lot simpler for everybody to see all the stats.
One of the key problems we ran into was seeing the dice. Instead of an online dice roller, I rolled everybody’s dice in person. For the next game, I plan on using the crappy old webcam as a dice cam – set it up vertically over a dice rolling box.
I also need to play with the colour balance, contrast and saturation of the webcam. Unsurprisingly, all the various pieces of software being used tried to do some sort of correction and not all of it worked.
Where to get the software
OBS is free and runs on most major OSes, while #LiveDroid is Android-only.
It’s the pandemic. We can’t meet in person, we can’t meet in each other’s houses, the university and board game cafe we sometimes use locally to host games are all closed for that sort of thing. What’s a gamer to do to get their fix?
Zoom, zoom zoom… and I’m not talking the Gaslands cars, but of course webcams. Gaslands is especially good for webcam gaming, it turns out, as all movement is template based and there’s relatively few stats per car to track.
Corey has promised to write a more technical post here in the next while on the setup at his end as he hosts and runs these games, but the most recent game used Discord for the video feed and voice chat with some OBS voodoo at his end for the game table feed and Gaslands stats tucked into a Google Docs spreadsheet.
From my end, it looked something like this. Well, from the cat’s perspective, that is. (If Cat is your copilot, you shall fear no hairball!)
We actually got three games done in about two hours in as we were only running one car each and the Death Match arena setup (last person standing) is pretty straightforward.
With Discord for voice chat and the OBS integrated video feed it worked out really well for Gaslands.
The ending of our third game featured the most spectacularly destructive head on collision we’ve seen yet. The screenshot below captures the dice rolls; the left hand pile of ten (!) damage was what I did to Sean, and he in turn did seven points to me, destroying both of us and leaving Corey the overall winner, best of three games!
There’s a few other games we think would work well with this basic setup; the current GW airplane game being hex based and having simple maneuvers would be one, as would some of the naval games that have written orders with templates, although there’s more recordkeeping for that sort of game.
Hope everyone has been having a good, safe holiday season, however you celebrate, and that you’re able to get some sort of gaming fix in somehow!
I’ve talked up Rain City Hobbies on this blog before, but only for their very nice grass and flower tufts. They also do a huge range of resin bases, but because I rarely use elaborate complex bases they’ve not interested me much.
I do own a few of their resin bases, however, picked up from the “production seconds by weight” bin sold by Rain City at gaming conventions. (remember gaming conventions from the Before Times? I miss them…)
Needing a distraction from current events I decided to paint up the biggest of these, an elaborate ruined temple base nearly the size of a CD, their Huge Ruined Sanctuary insert. 120mm (~4 and a quarter inches, roughly) across, the production second one I have has nearly perfect molding of all the details, but it warped before the resin had fully cured so won’t lie flat.
I tried out a bunch of different stone painting techniques on this base and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The three big chunks of shattered statue were based in light tan, then progressively highlighted with whiter and whiter paints well diluted with glaze medium, which really got a translucent polished stone effect going.
The green arc and big green fragment were basecoated fairly dark green, then given marble-like veins with brighter greens, again well mixed with glaze medium. They got a good coat of gloss varnish, and then some highlighting with almost pure white.
The flagstones got basecoated with four or five off-white/tan shades, washed with GW Sepia and Earthshade washes, then highlighted with light tan and off-white. The tree roots are various shades of reddish brown.
Because of the warp across the width, I’ll probably base this onto a larger piece of thin plastic, then use putty and then foliage to merge the lifted corners back into the base, making this look like a fragment that has been largely swallowed by forest or jungle.
I’ve also got a few more random bases I might finish up, and those three tan pieces to the right in both photos above are the Large Broken Statuary Base Accessories that I will be using either together with the big base or on their own as scenery elements. More on them in some future post when I get them finished.
Stay safe, stay home, try to get something creative done, mask up when required out in public, and better days (actual gaming conventions!) shall come again.
Reading through the rules, I realized that Gaslands Refuelled has rules for jump ramps and jumping, so naturally I had to scratchbuild a pair of ramps to make a dangerous lunatic game even more dangerous and lunatic!
The two ramps are about 4 inches wide. They’re based on scraps of 1/8th plastic board and mostly made of random bits of styrene plastic. The big beams are from Plastruct and I’m pretty sure they’re leftover from the model railroad we had when I was in junior high in the first half of the 1990s… that’s more than long enough to have something in your Bin Of Interesting Parts before using them!
The great thing about the mostly-post-apocalyptic Gaslands setting is that nothing has to be really cleanly constructed or painted, so I just layered sheets of styrene up until it looked right, and used pliers and a knife to attack various bits, warp them, and chew the corners off.
The billboard/crash barrier piece started as a way to use up the leftover stub of heavy I-beam I had left over after the ramps were done; it’s based on more scrap 1/8th plastic board and roughed up the same way. It got orange and white hazard stripes on the fronts, because, well, why not?
I’ve got four cars and a motorbike in progress; the first coat of primer on several of the cars didn’t take so they’re in paint stripper to get reset back to bare metal. I’ll probably fish them out this weekend to scrub them down and reprime.
We’re back in lockdown here for at least another ten days and realistically probably longer, because the second wave of COVID is well and truly here. Stay well, stay safe, ignore the goddamn idiot ratlicking anti-mask morons, and when we’re able to game in person again, hopefully there won’t be any gaps around the gaming table.
Oh, and happy American Thanksgiving to any American readers!
From the excellent people running Dark Fantastic Mills I purchased this Doomcap Shrooms Bundle earlier in the year. If you want to run fantasy games, you should, I think, have fantasy scenery. If you want to fight amongst perfectly ordinary trees, run a historical game, those are fun too.
These mushrooms are all 3d printed in FMD; you can see some layering here and there, especially across the broad flat tops of some of the bigger mushrooms, but other than that they’re wonderfully sculpted and beautifully detailed pieces of scenery. And BIG – check out that roughly human sized figure in the Dark Fantastic Mills shop photo above!
With “fantasy scenery should look fantastic” in mind, I cut loose and did up this lovely batch of 3d-printed giant ‘shrooms (and their smaller brethern) in gloriously weird colours. Reds and purples and vivid blues and greens, all the colours I usually use sparingly here and there came out in force.
I started with a dark grey spray primer coat, then did a rough drybrush of pure white. All of the colours after that got cut at least 1:1 if not more with glaze medium, so the original drybrushing mostly showed through and the various colours layered and blended fairly smoothly. I’ve posted this link before, but go watch Dana Howl’s 24 minute intro to glaze medium on YouTube, it really has changed the way I paint and these giant mushrooms would have looked much less interesting without her influence.
Some of the DFM shrooms still need another round of highlighting or glazing to finish them off, and the biggest one, the massive slope-topped multi-trunked one in the last photo, still needs it’s base finished, flocked and detailed.
I’m really pleased with these Dark Fantastic Mills ‘shrooms. The bundle isn’t cheap, but you get huge dramatic pieces of scenery for your money that really stand out on the table! Go check Dark Fantastic Mills out, they’ve really harnessed 3d printing to make scenery that couldn’t easily be made in other materials and their designs really are fantastic.
All the ceremonies will be streamed online this year, because COVID, so my longstanding habit of going to one of our local ceremonies will probably be swapped for sitting in front of my computer, which is an extremely 2020 way of commemorating Remembrance Day.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
-- Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
I try to remember to mark Remembrance Day here on the blog too, although will admit these November 11 posts have been patchy the last few years. I feel it’s the least we can do in this peculiar hobby we all share, one that’s simultaneously intimately connected to warfare and weirdly stylised and distant from the realities of it.
I hope you and yours are safe and well, on this strange pandemic Remembrance Day.
Back in June, roughly 20,000 years ago in the Early COVID Summer Era, I built a stone portal/archway/summoning gate thing, showed off photos of it all unpainted and pink, and then never got another photo of it up on the blog! The paintjob was pretty similar to the standing stone I’d done a week or so prior, in any case.
This week I pulled both those pieces out and finally did the base detailing so they fit better with the rest of my fantasy terrain, which has a wild, fecund, lush Summer Realm feel to it, even before you start noticing the giant mushrooms!
I’ve just ordered a top up of flowers and grasses from Rain City Hobbies over in Vancouver; they do a bunch of different grasses and flower tufts in a nice variety of colours and I always like having a relatively-local source for this stuff! One of these days I might need to put an order in for some of the really weird alien grass colours Bad Squiddo stocks to add that extra touch of strange to my fantasy table!
As for the stuff in the background of the photo above, stay tuned, I have more weird fantasy terrain posts coming soon!
If you’re going to do fantasy battles, why restrict yourself to normal-looking trees and such? If you want to fight a battle in a pine forest, go do Romans vs Germanics or WW2 Ardennes or something. For fantasy, we should have properly fantastical terrain!
I don’t have a 3d printer but Corey does, so I pay him in beer and snark and (when his tempermental 3d printer cooperates) get 3d printed nifty things back from him.
Using a couple of junk CDs (best scenery bases ever!) I put together this trio of fungal thickets to add proper fantastical flavour to our fantasty skirmish games.
These thickets use half a dozen big 3d printed mushrooms from the FR&P KS and a bunch of resin and 3d printed smaller mushrooms from Dark Fantastic. Scraps of cork board about 1/4″ thick add some height here and there, and sand, flock, and lots and lots of flower tufts finish them off.
The tree-dudes are Reaper Saporlings, available in a batch of nine, as a single, or in Bones plastic. They’re about human sized and great figures. They’re going to star as zombie stand-ins in a fantasy pulp game sometime soon, and will no doubt find other roles to play in future games.
I have the Doomcap Deeps bundle from Dark Fantastic all painted up in the same bright colour blending scheme as these mushrooms, and I’ll get some decent photos of them soon for that longer review post I hinted at at the start of this post.
Stay well in our second wave of COVID world, stay safe, and try to get some gaming in if you are able. If we isolate now, it is so that there isn’t a gap on the other side of the gaming table when we do gather again in safety.