Category Archives: Science Fiction

Posts Infinity by Corvus Belli, and about Stargrunt II, Dirtside II, and Full Thrust II by Ground Zero Games.

LANtasy 2017 Photos!

Our local “big” convention, LANtasy, was a couple weeks ago now. I participated in the Blood Bowl & Infinity tournaments all weekend, and my Infinity terrain made up two of the four tables in the Infinity tourney. We’d hoped for more players and had originally reserved space for up to eight Infinity tables, but six players was it. I managed to come dead last, by a fairly good margin, including conceding one game at the bottom of the second turn (of three) but they were good games on good tables!

I brought my Lizardman team, the Handbag Factory (they’re crocodile figures, hence the joke name) to the Blood Bowl tourney and did nearly as badly, including one game where I got six lizards including my Kroxigor killed and didn’t injure a single orc…

Some photos – see captions for details.

Trumpeter Salute 2017 was last weekend in Vancouver and was a lot of fun. Lots of different games, a chance to see folks I only ever see at Trumpeter, and I ran a Pulp Alley game that was a blast and greatly enjoyed by all six players. I haven’t processed the photos from that yet, so I’ll do another post this weekend about that show.

Links of Interest, 24 Feb 2017

Last time I mentioned a couple of YouTube painters that had good series of to-the-point, well-edited painting videos. Victor Ques is another I should mention; his ongoing “Weekly Painting Tips” series just hit episode 100 and has lots of good content. For his 100th episode he did a really nice 15 minute video talking about when to use some of the techniques he and other painters talk about; it’s a really good overview to accompany the technique-specific videos he’s already done.

Painting Buddha doesn’t seem to be producing videos anymore, but they had a really high-end multiple camera setup, with a camera on the miniature, a camera on the palette (so you can see how colours are mixed and thinned) and a talking-head camera. Their painting black armour tutorial is well worth watching, even if it’s more advanced and involved than a lot of us are going to do regularly!

A few quick links to finish off with!

Bricks’n’Tiles is a small Windows program to create endless, seamless brick, tile, and other textures for creating paper or card buildings with, but even if you don’t use Windows or don’t feel like you need to buy the program, they have some sample sheets downloadable from their website that are potentially useful.

Free Islamic Calligraphy has a lot of high quality graphic files of Islamic calligraphy, including the awesomely sci-fi looking Kufic style. Lots of good stuff if you want to add some easy Islamic (or Haqqislamic, for Infinity players!) flavour to your scenery.

More Jungle To Rumble In

Scored another big paper towel roll from our recycling bin, so I decided to make a fallen tree instead of another upright one.

Like the other trees, the fallen tree started with a paper towel roll, scrap cardboard, some CDs, and my hot glue gun. I made the root ridges lower so the tree would sit mostly level, and glued on a few random bits of cardboard to break up the surface of the paper towel roll a bit. All the ridges are made of two strips of cardboard, so they’re a bit thicker.

Tree assembled, with Infinity Ghulam light infantry on a 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

I used a pair of CDs as a base, and didn’t bother filling in the gap between them.

Right after assembling the fallen tree (I love hot glue, there’s no waiting for glue to dry or cure!) I got to work with white glue, some paper towel, and toilet paper for bark texture. I filled in the two ends with scrap cardboard and a bunch of paper toweling, added some ridges of paper towel here and there, then covered the whole thing with toilet paper, pushed into place with a damp brush and sometimes my fingers, with extra white glue drizzled on as needed to make sure everything was well stuck down.

Bark texture done with toilet paper. Click for larger.

That needed to dry overnight, so the next evening I got the basecoat done, mostly brown paint with a bit of black and some tan to add a bit of variation, with a squirt of white glue mixed in for extra strength.

Basecoat all done, still wet. Click for larger.

After the basecoat had dried overnight again, I did some drybrushing with tan and white paint to bring the bark texture out, then splodged on some green paint in two different shades here and there. That didn’t really need any drying time, so I got the hot glue gun out again and the box of random plastic plants and other greenery. I finished the fallen log off with a mixed batch of plants and foam, then ground foam grass over the base and here and there on the log as well, and declared it done!

Finished fallen log, same Infinity figure on 25mm base as the other photos. Click for larger.

The finished piece is about 9″ long, 3″ wide, and 2.5″ tall. I’m looking forward to adding it to my jungle themed tables!

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle…

Several years ago now I did a whole banker’s box full of jungle terrain, but it was all fairly low-lying stuff, thickets and bushes and that sort of thing.

I’ve always intended to add some bigger trees to the set, inspired by the nice trees DM Scotty does in this video…

…and Dr. Mathias’ extravagantly photographed jungle tree tutorial over on Lead Adventure forum!

Our paper towel dispensers at work are the large commercial models, and staff are expected to refill them on their own when they’re emptied, so I’ve brought home a few of the heavy cardboard tubes from the centres of the big rolls of brown paper towelling, as well as a couple of lighter tubes from home, and a few shorter toilet paper tubes.

This weekend I sat down to crank out a few trees! I started with the hot glue gun, the tubes, some CD-ROMs salvaged from the recycling bin, and some scrap cardboard to produce four trees and one big stump.

Fourth tree and stump all covered in paper towel. Three other trees drying in the background. Click for larger.

The three big trees and the stump basically fill the entire CD base edge to edge, with space between the buttress roots for figures to duck for cover. The smaller tree (from a tube that originally held glow-ropes) covers about half the CD it’s on.

I used lots of white glue to attach a layer of brown paper towel to the trunks, let that dry, then slapped on a base coat of reddish-brown and black mixed. After that dried I gave the trunks a heavy drybrush of tan, then blotches of two different shades of green here and there to suggest moss or jungle fungus.

Basecoated trees drying, before drybrushing and foliage. Click for larger.

After that had mostly dried I broke out my box of random plastic plants, gathered from craft stores over the last couple of years. Vines, random bushes, and some low-lying lichen filled some of the gaps around the trunks and provided some colour, then I put a generous layer of flock around the bases and declared these things done!

All flocked and foliaged. The white primered figure in the lower-right is an Infinity Ghulam infantry on a 25mm base. Click for larger.
Stump speech! Using the toilet paper roll for a giant stump gives the tabletop some vertical tactical possibilities, which always makes games more interesting. Click for larger.

It’s nice to have a quick down-and-done project, sometimes, and I’m really pleased with how these all came together. Looking forward to getting them onto a table for a pulp or Infinity game!

Tables From Last Weekend’s Infinity Tournament

We had another one-day, three round Infinity tournament this last weekend, our first of 2017. We had two players come over from Vancouver on the ferry to play with us, which was awesome, and while we only had eight players total it was a good event overall.

I did the terrain for two of the five tables, and other players put the other three together.

I didn’t get any in-play photos during the tournament, but I did get some reference shots of some of the tables when we set them up on Friday night! See the captions on each picture for a few details!

Hab Module LV4-26 Finished

First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! Hope your 2017 is full of excellent gaming, good friends, and completed projects!

On the “completed projects” note, I get to move my first completed project of 2017 off my bench and into my scenery boxes. I’ve finished painting and adding signs to the habitat module facade I started in November.

Painting in progress on the hab module, 27 December. Click for larger.

I added various spot colours of paint here and there, some hex floor tiles in front of one of the doors and a small auto-bar setup to one module, and a few window frames and other small details. Almost all of this detail was done with scrap card or plastic offcuts.

The “BAR” sign on the left is held on by a rare earth magnet embedded in the wall and another built into the frame. I printed the letters off on my computer, glued them to thin plastic card, and cut them out carefully by hand, using sandpaper and files for cleanup. The hexes are from a 1″ hex punch I bought at a craft store; the frame behind them is an offcut of 1/8″ foamed PVC plastic board. It’s double sided; the other side is identical.

After painting it was off to the computer and Inkscape to create a set of signs for the three commercial modules on the ground floor of the unit. The bar is “Unida Drink”; there’s a legal firm, and then the Ceres Clinic on the far right. Signs identifying this as Hab LV4-26 are on either end and above the main entrance with the hexagonal outer wall.

Hab Module LV4-26, left end. Click for larger.
Hab Module LV4-26, right hand end. Click for larger.

I’ve included (Google Translated!) Arabic and Simplified Chinese text on quite a lot of the signage I’ve created for Infinity; the Arabic and Chinese text on the Unida Drink sign reads, “You require a drink”, ie a literal translation of the English-language pun in the bar name. There’s some Spanish on there too, for fun, which reads, “Your mom drinks here”.

I might yet create a second hab module (LV4-28, perhaps?) as this one was fun to do, should be tactically interesting on the Infinity table with the balconies and doorways, and they’re an awesome source of colour and a lived-in look for a table. Need to come up with some more weird/interesting/cyberpunk-ish names for businesses!

In the next couple of days I’ll be publishing a PDF so anyone can build a small craft airlock for their science fiction gaming, and then it’s off to other projects, including getting back into some pulp scenery building in advance of 2017’s local wargaming convention season!

Merry Christmas! (with an airlock!)

Between the Christmas season and what appears to be the worst cold I’ve had in many, many years there’s not been a lot of wargaming activity here at Chez Wirelizard. I did manage to spend one sickie evening messing about with Inkscape and created a nice floor airlock piece to add some colour to the space station.

The inspiration is one part from aircraft carrier’s giant elevators and one part from science fiction (so far, least) giant cargo airlocks. The size is fairly arbitrary, 10″ long by 7″ wide, big enough to hold either of the papercraft spacecraft I’ve built recently. I started the graphic as one big piece in Inkscape then split it into two doors, printing each on a single letter-sized sheet of paper. I did a sort of blue/grey/black background with lots of hazard stripes, labels, and ID tags all over. The two door graphics got printed on full-sheet sticker paper, stuck to mattboard, then cut out. I coloured the cut edges of the paper & card with a red Sharpie pen.

Airlock doors with Muyib ignoring all the warning signs and walking across them anyway… Click for larger.
Percheron shuttle on the doors – just long and wide enough! Click for larger.

These pieces are usable as-is on the Infinity table, but the next plan is to do some edge or frame pieces to go around the doors, provide some actual cover to Infinity troopers, and add some more interest to my space station. I also have an entertaining plan for showing the open airlock when the doors aren’t closed, but stay tuned for that! I’ll also get the airlock door graphics cleaned up a bit and save them as a PDF if you want to print your own.

Back on a holiday note, I hope you had a satisfactory Christmas or whatever mid-winter holiday you celebrate, and a good New Years too!

Papercraft Spacecraft!

I’ve been calling my Infinity space station table project a space station since I started planning it, but really it’s been a collection of big walls and random bits until recently. What does a space station really need to make it feel like a space station? How about some actual space craft?

To that end I hit the excellent Genet Models site and grabbed a bunch of the free papercraft scenery PDFs there. Genet is Christopher Roe’s site; he used to sell his PDFs under the Ebbles Miniatures and then Genet names but these days he gives them away for free!

First I printed and built the basic Utility Shuttle in red. There’s a lot of grey and white on my space station table, I wanted something solidly colourful! The Utility Shuttle is only five parts – nose, body, tail, two wings – and quite straightforward to put together. The only issue I had with it was the central body piece was kind of loose and floppy to put together. I’d printed everything on 65lbs light card; it might have been easier to put together with heavier 90 or 100lbs card. Once it’s assembled it’s all solid, though. I left off the landing skids that are supposed to elevate the shuttle off the ground, to make it more obviously a Line of Sight blocker during Infinity games.

All five subassemblies for the red Utility Shuttle. Click for larger.

To cover the white strip that the landing skids are supposed to be glued to, I cut part of each landing skid up and glued it straight over the strip.

Completed red Utility Shuttle. Infinity Muyib infantry on 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

The second build is the VU-22 Percheron, a light shuttle/dropship. It’s only available in military colours, although there’s really nothing obviously military in it’s lines. I might try re-colouring the white/black prototype version to get some civvie colours going, but for now I printed off the tan/sand coloured standard version.

This is a more complex build with about 20 parts, some of them smaller and somewhat complex, but I actually found this an easier build overall than the Utility Shuttle. It’s a more recent design than the Utility and better engineered, with some internal bracing on potentially floppy and troublesome parts to assist with assembling. It’s about the same size, roughly, as the Utility Shuttle (I’ll post a group shot soon, don’t have one currently) but more complex, more interesting, and with better proportions than the chunky, simple Utility Shuttle design. I didn’t watch much of the new Battlestar Galactica TV show when it was on the air a few years ago, but a friend pointed out the Raptor inspiration for the Percheron.

Percheron major subassemblies laid out. Click for larger.
Percheron assembled, front view. Muyib for scale again. Click for larger.

Most of the Percheron’s parts count is actually in the back end engine and tail assembly. The engine cones and tail pieces are a bit fiddly to assemble but look great when done.

Percheron tail view. Muyib for scale again. Click for larger.

There don’t seem to be that many generic papercraft shuttles, dropships, or other wargaming-scaled spaceships available, so it’s awesome that Genet is making their PDFs available for free. There’s a bunch more spacecraft available there, including the massive VT-3 Pinzgauer cargo shuttle, that I might yet build up to decorate Infinity tables with, as well as some smaller details like cargo-handling exoskeletons and such that would make great looking “dockside” clutter around the docks and hangar bays of a space station. I’ll almost certainly be building up more Genet Models cardstock kits in the future!

Hab Module LV4-26, Part One

This shop front/apartment facade for my ongoing Infinity space station project has been inspired mostly by the depiction of some of the habitat levels of Ceres in the TV show The Expanse. If you haven’t watched The Expanse I highly recommend it, it’s good quality TV (not something I say regularly!) that depicts a hard science fiction fairly near future that nods to classic SF like Bladerunner while carving out it’s own niche.

There’s a great article on some of the concept art from Season One of The Expanse over on ArtStation, Behind The Scenes: The Concept Art of The Expanse. The piece that really inspired me was this painting showing the better-quality habitat levels on Ceres, with their stacked, clearly modular apartment blocks with small shops at ground level.

Hab levels, Ceres. Image via ArtStation. Click for larger.
Hab levels, Ceres. Image via ArtStation. Click for larger.

With the limits of storage and transport of tabletop scenery (as well as the consideration of being able to play around whatever I create!) obviously the soaring multilevel terraces of Ceres will get scaled down a bit… or a lot. I decided to stick with the 12″ long, 6″ high size of my existing big wall modules and roughly the same thickness, creating a two-story facade piece intended to go on one edge of the table.

Basic construction finished. See text for details; click for larger.
Basic construction finished. See text for details; click for larger.

The basic unit has four modules per level, each roughly 3″x3″. Left to Right on the ground floor we have a bar or fast food joint, the entry doors for the hab module itself, some sort of offices, and then a small medical clinic. The top floor is all apartments, three of which have balconies. The roofs are deliberately inaccessible to figures.

hab_2_27nov2016

The basic construction is mostly 1/8″ foamed PVC (Sintra board) which is great stuff to work with, easy to cut cleanly, sandable, and will glue with either white glue or superglue. The rest is almost all 1/16″ mattboard, the high quality cardboard used in framing pictures. I get my PVC from the offcuts bin at our local plastics supplier, and the mattboard from a local art supply/picture framing store.

With Haqqislam Muyib infantry for scale. Some detailing and lots of paint to go! Click for larger.
With Haqqislam Muyib infantry for scale. Some detailing and lots of paint to go! Click for larger.

Detailing is mostly scraps and offcuts of PVC and mattboard, with some lighter card for the window frames, tiles, and elsewhere. I still need to add bar stools around the outdoor bar on the left, a few more window frames, and some other details.

More soon, I hope to get this piece basecoated today and some more detail over the next few days!

More Space Station Pieces

One of the big wall modules I built for my Infinity space station tabletop set has a door three inches off the ground, intended to connect to catwalks or other elevated terrain. The problem with it has been that I have no catwalks or other elevated terrain, so most of the time that door just kind of hangs in space and looks weird…

I decided to start with at least one module for one side of the elevated door. I was thinking about an open stairwell, but keeping stairs inside a small enough footprint when you have 3″ vertical to cover is challenging. Instead I went with one of the acrylic kit ladders I got from Warsenal earlier this year. The rest of the construction is 1/16th mattboard – picture-framing cardboard – which is what I make almost all of my terrain from.

The vertical beams are 6″ tall, same height as the big wall modules, and the whole thing is 2″ deep (1.5″ at the platform) and 3″ long overall. I had intended to install one of my big 5″ tall by 3″ wide advertising displays across the front of the piece but looking at it, I might run a series of smaller ad displays up the two vertical pillars, because part of the point of these elevated pieces is to make the space station board more three dimensional and complex to play on.

I’ve also got a new round of advertising and other graphics in progress, including new versions of the utility and emergency lockers. More on all of that soon!