Where does it go? Painted board edges for Sellswords (and other games)

Sellswords & Spellslingers, like a lot of similar games, often has bad guys (foes in Sellsword parlance) appear at random locations or randomly along the board edge. This process can slow down the game, so I’ve been dreaming up ways to speed it up for a while now. Given I own a 3D printer, I decided to do some designing FreeCAD to create some board edges for Sellswords, Warcry and the upcoming scifi Sellswords variant I’m working on.

Screenshot of the edges in FreeCAD

As I knew I was designing these once, I took some short cuts with my FreeCAD and just bodged it together. The base is a pair of 3″ Openlock templates, with Oxanium font and some ticks extruded onto them. Once printed and with the border corners designed and printed, I got a finished product, numbers from 1 to 35, as a Sellswords board is usually 36″x36″.

Printed but unpainted board edges and corner piece, with an empty 6″x6″ tile

And that is how they sat for many months with little action. I had a convention (BottosCon 2022) in November, so I spent a bunch of time painting up buildings but didn’t get to the edges. So they were black for that first con. Only after the con did I get a base coat of rust on them.

The rust is mostly Liquitex Burnt Sienna Acrylic, with some Liquitex Raw Sienna and Red Oxide, all sponged on to provide texture.

Which brings us to this week, where I finally got the paint job finished. I gloss coated the edges, then put down Vallejo chipping medium with an airbrush. After that was dry, I added blues – mostly Reaper’s True Blue, but also some Sky Blue and Brilliant Blue for accents – all by airbrush

All the many colours of blue!

After the blues were down, I chipped them using a tooth brush, then hand painted on some a cheap craft titanium white and rechipped them. The white nicely toned down as the chipping medium + water means the paint runs a bit.

Just before I finished, I also added some 18 to 21 edges, as we also play Warcry, which has the very strange board size of 30″ by 22″.

Where can you find the files?

I haven’t uploaded them anywhere yet, but will get them on Thingiverse shortly!

Spotting Record Cards for Naval Gaming

In all of the coastal naval rules sets that we’ve played, spotting and situational awareness are among the most important factors. Doesn’t matter how many guns you have or how good you are at shooting them if you can’t accurately spot and ID the enemy!

With a bunch of fast-moving boats on the table and a lot going on, it can be hard to keep track of who’s got a proper target spot on who, though, especially with things like the rule in Coastal Patrol that means if you fire automatic weaponry, the tracer glare off your own guns causes you to lose all your spotted targets.

We bounced a few options around, and among the simplest is that each ship or boat has a “Spot Card” and a dry erase pen – just mark the ID of who you spot down on it, if you lose spot on them, wipe their ID off.

I already use 3×4 plastic card protectors for ship record cards, so it was easy to take the same template and whip up a Spot Card to fit a 3×4 card sleeve. With that done, saving in both Letter (for North America) and A4 (for the rest of the world) PDF was trivial.

These are free to download, print, and use for personal use, as always, and I’d love to hear if these were useful for your own naval gaming!

The Workbench This Week, 28 March 2023

The workbench this week… is up and running in our new condo! We had an offer accepted at the beginning of February, got the keys ten days ago in mid-March, and are largely settled, set up, and getting on with things.

Set up in my new office/hobby lair but still looking fairly familiar. New larger cutting mat, though.

Gradually getting the painting and hobby stuff sorted and functional; the new room isn’t as large as the one at our rented place but forcing me to organize and stay de-cluttered is not actually a bad thing…

Tiny Messerschmidts for some fokkers to fly around in. (credit for that joke apparently goes to Douglas Bader…)

Decided to work through the stash of 1/1200 WW2 aircraft I got from Last Square a few months ago, starting with a trio of Bf110s and five Bf109s for the Luftwaffe to cause trouble in.

Always the random Reaper figures. Need to add some details to one or both treasure piles so they aren’t so obviously identical, but they’re neat sculpts!

I’ll be at Trumpeter Salute 2023 in Vancouver in about three weeks running a 1/1200 naval game of some sort, probably KM Schnellboote attacking an RN-defended British coastal convoy this time. This’ll be the first Trumpeter Salute since 2019 (a smaller event happened in 2022 but I didn’t get to it) so it’ll be fantastic to be back!

Storing the Fleets

When talking about masts on tiny ships recently I mentioned that my current storage solution for my fleets was, frankly, bad. This last weekend I sat down to fix that, and came up with a solution that will should preserve paint jobs and masts on all my boats and ships (and airplanes, too).

I started with a flat cardboard box which one of my Last Square orders came in, added 25mm high dividers of mat board with strips of foam glued to them, then slit the foam to allow the ends of the acrylic bases I use for all my vessels to slip in.

The first box is full, so I built a smaller box out of more mat board to hold a few of my larger merchant ships. After we move (ten days!) I’ve got a second identical Last Square box somewhere around to create a second larger fleet holder, and two of them should comfortably hold everything I’m likely to own for the next while!

The two batches of 1/1200 airplanes I’ve currently got painted and mounted are kind of tucked into the corners around the ships, and they’ll eventually need their own storage, but given that 1/1200 aircraft weigh basically nothing, I’m not concerned for now about having them a bit tangled with each other in the lower left corner of the larger box for now.

Masts & Booms, Part Two

After doing the detailing of the JMS 3d printed ships, I pulled out the rest of my 1/1200 WW2 ships, all pewter from Figurehead, and added masts to all of those ships that needed them. Most of these came with pewter cast masts that I had deliberately left off while assembling and painting these ships over the last few years as they’re incredibly fragile and my slightly ad-hoc (ie, bad) storage and transportation solution would have destroyed pewter masts in short order.

Masts all over, still needing paint. Various Figurehead pewter coastal vessels in the foreground, the JMS/Antics 3d printed larger ships background.
Stern-on view of the mast-installing session’s end. Very pleased with the masts and booms on the large coastal freighter on the right there.

Nothing special about the techniques here, just a tiny drillbit, fine tweezers, bits of plastic broom bristle, and superglue. Oh, and patience and a certain amount of bad language… The various coastal freighters all have booms alongside their masts as needed.

Overhead view. You can see the masts & booms on the two rear coastal freighters nicely here. Just for scale, the eight vessels in the center block there are all on 20mm by 40mm plexi bases. I still need to base up the JMS/Antics ships to match…

Finally, just for something else to do, I’ve got some more impossibly tiny airplanes based up! In this case, that scourge of surface targets including shipping, the Luftwaffe’s dreaded Ju87 Stuka, five of them all on 25mm wide plexi hexes, more broom bristle for their flying stands. Primer and paint on them in the next week or so, hopefully.

Stuka! Wee tiny little Stuka, anyway. A 1/1200 scale Stuka has a wingspan somewhere around 12mm across.

We are moving in the second half of March, however, so there might be a temporary slowdown of production and posting as our lives get packed up and moved across town to our new condo!

Masts & Booms

More detailing on 1/1200 scale ships with plastic broom bristle. I’ve added cargo handling booms to the masts and kingposts of two of the Antics 3d printed merchant ships.

Booms in progress, the Fort-type freighter foreground has four booms on each large mast and a boom at each kingpost midships. The Ehrenfels freighter in the back has one boom per main mast and I haven’t done the booms at either bow or stern kingposts yet.

For the mostly vertical booms at the kingposts and on the Ehrenfels I drilled holes into the deck with an absurdly tiny drill bit; the horizontal booms on the front and back decks of the Fort are just held in place with a dab of superglue at each end. On the Fort freighter I also put a radio mast immediately aft of the bridge.

The new detail all painted up.

I did the Fort freighter’s booms the same base grey as most of the ship, and the Ehrenfel’s the same ivory/off-white as her upperworks and deck. The plastic broom bristle takes ordinary acrylic hobby paint just fine.

Family portrait of the four ships I’ve added detail to so far. Left to right, we have an Antics 3d print O-class RN Destroyer, a Figurehead pewter RN Hunt II-class escort destroyer, Antics 3d print Fort/Lake type freighter, and finally the Antics 3d print Ehrenfels, a German blockade runner of early WW2 fame, all with their various topmasts, tripod masts, booms, and such done in broom bristle.

The other three Antics 3d ships will all get at least a few cargo booms, and at some point I need to pull out my main collection of Figurehead pewter ships and do the masts on those as well. The Figurehead ships come with pewter masts, but they’re terrifyingly fragile and I’ve mounted exactly none of them so far to any of my Figurehead collection!

A Word on Tools

All of this detail work was made much, much easier (really, was made possible, full stop) by an off-the-cuff purchase I made just before Christmas – a pair of inexpensive Excel brand “Slant Pointed Tweezer” superfine curved tip tweezers. Far finer than the even cheaper drugstore tweezers and well worth it if you want to do this sort of detail nonsense at 1/1200 scale!

Fine curved point tweezers. Well worth the $12 CAN at my awesome local hobby store.

Handling the super thin plastic broom bristle by hand is awkward and frustrating; the stuff is hard to even pick up off a cutting mat. I’m fairly sure I’d have given up on this detailing very early if I hadn’t snagged these at my friendly local hobby store.

Masts with Broom Bristle

A bit of experimenting today with plastic broom bristle for masts on 1/1200 WW2 ships. I’m happy to say it works well, although as expected at this tiny scale, it’s more than a little bit fiddly!

Side view. Foreground is the tripod mast on the Figurehead Hunt II destroyer escort, behind that is the Antics O-class destroyer with new topmast, and a piece of unused plastic bristle on behind that. Click for larger.

The bristles are harvested off our very ordinary kitchen broom and are some sort of black plastic. I’ve used them to mount 1/1200 airplanes and for 15mm and 28mm vehicle radio aerials in the past, and the thought of using them for more gamer-resistant ship’s masts than white metal or 3d printing would allow for was, I felt, worth exploring.

It seems to work quite well! The plastic broom bristle takes superglue nicely and is easy to work with. You can put a bend in it easily, which I had to do for the tripod mast on the Figurehead Hunt II destroyer escort, it cuts easily with a razor knife or precision hobby nippers, and I already know from previous uses that it’ll take paint just fine.

Rear view. The tripod mast on the Hunt II (right, on the craft stick) is very slightly cockeyed. I haven’t yet decided if I pull it off and trim it (or build a new one, if yanking this one off the ship ruins it…) or just live with it. Nevertheless, the basic idea works! Click, as usual, for larger.

Next up, I need to decide how many masts and booms and such I want to add to the various Antics 3d printed merchant ships I’ve been very slowly painting…

Wreck of the Z15A – Green, red and blue ships

On the wreck of the Z15A, near the Great Plain, there are three wrecks near a large lake/sea that always attract attention. The Green, Red and Blue ships are not spaceships, but rather waterborne craft from the ship’s former life, all now rusted wrecks that will float no longer.

All three can be found in The Galleries. This area, located port-side amidships, are where the structure of the ship blends seamlessly into buildings on the Great Plains itself. Many of the transportation links into the inner world start or end here, including the docks that these ships presumably used.

The Ships

All three ships are huge – the intact hull of the Red Ship is some 1000m in length, while the less intact Green and Blue ships were estimated to be in the 750 length.

Blue Ship

The most ruined of all three ships, all that is left of the Blue Ship is half a hull rotting. Large parts of this ship have apparently been cut up over the possible centuries it has been a wreck, possibly even as far back as the original inhabitants. Most of its equipment has similarly been carefully gutted, which speaks to re-purposing.

Green Ship

The Green Ship, resting on water-sodden grass, looks to have been deliberately run aground. On its hull can be found the remnants of scaffolding and work, possibly after it was run aground.

Unlike the other two ships, the Green Ship looks to have been a pleasure craft of some sort, with many features still found on terrestrial or space cruise ships today, including many open areas and more.

Red Ship

With lines that are reminiscent of an Earth-submarine during their second great war, this ship is the most intact in some ways, as the full hull is still visible. As the seas of the Great Plain are never more than a few metres deep at most (one way we know Z15A original inhabitants were not aquatic), it is unlikely the Red Ship actually was a submarine.

Inside the Red Ship is a maze of small passageways, with some decks being less a metre in height. On the side of the ship are doors that open, possibly for launching or retrieving other craft.

The Galleries

The Galleries are the main interface between the rest of the ship and the Great Plains. While other connections exist, only in the Galleries are there big enough connections to move full small ships or big equipment into the Great Plains.

The Galleries are named mostly because of the view they give – across the Great Plain. There are hundreds of km of window overlooking the Great Plain, parts of which could be considered places to rest or stop – whether to eat or not is unknown at this point.

Main Gallery

The Main Gallery is located exactly amidships on the port side, and contains the two largest airlocks on the ship, as well as a cavernous space between the two to allow transfer of materials. The outer pairs have long been breached, leaving most of the galleries open to space. But the inner pair are both intact. Each airlock was a 1 km cube of space, allowing moving all but the largest of vehicles all the way onto the Great Plain.

Wreck of Z15A #galaxy23

Today we head back to Mephistopheles Cluster and the giant wreck of Z15A. A wrecked generation ship, Z15A is so named because of where it it is – Z sector, 15th quadrant, largest object in that quadrant, according to first Terran survey of the cluster.

The Z15A main concourse – this large corridor on the very top of the ship is now open to space (Stable Diffusion)

Z15A has a number of notable features – it is huge (over 1000km long), it is apparently still sort of working (there is a breathable nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere in parts) and nobody really truly knows who originally built it.

Major parts of Z15A

In the thousands of rooms, corridors, bays and other spaces of Z15A, there are several that stand out as noteable.

Chi-nith-ra (Great Plain)

A massive space in the centre of the ship, the Chi-nith-ra or Great Plain more resembles a slice of a planet than the spaceship it is. Amazingly, this space retains both an atmosphere and heat, so can be walked around without a space suit.

Ruins of the living quarters on the Great Plain (Stable Diffusion)

During The Closing, inhabitants of several space stations retreated here as systems started failing on their stations. These humans and other species still squat here, despite all efforts to move them.

Shanty town below ruins of living quarters (Stable Diffusion)

There are three distinct settlements within the Great Plain – New Hope is a primarily Human settlement, from the major Solar Compact station as well as few outer colonies. The Halite Commonwealth has formally accepted the small remnant of Qoss and Yishk who live in Britli-kat as part of the Commonwealth, although no other power recognizes their de-facto ownership and control over this part of the ship.

Lastly the reclusive Bredensonee, a large herbivorous species that resembles a bipedal woolly mammoth, have a large settlement in the far stern end of the plain. They are a descendants of a large family ship that was caught in the cluster due to The Closing on its was to a colony world. By far the most numerous settlement (really settlements), the Bredensonee have resisted efforts by their government to resettle them of Z15A, the suspicion amongst the others who live in Z15A is that this settlement is some type of religious order who may have fled to avoid persecution, although neither they, nor the central Bredensonsee government are saying anything.

Main Concourse

Running down the centre top of the whole ship, from above the bridge at the front to the large docking bay at the rear, the main concourse is almost all open to space.

Docking and Ship Building Bays

A big part of the external parts of Z15A comprise the many docking and ship building bays that befitted a ship of this class. Most of them are empty, possibly when the original inhabitants left the ship, but some are filled with debris and parts of starships.

One of the many ship building bays, filled with junk and debris littered around (Stable Diffusion)

In the explorations of the ship, nobody has of yet found any intact small ships, but it is possible deeper in some of the bays, beyond the debris piles, there are complete starships.

Robots and other automated beasts

While Z15A is very definitely clear of any of the original inhabitants and large parts of it are open to vacuum, the ship is far from dead. The fusion reactors or whatever power the ship still function and the energy signal is very faintly detectable. Some parts of the ship retain atmosphere and heat, notably the vast inside space known as Chi-nith-ra. There are also a fair number of smaller robots that still function, some of which can pack a fair punch.

Security Bots

The stern end of the port side, beyond some empty ship building bays is an area that is shielded and still patrolled by security bots – armed with fairly primitive but highly effect lasers as well as low-velocity slug throwers. They appear to be guarding room that is approximately 500m cubed. It is on the exterior of the ship, with a large bay door that is similarly shielded and armed. Nobody has successfully entered this area and reported back, although it is possible a stealthier mission might have penetrated the defences here.

Security bots can be found scattered throughout the rest of the ship as well, although most are inactive. They appear near what look like former weapons installations (all removed or destroyed) or in a few of the small craft hangers

Cleaning and Repair Bots

Far more numerous are the cleaning and repair bots that function in some parts of the ship. These vary in size from the size of a bread box to large vehicle size, depending on the area. Most of these are harmless, although some malfunction and their tools can be harmful or even lethal.

The Great Plain has a variety of robots that work around it – underneath in the passageways that service the ecosystem

Cliffside monastery of Sheksha-kah on Halite #galaxy23

Today we find ourselves on Halite, the namesake planet of the Halite Commonwealth and homeworld of two separate intelligent species – the related lizard-like Qoss and the snake-like Yishk. On Halite is the cliffside monastery of Sheksha-kah, a famous religious centre in the commonwealth and a common retreat location for the wealthy and powerful to avoid unwanted notice or rehabilitate their image.

The Myth of Othaos

Perched high above the seas below on a narrow ledge, the monastery was founded by famous Halite scholar and skeptic turned prophet Othaos. They (neuter gender Qoss) famously boasted that “The gods don’t exist” and lead a group of atheist scholars that were seeking to unseat the orthodoxy.

Legend says (as told by Othaos themselves) that they were on a small boat travelling to Scorzetti when a massive, unseasonable storm suddenly descended upon their little ship. Soon all hope for control was lost as the heavy waves and wind pounded them. For hours the storm raged, pushed them closer and closer to the menacing cliffs they were pushed. Othaos said they prayed to the Goddess Sheksha of the Light Moon (the larger of the two of Halite’s natural satellites) in his time of need.

Othaos’ ship founders in the storm, as the light moon breaks through the clouds (Stable Diffusion)

Shortly after midnight , the Light Moon broke through the clouds and illuminated them, pointing them at a gap in the cliffs. Through that cliff was a small protected beach and stairs up to the ledge high above the seas. Through skillful navigation, the small ship found its way on the beach, nearly swamped.

Othaos promised then and there to build the grandest monastery on Halite, the building that now stands on the ledge to this day. How much of this tale is true is left up to the reader.

Adventure Hooks

As the monastery often hosts the wealthy and powerful who are looking to avoid some public scrutiny or atone for a public failing, the possibilities for adventures include smuggling people or goods out of the monastery, a covert assassination or similar nefarious things. The monastery can only be reached by foot – either up Othaos’ cliffside route or the newer path alongside the cliff. Both are under easy view of the monastery staff at all times, so any party would need excellent skills and some luck to pull off an action. Conversely, if defending the monastery the powerful storms that whip up in the seas below it often prevent easy reinforcements, so if players are defending the monastery, they might need to hold for quite some time with limited resources.

Authors Note: The above is also being rolled into an upcoming Sellswords & Spellslingers source booked tentatively called The Free Cities of the Rift, a Venice-like city in the world of Norindaal

Wargaming & Such (formerly Brian's Wargaming Pages)