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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
I was going to do a piece on the Halite Commonwealth capital city today, but I thought I would detour with a stop at Sonnoros, a Saturn-like planet in the Halite system home to the intelligent Zennanesh race, a very large floating jellyfish-like species.
Native hydrogen breathers and from a gas giant, Zennanesh are the first known intelligent species of their type in the galaxy.
Sonnoros also hosts the Halite Legislature (somewhat similar to how the European Union or South Africa used to function, where the executive is hosted in a different city from the legislature)
As most player characters aren’t capable of either flying or breathing hydrogen, adventures in Sonnoros will be limited to either the main floating stations – often mining stations for rare elements in Sonnoros’ atmosphere, or meeting points. Although the Halite Commonwealth is stable, wealthy and safe, even the richest places have their underbelly.
Players have been approached to smuggle some goods off of a mining platform. They have to move the objects across the table to the airlock (and their ship). The loading dock is busy with civilians, so lethal force is not allowed. Players must create distractions so the port police don’t notice what they are doing.
Today we turn to an odd enigma – the Mephistopheles Cloud – named for the swirling colours and massive graveyard of ships and space stations that dot the cloud.
An area of space around 1/4 of the AU across, the Mephistopheles Cloud is home to some 15 warp gates and at last catalogue, some 90 years ago, 524 individual space stations or ships, most of which are abandoned. Both Solar Compact (Earth and most of the solar system) and the Halite Commonwealth maintain active stations here, as this is a waypoint to just about anywhere else.
The mystery comes in – how did the warp gates end up here? Nearly every else that has warp gates is by a major gravitational feature – a star or something similar. It wasn’t until after The Opening that a chance discovery lead to the finding of the grooves in space. Somebody dragged every warp gate from the systems many light years around to this cloud. And that “dragging” left telltale grooves in the universe.
The biggest ship here is the generation ship Z15A. Massing millions of tonnes and some 1000 km long, this is a remnant of an alien race leaving their dying sun.
Players are tasked with retrieving a lost scavenger party. The ship retains power through fusion generators, so many of the automated systems are still active. Foes include sentry robots and automated cannons, while stasis traps catch the unwary.
Like a fool, I (Corey) am throwing myself into #dungeon23 to build a galaxy for my upcoming Sellswords & Spellslingers scifi rulset. I’ll be creating a planet or so a week, with locations added each day
Today we visit, Hicanede, a mining colony famous for its incredible snowstorms and deep orange sky. The planet is incredibly rich in minerals that are rare elsewhere, and most of those deposits are easily accessible right below the surface. Massive open pit mines dot the planet, some recent and still being worked, others abandoned at various stages, including some after The Closing (the event when most warp gates closed at the same time)
Strange radio transmissions have been received from a long-closed mine. Players will need to investigate it. The mine was abandoned well before the Closing, but has been worked intermittently since then.
Foes include corrupted zombies, potentially also including a rival salvage crew.
The Closing (added Jan 3rd)
Travel in our galaxy involves using warp gates – instantaneous travel between linked pairs of gates, usually in solar systems. Most of these gates can be found in the 5 to 10 AU range from the star (between Jupiter and Saturn), although they have been found inside stars and scattered throughout the galaxy.
The event now known as The Closing actually began about 10 years before the event itself, as astrocartographers began noticing gates fluctuating and blinking on and off, initially seemingly at random.
A year or so before the closing, the blinking began happening consistently, each gate closing for 48.61 minutes at a time. The discovery that this was 1/1200 of the rotation time of the pulsar X-45JB was discovered by the AIs at the Martian National Radio Observatory, observing this strange pulsar with an orbital period of days rather than seconds.
The Closing is now known to have begun with X-45JB stopping for a full rotational cycle. At that very moment, around 75% of all gates shut. And stayed shut, for nearly 75 years. The chaos this caused is incalculable. Billions are believed to have died in the upheaval that followed, as stellar nations suddenly became chopped apart. Many newly settled worlds failed, as the lack of new people and resources meant they didn’t come.
And then, just like they closed, the gates reopened. It is now 3 years since that event and people and ships are flooding through the reopened gates. Alliances and wars are being fought over territory, while many planets are still as of yet officially unrecontacted.
Just about any type of adventure is possible now. Earth and the Solar System, long self-sufficient, weathered the closing well. Charismatic leadership kept the Solar System intact as a single political body. Similarly, the Halite Commonwealth got extremely lucky – only 1 of the 5 gates for their main planets of Speibahi and Dreglo shut, meaning they expanded quickly. However, hundreds of other planets exist in states from totally uninhabited through to struggling with pre-warp or pre-space tech.
I’ve got the week between Christmas and New Years off entirely this year, so there’s been a bit of painting going on. Mostly I’ve been working on the 3d printed WW2 ships from Antics, as well as a few fantasy bits just for fun.
The ships are coming along nicely, although the larger ones are slow going – so many details to paint around! The four U-boats in the foreground are basically done, unless I decide to do a bit of pin washes to pop the few details a bit more.
The larger vessels are all at least basecoated, although several are going to need a second pass as I realize I missed bits on the first pass. The two Royal Naval vessels (a Hunt DE foreground and “O” Class Destroyer behind) will get some sort of camo paint and the German KM T13-class torpedoboat might also get some, although it’s unclear to me if the Kreigsmarine ever actually did anything other than plain grey on most of their torpedoboats and destroyers.
On the non-naval side, I’ve got little group of Reaper fantasy figures. An armed ghast/ghost/haunt, a pack rat, and a pair of treasure markers. Not much to see here yet, but for those of you not into ships, here you go!
Happy Holidays, everyone, and hope the tail end of 2022 and the start of 2023 are good to you and yours.
Antics, a UK model/toy shop, carry a small range of resin 3d printed 1/1200 WW2 ships under the John’s Model Shipyard name. There are a lot of pre-painted very expensive 1/1200 or 1/1250 model ships out there (Antic stock a lot, just for starters!), a couple of ranges of pewter kits, but big gaps in the market for kits for this scale.
The JMS line goes all the way up to aircraft carriers, battleships, and battlecruisers, wildly beyond ships suitable for typical coastal forces engagements as we’ve been doing here (although Italian MAS boats did engage RN cruisers in the Med, and the Channel Dash saw RN MTBs attempt attacks on Scharnhorst and company…), but there are destroyers for multiple navies and some very useful freighters, tankers, and such.
Unfortunately the Antic’s site search function doesn’t seem to have a way to bring up all the JMS products all at once – even searching for “model shipyard” only gets you a few of them, so you have to pick through each WW2 ship collection.
Shipping cost was reasonable and took about two weeks from the UK to Western Canada, which is pretty typical. UK companies are good at mail order and the Royal Mail->Canada Post trans-Atlantic pipeline is still pretty efficient!
Everything arrived nicely packaged, with each ship in a small custom-cut cardboard box/wrapper, all of those bundled in bubble wrap inside another cardboard box. Each hull was taped to one side of their box with a bit of double-sided tape on the hull bottom and there was no damage in shipping, despite some of the 3d printed resin details like masts, vents, and lifeboat davits being very, very tiny indeed.
The four U-boats came in a little hard plastic case, held down by another bit of double-sided tape.
These are very nice crisp 3d resin prints, with details like gun barrels, lifeboat davits, and vent stacks printed incredibly fine – much finer than you could get with pewter or resin casting.
Of the four merchants, only the Fort/Lake freighter is armed, with a gun tub on a raised platform on the bow and another on the roof of the stern deckhouse. I’ve never been terribly strict about WYSIWYG on miniatures but someone on Shapeways does do 1/1200 gun tubs if you wanted to arm up some of these ships…
The liner Athenia is a fun addition to the fleet – not likely to be on the table much compared to the freighters and warships but there’s basically zero other tabletop quality passenger liners out there that I’ve found.
In 1/1200 scale 1 real world inch is 100 scale feet (1200 inches), which is a nice easy conversion to remember. Accordingly, a 400ft long ship would be 4″ long. Athenia comes out to about 5.25″ long, Ehrenfels slightly shorter at almost exactly 5″, the T2 tanker just under that, the Lake/Fort freighter at about 4.25″, the RN O/P-class destroyer at just under 3.5″, and finally the four Type VII U-boote at around 2.25″. Far as I can tell these are all correctly scaled, or close enough for jazz!
In theory all of the ships need additional topmasts, cargo booms, and such added. If I do add them, I’ll use plastic broom bristle as that should be far more gamer-friendly (and more resilient to damage!) than plastic rod or fine stiff wire. I might well leave them with just the 3d printed mast they came with, to be honest. They’re gaming models, not static showpieces.
I threw the U-boats into the order just for the heck of it, but they’re neat little models. You get four slightly different versions of the Type VII Uboote, with original conning tower, with No. II style conning tower, with No. IV style conning tower, and “Flak” with the extra AA gun platform. The 3d printed periscopes are incredibly fine and even if I don’t add cargo booms and such to the ships, I might well swap out the periscopes with broom bristle or superfine brass wire as being more resilient than the 3d printed resin will be!
The prices were comparable to or cheaper than pewter models of similar size (the pewter Liberty freighter from Last Square, for example) and less expensive than similarly detailed 3d prints from Shapeways. As mentioned above about the Athenia, JMS cover some vessels not commonly found elsewhere, so I was happy with these and might well order some more in the future. There’s a decent variety of Royal Navy WW2 vessels in the John’s Model Shipyards line (search here for ‘kit’ or ‘John’), a few German WW2, another few Japanese (mostly cruisers or battlecruisers for the two Axis navies), and a Liberty freighter to round things out. Nothing yet for the French, Italians, or (the biggest surprise) the Americans, but hopefully the range keeps expanding in the future. Personally I’d love to see more destroyers, corvettes, frigates, and similar, as those ships worked alongside coastal forces boats fairly regularly and that’s going to stay my main focus. Whoever is doing the 3d design work at JMS seems to know their stuff, know the limits of the 3d printer they’re using, and get a really nice level of detail on their ships!
To round out the current run of small scale scenery for coastal naval games I decided on a trio of islands, one of them with a lighthouse.
As with the rest of these small scale naval terrain pieces the base is .040/1mm styrene plastic card, bought in bulk from my local plastic supplier, with the edges shaped and sanded.
The basic structure was more quarter inch cork board, in larger pieces than I used for the rocks. I broke pieces of cork by hand and shaped the edges mostly with my fingernails.
The beaches are premixed patching plaster, applied with a wet sculpting tool and mostly smoothed with a wet fingertip. The concrete jetty on the mid-sized island is a little sliver of styrene plastic square rod.
The paint is my usual ocean scenery set – a blue-green for the water, Camel and Parchment for dark and light sand, and the rocks were drybrushed up from black with a dark grey, a pale grey, and finally pure white. The flattish areas of the islands that will eventually be flocked green were painted brown.
For drybrushing, incidentally, I highly recommend heading to your local dollar store/pound shop/etc and getting a set of cheap makeup brushes. They’re fantastic for drybrushing and available in a variety of sizes.
The water got the usual treatment, several coats of gloss varnish with a minimum of 24hrs drying time between each coat, and then acrylic gloss gel for waves and water texture, as detailed in the previous articles in this series. After all the water stuff was thoroughly dry I attached the lighthouse with superglue and did a quick flocking job with two or three different flock mixes.
These took a bit longer than I’d planned, due mostly to drying times of all the paint, water effects, and such, but they came out great and I look forward to them being a damned nuisance during 1/1200 naval games for many years to come!