Friday, 30 December 2011

Sherlock Holmes, Atlantis, and... Dwarves?

Inspired by the latest round of the Robert Downey Jr/Jude Law Holmes & Watson caper ('Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows', available at all good Kinematographic Projection Emporia and Electric Theatres), especially as it seemed to be set exactly 120 years before I watched it (like the Atlantis campaign over at the Lead Adventure Forum) I decided it would be fun to tie the two together in order to round off the Atlantis capmaign.

As a result, I uploaded this, from the London Evening Messenger of December 20th, 1891, to the LAF site, with the rest of the text as it (somewhat inexplicably) breaks off with "... German E ..." and then stops. "Empire" of course. And then some more words, which you'll have to visit LAF to find out about, probably.

Anyway and such, the idea had entered my head of there being a peace conference at Reichenbach, where the fate of the Interventions on Atlantis was to be decided. And so it is; for the next few days at least, the Castle of Reichenbach will play host to a peace conference involving Britain, France, Russia, Germany, USA, CSA, Japan, China, Spain, and the Caliphate of Khosind (a small North African state which declared its independence from France some years ago, apparently), all of which have forces in the field in Atlantis, and at the very least Austria-Hungary, which doesn't, but is keen to discuss among other topics the Ruritanian Question.

So if there is to be Peace in Our Time, with Chancellors and Prime Ministers flying by aeronef back and forth carrying pieces of paper bearing the forged signatures of heads of state, it may be that I can finally draw the Atlantis Campaign to a close. Which brings me to the subject of Her Majesty's Native Forces, enlisted as soldiers of the Queen during the campaign. I have gotten a few steps closer to finishing them, and would like to present, for the first time anywhere, a sketchy but still colourful Daguerrotype of the Morlock Allied Native Infantry Corps (part of the Combined Atlantean Rifle Brigade).

Wearing old kit from the Zulu War and only now retrieved from storage, they are a little out of place in the brash modern world of 1891, but I don't really mind that much. They'll make a fine addition I think to the Thin Red Line (or in their case, the Quite Short but Stought Red Line).

Plans obviously are now to base them, and stat them up for GASLIGHT - shouldn't be too hard, they may be Dwarves, but they're British Dwarves, don'ch'know?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Medals galore!

In attempting to sort out the Victorian histories of various fictional characters, I've looked at two, to start with, General Melchett (Blackadder) and Lance-Corporal Jones (Dad's Army).

General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett:

info from Wiki here: and the discussions here:

Victoria Cross, the Order of the Bath (KCB), Distinguished Service Order

the campaign medals, which are worn in order of the campaign for which they are awarded: the South Africa Medal awarded for service in the Anglo-Zulu War. Next is the red-green-red of the Afghanistan Medal (1878-80)

the East and West Africa Medal, awarded from services in the region from 1887 onward; the blue-and-white Egypt Medal (1882-89); the Khedive's Star, which was awarded by the Khedive of Egypt to personnel who also qualified for the Egypt Medal; the red-green-red-green-red of the India Medal (1896).

Queen's South Africa Medal (1899), King's South Africa Medal, India General Service Medal, the 1914 Star

Corporal Jones:

info from here:

Joined the army as a drummer boy in 1884; Mahdist War in the Sudan (1884–1885) - Egypt Medal (1882–1889), Khedive's Sudan Medal (1882–1891)

the British Reconquest of Sudan (1896–1899) - Queen's Sudan Medal (1897), Khedive's Sudan Medal (1897)

the Boer War (1899–1901) - Queen's South African War Medal(1899–1902), King's South African War Medal (1901–1902)

He also once formed part of a Guard of Honour for Queen Victoria.

the First World War (1914–1918)- 1914 Star (or 1914–15 Star), British War Medal, Allied Victory Medal, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Occasionally he mentions fighting the Pathans in the North-West Frontier (he is probably referring to either the Second or the Third Anglo-Afghan War)... India Medal(1895–1902), India General Service Medal (1909) and then WWI medals.

I have assumed he cannot have served in the Third Anglo-Afghan War as he was invalided out of the Army in 1916, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War was fought in 1919. But the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80, in which Sherlock Holmes's companion Dr Watson was injured) was before Jones joined up. However, there were numerous campaigns and actions from 1888-1908 in the North-West Frontier Province, especially between 1895-1902, and Jones could have been involved in more than one of these.

There is thus a close correspondence between Melchett's and Jones's medals - if as I have assumed the 'Khedive's Star' is the same as the 'Khedive's Sudan Medal' etc.

A list of correspondences is as follows (sadly as I can't sort out the formatting it's a little difficult to read):

Melchett / Jones / Year(s)
Egypt Medal / Egypt Medal / 1882-89
Khedive's Star / Khedive's Sudan Medal / 1882-91
East and West Africa Medal /(none) / 1887-1900
India Medal / India Medal / 1895-1902
(none) / Queen's Sudan Medal / 1896-98
(none) / Khedive's Sudan Medal / 1897
Queen's South Africa Medal / Queen's South Africa Medal / 1899-1902
King's South Africa Medal / King's South Africa Medal / 1901-02
India General Service Medal / India General Service Medal / 1908-1935
1914 Star / 1914 or 1914-15 Star / 1917 or 1918

These military careers are very similar, in many ways. Apart from the years 1890-99 they seem very close, and even in this period both served in India (receiving the India Medal) and in Africa (Jones took part in the relief of Omdurman in 1898, Melchett received the East and West Africa Medal for service in Africa sometime between 1887-1900). It is possible that they served together? We will perhaps never know. But once I've collated this info with the information about fictional British regiments, I might have a few answers...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

WIP Aetherine hero

I completely forgot to post the WIP of Sergeant Jack Ironbridge, heroic Sergeant of the Aetherines of the Royal Aeronautical Corps, in his experimental battlesuit.


... here he is.

When I looked at the photo I saw a couple of bits where I was a bit messy with the Aetherine blue - but needless to say I didn't notice on the model, as I am an old man with bad eyesight.

I'm hoping that his comrades of the Aetherines will be making an appearance soon... but regular readers of this blog will not, I trust, be holding their collective breath waiting for them to appear, they are behind the Dwarves in the queue. That's right, the UNIT troops were a rush job. I pushed them through the system especially fast. Only about 7 months...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Polls have closed, the masses have spoken

Thanks to those who voted in the 'Name my UNIT commander' poll - 4 of you means a 33% turn out which isn't bad I guess! - the extremely difficult tallying has gone ahead and the result is a resounding victory for 'Commadore Archibald Frazer Lethbridge Stewart'.

I'm very glad, as that's the answer I favour too. That means in a stunning reversal of tradition, I'm not going to ignore this result and do what I think is best anyway! I'm going to respect it and do what I think is best anyway!

Hopefully there will be more shenanigans soon, I've been a bit busy of late, but, it was ever thus...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Name my UNIT commander

Good morning chaps and chapesses, I'm currently running a poll, to see what you think of naming my commander for my UNIT:1891 force. I want him to reference the Brigadier of course, so I've decided he has to be a Commadore, which it the naval rank equivalent to Brigadier. He also should be a Lethbridge-Stewart, I reckon. I can't decide if he should be Alexander Cameron Lethbridge-Stewart or Archibald Frazer Lethbridge-Stewart.

Of course you may think neither of these names suits the (probably great-) uncle of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, or indeed you may have a much better idea for someone to lead my UNIT troops. In which case, please add any suggestions below, thanks.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Victorian history of Blackadder characters... and others

The series 'Blackadder Goes Forth' contains various references to the military of the Victorian era that I thought would be fun to put into my games.

The first thing to be sorted is the early career of General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, who seems, at the time of the First World War, to be in his 50s or maybe early 60s (indeed, consulting the discussions of his medals on his wiki page, it is suggested Melchett may first have served in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879). This would put his likely date of birth around 1857-60, plenty old enough to be an officer in 1890-95, the period between the Atlantis campaign (1890-1) and 'Rivets and Whimsey' (1895). So, 'Captain Melchett' perhaps? There's somewhere to start... I had imagined that perhaps he could serve in an infantry regiment (perhaps the Trumptonshires, or maybe the Great Western Rifles), but on reflection a Guards Regiment seems a better idea - maybe one of the fictional Guards Regiments from the lists...

Edmund himself, we're told, first saw action with the 19th/45th East African Rifles, at the Battle of M'boto Gorge, in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso, actually in West Africa; perhaps the 19th/45th EAR were stationed in Nigeria) in 1892. Thus, he's too young to have served in Atlantis. In the book of scripts 'Blackadder, the Whole Damn Dynasty' however, there are hints that other Blackadders besides our WWI hero have joined the British Army; so I've hypothesised an uncle for Edmund, 'Uncle Eddy', who would be born about 1864, enlisted 1884, and at the time of the Atlantis campaign would be a Lieutenant. It is perhaps to this inspiring uncle that we can attribute the later Edmund's desire to join up and see the world.

There must of course be a Private Baldrick, born around 1865, who I decided for no really good reason should be called Thomas, known as Herbert.

I also thought it would be nice if other British sitcom characters could appear; (Lance-)Corporal Jones from 'Dad's Army', approximately 70 in 1940, would have been born around 1870 (his wiki page claims it was 1870 and he joined up as a drummer-boy in 1884), and would have been old enough to go to Atlantis - as a private, of course, he didn't make Corporal until the South African Wars, I don't think. The photo shows him in a not-very accurate parade uniform, perhaps even that of a fictional regiment... As both General Melchett and Corporal Jones display medals from their previous service, it might be fun to work out if they served in the same theatres at all...

On the piece of paper that these notes are derived from, there is also the note "unexpected Japanese attack on Poole Harbour". This probably relates to the idea of having Melchett command a company of the 'Great Western Rifles'.

Underneath that it says:
*Defence of Walmington-on-Sea?
I suspect that might be from the threat of Prussian invasion.

Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser.

(all photos in this post copywright BBC, used without permission under fair use conventions)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Adventures of UNIT...

Members of UNIT are called to investigate a strange object that has appeared overnight in a Sussex field...

Sergeant Benton, clutching his Galvanic Projector, approaches the alien device, while Old Jeb looks on warily...

Are you sure that's a good idea, Commadore Lethbridge-Stewart?

The Commadore suddenly remembers an important engagement he must attend in Godalming...

Re-establishing order, a stand-off ensues...

Saturday, 27 August 2011

WIP shots of my various forces

Apologies for the bad lighting, but in the end I figure that bad photos are probably better than no photos.

This was the state of my painting tray about 3 or 4 months ago, round about mid-May. Since then very little has happened (a few arms glued on, that sort of thing) but hopefully more will occur this weekend (and it'll be months before the pics surface, probably...)

First up are the members of UNIT - the Uniformed Naval Infantry Territorials - who will sport rifleman green uniforms and khaki Glengarry caps, as a nod to the 'classic' look of UNIT in 1970s episodes of Dr Who, as modelled by the second and third chaps in the first column. Part of the point of the photo was to demonstrate the relative lack of poses with the Wargames Factory figures. Two Body types, and two rifle positions, and two head designs, means 8 basic figures. There are a couple of 'loading' arms, and I've used one to make a chap actually loading his rifle (I can never remember if these are Lee-Mitfords or Martini-Henries) and another I've used to give the sergeant an alien or future-technology weapon.

Close up of the UNIT sergeant (Sergeant Benton, I did think of making him Petty Officer Benton but then decided that he could have a Royal Marine rank instead) with his 'Galvanic Projector' AKA lightning gun (AKA laser rifle, though the concept makes no sense in the late 19th century). It's bodged from two bits of sprue, and yeah, maybe it looks it. Never mind, these are toys for playing games with.

Some of my Victorian characters in various states of paintiness - the first two columns are all from Ironclad, third column is Westwind and fourth is Artizan. I tried to show how they all look next to each other but it doesn't work very well.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Martian Wars, 1881-1927

This is my overall scheme of warfare in the late 19th-early 20th century that underlies my VSFery. Of course, I reserve the right to change any and all details as I see fit...

The 'First Martian War', 1881; Martian Invasion of Earth (this is the War of the Worlds incident, lasting a couple of months)

'Second Martian War', 1886-1895; Earth nations, particularly British (as they have best access to Martian technology and eventually start to work out interplanetary travel) invade Mars - this is a colonial scramble leading to diferent competing zones of influence and control, but is fairly short-lived as war is hard to sustain at such a distance and colonies continue to slowly develop

'Third Martian War', 1909-16; this is more of a series of space-battles, between the Aether Fleets of Britain and Russia versus France and Austria (and allies of all of these) for control of the aether between Earth and Mars, and over territorial rights in outlying parts eg the Asteroid Belt

'Fourth Martian War', 1921-27; Re-invasion by Britain of Mars, to combat Franco-Austrian gains, but both Russian and Austrian ('The Astro-Hungarian Empire') zones (especially in the Asteroid Belt) are in revolt.

Now, what's happening on Venus in this time is...

The Ruritanian Succession, Part 1

Well, now, how will this work? According to the 'history' we have, Flavia is the last reigning monarch of Ruritania - at least, the last we know about, up to the end of 'Rupert of Hentzau'*. I'm not counting Haythorne's 'The Strelsau Dimension' (1981), Simon Hawke's 'The Zenda Vendetta (Time Wars 4)' (1985) or Spurling's 'After Zenda' (1995), partly because I've never read any of them, and partly (at least in Hawke's and Spurling's cases), because it's not 'our' Ruritania, being variously in the Balkans and Carpathians. Haythorne gets Ruritania in more or less the right place it seems. Maybe worth picking that one up from somewhere.

WIP shot of random Artizan Texas Ranger (painted as generic cowboy) with Westwind Tsarina, Tsar and Zendarian Vampire Hunter; aka, in this context, Queen Flavia, her potential cousin Albert (of Molvania? Of Graustark? Of Strackenz?) and Kolonel von Sanf-und-Schinkel

There's a non-canonical Holmes & Watson story called 'The Seven Percent Solution' by Nicholas Meyers (1974). This sets the action of 'Zenda' in 1891. An additional possibility is a book that I've only just discovered called 'Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair' by David Stuart Davies(2007). Curioser and curioser...

And there's always 'Royal Flash' by George MacDonald Fraser of course.

Anyway, at the moment there's little we know about the Ruritanian monarchy after the death of Rudolf V (who is, as we now know, Rudolf Rassendyll). Flavia continues to rule; some time later 'Rupert of Hentzau' is published. Finding the gap in time between 'Prisoner' and 1898 (publication of 'Rupert of Hentzau') is something of a matter of taste.

Fritz von Tarlenheim relates the story to his son, of whom there is no hint in the novel: we are left with the impression that the events of 'Prisoner of Zenda' take place some 14 years or more before the time of writing 'Rupert of Hentzau'. If, as we may suspect, publication of Fritz's memoir was swift, we may believe it was written around 1897; if Fritz's son had not been born at the time (as seems reasonable), the events of 'Hentzau' would be around 1886 at the latest (though of course, they could have been several years earlier). The latest date for 'Zenda' is thus c1883. The only times that they must post-date are the building of the railway line from Dresden to Strelsau (around 1840 - actually, having checked this, the first part of the line from Dresden to Prague was opened in 1848), 1848 (when riots burn down the White Palace in Strelsau) and 1852 (the Second Empire in France; Rassendyll has an 'Imperial' beard of a style fashionable in France after this period).

So at some point after 1852, and before 1883, the events of 'Zenda' take place. After that is where it gets tricky.

*However, both PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh refer to an 'ex-King of Ruritania' who works as a doorman at Barribault's Hotel. As Waugh is also a source for the Royal Corps of Halberdiers (of which more to come) and the Loamshire Regiment, as well as other fictional regiments; and Wodehouse is the source for things that definitely exist in the 1920s yet to come, their credentials check out. So we know that there must have been another ruler of Ruritania after 1898. Either a new husband for Flavia (seems unlikely, frankly) or some distant cousin, perhaps? What about some relative descended from Osra's brother (Henry? The one who left anyway), or perhaps from the House of Graustark even?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Orc does some painting shock, no pictures not so much of a shock

Well, this month I actually managed some painting. Unfortunately as far as my current list of projects goes, it wasn't my gaming stuff I was painting.

Firstly, a 1:1 scale terrain project, to whit, the house. Redecorating upstairs has meant 1-any paintbrush I've been using has been far too big for minis, and 2-all my gaming stuff is currently in boxes in the loft. Curse you nice looking house!

Secondly, and somewhat more congenially, because it was outside on a sunny day with my friend Lyracian, I spent a very pleasant Thursday afternoon undercoating 50 rather funky Mantic undead (see the whole Mantic range at their site here), as the fulfillment of a birthday promise - having been skint at the time of Lyracian's birthday, and as he had a Tyrannid army in need of painting, I gave him a token entitling him to an afternoon painting session. A few months later and he's moved on from 'nids to skeletons, but never mind, I finally got to help him turn some lead (or rather plastic) into slightly-more-painted plastic. Hopefully, he'll finish them soon and put the results up on his blog (Tales of a Gamer, somewhere over on the left...)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Yet another month or more goes by...

...and an odd six weeks or so it's been since my last update.

A couple of days after I last posted, my friend Rob Marriott died suddenly. An artist, a gamer and a thoroughly nice bloke (as well as a maker of a fine cup of tea), Rob was also, through his insistence that I should play Warmachine, the guy that turned me on to the lovely minis produced by Privateer.

Thus, in a very real way, Rob is one of the inspirations for this blog, because it was in part my conversations with him about minis and gaming in general that lead to me kicking around the ideas that became the genesis of 'Rivets and Whimsy', and pretty directly the Warmachine minis have been an influence on my thinking about Victorian gaming, technology and aesthetics - hence some pics of them on this very page.

I never did play Warmachine with him, and I will always regret missing that opportunity. Farewell, Rob, I hope you're having a blast wherever you might be now.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Things and stuff

Well, May has almost departed us and hardly has my paintbrush touched paint in the last 6 weeks or so, such have been the demands of what I laughingly refer to as 'real life'.

Here is a little teaser for what will be coming up over the next few weeks (I hope) - actually it's an old WIP shot of my much-talked-about but rarely seen Colonel Hammond-Mustard, who also doubles as one of my Ruritanian officers.

He's one of the leaders in my GASLIGHT force that I'm slowly assembling; which brings me on to the new GASLIGHT Compendium - I'm hoping to get it as soon as the hard copy is out; the PDF is already available from many a reputable online retailer.

I have managed to find another unit I can add to my forces - either pro- or anti-British, I'm not sure yet. But I managed to pick up a game called "Impact" (in fact I got the expansion, "Impact - Battle for Wolf Ridge" as well) from a local charity shop. It's a funny game, there are various spring loaded weapons in the sets, and missile fire is resolved by actually firing little rubber-tipped bullets and knocking your opponents' models over; hand-to-hand is handled similarly to chess or draughts or something. But never mind, it's the figures I was after.

Within, as well as about 15 humans and some robots, armed with futuristic weaponry, there were also about 20 dino-lizardy types, mostly with weird rifles. The humans will no doubt see service for my sci-fi gaming, but the lizards might make a nice substitute for the ubiquitous Kroot Parrotmen of Cytheria that everyone seems to be doing.

There are about 15 Lizardmen similar to this, including a couple with smaller weapons. Also included in the Lizardman force were 4 larger more dino-like models with shoulder-mounted 'missile launcer' type heavy weapons, very odd affairs that seem to be made out of some kind of animal. Whether I use them as enemies or allies (perhaps Venusian Lizardmen Sepoys, for instance), or both, is yet to be decided. They may even be found on Atlantis, I suppose. I might even be able to do an entire Atlantean engagement, Lizardmen v. Morlocks, that would be fun.

Seen here with an Ironclad Brit for scale, they seem to be fine (size-wise at least). Maybe some repainting might be in order, but frankly as I'm rubbish at painting perhaps I shouldn't bother.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Thanks to the three people who voted!

The poll as to whether I should give my walker pilot a Pith Helmet or a Glengarry Cap has now closed - and, perhaps in line with expectation, it has ended with a convincing win of 100% of the (three) votes being cast in favour of Pith Helmets.

I suppose I'd better tell you why I've decided to give him a Glengarry then.

I'm hoping to use my VSF forces primarily for Battles by GASLIGHT (BbG) games. In BbG, individual units are grouped together into commands which activate together, when their group commander activates. As my entire combined British (and allied) force for GASLIGHT consists at the moment of 11 units (though many are unpainted as yet), I thought it made sense to split the elements 3,4,4 - that's obviously the most even way to do it, and if I get round to it, I might add another unit to the '3'.

As my Aetherine Group - consisting of 10 infantry, a mechanical walker (the Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Dreadnaught I showed a few weeks ago), a steam tank (the Space Marine Rhino, likewise) and a heroic Aetherine special character in a flying armoured suit - already had four elements to it, it made sense to switch the second walker, the open-topped one I needed a pilot for, to my UNIT group, which up until that point only had two elements in it - a unit of 10 infantry, and a commanding officer.

So my entire force would be:
(Command Group 1)
Commadore Alexander Cameron Lethbridge-Stewart;
10 Uniformed Naval Infantry Territorials;
UNIT Mechanical Conveyance, 'Stormwalker';
To this, I may add a steam tank, which may be called (for reasons as yet not entirely clear) 'Mrs McNulty'

(Command Group 2)
Sergeant Jack Ironbridge, Royal Aeronautical Corps, in experimental Rapid Action battlesuit;
10 Royal Aeronautical Corps Aetherines;
Royal Aeronautical Corps War-walker 'Goliath';
Royal Aeronautical Corps Steam Tank 'Victorious'

(Command Group 3)
Colonel Reginald Hammond-Mustard;
10 troops under Major Smith, 1st Battalion the Trumptonshire Regiment;
10 troops under Captain Skarpvulder, Combined Atlantean Rifle Brigade;
10 troops under Overseer Zedeldun, Morlock Atlantean Native Infantry Corps

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Some painting, but no pics yet

I managed to get some paint onto a few minis yesterday - test schemes for my UNIT 1891 troops, and the beginnings of the scheme for my Dwarf Britannia 'Combined Atlantean Rifle Brigade'.

I've been thinking about GASLIGHT because it's my intention to actually try and play some games of it this year. To that end I've been thinking about how to build, paint and stat up my forces. 10 chaps in a unit seems like an obvious place to start, with a small number of characters.

It occurred to me that, as I'm unlikely to be playing British and Ruritanians at the same time, I might be able to get away with using some figures as either British or Ruritanian. So, along with serving as Kolonel Kartoffeln-ohne-Umlaut, my yellow-jacketed Zendarian Vampire Hunter, the chap at the bottom here (from Westwind Miniatures' Vampire Wars range) could also serve as Colonel Mustard, redoubtable British commander... similarly, his companion (not shown) with a monacle and sabre might make both a fine officer for any Molvanian Jaegers under Ruritanian command, and also (cunning use of dark green jacket and trousers here) as a leader for my UNIT troops, who have essentially a Rifle Regiment uniform. No lesser personage than Commodore Lethbridge-Stewart, UNIT's commander. I think 'Commodore' is equivalent to 'Brigadier' anyway.

I didn't find out until recently that it's thought that the dark green of the rifle regiments is thought to have been inspired by the British employment of Jaeger regiments during the American Revolution. So it sort of seemed fitting that the same figure could stand in as a commander in either army.

Because I'd also mixed up some khaki for UNIT's Glengarries, I thought I may as well get it on the Dwarfs' Pith Helmets. Not sure if it works, we'll have to see when the rest of the scheme is done (basically standard British infantry of the mid-late Victorian period - red jacket and blue trousers).

Then as I was painting a dwarf I had another idea - I have some Warhammer Dwarfs with guns, only I've never been much of a fan of using black powder weapons in Warhammer, so I wondered about making them a unit for GASLIGHT too - the Morlock Allied Native Infantry Corps. That may need more thinking about, but it does potentially mean I'll be able to field 5 units of infantry fairly quickly (redcoat Dwarfs, 'native' Dwarfs, UNIT riflemen, Aetherines, and my lovely Line Infantry from Ironclad). Quite pleased with the way my little force is developing...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Yet more excuses

Well, what do you know? Not only did I not manage to get my first entry in to the Lead Painters' League, I haven't posted any pics of my Aetherines or UNIT troops either. I can only plead being busy, but I hope to begin rectifying the situation soon. Honest.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Dilemma dilemma (please see poll)

I've set up a new poll. Why? you may ask. Or may not, it's your choice. But I'll tell you either way.

I'm having trouble deciding if my GW Sentinel scout walker should belong to my Aetherines (pilot in blue uniform, wearing Pith Helmet) or my UNIT 1891 troops (pilot in dark green uniform, wearing Glengarry).

So the choice comes down to that - UNIT or Aetherines? Glengarry or Pith Helmet? I can't even decide which head to put on until I know, I can't assemble the walker properly until I've painted the uniform... help me, oh generous souls who come visit my humble page! For without your guidance, I am as an idiot with a sack on his head.

Lists of characters for Victorian and Pulp gaming

Again a lost post (in this case, a lost list). Published August 29th 2011 (list originally composed around September 2009)

VSF characters:

Rt Hon. Algernon Plankton-Mintcake, 3rd Viscount Crumblestone

Lt. Crispin Footling-Twerp

Miss Evangeline Crumpet

Lady Penelope Waldeming-Blumers

Miss Gladys Pratt

Miss Doris Stroke

Gerry Izzard

Cherie Splagoff

Lady Dora Hurd

Lord Dougal Hurd

Kitty Stuff

Captain Horst Van Dango

Miss Daphne Negley-Jaye

These are some of the characters that inhabit Rivets' and Whimsy's universe, at least, their original names. 'Plankton-Mintcake' has become Plumstock-Moncke, Footling-Twelp is now Pootling-Twelp (a nice but dim cousin of Whimsy's). 'Miss Evangeline Crumpet' and 'Kitty Stuff' have now mutated into Whimsy herself, and Rivets' daughter Peggy. Not sure about a few of them, 'Miss Daphne Negley-Jaye', 'Gerry Izzard' and 'Cherie Splagoff' for instance sound more Pulp than VSF. Maybe I should shunt them a generation or so later. Oh well, we'll see...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Still looking for Whimsy...

It's not going too well, I still can't find a Whimsy that looks how I want her to look. However, there are some minis out there that have a liitle of Whimsy's look about them.

Front runner for me is 'Bonnie' from the Lead Adventure Online Store - she's a Ratnik design, now produced in white metal and a fine looking mini. Added to which she has a cool comapnion with a big gun. The whole bargain set is only about €8 (about £6?) too - a bargain.

Also a very nice mini (but again, not perfect for what I'm after) is this:

This is from Dark Sword minis - more pictures here.

Sadly, it appears to be $15 (about £10?) and is a bit beyond my price range I think...

Monday, 14 February 2011

More minis! Hurrah!

I've begun putting glue to plastic to get my Riflemen and Aetherines together, as well as my GW walker that's been lying around in bits. The Wargames Factory British look like they'll be OK for what I want them to do, and after a very fine chap called Mors (as detailed in this thread on the Lead Adventure Forum) gave me some heads in Glengarry Caps, I have enough to make a unit of 10 in Glengarries, which makes statting GASLIGHT units much easier I believe.

My idea is that these fellows will be a dual purpose unit - either the fictitious (but plausible) Northdale Rifles, a Victorian incarnation of one of the fictional army units in the lists; or, when I'm feeling a little more 'way out', or when Torchwood 1891 need a bit of firepower, they can be Uniformed Naval Infantry Territorials, or 'UNIT'. Their uniform I'm thinking (in an homage to the 1970s UNIT uniforms) will be green jackets and khaki caps. I did consider black with red caps like the modern iteration of UNIT, but... nah.

I also have started, with the other 10 bodies from the Wargames Factory pack, putting my Aetherines together. They will have Pith Helmets; after all, they may fall out of their airships, and bang their heads, so they need something more robust than a Glengarry cap. But on the other hand, Home Service spiked helmets might be a liablity when ballooning; hence the Pith Helmets.

I've also started the process of building the breathing apparatus for these chaps, for high-altitude assaults, or fighting on Mars or Venus. I wonder when I'll finish the experiments and actually get the minis ready... Don't hold your breath, as the saying goes.

And the walker... the Pith Helmeted Wargames Factory heads seem to fit the pilot OK; perhaps it could belong to the Aetherines.

Pictures to follow I hope soon.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hmmm, Some lost noodlings.

These were some notes that have just stayed as a draft for a very long time... published August 28th

I'm a big fan of narrative in games, and correspondingly not so much of the plot being 'You Guys are over here, Those Guys are over there, you turn up and fight'.

So, as a change from my usual mental noodling about campaigns, I've been thinking of 'mission' based games. These could be something simple like seizing a strongpoint, or something more complicated like collecting loot counters.

This is why I found the page with the 'Big List of RPG Plots' that I posted a few days ago. I was looking for inspiration for narratives to apply to games.

My idea is to try to accommodate the idea of special missions as random determinants of action in a game, representing orders from High Command as to what the purpose of the battle is. Might work, might not, but I feel it'll be fun to give it a go.

As I thought about the various possible missions, I realised that they came in two types. Some are 'army' missions, and represent the overall strategy of the battle. These would include missions to stop the enemy from overrunning positions and things like that - missions that the whole force must co-operate on to achieve.

Others are 'unit' missions, that could be accomplished by a small part of the overall force. A unit could be tasked with taking and occupying a strongpoint, while at the same time another unit could be looking for loot counters, for instance.

The two aren't mutually exclusive, missions that you could apply to a unit could also I suppose be army missions too - such taking out the enemy leader by any means necessary - but they might be a bit limited.

Anyway, I'm trying to put together a list of potential missions, to be used as 'plot drivers' in games. I'm thinking that each player could have a single 'army' mission, representing the overall strategic goal, and several 'unit' missions, representing certain battlefield conditions that need to be met.

Say, for example, the army's mission is to break through the enemy's trenches (deployment zone, defensive cordon, whatever); the 'unit' missions are to take the highest ground on the table, to disable the enemy leader, and to collect loot counters. These unit missions would be distributed among the units that the player thought most likely to be able to fulfill them.

Anyway - on with a list of potential missions that could be applied to armies, or units from those armies.

Army Missions

Break On Through
The mission is to rupture the enemy's line; the army's commander, and at least one unit at more than 50% strength, must be in the enemy deployment zone (or advanced off the enemy's side of the table?) at the end of the game.

Hold the Line
The opposite of the scenario above: the army must prevent the enemy from exiting the table via the player's own deployment zone, or alternatively deny the enemy a foothold in the player's depolyment zone.


and there my list ends. I will come back to this at some later point.

New link added

I accidently discovered a great web-page while browsing the lovely old Lead Adventure Forum, The Big List of RPG Plots. As it says on the tin, it's a list of basic plots - with some complications you can add to them - that cover the vast majority of game storylines.

I had a quick read and I think it's great. I will definitely be consulting it from time to time in future - it's a great resource!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Lead Adventure Forum and Lead Painters' League

Well, I think I have to at least try to enter The Lead Painters' League at the Lead Adventure Forum this year, even if I don't complete 10 new entries or indeed paint to a very high standard.

I'm a bit dubious as to whether I can manage to get enough done to make it worthwhile, but I plan on giving it a go. The point after all is to get more stuff painted not to get points particularly, so it doesn't really matter if I don't get all the bonuses.

Round 1 should be OK, I can finish my Cluedo characters and enter them as civilians - I need to find a good way to base them though.

Round 5, Africa, is possible - my current thinking is the Northdale Rifles vs Kapitein Jango's Boer Commandos, which would mean getting a 5 or so chaps to serve as Boers. I hope to have my Riflemen built by then, as long as I can resist showing the pics on here it should be OK.

Round 10, the film round, is very tough. Thinking of films in which 2 groups of at least 5 people face each other in a fight isn't too hard, but finding minis for that and working out how to do it over the next 13 weeks or so (while still doing everything else) is a bit tricky. Still, I've got a few ideas and I'll give it a go...

Of course, I do have a massive pile of lead (and plastic) to paint - not a single lick of paint on my Dwarf Britannia chaps, or the gorgeous figs I got from Ironclad last month. Maybe Captain Nemo and his Henchmen could be one of my entries, that might be fun...

Anyway, onward and upward, if I am ever to conquer the Lead Mountain!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Another one of those 'excuses' posts...

... real life has been getting in the way a bit. Some of it good, like my friend's 3-day stag party. Some of it less good. Some of it interesting, but very time consuming (step forward essays on re-evaluating excavations of The Breiddin hillfort, and concepts behind Anglo-Saxon memorials; and an exam into various aspects of the Iron Age). Some of it time consuming and very dull.

About the most exciting thing I've done hobby-wise in the lasy few weeks is buy some liquid poly.

Anyway, the Aetherines should be soon joining the ranks, if not of fully-paid-up soldiers of the Queen, at least of chaps in training and being kitted out. I'm determined I'm going to do something with them this week!

Oh, and the GW Sentinel that is I hope soon to become an Armoured Lancer has at least moved from the loft to the living room carpet. I really must do something about that...

Friday, 21 January 2011

This is not my picture, I wish it were. It's from Bjorn Hurri's concept work for a Steampunk Starwars project, though bizarrely it doesn't appear on his website, I found it elsewhere. Anyway, it's a great alternative representation of Leia, and also is something like how I imagine Whimsy, which is my excuse for posting it here.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Steam Devices - now in pictures!

As I said I was going to raid Orc Junior's Space Marine army for some Steam Technology (or at least temporary proxies thereof), I thought I'd share the photos:

First up is a Steam Walker, the 'Goliath', which is an experimental 2-man contraption being field-tested by the Aetherines.

Next is a Steam Tank, the 'Victorious', also being trialed by the Aetherines. I'm working on preparing stats for GASLIGHT for these, ably helped by the lovely Bullshott over at Lead Adventure Forum, as I'm hoping to actually get round to some VSF gaming this year...

Apart from the 'field trials' I hope that I'll also be able to tidy up the paintjobs on these and maybe base the Dreadnaught properly.

Yes, well, we'll see how that goes!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The 43rd (Prince Rupert's) Regiment of Horse

Not quite sure what my thinking is here, but the co-incidence of Captain Cadman serving with the above regiment is giving me ideas.

As I live in Leicester (where Prince Rupert of the Rhine led the seige in the English Civil War) and my kids are in the 43rd Leicester Scouts, the 'Fighting' 43rd (Prince Rupert's) Regiment has a certain resonance. And my kids like horse riding.

Add to that the fact that the only other noted Rupert (we'll leave Rupert Bear out of it) is Rupert of Hentzau (also a skillful rider and dashing though impetuous soldier, born near Prague, and almost certainly modelled on Rupert of the Rhine), so Prince Rupert already has a certain connection with VSF musings.

Prince Rupert's armorial bearings include a gold lion rampant on black. The 43rd Leicester Scouts have red and pale blue. I'm going to have to work on this.

Friday, 14 January 2011

2011 has begun...

...officially, with my first dose of lead of the new year.

I have received a small Ironclad order, consisting of Ironcladman, Captain Nemo, Agents H and L, and 4 Evil Henchmen.

Ironcladman will serve for the moment in Her Majesty's Royal Aeronautical Corps, as an Aetherine hero in an experimental Battle Suit.

Agent H and Agent L will be attached to the Torchwood project, seconded there from the Ministerial Investigation Bureau - no, Board is a better word for a Victorian institution I think (a secret government department tasked with overseeing paranormal investigations, known by field agents such as Torchwood as the 'Ministry of Interfering Busybodies', or sometimes something even less polite; 'Mostly, Irritating Bores' and 'Magically Incompetent Blockheads' are two other versions - I've been thinking about what 'MIB' could stand for all afternoon...).

The Captain Nemo figure (with his Evil Henchmen) will serve as an enemy of Rivets and Whimsy... damned sky-pirates. The Henchmen look like they'll also see action as Ruritanian terrorists and general fin de siecle bad guys.

And I've also snagged a copy of 'The Heart of Princess Osra', the prequel to 'The Prisoner of Zenda' - revelations about Ruritanian history will no doubt follow.

All pictures taken direct from the Ironclad site at Ironclad Miniatures

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Long-lost info on my Line Infantry

I know I've posted that picture before, but it's a good one (not taken by me). It's also relevant.

Having just come across this on LAF:

Thus, they (my line infantry) will remain a Line Infantry regiment, from England as that seems easier, and almost certainly to start with, from Trumptonshire (which is more or less where Wiltshire is I think). So they will for the time being, be the Trumptonshire Regiment, following the merger under the Childers reforms of the North Trumptonshire Volunteer Regiment and the Duke of Melchester's Own Regiment of Foot...

I thought I'd post it here to keep it with the rest of the info on them. Their officer is Major Smith, for want of any concrete information on the officer's rank. I still plan to use Alfrik's suggesation of either changeable flag-bearers or just changeable flags, so I suppose I need an Ensign in Home Service kit.

And some flags.

Walkers a go-go

There have been several projects over the last few weeks and months involving steam-walkers - Alfrik over at Armored Ink (link in 'Blogs I'm Following' to the left) has a gorgeous battle report involving Skrapwelder's three lovely French walkers converted from GW Sentinel kits; also featured are Alfrik's own conversions of Star Wars walkers (check in 'Miniatures Update' on Armored Ink for more detailed pics), and some walkers made from an 'Incredibles' toy (well, four actually).

Meanwhile, over at Lead Adventurers, Black Cavalier has rivetted up a Star Wars AT-ST to produce a VSF scout walker in this thread here; and Conquistador, in this thread here, is discussing the possibility of using a Wild Wild West toy as a walker.

Inspired by all this leggy goodness, and the fact that I'm reading a book at the moment about an alternate-history WWI in which the Austro-Hungarian and German 'Clankers' (mechanical technologists) are fighting the British, French and Russian 'Darwinists' (bio-technologists), which co-incidently features an Austrian 5-man armoured walker, a 'Stormwalker' no less, I've been musing on walkers.

Imagine my surprise, on looking at Skrapwelder's French walkers, that I had one of them (in bits, unpainted and as yet unconverted) in a box upstairs. I'd completely forgotten it in the hectic maelstrom of... well, my head. I decided it would make a very nice command vehicle, and somewhat after the manner King Henry V in Skrapwelder's 'Aginclank' project - many more details here - my British commander will get to hang out in it I hope. Of course, if I get some more, they'll probably become a unit of Lancers...

Then I remembered that Orc Junior has a GW Imperial Dreadnaught, which I think will make a very fine walker for VSF, and it's a very fetching blue colour (he has an Ultramarine army that I keep forgetting is his not mine, ho hum). Anyroadup, my Aetherines will also be in blue jackets, and for that reason alone, blue seems to be a very good colour for an Aetherine walker. My idea is that it can be a one-man 'heavy support' armoured walker, armed with a Titanic Fist and a Portable Luciferium (or, a Dreadnaught Close Combat Weapon and a Multi-Melta). Given the size of the thing, I reckon it probably doesn't actually travel with the Aetherines - it's probably dropped from its own airship.

Pictures of some, all or fewer of these super-weapons (including I hope the airships) will be shortly forthcoming...

Monday, 10 January 2011

New links added

Thinking about my 'Aetherines' project, particularly the face-mask/'brass lung' idea has also got me considering Mars. That reminded me that I hadn't included the odd link so I've added a new link at least partitally concerning Mars, as it's to notes on 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 2'.

There's also a new Ruritania link, to a site with a fascinating (and truth to tell quite funny too) take on the lost 20th century history of Ruritania. It doesn't match my own take on Ruritanian history, but never mind, it's a jolly good read.

A grand piece of Victorian engineering can be found in the 'London Hydraulic Network' link. The site also contains hundreds of other pieces about underground buildings and tunnels, as well as site location maps and cave, tunnel and bunker plans and photos.

Staying underground, I've also added a link to a story about Lizards living in caves under LA, which is found on the quite amazing BLDGBLG. BLDGBLG has a host of stories and links for the discerning VSF gamer; many are connected to caves, others to buildings and urban spaces. A strange treasure trove.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Aetherine equipment part I

The main thing that a force of airship-troopers needs (beyond uniforms, weapons and ammo) I would think would be some sort of breathing apparatus. I'm thinking something like a small aqualung, that could function (for gaming purposes at least) at high altitudes on Earth or as an aid to breathing in the rarified airs of the Martian Highlands (guess where I'm thinking of going next?)

A facemask, tubes and a small cylinder sounds do-able, but I'd need something that can be replicated many times over. After all if I'm going to have a squad or two of these chaps I'm going to need 10-20 of these Brass Lungs.

Now tubes made from guitar strings shouldn't present too much problem, and I may be able to find enough circular sprue to make the cylinders, but I really don't know what to do about the facemasks.

Time for a ponder and a poke about in the bits box I think...

Thursday, 6 January 2011

My new project...

Right, the slow business of amassing the Soldiers of the Queen continues. OK, so I haven't painted my pith-helmet Dwarves yet, but... I really have to have some 'Aetherines' - like Marines, but they abseil from airships rather than jump out of boats.

They will be members of the Royal Aeronautical Corps, founded in 1862 after the British Government realised that superiority in balloons and aeronefs was one of the main areas where the Confederate States were leading their Unionist opponents in the First American Civil War.

The Royal Aeronautical Corps wears standard Army uniforms, though jackets are blue rather than the regulation Army red. Pith helmets are worn even by Aetherines on Home Service, as Home Service Pickelhaube-style helmets and gasbag balloons are not a good mix.

The ensign of the Royal Aeronautical Corps is a Blue Ensign, defaced with a globe, surrounded by a laurel wreath, and surmounted by a silver gryphon rampant, to symbolise the Corps' dual aerial and terrestrial role and its triumph over all enemies. The Corps' motto is 'Maxima Virtute' (I think, I'm not entirely happy with that but then again...)

I have in mind some Wargames Factory plastics as the basis of my Aetherines - if all goes to plan, the squad will be 10-strong, and consist of 9 riflemen and a sergeant with some sort of weird-tech VSF weapon. How does one build a Galvanic Lance do you reckon...?

Monday, 3 January 2011

New picture of the 1930s investigators

Improvements in the sensitivity of the Aetheric Tempograph enabled this slightly better shot to be taken of the 1930s paranormal investigators... however, the background has become very strange, they appear to be standing in a gigantic library which includes some books that haven't been written yet (in the 1930s).

Curiouser and curiouser...