Sunday 29 April 2012

Vampifan's Views 23 - Monthly Musings 09

Vampirella by Boris Valejo - oh so sexy!
It's the end of the month, so that means it's time for another of my Monthly Musings. It's been a busy month for me. The highlight of this month was getting to meet Joe aka Zabadak for the first time. Meeting any of my followers and/or fellow bloggers is such a rare event that it can't go unreported! We spent a good afternoon in Newcastle city centre chatting about loads of gaming-related stuff. The weather could have been kinder and our trip to Poundland was disappointing as neither of us found anything worth buying. Still, I scored at Travelling Man Games, where I bought two GURPS supplements - Mass Combat and Tactical Shooting. With Joe and I living so close to one another and having so much in common, a meeting was inevitable and I'm very glad we finally managed it. Joe's definitely one of the good guys and despite his age (incredibly, he's older than me!) and far from perfect health, he was very enthusiastic about zombie gaming. Hopefully, we'll meet again in the near future.
My painting and modelling projects are progressing nicely. Currently on my painting desk are the first 25 of my 100 Victory Force 28mm scale zombies. I finally decided it was about time I painted them. I'll paint them in four batches of 25, but I suspect I won't get them finished before VF releases Zombie Horde II, another 100 figures. When I buy that second lot, I won't be far from my goal of 1,000 zombie miniatures.
Ainstey Wrecked School Bus. Photo from their website.
I am also painting three Ainstey Castings 28mm scale resin vehicles that I bought in their recent Easter sale. I bought two sets of tyre walls, an armoured pick-up truck, a wrecked car and a wrecked school bus. The pick of this bunch is undoubtedly the wrecked school bus. I "borrowed" this photo of it from the Ainstey website to let you see just how impressive it is. What the photo doesn't show is just how big it is. The base measures 9" by 3" so no wonder it is selling for £20.00, although I got it for £16.00 in their sale. It comes with separate boards to fit to the roof as well as wooden panels to cover some of the windows, but I'm thinking of leaving them off. They may come in useful for other projects I have in mind.
Speaking of resin cast vehicles, last month I ordered a wrecked sports car and two Scooby Doo Mystery Machine vans from Armorcast. The reason for buying two vans was to give one to Joe as a surprise present. He was really bowled over by it, especially as I painted it for him. I'll post a review of the van and the wrecked sports car soon. I'm very pleased with them both and they will see use in my ATZ campaign.
On the card modelling front, I'm still working on my WWG 28mm scale Mayhem Junkyard set. I finished making the garage, which you may have seen when I posted photos of my man cave in my last Monthly Musings. Since then, I've been working on props from the set, and I've just about finished them. There are six vehicles included in the set and I'll probably make them next. Those of you who lurk on the Board of the Living Lead forum here will have seen that I was quite excited by another of my recent purchases - the Stoelzel's Structures 28mm scale Carnie Ville card model set. Basically, it is a collection circus tents with lots of accessories. It is something I have been after for quite a few years now. I have a large range of 28mm scale circus figures, not just clowns, although my clown population is growing alarmingly fast. Followers of my ATZ campaign will be well aware of the tragedy that befell Team Vampifan when they encountered Sunny and his gang of Killer Klowns. A rematch was always on the cards but I was never sure where it would take place. Now I have the ideal location. The Killer Klowns have a place they can call home, sweet home. Yeah right, it'll be a freaking death trap! Making the circus shouldn't be too difficult and construction of it is high on my list of things to make.
The book that I'm currently reading is Assassin's Code by Jonathan Maberry. This is book 4 of the Joe Ledger series and it appears to feature vampires as the bad guys. I've enjoyed the previous three books in this series and I'm thoroughly enjoying this one. Other books I've read recently was the novel, Outpost by Adam Baker. It was quite good but I'd describe it more of a sci-fi novel than a horror novel as the zombies featured within appear to originate from nanobots, as they become a fusion of flesh and metal. It's not your traditional zombie novel, although the setting in the Arctic circle is very interesting. I recently bought THW's 5150: New Beginnings sci-fi rulebook and was rather disappointed with it. It does have some good ideas in it but not enough for my liking. A shame, as I usually like anything that THW produce. Another book that I've read recently is War Against The Walking Dead by Sean T. Page. I don't want to say much about it here as I'll be posting a full review of it on Wednesday. However, it did get me thinking. Let me leave you with a question, which is related to Sean's book - how do you expect your zombie apocalypse campaign to end? It doesn't matter what rules you're using as this applies universally. I'll be discussing this question in greater detail in my next post.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

The Official Zombie Handbook (UK) by Sean T. Page

This book came out in 2010, so this review may seem a tad out of date but bear with me anyway. To be honest this book has been on my list of books to review ever since I read it. Sadly, it kept getting pushed back as other stuff jumped ahead of it in the review queue. So why bother review it now? Well I have just recently finished reading the sequel to it, War Against The Walking Dead, which I want to review very shortly. The Official Zombie Handbook (UK) and War Against The Walking Dead are so closely linked together that it seemed a shame to review one and not the other. Anyway, I am sure there must be some of you out there who haven't read this book, so this review is primarily for you. For those of you who have read this book, here's my thoughts on it.
The UK in brackets after the title is important, as this book is aimed firmly at residents of the United Kingdom. Essentially, The Official Zombie Handbook (UK) is a survival guide to help you live through the first 90 days of a zombie apocalypse. Author Sean Page believes if you can survive the first three months, you'll be well on your way to surviving far longer. The book opens with a section on basic information about zombies, what they are, how to kill them, along with examples of zombie sightings thoughout history (yeah, right!).
Section two is one that I found fascinating - what kind of response to a zombie apocalypse in the UK can we expect from various forces, like the government, the police, the armed forces and the criminal underworld. The bottom line is, forget the others and look after yourself as best you can. From all that I've read and seen on TV and movies, that would seem to be good advice wherever you live!
The next section on zombie defence takes up the bulk of the book and covers everything from food and shelter to weapons and transport as well as advice on foraging and fortifying your home or wherever it is that you decide to stay. A lot of this common sense but in a global catastrophe like this too often common sense is replaced by blind panic and totally illogical decisions. The chapter on weapons rates each weapon in four categories - durability, ease of use, availability and damage with a score of 1 to 5, giving an overall score out of 20. Apparently, the best melee weapon to use, with an impressive 18/20 is the hammer, found in most households. Cricket bats (or baseball bats) and ice climbing axes score highly with 16/20 apiece. Given the scarcity of firearms in this country, ranged weapons are limited in their scope, which isn't surprising, but if you can't get hold of a gun (and don't forget, guns need ammo - lots of ammo!) your next best bet is the crossbow, with a rating of 14/20. Just one point behind it is the nail gun - good news for all you DIY enthusiasts.
The final section deals with surviving in the UK, looking at the pros and cons of staying put or travelling around. There is a detailed look at the various modes of transport and how they'd be affected by a zombie apocalypse. This section also includes advice on which places would make the best place to hole up and defend. Victorian sea forts score very highly.
It is almost impossible not to compare this book with Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide as it covers a lot of similar territory. However, whereas the Zombie Survival Guide was mainly targetted at Americans, Sean Page redresses the balance with a guide aimed mainly at us Brits. There are a few illustrations in the book, which to be kind, are adequate at best. The prose is easy to read, although is marred by too many typo errors - not as bad as some books I could mention but just enough to be annoying.
I bought my copy from The Zombie Shop for £7.99, after reading Adam's review of it. See here - If you don't already own this book, and you live in the UK, I can highly recommend it. Even if you live outside the UK, you can still find some useful info in here. This is one of those books that should be in every zombie survivalist's library. I'd give this book an 8 out of 10 rating.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Recreational Conflict Survivors 02

I bought this set of four Recreational Conflict 28mm scale survivors at the same time as I bought their combi Civilians and Survivors sets but I've only got round to reviewing them now. Sorry, I got sidetracked with loads of police stuff. All four figures are based on characters from films, computer games and literature. You may recognise the first two, but I think the second two will be much harder to place and only a true Vampifan will recognise the fourth figure in the colour scheme that I've painted him!
At the far left of this group is a figure based on Kurt Russell's character, R.J. MacReady from the 1982 flim, The Thing. This is still one of my all-time favourite horror films. He is posed holding a flamethrower in one hand and a bunch of sticks of dynamite in his other hand. I can't help but think that he could do a lot of damage with them in a zombie apocalypse game. I know that other firms have made their own versions of MacReady, after all, he is a popular character, but this isn't a bad rendition of him. One thing that you must be careful about when handling this figure is that the barrel of his flamethrower is thin and easily bent out of shape, so handle with care.
Next in line is Leon Scott Kennedy, a recurring character in some of the Resident Evil computer games and he also appears in the animated film, Resident Evil: Degeneration . Not being a computer gamer, I was not familiar with this character and so I had to do a Google search on him to learn who he was. Having seen some artwork of Leon, I have to admit that this figure is a very good likeness of the computer character. Hats off to sculptor Brian Cooke. Leon wears a sheepskin jacket and is armed with a pump-action shotgun. Apparently, he will appear in the fifth live-action film, Resident Evil: Retribution and will be played by Johann Urb. No, I've never heard of him either.
The third figure in line surprised me by her inclusion as she is teenage detective, Nancy Drew. I doubt if she'd even make it onto my list of survivors from media sources that I'd like to see sculpted. Once again. I must profess almost total ignorance of this character but I have learnt a lot about her by resorting to another Google search. In game terms, I can't see much use for her, although a team up with Hasslefree's Scooby Gang might be fun for a one-off adventure. I'm more inclined to use her as a generic teenage girl, most probably the daughter of a civilian. She may have some useful skills or knowledge but I don't see her as a fighter. In a zombie apocalypse I'd fear for her survival. Incidentally, that's a cardigan or jumper that she has draped over her shoulders, not a backpack.
As soon as I saw the fourth figure in line I knew who I wanted him to represent. He is supposed to be Harry Dresden, hero and contemporary mage from The Dresden Files series of books by Jim Butcher and TV series of the same name. But for me, being such a huge fan of Vampirella, I saw a remarkable resemblance between the figure and Vampi's old friend, Mordecai Pendragon. For those of you who have never heard of Pendragon (that's probably all of you) I've included this illustration to the left by one of my favourite Vampirella artists, Jose Gonzalez, so you can see what I meant about the resemblance. The figure wears the same coat as Pendragon in the illustration. Note that Vampirella is also wearing a coat - a very rare occurance! Pendragon is an illusionist. He wasn't that good until he met Vampirella and she became his assistant for a time. After she gave him a blood transfusion during one of their adventures, he developed the ability to perform real magic. At first he was seen as a coward and a drunk but he has always been a loyal companion to Vampirella and as his magical ability has grown, a powerful ally. For obvious reasons, he is my favourite figure out of this group.
These figures come on integral metal bases, which are small enough to fit onto slottabases or whatever else you use for your bases. However, in the case of Pendragon his base is almost as wide and as thick a 25mm diameter plastic slottabase. He is the tallest figure out of the group and that base, if stuck on top of whatever you use for your bases would have made him even taller. This was not acceptable to me. So I cut off most of his base, leaving just a thin strip beneath his feet, which I filed into a slottatab. I was then able to slot him into a 25mm diameter slottabase with his feet flush to the ground. It worked a treat and helped to reduce his size by a couple of millimetres.
Recreational Conflict are selling this set of four figures for $10.00. I have copied their colour schemes for all of them except my version of Pendragon. Their Harry Dresden version has a green coat and dark brown hair. It is undoubtedly an ecletic mix of survivors and they may not suit your tastes, or maybe you like one of them but not all. In which case, you'll be pleased to know that you can buy them individually at $2.50 per figure.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Dave's Games Low Ruins and Crosspiece Ruins

I didn't expect my review of the Dave's Games Ruined Longhouse to be so well received, but on the other hand, it is a quality product so I really shouldn't have expected anything less. This time, I am going to show you two more of the ruined buildings sets from Dave Graffam, which I have combined to make one building.
The floor and four exterior walls are from the Low Ruins set, whilst the internal walls come from the Crosspiece Ruins set 1. The first decision that I had to make with the Low Ruins was to decide on its footprint. You have four options - 6" by 6", 6" by 4", 4" by 6" and 4" by 4". In case you are wondering, no, the 6" by 4" and 4" by 6" choices are not the same. One has long north/south walls and the other has long east/west walls. I opted for the 6" square choice.
The Crosspiece Ruins set is simply a collection of various lengths of wall that slot into each other to create a cross piece. They are not so much buildings per se, but parts of buildings. I thought that adding one of them to this model would break up the large expanse of empty floor space and make a much more interesting ruin with greater playing options for hiding figures in it. The first problem that I encountered is that the Crosspiece walls are much taller than those on the Low Ruins. The clue is in the name, Low Ruins, as they are only about 2" tall. So I had to cut off about an inch from the bottom of the Crosspiece walls in order to make them fit in better. Also, instead of a Crosspiece I opted for a T-section, giving me three rooms, one measuring 6" by 2" and the other two measuring 4" by 3". The layers that I chose for them were concrete walls with bullet holes for page 4 of the four pages provided. I cut a door frame in the long wall but deliberately left off the door. Presumably it got destroyed with the rest of the building. The short wall is made up of two small pieces with a gap between them to indicate where the door once was.
This overhead view gives you a good view of the floor and how the Crosspiece walls form the three rooms that make up the building. The Low Ruins set comes with a selection of eight floor patterns - cracked brown tiles, cracked grey tiles, flagstones, grey concrete, hardwood, patterned tiles, weathered wood and yellow concrete. I chose the cracked brown tiles for my floor. I also added two layers of rubble to it. You can add up to three layers of rubble but I didn't want to overdo it. Note how thick my walls are because I glue my printouts to thick mounting card. This gives my models incredible strength and durability.
This is the front of the house, or south exterior wall, showing a solid-looking front door. You can choose a metal door with a concrete frame and concrete framed windows, or a wooden door with wood frames for the door and window. Note that the door is not flush with the ground, so mind the step!
Moving round, here we see the west wall with a single window in the centre of it. The external walls come with a choice of nine textures - brown bricks, brown stone, grey bricks, grey concrete, grey stone, red bricks, stucco, weathered wood and yellow concrete. I chose the brown bricks for my external walls. The internal walls can match the external walls, or you can choose a different texture for them, as I did. You have the same nine options as for the external walls. I chose yellow concrete for my interior walls to match the colour scheme of my Crosspiece Ruins. The only layer option that is missing for the interior walls is bullet damage. That was no big deal, as I made sure to include bullet holes on my Crosspiece walls.
This is the south wall, which again contains a single window framed in concrete. I have added two layers on top of my external walls - air vents and gun damage. The air vent on this wall is located near the centre at the bottom.
Finally, we come to the east wall. I made a silly mistake when I printed out this wall. I added the door and window layer to it. The problem with that is the door is located at the far left of the wall, meaning that I'd have two doors in that corner, as the door on the south wall was literally just round the corner. This is my one and only criticism of the model. Having both doors in that corner makes no sense if you want to build this model with two doors. I was forced to reprint this wall without the door and windows layer on. If you make this model, you can only have one door on the outside, either to the right of the south wall or to the left of the east wall.
The amount of options you have for the Low Ruins set is just mind-blowing and makes it incredible value for money. I wasn't too sure whether I'd get any use out of the Crosspiece Ruins set but with this model I found the perfect use for them, even if I did have to trim them down to size. The Low Ruins is one of the easiest ruined building models you can make. So too, are the Crosspiece Ruins. Combine the two and you have a slightly more complex model, but one that I thought was well worth making. I am very happy with the outcome of this model and it just goes to show what you can do if you think outside the box.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Dave's Games Ruined Longhouse

When I posted my last ATZ batrep, I included on my game-board a couple of brand new buildings that I'd made recently. They were both fairly small ruined houses and both came from a card scenery company whom I have never mentioned before - Dave's Games. Dave's Games is run by Dave Graffam and he mainly produces buildings for the fantasy gamer, most of which are of little use to contemporary gamers like myself. However, he also makes a range of ruined buildings, which can be used in so many historical periods and genres. I bought a bundle pack of his ruined buildings late last year and got 17 buildings in the set for roughly £25.00. Absolutely fantastic value for money. Anyway, here is the first of his buildings that I made - the ruined longhouse.
I chose to make this building first, simply because it was the easiest to make and I knew it'd only take me a couple of days to complete. At the time that I made this I was also working on my WWG Mayhem City Police Station. I made this to give myself a break from making so many furniture items. I learnt the hard way that you can only make so many pieces of furniture before it becomes a chore.
The building has a footprint of 6" by 4" and is 4" tall. As you can see it is nothing more than four walls, a floor and a chimney. The hardest part of making it was cutting out the holes in the walls, and to be honest, that wasn't a very difficult task.
Here is an overhead view of the building, showing off the flagstoned floor with a scattering of rubble on it. Those of you not familiar with Dave Graffam's models may be thinking, yeah, I can see that, so what? Well, Dave's models have a special ingredient that makes them totally awesome and even better value for money than you'd imagine. It's called layers. Layers allow you to customise each model to your hearts content, giving you so many options that you could build hundreds of this model with every one of them being unique. For the floor, you have three basic options - flagstones (as shown here), concrete blocks and wood panelling. For the rubble, which you can add or leave out, you have four options. I chose options three and four. Options one and two added broken wooden beams.
This is one of the long side walls with the door in. The door is a separate layer, so if you don't want it on this wall you can leave it off. For my walls, I chose the plaster over bricks option. Other choices were bricks, stone and wood. The plaster option overlays one of the three basic choices. Here, you can see the brickwork showing through the gaps in the plaster rendering.
Here is one of the short walls, showing a massive hole in it that a person could walk through without any bother. Further options for your walls are stone corners and/or wooden beams to give it that Tudor-style look.
Here is the second of the long walls, and I chose to add two windows to it. The internal walls are textured the same as the external walls, however, you do have an option for wooden interior walls, if you fancied a contrast.
This is the second short wall, with the chimney stack abutting it. The chimney is asymmetrically shaped. The sticky-out bit (actual architectural term!) at the bottom can face to the left or to the right. Your choice. If you add up all the choices of layers that you're presented with it soon becomes apparent that my assertion that you could make hundreds of these buildings with each one being unique and different from the others is no exaggeration. This has to be the greatest strength of Dave's models. The level of customisation you have at your fingertips is simply breath-taking. Also, bear in mind, this is probably the simplest of his ruined buildings to make. With his more complex buildings the choices of customisation are even greater. In the advertising industry, a product should have a U.S.P. (Unique Selling Point) to make it stand out from its competitors. Dave's Games' U.S.P. is undoubtedly layers. Fat Dragon Games have layers on some of their models (with the likes of bullet holes, dirt or graffiti, for example) but nowhere near the extent offered by Dave Graffam.
The bundle of 17 ruined buildings that I bought just knocked me for six when I saw what I could do with them. I should point out that all of the ruined buildings are available to purchase separately but I'd definitely advise going for the bundle pack, which is far greater value for money. If you wanted to buy the ruined longhouse separately, it costs just £1.31 according to the RPG Now and Wargame Vault websites that I looked at this morning. Both sites stock the full range of Dave Graffam models.
The idea of adding layers to WWG models has been put forward on their forum, but it looks unlikely to happen, which I personally, think is a great shame.
The more novels that I read about a zombie apocalypse, the more I realise that so many buildings are going to end up in a ruined state. Fire, for example, will destroy many of them. I also realised that my own version of Mayhem City was going to need a lot more ruined buildings than I originally envisaged. So expect to see more ruined buildings in my ATZ batreps. I'll tell you now that a lot of them are going to come from Dave's Games.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Battle Bunker Zombies

It has been such a long time since I reviewed any undead figures. So, it's time to put that right with a review of two sets of 28mm scale zombies from a not very well known firm called Battle Bunker Games. My good friend Adam, aka ZombieAd, who runs the Zombie Shop, sent me a blister pack containing two of these figures. Much appreciated, Adam! I liked them a lot and ordered a second set. You'll see why if you read on.
Each blister pack contains two zombie figures, minus their heads. You get a sprue that comes with a choice of three heads and two shoulder pads. To use all three heads I needed a second set. This would of course, leave me with a spare figure. Looking at how the zombie is posed I realised it would be very easy to convert him into a corpse, so, this is what I did.
The figure at the far left of my photos has been slightly altered by gently bending his arms into new poses - right arm down and left arm up. I used the bare head for him. His shirt and trousers have been severely shredded and he is missing a sock and shoe from his right foot. His injuries are very extensive, ranging from cuts and bites to his head all the way down to a massive bite wound at the back of his lower left leg. I have smeared his hands in blood, which just adds to the overall gory look of him.
In the centre of the trio of standing zombies is your basic figure with no changes done to him. I gave him the American footballer's helmet head and glued a shoulder pad to his right shoulder. I painted him in the colours of the Mayhem City Marauders. I'm slowly building up a small collection of American footballer and cheerleader zombies from various figure companies. I did paint a number on this guy's shirt but when I came to painting on the gore effects (TCR mixed with black) it got totally obscured.
The third standing zombie was given the biker helmet head, and so I gave him a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans, to reinforce his biker look. His arms have been ever so slightly repositioned to move them closer in to his body. You can do this easily enough just by bending them in your fingers. The colour schemes and different heads help to make all three look different. I've painted more gore on his arms than on the other two, again, just to make him look different.
To make the corpse, I first of all cut off his slottatab with a pair of model clippers. I slightly repositioned his arms and I added a small amoubt of modelling putty to the small of his back, to fill in the gap between the bottom of his shirt and his belt. I snipped off the back of his left boot so it lay flat on the ground and I ever so slightly bent his right foot forward. Finally, I gave him the bare head, which I stuck on at an angle, facing to his right. I drilled a small hole above his left ear and a much larger hole above his right ear, indicating that he'd been killed by a head shot. All in all, it was a very simple conversion, but one which I think works very well.
I have no idea if Battle Bunker Games will be adding any more figures to this range or not. They are nicely sculpted figures and they do have a lot of wounds on them, so gore-hounds like me, can really go to town splashing on the claret! The choice of heads is a nice idea but I would recommend doing what I did and buying two sets to get the most use out of them. This brings me to what could put a lot of you off them - their price. A blister pack, containing two figures and the sprue of heads costs £7.99, as near as dammit as £4.00 per figure. This, I know, will put them out of the price range of a lot of you guys and I fully understand. If you're on a tight budget, these would appear to be a luxury you could well do without. Even so, I'm glad I have them as part of my horde. Plus, even if Adam hadn't gifted me with a set, I'd still have got round to buying them.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Vampifan's Police Figures

I have been reviewing all things police for the past couple of months. Well, I have decided to bring this subject to a close with a very special review of some unique figures. All of the figures shown in this post were sculpted by me, and before you ask, I'm sorry but they are not for sale. These are definitely one offs.
I'll start off with my street patrolmen and the one thing they all have in common is that they are all holding nightsticks. I made these because, even now, many years after I made them, you don't see many cop figures wielding nightsticks. At the far left is Sergeant Gus Zimmerman, a veteran NYPD cop who is proud of the fact that in his 30 years as a cop, he has never had to shoot anyone. I designed him for use in some of my GURPS campaigns, although he originally appeared in a role-playing game called Crime Fighter. Congratulations to anyone who can remember that lesser known RPG! I never played it but it had some good ideas in it that I cadged for GURPS. Crime Fighter did not go anywhere near the detail and complexity you get in GURPS, so I had to greatly expand his character. I see him more of a desk jockey and administrator than a front-line cop, hence his rather chubby physique.The cop in the centre of the two photos above is a young patrolman called Tony Lau. He is one of my own unique creations, although I never did get round to creating a GURPS character record sheet for him. His parents were Chinese but he was born in New York, U.S.A.  He is not a rookie but he hasn't been on the streets too long, maybe a couple of years. He still has much to learn.
The third street cop is Leroy Barnes, a straight as an arrow NYPD patrolman with a cynical attitude who divides the world into three types of people - cops, civilians and scumbags. He is based on a character from the GURPS supplement - Supporting Cast - a collection of pre-designed NPCs. I had very little to do to round out his character. Note that on all three figures, their cap peaks, belts, pouches, nightsticks and shoes were painted with gloss black paints, to give that shiny, polished look. Back in those days I still used enamel paints. Nowadays, I'd just gloss varnish those parts.
Next up are my range of detectives. At the far left of these two photos is my only police detective. The rest are all FBI detectives. He is a copy of one of the 20mm scale figures that came with the Games Workshop Dark Future game. I always thought that GW should have made the figures and vehicles for this game in 28mm scale. I actually ended up remaking quite a few of their 20mm scale figures, most of which were Gangers. Anyway, this figure looked a lot like Nico Toscani, as played by Steven Seagal in the film Nico, or as it is known in some countries, Above the Law. It's the ponytail that did it for me. Nico was Seagal's debut movie, and is one of his better films, which isn't saying much, given the amount of dross he's made. I never did get round to creating a GURPS character for him, and I can't ever remember using him in any game I've played.
The first of my four FBI detectives is unimaginatively called John Smith. He's another character from GURPS Supporting Cast, so I'm not responsible for his name. Smith is a man who prides himself on his people skills. He always wears dark glasses when outdoors. I sculpted him in a casual pose, speaking on his mobile phone. He is a Field Agent based in New York.
In the centre of this group of five is Assistant Director in Charge of the New York field office of the FBI, Ryan Scarlett. Scarlett is a tough and hard-nosed professional. He is divorced and has made a vow never to remarry. I saw an illustration of this character in a GURPS supplement, although I forget which one, and I thought he'd make a great FBI boss. The illustration showed him from the waist up and he was not named. He looks like he's giving out orders, which is perfect for a command figure.
Next in line is FBI Agent Robert Danforth in an action pose. He holds his 9mm Glock 17 pistol in one hand and his ID Badge in the other, clearly identifying himself as Federal Agent. I drew his portrait for his GURPS character record sheet and gave him a name, but that was as far as I got to filling it in. It's just another thing to add to my "to do" list!
Finally, we have my only female cop that I sculpted. Marsha Crowe is the East Coast Regional Director of the FBI's Special Affairs Department. S.A.D. is an organisation that investigates supernatural crimes and events, much like Mulder and Scully did in The X-Files TV series, only they have a much bigger budget and more manpower. Marsha is a character from White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game whom I converted into a GURPS character for my own supernatural investigators' campaign. She was the person my players had to report to and who assigned them their missions. Outwardly, she looks like any normal civilian, until you notice her ID badge pinned above her left breast. That one detail makes a world of difference.
These figures are all 28mm scale and fit in well with most true 28mm scale ranges of figures, i.e. they are not heroically scaled. They were all sculpted in the late 1980's and early 1990's. To be honest, if I was to resculpt them today, I don't think I could improve on them very much. I'm very happy with how they turned out. I have a lot of other 28mm scale figures that I have sculpted, particularly Civilians and Gangers, and I will show them to you some time in the future. Back in those days there wasn't the choice of figures available that you can get today. Fortunately, being a fairly decent sculptor, if there was a particular figure that I needed for a game I'd just sculpt him or her if I couldn't find an appropriate figure to use. Things have changed a lot nowadays and there's just no need for me to sculpt anything anymore, although I'm sure some of you would disagree!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

My ATZ Campaign - Day 62 - AWOL

Big Sil looked at his watch for the umpteenth time in the past hour. 
"Right, that's me done,"  he grumbled. "Time to get out of here."
He had reached the end of his night watch shift and he was in a foul mood. The sun had rose about an hour ago but the day was cloudy, dull and cool. He was patrolling the back of the small warehouse that he and his fellow survivors were using as a temporary headquarters. Conditions weren't perfect, which just added to his depression and quick temper. Although they weren't the real reason for his surliness. Since the death of his lover, Angelique Johansson, two weeks ago he'd turned to the bottle. Last night, during his watch, he'd finally ran out of alcohol. This did not sit well with him.
The sound of approaching footsteps caused him to fumble for his M16 Assault Rifle, which was slung over his right shoulder. He tugged at the strap but it had got caught by the epaulette of his leather biker jacket. He was about to swear in frustration when the stranger appeared around the corner of the warehouse. He let out an audible sigh of relief when he recognised the person as Hannah Vaughn, his replacement for watch duty.
"Morning, Sil" the young mother of two said in a voice that was far too cheery to the biker's ears. "Anything to report?"
"Nah, same old shit," Big Sil replied, hurriedly letting go of his rifle strap and fumbling in the front right pocket of his jeans. "Another boring night."
He pulled out his bike keys and turned his back on Hannah. Her brows furrowed when she saw him walk towards his motorbike, which was parked close by.
"What are you doing?" she asked as he mounted the powerful bike.
"What's it look like I'm doing?" he countered in a surly voice. "I'm going to get something to drink!"
"The hell you are!" Hannah said indignantly. "You just get back inside!"
"Fuck you!" Big Sil snarled as he started the engine. "You're not my mother!"
"Whu, whu, what?" was all Hannah could say as Big Sil roared off.

So began my latest scenario. Hannah immediately woke up Vampifan and Lieutenant Catweazle and told them what had happened. Vampifan was furious at his old friend's desertion. He and Hannah set off after Big Sil in Hannah's white hatchback car, leaving Catweazle in charge of their base. This was a scenario I'd devised, although it is loosely based on the Raid scenario from the Better Dead Than Zed rulebook. All Vampifan and Hannah had to do was find Big Sil and bring him back home. If they rolled anything but a 1 on 1d6 when they entered the house that his bike was parked next to, he'd be inside. If they did roll a 1 they'd have to search each house in turn. There was a 50/50 chance he'd be in the house they searched. These are much better odds than in the Raid scenario because I wanted them to find him quickly.
Here are the stats of the three participants -
Vampifan - Rep:6 Star with Nerves of Steel and Slow attributes. He is armed with an Assault Rifle, BA Pistol, Combat Knife and Body Armour.
Big Sil - Rep:5 Grunt with Knife Fighter attribute and armed with Assault Rifle, Combat Knife and Body Armour.
Hannah Vaughn - Rep:5 Grunt with Stone Cold attribute and armed with BA Pistol and Combat Knife.

 The game took place in the suburbs of Mayhem City during the early morning of Day 62.
I played the game on a 4' by 3' board. divided into nine 16" by 12" sectors, with sector 1 being in the top left corner with the smaller of the two woods...
 ...and sector 9 being in the bottom right corner where the big bronze and grey ruined building is.
I rolled for the Reps and placement of the three starting PEFs. PEF:1 was Rep:3 and began in sector 4 at the front left corner of the old house.
PEF:2 was Rep:2 and was placed in sector 5 in the woods.
PEF:3 was also Rep:3 and was placed in sector 2 behind the blue camper van. Note the police van. It does prove significant.

Day 62 - AWOL
I rolled for lack of sleep for each character. Vampifan and Hannah were fine and suffered no penalty. When I rolled for Big Sil, he'd only had 3 hours sleep and he passed just one dice on the Lack of Sleep Table. This resulted in him suffering a -2 penalty to his Rep for the duration of this scenario. This dropped him to Rep:3. Nasty!
Note that at the start of the scenario Big Sil is not a part of Team Vampifan and is thus classed as a separate entity for the purposes of Activation.
Vampifan and Hannah began the game in sector 8, parked next to the lamp post. They had spotted Big Sil's motorbike parked at the side of a semi-detached house. Please note, ignore the fact that there is a figure mounted on Big Sil's bike. Unfortunately he is not detachable, so pretend he isn't there.
TURN 1.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Big Sil = 4, PEFs = 6
The PEFs and Big Sil had rolled too high to activate. Vampifan and Hannah walked across the street to Big Sil's bike. Remember, Big Sil is not on his bike. What you see is just a figment of your imagination!
TURN 2.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, Big Sil = 3, PEFs = 5
Once again. the PEFs had rolled too high to activate. Hannah let Vampifan pass her, as she'd spotted that Big Sil had left his keys in the bike's ignition. She removed them and slipped them into one of the front pockets of her jeans. She smiled wryly, thinking that if he did get past Vampifan and her, he'd be mightily pissed off to find his keys missing.
Vampifan entered the side door of the house, which had been left half open. His colleague was sat at the kitchen table, upon which stood an assortment of five bottles of alcohol - cider, sherry, whisky, white wine and red wine. He held a bottle of vodka to his lips and Vampifan noted it was half full. Had Big Sil drunk half a bottle of vodka in the time he was gone? He wasn't sure if he wanted to know the answer. He also noted that Big Sil's assault rifle was propped up against the staircase behind him. Vampifan's assault rifle was held tightly in a two handed grip at his waist but pointed directly at the biker.
"Have you come to join me?" Big Sil growled in a voice dripping with venom. His eyes glared with contempt at Vampifan.
"This has gone quite far enough!" Vampifan retorted, trying desperately hard to keep his own anger in check but failing. "Put that bottle down!"
"Hah!" Big Sil sneered as he raised the bottle in an overhead salute. "To our glorious, frigging leader!"
Vampifan squeezed the trigger of his Heckler and Koch G3 Assault Rifle. The 7.62mm bullet shattered the vodka bottle and covered Big Sil in alcohol and shards of glass.
"You get your shit together, Sil," he said softly, "or you can just ship out!"
"Fuck you!" Big Sil screamed as he shot forward out of his chair. He took a wild haymaker punch at Vampifan but the swing was so badly telegraphed that Vampifan easily dodged it.
The veteran leader gave his colleague no time to recover. He swiftly smashed the butt of his rifle into Big Sil's forehead, instantly knocking him out.
"Jesus, what a mess!" Hannah exclaimed as she stood in the doorway, surveying the scene in front of her.
Vampifan let out a long sigh before replying, "it is that. Come on, let's get him back home."
Outside, a single female zombie had heard Vampifan's gunshot. She shuffled forward, right next to Hannah's car.
TURN 3.   Activation - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 4, PEFs = 3
The female zombie moved slowly across the main road.
I rolled on the PEF Movement Table for PEF:1 and PEF:3. PEF:1 passed 2d6 and moved one sector towards the largest group of players, ending its move in sight and in cover, if available. I placed it behind Hannah's car. I've only just noticed that this was a mistake as that position is in sector 8. Ooops! As it happens, it makes no difference to the story. PEF:3 only passed 1d6, which allowed it to move one sector to the closest PEF. As PEF:1 and PEF:2 were only one sector away from it I diced to see which one it moved to. It turned out to be PEF:1, so I moved it to the corner of the house that Team Vampifan were in.
Vampifan slung Big Sil over his left shoulder.
"Grab his rifle, please, Hannah," he said as he stepped outside. He immediately saw the female zombie approaching him. Passing 2d6 on the In Sight Test, he fired once from the hip with his Assault Rifle, splattering the zombie's brains across the tarmac.
This also brought him in sight of the two PEFs. I first rolled for PEF:1 and got a D result - a false alarm. See, I told you it didn't matter that it was out of position! However, for PEF:3 I rolled a C result - Hostile NPCs. Here I cheated a bit, but purely for the purpose of telling this story. I did not roll to see who they were as I knew I wanted an encounter with a group of SWAT Troopers. I did roll to see how many of them there were and got a result of three. All were Rep:5. The leader, Sergeant Wayne Connors, was armed with an Assault Rifle (slung over his shoulder) and a BA Pistol (held in a two-handed grip). His colleagues, one male (Johnny Vincenzo) and one female (Gemma Kelly), were each armed with a Sub-Machine Gun and a BA Pistol. All three wore Body armour.
It was time to roll on the Encounter Awareness Test table. Vampifan should have rolled 6d6 for his Rep but suffered a -1d6 penalty for being active. This meant that both sides would roll 5d6. Unfortunately for Vampifan he lost by one, meaning that the SWAT team would take the In Sight test against him. All three passed 2d6. They could all open fire on Vampifan but only Sergeant Connors did. He fired twice and hit once, scoring a Knock Down. Vampifan passed 2d6 on the Recover From Knock Down test and was only Stunned. Even so, he was flat out on his back and unable to return fire or move.
Hannah had seen Vampifan go down but decided to remain hidden. She grabbed hold of Big Sil's Assault Rifle and stealthily moved upstairs, hoping the SWAT Troopers were unaware of her presence.
Three shots had been fired this turn, so I rolled 3d6 for zombie reinforcements. One appeared at the back of the house next door to where Hannah was hiding.
TURN 4.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, SWAT = 5, Zombies = 4, PEF = 1
The SWAT Team moved with a much practiced efficiency, quickly surrounding Vampifan and Big Sil. They disarmed both men, then handcuffed them. Vampifan was too groggy to resist.
"Tagged and bagged, Sarge," said Trooper Gemma Kelly as she secured Vampifan's handcuffs.
"Jeez, this one stinks of booze," Trooper Johnny Vincenzo remarked as he handcuffed Big Sil.
"Hmm, not just looters," commented Sergeant Connors, "but drunken looters."
Unseen by them all at the back of the house, the lone zombie moved closer to them, drawn by the sound of their voices.
Vampifan cautiously got back to his feet and asked, "what are you going to do to us?"
"Oh, you're under arrest, slimeball," Sergeant Connors replied harshly. "We're taking you in and we've got a nice little cell for you and your pal at Precinct 13."
Hannah remained hidden on the upper floor landing, but she had heard every word spoken outside. She knew what she had to do.
I rolled for PEF:2 on the PEF Movement Table but it passed 0d6 and so remained in place in Sector 3.
TURN 5.   Activation - Hannah = 5, SWAT = 4, Zombies = (3) 1, PEF = (3) 6
Hannah bided her time and kept quiet. Vampifan hoped she report back to the others after he'd left and that was exactly what she planned on doing. 
"Let's get out of here," Sergeant Connors ordered. "Kelly, keep an eye on Fatso here. Fatso, you follow me. Vincenzo, grab hold of Sleeping Beauty, will ya?" 
"Yes, sir," the two troopers replied simultaneously.
"Fatso?" Vampifan proclaimed, feeling aggrieved. "I'm not fat. I'm just generously proportioned."
"Zip it, Fatso!" Connors shot back.
Vampifan said no more.
As they turned into the side street, the male zombie caught a fleeting glimpse of them. He instinctively followed. Yet again, PEF:2 failed to activate.
TURN 6.   Activation - Hannah = 2, SWAT = (4) 5, Zombies = (4) 3, PEF = 6
PEF:2 failed to activate. Vampifan and Big Sil were considered part of the SWAT Team for the purposes of activation. They marched up the side street towards the police van. See, I told you it was significant!
The lone zombie followed them but was losing ground.
Hannah moved back downstairs to the kitchen.
TURN 7.   Activation - Hannah = 4, SWAT = 2, Zombies = 1, PEF = 5
PEF:2 just wasn't going to move at all in this game.
Hannah emerged from the house, very relieved to see no one in sight.
The SWAT Team had reached the police van. "Load 'em up and let's get back to base," Sergeant Connors said. He had spotted the zombie male following them. Although he passed 2d6 on the In Sight Test, the zombie was more than 6" away and thus he was not allowed to fire upon it. He mustn't have deemed it to be too big a threat.
Even though the zombie closed the gap on him, he was still more than 6" away. There was no way he could reach his goal before the SWAT Team left.

This seemed like an appropriate point to end the game. The mission of this scenario was to find Big Sil and return him home. Given what happened, it had to be classed as a failure. I rolled to see if Vampifan or Hannah lost a level from their Rep scores but neither did.
So, Vampifan and Big Sil were carted off to the Precinct 13 police station, where a very small force of cops were still holding out. Hannah made a clean getaway and relayed this information to the rest of Team Vampifan. Lieutenant Catweazle ordered an immediate rescue mission. The next scenario will be the biggest I've ever played and it's going to be epic!