Sunday, 30 August 2015

On a ship to the stars

 As I make new episodes for the Saga of Clarke, or just play a stand-alone game of something else, I like to make an effort to have something new every time if I can.
 This practice can sometimes be challenging with the limited time I usually allow myself between games, but I find it makes it more interesting for me and hopefully for any reader as well!

I also try to fill typical sci-fi must-haves, such as space stations and spaceships, alien worlds and so on.

The second location is what this post if all about, as I recently finished up a few spaceship tiles for my sci-fi gaming:

I want to start out by saying that this is in no way my own idea, but rather a frankensteinian creation inspired by several different paper-craft products, commercially available tiles and some inspiration from fellow bloggers like Yoshimi over at his blog, Daxio's Uneventful Day, check it out!

This is more or less all the tiles I made in this first batch. It's enough to cover most of the small to medium-sized ships I reckon I'll need to represent on the tabletop. Battlecrusiers and dreadnaughts and the like, if it ever comes to that, will have to be broken down into sections.

All the tiles are made from a double corrugated cardboard base with taped edges, sprayed black to disguise the corrugation and any minor flaws on the side of the tiles. The actual floor tiles are made from thin cardboard, like cereal boxes and similar containers, sprayed a light gray since I found white to be too stark. The floor-grates are more of the anti-skid netting I used for windows on my big buildings that I finished recently. 

The bridge piece. I only made one of these special pieces, not thinking of the fact that a boarding action from ship to ship probably requires at least one more bridge piece. So I'll most likely make another one, or just use one of the straight 2x3 square ones if I get too lazy/caught up in the latest ooh shiny..

 Obviously you can't have a spaceship devoid of any sort of equipment, so I made a few displays and panels, again more than a few inspired by Yoshimi, thanks man!
Seats for operating the engines and weapons, shields and such. I though of making some crash-couches as well, and I still might.

The displays can be used for all sorts of useful things, engieneering and shields, nav and map tables, comms and so on.

 I made a few sets of stasis-pods, somewhere for crews to rest during longer flights when stimulants aren't enough to keep them going the full journey. They are just bits of chopped up drinking straws glued to another backing of thin card, but I feel they came out all right.

 I also have a pic of the fully laid-out Stalker-class attack and patrol ship, manufactured by Sanada Heavy Industries:
This particular craft goes by the name the Cormorant, it's the ship Clarke and his companions are after in the latest episode of the Saga of Clarke! More on this in a few days..

I've started work on a new terrain board, and have plans for a really special alien one, I'll share as soon as I have something recognizable!
 By the end of next week I hope to have received my new battle armors from Ironwind Metals, then the work begins to paint up some more units for a VOTOMS/DOUGRAM-style mecha game.

Til next time!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Episode 5: Get to the starport; a Clash on the Fringe Campaign AAR

Last time on the Saga of Clarke:

Tycho the smuggler and Clarke, our hero, took a contract to help the Unity guard to escort an important VIP across Churchill 7 to the next big city.

Only a single apc with a squad of Unity guardsmen was what passed for a convoy, and so they started traveling.

At the last leg of the journey, trouble finally caught up with them.

A group of cultists, known as the Blood Cult, where after the VIP. They had set up an ambush with a roadblock and had several trucks with armed cultists standing by to grab the escorteé.

The apc was knocked out quickly, revealing the identity of the VIP; A Saurian psion called Tai, and a bloody battle started. Clarke and Tycho cut a swathe through the enemy, giving a good account of themselves.
 Eventually the elite cultists calling themselves "the chosen" managed to swamp Tycho, but Clarke took care of them and dragged his new partner to safety.

When the last few stragglers were mopped up, our heroes were offered a job by Tai, who needed someone to come with him to a nearby planet, as well as protect him from harm.

Clarke and Tycho accepted, and after a night of celebrating they set about preparing for the next adventure, repairing and acquiring new gear and training.

Their destination was the local starport, as they needed a ship.

 This part of the city seemed like any other, but unbeknownst to our heroes the Blood Cult had found them yet again!

 This is where we find our heroes, taking shelter behind some buildings.

"How the hell did they find us so fast?" Clarke muttered under his breath.
"I suppose one of the drivers could have gotten away outside the gates. Or maybe they had people waiting here already.." Tycho posited.
"Makes sense, a backup in case I made it through the ambush" Tai stated, looking around the corner for a split-second before turning to Clarke and Tycho.
 "We need to get to the spaceport, they mustn't capture me, or all is lost!" the Saurian stared out over the city, signaling the conversation was done.

"Ok, let's get going then." Clarke checked the magazine and made sure all systems were green on his suit, this might get ugly.

The cultists they'd spotted minutes before started coming around the corner, weapons at the ready, screaming for them to come out.
 "As you wish." the bounty hunter took a grenade from his belt, and tossed it towards the first to come infront of the building.

The explosion knocked both men off their feet, one is killed, the body crumpling with a sickening thud against the wall of the nearby building.

Stunned by the quick attack, the cultists are shocked and stay in place.
 Taking advantage of the enemy's inaction, Clarke runs through the building, looking for a window that faces the remaining cultists.

On the top floor he finds one, and rakes the street with fire, making the machinegunner drop to the ground, dodging his shots.
With Clarke supressing the enemy, Tycho moves up to the enge of the barrier. A bullet knocks a chip into the permacrete, and whips past his head, missing by mere inches. His dual pistols boom, sending cultists scrambling for cover. "Clarke, would you kindly make sure they're all down before you tell me it's clear?"
"Sorry about that, didn't see that last one Tycho." the bounty hunter said over the comms, gunfire barely audiable with the suit's built-in filters.

"Tai, where clear now I think."
 "No we ain't, there's one guy still standing by the alley." Tycho cut in.

 A great rush of air was heard, and suddenly Tai came speeding around the north corner. He hit the standing cultist in the back, and even Clarke, inside the building heard the crack of the spine snapping in two.

"Ouch, I'd hate to be that guy" he said, not quite wincing.

The psion's momentum was great enough to carry him within striking distance of the machinegunner as well and he crashed into him.

His strike was swift and unforgiving, cracking the cowering cultist over the head. The foe was dead before he hit the ground.
"You won't take me alive, I deny your masters!" Tai shouted triumphantly. 
The Blood Cult was not the only enemies that had tracked them here, the Nomad pirates still had a bone to pick with Clarke over what they considered their rightfull bounty. A squad now entered to the south, intent on a reckoning.

 As Tycho crossed the road, the gauss rounds of a gilded pirate's rifle started crashing all around him!
"Eh, more friends of yours?" he asked his two traveling companions.
"I don't have any quarrels with the Nomad fleet in this sector!" Tai shot back defensivly.
"No, that's probably for me, I busted a few of them and shot up a few more a while back. They'd taken something that wasn't their's to take, I just got it back. Nothing personal, for me anyways." Clarke admitted.
 "Great, any more pissed off aliens I should look out for?"
"Not unless you count the deema collective, no. but they are sort of out shared blame, dont you think?"

The air shimmered and Tai's staff started to emitt that faint light again, just before he took a step towards one of the cultists. With one swing most of the left side of the man was atomized, and the other half fell over limp.
Just as he falls, a blood-curdling set of cries can be heard from the north-west, closing fast. Some more cultists have come to join the hunt!

 "It must be our lucky day, wouldn't you say Tycho?" Clarke sighed as he made his way down the steppes of the building.
"Seems like we're mighty popular today, don't it?

Tycho's reply came seconds before the booming of his handguns. Chunks of permacrete and plaster pelted the armour of the gilded pirate, forcing him back behind the edge. Tycho took the opportunity to keep an eye out as Clarke exited the building.

Another swoosh of hot air, and Tai came speeding by, overtaking Clarke and stopping behind the next barrier.
"Time is of the essence gentlemen, we mustn't delay." he came in over the comms, obviously a little out of breath.

As the fire eased up, the nomads started following their quarry, but came under fire from the bloodthristy cultists as soon as they left the relative safety of the buildings shadow.

Their tough vacuum-rated battle armour held though, and they initiated their counter-attack!
 Gauss rounds streamed from the pirate bringing up the rear, reaching all the way to the offending cultists. One of them fell over, grabbing his leg, blood spurting from the wound.

The purple suit with him decided to shoot some too, and took aim at the cowering last cultist over by the first multi-storey. A sitting duck, he was quickly riddled with holes..
The remaining four cultists just charged ahead, their bloodlust greater than the caution instilled by their losses.

Tycho peeks around the corner as he hears the shots, and spots the purple suit.

Two loud bangs, and the nomad falls over, suit punctured and broken.

Having heard the commotion, a local Unity patrol shows up to see what the fuzz is about. While killing non-unity citizens is still a crime, the local officials tend not to investigate if they can get out of it, simply because of the nightmarish amount of paperwork.
A cursory inspection must be made however, since one or more of those involved might be Unity citizens, and also to make sure that no unauthorized devices or forbidden munitions are carried by either side. That is a serious crime, with some substantial jail-time attached to it after all. And much less paperwork needs to be filed.

Having seen no overtly hostile action just yet, the Unity commander orders his troopers to deploy shock grenades, hoping to subdue and capture a few troublemakers.

Tycho shouts as his senses are overloaded, the shock grenades blanking out his vision and created a huge bang. He falls to the ground, trying to keep low despite his blindness.
A shout is heard from the Unity troopers as well, as one of their grenade-launchers misfire, and the grenade goes off in their midst. They drop to the ground.

The pirates started moving up the alley infront of our heroes, shooting at Tycho as they go. The shots go wide, harmlessly hitting the wall behind him. A gilded nomad is ordered to double-time it up the lenght of the building, ambushing Clarke from behind! Only the lightning reflexes of the bounty hunter save him from serious injury, but he is thrown to the ground by the force of the impacts.

Shaking off the worst of the effects, Tycho joins Tai by the next barrier. He luckily escapes harm from both Unity and Nomads firing on him, and his guns even cause a trooper to seek cover as bullets come flying his way!

Dusting himself off, Clarke gets to his feet, firing a supressive volley at the gilded pirate. As his adversary ducks into cover, Clarke legs it for a better position.
"I'll try to cover your approach to the port, get moving." Clarke spoke into the suits mic.
"That might be a easier said than done, boss." came Tycho's response. The gunfire was audible trough the com-link.

Clarke didn't respond, but kept running.
As he came around the corner, the pirates opened fire.

There was no time to hesitate, so he kept running, firing more to distract his opponents rather than to hit them.

Throwing himself through the door, Clarke have just made a near impossible run!

He stops to catch his breath, and to make a plan to get all of them out of here alive.

Even more pirates show up, having been called to aid their brothers in capturing the bounty hunter.

As they enter this section of the city, they are quickly set upon by the bloodthirsty cult!

The inferno-cannon blazed, and auto rifles fired.

Three of the pirates fell to the fire and other to bullets, while the third one dropped quickly enough to avoid losing his head.

The gilded pirate is knocked over when his armour is hit by a cascade of bullets from some of the cultists.

Unity doesn't take kindly to being fired upon, like most people. The commander ordered the use of live ammunition. Shooting at Unity officials is a serious crime after all!

 His corporal opened fire on Tycho, as payback for earlier.
 Tycho dodges to the best of his abilities, nearly getting out of the way. The hit is superficial, but still makes him wince with pain.

On the other side of the building, one of the Unity troops that dropped the grenade of themselves had snapped out of it.

His vision returning, he saw the newly-arrived pirates and remebered the order for live rounds to be used. Said and done, he fired a burst of shots at the back of the nomad, dropping him on the spot.

Having few of Clarke's qualms about fighting the law, Tai drew on his powers, the blue light shimmering around his staff. Charging headlong at the Unity commander, he swings wildly. The commander is ready for him though. The poorly aimed swing goes over his head as he ducks below it, kicking out at the unarmoured torso of the Saurian. Tai is knocked back, landing on his backside.

 Sensing things are getting out of hand, Clarke desides to step in. Kicking the door to the building open as the exits into the street, he fires his rifle.
 The commander is knocked into cover by a glancing hit, and the bounty hunter takes aim at the Unity corporal. He shoots out the joints of the suit, trapping the trooper inside as the power to his extremities dies. He just hopes that he didn't do too much permanent damage, the corporal is only doing his job after all..

 As the shots ring out, the Nomads re-double their efforts to reach Clarke and his crew before the Unity could capture them.
 One trooper thought he could sneek up on Tycho and use him as leverage to get Clarke to surrender. He made the misstake of thinking the smuggler was an easy mark.
 Tycho turns as the pirate comes crashing towards him, stepping out of the way with minimal movement and firing once into the back of the pirates head.
 He falls down, faceplate shattered.

The remaining pirates come around the corner of the building, shooting at everyone they can see.
Clarke, the Unity commander and Tai all hit the ground, pinned by the sudden fire from an unexpected side.

Yet another patrol of Unity troopers show up, ready to reinforce law and order!

The troopers start moving out, dividing into two fire-teams, to tackle the troublemakers.
The gilded pirate goes down in a hail of bullets as the rear-most fireteam hoses the long street with automatic fire. A cultist is pinned down by a couple of near misses as well!

The last two members of the original pirate crew goes down as the second fireteam shoots them in the backs. They should have left someone to watch out for more Unity..

With the final shots, the second fireteam also hit Tycho, who is just visible to them. He falls over, incapacitated by the havy impacts. He recently installed some more anti-ballistic lining in his jacket, that most likely saved his life! But he is still down, and no good in a fight, and a fight they find themsleves in!

"Tycho, can you move?" Clarke asked anxiously
 "That's a negative boss, I can crawl I think.."
Clarke knows what he has to do.
 He rounds the corner in seconds, getting to the smuggler and stabilizing his wounds.

"You'll be ok buddy, just hang in there." He says reassuringly as he drags the injured man to his feet.
 "We really need to stop meeting like this" Tycho says jokingly, wincing as he laughs at his own joke

Attempting to cover the alley with smoke, Clarke hurls a grenade. It goes too far, and ends up giving no usefull cover.
"It's never easy, is it?" Clarke thinks as he drags his partner along.
As he passes the concrete barrier, he hears a voice:
"Stop right there, you are under arrest." The commander is aiming his pistol at Clarke.
"All right, don't shoot." the bounty hunter moves slowly towards the commander, hands in the air.
 When he is close enough, he whips out a suit-enhanced fist at the commander, striking him in the head, knocking him down and out.
"Nothing personal, I just really need to get to the port with my friends here." he states apollogetically to the unconcious soldier.

 Charging forward with his incinerator gushing flames. A Unity soldier fires as the cultist closes on them, his rifle spitting death. Disemboweled, the cultist slumps over.

The remaining cultists focus on the Unity guards coming in from the south.

Automatic fire yet again flared through the alleys, flying relentlessly towards the guards.

They dove for cover, firing back as they flattened themselves to the ground. The cultists fire was not accurate, but at the exessive volume did the trick in the end, leaving both patrolmen bleeding in the street.
Things were looking dark indeed, the Unity patrol closed in on our heroes. Tai gave a roar as one of their shots tore through his robes, knocking him to the ground.

They were now surrounded, falling on the finish-line as it were.
Clarke scanned the guardsmen, looking for a way to break through. If he did, he'd have to leave his allies behind, something he'd never do.

"Surrender, you are surrounded!" came the call from the Unity commander, now back on his feet.
 "We were only defending ourselves, as we are allowed by all the charters and laws of the Unity" Clarke responded calmly, still scanning for a way to turn this around.
 "That still doesn't explain why you engaged my peacekeepers" The commander blared at the bounty hunter, rubbing his sore jaw.
 "Take me to see your captain, commander, I'll explain this to him, as well as your unprovoked use of shock grenades on my friend here." Clarke patted the injured Tycho on the shoulder and motioned towards the space port's doors. "Shall we?"
"Let's go then."

As they are being led through the corridors of the port, Clarke spots something familiar for a brief second as they pass a viewport. Could it be?

It certainly was! It's the Cormorant! carefully keeping his voice down, he speaks in soft tones to his companions: "I think I just found our ride out of here, just follow my lead, and we'll be on our way soon." Tai and Tycho looked over at him, nodding carefully to acknowledge their agreement.

They had a plan. Now they just needed to convince the local guard-captain that they should be released..

What will happen when they meet the captain? How did their enemies find them, and what other dangers lurks within the starport?

Tune in next episode to find out!