Thursday 23 July 2015

ATZ Short Stories: The Rescue


It's been quite a while since we last played All Things Zombie, so here's a game just to show that we haven't forgotten about it.  If the terrain looks a little familiar, that's because we used essentially the same table that we had set up for Scooby Doo and the Death Knight; we didn't feel like creating a new layout!

The Scenario

The swiftness of the zombie apocalypse has caught out a number of people as they try to carry on with their regular lives.  At one country club & golf course, the members and staff have been preparing to evacuate when someone remembers that there is an old woman (Mabel) who lives alone in a nearby cottage.  She needs to be evacuated as well, so a small band of volunteers is put together to find her and return to the relative safety of the clubhouse.  Simple, really - what could go wrong?

The Rescue Party

  • Catriona: REP 4, golf club, brawler.  A keen amateur golfer and current ladies champion.
  • Melanie: REP 4, shotgun, initiative.  Head of ground-keeping staff, though she prefers working alone in the wilder parts of the estate over keeping the fairways and greens tidy.
  • Scott, REP 4, pistol, attractive.  A college student earning some money with a part-time job cleaning toilets and the like.
  • Mary, REP 3, golf club, dim.  Another member, though she's really in it for the social life and the club's shop rather than the outdoor exercise.

So, what happened?

The would-be rescuers ran along the north of the area, trying to stay behind cover.  There were quite a few zombies in the location, though only a few had seen the people.  The rest just wandered aimlessly through the woods or along the banks of the stream.

Briefly, the humans wondered if they could climb into the ruined tower from behind.  They reasoned that it would be good cover and - if the worst came to the worst - could be defended more easily than many places.  However, none of them managed to scale the 6 feet high back wall [I gave them a challenge vs. REP, but no-one passed 2 dice.  Also, it didn't occur to the players to ask if they could help each other up...].

After this, they jogged on towards the wooded, hilly area.  In theory that should provide cover for much of the trip towards the cottage.

[Note that the yellow markers are "Possible Enemy Forces", or PEFs.  These stalked the rescue party for several turns and made them quite nervous, though in the end all three of the PEFs were resolved as just figments of the characters' imaginations]

Round the back of the woods, however, the party ran headlong into a couple of zombies that they hadn't seen until then.  "No shooting!  We don't want to attract any more" hissed Melanie.  "We can take them - there are more of us than them".

Although everyone in the party had elected to charge, only Catriona passed her "brown pants" test and actually ran forwards.  The other 3 all had second thoughts when they were close enough to smell the rotting flesh and see the dead faces with strips of flesh hanging off them...

Catriona swung her golf club enthusiastically at first - she knocked down one of the zombies before the other one attacked her.  She knocked down the second one as well, but by then the first one had regained its feet and was threatening her again.  "Damn it!" she cried out in frustration - this was not going the way it was supposed to go.

After several turns where Catriona fended off first one zombie and then the other, Scott plucked up enough courage to charge into the melee.  He'd have done better to stay out of it, for the zombie he attacked clawed at him and sent the young man reeling with blood streaming down his face.

The distraction did finally give Catriona the breathing space to brain the other zombie, though her driver would never be the same again.

Before Scott could recover, the remaining zombie was upon him, biting and tearing gobbets of flesh away from his head and torso.  The 3 women were horrified; they scattered, running this way and that in a panic.  Other zombies were approaching from several directions to join the feast, so the humans ended up running through the woods and away from the awful scene.

The rescue party became strung out as they ran, with the fitter Catriona reaching the bridge before Mary had even cleared the woods.

However before she could cross, a gaggle of zombies appeared from the far side and blocked her way.

They were close enough to smell, but the zombies hadn't quite made contact.  Thinking quickly, Catriona called over her shoulder "Hide somewhere!  I'll draw them off and rejoin you."  Certain that the zombies had fixed their attentions on her, she fled across the open ground towards the tents.  Nearby, Mary and Melanie hunkered down behind the abandoned tractor, out of sight.

The plan may well have worked, but for a truly bizarre incident.  The lead figure on the bridge shouted out "Wait for me!  I'm not a zombie, please help me!"  He was Willie, a local hobo who had been mistaken by the zombies for one of their own.  But now he had revealed himself...

...and the other 3 zombies immediately fell on the hapless man from behind, knocked him to the ground and started to devour his corpse.

Melanie had fired her shotgun once at the zeds on the bridge to try to save the revealed human, but without success.  The noise did attract some more shamblers though, so the women all relocated behind a small clump of pine trees and waited for the feast to end and the zombies to lose interest and lurch away.  They waited and waited and waited [it was extraordinary how many times the zombies  failed their activation rolls and the humans passed theirs.  Must have been 8 or 10 turns in a row...].

Eventually, after much slow feeding, the crowd of zombies began to drift away in random directions.  Some headed back into the woods, but 4 of them crossed back over the bridge towards the cottage.  Mary, Melanie and Catriona decided that they wouldn't get a better chance than this, so they tiptoed across the bridge, praying that the retreating walkers wouldn't look round.

The zombies paused, perhaps listening for sounds of further prey.  However, the 3 women dared not remain in the open; they crept behind the rotters and quickly hid round the back of the house.  At least they'd be safe here for a time, while they figured out what to do next.  They tried the 2 windows along the west side of the building, but these were shut firmly and the humans didn't want to draw attention to themselves by breaking the glass and making a noise.

The rescuers were so close to their goal now, when we rolled another random event.  In one of those you could't make this up if you tried moments, we drew the Barking Dog card.  A small, terrified and very, very noisy beagle ran gratefully up to the humans.  It was thrilled to find masters who didn't smell of death or try to eat it; perhaps they might even have some dog food?

Of course, all the existing zombies heard it - and another 4 were following hard on the dog's heels!

Realising that their plan was in tatters, the women turned to flee with the dog tagging along as well.  Catriona was at the back of the group; she felt the cold, clammy hands grabbing at her shoulders as the zombies caught up with the group.

As Catriona fell in a mist of blood, Mary and Melanie fled.  They ran and ran, not looking back and were only aware of the dog's presence because of the happy little "wuff" noises that it occasionally made.


Err, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, right?  This was a bit of a disaster really, though not because of anything that the players did wrong.

We were playing in a rural area with encounter level of 2, so random events and newly-spawned zombies were a low probability.  However, I don't think that I've ever seen 2 random events occur which each ruined the player's plans so comprehensively!

So, we'll never know if the old woman is indeed hiding in the cottage and awaiting a rescue, will we?

Sunday 19 July 2015

Batrep: Scooby Doo and the Death Knight


Recently, I wrote an article about introducing plot points (as used by the "Pulp Alley" ruleset) into the "Fear and Faith" rules so that we could play a Scooby Doo game.  My deliberations on the subject can be found here.  "Fear and Faith" is a set of rules that is specifically designed for horror games (including comedy-horror!); it's derived from the ever-popular "Song of Blades and Heroes" fantasy skirmish set and therefore should produce a tense and exciting game.

In that previous article, I promised a report as soon as we played our first game.  This has now happened, so here's the article...

The Scenario

We decided that we'd play a variant of Pulp Alley's "Trail of Clues" scenario.  In this, 2 plot points are placed on the board, with others placed later as/when the first ones are solved.

Time Limit

The game would start at dawn.  Each time the good player rolled a turnover [i.e. 2 or more failures on an activation roll], the clock would advance through the following stages:
Dawn [game start] ->dawn2 ->daytime ->daytime2 ->evening ->evening2 ->night [game ends]
In other words, the game would be over once the good side had rolled a total of 6 turnovers.


  • Each minor plot point solved by the good side would be worth 1VP.
  • The major plot point would be worth 3VP to the good side, if solved.
  • The evil side would start the game with 2VP.  Hopefully this would give the good side some sense of urgency, since they couldn't just sit back and claim a draw for doing nothing!
  • The evil side would also gain 1VP for each good character that was eliminated.
This gave the good side a maximum possible of 7VP (if every plot point was solved) and the evil side a mutually-exclusive maximum possible of 7VP (if all the good characters were knocked out).  Seems fair to me.

The Forces


  • The 5 members of "Mystery Inc" (aka the "Scooby Doo gang").  See here for details.


  • The "Death Knight".  A scary, powerful skeletal knight.  Who knows if it's really a man in a rubber mask, though?
  • 3 Spectres.  These are immaterial and have the haunt characteristic, which means that they are both unable to move outside of a preset area and are impossible to defeat with conventional melee.  However, they are vulnerable to a character with conviction, such as Fred or Velma.
  • Crazy Joe.  Q5+, C2, Morose.  A cheap "extra"; his morose ability will lower activation rolls for friend and foe who are near him.
  • Farmer Benton.  Q5+, C2.  A cheap extra with no particularly interesting abilities.
  • Rex (Benton's dog).  Q5+, C2.  Ditto.
  • 3 college students (Maxwell, Judy and Brad).  Q5+, C1, whatever!  More cheap fillers, though the whatever! effect has the potential to shock and stun nearly good guys.
Note that most of the evil side are not monsters.  Indeed, I view them more as bystanders and distractions rather than as agents of the bad guy.  They're not present to fight with Mystery Inc, though in game terms melee is a viable choice.  Any such contests represent argument, misdirection (intentional or not) and just general obstruction rather than physical punch ups.

The Setting

To the north-west of the table, there's a ruined tower (not a genuine medieval castle, but perhaps a deliberate folly constructed by some American magnate during the last century).  Nearby is a campsite for a summer study group of some type.  Across the river there is a slightly seedy farmer's cottage and in the foreground there is a wooded valley between 2 hills.

The initial 2 plot points have been deployed, one in the campsite and one in the valley.  The evil forces have also been placed; they're fairly well scattered around the table but with a spectre near each of the current plot points.

The Game

The Camp

Fred was in something of a daze as Mystery Inc disembarked from their van, so Shaggy, Daphne and Scooby pressed on to investigate the seemingly-deserted campsite.  Velma was a little way behind the lead group.

The campsite wasn't empty, though: a hideous apparition promptly floated across the meadow and through the group.  "Yoinks!" exclaimed Shaggy as he ran away.  Daphne stumbled backwards and tripped over a guy rope (or her high heels?); she fell over.

Shaggy stopped backing away from the spectre.  He had an uneasy feeling, so he took a quick look behind him.  There stood a hideous, black, skeletal knight, making awful wheezing sounds (the "Death Knight" had just run half the length of the table to get to this point)!

Meanwhile, a young student (Judy) approached Scooby and started to coo over him.  "What a cute puppy!" she said.  Let's see, you must be a poodle cross of some kind, I think".

"Ruppy?  Roodle?" gasped a shocked Scooby "Grr, rowf, rowf, rowf, ROWF!"  The college girl fled, crying loudly, just as Velma approached.  At the same time, the phantasm vanished [in game terms, Scooby scored a "gruesome kill" on poor Judy.  This then caused a fear test for all the evil side who were in range - and an immaterial model that fails a fear test is removed.  As the evil player, this effect was not something I had anticipated!].  The Death Knight also slunk away and hid in the morning shadows, though only temporarily.

Whilst Daphne stood up and dusted herself off, Scooby and Velma rooted around the campsite, looking for clues.  "This cable looks as if it goes to a projector of some type" said Velma, as she uncovered something in the grass.  "I wonder if it's high or low voltage?".  There was a flash and a bang as she discovered the answer the hard way - by being zapped [Velma and Scooby attempted the challenge for the plot point; it turned out to be a C3 physical attack.  Scooby shrugged it off, but poor Velma was "killed"].

"A crue!" exclaimed Scooby triumphantly as he dragged out some packaging from the edge of the campfire.  It was some packaging with a return label giving the address for the "Acme Halloween Costume" company.  Daphne took one look and said "Oh, great!  Another maniac in a rubber mask, right?"  [The reward for the plot point was indeed "It's a rubber mask", which would penalise the evil side in combat for the next turn].

"Um, guys" said Velma, looking pale and unsteady after her electric shock.  "I don't feel too good.  You go on without me; I'll just rest here for a while."

The Valley

With Fred still in his own dream world, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby started to make their way towards the next plot point, in the wooded valley [after the solution of the first plot point, a 3rd one had been deployed on the bridge across the river, but it seems that they weren't interested in that].

Although they had some close calls, all of the heroes managed to avoid the clutches of the Death Knight as they crossed the field.

Fred, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky.  He thought that he had seen a monster and consequently wasn't watching his feet.  When he tripped and landed flat on his back, an obnoxious college student (Brad) was right there to "help" him up again.  This obstruction cost him quite a bit of time.

Reaching the wooded valley first, Daphne and Scooby tried to skirt round the hill to approach the hill.  Once again, a waiting spectre charged at them from out of the undergrowth.  Daphne fell over in surprise [not again!], whilst Scooby fled a short distance.

Recovering from their initial fright, the pair tried to climb the mound again.  this time, they were accosted by Crazy Joe, the ruined tower's custodian.  His foul mutterings and shouts scared Daphne so much that she turned and fled, whilst Scooby lost his footing, rolled down the hill and lay at the bottom, stunned.  [Joe's 'morose' attribute made it difficult for anyone near him to avoid him or do anything else that was useful - including the spectre!  When he did attack Scooby and Velma, he was outnumbered and should have been at some disadvantage.  However, in a major upset, he scored a "gruesome kill" against Daphne and this sent Scooby reeling in fright].

Crazy Joe ran down the hill to finish off Scooby Doo.  His swearing and thrashing of the undergrowth with a stick was too much for the poor hound; Scooby bolted away through the trees and wasn't seen again, at least during this game.

Meanwhile, Fred (who had finally shaken off the attentions of both Brad and the Death Knight) had caught up with Shaggy.  Together they approached the area from the other side.

However, it was Shaggy alone who completed the plot point.  He reached down a rabbit hole and drew out an item wrapped in waterproof cloth.  "Ouch, that hurts!" he exclaimed, as the rabbit scolded him for the intrusion by nipping at his fingers [once again, the challenge was a C3 attack - but this time Shaggy wasn't "injured" by it and could carry on].

"Look out!" called Fred, as an oblivious Shaggy scratched his head and wondered what he had found.  He had seen the spectre approaching Shaggy from one side and Crazy Joe from the other.  Fred ran up the hill towards the apparition, but slowed as he drew near.  "It's just a projection!" he exclaimed.  The projector device was hidden, but not so well that Fred couldn't find and disable it within moments [normally, a character wouldn't be able to melee an 'immaterial' model.  However, Fred had the 'conviction' trait, which permitted him to disregard superstitious explanations and instead look for a physical solution.  His combat rating of C3 made short work of the C0 spectre - and his easy victory caused a daunted Crazy Joe to step back a few paces as well!].

The End

Buoyed by his last success, Shaggy called out "I got this!" and ran through the woods and up the next hill.  There, he found the 4th minor plot point and attempted to solve it.  No-one was there to see what happened, but Shaggy ran away, screaming in terror [I can't remember what the plot challenge was for this one, but I think it might have been the 'scary' one.  Either that or yet another C3 attack.  Either way, Shaggy failed the challenge miserably and fled for his life, never to return].

On his own now, Fred was being pursued closely by the Death Knight, who had finally caught up, almost.  Fred ran and ran...

...until the villain trapped him amongst the trees.  Fred's conviction was of no help now, as the all-too-real physical foe beat him senseless!  As evening fell, the last hope for Mystery Inc to solve the case of the Death Knight faded into nothing...


This game was a bit frustrating for both sides, I think.  Although the adaptations and scenario we used are in the right direction, there's something still not quite right about it all and it didn't really work as we'd have liked.  Ok, let's see if I can figure out what are the problems:

  1. Fear tests.  Every time a monster charges one of the good models, that figure takes a fear test.  Unless the target either passes 3 dice against their quality stat (or fails all 3!) then the overwhelmingly likely result is that they will either recoil a base depth or flee a short distance.  Either way, the monster has failed to make contact.  So, assuming that the good side doesn't want to rumble and charge the monster themselves, just how does anything from the evil side ever fight a melee, let alone win one?  I think we must have interpreted something in the Fear and Faith rules incorrectly here, but I can't see what.  I'll need to make inquiries.
  2. Time Limits.  The idea of having a time-limited scenario with multiple objectives was spot on, I think.  It was intended to encourage the good side to "split up and look for clues".  However, basing the time limit on turnovers didn't lead to the desired result.  Indeed, it had exactly the opposite effect, as the good player moved extremely cautiously so as to avoid double-activation-failures (i.e. turnovers).  Indeed, it's a strange artifact of the Song of Blades and Heroes activation mechanism that the more you try to do in a turn, the less you're typically able to accomplish.  Do a few things reliably, or take a chance on doing more or doing nothing.  So, perhaps a more traditional "number of turns" mechanism would have worked better?  I'm not sure...
Finally, here are some other thoughts.  I'm not sure if these are problems that need addressing or not, though:
  • "Crazy Joe", the morose character, had an effect out of all proportion to his cost.  His morose trait acted as a huge and unexpected drag on all characters near him, but especially on the good side because there were more of them.  And then, his combat abilities seemed nothing short of amazing, though it has to be recognised that he saw off Daphne and Scooby through luck as much as anything else.  "Gerroff moi land!  And don't come back, you young whippersnappers!"
  • The house rules for the "Trail of Clues" adaptation didn't work too well.  Since only the good side could solve plot points (see my previous article), they could always place the next plot point fairly close to their current position.  This made it virtually impossible for the lesser "evil" characters to be in the right place to interfere as the game went on.  Remember the farmer and his dog from the force list, or the 3rd spectre?  They never got anywhere close to the action.
  • The challenges for the plot points seemed to be quite tough.  Out of 3 plot points attempted, 2 characters were lost.  Again, how much of that was just bad luck as opposed to unreasonably hard challenges, though?  I'm not sure...
  • I like the idea of having the "civilians" (or at least a large part of them) controlled by the evil player and used to distract, confuse and hinder the good guys.  However, it seems a little odd that the loss of such a "civilian" should cause a morale test for the monsters.  Similarly, the letter of the rules would have a civilian cause a fear test when he or she charges, just because they're part of the evil team.
    Perhaps we should have played them as a separate "faction", still controlled by the evil player in his/her turn, but acting as if they were good models otherwise [i.e. not causing fear tests when they charge, but being affected by fear of the monsters just as the heroic side's models would be].  Indeed, here's a thought: could the evil player have one of his monsters attack one of his "civilians", in order to cause a fear test in nearby heroes when they see a "friend" lost?  Hmm...
So, will we play Scooby Doo again?  Yes, I think so, probably.  However, I think there will need to be changes to some of the house rules first.  It's close, but not quite there yet...

Thursday 16 July 2015

Necron Destroyers: completed!


This is a slightly unusual post for 2 reasons:
  1. I don't normally build or paint Games Workshop's sci-fi models.  That's not because I don't like them (many of them are very fine indeed, though a few are just grotesque), but rather because they're so d***ed expensive.  Occasionally I hunt out bargains on eBay though; I have significant numbers of older Tyranids and Necrons...
  2. Few models of mine are inspired by other bloggers, at least not in the short term.  Usually my reaction to seeing someone else's work is to mull it over for a few months or years before deciding whether to do something inspired by it.  However it's only been a couple of weeks or so (hmm, more like 4 or 5 really) since Clint of "Anything but a one" posted several articles on his "Rusty Regiment".  This got me thinking that I have some Necrons of my own in need of some paint...

The Commander

Now, I had painted this guy up some years ago.  He's a Destroyer Lord - a regular Necron body, head and arms mounted on a large anti-grav platform.  Presumably this platform provides the lord with much greater power reserves than legs would, so he's correspondingly tougher than a foot warrior.

The machine itself is an out-of-the-box build, but I've added some scenic elements to the base.  In this case, he's crashing over some sandbags, coils of barbed wire and an unfortunate infantryman.  The human casualty was built up from a spare EM-4 trooper head & torso with some crudely sculpted arms attached.  He's not got any legs, since they would be covered by the vehicle anyway.

The New Guys

As well as the lord, I had built 2 heavy destroyers at the same time.  However I never got round to painting them - until now!

There's nothing much to distinguish the 2 new Necrons apart from the details on the base.  The first one is about to ride over a freshly-dug grave...

...whereas the second destroyer has taken a near miss from an unexploded bomb (bottom right, just behind the vehicle).


Looking at this picture makes it very obvious how the decals on the Lord (on the tail end of his machine) are badly silvered.  I used a different technique on the 2 more recent bodyguards; maybe I'll scratch off the older decals from the first model and apply new ones?

Whilst I have no immediate plans to use these for any game, I'm glad that I've finished the trio.  They're actually very simple to paint; few colours are used and there's not a lot of detail to be picked out.  Hmm - I've still got quite a lot of Necron foot warriors to build - I wonder if I should get them out and make a start...

Sunday 12 July 2015

Playing Scooby Doo games with "Fear and Faith"


There is a great set of miniatures rules called Song of Blades and Heroes (hereafter "SoBH") that is designed for fantasy skirmishes.  I've used it before in Robin Hood and Witch-Hunting scenarios and have had some great games with both settings.

Andrea Sfiligoi (owner of Ganesha Games and author of SoBH) has written many other sets of rules that use roughly the same mechanics for different genres.  Of interest to this article is Fear and Faith ("FaF"), which is designed for horror battles.  FaF covers an enormous range of possible battles, whether a classic Gothic vampire confronted by Victorian gentlemen or modern heroes fighting off werewolves.  Or mad slashers, poltergeists, zombies, chupacabras and many other things!

To go even further down this route, there is a supplement for FaF called Kooky Teenage Monster Hunters ("KTMH").  KTMH covers most modern "teen" horror settings (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight &c); it even has profiles for a "cowardly canine detective" and a set of 4 "teenage mystery reporters".  So that's it - why do I even need to come up with my own house rules?  After all, FaF and KTMH have all the necessary profiles and scenarios between them - surely that's enough!

Detective Stories

It all comes down to the type of scenario.  Most wargames scenarios are written with the fighting uppermost in the author's mind, I think.  Victory conditions are set so that conflict plays a major part of the game, with other activities being either relegated to second best or being dropped altogether.  Perhaps some victory points will be given for having control of an arbitrary piece of landscape at the conclusion, but there's little connection between this condition and the developing narrative throughout the game.

I postulate that there is a category of games where the journey is more important than the fighting.  This might be clearer if I label the concept as "Detective Stories".  I believe that the bulk of such a story is essentially the hunt for clues.  Conflict may well exist (almost certainly!) as opposing interests compete for these clues or even as neutrals or natural forces react to trespassing investigators, but it's not the focus of the tale.

Examples?  There are many, I think, but here are just a few:
  • Sherlock Holmes.  Or Philip Marlowe.  Or even The Sweeney, Starsky and Hutch and other "cop" shows.  Fist-fights or shoot-outs may well occur in a story, especially towards the climax, but aren't the real point.
  • Doctor Who.  The good doctor meets many varied and dangerous creatures, but is famous for not fighting.  Instead, he tries to solve the problems in peaceful ways.
  • and, of course, Scooby Doo!  The story is always about solving the mystery, not about dispatching enemies.  And here's the problem: as written, too many wargames rules have plenty of detail on how to fight, but little else.

Pulp Alley

I know of one set of games rules that does take investigation seriously.  That's Pulp Alley, which has an extensive section on "plot points".  A game will have 4 minor and 1 major plot point; the scenario dictates where (and when) they will appear.

Roughly, a plot point can be regarded as a victory condition but with a twist.  In broad terms, they have the following characteristics:
  • A name or description.  Instead of just being a generic "plot point", it might be a "Jade Amulet", a "Power Regulator", a "Lost Shipment" or a "Clever Child".
  • Victory points.  OK, this is fairly traditional.
  • To recover a plot point, a model doesn't just pick it up.  Instead the model must overcome a challenge.  There are many different types of challenge in Pulp Alley, but basically they all involve passing a roll against some statistic and suffering a consequence on failure.
  • The side that takes control of a plot point gets a reward, which confers immediate in-game benefits.  You don't have to wait until the end of the game to get the benefits!

Scooby Doo

So, how does this work for Scooby Doo, as played with Fear and Faith?  I propose to take the plot point mechanism from Pulp Alley and adjust it a little.  Also, there will be a few other house rules to suit the genre a bit better:
  1. It's a family show: no-one is killed, especially not in a gruesome manner!  The game effects will still remain the same, but the character or monster will be deemed to have "run away" instead of being killed, or "run away, screaming loudly" instead of being killed gruesomely.  Similarly, "combat" may represent posturing or arguing with another model, not necessarily wrestling with them or using weapons.
  2. The detectives: only the good side may attempt the plot points.  The evil side is trying to impede detection of their nefarious plans and this will be best served by interfering with the good side rather than racing them to uncover the mystery.  To compensate the evil side for this handicap, they will start with a victory point advantage and the scenario will be time-limited.  The good guys therefore will have to solve the mystery to win and will have to do it in a timely manner!
  3. Cowards!  Scooby and Shaggy may not intentionally enter a combat with anyone or anything that has a combat rating higher than 1.  If they do become involved in such a fight then they may strike back as normal; the restriction is purely on initiating the melee.
  4. Plot points: the attempt:
    Attempting to solve a plot point will require 2 actions to be spent in the same turn (3 actions for a major plot point).  These actions may come from multiple characters - as long as they're controlled by a single player and all actions are spent in the same turn.
  5. Plot points: the challenge:
    When a plot point is attempted, all the models that are part of the attempt will be subject to the same challenge, chosen randomly from this list:
    1. Scary!  Take a standard Fear Test (with a -1 modifier for a major plot point).
    2. Entangled!  The model(s) must resist a "transfix spell" as if cast with 2 successes (3 for a major plot point).
    3. Damaged!  Each model is the target of a C3 attack (C4 for a major plot point).  Resolve each combat separately, with no bonuses for multiple participants in the melee.
    4. Lost!  Make a 3-dice quality check.  On 2 failures (1 for a major plot point), the opponent may relocate the model anywhere within M.  On 3 failures, the opponent may relocate the model anywhere on the board.  Such relocation may be into contact with an enemy model, but not anywhere that results in certain death such as a blast furnace, bottomless pit, outer space...
    5. Cursed!  The model(s) must resist a "curse spell" as if cast with 2 successes (3 for a major plot point).
    Should at least 1 of the attempting models survive the challenge without being transfixed, knocked down, lost or running away then the reward may be claimed.
    If the reward cannot be claimed on this occasion, the plot point may be attempted again in future turns (keep the same challenge, though!)
  6. Plot points: the reward:
    On successfully withstanding a challenge, the reward for the plot point is then be claimed.  There will be victory points to won; these will depend on the scenario.  Additionally, an in-game effect will be chosen randomly from the following list:
    1. There you are!  A previously-lost (i.e. "dead" or run away) character is rescued and reappears at the plot point's location.
    2. Scooby Snacks!  For the next turn only, all the good side's models may pass 1 dice automatically during any quality check.  Note that this stacks with the Hero attribute; a model with hero would then have 2 automatic successes for that turn.
      Also while this reward is in effect, the Cowards! rule is suspended.  Scooby and/or Shaggy may charge into combat if desired!
    3. It's a rubber mask!  For the next turn only, opponents suffer a -2 to their rolls in melee.
    4. Relentless!  For the next turn only, the good side may carry on after rolling 2 failures in an activation test.  This bonus only applies to the first such occasion where 2 failures are rolled; after that such an even will cause a turnover as normal.


My apologies if this all seems to be a bit rambling.  I've been mulling over ideas like these for some time now, but without coming to any clear conclusions.  Perhaps writing them down and making my thoughts public will help to crystallise them?  I suppose we'll not really know how successful they are until after we've played a game or two.

Your thoughts and carefully-reasoned criticisms would be most welcome!

[UPDATE: The first game we've played under this system can be viewed here: Scooby Doo and the Death Knight]

Friday 3 July 2015

More 28mm Shieldmaidens


It's been just over 2 weeks since my last post, I think.  I haven't been away, or ill, or had computer troubles.  In truth, I just haven't felt like posting anything.  This came as a complete surprise to me, as in the past I've tried to post faithfully, twice a week - and have mostly managed that goal for the last 3 years or so.  Indeed, it's quite an effort even to motivate myself to write this much!  I'm not at all sure what's going on, but I'm really hoping that it'll pass soon and that I can get back into a more regular flow.

Bad Squiddo Games

The strange thing about my sudden malaise is that I did have plans for an article (i.e. this one)!  Just over 2 weeks I ordered some miniatures from a new company: the curiously-named Bad Squiddo Games.  For those who haven't come across Bad Squiddo yet, it's an offshoot of The Dice Bag Lady's enterprise.

As I understand it, Annie (who is the Dice Bag Lady) started by selling bags and pouches suitable for dice.  More recently, she's set up an online store to sell "believable female miniatures" - so no inappropriate clothing or unlikely anatomy here!  Most of her stock of female figures has been picked carefully from the existing ranges of well-known manufacturers, but there are a few models which are sold only by her, under the "Bad Squiddo" label.  At least, I think that's the way it works.

Shield Maidens

As soon as I saw the first Bad Squiddo miniatures, I decided that I wanted some!  At the time, there were 3 armed, Dark Age women in the range, though since then a 4th had been added.  Also I think you can now buy a female orc, though I'm not really interested in this figure myself.

 I ordered the 3 models on (I think) a Friday and very promptly received an e-mail from Annie apologising that she would be busy over the weekend and couldn't post the figures until Monday.  Well, that was just fine, since I wasn't in any great hurry - and it's nice to be kept informed.

In my mind's eye, these are probably women who have picked up whatever they could find to help defend their homes from raiders.  It's possible that they have joined a raid themselves, though - either planning this from the outset or maybe being more adventurous camp followers who have chosen to join in on the spur of the moment!

Solveig clearly comes from the richest family of the three women.  She's wearing chainmail and has the most brightly-coloured and decorated (& therefore most expensive) clothing.  Perhaps the other 2 women are poorer relations or neighbours?  Or even her old nurse and a maid?

The Timetable

I've often said to friends that the best way to make progress in the hobby (or indeed in most hobbies) is to use as many small slots of time as possible.  There are often periods during the day when I'm waiting for something and these periods can be usefully employed in reading, model-making or other such activities.  This might include 10 or 15 minutes after breakfast and before leaving for work, or a similar period after dinner whilst the kids are doing the washing up (well, I can dream about that latter, can't I?).  Indeed, I often find many such "gaps" during a typical day and while they can't all be used productively, some usually can.

I decided before I had even received the models that I would keep a record of when I made progress on the 3 shield maidens.  So here is the record of how it happened; I hope this is at least somewhat useful or interesting to someone:


  • Afternoon: package delivered
  • Evening: prepare & glue the figures, stick to 25mm washers and apply filler to level off the bases


  • Morning: trim the filler, glue sand to the bases
  • Afternoon: spray with primer/undercoat
  • Evening: paint flesh, boots, back of shields
  • Late evening: paint metalwork (chainmail, swords, helmet, shield bosses...)


  • Morning: brown undercoat on the bases
  • Evening: all taken up playing Dice Masters with my sons...
  • Late evening: highlights on base, undercoat front of shields


  • Morning: basecoat clothing
  • Evening: highlights of clothing


  • Morning (a longer session; perhaps 1 hour): decorations on clothing, gauntlets, eyes, belts, shield transfers, hair base colour, names on base rims
  • Evening: hair highlights, static grass.


  • Morning: varnish.  Done!


This has to come in 2 parts, I think.

1. The Miniatures

Firstly, the models themselves.  They're resin casts - I'm always slightly suspicious of resin, but that's probably just because I'm so used to metal figures.  I needn't have had any worries, though, as the casting and fit of these miniatures was very good.  Not quite top marks: there was a little flash (easily trimmed) and a few really tiny air bubbles, though nothing that you'd notice once the model was painted.  For what it's worth, I didn't add any filler or other remedial work to my figures.

Each miniature came in 3 parts: the weapon (and the hand holding it), the body and the shield.  These all fitted together very well, though I did pin the weapon hands to the arms.  I think this is probably over-cautious on my part, mind.

The sculpting of all 3 models is good, I think.  Gudrun (on the left, with the axe) has a rather long face, but not outside the normal range of possible humans.  Solveig (in the middle) is definitely my favourite; she looks like a noble's daughter or wife.  There's something about the face of Arndis (on the right, with the helmet) that's a little awkward, though.  I can't quite figure out if it's a technical casting issue, especially around the nose and eyes, or if the sculptor just didn't get it quite right.  Anyway this is really nit-picking: I'm very happy with all 3 models.

2. Believable Female Miniatures

Hallelujah!  At last someone has stood up to be counted, to push back against the worst excesses of misogyny in the hobby.  Now don't get me wrong: I'm a man and I do like women's bodies.  But there is a time and a place for everything.  There are very few places in gaming where gratuitous nakedness (partial or otherwise) is appropriate and none at all for the excessively "well-endowed" (and highly unrealistic) female form.  Yes, Raging Heroes: I'm looking at you (and others)!

Will this make any difference to the seemingly endless stream of miniatures of fantasy women (and I don't mean swords and sorcery in this context)?  Probably not.  But I've cast my vote, for what it's worth...

Of course, my Hordes of the Things "Barbarian" army will still be an equal opportunity zone, where both sexes are expected to dress in just their leather underwear, wield impossibly large weapons and have exaggerated, err, muscles!