30 May 2012

Colonel O'Truth's Miniature Issues: Suit You, Sir!

I guess today is "Link to other Blogs Day".  But if you don't already follow the Colonel's blog (and you should if you are a fan of all things VSF-y), you might miss his latest update on his current project. And that would be a shame.

Colonel O'Truth's Miniature Issues: Suit You, Sir!: Hi, All! Bazalgette Light Armoured Perambulatory Contrivance - ready for battle! ... almost... I've been threatening to update my repor...

One More Gaming Project: Quick and Easy 10mm/15mm Cemetery

As advertised, this is a very quick and easy terrain idea. And it has me thinking about an idea for the stanchions on the scout aeronef as well.

One More Gaming Project: Quick and Easy 10mm/15mm Cemetery: I needed to make a quick cemetery for the Cemetery Hill portion of my upcoming First Day of Gettysburg game at Origins. I got the idea to...

24 May 2012

Railing poll for the Unnamed Aeronef


   Ladies and gents, as I am suffering from over-analysis of a minor detail, I turn to you for assistance. At the top of the journal, you should see a poll. Please choose which option you think might look best for the scout aeronef. A few pictures here should help with your visualizations.

Roped Stantions. From Baron Von J.

Stantions available from Reviresco - with solid rails

  Any other thoughts, please feel free to comment!

22 May 2012

Now on the Table: Scout Aeronef


   I have just primed (in dark grey, if you must know) the casting of the Ironclads Miniatures Scout Aeronef that I purchased last month from Messer Skrapwelder. Soon it will be receiving the attentions of a brush!

Ironclad Miniatures's File Photo

   I like the model, but it has some casting flaws, especially around the portholes where it is thin. I am going to remedy this on the lower deck by making the portholes into gunports! A pair of Hotchkiss Revolviing Cannon in each broadside will teach Johnny Martian a bit of respect for Her Majesty's imperial authority!

   I also want to install a railing around the deck, a QF deck gun, another railing around the superstructure, possibly armoring the (currently) open superstructure instead. Maybe add a Nordenfelt up there as well? Any tips on how to do the railing would be appreciated.

19 May 2012

Fin Men of Venus


Rebel Minis just announced it's 15mm Deep Ones and though they certainly would work as such, their armament and long tails make them equally and perhaps better suited as yet another denizen of the jungle World of Venus. While they could be used as just another race of lizard men, I came up with a cool idea of them being some sort of swamp dwelling species that would be feared by all - the fin men.


Fin men would be a species of Venusians that would dwell in the murky water, their pale grey flesh melding them into the silt and muck, rendering them invisible to all bu the keenest eye. They would prey on the other beings of the jungle world, ambushing them when they ventured to close to the water's edge, taking them with club, claw and their long, jagged, snaring teeth. When fighting in force, it would be in the form of raiding parties, slipping through the dark jungles at night, pouncing on unsuspecting settlements and dragging their victims back to a certain doom beneath the quiet surface of the gloaming marshes and mires.

-Eli




16 May 2012

From the Black Pyramid...


   Black Pyramid Gaming is a British company that I have purchased a few small items from and with which I  was quite pleased. Most of their VSF material is in their Tea Wars line. I just dropped by their website and saw a few items I did not recall. Thought you good souls might be interested in seeing them. There are other interesting items available on their website as well.

Medium Landship

   The landship comes with two other weapon choices (not shown), and accessories to be added on. You can add an external boiler, a coal bin and smoke stacks, and sponsons, either single or double.  Not the cheapest 28mm landships around, but it does look pretty nice.

Mycroft Holmes (and his valet)

    Holmes is in an armoured, steam-powered conveyance. This happens sometimes when you are an important government official - safety from common street thuggery, you know.

Iron Men
   Of these I am very much not fond. Too static, too rigid. Honestly these, and the companion Iron Men II set, are my very least favorite minis in the range. Just do not like them.

Lord Fecitt

   On the other hand, I really like this set of figures. The steam-powered penny farthing is wonderful, and the mechanical dog is great, too.

General Gordon
      General Charles "Chinese" Gordon with a 'steampunk' turn. This fellow is great. He's in a fez. Fezzes are cool. And nice armour, with rivets! RIVETS!!!

   There are other interesting models available there. You can look around a bit here.

15 May 2012

A Really Great Charity


   A friend of mine, an officer in the US Army, just let me know about this small scale charity that is looking for some funding. It is to help returning soldiers deal with PTSD by building models.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/98618

   Please click on the link and go check it out. If you feel so inclined, please donate.

14 May 2012

Reginald's Regiments of Renown, Issue #12

Luftschiffetruppen:
The Kaiser's Aether Marines

History

   The Kaiser's General Staff realized there was a need for troops in the Empire's off-world colonies even before those colonies were established. A temporary levy of line troops was sent with the original colonists to Venusstadt, but they proved inadequate for a variety of reasons: equipment failures, heat prostration, and poor familiarity with jungle maneuvers all led to less than satisfactory results when dealing with threats from local natives and wildlife. A new solution was needed, and a young officer named Oskar von Goster had it.

   Von Goster took advantage of the Kaiser's new holdings in equatorial Africa to train a new kind of soldier. These troops were to be prepared for service aboard airships and in colonial Venus, and were given the unique designation of Luftschiffetruppen, or "Airship Soldiers." Equatorial Africa provided the Germans with a long period of acclimatization to tropical conditions similar to those that would be encountered on Venus. It also provided the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of jungle fighting, so different from the tactics of open field warfare taught to the line infantry. The emphasis on small unit tactics and low level leadership initiative was quite different from the iron discipline of the Prussian line regiments and the esprit de corps of the hussars and uhlans. Service is entirely voluntary, the troops coming from any line regiment. Because of the extended training, Luftschiffetruppen will serve an additional two years with the colours before transferring to reserve status.

   One year of jungle and small units training is followed by four additional months of shipboard training with two small training vessels built especially for the task - another first in military history. The K.As Midgard and K.As Asgard were launched in early 1872, and are used to train the Luftschiffetruppen in airship landing assault, aerial assault, and aerial boarding techniques. The training vessels are also used to train the Aetherbattallions and the sailors of the Kaiserliche Aetherflotte. They are based in German Southeast Africa, at Wilhelmshafen.

   The first battalion of Luftschiffetruppen was ready for service in August of 1872, and embarked upon K.As Loki for transport to Venusstadt. A second battalion was entering the second phase of training at that time, and a third was just beginning the first phase. The training schedule called for three battalions to be at various stages of training at one time until a full regiment was built. An additional regiment was authorized by the General Staff, to be created at a reduced pace over the following five years. There are currently two regiments of Luftschiffetruppen serving in various capacities for the Kaiser's Imperial ambitions. The First Regiment is stationed permanently in Venusstadt Kolonie, the most important of the German off-world colonies. Second Regiment has a battalion stationed on Mars, and a second one serving as marines aboard airships on both Mars and Earth. The third battalion provides security troops at the Imperial German airship fields all across Earth. In addition, there is a training battalion that feeds new men into both the service regiments.

Service History

   The Luftshiffetruppen have fought in every major off-world battle since their deployment. Innumerable small conflicts with Venusian natives and Martians have been settled. Possibly the most famous of their battles was the Second Defense of Venusstadt. A large force of Venusian lizardmen - the largest recorded host of the vicious brutes - attacked the walls of Venusstadt at dawn on 21 July 1878. Luftschiffetruppen at the downport responded by stampeding a herd of domesticated dinosaurs through the foe, then opening fire with their Mausers. Additional support from a Gatling-armed walker and some special weapons of the Aetherbattalion contingent were also instrumental in halting the scaly warriors' advance against civilization on Venus.



[Editor's Note: It's been a long time since I last posted a Reginald's Regiments. This one has been sitting for a while. I decided it needed to be put out there, finally.]

13 May 2012

Place, Show, and Also Ran, Part 3

Continuing the series...


"J" is also for... JAPAN

War Flag of Japanese Imperial Army

   At the end of the 19th century, Japan was making up for a couple of lost centuries worth of technological development, especially in the military. Seeing the strength of Western armies and navies, the Japanese determined to emulate the strong and improve on their technology by wedding the bushido mentality to the advanced weapons. What resulted was the foundation of a new Imperial Nippon. In VSF, they would certainly have been seeking a place in the solar system. For me, that place is on Mars, allying with some city-states that were distant from the British, French and Germans, then dominating them and making them puppets of the Shogunate of Mars. This is a project which I have considered, but for which very little has been purchased. I am looking strongly at Parroom Station's Japanese soldiers. BANZAI!!!!



"L" is also for...  LANDSHIP

   Steam-powered tanks, or landships, are quite common in Victorian Science Fiction. I think landships make the rest of the crazy VSF technology more believable, because they might have been possible. Certainly they would have been quite primitive things by even WWI standards, but possible? Just about, at least in some form.  So, with that small but believable stretch of reality, it makes the crazier things a bit more plausible. They are popular enough to merit their own rules (Land Ironclads, by Wessex Games) as well as inclusion in pretty much all the other rules available. There are many manufacturers of models for them as well. I am partial to Black Hat for the 15mm and Ironclad Miniatures for the 25mm, myself. Many excellent scratch builds are out there as well. Seems like everyone loves steam powered tanks! So why didn't I go with "L is for Landships" in the original list? Because I was already planning on discussing steam, and it fell under that category as well.

Trencher by Proxie Models. No longer available.

HMLS Prince Albert
[Modified Black Hat Miniatures Heavy Steamtank]


"P" is also for... PARROTMEN


   Along with the ubiquitous lizardmen on Venus, the Cytherean Parrotmen are a very commonly used race in many VSF games. As far as I know, the idea originated on the Lead Adventure Forum, by a member known mysteriously as "DewbackUK".  Since then, I would imagine dozens of copycats (myself included) have jumped upon the parrotman bandwagon. For me, the project has stalled among the plethora of other things to do. But I did write a monograph on the Pappegaivolk. And I have figures for them, at least in 28mm. Like many others, I chose to use plastic GW Kroot, painted to resemble parrots, with their weapons modified a bit. Below is a work in progress photo. I chose Pellucidar over the parrotmen because my project has stalled. It might just be time to bite the bullet and send them off to be painted. Thirty or so of them, at $5 a piece... yikes! That's $150!!!!

Picture taken October, 2008 - talk about stalled!
"T" is also for...  TEXAS

   Like I wasn't going to work this one in somewhere? I'm a proud son of Texas, and my family arrived here from Alabama during the days when we were our own Republic (ca. 1837). I have a timeline of alternate history that keeps Texas a free and independent nation, through alliance with Britain in the 19th Century. There is also a VSF 'weird science' version of that timeline. The  only reason Tesla won out over Texas is because I can't imagine any VSF universe being complete without that mad genius. So, here's to the Lone Star Republic!

De Zavala Flag, the 'First National Flag of Texas'

Lone Star Flag, adopted in 1839


09 May 2012

Ottoman-ia!


It's OTTOMAN-IA

   The good fellows over at Lead Adventure Miniatures have just released a trio of new packs of Turks for your buying, painting, and gaming pleasure! I think they look great, and can't wait to see how they paint up. Now I just have to find some money to buy them.

Looks like a grenade launcher, maybe?

Just in case of Black Smoke... and snipers, too!

I'd use them as the regular riflemen for the VSF unit.

   So far, it seems that my pattern for a VSF 'army' or 'force' - at least in 28mm - is to have one unit with special weapons like these, and a few units of regulars armed with plain old rifles. A few vehicles and mechanickal gadgets, something that flies (maybe a hot air balloon or something?). These would fall into the category of a special weapons unit, with some extra heavy weapons like the grenade launcher, and the previously released chaingun.

08 May 2012

Place, Show and Also Ran, Part 2

   Here we go with Part Two of the followup to the "A to Z" of Victorian Science Fiction. I want to thank Elderac for making some excellent suggestions in the comments on Part One. He was spot on with some obvious misses on my part. If you have something to add, please, leave comments! I check to make sure they aren't spam or something I wouldn't want my kids to read, but honest criticism I do not mind! It makes my projects better in the long run.

   Also, I found the 'original' list of ideas for the "A to Z," and want to go back and include them. And so, without further ado...

"A" is also for... AETHERGRAPH

   An aethergraph is, essentially, an incredibly long-ranged heliograph. Using a powerful Babbage Engine, an aethergraph transmitter, like the one pictured below, calculates the precise angle needed to send messages to one of the relay vessels in orbit around the planets and in chains across the Deep Aether. Once out of atmosphere, a signal can be sent millions of miles by the combination of massive mirror and precise control.
Aethergraph Transmitter, Victoria Landing, Mars
 
"A" is also for...  ATLANTIS

   Among the 'original' list of ideas that I failed to mention was Atlantis. I think everyone is familiar with the legendary sunken or lost continent of Atlantis, where the technology of the Ancients is still active. In my personal VSF universe, I don't use Atlantis as anything other than alegend and a spur to deep-ocean exploration, but in the When the Navy Walked Universe, it is very much alive and kicking!

Ruins of Atlantis? Ignore the skindiver...

"B" is also for...   BONGOLESIA

   An imagi-nation originally developed by Mike Murphy for his modern game AK-47 Republic, Bongolesia was once an African colony, which I have appropriated for my VSF Universe. In that timeline, it is the source of an amazing plant, the Bongolesian Oxygen Plant (Oxygenesis bongolesia) which produces an extraordinary amount of oxygen.



"B" is also for BABBAGE ENGINE


   This entry could just as easily have been dedicated to Charles Babbage, the genius inventor who designed it. Or it could have fallen under "D" is for Difference Engine - and it almost displaced dinosaurs there. The machine that Babbage built is, for all intents and purposes, a mechanical computer. In VSF, it often takes the place of computers in 'hard' science fiction. In my VSF Universe, they are very small and very powerful, and are fabricated and placed in all sorts of devices and applications. Babbage Engines run automatons, and calculate the angles for aethergraphs and aethergation.


"F" is also for... FREEMASONRY

The Square and Compass

   Freemasons are, by the late 1800s, a well-established secret society. Rumors of their conspiracies, wealth and power are already widespread. They can be used (I do not make use of them) as patrons, foes, whatever. For another good use of Freemasonry in colonial / Victorian Science Fiction gaming, watch The Man Who Would Be King, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

"H" is also for... HELIOGRAPH


   The heliograph is an ancient signalling device, updated and improved by the use of that American boffin Mr. Morse's simple code. It requires no wires, no power source, and is easily transported. All one needs to use it is a bit of sunlight and a clear line of sight. Telescopes or binocular scopes are useful for reading messages at greater distances.

   That's all for tonight, ladies and gentlemen.

06 May 2012

Place, Show and Also Ran, Part 1

   In the recently completed "A to Z" feature that I posted here, there were many times that more than one idea came to mind for a particular letter. However, being limited to choosing only one, I had to set aside these ideas for the time being. And many of them were good ideas. So, I have decided that I will do a series of "also rans", starting with this one. Each will be pretty short, and there will be multiple entries in each part of this series. I hope you enjoy.


"A" is also for... AUTOMATONS

Dr. Otto Maton's "Destroyer"-class Automaton
[Warbot Destroyer from Hydra Miniatures]

   Call them mechanickal men, or robots, or automatons, they are all essentially similar: mechanical creatures that do the bidding of their masters (usually). I have already gone into a bit of detail about my automaton forces in other posts, but I love the buggers. So, I chose to go with Aether for the original "A is for..." because I knew that automatons would show up later anyway.


"B" is also for... BARSOOM


      Barsoom, the Martian name for their own planet. The home of the incomparable Dejah Thoris, and the adopted home of the mighty warlord of Mars, John Carter, once of Virginia. Since Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote about the planet almost a century ago, it has captivated readers. The recent film by Disney showed it to us in a new light, and although the plot of the film was a weak amalgamation, the visual scope was great (except for the white apes. Oh well.). Barsoom also fell victim to the "I will cover this elsewhere" bug that got automatons - a theme that you may see several times throughout this series.


"G" is also for... GERMANY

A Prussian Guards banner
   I skipped several letters to get to "G," as I do not have anything written down right now for the letters in between "B" and "G" on the 'official' list of ideas for the "A to Z". Does that last sentence qualify as quotation marks abuse? back to topic: Imperial Germany is often used as the OPFOR when facing the British in a VSF setting. As others have pointed out, this is a bit anachronistic, as the real rivals during the reign of Her Majesty (God Bless Her) Queen Victoria were the Russians and the French. Germanophobia didn't begin to develop until the very end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, when a series of invasion novels starring the Germans as the invaders of Britain were published. I thought that Germany (or Prussia, as some would have it) was sufficiently covered with "K is for Kaiser".

   Enough for now - I will be back in a day or two with more, starting with "H is also for..."

02 May 2012

A Brief Pause for Breath

   Ladies and gentleman, I shall be taking a brief respite from blogging for a few days to finish up some book reviews for my professor. When I return, I'll be doing a few "Place, Show, and Also Ran" posts, covering some of the alternates that I did not choose for the A to Z. I'll also throw in a few pictures of some of the minis I have painted in the last few weeks - nothing too earthshaking, but glad to get a few things done.

01 May 2012

"Z" is for...

ZEPPELIN

   Zeppelin (n.): a rigid cylindrical airship consisting of a covered frame containing multiple gas cells, and with a suspended compartment for passengers and engines.



   There was, of course, no way not to mention the Zeppelin and other forms of flying ships when discussing Victorian Science Fiction. You may as well leave out Her Majesty (God Bless Her!) as flying vessels! The idea of flying ships was written about by Victorian writers (Jules Verne published Master of the World in 1904, just a few years after Edward took the throne).

   Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin started designing the style of airship which would bear his name in the 1870s after seeing airships used by the Union in the American Civil War and the French during the short-lived Franco-Prussian War. The first real zeppelin (LZ-1) was built in 1899. Zeppelins were used as bombers in World War I and as commercial vehicles after the war until the Hindenberg crash in 1937 ended their popularity. (Oh, the humanity!) In my VSF universe, I have Zeppelin retiring from the military at a younger age due to injuries sustained, and getting into the development of airships sooner as a result. Zeppelins fitted with more powerful engines and using a wondrous lifting gas (hydrium, an idea copied from Kenneth Opel's Airborn novels) are commonplace in the late 19th century of my little universe.

   Besides zeppelins, which are just really cool, the VSF enthusiast has a variety of airships to choose from. Most use some for of lighter-than-air technology, which is often non-gaseous in nature, thus eliminating the need for huge gas bags to provide lift. Liftwood, cavorite, and unobtainite are some examples of this. The problem with massive gas cells is that they are, well, massive. Big, relatively slow targets, which can't be significantly armoured due to weight considerations. Using liftwood, etc., eliminates that liability and makes armoured airships much more practical.

A small 6-man gunboat
[Laughing Ferret, 25mm conversion]

    Some airships are small gunboats, intended to swiftly enforce the will of the Great Powers which build them. The British Naval Air Service's ubiquitous Aphid-class is a prime example of this type. Others are massive behemoths of armourplate and turreted 14" naval guns, bristling with batteries of quick-firing light guns, and cruising slowly through the air, dominating the sky. The Class IV dreadnought is one of these types of airship.

HMS Aphid
<> 
Dreadnought Class IV Airship

   I know of several good rules sets that exist for VSF airship fleet battles, in alphabetical order:
  • Aeronef, by Wessex Games
  • Dystopian Wars, by Spartan Games
  • GASLIGHT Compendium, by Palmer and Surdu
  • Sky Galleons of Mars, by GDW (and Heliograph)
  • When Dreadnoughts Ruled the Skies (not commercially published that I know of)
  • When the Navy Walked, by The Arm Chair General (I helped write these rules).
   I have played in games using all of the above rules except for Dystopian Wars, and enjoyed them all. Except for When Dreadnoughts Ruled the Skies, all of them also have associated ground forces rules suitable for playing air-to-ground engagements and mixed actions. If I have inadvertently left any systems you are aware of out of the above list, please let me know and I will be happy to add it!

Naval Zeppelin