What should I work on next?

28 February 2009

Birthday Celebrations

Esteemed Editor of This Journal
Marks 37th Solar Orbit

Yes, good friends and readers, today marks the 37th complete (Earthly) orbit of the Sun for your humble correspondent. Days such as this make you think back at what you ahve accomplished to date in your life.

I've married a beautiful woman, who has provided me with two fine sons. I own a comfortable though small estate in the Republic of Texas, and a second abode here in Victoria Landing. I have a job I enjoy, and a hobby or two that interest me and occupy my mind in continuous learning.

All in all, not bad.

Tonight, we dine at Chabucca's, the finest Argentine churrascaria on Mars. Which is not necessarily a great compliment, it being the only restaurant of its sort on the Red Planet. However, I enjoy it, as does the rest of the family.

Tomorrow I'll mention a bit about some progress on a few small projects. Until then, good friends and readers.

24 February 2009

Remember the Alamo!

Anniversary of Malevolent Mexican Massacre at Mission!

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the fateful siege of the old Spanish mission in San Antonio. The Alamo had been occupied by Texican freedom fighters after the city was captured. Occupied by less than 200 men, it was besieged by a force of Mexicans ten times greater. And yet, they refused to surrender or flee.

Some may call Travis a fool, who threw away his own life and the lives of his followers for a chance at fleeting glory. Others say he was a patriot, willing to sacrifice his very life for freedom.

For 11 days the outnumbered Texicans would hold out. Finally, low on ammunition, they were unable to repulse the final assault on the walls of the mission. The Mexicans killed every man of fighting age in the mission, even to the sick and wounded.

Even though he had ordered the mission abandoned and destroyed, General Sam Houston took advantage of the delay of the Mexican advance by the defenders of the Alamo. He used the time to put distance between his fledgling army and the forces of the dictator, Santa Anna. The time thus gained was used to maneuver Santa Anna, self-styled "Napoleon of the West", into making camp on the banks of the San Jacinto River.

[Editor's Notes: Yes, its a bit jingoistic. So were the times back then. Most of it is true. But, if all you know about the Alamo is the story told in the movies... well, you're missing out on some good stuff. Oh, by the way, I really liked the alliterative title on this one. How about you?]

23 February 2009

New Stuff Arriving! [ooc]

Okay, I am excited about the new toys I am getting in these days.
My birthday is coming up, and my wife told me to just buy myself some stuff. So I did. I probably went a little bit overboard, but not too badly.

From Scale Creep Miniatures (http://www.scalecreep.com/) I bought some more Black Hat Martians, some Vallejo paints, some Wargames Accessories metal bases, and some GW round slottabases. The Martian packs were the 'Martian Personalities,' (with John Carter, Dejah Thoris, a Martian King on foot, a big game hunter, a martian priest/scientist, and a Martian butler/assassin with revolver) and 'Martian Cavalry with Lances' (which finishes off the purchases need to finalize the deathrays at long last - better cast more saddles!). I needed the bases to re-base some older figures and for my Mordians/Imperial German Secret Weapons Troops of Aetherbattalion Regiment 2 (AR.2). These have arrived and there is already paint on some of them - just not quite finished yet.

From Eureka Miniatures, USA (http://www.eurekaminusa.com/), I bought some 25 mm stuff. I got Her Majesty, Queen Victoria I (God Bless Her!), the Harry Flashman wanna-be, the small British dog, two of the helicopter Germans (the leader and one trooper), two Nordenfelts and a 3-pdr QF gun for my 25mm aerial gunboat. These arrived today - nice and quick. I like them all, and plan on buying another 8 of the whirlybird troopers for primitive jump troops. Be a few months before I get the $$ for that though...

I also have some magnets from K&J (http://www.kjmagnetics.com/) on order. I bought some of the surplus magnets - a big chunk of magnets for only $10! Like, 250 of them! Yes, they are rather small, but its all I need!

I won an ebay auction for a piece of interesting terrain that I am going to pay for on Thursday - ran out of funds until payday.

I also bought a computer game from eBay for less than $10 including shipping: Crimson Skies. Alternate history Earth with zeppelins and air pirates and all kinds of good stuff. Very pulp-y.

Man, it has been a great birthday this year. Lots and lots of toys for me! Wheee! Though it messes up my Pledge for 2009 even more. Oh well. Just trying to do my little part to combat the recession.
I'll try and post some real content in the next day or two. Off to finish up the Incomparable Dejah Thoris and the rest of the 15mm fellows.

22 February 2009

First Time Ever!

Primitive Dwelling of Highest Venusian Civilization

For the first time in any Human journal, we find a photostat of the primitive huts built by the elusive Parrotmen of Venus. While the Parrotmen themselves are not in the photograph, be assured they were nearby. This photostat was purchased from a German scientist's former assistant. Apparently he was wrongly accused of theft by his former employer, and so was dismissed. When packing his things, the former assistant accidentally carried off the photostatic data for the Herr Professor's monograph on the culture and architecutre of the Parrotfolk.

News of a New Aerial Gunboat, HMAS Raptor

As some of our readers may know, work has begun at the Womack Shipyard of Victoria Landing to construct a new aerial gunboat, HMAS Raptor. So far, all we know is that her shape is similar to the old Aphid-class ships, at approximately 90-feet in length and 22 feet of beam. She is rumored to be powered by handwavium reactor, the first such ship built here on Mars. Her armament is undecided at this time, but provision has been made aboard her for a small Marine contingent, to guard against boarding actions.

[Editor's Note: I will provide a step-by-step of how I built the Raptor in a future post or two. Construction of foamcore and sheet styrene, primarily. So far, I am pretty happy with how its turning out, though I screwed up the deck a bit. Next one will come out better. I also have an idea for a really cool small Martian kite. I even think I can put grapnel launchers on the kite - boarders away!]

20 February 2009

A Minor Cultural Difference

Martians Riot Against German Troops!

Cultural differences can be difficult. It seems that some Martians in Galfor objected to the uniforms of new German troops arriving in their city. These Hun soldiers are from the elite √Ątherbattalion Regiment II (AR.2) recently sent as reinforcements to the so-called advisory cadre the Kaiser sent to Galfor last year.

√Ątherbattalion troops in tropical climes wear the new black and white uniform tunic. And therein lies the problem. You see, in Galfor, the wearing of the color black is a privilege of royalty. Seems the Johnnies assumed the black trim meant a weak link to the imperial family, and thus that the wearer was a noble of some stripe or another. Galforrian commoners were enraged when they learned that the German troops were not all low ranking nobility.

Order was restored after a three-day riot left dozens of Martians dead and several buildings gutted by fire. The Emperor of Galfor has decreed that the sumptuary laws of Mars do not apply directly to humans, and thus the uniforms are permitted.

When news of the disturbances reached Viceroy for the Martian Crown Colony, Sir Gerald Blythingham, 1st Earl Mons Olympus, he had this to say:

"Haw haw! Any fool knows the Martians only let their nabobs wear the black! Haw haw! One in the eye for the Hun, what?"
Only time can tell what the long term effects of this riot will be on the relations between Galfor and her German 'allies.'

19 February 2009

Interesting Location on the Telephonic Web

Good friends, I just wanted to give you a few pointers to some locations on the telephonic differencing engine web of interest to those of us of shared preferences in leisure activities.

This location sells sculpture of a rather disturbing nature, but that could be quite useful:

For those of you outfitting a new yacht or aerial craft, you might wish to peruse the selection of fittings here:

Or if you are just considering construction of a nice watercraft, some rather useful guidelines on how to go about it:

I shall be adding these locations to my listing of areas of interest as well, in the sidebar.

All for now, I'm afraid. The memsahib has tea ready downstairs.

Projects in Progress [ooc]

Another out of character posting, just to keep everyone abreast of developments...

Mostly, I am waiting on an order to arrive. While waiting, I have started to develop a 15mm British aerial gunboat. Which will require an additional order. I'll be looking for 15mm guns on naval mountings and ship fittings. Let me know if you have any sources!

The gunboat is based on the old Space 1889 Aphid-class, like so many other designs have been. I am planning on constructing it using some sheet styrene and foamcore, with a few odds and ends thrown in for masts, etc. It will have a smokestack, even though handwavium reactors don't require one.

So. I have been busy... it just doesn't look like it! I painted a great little robot at the OwlCon Reaper Paint-n-Take. I have nine more on order for that, too. They'll make a great unit of automatons. I have several minis almost done, including the first ten of the re-re-painted 15mm Germans (to make them more like the 25mm scheme) and some more deathrays (ran out of leather lacing for the saddles, among other things).

Also on the deathray front, I have figured a simple way to put them on flight stands using magnets that I am liking a lot. Essentially, I glue a thin metal base to the belly of the deathray, and a rare earth magnet (small one!) to the end of a clear plastic flight stand. Pop it on, the cavalry is in flight. Take it off, the cavalry is grounded and ready to dismount. Which reminds me, I suppose I need to make a dismounted cavalry group as well. Great - I needed another project.

Gah! Very late now. Must go to bed.

18 February 2009

Birth Announcement

Texican Consul Has a Son!

Mister Andrew Jackson Houston, son of the late President Samuel Houston of the Republic of Texas and presently Consul for the Republic of Texas here in Victoria Landing, announces the birth of his first child, Samuel Jackson Houston.

Mrs. Aleta Houston was delivered of a healthy baby boy in the consular apartments at the Texican Consulate last evening. Doctor George Williams attended the first-time mother during the delivery. Both child and mother are doing well.

[Editor's Note: Sam Houston did have a son named Andrew Jackson Houston, born 1854, and obviously named after Sam's old friend and political mentor, President Andrew Jackson. At 27 years old, he would be young for an important consulate, but with his impeccable familial political connections, the idea is not totally ludicrous. Besides, its fun.]

17 February 2009

Fantastic Minerals Explained [ooc]

Okay, for those of you who are starting to scratch your heads and say "what's up with all the fake minerals?" I have written this post to explain how I see everything meshing together in my little VSF universe.

Firstup: good old hydrium. I may need to change the name, as it was originally created by an author named Kenneth Oppel. I took the name because I liked it, and have credited him several times for it, but it is still technically a copyright infringement if I ever publish any of this. At this point, I think I am safe under the realm of amateur fanfic. So look for a name change to something like helios, or monoionic hydrogen, or something, in the relatively near future. Anyway, what it is, is a lifting gas, several times more efficient than hydrogen and non-flammable. So, way better than hydrogen, and responsible for the motley assortment of Zeppelins and other lighter-than-air vehicles floating in the skies of my games.

IMVU (In My Victorian Universe), hydrium is produced biologically. It can be found on all three of the inhabited planets. On Earth, only certain subterranean fungi produce it, so it is found in underground deposits. On Mars, large flying creatures produce hydrium and store it in bladders within their bodies, allowing them to fly. As yet, I have made no specific mention of hydrium on Venus, though I intend it to exist there.

I posted on hydrium last year a few times, especially in regards to the deathrays. I also mentioned it as appearing in plants, causing floating trees. This is an idea I have discarded as too similar to Space 1889's liftwood trees.

Handwavium is the energy soure that has opened the aether to Earthly explorations. By bathing handwavium crystals in an alkaline solution, a rather intense heat is created chemically, without using oxygen. The handwavium gives off a green glow as the reaction takes place. The handwavium acts as a catalyst, and is not consumed in the reaction.

Handwavium reactors boil water to steam for use in steam engines, turbines and generators. The process is remarkably similar to a nuclear power plant: large pipes with water in them pass through the reactor vessel, heating the water via conduction (if I remember my heat transfer types correctly). The resultant steam is then put to work. Large reactors can provide sufficient power for generating electricity for entire small towns or factories.

Handwavium is rare and widely scattered on Earth. Deposits of the green crystals have been found in England, Ireland, Egypt, Nevada, South Africa, Siberia, Manchuria, and the Andes mountains, among other places. It can also be found on both Mars and Venus in similar deposits. There is an apparent correlation to ancient civilizations' ruins and handwavium deposits. I will probably develop more along those lines in the future.

IMVU, there are two methods of generating better lighter-than-air lift than is actually possible in our known universe: hydrium and unobtainite.

Unobtainite is a blue, slightly translucent crystal. It is entirely unremarkable until an electric charge is passed through it. Once it is exposed to 'galvanic forces,' unobtainite begins to rise upward. The more voltage is passed through, the stronger the anti-gravitational force becomes. Thus, by increasing or decreasing the voltage by a simple rheostat, a vessel equipped with unobtainite lift will gain or lose altitude.

Unobtainite has several advantages over hydrium. The most important is that it takes far less volume of unobtanite to generate the same lift, given sufficient electrical current. It can thus be carried inside a vesssel, behind protective shielding, whereas hydrium requires a large gasbag which, for all intents and purposes, is unarmored. Unobtainite vessels are swifter, with far less drag than hydrium zeppelins. Also, piloting an unobtainite vessel is much easier to do, and requires fewer crewmembers.

Unobtainite is found on Earth in small quantities. The largest deposit so far has been located in the central African highlands. It is much more common on Mars, where Martian scientists discovered its amazing properties millenia ago, at the height of the Martian civilization. To date, no unobtainite has been found on Venus at all.

Copyright Notice:

Please note that, other than the name hydrium, as explained above, I do claim copyright on the ideas outlined above. Feel free to use the ideas in your own personal and private games, so long as you grant credit appropriately. Please do not print or publish these ideas in any form or format without my permission.

16 February 2009

Royal Xenological Society, Vol. 3

Martian Sand Tiger

Pictured above, for the first time, is the rampaging h'lee'rael, or Martian Sand Tiger. Johnny Martian may call it by some heathen name, but its proper scientific designation is Panthera marsticus tigris harenosus (P. m. tigris harenosus). Note the large claws on it's broad and powerful paws and multitude of needle-sharp teeth in the wide mouth. Also, the extra set of eyes, which allow it to see in the dark by way of the heat of a living body. Their striped bodies provide ideal camouflage in the sandy wastes of the Martian outback, and their lightning fast charge can overwhelm prey many times their own size.

Anyone in his right mind would think twice about venturing into the territory of one of these solitary killers. Thankfully, they are incredibly territorial, and adults only tolerate each other's presence during the mating season. Females will allow their young to remain in the den for the first year after birth. In times of poor hunting, the female will devour her own young without hesitation.

All in all, jolly good sport. I recommend a Holland & Holland .670 Express double rifle and a large number of bearers/drivers. It would be best to hunt from the vantage point of a low-flying vessel.

[Editor's note: The miniature in question is a Star Wars Miniatures game Nexu. I think I will buy one or two, just to put something rather ferocious on the ground in random events. I'll probably re-paint it.]

The Caravan Arrives!

Overdue Caravan from Hiling Arrives at Last!

The merchant caravan from Hiling has arrived, days later than expected. Naturally, the fierce dust storms of the last week severely slowed Caravan Master Golu Wakkadi's trek across the desert. Those same storms prevented aerial observation of the caravan, causing a great deal of worry amongst those merchants expecting trade goods to arrive from Hiling. Common gossip held that the caravan had fallen prey to either a band of High Martian bandits or a troop of German raiders - so carefully not in the Kaiser's uniform, but conveniently armed with the latest in weaponry from the secret laboratories of the Hun Warmachine.

With the caravan's arrival, we can at last reveal the photostats from HMAS Osprey, taken by our onboard press representative. The finest of the pictures of the oasis at Kem Shia is below.

Cousin Jonathan Celebrates President's Day

Today is also the day our American cousins celebrate their presidents. Curious habit, honoring elected officials this way. I mean, they are politicians, after all. Not like it was Her Majesty the Queen's birthday or something important. I gather that the date was chosen as it falls between the birthdates of that rascal Washington and the late Mister Lincoln.

However, in the sake of international relations between the English speaking nations of the worlds, let us wish a Happy President's Day to our American readers. One does wonder if the Texicans or the Confederates celebrate the day as well?

13 February 2009

Oasis at Kem-Shia

Life Giving Water in the Burning Sands

A small spring oasis has been found in the midst of the red parched sands of Mars.

Photostats from our intrepid reporter will be forwarded by the next caravan arriving from Hiling. HMAS Osprey, the aerial gunboat aboard which my nephew acts as a government/press liason, has recently arrived in that area, showing the Union Jack and cowing the natives with her iron-bound might. Taken at the scene of the oasis, the photostats clearly show some of the tall ochre grasses that typically spring forth in the relative humidity of the spring.

Naturally, good readers, I could not keep the good news back while waiting on illustrations to arrive. Be assured I shall publish such photostats at the earliest opportunity.

[Editor's Note: I promised mention of the re-worked terrain piece a week or so back. I am re-doing the spring I made a year or so back to make it seem more like the rest of my Martian work since then. I'll put up photos soon-ish, though I think I might have already put one or two up on the terrain blog.]

12 February 2009

Properties of Unobtainite

Excerpts from Volume XIV of the Journal of the Royal Geological and Mineralogical Society (1872)

A rare mineral found in remote areas, unobtainite is a blue faceted crystal. Its unusual properties were discovered by a Fellow of our Society, Doctor Edward Isling...

While searching the mountainous regions of one of Her Brittanic Majesty's central African colonies, Doctor Isling was caught in a sudden thunderstorm. Lightning struck the ground near his camp, where he and the rest of his expedition were sheltering from the fury of Mother Nature. Doctor Isling happened to be outside of his tent, and saw several blue crystals emerge from the ground at the point where the lightning had struck.

What Isling had discovered was the levitative property of unobtainite when exposed to galvanic influence. Other scientists would go on to find that one could control the level of repulsive lift generated by the unobtainite by increasing or decreasing the flow of galvanic energies through the mineral.

Of course, since that time, our British engineers have created means to manipulate the flow of galvanism through unobtainite and acquired a supply suitable for the production of a small fleet of aerial craft. Steam engines (sometimes heated by handwavium reaction) are connected to generators, which then feed the rheostatic devices which control the repulsor lift generated by the unobtainite.

...additional deposits are rumored to exist in the fabled 'floating island' of Laputa, being the probable cause of that mythical land's gravity-mocking flight...

...Martian princes are no strangers to unobtainite. Martian science discovered the mineral - which is in far greater abundance on the Red Planet than on our sphere - millennia ago. They reached a plateau in the development of flying craft some 2,000 years past, and have since not added to their store of...

...no source of unobtainite has as yet been located on Venus, though many strange lifeforms abound there...

[Editor's Notes: I have been considering the source for our essentially implausible flying craft. I have talked about unobtainite before, but thought that the storyline needed re-working. I hope you enjoyed it. For gaming purposes, unobtainite is available in small amounts on Earth, and in far greater mounts on Mars. Earthly steam engines power generators to feed the unobtainite; Martians use slave labor to crank a generator. I am also re-thinking the mineral handwavium, and expect to give more information about that in the near-ish future. There are also a couple of deep secret projects in the work, of a potentially commercial nature. We'll see.]

11 February 2009

200th Post!

Okay, this is just a quick woo-hoo posting, acknowledging a milestone.

I'll post some content in a few minutes, but I wanted to pat myself on the back for a minute.

Not that there's been much to crow about as far as any good quality posting on a reliable basis lately. I'll try to do better in the next few weeks, alright?

Anyway, break out the good whiskey! Tonight, we celebrate!

06 February 2009

An Astonishing Publication!

Gentlemen! You must obtain a copy of this for your Young Men and Heirs! Immediately!


Anything less would be an appalling failure of your Duty to God, Queen, Country and Family.

More later this weekend.

01 February 2009

Patrolling the Line


As you can see from the attached photostat, now that it has finally arrived, the line of telegraph poles stretches off into the distance. Alongside the line, a platoon of infantry, stout British lads all, trudges along through the red dust of our arid planet.

Alongside the column is one of the ASAs, technological wonders of our modern steam era. The photostat was taken from the deck of the aerial gunboat, HMAS Osprey, itself yet another marvel of British technical prowess.

[Editor's Notes: Finally, some more shots, and even included some miniatures 'in action' for a change. As previously mentioned, I think, you can see how to do the ultra-easy telegraph poles on my terrain blog. And two posts in two days! Excellent, Smithers! Look for another post in the near future about a terrain piece I have been re-working. More info on the terrain blog right now, but a proper posting will appear here soon. Must go. A sudden hailstorm has risen up and I have to protect a few things outside.]