Saturday, 19 February 2011

FTL travel in games, books and on the screen

I have long pondered how to get around the conundrum of ships travelling faster than the speed of light (FTL) in my sci-fi games. I have seen various scenarios and ideas thrown about in fiction and on the silver and small screens. I have also had my own ideas that concatenate certain aspects of those ideas. I think FTL travel in science fiction can be broken down into three main categories:

Warp drive technology - where space around the ship is warped to allow it to travel faster than light, for example in the Star Trek universe
Hyperspace technology - where the ship leaves the known universe and sort of travels by short-cut through a different dimension, for example, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Traveller RPG
(Worm?) hole technology - where two points in space are linked so that travel between them is instantaneous even though the vessel is not travelling at light speed, for example in Iain M. Banks universe

There are also many other variations on a theme, but these seem to be the main plot devices to allow FTL to happen. Over the years I have been trying to find, for me, the best possible solution and came up with a combination of ideas from the above, sometimes before the authors of the books/films. I was not keen on the Star Trek warp system, nor the Jump drives in Traveller, but found some comfort in the Iain M. Banks stories as they were very similar to my own ideas. My ideas run thus...

A large space station/vessel creates a black hole and channels its 'energy' directly at the point where the travellers would need to exit, e.g. the next star along in the sky. Over a few(?) years, depending on distance, all matter and space is pulled into the black hole, thus bending the point from several light years away so that it now appears in the starting solar system. A gateway is then built to anchor this tunnel. When a ship travels through this gateway, it instantaneously arrives at its destination thus not breaking Einstein's theory (it probably breaks all sorts of other laws but I haven't considered those). All the time spent on a journey between one planetary system and another is taken up by intra-system manouevres. In my universe, all space travel takes approximately one week, no matter which system one wishes to travel to from that point on the network. It sort of works as a series of weekly 'jumps' but STL ships can have the appearance of travelling FTL.

This is very similar to what Iain M. Banks proposes in his novels, where he has a point in the starting system 'dragged' by a fleet of ships to the destination point. It is very similar to my idea but in reverse. In neither universe does any ship travel FTL but they appear to do so when they travel along the network of gateways.

However, if one wanted to pilot a ship between two stars in 'normal' space, then the size of the engines would have to be taken into consideration as the whole distance would need to be covered STL and could take several years to travel between the stars.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

6mm 18th Century

My gaming buddy Colin sent me through some snaps of a game he had with a few of our other friends a little while back. I have played with these armies previously for tabletop battles within the game 'Sport of Kings'. It has been a while since I have played this game, but these shots brought back some memories. Comments by Colin...

This first photo shows the advancing Prussian Infantry, with the banners being hand painted. The house is Hardcover (printed card). The roads are strips of corduroy, ridged side down - easy to cut accurately and grips to the field enough to stay in place.

These are Prussian Dragoons.

This photo shows a melee between Prussian Cuirassiers (in the foreground) with the Russian Yellow Hussars, directed by a Russian General (I recall we decided it was Peter Saltykov - don't try to look for a silly pun, it was the name of a Russian General).

Here is a picture of a Russian Infantry Brigade advancing. It shows a close up of two regiments of Russian infantry with an artillery battery and another infantry regiment in the background. The standard is made from the metal base of a Mr Kipling cake, a bit of wire and some Milliput to make the finial. The design was hand painted.

The final photo is of mostly Heroics & Ros Prussians painted as British. The Mounted officers are actually Austrian Dragoons (carbines removed). The drummers are converted from Prussian pioneers with their mitres shortened and a drum made out of Milliput.

The Horse Grenadiers are Austrian Cuirassiers with heads taken from early 18C British Foot Grenadiers.

All flags are hand painted

The Highland regiment and the General are Irregular miniatures.

All are painted in gloss enamel for durability and to give that traditional "toy soldier" look. I know I am in a minority, but I like them that way, hence also the lack of individualisation of the soldiers. I do usually however use variations in pose etc to indicate "irregular" units.

These minis make for an interesting diversion from my usual Dark Age/Fantasy figures. Colin and the rest of our gaming group, have played many games over the years, mostly home-grown or heavy modifications of commercial rules.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Brytenwalda update

No pictures today, but an update on how Alex and I are getting on with our Brytenwalda forces. As you are aware, my starter 600 point army has been painted up and displayed on here already. Alex has almost finished his command unit and I have done some work on his footmen. Here's a break down of his 600 point army...

1 Pendragon (mounted chieftain) @ (60+10) = 70
1 Teulu (warrior command) @ 50 = 50
1 Scholar (priest) @50 = 50
1 Rherel (veteran) @46 = 46
11 Aulue (conscript spearmen) @34 = 374

Total for army = 590 Solidus

His army is 8 points less than mine, but we'll see how this affects their combatitiveness on the tabletop. We should have a stack of minis almost ready by the end of next weekend, so hopefully I can get some photos up of the ones we complete.

Once done, we will play a few scenarios tha come with the rules, just to try them out.

Also, in the meantime, I have started on some old goblin tusker riders. I have enough to create 2 HotT bases (2 on each) and a single fantasy RPG goblin on large washer. These will be added to my orc/goblin army for HotT. I have lots of old Citadel night goblins I can add to the army as well as a couple of boxes of GW's plastic Night Goblins and Goblins. Several hordes in the making me thinks. I need to find a suitable leader/hero, shaman, behemoth and some heavy hitters to round out the army. These should be ready to report on next week provided I pull my finger out.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Brytenwalda Aulue

I managed to finish up that unit of Arthurian footmen this afternoon. They are all Gripping Beast miniatures from their Arthurian range and the shields are transfers from Little Big Man Studios - there's no way I could paint that well, and I feel they really set the figures off nicely.

 This is a picture focusing in more on the Teulu (the leader).

And finally a picture of the unit as seen by their adversaries.

I have to admit that I do not know what the names of the troops actually mean and have just followed the naming conventions from the rulebook verbatim, so they may be incorrect. When I get time to have a surf for them on the net, I'll try to find out what they mean and whether the words are singular or plural.

Next up should be another unit of footmen and cavalry similar to those reported on this weekend. Alex will be working on his command unit, so as soon as I have points values I'll try to get a picture up of the army. I am also working on some more RPG and HotT stuff, so there will be plenty more to show in a few weeks time, but there may be a couple of weeks before anything is finished and photographed.

Brytenwalda Marca

Just got these finished (still working on the infantry). A small cavalry contingent to support the infantry in their endeavours, or should that be the other way around considering the leader is on horse-back.

First up is the Pendragon. I was a bit unambitious with the shield design as I just copied it from the Warhammer Historical 'Age of Arthur' supplement. I decided with these to try adding a bit extra to the bases other than just sand, paint and flock. The trees I made a little while back have shed a few clumps of foliage, so I stuck these onto the bases here. They hide the hole in the washer quite nicely that the base of the miniature didn't cover.

Here's the first of the leader's bodyguard. Without really thinking of the colour scheme, the Pendragon has wound up with a red cloak and the two Marca with dark green cloaks - very similar to the way I will be painting my Eomer and Royal Guard for LotR SBG when I get round to them later on this year.

And, here is his second companion, painted to match the first Marca.

A couple of group shots.

All figures are by Gripping Beast, from their Arthurian range.

Coming up later today - the foot sloggers.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Rogues Gallery

I have been working on these figures for a short while now, but finished them up this afternoon. They are all very old Dixon miniatures which I don't think they make any more.

I think they were actually designated as fighters but as they are true 25mm, they come up very small against many of my other minis. Due to their lack of armour and light weapons I have decided they'd be better off as rogues/thieves. Finishing these ties in well with me re-puchasing the AD&D 1st Edition Player's Handbook and Monster Manual last weekend from EBay. I want to start up playing D&D again, and this is the version I really went to town on back in the late 70s/early 80s. Over the life of this blog I have painted up a good dozen of each character class with the exception of clerics - anyone out there have any ideas where I can get some Old Skool style clerics?

Anyway, back to the minis. First up is a female rogue with sword. She is absolutely tiny - just right for squeezing through those narrow gaps to evade the city watch.

Here is another female thief. She looks a bit richer than the one above - either she is more successful or likes the conspicuous display of wealth in favour of the more down-to-earth look.

Finally, here is a male rogue. He seems quite eastern looking to me, the sort of person you would find in Zamora kicking around in the sort of dens Conan would visit.

Tomorrow should see the finishing up of the first Brytenwalda army. I will then have to sort out what I will be aiming to complete this month. Most likely another Brytenwalda army for Alex as he already has the leaders almost completed, and just needs a unit of troops.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

5000 Club

Just posting to say a big 'Thank you' to my followers and readers for getting my Hit Count to the 5000 mark. I have been blogging now for nearly two years and time has really flown. I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog as much as I have putting it together and sharing my ramblings. Here's to the next 5000 hits and hopefully more of what you would like to see.

A few updates...
The first Brytenwalda army is almost completed - they just need the shields and bases completing and a quick spray with the matt varnish
There are a few fantasy miniatures in an almost ready state too
Hopefully these will all be up on the blog this weekend

Next month's project will be another Brytenwalda army for Alex to use. He has his own leaders, so I will supply the troops for him. I will also paint a few more of those old fantasy minis in the slowly decreasing lead mountain. I may also make a start on some 15mm minis for use as HotT armies ready for Doggerland, even if it is just cleaning them up and undercoating them for now. After seeing Colin's goblins (see last post), I am tempted to get some fantasy 15mm armies sorted out too (but I'll need to buy the minis first!).

I have also been a bit busy on EBay this weekend gone - I have repurchased the 1st Edition AD&D Players Handbook and Monster Manual. When they are both through I will look at creating some PCs and running a few solo adventures to refamiliarise myself with the rules - I know I don't have the DMs Guide but I can remember a lot of the tables even after all these years! A DMG and supplementary rule books will also be in the offing over the next few weeks if they are at a good price. I am tempted to run a pbem D&D adventure with my gaming buddies when Doggerland has matured a little more.