Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It Was a Dark And Stormy Night...

    The goblins lay battered and moaning around Rongar as he counted the strange ten-sided nuggets that they had left scattered on the table. Gold to be sure, but oddly shaped. The last conscious goblin had told him they had taken them from a kobold mine to the East. Should be easy enough to run them off and take over the operation. He'd need a bit of help, though. There had to be a wizard worth his salt in town somewhere. Preferably a dwarven wizard.

    Do any of you remember way, way back when Rongar Darkhammer made his first (and only) appearance here on the blog? It happened in June of 2010 in the "Taking Out the Trash" post. Almost two and a half years later, I'm finally ready to continue his adventures. I'm nothing if not patient.

    A lot of that time was filled with a bunch of life stuff. But some of the delay was because I hadn't really worked out just what it was I wanted to try to do with the plot line. The rest was deciding what adaptations I wanted to make to Sword Play and Warrior Heroes. I decided that I would rather use Rongar's adventures as a way to help me work out some issues I'm sure to have while writing my own rules. I can play through each scenario several times and see what I like and what I don't before I subject some friends to them. Back to Rongar.

    Rongar took stock of his assets and pondered the best way to approach the problem. Aside from his stein, decent armor and fine battle axe, he had very little in the way of possessions. Kobold gold would go a long way toward rectifying that if he could find quality veins. His natural Dwarven ability would help, but magical dowsing would increase the prospects of greater fortune. Now where to find that wizard?


Rongar Darkhammer

    "Wench! Would you bring me another tankard of Root Cellar Surprise? And I'm in need of some information."

    "Emily," she said. "The name is Emily, not wench." A perky bar maid plopped a beer down in front of him and headed back to the bar.

    All right. Here are the first few hurdles. Rongar needs to interact with Emily.That can always be done purely by role-playing the situation out and the GM deciding what happens. But what if he doesn't have a set agenda and wants to let things happen more randomly? I'll need some quantified stats for characters, monsters and NPCs. I'll also need some mechanic for determining success and failure of actions. I'd also like to incorporate variable degrees of success or failure.

    I like the look of White Wolf's Vampire and Werewolf game mechanics. So I've chosen ten-sided dice for my system. For the basic rules, one could use any type of die they wanted since I'll be counting pass/ fails based on 50% of the numbers on the die; 1-5 fail, 6-10 succeed. I'm going to stick with 10-sided for now because want to build in a critical failure/ success method; 1s subtract a success from the total rolled, 10s can be rolled again for additional successes. Very similar to White Wolf, but I don't want to mix adding/ subtracting dice with variable target numbers as game mechanics. One could use 6-sided dice, but the chances of the addition or subtraction of successes greatly increases. I want enough variance to give about a 10% per die of each result.

    The characters will need attributes. I've broken them down into six that I want to use. I've broken them down into three physical and three mental.

    Physical: Strength (STR), Agility (AGI), Fitness (FIT)
    Mental: Personality (PER), Intelligence (INT), Willpower (WIL)

   I have a general idea of what each attribute encompasses, but they will probably mutate over the course of writing and play testing. It would be easy to go way overboard and list a couple of dozen attributes to use. But for the goal of RPG lite, six will suffice and may end up being more than I want.

    Rongar's attributes: STR 3, AGI 2, FIT 3, PER 1, INT 2, WIL 1


    Emily: PER 3

    For this interaction, Emily only needs one attribute. I'll add more later if needed. How I chose attributes will be discussed at another time.

    Rongar has a slight problem on his hands. He's already insulted Emily and his Personality attribute isn't very good. Rongar will be rolling 1d10 vs. Emily's 3d10. Emily will be bumped a die to 4d10 due to Rongar's faux pas. He needs to sweeten the pot so he'll offer her one of the gold nuggets. That's more money than Emily would see several months so Rongar will get a hefty 3d10 bonus for a total of 4d10.

    "Miss Emily, my excitement got the better of me," Rongar said. " Would you accept this trinket as apology and payment for any information you could provide?"


Emily Swift

    Emily tucked the gold into her waistband. "This will buy forgiveness for the slight," she said. "But the information will cost you more. I want in for a cut. Take me with you."

    Rongar thought a moment. "Done, " he said. "Now where can I find a wizard?"

    "We'll need to go down into Little Moria and find Old Crow. I finish work at ten."

    Rongar rolled 4 dice for: 1,5,8,10. The 10 was re-rolled as a 3 for no extra successes. His total was 1 success (2 -1 for the 1 he rolled). Emily rolled poorly: 2,3,3,5 for no successes. Rongar barely persuades Emily to tell him what he wants to know and ends up with more than he bargained for.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Sooner or Later...

...all gamers contemplate writing their own rules. I'm convinced that this is one of the immutable laws of our hobby. What gamers do with that contemplation has a great many permutations.

    The first wargame I actually designed was a simple one played on a grid with 1/32 scale plastic medieval figures. My brother and I were 10 and 13 respectively and we had a simple set of rules for movement, melee and ranged combat. We played it for an afternoon or two and then moved on to Dungeons & Dragons and Squad Leader.

     Thirty three years has passed since then. I've read, played, tweaked and set aside many more rule sets than I can remember. I've helped write a couple of games. I've edited, promoted, and pimped many others. But now it's time to sit down and actually write a set of rules. By blogging my design process, I hope to solidify some ideas, work through some design choices and hopefully get some feedback from those of you who read this.

    I've put a lot of thought into what I'd like a game to do and how I'd like it to work. Some ideas have been tested in part with other game systems. As with all creative processes, this design will draw heavily on the experiences of things (in this case games) that came before. I'll pick and choose some elements and concepts I like from other systems, throw them into the blender brain and see what can be created without blatant plagiarism.

    First let's name the game BFD for Big F'ing Deal. We could call it Whoop-de-do, Rod's Dumb-ass Game or Another Gamer Geek Wants to Make  a Million Bucks if we wanted, but BFD is a nice simple acronym. BFD needs to meet the following general goals and criteria.

            1) Be fun to play; hopefully for a wide audience.
            2) Provide experience designing and writing a game to meet my specific needs.
            3) Provide experience self publishing and marketing to a greater audience than just
                myself and a few friends.
            4) Become an alternate source of income either in it's own right, as an example of work
                for other clients or as a driver of miniatures sales.

            1) Simple, generic, universal game mechanic.
            2) RPG-lite, but expandable to skirmish and mass combat.
            3) Adaptable to most historical periods and genres.
            4) Easy to use campaign system with good depth.
            5) Easy to learn.
            6) Fast playing.

    I'm sure I'll think of some other things to add later, but it's a good start for now. Realistically, All of the goals and criteria may not be met. Things evolve over time. So I'm prepared to make changes, let things that aren't working go, and remain open to new ideas. At the same time, I don't want to end up like some friends of mind who constantly change their rules, seeking perfection or the next great thing.

    Enough for now. I'll post again in the next day or two with thoughts on the first criterion. Please feel free to chime in with suggestions or critique.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Ground Cloths

    So a couple of friends and I played Two Hour Wargames' Long Rifle last Saturday. More on the games and my impressions in another post. The point here is that we used an old wool army blanket for the ground cloth. By Sunday evening I was experiencing an moderate psoriatic flare up on my elbows and forearms. It's easy to forget that you are allergic to some things when you don't come into contact with or have to think about them every day. The upshot is that my wool allergy is still very much present and I needed to look for new table coverings for my games.

     Last night we had to go to Wal-Nut for some shopping so I stopped by their craft section to look at cloth. My goal was to find a nice green to use as a general covering for most land battle games. This is what I decided to purchase.

    It's a nice mottled green with a small leaf print on it. That was the only thing I was going to buy until I spotted a blue with a mottled oily pattern.

    This one gets to be used for naval gaming. Ok, purchases done, right?

    On my way to the cutting table I spied a deep blue mottled with black. That was pretty cool in itself, but this cloth also had gold and silver sparkles in it. While it lacks various colored nebuloid shapes, it should function well for any space games I want to play.

    The best part is that they are all a decently sturdy cotton which should wash and wear well without setting off my allergy. They measure 6 feet by almost 4 feet so I have a decent area in which to play and they fold to about the size of a 6" x 9" envelope and not much thicker for easy transport and storage.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Digital Fortress

    All right, all right. So it's merely a cardboard box fortress right now.

    I've had several PDF tile downloads available on the store for quite some time and I'll still be making things available there. But... I'm thinking that I can take a cut in profits for a much greater distribution base at RPG Now and it's associates.

    The first addition is the Derelict Hulk tile sets. It includes all of the currently available tiles for a greatly discounted price of $6.00.

15mm Large Derelict Tiles based on 2-square wide hallways
15mm Small Derelict Tiles based on 1-square wide hallways
Large Doors; 2 squares wide
Small Doors; 1 square wide
Blips and Counter Set

    I'm neck deep in sculpting, digital sculpting and painting projects so it may be a while for new printable content to be added. But for now I can play with the settings and promotional stuff and see how it all works before I dump a lot of products on to RPG Now.

     It's all one more small step toward total global domination. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Last of the Virginians

    Queue mood music. My apologies if you can't listen without Spotify.

    My goal when starting the new French and Indian project in 15mm was to buy a few packs of troops, paint them and actually play a few games with them before I purchased more. So far so good.

    I wrapped up the provincial militia last night by painting the last 20 figures as a Virgina regiment.

    I also finished a second cabin. I have 20 civilians and 1 cabin to finish before I can buy more figures. I plan to get more Blue Moon regulars, rangers and militia as well as a few more cabins and a block house. That will give me about 120 more miniatures and a few terrain pieces to add to the collection before the next purchases.

    Tonight I get to fulfill the second part of that goal by playing a few skirmish games with friends. I'll probably post some after action reports early next week.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gone a Viking

    David at Splintered Light Miniatures has given me permission to post pictures of some of his latest 15mm viking project. Below are 8 personality figures out of the 32 new sculpts this past month and a half.

    These include a few berserker types, some heroes and a rune priest.

    I was also able to complete the second FIW casualty. This one is a wounded woodland Indian.

    The completed sets will have 6  Indians and 6 European/ Colonial casualties. I'm keeping then fairly generalized so they can be used for most 18th century North American conflicts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Morning View

    My days, weeks, months in a nutshell.

    Here's the view that greets me when I sit down to sculpt. I usually have between 30 and 50 figures in various stages of completion. Probably a product of adult Attention Deficit Disorder, self-diagnosed, of course. Some of these figures will never be completed, but most will eventually be rotated into the front row where the lucky winners reside.

    And the view when I sit at the computer to post, check orders and answer email. These are the lucky winners. I sit them in front of me so I can see what progress has been made. It's a little disappointing when I finally do get enough for a master mold and have to send them off. But slowly the ranks fill out with new work, making room to start more of the ideas bouncing around in my head.

    The problem I've had since I started sculpting miniatures has been that everything I see on TV or read becomes fodder. I start mentally working through the problems of sculpting the subject. The next step that naturally follows is, "How do I make money from this idea?" I've come to the realization that it's OK to not complete everything and not everything has to become a finished miniature cast in metal. Sometimes the whole lesson is working through one part of the piece. Or maybe it's that the idea really sucks and shouldn't be pursued along those lines. It's all part of my creative process and it's all good, even when I rip a figure from the stopper and throw it in the garbage. One just has to keep the momentum going, building on previous successes and learning from past mistakes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Greeting and a Farewell

    In order to complete my Viking commission I had to clear off some of my rubber stoppers so I had more available for the personality figures. The first sculpt in line to wrap up was a new Space: 1889 Martian to go into the personality pack.

    Say hello to the Hill Martian shamaness/ priestess. She'll eventually get three male companions and be sold as a set in the Hill Martian line.

    And now for the farewells. As I complete more of the 15mm Blue Moon French and Indian War figures, I feel comfortable letting go of the 28mm guys I've had sitting around for years. Most are unpainted but there are some painted miniatures that I want to sell to a good home.

    Any thoughts on this? I have two 15mm FOGRE MK III tanks, both boxed. I'm keeping one, and selling the other. It's a prototype model with metal and resin bits, but the hull and treads are plaster. Make me an offer.

    Right now I have 6 SWAT, Bobby Jackson sculpts, but I'm not sure who the manufacturer is.

    I'm asking $60 post paid to U.S. addresses. $70 postpaid outside of the U.S.

    I also have a set of 7 Foundry Treasure Island characters that I was going to use as special personalities for the FIW campaign.

    I'm asking $80 post paid to U.S and $90 post paid to other parts of the world.

    Please email me at highlanderstudios at comcast dot net if you're interested in purchasing either set. I also have a lot of unpainted conquest rangers and Old Glory French and British if anyone would like to purchase them as is or hire me to paint them. The list follows:

    22 Old Glory Provincials, Civilians, etc.
    30 Old Glory Courier de Bouis, Fronteirsmenr, etc.
    30 Old Glory French Firing Line
    30 Old Glory British Light Infantry w/ Command

    I'll have 2 more painted sets available shortly:

      8 Old Glory Militia/ Civilians
    12 Perry AWI State Militia

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

French and Indian Progress

    Several posts ago I showed a couple of pictures of my new French and Indian War project. Unfortunately the Indians were left quite unsatisfied by their vandalism raid at that time. I've been picking at some settlers and colonial militia since then. I've also painted 10 more Indians to add to the raiding parties with another 10 to finished this week.

    The settler on the right I've named Parrish Blake. I'll be using him as the star in my Long Rifle campaign. You can't see it in this photo, but he's armed with a shovel. All the better for whacking the risen dead from the Indian burial grounds and laying them to rest again. It might even be silver to better deal with those pesky werewolves that pop up now and then.

    I've been reading several books about the French and Indian War. Most of them are centered around Fort Pitt and Braddock's road since I live right here in the area. I'm planning to set the beginning of the campaign right after Braddock's defeat. The Virginia militia has pulled back to around Cumberland and is mainly focused on defending settlers against raids in the Shenendoah Valley. Where things go from there only the dice and whim can tell.

    On a side note, sculpting has been going well here. I wrapped up one commission and I have about a week to go on another for Splintered Light. But with all of this reading and campaign planning I couldn't resist working on the beginning of a small line of casualties for the French and Indian period. They'll probably work in a pinch for AWI as well. The first is a wounded officer.

    My thought was to do a total of 8 figures for the set; 4 European and 4 Indian.

    I don't really want to produce them myself, so if you know any current manufacturers who would be interested in making these to add to their 15mm FIW lines, let me know or have them contact me.