Friday 7 June 2013

The Calamityville Massacre.

Finally got me some Sci-Fi skirmishing going on last night, the first time since the birth of Warlord Leon back in March I think.

The Rogue Trader setting of Boone's Landing has been taking shape for a while and though I still have ideas I want to take forward and at least 10 more shacks I want to build it is at last ready to use in a game. People were definitely impressed at the club last night though! I am not sure how it will come across in the photos I was able to take but hopefully you get the idea what I'm trying to do. On the back of this game I got several people hooked and I was overwhelmed with volunteers for games in the future which was my goal so I was incredibly thrilled with the success of this one demo. I must shout out to the now largely defunct 'Tales from the Maelstrom' blog. Whatever else is going on behind the scenes there, the production values of their battle reports was exceptionally high and it remains a target of mine to get to that level.

Calamityville, Boone's Landing. Moments before the peace is shattered.

You can see the farm in the background of the picture above, also the two watchtowers I built for Wolf Time on the left and right sides plus a refinery/silo type building in the foreground made from a defunct hairdryer. It was broken before I touched it, I swear! I have liberally scattered parked vehicles about the place, next time I will have some civilians wandering around too hopefully. The battle mat is from Hotzmatz, in Canada. I will be doing a separate post on mats soon and plugging Eric Hotz quite a bit because he is a customer service legend and deserves to be the first stop globally for battle mats under $100 (Can). Mine didn't need much in the way of screen printing and made it's way to me in the UK for $40 (Can)!

Here is the background blurb I gave to my players:

"Boone's Landing is a backwater, dirtball planet (sort of the Rogue Trader 'Lost Worlds' meets Mad Max meets the Wild West meets Necromunda meets Dune). It has has several influential Founding Families which look down on the masses and form the elite, land-owning, merchant class. Out on the prairie tribes of techno-savages roam, hunting wild grox and burrowing death-crabs. Further out in the barren hills live degenerate clans of inbred muties. The only Imperial forces ever to visit are those of passing Rogue Traders and the occasional Inquisitor. The planet is a port to all sorts of xenos scum, Eldar pirates, Ork freebooters, Dark Eldar slavers, Genestealer cultists and of course the servants of the ruinous powers to name but a few. There is very little in the way of law enforcement, mercenaries are hired on an ad hoc basis by the wealthiest mine owners and grox herders to solve any 'problems'. Needless to say, there are plenty of the usual hired guns that evolve in this sort of environment, gunslingers for hire, bounty hunters, escaped cyborg-slaves and unsanctioned psykers."

A closer shot of the rusty refinery, you can see the planking and ladders that facilitate access to rooftops and add an extra dimension to the scenery more clearly from this distance.

A shot of the farm, a large vent (more hairdryer) which has some not too shonky stripes painted on in freehand and the sabotaged pipeline.

A shot down the deserted high street. The locals (being unpainted) are all wisely hiding in their homes. You get a better idea of the watchtower from this angle.

A nice aerial shot focussing on the centre of Calamityville.

The High Street at high noon. A mob of unruly bandits show up to steal food, supplies and anything else sufficiently unguarded. If there is a little bit of 'unwinding' to be had too, so much the better.

"Hoooo-wee! Looks like we got ourselves a welcomin' committee boys! What say we give 'em a welcome of our own, huh?"

Word has spread of their coming however and Calamityville is prepared. Lawman Brig (Inquisitor Beaumenteur pressed into action) has hired some HPS mercenaries to teach the thieving desperados a lesson.

A great shot of the minis interacting with the terrain.

"Godsdammit Merl git that gun on that thar ruff and lay down some fraggin' lead on targit!"

The Hotel car park, the bandit leader breaks right with two of his men.

"Alrigh' you two bozos come with me. You sorta wave your heads out roun' this here hotel until some o' Brig's goons give away their spot, then I jump 'em wi' ole Sally Shotgun see!"

The HPS merc with the big gun tries to set up a machine gun nest with a buddy out wide on the flank.

The bandits make an aggressive, reckless push across the rooftops and towards the HPS positions.

"Well come on boys! Time's a flyin' so let's cause some dyin'! Whoop!

The HPS panic as they get outflanked, their shooting becomes very wild at a critical moment and their positions are overrun.

"I will always remember that hot day in Summer when bandits came to Calamityville. Lawman Brig had warned us of their comin' and collected a tax from the whole town, my folks included, and shelled out on some ' deputies'. Hah! Mercenaries more like, they mighta had shiny badges and what not but they sure got licked good nonetheless when the shootout started! Afterwards it kinda went quiet for a bit, then things started to get real tough for us folks. Lawman Brig never lived to regret his purchase. I lost my Ma and Pa that day too, kinda raised myself since. The day I turned fifteen I upped and joined the Cartwright gang so as I could learn how to fight. I will never forget the face of the bandit who broke into my house as I peered from the cupboard and some day I will find that son of a bitch and cut him where it matters."

So there you have it. I find I can't quite do a blow by blow account, I was totally overwhelmed by the response to the game and table (I know it may seem a bit basic to some but at Harrogate we had let things go pretty badly in recent years so it was a big deal to us) and I was far too busy to make proper notes and take photos. Fortunately, I now have Boone's Landing games booked for the next two Thursdays in a row at least so I can bring you the events from those, maybe doing a reshoot/replay for the blog.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Fear the unpainted locals! :-)

    Looks great Paul - corrugated cardboard for the buildings? You've done a great job of weathering them.

    1. Fear them indeed, for they shall inherit the Earth!

      Thanks for the compliments, very glad you liked the photos. Yes it is corrugated cardboard, I bought a 15m roll from a chap on eBay so I am going to be using it on terrain for the next decade or so. I bought some dense polystyrene (the sort that can cope with hot glue) to use blocks of it as frames too. I want to do some using plasticard frames now, so I can do interiors!

  2. Just curious, are you using the original rogue trader combat rules or the modified one's from white dwarf (that eventually became the 2nd edition combat system)?

    1. Hi Andrew. My starting point is the Rogue Trader rulebook and that covers small scale skirmishing really well for my money. I GM the games with a 'yes' attitude though, whatever the players want to role play I let them do. I establish rules for stuff like that on the fly, based on a lifetime of playing RT, 40k, Necromunda etc. As a kid I played exclusively from the RT main rule books (the vehicle manual and the Orks books for example, with no WD extras, until I moved on to the 2nd edition boxed set and beyond, so just about the only rules that don't influence my games are those proto 2nd edition ones from WD.

    2. Forgot to close parentheses! I am going to grammatical Hell!

  3. Great job Paul - glad it went down so well with the club.

    Do I detect a touch of Logans World and Helsreach - either way, I reckon you could definitely do with a gang of slavers and their bipedal Mecha...

    1. Thanks mate!

      It did cause quite the stir, maybe even more than the Studley Constable Table from a few weeks back (we are a club of Sci-Fi gamers at heart I can tell!).

      The section in RT on the Lost Worlds (Helsreach et al) is definitely the main inspiration, I love those few pages. I will be adding to the set up in that direction, more more more is the motto for Boone's Landing!

      There is a tiny hint of other stuff in there too, like the settlements of 'Megaton' and 'Paradise Falls' from Fallout 3. I also have a huge roll of mesh which is about to Mad Max up some cars and trucks very soon!

    2. Ah yes, I remember you mentioned Fallout 3 - the cause of many lost hours of painting miniatures or anything else constructive for that matter!

    3. That's the one. I am finally getting some use out of all those in-games hours!

  4. Looks fantastic, Warlord Paul!! I especially love the shanty-town-like shacks and the gangplanks! Nice. Also, very cool looking gangs too! Look forward to more...

    1. Thanks Weird!

      I'm grateful for the compliments and I'm also glad you like the pics. I will be using a mixture of OS 80's minis and more modern stuff that I just happen to like in the future, as well as graciously allowing others to use their own minis of course, but my first choice were the ones I picked for this game.

      Lots more to come from Boone's Landing!

  5. Hey Paul, that looked like an excellent game, fantastic terrain do I see a rare converted Star Wars Bounty Hunter vehicle? I am sure I owned it as it had claws to ensnare victims on the back??? I may be wrong though it was a long time ago

    1. Thanks very much Jason!

      Yes, good spot, it is indeed that very Star Wars toy. Before the OSR Star Wars nuts out there lynch me, I made sure to buy an inoperable dog-chew victim from eBay before I pressed it into service as a Rogue Trader plant vehicle.

  6. Rogue Trader lives on in games like these! It's one thing to talk about Rogue Trader online, but it's a large extra step to actually put it into practice and play a game, especially when you have to create a 1st edition gaming group from scratch with nothing but your evangelising skills. Well done, and I really mean that!

    I've never played 1st edition with just the rulebook, I only ever played it with the Battle Manual rules. I'm curious about how it went. Was there any hand to hand combat? How did the group find the original HTH rules, especially the pushback rules? Did you use squad coherency and split unit rules or did you treat each model as an individual unit?

  7. Thanks Ork! I won't lie, it has taken lots of time and determination to get this game played. Thankfully it was exactly the attention grabber I had hoped it would be! Evangelism is exactly the word I would use too!

    There were only two H2H combats, shooting is deadly at short range in RT. In the final photo you can see a bandit running up a gangplank onto the 2nd storey of the green shack where a merc awaits. That became a combat that was swiftly over in favour of the bandido. The players engineered a climactic confrontation between Lawman Brig and the bandit leader but Brig spoiled the party with a flurry of GM confounding 1's and virtually committed suicide. I split the forces into individual model units and ignored coherency because it keeps learner games fluid for several reasons. When two single wound models fight in CC either ones dies or it's a draw, so no need for push backs (I don't think, the book is a tiny bit woolly on the subject of draws...). Morale checks can be left to the GM, I ordered them for near misses, buddies dying nearby and having a position of cover compromised etc.

    I have managed to scan enough of the rules now (it's tough with a book that has an intact spine!) to email them out to those who are interested so they can go away and learn the ins and outs, returning to test their mettle once they have digested some of the technical details. What I wanted to do was infuse them with the spirit of Rogue Trader first and foremost. Soon I will be introducing some Ork, Imperial and Eldar forces using 80's minis, they will be organised into proper squads. I will throw in some aliens, exotic wargear, monsters and the odd carnivorous plant as the players get more confidence with the rules.

    Overall, the experience was all about enthusiasm. I was excited about the whole thing and it rubbed off onto the players and spectators quite a bit I think! I sold the game as a way to explore the boundaries of the 40k universe with unlimited freedom and the idea seems to be catching fire.

  8. That's looked like a great RT game you ran there! It's the kind of thing I'm trying to run at my club. And I know the kind of effort it takes to write scenarios, paint up models, create/scavenge scenery and collect to gether all the other bits and bobs one needs to run an RT game! I've done two games so far (reports on my blog!) and although a lot of other gamers passed by our table and commented on how cool the table and models looked, there still isn't any real interest in it. Sadly most folks seem happy to stick with modern 6th edition 40k. :(

    But enough melancholy from me! I love reading RT battle reports like this, I get excited when I find a new one! Rogue Trader was my first proper tabletop wargame and although the rules are a bit odd and vague at times (but what ruleset isn't?!), it's still a great ruleset and doesn't need much adapting or changing.

    Finally, I must compliment you on your terrain, it's fantastic! Do any of them have interiors yet? I'm trying to make some tin shacks at the moment too, I think I need to get hold of some strong corrugated card like you did. Taking apart old boxes just isn't quite enough.

    1. Hi Ninja! Great to have you visit. I have enjoyed looking through your blog (I must figure out how to subscribe without the follow gadget) and I'm happy to return the hospitality!

      At my club everyone got very jaded with GW at about the same time, the release of Warhammer 8th edition, and the release of 6th went under the radar entirely. They all moved over to historical, but really they were ripe for something exciting and visually arresting to come along. Good luck converting some of your buddies!

      Thanks very much for your kind words, I'm glad you liked the photos. Yes, RT has it's gaps! Having a GM is preferable, someone to keep things flowing and fill in the gaps. In an ideal world the game should be played without ever looking in the rulebook, just let the GM rule on stuff in the right spirit (as I seem to recall happening in your games if I'm right).

      The terrain has been fun to build and I was thrilled to finally use it, of course I still have a lot more stuff I want to do, like with any project. I am collecting materials for a second wave of shacks that will have interiors, I have knocked up a test model but nothing finished yet. They will require quite a lot of details to be scratch built such as furniture. I certainly recommend buying decent materials in big packs from eBay. The corrugated cardboard was great to use, much easier than old boxes, and I have a roll of mesh that I am making a bridge with as well as adding to some cars. Both those materials are very versatile, the cardboard makes shacks, farm sheds, lean-tos etc and the mesh is great for flooring, flat-roofing, fencing, vehicle armour and gangways to name but a few.

      Looking forward to your next battle!

  9. That's a great report, full of action and spirits. RT suits quite well this kind of scenarios. Having a GM really enhances the game, I've played both ways (with and without GM) and the former one makes it a better game indeed. But I know it's difficult enough finding RT gamers, not to say anything about GMs.
    Love your shacks and I'm looking forwart to see the new ones!

    1. Thanks very much Suber! I love RT (readers may pick up on that) and I am a big proponent of the GM role. Lots more to come from Boone's Landing so keep your eyes peeled! :)