M. Jared Swenson Productions

This blog chronicles my projects, developments, and all things related to tabletop gaming. I will try to avoid rants and reviews. Mostly games I'm developing, and progresses from my campaigns.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another AMAZING minis deal on the Internet

With all the excitement of Reaper's BONES Kickstarter, people have been raving about the excellent deal they had going on for miniatures. And rightly so. 240 minis for $100 is nothing to be quiet about.

Well let me point you to another great deal on the internet for miniatures.
Found here, this is a deal for 80 individually sprue'd plastic soldiers for about $25 USD + shipping and handling, which totals to just a little over $30 USD. That amounts to about 38 cents a figure.

Go to the website to find out exactly what miniatures come in it, but this is a very good deal for getting a ton of plastic scifi soldiers to play around with. The details are really not that great (signs of old molds and sculpts) and a lot of their poses are semi-rigid, but they are great for conversions. I know a lot who have used them to fill the ranks of Imperial Guard for their Warhammer 40k army, and I have plans on using them in scifi rpgs. Need a bunch of corporate security dudes represented for when your PCs heist goes terribly wrong? Done.

So I bought the bag. It took a couple weeks to get to me (overseas shipping and all), and I did up a couple of them just to see what I'm getting. The picture above is quite literally what you get. A clear bag crammed with 80 sprues.
First Painting
Jarom's creative use of 2 sprues. Dead counters.
So next time you want to fill your tub with even more minis and have some spare cash again, get this deal.

PS: I know they originally went to a game called Warzone, which I hear still has a following despite the original game company being out of business, and the original books are out of print. And I know that Warzone is also the Mutant Chronicles setting...sort of.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: Nariac Domain

Last week we covered the technocentric nation of Insight, now it's the:

If you believe in equality among sentients throughout the universe and are hopped up on some pretty awesome cybertech, then you might be a Nariac.
  • Population: 636 Billion Sentients
  • Founding Year: 2267
  • GW2 Alliance: Expansion Pentad
  • Capital World: Naria
  • Dominant Faith: Religion is a practice ridiculed and nearly nonexistent.
  • Notable Locations: Efforts centered on securing the rights to the moons of Pox, a gas giant in the StarMech-controlled Tendril system in the Verge.
When a band of rugged colonists landed on the harsh world of Naria, they had no choice but to unite for survival. What evolved was a slowly explanding community built around equal division of labor. For the longest time the Nariacs thrived without any form of governing body. No sentient was counted above the rest. Each performed their labors of the whole, and each got their equal share. This started as a need to survive but as the influence grew larger, it became an ideology. All Nariacs firmly believe true equality to be the secret to peace and prosperity. Once all is in a union, a utopia can then flourish. Personal property and ownership are a thing of the past. All belongs to the community. Competition, independent corporations, and private enterprises remain forbidden throughout Nariac reaches.

Due to the homeworld of Naria being metal rich and the very strong work ethic of Nariacs, they found a formidable strength during the galactic wars, especially among their allies. Rigorous educational testing places each Nariac in a field suited to his or her ability, even military. Young Nariacs serve a term obediently and they get to keep their military grade cybernetics. The domain has encouraged the development of cybertechnology, and it has grown to an art form. It was adopted originally to help aid labor and has since grown to a dependency and completely acceptable practice. It's also the domain's solution in keeping order. Implants monitor the activity of Nariac citizen-workers and only a few refugees are without the implants. This helps prevent any organized disruption of the domain, but this invasive presense, and utter lack of privacy, is something that even the Nariacs sometimes have difficulty dealing with.

An individual Nariac, the idea is alien, bordering on the obsurd. To describe a Nariac is to describe a member of a thriving community. Each worker-citizen is rewarded with a livelihood, employment, and place to live. The Nariacs contribute their skills and hard labor for the betterment of the whole. In a community where there is no individual property, greed becomes pointless. They believe they have found the perfect system for the betterment of life. Workers of the galaxy, unite!
Left to right: Austrin, Inseer, Nariac, Borealin, and Hatire
Paraphrased from: David Eckleberry, and Richard Baker. Star*Drive Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. P.O. Box 707 Renton, WA. 98057-0707: Wizards of the Coast / TSR, 1998.

Rogue Space Character Ideas
More than any other people, Nariacs are immersed in technology. Cool metallic surfaces surround the Nariac child, and joining the Nariac nation always entails the integration of circuitry into skin. A player may choose to be a Nariac for his/her race (human only) during character creation. In doing so they begin play with one free piece of cybertech. This piece does not count toward Cykosis or reduce his/her Empathy score. Unfortunately this cybertech also includes an implanted security monitor that reports their movements to the Domain.

Character Background: Doctor
High Attributes: Scientific and Repairing
Archetype: Technician
Elsewhere in the galaxy you have a unique and special skill, but within the Domain it is standard practice for any doctor. Cybersurgery is its own medical study. Knowing the intricacies of making the biological body and mechanical components work together can be challenging. But for you, it's a day in the office. Servicing and installing parts for the many Nariac citizens during your time as a worker-citizen has honed your skills to a rote. The more remote Verge worlds could have use of a talented cybersurgeon such as yourself.

Character Background: Soldier
High Attributes: Fighting and Repairing
Archetype: Warrior
You served your term, you got the great military grade cybertech, but now the community is calling you back into the fold as an equal worker-citizen. Not comfortable with that, and with a love of battle you gained from GW2, you left the Domain. You may have even found a technician who could deactivate your tracking device. You now seek employment as a mercenary in the Verge, where the Domain and its allies cannot reach.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Beauty of 3D Printing

Every once in a while I begin to forget why I'm saving up my precious moneys for a 3D printer, and not spending it all on awesome gaming stuff. Then whenever that happens, I stumble into something that reminds me why I'm doing it. I found this on Thingiverse. It's no secret that home 3D printer resolution can leave you wanting, but this guy's minis look great. Even with the limited resolution, you definitely recognize what is what. The idea is to keep the minis very simple and detail free. Rely on bigger things to show it off, like capes, poses, and big weapons.
Check out other stuff by him. Like Pocket Tactics. Being able to print off these alone and how many you want, makes the Makerbot worth the wait.

One of my biggest obstacles with 3D printing though would be the CAD part. I have little experience with 3D design programs and any I experiment with can be a huge headache. Like using photoshop for the first time with no instructions. So many tools and can be confusing.

And then I found Tinkercad. An amazing website which uses a light but effective browser based design program. All your files are stored online, and no download necessary to run. It's all handled within the browser. Within minutes of doing some of their simple tutorials, I became really good at it, and have already began making things. It is awesome.

So with a new found excitement in 3D printing, and a great design program to cut my teeth on, I am planning my next project. A board game where everything is printed.

Over the weekend I went on a long 4 day trip to attend my wife's graduation from her masters program (Gratz again, Hunny!) and the whole time I thought about this and wrote up several pages on it. So part of the official announcement, here is a scan directly from my notebook.
Facility will be a scifi board game set in our Wartech universe. It will give you a small primer to the setting and utilize a variation of my tested rules from my other rules-lite miniatures game, Angry Miniatures.

This will give me plenty of practice in CAD so when I finally get my Makerbot (I am now at $700!) I will be able to utilize it right away.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: Insight

Last week I covered the fanatical Hatire Community, this week it is the young nation called:


If you are a computer and grid genius, one who sees the interstellar network as the next step in humanities evolution, and believes in the freedom of information, then you might be an Inseer.
  • Population: 278 Billion Sentients
  • Founding Year: 2198, Independence from VoidCorp in 2460
  • GW2 Alliance: FreeSpace Alliance
  • Capital World: Vision
  • Dominant Faith: Insightful
  • Notable Locations: Bhruu, Karnath System (Verge world - currently usurping VoidCorp in another attempt to enslave a primitive alien race)
(Blogger Note: I apologize for this post being longer than the previous ones. I usually try to keep the history and description confined to about 3 paragraphs, but Insight has so much I couldn't leave out. Bear with it as it is one of the more interesting stellar nations.)

Insight is the youngest stellar nation, born only 40 years ago. They appear to be the smallest. They have the fewest planets and systems and weakest military, but as the saying goes, knowledge is power. Insight's history is inextricably entwined with VoidCorp and the grid. The grid is a sophisticated virtual environment linking all systems and planets together. This next stage from old earth internet was lead off entirely by VoidCorp. As the project of linking the galaxy together got bigger, VoidCorp recognized the need for a unique division dedicated entirely to advanced grid design and programming. Insight was incorporated as a VoidCorp division in 2198. From its inception it produced success after success. Insight's achievements gave its vice president unprecedented influence, and it was granted unheard of (in VoidCorp) independence. It was the closest thing that VoidCorp had to an institutionalized forum for artists. As hefty profits continued to roll in, the Inseers got whatever they wanted. Free intellectual exchange blossomed in one small division of VoidCorp.

Insight's freedom lead to revolution and betrayal. It started with small things. Free thought lead to radical ideas. They began to see the grid as humanities next step of ascension. Information, to an Inseer, is born free, and should not be bound by any government or corporation. Aware of how VoidCorp would react to any statement of Insight's principles, the revolution stayed underground. While Insight kept the image of loyal productive servants, the vice president met with representatives of the FreeSpace Alliance (Orion League, Borealis Republic, and Orlamu Theocracy) in 2394 during the Second Galactic War. This set in motion a plan for the next 50 years. In that time, Insight was the most valuable intelligence asset in human history. They uncovered key elements of the Expansion Pentad's (VoidCorp, Hatire Community, Nariac Domain, and Thuldan Empire) strategies, plans, and military placements. Unaware of the source of their intelligence reports, the Orion and Orlamu militaries were remarkably well prepared for the Pentad's offensive. Time after time FreeSpace attacks found VoidCorp weaknesses, without significant damage to Insight assets. Insight treachery can account for many of the FreeSpace Alliance's successes. Still trapped in corporate grasp, they anxiously awaited the opportunity to leave VoidCorp behind.

Then on February 5th, 2460, independence was declared. Insight positioned its strength and seven defecting VoidCorp fortress ships gave the new nation a fierce bite. VoidCorp was stunned. Insight's treachery was the best kept secret of the century. Ignoring Insight's warnings, VoidCorp massed their fleet to crush the upstart state. On May 10th, 2460, the entire VoidCorp grid crashed. Entire datacores were erased, and star systems found their networks unresponsive. Many VoidCorp drivesats simply vanished. The damage to VoidCorp economy and infrastructure couldn't be measured; VoidCorp is still recovering today. The invasion of Insight was aborted; buttressed by FreeSpace assistance, Insight survived until the war's end.

With their new freedom, Insight shed most relics of VoidCorp's organization. No new formal government has been established to take place over the old one. To outsiders no order can be discerned. The best way to describe Insight is institutionalized anarchy. They will admit the administration is unconventional, but point to a clear pecking order set by reputation and gridpiloting ability. Insight has a very unique approach to grid hardware and software. While VoidCorp remains universal and fixed, Insight environments allow greater creativity and individuality. When used by skilled gridpilots, Insight systems provide the best performance known. Insight's relentless advances into VoidCorp's markets has fueled the hatred felt for its rebellious child. VoidCorp has refused to recognize Insight's independence except to the extent required by the Treaty of Concord. While open warfare is not allowed under the Concord, the war still rages on of Insight vs. VoidCorp in the grid where the Concord cannot police.

Most Inseers have adopted the doctrine of the Insightful. The grid represents the first environment in which mankind can exchange information unhindered. Free information is a natural state in which all sentients will ascend. Inseers describe themselves as poets, explorers, and artists of electronic dreams. As the smallest stellar nation, they are also the most radical. Inseer space has given birth to notions that would have boggled the minds of pre-space Terrans. And that's just how the Inseers like it. This also makes them desperate to find new experiences, to prove to themselves and to the other stellar nations. Over the years Inseer speach has become a dialect of its own, only loosely related to Galactic Standard. They spice their language with jargon, inside terminology, and lots of memes. This leads to an inward-looking, impenetrable jumble of tech-talk whenever two Inseers meet.

Paraphrased from: David Eckleberry, and Richard Baker. Star*Drive Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. P.O. Box 707 Renton, WA. 98057-0707: Wizards of the Coast / TSR, 1998.

Rogue Space Character Ideas
A culture of technical wizardry, older than the existence of Insight itself, infects all Insight characters. This genius provides Inseers with a distinct advantage with computers. A player may choose to be an Inseer for his/her race (human only) during character creation. They gain a +1 bonus to computer use and gridpiloting tests.

Grid Warrior
Character Background: Hacker
High Attributes: Repairing and Scientific
Archetype: Technician
Outward appearances can be deceiving. Nobody would suspect a scrawny unkempt person as this to be a skilled and adept warrior. But his battlefield is not in the open. It is the grid. Armed with a gridcaster computer gauntlet, neural interface cybernetics, and some of the best software he can program, security and personal hardware and software defenses are powerless against his skilled manipulations. Battling VoidCorp's oppressive corporate rule has taught Inseers a thing or two about grid warfare. Nowadays if anyone needs high class top secret information stolen or destroyed, you don't call a thief, you call an Insight grid warrior.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rogue Transmission News: MECHS Article

 Just letting you all know that the next issue of Rogue Transmissions will be featuring a big article of Rogue Space - MECHS. It will essentially be an extended rulebook reprint. Everything in the article will be taking precedence over what is printed in the original 8 page booklet. What will be included?
  • All rules in the original rulebook
  • Some errata
  • Plenty of examples, rule clarifications, and a couple mech builds
  • New weapons, gear, upgrades, and defects
  • New rules
  • And a few more pieces of art by Jarom
I am really excited for you all to see it, as MECHS has been a passionate labor of love. I finished my little campaign with my brothers and sisters and that allowed me to get the playtesting I needed to flesh this out a little more. For space purposes I had to leave out the section "Referee Help". That is planned to be its own article in the next Rogue Transmissions as there is a lot of material I want to cover there. More insight and tips on running a MECHS campaign, and how to easily manage combat with your players and NPCs.

Here is a small preview of a new rule featured in the Rogue Transmissions #2 article:
Forward Observing
Any mech may act as a forward observer to heavy weapons. The forward observer makes a Medium range attack on its target, but deals no damage. An allied mech, using a Cannon or Missiles, may roll damage on the target at the start of its turn if the forward observer’s attack succeeded and it is within the weapon’s range. This way the mech with the heavy weapons does not need line of sight to the target of the forward observer.
EXAMPLE: Jarris is acting as forward observer for Flint’s Cannon. Flint is back behind a building and can’t see the target. Jarris makes a Medium range attack on the target and succeeds. At the start of Flint’s next turn, he rolls his Cannon damage on the target.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: Hatire Community

Last week I got the academic nation of the Borealis Republic. Continuing with the next stellar nation, today is the:


If your character is following a difficult path, one of pure religious devotion to a way of life without technology, then you are probably a Hatire.
  • Population: 457 Billion Sentients
  • Founding Year: 2271
  • GW2 Alliance: Expansion Pentad
  • Capital World: Haven
  • Dominant Faith: Hatire
  • Notable Locations: Grith, Corrivale System (Verge world - currently home to a large population of free Sesheyan), Alaundril, Tendril System (Verge world - home to a monastic retreat), and various other small missionary temples throughout the Verge.
A society filled with contradictions. They are a theocratic nation that couldn't practice its faith without the stardrive, but the brethren deny the value of the technological advancements of mankind. To the brethren, the next step in humanities evolution will not be its technical toys or alterations, but be a spiritual leap of faith. In the late 23rd century, scientific advances forced radical societal change. The Hatire faith (started by Adam Hatire) attracted millions by aggressively marketing itself as a return to a spiritual way of life. Hopeful colonists left the Sol system and the brethren were among them, hoping to build a new society.

Colonies were established on dozens of systems, and the Hatire doctrines of a simple life of hard work and minimal technology were met with great success. Although they remained fervent in their faith, differences began to emerge from the varying lifestyles of the colonies. Then a discovery in the early 24th century transformed and unified Hatire society forever. Haven, a beautiful world, had yielded the intact ruins of a million year old civilization. After dozens of years of study, it revealed the inhabitants worshiped a noncorporeal being called the Cosimir, and a faith that strived for a purity of spirit. Finding it most inline with their own faith, the Hatire adopted the teachings of the Cosimir, and with this new revelation, it brought fervor to spread the Cosimir's word throughout space.

Hatire are seen by others as religious fanatics, and are famous for their distrust in technology. But they reserve their greatest hatred for technology that pollutes the spirit; turning away clones, Mechalus, and cybernetic gearheads away from the border. The most important aspect of Hatire faith is spreading the word of the Cosimir to unbelievers. Either by aggressive proselyting, or being a shining example of the joys that enlightenment brings. Accused of racism and feared as luddites, the Hatire follow a difficult, and often misunderstood path.

Paraphrased from: David Eckleberry, and Richard Baker. Star*Drive Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. P.O. Box 707 Renton, WA. 98057-0707: Wizards of the Coast / TSR, 1998.

Rogue Space Character Ideas
Because of the devotion and passion that the Hatire learn to instill within themselves, Hatire heroes may call upon the power of their faith from time to time. Even the least devout can't quite shake their religious upbringing. A player may choose to be a Hatire for his/her race (human only) during character creation. At referee's discretion the character may declare he/she is calling on the power of faith and gain a +1 bonus to any one test once per game session.

The Mind Knight
Character Background: Agent
High Attributes: Empathy and Fighting
Archetype: Mindwalker (Special) or Warrior
The Mind Knights of the Second Galactic War gave the community the reputation of militarism and converting humanity by the sword, a reputation that is mostly deserved. Something can be said about the Hatires goal of spiritual purity with the fearful discipline of the Mind Knights. Powerful psionics who use nothing but mental abilities to provide their offense and defense. They are now highly sought after to be bodyguards and advisers to whoever pays the price, and meets their high moral standards. While most mindwalkers stand out just for their talents, Hatire Mind Knights stand out above all others. When the brotherhood needed an edge during the war, these warriors filled the role better than anyone could have expected.

Heretical Outcast
Character Background: Any
High Attributes: Any
Archetype: Any
You loved your faith as much as the next loyal Hatire, but you yearned for something else. The community doesn't take well toward its members that readily welcome and use technology. Only during times of great need, such as the war or expansion, are Hatires given special dispensations called technology indulgences. But you seek out devices and knowledge unsanctioned. Perhaps out of a misunderstood necessity, or a driving curiosity. Regardless, you have been outcast for your heresies, but you may still long for the community, for your home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Minis Showcase: The Lizard Kroot

I have a dodgy history with Warhammer 40,000. I tried getting into the game a while back, but couldn't get past the overcomplicated rules systems and the 30 minute long player turns. Maybe I didn't have good teachers or was among the right crowd, but I never got into playing the game.

However I did really like painting and especially customizing miniatures. I found I enjoyed it more than playing the game. So that is about as far as I got with it.

I haven't painted much recently, so these Kroot are maybe 6 years old, but I am pretty proud of their conversion nonetheless.
I liked the Kroot and their story. They are a mutagenic race that evolve based on what they eat. In this case I got to thinking about that and wanted to go for some sort of more extreme evolution. I picked up a box of Warhammer Fantasy Lizardmen and a Kroot troop and pretty much smashed them together. You get a force of green scaly Kroot built for speed that ate a bunch of Lizardmen.

The extra fin on top of their heads, the long slender bodies, and long reptilian tales should show the Lizardmen half. The heads, quills, arms and legs remain the same. As a whole they definitely stand out from the standard GW model squad, and that's what I love about them.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: Borealis Republic

Last week I covered the gun-crazy nation of Austrin-Ontis Unlimited. Moving on through the stellar nations, today it is the:


If you are a character who thinks you are smarter than everyone else (and you most likely are), or might be a clone, then you're probably a Borealin.
  • Population: 368 Billion Sentients
  • Founding Year: 2154
  • GW2 Alliance: FreeSpace Alliance
  • Capital World: Sapphire
  • Dominant Faiths: Ancientists / Old Earth Faiths
  • Notable Locations: Silver Bell, Hammer's Star System (Verge world - now destroyed by an unknown alien force)
Made as a return to aristocracy and nobility. The new state formed during the initial expansion. They established noble classes from its cultural leadership, tracing distant ties to ancient noble houses. They adopted ancient ideas of public service, but the new nobility ruled unchecked, and poured resources into the arts. Drama, literature, and especially philosophy. A new era of mankind among alien races and homes among the stars would add a wealth of new material for philosophers for ages to come.

Before the first Galactic War, a revolution shook the republic. Autocratic governors grew complacent and their experiments in cloning and population control had become unpopular. Moreover the arts and education that the nobility had endorsed had trickled its way down. Most philosophy had little to say about a nation that did not acknowledge equality among men. As a result, during GW1 the civil war distracted them and they didn't pay much attention to it. About 50% of the population had become clones that turned on their masters, and this made an unquestionable advantage for the revolutionaries. So a compromise was reached. Then King Carolev V granted nobility to all Borealins, natural and clone. Henceforth all possessed at least the rank of Knight. The monarchy had dissolved and the conclave of nobles took its place. In essence, the King's decree formed a democracy.

Today most Borealins prefer to stay removed from the politics of the rest of the galaxy, preferring a life in the ivory tower. A dozen colleges of philosophy dominate the republic, and every Borealin attends one of them as part of their higher education. It's traditional to attend the school of ones parents, but not required. Borealins remain the best historians. The libraries on Sapphire contain the best records of humanity outside of earth itself. Indeed the Borealin histories of humanity since it left the Sol system are probably superior to those of the Solar Union. In the Borealis Republic, no one questions knowledge as the noblest pursuit.

Paraphrased from: David Eckleberry, and Richard Baker. Star*Drive Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast, Inc. P.O. Box 707 Renton, WA. 98057-0707: Wizards of the Coast / TSR, 1998.

Rogue Space Character Ideas
Thanks to a fantastic, highly adaptive early education system and centuries of breeding for intelligence, Borealins are very smart. A player may choose to be a Borealin for his/her race (human only) during character creation. Doing so they gain a +1 bonus to any general knowledge and history tests.

Celebrity Clone
Character Background: Actress
High Attributes: Empathy and Scientific
Archetype: Rogue
Due to their focus on the arts, Borealin cinema is considered some of the finest in the galaxy. Actors would generally have clones made of themselves to meet the high demands of the celebrity lifestyle, and even be stunt doubles. In this case the famous actress died due to a freak set accident, leaving her clone jobless. Out of respect for the beloved actress, they refused her clone any duplicate roles. She now gets work where she can, but in the less cultured reaches of the Verge, her likeness to the beautiful talented actress can give her an advantage wherever she goes, regardless of whether or not anyone has ever heard of her original's death. She can try making a name for herself independently, or ride the advantage of her famous likeness.

Obsessed Explorer
Character Background: Explorer
High Attributes: Scientific and Acquiring
Archetype: Technician
In this day and age, for a Borealin to establish himself as an authority figure on any given subject, it can be publish or perish. Obsessed with a new great discovery, this explorer will want to go to the farthest reaches of space and document whatever he can. Hopefully to discovery new anomalies, strange alien environments, and ideally make contact with a new sentient alien race. Anything that can spark a philosophical and ethical discussion back home would be considered a huge success for any Borealin.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rogue Space - MECHS: Closer than you think!

MECH: S.H.I. Kuratas KR01
BP: 15
T(+1) M(-2) P(-1)
Head: Light   HP(2)
   Advanced Targeter
Left Arm: Light   HP(3)
   Light Gun
Torso: Medium   HP(6)
Right Arm: Light   HP(3)
Legs: Heavy   HP(12)
Upgrades/Defects: Four-Legged, Lumbering

This mech is 15 Build points. These things, in real life, cost 1.5 million USD. So that means in this day and age, 1 build point is worth about 100,000 USD. Sounds about right.