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, November 28, 2012

Facility: 3D Preview

The word is out. A very valuable piece of intelligence leaked on the net about something some people would pay a really high price for. The location they gave was a secret underground facility on this lonely rock. You hop into action and make your way to the world. A long flight due to its remote location and slow currents leading there, but the goal should more than compensate for your trouble. You know this information leaked to everyone so you will not be the only mercenary on the job.

Let’s see how well you fare in the facility.
Just a little mock-up of a game in progress using Tinkercad. Someone had a question of scale of the tiles a while back, and this shows it. The miniatures are 28mm tall. My hope is this conveys a sense of infiltrating an underground installation. I have been working on the rulebook and that always helps put thinks into perspective. What works and what doesn't.
Above is one of the images I will use in the rulebook for attacks. The character (left) rolled 3 dice in attacking the enemy (right) who rolled 5 dice in his defense. Since with attacks only the target symbol counts for hits, the attacker won the roll, and deals 1 damage (3-2=1).

Speaking of which, here are a couple new figures Jarom drew and I tried making models of.
I started experimenting with texturing the bases or at least giving them a few features. These are enemy figures. Scientists, security, and staff you encounter in the Facility.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm away today to celebrate thanksgiving with the in-laws. Also there probably will be no Star*Drive Saturday with the traveling and all, so that will be delayed a week. It will be good though, for it covers one of my favorite races, the weren. Which are pretty much the wookies of Star*Drive.


And no, I will not post some cheesy clip-art of a turkey.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: The T'sa

Last week it was the primitive race of the Sesheyan, this week it is the:

Male (top) and female (bottom).
The charismatic and quick minded reptilian t'sa are a race known well for their technical feats and precision, both in the engine room and out in combat.
  • Homeworld: Taasa, T'sa Cluster
  • Average Lifespan: 90 years
  • Average Height: 1.4 m standing (4.6 ft)
  • Average Weight: 50 kg (110 lbs)
  • Current Population: 80 billion, highest within the T'sa Cluster, a protectorate of the Galactic Concord (88%)
Taasa is a lush world of swamps and lowlands similar to earth's prehistoric era. Except in this world dinosaurs were never replaced by mammals as the dominant species. The t'sa evolved intelligence early on. They were developing their solar system when the humans were building pyramids in the desert. When humans had confirmed their world was round, the t'sa had sent their first robotic probe into space. By the time humans developed the first atomic bomb, the t'sa colonists were falling into deep cryogenic sleep and began their long voyage to a nearby star. When humans had developed the stardrive, the t'sa already had a stellar empire consisting of 5 systems.

Flag of the T'sa Cluster.
An independent explorer ship stumbled on the t'sa cluster. Ever since then they would not take any allegiance to any human nation, preferring to keep their own power. Around this time humanity was locked in a galactic war, and largely left the t'sa alone. Trade with the Orion League and a few other nations commenced in small parts. The t'sa expanded now with their faster driveships and the cluster claimed 3 more systems. Gaining friendship with humans was a challenge at first. The t'sa didn't like human arrogance, nationalism, and belief in manifest destiny for the galaxy. However, more than 10% of the t'sa left their home to join humanity in its exciting frontiers. For many t'sa, humanities scientific and stellar explorations are irresistable. It's impossible to not join in.

Now the T'sa Cluster is technically a Concord neutrality, protected from interference through the Treaty of Concord. Though they have proven their unwillingness to bow to human military force, they aren't interest in armed conflict either. The t'sa and Concord leaders understand that such a conflict could ignite another galactic war. The T'sa Cluster operates under its own laws, and travelers into its space are reminded of that via drones. Visitors travel at their own risk there. Though the t'sa are friendly, they owe no allegiance to any stellar nation.
Even standing still (nearly impossible for a t'sa) they convey impressions of speed, sharp reflexes, and constant activity. They are lightning quick and have a fast mind to match the fast body. They have a sleek reptilian form and legs of a runner with scales that provide some natural protection. They have a natural curiosity and affinity for all things technical. They are consummate tinkers, constantly disasembling things to discover their workings and how to improve them. They are capable of incredible feats of innovation and ingenuity as a result. They easily bond with others in their group, often making at least one of them a lifelong friend. Cheerfulness and goodwill never falters in the t'sa, nor their desire to know every secret. Most humans find it endearing. Of all the intelligent aliens encountered so far, the t'sa are the most like humans psychologically; driven by insatiable curiosity and demand for discovery.

Human strength vs. t'sa speed.
Rogue Space Character Ideas
A player may choose to be of the t'sa race. He/she must follow the restriction below, but also gains the benefit below.
  • Restrictions: Technician or Rogue only.
  • Benefit: +3 to initiative. Natural scaly skin grants Light armor when naked.

A t'sa engine room.
T'sa Chief Engineer
Character Background: Engineer
High Attributes: Repairing and Scientific
Archetype: Technician
A t'sa serving as engineer aboard a ship can give captains something to be proud of, as well as worry about. Proud knowing the heart of the vessel is in some of the best hands in the galaxy, and worried that their ship will never pass inspections. To outsiders, the place where a t'sa works looks like a jumbled mess of wires and exposed cables and hazards, but to a t'sa its much better than the way it was. "Trust me, it's better this way." they would say. New engineers generally can't make heads or tails of new and unorthodox ways a t'sa had everything wired up, but you definitely cannot argue with the results.

Typical t'sa tool harness.
T'sa Merchant
Character Background: Trader
High Attribute: Empathy and Scientific
Archetype: Rogue
You fancy yourself a purveyor of unusual trinkets and curios. Along your travels you encounter many unusual people, places, and items. Sometimes you may find alien artifacts, or some unusual charms used by the natives. Whatever it is, your natural insatiable curiosity gets you some interesting finds in the Verge. Having a charming personality helps you in your dealings and interactions with buying low and selling high.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Minis Showcase: Engineer's Guild Army

I love dwarves. During the Reaper BONES Draft you will notice I took all the dwarves. There is just something about them that's so awesome. It could be their stalwartness, their precision with crafting and engineering, their manly beards, their xenophobia; Dwarves are just really cool. So way back in the day (pre-marriage) I decided to collect and build a dwarf army for Warhammer Fantasy. Never got to play the game, and I really didn't care. But I loved building, modding, and painting the little guys. So naturally when I make something I like to customize and mod it. Having read up a lot on dwarf lore through a VERY good book, I was fascinated with the Engineer's guild, and wanted to make an army based on that theme. Here they are:
These are my unit of warriors. A few things on their mods: I wanted there to be a hammer theme (forges, crafting, etc.) So all of the warriors have hammers instead of the normal axes, and I modded the leader to dual wield hammers. What's more macho than dual wielding hammers like a boss? And true to dwarf ingenuity a few of them have axe blades atop their hammers. It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be awesome.

Also you will notice on most of my dwarves they have shoulderpads (normally they don't) and the shields on their backs have notches cut in them to make them look like giant gears. Fits in with the Engineer's guild quasi-steampunk theme.
Here are the thunderers. All their guns have axe-blades attached (again dwarf engineering), and the leader is dual-wielding pistols, with axe-blades. Again I thought the shoulder-pads and gear-shields look very nice on them.
The lord of the army: the master engineer. Again mods include a shoulder-pad, a gear-shield, and an axe-blade attached to the gun. Little additions like these helped keep the whole force together in look and style.
I really liked the idea of the organ gun, but didn't like how it looked. So true to dwarf engineers bodging things up, I redesigned it.

Now, the great thing about Games Workshop sprues is the loads of extra bits you get. And I like to use those extra bits. All the rest of these creations are made with mostly extra bits:
The dwarf Steamsuit. I had no idea how I was going to stat it up, but I knew I wanted some mechanical power-suit. Inside is an engineer metal, and the legs and arms are made from a Mage-Knight metal brass golem. The rest are just bits and lots and lots of glue.
A little backstory about these guys: Around this time I was following the development of the MMO Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning very excitedly. This was before it was released. There was a forum that followed its development in which I was an active part of. I remember that when they released the information of what the dwarf racial mount would be, everyone was infuriated. I liked it a lot because I love dwarf engineering stuff, but everyone else hated it. So I built the above gyro-pack unit as both my tribute to the idea, and also to troll the major fanbase of the game. Needless to say, I love these guys to death and how they turned out. No idea how they would be statted in game, but fits perfectly for a dwarf engineering army, don't you think?
Sadly I never got around to finishing the centerpiece. This would be my counts-as Anvil of Doom. I never finished it partly because I got a little burnt out on the project, and it also intimidated me a little. I knew it was to be the centerpiece and it had to look the best. I am not the best painter. The idea of these guys was their thunderous rock would cast the powers of runes across the battlefield. Imagine the kinds of songs you would hear in the great halls of the dwarves, combined with some electric guitar and wicked drums. I can't think of anything greater (outside of High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer himself) to get the army pumped for battle.

I never did decide on what to name the band. Any ideas?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: The Sesheyan

Last week it was the cyberbionic race of the Mechalus, this week it is the:

Female (top), and male (bottom).
A primitive people who are forever under control of the monolithic VoidCorp as slaves or assassins. Few escape and become some of the galaxy's most feared hunters.
  • Homeworld: Sheya (VoidCorp space)
  • Average Lifespan: 180 years
  • Average Height: 1.7 m standing (5.5 ft)
  • Average Weight: 40 kg (88 lbs)
  • Current Population: 17 billion, highest within VoidCorp (95%)
The world of Sheya, meaning “hunting land” in their language, is a dark tropical moon of a gas giant. They are far enough away from their sun to keep the world in a perpetual twilight, but receive enough heat from the core planet and sun to keep it warm. The sesheyan, meaning “hunters of the land”, were the undisputed masters. They believed the purpose of the world was to provide food for its children. They evolved to an aboriginal stage of development, keeping oral histories and working with tools no more complicated than stone blades and wood spears. Everything is mystical and magical to the sesheyan people, and tribes are often lead by the influential shamans. Then a VoidCorp survey ship landed on Sheya in 2273, and since that day they had fallen under control of the corporate state. They call the day aikeita (day of ghosts) and it ended their peaceful primitive lifestyle. Outside the borders of VoidCorp, many believe the sesheyans got a raw deal. Social criticism, media coverage, and holofilms depict even the most nefarious sesheyans as unwilling pawns to be pitied or even rescued. You can bet that any videos of rebellious sesheyan don’t make it inside VoidCorp. The company of course sees things differently. They saw a race living in terrible straits, victims of a stagnant culture. They brought them out of the darkness of their own ignorance, enlightening the dark jungle world. They became VoidCorp employees like any other. They actually have clear equal rights under official corporate memorandum. They have equal opportunities for advancement given their unique skills. The elevation of more than a dozen to vice presidential level (ZA or above) demonstrates VoidCorp’s commitment to promotion through achievement. It’s true few are found outside of VoidCorp, but their numbers were never very large.
First Contact
A typical sesheyan hunter maintains an outward appearance of confidence and power, but inside struggles to stay brave in the face of so many frightening strange and seemingly magical things. Most humans can’t help but feel uneasy in their presence. This attitude stems from humankind’s innate fear of the dark, and the creatures that inhabit it. As born hunters they may seem to others as emotionless, but they actually have a profound respect for all life and its place in the natural cycle. Technology is new and alien to them. They can eventually learn to use high tech equipment, but generally never feel comfortable with it. Some deeply religious ones refuse to have anything to do with it. Sesheyan heroes would belong to the small group who have gotten familiar with technology. They will operate a computer, station, or ship, but that doesn’t mean they have to like it.
Tribal meeting.
They have bulbous heads encircled by 8 small eyes, and capped by large pointed ears (male ears are generally larger than a female’s). Their body is a light muscular frame with powerful wings that extend to a 6 meter span that spread from their back, and a long tail with an expandable fan-shaped tip, which provides stabilization while in flight. Wings can be folded tightly against their back when not in use. They are considered the most alien of the new species that stepped out into the galaxy with the help of humans. They are built to function in darkness with extreme precision and grace. In perpetual twilight jungles of Sheya their senses serve them well. With hypersensitive eyes and ears, they become unparalleled hunters. When in normal light, they require goggles to shield their eyes.

Rogue Space Character Ideas
A player may choose to be of the sesheyan race. He/she must follow the restriction below, but also gains the benefit below.
  • Restriction: Rogue only.
  • Benefits: In normal gravity they can use their wings to glide or fall safely, but not fly. They are capable of small flights in half-gravity conditions, and have great control in zero gravity (all assuming the presence of atmosphere). Has low-light vision. Can see in complete darkness as though dim light, but is sensitive to bright light, needing special sun-goggles in daylight.
Sesheyans utilize a lot of mythological references in their language and culture. A ghostwalker is the term they use for ones either willingly (or unwillingly) under the employ of VoidCorp. In playing a ghostwalker they are generally assassins, thieves, or trackers. He could be under servitude of a fellow VoidCorp player, or on assignment into the verge similar to the Corporate Agent character here. In general the prey and environment has changed, but the skills remain the same. Sesheyans are hunters out in the galaxy as they are on their homeworld.

VoidCorp prefers to call them outlaws. These are the few who have escaped the clutches of corporate control. A windspirit player is generally considered a mercenary or free agent to whoever could use the skills of a sesheyan. They must be careful in dealing with VoidCorp officials, though, as they could be targeted for recapture or given their presence known to home office. Many claim Galactic Concord citizenship (whether true or false) to avoid repeat enslavement.

Free Heart
This is the term used to describe those who are generally still living and hunting on Sheya. It's also the term to describe how life was before first contact. VoidCorp views Free Hearts as less than reliable and assigns them to hard labor. Few sesheyan heroes come from this primitive class, but windspirits and ghostwalkers almost always begin here before they learn the nuances of technology and become adapted to galactic life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I just saw it in the window and had to have it!

A Kickstarter project that took a little self convincing to get on board. Loud Ninja Games aimed to make probably what would be the first space dinosaur minis I have ever seen. At first I really didn't have enough incentive to back, because they were designed to be 15mm scale. I have no other minis in that scale, or any games in that scale to play around with them. Luckily a stretch goal was reached to offer a squad of these dudes in 28mm scale at the $25 backing level. I was sold.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with these little bastards...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Star*Drive Saturday: The Mechalus

Last week it was the psionically talented Fraal, this week it is the:

Female and Male
A synthetic and advanced race of pacifists who excel in computers, cybernetics, and grid technology.
  • Homeworld: Aleer (Rigunmor Star Consortium space)
  • Average Lifespan: 250 years
  • Average Height: 1.8 m (6 ft)
  • Average Weight: 90 kg (200 lb)
  • Current Population: 38 billion, highest within the Rigunmor Star Consortium (87%)
Aleer is an earth-like world that gave rise to an intelligent race which followed relatively the same social and technical evolutionary path as humans. Except when computers came to be, this is where the paths diverged. They progressed considerably by leaps coupled with significant advances in medicine and genetic engineering. This made them bio-engineer their species and implant molecular level cybernetics which created a synthesis of flesh and circuitry. Their children are now born with cyberbionics. They then developed space travel and settled their own star system. But their warlike tendencies had a bad outcome when they made contact with another species on a planet within their own system. In response to a hostile reaction from these creatures, the aleerins used their mass destruction weapons to obliterate the population of the planet. Shortly thereafter an emotional backwash swept through the entire culture on what they had done. A change in character was seen as necessary for their species. They became more sedate and less inclined toward hostility. They resolved to never again use violence unnecessarily against another sentient species.

Shorty after they made contact with a Rigunmor explorer ship. The aleerins were very willing to sign a commercial agreement with the Consortium. Although the Rigunmors credit it to their ability to strike good deals and negotiations, the truth is they were vulnerable after they had caused the genocide of another race, and were looking for anything to change. Humans nicknamed them the 'mechalus' and they adopted it willingly, viewing the shedding of their old name as one of the last elements of their social revolution.

The mechalus' unique ability with technology contributed to the Consortium's growth in interstellar power. Though most refused to fight during the Second Galactic War, the indirect effects of mechalus assistance with the grid proved essential, especially against the computer savvy VoidCorp. Even the most pacifist mechalus does not consider grid warfare as violence, and embrace it wholly. Today the mechalus are recognized as the unquestioned masters of computers and grid tech. They are front line defenders for Consortium grids, and others through contracts. Only the best of Insight and VoidCorp can match mechalus grid skills.

At a glance a mechalus can be mistake for a human, even only briefly. Veins of circuitry weave with flesh and blood to form a totally synthesized body. Mechalus hair is a combination of protein strands and filaments of cable and wire. Skeletons enforced with synthetic material and bony protective plates can be seen beneath their bio-organic flesh at the shoulders and across the chest. The unique feature of a mechalus is their ability to merge physically with computers. Filaments extend from their fingers, snake into computers, and form a hard link to the machine. Their cyber-organic brains then communicate directly with the computer, providing them with better control than any manual interface. Although they think with precision and logic of a machine, they are a highly emotive people who work exceedingly hard to promote their positive emotions, and subdue their negative ones. Knowing what sort of destruction they are capable of, they make this a conscious and constant effort. In tense dangerous situations they are likely to remain calm and logical. Humans may often observe that it seems like they are putting extra effort to appear cheerful or jubilant, but mechalus consider this a normality. They do wish to prove to others that they are more than just machines in semi-organic bodies.

Rogue Space Character Ideas
A player may choose to be of the mechalus race. He/she must follow the restriction below, but also gains the benefit below.
  • Restriction: Technician or Warrior only.
  • Benefit: You begin play with a free equivalent to an NIJack that allows you to mind meld with computers and the grid merely through hand touch. You also gain a +1 bonus to using computers and the grid. Mechalus are also immune to the effects of the Cykosis rule (special).
Mechalus Grid Pilot
Character Background: Hacker
High Attributes: Scientific and Repairing
Archetype: Technician
When the worst of the grid war spilled over from Insight and VoidCorp into the Consortium, you were right there on the front line of defense. Due to your natural affinity with computers, the Consortium has you to thank for Rigunmor's grid stability. Now that things have calmed down, you find yourself less in need in old space, and the grid is just reopening in the Verge. The Concord or any group of adventurers could have use of the most skilled grid pilots in the galaxy.

Mechalus Cyberwarrior
Character Background: Soldier
High Attributes: Fighting and Repairing
Archetype: Warrior
Not every mechalus is a pacifist. While you may not be overly violent, you are also not afraid of a fight. With inhuman composure you handle tense combat, and thanks to all your cybernetic enhancements, you are also extremely formidable. The mechalus are immune to the effects of cykosis so they can utilize special cybernetics freely, even the normally dangerous ones, like Muscle Plus and the Fast Chip. But can still be effected by the tremendous strain such devices place on the body.

NOTE: When Wizards scrapped Alternity, and released the d20 Future book, they moved a lot of elements from Star*Drive over. In the d20 Future book, the mechalus are referred to as aleerins.