Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Legacy - Restless Dead

Written by Morpheus Kitami

As you can probably guess, Voltgloss was unable to play this game. The rumors of his grotesque demise at the hands of the undead or outer gods are greatly exaggerated. I'm sure Nyarlathotep gave him a quick smile and sent him on his way. No, he managed to escape the mansion, don't worry about that. In his stead I shall be handling the exorcising of whatever infests this mansion. I have a good deal of experience with spooky mansions, and indeed a little here. So forgive me if the first floor or so is handled stupidly, I don't want to come off like the scrub I am when I remember something.

As you all voted, I shall be picking one J. Olson, a very, very subtle reference on the team's part. If you get it, well, hopefully you'll get some of the jokes I'm going to be making. To recap, she's a journalist, and she plans on uncovering the secrets of the mansion. As an investigative journalist, she's well balanced. I suspect her usual skillset will not be very useful in a haunted mansion. But it seems she's dodged her fair share of bodyguards, so that's a plus.


After a not insignificant period of loading, the game begins. What a nice foyer. Very sparse. Almost like someone couldn't afford to render it with a bunch of furniture in it. And someone left a note in front of me. I pick it up and it says as follows:
I, Marcus Roberts, of Boston, write this, in the event of my untimely death, to serve as a warning and aid to any unfortunate who follows me into this house of evil.
For years I have been aware of the history and rumours surrounding Winthrop House. I have studied the accounts that recount the vile depravities of its owners and have discerned a disturbing pattern to them. Every 50 years strange lights have been reported in the skies over the house. Police records for the years 1843, 1893 and 1943 show a series of disappearances in the nearby town of Longport that occurred at the same time as the lights. Parish records recount similar tales from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These events coincide almost to the day. The next date falls soon in 1993.
When the house became empty, following the disappearance of the Prentiss family, I took the opportunity to enter it. What I found has confirmed my suspicions that the house is possessed by an infernal entity that is preparing to break through into our world. God willing, I may be able to prevent this. If I fail, the fate of the world will be in the hands of whoever follows me.
Marcus Roberts

Now, let's break down the technical errors first. Roberts, of Boston, writes it as "rumours". This is the European edition, apparently, but I feel that maybe a letter written by an American to another American, presumably, would be written in American English. I guess he spends too much in the company of one J. Constantine. Then, he mentions two years in the 19th century and then the 19th century. You could say he just did his research, but I don't buy it. Conclusion? Marcus here has lost all his marbles. And I guess something bad is in the house. Mostly the former.

Not cozy
Before I begin actually doing anything, I should mention the GUI and the movement. As you can see there are a bunch of windows. They're not tied down in any way. You can put them anywhere within the game itself. You've got a map, what's in front of you, movement, a text window and the character screen. The last has the inventory, attack, and spells. For now I only have four single inventory slots.

Now, you might think the movement window down there is the only way to move, because this is the dawn of the mouse era and everyone has to have fancy mouse controls, but not keyboard controls. Fortunately, Magnetic Scrolls are smarter than they must have seemed at the time. The QWEASD cluster controls movement, with Q and E turning. This will be very useful when I meet something that thinks I taste like Kobe beef. Think of it less like an adventure game and more like a Dungeon Master-clone someone cranked up the adventure elements on. The game is in real time too, which is all a niche I've very comfortable in.

Further, it appears that the cursor shows up in the screenshots, which I didn't realize as I was taking them. So, forgive me if the mouse covers a key area of the screen. I plan on making much more effective use of the cursor next time. There are quite a lot of fixtures in this room despite the removal of what I assume is most of the furniture.

Judging by the style, this painting is a very modern effort

I can't do anything with this yet, and judging by a note I soon find, seems like its wise not to mess with it yet

All the doors upstairs are locked, you'd think the furniture movers would fix that...

Further examination of the room gives me another note and a spellbook. Nothing in the spellbook. The note tells me that they've sold off all the furniture so that they can do 3d rendering of the rooms without breaking the bank. Uh, I mean, pay off the debt the estate owes to the bank. I think I should probably have been there. What if I really like things that look like they were owned by Louis XVI? Or don't care for paintings depicting witch burnings, for instance? Its 1993, someone might be very interested in a painting that looks like it should be the cover of a comic book. Come to think of it, isn't this theft? Sounds less like I should be investigating this mansion and more like I should be investigating the firm who handled the estate. They probably have ties to Lexcorp or something like that.

I guess modern problems require modern solutions

Now the opening hallway seems to flood the player with choices. There are 11 doors. Four of which are locked, one of which is very subtly placed behind a painting, a couple hallways, two rooms and a closet. The closet contains two very useful items, a first aid kit and a suitcase. There's also a note from my new dear friend, Roberts of Boston, letting me know that he, being a colossal dumbass, "unleashed a horde of zombies from the mausoleum to the east", and that there are "daemons" being summoned on the first floor. I'm starting to wish I didn't have the European edition, but I am as smart as Roberts is. He also says he hears mocking laughter whenever he tries to open the door. I try it and I only "get the sense that the door is firmly sealed by magical energy. It offers no escape from this house of evil." This sentence brought to you by space limitations. Better than instant death or a zombie dog popping out at least.

It's a start
As I think it's a good idea to avoid narrow hallways, especially with the undead hanging about, I enter one of the regular rooms. There's a couple of items here, but one worth much more than the other. A S&W Model 10, described as a small calibre revolver. That's all revolvers, when you get down to it. The real gun uses some kind of .38 ammo, depending on what its been designed to use. Seems weird to mention the model but not the ammunition.

No item


The other item is barely worth mentioning, save for the limitations it reveals. A bottle, only good for being the bare minimum of a melee weapon. Now, when you find an item, you right click on it, and you get a typical right click menu, like Windows has. It gives whatever options you can use on it, in this case examine and take. You could just drag it with the left mouse button, but that seems so inelegant. But in order to do that here, you have to turn all the way around and then take it. I hope this is just a thing with furniture and not a general thing. You can also interact with the environment. Like this ugly chair that would have looked much nicer in someone else's home. When they say matching the floor and walls, they don't mean blend into it.

I'd continue to talk about how ugly the furniture is, but this isn't about making fun of a dead man's choices. Its about making fun of a dead man's choices in a different way. I still can't help but think the estate agent was laughing as he selected whatever items he wanted in his house. Knowing my luck he probably took away an item that would solve this mess in a flash.

A very polite member of the walking dead

Now back to our regularly scheduled horror game. Here's a zombie. He's just standing there, while Olson is screaming. The scream sounds weird, not human but not in a monsterish way. Like they managed to find something that sounds like a scream in the Soundblaster MIDI table but it sounds very lame. I could shoot him, but he's not doing anything yet and I yelled out one belter. Besides I only have six shots of small calibre ammunition. I have to conserve ammo for all the demons.

In case you forgot this this was a RPG inspired by Dungeon Master...

Little pits, and a key behind them. Yay...I assume its a pit anyway, I'm not about to walk over those blocks. Yes, in case you forgot after all my talk of what a terrible home this is, this is a Dungeon Master-clone. A dolled up one with a lot of adventure aspects, but still a RPG at heart. As I turn to leave the room I notice a pair of buttons against the door. Ah, it toggles the pits...Why? No, nevermind, no more talking about the house itself. The key is a chipped key, I guess I'll have to find a chipped lock.

Not all members of the living dead are as cool as the others

Triumph turns to terror quite quickly. Three green, comic book looking zombies. This isn't a slasher film, my character being a woman holds no value here. I'm just as likely to bite it in a dramatic and overly graphic manner as anyone else. Fortunately, the undead don't seem to be that good at chasing me or understanding doors. Or damaging them. At least I won't end up surrounded by hundreds of them. So far combat hasn't been very troublesome, probably because cowardice is about a thousand deaths. Going past them seems to engage the dodging skill, because that's what it says in the text box.

Better than ouch, I walked into a zombie

Oh, good. I remember this. Apparently there's a lightning storm outside. You can't actually hear this for the most part, except for whenever the power goes out. A small bang and then nothing. It comes back on, but I know its not going to stay on. Zombies...darkness...I think I'm going to be running away a lot here.

Anyway, there's another note, from another person. That leaves me, Roberts of Boston and some investigator wandering around this mansion. Its not very interesting, weird guy hired him, there's safety in a strange triangle symbol, and the lampshades are the ugliest thing around. I may have added that last part.

I shouldn't have joked about the furniture. North, as it happens, to where the zombie who was just standing around was. Apparently he's deaf, but still hungry for human flesh. He comes in after me, and I go past him, it's what I wanted anyway. The door automatically closes behind me, and thankfully that locks him in. Then, one of his friends comes sauntering my way, and I make a mad dash east. A stupid move on my part, because I know there's another one somewhere there, I saw him earlier. So I enter a different room...and now I'm stuck in here. There's no way out except through 200 pounds...er...kilograms of the living dead. There's a crystal in here. I can meditate with it apparently.

Remember, only trap zombies behind wooden doors in games where you can't destroy wooden doors

I begin to ponder how I'll make it out of this mess. Oh, right, I'll just do what I did a second ago, but on purpose. Now I could have run past him earlier, but I wanted to take this nice picture of a zombie. This picture is going to put me on the cover of The Daily Planet, for the three days before the zombie apocalypse happens anyway. Ah...now this whole section of the hallway is my oyster...at least until I bring in another zombie in this section, anyway.

Now if only I can get some experience to make it effective.

Treading very carefully in a slightly widening circle, I start to find some actually useful items for a change. There's a spell, Shroud of the Shadow Walker. Right now its probably not worth the investment of magic points, but later it might be. Then flashlight...why its not called a torch here I'll never know. Then Olson starts screaming randomly and I decide to be the better part of valor. I did notice that there were stairs nearby...it's the east side of the house. Maybe the mausoleum is safe now that all the dead people are gone.

My strategy of not engaging in combat and avoiding danger is at least not doing me any active harm. The hallways remain clear, so I carefully open doors, and if I hear screaming or see a zombie, sidestep out of the way. I end up with another crystal, and a "fast food", which seems more like a TV dinner. Lying on the floor, so I'm clear. I'm guessing a freezer was taken out to pay for the "estates expenses". Then in a closet there's a phial of holy water.

If an elderitch abomination let's you get this close without doing anything, don't ask questions

The hallways feel too quiet. Either I got most of the guys out in inner rooms, which will probably cause me a little grief later, or I'm just really lucky. Because my luck was quite good as I enetered a big hallway of sorts in the western area. A sort of shed look to it. In here, I found this thing. What is it? I dunno. When Olson saw it, she was paralyzed with fear. So I'm waiting for this thing to finish me off...and it floats past me. How very nice of him. When it leaves her vision, she calms down. The fear returns if he returns, but it's less paralyzing, and more, back away.

So I go north, to the room the thing came out of. There's some useful stuff in there, another medikit, a speedloader of small calibre ammunition and a juju fetish. Which tells me that it protects me from the walking dead. Nice. I guess these are voodoo zombies then.

Look at those hands, look at that hair, he should be in an emo band

Fortunately, there's a sucker in the southern hallway of this room. He's still eager to cave my skull in, but he doesn't do anything. Look at this loser. Hahahahahaha!. Can't do anything as long as I have this juju fetish. I can probably go throughout the house without worrying about anything now. The house is my oyster now. Yes...now would be a good time to take a breather. Doesn't even matter if there's a triangle here or not, I can just take a breather anywhere. I don't even have to worry about all these bite wounds now. 

Inventory: Medikit (x2), spellbook, magic crystal (x2), holy water, bottle, S&W Model 10, speedloader of small calibre ammunition, chipped key, fast food, bottle 
Spellbook: Shroud of the Shadow Walker

This Session: 1 hour 30 minutes

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Victrix 28Mm Rome's Italian Legions Project Start

I always like to document the start of a new project, mostly because the embarrassment of not completing it once its public spurs me on 😂 Having nearly reached the end of my Kingdom of Jerusalem mini Project, I cast my eyes round the warehouse for some new project inspiration.

The above box stood out a mile. Regulars will have seen my recent posts regarding Mortem et Gloriam, the new set of Ancient Rules for da house and that has enthused me to get my Rome / Carthage project of the sidings and onto the main line again.

I bought a box of these, many years ago from Wonderland Models in Edinburgh (my favourite shop in the whole world) and they have been sat in the to do box for a long time. Below is a quick video regarding the contents.

I already have a Roman Legion of the time with 32 Velites, 64 Hastati, 64 Principles, 32 Triari, 15 cavalry and a couple of officers (about 20:1) so my plan for this mini Project is to produce an Allied Italian Legion to the same strength (plus an extra Cavalry Unit as per the orbats).

As a sidebar whilst slogging through the Kingdom of Jerusalem Knights I painted one of each of the main types as a tester, pretty pleased with the results. These are the first Victrix figures I've ever had so I am quite impressed with the quality. 

I have a lot of Cavalry for various projects prepped so most likely I will build and prep all the figures and use it as my project for the Analogue Hobbies Winter Paint Challenge.

See you all soon with some Kingdom of Jerusalem Knights.


When we last lest off on this rather rambling discussion, we had addressed the issues regarding manufacturing plastic miniatures, the costs involved and some of the challenges a small manufacturer faces, regarding time to market, the supply chain, the customer base and profit margins. 

You can view the other conversations here:

This is part 4: Where to go from here.

This is the last in that series of rather frank discussions. This conversation will be about the direction DreamForge will take and how I would like to handle new releases and how to keep the train rolling as much as possible while limiting delays as much as possible.

Where have I been since my last post? Working on prints, testing a few theories about mold manufacturing with an eye to efficiency, repeatability and quality.

Where to go from here…. Well, that is a rather large question with some fairly complicated moving parts. I love doing what I am doing but at the end of the day, this is a business and all paths forward must be manageable, efficient and profitable. With the other conversations behind us I can address my path forward.

  •  Production will be moved in house, for cost, quality control and to allow for ease of movement from one product to the next. Should one flop, the investment will be minimal, and the next release more easily moved into, as I will be controlling the manufacturing aspects and it facilitates a far more inventory on hand friendly option. Manufacturing just what you need when you need it keeps 'dead stock' issues to a minimum. The obvious down side is that this does impact my design time as I am elbow deep in the manufacturing process.

  • I will be releasing product in waves, making enough for the anticipated first product push and not returning to that product until there is a production slot open to deal with the extra run. This may cause issues where the supply does not meet the demand, but it is a necessary evil. Every kit setting on a shelf, is money tied up, money that could and should be used for the next release.

  •   New kits and re-issues of older kits will be in resin, the costs to tool and run the product are far more manageable and I went over in the previous paragraphs, it allows me far more financial freedom and the ability to tailor my production and keep a more fluid release schedule on hand. Having a 500 unit minimum and a 4-6 month lead on restocks simply does not work for a company my size.)       The plastic kits are limited to stock on hand, if you want them, you might want to pick them up   while they are available, once they are gone, they are gone. They will be replaced by the resin versions in the future. The infantry will not be discounted as the supply is very limited. Any kit in stock that has too much excess inventory will see some great sales until the stock levels reach a minimal level.

  • I know some of you may not have had stellar results from resin kits, I will do my best to control quality and have been experimenting with a few techniques to minimize the gate and vent size down to 1/16" (about 1mm) to help get rid of the issues with massive cleanup and destroyed details due to overly large pour gates. This process does have some drawbacks. The resin I use cannot be fast setting, which means a mold may not see more than two casts per day. To address this issue, I have worked out a means to make many copies of the same molds, quickly and efficiently. There is simply no way to match the production speed of injected plastic but considering its tooling costs and the lead time needed, it is not an option within this niche market where the 'new shiny', it what sells.  I much prefer being able to continually release great products than hope a kit has staying power to pay for the initial investment.

Would I ever consider a plastic release? Yes, given the right kit, it is still a better means of production. Having the experience, I have gained so far, I have a good feel of what will and what will not survive a long release, the only questions is whether the community will have moved on to the next game/product in the meantime.

 So, now you know the direction… What's next?

Hover StuG!
I will be doing a bit more mold testing and refining of process and then the initial run of the StuG can begin. The initial run will be 200-300 kits 

Here you can see a pre-production test!

Ferals and troopers, really cool kits, fun as hell to model these, but without a game or other driving force to push sales and no obvious 'counts as' the sales on these may be a little soft. I will keep my initial run fairly small while keeping an eye on my customers reactions.

The Ferals are shown here with all five poses, the Shadokesh trooper is one of the five, just working on the prints for the other four.

These have been OOS for some time and will be the first re-release, followed closely by other infantry lines. The re-releases will be roughly in the same format, separate arms and chests, etc, but I may join up some components that were split to ease manufacturing, assembly and part count issues.

After that? The Protectorate! Honestly not doing these in plastic is a blessing and a curse. I know they would sell with enough initial volume but the freedom of not needing to respect the 'direction of pull' of a hard too means I can start to really flex some modeling muscle and make them as cool as possible.
And after that? Buildings, terrain, other vehicles, races, etc.…..

My intent is to get far more interactive with the community regarding those future releases, asking for feedback and taking critiques to make every kit the best I can. The re-releases, StuG and Shadokesh are basically done from the modeling aspect, so, they are what they are…. But I look forward to flexing the old grey matter with all of you for the future lines. Its going to be fun, its going to be cool and I hope to see many of you helping to shape the products you want!

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