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So, I've got a few bugs for the IMEF to hunt, but in order to do it right, there need to be some grungy, steam-filled corridors for them to hunt the bugs IN. Thanks to a trip to Skycraft (a local surplus store in the Orlando, Florida area), and to the generosity of my friend Chris Stadler (who has practically every Hirst Arts Castlemold ever made), I've got a good start on some modular sci-fi corridor sections.


At Skycraft Surplus, I picked up a bunch of "Fluoroware" 2" square tiles (some slightly pressure-warped wafer trays), plus I've got a bunch of plastic cross-stitch grid and assorted interesting plastic textures (from plastic deli trays, etc.) that I've been saving because "I could use this for some sci-fi scenery some day." I put these down on some foam-core illustration board that I marked off in 1" grids (maximum size of 6"x6" for the basic modular tiles), and used some of the Hirst Arts Industrial Edge pieces (cast by Chris Stadler) to create short wall indicators.

I LOVE the Industrial Edge castings. They have some conduits/pipes that nicely visually link the pieces together, and techno-bits that allow for numerous ways to fit them for variety. The "tech" is a little dated, in that, for instance, there's a CRT screen in one of the corners, but it would work perfectly for classic Space Hulk. I am thinking of trying to supplement it with some "high-tech cues," though for right now this nicely communicates some grungy, maintenance-access corridor type areas.


So far, all I've done is to glue down the floor sections and the edges, then to thoroughly base it black, then to messily spritz it with grey so I end up with a grungy base look. I need to go back and do some detail work for things such as indicator lights, the conduits, gratuitous caution strips, etc.

What I'd really like to do would be to make some "holo-terminals" with some translucent "neon" (green, yellow, orange, etc.) plastic strips and etch in some "display" details. I've seen the sort of plastic that would work for this, but I'm not sure where to get it without chopping up something that's perfectly useful. For now, I guess I'll just have to keep an eye out at the thrift stores and hope I get lucky. I don't figure there's anywhere I can get a sheet of "neon green" plastic cheaply.

For doors, I'm likely to fall back on some Space Hulk doors. I was thinking of using some old Sci-Fi Supply vacu-form pieces I've had for a while, but they have fairly shallow details compared to the sharp details of the Hirst Arts pieces, and hence I'm not sure they'd look like they belong. (But then ... cardboard Space Hulk doors are even flatter.)


For the segments, I've got an assortment of T-sections, 4-way intersections, straight-aways, rooms, and dead-ends. I also have a few corridor sections that do not have the wall edging, so they can either be used for straightaways, or else I can combine them together to make a larger chamber.


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Great-looking "dungeon" setup, that! Really love what you've put together, and this should all do well with the Halo bits you've posted elsewhere. Really makes me want to put together some of our Hirst stuff.

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Hmmm regarding neon green plastic.... how about getting some ohp (or whatever they use it for now) sheets and painting it green? I've seen some nice clear neon paints round...


If that doesnt work, look into industrial packaging... its amazing what gets used there.

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All right. The Hirst Arts Castlemolds "Industrial Edge" set (#325) is officially now my favorite single mold of the whole lot. ;) And this is after I've had a lot of fun making dungeon pieces and furniture and techno-gizmos and all that. Sure, I COULD make "techno-junk" edging for my corridors with a bunch of sprue and "bitz," but I love the way the pieces go together so nicely, with the conduits running along one side as a unifying element. Even Wendy appreciated the design on her own, playing around with the pieces and fitting them together while I was out running errands.


A really nice bit about these is that each block has "high points" that come up to the same height, such that if I make a room or corridor, there will be an even distribution of supporting points at the same height so that I can lay another tile on TOP of this one, and it won't wobble or tip over. In the short term, it makes it a whole lot easier for me to stack the things up on the table while I'm sorting them out. In the longer term, I'm sure it'll make storage a bit easier. If I wanted to make some sort of "multi-level" design employing these pieces, it's a helpful benefit as well (though that's not at all part of my plan).


Anyway, while they look nice enough just based and dry-brushed, a little bit of detail work goes a long way, in my opinion. I painted up the conduits and occasional features, using some "neon paint" to add some "lights" to some of the panels (but not all -- I didn't want to overload the whole set with lots of "neon light"), and then pasted on a bunch of tiny signs and display panels and caution strips I printed off at 600 dpi. (I basically put together a whole sheet of posters, signs, caution stripes, newspapers, etc., on a page in Photoshop, then printed it, and I've been cutting little pieces off to supplement base decoration for many of my figures as of late. It's just useful for scenery, too.)


This weekend, I made a run to the local thrift store, and found some "neon green" plastic items that I have started chopping up to get "holo panels" for decoration. These give me a chance to add a little more "vertical presence" to the table, as I can add things such as holo displays/screens/etc., without blocking line of sight to the rest of the layout. Whenever I get into big decorative blast doors or walls or such, invariably the action will bottleneck around them and some minis will be "hidden" from one or more of the players on the wrong side, and I'll be forced to remove the intervening obstacle or to try to turn the whole table around, or something even less convenient. With some pieces of "neon green" plastic, figures will still be visible on the other side (maybe not distinctly, but you can tell where they are).


I experimented with a "holo display" on a piece from a broken/incomplete Toy Story playset I picked up a while back. I disassembled various panels from the toy, and a couple of them I've been turning into more floor tiles, after I dremel off sections that would cause it to wobble on the table, and fill in any gaps with textured panels. There was some sort of joint or plug that I suppose originally held some sort of movable piece on the toy (but which was missing when I got it), and the plastic dome from a "neon green" water bottle fit fairly neatly over the spot. I freehand-painted some "techno lines" on the inside -- a little experiment I'm not likely to repeat, as it looks very obviously "freehand" and blotchy compared to the details I've *printed* to decorate the set. (It would have been okay, I suppose if it'd been freehand all the way, but consistency is preferred however I do it.) From a distance, it works well enough, but looks pretty ugly in close-up photos. I also had a couple of translucent blue tube pieces from a broken toy that just HAPPENED to be the right length to wedge into a gap on the toy piece (where originally there had been some sort of hinged ramp/door), so I added those, figuring that they represent some sort of "power conduit" or other such source of visual interest.

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looking awesome. Out of curiosity, what are you doing to affix the print offs?


Nothing sophisticated. I just use a hobby knife and a cutting board to cut out the pieces, then use a toothpick to apply just a tiny amount of ordinary white craft glue and smear it around, so I don't risk putting a HUGE GLOB of glue for such a tiny little "sign."


The Hirst Arts pieces have enough roughness to them that the glue has very little trouble getting a grip. Also, when I spray down plastic pieces such as the "Toy Story" platforms, I typically give them a thorough base coat in black, and then after that dries, I just sort of "spritz" them with some grey paint; this gives a varied, "poor man's airbrushed" look, and also seems to rough up the smooth sheen of the plastic enough to play more nicely with glue and such. (It DOES scrape off fairly easily, however, so I've got to be careful about that. I've already had to do some touch-up.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

John Vega of the Armadillo Game Shoppe (http://www.amorousarmadillo.com) gave me a great tip on a way to make "futuristic" vehicle barriers: take an ice cube tray (keeping an eye out for suitable designs) and put some hydrostone in it instead of water. What I get is neither ice, nor is it technically a cube, but looks pretty good with some grey base coat and then lighter grey dry-brushing, and a few smears of black acrylic wash (for "scoring" and blast marks and such).





Also, I've discovered that caution stripe is my FRIEND. :D I fixed up a pattern sheet of caution stripes at various scales in Photoshop, with a scattering of hazard signs and such, and printed it off. Since then, I've been cutting off strips and using them to decorate various of my sci-fi corridors (next to anything that looks like it might be a floor hatch or other trip hazard), but they also look pretty good to spice up Jersey barriers, too.

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Whoa...super cool stuff, here. I love the idea of making barriers with ice cube trays, and your interior set up is great. Not that I need more to do, but a lot of this would be quite applicable to my Space Hulk board... ::D:


If you want more quick set-dressing, the interior wires from a telephone cord make great cables, and wire mesh from office organization stuff (inbox trays, pen holders, etc) can be cut and reshaped to make excellent grating or barriers if you can find them at a dollar store.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I'm still working on making some "furnishings" for my space base, aiming for a more updated tech look (holo-screens instead of CRTs, for instance).

Toward that end, I've been wowed by the look of Warsen.al's "Communications Array" and "Tech Console" scenery pieces, as the laser-cut board sections with the fluorescent acrylic etched panels make for a very compelling look. However, right now I'm not trying to make self-standing scenery pieces for a miniatures-gaming battlefield; instead, I'm trying to furnish a number of modular "sci-fi corridors" I've been constructing out of broken toys from Thrift Stores, packaging, and Hirst Arts molded pieces.

For comparison, complete scenery pieces from Warsen.al's site:

Communications Array:


Tech Consoles:


Of the two designs, the Tech Consoles are probably most useful for my purposes, but I really like the angled look of the smaller panels on the Communications Array. If only I could get (or make) some little stands that would look basically like one quarter of the Communications Array (holding the acrylic panels, but leaving off all the antennae, etc., up top), I'd have a perfect little self-standing sci-fi corner terminal that I could put here or there as needed, without permanently gluing the whole thing into place.

I decided to experiment, and fortunately Warsen.al offers sets of JUST the "Fluorescent Sci-Fi Screens" (http://warsen.al/products/fluorescent-scifi-screens).

I decided to get a set of the Communications Array panels in neon green (on the left), and the Tech Console panels in neon orange (on the right).


They look pretty nice in person, and those etched details really do catch the light nicely, seeming to "glow" a bit thanks to the fluorescence.

I decided to see how they might fit in, first by taking a more recent terrain piece that I made from another part of that broken "Toy Story" play set I salvaged from the thrift store, plus a rolling plastic "globe" from the top of a "Toob" toy container.


The translucent green cylinder in the background is from another broken toy -- originally a toy that had stretchy strings looped through sections of differently-colored plastic like that, but then the stretchy material got brittle (Florida heat?) and broke somehow. I salvaged the plastic bits as they were going to be thrown away, and I occasionally use them for vaguely "high-tech" features.


I just perched the panels on the central globe display, and immediately they added a very nice "pop" to the piece.


Here's the same piece from the side, really showing off the "glow" illusion.

The trouble, however, would be in keeping these panels in place. Gluing them down would be an open invitation for them to just get snapped off -- and glue on translucent/transparent plastic generally doesn't do much for the appearance.

So, I decided to experiment with some way to make a frame or stand for the consoles so that they could be self-standing, and I could just set them onto the scenery/terrain pieces as desired, and store them separately.


I first experimented with a bit of plastic sprue, but the problem here is that I would need to glue the panel down. I'd also have a problem with a lack of uniformity if I try making several of these, but that's a problem just about with any material I'd use (since I do not have my OWN laser-cutter at home ;) ).


I tried experimenting with other materials. The cross-stitch plastic grid would have the advantage in that once I'd settled on a particular shape, I could have some degree of replication in being able to cut out pieces that looked a lot like the next one. However, the plastic is a bit too flexible, and can't readily maintain the tension I need to hold the acrylic piece in place.

I also tried cutting some mat board, but at such a small size, it was rather fiddly work, and the surface ended up wrinkling after I tried fitting in a panel the first time. Furthermore, if it's angled much at all, the frame sticks down lower than the panel, so the panel will lean to one side or the other for support. The channel underneath the panel just isn't large enough for that, given the thickness of the material from front to back.

Most likely, I will need to make something with a base of its own (just making a one-piece frame is cute and all, but impractical). Epoxy putty might be useful here, since it would give me a way to make SURE I have a snug fit.


And here are the two assembled first tries. I like the general look, and the "screen" pieces themselves look great despite everything, but it needs work. So, more experimentation is in order. The laser-cut acrylic pieces aren't exactly cheap ($6 for the "Communications Array" set of panels, and $5 for the "tech console" set of panels), so if I can turn these into "furnishings" that I can use in multiple locations, that'd be preferable to permanently affixing them anywhere.
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Starport Ferdinandea, Concourse Delta, Ceres Base


It's just a couple of days until my Interface Zero campaign starts (on Saturday), so I'm a bit anxious about getting things wrapped up for the first session.


This piece is a more wide-open section -- basically a textured floor section that can be modified with different "props" placed upon it. The flooring is made of Hirst Arts Castlemolds blocks cast and assembled by my friend Chris. (He'd originally made it for use with Star Wars Miniatures, but that fad came and went at the local game store before he finished with it, so he gave the unpainted piece to me as it was just collecting dust in the garage.) I added some Robotix toy parts that I picked up at Goodwill (base-coating black, spraying grey from above, then dry-brushing with a lighter grey acrylic).

For the Warsenal console panels, I used a hand pinning drill to bore short (~3mm) holes into the acrylic and into the matching surface of the base, and then inserted short segments of safety wire. The wire actually held in place under tension, without any need for glue to keep it there. However, I went ahead and used some Tacky Glue to affix the wire to the base. (I prefer the Tacky Glue over super glue when working with these acrylic pieces, as excess Tacky Glue is far easier to clean off, and it won't mar the surface of the plastic.)

The pin points are visible at the bottoms of the console panels, but I figure that it still makes for a nice display. Those bright points might be "projection points" or such at the bottom. The bases are some "Hunger Games" plastic bases I got as part of a grab-bag deal from someone else who had just chopped the figures off to re-base them.

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Looks cool! It's really neat watching this progress. Also, I might have missed it, but do you have a ruleset in mind for actual gameplay?


I'm using Savage Worlds RPG rules. They're pretty miniatures-friendly (probably owing partly to the fact that they're more-or-less an evolution of the "Great Rail Wars" minis game for old Deadlands Classic). While "Wild Card" characters (such as the PCs and major NPCs) may be fairly detailed, most of the combatants are treated as "Extras," and there's no hit-point tallying or other tracking to worry about for them: If someone is an Extra, either he's up, down, or off the table. About the only "tracking" I have to do is that I have a few plastic rings I use to keep track of "Shaken" status when it's applicable. Savage Worlds works pretty well for games where I want a "swashbuckling" or "action movie" vibe, where you get LOTS of faceless minions to square off against, but if you successfully shoot or stab one of them, he's going down -- not so much this business of "whittling down" every single enemy. The players can get a pretty good idea of how well they're doing in the combat based on how many ninjas, pirates, zombies, killer robots, bug aliens, or other adversaries are still on the table. ;) Plus, as RPGs go, combat resolution is pretty quick -- as long as I don't let players sit and dawdle about deciding their next action.


For the campaign I'm starting this weekend, I'm using the "Interface Zero" cyberpunk setting from Gunmetal Games, since it seems to be the best-developed cyberpunk setting for Savage Worlds. (There are a few details I'd pick on it, and I don't really care for some of the tone of the narrative and the way they treat hacking, but it's a decent enough framework to start with.)


For my convention-game one-shot "IMEF" scenario, however, I think I'm just going with core Savage Worlds RPG rules. Having a "campaign setting" isn't nearly so important when I'm just running a single 4-hour session, since we'll be using pre-generated heroes, and the prospect of character advancement is a moot point. Plus, the mechanics for a more traditional "bug hunt" are pretty straightforward; I'll mostly be supplementing it and providing a splash of color with the minis, the scenery, and with handout cards (e.g., illustrated stat cards for special items they'll find along the way such as "emergency medkit" or "service drone" or "heavy-duty plasma cutter").

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