Friday, February 24, 2017

SHIELDS UP! Unofficial Star Trek FASA House Rules

I've been working on my unofficial FASA house rules for the past year and have accumulated enough articles to deserve it's own fan rules tab on the right.  Over the past year, I've gotten a few requests from folks to publish the stat sheets as PDF files instead of just images and have added PDF links to the individual articles linked below.  I've reorganized some of the pages below and cleaned up the image quality on a few of the sheets now that I've gotten a bit more practice in creating the FASA-style look of the old books.   As always, thanks to the individual artists who allow me to use their images on the sheets as well as obviously CBS and Paramount for making such a great universe over the past 50 years!

Revised Firing Arcs

Sometime in the future, I also plan on adding a post with the tabletop counters to use the ships on a hex map in actual games.  On a final note, I realized when writing this that it is my 100th published post here so Happy Blog Centennial Anniversary as well!  :)  In celebration of that, I've done some minor cosmetic upgrades to a few things.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Archer Class Scouts... FASA edition!

I've been working on this one for a while as it is one of the first ships along with Bill Krause's Sentinel that got me to appreciate updated TOS aesthetics and rocket it past even TNG style ships in my personal list of favorites.  The original design of the ship was by Masao Okazaki on his Starfleet Museum website.  He adapted the original version, the Paris class light cruiser, into a scout class for use on the covers of the popular Vanguard series of Star Trek novels by Pocket Books.  I've covered the Archer Class in a way in the past as I've reviewed Scott Bell Fleitas' Saggitarius deck plans in an earlier post.  Scott has kindly allowed me to adapt his images for use on my FASA stat sheets which allowed me to put the finishing touches on this particular edition.  No promotional consideration was given for the use but I do openly consider myself a happy repeat customer of his (and will be reviewing the Sentinel deck plans as well in the future).  If you're interested in learning more about this ship or seeing more of Scott's work, feel free to check out his designs over on

As usual, to get the full size image, just right click and open the pic link below in a new window.  This post will also mark the first time I've included a PDF version of the stat sheet (link below the pic) which has been a request in the past.

On a final note, I'm in the process of updating my Star Trek house rules so look out for an update later this week.  Particularly astute readers may already notice a small preview of what is to come.  :)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Torpedoes Away! Loknar and Andor Class FASA Updates

Here's a slightly different take on the Star Trek FASA stat sheets with some updates to a pair of unique and popular existing starships that were heavy on the missile weapons.  Special thanks goes out to Captshade on deviantart for allowing me to adapt his starship images (and he has a bunch so go check them out at the link!) for my sheets.  Both the Loknar frigate and, to a lesser extent, the Andor light cruiser were in need of some updates so I decided to try a new sheet format with them.  Since they're existing ships, I didn't need to make up a full column of completely new fluff for them nor make multiple versions but rather just a single upgrade stat line for each. has a variety of templates including the old two per page style that the official publishers used for less "important" ships.  While I had hoped to be able to include a paragraph or two of fluff updated for the new version, the stats themselves just barely fit and even that was with a few items trimmed and using the second smallest font available on MSPaint.  Instead, I'll just include some game design ideas and fluff down below in the blog article instead. 

With both the Loknar and the Andor, I had a few requirements that I set for myself when designing the stats.  For the Andor, it absolutely had to stay at Class IX tonnage with a total firepower roughly on par with my other light cruiser, the Sentinel class, and noticeably higher than my Wasp destroyer.  Additionally, I wanted this dedicated combat vessel's total combat efficiency to be about that of the latest Reliant heavy dual role cruiser.  Fortunately, all those goals were met after upgrading several systems, most noticeably the torpedoes.  Fluffwise, this was just a typical upgrade to the mark after having served 5+ years in Starfleet with full production switching over to the new variant at the same numbers.

For the 30+ year old Loknar class, it needed to be a sizable upgrade from the last official variant (the Mk V) but still be below the combat efficiency of the most modern frigates in Starfleet, namely the latest Northhampton and Chandley variants.  I also wanted it to use the relatively underused FWG-2 engines and still maintain a mix of old and new technology.  Ideally, it would hopefully stay at Class X but that was unlikely given the 16,000mt increase in engine mass.  Unfortunately, there was no way to sizeably increase the firepower without also invariably going up to class XI so I prioritized the former.  Astute readers will also notice that I gave the Loknar a platoon of Starfleet marines similar to the company or more other frigates get; I justified this by reasoning that the upgraded tech replaced bulky older variants leading to some extra room that, along with a decrease in cargo space, allowed a platoon of marines to be stationed permanently onboard the ship.  This allowed the newest Loknar variant to fulfill the same boarding party role that frigates designed after it were able to do. Fluffwise, I see this new variant taking over with space docks initially exclusively converting older Loknar variants to at a faster rate instead of producing new ships.

As always, let me know if there are any errors in the sheets and I hope you all enjoy them as well as eventually use them on the tabletop!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

St. Petersburg Class Escort for Star Trek FASA

It's been a while since I did one of these but here is another ship for the old FASA Star Trek starship combat game.  First off, thanks to Masao Okazaki for letting me use his ship designs for the basis of my own sheets.  His Starfleet Museum website (link below) has plenty of cool looking fan designs for ships in both the TOS era and earlier including what ultimately became the Archer class scout used in official Star Trek novels.

I decided to broadly base this escort class ship both thematically and, to a lesser extent with my conversion of Masao's Pyotr Velikiy design, visually on the TOS era Defiant.  It's a small and scrappy warship produced during a time of great need (the Four Year's War) for use against a powerful foe (the Klingon Empire).  I wanted it to be powerful as a small pocket warship but not ridiculously so.  To that end, I put the Mk I's firepower slightly above phsyically larger upgraded destroyers and scouts but still markedly below other dedicated warships like the Loknar frigate and much larger heavy cruisers like the Anton and Connie.  As always, right click on the image and open in a new window to get the full sized version of the pic since blogspot automatically resizes it.  For some reason, that seems to be a very common issue for folks and my most asked question regarding my ship designs!  :)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Adventures in 3D Printing

This is a bit of a retroreview of my initial (and only so far!) foray into 3D printing from about 5 years ago.  After playing through the first two Mass Effect games, I was thoroughly captivated by the universe they created and wanted it to cross over a bit into my tabletop gaming hobby (both minis and RPGs).   The Krogans interested me most (although the Turians weren't far behind!) and I decided to dip my toes into the new waters of 3D model design and printing.  Not being a 3D artist myself, I decided to instead make a "conversion" of my favorite existing Krogan in game model, the Krogan Blood Pact Warlord Garm.  I downloaded the 30 day trial version of 3dsmax and combed various forums and website devoted to pc game modding in order to figure out how to import and then alter the models to my tastes.  Here is the original inspiration for my model (additionally GIMP'ed by myself to incorporate the weapon I added on the model):

It took me a few weeks of hobby free time but eventually I learned how to pose the model to an acceptable degree (it started in the Da Vinci "anatomical" pose), hollow it out to save on 3D printing costs, exaggerate the features for 3D printing's resolution, and most importantly "fix" the model for 3D printing.   I was both playing in and running RPG campaigns at the time using 25-28mm miniatures so I decided to scale the Krogan to match the existing line of Star Wars prepainted miniatures we were using for one of the campaigns.  The alternative, matching a space marine terminator, for the other campaign was cost prohibitive as well especially for a project that I considered a hobby gamble like 3D printing.  That was a few years ago but the reason I'm bringing it up now again is because I converted the miniature further this past week (along with another five year old unfinished 40k conversion!) and realized that it might make an interesting blog post.  Here are the results of printing the model at FUD (frosted ultra detail) on shapeways at the cost at the time of $26 including shipping (minus the left hand that I just converted from a normal fist).

 First, the good news... it worked and I had a 25mm Krogan model!  The bad news was that, even at the then max quality of FUD, I wasn't quite happy with the detail.  The face especially had alot more detail than the resolution of the printing supported and all I could do was put down a primer, thin base color coat, and some thin washes to not obliterate the shallow detail.  I had anticipated that it might be an issue due to my research and had even already "thickened" into acromegalic proportions the face of the 3D model.  Additionally, Shapeways unfortunately printed it "sideways" in the vat leading to half the model having a coarse sandpaper surface texture due to a known side effect of their 3d printing method.   Sadly, I didn't take a picture myself and am unable to find one of the issue online after five years but it was distinctively different from the typical "stepping" you see with large 3D printed models.  The rough texture was, like the Batman villain Two Face, over almost half the model and the result of Shapeways reorienting my model in their bin to fit in with others for maximum profit/models per batch print run.  The sandpaper roughness is a known issue with the process that they use but it typically mitigated by orienting the model so that the "underside" surfaces are the ones that are affected. When they reoriented my model sidesways laying down on his side in their tray, that roughness instead covered half the visible surfaces instead.

Overall, I'd say that the detail at FUD was equal to mid range board game quality.  As you can see next to a 40k (also converted this week!) plastic figure from the same era, there is a notable difference in sharpness and detail.  The edges of the model are a bit soft and rounded instead of the sharp corners modelled and most of the intricate facial detail is gone.  I was able to clean up most of the roughness over large surfaces without losing any appreciable detail so didn't ask/inquire about a replacement.  That said.. at the time on their forums... Shapeways was denying customers replacements for this issue despite the cause being their poor choice of RE-orientation of models printed at their highest quality so I probably wouldn't have gotten a replacement even if I had raised the issue.  This past weekend, I converted the left hand to include a "omnitool blade" from an old D&D prepainted minis model as well as touched up the paint a bit.

In doing updated research for this post, it looks like some of the above has improved in the years since.  When I test added the same model to my cart this week, it actually gave me an option for confirming the model's orientation so the sand paper texture I got should be avoided nowadays.  Additionally, it looks like they've incorporated both a higher resolution material (Frosted Extreme Detail) as well as one that is specifically smother (High Def Acrylate) albeit at a higher price than what I originally paid.   Unlike with other technologies and services that improve over time, it doesn't look like Shapeways has lowered the price of older offerings by passing on the value to consumers but instead just offers improvements at constantly higher prices.  I paid $20 before without shipping and a resized (25% larger so 4.8cm tall instead of 3.8cm) model would cost me $33 at the same quality or $54 at the higher quality.  Dropping the size down and using a slightly less bulky (without the edge thickening I used) and not as upscaled (only 22% larger) earlier version of the model I uploaded without any base or gun, the price drops down to $26 and $42 without shipping.  Unfortunately, I don't see any of those as a reasonable alternative even with the free shipping they now occasionally offer that I previously wasn't an option.  If the pricing changes in the near future, I'll reassess the situation periodically.  With the new video game coming out with higher detail 3d models, I'll be on the lookout for the next Krogan I'd like to potentially add to my collection.