Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Birth of the Federation (NX era rules for STA)

I've been working on my first ever "remix" of a Star Trek 3D model (basically the digital equivalent of a plastic model kitbash or conversion).  A while back on one of my first blog entries, I posted my NXL Long Range Exploratory pod idea (link here) and decided recently to try and add a 3rd dimension to the visualization.  That of course brought up the more practical gaming uses for it and reminded me that I wasn't entirely happy with the rules for the NX era in the modern Star Trek Adventures RPG.  The problem that I have with it is that I feel that the rules penalize ships from the era a bit too much as you not only get downgraded but also have to pay an extra cost for the privilege.  For example, you have to pay for the privilege of downgrading your tractor beam to a grappler cannon using a ship trait; similarly, downgrading shields to hull plating costs another.  While I wholeheartedly support making ships of that era worse than those from a century earlier, this double penalizes the worst ships whereas the most powerful ships of the era are functionally equivalent to those that come over a century later when updated. 

Tripp: "How can you be so damn sure what our sensors can do?"
T'Pol: "Vulcan children play with toys that are more sophisticated."  


Ships originating from this era (pre-2200 introduction) have a baseline technology level below that of most eras covered by the Star Trek Adventures core rules.  As such, the starting equipment for a spaceframe introduced before 2200 has the following changes:
  • Remove access to shields and the tractor beam; replace them with the polarized hull plating and grappler cable rules respectively from page 55 of the Command Division book supplement.
  • Remove photon torpedoes and phasers/disruptors and replace them with plasma turrets (no special qualities) and either the spatial torpedoes and/or nuclear warheads from page 55 of the Command Division book supplement.
     Tripp: "That tractor beam of yours is quite somethin'.  Any chance we could take a look at the specifications?" 
Vannik: "That information is classified."
 In order to emulate the more advanced ships from the era, the following talent is available for selection.

Pre-2200 service date introduction only.  This ship contains systems that are far in advance of the common technology of the day.  Each time you select this talent (max twice), you must choose to either upgrade the offensive or defensive systems of the ship.  If you choose the offensive option, you may upgrade your baseline weapons to phase weapons and/or photonic torpedoes.  If you choose defensive, you may upgrade your systems to include shields and/or tractor beams.

For example, the original NX class as launched would just include plasma turrets and spatial torpedoes with all three talent slots open.  If you instead choose to portray the ship as equiped in later seasons, the ship would have the State of the Art (Offensive) talent with the phase weapon and photonic torpedo upgrades.  If you instead wanted to go even later in the era, the NX refit would spend another slot on a second State of the Art talent in order for the ship to include shields and tractor beams.  As always, feel free to let me know what you think of this as an alternative to the official rules for the game.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Star Trek Heroclix... worth a quick touchup?

Recently I gave another player the advice that a quick wash/shade of the Star Trek heroclix figs improves their look and the level of visible detail and I realized that I had never actually done so with my own Trek clix figs that I picked up last year.  While I had done the same thing with some other clix figs like AVP and Marvel/DC ones, those examples were a few years ago and I figured I should update the blog with an example of the quick and dirty technique on the newer Star Trek figs.   My goal was to show what can be done quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively by a player without any real experience with painting miniatures.  

I tried to choose a half dozen figs showcasing a variety of factions and colors.  The original prepainted figs are duplicates of the same sculpt/paint job as I didn't think of taking the before pics of the exact same figs; any minor deviations on the base paint scheme (like roving eyebrows on the red shirt!) are just paint errors from the clix factory.  And, yes, the red shirt that I touched up is indeed missing a hand as he came like that from the ebay auction.  I had a second one of the fig so figured it wasn't worth raising a stink with the seller with one defective fig out of 20+ in the lot.  Besides, it's a bit appropriate given he's a red shirt and nurse Chapel is nearby anyways to treat his wound.  :)   Here is the starting "before" pic:

The first step that I did was a quick wash of the main uniform color.  I used a dark flesh wash on the Klingon/Romulan and a light wash on the Andorian.  The Federation figs instead got (from L to R) a red wash, soft flesh, and blue wash on the uniforms.  Skin and hands then got the approrpriate wash as well (blue for the Andorian, soft flesh for the rest).  I didn't wait for the first wash to dry before applying the second as I was purposely trying to show what a quick, relatively no fuss novice technique could do.  About the only care that I took was to avoid excessive pooling in areas like eye sockets and splotches on big flat areas.   No fig got more than 30 seconds each in total of actual painting time/attention with both washes combined.

While I was happy with the added detail in folds of the uniforms as well as on the faces, the above obviously isn't a home run either.  Despite my (admittedly minor) efforts to prevent excessive pooling, there are still areas where the wash dried a bit too prominently for my tastes so I figured I'd try and see what adding a second quick dry brush step could do for the figs.  For this next pic, I basically just dry brushed whatever the closest color I had to the base color (red for red, light blue for blue, brass for brass/copper, etc)  even if it wasn't the exact same tone to pick out the raised areas a bit more.  I wasn't careful regarding how I applied this paint so areas like the starfleet delta uniform details are somewhat obliterated.  If you want to keep those details, I'd say use a traditional careful technique in that one same area instead of drybrushing.

For darker colored figs like the klingons, I don't think the technique has much utility as the only place that I see a difference on him is on the grey uniform top (similarly the helmet/face on the romulan).  I do think though that it does improve the lighter colored figures in the line for minimal effort.  It's obviously *NOT* the same thing as repainting them with care and detail nor is it perfect as some things are lost (uniform badges and the whites of the eyes) but overall I think it is a moderate improvement for minimal effort.  Including the washes drying, the set of figs above was completely done in about an hour (most of that time taken up with waiting for the washes to dry!) with no individual figure taking more than 2-3 minutes total for both steps combined in actual painting effort.

Here is an animated comparison of the three steps in succession on the two figs that I think it had the greatest impact on.  As always, feel free to let me know what you think and whether or not the quick wash and/or dry brush is worth the effort (or if it is even an improvement in the first place!).