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Author Topic: Future Noir: Blade Runner & The Department. Nov 24: Second Game  (Read 25894 times)
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Cherno
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« on: September 23, 2012, 09:47:30 PM »

*** Note: A thread detailing all my cardboard miniature projects can be found here***

Horse D!ck! You are the Blade... Blade Runner.
- Gaff




Time for another cardboard project. After quite humble beginnings, I somehow got bit by the Blade Runner bug and decided to combine both projects. This meant completely scrapping the narrow-focused 40s Film Noir-approach with only the most basic scenery and going full-out for a glorious near-future city with buildings, vehicles, pedestrians and whatnot. All in cardboard, of course.

I decided early on that I would keep two things: The Pure black & white look and the Standees I already made. As for rules, I ordered a copy of "The Department", a game that pretty much is Blade Runner without stepping into intellectual property infringement territory (try saying that three times in a row); Replicants are Fabricants, it's not 2019 but rather the 2070s (I think), and the role of artificial beings is different: While Replicants are designed solely for off-world use in colonies and such, Fabricants are more like humanoid androids that threaten to replace all human workers because of their cheapness and reliability.



What I needed was an urban landscape with lots of buildings and vehicles for cover, as well as lots of Standees for simulating crowds of random people on the streets.

I had to decide between two different ground tile styles: The normal modern look from World Works Games "Streets Of Legend" set as seen here:




And a more "noisy" look from "Streets Of Titan" with details like water puddles, parking spaces and weird "NO VTOL ZONE" markings. Because I knew I had to convert every single image manually to black & white, having all that detail meant that it would just show up as random shapes instead of anything recognizeable after desaturation. I ultimatively went for the future look because, you know... It's Blade Runner!

For buildings, I discovered (well, I knew the before, but never considered making them) WWG's excellent line of SwiftScenic structures, boxy buildings that are easy to cut and glue and that fold flat for storage. Never being one that is satisfied with the vanilla options, I heavily modified the files so I wouldn't be restricted to 6x6 inch buildings. Now I'm able to create structures that have walls of 3, 6 or 9 inches length, a big improvement when trying to achieve a non-uniform look.

In the middle of churning out SwiftScenic buildings I thought to myself "Gee, high office blocks sure look nice in a downtown setting, but what about actualy playing the game?!?" The problem with high buildings is that they block player's line of sights, it soon becomes awkward having to stand up and bend over the table to see the action. Moving figures in narrow alleyways also becomes next to impossible without bumping against the scenery. In the end, I limited myself to one-story buildings, just imagining that most of them are actually higher. If you have ever played X-Com, you will probably have "cut off" all uper levels as well when in BattleScape view.

Next stop: Vehicles. there aren't too many choices of slightly futuristic civilian vehicles available in paper, but again, World Works Games got what I need. Paper model designer Mel Ebbles created a nice range of paper vehicles for WWG, and I pretty much used everything that didn't look too militaristic. I also got hold of two cool paper model trucks from other sources. Again, everything had to be converted to black & white, which in the case of the Ebbles / WWG vehicles meant editing every detail like headlights, windshields, bumpers etc. seperately.

On a side note, doing everything in black & white meant I wouldn't have to worry about edging anything because white paper showing through could just be counted as further details or outlines. This fact helped speed up the build process.

The Standees where again made from the vast archive of suitable 28mm miniature photos I have assembled so far, with (among others) miniature images from Arkham Horror and Vampifan's collection re-purposed for my future noirish needs.

That sums up the basic project overview, In the coming days I will go into further detail concerning the buildings, vehicles and Standees.

Enjoy!

P.S.: Things I learned from this project: Future motorists apparently need to be reminded every 10 meters that they are in a NO VTOL ZONE.













A table full of TLX tiles



SwiftScenic Buildings



Standees examples



Future additions will be featured in the following placeholder posts.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 06:10:51 PM by Cherno » Logged

Cherno
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 09:47:44 PM »

Update: Vehicles



DMC Northstar / HL-300 from WorldWorksGames

A big hover limousine, perfect for the future corporate executive!



Taxi Variant

Grimy and with hose-down artificial synth-leather interior, but at least thh cab driver sits behind armoured glass Wink



Veloce Brio, tomorrow's commuter! from WorldWorksGames

A nice little model. This is what most commuters would prefer, an affordable vehicle that fits in all spots.



Interceptor (a.k.a. Not-Spinner Wink ) from WorldWorksGames

Also available in unmarked variants for more subtle police work.



Large Truck from WorldWorksGames

This thing is huge! It also looks simple but was actually not that easy to build. Water and chemical/oil tanks are available as well.



SGS-27 Mehari Small Truck from Wargamedownloads

I had to re-do the complete upper parts because they were painted in a desert camouflage theme I really didn't like, that's why it looks too clean now. Still a cool model.



Samsara Medium Wheeled Utility Vehicle from Toposolitario

This is one huge vehicle! I printed it at 75% and it's still a monster, but a very cool and detailed model. It was fairly easy to build, the hydraulic arm was fiddly though. The model comes with multiple options and add-ons for different roles, such as missile launchers, communication arrays etc. I chose a construction yard theme but didn't add the optional support pillars and I put a magnet into the arm so that it can be turned and removed.



« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 07:08:17 PM by Cherno » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 09:47:53 PM »

Update: Standees

So here are a couple of the Standees I created. Most were just converted from stuff I already had. Thanks to all who made their images available to me, much appreciated!

Characters have their last names on their bases, while support NPCs have different symbols to better see who they are from a distance: A police star for state police, riot helmet for riot officers and a chemistry glass (?) for the lab technician.
The minor and major suspects all have a question mark on their bases but I haven't built any yet Smiley
There's also three rioters with a flame symbol. They are used in one particular scenario in which a mob protests outside a manufacturing plant and generates rioters.

The Fuzz! Most have names taken directly from crime films. Bonus points if you can recognize them Wink



Support NPCs



Rioters



Suspects, actually some kind of hardened street gang or criminal posse



Random civilians, can't have enough of them!



« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 09:43:11 PM by Cherno » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 09:48:03 PM »

derpy
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Cherno
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 09:48:11 PM »

*Added Nov 4th 2012*

Last wednesday we finally got around to run our first The Department session. We managed to play five scenarios and stopped only because I didn't have the required terrain for the sixth one ready (abandoned warehouse).

Let me write a few things about the game itself and what I think about it.

The Department Homepage



Game Overview

First of all, The Department is not your typical sci-fi skirmish game. It is meant to be played as a campaign of about five to ten scenarios, trying to collect evidence to unlock the last scenarios which is typically a raid to capture or kill the prime suspect, typically a terrorist cell leader or other dangerous criminal.

The game is set in 2070s U.S.A. where humanoid robots, so-called Fabricants, have largely replaced all menial labour in huge factories, leaving jobs that require creativity or initiative to humans. With this evolution of course came new problems for law enforcement agencies. Fabricants could be stolen, reprogrammed to commit crimes, go haywire and run amok, and other things that do or don't involve human criminal masterminds. Investigating all these crimes is The Department of Fabricant Management, aka The Department.

The game is played cooperatively. Players create characters who can have different strengths and weaknesses, one may be a crack interrogator, a firearms expert, close combat specialist, and more. It's important that a certain range of skills is covered by the investigating team. I created six sample characters from which we chose three:



1. Stone, based on rutger Hauer's character Harly Stone from the  British 1992 sci-fi film Split Second, a firearms expert with a grudge against Fabricants, armed with an unpermitted Assault Rifle, a cigar and a bad temper. He's also adept at intimidating perps.

2. Lebrowski, based on Billy Zane's character Jo Dee Fostar from The Silence of the Hams. He is a rookie officer with not much experience at working with evidence or booked supsects, but he's a natural athlete who can bring down any foe in close combat.

3. Tanner, based on Crystal Steele from the 1997 Blade Runner videogame, interrogations specialist and good at combining different pieces of evidence back at the station.

We just chose the first prime suspect, a terrorist cell leader who uses Fabricants as mobile bombs and equips them with a very lifelike synthetic skin job, making them extremely hard to distinguish from humans. Before we could get to him, we had to collect enough evidence though, so we played through the first five scenarios trying to solve a murder, meeting with an informant amid crowds ready to riot, arrested a drug dealer and his bodyguard, broke into a nightclub to install wiretabs, and other things.

Each scenario is played on a 4x4 table (for 28mm), with buildings and streets layout however feels right. I just laid out a portion of the city beforehand and we played four of the five missions on the same table, turning it after the first two so we had to change starting positions. Two things that make The Department special are the A.I. routine used for all suspects, which determine how they act based on how many officers they can see, among other things, and a special kind of "terrain" which are crowds of peope that affect movement and can turn hostile or dissolve if there's a fight nearby. After each mission, the investigators return to the police station where they may interrogate arested suspects, combine evidence to get new kinds of evidence (there are five different types), ask for more budget, heal their wounds, and so on. The Budget is set before the campaign starts and each weapon that is used, each additional station action, and most scenarios costs budget points. Characters can also gain Internal Affairs Points (IAP) if they do things like gun down innocents, beat up non-hostile suspects, fire their weapons near a crowd, etc. The scenarios play pretty quick, so you can possibly make it through a full campaign on an extended evening, or split it amongst two night for more casual play.

As for the rules written by Joseph Dragovich , they are based on the GoalSystem rules by Scott Pyle some may know from Goalsystem Delves which also saw a successful kickstart fund drive. Basically, for each test, a certain number of dice are rolled depending on attribute and skill value, and all 4s, 5s and 6s are goals (6s count double). If the required Theshold number is reached, the test was successful. It's an easy to understand system that allows for good granularity and can be used for pretty much every situation that may arise. The rulebook has a few errors that slipped through playtesting, but there's a FAQ on the official website so be sure to head there to get up to date Smiley

What I learned from five games of The Department

  • The Department is more RPG-Lite than skirmish game (although it can just be played as a straight head-to-head combat game without the campaign framework).In five games, not one single shot was fired, and only one melee attack was made (after which the offending suspect was quickly arrested).
  • The A.I. could use improvement if you want a deadlier or more interesting experience. They mostly just seem to flee once they see an officer or stay put, only seldomly turning hostile.
  • Prepare to spent some time planning your campaign, I strongly suggest using premade characters. I will also cough up some random events on the table and while in the station to spice things up.
  • You need lots of civilian models for the crowds (one scenario has six crowds!) to achieve that nice future street look. Each crowd has a radius of 6 inches at 28mm, although you could just use a flat marker instead of actual models. I suggest having at least 20 civilians, with 30 being ideal.
  • The skills relevant to subduing and arresting suspects and combining evidence are extremly important, make sure your characters cover those sufficiently!

I liked the game a lot, it has a strong RPG flavor and is very thematic. It's really like playing a crime procedural drama such as the various CSI series. My friends had a lot of fun as well, alhough I would have liked a little bit more combat (or rather, combat at all! Cheesy ). I'll probably change the A.I. routines a bit so that suspects become a bit more short-tempered.. I blame it on rampant drug abuse in future America!

Enough talk, let's look at some photos.

[SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION]
The first thing one of my gaming buddies said when he saw the table was "Ohhh, that looks good!"
[/SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION]



A drug dealer and his two bodyguard loiter around a street corner (dunno why they do it in front of a police spinner, but hey... as I said above, can't reason with those junkies!). Lebrowksi sneaks from behind to apprehend the suspects.





Stone and Tanner investigate a murder scene in front of the White Dragon Noodle Bar. Nobody has seen anything... of course.



Looking down main street.









Birds-eye view

You may notice some some stuff on the table next to the actual play area. I made pre-generated character sheets and also equipment reference cards. If anyone is interested, the reference cards are available for download on the Department homepage, while the sample characters will hopefully be uploaded too as well (hint hint, Joe! Tongue)

Comments & Questions welcome, of course.  Cool

« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 07:55:52 PM by Cherno » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 12:53:08 AM »

Those look great. I love the moody feel to them!
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2012, 12:58:55 AM »

The orange tint comes from the apricot-coloured walls in my living room, it somehow looks good Wink
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2012, 07:23:28 AM »

Those look great. I love the moody feel to them!

Yep. Moody was what came to mind here also.
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2012, 12:13:20 PM »

Fantastic. You are the King of Paper Goodness Cool
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2012, 03:12:18 PM »

Looks beautiful! I'd love to play on your tables, man!

For myself, I'd add little grace notes of color - all the neon signage that bedecked "Ridleyville"(as the Blade Runner crew called the L.A. street set), maybe have the "star" standees in color while all the extras are rendered in B/W. After all, this is the future, deocrated in "grime and neon", as Sid Meyers put it in an interview.
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2012, 03:28:25 PM »

Good call, a little color for accentuation would enhance the impression. Unfortunately, I can't use the business signs that come with the SwiftSceniccs because they only work on buildings higher than one story Cheesy
And I also need more cars and civilians Cheesy

Edit: I think you mean Sid Mead  Wink
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 05:44:57 PM by Cherno » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2012, 07:07:33 PM »

Update: Vehicles



DMC Northstar / HL-300 from WorldWorksGames

A big hover limousine, perfect for the future corporate executive!



Taxi Variant

Grimy and with hose-down artificial synth-leather interior, but at least thh cab driver sits behind armoured glass Wink



Veloce Brio, tomorrow's commuter! from WorldWorksGames

A nice little model. This is what most commuters would prefer, an affordable vehicle that fits in all spots.



Interceptor (a.k.a. Not-Spinner Wink ) from WorldWorksGames

Also available in unmarked variants for more subtle police work.



Large Truck from WorldWorksGames

This thing is huge! It also looks simple but was actually not that easy to build. Water and chemical/oil tanks are available as well.



SGS-27 Mehari Small Truck from Wargamedownloads

I had to re-do the complete upper parts because they were painted in a desert camouflage theme I really didn't like, that's why it looks too clean now. Still a cool model.



Samsara Medium Wheeled Utility Vehicle from Toposolitario

This is one huge vehicle! I printed it at 75% and it's still a monster, but a very cool and detailed model. It was fairly easy to build, the hydraulic arm was fiddly though. The model comes with multiple options and add-ons for different roles, such as missile launchers, communication arrays etc. I chose a construction yard theme but didn't add the optional support pillars and I put a magnet into the arm so that it can be turned and removed.



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« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 10:33:31 PM »

It's a good project and I don't want to sound negative, but it really needs to be done in various shades of grey rather than strict black and white.



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thebinmann
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« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 10:41:07 PM »

Very nice, looks like sin city!
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« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 10:41:53 PM »

NO! Donīt add colour! Donīt add shades of grey! IT IS PERFECT!!!
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