Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Sentinel Gate Affair, Episode III: Step Into My Parlor

. . .  Said the Master to the Spy.

Continued from our last episode, A Bounty on the Mutant.

     The bounty hunter Tommy Takara waited near the hulking guards in the catacombs beneath the palace for what seemed a dog's age before their subtle separation heralded the arrival of the two cardinals tasked with the inquisition into what they called the "Frei matter."

     Takara was glad he was accustomed to industrial worlds, as the atmosphere was dank and acrid. In fact, the two high lords both wore masks and respirators so large their faces were either completely, or nearly completely obscured. Even in armor that was clearly ceremonial they looked surprisingly formidable. He was not eager to deliver disappointment to men such as these. While the first fellow stroked some kind of animal the second waved a greeting and began.
     "I understand you have returned empty handed."
     "Yes, your eminence. A team of local operatives found Frei and moved him into the hinterlands before I was able to secure him," Takara answered. "After that I quickly found my transit permits had disappeared."
     The air hung silent for a long moment as Takara sweated over his fate. Eventually the first fellow, the taller one with the . . . cat Takara decided, spoke out almost inaudibly.
     "Do you care to add anything before we dispatch you?"
     The word hung in the air like an axe.
     Takara swallowed before he replied. "No, your eminence. My failure is my own responsibility."
     "I'm not seeking excuses," the cardinal continued. "Merely information. What else did you observe?"
     Takara thought long about his reply. If his information was useful perhaps he would still have breath when this audience ended. Maybe even a career.
     "There seem to be quite a few parties interested. There was a second bounty hunter. Some kind of orc. Or troll, maybe."
     "And he was permitted to search freely?" the shorter cardinal interrupted.
     "Yes your eminence. It appears there is some kind of peace between the local officials and a wide variety of xenos. Maybe not trust, but tolerance. Orcs were allowed access to the administrative seat. It wasn't even walled."
     Takara paused for a moment. "Go on," prompted the quiet cardinal.
     "The operatives who secured Frei are apparently a rather well known local group. They've done a lot of work for the Rex-Avis clan in the past. And Rex-Avis seems to have some association with the Proconsul."
     "Anything else?" the shorter cardinal queried further. (Though the difference in height probably came down mostly to the size of their hats.)
     "No your eminence. I think that's all."
     The quiet man dismissed him with a nod and Takara was happy to take his leave of the place. And he made a note to himself not to accept any more jobs from the bloody cardinal electors if he could possibly help it.

. . . . .

     A short time later the two prelates turned to welcome a gentleman with heavy grey armor and a data pad.
     "Ah, Augustus. Thank you for coming," said the shorter cardinal, waving once again.

     "It seems we have need of an inquest, and we would like to ask you to lead it."
     "Absolutely, your grace," Augustus replied confidently and rather more familiarly. The two cardinals were old associates of the grizzled investigator, who was himself sworn to the service of Holy Terra; a priest inquisitor in the Imperial cult. "What do you require of me?"
     "We need you to investigate rumors of apostasy in the north; in the Tartarus Rim. Perhaps the whole of it. The very highest levels of provincial government may not be keeping full faith with Terra. There are even rumors of peace with hostile xenogennimous races, which would be a most foul heresy if it were true."
     Augustus merely nodded at this and tapped a few notes into his pad before the cardinal continued.
     "We will dispatch a force to support you, should our fears be true and invasion necessary. We cannot immediately spare much more than a squadron; a few galleons and cruisers. But they should suffice to hold any local forces at bay until the Armada can be mustered."
     Again Augustus nodded. "Do you wish me to await this force? Is it prepared?"
     "We will send you aboard the flagship, IMS Periastron," the shorter cardinal continued. "You should probably approach in secret. Perhaps leave the squadron near, but outside the province. Lord Simon will provide you with a list of suitable contacts with ships that can carry you the last few parsecs. Most likely tramp traders, but reliable and known to us."
     "Very good," Augustus said. "I pray all the fates and his Divine Majesty will smile upon you in my absence, and that they will grant this enterprise good fortune."
     "Calm spaces and prosperous voyage my friend," the cardinal replied.
     With that the three bowed slightly and made their individual ways to their appointed tasks.

. . . . .

     When Augustus reached orbit, he found a small, but formidable force awaiting him. The Periastron was a little older, but she was still a powerful warship. With her he saw the Furious class great galleon Sacrosanctus, two Comitatus class cruisers, and several smaller escorts.

     For the most part the journey was smooth. They encountered no serious storms in transit space, and much of the journey was within the boundaries of Imperial NavAid control. Only in the far galactic north was the skilled reckoning of a bound navigator required. With the aid of arcane half-alien implants in their brains, bound to them and passed down through families and guilds, navigators were able to sense the subtle metaspace currents travelers called "the warp." And indeed, Augustus found the act of looking out his porthole in transit space deeply unsettling. The other ships in the squadron seemed warped and distorted; almost monstrous. Barely recognizable as ships at all when they were visible. So he was glad when Periastron once again dropped into normal space. Ironically, it was there that his troubles began. Upon warping out the fleet found a soldified gas tanker, presumably servicing some automated mining platform.

     The commodore immediately fired a warning, seized the vessel, and took the crew into custody. Neither EM nor gravitics had shown anything that looked like a transmission. Upon inspection, there was nothing in the tanker's memory banks, but those could be scrubbed easily enough. It probably wouldn't change much if the Rimmers knew there were a fleet nearby, but it would make investigation more . . . challenging.

. . . . .

     Proconsul Commodus was deep in conversation with Marcus Camber when his chief of staff interrupted.
     "This had better be good," Commodus muttered.
     "Sir, we just got a waveless flash from a rim flagged tanker: DePCoPro Vacuum 2. It seems an imperial fleet has taken station on the border. Vac 2 shot out a coded tightbeam to a gas platform that they were servicing that had an automatic waveless reporting feature that mostly sent tech information back to corporate. The report came through buried in the regular data, but according to the timestamps it seems like this probably happened about six hours ago."
     He handed the Proconsul a flimsy with the basic details. Commodus examined it for a moment and Camber observed silently.

     The tall official pondered to himself. He wasn't prepared for open rebellion against the Terrans, but he also didn't care to sacrifice the tenuous peace he was building to political expediency in a far away and notoriously xenophobic court.
     "What do you make of this, Alex?" he asked.
     "Not much sir. There's really nothing in the report beyond the seizure itself and some probable ship IDs. Unless they were really paying attention to their EM and gravitics they may not have had any warning until the first coms came in and they popped up on visual. I doubt there was much time to react. I'm pretty impressed they got off what they did. Given everything I can't imagine the Terran intents are completely peaceful and above board. But what their aims and reasons might be . . . Your guess is as good as mine."
     After a brief pause he added "Hell, your guess is probably a lot better. Have we done anything since Project Iowa that would set the council off?"
     Commodus was honestly rather annoyed at the timing, but he tried not to let it show. "Clearly we have," he answered slowly and evenly. "Or they wouldn't be here. I have an idea, but I'd like to keep it close to my chest for now. I'll read you in later, Alex."
     With a nod, he dismissed the aide and turned to Camber. "Marcus, we have a problem. And we're going to need eyes and ears. Who do we have?"
     "That can operate in the south? Maybe the Duchess," he answered.
     "Can you get word to her? Call her in?" Commodus asked.
     "Not personally, no. But Rex-Avis might be able to."
     "Dear lord, I'm getting tired of this. Do we have to run all our ops through her?" Commodus let his cool demeanor slip a bit at this last part.
     Camber, who was personal friends with Colorado Rex-Avis thanks to his gibsonite ventures on Moab III, let the jab slide. "Well, she and Ursaline-Drakemore have built a hell of a network on their own dollar. We're deeply lucky she's on our side."
     "I begin to think de Bayamon and the Dragons answer more to her than to me!" Commodus huffed.
     "They're both on Moab, sir. While we're usually on Proserpine."
     Commodus had to grant that point. "Very well. Send word. And by the way . . . Thank you. And Rex-Avis. I'd appreciate a more redundant operational structure. I hate relying on a system so apparently susceptible to a single-point failure. But I am truly grateful for your help."
     Camber nodded at that. It was a small apology, but it was an apology. "Very good sir. By your leave . . . "
     Commodus waved him off and Camber hurried below to the code shack to make a secure transmission. Soon after Sergeant Maxim Wether was on a Logansport terrace opposite Sir Stanley Ursaline-Drakemore.

     Wether had arrived in Logansport in a great hurry. "Sir Stanley, I urgently need to speak with Rex-Avis."
     Sir Stanley replied calmly "I'm afraid she's out of the system at present."
     Wether looked a little surprised at this. "Oh?" he asked.
     "She got an invitation to observe a fleet exercise near Starship Rock," Sir Stanley answered. "Not the sort of thing you turn down. She's not expected back until next week."
     "Starship Rock is actually perfect. Commodus is hoping she can contact the Duchess," said Wether. "Do you have a secure line of communication with her? It's really quite pressing."
     "Of course," Stanley replied. "Follow me."

. . . . .

     Starship rock was three jumps and a good several parsecs distant, but the entangled particles of a secure waveless network made transmission nearly instantaneous, with the lag between repeaters being the only delay. Waveless required linked sets, and their use tended to produce localized high energy radiation that could be detected, but the sets were slowly catching on, making communication across galactic distances much simpler than it had been even just a few years ago.

     And in barely any time at all, Rex-Avis and the notorious Duchess of Pain Court were face to face in an abandoned section of the starport terminal.

     "Elaine," Colorado Rex-Avis began. "Thank you for coming."
     "It's no trouble at all. I owe you one for sorting things out with Commodus and Snakeskin. I really had no idea Penny was his daughter."
     "Water under the bridge," said Colorado. "And the official story was quite useful. I'd been trying to talk Commodus into peace for years, but without a lever he wasn't willing to go there."
     "Well," replied the self styled Duchess, "I'm glad it worked out. It really was not what I envisioned. And getting bested by a gob doesn't really help your reputation any."
     "Snakeskin is pretty special, even as gobblins go," Colorado replied. "Anyway, it was actually Commodus that wanted your help."
     "Oh really?" Elaine replied. "I'm just glad not to be rotting in jail. I'm really genuinely surprised he's willing to speak to me."
     "He's looking for a spy, not a friend."
     At this Elaine grew more visibly interested. "That is not at all what I expected."
     "There's a bunch of Terran warships gathering just south of the Rim," Colorado said.
     "I know," Elaine replied flatly.
     It was Colorado's turn to be caught flat footed. "How on earth would you have heard about that?"
     "They called me."
     "You can't be serious?" Colorado said, utterly shocked. "And who, precisely, are they?"
     "An inquisitor named Augustus. He wants me to pick him up and play nanny for him while he's on Moab looking into something or other."
     "Oh ho? Is that why they're here?" Colorado began to put the pieces together. Moab meant it was more likely related to Gordon Frei than Project Iowa. They really needed to slow the pace of diplomatic incidents. She was privately glad it wasn't Inquisitor Guimar this time. That man had been a complete boor. Though . . . this did mean the present fellow was more likely to be at least somewhat capable. Which would complicate matters.
     Colorado spoke again. "Commodus is hoping you can ingratiate yourself to the Terrans. Maybe pretend you're still on the outs with the local Spacing Guild, smuggling and tramping as you are able. Your network is . . . formidable. Especially in the French sector."
     Elaine could only agree with that. She nodded for Colorado to continue. "It's a pretty thin cover, really. But it sticks at least somewhat close to the truth, which makes it easier. And we're short on leads in that direction, and coming perilously close to conflict. It will be dangerous. Of course. You are welcome to use your judgment to feed them whatever information to which you are privy you feel is necessary to win their trust, just so long as it's short of causus belli."
     "I'll do what I can," Elaine answered. "I should get back to the Boudoir," she said, as she turned. "If I'm to pick this Terran monk-spy up I'll need to get back warpside chop chop."

. . . . .

     A few day's spacing later the Duchess of Pain Court and her Boudoir Noire were outside the Tartarus Gate meeting an imperial, by god, galleon. One of the big ones with the huge temples tacked on all antique style. A real first rate, by the look of it. Maybe even a bona-fide relic from the Terran Reconquista. (They kept ships that long, she'd heard. Maybe they'd plum forgotten how to build them and didn't care if hull plates rotted out from warp radiation. Or maybe they just plassed them over and pretended they were fine. Hell, maybe they really did make them better back then like the oldest spacers sometimes said. Though Elaine rather doubted the truth of that.) Anyway, there it was, right on time. Marked up with a big red V and a stripe. Probably squardon markings, she decided. One stripe for the commodore and two for the flag? Ah, who knew how the Terrans did things. Didn't really matter anyway. She wasn't fighting it, just meeting a launch to carry the contents a few jumps back into what passed for civilization so far north.

     And just like that Inquisitor Augustus and the Duchess were planetside in yet another bland pre-fab starport terminal. What was it the princess had said in the classic play? "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?" Yes. That was it. She'd had the chance to play that part when she was a girl on Vide Poche. Fun little roll for a ten year old girl. She smiled at the memory.
     "So Augustus," she said. "Where can I take you first? I love a good mystery novel and I hope you will let me help you solve yours."
     "That, madame, is precisely what I'm hoping. We have so few reliable contacts this far north. And his majesty, may he live ten thousand years, informs me you have a solid network. We can, of course, make the matter worth your while."

     "It will be my pleasure," Elaine smiled. It would, she realized. This should be the most exquisite fun.

. . . . .

Thank you dear readers for joining me on this adventure. It's shaping up to be a wild ride. Please do tune in next time for episode IV of the Sentinel Gate Affair: A Fine Day for a Parade.

The Composer

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Business is Picking Up

While much of the rest of the galaxy is under quarantine, thanks to the spread of some alien disease,
the Tartarus Rim has been relatively busy. Along with the usual stream of coreward tourists and itinerant workers seen at the shuttleport the infamous Duchess of Pain Court and her Boudoir Noire arrived from points unknown.


Meanwhile, business at Pie in the Sky remains steady as Longansport gears up for the district fair.

. . . . . . .

Stepping back from the table let me introduce the new arrivals. They're are a fun mixture of Colony 87 (now available from Crooked Dice), assorted oldhammer fan commissions, and Ramshackle's carnival barker from the pizza set Curtis Fell kindly sent out to his patrons. (Among whom I now count myself.)

Below are the first three of the rather extensive "third wave": the food vendor, the alien tourists, and the human pilot. I've really struggled with these. They look deceptively simple, but in reality the detail is incredibly fine, which makes them more of a challenge to paint. Break out the magnifying glass kiddos. In spite of all this, I love them and I'm glad to have them. Not much to say about the paint schemes here. I try to keep my NPCs varied. They are, after all, ordinary people from quite different backgrounds just out living their lives. While you might think I fell into a bit of a green and blue palette trap, I'm not too worried about it since the rest of the set has plenty of other hues already. (The blue for the pilot was a conscious decision, as my other two pilots are variously in khaki and green. I have a fourth I might paint in red and white.)

I've chosen to depict the food as sushi, which . . . seems not ideal. But hey, maybe that's a high tech tray. Hopefully it keeps it cold as the vendor walks his route and treats his customers to his favorite music.

The fan commissions are variously from Oldhammer in the New World and the Emporium of Rogue Dreams. "Psycho Sam", on the left, is by Mark Copplestone. "Max" and "Maddie," bracketing Mark Perry's legendary LE Chaos Amazon, are both by Drew Williams. Altogether, I think they make a fairly homogeneous and quite fantastic group, and I expect you will see more of them. Since they are supposed to be a gang I decided to go ahead and use that dreaded restricted palette. (Well, a little. I don't want to go too crazy.) I kept the colors mostly cooler, and leaned heavily on the black leather so prevalent in my memories of 80s glam punk and darker sci-fi. I did allow myself some "warm" colors as small touches here and there to break up the monotony. I am pretty darn happy with the overall effect.

Last but absolutely not least is our dimmunitive carnival barker by Curtis Fell of Ramshackle. I've chosen to give him a bright and eye catching outfit loosely based on Dick Van Dyke's Bert out of Mary Poppins. After all, he's trying to draw a crowd. Showmanship!

While not perfect, I'm reasonably pleased with the effect. He's colorful and eye catching and looks good at table distance.

Thank you for coming along for the ride. Hope to see you at the fair!

The Composer

Friday, May 1, 2020

Pie in the Sky

Pizza pie, that is. Among the assorted artists out there sculpting retro-chic miniatures right now is one Curtis Fell of Ramshackle Games. Of course, making a living sculpting things is always a challenge, so Curtis, like many artists, has set up a Patreon account. "Buy me a coffee" he says. Well . . . I did.

(It was the least I could do. He's shared his coffee with me in the actual factual. And I know how important coffee is.)

And in return he has sent his patrons (including yours truly) delicious looking resin pizza pie served up by a hulking giant of a fellow out of battered and ancient looking ovens that could have sailed on the Titanic.

So now there's pizza on the Tartarus Rim. The locals seem pretty eager to give it a try . . . as soon as they're allowed to take off their masks, that is. (Must be some kind of space bug going around.)

Happy Mayday everyone. And remember essential workers of the world; United we stand.

The Composer

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The (Old) Spice Must Flow!

There are few things in the world of Rogue Trader that elicit so much controversy as the "Deodorant Stick Skimmer," sometimes also called the "grav attack." Many of us love them as bone-fide sci-fi skullduggery from a day when there weren't too many commercial kits available. Others think . . . "Gee whiz, ma, that things probably got some smelly old hippy's pit vipers stuck in the pintle! And it still looks like a deodorant stick with toy guns!" Well, love 'em or hate 'em the Old Space Tanks are as Oldhammer as they come.

Of course I have a genuine old one painted in dodgy enamels when I was, oh, fourteen or fifteen. Who doesn't?

But I had this odd belief I could do things a bit better now. Not sure why, really. It doesn't always bear out, but . . . maybe sometimes. That said, a trip down memory lane is always worth the price of admission. So I gathered up an empty tube of the Old Spice, an assortment of bits, some toy guns, and a plastic spoon. I wanted to use this as something of a proxy for a Falcon, since my eldar are rather shy on support. One of these days I'll come into an era appropriate resin Falcon or two, but until then . . . 

The first part that really spoke to me was the shell from an automotive air freshener. It's got a nice swooshy feel to it that's just right for the space elves. And hey, that means a doubly deodorizing tank! The gun isn't anything particularly special. Just something off a friend's G. I. Joe toy I had lying around from some defunct 80s project. But it needed trimming to plausibly mate with a blister. I hacked it off at the most acute angle I could manage.

The air freshener, conveniently, comes apart into several equally interesting bits, so I'll save a couple for later.

With the spoon and air freshener shell glued to the deodorant tube a little spackle served to fill the gaps. I'll sand that down later and it'll work out nicely!

Add to this a few mysterious panels and the barrel and now we're getting somewhere!

Oh yes, and the pintle mounted laser is off a Zoid. (Even the rear portion, which was a gear from a Zoid motor.) Proper old school, that! Add some vents and a drop tank and now all that's needed is paint!

After a date in the painting bay The sweet smelling Falcon proxy comes out all primerized! And poses for a compare and contrast with the original skimmer. Maybe I'll take that old one and repaint it in eldar mercenary blue, since they do look suitably similar to be members of the same basic family of fighting vehicles. I can probably find a new pintle mount and a different driver. Not quite sure. It needs some love, but I haven't quite decided how to go about that yet.

At the end of the day we have a blue skimmer of questionable utility with some suitably alien looking lettering and sigils. (The characters are Georgian numerals, if you're curious. Used quite improperly. I think that says "one ten four," which I believe is actually nonsense, but hey, it looks okay. And we can pretend it's 104 in my decimal brain.)

Oh, one small aside: Jimmy got a light kit! You might recall I built a new utility truck out of some spare Ramshackle parts and assorted odds and ends. Well, I always thought it looked a bit odd without lights, but I hadn't been able to find something suitable. The lights below turned up in a scrounge through an old Revell Robotech Trigon kit I found lying about. I've used parts from it for decades, but I thought I had lost the bulk of it years ago. Turns out I was wrong! And the lights look nice if I do say so myself.

Anyway, thanks for following along on this little diversion. Hope to catch you next time.

The Composer

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Snakeskin and the Duchess

In the annals of the free goblin heroes of the Tartarus Rim none rise higher than Pliss Snakeskin.

His gang, the Veridian Boyz, are among the most renowned sneakers in the known galaxy, having quietly smuggled all manner of contraband and even people through their network of agents and unlisted shuttleports, extending to even some of the most secret facilities on the most heavily guarded planets. He himself can generally be recognized by his two most prized trophies: his eyepatch, won in a long ago fight with an orc who tried to enlist his involuntary assistance, and his lucky scarf, which the story says he found while escaping a prison on the old moon of Terra itself. As with all such rumors it is impossible to confirm it, but whatever the truth the original meaning of the design is long forgotten. For Snakeskin it apparently has a newer and more personal meaning: Freedom!

Perhaps his single most notorious exploit on the Rim involved rescuing Proconsul Christos Commodus from a carefully orchestrated kidnapping by none other than the notorious Duchess of Pain Court and her gang, the Boudoir Noir.

This event that was the single most key driver behind the current Treaty of Proserpine, which grants full rights to all goblinoid and orkoid inhabitants of the sector. (At least so long as the Terran Imperial Council remains unaware of this purely local situation.)

. . . . . . . 

This particular duo is of interest since the second provided me with the name and background for the first, thus linking the two of them together. The second, a limited edition Citadel Chaos Warrior, often cheekily referred to as the "Kinky Chaosette," was my first personality of 2020. I was struggling with how to paint her when a friend posted a picture of a bit of fan art to his facebook page: The Duke's Limousine out of Escape from New York. The things was, for reasons of finance, not actually shot in New York. Instead, my hometown provided the setting. Which of course endears it to me and virtually everyone else in my part of flyover country. With that car firmly in mind The Duchess was born.

(Incidentally, Pain Court was apparently once a nickname for the town, back in the very early days of French colonization. Before some other French colony asserted the trademark on the the nick. And you know what? Given what we're infamous for these days . . . I want it back!)

The preceding green fellow was actualy the penultimate miniature of 2019, and one about which I quite forgot. I think I might even have finished him in "Orktober," though don't quite me on that. He is, in point of fact, a Demonblade "Blood Claw Frother" originally released by Grenadier as a part of their K-Force range. I'd already painted the gobbo with the missile launcher out of the same pack, but what to do with the large headscarf? Of cousre! A 'Murican Flag! Why a goblin on the far reaches of space should have a U.S. flag unceremoniously draped about his noggin I didn't know, but . . . where there's a will the imagination writes a way. And really, what's more American than being rebellious and freedom loving, like our little green guy. He's an American knockoff on an Anglo classic, after all. (Which is itself a knockoff on an American knockoff on an Anglo knockoff on a bunch of Euro classics all wrapped up in a copy of the Sunday Times and served with a side of mixed pickle.) Ordinarily this much copying is supposed to lead to a grey sheet of paper, but maybe that theory isn't entirely correct. To paraphrase another son of St. Louis, ideas stolen from creations sufficiently diverse in time and culture can lead to a remarkably convincing simulacrum of greatness. (Maybe the only true genius that's out there.)

Anyway, both of these are pretty straightfoward builds. My paint slapped on someone else's sculpt. The only bit of deviousness was using a shield from the Bizaza Guard. The Duchess was supposed to have one of those generic plastic shields we all know and love. Strange as this may sound, I have so very very little fantasy in my leadpile that I have none. But I figure on converting the Bizaza gang over to outer space, so they didn't really need the shield especially. (I hope.) Eh, for better or worse . . . it's hers now!

Anyway, thank you for following along. Hope you enjoyed this little detour through the realms of imagination.

The Composer

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Farming the Final Frontier Part II: Pigs in Space!

. . . and goats, oxen, exotic foul, and a donkey.

It is sometimes said that diversity is the spice and the spice is the life. Even at the event horizon of cataclysm it pays to have more than one salable commodity. The original settlers of the Tartarus Rim long ago realized this truism and took efforts to diversify the local economy. In addition to the bovine noifen a number of other Terran and exotic species have been cultivated over the years.

Among the more prominent is the trusty pig. Compact, hardy, and delicious, pigs remain popular throughout human space, and particularly so in those areas heavily influenced by old Earth Asian cultures.

Another Terran transplant is the venerable goat. Independent animals requiring little tending make nearly optimal transplants in areas short on both advanced technology and skilled labor, thus goats can be found nearly everywhere along the Rim.

Somewhat less Terran is the local Tartaran "Bé Xanh" or "Blue Baby" hybrid of the Terran ox.

Exotic fauna have not escaped domestication. The Blanding Terror Bird, sometimes called Hell's Chicken, has become a profitable meat export. One world's monster becomes another's delicacy. Here we see both the Terror Birds and Noifen raised in the same enclosure. Thanks to their different ecological origins the two eat neither one another nor their opposite's feed.

Of course, all that livestock needs transportation, and local tramps are generally happy to provide it. Thus the ancient Terran two D program "Pigs in Space" comes to pass, albeit less happily for the pigs.

Hey, I never said the pigs were flying the spaceship! Like lambs to the slaughter we go.

As in every era, resource extraction has lead the way to the far edges of the settled universe. The "Final Frontier" would be less of a frontier without mining, ranching, and indeed farming.

. . . . .

Meanwhile behind the curtain:

Last summer at BOYL I finally came face to face with Foundry's products, and among other things they have quite a large line of assorted beasties, so I was able to add more diversity to my miniature ecosystem. For space livestock I picked up a good half dozen packs of miniatures; some  mundane, others fantastically monstrous. Below you can see about four packs worth getting the treatment: the "livestock" set and three "terror birds." These last come one to a pack, but there are three different poses. (Maybe more.) So the premium gets you some large and distinctive animals. In addition to these I also picked up the "wild pigs" who featured so prominently above.

There were quite a lot of other Foundry miniatures netted in the haul. Since I was already paying to ship myself I figured I'd make a proper adventure of it. But more on those later. For now, thanks for coming along on this little exploration of the Tartarus Rim. Hope to see you next time.

The Composer

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Farming the Final Frontier Part I: Blind Beggar Buffalo

Nothing says the edge of civilization quite like the fresh smell of non-human animals in close concentrations. And we all love seeing Mal avoiding the fertilizer aboard his spaceship turned cattle car. So the Tartarus Rim needed cattle. There are a number of makers that sell traditional human cattle, and I aim to add that to the mix as well, but heroic scaled space bison in the form of a herd of Blind Beggar's Noif seemed just the thing.

After all, I already had the Noif Hoider. ;-)

 (In the end, I think some of the People of the Sand make better herdsfolk, so they're who I'm actually using for the job, but Bobby, above, had that title when he was first released.) Anyway, back to the beasties . . .

The models themselves are mostly resin castings, but with metal heads. They're big and somewhat odd looking, and that works well with the heroic scale and sci-fi setting of my usual gaming. They suffer from the usual casting construction problems: be ready to use the greenstuff. But . . . that's literally every multi-part metal or resin casting I've ever worked with. Honestly, even the injection molded stuff benefits from careful work around the seams.

But it's not really too difficult to clean up a seam. And once they're painted up the seem pretty much disappears.

So there you have it: Noifs! Or Noifen? Is Noif its own plural? Ah, who knows. 

Just the same, glad to have you along for the ride. Please pardon the smell. You get used to it after a while. And watch where you step.

The Composer