Friday, March 29, 2013

Lead Painter League 7

One of my favorite forums is Lead Adventure, which while somewhat specialized in Pulp/Back of Beyond/Swashbuckling, has a level of project excellence amongst its membership which is unequaled, and for that reason alone is worth visiting.  One of the delightful aspects of the site, is that it runs a contest called "Lead Painter League" where the weekly regiment/team/squad entries of painters complete against one another for 10 rounds, and points are accrued to generate an overall winner (paint off in event of a score tie).  Rules for Season Seven have just been released here.  (Season 6 entries are here, for reference)

This year's round bonus points are for a Command Team (round one), Civil War (historical, round 5), and Sci Fi (round 10).

Here are some thoughts on how to win, or at least do well in the competition by Captain Blood, multiple winner of the LPL and clearly excellent painter (or is he just trying to throw readers off the game?).

While painting 50+ figures during the duration of the League would be pretty heroic for me (in stark comparison to my anemic output these last few years), it would also decrease the ol'lead/plastic pile a bit...  something to ponder.

So get painting!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rationality in the year 40,000

There has been some discussion lately on Ammobunker about the nature of "civilians" in the 40k universe, inspired by Exokan's WIP civilian figures.  Some argued that there are no civilians in the traditional sense in the far off year of 40,000, and that all are subsumed into guilds and factories to the extent that all form a part of the military machine.  Others point to the irrationality of having a workforce comprised of workers dedicated to mindless task repetition, and how this does not allow for population growth or change, even with the constraints of a universe at constant total war.

In short, is a hive populated by generational guilds of skull-faced-lion-maned-mono-task-drill-armed-stiletto-heeled maniacs, or is it populated by sober serfs who work very hard for little reward, but are otherwise fairly familiar members of humanity?

Here is a quote from Thistle, who has an official and public hand in the look and development of 40k: ...they cannot be considered civilians - the very term itself is something i would not weave into the 40k canon a bit like money or latin they just do not exist in the far flung future... [sic]  Civilians as we conceive of it do not exist, just like money [!] seems a bit much for me.

Here is an opposing quote from MarcoSkoll: And, I feel that even as dsytopian as the setting might be, the fact it has sustained itself for the last ten thousand years must mean that huge swathes of its population remain capable of reproduction and parenting.
As delightfully morbid as a butcher with huge hydraulic cleaver for his arm might be, grafting the entire labour force to their tools does mean they're going to find themselves somewhat limited in their ability to raise children. 
Seems more on the money, where the strange and colorful aspects of the universe are in fact strange and colorful because the rest of the universe is more mundane, and rational.
Rationality in the blurb-official 40k has always been lacking, as when it is mentioned that the Adeptus Mechanicus and similar only can run and produce machines with the appropriate blessings for the machine spirit, sacred oils, and so on, while at the same time we have hive worlds with populations in the billions, toiling in factories uncountable, which would mean that either every factory has thousands of Tech Priests, and production is staggeringly inefficient, or that in fact machine worship is just a surface gloss, and that workers toiling at machine tools uncounted produce weapons and goods without necessitating any intervention by holy water sprinklers.   Priests of Mars has characters impressed into service on the Techno-Ark as plasma engine serfs, slaving away at cleaning plasma chambers, even unto death, but even those were impressed into service from a world where they worked for wages at normal (if difficult) jobs.

Irrational repetition of tasks also produces non-rational actors, which means that you can not create an effective population of officers, engineers, supervisors, and (importantly) Inquisitors from it.  As these are demonstrably a part of the 40k universe, they must therefore be produced by rational means from rational people, so there must exist at least a portion of the population which is not given over to unthinking total military production.

Another way to look at this question is total number of military effectives of a population.  We could look at the historical example of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, which had a population of approximately 140 million, and 34 million under arms during that period. (~24%).  If one reduces that number slightly to account for the fact that such a high number under arms and so many killed during the war caused a post war population crash, and that the Western Allies produced some of the material used by the Soviet war machine, you could say that 20% of a population under arms is close to a sustainable maximum. So indeed, there must be civilians in the other 80%, as they could not all be children.

Recent works by Dan Abnett in particular, and the Black Library novelists in general, paint a universe where war is constant, but not ever present, as there are sectors where life is, for want of a better word, normal, and there are battle lines, well away from the day to day life of most of the population. Indeed, Ravnor, Eisenhorn, and Gaunt confront the difficulties of the imperial bureaucracy, guilds, and, but still see civilians and humanity as separate from the war machine, and civilians as separate from their jobs.

So just how rational is that far off year where there is only war?  I suggest to you that the rationality of that distant time is alive and well, despite and perhaps because of the irrational times in which humanity lives.  While irrational elements persist, they are a coloration on the drab grey workaday world of the rest of humanity.  Our aforementioned augmented guild worker is part of the reality of the world, but there are masses of rational (but constrained) civilians to support them in their work, by undertaking the less specialized and standard tasks of existence.

Anyway, provided you made it through this, what do you think?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Priests of Mars

I just finished reading the relatively new book Priests of Mars by Graham McNeill.   Published July of 2012, This book is about an explorator fleet of the Adeptus Mechanicus, which is going to go beyond the "Halo Scar" in search of similar fleet that was lost long ago.  The object of the original fleet was to find various artifacts of the Golden Age of humanity, which supposedly have the power to terraform dead worlds, drain stars for power, and so on.  Various parties are connected to this search, such as a Cadian regiment, Titans, Black Templars, and a Rogue Trader.  They are opposed in their quest by a shipful of Eldar, and various elements from within the Mechanicus itself.

The really interesting part of this book for me was the variety of Tech Priests and Magos on parade.  You have "brain in many separate jars" guy, and "body given over to combat" guy, and a few recognizably female members too, which is in and of itself interesting as well. This sort of description is useful beyond the confines of this story for those of you interested in making Adeptus Mechanicus armies, or INQ28 skirmish bands.  It also reminds you how being press ganged as a serf on a ship would not be the life of adventure that you might expect.

Unfortunately, just as the action is really getting started, the book ends, so one has to wait for the sequel to get anywhere in this story.  (the story ends with a few cliff hanger elements as well)  Fortunately for me, I got this book from the local library, so did not have to pay $25 for what is ultimately only part of a story. Recommend that you wait for the inevitable omnibus edition, unless you need to read about the various morphology of the Tech Priests.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Inquisitor d1000 Part 6 - Equipment

Here is a d200 table of Equipment as part of the d1000 inquisitor attributes project. Go back and read that post if you want to know what this is about.

I tried to think of mostly smaller items that an Inquisitor would have in his/her pocket, on a belt hook, or similar, rather than larger items.  Larger items, like heavier weapons, are carried by subordinates, that is part of their job. (aside from acting as meat shields when needed).

Roll Equipment
1 Abacus
2 Adamantium Manacles
3 Adhesive tape
4 Anywhere ink pen
5 Aqua breather
6 Astartes Power Armor finger
7 Auspex
8 Baklava
9 Bacon Butty
10 bag of ball bearings
11 Bag of Jelly babies
12 Bag of sweets (d10)
13 Balance scales
14 Bang putty and igniter
15 Baton (d4 wood/brass/lead/Ceramite)
16 Binders, plastic
17 Binoculars, electro
18 Binoculars, pocket
19 Bio Spoor collection kit
20 Blessed machine unguents
21 Blessed purity seals
22 Blessed water, vial
23 Book of vile things (d3 chaos/pornographic/anti-religious)
24 bottle of hot sauce
25 Bottle of rotgut in paper bag
26 Brass chased knuckles
27 caltrops (d6)
28 Candles, light (d6)
29 Candles, religious (d12)
30 Cane, fancy
31 Canine whistle
32 Canister of snuff
33 Chalk
34 Change of clothes
35 Collapsing quarterstaff
36 Colostomy bag
37 Combat drugs (d2 uses)
38 Concentrated ration pills (d6 meal equivalents)
39 Conversion Field Generator, Rosarius (d6 charges)
40 Credit stick (d1000 Thrones)
41 Curiously carved horn
42 Data key
43 Data slate
44 Day old news printout
45 Deck of cards
46 Deck of Emperor's Tarot
47 Decoder ring
48 Dehydrated water flask
49 Dialect phrase book
50 Dice, obscure
51 Dice, standard
52 Disguise kit
53 Displacer field generator, amulet (d3 charges)
54 Doll, child's
55 Dust mask
56 Earplugs
57 Elbow length impermeable gloves
58 Electro Lantern (d100 hours)
59 Emperor's Tears, vial
60 Encrypter/Decrypter, electronic
61 Enhanced interrogation tool kit
62 Field shave kit
63 Fingernail paint
64 Fire starter
65 First aid kit
66 fishing hooks and line
67 Flare (d6x10 minute duration)
68 Flute
69 folding pocket fan, lacquered
70 Folding razor blade
71 Gag
72 Gas mask
73 Glass cutter
74 Gloves, fancy
75 Grav Chute, One use
76 Hand cogitator
77 Hand lux (d20 hours)
78 Hand puppet
79 Hand bell, middle C
80 Handcuffs
81 Handful of teeth
82 Headband mounted lux (d10 hours)
83 Hearing Enhancing earplugs
84 High strength cord, 20m
85 Holo field generator, eldar (d20 charges)
86 Hunting Horn
87 Ident card(s) (d6)
88 Ink Cartridge quill and paper
89 Knockout Gas Grenades (d3)
90 Las pointer, green
91 Leash (animal/psyker)
92 Letter Seal and sealing wax
93 Lighter
94 Lo sticks (d20 remaining)
95 Local Patrolman's Badge (not yours)
96 Lock pick set
97 Lock pick, automatic
98 Lock pick, electronic
99 Loud Hailer
100 Lucky Lagomorf's foot
101 Machine spirit pleasing incense
102 Magnifying ocular array
103 Makeup kit
104 Man grabber
105 Maps, Local continental
106 Maps, local street
107 Measuring tape
108 Mechanical Hand Calculator
109 Microbead transmitter/receiver
110 Monomolecular wire
111 Mono-scope
112 Moving pictogram maker
113 Multi fitting pocket power unit (d6 charges)
114 Music player, pocket
115 Noise maker
116 Noospheric identifier
117 Obscura (d4 preloaded pipes)
118 Orbital Range Pocket vox
119 Obscuring hood
120 Oxygen mask
121 Pad of Ether
122 Pain killer pills (d50)
123 Pendant electro lux (d20 hours)
124 Perfume, vial
125 Pict (d6 family/friend/enemy/yourself/target/canine)
126 Pictogram maker, pocket
127 Pocket Chron, multimode
128 Pocket electro stunner (d6 uses)
129 Pocket Emperor Triptych
130 Pocket endoscope
131 Pocket flask (d4 Amsec/rotgut/water/Caff)
132 pocket heater
133 Pocket knife
134 Pocket multi tool
135 Pocket notebook
136 Pocket Reference Guide
137 Pocket saint fetish
138 Police whistle
139 Prayer book, pocket
140 Prophylactics (d10)
141 Psyker limiter
142 Psyk-out grenade
143 Purse full of small change (d100 Thrones worth)
144 Purse full of small change, local currency
145 Rad grenade
146 Rat, Live
147 Ration pack (d4 meals)
148 Refractor Field Generator, Gorget (d12 charges)
149 Regency board and pieces
150 Rope (d3 plant fiber/synthetic fiber/metal)
151 Rosette (not yours)
152 Saint's bones (real)
153 Screw driver set
154 Servo Skull Controller
155 Servo Skull, assistant
156 Servo Skull, defender
157 Servo Skull, hunter
158 Servo Skull, scout
159 Sewing kit
160 Shock Collar
161 Shock Pole (d6 charges)
162 Signet Ring (d3 yours/Overlords/Not yours)
163 Skeleton Key set
164 Sketch book
165 Skinning knife
166 Small rubber ball, red
167 Smoke bombs (d6)
168 Smoked Glass lenses
169 Sonic Spanner
170 Splicer's kit
171 Stealth Field Generator, Tau
172 Stim Injector (d4 uses)
173 Stun grenades (d3)
174 Tabac pouch (d6 pipes full)
175 Teleport beacon
176 Throwing Knife, pocket (d6)
177 Tin of preserved Ichthyoid flesh
178 Towel
179 Tourniquet
180 Vial of blood (not yours)
181 Void scope
182 Vortex Grenade
183 Vox Caller, local
184 Vox Direction Finder
185 Vox Jammer
186 Vox receiver
187 Vox recorder, pocket (d10 hours capacity)
188 Vox scanner, multi band
189 Vox scrambler
190 Vox Thief
191 Walking stick
192 Whetstone
193 Whip
194 Windup toy titan
195 Wire Garrote
196 Wire Saw
197 Wire, small gauge, d100 m
198 Wraithbone Flute
199 Wraithbone signifier
200 Wrist Chron, dual dial

Anyway, there we have 200 items that an Inquisitor might carry.  Let me know what you think.