Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Making a Prop Han Solo's DL-44 Blaster from a Cheap Toy

If you've been following, you know my wife is with the Aurora 88s Roller Derby team. Her derby name is Hannah Solo, so for this year's photo shoot, we thought it would only make sense if she was holding Solo's DL-44 Heavy Plaster Pistol.

The Base Model

A quick search on Amazon showed us this beauty:

Photo from Amazon

At the time it cost me under $10 US plus shipping. Interestingly, if you check the comments, it looks like the only people who buy it are doing so to turn them into props!

Prep Work

The next step was to find a bunch of reference photos. Here's some of the ones that I found:
Also, I need to point out that this video by HappyTrooper was very helpful for some of the prep work and a couple of techniques:

Watching that video, I learned that the muzzle end cap could be removed. So I did that and then drilled out the vent holes, starting with a pin vise bit to center each hole and worked progressively upward to an 1/8" bit with an electric drill:

Since I didn't want to bore out or rebuild the scope, I measured each end and had a friend 3D print a couple of scope bezels:

The rear bezel is 30mm O.D., 26mm I.D., and 2.5mm thick. The front bezel is 23.3mm O.D., 20.3mm I.D., and 3mm thick. Since the scope is superimposed on the muzzle, I had to cut it to fit. I also cut a couple of slots in it to match the real scope used.

After gluing on the bezels, scraping off manufacturer marks, filling screw holes and part lines, I sanded everything flush as needed:

The next step was to hit it with a coat of black primer:

You can see I also started masking off the grip.


Now to start weathering!

Since the original scope is made from brass—and if you've seen the new Solo movie, you can catch glimpses of gold—I decided to weather it with Privateer Press Formula P3 - Brass Balls:

Checking the reference photos, it appears the grip is made from a reddish wood. So I basecoated it in Reaper Master Series HD Paints - Sunburn Flesh (29821), painting in the direction of the "grain" and making sure a little bit of the black showed through. Then I painted on some additional grain lines with Reaper Master Series Paints - Mahogany Brown (09070):

It doesn't show it here, but now's the best time to describe it. I wanted to knock back those grain lines a bit and make the grip a bit redder, so I used the same Reaper Mahogany Brown and glazed it. Glazing is a fancy word for diluting the paint with water and brushing it on so it puts a transparent film over the other colors. In this case I diluted it 1:1 and did one pass. After that, I did a quick drybrush with a more yellowish brown, Reaper Master Series Paints - Harvest Brown (09200) to make it look a bit worn.

Next, I masked off everything but the muzzle. I wanted the muzzle to look like it had seen some heat and grime, so I used (and happened to have) three different metallic spray paints. First, I basecoated the muzzle in silver. While it was still damp, I then hit the rear parts with a warm bronze, then I touched up the fronts with some gunmetal. Lookin' sweet!:
My wife saw this step and said, "Neat! Carbon scoring!"

At this point, I sealed everything with Army Painter "Anti-Shine" Matte Varnish.

One of the things I caught in HappyTrooper's video was using graphite to give the prop a gunmetal look. I happened to have a jar of Secret Weapon Miniatures Metallic Iron pigment and gave that a try. On a whim, I put a nylon brush in my Dremel and gave it a gentle buffing. It turned out really great:

Unfortunately..... putting on a coat of Krylon satin enamel made the look disappear. Bummer.

Well, push forward on the weathering!

I am fortunate to still have a bottle of Citadel's old Mithril Silver and Chainmail acrylics. (If anybody has a good suggestion for replacing these in the future, hit the comments below!) Using these two, I carefully silvered the various edges, following the various reference photos.

At this point, I also dirtied up the grip and muzzle with some slightly thinned Reaper Master Series Paints - Pure Black (09037) acrylic, mashed it in to the nooks and crannies, and wiped much of it off with a paper towel:

One more coat of Krylon satin enamel and we're almost done.

Since I wanted the scope to look like glass, I stood the prop on end, poured a couple of drops of Vallejo Game Varnish - Gloss (72072), and let it sit overnight:

You may have noticed the crosshairs... Before I glued on the bezel, I scribed the crosshairs in with a dental pick. Before I glossed it over, I painted the lines in with Reaper Master Series Paints - Pure White (09030) acrylic, then followed that with a Delta Ceramcoat neon green.

Since I wanted to get the feel of different materials, I decided to use a couple of different finishes. First sprayed the muzzle matte again, adding a quick pass across the grips to flatten them down a bit too. I also sprayed the scope satin a second time to kick up the sheen. Then I touched up the rest with Vallejo clear varnishes—a less satiny body, the matte mounting bracket, etc.

The Finished Product!

That silver medallion took way to long to get the brushed steel look, and you can't even see it in this photo!

Hannah's pretty happy with the way it turned out!:

Photo by Cloud Photo

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"I want a HORROR chainsaw!"

My wife is currently a member of the Aurora 88s Roller Derby team. Every year, they have a "FunD Skate" in which they do raffles, a silent auction, and other activities in order to generate some funds for the coming year. The silent auction is usually a series of themed gift baskets. This year the auction included a "Horror Basket". She hands me a plastic chainsaw Christmas ornament she picked up sometime during the holidays and says, "Could you paint this like a horror chainsaw?"

This is what she handed me:
As I'm writing this, you can still get them on eBay from this seller.

"Sure! I'll knock that out in no time."

I scraped off the silver glitter, masked it off leaving just the blade, hit it with a couple of passes of silver Krylon spray paint, and painted some blood effects on it with some red ink mixed with gloss medium. Done! Easy-peasy!

Done! Easy-peasy!
I hand it back to her, and she says, "That's nice... but I was hoping for more guts hanging off the blade and stuff. I want a horror chainsaw."

"Sure, I can use some glue to build it up some..."

"I know what you're capable of! I want a HORROR chainsaw!"

I don't watch a lot of horror flicks, so I'm missing something. "Um..."

"Like the chainsaw from 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'..."

Those were the magic words I needed to hear. A quick Google search produces THIS IMAGE.

Now I know what I'm aiming for!

I head back to my cave and get back to work:
  • Scraped off the remaining glitter. (This should have been a clue...)
  • Found an old can of gunmetal colored spray paint and painted the whole thing, wiping off some of the fresh paint to reveal the orange plastic below.
  • Painted the handles with flat black enamel paint.
  • Tore thin strips of duct tape and wrapped parts of the handles.
  • Weathered the whole thing with diluted black enamel and acrylic paints.
  • Made the gore texture with 5-minute epoxy, very thin strips of plastic bag from a dry cleaner (for translucent stringy stuff), and a tiny bit of Secret Weapon Rust Red pigment.
That got me to here:

A couple more rounds of "gore mix" and a couple of passes of the red ink and gloss medium, and voila!

This made her much happier!

And we'd like to think the winning bidder is happy with the result as well!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cyberpunk Random Loot Cards

What's In Their Pocketses...?

Recently, I picked up Paul D Gallagher's Augmented Reality (Blog, PDF,  Dead Tree). It's a fantastic resource for a generating a living city in your cyberpunk campaign.

Inspired by Paul's "What's on the Corpse?" table and thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I decided to resurrect my Random Loot page, circa 2001.

What you'll see below is a slightly edited version; updated for clarity, more contemporary cyberpunk genres, and to be more system agnostic.

In case you can't obtain the cards I reference below, I've found 30mil blank white PVC CR80 ID cards on Amazon (they also make phenomenal Aspect cards for Fate games!). You can also get 30mil ID cards in various colors!

Random Loot

If you've ever had a problem with coming up with personal items and things your characters find on victims' bodies, what follows is an interesting and fun solution.

See, when we get a new player in the game, I just throw the character into New Tokyo and have them fend for themselves. Unfortunately, more often than not, the character ends up killing random street thugs and looting the bodies to come up with some creds. I got tired of having to come up with personal items every time they asked, "so, what do I find on the body?"

I also have a problem with spending money at a particular adult video arcade/bar & grill.

So I came up with something that solves both of those problems. This "barcade" tries to soothe you as you walk through the door by handing you a complimentary game card (worth approximately 1.7 games...) Last time I was there with one of my players, we burned up the complimentary card in about 2 seconds flat. Jason bent his card in half to keep them from recycling it. He asked me what I was going to do with mine. I told him I'd find a use for it in Cyberpunk or something. He looked at me with this big grin and exclaimed, "CredSticks!" Next thing I know, he's bopping around the place looking for used cards left on tables. Eventually, he asked one of the managers what they do with the cards. The manager told him they just pitched 'em. So Jason asked if we could collect them (GOOD IDEA - ask before collecting). As an added bonus, every time the manager passed our table, he dropped off a handful of the used cards he found. By the time we left, we had over 40 cards in different colors.

So what's this got to do with anything? Well, I made up a list of, "things in your pocket for 500cr., Alex", including some useless items, printed them out on stickers, and stuck them on the cards. The more expensive, uncommon, or "elite" items I put on the green and blue cards, since I only had six of them. As an added bonus, the cards look cool with the caution stripes.

My favorite card - just because it looks funny.
So..... next time one of the characters pickpockets, mugs, or loots somebody, I have them randomly pick a few red cards. Usually 1d6 cards. If the poor victim is "well-to-do", I shuffle in the blue and green cards (shuffling the cards aint easy!).

Here's the list I came up with:
(Credits values are low because the player can pick more than one card.)

  • 2 Credits
  • 3 Credits
  • 4 Credits
  • 5 Credits
  • 6 Credits
  • 7 Credits
  • 8 credits
  • 9 Credits
  • 10 credits
  • 2 Drug Capsules (Random street drug)
  • 2 Maglev Tokens
  • 2 12 ga. Shotgun Shells
  • 3 Bus Tokens
  • 3 Subway Tokens
  • 5 Empty 9mm Casings
  • Aspertabs (1d20 in the bottle)
  • 5.7mm Backup Pistol
  • Cheap Plastic Vending Machine Pistol
  • Baseball Cap (With "All Saints Auto Repair" or other auto shop printed on it)
  • Bit of Wire
  • Music Chip (Some band one of PCs hates)
  • Burner Phone (Currently locked)
  • Cheap Digital Watch
  • Cheap Gold Chain or Earrings
  • CredStick (Locked)
  • Data Chip
  • Digital Cab Hailer
  • Disposable Lighter (d100% full)
  • Disposable Pocket Flashlight (d100% battery life)
  • Squeeze Tube of Nutritional Paste (1 meal)
  • Generic Pack of Smokes (1d20 cigarettes remaining)
  • Green Glowstick (25% chance of being spent)
  • Leather Belt
  • Loose Key
  • MirrorShades
  • Nice Pen
  • Nice Watch
  • Old Screamsheet
  • Pack of Caffeine Gum (1d8 sticks remaining)
  • Pack of Gum (1d8 sticks remaining)
  • Pager
  • Pendant
  • Phone Number scrawled on a scrap of paper.
  • Pocket Lint
  • Pocket Tool (Knife, Wrench, Screwdriver, etc.)
  • Cheap Tablet (Map of New Tokyo is loaded)
  • SkillSoft (Level 1 - Roll one randomly from skillchip table)
  • Small Flick-Knife (7.5 cm. (3") long)
  • Small Polished Stone
  • Ticket Stub
  • Emergency Evacuation Contract Card (10% chance accidentally broken while retrieving it)
  • Used Breathing Mask
  • Used Syringe (10% chance of getting poked while retrieving it)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"The Flute" - A Map for Ellomyr's Story in Numenera 2

If you're a fan of Monte Cook Games' Numenera, then you know they are Kickstarting Numenera 2—essentially a revision with new content and exploration of the future of the Ninth World. As part of the Kickstarter campaign, they have asked backers to contribute to story of the town of Ellomyr. When the campaign is over, some of the content generated will be compiled into a sourcebook called The Trilling Shard.

I've backed the Kickstarter and was tossing around ideas I could contribute. Wow, is the Numenera community active! Huge chunks of story have come and gone. I can't keep up with it! However, as I was mulling things around, I decided something static like a location might be useful. An image started to form, and I ended up sketching a map of a fragment of the Valley of Sins, another locale that was introduced as part of the story.

After some refinements and a pass through Photoshop, I give you, "The Flute":

Scroll brought back from the Valley of Sins,
possibly stained by the mysterious "Blue Mist".

At one end of the valley of sins, whatever ancient force gouged out the valley also cut through a long-buried structure, revealing several holes in the valley walls. At one corner of the structure, a steep spiral stalagmite rises up several tens of meters and exits a hole in the roof of its chamber. On windy days, the entire structure sings a haunting note. Local children brave enough to enter even this far have discovered that, by standing in front of certain holes or placing sheets of wood or synth over them, they can change the tone. Over the years, some people have reported that, every once in a while, the hills will sing out a deep and unsettling note—eerily similar to a war horn.
An interesting side effect of the structure is that the wind will collect and deposit various bits and pieces of drit here. Glow globes, broken carts, even a bipedal automaton have been found in the collected rubbish.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

My One Page Dungeon Contest 2017 Entry

So, thanks to Twitter, I discovered this little thing called the One Page Dungeon Contest. This literally* got the wheels turning in my head and I had to put the wheels on paper. Three days later, that concept of a dungeon made up of five rotating intersecting chambers became my first-ever entry.

Here's the sales pitch: "Who would have need of such a brutal shifting thing? A trial by fire! And ice. And earth. And water... There's no going back—only forward!"

Since some GMs may want to print out the map for clarity or to actually cut out the pieces and rotate them in real space, I've included it here in 300 DPI - including a COLOR version!

The folks at the One Page Dungeon Contest also kindly posted an update in their blog.

*Literal, as in I saw them in my mind's eye. Not physical wheels inside my skull.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Tokyo Screamsheets

Back in 2001, I was running a Cyberpunk campaign using a homebrew ruleset based on Top Secret/S.I. At the time (when I had more time), I was chronicling the campaign on a now-defunct website. I was also producing semi-regular newsletters for the campaign I called New Tokyo Screamsheets.

These Screamsheets contained things like discussions of technology, legality of weapons, and story seeds; along with your standard smattering of weather reports (and the birth of Air Advisory Guy), classified ads, obituaries, network programming schedules, police blotters, Body Lotto numbers, advertisements, etc. Some of the articles were fictional snippets borrowed from other fictional sources. To make it personal to the players, I would usually do a "front page" article on one of their latest exploits and possibly have NPCs communicate with them through the want ads—and they would communicate back!

Recently, I was able to find the source files and PDFs for the New Tokyo Screamsheets and decided to post them. Here they are with a couple of hints as to what you'll find inside:

Special thanks to Deric Bernier of Datafortress 2020 for hanging on to the old New Tokyo Screamsheets in his Cyberpunk Archive—stumbling upon them recently made me want to post my originals.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The ORIGINAL Oil Rig Mission - 2001

Since Pete and I are revisiting the Oil Rig Project, I felt it was important to re-post the mission that inspired the project.

Back in 2001, I was running a Cyberpunk campaign using a homebrew ruleset based on Top Secret/S.I. At the time (when I had more time), I was chronicling the campaign on a now-defunct website. Fortunately, thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, parts of that website still exist, so I can resurrect them here.

Now that I am currently running an Interface Zero 2.0 campaign, you might see some more pages from the old site be resurrected...

Contract Intel:
The PCs go to their fixer's place and get a quiet room where they negotiate a deal to infiltrate an Oil Rig, retrive a data file, and leave the rig. Each team member gets 3000cr retainer for supplies, a total of 5000cr for securing the rig, and a total of 10,000 for a recovered data file.

Data about the rig:

Manufacturer:  Erdel Type J-3 Rotary Drilling Rig
                        Manufacturer based out of Houston, Texas
                        Now defunct

Current Owner: unknown

Location:      Approx. sight distance from New Tokyo bay

# of Crew:     Support for 38
                     The previous owner had approx. 12 when he lost possession of the rig.

Communication: No land lines
                           Possible satellite uplink

Location of Data File: unknown

Type of data: Entire database

Computer System: unknown, possibly UNIX-based

The Actual Mission
This mission was set up as a "test" mission for a higher-end employer. The employer is basically just pitting two mercenary teams against each other. One team defends the rig, the other assaults it. The team that survives wins future contracts. It doesn't matter which team attacks and which defends, I just chose to have the PCs attack. I figured it would be more interesting and I had a decent "contract" idea that involved all the players.

The oil rig has been derelict for at least 15 years, probably more. With the development of CHOOH2, drilling for oil became more expensive. This particular rig made several taps with minimal result. It became more cost effective to leave it where it sat at the last tap, than to pull up shop, weatherize it, and dry-dock it. So, questionable elements set up shop in it soon after it was abandoned.

Their usual contact informed them that the rig was in his parent organization's possession and was recently raided, overrun, and occupied by an opposing organization's mercenary team. Normally, blowing it out of the water would be the order of the day, but when it was previously owned, they used it as a waypoint for illegal contraband, and all their shipping records were stored in the rig's local database. The PC mercenary team's primary objective is to secure the entire database. A secondary objective is to recapture the rig, if possible. The payoff is 10,000cr per person for the database intact. If no database, then 5,000cr per person for the rig. Not to exceed 10,000 per person. 3,000cr in advance are provided for expenses. Unregistered weapons and small equipment provided up front, with understanding that the weapons will be returned upon completion.

If the players asked, their contact was only able to provide them with a mangy copy of the emergency exit floorplan of the sub-deck.

Oil Rig Emergency Exits: OilRigEmergencyPlan.gif missing. I hope to find it someday...

If they pried some more, their contact informed them that his organization had previously set up IR motion detectors, but they may or may not still be functioning. He was able to provide approximate locations of some of them.

Oil Rig Recon: OilRigDeck.gif missing. I hope to find it someday...

The above map also shows the observed sentry locations when the PCs did some preliminary recon.

It took me a while to put together a working map of the oil rig. I found a gem of a website at (NOTE: This link goes to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine as the original link no longer exists). The guy who put it together did a great job of explaining, simply, the regular goings on on a "jackup" oil rig, including plenty of photos. Thing to note: a jackup rig is really a big ship that has three huge extendible legs. It is towed to it's next drilling location and then it jacks itself up about 100-150 feet above the ocean and begins drilling. I highly recommend reading it and passing on the address to your more ambitious players.

Oil Rig Layout
The detcord on the dock level is of a blue plastic variety. It is wrapped many times around the support legs, just above sea level and, upon casual inspection, just looks like water-level paint markings.

The generic explosive in the survival capsule off of the control room is a bundle of pipe bombs with a mercury switch to prevent them from being moved.

The shaped charges are pre-manufactured and look like small inverted plates. One is intended to discourage helicopter landings, the other two are placed behind the diesel fuel tanks to engulf the main deck if necessary.

All explosives have been modified to accommodate a small black box with a red numeric LED display, and a short rubber antenna. This box is a remote receiver controlled either by the com officer through the control room computers or the demolitions expert with a small handheld controller. The com officer can only start the 5 minute timer or detonate the explosives. Only the demolitions expert can shut them off (he can also start the timers or detonate).

The infrared motion detectors are simple. They have a 90 degree field of detection (indicated by the legs on the symbol on the map), can easily be defeated by an IR suit, and have no operational feedback loop (no on/off indicator). If tripped, they will trigger a simple alarm heard throughout the rig.

There is a small data hutch on the main deck that has two log files in an antiquated VAX system.

They are left over from when the rig actually served it's purpose, and will only slow the players down if they try to get the VAX up and running and try to interface with it to get the files.

The operations database in the control room is bogus. Even so, by the time the players get to it, it should be pretty well jibberish due to the virus the com officer puts on it.

All opposing units are equipped with a NeuroProcessor, SmartGun Link, SpeedWires, a com link, medium body armor, a 10mm Glock, a SmartGun Linked 9mm H&K MP5, and a combat knife and have above average skills to use them.
  1. Commander - Begins in the control room
    Extremely strong with other attributes at the high end.
    Martial Arts, Swimming, Stealth.
    Husky, clean, and commanding.
  2. Sniper - Begins on the monkey board of the derrick
    Above average strength with other attributes at the high end.
    Martial Arts, Sniper Rifle, Swimming, Stealth, Concealment.
    7.62mm H&K G3SG1 Sniper Rifle instead of the MP5.
    Big, relaxed.
  3. Com Officer - Begins in the control room
    Very high intelligence with other attributes above average.
    Martial Arts, Swimming, Stealth, Radio Operator, Interface.
    Combat CyberDeck and CyberDeck Link.
    Thin, sure of himself.
  4. Pilot - Begins sleeping in the crews' quarters
    Above average strength with other attributes at the high end.
    Martial Arts, Swimming, Stealth, Piloting most transportation forms.
    Vehicle Link and Chip Jack.
    Big, cocky.
  5. Demolitions Expert - Begins having a snack in the kitchen
    All attributes above average to high end.
    Boxing, Swimming, Stealth, Concealment, Demolitions.
    Short, bulky, grouchy.
  6. Underwater Ops - Begins in the starboard crane cab
    All attributes above average to high end.
    Martial Arts, Swimming, Stealth, Concealment.
    4-shot speargun, armored wetsuit instead of body armor.
    Skinny, quiet.
If motion detectors go off:
  • alarm will sound
  • 4 and 5 will wake up and get to the upper deck
  • 1 will order to attack
If intruders spotted:
  • observer will call into 3
  • 3 will alert the others
  • 1 will order to watch then attack if needed
On first attack:
  • 1 will coordinate
  • 3 will jack in, monitor motion sensors, cameras, and explosives
  • 6 will dive overboard, disable any intruding craft, and prep the escape boats
If control room computers are hacked:
  • 3 will fight via software
    If defeated:
    • will initiate a virus to destroy the data
      If virus defeated:
      • will detonate the terminals
      • will set all other explosive timers for 5 minutes
If overpowered:
  • will try to escape by diving overboard
  • will get into the escape boats
  • will detonate the oil rig remotely

The Outcome
At the time, I was also producing semi-regular newsletters for the campaign I called New Tokyo Screamsheets. This was the report in the Screamsheet issue that followed that game:

Early this morning, emergency officials were notified of several explosions and fire spotted just above the horizon over the ocean. Preliminary investigation revealed that the fire is located on a derelict oil rig miles offshore. Witnesses report that there was an initial fiery explosion followed by several smaller ones.
The cause of the blaze is not known at this time.