Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Zhodani Are Coming! The Zhodani Are Coming!

One of my great pleasures, as a blogger, is in reading the blogs of other old-schoolers. Even when we don't agree with each other, there are pearls of wisdom to be gleaned from what those other bloggers are saying and playing. I don't get to comment on as many of your posts as I would like (real-world responsibilities intrude, unfortunately) but I do spend several hours a week catching up on what people are doing and saying.

In addition to reading the blogs of my current blog-roll, I sometimes discover a new blogger, quite by accident, while looking for the answer to some arcane RPG question. Other times, a blogger will comment on one of my posts, or will start publicly following my blog. In those instances, I will "check them out", and that almost invariably leads to them being added to my blog-roll.

There was some recent unpleasantness in the blogosphere, about old-school bloggers being an insular and elitist lot. While I don't believe that to be the case, any one of us could, on occasion, come across that way. For what it's worth, i'm a populist, not an elitist: I want to see more bloggers talking about OS games, not fewer.

I say this as preface to a recent (reverse) discovery. Trev of The Bits Box started following my blog. Trev has been posting regarding the Zhodani, a topic close to my heart. The Zhodani was one of my favorite Traveller aliens: human, yet so alien to their Vilani and Solomani cousins. Mostly though, I just loved their clamshell helmets, turbaned nobility, and organic looking spaceship designs. Trev has painted up some 15mm miniatures to resemble the troops, robots and grav tanks of a Zhodani strike force.

Almost makes me want to go buy the original Striker rules and play some tabletop Traveller battles.


Robert Saint John said...

"Almost makes me want to go buy the original Striker rules and play some tabletop Traveller battles."

This is what I've been doing lately! Why am I having more fun with this now than I did back in the day? :) Although I think I'm going to try to find some less cumbersome than Striker.

Aaron E. Steele said...

I remember Striker being rather math-heavy, even though I had a great time designing my vehicles. What's the alternative? WH40k? Are there other rule-sets out there that do a better job with science fiction table-top battles?

BTW, where have you been hiding out? I've visited your blog several times, wondering if you are still active in the blogosphere...

Robert Saint John said...

There are a few alternatives like the old Laserburn and StarGrunt II rules, and this weekend I was looking over the old system that was linked to Space Opera, "Space Marines". I also found something on Lulu called "Wildfire" by Greg Saunders (Summerland), but can't find any reviews on it. I'd like to find something fast and fun and, if possible, tied to roleplaying. But I think I'm just going to have to write it. :)

I'm still lurking around, though spending more time playing games and writing/designing some as-yet-unannounced SF RPG material. Got a bit burnt out on Trek only but have been immersed in a lot of older stuff like Space Opera, GW, Morrow Project, Classic and Mongoose Traveller and Thousand Suns. I think I'm going to re-purpose the blog and focus on the broader category of old SF RPGs (as soon as I track down one last thing, a copy of Tyr's Space Quest).

Also been playing pulp and skirmish-level mini games like the .45 Adventures stuff (especially Fantastic Worlds) and collecting and painting tons of 15mm sci-fi miniatures. I thought for sure I was going to spend the winter running S&W in Athanor, but haven't yet broken out of the sci-fi mood. And hanging out at Falconer's Old School Trek Gaming board (

Oh, and somewhere in there, work work work. I'm around and I'll be back with the blog. Just gotta broaden it a little to keep it more interesting for myself.

trev said...


Glad you liked my blog. The Zhodani are great badguys. My Topgun Marketing grav tanks arrived today too, so the Imperials can start to fight back.

All this is part of an extended nostalgia trip (read: mid life crisis ) that’s had me revisiting some old gaming loves. I've been much more of a historical wargamer than roleplayer since the early nineties but I've sometimes kept half an eye on RPG developments for old times' sake. 4e talked a good fight and I took some interest in that until I saw the rules. I missed 3e completely, so it was quite a shock how far things had come from the halcyon days of the Red Box. I was really disappointed because a lot of the stuff they talked about sounded like good ideas. Then they wrote WoW unplugged. I didn’t get it.

Anyway, I was talking with some friends the other day about doing some retro D&D for our kids. The most fun I ever had with D&D was in the Caves of Chaos and Palace of the Silver Princess, so I did a bit of googling and found the OSR, and your blog. I’m looking forward to reading more of your Red Box sessions, that was great. I still have my trusty old books tucked away but I like the look of Labyrinth Lord too, so I think I’ll have to get a copy.

All the best,


Aaron E. Steele said...

LL is a well-received retro-clone. You can pick up a free copy on the interwebs before you drop any cash (I ended up buying two print copies after checking it out for free).

I wish there was someone producing official Traveller mini's, though it looks like you found some excellent proxies!

trev said...

I've found the LL downloads thanks and put an order in for the book from Lulu. I'll have a chat with a few mates and see what happens.

For 'Official' Traveller minis your best bet is RAFM miniatures. Their 15mm Sci-Fi figs are the old Citadel Traveller line including Vargr, Aslan and Droyne, as well as humans. The prices are fairly reasonable, certainly better than the arm or leg you used to have to pay on ebay. They are decent castings too, not something produced from worn out old moulds. I've got quite a few and will be painting them up as the project progresses.

For proxies the best single source is Ground Zero Games, but Rebel Minis, Khurasan Miniatures and are all worth a look. The first two are new expanding ranges with some nice stuff and the latter sells the old Laserburn range, for more retro goodness.

Check out Dropship Horizon for all the latest on 15mm sci-fi miniatures.

There are some starship minis available too from Ad Astra games. They do transfers for vehicle markings too.