Gisby's Gaming Blog

August 18, 2008

Darkest Africa: The Shostim Trading Company

Filed under: terrain, Victorian Adventure Gaming — Tags: , , — gisby @ 00:29


In this time, I did a lot of other stuff: A half dozen websites, masters for 50+ miniatures, painted about 1000 figures. In the end, I decided to just FINISH it, and it took… 3 days. It was sitting at that stage for months. I am a slug. I’m a slug. A lazy slug. I had an idea for a birthday gift for my pal Chick, and it took two years to finish it.

When it was done, and in the post, I put up a website with these pictures, and invited the guys at ColonialWars to comment on it, but Chick wasn’t allowed to peek.

I only hope he got as much satisfaction out of it as I did in making it.


The view above shows the building with a 28mm Warrior Zulu for scale. The building is made from craft sticks and bamboo skewers. As usual, the roof is cardboard, thatched with brushed-out string. The factory is designed with small windows for ventilation, and loopholes in the walls.

shostim2 shostim3
Here’s two views from the front: It looks bowed, but that’s caused by the close-up lens. The door near the sign is the door to the factory, the double door leads to the storage room. (There is also access from the inside)  I haven’t showed the back because it’s just a blank wall with some loopholes in it.

I wanted it to have a generally ramshackle, rundown air: Like it was a forgotten post in the middle of nowhere.

Thankfully my work always looks like that.


Of course the doors open and the roof comes off, otherwise it’s far less useful for gaming. It also needed some interior detail, or it would just be a badly-made box. I swear it is not bowed like this!

shostim7 shostim6

shostim5Above we see the main sales area: I tried to make the goods at least sort-of-identifiable. There are books (each one with a hidden treasure map) and ammunition on the top shelf, with canned goods and flour below. A rack displays a number of guns for sale.

The front counter has bolts of fabric in unattractive colours. The black pad is magnetic rubber, to hold various artifacts. There are a pair of hoes in the corner and a few cases & barrels.

The shelves are glued in place, but the barrels & crates are loose so they won’t get in the way of figures.

Finally, we have a general overview, showing the ‘storage’ area and the treasures within. Barely visible are a pair of hats on the wall by the door, and the factor’s grubby, unmade bed..


Here are the various treasures and accessories: Chick already has plenty of treasures, but I thought the factory shouldn’t be empty. The goods can also be used as cargo in boats, whatever.


This is the underside of the bed: It’s a slat bed and they are not very comfortable.

The factor’s “wife” lives in her own hut on the other side of the clearing.

chut1 cstuff1
It’s made from a papier mache birdhouse bought at Michaels. I just thatched the roof and cut a door into the side. There’s also a natty plaid blanket on the floor. The pot is a bead with a wire rim.

She sets out a blanket when she sees visitors coming. The blanket is cotton cloth, glued to magnetic sheet, with the ends frayed. The bowls are thumbtacks, the fruits are mustard seed.

barra2 barra1

This was originally intended as a palisade, but can be used as a palisade, herd enclosure, or barracoon.

It’s made from bamboo skewers, strengthened with bands of dyed string glued to the inside. The gates are hinged as seen at How to Hang a Door. (For that matter, so are the Factory doors)

idol1 idol2 idol3

Chick likes horror, so I thought I’d give him some mystery toys.

The two carved pillars are craft store beads, as are the two blue pots. Their bases are magnets, and the tops and spots on the bases are magnets too.The various ritual items (Jade head, ebony head, skull, pots, food offering, mummified baby, blood-smeared stone) are also based on magnets. This allows them to stay on the idol or on the counter of the factory. (Chick lives in earthquake-land, and magnet bases are handy when the house moves!)


August 14, 2008

SPACE 1889: A German walker

I am a big fan of the SPACE 1889 rules and setting. They had role-playing rules, tabletop battle rules, plus aerial and naval rules. They combined Victorian and Barsoomian elements well, and deserved to be far more popular than they were. Even now, 20 years later they still have a following.

I’ll admit, in places the rules weren’t great, but in others they were teriffic.

Where they shone, was in background. The rules themselves were followed by a bunch of reasonably priced sourcebooks, each with background material a-plenty and a really crappy scenario.

REALLY crappy. They were interesting, but totally channeled: Nothing the players did could make a difference.


If they caught all the villains, another villain would blow up the ship.; If they jumped ship before then, they could successfully evade capture for up to 7 days, then they WOULD be captured.

There was always only one route to take, and one solution. But I digress….

‘Soldier’s Companion’ (the battle rules) had great photos of battles between British and German troops, and of course between Europeans and Martians. And of course there were ‘Land Ironclads’ and ‘Walkers’.

This is my attempt at a walker.

The cab is made from Lego blocks, assembled and turned upside down, with a plastic roof added.


Doors and hatches are also plastic card, with hinges & handles made from wire. The ventilator on the roof is a the head of a 2-part rivet.

Round ports and frames were done with hole punches, and the front window frame was plastic strip from the model shop.

Rivets were punched from plastic with a leather stitching punch, and glued in place one at a time.

NB: Lego are not made from styrene, so model cement does not work on them. All the parts were crazy-glued in place.

The housing below the cab, and on the rear are just different Lego pieces. (so I didn’t have to worry about making anything square) The machine-gun and smoke stack are plastic sprue & wire.

The housing is glued to a sandwich made of several (detestable) slotta-bases. (So I’ve found a use for 3)

The wheels on the side were rolling wheels from a Lindberg snap-together Iosef Stalin III kit. They are on a coat-hanger wire axle, also glued to the underside of the housing. On the right hand side in front of the wheels is the base of a 2-part rivet, just to add interest.

The legs are made from coat-hanger wire, bent at the ‘knee’ and glued into the slotta-base sandwich. The bends, and the joint are disguised by sections of plastic tube, with sprue sticking out of the ends.

walk5 walk4 walk3 walk1

The ‘knee’ actually has a slot in the side, and was forced down onto the bend: The bit sticking up is NOT the leg below..

The ‘feet’ are SPACE 1889 flying bases with rivets added. The peg is rounded at the top, and has plastic disks cut with hole punches covering the join.

I painted it grey, added some lettering & weathering, and put it on a shelf. sigh…..

If we ignore the fact that a three-legged vehicle just doesn’t work, it’s a fearsome piece of German technology.

August 13, 2008

Darkest Africa: Native huts

Filed under: terrain, Victorian Adventure Gaming — Tags: , , — gisby @ 23:36


When Foundry first started their Darkest Africa range, I was quite excited. The possibilities for adventure in the great untamed continent seemed endless. And so it has proven.

So of course I needed to make some scenery for my games. Where better to start than huts? A quick internet search showed a wide variety of native buildings: I chose these because they are so generic.

So of course I needed to make some scenery for my games. Where better to start than huts? A quick internet search showed a wide variety of native buildings: I chose these because they are so generic.

They sort of scream ‘African Hut’, but with wicker or stone walls, they would serve equally well as Celtic round houses.

They MAY be a little small (or not) but it’s always better to have buildings as small as possible (without looking stupid) so they don’t take over the table.

The bodies of the huts are made from a papier-mache box from a craft store: I cut it in half: This left me with a half with a bottom, and another without a bottom. Sooooo…. I glued a floor to the part without a ‘bottom.’

When this was dry, I cut doors into the ‘front’. I left mine open, but you could close them with a screen, curtain, or even a wooden door.


The roof is a cone made of poster board. It’s three layers thick, bound with white glue and is now a strong cardboard cone.

To attach the roofs, I made a ring from layers of poster board sized to fit the top. Using tabs, I glued it to the cone.

The thatching is made from teased out 1″ lengths of cotton string, teased out and glued down in layers, a tiny bit at a time. (To avoid warping) The bottom row takes forever, but each one above it takes far less: The last takes no time at all, and extends past the top, where it is tied off in a tuft.

The whole roof is painted with diluted white glue, and painted once dry.

They are a bit time-consuming, but I think they are worth the effort.

chutThe grain jars (Yes, they really are that big in real life!) are turned wooden candle-holder cups from a craft store.

On the other hand…. In another craft store, I found papier-mache birdhouses, the same size as my huts, and the same shape (albeit with a shallower roof). All they needed was a door cut in (or painted on) and thatching, to make huts every bit as good-looking as mine. The pot by the door is a wooden bead with a rim made from soft wire.

Zulu storage huts are similar, but set up on platforms. Zulu huts have walls , but rounded rather than pointed tops, and all tend to have a distinctive pattern of weaving: I’ll make some Zulu huts later.


Simpler huts, seen in the Soudan and other places are made by making a circle of upright sticks, and tying them together at the top. Sticks are woven through these, making a loose basket, and thatching is attached over these. Apache Wikiups are made in a similar fashion.

I formed the shells of these over 1/2 Xmas decoration balls from a craft store, using layers of paper & white glue. I formed them inside the ball sections, and removed them while they were still wet.

When they hardened, I attached them to cardboard bases (for strength) and thatched the exterior with glue & string. When all was hardened again, I cut the doors and painted the thatching.

You could just cover Styrofoam ball halves with paper & thatching, It would be easier, faster, and probably just as effective.

August 12, 2008

Darkest Africa: King’s Hall. An Ideal first Project

Filed under: terrain, Victorian Adventure Gaming — Tags: , , — gisby @ 22:56

African King's HallThis was a simple piece inspired by a papier-mache box sold in a craft store. It has a plain rectangular bottom, but the lid was a gabled roof-shape with overhanging eaves. It is structurally strong, and is pre-made with a removable roof. There are several sizes available, including some I have looked at for European buildings.

I originally bought it years ago to make into a Dark Ages Hall (which wouldn’t really have been all that different) but looking through Stanley’s Darkest Africa books I saw a similar structure and was thus inspired.

King's Hall

I drew a line on the outside of the box bottom, where I wanted the lid to sit. I then glued matchsticks to the sides with the tops aligned with this line (one side at a time) and when dried, sawed them flush with the bottom. When dry I weathered them with a black wash. (A doorway was cut into the front of the hall.)

I also used matchsticks braced inside to keep the side walls from warping inwards as the glue set. These were removed when the glue had set completely.

King's Hall

All in all, a simple craft project of gluing sticks & string to decorate a cardboard box. (All too similar to kindergarten arts & crafts) If you feel you have no talent for this sort of thing, it’s an ideal first project. There is essentially no cutting, fitting, or measuring.I thatched the roof & sides with frayed-out string painted with white glue. and finished the peak with a roof-beam. The thatching was painted, and dry-brushed to bring out the details… A RAFM shield was glued to the front of the roof as a decoration.

Overall cost was probably about $5.00 Canadian, plus of course my time, which is beyond price!

The figures in the pictures are from Foundry’s Darkest Africa range. The greenery is made from cake decoration palm trees

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