Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Modular Post-Apocalyptic Scavenger Compound

  My PC's got robbed by a band of roaming scavengers last week, leaving them stranded in the hostile wastes, their vehicle stripped of useful parts and their precious gasoline siphoned away. Nothing quite like returning successfully from a quest into a hidden valley full of horrific mutant parasitic plants to find your hard-won and handcrafted apocalyptic tank/truck standing up on blocks. With my PC's searching the grasslands of the Caldera Basin for the aforementioned compound, I figured I had better whip up something for them to find.
  I initially started gathering pieces to create a big terrain piece, an entire compound of ramshackle fences, huts, and towers standing on a polystyrene bluff. And then I looked at my terrain shelf, noted the other large pieces I have made in the past. They're cool, and fun to build, but I can rarely get more than one or two uses out of these highly specific 'specialized' pieces. It seems to me that it's much more useful to make a bunch of smaller pieces that can be assembled in different ways, giving them a little versatility and most importantly 'replay value'.
  This theory in mind, I decided to make a bunch of short lengths of scavenged wooden fence-wall, that could be used as stand-alone pieces or combined into a larger enclosed compound. As always, click to embiggen.

  I started with a few styrene scraps sporting flat sides for a level base. I sculpted them down into low 'hills' by plucking pieces away with my fingertips.

Next I planted the 'posts', carving the ends of the balsa strips down into a point and anchoring them into the styrene with a little PVA.

Then, the crossbeams. I decided to extend the fences by a section on either side of the styrene bases to facilitate the modular aspect I was shooting for.

Then the fun part. I cut a pile of fence boards from balsa, varying the lengths slightly, carelessly breaking and damaging them as I went. To make them more post-apocalyptic, certainly not because I'm careless and lazy. Certainly not that.

  I started attaching them to the cross beams with PVA, following the contour of the styrene hills as much as possible, and then edging the bottoms with rocks and fine sand where I thought wind-blown dirt would accumulate in drifts.

  Then the rivets. Or nails. What have you. Whenever I use greenstuff, I end up mixing far more than I actually need. It never fails. I roll the excess into long cylinders and let it cure that way - granting me a nice supply of easily cut rivets for detailing terrain.

  I spent some time attaching the 'nails' here and there with PVA, wherever I thought the fence looked like it needed extra support. The scale is all wrong for nails, but looks good. Unless they used railroad spikes for construction. Yep, that's it. That's my new justification.

At this point, I realized I needed some kind of an entryway, or gatehouse. I started gluing balsa together with little to no plan, and an hour or so later, I ended up with this, which I was pretty happy with. A few lengths of craft chain and a few random plastic bits salvaged from who knows where yielded an almost functional pulley system for raising and lowering the gate, along with a nice, defensible lookout post. Note, if I had been smarter, I would have added the chain last, after priming and painting. Alas, I am not, so I spray primed it right along with the rest, rendering the links sticky and prone to kinking - making my almost functional gate into a barely functional gate. I learn most lessons the difficult and stupid way.

Now the moment of truth. Paint time. I always get a little nervous when I start painting a terrain piece. Am I about to completely wreck this? Or conversely, is this pile of crap going to look good after I slather paint all over it? Here we are after a Krylon H2O spray basecoat and a layer of drybrushing.

Another, lighter drybrush on the fence itself, and then I moved to the ground, in the usual color scheme. I made sure to over-brush onto the bottoms of the fence posts, to imply weathering and staining.
A final pure white highlight on the fence, and a few patches of flock at the base, and it was pretty much good to go. I should have gone back to touch the railroad spikes with a silver, maybe a few streaks of rust staining downwards from them - but I was out of time. The pieces hit the table, still reeking of spray prime, as has become the developing pattern.

Below, you can see the finished pieces all assembled and ready for game night. It was a good fight, and the gate, while barely functional, still played great. And, as a bonus - I think the modular aspect of it all was successful, the fence-walls look good, even standing alone. Next time - airships. Of a sort.


  1. I really like this. Im glad I glad I found your little slice of the web!

  2. Thanks for the read and the kind words!