Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Vahn Oberon

One of my main antagonists for the Witchfire Trilogy Vahn Oberon is now done!

Normally I would use this space to editorialise a bit about the model I just painted but it's hard to talk about who this guy is without spoiling some of the details of the adventure I'm going to be running.  To stick to the basics Vahn Oberon is a wizard living in Corvis in the Iron Kingdoms campaign setting.

That does it for me for 2013, tomorrow; the year in review!


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Church Of Morrow

Father Dumas is now done!
I experimented with a new way of doing off-white robes and it almost/mostly worked out the way I wanted.  In hindsight I should have washed each section individually and then moved on to the next section after the first dried but that's a lesson for next time.

My two key representatives for the Church Of Morrow will be Father Dumas and his young acolyte to be named later.

So far so good, now off to work on a villain or two!


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Up On A Soapbox: Now Hiring Wizards, No Experience Required

I've been a role-player and a miniature gamer for almost 30 years now and in that time I've been able to find miniatures for almost everything I could possible need for a fantasy RPG no matter how bizarre (half-orc monk?  yep I've got that) but in spite of that there is one figure that I feel has consistently eluded me; the low level human male wizard.

There are literally hundreds of 25-30mm male human wizard figures out there but they all seem to either be old-men patterned after Lord Of The Rings wizards which just doesn't gel with my idea of how a low-level wizard would look, or they are "battle" wizards armed and armoured in a way that doesn't really work for a Pathfinder or D&D game.  Ironically as soon as you start looking at elf or female human figs there seem to be a lot of good choices but I can't seem to find a human male that fits the bill.

I can't tell if my problem is that I'm being overly specific or if my problem is that what I want isn't what other players and GMs want but I would love to find a half-dozen or so male human wizards that don't look like high-level bad-asses.

Anybody out there have any suggestions?  Anybody out there encountered the same problem?  Anybody out there have their own "why can't I find this?" type of figure?


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Witchfire Trilogy Prep in the home stretch! (WIP)

I'm excited about this.  I have 11 more models I need to get done and then I'm ready to run the first session of my Witchfire Trilogy game!  There are a couple of other figures I would like to get done but these represent the last of what needs to be done before my players hit the table.

First up I have three of the primary NPCs for the game.  Left to right are; Father Dumas (the PCs patron), Alexia Ciannor (the objective for lack of a better way to put it) and Vahn Oberron (who is really just not a nice guy).  I'm hoping to get Father Dumas and Vahn Oberron painted before Christmas mostly because that's the time line I set for myself, I'm also stoked to get Alexia done but she is less of an urgent need.

Next up are some figures that will be doing double duty in my 'classic monsters' game as well as The Witchfire Trilogy; Pathfinder Goblins!  I can't say enough about theses figures, as a longtime D&D player I've used tons of goblin miniatures over the years but with the exception of Games Workshop goblins they've all lacked character, and the problem with Games Workshop goblins is just that they are definitively Games Workshop and somehow feel out of place in other settings.  The goblin is the iconic Pathfinder monster and they have a ton of background and are really a lot more interesting than 'orc-light' which is how they are frequently portrayed in other games.  These are Reaper Miniatures that were sculpted by Chris Fitzpatrick (of Crocodile Games).

And last but not least a peek into the possible future.  The collected edition of the Witchfire Trilogy that I got has 2 bridging adventures to create a bit more of a campaign flow.  In the first bridging adventure the PCs may encounter one or both of the beasts below.  I'll keep my explanation brief so as not to ruin anything for my players but after a fairly typical high-fantasy game with wizards and monsters and stuff in the first bridge the PCs get their first real taste of the Iron Kingdoms setting when they have an encounter with a Steamjack.

I've got another "Up On A Soapbox" coming tomorrow but it will be less my view stuff in the game industry and more or a casual observation followed by a request for some help.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Up On A Soapbox: badly sculpted vs badly designed

The other night I assembled and primed 2 more Iron Kingdoms figures for my upcoming Witchfire trilogy game and I found myself having an odd thought "these figures are really well sculpted...but kind of badly designed...huh...never seen that before..or have I?"

Anyone who's collected miniatures for any length of time will have unfortunately ended up with some poorly sculpted figs (details too shallow, arms that run off into bodies, proportions that are just wrong, etc) it's pretty common and is happily pretty easy to avoid.  But what's a lot more rare is when you get a beautiful, well-sculpted figure with lots of great texture and detail but still suffers from some sort of critical design flaw you just can't get past.

So, I assembled Father Dumas and Vahn Oberon the other night and was immediately struck by the fact that neither of these guys have feet!  Now to be fair they're both sculpted with long flowing robes that would for the most part conceal their feet but each of them has an area where the left foot (oddly the same on both figures should be visible.  On Father Dumas the left side of his robe is slightly raised...but there is no foot underneath, on Vahn Oberon the back left side of the robe is slightly raised...but still no foot.  Honestly I like both of these figures (you should see them painted before Christmas) so I kept looking at them trying to justify in my own mind why they're sculpted this way, but I really just ended up making it worse for myself.  When you trace Father Dumas' leg outlines through his robes it starts to look like he's got some weird knock-kneed stance going on and rather than conveying a sense of movement it looks like his robe is getting blown up from underneath a-la Marilyn Monroe (which doesn't really seem appropriate for a priest).  Vahn is slightly better but his legs are posed like he is walking to his right while he's twisted at the waist significantly to his left and his staff is pointed at a roughly 90 degree angle to the left of his body while his eyes are turned roughly 45 degrees to the left...it's not awful....it's just weird.

Neither of these figures is so bad that the odd design choices are a deal-breaker for me but it got me thinking; how many other figures are out there that are well sculpted but oddly or illogically designed?
Any thoughts?


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Get by with a little help from my friends

When I was younger (teens and early 20s) I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons.  When I was playing a lot, and in school for that matter, I had tons of friends who played and we all had similar schedules and availabilities.  Since I've gotten older (I won't say more mature) the biggest struggle with RPGs I've had is getting a group of 4-6 friends who can all find the same time so sit together around a table and play.  When D&D 4th edition got released I really wanted to try it out so I decided to just get together with the 2 friends who were immediately available and play.  The challenge wasn't scaling the adventure back for 2 characters, I found the challenge was making sure that the adventure could be completed with the 'roles' that the characters fulfilled, this was further complicated by both players choosing to play wizardy characters (so no fighting, sneaking or healing in the group).  My Band-Aid fix to the problem was to have an NPC fighter and an NPC cleric accompany them on their adventures, although this was a workable solution over time it lead to an almost comedic need to constantly replace the 2 NPCs who were getting killed by the players choices and circumstances.

So fast forward to 2014 when I'm kicking off my Witchfire game.  I will again be running a small (2-3 players) group but this time one of the first players to commit has chosen to be a fighter so that's one key role filled.  The only other role that is essential in my opinion to a low-level Pathfinder group is a healer of some sort so I realised if another player doesn't choose that role I will have to dip back into the NPC pool, but this time I don't want the adventuring NPCs to represent a pool of Hit Points to be expended when the PCs don't want to risk themselves.  To this end I've decided to write and paint up a non-adventuring type of Cleric who may (if necessary) accompany the PCs on the adventure.

Basically our intrepid (yet to be named) Cleric is a young acolyte who although academically well  versed and knowledgeable is not a fearless walking spell-casting tank to supplement the party in combat.  If you think of the character Carl from Van Helsing you're probably not too far off.

The miniature is another from the Rusted Heroes line and was perfect for what I had in mind.  He certainly doesn't look like an Iron Kingdoms bad-ass warcaster/priest but that's exactly what I was trying to avoid so I'm happy.  The paint job was super-basic this time out, monk's robes and next to no gear lends itself pretty well to quick paint jobs.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Return to Mirkwood!

About a year and a half ago I started painting up an Elf force to play through the Fall Of The Necromancer Campaign for Lord Of The Rings with my friend Stan.  We played through a couple of scenarios but then real life got in the way, I started working in a different area, and we got a little derailed. 

Earlier this week Games Workshop posted their pre-order info for their new Hobbit miniatures and there were a TON of awesome new elf figures.

I want to get a pile of these but I'm putting it off for a week or two and in addition to showing what I'll be painting next I thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about why I'm deferring my purchases slightly and my thoughts on miniature pricing (trust me, it goes hand-in-hand).

When new figures come out, especially from Games Workshop or Privateer Press the first thing that usually happens is a bunch of people jump up and start moaning about the prices.  Now I wouldn't make a statement as ridiculous as saying price is irrelevant but lets keep in mind what exactly we're talking about here; miniature war gaming is a first-world luxury purchase based pastime, no one is forcing you to buy more miniatures or to replace the old miniatures you already own, those are your choices.  Having said that I found myself thinking the new elves we're a bit too pricey for me and I probably wouldn't buy them...that thought actually caught me off-guard, I've never decided not to buy something solely based on price before, where did that idea come from?  And that's when I realised why I thought they were too expensive, because I still have a bunch of unpainted elf figures.  It has nothing to do with price difference from last year, or figure counts in boxes, it just felt like bad value to me because I still had stuff for that collection I wasn't already getting full use out of.  It's funny how all the figures I've gotten use out of feel like great value for my money but all the ones sitting unpainted in boxes feel like a waste, huh?

So to that end I'm going to paint my last 16 unpainted Lord Of The Rings Elves (shown below) and then I'm going to get started on the new Hobbit Elves.

Anybody else out there excited about the new Hobbit miniatures?