Monday, 24 July 2017

Isabella The Red Queen

A while back I bought an OGL campaign supplement called "A Red And Pleasant Land" by Zak Smith which is a hybrid of Alice In Wonderland meets Dracula.  I've been subtly (very subtly in some cases) planting seeds in various D&D games over the past year that there is another world out there with thoughts that at some point I want to put my players through the setting.

The challenge with a lot of cool hybrid campaign ideas is that if you use miniatures it can be difficult to find what you are looking for.  Luckily in the case of one significant character not only was there a logical choice for a miniature but I already owned one.  For The Red Queen I'm using a Games Workshop Isabella Von Carstein model from their pre-Age Of Sigmar Warhammer range.

I think the hair is what really sold me on the idea of using this model but she feels like a really good fit for a vampiric take on the Lewis Carroll character.

The next thing I need to look for is men-at-arms that I can fit animal-masked heads onto.  Like I said hybrid campaigns aren't easy to find figures for.....


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Another weird monster

This morning I finished another older weird D&D monster, although not nearly as iconic as my last couple; the Abyssal Maw.

In the somewhat long-ago time (roughly 2000) the folks at Wizards Of The Coast decided to put out a miniatures skirmish game based off their then current and new D20 D&D system, that game was Chainmail and it featured some Monster Manual creatures as well as a pile of potential player character models.  Chainmail was an interesting fun game but was largely a victim of bad-timing in the game industry as the game launched roughly a month or two before Games Workshop announced they were producing a Lord Of The Rings miniature game, which then became the go-to fantasy miniature game for new and casual players.

In addition to some classic D&D critters the design team also used the game to create and launch some newer monsters.  One of those newer monsters was the Abyssal Maw.

The Abyssal Maw was neat in that it added a low level 'demon' miniature to the games and brought some of that Cthulhu flavour back that old-school gamers tend to like.  One of the things I liked about the Maw is that it's totally asymmetrical (it has 3 eyes and 5 arms) which gives it a distinctly unnatural feel without working to hard on creating something visibly strange.

While working through a few odds and ends I also cranked out the bat familiar from the WizKids Nolzur's Marvellous Miniatures line.

I actually have a couple of upcoming games that I'll need some small animals for and one specifically which will require some bats so getting this into my collection will be useful.


Friday, 21 July 2017

YOU are the hero!

Another foray into the distant past.....

In the long-ago time before Warhammer and its various iterations the founders of Games Workshop started building their fantasy empire with a series of 'choose your own adventure' style books called Fighting Fantasy.  These books were set in different worlds than the Warhammer games would eventually find themselves in but felt like early GW products in their art-style and combination of high-fantasy mixed with humour.  The first book in the series was The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain and it basically played like an old-school early 80s Dungeons & Dragons adventure that the reader could play by themselves.

In 1986 Games Workshop released a board game version of The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain that basically works like a cross between Talisman and Clue.  At the time of release the game was well above board game standards in terms of component quality and the artwork holds up really well to this day.  In the game each player plays an adventurer trying to explore Firetop Mountain while also deciphering which keys they will need once they make it to the end.  Each character is represented statistically in the same way as a Fighting Fantasy game book character and they will encounter similar challenges and treasures along the way.

Aside from some luck of the dice allowing for slight statistical differences all characters are effectively the same (no race, class, etc) but rather than just some sort of meeples Games Workshop included 6 unique character models in the game.  I only recently acquired my copy of the game but I have to say if I'd had this in 1986 I could have use these pieces to represent every D&D character I played through my first few years in the game.

For 31 year old models they hold up surprisingly well and other than some giant hands (which seemed common among GW 1 piece plastics of the era) they are well executed figures.  The only thing some players might be disappointed by is the lack of a female figure but again the pieces are effectively just meeples so you can add any figures you want.  In my case I'm actually going to paint up a female halfling rogue for Zoe to use in a game.

I'm excited to have these done and they will make it to the tabletop this coming Thursday so after languishing in their box for 3 decades at least the time from paint to game will be relatively short for them.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Some classic gaming monsters

Like a lot of gamers I bounce back and forth between systems and genres fairly frequently but I think its safe to say that right now I'm on a nostalgia kick.  I've painted newer models and I've painted older models but it seems by and large everything is somehow a throwback to my earlier days of gaming.

Today's additions are living at opposite ends of the spectrum in that one model was just released a few months ago while the other has been living (unpainted and unloved) in the bottom of a box for nearly 30 years.  But the thing they both have in common is that they are creatures I was introduced to in my first few years in the hobby many, many moons ago.

First up; the Displacer Beast!

This is a new model by WizKids from their unpainted Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures line and I've got to say not only did I like it but it is (in my opinion) a huge improvement over the metal figure that came out with the Chainmail line years ago.  A lot of hobbyists don't like soft plastic or vinyl because it has a tendency to have softer details but this is a great example of where the material is an improvement.  The musculature of the creature is fairly pronounced so there aren't many shallow or narrow cuts and in addition the problem with my older pewter Displacer Beast was always that the tendrils on the back would bend and then the paint would chip.  I REALLY hope WizKids does a bunch more of the medium sized monsters in their next wave of models.

Next up; the Ambull!

The Ambull is an old 40k (Rogue Trader era) monster that hasn't appeared in anything since 2nd edition.  This model is in fact so old that it's lead rather than pewter.  The Ambull has a funny place in my heart because although it is/was a sci-fi monster for a game set in the far future my first exposure to it was as a final encounter in an old Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay scenario from White Dwarf #108.
I have no immediate plans for this guy but I really wanted to finally paint him.  At this point I may use him as an Umber Hulk-like creature for D&D or he may just sit on shelf alongside my Dungeon Master figure waiting for his time.

That's it for today.  I'm off to the depths of the internet to look for more old-school D&D miniatures!


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Sly Marbo - one man army

Its been a few weeks since I last rolled dice in anger but at that time the game I was playing was Shadow War Armageddon.  My Arbites didn't do particularly well (curse you Space Orks!) but one of the other 'forces' I had wanted to try was one of the one-man-army options.

Basically in Shadow War there are a number of special operatives who can go it alone against an entire kill-team of enemies.  Each race has one or more options but a dig into the way-back machine brought me to the year 2000 and a character I had always imagined using to great effect in 40K even though it never quite worked out that way, Sly Marbo.

As I've mentioned before when talking about a lot of different games I enjoy a bit of humour in my games and a tongue-in-cheek character like Sly is perfect for me.  Any action movie fan of my generation would recognise the art and background of the character as being Rambo 38,000 years in the future, while also looking at the figure and immediately being able to hear Arnie yelling "GET TO DA CHOPPA!"
That's just glorious.

I'm not sure when Sly will see his first game, but win or lose I'm 100% sure he'll draw first blood.....