Sunday, 18 July 2021

Tin Soldier orcs

 Here's a small band of orcs from the Tin Soldier. They must be around the cheapest 28mm fantasy miniatures around, at a quid a pop. The company also offers staggeringly good customer service. I got mine the next working day after ordering them, with postage coming in at £3. The Tin Soldier hydra is a brilliant old-school miniature and costs all of £4. The orcs are really nice figures that fit in quite well with Citadel's Fantasy Tribe range.

I've got another seven to paint up, which completes this particular range; Tin Soldier also offers some other orcs done in a very different style. I picked up some of the goblins, which match that style, and will finish them off soon. 

To me, these are just about perfect as D&D-style orcs: nasty-looking, but also scrawny (and hungry?), and just right for one-hit-die creatures. The fellow with the mace and the snakes would make a good tribal cleric. 

Rather charmingly, the chap in the horned helmet (above, centre) has a leather knapsack - for carrying off plunder and small morsels, presumably. The faces remind me of the troll in Jim Henson's The Storyteller. 

I'm painting up a lot of the Fantasy Tribe orcs in a similar style, and these will mix in nicely. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Kitbashed goblins


The GW "goblin regiment" kit isn't a triumph of the miniature-maker's art. The figures are oddly proportioned (even for goblins) and look awkward (even in the official website photos). But as I'd picked up bits and pieces of the set second hand, I thought I'd kitbash a few goblins to make a small warband.

These fellows have arms from Skaven and gnolls and gretchin and gnoblar heads. Oddly enough, I was inspired to make them by the prospect of playing some swashbuckling skirmish rules - All for One (Eureka) or Flashing Steel (Ganesha Games). Goblins might seem an odd choice for that, but I thought fairytale goblins might work quite well as adversaries for seventeenth-century musketeers or the like. 

I can see these little fiends as being responsible for all sorts of villainy of the kind that takes swashbucklers to sort out. 

I'm also thinking of using them for those skirmish games that have (or can have) highly differentiated individual roles: Havoc, Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes, Battlesworn, Frostgrave and the like. So the chap with the two swords could be a duellist in Havoc, a treasure hunter in Frostgrave and a combat master in ASoBH. Similarly, the fellow with the polearm would be a spearman in Havoc, an infantryman in Frostgrave and a long-reach fighter in ASoBH.

They need strength in numbers, of course, so I'm putting together a few more - some kitbashed like these and others just built as they come. I'm aiming for arquebusiers, archers, crossbowmen, some heavily armoured fighters, at least one wizard and some boar-mounted cavalry.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Foil and Fimo demons


As the party's sojourn in Hell continued, these scratch-built demons made their debut today. All three were very quickly built from tin foil, Fimo and green stuff. 

The larger two are based on HotT 60mm bases so that they can be roped in as behemoths or gods for that game when required. 

As with my other scratch-build efforts, there's no finesse involved in these. But while they're crude, they were very quick to make and paint.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Another scratch-built beastie


I'm increasingly fond of scratch-building big monsters for RPG encounters. This fellow - Gurakeel, Lord of Manticores and deposed king of the Seventh Hell (since you ask) - took a couple of hours to build from tinfoil, Fimo and greenstuff and maybe another couple of hours to paint. 

He was the result of a Friday-night decision after that evening's online session ended with an unknown monster crawling up the side of the ruin in which the party were sheltering. Some post-dinner fiddling with tin foil and Fimo produced the base. After baking him, I added some green stuff to the face and then finished off the feet and fur in the morning. Once he was dry, a suitably swift paintjob finished him off.

My son obliged by constructing the ruins in the morning, so we had a suitable stage for an epic slice of action.

The great thing about scratch-built and - frankly - rushed monsters like this is that there's no need to take much time with the painting. Base colours, a wash, some impressionistic highlights, stripes with a Posca pen and then a tiny bit of care with the eyes, and he was done. And he produced the requisite gasps on his debut - more than I'd have got by taking hours and hours over an expensive miniature.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Another beastman


Here's the second beastman for the cult. Two down, just another 22 needed for a full complement of insurgents for The Battlefield.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

A quick kitbashed beastman and The Battlefield


I very much liked the look of Hekatoncheires' inventive beastman warband, and it inspired me to do a bit of kitbashing. I've kitbashed lots of beastmen before, but I thought I'd do some with a science-fantasy slant to got with our current tabletop wargaming. And I thought I'd take a tip from Hek in employing a similar colour scheme for a diverse band of creatures. 

We've played a few garden games of Brent Spivey's The Battlefield recently, and it's great. All of Brent's games are brilliant - Rogue Planet, Mayhem and Havoc are the others we've played - and they're all brimming with inventive mechanics. 

The reason we haven't played them more is that 'time to table' can be a bit daunting. Because the rules are so fresh and innovative, they tend to need a full read-through if you haven't played for a while. There are lots of acronyms and initialisms (RAT, MAD, CQ, etc.), and I wonder if the rulebooks might be more user-friendly if those were just 'Shooting', 'Melee', etc. And because Rogue Planet and Mayhem are 'create your own profile' games, there's a bit of extra time involved that can weigh against getting a family game going on a whim. 

The Battlefield, however, avoids the last of these problems as troops fall into set categories, over which a layer of customisation ('loadouts') can be applied. (Havoc is similar, but suffers from an overlong and roughly edited rulebook - a shame, as the game itself is terrific. If ever a ruleset demanded a second edition ...)

Now, the thing about all of the Spivey stable is that when you actually get the games on the table, they play intuitively and fluidly. They're full of tactical decision-making, drama and fun. Perfect games, in other words. So perhaps the trick is just to keep playing them, so that you don't forget the rules in the interim! 

One of the troop categories in The Battlefield is 'insurgents'. Perfect for a warp cult or Red Redemptionists or something similar. I'll need four lots of six, eventually: this fellow is the first.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

A first stab at the megadungeon campaign


A couple of weeks ago, some of our regular players couldn't make our daily D&D session. I decided that this was an opportunity to start up the episodic megadungeon campaign. This is my long-planned set-up for spontaneous play on just such occasions. There was just one problem: I hadn't yet designed the dungeon. 

That, I decided, need not detain us. I procured a highly rated free adventure from the web (I won't give its name here as we aren't yet done with it, but it might concern a sepulchre of sibilant segmented slitherers ...). And off we went.

This gave me the opportunity to test out some of the mechanics I've plotted out for episodic games - notably the last lantern-bearer. I had every player roll up three characters each beforehand, but instructed them to equip only one with the conventional 3d6 x 10 gp. 

That was the only time that a gold piece was a gold piece. Taking a tip from Little Odo, I've rebased the currency to silver for the purposes of treasure and XP - so that equipment is much more expensive after the initial kitting out of a character. I don't mind a starting character showing up in plate armour - but I want it to be worth prying from his corpse if he comes to harm. 

Players also have to choose between spending silver pieces looted from the dungeon or using them for XP. I've made the same switch in our regular D&D campaign (still on the gold standard), and I like it. The advantage for higher-level characters is that all living and travel expenses are hand-waved as "in the XP" - but the players are still left hungry for loot. 

Anyway, the first session went nicely. We were using the Swords and Wizardry rules, which I really like. We had four players, and the party consisted of an assassin, an elf fighter, an elf thief and a magic-user. They decided to hire some extra muscle, so recruited two additional fighters - one first level and the other second. That meant that treasure would be split seven ways, with Carla the Clumsy (the second-level fighter) taking two of those shares. 

For this adventure, I decided that the mules and porters/lantern-bearers would remain outside the 'dungeon'. My megadungeon will chiefly consist of spacious hallways and wide subterranean roads, but this outing involved caves and a tomb. The map, however, allowed me the conceit of having the porters within earshot at first, so that potential reinforcements were at hand. 

The players advanced cautiously and overheard some orcs talking. The elf thief realised that the party had been overheard. During a period of indecision, one of the orcs crept round to the party's rear using other tunnels and began shooting arrows. They drove him off with missiles and managed to make short work of his two comrades. But when they were beginning a rope descent into a lower level, the orc archer returned and shot dead one of the NPC fighters holding the rope. That led to chaos, with some of the party getting into trouble on the lower level while one was left on the upper level to deal with the orc. A well-placed arrow eventually did for him, but two of the party had died below and Carla the Clumsy was badly wounded (0 HP). The lantern-bearers were summoned from outside, the wounded Carla was carried out, and two new PCs replaced the fallen from the ranks of the hired help. These two were unequipped, of course, so they had to scavenge gear from the fallen - less than ideal given the mismatch of character classes. 

Two players had to go at that point, so one original PC left with the wounded, but one of the original characters and a replacement made their way a little deeper into the lower level. Only one came back - but with a fair bit of XP and a little loot for her pains. Next time, the two surviving starting PCs and their new comrades can aim to get further in and deeper down. 

All in all, the game went as I'd hoped. After the higher-level escapades of the regular campaign (approaching its first anniversary this weekend after what must be around 340 sessions), it was nice to be cause fear with a single orc arrow out of the darkness. And I was happy with the lethality level (three survivors out of a total of seven adventurers, starting and recruited during the session). 

What I liked most was the feeling that the adventure was a raid on a dangerous locale - and a fairly unrewarding one at that, especially when the recovered Carla claimed her share. That sets the stage for a second expedition next time - and perhaps this time, the players will recruit all the NPCs they can!