Sunday, October 14, 2018

Green Sun, Black Moon - Session 1

The last thing you remember of your world was a storm of unimaginable fury, waves crashing over the bow of your ship as timbers cracked and splintered. You woke up, half-drowned, on a beach under a baleful green sun, a huge black moon hurtling through the sky. Rough hands heaved you up, stripped you of anything you had managed to hold on to through the storm, and tossed you in a cage. 

Today we started a new home game, using the "Lamentations of the Flame Princess" rules.  I decided to run a "Sword and Planet" style game, in the vein of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom, with some of Lamentations' darkness thrown in and especially utilizing some of the gonzo science-fantasy of Geoffrey McKinney's "Carcosa" supplement. 

So we rolled up a set of characters hailing from a slightly fantastic 16th century Earth:

  • Antonio, a Portuguese Fighter (played by Rick)
  • Abdallah, a Morrocan Specialist (played by Olga)
  • Akenzae, a Nigerian Cleric of the Edo faith (played by Johnathan)
  • Raal Mogaz, an Elf (played by Kai)

The adventurers, when they'd gotten their bearings, realized they were in a cage-wagon being drawn by an elephantine reptile with a huge nasal horn.  In the cage with them were eight other captives, all seemingly human except for their skin-tone - a woman with skin as black as ink, a woman with skin bleach-white, two yellow-skinned men, a purple-skinned woman, and two men and a woman with skin-tones in colors the adventurers had never seen before.  Outside the cage, their captors - a band of 37 in all; a plate-armored leader mounted on a nimble dome-skulled reptile, six chainmail-clad bodyguards, and thirty men in brigantine leather jerkins - were men with tomato-red skin.  The adventurers, and their fellow captives, had all been stripped down to their undergarments.  

Abdallah picked up on the native language quickly, soon able to tell a nearby guard that he was an asshole.  Antonio and Akenzae soon learned it as well and finally Raal did as well.  Abdallah quickly made friends with Ksildar and Larsorm, a pair of brothers who were identified to him as "Dolm Men" and who hoped to be sold to the same gladiator school once the caravan arrived in the city of Yithorium.  Phosada, the Black Woman, derided their dreams and predicted they'd both be dead within a month.  For her part, Phosada was counting on her membership in a group she called the Mercenary Brotherhood to save her once they got to Yithorium - the caravan would have to pass their guild hall on its way to the slave markets.  

One of the Yellow Men, named Yq, proved to be a cleric of a god of unquiet slumber and restless nights, and as night fell, he began to bang on the bars of the cage and pray loudly for the slavers to sleep poorly.  Raal, irritated at this interruption to his own rest, soon smothered Yq with his own loincloth.  Doing so caught the attention of the White Woman, Yilana, who revealed herself to be a spellcaster - the slavers had smashed her hands with a mace to prevent her from casting any spells, but she had one memorized that she was willing to teach to Raal: "Summon."

Under Yilana's guidance, Raal opened a gate between this universe and another, pulling forth a serpentine demon.  Beating it in a battle of wills, Raal directed the creature to kill Boshek, the captain of the slavers.  The demon tried to crush the slaver in its coils, but the slaver overpowered and killed it quickly.  When questioned, Raal and the rest of the party pointed at the corpse of Yq, and claimed that he'd been casting a spell and they'd killed him for it.  Suspicious but unable to prove anything, Boshek left it at that.  

Akenzae managed to perform some healing on Yilana's hands.

On the third day of travel, the caravan turned towards the northeast and entered swampy territory, where three of the guards were killed by a pale, featherless, penguin-like creature with five eyes and a lamprey-like mouth, and while making camp for the night, an enormous black-scaled reptile with a huge, fang-filled mouth and tiny arms came close to camp.  Seeing an opportunity to thin the ranks of the guards, Antonio threw the slave-cart's communal toilet bucket on to Gorpak, the guard they'd dubbed "asshole," and got him to yell and draw the creature's attention.  Nine men died before the creature was driven off, and the beast was only driven away when Boshek pulled some sort of firearm from his saddle and fired a shimmering, invisible ray of energy at the creature.  

The next day, day four since the adventurers had been captured, the ground turned drier, even desert-like, dotted with sparse, tough grasses and stubby cacti.  The caravan stopped early, as it arrived in the village of Womar.  The village consists of 20-foot tall stilt houses, in which the citizenry lived, and beehive-shaped adobe huts on the ground, in which their slaves lived.  The citizenry had brilliant green skin, while the slaves were of many colors, and about 10% of the citizens had big obsidian labrets pierced through their lower lips.  Curiously, there were no women of any color to be seen.  

Boshek began shouting that he had goods and slaves for sale, and the adventurers began feigning sickness to try and ruin any chance of a sale.  "The Speaker of the Moon," the village headman (dressed in chrome-plated armor, with a samurai helmet and jade mask, a huge spiked mace clipped to his belt), was intrigued by the "exotic" adventurers and invited Boshek back to his home to discuss prices over wine.  

Biting his tongue to draw blood, Raal feigned tuberculosis and spat blood into the crowd, causing a small riot.  In the ensuing chaos, Akballah managed to lift the dagger off the guard Gorpak's belt and tried to cut the man's mouth with it - accidentally taking off a good-sized chunk of the man's face.  Akballah tried throwing the knife away to hide the evidence and fumbled the throw, landing the knife just outside the wagon.  

When Boshek's bodyguards came to investigate the situation and found the guard bleeding and screaming, the adventurers tried to convince them that the blood that had sprayed the crowd was that of Gorpak.  While they could not convince the bodyguards that Gorpak had sliced his own lower lip off and then threw the dagger behind the wagon, Akenzae did successfully point out that if Gorpak had been less incompetent then they wouldn't be able to take his knife and cut him with it.  

The bodyguard concurred, and drew his mace and bashed in what was left of Gorpak's face.  Incompetence would not be tolerated in Boshek's organization.  Night fell, and the capybara-sized native rats made short work of Gorpak's body.  Not long after Gorpak had been reduced to gnawed bones, a cloaked figure approached the wagon, paying off the guards with small pouches of clinking coins.  

Throwing back their hood, the figured revealed themselves to be a beautiful blue-skinned woman who introduced herself as Dara, one of the wives of the Speaker of the Moon.  She explained that her husband and Boshek were passed out drunk, but that the Speaker had offered her, and three vials of Jale Lotus Powder, to Boshek in exchange for one of the "exotic" slaves. Unhappy with being used as a bargaining chip, she poisoned a dagger and offered the adventurers their freedom if they would kill her husband and take her with them when they left the village.  They agreed, and she threw the bolt on the cage door, setting all the captives free.  

The party rooted through the trade goods piled on top of the wagon, with Antonio retrieving his basket-hilted sword and breastplate and Akenzae retrieved a set of robes.  Abdallah gave Gorpak's dagger to Raal, keeping the poisoned dagger for himself.  There was some discussion of trying to find a pistol, which Dara responded to by noting there was one pistol in the village, and the party would have to contend with the Keepers of the Flame to steal it.  Abdallah couldn't understand why there was only one pistol in the village, but it was explained that the secrets of creating these weapons had been lost, and all examples of firearms -for example, the ray gun Boshek carried - are relics of an earlier era.  

With Dara urging them to make haste, she led them to the Speaker's house, where the rope ladder was already lowered.  "Kill him," she hissed, "I'll go retrieve some steeds for our escape."

With that, the party began to climb the ladder - Raal in front, followed by Abdallah, then Antonio, and finally Akenzae bringing up the rear.  


That's where we left off for the first session; all in all we got about three hours of play in, plus character creation and time spent eating pizza.  Everyone had a good time (the remark was made, "it's amazing how much we accomplished for being locked in a cage the whole time") and we're looking forward to reconvening in two weeks.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday WIP: Olleytoberfest Undead (and bonus Carnessa)

So I've now got not only the figures I showcased in my last post for Olleytoberfest (Sean's celebration of Bob Olley's sculpting work) but a stack of older undead from Reaper Miniatures sculpted by Bob Ridolfi, who is my go-to sculptor for awesome undead figures.  Reaper's having a promotion for the month of October, spend $40 and get a "Ghoulie Bag" of candy, limited edition paints, and a translucent "smoke" tinted wraith miniature. 

I got a bunch of figures primed, and initially selected DHL #02270, "Golgoth the Eradicator" and #02310 "St. Tarkus, Dire-Dead" (aka the Zombie Bishop) for my painting table.  Well, when I squeezed out a little bit of "Deep Red" onto my palette for Golgoth's cloak, I ended up getting a lot more than I'd bargained for.  Knowing I wanted St. Tarkus' cloak to be a deep, Tyrean purple, I put him back on the shelf and selected two more that I thought would look good with some dark red on them; #02077 "Carnessa the Terrible," sculpted by Bob Ridolfi and closer to true 25mm than the other figures, and #02367, "Dragoth the Defiler."

Dragoth the Defiler
For Dragoth, with his heavy armor and ornate helmet, I got to thinking of an ancient warlord raised from the dead.  His armor's been basecoated in Reaper "Ancient Bronze" and will get a wash of Citadel "Reikland Flesh Shade" before being highlighted with "Antique Gold" and a touch of "True Silver" on the very edges.  Bones have been basecoated in "Sandy Brown" and I'll be picking out the wrappings on his left arm and legs in "Yellowed Bone" before giving them a wash of "Seraphim Sepia" and highlighting the wrappings with "Creamy Ivory" and the bones with "Stained Ivory."

Golgoth the Eradicator
Golgoth, by comparison, comes off as much more utilitarian.  He's wearing a tunic with a few small plates strung together covering his abdomen and groin, and there's some hints of chainmail under the tunic, especially under his right arm (in shadow in this picture).  He's got a shield with a big spiked boss, a spiked and horned helmet in proper Frazetta fashion, and an absolutely amazing, flowing ragged cloak.  Once again the bones have been basecoated with "Sandy Brown," the tunic has been basecoated with "Midnight Blue" and the wood of the shield is, appropriately, "Shield Brown." The helmet is, again, "Ancient Bronze."

Carnessa the Terrible
Carnessa, sculpted by Bob Ridolfi, is a much flatter figure compared to the other two, with a smaller cloak that's less folded and draped.  Her sword blade was originally folded over double against her back, though I've straightened it as best I can.  Armor and bones are as per the other two, and I'm considering repainting her loincloth to be a different color than the cloak.  Maybe blue like Golgoth's tunic? I'm not sure.  I originally mistook the folded-down cuffs of her boots as heavy metal anklets or greaves, so those need to be repainted. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Olleytoberfest (and possibly Zomtober as well!)

Sean over at Sean's Wargames Corner has proposed a fun little project for the month of October - honoring sculptor Bob Olley by showcasing figures he's sculpted that we've painted, and painting new figures that he's sculpted.  Now, sadly, I don't have any painted Bob Olley sculpts in my collection at the moment, though I've admired his dwarves and ogre sculpts for years.  So I decided I would try to mark this occasion by painting a small collection of Bob Olley sculpts - and, since it is October and it's time to get spooky, I opted for a half-dozen undead figures Olley sculpted for Reaper Miniatures.  Placed my order this morning, they should be arriving sometime early next week and then I can get crackalackin' on them. 

Here are the figures I ordered, presented unpainted, from Reaper's site:

As you can see, lots of tattered cloaks and flowing robes to work on my blending with, some armor, and a good mix of bare skulls and rotten flesh to keep things interesting.  If I wanted to, I could field these six as a unit with my Dragon Rampant undead army, should I ever get a game going of that.  Either way, I'm looking forward to them being an enjoyable project for the month.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

5 More Gladiators

One of my fellow wargamers organized a small painting get-together at our FLGS yesterday, and by small, I mean it was he, myself, and his girlfriend sitting around talking and painting - they were each working on their respective Age of Sigmar armies, while I had five gladiators primed and ready for painting. Neither one of them was aware that there were games out there that didn't have associated miniatures lines; I think I might have sold them on giving Frostgrave a try, but I'm not sure they were as keen on Sons of Mars. Historical games (that aren't WWII) seem to be a harder sell around here.  C'est la vie.

Over the course of four hours, I managed to finish off all five figures I'd brought with me, minus bases (I'm getting some Vallejo basing gel "sand paste" to finish off those) and two shields for the new Murmillones.


Monday, September 10, 2018

"We Who Are About To Die..."

After moving to a new apartment, unpacking, and almost immediately losing my painting mojo, this past weekend I finally managed to put paint to figures, painting up my first three gladiators for Sons of Mars: A Murmillo, a Retiarius, and a very special Thracian:

"I'm Spartacus!"
I have no idea what I'm going to do with the bases. I have two more Murmillones and Retiarii, and one each of a Lacquerius and a Crupellarius from Crusader Miniatures left on my workbench; then another 21 gladiators, a lion and the Emperor Nero are coming from Wargames Foundry in the near future. Next step, learn the game!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

"Ave, Imperator, Morituri te Salutant!"

North Star announced sales of a new gladiatorial combat game, "Sons of Mars," the other day, offering a free pack of gladiators with purchases of the rulebook until August 1st.  After some deliberation, given that I'm supposed to be packing up to move to a new apartment, I pulled the trigger and placed an order for the rulebook and a pack of Murmillones - and selecting a pack of Retiarii for my free bonus pack.  I know North Star ships promptly and I'm not worried about it not arriving before we move. 

Author Joe Veltre has posted a couple videos on Youtube discussing the rules and gameplay, and it's hard to argue with a skirmish game where you might be in command of as few as a single figure.  I figure it's worth a try and I could use a little retail therapy lately. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Changing Direction

I'm not happy playing Age of Sigmar.  I thought maybe I could make it work, but it's just not the right game for me.  So, I've put out some feelers and might have a couple guys who'll take my army off my hands piecemeal.  And if I'm being honest with myself, I don't see myself putting in the level of work to get a Kings of War army off the ground either. 

Outside of Frostgrave and miniatures for role-playing games, I'm feeling just about done with 28mm scale.  And a big chunk of this is that we're getting ready to move out of our current apartment and into a new one in a few weeks, and in preparation I've largely packed up my miniatures stuff.  It ended up being a lot bigger of a pile than I expected, even with some pretty darn good Tetris'ing to get various boxes packed into a big plastic tote. 

So I've been doing some heavy thinking today, and I keep circling back around to an idea I've come back to a number of times in the past without pulling the trigger on: 1/72 scale plastic figures.  They're inexpensive ($11-$17 for around 40-50 infantry or a dozen cavalry), they'll take up less space to store, and the sculpting has improved significantly since I was a kid (although those old kits I used to see in my dad's monthly Squadron catalog are still on the market in most cases). 

The big stumbling block in my thinking in the past was getting someone interested in playing with me in that scale; and I think I've found the work-around.  Solo wargaming.  Yes, yes, "playing with myself" jokes aside, it does lose some of the social aspect of wargaming, but at the same time, gaming on my schedule, with the rules of my choice, is definitely appealing. 

As for rulesets, I'm leaning towards Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames, which I first picked up almost four years ago now.  I think a couple boxes of figures would make for a really enjoyable winter's solo campaign.  My current inclination is a couple boxes of Zvezda Hundred Years' War English and a few of Dark Alliances' Tolkien-inspired Orcs; run the English as a generic medieval human kingdom using the Medieval rules from One-Hour Wargames, and run the Orcs using the Dark Ages list to represent their lighter armor and looser organization.