Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Frostgrave Warband - Terezinya's Tomb Robbers

Terezinya watched the moon rise, the silvery light illuminating the scintillating towers of Felstad in the distance. She drew her robes more closely around herself; she regretted not packing a thicker robe, or at least trousers. For some reason, she thought that the thawing of Frostgrave meant that the area around it was warmer. Her henchmen, a band of thuggish, green-skinned orcs, were gathered around a bonfire, passing around a helmet filled with beans and pork sausage and slurping noisily - especially the big one, with the axe. She sighed. They were the best she could do on short notice; she hoped to replace them with more...effective troops once in the city. 

 A scuff of shoe leather on stone caught her attention. She turned. Her apprentice, John Grymmlan, had brought her a cup of tea - bone china, of course. She took it, and sipped appreciatively. 

 "Why wait until dawn, Mistress, to complete our journey? We could march through the night and get there before the sun rises." He commented, his voice like creaking leather. 

 She smiled thinly. "And have our boys too tired to fight, John? No, let them enjoy their rest. They're no good to me dead." 

 Grymmlan scowled, but could not maintain the expression. His dry lips involuntarily cracked a smile. He laughed, a hard, braying sound. 

 Terezinya joined him in laughing. Wiping a tear from her eye, the Necromancer said, "I had you going for a moment there, John."

Here's a few shots of my first Frostgrave warband - Terezinya's Tomb Robbers, led by the necromancer Terezinya and her apprentice, John "Dig Me No Grave" Grymmlan.  With them are Lug-All the Pack Mule (carrying a casket full of supplies), the orcish barbarian Boss Grug, two Archers, Hoodsie and One-Eye, and a gaggle of Thugs to round things out.  Finally, there's Lil' Anklebiter, an Imp/Familiar Terezinya can try to summon at the start of games.

You'll notice there are more figures here than can be fielded in a regulation game.  I think my "standard" list will be Terezinya, Grymmlan, Boss Grug, the two Archers, four Thugs and the Pack Mule, but in a pinch I can swap out the Pack Mule for the fifth Thug.

Terezinya, Lil' Anklebiter, Grymmlan and Lug-All are from Reaper Miniatures; the Orcs are built from a Wargames Factory boxed set that I believe is currently out of production.

As an added bonus, here's a WIP shot of a couple of Reaper Bones figures I dug out of my closet to test out some new Reaper paints on; I'm in the process of upgrading my collection of paints from craft store acrylics to Reaper brand paints, and I decided to see if I could get better results on the Bones figures using these than with the old paints.  The "Irongrave Warrior" I painted up as a statue and the verdigris-crusted armor of "Arrius, Skeletal Champion" (who stands head and shoulders above the Irongrave Warrior, I should add) speak for themselves.  The Irongrave Warrior will become a piece of Frostgrave scenery while Arrius will be an armored skeleton for my Frostgrave bestiary.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gaming Loot 2015

Here's what Santa (and by Santa, I mean the Lovely Gina and my mother) delivered unto me:

Mom was kind enough to give me the Lion Rampant ruleset (which I read through some today - I was not expecting the amount of humor in Daniel Mersey's writing that was there.  The Serfs entry had me rolling) and the Malifaux starter set, while Gina got me a stack of Reaper Miniatures.  In case you can't read the labels from the pictures, she got me:

  • "Cactus Joe, Gorilla Gunslinger" (on the grounds that I love gorillas and "this seemed so pulpy for you Bill."
  • "Black Mist, Vigilante" (furthering the Pulp theme, since this is The Shadow in all but name - even his girasol ring is depicted!)
  • "Sasquatch" (I'm a sucker for Bigfoot stuff, even though I'm not a believer)
  • "Crazy Pete, Prospector" ("It's Old Man Walter!" Gina said, referencing a character from my last D&D game)
  • "Nadia of the Blade" (on account that she couldn't let me go without getting a barbarian woman)
All of these will be getting painted up for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, with Nadia of the Blade being recruited into my second Frostgrave warband, the "Sisterhood," while Sasquatch will be incorporated into one of my bonus round entries.  Which one? I'm not telling...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas one and all from Dice, Doubloons and Random Musings.

I took the day off work, and got a little bit of painting done today, including learning what an idiot I've been in the interest of being thrifty.  Reaper Miniatures includes a sample bottle of their brand of paint in every order placed on their online store, so I've amassed a bunch of them.  I never use them though, because I've always said, "I get perfectly good results from the 99-cent acrylic paints I buy at the craft store." Well, it turns out I don't have a good caucasian skin tone from the craft store, but I've got two-thirds of the medium flesh-tones triad from Reaper via samples.  So, while painting a Necromancer for my Frostgrave warband, I decided to give the Reaper samples a try.

I am an idiot, and could now easily toss all my cheap acrylics right in the trash.  Using this paint was like having an angel guide my hand while I painted.  Amazingly good coverage, no clogging of details, perfect flow.  Why haven't I been using this all along? While I've always balked at the idea of paying $3+ per bottle of paint, these are clearly worth the investment.

I will likely have some goodies to display tomorrow - Gina and I are exchanging gifts tonight, and she had me walk her through a half-dozen websites including Wargames Foundry, Reaper Miniatures, The War Store and Brigade Games showing her the sorts of things I like.  And she received a box in the mail with a return address which I recognized as being that of The War Store.  That box is now wrapped and under our tree.  I keep looking at it longingly.  Similarly, my mother wanted to do "fun" gifts for my sister and I this year, so I sent her a bunch of links to items at The War Store as ideas.  Between suggestions I made to both of them, I may have a Lion Rampant/Dragon Rampant warband in the new year.

Gina's gotten really fascinated by the miniatures painting process, and has tentatively asked about painting up a miniature of her own to try it out.  She's also asked me, starting in 2016, to paint a miniature a year to convert into an ornament for our Christmas tree.  We're going to be starting off with Foundry's Scary Santas, specifically the handsome Orc to the left.  She especially likes his pick-axe left foot.

The allure of a new period and scale has been very strong the past couple days - I ordered the rules for Sword and Spear as my Christmas gift to myself, and am strongly considering building a couple armies in 20mm (1/72 scale) plastics for it.  Right now New Kingdom Egyptians and Sea Peoples are the strong contenders.  Hopefully I can keep myself busy enough with Frostgrave and any new acquisitions from Christmas to let these urges pass quietly by.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I Want to Be...Under the Sea...

Now that they've been up on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge blog for more than 24 hours, I'm free to post the first few miniatures I've painted here at my home blog.  These are two of Brigade Games' 28mm Deep Sea Divers/Treasure Hunters, affixed to 25mm round bases from Renedra and based with Army Painter-brand basing grit.  The kelp is a few leaves snipped from some aquarium decor I'd bought for terrain purposes, given a rough and heavy drybrush of citron green to make it look a little less plastic-y before supergluing it to the base.  Paints used were craft store acrylics, primarily Folk Art brand.

Photos were taken on my dining room table, which currently doubles as my workspace, pretty much as soon as the varnish was dry.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Start Your Engines!

The Sixth Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge has begun.  Between now and March 20th, everything I paint will be uploaded to the Painting Challenge blog for review and judgment a few days before it appears in its finished form here; I may still post some WIP shots here as I go.  I've set myself the fairly humble goal of 400 points, which would equal 80 28mm figures on foot assembled, painted and based.  I have something like 40 figures already assembled and primed.

I'm taking my time and working slowly but steadily; I've got basecoats drying on a pair of figures right now that I'd like to get as close to completed as possible today to start me off.

However, an interesting complication: I have been asked to provide a short story of 10,000 words for an upcoming anthology, for which I will be paid.  The story must be complete by March 16th.

So I'm going to be splitting my creative energies between painting and writing this winter.  I think I'm going to have a real good time with all of this.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What to Buy Next?

Gina and I have been on hobby no-buy for the month of December - I can't buy toy soldier stuff (not even based or flock) and she can't buy knitting supplies. Well, one of her favorite indie yarn dyers put out an update last week and Gina would have been unable to purchase any of the one-of-a-kind skeins if she'd been forced to wait until January 1st - they would have been completely sold out.

So we came to an agreement; I would turn a blind eye to her buying a few skeins of unique yarn, and she would turn a blind eye to me making a toy soldiers purchase AFTER Christmas - she's buying me some toy soldiers for Christmas so doesn't want me buying anything she might have picked out for me.

Now, I know what I showed her in terms of miniatures I was interested in, so I have a pretty good idea of things I won't find under the tree. So I'm considering what my "post-Christmas" present to myself would be. I've narrowed it down thusly:

photo courtesy Warlord Games
1.) Terrain for Frostgrave. I have two warbands and might be able to put together a third or more after Christmas, so I ought to get some terrain going for games. I'm eyeing a couple of Warlord Games' bombed out farmhouses from their Bolt Action line and maybe the snap-together gothic buildings that I think Pegasus Hobbies currently puts out. I'm curious to hear from readers who've built these structures about how the construction process went.

2.) Colonial/Victorian/Steampunk-appropriate figures from Wargames Foundry. I've been rereading Chris Palmer and Buck Surdu's Victorian Science Fiction skirmish game GASLIGHT lately, and I'm more impressed with them than ever. I haven't run GASLIGHT in years and don't have the figures from those long-ago days any more. I think I'd like to be able to run demo games of both GASLIGHT and Frostgrave at conventions by autumn 2016, and that means new armies need to be painted. Colonial-era games are tricky things in our current hyper-sensitive climate; it's too easy to get accused of ethnocentrism by putting on a game set in this era.

I'm thinking a couple packs of Foundry figs would take advantage of their end of year 20% off sale, and build a force of Belgians (who were dastardly in their dealings in the Congo, no doubt) and some stalwart Brits to oppose them. I've got a pretty nice mental image of a demo game in which rival European expeditions racing to the entrance of King Solomon's Mines - which happens to be located in a "Lost World" valley populated by dinosaurs who don't care about the national origin of their next meal.

photo courtesy Wargames Foundry
The thing is, I'm not sure if I'm spreading myself too thin by dividing my time and money between two games; would it be better, I wonder, to focus solely on Frostgrave for now, get my warbands painted, and start playing the game, learning it as best I can before I start building armies for another game? Or would being able to go back and forth between working on the two games make me less likely to experience burn-out because I'd be painting a greater variety of figures? This is the first time I've ever really had the income to where I could work on two games at once. I'd love to hear others' experience, ideas and advice.

Murderhoboes of Devil's Canyon, Session 6: Going Out With a Bang

We wrapped up our current D&D campaign this past weekend, which not only frees up my writerly creativity for a secret writing project I've got in the works, but also frees up my weekends for the Painting Challenge.  Here's a rundown of how things went:

Dramatis Personae:

Johann Borscht, Dwarf Fighter 4
Baphomohawk Jones, Elf Magic-User 3
Turkman Price, Human Cleric 3
Helga Ironbreaker, Dwarf Fighter 3

Adventurers and ne'er do wells were beginning to drift away from Devil's Canyon, citing that the dungeon had been "played out" and the risks now far outweighed the rewards, but our heroes continued to stick around, blasting things with their Cosmic Ray Cannon and counting the staggering quantity of gold they'd accumulated by doing so.

After a few weeks of this, they were summoned to the floating tower of Meinrad the Star-Gazer, now doubled in size again (standing 24' tall if he'd stand up) due to the weird magical energies he was channeling, and with a TOTAL RECALL-style conjoined twin growing out of his chest that now did the talking for him.

like this, but still dressed like Galactus

He explained he was going to be leaving the Devil's Canyon region soon, but had one last job for the PCs.  A hundred miles north, on the coast of the Sunset Sea, stood a temple held by a band of cultists who had summoned and bound the demon VANAMAN: the last time VANAMAN was unleashed upon the world, fifteen million years earlier, it had exterminated the Second Empire of the Serpent-Men.  Meinrad wanted the adventurers to breach the seals on VANAMAN's bindings and banish it back to Hell.  This would not be easy, as the complex was shielded by a device called a "Nullifier" that prevented energy weapons, teleportation and scrying effects from functioning within 20 miles of the complex.  Meinrad was willing to offer them teleportation to the edge of the Null Zone and explosives to deal with the bunker housing the Nullifier.

Sneaking in under cover of darkness and bypassing a hovercraft-mounted patrol, they quickly found the temple, standing on a promontory of rock on the edge of the sea, and the bunker, standing atop an outcropping rising from the waves about 20 yards out to sea.

Crossing the water, and using their talking dog Asheron as a distraction for the guards, they broken
into the shield generator bunker and began to plant their explosives, setting the timer for an hour.  This would give them time, they figures, to infiltrate the temple, find the leader of the cultists and kill him to ensure he did not release VANAMAN.

Killing two guards and stealing their uniforms, Johann and Turkman led a loosely manacled Helga into the complex, claiming they'd caught her snooping around the perimeter, while Baphomohawk, magically invisible, followed behind carefully.  Their ruse worked, and they were soon brought to see Voros, the leader of the cult.

Voros turned out to be a doddering, talkative old man whose comments about VANAMAN and what they were doing to contain it began to make Helga doubt that Meinrad had been on the up-and-up regarding their mission.  Before she could convince her fellows, however, the explosives went off, destroying the bunker, and Turkman brained Voros to death.

They quickly learned, however, that Voros was correct; that VANAMAN was a terrible creation of the Elder Things, the last of whom maintained a lonely vigil over the containment unit containing the hovering silver sphere of VANAMAN, until blasted apart by a Cosmic Ray Blast; a shot to the containment unit caused the sphere to collapse into flowing, quicksilver-like liquid that began to throw out pseudopods and consume anything it touched, growing rapidly in size.

Energy blasts caused the VANAMAN entity to double in size with each shot, and it quickly devoured Johann's meteor-bladed axe.  Running outside, the party soon saw Meinrad's Tower floating overhead, and were teleported aboard.

Here, the creature that was Meinrad gloated that the PCs had done exactly as he wished, and now, with the coming galactic alignment, he would absorb the "Power Cosmic," become a god, and with the VANAMAN under his psychic control, conquer world after world throughout the universe.  He offered the PCs the chance to become his Heralds, the fly the spaceways and find new worlds for him to conquer.

Johann blasted Meinrad with a Cosmic Ray Blast, the beam slicing through the engines holding the tower aloft on its way towards the unholy warlock.  Dying, Meinrad revealed that without his psychic control, the VANAMAN - not a demon, but tens of trillions of self-replicating nanobots, "Von Neuman Machines" in the Old Speak - would consume the entirety of the planet's mass and everything on it in a matter of months.

Johann went to the window, where he could see his Cosmic Ray Cannon.  With a tear in his eye and a mutter of "best damn investment ever," he pointed the targeting gauntlet at the Cannon itself, overloading the capacitors and setting off a massive thermonuclear explosion, which would hopefully destroy the VANAMAN.  As the expanding, incandescent cloud of screaming atomic energy reached the tower, Helga threw an amulet of force-field generation around hers and Asheron's necks.

The tower, the temple, everything in them, and the surrounding landscape for thirty miles in every direction, was completely consumed, reduced to a fine, white ash.

A bit of ash crumbles, and Asheron the Talking Dog pops his head up and surveys the landscape.

"Wow!" he barks, "Do it again!"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Miniature Painting in the Blood

No, I haven't gone off the deep end and started applying my own hemoglobin to miniatures for "realism."  I just saw this photograph on the Perry Brothers website:

Painted by a Chris Adcock.  And I happen to be William (Bill, for preference) Adcock.  The Perrys are based out of Nottingham, which is a 42 minute drive from Leicester, where my great-grandfather was born.

It would not surprise me in the least if it turned out that this Chris Adcock and I are somewhat distant cousins.  I joke that holding a university degree in History is the Adcock Curse (I have my degree in History, as does my father, as did his mother, who was one of seven women working towards a Masters Degree at Columbia University that year), but perhaps painting toy soldiers is as well.  I paint them, my father built model kits and 1/32nd scale plastic figures until he was in his 40s, and apparently there are Adcocks back in the Motherland working with toy soldiers as well.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Stockpiling for the Winter

It has been unseasonably warm here lately - and given that I'm in Western New York, just below the Great Lakes, it's only a matter of time before the other shoe drops, and given the current warmth, the "other shoe" will be an iron-shod boot dropped from orbit.  Last year this time much of this region was digging out from under a six-foot snowfall.  So I've been taking advantage of the warm weather to get as much assembly and priming done as possible in preparation for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, which begins December 20th (just 14 days away!).  I believe I've hit the limit of what I can do for right now; Gina and I agreed to do a "spending freeze" for the month of December; neither one of us can spend money on our hobbies right now to take care of buying presents for others.  So anything else I want to buy - including more miniatures, bases, etc - has to wait until January 1st.

In the meantime, I have 42 individual 28mm figures on foot and a small diorama piece to keep me busy; these include two full warbands for Frostgrave plus additional figures that can be swapped in and out for both of them, a couple miscellaneous figures, plus my entries in the first two Bonus Rounds, "Nostalgia" and "Epic Fail."

Here's a group shot of everyone assembled, primed, and ready for December 20th:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Don't Throw a 1's One Million Hits Giveaway

I don't have much to show, miniatures-wise, right now unless you like to look at a lot of primed and unpainted figures; I've been working like mad to try and get as much done as I can in preparation for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, so I haven't been painting so much as preparing to paint.  However, I would like to congratulate Ray at Don't Throw a 1 on hitting one million page views on his blog.  To celebrate, he's offering up some stuff he's had laying around.

You can see what he's offering here!