Saturday, November 29, 2014

Moving Forward

My laptop died the other day, after five years of faithful service.  Now I've got a new, sleeker, lighter, faster model with about 7x the battery life.  In the meantime, I've been working on some of the mold-lines on C'thulhu trying to clean them up and make them as invisible as possible once the model is painted up.  Here are the ones I've still got the most work to do on:

Because I want to paint the head separately, due to all the detail around the tentacles, I went to the craft store and got a wooden dowel I could fit into his neck-hole - now I've got a Cthulhu-on-a-stick and I can hold that in my off-hand while painting so I'm not smudging anything or missing spots.

And here's an old Grenadier Cthulhu I got on eBay a couple years back and painted up.  I'm for the most part going to be recreating this color scheme on the larger figure.  He's a bitch to photograph because I glooped gloss varnish over him pretty heavily to simulate a wet, slimy appearance, as if he'd just heaved himself up out of a greasy sea.  In fact, I poured the varnish on him so heavily that there's droplets formed at the tips of his wings and a little bit of a "bubble" of it between his right claw and leg.  The eyes were given a coat of glow in the dark paint.  Spooky! SPOOKY!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Raising Cthulhu

My girlfriend and I celebrated four years together last week.  Our anniversary was Tuesday, but because she's going to school full time and working part time, we weren't able to go out on Tuesday.  Our solution was for me to take some time off on Wednesday (on which she only has half-days), take her out to lunch, take her to the yarn shop to pick up material for a couple more knitting projects, and then hit the local gaming store for something for me.  My gift ended up being the Reaper Bones Cthulhu (or C'thulhu, as the box says), a 9" tall multi-part monstrosity that in my eyes pushes the boundaries of what constitutes a "miniature."

Upon getting him home, I immediately opened the box and began examining the pieces that will compose the beast.

And then did a dry-fit to see how the pieces fit together and where I'd need to fill gaps and file down seams - with a big display piece like this, I really want him to look the absolute best he can.  

quarter thrown down to give a sense of scale.
From what I can see there aren't really a lot of gaps that need filling - the arms are sculpted so that the point where the pieces join together is disguised by a fold of skin, and the neck is pretty well hidden in the forest of tentacles.  The only real gap I can see is in where the tail joins the body, but that should be, knock on wood, a pretty simple fill-job.

The one big issue I'm seeing is that the feet don't quite line up with the base the way they should - right foot has a hole to accept a peg on the base, left foot has a peg that goes into the base for stability, but I find C'thulhu simply isn't quite splay-legged enough to fit right; putting an extra quarter-inch of open air between his ankles would fix this.  The solution to this appears to be to dunk one of his legs in boiling water, reposition, then give him a good dunking in a bath of ice water to reset the polymer.  Seems easy enough, and I'll be giving it a go this weekend, I think.  I'm off work on Thursday for the holiday (American Thanksgiving for those outside the US), and took off Wednesday and Friday to play host for my future brother-in-law, who's driving 400 miles to spend the holidays with us, but I'm guessing I won't get a chance to try this until *after* Gina is done using the kitchen to turn out a small feast.

Color-wise, I've discovered that none of the craft stores around me stock Delta Ceramcoat acrylic paint, which has a lot of the shades I was planning on using.  I'm going to try Wal-Mart, see if they have any, and if not I'll mix my own.  I don't have the money for expensive paints produced for various miniatures companies, I use the cheap acrylic paints from the craft store.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Tentacle Beckons

I was talking with a coworker and fellow RPG enthusiast recently - I'd introduced both her and her boyfriend to Call of Cthulhu not too long ago, and they had a blast with the game, and that's impressive given that they both come from a background of hack 'n' slash dungeon crawling Pathfinder.  They showed up to the one-shot I ran with characters prepared and ready to go - a war correspondent and a big game hunter, complete with backgrounds and personalities.  She was telling me about how, after that session, her boyfriend (who is a longtime DM and player of D&D himself) couldn't shut up about how blown away he was by Call of Cthulhu.

Call of Cthulhu is really where I've always shined as a GM.  My first real experience behind the screen was running a heavily-modified Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, with several additional scenarios interspersed between each chapter and the Scotland chapter completely replaced with material I wrote set in a Silent Hill-style town.  The campaign ended up lasting something like 16 or 18 4-6 hour sessions, and featured the development of what we termed the "Shotgun Mythos" -- more Investigators died due to being shot with shotguns or having shotguns malfunction catastrophically in their hands then due to Mythos horrors.

After that a ran a short campaign set in Roman-occupied Alexandria, in which the PCs were manipulated by Nyarlathotep into exterminating a cult of Shub-Niggurath worshipers to further his own bid for cosmic supremacy, culiminating in the PCs calling up Shub-Niggurath to smack Nyarlathotep down.

Next campaign, again a fairly short one, only about eight sessions, used modern day Flying Saucer mythology and the Shaver Mystery in place of the Cthulhu Mythos, I think to excellent effect.  The high point of this campaign was the final scene, in which I revealed that everything past the first session was a hallucination shared by the PCs in a sanitarium following a toxic overdose of experimental dream-suppressant medication.

After that, I converted Nigel Kneale's teleplay for "Quatermass and the Pit" into a short campaign, with Nyarlathotep again manipulating the PCs into opening and activating the Martian cylinder, sending out psychic waves activating latent Martian genes in the people of London.  Under this psychic influence, Nyarlathotep revealed, the people of London would mutate into locust-like creatures, which he termed "the Megiddo Swarm," and wipe humanity from the globe at his direction.  The PCs managed to avert this fate using a Gate spell and, through a great deal of psychic effort, sending the cylinder off-planet.

After this, I took a break, as one of my players commented on my tendency to lean on Nyarlathotep as a villain, and I wanted to refresh myself creatively.  Since then I've run some Pathfinder, a couple assorted sessions of various OSR games, and a short (five session) campaign using the BRP mechanics set in the Caribbean at the time of Elizabeth's reign (which I originally started this blog to use as a campaign journal for, which just didn't work out).

Now maybe it's time to pick up the percentile dice and roll for SAN loss again.  Maybe that's why I'm so flighty and indecisive towards fantasy games lately; maybe I need to sink myself back into horror.  I recently got a copy of Dan O'Bannon's excellent adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, THE RESURRECTED, on DVD -- most published Call of Cthulhu campaigns tend to be very sprawling geographically, on the model of The Shadow Out of Time...maybe I should try to do something that sprawls chronologically instead.

Maybe set each player up with three Investigators, one for each of three different eras, with each character being somehow descended from their character in a prior era.  Have the main arc of the campaign take place in the 1920s, say, and one of the Investigators stumbles across an old diary belonging to an ancestor...and when they start to read it, I play a "flashback" sound effect, collect the 1920s character sheets and hand out the players' 1750s (or whatever) character sheets, and have them play out the events of what the character in "the present" is reading.  And later they get access to older documents (such as a ledger maintained by a cult, decade after decade, for hundreds of years) and read about the exploits of their ancestors further back (flashback sound effect again), and I had out character sheets for 1028 AD or whatever, and it's only be piecing together the information they've found in the present with the incomplete information their Colonial ancestors and Dark Age ancestors had that they manage to tie together all the clues and defeat the cult once and for all.

It's a thought!

Monday, November 3, 2014


I've begun painting miniatures again, after something like a two-year hiatus.  First up, the Reaper Bones (plastic) figure of (for copyright purposes) an "Eye Beast."

All the art I was seeing for Beholders had them in drab browns and grays, and I thought that was boring.  I decided to jazz mine up with some bright colors to go with their alien nature.