Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Story So Far, Part II - 2mm Fantasy with Kull and Imaro

I'm back to catching up with some of my other 2mm plans. I've been a fantasy fan since I read The Hobbit when I was 8 or so, and the Chronicles of Narnia about the same time, or earlier. If I'm remembering things right, I picked up one book or the other because it looked like the other one.

I kept reading on, eventually working around to the literary Conan when I picked up the odd old Lancer paperback while haunting used bookstores. I'd seen the movies as a teenager, but didn't make the jump to the books for a long time. While a fan of the Lancer books, I didn't become a hardcore fan until I hit a motherlode of Robert E. Howard books in a used bookstore in a small town. Someone must have unloaded their entire (incomplete) collection, about 14 books. Less than half were Lancer Conans, the rest were anthologies (e.g. Pigeons From Hell) or other character collections - Tigers of the Sea (Cormac Mac Art), Bran Mak Morn, 3 x Solomon Kane, and...King Kull.

After scoring all this for about $30 (Canadian, probably about $20 US at the time) I worked my way through them. While they were all great - see my short story list in the sidebar to see the impression they made - Kull and his Thurian Age emerged as my favourite. There's something lurking in the atmosphere of the stories that I find really striking, and the shortness of the series leaves only hints for our imagination to wonder at, so I've fleshed out more of the world for my own entertainment purposes, with some help from Dale Rippke's book The Hyborian Heresies. I'll post more about my Thurian extrapolations later.

Through Howard's characters I developed a hankering for sword and sorcery over epic fantasy, and asking around on discussion forums for suggestions of other authors to give me a fix, Charles Saunders and the Imaro series came up.

Before I actually read any of the Imaro books, I'd been on Dale Rippke's now-deceased website that detailed several S&S heroes, from which I scooped up lots of detail on Conan and Kull. He also had an Imaro page, and I printed off the material from there too, including a gazateer, glossary, timeline, and a great 1970's map of Nyumbani, Imaro's continent. It seemed kind of cool, but I wasn't able to round up the books at the time.

A few years later, with Imaro still coming up as a good read, I was able to secure the Nightshade editions of the first two books, and in the last 20 months I've bought the two books Mr. Saunders has published through Lulu, with more to come. The books lived up to their advance billing, it's a fascinating setting completely different than what we've been used to in fantasy for the last century.

So with these two settings and characters, I wanted to immerse myself in them with some gaming opportunities. One way will be "big battle" wargaming in miniature, detailed here, and down the road I hope to add skirmish gaming (bigger mini's though!).

I was originally going to do these in 6mm, but no one has anything remotely matching some of the oddities in either series, particularly Imaro. Kull's oddities are more of my own making, although Frank Frazetta gets blamed for the polar bear-drawn chariots!

2mm will be an easier, but not easy, to convert, particularly for someone of my limited sculpting/detailing/painting skills. The gunkwu (arsinoitherium) will be the biggest challenge, I think it's going to have to be an Indian elephant mod. Most of the rest of the odd mounts (Cape buffalo, rhinos) will be based on Irregular's IK9 (Orc Wolfriders), with the eland-like mounts and terror bird riders (Kull's Kaa-U) will be straight cavalry mods. After all that, zebra-riders will be a breeze!

So like everyone in the hobby, I always have lots to do! These are the Imaro and Kull works in progress, except for the ships in the bottom right, that's another project (well...actually they're for naval Thurian Age gaming). Missing from the picture are about 14 more bases of Lemurian archers, stored in another box.

These photos turned out a bit pants, I need to figure out how to do these better. Anyway, this is Kull, Brule, Kelkor, and the Red Guard, which I've postulated is a subset of the Red Slayers, Valusia's mounted elite. The main body of figures are Irregular's Winged Hussars (RBG15) from the Renaissance line, Kull and Brule are the Barbarian General figure (ABG11).

Across the Lost Lands lies Old Acheron, the forgotten home of the Giant-Kings, pale giants commanding powerful magic. These are 2mm "giants" (IKF2), which leaves them bigger than they should be (assuming a 9' tall "giant-king", they should be 3mm); however, I'm taking a gamer's license with these, since if they did appear on the battlefield, they'd be like Tiger tanks - big in everyone's mind.

The centre and left figures will be sorcerers, the one on the right will be a general, with his messengers/aides beside him on horseback. His 'club' will be painted up as a sceptre, the sorcerer in the middle will have his 'club' become a bolt of flame/lightning.

The Picts' contribution to the Royal Army of Valusia, these are proper troops as opposed to mercenaries. This is the command stand.

Almost nothing is known in the canon about Thule, other than they are a northern nation and part of the Seven Empires. I'll go into them more in future posts, but included in their armies are the fearsome Imperial War Mammoths. This is just one stand, I only ordered three of them as a test (dumb test, I already knew they were cool...). If you look closely, you should be able to see their footprints in the snow, hopefully I can pull this off nicely when I paint the base up.

So that's it for Kull for now, I couldn't get good pics this time around of the reindeer chariots of Thule or the Acheronian war chariots (think Assyria).

On to Imaro!

My only completed unit, five stands of Cushite war lions and their handlers. There haven't been any large battles in the Imaro series to say if this is how they'd be used, but it seems like a good counter to the izingogo of Naama. An older version of the Nyumbani Wikipedia page had details about trained/magical black lions as well, used in ancient times to counter the azuth (saber-toothed ape-bull hybrids!), and while this has since disappeared, Mr. Saunders has said that they are still valid, so that will be a future war lion unit - I figure things are going to get bad enough for Cush and her allies to pull out all the stops.

"Huge, ungainly bodies writhed in arcane ecstasy beneath voluminous robes of iridescent cloth. The heads of the Erriten, human in proportion and thus absurdly small atop the sorcerers' gargantuan bodies..."

"The bodies thus revealed were horrible to behold: an unholy agglomeration of columnar legs; long, sticklike arms; and bloated torsos covered with tentacles that glowed with a green light that matched the bolts blazing from the spheres." (both quotes from the prologue to Imaro: The Trail of Bohu)

So that's the description of the Erriten, the chief earthly villains of Nyumbani, and this is my effort to build one - and for this I'm sure I will only need one, they're that BAD. The figure is actually an Irregular 2mm ent (IKF3) with a small piece of spare pewter put on his "head" to give him a new, "absurdly small" head. I've also tried to cut down the thickness of the limbs a bit. The iridescent cloth and writhing tentacles are going to have to depend on my paint job, although the "leaves" of the ent will give them texture.


  1. Fascinating use of the 2mm Fantasy Range from Irregular - I could never quite get a handle on how to make use of these, so I'm impressed with your ideas - loving the Lions from Wolf bases!

  2. I didn't mention it because the photos of the unpainted bases were lousy, but I've also converted the orc/goblin warband to Mr. Saunders' izingogo (basically man-sized killer baboons). Hope to get them painted over the holidays. Thanks for the comments here and on your blog as well!

  3. I loved reading Conan growing up. Hey did you ever see that movie Kull the Conqueror?

  4. Hi ArmChairGeneral, I was able to watch about 10 minutes of that movie, then had to give up. There seems to be a lot of action on REH movies these days (Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, maybe Conan again), so hopefully Kull gets his fair due. The Shadow Kingdom would be awesome, done right.
    Chris (CJR)

  5. Hi CJR
    I've "discovered" this site via SteelonSand
    These small scales fascinate me though I find them daunting still - I'll be watching your site for battle reports!
    Happy New Year

    The Shadow Kingdom would be awesome though "done right" sadly seems so unlikely I'm afraid :(

  6. Thanks Mad Carew, Shadow Kingdom would be great done properly (Peter Jackson might be the only person I'd have reasonable faith in). Some of Howard's other stuff is or will be on the screen - Solomon Kane (done), Bran Mak Morn, and a third Conan, so hopefully Kull will get a far better treatment than that terrible 90's film with Sorbo).