Tuesday, February 16, 2010
On the terrain front, and also to help with 28mm VSF or Colonial skirmish gaming, I've been picking up some aquarium plant pieces, and today hit up a local dollar store (Dollarama) to see if they had anything. I did find aquarium plants, as well as regular plastic plants, that will do awesomely for the landscape of Venus or lost worlds on Earth (maybe even Vietnam too), but my real score were these for $2 apiece:
They're about 10x10", with 100 plastic grassy bits (elephant grass or maybe bamboo) per matt, snapped onto the underlying mat. I picked up 3, will probably go pick up more...they can be taken apart for customized stands, or I think the mat itself can be chopped up to create fields of elephant grass.
This will obviously work better for my 20mm stuff, this is a handy 25mm figure for scale. For those doing Charlie Don't Surf in larger scales than I, hopefully this is out there for you - going by the tag in the first pic, it seems to be a Dollarama special.
It will dwarf my 3mm guys, but perhaps I can call it bamboo and chop it down a bit, saving the cuttings for more scenery.
I'll supplement these with painted figures, I have a lot of old 25-28mm stuff around from the 1980's, plus I'll fill in with new stuff as needed (e.g. a better Brule will have to come from somewhere else).
Anyway, now for your consideration, I present:
Kull and Brule - yes, I know Brule carried a sword...and wore a kilt...and probably wasn't bald except for a ponytail...but this is as good as I could go in the mainly bi-racial (caucasian and asian) D&D lines. Kull is more the primitive Kull here, I imagine he's about to chop one of the stone tablets that stores Valusia's lengthy marriage codes. If needed, either of the two Conan figures below can sub in, I'm sure no one will call me on the eye colour...
Some new Thurian Age hereos: Thelo CurKail - freed gladiator (not his final figure, just a stand in for now), Dolyn from the Hills - soldier in the Royal Army, and Tjia the Half-man, double-sworded Thuranian freelancer (and runaway bride, of sorts). These all started life as RPG characters, so I'll present more background later.
Forces of the snakemen, using both lizardmen and snakemen from the D&D lines - the difference between a lizardman and a snake that walks seems pretty minor (unless your a snake or a lizard), so I'm using both freely. The bulkier looking lizards I'll call snakemen priests, i.e. the poorer fighters. The snakemen proper will be, well, snakemen warriors proper, a bit better with their skills (nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, etc.).
Of course the snakemen need their leaders, from a snakeman chieftain to a high priestess to the Serpent that Speaks hissssself to an angry snake demon.
Some other forces of evil, leaders and sorcerers.
Not all their enemies will be of flesh or scales, some will be of bones (need more of dem bones tho).
Some of the creatures I picked up - armoured apes, an angry giant ape, and a demonic minotaur type guy.
Two versions of Conan (and backup Kulls) - his barbarian form and his soldierly/kingly form.
More characters, Conan liked his swordswomen.
And some others, including the four guardsmen on the left who will serve as Red Guards for now, even though they aren't too red. I like the swashbuckler, need to find some more of those.
My first battle will probably be a small re-creation of the battle between Kull and Brule and the snakemen from The Shadow Kingdom. Kull and Brule each add up to being their own warband pretty much, and I'll use all my snakey legions against them.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Acheron is the remaining lands of the Old Race (aka Giant-Kings), who once ruled all of Thuria and have "100,000 years of history". The Old Race are long-lived wizards, with demon-tainted blood that gives them claim to be descendents of Set, the Serpent-Lord. They worship the rest of the Old Ones as well, and do so differently than their human subjects, on more of a personal relationship. However, their worship and black sorcery does require human blood and/or sacrifice to work (Note: this is all fiction, in case that wasn't clear).
Humans are their subjects and slaves, and have been since the beginning of time. The original humans they encountered (not the modern Thurians) at the dawn of time worshipped the Great Serpent (aka the Serpent That Speaks - not Set), and the humans have since merged the two religions and the Giant-Kings haven't really noticed. The humans under their rule also worship the Giant-Kings as blessed by Set. Despite being near-gods, the Giant-Kings haven't avoided getting jiggy with their subject women, resulting in hybrids identifiable by their height and pale complection, and talent with dark arts.
The human and hybrid populations grow much faster than the Giant-Kings and do much of the land's grunt work, leaving the Giant-Kings to rule, practice their dark arts, and lord around as living gods. The Lost Lands that separate Acheron from the Seven Empires (and anywhere else of note) have helped the Giant-Kings slip into myth and legend, but these myths and legends are still active and still plotting. They have spies and agents in Valusia (e.g. Guron, high priest of the God of the Black Shadow) and elsewhere, with the aim of regaining their former glory. The current ruler is King Ahotep.
Their capitol city is Luxor, on the Sea of Snakes. Additional cities are Sabatea, Erkulum, and Qarnak. The main river in the country is the Nilus, which later becomes the Styx, post-cataclysm. Their architecture is monolithic, some of the Hyborean Age colossal pyramids of Stygia are theirs. In most cities their architecture is sort of a suped-up real world Egyptian - stepped pyramidal apartment complexes for temples and the middle class. The poor live in block hovels, the true elites live in single pyramids. In other cities, their architecture is Petra-like, built into the sides of cliffs and hills. Generally their buildings are of black stone, but others are sandstone in colour, and all have towers or spires of a dark purple.
Their military has an Assyrian and Hittite flavour, with elite units of four-horse chariots, followed by spear-wielding cavalry, supported by mounted archers. On foot they have light, regular, and heavy spearmen, the first two being from the city levies. They also have light and regular foot bowmen, and the levies also raise slingers. The foot elite are the guardsmen of the king, armed with sword and carrying a shield.
In other news...last night was spent wrestling with polyfill, today I've been spray painting some other pieces and am about to go for a re-match with the polyfill. Had some good news this evening - today was a provincial holiday butI forgot that means the post office (federal) was still at work - so when I opened my front door to take out the recycling, what should I find but my order of pre-painted plastic miniatures (from the D&D line). So a future post will be on those - Kull and Conan and various friends and enemies.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The residents of Thule are a generally dark-haired, Viking-like race, with an architecture of stupas (domed brick/stone buildings), and nothing larger than a town - and only one of those, the capitol of Skalauk. Otherwise it's comprised of villages with a temple, tombs of past village chiefs and storehouses all of stone/brick; everything else in the village is of timber. The political structure is feudal, with small armies and no national leader.
Militarily, they sure look impressive - the elite warriors are armoured with plate cuirasses and helmets, and armed with swords. They ride in chariots or war-sleds pulled by domesticated polar bears (smaller than our modern polar bears) or reindeer. Some also ride reindeer, and the real heavies of the Thurian Age are their Imperial Mammoths. Run of the mill warriors of Thule are armed as axemen, spearmen, or bowmen.
Thule was up next for my tour of the Thurian Age as I've been busy basing some units with a snowy theme. I've been taking pics along the way, but have one more step to do before I post anything. Otherwise I'm in the midst of a bunch of other terrain bits - snake statue, dragon statue, sphinx, Splintered Lands house, tower, ship and castle.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I'm looking to get another one, but for now this one will be done up as the good guys' ship, with a darker brown base colour and light brown decks. I'll spray paint the base coat, so I'll lose the plank and cut-outs the puzzle comes drawn with, but there's no way I'm painting in between the lines for all of this! I thought of spraying a lighter coat to let the lines show through, but I don't think I can keep that consistently applied.
The ship comes with sails, but I'm not going to use the mainsail (but will attach the yardarm later). I'm going to print new banners doublesided on cardstock and then trace the outline of the original banners onto the cardstock, allowing me to customize this for the fleet of Riversend.
The bad guys' pirate version will be mainly black. Some MegaMini's rowboats will also come in handy, for in-harbour boarding actions.
I figure I'll base my Splintered Lands minis on pennies, so I tested out how much room the deck of the ship has - it held these 10 pretty easily, so I think a decent fight could be had.
On the pirate ship I'll probably cut down on some items - the spindle will go, for one thing.
I also tried the ship out with some 25mm figures sitting out for priming (testing Gesso) - they look ok too, so I figure up to 32mm will be ok, allowing me to use in other settings (e.g. I have Kull and Conan lookalikes from D&D's collectible miniatures games coming).
My default 40-42mm test, these guys are too big, they make it look like a racing sailboat.
Earlier this week I went looking for a rocket-shaped birdhouse I'd heard was at Michael's, and while I didn't find that, I did find this:
Only $8.50, and if I had the patience I could have held out for a 40-50% off coupon, but there were only 3 on the shelf and I didn't want to lose it. There was also a log cabin that might work too, but it was pricier and there was a perch or two that would need cutting off.
I figure this will be a bad guy's remote fort for the Splintered Lands setting. I'll add an upper story door (sort of like a Dutch door thing), and a door and iron bar gate for the lower entrance. I'll coat with textured stone spray paint, except the roof tops, which will be done as wood. Now I need to decide if I need the two I left behind in the store...
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Or, as the packaging says, a kogg. This looks like it will do nicely for the Splintered Lands setting, I think I may want another as it may look a bit silly having a boarding action with only one ship. I was doing rapid scale calculations while standing in the aisle...at about 15" long, at 25mm (1"=6' more or less) that would put it at 90', which is about the size of a real cog, if memory serves. Not sure about deck space yet for fighting on, will try to build it this week.
The sphinx is going to take a bit of work, it looks like layers of wood stacked on top of each other...which is what it is. I think some polyfill or plaster of paris or something will be needed, I'll have to do some reading to find a good material. I wil probably leave some of the wood exposed as it could be painted up as the blocks that form the core of the sphinx. I might even put in the doors that are rumoured to be there (or maybe are there, my sphinxology is a bit behind). Maybe need a second one of these too, one painted up more strangely than the other.
Also sorted out my tile plans, which you'll recall from a previous post. I decided to use a different (way cheaper) tile type for anything I'm going to paint over, like a savannah skirmish board set, or red Mars, or urban areas, or the moon (etc.). I got 45 12"x12" tiles for $15. I may use these for 6'x4' tables as well, but it starts to eat up spray paint and at a certain point I might as well buy a professionally done game mat.
The nice, quintupally (sp?) expensive brown tiles will be for the desert and Mars skirmishing, and I picked up enough of those today for 3'x3'.
So my terrain basing set-up so far looks like:
Europe-esque (inc. beaches) - Terrainguy mat with beach and water OR pale green bed sheet from remainder bin
Savannah skirmish - Yellow and green painted tiles
Savannah big battles - pale green bed sheet (for now)
Mars/Desert skirmish - brown tiles
Open seas - blue bristol board
Getting a hex map for air wargaming is my next objective, but not an urgent one.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I didn't find the sphinx, but I did find a skeletal snake for $1.50 that I've sussed out three uses for (now I gotta go back and buy two more of the things though!). The first use will be as a full model, representing a statue that can be used as a scenic piece either indoors or out.
This is the thing head on, and below is from the side, with our 40mm lady again standing in for scale.
I'm thinking of trying to paint it a jade colour, maybe starting off with black spray paint, then green, then maybe with some lighter highlighting afterwards. It came with googly eyes, but I'm going to use some plastic jewel pieces that you find in craft and dollar stores, my plan is for red (ruby) but may have to go with clear (diamonds).
If you just look at the head, I can think of two things I'd like to do with it on its own. The easy one will be to use it as an idol hanging from a temple wall (Kull anyone?), maybe done up in brass (ruby eyes would look good in that scenario), with a blood-stained altar below.
The second option will be to have it as part of the external entrance to the temple or some subterranean cavern, the sort of thing where you have to walk into the snake's mouth to gain entrance, with steps leading down once you're in.
Hmmm, now that I think of it, a third use would be to use the two pieces that make up the "bread" in the head sandwich and turn them on their side, so the tip of the snout meets in the middle, sort of forming an arch...guess that means three puzzles to buy tomorrow!
Now what to do with the bodies? I'm thinking with some strategic cuts, they'd make good "bleached bones of an ancient leviathan" scenices, for everything from 2mm fantasy up to 28mm skirmish. One scenic piece of the bones stretched out in the desert, another of them half-embedded in a cliff wall, maybe covered in loam in some dark forest, that sort of thing.
In other purchasing adventures, I picked up some 1/72 Airfix WWI infantry for the British, German, and Americans, so I guess I've started a "Through the Mud and Blood" project too... I also picked up a 1/720 model of the Hindenburg, for WWI and pulp aerial adventures.
Friday, February 5, 2010
So when I came across Splintered Light Miniatures' Splintered Lands range, I resisted as long as possible. One reason to resist was as a biologist I didn't like the all of species X (usually carnivores) are bad, everything cuddly is good. However, before Christmas, while in a skirmish mood, I picked up the well-regarded Song of Blades and Heroes rule set, then while accidently cruising through SLM's website again, I noticed the Splintered Lands mini's were matched with a sourcebook for SBH.
That got me thinking in the background while I worked on some other projects, and then I came up with the idea of using the mini's for more than a single species (e.g. hares being painted as a couple of species of hare/rabbit) and creating a background storyline of invading species, a real world biological concern. I also ditched the goblins, kobolds, and dwarves from the scene, but kept the minotaurs, satyrs, fauns, and lizardmen; the first three now belong to the invading side, and the lizardmen also being split based on the species I will paint them as. It will get a bit complicated with good deermice vs. bad housemice, but the starter kits provide plenty of variety.
So five more books for SBH later (I picked up the three expansions plus Splintered Lands PLUS the Mutants and Death Ray Guns ruleset), with $100 of well-armed animals on the way and a bit of doodling on paper, followed by hexmapping, we have:
To the north are what I'm just calling the Homelands, village-states with most villages being the home of one of the good native species (some villages are polyglots though). Across the Sea of Strangers lies the Empire of Horns, source of the Invaders - geckos, European hares (the Homeland is NE North American centric), Norweigan and black rats, housemice, swift foxes, shorttailed shrews, minotaurs, fauns, and satyrs (and more). The area of the homelands outlined in red is what the Invaders have conquered to date. Each hex is a couple of miles across.
While starting this new project up, I was in Michael's using up a coupon, when I came across their selection of Creatology wooden 3D puzzles. I'd heard about them before, but decided to flip through them to see if anything interesting came up. For $1.50 Cdn. I bought this castle and with some textured stone spray paint turned it into a facade for Highcastle, home to the deermice. It can't really be fought in or on, but can be fought in front of.
This hopefully gives some indication of scale. The lady is a Crimson Skies hero clix figure, so about 40mm. Way bigger than the 15-18mm animals, but it gives you some idea of size, I think the Splintered Lands figs will fit in nicely.
These are the roof pieces (they fit onto the pointy bits in the previous pics). The wood came with brick markings, which got sprayed over on the main structure, but I've painted them over here in black, then filled in with cranberry wine for the roof slates.
I'm not going to fool anyone that I've recreated Helm's Deep, but I think it should look great as a fairy-tale terrain piece.
My tip to give you the edge is paint after assembly; I tried to be efficient and just spray the boards before punching anything out, but needed to re-spray everything anyway.
There's a London Bridge puzzle for $7 I'm thinking of now; just not sure how often I'd have anyone skirmish on it or near it.
So I threw together some bases, also a learning process, and then finally got the bases sealed and now joined up with their jeeps and trailers in small vignettes. Here's a group shot and a couple of close-ups:
Thursday, February 4, 2010
She's an ancient land by time of Kull, sophisticated and wealthy but also decadent and stifling in its antiquity. With thousands of kings (apparently no ruling queens) in her past, the country is pushing 20,000 years of history (I set it around 22K). Its origins have been lost to history, although we do know its ancestors came from the east and warred with the serpent-men who rule the Seven Empires area after they had previously thrown off the yoke of the Giant-Kings.
By the time of Kull, Valusia is starting to fade, although in that way nations have of fading without really realizing it, with everyone in denial - eating, drinking, and being merry, and not noticing the barbarians at the gate (although in certain circles they do make snide comments about the one on the throne). Besides the barbarians at the gate (a small colony of Atlanteans on the coast), there is also a colony of Picts in Valusia on the border with Farsun, the Picts now having been allies of Valusia for a thousand years. Prior to that the Picts were also raiders on the coast.
The analogue I like to use to get a feel for Valusia is India, with ages sitting upon ages, grandiose architecture, and a history that goes back into legend.
Culturally we know the Valusians make use of slaves and have gladiatorial contests, eventually the gladiators can earn their freedom. They use dungeons for prisons (as opposed to labour camps, I suppose), and face bandits in the hills and mountains. The capitol is also called Valusia, a.k.a. the City of Wonders, a.k.a. the Crystal City of Valusia. Valusia itself is also known as the Land of Enchantment.
The Valusians seem to worship the mainstream world gods, but do allow the worship of Set (one of the Old Ones) to occur, at the Temple of the Serpent in the cities, but these are carefully monitored (at least under Kull) to make sure there isn't any crossover with the Great Serpent (the Serpent That Speaks, god of the serpent-men). It appears the Valusians have lost all real-world connection to the Giant-Kings, so they wouldn't be aware Set's temples could be a vector for intrigue coming from Acheron. Similarly, in a remote Valusian mountain city lies the Temple of Everlasting Darkness, dedicated to the God of the Black Shadow (another Old One), formerly governed by Guron. There's also a temple to the Great Scorpion there (you'll just have to read the stories for more on that).
Administratively (as lousy as that word is to describe the fantastic kingdom of Valusia), Valusia is broken into baronies, which can be used interchangeably with the term provinces. Technically though there are only two provinces, the large jurisdictions around the cities of Kamula and Valusia. Other cities have smaller jurisdictions around them that they oversee, mainly in terms of food production, which gives a bit of independence to all cities relative to the baronies they're found in. The Pictish colony is also a self-governed jurisdiction, appointing its own ruler.
The baronies are hereditary, passing from father to son (again, no female nobles seem to rule). Cities are ruled by a count, officially appointed by the king, but by tradition these are hereditary positions too.
Here's my list of the baronies, their capitols, and any notes on them. Those in italics are canon or pseudo-canon (for some reason in some editions of the stories names were changed from the originals - I've used the originals, but kept a couple of cool ones). The rest are made up by me for gaming purposes. The format for the list is "Barony - Capitol (notes)".
- Blaal - Blaal (also contains the city of Karaban and the Forbidden Swamp)
- Northern Shore - Mikkar
- North Marches - Northam (also has the Skull of Silence)
- Varana - Varana (also has the village of Hawks)
- Nabar - Zarawar
- Legan - Rowanbor
- Urungal - Urungal
- Strathspey - Strathspey
- Kachvar - Btoleny
- Alnakata - Kolderkon (also has the Tomb of King Kalenius, and Kolderkon is based on the RPG city of Ptolus)
- Yonla - Yonla
- Juven - Juven (also the Lake of Visions)
- Sylvilia - Wood
- Baradusa - Baradusa
- Yultana - Fanara
- Kartu - Komahar (also the Temple of Everlasting Darkness)
- Pictish Colony - Gat-nir
- Province of Kamula - Kamula
- Province of Valusia - City of Wonders (also the Forbidden Lake)
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
To begin with, however, while Commoria has been Valusia's hereditary and frequent enemy, of late under Kull Valusia has been at war on other fronts. Shortly after becoming king, Kull destroyed the Triple Federation of Farsun, Zarfhaana, and Verulia (the latter being my own assessment - it explains some of Verulia's interest in intriguing in Valusia). Kull also led his army into Grondar, deposing the sorcerers/demons who ruled there and installing a king, albeit one with ties to Valusia that come to haunt him later. Along with Commoria, Valusia has also had frequently nasty contact with Atlantean raiders, up to 500 in number coming ashore along the coast. Presumably similar in style to Viking raids on the British Isles in the late Dark Ages.
Valusia has two strands to its military. First there is the Royal Army, with significant mercenary contingents, under the direct command of the King and headquartered in Valusia (the city). The second strand is the Great Army, which is paid for by the state (out of state revenue/taxes) and under the overall command of a general. It is broken down into regional and local elements that are stationed across the nation. The Great Army also has a significant mercenary component, but this is less varied than the Royal Army, or at least the Royal Army as established by Kull.
The influx of mercenaries arises from Valusia's aged, decadent state - the citizens have it pretty good and aren't interested in a life in the legions. There are obvious modern parallels, as well as reflections in the later days of the Roman Empire.
Mercenaries are from the Pictish Isles, Lemuria, Atlantis, Kaa-U, Mu, and the hills of the east. All of these types are in the Royal Army; only Lemurians, Atlanteans, Mu-ians, and hillmen will be found in the Great Army. Generals and lower leaders will also often be from the mercenary ranks.
There are no feudal levies, or any feudal system at all, in Valusia. The barons are allowed their own small forces, essentially bodyguards, which keeps them from waging overt civil war or attempting a coup. As long as the Royal Army and the Great Army are loyal, the king will remain in power; and I'm not too sure if the king would need both to remain loyal either.
Native Valusia troops form the heavy and medium cavalry, the Red Slayers and Red Guards, bowmen from the mountains, and heavy and light footmen.
A breakdown of the troop types found in Valusia would therefore look like this:
- Pictish light foot (curved swords)
- Pictish javelinmen
- Mu-ian heavy swordsmen
- Atlantean spearmen
- Kaa-U short spearmen
- Lemurian bowmen
- Valusian bowmen (tall mountain men)
- Valusian heavy spearmen (spear + shield)
- Valusian light footmen (sword + shield)
- Allied Pictish warbands (horse archers with curved swords)
- Black Squadrons (elite)
- Black Legion (elite foot - say spear + shield)
- Red Slayers (elite of the elite lancers)
- Red Guard (king's bodyguard, subset of the Red Slayers)
- 2 x 500 Pictish horse archers (allied warbands)
- 2 x 1000 Lemurian bowmen
- 1 x 500 Red Slayers
- 1 x 100 Red Guard (either as a leader unit with Kull, or added to the Red Slayers)
Next up for the Thurian Age will be more on the rest of Valusia.
The warband is wearing quilted torso armour, black leather kilts, and most are wielding their bow, but I painted some waving their sword around. Most with swords in hand have their bow on their backs, and some of those with bows have swords across their backs.
My painting sequence was: base -> horse base colour -> legs -> loins -> torso -> arms and head (both bare flesh in this case) -> hair (or the occasional baldy) -> weapon(s) -> mane and tail -> spotting/dappling on horse.
Nothing special in the method, and it worked ok...no muscle twitches while adding the spotting saved on the angst. But I did decide to change things up when I get to my zebra-riders for Imaro. That will be a more challenging job, so I'm going to add the stripes (probably black added to white) before I start on the rider. The riders will have a lot of exposed flesh anyway, and they'll be dark-skinned obviously, so the occasional stray daub won't be too obvious...probably only obvious to me, actually.
Anyway, onto some pictures (pics of Picts, so to speak). I couldn't decide if they looked better with or without the flash, so for your consideration you get...both.
And some close-ups, showing a bit more detail (but also giving away the illusion a bit too).
Next up should be the Red Slayers and the Red Guard, but I've also started the process of painting up the bases for Lemurian mercenary foot archers (20 bases!) and Acheronian heavy chariots.