Character Building

His name was Weaver and he claimed that he was merely a travelling herbalist.

However, certain members of the party had seen him perform minor acts of magic and his pet crow appeared to be somewhat more intelligent than normal, so they believed him to be a mage…

Other members of the party had witnessed him slipping through the shadows, to suddenly materialise behind a sentry, and, after a brief struggle, leave the guard dead on the ground, eyes glassy and green foam dripping from the corner of their mouth. These party members assumed he was some kind of assassin…

Whatever the party believed, as Weaver would either launch into an elaborate tale that was clearly made up on the spot or merely smile, they learnt that if they came across an intricate, elaborate puzzle or trap, Weaver was the best person to deal with it.

Weaver was actually a 2E Bard, who’d taken the Riddlemaster kit and spent 2 additional slots on the Herbalism Non-Weapon Proficiency to allow him to brew some low-level poisons (with the agreement of the DM). He never used his bardic inspiration, because he was a bit of a self-serving, mercenary git. However, he was great fun to play and, unlike some of the party, when facing a rampaging red dragon, did not stand in the open on a stone bridge… so was able to tell the tale afterwards.

I recently came across his character sheet when having a sort out and thought it might be a fun exercise to see if I could recreate him using the Romance of the Perilous Land rules, as it does share some similarities with AD&D. However, as the RoPL Bard class features are all about performance and provide buffs for allies, debuffs for foes and minor healing (for some reason), the Bard class is not the best choice for recreating this character under this ruleset.

But if you select the Thief class, this gives you access to the full set of Thief class features (Sneak Attack at 1st lvl, Trapfinder at 3rd, Critical Stike at 5th, Disguise at 7th and Deadly Strike at 9th), a choice of Acrobatics, Bluff, Perception, Stealth and Thievery (choose 3 of 5), light and medium ranged and melee weapons and light and medium armour. Plus you automatically get a dagger, leather armour and set of lockpicks.

Now, if you combine this with the Assassin background from the Heroes of Avalon supplement (available for a very reasonable $2.00 here) you get Nature and Stealth skills as bonuses and get access to 5 talents that are only available to Assassins, including Poison Crafter, which allows you to “spend 10 minutes creating one poison with a single use” (there is a list of 5 poisons with specific effects within the supplement). However, if you take Magic Initiate at 1st level, rather than an assassin talent, this allows your character to “cast spells up to level 1,” which gives you the minor spellcasting ability that you would associate with the 2E bard.

So, we now have a 1st level Thief, with the Assassin background, who can cast 0 and 1st level spells, and when he hits 2nd level, will be able to craft his own poisons. This is basically what the concept of Weaver was when I tried to shoehorn him into the AD&D 2E rules, so RoPL actually made it easier to create this character. And there’s more…

Because the rules give an overview of each of the eleven kingdoms, based on my concept, I can easily slot him into the game’s background. So, Weaver (if that’s his real name) is from Lyonesse, and was trained by the Night Ward, a secret organisation of assassins that dispose of spellcasters in that land. Whilst King Meliodas officially denounces their actions, he privately appreciates their work (as he fears all spellcasters) and fails to crack down on their activity. However, when Weaver discovered his own spellcasting ability, he realised that if this talent was revealed, he would be the next victim of the Night Ward, so ran south. Finding Eastland to be a bit too lawless, he fled further south and ended up in Ascalon. Unfortunately, this was where he was caught and rather than compete in Hykaria’s death pits where criminals fight to reduce their sentences, is now working off his debt as an indentured ‘servant’ to Lord Talbot.

Now, once you have a character you want to play, you then start casting about for a miniature to represent them and having heard good things about HeroForge, I decided to see if I could translate the image I had in my mind’s eye of Weaver into an actual miniature.

So, this is the closest I could get to Weaver from my mind’s eye, so what will HeroForge charge me for having my own custom-built miniature? Let’s have a look…

$19.99?! And that doesn’t included shipping?!

Well, whilst it’s a nice idea, I think that’s a little out of my price range. However, as I am the Master of Web Fu and can generally find a figure to represent anything I want, I’m sure we can do better than THAT…

So, Dungeons & Dragons Critical Role Unpainted Miniatures Hollow One Rogue and Sorcerer Male, from Wizkids. Approximately a fiver (£5.00) for both figures, so I get a figure to represent Weaver for £2.50 and a weird sorcerer chappie to use elsewhere. Result!

And to be quite honest with you, I prefer the figure I found to the one I actually built, as it looks more like what I think Weaver should look like. AND I happened to find that my FLGS had one pack in stock, so I didn’t even have to pay shipping!

My Web Fu is Strong…

The Perfect Game?

With the resurgence in TTRPGs, which gained a big boost due to the COVID pandemic, as people discovered that they could spend an entertaining evening with friends slaying monsters over Zoom and other online platforms, this could be described as a “Golden Age” for gaming.

However, what if you’re new to the hobby and have had no experience of what is expected in these sessions? A new player, presented with weighty tomes setting out the rules that they believe that they must learn, can be somewhat daunted, especially if they’ve been nominated as the GM.

A search online can provide a plethora of GM advice, much of it contradictory and then there are those videos of “professional” gamers, such as Matt Mercer, that really don’t help that much, as you can begin to despair that you’ll never be good enough to actually run a game.

So, what makes the perfect game, if such a thing exists?

It’s actually very simple. The perfect game is one in which everyone enjoys themselves.

You don’t need to be the best actor in the world, characterising every NPC with unique voices, spent months crafting a fully realised fictional world for your players to adventure within or have memorised every rule of your chosen ruleset in minute detail – you just need to commit to the game, so that both yourself and your players have a good time.

Whilst it’s unlikely that your players will thank you directly, if you happen to overhear them later saying things like “Do you remember when we were trapped on that giant stone head in the jungle, surrounded by cannibal tribesmen, out of ammunition and we had to use flaming monkey carcasses to fend them off? That was wild…” then you know you’ve done a good job.

And that’s reward enough.

For those of you who still feel that you need further guidance, or just want to see what a proper game of D&D should look like, I would suggest you check out the TableTopNotch YouTube channel. This details a D&D campaign played by a group of friends who are actors/comedians who have never played a TTRPG before. It’s a truly entertaining watch and you can tell that everyone is having a lot of fun, even if they don’t always succeed at what they’re attempting to do. I came across it by chance and have been working my way through Season 1.

It’s rekindled my desire to actually play a game, rather than just talk about gaming, so I’ve been beavering away behind the scenes (hence the lack of regular posts here) putting together an introductory adventure for Romance of the Perilous Land. Once I start running this, I’ll be writing up these adventures and posting them here, but what format these will take I’m not yet certain. It will give me the opportunity to give the rules a thorough playtest, so at least we’ll find out whether they’re any good.

And on a final note, as I work for a haulage company and sometimes items genuinely “fall of the back of a lorry” and it costs more for the supplier to ship them back, I managed to score 5 full sets of official D&D dice this week. Result!

Romance of the Perilous Land – A Review

Now that I’ve got my grubby little hands on my copy of Romance of the Perilous Land (hereafter referred to as RoPL), I thought I’d do a review of the book and system. As this is the first time I’ve actually done a review, it may meander all over the place, so bear with me.

So, let’s start with the physical properties of the book itself. It’s a 256 page hardback, but quite dinky, being only 9 1/4 inches tall by 6 1/4 inches wide, so easily portable to your gaming sessions without causing undue stress to you shoulder. Full colour throughout, with the pages being glossy and designed to look like aged parchment, which doesn’t detract from being able to read the text. Lots of full-colour artwork, some full-page, with a mix of ‘classic’ looking art, similar to the style of a Ladybird Book of King Arthur, should such a thing exist.

Now the system is apparently derived from something called ‘Black Hack’, which is apparently “super-streamlined roleplaying game that uses the Original 1970s Fantasy Roleplaying Game as a base.” Which I guess means it’s based on the original Basic D&D from 1977…

Anyway, characters have 5 attributes:- Might, Reflex, Constitution, Mind and Charisma, which correspond to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence and Charisma in D&D terms. However, there is no corresponding Wisdom attribute. Generating scores is a simple matter of rolling 4d6 and keeping the best three rolls, which are then assigned to the attributes. Now, this is where we get into what I consider to be a strength of the system. These attributes, rather than being numbers which then generate sub-bonuses or penalties, are actually used during play. If you want to do anything, such as picking a lock, climbing a wall, or attacking something, you roll against the relevant attribute – and it’s roll under. You roll a d20, and try to get under your score, with a 1 being an automatic success and a 20 being an automatic failure. Similarly, all saving throws are rolled against the relevant attribute, rather than a sub-table. Trying to resist being charmed? Roll under your Charisma. It’s a simple. yet elegant system.

Once you’ve got your attributes, you select a Class from the six listed, which are Knight, Ranger, Cunning Folk, Thief, Barbarian or Bard. Knights are your armoured do-gooders, similar to Paladins but without the spellcasting ability, Rangers, Thieves and Bards are similar to their D&D counterparts, Barbarians are effectively Norse beserkers and Cunning Folk are your wizards. However, as magic is rare, only Cunning Folk can actually cast spells. There are no spell-casting priest or clerics in this game.

Each class has a specified Hit Dice, which only comes into play when going up beyond 1st level, as all players begin with a number of Hit Points equal to their Constitution score. This varies from d6 up to d12. They also get assigned armour and weapon proficiencies, which give them access to specific types of weapons and armour, divided into three categories; Light, Medium and Heavy. For example, a Knight has access to Light, Mdium and Heavy melee weapons, Light and Medium ranged weapons and Light, Medium and Heavy Armour. A Cunning Man (or Woman) has access to only Light melee, Light ranged and light armour. You can wear or use other weapons, but this automatically gives the character a ‘Setback’ on rolls.

I’ll digress here to discuss ‘edges’ and ‘setbacks’. These are effectively advantages and disadvantages, so if a character is attempting to do something and has a relevant skill (i.e. they are trained in Thievery, for example), they receive an ‘edge’. Using a weapon that your not proficient in means you have a ‘setback.’ The mechanics of this are very simple – you roll 2d20 and if your have a setback, you take the higher of the two rolls. If you have an ‘edge,’ you take the lowest roll.

Characters also get to choose three starting skills from a list their class has access to, which grant them an ‘edge’ when using that particular skill. All classes also get ‘Class Features’ which are special abilities only accessible by that class, the first of which is granted at 1st level and every other level after that (i.e. 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th level). Once a character reaches 10th level, they are at the top of their game and are considered to be legendary heroes, about whom epics are written.

Character also have access to Talents, and gain one talent at each level. Some of these give additional points to your attributes (which are not limited to your starting rolls and can go as high as 24) to giving additional abilities, like granting non-Cunning Folk the ability to cast low level spells or enhanced ability to see in the dark. Some of these are restricted to specific classes, but the majority can be taken by any character, allowing for a a great deal of customisation.

You also choose a background for your character, i.e. what they were doing before they became an adventurer, which give additional skills and some starting equipment, on top of what they get due to their class.

The final bits around creating a character are choosing a patron deity, if you so wish, and whether you belong to one of the heroic factions that exist in the Perilous Land. I will expand on the deities bit in a bit, but if you choose to belong to a faction, you are pretty much expected to join one of those that are allies of Camelot, so you can become a Knight of the Round Table, one of the Merry Men of Sherwood, a member of the Order of the Fisher King, the Fellowship of Enchanters or the Iron Hawks. These give minor benefits, but are primarily for roleplaying and motivational purposes.

Right, let’s talk about Gods. The gods of the Perilous Land are based on those from Celtic mythology and the religion is polytheistic. There are temples, chapels and churches, but no large religious buildings, such as monasteries or abbeys. I know, because I asked the designer directly. So, whilst it is inspired by Arthurian romances and the legends of Robin Hood and is a mythical analogue for medieval Britian, there is no Christianity or similar faith. There’s nothing to stop you from importing Christianity into your games, it’s just not part of the background, so no gallivanting off overseas to smite the infidels. Similarly, whilst you can select a player background of Priest, this means that you were a priest of Taranis, Nodens or Morrigan, and you won’t derive any particular benefit or powers from being a priest. The list of patron deities does suggest the types of people who worship these gods, so at present, it merely adds colour to your character. However, Scott Malthouse is planning on doing a supplement about the Gods of the Perilous Land, whereby you can take Oaths instead of Talents, thereby tying yourself more closely to your patron deity and deriving benefits from this.

Magic next. Magic is rare and wondrous and fairly low-powered compared to similar fantasy games. the spell list is quite small, but covers both healing, scrying and other magic. Cunning Folk start off with magic points equal to their Mind attribute and each spell has a points cost. If a spell is noted as ‘Instant’, you don’t need to prepare it beforehand and can cast it immediately, as long as you have the spell points remaining. However, casting is not automatic – you have to roll under your mind attribute, modified by the level of the spell you are casting. That’s right, you don’t have to be of a certain level to cast a certain level spell. If you can cast spells, then you can cast ANY level of spell, but the more difficult it is (i.e. higher level) the more chance it has to fail. However, if it fails, you can always try again, as it is not lost if it doesn’t work the first time. You can prepare spells beforehand (a bit like memorising spells in D&D) up to your total spell points, but if you wanted to keep a few points back for emergency instant spells, you can.

Zero level spells are things like ‘A Heavenly Light’ or ‘Sense the Presence of Magic’, up to 10th level spells like ‘Call Upon a Golden Dragon’ to ‘Resurrect the Recently Deceased.’ As you can gather, the spell names pretty much tell you what the spell does.

Regarding magical objects, these aren’t ten a penny like in most fantasy games. You have minor Magical Charms, Enchanted Objects, Legendary Weapons and Armour and the Thirteen Treasures of the Perilous Land. Cunning Folk can imbue weapons with temporary magical enchantments, but unlike certain other games, whilst the creatures are dangerous, they aren’t totally immune to normal weapons, so you won’t be left in the position of not being able to harm what you’re fighting.

The bestiary is reasonably large, covering normal and magical creatures, fairy folk, dragons, the restless dead, hags and giants. However, just because something has a name you’re familiar with, don’t assume it’s the same thing. Ogres in the Perilous Land are a bigger and more dangerous giant, and have two more Hit Dice than your standard giant, so don’t assume a party of 1st level characters can take out an ogre, like they would be able to in D&D.

Creatures only have a few statistics, which are in the most part derived from the Hit Dice. All creatures have Hit Dice, which generates their Target Number, which is what they need to roll under to do anything on a d20. So a 4HD creature will have a TN of 14 (HD+10 is the standard formula) and will have 4d6+4 Hit Points. There is a table which lists the standard damage at each HD level, so our 4HD creature will do 1d6+4 damage. The other stat creatures have is Armour Points. These are deducted from any damage sustained before actually sustaining actual physical damage. (NB: PC armour acts in the same fashion, so a character will have the first X number of points of damage soaked by their armour, before sustaining actual harm. These can be replenished after a battle, which is described as readjusting or fixing the armour). Finally, creatures have any special abilities noted, such as a poisonous bite or reduced damage from particular weapons. It’s pretty straight-forward and makes the stat block of creatures quite small, as you have everything you need in a few entries. And because it’s derived from D&D/AD&D, converting creatures is a breeze, as I’ll demonstrate below.

Right, if we look at the Monstrous Manual entry for a standard wolf, they have 3HD, 1 attack, Damage of 2-5, an Armour Class of 7, usually appear in groups of 2-12 and have no special attacks or defences. The stat block for a standard wolf in RoPL is HD: 3, TN: 13, HP: 3d6+3 (13), Armour points: 3, Attack: Bite (melee), Number appearing: 3-8, Special: If another wolf is within 5ft, the wolf gets a second bite attack.

So, as an unarmoured man in D&D/AD&D is AC 10, we can see that the 3 Armour points corresponds to the -3 AC adjustment, so we can use a similar formula for statting up something not in the rulebook, namely a wild boar.

In AD&D, a wild boar is 3+3 HD, 1 attack, 3-12 damage, Armour Class 7 and appears in groups of 1-12. So, 3+3 HD is greater than 3, so we’ll call it 4 HD, which means we get a Target Number of 14 and 4d6+4 hps (averaging out at 18 points), a 4 HD creature gets standard damage of 1d6+4 and the AC 7 is 3 Armour Points. We’ll knock the number appearing down to 1-8 and give it a special ability, so it now reads as follows:

Wild Boar

HD: 4, TN:14, HP: 4d6+4 (18), Armour Points: 3, Attack: Gore (melee), Damage: 1d6+4, Number Appearing: 1-8, Special: A target damaged by a gore attack must succeed a Reflex saving throw or become prone.

So, if the big pig gores you, there’s a chance it’ll knock you off your feet. As you can see, pretty simple to convert creatures across.

Finally, we have the background on the Perilous Land itself, which describes the eleven kingdoms that make it up, who rules them and notable places on interest in each kingdom. Whilst this is a relatively short section, it does give a flavour of each kingdom, so you get an overall idea of what it’s like and some plot hooks for playing in that area. There is no map in the book, however, which a few reviewers have complained about, which caused Scott to get one commissioned and released on DrivethruRPG, although a rougher version of this is also available on his blog, noted below. So, do you venture in Corbenic, ruled by the mortally wounded Fisher King, his kingdom reflecting the poison that is slowly creeping closer to his heart? Or head north the mountainous land of Escose, whose king send regular sorties out into the mountains to try and stem the growing giant problem, the volunteers being celebrated and feasted before they leave, as not many return? Or head into Sherwood Forest in Eastland, joining with Robin and his Merry Men as he tries to prevent the evil Queen Eleanor and the Sisters of Le Fay from harrying Camelot’s borders? The choice is yours.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my purchase and would recommend this to anyone who wants to run a heroic old school fantasy game. It’s ideal for those new to roleplaying, as it’s a pretty straight-forward system and didn’t cause me to re-read bits because I didn’t understand them. It may not suit those who prefer more ‘crunch’ to their games and if you’re looking for Feat-slinging 5E powerhouses, then go play that game instead.

As it derives it’s roots from the original D&D game, you can convert modules from these over to RoPL (and Scott gives advice on his blog – Trollish Delver – if you want to do this) and play in whatever world you want. There is wealth of free material on the above blog, that you can add to your game and Scott has released some additional supplements on both DrivethruRPG and Itch.io. The Osprey website also has a free scenario, errata for their published edition and a character sheet, all in both printer friendly and full colour version.

And if you have any questions regarding the game, you can contact him directly – I did and he answered me almost the next day, which was faster than I expected.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the Crow Knight has heard rumours of a Bugbear terrorising a village in Ascalon, so following his knightly code, must sally forth and do battle with this unnatural beast.

Frugal Gaming

Those who follow this blog on a regular basis will know that I like a bargain. Especially during these lean times we are currently experiencing.

To put this in context, let’s imagine that I’ve recently discovered RPG’s and, because Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular (allegedly), I’ve decided that I want to buy the core rulebooks, i.e. the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. According to Amazon, I can buy all three together for just over £100.

Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but forking out over £100 in one go is not something I do lightly – unless I need to repair my car or something. And this doesn’t take into account that I will still need dice and some kind of scenario, in order to run my first session.

However, as I own the PHB, DMG and loose-leaf Monstrous Manual from AD&D 2nd Edition, do I really need shiny new rulebooks in order to run a game of D&D?

The answer, of course, is no.

If you are fortunate enough to have the core rulebooks, in whatever edition, you can still run a decent game and the advantage is that if you need a scenario, the majority of 2nd edition AD&D modules can be located online – for my web-fu is strong. And you won’t get sent to sleep in the shed when your wife finds out you’ve spent money on things you don’t actually need…

As I’ve been gaming for nearly 40 years, I have accumulated quite a few gaming mags – from early editions of White Dwarf (before it became a house organ), Dragon, Dungeon and various indepedants, such as Valkyrie, GamesMaster International, RPI, etc. This means that I have quite a catalogue of scenarios for a variety of gaming systems.

When I first started role-playing, not knowing any different, I took it as read that if a scenario was written for a specific system, it could ONLY be played using that system. Obviously, as I grew older, I came to the realisation that this was not the case and have run at least one scenario from one of the gaming mags under three different systems – none of which were the system it was written for.

However, sometimes, with the best will in the world, you end up with a bunch of scenarios that would need a substantial amount of tweaking before they would work for a particular system. This is generally down to the ‘tone’ of the scenario. In these cases, I’ll look to see if there’s a system available that meets this tone, ideally either free or inexpensive.

So, I have a catalogue of what I would consider to be English medieval scenarios, so basically fitting into a slightly mythic, folkloric style background, which cannot really be played with AD&D without some serious tweaking – which would essentially take away the tonal quality of the scenario.

I’d put these on the back burner, but a chance email from Osprey Publishing had me browsing their catalogue of games, where I came upon Romance of the Perilous Land. This is described as “a roleplaying game of British Folkore.” I went online and checked several reviews of it and general consensus was good. A whole RPG in hardback for £25.00 which suited my needs. So, I put it on my wishlist and forgot about it.

Then I got another email from Osprey – this time advising me that they were currently having a summer sale and ALL their games were reduced, with 30% off their RPG’s. A whole RPG in hardback for £17.50? We’ll have some of that, thank you very much. (NB: Did check with the wife first and got the thumbs up, so I won’t be sleeping elsewhere).

The author of said game, Scott Malthouse, has his own blog – Trollish Delver – where he publishes additional material for the game, so another money-saving win.

So, if you’re in the mood for for some role-playing, don’t automatically go to your favoured online shopping sites or head to your nearest gaming store and fork over your hard-earned cash, as you’ve probably already got all you actually need, or you’ll be able to find it somewhere online.

Remember, just because something is new, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better.

Close Encounters of the Gaming Kind

Due to venturing out of the UK to bake myself in the summer sun and then my daughter’s graduation and moving her back home, this has not left me a great deal of the right sort of hobby time.

Rather than remain silent, I thought I’d post a bit of a retrospective piece.

Now, I’ve been a gamer (on and off) for nigh on 40 years and as I came into the hobby via tabletop RPGs, I’ve not only played many, many systems (including several that my friends/gaming group made themselves), but also attended several gaming conventions.

As a Brit, this was mainly Euro GenCon (when that was still a thing), although I did get the opportunity to go to actual GenCon in 1992.

Which brings me to the point of this post. If you attend a gaming convention, you do, on occasion, get the opportunity to interact with “gaming royalty.” I’m not talking about attending a seminar with Larry Elmore, where he discusses his artistic technique and creates an original piece of artwork before your very eyes (which I have done and was very cool), but those random encounters with famous gaming “celebrities” that give you geek cred when you tell your mates what happened – sort of geek “claims to fame.”

So, as I have a couple of anecdotes regarding this, I thought I’d share these with you all – because at least you guys will know who I’m talking about.

So, we’ll start with the aforementioned GenCon ’92…

Second day of GenCon ’92 and the guys I had come with were all off doing other stuff, so I was wandering around the main hall, looking at all the stalls, minding my own business, when I was stopped by a bloke who had noticed my t-shirt (“Die Laughing – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld”) and wanted to know if I’d bought it at the Con, as he wanted one the same. I regretfully advised him that I’d actually purchased it in the UK and not bought it at the Con. Then I looked at his name badge… it read “Mike Pondsmith.”

As in THE Mike Pondsmith, big cheese at R. Talsorian Games, responsible for Cyberpunk 2020, Castle Falkenstein and Dream Park (which was released at GenCon that year). My response to him, once I realised who he was, was “I just bought a copy of Dream Park,” for which he thanked me. Being a little shell-shocked, that was the extent of our conversation.

Still, it was pretty cool.

Rewind to (I think) Euro GenCon 1990. This was held at Pontin’s Holiday Centre, Camber Sands in the UK, between 30th November and 2nd December and was my first real gaming convention – and also the first EuroGenCon, which I didn’t realise at the time. The Ravenloft campaign setting had come out earlie rthat year and I was a big fan, so signed up for a one-round Ravenloft tournament, which as it was a newish setting, they’d brought a couple of the TSR staff from the US across to run this scenario. This was Bane of the Shadowborn, written by William W. Connors, who was one of the guests running this scenario. However, as the scenario was pretty popular, they had two sessions running, and I ended up with the other guest DM. Which was Jim Ward…

Yes, THAT Jim Ward, he of Drawmij’s Instant Summons, designer of Metamorphosis Alpha, co-author of the original 1st edition Deities & Demigods, etc. etc. Basically, a gaming legend.

And he killed me.

Well, he killed the entire party, but that’s because we were rubbish and hadn’t got the necessary stuff to defeat the Big Bad. But we had so much fun – I mean, this was one of Gary Gygax’s original players, so this guy knew how to run a game. I distinctly remember various players stating what they wanted to do, and Jim’s response was invariably “Well, wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that…” with a little twinkle in his eye.

So, two gaming geeky claims to fame – Mike Pondsmith liked my t-shirt and Jim Ward killed me.

But let’s finish off with an actual, genuine 100% geeky “claim to fame,” which can be proven to anyone who owns a copy of a particular TSR product, as if you peruse the credits section of Domains of Dread, which was effectively the third iteration of the Ravenloft campaign setting published in 1997, under the ‘Special Thanks’ section you will find MY name!

Obviously my contribution was enough that I was named, rather than being relegated to the “countless others” section. Look at me, sandwiched between Skip Williams and Steve Winter, both of whom I’ve heard of. I think it’s safe to say they have NO idea who I am…

Right, enough grandstanding from me. I’m sure those who’ve been indulging in our wonderful hobby for roughly the same amount of time as I have, have similar anecdotes, so I’ll open the floor to you all. What geeky claims to fame do you have? And it doesn’t necessarily have to be gaming related, so if you’ve had a pint with Patrick Stewart, then share your story.

“Spider on the Spot!”

Bearing in mind that I only had to paint a single figure white, then add spots to it, you’d think it wouldn’t take very long…

Au contraire, mes amis! I failed to take into account the consistency of my white paint, which needed several coats to give a suitable solid base of white. I initially painted the whole figure and supplementary stand with GW Corax White, which as I’ve mentioned several times in the past, is actually a pale grey. I then went over the Spot’s body and disembodied fist with Docrafts Blanc and the floating “spots” with Docrafts Noir.

And then a further coat of white… and another… and another.

Once I’d finally managed to get a level of whiteness I was happy with, I then gave the white parts a wash of Corax White, to define the musculature of the figure, which wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. However, it did give me a base on which to start adding spots, as shown below:

Now, there are various different interpretations of how the spots appear on the Spot, including a relatively popular version which has a single ‘spot’ in the middle of his face. However, this makes him look like the Marvel character A.D.A.M. Unit Zero, a character associated with Cable, so I decided to go with the original version from the Spot’s first appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man.

Now, you may think that adding spots of varying sizes would be slightly tedious, but it was actually quite cathartic. Although it did take slightly longer than I’d anticipated…

However, I think the time was well-spent, so I can now present my finished Spot conversion;

I have to admit, I am pretty happy with how he’s turned out and therefore decided to take several pictures of him, showing both his front, as above, and his back, as below;

And because I was particularly pleased with the expression I managed to get on his face, here’s a view of it;

The base was textured using a ball of kitchen foil, to give the look of concrete and then painted with several cost of my own mid-grey mix, which although does take several coats, does allow for a graduation of grey, which is quite handy. The white residue in the clear column is due to it being partially hollow, so when I filed the top down, it gathered in this hollow and wouldn’t bloody shift. Oh well…

Looks like Spidey has fallen afoul of the Spot;

Anyway, that’s my entry finished. As for the others;

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table has completed Captain Kremmen, Carla and Dr Gitfinger from Kenny Everett’s radio and TV shows and very good they are too.

Simon from Fantorical has used the HeroForge site to create character’s from his own Time’s Rambler graphic novels.

Keith from Dead Dick’s Tavern has completed both the obscure character Rainbow Boy and the Spidey villain Hypno-Hustler in all his 70’s Disco glory.

Dave from Wargame Sculptors Blog is working through the cast of that 80’s classic “Battle Beyond the Stars” and now has over half of these sculpted AND painted.

Matt from PM Painting has not yet posted his entry, having had to consign two attempts to the bin, but he’s still got time before the event finishes and if it’s anything like last year’s entry, it will be worth the wait.

So, another successful year of Forgotten Heroes! And you know it’ll be back next year, so you’ve got eleven months to come up with something…

Maybe 2023 will be the year of the Big Wheel…

X Marks… the Spot

So, having had to revise my initial plans, how far have I got turning this;

…into this?

Well, the initial part was lopping off limbs, so that was pretty simple. But how to replicate the Spot’s ability to throw a punch through another dimension?

My original idea was to take the plastic from a blister pack and using a hole punch, make two identical circles, then glue these to the stump on the Silver Surfer figure and the fist from the Hydra figure.

Whilst I did do this, creating a stand for the ‘floating’ fist proved somewhat challenging, so I had a bit of a rethink.

So, I had some transparent shafts from flight stands, but in order for it to be the right length so the fist was at the right height, this needed to be cut down. I then glued this to a 1 pence piece, then filed a groove in the top of the shaft.

The  reason for this was that I’d decided to replace my initial plastic discs with two small black buttons from the sewing box. I glued the spare fist to one of these, then glued it into the groove.

It was then just a case of adding Milliput to the base, texturing this and then filling in the holes in the button.

So we ended up with this;

The Silver Surfer was cut from his flying stand, then cut from his board. I then reduced the part he was standing on to two platforms under his feet. After filing these down, the figure was glued to a 2 pence piece and the base built up using Milliput.

After texturing the bases, the second button was glued to his forearm and the holes in the button filled.

And this is how this part turned out;

So, the idea is that the Spot punches through one of his ‘spots’ and his fist comes out of another one, which as this  on a separate base, means I can position this wherever I like – like so;

Obviously, I didn’t realise the button attached to the main body was at an angle until I’d put them together. However, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Once these are painted up in the matching colours, it should be more obvious that they are part of the same figure.

I think it works, but until it’s done, we won’t know for sure.

So, that’s my current progress. Be sure to check out the other participants;

Roger at Rantings from Under the Wargames Table is doing Captain Kremmen and crew, Simon at Fantorical is doing character’s from his own Time’s Rambler graphic novels, Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern has completed Rainbow Boy and is intending on doing a further character, whilst Dave is working on the cast of that 80’s classic “Battle Beyond the Stars” and Matt has yet to post anything, but is beavering away behind the scenes on his entry.

That’s all for this time, but join me next time when hopefully you’ll have spits before your eyes…

Redo From Start…

Sometimes, the best laid plans go awry…

I’d set aside some time Saturday night to crack on with my entry for this year’s Forgotten Heroes challenge, prepared all the bits I needed, with only my donor figure needing stripping of the various layers of paint that had been applied.

This did not go well. Having attacked the figure with various cleaning agents and tools, after an hour or so scrubbing the little git, I was left with a figure still caked with so much paint that you could hardly see any of the detail. So, after much cursing, I consigned him to the bin and then spent another hour or so searching through every box that possibly contained donor figures, which meant a visit to my garage and clambering around in the Aladdin’s Cave of Crap that I call my loft.

I could only find two figures which had possibilities, the first of which is this;

A 30mm figure of a “Steampunk female” from a game called Kaosball, which I bought a couple of years ago from Tritex Games at Salute. This is my “back-up” figure, which should my other cunning plan not work, will be painted up as Harley Quinn, as the outfit does resemble the one she wore in the Arkham Knight video game.

However, Harley is a little too… cool for Forgotten Heroes, as I generally try to do obscure (i.e. crap) characters.

The only other full donor figure I had was spare HeroScape Silver Surfer, as who needs two?

So, if we clip him off his flying stand and reduce his board down so that it fits on a 25 mm base, what can we do with him? If you ignore the coloring, he’s a generic, bald-headed chap in form-fitting costume.

My initial thought was to add some putty to his face to smooth it down a bit and make him into Lightmaster;

But, given what those who’ve posted this year so far have done AND taking into account that I did a blinding M.O.D.O.K. last year, I needed something a bit… more.

So, my revised entry will be the obscure Marvel supervillain, the Spot:

First appearing in Spectacular Spider-Man #97, Dr Jonathan Ohnn did not become the Spot until the following issue. He was attempting to replicate Cloak’s powers on behalf of the Kingpin, but ended up being able to generate “spots” that traversed another dimension, enabling him to attack at distance, as shown in the image above.

Now, rather than just repaint my spare Silver Surfer as the Spot, I’m going to attempt to replicate his ability to punch at a distance, by lopping off his right forearm and creating a separate base with his fist coming out of a “spot.”

Now, as the Silver Surfer is not actually punching, I needed a clenched fist, so I elected to take this from the figure below;

“Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place!”

As he’s Hydra, it will supposedly grow back – not sure the Hydra goons actually believe that, of course.

Anyway, that’s my new plan.

regarding the others taking part, Roger at Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has made serious inroads into Captain Kremmen and his crew, Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging has posted his first creation, Rainbow Boy, with more to come and Simon at Fantorical will be painting up some 3D-printed versions of his own creations from his Time’s Rambler graphic novels. Matt from PM Painting and Dave from Wargame Sculptors Blog are taking part this year too and I’m sure we’ll see something from them soon.

I mean, I can hardly talk – all I’ve done is tell you what I’m going to do. All because of fucking stubborn paint that won’t come off… *sigh*

Forgotten Heroes 2022

I can’t quite believe that this is the seventh year running that I have hosted this month-long “community art project”, but it’s back again this year, giving you all the opportunity to create that unique figure of a character who has been overlooked by the manufacturers.

That’s right, it’s time for Forgotten Heroes!

For those of you new to Forgotten Heroes, here are the rules, such as they are…

During the month of June, you need to produce a figure of a character who has yet to have either an official or unofficial character made of them yet or create your own version of character that matches your  vision of what that character should look like. Any scale, any genre, the choice is yours.

This can as simple as repainting an existing figure as a different character, such as repainting a Heroclix Blue Beetle as the obscure Marvel villain Goldbug, or converting an existing figure into something new, like re-purposing a Games Workshop Imperial Commissar as Marshal Law. Alternatively, you could create a figure from scratch, if your sculpting skills are up to it.

If you wish to take part, all you need do is comment on this post, stating you’d like to take part and providing a link to your blog or wherever you’ll be posting your progress. Your first post should inform us of the character you will be attempting to create, preferably with reference photos, so we know what you’ll be aiming for.

I’ll create a blogroll here, so we know who’s taking part and what they’ll be working towards.

So far, Simon from Fantorical Wargaming has thrown his hat into the ring, along with Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table and Dave from Wargamesculptors Blog.

But as it’s literally just been launched, there’s still time to join in, so let me know if you want to join us and I’ll add your blog to the list.

Now, not being as organised as previous years, I had to rummage through my box of figures to see what I had that could be repurposed for this year’s challenge. Luckily, I had a figure that had previously been rebased and painted, but didn’t really work for me, so got put to one side. However, I now have an idea and a purpose for this figure, so he will be stripped of his crappy paint-job and converted.

The base figure is the Dreamblade Knight of Tomorrow:

And the character I am intending on converting this in to? The Marvel hero/villain (depending on your point of view)… The Crimson Dynamo!

The Crimson Dynamo was Russia’s answer to Iron Man, and first appeared in Tale of Suspense #46 in October 1963, created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

Over the years, just with the various iterations of the Iron Man armour, there have been 12 different suits, the only unifying feature being the name and that it’s mainly red in coloration.

So, that gives me free rein to create my own version, taking elements from all the previous versions and hopefully creating something that is familiar enough that people will realise who it’s supposed to represent.

My initial thoughts regarding my base figure is that he requires a head swap, removal of his staff and ridged shoulder pads, similar to the picture above. I’m also contemplating adding a chest piece in the shape of a star, similar to the version below:

We shall have to see how successful I am.

Forgotten Heroes Assemble!

Monster May(hem): The Last Straw…

I’ll have to admit, I was getting a little concerned that I wasn’t going to get my “monster” completed before the end of May.

I’d sat down, fully intending on making some in-roads into everything I’d previously started, then discovered that the reading glasses I use for detail painting had snapped, meaning I couldn’t use them.

My mother-in-law had given me one of those magnifier headsets, with removable lenses, so I thought this would be an ideal time to try them out…

Shouldn’t have bothered. For something supposedly designed for this exact purpose, they were remarkably crap. The lenses are too small, so you’re almost cross-eyed using them and whilst they are standard magnifications, I couldn’t find one that met my needs. I ended up going out and buying a cheap pair of 3.5 magnification reading glasses for 99p – whichnis what I should have done in the first place.

So, the only thing I’d managed to do during this debacle was give the figure and base an undercoat of Docrafts Linen.

As this is pale yellowy-white, I thought it would give me a head start on making it look like straw.

I then lined up my yellow and brown paints to see what would be the best colour to go for next. I ended up using an ancient pot of GW Swamp Brown, which is more yellow than brown.

And now we were cooking with gas!

The next stage wad to provide some depth, with a wash of brown. Viewing various images of hay bales online, I decided that probably Docrafts Chocolate Brown would be the best option, so a watery solution of this was mixed, then liberally applied to the model. I also used the same colour, but unwatered, to paint the muddy base.

Looking at the model, I thought it looked a little one note, so went back online to se how others had painted it. Unsurprisingly, the first one that came up was the one from Crooked Dice’s website, followed by one on Brummie’s Wargaming blog and Simon’s version at Fantorical.

Looking at all three, I noted that both CD’s and Simon’s had varigations in the painting, which upon closer inspection of both the pictures and the model itself, I realised were actually branches/sticks lashed into it’s body. Looking at the brown paint I had, I decided they were a bit too brown, so mixed some Chocolate Brown with some Docrafts Dark Grey until I had a colour I was happy with. All the ‘sticks’ were then painted and some of the bindings given a highlight of Linen.

As I wanted the eyes of the Straw Man to look as though they were glowing, I filled the cavities with a generous wash of GW Mithril Silver, followed by a coat of GW Bogey Green, which I also used to touch up the straw round the eye holes, to look as if the light was reflecting from within.

I then turned my attention to the base, giving the broken planks another coat of Linen, then washed the mud part of tge base with Docrafts Burnt Ochre. The planks then got a wash of mid-grey, as wood tends to go this colour if left untreated and then weathered.

I was almost going to call it done, but something was niggling at me. If you’ve ever been to a farm or anywhere that has hay or straw, it doesn’t matter how well bound it is, you always get stray strands scattered about. That’s what was missing.

Luckily, the sewing tin had a reel of cotton the right colour, so several lengths were cut, then PVA painted around the figure’s feet. I then sprinkled these about, adjusting where necessary, until it looked right.

I think it adds a little something.

So, Monster May(hem) done and with time to spare. As I had to wait for the figure to dry, I decided to crack on with AND finish my Action Man-inspired figures.

First, the finally completed Bulletman;

Next, Atomic Man;

And yes, he does have the silver piping on his sleeves;

And finally, what was originally a HeroQuest plastic Fimir, but with a little Carrion Crow magic, is now The Intruder- “Action Man’s Greatest Enemy”;

And as the three above are “Forgotten Heroes” this leads nicely into the announcement for this year’s ‘community art project.’

For those who are not aware of what this is… where have you been? We’ve only been doing this every year since 2016!

Joking aside, if you’ve not taken part before, the “rules” are simple:-

During the month of June, you must produce a recognisable figure of a character that has either not had an official or unofficial figure made of them or has, but you want your own version.

Any scale, any genre – your choice. You want to paint up a GW Imperial Commissar as Marshal Law? Go ahead! You want to sculpt the ultimate version of Venom? Go for it! You want to use a discarded Hulk action figure head to make a 28mm version of M.O.D.O.K.? Um… I may have beaten you to it…

If you want to take part, just drop a comment on here and I’ll add you to the blogroll. Your first post should introduce the character, as if it’s a touch obscure (like when I did Bananaman) people may not know who it is.

Any questions regarding this, feel free to ask. At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun, so no need to take it too seriously and, if you do rake part, at the end of June, you’ll have a unique figure that no one else has.

Roll on Forgotten Heroes 2022!