In a Dark, Dark Wood…

After a flurry of emails back and forth between myself and my co-collaborator Steve on our Age of Unreason project, we discovered a slight flaw in our plans…

My initial idea was to use the time-frame of the French Indian Wars (1754 – 1763) as the overall setting for this project, as my Dark Haven thread required an isolated location in what would become Northern Maine and I thought this period offered the best options for the type of thing I was looking for. However, Steve had a slightly different period in mind, approximately 30-40 years further on…

Now, whilst both periods share a similar level of technology, you couldn’t really say they were the same campaign/project and it would mean that the shared location of St. Gilbert’s couldn’t really be shared – unless it exists in some strange pocket universe, time warp or a geographically shifted Bermuda triangle. Although, as Varian from The Fantastic Journey WAS initially disguised as an Arawak native, that could be a possibility…

So, we could have split the two threads into two separate and semi-related campaigns, but what would be the point in that?

As Steve possessed the lion’s share of the existing figures and mine were currently ‘on sprue’, it seemed more sensible to shift my time-frame forward, as my thread was not really event or time-specific.

So, we have decided that the Age of Unreason will be set in the 1790’s. America has fought and won its independence and the new government of the United States has decided that it doesn’t need a standing army, so the Continental army has been disbanded and replaced with individual state militias. But whilst revolution is no longer on the agenda of the American people, this doesn’t mean that other nations are immune to its effects, as the French monarchy are soon to find out.

The latter aspect of this will be where Steve will be concentrating his efforts, dealing with the French Revolution and those conflicts that arose from it. He will no doubt provide a bit more information on what exactly he will be doing, so I’ll leave that up to him to explain.

For me, as Dark Haven now actually exists IN the State of Maine, rather than one of the other innumerable names it laboured under as its borders shifted back and forth, I don’t have to worry about what the actual name of the province/colony/etc. was where the town is situated or who owns it.

γ€ŠEdit: As rightly pointed out by Bob in the comments below, Maine didn’t actually become a state in its own right until 1820. During the time selected for this campaign, it was still part of Massachusetts and was known as the District of Maine. I must check my sources a bit more thoroughly in future.》

Whilst my plans and themes have not altered – if you’re thinking a cross between Sleepy Hollow and Twin Peaks, you’re pretty much there – the make-up of my small group of hardy soldiers sent to Dark Haven has. As the area is now part of the United States, I can’t be really sending British redcoats into the woods – it will have to be Maine Massachusetts state militia, wearing a mix of hand-me-down Continental army uniforms and buckskins. As I had not yet assembled my troops, this doesn’t represent an issue for me.

So, no redcoats will be showing up in the Dark Haven thread.

Well, not living ones anyway…

But before I can send anyone into the woods, I do actually need to have some woods to send them into. Having already secured my remarkably cheap trees from China, I decided it was time to dip and base them.

I mixed up a jug of very thinned down PVA, to seal the flock on the trees and prevent any more shedding. The consistency needs to be slightly slimy to the touch, which means that it will seal, but not end up in big gloopy lumps all over your trees. The slight problem with this is that as the clump foliage/flock is absorbent, it will take a bit longer to dry. And it’s a bit messy.

I decided to do this outside on Saturday, thinking that I could peg the trees up in the sun and they would dry nice and quickly. Of course, the weather decided to take a turn for the inclement and it began to rain. Not being one to let the weather dictate what I can and can’t do, I did this:

That’s right – twenty dipped trees, suspended under my patio table, out of the rain. Where they stayed for the rest of Saturday afternoon, Saturday night and a bit of Sunday morning.

Sunday, being a day of Sun, hence the name, was a bit nicer. After dispensing with the outside jobs that required Man (as all the gardening tools are stored in a place where the spiders live – which is a no-go zone for my wife), I commenced basing my trees.

Selecting one, two and three hex Heroscape tiles and the relevant diameter drill bit that matched the trunks of my trees, I drilled twenty holes in the centre of each hex. I then pushed the trees through the holes, adjusted the rotation of the trees to get them to sit nicely together, then flipped each tile over and hot-glued the protruding trunk underneath. Unfortunately, some of the holes were slightly bigger that the trunks – whether this was the drill moving or different sized trunks, I’m uncertain – but it meant that not every tree is perpendicular to the ‘ground’. Plus some of the protruding trunks are a little too long to enable them to sit flush on top of other Heroscape hexes, so will have to be trimmed down a smidge.

But, this is what the entire ‘forest’ looked like once they’d been based, all crammed together:

And a low-level shot, showing what they look like from a miniature’s point of view, which also shows the wonky trees and bases that need trimming.

So, once they’d based in this fashion, you can then move them around to your heart’s content, combining them with other Heroscape hexes, to create a modular, robust and reasonably convincing landscape or battlefield, like so:

Now, I appreciate that these may not be particular ‘Dark’, but I think you’ll agree that I’ve covered the the ‘Woods’ part pretty well.

Whilst I shall be gaming in 28mm, imagine what these 10cm tall trees would look like with 15mm figures! Heroscape hexes are 1 3/4 inches across, for those of you unfamiliar with them, so the clearance between each trunk is just under this distance, so a fair bit of space to manoeuvre your figures about in or fill with shrubs and low-lying vegetation. Or Jackalopes…

Until next time…

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32 thoughts on “In a Dark, Dark Wood…

  1. Maine sounds a very dangerous place what with your campaign and most of Steven Kings books being based there.
    Your forest looks very effective as well Jez

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  2. Maine wasn’t a state in 1790, it was a province of Massachusetts, of all places. Mass was especially negligent regarding Maine during the war of 1812, so whatever militia you have traipsing through the Allagash will have to be pretty poor excuses for soldiers.

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    • Massachusetts is my ideal `go to` area for AWI: and for imagi-world gaming it is second on my list only to New Jersey and the dreaded Pine Barrens.Of course, Colonial Gothic concentrates on both these area with abundant detail (if not a little biased and in a very one sided manner), but certainly inspires me in that pursuit. But it is with the Ruritanian dream, and Baroness Orczy`s classic novels that my heart truly resides, especially the places she m-i-g-h-t have mentioned in the novels, but never got round to detailing (like a treasure trove of Middle Earth unexplored places Tolkien never got round with exploring for his readers). After all I`m sure Lord Percy Blakeney could have enjoyed many an intrepid rescue, as he sailed the Day Dream to sunnier climes, confounding Robespierre`s lesser known butcheries among the more `out sight out of mind` regions.

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  3. Small change. At least you didn’t have a pile of Redcoats painted already! Wait… In 1790 Canada wasn’t French any more! You still need Redcoats! Maybe some French soldiers returning in secret to recover a lost treasure? Still have plenty of dangers, and the shared campaign will be tons of fun.

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  4. loving those trees Jez. Sometime this month (or early into next) we plan to make a few silicon moulds and cast a load more trees for our own intrepid endeavours. Yours look simply incredible, but I do profess a liking for 40mm semi flats (like the Prince August range), and they`re crying out to be replicated by out home made production line hehe. The plastic ones we already ow (going back to my childhood) will be ideal for the challenge. But wow Jez, the ones you bought are divinely perfect especially when attached to Heroscape terrain tiles. I used to have EVERYTHING for Hersocape up to and including wave 8, but gave it all away in one of my early culling give away moments. But seeing yours makes me wistfully nostalgic for it all πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Steve. I did used to own the lava, tundra and dugeon sets, but sold them on – getting more than I actually paid for them initially, as by that time they were difficult to get hold of. I’ve still got two of the base sets, the swamp one, the forest one and (I think) three of the Marvel ones…well, the tiles at least. Enough tiles to create a variety of locales, both on St. Gilbert’s (using the swamp and road tiles for the basalt outcrops) and in Maine. I think I’ve also got at least three sets of ruins, so can make a good attempt at the destroyed monastery too. I think these trees work really well with the tiles and certainly give a few more options regarding terrain. Obviously, I’ll need a bit more jungle vegetation when I visit the Caribbean. And I also have a rather substantial ape toy…so COULD go all ‘Skull Island’ if I wanted to…lol

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  5. Ooooh you got the Heroscape ruins, I WISH I`d kept mine from the base set (I had two base sets one time), they`re sooooo cool. I`m jealous now hehe. Yeah Skull Island would be a good locale wouldnt it. Did that with my Pulp adventures some years back, was a real blast. Hmmm, I think I still got an old batrep or two for that hanging about somewhere.

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    • I can’t recall exactly how many sets of ruins I have – might be three, could be four. I will check and determine how many I ACTUALLY need…and you can have the ‘spare’ set. I’ll add it to the parcel I’m assembling for you.

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  6. I`m liking the slight alteration of course. The new defined state of being is slightly more open for interesting “what ifs” I feel. The trees are looking splendid too Jez. And you just made someone very happy with the mention of those ruins.

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    • Glad you’re feeling up to commenting, Hils, as I hear you’ve been under the weather.

      And I am nothing if not flexible. This joint project should be something we both can enjoy, so as it makes no real difference to my part to shift it forward a couple of decades (other than the colour of the uniforms) who am I to dictate terms?

      I should think that the parcel, once complete, should make you BOTH quite happy, as neither of you know the ENTIRE contents… πŸ˜‰

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  7. I don’t think the slight fast forward history wise will be to the detriment of this project to be honest, and might improve it a little in fact, anyway I imagine you will be playing fast and easy with history and reality if your past projects are anything to go by!

    Those trees really look the business, part of the problem with dense woodland is moving the blooming figures through it! So as a compromise I’d say you were just about right, you could always draw the curtains when you play, that would make it darker πŸ™‚

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks Roger. I do try and stay within the historical parameters I’ve set for myself regarding technology levels and general baclground, but as for ‘reality’…well, things tend to be a bit more interesting when you bend it a little. πŸ˜‰

      And I’m quite pleased with the trees. Not sure if twenty will be enough yet, but as another 10 would only set me back a couple of quid, I’m not overly concerned. Might see if the same vendor does palm trees, as I will be needing them too.

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    • Thanks Andy. It was your use of these trees that inspired me to give them a go, and I’m pleased that I did. As quite a lot of the action is goong to take place in the forests, I did need some a fair few trees.

      Just need to get my troops assembled now.

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    • I already had some conifers, but was sadly lacking in deciduous trees. As the area where the fictional town of Dark Haven is located has a mix of conifers and northern hardwoods (I did check this before just buying a bunch more conifers), I now have the right mix of trees. Plus, it means that I can use these trees for other games too.

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    • Thanks Phil. I am planning on tidying them up a bit, possibly dry-brushing a few with a lighter green to give a bit more contrast, but they are compleyely usuable as is. And the price is brilliant. Just goes to prove that you needn’t spend a huge amount to get decent terrain.

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  8. Actually, your trees spurred me on to motion. I had every intention of following your lead and the link you gave us to where you got yours from. But household bills hit us hard and heavy for a few weeks and meant ordering trees took a back seat. But himself being himself wanted trees NOW *grins wickedly* which is fair enough I suppose he IS Dungeon Mastering and playing in Chult after all (a tropical jungle locale for our D&D game), so he kind of needs lots of trees for the table top. Easy of course when we re playing theatre of the mind, using pen and paper, and all that `in your had` stuff.. but entirely a different matter when you are trying to recreate dinosaur infested lost worlds in miniature. So, knowing we couldn’t afford the cash to buy some trees, and knowing I still had some had silicone and rubber, I set to work making my own 40mm semi flats. The result is rather pleasing I must say.

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    • Steve did mention that this was the intention and I am rather curious to see the finished article(s). By ‘semi-flats’ are these flat one side and detailed on the other, so can be made in a single piece mold? I’m guessing here, you realise…lol

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        • Ahhh…now I understand. So still a two part mold, but because the detail is shallow, it takes less silicone than a standard figure and also less meyal or resin to cast. Still looks good in profile, but takes up less space. I’d be tempted to add extra rules for ‘skinny’ soldiers – less robust, but can fit through narrower gaps – like Flat Stanley. “Quick! Slide Trooper Potts under the door and we’ll catch those Prussians by surprise!”

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          • hehehehe, skinny soldier rules, I like that :)))

            Yeah semi flats (or just flats as they are usually called) comes from a generation just a bit before all of us (but not by much). They are still popular by old school gamers nowadays (which is why Stevie is so into them). I make a lot of his sculpts for him and either me or himself then make moulds from our creations and cast them ourselves. Sometimes we just buy the pro moulds and the lead and home cast that way. Its a fascinating branch of the hobby and is rather rewarding to make all your own toys this way. We had thousands of our own troops make this way at one time, from fantasy to tricorn. But most went the way of the dodo with the gradual culling of the collection. Strangely, he is starting to look at getting back into home casting again. Hmmmm what is it about getting old and mellow that makes 40mm and 54mm miniatures look so appealing to us older generation old timers.

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