Where Be Monsters?

When I start a new project, especially one based on a specific genre, historical period or location, I always try to base the mythology of the world I’m building on relevant myths, legends and folklore.

For example, my Tales of the Black Museum is my version of Victorian London, viewed through the lens of Gothic literature, but sprinkled with appropriate creatures sourced from British folklore.

It’s sufficiently familiar for people to feel that these adventures might come from the lost notebooks of Doyle, Stoker or Wells, but also different enough to exist in its own right. I like to subvert expectations, but always strive to ensure that whatever world I create has its own internal logic and that any thing that does appear is appropriate to the setting.

I am approaching the Age of Unreason project in the same vein. I could be lazy, as some of the ‘Weird West’ games that are currently popular have done, and just ‘re-skin’ the standard horror tropes – the vampire, the werewolf and the zombie – in suitable attire for the setting, but given that the mythology of the Native American tribes has a vast panoply of strange creatures and entities that could be used, where’s the fun in that?

Of course, the problem with straying off the beaten path is that it can be slightly tricky to find a suitable model to represent the particular creature you want to include in your game. Plenty of options for depicting creatures from Greek mythology, but Mythic India…not so much.

Luckily for me, there is a company that specialises in producing a range of tribal warriors and ‘spirit beasts’ from the Americas and Pacific Islands…and that company is Paymaster Games.

Their range of figures is for their own set of wargames rules – Going Tribal: Warpath – which pits various pre-contact indigenous tribes against one another, and includes rules for 82 ‘spirit beasts’ with which to bedevil your tribal warriors. Both the rules and associated miniature range can be viewed and bought from their eBay store, which can be found here.

Now, as my fellow blogger Harry of the War Across the Ages blog, wanted to express his gratitude for the support, encouragement and inspiration that my own blog had given him, by sending me a small gift, this was an ideal opportunity to get a couple of figures from their range.

However, whilst I may crave Uktena, the Great Horned Serpent or Mishibizhiw, the Underwater Panther, you don’t take the piss when offered an unsolicited gift, so I went with smaller models, namely the Deer Woman and the Basket Woman.

The Deer Woman or Deer Lady is an entity primarily associated with fertility and love, but whilst mostly benign, it does have a reputation for luring promiscuous men into the woods to kill them. Ideal for my nefarious purposes. Whilst not specifically associated with the tribes located in Maine, the Iroquois have stories of this creature and that’s close enough for me.

The model is a one piece metal casting, supplied with a lipped plastic base. Naked from the waist up, but modesty preserved by her long hair, her voluminous skirt swirls away from her deer legs beneath. Available for $7.00 (about £5.22) from the store.

The Basket Woman or Basket Ogress is a bogeyman figure of the Northwest Coastal tribes, a hairy marauder that preys on naughty or careless children, scooping them up in her claws and carrying them off in a back-mounted basket to be devoured at her leisure. The tribes of Maine have a similar creature called a Kukwes, which seems to be the male equivalent, but that’s also close enough for me!

Available from the store for $8.00 (about £5.97), the figure comes in three parts and is cast in flexible resin, like that used by Black Scorpion Miniatures. The Ogress comes in two parts – main body and right arm, with the left arm holding a snatched child as a separate part. The third part of the set is a fleeing Indian child, which can be based separately or used to create a vignette.

A couple of interesting, well-sculpted and, above all, different figures to add to my menagerie of horrors of the North Maine Woods. A generous and appreciated gift from Harry, for which I thank him.

So, if you’re planning on venturing into the mythic vistas of either North or South America, or paddling your canoe to one of the Pacific Islands, and want suitable creaturs to menace your adventurers, look no further. However, bear in mind that as Paymaster Games is based in Seattle, you will have to factor in shipping costs on any order.

Paymaster have just closed their fourth Kickstarter and I’m already eyeing up some figures from this expansion – including Maui, the Polynesian Hercules, recently made more well-known by appearing in Disney’s Moana, voiced by Dwayne Johnson. I mean, who doesn’t want the Rock on their tabletop?

Until next time…”You’re welcome”*

(*Moana gag, for those who’ve seen the movie.)

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20 thoughts on “Where Be Monsters?

    • They are rather nice, aren’t they? It’s a very well-sculpted range and some of the figures I crave purely because they look so nice. No actual use for them (yet), but they are rather tempting.

      I probably will end up with a Maui figure although replicating his tattoos might prove a bit of a challenge.

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  1. Red faced… You are very welcome Jez. Anxious to see them painted and in action. I have my eye on several of the Aztecs from that range. I thank you again for pointing out a new line of minis.
    What I find truly inspiring about your gaming is what you talk about in this post. The familiar twisted a bit to devious purposes. So cool.
    Keep inspiring us all Jez!

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    • I always give credit where it’s due, Harry. And I can see the allure of certain of those figures – Ghostbusters, pulp adventures in the Amazon, weird monsters to menace Alaskan truckers… i think it’s a range of figures that needs wider publicity, as it’s pretty unique in a market that has many ranges of the same sort of figures.

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    • Thank you, Michael – that’s kind of you to say. But the amount of time and effort you’ve put into your terrain , fauna and troops for your Congo games surely matches my humble efforts? Of course, you could do with some members of the Leopard Society in full regalia to menace your explorers…because that would be cool.

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  2. Those Deer Lady and Basket Ogress models are rather nice aren`t they. The range of unusual pieces from that company is attractively eclectic and quite more-ish all together. The whole era you guys have chosen to set your game in is deliciously unusual in any case, and is alive to strange and wonderful mythologies and ideas. Stevie hasn`t really been contributing yet as he is working at your own busy pace and will add his own bits to the thing once the actual games start (meanwhile he`s continuing with our own weekly game sessions for the new campaign we`re playing live with the lads). He has a head start in that we`ve been placing “Colonial Gothic” style games and campaign for years now and its already well on its way; so slipping elements onto your island and your version of Massachusetts should be easy as jam on a slice of bread. I smiled when (he told me) I realised certain iconic characters will be joining the games, like the one you told himself about recently… this guy has been in our on campaign for years now, both in past historical, fantasy, and even in a futuristic state.. existing in remote places as the Underdeeps of Faerûn, the docksides of Boston, and even in the sewers of Post Apocalyptic Gotham (but I wont ruin any foreshadow surprises by naming the beast). Suffice to say, it will be interesting to see how close.. and how similar your version is to ours.

    Nice start Jez, can`t wait to see it come to light.

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    • It’s a very unique range and covers a wide spectrum of cultures. I can imagine that these won’t be the last figures I get from Paymaster Games, as the quality of the sculpts and the subject matter is so different that I don’t mind paying a little above what I would normally. Whilst I’ll probably go for more figures to complement the current project, as I’ve always been interested in the Aztecs, I’m sure some of them will be heading my way at some point. Not entirely sure what for yet…

      And given where and when I’ll be venturing (and a recent re-reading of the source material), it just seemed obvious to use that particular character…in what form he will appear is currently undecided, but it will be appropriate to the setting and the capabilities of the character. What fun!

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  3. Tasty new miniatures, and beautifully rendered. I love that half nakey Deer Woman, she could be made to fit many a genre. For some reason the gyspy from the Anthony Hopkins “Wolfman” came immediately to mind when I saw her. I wouldnt mind getting my hands on that figure myself at some stage, shes quite lovely.

    Nice start, nice foreshadowing of things to come, nice post.

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    • Thanks Steve. It’s a range that needs greater publicity, as it does have some beauties in there. The Aztec vampire is another beautiful figure, as is the Ewah (were-jaguar?).

      When I place an order with them, I’ll let you know beforehand, so you can add anything to it. No point paying shipping costs twice is there? 😉

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  4. Smashing stuff Jez, loving the new miniatures, I think I’d probably follow Deer Woman out into the woods! (I’m not adverse to a hairy leg you know!). She is of course not to be confused with the “Dear ladies” which was the series “Hinge and Bracket” did back in the eighties, follow them into the woods and you’d get a entirely different kind of surprise!!!

    Now I don’t normally say this but I really want to read some “batreps” with all your new characters involved, so get a shuffle on with painting them, oh wait there’s the little matter of “Forgotten heroes” to get done first, but then, well you know (chop, chop, old chap, you audience is waiting).

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Thanks Roger. Deer Woman is a rather attractive figure and much preferable to Hinge & Bracket…

      And there will be AARs aplenty once this gets rolling. Regretfully, time has not been on my side this week, so whilst I was able to get this post up ‘on the go’, as it were, that’s about all I’ve managed to do hobby-wise. It’s quite frustrating.

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  5. { Now I don’t normally say this but I really want to read some “batreps” with all your new characters involved, so get a shuffle on with painting them, }

    same for me. i am waiting for the games. lots of preamble but now the main event please. when it happens i will be back and wanting to comment.

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    • That is the intention, Luke. I’m planning on using the figures unpainted initially, so I can actually play something, but as noted above, I’ve not had any proper hobby-time this week.

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  6. I agree with Michael Awdry: it’s the commitment you have to your projects that makes them so inspiring. As we would say on this side of the lake: you don’t half-ass anything, Jez.
    I’ve never heard of Paymaster games, but I’m glad you did. If you don’t have it, American Indian Myths and Legends, by Erdoes and Ortiz, is a terrific compilation of Native American folklore from all over North America.
    I’m keen to find out which characters you’re teasing…

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    • Thanks Keith. If I’m planning on spending a significant amount of time on a particular project, I do try and bring it to life – by doing research on the period or genre or creating the necessary terrain. This particular project, being a ‘shared world’ is taking a bit longer to lock down, as we both have to be happy with what we’re doing and it does seem to be constantly evolving.

      I shall have to kerp an eye out for that book (the Internet is good, but I much preger hardcopy). I will have to dig out my copy of Katherine Briggs’ ‘faerie encyclopaedia’ which does cover some of the Native American little people, but It is somewhere in my loft, which is somewhat cluttered…

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