Flesheater of the Forests

The Wendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody. Its body was unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, giving off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.”

— Basil Johnston, Ojibwe teacher and scholar, Ontario, Canada

I think Basil conjures up a rather eerie description of the Wendigo – and one I shall be using when I paint up this chap;

Ordered from Paragon Star on Wednesday, confirmation of shipping sent on Friday, turned up this morning. Not a bad turn around, all-in-all.

“But Jez,” I hear you cry, “what’s the figure actually like?” Well, I have to admit to being somewhat impressed.

Those of you who have ever ordered or bought a 3D printed piece of terrain or figure will know that the process, no matter how high-spec the printer, always leaves striations or lines on the figure. The lower the specification of the 3D printer, the more obvious and raised these layer lines are. The advantage of resin printing (says the 5-minute Google “expert”) is that each layer is made from liquid resin, which remains liquid until such time as it is cured under UV light. What this apparently means is that there is no obvious layering and the surface of the miniature is smooth, similar to resin miniatures cast in the traditional way.

So, as you can see from the pictures, the surface of the figure is remarkably smooth and pretty well-detailed. As I picked a figure that has not got a particularly textured surface, I cannot really comment on how well this process depicts fur, chains or wood, like some of the other figures produced by this company.

The resin used seems similar to other modern resin figures I have, being a little flexible, non-brittle and with no noticeable odour.

I only have one very minor complaint, in that the figure I received had a crack in the base, running from the front right of the base for about 15mm towards the centre. Not enough to jeopardise the integrity of the figure and easily filled, but just a small niggle.

To be honest, looking at this particular figure for any length of time, does kind of remind me of the character of Jon Talbain, the werewolf from the Darkstalkers video game;

Jon Talbain | Darkstalkopedia | Fandom

However, I don’t think I’ll be replicating this colour scheme.

Weirdly, this figure has tiny wee legs, although they are split like the arms, so forked four legs.

Now, I ordered the 40mm base version of this figure, which means that that from base to horn-tip, this beastie is 70mm tall. Which makes it quite imposing when compared to a standard 28mm figure, like the 13th Doctor below;

“Legend of the Algonquians? I think you’ll find it’s ACTUALLY an alien. Trust me – they all turn out to be aliens in the end…”

Now, how does it compare size and cost-wise with other manufacturers’ products?

In the picture below, we have a Graveyard Golem from the Reaper Bones range in their polymer plastic on the left, at approximately £5.00. In the centre, the Paragon Star Wendigo in their printed resin, at £7.69 and on the far right, The Strawman from Crooked Dice (sans arms, as I’ve not yet assembled him yet) in normal resin, at £15.00.

20200608_1931053889363028269375275.jpg

Once the Wendigo realised that the “Strawman” was actually made from Shredded Wheat, it ate its arms…

If we compare the three, the Reaper Bones figure (and by extension Nolzurr’s Marvelous Miniatures) will be the cheapest option for your big monster needs, but not by a great margin. Normal resin figures will usually be about twice the price, but I would hazard a guess (purely based on the figure I chose) that the intricate detail of a sculpt may be better.

However, the BIG advantage of the resin printed figures is you can choose what size you want. I went for a 40mm diameter base, because I calculated that this would be the “correct” size for this monster. As there are 8 size options, going from 30mm up to 150mm diameter bases and the largest size is £29.99, I think it’s a cost-effective way to get a specific monster at exactly the size you want.

“Swamp Thing” anyone?

Swamp Men  Resin Miniature   28mm / 32mm Scale  Dungeons image 1

“You Have Chosen… Wisely”

As I have a limited hobby budget, there are certain times of year that I look forward to – namely Christmas and my birthday – as I can usually guarantee that someone will forego actually thinking about buying me a present (as I never actually get any hobby-related stuff from my family) and give me cold, hard cash instead.

Now, as these funds are relatively modest, I always spend a fair amount of time contemplating how best to utilise them. Whilst I do have a mental ‘wish list’ of figures and scenery I really would like to own, as the majority of these are stocked by smaller companies and will therefore incur their own shipping costs, I need to factor this in to my overall budget.

Yes, I could immediately order a set of figures that I’ve been craving for a while, but as the minimum postage cost in the UK is around £3.50, effectively a third of my overall funds could end up on just getting the items to my door. Which is not ideal.

Hence the title of this post – in order to maximise the amount of stuff I can get with my alloted funds, I need to try and limit the number of companies I’m ordering from, so that I get the most bang for my buck.

(As an aside, up until I was researching this article, I would have sworn that the title of this post was a quote from the ITV children’s TV series Knightmare. Turns out my memory isn’t as reliable as I thought, as it’s actually from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where our eponymous hero correctly selects the right Grail from the Knights Templar House of Cups…)

So, to illustrate how this works in practice for me, let’s roll back to Christmas Day…

Amongst the socks, books and DVDs I received (because I’m old school and like owning a physical copy of cool movies or TV shows. No monthly fee, no buffering or wifi issues and no portability issues. All I need is power, a screen and a player and I can watch what I want, when I want.) I received £30.00 cash and a £15.00 Amazon giftcard. Total funds = £45.00.

Looking at my proposed projects for the upcoming year and not-so-subtly influenced by the BBC’s three-part Dracula adaptation shown over the Holiday period, I decided the vague hints I’d sown in previous Tales of the Black Museum posts did indicate that there was a faction of vampires lurking in the shadows of my fictional borough. However, in order to present a credible threat to my Boys in Blue, I needed some more minions.

I had my vampire lord (although whether I go for the classic cape-wearing aristocrat or a Nosferatu-like Count remains to be decided, as I have both.) I have my three vampire brides, from Belt Fed Gaming;

and a converted Heroclix Jackal figure, representing a gnarled ‘ghoul’ in the Count’s employ. So, five figures in total. Not quite enough, so who or what to add to provide further minions for the Count?

Do I go for further ghouls, utilising either Heresy Miniatures metal sculpts or Mantic Games’s multi-part plastics? Or do I get some of the new-ish Victorian Zombies by Ironclad Miniatures?

All valid choices, but suffered from the same issue – if I wanted them, in order to maximise my funds, I’d need to order something else from the same company to get the best value. And I couldn’t use the Amazon giftcard, as these companies either don’t sell on Amazon or don’t sell the bits I wanted.

So, back to my Mind Palace I went, for further contemplation.

Now, buying from a bricks and mortar gaming shop would circumvent the need to spend any of my funds on shipping costs. However, the only local gaming shops I have easy access to only sell Warlord Games stuff and Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, neither of which were suitable for my needs. That left Games Workshop, so off I went to their website to browse for inspiration. I dismissed the Crypt Ghouls as being a little TOO out there to be seen on the streets of Blackwell, but then remebered I had been rather enamoured of their Myrmourn Banshees;

Four fully-detailed plastic miniatures for £10.00, so working out at £2.50 each. Not bad.

So, I wandered in to my local GW and the manager was kind enough to let me have a closer look at these models from his window display. Very nice and, with a bit of creative thinking, they could represent past brides of my blood-sucking Count that no longer possessed physical form, but were still tied to him spiritually.

Rather than buying them then and there, I returned home, as I knew that GW stuff WAS available on Amazon and, with Prime membership, wouldn’t have to pay any shipping costs, so would have an additional fiver to spend on something else.

If only it were that easy…

Amazon do have GW stuff and did have the Banshees for £10.00 – but with £2.65 shipping costs, as the seller was not part of the Prime network. The only Prime seller wanted £13.00, so roughly the same cost. Cheaper to buy direct from store.

Of course, like Steve at The Games Cupboard, I saw THAT TV ad…

Games Wokshop’s Mortal Realms part-work, first issue only £2.99. I was aware of this publication, but hadn’t really given it much thought, as it was all Age of Sigmar related stuff, so of no real use or interest to me. However, the ad did pique my curiosity, so back to the GW site I went to see what it actually was.

So, the first issue was advertised as coming with some figures from both the Stormcast Eternals and Nighthaunt factions – 13 figures for £2.99, which seemed like a good deal if you were into or wanted to get into AoS. However, the second issue contained the Myrmourn Banshees…for £5.99. Bargain! Whilst that issue doesn’t come out until next week (22/01/2020), waiting a few more days to make a 40% saving will be worth it.

I then decided to go back and have a closer look at what you got with Issue 1. Three Stormcast Eternal Sequitors and 10 Chainrasp Horde spirits – RRP £35.00, yours for £2.99. Looking closer at the miniatures, I realised that the Stormcast Eternals would make a good addition to my Dominion forces in Distant Stars, whilst the Chainrasp Horde could be used in both the Age of Unreason setting and any Scooby Doo or Ghostbusters games.

So, for less than buying the Myrmourn Banshees direct from the GW store, I will be getting the 4 Banshees, 3 Sequitors and 10 spooky-ass ghosts…AND still have £35.00 to spend on OTHER stuff.

The title of the post says it all…

Warfare 2018

Last Saturday saw my annual visit to our local wargaming show here in Reading – Warfare, run by the Wargames Association of Reading.

Even before I started attending Salute (which has now become my other gaming show), I would always attend this one, as it’s really close, gives me the opportunity to see the models up close and, as it occurs just after my birthday, I usually have a few spare pennies to spend.

Now, Warfare takes place in the Rivermead leisure centre, spread over four separate rooms. There’s plenty of space in the competition/club demonstration room, which takes place in the indoor bowling green, but traders hall always seems rather cramped, as the aisles are fairly narrow and some attendees are less considerate than others.

As I arrived rather later than usual and the trader shall was heaving, I headed straight into the competition hall, as sometimes the table are worth looking at. Now, there are usually a few nice-ish tables on display, but nothing that usually makes me want to take out my camera. However, this year, there was, so I did actually take some photos.

First, a rather nice 28mm Pegasus Bridge set-up for Bolt Action, which wasn’t actually being played upon, but I felt warranted a picture because it was so nice.

Not sure where the kid with the 70’s haircut came from…possibly from off the set of The Omen remake…

Next up, one of several 28mm full-size galleons for a (probably) pirate-themed game.

This one was the biggest and loaded to the gunnels with British seamen. The fort they were attacking was okay, but the ships themselves were lovely.

The final table was probably another Bolt Action table, as it appears to be a war-torn city.  An absolutely HUGE amount of detail – trains, planes, a crane, plumes of smoke, etc. Just click on the picture and enjoy.

After wandering up and down the aisles for a while, I decided to brave the traders hall. And found it somewhat…lacking. It would appear that some of the standard traders that usually attend had decided to forego this year. And the traders who were there didn’t appear to have very much in the way of new stuff.

A couple of manufacturers did – Sally 4th being one (as noted by Simon over at Fantorical) and Warbases, who have extended their range of laser-cut MDF buildings into several areas that I wasn’t aware of such as sci-fi, ancient Rome and soon to be the Orient. Worth a look on their website if you haven’t visited in a while, as their range has expanded a fair bit, their prices are reasonable and they have a good range of 28mm animals, should you need to populate your British countryside with both farm and wildlife.

And it was Warbases who manged to part me from some of my cash, as they had a set of two MDF handcarts, complete with metal ‘loads’ and attendants. Ideal for adding to colour to your street-scenes and reasonably generic clothing-wise to be used from Victorian up to Post-war, as shown below.

Two metal figures, two loads and two MDF handcarts…for £7.00. Bargain! Unsurprisingly, the handcarts don’t come with instructions, but it’s pretty obvious how they go together, with the T-shaped part being the stand which prevents it from tipping over – which will be used for the vegetable seller.

So, a couple of likely lads ready and waiting to be purvey their wares on the streets of Blackwell.

My only other purchase was the main reason for attending. Earlier in the year, Crooked Dice launched a Kickstarter for their ‘Children of the Fields’ range of figures and programme guide. Obviously, as this is Crooked Dice and 7TV, this was a range of creepy villagers, sinister Morris Men, devious Huntsmen, possibly possessed scarecrows and all the other various accoutrements of a 70’s British village that welcomes strangers, but doesn’t let them leave. I was almost tempted by this KS, but felt that for the models I did want, I’d end up with some models I didn’t.

However, there was one model I knew I had to have. Now, I could have taken advantage of the ‘pledge a £1’ option that allowed you to just select an add-on, but I worked out that if I did this, the model I wanted would actually cost me more, taking into account the postage, than waiting until it was released and picking it up at Warfare.

So that’s what I did…and here ‘he’ is.

This is The Straw Man, an 80mm tall corn/wheat golem and he’s rather bloody cool. A nice three-part model which looks like it will go together with no issues, with nice, crisp detailing. Basically, it does look like it’s made of bundles of hay…or possibly “Shredded Wheat”. And, not being period specific, I can use this for Age of Unreason, Tales of the Black Museum, Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo and even Doctor Who games should I wish.

Now, it’s not cheap – being £15.00, but I do feel it’s worth it, as there is literally nothing else like it on the market. And if you want lesser minions for your giant Straw Man, Crooked Dice do a Straw Bear (which is a Morris Man dressed in sheafs of straw, rather than an actual bear), as part of the same range.

Mummers Procession

So, whilst not as good a show as previous year’s, was still worthwhile me going…and I did get to have a nice long chat with Karl from Crooked Dice, where I suggest stuff I want him to make and he laughs at me or says “funny you should mention that…”

Until next time.

Turn and Face the Strange…

As what ‘free’ time I’ve had over the past few weeks has been dedicated to securing future employment, with a few side treks into the Land of Mists, I’ve not really had the opportunity to spend any time on ‘proper’ hobby-related pursuits. Which explains the lack of posted content.

However, it has given me time to consider the future direction of the Buffet.

It has become clear that the false starts and changes of direction regarding the proposed Age of Unreason project mean that, as they used to say in the Grolsch adverts, “It’s not ready yet!”

So, rather than continuing half-arsed and without everything I need to fully realise this project (due to lack of resources at present), the Age of Unreason is being shelved for the time being.

But if there’s not going to be any Age of Unreason content, what can you expect instead?

Well, having reviewed my collection of terrain and miniatures, it occurred to me that the majority of it relates to superhero gaming…yet I’ve never published a superhero AAR.

My Way of the Crow rules were specifically designed and play-tested with this type of gaming in mind. But whilst the Clown Gang did surprisingly defeat the nefarious forces of Doktor Reich and his super-Nazis, stuffing Aryan head-first in a dumpster and the Black Pharaoh proved to be more than a match for the original line-up of the Liberty Force on his own, only myself and my play-testers were witness to these battles.

I have approximately 150 costumed heroes and villains, most of which are unique characters to my own superhero universe and most of which ARE fully painted. Add a good handful of Marvel, DC  and Eternian heroes, and a few ‘Forgotten Heroes’, and I have rather a large roster of characters who could take part in a dimension-hopping, multiversal crossover ‘event’ on an epic scale…

Something like this:

Image result for crisis on infinite earths

Or maybe this;

Related image

Or even this:

Image result for he man vs superman

But obviously waaaaay cooler and more Jez.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

Join me next time, as the countdown to The §ingularity War begins…

Age of Unreason – Fun with Flags

The problem with the Ravenloft campaign setting, from a wargaming perspective, is that whilst it provides a wealth of detail to enable a DM to craft suitably chilling adventures to challenge a group of role-players, if you want to engage in a skirmish between the soldiers of Falkovnia and one of the neighbouring Domains you run into a few issues.

Wargaming is both a physical and visual medium, wherein the opposing forces usually have a distinctive look or uniform to differentiate the troops on either side. Vague references to ‘the crest of the von Zarovich’s’ or militia wearing ‘the Dilisnya colours’ are all well and good, but without a physical description or definition of what these actually are means that the budding wargamet doesn’t know what colour to paint their uniforms or what banner they fight beneath.

So, in order to field military forces for what are, effectively, ‘Imagi-Nations’, you have to resort to some in-depth research…and a bit of creative licence.

In other words, you make it up.

Now, as I have a smattering of knowledge regarding heraldic design, I do have a slight advantage in knowing the ‘correct’ colours, metals and furs to use, along with the official terminology for the objects and creatures that are commonly used.

However, whilst my artistic skills aren’t too bad, the prospect of coming up with and illustrating twenty individual coats of arms for the nations of the Core, along with uniforms for the dozen or so Domains that have standing armies, was somewhat daunting.

So I decided to cheat.

After a bit of Internet searching, I found an online coat of arms generator that not only has the correct tinctures of traditional heraldry, but also has a library of the majority of the divisions and charges commonly used. For a glossary of heraldic terms, I recommend http://www.heraldsnet.org/saitou/parker/Jpglossa.htm which should provide nearly everything you need to know about heraldry in an easily searchable format.

However, to actually create your coat of arms, go to the ‘Uplink Heraldry Creator’, which can be found here.

Click on the button “Create Coat of Arms” and away you go. It’s pretty intuitive and selecting specific ‘charges’ (i.e. objects or creatures) does give you multiple options, such as whether the lion is rampant or passant.

Once you’ve finished, you can save the completed coat of arms as a PNG file or a PDF and then do with it as you wish, such as uploading it to your blog, like so;

So, above is the coat of arms of the nation of Falkovnia, the official ‘blazon’ (i.e. description) of which is;

Argent, an eagle displayed sable armed and crowned or.

And now I have the coat of arms, I know that the uniform of the Falkovnian army will be black, yellow and white and can paint my troops appropriately.

So, should you wish to provide a coat of arms for a particular lord, an Imagi-nation or even yourself, why not give the online generator a try. It’s easy to use, makes professional looking designs and is a lot of fun.

Until next time…

One Voice, Singing in the Darkness…

If you were expecting a Forgotten Heroes update, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.

However, I do have an update regarding The Age of Unreason project, as things have changed once again.

Steve, Hils and Tarot have decided to retire from the blogging community in its entirety, so will no longer be blogging or posting comments on the blogs they used to follow. The reason for this is their utter dismay in the trend for a large majority of supposed ‘gamers’ to use their blogs as organs for their own self-aggrandisement, this desperate need to seek praise or have the most followers or likes or comments on their blogs, rather than actually playing games which, after all, is the purpose of buying these little men in the first place.

A good analogy for this is White Dwarf magazine. When I started gaming back in the mid-80’s, White Dwarf was the go-to publication for gamers. It contained articles and scenarios on a variety of games systems, some of which you may mot have heard of, but the overall feeling you got from the magazine was that it was encouraging you to take what was published, make it your own and gather your friends together for some serious dungeoneering…or thwarting the machinations of the worshippers of Cthulhu…or venturing into the Old World to defend the Empire against the incursion of Chaos.

This changed as Games Workshop realised that publushing their own rules was more lucrative, and the magazine became a self-serving organ to encourage people to buy their rules, miniatures and paints, showcasing their latest release and the painting skills of their in-house team. Occasionally a batrep would appear, but it was usually just to highlight a new set of rules or a new faction in their games, rather than playing for the sheer joy of playing.

Many blogs follow a similar trend, with the focus on the latest ‘must have’ figures and how the blogger has painted them. If you are a regular blogger, how many of your posts over the last 12 months have been showcases of your painted figures? When was the last time you actually sat down and played a game?

Now, this doesn’t mean you’re not part of the hobby, but can you really describe yourself as a gamer if you don’t play?

So, as Steve, Hils and Tarot are primarily gamers, with blogging a secondary aspect of the hobby to them, they have decided to exit the online community and concentrate on what they feel is the most important part of the hobby for them. And I wish them all the best in their endeavours, as I fully understand and support this decision.

Now, I use my blog to encourage me to actually do something hobby-related, as prior to starting it, all my figures, rules and terrain was just sitting in boxes gathering dust. If not for my blog, I wouldn’t have regained my love of the hobby, wouldn’t have painted the half-finished figures, wouldn’t have written my own rules and certainly wouldn’t have sat down and played some games with them.

So, for me, my blog helps me to focus on what I enjoy about the hobby and hopefully, by sharing what I’m doing, encourages others to do the same. It’s not about praise or recognition, it’s about keeping a record of what I’ve done and being able to discuss these aspects of the hobby with like-minded people.

Now, given Steve’s departure to greener pastures, what does this mean for the Age of Unreason project? Does this mean it’s dead?

Nope.

One of my problems with this project was that whilst I liked the idea of venturing into the realms of tricorne-era gaming, my historical knowledge of the period is somewhat sketchy, so whilst I could put together a pseudo-historical game setting, I felt that I wasn’t doing it justice. Unlike my Tales of the Black Museum, which is based on my love of the late Victorian period and the ample research and reading of fact and fiction about this era, I just don’t know enough about either the locale I’d selected or the era to convincingly portray this in my games. And apparently, the type and volume of trees is an important part, based on various online comments made…

I have the terrain, I have the fauna, I have the figures to play a ‘Muskets ‘n’ Monsters’ style game, but no definitive setting in which to do it…or do I?

Actually, yes. And that setting is…

Many moons ago, this campaign setting was released by TSR for AD&D 2nd edition. It was very popular at the time and managed to survive the various upheavals to the D&D rules over the years, evolving and changing to suit the needs of the then-current players.

It wasn’t entirely perfect, as whilst many cooks don’t necessarily spoil the broth, they can add unnecessary ingredients that make it less palatable (like what they decided was at the bottom of the Shadow Rift…)

Prior to starting my blog, I’d begun a RPG project to streamline the setting, based on the final iteration of the 2nd edition contained within Domains of Dread. Get rid of all the stuff that was stupid or I felt didn’t suit the setting and make it better.

So, I had a setting for which I intimately knew the history of, had copious notes on and, with a slight advance of technology levels from ‘chivalric’ and ‘renaissance’ to ‘colonial’, would work extremely well for this project. And once I’d realised that, suddenly everything started to flow again.

So, whilst the proposed joint campaign world initially announced may be no more, welcome to the launch of Ravenloft: Age of Unreason. It’s going to be grisly fun…

Age of Unreason – Indian Summer – the AAR

Sergeant Hull looked at the three members of the Virginia State Militia he had chosen for the mission assigned by Captain Hunt – troopers Albany, Bowers and Casco – and pursed his lips thoughtfully. Bowers and Casco he had worked with before and knew they could be trusted, but Albany was relatively new and therefore an unknown quantity. Their mission had taken them to the woods just outside of Deerfield and Hull had deliberately led his men towards the Walton homestead, as he knew that John would be out hunting, which left his teenaged daughter Beccy all alone.

Hull felt that she might appreciate some male company, what with there potentially being a madman loose in the woods, and he was prepared to give her some…

After the introduction of my revised part of Steve and I’s Age of Unreason project, I’ve been busy beavering away to get enough terrain, fauna and figures ready to enable me to play a game. I realised that I had reached a point where I could actually do so and was blessed with some rare free time to actually play the game.

And here it is…

Sergeant Hull and the three members of the Virginia State Militia can be seen in the bottom left of the above picture. There are three clue tokens (the same as I used in my Scooby Doo game way back when) which reveal various information about what is stalking the woods. One is hidden in the bushes at the bottom right of the picture, one is placed on the Walton homestead in the top right, as Beccy will be able to provide some information, and the final one is hidden amongst the rocky hills in the top left.

As soon as one of the clues is discovered, the antagonist will appear a random number of hexes from the clue token, generated by the roll of a d10. The rules being used are Way of the Crow, but I won’t be boring you with a full breakdown of exactly what was rolled, etc. Hopefully, it will all make sense as it goes along.

As only the State Militia are on the table at present, there was no need to roll for Inititative. Hull used his first Action and his Leadership ability of 3 to activate all three trropers, sending Bowers and Casco off towards the rocky promontory and Albany towards the cabin. All troopers used both their Actions for movement, moving a total of 6 hexes. Hull used his second Action to follow Albany, but only moved a total of 3 hexes, as he only had one Action left.

Realising that there was no real need for Hull to use his Leadership skill, as there were no opponents on the table, each figure moved separately in Turn 2. Albany and Hull used their first Action to move closer towards the cabin, and as they were passing the first clue, an Awareness roll was made for both characters. Hull failed, but Albany noticed something in the bushes and used his second Action to push through them and discover the first clue – a headless corpse. He called Hull over, who used his second Action to join Albany at the body.

Meanwhile, Bowers and Casco had used both their actions to advance towards the rocky ground.

Of course, having discovered the first clue, this meant that the antagonist appeared and on a roll of 8, this put it 8 hexes away from the first clue. Nowhere near Albany and Hull, but only 4 hexes away from from Casco.

However, as it was concealed, it was represented on the table top by a clear plastic hexagon.

The thing could immediately take Actions, of which it had 3 and chose to shoot at the nearest victim, trooper Casco. An Agility of 5, with Marksman +3 and a roll of 10(!) meant that the thing’s attack was 18, versus a dodge roll of Casco’s Agility of 3 and a roll of 2, totalling 5. 13 points difference, added to the Vigour of the attack of 6, meant that even taking into account Casco’s Vigour of 3, he still took 16 points of damage…and he only had 6! In a burst of bright light, Casco went down, a hole burned through his chest.

The thing used it’s second action to move adjacent to Casco’s body, but as it has a Stealth of 3, Invisibility of +5 and rolled a 1, Bowers would need a roll of 7 or higher to add to his Awareness of 3 to see it…and rolled a 6.

The thing used its final Action to shoot at Bowers, and managed to hit him with an additional two points added to the strength of its weapon, totalling 8. 3 of these were soaked by his Vigour, but he still took 5 points of damage. Having 6 points, he was still alive, if barely.

Turn 3 saw the first Initiative roll off, with the Militia winning. Hull and Albany, having heard the shooting, moved towards the noise, using their first Action to move closer. As they were now in Line of Sight of the thing, they made their Awareness rolls versus its Stealth and Invisibility and both succeeded, seeing a shimmering form in the distance. Naturally, both fired their muskets at it. Albany just missed, but Hull got a solid hit, managing to circumvent its natural Vigour and its armour, reducing its overall health by 2 and shorting out its invisibility field.

The creature was revealed!

Unfortunately, as this creature has the ability Fear +6, all those within 6 hexes of the creature must make a Will roll to not run away. This only affected Bowers, who managed to make his roll. As he had not acted this turn, he used his first Action to shoot at the creature, and watched as his musket ball bounced off its armour. He chose to use his second Action to reload his musket – which was a mistake, as it was now the creature’s turn.

The creature used its first Action to move into melee combat and its second Action to attack him. It easily beat his feeble attempts to fend it off and gutted him like a pig. It then used its final Action to cut off his head.

Turn 4 saw the creature win Initiative, and it returned to Casco’s body, cut off his head and then made off into the rocky terrain to its left.

Meanwhile, Albany and Hull ran through the woods towards the scene of the fight.

Turn 5 saw the creature win Initiative again and it retreated further into the rocky terrain, returning to its lair and adding the heads to an existing pile of skulls.

Hull and Albany finally reached the bodies of their comrades and the sight was so grisly, they both had to roll against their Will to remain active, which they did. They used their final Actions to Stealthily move forwards (reduces move by half, but opposing player must make a successful Awareness roll to see them.)

Turn 6 saw the creature lose the Initiative roll. Hull and Albany stealthily moved forwards through the bushes and suddenly see the creature on the ledge above them!

As they are now within range of its Fear ability, they both make an opposed roll versus its Fear against their Will…and fail! As both men are terrified, their final Action is to turn and run away, bursting through the bushes back out into the woods.

The Creature uses its first Action to leap to the top of the promontory and its second Action to fire its Plasma Caster at the retreating form of Albany. However, he stumbles on a root and the beam of energy flashes past him, narrowly missing him.

With a hiss of frustration, the creature turns its weapon on the tubby form of Sergeant Hull, catching him dead centre and torching him.

Turn 7 sees the creature lose the initiative again, and Albany uses his full allocation of Actions to run. Luckily, this takes him out of Line of Sight of the creature, as he ducks between the trees.

The creature uses its first Action to leap from the cliff-top to the ground, but fails an Agility roll, landing on its face!

Whilst it takes no damage, it does have to spend its next Action clambering to its feet. And now it can see the fleeing form of its final victim! Readying its weapon, it is dismayed to find that the fall has damaged the plasma caster and it will not fire! (it rolled a 1).

Turn 8 and it all hinges on who wins the Initiative. If the creature wins, its Agility is high enough that it can catch Albany and cut him down. If Albany wins, he only needs to move 5 hexes and he’s off the table and safe.

The creature rolls a total of 10 for its Initiative. Albany rolls…

an 11! Yay!

Trooper Albany fled through the woods, branches whipping at his face and tearing at his clothes. He now knew what had been taking heads in the woods around Deerfield, what had killed his colleagues and had almost killed him…a demon, spewed forth from the bowels of hell, casting lighting from its fingertips and with evil burning in its eyes.

He would tell Captain Hunt what he had seen, and whether he was believed or not, there was no way he was going back into those woods.

Age of Unreason – Indian Summer

Even though the windows in Captain Hunt’s office were thrown wide, the oppressive heat, unstirred by any breeze, permeated the room.

Sergeant Benjamin Hull could feel rivulets of sweat trickling down his neck, to be absorbed by the heavy cloth of his uniform’s collar. True, he was carrying a few more pounds than was typical for a member of the Virginia State Militia, but it was still hotter than a baker’s oven in there.

He glanced across the desk at the slim figure of Captain Hunt, who seemed completely oblivious to his subordinate’s discomfort or, indeed, to the temperature. His face was pale and composed, his uniform immaculate and unstained with either food or sweat. This just gave Hull another reason to dislike the man. Things had been running fine under his command, so why had they foisted this greenhorn on him, taking over his command of the militia in Staunton? Maybe he had abused his position slightly, but surely that was one of the perks of the job? And whilst those whose he had taken advantage of might whisper behind his back, they were aware that crossing good ole Ben Hull was asking for a whuppin’, so he couldn’t imagine anyone had been flapping their gums about him. But now that Captain ‘Greenhorn’ was here, he’d have to be more careful. As long as he kept his head, things should work out fine.

Or so he hoped.

Captain Hunt finished writing up his report and looked at the stocky figure facing him, sweating and fidgeting in his chair. Various reports had filtered back to the state capital in Richmond, indicating that there was something awry in Augusta County. Requests for further details were fobbed off with missives stating that all was fine – missives signed by Sergeant Hull. Hunt had heard some disturbing rumours regarding Hull and his…appetites and the underlying feeling one got from walking the streets of Staunton was one of repressed fear. Whether this was due to Hull and his activities or the other strange occurrences that seemed to plague the county, Hunt wasn’t sure yet, but he was determined to find out.

And maybe he could kill two birds with one stone. Over the past few weeks, several bodies had been found in the woods outside Deerfield – all men, all armed and all missing their heads. Gossip attributed the deaths to one of the local Indian tribes, but Hunt was not convinced. True, the natives had been known to scalp their victims, but taking their entire heads was something else. He needed answers and this situation offered an ideal opportunity to test Hull’s mettle.

“Sergeant Hull,” he said, breaking the silence, “I have a task for you…”

On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine

I had been merrily beavering away, gathering the necessary troops, fauna and terrain to get everything ready for my first game in mine and Steve’s shared world project entitled The Age of Unreason, when I was made aware of some information that effectively scuppered my plans.

Apparently, Steve had already prepared and been playing a long-term campaign based in and around Maine and Massachusetts, set in this particular era, and had detailed locales, characters and adventures on file.

And did I find this out from Steve himself? Nope. A mutual friend made me aware of this, as Steve was far too polite to tell me himself, although he did try and drop various veiled hints regarding this…

People who know me well are aware that subtlety is wasted on me. I’m a pretty straight-forward guy and if you want to say something to me, just say it. Understandably, these ‘hints’ went over my head.

So, here was me, waxing lyrical over what my plans were for my Dark Haven thread, not realising that I was effectively breaking into his house, making myself at home and tracking mud all over his nice clean carpets.

Not cool, Jez, not cool at all…

Now, I could continue as I had initially planned, but that would be both inconsiderate and selfish of me, and that’s not who I am. The whole point of a shared world is that it’s shared, so everyone collaborating within it should respect the work and effort put in by other parties and not tread on their toes.

So, what does this mean for my part of this project? Well, it means that you will no longer see a small detachment of the Massachusetts State Militia being sent to into the North Maine Woods, to investigate the strange happenings in the township of Dark Haven.

Instead, Captain Nathaniel Hunt will be leading a small unit of the Virginia State Militia on various missions across the state – dealing with escaped slaves from tobacco plantations who have ‘gone native’, cursed coal mines in the Blue Ridge Mountains, raids from members of the Powhatan Confederacy, Appalachian black panthers, sasquatch and the most famous cryptid of the region…Mothman.

Whilst the latter has not yet had a figure made by any of the various companies out there, I do own my own scratch-built miniature of this creature;

And now I have an ideal excuse to use ‘him’ in my games! Yay!

Now, whilst tomorrow brings the beginning of the creative juggernaut that is Forgotten Heroes 2018 (details of this can be found here), this does not mean that I will be solely focused on creating my ‘Forgotten Hero’ – I have Virginia State Militia to assemble and paint, in their hand-me-down Virginia State Regiment uniforms. Good thing I have plenty of red and blue paint… 😉

Until next time…

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.)