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.

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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.)

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.

《Edit: 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…

Spirits of Vengeance

“Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise…” – Isaiah 26:19

As we’re within a transition period here at the Buffet, with my Tales of the Black Museum being temporarily shelved as the focus shifts to the new Age of Unreason campaign, I find my hobby-time is split between finishing off a few odds and ends for TOBM and preparing the miniatures, terrain and fauna for the new project. And, for some reason, an urge to paint Daleks…

However, whilst there are no Daleks on show in this post, it does highlight the juxtaposition between the previous project and the new, with figures from both, which do happen to have a rather coincidental link…

First up, the most recent recruit to the forces of the Black Museum, the Penny Farthing-riding Constable Jack O’Lantern.

Constructed from various odds and ends from my bits box, including a plastic GW skeleton, who was then clothed in a Milliput uniform, when we first saw him, he looked like this:

As my intention was to have him as a Victorian version of the Marvel character Ghost Rider, he would not only require painting, but the addition of mystical flames boiling forth from his skull and a trail of fire behind him…which is why his base was made that long.

The painting wasn’t an issue, other than the wash I’d applied to his hands, feet and skull leaking on to his uniform, requiring a bit of touching up.

The flame effects were a bit trickier. Having previously used transparent silicone bathroom sealant to create a ring of mystical fire around an Oriental vampire model, mainly to hide the fact that he was a bit shorter than the other models he was going to be used with, I knew that it was possible. But it proved a little troublesome, as teasing the blobs of sealant into suitable flame shapes takes a steady hand and a medium that behaves itself – both of which were slightly lacking on the day.

However, I persevered and finally got what I wanted. Once dry, it was just a case of dry-brushing the ‘flames’ with a light blue, followed by a coat of blue ink, as the type of flames I was going for were similar to gas flames.

And this is the tinal result:

I’m pretty pleased with how the completed figure came out, bearing in mind that, other than the skeleton, it’s completely scratch-built.

Next up…imagine you’re a member of his Majesty’s armed forces, dispatched across the Atlantic to the New World, to protect the hardy colonists who have chosen to make a new life in a new land. You and your colleagues are thrust into a completely different environment, required to fight against natives whose tactics seem alien to the ordered warfare you are used to.

Imagine that due to being far from home, some of your colleagues resort to behaviour that goes against your very nature and values and, when you rebel, your supposed friends and companions turn on you, murdering you and leaving your body in a hastily dug shallow grave…

Would you rest easy? Or would your soul be consumed with vengeance against those who betrayed you?

If the latter, you may become a Revenant, dispensing your own form of justice from beyond the grave. You may become…a Deadcoat.

I appreciate that is a tertible pun, but it suited the figure that I’ve been working on;

This is a figure from Black Cat Bases, part of their Pirates of the Skeleton Seas range. However, as this particular figure was bought many moons ago, whilst they still do a similar figure, this particular sculpt is no longer available – which is a shame, because it is rather nice.

I believe it’s supposed to be a member of the Royal Navy, resurrected to serve an undead master, but I decided to paint it in a uniform similar to that of the British Regular Infantry, as worn during the French Indian War. I’ve not got very far, as yet, but I think you get the idea.

Until next time…