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…

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Late, But Not Forgotten

Usually around the beginning of July, once all entries for Forgotten Heroes have been submitted and the dust has settled, I provide an epilogue of sorts, giving an overview of how I thought that particular year’s event went…

This is that post.

I apologise for the tardiness of it, but as it was announced that the current contract I was engaged in had been cut short by six months and I would be out of work as of the 1st August, understandably my ‘free’ time has been spent trying to secure alternative (and more permanent) employment. This also explains why I’ve not commented on those blogs I regularly follow, so additional apologies for that too. I have been keeping abreast of what you’ve all been doing, just not really had the mindset to provide worthwhile comments.

So, as the third of what has now become an annual event, we’ve had an interesting project utilising some kind of alchemy in order to shrink resin models of Transformers, specifically the Insecticons (which as Tom Hanks will attest “the robot turns into a bug? That’s a great idea…”), an almost full collection of sculpted from scratch A.B.C. Warriors, a small-screen pulp flying ace and his dog, and the usual selection of four-colour heroes and villains who have been…Forgotten.

In some cases, they probably should have been, but we do love our lame and cheesy superheroes – the characters who are so bad they’re good, which is why this event is so much fun.

Now, as I hinted at previously, next year’s Forgotten Heroes will see a few changes to the rules, which I’ll explain now, but will reiterate prior to next year’s challenge.

Firstly, I’m changing the definition of a “Forgotten Hero” – this will now encompass ANY character, historical OR fictional, that has yet to have a decent figure made of them. Want to create the definitive Lord Soth from Dragonlance? Now you can. Want to do a diorama of Washington crossing the Delaware? No problem. Want to finally create either the Hypno-Hustler or Hellcow from Marvel Comics (the latter of which was referenced in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2)? Go for it.

Image result for hypno-hustler

The second thing that will be changing is that you won’t be restricted to a specific scale. The figure (or figures) can be of any scale. If you fancy doing Dick Dastardly, Muttley and the Mean Machine in 20mm, so you can use with the rest of your Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars, now you can.

The other major change relates to registration. Whilst Roger administers the Forgotten Heroes site, this event was my idea and remains my baby. Roger is the Alfred to my Batman, if you like. So rather than Roger sending out emails to previous participants, in order to take part in next year’s event, you will need to register by commenting on MY blog – Carrion Crow’s Buffet – or emailing me directly. For those who have previously corresponded via Roger, he can provide this for you.

Not a particularly strenuous requirement and there will be a benefit to this, as the intention is provide ALL future participants in the Forgotten Heroes event with a badge (or button as I believe our American cousins call it) with the NEW Forgotten Heroes logo on it! Be the envy of all your friends!

Once I’ve finished designing it, that is…and no, it won’t be made from the “purest green”.

And, finances willing, there may even be some prizes too.

So, I wish to thank all of those who took part in this year in the spirit of the event and hope that you’re already planning what you’re going to do next year. If I can work out how to do it, you might even seethe Big Wheel next year…

Image result for marvel big wheel

Until next time…

Redo From Start – Rom v2.0

Because it was annoying me so much, I decided to take a bit of time and repaint Rom until I was happy…or at least happier.

This is Rom v1.0;

I masked the emitter and resprayed him with Plastikote Chrome Effect spray, also spraying some Warlord Cybermen at the same time. These were going to be my ‘test subjects’.

I then mixed some purple ink with a touch of black ink, watered it down and liberally applied to one of my guinea pigs. And the result was what I was hoping for.

I then carefully applied it to resprayed Rom, concentrating where possible on the joints and crevices.

I then painted the position of the chest lights with Mithril Silver and, when dry, painted over them with Cherry Red.

Having looked at Rom’s visor in the iluustrations, I painted the slot Burnt Umber, added two dots of Mithril Silver for the eyes and then washed the whole slot in Cherry Red.

I then repainted the base with Dark Grey, followed by a wash of Burnt Umber mixed with Black, as you couldn’t see the texture with my original version.

And now I’m satisfied and here he is;

And the lesson I’ve learned here is – don’t cut corners to save time, as you’ll end up redoing all your work.

And still within the deadline! Go me!

The Hero of Galador

As everyone else has been beavering away and producing figure after figure, and the Forgotten Heroes deadline was approaching, I finally managed to set aside some time to finish off my figure for this year. But things did not go quite according to plan…

When we last saw Rom, he had been fully assembled, based and given a generous coat of Plastikote Chrome Effect spray and I was quite pleased with how he’d turned out. As all I needed to do was add the emitter to his Neutraliser, add some shading and his visor and chest lights, I assumed that this would be a simple task and therefore did not worry about cracking on with it.

This was a mistake.

As I’d already set aside the transparent red axe that I’d removed from the Heroclix Drax miniature who became Trapjaw, the first order of the day was to cut a suitably shaped piece and attach it to the front of the Neutraliser. This worked out better than I had hoped, as whilst the surface of  axe blade was red, it’s not actually made from red plastic. This meant that exterior of the emitter was red, but the business end (where the blast comes out) wasn’t, so it did resemble the comic book version, where the end of the emitter is slightly recessed. This meant that no additional faffing about was needed.

Then came the wash and this is where things started to go awry. Having canvassed opinion in my last post, I decided to go for a dark purple wash, to highlight the crevices on the model. Unfortunately, I got the consistency wrong and the figure ended up looking like it had dipped in oil. I then decided to dry-brush the model in Mithril Silver, to try and recover the shininess I’d managed to get with the spray.

Whilst this did restore Rom’s overall silver colour scheme, it wasn’t as good as the Chrome spray effect. He was silvery, but no longer as shiny as before.

Checking online pictures, I noted where the two chest lights were located which also happened to be where two recesses on the figure were located. However, rather than repainting these silver, I decided to just paint them red, assuming that the red paint would be bright enough to cover the grey shadow already there. I did the same with his visor.

Annoyingly, this didn’t come out quite the way I’d planned, as the red paint wasn’t thick enough or bright enough to look like lights.

So, whilst he IS finished, he’s annoying me, as I know I could have done better. I am pleased with the pose and the accuracy of the Neutraliser, but I’m not entirely happy with the overall painting, so I’m pretty certain he will be repainted shortly.

However, as the deadline has been reached, you get to see Rom v1.0 as a ‘completed’ figure, but over the next month I’ll hopefully get time to correct my mistakes, so Rom v2.0 will be shown later.

And here he is.

As you can see, he is silver-ish, but not as shiny as before and the red of the chest lights and visor are muted, with no sign of Rom’s ‘eyes’.

This picture shows how I repositioned his arm to get a more dynamic pose, and it’s now difficult to see that this wasn’t the way the figure was originally molded.

And finally a scale shot with a Heroclix Harley Quinn.

As you can see, the base figure is quite substantial, so he does tower of ‘normal’ sized characters, which as it should be. And looking at this picture again, he kind of looks a little bit like Robocop…

So, kind of finished, but I’m not entirely happy with him and my OCD will refuse to let me leave him like this, so expect an update in the near future where I’ll either be crowing with joy at getting him right or cursing that I ever thought that this would be an ‘easy’ figure to do.

Until next time.

Shiny Happy…Spaceknights

As we’re almost two-thirds of the way through June and the last three posts on the Buffet have been on other matters, you may be under the impression that my entry for Forgotten Heroes may have been…well, forgotten.

However, this is not the case, as I have been working on it behind the scenes, in amongst all the other things I’ve been up to.

When I first introduced the base model that I was planning to turn into Rom, it looked like this:

The first order of the day, in order to get Rom’s iconic spread-legged stance, which according to Messrs Keanrick and Mossop is the stance of a hero, I sliced his base in half and spread his legs. In order to do this, I did have to cut upwards, as it’s not evident from the picture, but right at the very top of his legs, they are joined by a very thin piece of plastic.

I then jammed a trangular needle file between his thighs, bent his ankles inwards and glued him to a spare HeroScape base I had knocking about. I then cut off his head and left arm.

As the base figure is looking down, when I repositioned his head to look to the left (from his point of view), there was a small wedge-shaped gap in the throat area, which I knew I would have to fill at some point.

Regarding the left arm, as I wanted to preserve the shoulder joint/pad, in order to position the arm in the right place, I needed to carve off some of the left shoulderblade/back, so that the arm would sit flush and not look too out of place. This was then glued into place and the model left to ‘set’.

Upon returning to the figure later, I discovered that whilst the glue had worked on the base, I’d forgotten that HeroScape bases have a sticker on top and this had pulled away from the plastic base beneath. So I decided to alter the stance to a slightly less heroic spread of legs and re-base it directly on to a 2 pence piece.

So, proto-Rom was now in the correct stance, but was unarmed.

Rummaging through my bits box, I eventually cobbled together his Neutraliser from various plastic odds and ends, including the remains of a plastic GW Dalek and part of a Kroot rifle.The most iconic part of his weapon is the ribbed cooling vents(?) just behind the emitter, which took a bit longer to find a suitable part.

I then cut between the figure’s index finger and thumb, prised this gap open, bent the fingers around the handle of the Neutraliser and glued everythng into place, like so:

Now that proto-Rom was assembled, I needed to tidy up his base and fill the gap in his neck, or one good knock would send the head flying, so out came the Miiliput and he was given a textured base and the gap was filled. I also ran the thin edge of a needle file across his eye slot, as this wasn’t quite the right shape.

Once the Milliput was dry, the next stage was to give the whole figure a base coat. As I wanted to replicate the comic book version as much as possible, who is very shiny, I decided to use some Plastikote Chrome Effect spray on the whole figure, which is why I did not add the transparent red emitter for the Neutraliser or his visor. And this is the result:

Ooooh, Shiny!

And that’s the progress so far. Other than addiing the red emitter, visor and chest lights and repainting the base, I think he’s pretty much done.

I’m trying to decide if I should give him a black wash to highlight the shadows a bit more, or just leave him really, really shiny. I think I’ll have to look at him in full natural light to make that decision, but if anyone else wants to venture an opinion on that, please feel free to do so.

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…”

Forgotten Heroes 2018 – The Greatest Spaceknight of Them All!

June is here and that can only mean one thing here at the Buffet – it’s Forgotten Heroes month!

For those of you new to this blog, this annual event is now in its third year, after I came up with this crazy idea back in 2016. Full details of what it is and what the rules/guidelines are for this celebration of the overlooked and unloved can be found in this post, so I won’t go into too much detail here.

Now, last year I created a whole team of superheroes, namely Image Comics’ Mystery Incorporated from the 1963 mini-series, who were a pastiche of Marvel’s Fantastic Four. If you’re interested in this “Quantum Quartet”, they can be seen in their finished forms in this post.

This year, as my time seems to be a little less available than previous years, I’ve decided to just produce one figure. And the character I’ve chosen this year is Rom: Spaceknight!

Rom has an interesting history, as the character was originally created by Scott Dankman, Richard C. Levy and Bryan L. McCoy for Parker Brothers in 1979. This was the first ‘action figure’ that the company had ever produced, as they were primarily a publisher of board games.

Image result for rom spaceknight toy

As action figures go, Rom was a bit rubbish, as it only had limited articulation at the ankles and shoulders, but what it did have was electronic lights and sounds! Woo-hoo! However, it was essentially just a large hunk of silver-grey plastic, with different ‘tools’ that Rom could hold, which made different noises when they were plugged in to him. Yes, it was a ‘space’ toy, but you could have far more fun with an Action Man, the acceptable face of dolls for boys.

(And before anyone gets a bit miffed with me referring to Action Man (or G.I.Joe) as a doll, if you owned one, just how many different outfits did you have for him? And how often did he get changed? He was a doll – just a manly, rugged doll with a scar on his face.)

To drum up sales for the toy, the character was licensed to Marvel Comics in 1979 and in December of that year, the first issue of Rom: Spaceknight was published, written by Bill Mantlo and illustrated by Sal Buscema.

Image result for rom spaceknight comic

The comic book ran for 75 issues up until February 1986 and the character of Rom was fully integrated into the Marvel Universe. The comic actually lasted longer than the toy it was originally created to support.

Now, as the character was only licensed to Marvel, the rights to the character were retained by Parker Brothers, who subsequently became a subsidiary of Hasbro. So, whilst the comic book established him as a character within the Marvel Universe, created a supporting cast and back story for him and introduced the alien race known as Dire Wraiths, whilst all of the Marvel created characters CAN be used by Marvel, Rom can’t. So, you won’t see an official Heroclix miniature of him any time soon. He truly is a Forgotten Hero.

However, a massive cyborg warrior in gleaming silver armour, armed with a Neutraliser to banish those Dire Wraiths masquerading as humans to Limbo, is just too cool to remain forgotten, and whilst the toy was a little underwhelming, the iconic image from the cover of his first issue just begs to be replicated in miniature, so that’s what I’m going to attempt.

My base figure for this conversion is the Marvel Heroclix Aleph, from the Avengers Assemble subset:

As you can see, picking a base figure that is as close to the original as possible always makes your life a bit easier. My intention is to re-position the legs to get that iconic wide-legged stance, remove and re-position both the head and the left arm and add a scratch-built Neutraliser to his left hand. The various illustrations show him using it in both his left and right  hands, but I want to mimic the image from the cover of his first issue as much as possible, so he will be left-handed.

I saved the axe-head from the Drax Heroclix figure I converted into Trapjaw, as this is made from transparent red plastic, specifically with this conversion in mind, as I will be using it to create Rom’s visor and the end of his Neutraliser. Well, that’s the plan anyway…

Until next time…

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…