Monday, 11 December 2017

CXLVII. Shadespire: Obryn the Bold

Obryn the Bold, the second member of my version of Steelheart's Champions. He is a beefy fellow wielding a two-handed hammer. Same as with Angharad, I gave him an extensive armour makeover and a worn-out look with the paintjob.

 
 

The original model, for comparison.
Again, huge shoulder pads and weapon got replaced with something more reasonable. I also wanted him to have a full breastplate, so I resculpted that part.
The blue parts are the original mini, the grey is other bits and the green/yellow are putty.
In the meantime, I've played my first game of Shadespire. I'm happy to say I like the game, so the warband will not sit unused for sure.


Angharad and Obryn. Only one member left to do - the leader.
I've been asked a few times for a tutorial for this weathered armour. I just want to say haven't forgotten; it will appear here soon.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

CXLVI. Shadespire: Angharad Brightshield

Bought Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire last week. From the time it was announced, the game was advertised as "the ultimate competitive miniatures game". Since I'm not one for competitive gaming (not that I have anything against that approach in general, I just prefer to invest my energy in other things), I was mildly put off initially, but as I learnt more I warmed up to the idea of starting it. I like the small count of miniatures and gaming implements needed, the short play time for a single game, rules simple to learn but not dumbed-down, as well as the not too steep price of warbands. What I don't appreciate is the fact each warband comes with new cards any warband can use, so in order to have all the card options for anyone warband one must buy all the warbands. However, I don't need all the cards... And even if I want to, I can borrow or proxy. I do not intend to play this in tournaments. Anyway, saw this as opportunity to convert some Dark Age of Sigmar Stormcast. Only three models for a complete playable warband. Nice.

I am not thrilled with the Stormcast aesthetics, but I don't hate them either. They possess enough elements I fancy that I feel they have a lot of potential. With the Shadespire three I want to make some darker-looking Stormcast Eternals. I've been looking mostly at Dark Souls game series art books for inspiration. I have ideas for more customised Shadespire warbands, but must stop myself before it gets out of hand...
 
Stormcast Liberatress Angharad Brightshield was a smith in her past life, according to the book.
Put a golden sun on her tower shield; seemed appropriate to explain why they call her Brightshield.
 

With this conversion, first order of business was to reduce the way over-the-top things: shoulder pads, voluptuous boob plate, oversized hammer. Then I swapped the sidearm with a more medieval looking one, added chainmail in place of scales on the front, added some keys to fill a spot that seemed empty of detail, sculpted tassets and rondels, reshaped the shield and helmet. I'd say most of it is not even obvious at first glance on the painted model.

The blue plastic is the original model. The grey parts are from other plastic kits, and the yellow and green areas are putty.
The original model, for comparison.

Angharad's two comrades are still on sprue, but I expect they will follow soon enough.

*   *   * 
Also working on a cave entrance; another addition to the Wilderness terrain set and the final piece for Monstrous Births scenarios. It's polystyrene, clay and an old CD for a base. Quick and simple, nothing that hasn't been seen here before, so I won't go into detail. Still WIP, as it needs grass and some highlights on the rocks. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

CXLV. Abhorrant Ghoul Queen's Court: Varghulf Courtier

Arpad the Depraved, Prince of Folda; Queen Ligia's vicious feral child. A monster, feared both by his enemies and his mother's pathetic ghoul subjects.



Arpad was a foreign knight, trapped and converted by Ligia. During decades of undeath, his body gradually morphed into its current horrifying form. 


I. BACKGROUND




Varghulf Courtiers are huge vampires that have gone completely feral.

"Within every Vampire lurks a predatory creature, driven to feed on blood time and again. There are a few Vampires who embrace their thirst, who allow the bestial hunter within to take over. These are the Varghulfs - blood-mad killers that exist only to feed. A Varghulf's main weapon is a wide mouth filled with dagger-like fangs capable of puncturing armour and crushing bone. They use their immense claws to strip flesh from bones, the better to suck at the marrow of their prey."

"The varghulfs are entirely devoted to their liege, and so are more trusted to enact his vision upon the Mortal Realms than any of the other courtiers. Varghulfs drink long and deep from their master’s veins, and so theirconnection with the court’s sovereign is strong."
W:AoS Death Battletome: Flesh-eater Courts 



II. OFFICIAL MODEL


The mini dates back to the Vampire Counts release in 2008. I came across the issue of White Dwarf where the redesign of the faction was discussed. The Varghulf creature, which had not existed in the fluff before that time, was based on one of John Blanche's sketches. The rules and background for it were invented after the concept sketch. This was pre-Finecast days, so originally the mini was metal. I actually like everything about it except the pose...

Source: games-workshop.com


III. WHAT I DID, HOW, AND WHY


Since I made Ligia out of a Techpriest Dominus, I knew I had to make something from Belisarius Cawl. Looking at the available options within the faction, I elected to turn the model into a Varghulf Courtier. Prince Arpad is much more feral-looking than the Queen, with fur, long claws, and his snarling wolf head (the name suggests a wolf-like creature to me, rather than a bat). I veered away from the official background when I chose to make my Varghulf flightless; and I intend to play him ignoring the Fly ability on his warscroll. Also, there's those extra legs - but I think that goes well with that 10'' Move stat.    

Belisarius Cawl comes with a mass of characterful bits and pieces, making him a very busy model (which works in his case). I left off all of those extras and assembled only the core of the model. Many details still needed to be sanded away, and the numerous mechanical limbs under the robe had to be replaced with organic ones. I used Bloodletter and Kroot feet, and a left hand of a Poxwalker.
That's actually a deer head underneath the green stuff. Only the eyes were left untouched.
There were many little details to work out all over the model. My biggest concern was sculpting the head and hands right.
I liked the mechanical hands' pose, so I used that as a skeleton on which I built flesh and skin with green stuff. The clay shapers I got recently were absolutely essential for this task.
 *
Arpad posing with his mother.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

CXLIV. November



So, Gardens of Hecate rolls into its sixth year. 

Looking back on year five, it can be said it was a productive one. Back in January I listed my plans for it, and I'm happy to say I was successful at accomplishing these goals. I've built and painted a Swampfiend Malifaux crew with accompanying gaming aids, the Cult of Vvolos warband for use in AoS skirmish and Frostgrave, started another AoS28 band - the Flesh-eater Court of Folda, a few display pieces, then there were minis for Tor Megiddo and Monstrous Births. Sharing my work on Facebook, which is something I didn't use to do before, connected me to more people (but I stil very, very much prefer to publish on a blog). I took part in several local painting competitions and tournaments, did more hobby skill teaching at UMS "Agram", won an RPG writing contest in Poland with Witold, travelled to Finland to fight in a desert... A very good year, hobbywise. Hoping this one will be at least as good. :)

*   *   *

The fifth and final Misshapen Deer is finished. Monstrous Births is one small terrain piece away from being played.
 
This one has a parasitic twin and abnormal antlers.
 

Finally got the tools I needed, so my experimentation with sculpting can move further.


Back to work now. That Ex Profundis monster contest entry is not going to convert itself...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

CXLIII. Tor Megiddo

I'm back from the trip, recovered from it, so now it's time for a report. First, I'd like to say I'm glad that I went. Had a great time, met 'in the flesh' the great creative people with whom I'd been only communicating online. And, of course, saw their work in person. Thanks, everyone. A special honour goes to Alexander Winberg, who did a huge amount of work; he organized things really well, wrote the codex, made the table on which we played and made us all feel welcome in Helsinki. 

For the sake of those readers who are hearing about this for the first time, I'll explain what the event was about. Tor Megiddo was a collaborational project by hobbyists from the INQ28 crowd. Around a dozen people from different parts of the world were invited. Not all were able to make it in the end, so there were eight of us playing the game. Those who were not there still sent the minis they made for the project to serve as NPCs and monsters. In line with the INQ28 philosophy: the stress was on building and painting unique minis specifically for the event, inventing their backgrounds and playing out a story, while the rules were kept very loose and simple so that they don't get in the way of a good time. 

I wrote my report from the perspective of my warband. There was a lot happening on the table with so many players, and I could not keep track of all parts of the board. There were certainly many interesting moments elsewhere, like the duel of the Slåsbil and the Valkyre. Most of the other participants have their own blogs, and they will make their own write-ups, so I'm sure one will be able to figure out a more complete picture of the battle when these individual accounts are combined.

Places to look; blogs and sites of people who were there and other contributors: Echoes of Imperium, Wilhelminiatures, Secrets of the Void, The Convertorum, 'Nordics_minis' on Instagram, Bigbossredskullz, WarbossKurgan, Between the Bolter and Me. There was also lot of coverage on The Inquisitorium, the INQ28 Facebook group.   



*   *   *

 The New Transhumans

Right before dawn on that day, strange news come to the warlord triumvirate of the New Transhumans. They say that mighty quake that shook the ground the day before opened the Valley of Defilement. In the Valley the Promethean Tower was sealed, forgotten for a long time. The legendary seas of promethium lie beneath. And everyone else is already on their way. The three warlords agree they must act quickly. They have done this before... Warlord Balvan and his most trusted warriors grab their battlegear and rush towards the mega-cannons. The engineers start calculating the ballistics... Balvan's cousins Kugla and Kriegla rally their own men, fuel the trucks, saddle the beasts. As three thunderous cannon shots are fired skyward, the tribe's motorised force spills out of the fort gate. It is on.
 


The Battle of the Promethean Tower

Warbands descend on the Tower from all sides, opening fire at the unsuspecting locals. The first few civilian victims fall. Warlord Balvan and his warband crash around the centre of the battlefield - one of the pods landing on the Promethean Tower's lower platform and the other two at the base of the tower some distance away. The marksmen Theg and Smet start with firing some shots at the advancing enemy with mixed success, while the berserkers Hobotnik and Folf and their leader head for the the Tower with intentions to climb up its sides. Their mission is clear - claim the tower complex and hold it as long as you can - buying time until the tribe's main force arrives across the red desert. 

Theg exchanges shots with the mutant cavalry that galloped in from the south of the valley, and gets quickly shot down. Pathetic. Meanwhile, Balvan reaches a ladder, but an enormous purple truck pulls in, with a clear intention of turning him into roadkill. The warlord manages to step out of the way of the cumbersome vehicle, but seconds later another fortress on wheels tries to run him over. The final straw was the crew's attempt to burn Balvan with flame throwers; shouting vile curses, he raises his power fist and punches the truck in the face.

Balvan punching a truck.

Sounds of battle and engines are increasing in volume on all sides. As Folf reaches the top of the north Promethean Tower, he sees the surroundings - bikes, armoured vehicles, horsemen and warriors of many desert tribes, known and unknown to him. This will be a tough fight. But Folf did not have much time to contemplate on that, as the top of the tower was guarded - by none other than Machromonicum the 83rd, the Lord of Lead. The berserker's heart filled with excitement - he imagined all the glory he would win if he takes this mighty foe's head, here at the top of the Tower, in full sight of all. Folf swung his buzzing chainsword readily.

On the southern part of the Promethean Tower, Hobotnik begins his ascent in hope to find someone to kill there. The shots from trigger-happy mutant gunslingers ricochet around him as he climbs. He notices the familliar scavenger warriors with whom the Transhumans have a feeble alliance. Soon their walker reaches the tower and warriors step outside on the platform. They seem to have no intention to fight Hobotnik, and focus fire on the mutant gunslingers below. Hobotnik looks up the tower and sees the guards of the Lord of Lead. Heads for the ladder to climb to the top. 

Around that time a heavily armoured vehicle coming from the north plows through a suspicious pit of uneven ground to the east of the Tower. The ground suddenly shakes, and from the pit three toothed heads on long, serpentine necks emerge. The worms commence spewing toxic bile at the unfortunate souls around them...

The Sand Worms emerge.

As he pulls his massive fist from the hole he made in the armoured truck's front a moment ago, Balvan hears engine revving behind his back. Instinctively, he hurls himself to the left, just as the purple truck from earlier smashes into the heavily armoured truck... Balvan could have been flattened between the two. Talk about reckless driving... As much has he would love the bragging rights that would come with single-handedly punching a truck into a lump of scrap iron, he remembers his mission. Before the murderous trucks have time to turn around, he runs to the ladder and climbs up the platform. Since he was having so much fun with the trucks, he only just realised that warriors of other tribes are closing in on him. The Scrap Queen and her boys, the famed Blue Ruin, and something that looks like a walking tower made of meat... A few explosions sound from below, but Balvan cannot see what caused them. On the platform he finds Smet, taking cover behind his crash pod and happily firing away. A look up the tower reveals see Folf swinging his weapons maniacally at a crooked robed figure. 

Folf vs the Lord of Lead.


The meaty walker, which seems to be an actual living animal of incredible size, unloads its passengers at the end of the platform and moves on to engage someone else. The warriors that came out of the piglike beast lock eyes with Balvan and advance menacingly. The Scrap Queen herself rushes towards the Tower on her many mechanical legs. She is incredibly fast. Balvan grabs Smet and orders him to climb up to the Tower's summit, where Folf is still furiously battling the Lord of Lead. They won't let him take all the glory.
The lumbering Tor, a walking derelict promethium rig approaches from the distance. It is heading towards the Tower, minding not the battle around its unsteady metal feet.

It is becoming more and more crowded around the Tower.
On the south end of the Tower complex, the mutants have jumped off their misshapen steeds and met the scrapper allies of the Transhumans. Hobotnik finally sees an opportunity to butcher someone, and charges towards that melee, cutting mutants left and right. Just when they were all done away with, an ear-piercing, headache-inducing sound comes from below. The allies stumble around, stunned.


Hobotnik and the muties.

The Promethean Tower complex shakes as the Tor pulls to a halt leaning on the central platform. 

One of the folk that came out of the giant pig's harness, a hulking barbarian, noticed the Scrap Queen climbing up the tower's side, right beneath Folf and Smet's crash pod. With his immense strength he manages to push the heavy ball over the edge of the platform right on top of the unsuspecting Queen. She falls down, raising a cloud of dust. However, it is but a scratch... And now she is mad.  She goes back up to deal with the cur and anyone else who stands in her way.

The Scrap Queen about to be hit by a ball.

When Balvan and Smet get to the top, Folf is still struggling to kill the Lord. His heart sinks when he sees his mates, as he knows that now the kill will not be only his... All three of them advance against the Techpriest. He is much tougher than he looks...

Meanwhile, Hobotnik's drugged up mind all of a sudden recalls that he was supposed to climb the Tower, and with utter disregard for his allies, he leaps towards the ladder. Still reeling from the sound attack, some of them get kicked out of the way and fall from the platform, possibly to their deaths. The scrappers are in a hurry too, and as soon as they regain their composure they race past Hobotnik, with equal disregard of his safety. Warriors of both warbands head up the south tower, falling over each other.

The Bird of Hermes swoops in from the high skies and proceeds to sail silently over the battle. An ill omen... As if it knows something the humans do not, the Tor suddenly steps away from the Tower, and walks straight away from it, towards north-east. 

Bird of Hermes.

Supported by his warriors, Balvan finally manages to strike the final blow to the turbulent priest, and the Lord of Lead falls from the tower broken, crumpling into the dust below. There is no time for respite, though. The Lord's guards on the bridge between the towers roar in anger and begin firing furiously at the barbarians. The Scrap Queen appears, seemingly out of nowhere. She must have scaled the Tower's side. The three warriors, bleeding and exhausted by the fight, prepare to make a stand against the new threat.

And then, from the rickety shacks to the south-east, a projectile is fired from a hijacked turret. The Promethean Tower is hit directly, promethium ignites and explodes. Fire rains on the surroundings. A chain reaction occurs, blowing up the entire tower complex and everyone on it...
*   *   *

Everything getting blown up was really a fitting ending to the game, I must say.

The crew started brainstorming ideas for the next gathering as soon as we were done with this one and sat down to have a pint at the end of the day. There is definitely interest, so I expect there will be another one of these next year, in one form or another. Anyway, time for me to get back on track with my own small projects now.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

CXLII. Tor Megiddo - Final Preparations

Only a few days left till the game. The warband has been done for months, but there were still some extra bits to craft before I board my plane for the cold north.

Crash Pods


I wasn't going to have any vehicles from the start. Then only last week I got this fun idea of an alternative mode of transport for my troops.

My technobarbarian tribe, the New Transhumans, is in possession of super sized primitive cannons, which they use to quickly drop a squad of their toughest warriors straight where the fight is. The remainder of their force follows on the ground, setting out on trucks and beasts. They come later to the party, but able to carry the loot and roll the empty pods back home. 

The warlord rides in the big one, while the warriors must squeeze into the smaller ones in pairs.


They are styrofoam balls on 50mm lipped bases. I used copies of my sculpted shields for doors on the two smaller pods, and sculpted a bigger face for the Warlord's pod. I didn't have much time left, so I aimed to finish them as quick as possible. Simple build, black undercoat, rust, pigments and one extreme highlight on the doors. 

 

Stat Cards


I'm used to having cards for my characters in any game I play. They are useful and can look great with some effort.


For the backs of the cards I photographed each warrior (a sandy desert background would have been more suitable, I do admit; but I didn't have one around). I made the cards in Photoshop and then had them printed to size.

The stats were written out in the most fitting 40k-ish fonts I could find. Originally I planned to coffee-stain the cards, but then I ended up having them printed on paper with a semi-glossy finish, so I dropped that plan and left them clean. Each side was printed separately, then cut and glued back-to back, with a layer of heavy paper in between. The only weathering I did was distressing the edges with a file.

 

Tor Megiddo Codex 

 

The Codex PDF for the event was written by Alexander Winberg. I had it printed and then cut and pasted it into book shape, in order to have a physical copy.

 *   *   *

That's it, I'm all set. Next you hear from me will be in a report of the battle of Tor Megiddo.

 *

The land shakes beneath the fury of the storm.
The sand is drenched in blood and oil.
Most holy Promethium, it fills our veins with wrath.
Ride forth warlord! Blessed by the Cog and the Bolt!
Wage war in the sun!
Can you hear the engines starting?
Can you feel the boiling blood?
Can you see the storm approaching?
War in the sun

Thursday, 28 September 2017

CXLI. Updates On Several Fronts



Monstrous Births is slowly getting there, with only one miniature left to convert and paint. This means the short campaign ought to be ready and played out in November or December. Meanwhile, it came to life in a different form: that of a pen and paper RPG adventure. A few months back, I was approached by Witold Krawczyk with the proposal to co-write an adventure and enter it in this year's Quentin. I learned that Quentin is a Polish contest for best unpublished adventure scenario, held every year since 1999. I said yes and we agreed to adapt the story of Monstrous Births into RPG form. This required more fleshing out and expanding than I originally expected and, before we submitted it, Witold had to translate the entire text into Polish - the official language of the contest. We managed to meet the deadline, and when the results were published at the Copernicon convention last week, we were delighted. Pomiot (that's what MB's title is in Polish), was pronounced the winner of this year's Quentin. We hoped it could happen, but honestly did not expect it. We have plans for the adventure in terms of publishing, but that's a story for a different time. Thanks for initiating this, Witold; it was a pleasant collaboration.

*


On to the figures. Two more Misshapen Deer done, only one to go.

I added a different species of deer for some variety in fur colour.

The deformities. Along with creative numbers of limbs in both, one of the deer is cyclocephalus, and the other is dicephalus.


*   *   *

Queen Ligia of Folda received a fresh batch of subjects: four new Crypt Ghouls join my FeC warband.

Parts came from various kits again - from Empire State Troops to recent 40K Poxwalker.

On a related note, Ex Profundis announced another online contest in the vein of The Eclipse earlier this year. This time around the theme is monsters and the deadline is Halloween. Awesome! This is just that bit of extra motivation I needed to get to work on the next member of Ligia's royal court. The Eclipse had some really nice entries, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone does with their monster designs.   



*   *   *

And finally, a new pair of variants of the green man shield sculpt. I use leftover putty for those, so they get made more-or-less spontaneously.