Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fighting Fire With Fire

Sometimes it takes a dragon to beat a dragon.  The toughest character in our party running the Tyranny of Dragons gauntlet is the dragonborn warrior, Karran.  This paladin is a white-dragon blooded tank of a hero.  Unlike the three previous characters in the party, the guy playing this character didn't go with a dark color palette.

He went with white on white.

All right to make this work, I tried a bluish undertone for the 'skin' portions of the figure, and a yellowish undertone for the armor.  In retrospect, those would have looked better reversed.  This guy looks more like a blue dragon to me.

Once again, the shield served as a way to provide an additional splash of color.  No idea what the player wanted for the shield, but a nice tribal dragon emblem seemed appropriate.
That weird looking axe is an artifact of an ill conceived weapon swap.  The character wields a big old axe, and the figure comes with a couple of sword options and a mace option.  I stole an axe from a dwarf (see tomorrow's post), and tacked it onto the swords' dragon wing hilt.  It's bulky, but it seems to work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sic Semper Tyrannis Draconis

Aramis, cleric of Helm, tank-slash-healbot extraordinaire, and all around good guy.  He has been instrumental in cracking the tyranny of dragons campaign.  

Fifth edition clerics seem like a hard class to play.  They have so many options at every level of the game, there's a lot to track at every stage of the game.  The guy who runs our cleric is very good at his job, he saves the buffs for the right time, and always seems to have heal slots available when needed.

His color choice?  Not so much.  He asked for black and silver, which is fine and all, but the party already has a black archer, a dark mage, and now a dark cleric - we're seriously running the risk of looking like the bad guys here.  This figure also needed something to break up the monochrome, and that's where the shield saved me.

For those not in the know, that's the symbol of the Forgotten Realms' deity, Helm.  A splash of blue background helps provide a nice contrast with the rest of the figure.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons - Zero Dark Thirty, FR Style

We got bin Laden Frulahm Mondath!

I think that's his name.  He's one of the high ranking priests of the Cult of the Dragon that's been causing such trouble in northern Faerun of late.  Let me back up to the middle...

When last we left our plucky band of heroes (a band that really needs a name) , they had just infiltrated a large cave complex being used by the cult as...well, no one really knew, that's why the band was in there in the first place.

Having dealt with the door guards, our resident archer felt ill and elected to stay behind and guard our backs by watching the cave mouth.  (Read: Dan couldn't make the game.)  His loss would be sorely felt.  Just around the first corner of the cave, we knew there was a patch of shrooms that, if mixed properly, would give the human and dragon-born darkvision.  Alas, said shroom garden was being tended by two flying kobolds and a big bastard of a lizard beast.

Henry St. John barged right on down a slippery slope rather than take the stairs and proceeded to beat the holy living nine hells out of the lizard beast, while the rest of the party variously shot down the kobolds, and fell face first into the mushroom patch, which stirred up poison spores.  The resultant hallucinations knocked the dragon born tank right out of the fight.  Which would have proven disastrous in the face of kobold reinforcements, except for a well placed shatter spell cast by the death mage - that one spell knocked every last one of the little blighters dead.

Bumper sticker often seen on the
wagons of Forgotten Realms hippies!
Time for some stealth.  Not our fortay.  Our party located a large temple, and opted not to disrupt the ongoing ceremony (Coexist!), the midnight meat locker, and the meat delivery service.  Valuable intel all, but we decided to retreat to a secondary tunnel near the entrance rather than follow the meat delivery wagon - whatever they are delivering the meat to looks like it punches out of our weight class.  Perhaps some other time.

The side tunnel proved to be a guard barracks.  One ambush, fortified by a very useful bless spell from the good cleric Aramis, stopped all but one of the guards from alerting the big bossman.  Unfortunately, one was all it took.  We chased that cowardly bugger right into the lair of Frulah Mondath himself.

Frulah was well prepared, having healed up the tattle-tale guard, and also having cast some weird protection spell that summoned four ghostly cavorting demons - each of which stood as the corner of a spell of protection that caused heavy damage to all who approached the slavering and ranting cleric.  A decent archer sure would have come in handy right about then.

That crazy cleric wound up putting two members of the nameless party down hard before the dwarf could konk him on the head hard enough to put him out of action.  If the party didn't have two healers, somebody could have gotten killed in the encounter.  As it was, the party tied up the fanatic, looted the room, naturally, and high-tailed it out of the cave with valuable intel and a high ranking prisoner to boot.

All in all, it was a good day of dungeon delving.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Grim, The Party Continues

Grim, a serious archer style rogue with a strong mercenary streak is second in the lineup of the heroes blundering their way through WotC's Tyranny of Dragons campaign.  No idea if I got the colors right on this guy - his player missed the session where I asked for suggestions.  This characters seems to be a brooding type, hence the darker palette. I added a couple splashes of color to his undershirt and bow, just to keep things interesting.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mele Kalikimaka Loot!

Here's hoping your celebration of the birth of our savior was a smashing success.  (As I type this, Hawaii is still in the midst of the throes of the birthday celebration.)  This year the lovely and long suffering wife fed my addiction with a copy of Neil Thomas' latest tome, One Hour Wargames.  This is the perfect book for those of us looking for quick and compact games to fiddle with in the evenings.  Expect a longer and in depth review once it has been read and fully digested.

28mm figure for scale.
Also up for your consideration today, a truly massive miniature (by my 15mm standards), a 28mm fantasy figure.  I know what you're thinking: look at Warren switching up and starting a new scale - that old wargamer ADD finally bit him good and hard.  Guilty as charged, your honor, but there are a few mitigating factors involved here.

Gilgamesh - a tiefling death mage
For one thing, this Reaper mini was painted for my son for use in our on-going D&D campaign.  For a second thing, the second golden rule of miniature wargaming is "build and play what your friends build and play".  Our DM goes to great lengths to draw up elaborate full color maps in 28mm scale, as shown previously.  The effort that goes into painting a few large figures for the campaign pales in comparison.

And yes, that last sentence was a teaser for future posts - you can expect to see the rest of the party in miniature over the coming days (and probably weeks, if recent history is any guide.)  My Christmas gift to the D&D group is a figure representing their character, with a book handling wizard for the DM (who as you know doesn't have a character of his own.)

Merry Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Five Parsecs, First Time

This past weekend the boy and I played our first legit game of FiveCore.  His ragtag spaceship crew was hired by the local authorities to escort a key witness across town to the safety of a waiting armored vehicle.  My gangster and his hired goons, triplets in heavy armor, had been hired by the local crime syndicate to make sure that witness met with an unfortunate accident on the way to safety.

The battlefield - we rolled for random entry points.  The escape
vehicle is hiding just behind the red-topped building in the upper
center of the battlefield.
The crew huddles for safety at the start of the game.
First encounter - his second in command gets charged by
the leader of the goons and meets a grisly end.
She is avenged by the crew's snakeman who uses a mental
block on the goon to sneak in and stab him in the back.

The game results in a pyrhhic victory for the goons.  They managed to kill the witness, but two of the three brothers died, and the leader of the goons suffered crippling injuries.  Hope the crime syndicate paid him well, because he's going to have to retire to a quiet life of drudgery doing something really boring for a living, like geology or something.

I'm still trying to decide if I like Five Parsecs from Home.  The game takes a "no stats, but lots of special rules" approach to wargames, and in many ways feels more complicated than its "lots of stats, no special rules" counterparts.  With stats everything you need is right there on one line in numbers.  With special rules, you've got to remember which ones apply at which time, and that means a lot more to remember on the fly.

Our first game led to frequent stops and head slaps when I realized that guy had this skill which should have negated that event.  It felt like the late stages of a Necromunda campaign where you've got too many guys with too many skills to remember them all at once.

Note that this isn't necessarily a criticism of the game.  As I said, I'm still trying to decide if I prefer this style.  I definitely want to take it for a few more spins around the block before committing one way or the other.  The crew still has five active members, and the crime syndicate is likely looking for revenge for the deaths of two of their finest hitmen...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sci-Fi Skirmish Documented Aliens

Look at all this personality.  These guys are great.  Brutal beasts, galumphing stocky blobs, and thin mysterious snakemen.  We truly live in a golden age of 15mm figures.  So many choices, I could could paint nothing but random aliens for a year and never run out.
Khurasan on the left, on the center and left

That big boy on the left is clearly an orange class alien, in Five Parsecs from Home parlance, so it only made sense to paint up a bright orange.  The scheme for the snakeman is taken from a snake native to Arizona called the spotted leaf-nosed snake (phyllorhyncus decutatus).  There are so many brilliantly colored snakes out there in the world, you can pretty much make up your own colors and it's better than even odds you just duplicated something in the earth wilds.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sci-fi Skirmish Robot Pals

I've seen a lot of guys paint up this Khurasan robot (left) in a more colored ceramic style, as opposed to steel and chrome.  My effort just wound up looking garish.  Lesson learned - paint up the chrome underneath and then pick out the ceramic plates later.

If you ever paint up the short bot on the right (from, I'd suggest using a small disc to elevate the figure off the base.  He has a sort of hovercraft blower style balloon base, you can't see it in these photos, that would look great hovering a mm or two off the figure base.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sci-Fi Heroines and Adventuresses

Just a pair of ladies up for today.  One flashy and one gritty.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sci-fi Skirmish Heroes and Adventurers adventurer, Khurasan starship crew, and Rim Mercenary
Wow, did I screw up the face on that mercenary or what?  My starship crewman is painted up in a more flamboyant space pirate style...

...he's also a bit of a Deadhead, as you can see.  The adventurer on the left's cape is supposed to look like an alien tiger or zebra stripe.  Not sure it works, but it looks flashy on the table.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Never Too Early

Win their minds when they are young, and you'll have them for a lifetime...

Choosing a starting figure.

Time for flocking.

I'm really more of a historical wargamer, Dad.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sci-Fi Figure Comparison

As above, so below.  In life there are svelte and petite people and there are big ol' chunky people.  So why should life on the tabletop battleground be any different?  

That's the question for today's comparison between Khurasan and figures. On the one hand, there is a clear difference in style between the two figures.  Khurasan's figures utilize realistic proportions and teeny little details. Figures from exaggerate features, the better to read at arms length. Putting both figures next to each other results in the exact sort of difference in body types that you see in the real world.

Left: Khurasan Xenobiologist.
Right: Rim Mercenary (HOF54)
To answer one of the questions that is always on the lips of wargamers everywhere - yes, these figures work well together.

Having said that, the more I paint blockier figures, the more I appreciate figures cast with an eye towards painting.  That xenobiologist is a great scuplt - she's got belt loops for cripe's sake - that should challenge the best eyes and brush for detail.

But for gaming in 15mm scale?  Do I really need belt loops on my figures?  Nope.  All that extraneous detail does is slow down painting, and like all wargamers my lead mountain doesn't need the extra time and challenge of sussing out belt buckles let alone loops.  That Rim Mercenary on the other hand...he took a third the time to paint and looks just as good on the battlefield.  More and more these days, I'm losing patience with the hyper-realistic casts and enjoying figures that are fun and fast to paint.

Is that a sign of an aging wargamer?  I wonder...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons 2: Catching Up on Things

The Old Gang has met a few times to work our way through the D&D 5th edition feature campaign, A Tyranny of Dragons, and while playing my son pointed out how far behind this blog was.  Here's a quick update for those of you comparing your experience to mine:

After surviving the Cult of the Dragon's full blown invasion of the town of Greenest, my character hit his head on a rock and died.  The party was called upon to save some townsfolk trapped in the old mill, and so elected to slip over the walls of the keep by night.  I failed a climb check and my character plummeted 20 feet to his death.  New character time!

The rest of the party, surviving the simple climb, sneaked out to the old mill only to discover a massive ambush - they fled before it could be triggered. As they climbed back into the keep, all hell broke loose.  The Cult smashed their way inside the inner courtyard, and a huge fracas ensued, with the party barely managing to turn the tide of the fight thanks to the timely intervention of a recently recuperated dwarf fighter named Henry St. John (my new character).  The incursion forced out, the keep settled into for a long siege.

The Cult had other ideas, though.  Their champion, a big blue half-dragon, called out a challenge to the keep; one on one combat.  Hostages were involved, so Henry St. John stepped up, answered the call...and got promptly skewered by Big Blue.  The big old half-dragon was a half-man of his word and left the hostages and the village, the entire raiding party heading off into the mountains well laden with ill gotten loot.
The next morning, the party set out to track down the raiding party, fought through the rear-guard, triggered an ambush, and discovered the valley/headquarters of the Cult.
Interlude:  At this point I have to break to sing the praises of our esteemed DM.  He hand drew and colored a bunch of large maps for each of the major encounters.  The picture below shows the enemy encampment and surrounding environs.  This is a small valley; the blue and red icons are tents, the orangish square jobs are watch towers, and the blue blob in the far back is a large cave mouth.  

The two humans and dragon-kin disguised themselves with looted uniforms taken from the rear-guard and wandered into a party celebrating the successful raid on Greenest.  The dwarf and tiefling necromancer wouldn't pass muster, so hiked up to the northern ridge and selected some largish rocks to roll into the camp as distraction, if needed.

The three infiltrators managed to bluff their way to the back of the camp, free a bunch of prisoners including a scholar who is an expert on the cult, and sound the general alarm.  Just when their cover was about to be blown, the dwarf and necromancer started rolling rocks down into the camp, hooting and hollaring, and raising a general ruckus.  Then they ran like little girls.  In the ensuing chaos, the party rogue snuck into the large HQ tent, and stole a bunch of intel and a big 'ol sword.

After a day of rest (and levelling up), the party returned to the camp, only to find the camp decamped.  The tents were gone, the troops gone, everything above ground...gone.  Curious about what lay inside the big cave at the back of the alley, the party girds their loins and enters...

And that's the end of about three sessions of play.  Overall we're finding fifth edition to be much faster than 3rd or 4th edition, and probably slower than 1st or 2nd?  We're doing a lot more skulking and scouting than stand up fighting at this point, so it's a little hard to judge.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sci-Fi Skirmish: Shark Attack!

To say I haven't been painting much lately would be a lie - I've painted the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, etc.  Painting terrain at 1:1 scale isn't as much fun as the 1:100 scale, so no pictures for you on that front.  On the sci-fi front, here's the latest batch.

My Five Parsecs from Home campaign needed a recurring evil empire, and these Aquatic Alien Warriors from Khurasan fit the bill quite nicely.  Being a Yank, the obvious choice for an evil empire is redcoats with white flashing and khaki pants.

The two sharkfaces on the left were a combined heavy weapons team.  I cut the barrel of the long rifle down to size, so it looks more like a well aimed shotgun.  The holder - the shark in the middle - will have a nice bright and shiny lazer sword added at some point.  Right now he just looks like he's practicing his batting swing. The right hand man is the squad leader and likely to be the one character in a group full of mooks.

Two more random figures on order today.  On the right we have a Kurasan Garn Hegemon, and on the right a Ground Zero Games robot.  Full disclocure, I used a painting service for the robot.  It's a small start-up service that goes by the name "My Daughter".  She elected to go with the classic blue/white scheme, to great success.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

More Khurasan Figures

Added four more figures to the sci-fi skirmish selection.  On the left we have the last of the alien bounty hunters.  The three figures on the right are part of Khurasan's post-apocalyptic line of figures.  Wolf-skin there doesn't do much for me in a sci-fi setting, but the two on the right are going to make fine sci-fi adventurers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sci-Fi Mercs

More painted miniatures ready to roll.  These are more Khurasan figures - the bounty hunter pack 80% complete - for use in some sci-fi skirmishing.  Still haven't run a game of 5 Parsecs from Home just yet, but we're getting closer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

15mm Objective Markers

Nothing fancy this update.  Just a couple of quick shots of my freshly painted scientists from Khurasan Miniatures.  The scientist on the left seems like a bit of a mis-cast - his right eye has a gaping hole where his glasses should be, but it works just fine.  My guy has a monocle instead of glasses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons, Chapter 1.2

Having escorted a small band of villagers and much needed supplies into the safety of Greenest’s keep, our heroes could spare little time for rest.  Tarbau and Escobar, the ranking officials within the keep, expressed profuse thanks and offered a safe place for a short rest.  First, though, something had to be done about the scaly blue monster raining lightning death down on the gates of the keep.  Our heroes made Grim, their ace archer extraordinaire, as comfortable as possible the hustled up to the uppermost tower  [Ed. Note – Grim’s player couldn’t make it to the game.  Since his character ended last session at 0 hp, it made sense to leave him behind during the session.]

The big blue dragon seen earlier in the day had returned and was strafing the tower with its breath weapon. Keeping its distance, the only real option was to hop into the seat of a lone ballista pn the parapet and take a shot. Ever the bluffer, your humble storyteller cast a quick illusion to make the bolt look magic. Direct hit! Not enough to kill an old brute like the one overhead, the bolt scored enough damage to make the dragon think twice. Aramis followed up with a quick holy bolt of some sort, and that was enough to send the dragon headed for the countryside.

Finally, a chance to rest.  The whole party was depleted of its “until long rest” abilities, and this wouldn’t be the time.  A short rest to patch up the wounded gave the attacking cultists time to get some organization together – a peek from the keep revealed two main clusters of attackers and a tough choice.  Hit the overall commander over in the town square and end this madness?  Or mount a rescue mission to save the scores of folks holed up in the local chapel from the larger kobold and cultist besieging force?

First level with no spells left in the arsenal?   We’ll take the sneaky route and head for the Church, thank you very much.

So Escobar, rotund dwarf and apparent keymaster escorted the group down into the undercroft where a secret door and tunnel would allow the party to slip past the besiegers (almost) un-noticed.  A couple rusted-shut gates and a fight with two mobs of rats later, and the group stood just inside of a fake sewer pipe below the walls of the keep.  Just as they would have set out on their rescue, a kobold patrol blundered by.  With little time to discuss matters, the group ambushed the raiders slaughtering all but one cultist would escaped back into town.

Nothing to do but hustle up and hope to make it back before cult reinforcements. 

At the Church of Chakaal, three mobs block any hope of rescue.  The leader – an armor clad bruiser – had a mob battering the front doors with an improvised ram.  A bigger mob complete with large drakes stood milling about the side of the church, looking for weak spots.  The smallest mob, and the obvious weak link in the siege, was trying to burn down the large rear doors of the church.

I think the DM said Church of Chakaal.  I'm not really
up on my theology of Faerun, but in the campaign that goes
on in my head, the Church is totally dedicated to Chakaal.
Tally-ho. Our four heroes charged into the rear ranks of an enemy twice their number.  Surprise proved telling, as did the smokescreen the besiegers themselves were sending up.  Aramis and Karren, cleric and paladin respectively, swung for the fences, putting the two cultist leaders down on the ground with no time to sound a definitive alarm.  The half-elf quickly snatched up the cloak and scimitar of one of the two human leaders of the enemy mob and barked orders at the kobold ranks, thinning them by half. 

The following conversation demonstrated that comedy lives even in the midst of tragedy.  The party turned to the “face” of the party, Mr. Fast Talk Half-Elf, to convince the townies that rescue had arrived.  But first, Aramis pointed out, you might want to ditch the cultist disguise.
Oh.  Yeah.  So…

“Tell her Liane sent us.”
“Liane sent us.”
“Tell her Escobar sent us.”
 “Escobar sent us.”
“Tell her –“
“Hey!  Who’s got the 17 Charisma here?”
It’s hard to tell sometimes.”

The door cracked open, revealing a lovely half-elf priestess, a human cleric, and 22 other villagers including the priest and priestess, which the party hustled out the back and into the woods.  A half-hearted attempt to distract the remaining raiders turned into a full blown retreat when the front door collapsed in splinters.

The two dozen citizens might have been safely out of the chapel and into the woods, but they weren’t out of the woods yet. Remember the one that got away?  The cultist that survived the ambush at the back door of the keep?  The now much larger party arrived at the false drain just moments before a large raiding party.  The heroes took up position amid the brush and started to hustle the citizens into the dank tunnel, but it was clear the kobold raiders were going to cut them off before they could get everyone in.

So Raane, the illusionist, quickly hunkered down and cast a minor illusion – a dead kobold farther up the stream valley.  This bought the villagers a precious few rounds in which the aged, infirm, and young could escape.  The sally-port cum escape hatch safely locked and sealed behind them, the group still had no time for rest.  One more encountered loomed, but it was late and the boys (young and old) were too tired to see that one through to the end of Chapter One. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Three Brothers

Still prepping to run a game of "Five Parsecs From Home", a game that calls out for a bunch of random figures more than a coherent squad of uniformed types.  The failed experiment in tweaking 15mm figures left me with a couple of heavy armored alien types.  To split the difference between affiliated figures and one-offs, I painted up three brothers with very different color schemes, then tied them together with green stripes.  While they make for a nice little mini-squad, they can also be slotted into a trading vessel's crew as the muscle of the group.

Meanwhile, I've been slowly building up more interior terrain as well.  This control panel is a bit of a test piece.  The colors and paint look great...

...but I'm not exactly thrilled with the height of the unit.  Needs more elevation to really look the part of some decent cover.  The figures are supposed to be big, but a knee-high control panel doesn't cut the mustard.  Have to decide between adding a piece of square dowel to double the height, or finding a different material to use for the base.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Scatter Terrain Mix

In anticipation of a new terrain build - 15mm interiors something along the lines of Tiny Solitary Soldiers - here are a few pieces of scatter cover.  First up, three plastic trees.  These are repainted Toob Trees primed black and dry brushed up.  

The bases of the trees are fortification pieces from the old game, "Shogun" or "Samurai Swords".  They have been flipped over and filled with a sand/white glue mix.  The colored spots are supposed to be flowers.
The bottom row of pieces make great planters.

These boring old cylinders were free, but they have an interesting source.  They are small vented tubes that contain desiccants.  Pharmacists put them into packages of drugs to keep them moisture free.  I went down to Walgreen's, a major drugstore chain here in the US of A, and sweet talked the pharmacist into parting with a small handful for my son's "science project".  That seemed a lot more likely to work than having to go through the whole wargames-or-model-railroad song and dance.  It worked, too.  That nice ol' gal gave me a half dozen for free.

As always, the major dytsopian corporation that runs everything in my games is Buy N' Large.  They have a bright, recognizable logo that is easy to paint at almost any scale.  My interior terrain is likely going to be bright and airy with clean white walls and plenty of robots.

All figures in this post are figures with head swaps.