Saturday 20 June 2020

Brave Companions, not those ones...

And thus, my party of brave companions for Rangers of Shadow Deep is complete!

Rangers of Shadow Deep is primarily a narrative based solo wargame, and this is how I selected my crew:

My Ranger is actually a Paladin from the kingdom of... somewhere, I haven’t chosen a name yet. Potentially the kingdom that just got eaten by the Shadow Deep (Lorenthia?) - the narrative that I imagine for her is that she had a vision of terrible things happening, a mighty darkness spreading across all the land, all that jazz, and so was dutifully sent off on a crusade to smite and purge the darkness. In reality, whilst her vision was in fact sent from the gods, and correctly foreshadowed actual terrible things about to befall the kingdom, opponents of hers in her home land politically outmanoeuvred her and arranged for her to be sent out of the kingdom, where she wouldn’t be able to interfere with their self-serving politicking. The joke is on them though, as not long after she gathered her companions and set out to smite the unworthy, the Shadow Deep consumed their entire kingdom, leaving few survivors...

So, how did I choose this Ranger, and how did I spend my points? Honestly, I just wanted to use this mini, and the backstory flowed from that! I gave her a bump to movement (to reflect her elven parentage) as well as a boost to fight, to represent her taking a generally hands-on approach to punishing the wicked. +20 Recruitment Points, as I intend to primarily play solo, and three points spent on skills, because, well... I want her to be able to do some stuff? 

Getting distracted slightly, there’s an interesting argument to be had about optimising in Role-playing games - whilst it can be interesting to overcome your statistical shortcomings, in a heroic adventure if your stats don’t support your ability to do the things you intend to, it isn’t much fun (essentially, if you don’t have good enough stats that you consistently fail at every task you attempt, it isn’t particularly fun or heroic. On the other hand, I tend to roll really badly when playing D&D, leading to my highly skilled adventurer falling off of all sorts of interesting and exotic things...). 

She got a spread of skills, but zero points in Pick Lock, Stealth, or Traps, as such subterfuge is not for a follower of a god that I still haven’t chosen a name for...
With the remaining points, I took the spell Heal, as I envision that being a suitably holy ability for a paladin clad in shining armour, and the ability Hand of Fate (as a reroll is exactly what you get when you’ve got a god looking out for you). For the final point... I’m not sure, currently. At the moment I have Focus written on the sheet, to represent a ‘divine inspiration’ type skill (I’ve been listening to ‘The World Tree Burns’ actual play D&D podcast a lot recently, and a character in that did something similar, communing with Wotan to temporarily gain proficiency in alchemy, which inspired this choice). However, on the other hand I see my paladin as very much the smiting type, so I may take a more combat oriented skill to start with and save Focus for a future level up reward, to represent her gaining the ability through her ongoing dedication and service to her holy patron...

Equipment wise, I was led by the model - heavy armour, sword and board. Popular opinion on the internet is that heavy armour is too restrictive in ROSD, and she’ll promptly drown, but I’ll take my chances! She also took a Holy Icon, because Paladin. Originally I was tempted to take a throwing dagger, to represent some sort of single use smiting power, but decided in the end to break my usual WYSIWYG tendencies and give her a bow, as we’re going to need to shoot some bad guys (and her companions are generally lacking in ranged abilities...)

For her companions, rather than a group of hirelings or a military unit, I saw them as more of an adventuring party, and so she is accompanied by:

Finneas Proudfoot, Halfling Rogue
(Thank you random website with lists of example halfling names for that one)

This was actually the first miniature that I decided I wanted to use for my Rangers of Shadow Deep project (because... just look at him! Everything Westfalia Miniatures make is brilliant, but this is really the cream of the crop) which turned it onto the theme of an adventuring party rather than the standard royalty appointed ranger group. Admittedly, I also considered several other options (the Witcher! Game of Thrones! Samurai!) before finally settling on this one... 

Whilst you might not expect to find a dastardly villain (in the eyes of the law, really he’s more of a loveable rogue to his friends) like this accompanying a holy avenger, I imagine she justifies it as turning his ‘unique skills’ to a higher purpose, and maybe even redeeming him along the way... Finneas, on the other hand, is entirely happy to go where the money is, as long as there is food to be had and ample opportunities to keep his hand in with a little lockbreaking and light burglary... I gave him survival for his additional skill, after some musing, as it references food preparation in the description, and the mini has a sausage or two to hand after all!

River Wind
(Name stolen from the barbarian in the D&D game that I played in before lockdown)

A Savage, to dole out the beatings to anything that might stand in the party’s way. I chose a barbarian rather than a savage purely because I preferred the paint job on this mini over any of the barbarians I have with a single handed weapon! His additional skill points went to Swim, which inspired the name (as the character in our party that was the inspiration is a barbarian from a boating tribe, who is a keen swimmer)

Brother Eoin
(A name I liked, rather than a reference, unusually)

Another crew member picked because I liked the model, originally painted way back during the original (and only) Week of Mega Power, back in the heady days of 2012, before having children when I could dedicate an entire week to just painting miniatures! He was chosen as an arcanist, as I imagined the paladin pulling together her crew to cover a variety of skills that she herself isn’t as proficient at, allowing them to prevail through almost any situation, rather than just bringing a cadre of bloodthirsty warriors to attempt to punch out the Shadow Deep (although don’t worry, the paladin herself won't shirk from applying sword based solutions to most problems). His additional skill points were put into Armoury, as I imagined him being a faithful follower from their holy order that has accompanied her on many a crusade, tasked not only with lore based responsibility but also the maintenance of her armour and weapons, themselves relics of their order.  

Five Trees Falling
(Yes, the name is a Thursday reference)

We’ve got a rogue for the sneaky sneaky, an arcanist for any mysteries, and a tracker for any outdoors type activities! This mini is the only one that was painted specially, as mentioned in the previous post, as it had the right equipment! While ROSD isn’t strictly wysiwyg, I figured I was less likely to forget what equipment she had if I could just look at the mini... and so, she was plucked out of the queue of undercoated Wildling miniatures that live on my painting desk (narrowly beating out the Frostgrave cult tracker, which whilst beautifully posed would have been yet another male mini). She got Survival as her additional skill, as I see her as an outdoorsy type, living off the land.

Jarreth Eisteddfod, the ladies favourite, Prince of Mages, Chosen of the Falling Star
(A magical forename with a Tripod song referencing surname, and then plentiful titles that I imagine he has awarded himself)

The last member of the party is my jeggings and headband wearing wizard. Originally I wanted to include an owl familiar for my Paladin, but the allure of having a Jim Darkmagic-esque wizard was too much to resist! I imagine that he’s something of a new hire, having talked himself up in the local taverns, and now it’s time to prove himself... Plus, I can always acquire a winged companion the first time the Paladin gets a Recruitment Point increase on levelling up, which I imagine narratively as being a reward sent from her god to accompany her on her ongoing adventures... I took him as a conjuror, although I believe there are a number of more specialised magic users in the Temple of Madness expansion... He got Read Runes as his additional skill, as I imagine that despite him being mostly bluster and self-promotion, he is actually trained in the use and understanding of magic...

And that’s the party! All I need to do now to be able to play the first scenario is paint some peasants. And finish painting the buildings. And fences. And make some bushes. Paint some barrels. Make some trees. Maybe make a mat... coming in 2022 at this rate...

Friday 19 June 2020

A spearwife without a spear tip...

...does that make her a staffwife?

I finished the final miniature needed for my Rangers of Shadow Deep party, the Tracker:

A lovely Frostgrave sculpt, that I really messed the face up on but after a few more passes I liked how he rest of the model looked so didn’t want to strip it and start again! Lockdown has been tough, I think I need to get some new brushes...

This miniature was originally purchased to be a Spearwife in my Wildling project, but was plucked from the queue of undercoated miniatures to get a slightly brighter paint job than she would have otherwise! I’m especially a fan of the various beads sculpted in her hair, which add a splash of colour - I probably would have stuck to neutral bone and wood colours has I been painting her solely as a Wildling, but I added some pops of gold, blue and green instead, imagining that she’s acquired some pretty beads and trinkets on her travels.

Finishing her takes the Tally to:

17 vs 68 = -51

Thinking about it, she’d also make a nice dnd Ranger, so I’ll include her in the Classes project too!

Coming next: the whole party!

Monday 15 June 2020

Eight legs, how many watches?

Continuing on the theme of ‘my laser like focus to complete the miniatures I need to play a solo war game of Rangers of Shadow Deep’, I finished painting some giant spiders: 

Sculpted by Mark Copplestone, these gribbly little beauties are gross in the best possible way - I tried to give their abdomen that mottled, gross pattern you get on some spiders. Also: see their glinting, multitudinous eyes, which you wouldn’t believe there are four different colours on (not counting undercoat and grey dry brush) to look at these pictures. 

One thing I like about this sculpt is that you can get a variety of poses with a little careful bending:

(I even managed to only break a single leg being a bit heavy handed, which was carefully glued back on!)

One of the things that attracted me to Rangers of Shadow Deep was the fact that I could play the majority of the missions using my backlog of fantasy miniatures without having to buy anything new, but these spiders were the exception to that, an odd hole in my collection...

As well as menacing my Ranger (well, Paladin, as you’ll hopefully see soon in a future blog post), they can do double duty for Dungeons & Dragons, although again they only get an appendix entry in the Monster Manual so don’t qualify for my Monstrous Alphabet challenge!

To give you an idea of scale, here is one of them menacing an under coated Captain Scarlet:

Not so big that you couldn’t boo it with a stick, but big enough that it would be a terrible nuisance when you’re busily trying to loot their forest...

Finishing these 8 doubles my number of painted miniatures this year, and takes the Tally to:

16 vs 68 = -52

Next: one last miniature to complete my companions for Rangers of Shadow Deep, then some scatter scenery, some civilians, then to make some trees...

In other news, we showed our daughter Princess Mononoke last weekend (side note - I didn’t remember it being that violent until I showed it to a 5 year old), and before the movie had even finished I was already considering starting a Japanese Fantasy project reskinning Rangers of Shadow Deep to Ronin of...

Last minute edit: I forgot, I actually acquired another miniature! Uncle Johnny posted this through my letterbox:

As I saw (on Scruffy Crow’s YouTube channel) some conversions using this old school monopods Chaos Warrior as a base, and fancied giving it a try!

This does, however, leave the Tally at:

16 vs 69 = -53

Friday 12 June 2020

When I was your age, clearing rats out of a tavern basement...

...was a perfectly respectable way to start your adventuring career...

Swarms of rats! These resin beauties were from Anvil Industries, purchased originally with the intention of using them for Zona Alfa but also slotting nicely into my needs for the first Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario (as well as any potential future D&D games - they don’t get a full entry in the Monster Manual, so don’t count towards my Monstrous Alphabet challenge alas). The single rat is just in case we ever need a familiar or pet in a future game...

5 bases brings the Tally to:

8 vs 68 = -60

Coming soon: more miniatures that I need for the first Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario, and then presumably I should finish the scenery that I’ve been putting off finishing. I’m back at work now though, so hobby time is slightly reduced...

What’s not coming soon: Horus Heresy. I briefly imagined a future project which is a mini Horus Heresy campaign, with a number of small skirmishes affecting the force compositions of the final, epic-scale battle, but looking at the prices for epic stuff on eBay that’s been quashed right down for now...

Monday 1 June 2020

The year of the plague (doctor)

Whilst it may have been a while since my last confession, do not think that I have been idle! Although admittedly the things that have taken up most of my time aren’t finished yet, so you won’t see the fruits of that this post...

My Salute order from Fenris arrived, and had a free miniature in, taking another point off of the Tally:

(I’ve also placed and received another order since that I apparently forgot to take any pictures of, but it was some walls and rubble, so no effect on the Tally)

The chum who waved Rangers of Shadow Deep under my nose was considering ordering a couple of Frostgrave sprues to try them out, so I offered to trade him one of my Soldier 1 sprues if he ordered a couple of Soldier 2, so I find myself in possession of this bunch of lovely ladies:

He also threw in Mad Donna, because my friends are generous to a fault. 

The box I delivered the week before:

I threw in a couple of interesting bits from the Barbarian sprues as well in case he fancied taking a barbarian companion for his own solo ROSD games...

At ten to midnight on the day that Partizan would have been, I found myself idly scrolling the Crooked Dice web store, and ordered myself a Captain Scarlet lookalike as it was on sale (which has led to me spending the last week or so of lockdown watching the original series while I do the washing up, and considering ordering a load more to do an entire Spectrum force, but I’ve managed to hold off thus far as I’ve only undercoated this first one so far!)

My order came with another freebie as well, tugging the Tally even further into the red (or should that be scarlet)...

Finally, I ordered a pack of Copplestone Giant Spiders that I’d need for the first couple of ROSD scenarios, seen here with Captain Scarlet for scale: 

They’re horrible, in a good way. I thoroughly enjoyed bending their little legs and mandibles around to get a variety of poses!

It hasn’t all just been me gingerly receiving packages at arms length from the postman though; having vowed to any gods that would listen that I would dedicate myself solely to finishing miniatures and terrain needed so that I could play the first couple of Rangers of a Shadow Deep of course the first thing that I’ve finished isn’t actually for that:

A plague doctor from CP Models, that I have no real need for but it caught my fancy, given the state of current affairs. Maybe I’ll claim it’s the first model in an Assassin’s Creed miniatures project that I haven’t started yet...

Lots of dry brushing to grubby him up as he stalks his way through the plague choked streets made this a relatively quick and satisfying paint job to complete, which brings the Tally to:

3 vs 68 = -65

What’s next? The miniatures needed for ROSD are half completed, so shouldn’t take much longer to get over the finish line. I’m about halfway through painting the buildings that I knocked up for the first scenario, but I find painting terrain much less entertaining than miniatures, so I’m jumping back and forth between the two currently...

In other news, after killing the blogger app, it seems they’ve now updated it so that it’s almost unusable in Chrome on my iPad. This post was brought to you by emailing the post to blogger as suggested by a quick google, that not working at all, and so flip flopping between various applications and drafts copying and pasting chunks, then doing it all again when none of the pictures worked. How is everyone posting? And if you’re also having to jump through these hoops, how do you deal with that frustration?