03 September, 2015

Back from the Dead


THAT was a hiatus-and-a-half. Rest assured oh fellow lead-obsessives that the prior six months haven't been an utter void of hobby-action; although between working, family-related activities, running and completing a course in Bookkeeping, I can't honestly claim to have been prolific with either painting or gaming (or even buying stuff, for that matter). However, with the recent weather suggesting the onset of an early autumn and the inevitable curtailing of outdoor pursuits my mind has turned once more to thoughts of unbridled geekery and I fully intend that this post shall be the vanguard of more a frequent chronicling of an increased hobby output.

In the meantime I do have some pictures to share. Back in January I made a rather modest set of hobby-specific resolutions on this blog (see here for details), related to the finishing of several projects I have begun over the last couple of years. At the time I noted that my objectives weren't 'insurmountable' and, fatally, ended with the comment: 'hopefully I won't be eating a big slice of humble pie when I look back over these words in half-a-year's time...'. Famous last words, eh?

Well I can at least report that number '3' on my list - 'Finish off my 15mm Conan project' - has been almost realised, with the Picts and wolves pictured below being completed back in May/June. I have also purchased the steppe mammoth and the two coelodonta from Primaeval Designs which I mentioned then and these now sit based and primed inside my painting station. Hopefully they will appear in painted form in a forthcoming post and, until Mr Copplestone finishes his Barbarica 15mm range (Pictish characters and not-Romans, please!) their completion will mean that at least this project will be wrapped-up before the close of 2015. I've also just bought these templates and intend to make a few roundhouses in 15mm to act as a Pictish settlement.


Whilst talking of the talented Mr Copplestone, I played my first game of Frostgrave last weekend, obviously using proxy models. I created an Illusionist-led warband in about fifteen minutes and myself and two chums then set-to in a three-way encounter. Considering we were all virgins the session went without virtually a hitch, which is clearly proof of the robustness of the system. A particular highlight was my apprentice using the Push spell to blast Ashley's equivalent about six inches off a second story from whence he tumbled seventeen inches to the dirt, resulting in catastrophic damage and immediate removal from the field. Very cinematic and very, very amusing (sorry Ashley).

Once home I hit Ral Partha Europe's online store and ordered this model to act as my Illusionist and this model to act as his apprentice. Soldiers (the generic term for "henchmen" in Frostgrave) will probably be cobbled-together from existing pieces I have tucked away. If you haven't already guessed by this point, I like Frostgrave very much and suggest that you put your copy of WHFB 3ed back in the bookshelf and get playing: it's fast, fun and cheap (most of you will only need the rulebook).

06 March, 2015

Assorted Gribblies


WITH all this tutorial business I haven't had much chance to post up anything else recently, but needless to say behind-the-scenes I have been steadily chipping away at the leaden cliff face that perpetually looms over me and it is my efforts from this modest quarrying that I want to share today.

First we have a shambling mound from Oathsworn Miniatures. A great sculpt from an equally great company, although I wish they'd do more classic D&D monsters! I'm definitely going to pick up their Owlbear next. To be honest, by his very nature this guy required some perseverance to get painted. In one regard he's pretty easy because there's no call for pissing-about with any freehand action, but all that intricate detail in which he's clothed takes an incredibly long time to paint and highlight. I believe this is also an issue with the Otherworld 'mound too, but I think you'll agree that the end result makes the time taken worthwhile!


Next we have a slime from Reaper Miniatures which I've had kicking around for years. Not an especially exciting miniature, but indispensable dungeon fodder nonetheless! I went for a mucus-green, which I think worked.


Finally - miniature-wise, at least - we have a couple of Ral Partha 'Giant Rat Swarms', sculpted by Bob Olley. I must admit that the gloss varnish finish doesn't really do much for these rodents, although they look much better in the flesh than the image below would suggest. Again, not especially exciting, but mandatory dungeon gribblies!


Aside from miniatures I have also been working on some new terrain. I've always thought that marshes are an especially fantasy-friendly type of terrain. This may largely be because of Tolkien's famous Dead Marshes, although I have walked many of the mires on Dartmoor which in the mist can be incredibly eerie locations. Regardless, they are a place of potential peril even in the real world, never-mind if haunted by marsh trolls, shambling mounds, will-o'-wisps and the like! 

The marshes below were created using 2mm foamex as the base, which is sanded lightly on one side (to help adhesion) and then cut into shape with a Stanley blade. The trees (from the sadly defunct Fantascene) are then glued on and Milliput is used to blend them into the base. PVA glue is then spread over the bases (and covering the Milliput), leaving gaps where the water is going. Aquarium sand is then sprinkled on and later, when dry, watered-down PVA is used to seal it. Once dry the whole lot is then primed black. At this point he sand is dry-brushed to taste and the trees likewise painted. The 'marsh' areas (represented by the primed foamex) are then painted and when dry covered with vile-smelling yacht varnish, or some other suitable water-effect product. When dry static grass and reeds are added and voilĂ ! 


04 March, 2015

Trapdoor Tutorial III: Ranged Attacks


THIS latest instalment of guides for Trapdoor, my dungeon crawl rules, looks primarily at ranged attacks and the Ranger hero class. Please note that what follows will make much more sense if you first read this prior episode, which explains the Exploration and Encounter phases in greater detail.  

A quest begins! Dwarf Knight Farin and Elf Ranger Olon Owleye peer down a darkened corridor. A door lies to their left and beyond who knows? It is decided that during the Exploration phases Olon will go first. With this established Olon's first action is to declare a search of the corridor. Rangers begin their careers with the Tracker trait, which allows them to roll an extra d10 and choose the highest result when making OBS Rolls for Searching. Thus the player rolls 2d10, with the results being show above. Obviously he selects the highest result ('10') so the Search is successful. The GM duly informs the players that the corridor section up to door contains nothing of interest (this GM has decided that a search encompasses an entire tile/section). With this done, the Ranger uses his move to reach the doorway, followed by Farin. 
Turn 2. Olon's player decides to open the door and the GM lays-out the area beyond: a room inhabited by a Rat Swarm! As discussed in Tutorial I this automatically triggers an Encounter phase. The swarm is 'alert', which means the player who discovered it must pass an OBS Roll to  go first (6+ on 1d10). However, the Tracker trait means that in this situation the Ranger may also roll an extra d10 and choose the highest result. So the player rolls 2d10, with the results being shown above. He chooses the highest result - '9' - so the OBS Roll is passed: the heroes may go first. 
As Olon is already at the doorway and has a Bow its is decided that he will make a ranged attack against the swarm. The target/defender is within the weapon's short range (1-7) so Olon gains an extra d10 towards his Accuracy (ACC) Roll. The target also has the Large trait, which means that Olon gains another d10! The Ranger player rolls his 3d10, choosing the highest result ('9') and adding his ACC characteristic (3) for a total of 12. The GM simultaneously makes a RES Roll on 1d10 and adds the swarm's Resilience characteristic for as total of 9.
As with melee (see Tutorial II) if the attacker's roll beats the defender's then damage must be immediately calculated. This is done in exactly the same manner: the losing score (9) is subtracted from the winning (12) and the difference (3) gives us the Margin of Victory (MoV). The Damage table is then consulted and the MoV is cross-referenced against the weapons Damage rating (DAM), which in this case is 2. The result is a '1', which means the defender loses that many VIT. Olon gains 2 advancement points for this achievement.  If Olon wishes he can now move out of the way so that Farin may charge the rats.
Having successfully dealt with the Rat Swarm, the duo move onwards. Moving onto the end of the corridor reveals a passageway to the left. At the end of this is a small room and door, guarded by two Goblin Warriors. The goblins are relaxed, so the heroes take the first turn of this fresh Encounter phase. Olon's player decides to loose an arrow at one the foes. However, the goblins are just outside of the Bow's short range and are in its medium range (8-14). This means that Olon does not receive an additional d10 to his ACC Roll. Added to this goblin's have the Small trait, which mean that they may roll an extra d10 and choose the highest result against any ranged attacks. The Ranger player makes his ACC Roll: 4+3 = 7. The GM makes a RES Roll: 9+1 = 10. The goblin is unharmed by the attack!
Farin moves beside Olon and play passes to the GM, who moves his goblins down the passageway towards the heroes!
Play passes back to the hero players. Olon shoots at one of the onrushing creatures. This time the goblin is within the Bow's short range, so the Ranger gains and extra d10. However, the goblin still gains an extra d10 for being Small. Thus both sides roll 2d10, choosing the highest result.The goblin's RES Roll is: 5+1 = 6. Olon's ACC Roll is: 9+3 = 12. The MoV is 6 and on consulting the Damage table, the Ranger player discovers this causes the loss of 2 VIT. Goblin Warriors only have 1 VIT so the creature is instantly slain and Olon gains another 2 advancement points.
The next lesson will look at Mages and casting spells and shall probably conclude this series for the moment, having covered most of the system's important aspects. If you wish to know more please contact me or purchase a copy of the rules (see banner below):