Friday, January 31, 2014

The Fell Glendywr

Said Bilebroke, to his Cousin Snotspur, of the Fell Glendywr:

Thou dost belie him, Shmercy, thou dost belie him;
He never did encounter with Glendywr:
I tell thee,
He durst as well have met the devil alone
As Owyn Glendywr for an enemy.

Said the Fell Glendywr to Laird Bilebroke:

Cousin, of many men
I do not bear these crossings. Give me leave
To tell you once again that at my birth
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds
Were strangely clamorous to the frighted fields.

These signs have mark'd me extraordinary;
And all the courses of my life do show
I am not in the roll of common men.
And bring him out that is but woman's son
Can trace me in the tedious ways of art
And hold me pace in deep experiments.

I can call spirits from the vasty deep;

Why, I can teach you, cousin, to command
The devil.

Hope you enjoyed that little bit of fluff, words courtesy of Wyllyame Shakkspyre. One of my favorite plays, that (I got to play Bolingbroke in college). Hence the hommage.

You should also know that I've posted the .xcf template file for these character cards. If you'd like to make your own, just click the link to download. These are editable in GIMP which is also free and available to download. I don't know if other editing software can do the same thing. If you'd like another format, then leave a comment below and I'll see what I can do.

Don't feel like commenting yourself? Command the devil to do it for you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Stone All-Knowing

Oooh, yesss. Gaze upon it. Covet it. This is the stone ALL-KNOWING! This is one knowledgeable stone. 

Enjoy trivia? Like to gamble on sporting events? Try the Stone All-Knowing!

Just a quick post today, with an objective/magic item marker I made for fantasy skirmish games. Dead easy to make, the pedestal is just the cap from a bottle of dish soap (that little bit at the top there). The stone itself is a little ball of putty, and the flagstones are the extra putty I mixed when I badly misjudged the size of the stone. All of it slapped on a steel fender washer and called good.

Who needs to do dishes anyway?

If you've badly misjudged how many words will fit in your head, why not leave the extra ones in the comments box? Right down there.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Treasure Tokens

Making steps on prepping these figs for their transformation into vibrant and twisted little homunculi, I decided to try a new method for fixing these guys to their washer bases (that is, a method other than superglue and faith). 

I figured, since I need to fill the holes in the washers with putty anyhow, why not use a little extra to allow me to make an imprint of the models feet on the base? That way, the superglue would have more surface area on which to adhere.

See that standard bearer? I'm really excited about that standard bearer.
It worked even better than that. When the putty cured, these guys were stuck. No superglue. No mess. (No fess?)

But it's hard to estimate precisely how much putty you will need to achieve an effective depth on the base. So of course, I wound up with some extra. And there I was, a little bead of putty and a whole world of possibilities.

And here's what came out:

Very simple, roughly sculpted tokens to represent hoards of treasure.

These are pretty simple to make. I just slapped a rough mound of putty on the washer, blocked out some bigger shapes for chests, sacks and whatnots, and then took out my super specialized tool pictured above to the right.

Yes, the ink reservoir in a standard ballpoint pen makes a pretty handy tool for making indentations. I used it to make impressions all over the putty to represent large, hard, oh-so-clutchable currency.

I went back in briefly with a detail tool afterward to clean up where some of the impressions overlapped, but I didn't stress to much. I'm content with a rough sculpt here, since all the coin is just going to be slathered in gold rub n' buff anyhow. I think it'll get the point across.

What's YOUR favorite trick with a pen? Encribe it in the soft epoxy comments field below. Quick! Before it cures!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Falsneer the Perjurer

Lies are tools for most men. They use deception to a greater or lesser extent as necessity, or convenience, demands.

But for some villains, lies are more than tools. They wear falsehoods as clothing, and perjury is their breath.

The Lie is the Thing: a kind of magic capable of unmaking what is real. 

Such men should be wary when traveling the long-forgotten corners of the Wyldwold. For there dwells the Warder, whose desmesne is the unmaking, and whose kingdom is the unmade. To vie with him in this is blasphemy.

But some men, like Falsneer the Perjurer, do not abandon their lies--though they risk for themselves the unmaking.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dwarves Don't Worship Beer

I get it. It's cute, they're funny little pseudo-vikings, waddling around being drunk and stubborn and murdering orcs. I get it.

I just happen to think it's kind of stupid.

I recently purchased the above Reaper Bones figure and in the package, as in the photo above, it was impossible to tell that emblazoned on his shield is a tiny little picture of a foaming beer stein.

Which is fine. This is extremely common across manufacturers, and would not have deterred me from buying the figure. But it did get me thinking. Why on earth (or one of its suitably elaborated, imaginary surrogates) would a dwarf decorate his shield with a mug of beer? Shields should be emblazoned with ferocious things, or heraldic things, or things that embody the spirit of the dwarf-at-war.

Which led me to conclude that the whole beer iconography with dwarves is just one of several conventions for (lazily) representing dwarf 'culture.' (Q: "What makes dwarves different, you know, as a race?" A: "They really, really like beer." Q: "But how do we clearly represent this rather obscure fact of their imaginary culture?" A: "I know! We'll put it on their shields!")

But that's another thing... really liking beer isn't a trait that sufficiently establishes a cultural identity. Particularly not when you are trying, as all fantasy settings these days seem inevitably to do, to make an imaginary race. Many cultures widely appreciate beer, but this does not define them. Culture is too abstract for that. So to say that an entire race can be defined by its love of beer is just silly.* 

It is NOT EVEN like saying all humans love drinking Soda, which definitely isn't true but might seem true to an outside observer, on a first glance, before they could get down to cases.

It IS like saying that all humans love drinking soda BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMANS. A-and that's where the whole idea starts to get really creepy. And so do all the others. Dwarves being slow, or stubborn, or bearing all starts to sound uncomfortably like certain modes of racial stereotyping--which may be fine if you are trying to model that kind of thing in your game as an element of the story (this is big in RPG games, I'm told), but is less fine if you find that you are the one perpetrating stereotypes without thinking.

The kicker here is that dwarves are simply more compelling when they aren't conceived as a race anyway. Same with elves, and orcs, and whatever. Because what our monsters really represent (at least in my conception) is an utterly alien and incomprehensible force that nonetheless resides in the human psyche. Or rather, the very idea of monsters exists as an attempt to understand that force. The advantage to fantasy is that those monsters become literal in the game.

This makes sense to me. Because then the story of the game is not human vs. monster, or good vs. evil, but rather human vs. the most troubling aspects about himself. That story sounds more compelling.

So I sculpted right over that beer emblem. I decided that this guy has a magical shield which tells him secrets in blank pentameter. The sculpting was rough, but I wasn't in the mood for anything elaborate.

I also decided that there are no dwarves in the warbands I create, or on the Wyrdwold in general. Instead, there are Hunchymen.

Hunchymen was a term originally applied to those peasants who were forced to work in the drear and dangerous northern mining collonies of the Magnifex. The miners soon become stooped and mangled in the dwimmerdark--for they did not know what they were mining, and it was often deadly. When the peasants, after a few scant years of labor, could no longer work, they were forced out of the colonies to seek out vagrant and beggarly existences.

The term is now used by those in the grubby townships of the Wyrdwold to describe those who choose to dwell on the open land. These include, most commonly, veterans of the many wars of the Magnifex who, as meager compensation for their ruined lives, have been granted allotments of stony and twisted ground on which to stead; but also hermits and outcasts, roving banditry and peddlars, and less defineable, more troubling creatures which stir only at night. Hunchyman in this context is used to communicate that the individual is a stranger, is potentially dangerous, and is quite possibly mad.

Hunchyman is also used very loosely in the townships as a general derogatory term for the poor, the lowly, the dirty, or the openly lecherous. It's use in this context generally conotes that the hunchyperson is not wanted and not welcome.

To let me know what you think, go ahead and build yourself a shield and then paint upon it an emblem that you think best represents the gist of your thoughts. Or just put a comment in the comments box.

*Don't get me wrong, I love beer. But how do dwarves even grow grains up in the mountains? Environmentally, one would think that grapes would do better. It is at least conceivable that some dwarves prefer wine.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bale Grimly and the Comely Visage

Servant of old to Laird Bilebroke in exile is Bale Grimly, and champion of his banditry of hunchymen. Few villains are there upon the Wyrdwold or the Further Wilds who can match his dark reputation.

For upon his arm he bears the Comely Visage, an uncanny object of unknown heritage before which he has cowed his enemies, man, beast, and all. For by some art unknown to this world, the eye of the shield has power over the unwary to captivate, to paralyze, to make vapid or violently bilious. 

Some say it was the gift of a fay lord for whose favor Bale Grimly committed acts unspeakable; others, that it was cut from the face of an ancient Toad-o-the-Pit who challenged Bale to a reckoning one dark-moon'd night; still others whisper that it fell from the sky, and that Bale Grimly sought it in the weald, and emerged naked bearing the Comely Visage aloft. 

Those who speak thus know nothing, for none living saw Bale Grimly first bring forth the Comely Visage, and Bale Grimly will not speak of it. Bale Grimly seldom speaks of anything. Except late at night, when he sits across from the strange face of his strange shield, and holds deep conference.

He fixes the red gaze of the visage and begins, with a low, chanting rasp, to intone words of dangerous little sense. The Comely Visage does not respond, but its eldritch eyes glimmer in the firelight.

Thus, where others who behold the gaze of the Comely Visage fall, instant and entire, under its glamour, Bale Grimly communes instead. On what, none can tell. Bale Grimly does not speak of his communion with the Comely Visage. Bale Grimly seldom speaks of anything. 

Now, constant readers, I hope I have sufficiently thrilled and beguiled you with the tale of Bale Grimly to ask you a favor. Last night, I figured out how to make GIFs. You can see my first (rudimentary) attempt below.

I don't know how I feel about it. I can't decide if I like it, or if it's annoying. So I ask: is this the kind of thing you would like to see on this blog? Do you think I should replace standard photos with GIFs (which you cannot enlarge), or should I use the two in tandem as above? Do you like it? Do you hate it?

Does it make you violently bilious?

Let me know your thoughts by staring into the eldritch eyes of the comments box below and telepathically communicating your message.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I've tried this technique once before, on my Blood Bowl Orcs, with the idea that it would speed up the process of painting a whole team of very similar figures.

It didn't work our very well back then, but I've learned a couple of things in the intervening year and a half (and Dee King has posted a more recent, more detailed tutorial).

First, and most importantly, this technique shouldn't be approached as a speed painting method - not really. It saves some time, yes, but if you rush through it, you end up with a crappy result and have to go over the pre-shading with traditional base coat and highlights. If this happens, then the time you spent preshading, no matter how little, was wasted. But if, on the other hand, you take your time getting the undershading right, glazing and washing on the colors will be a breeze.

Second, I discovered that it is very important to select the right figures to paint this way. Since the undershading is achieved entirely by overbrushing and drybrushing, it will only look passable on figures with a decent amount of detail and relatively few smooth, empty surfaces (like those on, say, a plastic GW blood bowl orc). Any smooth surfaces (like flesh, most notably) will probably have to be tackled in the traditional manner.

Third and finally, I have gotten much better at drybrushing. I am now a lot more careful and selective, which results in better contrast and a better shading result. And here's an amateur tip: zenithal highlighting is a whole lot easier if you hold the figure so that you are looking at it from the top down. (Almost as if your eye were the sun...) I don't know how I missed that for so long. Live and learn...

So I selected from among my Megaminis fantasy figures the best candidates for the undershading treatment. Figures with lots of detail and texture.

Bob Olley Hunchymen are, of course, perfect for this.

So are furry things.

I have a lot of confidence this time around. The greyscale figures look convincing enough. Now I just need to see if my glazing technique has improved enough to make it work.

Let me know what you think below. Greyscale responses only, please.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Maker of Mountains

A long time ago, I tacitly promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those miniatures hobby bloggers that go on and on about their lead pile. I decided that I would collect figures that I thought looked too cool to pass up. I don't own duplicate sculpts (well, except for bloodbowl teams). I don't build armies, I don't buy large boxes, I don't have a mountain of figures waiting to be painted that can weigh me down.

Well, I didn't anyway. You can see above that I've done a little bit of shopping in the last year. Some nice metal from GW/Citadel and from the now-defunct Megaminis alongside some new Reaper plastiresin.

I get that I'm making a lead mountain out of a lead mole hill here, but even this small portion of minis can be intimidating to a sluggard painter like me. It all, as some old wizard said somewhere, depends greatly on our own point of view.

The idea was that if I collect in this way - handpicking models based only on what I like, and not on someone else's system - I would always have something I was excited to finish. I would never get bored. I would never have to bother some poor blog reader with how tough it is to have a hobby.

Of course, it doesn't always work that way. Creativity ebbs and flows. That's why these aren't done yet. That's why the blurry blood bowl team in the background isn't done either. But for the most part, it keeps me interested. And it keeps my warbands from being bull-shitty race-centric pseudo imaginings; every model is a character. And that's cool.

I picked these up at Games Plus out in Mount Prospect, IL, after a CSW meeting. It is hard to walk by that Bones rack without picking something up because they're so effing cheap.

Above are the rest of my Megaminis figs (as well as a GW holdover or two, and a couple figures that I sculpted but haven't gotten around to painting) that I've actually managed to prime and put on the corks.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I should have plenty of material to show you, constant readers. I'll paint these up in ones and twos and post them with pictures, fluff, and shiny new character cards for SoBH. So look for that soon.

In the meantime I expect a mountain of comments, below.

Friday, January 10, 2014

So I Was Stuck in DC for a Few Extra Days...

...and here is a preview of what I did to while away the time. 

There'll be a full scan with some color in a couple of days. But I thought you might like a peek a Head of time.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Life is a Tentacled Beast with Hypnotic Eyes

It crushes and paralyzes you in its soothing grasp and gaze of fond loathing, before holding you under the tide of sweet forgetfulness.

And now I am (as far as you know, anyway) washed up again, many months later, gasping on the shores of the internet. The sun is cold, the day is new...though Life dribbles and chuckles in the shadows of a nearby grotto, teasing with a beckoning tentacle...

A lot has happened in those lost months, and a list is no more boring a way than any other in which to recount them:

  • I converted a Pro Elf team and took them to Chaos Cup 2013. I'll do a slightly more detailed post with pictures of the team and shout-outs to all the wonderful, wonderful people I met and played against.
  • I spent a week keeping m'Lady company in the hospital. (She's alright now.)
  • I moved apartments. Twice.
  • I brewed some beer.
  • I painted some new figures.
  • I revived my Custom Blood Bowl Pitch project. Look for a new post on that soon.
  • I took lots and lots of pictures.
  • I sorted and edited those pictures.
  • I discovered after restarting my computer that I had saved all of those pictures to a temporary location. Of course, I had already re-formatted my SD card. So no pictures for you.
  • I was pulled over by a cop while riding my bicycle.
  • I joined the Chicago Skirmish Wargames Club.
  • I made a random weapons and items table for SoBH, inspired by the work of Tom Fitzgerald (and stealing much of his vocabulary). Watch this space and that of CSW for more on that.
  • I started investigating Old School DnD.
  • I built a table. Not a wargames table. Just a regular one.
  • I decided, inspired by the work of Randroid, that this blog will now branch out to some other aspects of my hobby life. Id est brewing and drinking beer.
  • I learned the actual meanings of i.e and e.g.-- i.e., id est and exempli gratia. Exempli gratia, [restart this sentence].
  • I learned how to use GIMP for more effective and evocative miniature photography.
  • I devised a method for making custom character cards (ala Delaney King's Skulldred Cards) using my newfound proficiency with GIMP. You'll see those soon too.
  • I revamped my technique for making trees, and proceeded to make a bunch of 'em. there'll be a post on that too.

So really, this post is just another weapon in the tentacles of your own hypnotic life-monster. It beckons with the promise of many interesting things in the weeks to come.

It beckons.