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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Into The Woods par t3: The Fiddler King


Following on from the last instalment, the adventurers are heading for a sheltered village in the hill country where they hope to return the children they rescued from the woods to their parents. I thought I'd use this opportunity to test out the beginning of the new The Woods campaign book I'm writing, Barrow-Ring Burning, which should be out in December. This shouldn't give too much away...

The adventurers arrive at Marbhanam, a village at the foot of the chalk downlands. They enter the settlement to discover that a wake is in progress, the Toisech passed away a few days previously and the village is both grieving and concerned since he left no successor and the important rites of Samhain are approaching.

The children are reunited with their parents and our gallant band are invited to stay and enjoy the village's hospitality. Midway through the evening though a sinister figure lurches through the crowd. A stick-thin individual with a harrowed and confused expression and a tall iron crown on his head. Asking around the adventurers discover he is a wandering bard who hasn't been seen for over a year.

As the night draws on and the villagers begin to drift to their homes only the adventurers and a small group clustered around the musician are left by the fire. Suddenly a pair of stocky figures with evil-looking masks jump from the darkness, grab the bard and drag him into the blackness between the houses. The group panic and spread out in search of the beings who have abducted their colleague. The game is afoot!

Dashing around in the dark nobody knows where the beings are... except the GM. Three of the villagers are actually these kidnappers but will only be uncovered if the characters can perceive them- that means they're going to need some light. One of the band has a lantern and another is a Geomancer and casts Illuminate to turn himself into a beacon. The band splits into two groups to try and close the two gates to the village, cutting off the abductors' escape.

After sounding out most of the villagers (and discovering them to be just that) one group spots a creature moving round by the sheep pen. The other figure is just out of sight, could it be the second kidnapper?

It is, but these beings are deadly when cornered and easily dispatch two of the characters (don't worry, they aren't dead just in a deep sleep). The gate now stands undefended and the kidnappers manage to flee out onto the downs with their victim. As the remaining adventurers scour the nearby countryside for signs one of them recovers the iron crown which was dropped during their flight. Hopefully this will give them some clue where to look next...

Overall very happy with how the scenario panned out. Distances and numbers of figures worked well but I think I need to downgrade the creatures' profiles a little. They're just a bit too strong at the moment, although it should be hard for the adventurers to win this one. Where the group failed was not making enough use of the villagers dashing around. Any of them could have been ordered to attack the abductors, allowing the characters time to get themselves in a position to take the creatures out. The group did use the Ordering and Coercing rules to good effect to get the other gate closed and guarded but in the panic of uncovering the creatures opted for a knee-jerk charge into combat instead which proved their undoing.

Stay tuned for the next episode!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Citadel skellibob horde arrives

The ranks of the rank undead have grown a bit. I had a couple of good trades over the last couple of weeks.

The haul from two generous chaps. One load of old skeleton archers, one mish-mash of various undead bitz.

These two chariots I was expecting, but the splendid fellow through in an extra one not in any of the pictures! That's three chariots to add to the Fenryll one (once they've been stripped and fixed up a bit).

And then there's this one, the Machineries of Destruction chariot (it's much bigger than I thought it was!). Now here's a dilemma. Do I put Mr Longhorn on his actual chariot or keep him with the oxen-pulled Fernyll cart? And if the latter, who gets to ride in the machinery of destruction?

A Citadel skeleton horse. Might become the mount for the Lich Master. The Citadel horses don't have that wild look that the Essex/Iron Claw Bob Olley sculpts have so nice as they are I'd still like to get my hands on a few of the Iron Claw Death Rider horses.

And an incomplete Skull Chukka/Screaming Skull Catapult. Should be able to build something suitable for the rest of the frame. There were also bits for a dozen or so skeleton warriors and five plastic skeleton cavalry, so that takes my infantry, war machine and cavalry contingents up to decent strength.

Nice to have some of the models I had in my first army back, especially the plastic chariot which was my first buy and the skull chukka (which always fell apart when I tried to carry my miniatures to a friend's house so rarely got onto the table!). Also a treat to have the metal chariot which I used to study with great admiration in the 3rd Ed Rulebook. It was OOP before I started gaming and I never seemed to have the money to mail order one.


So added to the previous tally,
Budget spent so far: £125.63
Price per model so far (cavalry counts as 2 models, chariot as 3): £1.35

Doing pretty well. There are a few models coming which will up this and take me close to my budget- so I'm hoping to pull a bit of a cheat next month to get the outstanding models on my wish list. ;)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Planning the next Woods sourcebook- opinions wanted!

Hi blogfans.

I'm looking for some help today, would you mind giving me your opinion on a tricky dilemma?

My ambitious plan is to release two sourcebooks a year, one a large, hardback release (Secrets of Shandisholm this year) the other a thinner supplement with either a narrative campaign or new skills/traits/action/items tables in but largely background either way.

I have two part-developed ideas for this winter's release, which one of these would you like to see?

Barrow-Ring Burning is a tale about neglect of ancient customs and threat from a shady... realm. It covers Tuatha burial customs, the hidden underworld locked by the Fae whose chains are beginning to fall away and the rituals of the year danced by the Boggarts and the Phooka which keep the Mortal Realm in balance.

Lothard is a 2-part sourcebook (both in one volume) outlining the strange dualism of the most advanced Tuatha settlement in the Mortal Realm. Above ground the inhabitants of Lothard are formed into religious orders and practice a disciplined life, offering refuge to the lost and wronged and seeking to do what is right and just. Below ground the city's inhabitants revel in labyrynthine caverns which spiral through seven circles into the heart of the mountain where gross rites are performed in the name of sensation.

Opinions and comments very much welcome and sought-after! Thanks.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Raising the hordes... more skellibobs arrive

I've been throwing a bit more of my Undead horde budget around now the new month is here, so here's a quick overview of my purchases.

I was buying from Spirit Games as somebody told me they were a UK stockist for RAFM (they are, but seemingly only the Cthulhu stuff). Whilst browsing the site I spotted they had a load of older miniatures available, including these sets from Ral Partha. Now a Ral Partha order is still very much on the cards (Zomber Dragon!) but RP only sell these skeletons with swords separately now, so since I was buying anyway I thought I'd pick up a pack in authentic vintage blister. :) The skeleton champion with two swords I can't see on the current RPE site.

They also had a pretty 'Skeleton Command Chariot' from Fenryll. Having not bought Fenryll before I wasn't expecting resin, but no big problem. The details are crisp and nice and with the oxen drawing it this will make a great chariot for by ox-headed skeleton champion. Quite a lot of cleaning up to do which is a shame and the oxen have very chunky bases which I'll have to disguise somehow.

Now this is the find I was most excited about. Not in my budget (which has probably drifted somewhat!) but they had to join the army when I saw Spirit Games still had some because I had these models in my original Undead force:

Chronopia Devouts, including that amazing ram-headed Liche/Necromancer. I remember fondly the little hobby shop down in Devon I bought these from whilst on a holiday with my parents. I think we went back 3 times on rainy afternoons that week! The beefy armoured models always looked a bit odd leading a unit of skinny, bare skeletons, but this time round they'll be in Krell's Undead Chaos horde and fit in just perfectly. Now, do I try to replicate the colour scheme I originally painted them in, or go with something different? Hmm.... and yes, when I tore open the blisters I did savour the heady waft of air from 1997!

And now, a purchase not from Spirit Games. A Mantic Skeleton Regiment to fill out the ranks. As Chico said, these guys have a definite old-school vibe to them. They're dressed in tatters and remnants of armour which suits my theme perfectly. Not perhaps as flexible as the original Citadel plastic skellies, there are 10 bodies with separate arms and heads and 10 which are just 2-part models, but they should provide enough variation not to look odd when scattered through my units. Anyway, in a mass of skeletons who's going to notice a few duplicates?

So added to the previous tally,
Budget spent so far: £82.13
Price per model so far (cavalry counts as 2 models, chariot as 3): £1.52

Despite Spending £7.50 on the 3 Chronopia figures (well worth it) the Mantic Skeleton Horde has kept the per-unit cost down!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Shelving, doors and a big hole in the floor!

 Over the weekend I managed to crack on with some of the dungeon rooms.

The library is now almost finished, apart from finishing off the stone work, putting the fire and chimney in the inner sanctum and picking out a few more coloured books.

The staircase was a pain in the backside to assemble and the cause of much swearing and cursing! It seemed once it got beyond about 40mm high any further layers just wouldn't stick. In the end I used superglue rather than pva to finish it and once it was in place liberally coated the pillar with glue. It seems to have held. 

The edges of the floor and the balcony I washed with woodstain to darken them. There's a doorway hidden in the top left, but will the adventurers notice it in the gloomy corner of the library?

Here's a shot with the removable side panel attached. I've yet to paint the big doorway and add the free-standing shelves to either side of it.


Next up, the ramparts/courtyard. The idea is to have an open space to serve either as an entrance/exit from the dungeon or so adventurers can get their bearings in the labyrinthine tunnels. Lots of barrels and sacks strewn across here, a trough and a well for water as well as numerous doorways leading back into the caverns.

The walls were coated in PVA, had lots of cat litter pressed onto them and then a coating of paint and PVA to seal them before drybrushing. The floor still needs some washing, drybrushing and piles of scatter/gravel across it to break up the surface. I liked the bobbled polystyrene texture, so haven't disguised it with a textured paint, but it does need varying across this sized area.
Spraying some resin cast doorways.

And the next big room. The idea for this one is an underground lake or cistern. I started off by applying my resin cast tiles to the areas in front of the doorways, giving the impression of the remains of a richly tiled room.

Around these I painted pva and applied liberal amounts of sand, this would form the boundary of the lake area.

Next I sprayed the exposed polystyrene in the centre with black primer, melting it away.

The trick is not to spray so much it eats right through the styrene! Once I was happy with the amount that had been dissolved I mixed some paint and PVA and painted a base colour onto the bed of the lake. This seals the polystyrene to prevent the resin I would pour into it from further eating away the surface (and then pouring out all over the workbench!) Once this was dry I mixed up my clear resin and poured it up to the level of the sand. Then I checked it a few hours later before going to bed, all looked level and clear and not eating away the styrene, all good.

This morning, when I checked, I saw disaster had struck overnight! Instead of a nice, clear lake I had a foamy mass of bubbles! Rock-hard bubblebath foam! Ah... The material I had left in the pot to test curing without touching the pour had set just fine, so it wasn't a problem with the resin, ambient temperature or moisture level. I think what must have happened is that as the resin cured its exothermic reaction caused the styrene to emit gas, which managed to get through the layers of paint and glue and bubble up through the resin. Not the effect I was looking for! I did have an idea on the way into work this morning however, I'll have to have another look when I get home. It might be that this unexpected issue has prompted a whole new aspect to the relationship between the gnomes and goblins who live in this mountain!
The door castings have been much more successful. The dark strip on these is where I have poured resin with an iron filler powder into the mould. This is magnetic (see small magnet stuck to left door) and with magnets set into the door frames on the dungeon boards this will provide my magical hinge solution. Now I just need to order a shed load more magnets!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Into The Woods part 2: The village in the valley

Last night saw another instalment of the campaign we're playing using the setting and rules from Secrets of Shandisholm. Sadly I forgot the decent camera, so the photos are awful, dark and blurry from my piss poor phone camera.

The little party of gnomes and tuatha had reached a steep slope down into a sheltered valley. To continue on their way to join the Old Lowland Road they would have to descend and follow the track along the Duskwards edge of the Heart Forest. Dismounting and leading their horses gently down the winding path they reached a gap in a long, low stone wall which marked the entrance to a settlement.

Although the central fire was still burning under its mantle the rest of village seemed totally deserted. It was evening and the sun was sinking low in the sky but no fires were lit in the small round houses clustered inside the walled enclosure. The group made their way from house to house, checking to see if anyone was about, but the round houses appeared to have been emptied of all objects except the occasional bedding roll. Ravenclaw summoned up courage to call out and ask if anyone was around, but apart from a faint clucking of hens in one of the distant huts there was no reply.

As they crossed the centre of the village a sudden ruckus started up on the edge of the clearing. Two wild boars careered out from the trees. The party took cover in the nearest hut doorway to see what was going to happen. Close on the heels of the boars a pack of white dogs with red ears and glowing eyes appeared from the dusky wood. Their attention fixed entirely on the boars they did not notice the party in their hiding place, but the boars were running directly towards it. Cornered by the faster animals, the boars turned to make a final stand. One of the dogs was gored horribly, but the rest set upon the boar and brought them down with ease. As she stood watching Winifred noticed a small figure emerge from one of the other huts. Dressed in a cloak and carrying a sword much too big for her the young girl shouted fiercely to the dogs. They turned slowly, prowling menacingly towards the girl, who struggled to raise the large sword in defiance.

Winifred frantically gestured to Ravenclaw and the others, fearing for the child's safety. Ravenclaw swiftly pulled out his bow, notched an arrow to the string and let fly at the nearest dog. Snarling with rage it turned and came running towards him, but before it could cross the distance Winifred's sling had put a rock between its eyes and fell unconscious to the ground. The gnomes had taken short bows from the Shandisholm armoury, but they were struggling with the unfamiliar weapons. One of the arrows met its mark and a slingshot from Ran Rauko felled the wounded animal. The last dog bounded across to the party and managed to sink its teeth into Athalwolf before Ravenclaw's axes dispatched it.

Winifred went to tend the fallen Athalwolf whilst Ravenclaw approached the girl with the sword. She didn't seem to realise the party had saved her life and haughtily demanded to know what they were doing in her village. No amount of reasoning seemed to change her attitude and she insisted they leave immediately. This was her village, she was the chief and she and her younger brother who was inside the hut were the only people allowed to live in it.

As the older tuatha were losing patience with the brattish teenager the sun finally sank below the horizon. A deafening splintering crash omitted from the largest and most distant hut, accompanied by a raucous bleating and grunting as pigs and sheep dashed from the doorway. It looked like the roof was caving in. At the sight the young girl dashed across to where the animals were breaking for the settlement walls. "The flocks!" she cried, "We have to get them back inside!"

Her dash was cut short as a massive figure emerged from the shattered door of the hut. Roofing straw matted in its clothing and a sheep under one arm, the Spriggan gleefully trotted towards the other animals. It must have crept into the hut during the day and nightfall had transformed it into its giant form.

Ravenclaw was close behind the girl and shouted to the Spriggan to drop the sheep it was carrying. The giant just laughed and reached for another creature nearby.

Meanwhile, unnoticed by the party, a shadowy figure had appeared on the slope above the village. It raised a hand towards where the silhouettes of the gnomes could be seen clustered around the fire. Athalwolf, recovering on the ground by the fire, suddenly clutched at his head, agonising pain screeching across his scalp and down his spine. He fell back unconscious.

By this time Ravenclaw and the girl had been joined by Ran Rauko and he called out to the Spriggan once more, commanding it to release the sheep. Seeing there were more enemies arriving the lone Spriggan decided to cut its losses, dropped the stunned sheep and capered into the night with a shrill cackle.

It was now fully dark, and the party spent the next hour rounding up as many of the animals as possible and making their enclosure fast. The girl used a shrill whistle to herd the sheep and pigs and had great skill in gathering them together. Her brother also emerged from the hut to lend a hand. Working together to retrieve the livestock seemed to soften the girl's attitude to the party and as they retired to the huts to cook meat from one of the boar it emerged that she and her brother had not eaten for two days. A few days ago a stranger in purple had visited the village and talked with the elders. The children had overheard something about goblins but had been sent away from the meeting hut and knew nothing more. They had gone off to play in the woods and when they returned the village was deserted. The girl's name was Jinni and her brother was called Glenn. Jinni told them her mother had once mentioned that there was a safe place they could go to in times of need, a hidden refuge just inside the Heart Forest. They thought this might be where the rest of the village had gone. Ravenclaw told them of the quest they were on, the task of defeating the goblin horde. Jinni at first laughed at him speaking so seriously of the Fae and goblins, make-believe creatures grandmothers used to warn naughty children to behave. As the tale unfolded though she became more wrapt and was determined to follow them to stack the goblin horde. First though, they had to find the other villagers to make sure Glenn was safe with the other adults. The party secretly hoped Jinni's parents would take her off their hands as well!

The following morning they packed their bags, loading the second boar carcass onto one of the horses, and set off towards the Heart Forest in search of the missing villagers.

Fimm McCool's

Fimm McCool's