Saturday 30 April 2016

Some more painted odds and ends.

I've been clearing up some of my backlog, including getting ready for Oldhammer weekend. Here are the results.

This lizardman warrior is another Reaper Bones model, speed painted using my usual method for fast Bones painting: grey primer, drybrush up to light, and then apply colour mostly with inks -- although for the armour panels I then painted brown and added a couple of layers of metal before washing.

As you can see, it's a pretty simple paint job on a model with lots of texture that makes it very suitable for that method. It's far from perfect -- my usual reservations on cleaning Bones models apply, and I certainly skimmed the painting process -- but I think it'll do nicely as part of an ensemble project I'm working on.

The second model is part of my developing Ork army for Rogue Trader; if you recall my original post about it, you'll remember that there were a few models I needed to finish in order to complete it. One of them was this mekaniak, who I got in a job lot of lovely old models I picked up in a charity shop for £20. I sold the Man O' War models and a few others, made back the cost and basically got some classic Orks, half a dozen barbarians, a Rapier Laser Destroyer and I don't know what-all else for free. Because I'm trying to keep the painting style consistent across the army, more or less, this guy is based on a black undercoat and a series of layers. Not fancy but whatever.

As you can see, it's a pretty simple paint job, in keeping with the generally pretty simple tone of the army. The pistol in the left hand is from a slightly later period of Ork, but it's still elderly -- I got it, I believe, when the Cambridge Games Workshop was selling off the last of its Gorkamorka stuff in like 1999 or so.

Aaaanyway, it's not perfect, but it'll do nicely for the army project, leaving me with one Gretchin and a base of snotlings to finish.

So, yeah, no big news in any of my painting projects; it's mainly been little bits and pieces like these. But I keep making strange conversions, so some of those will hopefully show up soon.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Speed painting, backlog-clearing

Minis for RPGs and skirmish games like Strange Aeons sometimes require a different approach than painting for a wargaming army; chances are they're only going to get out on the table every once in a while, and you want to paint a lot of them for variety. This means developing effective speed-painting techniques and not worrying too much about the details. Case in point: this frog-guy and turtle-men from the Reaper Bones Kickstarter (possibly a mix of the first and second Kickstarters, I think). 

As the characters in my D&D game are heading back toward a tropic island inhabited by a tribe of laid-back frog guys, I thought I had better finish up the various frogs and lizards in my miniatures collection, so I pulled out this part-finished shaman and these two snapping-turtle guys. 

The shaman is an older Bones model, back when I was brush-undercoating them black, but the turtle guys are examples of a technique I'm currently using as much as possible: I prime the figure with grey car primer, then apply a two-layer drybrush, starting with a mid-grey craft paint followed by Vallejo Medium Sea Grey. I then applied the colours using washes -- a mix of yellow, light brown and green for the flesh, and Army Painter Soft Tone for the shell, plus a little red on the inside of the mouth. I went back, dotted in the eyes, painted a few incidental details and gave the shells a quick highlight along prominent edges, and Bob's your uncle. 

You'll notice that there are some pretty prominent mould lines on the turtles -- that is because removing mould lines from areas of heavy texture on Bones models is a ballache and I don't have the patience for it. I am conditioning myself not to see them. 

Nonetheless, I think he looks not bad. 

The ridged, wrinkly texture of the sculpt really helped. 

There are definitely things I would do better if I wanted to spend the time, but overall I think they look not bad, and now they're painted and I can move on to a new thing. Although I'm gonna need a separate box for all these various beast-men types if this keeps up. 

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Frugal gaming: Bulk painting for a megagame

Some friends of mine are going to be staging a megagame called Watch the Skies here in Cambridge in a few weeks' time. If you're not familiar with megagames, they're like a hybrid between a live-action game and a strategic board game; sort of like Diplomacy with a more complex system. They needed some models to represent spaceships or aircraft in the game -- human interceptors and alien spacecraft. I suggested the plastic spacecraft from em-4, which are very affordable at £2.55 for 12 models (scroll down to see them). These were originally from Silent Death, I believe.

I ordered the models from em-4 and had a friend pick them up at Salute to save on the shipping. On Friday I snipped them from their sprues, then gave them a wash in warm, soapy water and let them dry before hitting them with a coat of Halford's grey car primer. I then sorted them into alien ships ("saucers," although the models I got weren't very saucer-shaped) and interceptors and divided the interceptors up by nation.

Aliens -- I picked the weirdest-looking models for these. 
... while the interceptors look more plane-like. 
I picked out a couple to do some test paint jobs and send them to my friend Bob for approval. Once he'd OKed them, we were ready to begin.

On Saturday Bob came over and we made a few final tweaks to the colour scheme of the saucers. There were eight groups of four interceptors each (there are five in the photo above because I ordered five packs of ships), plus 20 saucers, for a total of 52 models. I had already done the three test models, so we had 49 to do. We started at around 10 in the morning, and quickly developed a painting routine.

Starting with the primed grey model, we gave each interceptor a drybrush of Vallejo Medium Sea Grey, then applied a wash of Army Painter Dark Tone. After that dried, we drybrushed with Medium Sea Grey again. Each interceptor then received accent colours in the colour corresponding to its nation in the game.

Interceptors washed (above) and after second drybrush (below), ready to receive their accent colours.
I think the planes on the left show the effectiveness of this technique pretty well. 
The completed interceptors with their accent colours. 
Next came the saucers. The process for these was a little more complicated. We did the same drybrush-wash-drybrush, but drybrushed part of the models with Vallejo Natural Steel to make them shinier, then added accents in pink and covered the whole thing with a wash of GW Carroburg Crimson, which is pretty pink.

Saucers pre-wash. 
We also put some shine on the cockpits and so on.

Two sets of alien ships after wash and so on. 
We then went back and did a few touch-ups, including lightening the blue on the US interceptors to make it easier to tell apart from the black on the British ones and adding some highlights on the cockpits.

Completed interceptors and alien ships.

Including a break for lunch, we did the lot between 10 AM and 3 PM, but the time got extended because we had to pop out to buy some varnish. Still, by the end of the afternoon we had all 52 done, which I think is pretty good. 

Friday 22 April 2016

Thinking more about locations and mysteries

As I've mentioned before, over the last little while I've been thinking about how to present my mystery/location-based scenario The Magonium Mine Murders. I've made no secret of how much I like the One Page Dungeons, and while I think the scenario is a little too long for that format (and I want to include more stats and stuff) I do think it could be done in four or eight pages. I roughed out an A3 map with some notes on it:

Now, obviously, this is not what a finished product would look like, but as you can see each plot is colour-coded: green text relates to the crooked prizefighting ring, blue text relates to the murder mystery, black text relates to the disappearances in the mine, and red text relates to the dangers in the area that come from magonium poisoning.

Now, there's a second map, which is basically the dungeon map -- well, three dungeon maps, actually. So perhaps what we have is three A3 pages -- one spread of the area map, one spread of the dungeon maps and one spread explaining the plot and giving NPC and monster statistics.

Heck, maybe it's just two double-sided A3 pages, or eight A4 pages. That would give room for a cover, which would be cool, I guess. And eight pages sounds like something I could actually do, and the short length would be a valuable challenge of writing discipline. I might put it up for sale, but that's really a secondary objective to the practice of doing it.

I'm not sure how good an idea it is to make it colour-dependent, since if it's a digital product people who print it out are going to be printing it in B&W, probably.

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Frugal gaming: robots!

I was passing by The Works the other day, and I recalled that Lead Adventure Forum user MalcyBogaten -- a constant source of inspiration -- had mentioned there were some cool, cheap toys there that would make useful miniatures. So I grabbed a Teutans Surprise Bag, which contains two blind-packed little robot guys. 

They look pretty nice. If you want to spray-paint them, you can disassemble the guy on the left and pop out the lens and eye decoration so that you can just spray the plastic parts. The muzzles of the blasters on the guy on the right are translucentish blue plastic as well, although you can't really see it in the photo. The detail is pretty simple, but the sort of Superman-the-Animated-series design of the models makes that OK. I bet they are gonna paint up nice. I think they'll be fun antagonists, possibly for D&D but possibly also for a future post-apocalyptic game.

With Copplestone Castings adventurers for scale. As you can see, they're a bit bigger than the humans. 

And here with some old Chaos Marines for comparison. 

Monday 18 April 2016

Frugal gaming: salvaged miniature

I didn't go to Salute this past weekend as I had a conflicting engagement, which was disappointing, but I did do a little painting last week just to clear things off the desk. One thing I painted was a model that's been sitting in the plastics box forever and ever. 

I got this little guy off a Gumtree ad (or something), together with an old Eldar Harlequin that I sold on and a plastic vehicle of some kind that I busted up for parts. He was caked in paint, so I stripped the gunk off him and fixed him up a little; his right arm was just a spare Mordheim arm, but I didn't like it, so I replaced it with the upper arm from an old Dwarf warrior and the hand and sword from an Empire swordsman.

I painted him very quickly, with just a few simple layers. He has bright, bold colours in homage to his origin as an old Battle Masters game piece. Perhaps he'll come in useful in D&D, or as a Man-at-Arms or Knight in Frostgrave. I dunno; he was 10p and in horrible shape and I salvaged him (ish), so I'm happy.

I have noticed now that his right eye is a little wonky, so he may go back onto the paint table for a touch-up.

Thursday 14 April 2016

Speed painting hero!

I got this Hasslefree Miniatures model in the Lead Adventure Forum model exchange earlier this year; when I saw it I had the notion of matching it up with some of my generic sci-fi infantry.

I did the same thing I did with the minions: sprayed her with Army Painter brown primer, painted the armour plates with old GW Tausept Ochre, washed the whole thing in brown, applied the base colour again to the armour edges and so on, did the face and gun and whatnot, and done. Here she is with the other sci-fi guys.

I still have absolutely no use for these guys, but you never know. 

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Puppetland one-shot

I seldom get the chance to go down to my local RPG one-shot meetup, so it was great to be able to last week. Our usual venue had double-booked, but thankfully we were able to get into the basement bar of Cambridge Wine Merchants on Mill Road.

I hadn't had much time to prepare, but I decided to volunteer to run a session of Puppetland, a weird fantasy-horror-kid's-story game from 1995. I've owned several editions of this game, from its first appearance in the British gaming magazine Arcane to the paper edition published by Hogshead and then its appearance as an appendix to Harrigan and Wardrop-Fruin's Second Person. There was a successful Kickstarter for a new edition of the game from Arc Dream a few years back, but I can't find any evidence that it ever actually came out. Anyone know what's up with that?

Anyway, I thought the game went well. Puppetland has kind of an interesting game structure. Each session is only an hour long, and everything the puppets say is in character, including narration of their actions, while the Puppet Master (GM) adopts a kind of narrator voice. So for instance, a scene might go like this:

Puppet Master: But just then, the tramp-tramp-tramping grew louder and the nutcrackers appeared! "Grab those naughty puppets!" shouted their leader with an evil glare, and the others clashed their terrible jaws.
Player 1: Avast! Nutcrackers!
Player 2: I'll hide behind this rock. Maybe they won't see me!
Player 3: Oh, you no-good nutcrackers! I'll give you such a biff with my boxing gloves!
Puppet Master: Sister Mary Muscles dealt the nutcracker a terrible biff and he went staggering back. "Blarrrrgh!" he snarled. But more and more kept coming!
Player 1: Quick, mateys! Into me boat!
Player 2: I'll cast off the line!
Player 3: Rotten nutcrackers! I'll get you next time!
Puppet Master: The three friends piled into the boat and pushed off, bobbing away on the gently lapping milk of the Lake of Milk and Cookies. The nutcrackers tried to pursue them, but their heavy wooden bodies sank slowly to the bottom and they crawled out spluttering.
Player 1: Hurrah, we made it!
Player 2: Yes, Cap'n Salty, but where shall we go now?

The system is pretty loosey-goosey, but when a game session lasts an hour -- and let's face it, this isn't a game you're going to play a twenty-session campaign of -- I think that's not only fine but desirable. Low setup time is a great virtue.

I had a great time running this game for what was the second time in the nearly 20 years I've owned it. Perhaps I'll bust it out again in another decade or so.

A more-or-less complete early version of the text is available on the author's website.

Friday 8 April 2016

Frostgrave in action yet again

Pal Buzz came over and we played some Frostgrave. I attempted to create an interior set for the Library scenario, although I couldn't really fill the whole table. Instead, I used some old board game boards I had lying around: 

Clearly, the wizard who once owned this library didn't need it any more:

My cultists scurried through the maze of corridors looking for treasure:

While Buzz's guys fanned out in the library: 

Things started out OK for me, but gradually the casualties started to mount ...

... and mount ...

... and mount ... 
... until my only surviving guy was the thief who'd run off the board with my only treasure. Fortunately, deep pockets allowed me to replace my casualties, but Buzz definitely caught up with me a bit.

I'm thinking that this first warband is an experiment. One of these days I'm gonna book some gaming space for a weekend with a couple-three friends and play through the Lich Lord campaign. One of these days.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Good-enough Frostgrave warband!

Like the title says, I'm done with my speed-painted cultists. Add a zombie (because if you have Raise Zombie why wouldn't you cast it), a sinister robed figure and his sinister robed apprentice and a pedigree brainhound, and you got yourself a warband. Eventually I will put one of my other zombies on a matching base and make a new apprentice, possibly using the cultist plastics or possibly using something from the bits box, but until then it'll do.

Monday 4 April 2016

Ramshackle Gorillagon as Ork warboss

While I was priming up some Orks for my Rogue Trader project, I thought I would throw in this Gorillagon from Ramshackle Games. This is a fun, chunky, rough-and-ready post-apocalyptic resin model that rewards a certain amount of brio in the painting. The right fist is a spare weapon from another Ramshackle model (I think!). I do have the actual Gorillagon fist around her somewhere, but I wanted him to have a mixture of ranged and close-combat weapons.

Both these photos and, frankly, the paint job are hurried and a little crude, but overall I think he looks pretty nice, although he's much more consistent with the rough, bulky late-period Ork aesthetic. RT models for scale.