Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Muppet Saga

Good Evening Ladies & Gentlefrogs.
The year is 1066 and it's time for the Muppet Invasion!

Zombiesmith's Sale ended today and I couldn't resist getting some more of the fun minis for 'War of Ashes'...
Think Shieldwall Vikings & Saxons, but with creatures that look like they'd not be out of place on the Muppet Show. I previewed some of them earlier this month in the Zombiesmith booth update.

A friend and I got hooked- I picked up the noble and inspiring Elvorix and he got some of the pitifully dimwitted and danger to themselves Vidaar.  We discussed the idea of not only using them for the War of Ashes game, but having options to use them for SAGA. Nothing wrong with some whimsy in a historical game. So at the end of their sale I ordered what I'd need to have a good sized force for their game and enough for a 6 to 8 point Saga Force.  I'll likely run the Elvorix with the Welsh list.

A quick w.i.p shot of the Warlord and a conversion for mounted Hearthguard: he's riding a pig!
I have 4 of these pig-cavalry now, and I'll be making 4 more.

Not a lot of time for this project, but they don't look difficult or time consuming to paint, and they do look fun, so more to come I am sure...

Friday, June 29, 2012

No More Horny Dwarves

All too often I find Dwarves are too horny.  Not all of them of course, but a lot of them.  Far too Many.

It has never done anything for me personally.  But it seems a lot of people like horny Dwarves.

I hear many say "But it's fantasy. I like it."

O.K., I understand that anything can go in a fantasy, and for some they like the fantasy of horny Dwarves.

Many even pay a lot of good money for horny Dwarves.

If that's what they want then who am I to say it's wrong?  I can only speak for myself.

But I am lucky enough to have a client who also thought Dwarves would be better if not so horny.

So on the bench now is a Dwarf Blood Bowl team that have had this unnatural horny condition fixed.

It's an extreme procedure that requires cutting off a significant sized piece of the miniature.

Here is the result:
They've all had those huge horns from their helmets removed and helmets rebuilt to create a more modern and reasonable helmet.

As GW envisioned them:
He wanted a pattern on the helmet that'd be impossible with these big horns, I suggested removing the horns- not an easy task, but worth the effort.

In seriousness, horned helmets have never been a thing I liked much.  It is pure fantasy, which is fine, since so are dragons & orcs & more, but it's so prevalent in fantasy that it's not uncommon for people to think they are historically accurate, when the history of them only goes as far back as Wagner.  Kind of like how so many dinosaur and cavemen movies have been made some people believe that the two coexisted ;)

Anyway, the Dwarf team should be fun!  I even got to de-horn the old Deathroller:
I think that works much better.  
In a commission I don't always get to do what  I  think will look best, but this time I did :) 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Greystoke's Gallery of Apes & Associates

As promised here are some gallery shots of James Clayton, Lord of Greystoke, and those who assist his efforts in London, 1888.

This is my warband for Empire of the Dead, the Victorian Horror skirmish game from West Wind.
I've taken the Lycaon werewolf list and imposed my Ape-will upon it.

James Clayton, Lord Greystoke

Alphie the Ape

Bernard, Cecil & Dudley
Wolves (apes)

Milly, Woodhouse, Margaret
Wolfskins (Staff with tranq-guns (bows))

Officer Parker and Sergeant York
Wolfskins (Police-in-pocket with bows & clubs)

The next addition will be another packmaster character- I picked up a cheap 'clicky' ape for a dollar, so don't expect much, but the price couldn't be beat- I'll see if I can get something decent out of it :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Apes Perform Deconstructive Dental Work: Empire of the Dead Battle Report

Life conspired against me from updating this much recently, but I'll be rectifying that, starting with catching up on Friday the 15th's Empire of the Dead game.

Lord Greystoke was convinced that the western hills near Wales contained plants which might aid his transformations research, traveling under cover of darkness with his apes and trusted companion ape Alphie, as well as members of his household staff, he relocated for a bit of a holiday and some specimen collecting. Though it was day, and not terribly foggy (rare and unseasonable) Greystoke and his entourage were accosted by what at first appeared to be common highwaymen, but they soon caught the scent that revealed the presence of the undead: a Daywalker Vampire and his mate.

The vampire was actually on business of his own, and was just traveling through the area,but on crossing paths with the apes, it riled them to an agitation that they would not be reasoned with.
Lord Greystoke and his followers
(I'll get some better glamour shots of them soon)

We set up the table for an outdoor setting with a river, hills and ruins and a graveyard.  
The mission said that the vampires had to get at least 2/3 of their party off the table on my deployment side, while I had to stop them.  The vampires had a lower Warband Standing, so would get an additional 5 shillings from the encounter. from memory, the Vampire leader had the day walking skill and a boost to his combat skill (or one of them) One member was out sick for the day, and he had a good shot with a repeater rifle. My group were as they last were at the end of my last Battle Report.  

A view from the hill overlooking the river. Peaceful... for now. 

Then Alphie directs the apes up the hill to ambush the undead and their ilk. 
Milly the maid covers them, no slouch with a tranquilizer gun (bow). 
At the other end of the small valley Lord Greystoke enters the ruins,a trusted ape tagging along, as well as Police Sergeant York, acting as bodyguard, and faithful household staff Butler Woodhouse and Margaret the Maid, or Mags as she prefers to be called when off duty, which is seldom. 

The Vile Vampyr sensed the danger and one of his enthralled called upon unnatural forces to summon a mob of the undead.  To be more precise, they were not undead, it turns out they were just simple commonfolk.
What they were doing in the graveyard, and what this says about the deplorable conditions of simple folk in Wales, to allow for them to be mistaken for walking dead, is anybody's guess.  
Woodhouse and Margaret spot the Vampire's sharpshooter.  These gypsy types really should refrain from wearing bright colors, as everyone knows there are no bright colors in the whole of Britain!
Quite easy to spot he was. 
The Apes,Cecil and Dudley, prepare to pounce on the enthralled.
Alphie tangles with the Vampire's personal guard while Cecil chases the Vampire, trying to make a run for it.

Unable to see what awaited him, the Vampire graf did not know that Lord Greystoke had already bounded down from the ruins and sprinted across the river, with preternatural speed.  
Woodhouse and Margaret had tried in vain to stop a swarm of bats from escaping, but it was small loss.

His escape cut off by Lord Greystoke, the Vampire turned to face his attackers.
Cecil contemplates the use of a bronze gauntlet in dental work. 
Even cornered vampires are fierce fighters with unnatural resistance. 
Molly began taking shots into the crowd while Dudley charged them after dispatching the fang flunky.
Sustaining minimal damage, the Apes and their Lord pulverize the Vampire, tearing his head from his shoulders.  The vampire turned to a pile of ash.  Sensing the spell broken, the mob scatter and the field remains in the hands of the apes. Srgt York collected the unconscious body of the vampire bodyguard and turned him in to the local authorities under suspicion of unsavory activities.  

In post-game, the vampire's body guard got the 'captured by the peelers' result, which he'd have to play to free him -which we did, and he was easily freed. The worst result was for the vampire leader: Dead.  Dead-dead,not mostly dead, but dead and gone unraisable dead.  Luckily in Empire of the Dead, you can sacrifice another member of the team instead.  Obviously what happened was the Vampire's ashes were collected, placed in a coffin and the sacrificial faction member was brought in, asked quickly 'what's that over there?' and when he turns to look, his throat is cut, blood fills the coffin and in a few days a fresh pasty vampire emerges reconstituted.  

My faction made some decent coin from this victory and I focused it on my two characters. 
Alphie went up in strength, which is nice, and Greystoke gained an extra attack. 
I also brought in my second police officer mini, another 'wolfskin' flunky, and equipped both of the police minis with bows clubs and knives. I had enough money to bring in a second secondary character ('beastlord) but since I didn't have a miniature ready, that will wait until the next time I have the money.  It seems wise to invest in the characters you hope to advance and keep at this stage though, so it is alright. 
With 10members, it is already a large team. 

Thanks for reading, 

Until next time! 

I think the vampire coming back was something like this...enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

How To Host a War: Or: How Mantic Wants To Increase My Time-Debt by Three Lifetimes

There's been a lot of Kickstarter success lately for gaming.  And while Mantic's isn't quite at the numbers of a couple recent big splashes, it's certainly in the "wow, that's impressive' camp.  In just the last 24 hours, looks like it's gone up almost $50k.

If you haven't looked at it, go check it out here.  There's less than 2 days till it pumpkins.

Mantic has been steadily improving since their start as a company, and I like where they're going.
I've used their ghouls and zombies in a number of projects and when GW announced Warhammer Fantasy Battle 8th edition, I staked my hopes (bu-dump-bump) of making a Skeletal Host.  Then I heard more about the rules, the new Vampire army book, and those hopes turned to dust.  True, the new 8th ed. promised to return to the days of "big armies of infantry' but it didn't really pan out... still a lot of reliance on big magic & monsters/monstrous infantry/monstrous cavalry.

But it seems there might be hope in Mantic.

I've been looking at the rules for their mass-combat fantasy game, Kings of War and really do like what I see. The game is straight forward and simple, in a good way.  And best of all, the armies are characterful, yet balanced.  Balanced armies is a concept GW has been very upfront about not caring about. That's fair, they don't have to be, but I, and probably a lot of others, do care about it.

Also, the system is such that units fight until they start to lose confidence and finally abandon hope through attrition and loss of conviction- but they physically do stay on the table as an entity, you don't remove miniatures as 'wounds'. This means you could, if you want, make large element bases so that you can build nice mini-dioramas or scenic elements within the ranks of your troops.
You could even use 15mm minis and element bases.

Another nice thing is that characters don't seem to be demi-gods striding across the battle like they do in Warhammer.  I'm sure the upcoming rulebook will give them some more abilities, spells and such, but it doesn't appear they're going to win battles single-handed. That's a positive tick to my thinking.

Looking through the different army lists -which the current edition lists are free online on their site- has been very fun to look through.
In fact, I haven't been this giddy about looking through army lists since Warhammer Armies 3rd edition.
I don't know how many hours I lost decades ago looking through this book, contemplating armies.  
The Mantic lists remind me of this: solid armies with a lot of characterful choices.  
The current Mantic offerings aren't as varied as this book, but from the sound of things, the 3rd edition will be pretty close to the same feeling.  OK, warhammer armies did still leave a few unbalances, such as the all dragon rider high elf army, the all chaos chariot army, etc, but the drive of this book was flesh & bone, blood and angst armies with characterful support: the unit minimums helped to establish that.  Mantic doesn't have any unit minimums, but looking at the lists, I don't think they need to, they've captured the spirit of this old book in a way that none of the subsequent WHFB editions have for me.  

It's got me seriously considering committing to a BIG project.  

That itself is pretty impressive.  My time constraints have had me hooked on skirmish and small force systems for many years. And while I love skirmish gaming, there is something appealing about a BIG army. 

I was very tempted by the idea of a Skeleton army 

A true host raised from a Medieval battlefield, but the Kickstarter rewards all had a lot of zombies in them, and I'd want a Skeleton army, not a zombie one.  
I know I know, Zombies are a constant hotness now, but to me, Skeletons are just much cooler.  
Sorry Romero, Long Live Harryhausen! 

Another army I've always wanted to make is a Goblin Horde.  Not exactly a force to be reckoned with in Warhammer (Giants are now laughed at and not many troops with better than strength 3) but that's not a problem in Kings of War! The armies are balanced. Goblins have appropriate handicaps, but they can function and you can get a lot of them, and they get good support. And if you convince them to charge, they can deal out damage like any other army.  In WHFB goblins are just part of the Orc & Goblin army, in Mantic, Orcs are a separate army from Goblins! Finally Goblins are Masters of their own domain! 
... well they probably are that pretty often. 
And I like the Mantic Goblins! These are cool goblins! 

I don't care much for the mawbeasts, but I can find other minis- no manufacturer is going to please everyone with every item in their range, I wouldn't expect to like everything.  But the goblins I like and they're a good price.  The Kickstarter package has close to 200 goblins for $225.  Not bad at all.

The big question is: element bases or individual? Only reason to keep them individual is to have the option of using them in Warhammer, which is admittedly tempting... maybe I'd want to go to a tournament just because, or maybe Warhammer 9th ed will be awesome? Who knows.  But element basing has such great potential for making the army look cooler.  Heck, they die so fast in Warhammer, removing them in sets of 10 is probably not much of a problem anyway ;) 

I do want to try the Kings of War game, and given that it has over a thousand backers now, other people might be willing to try it out too.

I've heard that the $225 level gets you about $1,000 retail price of minis. Yep. 
The free minis from the stretch goals means you get about 70 or so free minis!  
And they have a long list of Buy One Get One Free deals.  Unfortunately a lot of them are just concept sketches or descriptions, but 6 trolls for $25 or 10 goblin wolf riders for $25 or 20 flying gargoyles for $25, or 20 cool battle nuns... you see what I mean.  

The BOGOF offers are simply amazing.  

You could easily set yourself up with the majority of a large scale army and have 60 extra minis to add to it or have available for other projects: Trolls and Mummies for Blood Bowl, Golems for Pulp gaming or statues, Ogres for fantasy skirmish, Gargoyles for Horror skirmish, Battle Nuns for Empire of the Dead ...that's my plan for them! all for about $300 if taking advantage of a few extra BOGOF offers. 

Most projects don't come close to this affordable, and this is a major army as well as many other projects or trade goods.  

So yeah, curse you Mantic.  Those Goblins are just too hard to resist.  The plans I have for them are too fun. 

And I also blame Mr. Lee.  Reading his blog, seeing his massive goblin army with TWO gargantuan spiders, rekindled my long held need for a goblin army.  
If you haven't checked out his blog, Mr.Lee's Painting Emporium, you should: he's a great guy and his blog definitely should have more followers than it currently has.  

So between nostalgia of the old 3rd ed. Warhammer Armies, Mantic's insanely good deals and enticing direction for large scale army battles, and the come-hither gaze of goblins, I will have another crest to my 'lead plastic mountain'. 

Your Guide to the Lead Mountain

What do you think? Tempted by their offers? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Get Five Free Base Stars!

Five Free Base Stars?
I always wanted a Vyper, but I wouldn't turn down a Base Star.. then again, might be bad if they turn on you

Wait.. that just doesn't sound right..


Not Five Free Base Stars.  Free Five Star Bases!  -That makes more sense.
Damn my dyslexia.

Frontline Gamer's sleigh isn't light enough to not crash yet, so more stuff is being given away.
You can put your name into the hat for the bases here: Give Me Free Bases!

So what's the scoop on the bases?

$100 worth of store credit at Dragon Forge Design.
(check out their store for yourself)

So I wasn't kidding about a Five Star rating ...yes out of 5 cheeky gits..I mean, 5 out of 5 stars, not 5 cheeky gits, asking out of how many stars was why I called you a cheeky git, and now you ask if I meant out of 5 cheeky gits? Yet more evidence of why you're a cheeky git.  So anyway...

These are excellent bases. I've used them for a few projects.  The Assyrian-themed Chaos Dwarf Blood Bowl team used these bases (can find them in the Hall of Fame page tab at the top).  There are a lot of good resin bases for sale out there, and a lot that are not so good, but in my estimation, Dragon Forge makes the best.  Good detail without being so full of detail the mini is hard to place or gets lost, and sculpting & casting are both the best I've used. When I have a need for resin bases I check this source first before any other to see if there is something that will fit the style I'm looking for. 

And to get $100 of anything in the store for free? You'd be mad not to put in for it.

O.K., maybe not quite as cool as getting a Base Star, but still pretty cool. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Settlers of Cat-an

Pretty fun shirt for your next board game day:

From Shirt-woot up right now.
I doubt this one will go away too soon, but cheaper the first 24 hours, which just started.

I don't know if cats would enjoy this game as much as humans... I'd think it would lose something without the jokes about wood and sheep. Then again, who knows what goes on in the minds of cats. 

Maw Goodness! What Big Teeth You Have!

Least Popular Kissing Booth at the Fair!

But don't let that dissuade you from bringing him home! 

You still have a couple days left to put your name in the hat to get a free Bane Legions Blood Maw!
Blood-Maw, Vore

Details at Frontline Gamer.  He's been going at high speed tossing out free gaming items like Santa in fear his sleigh will crash unless he lightens the load.  

Don't miss out, it's easy: follow his blog, leave a comment, cross your fingers and hope the Blood Maw isn't hungry if he comes to your house. 

This thing is awesome.  It's not just huge, it's very versatile.  Looks like it would be comfy in any gaming setting: fantasy, sci-fi, horror, even work as a godzilla-sized monster in 15mm! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Apes Hit London & Come Out Swinging! Battle Report for the First Night of Empire of the Dead

Last Friday we started our Empire of the Dead campaign games.  Test games finished, it was time to start building the stories of the new heroes and villains of 1888.

Many of us will be running more than one faction team, since it isn't a very big commitment to create a team, and there are so many fun choices it's hard to limit yourself to just one.  Six of us were able to start last Friday, and there are some rather unique themes and some obligatory classics that can't be resisted.

We had:
Classic Vampire brood
Gentlemen's Club buying as many firearms as practical at such an early stage
American Vampire Hunters Abroad, using the Gentlemen's Club roster
WWWWB: Women Who Wield Wet Blankets Temperance Society (Gentlewomen's Club)
  - You can follow their exploits on his blog here.
Hinterland Hussies (I forget their real name, but the slur might stick)
and my Lord Greystoke's Apes, using the Lycan werewolf roster.

There will also be another vampire team, Ottomans, St.George School for Monster-Slaying Girls, and more.

I recently gave a long background of my faction, so I won't repeat it here, but the roster to start was:

James Clayton, Lord Greystoke -Beastlord
Alphie the Ape-Pack Master

Sergeant Dooley with Club
Woodhouse the Butler with Bow
Margaret the Maid with Bow
Bernard & Cecil the apes (wolves)
The starting team, painting in progress but enough to hit the city.

It's an easy roster to write up, the characters and wolves can not have equipment.  So they're pretty good to start since they have natural abilities.  I wonder if the stat & skill increases will keep them competitive compared to humans & vamps who can get good equipment over time.  Time will tell.

First Game was against the Gentlemen's Club.
The mission was to find an artifact that was rumored to be nearby.  It was night, which was pretty good for me.  We had 7 possible locations to search.  After a full turn searching the spot a team member could search and on a roll of 9 or 10 on the d10 it would be the artifact, otherwise that location was cleared.  Unlike a similar scenario I remember from Mordheim, it is not the case that the sought item will be the last token searched if none of the others were it.  The last is rolled like any other- if it isn't it, there is no artifact- perhaps the rumor was just an empty story.  I like this, since there can be some shenanigans in the other system when it's down to a couple search spots left.

The artifact is somewhere in this neighborhood... then again, maybe it isn't. We deployed in 2 groups, each having a diagonal, I had the lower left & upper right while the Cognac Sippers Super Club had the other two corners. He advanced more cautious than I, preparing for shots when he could take them.  I decided I'd not head him, and raced out to search as many spots as I could.  Of the 7, I managed to get to 6 locations.
None of them were the artifact.
His President and a few others with guns and a shotgun opened fire on my Butler, Greystoke and an Ape, but I survived fine.

When only 1 spot remained to search I started to move to envelop this group, and got a wound on his 2 wound President with an arrow.  Once it was clear there was no artifact, his club left the field. No artifact meant it was a draw. No one was removed from play so we each got 15 shillings for the tie and 2 per surviving member.

Lord Greystoke got an additional attack and Alphie got the regeneration skill.  

Meanwhile, the Ugly Americans were being unchivalrous to the Uppity Women's Sewing Circle:
This was disastrous for the women, as many were removed from play and one was captured and handed over to the Peelers (police) on charges of suspicion of harboring opinions. 

To rescue her, he decided to play for it, so I volunteered to play the Peelers, and tried to prevent her escape.

In the rescue scenario the Peelers have 2 officers with 2 wounds, and a couple heavy pistols, net guns and some clubs. Not the best equipment, but every turn they're attacked they can blow the whistle and more flunkies may arrive to help.  The rescuers have 8 turns to try to get to the center compound and bust the poor woman out of the clink.

2 officers guarded the woman inside. He had split forces coming at the guardhouse from North & South, but none of his shots were successful, and using the meager cover to get to the attackers, hand to hand fighting broke out and 2 of the women were brought down.  Two more officers came on to the scene and time ran out for the Crumpet Strumpets.

One thing we're considering is as the campaign continues the Peeler force will likely need to be augmented as warbands get more powerful.  They were plenty formidable for this game, but when teams get more weapons, members and skills, the force as listed will be too easy to walk over and rescue the captive.
Not a difficult adjustment to make.

It has already been nearly a week since these games, so we'll be playing our 2nd session of the campaign tomorrow,
so more to come!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Valkeeri War Rocket Review & Assembly

This is the third Review & Tutorial for War Rocket fleets I have done.
The first two were reviews for Imperial & Zenithian fleets.

In the near future I'll do a review for the Galacteers and the Pirate fleets as well.

Unfortunately, I do not have Class III or IV ships for the Valkeeri or Galacteers.  I'd got both of the squadron sets for these (9 Class I & 3 Class II) at a good discount sale, but the higher Class rockers weren't available so I decided I'd keep these two fleets as small scout or raiding forces, and see about getting bigger ships for them sometime in the future.

The Valkeeri are a race of warrior women, an iconic image from pulp sci-fi, where ray-gun toting amazonian queens capture daring earth men only to have their tender hearted flunkies' hearts captured in return.

The Squadron set has the contents below:

Like the Zenithians the class of the rocket can be identified easily by the shape of the ship.  In this case, the rockets have one engine for each classification level. The Class III & IV (not shown) have three & four engines as you'd expect.

These are tied with the Zenithians for the easiest to assemble.  Like the Z's, the Class I & II are complete single-cast miniatures requiring no assembly of parts. All of the fleets have this for their Class I's, but the Imperial, Galacteer & Pirates do have parts to assemble for their Class II's.

Like I did with the other fleets, I brought in some of the flight pegs from GW flight stands, which are a bit taller for their large ones, to add some height variation.

Just like with the other ships, the connection hole is larger than the tab on the flight peg. This is a good thing!

Cut the nib off (those things are notorious for breaking anyway) and glue it in with a bit of green stuff

I did have one miscast in the Valkeeri squadron:
One of the Class I's engine didn't fill enough. 

Defects like this can happen, nicer when it doesn't, but it also wasn't too difficult to fix.

If you're handy with green stuff this isn't a very hard fix: apply a thin rope of green stuff, shape, and when dry file it smooth to be flush with the engine.  A bit troublesome is the mold line cutting across the engine.  can't get a file in there and a pain with blade slippage potential when trying to 'dig' in a hole with a knife point.  Considering the benefit and risk reward of the whole process, and the fact that the engine is going to have various 'blorps' of fire-colored paint over it, it's not much of an issue.  I've even been considering sculpting a fire blast coming out of them, a'la old colonial vypers thrusters. 

The Squadron is assembled:

Very quick and easy! 

The ships have a strong 'aquatic' look to them, to my eye, and I think they'd make great pulp mini-subs for a VSF game!

So how do they rate from me? 

Casting: 8/10
Cleverness of Design: **
Aesthetics:  9/10

** I always include this category in ratings, but in this case it is hard to know how it might apply. This is where I evaluate how successful a kit is for how it is assembled, it's parts and flexibility of options, etc, but in this case, they are single castings and it's not an issue which applies. 

All in all, a fun fleet.  They didn't appeal to me as much as the Zenithian & Imperials,or the Pirates once those were released, but they've definitely grown on me and I have some ideas for painting. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Beast Within: Background for My (not)Lycan Faction for Empire of the Dead

If you saw a couple of the previous updates under the Empire of the Dead label, you know our Friday night gaming group has been been bitten by the new Empire of the Dead game by West Wind. If this isn't your first visit to the Lab then you're sure to have noticed I'm addicted to skirmish games, since they afford easy access to starting new projects: a dozen minis to create a new theme faction is ideal. I have several themed faction ideas I want to do for this game, but the first I'll start with uses the Lycan faction rules, which is the werewolf faction.  I wanted a different spin on this, but I'll let the background speak for itself...

London 1829
Julius Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke, meets a promising student, Charles Darwin, at Cambridge University, where he has a chair, and encourages him in the pursuit of Naturalism.
A philanthropist, humanist and admirer of the natural sciences Lord Clayton pursues the expansion of the knowledge of nature whenever he can.
Julius Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke. c.1845

London 1830
Jonathan Clayton is born to Julius Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke.

London 1831
Julius Clayton arranges for Captain Robert Fitz-Roy to offer a berth to young Charles Darwin on his ship The H.M.S. Beagle, as a Naturalist for a five year journey.  No word of his involvement is allowed to be given to Darwin.

London 1839
For the next last six years of his life, Julius Clayton encouraged Charles Darwin to continue to write and publish his findings.  A frequent guest, Darwin came to know his son Jonathan.

London 1845
Julius Clayton dies and his son Jonathan Clayton inherits and becomes Viscount of Greystoke.  Though nominally under the guardianship of his Aunt and her lawyers, Jonathan Clayton proves to be a mature and capable young man.

London 1855
Jonathan Clayton marries Elizabeth Yates.
Jonathan Clayton c.1857

London 1858
Jonathan and Elizabeth give birth to their first son, Jonathan Clayton II

London 1859
Charles Darwin publishes Origin of the Species.  Jonathan Clayton senior begins to pressure Darwin with plans for a voyage to Africa.  Charles is not interested.  Darwin continues to refine his publication over the next several years, and says that Jonathan Clayton's interest in Apes and their relation to Mankind while scientifically sound is too controversial for him and his publishers at this time.  Jonathan plans for an expedition to Africa himself, but duties of family and estate prevent it.

London 1860
Jonathan and Elizabeth give birth to their second son, James Clayton.
James Clayton b.1860

London 1860-1880
The brothers, Jonathan and James are educated and inherit their father and grandfather's obsession with the secrets of the natural world.  With their father they make plans for a voyage to Africa.
John's obsession with the Dark Continent runs deep, while James' interest focuses more on the laboratory.
James becomes convinced that all the answers to Man's questions can be found within the blood, if only one could find the key to unlock it.
James Clayton c.1875

London 1882
Charles Darwin and Jonathan Clayton senior both die in the same year, only months apart.

London 1885
John Clayton begins a courtship with Alice Winthrop.
James Clayton increases his laboratory, bringing in exotic animals from around the world.
Though the two brothers have the same interest at heart, their divergent paths cause them to grow ever more apart.
James works behind locked doors in his lab on African Great Apes, trying to unlock these secrets.
London 1888
John Clayton marries Alice and the two leave for a voyage to Africa.
Though invited, James declines the invitation, stating that his laboratory work is at a critical stage, and he can not abandon it when a breakthrough is so close.
John and Alice Clayton, lost 1888

John and Alice Clayton's ship is reported lost off the coast of Africa.
James assumes duties as head of the Greystoke Estate.
Within months James unlocks the secret he has been looking for: the essence of nature itself.
He gives name to this as 'The Nexus' for it is the point of connection that links all living beings.
With the secret of the Nexus, he hopes to show how all species are connected, and to guide this development for the benefit of mankind, to take the best, strongest and healthiest aspects of all species for the betterment of Man.

With the nexus of the African Great Ape, James Clayton is the first man to step across this threshold.

James Clayton's experiments had a disastrous side effect.  He now is physically in flux as the Nexus is unstable in his system. While sometimes no outward sign of his change is present, at others his body increases in size and strength, as the animal nature takes over his mind and body.  At such times he hunts the streets of London, looking for something which his more human mind is unaware of.  He travels with his sentient Ape experiment, Alphie, and the less successful Apes often follow as a pack.

His loyal household staff, captained by his butler, Woodhouse, endeavor to keep his secret, following the apes and their Lord into the night streets, armed with tranquilizer guns, to protect their master from doing anything too rash, and to guard him from those who might mean him harm. Money and position is not without benefits.  Clayton has officers on the Police Force who he pays to cover any evidence that might lead inquiry back to his door.

The miniatures, work in progress:
Center: James Clayton, Lord Greystoke. (Lycan Beastlord)
at his left, Alphie the Ape (Lycan Pack Master)
in back: The Apes (Lycan Wolves)
at left: Police in Pocket (Lycan 'wolfskin' flunkies: close combat equipped)
at right: Household Staff:  Butler Woodhouse & Maids (Lycan 'wolfskin' flunkies: tranq guns count as bows)

More to come, thanks for reading!
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