Sunday, September 30, 2012

Planning the Prehistoric Pulp Project

I've jumped into the 'Club 200' 12 month build-an-army-support-group on The Warhammer Forum. 

I was tempted to start my Goblin Army, very tempted. But it's not the best timing for it.  
This Club 200 will last for 12 months- most of the goblin minis other than lots & lots of infantry I won't get until half through 2013- so wouldn't have much variety in updates for most of the time, and I won't have a ton of time for the project for a month or two.

This is a skirmish project, but a big one. And one I've been hoping to get going for almost a year now.  
So, though this project isn't exactly 'standard fare' on TWF, the support club seemed pretty open ended, and I've never been one to pay much heed to boundaries

So if I get an aspect or two finished each month, I might be able to both meet that and still have time for the other hobby projects that will need time too (our Group might be restarting VSF in November (? or something else? not confirmed yet), and I have Blood Bowl teams to paint for me and a friend for the N.American Team Championship, and I'm sure the Dreadball teams will yell & bawl if I don't do some when they arrive). 

So on to the project! 

A Long Time Ago, Not Very Far Away At All....

"What's this?"

Before the Birth of Civilization, at the Dawn of Man, the world was very different, and what we think we know about it is only the smallest fraction of reality. 

Prehistory was a time of great danger, impossible challenges and the toughest fight of all: the fight for survival of species. 

Viva l'Evolution! 

Early man was not the only tribe striving to dominate the planet, we had stiff competition! 
There was our cousin, the Neanderthal: stronger and equally as smart. 
There were the dark hominids: Gorlox, savage and cruel
Other primates had their shot at it too: The Great Apes, and the even larger and more powerful Yeti.

But primates are new comers to a much older world, and these tribes would not give ground lightly:

They were also stiff competition on the cave dance floor!

The Styraco: Noble armored herbivores with a rich culture
The Rhabd: A sophisticated small saurian people, expert hunters and tool crafters. 
The Grak: Crocodilian tribe: a low, vicious cunning. 
The Planta: Carnivorous plant people: expert stalkers: small but dangerous. 
and the highly adaptive Occu, in many forms- odd but with an impressive culture with great potential. 


and of course there are many dangers at every turn in this world: Dinosaurs, Mega-mammals and carnivores of all variety. 

So what is all this? 

The setting for a skirmish game & campaign I've been wanting to make, loosely called 'Prehistoric Pulp'. 
I grew up loving films and books like 1 Million B.C., Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mysterious island, Caveman, Quest for Fire, the Pelucidar novels, the original Land of the Lost tv series.
I was also a dinosaur fanatic when I was a kid (what boy wasn't?) and one of my majors in uni was physical anthropology, so blend it all together and this is what happens. 

Instead of 1 big army my project is an entire genre setting, for skirmish gaming. I've also been writing some rules for the game as well. But to really advance that, I should make some minis for it all!

So each month I will do one or two 'segments' of the setting, which might be a hunting party, or animals or terrain. 

The game will likely center on hunting parties between 4 - 12 or more miniatures (depending on the formidable level of the individuals). 

Here is the first hunting party, a Caveman group, that I painted earlier this year. They will have a dog or two added to them: one advantage Cavemen has is dogs. 
(You might remember these from earlier this year, the LPL on Lead Adventure Forum)

This doesn't include the other homo sapien sapien cavemen groups, but is most of the other hunting parties (not including dangerous beasts):

Close ups:

I feel the desire to do the whole setting, (I am plagued with 'opposing faction syndrome', maybe to run games at a con, or supply the minis for big games at the local store for our group, have what would be needed for a mini campaign, etc.. plus I'm a bit unhinged :mrgreen: 

so it's a bit different, but hopefully some might find it interesting :D


Friday, September 28, 2012

New Recruits: Chimpanzee Street Toughs

No surprise here: more apes!  I just can't resist apes & monkeys: they are cool as well as very enjoyable to paint. So when I saw these -on sale no less - I had to get them.

A couple chimpanzee lads from the Judge Dread line. That puts them a bit too modern for the Belgian Liberation Army, and even more advanced for Greystoke's Apes for Empire of the Dead, and not futuristic enough for the Space Apes for the War Rocket based multi-scale game I am planning.. oh yes, there will be space apes!  But that is all ok- they can squeeze in I'm sure.

So here are the Chimpanzee brothers, Bartholomew & Pim, ready to help out Greystoke in London, 1888.

Bartholomew might be the smarter of the two brothers, but sometime in his excitement he forgets to fire his electrum-charged pistol and uses it's weight to beat people instead. 

Pim is much more focused in how he goes about things.  This might not be such a good thing. 

The two brothers have had the advantage of the knowledge and experiments of James Clayton.  His work has mixed the nexus of humanity, namely his own, with the two chimpanzees, unlocking their potential for intelligence, critical thinking, and apparently, greater violence.  
The streets of London are filled with desperate men and women, more dangerous than a cornered rabid dog, willing to do any unspeakable act for a few shillings.  Bartholomew & Pim are exactly what the Apes need to watch their backs among such animals. 

-- The one with the bat had a skull icon on the back of his jacket, but that marked him too much with a biker-gang look, fixing him too much in a narrow time era, so I carved that off. 

These two will head into Greystoke's nightly hunting party straight away...
I'm sure they'll enjoy themselves.

On three, everybody sing!
One.. two... three...

Chimp, Chimpanzee
Chimp, Chimpanzee
Chimp Chimp Cher-ee
You better be careful
They'll break both your knees! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who's Hunting Who? Nosferatu & Holy Order Report for Empire of the Dead

Following up from the last game report, after the Apes & (not so)Gentlemen worked out their after battle results, the other table had already started setting up another game, rotating an opponent as one member left early, so Mike and I each got out a new faction to play. Most in the league are running one faction, one or two running two, and Mike and I are each running four.  Guess who among us has the least self control?

He selected his Holy Order, so I chose my Nosferatu, since they are the most appropriate thematic opponent.  Now, I haven't done an update for the Nosferatu yet.  I thought I'd wait until they were finished painted, but that hasn't happened yet: they're still in the 'nearly done' phase and have been for months: painted enough to play, but not finished.  So someday when they are finished I'll do a whole background & showcase post for them, but I won't hold the battle report back just because it hasn't happened yet.

On we go!

The nest of Nosferatu are lead by the ancient Raedwald, much transformed. His consort Svetta, and between them their daytime guardian, Gort.  There are also three ghoulish men who serve him, hoping for greater favor, and there always seem to be swarms of bats wherever Raedwald is near.

Appropriately enough, we rolled up 'fracas' for our scenario, and considering the Nosferatu would face a Holy Order, any scenario might have just degenerated into an all-out fight anyway.  Again there would be statues to search for artifacts for the campaign.

The Holy Order had their flying paladin, and the head religious leader.  To add numbers they had a couple shooters and a couple Papal Guard with halberds.  There was also a fanatical woman with a couple cleavers! 

Raedwald has the ability to transform into ethereal mist, and so he did so, making himself immune to their gunfire, or any other attack. The bats flew up to the upper story windows, to pounce upon victims later.
Gort took position with his hunting rifle and waited for dawn to break so he could get a clear shot.

The misty Vampire proceeded forward, making the men of god wonder who he would attack but unable to do anything about it.  Their holy symbols would be some protection however: the vampires must pass a Bravado check in order to charge them, but only the Paladin did not have this limitation in reverse, so it would be interesting.  One of the ghoulish men tried to guard Svetta, but the Paladin charged her regardless.
Some of the bats attacked a guard, and though they would eventually fall, they held the guard tied up for a good deal of time, giving the numbers advantage to the Nosferatu to the left.  The mad woman tangled with a ghoul, and lost the battle.  Meanwhile, seeing his beloved attacked, Raedwald overcame any power the religious icon might have over him and charged the Paladin: just as the Holy Knight struck her down, he too was dispatched by the ancient Vampire.
A ghoul discovered a cache of artifacts and dutifully sneaked away back to the nest with them.  The bats were dead, Gort killed the guard who'd killed the bats and he himself was then brought down by a Holy Order rifler,who Raedwulf then killed, along with the last remaining guard. All that was left was the Vampire and the wounded Cardinal.  Raedwulf passed his Bravado check, determined to kill all who had injured his consort, but the Cardinal lost faith and ran.

A very bloody fight! All but one of the Holy Order was removed from play and all but two of the Nosferatu were removed from play!

The Nosferatu didn't fair too badly for after-action results, though the bats are laughably weak now- but no matter their roll is to tie up & delay, and they can still do that.

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hunted Apes: Greystoke's Apes Prowl the London Night: EotD Battle Report

Last Friday we played more Empire of the Dead skirmish games, this time breaking up into small one on one matches.  I decided to let the newly restarted Greystoke's Apes (a Lycan faction) have their first game.  I changed up some of the miniatures, leaving the very large transformed James Clayton miniature in the case (He will join the team once the leader gets enough skill upgrades to reflect his appearance) and used Alphie for the Beastlord, and the large apes with gauntlets for pack-masters (they had been 'wolves' in the last version) and so brought in gorillas from my Blood Bowl Ape team for the role of the faction member 'wolves'.  And of course, loyal Woodhouse and no-nonsense Maggie brought their tranquguns for added support.
The Apes of Greystoke gather to make their way home to the estate, under the protective eyes of the staff.

The scenario required me to get my squad off the table safely, at the opposite board edge, while the enemy, deployed split into two groups at those opposite corners would try to prevent it.  That looked like it would be difficult, considering he could patiently wait, knowing I must come to him and he has the guns.

The Apes started in front of the long building at the bottom edge of the board, while the hunters took positions in the opposite corners.  There were also a few small statues around, that a lucky search could reveal some useful items for the campaign.
"No apes will get past us this way sir"
"Aye, We be ready fer them."
The majority of the group moves up, trying to keep as much blocking sight as they can.
Meanwhile, Woodhouse feels it is his duty to investigate one of the statues, but there is nothing there.
"Run along ape, and join your fellows, I will stand guard here and fire upon any from behind that wall who try to pursue you."
Alphie leads the apes across the street in a head-long rush.  The men take aim, but the speed of the apes prevent their shots from finding their targets.
Maggie the maid, moving slower to give answer in kind to the hunter's shots, is grazed by a bullet and spins round, momentarily disoriented.
The villainous rapacious men assault the woman!  What is London coming to?
The apes made it safely home, and Woodhouse, once awaking from his own state of being passed out from a flesh wound, escorted her home.  You can rest easy that after Lord Clayton heard about the night's event that these jumped upped 'Gentlemen' and their Club will have their foul nature and little worth known by the greater society.

Next up: Ancient Nosferatu clash with their rivals: the Holy Order.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Arthur & Mordred: Climactic Clash

Earlier this year I participated in the Lead Painter's League challenge on the Lead Adventure Forum, and had a great time doing it.  - If I do it again next eyar i'll have to go back and add a tag for 'LPL' to those updates, in the meantime you can use the search function for 'LPL Round' and find the entries.

One of my worthy clashmates was Lead Asbestos, who had some nice Gladiators pitted against my Angels, after the week's contest he sent me a PM and asked if I'd be willing to paint the 2006 special Salute mini, which was a Dark Ages Arthur vrs Mordred battle duel. He had got a few and wanted to get some painters he liked to paint them, which was quite flattering of course and I also liked the idea of getting to paint the minis, since they looked very fun to paint. He was also kind enough to send me a bag of useful minis along with these two for future projects which may appear here soon.

So here's my take on the Salute duel:

I've seen some very nice versions of these. I had the same idea as some: red cloak and trimmed tunic for Arthur, for that Romano-Brit look. I went with a darker simple scheme for Mordred than most I've seen, to make him look more somber and sinister, since he's a villain in the story. It is also why I made the face of his helmet iron rather than bronze, just to keep it more dreary.  I also was aiming to have a cool tone on one side, warm tone on the other: blue vrs red.

This was very enjoyable to work on!  And made me eagerly anticipate a time when I might get around to painting some of my Saga minis: both historical and 'muppet' Elvorix! 

Fun with fight scenes... enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stories To Paint By: The Destroyermen Series

Time for another installment in 'Stories to Paint by', where I review audio books I've been listening to while painting.  As always, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, hopefully nothing more than you'd get from the jacket of the book, though if there are possible spoilers beyond that I'll warn you. I tend to not even like movie previews because they give away far too much, so I won't do the same to others. What I will do is explain why I think the book is good or lacking, and why and in what ways you might enjoy it.  On we go!

I had intended to do this review after having finished the third book in the series, but I found I couldn't stop listening to them, and kept delaying the review for 'just one more book'.  The Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson is an adventurous romp that is hard to set aside. If you're a fan of World War II, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Parallel Worlds or Alternate History, or like me, a fan of all of these genres, then it's easily worth a look.  This work falls into a sub-genre that is hard to define, since there are not a lot of stories like this.  Central to the concept is a group of people from our world find themselves back in time or to an earlier other-version of our world, and with greater technology and knowledge, but limited resources and numbers, must find a way to survive, thrive and 'save the day'.

The first series I read in this concept was 'The Lost Regiment' series, which I quite enjoyed, and I'd say this is better than that.  There is also the Philadelphia Experiment, but it is a much more limited vision than what Destroyermen achieves.  The last of this type that I have read is S.M. Sterling's Island in the Sea of Time series, which is an out and out masterpiece and my favorite series of this type, and one of my favorite series of any genre.  The Destroyermen however, while maybe not as good as Sterling's, is quite good and offers more variety of creatures and cultures, since the world in question is a parallel world, not our own world's past.

The Basics: 
In the early days of WWII in the Pacific, the crew of U.S.S. Walker, an aging destroyer, finds itself flung by a freak storm into a parallel Earth.  Everything they know is gone, except for the coastlines, and they are now aliens in this world.  Imagine if the asteroid that hit 65 million years ago had missed.  What would our world have been like?  The crew of the Walker are about to find out.

Peopled by raptor-like beings and a furry primate descended from Lemurs, the humans find themselves in the middle of a different war, one where they are now the pinnacle of military technology, instead of being out-gunned and out-classed as they had been.

Both on the large scale and the individual, the story does a great job exploring the issue of rising to meet the needs and expectations of the situation, regardless of how well prepared or fit for it they might previously have been considered.  The characters are memorable and well developed, especially for an adventure tale.
Unlike a lot of science fiction or fantastical adventure, it does not set a single-minded pace that ignores the 'why' questions.  There is a character who's role is to satisfy the reader's desire to know more about the world and people, which I was very grateful for.

The alien cultures are well considered and strike me as realistic.   With interesting implications about the influence of biology and evolution on developing culture, as well as cultural transmission and its effect, it again is more than just an action adventure, though there is plenty of action to be had. combat occurs both on sea & land, and despite the inhabitants of this world being more technologically limited, they have their own advantages, making them dangerous adversaries and welcome allies.

As the books go on new layers of complexity are added as more of the world comes into their awareness.
For me, this only increased my enjoyment of the books.

There are a couple areas that I had some minor problems with that I wish had been handled differently.
For one, the author repeats himself too often to remind readers of some of the character relationships and idiosyncrasies. After a few times hearing it, I have it, I don't need to be told the background of the inside joke, in full, for the fourth, fifth or more times.  A simple quick reminder might be good for readers who spend greater time between sessions of reading, but it was excessive in a couple cases.  That is an advantage of printed word over audio: it is much easier to scan your eye down, than to stop painting and hit fast forward, and possibly overshoot, then back again- no, just keep the brush in hand and wish the repeating didn't take so long.

Slight spoiler paragraph: 

The other issue is, in my opinion, the author gives too much credit to human adaptability and tolerance.  The story makes it clear that there is really only one member who has any advanced education, other than specialized in medical nursing. Yet the crew never seem to have a struggle with or adjustment period in accepting the Lemurian primates as people.  Considering the time period, and how most of America did not even accept evolution at the time (if they had any understanding of it at all) and with the prevalence of racism, the fact that they instantly accept the furry, short, tailed 'monkey-cats' as equal people is too laudable to be believed.  I think human better nature would get there eventually, but I think it would have been more realistic and more interesting for the story and character development to see this struggle and adjustment to their thinking.

/spoiler off. 

Audio content: The narrator does an excellent job.  He handles a variety of voices, even for different nationalities, genders and species, very well.  The voices for the two engineers, 'the mice', might be a bit over the top, but they are often comic relief, so it isn't unexpected. One of the better narrations I've listened to.

The audio books run on average between 16-18 hours, making them a bit shorter than my preference, but then, just load the next one!

For the Gamers: 
A treasure trove!  A great setting for an RPG as well as a variety of scales of miniature gaming.
How would a WWI Destroyer fare in a battle against a score of Age of Sail cannon-armed merchant men?
I don't know about you, but I'd like to try that out on the tabletop!
Or a dozen rifle armed sailors fighting in the jungle against raptors with swords!
A city of musket-armed non-human primates, backed up with mortars defending against an endless tide of dinosaurs with firebombs... too fun for sure!

If this series doesn't get your minis-gaming mind spinning you might be in a coma.


I have listened to the first 6 books, and eagerly anticipating starting the seventh, probably tomorrow.
You can find the list of books in their correct order here.

I give the series 4.5 out of 5 bottle of paint: Very enjoyable, you'll look forward to painting! 
A little bit slow near the first half of book 4, but very worth continuing because the story only gets more complex and entertaining. In fact, where the story has left off in book 6, I'm hoping for at least 10 books in the series. 

Happy story-time & painting everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Boneswords Go Hunting: Empire of the Dead Battle Report

We started our Empire of the Dead campaign (again) last Friday.

After a few false starts, delayed from the convention, tweak & re-tweak the campaign system, but now it's set. A pretty simple concept: 150 point teams with an additional 50 points that can be used for skill/stat increases (max one roll per individual) or any of those extra points can be used as normal.
If in the campaign you play an opponent who isn't within 50 points of your own rating, then the larger value force reduces points until within the 50 pt range (leave a guy watching the home-base, leave some expensive weapons, whatever the player wishes, just for that battle) This will allow people who play less often or have some bad luck, or want to run many factions (and so won't see one team advance fast) a more even match when they play: good for everyone.

We decided to get everyone present in on the same game: a big 3 vrs 3.
Mostly Good vrs Evil, with any extras or neutrals fitting in where they are needed.
Other than slaughter our rivals we also have many statues to check for precious artifacts.

Since the Boneswords' background clearly marks them as 'good' I was on the side with a Holy Order and some Good Chaps.
Against us was a neutral to bad leaning Gentlemen's club, mostly all in black, so I'll call them the Somber Society, as well as a corrupt Fireman's Union (I think they take a page from Crassus' book: hello sir, looks like your house is on fire, would you like to hire us to put it out?') and a Chinese Opium  Importer's sword-wielding muscle. 
The Boneswords approach the city center, ready for battle.  I've gone for numbers and lots of swords.

My conceptual rival, the Opium pushers of the Green Dragon Den, also a Zendarin faction, just like mine, but with more messy meat on their bones.  Disgusting.

But before we can get to them, across from us is the Somber Society, and they have a lot of guns, so the brave bones sneak through the back of a building, while checking one of the mysterious statues.
First statue checked so needed a 9 on a d10: nope. We break down the doors and take the house.

My ally to my left, the Holy Order of the Sisters of Ruler-smacking have no luck with their statues either: early birds find nothing.
My ally to the right covers ground to try to get vantage to shoot -some take to the upper story windows.

The Green Dragons divide their number: some look for a statue in the right corner building...
While others enter the large Mill's courtyard directly across from my Boneswords

Meanwhile, the Somber Society enters the same courtyard from the other side of the building, in single-file murmuring a depressing dirge. 

The eccentric hired-gun of the Fire Brigade, Nolan Fifthmain, pauses to relieve himself in the bushes.
"These are now my bushes" he says.  Some say he was raised by wolves. They might be right.
Hefting their axes, the Fire Brigade moves across the street, looking for statues and rich houses to 'discover' they are on fire. 
The Somber Society advances further, preparing to take aim at the noble Boneswords should they arrive.

Around the same building comes the Somber Society's secret weapon: an armored spirit-cannon weilder
Though taking some fire, the Boneswords make it out of their building and across the street to the mill.
They take position on either side, and prepare to rush in. 

One of the 'Swords is knocked down, but in the rush, two Green Dragons are brought low: out of action.

Meanwhile, Nolan Fifthmain advances to the next planter: "ahhh..these are mine too".

The Somber Society takes on the Boneswords, bringing them into their dreary world.

A solid clash ensues for several rounds. And though all the Bonesword characters are wounded, with them still on their feet, eventually the Sombers are reduced in number to the point the rest flee.

The Fish out of Water took a parting shot at a Bonesword knight, to no effect.

A brave Green Dragon held out against two Bonesord knights for most of the night before finally being brought down- which was the last straw for them: the rest retreated. 

A narrow victory for our side, with 2 out of 3 of the enemy retreating and 1 out of 3 of ours retreating. 

Take Away: I think we need a new system for 'discovery objects'.  we had the first item searched needing a 9+, with each next at a +1.  But since one side searched three before the other searched, this made it a lot easier for one side to find something.  On the one hand, you don't want nothing found -which poor odds that never change could see happen, but on the other, you don't want shenanigans of 'wait to search until they do' (which didn't happen, to be clear, but it could) which is gamey and also makes no real sense. Solution? Don't know yet. could mark some ahead of time and place them randomly. 

We're playing again tomorrow night (actually tonight as I post this) and not sure which faction I'll play yet. 

I do enjoy the Boneswords, but it is quite a challenge having nothing to shoot!  Just run and hope. 
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