Thursday, 12 October 2017

CXLIII. Tor Megiddo

I'm back from the trip, recovered from it, so now it's time for a report. First, I'd like to say I'm glad that I went. Had a great time, met 'in the flesh' the great creative people with whom I'd been only communicating online. And, of course, saw their work in person. Thanks, everyone. A special honour goes to Alexander Winberg, who did a huge amount of work; he organized things really well, wrote the codex, made the table on which we played and made us all feel welcome in Helsinki. 

For the sake of those readers who are hearing about this for the first time, I'll explain what the event was about. Tor Megiddo was a collaborational project by hobbyists from the INQ28 crowd. Around a dozen people from different parts of the world were invited. Not all were able to make it in the end, so there were eight of us playing the game. Those who were not there still sent the minis they made for the project to serve as NPCs and monsters. In line with the INQ28 philosophy: the stress was on building and painting unique minis specifically for the event, inventing their backgrounds and playing out a story, while the rules were kept very loose and simple so that they don't get in the way of a good time. 

I wrote my report from the perspective of my warband. There was a lot happening on the table with so many players, and I could not keep track of all parts of the board. There were certainly many interesting moments elsewhere, like the duel of the Slåsbil and the Valkyre. Most of the other participants have their own blogs, and they will make their own write-ups, so I'm sure one will be able to figure out a more complete picture of the battle when these individual accounts are combined.

Places to look; blogs and sites of people who were there and other contributors: Echoes of Imperium, Wilhelminiatures, Secrets of the Void, The Convertorum, 'Nordics_minis' on Instagram, Bigbossredskullz, WarbossKurgan, Between the Bolter and Me. There was also lot of coverage on The Inquisitorium, the INQ28 Facebook group.   



*   *   *

 The New Transhumans

Right before dawn on that day, strange news come to the warlord triumvirate of the New Transhumans. They say that mighty quake that shook the ground the day before opened the Valley of Defilement. In the Valley the Promethean Tower was sealed, forgotten for a long time. The legendary seas of promethium lie beneath. And everyone else is already on their way. The three warlords agree they must act quickly. They have done this before... Warlord Balvan and his most trusted warriors grab their battlegear and rush towards the mega-cannons. The engineers start calculating the ballistics... Balvan's cousins Kugla and Kriegla rally their own men, fuel the trucks, saddle the beasts. As three thunderous cannon shots are fired skyward, the tribe's motorised force spills out of the fort gate. It is on.
 


The Battle of the Promethean Tower

Warbands descend on the Tower from all sides, opening fire at the unsuspecting locals. The first few civilian victims fall. Warlord Balvan and his warband crash around the centre of the battlefield - one of the pods landing on the Promethean Tower's lower platform and the other two at the base of the tower some distance away. The marksmen Theg and Smet start with firing some shots at the advancing enemy with mixed success, while the berserkers Hobotnik and Folf and their leader head for the the Tower with intentions to climb up its sides. Their mission is clear - claim the tower complex and hold it as long as you can - buying time until the tribe's main force arrives across the red desert. 

Theg exchanges shots with the mutant cavalry that galloped in from the south of the valley, and gets quickly shot down. Pathetic. Meanwhile, Balvan reaches a ladder, but an enormous purple truck pulls in, with a clear intention of turning him into roadkill. The warlord manages to step out of the way of the cumbersome vehicle, but seconds later another fortress on wheels tries to run him over. The final straw was the crew's attempt to burn Balvan with flame throwers; shouting vile curses, he raises his power fist and punches the truck in the face.

Balvan punching a truck.

Sounds of battle and engines are increasing in volume on all sides. As Folf reaches the top of the north Promethean Tower, he sees the surroundings - bikes, armoured vehicles, horsemen and warriors of many desert tribes, known and unknown to him. This will be a tough fight. But Folf did not have much time to contemplate on that, as the top of the tower was guarded - by none other than Machromonicum the 83rd, the Lord of Lead. The berserker's heart filled with excitement - he imagined all the glory he would win if he takes this mighty foe's head, here at the top of the Tower, in full sight of all. Folf swung his buzzing chainsword readily.

On the southern part of the Promethean Tower, Hobotnik begins his ascent in hope to find someone to kill there. The shots from trigger-happy mutant gunslingers ricochet around him as he climbs. He notices the familliar scavenger warriors with whom the Transhumans have a feeble alliance. Soon their walker reaches the tower and warriors step outside on the platform. They seem to have no intention to fight Hobotnik, and focus fire on the mutant gunslingers below. Hobotnik looks up the tower and sees the guards of the Lord of Lead. Heads for the ladder to climb to the top. 

Around that time a heavily armoured vehicle coming from the north plows through a suspicious pit of uneven ground to the east of the Tower. The ground suddenly shakes, and from the pit three toothed heads on long, serpentine necks emerge. The worms commence spewing toxic bile at the unfortunate souls around them...

The Sand Worms emerge.

As he pulls his massive fist from the hole he made in the armoured truck's front a moment ago, Balvan hears engine revving behind his back. Instinctively, he hurls himself to the left, just as the purple truck from earlier smashes into the heavily armoured truck... Balvan could have been flattened between the two. Talk about reckless driving... As much has he would love the bragging rights that would come with single-handedly punching a truck into a lump of scrap iron, he remembers his mission. Before the murderous trucks have time to turn around, he runs to the ladder and climbs up the platform. Since he was having so much fun with the trucks, he only just realised that warriors of other tribes are closing in on him. The Scrap Queen and her boys, the famed Blue Ruin, and something that looks like a walking tower made of meat... A few explosions sound from below, but Balvan cannot see what caused them. On the platform he finds Smet, taking cover behind his crash pod and happily firing away. A look up the tower reveals see Folf swinging his weapons maniacally at a crooked robed figure. 

Folf vs the Lord of Lead.


The meaty walker, which seems to be an actual living animal of incredible size, unloads its passengers at the end of the platform and moves on to engage someone else. The warriors that came out of the piglike beast lock eyes with Balvan and advance menacingly. The Scrap Queen herself rushes towards the Tower on her many mechanical legs. She is incredibly fast. Balvan grabs Smet and orders him to climb up to the Tower's summit, where Folf is still furiously battling the Lord of Lead. They won't let him take all the glory.
The lumbering Tor, a walking derelict promethium rig approaches from the distance. It is heading towards the Tower, minding not the battle around its unsteady metal feet.

It is becoming more and more crowded around the Tower.
On the south end of the Tower complex, the mutants have jumped off their misshapen steeds and met the scrapper allies of the Transhumans. Hobotnik finally sees an opportunity to butcher someone, and charges towards that melee, cutting mutants left and right. Just when they were all done away with, an ear-piercing, headache-inducing sound comes from below. The allies stumble around, stunned.


Hobotnik and the muties.

The Promethean Tower complex shakes as the Tor pulls to a halt leaning on the central platform. 

One of the folk that came out of the giant pig's harness, a hulking barbarian, noticed the Scrap Queen climbing up the tower's side, right beneath Folf and Smet's crash pod. With his immense strength he manages to push the heavy ball over the edge of the platform right on top of the unsuspecting Queen. She falls down, raising a cloud of dust. However, it is but a scratch... And now she is mad.  She goes back up to deal with the cur and anyone else who stands in her way.

The Scrap Queen about to be hit by a ball.

When Balvan and Smet get to the top, Folf is still struggling to kill the Lord. His heart sinks when he sees his mates, as he knows that now the kill will not be only his... All three of them advance against the Techpriest. He is much tougher than he looks...

Meanwhile, Hobotnik's drugged up mind all of a sudden recalls that he was supposed to climb the Tower, and with utter disregard for his allies, he leaps towards the ladder. Still reeling from the sound attack, some of them get kicked out of the way and fall from the platform, possibly to their deaths. The scrappers are in a hurry too, and as soon as they regain their composure they race past Hobotnik, with equal disregard of his safety. Warriors of both warbands head up the south tower, falling over each other.

The Bird of Hermes swoops in from the high skies and proceeds to sail silently over the battle. An ill omen... As if it knows something the humans do not, the Tor suddenly steps away from the Tower, and walks straight away from it, towards north-east. 

Bird of Hermes.

Supported by his warriors, Balvan finally manages to strike the final blow to the turbulent priest, and the Lord of Lead falls from the tower broken, crumpling into the dust below. There is no time for respite, though. The Lord's guards on the bridge between the towers roar in anger and begin firing furiously at the barbarians. The Scrap Queen appears, seemingly out of nowhere. She must have scaled the Tower's side. The three warriors, bleeding and exhausted by the fight, prepare to make a stand against the new threat.

And then, from the rickety shacks to the south-east, a projectile is fired from a hijacked turret. The Promethean Tower is hit directly, promethium ignites and explodes. Fire rains on the surroundings. A chain reaction occurs, blowing up the entire tower complex and everyone on it...
*   *   *

Everything getting blown up was really a fitting ending to the game, I must say.

The crew started brainstorming ideas for the next gathering as soon as we were done with this one and sat down to have a pint at the end of the day. There is definitely interest, so I expect there will be another one of these next year, in one form or another. Anyway, time for me to get back on track with my own small projects now.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

CXLII. Tor Megiddo - Final Preparations

Only a few days left till the game. The warband has been done for months, but there were still some extra bits to craft before I board my plane for the cold north.

Crash Pods


I wasn't going to have any vehicles from the start. Then only last week I got this fun idea of an alternative mode of transport for my troops.

My technobarbarian tribe, the New Transhumans, is in possession of super sized primitive cannons, which they use to quickly drop a squad of their toughest warriors straight where the fight is. The remainder of their force follows on the ground, setting out on trucks and beasts. They come later to the party, but able to carry the loot and roll the empty pods back home. 

The warlord rides in the big one, while the warriors must squeeze into the smaller ones in pairs.


They are styrofoam balls on 50mm lipped bases. I used copies of my sculpted shields for doors on the two smaller pods, and sculpted a bigger face for the Warlord's pod. I didn't have much time left, so I aimed to finish them as quick as possible. Simple build, black undercoat, rust, pigments and one extreme highlight on the doors. 

 

Stat Cards


I'm used to having cards for my characters in any game I play. They are useful and can look great with some effort.


For the backs of the cards I photographed each warrior (a sandy desert background would have been more suitable, I do admit; but I didn't have one around). I made the cards in Photoshop and then had them printed to size.

The stats were written out in the most fitting 40k-ish fonts I could find. Originally I planned to coffee-stain the cards, but then I ended up having them printed on paper with a semi-glossy finish, so I dropped that plan and left them clean. Each side was printed separately, then cut and glued back-to back, with a layer of heavy paper in between. The only weathering I did was distressing the edges with a file.

 

Tor Megiddo Codex 

 

The Codex PDF for the event was written by Alexander Winberg. I had it printed and then cut and pasted it into book shape, in order to have a physical copy.

 *   *   *

That's it, I'm all set. Next you hear from me will be in a report of the battle of Tor Megiddo.

 *

The land shakes beneath the fury of the storm.
The sand is drenched in blood and oil.
Most holy Promethium, it fills our veins with wrath.
Ride forth warlord! Blessed by the Cog and the Bolt!
Wage war in the sun!
Can you hear the engines starting?
Can you feel the boiling blood?
Can you see the storm approaching?
War in the sun

Thursday, 28 September 2017

CXLI. Updates On Several Fronts



Monstrous Births is slowly getting there, with only one miniature left to convert and paint. This means the short campaign ought to be ready and played out in November or December. Meanwhile, it came to life in a different form: that of a pen and paper RPG adventure. A few months back, I was approached by Witold Krawczyk with the proposal to co-write an adventure and enter it in this year's Quentin. I learned that Quentin is a Polish contest for best unpublished adventure scenario, held every year since 1999. I said yes and we agreed to adapt the story of Monstrous Births into RPG form. This required more fleshing out and expanding than I originally expected and, before we submitted it, Witold had to translate the entire text into Polish - the official language of the contest. We managed to meet the deadline, and when the results were published at the Copernicon convention last week, we were delighted. Pomiot (that's what MB's title is in Polish), was pronounced the winner of this year's Quentin. We hoped it could happen, but honestly did not expect it. We have plans for the adventure in terms of publishing, but that's a story for a different time. Thanks for initiating this, Witold; it was a pleasant collaboration.

*


On to the figures. Two more Misshapen Deer done, only one to go.

I added a different species of deer for some variety in fur colour.

The deformities. Along with creative numbers of limbs in both, one of the deer is cyclocephalus, and the other is dicephalus.


*   *   *

Queen Ligia of Folda received a fresh batch of subjects: four new Crypt Ghouls join my FeC warband.

Parts came from various kits again - from Empire State Troops to recent 40K Poxwalker.

On a related note, Ex Profundis announced another online contest in the vein of The Eclipse earlier this year. This time around the theme is monsters and the deadline is Halloween. Awesome! This is just that bit of extra motivation I needed to get to work on the next member of Ligia's royal court. The Eclipse had some really nice entries, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone does with their monster designs.   



*   *   *

And finally, a new pair of variants of the green man shield sculpt. I use leftover putty for those, so they get made more-or-less spontaneously.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

CXL. Samouse, CK2017 and Tor Megiddo box

Got this little guy as a prize at the Black Queen painting comp. If anyone's interested in seeing WIP photos, I wrote a brief article about the painting process on this mini for my club's website (in English): HERE. Samouse is a part of a whole series of mouse versions of LOTR characters from Cartoon Miniatures. They're all lovely, and I'm fighting the temptation to collect the rest of the Fellowship, starting with Boromouse. Oh, and they don't have Gollum yet, but I can totally see them basing him on a naked mole-rat, with spectacular results...    



 *   *   *

As I mentioned above, a couple days ago I visited another miniatures show here in Zagreb. The show in question was Zagreb Scale Model Cup CK 2017, organized by the Croatian Association of Military Miniaturists, hereabouts known as HUVM. This one is larger than UMS "Agram"'s Black Queen I wrote about back in July, but focuses on model warships, tanks, airplanes and other historical-themed and/or vehicle models and dioramas. There are, hower, a handful of categories open for Fantasy and SF pieces. In addition to manning my club's presentation booth with my colleagues, I entered some of my works from the past year in the competition. This time the organizer brought Mig Jimenez to the event, to do a free workshop/demonstration of weathering techniques, among other things. It would have been silly to miss the opportunity to learn something from the guy; things like that are terribly rare in my corner of the world. Anyway, I brought home some trophies and had a nice time. 

My entries and spoils.



*   *   *

Since I've finally confirmed that I'll be attending Tor Megiddo in Helsinki in person, I thought I could use a container to safely transport my warband all the way there. What I needed was a small box, light but sturdy, that fit all the models, their stats and maybe a few dice and a measuring device. And, naturally, it also had to look nice. This is what I came up with:
It was an unpainted wooden box. I padded the interior with sponge from blisters, forming a slot to size for each particular member of the warband. There was space left for six dice, but sadly I can't fit a tape measure. The stat cards (still not made) have their slot in the left half of the lid.
After painting the box, I made a paper stencil of the Tor Megiddo logo and sprayed it on. This didn't turn out quite as planned, but the result was ok enough to keep. I'll hopefully compensate with really nice stat cards.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

CXXXIX. The Bark Fiend


My latest endeavour. I'm churning things out quite rapidly these days... I guess August is compensating for the complete silence that was July. Made the fellow primarily for use with my Malifaux Zoraida crew (as Mysterious Emissary), but I reckon it will see the table as a witch's construct in the Gardens setting and as some sort of creature in Frostgrave, as well.

The Bark Fiend. In the Gardens setting it's a lankier cousin of the Moss Monster, both being magically animated constructs built by witches out of decaying plant material and animal bones.
 
 
 

*

The original model.

The carnivorous vegetation and changelings that are meant to be a part of Emissary's base did not have a place here. I fixed a horse skull from GW Black Knights kit on top of the original head like a mask (this involved some filing). The jaw bone was split in two and hung on the creature's chest like grim ornaments. Next, it needed antlers - sizable ones, but not as impressive as Moss Monster's. I knew I wouldn't be placing much moss on this one, so I reckoned it could use some Milliput fungi on the limbs to provide extra detail. Converting was done in an evening, and painting the morning after.
Just like the Moss Monster/Bad Juju was based on the Ancient Leshen from The Witcher 3 videogame, the Bark Fiend was made to resemble a 'regular' Leshen, to some degree. The Mysterious Emissary model's physique is much more akin to the source material than Bad Juju's hulking frame. What I dislike about the Leshen design in the game is the cloth skirt they wear. I purposefully left that out.   
Happy Tree Friends

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

CXXXVIII. Abhorrant Ghoul Queen's Court: Abhorrant Ghoul Queen

Queen Ligia the Ever-living, leader of my FEC warband and sovereign of the Ghoul city-state of Folda.





I. BACKGROUND

 

"In the midst of this pit of monsters sits the Abhorrant Ghoul King upon a throne of mortal remains. Tall and powerful, everything about the king screams that he is a bestial predator, from his lithe, corded muscles to the dark hunger in his inhuman gaze. However, this is not what the king and his followers see. To the king, he sits upon a gilt throne in a great hall...."
 W:AoS Death Battletome: Flesh-eater Courts

So, like all the rest of the lot, the ruler of a Flesh-eater Court shares in the delusion of grandeur while in fact being a blood-sucking fiend. 

"Within the madness of a Flesh-eater Court, each has their role. The king is lord and master of all, standing at the head of the hierarchy. Sometimes, he might create other abhorrants to share in this glory, though they usually remain subservient to the king’s desires. (...) For example, the Giblet Prince is the heir apparent and closest to his king. The Offal Queen oversees the blood-nurseries, caring for the newest of the brood, and making sure they feed regularly on the red bounty their father provides."
W:AoS Death Battletome: Flesh-eater Courts

Oh, I see... I guess my ghoul realm is strangely progressive then...


II. OFFICIAL MODEL


What were vampires of Strigoi bloodline in the Old World became Abhorrant Ghoul Kings in AoS. This model comes only as part of Terrorgeist/Zombie Dragon plastic kit. It's roughly human-sized.

Source: games-workshop.com


III. WHAT I DID, HOW, AND WHY


First of all, I wanted to have a female vampire rather than a male one. There are GW lady vampires, but if you look at the available miniatures, they all follow the same pattern: that of a deadly, classy seductress. That's not the archetype I'm looking for here. To match my interpretation of FEC lore, my ruler needed to be both ferocious and regal - a beast draped in tattered finery. 

I liked the pose and crookedness of the body of the Techpriest Dominus model, and I'd been looking for an excuse to use it for a conversion since its release. The initial concept had Ligia wear a huge ruff and fancier attire. This got scrapped in favour of a more battle-ready look. I replaced the ruff with furs, which are still a fancy accessory. The elegant cane that supports her crooked frame remained as another symbol of her high status. There is not too much bling (there could be more, actually), but she does wear a lot of rings. The polished war horn on her hip is a tool for summoning and commanding her loyal troops. She does not look like she is bursting with muscle, but remember that under that tattered dress is a leering undead monster towering over even the tallest a human.

Bits list: Techpriest Dominus body and cane arm, Belisarius Cawl left arm, Daemonette head, tail and horn from Space Wolves, bits of chainmail from an Ogre Irongut gutplate. The rest is putty.
Hybrid of Milliput and Green Stuff proved great for sculpting chainmail and fur.

I actually began the conversion late June, and back then it was headed in a different direction. I didn't like how it was turning out and it frustrated me, so I put her away in the box reserved for projects that frustrate me. Only this week I picked her up again, cut off all the putty and started over. This time it worked!
*   *   *

I believe now I have enough models for a small playable warband. Neat. Before continuing with various courtiers I'll do another batch of common ghouls. Conversion ideas have spawned in the interim. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

CXXXVII. Wodewose

The frame for my wose sculpt is done, and now I can call the piece finished.



In regard to sculpting, my next goal will be a tad smaller, better proportioned and differently posed wose. When I manage to get that right, I think I'll make a whole group of them, with different weapons, shields and beard styles...