Thursday, October 30, 2014

N is for Nightmare

Few of the folk of the Western Lands will venture far beyond their doors at night.  For it is at night that the world of the living lies closest to that of the dead.  It is at night that the Gods of law are at their weakest, and that the power of Chaos waxes in might.  Strange sounds are carried on the wind, and weird things travel the roads in the darkness.  

The lore of the people of the Western Kingdoms is alive with tales of Devils who haunt forest path and King's Road alike, seeking to snare the unwary.  Of great interest to some loremasters are the tales of spectral hounds and horses, the most dread of which are known simply as the Nightmares, for they are of another world, entirely, and can pass easily between the waking world and that of dreams, appearing to men and slaying them on the roads or in their beds.  

Often it is, on chill Autumn evenings, that families will hear the hammering of unseen hooves on the stones outside their lonely houses, and the unearthly scream of the Nightmare as it passes on some dread errand.  Then deep in their beds, behind doors well barred will they huddle, and pray for dawn.  When at last the day returns they'll emerge into bright sunlight to view the earth branded with the marks of burning hooves, and wonder who it was who died in his sleep, slain by a horror that stalked within the corridors of his unwaking brain.

It is said by many learned men that the Crypt Thing which dwells in the Caverns of Chaos has a pact with a Nightmare-horse, and sometimes rides this Devil Steed across the land on errands of evil. Others say this Demon in horse's shape is not a steed, but a servant and a messenger, for the Crypt Thing rarely, if ever, leaves the the deep and breathless warrens of the caves...

As a very young kid in The States, I fell in love with British folklore.  I don't know why our little school library had so many books on the subject of English and Celtic lake monsters, ghosts, cannibals, haunted castles, stone circles, Lambton Wyrms, phantom dogs, spectral horses, and little talking furry creatures on the Isle of Man named Gef, but I'm glad that they did.  I've lost not one squib of my love for this folk literature as I've advanced toward decrepitude, so I've been sort of playing with the idea of incorporating some of the spirit of it into my campaign world.

The idea of a spectral demon horsie with flaming mane and hooves thundering about the countryside by night conjures up a lot of that old folkloric flavor for me.  Mr. Nightmare, in this case a lovely old 1980s Citadel Sculpt, will make a powerful and characterful ally for my Super Arch Agent of evil, the Crypt Thing....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Star Wars Rebel Fleet Infantry Platoon Part 1: Command Team and 1st Squad

Although the Rebellion has a Special Forces Command which supplies specially trained ground forces for planet-side operations, Fleet itself provided the bulk of the Rebels' infantry right up through the Battle of Endor.  Here we see part of a Rebel Fleet Infantry Platoon as they would be seen soon after disembarking from a troop transport.

The Rebel infantry platoon I'm building follows the guidelines given for Rebel units in The Star Wars Miniature Battles Companion, though I've tweaked it here and there to suit myself/.  The finished platoon will consist of 4 8-man line squads, a 4-man command team, and a weapon section with two repeating heavy blaster teams, forty men in all.

The Companion says that 8-man squads were standard during the War of the Rebellion, though I don't know why 8. Whatever, I decided to go with that squad structure.  The book says a command team should be composed of a Lieutenant and a Sergeant Major.(?!)

I think they mean Platoon Sergeant. Well, I found suitable figures to represent the officer and platoon Sergeant, then I added a medic and a comm link guy, since an infantry platoon just doesn't look right to me without them.  Don't recall seeing any rules about medics and RTOs in the rulebook...maybe they will just be regular troopers, or perhaps I'll invent some rules for them.

Here they are.  The RTO isthe unarmed Rebel Trooper figure.  I didn't think he was good for much, having no weapon in hand, so I guess it's good that I found him some useful employment.  I wanted him to have a big bulky, annoying comm set, but didn't want to sculpt it, since I have no sculpting skills.  Instead I just made him a backpack out of green stuff and tried to make it look like there's an antenna sticking out of the top flap.

The platoon medic is not officially a member of the platoon.  She would be attached to the platoon for a specific mission, after which she would return to her own unit aboard a medical frigate.  As such she has a lot more latitude when I comes to customizing her uniform and equipment, and can get away with things the Platoon Sergeant would never let any of the others do.  As can be seen here, she has doffed her black vest, and replaced her Fleet Issue heavy blaster pistol for a high quality custom-made side arm, undoubtedly a private purchase weapon.  She has also replaced her Fleet-issue headgear with the army-issue crash-type helmet, which she claims is much less cumbersome when she is trying to work on casualties.  I wanted her to have an aid bag, so I made one out of green stuff, which looked ok, until I painted it.  I'll have to go back and touch it up sometime,  Right now, I just want to be done with the unit.

The squad troopers consist of 6 men with heavy blaster pistols and two 'specialists', one with a blaster rifle and one with what I assume is a blaster carbine,

Painting the unit has been frustrating, I'm not too keen on the way it turned out.  Painting 25mm with realistic proportions is tougher than larger, Citadel-type 'heroically proportioned' figures.

Faces don't show up as well, painting eyes becomes a lot harder, especially when figures are giving the Clint Eastwood squint, as most of these guys seem to be doing.

I'd have liked to have glossed the blast shields on their helmets, but didn't have any gloss to hand, so tried to add a highlight by blobbing some white on them.  It doesn't look too good.  Suppose I'll have to revisit them all at some point.

Oh, well, they're done.  Better luck next time?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Womp Rats!

Deep in the Jundland wastes, old Ben Kenobi runs afoul of a pack of young Womp Rats, voracious, loathsome haunters of Tattooine's dunes and canyons!  I'm sure Ben has the situation well in hand, however.  Actually, Ben's not in the Jundland waste, he's in Afghanistan, but who the hell can tell the difference, really?

The minis are, of course, simple Citadel Giant Rats from a post-Oldhammer edition of WFB.  They came in a lot with a bunch of 3rd Edition Giant Rats but they just didn't fit in with the others.  Wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, until I remembered that the Star Wars universe has big rats, too...

Apparently there's a good deal of learned debate as to what Womp Rats look like, exactly.  Most scholars hold the position that the creatures have four ears.  This illustration is from a book on the wildlife of the Star Wars galaxy I bought a few months age.  This Womp, being of a two-eared variety, looks closest to the miniatures I have to work with, So I chose him as a model for my own rats.

I think the minis look ok...

Womp Rats are supposed to be about two meters long, as I remember.  These are a bit smaller than that, unless you're counting nose to tail.

  Maybe they're young Womp Rats who've just been out of the nest a season or two....

Anyway, they'll be lurking around the edges of my Tattooine games, ready to drag down the odd Sandtrooper now and again...or to menace some Princess who's lost her way in the desert...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

C is for Crypt Thing

The Caves of Chaos are vast and deep.  Far beneath the earth they wend.  Here ancient tombs and mansions of creatures long vanished lie forgotten in the breathless dark, and  long, roads of echoing stone open suddenly on unknowable pits and gulfs and weird warrens peopled with nameless horrors. Here many powers plot their offensives against the fading kingdoms of The West, and seek to receive its champions into cold and nameless graves.

Construction of my AD&D miniatures campaign has been sadly neglected of late, but I'm going to continue to do what I can here and there.     
  Not surprisingly, I don't have my Fiend Folio here with me. I seem to remember the Crypt Thing of my youthful AD&D campaigns as being an active and enterprising monster who had a following of Thugs and assassins and who could be used by a DM to coordinate all manner of hardships and plot hooks for adventurers.  A good nemesis monster.  That's how I saw him.  Looking for info on the Crypt Thing online, however, I can only find what seems to be a new version of the monster which is a strictly reactive creature, a simple tomb guardian.  How boring.

Well, my Crypt Thing is going to be the kind surrounded by a gang of thugs and assassins who works actively to foil adventurers, kidnap fair maidens, cut holes in the bottom of everybody's boat and energetically plot to bring ruin upon bands of adventuring heroes.  

'Cause that's how I want it.

Here he is.  Citadel's old 'Skeleton Monk' figure.  

Now I just have to start building up his gang of evil human henchmen.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Classic Rebel Heroes Part I: The Jedi Masters

Been really wanting to get back to working on my old school Grenadier Star Wars collection.  So rude of the Dept of Defense to interrupt my hobby like that.  No manners, those people.  Anyway, enjoyed getting things going again with a couple of old childhood friends like Ben and Yoda.

"Poorly lit is this picture.  Some lights in this dungeon you need, hrm?"

I think they came out ok.  Not sure how often I'll use these in actual games, but they're fun to have.
"Have at you!"

A good start, I reckon.  More to follow soon.