Author Archives: The Angry Piper

Jolly Friar with Dog

For my final submission for Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge on Instagram this year, I only had one character class left: the monk. This old RAFM monk with dog is no longer available anywhere I can find. He’s such a great miniature, I thought he was due for a repaint.

I briefly considered painting him red and green and basing him on snow in honor of the Christmas holiday, but why ruin the utility of such a great sculpt? I decided to keep the colors pretty much the same, but maybe add a little shading and highlighting, techniques unknown to me back in the 80’s when I originally painted him. I kept the dog more or less the same, too.

He has such a great face. I generally don’t bother much with faces beyond the typical trio of flesh-colored paints and a wash, but in this case I added some rose to his cheeks and nose. This fellow look like he enjoys his booze.

Rather atypical of me to have completed a challenge so early in the month, but I’m making up for all the lost time this year.

I love this challenge, whether I call it Character of the Month or Tom calls it #paintanadventuringparty. I think I will continue it into next year. This year I used all old-school miniatures for the challenge, next year I’m thinking I will try something new: no humans! So, every character class will be represented by a demihuman race: elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, maybe even half-orcs and half-elves. Maybe.

No tortles, tieflings, dragonborn, half-giants, tabaxi, aasimar, kenku, warforged or anything else equally stupid, though.

I have standards.

My first “commissions”

That Cthulhu Jawn is an actual-play Call of Cthulhu podcast set in 1980’s Philadelphia. I discovered the podcast through Instagram and It’s a lot of fun. George, the GM, contacted me a couple of months back and asked me if I do commission painting. He’d seen my IG account and liked my work. I was quite flattered that anyone would think my stuff is good enough to pay for, and I told him so; but I offered to paint some miniatures for him for free if it wasn’t too big a job. It wasn’t.

George wanted these two miniatures painted for his players’ characters in a different game (I can’t remember what). I think they’re 3D prints from HeroForge. I didn’t think to take any “before” pictures. so this is the finished product. George picked the colors.

Anyone who knows me knows I need little if any excuse to paint a dwarf, or at least a dwarf miniature. I like this guy.

The minotaur was not so much fun. I admit I’m not really a fan of this miniature, but once I started rolling it came together pretty quickly.

The axe handle had broken off at some point below the hand , leaving him with a comically-short, massive cleaver. I fixed it with some plastic rod and green stuff. (The benefit of never throwing anything away is that I had the correct diameter rod at hand.)

One of the questions I never thought to ask is why these two very different characters are adventuring together. They seem an unlikely pair. Now that I think about it, the dwarf’s gun and wrench and the minotaur’s weird jet-pack thing give me a Spelljammer vibe. Maybe I’ll ask George if I remember.

As you may know, the last few months have been somewhat trying for me. George had to wait a bit for his miniatures, but at last they are finished and are winging their way home to him via the United States Postal Service.

Also leaving Dead Dick’s Tavern after an extended stay: Owen’s miniatures! This almost four-feet high stack of Plano boxes contains hundreds of classic Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures, as well as a fair amount of other manufacturers. Several years ago (for those who don’t want to follow the link), my good friend Owen gave these to me; as he was done with painting and just wanted the space. I’ve been holding onto them ever since, hoping he would take them back. I even painted a few of them and posted them here to taunt him with his own miniatures.

It didn’t work. He really was done.

A couple of weeks ago, he asked if I still had them. Of course I did. He said that if I was ok with it, and if I still wanted to get rid of them, I could give them to his niece. She grew up watching her uncle play roleplaying games and paint miniatures. She’s in her 30’s now, running games of her own.

Of course I was ok with it. I’ve always said these were never my miniatures. They were Owen’s miniatures, I just held onto them for him. I told him that if I couldn’t give them back to him, then I would gladly pass them on to the next generation of Owen gamers, and I did.

But I kept a few.

Principia Discordia

I have a Discord server. I use it primarily to run roleplaying games online. Should you ever wish to play in one of my games, you will need to join my server. It is not a public server, because public servers are quickly overrun by dickheads, trolls and spammers.

I dislike both dickheads and trolls, and I despise spammers. I do not want them on my server. Thus, one cannot actually join my server unless I will it.

Lately, I was thinking that in addition to running RPGs, maybe I could use the Discord server to connect with my hobby friends; specifically miniature painters and wargamers. I think I may set up a video channel in the server for when I paint. Anyone could drop in and hang out, shoot the shit, maybe even paint some miniatures at the same time. Might be a good way to motivate others and to show off what we’re working on.

So, if you want to join my Discord server, you need to have a Discord handle. You get one by joining Discord, which, of course, is free. Once you have that, drop me an email (angrypiper@angrypiper.com) with your handle and I will extend an offer of Discord friendship to you. Accept, and once we’re Discord friends, I can invite you to my server, where the pleasure of my company and the company of other like-minded miniature addicts awaits you.

Fnord.

(PS: I would assume it goes without saying that anyone who frequents this blog is invited, but just in case that wasn’t clear: if I know you, you’re invited.)

Amberlynn, Dragon Slayer

As anyone who still comes here knows, I have had precious little hobby time over the past few months as irritants both personal and professional have plagued me without mercy. One thing I’ve managed to keep up with (the ONLY thing, really; as my last two posts show) is Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge over on Instagram. Tom’s challenge is pretty much the same as my Character of the Month from last year, only without the back stories. I’m also choosing to paint only old-school miniatures, because that’s what I want to do.

This is Amberlynn, Dragon Slayer (not to be confused with Amber Lynn, who is someone else entirely). She’s from Ral Partha’s Fantasy Personalities line (03-106), and in case you can’t tell, she’s a Sandra Garrity sculpt.

Like many of my old-school metal minis, she was never painted (until now). I needed a paladin for the challenge. She looks the part. Besides, I realized I was a little short on the female miniatures so far this year.

Here she is sans background scenery.

And finally, here she is doing what she does best, slayin’ dragons; in this case, a Grenadier Red Dragon, sculpted by Julie Guthrie.

Not much else to say, really. I’m hoping to get a few more posts out by the end of the year. December is when I traditionally clean up my “side pile”; but that seems unlikely. I just want to get SOMETHING done. This was supposed to be the year of pop culture, and it’s turned out to be the nine months of pop culture! That sucks!

Next month: only one more character class to go in the challenge…can you guess which one? Also: more gaming announcements, and hopefully something else, too…

Dark Elf Sorcerer

Hi, I’m The Angry Piper. You may remember me from such things as being active in the online hobby community and having a blog, once.

Jesus. Another month from hell. I hesitate to say things are getting better, because I said that last month and shit went south again immediately after I did. I’m not one to knock wood; but I’m coming around to the idea of embracing superstition. It can’t hurt, right?

In the meantime, I’ve managed to keep up with one challenge, at least: Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge on Instagram. To be honest, if I wasn’t nine for nine already this year, I wouldn’t have bothered. But why break my streak?

This bad boy is from Grenadier, a Dark Elf Sorcerer sculpted by the great Julie Guthrie. I’ve decided to call him a wizard for the purpose of the challenge. I also decided to paint him with a bright palette, because who the hell is gonna stop me?

I’ve had this guy for a while. Since 1988 (or 1989, I can’t make it out). He was even painted once, but he was painted primarily glossy crimson. Spiffy, huh? I stripped him for repaint about a decade ago.

I feel like I should do something better with the staff, but…nah.

Check out the widow’s peak on this guy! Full-on Eddie Munster!

Picture this. Old-school D&D. Your first level Magic-User has 2 hit points and one random spell, and it’s Read Magic. You meet an Owlbear and you die.

Grab some dice and a new character sheet.

Once again, I’m hoping to make a return to normalcy here at Dead Dick’s next month. I still have a lot of Pop Culture miniatures I would like to get to by the end of the year. Thanks for sticking with me.

Dark Lord

It has been a hellish couple of months, both personally and professionally. I have had little time to do anything hobby-related; but hopefully that’s behind me now. One thing I have managed to keep up with is my Character of the Month for my buddy Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge on Instagram. It’s a good thing it’s only one miniature a month; because that’s about all I’ve done in September.

This old-school miniature comes from Superior Miniatures, from their Wizards and Lizards line: Dark Lord (a.k.a. “Wizard with Dragon”), sculpted by Ray Lamb. I purchased and painted him long ago (in the 80’s, in fact), but stripped him of his Testors enamel some years back, always intending to repaint him, And now I have.

There’s no way you could make this guy look like a good guy; so I’ve decided he is a good representation of a Warlock, a magic-user who gets his power from a pact with something infernal. I decided on a pretty simple palette, since everyone knows bad guys wear black.

This is one of my all-time favorite miniatures. I absolutely love this sculpt, and taking a new look at Superior’s line has really opened my eyes at how good these miniatures are. I have quite a few of them (another may be showing up here soon), and I count myself pretty fortunate.

Hopefully this marks a return to more regular posts; and an overall return to the blogosphere. I’ve missed you guys.

Bard with Bagpipes

For my Character of the Month, and for my submission to Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge on Instagram, I chose to do a bard: specifically, this old-school Grenadier “Bard with Bagpipes”, sculpted by the great Andrew Chernak as part of one of the original Grenadier AD&D boxed sets.

Sadly, I don’t own the boxed set; but I picked this guy up loose on eBay a few years ago, since he was, up until then, a bagpiper miniature I did not own.

This guy has some bizarre fashion sense: a conquistador helmet, billowed sleeves, hose, toe shoes and some weird diaper-thing. I decided anyone who would dress like that would be looking for attention, so I painted him up as a troubadour in garish colors. A friend pointed out that his highland bagpipes have the traditional three drones and that his hand positioning on the chanter is pretty good–two things that are often sculpted incorrectly on bagpiper miniatures. Chernak did it right!

Only four more character classes to go until the end of the year (did that fly by or is it just me?): Monk, Wizard, Warlock and Paladin.

Apologies to all who have noticed my conspicuous absence from this site and from the blogoshere this month. Some family health problems have occupied my every waking thought lately; and I am way behind on hobby stuff. Still hoping to get something done for Dave’s Summer of Scenery by the end of the month, although it won’t be the AMT Deep Space Nine model as I originally planned. That turned out to be a bigger project than I anticipated.

I hope to be back in full form soon.

Swiping a system

Those Dark Places is a game the evokes the theme and mood of great classic sci-fi/horror movies like Alien, Outland, Event Horizon and Saturn 3. It’s got a simple system and easy game mechanics that don’t get in the way of roleplaying in an atmosphere of isolation and horror. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Those Dark Places is one of the best games I’ve played in the last decade; and the best part is it’s all contained in this one little book.

Characters have four attributes, Strength, Agility, Charisma and Education, each with a unique value of 1-4. In addition, they have both a primary and secondary job aboard the ship; things like Security or Helm Officer or Engineer, etc. You use a single six-sided die to resolve everything in the game, and you usually roll one die, add your relevant attribute score and add a bonus from your job (2 for primary, 1 for secondary) if applicable. If the total equals 7 or more, you succeed. If it ties, it’s a partial success. If it’s less, you fail.

So, let’s say your character is the ship’s engineer and you want to cut open an airlock door from outside the ship. You would roll a single die, add your education score (let’s say your education is 3), and another +2 from your primary position as engineer. If the total is more than seven, you succeed.

Ranged combat is very much the same. Roll a die, add your Agility and any bonus from the Security position, if applicable. The target to beat is a 6 for short range, a 7 for medium and an 8 for long, with an additional +1 added if the target elects to dodge, losing his next action but making it harder to be hit.

Hand-to-hand combat is an opposed roll, meaning both you and your opponent roll a die, add your strength, plus any relevant bonus from the Security Officer position. Compare results and whoever has the highest wins, doing damage to his or her opponent. In the event of a tie, nothing happens (they just feint and jab, grapple or block…whatever).

Then there’s pressure, a measure of how much stress you can take under duress. You make a pressure roll any time the game master thinks it’s appropriate. Roll a die, add your pressure bonus (the sum of your Strength + Education scores). If it’s more than 10, you pass; anything less and you get to increase your Pressure Level by 1. The higher your Pressure Level, the more likely you are to crack under the stress and suffer an Episode; anything from fatigue, to freezing, to all-out panic. Returning to the example above, let’s say you’re the engineer and you don’t just want to cut through the airlock from outside, you NEED to because your spacesuit is compromised and you’re leaking air like a punctured balloon. Time is of the essence. Sounds like a good time for a pressure roll before you roll to see if you succeed in your task.

Like I said, I like this game a lot, and a big reason is the system mechanics. It’s quick, easy and fun. Just what I needed for my 1970’s street crime RPG: The Hub.

I’ve wanted to run a 1970’s crime game like this for a while, ever since I came across the RPG Dog Town, by Cold Blooded Games. From the official description: Dog Town is a realistic role playing game set in a New York City ghetto in the mid to late 1970’s, think of films like “Donnie Brasco”, “Goodfella’s”, “Shaft” and “Carlito’s Way” and you’ll get the picture. It’s about attitude and swaggering machismo, about being a “bad ass” like gangsters portrayed on the big screen. There are no heroes trying to save the world from evil forces, just at best anti-heroes trying to profit from it. In Dog Town it is the people that are the animals and your own dark destructive motives, which you have to be careful of. Life often is short and brutal starting and ending in the gutter. That’s just the way it is.

Dog Town is a true labor of love by the game’s creators. You can see in every page how much they respect the source material. The core rulebook and its various supplements are a treasure trove of information about this time period and subject matter. The artwork is awesome and the production value is high. It’s really exceptional.

It’s also free on DriveThru RPG. All of it. Lately, I have a hair across my ass about DTRPG, and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to shop there. But like I said, it’s FREE, so DTRPG isn’t making money off them. Not that they’d want to anyway: this game definitely contains “potentially offensive content” and “acts of criminal perversion”, two things DTRPG says are against their selectively-enforced content rules. Better get over there now and grab it while you can, before someone gets offended and complains.

Unfortunately, Dog Town’s game mechanics are fucking incomprehensible to me, and I’m no dummy. They’re clunky, to say the least; and it requires a lot of math and chart referencing to resolve most actions. I’m not a fan of the rules; but once again, I can’t say enough good things about the setting and the work these guys put into it.

I knew I wanted to set my game in Boston, because it’s a city I’m familiar with and it has a long history of corruption and violence. I had several scenario ideas, I just needed a good game system. I briefly considered Fate, because I really like it; but Fate is definitely a “heroic” roleplaying game. Player characters have a high chance of success in almost everything they do, and they are able to perform feats and stunts that normal folks can’t. I don’t want that. I want gritty realism, not John Wick.

Those Dark Places has exactly what I need. Simple mechanics, deadly combat, fast resolution and the pressure mechanic all foster great roleplaying opportunities and fit exactly into the atmosphere I’m trying to create. Once I decided, it was easy to adapt.

Attributes remain the same. I just replaced the ship positions with criminal types; so instead of things like helm officer, engineer and medical officer, I have things like heavy, thief, grifter, etc. Each one of these gives primary and secondary bonuses as applicable. Pressure is the same; except you roll a pressure test for things like getting chased by the cops or getting threatened by a gang boss; or, you know, getting shot at. I went a step further and added some basic skills that give bonuses in specific circumstances, like “Manson Lamps”, which gives a +1 bonus to Charisma when trying to intimidate someone, or “Wicked Smart” which gives a +1 bonus to assess unfamiliar situations. Characters get to choose one skill.

I’m happy to say it has worked perfectly so far. My first playtest of the game was Sunday, and everyone seemed to have a good time. The players really embraced the setting and made some cool characters that would be at home in any 70’s crime movie. Combat worked exactly as I wanted and there weren’t any game-breaking flaws (yet). Both characters survived, too; which is always a plus!

I’m always looking for players; so if this setting intrigues you, let me know! Or check out all the other games I will get around to running eventually. You can find them here.

The Hub

Well, like many things this year, my plans for 2022 Gaming have largely failed so far. I haven’t run any of the stuff I said I was going to. There’s still time to run some of them (maybe); but I have decided I am definitely going to run a game of my own design next week, on Sunday, August 14th. I just need 3-5 players.

My game is called The Hub, and it is a street-crime roleplaying game set in the city of Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-1970’s. Boston in the 1970’s was a particularly deep cesspool of crime and corruption. The Winter Hill gang ran the underworld under Howie Winter, setting the stage for James “Whitey” Bulger to take over by the end of the decade and unleash hell on the streets of South Boston. The Boston Police, the FBI and the Department of Justice all shielded and protected Bulger, allowing him to benefit from his status as an informant while running a criminal empire of drugs, racketeering, extortion and murder.`

This is that city. Kinda. Rather, it’s a fictionalized Boston of the time. All the crime and corruption are there; but you won’t run into Whitey Bulger or any real-life people. What you will do is take on the role of a street-level criminal. If you like movies like Mean Streets, The Departed, Black Mass, Super Fly, Death Wish, Carlito’s Way and Taxi Driver; this could be right up your trash-strewn and rat-infested alley.

As far as content warnings go, take a look at that list of movies. That gives a pretty good idea what to expect in my game. There will be bad language. There will be drug use. There will be copious amounts of violence and gritty and realistic depictions of street life and organized crime. You will be playing a character who is not very nice, and you will be interacting with not-nice people.

What you won’t find are any racial slurs or depictions/descriptions of sexual violence. Everyone has a line, and that’s mine.

Combat will be realistic and dangerous, because when people get shot in real life, they tend to die. You won’t be able to go to sleep for 8 hours and wake up good as new. There are no saving throws here; and certainly no potions of healing. Your characters are not superheroes and there is the very real possibility of character death.

My goal with the game next week is to test out the system I’m using to see if it fits the theme. I assume the game will run about 3-4 hours or so, including character creation. (You can create your character in about 5 minutes.) It’s a straightforward scenario to see if I want to go further with it.

I said this on the gaming page, but it bears repeating here: Please note: I live in the Eastern United States, very close to Boston, where this game is set, which is the EST time zone. I don’t care where you live, but you need to keep that in mind as to when the games will be played. For example, California is 3 hours behind me, England is 5 hours ahead of me and Australia is 16!! So, if I start a four hour session on Sunday at noon my time, someone in California will start at 9 am; England at 5 pm, and most of Australia will be at 4 am on Monday! Once I have a group of players I will schedule a time that is best suited for the majority.

This game will be run on Discord, with a die-rolling app or site. It doesn’t require much.

I am also planning on running Slasher Flick on the 30th of October this year. I already have one player from Canada (assuming he’s still interested), but I’m always looking for more so drop me a line if interested in that or any of the other games I intended to run. Who knows? I might get to another one before the end of the year!

“He ain’t a hard man to track. He leaves dead men wherever he goes.”

Time for another entry in my Year of Pop Culture. The Outlaw Josey Wales is, of course, one of Clint Eastwood’s classic Westerns; one I have seen many times and one I return to often. It’s the story of a Confederate farmer whose family is murdered by Union troops, so he joins a militia to kill Northerners. Eventually, the militia is convinced to surrender. Josey refuses, of course, and his fellow militia men are all massacred after laying down their arms.

Josey becomes an outlaw; the target of bounty hunters and the duplicitous Union regiment known as the “Redlegs” that was responsible for the massacre of his men. He finds a woman, settles down on a ranch…but only for a little while. Eventually, the Redlegs arrive and lay siege to the ranch in a bloody climactic battle.

The Outlaw Josey Wales has some of the best lines in bad-ass movie history, from “You gonna pull those pistols, or just whistle Dixie?”, to the iconic “Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy.” It’s one of my favorite Westerns of all time, and if for some reason you haven’t seen it, you should.

Reaper does this “Jeb Lawson” miniature in their Chronoscope line, and it’s a pretty good likeness, almost as if they did that on purpose. It’s sculpted by James van Shaik.

Here’s my paint job.

And that’s one more for the Pop Culture theme of 2022.

I guess that’s a good thing, because I haven’t done shit on my Deep Space Nine model for the Season of Scenery yet…