Category Archives: Fantasy

“I AM THE GOD OF WAR! I WILL MAKE YOU SUFFER!”

God of War (2005)

The first God of War game was released in 2005 on the Playstation 2. I played it, and I’ve played every single God of War game ever since, including the latest, released in 2018, also entitled “God of War.

Here’s a summary of the whole series: you play as Kratos, a Spartan who is the son of Zeus. Ares kills Kratos’s family, so Kratos kills Ares (God of War, 2005). Along the way, and pretty much thereafter, Kratos kills EVERY FUCKING THING he sees. Every monster, mythical creature, hero and god in the Greek pantheon probably gets gutted by Kratos at some point over the course of the next five sequels and prequel (God of War II, III, Ghost of Sparta, Chains of Olympus, and Ascension). Kratos is an angry guy, and killing shit is what he do.

After slaughtering his way through Olympus, Kratos decides to grow a beard, hang up his Blades of Chaos (more on those below) and retire to a nice, quiet life as a mortal somewhere in Scandinavia (it’s not really clear where). Time passes. He marries a woman and has a son, Atreus. This all happens between the previous God of War game, and the latest one.

Of course, leaving Kratos alone would be the smartest thing anyone could possibly do. Naturally, that doesn’t happen. The Norse gods discover who he is and decide to fuck with him. And that’s the premise for the latest God of War game. Kratos and his son murder their way through the Norse realms on a quest to scatter his wife’s ashes in Jotunheim. Of course, there’s a lot of father-son drama along the way. Kratos has kept who he was, or is, from his son all his life; and as you might imagine, Kratos is a somewhat distant and severe parent. He’s way better at killing things than connecting meaningfully with his son.

Ever since the original God of War, I have wanted a Kratos miniature, and I guess the reason I don’t have one is that sculptors are wary of sailing too close to the wind to attempt a “not-Kratos” sculpt, as it’s an easily recognizable IP owned by Sony. While Kratos is hardly a “forgotten” hero in the literal sense, he definitely qualifies for Forgotten Heroes; to my knowledge, no “official” miniature exists. Thus I decided to make my own, but sculpting the Blades of Chaos is far beyond my pitiful skills.

via GIPHY

The Blades of Chaos are a pair of chained short swords made by Ares. Kratos whirls them around and things die. See above.

Sadly (yet lucky for me) in this latest incarnation, Kratos has traded in his Blades of Chaos for the Leviathan Axe. I say lucky, but this bummed me out a lot as a player, as for sheer violent delight you just can’t beat the Blades of Chaos. The Leviathan Axe is pretty “meh” by comparison. It’s kind of like playing a Wolverine game and not being able to use Wolverine’s claws; you get a baseball bat instead. Still, the absence of the Blades of Chaos made conversion a lot easier. I quickly found this guy in my pile of unpainted, unopened lead:

Goldar the Barbarian

That’s Reaper’s Goldar the Barbarian, sculpted by Matt Gubser. He’ll do.

I added a green stuff beard, which is pretty much all I needed to do prior to painting. In the latest game, Kratos runs around with the severed head of Mimir (Kratos severed it for him), which constantly gives you counsel and recites Norse legends and lore for your benefit in an inexplicably Scottish brogue. I used an old GW zombie head for Mimir (or, as Kratos calls him, “Head”), and sculpted his horns from more green stuff.

Here’s the result.

I thought I was pretty hot shit for coming up with this conversion and couldn’t understand why no one else had thought of it before. Of course, someone HAD. One quick trip to Cool Mini or Not and I saw that I was hardly as clever or original as I thought.

Anyway, here is the finished result of my efforts. You should be aware that Kratos’s tattoo is done as a mirror image; that is, in reality it’s actually on the left side of his body. However, since the miniature’s left side is pretty well covered by his shoulder armor and the straps that hold it up, I opted to paint it on his right side so it could be seen. No one cares, I know. (Except for the asshole who, twirling his mustache, waits for the perfect moment to spring out and tell me I got it wrong.)

I guess I’m ok with it. I mean. I like the miniature, but to me, Kratos just isn’t Kratos without the Blades of Chaos. (Spoiler alert: you eventually get the Blades of Chaos back in the latest God of War, and the developers must have known that you’d be missing them by that point. Because the next few minutes of the game, wherein you reacquaint yourself with how fucking awesome they are, is one of the most viscerally-satisfying moments of gaming I have personally experienced.)

This wraps up my Forgotten Heroes submissions for the month. Not sure what I’m going to do next, but I have no shortage of projects, and since our Covid numbers are going in the wrong fucking direction here in the US (although not in my state, thankfully), it looks like I’ll be home for the foreseeable future. I should be able to find something…

Diving Into D&D 5E: Lirhanir, Half-Elf Paladin

This pandemic has everyone social distancing (if you’re not, you should be), which means sitting around a gaming table has been a thing of the past lately. Ironically, it has contributed to me playing MORE games than usual, especially RPGs. As some of you may know, I have managed to run several legs of a Star Trek Adventures campaign this year over Discord, pretty much weekly. It went well, and the write-ups of the sessions start here, if anyone’s interested. I have yet to post the conclusion, but that’s coming soon. I’ve been busy with Monster May(hem), real life, and now Forgotten Heroes…but rest assured I haven’t forgotten about the crew of the U.S.S. Adventure.

That being said, tonight I get to play in a game rather than run it. We’ll be playing Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, which is new to me. The version I last played was 3.5, and that was years ago. (I skipped 4th Edition altogether, which most folks agree was a good thing.)

Anyway, by far, one of my favorite things to do in any RPG setting is create a character. I figured I’d document the creation of my first 5th Edition character here: Lirhanir. (I’m going to jump around a lot and not necessarily go in order, as it makes more narrative sense. Don’t worry…it’ll all make sense in the end.)

Class and Race: I decided I want to play a paladin, which is a class I have never found particularly interesting. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever played a paladin in all my years of roleplaying.) I’m not at all interested in playing a stereotypical “holy knight”; someone who fights with anyone who doesn’t adhere to the same code he does, even his own party members. That evangelical bullshit is depressing enough in the real world. Lucky for me, in 5th edition I don’t have to.

My Dungeon Master is setting the game in his own world, and he’s starting us out at level 3. Humans are the dominant race, and demihumans are relatively uncommon. I decided I want to be a half-elf, which in this setting is considered a second-class citizen almost everywhere. Elves consider them an abomination, and humans generally ignore or ostracize them.

So, being a half-elf and a paladin (plus some additional perks my DM has granted) gives Lirhanir familiarity with all weapons, armor and shield types, as well as proficiency in the following things: Athletics, Insight, Perception, Persuasion, Performance and Deception. Lirhanir can play the lute fairly well, although he’s no bard. He does this to make others happy, and chase away the darkness (see below). It also gives him a bunch of paladin abilities, none of which are really worth getting into here.

Background: In 5th Edition, you choose a background for your character which gives them proficiency in skills they would have learned during their upbringing. I don’t envision Lirhanir had much of an upbringing, so I chose urchin. Lirhanir grew up on the streets of a city, Riften, scrounging and surviving however he could. (This is in-line with being a member of a disadvantaged class.) It also gave him proficiency in Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Thieve’s Tools, and Disguise. Not exactly on the path to paladinhood from the start, but it sure explains why he is also skilled in Deception. It also confers the feature “City Secrets”, which gives Lirhanir an instinctive familiarity with all urban environments that allows him to move at twice the normal travel rate between two points in any city (he knows which alleys and rooftops to traverse to get from point A to point B fastest).

My DM has also made half-elves in his world “prodigies”, which gives him expertise in one skill, as well as another language. His languages are Common, Elvish, Goblinoid, and Sylvan (the language of fey creatures); not bad for a guy with average intelligence. I chose Insight to be the skill in which he has expert proficiency; growing up on the streets, you get a feel for people pretty quick.

Attributes: In 5th edition, you have the option to either roll dice or buy your attribute scores with points. We opted for point buy. My attribute scores (including racial bonuses) are as follows: Strength 16 (very strong), Dexterity 12 (above average), Constitution 12 (above average), Intelligence 10 (average), Wisdom 13 (above average), and Charisma 14 (significantly above average). This means Lirhanir will usually have attribute bonuses in addition to proficiency bonuses for most of his skills.

Oath: In 5th edition, paladins can take various oaths to better fit their concept. (The stereotypical paladin takes the Oath of Devotion, but he’s not that kind of paladin.) I chose the Oath of the Ancients instead, which essentially means Lirhanir reveres life and goodness and strives against darkness and evil. He holds good to be paramount, far more important than any concern of law or chaos. This gives him spell lists and abilities more in line with a traditional ranger or druid, not really a former street urchin; but…it’s going to work out. Trust me.

Equipment: Paladins start with chain mail armor and a shield, but neither one fits my character concept. Instead, Lirhanir wears a chain shirt under his tunic. It provides less protection than a full suit, but also doesn’t hamper his movement at all. To compensate somewhat for not using a shield, he specializes in a defensive style of fighting. He is adept at using a quarterstaff, but carries two short swords as his primary weapons. He also wears a hood most of the time to hide his half-elven heritage from the assholes of the world. Finally, he carries a smooth river rock; the holy symbol of his patron, a water spirit named Nauhrel. He only uses it when he is Turning the Faithless (be they fiends or fey creatures).

Almost done. I had to pick his personality traits, ideals, bonds and flaws. For Personality, I chose Speak when you have something to say. Speak up for others who cannot, or will not, speak for themselves. For an Ideal, I chose Always be of service. For a Bond, I chose I owe my survival to Odger Tucca, the Halfling who cared for me when I had nothing. For a flaw, I chose I am most afraid of being helpless. These traits pretty well sum up his values and outlook, and guide how I will roleplay him.

How did a street urchin become a champion of the light? Lirhanir was special from the start. As a street urchin, he did whatever he had to to survive; but he always managed to avoid hurting others in the process, at least others who didn’t deserve it. Despite enduring hunger, cold, neglect and abuse, he always sought to help those less fortunate than he. That made him a good person.

Once he stopped an unscrupulous alchemist from dumping his poisonous slurries into the city’s water supply, because he saw that it was making poor people sick (the rich lived upstream; their water wasn’t affected). In fact, it was also making a water spirit sick. This spirit, Nauhrel, was close to death, and would have died if not for Lirhanir’s actions. She became his patron, a spiritual force for goodness that recognized in Lirhanir a Champion of the Light.

Finally, Lirhanir is Chaotic Good, the alignment that best suits his outlook. Above all things, he tries to do the most good and thwart the most evil, but he’s not all that concerned about how he gets those things done. Laws are fine when they work. When they don’t, you don’t blindly follow them anyway. Lirhanir is not above lying or stealing, if it’s for the greater good (he won’t steal a coin purse to make a buck, but he would absolutely steal food if he needed it to help someone, and didn’t have the money). Again, about as far from a typical paladin as you can get.

Lirhanir looks more like a rogue than a paladin, which is exactly what he would have been if he wasn’t chosen by Nauhrel. I envision him as a D&D version of Daredevil (kinda): urban protector of the downtrodden, lightly armed, skills and methods used in service of the greater good. Guess we’ll see if he survives his first session, which starts in about 3 hours!

Monster May(hem) Straggler: The Dung Monster!

First: Thanks to everyone who took part in Monster May(hem), formerly called Monster Month, but now irrevocably changed, thanks to Roger. You guys are awesome, and there were many impressive and inspirational submissions. It’s my hope to continue this annually. I’ve hosted some challenges in the past, but this one seems to be the one that resonated best with people. In addition to my good buddies Roger (Dick Garrison) and Jeremy (Carrion Crow), I got to meet some new hobbyists, like Matt from PM Painting and Ken from Blue Moose Arts; as well as deepen my acquaintance with Dave from Wargames Terain Workshop, Harry from War Across the Ages, and returning participant Coyotepunc, who once converted a Toob tapir into a wizard (still love that). So, bring on Monster May(hem) 2021!

One of the great things about Zoom meetings where I don’t need to be on camera is that I can do whatever I want while “listening” to whatever drivel someone spouts off. This morning, I decided to paint one of the two monsters I didn’t get to by the end of the month (i.e. yesterday).

This is the “Dung Monster”, by Reaper. It’s their version of the Otyugh, a classic (if somewhat disgusting) Dungeons and Dragons monster. Otyughs live in filth, mostly trash and shit. This is what they usually eat, too (unless some tasty adventurers are doing a dump dive); so you can imagine the smell coming out of that massive cakehole must be pretty horrific.

This miniature came together quite by accident. I wasn’t planning on painting him for Monster May(hem)…in fact, I forgot I even had him. That’s because he was part of that same Craigslist lot that gave me the Marauder Giant I painted yesterday (2 posts in 2 days. BOOM.). I accidentally mixed too much Magic Sculpt while filling the gaps in the giant, so I had to use it lest it dry out (that shit’s not cheap). I rooted around in my insanity pile…kind of like an otyugh roots around in well, shit…and found him. I put him together and thought…”well, if there’s time this month…”

I decided there was time. This thing wasn’t gonna sit on my desk for another year, not when I had an interminably boring Zoom meeting to sit through. So I painted him.

This guy is actually a pretty old Reaper miniature, and he’s all metal, as his current price tag will attest ($12.99!) For those of you who want your own shit monster but don’t want to pay that much, you can find a different version in the Bones range for about 4 bucks. It also looks quite good, but different.

So, how did I achieve this particular shade of putrescence? I gave him a base coat of Vallejo Brown Violet (the violet part of which eludes me), then highlighted him with Army Painter Hemp Rope, followed by Army Painter Sulfide Ochre. Then, I gave it a final highlight of Citadel Zamesi Desert before washing the whole thing in Citadel Athonian Camoshade. Not bad for a couple of hours work, and certainly preferable to sitting through a Zoom meeting without painting anything.

I still have one monster on my desk that I didn’t get to last month. You can expect to see it soon, because like this ugly fellah here, that guy isn’t sitting on my desk for another year, either.

Fee Fie Fo Fum!

I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!

Not surprising, really, since I know of at least three Englishmen who frequent Dead Dick’s Tavern. Only too likely one of them would leave their spoor behind. Of course, I would never grind their bones to make bread. That’s just silly.

This is the classic Marauder/Citadel Giant, and he is my “Big ‘Un” for Monster May(hem) this year. This guy came out circa 1989 or so; and for decades he was “the” Warhammer giant; there wasn’t another until well after this one ceased production. I’m pretty sure he was sculpted by one or both of the Perry brothers, but I could be wrong. (Edit: I was wrong. A simple Google search turned up it was sculpted by Aly Morrison. Thanks to Matt and shame on me.) Whoever sculpted him did a great job. (It was Aly Morrison.) I’ve always loved this model. As an Orc and Goblin player back in the day, I always wanted one, but could never lay hands on it.

Then, a few years ago, I bought a miniatures lot off a guy on Craiglist who was getting out of the hobby (which was a pretty aggravating experience, but eventually turned out ok). This giant was in there, assembled and primed white (which I HATE). Back in 2018, when I first decided May was Monster Month (remember when it was called that?) , I put this guy on my desk to paint him. I decided to do my Orc Warlord on Wyvern instead, and there the giant sat until now. Every once in a while, when I squeezed out too much paint, I would dab some on him somewhere. He looked a mess, and I made no progress, always telling myself I’d get him done eventually.

Well, he’s done. Mostly.

About halfway through painting him this month, I noticed he’s incomplete. He’s missing two pieces: a keg which he has slung around his hip (where the rope meets in thie picture above), and a sword that attaches to his other hip. The guy included a huge bag o’bitz in the Craigslist purchase. Guess which two bitz were not there?

I guess it doesn’t look terrible without the keg. And who needs a sword when you can rip a tree out of the ground and swat someone with it? Anyway, I did what I could with him, and I’m pretty happy with the result. I’m most happy that he’s DONE, and I can remove him from my painting desk forthwith.

I know I just said it a few paragraphs ago, but I’ll say it again. I love this model. No computer sculpting or 3D printing here, and no resin or plastic to be found. This model is all metal, and reminds me of a time when transporting your army doubled as a biceps workout. Bring back those days…

Here’s a scale comparison to a Reaper Hill Giant (also all metal, though they make him in Bones now), and an Empire Greatsword. I know the current GW giant is even bigger, but I think this guy is just right.

And that brings Monster May(hem) to a close…or does it? It is currently 7:30 a.m. at Dead Dick’s Tavern. That means there’s still 16 hours or so left in May…and I have two unpainted monsters still sitting on my desk. Can I get one painted before midnight?

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Since last post, Matt painted yet another monster: the cloak fiend, and Dave sculpted and painted a Bantha for some Star Wars gaming! Plus, I forgot to mention Harry painted some unicorns and treekin over on his site, along with his High Elf dragon!

Next month is Forgotten Heroes over at Carrion Crow’s Buffet, and I can’t wait. But for now, there’s still time to paint some monsters!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Giant Scorpion

Monster May(hem) continues with my latest submission: a Giant Scorpion (and some smaller, yet still quite large scorpions). from Reaper. These Bones miniatures are define what an “impulse buy” is to me. I had no need for either the huge scorpion or its little brothers, yet I bought them to “pad” an order to get free shipping, as I recall. I’ve had these for a few years now. Since I’m finding any excuse NOT to work on the big monster I have vowed to paint by month’s end, I painted these guys instead.

The good news is that even though I don’t really have a use in mind, much like Rrrraaaaaang, this beastie can be quite versatile.

Kip Kincaid and Sarah Litmus are beginning to regret exploring Planet X…
Perhaps Lara should have done more research on why it’s called “The Temple of Stingy-Sting-Sting.”
The wizard said hunting for spell components was quick and easy work. The wizard lied.
Epitaph: “Clean Head” McGee. Never backed down from a fight.

Matt from PMPainting just completed an amazing-looking Cthulhu model for his third submission of the month, and Harry painted a Warhammer High Elf Dragon, after painting a Wood Elf Dragon just last month. Now I literally have no more excuses not to tackle my own big fellah…but I’ll probably find one before long.

Check out all the other participants in Monster May(hem). Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Happy Painting!

Beware the Owlbear!

The sounds of pursuit fill you with terror as you try to flee. You can hear the beast gaining on you. There’s no outrunning it! You look back in panic. The ground shakes and trees sway wildly as its enormous form crashes through the brush! It spies you, its prey…and it’s beak opens wide, giving forth a blood-curdling shriek of maddened rage:

“HOOOO! HOOOO!”

My second submission for Monster Month, a classic Dungeons and Dragons monster and one of my personal favorites: The Owlbear! The product of magical crossbreeding of an owl and a bear, this ill-tempered monstrosity attacks anything it sees on sight and fights to the death. It’s the bane of low-level adventuring parties everywhere!

This owlbear comes from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, which is a line I can’t say enough good things about. They’re inexpensive, digitally sculpted, and generally very good-looking, especially the monsters. I’m less jazzed about the personalities (character classes, etc.), but YMMV.

The miniature was easy to paint and practically highlighted itself. The texture of the feathers and fur takes washes and drybrushing quite easily. I think it took me about 2 hours or so, which is pretty fast for me.

I still have four projects I’d like to get to this month, but realistically it’s probably not going to happen…so I have to prioritize. There’s one big one I really want to complete because I’ve been staring at it forever!

Check out all the other participants in Monster Month. Visit their sites and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Happy Painting!

The Coming of…Rrrraaaaaang!!!!!

Beware! Despair! Rrrraaaaaang is upon us!!!  Rrrraaaaaang, Destroyer of Worlds! Rrrraaaaaang, Bringer of Doom! Rrrraaaaaang, Devourer of Civilizations! Rrrraaaaaang! Rrrraaaaaang! RRRRAAAAAANG!!!!!!!

A bit of background: when I was in college, I spent a fair amount of time in the Fine Arts building, as one of my best friends was an illustration major. One day, I noticed something odd affixed to a wall in the main lounge. It was an orange. Someone had drawn a mean face on the peel and stuck it on a hook. They put a small, open box below the orange. It contained several coins of varying denominations. This, proclaimed a nearby sign, was Rrrraaaaaang, and he was a fearful god. Only through donations could Rrrraaaaaang be appeased.

Well, Rrrraaaaaang remained on his hook throughout the entire school year, long past when he became a withered, hardened husk of an orange with a sunken, glaring face. I think the custodians must have had a sense of humor; either that or, like the art students, they feared Rrrraaaaaang’s wrath should his physical body be molested in any way. I think there may have been about $2.00 in coins in that box by the end of the year, which is pretty impressive, considering college students are notoriously poor, and many are not above stealing change to raid a vending machine. Even so, none dared to defile the offerings to Rrrraaaaaang and risk his displeasure.

Rrrraaaaaang did not return the next semester. He vanished into the ether, as gods often do. He offered no explanation to those of us he left behind. I firmly believe Rrrraaaaaang will return one day, to visit divine retribution upon us all.

Until that time, I bring you my version of the great and terrible Rrrraaaaaang. My Rrrraaaaaang is an early Reaper miniature, Conjunctivus, the eye beast. He is a versatile monster, able to bring death and destruction in a variety of game settings.

They said nothing could make the Galacteers and the Imperials put aside their hostilities…but both fear Rrrraaaaaang!
Foolish mortals! Now you face Rrrraaaaaang!
“By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, Wong! My wards have failed! Rrrraaaaaang is upon us!
On Planet X, Biff Banning and Sheila Starr unwittingly awaken…Rrrraaaaaang!!!!

This miniature has been awaiting completion for years. In fact, I began composing a Rrrraaaaaang post in April of 2018, and he already had a basecoat on him back then. I’m glad he’s finally done, and I hope I can get to some other long-incomplete projects before the end of Monster Month.

Check out all the other participants in Monster Month. Dave Stone converted an awesome Kroot beast for Warhammer 40K, then did an amazing paint job on an Oriental Dragon he sculpted himself! That’s two submissions, one more than me so far, and I’m the guy HOSTING the challenge! Way to go, Dave! Coyotepunc completed a Reaper Frost Giant and it looks great! Matt painted a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath named Tracy. (Really!) Carrion Crow plans on painting some miniatures sculpted by Dick Garrison himself, another participant! Visit everyone’s blog and see what they’re up to!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Back to the painting table!

May is Monster Month (Again)!

For the past couple of years I’ve been trying to establish a loose routine with regards to my painting: I take part in Forgotten Heroes every June, try to clean up the “side-pile” every December, and occasionally, I host a painting challenge like Dwarvember, WizarDecember, or TerrainTime. This year I’ve decided to open up Monster Month to the world!

The “rules”, such as they are, are quite simple. Paint at least one monster in the month of May. The miniature can be any scale or from any genre or game system. The only restriction is that it has to be a MONSTER, not a humanoid. So don’t paint an orc or a zombie. Set your sights higher!

So what qualifies as a monster? Pretty much anything non-humanoid from classic Dungeons and Dragons. Dragons, Giants, Elementals…you name it. Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures and Reaper Bones have put out a lot of these miniatures at ridiculously affordable prices.

You’re by no means restricted to Fantasy miniatures, though. Got some Call of Cthulhu or Pulp creatures? Or how about that Tyranid Carnifex or that nightmarish Malifaux monster you’ve been putting off? Maybe a giant super-villain like Fin Fang Foom or Titano. If it’s a monster, it’s fair game!

If you want to take part, just drop me a comment here or email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com. I’ll include your blog on the blogroll!

Happy painting!

Owen’s Miniatures: Part 2

Last time I lamented that two years ago, my friend Owen decided with finality that he was done with painting miniatures and gave me his sizable collection, amassed over the span of decades, to do with as I see fit. Up until now, all I have done is hold them in safekeeping for the last couple of years in the vain hope that he would leap headlong back into the hobby, eager and excited, his passion rekindled for all things paint and lead themed.

That has not happened.

So, I decided to start painting some of his unpainted lead, the hope being that my efforts will reignite in him that which lies dormant. Then, he will graciously thank me for keeping his miniatures and politely ask for their return, which I, of course, will expeditiously grant. Then we will rule the galaxy together as father and son (figuratively speaking, pardon the pun), gleefully painting miniatures until our fingers bleed.

That’s my hope, anyway.

Over the years, I have created many characters for role-playing games, many of which I have never actually played. I don’t consider that wasted time, as creating characters is by far my favorite part of gaming. I thought it would be fun to come up with some fluff for these guys, so while painting them up, I thought about a backstory for each one.

Karl Rost, master-at-arms, served Baron Graf of Zondergeld as military advisor, as his own father had served the Baron’s father before him. But this Baron was a fool. Baron Graf was obsessed with games, and to him, Karl Rost was merely another pawn to be used–or sacrificed. Thus when the Baron lost a wager to Duke Danius of neighboring Cyndar, a wager he could not cover, he paid his debt with Karl Rost. Baron Graf sent his master-at-arms to work like a common tradesman for a rival kingdom without a second thought, oblivious to the man’s true worth.

The term of Rost’s service was to be a year and one day, after which he would return to the service of Baron Graf. Humiliated and betrayed, Rost performed his assigned duties for Duke Danius as he was bound. With Rost’s guidance, the forces of Cyndar easily swept through the Baron’s defenses and subjugated Zondergeld within two months. The Baron was beheaded and his line ended; thus when Rost’s term of service was up, he had no place to return. He rejected Duke Danius’s offer of position and wealth in his new realm, and instead now wanders the land as a masterless adventurer and sellsword, making his way as he can.

Rost is Reaper’s Damian Helthorne, Bandit; sculpted by Tre Manor. I was aware of this miniature through my frequent browsing of Reaper’s site, but until Owen gave it to me (along with all his other miniatures) I had never seen it “in the flesh”, so to speak. It’s a terrific miniature (albeit a bit heavily-armed for a “bandit”), and I quickly fell in love with it. I think he’s a perfect representation of a lawless mercenary like Karl Rost. I’m not thrilled by my freehand shield design, but I’m also not motivated enough to fix it for what would be the third time, so this is what he’s stuck with.

The Red Wolf of Thord was born in that frozen wasteland as Lorm Einarsson, the youngest of four. Before he was twenty he had killed his three older brothers, none of them quickly, for motives unknown. Some say they bullied him as a youth, others claim he just didn’t like them very much. He usurped his eldest brother as cyng upon his death and took over his band of thegns, sailing with them southward into the fertile lands of Mornellorn and Evaleaux. There his cruel path of destruction, pillage and rapine quickly tore those kingdoms asunder. Centuries later, his name is still whispered to children to encourage compliance and good behavior, lest the Red Wolf appear.

In the frozen lands of Thord, there are only white wolves. During one of Einarsson’s prolonged “stays” in Evaleaux, he hunted and slew a huge red wolf that had been attacking cattle he had pillaged from nearby villages, splitting its head with his great axe, Skuffe. From that day on he wore its pelt as a cloak, and thus the legend of the “Red Wolf of Thord” was born.

Another Reaper Tre Manor sculpt, the Red Wolf is represented by the hirsute Olaf, Viking Chieftain. Unlike the previous model, I likely never would have purchased this guy. Not because the sculpt is bad (I don’t think Tre Manor is capable of bad sculpting), but because I hate double-bladed axes. I just think they look really stupid. Coming from a guy who loves dwarfs and has many dwarf miniatures, you can assume I have to deal with them more often than I would like, and you would be right. Typically, I remove one of the axe blades, and the model usually looks a lot better. But because of the way Olaf here is holding his axe, it wouldn’t look right if I modified it. (Besides, this is Owen’s miniature. I’m just working with what I have.) I should probably fix his eyes a little bit, as they look too wide.

I have made Owen aware of this post and the previous one, so hopefully my effrontery will work: he’ll demand all his miniatures back and start painting them again. (Fingers crossed.) If not, I will continue to do so myself in the hopes he will one day return to the dark side…

Owen’s Miniatures: Part 1

I first met my friend Owen when we were in college, almost 30 years ago (Christ, that’s depressing as hell.) We quickly found we had much in common. Some examples: we both had a brother with the same name. We both played role-playing games. We both worked at a (now) defunct electronics retailer, albeit at different stores (at first). We both took the same hellish philosophy class taught by a crazed Jesuit who was banned from practicing mass because…well, because he was batshit crazy, among other things. We had a mutual friend that neither of us knew about until the first time I joined Owen for a gaming session and found him at the table.

Most significantly, we discovered that we both collected and painted miniatures. Prior to meeting Owen, I didn’t know anyone else who was the slightest bit interested in miniatures at all. Neither of us played wargames; we collected and painted miniatures purely because of our interest in rpgs. We bought mostly Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures, as these were the ones commonly available at the time. We even bought them at the same store, but we didn’t know that until later.

I got into Warhammer in the mid-90’s, but Owen never did. Eventually, we both stopped painting for a while here and there over the years. I took a hiatus for about 5-6 years between 2002-2008, and I think he may have done the same, only sooner. I jumped right back into the hobby, whereas Owen never really did.

Two years ago or so, Owen gave me all his miniatures; hundreds of them, possibly more. Most of them are in various stages of paint; many complete, many primed or dabbed with color here and there, all stored in Plano tackle boxes. As I remembered, they’re mostly Ral Partha and Grenadier. In fact, I already own many of them already. But Owen’s miniatures also include many Reaper miniatures purchased in the early years of that company, as well as some impulse buys over time (as is any miniatures enthusiast’s wont). Owen told me he just doesn’t have the interest to paint them any more, and he would rather have the space than hold onto the lead. He knew I would give them a good home (and I have).

It broke my fucking heart.

This may surprise readers of this blog for several reasons. First, that I have a heart at all may come as a shock. Second, it may be surprising to some that I would be sad at the gift of so much lead. But both are true.

I offered to pay him for them. We have yet to discuss this in any meaningful way. This is because he’s not in a hurry to get paid, and also because I’m not in any hurry to pay him. In fact, I have been hoping very much that he would come to his senses and take them back. But that hasn’t happened.

I have a problem assigning value to any miniatures I have painted, as to me their value goes far beyond money. If I were to ever sell my miniatures (I can’t see how), I would likely overvalue them. Even though I may never again play the games they were designed for or use them for what was intended, the fact remains that I spent time, effort and money (obviously), on them; and I can’t easily part with them for those reasons.

I suspect many gamers feel the same way, although I know a significant number do not. (Our mutual friend, for example, had no problem painting and playing any number of Warhammer armies, only to sell them off at a significant loss whenever he got bored. He would then buy another army and repeat the process, only to eventually end up back where he started, with his original army that he needed to repurchase and repaint.)

Which is why, as I look at Owen’s miniatures, many of which he affixed to cardboard hexes that he lovingly cut out by hand (the better to fit on a combat map; unlike me, Owen actually USED his miniatures when he ran a game), I feel defeated. I want him to want his miniatures back. I want him to want to paint them again. I want him to be a miniatures nut like me, looking at painting tutorials online, geeking out over new releases, and planning and playing games. But it seems unlikely.

So, after a couple of years of ignoring his boxes, hoping he’ll ask for them back, I have decided to take a new strategy. I’m gonna start painting some of them. I don’t have the heart to strip his paint jobs and repaint any of his miniatures, but Owen was kind enough to supply me with some primed figures he never got around to. I’m hoping he will look at my work (on HIS miniatures) and get inspired.

Up next: the first two “Owen” miniatures, painted by yours truly.