Tag Archives: AD&D

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.

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!

Christmas is all about…ME.

‘Tis the season, and as usual, I have taken advantage of the holiday sales to buy a bunch of shit for me that I don’t need, but definitely want.

A couple of months ago I broke down and subscribed to Amazon Prime, mainly so I could watch The Boys (one of my favorite comics of all time). Of course, Amazon Prime comes with free shipping on anything I order from Amazon, so guess who has been busy? (Hint: it’s me.) Now, I know Amazon is like Wal-Mart…the deep discounts they offer are bad for the economy, and certain death for brick-and-mortar stores. And I do feel bad when I order something from Amazon, and it arrives at my door at 9 pm the next night, because I don’t NEED anything that badly, and delivery drivers shouldn’t have to deliver dumb shit to my house at 9 pm in the freezing cold when they could be home instead.

I get it. I know Amazon is a bad company to work for. Yet I’m weak. I can’t say no to those sweet price cuts. For some reason, I can’t ignore Amazon the same way I refuse to deal with other asshole companies like Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby (fuck those guys). The discounts are SO big…Right now, as I write this post, the Modiphius Original Series Away Team that I painted last month is on sale for $18.96. That’s a little over ONE THIRD the retail price (which, at $52.00, is fucking stupidly expensive, but still…) Less than $20 for 10 miniatures is a pretty good deal, I would say.

So, between Amazon and other vendors, I’ve racked up quite the grocery bill, and it’s not even Christmas. Here’s how to spend money irresponsibly on yourself before the holidays, so that whatever Santa brings you (or doesn’t), you won’t be disappointed.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Amazon): I picked up this bundle for $82, which is 48% of what it retails for ($170). I get all the core rulebooks: (Player’s Handbook, DMG, Monster Manual) and a DM screen; all in a handsome slipcase. Why would I buy this when I’m already all-in on 3 out of 4 editions of Dungeons and Dragons (I skipped 4th, and assumed I was stopping at 3.5)? First: because it seems that’s all anyone plays around me, and I want desperately to get into a game; second: it’s supposedly a good system, and finally: because I got all the core books at 52% off.

Red Markets (Indie Press Revolution): I bought this PDF (after I bought the get started kit at DrivethruRPG) after hearing some pretty amazing things about this game. I listened to a bunch of actual play podcasts (which were alternately interesting and irritating; there’s always at least one annoying asshole in every gaming group, sometimes more) and an interview with the game’s creator, and I’m hooked. I wanna play. I’m an old-school kinda guy; I don’t like reading PDFs. I’d rather have a book in my hand. Red Markets is almost 500 pages of full-color awesomeness, so if I tried to print it out it would suck my printer dry and probably look like shit. Lucky for me, Indie Press Revolution printed it for me, and I got the PDF version as part of the package, too. I’m happy to say their printed book is very high-quality and durable; much better than if I had tried to do it myself. It’s a thing of beauty.

Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (Amazon): I got this new hardcover edition of the rules at 30% off. I’ve heard good things about Savage Worlds, but I’ve never played it. The discount (and some whisky, TBH) was enough to push me, in a weak moment, to buy it. I haven’t looked at it yet (too much Star Trek and Red Markets on the brain).

Wreck Age (eBay): I collect rules sets (which explains why I own a copy of Spinespur). This post-apocalyptic skirmish game was well-reviewed, and even had its own line of miniatures. This was a cheap purchase, so I guess that justifies it.

Note this doesn’t include my purchases from Troll and Toad (individual Star Trek Heroclix) and from Etsy shops (3D Printed Terrain).

Am I done? Maybe…I have my eye on a few other things. I want the latest version of Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition), and Delta Green, which I have heard great things about. And I have my eye on yet more Modiphius Trek miniatures: the Next Generation Away Team set, which, sadly, never seems to drop below $30. (Once it does, it’s fair game.)

A Hound, A Mound, and a…uh… a Carrion Crawler

Monster month was a bit underwhelming this year. The first half of the month was taken up with work problems that, to put it bluntly, fucked up my hobby focus.  After that, I took a much-needed week off, during which you would think I would double down on my painting. However, when I paint, my mind wanders, tending to fixate upon things that vex me (like work). So instead, I played Spider-Man on PS4, which allowed me to “check out”, and not think of anything not related to being Spider-Man for a few hours every day.

Nevertheless, I managed to paint a few more monsters to finish out the month. I’m considering making this an annual event over here at Dead Dick’s Tavern, and perhaps soliciting participation from other hobbyists, much like the imminent Forgotten Heroes challenge hosted by Carrion Crow, starting in just a few days!

First: a Reaper Bones Hell Hound. In AD&D, Hell Hounds are the dogs from the plane of the Nine Hells. They’re emaciated, rust-brown dogs that breathe fire, and they’re often summoned by sorcerers with less-than-good intentions. (This miniature was an impulse buy; I saw him and realized I didn’t own any Hell Hound miniatures.) My first cursory look at the unpainted miniature made me think his back was on fire, but upon closer inspection it’s fur and spines, not flames. I painted him mostly in Vallejo Red Black and Reaper Rusty Red. Not much else to say about him except I’m not thrilled with his base. Oh, well…

Next, this big fellow is a Shambling Mound, from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures. You get a pretty hefty chunk of plastic for his $4.99 price tag; a real bargain! You can get a sense of his scale compared to the human-sized skeleton in the foreground.

From the AD&D 3.5 SRD: Shambling mounds, also called shamblers, appear to be heaps of rotting vegetation. They are actually intelligent, carnivorous plants. A shambler’s body has an 8-foot girth and is about 6 feet tall when the creature stands erect. It weighs about 3,800 pounds. This miniature is scaled much bigger than it’s description would indicate. Despite its AD&D origins, I will most likely get more use out of the Shambling Mound as a minion for either Plant Man or Poison Ivy. I’m pretty happy with how he turned out. I basically used a ton of green and brown paints and washes before finally highlighting with some yellow wash.

And finally, another classic AD&D monster: the Carrion Crawler. From the Forgotten Realms Wiki: carrion crawler was a burrowing aberration that scavenged the dead and occasionally preyed on living creatures.  Carrion crawlers were large, pale yellow, and greenish aberrations whose appearance was akin to a three- to four-foot-long centipede. Crawlers possessed eight long tentacles protruding from the sides of their heads, allowing them to stun prey.

This is another Nolzur’s miniature that I bought specifically for Monster Month. I based the carapace in Coat D’Arms Goblin Green, then highlighted up to Vallejo Green Sky, washing him with Citadel’s Agrax Earthshade. His underbelly was based in Army Painter Necrotic Flesh, washed with Citadel Seraphim Sepia, then highlighted with Reaper’s Moldy Skin. The base was given a layer of Citadel’s Stirland Mud for texture.

Here’s a picture of him with a 28mm Privateer Press Cygnar guardsman for scale. Once again, Nolzur’s doesn’t seem too bound by the descriptions of these monsters, as, much like the Shambling Mound, this particular Carrion Crawler is a lot bigger than the standard size given in the description.

That about does it for Monster Month this year, although I may have a few stragglers still to come. Next month is Forgotten Heroes, over at Carrion Crow’s Buffet. This will be my third year participating and I’m very happy to take part!

Insanity Pile Progress:

Miniatures Purchased: 58

Miniatures Painted: 120

Total: +62

Behold! The Eye-Beast!

May is Monster Month, and I’m getting a bit of a late start because I’ve had a hellish few weeks at work. (I had to finish painting some more cowboys, too.)

But enough about that. I bring you…the hideous BEHO-uh…the EYE BEAST!

Ah, who am I kidding? Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Dungeons and Dragons can identify this handsome fellow as a beholder, no matter what Reaper calls him. (At least I assume it’s a him. I don’t claim to understand the gender identity of beholders.)

From Wikipedia: The beholder is a fictional monster in the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Its appearance is that of a floating orb of flesh with a large mouth, single central eye, and many smaller eyestalks on top with powerful magical abilities.

I was going to paint him last May, but I didn’t get around to it in time. After priming him black, I added a layer of Vallejo Red-Black, followed by highlights of Privateer Press’s Skorne Red and Citadel’s Wild Rider Red before applying a glaze of Citadel’s Bloodletter. The eyes were undercoated in Reaper Vampiric Skin, with various colors for the irises.

The focal point of the model is its mouth and big, pointy teeth. The mouth was painted with Citadel Daemonette Hide and highlighted with Bugman’s Glow, then a final highlight of bright pink. The teeth were undercoated with Citadel’s Steel Legion Drab before getting the full Reaper Ivory triad treatment. The main eye’s iris was done with yellow ink. I’m not really thrilled with how it turned out; I feel like something’s missing.

I gave the teeth, mouth and eyeballs a coat of gloss varnish to look wet, and that’s about it.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 58

Miniatures Painted: 117

Total: +59

Classic Dragon Lords Dwarfs

In keeping with my 2019 Resolutions, I recently painted more old school miniatures! This time, it’s a classic Grenadier Dragon Lords boxed set: Dwarves of the Gold Mountain.

As anyone even casually familiar with me or this blog knows, I have a disturbing obsession with all things dwarfish. These stocky fellows were sculpted by Nick Lund, venerable artisan and famed sculptor of Dwarvenkind. Mr. Lund is my second favorite sculpteur des nains (Bob Olley is number one, IMO), so I was happy to finally paint up this set.

These fellows have uninspired names, i.e. “dwarf with spear, dwarf with warhammer”, etc. Unfortunately for me, my “dwarf with mace” is an annoying miscast, so without him, this is only a 9 dwarf set. Bummer.

These Dragon Lords sets came out during the later Grenadier heyday, so they’re not quite as old as the “Gold Line” boxes I love so much. I think one of those is next in my “old-school” painting queue. I just need to decide which one…

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 53

Miniatures Painted: 109

Total: +56

Monster Month Holdouts: Displacer Beasts and Classic Balrog

There’s always a someone who’s late for the train. My orc warlord on wyvern took a bit longer than I anticipated, so these miniatures weren’t done in time to make it into Monster Month.

First up, some iconic AD&D monsters: Displacer Beasts!

(Every time I speak the name of this monster out loud, I say it as Sylvester the Cat would. It makes it much more fun. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.)

 

A Displacer Beast resembles a six-legged, emaciated puma with two toothy tentacles sprouting from its back. They are stealthy carnivores that often hunt in pairs, which is why I bought two. Displacer Beasts are surrounded by a light-bending camouflage effect, which makes it difficult to determine the monster’s exact location at any given time (like when you’re about to get eaten).  These Displacer Beasts are from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, and although they’re technically the same miniature, it’s easy to get some variation in the tentacles and tail simply by doing the old “hot water bath/reposition/cold water bath” method. (I’m not sure what’s up with the lighting in these pictures, but the focus is a tad blurry. Same thing happened last time. I need to investigate this further.)

In the video game Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, you get attacked by a ton of Displacer Beasts in an ice cave. I guess that’s why I based these on snowy bases. I used Citadel’s Mourn Mountain Snow, a texture paint kind of like Stirland Mud. I like Stirland Mud a lot, because it looks like mud. Unfortunately, Mourn Mountain Snow doesn’t look like snow, it looks like white mud; so I also added some snowy flock and tundra tufts to the bases.

The other latecomer is a classic Grenadier Balrog. This miniature came out in the late 1970’s. I once painted him with the dreaded Testor’s gloss enamel, but I stripped the miniature years ago to repaint him. I finally did! There have been several variations of this figure over the years; one has a wavy sword rather than the flaming sword mine has. I think this miniature holds up quite well, considering its age.

It does seem a bit small for a Balrog, as you can see from the picture above.  If you say the word “Balrog” most fantasy fans have an image in their heads that roughly corresponds to this one, i.e. the Balrog of Moria, “Durin’s Bane”. But Tolkien is often vague, even contradictory at times when describing what a Balrog actually looks like. At times he describes them as gigantic; other times he says they are twice the size of a man. Whether they have actual wings or not is apparently up for debate among Tolkien-philes. Whatever the case, looking at the mniature now, it’s a bit too red. I probably should have painted either his body or wings black for some variation. The hair on the Balrog’s body was drybrushed with a Vallejo Cavalry Brown, but it looks close enough to red so that the effect is somewhat lost.

It looks a hell of a lot better than it did when coated in Testor’s gloss enamel, and it can certainly do a fair job of representing a greater demon, nonetheless. I made the lava base out of pieces of irregular craft foam scraps I had from my Gaslands projects a few months back. I’m somewhat ambivalent about how it came out and I’ve since found a much better method for making lava bases that I’m keen to try soon.

That’s REALLY it for Monster Month. Up next: a return to Forgotten Heroes!

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 10

Miniatures Purchased: 0

Total: +10

 

Griffon and Land Shark

My latest two “monster month” projects have arrived! Presenting: the Griffon and the Bulette (Land Shark).

(Astute observers may notice that the model in the middle of these two monsters has changed since the last post. That’s because I couldn’t seem to find that human fighter who found himself between an Umber Hulk and a Purple Worm, and then between a hungry Troll and a Basilisk. Perhaps his luck finally ran out…)

The Bulette, also known as a land shark, is a terrifying predator that lives only to eat (much like a regular shark). It burrows beneath the ground and bursts to the surface whenever it detects the vibrations of movement. A bulette has a territory of about 30 square miles, and will attack anything it comes across, completely consuming its prey (clothing, armor, weapons, etc.). When it has eaten everything in its territory, it will move on to another area.

Bulettes are not usually smart; however there is a famous case of one land shark ringing the doorbells of unsuspecting victims, fooling them into opening the door by pretending to have a delivery of something (flowers, candy, etc.). Once the victim opened the door, the land shark would strike!

This bulette is a Reaper Bones “land shark” (appropriate, no?).

A griffon, as everyone knows, is a majestic beast with the body of a lion and the head, wings and front legs of a great eagle. Griffons are fierce predators and enjoy eating horses most of all. Griffons are semi-intelligent and are much prized as mounts for heroic characters, as they are capable of being trained by those with enough daring and skill.

This griffon is yet another of Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures.  I used the hot water/cold water bath method to reshape its wings somewhat, but that’s about it. In all my years of painting, I have never painted a griffon before. I really like this miniature (score another for Nolzur’s); therefore I have named him Merv.

You see what I did there?

 

 

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 6

Miniatures Purchased: 0

Total: +6