Category Archives: Pulp

Monster May(hem) 2024: Wampas!

Or is it Wampi? Wampae? Who cares.

I figured Monster May(hem) is as good a time as any to return to my Imperial Assault project, which, like many of my projects, I seem to have forgotten about for a while. To be honest, I’ve been playing a lot of Star Wars video games lately (Jedi: Fallen Order and Jedi:Survivor), so I have the galaxy far, far away on the brain. Time to paint another boxed set, and I chose Return to Hoth, because t contains Wampas.

Sadly, these two Wampas are the only two “monsters’ in the box, so the rest will have to wait for some paint for a bit.

Now, I could have chose to paint the Jabba’s Realm box instead, as it contains the Rancor, but I couldn’t bring myself to paint the sets out of order. Because I’m sick like that.

Anyway, 11 days in, and this is all I’ve painted so far. In that time, Dave Stone has already painted a Balrog and a frikkin’ Mumakil, and both look amazing, as per usual for Dave. Check out everyone else’s blog/IG account and lend them your support!

This year’s participants are:

And these folks from Instagram:

I have at least two more entries planned, one being a Games Workshop miniature I didn’t realize I owned, and another a miniature I sought out on the secondary market purely for its name. Stay tuned!

Let the May(hem) Commence!

It’s May 1st, which makes it officially Monster May(hem)!!! Gentlefolk, paint your monsters!

Griffon, from the first ever Monster May(hem), 2018

This year’s participants, as of today, May 1st (or as you Brits would incorrectly say, 1st May) are as follows:

Also, some friends from Instagram have returned for another year:

And, for joining MM for the first time, some Instagram friends who previously participated in Forgotten Heroes:

Don’t see your name here? That’s because you haven’t told me you want to participate this year. It’s certainly not too late (it never really is), so if you want in, let me know in the comments below, drop me an an email at angrypiper@angrypiper.com, or PM me on Instagram @angrypiper. I will add your name and website/IG account (if applicable) to the blogroll forthwith! If you don’t have either of those and still want to take part, no problem! I’ll host your images here on this very site.

My Discord server has been a bit barren lately since I stopped running RPGs, but I plan on making every effort to be in The Paint Pit this month while I work on my monsters. That’s usually between the hours of 5:30-7:30 PM (EST) on weekdays here in the States, and anytime I can get to myself on the weekends when I don’t have errands to run or surprise plans or projects that aren’t my projects suddenly becoming my projects (IYKYK). Can’t promise I’ll be there every day, but if I’m not, feel free to hang out and meet some of the other participants, if so inclined. Don’t have an invitation to my Discord server and want one? Read this first, and then contact me.

Now what the hell are you waiting for? Go paint some monsters! There’s only 30 .5 days left (less if you’re in Europe)!

Lo! Monster May(hem) 2024 Doth Approach!

Venom Troll from Monster May(hem) 2022

It’s only a few more days to the start of my sixth annual Monster May(hem) Painting Challenge! Do you have your monsters picked out yet?

Does the Alien Queen count as a monster? You bet!

What is Monster May(hem)? Why, it’s the month you paint monsters, of course. Any monster will do, although it should be a proper MONSTER, something big and mean. I mean something truly beastly; like a cockatrice or a byakhee or a giant, mutated zombie bear. Your monster(s) doesn’t have to be strictly a fantasy miniature, and it may be any scale and from any manufacturer. I will link to your stuff throughout the month, and (if it’s not there already) add your blog/website/social media to the blogroll on the side! If you don’t have a site of your own and still want to participate, I’ll happily host your pictures here and ensure you get proper attribution!

How many monsters you paint is up to you. The minimum is one, of course; but feel free to do as many as you like. The only caveat is that they get painted sometime in May.

Blacksting the Wyvern, from Monster May(hem) 2021

But wait! There’s more! 2024 is also the Year of the Dragon, and in celebration of my nonexistent Chinese heritage I am hosting yet ANOTHER painting challenge all year long. You guessed it! It involves painting at least one dragon over the course of the year. Dragons are monsters, so if you paint a dragon miniature in May, it counts for BOTH challenges!!

So, who is down for some Monster May(hem)???

Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure

I picked up this board game not too long ago, and I decided to paint the miniatures as part of my “Paint 100 Miniatures You Already Own Before Buying Anything New” challenge to myself. As of my last post, I had only painted two miniatures so far this year. Pretty dismal output, but hopefully that’s on the upswing.

As you can see, these miniatures aren’t too bad. They’re about 40mm or so, but don’t quote me on that as I didn’t actually measure them. The game is based on the first (and best) Indiana Jones movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can play as Indy, Marion, Sallah, or Marcus Brody (who else were they gonna choose, Jock?).

Here are my painted versions.

I’m mostly happy with them, except I might need to tidy up Indy’s raccoon eyes a bit. The astute among you may notice this game (which I haven’t played) comes with some kind of apparatus for tipping the hourglass, which presumably contains the eponymous Sands of Adventure. I plan on painting this too, maybe as part of the Season of Scenery.

But wait! There’s more! Not one to miss an opportunity, I decided that while I was painting these, I could paint their smaller counterparts, i.e., these old Indiana Jones TSR Miniatures from 1985. After all, I was using the right colors already…

As you can see, most of these miniatures suck. They’re also made of that shitty metal TSR used in their miniatures line. I have railed about this shitty metal before, that it’s prone to metal rot and seemingly defies paint. The miniatures I have are actually rot-free (so far), so I wasted no time in priming and rebasing them.

Anyone else notice Indy can tie his shoes without bending over? Look at the arms on him!

The boxed set contains miniatures from the first two movies. I decided to paint the Raiders miniatures first. I’ll get to Temple of Doom soon. The first three were conveniently also part of the Sands of Adventure game, so I painted them right alongside each other.

Some folks will never have their face melted off for gazing upon the true face of God, and then there’s these three: L-R: Colonel Deitrich, Belloq and Toht. I lost count of how many times I re-primed and painted Toht’s hat brim. Damn thing just didn’t want to accept paint at all.

This little project brought my total painted miniatures this year from 2 to 12 (so far). Still not a great output, but I’m on my way. In other news, I’m also challenging myself to “Read 100 Books You Own Before You Buy Any New Books”. I’m on book 22 so far, and I’m reading stuff that’s been on my to-be-read shelf for years (in some cases, decades), so I seem to be doing better at that.

The Adventures of Indiana Jones RPG; or, I’ve Officially Lost My Mind.

Folks haven’t seen hide nor hair of me around here (or anywhere else on the Internet) for almost three months. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been busy painting miniatures, specifically a dragon or two, but I can’t say that, because I have painted a total of four miniatures this year, and none are dragons. Instead, I have been mostly playing Red Dead Redemption 2 (at last), and writing scenarios for RPGs I will likely never run or play. Case in point: The Adventures of Indiana Jones; published by TSR in 1984, which is when I bought it at the tender age of 11.

The TSR Indiana Jones RPG has a bit of a reputation, and it’s for being a piece of dogshit. I find that assessment a tad harsh, but it is not a good game by any means. It’s got some serious problems, most infamously the lack of a character creation system. Players take on the roles of Indiana Jones and his friends. Since the game was published shortly after the second Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy’s friends are made up of his companions in the first two movies (sadly, no Henry Jones, Sr.). Marion Ravenwood and Sallah from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Willie Scott and Short Round from Temple of Doom. I guess TSR thought five characters wasn’t enough, so they also included statistics for Jock Lindsey, the pilot from the beginning of Raiders (“There’s a big snake in the plane, Jock!”) and Wu Han, the waiter from Club Obi-Wan who gets shot amidst a cacophony of champagne corks almost immediately in Temple of Doom. Both these characters have maybe three lines of dialogue and less than two minutes of screen time in their respective films, but either one of them is preferable to playing the insufferable Willie Scott.

Herein lies the problem. The question rapidly presents itself: who wants to play a game about Indiana Jones and not play as Indiana Jones? What person is going to want to devote an evening of roleplaying to playing Willie Scott? Not too many people, judging by the dismal sales of the game at a time when both TSR’s boxed games and the Indiana Jones IP were both extremely popular. There was even a TV commercial about them.

The game had a few published adventures, but two of them were just the first two movies adapted as RPG adventures. (How fun!) The game was designed with miniatures in mind, and both the core box and all the published adventures had cardboard, trifold miniatures of characters, NPCs, and even scenery. There was one box set of metal miniatures released as well, and they’re pretty hard to come by (I have them).

So what are the other problems? Well, in addition to no character creation, there’s no character development, either. Indiana Jones and friends will always have the same statistics and know the same languages and skills no matter how many adventures you play. Skills are pretty basic, yet there are skills in the book that no player character has. There’s no mechanic to learn a new skill or language, or use one you don’t have (unless you roll a Lucky Break, which is a 5% chance of success).

The boxed set contains a rulebook, a character dossier booklet (the cover of which doubles as a battle map for miniatures), and a GM screen. You can get away without using the battle map or the miniatures (we never did), but you need everything else to play the game. Several important tables only appear on the GM screen and are not printed in the core rulebook (who knows why?). This means, of course, that if you’re looking for this game on the secondary market, it will be unplayable unless you have a complete game. No getting away with just the rulebook.

So what’s GOOD about it? Well, not much. I recall running it a few times, but with only one player (who played Indy, of course).The introductory adventure is meh and somewhat problematic (it takes place in Africa and features a villain named Solomon Black who is, of course, Black; as well as some questionable depictions of tribesmen), but it does a good job of teaching the rules. It’s designed for one player and one GM and is presented in chapters throughout the rulebook, each one focusing on the preceding relevant rules section. There’s also a pretty interesting chase mechanic in the game that uses a chase flow chart to simulate random twists, turns, dead-ends and hazards. I don’t think we ever used it, but I’d give it a go now, maybe even for use in another game. That’s about it.

TSR lost the license to this game fairly quickly and the game didn’t last long. Nothing was released after 1985, and I don’t think it was ever supported in Dragon magazine. No (legal) PDF exists, and the game isn’t available for download at any of the usual sites. It’s a dead game–until now. Last week I dug out my boxed set and had a look through it. I even found one of the old adventures I wrote as a teenager (Indy goes looking for an old Spanish galleon). Then I got inspired, and for the past week and a half, I’ve been writing a NEW Indiana Jones adventure for use with this game.

To be clear: no one I know (besides me) still owns this game. No one I know (besides me) is producing any content for it. No one I know (besides me) likes anything about it, if they know anything about it at all. And finally, no one I know (besides me) actually wants to play it ever again. No one is asking for this. And yet I’m still working on it, and loving every minute of it.

There’s one word for that: crazy.

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Two Years Later: A Super Mission Force AAR

The Crimson Hound followed the directions of the Gingerbread Man, arriving at a seemingly-deserted warehouse in the late hours of Christmas Eve. Conveniently for the Crimson Hound, it was located on a bus route, and as luck would have it, the warehouse stored gargoyles for eventual placement atop the corners of Glumengrad buildings. The Crimson Hound perched atop one, silently watching events unfold below.

Someone had cleared most of the warehouse floor and drawn a huge pentagram in red. You didn’t need to be a vampire to recognize the red as blood, but the Crimson Hound was, in fact, a vampire; and he recognized it immediately as blood. The Crimson Hound knew that entagrams drawn on the floor in blood rarely indicated good times ahead. These idiots had no idea what they were doing. The last time Santa summoned Savirax the Unclean, the blasphemous monstrosity almost destroyed the world.

As if on cue, a group of five chanting figures approached the pentagram from the shadows on each side. The group on the left wore purple robes, while the group on the right were dressed in green hoods. The chanting faltered as they saw each other, then stopped altogether.

“What the hell, Bob?” asked one of the purple-clad cultists. “What the fuck are you guys wearing?”

“I thought it was green hoods and grey boiler suits tonight!” one of the green-hooded cultists–probably Bob–exclaimed. “What are YOU wearing?”

“Dude, do you ever check your email? I sent it to you last week! It’s supposed to be purple tonight!” The purple-robed cultist seemed genuinely irate.

“Never got it,” said Bob, reaching for his cell phone.

“Oh, bullshit, Bob!”

“Look!” said Bob, holding up his phone. “Oh, wait…I did get it. It went in my spam folder.”

These guys are fucking idiots, thought the Crimson Hound. Apparently, someone else did, too. “Who gives a shit what you’re wearing?!” came a booming voice from the shadows. “You’re all going to die tonight anyway! Take your places, morons!” With some bitter mumbling and grumbling, the two groups assembled around the pentagram. The group of five green-hooded cultists stood in the center, while a purple-robed cultist took up a position at each point of the star.

What looked like a tall, anthropomorphic rabbit stepped into the light. “Once the Gingerbread Man arrives, we’ll be ready to begin.”

Seemed like as good a time as any. The Crimson Hound dropped from his gargoyle perch. “He’s not going to make it tonight,” said the Crimson Hound, taking a moment to wipe some telltale golden-brown crumbs from around his mouth.

“IT’S…THE CRIMSON HOUND!!!” cried the Easter Bunny, who the Crimson Hound realized was not an actual bunny, just some guy in a dirty rabbit costume.

“Yep,” said the Crimson Hound.

“Aww, man,” said one of the cultists. “I knew we shouldn’t have set up shop in a gargoyle warehouse!. It’s like we were begging for this to happen.”

“That’s right, you ignorant poltroon!” said the Easter Bunny. ” We KNEW he’d show up!” The Easter Bunny turned to the Crimson Hound. “You fell right into our trap! You think you can just get away with killing Santa Claus? Think again, asshole!”

“Let me guess,” said the Crimson Hound. “You were friends?”

“No!” sputtered the Easter Bunny, angrily hopping from foot to foot. “Santa was a fucking prick! But if you think we’re gonna let you set a precedent–“

“We?” asked the Crimson Hound. “Who’s we? You mean these clowns? Do you now how many henchmen I kill in a given week?”

“No, not these imbeciles,” The Easter Bunny laughed.The henchmen were feeling pretty despondent at all these insults, but no one could see their crestfallen looks under their hoods. “I brought other friends, you jerk.” The Easter Bunny gestured to his right, where a massive form lumbered out of the darkness. It was big and orange and carried a rusty scythe in its hands. “Behold the avatar of Halloween, Crimson Hound: The Great Pumpkin!”

“Hello,” said the Great Pumpkin, nodding his massive jack o’ lantern head in greeting.

“‘Hi,” said The Crimson Hound.

“And here,” the Easter Bunny pointed to his left, “representing…um…St. Patrick’s Day is…uh… Finnegan Feeney!” A man stepped out of the shadows. His face was red with burst capillaries and he wore a tam o’ shanter atop his curly grey hair. He held a long, churchwarden pipe in his hand, from which issued a plume of white smoke.

“Jaysis, ’tis himself,” said Finnegan Feeney. “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya, boyo!”

“You gotta be kidding me,” said the Crimson Hound. “Who the actual fuck is this?”

The Easter Bunny looked embarrassed. “Look…Cupid isn’t returning my calls, so no Valentine’s Day avatar. I tried St. Patrick, but he reminded me what you did to St. Nicholas, and said, and I quote, ‘no fucking way’. So, I tried to find a leprechaun, but it turns out they don’t exist. I had to make do with this ridiculously offensive ethnic stereotype. Anyway, I don’t need to explain myself to you, you asshole! Fuck off!”

Finnegan Feeney removed a flask from his breast pocket, because of course he did, and took a swig. “Blimey and begorrah! Let me at him! I’ll fong ya in the arse, laddie-buck!” Finnegan Feeney dropped his flask and his pipe and rolled up his sleeves to his elbows and assumed a fighting stance. “Let’s get this donnybrook started, sunny Jim!”

The Crimson Hound would have rubbed his eyes in exasperated annoyance if he could, but he couldn’t reach them through his goggles. Instead, he broke the fourth wall and addressed me directly. “Really, Piper? This is the best you could come up with, or is Chris Claremont secretly writing this?”

“Don’t break the fourth wall,” I said to the Crimson Hound. “It’s unprofessional.”

“Whatever,” said the Hound. “Next time you talk to Bruno, remind him how much he underutilizes me.”

“Um…ok,” I said

“Now,” said the Crimson Hound, “Let’s get this shit started.”

Scenario: The Easter Bunny has gathered together some other holiday mascots to participate in a ritual to re-summon Savirax the Unclean and bargain for Santa’s life, hoping to exact their revenge upon the Crimson Hound for killing one of their own. He is using a group of 10 willing cultists as sacrifices to fuel the ritual.

Special Rules: One by one, the cultists are pulled into the dimension of Savirax the Unclean to meet their grisly doom. At the beginning of each round, a cultist disappears. When there are no more cultists, Savirax the Unclean appears and…well, we’ll see! That means the Crimson Hound has only 10 rounds to defeat the Easter Bunny before time runs out!

Victory Conditions: The Easter Bunny and his minions must defeat the Crimson Hound and summon Savirax the Unclean. The Crimson Hound must defeat the Easter Bunny and his minions and stop the ritual!

The Red Thirst: Although he’s a “good guy”, the Crimson Hound is, at heart, a bloodsucking vampire. If he defeats a model in melee combat, the Hound may take his next action to feed on the blood of his opponent. This allows him to roll 4D, and for every 2 goals scored, he heals one box of Body box damage as he sucks the poor soul dry. It also has the additional effect of causing fear to any enemy model within 6″, as they look on in horror at the Hound’s monstrous predations. On the following turn, any affected model must win an opposed Psyche roll or be unable to attack the Crimson Hound for one turn. (Note: this is a variation on both the Parasite and Healing minor powers.) This has no effect on the Great Pumpkin, who is a sentient plant and has no blood. If the Crimson Hound feeds on Finnegan Feeney, he gets drunk immediately after his healing roll and is -1D to all rolls for the rest of the game.

Here are my Super Mission Force builds for the characters in this scenario:

The Crimson Hound (Brawler) Major: Scrapper Minor: Melee Specialist, Resistance (Special: Vampire, Cause Fear); Move 7, Body 7, Psyche 6

The Easter Bunny (Brawler) Major: Scrapper, Minor: Melee Specialist, Super-Agility; Move 9, Body 7, Psyche 6

The Great Pumpkin (Wild Card) Minor: Entangle, Massive, Melee Specialist, Reach; Move 8, Body 8, Psyche 6

Finnegan Feeney (Street Level) Minor: Fortune, Tough; Move 6, Body 5, Psyche 5

Turn 1: One of the cultists on the pentagram’s points vanishes (cue Wilhelm scream), drawn into another dimension to be devoured. The Crimson Hound loses initiative. Finnegan Feeney scuffs the ground a few times and charges like a bull with a full head of steam into combat with the Crimson Hound. He inflicts no damage, however, as the Crimson Hound easily swats aside his pathetic punches and smacks him across his big, red nose, dealing 2 Body to the blithering drunkard, stopping him in his tracks and dropping him to 3 Body. The Easter Bunny wastes no time, hopping into combat and winding up. After the dice are tallied, the Easter Bunny wallops the Crimson Hound for 2 Body, dropping him to 5. The Great Pumpkin shuffles forward and ropy vines snake towards the Crimson Hound, trying to hold him fast. The Crimson Hound sees the vines and realizes what The Great Pumpkin is up to. He’s able to avoid the entanglement–for now.

In response, the Crimson Hound attacks Finnegan Feeney, scoring a net 5 Body in damage. Not even Finnegan Feeney’s vaunted Luck o’ the Irish (his Fortune power) is enough to help him. So vicious is the Crimson Hound’s assault, one might think the Crimson Hound (or perhaps the guy writing this) was so offended by the cartoonish stereotype of the Irish that it had to go, immediately. Five Body is 2 more than Finnegan Feeney has, so he is KO’ed!

Turn 2: Another henchman vanishes to the dark ritual (cue Wilhelm scream).

The Crimson Hound gains initiative and turns his attention to the Easter Bunny. His net 3 goals drop the Easter Bunny from 7 Body to 4, and knocks his bunny head askew. The Easter Bunny is a seasoned fighter, though; an even match for the Crimson Hound. He adjusts his bunny head with one hand and uppercuts the Crimson Hound with the other, scoring 2 Body in damage. The Great Pumpkin tries to entangle the Crimson Hound again, and this time he succeeds. The Crimson Hound is now at 3 Body and held firmly in the strong viney grip of the Great Pumpkin! Things aren’t looking good!

Turn 3: Another henchman is dragged to his otherworldly doom (cue Wilhelm scream). The Crimson Hound keeps initiative, and realizes he’s in a tough spot, so he tries to escape the pumpkin vines. Sadly, he fails! He can only helplessly struggle as the Easter Bunny punches him in the breadbasket for 2 more Body, dropping him to 1. But it’s the Great Pumpkin who administers the coup de grace: a vine bearing the rusty scythe shoots out and slashes the Crimson Hound for an additional 4 Body. That’s way more than the Crimson Hound has, and he fails his KO check. The Crimson Hound falls!

The Great Pumpkin shambled over to the Easter Bunny, who stood gloating over the unconscious body of the Crimson Hound. He raised his rusty scythe to finish the job, while the screaming of the cultists continued unabated, as they were taken to their doom one by one.

“No, wait,” said the Easter Bunny. “I have other plans for him.”

The Great Pumpkin lowered the scythe. “But I thought the whole point was to kill him.”

“And we will. By sacrificing him Savirax the Unclean!” The Easter Bunny began to laugh maniacally. Somewhere nearby, another cultist screamed and vanished.

“Right,” said the Great Pumpkin. “Well, you can take it from here, then. If we’re not killing him, I’ve got my wife and three kids to get back to. It’s Christmas.” And with that the Great Pumpkin slithered off, vines trailing behind him like a wedding dress train.

In a few moments, the final cultist was sacrificed. The Crimson Hound began to stir. With a loud, interdimensional pop, Savirax the Unclean appeared in the pentagram’s center. “Who dares summon me?”

“I do, O Great Savirax the Unclean,” said the Easter Bunny.

“Why is some fuckhead in a bunny suit summoning me on Christmas Eve?” asked Savirax the Unclean.

“I wish to bargain with thee, O Great One, for the life of Santa Claus.”

“Santa Claus?” asked Savirax the Unclean. “I ate that guy like…two years ago didn’t I? He’s dead. Not merely dead–he’s really most sincerely dead. You’re too late. Trust me. Hey! Is that the Crimson Hound?”

The Easter Bunny ignored Savirax the Unclean’s question. “But surely you have the power to bring Santa back, Great Savirax the Unclean?!”

“Sure. But why would I do that?” asked Savirax the Unclean. “He was an asshole. Hey, it IS the Crimson Hound! I thought I recognized you, you old rascal! How have you been?”

“Been better,” said the Crimson Hound, holding his guts together. “Yourself?”

The Easter Bunny was getting frustrated. “We conducted the ritual of summoning to offer you the Crimson Hound as a sacrifice. and beseech you to resurrect Santa Claus, O Great Savirax the Unclean!”

Savirax the Unclean appeared to consider the Easter Bunny’s offer. “Offer rejected. I think I’ll just devour you instead. You piss me off..” A pseudopod snaked its way towards the Easter Bunny and plucked him into the air, drawing him towards the gaping, foul maw of Savirax the Unclean.

“But why?” screamed the Easter Bunny. “What have I done to displease you?

“Bob should have read his fucking email,” said Savirax the Unclean. “I prefer the purple robes.” The Easter Bunny let out a final scream as he was swallowed whole.

The Crimson Hound rose unsteadily to his feet. “So, what now? You gonna destroy the world?”

“Nah,” said Savirax the Unclean. “It’s Christmas, you know.? I’d love to catch up; but I’ve got a mug of cocoa and some Johnny Mathis waiting for me back home.”

“Yeah, some other time,” said the Crimson Hound. “Merry Christmas, Savirax the Unclean.”

“Merry Christmas, Crimson Hound. I’m sure we’ll see each other again…maybe next year.” And with a pop, Savirax the Unclean disappeared.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

Run. Run, as Fast as You Can! A Super Mission Force AAR (Kind Of)

The Crimson Hound killed Santa Claus two years ago, and since then, the residents of Glumengrad had continued to celebrate Christmas as if nothing happened. Most of them didn’t believe in Santa Claus anyway, so no one really missed him when he was gone for good. But such a fat, jolly vacuum cannot remain empty long. Someone would try to step into the black, buckled boots of the now deceased St. Nick, and the Crimson Hound made it his business to keep tabs on the main players in town.

Now, it seemed one had made his move: the Gingerbread Man.

The Crimson Hound watched from his perch atop a conveniently-placed gargoyle as the Gingerbread Man directed his henchmen to load up the postal truck with stolen presents. The Crimson Hound wondered what it would be like to receive a present, but no one had ever given the Crimson Hound a gift before. He thought it might be nice to receive new, custom grips for his pistols or a form-fitted Kevlar breastplate, or even a bag of blood he didn’t have to drain from some evildoer. His eyes narrowed behind crimson lenses when he thought about all the disappointed citizens of Glumengrad who would wake up on Christmas morning to nothing under the tree, because of the greed of the Gingerbread Man.

That would not do. The Crimson Hound leaped down from his gargoyle perch, landing atop a stack of extra-large, brightly wrapped gifts. He had no way of knowing what was in the boxes before he jumped, or whether they would support the weight of a muscular man in an armored suit who was dropping from three stories above. They didn’t, but they did break his fall. Loudly.

“Ah, shit,” said the Crimson Hound, emerging from beneath a stack of crushed presents and torn wrapping paper.

“It’s the Crimson Hound!” screamed the Gingerbread Man , in a high, piping voice reminiscent of a cartoon mouse. The Crimson Hound winced. That voice was tough to take. He looked upon the Gingerbread Man’s henchmen with newfound sympathy, until he noticed some of them looked familiar.

“Some of you look familiar,” said the Crimson Hound.

“We used to work for Santa,” one of them said. “We’re the ones left that you didn’t eat, you bloodsucking freak.”

You might think the Crimson Hound would not be hurt by the words of a common thug. But the Crimson Hound has feelings, too. He frowned. “I didn’t actually eat anyone. Just tore open their necks and drank their blood.”

“Never mind that!” said the Gingerbread Man, causing the Crimson Hound to wince anew. “I’m ready for you! Now you will taste the true power of my Candy Cane Lance!”

“Looks like someone’s been tasting it already,” said the Crimson Hound.

“You have to lick it to make it sharp!” said the Gingerbread Man. He gave it a demonstrative lick. “See?”

The Crimson Hound shook his head at how ridiculous his life seemed to become when his creator neglected to produce new Chronicles of the Crimson Hound content on his YouTube channel. “So that’s it’s power? It’s sharp? Ooooooooo. I’m gonna shove that candy cane up your ass, dude.”

“The joke’s on you, Crimson Hound!” giggled the Gingerbread Man. “I’m a sentient cookie! I don’t have an anus!”

“Not yet,” said the Crimson Hound. He smiled.

The Gingerbread Man’s mouth formed a prefect, icing O of surprised horror. “Get him!”

The Crimson Hound leaped upon the henchmen, moving through them like a red wave of death. He struck out left and right. Bones crunched. Teeth shattered. Blood sprayed. In a moment he was the only one left standing.

Game note: This was the single fastest round of Super Mission Force I’ve ever played. The Crimson Hound won initiative and charged the henchmen group, inflicting 4 wounds, dropping 4 henchmen. The remaining henchman responded, but the Crimson Hound’s Reflection power allowed him to do 2 more damage to his attacker, effectively wiping out the entire group in 1 round. Damn.

The Crimson Hound looked around at the crumpled bodies of the Gingerbread Man’s henchmen. “Well, that was surprisingly quick.”

The Gingerbread Man dropped his Candy Cane Lance and turned to flee. “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Ma–URK!”

The Crimson Hound proved that he could, in fact, catch the Gingerbread Man; and he did, gripping the Gingerbread Man by his throat, or at least where his throat would be if he had a neck. “You were saying?” The Hound bared his fangs. “Time to see what all the fuss is about, Cookie-Puss.”

“WAIT!” choked the Gingerbread Man.

“Nope” said the Hound, opening his mouth.

“WAIT!” begged the Gingerbread Man.

The Hound stopped. “Dude, I already said no.”

“But if you eat me, you’ll never know about the Master Plan!”

The Crimson Hound sighed. He really wanted to eat the Gingerbread Man, because he was hungry and because the Gingerbread Man smelled delicious; but mostly because the Gingerbread Man was really fucking annoying. “OK, I’ll bite,” the Hound said, smiling at his own pun. “What Master Plan?”

“The one to resurrect Santa Claus!”

Forgotten Heroes: Whisper

For my second Forgotten Hero of 2023, I present another First Comics character: Steven Grant’s Whisper. Along with Nexus and Badger, Whisper actually started out in Capital Comics before being published by First after Capital’s demise. Whisper last showed up in a one-shot in 2006. I own exactly one Whisper comic, and it’s not even an issue of her own series. It’s this Crossroads comic, featuring a team-up between Whisper and Jon Sable, Freelance. Despite having a cool cover, it’s bad.

As a result, I knew next to nothing about Whisper before I decided to make this conversion, so I looked up her story. She’s Alexis Devin, an American, but trained in ninjutsu by her Japanese Yakuza stepfather. As a child she had polio and this training helped her overcome it. Alexis was working as an architect and wanted nothing to do with ninjas when she was drawn back into the conflicts of the Yakuza against her will. I guess there’s more to the story, but that’s the gist of it. She’s a ninja, and it was the 80’s. The world was ninja crazy back then.

To make Whisper, I started with these two Heroclix miniatures: The Punisher and Elektra. I’ve always hated this Elektra miniature because it looks stupid, and like many Heroclix, the factory paint job is abysmal. The Punisher sculpt is pretty bad-ass. Unfortunately, I needed that wall he’s standing on, because I have no ability to sculpt one myself. (The Punisher plays no further role in this tale.)

I started by cutting the spear apart and repositioning her arms. I removed the sashes from the spear, but kept some of the handle for each hand. Then I chopped off her hair and her skirt and filled the gaps left behind.

I spent a lot of time filing down her head. Like many conversions, this one looked horrible during the process. I couldn’t get the image of Elektra with a massive head bandage out of my mind. I reattached the sashes as a belt and some flowing wrist wraps. I shaved down the spear shafts to look more like swords.

I wasn’t about to keep that stupid pose, so here’s where I used the wall. Now she’s leaping from a high ledge, ninja-style.

Once primed black, she immediately looked better.

Turns out Whisper doesn’t have flowing wrist wraps, but I like the look of it as it gives the character an illusion of motion. I didn’t do much to the wall other than weather it a little and give it a slight highlight.

And there she is: Whisper. Overall, I think she looks pretty good. She looks a lot better than that Elektra miniature, anyway…

Forgotten Heroes: Dreadstar

For my first Forgotten Heroes post of 2023, I decided to do Jim Starlin’s iconic hero: Vanth Dreadstar.

Dreadstar started out in Marvel’s Epic Illustrated, before getting his own Epic Comics series that lasted for 26 issues. Then Starlin took it to First Comics, where it was published until they went out of business in 1991. Dreadstar briefly returned for a limited series published by Malibu in 1995. As far as I know, that was the last appearance of Dreadstar in comics, although there is supposedly a TV series in the works. Guess time will tell.

I have a confession to make: despite having almost all the Dreadstar comics, I could never get into the character. Maybe I should try again. Still, I was a huge fan of First Comics, who published some really groundbreaking stuff back in the 80’s; including my favorite comic of all time, Grimjack. First Comics heroes have been my go-to for Forgotten Heroes challenges in the past. I’ve done Badger, Nexus and Jon Sable, Freelance in previous years, and if all goes well, I’l be doing another First Comics hero by the end of the month.

But on to Dreadstar. To make this miniature, I used two old Heroclix models: Captain America, from the original Marvel Infinity Challenge set, and Aquaman, from the original DC Hypertime set. I removed Cap’s shield (cool objective marker!) and his head, and also beheaded Aquaman. Then I chopped off some of Aquaman’s hair and swapped the heads. Finally, I repositioned Cap’s arm. The end result was this:

I’m saying something really important!

I made his sword from a toothpick and green stuff, and I sculpted his belt and hood. As anyone with eyes can see, I’m a shitty sculptor. Sadly, I forgot to take any pictures of this miniature covered in green stuff, It was too depressing. Anyway, here he is.

I added an old Space Marine bolt pistol to his hip.

Up close, you can see how shitty my sculpting is. Try as I might, I can’t make that green stuff behave.

Dreadstar’s history is long and convoluted, and like i said, I could never get into it. According to the Fandom page, most of his powers are derived from his sword. It can be absorbed and extruded from his body at will (gross), allows him to speak and understand any language, acts as a shield, and gives Dreadstar enhanced reflexes, rapid healing and the strength of twenty men. It’s also a sword, so I guess it can cut stuff, too.

Despite the sculpting flaws, I’m happy with how he turned out. Like I said, I’m hoping to get another First Comics character done by the end of the month. It’s a very obscure character. Want to know who it is? I’ll Whisper it to you….

Monster May(hem) 2023: The Home Stretch

We are nearing the end of Monster May(hem) 2023, and it’s doubtful I’ll get something else done by the end of the month. (It seems I have yardwork that requires my full and undivided attention in my immediate future.) Despite likely having no further contributions of my own, I thought I would update the blogroll with everyone else’s submissions. I’ll add any stragglers in a few days, but here are all the submissions I am aware of:

  • Simon, from Fantorical, has started work on a large Wizkids Groot model, and it’s looking suitably Grootlike! Can’t wait to see it finished!
  • Dave, from Wargames Terrain Workshop, has sculpted a few of his own miniatures for his submissions: a Dragonkin warrior, a Clawed Fiend and a Jerba (a Star Wars beast of burden). He’s also done justice to some GW miniatures: some Dark Elf Khymera (these are sick!), a Slaan Lord on Palanquin and an awesome Chaos Giant (wow!)! That would be enough for mere mortals, but Dave is a hobby machine. He then painted a cool 3D-printed cyclops and finally, the Bitch Herself: the Alien Queen, in supersize! Dave went for a full-size model kit with the old Halcyon Alien Queen model. (Funny thing, Dave…I’m working on a model kit, too…!) It’s GREAT!!!!
  • Matt, from PM Painting did the creepy Jötunn Moder from The Ritual, and a Fungal Troll that may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen him paint (it’s really stunning). That would have been more than enough; but Matt also completed an Undead Goliath from Calden Keep, a Plant Shambler and a Minotaur Lord! Matt works right up to the end, though, so I’m sure we haven’t seen all he has to offer yet. In real life, meanwhile, Matt’s been avoiding bears. The ursine kind, I mean. Solid work, Matt!
  • Azazel, from Azazel’s Bitz Box has brought his A-Game, as always: he started with a “Chaos Toad Savage” (aka a Reaper not-Slaad) before moving on to some of my favorite D&D monsters: a pair of Gricks by Nolzur’s; following that with a Reaper Dire Boar and a Yugg, which is a particularly loathsome Cthulhu Mythos monster I’d never heard of before! Azazel then completed a giant snake, which really needs to be seen because first: it’s an awesome sculpt, and second: Azazel painted a scale pattern that I am totally copying if ever I get the chance. Then he managed to finish a long-dormant project: an “Abominalpha” for Zombicide: Black Plague, together with a “Weremanboar” and “Actual Cannibal Shia LeBoeuf”; and finally, working right up to the wire, a Shoggoth from Cthulhu: Death May Die! ! Azazel’s stunning paintjobs aside, there are some really cool miniatures here that I’ve never seen before, and that’s not even close to everything ELSE Azazel painted in May! Well done once again, Azazel!
  • Snapfit, from Da Green Horde, comes in under the wire with a classic GW River Troll and a converted Reaper Troll, and they look great!. Snapfit says they’re called Fellwater Troggoths nowadays, and I have no reason to doubt his word. Thanks for participating this year, Snapfit! Don’t be a stranger!
  • Jon, from Jon’s Hobby Desk, rejoins us this year with some late postings (or, as he says, a head-start on next year). He did a couple of big ‘uns: a Wizkids Nightwalker and The Rancor, from Star Wars Imperial Assault! Thank you, Jon!
  • Tom, @The_Goodground painted a demon, a storm elemental, a Rat Ogre, an objective marker so monstrous it counts as a monster, a vulture demon and a Lovecrfaftian Gnoph-Keh, before turning his attention to House Cawdor and Necromunda, abandoning the world of Monster May(hem) and moving away into the East, where, like the Blue Wizards of the Istari, he passes out of our tale to fates unknown. You can see all his miniatures on his Instagram account!
  • Malcolm, @mdcampbell_dunwichcreatives painted four monsters, a Runequest Walktapus, a classic Grenadier Shadowrun miniature, the Feathered Serpent (beautiful plumage!), a Reaper Carrion Crawler…and…wait forit: Baba Yaga’s Hut! (Not the Reaper one I did a couple of years ago, a new,3D print that I like better!) He’s posted three on Instagram account so far, and you can see all of them in my #miniatures channel on the Discord server, if you have access. If you don’t, ask!
  • Mike, @sasquatchminis completed a Nolzur’s White Dragon, which he intends to use for Icespire Peak, and it looks fantastic! He posted it to his Instagram account and in my Discord server, so check it out!
  • And finally, me! I did a Skeletal Dragon and a Spiny Death Worm, both of which you can see in previous posts. I planned on a couple more, but it’s not happening this year.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for any late submissions, so this might not be the final list. Thanks so much to all who participated in Monster May(hem) this year. For those who didn’t get the opportunity, no worries: I fully understand how real life can get in the way of time spent at the hobby desk! Assuming I’m still alive next May, Monster May(hem) shall return (and if I’m not, I expect one of you to pick up the standard and lead from the front)!

Bring on Forgotten Heroes!