Category Archives: Insanity Pile

Wise Uncle Wei

The Green Hornet returned to consciousness, the back of his head throbbing. He tried to reach up to massage it only to find he was bound, his hands tied behind his back around a thick support column. The smells of exotic spices assailed him as he suddenly remembered where he was: The “Happy Pepper” Spice Company, a warehouse in Chinatown, the domain of ruthless gang boss “Wise Uncle” Wei. It all came rushing back. He had been attacked from behind; surprised. He was used to having Kato there to watch his back, but not tonight.

He was alone. He could feel the cold floor on the back of his legs. He had been here a while. His head was bare. He had lost his hat. He peered around in the dim light. There it was, a few feet away on the floor. Alarm gave way to relief as he realized his domino mask still concealed his features. A small comfort, but he’d take what he could get.

A soft scuffle, and Kato was suddenly there, flowing like ink out of the darkness. The Hornet breathed a sigh of relief as his friend began to work away at the knots that bound his hands. “I told you to stay in bed,” the Green Hornet said.

“Right. I can see you obviously had everything under control here,” said Kato.

“I did, and you’re terrible at following orders.”

“I don’t work for you,” said Kato.

“Yes, you do.”

“Not when the masks are on. What happened?”

“I got jumped from behind,” said the Hornet. “Big guy. Uncle Wei’s enforcer. What’s his name?”

“Why are you asking me?” asked Kato. “Because I’m Asian? We don’t all know each other, you know.”

The Green Hornet flushed scarlet. “I didn’t mean–” he stammered, then chuckled softly as he caught sight of Kato’s grin in the dim light. “OK, very funny. You got me.”

“Iron-Skin Liu,” Kato said, as the bonds fell free. “You’re lucky he didn’t take your head off.”

“Sure feels like he did,” said the Hornet, rubbing his wrists and standing up. He bent to retrieve his fedora as the lights suddenly blazed, illuminating the warehouse.

They were in an open, circular area, surrounded on all sides by stacks and pallets of shipping crates and containers filled with spices and other imported goods. “Wise Uncle” Wei sat upon a small platform a few meters distant, flanked by his bodyguard, the massive, scowling “Iron-Skin” Liu; and his lieutenant, “Clean-Head” Chang. Several rough-looking Tong gangsters began to move from between the stacks of crates and barrels, surrounding the heroes on all sides.

“You see, Chang?” asked Wei. “It is as I predicted. Where there is one, the other cannot be far behind. It was only a matter of patience.”

“You are wise, Uncle Wei,” said “Clean-Head” Chang, smiling wickedly.

“Thank you, Chang; but I know my own name, ” said Wei. Chang stopped smiling and looked confused. Wei continued. “Now, we have them both: the Green Hornet AND his sidekick.”

“Sidekick,” the Hornet said softly, smirking. “You hear that, old friend?”

“I heard it. Remind me to show you a “side kick” when we get out of this,” murmured Kato, watching as more gangsters surrounded them.

Clean Head” Chang told me how you broke up the meeting last night at the storage yard,” said Wei. “No doubt you are seeking the mysterious man behind it all. Who could it be? What does he want? Well, you will not find him here. You might check the Waterfront District, if you survive. Donnelly seemed to be the only one interested in the mystery man’s proposal.”

“What proposal? Why are you telling us this, Wei?” asked the Green Hornet. “You’re being very helpful.”

“Why not? It matters nothing to me, my friend. In a short time you will both likely be dead; and if not, then you will come into conflict with another of my enemies, “Big Eddie” Donnelly, as you seek to thwart their alliance. Yes, an alliance is what they intend. Either way, I cannot lose.”

“Depends. You can lose a lot of men in the meantime,” said Kato, moving back-to-back with the Hornet and taking a ready stance. “All of them, maybe.” He flashed a wicked smile. The Tong shifted uneasily, looking to each other for reassurance.

“My men are expendable until they prove otherwise,” said “Wise Uncle” Wei. “None of these men have so proven themselves. Now, enough talk!”

The full scenario was detailed in the last post! Check it out if you missed it!

Turn 1: The first card drawn is a three, so two more Tong thugs come out to play and join their fellows on the perimeter of the circle. The Tong get initiative, and “Clean-Head” Chang wastes no time, knowing that his every move is being watched by “Wise Uncle” Wei. Waving his cleaver menacingly he rushes towards Kato, but doesn’t have enough movement to reach him. This does put himself within Kato’s range, however. With a loud Kiai, Kato leaps into combat, easily outclassing Chang, who falls beneath a flurry of blows from the black-masked vigilante! So much for Chang!

The remaining Tong rush into the circle; but, like Chang, they lack the movement necessary to reach the heroes. The Green Hornet counter-charges the closest Tong gangster; and with his patented one-two punch, he drops the goon like a sack of cement!

Turn 2: Another card is drawn…it’s a Two! Three more Tong surround the circle, ready to fight! The heroes seize the initiative this turn, though; and the Green Hornet moves swiftly to engage another opponent, knowing that letting up for an instant could mean that he and Kato will be overwhelmed! The gangster is no match for his emerald-clad fists, and falls just as another Tong charges the Hornet from behind. Once again, the Green Hornet prevails, punching the Tong so hard he leaves his feet! Kato takes one gangster out before he is mobbed by three more, who act in concert to try and bring him down. One manages to wound Kato! Finally, the remaining Tong thug charges the Green Hornet and meets the same fate as his friends. The Hornet now has made a small pile of three unconscious thugs; while Kato is surrounded by three very angry and very conscious opponents!

Turn 3: The card drawn is a Five: Look Out Below! A barrel of peanut oil shatters on the ground, turning the entire area into a slippery mess! Everyone scrambles to get out of the way. Kato and two of the goons he’s fighting manage to avoid it, but the barrel lands squarely on the remaining goon, knocking him unconscious. The Green Hornet is also hit. He takes a wound and is knocked prone, covered in peanut oil!

The villains gain initiative and immediately attack Kato, but even with two-to-one odds, they don’t stand a chance. Kato leaps into the air, lashing out with both legs in a corkscrew kick that sends them both flying, their senseless bodies sliding away on a sheen of oil. (Kato beat them on their turn, taking one out; then attacked on his own activation, taking out another.) The Green Hornet manages to stand up. Looking around, it seems that for the time being, at least, there are no Tong to threaten them!

Turn 4: The card drawn is a Nine. Nothing happens! With no events, no Tong to defend against and still no way out, this lull in the action seems like a good time for some dramatic dialogue, especially since…

Turn 5: The card drawn is the King!

“Wise Uncle” Wei clapped softly, gazing at Kato with undisguised admiration. “Your skill is quite impressive, ah…mmm…what IS your name? A thousand apologies, but I don’t seem to know.” Kato scowled. The Green Hornet tried and failed to cover a smile.

“You seem to be out of soldiers, Wei,” said the Green Hornet.

“There are always more soldiers,” Wei replied irritably, waving his hand in dismissal. He continued to address Kato. “You must know your talents are wasted with this green fool.”

“Hey!” protested the Green Hornet. ” There’s no need for name-calling.”

“You should join me, instead,” Wei continued smoothly. “Such skill as you possess would be well-compensated in my organization.”

“No chance,” said Kato, “the green fool needs me.”

“Really?!” exclaimed the Hornet, “You, too? I’m standing right here!”

“As you wish, then,” said Wei. “I grow weary of this entertainment.” He stood up. “See to it they do not leave this warehouse alive, Liu.”

“Iron-Skin” Liu nodded, hopping down from the platform as more thugs entered the circle. The Green Hornet and Kato found themselves back-to-back again, waiting…

Turn 6: I drew the Ace. Three more Tong show up! I deployed these three as a squad rather than scattering them around the circle. They will move and act together, because this one-at-a-time crap isn’t working out for the Tong! Close up on the faces of the Tong, all scowls and menace; cut to the Green Hornet, brow furrowed in determination; quick zoom on Kato’s mask, where his eyes can be seen, narrowed; while the final shot shows a slow, evil grin spreading across the brutal visage of “Iron-Skin” Liu…

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Greetings. I am “Wise Uncle” Wei. I cannot help but notice you admiring my Dragon Bell. An exquisite piece, wouldn’t you agree? It must have cost a fortune, you must think. But no, this is not so.

You may ask, why am I called wise? The answer is simple. It is because I get all my Dragon Bells at Wargames Terrain Workshop. After all, I may be the head of a very lucrative criminal enterprise; but just because I can afford expensive bell decor doesn’t mean I frivolously throw money away. That would be foolish, and I am not known as “Foolish Uncle” Wei.

This is my associate, “Iron-Skin” Liu. He is a man of few words; but when he does speak, it is often of Wargames Terrain Workshop, and of the unparalleled product quality and customer service they offer. Liu suggests most strongly that you shop there. If you do not, then “Iron-Skin” Liu will become unsettled, and that would be most unfortunate.

For you.

END COMMERCIAL

Turn 6, Continued: The heroes gain initiative. Seeing the group of thugs and “Iron-Skin” Liu about to close on Kato, The Hornet charges the group of thugs, hoping to cut them off. With a quick haymaker he drops one of the Tong; while “Iron-Skin’ Liu, bellowing in challenge, charges Kato and knocks him clear off his feet! Kato is wounded again and knocked back a full 3”! Liu isn’t far behind and immediately closes the gap; but he’s a bit overzealous and underestimates his opponent. With a natural 10, Kato slugs Liu right in the breadbasket, knocking the wind out of the giant and stopping him in his tracks! “Iron-Skin” Liu is wounded and staggered! The remaining two thugs attack the Green Hornet, hoping to overpower him, but the Emerald Avenger easily puts them both down in the dirt with two well-placed socks in the jaw!

Turn 7: A Ten is drawn. Nothing happens! Initiative goes to the heroes. Kato fends Liu off with a lightning-fast flurry of strikes to Liu’s face, but he’s not called “Iron-Skin” Liu for nothing! Liu smiles at Kato, completely unhurt! Kato looks at his fists in disbelief and betrayal as the Green Hornet barrels into Liu from behind! He bounces off the giant’s back, but doesn’t get too far before Liu lashes out in a mighty sweeping attack that barely misses Kato but swats the Hornet down like his namesake! The Green Hornet is knocked flying and is KO’ed!

Turn 8: A Seven is drawn. Back off! Kato grabs a rope and pulley from the ground and swings it around, clearing some space. “Iron-Skin” Liu retreats warily as the Green Hornet makes his roll to recover. He stands up slowly, shaking his head, trying to remember if he’s ever been hit that hard before. Initiative goes to the heroes again. Kato charges at Liu, but rolls poorly and Liu gets the better of him; grabbing Kato by the back of the neck and slamming his elbow into the hero’s face! Kato staggers back 3″ and collapses, unconscious!

Liu lunges at the Green Hornet next, but once again, he underestimates his opponent. The Green Hornet meets his charge with green-gloved fists of fury, striking Liu twice hard enough to hurt. Hard enough, in fact, to drop the giant in his tracks! “Iron-Skin” Liu is KO’ed!

Turn 9: A Queen is drawn! The Green Hornet spies an opening as Kato makes his Will roll to recover. Bloodied and exhausted, both heroes beat feet to escape before more goons show up!

Turn 10: Success! Victory for the Heroes!

The Green Hornet and Kato staggered back to the Black Beauty, secreted about a block distant from the Happy Pepper Warehouse. Both men were seriously injured, but they would recover. Kato slid behind the wheel while the Hornet climbed in the back, wincing in pain.

In the rear-view mirror, the two men stared at each other in silence. “So,” said the Hornet, finally, “Looks like “Big Eddie” Donnelly’s getting a visit from the Green Hornet next.”

“Sure, Kato replied. “But maybe tomorrow. Or the day after.”

“Kato…thanks. Thanks for coming after me.”

“Of course.” Kato grinned. “Green fool.”

The two men laughed as the Black Beauty roared off into the night.

Forgotten Heroes 2021: The Crimson Hound

Visitors to Dead Dick’s Tavern may recall me lamenting the fact that I don’t get to play many games any more, especially roleplaying games. Since I opened an Instagram account about a year ago, I’ve met some pretty cool hobbyists and gamers, many of whom live much too far away from me for us to ever be able to sit around the same table. Because of remote play during the COVID pandemic, that hasn’t been as much of an obstacle, and I’ve been able to get some gaming in with some very cool people.

One of them, my friend Bruno, has a YouTube channel called The Chronicles of the Crimson Hound, and through this, he has come up with something truly ingenious that all but guarantees he gets to play a ton of games. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t envy the guy.

Bruno created a character: the Crimson Hound, a vampiric vigilante super hero in a cyberpunk-style city. Bruno’s brilliance is that he gets other people to GM games for the Crimson Hound, using whatever rules system and running whatever story they like; then he puts the game sessions up on YouTube. So far, the folks running the games have mostly been gamers who have websites and podcasts of their own; so viewers get to see a variety of game mastering styles and get a feel for diverse methods of storytelling and gaming. The serials are broken down into sessions of about 15 minutes each, so they’re great to listen to while you’re…oh, say, cooking dinner or painting miniatures. Check them out!

Anyway, Bruno asked me to GM a game for the Crimson Hound, which made me feel immensely flattered. Run a game for a vampiric vigilante in a pulp/cyberpunk setting? Yes, please! On YouTube? No, thank you. Some folks, like Bruno, are handsome and charismatic enough to be on YouTube. Others, like me, are far too handsome for YouTube but lack any charisma whatsoever. Sad, but true.

Still, I felt bad because Bruno was kind enough to playtest one of my Call of Cthulhu adventures that I am planning to submit to the Miskatonic Repository. In other words, when I asked, he said yes; while when he asked, I declined. Kind of a dick move on my part. (See? No charisma.)

So, as a way to say thanks, I decided to immortalize Bruno’s creation, The Crimson Hound, for Forgotten Heroes. The Crimson Hound isn’t “forgotten”, of course; his legend is only just beginning! But this challenge gave me all the excuse I needed to practice my green stuff kung-fu. (Special thanks to Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop for the quick assist in answering my noob sculptor questions.) Besides, Carrion Crow is usually pretty lenient when it comes to enforcing the rules.

The base miniature was Captain Griffon, by Reaper, from their Chronoscope line. (If I remember right, Bruno wanted to use this miniature himself for the Hound, once upon a time.) I couldn’t find anything better in my rather extensive pile of Heroclix. I had considered using a Robin miniature as a base, but I picture the Hound is bigger (and cooler) than Robin.

In his single-minded pursuit of vigilante justice, the Crimson Hound has used stun batons, handguns and even an enchanted short sword. I considered giving him one or more of these, but in the end I decided just to stick with his bare hands. The Hound is a brute, after all. He’s not too subtle when it comes to kicking ass.

I added some green stuff to bulk out his shoulders and his collar, and sculpted his mask and his knee pads. Then I let him dry and sanded him down with an emery board, because Dave said to.

Of course, unbeknownst to Bruno, while I was IN THE MIDDLE OF sculpting and painting the Crimson Hound, Bruno put up a new Instagram post, showing the Hound’s upcoming NEW COSTUME. In other words, not this one anymore.

D’oh!

Here he is, all painted up. I tried to be as faithful to the top picture as I could, but there was no way in hell I was going to even attempt that belt. It’s way beyond my green stuff skillz. As it is, looks like I could have done a better job sanding him down. Hope you like him, Bruno!

Here’s a funny little anecdote: for my final touch, I decided to give the red parts of the costume a light wash of Citadel’s Bloodletter glaze, which really does a good job of highlighting and tying together the different shades of red. It was supposed to be the very last thing I did, but shortly after the application, I noticed a bunch of mysterious white spots all over the model, wherever I put the Bloodletter. Seems my glaze went bad somehow, and I had to redo all the red. Isn’t that funny? Ha ha ha.

Ha.

That’s probably it for my Forgotten Heroes submissions this year, although I could still pull something out last minute. Stranger things have happened. In the meantime, I will continue to watch the other participants with great interest!

Forgotten Heroes 2021: Grips

Back in 1986, a small comics company called Silver Wolf Comics put out a handful of black and white titles. The company was owned by Kris Silver, who also created and wrote most of the comics. One of those comics was Grips.

Grips is a “hero” who kills criminals because he’s a psycho himself. He gets off on giving and receiving pain and can will himself into a murderous rage. When he’s not doing the psychotic murderous vigilante thing, Grips likes long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners. He’s also a comic book artist; the artist of Fat Ninja, which was another Silver Wolf comic of the time. But mostly he’s all about killing and maiming bad guys in bloody and vicious ways.

He has long blades that slide out of his forearms that he uses to eviscerate people, like so:

He also shoots little projectile spiky things out of his gloves, like so:

And he uses a pair of spring-loaded tonfa when he feels like beating people’s brains in instead of gutting them, like so:

And he fucking LOVES IT.

When I was in high school, I thought this shit was AWESOME. Looking at it now (something I haven’t done since high school), I realize it is not awesome.

The first Grips comic lasted only 4 issues (I have 1-3). While researching this, I was surprised to find it came back for a second series a few years later, but that one only lasted 5 issues. Sprinkle in a very few appearances in other titles, and that’s about it. Grips would pretty much define the term “Forgotten Hero”, if he wasn’t notable because his book featured art by Tim Vigil. Vigil would later go on to draw Faust (the comic that he is most famous for), which showcases truly shocking levels of violence and hardcore pornography. If I recall correctly, Faust shows lots of graphic sex (consensual and not-so-consensual) with demons, and orgies with lots of blood and other bodily fluids. Not my cup of tea, but YMMV.

Anyway, this is the miniature I used for Grips. He’s Zenith, Superhero; from Reaper’s Chronoscope line. He’s meant to be a speedster, methinks.

First thing I’d need is some blades. I thought of using tines from a plastic fork, but these proved too thick. I ended up cutting them out of some plasticard (actually my expired health insurance card) instead.

Next I used some green stuff to fashion his gauntlets, epaulets, belt and mask. I made sure to include the capsules for his spring-loaded tonfa on his belt.

Then I painted him. I painted the brown parts of his costume GW’s Doombull Brown, then gave them a generous wash of Nuln Oil and highlighted with Coat D’Arms Rat Brown. The black was painted black (surprise!), then highlighted with Vallejo Heavy Charcoal. The belt and gauntlets were painted GW Gehenna Gold and highlighted with Vallejo Gold, while the blades were GW Canoptek Alloy, highlighted with GW Mithril Silver.

I actually kind of like the way he looks. Maybe I’ll use him in a game of Super Mission Force. It’s been too long.

I will have one more Forgotten Heroes submission between now and July. Until then, I’ll be watching to see what everyone else does!

“Nothing but…STAR WARS!!!!”

Back in 2015, I started painting the miniatures that came with the Imperial Assault core rules. I was proud of myself when I finally got them all done and ready for the table a year later. Then I managed to play a total of TWO games with my friends, who can’t commit to a fucking ham sandwich without 8 weeks notice and an escape clause; so my Star Wars gaming came to an abrupt end and the miniatures have pretty much languished unused since then.

Last year, after six big box expansions and forty miniature expansions to the Core Set, Fantasy Flight Games ceased production of Imperial Assault; choosing to focus on Star Wars Legion instead (a game I don’t play). Now, if you want IA, you’re forced to find existing product; because ain’t no more being made by Fantasy Flight. You would think that because I only managed to play two games, I wouldn’t consider putting my money into this game any more. After all, I have a fully-painted Core Set and all the Wave One miniature expansions, which is enough to play plenty of games, especially at my current rate of gameplay.

You’d be wrong. Recently, for reasons I truly cannot articulate, I went ALL THE WAY IN on Imperial Assault. Well, almost. The later “expanded universe” expansions don’t really interest me all that much. (Although it would be cool to have a Thrawn miniature, especially since his name was dropped in The Mandalorian last season, I don’t need it. But I might pick it up anyway, for the right price.)

Normally, I take opportunities like this to blame Roger for my own shortcomings (and I encourage you all to do the same); but in this case, the blame falls squarely upon the brawny shoulders of Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop; who has been on a Star Wars project streak for what seems like forever, sculpting, building and painting some truly inspiring stuff. Because of Dave, I have now resolved to watch all things Star Wars in chronological order. Some will be re-watches, of course; but some I’ll be watching for the first time. (I seem to have missed out entirely on The Clone Wars and Rebels, for example.)

I’ve decided to get cracking on more Imperial Assault miniatures in between my other projects. I’m not going to commit to anything specific, but I will paint them according to expansion release. That way if I get bored or annoyed I can sell them off as complete lots. (It could happen.) I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Mark Sorastro’s YouTube Channel is spectacular. I followed his tutorials for many of the Core Imperial Assault miniatures; I expect I’ll be doing the same going forward.

I’ll post my progress periodically. First up: The Twin Shadows expansion, which introduces the “OG” Mandalorian, Boba Fett, to Imperial Assault.

Berjotr Skaldisson, Monster Slayer

For June’s Character of the Month, I decided to do a Barbarian.

From the night Berjotr Skaldisson was born, it was assumed he would follow in the footsteps of his father Gilvi and become a skald; but by the time he reached his tenth winter, it became apparent that Berjotr had no skill for it. He could not sing, nor could he compose poetry. He could not remember the lineage of his own Jarl, never mind the lines of the Kings of Old. Berjotr could not so much as keep time with a drum while his father sang. He was a disappointment, that was certain; the son of a skald who had none of his father’s skill. But before long, Berjotr Skaldisson discovered where his true skills lay: he was very strong, and he was very good at killing things.

The Winter of Despair is remembered well by the people of Thord. Many died that year, not as warriors, but of starvation; for the summer raiding parties had not returned with plunder enough to last beyond the first snows. To make matters worse, that was the winter of Vargyr, the Great Bear; who devoured livestock and men equally and had no fear of Jarl Hranulf’s warriors.

One night, one of Hranulf’s thanes burst into the hall, bloodied and raving. He told of how Vargyr the Great Bear had devoured his family, after first crashing through the heavy oak door of his house. The warrior had no chance to even fetch his sword before the bear was upon them. He was lucky to escape at all. While the Jarl’s men listened to the thane’s tale in fear and awe, young Berjotr took up a greataxe and quietly left the mead hall. He set out into the cold darkness, pausing only long enough to retrieve two things from a nearby hut: a shovel and a young pig. When he judged himself far enough away from Hranulf’s hall, Berjotr used the shovel to dig a shallow ditch in the frozen ground, big enough for him to lie in. Then he used his greataxe to kill the pig, splitting its body in twain. He pulled the bloody corpse of the pig over him as he lay in the ditch and waited. Vargyr scented the kill and came before the pig’s blood had time to freeze. As the beast began to drag the pig’s corpse away, Berjotr sprang up and–in the time it takes for a man to draw a single breath–killed Vargyr, the Great Bear. The beast didn’t even have time to bellow in pain.

Thus Berjotr, son of Gilvi, decided that if he could not sing the songs of the skalds, he would instead give them songs to sing.

In his twelfth winter, already bigger and stronger than any of Hranulf’s warriors, Berjotr hunted and killed a pair of mated Thunderwyrms. The year after, he killed a snow spider that had built a nest too close to the settlement. Jarl Hranulf began to worry for his throne as Berjotr Skaldisson’s legend began to grow, so Hranulf sent the boy south with raiding parties for the next three years in the hopes he would not come back. Always Berjotr returned.

Unlike the others, Berjotr did not enjoy raiding. He felt always apart from his fellows and though he fought beside them, he called no man friend. He cared nothing for loot. He killed men easily enough, but his heart wasn’t in it. After three years of raiding, he decided he would go no more. He craved more of a challenge than plundering villages could provide, and besides, the longboats made him seasick.

The raiding party returned to Thord to find Hranulf’s mead hall destroyed, the Jarl dead, and most of the villagers gone; taken by trolls several weeks earlier. Berjotr followed the trolls’ trail into the mountains, entered their cave lair, rescued what remained of the villagers, and killed every male, female and young troll he found. Over several more years, he killed countless ogres, serpents, wolves, draugr, tree-men, cold ones, ice toads, and of course, men; for Berjotr Skaldisson’s legend had grown, and always there were those foolish enough to believe the legends untrue. There seemed to be nothing and no one Berjotr Skaldisson could not kill.

Berjotr was known throughout Thord by the time songs of his deeds finally reached the ears of the ice giant Brynnga, who flew to the settlement on his great frost dragon, Orl. From high above the mead hall, the enraged Brynnga bellowed his challenge to Berjotr Skaldisson: meet him in battle or he would lay waste to the hall and slay all the people within. So, Berjotr took up his greataxe once again and strode out to meet the giant, wearing the skin of Vargyr, the Great Bear he killed in the Winter of Despair.

Striding fearlessly into the plumes of Orl’s icy breath, Berjotr killed the dragon. Then, one arm frozen to his side and half his face burned black with frostbite, he killed the giant.

The people of Thord wanted Berjotr to be Jarl, but Berjotr had no interest in sitting in a mead hall while his warriors brought him treasure. Likewise he had no interest settling down and taking a wife. Although he swore he was finished with raiding, he did embark on a longboat once again, this time for lands unknown; for by the age of twenty-one, Berjotr Skaldisson had killed everything he could kill in Thord, and the skalds were hoarse from singing the songs of his deeds. It was time for him to move on.

Berjotr Skaldisson is Reaper’s “Barbarian Axeman of Icingstead” (14620), from their Warlord line. While the backstory is different and the miniature no doubt looks nothing like what he imagines, this Character of the Month is based loosely on my friend’s character in our current D&D 5E game.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

It’s June, and that means it’s time for my most favoritest, bestest painting challenge ever, Forgotten Heroes! I look forward to this every year, and I will always take part unless Carrion Crow says I can’t, or I’m dead.

What is Forgotten Heroes? Go here. The Crow will explain all.

So…what do I have planned for this year? Two submissions; one that’s going to be easy as pie (I hesitate to call it a proper submission); and another that may take a little more effort. Two submissions is not much for me, but I’m still trying to get through my Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps miniatures, and finish up my British Vospers for Cruel Seas; both of which were put on pause for Monster May(hem) last month. Plus, I will have June’s Character of the Month to do…

Still, a mere two submissions isn’t sitting well with me. This is Forgotten Heroes, man. It’s time to bring it, brah! (I call people “brah” now.)

So if YOU want to take part in Forgotten Heroes, drop by Carrion Crow’s Buffet if you haven’t already and let the man know. Bring something shiny (crows like shiny things) and/or something dead (crows like carrion) to improve your chances.

Just kidding. He lets everyone join. Even me.

Don’t bring him anything dead.

Monster May(hem) 2021: Blacksting, Wyvern

This is one of Owen’s miniatures: Blacksting, the Wyvern; from Reaper. It’s all metal and retails for $34.99 nowadays, but Owen bought it years ago when metal was much cheaper. It’s a very early Reaper miniature sculpted by Kevin Contos.

I don’t even like it, and I would never have purchased it myself. Not to shit all over Kevin Contos’s sculpting. It’s fine. It’s just a weird pose, and I hate miniatures with bases like this. They look stupid in my opinion, which means I have to change them, which means more work for me.

Of course, I’m not painting Blacksting for me. Not really. I’m painting it for Monster May(hem), and I’m painting it in my continued effort to entreat Owen into taking his pile of lead back and returning to the hobby. I’ve tried this before and met with failure; but since Owen had already assembled this beastie years ago, and it IS Monster May(hem), I decided to go ahead with it.

Fingers crossed.

The first thing was to do something about this stupid base, so I decided to go scenic and made it even bigger. I decided this wyvern was hanging out in a swamp, so I used most of what was left of the Model Magic and sculpted some pools, then I stuck some rocks into the Model Magic and let it dry. After that I primed the whole shebang with some Vallejo black surface primer.

I had some plastic foliage I use for big terrain pieces. I figured I could add some to the base after I primed it black and highlighted it with sickly green. Seems to have worked out ok (see below).

Here’s the finished product. I went with a fairly simple blue-black color scheme. The wings were a pain. They’re pretty flat and not very well textured, so highlighting them was not easy and I think it shows. (This is an early Reaper miniature, for better or worse.)

I wrapped the rock he’s squatting on in Army Painter Poison Ivy, and used the plastic foliage as swamp weeds. I used some Vallejo water effects mixed with craft paint for the pools of swamp water. This stuff is awesome! Roger introduced me to it, and I used it last year in Dave’s Summer of Scenery challenge when I did my Sludge Pool. I still had some left over so I used it!

I put a dab of model glue on his stinger, to make it look like it’s dripping venom.

The one thing I’m not wild about is the eyes. I wanted some colors to contrast sharply with the black-blue of Blacksting himself, but I’m not sure I got the effect I wanted. He has yellow orbs with orange irises and a black slit for a pupil. I considered painting them green. Maybe I’ll revisit the eyes at some point, but TBH I’m glad he’s done and I never really wanted to paint him anyway…so maybe not.

Monster Mayhem was amazing this year, with more participants and more submissions than ever before. Thanks so much to everyone who took part and who helped encourage other hobbyists in our community. You guys are an inspiration and I continue to be in awe of the talent and support you all exhibit. What started as a personal challenge several years ago has grown into something I hope to continue every year!

Once more, here is the blogroll:

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table returned and did some Prehistoric Cats, then sculpted a horrible Creeping Eye named S’eye’mon (in honor of Blax the Kleric)! It’s all painted now and I can think of a dozen uses for it for all kinds of games; including running a scenario based on the 1958 movie that inspired Roger: The Trollenberg Terror!

Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop went full-on “Galaxy Far, Far Away” this year and sculpted a Krayt Dragon, Joopa, some Denizens of Jabba’s Palace, and a Wort (that big Tatooine toad!). His sculpting and painting are truly awesome. Wonderful work, Dave!

Carrion Crow also came back this year and did a Wendigo miniature from ParagonStar, and it looks creepy as hell. Definitely not something you want to see in your headlights on a winter’s night…

Matt from PM Painting really went all-out this month, using Monster May(hem) as an excuse to crank out a ton of miniatures from the Cthulhu: Death May Die board game: an Elder Thing, a Shoggoth, a Byakhee, some Ghouls and Deep Ones, a Star-Spawn of Cthulhu , some Hunting Horrors, a CthonianYog-Sothoth, some Fire Vampires, Cthulhu and some Cultists, the Dunwich Horror himself, Wilbur Whately, and he even managed to get a start on the King in Yellow, Hastur! Sadly, Matt went incurably insane; but way to bring it, Matt!

In addition to the usual suspects above, it was great to welcome some new participants this year.

A newcomer to the Monster May(hem) challenge (but definitely not to the blogosphere), Azazel painted a Coral Golem, an Umber Hulk; a Sand Kraken, a Harbinger and some Void Hounds from Shadows of Brimstone; and his own Balor demon. Then went Mesozoic on us and did a Dire Crocodile, A Raptor Pack and two more dinosaurs: a Carnotaurus and a Hornslasher. Then, just to show us he could, he did a Carrion Crawler, some Goliaths, and to finish things up, a T-Rex! Talk about a debut! A truly astounding output for one month, and some marvelous painting!

Azazel and Matt, I can’t keep up! You guys put me to shame!

Another first-timer, Tom from The Good Ground painted a Red Slaad, a (new to me) creepy cryptid named Siren Head, and a Balor Demon! Not bad for your first painting challenge, Tom! I’ll warn you: it gets addictive!

The man, the myth, the legend! Mark A. Morin jumped in this year and promptly redefined the word “monster”. He painted two scary structures: an Aztec Temple Sacrificial Altar; and a High Throne! Welcome, Mark! Come back next year!

Mike, aka @sasquatchminis from Instagram, couldn’t make it this year after all; but his IG account is awesome and he’s a friend. So check out his stuff forthwith!

That’s an end to Monster May(hem) 2021 (unless Azazel or Matt has another submission I didn’t see yet). No time to rest! Tomorrow is June, and that means it’s all about Carrion Crow and his annual Forgotten Heroes challenge! I look forward to this challenge every year; and although I might not be as prolific this time around, I’ll have two submissions for sure. If you want to take part, just let the Crow know. He’s pretty cool about that!

Thanks once again to everyone who made Monster May(hem) so much fun this year!

Monster May(hem) 2021 Begins!

It’s May 1st! Time for Monster May(hem), so get painting! Those monsters aren’t gonna paint themselves!

Here’s a list of all the current participants, along with links to their blogs (where applicable):

Don’t see your name here yet? No problem! Just email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com or drop a comment below and let me know you want to participate! It’s never too late to paint a monster!

(Unless it’s June; it which case it’s technically too late.)

Here’s what’s happening so far:

We have our first submission! Matt from PM Painting is Johnny-on-the-spot already! Check out his awesome-looking Lovecraftian Elder Thing!

Although technically not submissions for this year, Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop is showcasing some amazing Dragons he sculpted AND painted (both masterfully) over on his site right now!

Tom from The Good Ground jumped into the pool with a very cool Red Slaad!

And Azazel painted this beautiful Coral Golem! I love it!

I’m running behind already; and I’m the guy hosting this challenge! It’s the same every year…

Gonna go start mine…

Doval Lakatos, The Silent Piper

For April’s Character of the Month, I decided to do a Bard. Naturally, being me, I chose a piper. I’ve had this particular miniature for at least ten years, sitting quietly in a box with far too many other miniatures that I may or may not ever get to. We only have so many heartbeats, after all…

This miniature is Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord; a Warmachine miniature from Privateer Press. His bagpipes are truly legendary…they look more like a portable calliope or pipe organ than a traditional bagpipe set. In other words, they’re fucking awesome; so I needed a cool backstory. This is what I came up with:

Doval Lakatos was a man of celebration; a minstrel and dancer who could lift even the lowest spirits with just a few notes from his flute or thumps of his drum. As a troubadour, he travelled the roads and byways of Volskad with his people; singing, dancing, and selling the instruments of music he created as only a master craftsman could; often throwing in free lessons for pretty girls. In time, one of these girls, Karin, became his wife; and in time, she bore him a daughter, Mahala, who was his truest joy.

Many winters passed, as, sadly, did Karin; leaving Doval and Mahala to go on together. Mahala grew to be a lovely young woman; blessed with a voice like the sweetest birdsong and a laugh that could chase away storms. It was no surprise when she began to attract the attentions of men. Tragically, one of these men was Baron Drammen Stahl.

Doval Lakatos’s people knew that Stahlmark was a place to be traversed quickly, or better yet, avoided altogether. The people there did not laugh. They had no use for travelers and songs and music; as these were things for other places, places where the Baron did not rule. The Baron was not one to countenance joy in his subjects, only obedience and tribute. He took this tribute in the form of maiden girls, one each year; supposedly to be his brides, yet none were ever seen again. Although Doval Lakatos tried to attract as little attention as possible while travelling through Stahlmark, Mahala was seen by the Baron’s men, and she was taken to him.

Doval Lakatos tried to resist, but how could an old man fight so many of the Baron’s soldiers? Frantic, he cast about for men of courage, anyone who would go with him to bring Mahala back from the Baron. But men of courage were in short supply, especially where Baron Drammen Stahl was concerned. Doval Lakatos raged. He begged and pleaded. And finally, he despaired.

Only a fool or one with nothing to live for would willingly venture into the dark woods to seek The Baba Yaga; but that is what Doval Lakatos did. He found her easily. Why should she make it difficult? The hag always welcomed visitors. And so it was that in a dark clearing lit only by a weak fire, under the watchful, glittering eyes of The Baba Yaga, Doval Lakatos told the hag his story and made his plea. The hag listened while the flickering shadows cast by her obscene, dancing hut played across her hideous visage. The Baba Yaga listened, and she smiled. At the sight of those terrible iron fangs, Doval Lakatos knew real fear.

The Baba Yaga told him that Baron Drammen Stahl was more than a man; that he was a vorvalaka; one of the undead who reveled in cruelty and fed upon the blood of innocents. As such, Mahala was already dead; there was nothing to be done. The Baba Yaga laughed, then; her fetid breath stinking of decayed things and enveloping him like a wet blanket. She told him that she had eaten already this night; but that didn’t mean she was sated. She advised Doval Lakatos should leave her clearing while he still could, and turned her back on him.

But he did not leave. Mahala was all he cared for; all he would ever care for. He told the hag what she wanted to hear: that he would give anything to ensure Mahala lived and the Baron died. The Baba Yaga slowly turned. If he was willing to give that which he loved dearly, then the hag could help him. Doval said he loved nothing more than Mahala; the hag could have anything else. She smiled again, and agreed. And then she told him what he must do.

Doval Lakatos constructed a set of bagpipes according to The Baba Yaga’s instructions, using the finger bones of dead men that she gave him. Instead of dry cane, these hollow bones would serve as bagpipe reeds. She warned him not to play the pipes once they were complete. There could be no testing and tuning of this instrument. These pipes could be played only once, and only in the presence of the Baron. If done correctly, they would provide Doval Lakatos with the opportunity he would need to free Mahala from the Baron’s bondage. Once his daughter was freed, though, Doval Lakatos must present himself to The Baba Yaga so that she could collect payment for her services.

On the night he finished the bagpipes, Doval Lakatos took a pony and rode to the gates of the Baron’s castle in the rain. The Baron’s men mocked him and made to turn him away; until one of them recognized him as the father of the Baron’s newest plaything. Doval Lakatos begged the men to be allowed to perform for the Baron; to see his daughter one last time. Although they knew the Baron had no interest in music, these men were cruel; and thought the Baron would enjoy tormenting the old man for a while before killing him. They let Doval Lakatos into the main ballroom where a feast was laid in front of a roaring fire. The Baron sat upon his throne, and Mahala sat next to him, eyes wide with fear; for she knew that by coming here her father had sealed his own fate.

The Baron Drammen Stahl fixed his gaze upon him and demanded to know his business. Doval Lakatos returned the Baron’s stare without flinching, and asked if he could play his pipes for him and for his daughter one last time, before she ceased to be his daughter and became instead the Baron’s wife. The Baron agreed with a laugh. After all, he said, it would most certainly be the last time. At this, his men laughed, too; anticipating Doval Lakatos’s imminent imprisonment, torture and death.

Doval Lakatos placed the chanter to his lips and blew air into the bellows. It inflated slowly, and the drones began to hum. When all three were in unison, everyone in the Baron’s hall began to feel uneasy. Smiles vanished. Laughter died. Heads began to swim. Bones began to vibrate. Then Doval Lakatos began to play, and the screaming started.

The Baron could feel the power of the pipes. He realized too late that he made a huge mistake. He tried to move, but was powerless to lift even a finger. He could only stare in dawning horror at the old minstrel, the man whose hair was turning white before the Baron’s eyes as he continued to play his deadly tune. Everyone in the hall save Mahala and Doval Lakatos clapped their hands to their ears, desperately trying to drown out the sound. Like the Baron, they stood transfixed, rooted to the spot as blood began to seep from their ruined ears through their fingers and down their cheeks.

Beneath the discordant melody of the pipes other sounds could be heard: screaming, bestial snarls and mad laughter coming from deep below the castle, from the catacombs, where the Baron’s previous wives were interred; a fate surely intended for Mahala, once the Baron tired of her. They burst into the room a short time later; undead things, haggard, filthy and hungry for blood and vengeance. They fell upon the guards and the Baron’s guests, shrieking and tearing into them with ragged claws and broken teeth. The room was soon awash with blood. But they ignored Doval Lakatos and his daughter, who shut her eyes tightly and cowered beneath her chair.

When there were none but he and Mahala left alive in the room, Doval Lakatos finished his tune. He unhooked the pipes from their harness and let the instrument fall to the ground. Then he calmly picked up a fallen sword and approached the Baron, still rooted to his chair, unable to move. With a deft stroke, he cut the Baron’s head from his shoulders and tossed it into the roaring fireplace. Then, he took his daughter by the hand and led her from the castle, through the carnage and the cackling, feasting ghouls, to the pony that waited outside the gates. He kissed and embraced her, then sent her on her way with a heavy heart; for he had a meeting with The Baba Yaga he had to keep, and he did not think he would return.

Once again, the hag was not difficult to find. She was stirring her great mortar and pestle in the shadows of her dancing hut. At the sight of Doval Lakatos, she smiled her terrible grin and beckoned him close. She had felt the passing of the Baron and knew that her evil magic had worked. As such she had the right to claim payment, and claim it she would.

Briefly, The Baba Yaga considered simply swallowing Doval Lakatos whole, as she was hungry again; and he no doubt expected nothing less. But that was not the bargain that was made. No, Doval Lakatos had to lose that which he loved dearly. If not his precious daughter, it could be only one thing.

The Baba Yaga’s curse was powerful, and final. No more would Doval Lakatos compose melodies. No more would he perform with pipe, string or drum. No more could he dance or lift his voice in song; for the price of Mahala’s freedom was Doval Lakatos’s love of music. From that day until the day he died a bitter, miserable man, Doval Lakatos could no longer bear to hear music; every tune, reel, jig or dirge was torture to his ears. He could be a man of celebration no longer; the zils on his tambourine would be forever silent.

Doval Lakatos never regretted the bargain he made to save Mahala, for she was his truest joy; but there were many times he wished that The Baba Yaga had simply swallowed him whole.

Monster Month starts in five days, and there’s still time to get in on the fun! Just drop me a comment here or email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com and let me know you want to participate! As of now, we have some of the usual suspects as well as some new faces! Check them out below:

I have a big project planned, and some stuff left over from last year that I need to get off my desk (yes, really!). Looking forward to seeing what everyone else does!

2021 Resolutions

Today, I thought I’d try to get things back to whatever passes for normal around here.

Usually I would do a post like Mark A. Morin and many others did; where I first rate my performance against last year’s resolutions before making new ones. I did that last year, but when I went back and looked, it doesn’t seem like I actually made any resolutions for 2020. I think I forgot to; but somewhere along the way, I must have silently resolved to finish all my Star Trek miniatures, because that was one thing I did manage to do!

Mostly, anyway. I would have succeeded completely, if it weren’t for that meddling Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop, who just had to make some awesome Trek-themed computer consoles and bridge chairs which of course I just had to buy. They’re not done yet. Bummer.

Anyway, this year, I’ve decided not to focus on too much. That’s because every year I resolve to start a new project and/or army, and that never gets done. (I’ve been saying I would start my Old West scenery for years now.) I think in 2021 I will keep it manageable and realistic. I’m going to paint whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want…with some minor guidelines. With that in mind, here are my plans for Dead Dick’s Tavern in 2021:

1: More Roleplaying Stuff. The response to my RPG write-ups has been pretty positive, both on and off Dead Dick’s Tavern. I have some Instagram followers who particularly seem to enjoy them. They correspond with me about my blog, but never leave comments here. (You can do that, guys. Really!) Anyway, expect to see more exploits of the USS Adventure, as well as some other games I run. Expect to see something new soon.

2. One character a month. I came to miniature gaming through roleplaying games, specifically Dungeons & Dragons. With this in mind, I’m going to set a fun challenge for myself: each month, I’m going to paint one model based on a classic character class from Dungeons & Dragons. So, I may do a cleric in January, a fighter in February, etc… I’m not going to officially limit myself by assigning classes to months (whatever I feel like painting, I will paint, remember?); but by the end of the year I should have 12 different characters painted. This will give me an excuse to paint some of my Reaper miniatures that have been sitting around for years in their blisters. Watch for the first one soon!

3. Painting challenges. I like them. In May, I’ll be hosting Monster May(hem) again (blame Roger for the name); so get your monsters ready by then if you want to take part. I will most certainly be participating in Forgotten Heroes again in June, because it’s so much fun. (I expect to see Big Wheel, Jeremy.) If Dave hosts the Summer of Scenery again, I’m in; I never would have got my sludge pool done last year if it weren’t for him. I’d also like to do Fem-bruary for the first time this year, after learning of it by listening to the Imperial Rebel Ork podast. I gather it involves painting at least one female miniature in February; I’ll go one better and paint ALL female miniatures in February (I have a lot of them to paint).

4. More After Action Reports. I love playing games, and I love blogging about them. Expect to see more; a pulp game that’s been set up for months (but sadly unplayed as of yet); and likely more Star Trek games down the road (which should please Dave).

Santa brought me this stuff, and I just wanted to share it with you all. First, some 5/64″ wire, perfect for pinning pesky models that don’t want to cooperate. I was running low, and it’s amazing how St. Nick just seemed to know what I needed. Second, some Gorilla Glue gel; a perfect stocking stuffer for any miniatures enthusiast. Lastly: this magnifying visor that has CHANGED MY LIFE.

I’ve been using reading glasses to paint for a few years now, as I can’t seem to see shit anymore. This visor is so much better. First, it has a selection of magnifying lenses you can swap out or flip up, which is quite helpful. Second, it has a two-setting LED light right on the front, which illuminates areas on the miniature like the face, which can be problematic to paint when you can’t see shit. Third, it doesn’t take batteries: it’s rechargeable with a USB port. Last and most important, it’s comfortable. It fits snugly around my head, and doesn’t annoy me. I love this thing. I recently used it to help me assemble some Cruel Seas ships (I hate assembling plastic models).

Although I don’t ask Santa how much she pays for stuff (that would be gauche), I found these on Amazon for $30. (Worth it!)

That’s about it for now. I’m off to choose my first character class for my new challenge!