Well, I did it. I wasn’t always on time, but I managed to get all 12 Dungeons & Dragons character classes painted, along with backstories (mostly), over the course of 2021. I figured I’d do a quick recap with handy-dandy links to review all my characters before my next post, in which I will discuss my 2022 Resolitions and my plans for Dead Dick’s Tavern in the coming year.
While all the core classes are here, I opted only for “classic” D&D fantasy races. Upon looking at these, I see that Humans, Elves, Half-Elves, Halflings, and Half-Orcs are all here. (I can’t believe I somehow forgot to include Gnomes and my favorite fantasy race of all, Dwarves. How’d that happen?) Newer gamers may notice I ignored most of the current races utterly. Thus there are no Aarakocra, Aasimar, Dragonborn, Genasi, Goliaths, Kenku, Kitsune, Tieflings, Tortles, Tabaxi, or fucking Warforged represented here, among others. That’s tough shit. I chose what I chose. The reason for this is simple: I don’t like them.
If you like the abovementioned races and any I didn’t mention, and feel that my exclusion is an injustice and affront, feel free to make or submit your own Character of the Month (see below). I get it. I’m old. I dislike the new stuff. I don’t understand the youth of today. You may even think I’m a racist because I don’t like Harefolk. But, since none of the races above, including Harefolk, actually fucking exist, I’m not too concerned about it.
Anyway, here’s the recap, month by month:
January: Kurn Velden, Cleric (War Priest; Avatars of War) Shortest backstory. I was finding my voice.
4. April: Doval Lakatos, Bard (Rupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord, Privateer Press) Probably my favorite miniature of the year, for obvious, bagpipe-related reasons.
5. May: Darl Mandos, Sorcerer (Del Briarberry, Halfling Wizard: Reaper Miniatures) One of my favorite stories, featuring the dastardly Tom the Winker.
6. June: Berjotr Skaldisson, Barbarian (Barbarian Axeman of Icingstead; Reaper Miniatures) Based loosely on a friend’s character, also a fun story to write.
7. July: Sarapen Moonsilver, Druid (Juliana, Herbalist; Reaper Miniatures) I get the most compliments on this one, probably because of her base.
8. August: Reverend Mother Mara, Paladin (Mother Superior; Reaper Miniatures) I took the inspiration from her backstory from an article I read (in Dragon, I think) about a character who evicted undead from a family manor by posting the eviction notice on her shield and clearing house. Always thought that was fun.
9. Chloe the Rat, Ranger (Vermina, Rat Queen; Reaper Miniatures) My least favorite miniature and backstory. Just didn’t seem to come together for me. YMMV. She was also late.
10. Bak Mai, Monk (Ogre,Wizards of the Coast D&D Silver Anniversary Collection) The backstory wrote itself. I like the miniature, too.
11. Karsa the Unbound, Warlock(Dark Elf Sorceress, Games Workshop) Another late one. Painted on time, but the backstory was a tough slog.
12. Braska Triskelion, Rogue (Deadly Gamesman, Black Scorpion Miniatures) One of the miniatures I’ve owned the longest; I was glad to get him done. Painting black and white is kind of boring and tedious, though.
The biggest challenge I ran into with this…uh…challenge was writing the backstories in time. Sometimes they came pretty easily (Aramise Del’Arco, Bak Mai); others weren’t so easy (Sarapen Moonsilver, Karsa the Unbound). Lucky for me, this isn’t going to be a problem going forward.
Turns out my buddy Tom (who used to have a blog but doesn’t anymore) is going to host this same challenge on Instagram this year. I told him I will take part, of course; but that I am going to use it as an excuse to paint some old-school lead. I will post my submissions here as well, so expect a lot of Grenadier and Ral Partha miniatures to show up at Dead Dick’s Tavern in 2022. The character backstories are a pain in the ass, though, so I’m not going to bother with them. I know this may make some of you sad (which is actually quite flattering), but the time spent on them is a factor; and I just don’t have it.
Anyway, hope this recap allows you to quickly revisit your favorites or check out any you may have missed. New post soon on plans for 2022!
Note: for the first part, including the scenario rules and character builds, check the previous post here!
The Crimson Hound crept stealthily along the wall to the old courtyard. He could hear the sounds of strange activity from within. He knew that Santa Claus had likely already made use of the stolen blasphemous tome known as the Malificarium Infernus to summon some otherworldly horror to Glumengrad, but nothing could prepare him for what he saw when he rounded the wall and gazed fully upon the hideous, writhing form of Savirax the Unclean.
“The promised sacrifice has arrived,” said Savirax the Unclean, in a voice like screeching fingernails on a hellish chalkboard. So much for stealth, thought The Crimson Hound.
“HO HO HO!” laughed Santa. “Right on time!” Santa stood, surrounded by some rough-looking men, all of whom were casting nervous glances at the undulating, viscous thing that was Savirax the Unclean. “I knew you’d show up,” said Santa. “Counted on it, in fact! Now, I can sacrifice you like I promised, and get my reward!”
The Crimson Hound’s eyes narrowed. Something didn’t make sense. This sounded personal, and The Crimson Hound couldn’t recall ever running afoul of Santa Claus before. He was pretty sure he would have remembered.
“Why me?” asked The Crimson Hound.
“Because,” answered Santa, “I promised Savirax the Unclean the soul of a supernatural creature in exchange for my heart’s desire. Isn’t that right, Savirax the Unclean?”
“Yes,” said Savirax the Unclean, because it would have been rude not to answer.
“And what’s that?” asked The Crimson Hound. “Your heart’s desire, I mean.” He was genuinely curious.
“Finally, someone asks!” yelled Santa, opening his arms theatrically wide. He glared at his henchmen. “Not one of you assholes ever gave a shit enough to even ask. This guy,” Santa pointed at The Crimson Hound, “THIS GUY asks, and he’s the one who’s going to die!” One by one, Santa’s henchmen muttered and looked at the ground sheepishly. “Fine!” Santa bellowed. “I’ll tell you. I want to live out the rest of my days on a tropical island in the sun, some place like Tahiti!”
“That’s it?” The Crimson Hound blinked in confusion. “That’s all you want? Why not just go to Tahiti? You have a flying sleigh!”
“Fuck you!” yelled Santa. “It’s not about Tahiti! I want to have a new island full of naked, voluptuous women, all for me! My island is gonna look like a fucking never-ending Russ Meyer movie! That’s what I want! And I’ve earned it, damn it!”
The Crimson Hound thought that Santa’s heart’s desire lacked imagination and was kind of sexist, but he didn’t say anything. He just stared at Santa Claus while Savirax the Unclean writhed and twisted nearby.
“Screw this,” yelled Santa, pointing at The Crimson Hound with a green-mittened hand. “Get him!”
Turn 1: Cue the Wilhelm scream!! The first henchman, Bob, is grabbed by the slimy tentacles of Savirax the Unclean and swallowed whole! (In fact, this AAR may be best enjoyed by playing the Wilhelm scream effect at the start of every round. You can find it here.)
Poor Bob. He was a henchman by necessity, not choice. Until recently, he was the manager at a national auto parts chain store; but he was the victim of corporate layoffs. Although he’d laugh to hear anyone say so, Bob apparently made too much money for the company’s bean counters. The company was looking to hire some millennial at half the salary. You try to do what’s best for your kids, but you’re not made of money, you know? Bob had saved and saved to send his daughter Candace to college, and he had enough for the tuition and room and board. But it’s the books, man. The cost of books fucking kill you. Bob was only working for Santa for the book money for Candace to go to school and realize her lifelong dream of becoming a marine biologist; something she vowed to do at the age of six, when one of her pet goldfish met an untimely end due to incorrect fishbowl ph.
Anyway, Bob’s dead now; which makes Candace’s marine biologist aspirations a bit unrealistic to say the least.
On the first turn, nothing much happens. The Crimson Hound wins initiative and bolts over to the stack of presents on the lower right, using his action to hide. The henchmen group closest to him (minus poor Bob) fails to spot him; but the other henchmen group and Santa both see him and open fire! The henchmen shoot like henchmen and fail to hit, but Santa’s big shotgun blows a hole in the presents, clipping the Crimson Hound for 1 damage!
Turn 2: (Wilhelm scream) Savirax the Unclean helps itself to another henchman. This time it’s poor Moe! Moe ran a successful insurance business; but then had a mid-life crisis, bought a motorcycle, got an earring and decided he missed his calling as a tough guy, so he joined Santa’s crew for kicks. Bet he regrets it now!
The Crimson Hound wins initiative again, and he wastes no time. He leaps atop the stack of presents, bares his fangs and charges into the group of four henchmen, dealing swift death!
The Hound drops in their midst, landing atop one thug with a sickening crunch as his rib cage shatters beneath the Hound’s weight! Another goes down fountaining blood as the Hound swiftly drags his razor-sharp, magical shortsword across his throat in a vicious backhanded slash!
The remaining two thugs attack the Hound, but they are severely outclassed! The Hound snatches a baseball bat from one and breaks it over the man’s head, splintering the wood; then drives the splintered end through the remaining goon’s throat for good measure. Don’t fuck with the Crimson Hound!
(In game terms, the Hound dealt two damage on the charge, dropping two henchmen. The remaining two thugs responded but failed to do any damage, which activated the Hound’s “Reflection” power. As part of his “Scrapper” major power, the Hound has a chance to inflict 2 damage on any attacker who misses a melee attack against him. He succeeded, and did two more damage, dropping the remaining henchmen!)
Unfortunately, this leaves the Crimson Hound out in the open. In response to his brutal assault, both Santa and the remaining henchmen group open fire! The henchmen, perhaps distracted by the amorphous, otherworldly thing that just devoured two of them, miss horribly. But Santa’s shotgun nails the Crimson Hound squarely in the chest for a whopping 4 damage! This drops the Crimson Hound’s Body to 2! The Hound is hurt!
“YEEEARRRGH!”, screamed the Crimson Hound as he took the full blast of Santa’s shotgun. He ducked behind the stack of presents, gasping for air. “HO HO HO!” laughed Santa. “Hurts,doesn’t it? Remember, I’m Saint Nick, bitch! All my weapons are holy! HO HO HO!”
“I’m coming for you, asshole,” cursed the Crimson Hound through gritted teeth.But he received only more mocking, jolly laughter in return.
Turn 3: (Wilhelm scream) Say goodbye to Linus. Savirax the Unclean devours him, and he seems oddly resigned to it. That’s because four years ago Linus decided to do something about his perpetual loneliness by procuring a mail-order bride from Belarus. She looked nothing like her picture, gave him chlamydia on their wedding night, immediately started cheating on him and then proceeded to bankrupt him through her frivolous spending and terrible gambling habit. Linus has been working as a goon just to make money to keep the loan sharks at bay. He’s better off this way. Trust me.
The Crimson Hound retains initiative, and it’s a good thing. He runs away, trying to gain enough ground to put some cover between him and that cannon Santa is wielding. He ducks behind a cement planter and hopes for the best. The henchman group and Santa pursue him, opening fire on his position; but the hard cover afforded by the concrete manages to save the Crimson Hound from any further damage!
Turn 4: (Wilhelm scream) Savirax the Unclean snatches up Phil in its slimy pseudopods and drags him screaming into its mouth. Phil has managed to lead a life completely devoid of anything even remotely significant; getting devoured by Savirax the Unclean is the single noteworthy thing that Phil has ever had happen to him in all his 43 years. Rest in peace, Phil.
The bad guys get initiative, and the henchmen group sends another ineffectual volley of fire at the Crimson Hound. The Hound vaults the planter and charges the group, shredding them like tissue paper on Christmas morning (or so he’s heard; no one has ever given the Crimson Hound a Christmas present to open). He rams his sword through the first goon’s sternum and slices downward, slitting him open like an envelope; then grabs the second and, using his dreadful fangs, tears the man’s throat out in a bloody, tattered mess. Then, the Crimson Hound does what he does best (and what he does best isn’t very nice). In a few seconds, both men are completely drained of blood. The Crimson Hound feels invigorated as his wounds began to knit together!
In game terms, the Crimson Hound scored a whopping 9 goals on his attack, which was impossible for the remaining two henchmen to ever resist. He effectively obliterated them. Then he rolled his vampiric healing power, and this is what he got:
That’s six goals, enough to heal 3 boxes of damage. The Crimson Hound is back up to 5 Body. He’s still in the fight!
Santa moves into position and opens fire. Although he scores 3 goals of damage, The Crimson Hound resists it all! His mouth still dripping the blood of his victims, the Crimson Hound smiles and prepares to charge…
Turn 5: There are no more henchmen left! Savirax the Unclean turns his attention to his promised sacrifice, The Crimson Hound! It attacks with a snaky tentacle, attempting to grapple the Crimson Hound; but the Hound easily evades it. He gains initiative, and charges Santa Claus, moving too fast for Santa to bring his shotgun to bear. The two men crash together and the Crimson Hound deals a savage blow to jolly old St. Nick, slicing through red suit, skin and fat into the muscle beneath! Despite his natural armor, Santa is hurt badly; but he’s not helpless! Santa swings his shotgun like a club, intent on crushing the Crimson Hound’s skull like an egg; but the Hound ducks at the last second and it smashes against his shoulder. The Hound, still enjoying the euphoric effects of the blood he drank, barely feels a thing!
In game terms, The Crimson Hound dealt a respectable 4 goals of damage to Santa, and Santa rolled like absolute shit and failed to resist any damage. HIs Armor power lets him soak 1 box of damage, though, which means he only took 3. That’s still enough to drop Santa to half his Body in one shot. The Crimson Hound could have knocked Santa back 3″, too; but he wanted to keep him close. That would have given Santa the opportunity to fire his shotgun or to make a return charge, and that doesn’t make tactical sense! Santa attacked back, but the Crimson Hound was able to resist the damage.
Turn 6: Savirax the Unclean is officially hangry! It attacks the Crimson Hound again, trying to grab him and hold him so that Santa can make good on his sacrifice. The Crimson Hound is once again able to avoid the tentacles of the monstrous entity!
Santa seizes the initiative and attacks the Crimson Hound once again. This time, he misses horribly, but manages to avoid the Hound’s reflexive counterattack. The Crimson Hound scores a hit, and although Santa shrugs some of it off, he manages to inflict 1 more box of damage on the jolly old elf! This drops Santa down to 2 Body!
Turn 7: Savirax the Unclean has decided it’s going to try one more time; then fuck it, it’s just going to destroy the world. It attacks the Crimson Hound again, trying to flatten him against the ground. The Crimson Hound tries to roll out of the way, but gets clipped for another box of damage, dropping him to 4!
The Crimson Hound gets initiative. It’s all or nothing! The Hound leaps on Santa and buries his fangs into Santa’s shoulder, doing a net 1 goal of damage! Not enough to put down Santa for good! Santa still has 1 Body left!
Santa attacks back, but fails to do any damage. The Crimson Hound desperately ripostes with a flurry of bites, causing 2 goals of damage! Santa manages to soak one, but the last bite drops Santa to the ground as his blood sprays skyward!
In game terms, Santa fell to the Hound’s Reflection ability! After failing to damage the Hound in melee, the Crimson Hound was able to make his roll to reflect, causing 2 damage. Although Santa’s Armor reduced it to 1, that was all he had left! Santa failed his KO roll and was out; just in time to stop Savirax the Unclean from destroying the world!
The Crimson Hound lifted Santa by the fluffy, white trim of his red suit, grinning at him through bloodstained teeth. “You know what?” asked the Crimson Hound. “I just realized something. You visit every kid in the world in one night. You can make reindeer fly. And, fat as you are, you can squeeze up and down chimneys with no problem. If that’s not supernatural, I don’t know what is.” And with that, the Crimson Hound lifted Santa over his head and hurled him straight at the gaping, ravenous maw of Savirax the Unclean.With a mighty gulp and a horrid (Wilhelm) scream, his offering was accepted. Santa Claus was no more!
Savirax the Unclean spit out a shiny, black boot. The Crimson Hound wondered if there was still a foot in it. “You have earned your heart’s desire,” said Savirax the Unclean. “Do you want the same thing?”
The Crimson Hound considered the offer. Sexism aside, there wasn’t much not to like about it. An island paradise surrounded by women of generous proportions was definitely not the worst place to spend some time. He had to admit that as retirement plans went, it was pretty fucking sweet.
But no. He had responsibilities here. Besides, if he accepted, nothing was stopping Savirax the Unclean from sticking around and eating everyone in Glumengrad, then destroying the world. Demons were dicks like that.
“I don’t like the sun much,” saidThe Crimson Hound, “so how about for my heart’s desire, you just fuck off back to wherever you came from, and take that book with you so no one else can use it again?”
Savirax the Unclean looked disappointed, inasmuch as it is possible for amorphous, squamous, blasphemous, unholy entities to look disappointed. “Very well,” it said, coiling one pseudopod around the Maleficarium Infernus. “I’ll leave, I guess.” It hesitated for a moment.
“Well?” asked the Crimson Hound. “Forget something?”
“Uh…Merry Christmas, ” said Savirax the Unclean. Then it disappeared, taking the book with it.
The Crimson Hound smiled. He was touched. No one had ever wished him a Merry Christmas before. “Merry Christmas to you, too, Savirax the Unclean,” he said. Then he turned and disappeared into the night.
God bless us, every one!
Analysis: This AAR reminded me how much I love Super Mission Force. It’s such an easy and fun rules system and I can’t recommend it enough. Not sure if Scott Pyle still drops by the Tavern; but if so, Scott, thanks again for creating such a fun game! This was an absolute treat to play, and it really flew by. The game took only 15 minutes from the first roll to the last; and it really DID come down to the wire. Technically, if Santa hadn’t attacked the Hound at the end, he wouldn’t have gotten killed by the Hound’s Reflection ability; but then again, Savirax the Unclean would have destroyed the world at the start of the next turn, so Santa didn’t have a choice. He had to take the shot if he wanted his heart’s desire!
The Crimson Hound’s Fear power didn’t really come into play because things happened too quickly and too far away from any of the other models. Santa’s Super Strength likewise never saw any use, mainly because Santa never did any damage to the Hound in melee. If he had, the Crimson Hound would have gone flying!
At the end of the game I had the idea that rather than just defeating Santa and saving the day, why not have the Hound sacrifice Santa instead? So, I went back and re-wrote the prose accordingly. Hope you liked it!
To Bruno (the Crimson Hound himself) and to all the readers and visitors to Dead Dick’s Tavern, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (And if you don’t celebrate those holidays, then just have a nice couple of weeks.)
Up next…can I get my December Character of the Month up by the end of the year? guess we’ll see!
From a gargoyle-encrusted rooftop, The Crimson Hound looked out over the neon, gothic city of Glumengrad. At his feet, facing the short wall that ran the length of the roof’s edge, knelt three diminutive forms dressed in bright green, hands bound behind their backs. The Crimson Hound stood behind them, his heavy pistol in one hand, his magical blade in the other. The rooftop was freezing, but the three small men quaked more from fear than cold.
The Crimson Hound took a deep breath, watching as it clouded in the freezing air. “I’m only going to ask this once,” he said, his gravelly voice cutting through the sound of the wind, “and the only thing I want to hear back from you is an answer to my question. Why did Santa steal the book?”
The first elf, for that is what the three men were, began to giggle. “You’ll see! Hee hee hee! Oh, you’ll see! You’re going to die, Hound! Santa has plans for you…urrrghhhh!!” The elf’s voice choked off as The Crimson Hound casually inserted the magical blade into his back, slicing through the elf’s ribcage and bisecting his heart with ease. HIs lifeless body slid off the point of the sword to flop unceremoniously onto the cold rooftop.
The Crimson Hound sighed, stepping behind the second elf. “Please follow my instructions,” he said.
“Wait!” begged the elf, “Don’t kill me! I…” The gun kicked in the Crimson Hound’s fist. Blood and brain matter exploded onto the roof like a Pollock painting, adding to the already-considerable pool still leaving the corpse of the first elf. Blue blood, the Hound noticed with curiosity. Perhaps that was why he had no desire to taste it. Interesting.
The Hound moved behind the final elf. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It seems I have been unclear. Please respond only to the question that was askedof you.”
The third elf straightened up as much as he could, staring directly ahead and trying to ignore the bloody mess his friends had recently become. “Santa wants to destroy the world,” he said.
The Crimson Hound did not expect this answer. He raised the barrel of his gun, aiming it away from the back of the elf’s head. “Explain,” he said.
“I don’t know, man,” the elf said. “Santa just fucking lost it a couple of weeks back. We were all working our asses off in the workshop, as usual, and he was sitting in his big chair, reading a pile of letters. You know, the ones kids send him telling him what they want for Christmas.”
The Crimson Hound nodded. He did not understand children overmuch; but he had heard of this custom. “And?”
“And I guess Santa read something he didn’t like. Some kid bitching that he didn’t get what he wanted last year, telling Santa to get it right this time. Santa just folded up the letter, took off his glasses, and said, ‘Fuck these ungrateful little shitbags! I quit! I’m done with this entitled, piece-of-shit world! I think I’ll destroy it! Christmas is cancelled, assholes!’ Well, we were all pretty shocked, but we weren’t exactly sad about it. Our job sucks, you know.”
“Hmm,” The Crimson Hound said. It is unlikely that anyone could mistake it for a sound of sympathy.
“One thing’s for sure: there’s gonna be a lot of kids on the nice list who will be disappointed this year,” said the elf.
Never in his entire life had The Crimson Hound ever been on a “nice list” of any kind. The Crimson Hound considered that. He realized he didn’t care.One thing was certain, though. If Santa stole the Maleficarium Infernus, he wasn’t doing it to spread holiday cheer. Whatever Santa was planning, he had to be stopped. He had to know The Crimson Hound would come looking for him, though…so what was his game?
“So, uh…can I go now?” asked the elf.
“Hmm? Oh, yeah. Sure,” said The Crimson Hound. He sheathed his weapons, picked up the elf, and tossed him over the side of the roof. The elf screamed all the way down.
It was a long way.
It’s been a long time since I played some Super Mission Force, and I thought that Christmas is the perfect occasion for a Battle Report. Longtime visitors to Dead Dick’s Tavern may recall The Terror of the Toyman a few years back, in which Superman was beset by diabolical toys. It was a lot of fun, so go check it out if you are so inclined.
This time, though; I wanted to do something different. I converted and painted the Crimson Hound for Forgotten Heroes, back in June, and I thought he’d be perfect for a quick game using my favorite Supers rules. The Crimson Hound is, of course, the eponymous star character of the Chronicles of the Crimson Hound YouTube Channel, and the creation of my friend Bruno. You should absolutely check out the Crimson Hound’s adventures if you get a chance.
That being said, I hold no legal rights to the Crimson Hound and I haven’t told Bruno I’m doing this; so I sincerely hope he receives this AAR in the spirit it was intended: written in fun, with good-natured bonhomie and strictly platonic affection. (Please don’t sue me, Bruno.) It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this particular Crimson Hound adventure is certainly not canon; you should check out the Crimson Hound’s adventures on YouTube and on The Chronicles of the Crimson Hound Blog for that. This is just my (somewhat twisted) interpretation of Bruno’s character, and it is almost certainly different in many ways from the character as “officially” written so far.
So, without further ado: The Crimson Hound in…Dreaming of a RED Christmas!
Scenario: Santa Claus is coming to town…and he wants to sacrifice the Crimson Hound to an antediluvian, bilious, chaotic, dreadful, effusive, festering, gibbous, hellish, incongruous, jellified, Kafkaesque, loathsome, membranous, non-Euclidean, odious, pseudopodal, querulous, rugose, sepulchral, tentacled, unspeakable, vaporous, wailing, xenophobic, yammering and zymotic monstrosity called Savirax the Unclean.
Why? Because if he does so, Savirax the Unclean has promised Santa his heart’s desire. Santa has lured the Crimson Hound to this very spot, where he has summoned Savirax the Unclean in preparation for the sacrifice!
What is Santa’s heart’s desire? Who the hell knows? No one, including you, has ever bothered to ask Santa what HE wants for Christmas; and he’s fed up with your selfish entitlement!
Victory Conditions: Santa must defeat the Crimson Hound and sacrifice him to Savirax the Unclean in order to claim his reward: his heart’s desire! The Crimson Hound must defeat Santa and banish Savirax the Unclean before he is sacrificed. If time runs out before either Santa or the Crimson Hound can achieve their goals, then Savirax the Unclean destroys the world in a horrid, blasphemous, squamous orgy of Lovecraftian adjectives, and they both lose!
Forces: The Hero player controls The Crimson Hound, vampiric vigilante and stalker of the night! The villain player controls Santa Claus and two groups of five street-level henchmen each.
Setup: Play is on a 24”x24” surface, representing a courtyard in Glumengrad that some poor, deluded soul has taken the time to decorate for the Christmas holiday. It would normally be a pale light in the darkness of despair that is Glumengrad; but Santa has seized it and corrupted it for his summoning ritual. There is a large Christmas tree in the courtyard, surrounded by Christmas decorations. There are stacks of containers stacked around the yard, painted and decorated as Christmas presents, providing cover and spots to hide.
Savirax the Unclean is deployed in the center of the courtyard, having just been summoned by the evil Santa Claus. Santa is deployed on one side of the courtyard; the Crimson Hound on the other. Scattered loosely throughout the courtyard are ten henchmen models forming two groups of five each.
The Endless Hunger: Savirax the Unclean is not known for its patience. While waiting for its promised sacrifice, Savirax the Unclean will help itself to one hapless henchman at the start of each turn. Simply remove the model as Savirax the Unclean snatches the closest henchman model with one of its snaking pseudopods and deposits the screaming henchman in its stinking hole of a gullet. Over time, this will thin the herd a bit for the Crimson Hound, but it will also hasten the end of the game. If Savirax the unclean has no henchmen left at the start of the a turn, it starts attacking the Crimson Hound directly, instead (see below).
The Thing that Should Not Be: Savirax the Unclean cannot be attacked and/or damaged. Thus it has no statistics. It can (and will), however, attack the Crimson Hound if it has no henchmen left to devour. Savirax the Unclean attacks with a 6D attack at the start of each round if there are no henchmen left. It’s pseudopods can reach anywhere on the board and are unaffected by cover. (There is no hiding from Savirax the Unclean!) Note that Savirax the Unclean will not wait for its promised sacrifice forever. It will only attack the Crimson Hound for three rounds before it gets annoyed and destroys the world.
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.)
Here are my Super Mission Force builds for the characters:
The Crimson Hound (Brawler) Major: Scrapper Minor: Melee Specialist, Resistance (Special: Vampire, Cause Fear); Move 7, Body 7, Psyche 6
Santa Claus (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Power Blasts, Super Strength, Resistance; Move 6 Body 6 Psyche 6
Henchmen (10) Firearms, Close Combat Weapons; Move 6
Be here in a couple of days, when I post the full After Action Report!
This is a tale of two women; one, a loner, a creature of the wild; with but one friend in the world. The other: a princess, cruel and spoiled, with no friends at all.
The girl Chloe was a child of the forest, a foundling. She was raised in the ways of the Pathfinder by Keeler the Guide, a ranger of Rowanwood; and Sarapen Moonsilver, the Barkwarden. Chloe was a peculiar child who grew into a peculiar woman. She took to the teachings of the ranger and druid well enough, but neither could call her daughter or friend. Something was different about her. It was as if she felt no kinship to the forest at all, or to those who lived within. Except for one.
Chloe met the dryad Briarose one day while traversing the Rowanwood alone. Eager for company, the dryad invited Chloe to stay for a while and trade news of Rowanwood, for Briarose could not venture far from her ancient oak and wanted to hear of the forest beyond her reach. Chloe obliged, more from a sense of boredom than anything else; but she soon found herself returning to the dryad’s tree more often, sometimes planning her travels to include Briarose’s grove as a stop along the way. The two became friends, though they could not be more different.
Chloe’s travels took her far throughout the Rowanwood, and she was only able to meet with her friend Briarose once every few months or so. It was during one of these meetings that the dryad told Chloe she had met another girl from the land outside the forest. Her name was Circa, and she was a princess. Princess Circa had stumbled into her grove while hiding from her royal guard, who had accompanied her on what she called a “terribly boring” hunting trip. They spoke for a while and Circa told her how hers was a life of luxury and privilege. She had many servants and everyone obeyed her commands. She invited Briarose to come visit her in her castle. Of course, Briarose had to refuse, as she could not leave her tree. When she told Circa this, the princess got a strange look on her face. A few minutes later, the two heard the sounds of the princess’s hunting party calling for her. Circa left to join them, but told Briarose that they would see each other again soon.
Something about this made Chloe uneasy, but she said nothing. When she returned to the grove several weeks later, she found it uprooted and destroyed. Briarose’s tree lay on the ground. The ancient oak had been ravaged for lumber. She found the body of her friend beneath it, still clinging to the trunk, and she imagined the scene as her friend must have begged and pleaded with those responsible to stop hurting her tree. To stop murdering her.
Chloe knew who was responsible, of course: the spoiled princess, Circa. She wanted Briarose and did not care that the dryad could not come to her court even if she wanted to, for she was bound to the tree. Bring the tree, then, Chloe imagined her saying. Chloe followed the tracks of the princess’s guards to the edge of the forest, where they passed into the plains beyond. She tracked them all the way to Malfort, the capital of Evalaux; and could have tracked them to the castle itself, but there was no need. Chloe knew she could not get to the princess directly. Better to spend her efforts elsewhere.
And she did. Chloe had no friends in Malfort. She had no friends at all, since the death of Briarose. Her first task, then, was to make some. She did not like people, so instead she made friends with the rats of Malfort. All of them.
Within months, Chloe and her rats controlled the entire underworld of Malfort; easily wresting it from the grip of the Thieves’ Guild that operated in the sewers and shadows. Chloe’s legend grew. Rats bred unchecked, spreading disease and pestilence in the city above, spoiling foodstuffs and fouling wells. The people of Montfort cried out to the palace for help. They were suffering. They were dying. Unrest stirred, and the power of the royal family began to shake. Surely the king would do something?
The king could do nothing, because the king was dead. His seneschal found him in his chambers one morning, or what was left of him, anyway. He had been devoured by rats in his sleep. There seemed nowhere Chloe’s rats could not reach.
Princess Circa found herself suddenly in charge in a palace overrun by rats. She barricaded herself inside and hired as many rat catchers as she could from the surrounding towns and cities of Evalaux. She paid them extravagant sums to ply their trade, with promises of riches untold to the one who could rid the palace and the city of the rats. The rat catchers all died horribly; some devoured by rat swarms like the king, some made to ingest the very poisons they employed in their trade. They died, the people despaired, and Chloe’s grip tightened around the princess’s throat.
Over the course of the next several months, Chloe squeezed.
Today, Princess Circa still lives in the ruined palace, though her servants and guards fled long ago. She wanders the halls, incoherent and bedraggled and quite mad, attended only by rats. Outside, life has returned to normal for the people of Malfort. The tides of vermin no longer plague the city as they did. The disease has been checked, commerce and trade has resumed. The wells run clean and the storehouses are safe. All is well again.
But the people know, and they will not forget. Chloe the Rat is now princess of Malfort, and her palace is below the streets.
September’s Character of the Month is a Ranger; albeit a pretty unconventional one. This project has been pretty light on evil characters so far (only Rafinphel the Adored is expressly evil, and he’s not MY character), so I thought it was time. I imagined a ranger so obsessed with vengeance that she usurped nature for her own ends. This is the result.
For Chloe, I used Reaper’s Vermina, the Rat Queen, from their Chronoscope line. There are two versions of this character. This one, sculpted by Werner Klocke, has an anime-vibe to it. The other one is much more Victorian-looking and is sculpted by Patrick Keith. I’ve had this one for many years. She was supposed to be a non-player character in a D&D 3.5 campaign; but the game fell apart before I had a chance to paint her and she’s languished under chipped black primer ever since.
Since it’s obviously not September anymore, Chloe is late. But that’s ok. I have another Character of the Month for October coming by the end of the month; and hopefully more Star Wars, too.
For August’s Character of the Month, I chose to do a Paladin.
When Mother Helen, Preceptress of Cobbage, opened her schoolhouse door to find the abandoned infant on her step, she did not hesitate; for Helen had once served the Sisterhood of Calucia, Guardian of Lost Travelers. Though Helen was a sister no longer and the Sisterhood was no more, she took the child in and cared for her as her own daughter; for what was this poor child if not a lost soul? Helen named the child Mara, who grew to be beloved by all in the small village. She was kind, helpful, charitable and humble. She could also lift a bushel of apples at arms’ length by the age of nine; and by fourteen, she could fully drive a fencepost into hard-packed clay with one swing of her hammer.
Despite (or perhaps because of) her great strength, Mara did not lack suitors when she reached the traditional age of marriage two years later; but Mara had no interest in marrying anyone from the village. These were the same boys who were her playmates for the last sixteen years, and she could not see them now as men. Besides, she needed to care for Mother Helen, who had grown infirm with age, and to assume the duties of Preceptress in her stead; for Mara was easily as wise as she was strong, much wiser than a girl of sixteen years should be.
Towards the end of her life, Mother Helen told Mara her own story; how she left the Sisterhood and came to be Preceptress of the small village of Cobbage. Helen was once a novitiate at Glenstrae Abbey, seat of the Sisterhood of Calucia in far-off Dunlaig. The folk of Dunlaig were a superstitious lot who had no use for magic that was not divine, and the Abbess of Glenstrae, Gertrude, was no exception. One dark and moonless night, an elf maiden sought sanctuary at the Abbey. She was in flight from lawless men who wished her harm; yet the Abbess denied her safety. She was fey, after all; and the Abbess decreed that she would find no comfort among the Sisterhood. When they found her body the next morning on the very grounds of the Abbey itself, the Abbess was unmoved. She ordered the corpse buried in the garden, where “at least it would do some good as fertilizer.”
The sisters were in shock. They felt immediately the loss of their Guardian’s favor, for who was more wayward and in need of aid than the poor elf maiden who begged for help and received only scorn? Still, Gertrude was unrepentant and prideful. She would hear no dissent on the matter, though she felt the loss of communion with Calucia more strongly than most.
A fortnight later, the keening started. The elf maiden had risen as a bean sidhe; and she was not done with the Sisterhood of Calucia. Each night for a month she circled the Abbey, keening and wailing; a horrid sight to behold. The sisters pleaded with the Abbess to repent; but Gertrude remained defiant, poisoned by her deep-rooted hatred of all things fey. With no divine magic to hold it at bay, it was only a matter of time before Glenstrae Abbey’s protections failed and the bean sidhe was able to enter what was once consecrated ground. When she did, her unbridled wrath broke fully upon Gertrude most horribly, but left none alive among the Sisterhood.
None but Helen. Cornered by the bean sidhe among the white and silent corpses of her sisters, Helen closed her eyes and called out to Calucia for deliverance. When she opened them, she found the horrid visage of the undead elf mere inches away, staring at her with an expression the young sister couldn’t comprehend. She blinked, and the thing was gone. Mother Helen told Mara she did not know why the creature let her live, if not to tell the tale of what had become of the fallen Sisterhood and of the once-holy Abbey, now fallen to evil and ruin.
Helen died a few nights later. Mara saw to her burial. Over her grave, Mara vowed that she would do what Helen could not. She would atone for the Abbess’s transgressions. She would rebuild Glenstrae Abbey. She would redeem the Sisterhood of Calucia, or she would die in the attempt.
Mara made her intentions known to the village. The blacksmith provided her with armor and a sword; but Mara did not know how to wield a sword; rather, she knew how to swing a hammer. So the smith forged her a hammer instead, a true weapon of war, not a tool for driving fenceposts. Mara accepted it gratefully, and named it “Correction” in honor of the switch Mother Helen occasionally used to chastise pupils who misbehaved.
The road to Dunlaig was long, and Mara encountered many who needed her help along the way. She fixed wagon-wheels for the stranded; planted and plowed for the infirm; defended the weak and powerless; and clothed and fed the needy as best she could, often going without comfort herself. She did this without complaint or recompense as service to the Guardian Calucia in memory of Mother Helen, the woman who cared for her when no one else would.
When she finally reached Glenstrae Abbey, she found it to be a cursed and bleak ruin shunned by all. In the years since the Sisterhood’s destruction others had come here in search of adventure or to loot the valuables of the vaults. All of them perished when the heard the keening wail of the bean sidhe; for the undead creature spared no one foolish enough to willingly enter the Abbey grounds. Now, these cursed souls had risen and become evil things themselves. They surrounded Mara as she strode boldly up to the gates of the Abbey, whispering foul promises of eternal torment; but Mara was unafraid. She shouted her defiance and commanded the undead horde to leave the Abbey, that this would once again be sacred ground. She invoked the name of Calucia, and something wondrous happened.
The undead hordes shrieked in fear and pain. Many of them simply ceased to exist as the power of Mara’s prayer banished their evil forever. Those that remained quailed in fury and terror; but they soon rallied and leapt to the attack. Mara met them head-on with Correction. Within minutes, she was the only thing moving on the grounds of Glenstrae Abbey. The bean sidhe’s minions were utterly destroyed, shattered into oblivion by the holy power of her warhammer.
Mara knelt in prayer and waited. She did not wait long. The restless spirit of the elf maiden appeared, and let out a keening so horrible that Mara felt all of the rage, humiliation and pain of maiden’s death all at once. She could feel the unbridled evil of the scream as a chill upon her soul and knew that she survived only by Calucia’s grace; for it was more than anyone could bear, and Mara knew that all who had heard it before had died on the spot. In the span of one moment, the scream of the bean sidhe aged Mara a full score years; yet Mara, shaken to her core, still stood, somehow alive.
The undead thing rushed at her, furious. Mara did not raise her weapon in defense. She only watched as the hooked claws reached to tear her limb from limb, and she spoke only two words. “I’m sorry.”
The bean sidhe stopped. For a moment, the two women stared at each other; for the undead elf maiden looked then much as she did in life: beautiful and fey. Mara stepped forward and embraced her. The bean sidhe slumped and let out a sigh. Then it vanished.
Mara found herself Abbess of Glenstrae. She spent the next several years rebuilding the convent, doing much of the physical labor herself. She exhumed the bones of the elf maiden and reburied them in a place of honor alongside Mother Helen, whose remains she brought back from Cobbage to rest on Abbey grounds. Her good and charitable deeds regained the favor of Calucia, and the Abbey was soon home to novitiates once more. The Sisterhood of Calucia was born anew.
Reverend Mother Mara is Reaper’s Mother Superior, sculpted by Werner Klocke. I was wondering what miniature I was going to use for a paladin. I seem to have picked up this one in a trade and forgot all about it, which only goes to show that (surprise) I have too many miniatures. She was fun to paint, if not particularly challenging.
Up next: My Season of Scenery submissions! Then on to STAR WARS!!!!!
For July’s Character of the Month, I chose to do one of my least favorite character classes: the Druid.
Loan the Barkwarden first came upon the girl in a glade deep in the Rowanwood, a basket of mushrooms nearby and a dead fox cradled in her lap. He knew who she was, of course; her silvery-white hair and slightly pointed ears made that much obvious. She was Sarapen, the herbalist’s daughter. That explained the mushrooms; but not the fox. Nor did it explain why the girl was so deep in the wood. No young girl should venture this far into the wild, dark and ancient Rowanwood unaccompanied, for Loan knew of at least a dozen creatures and plants within a stone’s throw that could easily kill her as dead as the fox in her lap. It was unlikely she was lost, though; she seemed unconcerned and unafraid. In fact, she was humming softly.
Sarapen Moonsilver looked up as Loan strode out of the surrounding wood to tower above her. The Barkwarden was huge, a head taller than most men, with tangled brown hair and deep, cobalt blue eyes. His matted and filthy beard hung to his waist, home to all manner of woodland vermin. Various crystals, dried herbs and roots dangled from his tattered robes and from the crooked blackthorn staff he bore. His hands and nails were black with dirt and he stank of the forest. Most children would have screamed and cowered in terror of such a man, but Sarapen Moonsilver did not.
Loan the Barkwarden gazed upon her with blue eyes ablaze. She stared back. “That fox is dead,” he said. The girl nodded. “Did you kill her?”
“No. She was my friend,” said Sarapen Moonsilver. “She was dying and asked me to stay with her.” Gently, she lifted the fox from her lap and lay it down next to her on the grass. She smoothed her skirt, retrieved her basket, and stood.
She shrugged. “It was her time.” Loan watched her in silence. A strange girl to be sure, but nothing simple about her. Suddenly, she gave the Barkwarden a penetrating look. “Are you my father?”
Loan the Barkwarden would have laughed, but it had been so long he had forgotten how to do so. “No,” he said gruffly. “I am not your father, child. Your father was a vain elf stooge named Veril who cared nothing for your mother and cared even less about you, if he knew of you at all.”
If she was hurt by his brutal words, she gave no sign. “You know him?”
“Knew of him, yes. He’s dead now; and no great loss, that. He tried to kill a troll that was minding its own business, simply being a troll. It wanted no trouble, but Veril, pompous ass that he was, decided he would kill the troll, and was killed by it instead.”
“Oh,” said Sarapen Moonsilver.
Loan snorted in derision. “Another fool dead, and never has there been a race more riddled with fools than the elves. Elves live long, and they are the biggest fools of all, because they are fools who think they are wise. In truth, no elf has had a single original thought or come up with a new way of doing anything for thousands of years. What do they do instead? They sit around and sing. How much fucking singing can you do in a thousand years, child?”
Sarapen Moonsilver said she didn’t know.
“Yes, the elves are old,” continued Loan the Barkwarden. “That is why they fear humans, and that is why humans fear elves. And why humans and elves alike fear you.”
“Fear me?” asked Sarapen Moonsilver. “Why should anyone fear me?”
“Because you half-elven, and half-human. You are too much the human for the elves, and too much the elf for the humans. It is no accident you and your mother live apart from both; ignored by the elves while giving out stomach remedies, love potions and hedge-cures for the superstitious folk in the village. Your ears and hair mark you as elvish: fey, magical and exotic, everything humans hate. Your wide hips and strong arms mark you as human: impulsive, brash and new, everything elves despise. Both see in you what they fear the most in each other.”
He had not spoken so many words aloud since before she was born. Loan the Barkwarden turned and walked away into the woods. Sarapen Moonsilver watched him go.
Over the next few years he kept a watchful eye on her secretly, or so he thought at first. She always seemed to sense him, whether he wore his own form or that of a beast or tree of the Rowanwood. She grew to into a beautiful young woman and a fine herbalist in her own right; but it was obvious she was much more than a mere hedge-witch.
Unlike with the fox, Sarapen did weep when, several winters later, it was her mother’s time to die. Sarapen had not encountered Loan the Barkwarden since their first meeting in the clearing years ago; so she was surprised to find him at her mother’s cairn a week after her passing. He had swept the snow from the stone and there was a great number of her mother’s favorite summer flowers and blossoms surrounding the grave. Sarapen knew it was Loan’s magic that caused them to bloom out of season. She knew then, too that Loan the Barkwarden had known her mother well and cared for her in his own way, yet neither had ever spoken of the other.
She approached the old man in the company of her friend and protector, a great bear named Sharn. Loan knew this wise and fierce bear, and he nodded in satisfaction that these two had formed a bond. It meant she was farther along the path than he had realized. He reached out and absently scratched the bear’s muzzle, heedless of any danger; for no creature of the forest held any danger to the Barkwarden of Rowanwood.
“So,” said Loan the Barkwarden, “Your mother’s time of dying has come and gone. You are herbalist now.”
“I suppose that’s true, for now,” she answered. “But it will not soon be so. The trees have spoken to me.”
“What did the trees say, Sarapen Moonsilver?” Loan asked. His voice was uncharacteristically soft. Was she so skilled already?
“They told me that I will be Barkwarden one day,” she said.
“I am the Barkwarden of Rowanwood,” the old man said. “I have been such since many of these trees were saplings.”
“But you will not be forever. All things have their time of dying, Loan.” Sarapen Moonsilver turned from the grave and smiled up at the Grand Druid. “Even you.”
“Yes. Even me.” Loan the Barkwarden nodded, his own smile lost in his great beard.
He suddenly remembered how to laugh.
Sarapen Moonsilver is Reaper’s Juliana, Herbalist; a new sculpt by Bobby Jackson from the Reaper Bones Black line.
As soon as I looked at this miniature I knew I wanted to paint her hair white, so I thought that should be the most striking part of the model, not her clothing. I opted to paint her in subdued colors, in simple clothes that a woman who walks through the forest foraging for herbs and mushrooms would likely wear. Once again, I knew I was going to do a lot of base-work on this one, so I thought her plain clothing would also contrast well with all the color on the base.
I can’t resist using this Vallejo Water Effect stuff since Roger introduced me to it, so I sculpted a pool of water for her to kneel by. I used some railroad-scale flowering bushes to finish it off, and I think it looks pretty darn good.
Fun fact if you want to use this Vallejo stuff: it interacts poorly with super glue. I know this because I was applying drops to the base to affix the flowers, when I discovered there was a little bit of air in the glue nozzle. It spit a small glob of glue directly onto my perfect, shiny and pristine water effect that I had spent two days waiting to dry. Five minutes later, the water effect was clouded and the glue had encapsulated. I had to take it out with a pair of tweezers; but it continued to react to the water effect for about 10 minutes.
My name is The Angry Piper, so can probably guess how I reacted to this development. Afterwards, I applied another layer of the water effect. It seems to be ok now. As am I.
Coming soon, in no particular order: another Battle Report, this time for some Super Mission Force; but don’t worry. The Green Hornet and Kato will return soon…
Also, it’s the Season of Scenery over at Dave Stone’s place; and I ain’t done shit yet. I have a bunch of small pieces I want to get done this year. Things that have been sitting undone for far too long.
And finally, I’m almost done with my Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps miniatures. Once they’re done I will, of course, post them here. Then it’s on to Imperial Assault; if for no reason than to justify my crazed purchases of that discontinued franchise.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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, a 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…
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!