Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Foxes!

The Fox crewmen for my Ghost Archipelago campaign (Splintered Light Miniatures)
I thought I was done with my Ghost Archipelago crews for my players, but then another friend expressed interest in playing, as well. I sorted through my Splintered Light Miniatures animals, slapped my head with a "Doh!" when I found four more unpainted crews already sorted out, and picked the foxes to paint. When I was looking through the unpainted lead bag, I was surprised how few poses there really were. I would end up having to use the same figure pose two of the five-man crews. Not to worry, though, as one of them would be the Warden and he would be substantially modified.
The Fox crew's leader, or Heritor,  in Ghost Archipelago terms
Starting with the figure I picked out to be the crew's Heritor, there really wasn't much choice. He was so obviously a leader figure, from the cape to the heavier armor, to the pointing, commanding arm. Since he was leader, I had to give him a purple cloak in my favorite Ral Partha "Tongue Purple" color, and dry brushed in a lighter shade. The detail in the figure's chainmail made it easy to paint. I spiced it up a bit with a bronze helmet, and some gold armbands. Although there is not a lot of "fox" showing on this fig, I really liked the way her turned out.
The Fox crew's modified Warden, or spellcaster. I added an Iron Wind 25mm fox to the base as a familiar
This figure is the same pose as the middle one below (and at top - sorry for the repeat photograph). The big modification was to cut out the large sword from his left hand and replace it with a banded staff. I used some beads from another project to build the staff, gluing the top half under the hand and the top half onto the fist. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. It may be a tad chunky, but what the heck? I actually had another photo of the front half of the Warden, but it was so out of focus I just couldn't bring myself to use it. As a final touch, I added an Iron Wind Metals 25mm fox to the base as a familiar. I have done this with a lot of the crews. If nothing else, it makes it easier to pick out which fig is the Warden!
Deja vu? Yep, these guys again...
I forgot to do a "crew assembled" photograph for the first photo. So, you have to look at this one again -- ha, ha! I did not come up with a fancy theme for this crew -- no medieval quartering, or stripes, or whatever. I figured that the foxes coloring is distinctive enough I really didn't want to compete with that. Once cool touch on the middle figure was how the hair coming off of his face is tied up into locks or braids with ribbons. The sash around the waist also kind of makes him pirate or reggae looking, so maybe I missed an opportunity here. The other two were done in plain tunics with a base color and dry brush. They were all molded with armbands, which I did in copper for this bunch to set off the reddish tone of their fur. Speaking of which, I used Iron Wind metals Red Brown for the base coat, then did a light drybrush of Howard Hues Middle East Flesh for their coloring. I always look up Google images of the creatures I am painting so I can get the fur patterns as correct as possible.

So, will there be yet another crew to be painted? Perhaps. I kicked myself when I found the box where I had pre-sorted figures for another 3-4 warbands. I certainly have the unpainted lead. And who knows? Maybe another friend will jump in and want to play!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ghost Archipelago scenics - walls, pits, and such

A Mouse Vine Warden surrounds himself with barriers of Brambles in  Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago
 The last things I needed to get done before this coming Sunday's first Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago game were various small, scenic bits. The rules allow for characters to magically create pits or walls made of stone, earth, or plants. Rather than set up a (hopefully) beautiful tabletop and then throw down pieces of felt for these things, I set out to create them in flocked, 3-D.
I created four Brambles - the core of which were hedges from JTT Scenery Products, with copious clump flocking added
First up, my favorite: Brambles - a spell cast by Vine Wardens. This creates a 6" long, 1" high and wide barrier of vegetation. I made four of them, and was really happy with how they turned out. I started out with some purchased product -- one package of Long Hedges, 2/pack, by JTT Scenery Products. I bought mine at Hobby Lobby, but I've seen this line carried at a number of hobby and model railroad shops. The hedges are rectangular, green-dyed foam, which I cut and attached to appropriate sized bases of styrene plastic. To help them stay put, I stuck two straight pins through the bottom of the styrene base, impaling the curving piece of foam to hold it in place while the Tacky Glue dried. Next, I flocked the base - first with brown fine ballast, then Earth Turk and Blended Green Grass from Woodland Scenics.
I could have stopped at this point, but they would have looked very plain. I then put on three different tones of Woodland Scenics green clump foliage with white glue. After the first batch of clumps, I actually went back and added more to make it look more wild and overgrown. As a final touch, I took some JTT Scenery Products flowers and glued one on each side to give it a splash of color. These were definitely my favorite of the magical walls I created.
Two Earthen Walls cast by a Satyr Earth Warden, created by flocking atop Hirst Arts plaster molds
Next up, were Earthen Walls. In Ghost Archipelago, Earth Wardens can create a 3" long, by 2" high, and 1" wide wall of earth to block enemies. For this, I dug up some unused plaster castings from Hirst Arts molds given to me long ago by my friend Zeke. As it turned out, a half dozen of them arranged in a 2x3 rectangle were the perfect size. I glued these in place with Tacky Glue, once again onto the correct size of styrene plastic. Next, I coated them just as I do my standard base flocking. I begin by painting the base with a mix of white glue and brown paint. This is coated with brown, fine ballast. Once dry, I paint the ballast with a 50/50 mix of white glue and water, and sprinkle on Woodland Scenics Earth Turf. Finally, once dry again, I paint it with white glue and sprinkle on Woodland Scenics Blended Grass.
A Pine Marten Earth Warden shelters amid four Parapets he has cast, also created from Hirst Arts molds
The third magical wall is a Parapet, also created by the Earth Warden. This stone barrier is the smallest, at 2" long, and 1/2" in height. It is intended (I believe) to be a place to shoot from cover, whereas the other barriers are meant to block line of sight. For this, I once again dug out some unused Hirst Arts plaster castings, and glued them to a base. All the bases also have magnetic material underneath for my storage system. This stone I painted black, then drybrushed a darker then lighter gray. Flocking was done as above, and these were complete, as well.
A Weasel Earth Warden amidst four Pits cast earlier to entrap enemy characters or monsters
The final scenic item was four Pits - another Earth Warden spell meant to be cast underneath a player, hopefully forcing them to all into it and spend time climbing back out again. The size of these was driven by my figures' bases. So, I cut four squares that would leave room for one of my bases and scenic buildup all around it. As the core of the ring of built up area are small stones glued in a rough circle around an area slightly larger than my hexagonal bases. I covered these with the same mixture of ballast and turf detailed above. Finally, the inner circular area was painted in three darkening shades of brown. Nothing spectacular, but nevertheless better than a piece of felt.

I also created "Blood burn" markers from wooden cubes. I painted then dark red, then speckled them in a brighter red pattern to evoke blood. On each cube, I numbered in black Sharpie #1-#6 (for how many times that Heritor has attempted to use an ability on that turn), along with the appropriate modifier for casting/utilizing it next time. I even placed a small arrow showing what direction to rotate the cube...! They are functional looking -- nothing spectacular.

With that, I am all set for next week's game! It has been a long time coming, but I am finally ready to begin running my Ghost Archipelago campaign!!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Aquarium Pieces as Ruined Temples

An Aquarium piece from Blue Ribbon representing Cambodia's famous Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat
One of the perks of the long hours and hectic schedule of teaching in a public school is that I often receive gift cards for Christmas or at the end of the school year, as thanks from appreciative parents. I'd accumulated a few Amazon ones this year, so decided to finally pick up some aquarium pieces I'd seen others using and I had been wanting for a long time. Specifically, the Blue Ribbon Angkor Wat pieces. My Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago campaign will be set in a post-Apocalyptic Southeast Asia, so they will go great with the scratch-built temples I made for my Pulp games a couple years ago.
The ruined Bayon Temple looms out of the jungle, encrusted in vegetation
I was able to get three of them. Number one on my list was the Bayon Temple -- the famous ruin with the heads which look out in four directions. The piece is fairly large -- 9 1/2 inches tall by 6 inches wide. The first thing I noticed about these pieces is how well painted they actually are. I had assumed it would be a cheap, assembly line paint job and that I would be repainting them. Instead, I decided to keep the paint jobs as is.
I was surprised by how good the "out of the box" paint job was, so decided to keep it, adding only flocking
The only thing I did was re-flock the vegetation on them. In this temple's case, I added quite a bit. First, I painted select parts of the temple with white glue, then I flocked that glue with Woodland Scenics mixed green. Once that was dry, I blobbed on white glue on top of the flocking and applied darker clump foliage by Woodland Scenics. This gives it more of a three dimensional effect, as well as makes it look more encrusted in jungle vegetation.
A giant Khmer head rises up out of the jungle
 The next piece I purchased was a giant statue of a Khmer head. All of the vines you see are part of the terrain piece -- the only thing I did was to apply actual flocking to the piece. I thought the factory artists did a decent job of dry brushing the brown of the vines over a black base coat. I really like how this one has a tumbled column in front of it. The size is fairly massive, too -- 7 inches tall by about 6 inches wide. The back face of it (not shown), is simply carved into stone blocks. 
A close up of the statue, showing the clump foliage and flocking I applied.
I thought they did a good job creating this statue, realistically showing the seams in the stones that were used to create the massive face. They also got the thick, Khmer lips and drooping ear lobes right, as well. Good research and nice sculpting.
A Kneeling Buddha rises out of the jungle, a relic of lost civilizations
The third and final piece is a kneeling Buddha statue, holding a broken column in its cupped hands. Strangely, this one was already covered in the factory's poor attempt at flocking. They used a tall, green static grass that looked very odd and unrealistic. I painted over all of this with white glue and re-flocked it all. This piece definitely required the most reworking. However, it fits well with the Southeast Asian theme for my archipelago.

All in all, a great addition to my terrain for my games. I can't wait to see my table layed out with all of the temples! Should be fairly striking...

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Monster Named "Kevin"

On the hunt for chocolate - a "Kevin" prowls the jungle
I posted my first Prehistoric Bird picture awhile back, but I had two more unpainted that I wanted to get around to being ready for the tabletop. Because with my luck, the first random encounter with one of these in my Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago games, will be followed up by an identical roll on the table and a second one will appear. So, I now have three "Kevins!"
I painted two more of these 28mm Prehistoric birds from Iron Wind Metals to go with the one I'd finished awhile back
As I explained in my earlier post, I am a huge fan of the animated movie, "Up." One of the characters is a South American prehistoric bird that is adopted by a boy who shows up and promptly names him (actually her) Kevin. I even painted the miniature to look as much like the bird in the movie as I could. Some may scoff at this, but how do we really know what color schemes are appropriate for prehistoric creatures...?
Color scheme inspired by my favorite animated movie of all time - "Up."
This post is also from Iron Wind Metals, formerly Ral Partha. It is a bit more aggressive than the first (but taller) one I painted. It reminds me of the scene when the main character is trying to shoo away the bird and it closes in on him menacingly. Anyway, one good side not of getting ready to run this game is I am painting up a LOT of creatures I have had sitting in my bins unpainted for a looong time.
"Oh, please be my prisoner!" Kevin and Doug from the movie Up
Next up? For deer stags and a wraith. And then I will begin on a new breed of Splintered Light Miniatures animal crews for players to choose from, since mine are now officially all selected.