Sunday, 18 February 2018

TL9 Talisman Philiosopher


Last post I waffled on about how my next painting project was to be the Talisman Philosopher - and here he is- as I acquired him last weekend in a trade with Stuart Klatcheff and I was keen to get him painted up as soon as possible. I tinkered away at him all week (as it is half-term) and really enjoyed the leisurely pace I set for myself rather than my usual 'get 'em finished in under two hours' style. 

This miniature derives from the Talisman range (obviously) released by Citadel in 1985 in support of the 2nd Edition of the game. According to my research this philosophical chap was part of Talisman Expansion and was available in a blister alongside a barbarian and a pilgrim. What a strange bunch?

His was painted entirely with Foundry paints, save an ink wash or two and despite looking rather circumspect, he wasn't as straight forwards to finish as I was expecting. I began work on his face by giving him a 2:1 basecoat of flesh and red and highlighted by adding increasing amounts of flesh to the mix. The brightest flesh tone Foundry do (Expert triad) was then used to pick out the final highlights around the nose and checks, as well as picking out the details on the hands. His eyes were painted black and two smaller white dots were then added to the corners - my preferred method for painting human eyes. 

His beard was basecoated in grey and given a dark grey ink wash. This was then highlighted again in layers, adding incresingly brighter tones to the initial mix. I avoided using white to highlight his hair, sticking to the more subtle Boneyard C to avoid him looking too ancient and decrepid. 

His robe took me a couple of attempts to get right. I didn't want him looking too white (like the druid I painted a few years back) and again I opted for my favourite ever set of paints - Boneyard. The middle tone was used as a base and washed over with the darker tone. It was then a simple case of working up the highlights through the triad, mixing the two tones together as I worked through them. I added a few drops of water to each mix to ensure the paint flowed quite thinly onto the model and allowed the colours to blend together. I wanted to achieve a colour similar to linen and I am pleased to report that I am more than satisfied with the result.

His scroll was painted yellow and washed over with chestnut ink. I highlighted up with the yellow triad and mixed in a little Boneyard 9c into the final tone to help smooth out the colour and ensure the parchment looked like parchment. Then it was a simple case of using a brown triad to highlight up his belt and sandals. A tiny touch of gold finished off his belt buckle nicely. 

Thanks to the joys of winter, there wasn't much natural light to capture him in all his glory - but these pictures will do at a pinch. 

I hope you all like him.

Norse dwarf next!

Orlygg



Monday, 12 February 2018

C35 Chaos Warrior Guardsman


Eager to hear the rattle of brushes in water after the excitement of Lead of Winter last Saturday, I got back to work early Sunday morning and managed to get this figure finished off. He has been one of those 'unfinishables' for a while if I am being honest and has lurked reprovingly at the back of my bureau for some months. 

I have had this miniature for quite a few years and have no idea if he was an eBay purchase or the relic of some long forgotten exchange. He has always struck me as unusal as he doesn't seem to crop up very often. Once, in the early days of our flirtations with using Facebook to trade miniatures, some punter popped up specifically searching for him, citing him as the 'chaos judge' and to be fair he does have the whiff of the bar about him. I think it has something to do with the shape of his helmet (careful, Chico!) as from the front it does resemble the ornate whigs that lawyers seem happy to wear when defending the world's nefarious rich. 

But after about thirty-seconds research on-line, I sourced the figure to a 1985 flyer you can see below. It turns out that he is a C35 Guardsman, though clearly of the corpulant variety. 


The model clearly suffered some damage in my care and the tip of his staff had pretty much snapped away. I filed down the break and pinned it back on fairly easily and undercoated him in white. As he looked rather sickly I opted for a Nurglesque colour scheme though looking at the model now he could probably pass muster in any Slaanesh force too. 

I didn't beat about the bush either with the painting, using a variety of simple layered highlights and washes to complete everything from the rusting armour to his long padded jacket. All in all, the perfect model to get my eye back in before moving on to more challenging pieces. 

I hope you all like him. Next up, the Talisman Philosopher that I just swapped with Stuart and I am quite keen to get finished. I love wizardy type miniatures you see! 

Orlygg.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Lead of Winter 2018: Orlygg Rides Again (Yet Again)

Is Paul tickling that camera tripod or casting a machiavellian spell here? Probably both.
Having overcome the first back injury caused by a spot of spontaneous country dancing since at least 1892, Orlygg lurched musically back into the world of Oldhammer in a slightly stiff fashion; with his love of everything Old School Citadel, largely, intact. The Warlords of Albion gaming group met once again at the Wargames Foundry, Newark, the spiritual home of Oldhammer, on a chilly February Weekend to lark about with little lead men. 

As has become atypical, the resulting engagement was fought over the 'big table' (built by Shaun McLaughlin in 2001) who's flock has been churned up by so many of our battles - the table that is, not Shaun. Though I can point out that the table has been spruced up with a number of additional fields since the last time Warhammer Third Edition sprawled nostagically across it! 


I won't attempt to make sense of the game here, as true to form, I spent most of my time chatting to the other players and exploring the ranges of miniatures on show (both from the Foundry's stock and classic '80s Citadel originals). I can say that this particular battle was a manic affair fought between a large force of elves, and their allies, with the beleaguered, but stoic, force of dwarfs. 


Tom Reynolds, Warlord Paul, Nik Turner, John Ratcliffe, Chris Howell, Matthew Street, Andy Atom Taylor and co were present on the day and we had a couple of new members to greet too, most notably James the Yank Patterson, who had gladly abandoned the 4th of July for the insideous allure of Slaanesh and Midlands pastries. 

Paul looks more sinister than usual here. That is hardly a magnaninous visage is it?
As with all games of WFB3, the battle lasted for hours but was fought to a satisfying conclusion, thanks to Paul's ever-skillful GMing and the 20 minute turn rule. We have used this time rule as a basis of our games for some time now and is well worth using yourselves to speed up play. Conceptually it is simple: each side has a mere 20 minutes to complete their entire turn with any moves, magic or combat left unresolved being abandoned. Focus then switches to the opposing side. Additionally, we also begin each game with the majority of the regiments a turn or two away from each other to ensure that combat begins relatively swiftly. 


The Mighty Avenging Tartan-Shirted-One (Bryan Ansell) and his son, Marcus, were our hosts as usual and were as welcoming as ever. I joked with Bryan if he had recieved any royalities from the recent reprinting of the seminal Slaves to Darkness, and he told me that GW had just sent him a copy. They were as eager as ever to discuss anything about their current and classic miniature ranges, and here you can see Stuart Klatcheff and Andy Atom Taylor perusing one of the many trays of treasures that are 'just lying around the place'. 


Deep in game, Chris Howell adjusts the range of his wood elf archers before unleashing a wash of elfy arrows on the advancing dwarf infantry. For notoriously brittle troops, these regiments proved to be astonishingly effective at thinning the enemy ranks, thanks to some adroit dice rolling and clever manuvering.


Synchronised hand positioning aside, can you spot some of the larger units fielded during the battle? A mighty dragon lurches across the fields of Albion, as does a Griffon (which was later spitted by a bolt thrower) and three custom-made tree men built by Andy avoid the flames around the ruins. Quite why the dawrf slayers were deployed miles away from these dangerous foes is a mystery probably only understood by their general. 


Here's a challenge for any true Oldhammerer. Can you spot a character from the Crude, the Mad and the Rusty in this photograph? Big clue - only Achilles has an ankle weaker than he! 


Stuart's painting output would make Axl Rose's album release schedule look positively frequent, but despite having the slowest brush in the west (and east, south and north combined) he fielded a lovely unit of irregular archers who fared quite well (no doubt due to their thick layer of protective gloss) until they were torn to peices by James' Beasts of Slaanesh. 


Chris Howell's elves had seen further work since we last met and thay really did look superb ranked up across the table. These remarkable units are a mere fraction of his collection. I am not sure if the drinks can is part of his army or not, though. 


Lanky lensman, Tom Reynolds, also brought along some elves to the game, though these were of the high variety, with a few dark ones lurking about too. Expect his excellent photographs to appear online in 2019 at the earliest. 


An ever present problem for the dwarf commander is how slow they move. These massed ranks of shorter guys took a real battering from elf missle troops and monsters as the game progressed. 


An ever present problem for my troops is how they don't really move at all! To be honest, I don't really enjoy playing in these larger games (I prefer being a spectator) as I am more of a skirmish gamer. Our next planned game is going to be a smaller scale siege game, that perhaps incorporates some of the original Warhammer Siege rules. 


Dwarf artillery were positioned on the high buff overlooking the battlefield. With the river's bend protecting their position they looked pretty secure. Enemy flyers made short work of them later on in the battle but the organ gun proved it's worth time and time again. 



What do you reckon about this, eh? Could it just possibly be an unpublished piece of art from '80s White Dwarf that the Ansell's have found in their collection? You'd be wrong. It is in fact an 'after Gary Chalk' illustration by our very own Matthew Street named 'A Gathering of Dragons'. It is a visual representation of one of our previous battles presented in the style of the original White Dwarf battle reports. Matthew gave this remarkable illustration to Marcus Ansell who promptly framed it! 


Here's a nice close up of two of the flyers that caused so much havoc during the battle. Tom's slate bases give these models a little '90s chic as well as help support these big models on their relatively tiny bases. Nice painting, eh?


Yet again, I had the privilege of opening Bryan's cabinets of chaos and handling some more classic Citadel models. This time, I went straight for the famous unreleased Guard Captain from the Empire range. The one that recently sold for £1200 on eBay. This is, of course, the original painted model from the famous advertisement (which also sports the Nuln Spearman) and I unashamedly snapped my first selfie holding it - much to the amusement of some of my fellow enthusiasts. 


I also had a closer look at the unreleased dwarf wizard who appeared in the original run of combat cards. Holding a tiny piece of Citadel history like this is quite exhilarating and I couldn't resist placing it back into the cabinet next to my own 'Were-Ansell' Midlands Troll in Foundry getup I gave Bryan a few years ago. 


With the day drawing to the end, there was little left to do but pack up the legions of models and spend a little hard-earned cash on just a few more miniatures for the leadpile. The Citadel Collector, Steve Casey, couldn't resist mumbling a few appreciative noises about the Indian Mutiny range and how much he loves WW2 Germans now before collasping in the mud outside the Foundry premises. The soggy English weather had bogged down many of our cars in mud and we all had to help push them out back into the road; Steve single handedly freed Tom from his muddy prision and returned over £200 of recent GW releases at the same time. 

Having such fun with a bunch of like minded individuals, sharing stories of our collecting adventures and generally mucking about with toy soliders is so rewarding. And if anyone ever asked me what Oldhamer really means again, I would simply repeat the previous sentence. 

Forget the rulesets and go find some real friends. 

Orlygg

"Typical, those cuffs have been painted in light blue when surely everyone knows that 101st always used indigo," Steve complained indignantly.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Nurgle Daemon Prototypes?



I doubt Socrates envisioned late 20th Century toy soldiers when he remarked that "an unexamined life is not worth living" but his laconic statement still rings true despite the passing of the millenia. Inspiration, truth and wisdom are worthy goals for any individual (including classic Warhammer enthusiasts like me) and when some tiny mote of information skitters unexpectedly across the rotting edifice that is Facebook it is hard not to become inspired. 

A few days past, Ross Leach shared the above image and wondered if there was any further information available about this rancid chap. If you didn't know already is is an unreleased Great Unclean One from the late 1980s and was reportedly sculpted by Nick Bibby just before he left Citadel Miniatures. It was based on the original concept art produced by the Grand Master of Chaos, Tony Ackland and was presumably designed alongside the other daemonic entities for The Lost and the Damned or even Slaves to Darkness. 

By means of comparison, and as far as I am aware, there are no 'unreleased' prototype Greater Daemon models for the remaining chaos gods, though Marauder did produce a later Bloodthirster that never saw the light, it wasn't part of the Citadel range. Further research will reveal a couple of other models suffered from a similar fate around the same time; with a rather pathetic Beast of Nurgle being canned by Bryan Ansell for being totally underwhelming (ie crap). Thanks to the endeavours of Sodemons and Collecting Citadel Miniatures (both essential sites that many a would-be Oldhammerer should spend more time exploring) we know what this model looks like beyond its solitary 'Eavy Metal appearance, but even with a funky modern paint job this creature is lacklustre at best. 

 
Despite resembling an unfortunate 'foot trodden' casualty of some long lost carpet based skirmish, this rejected rotter wasn't intended to go it alone. Just like Lassie the Wonder Dog, he had a handler though I doubt this co-conspiritor would have uttered the immortal words 'I think he/she wants us to follow him/her'. Certainly not if they wanted to get anywhere quickly! The handler is harder to find online, though as you can see both painted and unpainted versions exist out there (again thanks to Sodemons and CCM) and I have never seen one of sale on eBay. Though, not even GW legend Phil Lewis can bring out the joy in this sculpt, as the painted figure below illustrates.

                

This wasn't the only plaguebearer to flunk at muster, as the famous Combat Card example will attest when not frustrating completists and obsessives. Take a flick through the Monster deck published in the late 1980s and you will meet this chap painted in rather sickly glory by our old friend, Darren Matthews. The same figure also appeared in White Dwarf and is presented below alongside the unpainted version.

     


Before researching the models for this post, I always assumed that the unreleased plaguebearer was a single cast model similar in size and scope to the later Kev Adams examples. I wonder if the original idea was to have had different bodies and heads to aid variation, after all both the contemporary pink horrors and the bloodletter models were two piece creatures? This example is certainly a stronger candiate for release but for whatever reason never saw the light of day, mostly likely because of the better, single cast versions that hit the racks in 1989. These would have been much cheaper to produce I would imagine. 

Thanks to the ever enigmatic fsfminiatures relentless dumping of obscure models on eBay over the last couple of years, we also know that the famous Great Unclean One unreleased model  was also multi-part and similar to the miniatures that were eventually sold to the public, though as you can see, the arms were part of the torso section rather than individual pieces. 



Returning to Socrates and his thoughts about examination of life, don't you find it rather intriguing that there are quite so many many jettisoned Nurgle models out there? I mean, there is a Greater Daemon, a beast (and his handler) and a plaguebearer all jostling for position on many a collector's list of wants - that is practically an entire pantheon! It is not hard to see Nicky Bibby's hand in the GUO, beast and the handler - though it is only fair to say that the genius we saw in the Great Spined Dragon is not on display here and it is tempting to hypothesise on the reasons why, esepcially considering Bibby parted company with GW around this time and the resulting years have muddied the waters with rumour. But this is just simple conjecture and I doubt very much we have a similar situation to the infamous 'Nagash's Head Incident' on our hands here, more likely a range that just didn't cut the mustard first time around. 

The unusual nature of the models did spur an interesting discussion between several GW heavyweights (intellectually speaking, rather than in mass) which I have had the foresight to preserve here. Ross' question led Tony Ackland, Tony Hough, Mike Brunton and Andy Hoare to exchange some intriguing factoids which conform this hypothesis. 

On the subject of the GUO, Mike Brunton assured Ross that he had an example in his own collection and that it 'weighed far too much to ever be put into production at a sensible price'. Perhaps giving us the true raison d'etre for this version of the daemon being sent to Coventry, rather than on aesthetics alone. This seems to be confirmed by Tony Ackland who took friendly exception to the term 'prototype' being used to describe the model. 'The thing is that the use of prototype figures for metal miniatures never really happened. Before a production figure is created there may ben concepts provided, the sculptor might produce sketches, or it may be sculpted off the cuff. I can think of no time a figure was created to be used as a guide to a finished figure. It would more than likely have been a figure that was rejected after seeing what the casting looked like.

So these are not 'prototypes' in the purest terms, just first attempts that for whatever reason didn't make it to market. Models like these need to be be seen in that context when research is taking place, as they are in a separate category to say, models cleared for release that just slipped from the schedule and those who just saw limited release. They are enigmas. Mysteries. What ifs... Any tantilising alternative to a well loved collectible will always elicit speculation and fascination amongst enthusiasts. After all, a life left unexamined is not worth living, even if that 'life' is that of an unreleased 1980s white metal miniature. 

Those of you agonising over not owning one of these rarities may need to wipe away those tears of frustration as we draw this post to a close. Tony Hough, prolific GW artist and one-time keytimer, quipped; 'Don't hate me! I was sent one (unreleased GUO) to use as reference and I never assembled it... In fact, I used one half of it as an inkpot for years when I was illustrating GW stuff and then lost it!' 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

WFRP'd: A Rough Night at the Three Feathers


We arrive at the famous 'Rough Night at Three Feathers' a scenario often regarded as one of GW's finest and an essential roleplaying experience for anyone treading the path of perilous adventure. But is it actually any good? Does it really deserve all the high praise bandied around on blogs and comments sections the world over?

I guess there is only one way to find out. 

One of the main points to remember when discussing this adventure is that there are an awful lot of things going on all at once, with separate and interwoven plots carrying on - just like you'd imagine a night at such a bustling inn would have. Keeping track of all the events can be quite a challenge and I'd say this is one of the more complex adventures I have ever run for players. Quite how the players deal with it all is always amusing, and having played through this scenario a couple of times over the years I must admit to just winging it a few times. 

I know from speaking to others, that some GMs really milk this adventure and run the differing plots as mini-adventures of their own, after all inn based stories are useful when running an adventure with the scope and breadth of the Enemy Within. Who wants to roleplay 'just another night in the inn' style events? I guess how you handle 'Rough Night at the Three Feathers' is up to you, there is after all plenty of scope to tweak the adventure to suit your needs and there are plenty of hooks to cook up into homebrew outings of your own. I feel that this flexibility is one of the reasons behind the popularity of this adventure and why it has become so memrable. 

Oh, and before I continue. SPOILERS lie ahead. 

As with scenarios of this type, the excitement begins after another one of those long day's of travel, with the sun just settling down at dusk as the PCs see an inn in the distance. As they draw closer you can explain how the place looks especailly busy this evening, with coaches unloading and all manner of folk rushing here and there. The presence of some burly looking lackeys, many of whom are dressed in brightly hued liveries, will tell you players that there is something a little out of the ordinary going on here. 

Upon entering the establishment, our PCs will find that the inn is even busier than they expected and it may take some time to be served by the harrassed innkeeper. This provides a neat little opportunity to describe the inn and its patrons in a little more detail than usual and I used to have a field day inventing all kinds of stinking lowlifes and stuck up prigs to annoy my players. 

Once your PCs get the chance to speak to the innkeeper they find him to be the Barliman Butterbur type (with, alas no 'Nob' character to make rude quips about) and he goes on to explain that his staff are all run off their feet because of the arrival of one Maria-Ulrike von Liebewitz, an Imperial noblewoman. Eventually, the PCs can choose their preferred method of staying, either renting a swanky room or dossing down on the floorboards. It is at this point that the adventure begins to differ from other run-of-the-mill inn adventures. As there is so much going on! 


As I have said before, there are seven plots running concurrently and you may feel like removing some or jiggling around their order because on the surface the adventure seems an intimidating one. Don't be put off by the amount of plot you are having to carry, and in my view so many of the stories going on behind the scenes interrelate that having a good bash at the scenario is very worthwhile indeed. Having played through this one several times I cannot say things have ever gone the some way and your PCs will always throw so sort of spanner in the works and do something unexpected. Part of the fun is working out how the other characters will react when they do so. 

Let's have a look at the plots in a little more detail shall we? First up, we have Maria-Ulrike von Liebewitz herself, and her entourage. She has been a naughty girl you see, and after partying too hard is suspected of  being behind a death at one of her aunt's 'events'. Being a toff, she has envoked the ancient right of trial by combat and has in her employ a particularly lethal champion called Bruno. However, agents working for the slighted party (presumably the family of the unfortunate wretch who perished) are attempting to put Bruno out of action and swing the case in their favour. How they will attempt this remains to be seen!

Secondly, we have the young Graf Freidrich von Pfeifruacher who like many of his ilk is having an illicit affair with one Hanna Lastkahn, the daughter of one of the wealthy boatbuilding familes from Grissenwald. Sod's law has been enforced and they have been recognised by one of the servants in von Liebewitz's household. A blackmail attempt will shortly follow. 

Then we have Gustaf Rechtshandler, von Liebewitz's lawyer, who in his younger days dabbled with dubious people and was at one time an unwitting member of a chaos cult of Slaanesh. Despite walking away from the group some years past, it seems that the cultists now want something from him. I doubt it will be to ask how his mother is. 

Moving on, Hanna's affair with her young lover hasn't gone as unregarded as she would have hoped. Her bethrothed has found out about their little tryst and desires a little street justice on Graf Freidrich von Pfeifruacher no matter the consequences. 

While all this is going on, group of ne'er do well smugglers are shifting a suspicious cargo, only this isn't contraband but human merchandise. An agitator, wanted for political crimes, named Josef Aufwiegler, has been drugged and placed into a death-like trance to help ship him away from the danger. The smugglers are dressed like Initiates of Morr, robes and all, and the drug was timed to wear off as soon as they get him on board their boat. Sadly, they have been delayed and are now in a bit of bother. 

Their troubles continue thanks to Ursula Kopfgeld, a bounty hunter, who is hot on their trail. She was close to catching Josef when he 'died' and is suspicious of the matter. 

Finally, the wonderfully named Glimbrin Oddsocks, a Gnomish pickpocket, has plans to lift just about anything he can get his thieving little hands on over the evening. Let's just hope the PCs keep their possessions close to their persons what with everything else goining on! 



The bulk of the scenario that follows is an intricate timeline of events inside the inn. As you would imagine, the various plot threads intertwine in numerous ways until the adventurers become embroiled in the main event. Looking back, the best vantage point for the PCs is always the Bar-Room, as it is here that they will get the chance to notice the varying 'funny goings on' during the night. Whatever they do, you can pretty much guarantee that they will become embroiled in the brawl with Thomas Prahmhandler and his associates (he being the jilted groom-to-be of the lovely Hanna) and that a memorable dagger (or other dangerous object - and you can have some fun with this) will disappear from the possession of one of the PCs and reappear wedged between the shoulder blades of the unfortunate Bruno. 

Our players will be charged with his murder and locked up for the night. Von Liebewitz will officiate the preceedings and this is a fantastic opportunity to put the fear of the Gods into your players. With a guard on the door and one on sentry beneath their window, the future doesn't look too bright and as GM, you can make all those noises that suggest that the PCs have made a grave error indeed and that there is very little that can be done to help extract them from their dire circumstances. 

Of course, they will be saved at the eleventh hour by von Liebewitz. She will explain that her harsh treatment of them was just an act to stablise the situation, and having ordered the rest of the inn's clientele to remain in their rooms until sunrise she is now free to speak to the PCs. Her instructions to them are not plain sailing however, having initially surmised that no-one is going to be stupid enough to leave their own dagger sticking out of the person they just murdered, and that the PCs can clearly handle themselves, she picks the toughest looking in the party to act as her new champion. She is after all on her way to trial and now lacks a suitable champion to fight in her corner. Once the players realise that this isn't an offer, but an order, they will just have to lump the fact that their fate is tied to her for the short term, at least. 


However, von Liebewitz isn't the only patron available to the PCs. Gustaf Rechtshandler will also try and contact them to deal with the blackmail situation, and by deal he means killing those cultists in the most direct way possible. If your players have a history with dealing with the shadowy denizens of the cultist world, this kind of mission may well appeal to them and as GM you have two ways on handling this approach. Have them deal with these malcontents before they are accused of murder (as their attempts to cover up the bloodletting may come undone) as a prologue to the main business with the high born lady, or concurrently - which is my preferred option. Having so much skullduggery going on will give the PCs some real food for thought and provide a series of interesting challenges to overcome. Having to tiptoe around with all this funny business going on also creates a tense, nervewrangling atmosphere. 

As you will imagine, the latter is my preferred option, though I have attempted both when running this scenario. One character worth exploring who is, by her very nature, hard to keep tabs on, and your PCs may miss entirely if they become too self absorbed, is Ursula. We have spoken about her before and if you recall, she is the tough as nails bounty hunter on the trail of Josef Aufwiegler, the agitator currently doped in a bedroom above. Though she connects with Bruno after the arm wrestling affair (more on that later) the PCs may not be there to witness it and the character of Ursula is inclined to keep herself to herself. 

Working her into the narrative is essential in my view, otherwise things won't dawn on the players later on. 


Whoever they work for, and whatever approaches the PCs take towards dealing with the problems that face them, the morning will dawn and a sea of corpses and blood will greet the players. Some of the killings will no doubt be some of their work, but some of the others will be unexplained. If like me, you don't like leaving your players in the dark once play has ended, you may want a 'Scooby-Doo' style character to explain the goings on to the PCs if they are too docile to work it out for themselves; one would hope they could piece the clues together themselves but this is not always possible. 

Whatever the outcome, they will still have the situation with Von Liebewitz to play through, and this is a plot line I can heartedly recommend. The whole business of violent judiciary is quite appealing and I would encourage the nasty GM to only inform the players that the trial of combat is only to first blood just as they are to step out onto the arena. 


Obviously, I have skimmed over a great deal of detail and the scenario is really very well worth a read if you are never going to play it through. To return to the question I posed at the beginning of this post 'is it actually any good?' all I can say is YES. I really does, at least to me, live up to it's reputation and in some places, exceedes it. Let me explain in more detail. 

For me, a great scenario is a tool kit of ideas, and having always found adhering to published rules and lore/fluff tiresome, nothing could be more natural than jumbling or altering ideas to suit my whim and I have always felt that such an approach heightened the experience for my players. But there needs to be the scope to do so. The building blocks need to be there before the tweaking can begin and 'Rough Night' has very deep foundations. The myriad plots help a great deal and as there is so much going on it really keeps players on their toes, even if they are fielding competant characters and have mastered WFRP's game system. The scenario could easily unfold over a single night's gaming if a speed-run is required but a slower burning approach is also possible, perhaps even held in real time over a long night's gaming. 

A great scenario also requires strong and varied characters. Again, 'Rough Night' serves them up in spades. Chaos cultists, babbling barkeeps, rough and ready bodyguards, drunks, champions and lords and ladies to boot. In fact, it is the addition of the strong, female characters that I enjoyed the most about 'Rough Night'. To begin with, Von Liebewitz seems just like any number of stereotypical rich woman. Vain, rude and powerful, but as the scenario plays out you discover that she is far more astute than you originally think. Yes, she has all the trappings and views of elite society, but she has an authority and presence that I have always found appealling. Von Liebewitz is also a great NPC contact for the longer campaign, if the PCs can stay on her positive side. Hardened adventures willing to do the dirty work have always had a close relationship with the rich, powerful and slightly corrupt. Obviously, she is no chaos worshipper and will have her own, probably self-serving agendas, but there is proper mileage in her association with the PCs and can be used as a useful tool for settings up further scenarios. 

Ursula the bounty hunter is also a great character. No string chainmail bikinis here nor any overtly sexualised nonsense. She is a tough, capable character with lethally efficient methods. Certainly a useful character to run into again on the rode for the purpose of a good bandit hunt or headtake. A while ago, I wrote an article about women in Warhammer and can see both Von Liebewitz and Ursula fitting the more positive role for females in 1980s Warhammer. Afterall, there were a sizable number of female roleplayers back then, probably far more than indulge in the latest offerings of steriod infused 40k these days, and so characters like these are more than just 21st century window dressing. History has parallels of both Von Liebewitz and Ursula, and sadly these historical figures are mosty retconned or 'reimagined' for our times by sexing them up and dunking them in the fountain of youth. Doing so, waters down their achievements as real human beings doing interesting things in my view and 'Rough Night' makes no attempt to do either with its fictional heroines. 

Atmosphere is also crucial to a great adventure, if not key. Anyone who has rolled dice around a fantasy RPG, either paper, miniature or polygon based, will have lurked for a while in a smokey tavern or inn. They have a vibe that appeals to the subject matter and envokes hazy memories in our own minds. Most of us who have actually lived will be able to appreciate what a bustling, slightly dangerous drinking establishment is like and will understand the dangers of strong alcohol, tobacco and the opposite sex combined. Chucking a slice of chaos and a dollop of duplicity into that potent mix is an exciting prospect, even if the visuals and odours are figments of our imaginations. My opinion that chaos needs to remain the 'spice' of WFRP (and indeed Warhammer) is also well supported by 'Rough Night'. Too much chilli ruins a meal, while the right amount can add just enough heat to make things interesting. The goings on are also covert, and the negligent PC may miss what is actually going on. 'Rough Night' doesn't expect you to have your hand held and subsequently is all the more enjoyable for it- just think about the difference in roleplaying between Morrowind and Skyrim to understand what I mean. 


A great scenario must also bring something new to a game system, no matter how small. 'Rough Night' does this in the guise of armwrestling. This is a great timewaster or filler, depending on your viewpoint, and can be used to liven up most evenings when otherwise your characters would be doing nothing. PCs always love to gamble with their non-existant cash flow and I can think of no better way of encouraging this than with matches of this type. Thinking about it now, and entire aventure could be made of the game, based on the gloriously '80s action flick staring Stallone entitled 'Over the Top'. Arm wrestling has mileage too, you know! 

So to conclude, 'A Rough Night at the Three Feathers' deserves its praise and has been, for me at least, one of the greatest shorter scenarios ever written from WFRP, if not any system. I am sure that many of you will have very fond memories of the adventure and that for some, new memories as I suspect the scenario is still regularly played wherever old school WFRP raises its battered mug. Graeme Davis is credited as being the author in the Restless Dead edition of the scenario (which I have used for this article) and Jamie Sims for the illustrations. With both those individuals having been interviewed here on Realm of Chaos 80s about their contributions to '80s Warhammer, 'Rough Night' has a very strong pedigree indeed. 

Thank you to both gents for putting it all together for us Old Schoolers all those years ago. 

Orlygg. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

In search of the Blandford Warriors


I must admit to having always thought the Blandford Warriors range was a bit, well, crap. With that all important, at least to me, fantasy chic missing and a total lack of mutated chaosy gribblies I always considered them a dull range. Even when Wargames Foundry brought most of the figures back into production, I browsed past the figures with no more than minor interest.

How wrong I was! 

Perhaps it's a symptom of tipping my toe into the Bronze Age that I seem ever drawn towards the more unusual historical figures, as I find models with a realistic feel far more gratifying than the horrendously oversculpted CAD obsenities that seem to flood much of the toy soldier market these days. 

Now, if you are NOT in the know about the Blandford Warriors let me fill you in. The range was advertised in January 1988 and complimented the book 'Medieval Warlords' by Tim Newark. They were, of course, sculpted by the Perry brothers and sold in individual blisters for a while. 


Angus McBride, one of the greatest historical wargaming artists who ever lived, produced many of the illustrations the models were based on. You may well recognise his style even if the name doesn't ring any bells.

Take a look....


Sourcing the book was fairly easy, there are numerable copies on Amazon and eBay for next to nothing and having had a flick through its musty pages, the book looks pretty interesting. There are shortish essays concerning the figures in the range, each supported by a wealth of illustrative material, so they is plenty for the toy soldier enthusiast and military buff to dive into. 


Marcus Ansell donated one of the older Blandford Warriors moulds to my school, keen for the younger children to see how miniatures are produced. And having never seen a mould up close before myself, I was fascinated by the object as well.


As we were discussing how the mould slotted together, Marcus told me an amusing story about (and this is totally truthful) a number of 'serious' collectors had rung them up at the Foundry to complain/demand that they stop producing rarer figures such as the Blandford Warriors because it was reducing the price of their collections!!

Now I am sitting on a leadpile a mile high, and amongst its layers I do have a number of rarer figures. Even so, I would never dream of doing such a thing. I am all for the more unusal figures being brought back into production because it means that other enthusiasts can enjoy them without having to fork out ridiculous money online acquiring them!


In case you were wondering what metal models look like after they have been 'spun' in a mould, let me enlighten you. Here we have the full range of the Blandford historicals fresh from the casting pits, albeit with the 'Foundry' style bases. The reason for the removal of the classic 'slotta-base' is a simple one apparently; the historical gamers (who make up the bulk of the Foundry's customer base) won't buy figures with them on! 

Bryan went on to explain that he took with him a vast amount of material when he sold GW as he felt that the majority of the figures he had had a hand in creating would have been destroyed. The company belonged to him so he could do what he liked. Hence the vast collection of classic painted figures at the Foundry premises and the masses of vintage castings (some of which never saw the light of day) in his collection. 


You may notice that the Tuetonic Knight is absent from the Foundry website. That is because the master casting was missing in action when the range as brought back into production. That model has since been recovered and hence appears on the mould in my school's possession.

Collectors being the strange creatures that they are, have apparently moved on to buying up the now extremely rare 'plinth' bases you can see in the original flyer. Whether they use these to house the original slotta based models or the more modern castings is beyond my ken. 

If you are interested in the range, it can be purchased here

As I enjoy starting projects and never completing them, I have decided to start working my way through these models in the near future, just as soon as I have finished the final Time Warped Wizard from BOYL16! 

But which Warlord will I start with? Decisions... Decisions... 

Orlygg

Night of the Living Lead 2017

Ever wondered how to get around the problems of flying dragons? An upside down glass does wonders!

Hello once more and welcome to Realm of Chaos 80s. It has been sometime again, hasn't it? Truth be told there are no exciting and dramatic reasons while I haven't updated recently, it has been a simple case of having too much work to do during the week and the dreaded 'other commitments' during the weekend. Though, I can confess here to being a little distracted by Fallout 4 again, which I chose to start playing again at the end of the Summer Hols, and my meagre hobby time has been squandered on that.

Due to my poor showing on the blogosphere, I had been looking forwards to making the trip back up to the Wargames Foundry again for some time, and rather helpfully my friend Stuart Klatcheff was willing to drive the distance this time - giving me slightly longer at the event and less grief from the non-leadhead! 

So thanks for that Stuart! 

Journeys such as these, and the events that lay sandwiched in between them, have a funny old way of enlivening an interest in the participant. I suspected that a few hours with the Oldhammer Boyz would ensure plenty of inspiration for the coming winter months and the first half-term of the year (which is just around the corner).

As you would expect, I snapped a load of random photographs of the battle though I must confess to not really taking part in the event. I was far to busy socialising, but I do have an amusing little anecdote about Steve Casey's lovely 'alternative giants' and how I managed to encourage the GM's xenophobia for all things gigantic to pull off an amusing attack or two.

More about that later. As has become traditional, what follows is a long, long list of photographs that I took of Paul's little event with a little snippet of commentary from me. Hopefully, you discover something of interest within them and are inspired to do a little be of hobby of your own. 

The battlefield after the first move of the game. You can see my rather old collection of Khorne and Nurgle Realm of Chaos stuff down the bottom left of the frame. If I am being honest, I don't think they moved far from there all day. As you will have noticed we had A LOT of figures on the table (mostly elves from Chris' incredible collection) and WFB3 is a very long game when dealing with a game of this size. Needless to say... we never finished the game!

One thing that I always enjoy about the bigger battles are the massed ranks of troops arrayed in their martial glory. There was plenty to see on the table with loads of classic and not so classic models painted up. As you will have already no doubt noted, there was a large contingent of dragons fielded. Beautiful models all of them and they brought a certain elegance to our wargames table.

Matthew Street explains how best to hold a tinfoil wrapped sandwich to an awed fellow enthusiast. Note the neat little glowing lights inside the model chapel. I thought that this effect had been created by some electrical wire malarkey but upon further investigation I found out the illumination was provided by a couple of those cheap battery powered tea-lights you can buy in Lidl. It works though!
Never having been a chap satisfied by following the rules, we homebrewed some unlikely stats for a dramatic attack on Steve Casey's wonderfully painted 'alternative' giants. I invented some implausible missle assault and Paul, the GM, decreed that on a roll of a six my bazooka armed chaos dwarf would be able to hit one of Steve's giants in the face. Amusingly, I suceeded and the poor lanky soul was slain outright! Never be afraid to homebrew unlikely rules with comedy potential if you have access to an unbiased GM. 

Having sadly lost his sandwich in a tragic liquid-poly accident, Warlord Paul attempts to find sustenance by consuming his own hand while 'Elfy Chris' tries his hardest to ignore him. The glorious host of '80s elves belonged to Chris and you may remember our discussion about them during the BOYL17 coverage.

Real life Aragorn (though in certain quarters he is known as Cider) Thantsants mulls over how hard life is as a modern day ranger. Note the small bridge he couldn't help constructing (force of habit) to the far right. Only one guard rail? What would the health and safety boys say?

My big McDeath giant strikes a pose surrounded by girly elves.

As you would expect, the sight of so many old school models in close proximity was a glorious sight, if a little unwieldy to play with in such a short space of time.

Steve Casey looks serious as he launches his giants into an all out attack against my dwarfs.

Stuart Klatcheff, John Ratcliffe and Warlord Paul investiagate some of the weird and wonderful odds and sods from Bryan's collection. The small cardboard box contained castings of many of the original Rogue Trader Imperial Guard, Space Pirates and Adventurers sets. 
Bryan took me into the depths of Stoke Hall to explore some of his wargaming treasures, and despite the looming threat of an over excited (and rather large) dog, I escaped unscathed. Think ultimate 'wargaming man cave' and you have some idea what this room is like. 

Stuffed with all manner of toy soldier paraphernalia, walking around this room was like being plunged into an ocean of Citadel history. It would be impossible to describe the innumerable treasures to be beheld here; everything from original pieces of GW artwork, to early '80s castings and thousands and thousands of greens. 

There were trays of greens in various states of tinkering. Bryan spoke of his idea to do a Kickstarter project with some of these unproduced models at some time in the future. 

John Blanche originals and some curious masks from the Ansell family's many travels. 

Bryan was keen to show off his vast library of inspirational publications. I was struck by the depth of research and the varying influences that go into his designs. If the 1980s Design Studio was this rich with creativity (which I suspect it was) then it is no wonder that the range of figures produced back then were so special. Not a skull or spike in sight! 

The influence of 2000AD on '80s Citadel is well known, and Bryan still reads the graphic novels to this day. 

The room was full of half-finshed projects and various tinkerings.

Marcus Ansell talked us through many of the model buildings in the collection. It appears that there was once an entire scenic board which many of the buildings slotted into. Underneath the houses are labels that indicate who constructed the model, with Phil Lewis and Dave Andrew's name frequenting often. His recent 'mega-battle' post I shared a while back was an attempt to work out how these buildings fitted together. We discussed the famous 'Modelling Workship' articles in White Dwarf and it transpires that a huge amount of scenic material was built that never saw the light of day.
Unlike at BOYL, I had ample time to explore the new displays of painted models in Foundry's cabinets. These early '90s space marines caught my eye almost immediately. Gorgeous painting by Mike McVey, the colours still so vibrant after all of this time. 
Original Heroquest models. The master castings of these are lurking around the Foundry I have been lead to believe. I have always coveted that barbarian figure. 


Huzzah! My painted Were-Ansell preslotta figure shares shelf-space with vintage Citadel classics. My hobby life is complete!  

I am always interested in anything Realm of Chaos and this wonderful old figure caught my eye.

As did these memorable figures... These appeared in the Lost and the Damned and the two figures on the right are converted. Love the rust effect on that sword! 

The original Advanced Heroquest figures. I have always admired the shield designs on these figures and will one day finish my own versions of them. 

Could there be a more iconic Heroquest paintjob?

I had never seen these epic scale models painted up before. These had beautiful hues and looked resplendent alongside the older Rogue Trader orks. 

Lords of Battle and a hodgepodge of Rogue Trader pieces. 

I was glad to find these converted chaos figures. White Dwarf published a lovely 'Eavy Metal article about how to best convert chaos figures just after the publication of Slaves to Darkness. I was pleased to see that they had survived. 

Unreleased Citadel wizards from 1987. 

Some of the glorious handpainted banners in the Foundry's miniature museum. Note the Heroquest gargoyle hiding in plain site on the right hand side. 

Another glorious Realm of Chaos era conversion. 

More '80s era Realm of Chaos models with spanking banners. 

Blood Bowl figures from the second edition of the game. Can you spot any of the original Star Player figures in this photograph?

An Oldhammer favourite! The original Marauder Chaos Dwarfs.

When wizards were wizards, mate. Oh, and when clerics were clerics, too.