Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kobold Tribe

Larx Longtooth is known throughout the realm as one of the most crafty and troublesome Kobold raiders to ever curse the lands of Galaria.  Time and time again, he and his band have crept down from the foothills of The Crags to descend upon some unsuspecting trader's caravan only to disappear quickly into the wilds.  Along with his cohort, Binj the Mewler, Longtooth's Raiders (as they have become known) have caused trade between the North and South to become a dangerous and expensive endeavor.  In fact, trade has become so sluggish that wardens from Cumbria have been called to Donegal to track and stop the scourge of the North Road.  For the North and South to work together so closely on this matter certainly illustrates the seriousness of the problem.

Larx Longtooth is flanked by Binj the Mewler on the left and an unidentified raider on the right

It is believed that Larx and his band are part of the tribe known as The Children of Cridox.  This is a large group of Kobolds that call the eastern Crags home and have been known to prey upon trade and travel between The Dales in difficult years.  If this theory is true, then the trouble may only get worse as the year progresses, for the tribe is ruled by none other than Guart the Taker along with his minions Mange the Mighty and Rikt Wyrmcaller.  Trouble is brewing indeed.

A Kobold raiding party preparing for a "run"

I've been working on my Kobold tribe for some time now and finally have an acceptable number for gaming completed.  Though I absolutely love the old school feel of Otherworld Miniatures, I chose the Reaper line of Kobolds to represent my little raiders on the field for several reasons....the biggest of which is availability and cost.  Ordering from Reaper only takes a few days to get my goodies and the minis are always reasonably priced.  With the release of the Bones line, I get an even better deal on rank and file Kobolds.  Don't get me wrong though.  It's not like the Reaper Kobolds were a distant second and chosen only due to logistics and money.  I very much like their Kobold sculpts.  It's just that I grew up with 1st Edition and I'm familiar with the old style Kobold illustrations that are so faithfully rendered in Otherworld's sculpts.

Anyhow, I've got the first twelve raiders finished and ready for action.  They are from Reaper's Kobold Raider blister (02470) and the Bones version (77010).  I also have additional reinforcements nearing completion.  They are four Kobolds from blister #03064 which includes an archer along with a blister containing a leader and a sorcerer (03024) and Snar Mangebelly (03295) which will represent Mange the Mighty, Rikt Wyrmcaller, and Guart the Taker respectively.

In doing a bit of research to decide how I wanted to paint my Kobolds I was surprised to learn that their background changed a bit over the years.  When I was a D&D geek during the 80's, no mention was ever made that they had draconic connections.  Apparently sometime during 2E and definitely during the 3E days, they became somewhat connected to dragons.  At first I was taken aback by the change but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.  With their new connections, they are still low level fodder but the gaming possibilities are greatly increased when possibly paired with a dragon. 

With this in mind I decided to pair my tribe with Cridox the Red and paint the Kobolds with a reddish hue.  I basecoated the tribe in Scorched Brown and worked up the red highlights with Dark Flesh to give the tribe a physical connection to a red dragon without ending up with "little red lizards".  I'm excited to try this process again with another tribe possibly paired with a blue or green dragon.  A dark organic blue with electric blue highlights might look interesting and definitely different from the standard fare players often see.

I love Kobolds by the way and they, more so than any other monster, bring back memories from my first D&D adventure....but that is a story for another time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Off Topic: Waterspouts

Although I regularly bemoan the fact that gaming is non-existent where I live (the closest FLGS is nearly a 50 mile one way trip for me), I have to admit that calling the Florida Keys home for the last fourteen years is not a bad thing at all.  After all, I do live in paradise and have a dream job.  OK, so other wargamers are very few and far between down here, but the advantages of working on the water and living beside palm trees definitely outweigh the disadvantages of living in a gaming vacuum.  Some of those advantages are the spectacular scenery I get to see everyday from my "office window" on board the boat.  And last week was no exception.  I was treated to a wonderful display from Mother Ocean.

During our morning dive excursion, a line of dark grey rain clouds started to move out over the reef line.  The rain was falling heavily in sections while thunder and lighting added to the natural soundtrack.  But the winds remained light and this time of year that usually means one thing...Waterspouts!

Though I see them quite often during our wet season that lasts from mid-May to November, I was in for quite a surprise.  Over a twenty minute period I was able to spot and photograph between 12 and 15 waterspouts in the same general area.  That general area happened to be pretty much right on top of me.  In fact, while I was busy getting video of one about a mile from my position, one quite literally developed on top of me.  The mate on board happened to bring to my attention the monster that was forming about 30 yards from my stern.  I was able to get great video of the business end of the spout but due to our close reference point, I obviously could not get the whole thing in the frame.  Darn!

The video above shows the water swirling on the surface of the ocean.  The funnel cannot be seen yet.  The video below shows the same waterspout after it moved away from our position.

While the waterspout did form very close to the boat, I wasn't too worried.  There are two types of waterspouts:  tornadic and fair-weather waterspouts.  The tornadic version is just as it sounds....a tornado that forms over water.  This variety can be every bit as dangerous as their land-based counterparts and are certainly a cause for concern.  The ones close to me however, non-tornadic, or fair-weather spouts, are a totally different beast.  They usually form in fairly benign conditions beneath the bases of flat-bottomed cumulus clouds and start on the water and work their way up to the cloud (unlike tornadoes that form from the cloud down).  They are still capable to capsizing small vessels though so I certainly would not recommend getting close to one.

Although waterspouts have been reported in many locations worldwide (even in Europe I'm told), the Florida Keys get more waterspouts than any other place.  Over 400 are reported every year.  I've witnessed quite a few in my days on the water, but seeing so many in such a short period of time was both unusual and exciting.

Before posting these photos, I tried to think of a clever way to link the pics to gaming.  Naval waterspout rules anyone?  But in the end I just gave up and let it be.  Sometimes it's just nice to sit back and chat about something off topic.  It could have been something much worse like politics or religion, right?

So enjoy the photos while I start working on my next "on topic" post.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alfyn Crowkiller

I mentioned a while back when I completed Jon Snow that I did not relish the idea of painting an entire unit of rangers of the Night's Watch for gaming.  Well, since that post I've had a change of heart and started working on a small unit of rangers that will be sent beyond The Wall to search for signs of Mance Rayder.  The thing is, if I'm to do a bit of Westeros wargaming, I better have a few opponents for the Watch to face.  And who better than their long time enemies, the Wildings?

I thought I'd start my Wilding warband with Alfyn Crowkiller (DSM5021).  Although Alfyn is not a major character in the novels, his name is mentioned several times and it is quite apparent that he is a man feared and respected by the Night's Watch.  It took the fabled ranger Qhorin Halfhand to finally bring down Alfyn in A Clash of Kings and end his murderous ways.  We shall see if the rangers of the Watch are able to repeat that feat on the game table.

I started with Alfyn not only because I needed a leader for my Wilding warband, but because I absolutely love the sculpt.  Jeff Grace has done a wonderful job capturing the essence of the GRRM novels for Dark Sword Miniatures.  The Wildings he has completed all feature dynamic and fluid poses, which always grabs my attention....and this one is certainly no exception.

Although not much is written in the novels about garb, I had to assume from the descriptions of their spartan lifestyle that the Wilding culture is based off the land.  As such, I painted Alfyn wearing leathers and furs with lots of earthy colors.  Even the metals were mostly muted, with the exception of the maile and sword. 

With such a limited color palette, the miniature was fairly easy to paint.  And with the extra time, I was able to do a bit of wet blending on the shield.  The color gradient on the shield surface came out fairly well but the metallic decorations were another story.  With the limited space and metallic color options, the gradation was too abrupt and easily noticed.  If I were to do it again, I think I would have chosen to use non-metallic metals to help with the blending.

As for the gaming rule set, I've been tinkering with the old LotR SBG rules from Games Workshop.  They are easy to adapt and perfect for the small scale skirmishes that characterized warfare between the Wildings and Night's Watch.  For now, I'll basically use the rules as is, and simply substitute warrior profiles where appropriate.  With time, I'll work on adding special rules that more closely represent the world George R. R. Martin created.  Ideas and suggestions would be very welcome!