Wednesday, February 28, 2018

5e: On the road to Nightstone

From: Fulhoff of Clan Balderk
To: Helja and Adrik of Clan Balderk

Mother & Father,

As I indicated I would last missif, I have put aside my studies, and have joined my cousin Thorin. His efforts at advancing in his craft are seeing some surprising results, but not even enough to cover his bartab. To be fair, he's had more success than I. He's introduced me to a number of his companions here in town, including a halfling bard, a couple of humans, and even a forest elf, if you can believe that. Truly a more cosmopolitan environment than our mountain home.

The barkeep wishes a letter delivered to her brother, along with a cask of her finest ale a few days away. It's menial work, but... it pays better than it should.


On our way to Nightstone, the small town the barkeep's brother lives, we spotted a large vulture flying above. We investigated and found a dead elk wearing an odd circlet. It was inscribed with a winged snake. The bird was displeased with us bothering its lunch and attacked us. We slaughtered it. Only the human was willing to eat the disgusting carrion eater.


Nightstone is in ruins. Boulders smashed most of the buildings, and goblins were picking through the remains. We carefully investigated, initially avoiding confronting some wargs until we could attack them with some strategy. I wish I could report that my bold plan worked as I'd hoped, but my magic apparently isn't as strong as I'd believed. I charged forward, allowing the wargs to come to me, while the rest of the party held back and waiting in 2 different directions. I blasted them as they come close, but they resisted my Thunder Wave, and tore into me. Thorin and company came to my rescue, but I missed the rest of the fight.

We've also interrogated one of the goblins, and discovered that giants from the sky attacked the village. Gum-Gum is a sniveling coward, but... seems to afraid to lie. Whether she's too dumb to only tell is what we want to hear? We'll see.

Lastly, we also encountered another human who is also just arrived. Kella, who has a flying serpent... I find nothing trustworthy about her. By the Beard of the Great Digger, I trust the goblin more than this human, though she apparently did assist in the slaughter of the wargs. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Frostgrave Werewolf, Hyena, and Rats (part 2)

I spent a bit of time painting up these furry minis! As I wanted, this was a wonderfully easy project. Part 1 (assembly, basing, and priming) found here.

First up, the rats. I don't actually need any more giant rat minis, but here they are. I really didn't give much attention to them, and it shows.

There's nothing wrong with them, but it was definitely a speed paint. Black eyes, splotchy blended browns for the fur, Monster Maw for the feet and tails Linen White for the teeth. The bases were dry brushed with Mountain and Stone grey, with a final light drybrush of Linen White. I'm not really thrilled with how much of the red-brown primer you can still see on the base... but they're done.

I spent more time on the Hyena.

I basically used the same colors as on the rats. Biggest difference was the tufted fur around its neck. I painted that a much lighter color, Linen White with Tanned Leather, and then washed it down with Sepia. Not sure the effect was worth the effort.

The werewolf got a lot more attention, but then he's a much bigger mini.

As with the rats and hyena, he's a blend of a whole mess of browns. I kept the back darker than the belly fur. It all got multiple sepia washes and highlights.

I tried to paint the head with the same color pattern as the whole werewolf. I got it close enough anyway... It really needs more flock/basing added to it. It's mostly going to be snow I think. Stained red of course!

Total Minis Painted This Year: 14

Monday, February 26, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3: Tony has PTSD

How do you come back from Avengers? The closing chapter of Phase 1 of the MCU that was in so many ways incredibly epic and enjoyable. Almost anything that follows up on that high is gonna be... well a come down, if not a let down.

Marvel chose to start Phase 2 by going back to their hit character Iron Man, and show what it was like for him to come down from the events in NYC. And like I said above, it wasn't fun for Tony. How could it be? Nothing he's done has truly prepared him to fight off aliens, through a wormhole, with a nuclear missile. And so we see manic, sleep deprived, panic attack suffering Tony trying to keep himself together. And when The Mandarin arrives, terrorizing the USA, Tony snaps, and challenges him.

Now, this could have been a simple storyline, Iron Man vs the terrorist Mandarin, but instead they gave us some twists. First off, taking Iron Man out. While Tony is chatting with Pepper and an ex-one-night-stand, his house is attacked, and destroyed, and Tony gets the shit kicked out of him. Given that he wasn't anywhere near top of his game, not a shock. And... Tony takes himself away. Small town middle America, where he hangs out as The Mechanic with a fatherless kid, and investigates what's been going on. Turns out The Mandarin used the tech Tony's ex was developing to make super soldiers.

Always with the super soldiers...

Let's pause a minute here to talk about the kid. He was great. The perfect foil to Tony, someone who's impressed, but not necessarily intimidated by this superhero who literally broke into his garage. Ty Simpkins as Harley does an absolutely fantastic job.

Then there's Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin... I remember being so absolutely stunned at the reveal, and about half a second later laughing so hard about it. I love his performance, even now.

It really isn't a movie that stands alone, and would be a terrible jumping in point for anyone interested in the MCU, but as a defining chapter of Tony's life, it's just about perfect.

And the end credit scene? Brilliant!

Next Up: Thor: The Dark World

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Converting a Character Mini: Ivar into Fulhoff

As I'm actually getting to play 5e, and it looks like I'll get to keep playing for a while, I figured I should go ahead and pick a mini to represent my dwarven wizard.

Now, he isn't your typical wizard, even for a dwarf, as he goes around in a chain shirt and swings his warhammer. So the Dwarf Wizard minis, as fun as they are, are out. Going through my Bones collection, I came across this guy: Ivar, Dwarf Cleric

Not a perfect fit, especially the backpack, but not bad. Also going against him was the fact that his hammer was miscast.

So... to work!

I started by removing the backpack, and giving him a good scrub to make sure any mold remover was washed off.

Then I had to find a new hammer. The Bones Weapon Sprues had one that worked. Just about the right size...

Clipped off the old hammer, drilled out the hand...

And while I was at it, I cut off all the decorative stuff off the backpack, and trimmed the base. Then using my Happy Seppuku courtyard stamp, I gave him a fancier base to stand on. It's hard to see, but the pin is already in his hand, and you can sort of see the hole drilled in the shaft of the hammer.

And here it is all glued together!

Hmm... the anvil in the middle of the backpack... just doesn't do it for me. So I ripped the backpack off, and went back to my bits box.

In the end I cut the bedroll and lower bag completely away, and used some greenstuff and superglue to put it all back. The barrel is from one of the Games Workshop Brettonian Infantry kits... I think the bottle might be as well, but I'm not 100% on that. I'm still debating adding a length of rope to the backpack... but otherwise, the modding is done, and it's time to get painting!

Friday, February 23, 2018

King In Yellow complete

Way way back in October, I painted up Reaper's Crimson Herald as the King in Yellow for my Reapercon Painters Entry. I earned a bronze for it, which, given the speed with which I got it done, I'm pretty happy with. I learned a lot doing it...

But I never showed off good pictures of him all finished up!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fulhoff of Clan Bladerk

Let me tell you about my character...

In the year Randal Morn wrested control of Daggerdale from the Zhents, my parents fashioned my form from the living rock. At least, that's what they maintain to this day. Unlike many of my fellows born in the same year, the Thunder Blessing did not result in my having a twin. I always took this to be a sign that there was something special that I was meant to do. Even my earliest memories there seemed to be signs and portents signaling... something.

My parents sent me to the temples for my early learning, and I took to the books with great pleasure. The sermons and lectures less so. While skipping out on yet another droning chant filled afternoon, I hid in the back of the library, and stumbled upon a tome of arcane words... I returned to that dusty corner every spare moment I could.

Meanwhile I trained like all who would protect the holy tunnels. Like many, I swung the hammer with joy. The years were quiet for our hold, and my studies continued. Finally, after nearly a half a century of study, prayer, and training the temple master sat me down and tried to break the news that I would never serve the gods as a cleric, but that, if I wished I might stay on as a lay priest.

As if I was some stupid child!

I refrained from laughing, and instead demonstrated what I had learned from those dusty forgotten books. My magic was impressive, if unfocused. It was enough, though, and for the second time I was sent away. This time to the surface to study under a wizard, to learn real aptitude. It was a quiet time of study and practice, with only a few distractions, including a goblin warband attack, and a troop of ogres that needed to be driven off. We had some help with each of those.

That lasted about a decade when one morning as I completed chores, a badger strode up to me.

Have you ever been stared down by a badger? Have you ever been stared down by a messenger of the gods? I have... and I knew I had delayed long enough. It was time to find the reason for my existence. The following day I received a letter from my cousin Thorin who was in a nearby city. I joined him there...

And that just netted me 100xp!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fulumbar, Dwarf Warrior

Fulumbar the Dwarf Warrior is an archetypical dwarf, yet at the same time manages to be a character with a distinct personality. He was a lot of fun to paint up.

As with most Bones minis I started off by washing and scrubbing him, then glueing him to a base. He base base boated in brown liner. I started by painting his face with a thinned Warrior Flesh, then went to work on the eyes, which I did a little differently. Most of the time I'll darken the socket, put a line of linen white across the middle, then add a dot of color wherever I want the eve focusing. This time I started with the darkened socket, then added the green of the eye, then added the linen white. I think it worked well for him, since he's giving such a strong side eye.

Then I went over the armor with a mix of blue liner and Oceanic Blue, and worked on the beard with Auburn Shadow. I then brought up the beard with Dragon Red, and just a bit of Fiery Orange.

His skin was brought up with More Warrior Flesh and Monster Maw. I went heavy on the Monster Maw on the nose, trying to indicate that he's well into his cups.

The leather items were painted with a combination of Rich Leather, Tanned Leather, and Desert Sand. The gems are painted with Viper Green (not my usual first choice, but I'd just gotten it and wanted to try it), mixed with Linen White and Brown Liner to change the tones and shine.

The horns are painted with Bone, mixed with Sepia Wash and Linen White. The cloak was painted with a base of Blue Liner, mixed with a bit of Oceanic Blue, then washed with Sepia, and brought up with Desert Sand.

The Fur on the helm and boots were painted with Auburn Shadow, and highlighted up with Desert Sand.

The armor was painted with Shadowed Steel, highlighted up with Mithril, and the gold was done with Dragon Gold highlighted up with New Gold. A bunch of the studs were done with Dragon Copper.

A fun mini, and my player who plays the dwarf in my stonehell game loves it!

Total Minis Painted This Year: 8

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Black Panther

Yes, this isn't in the correct order for my countdown, but on Friday I went to see Black Panther, and WOW...

Yes, there has been lots of hype, and maybe that's turned you off. Maybe you've seen the FAKE reports of white people being attacked? Maybe you've read some racist reviews of the movie.

Ignore the noise, and go see it.

Go now.

It was fantastic.

First off, let's talk visuals, because that's the first thing that's going to grab you. The colors, the prints, the textures, the textiles are all vibrant and eye catching. They're different from anything I've ever seen, and make me want to find all of the concept art and just let it soak into my brain. If this doesn't win major awards for costume design all year long, it's gonna be a crime. And yes, I'm saying that even against the visually spectacular Wrinkle in Time that's coming out soon.

Next up, the story. Wakanda, the hidden technologically advanced kingdom that the world thinks of as a poor 3rd world nation has a new king who has challenges both within and without. To remain a hidden nation, or to open up and help guide the world to be better? It's a timely take, seeing how they weave together the tale of a fictional African nation with the challenges faced by black people everywhere, from the abduction and enslavement of boys and girls on the African continent, to the challenges faced by African-Americans here in the USA... it isn't necessarily a comfortable movie from that perspective.

Killmonger, the main antagonist, is one of the most nuanced and sympathetic villains who (without being too much of a spoiler) causes some serious questioning about who's actually in the right, about what the right thing to do is.

And can I tell you about the women? You know the bechdel test? Forget it. We now have the Wakanda test. Seriously, if the women in future films don't match how awesome, independent, powerful, and beautiful as the women in Black Panther are, it's failed. There is now no longer any excuse filmmakers! Step up! 

Look back up at the poster. See how the women take up a solid 3rd+ of the poster? Each of those women steal the scene from T'Challa and Killmonger every time.

Why are you still reading this? Go see it! I can't wait till I can see it again...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Countdown to Infinity War: Avengers

When last we saw Loki, he was falling from Asgard into space. Now we see him receiving a glowing scepter, and ready to wage war upon mankind... And he's going to use the Tesseract to do it!

Nick Fury realizes it's time to bring the team together!

In bringing the team together, you get a whole lot of big personalities onto a screen that might not be big enough to hold all of them. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have all headlined their own movies. (So has the Hulk, but with a different actor) They're used to doing things their way and on their own. And so you get the inevitable learning to work together/heroes fighting each other scene. Which was actually about as awesome as it was predictable, and made even better with Loki just kind of watching from the sidelines with that bemused smile.

Grumbling, squabbling, and fighting continue until Loki escapes and in the process kills the beloved Agent Phil Coulson. That gets the team to work together... with a little help from Fury showing off some of his Captain America trading cards, conveniently bloodied...

Then there's the big fight as Loki's portal is opened, and the chittari army arrives in midtown Manhattan, which the Avengers manage to defeat, mostly because the shadowy world council decides to nuke NYC, and Iron Man tosses that up into the portal. It's fun, and spectacular, and interesting seeing how these wildly different heroes all use their skills and powers to face the enemy. One thing that stands out is how much focus is spent not just on defeating the bad guys, but on saving as many lives as possible. You don't see that a whole lot in other movies like that.

The Avengers does a really good job making sure that everyone gets not only their fair share of screen time, and opportunities to look cool, but more importantly, the chance to interact with everyone else, often one on one. It really gives the characters the space to show their personalities. This is doubly so as everyone interacts with Loki! In such a busy movie with so many characters it's fantastic that they took the time to do it, and that's what helps makes the MCU so unlike everything that's come before.

Next Up: Tony Stark's PTSD! (aka Iron Man 3)

Side note: The Avengers Assemble album might be one of my favorite mixes of great songs to get stuff done to. Crank it up, and you'll want to get moving!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stories from the Shelf of Shame: Scoundrel (and Hero)

Every once and a while I'm tempted to snag something I've painted before to touch it up. Usually I overcome this compulsion by looking at all the minis I own that don't have any paint on them at all yet. The space between those 2 is the shelf of shame, miniatures started and never completed. For whatever reason they were abandoned. Looking through my figure case recently I found a few such minis, forgotten for years.

While I was waiting for the werewolf, rats, and hyena that I'd based to dry, I decided to make a quick pass at cleaning up one of them, and just getting it done.

This time I picked the Scoundrel mini from Wizards of the Coast's line of Star Wars metal minis. Now, back in the early 2000's my painting style wasn't... refined. I'd blocked in the basic colors, and touched a few details... and then stopped. Blue shirt, black pants, brown belt, orange skin (dwarven flesh maybe? It was very Trumpian in tone), and red-brown cloak brown hair.

Sadly I forgot to snag a picture before I started working on the skin tones. Here I've given the skin a coat of Warrior Flesh and started on the eyes.

Also, since I was kind of speed painting my way along with him, there aren't really any other WiP pictures, but here's what I did:
Highlighted the cloak, and added in some decorative edging along the yoke.
Shadowed and highlighted the shirt using a combination of Imperial Purple and Oceanic Blue.
Added depth to the hair with Auburn Shadow wash, and Fire Orange highlights
Auburn Shadow eyebrows
Glazed the pants with Sepia Wash

I also replaced the base, and used my Happy Seppuku Temple Courtyard base stamp. I also decided to finished the Jake Ryan reaper mini that I painted a couple of years ago, and give him a base too.

Need to clean up the edge of the base a bit, and the boots that got some grey on it, but otherwise DONE!

Total Minis Painted This Month: 1 (not counting Jake)
Total Minis Painted This Year: 7