Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Desecrating Graves on a Club Night

The guys at the Hereford Wargames Club had asked me to put on another game of Frostgrave, so last night I duly obliged.

I thought it’d be interesting to play the Mausoleum scenario – the mausoleum being represented by a 6”x6” graveyard (I wanted an excuse to use my new Dark Ops scenery) with 4 special treasures placed around it. Each player (Alan, Steve, Ted and myself) then placed 2 ordinary treasures.

With my opponents each fielding a new level 0 warband, I decided to play with my level 1 illusionist, Miss Mazement, in a change from my usual wizards from the darker end of the spellcasting spectrum. Happily she got off to a good start, managing to cast reveal secret before the game. This was duly picked up by thug in the first turn.

Each player deploys at an edge. With wizards either side of me I concentrate on the flanks, leaving the centre open. Mazement’s first act is to cast a beauty spell on herself. I roll a 19 and empower it with 5 precious health points, making it difficult to resist.

We all move in. My archer, atop a corner ruin, fires ineffectively at Alan’s warband (led by one Hashpot Dribbleweed) on my left and my thugs advance to menace Ted’s band on my right. However, as is becoming the norm, treasure is grabbed, attracting wandering creatures, in this case a four pack of rats, which appear perilously near my wizard.

My thugette tries to dislodge one of Ted’s crossbowmen. She manages to wound him and pushes him back. Gripping his toes he teeters on the edge of the ruin. On my left, my man-at-arms tries to trouble Alan’s flank.

Alan and Steve’s warband are warily advancing towards the treasure, and each other, when the rusty squeals of the cemetery gates heralds the arrival of a skeleton.

My warhound races from my right flank to keep the rats away from my wizard, leaving her free to move away. Will the little critters outnumber the pooch?

Another skeleton climbs out of the graveyard. My warband is moving forward towards the treasure and trying not to get killed by the other wizards. Luckily Alan and Steve are busy fighting among themselves, whilst Ted’s spellcasters are too busy fluffing their spells.

Ted does however send a thug up to deal with my thugette. He wins the combat and she takes damage, but to make matters worse he then pushes her back and off the roof edge, causing her to take more damage from the fall.

In a dark and dingy alleyway my man-at-arms’ flanking move is halted by two of Alan’s men. Above them, another minion is climbing up a ruin to deal with my archer.

Steve’s barbarian dispatches Alan’s bear, hoping to beat Alan’s zombie to the treasure. A wandering skeleton also rattles into view, wondering what the fuss is all about.

My wizard casts a wall of fog to keep my dwarf thief out of sight from any nasties as he advances into the centre. So far I’ve managed to nab the revealed treasure, but nothing else – time to pull my finger out!

On my right, my apprentice watches in horror as Ted’s apprentice blasts my thug with an elemental bolt. He is forced to drop the treasure he has just picked up, on account of being dead.

Steve screens his minions with fog, causing the skeleton to go for Alan’s zombie. After some exciting undead-on-undead action, the zombie prevails.

Having munched it’s way through two of the rats, my warhound finally succumbs to the scratchy little buggers. Luckily I have no-one else in sight, so they head for Alan’s men.

Steve is unlucky. A wandering monster is generated, causing a wraith to appear right behind his lines. With no magical weapons to deal with it, he is forced to screen it off with fog in the hope that it’ll wander somewhere else. Alas a random direction roll brings it hovering right next to his apprentice.

If that wasn’t bad enough, two wild dogs also appear behind him and head for the nearest food source – yep, his apprentice. Sadly she cannot withstand this combined ghost/canine onslaught.

By now Alan and Ted are concentrating their energies against Steve, allowing me to advance into the graveyard relatively unmolested. I use a combination of fog and invisibility to keep any wandering skeletons from attacking my troops.

The hour is late and it is not wise to linger in such a place after dark, so my apprentice renders himself invisible and joins his fellows in lugging away treasure. The other warbands are making their final treasure-grabbing moves and then we call it a night.

Yet another fun game at the club - as it inevitably is when 4 warbands cram onto a 3'x3' board - and quite a successful one for my wizard, who claimed two ordinary and two special treasures, yielding plenty of XP and some nice goodies in the treasure rolls. Alas I lost a sizeable chunk of her warband, but there was enough gold to cover the cost of replacements.

It was also nice to play a less ‘evil’ wizard for a change, casting spells I haven’t used before. Thanks guys for a great evening!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Wreck the Casbah

To look at, the Casbah was just like any other Trow: ungainly and unglamorous cargo ships that plied the Meregile River, ferrying basic goods between the great magical city and the various coastal settlements and outlying islands that served it.

Only a very keen nautical eye indeed could see through the plain, weather-worn planking and ragged, oft-repaired sails to the reinforced bracing, hidden weapon racks and sleek hull structure below the waterline…

Captain Harkul watched as another vessel passed by, it’s helmsman hailing the Casbah like one tradesman to another. Harkul returned the salute, satisfied that once again he had slipped past the outer forts and their inspectors, and could safely drop anchor and get rid of yet another consignment of unsavoury cargo.

“Here they come Cap’n!”

Harkul turned, scanning the river bank as a group of robed individuals rowed a small boat towards them. He didn’t trust these fanatics, for he was sure that’s what they were. Certainly they paid well – very well – but his instincts told him that whatever magical contraband was that he had collected from the strange oriental junk he had rendezvoused with some miles out to sea that morning, it didn’t bode well.

Still, no doubt the authorities would cotton on eventually – they always did in the end – and by that time he would be long gone, lying low somewhere further south with a sackful of gold until everything sorted itself out.

“Heave to and lower the ladder then!” he hissed. “Let’s get this done - I don’t like how the sky is bruising...”

He watched as his surly crew went to work.

“And be quick about it, lest I drink all that rum that’ll-“

Somewhere deep within the centre of Felstad there was a loud ‘crump’ and everything went white…

And cold… very, very cold…

With the Thaw of the Lich Lord scenarios looming on the horizon I need to look at some of the more problematic terrain required, including the shipwrecks for the Battle on the River scenario.

Not being willing to buy model ships just for one scenario, I decided to scratchbuild some bits. I’m not an expert shipbuilder by any means, so hit on the idea of making a wreck in sections so that it could be spread out across the board.

I also decided to make it look like the river had frozen around the ship above the waterline, meaning that I only had to do the decking and such.

The decking is made from plasticard, scored along with a saw to give the impression of planking. The uprights are cut off bits of MDF, while the wooden slats along the hull are strips of cardboard. The rest are just bits scavenged from the bin.

I’m very happy with this, and will no doubt make a few more bits to scatter around the river.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Nullmen Proxies

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to figure out proxies for the Nullmen; the protagonists in the Pits of Null scenario from the Sellsword expansion.

Now, Sellsword states that Nullmen are strange beings resistant to magic, nearly featureless humanoids that glow with an unearthly grey light.

My first thought was to use alien Greys, of which there are many manufacturers. However looking at the scenario, you need a whole bunch of Nullmen (starting the game with four, with another spawning each turn). Do I really want to fork out for loads of Greys (and do all the conversion work to make them look less sci-fi) for just one scenario?

So I have decided on a cheaper approach – Null Shadow men! These are simply two-dimensional versions of the Nullmen – shadow figures of pure null anti-magic.

I did a search for 2D paper figures and found a suitably monstrous looking chap from a superheroes page. I then turned this into a black silhouette and tweaked each one by adding various lumps and rough facial features in MS Paint.

I can now resize these to 28mm-ish size and either print them out onto card or possibly ask someone to be kind enough to laser cut them or somesuch. I reckon 2 lots (i.e. 10 figures) should do the trick.

Having taken the original shape off the internet, I claim no ownership or copyright of these, so I won’t complain if you want to use them!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Do You Dig Graves?

"Yeah, they're alright..."


Finished off painting the last bits from my Dark Ops Terrain order - this very nice graveyard set.

Some great pieces in this set. In addition to some crumbling walls we there are two large wall and gate pieces which butt together to make a whole. The gates are designed to actually swing on the hinges - pretty neat!

There are also lots of gravestones, crosses, a couple of tombs and a large cross/angel wings combo, all in glorious MDF. The detailing is very good, especially on the gates - worth checking out if you want to add some inexpensive spookiness to your tabletop.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Two-Headed Trolls and How to Shoot Them

Here’s the last mini from my recent batch of Reaper Bones goodness: an Ettin which I will use as a two-headed troll (see the bestiary in ‘Into the Breeding Pits’)

Someone on the Frostgrave Facebook page recently asked me how I do my photos, so I thought I’d vaguely detail the process here.

Software used:
MS Paint – usually bundled in with all versions of Windows
Picasa – a great photo editing tool which sadly is no longer available
Windows Live Photo Gallery – again bundled in with Windows Essentials and again, no longer supported
GIMP – a very useful photo editing program

Step 1: Make a graduated background (you only need to do this once)

For this, make a blank ‘picture’ in MS Paint or something similar – literally a blank white rectangle the same size as what you want your finished article to be.
Save it and then open it in Picasa Photo Viewer and then select Edit in Picasa. Note Picasa is no longer supported so you might have to find a similar program to do this.

Select the third tab along and click Graduated Tint. Choose your colour and fiddle with the settings until you get the effect you want.
Save this picture as your main background.

You might be able to find a nice background picture on the internet if you don’t want to bother with all of the above!

Step 2: Take photos of your model

There are loads of guides on the internet about photographing miniatures. Below is a link to one from Annie of Bad SquiddoGames, if only because she’s awesome and it’s an excuse to link to her new website.

By necessity I have to take my photos indoors, under fluorescent light. FYI I use my iPhone camera (again there are loads of iPhone photography guides online).
Take the photos in front of a blank background, a curved sheet of white card for example. Or you could knock up a rough and ready light box like mine (made from a metal file box lined with paper).

Make sure that your camera is focusing on the model. If need be take plenty of shots and choose the best ones.

Step 3: Put the photos onto your computer

This will depend on what you used to take the photos and what device you are using to edit them.

Step 4: Crop the photo

Once again I use Picassa for this, but you could just as easily use MS Paint or a host of other photo editing programs and apps.

Crop the photo so that the model is roughly in the centre. Leave a reasonable amount of blank space around the model so that it’s not ‘in your face’. Save the photo.

Step 5: Resize the photo

Resize the photo to the same size as your background photo (see step 1). It doesn’t have to be exactly the same size, just somewhere near.
For lots of photos I use Windows Live Photo Gallery, as I can batch resize multiple photos with this (though it does save them as separate files rather than overwriting the originals).

Step 6: Select the model

Open the photo in GIMP. You need to select (or ‘cut around’) the model. I do this in several stages:

1 – Roughly select around the model using the Free Select ‘lasso’ tool. This ensures that most of the background shadows and such are cut out. It's difficult to see in the photo, but I've basically used the lasso tool to draw a shape around the model.

2 – Click ‘Select’ menu and then ‘Invert’.
3 – Use the Fuzzy Select ‘magic wand’ tool to select around the model. Change the settings (feathering etc.) to suit. Make sure the ‘Add to Current Selection’ option is on.
It's difficult to see in the photo, but I've clicked the magic wand tool on all the unselected bits of background around the model.

Keep using the magic wand tool until there’s a shimmering line tight around the model (this includes gaps between legs etc.)
4 - Click ‘Select’ and then ‘Invert’.

All being well you should have only the model selected and no bits of background.

Step 7: Fiddle with the model

With the model selected you can now fiddle with it to make it look better.
You can adjust the lightness and contrast (under the ‘Colors’ menu), sharpen the image (Filters – Enhance – Sharpen) and generally titivate it until you think it looks right.
There are plenty of GIMP tutorials online.

Step 8: Copy and paste the model onto the background

On your selected model, click ‘Edit’ and then ‘Copy’.
Then open your background photo and select ‘Edit’ and ‘Paste’.
Use the ‘Move’ tool and ‘Scale’ tool to move and resize the model as you see fit.

Step 9: Save the finished product

That’s it!

Now got to ‘File’ and ‘Export’ to save your nifty new photo. Upload to a good image hosting service (I use Photobucket) and then copy the associated URL to link to your blog/forum thread.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Bird is the Word

Finally, a crow for my crow master!

Lead-Adventure Forum member GDonk very kindly sent me a spare model from the Zombicide ‘Murder of Crowz’ expansion.

Each model in this expansion consists of a flock of six crows in flight. GDonk figured I might be able to detach one, which I duly did (choosing the easiest one to snip off).

Stick a curved bit of wire up it’s bum and hey presto, one Blood Crow, ready to flap around the frozen city!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Forgotten Treasure

So I've made a very small inroad into my Forgotten Pacts Nickstarter stuff in the shape of these treasure tokens. Very simple paintjobs but I'm happy with 'em.