Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Big Hairy Beasties

“Yer mummy and daddy are out hunting, so yer ol’ grandad is looking after yer tonight little ‘un.” The warm firelight lit up the creases in Horgoth’s worn features as he beamed at the tiny babe nestled in his arms.

“Tellya what, I’ll tell you a story…” The old warrior settled back in his chair as his granddaughter squirmed. “Once upon a time there was this band of adventurers, who’s master wuz a silly bugger wizard what ‘ad got ‘imself killed, so they wuz on their own…”

"First there wuz Esmillia – best thief in the business. There weren’t nuthin’ she couldn’t nick, an’ she’d half-inched quite a few shiny things for us. Oh, an’ yer ol’ grandad had a bit of a soft spot for ‘er,” he said with a chuckle. "I reckon she had a soft spot for me too, ‘til she got herself bit by this great hairy thing one night. Next thing we knows she’s sprouting fur an’ holwin’ at the moon. Lucky I had me silver necklace with me.”

“Then there wuz the Grodnar Brothers – strong as oxes they wuz, an’ terrible ferocious when it got to fightin’. Aye, they’d serve you in a scrap well enough, but they weren’t the sharpest swords in the scabbard. One day we finds a potion store an’ they decides to have a drink. Ever seen a man change into a monkey? No, I don’t suppose you have. Let’s jus’ say that as soon as they caught whiff of a gorilla nest they wuz off!”

He sighed and then nodded to a shadowy corner of the room where a large stuffed animal loomed. “You’ve met Boris – he wuz our master’s animal companion, an’ stuck with us when the ol’ fool got zapped. Now ol’ Boris wuz as faithful as they came – loyal and protective too… He saw me through some bad times – when Esmillia wuz tryin’ to claw me face off an’ the Grodnar’s had run off to make acquaintances with lady apes… I’d ‘ave starved if it wasn’t fer ‘him.” He sniffed. “Good eatin’ on a bear if you cooks it properly.”

“’course Esmillia calmed down an’ learned to control her urges in the end, an’ eventually, believe it or not, became yer granny! Jus’ goes to show dun’ it…” Horgoth looked down fondly at his granddaughter as she snuggled down to sleep, little fangs twinkling as she yawned.

More minis from the swap-meet - a werewolf, two ape men (standing in for white gorillas) and a bear. The werewolf is particularly interesting as, being originally a Superfigs superhero, I had to hide the jumpsuit with greenstuff - my first attempt at sculpting fur. Doesn't look too bad if you squint!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Construct-ive Comments

The Jade Foo

One day there appeared among the High Circles of Felstad a wizard from the mysterious lands of the Orient. “I am the Great Foo – the mightiest enchanter who ever lived!” said he. “And I challenge whosoever may dare to best me in a competition to build the greatest construct ever seen!”

Only one lowly wizard stepped forward. “Aye, I will take your challenge,” said he. And thus they gathered in the Stone Square. The Great Foo called forth from the ether a huge block of jade and, with the finest of instruments, set to carve.

Meanwhile the other wizard merely took to a stool and looked to the stony ground, picking up handfuls of dirt before letting it slip through his fingers. “Do you not carve?” asked Foo. “Let me be and see to your own business,” came the reply.

After much toil The Great Foo was finished, and there before him stood a mighty jade construct in the form of the lion creatures that guard the temples in the Mysterious East. It was much admired by the crowd, unlike the other wizard, who was still simply sifting the dirt through his fingers.

A moment later and he rose, inspected the jade construct and patted it on the back. “It is a fine creature,” said he. “Do you not build a construct?” asked Foo. “Oh yes,” said the other, “’tis on his back – see.” Foo took a magnifying glass and looked upon his creature’s back.

There, hopping about, was a tiny flea, carved out of a pebble.

The Great Foo immediately admitted defeat, and did make a gift of his creature, thenceforth to be known as the Jade Foo, to his victor. Magnanimous in victory, the other gifted Foo the flea, and thus the great Oriental wizard returned to his mysterious land much humbled and with an uncomfortable itch whenever he boasted about his magical prowess.

The Rude Mechanical

Once there was a wizard in Felstad whose irascible nature was well known. This fellow made enemies easily, and, once displeased with a person, he would vex and tease him with cruel taunts and jests.

His favourite method of vexation was to employ a clockwork construct, made in the form of a brass monkey. He would send this monkey to his target’s home or place of work, whereforth it would caper unceasingly, mocking the person’s walk, speech and mannerisms ‘til the target was fair driven mad by its mockery.

Once the wizard fell out with Orgus the mighty swordsman. Soon enough the monkey appeared in Orgus’ training ground and did prance and whirl in a cruel parody of his fencing practice. However Orgus was wise to the wizard’s ways, and immediately threw down his sabre and simpered like a weakling.

“Oh how I do love thy creator!” he declared to the monkey. “Oh how I would see no ill come of him! Please rude mechanical, do not harm thy master, I implore!” He kicked the sword to the monkey’s feet. “I expressly forbid thee to pick up that sabre and run thine master through with it, for it would vex me sorely were you to do so!”

Of course, the brass monkey did exactly that – he picked up the sabre and did slay the wizard.

Felstad was freed from the wizard’s wicked ways and the gambols of his rude mechanical, but it is said that when a construct slays it’s creator, strange things happen to it’s mind. Of the monkey and the sabre, darker tales may yet be told.

Twiggy Mommet

In a village just outside Felstad there lived a witch whose bountiful garden was well known. Many a villager would approach to buy fruit and vegetables superior to any found in a market or their own little plots.

However once there came a great famine, and the poor villagers soon had no money with which to buy the food that, whilst their soil lay parched and cracked, still grew in the witches garden. “I will not feed you ‘til you pay me!” answered her to their pleas.

And thus each night the hungry villagers would steal down to her garden, which surrounded the cottage in which she slept, and out of desperation took what they needed, leaving such payment as they could scrape – old trinkets, notes of debt, promises of payment and such.

The witch grew mightily vexed at these nightly raids and called to her scarecrow Twiggy Mommet. “I would have you guard my plots against more than crows,” she demanded. “From henceforth, should you find anything in my garden, you are to throw it out!” Twiggy Mommet nodded, and the witch went to bed happy.

She arose the next morning to sounds of much rejoicing! Lookng out of her window she saw that the scarecrow had indeed thrown everything out of her garden – all the apples, pears, cabbages, carrots, turnips, greengages, damsons, celery and other sundry things. Everything thus expelled was eagerly caught by the villagers who had gathered on the other side of the fence and now sang in praise of Twiggy Mommet.

“Idiot stick man!” yelled the witch and, still in her nightdress, did run out into her garden to berate the construct. However Twiggy Mommet would suffer nothing to enter the plot and so grabbed the witch by her shift and threw her over the fence, just like a large marrow! Thus chastened, the witch did build a new cottage with a larger garden - all the more to feed her neighbours when they were in need.

The great buildings of Felstad have long since spread over the village, but it is said that somewhere there is a small plot of land lying untouched by the builders of such edifices, for it is guarded still by Twiggy Mommet.

The Statue of Duke Alonso

Duke Alonso was the noblest and richest man in Felstad, and had become so, like many noble and rich men, by never paying the full amount for anything. In fact, should Duke Alonso avoid paying for something altogether, then so much the better!

Thus many a tradesman was ruined by Duke Alonso, for they only received part payment for their services, if they received anything at all. Those impudent enough to raise complaint were set upon by Duke Alonso’s henchmen, whilst those high-born enough to take him to the courts had their complaints obfuscated and delayed by Duke Alonso’s solicitors (one of the few people he ever paid in full).

One day Duke Alonso desired a permanent monument to his greatness, and commissioned a wizard to make a gold statue in his likeness. The wizard, not knowing of Duke Alonso’s ways and eager to please such a powerful nobleman, set to work on the most dazzling and lifelike statue ever seen.

After many months of toil, the wizard arrived at Duke Alonso’s palace for the great unveiling. Duke Alonso had invited all the aristocracy to witness the event, whilst the low-born gathered at the palace gate, muttering and grumbling, for they had provided much of the fare for that day, but had yet to receive payment.

“Thank you for your work,” said Duke Alonso to the wizard. “But I see a loose thread on the silver cloth you have used to cover my statue, thus I will pay you half of what was agreed.” Much perplexed, the wizard was taken aside by a servant. “It is Duke Alonso’s way to never pay the full price.” he was informed. “Then my toil shall be undone!” vowed the wizard, and thence he did cast a spell.

Amid much pomp the statue was finally unveiled. But instead of a glittering gold sculpture there stood a half-finished piece of corroded bronze. “See how Duke Alonso gets what he paid for!” declared the wizard. “And see how he pays for what he deserves!” At once the statue jerked into life and did hook Duke Alonso around the neck with it’s one arm. The thing dragged Duke Alonso to the palace gate and did kick it open to allow access to those outside. 

Thenceforth it went, followed by the crowd, and kicked in the doors to Duke Alonso’s vaults. “Take what you are owed from Duke Alonso!” said the wizard. “But take not a crown more, lest the statue of Duke Alonso kick down your door too!” To this day the citizens of the Alonsoville Quarter are well reputed for paying their debts promptly, and in full.

H. Toddlebrew, Legends of Felstad, as Collected During My Recent Expedition: Ulfenhalle College of Magick Press

During our last VBCW big game, some of us Frostgrave fans held a small swap-meet, during which I got some more minis for the bestiary, including these figures I have done up as constructs.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Otherworldly Creatures

“…so it’s always best to go straight in the belly, then hoik yer sword upwards. You’ll be up to your elbows in bear guts, but it does the job.”

Warming to the subject of killing things, Horgoth settled back in the chair as he filled his old pipe.

“’course, there’s other things up there that’s worse ‘an bears ‘an such… You ever heard of genies? Well don’t believe all you’ve read about ‘em in yer fairy tales. Nasty buggers they are – promise you the world one minute, the next they’re smashing yer head on a rock like it’s a melon. I seen it happen to an ol’ mate o’ mine…”

He paused to light his pipe, watching as the bad-smelling smoke swirled among his coughing audience.

“Wraiths… now they’re dodgy… can’t harm ‘em see? Unless you go some wizard to magic up yer sword. Otherwise they just comes at you – through wall an’ everything! Let ‘em touch you an’ you’ll end up like an’ ol’ chum o’ mine an’ shrivel up like an ol’ prune…”

His audience shifted and whimpered slightly as he scrunched up his face before breaking out into a grin.

“Now their cousins the frost wraiths is a bit easier if you get a strike in, but worse if they touches you. Yer heart freezes and the blood seeps from yer eyes and turns to icicles – least that’s what happened to my ol’ mate – I can see ‘im now… screamin’ an’ such…”

As he waggled his stained fingers in front of his eyes, a few onlookers cried.

“Now ghouls – ghouls is tough, but’ll bleed easily enough from a normal blade. They wuz once like you an’ me see? Only they got a taste for yooman flesh and now they’d eat you as soon as look at you! Gotta watch ‘em when they get together, ‘cos if they surround you they’ll be chomping up yer bones, slurping on yer guts an’-“

“Yes that’s quite enough!” wailed the ashen-faced teacher as her class of tearful little ones huddled shivering around her. “I mean, let’s thank Mister Horgoth for his most interesting talk, and see if one of the other dads would like to tell us what he does at work… Mister Carter – I believe you drive an, er, cart…?

More things to cross off the creature list, this time some lovely figures from Otherworld Miniatures. These minis painted up a treat and I’m very happy with how these came out, especially the genie.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

More Cultists and, er, Something...

As a fanatical servant of the Liche Lord, Friedrich von Unaussprechlichen had been bequeathed many gifts from his undead master; the most important of course being the gift of life after his ruined body was saved from the clutches of a pack of ravenous ghouls.

Another gift was the barbarian, who had suddenly appeared among Friedrich’s followers after silently stealing up to the camp fire one evening. “I dreamt of Bone Face” grunted Krum, “he led me here.”

Friedrich had discovered his next gift quite by chance – on a whim he had decided to explore a ruined tavern, only to discover Morgas - a grizzled veteran who had faithfully led dozens of expeditions into the frozen city for his employer, only to brutally slay the entire band one moonless night. Von Unaussprechlichen found him the next day, standing stock still among the carnage, humming an ancient lullaby. Upon seeing the wizard he dropped to one knee and offered his bloody axe in supplication.

Perhaps the most disappointing gift was ‘Worm’ – a small, slight fellow (it suited Friedrich to assume he was male, although his high, tittering voice and long robes made it hard to tell) who was supposed to be his new apprentice. Worm was proficient enough, but his slimy, obsequious manner and the way he constantly fidgeted with the small brass pipe he used in lieu of a wand set the wizard’s remaining teeth on edge.

They found the strangest and most unsettling gift one cold and misty morning, standing just outside the cracked stone circle within which they had made their camp.

“What is it?” asked his apprentice, which in itself made Friedrich uneasy, for Worm never questioned, or indeed ventured an independent opinion on, anything.

Keeping his distance, the wizard studied the creature: it’s front half dominated by a hellish toothy maw of dripping teeth, flanked by two large horns. It’s hide was covered in a strange blue-ish material, neither fur nor feather. But the worse part of this thing was it’s hindquarters – a horrifying assemblage of brass gears, rods and levers.

As it shifted it’s back legs slightly gears whirred and valves hissed open and shut. In jerking movements it turned to face the pair and lowered it’s eyeless head.

“I’ve no idea – demon? Construct? An abomination from the breeding pits perhaps… Whatever it is, it appears to be at our disposal…”

“It's beautiful..." Worm exclaimed, giggling and hopping slightly from one foot to the other. "Such a marvel is a joy to behold!”

Von Unaussprechlichen looked askance at his apprentice and frowned.

A while back I signed up for the Lead-Adventure forum’s sprue exchange, where members can put any unwanted bits into a box and post them off to the next person on the list, who takes what he/she fancies, puts in some more bits and then posts it on. By the time it reached me, near the end of the list, there wasn’t much that I could use, except these minis – some of them missing a weapon or shield but nothing that couldn’t be remedied. I thought it’d be fun to use them to beef up my cultist warband. I'm not particularly enamoured with my paintwork on these, here they are!