Saturday, 24 August 2019

D&D Monsters - Let's Hunt (and paint) Some Orc

As you may know, if your a regular reader, I am slowly assembling a collection of monsters to use in D&D.  I've already done kobolds, goblins and hobgoblins, and have some nice Reaper Bones gnolls, ogres and bugbears in progress.  However, I've struggled to find appropriate orc minis for D&D.

When I'm building a collection of D&D monsters I like them to fit the Monster Manual description, or represent the monster as I've altered them.  Correct depiction of equipment is important, as it gives the players visual clues, such as whether it has high strength or dexterity, which in turn might suggest tactics.  A poorly armoured creature that is hard to hit likely has a high dexterity, thus spells and effects that give it a dexterity save are probably not the best option.
It's also important that the miniatures be either already in my collection, or easily obtainable.
Finally, I'm a big fan of both the old WotC prepaints and Reaper bones, simply because of the durability of the figures when dumped in a box at the end of a session.  Hard plastic minis are great for wargaming where they are to some extent protected by their bases (especially if unit based), and I tend to take more care over the storage and transport of my armies, but the roleplaying minis get a fair few knocks.  Metal minis are pretty much out of the running for this reason.  I'll use metal for characters, where they might be better looked after (they have their own section of my D&D minis carry box), but for ordinary monsters, generally I avoid it.

I've looked at using Mantic's orcs, of which I have a load, unsurprisingly.  I've got even more of the Lord of the Rings orcs from GW.  I got the big collection of orcs in Reaper's first Bones kickstarter, and have also bought a few of the smaller orcs they also did in 'Bonesium'.  Finally, I have a fair selection of the WotC prepaints, in the various different designs (some truly horrible) that they experimented with over the years.

Taking each one in turn, the Mantic orcs are nice, but seem over armoured for the description in the monster manual (hide armour, battle axe and javelin).  They do have the right weapons, but I'd have to lose the shields.  Also being hard plastic, they lack the durability I ideally want.
Mantic orc from my Vanguard orcs.  Too heavily armoured (and hard plastic)

The Lord of the Rings orcs are also nice, and have a pleasing variety to them.   Some of them have heavier armour than I would like, and I'd have to do a lot of weapon swaps, and again, they are hard plastic, so less sturdy than I am looking for.  Proof of this is that my box of Mordor has a lot of orcs with half bows or no swords or spear ends.
LotR orc from my Battle Games in Middle Earth armies

The two Reaper orc types have issues with equipment.  The smaller ones have either sword, spear or bow, and are too well armoured.  They also look a bit skinny and feeble for how I imagine orcs. the larger ones are too big, approaching ogre size, though I don't mind my orcs being big.  They have a lot of metal plates or mail for armour, though the plates could be leather (and the Reaper Learn to Paint Kit does exactly this).
Small Reaper orc

Large Reaper orc

The WotC orcs have a lot of variety, but the first design they did, (way back in 2003) has a fairly chunky orc with a scimitar (which they tended to use back in 3rd edition days).  It wears a strange collection of straps, plates that could be leather or metal with studs, and has fine plaited hair.
WotC prepainted orc

I approached the WotC orc as a 'least worst' choice, though it has since grown on me.  It needs a bit of work to fit how I want it to look.  The scimitar is replaced with an axe, and although I have plenty of  spare axes, such as from Mantic orcs or dwarves, I went for something a little more elaborate with the axe from the Mantic salamanders.  This is pinned into place where the scimitar was cut off.  The mini also has an empty scabbard, which I carefully cut off, apart from the top part and belt on my test model.  I had ideas of adding a pouch from green stuff, or perhaps repurposing it to hold javelins.  In the end I decided to leave it as it was on later models and simply add some wire javelins so it looks like a sort of big quiver (is there a special name for a javelin quiver?)

Repainted and re-equipped WotC orc

I'm now at the stage of having four ordinary orcs finished and am working on a few more plus some 'specials'.  That should give me enough for any encounter, but just to make life difficult for myself, for the next adventure I need a handful of orcs that are recognizably orcs, but look different.

Of course, once the adventurers have finished, I might need the following, another WotC prepaint with scimitar swapped for an axe.
WotC prepainted orc skeleton

If you think I might have missed any potential orcs, bearing in mind the conditions above, please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

D&D Monsters - Into The Sewers

As part of my long term goal of building up a collection of monsters for D&D (and other) roleplaying, I've recently painted some creatures for some encounters that take place in a sewer.
Amongst other nasties, the party have encountered rat swarms, for which I used the rat swarm from Reaper's Bone minis (I believe it was part of their first kickstarter).

Four Reaper rat swarms

And as seen from above

These are nice minis, and there is a surprising amount of detail.  I hadn't realised until I was painting, that the rats are swarming over a skull.  Nice!  The painting was pretty straightforward.  A basecoat/undercoat of VGC Beasty Brown, a highlight dabbed onto each rat body of VGC Leather Brown, then pick out the tails and noses with VMC Dwarf Flesh and paint the skull appropriately.  The whole lot was given a wash of a 50/50 mix of Army Painter Strong and Soft Tone washes, then the base was painted VGC Charcoal Grey.  I did some of the swarms with a few darker coloured rats for variety.

I am tempted to paint up one or two of the WotC pre-painted rat swarms.  These are much bigger, being on a 'Large' base.  I could use the huge swarm and it could split into up to four smaller swarms, dividing hit points between them, and they could join up to form a bigger swarm again, recombining their remaining hit points.

But I wanted something truly impressive for the sewer, and one monster fits the bill.  The Otyugh.
I have a couple of these minis, so I prepared one for repainting, keeping the other to use in case I needed it in a hurry.  Well I got it painted, and it acquitted itself well last session, nearly killing Citronella, the dwarf cleric, before being badly wounded and slinking off to lick it's wounds.  It's also memorable for being the first time the party have really worked well as a team, and they managed to crank out an impressive amount of damage (over 100 points in two rounds).

The original Otyugh with the WotC paint job

My painted Otyugh

The Otyugh wasn't much more complicated to paint, the effect was a series of lighter drybrushes (khaki, bone white) over a basecoat of VGC Earth, followed by a wash of AP 
Strong and Soft Tone wash, then a final drybrush highlight.
Teeth and spikes were picked out, and the creature seems to have patches of some sort.  I initially painted these as bone plates, but didn't like the result, so repainted them a kind of mossy green.  Perhaps something grows on it's body?  Drool was added to the toothy maw with all purpose glue.

I also painted up a group of undead for the later stages of the adventure. 

Firstly a newly painted undead, one of the Reaper translucent bones minis.  All this needed was a green ink wash and the bones painting in, starting with a dark brown then highlighting up to off white. I really like the ghostly effect.

This is a much older mini from the first or second Reaper bones kickstarter.  I painted it last year, but this will be the first time I'll get to use it.  The paint job is similar to the Mantic wraiths I did here.  I'd love to see undead with the armour of this figure using the translucent Bonseium of the first mini.  the ghost pirates in Bones 4 are kind of like that.

If you want to see the tiles I built for the sewers, you can find them here.

EDIT; oopsie, I realise I've already posted the wraith above before.  The pictures here are better though, so I'll keep them in.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Kings of War Battle - 500 points Ogres vs Goblins

I recently got in a couple of games of Kings of War with good pal Merlin.

The first game was a quick 500 point battle with us both trying out new armies.  I used my new ogres and he used his goblins.

As the host Merlin had come up with the scenario, based loosely on one of the ones in the rule book (or in Clash of Kings 2019).

The Rocky Plains of Babdos.

A clash of 500pts between Goblins and Ogres.           Loosely based on Pillage p86.

Games lasts 6 turns, then throw a d6, on a score of 4+ play one last turn.

Brak-na-Hak sniffed the air, he did not like this eerie place of rocks, something was wrong, very wrong. He had been told that the highly prized Claw-foot, a gnarled healing root grew upon the plains of Babdos amidst the strangely formed rock formations that helped make him feel so uneasy. Brak-na-Hak flicked a hand sideways, indicating to his warriors that they should fan out-it was then that he spotted the goblins. It seems the ogres were not the only ones looking for Claw-foot; Brak-na-Hak hefted his axe and grinned an evil grin at the thought of the fight to come.; there would be blood on the rocks this day. 

Set-up: place d2+1 objective markers on the battlefield-these represent the Claw-foot (not in blocking terrain).
Both players roll a die, highest score places the first objective marker, then players alternate placing markers until they are all placed (at least 12” apart). 
Then players throw again, the highest score chooses table edge and places their first unit.
Players then alternate deploying units until both forces are deployed.

Note: The strange rock formations on the Plains of Babdos are all counted as 'blocking terrain' with a height of 4.
Also: The stones have an aura that affects any unit within 3” of them. The stones have witnessed much bloodshed over the years  causing any unit within 3” to gain +1 to their 'Waver' Nerve value.

Objective: To 'control' more objectives at the end of the game than your opponent. To control an objective you must have a unit within 3” of it with no enemy units contesting it.  

My 500 points of Ogres consisted of;
Brak-na-Hak, Army Standard (I used my painted ogre leader for him)
1 Horde of Ogre Warriors with the Brew of Haste
1 Regiment of Ogre Warriors with two handed weapons
1 Regiment of Red Goblins

Merlin's 500 points of goblins were;
Krag, Goblin Biggit on Fleabag
1 Regiment of Trolls
1 Regiment of Fleabag Riders
1 Regiment of Fleabag Sniffs

The Battle
Here's the battle report, I'm trying a slightly more concise format than my usual wordy one. Please let me know which you prefer in the comments

The rocky plains of Babdos

The goblin's lair (though they attacked from a different table edge)

The armies prepare for battle

The Goblin Host

The Ogre attackers (red goblins can just be seen on the distant hill)

The goblins advance, keen to drive the ogres away

Trolls and fleabag riders accompany Krag the goblin Biggit

The Fleabag sniffs have seized one objective, while an ogre regiment has another

Fleabag riders charge their red goblin cousins

The red goblins hold out (just), but lose the will to fight

Ogre warriors charge the goblins, killing Krag, while Brak-na-Hak slinks through the woods

The fleabag sniffs swing round to try and flank the ogre warriors while the Fleabags finish off the red goblins

Brak-na-Hak charges through the wood to hit them in the flank, but does no damage.  The ogre warrior units make short work of the trolls and then turn to face the remaining goblin units

The sniffs shoot at the approaching ogres, hoping to break the already damaged unit, but do little to keep them at bay.   The Fleabag riders 'mishear' the order to charge the horde and prefer to hold onto their objective, hopeful of holding it against the ogres.

Ogre warriors and Brak-na-Hak make short work of the sniffs, the warriors advancing further to claim an objective.  The horde knocks the fight out of the fleabags, but can't quite wipe them out.

Unable to do attack, the fleabags hold their position, only to be wiped out when the horde next charges them.  Meanwhile the rest of the ogre force ensures it holds the objectives

At the end of the battle not a goblin is left on either side.  The ogres hold all the objectives, and will doubtless be raiding the goblin caves for more slaves.

A great fun battle, the final result doesn't show that I felt it could go either way for the firs few turns.  The Fleabags failing their 'Yellow Bellied' roll and not charging my ogre warriors was a turning point.  The ogres had already taken some damage and might well have been destroyed.
The scenario helped as well.  I think we were all pretty much focused on the objectives, heading to them (hence my deploying the Red Goblins way out on the flank) and we only abandoned objectives if it looked like we could reclaim them.  The effect of the stones was nice too.

Crafting Sewer Tiles

The current adventure in my Terramar campaign involves some wandering around in sewers.  The sewers are the traditional fantasy style sewers large enough for people to walk through and walkways for easy exploring.  Some Roman sewers aside, this is far more appropriate for Victorian cities, but it is expected in fantasy games (and there are reasons for it in this particular city).

Anyway, I looked at my Heroic Maps sewers,  they are very nice, but a bit too advanced for my needs.  I wanted more a sort of oval tunnel where the adventures will have to wade through the waste and have little room to the side.

I played around with Dundjinni, a great software tool, sadly now no longer available (if you look at the website it does give you the option to buy, but I understand it's no longer reliable, and you can lose your money).  It was pretty easy to design narrow tunnels, and then some wider ones with walkways, and finally a confluence chamber for several tunnels to meet.
I printed these out ready for use, none of which really merits a blog post.

Then however we had to postpone the session for a week, so I decided to make proper tiles.  I've done these types of tiles before, usually using Heroic Maps designs (see here and here for example).  I tweaked the method slightly, as I am experimenting with finding the best way to do these, as I find them very useful.

I used copier paper boxes as the corrugated card is quite thin.  I used three layers for each tile, with the direction of the corrugations in the middle layer at 90 degrees to the outside.  Where the tiles had a sunken area, such as the tunnels with walkways, I just used two layers for the sunken sections.  The printed floor plans were stuck in place on the cardboard.

Where I wanted to show the walls, I used black Foam board cut to 1/4" strips, so no painting required.  Essentially I was borrowing from my previous method of using craft foam, but this gives deeper walls.  Placed on a black cloth they look pretty good, and certainly gave the claustrophobic feel I wanted.
Narrow sewer tunnel, wider sewer tunnel with walkway ending and wider sewer tunnel

The confluence chamber

I also crafted some rooms to connect to the sewer system where some humanoid creatures live.  Again I used Dundjini and the method given above.  The doorways are just wide enough for the Dungeon Saga doors and in play I used various bits of Terrain Crate furnishings.  As the party has not (yet) had a combat here, it helps break the assumption that as soon as the DM gets out floorplans there will be a fight.

If you want to see some of the nasties who live here, check out this post.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Kings of War - 15mm League of Rhordia - More Halflings

I've been working on reinforcements to my League of Rhordia army, this time I've got some more halflings done.

Searching through one of my many boxes of unpainted minis I found several bags of Essex Miniatures halflings.  There were enough for another troop of the scouts, another regiment of archers, and a couple of regiments of halflings with various weapons.  I put the archers on one side and concentrated on the scouts and a regiment of the others.

The Scouts are pretty much the same as the previous troop, though I chose a different mini for the leader, simply gluing some copper wire on his back for a bow.

I didn't have enough spear armed minis for a regiment of spearlings, but I had a start.  Looking at the spears I thought they were a bit short, even for a halfling.  When you're that small you want as long a spear as possible to keep the foe away.  I'd already replaced the pikes on the Dogs of War here, so I used the same process to re equip not just the models with spears, but also to convert some of the others into spearlings.  To make them look more like a unified fighting force I added shields made simply from card circles cut using a hole punch and the card from the back of a notebook.  When I checked the stats for halfling spearlings I found they had Defence of 3, suggesting the minimum of armour, so I suppose I could have managed without shields, but I like the look.
I also gave them a standard (clip art) and replaced the Warhammer Empire standard on the archers with a similar standard.


I'm pleased with the end result, next time I do halflings I have a plan for some more cavalry, but I'd also like to build up a regiment (or two) of halfling Braves.  Essex do some nice halflings with farm weapons and mining tools, and I think they'd look good in an irregular unit of militia.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The War Crow Hatches!

My good friend and some-time co blog writer, Merlin, now  has his own blog.

You can find him here.

Monday, 8 July 2019

D&D Minis - Francis' Friends (part 4)

When I showed you the undercoated minis for Hana the human rogue and Citronella the dwarf cleric the idea was that Citronella's player would paint them.  However, work and life got in the way, so i've finished them off.

Citronella's player sent me a character sketch which gave me the colours to work with, and Hana's player showed me a picture at the FLGS that gave me some ideas.

The wave design showing her allegiance to the Ocean god.

I tried to keep to a fairly limited pallet of muted colours so she can sneak around.

Hana carries, and regularly uses, a Healing Potion.

In the current adventure the heroes have been exploring an old 'Dragon Shrine'.  It has been overrun with kobolds (you can see my kobolds here and here) and their pets.
The bulk of kobold encounteres include giant Rats, but the tribe had an Ambush Drake, perhaps they think its a bit like a dragon?
The Ambush Drake was a WotC D&D prepaint, and wasn't put together very well.  It had a bad lean, due partly to the two halves not being fitted correctly.

Wonky Ambush Drake  

A quick paintjob and a rebase improves it considerably; I was able to give a more upright posture when I based it.

As the party are close to finishing the current adventure, I'd better get some minis ready for the next one.