• From Russia With Love

    Some days you wake and fudge your way through routine, from your morning cruller to filing your TPS reports to reheating leftover pizza. Other days you find a box on your doorstep with the image of some sort of giant undead rat monster staring at you. Those are good days. I recently received a care package from Punga Miniatures, creators of some truly spectacular resin sculpts for a certain fantasy football game, along with some other truly odd artistic endeavors. Let me welcome you to the silliness.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20967

  • Paint The Target

    April showers may bring May flowers, but before that we get a new gallery of painted models and – as with every month – someone’s gonna get a prize mailed to them. For the month of March, participants were instructed to paint something big. No snotlings and gobbers here, I wanted to see titans of the battlefield, centerpiece models, things that dominate the landscape with their mere presence. Let’s see what we got!

    From the desk of Wallorspin, which I’m sure is perpetually dappled in golden sunlight, Aeternae!

    Continue reading  Post ID 20967

  • Dossier Decks/IKRPG: Faldor Goldgrim, sole survivor

    It’s the last post of the month. Know what that means? That’s right, it’s time to crack open the Dossier Decks and … wait, no, let’s not make an NPC this time. While we’re waiting on tenderhooks for the delivery of Requiem, the new RPG setting for the Warmachine/Hordes universe, we don’t have all the rules for character creation but there’s no reason we can’t pull the cards and see what sort of character we can create that just might work as a PC once we get to grips with the new rules.

    Making characters for Requiem is going to be interesting in that the Iron Kingdoms is not your typical high fantasy setting, and a number of the standard fantasy races and classes are going to need some tweaking to make them fit. For a start, spellcasting is nowhere near as common in the Iron Kingdoms, and you’re a lot more likely to see traditional magic items represented via alchemy, weird steampunk science and runes, than hand-waved enchantment. Thematically, this can lead in one of two directions: party makeup will be more proportionately reflective of the setting with martial classes dominating , or the party will be truly exceptional with spellcasters being near unheard of in some areas.

    As a DM I generally encourage players to play whatever strikes their fancy, roll the dice and come what may, but I think for Requiem a little additional consideration into the nature of the setting may be required. The stories we tell in the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Wildemount, Theros and Ravnica all have their own distinct flavors, and I think the Iron Kingdoms deserve the same love. Some backstory and a decent Session Zero can go a long way.

    The cards have flipped! I drew from the Merchants deck, and we pulled a fancy-dressed dwarf with an eidetic memory, a distrust of elves, and a touch of survivors guilt, complete with a souvenir.

    Frankly, this lends itself beautifully to the iron Kingdoms. Rhul borders on Ios, and with the Iosans closing their borders even tighter after the events of Oblivion, anyone who was already even slightly xenophobic regarding the elves would find trust waning further. The Nyss tribes would North of Khador would also have potentially clashed with Rhulfolk as Everblight’s machinations unfolded, so we have potential reason to distrust both Iosan and Nyss elves.

    The eidetic memory and propensity to interject with infodumps are personality quirks, but our dwarf’s recent encounter with a horned gribbly gives us both potential character motivation and something for the DM to weave into the main story, or perhaps craft a personal side quest around.

    Since we’re looking to use Faldor as a PC, his personal backstory needs some good meat, but not too much, as we want his story to unfold through play. As a DM, however, let’s consider where that backstory might feed the narrative. The description states a gnarled horn, so a Gnarlhorn Satyr would be an easy fit, though more likely to lead dear Faldor into conflict with the Circle Orboros than the elves. This works for a campaign with the Circle featuring as primary antagonists, though it relegates Faldor’s anti-elf sentiments to being little more than a character quirk.

    Instead, the image brings to mind a number of agents of the dragon Everblight. I’m picturing a small merchant caravan, specializing in finer wares – Faldor’s garb doesn’t mark him as someone who spends a lot of time swinging a pickaxe – making its way through the North to a Khadoran city or settlement. Perhaps delivering some clockwork intricacies. The road is not used often, though it’s still clear and largely considered a safe route.

    Faldor is one of half a dozen Rhulfolk with the caravan. Three merchants, three trained guards – possibly Highshields – riding two per wagon; merchants at the reins, guards riding shotgun. As the sun starts to sink below the ridgeline, the temperature dips. The guard on the rear wagon suddenly goes stiff, raises his firearm to the temple of the surprised merchant beside him and pulls the trigger. The gunshot startles the dwarves on the forward two wagons, but the guard on the front wagon fires a lethal shot into the the chest of the merchant with him, eyes glazed over.

    Faldor dives from the wagon seat as his guard suddenly clutches at his head. Rolling under the wagon he hoists himself into the undercarriage. The guards are all yelling out now. Free of whatever influence had cased them to murder their charges, the front and rear guards move toward the center, barking at each other as they scan the roadside forest for threats.

    The three gather, guns pointing outward, as from nowhere snow swirls about them, bitter winds tearing at them, ice forming on their beards and brows. Bolts of dark energy slice through the blizzard, striking the guards as triggers are pulled, firing blindly. One guard drops, then another, then a piercing shriek is heard.

    Suddenly the wind stops howling, the snows dissipate, and the third guard, fallen to one knee, holds his firearm forward in a shaky grip. Smoke wafts lazily from the barrel as he falls forward, succumbing to his wounds, and there is silence.

    After a time, Faldor climbs out from under the wagon. His guards and fellow merchants are dead. Following the line of the last guard’s shot, Faldor cautiously moves to the side of the road. There, laying in the mud, is a wicked, gnarled horn. The base is shattered, a bullet having taken it from the head of its owner. Faldor is no tracker, but he can see the brush has been disturbed by somethign moving away with some haste. On a tree beside the trail, a single bloody handprint. Long, slender fingers extending from a delicate palm. Elf…

    Perhaps, thinks Faldor, it’s time to step away from the world of sales and merchandise, and into another line of work. He would take what he could from the wagons and complete as much of the delivery as he could, and then talk to the Khadorans about other opportunities…

    Meanwhile, deep in the forest, a Nyss Succubus tenderly places a poultice to the side of her head. The ragged, bleeding stump was all that remained of her horn. Her face twisted in anger, she pondered how her ambush had been undone. The dwarfs were dead… she had got them all, yes? While she had not recovered the device her mistress sought, she had at least stopped its delivery. She would rest, then return to the wagons to scour the contents. With the Rhulfolk all dead there should be no further concerts…

    Suddenly we have a reason for Faldor to be suspicious of elves, a backstory that gives him a nudge to start adventuring, a background, and a possible future nemesis, the one-horned succubus who was spurned by her mistress for her failure, and now seeks revenge against the one dwarf who survived…

    The Dossier Decks are available from SkeletonKey Games. Find your inspiration therein.


  • Riot Quest: On the wagon – Gudrun the Wasted

    I’ll start today with a confession: Gudrun has always been one of my favorite characters that I pretty much never used in Warmachine and Hordes. When Gudrun the Wanderer was released I was playing the Searforge Commission, so I was snaffling up any rhulfolk and ogrun models I could find, and for reasons I can’t explain beyond pure whimsy, I painted Gudrun blue.

    He was my Ogrun Smurf, and … shortly thereafter I succumbed to the siren call of the Harbinger of Menoth, started playing Protectorate, and never looked back. Eventually the Searforge models found a new home, and Gudrun no longer had a home on my shelves.

    This brings us to Gudrun the Wasted, something of a misleading name. Gudrun was a drunkard, so much so that he actually missed out on the entire Infernal invasion while blackout drunk. When he sobered, the world had dramatically changed and he had no idea what was going on, and promptly swore off the demon drink entirely.

    Now a teetotaller, Gudrun joins Riot Quest as a Scout hero, a whirlwind of destruction with his Mekamaul, his Berserker ability meaning he gets to roll against every adjacent model, friend or foe.

    Don’t be mislead into thinking the Mekanical Discharge is to be dismissed; while it rolls no red dice, it does pair nicely with Spotter, the common Scout ability, to ensure that targets have weakened defenses against it.

    Gudrun is not a complicated model to use, as befits the ogrun himself. An Avalanche of Insults draws in opposing models, and he promptly beats the snot out of them.

    In Warmachine & Hordes, Gudrun won’t play for the Protectorate, but he’ll play for all 7 of the other core factions.

    Advance deploy, Pathfinder and Tough will help you get Gudrun where you want him him to be, though you’ll still need to be mindful of incoming ranged attacks – DEF13 only goes so far, and the last thing your opponent wants to do is let Gudrun get into melee so he can start swinging that Mekamaul.

    Gudrun straddles in interesting fence. He wants to get into melee ot start collecting energy tokens with Force Battery, potentially earning two per turn thank to Cleave, without taking hits. ARM 16 is healthy for someone that isn’t a warjack, but those 8 wounds will still whittle away under concentrated fire.

    That said, he’s DEF 15 against ranged attacks thanks to Kinetic Distortion (as are nearby pals), and every hit he -does- take generates a power token. Assuming he survives the incoming barrage, he can then tap into the Mekamaul’s drink dispenser (who knew!) for an Energy Drink, healing d3 damage.

    I think my favorite aspect of Gudrun the Wasted is that he’s reminiscent of my favorite Retribution warjack, the Hydra. Every token pumps up the range and damage on the Mekanical Discharge ranged attack up to a max RNG13 POW13. Even if Gudrun can’t spend tokens to boost attack or damage rolls like the Hydra can, there’s a little bit of the flavor there, and the tokens increasing the range of the Kinetic Distortion is nice little buff as well.

    Gudrun the Wasted is available through your FLGS or preferred online retailer. While he may no longer be partaking of alcohol, I’m fairly certain the power flowing through that Mekamaul is somewhat intoxicating…

    Gudrun the Wasted

  • IKRPG: Figuratively speaking

    While most of us are still limited to playing remotely, there will come a time when once again we can gather in the hallowed basements, dining rooms and rec rooms of our nerd pals to engage in in-person roleplaying shenanigans. I’m really enjoying running D&D for my players online, but I can readily recognize that it’s just not the same experience as playing around a table together. One key component of this is the ability to use physical maps, tokens, and – surprise, surprise – miniatures.

    Privateer is of course keenly aware of this, and made a wide variety of models suitable for representing roleplaying characters available as part of the Kickstarter for IKRPG: Requiem, but as comprehensive as the list may be, it’s by no means the be-all and end-all of your options.

    Consider: The Iron Kingdoms boardgames and their expansions. Undercity and Widower’s Wood are a great resource for bulk models suitable to represent characters and the mobs they’re going to come up against. Undercity (and its expansions) may be more suited for Iron Kingdoms adventures, but if you’re planning on taking your party into the wilds, then Widower’s Wood will add plenty of tatzylwurms, bog trogs and gatormen to whet your appetite. (Get it? Whet? Cos they’re a bunch of wet swamp gribbles? Bah, I’m wasted here…)

    Consider: The Grind boardgame. While it wasn’t a huge success in and of itself, if you’re looking to make a custom steamjack the components inside are perfect, never mind that you’ll be able to build ten warjacks, a mix of heavies and lights, for less than the cost of two heavy warjack kits. You may have to go hunting to find a copy, but it can be worth the dig.

    Consider: Mini-crate models. A number of the models released would make great player characters, notably the Morrowan Battle Priestess currently available as a VIP model. Granted, finding a place in the party for the Gorghadra Plushie or Di Wulfe In Sheep’s Clothing might not be an option, but the Sloan Ranger and Lady Wraith would both make potential gunslinger characters, Issyria would make a great noblewoman spellcaster, the Shield Sister is pretty obvious and you can’t tell me the Disco Infernal wouldn’t make a fantastic Bard/Warlock. You can find a full list of the Mini-crate models here.

    Being able to have a visual representation of the character you’ve forged in your imagination elevates the gaming experience to new heights. No longer just a bunch of numbers scribbled on paper, there’s now a tangible avatar on the board. Never mind that, as someone who enjoys the hobby side of things, you get to paint you. And of course, you can always reach out to some of the amazing artists in the community to commission a character sketch as well…

    What sort of character are you thinking of playing?


  • Riot Quest: The stunner – Stonecold Black Bella

    I will freely admit, when I first saw that Black Bella was getting a new  model for the Wintertime Wasteland block, I was trepidatious. Not because I was scared of playing against her, not because I was nervous to figure our how to use her in either Riot Quest or Warmachine, but because the Duchess of Dread’s model from the Mayhem block had for some inexplicable reason been a huge mental stumbling block.

    I was nervous about painting another Black Bella.

    I was wrong.

    Stonecold Black Bella was a lot of fun to paint, but we’ll get to that in minute.

    In RiotQuest, Stonecold Black Bella os a Rpgue class hero, complete with the Sneak ability to help her get around the board. Given that her earlier incarnation was a Fighter, apparently it’s just too chilly in the Wintertimd Wasteland for her to fence with her dueling blades, so now she’s armed with a Telescoping Whip for melee attacks, and she’s made friends with Frostwing.

    The… owl? I wanna say owl… harasses opponents from afar, forcing them to drop their bounty tokens with the Snatchability,

    Stonecold Black Bella doesn’t have anywhere near the damage potential of Black Bella, Duchess of Dread, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be impactful. With Frostwing forcing opposing models to scrabble to pick up dropped bounty tokens and the Flankability to help allies, she’ll find room in more than a few rosters.

    For Warmachine, Stonecold Black Bella is a mercenary who’ll work for most of the Warmachine factions. Even the Protectorate, despite her filthy Thamarite tendencies (Where’s a scrutator and a wrack when you need one?).

    Frostwing is a basic POW12 ranged attack, and the telescoping blade – while still limited to 1″ melee range – is a P+S10 Weapon Master Chain Weapon attack. In and of itself, solid, but not about to one-shot a warcaster. The real value of our avian airborne assault is that while he’s flapping about the target’s head, he’s also picking their pockets for loot tokens, which Bella can then use to boost attack and damage rolls.

    Stacking with this, Dual Attack allows Frostwing to attack in melee, ignoring the target-in-melee penalty thanks to Black Penny, looting a token which Bella can then use to boost the attack or damage roll on her Telescoping Blade.

    Given that the blade also extends to 4″ reach thanks to Chain Strike, that’s now a 13″ threat range with a boostable MAT7, rolling 4d6 damage with a chain weapon (buh-bye shield bonus),  and potential boostable attack and damage on any other targets in melee range since they’ll be targeted by Blood Reaperas well.

    This means you can charge Model A, launching Frostwing with a boosted attack roll for a little nibble (and to replace the loot token you just used), swing wildly at your initial charge target, and then potentially boost the attack and damage roll on Model B, who you couldn’t see to charge at the start of the activation.

    Having spent a lot of time throwing Mage Hunter Assassins across tables in my Retribution days, it’s a fun thing to do, and Bella can bring it to every Warmachine faction as a mercenary. Granted, she brings it with an active threat to every model in her melee range, be they friend or foe, so she’s less of a Mage Hunter Assassin scalpel, and more of a Stonecold Black Bella blender.

    The last piece of the Bella puzzle is Call To Sacrifice. While the Mage Hunter Assassin has Stealth to keep her safe as she runs up the board, Stonecold Black Bella is a target. The solution isn’t cheap, but let’s face it, you’ll get plenty of utility out of a unit of Sea Dogs, especially with a pair of Riflemen and a selection of the other piratical solos that usually come to port with them.

    And then there’s painting the model. In hindsight, the job may have been easier if I’d left the telescoping blade off while working on the model, but I’m occasionally a glutton for hobby punishment.

    Painting Black Bella, Duchess of Dread, brought my table to a standstill for some time, as I struggled to get the studio scheme white armor down. Changing tack to blue armor was the trick in the end, but I’m pleased to say that Stonecold Black Bella gave me no such headaches.

    I tried for the pale armor again, and while it’s not as crisp and neat as I usually like to get my white armor, I’m happy enough with the end results, layering up through light blue/greys to the white. I am absolutely chugged with the rich blue cape, the purple hair, and while Frostwing isn’t pure white as in the art, I’m still pretty darn happy with his flappy self.

    Stonecold Black Bella was a challenge, to be sure, but a very satisfying model to work on in the end. Stonecold Black Bella is one of the five heroes in the Riot Quest: Wintertime Wasteland starter box, available through your FLGS and online retailer.

    Stonecold Black Bella, by Gdaybloke

  • On hallowed wings: The Death Archon

    The Archons have been a very popular addition to Warmachine and Hordes for Privateer Press. Is it the idea of divine manifestations soaring across the battlefield, the literal power of deities made tangible form to smite thy foes? The Menite, Morrowan and Thamarite Archons led the charge, only to be followed by the Dhunian, Primal, Blight and the Defiled Archon of the Grymkin. Now the Death Archon has taken flight.

    The troublesome ponderance here is, who is the Death Archon beholden to? Each of the other archons is bound to a specific deity or cosmic being. Menoth,  Thamar, Everblight, etc – but the Death Archon materialized at the battle of Henge Hold over a pile of corpses, perhaps drawn into being by the massive carnage of a conflict bigger than any the Iron Kingdoms had seen before.

    An embodiment of the concept of death itself, perhaps, or a cosmic counterbalance. The Death Archon didn’t appear until the other archons had entered the field. For every action, an equal and opposite reaction. If the gods of Caen were going to make themselves manifest, perhaps the universe has filled the void on the other side of the scales with bone and blades…

    Continue reading  Post ID 20967

  • SDE: Hecate Vilehorn

    It’s been awhile since I’ve painted up a chibi model – the last was the gnome Kringle prior to the Christmas season – but the other day I was just struck with the urge to work on Hecate Vilehorn, the chibi centaur necromancer, who’s been sitting primed and partially basecoated in a draw for a couple of years now. I have no idea when I’ll next play Super Dungeon Explore, and it’s certainly not a model I can repurpose for D&D any time soon, but let’s face it, the concept just freaking sings.

    I’ve always been a fan of centaurs as a fantasy species, right back to the early days of text-based open concept RPGs in the early 90’s  (and to Piers Anthony’s Xanth series back when I was devouring every fantasy series I could find at the library in the 80’s), so Hecate was on my radar the moment she was announced. for SDE models I’m normally more focused on the heroes, but her being a centaur trumped that. Add a suit of bone barding and armor and I was sold.

    Hecate is only a mini-boss, so she can’t run a whole dungeon by herself in either Classic or Arcade mode unless you’re playing with an undersize team of heroes, but she’s still set to cause the heroes some grief. Speed 8 alone means she’s going to be running through the corridors all willy-nilly (willy-filly?). Her Classic stats are solid across the board – 2R1B  with a 2 square range, 2R armour, freaking 3R magic at 6 range. Dex is her only low point. Red affinity, Hex on all of her attacks, gets more dangerous when she has minions ganging up on a hero thanks to Mob, and ignores difficult terrain.

    For two actions her Trample melee attack hits ever model in an adjacent square and knocks them down, but remember, she’s a necromancer. One action to raise any bone piles into Bone Heads, Dread Knights and Dust Mages.

    Her Soul Shard ability is the tricksy one. It lets her place a token on a hero within 3 squares and, if the hero and killed and Hecate isn’t on the board, she is resummoned back to wreak more havoc. Now imagine this happening in the middle of the boss fight…

    In Arcade mode Hecate essentially plays the same way. She’s just as dangerous, still hexing, still trampling, still returning Bone Heads to the board, still infecting a hero with her soul shard. From a Dark Consul point of view, she’s equally delightful in both game modes.\

    Painting Hecate was a lot of fun. Washes and drybrushing gave my nice fluffy magic cloud trails for her skills, while the armor itself leaned very nicely into the way I like to paint clean panels. It was long and tedious, but I’m happy with the end result. The eyes were a challenge, as chibi eyes often are, given how easy it is to make them look skewed. It didn’t help that her forward-reaching right claw is lined up in front of her right eye, interfering a little with brush access. Hecate was almost exclusively painted with P3 paints, with a Games & Gears Master Series 00/0 brush doing most of the work, and is mounted on a Dragon Forge Design Ancient Ruins II series base.

    Hecate is a Super Dungeon Explore mini-boss available from Ninja Division via their webstore. Whether you can find room for her on the tabletop or are just looking for a fun painting diversion, if you pick her up, send pics. I wanna see!

  • Riot Quest: Phantom of the Rimeshaws – Yssylla

    Silence. Emptiness. Where before there had been light, sound, visions… now only a blank void. Everblight had been the star by which she sailed. His oracle to the blighted Nyss tribes, Yssylla’s word had been that of their lord and master. From the shepherds to the striders, Yssylla had spoken for Everblight, providing guidance for the winter elves as they fulfilled the whims of the great dragon.

    Then the Claiming.

    Something happened when the Infernals came. Everblight vanished. No longer could she hear his inscrutable thoughts, begging to be… scruted… to direct her people. Yssylla was at once free from the hold the dragon had on her very soul, and stripped of everything that had elevated her above her fellow Nyss. 

    In the post-apocalyptic world that remained, would she rise or fall? She heard the call of Greygore Boomhowler as he ventured into the ruined castle of the dark prince seeking lost treasures… maybe there she will find a new niche to fill.

    A Specialist hero for Riot Quest, Yssylla is about brains more than brawn, but don’t be deceived. While she may pack the Tinker ability like all Specialists, she’s still a potent ice sorceress in her own right, and also packs a suitably pretentious feather back display. Bonus points to whoever paints her up a a peackock. 😉

    Her Freeze ability lets you deny your opponents activations by putting action die from the dice well onto their card, and her Toxic Ice Blast is one of the few area effect attacks in the game, letting you potentially damage a handful of clumped opposing models in one shot. Note that Toxic Ice Blast doesn’t discriminate between friend or foe…

    For Hordes, Yssylla is a Nyss solo for the Legion of Everblight. The dragon’s voice still ringing in her head (remember, Riot Quest is set in an alternate timeline), Yssylla’s position as an oracle and sorceress is secure.

    So secure, in fact, that she has no melee or ranged attacks whatsoever, relying entirely on her spellcasting. This can make her vulnerable to abilities that capitalize on spellcasting targets, but her Stealth will help keep her on the board long enough to earn her points cost.

    Her spells are a solid mix of offense and utility. Shatter Storm is a longtime personal favorite, giving a unit of regular ranged infantry the potential to carpet-bomb an entire line targets, or even to simply threaten opposing support models snuggled up too close to intervening models.

    Puppet Master has a long and venerable tradition of wreaking havoc on opposing accuracy, as vision blurs and what seemed like a solid hit turns out to be no more than a glancing blow. Alternatively, if you can’t afford to miss, you can give a friendly model some reassurance by giving them a second chance with a roll. Being able to pull it off with a 16″ threat range means Yssylla herself can stay quite safe while supporting that Carnivean or messing with that Blitzer.

    Toxic Blizzard rounds out the arsenal, a nice 4″ pie plate that will make a mess of single wound infantry not through the POW10 damage roll, but by inflicting the Corrosion continuous effect. As a devout Menite I’ve relished watching opponents burn under Fire effects, but Corrosion doesn’t care how much armor you have.

    Each of those abilities is potent in themselves, but it’s Unleash the Arcane that’s going to bring Yssylla to the table. With a Magic stat of 8, Yssylla’s solidly accurate with her spells and if she hits with one, she immediately gets to fire off another one. So that’s TWO puppet masters. TWO toxic blizzards corroding that unit of Temple Flameguard in Shield Wall.  TWO friendly units buffed by Shatter Storm. Or, you know, you can mix and match. Simply being able to utilize two spells a turn is a very solid thing.

        Yssylla’s, by Patrick Wilson (left) and Trevor Hyde (right, Devil’s in The Details)

    Yssylla is one of the five starting heroes in the Riot Quest: Wintertime Wasteland starter, available from Privateer Pres. Also apparently multiple painters have decided she needs a purple base.

  • 3AM Aeternae (and Falcir!)

    Bonus points to whoever gets the reference in the title. The Retribution of Scyrah was one of my two main factions for Warmachine/Hordes for a long time. My Autumnfall (as I dorkily referred to them) started coming together the moment the Retribution first released at the tail end of Mk1, and they were the first army I took to a convention (Templecon). Rahn, Vyros and Kaelyssa led me to many victories – Rahn’s in the banner image for the blog for a reason – and I took great delight in fielding Hydra and letting them snipe targets across the board under Vyros’ Birds Eye. While I am a dyed-in-the-wool Menite, the rhythm of Ios beat through my subconscious.

    While the Autumnfall may no longer be residents of the Gdaycave, I was nonetheless keen to assemble an Aeternae myrmidon, the first non-character Heavy to join the Iosan stable since House Vyre’s initial wave of heavies.

    Following House Vyre design standards, Aeternae wields asymmetrical melee weapons, along with a shoulder mounted ranged weapon. It’s worth noting that the box art has the Distortion Voulges reversed and in the wrong hands.

    Continue reading  Post ID 20967