Sunday, 20 July 2014

Normal Service Resumed.

I hadn't realized just how long it is since I last posted anything here. Work & house repairs have seriously been eating into my leisure time ( which is limited at the best of times) plus the latest plan to get my dungeon stuff into circulation went badly tits up. So in a huff I stuffed it into a large box & promptly forgot about it for a few months.

I have however decided to get back on that particular horse & have produced a master & mould for a new piece:

A classically decorated room created with the help of hot water, a litre bottle of gin & some strong elastic bands ( sounds like a honey trap for 1980s conservative politicians).
Its a nice change from carving stonework from sheets of balsa foam, the dust of which is like itching powder & now I've got the masters done for the straight walls I can begin to put together some corridor sections with the same pillar detail for those more aspirational dungeon environments.

In other news I've bought my first D&D product after an interlude of 32 years.

I wasn't initially that interested but there was a fair bit of enthusiasm for it with my local board gaming group so in a fit of madness I agreed to DM a session for a few of the other members. There are actually two of us D.M ing on consecutive weekends, it will be interesting to compare notes afterwards to see how the two groups get on. The default setting seems to be The Forgotten Realms, at least that is where the introductory mini campaign in the starter box is set; but I'm going down a different route with my own setting & scenario. Not that I've anything against the official game settings produced down the years, i'm sure they are very good, its just easier for me to remember details of stuff made up in my own head rather than trying to cope with pages of detail written by someone else.

Anyway, for £12 its a very nice little set:

The starter rulebook gives you all the basic mechanics of the game, movement, fighting, magic etc but doesn't cover character generation; however there are five pre-generated characters included in the box or you can download a basic rules pdf from Wizards of the Coast's website. The starter campaign is nicely done, though a bit of a dead loss to me, but even this is redeemed by having a short bestiary in the back of the book featuring amongst others goblins, orcs, giant spiders & four types of undead. Even the dice included are fairly decent, certainly a vast improvement over the light blue ones included in the Moldvay Basic set I bought back in 1983.

There is quite a lot that appeals to me in this iteration of the rules, I like the advantage/disadvantage mechanic whereby you roll 2 d20s & use the lowest or highest number depending on your circumstance. The character sheet is recognisably D&D, anyone who had played BECM or AD&D 1st edition would be able to pick it up & understand it straight away. I also like the fact they've included a skills section on it, each skill being modified by one of your six characteristics. Its a subtle jog to the players memory that they possess attributes other than combat skills & magic.
They've even made magic users a viable class at low level through the addition of use at will 'cantrips', 0 level spells with unlimited daily use, so no more cast one spell & then throw daggers or keep out of the way for the rest of the gaming day. My only reservation is that the balance might have swung the other way a bit, but magic users still only use d6 for hit points & have very limited access to protection  so they still have to keep out of the way when the swords start swinging.

Looking forward to running this, probably have more considered thoughts post the event. Just have to see how my group of four players cope with " The Fane of the Drowned God".

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Some Concrete Progress on the Retro Dungeon.

At long last it seems that my modern take on the original Torchlight Fantasy Products dungeon scenery could be be made commercially available. I had a brief conversation yesterday with the chap who has been producing the silicon rubber moulds for me & it turns out he is interested in producing a line of fantasy scenery, including rather fortuitously some classic dungeon terrain. Long story short, instead of starting from scratch or going down the Hirst Arts route he would prefer to produce the items from the masters I have already produced.
This from my point of view is brilliant news, having got the project to a stage where I could have started casting items & selling them I had hit the proverbial brick wall. The main problem for me was lack of time, due to already having a very full work load running my own company & to a lesser extent lacking the I.T. skills to have the confidence to set up an internet shop front to sell the product.
So it seems in one chance conversation things could be full steam ahead in bringing the Retro Dungeon project to a satisfactory conclusion.
We have yet to hammer out the final details but its more than likely that we will crowdfund the project, which should go smoothly given that the masters, moulds, casting & retail infrastructure are already in place. Its just a case of settling the financial situation to both parties satisfaction and then its just the litmus test of the buying publics interest to pass!

Just as a reminder of what the project looks like here are a few shots of an adventuring party taking on a recently produced mega-dungeon represented with my stuff & some original Torchlight product.

The first section of Barrowmaze, the parties Cleric attempts to turn a Ghoul.

Close-up of the above.

Skeletons await discovery behind a concealed door.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Cthonians. Modern & Classic.

Carrying on my recent theme of painting RAFM Call of Cthulhu monsters I give you the Cthonian.

I still need to finesse the highlighting a bit & put it on a base, but its almost there.

As a contrast here is Grenadier Models rendering of the same theme from 1983:

The two together:

I'm hard pressed to say which of the two sculpts I prefer; the animation of the modern version is very good, but its a bit too Hollywood whereas the flaccid pose of the earlier sculpt somehow more sinister. I've stuck to the colour scheme shown in Chaosiums 'Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters' rather than going with the current fashion for flesh coloured or purple tentacles popularised by Fantasy Flight Games, this is after all a 'Retro' dungeon.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Chaugnar Faugn & A Yithian.

More results from my current enthusiasm for all things Lovecraftian, though strictly speaking Chaugnar Faugn is a creation of Frank Belknap Long:

The Elephantine obscenity at his ease on the Plateau of Tsang.
Do think this miniature would make a great substitute for the demon idol featured on the cover of the AD&D Players Handbook.

One of the cone shaped beings inhabited by the Great Race of Yith.

A comparison with an earlier incarnation from the Grenadier Miniatures Call of Cthulhu Creatures set.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

RAFM Call of Cthulhu Range. Elder Thing.

Still quietly working through the job lot of Cthulhu stuff bought in a moment of madness last year. The latest is an Elder Thing, one of the race of nearly extinct beings featured in my favourite Lovecraft story "At the Mountains of Madness".

Rather than portray him in the antarctic setting of the story I have based him in a somewhat warmer climate during his races prehistoric heyday.
No comparison photograph with an earlier Grenadier Miniatures equivalent this time because I don't own one, this may be rectified at some point in the future though.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ral Partha Dog Handler?

Another very tiny 25mm miniature from Ral Partha c.1982, this time a chap in classic fantasy male slave attire with a very large 'status' dog:

Presumably a Tom Meier figure given the level of detail present but I stand to be corrected on this.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Some Re-Discovered Ral Partha & Citadel Miniatures.

These poor fellows have been languishing in storage since our house move a few years back & its high time they were treated to a new paint job.

These are mainly Ral Partha elves & magic users but there are a couple of oddities featured front & centre.
There is also this rather confused looking Citadel miniatures M.U:

This was given to me by a friend at college after a very brief dalliance with D&D. He has had a fresh coat of paint but I've stuck with Steve's original colour scheme.

One thing you do notice these days with early Ral Partha stuff is just how tiny it was, here are a few of their Adventurers up against some almost contemporary Denizen undead which aren't huge themselves by modern 28mm standards.

What it does bring home is just how good a sculptor Tom Meier, fabulous detail & anatomy on such small figures.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dark Young of Shub Niggurath.

Not sure if this miniature really belongs in the retro-dungeon, but a little imagination & fiddling with stats could make it suitable for the Retro Wilderness:

This is a RAFM miniature from ( I think) the early 2000's

I picked up a job lot of Cthulhu monsters & investigators off eBay some time ago & have finally got my mojo together to paint them.
An interesting contrast with the earlier ( c. 1983) Grenadier Miniatures version from their Call of Cthulhu Creatures boxed set:

I'll post a few more of these comparison shots over the next few weeks, at least where I have the equivalents.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Grenadier Miniatures Skeleton Looters.

The latest figures off the workbench of doom are these bizarre creations from the talented hands of Andrew Chernak:

The idea of skeletons looting sausages, a suckling pig, a small child & what appears to be a beehive is just too bonkers to believe: unless we're talking a necromancer with very specific requirements for his breakfast. Surely though, orc or goblin looters would have been more in keeping.
Nevertheless great figures again from a bygone era and a real joy to paint, it will be a long time before I get to tackle anything quite so unique again.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Resin Dungeon Terrain.

Before going out to celebrate the New Year last night I finally managed to finish painting a complete set of the components that will comprise the dungeon terrain sets.

To mark the occasion I put together a quick dungeon to show off what will be available in the boxes when they go on sale:

And a pair of action shots with some 28mm miniatures to show the scale better:

Still need to sort out the box inserts to keep the pieces safe in transit & do the box art but I'm nearly at the finishing post.