Saturday, 24 March 2018

CLXVI. Legen: Sir Pelial and the Tracker of Holt Megla

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Sir Pelial, the Aelf, and the Murdered Knight were lost in a thick fog. They could not find their way out, wandering for days among the trees. They met no living soul, but heard strange whispers from all around. 

The travelers were rescued at last, when a large, friendly, bearded man emerged from the eerie mist. "Lost our way in the fog, have we," said the man in a booming voice. "I am Westcott, a tracker. Come with me, knight. I shall take you to Wose Hall."

Following the man, Sir Pelial arrived to a clearing where a large wooden house stood. There was no fog there, and the house looked safe and inviting, with smoke billowing from the four chimneys above its red shingles. This was Wose Hall, a tavern and inn, shelter for those who travel through these perilous woods. The knight's party sat with Westcott and he told them much about the place they were at.

"Holt Megla is a dangerous forest. Here, the fog never scatters, and it is teeming with shadows and ghosts. Those who venture inside have a hard time finding their way out. The things in the mist trick you, make you walk in circles. Many never come out alive. To get through Holt Megla, you will need a guide."

Sir Pelial could guess what the fellow would propose next. "I will gladly find you a path out of the forest. For a price, of course," Westcott said, with a wink. The knight could not pay the man, nor hire any other guide. His purse was near empty at the time. Not at all defeated, the tracker made a different suggestion, "There is another way, if you have no gold to pay. You can help me with my work as compensation." He further explained, "I find and capture beasts and birds for royal menageries and walls of rich merchants' trophy rooms. I have three contracts to fulfill before I can take you out of the forest. If you help me out, I will consider it payment for my services. You seem like good company." Sir Pelial accepted Westcott's offer. The tracker laughed heartily, and they all kept drinking and telling stories until late in the night.

Next morning, Sir Pelial and Westcott set off to get the first contract done. The beast they were to hunt was a Unicorne, and it was to be captured alive and unharmed. Sir Pelial did not know how that might be achieved, but the tracker already had a plan. They hiked until the sun was high up in the sky (though it was hard to see it through the fog), when they finally spotted the beast trough the trees. Westcott laid out his plan to the knight: Sir Pelial was to approach the Unicorne and challenge it to a jousting match. The proud animal will accept, as they always do. And when it charges at the knight, he is to spur his horse out of the way, so the Unicorne is tricked into lancing a tree instead. Its long horn will be stuck in the trunk, and that way it will be easily captured. And so it all happened, just as Westcott said. They brought the humiliated Unicorne back with them to Wose Hall.

On the next day, Westcott took the Aelf with him to the hunt. They scoured the woods for the Abominable Swallowtail, which highborn ladies like to fly like kites on a clear day. One was spotted in the area, but the two could not find it no matter how hard they looked. It was because Ewert, the tracker's bitter rival, had caught it first. This time, it was the Aelf who had a plan. She took her bow and the captured unicorne, and visited the other tracker's camp. There, she proposed a bet, which Ewert was quick to accept. The pair of them were to have an archery competition. The Aelf would wager the Unicorne, and the tracker the Abominable Swallowtail; the winner takes them both. The Aelf let Ewert fire his arrow first. He hit bull's eye. The tracker was a celebrated marksman. "That is good," the Aelf said coldly. "That good, in fact... I am going to have to cheat." The Aelf let her arrow fly towards a whole different mark. She came back to Wose Hall with the Unicorne and the Abominable Swallowtail in tow, while Ewert's blood watered the dark soil of Holt Megla.

The third and final contract was the hardest of all. To slay a beast called the Tyger, and sell its precious pelt to a queen. Tygers are rare and dangerous wild animals, hard to find and vicious in a fight. Westcott would need Sir Pelial and both his retainers for this quest. With no little effort, the feral Tyger was tracked down and fought: with sword, lance and arrows. The hunters were victorious, and so the third contract was completed.

Done as promised, the tracker led Sir Pelial out of Holt Megla's haunted mist. However, rather than say good-bye and head back, he says to the knight, "I have grown weary of these misty woods, my friend. I wish to travel, and track beasts some place else. You say you are heading North to fight gargants. Might I join your quest for a time? If you accept me into your service, you will never be lost again." And from that day the tracker followed Sir Pelial on his journey.

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Westcott and Ewert, the two trackers, are both converted from the same monopose, plastic, Warhammer High Elf archer. The 'Wose Hall' set is the Chapel of StHubertus; the shot was made next to its side entrance. The Unicorne model is the same I used for Monstrous Births. The target for the archery challenge was knocked together in ten minutes, from rope, card and toothpicks. The 'Abominable Swallowtail' is a real butterfly I found dead in the street last year. The Tyger is a conversion of AoS Gryph Hound. Its head was sculpted from scratch. Made it specifically for this story, but it will be useful for games later. For instance, it can count as a snow leopard in Frostgrave.

Once again, elements of the story were borrowed from different places. Westcott's scheme for catching the Unicorne is from The Brave Little Tailor, a German fairy tale. The Aelf's way of winning the archery competition was lifted from season one finale of Blackadder; more specifically the scene where Three-Fingered Pete is introduced. Abominable Swallowtail... well, if there are giant spiders in fantasy, why not giant butterflies. The Tyger is sort of an homage to William Blake - artist, poet, and a particularly odd individual.

Monday, 19 March 2018

CLXV. Duardin Warriors of Volmar

Here come the rest of the Duardin.

Volmar sits on a mountain on Erebos, and is inhabited mostly by Duardin and Kobolds. People of Volmar are well adapted to their high-altitude life. They manage to grow crops on artificially constructed terraces, and herd goats on their mountain pastures. What their own efforts at agriculture cannot supply, they trade for the riches they discover in their mines. 

Duardin and Kobolds are very similar in height and build. The easiest way to tell them apart is  looking at the nose and ears: they are both elongated in Kobolds. However, the biggest difference is the fact Kobolds do not give birth to living young like Duardin, but lay eggs. This makes them incompatible, so Kobolds and Duardin generally do not intermarry. But they consider themselves to be one people, and most of their culture is shared.  

The kingdom has been on good terms with its neighbours for a very long time; conflicts with other realms are not common and not large in scale. 

Let's take a look at each of the Chosen Axes (and hammers!) of Volmar.



This was originally the Fjul-Grimnir model, the leader of Chosen Axes. What I liked about the original model is the set of keys, the giant's skull on the base, and the pose. As with the others, the mohawk was cut off to make way for a conical helm with a mask. This not so practical ceremonial helm has a bit of a samurai vibe mixed in... The runes in his skin were sanded away. I admit that weapon is utterly ridiculous, but for some reason I liked it. So I kept it, only removing the dragon head detail from the bottom end (the part I disliked). I had to replace it with something of similar shape and size in order to preserve balance. So I stuck a ring into a clutched hand from my bits box and glued that on.


This was the first one done, discussed in my last post.


This was Mad Maegrim, originally wielding a pair of axes. I simply wanted some variety.


And finally, this was Tefk Flamebearer. He used to have two different axes, but gave him one I removed from Maegrim, so now he has a matching pair.

A few shots of different stages of sculpting Tefk's helmet. The nose ring was actually added in the middle of painting.

Fjul's armour is the most elaborate one. I'm relatively satisfied with it, but I see I need to work more on my symmetry. Here I went to some other Trudvang dwarf armour designs, by Alvaro Tapia. The 'beard' portion of the mask covers a larger area on the front, basically being a chest plate. It's an interesting solution. 

When I look at my four warriors side by side, I feel the style of the helmets across the warband should have been more consistent. That's something to keep in mind for next time.

The original Chosen Axes are Fyreslayers. Photo taken from

Thursday, 15 March 2018

CLXIV. Volmar Duardin

Yet another converted Shadespire warband is in the works. The Chosen Axes fell into my paws last week, and I immediately started hacking them up. The first of their number is finished (bar the base, which will get done at a later date because I'm considering a display base). 


I really don't like the look of AoS Fyreslayers. The axes that are braziers, the headgear, the golden runes implanted into their skin... All of that is inextricably linked with their backstory, so if I was to transform them away from those elements, they would no longer be even remotely Fyreslayers. But that's fine by me, I love coming up with my own factions. So the mountain kingdom of Volmar was born. It's waiting to be populated by a mixed people: Duardin, Kobolds, Humans and Half-Dwarves. I'll delve deeper into their country and culture when the warband is done. They look like this at the moment:  

I've shown the first dwarf earlier on social networks, and people seem to pick up both Norse and Mesopotamian vibes from the helm. I'm very happy to hear that I've successfully blended those. The design was most heavily inspired by one particular illustration Paul Bonner did for Trudvang:

Art by Paul Bonner. © RiotMinds

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In other news, the village of Dol, the designated battlefield for the Legen event, got a few more people to inhabit it. Converted and painted another fleeing peasant from the plastic giant kit. Two boys who foolishly wish to fight the attacking gargants with sticks were converted from LOTR Hobbit Shirriffs. The panicked soldier attempting to hide under a discarded ox skull is a characterful conversion of an older metal model, done by Florian Gand from Germany. Thanks again for sending the conversion over, it's perfect for Legen.   

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

CLXIII. Legen: A Willow Tree

Time to slowly begin working on the board on which we'll be playing in July. I started off by making one of the smaller pieces: a willow tree.

This terrain was built entirely from scratch. The tree's trunk was sculpted in DAS air-drying clay, and the branches made from wire and natural roots. Experimenting with creating texture was fun.

It was primed grey and white, and painted mostly with glazes.

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Friday, 2 March 2018

CLXII. Abhorrant Ghoul Queen's Court: Crypt Ghast Courtier and Ghouls

These are all conversions of Spiteclaw's Swarm models, a recently released five-rat set for Warhammer Underworlds:  Shadespire. I wanted to make ghoul versions that will fit with the rest of my FEC, and that I can still use for Shadespire if I want. They make four Crypt Ghouls and one Crypt Ghast Courtier. 

Arzu, Crypt Ghast Courtier (Skritch Spiteclaw)

Ghasts are Ghoul characters, and this Skaven hero was a great starting point for my conversion. 

First step is cutting off the parts of the model I don't want. I do this before assembly, because it's easier. In this case, I got rid of the head and tail (for being what identifies him as Skaven), the weapon head (didn't like the design), clipped the cape a bit (GW has developed an excessively fluttering oddly shaped cape issue). After assembly, I usually take my dremel and get rid of all the detail I couldn't cut off or file down with a file. This is followed by gluing replacement and extra bits in place, and then, finally, I whip out the putty and sculpting tools.

Arzu's face came from a Hobbit Goblin, like with most of my FEC. Her weapon got a halberd blade from Empire State Troops. The greenish parts in the above image are putty - mostly 1:1 hybrid of green stuff and Milliput. The sculpting of the crazy hairdo had to be done in several layers. There are minor modifications on the face, and the rest of my interventions were just fixing parts that got damaged in previous steps, and filling gaps.



Crypt Ghouls (Krrk the Almost-Trusted, Lurking Skaven, Hungering Skaven, and Festering Skaven)

Four footsoldiers to add to the existing bunch. None of the previous Ghouls were converted from a Skaven model, but I was pretty sure these would fit in well after a head swap and matching paintjob. 

This one was Festering Skaven. I really dig the pose, would be excellent for making a Skaven assassin model. Anyway, the tail and the head had to go, and I messed with the dagger handle a bit. This was the least difficult of the bunch.

Krrk is one of the two named characters in the box. In my version he is just another no-name Ghoul. 

He lost his head and tail, and later the weapon, too. I left the pet rats on his shoulder be because they're kinda cute. 

Hungering Skaven came with a flail and shield.

The flail became a mace, and the triangular shield got a change of shape. Added some laces sticking from between armour plates.

Finally, the Lurking Skaven. This one is the most problematic, because I had to do a weapon swap that makes him too unrecognisable, I think. But I simply don't envision my ghouls wealding katars or anything similar. 

I did sculpt him some Wolverine sideburns to make it up to him.

All Shadespire warbands come with very nice sculpted bases. I considered maybe using them for something else, but then I realised that some of the models have parts of their feet modelled on their base. I could have gone around this, but it just didn't seem worth the trouble. I used the bases from the box, and added some soil, grass and leaves to blend them with the previously existing members of the faction.