Friday, 23 December 2011

Lankhmar - The Shark Box.

Date: Day of the Crab. The month of the Murderer's Moon in the Summer season of the Year of the Feathered Death in the Era of Heat: 
Evening at Three Bridges.

  • Arrive late at Three Bridges
  • Hailed by Kilpin Plake a known tout calling them the heroes of the Risings Teeth
  • Plake says there is a prospective customer who wants to hire them.  He's at the Death's Way
  • On Route Jaktar notices more than usual numbers of armed men.
  • Gideon, Jaktar, Defoe and Blab go with Plake who introduces them the guarded Pettious Peak.
  • Peak wants them to carry a Shark Shaped box into the city.  He explains that someone has been chasing him to reclaim the box which he was commissioned by his Temple (The House of Mellor) to buy off in the East.  He says that he will continue on to the city with a body guard but would feel safer from ambush if the box travelled a different route.  The deal is to deliver it to him or his Head Scholar (name of Teastin) at the Temple where they can expect a bonus. They except at his price plus 20%.
  • A discussion ensures as they leave over whether Blab can open the box or not bearing in mind that there is no discernible seal so he would most likely have to break it. Defoe  takes both the moral point that they cannot and the finacial point that it would do their reputations as businessmen a lot of harm.  Gideon says its fate.
  • Return to the Sulaco where no one seems much interested in them - more concerned with a lack of eels.
  • Moor in the open river and sleep.
Date: Day of the Hare. The month of the Murderer's Moon in the Summer season of the Year of the Feathered Death in the Era of Heat: 
Morning at Three Bridges - clear summers day with thunder in the distance.
  • Jeremiah predicts flooding in a few days. Leave early for the city.
  • On the second watch along the Eel Run Tobius calls from his look-out post that the Death's Ferry raft is floating free jammed against a tree trunk and that there are three people on it none of whom is Cuthwick the Dragger who normally crews the raft and upkeeps it.
  • It is immediately suspected as a trap. 
  • Blab goes up the mast.  He realises that the truck is not acting right and must be steered.  He had taken his bow and intends to open fire on the raft when Tobius spots and calls warning on two men in the water with great hooks. Blab shoots at them instead and causes them to retreat into the reeds.
  • Gideon orders the sails dropped and the vessel rowed in reverse.
  • Blab continues to keep the enemies heads down.
  • Two small flatboats appear from the reeds back from the Three Bridges direction but only one has a chance of interception. 
  • Jaktar recognises one of the men as one he had seen near the Death's Way the night before in Three Bridges.
  • The lead man on the raft opens fire with a crossbow but fails to hit anyone, Blab shoots back sending him backwards off the raft.
  • Blab then turns his attention the boat on the intercept course which has now cleared the reeds, its foreman wielding a pole-arm with the obvious intent to hole the Sulaco hull.  The man takes a arrow in the belly and the second man using a punting quant (pole). A second arrow cuts the back of his leg and he too cowers in the boat.
  • Gideon orders that a prisoner should be taken. Ignoring Blab (still up the mast) who says leave the one 'bleeding out' Jaktar leaps aboard the punt and drags both raiders on board.  The Sulaco rows on to safety where they relax to interrogate the prisoners.
  • Blab searches and confiscates and weapons (ok sword and two daggers) and any valuables (6 silver and 8 copper pieces) from the captives. Gideon  shows displeasure but does not actively intervene.
  • The punter with the lesser wound is not really interrogated at all but emphasis is given to the belly wounded gent. It seems there were about 10 attackers hired by someone called Brad'in(?) and they where to capture a shark box.  This man never saw the employer who only spoke to the bands leader a man called Tybone who described him as an Easterner.
  • Gideon has tem put over board and shortly after they leave a thrashing and screaming can be heard in the reeds behind them.  Blab wins his bet with Jaktar over their survival time.
  • There is some disagreement between the crew on the morality of that last action and the leaving two survivors in a boat as bait if the Sand Sharks gave chase back at the rescue was also brought up. Blab and  Defoe take the moral high-ground against Gideon.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Lankhmar - Day at Mucking Beach.

Date: Day of the Fox. The month of the Murderer's Moon in the Summer season of the Year of the Feathered Death in the Era of Heat:   

Evening at Mucking Beach.
  • Muddy rejoins the crew bringing the smell of the marsh.
  • Crew speak to the captain about what happened - attacked by three Sand Sharks, he used the term 'herded' toward the sand banks, he thought he'd made it clear when he saw the channel (The Snatch).  Says he was sailing on a commission for the Shahdra (a type of eastern lord often a city or town head) of Hazkaa in the Empire of Horborixen
    • Horborixen Empire Fans out from the City State of Horboxien and hugs the coast from Ilthar to 300-400 hundred miles further south.  It is one of the more powerful and rich of the Eastern States monopolising the trade and berths for such a distance.  Ilthra is still an independent City State and is its biggest mercantile rival on that coast.
  • Ral offers two months (he is not aware it is so much you feel) in guild drafts to get him and his 'assistant' to Three Bridges by Crab day.
  • Blab says the drafts are the real thing and is confident he can get at least 70% of their face value about a month or more normal profit.
  • The crew agree they can get Ral to Hec's landing and arrange over-night travel to Three Bridges but the end of Badger Day. If he makes his deal then they are welcome to meet him at Clear Water Court in Lankhmar for hospitality and further reward.
  • Defoe blesses the boat and crew after a philosophical debate on the nature of 'prayer is not magic'. 
  • Gideon tells Jaktar to keep a watch on the two 'passengers'.
  • Jaktar spends the evening watching the couple and evens tries without success to engage Yelmeer in conversation but she is polite but immune to his charm.  He sees a lord and his body servant, both pleasant practical people holding up under miss fortune but also not overly worried or guarded.  Beyond looking at their scrolls which are carried in three wax sealed tubes they do nothing unusual.
  • Blab plays on the beach with the dog.
  • Latter in the evening Blab forms an entertainment from the events which earns him a smile from Yelmeer.
  • A friendly card games closes the evening.
Date: Day of the Badger. The month of the Murderer's Moon in the Summer season of the Year of the Feathered Death in the Era of Heat:   
Morning at Mucking Beach.
  • Muddy reports that the Promontory watch on Sentinel Tower saw a blue sailed boat (Blab suddenly remembers seeing this last night and puts his two pen'th in) heading up Rickar Creek toward Two Days.
  • All embark for Hec's Landing.
  • An uneventful trip finds the Sulaco in Hec's Landing late that evening.
Evening at Hec's landing.

  • Muddy and Jaktar take the passengers and help arrange transport for them to Three Bridges.
  • The night passes uneventfully.
Date: Day of the Crab. The month of the Murderer's Moon in the Summer season of the Year of the Feathered Death in the Era of Heat:
  • The Sulaco leaves Hec's Landing
  • A Red sail is spotted in the distance but Muddy guides the boat well away from its path and they soon lose it however it adds to the travel time and they arrive in Three Bridges very late.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


"In battle there is no law..."


I have recently been re-developing my interest in fantasy miniatures and wargaming and through painting various old figures from my age old collection from the 80's (predominantly with Runequest in mind) I have started to come back to the idea of playing some fantasy skirmishes using rules I already own. We have discussed Mordheim, a set of rules I possess but have never actually played and this looks likely to happen at some point, after we have reached saturation point with other ongoing projects! Mordheim still interests me as it is a smaller scale skirmish, scenario and story driven game and you can follow and improve your warband and characters as they move through their battles and adventures.

Following on from this, I recently started following the blogs of Zhu, Thansants "Somewhere the tea's getting cold" and Gaj's "Warhammer for Adults" and been inspired to dig out all my old Warhammer Fantasy Battle rules, notes and scenarios.

WHFB 1st Edition.

I liked the clunky 1st Edition and its massive army supplement "Forces of Fantasy" but I have to say its the 2nd or 3rd Edition all the way for me! I read the 4th Edition but I never even really liked it much and to be honest I had drifted away from the hobby by then. I didn't even touch the 5th to 7th Editions. I have looked at the 8th and I guess I wouldn't mind having a look at '9th' whenever that may appear but the whole GW WHFB thing now seems to be very army building specific and slightly rules heavy. It seems you have to have the (expensive) rule book plus several 'army' books to be able to play. In my day the army 'lists' used to be in one book!

WHFB 2nd Edition.

Personally, for me WHFB was always about small to large scale skirmishes, not neccessarily the mass battles that seem to be encouraged now. I really loved the slightly open feeling of the 2nd/3rd Editions. We used to play heavily story driven games that had little to do with points and army building and everything about the narrative behind the game itself. We had mixed troops in our battles, admitedly this was often down to the figures we had early on, but ultimately it came down to the scenario itself.

WHFB 3rd Edition.

We had our own little part of the Warhammer world populated with characters and kingdoms that had a reason for fighting. The background was there in the books, but there was plenty of scope for you to bring your own backstories and histories into the mix. Our stories began around the chronicles of King Jorick Stefel-Horowitz, also known as Vlard Stalinsky, and his succession to the throne of the Theldar Fief, as the 30th king of Theldar, Dathal, Hurgoland and Damask. Through diplomacy, consolidation and treachery he incited civil wars in his neighbouring Fiefs and overthrew his opponents. His massive new territory was renamed the Grenland Fiefs and he ruled over a prosperous and poweful nation for many years, handing down power through several generations. The Grenland Fiefs saw incursions from powerful sorcerers, demonic hordes, the Goblin Wars and even a campaign ending in a civil war as the ruling family, under King Sternjaw IV and his sons Prince Leopold Caprinski and Aramir 'Bresharde' Sibertine the Half-Elven, fought with their own traitorous kinsmen led by his nephew Elfwine Castaroff and a general of note Elstar Gorky, to retain the seat of power.

WHFB Siege.

These epic stories were played out using the first three versions of the game and later supplements such as Warhammer Siege, and gave us some fantastic and memorable battles and kept us creative with the stories behind them. Perhaps it was just the way we played it, in "the spirit of the game" so to speak but with a little bit of history, some maps and an occasional 'RPG Lite' element to this we kept our little part of the Warhammer world alive for many years and it was fun to play through the trials and tribulations of a nation...

Monday, 19 December 2011

Lankhmar - The Red Sail.

Date: Day of the Fox. The month of the Murderer's Moon in the Summer season of the Year of the Feathered Death in the Era of Heat:
  • On a standard trip, notice a Red Sail in the distance that appears to have been following us.
  • Loose the Red sail after crossing the Risings (a series of sand banks off the north coast) and travelling on the shore side westward.
  • See a blue sail seaward of the Risings and note its strange behaviour
  • Watch it heading for the Snatch - an obvious channel but one the Sulaco know have a hidden menace. The Risings Teeth are a series of jagged outcrops that at all but very low tide remain below the surface of the sea.
  • Another mast is spotted someway behind and much further out to sea.
  • The blue sailed boats people seem to be waving at something beyond them to seaward.  Blab uses a spyglass and says a sea monster but no-one else believes him. 
  • After some debate amongst the crew it seems they are to rescue the crew..or the cargo...or just the rich looking woman 'passenger'.
  • The ship hits the Teeth and is impaled tipping to the side and throwing some of its crew into the water.  Some are obviously hurt other swim toward the sand bank ignoring their fellows
  • The Sulaco drops sail within bow distance of and Gideon sends Jaktar off in a coracle (one of two on board) to 'rescue the woman'.
  • Meanwhile the ship listing dangerously the crew have managed to get a small boat into the water and the two rich looking passengers, the (looks like) Captain and three crew board and head further into the Snatch and toward the Sulaco.
  • A great Sand Shark emerges and starts up the bank chasing a group of crewmen who had made it ashore.   
  • Jaktar starts to pick up struggling crewmen.
  • The small boat makes it to the Sulaco and its occupants taken on board.
  • The coracle also makes it back on board with two more survivors.
Between sessions
  • The Sulaco takes the survivors on to Mucking Beach, their own destination for the day
  • Local fishermen having seen the events from afar (they were on route to the shelling beaches that form part of the Risings) sail to aid and rescue another three crew but the rest are lost to sea and sharks. The crew had numbered seventeen.
  • At Mucking Beach the Sulaco crew meet Muddy and take stock.  It's now late evening and this is a safe place to moor through the night.
The Survivors
Captain Jekcrow Cadamar, his 1st mate Hashshid and two crew: Yasmeed Florence and Trish Kazzir where on the boat along with the two passengers Hal'adziir Ral Brra'habin "call me Ral, everyone does" and his beautiful assistant and body servant Yelmeer Has'si'yam.  Pilot Yural Gates and the ships boy Yin Cooo where picked by Jaktar in his coracle. The fishermen picked up 2nd mate Preen Huk'Haboon, crewwoman Hildar Sheen and crewman Yarablin Yaka.
Ral seems to be a very well off merchant carrying guild drafts worth a considerable amount of money one of which he writes off to Zambriq his saviour.  He also begs passage to Three Bridges for him and his assistant.
Local Known Knowledge
Three Bridges is two days run by boat (especially one that does not want to pass too near the Great Marsh Road where it would be visible to guild patrols).  Two Days is the nearest port of call but is frequented by guild boats and is still over a day's boat ride from Three Bridges and a day's ride (Two Days is the coaching stop two days out of Lankhmar, Three Bridges one day out) away.  Hec's Landing is a day's sailing away, a known safe stop and a half days sailing from Three Bridges but better it is only a short distance from The Great Marsh Road and a good wagon could make Three Bridges overnight by early morning.  The Sulaco has a drop off in Three Bridges and so must go there but Ral seems to be in a hurry, says he has an appointment on Crabday which is the day after tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Runequest - Dragonewts.

Dragonewts claim to be the eldest creatures, descendants of neotenic dragons from before the Dawn of Time. Even elven Green Age tales mention dragonewts. Dragonewts are peculiar creatures who continually reincarnate and metamorphose, ever-striving to achieve dragonhood. They are an enigmatic race, misunderstood and mistrusted.
Individual dragonewts trace descent from whatever dragon or dragons laid the initial clutch of eggs which resulted in their existence. Dragonewts of the same clutch call each other "egg-brother". They organize themselves into variously-sized settlement-nests.
Normal dragonewts are intended to be a race of mystery, alien and irrational to human understanding. Their language (Auld Wyrmish) includes visual, auditory, olfactory, and empathic components. But they are unconscious of their own language and cannot teach it, and because humans are not naturally empathic they can never gain more than a basic understanding of the language. Dragonewts have no written language, and have little need of one, as they are immortal, ever-reincarnating, and learn needed facts directly from other dragonewts.
Regular contact of normal dragonewts with outsiders is usually assigned to one individual in a group, who tries to act according to human expectations. It learns human languages, and learns to write or otherwise communicate ideas to humans. Sometimes it will own or be an interpreter dragonewt who has been surgically altered so that it can stumblingly speak human words. Altered interpreters may have guards, servants, and so on. Such dragonewts not infrequently become outlaws. When an outlaw dragonewt -- one who has ceased to believe in the dragon way -- dies, it is not reincarnated and never reappears. No one knows where its soul goes.
Some places in Glorantha have large colonies of deviant dragonewts, and they differ from the norm given here. But all of those variants have the same heritage.

Dragonewts go through the following stages in their life cycle.
Scout Dragonewt: The scout (or crested) dragonewt is small, short-tailed, and has an arched crest upon the head. A vegetarian, it prefers leaves and fruit. Its betters will train it as a slinger to bring down birds and rabbits, and teach it the art of scouting and skirmishing, and to serve as a slave.
Warrior Dragonewt: The warrior (or beaked) dragonewt is larger than the scout stage, and is carnivorous. The tail now reaches to the ground, and at first the skin is covered both with scales and with small protrusions. They are most often found as hunters or guards of dragonewt nests.
Most warrior dragonewts ride upon creatures called demi-birds. Demi-birds are feathered, beaked, and lay eggs, but their bones are solid and they have vestigial arms, not wings. The demi-bird is fearless and carnivorous, adding to the fierceness of the dragonewt warrior.
Noble Dragonewt: Second-stage armor and natural weapons are, in the third stage, nearly replaced by frills, spines, wattles, pouches, and other decorative and communicative devices. Skin colors become more vivid, and the number and variety of scent glands increase. This stage is omnivorous.
A noble dragonewt will lead and represent; the stage is expert at living peacefully with the outside world. In some regions this stage is known s the 'tailed priest'.
Ruler Dragonewt: These rare dragonewts are almost never found outside their own nests. One is usually found in each small nest, and several in a town cluster. Their community functions, diet, and powers are unknown. The appearance of a ruler dragonewt (sometimes known as a 'full priest') resembles that of a noble, but they have wings.
Presumably, a ruler dragonewt meditates upon the secrets of dragonhood in preparation for the final metamorphosis. Such a dragonewt will, one day, awake to find itself a full dragon. It will then depart from its nest, to go to wherever dragons go.
Dragonet (Inhuman King, Fifth Stage): When a Ruler Dragonewt progresses fully, it will be reborn as a True Dragon and will be taken out of the Dragonewt Cycle. Sometimes, a Ruler will be reborn as a Dragonet, or neo-Dragon. This form is intermediate between Dragonewt and True Dragon.
There is only one Dragonet in a traditional Dragonewt society. While the Dragonet is alive, Dragonewts will be reborn as normal. However, if the Dragonet dies then there will be no rebirth until a new one is created. In this case, a Ruler which has progressed far enough to become a Dragon but has not chosen to will ceremonially kill itself and be reborn as a Dragonet, thus allowing the cycle to be restored. Although there is only one Dragonet in any society, there may be more than one alive throughout Glorantha. The Dragonewts of Dragon Pass have a Dragonet at Dragons Eye, but the Dragonewts of Kralorela have their own Dragonet. The Dragonewts of Ralios do not have a Dragonet, but if one were to be manifested, they could rejoin the Cycle.
Nobody knows the powers or abilities of a Dragonet. It is rumoured that one has all the powers of a True Dragon, able to think others to death and to shape the land with but a thought.

These are from the Citadel Runequest Boxed Set 5. A fairly quick paintjob but was pleased with the way the demi-birds turned out. The pic above shows (on the back row) a Full Priest Dragonewt (Ruler), a Beaked (Warrior) on a demi-bird, a Crested (Scout) riding a demi-bird, (front row) a Beaked (Warrior) with 'Klanth', a Newtling with sling, a Crested (Scout) with a javelin and finally a Tailed Priest (Noble). I have a few more of these yet to be painted.

Citadel Dragonewt Boxed Set.

Armorcast/Lance & Laser also do a small Runequest/Heroquest range that includes a few Dragonewt miniatures such as Fighters, Scouts and demi-bird riders.

Dragonewt Champion from Lance & Laser.

Dragonewt Demi-Bird Rider from Lance & Laser.

I would imagine you could use the various available 'Lizardmen' as Dragonewts, such as the wonderful Otherworld Miniatures Lizardmen Warriors.

Lizardmen from Otherwold Miniatures.

For more info on Dragonewts have a look at:

The History of Dragonewts by Simon Phipp.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Lankhmar - The Boat & Crew.

The Boat.

Name: Sulaco.

The vessel is around 22'  long and 10' at its widest. It is flat bottomed and wide bellied to accommodate cargo.  The hull is skin over a wickerwork structure with a boarded base for walking on.  It is designed for sailing put can be punted or paddled in low waters. It is sea going but is more suited to coastal waters rather than deep ocean.  The boat is fairly fast unladen and can run close to the wind needing only two crew to sail.  Although square in shape the sails are sprit-rigged on two masts which can be lowered for travelling through tunnels.  A skin tarpaulin is spread over the stern for cargo protection. 

Used as a smuggling vessel, she makes short sea voyages on the Inland Sea to the Flotilla and back traversing the great salt marshes that skirt Lankhmar.  There is a wooded firebox that holds a char fire fuelled from Sparker fungi (this is a great big mushroom found near the coast.)  This is just enough for cooking and provides a low light in the caverns beneath the city. There are also two small coracles on board.

The crew includes the owner’s third son (trying to prove himself) and his uncle ,an old hand.  8 crew optimal (at sea this allows for rest periods while in the sometimes tight channels of the marsh 6 paddle, 1 steers and 1 guides) but can be managed by two in reasonable conditions.

The Crew.
Gideon (Andrew) - ex-captain

Captain Zambiq - Captain - Gideon's nephew

Princess (aka Stinker, Stishker) - dog

Jaktar (Mark) - henchman - ex 1st mate

Defoe (Paul) - Indentured servant - priest

Blab (Robert) - crew - storyteller

Jerimiah - crew - seadog

Hettion 'Muddy' Také - crew - mudhopper

Tobias Lord - crew - foundling

Required skills groups:

  • Trading and marketing
  • Contacts
  • Knowledge of the marshes
  • Knowledge of the Lankhmar and Inner sea mainland coast
  • Some sea navigation
  • River / inland waterway navigation
  • Sailing (the theory and practice of using sails to catch the wind) can specialise in sail types
  • Ship's crew (how a ship runs, the equipment and its work and maintenance usually for larger ships where there is a sharp distinction between officer and crew)

Useful skills:

  • Self protection (combat skills of an appropriate nature)
  • Swimming (not required)
  • Marsh / fenland natural science (animals and plants legends and lore)
  • Sea /ocean natural science (seas inhabitants legend and lore)
  • Guild associations (smugglers, traders, transporters etc)
  • Wound treatment and simple medical knowledge
  • Sail or other tools maintenance
  • Carpentry and device crafting (changes, repairs to vessel)
  • Leather worker

Friday, 9 December 2011

Runequest - Baboons.

The Baboons are a species of intelligent monkeys that thrive in Prax. They consider the Monkey Ruins to be the capital of their mythical empire. They worship Grandfather Baboon, the Great Spirit of the Baboons.

The Baboon family, a fully sentient race, use primitive tools and worship gods and spirits of the wilderness. They can be encountered anywhere ordinary baboons are found, but favour wastelands and chaparral. They frequently travel in troops of 15-20 and are lead by an Alpha Male, who mates with the fertile females, although group size can be up to several hundred. They are sexually dimorphic, with males being much larger and having brightly colored rears, genitals, and faces.

Baboon horde ready to attack!

They worship their ancestors and make powerful shamans. They have a great fondness for horse flesh. They have large canines, and a powerful bite. Because they are unable to move well on less than three limbs, they tend only use one-handed weapons but some are able to utilise short spears with some practice. Their shoulders are not as flexible as a humans, and they can only use thrusting weapons, slings, and thrown weapons effectively. Typically, they carry slings and javelins or short spears. They are also quite capable of throwing rocks and other found items, and they frequently attack with spells.

Baboon war party in the move.

Figures above are a mix of the original Citadel Runequest range (Boxed Set 2: Adventurers and Boxed Set 4: Beast Men) and the splendid Baboon Horde from Black Cat Bases. So far only two of the original Citadel ones painted.

Armorcast also do a small range of Baboons in the Lance & Laser 'HeroQuest' range, including a Baboon Shaman and a group of warrior types. You can get these (and the rest of the 'HeroQuest' range) in the UK at from Wayland Games.  At one point Ral Partha made a Baboon miniature but I would imagine you would have a hard time hunting one down now.

Lance & Laser Baboon Shaman.

Ral Partha Baboon.

For some great pictures of painted Baboons check out Simon's blog at The Big Red Bat Cave, Rudi at Runequest Fun or Roderick's Light of Action.

Rh'zzak contemplates the irony of life...

Lankhmar - Campaign Background.

The Crew are smugglers and are members of the Flotilla (a polite way of saying the Guild of Smugglers).  There are other smuggling guilds, the Travel Agents deal in people including slaves, the Import Guild deals with smuggling through the sea ports and the Gate-Keepers with traverse of the walls.  The guilds are more like legalised gangs than real guilds and are in constant competition with each other.  There are lines of demarcation though the whole object of smuggling is to get past such obstructions.  The Marshmen as their name implies operate through the Marshes east of the city and hold sway (much to the Gate-keepers annoyance) over the Marsh Gate.  They have other ways into the city and our crew uses one of these.

The Eel Holes are well known in the North Harbour what is less well known is that it is the end of what remains of the Fin Creek, one of the original river courses around which the town of Lankhmar was built. Unlike most of the under-city waterways which have become drains it has remained pure.  The creek is in fact one of several streams that run down to the Eel Holes all of which are freshwater.  Many of the best wells drop directly into one or other of these streams.  Also unlike the other streams Fin Creek runs not from the south dry-lands but directly along the course of Temple Street and links with the Silver Water (under Noble Street) which comes down the Street of Gods. Fin Creek emerges under the city wall in a small delta of passages.  Amongst those in the know this is called the Marsh Dock and is linked to the surface world through various hidden stairwells and cellars each with their little jetty. The famed Silver Well on Clear water Court off the east of Noble Street takes its water straight from the Silver Water though no-one in the city including its owner know this.

The items smuggled are often not illegal though some are.  They tend to be expensive items avoiding tax or rare items at cut price (often forgeries or cut product but not always). The crews regular customers include Demitrin Xenobe a provider of rare spices who cuts his legitimate product with cheaper tax free product.  Some of his lines due to their popularity are very highly taxed so he legally imports enough to keep the guilds happy and has the rest smuggled.  Tabatha Tyke buys for a select guild of magic-users and has a shop on temple street supplying various incenses and hard to find sacrificial items to the local priesthoods.  They do a great trade in rare and exotic birds and animal both as extracts and living, through her hands. Jape Rinburh works the various bazaars supplying product to brothels and other incense and perfume users.

(This is the first post for Rob A's new fantasy RPG campaign - I hope to bring summaries of our sessions and adventures over time)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Traveller - Vespulid Swarm.

Vespulid Swarm.

These predatory sentients live in teeming hives dominated by a hierarchy of queens, from the lowest commanders, the sub-queens, to the greatest Vespulid of the swarm, the Queen of Queens.

They are a space faring race and infest planets by means of their nest-ships. Often their most terrific battles are between rival hives. Vespulids are the only known natural predators of Space Demons.

The small arm of the Soldiers, the ion shotgun, is a deadly weapon and its ionized particle blast can even disable heavy armoured vehicles, but has an extremely short effective range.

In order to close the range quickly the Soldiers hurtle toward the enemy wearing rocketpacks, dodging defensive fire then swarming the foe.

If it comes to close combat, the Vespulids are prepared, having vicious mandibles and a highly toxic poison stinger with enough venom to kill a human in moments.

Text from Dropship Horizon. Miniatures are from Khurasan Miniatures and are painted by Rob Affection. Check out the Khurasan Miniatures blog here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Runequest - Scorpion Men.

Been digging out a few Runequest and generic fantasy type miniatures in the last few weeks (in between trying to finish a stack of Vikings and Saxons, see Gjallarhorn and various WW2 folk, see A Project Too Far) so I thought I would post an update on some of the figures I have been looking at.

Scorpion men are a chaos breed native to Glorantha and left over from the Great Darkness. They are often found in desert areas and sometimes small mountain villages. Their rigid society is based on servitude to Queens, who breed for the race. Scorpion men are known to make their living by trading or hiring out their services as mercenaries to employers willing to look past their chaotic nature.

Kudurru 'Boundary' Stone.

In mythology, Scorpion men are featured in several Akkadian language myths, including the Enûma Elish and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. They were first created by the Tiamat in order to wage war against the younger gods for the betrayal of her mate Apsu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, they stand guard outside the gates of the sun god Shamash at the mountains of Mashu. These give entrance to Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash as he travels out each day, and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. They also warn travellers of the danger that lies beyond their post. Their heads touch the sky, their "terror is awesome" and their "glance is death". This meeting of Gilgameš, on his way to Ūta-napišti, with the Scorpion-folk guarding the entrance to the tunnel is described in Iškār Gilgāmeš, tablet IX, lines 47-81.

Citadel Runequest Scorpion Men.

These are two of my favourite figures, a couple of nasty looking scorpion men. These are from the old Citadel Runequest range and have an unsettling look to them. I have raised ones legs, as if scuttling along or rearing up to attack, whilst the other is close to the ground. Unfortunately both had broken tails but it was nothing a little green stuff and superglue couldn't sort out. I have shaded them in slightly different colours to individualise them a little and a friend has suggested I remove one of their clubs and replace it with a spear to further enhance their characters. Once I have become brave enough to modify one of them I will finish the paintwork. I have not decided on a base yet but will probably opt for the larger of the two in the picture. I have searched around for more to join these two but they are rare. Other miniatures companies that look to produce versions of scorpion men include slightly more humanoid ones from Fenryll Miniatures, a really striking one from Reaper Miniatures, more monstrous ones from Iron Wind Metals and Rapier Miniatures also do a small range with a nice Scorpion Queen. There also appeared to be a scopion man mini from Ral Partha but I am sure these are lost in the annals of time. ShadowForge also do a nice selection of fantasy 'Egyptian' style scorpion-women warriors in their 'Light Temple' range.


Reaper Miniatures.

Iron Wind Metals.

Rapier Miniatures Scorpion Queen.

Rapier Miniatures Warrior.

Ral Partha.


For some interesting notes on the Gloranthan cult of Bagog and the scorpion-folk have a look at the Lhankor Mhy Research Library.

Scorpion men also feature as powerful myth units for the Egyptians in the game Age of Mythology. Dungeons & Dragons features centauric scorpion-men called Stingers, normally found in desert locales and devoted to gods of the waste, often those reflecting the Pharaonic or Babylonian pantheons. In Warlords Battlecry III, scorpion-people are the primary servants of Melkor, the Lord of Famine. In The Mummy Returns, the Scorpion King is shown as a scorpion-man, perhaps the less said about that the better though...

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ars Magica - The Black Monks of Glastonbury.

Not a lot done lately but finally made a start on the Redoubt monks. Whilst browsing various figure manufacturers to add to the lead mountain I found yet more monks to add to the growing congregation!

Brother Thomas (on the right) and the newly arrived Brother Cuthbert lead the monks in prayer.

The new recruits joining the Redoubt monks are the 'Brothers of Shrewsbury Abbey' from the Black Tree Design Feudal Characters range. They are Brother Cuthbert and the three from the front row in the middle. They are really nice sculpts and could pass in pretty much any period.

Cardinal Bertrand and the monks.

So far I have only managed to base them and get the basic flesh done but they looked so characterful I couldn't help take a couple of pictures! With the black undercoat they currently look a little like a group of particularly serious Benedictine monks. Brother Thomas looks much like a Franciscan friar in his brown robes. This of course made me think of the classic book/film 'The Name of the Rose.'

Brother Thomas investigates the murder of Brother Adelmo whilst the horrified monks look on...

The story takes place in Northern Italy, during the early 14th Century A.D. Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk (narrating as an old man) arrive at a Benedictine abbey where a mysterious death has occurred ahead of an important theological Church conference. William, known for his deductive and analytic mind, confronts the worried Abbot and gains permission to investigate the death – a young illuminator appears to have committed suicide. Over the next few days, several other bizarre deaths occur, and the two gradually discover that everything is not what it seems in the abbey.

Diabolic? Murder at the Abbey!

The title of this blog entry comes from an old Ars Magica supplement about the famous Glastonbury Abbey, a house of the black robed Benedictines since Saint Dunstan instituted it in the tenth century. The monks have fallen to diabolic corruption that threatens to overwhelm them all.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Traveller - The Vargr.


Intelligent Major Race derived from Ancient genetic manipulations of Terran carnivore/chaser stock, apparently dating from approximately the same time that Humaniti was scattered to the stars.
Inhabiting a region coreward of the Imperium, the Vargr were for years a puzzle to Imperial xenologists. The Vargr biochemistry and genetic makeup are almost identical with a number of terrestrial animals, but differ radically from most of the flora and fauna indigenous to Lair, the purported Vargr home world. Researches during the early years of the Third Imperium concluded them to be the result of genetic manipulation of transplanted Terran animals of the family Canidae, almost certainly of genus Canis. The obvious conclusion, supported by archeological evidence, is that the race known as the Ancients was responsible.

Physical Characteristics
Physically, the Vargr are not very impressive. The typical Vargr is about 1.6 meters in height and weighs approximately 60 kilograms. They are upright bipedal carnivores, rear limbs digitigrade, with hands very similar in size and appearance to those of a human, although there are significant internal differences. They have approximately the same physical parameters as humans and are able to use the same equipment without modification or additional instruction.
On the average their reactions are slightly faster than those of the typical human, but individuals vary widely. The Vargr senses of smell and sight are superior to those of humans.

There is no central Vargr government; indeed, there is no governmental type that can be said to be "typically Vargr". Every conceivable form of governmental organization can be found somewhere in the Vargr Extents. The only cohesive force in the Extents is a fierce racial pride which causes a slight tendency towards racial cooperation. The higher the level of the Vargr government, the more unstable it becomes because of the difficulty of obtaining consent of all Vargr involved.

The key elements shaping Vargr societies are a very strong centrifugal force resulting from an emphasis on consensus and informal lines of authority, and an equally strong centripetal force resulting from a deeply ingrained family-clantribe-nation loyalty.
Centralized authority is extremely limited at the upper levels of Vargr society, and action is based on broad coalitional concerns, with a constant splitting and rejoining of dissident factions. Traditionally, this has made it very difficult for more centralized and organized societies such as the Imperium to deal on a meaningful basis with what passes for Vargr states. The Vargr have little respect for formal authority, decreasing as that authority becomes more remote. Vargr generally have more respect for more informal authority figures, and are more likely to obey superiors who are better known to them.
The Vargr have an intensive racial pride and are easily insulted. They are prone to enter into fights without regard to possible consequences. Vargr social organization is difficult to characterize in Terran terms, but can be most closely compared to the Dakota Sioux of North America in the 1800's AD, if the analogy is not pressed too far. Even among the most stable Vargr governments, a highly charismatic leader can attract followers for almost anything. The neighbors of the Vargr are constantly the subject of impromptu raids and scattered piracy by bands of Vargr (totally without government sanction, of course) who have been talked into a raid, a battle, or a war by a charismatic leader.

Vargr in the Imperium
While only a few planets populated completely by Vargr exist within the Imperium, there are millions of Vargr citizens of loyal subject planets. Additionally, Vargr adventurers, criminals, mercenaries and traders can be found throughout the coreward reaches of the Imperium.

Text from The Traveller Wiki. Minis are from the old Citadel Traveller range and painted by Rob Affection.