Tuesday, 31 March 2015

From the mud

In the beginning was mud. The mud was without time and without end, and the creatures who dwelled in the mud lived in peace.

The gods came and divided the mud into the wet and the dry. The wet they called "sea" and the dry they called "land". Mud remained only at the forgotten edges of the earth.

The gods created creatures to dwell in the sea and creatures to dwell on the land.
The gods said to the creatures of the sea, "go forth and multiply". The gods said to the creatures of the land, "go forth and multiply".

The creatures of the mud were forgotten. The creatures of the mud cowered together at the edges of the earth. They had not been told to go forth. They had not been told to multiply. They cursed the gods who had forgotten them. They cursed the creatures the gods had favoured.

Again and again they cried at the skies with curse after curse and profanity after profanity. And they waited and listened for the wrath of the gods who they had cursed. They heard nothing. Nothing but the silence of the mud, and the screaming desire to do that which the gods had denied them:

Go forth and multiply.

So near and yet so far! I made a good start on these fimir and hoped to have them ready for the end of the month of Marsh, but frustratingly it looks like I'm not quite going to finish. Above is as far as I got. It's particularly frustrating given that all around me in the oldhammer community, people are successfully completing one hour painting challenges, and I can't get these done within a month... but the thing is, I think without the dangling carrot of a wargame coming up, it's really hard for me to paint to a deadline. Anyway, I'm up to Liverpool tomorrow so the detail work on these will wait until I get back.

In the meantime, here's a couple of team photos of the whole of Clan Slea so far. Turning into quite the horde.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Battle Report: The Last Stand of Antonius De Blare

IT BEING CHARGED that he misled the poor of these lands with cruel illusions, deceptions, and frauds; FURTHER, that he waged war for the sake of his own vanity; FURTHER, that he plundered lands and left them barren; FURTHER, that he has entered into pacts with foul devils and daemons; be it known that ANTONIUS DE BLARE is wanted in all four corners of this isle, and is to be brought to justice and punished for his evil crimes.

A couple of weekends ago, Warlord Paul gathered together the finest that Albion has to offer - well, those of us with time on our hands anyway - and called us to Slayer Gaming at Mansfield for a 3rd ed scenario. Bridgend Steve, Nik, Ashley, Orlygg, and myself answered the call. (Incidentally, thanks to Orlygg for the vast majority of the pictures used in this battle report) n.b. I'm telling the story here primarily from the perspective of my own warband, with other events to make sense of the action thrown in - there are many other stories that could be told and I hope others write up accounts from their own perspective, but I'll leave the overarching account to Warlord Paul as it's his game.

The premise of the game: there are rumours of vile goings-on at Murdock Keep, said to be harbouring the war criminal Antonius de Blare and the rogue Aleck MacSolomon. A call has gone out to local adventurers to investigate and put a stop to the chaos that threatens to engulf the borderlands of Albion.

I brought a selection of my highlanders from East of Albion:
Robert the Grim, serjeant at arms and sadistic bastard, level 15 hero (represented by a clansman of Lamedon from one of the current GW LotR range)
Preacher Knox, priest and temperance advocate, level 10 magic user (represented by a figure from Reaper miniatures)
Tetli, dwarf brewmaster, last seen left behind in "A Dwarf With No Beer" (represented by a figure from Oathsworn miniatures)
Wee Eck, blackguard and drunkard (represented by one of the arrant scum from Warlord Games' Pike and Shotte range)

Last time we saw these warriors, they were hiding out having made the strategic decision to withdraw from a battle that wasn't quite going their way. Now they need to do something singularly noteworthy to restore their honour and return home with pride intact. Something like bringing De Blare to justice...

They had a choice: they could take the high road, or the low road. And so they found themselves on the high road towards Murdock Keep, along with some snooty peace-loving elves, and a barbarian known as Bryon Anvil who was accompanied by his formidable and somewhat outspoken family.

Confronting them on the road was a crossbow armed drow, and a wolf. Turning their attention away from the nagging tones of Bryon Anvil's wife ("well, are you just going to stand there and let him point that thing at us, Bryon? Bryon? Are you listening to me, Bryon?"), the arrant highlanders saw a troll chained to a crumbling pillar. The chaotic milking stool of stools next to the troll revealed the true horror of the creature: this was Malky the Milk Troll, one of De Blare's vile chaotic experimentations. Wee Eck was heard to mutter, "I think I've seen yon udders on page 3 of one of Murdock's pamphlets..."

Raising aloft a barrel of Tetli's beer (in spite of the protestations of Preacher Knox), the highlanders offered an unlimited supply of strong ale to the troll in return for its loyal service. Now, loyalty is not typically something at the uppermost of a troll's mind. Nevertheless, the thought of escaping cruel and perverse servitude (not to mention the promise of beer) was persuasion enough for this most simple of creatures. All that was needed was for the warriors of the highlanders to smash the chains with their great weapons...

...which did not go so well. It took several attempts each before the priest finally showed his embarassed looking companions how to break the chain. ("Well I loosened it for you", growled a flushed looking Tetli.)

Meanwhile, the pretentious elves had rendered the crossbow weilding drow unconscious, but refused to kill him. "Violence never solved anything", one of them was heard to lisp. Robert the Grim was sorely tempted to continue what the elves had started, with a good old-fashioned disembollocking and a few well-placed boots to the head. However, there were more pressing priorities. Some of Murdocks's hackerz, yelling their warcry of "GOTCHA!", burst out of the shack where the propagandist printing presses were kept.

The first batch of hackerz were easily cut down, but Murdock himself and his amoral henchmen the editorz would prove a sterner test.

Trading blow for blow, it was the recruitment of Malky the Milk Troll, driven to hate of the Murdock, the Editorz, and Hackerz by years of exploitation, that gave the highlanders the advantage in spite of Murdock's sneers and smears. Murdock himself found his skull crushed under Robert the Grim's sword. Yet this advantage was not without a price; The Reverend Knox was wounded, and Wee Eck was brought down, caught off guard as he tried to take a sip from his tankard during the fight. "Ach, I'd only come along because I was following yon beer barrel", he groaned as he bled on the floor.

Reverend Knox offered his opinion with a sigh and a shake of the head: "Another victim of the demon drink". He prepared to cast a healing spell on himself, but was left with no time to intone the words before a bolt plunged into his chest.

It had come from the crossbow of the drow, who had now awoken from his unconscious state. Malky the Milk Troll charged over to cut down the perpetrator, though it was too late for Preacher Knox, the second highlander casualty of the action.

As soon as the last of the Hackerz was out of the way, the highlanders took refuge in the shack where the printing presses were kept, not liking the look of the Chimera proceeding in their direction. Some other adventurers had pretty much the same idea: Lucky Jack the Swift flew in through the window after casting a levitation spell, and was followed by some of his companions taking a more conventional route through the door.

Entering into an orgy of destruction, the highlanders smashed the printing presses responsible for so many poisonous lies (as a native of Liverpool, I have to admit this gave me a certain satisfaction); then admist the shattered machinery they found a trapdoor that had been covered up by the press. Surely this would lead them to De Blare's crypt and the dark secrets concealed there?

The passageways had an oppressive feel, dank air thick with the screams of those led to their death by De Blare's lies. Around each corner was evidence of his foul experiments, demanding the austere remedy of a thousand cuts.

Yet the prancing elves had got to De Blare first! Enchanting him with songs of love and peace, they implored him to leave this place and "have a good long think about what you've done". Placing the illusion in his mind that he was in truth an Envoy of Peace to Araby, they set De Blare free. Would the Elves be complicit in allowing De Blare to escape justice?

But they had reckoned without Bryon Anvil and his nagging wife. "DO SOMETHING BRYON!" shrieked the missus.

The surviving highlanders, along with the other adventuring parties, charged down the passageway. All around them echoed the sound of a man finally losing his patience:

"WILL... YOU... SHUT... UP! JUST SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUUUT UUP!" yelled Bryon, who had apparently had a long day and could take no more. He took out all the the rage of a henpecked man on De Blare, bludgeoning the wanted war criminal to death. "THERE! I'VE DONE IT! NOW WILL YOU NOW PLEEEEEASE JUST SHUUUUT UP!"

Bryon looked down at the dead body of De Blare. "Who was that anyway?" he asked, while his wife rolled her eyes.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The month of Marsh

Following on from the mild success of Gnomevember, I figure it's time for yet another arbitrary thematic challenge.

Welcome to (drumroll)... the month of Marsh!
And what is 'Marsh' all about? Why, everybody's favourite marsh dwellers the Fimir, of course! Nothing says "oldhammer" like these club-tailed, one eyed, reproductively deviant buggers.

The dying race of the fens needs you! Do you have any fimir (or not-fimir!) that you've yet to paint up? Do you want to develop fimir background? Do you want to engage in philosophical discussion on the ethics of including rape themes in wargaming? Well, now is the time!

To get you started, here are some of the key resources for understanding these misunderstood creatures:

* The most authoritative writeup of the history of the fimir's development in Games Workshop is by Luke Maciak on the blog Terminally Incoherent, including recollections from designers Graeme Davis (who gave birth to the species) and Tony Ackland.

* Zhu Bajie has a cultural history of the design of the fimir in three parts: Part 1: Origin of the Species, Part 2: Dawn of the Scredling, and Part 3: Alan Lee's Formorian. Across the series he explores their rooting in influences ranging from Irish Mythology to the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal. Indeed, in Part 3, he shows us the back cover for Michael Scott's Irish Folk and Fairy Tales Volume 2, which is the very piece of artwork (by Alan Lee) that inspired the creators of the fimir:

* The authoritative (albeit unofficial, but who cares?) source for Fimir background is Warpstone Issue 25. Which I'm yet to read, because I haven't got a copy. Something to put on my "to do" list for Marsh!

* And in terms of official GW print sources White Dwarf 102 included background for the race, a 3rd ed army list, and a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay adventure with the fimir in a starring role. Read all about it over at Realm of Chaos 80s, which includes a link to the WD article on scribd.

So what am I planning on doing for Marsh? Well, I'd like to get at least one article on this blog exploring their background, but in essence my plan for painting and gaming is very straightforward and hopefully achievable within this month or soon after: paint up the Diego Serrate and Nick Bibby fimir I've not yet finished (including the Meargh!), build myself a village for my fimm, and issue a challenge to Warlord Paul to come and take back the Elf sorceress Fayana, who Clan Slea have taken captive!

Ask not what the fimir can do for you, but what you can do for the fimir!