Monday 27 November 2023

Skin that Smoke Wagon!


I've just started running Deadlands for my Sunday night RPG group. It's the first time I've run a game in that setting for nearly twenty years and the first time using the Savage Worlds system. Two games in, I think the gang is loving both the setting and the system. They've already survived a train wreck, taken down a giant bug, and are now wandering the strange, haunted streets of the town of Coffin Rock. 

While I don't generally use miniatures in my RPGs, preferring theatre of the mind, there are times when things get confusing enough, when the stage gets big enough, that miniatures help. So, I figured I'd best paint up some weird west minis just in case. Thankfully, I thought this might one day come up, so I backed the Zombicide: Undead or Alive Kickstarter a few years ago, just for the minis. I've shown a couple off on this blog before, but last week, I painted up three more.

Apart from the exaggerated stances on some of the figures, I really enjoy painting them. Enough detail to be fun, without overdoing it. While the detail isn't as crisp as metal, it sure shows how far 'board game figures' have come in the last decade. Still got about 100 to go!

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Old Bones 3 - Out Now!

The third volume of Old Bones magazine is out now in both PDF and Print-on-Demand format from DriveThruRPG!

This issue focuses on Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Stargrave and opens with 'The Most Dangerous Game' by Phil Smith. This long piece is all about wizard-hunting and creating anti-magic cells who hunt down wizards, possibly over multiple games. It also includes 8 new creatures designed specifically to plague those that cast spells! 

The second half of the issue focuses on a new monster for the three games, the crocodilian, and includes a two-scenario solo campaign set inside a gigantic sea cave! Do you dare hunt the treasures of the crocodilian? So, while this issues doesn't have quite the variety of the first two, it does contain some more meaty pieces for players to sink there teeth into!

Tuesday 31 October 2023

The Fellowship of the Ring


Almost exactly 4 years ago, I painted a Reaper figure to use as my ideal Legolas. The Legolas that had been in my head since my father first read The Lord of the Rings to me, close to 4 decades past. In truth, I had no plan to take it any further. But not long after, North Star released the first miniature to accompany Rangers of Shadow Deep, and darned if it wasn't nearly my ideal Aragorn... 

It took a little conversion work to get Aragorn just the way I wanted him, but after that, I was on a quest. Gandalf is a straight-up Reaper figure. Boromir was much harder, but eventually, I found a Reaper ranger with a horn. The more I looked at him, the more I began to see the possibilities. I had to cut off a weapon and add a shield, and he'd need some facial hair...

Gimili proved the trickiest of all. I think this is because I had the least clear vision of the character. In the end, I found a Reaper figure I liked. I wasn't sure I had Gimili when I finished, but a couple of years later, the figure has really grown into the character for me.

I had some Reaper minis for hobbits, but I could never quite get it to work. I could find a good Merry and a Sam, and a third figure that I could never decide if it was Frodo or Pippin. Also, the more I looked at them, the more I became convinced they were just too large, more small dwarves than hobbits. So, I reversed gears, went looking, and finally found my perfect hobbits. I got them from Scotia-Grendel, but they were originally produced as part of the Harlequin, The Lord of the Rings line. I swapped which one was Merry and which was Pippin, and gave them their movie colours to better distinguish them. 

Four years is a long time to paint 9 figures (or actually 12 if you count the 3 discarded hobbits), but really, aren't these the most important 9 in the collection?

(Of course now that original Legolas is looking a tad dated... my painting has gotten better since then... maybe I should go back and paint him again...)

Monday 30 October 2023

Me Reading The Hobbit

I first tried to read The Hobbit to my daughter when she was 7. This failed. She was clearly frustrated by her lack of understanding, both of individual words and of the story, and constantly stopped me to ask questions. I put the book aside until she was 9. Then I read it again, and she loved it. If you can push through the first chapter, most of the rest of the book is easier. 

My son is now 7, and I decided to see if he was ready. While his reading and comprehension skills are slightly behind his sister at the same age, he's more comfortable not understanding certain things, and more happy to flow with the narrative. He didn't say a word as I read him the first chapter, though he seemed to enjoy it and grasp most of it. Yesterday, I read him the second chapter, with the trolls, which he liked even more.

He was drawing while I read, and at the end of the chapter, he presented me with this picture. It's me, reading The Hobbit

Thursday 26 October 2023

What I've Been Working On

The last few months have not been my most productive. Between the summer school holidays, travel, and my wife’s return to full-time teaching, my schedule has been all over the place and my opportunities for sustained creative time have been few. Still, I have made at least some progress on most of my games systems. For those that are interested, here is what I’ve been working on: 


I have just seen and approved the final pieces of artwork for Frostgrave: Mortal Enemies. Although aRu-Mor has been at it for awhile now, I am continually amazed by her work on the series. There is a wonderful depth to her colours, and a sense of menace in even the simplest compositions. While this is the only Frostgrave book currently on the schedule, I am in discussions with Osprey on another one. 


Bold Endeavour was just released last week, and I’m excited to see what players make of it. With the new rules for starships and space encounters, it brings a completely new aspect to the game that can really increase the sense of adventure and narrative within a campaign. I loved working on it. But that’s not the last for Stargrave, because I have also been working on a full, book-length version of the Dead or Alive solo expansion that was originally released when the game first released. This book greatly expands the possible settings, complications, and marks that bounty hunters can pursue across the Ravaged Galaxy! 

Rangers of Shadow Deep

have nearly finished a big project with Modiphius that will hopefully be announced soon. I have also been working on something much smaller, which I intended to self-publish, that looks at the game from a completely different angle… 

Old Bones 

Old Bones #3 is in the final stages of production. This one is basically an all Frostgrave & Ghost Archipelago issue. Actually, Old Bones #4 is not running far behind! 


I’m not allowed to say much about this, but there are ongoing discussions… 

The Silver Bayonet

I have just completed my final read-through of the layouts for Egypt: Shadow of the Sphinx. It was a lot of fun to take The Silver Bayonet out of its European setting and bring in some other classic horror monsters! I delight in seeing how much fun can be packed into these small books! 

Deathship One

This is a small-scale, ‘limited’ wargame that I originally wrote for Blaster. As it is now unavailable in that form, I am working to bring it back, in a slightly expanded form, as a stand-alone, self-published book. 

The Renaissance Troll 

Over the last couple of years, I have been quietly working on one other major project – I have been writing my ‘gaming autobiography’. Essentially, the story of my life in games, or perhaps how games have related to my life. It covers my earliest encounters with hobby gaming, the great games and game stores that influenced me, my immigration to Britain, working with Osprey, right up to the writing and publication of The Silver Bayonet. I have now finished the first draft of the manuscript and am slowly editing my way through it. It is the longest single work I have ever written. I don’t know what I’ll do with it once it’s finished, or if anyone will ever want to read it, but it has been an enjoyable exercise in self-reflection, nostalgia, game-philosophy, and writing in a different genre. 

So, plenty of irons still in the fire!

Thursday 19 October 2023

Bilbo Baggins, Esq.

Realizing that I didn't really know what 'Esquire' meant, I looked it up. Now that I've read the Wikipedia entry, I realize that no one else does either. Given that, it seems to me, if anyone should have Esq. after their name, it should be Bilbo Baggins, at least after he'd settled back into Hobbiton with enough money to be happily eccentric. (File under life goals). 

Waiting for the rest of my Fellowship hobbits to arrive, I decided to paint up this really nice Bilbo figure, that came in the same pack as Frodo, from Scotia Grendel. This figure is clearly based on an Angus McBride sketch, found in the Middle-Earth Role-Playing rulebook (any doubt being removed by the subtle decorations on his vest). Really though, it's just a nice little figure. He's got a great expression. He looks happy, but also ready to spring into action should a Sackville-Baggins come around the corner!

I must admit, at the moment, I'm finding these 'Old School' style figures much easier to paint, with their bigger, slightly out of proportion detail. Easier on the eyes and more friendly to washes to boot!

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Stargrave Crew

The sad truth is that I now write games faster than I paint miniatures for games! That's because writing games falls into the more protected 'work time' while painting generally falls into the scarcer 'relax time'. That said, at long last, I have finished my Time Lord Stargrave Crew! 

The crew is mostly plastic - except for two metal figures front and centre. It is also mostly made from official Stargrave kits. The only exceptions are my Time Lord, which is a special figure made for me, and the two figures to the right of that one which are mostly made up of Frostgrave plastics parts. Interestingly though - despite being from different places, I think all of the figures are sculpted by Bobby Jackson. That even applies to the little  robot doggie, which is a metal loot token from the Stargrave range. I'll be using it as a drone.

Now, as a last step, I just need to organize their dedication transportation. No, not a ship - they've already got a Tardis. I mean a dedicated figure case!

With that one ticked off, I can get back to work on my very slowly developing Oathmark army and start work on my The Silver Bayonet unit!