Tuesday 27 June 2023

Pumpkin-headed Bugbear!

Long-time readers know that I've got a 'thing' for pumpkin-heads. I don't know where it comes from, or why it has endured, but I just love painting pumpkin-headed creatures. There is just something so weird about them - maybe the contrast between something as silly, harmless-looking, and inherently squishy as a pumpkin and a horrific, gonna-kill-you monster. I will say, that painting wise, it tends to give you a really nice contrast between the orange pumpkin and the rest of the figure.

Anyway, it was only a matter of time before I painted up this strange Reaper bones miniature, which it calls a pumpkin-headed bugbear. I don't know if this ties into anything specific or if it is the product of a Jason Wiebe sculpting session on Halloween after eating too much candy. Either way, I love it.

It was a pretty easy paint. The body is all various shades of brown, which contrasts nicely with the kermit-the-frog ruff of leaves and the pumpkin head. The head is just a mix of browns, oranges, and yellows, with heavy brown wash for the gooey mouth. 

A great little addition to the collection.

Monday 26 June 2023

Let's do it for the Mayhem!

The Muppets have had a pretty rocky time of it since the loss of their genius-creator Jim Henson. They've had one triumph with The Muppet Christmas Carol, and a few successes: Muppets Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, and The Muppets. They have also had a lot of... other material. With the release of The Muppets Mayhem, I think they can add another triumph to the list.

The Muppets Mayhem is the most smile-inducing show I've seen in a long while, a feat it accomplishes through a combination of zaniness, one-liners, cameos, a family-friendly storyline, and really good music! It even has some understated humour in it (keep your eye on Zoot in the background). 

The basic story line is the attempt by a desperate music executive-want-to-be to get the Electric Mayhem (the famous Muppet band) to fulfil their 40+ year-old contract to produce an album. The Mayhem aren't against the idea, they just have a rather large attention-span problem. Each member of the band gets their own time in the limelight and brings their own style of humour to the forefront. One might wonder how they can stretch that plot out to 10 episodes, but it kept rolling right along quite well. 

Now, I admit, I'm too old and too unhip to have recognized about half the many cameos in the show, but the ones I did recognize were fantastic. 

Perhaps the biggest and best surprise of the show is just how good the music is. This is heard right from the start with the opening credits number, 'Rock On'.

Although my favourite tracks are probably 'On on Our Way' and 'Believe in Us'. 

They also do a lot of covers including 'True Colours', 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters', 'All You Need is Love', and John Hiatt's 'Have a Little Faith in Me' (which I was once lucky enough to see him preform live in a club outside of D.C.).

The album has been released, and actually had some critical and chart success, although it is only available in digital and vinyl (no CD for those of us stuck in the middle-era of music technology!). 

If you like your television gritty and serious, best keep moving, but if you want feel-good family fun... well, I love it.

Friday 23 June 2023

Frostgrave: Wildwoods

Osprey Games has just released Wildwoods, my latest supplement for Frostgrave. The release is accompanied by a few new figures from North Star Military Figures, including some awesome-looking soldiers.

By my count, Wildwoods is the twelfth official supplement for Frostgrave (not including Grave Mutations or any of the Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago books). It’s an incredible milestone for any game to reach a dozen supplements, especially a game that isn’t owned by a big company.

But what is Wildwoods and why is it special? In many ways, the book is my attempt to write a Wilderness Survival Guide for Frostgrave. It is a manual for playing games set outside of the Frozen City in the forests, mountains, bogs, and ice-plains that surround it. It replaces the magical traps and weirdness of broken Felstad for the natural dangers of avalanches, forest fires, and hypothermia. It greatly expands upon the bestiary with numerous natural creatures that live in those frozen lands (and several not-quite-natural ones as well). It gave me an excuse to bring gigantic, vicious walruses into the game!

Also included are rules for the supplies that warbands will need to survive in the harsh wilderness, including rules for cargo transports. While these transports have an important mechanical function and have their place within a game, I admit that my main desire to include them was to give players (and myself) an excuse to paint up a cool model. Transports can really be anything – a necromantic wagon pulled by undead horses, a heavily-laden woolly rhinoceros, a very large load-bearing construct… It’s only limited by the player’s imagination, and I can’t wait to see what people come up with.

A couple other notes of interest about the book:

·       The first two scenarios in the book purposely use specific terrain pieces used in scenarios in the main rulebook – the mausoleum and the stepped-pyramid. I thought if you were good enough to buy the official terrain pieces from Kromlech or have made some yourself, you deserve the excuse to use them again.

·      The book includes a few rangifer subtypes that originally appeared in Spellcaster, Issue 3. 

·       The wizard on the cover of the book has appeared before. Anyone recognize her?

·       It’s now possible to have your construct do the cooking for the warband.

·       The bestiary includes a creature that has previously only appeared in Ghost Archipelago.

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Gael Fairleaf (First RPG Character for a 9 Year Old)


This is Gael Fairleaft, a half-elf druid, and the first role-playing character of my nine-year-old daughter. 

A while back, my daughter got interested in the Pathfinder for Savage Worlds book that was sitting on the desk, so I took the opportunity to make a character with her. A couple of days later, I ran her through her first session. This consisted of Gael venturing into a cave, looking for a lost fairy. She found the fairy in a bed of sleep-inducing mushrooms, but managed to rescue the fairy using her wildshape ability to turn into a eagle and lift the fairy out without setting off any mushrooms. Then, a particularly aggressive and mobile fungus chased after her, but she managed to lose it in the caves before making her escape. 

All-in-all, it was a good little session, and my daughter has expressed interest in playing again. Savage Worlds is a pretty easy system for the most part, especially its dice rolling where a '4' is always a success. And I think they've done a great job translating those rules to the high-fantasy Pathfinder setting. We just used pencil and paper for the first session, but I thought it would be fun to use miniatures in the future, at least some of the time. So, I let her pick out a mini from Reaper's website. She actually picked quite a complicated one to paint, but I really enjoyed it (I offered to let her paint it, but she wanted me to do it). 

I'm starting to think about Gael's next adventure. I'm thinking I might have to send her back into the mushroom cave, as I think there a lot of play left there, and I think the mushroom threat works well for younger players. (A lesson taught to us all by Super Mario Brothers!). Plus, I've got some minis I can use.

I'm thinking this could be the gateway to getting my whole family into role-playing. I've bought my son a miniature as well. At 6 years old, I think he'll need the added familiarity of a miniature/game piece representing him.

Monday 5 June 2023

Wild Swimming


Last week was 'half-term' here in the UK, which means, no school! Our family headed north to the Lake District, to the town of Keswick. My wife and her family are big 'fell walkers'. I don't mind a good hike, though I'm not really a fan of all-day climbs or perilous ledges. As it turned out, after the first day in which we climbed Latrigg (a starter mountain), I took a tumble down the stairs of our holiday house and hurt my foot. This pretty much put an end to any rougher walks for me. Still, I tried to make the most of it and discovered a new way to enjoy the lakes - wild swimming! Over the next few days, I took a swim in Derwent Water and a couple in Buttermere, both of them gorgeous lakes surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery.

I'll admit it - those mountain lake are cold! But, having done a bit of swimming in the English Channel over the last couple of years... well, I'm not 'getting used to it', but I'm at least building up my courage to get in such chilly waters. In fact, the whole family got involved - especially my daughter, who is the most enthusiastic swimmer of the lot of us. 

Yes, I am wearing a baseball cap in the photo. This is not a fashion statement - it's just really not fun getting sunburn on the top of your head!

I had to leave the holiday a couple of days early in order to go to Birmingham for UK Games Expo, but I left feeling that I had discovered something new and important!