Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (White Dwarf-Dec 12)

I took a trip down to my local GW today to take a look at the new "The Hobbit" stuff on offer. Unfortunately the stores do not get anything in until actual release date, but I managed to have a good chat with the manager of the shop and one of the staff before purchasing the latest White Dwarf for perusal at home - something I have not done since February 2011.

WD December 2012 - Image used without permission - Copyright Games Workshop

We can expect the game to be an update of the Strategy Battle Game we have all come to love said the GW bods. It looks like the new rulebook is indeed the next step in the evolution of the game, and I found out that the new hardback should contain the latest ruleset (but previous supplements are compatible) for both LotR and TH (The Hobbit). It includes a beastiary and rules for all of the existing range of LotR miniatures as well as the new stuff coming out. The softback that comes with the box set "Escape from Goblin Town" will contain a cut-down set of rules that only caters for The Hobbit.

Delving into White Dwarf, we have no less than 62 pages of The Hobbit goodness out of a total of 144 actual pages - not a bad return in comparison to previous months' magazines (the reason I stopped buying White Dwarf was because of its very limited cover of LotR:SBG). Inside the magazine we find the following articles...
  • Introduction to The Hobbit game - detailing the new releases with a nice double spread, gatefold section (which actually takes the page count to 66 pages in total). We are introduced to the game, the Dwarfs, the denizens of Goblin Town, the Trolls (William, Bert and Tom) and the Hunter Orcs (both on and off Fell Wargs) with their leaders.
  • There are three pages of The Hobbit related adverts detailing all of the new releases
  • There is a Bat Rep for the scenario in the new box set
  • A short painting guide for some of the new miniatures
  • A Design Studio article on the inspiration for the miniatures by the sculptors
There are also a few articles on Warhammer (a featured Ogre army and painting guide) and Warhammer 40K (a delve into the realms of Forgeworld and attack craft/vehicles). These game systems are not really my thing, but the articles look potentially good for WH and WH40K players.

I have to admit I am becoming quite excited by these new releases for SBG, and the photos of the minis look good so far. To summarise a few things for you ...
  • Many of the new releases are plastics (good news!) - the Company of Dwarfs, goblins, Goblin King, the Trolls, Hunter Orcs and Orcs on Fell Wargs (the wargs are VERY nice imho - I will definitely be getting some of these - there are three warg bodies and four heads, hopefully giving a dozen decent poses to go with the 27 combinations for the riders).
  • Finecast releases include the leaders of the goblins and orcs (a couple GW stylee captains, Bolg and Fimbul), as well as The White Council
  • A couple of new rulebooks - hardback for the full set and the softback that comes with the box set
  • A paint set that includes five goblins
  • A set of scenery called goblin Town (also included in the box set)
  • A release of the plastic Fellowship of the Ring figures that originally came with the Mines of Moria box set - tempting I must say
Overall, both the releases for The Hobbit and the new White Dwarf have been great to see this month, and they have definitely renewed my interest in the Strategy Battle Game.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Carrion Crown - Session VII

Session 7: Harrowstone (21st November 2012)

The Pathfinders
Kazimir – Elf Fighter
Moebius – Elf Conjurer
Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Zef – Human Ranger

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys (Day 10 – mid-day)

Upon opening the door we were struck as if by a wet cloth. The room was open to the elements, and the rain beat against us as we entered. The only feature left in this room was a huge furnace and its accompanying chimney; the rest had collapsed into the level below and the resulting chasm had filled with water forming the lake we had seen outside. I lit one of my small candles and looked up the chimney. I spotted nothing of interest but the rest of my companions mentioned that they could smell burning flesh. I quickly pulled my head out of the chimney but the smell didn’t dissipate. Moebius took a turn to look up the shaft but as soon as his head entered the space a ball of fire shot down towards him. He managed to back away without getting hurt.

Stirge Attack

As we had explored most of this level of the prison now, I decided to climb up the rubble and onto the roof to see what I could see, and match it up to the details I gained when I went up the stairs earlier. There were a whole bunch of rooms that we needed to explore. After looking around for a few minutes to get my bearings I heard the unmistakable buzz of stirge wings. Three of the critters were heading straight towards me. I rapidly made my way back to the party just as they crested the lip of the rubble wall we were standing beneath. Zef let fly with his arrows and two of them dropped. The third that approached me was quickly dispatched by my trusty rapier. I have to say that I really do not like these creepy crawlies.

We decided that it would be safer to get onto the roof via the inner stairwell, so we returned inside and made our way up to the first storey via the stone stairs. The landing opened out into an area containing a watch room with floor to ceiling bars and a whole bunch of cells. We checked many of the cells but all they contained were the skeletons of the previous inmates. We decided that we would ask for Father Grimburrow’s help in getting the corpses back to town for decent burial rather than attempt the feat ourselves. It was at this point we started to hear the sound of mournful pipe music and the flutter of more stirge wings. Moving on we passed through a kitchen and pantry area, but had to retrace our steps to find another way into the watch room. We found the way through via an adjoining room which contained the skeleton of a man wrapped in chains and draped in holy symbols.

The First Encounter with the Five

Moebius mentioned that this was most likely the body of one of the five dangerous criminals who had plotted the prison break; the preacher one. Kazimir poked the body to make sure it had no life in it. It didn’t, but the piping seemed to get louder and we still could not ascertain where it was coming from.

We took a quick look into the watch room and found that it could be used to observe the majority of the prison cells with the exception of a few round one corner. All the cells we looked in were occupied with skeletons much like those we had encountered earlier. We headed for the area we could not see from the observation room which happened to be another corridor full of cells. The piping got suddenly louder when we were halfway down the hall and when we least expected it, a number of skeletons burst from their cells into our midst.

Zef looked behind us and let fly a couple of arrows at a wraith like apparition that was stalking us from the rear (this was seemingly where the piping was coming from). Moebius and I were raked by the rank claws of the cadavers. Suddenly there were five images of Moebius amongst us but as soon as those images appeared, our fighter collapsed to the ground and proceeded to bleed profusely; the blood flowing towards the wraith-like spirit beyond Zef. Chains and holy symbols, the same as those on the corpse in the room beside the observation room, began to appear on Kazimir’s body but the fighter himself was unconscious.

During the melee, we all suffered a form of paralysis but were able to shake it off a few seconds later. Unfortunately, this led to most of us picking up wounds from the undead attacking us – Moebius’s doubles were taking the brunt of damage that was meant for him. After a short while, we heard the unmistakable whine of stirge wings and saw a couple approaching down the corridor towards us. It was at this point that I was unable to take any more and had to duck inside one of the cells to avoid being killed by the skeletons. As I popped into the cell, I heard a whoop from Moebius and Zef as the wraith winked out of existence and the music stopped – they had killed the Piper!

I quickly drank one of our healing potions and felt well enough to re-enter the fray. I burst out of the door, and put paid to one of the skeletons just as Zef skewered both of the stirges which were busy trying to suck the blood from our poor downed fighter. I threw some Holy Water onto the fighter’s body, and it seemed to help him as the chains that were wrapped around him slowed in their tightening. Moebius, meanwhile, summoned up some attack dogs and headed back to the holy symbol covered corpse in the room beside the observation chamber. Zef and I finished off the last skeleton.

Two down three to go

Moebius collected up the dog-savaged bones of the preacher and placed them into a sack, then rejoined us in the corridor. Kazimir came to and asked us what had happened. He had fallen into a trance and been told by an apparition that we had deserted him and that he should join with the preacher as we no longer cared for him. He had decided to refuse the offer and thus had begun to be set upon by chains and holy symbols.

We headed on up the corridor to the last couple of rooms. Neither of these were cells. The first contained a ladder and trapdoor in the ceiling that we could not open, and the second room contained a skeleton and a bone flute. We realised this was the Piper’s body, so we again scooped up the bones and placed them into another sack.

The Gnome

As I wanted to get to the roof to see what else was up there it was decided that I climbed up via the rubble and see if I could clear the obstruction above the trap door to allow the rest up. Again, I heard the unmistakable whine of stirge wings. I called up Zef, who promptly put arrows into them, whilst I began to pull fallen masonry from off of the trapdoor. With Kazimir pushing from below, we soon had the trap door open and the rest of the party clambered through and out onto the roof.

All we could see up there was a parapet and walkway in fairly good repair. We wandered around until we encountered a patch of carnivorous vine (identified by our ranger). Moebius soon had a little fire elemental get to work with burning it up. When the leaves had peeled away, we noticed the skeleton of a gnome beneath. Not knowing what he was doing up there, and not wanting to hang around as the light was beginning to fade, we quickly searched the body and found a few gold (24) and platinum (3) coins along with a little signet ring. We headed on back downstairs and headed towards the room with the warden’s wife’s ghost.

The Blue Lady

When we went into her chamber we heard her crying, but this time in joy. When we asked her about the two criminals, she told us that they were definitely dead. We told her what we had done and what we still intended to do and she thanked us in a most heart felt way.

With the light fading from the skies, we headed back to town and into Father Grimburrow’s garden. He was weeding and cursing his acolytes for being a lazy bunch and not knowing their aspidistras from their rhododendrons or some such. We interrupted his reverie and cursing to give him our news.

Father Grimburrow performed a couple of rites on the skeletons and we saw the ghosts of the prisoners rise from the bodies and evaporate with silent screams of anguish on their faces. He told us that the ordeal was over concerning these two.

He then proceeded to heal us of our combat wounds and mentioned that he would send his lazy acolytes up the hill to the prison tomorrow to pick up the rest of the skeletons for a decent burial whilst we carried on our investigations of the ground floor (we still had to get into the strong room and cold room, as well as open the safe in the calm room).

The Gazebo (Day 10 - Late evening)

We were awoken again later that evening by the sheriff; there was a large letter ‘S’ daubed onto the town’s gazebo. This is the third letter in the warden’s wife’s name. Luckily she has quite a long name, giving us plenty of time in which to finish our investigations at the prison on the hill.

The Strong Room (Day 11)

Feeling a little worse for wear and still carrying a weakness from the stirge bites I could not be raised from my bed. Zef decided to stay with me during the day to help me heal whilst Moebius and Kazimir returned to the prison with the acolytes of Pharasma. They all returned about an hour or so later with the contents of the room.

Contained within a small safe there were indeed items that looked like they would be useful in fighting the five (a smith’s hammer, a silver flute, a spell book, a collection of holy symbols and a blood-stained item). There were also more items that would help us against their minions and furthering our adventures (a set of Master Thieves’ Tools, a silver hairclip, some throwing stars, a silver war razor, a wand of Lesser Restoration and a few other items).

We spent the rest of the day looking over the items; trying to identify them and their uses. The skeletons from the upper storey had been cleared out by the acolytes, but the cold room and safe in the calm room still needed to be investigated. Perhaps we will do that on the morrow when we are all recovered from our wounds?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Goblin Wolf Rider

I seem to have a few one-off miniatures laying around that fit into a variety opf armies but are not really usable as part of a unit. Here is the only Night Goblin (?) wolf rider I own. He should fit in nicely with the Tusker Riders I painted up a while back as some sort of scout to the heavy hitting riders.

It was very simple to paint, but the detail on the sculpt is just right to make my paint job look a lot better than it actually is.

As you may be aware I give my orcs and goblins particular skin colours depending upon what 'tribe' they are. I do not personally like the newly established Games Workshop 'traditional' green for them (although some of the paint jobs by GW and gamers do look very good utilising that colour scheme), as I prefer a more muted and realistic (?) palette. My goblinoids range from dark brown for trolls and ogres, through bronzed flesh for orcs, to lighter flesh colours for actual goblins, and finally Rotting Flesh for Night Goblins. My rationale for this is that the smaller the goblin, the less likely they are to come out during the day, thus the epithet Night Goblins for the smallest goblins. It works for me anyway.

Still to come are loads of Norman Knights, the Hitch Hikers from H2G2, a few more GW Dredd and sci-fi miniatures and a handful of cleric types.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A couple of new HotT Elf bases

Alex finished off two more bases of Elves for his HotT army. This army is very slow in the making (rather like my own really), but he now has 4 completedf bases and another on the way. I will see about putting in an order for some more minis for his army soon - he has some greatideas for fleshing it out, and I am looking forward to pitting them against my Barbarians, Dwarfs, or Orcs and Goblins armies.

Anyway, here is the second unit of spearmen...

And here is the first stand of archers...

He has another stand of archers on the go and he put together some Mantic Elves to go with them. They are on a completely different scale to these minis, which are actually quite large for an old skool set of minis, but could be classed as an allied contingent.

Next up from me should be a Goblin mini that just needs the basing completing.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Early Citadel Space Marines

I have at long last begun to get back into painting after a long hiatus. The time spent not painting has been very productive gaming wise, as I have been involved in two rather excellent fantasy RPG games (AD&D and Pathfinder) and some long-term discussions about re-developing some old sci-fi stuff with one of my oldest gaming friends, Arlo.

My eyesight has not improved (will be going for a check-up in the next couple of weeks to change my prescription) with the time away from the close scrutiny, and it shows in some of the pictures below with the parts I have missed or gone over accidentally and not noticed even when checking for such errors - ho hum, the camera doesn't seem to lie in these cases.

Anyway, I have also managed to put a lot of pigment onto a rather large bunch of Norman milites, but it will be a short while before they are anywhere near completed. I have also undercoated a handful of clerics for AD&D to go with all of my fighters, thieves, barbarians and magic users that were completed a year or two back., and some old Denizen miniatures for the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Getting back to the sci-fi theme, here are the final painted versions of the first released Citadel Space Marines. I have already painted up a couple as Judge Dredd style heavy troopers, but these ones are painted as Dark Angels (my preferred WH40K troop type). I really like the womble-head style of the helmets, and think that Citadel/GW should have stayed with that style imho.

This figure, although bought as part of the same set, doesn't really fit in with the unit, what with the skull motif on his shoulder pads. I painted him differently, as if he was a baddie. I have also found another bunch of sci-fi style baddies that I bought around the same time that I will add to a menagerie of scoundrels - maybe the crew of a space pirate ship? Hopefully I'll get those painted before Christmas.

This one, with an old style chainsword I have designated the commander of my little squad.

And, here are the rest of the squad - all with the same weapons except for the last chap. Not sure why he was sculpted with a different weapon, but it does add to their individuality I guess.

Finally, here is a group shot of the whole squad. Those space pirates had better beware!

Alex has also been picking up the brushes again and managed to get a few more finished - I will post them up later when the basing is completed.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Carrion Crown - Part 6

Session 6: Harrowstone (7th November 2012)

The Pathfinders
Kazimir – Elf Fighter
Moebius – Elf Conjurer
Nicolai Alamrys – Human Rogue
Tomas – Cleric (absent)
Zef – Human Ranger

(Note to Matt – 1250 Xp was awarded this week)

From the Diary of Nicolai Alamrys (Day 9 – afternoon)

We left Tomas in the chapel of Pharasma to carry on re-sanctifying it. The rest of us headed towards the end of the corridor after a brief spot of lunch to keep up our flagging energy levels. The room beyond the door was triangular in shape and appeared to all intents and purposes to be a branding room. Scattered over the floor were a multitude of branding irons with hand etched serial numbers, and a large brazier turned upon its side. We (Kazimir, Moebius and I) began to poke around the debris with our boots until Moebius and I started to smell burning flesh. When we looked up and mentioned this to Zef, four of the iron rods lifted from the floor. The tips of the brands started to glow red hot. I knew Tomas had a bucket of water on the go to aid in his cleaning of the chapel, so I swiftly ran to grab it. In the meantime, all I could hear were incantations, and grunts and cries of pain emanating from the room until my return. It appeared that the situation was under control when I returned just a few seconds later, but both Zef and Moebius had been badly burned by the branding rods. As soon as they saw the bucket of water they thrust the rods into it, quenching the fire upon them immediately.

Just as the last hisses of steam were dissipating, we noticed that Kazimir had joined us – Kendra had got sick of him moping around the place and she requested that he go join his companions and earn his keep. He mentioned that he had passed Tomas going in the other direction on his way up to the prison, and said that Kendra needed a new bodyguard whilst he was away, but the cleric was rather uncommunicative an donly grunted in response.

The Warden’s Wife

We collected our wits and moved out of the branding room to the next door along the wall. This door popped open with the minimum of effort from Kazimir and we all entered. We could see a room full of sewing paraphernalia and the skeleton of someone at the far end of the room. I also happened to notice a door to the right of us hidden behind a few drapes that partially obscured it. Before we could investigate further, an apparition appeared before us. The blue woman wept continuously, but managed to ask us if we were the new guards. We answered in the negative but mentioned that we were here to cleanse the prison of evil. We managed to question the shade of the prison warden’s wife further for the following information…

  • There are five items in the lock-up that can be used against the five most evil prisoners; those that Moebius had garnered the names of earlier
  • She declared that she is the new warden now that her husband is dead, but her time is limited
  • The Whispering Way cultists arrived and set about casting a ritual
  • They murdered the professor and wrote the incantation around the prison that we saw on the way in
  • The Splatter Man is daubing the statue in town – when her name is spelt out, she will cease to exist and the five prisoners will be free to leave the prison
  • The cultist’s leader is a thin grey-skinned humanoid with a bone breast plate, and a dark staff with a gagged skull upon it
We thanked her for her aid and advice and made our way through the semi-secret portal I had spotted earlier, perhaps there were more secrets to be found through here we thought at the time, or why else try to conceal the door?

The Laundry Room

The next chamber revealed itself as a laundry room; clothing and linen was scattered all over the floor and a constantly running drain led to the cess pit we had noticed outside earlier.

I began to prod around the piles of linen with my rapier until the clothing started to move of its own volition. I jumped back in fright as an animated leather strait jacket arose from the laundry pile. Zef managed to grab hold of the jerkin whilst Kazimir and I proceeded to rip it to shreds using our swords; the remnants being finished off with one of Moebius’ rays of acid.

Luckily no-one was hurt in this encounter, although Zef did get embraced by the jacket at one point. Zef and Moebius were still nursing severe burns from those branding irons, so it was a good thing that this animated item was put down so quickly.

Other than the iron door situated way back past the vestibule, we only had one more door to search behind on the ground level of the prison. As it was getting late, we decided to try the door and then head back for some well earned rest, and to try to get those injured tended to.

The Poltergeist

As soon as the door to this room opened we were faced with a haunting apparition. I tried to throw some Holy Water at it, but its fearsome visage made me drop the missile in fright. At this point, the ghostly apparition let out the most horrendous scream which caused Zef and me to immediately take flight in fear of our souls, closely followed by Kazimir. A rather shocked Moebius then brought up the rear, muttering something about who was supposed to the brave ones.

Our fear had run its course by the time we got back to the vestibule, so we stopped to take stock of our position. None of us were harmed and the ghost had decided not to follow us. Looking out of the door we noticed that the evening was drawing in, so we decided to call it a day. I just made a quick detour to the steel door to check out its lock. It looked way beyond my skill to attempt to unpick.

Gibbs Strikes Back (Day 9 – early evening)

We headed back to town; Kazimir and I visited the statue, and Zef and Moebius went via Father Grimburrow’s office to see if he could alleviate their suffering with a bit of ecclesiastical jiggery-pokery. He healed the worst of their wounds, but at the cost of them both attending service the following morning. Moebius was not too happy as he had things he wanted to study, but Zef was beginning to like this god Pharasma; she and the ranger have a lot of things in common. I see a full blown conversion coming on with him.

Kazimir and I set up watch on the statue, me near to it with the horn at hand, and Kazimir close by to give heavy support if needed. Towards the end of my shift, I spotted a person in nightgown and sleeping hat approach the statue with a struggling dog in one hand and a rather large razor in the other. I aimed up with my trusty crossbow and let loose just as the perpetrator was about to start his grizzly ritual by slitting the dog’s throat. The quarrel flew true and stuck fast in the man’s shoulder causing him to drop the dog, which ran off yelping. I blew on the horn, to summon Kazimir to my side. He proceeded to swipe the villain off of his feet with the handle of his glaive, but before he could deliver a coup de grace I stopped him and cautioned it may be best to take the dauber alive. Kazimir delivered a very well aimed blow that knocked the person senseless. When we discovered who it was, we were shocked to find out the night prowler was none other than Gibbs; Zef’s mortal enemy.

A second wind of the horn brought forth the townsfolk from the Laughing Demon. Amongst them was the sheriff who, seeing the situation for what it was proceeded to arrest Gibbs and drag him off to the gaol.

The Ouija Board (Day 10)

We rested up for the rest of the night, all of us having a good sleep, and awoke early. Zef and Moebius headed off to the 6 o’clock service whilst Kazimir and I paid a visit to the sheriff’s office. We didn’t manage to get much out of Gibbs other than he was ‘sleepwalking’.

The sheriff was to head off to Gibbs’ house to see what he could find so we asked to accompany him. He agreed to this and on our way we bumped into the others. We all arrived at Gibbs’ house and entered his main living room where we saw a message daubed in rabbits’ blood on the wall (we know it was rabbit’s blood because of the two tiny corpses left lying in the middle of the floor. The message stated, “You shall not prevent our escape”.

Zef wanted to get to the bottom of this now by any means possible, so he produced the ouija board he had been carrying around with him since breakfast. He set it up, placed his fingers on the main mat and promptly stood up. He made for the rabbits, put his fingers into the blood and began to daub a fresh message on the wall, “The woman will die again”. He then returned to his seated position and came back to himself.

Wondering if there was some other kind of spirit channel in the room, Moebius cast a small spell and realised there was a faint emanation of magic coming from a water skin that was once filled with blood (we could see the dried stains of it around the mouth of the skin).

We all made our excuses then and left the sheriff to his investigations; Zef and I popped off to see Father Grimburrow on how to use those Haunt Siphons, and Moebius and Kazimir went to the Unfurled Scroll to purchase a Knock spell scroll. We managed to get Father to empty one siphon for us with the promise of returning another soul for him to send on its way to Pharasma. We agreed and met up with the others on the road leading to the prison.

Back to the Poltergeist

We made our way straight back to the room containing the phantasm that frightened us so much the day before. We prepared ourselves and burst into the room. One of the ways in which souls could enter the siphon was through persuasion (the other being that it needed to be subdued sufficiently by force or hemmed in by a circle of salt to want respite from its suffering). I tried to reason with the ghost but my well rehearsed oration was drowned out by another soul wrenching scream.

This time we all ran except for Zef, who had decided he would not run from the undead ever again. After running for quite a distance, we came to a halt and realised that our companion was not with us. We headed back into the prison complex expecting to find him dead or worse, only to find him grinning from ear to ear. He had loaded his bow with one of the magical arrows and let fly. The apparition had just exploded when the arrow struck returning the tormented soul back to whichever hell it had come from.

As it had taken us a while to get back to our compatriot, Zef had had time to search the room, where he found the following items…

  • 2 Healing kits
  • 3 vials of anti-toxin
  • 2 vials of anti-plague
  • 3 vials of blood block
  • 3 vials of smelling salts
  • 4 potions of Cure Light Wounds

After we had got over the excitement of seeing our trusty ranger alive and well, and bearing gifts, we noticed one last door in the room. We stepped towards it …