Tuesday, 12 January 2021

A Fist Full of El'Cheapo Budget Vapor Snakes

I'm still looking at solo Frostgrave and I've been looking at the various scenarios and mini campaigns. I found that I'm going to need Vapor Snakes. 

Questions: What are vapor snakes? Where do I get 'em? How much will they cost? How many will I need? What else can I use?

Answers: 1) I don't know. 2) From an online store. 3) Not cheap. 4) Quite a few - which will make them expensive. 5) Hmmm... I have an idea...

Yes, I decided to make my own Vapor Snakes. I figured I could make them very cheap and very easy and very quickly.

I took some pipe cleaners (it amazes me that they still make pipe cleaners despite there being very few people who still smoke a pipe).
For the vapor snakes, I needed normal size ones and large ones. For the normal size I cut a pipe cleaner in half and folded it. I then twisted it into one piece. For the large ones I folded one pipe cleaner three times and then twisted it into a single piece.
I then glued one end onto an mdf base (25mm base for the regular and 30mm for the large).
When the glue was set I bent them into shape (this one, by the way is one of the large ones).
I then gave them a solid coating of impasto meduim. Basing texture gunk or tacky pvc/wood glue might also work.
When dry I gave them a good coat of Vallejo pale blue grey (but any pale grey should work). 
When dry again, I gave them a heavy dry brushing of white.
Here they are. I did 6 regular size and 3 large (only 2 in the pic). When I painted the bases I gave each base a dry brush of white to make them look a little bit vaporish.
They're certainly not the best looking figures that you could use but they give the effect of writhing columns of sentient vapour. For the cost of 6 pipe cleaners and a handful of bases these little guys came out all right. Most of the time spent was waiting for the impasto medium to cure. But when it was fully cured it gave them a fair bit of solidity with flexibility so that they can be re-pose if needs be.



Monday, 11 January 2021

Cork Pillars ~ Quick Fantasy Terrain

I wanted some pillars. In fact, I've wanted some pillars for quite a while. I had a pretty good idea of how to make them but I just never got around to doing it. But a couple of days ago I made them. They are cheap and easy and super quick to make. Here they are:

To make these the main ingredient is wine corks. I bought a bag of these years ago to use for sculpting. You can get them from most home-brew suppliers. The other ingredients are: 30mm round lipped bases and 30mm mdf bases. These piece are not compulsory and other similar items could be used.
Glue a pair of corks together.
Take some bases.
Glue them on to the ends of the corks. Glue the mdf base on to the bottom/base
Undercoat them. (This is Egbert, the 28mm Saxon for scale reference)
Paint them grey (or whatever colour you want) and dry-brush them.
They are finished. They're lightweight, sturdy and stable. I might magnetize the top of them so that I can add some sort of walkway on top.

As I was making these I thought to myself: "Hmmm... These would make really good pedestals to hold figures while I'm painting them". One cork + an mdf base. Hot glue or Blutack the figure onto the mdf base.... Start painting. Easy!

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Frostgrave Terrain & Treasure Tokens

Going back to my post of a few days back you'll see that I refurbished a terrain board to make it usable for Frostgrave. When I finished doing that I decided to make a bit more terrain for the same game. This terrain is pretty basic and it's just foam wall sections glued together with no real rhyme or reason. It's table filler terrain, really.

I did try to get some sort of elevation for some of the pieces to represent a basic effect of multi levels and encourage climbing (and falling). I didn't add any snow/frost effects. I did that for the first few pieces I made and didn't bother on the next batch. Likewise I didn't add snow effects to this new stuff. The reason for that being that snow effects  really limits the possible uses for the terrain. Un-frosted the terrain can be used for any ruined city and, if I really want to I can just sprinkle baking soda to create temporary snow.

These are the new pieces. As I've done previously these are pretty cheap and easy. The main material is high density insulation foam scored and shaped using a hot wire cutter. The bases are scrap cardboard edged with masking tape. Each piece has three coats of grey caulk. The first coat is thinned with water to get into all the nooks and crannies. The second coat is watered but thicker. The third coat is for adding texture and to pick up any areas where the previous coats missed. When cured they were dry-brushed with off white emulsion paint.
The pieces come out pretty strong and sturdy due to the caulk even if they are quite basic.

I've also been delving into the Mantic Terrain Crate that I bought. I just added a few pieces to the current batch of things that I'm working on. There's nothing really interesting about any of them but they look pretty good for what they are. 
I also put together some treasure/loot tokens. These are mostly made up using bits from a WizKids set of wizard stuff (a pack full of bottles, books and whatnot). They look more interesting than bland 2D tokens. I do have other treasure tokens and these will go nicely with them.
That's all for now.


Saturday, 9 January 2021

Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?

I'm back to painting monsters, other critters and game pieces at the moment. This is because I've shifted my focus from big unit games to skirmish again. As usual, I'll keep on this track for a while and make a bunch of stuff until I get distracted by something else. Then I'll blitz that new thing (whatever it may be).

First of all is this little beauty:

A Beholder! At least that's what they were called when I last played D&D (early '90's). This fine chap is from WizKids and he's called a "Spectator" (?) or something similar. I threw out the packaging and I can't remember what it said. My mind is a bit vague on the subject but I do remember the name Beholder.

I was a bit intimidated with the thought of painting the eyeballs. I did them by doing lots of layers:

Grey undercoat. Red wash. Grey/white. White (x2), Very thin burnt orange (x2). Fiery orange. Fiery orange + yellow (50/50). Bright yellow. Then I added the pupil using flat black followed by a white dot. Then I did a coat of flat varnish followed by two coats of GW 'Ard Coat. So... All up 15 layers. On each eye.

He came out looking pretty nice. I like the clear plastic stand. It attaches to his back as you can see in the pic below.
And a troll. In particular: This bloody big troll.
This is yet another figure from WizKids. I decided to make it into an Ice Troll for Frostgrave. It's really large and here's a pic with an Oathmark  dwarf to give you an idea of scale.
From big to small. This one is a Fire Sprite or whatever. It's another Reaper Bones figure and comes from the Familiars set. This is one of the figures from this set that is usable.  A couple of the figures are no good and I threw them out because I couldn't make out what they were supposed to be. It's only a tiny figure and I don't know what I can use it for.
These dogs came with the FireForge skeleton cavalry. They were supposed to be "undead" and I needed to patch up the holes in them (holes that were supposed to look like decayed flesh!!!). They looked pretty crappy but I patched them up with greenstuff and they came out looking okay. There's two of them - One from each sprue.
And I think that's it.

 


Thursday, 7 January 2021

A Box o' Terrain & Various Stuff

Over the past few days I've bought, made and painted a bunch of various things. Most of this has come because I played that solo game of Frostgrave in my previous post. It nothing else it has inspired me to get more things done. Nothing major ~ just a bunch of smaller things that make a difference.

One thing I decided is to continue with solo Frostgrave and play the short campaign in the Perilous Dark supplement. But I need a few things. One of them is dungeon doors. So, today I went looking for some terrain at a a shop not too far away called Milsims (many years ago, in a long forgotten age, it use to be called Military Simulations) because they have a bunch of those Mantic terrain boxes.

I saw this big box. It cost a bit but the price was quite reasonable considering what's in it.

I opened it up to see a whole bunch of stuff in the first level (yes there's two levels worth of goodies). A quick look and I could see lots of shelves and things, piles of treasure, furniture, something that looks like an astrolabe, barrels & crates, wizard things and dungeon doors.
In the second level are a bunch of figures.
A dragon. That's nice. I don't have a plain old normal looking dragon. I've got a skeleton dragon, a jabawock, a dragon with a knight riding it and now I have a regular dragon.
A bunch of undead things. Skeletons, ghouls, zombies and a troll thing. Skeleton Archers ~ I don't have any of those. All good and useful.
A bunch of orcs, goblins, etc. I think some of these will find themselves drafted (press-ganged) into my goblin army as leader/command figures. Some nice looking little goblins in this lot.
Possibly the least interesting of all is a bunch of adventurers. I'm sure they'll come in handy along the way.
A pack of evil demons including a three headed devil dog: the dreaded Hound of Heck! Some look a bit odd at a quick glance but I'm sure they'll fit in somewhere. 
It looks to me that these figures are from Mantic's; Kings of War range. The colour coding makes it look like they're designed for kids to use them straight out of the box. Overall, they're a pretty good selection and I'm sure I can find a use for most of them. 

What's next

Considering that I've decided to delve further into the world of solo Frostgrave, I fixed up one of my terrain boards which was looking a bit sad and neglected.

I made this lat year for Rangers of Shadow Deep. It's a 3' x3' x 50mm sheet of insulation foam. It's double sided and the other side has grass/flock. This side has vinyl floor tiles that I initially left bare. They had a nice stone effect finish and looked okay. It was good for my previous needs and only took about 30 minutes to make. But I decided it looked a bit dull. So I gave it two coats of grey coloured caulk and then sponged some light grey (almost white) emulsion paint on top. I then gave it a very light dry-brushing. It took about a hour of work but also a day to let the caulk cure.

I think it came out looking okay and it will make a good playing area for more than just Frostgrave. The mix of dry brush and sponge gives it an interesting surface texture.

What else:

A well. This is from Wiz Kids. It's very nice and I've been meaning to get one of these for some time. It has a nice water effects plug stuck up its bottom hole. 

Some doors from the terrain box. I like to call them Jim and Ray.

I'm currently making a bit more quick and easy Frostgrave terrain. I started yesterday but I need to check out some other folks terrain for a bit of inspiration before I continue.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Tomb Raiding ~ A Frostgrave Solo Game

I got Frostgrave 2nd Ed and  I've been thinking about playing some solo games. I was under the impression that the 2nd ed book contained solo rules, but I was mistaken. Not to worry though because I have the Perilous Dark supplement which has solo stuff in it. So I read it. It sort of helped but didn't have solid "solo rules," just a bunch of ideas which, whilst good advice, are not what I was hoping for.

So I decided on some ideas and played a game to sort it out. I wasn't happy with the suggested turn sequence so I came up with my own: Wizard Phase ~ Monster Phase 1 ~ Apprentice Phase ~ Monster Phase 2 ~ Soldier Phase. Monster Phase 1 will be special/scenario specific monsters.  Monster Phase 2 will be Random (wandering) Monsters rolled for at the end of every turn or when a treasure is discovered. 

This turn sequence seemed to work okay so I made up a scenario based on The Mausoleum scenario in the book. My mausoleum model has a removable roof so I put an alter in it. I made a simple chart to see what happened when the alter was examined ~ Possible treasure & monsters...

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Like any other practitioner of the magical arts, Zanzabax the Thaumaturge has heard the tales of Frostgrave ~ those arcane ruined remains of the magical city of Falstead. With his apprentice Marzbar in tow Zanzabax traveled to Wolfpass Gorge, one of the nearby settlements that have grown around the outskirts of the fabled city. 

In Wolfpass the mages gathered a band of adventurers and ruffians with the promise of long lost riches and set forth to seek magical power and infamy.
Zanzabax stands at the center with the barbarian warrior Thrak, the archer Jasper, and a thug named Mungo. This group will be the one that will enter the crypt itself. Big Vern and Bazza, a pair of rough thugs, will scout to the right and search of any other treasure that might be found. 
Marzbar leads a smaller group to the left in search of random loot. With him are the halfling tracker Nob Undersack and a pair of professional thieves: Rosco & Lazli.
Yonder stands the door to the crypt. An animated skeleton stands guard.
Zanzabax leads the way. He utters a magic word and makes a cryptic sigh and a faint blue nimbus glows around him like a protective shield (Shield spell). Jasper climbs onto a high point and looses a heavy arrow that shatters the skull of the skeleton guard.
As the rest of the warband move ahead all seems quiet. Thrak attracts the attention of an undead guard. He pays it little heed until its spear slips past his guard and wounds him sorely. Unexpectedly the big fool finds himself on the defensive until Zanzabax moves in holding high his staff and commanding the undead which then crumbles to a pile of bones (a successful Destroy Undead spell). "Take care,' he says. 'Even the dead can kill you in this unholy place."
Another of the skeleton guards attacks Lazli who rushed forward lured by the presence of nearby treasure. Marzbar, hoping to emulate his master fails in his attempt to cast the Destroy Undead spell and looks physically shaken. Lucky for Lazli, Rosco is close by and manages to turn the skeleton into another pile of harmless bones.
Zanzabax, Thrag and Mungo make their way to the door of the crypt. The mage and the barbarian will enter whilst Mungo and Jasper guard the rear. Before they enter and expecting the worst, the mage casts a spell that makes the barbarian's axe glow with a dangerous magical edge (Enchant Weapon spell).
Before he can get an arrow nocked, a wolf leaps from the snow and attacks Jasper the archer. He is wounded but manages to keep the beast at bey. However it's still a threat and won't be easily seen off. 
To the left Big Vern and Bazza find what they're looking for. Vern finds a skeleton guard and Bazza spies some hidden treasure. Big Vern swings and the skeleton thrusts its spear. Vern's axe bites into a leg bone and the whole pile of bones fall to the ground. A bit of extra pounding and stomping and the undead guard is just a pile of dry old bones.
But, no sooner does Big Vern pound one skeleton into the dust than another steps around the corner.
Free to once more move ahead Lazli finds some loot and makes her way back to the rendezvous where the pack animals await. (First treasure token off the board.)
Zanzabax and Thrak enter the crypt and see an alter standing at its center. The mage examines it and discovers some interesting items under a rotting shoud and a thick coating of dust. Just then the pair hear the creaking and clanking of old bones and rusted armour...
Outside the crypt Jasper is getting the worst of his encounter with the wild wolf so Mungo goes to his aid and splits the beast's head with a swing of his axe.
Watching the progress of the pair of thieves, Marzbar doesn't notice the half frozen reanimated corpse that attacks him from behind. The zombie takes the apprentice mage by surprise and bites him inflicting a terrible wound. (It's only the -1 to damage bonus from his staff that saves Marzbar at this stage.
In the crypt, Thrak makes short work of one of the Armoured Skeletons. The second creature attacks the mage who manages to fend off the undead warrior and push it back. Without hesitation Zanzabax put forth his power to detroyed the undead warrior with a mystical word. 
(The skeleton attacked in the 1st Monster Phase. Zanzabax won the combat but not by enough to inflict any damage but he did push it back. Then they waited in limbo until the Wizard Phase at the start of the new turn where he did the Destroy Undead spell again and killed the skelly.)
While all this excitement was happening, Nob Undersack the tracker, skirted all the trouble and made his way to the top of a crumbling ruin where he spied something shiny and interesting. Little did he realize that he had attracted the attention of a bony follower.
Likewise, Rosco the thief failed to notice a pair of wolves that came skulking through the ruins. The wolves came at the thief one at a time (due to the individual figure activation sequence) and he managed to quickly dispatch both beasts before a cry for help came from behind...
Seeing Marzbar grimly trying to fend off the attack of a half frozen corpse, the thief ran to his aid. He couldn't manage to kill the undead thing but he did manage to push it back (he won the fight but inflicted no damage).
This was enough for Jasper to move into position, take aim, and fell the foul creature with a well placed arrow that pierced a vacant eye socket.
On the other side of the crypt, Bazza recovered a treasure and found a very convenient exit. He quickly made for the rendezvous but failed to notice that his pal Big Vern had been knocked to the ground by a vicious blow from a skeleton warrior and lay there unmoving.
Meanwhile, outside the crypt, Mungo discovered that he had a rat problem.
But Mungo's situation wasn't quite as perilous as the one that Undersack now found himself. Moving as far as he could, the halfling tracker found himself cornered by a rattling, undead fiend.
Keeping the giant rat at bey, Mungo keeps the way clear for the mage and barbarian as they exit the crypt loaded with treasure. 
Seeing the plight of Undersack and filled with confidence after taking down the rogue zombie, Jasper takes aim at the skeleton threatening the halfling. Hitting the thing in the neck it's head toppled to the ground followed by the rest of its ancient bones.
Unfortunately, the archer failed to notice another skeleton round the corner and quickly move to the attack.
With the giant rat dispatched, the treasure party make their way to the rendezvous. So spake Zanzabax the mage to Mungo the thug; "Look sharp ruffian. A lupine creature approaches. Guard our backs whilst we make haste to our appointed meeting place."
Elsewhere, archer Jasper, already wounded, is worsted by the blade of the undead. 
Mungo the thug stands his ground and earns his pay as he slays a slavering wolf. The pelt will make a good cloak.
As the rest leave the area, Nob Undersack trundles down a ramp and into combat with one of the dreaded skeleton guards. Having avoided fighting throughout the day, the halfling now has no choice and must defend himself. He uses his stature to his advantage and ducks under a swinging blow and strikes back knocking the leg bones from his opponent and slaying the creature.
With that, the tracker takes his treasure and follows Rosco (also laden with treasure) back to the waiting pack animals and relative safety.

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Conclusion: 

It sort of worked but I think a well planned campaign is really needed for solo efforts. Compared to the dedicated solo game, Rangers of Shadow Deep, Frostgrave doesn't work as well in the solo game arena. The warband is really only there to fight and carry off treasure. Other than that they serve no other purpose. In RoSD the other characters are really secondary characters that have skills and individual traits that help to solve various scenario problems along the way.

Also the player v's player aspect is really what makes Frostgrave what it is - especially the spell v's spell competition that can take place. In a solo game that just isn't going to happen.

So, whilst I enjoyed the couple of little games I've had, I think I'm tempted to forget about solo Frostgrave and delve back into Rangers of Shadow Deep. Should I start a new ranger or continue where I left off earlier in the year? Should I continue with solo Frostgrave? I don't know yet.