Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Party of Halflings (not the usual halfling party)

Here's my next set of miniatures from Acheson Creation's last Kickstarter campaign.

In all my years of gaming, I've never played a halfling character, though I am very likely to now run a halfling only warband with these guys - either in Frostgrave or another skirmish game.

As with the last set of Halfling adventurers, these should appeal to those looking for an old school (OSR) art style. The faces and costuming are very expressive and unique. As with the last set, I found some of the details requiring straight edging (scabbards in particular) to be a bit indistinct or off.

Nonetheless, I think they are fine figures, and if Acheson Creations includes more of them in a future Kickstarter, I will probably pledge at the necessary level.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Darkhold Goblins

Some time off for the holidays as allowed me to reduce the lead mountain a bit. I picked these Dark Hold Goblins from Rebel Minis at Nashcon earlier this summer. Finally finished them this week, and will hopefully play them in a 5th Ed game with my kids.

These are sculpted by Bobby Jackson and are definitely worth having if goblins are your thing. They are the right mix of comical and menacing, so they could be used in a variety of settings or flavors. The casting and production quality is top notch, very clean and no flash.

If your inclined to make a purchase, Rebel is running a sale until the New Year. I might pick up the goblin minions and maybe the duckmen. I have always received quick service from Mike at Rebel, so if the Darkhold/Runequest design interests you, they have some great stuff.

Link to Rebel Minis.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Acheson Creations Female Adventurers

Acheson Creations produces a diverse line of resin terrain and earlier this year they ran a Kickstarter for a line of plastic dungeon tiles. It delivered within a month of its promised date - which makes it early by most crowdfunding standards.

They avoided some of the outrageous amounts of free stretch goals that get a lot of projects in trouble, but one appealing freebie was packs of male, female and halfling adventurers in metal.

Here are the eight female adventurers, recently finished, but not necessarily grouped as sold. I've arranged them more for party balance.


The sculpting quality does not match up to most of the top names in the field. Some of the hands a little lumpy, and one particular problem I noticed was a lack of separation and definition between sword scabbards and the surrounding leg or cloak.

However, they do have a lot of appeal for several reasons. First, is scale. These are true 28mm (I know 28mm is a size not scale) and match up closer with old school fantasy figures and historicals. Speaking of old school, their overall aesthetic matches the artwork from the early editions of D&D.

Here's a shot with the Acheson tiles in the background. I'd say it's Frostgrave ready.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Dragoth Undead King

I had this miniature finished a few weeks ago - for Halloween, in fact. My son, who is a big Nightmare Before Christmas fan, nicknamed him Jack and it stuck. He's been the big baddy in a couple of Open Combat games.

The mummies were painted mostly by son, who is six. As I have stated before, the real appeal of the Bones kickstarter's is cheap miniatures for my son and daughter to paint at a low entry price. And for a mummy, it was a good basic lesson. Paint it skeleton white, sepia wash and drybrush the highlights.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fafhrd and Grey Mouser

My first introduction to Fafhrd and Grey Mouser was not through the original novels by Fritz Leiber but from a comic book adaptation by Howard Chaykin and Mike (Hellboy) Mignola. Howard Chaykin, in addition to being a great creator of original characters (American Flagg) also knows his way around other writer's works. And in the late 1980s at the prime of my comic collecting days, Mignola was one of my favorites. He is a stylist without making his style obtrusive on the story. I enjoyed the collection quite a bit, but not to the level of Marvel's Conan comics, especially Savage Sword. Regrettably, I did not pick up the novels until years later and was blown away by the craftsmanship of Leiber.

Here are two obvious Reaper "not Fafhrd and Grey Mouser" figures, Fafnir of Kjord and Arran Rabin. Fafnir is in metal, the other in Bones plastic. Side by side, one can see that metal holds better detail, especially in the face, than bones plastic, not withstanding improvements in Bones II over Bones I. He's still worth picking up if you need a Mouser stand in for an RPG or skirmish game. 

Leiber continually emphasized Grey Mouser's monochromatic apparel. On the page, it's fine, but on a figure it is hard to avoid a dull, boring look. However, put the Mouser against a grey stone background and I instantly see why the smaller man favored such an outfit. It's sword & sorcery urban camouflage. 

Before my comic collecting days, but a little web research led me to this forgotten (better forgotten?) work from Wonder Woman's disco era costume days. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Female Adventurers

Here is a quartet of female adventurers from Reaper Bones plastic. Below, a female paladin and wizard, both ready for some Frostgrave action.

The caster is from Bones I, and the problem with indistinct facial details are particularly noticeable on that figure. The severity may vary from figure to figure, but it has improved on the most recent Bones release.

Below, the two female adventurers from the Dragons Don't Share set. Fine details on the face and clothing are noticeably better here. 

The two face off against a Warg, also from Reaper Bones. The terrain tiles are by Acheson Creations. Cast in a hard plastic, they paint up very nicely and will work in a variety of situations. Check for updates later.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

More Burrows and Badgers from Oathsworn

I completed six more of Oathsworn's Burrows and Badgers miniatures last week. These figures were my favorite acquisition of 2015 to this point.

Anthropomorphic has suffered a bit because of the whole "furry" thing, but nonetheless, I am a fan Oathsworn's product. Their aesthetic is favors the animal rather than human form, matching the look of Disney's Robin Hood or the Redwall series.

The sculpts and castings are very clean; like great animation, Oathsworn's designs are built from bold lines and dynamic composition, rather than over-elaborate details and ridiculous poses.

Shrew Warrior, Mole Friar, Ferret Rogue 

Mole Warrioress, Hedgehog Warrioress, Black Rat Warrior

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oriental Adventures into 5E Part Two: Hengeyokai

Continuing my conversation of the 1985 Oriental Adventures into D&D 5th Edition, here are the Hengeyokai. I am currently preparing to GM a campaign set in an original Asian-inspired setting.

Hengeyokai from Stonehaven Miniatures
L to R: Male Fox Ranger/Rogue, Bluebird Rogue, Sparrow Bard & Female Fox Assassin 


Hengeyokai are intelligent, shape-shifting animals. The ability to change is natural to hengeyokai. The are not lycanthropes and do not have the weakness and resistances of lycanthropes. In a sense, Hengeyokai are animals who become human, rather than humans who become animals.
Hengeyokai have three forms that they can assume. The first is a normal animal of their type, the second is a bipedal animal and the third is a human form. In human form, the hengeyokai retains some characteristic of their animal form. A hengeyokai crane for example, might be exceptionally long-legged. A hengeyokai rat might have a long nose.  Their bipedal form is their most natural
Hengeyokai typically do not have their own kingdoms and settlements, and live in a variety of places depending on their type. Rats might live in the lower reaches and poorer parts of cities, while monkeys might be found as hermits in a forest. Humans are generally suspicious of hengeyokai, even those that they know to be traditionally good.

Your Hengeyokai character has a variety of characteristics in common with all other Hengeyokai, and other traits based on your animal type.
Ability Score Increase: Your ability scores increase depending on the animal form.
Age. Hengeyokai mature at the same rate as humans and have roughly the same lifespans with some variations among animal types.
Size. In human form, hengeyokai are Medium.  
Alignment. The majority of Hengeyokai are chaotic or neutral. Certain animal types have a tendency to good or evil, and this might form an important part of your background.
Speed. Your base walking speed in human form is 30 feet.
Type. You are of the Monstrosity type.
Darkvision. In animal and bipedal form, you have superior vision in the dark. You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if you were in bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You cannot identify color in the darkness, only shades of grey. In human form, you lack darkvision.
Attracts Suspicion. In bipedal form, all Charisma checks with humans are made at a disadvantage.
Languages. You can speak, read and write Hengeyokai, Common and Spirit Folk. In animal form, you can understand any language you already know, though you can only speak in hengeyokai. In bipedal form, you can speak any language you know, including human and animal languages. In human form, you cannot speak to animals but can understand their communication.
Shifting. As an action, you may shift into a different form.  This ability is limited, however. The number of times a hengeyokai can change forms in one day equals his class level. A first level character who is a hengeyokai can change from human to animal form on one day, and must remain in that form until the next day. He could then change into the human or bipedal form. Changing requires one complete round during which a hengeyokai must maintain concentration. Armor, clothing and equipment do not change with the hengeyokai, although most are retained and usable in the human and bipedal forms.
Animal Form. When in animal form, a hengeyokai is virtually indistinguishable from a normal animal. Since the form is natural and not an illusion, spells that reveal illusions will not detect a hengeyokai. In animal form, hengeyokai cannot wear armor or use weapons. Hengeyokai spell casters cannot cast any spells while in animal form.
The hengeyokai has fewer hit points while in animal form than in either of his other forms. In animal form, the hengeyokai only has half their current hit points (rounded up). Hit points lost in one form are carried over to another form. For example,  a hengeyokai with 25 hit points in human form will have 13 in animal form. If the character is wounded and loses 5 hit points, he will have 20 upon returning to human or bipedal form.
When a hengeyokai reaches 0 hit points in any form, they must make death saving throws as per the PH. Shifting to another form will not regain hit points in such a state.
Bipedal Form. In this form, the hengeyokai appears as a humanoid animal. He stands on hind legs at roughly the same height as his human form. The front paws (or wings, fins, etc.) change into hands capable of gripping and using equipment. The rest of the body retains the general shape and appearance of the animal, including fur, feathers, tail and other characteristic features.

Ability Scores
Swim 30
+2 WI, +1 CON
Move 40, Climb 30
+2 DEX, +1 CHR
Move 20, Swim 20
+2 STR, +1 CON
Move 10, Fly 40
+2 WIS, +1 CHR
Move 40
+2 CON, +1 STR
Move 20, Fly 40, Swim 20
+2 CHR, +1 CON
bite, +1 to hit  (1d4-1) piercing
Move 40
+2 INT, +1 CHR
Move 40
+2 WIS, +1 DEX
bite, +1 to hit (1d4-1)  piercing
Move 30, Climb 30
+2 DEX, +1 INT
Raccoon Dog
bite, +2 to hit (1d4-1)  piercing
Move 20, Climb 20
+2 STR, +1 DEX
bite, +0 to hit, 1 piercing
Move 20
+2 CON, +1 INT
+3 to hit, 1 piercing
Move 10, Fly 40
+2 CHR, +1 DEX

Damage. Listings are given for animals with natural weapons (teeth or claws). Natural weapons can only be used when the hengeyokai is in animal form, now when the character is in human or bipedal form.
Armor Class (AC) only applies to the animal form, not to the bipedal or human form. It cannot be increased by armor or shields.
Move indicates the character’s speed in animal form and the types
Modifications indicates the changes to a character’s ability scores based on the type of creature chosen.
Hare. In animal and bipedal form, the hengeyokai has Advantage on Perception checks that involve hearing.
Monkey. In animal and bipedal form, the hengeyokai has a prehensile tail that can manipulate and lift small object. It cannot be used to directly attack.
Raccoon Dog. In animal and bipedal form, the hengeyokai has Advantage on perception checks that rely on smell.
Rat. In animal and bipedal form, the hengeyokai has advantage on perception (smell) checks.
Sparrow. In bipedal and human form, the hengeyokai is proficient in Musical Instrument (Voice). In both bipedal and human form, their tendency is to be a Small size.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fire & Ice: Reaper minis for Frostgrave

This week I worked on my Reaper I backlog, in part due to some Frostgrave inspiration.

First, the fire elemental which is cast in red translucent plastic. I held back on this mini because I had some plan of drilling out the bottom and installing an LED. No shortage of examples are out there on the web, but I pretty much decided that after two years that was a project that would never get off the backburner.

So, here it is, ready for summoning by an elemental wizard. I quickly applied some basic yellow highlights with hot ash and coal on the base. 

I really like this Frostgiant Princess, although it looks more like a shaman than a noble. Some of the design elements have an Inuit influence, or possibly Saami. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oriental Adventures into 5th Edition: Korobokuru

     Oriental Adventures came in 1985 at the tail end of the 1st edition/AD&D era. Released as a hardcover, it introduced many concepts such as skill proficiency, comeliness, and honor. Of course, the real draw was new classes such ninja, samurai and wu jen. Other classes, such as barbarian and monk were repurposed to better fit the new setting. To an 11 or 12 year old who grew up on Kung Fu Theater every Saturday afternoon, this was a prize. From the classic cover to an Asian bestiary, this is an AD&D collector's essential..
       The setting of Kaan-Tur was initially meant to be the Oriental end of a generic European medieval world, probably Greyhawk. In 1987, it was specifically stated to be in the Forgotten Realms. A later edition of Oriental Adventures (for 3E) would place the story in Rokugon, of Legend of the Five Rings Fame. A good book, but one that was at cross purposes with itself. Many of the races and classes it contained were not a part of the setting the book described, and so the book never worked to a coherent whole.
The original Oriental Adventures contained only three non-human player character races, all of which I will adapt in the coming weeks.  First, the dwarves of Kara-tur:


The Korobukuru are a race of eastern dwarves who make their home deep in the jungle, on snowy mountains or in remote forests.  They rarely venture outside of their villages, and avoid contact with humans and other intelligent races.
Dwarf monk from Reaper Miniatures
Standing about 4 feet tall, the Korobokuru are nonetheless stout and powerful. Their long, hairy arms and slightly bowed legs and sparse beards give them a comical appearance to many humans. Nonetheless, they are extremely strong and hardy
Korobokuru live in small settlements where they farm, hunt and work at simple crafts. They are often considered primitive by settled and more advanced peoples, though the korobokuru’s pugnacious and boastful nature will not tolerate insults. Korobokuru adventurers who travel outside of their villages are most often barbarians, but might also include rangers and druids.  

Names are very important in Korobokuru culture. In addition to the clan name, parents give children a name or nickname at an early age. Upon reaching adulthood, another name is taken, which is mostly kept secret. Only very close family members or companions are told this secret name.
Male Names. Akihi, Horohoro, Isonash, Koshaman, Menkakush, Mici, Nupur, Pasekur, Resak, Takhaka,
Female Names. Api, Hotene, Katekemat, Kateyui, Mina, Oki, Opere, Nupeki, Pirka, Saki, Toitoi, Umoshmatek,
Clan Names. Hakket, Jomo, Kapo, Karafuto, Niputay, Ponape, Yezo,


Your Korobokuru character has a variety of characteristics in common with all other Korobokuru.
Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution Score increases by 2 and your Strength increases by 1.
Age. Korobokuru mature at the same rate as humans, but they are considered young until they are 50 years of age. On average, they live about 350 years, although rare ascetics among them may live much longer.
Size. Korobokuru stand between 3 ½ to 4 ½ feet tall and average about 125 lbs. Your size is Small.
Alignment. The majority of Korobokuru are chaotic or neutral, especially in their relations with outsiders.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Type. You are of the humanoid type.
Darkvision. Accustomed to the dark forests and the night sky, you have superior vision in the dark. You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if you were in bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You cannot identify color in the darkness, only shades of grey.
Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison and you have resistance to poison damage.
Hardy. You have advantage on all Strength and Constitution saves against magic.
Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.  
Languages. You can speak Korobokuru, Trade and Hengeyokai.
Close to the Wild. You have proficiency in the Nature skill. If attempting to identify plants and animals of your clan's native area, you have Advantage on skill checks.

Oriental Adventures for AD & D at rpgnow.com

Conversion notes: This is basically a 5th edition hill dwarf with a few changes. They have the nature proficiency instead of a tool proficiency. A couple of gnomish traits (small size and magical resistance) replace the armor and weapon proficiencies and bonuses. The names are borrowed and adapted from Ainu names. Korobokuru are a part of Ainu folklore and the Ainu thought the dwarves were the previous inhabitants of their northern islands. 

Goblin Villagers

My painting project for the week were these goblins from Rebel Minis from their Dark Hold line. They are 20mm to the top of the head. The sculptor is Bobby Jackson, and as you can see, the poses, character and expression is excellent. The casting is also top quality. Very little clean up required, and all are single piece figures.

I will possibly make use of them in a Frostgrave warband. They would certainly be very good low level minions for an unscrupulous wizard.

Order Rebel Minis

Thursday, September 3, 2015

As the Crow Flies - Stonehaven Miniatures' Tengu

This week brings me to three more completed figures from Stonehaven's Half-Orc Kickstarter. Obviously, these are not Half-Orcs, but Stonehaven always adds extra character types to its themed Kickstarters. In some cases, they are the most interesting of the figures. 

The Tengu, bird people from Japanese mythology, can be found as a PC race in a number of RPGs. On a recent D&D poll, they were listed on a ballot as a possible race in 5E. Here's my vote for an Unearthed Arcana bringing back some of the old school Oriental Adventures. Wait, can we still say Oriental? 

From the left, a mage, samurai and harrier. If I was doing 5E characters, I would play them as a sorcerer, fighter battlemaster and rogue thief respectively. As it stands, I will probably put together a Tengu warband for Open Combat. 

Stonehaven Miniatures make great characters and their is definitely a unique aesthetic to their figures. One can see a trace of humor and playfulness in the sculpts without making an ironic joke - which is what I perceive to be behind the whole Chibi style movement. The production quality is excellent. Mold lines are minimal and easily cleaned.

These figures, especially the larger two, have a lateral flatness common to many of Stonehaven's miniatures, no doubt to ease in the casting process. It is a minor detriment to an otherwise excellent and growing line of figures.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Frostgrave is the mini hit of the summer, and I have certainly fell under its spell. Part of its appeal was that, like Open Combat, any miniatures could be used. With plenty of Reaper Bones on hand, I bought the rulebook, and passed on the official wizard and soldier minis.

That was the plan, but the book was illustrated with so many beautifully painted miniatures that I gave in and ordered the box of plastic figures from Brigade Games.

The sprues are well stocked with so many options that one could assemble all 20 with no noticeable repetition. The two handed weapons (great sword, battle axe) will be in my next batch.

Here is my planned warband - a Sigilist wizard and his apprentice, both from Reaper. The plastic miniatures are closer to the 28mm standard used by historical manufacturers. In fact, many of their arms and weapons will fit with Gripping Beast's plastic figures. I'll post some examples next week. But as you can see below, many fantasy manufacturers tend towards the taller side of 28mm (really 32mm). The two don't necessarily look out of place together, but there is a noticeable differential. 

I have also been busy assembling some Frostgrave terrain from my Hirst Art blocks. One of the nice things about building ruined terrain is that I don't have to use clamp and guides to line up the blocks straight and true. Buckled walls, gaps and other irregularities are the desired outcome in this case.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Holy Vindicator

Here's a mini from a friend of mine that got the collecting bug recently. He painted up a neat color scheme (Superman, right?) and I added some washes and highlights.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Now that the Minotaur is a semi-official PC race for D&D from the online Unearthed Arcana, I thought I should paint up my Reaper Minotaurs in case any of my players wants to try one.  I am generally not opposed to creature races and I generally like "kitchen sink" campaign settings, but...the Minotaur is way out there. 

The is the Minotaur from the first Reaper Bones. Very Greek, looks like something Kratos would fight.

From the second Reaper Bones are these two Minotaurs. On the left, is a failed experiment.  I wanted a white bull as a Minotaur, but I struggled with the armor. I probably should have gone with an iron black look, but a did a blue glaze over chainmail silver and arrived at a neat way to do metallic colors. It still doesn't look right for the bull, but on another figure it would work. On the right is a basic gladiator type, pefect for a PC barbarian or fighter.

And from the back...

Other beastmen types:

The goatmen might make a good substitute for smaller, PC sized Minotaurs. Keeping them as goatmen, you could replace the Goring Rush feature with a Climb feat - move up rocky and sheer surfaces at normal speed.  Less practical than the Minotaur, but a cool companion for a mountain dwarf. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stonehaven Half Orcs

It's raining Kickstarters around here lately. In addition to my Oathsworn Miniatures, here are my Stonehaven Miniature Half-Orcs. I went for the choice of 10, rather than the complete set.

Here are the first three finished figures.  From left, the Paladin, Barbarian and Bard.

Half Orc Barbarians are cliched, but Stonehaven captures something unique in her.  Not a savage brute as would be typical, but a wild spirit, one who is curious and joyful. I am tired of grim-dark barbarians.  The Paladin begs to be generated as a Ronin and the drummer girl is appropriately Sgt. Peppers meets Punk rock.

Stonehaven has some of the most interesting fantasy sculpts on the market.  The faces ooze personality, clothing and armor is superbly detailed and the casting quality is top notch. Minimal shaving or filing is needed to get these ready to paint.  Any negatives? A strong tendency to sculpt miniatures that are "flat" in cross section. I am sure this is mainly a desire to keep the casting and spinning process simple and avoid multi-part models. Despite this, the poses are dynamic and natural.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Burrows and Badger Oathsworn Work in Progress

Here are my first three works in progress from the Oathsworn Burrows and Badger Kickstarter.

From the right, Snowbelle Venomdart, Grimnir One-eye, and Daggit Neverseen.

The Hare may be my favorite sculpt; it seems to best capture the aesthetic Oathsworn was aiming for. 

After some highlighting and base details, these will be finished. More pics to follow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Burrows and Badgers Oathsworn Kickstarter - First Impressions

Woo hoo...

My Burrows & Badgers Kickstarter from Oathsworn Miniatures arrived yesterday. While it certainly wasn't the most expensive Kickstarter I've backed on a per figure basis, I admit to some buyer's regrets for going in for all 20, along with international shipping.

All of those regrets are gone. While it may be the euphoria of opening up new shiny, the quality of the miniatures and the professionalism of Oathsworn set a standard for all Kickstarters to come.

I've sorted the twenty miniatures from the full set by size. Oathsworn does divide them into two factions, with the more noble animals called the Goodbeasts and the evil characters Vermin.

These are the smallest five, a mix of mice and shrews. The shortest figures, in the center and far right, are about 20mm to the eyes.

Most of the taller figures stand about 28mm to the eye.  However, the toad, squirrel and lizard are hunched or bending, but there actual size is quite tall.  My favorite in this bunch is the hare. If Sandor Clegane came back as a rabitt...

The Badger, the tallest figure, stands about 46mm to the eye and 50mm overall. He's pretty massive.

These are great looking  miniatures and well cast. If you like collecting and painting quality products, go right ahead. However, are they too niche for the average fantasy gamer or RPG player?

Possibly. Unless you are gaming in a anthro-type world, I suppose they are pretty far down your list after buying player characters, goblin-type swarms and big boss bad guys.

However, who says you can't mix anthro-animals with fantasy humans?  Not C.S. Lewis. From the left, a Reaper mouseling, an Oathsworn mouse archer and a Reaper halfling.

Below, the Oathsworn wildcat warrior next to Reaper's Lionman.  While they come from different artistic sensibilities, they are certainly compatible with each other. 

Oathsworn does mention they are working on a rule set, but I like the idea of buying non-game specific miniatures. I can only hold so many rules sets in my head at once (fewer as the years pass). I'll probably stat them into Open Combat as soon as they are painted.

Monday, July 6, 2015


In traditional D&D/d20, Hobgoblins are criminally underused. Mainly because, I think, they are average for the goblinoid creatures - they're humans, basically. Not as sneaky as goblins, nor as brutish as orcs. Not as savage as bugbears, and not as pack minded as kobolds.

I particularly like this one, shown above and below. While dual wielding with a sword and an axe, his pose is particulary dynamic. Of course, the pose came at the price of separate pieces for the arms. Fortunately, they fit well and stayed secure with my mix of superglue and epoxy glue.

As with almost all of Reaper's metals, the production quality is excellent. Flash lines are minimal, and the white metal is substantial. The heft of the metal may be a psychological bonus more than anything, but to me it helps justify the prices I pay today compared to twenty years ago.

If I had to put in one complaint, it is the facial sculpture. A little too simian/Planet of the Apes. OTOH, somebody might use these for just such a product. 

On the eve of the Reaper Bones III launch, a couple of wishes for the project:

1) These guys in plastic. I'll want at least two more as extras.
2) Other hobgoblins - archers, rogues and shamans
3) Female goblinoids - orcs, ogres, hobgoblins and goblins
4) Kings or tribal chieftains.  Whatever is appropriate.