Category Archives: Fantasy

Posts on fantasy gaming using the Fantasy Rules 2nd Ed. and Hordes of the Things rules.

More Small Scale Scenery Inspiration

There aren’t a lot of small scale scenery tutorials out there, either as videos or traditional blog post writeups. Viv on RubbishInRubbishOut, though, did some YouTube videos of Dystopian Wars scenery a few years ago, and it turns out that DW is in something approximating 1/1200 scale, more or less.

Table intro, part one of four.

Dystopian Wars table intro, painting & finishing the table, islands part one, and finally islands part two.

Also, Dispatches from the Front has been working on some fantasy naval scenery for Man’O’War using the Brigade Models buildings and it looks fantastic. Fantasy microscale terrain has a definite appeal, you can get grandiose epic terrain on the table that wouldn’t work at all in any larger scale!

A Fantasy Portal, Part One

Decided to crank out another piece of fantasy terrain this weekend. I’d been thinking of gateways, portals, and fantastic archways off and on for a while, after someone shared this rather cool garden gate on one of the Facebook terrain groups.

No idea where this is from originally; it’s been shared around so much reverse image search is a cluttered mess. The general idea seems to be called a “moon gate”, though, and there’s lots of other neat images around the web.

I decided on a CD-sized base, because why break good habits, and wanted the portal gate to be solid enough to block line of sight, with a raised platform that can hold several 25mm based figures or one monster on a 40mm base.

Test fitting a Reaper demon dog on a 40mm wide base. I wound up cutting the topmost stone on the left off and replacing it to improve the fit. Click for larger.

The whole thing is made up of dense pink insulation styrofoam, cut with a knife and textured with a ball of crumpled tinfoil. There wasn’t a lot of planning, just repeated test fittings with various figures like the Reaper demon hound above to make sure figures (and fingers) would fit.

One of the stones in progress, cut and shaped but not textured. Chunk of hard styrofoam, sharp knife, tinfoil ball for textures, toothpicks for strength. Not shown, hot glue gun for fast assembly. Click for larger.

Assembling the arch took a few hours, most of it working fairly casually with a beer to one side of my workbench. I used hot glue for speed, and there’s a partial toothpick holding each stone to the one below it so the whole thing is solid and should be gamer-proof. The top of the arch is about 6″ above table height and flat enough to put a 25mm base on, just for fun.

Complete portal, with demon dog. Click for larger.
Side view. The arch has a twist to it as it rises. 28mm Warlord figure (kitbashed) on 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

Except for checking clearance on the demon dog and a couple of bigger figures as the arch went up I didn’t do a lot more planning or measuring, just cut and shaped stones that looked like they’d fit.

The big keystone at the top of the arch started as a random roughly triangular foam offcut and I shaped and textured it early, then fit the last few stones at the top of the arch to make the keystone sit where I wanted it.

Other side of the structure, same figure as previous image. The whole arch has a twist to it as it rises. Click for larger.

I think for painting I’ll basecoat the archway in white instead of my usual black, then start painting the stones with a heavy drybrush of black so the deep grooves between the stones stay white, possibly with a blue or green wash over them to make it look like magical energy is flowing through this thing, holding it together and powering whatever arcane process the archway contains. The base will probably get the normal black basecoat and then the same drybrushing up for texture.

Reaper Moor Hound bounding through a portal from whatever dread fae realm such horrors belong in. Click for larger.

Painting in the next few days, anyway, as we’re doing a stat holiday game this coming Wednesday (not like there’s going to be any big Canada Day celebrations to go to, right?) and I’d like to get this one the table then. Stay well, stay safe, and stay sane.

A Standing Stone

Nice simple bit of terrain I recently cranked out. I realized that the mushroom ring I built recently was nowhere near gamer-proof; it started shedding mushrooms as soon as it left my workbench so I popped the mushrooms off to rebuild the whole thing in such a way as to let me pin the mushrooms to the base with wire. More on that later, but this left me with a flocked and decorated CD base with nothing on it and it seemed a shame to waste it.

I took a scrap of 2″ thick pink styrofoam insulation, sliced off a piece about two inches wide, and craved bits off until it looks about right for a tall thin standing stone or monolith. Then I took a ball of tinfoil and rolled it all over the piece, which gives a really nice random stone texture. I put a few cracks and lines in with a pencil then rolled the tinfoil over those marks again, then glued the monolith into the centre of the CD with a healthy blob of hot glue.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a single photo of this piece during assembly or basecoating, but it got my usual mix of black paint and white glue as a basecoat, then once that was dry (overnight) it got drybrushed up with dark grey, pale grey, tan, light blue, more lighter grey, and finally white. The pale blue is subtle but makes the piece really pop, and I’ll definitely be using that on more stonework in the future.

Finally, I highlighted all the edges with pure white. It doesn’t show up all that well in the photos I’ve gotten so far, but in person that final step really makes the edges pop and makes the piece look bigger. After that it was just a bit of extra flock around the base of the stone and to cover the spots where mushrooms had originally been glued down.

monolith front view
Monolith with 28mm Frostgrave wizard for scale on a 25mm base. Click for larger.
monolith rear view
Monolith from the other side (back? sure…) Click for larger.

The Rebuilt Mushroom Ring

As for the mushrooms, I took a scrap of 3mm plastic board, carved and sanded it so it fit onto a new CD, hot glued it down solidly, then marked out a circle and drilled a bunch of holes with a tiny drill bit. Those got overlength pieces of paperclip wire stuck into them with superglue. The wire was trimmed short after the glue had cured, and then mushrooms with holes drilled into the bottoms of their stems were superglued on.

New mushroom ring base with wire mounts superglued in place, getting a coat of dark brown paint as a basecoat before mushrooms get glued down onto the wires. Click for larger.

The lovely Bad Squiddo mushrooms got glued down (some got repainted beforehand, because I’ve just gotten some new shades of green paint, so why not?) and then the whole thing got my usual turf mix and will eventually get some flowers and other tufts to finish decorating it.

Both “new” pieces together. Reaper 28mm demon in the middle of the rebuilt mushroom ring, which still needs flower tufts to finish it off. Click for larger.

My Turf Mix

I had someone over on Lead Adventure Forum ask about my turf mix. It’s not an exact mix and has been changing gently over the years, but the base is Woodland Scenics mixed fine turf, with WS dark and medium green fine and coarse turf, some Games Workshop summer grass flock, and at least a couple random brands and colours I’m forgetting about in there.

That mix lives in a big 1 litre margarine tub that’s large enough to comfortably put an entire CD-sized terrain base in. For these pieces with fairly wild heavy turf on them I’ll leave the entire base in the turf mix for at least an hour or so before removing it and shaking excess back into the tub, to give a nice heavy scruffy layer of grass. For more manicured lawn-like grass, I’ll take the piece out of the tub right away and shake it off back into the tub, leaving a much shallower layer of turf.

Links of Interest, 14 June 2020

Wargames Designs is partly a webstore, with some good looking historical wargaming flags in a variety of scales, among other things, but they also have this listing of English Civil War coat colours by regiment, which is also a great resource for ECW-era names.

More on coat colours, and much other good stuff as well over on Keep Your Powder Dry.

Over on the micro-scale gaming side, this really fantastic project to depict Constantinople in 2mm for siege games. This is an ongoing project, so look for more recent updates on that blog when you visit!

I feel like I’ve linked to 6mm ACW before, but that website really does have some great 6mm terrain tips that aren’t just limited to those gaming the Slaveholder’s Insurrection.

My most recent YouTube channel discovery is Miscast out of Australia, with a series of painting and terrain videos that tend to be short (this is good) and well edited (also good). I rather like this How To Make a Crystal Elven Waystone for D&D & AoS, which I’ll also embed below. He’s got an accompanying miscast.co website with some interesting stuff on it.

This is actually cardboard, if you can believe it. Well worth four minutes and a few seconds of your time.

Stay safe, stay sane, and try to keep creating things, faithful readers.

A Tree for Forestgrave

For our Forestgrave games I wanted some decidedly weird scenery, stuff from the other side of reality that doesn’t quite look like it obeys physics as we understand it. I wanted a lush, not-quite-overgrown-but-almost faery realm thing going on, what in D&D is called the Faewild.

It turns out that, far as I can tell, that’s not a super common theme for wargaming terrain, which surprised me. Maybe I haven’t discovered the magic search terms in Google or YouTube to let me find the other folks doing weird natural terrain yet. If you know of any, let me know in comments, please!

Anyway, I started with a scrap CD, hot glued some washers to it for ballast (because I knew I wanted my final tree to be five or six inches tall), and then used the light cardstock from a Frostgrave figure box to start forming the trunk, with lots (and lots) of hot glue to hold everything down and together, fill gaps, and add some texture to the trunk.

Initial construction underway. Rolled up and scrunched around light card for the trunks and root structures, washers and tape on the base, and loads of hot glue everywhere. Click for larger.

The stone platform is half inch foam insulation, cut as if it had at one point been octagonal before splitting in half somehow. I spiked a toothpick into the foam and then down into the cardboard of the trunk, and it’s solid enough to hold large metal figures without worrying me, even though it’s only attached to the trunk at a single point.

The whole trunk and roots covered in toilet paper and white glue. Fantastic easy bark texture. Click for larger.

I pushed a couple of toothpicks into the trunk in a few places, securing them with more hot glue, then covered the entire tree with clean toilet paper slathered with white glue. Push it around a bit with a stiff wet paintbrush and extra white glue as needed, let it dry overnight, and it’s fantastic easy cheap bark texture for bigger trees. I first used this on my big jungle trees for Infinity a few years ago, and it’s fantastic.

Black primer everywhere, start of paint on the platform, and grit going down on the base. Click for larger.

Next step was black acrylic craft paint, mixed with a generous amount of white glue for extra strength. That took a while to dry on the tree, so I stuck sand and grit onto the base while it was still wet, as well as adding a few bits of scrap foam for stone blocks.

Foam foliage on the trees, base flock and bushes on the base, paint mostly done on the platform. Frostgrave female wizard facing off against a Reaper demon. Click for larger.

The platform got the same black primer, then various shades of grey, tan, pale blue, and white on the stone. I shaded the centre section with blue ink, then used both pale blue and white as final drybrushed highlights.

The two smaller trees in the photo above, incidentially, were made from wire and hot glue several years ago, got put away unfinished, and I just found them last week while looking for something else. They got extra basing materials and tree foliage alongside the big one, and are finally finished, at least five years after I started them. Yeah, I’m organized.

The base got foam foliage bushes, a base coat of my usual mixed grass flock, patches of several other types of flock, a few mushrooms from Bad Squiddo Games, and then a lot of tufts, both grass and flowers.

Tree complete. Mushrooms, bushes, grass, and flowers on the base in abundance. Click for larger.

The grass and flower tufts are mostly from Rain City Hobbies, who do all sorts of great stuff including a bunch of styles of grass and flower stuffs at really good prices. I’ve been using the flowers on my English Civil War/generic English terrain already, and dailling them up higher to get that fae-touched lush look was the right choice, I think.

Weird tree all finished, front view. For my next trick I need to finish that Frostgrave summoner, her apprentice, the rest of her warband, and the demons she summons… Click for larger.

There’s still room for figures on the base, despite the abundant plant life, and I’m looking forward to doing more scenery like this soon!

And again, if you have a line on good inspiration for this sort of faewild overgrown haunted woods scenery, please let me know!

Forge of Ice Serpent Idol

Painted this guy up fairly quickly over a couple of days, after getting it a few weeks ago from Forge of Ice. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do the statue up in bare stone, painted, or a mix, but it wound up being mostly painted. Basecoat in black, and then lots of drybrushing in various tans up to a bit of pure white, and then I used inks and washes to add the colour while keeping the drybrushed highlighting visible.

snake statue 1
Snake idol, front view. The base is about 1.5″ wide, and the whole thing is just under 2.75″ tall. Click for larger.

The final product looks like an ancient statue painted a very, very long time ago, which seems right for something either in a ruin somewhere or populating an unimaginably old Lost World temple complex!

snake statue back
Rear of the snake idol, nice sculpted folds in the hood and robe. Click for larger.
snake head
Closeup of the upper half of the snake statue, just for fun. Click for larger.

I also have this fun sabretooth tiger skin rug in progress, and I like the blends I’ve been getting so far on the fur, thanks partially to using glaze medium. Just a few details to finish up on this one.

sabretooth tiger skin rug
Just the right decoration for a timetraveler’s study or somewhere in a Lost World. Forge of Ice sabretooth tiger skin rug! Click for larger.

The Beast on the Moor

Rummaging through one of my boxes of random figures last week (as one does…) I came across one of the random Reaper fantasy figures I’d picked up on clearance over the years, the massive wolf-like Warg. No modern Bones resin-plastic lightweight here, this is a solid pewter beast nearly as big as a 28mm horse!

overhead warg
Reaper Warg in the middle, flanked by a 28mm Frostgrave witch on a 25mm base, and a 28mm Warlord mounted officer on 20mm by 40mm base to the right. Click for larger.

The base was assembled from three pennies and a bunch of Milliput, the warg got primed, and then it went into storage sometime in early 2014 (when the first paragraph above was written…) until just after New Years 2020, when I said to myself, as I was painting other demon dogs and werewolves, “Self, don’t you have a massive great pewter warg somewhere, bought many years ago?”, and after more rummaging in more boxes of miniatures than I’d like to admit to, the warg saw the painting bench for the first time in six years or so, and it was good.

The thing is even bigger than I remembered it being, over head high at the shoulder next to a similarly based 28mm figure and taller and bulkier than a warhorse. The base is roughly 20mm wide and 45mm long, and muzzle and tail stick out over both ends.

big mean warg
Big warg, demon dog, or some sort of hell-wolf! 28mm Frostgrave plastic witch on the left, mounted 17th C officer from Warlord on the right. Click for larger.

Looking forward to seeing this guy loping across the playing field, eating people and stealing souls, or perhaps the other way around! You never know with demonic canines…

Not a waggy tail, probably. Click for larger.

Forestgrave

Locally our COVID-19 situation is such that we’re allowed to expand our pandemic pods slightly starting a few weeks ago, so myself, my brother Corey, and our friend Sean decided to do the pod thing so we could get some gaming in. Turns out it takes a goddamn global pandemic to get me back to regular weekly games, so that’s a thing.

I own the Frostgrave rulebook in actual physical dead tree format, and we were all able to grab ebook/PDF editions while Osprey was doing their giveaway a month or so ago, and all three of us own enough random figures to put together usable Frostgrave bands, so we set off!

I’m currently using my 17th C English Civil War figures kitbashed with Frostgrave plastics to make a couple of wizard figures (last seen in bare plastic here), Corey is running Reaper mouslings, and Sean has GW Age of Sigmar ladies with big, big hammers. They’re so large we’ve decided they’re actually ogres or half-ogres.

We’re also ignoring the “frost” part of the Frostgrave setting, opting instead for overgrown forest stuff because that suits our existing terrain better. Hence “Forestgrave” instead of “Frostgrave”, then!

frostgrave/forestgrave table overview
Sean on the left, Corey centre, the cat on the right. The circular mat is an attempt to make three person games less uneven. Click for larger.

Today was our second game, and Corey came out ahead on experience with his wizard/apprentice pair getting more spells successfully cast than Sean and I managed combined. We ran the Ruined Keep scenario, with the four teleporter discs around the table. There was no teleporter action at all for the first half of the game, and then suddenly everyone was doing the teleport trot. I think all three of our wizards wound up with the extra experience points for taking a teleporter ride, actually.

start of game
Start of the game. My chaps centre foreground, Sean’s ogre ladies top left, Corey’s mousling bravos top right. Click for larger.

We’ve decided that for next week’s game we are all going to roll up new wizard bands; now that we’ve had two games we’re all realizing there’s things we’d do differently for both warband composition and spell selection, and we want the chance to explore new setups especially among the huge list of spells available in Frostgrave.

centre of the table
Two of my musketeers skirt the toadstool fairy ring to shoot at ogre ladies in the background. Click for larger.

We’ve got some new scenery on the way, too, with Corey working on more ruin pieces and hopefully getting his cranky 3d printer functional again. I want to start building some ruined towers for the Silent Tower scenario, but need to clear at least some of the current painting and building stuff out of the way first!

Quick Fantasy Scenery

We had our first game of Frostgrave last night, for which I used a few of my 17th C/ECW figures, because why not? As usual, I managed not to get a single photograph during the game.

I’ve decided to go with a “Greengrave/Forestgrave” theme instead of the default Frost- part of Frostgrave, so that we can keep using our current scenery rather than starting from scratch with winter stuff.

fantasy bits
Four “teleportation discs” and a really gnarly looking fairy ring, today’s work. Click for larger.

One of the FG scenarios calls for a quartet of 2″ teleportation discs set up around the board, so I decided to whip those up today. The discs themselves are pink styrofoam, based on scraps of plastic card. Quick and easy scenery, a few hours from start to the current state shown here. They could well serve all sorts of purposes aside from just teleportation discs, and I’m sure they will.

fantasy bits 2
Four pieces of fantasy scatter, closer up. Click for larger.

The other piece I created today started with the resin mushrooms from Bad Squiddo games I got a few weeks ago. I’ve been painting them up whenever I have leftover paint, got them finished today while waiting for the discs above to dry, and decided to put together a really, really gnarly fairy ring that, even more so than most others, you really do not want to enter. That’s a 28mm Frostgrave witch on a 25mm base behind the fairy ring; most of the mushrooms/toadstools are at least waist high on a human.

muschroom ring
Any fairy that comes out of this particular fairy ring is probably not one of the good fairies. At all. Click for larger.

This might feature as some sort of marker in a game eventually, but for now it’s just some colourful scatter terrain to fill in a blank spot on the table and possibly worry players!

We enjoyed our single game of Frostgrave so far, and I’ll try to get a couple of photos tomorrow while we also try to get fewer rules wrong on our second outing!

Loot from Forge of Ice

Forge of Ice is one of those one-person companies that makes all sorts of cool stuff, and after knowing about them for several years I finally got around to making a small order from them a few weeks ago. Most of the fascinating little one person companies are British, but Forge of Ice is in fact based in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Alex, who is the entirety of Forge of Ice, still doesn’t have an actual website but he’s got a Forge of Ice Facebook page, is very responsive by FB Messenger, and has an illustrated catalog thread over on the awesome Lead Adventure Forum as well, which is frankly easier to navigate than Facebook’s chaotic unsearchable nonsense.

Forge of Ice mostly does Lost World style stuff, small dinosaurs, oddball caveman-style accessories and stuff. I’m not doing much Lost World style pulp at the moment, but I have in the past and I’m certain I will in the future. Besides, I could always cross-pollinate my current weird 17th Century stuff with Lost World, couldn’t I? Hmmm…

Anyway, what did I get from the frozen depths of central Alaska? A pair of Snake Priestesses, a batch of five peacocks, a sabertooth tiger rug, and the centrepiece of this little collection, a resin Doom Serpent Idol.

Forge of Ice stuff
My little Forge of Ice order – peacocks, priestesses, a rug (it’ll really tie a room together), a Doom Serpent Idol, and a cool sticker! Click for larger.

The serpent priestesses are elegantly slim 28mm figures, both slender women with large snakes wrapped around their arms and shoulders. I have no immediate plans for them, but they’re awesomely pulpy and clearly need some sort of group of underpriestesses, guards, and temple lackeys to order about in their sneaky attempts to do whatever it is snake priestesses from a Lost World plot to do.

The peacocks are some of the first figures Forge of Ice released, several years ago, and I’m thinking that as well as being just general fancy set dressing, with a couple of house rules they could be mobile alarm units in a Pulp Alley scenario where players are trying to sneak up on a fancy house and don’t dare disturb the peafowl least the damn things scream the place down and alert guards or something! (if you’ve never heard a peafowl scream, they have a glorious bloodcurdling horror movie shriek. It’s awful.) The smaller female peahens and the male peacock with his tail down are both single piece castings; the peacock in full display mode is two pieces. There will need to be a bit of filing and puttying to get the body of the peacock and his tail to match up nicely, but nothing outrageous.

The saber tooth rug was just too much fun to pass up, I suspect I’ll use it as weird decoration in someone’s study or something!

Doom Serpent ido
The gloriously Egyptian-esque Doom Serpent idol, just the thing to be guarded by a couple of serpent priestesses and their flunkies! Click for larger.

The Doom Serpent idol is a fairly serious chunk of fine grey resin, about 3″ tall and just over 2″ wide at the shoulders. I’m really looking forward to painting this one up, I’m thinking a sort of blond/tan sandstone look like we see in Egyptian statues, with some coloured painted bits here and there, will look great.

Hopefully one of these days Alex gets around to getting Forge of Ice an actual website, but in the meantime go have a look at his Lead Adventure thread (you don’t need a LAF account to see it) and ping him by email, by the message service at LAF, or via Facebook Messenger to get your cool weird Lost World loot from the distant north!