Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Rude Game of Talisman is All I Want for Christmas

The lead-up to Christmas always makes me nervous, so it was a pleasant diversion when some friends came over a few days ago and indulged me by asking to bust out my painted set of 2nd edition Talisman. We decided to do the full catastrophe, including the Talisman Dungeon, Talisman Timescape and the Talisman City. What followed was a rude and raucous afternoon. 

Any lingering anxiety about the holiday season was more or less dispelled when I was assigned the Ninja as my character. Nothing says "I am going to win this magical quest game from the 1980's" like being a Ninja. Other cast members included the Halfling, the Leprechaun, the Gladiator and the Astropath (who was played by Mrs. Oldenhammer-in-Toronto.) 

Here's the starting board...

I immediately did what I do best: aggravating all of my friends by trying to kill them. In rapid succession I used the Ninja's "secret strike" capability to wound the Halfling, the Leprechaun and the Gladiator. I would have assaulted the Astropath, but she was in another plane of existence. So I had to content myself with beating up some local wildlife...

The Ninja Makes a Nuisance out of Himself by Assassinating Flora and Fauna

Well, the Astropath was having her own adventures. Traversing the strange dimensions of the Timescape, she was finding the tools that she would need to storm the Crown of Command, including the mighty Psi-Helmet. But it wasn't all cake and ale. She was detained by the Judges at the Sentinel Outpost, stalked by a Star Predator, and beaten up by a warband of Space Orks in the Negative Zone. 

Perhaps it was time to escape from the Timescape...

The Astropath wanders an Unfriendly Multiverse

My favourite moment of the game was a complex confrontation that occurred in the Talisman City. Wandering in search of healing, the Astropath found herself Conscripted by a press gang. Her only hope of escaping servitude was to find another character to take her place as a galley slave. So she tried to attack the Halfling who was nearby and (vainly) attempting to make a name for himself at the Anarchist's guild. 

Her attack looked like it was going to come off, but the Halfling escaped by dispatching his Dancing Girl (his only follower) to distract the Astropath. Apparently, not even a blind Astropath can't resist a gyrating blonde.

A Dancing Girl Breaks up an Unusual Duel between a Hobbit and an Astropath

The Gladiator was having a hard time making progress. He found no one to train. Talisman can be a cruel game.

Meanwhile, my Ninja followed the Leprechaun into the Talisman Dungeon, hoping to finish him off. God, don't we all hate Leprechauns. Well, I lost the little bugger in the twisting caverns. Only at the end of a long, dangerous journey did we meet at the Dungeon's branching exit. The Leprechaun emerged in the Temple... and I rolled a 6 and emerged smack dab on the Crown of Command. It was the Ninja's lucky day!

The Ninja Gets Lucky after Chasing the Leprechaun through the Long Dank Dark

Only the Crown of Command wasn't the Crown of Command. Using the random endings from the Talisman Adventure, I discovered instead... Pandora's Box. As the rest of the characters tried to struggle toward the Inner Region, I used the awesome power of Pandora's Box to harry them with spells, monsters and misfortunes. In just a couple turns, I finished off the Leprechaun with 3 fireballs, 2 dragons and a partridge in a pear tree.

The Finished Table, in all its glory

The other characters were weak or dying, so we called it a day. Many insults had been exchanged. Many wounds dealt and repaid. Many cries of victory, and lamentations of defeat. It was all a self-respecting Ninja could want for the holidays!

Merry Christmas everyone! And a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Terror of the Lichemaster: Archers of Frugelhofen

Terror of the Lichemaster: Part 9

When the Lichemaster attacks the village of Frugelhofen, the best hope of the village lies with its archers. We have already met the militia, and they are not impressive: toothless hicks, lame ex-soldiers and lepers. But the bowmen are a different breed: sturdy hunters, silent trappers and poachers. Assembled and led by the marksman Riolta Snow, these mountain men just may be able to hold the line.

Once again, there are no "official" miniatures for the archers of Frugelhofen. Some guidance of what miniatures to use comes from the paper counters in the Terror of the Lichemaster boxed set. There we see what the game designers had in mind...

The counters depict one of the C26 Men at Arms sculpted by the Perry Brothers in 1984. This is an underappreciated range -- overlooked these days most likely because they are chiefly preslotta miniatures and originated as historical figures. But they are a great resource for anyone trying to assemble an army for the Empire or Bretonnia with an Oldhammer feel.

Thankfully, Wargames Foundry has re-released these classic miniatures in their Ex Citadel range. Above we see the picture of the MED122 figure pack from Foundry's catalogue. 

Longbowman, Citadel C26 Men at Arms (Michael and Alan Perry, 1984)

I found one of the original C26 Longbowmen on eBay and painted him up as a test figure for my Frugelhofen archers. I really liked this bowman, but I realized that the militia would look too professional if every archer was cut from this sort of cloth. I wanted rugged survivalists, not a drilled garrison. And so, I turned back to Citadel's Blood on the Streets range and other sources of wilderness adventurers. Here are some of the miniatures I chose...

Trapper John, Citadel C07 (Michael and Alan Perry, 1985)

Above we have "John the Trapper" beautifully sculpted by Michael and Alan Perry in 1985 for Citadel's C07 Rangers range (and for Blood on the Streets). His name is a none-too-subtle reference to Trapper John, a character from M*A*S*H*. Just to hammer home this point, in Blood on the Streets, we're told that his best friend is another hunter called "Hawkeye".

Arathon the Ranger, Citadel C07 (Michael and Alan Perry, 1985)

This is "Arathon the Ranger", also known as "Longbow" from Citadel's C07 Rangers (Michael and Alan Perry, 1985). If his name seems to ring a bell, perhaps you will enjoy his description from Blood on the Streets: "Arathon is usually to be found in the Green King Inn in the shadiest corner he can find. Ever since he accidentally broke his sword, he has been pursued by a gaggle of Halflings. They claim he is the long lost King of Gonad... He just wants peace and quiet to do what rangers do, and is hiding from his pursuers."

Targeteer, Citadel C07 (Michael and Alan Perry, 1985)

Here is "The Targeteer" sculpted by the Perry Twins in 1985 for the C07 Rangers. Fans of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1986) will remember this miniature because (like several others in this range) it was used as the model for Tony Ackland's illustrations of various careers...

The miniature and the picture are an excellent likeness of Errol Flynn as Robin Hood.

Poacher, Citadel C07 (Michael and Alan Perry, 1985)

For a less dashing figure, above we have the "Poacher" from C07 (Perry Bros, 1985). His bare feet and felt hat give him a sort of Huck Finn appearance. I particularly like the rabbit popping out of his sack. Like Arathon and the Targeteer, the Poacher was reused in 1987 as part of the suite of miniatures for Death on the Reik.

Scout, Talisman Dungeon, Citadel (sculpted by Aly Morrison, 1987)

I also threw in one of my many, many Talisman miniatures. I worked on Talisman partly out of love for the game, but also because I thought the miniatures would be useful in all sorts of other games like Advanced Heroquest, Saga, Descent and - of course - Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Here we have the "Scout" from the Talisman Dungeon.

Thief, Citadel C10 Half Orcs (1985)

For something a little different, I threw in this preslotta "Thief" from Citadel's C10 Half Orcs (1984). Half Orcs are found throughout the Old World and the Frugelhorn Valley is no different -- they skulk around the edges of society, subsisting as mercenaries, poachers and bandits. But even a Half Orc knows that if Frugelhofen falls, there will be no escape...

That's it for the miniatures of Terror of the Lichemaster. Next week, we'll reflect on what it's like to play out the campaign... I hope you'll join me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Terror of the Lichemaster: Militia of Frugelhofen

Terror of the Lichemaster, Part 8

A dog in the village begins to bay. But then commences to whine. Is that a wind scratching the dry grass? Or is something shuffling out there in the darkness? Disturbed from sleep, the villagers throw open their shutters and peer at the gloom. Who can see? What is there? Nothing. No, nothing. And then, the filthy clouds part, and the moon leers over the fields north of the town. The land is strange and alive, like a corpse is alive with worms. The dead have risen! The Lichemaster has come to Frugelhofen!

Our parade through The Terror of the Lichemaster continues. Last week, we looked at the heroes of Frugelhofen. Today, I want to look at those whom they will be leading -- the rank-and-file villagers. As with Gimbrin's dwarves, there are no "official" miniatures for this militia, so the hobbyist is left to his own devices.

I decided that I wanted to make the militiamen as pathetic as possible. Rather than stout soldiers, I thought the drama of the final battle would be heightened if these villagers were old, lame and inept. Fortunately, Citadel is well supplied with old, lame and inept townsfolk. I was especially drawn to the miniatures sculpted -- chiefly by Trish Morrison -- for the Blood on the Streets scenario pack (1985). Trish Morrison gets mixed reveiws as a sculptor, but these miniatures show how even her weaknesses can be strengths. Her penchant for odd proportions and unlovely faces is perfect when you want a mob of villagers who look inbred.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to some of Frugelhofen's brave defenders...

This is "Ned the Beggar" from the Blood on the Streets range and from C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (1985, sculpted by Trish Morrison). Barefoot, bandaged and be-crutched, he's ready to take on the Old World's most diabolic necromancer.

The only thing more pathetic than a beggar is a leper. So here's "The Leper" from Blood on the Streets and C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (1985, sculpted by Trish Morrison). In the Blood on the Streets campaign book (written Andrew "Pank" Szczepankiewicz), the Leper is described as a "Breton noble who fell foul of a wizard, and was cursed by leprosy as a result... his sole valuable is a gold ring with which he will never part... this ring is the source of his affliction, and... causes leprosy to anyone who holds it."

Our cavalcade of champions continues with Oswald "Pegleg" Grunge. He is also from Blood on the Streets and C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (1985, sculpted by Trish Morrison). Nice comb-over, Oswald.

Here we have an unnamed member of Citadel's C46 Militia (1987). I transformed this miniature into a gravedigger (graverobber?) by giving him a spade and a pet rat. The club comes in handy if the body is not quite dead.

This is one of Wargames Foundry's "Ex Citadel" miniatures from their MED125 figure pack. Originally he was sculpted by Michael and Alan Perry and released by Citadel in 1984. Foundry's Ex Citadel range is a great way of getting certain old sculps without the hassel and expense of trawling through eBay. It's especially useful for filling in some gaps in the Blood on the Streets range or finding old C01 Fighters, C26 Men at Arms and C37/C38 Medieval Adventurers.

Why hello there, it's Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop, author of innumerable Fighting Fantasy books and first editor of White Dwarf Magazine. How do we know? Well, the miniature is called "Livingstone the Editor" and he comes from the White Dwarf Personality Box (1984). He's a wonderful preslotta sculpture... a dynamic posture, lots of character and fine details (I mean, look at that mustache!). And after dealing with the crew at Games Workshop, I'm sure that a horde of zombies will be a nice change for Ian.

Ian Livingstone, back in the day

Next week, we'll continue our inspection of the villager militia by turning to the archers of Frugelhofen.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Terror of the Lichemaster: Heroes of Frugelhofen

Terror of the Lichemaster, Part 7

The third and final battle of the Terror of the Lichemaster is "The Defence of Frugelhofen". The previous scenarios ("the Assault on Gimbrin's Mine" and "the Attack on the Bogels Farm") were just preambles determining the conditions under which this last struggle will be fought. Will the villagers get warning of the coming onslaught? Will there be enough refugees to bolster the ranks of untrained townsfolk? Or will the Lichemaster's legion be swollen with fresh members of the walking dead? 

The Defence of Frugelhofen conjures The Seven Samuria (1954) or The Magnificent Seven (1960): A handful of heroes must lead a rabble of villagers in a makeshift defence of their homes. The village of Frugelhofen contains five such champions: Albi Schutz, Grimwald Calaco, Gim Gundel, Antonio Epstein and Riolta Snow. If Gimbrin Finehelm and Hunk Bogel also escaped, there will be seven brave heroes in all.

What's the battle going to look like? The village can muster 40 fighting men, 20 of whom have bows. The heroes also have the benefit of several magic items from Albi's store like an Adamantine shield and sword. If the Bogels or Dwarves survived to bring warning, the defenders may dispose their forces anywhere on the table. If not, the defenders are confined to the streets of the village. Worse, the magic weapons are undistributed and are sitting inside a chest in Albi's store.

The Lichemaster has 20 skeletons and 10 zombies led by Lord Krell, plus any remnants from the strike-forces of Ranlac and Mikeal Jacsen. More importantly, he himself is a powerful necromancer who is able to regenerate magic points whenever a villager is killed. Plus the Lichemaster has the advantage of attacking from a number of angles, and if the villagers are caught unaware, the undead can steal a march on the first turn.

Let's take a closer look at the five heroes of Frugelhofen...

Albi Schutz painted miniature for Terror of the Lichemaster

First we have Albi Schutz. We're told that he is the "former inter-valley wrestling champion" and that "Being a popular hero never sat easily upon his shoulders: for one thing he could never overcome a basic urge to throw people to the ground and twist their legs together." And so he retired to Frugelhofen "in an attempt to get away from drunks, fight enthusiasts and people who wanted to give him things." In the game, Albi is a Major Hero in full armour. His miniature is The "Knight" from Citadel's C01 Fighters range sculpted by Jes Goodwin in 1986.

Grimwald Calaco painted miniature for Terror of the Lichemaster

Second is Grimwald Calaco. He's an anarchist and a fugitive from Bretonnia, where he is wanted for an "abortive assassination attempt on the mayor of Quenelles." Like every true anarchist, he carries a bomb -- a handy weapon when dealing with a horde of undead. In game, he's a Minor Hero. His miniature is from Citadel's C04 Thieves range and was sculpted in 1984. (This miniature also makes an appearance in the 1985 Blood on the Streets scenario pack, where it represents the mysterious "Grey Man" who haunts The Riding.)

Gim Gundel painted miniature for Terror of the Lichemaster

Gim Grundel the halfling is our third hero. All we know about him is that he's a runaway from the Empire, and that he appears to be wearing a chamber pot on his head. I tried to lend him a little dignity by painting his shield with the insignia of the mouse that roared. He is one of the C11 Halflings sculpted in 1984 by the Perry Brothers.

Gim Gundel by Tony Ackland (1986)

Antonio Epstein painted miniature for Terror of the Lichemaster

Fourth is Antonio Epstein. The campaign book tells us that he "is travelling through Frugelhofen on his way to an exotic party in the land of Italia to the south (where he hopes to meet and force himself on a wealthy heiress). However, he has delayed his journey due to the mesmerizing presence of Riolta Snow - a young elf adventuress." Graeme Davis left a comment on one of my posts about Jewish miniatures where he said that Antonio Epstein is probably based on Tony "Ep" Epworth, who worked at Citadel in the early days. Sounds like Ep had a bit of a reputation viz. the ladies.

In the game, Antonio is an unarmoured Champion. He is so befuddled by Riolta's beauty (and wealth) that he must stay within 4" of her at all times. Before Terror of the Lichemaster came out, his miniature was originally called "Ali" and belonged to Citadel's C01 Fighters range sculpted by Jes Goodwin in 1986. (The name Ali makes me wonder whether this sculpture was originally based on another Citadel employee, Aly Morrison. After all, the other miniatures in this range have names like "Celric Doomwarder"... Ali sort of sticks out).

Riolta Snow painted miniature for Terror of the Lichemaster

And finally there's Riolta Snow, the aloof object of Antonio's affections. She's described as "an amazingly successful and talented archeress" making a grand tour of the Old World (which is how she gets caught in Frugelhofen during the Lichemaster's attack). She also constantly antagonizes the natives, referring to their manners as gauche and calling everyone cutey. Well whatever... as a High Elven Major Hero, she is by far the best fighter in Frugelhofen. 

Her miniature is the "Archer" from the range of C08 High Elves, sculpted in 1984 by Aly Morrison.

Riolta Snow has the distinction of being the only named character to appear in two of Games Workshop's scenario packs from the 1980's. She debuted in The Magnificent Sven by Richard Halliwell (1984). There we encounter Riolta on safari in Lustria, shooting rare animals aboard Sven Haslefriesian's river boat, the Volstvagn. She joins up with Sven when he decides to go up river to defend the village of Vastervik from a warband of Slann banditos... but that's another story...

Antonio Epstein & Riolta Snow by Tony Ackland (1986)

In my next post, I'll look that the village militia defending Frugelhofen... thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Terror of the Lichemaster: the Bogel Family

Terror of the Lichemaster, Part 6

The Lichemaster Heinrich Kemler has sent his undead servant Mikeal Jacsen to destroy the isolated farmstead of the Bogel family in order to prevent them from warning the village of Frugelhofen. Can any of the Bogels escape? Who will be left behind? This is the second battle in the Terror of the Lichemaster scenario pack. 

There's Hunk Bogel, his wife Lorabeth and their three children. Rounding out the family is the halfling stable-hand, Samgaff, and Fritzy the dog. Lightly armed civilians cornered in a lonely farmhouse by a mob of zombies - It's right out of Night of the Living Dead (or the Thriller video). 

The Bogel Family by Tony Ackland (1986)

There's also a dollop of The Waltons since the eldest son is named John-Boy. However, when the undead attack, we learn that the the family is not entirely like the Waltons. As the campaign book tells us...
... the Bogels some to the sudden realization of what is happening, and, in the true pioneering spirit, the women-folk begin to load crossbows for the stern-faced men. 
"Whatever happens," Hunk whispers to his eldest son, "save the last two bolts for Corabell and your mother." 
John-Boy nods and grimly replies, "I know you never liked them, Pa."
That's just the way things are when you are trapped in a little house on the prairie and Mikeal Jacsen is closing in. In any case, let me introduce you to the family.

Hunk Bogel, Citadel C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (Trish Morrison, 1985)

First up is Hunk Bogel, the patriarch of the family. His miniature is originally one of the unnamed C46 Villagers and Townsfolk released in 1985 (and almost certainly sculpted by Trish Morrison). For a collector, he's a frustrating miniature. He's rare and he's an integral part of both the Lichemaster range and also the range for Bloodbath at Orc's Drift. As a result, he's much sought after when he hits eBay. And yet, he's actually quite an ugly sculpt -- his hunched posture makes it look like he's battling heartburn, not zombies. 

Lorabeth Bogel, Citadel C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (Trish Morrison, 1985)

Hunk's wife, Lorabeth Bogel is another unnamed miniature from Citadel's C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (1985) sculpted by Trish Morrison. Like her husband, she's a "refugee from the west", which (I think) means that she came to the Frugelhorn Valley to escape the violence of the Empire. Bad choice, Lorabeth, because your children are about to be eaten by zombies.

John-Boy Bogel, Citadel C46 Villagers and Townsfolk "Herdsman" (Trish Morrison, 1985)

John-Boy is the eldest Bogel child. He is the "Herdsman" from from Citadel's C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (1985). He's a common miniature, and will also be familiar to fans of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, where he features in Tony Ackland's illustration for the herdsman career.

Willy Bogel, Citadel C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (Trish Morrison, 1985)

Willy Bogel is the youngest child - another common miniature from Citadel's C46 Villagers and Townsfolk (1985). Doesn't it look like he'd have a delicious brain? Yeah, you better run, Willy.

Corabell Bogel, Citadel C46 Libertine (Trish Morrison, 1985)

Corabell Bogel is known for her "come-hither" looks. Any why not... her miniature is the "Libertine" from the C46 range of Villagers and Townsfolk (Trish Morrison, 1985). But I hope she knows how the sexually liberated usually fare when the zombies show up...

Fritzy, Citadel ADD80 Blink Dog (sculpted by Aly Morrison, 1985)

The Bogel's family dog is Fritzy, described in the campaign book as "aged and rather cranky" (Tell me about it, Fritzy.) Later, we're told that he is actually "completely insane" and is as likely to attack a Bogel as he is an invading zombie.

I've painted Fritzy to look like a Rottweiler, but in fact he's a Blink Dog. That is to say, his miniature originally comes from Citadel's range of licensed miniatures for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (1985). This is a great range (check out Richard Scott's mind-boggling collection at The Stuff of Legends. Seriously, check it out. I'll wait.) Fritzy is one of the four Blink Dogs sculpted by Aly Morrison for ADD80.

Samgaff from Lichemaster, Citadel C11 Halflings (sculpted by Perry Twins, 1986)

And finally we have the loyal halfling retainer, Samgaff (whose name sounds suspiciously like Sam Gamgee or his father Hamfast "The Gaffer" Gamgee). Samgaff is one of the excellent miniatures carved by Michael and Alan Perry for Citadels's C11 Halflings Range. Originally, this miniature's name was Dery Podgebelly. He's a great sculpt: dramatic, finely detailed and nicely proportioned. But he inexplicably has a cowbell tied around his neck.

It is watchful Samgaff who first sees the zombies coming, and he tries to wake the Bogels with the help of his cowbell... 

Dery Podgebelly, Citadel C11 Halflings (sculpted by Perry Twins, 1985)

If only the Bogels had more cowbell, they might have survived the zombie attack...

Join me next time when we'll meet the last bulwark against the Lichemaster, the heroes of Frugelhofen. Thanks for looking!