Friday, October 27, 2017

Vengeance of the Lichemaster: Warrior Monks of La Maisontaal

What's that? You want more obscure Citadel miniatures to populate the Vengeance of the Lichemaster? Have you done your chores? Have you watered the gimp? Walked the polyp? Recited the Litany Against Fear? Well OK then. You deserve this.

Last week we looked at the Wizard Monks of La Maisontaal, the monastery dedicated to Taal that lies at the heart of the Vengeance of the Lichemaster scenario from 1986. In addition to his five magic users, Bagrian the Abbot also has a complement of twelve Warrior Monks. The scenario (by Rick Priestly) tells us that "The warrior monks of Taal are young monks not yet judged able to progress to magical tuition. However, they are by no means ordinary men. Years of mental preparation and study on the martial arts has given them considerable fighting abilities as well as unusual mental fortitude."

As with the Wizard Monks, the Warrior Monks provides a great excuse to delve into Citadel's extensive back-catalog of Clerics that flourished from 1983-1986.

First up is the C03 Cleric "Ivory Temple" sculpted by Bob Naismith in 1985. He's distinctive for his detailed facial expression and the gorgeous temple carved into his shield. This is also the only miniature specifically portrayed as a Warrior Monk in the advert for The Vengeance of the Lichemaster, which means that he can be hotly demanded on eBay.

In painting his shield (which seems to represent La Maisontaal itself), I kept thinking of the religious art at my local gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario. Specifically, I was drawn to the brilliant gold skies in works like "The Vision of St. Benedict: by Giovanni del Biondo (1330-1398):

I also wanted to try to conjure up a mystical sense of an otherworldly place. Luckily the technique is pretty simple: a nice smooth coat of gold paint without any highlights or shading as the sky, contrasted to an earthy foreground.

Above we have the "monk" from the C46 Townsfolk range sculpted by Trish Morrison in 1985. Do you love or hate Trish's work? This sculpt certainly bears her stamp: the malformed face (in this case, no chin, wide eyes and huge ears) plus disproportionate man-hands. And yet, for all its seeming ineptness, her work captures the same charming ugliness that we see in the peasant faces of Bruegel or Bosch. For instance, here's a detail from Bruegel the Elder's "Peasant Wedding" (1567):

Say what you will about Trish's sculpting style, but it's distinctive. And that counts for a lot in my book.

Here is the "Friar" from the C03 Cleric released by Citadel in 1983, sculptor unknown (although I suspect it's Bob Naismith). I love the simplicity of these early solid-base sculpts. There aren't so many buckles, scabbards, pouches, straps, skulls jewels or scrolls, leaving greater focus on the face.

This is the C03 Cleric "Warrior Monk" from 1983. He shows off the classic Citadel sense of humour: a round, friendly face leaning forward in front, belied by a club clutched in the rear. Of course, there is good historical evidence for this sort of pose:

The above illumination is from MS Bodley 265 (14th century) in the Bodleian Library (Browse the entire manuscript here and hat tip to the Minnesotastan for the image).

Above is the C03 Cleric "Black Brotherhood" sculpted by Bob Naismith in 1985. Compare this with the last couple monks and you can see the way that Citadel miniatures grew more detailed from '83 to '85. But their poses also grew more dynamic (Although it's unclear why he's raising his shield like that. Perhaps he senses that somebody is about to throw a vase at him from somewhere behind him?)

As our last miniature today, here's the C03 Cleric "Red Robe"sculpted by Bob Naismith in 1985. This Cleric adventurer has a great sense of forward momentum, complemented by a determined face.

Stay tuned for next week, when we'll look at the rest of the Warrior Monks, including their leader, standard bearer and musician.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Vengeance of the Lichemaster: Wizard Monks and the Mechanical Warrior

The next chapter in our tour through The Vengeance of the Lichemaster (1986) is a visit to the wizard monks of La Maisontaal. The Warhammer campaign written by Rick Priestly tells us that in addition to the Abbot Bagrian (featured last week), the monastery has five power magic users. 

Anyone looking to conjure up some Citadel wizards for an old-school scenario is spoiled for choice. One of the first, best and most under-used ranges in Citadel's early "C-Series" were the ranges of miniatures dedicated to various AD&D character classes: C03 clerics, C04 thieves, C07 rangers and (of course) C02 wizards. Most of the miniatures in these ranges were the work of the incomparable Bob Naismith, who has perhaps the most versatility of any of Citadel's classic sculptors. Unfortunately, as Warhammer 3rd edition (1987) shifted away from role-playing to focus exclusively on battles regulated by Warhammer Armies (1988), this deep fund of individualized characters was shunted to the side.

Well, Venegeance of the Lichemaster gave me an excuse to trawl through my old collection of wizards and pick some of my favourites for La Maisontaal.

First up is the C02 Wizard "Hansat" (aka "Mergrey Calchoner" from The Tragedy of McDeath) sculpted in 1985 by Aly Morrison. He's the only miniature specifically indicated as a wizard-monk for The Vengeance of the Lichemaster by the advert in the Spring Journal 86. I love this figure -- his bald head, unassuming dress and air of authority always reminded me of "Ogion the Silent", the wise mage from Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968).

This is the C02 Wizard "Casslin Spellweaver" sculpted by Aly Morrison (1987). With this miniature, you can see the colour scheme I applied for these wizard monks. Vengeance of the Lichemaster tells us that mages of the god Taal generally wear red, so I made this the primary colour. But I also wanted to connect these wizard-monks to the monk side of the equation, so I painted their cowls/hoods in the homespun brown that I used for the habits of the regular brothers (which I'll show off in my next post).

Here is the C02 Wizard "Skrole" released in 1987 and sculpted (I presume) by Aly Morrison (Although I can't find any direct attribution to Morrison, the face and robes are distinctively in his style). This miniature is the perfect encapsulation of the harried apprentice. Originally, I wanted to paint him as somewhat fresh-faced, but sometimes the brush has a will of its own, and he came out as something more sinister. The circles under his eyes suggest that he has been spending some late nights reading books that ought not to be read.

This is the C02 Wizard "Spell Master" released in 1985. I'm not sure who the sculptor is, but I would guess either Aly Morrison or Bob Naismith. In any case, this seemingly simple figure has some charming touches. I love the way he arches backward from his hips, giving even more power to his pointing hand.

Now this miniature is a bit of a mystery. I call him "Le Grand Sorcier" for lack of any official designation. He appeared under that name in Dave Andrew's iconic Bretonnian Army on page 62 of Warhammer Armies (1988). And his tab indicates that he's a Citadel sculpt. But I have been completely unable to trace the miniature to any catalog or listing on The Stuff of Legends. If you have any insights about this miniature's provenance or sculptor, please leave a comment!

By the way, on this miniature, you can clearly make out the crescent moon medallion that I tried to incorporate into all these wizard monks (including Bagrian) in order to tie them all together and associate them with the nature god Taal.

The final elements for the wizard monks of La Maisontaal are their magical treasures: the Mechanical Warrior that the abbot has constructed and the Black Ark of the Covenant that he stole in order to give life to his metal man. Unfortunately, the Citadel design team did not designate special miniatures for this either, which was a sadly missed opportunity to do something fun. However, if you look carefully at the sheet of paper counters supplied for Vengeance of the Lichemaster, however, you can see what the illustrator Tony Ackland had in mind:

Yes, the Mechanical Warrior is quite Dalek-like, although the gunstick (aka Dalek machine gun) seems to be missing.

In any case, I decided to go my own way for the Mechanical Warrior and used a converted version of "Jackbot B", which was one of the Bots released by Citadel in 1986 for the Paranoia role-playing game. This design seemed to be both brawny and goofy, which is more or less what the situation calls for.

And to portray the Black Ark of the Convenant, the casket of warpstone that can activate the Mechanical Warrior, I chose one of Citadel's C39 Treasure Chests (1984). I love this range because they are the only miniatures that I'm aware of that were sculpted by game designer and scribe Rick Priestly. With its hawk heads (or are they hieracosphinxes?), this particular chest reminded me of the cherubim on biblical ark. 

Rick Priestly as a scribe from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1986)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vengeance of the Lichemaster: Bagrian the Master of La Maisontaal

The Vengeance of the Lichemaster from 1986 is a battle with everything: undead cavalry,  kung-fu monks, an Ark of the Covenant, the first appearance of the Skaven in print and a Dalek. It requires lots of rare Citadel miniatures, and I've just finished painting all of them. I'm happy to share the results with you over the next few weeks.

The Vengeance of the Lichemaster is the sequel to the three-battle campaign The Terror of the Lichemaster (1986) which was released by Games Workshop in a boxed set for Warhammer Fantasy Battle 2nd edition. Both were written by Rick Priestly. However, Vengeance wasn't a stand alone product but was published in that fabulous magazine, The Citadel Journal Spring 86. Vengeance provides one final battle for the Lichemaster Heinrich Kemler. But unlike Terror, which was a straightforward contest between the evil necromancer and the innocent denizens of the Frugelhorn Valley, Vengeance is a crazy three-way melee. The forces of the undead face off against a power hungry abbot and his magical monks, and both have to contend with a rampaging warband of chaos ratmen. Like any other ménage à trois, it will take up a whole afternoon and involve a lot of mess.

The scenario begins with the premise that the Heinrich Kemler successfully overcame the forces of goodness from Terror. He emerges from the Frugelhorn Valley with his undead army swollen with the freshly killed villagers and his magic powers surging to new heights. The next obstacle in his way is La Maisontaal, a monastery dedicated to the nature god Taal. Attacking this temple is especially important to the Kemler because its abbot, Bagrian, was once his collaborator back in the days when Kemler was a world-renowned master of the magical arts. However, when Kemler was branded as a heretic, weakened by his enemies and hunted across the Old World, Bagrian turned his back on him. Now that Kemler has recouped his strength, he is eager for vengeance.

Bagrian steals the Black Ark illustrated by Tony Ackland
However, when Kemler arrives at La Maisontaal, a surprise awaits him. The monastery is already aflame. A small army of Skaven have been attacking the compound all day long and are now gathering their forces for one last push. They are there because Bagrian stole something from them. He had sneaked into their hidden city, Skavenblight, and made off with one of their most holy artifacts, the Black Ark of the Covenant. After this outrage, armies of chaos ratmen had been fanning out across the land searching for the culprit. Now, finally, a Skaven wizard named Gnawdoom has pinpointed the location of the Ark with his magic seerstone. He will reclaim the Ark or die trying!

At the centre of this drama is the enigmatic figure of the abbot Bagrian. At first glance, we expect the monkish Bagrian to be a "good guy". However, on closer examination, he turns into a more ambiguous figure... a sort of mad scientist in the mold of Victor Frankenstein, C.A. Rotwang or Dr. No. And like the latter two gentlemen, he's suffered horrible injuries from his experiments leaving him with mechanical limbs (in Bagrian's case, he has a silver hand and metal plates over half of his body). And like any mad scientist worth his salt, Bagrian is obsessed with creating new life. 

In Bagrian's case, this is "the Mechanical Warrior", a metal golem with inhuman strength. Unfortunately, until now Bagrian has been unable to bring this metal shell to life. But that's why he stole the Black Ark of Skavenblight. This is "a huge chunk of solid warp-stone, pure chaos stuff that burns fiercely with its own black light" that's kept for safekeeping in a magic chest. Bagrian has been unable to open this magic chest. And he does not know that his assailant, the Skaven wizard Gnawdoom, is carrying the only key.

A detail from "Bagrian's Doom" by John Blanche, the cover art for The Citadel Journal 86

If Gnawdoom succeeds in retrieving the chest and revealing the Ark, all hell will break loose. Black lightening will flash from the artefact, incinerating his enemies. But a bolt of this energy may also strike the Mechanical Warrior... At that point, I think we can all hear Bagrian exclaim, "It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!"

Here's my rendition of Bagrian:

His miniature was originally named "Seerstone" and was part of Citadel's C02 Wizards range sculpted in 1985 by Aly Morrison. I love his outstretched hand with its mechanical hand, and the imperious expression on his face. This is Aly Morrison at his best! You can also check out some other gorgeous renditions of Bagrian by Nico and Dral.

Stay tuned and in a few days we'll meet Bagrian's wizard companions and his Mechanical Warrior, plus we'll examine one of the few miniatures ever sculpted by Rick Priestly.

 And you can see all of the miniatures from Terror of the Lichemaster here!