Friday, August 26, 2016

The Mountains are Alive with the Sound of Madness

I have a fever. And the only cure is... more Gothic Horror miniatures.

This is the latest in my ongoing series of posts using Citadel's CC1 Gothic Horror range from the 1980's as the basis for characters for the boardgame Eldritch Horror. Last week I did miniatures for the half the characters from the Mountains of Madness expansion, and this week I'm finishing the job.

First up is George Barnaby, the lawyer. His miniature is the CC1 "Professor" (1986). Everyone knows that when Cthulhu comes calling, the first thing you need to do is get lawyered up. Nothing frustrates a coven of insane demon-worshipers like a sternly worded cease-and-desist letter. Good luck, George!

Second is Finn Edwards, the Bootlegger. His miniature is the CC1 "Explorer" (1986). This miniature looks like an Indiana Jones knock off to me. And it's not Citadel's only one, either... check out Trish Morrison's sculpture of "The Archaeologist" (1988) for Talisman Timescape.

Ursula Downs the Explorer is rendered with the CC1 "Heroine" (1986). As I discussed a couple weeks ago, this miniature was inspired by the cover-art for The Fungi from Yuggoth. This is my kind of Cthulhu investigator: she's carrying a shotgun.

Finally, here's Tommy Muldoon, the Rookie Cop. His miniature is the CC1 "Flat Shoe" (1986). For clarity's sake, I have to point out that the slang term for a patrolman is "flatfoot" not "flat shoe" (which is what ballet dancers wear). In any case, Eldritch Horror is a little heavy on Irish-American cops and robbers. We already have Michael McGlen (the gangster), Skids O'Toole (the ex-con) and Finn Edwards (the bootlegger). Officer Muldoon makes it four, allowing them to perform as a close harmony quartet. And yet there's only one knife-wielding chef of Greek extraction. Seems unfair, doesn't it?

And remember to Vote for Cthulhu in 2016: No Lives Matter.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Gothic Horror Miniatures for The Mountains of Madness

Welcome to another round of my ongoing project to use Citadel's Gothic Horror range from the 1980's to supply the miniatures for use in Eldtritch Horror, the excellent Cthulhu game published by Fantasy Flight Games. I've already posted minis for the Core Game and for the Strange Remnants expansion. An now this week, I've got four of the investigators from the Mountains of Madness expansion...

Daisy Walker,   Wilson Richards,   Agnes Baker   and   Patricia Hathaway

First we have the Librarian, Daisy Walker. Her miniature is "The Adventuress" (1986) from the CC1 Gothic Horror Range. This is another sculpture with several variants, some with guns, some with purses, and some with guns and purses. Well, as anyone who has played Call of Cthulhu knows, your skill in Library Research is the most important ability that your character can have... if you don't know the Dewey Decimal System, you're never going to be able to find Von Juntz's Unaussprechlichen Kulten at the back of the stacks.

Next we have Wilson Richards, the Handyman. His miniature is the CC1 "Game Keeper" (1987). Why is Wilson wearing orange socks? No one knows and Wilson isn't talking.

Agnes Baker is a waitress in a diner. But in Eldtritch Horror, she is also the most magically talented character, with an uncanny ability to augment any spell she casts. Or as it says on her character card "I remember another life, one of sorcery and conquest". Hmm. Sounds like Conan the Barbarian. [Note to self: tip well when eating a diners].

Her miniature is the CC1 "Society Girl" (1988).

And finally, here's Patricia Hathaway, the Violinist. Her miniature is the CC1 1986 "Old Woman". 
A violinist? Really? Well, they say that music calms the savage beast. Good luck with your fiddle when the Shoggoth comes your way!

Thanks for looking!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Citadel's Call of Cthulhu Miniatures

Allow me to introduce you to Ching Lung Soo, a stage conjurer and founder of the Inner Brotherhood of Magicians, a leading organization of magical performers in 1920's London. Unfortunately, Ching Lung Soo is also the leader of a cult of Lan-Shi, an ancient Chinese Star Vampire. He has some interesting plans to bring Lan-Shi to the audiences of Great Britain...

The character of Ching Lung Soo comes to us courtesy of The Vanishing Conjurer by Mike Lewis and Simon Price, a Call of Cthulhu adventure published by Games Workshop in 1986. And the miniature which I've painted is from Citadel's CC1 Gothic Horror range -- a set of miniatures produced under license from 1985-1987 for use with Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. Although the miniature is clearly patterned off of Lee Gibbons' cover illustration, in the miniature catalogs published by Citadel, he is denominated as "Fu Manchu".

Fu Manchu painted miniature (Citadel, 1986)

The Vanishing Conjurer is a fantastic adventure. Because it requires the characters to infiltrate the theatres of London and figure out the mechanics of several stage illusions, it's filled with historical lore about the magic business. Many diagrams are taken directly from Tricks and Illusions, a magic manual written by Will Goldston and published in 1909. 

The Vanishing Conjurer also contains my favourite illustration of a Star Vampire, a floating mass of tentacles which is hard to illustrate since it is normally invisible (it only becomes visible when the transparent tentacles are engorged by the blood of its victims). The illustrator Ian Cooke shows us the Star Vampire as it appears in a Chinese manuscript detailing the sacrifices of the Cult of Lan Shi:

Illustration of Star Vampire (Chinese Manuscript)

I love the interplay between illustrations and miniature sculpting. The Gothic Horror range is filled with such overlap -- such as Rabbi Joshua Cohen, who I discussed in my post about Citadel's portrayal of Jewish characters. Another example is Chris Marrinan's cover for The Fungi from Yuggoth (1984). The Gothic Horror miniatures "The Heroine" and "The Explorer" replicate these figures exactly, right down to the eye-glasses and the surprised expressions.

In my own way, I'm trying to continue that tradition of weaving illustrations together with Cthulhu miniatures. I'm doing this as part of my project to match old Gothic Horror miniatures with modern characters from Fantasy Flight Games' Eldritch Horror game. Who said you can't pour new wine in old wineskins? Whoever he was, I bet he didn't game.

The latest installments of this project are the characters from the expansion Strange Remnants:

The first character from Strange Remnants is Tony Morgan, the Bounty Hunter. The miniature is "Bogart" from the LE3 Gumshoes set that was sculpted by Bob Naismith (The "LE" stands for "Limited Edition").

Painted Miniature for Tony Morgan, Strange Remnants

Second is Marie Lambeau, a creole chanteuse. Her miniature is "The Lady" (1986) from the CC1 Gothic Horror range. There are a couple variations of this miniature, some with and some without that hat. 

Painted Miniature for Marie Lambeau, Strange Remnants

The third character is the infelicitously named Skids O'Toole, an ex-convict. That's a name that would embarrass the authors of a Bazooka Joe comic. Oh well. The miniature is the CC1 Gothic Horror "Detective". If he looks a lot like Bogart, that's because this is another example of the many variant miniatures that fill this range.

Painted Miniature for Skids O'Toole, Strange Remnants

Finally, there's Zoe Samaras, a Cthulhu-investigating chef (?!). Well, not just any chef -- a crazed, knife-wielding chef of Greek extraction. Sadly, the Gothic Horror range lacks any portrayals of crazed, knife-wielding chefs of Greek extraction. Shocking, I know. Well, I supplied the gap by modifying an old Citadel female wizard and then splattering her liberally with blood.

Painted Miniature for Zoe Samaras, Strange Remnants

Remember, Vote Cthulhu for President!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cthulhu Coat of Arms

A Byhakee Rampant and a Mi-go Rampant supporting an open Necronomicon with a mantling of crossed sawed off shotguns, and a stick of dynamite above a scroll with the motto: "Don't fuck with us, or we'll kill you."

Yes my children, this is the Coat of Arms of that group of most famous of Cthulhu investigators, The Friends Against Monsters, England (aka F.A.M.E.).

This coat of arms is one of the best presents anyone has ever given me. My friend Nathan designed it to commemorate an epic Call of Cthulhu campaign we played together back in our university days. A framed print of this Coat of Arms now hangs in my living room (Thankfully Mrs. Oldhammer-in-Toronto shares my loose approach to interior design).

The Call of Cthulhu campaign in question was stupendous. One of the reasons it was so successful was that the players were not afraid to mix humour with the horror. As the Game Master, I was at first scandalized by the outrageous accents and the silly names (Louis Labante; Olaf Henke; Farmer Pounder). But I soon realized that goofy jokes made the inevitable terror more terrible. The laughter would stop, and all of a sudden, I could smell the fear.

Starting in London in the 1890's, we worked our way through many of the adventures in Cthulhu by Gaslight and Dark Designs
The characters evolved from hapless, Victorian socialites to paranoid, trigger-happy sociopaths... and became The Friends Against Monsters, England. And during almost every session, we'd joke about how are team needed a proper coat of arms. Certainly, we knew what the motto would be...

Call of Cthulhu circa 1995

As the original members of F.A.M.E. aged, died and went insane, a new generation of characters took the campaign to New England during the 1920's, becoming F.A.M.U.S. (Friends Against Monsters, United States). There we played through the Masks of Nyarlothotep and the Fungi from Yuggoth (which is, in my view, the greatest Cthulhu adventure ever written). Finally, the surviving characters were so deranged by madness and Cthulhoid lore that they were virtually villains themselves. As Nietzsche said, "Beware when fighting Shoggoths that you yourself do not become a Shoggoth." 

Well, in any case, that campaign was a long time ago... more than 20 years gone now. We're all Shoggoths now.