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.