Defile the Defiler, Part 3

“What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? Is it a monster?” – “Monster” by The Automatic Automatic

The Defiler /slash/ Brass Scorpion is complete, sculpting-wise! I’ll break up the last final steps into two or three posts.

So, I took heavy flamer bits from Chaos Rhinos and put those together with the close combat arm attachment from the Defiler. I threw on one of the demon-head cannon tips for decor. This is what came out:

Twin-linked Burninator!

Then I mounted that onto some gears from an old printer. Remember: Bitz are everywhere! If you have space for it, save anything that looks neat. You’ll hear more about that soon. Here’s the mounted flamer:

Everything is bitz.

I am serious about pinning. Deadly serious. Here’s a blurry photo of the large screw I used to mount the flamer turret, and a photo of the final product (mounted on another gear, for that extra gear touch.)

“Yo dawg, I heard you liked gears so I put a gear on your gear so you can defile while you defile.”

Now, the scorpion tail. First, I added the “skeleton” if you will. As you can imagine, there were several pins used – a few pin-sized pins and at least one nail. In this picture, I’ve attached the skeleton and (temporarily) stuck the autocannon “stinger” on to check out the spacing and positioning.

Notice that the tail is also a gear-looking thing.

This bit is from a Mad Hatter toy from American McGee’s “Alice” video game. So, if the video game came out in October of 2000, you can imagine I’ve had this for a long time. It broke off the toy at some point. I liked the look of it, so I kept it when I tossed the rest of the toy. This was about 8 years before I ever considered modelling minis. Really, in a philosophical way, most of my life has been about collecting bitz. I just didn’t know it.

Anyway… it keeps with the theme of gears and wires, so it’s a great bit! The Forgeworld Brass Scorpion has a tail that looks like a bundle of wires. I really like the look of it, so that’s what I wanted to do with this model as well:

Wires!

This was easy – grab a big wire (from an old stereo – everything is bitz!), superglue the Hell out of everything, then place the wire. Repeat. I used different size wires and twisted them over each other in places to create a nice bundled look. Visually, just a few wires looks like a whole lot of wires – I used about 12 lengths of wire total. It looks like a lot more, and the twisting of the wires misleads the eyes and makes it look a lot more complicated than it is.

You’ll notice in this picture I’ve used plasticard to start a box at the base of the tail. Some bulk was necessary there – otherwise, the wires would just kind of end. I figured I’d make it look like they all went into a sort of switchbox.

Next, I mounted a gear doodad (from the printer, again) on the back of the autocannons and made the “stinger,” if you will:

Blurry again, but you get the idea.

You can kinda see here that I finished the “switchbox” at the base of the tail. The tip, where the autocannons attach, still looks wrong in this picture. The two blue wires are still hanging loose, but I soon decided to connect them to the switchbox as well.

So, the biggest part of things is done. In the next post, I add the finishing touches!

Defile the Defiler, Part 2

Here’s a short progress update on my Brass Scorpion style Defiler conversion! I apologize for the blurry pictures – I wasn’t paying attention to quality when I was taking them.

So, my next step was to tear  it all apart. This may have been a mistake.

EXTREME Battle Damage

The legs on a Defiler don’t pose – they’re molded at that angle. (The front claws can be set at different angles.) Tearing them off the body left a lot of damage, and in the end, I stuck them back on in almost exactly the same way. I should have left the legs on. Usually I’m good at knowing what to keep and what to trash, but not this time!

Next, I cut the battle cannon behind the gun and fixed it to the front of the body:

I pinned the battle cannon to the body. Let me emphasize this – pinning is great. I’ll do an article on pinning sometime. Pinning not only gives you a nice gluing target, but it also helps prevent any shearing forces from breaking the bond. Force applied parallel to the seam, a shearing force, is the one that will pull your models apart most easily. Pinning is a pound of prevention, and way more fun than trying to glue finished, painted models back together.

So, then I put the model back together. This is when I realized taking the legs off was pointless.

Defiler Dumpty is all back together again.

The front claws did have to be reposed to make them parallel to the ground to make the whole thing more scorpion-esque. The front right claw was posed to touch the ground so it keeps the thing standing. Admittedly, the claws are not in an action pose, but I’m hoping to make the model more interesting in details than pose.

Rawr. Grr. Arrarr.

The two blue wires are covering up a hole I made in the front when I pulled him apart. The wires serve as a great detail item, especially in my vision for the finished product. I’m hoping for lots of gears and wires to make the thing look very malignantly mechanical. I’ll cover up the remaining flaws with green stuff to replicate daemonflesh.

More to come soon!

Defile the Defiler, Part 1

So… I bought a Chaos Defiler from ebay about two weeks ago. I wanted to make a scorpion-style Defiler (that could possibly double as a Brass Scorpion), but I didn’t want to do it from a fresh kit. If I’m going to kit-bash and cut up a model, I might as well do it to a cheap one from the internet.

I maybe got a little more than I bargained for.

The first step was to immerse the Defiler in the wonder of Simple Green. Simple Green is a cleaner that is usually sprayed onto car parts, bike parts, etc. It can degrease and strip off stains. And lots of folks know it’ll yank paint right off models without harming the plastic… well, acrylic paints.

Now, the Defiler I got from ebay is about the ugliest, most poorly-assembled model one could find. Not a big deal, I thought – it’ll be more of a challenge, and modelling challenges are the kind I most enjoy.

First, I left the Defiler in a Simple Green solution for two weeks:

Defiler

I had to weigh down the lid because the Defiler is a floater. So, after two weeks, the results weren’t quite what I hoped:

Yikes. Whatever paint was used on this thing, it’s not responding to Simple Green. Well, I won’t let that stop me. Updates to come!

Note: In no way has this incident shaken my faith in Simple Green. It works! Just… not on whatever was used to paint this monstrosity.

Jump Pack Chaplain

I finally have the time to update!

Here are some pictures of a jump pack chaplain I’ve customized for my Space Marine army. The winged jump pack is from a Blood Angels figure, the helmet is a fantasy Chaos helmet, the mace (I mean Crozius Arcanum) is from the Dark Angels veteran box, the chest and legs are from the Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard. Pretty awesome stuff slapped together to make a pretty awesome chaplain!

Jump Pack Chaplain 1
Jump Pack Chaplain 2

More to come – I’ve got a Defiler conversion and more daemon prince pics on the way.

As Your Lawyer, I Advise You to Get a Wiki

I just wanted to make a quick recommendation to all Dungeon Masters out there, especially those who run games in home-brewed worlds. Get Yourself a wiki!

Personally, I recommend Mediawiki, the wiki engine used for Wikipedia. It’s robust and has a huge community for support and plug-ins, as well as an extensive set of help pages.

For the basic user, simply being able to write up descriptions of nations, NPCs and new monsters in a place where your players can access it is priceless. You can store documents related to your campaign there as well, from letters the players receive to treaties or puzzles they might have to peruse.

For the advanced user, a place for players to add their own notes and character descriptions is really helpful for enhancing their memories of things they’ve done and places they’ve been. Even I haven’t implemented anything like that yet, but I think my game would be much much better if I had players write short “journal” entries at the end of every game, which they could then read at the beginning of the next game. It is such a good idea, I might have to sit down and work on it in the next few weeks.

If you’re like me, you have a pet setting where you intend to run D&D games for the forseeable future. Using Namespaces to separate pages relating to a specific campaign makes organizing campaign-sized NPCs versus adventure-sized NPCs a snap! And if you need to hide some details from players but ensure you can see them, there are plug-ins that allow a degree of security – basically invisibility – for certain namespaces.

Even if you don’t need to store a whole campaign worth of data somewhere, a wiki can help you out. If you don’t need a whole wiki, Google Docs can work just as well.

Here’re just a few notes on using MediaWiki for this purpose:

  • I highly recommend you restrict editing to users and don’t allow anyone to register on your wiki. Spamming wikis is a popular sport. Putting the following in your LocalSettings.php file should work:
    $wgGroupPermissions[‘*’][‘createaccount’] = false;
    $wgGroupPermissions[‘*’][‘edit’] = false;
  • Register your users manually, since they’re likely to be just you and your players.
  • You can easily hide the whole wiki from the public by making it viewable only to logged-in users and giving logins to your players, if you’re into that kind of thing.

If a wiki isn’t for you, there are plenty of other web solutions that can be a huge boon to DMs. Log all the events that occur during a game in a WordPress blog and post them for your players to remind themselves. Use Google Docs to make a spreadsheet to track what magical items the players have to ensure you’re filling their slots and distributing things fairly. The internet is one big DM tool, especially if your players bring their laptops.

As an example, here is my poorly maintained campaign setting wiki. It’s likely full of contradictions and outdated information, so don’t bother trying to proofread it. It is, on the other hand, a great example of what you can do with a wiki while expending very little effort to keep things straight.

If you’re doing online roleplay in a MMO or something similar, a wiki can be handy for the same sort of things, like write-ups of characters and events.

Daemon Prince, Part 1

Molik Karn
Molik Karn, sans molestation

This blog is not just about my commentary on being a Dungeon Master or Roleplaying or being a huge board game geek. A part of my gaming experience for the last two years has been modeling. I actually have a whole lot of fun modeling, and even if you aren’t a modeler, I think reading about it and seeing pictures is still pretty fun.

My major modeling project at the moment is my daemon prince. If you’re not familiar with daemon princes, they’re warp entities who often lead the Chaos Space Marines into battle. Duh. Now, I am some number of weeks behind on this project, but this is what I’ve done so far, and hopefully I’ll get back to work on it soon.

So, this is what we call a “conversion.” I started with a miniature called Molik Karn, a big cyclops from another game, Hordes. To the right, you can see what Molik Karn is supposed to look like, finished.

Molik was a fun choice to start a daemon prince. Firstly, he’s a pretty tall dude. He’s a little taller than a Chaos Terminator, and he fits on a 30mm base pretty nicely. He’s all spikey, which is a good look for Chaos. His swords are wicked and large. He’s got big mitts, which will easily resemble power armor. His boots are cloven in the front. There are two main problems with him being a daemon prince – the face is all wrong and his ankles are slim (which does not resemble power armor.)

First, I took his face off (like in that movie, Face-off):

Face-Off

I also filed the design off his belly armor as I intended to add my own. In general, I’m going for a look more like an armored warrior and less like a demon-faced monster. First, I added a faceplate:

New Face...

The faceplate is made of fairly thin plasticard. It cut it into small pieces, glued each piece in place then trimmed it with a hobby knife. I filed at his new face to soften the edges of the plasticard. You can see the work I did on the belly armor. It’s basically some green stuff with patterns etched into it and a skull bit glued in the center. The end result is a pattern that looks like an eye with a skull iris.

Now, the head was still not very pretty. By putting a hood over the head, I could cover up the rough top and made the whole look even more mysterious and spooky. Hooray!

This part was fairly annoying. Green Stuff is a great compound, but it can be very difficult to work with. Anyone who’s used it knows it’s sticky as Hell, but always adheres to the thing you don’t want it to. Maybe some time I’ll do a whole post about Green Stuff… once I learn its secrets.

Well, regardless of skill, I did manage to put together a pretty swank hood for him:

And a Hood...
Not Too Bad...

The next step is to make his skinny ankles into thick boots (while keeping the cloven toes.) I’ll also be making extremely intricate designs for the front of his boots… hopefully.

Join us next time for more happy fun times!

The Personal Lives of Adventurers

The personal lives of Adventurers are an interesting case of sociology. In my experience, the vast majority of adventurers in fantasy worlds are unmarried, childless and homeless. They are philosophically aligned with “ends justify means” and use violence as a means to an end. They are constantly armed, often paranoid and generally incredibly rich compared to the peasantry, although their wealth is invested heavily in arms. They are generally vigilantes who make their own rules, although some are religious or political zealots who follow someone else’s rules.

Now, I don’t particularly think that’s bad or wrong. I think it’s usually a necessity of their situation. Fantasy worlds are usually unforgiving wastelands of a sort. It’s hard to follow a path of peace when you’re the target of random violence from the local savage beasts or evil cults. Adventurers are usually called to a life of fighting for wealth, power or – hopefully – the defense of the innocent people of the world, and that leaves little time for having a family and raising children.

I’m writing this article for a simple reason – are there alternatives to the paranoid, heavily armored lone wolves that make up so much of our D&D characters and such? Sure! In fact, it’s possible to have those characters without giving up any of the action, and I think most experienced DMs and players have seen it done.

Let’s talk about families and children. Defending your family is a fine way for an adventurer to start out. But why would you leave them once the immediate kobold threat is eliminated? Perhaps it’s the same reasons people volunteer to join the armed forces. Maybe the threat is obviously greater than a few kobolds, and the local militia doesn’t look like they’re solving the problem. Striking out with a few other skilled folks might allow you to strike directly at the evil wizard controlling the kobolds.

But a family is difficult – getting back to visit them can be difficult, and it really hinges on the Dungeon Master properly roleplaying your spouse and kids. Plus, they will inevitably be kidnapped by the evil wizard and used against you. That’s a given.

What about pacifism? There are rules about this kind of thing, but let’s ignore those for a moment. True pacifism isn’t really going to make for a great fantasy story. Action is a part of the genre, and action often means violence. Sure, an entire dungeon could contain only traps, but it doesn’t lend itself to the game for various reasons. However, a set of rules of engagement is easily accomplished. Whether it’s always challenging your foes and giving them a chance to surrender or simply never opting to kill them, I think most of us have encountered a character like that.

Homelessness? It seems like adventurers are transients until someone will give them a castle or stronghold or something. It seems odd to me, but I suppose it’s a part of the fantasy genre. Personally, I think a nice house or a shack somewhere can nicely tie a character or adventuring party to a place and given them direction when they might not otherwise have one.

As for wealth, most games are set such that characters get very wealthy but have a lot of that wealth tied up in magical items.  There is nothing really wrong with this, but once he’s filthy rich, the “selfish treasure hunter” archetype starts to wonder why he’s still risking his neck if it’s just for a better sword and not the earthly pleasures of an opulent lifestyle.

In the end, I think it’s perhaps best to think of adventurers as the fantasy equivalent of an extreme sports fanatic. You might not even need to go that far – maybe a professional sports athlete is a good enough analogy. There aren’t many of them in our society, but some people live to do crazy things for whatever sponsors or money they can acquire. Similarly, there aren’t many adventurers in a fantasy setting, and maybe everyone else from the king to the peasant sees them as nutcases, but basically like what they do.

The funny thing to me is that if I met a guy carrying four guns and insisting he was about to go fight evil, I would not think that was a good thing. But to be fair, kobolds have never attacked my village.

New Look, New Life

Welcome to the NEW Save vs. Blog. Yeah, it’s WordPress. I stubbornly refused to use any non-Chuck-produced blog code for years. But I don’t have the time or energy to fully develop a blog codebase. Oh well.

Now the posts can flow! The topics will mostly be D&D, board games, World of Warcraft and Warhammer 40k. A lot will focus on Dungeon Mastering, because I do that every week and it’s fun to talk about, but MMO raiding, modelling and all other manners of gaming will be discussed.

Hooray! Stay tuned!