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Topics - Karak Norn Clansman

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9th AGE / Vermin Swarm of Fallen Avras (T9A Byzantine Ratmen)
« on: February 15, 2019, 10:48:10 AM »

The Vermin Swarm of the Ninth Age is based on the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantines or Rûm, the surviving Roman state in the east which centered on the nigh-impregnable crossroads city of Constantinople and which survived century upon century of battering attacks from foes assailing it from every direction, in a mind-boggling display of grand strategy clawing the city-state empire back from the brink to great power again and again. While still a formidable foe for much of its history, the mediaeval Romans were no longer the unstoppable force that had once steamrolled the entire Mediterranean after conquering its only true lethal rival in ancient times: Carthage. The well-organized Byzantine military in its heyday won renown with its Theme system (local garrison troops of farmer-soldiers), mounted Thagmata elite regiments (mobile field army), use of mercenaries, Greek fire, siege engineering, strong navy, Varangian Guard and network of fortified cities to fend off often superior foes at more fronts than the empire could usually handle. Yet ultimately, treachery from within would undermine the army in battle again and again (for Byzantium was rife with vicious power struggles), and cowardice would rear its ugly head all too often: It was not easy to be a soft and rich urban realm confronted by a wide range of hardier and less sophisticated enemies who were out for your lands and riches, in a cutthroat world that was a pale shadow of the Roman Empire at its absolute height, centuries before.

Sounds like an interesting historical basis for the dastardly ratmen? Hungry for retaking Avras? Fancy a different aesthetic to your Skaven models? Then let's dive right into it!

By Eldan

The most distinctive feature of Byzantine soldierly gear were the common pteruges: Leather flaps hanging over the upper arms at the shoulders, and from the waist, forming a kilt. An obvious hark-back to ancient Greek and Roman styles, the pteruges grounded this mediaeval army with an aesthetic piece from out of antiquity. For the most part, one would keep it simple and go up to step 3 below, perhaps adding some waviness, wrinkles and fraying. To emphasize the Vermin's decaying ways, perhaps many flaps could be torn, gnawed or missing altogether? Note that all below tutorials show stuff that are intended to be sculpted directly on the model:


Next up is scale armour and lamellar. The latter is difficult to sculpt, so one may want to go for a simplified look with scales instead. Just do the scales with rounded edges instead of angular, and perhaps have them pointing upward instead of downward. You can also sculpt gambeson (no tutorial at the moment):


Likewise, some frayed chainmail can be attempted, including trying out some weird chainmail veil/face cover on some ratmen. A tip would be to leave tears and holes in the mail. Rats don't do things too tidy. If doing chainmail over the torso, then why not chuck in the Byzantine "bra", or rather leather harness to keep armour in place, on some models? Probably borrowed from Persians:


A minor detail for some rabble troops could be to add a few wickerwork shields:


And finally, some opulent pearls and large gemstones (painted sickly green?) add such an ostentatious finish to the leaders. Here's a simple tutorial, but more complicated things can obviously be tackled:


And here is a random idea for some Vermin Swarm symbol: The last human Emperor of Avras quartered by four Vermin Hulks:

Do you have more ideas to share here? Or modelling attempts to show? Then please do so! :)

Didn't have time to make a wicker shield, but here are some conversions for the heck of it. Attacking cloth and leather surfaces with a needle can help give a frayed look, and is quick work:

We all know that Skaven was an original invention by Games Workshop, one which gained a lasting popular life unlike their Zoats and Fimir. Before Warhammer, there were no elaborately developed fantasy ratmen to speak of. After Warhammer, they are a new archetype.

The Ninth Age, being the spiritual successor of Warhammer Fantasy with its historically based model, did manage to find a real life historical culture to base their Vermin Swarm upon, one which sports flamethrowers, treachery, cowardice, cunning and brutality alike: The mediaeval (Eastern) Roman Empire, known as Byzantium after its fall. In case anyone is interested in getting their hands on more knowledge about this nigh-forgotten Roman realm, to get more resonance out of their reading of future Vermin Swarm background, you will get some tips below. Mainly documentaries, lectures and podcasts, since rat players can be expected to have their hands and eyes busy with painting hordes of Vermin miniatures.

Please share your own, whatever finds you can recommend!

Intro 1: The Rise & Fall of the Byzantine Empire (5 minutes)

Intro 2: Engineering an Empire - Byzantium

If one truly wants to start from the beginning, then Mike Duncans podcast, the History of Rome, can be recommended. It ends with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which is to say roughly around the start of what is usually coined Byzantine history. (Youtube videos which compile the many episodes.)

John Romer did great documentaries, and his production on the Byzantine Empire is warmly recommended.

As to reading, the blog Byzantine Military is a nice one. Jumps between various topics.

Lecture series on the Byzantines.

Video series on Byzantine Emperors & Varangian Guard

Concept art of guard unit for the Vermin Swarm of Avras in Vetia. Heavily inspired by the artwork of Simulayton, who mix in extra elements of ancient styles (inspired by the Macedonian renaissance) to aesthetically underline that Byzantium is nothing but Rome.

Guesswork: These Ratmen overthrew the strongest Human empire to ever emerge in temperate Vetia during ancient times, and then proceeded to lord over a shrinking realm where they tried to maintain the captive high culture and material achievements (such as architecture and engineering) of ancient Avras through a bitter cycle of ruination, repair, setbacks and decay. Through ages of struggle this mighty people lost their dominion bit by bit as they had to battle against foes beyond counting on more fronts simultaneously than could be managed. As such their history beat to a pulse of slow, drawn-out yet inexorable decline, where dips into dark ages may be followed be resurgent might and reconquest, and even brief golden ages of blossoming population, wealth and culture, only to see corruption, decadence, disease, treachery and fell fortune topple their restored ascendancy and cast the Vermin Swarm anew into a maelstrom of struggles against overwhelming odds. Diplomatic sowing of divisions abroad, choice assassinations of enemy leaders, and baffling grand strategy (centered upon their capital of Avras) all allowed the Ratmen to carry their beset empire through ages of chaos and destruction. For it was cunning, more so than raw strength, which saw them win through to survive for yet more ages of war and disasters.

Yet nothing lasts forever. Avras of the Vermin Swarm is fallen, for the fabled crossroad city is once again in Human hands for the first time in many millennia. Yet the Ratmen will never accept this loss, for theirs is the power and glory...

The overarching story of Avras in the Ninth Age is a parody of a parody. For it taps into the commonplace way in which the long history of the Roman realm, ever since the Enlightenment and Gibbons in particular, is unthinkingly wrought into a parody of the past, with half of Roman history (the mediaeval half) being artificially separated from its own antiquity by the label of Byzantine - a name which still has a good ring to it. These Byzantines then have their scandalous parts and failings highlighted, while skipping over the fact that this declining realm managed to hold on for an astounding number of centuries in the face of way too many enemies beating down upon it from too many fronts at once. The reality of the mediaeval Roman Empire is a fascinating and bitter story of a realm and culture that had long since passed its peak, yet still refused to lie down and die where greater powers of its era went under the bus. The parody version casts the Byzantine Empire as little more than a tiresome parade of monks, eunuchs, craven defeats, stupendous titles, and incessant palace murders and civil wars: And so what can be more fitting than to take hold of the parody, and run it to the hilt in fantasy fiction through Byzantine Ratmen?

After all, both Warhammer Fantasy's Skaven (the most original of Games Workshop's major WHFB armies, and one not based upon any historical culture) and the historical Romans/Byzantines do have mediaeval flamethrowers and treachery in common.

Enter, the Vermin Swarm of the Ninth Age.

Please share feedback and ideas of your own!

WHFB The Electors' Forum / Chaos Dwarf Culture Project
« on: February 13, 2019, 09:07:04 PM »

Howdy folks!

This is just a quick mention with link for those interested in Warhammer and Chaos Dwarfs, or just curious overall for this largely community-developed faction.

A great amount of stories, songs and fables (some illustrated) have been written for Warhammer Fantasy's Chaos Dwarfs, and here you have it all in a handy link compilation: Check it out!


9th AGE / Koghi Empire (T9A Ghana-Mali-Songhai)
« on: February 03, 2019, 01:54:01 PM »

There has been a lot of brainstorming and homebrew development (especially from Calisson and Ghiznuk) for the Ninth Age's version of the rich empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai in West Africa, all ruled from the saddle by mighty warriors and slavers. This is one example of something that might have chafed for a community project to introduce into Warhammer Fantasy.

If you like the sounds of salt, gold, slaves and lordly riders, then check out the link above!

Some laidback smalltalk somewhere in western Taphria, in lands under the imperial reign of the Koghi, with a handy armrest for the brave warrior and dauntless slaver to lean on.

Entry in T9A's Art Contest II.

Please share ideas of your own for this great Southron power!

The Count's Tavern / Oldhammer Art Contest
« on: January 30, 2019, 11:30:13 AM »
Check out the Oldhammer Art Contest! Deadline 22nd of March 2019. Feel like doodling something '80s style, by any chance? Empire, mayhap? Sci-fi, fantasy, bring whatever genre you like to the table. ;)

Miniature prizes up for grabs.

Historical Games / Carnyx Doodle
« on: January 15, 2019, 01:13:36 AM »
CiLiNDr0 on Deviantart asked if I wanted to contribute a Celtic warhorn doodle to his brewing Kingdoms of Myth game. So here goes a quick little doodle, based on the Gundestrup cauldron. Drawn after a bout of sickness following New Year, but had to wait with uploading until the pale scan image could be edited (with this site):

Historical Games / Painted Runestones
« on: January 14, 2019, 11:24:52 AM »
The ancients liked colour. Dyes and paints were a luxury, especially so for the most vibrant ones. Rather much of the finer ancient stoneworks were decorated with at least some spots of colour in their heyday. I think we as wargaming hobbyists can sympathize with this: Would you rather have grey plastic or a painted army?

Here are some painted runestones (originals and replicas alike), to replicate how they might have looked like:

Just something to keep in mind for scenery and Hold Guardian painting. ;)

The Count's Tavern / Share Your Snow Sculptures Here!
« on: January 13, 2019, 10:25:24 PM »
Anyone up for a snow sculpture challenge?  :biggriin:

It's that time of the year!

The snow is currently too frosty and lumpy to be much good for detailwork. It would not have been advisable to attempt teeth with such material:

And old ones from previous years:

9th AGE / T9A: More Than Just Renaming
« on: January 12, 2019, 02:34:11 PM »

9th AGE / Dread Elves of Maphria Island (T9A Zanzibar)
« on: December 26, 2018, 10:04:41 PM »

We are developing Dark Elves based on the slaving Sultanate of Zanzibar and colonial safari.

Matthew Klaas de Witte accepted a commission from me to design a Dread Elf from Maphria, with a leopard skin and an enslaved Pygmy Halfling. Gut feeling told me he was the right man to pioneer this field. Be welcome to leave a comment for him under the artwork on Deviantart. Master de Witte has a deft hand at playing with historical styles in fantasy artwork, as can be seen in his gallery!

Please share ideas of your own for this exotic colony faction!

9th AGE / Frost Elves, Sylvan Elves Based On Finnic Tribes
« on: December 26, 2018, 09:22:25 PM »
Frost Elves: Northern Sylvan Elves Based on Finnic Tribes

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to go full circle where the Aurora Borealis dances across the sky.

JRR Tolkien, the inventor of the classic historically-based fantasy genre (that Warhammer Fantasy and the Ninth Age are both part of), was profoundly inspired by Finnish folklore and language. The epic of Kalevala (whose 1990s Don Rosa comic adaptation is, by the way, warmly recommended) was an important basis for Tolkien's own tales in Middle Earth, and his Elven languages were in no small part inspired by his studies of Finnish. Let us as such be the first fantasy setting to complete the circle, and introduce northern Elves based on Finno-Ugrians. The working name here will be Frost Elves to get the ball rolling, obviously to be changed for something better.

The basic concept is a plethora of different Elven tribes, sprinkled across the frigid lands north of Vetia and Augea. By the Ninth Age, these various peoples are the remnants from ancient days of much greater spread, but never great population density. They live sparsely, eking out semi-nomadic lives primarily as hunters, gatherers, fishers and herdsmen, moving like ghosts upon waterways and snow alike. They know these bleak forests and remote tundras and highlands better than anyone living, and they know well both how to avoid outsiders, and how to lay ambushes for intruders. To have the famous White Death (Simo Häyhä) and ski-based Finnish winter warfare during the Second World War (based upon a 16th Century Swedish captain's assault on a Russian marching column during winter) at the back of one's mind is for once not a modern burden for this particular brainstorming, but an aid. Think sisu.

Tolkien's own tales present us with two elements that may inspire this concept: First, his Avari Elves, who remained in the east of Middle-Earth and expanded across these mortal lands, until humans emerged, grew and gradually displaced the Avari natives. Second, the dead-set exodus of Fingolfin with the majority of the exiled Noldor Elves across the Grinding Ice, or Helcaraxë, in the north. Especially the latter has inspired numerous artists to depict Elves on the ice, see below.

I have no intention of turning this into a Homebrew army book, though anyone who wish to is of course welcome to do so.

Now imagine the vast expanses up in the cold north, where water and dark forests aplenty brood, home to hardy wildlife, savage tribes from various races, and not least bleak Elves, glimpsed through morning mist and snowstorms. These are the most silent and sullen Elves in all the wide world, yet they are also the living keepers of an oral culture of beautiful songs, cunning and crafty and handy with skis, boats, knives and sleds alike. They ken the ancient spirits of the harsh woods, and they share these spirits' deadly wish for solitude from a hostile world. Theirs is a cold and wind-blown life, wandering the sparse expanses, yet ancient legends tell of paths not chosen, of civilization rejected, of bonds to the Northern Dwarves broken, and of magical gold and smith's craft cast aside. The corruption of the Wasteland and the roaming followers of the Dark Gods have both taken a heavy toll on these Elves of the north, and likewise they are pressed upon by Orcs, Goblins and Trolls alike, and snorting Beast Herds can be heard stomping in the woods these wayward Sylvan Elves call home.

Captivity, by Michael Rechlin.

But these, the original tribes of the northlands, will never lay down their knives and bows, and they will never cease their fight, no matter come what may, for theirs is an unbending will, and theirs is a lethal determination to see their kin and songs live on, flushed with lifeblood, even if all the lakes and forests have to be carpeted thick with the corpses of foes. And as long as their grit and cunning win through, the magical songs of strange Elves will continue to sound among the mists and the snowfalls.

Such are the Sylvan Elves in the frozen north of the Ninth Age.

Avari Elves & Related Reference Images, by assorted artists, including Steamey

Finnic & Related Reference Images, by assorted artists, including Tuomas Koiruvinnen

Hercalaxë Reference Images, by assorted artists

Kalevala Reference Images, by assorted artists

Ideas, feedback and criticism are of course welcome!

Warhammer 40k Discussion / Pirate Ork Stompa Head
« on: December 13, 2018, 05:38:54 PM »
A friend of mine, who is known as Deviatecod online, have a neighbour and friend who is into Warhammer 40'000. Recently, this 40k collector and another mate of his got the idea to have his Ork Stompa turned into a Freebooter Pirate Stompa. Consequently, Deviatecod cooked up a lot of detail ideas for this concept and got in contact with me. The ideas were really fun, so I accepted the commission even if the fee stretched out on work hours was something like €1 per hour. Most of the Stompa head ideas are his, although I came up with the pipe, the ear ring, the headcloth and the feather (a stylized Imperial Aquila statue wing broken off for looted duty). The eyepatch of ammunition bands and a Terminator sole was a joint idea. This was fun, though the detail level is lacking (e.g. no rivets in sight) since it was a rushjob. The beard will have to be bowed into place by the client.


The Count's Tavern / There's Fourteen Ways To Skin A Dwarf
« on: December 11, 2018, 10:54:23 AM »
Orc campfire song (6:40):

There's fourteen ways to skin a dwarf
Skin a dwarf, skin a dwarf
Fourteen ways to skin a dwarf
And here is number seven

Wrap his beard around a plank
Give that plank a mighty yank
Peel him right down to his shank
And now there's seven more...

And then there's even more!

Howdy. Back in 1998 or so Blizzard advertised for an upcoming title, Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, produced via companionship with a Russian company. Straggling schedules and the end of the click-game era made Blizzard cancel the game before release, a bit like Starcraft: Ghost.

I and my brother recently stumbled across a series of eleven play-through videos featuring the game, whilst having a hobby workshop. The Youtube video series is obviously not complete for whatever reason, but we were still surprised by the quality of the game and really enjoyed viewing it.

The creativity and attention to detail and previous strategy titles is obvious, and in it are some first appearances for things which later appeared in World of Warcraft, such as homing chickens or gnomish architecture. It's very much a Blizzard game, and it's a small shame it isn't available in any form considering the work's results.

It's worth to check out Lord of the Clans for anyone who likes Blizzard's Warcraft (especially pre-WCIII) or just fantasy with orcs, goblins and dwarfs in general.

Do yourself a favour when you've got the time. Load a drink and some snacks, and discover this lost title in a series of best-selling fantasy games.

If you like the look, feel free to comment about it and leave a request for further videos or even torrents for the game from the uploader, who got it from the Russian company.

9th AGE / Rattas Republic Kickstarter
« on: November 20, 2018, 11:25:37 AM »
Rattas Republic Kickstarter up now for those interested:

By the way, the Ninth Age setting will sport Byzantine Ratmen.

9th AGE / Bazooka Team and Big Hats of the Dark Bell Tower Out Now!
« on: November 14, 2018, 07:37:02 PM »

These 28mm miniatures sculpted by Fuggit Khan are out now! Order your Bazooka Team and Big Hats here. Priced upon release at €12 per each bazooka team of 2 miniatures, with various bits and 7 hats. A kit of the same 7 hats only is also available, priced at €6,5 upon release.  Bases are NOT included as of release. Cast in whitemetal by Hysterical Games. A few rocket wings may sport minor air bubbles.

Size comparison:


The sun shone from a turbulent sky upon a rocky hillock, beholding its dark grey shape and its sparse garb of vegetation that was little more than yellowed grass and thorny bushes interspersed with gnarly little trees. It was one of but two heights that defied the flat plain of dried and cracked clay, an ashen expanse of wasteland that stretched out as far as the eye could see in all directions of the compass. The winds would occasionally whisk away dust to reveal gleaming obsidian shards on the jagged top of the hillock, and shortly again cover up the craftsmen's waste left over from primordial times by blowing new desert sand over the top of this tall formation.

Below the hillock, hosts of warriors marched up to do battle and formed up in tight ranks behind loose lines of skirmishers, while their shouting leaders on mounts and monsters rode around and stiffened their resolve, or threatened death to cravens, or inflamed their passion for slaughter and booty. The leaders roared whatever words would suffice to make mortals face each other and fight to the death for the sake of kin and country, or for the glory of gods or ancestors, or for fear or gain.  Below was the clamour of armed forces and bloodshed soon to be had upon the land, accompanied by the rhythm of drums and the blares and whistling of lures and pipes. Below was a witch's cauldron of frenzy, bloodlust and suppressed panic building to a pitch of madness that would soon sate the hunger of vultures and jackals. Soon.

Meanwhile, upon the crown of the hillock, tall hats pierced the horizon and swayed as their Ashen Dwarf bearers climbed the height with as much dignity as they could muster. They carried strange instruments of war, and in their trail were a full dozen slave porters, chained together in a long line of misery as they shuffled forward with heavy baggage and ammunition upon their crooked backs. The rocketeers had at last arrived at their vantage point with huffing and loud footsteps upon the mud, stone and obsidian shards. The sun and winds greeted them on the top, as did the reverberating signal, for battle to be joined, from below.

"Quicker, you scum!" the harsh and gravelly voice of loader Adzunat Sikargon snapped out like a whip at the thralls following in their masters' footsteps. He pointed and glowered at the worthless Goblin and Human porters. "First unload ammunition here, and then supplies over there. Then lie down with your eyes into the ground. Anyone caught looking up will be flayed!" A bustle of commition broke out behind the bazooka team as the jingling chain gang had to coordinate their unloading at two different spots, a task made more difficult from some emaciated swines misunderstanding their simple instructions and entangling others in their common shackles. Bloody filth! Not starved enough.

Rocketeer Guzur 'Goggles' Mezdanubar paid the scrambling slaves no heed. He presented the tube for Adzunat to load with a rocket. When this task had been carefully carried out, Guzur swung the metal cylinder up onto his purpose-shaped shoulder plate and scanned the landscape below through his sight. Adzunat moved aside, with one eye scanning the messy slaves, as his colleague searched for his mark, a valuable target... scanned the closing battlelines.... and found his prey. Guzur acknowledged his mark with a loud click of his tongue, and aimed carefully down onto the plain below.

"Clear backwards!" lied loader Adzunat Sikargon. For a moment, his bared teeth glowed red and orange from reflecting the roaring exhaust fire. He grinned savagely as the flash of flames roasted the shrieking slaves behind the rocketeer. The lousy wretches could have been safely cleared from that spot, had they not messed up in their chains. Serves them fine!

Guzur spared the atrocity behind him neither a single look, nor a grimace. The harrowing screams and whimpers of burnt and dying beings of flesh and blood were nothing but wind to his ears. With a deadpan voice of stone, 'Goggles' Mezdanubar merely ordered:

"Switch of tubes. Wyvern arrow. Load!"

Adzunat stole a glance at the heavens as he carried out the command mechanically. Ominous wings rose into the beset sky, heading fast for them on the hillock. Those talons promised death, by ripping or dropping their bodies onto the plains below. The thrill of uncertain battle made his blood race in his veins. Yet even faced  with this threat, a warmth spread in his spiteful heart, and loader Adzunat Sikargon reflected that he at least would die with some fresh happiness in his soul. He stole another glance, at the burnt slaves.

"Down! On your noses!" he barked at them while handing Guzur Mezdanubar the readied weapon. "Clear backwards!"

Murder wings approached and a rocket shot into the sky. The exhhaust flames flared out in a different direction this time, yet even so the ear-splitting noise of the rocket made the slaves shudder and yelp.

"Down or die!" their tormentor roared.

Loader Adzunat Sikargon saw their shivering forms, eyeing their twitching limbs and seared flesh. He beheld them obey his command even when all of their lowly animal instincts told the slaves from the bottom of their guts to run away and scream, scream out loud in wild panic. He twirled his moustache and mouthed a prayer to a martial god. He loaded another rocket and mused on their situation. Miserable wretches to be crushed by any conqueror who so pleased on the one side, and merciless death swooping down on the other. Adzunat had never felt so alive before. This! This was war. This was the true face of war, and it was hell. How wonderful!

Artist Matthew Klaas de Witte is currently starting on an exploratory project to map out new concept artwork for Human natives of Albion.

Quote from: de Witte
Before I begin on the lore I wrote for Albion, I have to say that it is a tremendous amount of thinking going into two things I love. That is, the original Warhammer Fantasy universe, and La Tene culture. For this one I took a look at the few extant official artworks of the natives of Albion and noticed the presence of Great Eagles in the picture so I decided to make the next logical step I then formed a tribe around the eagles and their leader who is very obviously Boudicca following in the sometimes unoriginal naming footsteps of GW. Buddug is Welsh for Boudicca.

Find out more in the description for each art piece on DA that will be linked-to here, and if you very much like the concept or have ideas to share, be welcome to also leave a comment below his Deviantart pieces.

First out, Buddug of the Toulenii:

Historical Games / Babylon Scenes From Movie Intolerance (1916)
« on: October 01, 2018, 12:39:38 PM »
The movie director D.W. Griffith's strange and highly expensive film Intolerance from 1916 is to date the only movie featuring independent Babylon that I know of. Fantastical sets. There are elephant sculptures in there for some reason, but overall it looks rather brilliant in black-and-white, or perhaps aged sepia.

Check out its Babylon scenes sometime for the visuals! (The only Youtube videos with only-Babylon-scenes have atrocious video quality.)

Skirmish & Warband / Dungeon Clutter of Ancient Times
« on: September 28, 2018, 10:04:42 AM »

These miniature bits are out now! Order your dungeon clutter here: Also on Etsy. The ceramics and household wares are priced at €6 per each kit upon release, while the dessicated corpse comes in at €3,8. Cast in whitemetal by Griffin Moulds JJP.

Size comparisons:


Dust whirled in the stale air as footsteps rang down the winding cave tunnels. Tap. Tap. Tap. They were careful steps, yet fired with a haste born out of panic and despair. Pale mice and blind lizards scuttled away under rocks and hid in crags as the heavy darkness that had been their entire world flared up with a ruddy light. Torches crackled and sizzled, several of them bobbing their way forward in a row. The moving torchlight gasped and cast pivoting shadows from stalactites and stalagmites alike, painting the dripping cavern walls with shifting shadows like a mouth full of fangs... or prison bars.

They could not get out. Treading the way back home had revealed an exit collapsed by a massive rockfall, or perhaps felled by sabotage. They could not tell which ill stalked them; misfortune or malevolence. The former was enough to doom them. The latter haunted their every waking moment and rendered their dreams into nightmares. But if someone truly was stalking them and setting them up, they had not caught a glimpse of the would-be murderer.


As if slaying that Cockatrice had been a misdeed! As if snapping the necks of its young brood had been a mistake! As if ending the suffering of its sick yet roosting mate had been a crime! As if taking their precious eggs had been a sin!


No more would those sharp avian eyes turn men and beasts to stone. No more! They had done the right thing, and entered the jaws of hell undauntingly. They had packed up and wandered the subterranean maze for what must have been days, and they had dared death a dozen times over only to get to the monster. And then they had entered the lair, like true heroes, and their leader's silvern shield had shone brilliantly in the orange torchlight as he swung his sword and hacked the foul devil down! Such glory they had reaped! Such glory...


The brave adventurers had packed up well with torches and rags soaked in olive oil, and for this sake their flaming light would outlast their water. And their food. And their sanity. The jaws of hell had closed around them.

Already their supplies had been wolfed down, and already they had cracked open the beheaded trophy's skull to devour its brain and facial muscles. And worst of all, they could not even retrace their steps back to the Cockatrice lair where decaying corpses still lay strewn on the rocky floor. They could not find it again, no matter how hard they tried. They could have sworn the caverns had changed course. And they would soon fight each other for mortal flesh unless some sustenance could be found, for intact Cockatrice eggs could buy you a fief.

They could see it in each others' eyes. They could see it clearly. Their greed would outlast their honour and comradeship. Tense silence reigned in their once so jovial company, and they watched each other from out of the corners of their eyes, as if searching for the gleam of the dagger about to strike from behind.

Suddenly, the lead adventurer shouted out for the first time in hours, or maybe days. She had found vessels! Pots and sacks, baskets and flasks. A stash of supplies! Someone's hidden store. Just like that, they were all saved from hunger. Laughter bubbled up out of parched throats, and their hands clapped each other's backs. That dreaded starvation would not get them, oh no! With so many pounds of grain and wine they would refresh their steps and find a way out, even if it took weeks more. Such branching caverns surely could not have only one exit.

"At it, lads! Raid the pantry!" the forward scout cheered,  and they rushed to her side, opening lids and pulling out corks. A few signs of mice, and smaller critters still, were evident, but no major plague of vermin. The foodstuff smelled fresh enough. Some estate-owner or farming clan would lose their winter reserves, but luck was tough and so were they. They would not let this chance pass!

And so the intrepid adventurers guzzled down unwatered wine and chewed wheat biscuits and raw grain to sate their worst hunger pangs, looking at each other with joy and refound hope in their eyes. The gods willed it! They would not starve!

Nay, they would not starve. Some filled sacks and bags with foodstuff, and refilled empty bottles in their backpacks. One started crushing grain with pestle and mortar to mix with wine and herbs. Others continued the simple feast, until their grasping hands reached the false wooden bottoms that lay rather deep beneath the top layer of grain in the baskets and sacks. Bewildered, they dug up the wooden lids, and found salted meat beneath. No, not meat. Flesh. There were still fingers and ears left in the salty red mass. Someone's dead eye stared back at them.

Gasps and and the sound of vomiting echoed in the low cavern. It was then that they discovered the corpse. A dessicated cadaver from some run-away Goblin slave. Strange to find him dead here, so close to the food store... Stray grain was still visible around the corpse. And why would some farmer dare to store his supplies in a Cockatrice cave? They stared at the dried-out husk of the Goblin corpse.

First then did the pain and convulsions begin. Their visions swam, and they toppled on weak knees, growling about poison. Groaning and cries whimpered away as throats swelled and lungs heaved for less and less air. Fingers clawed desperately on wet rock, and bodies flung themselves frantically about on the hard cavern floor, flailing in animal terror and agony.

And first then did they receive an answer to the question that had been gnawing at the back of their minds for so long:

Yes. It was not misfortune, but malice.

For someone was out to get them.

The Count's Tavern / Uses of Philosophy For Living: Health, by Wes Cecil
« on: September 12, 2018, 11:47:41 PM »
Recommended watch: Video link.

Now a lot of Wes Cecil's lectures are well worthwhile to listen to, and if you like listening to the above you may want to check out the rest of his stuff. I'm sharing this particular video in case it would be an eye opener for someone, somewhere, out there. Whether related to personal care of health or just understanding how it all fits together in a bigger picture.


Empire Crafts and Skills / Bloodbeard's Fire Escape Tutorial
« on: September 10, 2018, 06:40:09 AM »
My friend Bloodbeard has shared a tutorial on how to make fire escapes for your buildings. Cheap and solid method!


Tutorial: Fire Escapes and Ladders
MDF buildings are a great and cheap way to fill out a board. But having a couple of different houses, most just come with one door. The limits the gaming options with then, creating nasty choke points (which is fine sometimes). Decided to make some entry points on the second floors with some fire escapes.

I made two different kinds. One angled type for my Laser Model Store houses and straight for the TT Combat houses.

The fire escapes are made broader than 25mm, because I want them to fit on bigger models as well. This wouldn't be a problem in Last Days and Walking Dead. But I do have some mutants for This Is Not A Test and Scrappers that has bigger bases.

The finished result can be seen at the bottom of the article.


- Sprue (I used Mantic Games bases sprue)
- Plastic glue
- A tiny bit of plastic card (could work with sprue as well)

Step 1 - prep the sprues
Mantic Games 25mm round bases come on perfect sprues. The are straight and have 90 degree angles. Prepare by cleaning them up. Glue two together to make the angled fire escape.

Step 2 - cut off
Cut off the extra sprue, to make a nicely shaped angle.

Step 3 - railing
Making use of the nice angles on the sprue, it's easy to cut out and attach some railing to the fire escape platform.

Step 4 - playing with fire
Use a candle and heat up some sprue. Bend it into a hooked shape. These will be used to secure the fire escapes in the windows of the houses. Bending with heat is better than glueing - it's much stronger. This is the bit that will take any tension.

For the straight fire escapes the hooks are bend directly from the base frame, no need to glue.
MDF houses is often double layered on he walls. So aim for a 6mm wide space in the hooks.

Step 5 - finishing
Attach the hooks to the angled fire escape. Make sure they fit with a window in the building.

The Laser Model Store has a small line sticking out at the second floor. So using a bit of sprue and a tiny bit of plastic card I made grip to get around that. So the fire escape is secured on both sides.

Lastly add as much sprue as you want to walk on. Fill out the fire escape. Add some extra sprue to the railing as well.

Again using a candle, med some hooked pieces of sprue. Use these to make some ladders. I've made six short and two long fire escape ladders. These can hook on to the fire escape, make further access to a roof.

I base coated the ladders and fire escapes with a brown spray. Drybrushed it all with gun metal. Quick shade varnished the stuff with a heavy layer. It's an easy way to get a dirty rusty look.

I think the addition of the fire escapes add a nice inner city downtown vibe to the buildings. Here they're used on a TT Combat house.

Homemade felt mat - tutorial. Fire escape on a Laser Model Store house.

Historical Games / Chariot Toilet from Ancient Rome
« on: August 12, 2018, 09:44:20 PM »
More here in general on Roman sanitation:

The Count's Tavern / Ultimate Grimdark Concepts?
« on: August 10, 2018, 01:33:24 PM »
Games Workshop's worlds of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40'000 have long since had a reputation for sheer utter cruelty, mind-boggling malice and harshness built into the worlds themselves. Small wonder, given how both are based on real human history, and how they are both inspired by heavy metal rock album covers, Dune and so on, refined by various learned minds and talented hands, not least John Blanche with his distinctive style. Age of Sigmar started out with a hopeful note in the background story, yet grim darkness seems to be on the rise there as well at the moment.

A harsh world of conflicts and unforgiving hatred makes for a great backdrop scene for stories to play out on, allbeit when taken overboard it also limits the stories that can be told by shutting out subtleties with barriers of bottomless animosity (e.g. the watertight barriers between uncorrupted Dwarfs and Chaos Dwarfs in WHFB which makes any interaction other than violence most unlikely).

Loved and loathed, whether hailed as exquisite narrative settings or exaggerated to the point of "grimderp", the grimdark is a strong feature of Warhammer settings' backstories.

Do you have any favourite concepts of grimdark? It could be moments of stories or bizarre artwork or models, and they certainly need not be from Games Workshop settings. If pictures are involved, then please share! :)

What made me post this was my brother coming up with a 40k-ish RPG character idea yesterday, of a cyborg who had died in his robotic harness, yet whose exoskeleton steams on with dead weight strapped inside it. That jokingly-intended zomborg must come close to the top of most grimdark concepts I've ever stumbled across. In official background, the Daemonforged Hellcannon with ammunition of mortal souls ranks in the very top, and that concept continues to inspire many Chaos Dwarf stories to this very day (it's got fantastic and inspiring narrative reverberations).

And likewise for 40k with its Golden Age of Technology human civilization's most advanced and psyker-tolerating worlds being the most ripe targets for Daemonic forces through Psykers, while only superstitiously backward and witch-hunting colonies survived: The grim darkness is written into the very structure of that universe.

As to artwork, these two pieces spring to mind, among a host of others:

And a random Blanche artwork, because mention of grimdark wouldn't be complete without his lifework of art:

And outside GW, an honourable mention goes to Disciples of Lughar in the Ninth Age, i.e. Daemonically possessed Infernal Dwarf berzerkers on fire, here illustrated as a K'daai Cultist with glowing runes carved into his flesh, by Helblindi. Lovely over-the-top grimdark idea and visual:


Empire Crafts and Skills / Bloodbeard's Hydro Bar Tutorial
« on: August 05, 2018, 04:44:12 PM »
My friend Bloodbeard has shared a tutorial for making a ramshackle post-apocalyptic drinking hole. Lots of similar stuff to be found on his blog:


Tutorial: Hydro Bar
I got the idea for this build after getting a couple of resin signs from Ramshackle Games. Boxed around my mind for a few days and then I drew up the build. Haven't tried doing that before - but I didn't want to mess it up. Here's the concept sketch.

A neat center piece for the post-apoc collection of terrain.

This build is for Ash Wastes in Necromunda, Deadzone, Killteam, This is not a Test, Scrappers and all the other sci-fi / post-apoc games I collect.

Jump directly to the showcase.

Super glue, wood glue (or PVA), plastic glue
Ice cream sticks
Wire mesh
Toothpaste Squeezer
Optional: Chains, plastic detail bits, resin detail bits
Optional: Printed detail posters

Step 1: Base and scafolding
Cut out a base for the build. I''ve used 3mm thick cardboard and made it fit my concept scetch. As I play Deadzone, it's as always fitted with the 3" system.

Cut up a bunch of old sprue in 3" pieces. Use the hot glue gun to fix it to the base. When dry, mark out windows, a bar and doors with other sprue pieces.

Step 2: Siding
Take your trusted toothpaste squeezer (5$ off eBay incl shipping) and make a load of corrugated metal. Use cardboard, aluminium foil, plastic card or whatever you like. (Tower build with only metal. Walls build with a mix).

Starting from the bottom and using super glue, attach plates to the walls. The more scaffolding you did, they easier this is. Mix between horizontal and vertical lines, for easy detailing.

Step 3: Water tank
The water tank is made from a tractor toy, bought for nothing in a thrift store. The piping is from russian Tehnolog. Very cheap kits (and cheap plastic) - got my bits in a trade. Otherwise use plastic tubing (like the pole from small birthday flags).

Step 4: Bar
The insde bar is made from some Ramshackle Games oil drums (these were 10pcs for 1£ including shipping during Black Friday), tractor wheels (that toy from before) and ice cream sticks. The bar desk on the wall is from a small pieces of textured plastic (from a box of chocolates).

Step 5: Window shutters
This is a wasteland bar - sand storms, ash storms, raiders. I wanted detail to make it look secure-ish. Cut some ice cream sticks into the right size and connect them with a piece of card (this will be hidden). On the front connect them with some texture plastic (the chocolate tray from before) to make metal bars.

Attach the windows with some chain. Jump down to the thrift store and buy some old necklaces, it's a lot cheaper than real 'hobby chain'. The chain is glued to the shutters with super glue. Then glue it inside the bar (cut a little groove in the wall top, not photoed). Super glue the chain as well making it hard.

This will prevent the shutters from breaking off easy (if you've put them in an angle like me).

Step 6: Stairs
Where possible, I like stairs better than ladders. Giving more placement options for the models. Using sprue, find some pieces that has a natural 90 degree bend. I used superglue to glue the first ones to the walls. The I placed the outer ones and connected with some ice cream sticks.

Added a few extra pieces of sprue for strength. The crate is also from the crazy Ramshackle Games deal.

Step 7: The roof
I cut a square of (just over) 6" x 6". Wanting it to go other the walls. It'll the kept stable by all the scaffolding underneath. I covered one half with corrugated sheets and the other with sticks. On the terrace, I've marked the middle with a non-cut stick (for Deadzone reference).

Step 8: Fence
Using some left over wire mesh (from my chain-link fence) I've made a fence. Cut one long piece and bend it into the right rectangular shape. Using sprue and super glue secure the mesh in place. Make sure to secure both sides, glue doesn't bind will on metal. And this is a part that'll often get bumped into.

Step 9: Last details
The cool resin sign is also from Ramshackle Games (and inspired the entire build). Also make a door for the bar, using matches and ice cream sticks. I added a few resin pieces to the terrace and the water tank. A few barrels and some crates.

Step 10: Painting
Using cheap spray paint, the entire build is base coated. All metal sheet areas are painted grey. The terrace and water tank is brown. Pick out a few metal sheets in muted colors and rusty brown. Give the entire build a heavy layer of Army Painter quick shade - you'll never finish the can anyway.

Add grass tufts, static grass, leaves (dry birch tree seeds) and posters. I went with biohazard themed ones from DriveThroughRPG.

Then finish with some layers of matt varnish spray. It takes the shine of the quick shade and helps keeping the grass and leaves in place.

Here's a bunch of photos, from the finished build.

Bar is open!

I named the bar the Quarantine and added posters with various diseases.

My 3' x 4' Wasteland setup is growing nice. Check out tutorials for: Container, chain-link fence, tower, scrap walls and silos.

Completely compatible with the Deadzone 3" cube system.


My good friend Bloodbeard has shared a tutorial most useful for adding detail and lifelike surroundings to your settings of mad adventure and horrible carnage. His blog is filled with this kind of scratchbuilding stuff. Enter, the dollhouse:


Tutorial: Upgraded dollhouse furniture
While browsing ebay one night, I came across some dollhouse furniture scaled 1:50. Super duper cheap stuff, but the scale seems a bit small for 28-30mm models.

I went ahead and ordered some anyway. Logic was that it would be super cheap even if the scale was too off - I could turn it into scrap piles and barricades.

Most of these sets come in sets of 10 pieces, so you'll get a lot of stuff. Just go ahead and search for 'dollhouse furniture 1:50' and you'll get a lot of results. Organize with cheapest first.

Scale turned out to be on the small side, but not bad looking. And considering how most mdf buildings are too small as well, it's really not a problem.

I'll show how I used all the small pieces, to make quick pieces for all the settings I play.

The end result for me is: The 1:50 scale dollhouse stuff is cheap and well worth it. Lots of terrain for minimum work.

For the the painted results and scale comparison check the showcase at the end of this page.

Dinner tables
The pieces are small, so I decided to glue some together. Made two tables and glued four chairs to them.

This dinner table was too big, to glue the chairs just as is. I added a tiny bit of sprue, not visible on the tabletop.

Office space
Made from the tabes, chair and a TV-stand. The TV furniture was too small on its own, it didn't look good. But I had 10 of those pieces. Chop them up and make a little office desk. With my clippers I used a bit of the piece to make a keyboard and mouse.

Sci-fi lab
Also went and added some of the pieces to my Star Saga tables. An easy way to add some screens and small drawers. Again I glued the chairs in place, so they're not all over the place.

Wardrobes and bookshelves
There's some cool wardrobes and bookshelves as well, but they're a bit thin. So I added some old bolts with superglue, add some weight, keep them in place.

Take some cardboard and close up the back of the bookshelves and wardrobes. Superglue it in place and cut out when dry. As I had so many wardrobes, I made some of them into fantasy ones, by adding a few bit box bits.

Also cut off the top ornament on half, to make them different.

Decided to use a few bookshelves for my fantasy games. Used some ice cream sticks to add backing to a couple of them. And then I added some bits from the bit box to the top (see them in the bottom)

The collection
 And here's the result of my cheap china furniture buy (without Star Saga pieces). The beds are really bland on their own, flat besides a few sculpted pillows. Made some for dungeon furniture by again adding some bits of ice cream stick and matches.

After painting them, I've added some small pieces of fabric to make blankets.

From way back in the days, I had some resin (or platser?) Got them in a huge box of unfinished terrain projects.

For painting I organized the stuff into different sets. Making a bed, closet, shelves, tables in the same colors. For different houses. Grey, white, black, brown. Made a lot of boring grey pieces, that'll also fit into sci-fi settings as well as modern houses.

Most painting was really basic. Base coat, few metal pieces, army painter quick shade.

Here's some close ups of the finished furniture. Really nice results for minimum work and minimum money. Stand by for a lot of in-page linking!

The bookcases are made for Frostgrave and Dungeon Saga. Added a few bits sculpted by Admiral [KNC] for Zealot Miniatures. If I've learned anything from Hero Quest it's that there's skulls on book of furniture.

After taking photos I got another idea. Add small scrolls and pieces of paper to the shelves. Just take some unbleached baking paper and add it here and there.

The upgraded fantasy wardrobes. Added some shield emblems, a sword and a skull.

The beds with a few matching pieces. Went they beige fabric and made it really messed up with quick shade, this is not for a fancy castle.

The grey pieces will go in office buildings, warhouses and sci-fi settings. I want to build a big modular space station / fallout vault, this is a good start on interior.

But some of these will go into Deadzone tables and Star Saga as well.

For most of the china screens, I've went with a grey as well, turned off screens. Better fitting for modern day zombie apocalypse (though it would be easy to go with a cool green).

Also to add a bit of detail to these, I'm gonna print some small 28mm newspapers and add some tables.

I originally got all the china furniture to get something for my modern houses and terrain. Here's the white set used in a two storey house. Rick and Carl checking it out.

The black set makes a nice little bedroom.

The white dining table sets I made in the same colors as a few 4ground pieces I have. I need to build some flower pots and they'll also make a restaurant. Or fit in most other houses.

I don't mind the chairs and sofas being on the small site. But it wouldn't be too hard to raise them up. Add 1mm of sprue legs underneath, it would do a lot of the overall impression of size.

In my farmhouse there're 4 rooms, and it's the perect example of how small some mdf buildings are. Not much room for any furniture at all.

Did a few of the old resin pieces in drybrushed metal. Fitting for some administration in my prison.

I went in heavy on the quick shade wash, really wanting a dirty look. As all my games plays out in some kind of war zone or apocalypse. Dropped a few pieces into my This is not a Test terrain, quick way to add some more wasteland flair.

My friend Bloodbeard runs a blog with a cornucopia of hobby goings-on in it, not least scratchbuilding of terrain! Here he has kindly wished to share his latest tutorial with us, for all your ramshackle need!

Be sure to check out more of the stuff on his blog if you like what you see here:


Tutorial: Corrugated Scrap Metal Walls
I found the tool for this build a long time ago. Don't know how I ended up with it, but it was during long hours of searching china shops for useful stuff. And I found a 'toothpaste squezer' - perfect tool! Greenstuff World have since released the exact same item under the name 'corrugator' - but it's a toothpaste squezer and it's half price like that.

Best tool you'll ever find for $3 including shipping.

GSW is an awesome shop however, so it's always a good cause to throw money at them.

Made these for use in all my sci-fi and post-apoc games. To be walls for Alexandria and Woodbury in The Walking Dead or in Last Days. As part of the Wasteland in Scrappers and This is not a Test. And they are 3'' compatible with Deadzone. Also fitting for Ash Wastes in Necromunda or Killteam (man there's a lot of cool games).

As always go to the bottom for showcase photos.

- Thick card or mdf for bases
- Cardboard, plastic card, foil trays for 'metal plates'
- Superglue (lots!)
- Hot glue gun
- Sprue (lots!)
- Popsickle sticks

Step 1: Bases
Cut out a bunch of bases for the walls. I've made sure mine are 3'' compatible for a Deadzone grid. Made then 1,5'' wide, so they will stay in place and not fall over. I've used thick 3mm cardboard for the bases.

Step 2: Sprue and hot glue
Cut a lot of poles from old sprue. Shave off small bits, to make the poles a bit uneven. Also try and find some with an angled piece, saving glue connections later.

Using the hotglue gun (and I find it's much better than super glue) attack them to the bases. A lot of them, more than you think.

Step 3: Walkways
Prepare the walkways, glue some sprue to the angled pieces.

Step 3: Corrugated plates
Take out you toothpaste squeezer and make a bunch of metal. I used different thickness of cardboard and aluminium bbq trays. Thought was to get different textures on the finished walls, but it doesn't show well. Cardboard is easier to glue however.

Step 4: Glue... All over your fingers
I use super cheap super glue from china. I buy 100 tubes at a time, it's good for projects like this. Start from the bottom and just mix match plates and work towards the top. Make sure to have the lines go both horizontal and vertical.

Step 5: Strengthen it
I took some sprue and added to the front and the back of the walls. It adds some more strenth to the build and is a good soak point for wash and quickshade. I've also build a couple of ladders from sprue.

Step 6: The gate
Originally I planned to make a magnetized gate. So I glued on two old rusty nails. But after doing this I found that the gate for my prison does the job well enough.

Painting and Basing
I base coated the walls with a cheap grey rattle can and the 'floors' with a cheap brown. . Then I picked out a few plates on each section in a different color (using the same three colors on all). Another bunch on each section and all sprue was painted with a mix of 'rust'. Using a wet palette I add various metal colors, giving lots of different nuances.

The dirt was painted with cheap brown acryllics and drybrushed with grey.

The walls were all given a heavy layer of army Painter Strong Tone. Mixed some different grass types for the bases and ended with a couple layers of mat varnish.

And here's the nice finished result.

The original idea for these walls were to be used in The Walking Dead as part of Woodbury and Alexandria. With my farm and prison, I'm set for the first 180 comics or so.

The builds were done in the 3" system to fit neatly into games of Deadzone and my other industrial terrain.

And here's the walls set up on a 3'x4' mat. Taking a lot of space, making a Wasteland map for This is not a Test or Scrappers.

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