A Mechanical Challenge for November

These five figures all come from my “Space Crusade” board game by Milton Bradley/Games Workshop (1990). I played this quite a lot after getting it, but it hasn’t been touched for a decade (at least). I’ve often thought about painting all the space marines in the game, and I’ve drafted different pieces (particularly the Chaos Marines) into various D&D adventures in the past.

My recent Gamma World game involved a crashed spaceship and I used the dreadnought as one of the ships internal defences. Putting the figure on the board got a good response from my players! I would have liked to have been painted on game day, but there hadn’t been enough time to do that. Azazel’s November Mechanical Challenge seemed the perfect reason to paint it anyway, so I’ve spent most of the last week working on it and four Necrons.

The necrons have never been used outside of the board game that I recall, but they’ll make good basic robots for Gamma World. They have been quick and easy to paint too. After spray undercoating they got a quick grey base coat, then gun metal, and black ink. I’ve brushed silver over the top of most of the surface and some copper for wiring and fluoro green in the eye sockets. Also a bit of white over the skull faces. If I were to do them again, I might go for a much lighter grey base coat so that the gun metal isn’t so dark. I didn’t want them bright shiny silver, but they did turn out darker than planned. A second coat of a different silver did help with this though.

The chaos dreadnought got the same basic treatment – white spray undercoat, grey base coat, then gun metal over legs and weapons. Red over the main carapace (and gold trim), with green and bronze on wiring, etc. White on the nose, then thorough black ink over everything.

Chaos dreadnought with missile launcher and plasma cannon

Dreadnought – rear.

I touched up the green wiring to brighten it a little, and more white on the nose. Then hints of gold and copper on some components and some black and silver to darken or lighten different parts of the legs, back and undercarriage. The three weapons (for the upper “arms’) are interchangeable, and I haven’t glued them in order to still be able to swap them in and out. They should get a spray varnish this afternoon.

Dreadnought – Chain gun in place of plasma cannon.

I’m very pleased with how these came out. I suppose there’s still hope for the space marines!


Orctober – A squad of Citadel Orcs

Today I finished my squad of orc warriors for Azazel’s Orktober Unit/Squad Challenge.

These figures are all Citadel/Warhammer from a couple of decades ago. 6 typical orc warriors with swords and 4 orc “bigguns” with sword and shield. Plus a single goblin spearman as a mascot. The goblin got missed when I did my earlier group of goblins because he’s a different sculpt and the only one of his type I have.


2018-10-14 Orcs-1

Following my research on orcs in RPG’s I started these guys off differently to my previous orcs. I mixed a mid grey with flesh to paint their skin and was very happy with the way they looked. I’m inclined to do the same in future, with perhaps a little more grey.


2018-10-14 Orcs-2

I used the same fushia for pants, brown for boots and red belts to match up with the previous group of orcs. The standard warriors have a similar (but not the same) brown shirt to the previous warriors. All have a green tint (Army painter ink, green tone) over gunmetal for their metal shoulder plates, to tie them in with the two orc champions that I’ve previously painted.


2018-10-14 Orcs-3

2018-10-14 Orcs-4


I spent a bit more time and effort on these compared to the previous orcs and goblins – mostly because they are slightly more detailed sculpts. I’ll also be away for two weeks near the end of the month and don’t expect to get anything else painted before I leave. I don’t really feel like starting anything else, but there’s 14 kobolds on my desk (mostly reaper bones) that I’m thinking of at least giving a base colour to.



Orcs in RPGS

This is a diversion from painting to consider the appearance of one of the most common fantasy races in role-playing games – Orcs.

I grew up with an initial image of Orcs from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ‘Monster Manual’, alongside images of Warhammer Orcs from Games Workshop. I think visual images stick in mind more than written descriptions – I certainly saw many images of green skinned orcs. I’d say I had two ideas for orc skin – green from WH and brown from D&D. I played other games with orcs, but didn’t consider that they might be thinking of them as different again. There have been many gaming publications over the years, and in recent decades plenty of fantasy movies (even TV series) that present orcs that may influence what we consider their appearance to be. The Hobbit/LotR movies certainly suggest greys and blacks.

I had been assuming that D&D Orcs were of dark brown skin. While painting orcs recently, I started to look into their description in various editions of D&D and was surprised to see variations between editions that don’t exist in other D&D creatures. Skin colour has changed, and it appears that the designers wanted to get away from the “piggish” look that they started with. Since I’ve been (or will be) painting Goblins and Kobolds, I looked at their descriptions too. There is slightly different wording between editions, but those creatures physical appearance is unchanged in 1st through 3rd edition.

As a result of this minor research, here’s a simple description of Orcs drawn from a variety of sources – with the focus being prominent Role-Playing Games.

1st Edition (AD&D): Orcs appear particularly disgusting because their colouration – brown or brownish green with a bluish sheen – highlights their pinkish snouts and ears. Their bristly hair is dark brown or black, sometimes with tan patches. Even their armour tends to be unattractive – dirty and often a bit rusty. Orcs favour unpleasant colours in general. Their garments are in tribal colours, as are shield devices or trim. Typical colours are blood red, rust red, mustard yellow, yellow green, moss green, greenish purple, and blackish brown.

2nd Edition (AD&D): Orcs vary widely in appearance, as they frequently cross-breed with other species. In general, they resemble primitive humans with grey-green skin covered with coarse hair. Orcs have a slightly stooped posture, a low jutting forehead, and a snout instead of a nose, though comparisons between this facial feature and those of pigs are exaggerated and perhaps unfair. Orcs have well-developed canine teeth for eating meat and short pointed ears that resemble those of a wolf. Orcish snouts and ears have a slightly pink tinge. Their eyes are human, with a reddish tint that sometimes makes them appear to glow red when they reflect dim light sources in near darkness.

3rd Edition (d20): Gray skin. An orc’s coarse hair usually is black. It has lupine ears and reddish eyes. Orcs prefer wearing vivid colours that many humans would consider unpleasant, such as blood red, mustard yellow, yellow-green, and deep purple. Their equipment is dirty and unkempt.

Pathfinder (d20): It has coarse body hair and a stooped posture like some primitive man but with a grayish-green skin tone and bestial facial features. Burning red eyes peer below a low, sloping brow, just above a flattened nose, and prominent tusk-like teeth. Greasy black hair.

Warhammer: A typical Orc is a naturally large creature that stands taller than the average Man, with long arms and short legs, huge slabs of muscle moving underneath tough green skin, and their jaws are lined with vicious fangs that jut out from their under-bite. They have beady red eyes, a generally foul demeanour, and are naturally bald.

M.E.R.P. (Middle Earth Role Playing): Build: Heavy, with thick hides, short legs, and long thin arms. They have grotesque, fanged faces and random hair growth. Colouring: Black or grey hair, black or reddish-brown eyes, and deep grey or black hides.

The One Ring: “Their appearance and size differs from tribe to tribe, but many prominent features are common to all Orcs, such as swarthy skin, short legs and broad, slanted eyes, wide mouths and long fangs.” Broad, with crooked legs and long arms, Mordor Orcs differ greatly in size and capabilities, from the small but deft Snaga to the large Black Uruk.


Finally, here’s some notes from J.R.R. Tolkien on the subject:

Swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands, ugly and filthy fanged humanoids. The Uruks are larger, more powerful and cruel and “black”.

“They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes”.

In case you don’t know… Sallow = “(of a person’s face or complexion) of an unhealthy yellow or pale brown colour.”


Okay… back to painting now… Some grey mixed with flesh for my new batch of Orcs!



Painting – GW Orcs finished

This took me a bit longer than planned, mostly because I got sidetracked by non-painting activities.

These are all Games Workshop/Citadel plastic figures, most of which I purchased to use with Warhammer Quest. The orc warriors are from the Hero Quest game. (Pictures can be clicked on for enlargement.)

1 black orc champion

7 orc archers

8 orc warriors – 2 with flails, 2 with cleavers and 4 with scimitars.

Like with my goblins, one of the orcs broke his sword in combat. The original sword is long-gone and the only bits I had to try and replace it with were too small. So I just trimmed it and he can hold his fist up in a threatening gesture.

I’d originally painted the orcs in flesh tones, generally darker flesh than I use for most humanoids, not green since I use most figures for D&D not Warhammer. I got sidetracked looking at different Orcs in RPGs and realised that my ideas of orc-flesh were closer to what 1st edition D&D had described, and weren’t “current” compared to recent editions. I’m not going with greyish skin, but they all did get a black ink over the top to darken their skin!

Each group is painted in almost identical fashion – the orc archers have different coloured pouches as contrast. Unlike the goblins, these guys are meant to look like a unit. While the archers have mostly yellows and greens, the warriors are mostly browns. I did use a dark fushia on nearly every figures pants (more obvious on the warriors), red for belts, and the same brown for boots. I have the same fushia and red on the champion too.

I’d previous painted a metal dark orc champion, and used the same green ink on gunmetal for the bulk of the armour to tie the two together. I’m also trying out taking photos here with a new phone. It seems to pick up the lighting better, so the images are as dark as with my previous phone (and my digital camera). Having loaded the photo, I note that I forgot to silver dry brush the champions chainmail!

EDIT: “Would you believe…” I’ve just brought all the figures in from a wonderful sunny afternoon. They have been outside drying after two coats of clear acrylic… and I found the missing orc sword! (Oh well, into the bits box.)


Painting – A score of Goblins

A score plus five goblins actually. Most were finished last weekend but I didn’t get to photograph them until today. (Lots of pics!)

Yes, these are all Citadel/Warhammer goblins and they are NOT greenskins! While these figures have been used over the years for Hero Quest, Warhammer Quest, (possibly Warhammer FRP), MERP and various editions of Dungeons and Dragons – it’s D&D that I mostly play.

The various editions of D&D (1st-3.5) have been fairly consistent with their descriptions of goblins: Eyes varying in colour from red to yellow. Skin colour ranging from yellow through any shade of orange to a deep red. I’ve usually gone with a dull yellow. These have a Army Painter Soft Tone (brown ink) over “Oriental Flesh”, and I really like the mottled effect that has resulted on many.


The full set here are:  eight bowmen, six spearmen, four with sword and shield, six with swords and axes, and one shaman. One goblin had his sword break long ago. I trimmed the hilt away, so he’s just got his fists – maybe he’s the tribe’s brawler. (He can always stand back and insult PC’s. )

I’ve gone with a variety of colours, brighter than what goblins probably should wear, but I wanted them to stand out as individuals. I also didn’t go for as much detail or fine paint work as I do for unique figures. These are basic units that could see a lot of use, and generally goblins die quickly – so they aren’t likely to be on the table for long. I wanted to paint the lot of them without spending weeks doing it.

The Shaman got more time because he’s a more detailed figure and deserved extra effort. He’s the only metal figure in this group and has stuff everywhere – pouches, skulls, bandages, jewellery, trinkets, etc. He was fun to paint. He hasn’t been varnished yet, so I might do a little more detailing on some of the jewellery/trinkets, etc. (Just thinking some of those odd shapes are mushrooms!)



Next up: I’ve got sixteen Orcs. They’ve all been undercoated, fleshed out and I’ve started on weapons and mail. Their champion is halfway done, so I’m hoping not to take more than 2 weeks to finish them all.

I keep leaving Star Wars figures at the back of the desk as I think of older figures I have that I’d like to paint to use in my mega-dungeon. This probably means that a group of Reaper Bones Kobolds will follow the Orcs.

Goblins and Orcs

My megadungeon writing has reached the extent now that I’ve got plenty to keep the players busy exploring. We’ve talked about starting play in the “near” future, and with that in mind I thought it would be good to have some painted goblins.

I’ve got a bunch of goblin and orc figures – they are all Citadel from Warhammer, Warhammer Quest and Hero Quest. They have seen a lot of use over the years, but none (except one I did in 2016) have been painted. I’m going to need a few goblins in our first PF/D&D FalsKrag session, and likely more at other times as well as some orcs later on. This seems as good a reason as any to get me painting again.

It’s also the second half of the year, the weather in southern Australia is generally getting warmer, and if I want to paint at least as many figures this year as last I’ve got to get moving. I’m certainly not aiming for an average of 1 figure per day (I still can’t believe Azazel is managing that on top of work, gaming, etc) but I like the idea of 100 figures that I was aiming for last year.

Not the best photo. (Click for larger) I’ll take better quality shots once they’re done!

Last weekend gave me two relatively warm and sunny days, so I got out and sprayed 41 figures. Then got to clean up mold lines, etc and gave them another undercoat spray. This weekend I’ve been painting flesh. Since most of these figures are groups (or units) of four to eight identical (or almost identical) minis, I’m hoping that I can paint them faster than all the single unique figures that I usually find myself working on.

I’m planning a fairly uniform colour scheme for the orcs (pun intended) – they all wear chain mail with jackets and pants, except for the orc (? – where’s my rulebooks and WHQ notes?) leader. With the goblins I want more variety. I don’t see goblins as an organised military force, so I think I’ll stick with a limited range of colours, but there should be more individuality between the same type of figure.


Just got sidetracked trying to work out what the orc champion actually is. He’s an early plastic slotta-base figure. I’m positive he’s a ‘black orc champion’ from the horns, but I can’t find the same figure on the net. Enough procrastination… time to paint more faces before dinner and “The Terror” (TV series).

2018 – Painting: 1, RPG Writing: Lots!

We are nearly halfway through 2018 and so far I’ve painted only ONE figure. After working through my Zombicide figures last year, I expected to make good progress on other painting projects this year, but it just hasn’t happened. My one week Christmas-New Year break was spent in Tasmania, and work has been increasingly busy since then. Most nights I’ve read, done some typing, watched some TV, and played some Lotro (Lord-of-the-Rings Online).

The single exception is a WotC D&D “Giant Scorpion” that I purchased through eBay, that came entirely in a disappointing black. It really didn’t look pre-painted at all. I spent an afternoon repainting it to something that you can actually see detail on.


What I’ve really spent time on this year is writing a Pathfinder D&D megadungeon – FalsKrag:

Early last year, when looking for Gamma World material, I found a blog with a player in a GURPS Gamma World Campaign. I got more interested in his blog as I started reading more of the megadungeon campaign that he runs – Felltower. The more I read on his campaign, the more interested I became in doing my own. (Thank you Peter for so much inspiration!) I decided to start with “Beginnings” a short adventure (written a year or two ago) for new 1st level characters that explains how they get together from different places around the world of Greyhawk and become an adventuring group. The main adversary and finale in that adventure provides a perfect lead-in to my megadungeon.

I looked for somewhere in the world of Greyhawk to place my ruins and mountain dungeon and by chance zoomed in on a map and found three places on a river close to the border of three countries – Falsford, Fals Keep and Falsridge. It’s also right next to a minor mountain range, with valleys, forested areas and a heap of humanoids. I didn’t intend to copy Felltower in name, but this seemed the perfect set-up for my adventure, and the more I read on the politics and history of the area, the more I knew I had a great location. So the ruin of Falshold, on the mountain of FalsKrag was born.

FalsKrag maps & handouts (Click for larger) – blurred to remove important detail.

I’ve now mapped and detailed about 12 areas (or levels), for the ruin and dungeon. I’ve got a family history for the ruin, a past timeline (covering 500 years), details on population of the three “towns” (numbers, types of classes/levels of inhabitants, shrines/temples, etc), a growing list of expanded rumours, and three detailed sections of legend/history that I’ve worked around established Greyhawk history of the area, that have an impact of the dungeon or a particular part of it. It’s been a lot of fun writing it, and it hasn’t mattered if I’ve got sidetracked looking up odd Greyhawk info in my many books and resources. I have a heap of player handouts, some colour maps, a growing set of Hero Lab portfolios with monsters and NPCs, notes on the different greyhawk races/cultures (complete with real-world language notes to offer a printed version of any text in Baklunish, Flan, Oeridean, or Suel), a new fully fleshed weapon of legacy (and plans to utilise and rewrite three from the book d20 3.5 ‘Weapons of Legacy’) and sets/groups of magical and mundane items in and around the dungeon (for example, an NPC group from 200 years ago had weapons made here) that may be found or be required for something. I’ve got notes for future levels/creatures/NPCs/legends that I’ll expand on as I feel I’ve reached an appropriate place to put them.

While this won’t be a full sandbox experience, it is distinctly not linear, nor static, in dungeon layout and with it’s multiple story-lines. There should be many choices (rumours, legend, exploration, locations, etc) that players can choose from to investigate in any session. My group of players are primarily hack’n’slash, but they don’t mind the occasional puzzle. There are things that shouldn’t be found or understood on the first “pass”, things that will happen as game-time passes, and consequences to party actions. I’ve got events/locations where what happens relates to particular days of the month, or how long before something happens after the party trigger a particular thing/event, detail on how creatures react to the players, whether some groups have friends or get reinforcements, etc.

Overall, I’ve put a lot of work into this (60-70 typed pages, plus maps and handouts, and lots of handwritten notes) and I’m having a lot of fun writing it. A week ago I wanted a fungus or lichen in a particular part of the dungeon – I now have 10 different “herbs” with type, preparation and effects to use, mostly drawn from MERP. I plan to expand this now that I’ve found that Paizo’s Ultimate Wilderness has more.

The second half of “level seven” awaits…