Nolzur’s not-so Marvelous Miniatures?

Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures – Wizards of the Coasts newish range of unpainted D&D figures. These look fantastic in all the sale images available. In most cases you get two 28mm figures at a low price, they appear to have a high level of detail, already primed and ready to paint. Each figure is made from a clear resin, they feel a bit firmer than reaper bones and the primer makes them easier to paint than bones figures are.

I often watch out for figures at a reasonable price to fill gaps in my collection. Two figures in particular: a medusa and a mind flayer have been previously released by Wizards and/or Paizo, but are almost impossible to get hold of. I noticed one of the online stores I buy from had what I wanted when I found the owl figures I recently painted. Getting packs with two different figures for both a medusa and the mind flayers was a great opportunity.

The actual product was slightly disappointing. I received five packs – a total of eight figures. I’m convinced that the promo images used to advertise/sell these images have either been – of production models used to create molds, greatly photo-shopped, and/or cleaned up of mold lines, etc, by an extremely talented person. Every figure had a lot of mold lines and/or flash to be trimmed or filed. This gets quite annoying when there’s a line running along two sides of every spider leg, along the long fingers of a mind flayer and on the snakes of the medusa’s hair. One of my mind flayers lost a finger while I tried to carefully cut out the “webbing” between his fingers. I haven’t been able to completely eradicate all the lines on some figures, but painting should hide a lot of that.

In the shot above, the male medusa has been cleaned up about as good as I can get him and had his face painted.

There’s no way I’m going to get the medusa snakes to resemble the painted images available, but thankfully after cleaning I’m happy with pretty much everything else about the figures. I’ve re-based most of them, since I don’t like the 1mm thick round plastic bases they come with. The level of detail is very high, if not as good as pictured, and one of my dwarf warriors might have been better if there wasn’t such a thick layer of primer on her face.

Ultimately – I’m looking forward to getting all these figures painted, and I will buy them again. I may think twice if the figure has any limbs or appendages that are long and thin.



FalsKrag Session 12 – Too many Orcs!

Our longest combat, and by far the nastiest of this campaign. Four of the characters knocked unconscious (one twice) in a twenty-eight round fight! Considering that the group was in almost constant difficulty, they are extremely lucky that a ‘severed hand’ was the worse anyone suffered (apart from being comatose) and that no-one was killed. There were fumbles on both sides of the table, but none of us has ever seen the run of natural 20’s I rolled for the orcs during the combat. The equipment recovered from the dead orcs was worth a considerable sum of money, but there was no magical items, and two restoration spells and a new wand of CLW took a chunk out of their funds.

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17th Harvester (continued):

Merxif uses his crystal skull and four orcs flee in fear out of the cave. The remaining two are quickly killed. Bacon moves to look around the corner of the western exit and is surprised by a waiting orc guard – who drops a burning torch into the very shallow pool of oil in which the dwarf is now standing. As flames and smoke obscure the passage, he backs up slightly. While he watches that direction, Hardaz looks east. He too sights an orc guard – who throws something at him. The tanglefoot bag explodes into sticky filaments that glue Hardaz to the corner. More of the party push past to attack the guard and the couple of orcs backing him up. As combat continues they observe more orcs in adjacent rooms immediately north, and further to the east. Bacon comes up to join the expanding fight in two rooms. A few of the new orcs are stronger and quite tough, striking hard with great swords. Merxif has one of his hands almost completely severed. He heals himself quickly, stopping the bleeding, but his hand is useless. The orcs, particularly with their ferocity which keeps them fighting where other creatures would fall senseless. Seldrel casts grease on the passage they entered by, having heard more orcs approaching. Two appear in the passage, but keep slipping and falling. (One eventually retreats and the other makes it out of the grease and is killed.) Both Merxif and Hardaz are knocked unconscious. Lanliss revives their cleric with a healing potion, who is soon after able to get Hardaz back on his feet. Lanliss tumbles behind the northern group of orcs and inflicts severe wounds before being knocked out cold himself. Hardaz moves to his aid, and Merxif finds himself alternating between selective channelling to heal most of the party, and cure spells to restore individuals. Lanliss gets up to fight again as more orcs arrive from the north and east. Seldrel casts web into the eastern passage and the room beyond, trapping a number of orcs. They are able to kill two at the front of the webbed area, but soon hear cries for fire to burn the web from those they can’t see. Bacon looses two fingers in the melee, and Lanliss drops a second time, then Summer. The group believes they have taken down two dozen orcs so far. The minutes long conflict has been extremely demanding, but thankfully no more orcs come from the north or west. Merxif casts a second Prayer as the first has run out, and Seldrel uses Blur from a wand on both himself and Hardaz. All but Seldrel are wounded; Lanliss is stable but still comatose.

The web burns through and the last few orcs emerge and are slowly defeated. The party heal as best they can, getting all on their feet again and start to scout the chambers. Some time later, heading west and north, they are ambushed twice by small groups of orcs. Eventually they reach a large room with many sets of double doors and a dead goblin. Lanliss detects a trap and everyone else pulls back. He disarms the triggers on each door that would release gas into the room and with effort opens each set of doors. All are false – bare stone behind them. They backtrack and locate a secret door. Lanliss cautiously moves up stairs at sights a long wide hall. There are railed ledges above each side and moving figures can be seen on them. He retreats and the group discuss tactics. The casters are out of spells, and their wand of cure light wounds is almost exhausted. Two party members have hand injuries that require treatment they can’t get here. Going back to town seems they best option. As they head back through the orcs rooms, they loot anything of value – mostly weapons. They are happy to have an undisturbed trip to Falsford, arriving late in the afternoon. On the way back though, each of the group realise that something has changed. Seldrel feels stronger, Lanliss more nimble, Winter tougher. While scanning for magic and trying to determine what has happened, Seldrel’s spell fails as he scans Merxif. The two of them soon work out that Merxif, and Summer too, have minor Spell Resistance.

18th Bacon and Merxif visit the Temple of Rao for restoration. The rest of the group sell equipment and make repairs to their gear. Hardaz is determined to have developed minor acid resistance.

Painting – Owls

For most of this year I’ve been looking out for an owl miniature to represent “Summer”, the owl companion of my wife’s hunter (a druid-ranger hybrid) in my Pathfinder campaign. Last month I noticed an “owl basing kit” on one of the website of one of my usual gaming suppliers. I got four owls from this, two of which are perfect for gaming. The remaining two owls are even smaller than the ones I’ve painted, so may never use them.

My wife wanted a bright coloured owl and I like to copy real life with my animal miniatures, so I used a picture of a great horned owl as my main reference.

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The larger owl has the feather tufts of the horned owl, and while the small owl doesn’t have them I’ve used the same paint scheme.

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White undercoat and brown ink to start, then a light yellow ochre over most of the body. More browns followed, each darker – burnt sienna, “expresso”, and burnt umber with some spots of black. White around the eyes, orange, then black pupils. The mottled effect on the feathers is better than I’d expected to get. Since I took photo’s I’ve also gone back and spotted a few dots of white down the neck/breast feathers.

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The larger owl is on a 25mm base. The actual figure from the kit is just the owl on the book – the rest I built to support it. I regret not getting the column flat on top, but I noticed that after everything was glued and I didn’t want to risk damaging anything pulling them apart. Thankfully its not so obvious just looking at the figure. For the flying owl, I’ve taken a stand from a Warhammer Quest giant bat. As it happens the giant bat has been a ‘stand in’ for the owl for quite some time. It’s really nice to have a proper figure for Summer on the board – this owl has a reputation in the game as much as any player character, which started in an early session where the owl took down a fleeing goblin all by itself.

The ‘owl basing kit’ came from HQ Resin.  I’d never heard of them before, but they have some very interesting pieces “for modelers and wargamers, who create stunning dioramas and wargaming tables. Ideal for use with 28mm-32mm scale models.” They have a varied range of product that includes some figures (mostly townsfolk and a great looking 32cm high earth titan), but is mostly “terrain”. [I have no affiliation with the company. I’m just very happy with my owls!]

FalsKrag Session 11 – Continuing exploration

A fun session with an assortment of creatures, traps and treasure recovered. They moved into a new area at the end of the session and used their resources well so they weren’t stuck behind walls getting shot at. The group’s wizard fumbled three spells over the evening. Thankfully (for the group) none of the results caused problems, but it was amusing to have a wolf suddenly learn a “grease” spell but have no way of casting it.

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10th Harvester: Near the southern edge of the mountain they encounter a small group of orcs. They are quickly beaten and the group head to Falsford. Loot from the hobgoblins means substantial funds for the group, and Seldrel crafts minor magical items for himself and Lanliss.

15th The group hire a cart, horse and driver, along with 5 porters and head back to the keep. Wolves attack them along the way, but are not much of a threat. At the keep, Bacon stays to guard the cart and driver, while everyone else heads quickly down to the Hall of the Gods and down to the lower level where they had left a chamber full of alchemical gear. The secret room is opened and equipment packed carefully into crates and brought up to the cart. Then a second trip down is made to the hobgoblin lair to bring out the remaining bulky trade goods. The group had planned to activate another statue in the Hall, but realise that all of the statues have changed – there are now twelve new deities, that include Gruumsh (greater god of the orcs), Garl Glittergold (head gnomish deity), two halflings and a kobold. Once again, Merxif and Seldrel sketch the statues, and note anything they recognise. Back in Falsford they have more goods to sell, and spend some time talking to people at the various temples and shrines in town to identify the new statues. Seldrel crafts a magical headband for Merxif.

17th Back to the Keep. At the Hall of the Gods, they activate the statue of Garl Glittergold and receive a Wand of Invisibility. Merxif and Winter receive some sort of blessing, but it seems to fade away after an hour without being activated. The party heads through the fungus caves and down to the next level. The stripped corpse of an orc lies at the base of the stairs. It appears to have been killed by the lightning trap. The acid trap around the corner has also been triggered. Lanliss locks down the pit in the passage and they all pass through the double doors into a wider hall. A side passage leads to two rooms – both with traps that have been triggered. There are small holes in the wall and dart heads scattered on the floor, then a fallen block of stone that has crushed a small humanoid. The main hall ends at a walled pool into which water falls from holes in the wall. Seldrel notes that the water in the pool (only) is magical and reads the Oeridean script engraved on the wall – “Avarrath’s Folly”. Lanliss climbs in and searches, locating a few copper and silver coins. Scratched on a side wall in common is “only once”. Seldrel drinks some of the water – his minor wounds heal and he feels more resilient. <temporary hps> Everyone else in the group eventually drinks and also feel tougher. There is a ledge above the pool and an adjacent cave that has some bone fragments and puddles of water. Seldrel scans it for magic and detects a faint aura from one of the puddles. The water filled hole contain a few gold coins and a ring of climbing. Moving northwards, the next cave is scattered with slightly polished bones, arrow heads and a few minor items of equipment – all metal. The next cave holds two brownish oozes that move forward to attack. Seldrel thinks that they are ochre jellies and that most weapons will divide them without causing harm. They focus magic on the oozes and then take a chance with a mace strike – bludgeoning weapons hurt them! The oozes die without inflicting much damage themselves. The group decides they are the reason for clean floors, polished bones, and metal scraps in the caves – everything organic has been “eaten”.

Continuing north, they find a wide long hall lined with statues – four pairs of human shaped statues, male and female. Inscriptions on the bases are ‘Baklunish’, ‘Flan’, ‘Oeridean’ and ‘Suloise’. Each pair is carved to resemble folk of that culture, in appearance and dress. As the party move slowly up through the hall, the third pair animate and attack. The stone is hard to damage, and they are resistant to all spells used against them, making it a slow and difficult fight. Once the statues crumble, their masterwork swords remain. The next large chamber is a dead end, and holds only three large carved rocks. Lanliss notes a raised gate at the entrance and takes the time to ensure it isn’t going to drop. He then finds a hidden trap door at the back on the chamber. Most of the group move in and examine the rocks while Lanliss carefully opens the trapdoor. Below is a large locked chest. He lifts the chest out carefully and realises it is trapped. Before he can do anything further, two wolves appear in the cave and attack. They are taken down very quickly and Lanliss realises he missed a magical summoning trap. He unlocks the chest and fails to disarm the gas trap – which leaves him feeling ill for a short time. The chest holds many coins (mostly silver), some gems, a magical cap and a blue crystal skull. The skull is carved from a single piece of crystal, about half the size of a human skull and after study Seldrel realises it can be used to cast fear once a day, and undeath to death once a week. Merxif claims it. One of the gems is a magical red garnet – a second “key” for the black gates.

They now head east where the next cave has its walls carved with demonic faces in various sizes. Orcish runes scratched on one wall state “bone lion” and has an arrow points towards a tunnel that descends northwards. A short flight of narrow steps rises to the south and a third passage heads north-east. The group follow this emerging in a high cave with loose stones. Lanliss finds an arrow carved in one wall with the word “exit” pointing north towards a narrowing northward passage. Hardaz is struck by a falling piercer – a stalactite shaped creature. He is able to pull it free as a second drops near Lanliss. Both a killed and the group heads north. The passage soon becomes narrower and slopes upward. High slanting sides suggest the passage is a fissure in the rock, and climbing Is required at two points. Eventually the ground flattens out again and emerges into two caves. The first has a tripwire that Seldrel observes is attached to a rock that would drop onto a shield. The stone of the floor is becoming smooth and worn and the second cave has six foot high wooden barricades running thirty feet across it. Faint voices can be heard behind the barriers, but the language isn’t clear. As they discuss what to do, Lanliss suspects they have been detected. The group casts a few spells to assist them – fly in particular and a prayer. Arrows shoot out at them as the group fly over, climb or jump up the barricades. There are six orcs on the other side. Merxif uses his skull and four flee in fear out of the cave. The remaining two are quickly killed.

FalsKrag Session 10 – A Hobgoblin Lair

I don’t recall us spending any less time than usual role-playing this time. The two main combats in this session were quite long, (the first being lasting about 12 rounds) and the last part of the session being searching the 20+ rooms for loot – so the adventure summary isn’t all that long. The rogue had his second brush with death – saved by some quick thinking by the players and a good roll on a little used skill (sleight of hand). I don’t want to kill any characters at this time (especially not at such a low level), and I’d prefer the players to think of a solution rather than me have to fudge a roll to help them out. Once they get higher in level (and have more money), if a bad decision endangers a character, then it’s their risk.

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9th Harvester: The hobgoblins respond quickly as some of the party enter their chamber and engage them. There are noises in the distance that suggest an alert being raised. More hobgoblin males enter an adjacent chamber and the group starts to spread out. Seldrel sights a small group at the back of the storeroom that must have used the unexplored side passage. He casts web trapping all of them. He hears some calling “fire”, so doubts that it will hold them for long. The main group push forward into a large room with two other exits. Hobgoblins enter from both. Seldrel webs half the room trapping many here and the group does their best to strike down those on the edge of the web. Merxif and Seldrel hear enemies coming through the storeroom again and manage to hold the second room using magic. It is a long fight, but in the parties favour. Eventually no more hobgoblins enter the fight and the group has a chance to heal.

Moving east through a kitchen and sleeping chambers they find a few guards standing in a wide entrance hall to the lair – daylight can be seen at the other end. Lanliss and Hardaz enter and quickly take down the hobgoblins, but an ogre charges down the hall and knocks Lanliss unconscious. A hobgoblin enters from the other side of the hall and starts to drag Lanliss away. Merxif is able to focus his healing energy to bring Lanliss back to consciousness, and the rogue uses sleight of hand to drink a potion of invisibility and evades his captors. As the ogre goes down, Lanliss reaches Merxif for a more substantial heal and the group fight the new attackers entering the hall. A bigger tougher looking hobgoblin runs towards the cave entrance, but veers off into a side chamber. Winter gives chase, and narrowly avoids falling down a hidden pit. Once the hobgoblins are defeated, Lanliss disarms the pit (locking it closed) and they move down looking for the hobgoblin leader. A dire wolf waits with the leader and another short but nasty fight ensues.

There is some healing while the group start to make their way back through the cave lair. No more opponents remain, and they start to loot bodies and search chambers for treasure. A secret room holds money, scrolls, potions, gems and metal ingots. The group decide to barricade themselves in one of the sleeping chambers and get a proper nights rest. The next morning the scout the remainder of the lair and realise that a few areas have had food and possessions removed during the night. All the hobgoblins fought have been male, and they suspect some females and young have escaped. There are some goods from the storeroom that are too bulky to carry, and they decide to return for them later. One of the rooms yielded a drawing of the mountains – they can see on it the location of the nearby towns, Fals Hold, and a few extra places marked in goblin. They translate to “orcs”, “dwarf mine” and “dragon”. They exit the lair eastwards into what seems to be a deep cleft in the southern side of the mountain, and make their way down the hillside into the valley.

The firbolg – A Celtic Giant?

In medieval Irish myth, the Firbolg were descended from the ‘Muintir Nemid’, an earlier group who abandoned Ireland and went to different parts of Europe. Those who went to Greece became the Firbolg and eventually returned to the now-uninhabited Ireland. After ruling it for some time, they were overthrown by the invading Tuatha Dé Danann.

First appearing in D&D in the Monster Manual II (1983) the firbolg is a reclusive giant that prefers to avoid contact with other races. Among their own kind, they live in colonies, which are usually found in forests or caverns and watched by guard towers. Firbolgs resemble humans, though much larger, and men sport great, thick beards.

This figure is a TSR – Ral Partha (1989) metal one piece figure, 11-419. I bought it decades ago along with a Hill Giant and Fire Giant from the same range. I sold the other two giants a few years back. They were good sculpts, but much too small. The fire giant was about the same size as this guy, but should be nearly twice as tall. This figure is at the right scale. It’s taken me much too long to remember it and actually decide to paint it.

Painting it was pretty easy. It’s a good sculpt with nice detail, but its simple in that there’s only the animal fur/skin, belt, boots and sword. It has a good size rectangular base, which attached well to a 50mm round base, and I added some stone to fill it out a little more. The first two images are a bit brighter than they should be – the animal fur is rather darker in normal light.

For a size comparison, here’s the Firbolg next to a WotC pre-painted Hill Giant and a post-painted Citadel Dwarf.