Zombicide: Black Plague – Painting Abominations (Part one)

It’s taken me a week (multiple attempts, time and lighting) to get a good set of photographs. The painting itself was over three or four weeks and has been some of the most enjoyable miniature painting that I’ve done. The largest figure is about 90mm high, making a wonderful change from trying to get detail on something like a 20mm halfling. I had a good idea of colour schemes for these figures – mostly following the published images/cards/rulebook. Most of them got used in a game before I’d finished everything and they’ve had plenty of favourable comments from friends over the last month. They’ve all had two solid coats of clear acrylic since I expect to continue playing Zombicide fairly often – and the figures get a lot of handling.

 

“A dire rat can grow up to 4 feet long…” (D&D 3.5 Monster Manual) By scale, this guy stands 13 feet high.

The first figure I really started with was the Abominarat and I had a ball! If I had spent that much time on anything previously I would have been really tired of the painting and just wanted to finish and get it out of the way.

I started with a base coat of flesh, then started building up the fur and trying a few different colours to bring out the skin folds, spikes, lumps, etc. Brown ink shading (I’m so happy to have been introduced to Army Painter Quickshade – thanks Azazel) darkened everything and brought out some of the detail. I slightly prefer the lighter flesh tones on most of the rat that I had before the quickshade, but to highlight most of the skin back to something lighter was too much work. I highlighted some of the fur and went on with pinks and yellows for all the growths, then spikes, teeth, eyes, etc. The ‘rat was impressive on the game board simply because of it’s size – with colour it really stands out now – as do the other abominations.

 

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Abominarat – Rear view

 

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Side view… I don’t think he has a “good” side.

 

As well as looking through my rulebooks & leaflets, I spent some time browsing the internet to see what other people had done and watched some YouTube painting video’s. There’s some very good stuff around. I’ve kept images of most of the abominations, necromancers and survivors to use as a guide. It’s easier to load an image on a screen than be peering at a card while painting.

 

You really don’t want both of these on the board at once…

I thought the wolfbominations (I’ve got two) might be easier to paint than most of the other minis so they came next. One wolf was base coated in light grey (mid grey fur) and the other in mid grey (dark brown/black fur) – and that’s most of the work done. White on ribs and teeth, a dark pink/red for exposed flesh and around the mouth, touched up after ink shading with bright red. A little bit of highlighting on the limbs, black on nose and claws and fluoro orange in the eyes. A little extra red for blood near teeth and on the raised claw.

 

Side and rear view

They came out very well, and I’ll use the same principles to paint all 24 of my wolfz later. They are already undercoated, and will be good to see how I go with a large group of multiple similar figures. I’m considering three base colours – light grey, mid grey and light brown. I don’t plan on painting all the general zombies (walkers, runners, fatties) but the wolf abominations were fairly quick and the zombie wolfz should be too. Plus, I don’t have any wolf figures in my general D&D miniatures collection and if I don’t paint the exposed flesh of some of the wolfz they can double as normal wolves in other games.

 

Now when they turn around, everyone hide!

 

Next post: standard abominations and the blob.

Painting: Citadel Dwarven Trollslayers

It’s nice when free time, good weather and the desire to paint can all happen at the same time! I completed this pair of dwarves yesterday and they are outside drying after a spray coat of varnish. This now means I’ve reached having about 99% of my hero/adventurer figures (human, elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling) painted. It leaves a lot of “monster” humanoids to go.

 

A pair of troll-slayers ready for battle!

 

I bought these two together in a blister pack to use in Warhammer Quest a long time ago. (One of Azazel’s posts dates them to the early 90’s.) They are Citadel warhammer metal figures and they have a nice pose and reasonable detail. I didn’t go for anything fancy, just simple colours.

 

Dwarves – about face!

 

My next painting project is Zombicide – Black Plague. I’d undercoated a bunch of figures a month or two ago. While I didn’t get to start painting, the white has helped the necromancers stand out on the game board from the general zombies. I started painting flesh last night and should do more today. I’m aiming to paint the necromancers and the full range of abominations. Later, I’ll also start to paint the survivors.

 

I don’t want to see all of these on the board at the same time!

 

After painting my black orc recently, I really would like to paint a set of orcs. While unlikely to see use as army units, they do get used as NPC’s and in small groups in my D&D games. I’m sure that all my orcs (about thirty) are Citadel Warhammer figures, from a few different sets over a short space of years. There’s some variety of pose and equipment, but they have a uniform look. I really like the idea of painting a group of miniatures all with a very similar (or the same) colour scheme – as opposed to the very different work that all my unique heroes and adventurers have required.

Painting: A few more adventurers…

I finished these three a while ago and I’d have two dwarves done as well if I hadn’t spent most of the last week with an annoying cold. I’ve spent most of my time reading or watching TV, or simply going to bed early. I’m determined to get the dwarves completed this weekend!

 

Wizard, Sorceress, Barbarian

These three figures are all from very different sources.

  1. Citadel Wizard – Plastic figure from Warhammer Quest. I finished the elf and barbarian from the same set two months ago, having done the dwarf warrior nearly three years ago! I wanted bright colours for this mini and had a lot of fun painting it. The staff originally had a very large ornate top with “wings” that I thought was way over the top, so I cut it back to something much simpler.
  2. Reaper Bones – “Juliette, Female Wizard”. This was my first ever bones figure and I’m happy to do a few more after this. I’ve seen other paints of this figure and if I have some time, a very fine brush and a steady hand I’ll come back and do some touch ups to bring out the vest/belts detail more. By the looks of things there is slightly better detail on the metal version of this figure. My figure also suffers slightly from a not well shaped hand (extended) and a face that’s not smoothly formed – apparently common problems to this miniature. The hand once painted looks okay, and with a knife and file I was able to smooth out the face a little – at least the fault isn’t obvious unless you hold the figure up close.
  3. Barbarian – I don’t recall the manufacturer of this metal figure. I’ve had it for a very long time. It’s a nice pose and reasonable detail. The figure is a bit smaller/thinner than the majority of my figures, so he looks like a “young” male, rather than the typical brawny adult.

 

Rear view

 

Coming soon… my two Citadel Warhammer dwarves… mostly weapons and jewellery to be finished.

Phantasm Chasm – Upgrading an old AD&D adventure

Phantasm Chasm is a 1st edition AD&D adventure released in Dungeon #14 back in November 1988. I bought a fair number of issues between 1988 and 1993 and have used quite a number of the adventures over the years since. (It’s also become easy to track down digital copies to fill the gaps in my collection.) Even now, I can go back and find something I haven’t run before that can easily be updated to 3.5 or Pathfinder.

This adventure and the next one (for a later blog post) are both set in mountainous terrain and involve bandits and ambushes – just the sort of gaming set-up I wanted. I devised some mini adventures to lead into the two main ones and thought the mostly single session parts would be a welcome change from the sprawling adventure my group has spent the last five years completing. (What happened to those days when we might play four times a week?) Off-topic: I’ve updated my 3.5 Campaign page to cover the recent D&D sessions we have played, including this one.

The introduction: The characters discover the body of a man at the edge of the road. Apparently a mountain hunter or trapper, he has been stripped on anything of value and an orcish sword is still stuck in the corpse. Tracks lead to four more human corpses and a dead orc. All weapons and other valuables have been taken. At least a dozen humanoids of medium size have moved around the bodies and headed into the hills.

The background: Two illusionists (6th and 8th level) have almost taken over a tribe of 30 bugbears and convinced them that attacking adventurers can be more profitable than waylaying travellers, merchants or attacking villages. They have raided a tribe of orcs and captured some mountain hunters – using them to set up fake ambush sites along the main trails and roads through a mountain pass. Within a box canyon, they have what appears to be a small orcish camp. If the bugbears placed to watch the trails sight anyone approaching, one of the illusionists flies over them (invisibly) to see if they are worthwhile targets. A dozen orcs sit or stand around a fire near some ramshackle huts, while the illusionists and bugbears use the huts, massmorph and invisibility 10’ radius to hide in ambush.

Alterations: Originally designed for a party of about 6th level, I wanted to convert it to 3.5 D&D and make it interesting for a 12th level party. I changed the NPC’s to a 8th Sorcerer and a 9th Wizard (Illusionist) and the standard Bugbear warriors to 1st Fighter/1st Rogues. The two bugbear leaders and chief got a few extra Fighter levels. A wand of invisibility and a couple of castings of Invisibility Sphere meant I had hidden bugbears that weren’t likely to be noticed before they attacked.

I wasn’t expecting the 28 bugbear warriors to be particularly challenging after their initial surprise attack. With only a +7 morningstar attack they were only going to hit most of the party with very good rolls, but 35 hit points meant they weren’t going to be knocked down by a single blow from a PC. Essentially the adventure starts out with a few surprises for the party, but you could say the ambushers learn they have “bitten off more than they could chew”. Both casters were meant to be more effective, with defensive magic like blur, mirror image and shield (plus stoneskin for the wizard) combined with offensive spells (blast of force, darkbolt, confusion, friend to foe, shadow binding, etc). [In the original, the casters had little more than chromatic orb, colour spray and hypnotic pattern.]

The sprawling canyon on table-top

In first and second edition D&D I doubt that many people thought about the scale of maps in the adventures they were using. For third edition, with miniatures playing a big part, the size of the canyon map in Dungeon came as a shock when I started to look at actually presenting it as a battle-map. It’s approx 140 feet across and 260 feet long. The final product (1” = 5 feet) is composed of 20 sheets of A4 paper – thankfully we were playing on a large table!

The D&D Session: Thankfully my players started off by doing exactly what I wanted of them – they investigated the bodies and followed the trail. They moved up to the trees at the edge of the canyon and made a few minor preparations. Their wizard (invisible and flying) looked into the canyon, noted the orcs and even looked at the huts – spoting figures inside them. The group decided they might be captives and so the wizard put a maximised fireball into the middle of the orcs, aiming to not to hit the huts. He was quite surprised when all the orcs were vaporised. (5 hp doesn’t go very far.) Most of the other players moved in and the bugbears in the huts came out. This is when the cleric realised how big the area was and found she couldn’t cast beneficial spells on the spread out party all at once. Then the invisible bugbears started to pop-up around the party members away from the central melee, flanking in most cases. The two enemy casters begin to throw spells, and unluckily (for me) one failed a save vs a disintegrate spell and was gone. The other, like most of the bugbears lasted a few rounds more.

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In Summary: It was a fun session – more interesting than a straight out fight. The players had to think a bit more than normal, more movement (not a 5’ step to another opponent each round) and certainly not the situation they had expected. If I was to do it again, I go with one of two options: 1. Less bugbears with more fighter levels to give them a better chance of hitting, or 2. Use a different humanoid with more HD, like Harpies or Minotaurs.

ZBP: Wulfsburg and a Knight’s Pledge

I spent the first six months of this year steadily working through the original quests of Zombicide: Black Plague. Win or lose, it was great fun playing the different Survivors and trying out equipment. The only problem: I was having trouble waiting for a greater selection of Survivors!

July: I received a large box with my Wulfsburg expansion and a hoard of extras. I couldn’t believe that people had been whining about how long it took to get this. People were saying they would never support the company again and that they would have been better keeping their money and buying Wulfsburg in a retail store. Okay – some people got Wulfsburg after retail shops did – but for the price of the Wulsfburg expansion, I got ALL THIS, plus dice and a nifty dice tower:

ZBP: Wulfsburg & Knight pledge extras

Okay, the doors are extra, but you should get the point – it was worth the wait. (By the way – the doors look great on the table, and I’ve also been using them for D&D. With all the cards I’ve got, I wish I had a card holder set too.)

The quality of the figures and parts is still excellent. The SIZE of the new abominations is incredible. One of the first things I did was buy a plastic box to keep figures in. Now everything else for the game fits in the original Zombicide: Black Plague box. I’ve got a fabric shopping bag with long handle to carry the two boxes around.

 

A box of 197 figures!

The extra survivors are great fun to use and add a lot more variety to game-play. Some skills are much more useful than others. We choose survivors at random for a game. (If I’m playing two survivors I randomly take three cards and pick the two of those that I want to play.) The new equipment is great – interesting and diverse. The “magic items” just can’t be discarded – you’ll want to hang on to them until you reach the right danger level. (Eg: Storm Bow, range 1-3, 3 dice, hit 3+, 1 damage. Roll 6 and +1 die.) The new cards about double what you started with and this means it can take a lot more searching to find torches and dragon bile. This is balanced by weapons that can either light dragon bile or be discarded for dragon fire. There’s also a vault artefact (Heavy crossbow) and a magic weapon (Vampire crossbow) that do 3 damage.

 

The rats sure grow big around here!

We finished the last two Wulfsburg quests on Sunday, with one restart. I felt the Wulfsburg quests weren’t as well balanced as the originals and we found some to be easy/medium rather than medium/hard difficulty. That could simply be the randomness of the game and my spawn deck.

We haven’t tried any of the alternate Necromancers (two standard Necros on the board at one time is dangerous enough so far), and my spawn deck currently includes nearly all NPCs, all wolfz, and 2 cards each of Ablobination & Abominarat. I think we have reached a stage where I could throw in an Alpha and Minotaur/Troll. Using all the NPCs makes for an easy game, since most of your spawns (regardless of danger level) become walkers, so I feel those cards need to be balanced with wolfz and abominations.

 

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Who’s got the Dragon Bile???

I’m really looking forward to painting the abominations. I also want to try a game where we throw a bit of everything into the spawn deck and just see what happens. I think we’ll play through the two campaigns next, then maybe go back to some of the original quests and make them harder with extra spawn cards.

Overall, this has been a fantastic kickstarter. I’m thrilled with the quality of the product, the amount of stuff I received and the game play itself. Thank you CMoN and Guillotine Games!

Back to the Blog

It’s been nearly three months since I posted anything! I’ve been busy on an assortment of things but just haven’t got around to posting any details. Here’s a summary of what’s kept me busy in my spare time and I’ll follow this up with more detailed posts on each subject.

  1. My custom-made d20 Gamma World got a play-test session that went very well. I then spent probably two weeks adding the d20 Modern Classes in, and expanding my feats and class abilities. I’d previously adapted two of the Modern classes to fill gaps that my four base classes (from WotC/Sword & Sorcerys d20 version) didn’t cover, but I’ve now scrapped those two in favour of the whole six base modern classes. This also meant reworking the original four. That’s all pretty much done now. I’m impatient to move on to mutations.
  2. My 3.5 D&D campaign has moved on following the dramatic conclusion to the Giants – Demonweb saga. I’d picked out two adventures from old Dungeon magazines and reworked them to suit the current party level. This also gave me the idea for two short adventures to start the party off in the right direction. We’ve played four session now I think and they are halfway through the main Dungeon adventure.  The aftermath of the giant invasion of Sterich has meant that most of the patrols and troops around Keoland are reduced in size and frequency and this has led to greater numbers of thieves and bandits preying on merchants and travellers. The party has been travelling around the southern border of Keoland trying to draw attacks, as well as escorting a fake merchant caravan.
  3. Zombicide – Black Plague: I received my Knights Pledge and Wulfsburg packs at the beginning of July. After six months of irregular games with only six survivors it was fantastic to suddenly have fifty to choose from. I have close to 200 figures now! My wife has been really enjoying this and in the last three weeks we have gone through the second half of the original quests and most of the Wulfsburg ones. I really want to finish painting the figures on my desk and get onto painting necromancers and abominations!
  4. Miniature painting: I’ve had ten figures on my desk since February. I’ve now completed four and done more with the rest.

I’ve been reading a lot, watched a few movies and played some of my usual online games. The ‘Legion’ invasion prelude for World of Warcraft got a bit of attention over the last month, but now that Legion has launched I don’t see myself doing much on WoW until Christmas. I’m always at least one release behind and I only play seriously (paying for a months subscription) once or twice a year. Most of what I was busy with last time was Cataclysm/Pandaria related.

Here’s my most recently completed miniatures. These are all Citadel figures, collected when I was playing Warhammer Quest. The Orc was very overdue to be finished – he was originally undercoated and had his armour mostly done 18 months ago! I should do a little bit more with the Elf – ink on the cloak brought out the edges, but should be cleaned up slightly.

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Citadel Black Orc and Halfling Thief

 

Orc and Halfling – Rear View

 

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Elf and Barbarian – Front

 

Elf and Barbarian – Rear

D&D Resources – Condition and Spell Cards

I’m involved in two high level D&D campaigns. In the one where I’m a player it’s not unusual to be in the middle of an major battle and have all of the party (5 Players and 3 NPC’s) affected by our Bard’s Inspire Courage, Haste, Bless, Prayer, etc. If someone fails a save and is dazzled/shaken/sickened, etc – how do you keep track of all the bonuses and penalties that apply to a character? What bonuses stack with each other?

I looked around at “Condition” cards available and wasn’t satisfied with what was available. I found that, regardless of price or quality, it seemed that either not all the conditions or buffs that most players would want were part of the set, or you only got one of each card. In the end I made my own – then I did a second set that covered the main spells that were being cast in our campaigns.

 

Conditions

My cards are 55 x 85mm, just a little smaller than standard card size. I print them out on an A4 sheet, laminate them and cut them out. I’ve also used different colour paper to distinguish the two sets.
I generally have two of each of the conditions and about four each of anything that could affect all the party. Not everyone needs to have their own card – but each player should be able to see them. [Note: The cards in the image above are from an early set and bonuses to “Attack” now read “Attack rolls” to be clearer.]

I’m making them available to anyone else who wants to use them, in two formats. The PDF’s are great to print as is; the Word files are good if you want to print extra copies of individual cards, or want to use mine as a template to create your own cards. These work with both 3.5 and Pathfinder – if there is a difference in rules, then there’s a separate card for each system.

The “Condition” set contains one each of: Ability Damaged, Ability Drained, Baleful Polymorph, Blinded, Confused, Cowering, Dazed, Dazzled, Deafened, Disabled, Dying, Energy Drained, Enlarged, Entangled, Exhausted, Fascinated, Fatigued, Frightened, Grappled, Helpless, Incorporeal, Invisible, Nauseated, Panicked, Paralysed, Prone, Reduced, Shaken, Sickened, Slowed, Staggered, & Stunned.
The “Spell” set contains one each of: Aid, Bless, Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Divine Favour, Divine Protection, Fireshield, Good Hope, Hasted, Mage Armor, Mirror Image, Prayer, Righteous Wrath, Shield, & Shield of Faith (+2 to +4). It also includes Bard performances: Inspire Courage (+1 to +4), Inspire Greatness, Countersong, Dirge of Doom, Fascinate, Frightening Tune, & Soothing Performance. Not all of these spells have “bonuses” to a character, but they are handy reminders that you have that spell active and what it does.

Download them from my RPG Resources page!