Saturday, 4 October 2014
Tales of Darkwood – Ragnar Blodsärk and His Men
And now for something completely different.
As I mentioned in another post I lost a bit of my painting mojo over the summer. I don't know if it was the slow progress of the Italian Wars project or just general painting fatigue. However, after some serious surfing on various blogs and particularly the fantastic Lead Adventure forum, I found my inspiration slowly being reinvigorated: I was going to do a fantasy skirmish project.
You see, I'm a bit of a fantasy buff. Ever since I laid eyes on that fantastic map in The Hobbit, I've been hooked on imaginary worlds and made up languages. It's a genre with lots (and lots!) of crap for sure, but in the hands of say a LeGuin, a Tolkien or a Leiber there's nothing quite like it.
I already have some experience with the excellent Song of Blades and Heroes rules from Ganesha Games, and they fit this project perfectly. A standard war band numbers some 8–12 models, which meant I could paint it up pretty fast and still spend some time on conversions etc without it getting overwhelming.
As for the background and setting, the "fluff" if you like, I was very inspired by the newly released Swedish pen-and-paper RPG Symbaroum, which centers around a vast brooding forest, harboring strange remnants of a former empire. So shamelessly stole this idea and adapted it to a (short) campaign: various groups searching a spooky forest for strange artifacts and clashing with each other and the mysterious guardians of the woods. And so "Tales of Darkwood" was born – the name of the forest obviously being an homage to the old Fighting Fantasy book "Forest of Doom".
After presenting the idea to my mate Dalauppror, he immediately responded: "So when do we play?" He was keen to use one of his war bands from an older project, which would fit perfectly for what I had in mind. He also had some custom built terrain we could use.
My own idea for a war band was a tribe of "barbarians" that's been living on the brink of the forest, but never venturing into it because of old taboos. Now however, with the arrival of explorers and missionaries from a southern kingdom, they are desperate to find ways to battle the newcomers and thus enters the forbidden woods in search of something to help them in their fight.
The models are a mix of Ancient Germans from Foundry (the riders) and Black Tree Design, together with an old Citadel wizard. I did some simple conversions on some of the riders. I sculpted fur cloaks over the regular cloaks on two of them, and the leader got an imposing spiked mace from a GW Chaos Marauder. The wizard/shaman I left as he was, as it's such a fantastic model full of that old school charm I'm so fond of. I really dig these old Citadel miniatures, and after finishing my first proper "Oldhammer" miniature I certainly have an itch to do more of them!
As the leader got a red shirt I decided to name him Ragnar Blodsärk ("Blood shirt"). Simple and straight forward, just like Ragnar himself I imagine.
I choose to use some Pagan Rus shield transfers I had laying around. In part to give the models a bit of a different "non-western dark ages"-look, but also to add some colour to the miniatures.
For the bases I wanted to try some new toys and experiment with a new look. I went for the thick moss of the forest floor, together with thick underbrushes with a slightly alien feel. I think the red leaves work particularly well against all the green on the bases, and the slightly muted colours of the miniatures.
And no, the irony is not lost on me – even when I decide to do a fantasy project all my miniatures look like they belong in the Dark Ages ... Sigh.
I'm now in the process of finishing some terrain pieces for this project, and of course I'm looking at doing another war band or two! These projects have a habit of getting out of control once you start.
Hopefully I'll be able to get a game or two with Ragnar and his men before the new baby arrives.
As always – thanks for reading and I hope you'll all have a great weekend!