Coquina shoggoth

Among a bunch of shells of various sizes in our craft supplies I noticed a small piece of rock with tons of embedded mollusk shells. I rhought at first that it might be some kind of coral, but a little Google image searching led me to conclude it is more probably coquina, a kind of limestone consisting mostly of shells. I was initially thinking about using it for a base for a mermaid I was painting but it looked so irregular and gross that I realized it would make a much better Shoggoth. The coiled shells and holes suggested pseudopods and a bubbling chaos of mouths, eyes, and appendages.

The eyes are just beads I glued on and painted, and the mouths are formed from breaks in the shells. I just picked out teeth in white along the edges. The whole thing is washed with maroon, with additional brown washes in deeper crevices, then roughly  drybrushed with pink and white. The “mouths” had more maroon added to deepen their color. The whole thing took barely any time; I wish I had more of the stuff.  It will serve as a small shoggoth or gibbering mouther.

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Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Treasure

treasures1

Treasure chest miniatures are usually worth using, but I am not so sure about loose piles of treasure.  The problem is that usually show some explicit items — swords, helmets, scrolls, whatever — and your literal-minded players (who have perhaps been conditioned/spoiled by the fact that I often can throw out a mini that exactly mirrors what I described) assume that they are there in the treasure.  Even so, I have acquired or made some loose piles for variety.

Here’s a pretty humble treasure pile, I think from Reaper:

reaper-treasure-pile

Here are a couple of loose piles of gold coins (in this case glitter) with some random objects.

glitter

On the left, a crude scroll made of paper, a buckler from a 1/72 Italieri Saracen, a sword from a Rafm customizable fighter kit, and a tiny twig standing in for a magic wand. On the right, a wooden bead “urn”, a plastic Skaven shield, the helm from an MPC AD&D orc, another wand, and a pebble. The coins are gold glitter.

Next up some gold bars.

bars

These came in a Grenadier Champions set, but the pile of gold bars mini was in production for a really long time — all the way back to their Wizzards & Warriors days, at least.

These chests see a fair amount of use. The one on the far right was the “open” chest from the Grenadier AD&D Thieves set, but for reasons I can barely fathom now, I closed the chest, filing off the treasure that was in it.  For a while the chest was part of a portable war altar for a Warhammer army. The other two chests are plastic pieces from a “Weapons & Warriors” game.

chests

The big hoard of gold is another plastic piece from the MPC AD&D set. It is a pretty accurate but scaled down copy of the treasure pile that the Grenadier dragon lair had.

hoard

Lastly, a pair of golden urns and a pretty bitchen dragon idol, both scratch built by a friend I haven’t heard from in a while. (I hope all is well, Scottsz!)

idol+urns

I dig the candles on the idol quite a bit. The urns are wooden beads, and the dragon idol appears to be some wooden blocks with a tiny metal dragon on it. I’m guessing he used Testors enamel paint to get that smooth, shiny gold effect.

Published in: on March 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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Flail snails again

Some time ago I made the flail snail on the right; more recently I made a second, more naturalistic flail snail.

flailsnails

Click to embiggen … at your peril!

 

The new one, on the left, has a real seashell for its shell (lightly washed with dark brown), and the body is made of polymer clay.  The flails were also polymer clay, formed around some florist wire so they’d be less likely to break, and to give them an easy way to attach.  The older one, on the right, has a shell from a cheap plastic animal, a body of epoxy putty, and the flails are wire with mace-heads from cheap plastic knight toys.

flailsnails-2

While I have no doubt that others have made their own flail snail minis (this lovely one came up early in a GIS), I do find it odd that no miniatures company ever made them.  They hardly require much skill, though I guess as one of the infamously “dumbest monsters of D&D” lists, and an example of what’s so terrible about the Fiend Folio,  the poor flail snail is subject to too much ridicule to get a fair break.

Published in: on September 27, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (6)  
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An elf and I don’t know what

So here’s the elf from the Milton Bradley/GW Heroquest game.  I originally painted him a god ten or twelve years ago, but did his hair grey, which ended up looking very blue.  All that timehe’s been a bench-warmer.  No-one wanted use a blue haired elf as thier PC, and I really can’t blame them.  so finally I repainted his hair as blonde, and maybe someone will put him in, coach!

heroquest-elfIf I had another copy of this figure, I’d definitely give him a pointed cap, like Zelda.

The other thing I photographed is a column I made out of Sculpy a while back.  I keep buying bricks of Sculpy and thinking I’ll do a bunch of cool terrain or monsters and instead I let my daughter make koalas and stuff out of it.   But one time we both worked on projects and I decided to make a sun and moon idol.  I think I was definitely plagarizing John Blanche’s moon faces from his GW work.  I’m not quie sure what I’ll do with this; it could be an idol used by humanoids, or the ancients; it could equally well be some sort of magical trick or trap.

The sunny side

The sunny side

An angry moon

An angry moon

pillar-sideThe nice thing about stuff like this is takes almost no time to paint.  Just a bunch of dry-brushing over black paint.

 

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Myconids

A while back I picked up a couple of loose myconids made by Wizards of the Coast.  They are nice and just a little creepy:

I decided I really needed a lot more than two myconids if I’m ever going to use them for D&D.  So, I decided to make a few more out of Sculpy, and while I was at it, made some giant mushrooms to go with them.

The mushrooms were easy.  I had recently been reading a kid’s book about mushrooms to my daughter, who was very interested in them last summer and fall, and it had some nice color photos for reference.  They were all glued down to small (3/4 inch or so) glass tiles left over from one of her craft projects.  This gives them a fairly heavy base and makes them stable.

The myconids turned out to be a little trickier, because I learned that Sculpy gets sort of soft in the over before it hardens.  Next time I’ll try ‘Super Sculpy,’ or at least use an armature.  I didn’t mind my myconids being a little simpler and even cartoonish, since I was whipping them out pretty fast (all the ‘shrooms and ‘nids were done in about an hour, plus baking time).

My first one has a very silly look and reminds me of the ‘blob fish’ or maybe a McDonaldland burger dude.

For most of them I went with a face more like the WotC minis.  I think these guys look a bit like the dancing shrooms in Fantasia, now that I think of it:

This guy was the skinniest myconid and completely fell apart in the oven, after slowly drooping, so the best I could do to save him was to make him crawling:

The Myconids are mounted on steel washers or electrical box punch-outs I scavenged, and these are equally good as ballast.

Published in: on March 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm  Comments (6)  
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The eyes have it

These will haunt the Panopticon.  One idea is give them a stunning gaze; another is to make each one have the power of one of a beholder’s eyes.  Not sure how I’ll do this.  I like the idea of flying eyes that can’t actually harm you on their own, but I also like the idea of, say, eleven of these creeps, each with the power of one of a beholder’s eyes, collectively comprising the big bad of a dungeon, adventure, or even a campaign.   It would be a nasty surprise if the party assumes that the power of the first one they encounter is the only thing these things do, and then later they find out they’re all different.  (The ‘traditional’ beholder eye rays: disintegrate objects, transmute flesh to stone, cause sleep, slow the motion of objects or beings, charm animals, charm humans, cause death, induce fear, levitate objects, and inflict serious wounds; plus the central eye does an anti-magic cone).   Maybe 11 need to assemble, like Anime robots, into a giant beholder… or maybe all flying eyes just roll for their special ray…They are made from some old wet-set clay I had laying around; the wings are from rubber monsters I got on clearance at a party supply store.

They’re pretty big — the bases are 40×40 mm, the size I use for “large” creatures like trolls.

Their asses.  I considered adding an “optic nerve” tail but was too lazy.  Maybe the next batch will have tails.

Published in: on February 15, 2012 at 9:00 am  Comments (8)  
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The Panopticon bestiary

A silly theme for eye-monsters for the “Panopticon” dungeon I described earlier has really inspired me lately.  I don’t know if I’ll use it in Telengard, but making or modifying the minis is fun.

<update: all have appeared at various times in the Telengard campaign, and also in my OPD 2012 entry!>

Anyway I already have some beholders and cyclopes; why not add a few lower-level minions?

Here’s a preview of some of the more common monsters in the Panopticon, along with a very photogenic cyclops:

Lookin' kind of rough for the paladin.

Hawkwind’s “The watcher” (sung by Lemmy Kilmister, and later covered by his band Motörhead too) helps set the mood.

We are looking in on you now
What do you think you can do now
You’re very small from way out here
The last thing you will feel is fear
I gave you the chance to do the right thing
I gave you the chance to do the bright thing
Now our sense is all disgusted
Re-affirm you can’t be trusted
A world imprisoned screams with pain
There are no leaders you can blame
Your avarice has destroyed your sphere
And there’s no room for you out here
This is the end now. This is the end now. This is the end now.

Cyclopskin

No. appearing: 2d6 (10-40); HD: 3; AC: 15 [6]; Attack: weapon (d10), horn (d8) or grapple; Move: 9″; Save: as F3

These brutes serve as guards and thugs.  They attack with large weapons, although some have a single rhino-like horn they can use in melee ( and charge for double damage).  They sometimes attempt to mob and grapple victims in order to capture and carry them off.

Eyebats

No. appearing: 2d4; HD 1/4; AC 18 [2]; attack: gaze; Move: 24″ (fly); Save: as MU1

These look like large bats with a single eye dominating the entire head. Anyone caught in their critical gaze must save vs. Petrification (or Will) or act at -1 on everything requiring a roll (to-hit, saves, ability checks or skills, etc.).  The effect is broken if eyebat is slain, line of sight is broken, or the eyebat shifts its gaze to another target.

Flying Eyes (Watchers)

No. Appearing: d4; HD 3+; AC: 16 [5]; Attack: special; Move: 24″ (fly); Save: As MU

Flying eyes, or “Watchers,” are large disembodied eyes with feathery grey or bat-like black wings, often trailing a long, red, slimy tail. They attack with one gaze attack per round, and each Watcher’s gaze attack is randomly determined (roll a d10: 1. petrify; 2. sleep; 3. slow; 4. charm; 5. silence; 6. fear; 7. telekinesis; 8. heat metal; 9. cause serious wounds; 10. feeblemind).

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm  Comments (3)  
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Been on a monster tear lately

That makes 1819!

So there’s the scorpion men I already covered; a black pudding made from Sculpy:

Just Sculpy that had a couple of pens pressed against it, baked, glued to a washer, and painted.

A MegaMinis harpy (originally Metal Magic?)

And a flesh golem — a repainted MageKnight mini:

As much as I love some of the henchmen and men-at-arms I’ve started, I’ve been motivated to paint monster lately, under the assumption that I could conceivably finish them all this year.  Monsters are A LOT easier to paint than people & humanoids, IMO, since they have less stuff.  Also, I find that about 5% of the adventurer minis ever get used; everyone always likes the same bitchin’ elf or fighter.  I should post my favorite “benchwarmers” some time — the minis I love but who always sit out on game night. 🙂

But monsters pretty much always get a chance to shine, at least once.

Published in: on April 30, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (5)  
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The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out

So it turns out I have three copies of Grenadier’s larvae miniatures. My first came in a boxed set of dungeon monsters. (I painted the worm-ends green and the faces in regular flesh tones. I very scrupulously avoided reading the Monster Manual back then so I painted my monsters all the “wrong” colors.) The other two came later — one I think came from Scottsz and the other I picked up second hand at Spellbinder’s in Kent, during the brief period when they had a a really good downtown location and tons of space. Anyway I stripped them all and began repainting them, then kind of shelved things until Scottsz’s minis came last fall.

A couple of months ago I broke them out to represent some hallucinations in a one-shot playtest adventure, and I realized I still hadn’t painted them all. Anyway when I threw some grub-sized larvae into my regular game, I decided I needed to get the minis finished for use. I figure that any minis I’ve been “saving” had better get used because who knows if I’ll ever get to run another D&D campaign, right? So I thought about the logistics of using these minis where three larvae are all in one “space.” Suppose one is killed…do I place a little marker near it, or say” this one is just two larvae now” or what?

Obviously I needed more larvae.

I considered sawing apart one or both of the spares to get some “singles” but then it struck me that these would be really easy to make from scratch. So I rolled out a “worm” of Sculpy, with indentations to suggest segments, and I was going to sculpt some ugly little heads but then I remembered a large box of 28mm plastic minis from the “Lionheart” board game, and decided it would be much faster to use their heads. I ended up using just one of each of the troops in the Lionheart game (skipping the heavy infantry in full helms).  So I just sculpted the worms and baked them, and then glued on the heads with Liquid Nails.  (Liquid Nails is great stuff for conversions and scratch-building, because it dries hard but slightly flexible and can be sculpted a bit before it dries if you use fingers and tools that are wet.  It dries faster than epoxies and less brittle than super glue, and less toxic than either.  I’d still use epoxy to superglue for metal-to-metal joins, and when assembling models, though.)  I maybe should have sacrificed more peasants to get bare-headed larvae but I really like the idea of having a mob of peasants. And in the end the helmeted larvae look pretty messed up too.

I especially like the idea of crowned king reduced to … this.

So anyway when I was looking them up again in the Monster Manual (after having painted them pale yellow/white like maggots) I was happy to see I got the color right and delighted to see that Gygax had established a whole economy of larvae. They can be made into imps and quasits by devils and demons, respectively, and there is a bustling trade in larvae.   They are often harvested by night hags who use their supply to help keep their home plane of Hades under their control by selling or giving them to demons and devils. Larvae in the Monster Manual are the souls of the most evil humans, so night hags seek out evil people to slay and steal their souls.

In my setting I’m making the human soul a composite of two parts (the Gimlé soul and the Urth soul; they are normally bound together, and together they are both “immortal” like the gods themselves. In this state they can abide in Valhalla and other godly realms. But separated, the Urth soul grows into a larva and can be easily destroyed. The Gimlé soul, it is thought, could ultimately ascend to Gimlé (“High Heaven” in the Norse myth), but the soul is only supposed to be broken down into the two parts after Ragnarok. So what’s going on with the souls of those killed in Telengard? What happened to the Gimlé souls of the adventurers whose Urth souls were discovered on the stairs to level two?

Click to embiggen

BTW the title of this post refers to a morbid nursery rhyme sometimes called “The hearse song.”  There’s some interesting stuff about it here and here.  I bet larvae get tired of singing that.

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm  Comments (2)  
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Behold the flail snail!

Constructed from the maces of four 54mm cheapo knights, florist wire, the shell of an el-cheapo toy sea animal, and a mix of Crayola wet-set clay, liquid nails, and white glue.

The color scheme was suggested by my five year old, who assures me it looks “freaky.”  (The flail snail is probably her favorite Fiend Folio monster, and I’m seriously proud she has a favorite. She was also pumping me for ideas for tricks and traps so she can use them in “her D&D game,” which as far as I can tell involves her telling other kindergartners what they “control,” such as the sky or ground, and when they can move, etc.)

 

Published in: on November 27, 2010 at 12:15 am  Comments (7)  
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