Boerogg Blackrime

This is the original resin version of Boerogg Blackrime from Reaper. I painted him over several months in starting in the spring of 2012 and stretching into the summer. I worked nearly exclusively on him for that period, putting in a couple hours of work each night. I normally paint fairly slowly, but this was an exceptional amount of time to put into a single mini even for me, but the crazy amount of detail on this figure pretty much necessitated it.

 

Reaper has gone on to change the look of their frost giants starting with the Bones 3 kickstarter, going from the more Pathfinder-esque style epitomized with Boerogg to the more traditional “giant vikings” look typically seen in earlier versions of D&D. Ironically, even though Pathfinder’s versions of frost giants is more stylized and monstrous-looking, they’re probably proportioned more realistically because humanoid creatures of that size would need stockier limbs in order to support their weight — square-cube law and all that.

My painting ability has not dramatically improved in the 5+ years since completing this mini, but there I a few things I could improve. The thing that sticks out to me as the biggest sore spot is the lackluster base. I barely had any experience modeling snow at that time, and I would do much better with it now. Plus, I’d switch him to a round base since I find them to be much more visually appealing than squares.

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Rounding out the collection

Nearly 10 years ago, during the early stages of running what grew into an epic, 4-year D&D campaign that I ran for my friends, we faced a crucial decision. I had been running what I had envisioned as a narrative miniatures campaign using a very light set of rules (along with the setting) adapted from Reaper’s miniature game, Warlord. However, a few games in, because of the strong storytelling aspect of the games, as my players naturally started approaching the scenarios with more of an RPG mindset rather than one geared for a miniatures game, I realized it made more sense to transition to a bona-fide RPG rather than continuing to wing it using the rules-light system that I had cobbled together. The question was, which system to use?

Interestingly enough, the timing of this transition coincided with the end of 3.5, and the impending arrival of 4e. Pathfinder was also in its nascent, pre-published form, having recently been announced as well. Other than my wife and myself, everyone involved in that campaign had little experience with tabletop gaming, and none at all when it came to D&D, so I had the luxury and privilege of deciding essentially on my own which system our group would use. I decided relatively early on that it would be between 3.5 or 4e. Pathfinder looked interesting, but I wanted to go with something that was already (or about to be) published rather than waiting another year before being able to get my hands on printed versions of the core books (I did ultimately adopt a few of Pathfinder’s mechanics for sorcerers into the campaign, however).

Like many other gamers, some of the things I had seen in previews for 4e had me concerned, but overall, I thought it looked promising, so I kept an open mind before its release. I was eager to try it out and got to play in a demo game with my wife and one of our friends shortly after its release. My response at the time was that I thought it was ok. We had fun with the demo and had a couple of memorable story moments, but it felt like too much of the focus of gameplay was on the mechanics themselves rather than having the mechanics facilitate the gameplay experience that is unique to tabletop RPGs.

Another 4e demo game sometime later, plus some forays as an observer in the edition wars confirmed my initial thoughts. I’m not offering any new insights here, but for the record, my thoughts about 4e can be summed up this way: it was a radical departure from previous versions of D&D. This didn’t make it a bad game, but one could arguably say that this did make made it a bad D&D game. I think the description of it being essentially a tabletop version of an MMORPG, with its emphasis on powers, even for things like basic melee attacks, and the frequency at which they could be used, is a fair one. That being said, while it may have been a bad D&D game, it excelled at what it was designed for: gameplay that focused on small-scale, tactical combat.

Had it been marketed as something other than the next edition of D&D (or possibly even as a spin-off game based on D&D), there would probably have been little controversy. Of course, the trade-off would’ve been not being able to lean on the D&D brand to help market the game and boost sales — not to mention the logistics and potential problems involved in supporting multiple product lines (which TSR had already experienced previously in its history). Then again, while WOTC/Hasbro were able to leverage the D&D brand to boost sales, it’s reasonable to question whether or not the resulting damage to the brand from the controversy surrounding 4th Edition was worth it.

I decided to go with 3.5 for the campaign. It had officially come to the end of its life cycle, but it was a new system for me and and my gaming group. My friends and I switched the campaign over to the new rules. It successfully ran its course over the next several years, with the PCs going from low-level fledglings to 15th-level heroes by the end. At the same time, I saw my collection of 3.5 books fill out from the three core books to taking up a decent amount of space on my shelf. Since that time, 4e also ran its course, and we’ve seen the advent of 5e. I’ve picked up many of the 5e books and even added a smattering of 4th edition books to my collection — but not the core books themselves.

A year or two ago, I decided that although I’m not terribly fond of 4th edition, given that D&D has been a part of my life for so long, I wanted have at least the core books as part of my collection. to own a copy of every edition of the game. I would occasionally search online and at Half Price Books, but I was never thrilled with the prices I saw for the condition that the books were in — for a relatively unpopular edition, the books still seem to be steadily climbing in price as time goes on.

I actually hadn’t thought much about them in a while, but as luck would have it, I recently came across someone selling a brand-new set online for a steal, and I jumped on it without any hesitation. The books have since arrived and found a new home on my shelf, and I now own a set of core books for every edition of the game.

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Anyone else just realize that the dragon on the cover of the DMG is scrying on the heroes on the cover of the Player’s Handbook?

 

 

Well, complete except for the 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual that I lent out to some old friends over a decade ago… And everything starting from AD&D 1st Edition, anyway; I’ve never actually owned a Basic set – Red Box, White Box, original, reprint, or otherwise. Not yet, at least.

Ruined Column Pedestal + Tutorial

New terrain piece just finished and added to the shop, plus a step-by-step tutorial!

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This version features “Krass Omenthrall” from Reaper. Of course, you can use a miniature of your choice for your personal version.

EDIT: The file for this model is now available on Thingiverse, so you can download it for free and print your own!

Small Forest Vignette + Galdanoth

I finished up this scene using the test colors that I previewed a few days ago.

In addition to the new color scheme, there were actually several other things I was testing out with this piece: combining different terrain elements to create a new model; using 3D modeling software to plan out and create the scene; and using Realistic Water to simulate a low area of ground that’s normally dry but which had flooded with a few inches of water due to recent heavy rains.

This is a fairly small piece, but now that I have a “proof of concept” I can easily scale it up or design a new piece using similar elements and do a step-by-step. Below is a comparison of the 3D model to the finished version. It’s hard to see in the screen cap, but I added a small lip to the edge of the base to contain the Realistic Water. I designed the tree armature to provide enough structure to attach clump foliage to represent leaves, but to work without foliage as a dead tree or as part of a winter scene.

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The new colors also proved to be just what I was looking for for a basing theme for one of my miniatures (“Galdanoth, Elf Sniper” from Reaper). I had painted this mini a few years ago, and had a mental image of what I wanted to do for a base, but I hadn’t been able create anything that matched what I had been envisioning until now. The decorative base is from CMON’s base Kickstarter from a few years ago. They packed a tremendous amount of detail into these, but I went the quick route and just did a simple paintjob with various flocks and scatter on top to match the rest of the vignette.

 

 

Lastly, there’s one more reason I’m glad to have finally completed Galdanoth: He’s the miniature that my gaming group at the time used to represent our friend Michael’s character in a short-lived D&D campaign back in 2013. Michael tragically passed away that summer before I finished painting this mini, and we abandoned the campaign after his death, but still I think of him every time I see this mini. Michael, I still miss you, man.

#100: Sir Conlan

For my 100th post I thought I’d wax nostalgic for a bit about one of my all-time favorite miniatures: Sir Conlan, from Reaper’s tabletop miniatures game, Warlord. The game itself has been dead for some time now, but they still sell the miniatures. Most of the sculpts are fairly high quality, and there are some standouts, but to be honest, most of it is the standard stuff that you’d expect to find in a range of fantasy minis. All of that aside, Sir Conlan holds a special place in my gaming history.

In the fall of 2004, I found myself at a Hobbytown USA in Pittsburgh, PA. At that point, I had been away from any serious tabletop gaming for several years. I was staring at a display wall of metal minis, many of which were part of something called “Warlord.” The blister packs contained not only the minis, but colorful cards with an image of a painted version of each miniature as well, and on the back was a a list of the figure’s stats and abilities. While I had painted plenty, I had only dabbled in miniatures games before, but I was genuinely intrigued by the Warlord minis, and I chose Sir Conlan as my first purchase.

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Sir Conlan 2004 (metal version)

I painted Sir Conlan over the course of the next week or two, at the same time trying to find out more about Warlord. I was already familiar with Reaper, but I didn’t know that they were making a fantasy miniatures game. I soon acquired the core rulebook for Warlord and, over the next several months, got a few games in with my wife and some of our friends. Sir Conlan was from the Crusaders faction, so that’s what I started collecting and painting. I didn’t have many official Warlord minis yet, so we proxied about 90% of our armies.

I also got back into playing D&D with a short-lived campaign that one of my friends ran during this time, and I liked the Sir Conlan miniature so much that I used him to represent my character, a half-elf fighter/mage. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was close enough to work.

Today, while I still have a good portion of my collection of Warlord minis, it’s considerably smaller than it once was, and I haven’t actually played Warlord in several years. It’s a fine game, and I’m sure I’d enjoy it if I played it again; but the reality is that gaming is a social hobby, and it’s much easier to play games that already have an existing player base and not one that you have to build yourself.

Although it’s in my past now, I owe a debt of gratitude to WarlordLooking back, I can pinpoint the exact moment of my serious return to gaming; it took me several years to get as deep into tabletop gaming as I am now, but getting into Warlord, beginning with Sir Conlan, is where it started.

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The plastic Bones version, painted in 2016