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My Iron Kingdoms campaign is finally wrapping up, and there's no real consensus on what I should run next.  (Or, rather, my Fallout-themed campaign idea was supported by half the group that likes Fallout and vetoed by the other half that hates Fallout.)  A conundrum!  Fortunately, one player in my group, who is a very talented GM, volunteered to take over the GM reins and run a Pathfinder campaign -- specifically, the Kingmaker campaign, set in the Inner Seas.  That should give me a bit more time to settle upon what I'll be running next (and get minis painted, scenery organized, adventures plotted out, etc., once I figure out what that IS).

At a recent get-together, I dragged my big ol' BOX O' UNPAINTED REAPER KICKSTARTER MINIS (AND BITZ) from the garage and let everyone dig around for suitable minis for their player-characters.  As always happens, nothing is quite a PERFECT fit, or at the very least it could use a little more personalization.

 

First of all, I have taken a cue from the Froggymeister himself, and endeavored to put all of these figures on penny bases.  I'm just a little bit sick of the base size creep factor, as exemplified by the minimum base size of 30mm in my IKRPG campaign.  I have several folding tables and could theoretically expand the table space further, and my Hirst Arts dungeons could simply be expanded with even wider corridors and bigger doorways, but there comes a practical limit to how far people can REACH across the table to actually move things around (and how much room is left to maneuver around the edges).  I've half-joked that if I were to run an old-school dungeon game, I just might go down to 15mm.  Well, here's my compromise: SMALLER BASES (at least for the human-sized and smaller characters).  As a bonus, that penny is cheaper than any of the plastic or resin bases I might otherwise be deploying on the table.

 

paladin_of_erastil_by_jordangreywolf-dby

"Paladin of Erastil" (Reaper Bones #77197, "Erick, Paladin Initiate" -- flanked by two of Reaper Bones #77246, "Pillar of Good")

 

Chris Stadler, the master of Hirst Arts Castlemolds castings in the area, is trying for a change of pace, and this time he's playing a paladin rather than his usual penchant for roguish types.  The closest fit we had on hand to his character concept was "Erick," as he was armed with a greatsword (or something close to it -- with some of my fantasy minis what passes for a 2-handed greatsword on one mini could just as well be wielded one-handed on another), and he had a full suit of armor that seemed appropriate for a paladin.  This is more "aspirational" than true to the character sheet, since I don't think the character actually HAS a full set of plate just yet, but it's not as if I'm going to be fielding conversion requests every time someone swaps weapons or picks up some new gear.  (I mean, I might modify a mini as a gag, because I've got the time to kill, and the conversion might be amusing, but that can get out of hand.)

 

As per Chris's request, he's done up in red and white: Chris wanted to suggest "Crusader colors" without making him look exactly like a Crusader, just to try to convey the "paladin" idea vs. being a generic warrior.  That the mini had a shield on the back (a strange combo with a greatsword?) gave me the opportunity to paint the symbol of Erastil (vaguely cross-like in the bow's downward orientation), his patron deity, for further identification.  I wasn't quite satisfied with that, and I remembered how Duke Gerard (#14068, from the Warlord line) has something like a "halo" behind his head, which really kicks the "holy warrior" thing into overdrive.  Mind, I LOVE that bit piece, and it's great as a decorative bit for terrain or mini-dioramas, but it looks a bit UNWIELDY.  (I'm guessing that's why they chopped it off of the Bones adaptation of Duke Gerard ... which makes me sad, because in Bones plastic I SO would have bought a small army of Duke Gerards just to get those back pieces for terrain decoration.  ;)  )

Okay, so I wanted something vaguely halo-like, but not quite so overboard.  First, I dug through a bits box of leftover Warhammer 40K Orkz that I picked up at a "game bazaar."  (I've been using those bits mostly for raiders and supermutants for my Fallout-themed conversions.)  There were several over-sized crosshairs/gun sight pieces that I thought make an interesting halo.  Alas, they weren't quite so oversized as I remembered: the piece would simply be lost behind the paladin's head, and I have no magical way to scale bits up to just where I want them.

 

Fortunately, I had a couple of leftover sprues (also from the game bazaar) of Warhammer Fantasy Empire Militia.  There were a few little decorative bits left on the sprue that I think were intended to top battle standards: lots of grimdark variations on SKULLZ, SKULLZ, MORE SKULLZ (because regardless of what faction you are in this universe, you need SKULLZ), and -- oh yeah, a wreath!  Not exactly a "halo," but I can work with that.  The "wreath" was atop a little ball with a flat bottom (where I guess it would be glued to the standard top), with a couple of tassels hanging to the side.  I shaved a slightly concave surface onto the front of the ball so that I could get a good contacting surface (so I hoped) with the back of the paladin's armor (which curved a bit), and went ahead and painted what would eventually be the front (since it would be much harder to paint once it was attached).  After giving that time to dry, I glued it on, and then after the GLUE had time to dry, I went back to paint the back, and to add little details (such as highlights for the leaves on the wreath, where I could reach them).

 

Voila!  Brassy "wreath" on the back of his armor, behind the head, presumably with enough room for the helmet to still fit into place.  It's not an outright "halo," but I think it still gives that general vibe, and therefore (I hope) helps to communicate, "Paladin!"  :)

 

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"Grippli Adventurer" (Reaper Bones #77165, "Hellakin Goregutter, Halfling Rogue," with elements from Reaper Bones #77268 "Squog Hunters")

 

Our player group seems to be split into two "generations" of gamers: one half is about my age; the other half is some twenty years or so younger.  James, a new player in that younger category, somehow conjured up a rather detailed backstory and very specific and exotic character concept as soon as it was announced that we'd have a Pathfinder campaign coming up next, and it was a bit of a challenge to try to come up with a suitable miniature.  He chose to play a "Grippli" -- a short-for-a-halfling-sized frog-man sort of race.  But, while James would have been satisfied with one of my Squog minis with a new paint job, his character description of the frog-man was that he dressed "civilized," on account of being one of several orphans of assorted fantasy races who had been raised in a halfling-run orphanage.  So how to make a frog that looked more attired like a halfling?

 

Well, I started with "Hellakin Goregutter, Halfling Rogue," since here I had a halfling to start with (about the right size!) and he was sort of hunched over in a way I imagined was the natural pose for a Grippli/Squog.  I wasn't quite ready to decapitate one of my painted squogs, and there was also a problem: Squogs have very visible teeth, and James had called out that this didn't seem quite Grippli-like.  So, I got some Instant Mold and made a crude temporary impression off of one of the heads, then filled that with Apoxie Sculpt epoxy putty and let it cure.  Once that was done, I did a little carving to try to destroy some of the "teeth" evident around the mouth -- far easier to do with the cured putty than with Bones plastic.

 

James suggested that, ideally, his character should be holding either a crossbow or a staff.  I found a small crossbow "pistol" as a bit (some sort of Warhammer Fantasy leftover, I imagine) and chopped off the dagger originally held by Hellakin, boring holes and pinning the crossbow in place.  I used "brown stuff" epoxy putty to make big-toed feet and oversized hands, as well as to bulk up the hood and drape to hide the join between the wide-based frog head and the relatively narrow neck of the original halfling mini.

 

For painting schemes, James wanted a blue-and-black froggy look, based on some images he'd found in an internet search.  He also suggested that the character would be dressed primarily in greens and browns.  (I have no idea what class/profession this froggy is in, other than "adventurer," and that I gather he's neither a rogue nor a woodsman, given the bits and pieces I picked up from discussion around the table.  I think it's some exotic Pathfinder class add-on that was probably mentioned, but which I failed to retain in memory since it didn't fall into the nice familiar categories of "paladin," "rogue," "bard," "druid," "fighter," "cleric," et al.)

 

Now, one problem with doing sloppy "casts" with Instant Mold like this is that it never comes out quite right.  It's great stuff for getting a rough texture of, say, cobblestones or leaf piles or broken pavement for base-texturing, and it might even be able to handle an embossed shield design, but not so much for replicating miniature pieces, as "folds" inevitably form when trying to wrap it around a sufficiently convex shape, and that turns into wrinkles and seams in the resulting "cast."  There was a particularly ugly one around the mouth that I couldn't easily clean up with my file and knife-work, and the idea struck me that I could probably disguise it if I gave him a cigar or ... aha!  A PIPE!  How very halfling-esque!

 

So, I drilled a hole, and took a bit of paperclip wire and bent it into what I imagined a fantasy pipe shape to be, and glued it in.  I used some leftover brown-stuff epoxy putty (that was otherwise destined to be mashed onto a base somewhere -- I always end up mixing just a little more than I really need) and used it to bulk out the wire in an attempt to make it more pipe-like.  Up close (i.e., as in the photo), it's evident that it's really bulked out WAY TOO MUCH, but somehow when viewed as a miniature in real life on the table, it looks all right to my eyes.  If anyone else at the table comments on it, I might go back and try to whittle it back down around the "neck" of the pipe, then re-paint it.

 

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"Killer Elsa" (Reaper Bones #77028, "Devona, Female Wizard")

 

I'm pretty sure this character will have a NAME, but for right now around the table it's just known as "Killer Elsa" -- or I've been calling it "Kelsa" for shorter reference.  One of my veteran players, Scott, has been bouncing through several character concepts each time the topic comes up, but he finally settled upon playing some sort of frost mage.  I don't know the particular class that would be focused so much on a particular "element" like that, but that's the gist of it.

 

Rather than digging a mini out of the Reaper mini bin, he grabbed one of the "generic NPC" minis that's been sitting on the side of my table for the Iron Kingdoms campaign.  That is, I've got a few sailor minis, females in civilian garb, crows, etc., that have been occupying a space on the table at the fringes with the spare measuring tapes and dice and tokens -- not necessarily intended to represent a PARTICULAR character, but useful now and then when the situation arises and some "unimportant" NPC from a noncombat sequence suddenly gets swept up in the action as the PCs get into a fight.  As such, I converted Devona to lose the staff she normally carried, and I used some "brown stuff" putty to roughly fashion for her a replacement hand in an attempt at suggestion some symmetry to her "curtsy" pose.

 

Scott picked out the mini as perfect for his "Killer Elsa" concept, and the figure was already done in frosty blues, so I just went in and did a little more detail work -- giving her white hair, giving her some "frosty" blue makeup, adding a little more contrast to the blue tones in her dress, and re-basing the figure on a penny, with some painted-on patches of "snow."

 

For the scene-setting, I used some AT-43 snow/ice tiles, some assorted "Christmas village" decorative pieces that I had out for this time of year, and in the background is some scrap novelty cloth that I've been using to make custom dice bags.

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"Kitsune Magus" (Reaper Bones #77473, "Kogo, Male Kitsune")

 

Joshua, another one of the younger generation of players, has settled upon playing a "kitsune" character for Pathfinder -- sort of like the old Oriental Adventures "Hengeyokai (fox)" fantasy race, having a natural form that looks like a foxy humanoid, but also having the ability to shapeshift into a form that can pass for human.  Unlike the old Hengeyokai, however, he can't also turn into a "normal" fox form.  (But then, who'd REALLY want to do that anyway?)

 

As for class, he is going with a "magus," which as near as I can tell is sort of like the classic warrior-mage combo that used to only be possible when "elf" was essentially a CLASS.  I'd prefer to call it a "spellsword" rather than a "magus," since when I think "magi," I certainly DON'T think of someone hopping around with a magical glowing sword.  In any case, Joshua found the kitsune minis from the latest Kickstarter in my box o' minis, and instructed me that he wanted a grey fox wearing blue with gold trim.  I deviated a little from that by giving him a purple-red laminate midsection, but I just thought it would benefit from a little color variety.  I used brown stuff putty to wrap some thin "tendrils" around the blade in the hopes of giving the sense of this guy beefing up his own sword with some magical buffs.

 

I love Derek Schubert's sculpt with the cocked-eyebrow expression.  It positively radiates "trickster fox."

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"Rook the Warden" (Reaper Bones #77320, "Galadanoth, Elf Sniper")

 

And at last we get to my miniature.  I was mostly waiting to see what everyone else would play before settling upon a character.  Left to my own devices, I would be inclined to play a bard or rogue, but that slot is already filled (by another player who hasn't yet picked out a mini or given me specs, so there's another one that'll be in the works).  Next, perhaps a paladin -- but that's covered, too.  However, I get the impression that this campaign is going to involve a bit more wilderness exploration than dungeon-delving, so perhaps we could use an outdoorsy type.  Aha -- Ranger!  Well, technically, I'm playing a "Spell-less Ranger," which is a third-party Kobold-press class the GM pointed me out to when I talked about wishing to build a sort of skilled outdoors-woodsy character but without messing with spellcasting (because surely there are woodsmen/hunters in this setting who DON'T CAST SPELLS, right?).

 

Seriously.  How'd it get to be a trope that the woodsy hunter dude inevitably learns to cast spells?  Paladins, I get.  Fighters, wizards, rogues, clerics, druids, sure.  Monks, even, though they seem like a bit of a deviation from the Western Europe medieval-ish flavor that otherwise dominates "generic fantasy" (but then they seem right at home again once you start adding in ninja, samurai, kitsune, karasu-tengu/kenku, etc.).  But the ranger, I just couldn't quite figure out.  Ahem.  I digress.  This variant basically just seems to be exactly like the regular Ranger (in fact, there's NO DIFFERENCE between my 1st level Not-a-Ranger and a regular Ranger) but trading off spell use for a better animal companion and a few extra woodsy feats.  Problem solved.

 

Back to minis.  I'm playing a human, but ... eh, so it's an elf.  Who can really tell with my blobby paint jobs?  :)  "Galadanoth" seems to have some FABULOUS hair, so in order to make him look a little more like a humble woodsman, I used a bit of "brown stuff" epoxy putty and fashioned a thin pancake of the stuff to put atop the head, used the edge of a broken-tipped hobby knife to roughly work out a hat band, and then gingerly folded the edges of the hat rim up and over to give him something that is maybe halfway between a Robin-Hood style cap and a pirate-y tricorn hat.  He's got the obligatory green cloak, but otherwise I'm going for leathery browns and dull greys.  We're going with the optional Pathfinder rules for "background skills," so I devoted my background skill slots to Craft (Leatherwork) and Profession (Tanner), with the idea that as we go and fight any animal-type monsters, my guy is the one who'll be skinning it and (if applicable) cleaning and butchering it for dinner, then using the hide to make leather or fur goods.  I imagined that the scale "breachcloth" piece might be made from the hide of some reptilian creature encountered along the way (rather than METAL scales), so I gave that piece a pop of color -- a more robust green.

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They are all BEAUTIFUL creations. They remind me of the miniatures I used to do for my friend, Justin's, D&D campaign. When he would drop off new pieces to be painted, he'd have a page of colors & a description of the character along with background for each. It was quite a departure from the other gaming pieces I was called upon to paint.

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