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My Portable Fantasy Game project (a little picture heavy)

Rob Dean

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I am not sure where to put this topic, so I have thrown it in general fantasy.  


My hobby goals for this month include painting some 1/72 scale plastics for what I call the Portable Fantasy Game.  I am considering the question of what the shape of this project should be, because, like a lot of the things I do, it has mostly grown organically so far.


To assist in planning, last week I unpacked the boxes and arrayed all the single-based figures for a photo inventory.  I won’t add the small group closeups, but here is the overview:




As of then, I had 112 pieces, and have finished up another 4 this week.  After I finish this post, I am going downstairs to spray some primer on another dozen or so, including the start of the baggage train, a couple of carts.  


I am lucky enough to be able to attend several conventions most years, and I like to take a pick-up game with me, so the basic idea behind this was to have something portable (so size and weight limited) which would give me the flexibility to play different games, depending on the needs of the moment.  




Most of my miniatures storage is arranged in Really Useful Boxes, generally the 4-liter size.  In working up this idea, I found that they sell a 12-liter box with dimensions allowing it to fit under the seat on full size airliners.  The 6-liter box is half the height and nests, and I have found, as shown above, that a 12, a 6, and a 2.5 liter box can be strapped together and still fit in the overhead compartment.  That was from last year’s trip to Gencon. The “Strap-a-handle” gives me something to hold it by, and I run one lateral nylon strap around orthogonal to it.


That’s the outside of the boxes.


For reasons that made sense at the time, having to do with a failed Kickstarter for a magnetic portable dungeon wall set-up, I based the individual figures for this game in the reverse of my usual technique, with the magnet stuff on the figures and the steel element in the box.  So the figure storage is steel lined, as in this shot of the 2.5 liter overflow box:




The 6-liter box is flex space.  I have three of them, although, as shown above, only one at a time would fly.  More would readily fit as part of a road trip.  They are set up with my usual system, magnets in the box for steel bases. At Christmas this year, I loaded one of them up with two Dragon Rampant war bands (with some options) and fifteen or so Burrows and Badgers figures, all in 25mm metal, becuase that’s what my brother expressed interest in playing:




As I type, the other two 6-liter boxes are currently loaded up with all of my multiple-figure-based 1/72 scale fantasy figures, from an earlier road trip.  I generally try to keep the 6-liter boxes empty, and swap troops in and out as needed for a specific trip, but I haven’t re-stowed things since the move in November.


Inside the 12-liter box, there are two figure storage boxes, a short one and a tall one.  Here’s the short one:




In addition to the two figure boxes, the 12-liter box is loaded with a 3-foot square double sided groundcloth, a set of four hills, a village of seven buildings and a bridge (all Dave Graffam card models, to keep it light), a dozen or so trees, a half dozen plastic rock formations which more or less nest, a couple of primitive stone head statues, some low walls, a bag of lichen, a bag of aquarium gravel, some rolled cloth roads and streams, various gamemaster stuff such as dice, rulers, status token, three or four sets of rules, and some laminated scenario force sheets for a few preplanned situations, to make pick up gaming easier. Here’s most of the scenery deployed, with the green side of the cloth and hills up.




Here we are at Gencon in 2014, actually playing a game of Song of Blades and Heroes:




So why 1/72 scale plastics?


On the minus side of the ledger, the supply of typical fantasy things is somewhat limited. The figures are often irritating to clean up for painting.


On the plus side, a box full of them is light.  That also helps the magnets keep them in place while traveling.  I wouldn’t want to turn the boxes upside down and shake them, but even if I did, the plastic pieces won’t damage each other as badly as metal might.  


They are on the low end of what it is practical to base and handle as individuals, so it would be difficult for me to imagine going with 15mm metal for this.  On the other hand, they are big enough that I can paint some detail on them, so painting stays fun rather than being a burden.

I have painted some of these guys with the travel paint kit, so it’s possible to get to the double portable levels, where all the support infrastructure is portable too...in case we ever take up RV nomadism, I guess. ::D:


As individuals they are also broadly compatible with the 1/72 mass battle figures, a pre-exisiting project I share with both sons.




So, that’s where things are now.


The next question is what I want to fill out the remaining space in the 2.5 liter box with, which would allow support of a reasonable range of activities in a roleplaying game.  I am thinking a few more non-human monsters, in particular, and then I can shape the scenarios to fit the figure collection.


Thoughts and comments?


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9 minutes ago, Glitterwolf said:

Cool collection.


How about a war machine?



I'm not scratch building one. ::D: 


However, I do have a couple of Zvezda catapult kits in 1/72 hard plastic plus a box of "siege troops" from Orion, so that would be possible.  For skirmish/rpg play, something like that would be more terrain/objective than an active weapon.  If I build a 1/72 scale castle, siege equipment will be part of the combat. I don't think the siege will be particularly portable, but I do have card model castle files in my terrain collection.


My younger son did convert a couple of Zvezda four-horse Persian chariots with skeleton crews (from Caesar) for his 1/72 undead army.  I don't seem to have a close-up in my collection, but here's a crop from a larger game-in-progress photo:




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I spent my extra time this morning (when I used to commute) doing one of the nagging little hobby tasks on my list: repacking the portable fantasy game.  I started this thread last year when I was doing an inventory of the figures, but I see that I didn’t post much about the rest of the gear.


This task became necessary last week when I received a package from my mother with new terrain pieces.


The original set-up started with a double-sided ground cloth and a group of double-sided hill/pillows (fabric over upholstery foam) done for me as a custom project by an Etsy craftsperson who was in college with my son:




What I got from my mother (whose main hobby is quilting) was the scenery bases.  Linear pieces are double-sided to serve as streams or roads.  The large irregular circle pieces are all backed with woods base material on one side, and brown, grey, or blue on the other side to designate rough ground, town areas, ponds, etc. as necessary.




The scenery package also includes a bag of small stones for scatter decoration and to marks fords or whatever, and lichen to enhance the appearance of stream banks, woods bases, or to serve as hedges as needed.




There is room in the box for about 10 trees, mounted on steel washers to engage with rare earth magnets placed under the scenery bases to give them a little stability...




There are also a half dozen plastic rocks, which are very light, and also nest for travel.




...and a couple of stone heads, because I don’t seem to be able to have fantasy scenery without stone heads.


A few old resin low walls, nicely sized for 1/72 scale figures, have been repurposed for this.




And, to keep things light, there is a collection of card model buildings (all Dave Graffam models printed at 75% of base size):




As I noted above, I expect to carry one or more supplemental figure boxes for a trip to a convention, but there are two boxes internal to the main storage box:




Since this is intended to be a ready-to-go gaming kit, there are rules, and a set of laminated orders of battle and qucik reference sheets:




And a set of dice, markers for various games, tape measures, rulers, and measuring sticks:




One it was all laid out and trimmed of extra rules, handouts, etc., it was time to pack it back up.




Buildings, troop boxes, and trees form the lowest layer, with small bits like tape measures and dice forming the next layer.


On top of that go one layer of hills, the rules, the ground cloth, and the other two hills.  Happily, the hills are fairly compressible.  Everything is stacked to avoid compressing the buildings at the one end:




And finally, to prove that it can be done, the lid goes on:




The lid has a thin steel sheet with a dungeon floor pattern attached above it, so that a dungeon environment can be deployed in a pinch.


And, there we are, ready to head to a convention...if there were such a thing right now.





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On 2/9/2019 at 8:03 AM, Glitterwolf said:

Cool collection.


How about a war machine?



My son has been busy recently.  This bolt thrower is a 1/72 hard plastic model from a Zvezda Siege Engines package...






This might finally push me over the edge to get started on some of my own.



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I took the Portable Fantasy project on the road yesterday; we had a game cancellation at our biweekly meeting, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to try Dragon Rampant with a tweak to the activation rules.


As is typical for a club meeting, I had things neatly organized in the boxes for deployment, but casualties went back in to the box in the order they were incurred.  I wanted to sort things out, and to double-check my inventory.




I’m now up to 157 individually based things, including a handful of Bones which have been “upscaled” for inclusion with the 1/72s.


I also laid out all of the mass-based figures and sorted them back into the boxes by “army”:






If I counted correctly, it’s 81 stands (mostly 60mm by 40mm).


Some of them don’t quite correspond to my overall plan, but I am hoping to have about 100 to fill out a five country order of battle for my campaign map.

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