Saturday, May 18, 2019

Vengeful Spirits: Custom Monster for Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep

Continuing our series of additional monster ideas for the Frostgrave games family, today we've got some spooky undead.
 
 
Vengeful spirits are the lingering remains of the dead, raised either by deliberate acts of necromancy, or by fell curses from dark gods, or by the sheer willpower and raw emotion of the deceased.  They are generally quite mad and filled with malice, bent on stealing the life force of any creature unfortunate enough to cross their path.  Sometimes they retain a few shattered memories of their former lives, which may include long-lost secrets sought by scholars, explorers, and tomb robbers alike.  Extracting useful information from them is unfortunately nigh-impossible.

 
Vengeful Spirit
M     F     S     A     W     H
 6    +0    +0   10    +2      1
 
Notes:  Undead, Ethereal Flyer, Immune to Non-Magic Weapons, Life-Eater, Soulsight
 
Undead:  The creature is Undead, and is never treated as Wounded.
 
Ethereal Flyer:  The creature can move through terrain without penalties including solid walls, but cannot end its move inside a piece of terrain.  It can also fly and never needs to make climb checks, but still won't enter Deep Water.
 
Immune to Non-Magic Weapons:  The creature can only be harmed by magic and magical weapons.
 
Life-Eater:  Whenever this creature fights in hand-to-hand combat, it and its opponent use their Will scores instead of their Fight scores to determine results.  The creature ignores non-magical armor, shields, and staves (but not magic, herbs or potions that provide Armor bonuses) when determining damage.
 
Soulsight:  This creature ignores terrain when determining line of sight.  

 
Vengeful spirits have quite a few special traits, the gist of which is that they can always detect enemies within 10" of them and will move directly toward them through even the most solid of terrain, although they still can't end their activation within something like a statue or wall.  They are unaffected by non-magical effects, and when fighting they compare Will scores with their foe rather than Fight, as well as bypassing physical armor.

 
Thankfully, with only Will +2 and Health of 1 they're fairly easy to disperse when they attack, but low-Will targets like warhounds and basic crewmen are at significant risk.  Magic also works well against them, what with Fight +0 and Armor 10.

 
I'd rate them as a low-tier encounter, showing up in groups of 2-3 at higher tiers.

 
You could also build a scenario around the idea that one or more of them holds some secret that the players are seeking.  Have a steady stream of them arriving as you explore a haunted ruin or tomb (maybe one or two per player per turn).  Beating one in melee combat is a test of wills, and winning by a large margin (five points or so) would get you a roll to determine if you've found the right one.  Something like this should work (d20 roll):
1-12: Useless personal memories warped by madness
13-17:  Not what you were after, but still a useful memory.  The crew's leader gains 5 XP.
18-20:  The secret you were looking for at last!  10 XP above and an immediate scenario win.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Emperor Spider: Custom Monster for Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep

Another custom monster for use in Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep.  This one's a true monster and should probably only be used in specific scenarios where hunting (or avoiding) the thing is the main goal.  Ghost Archipelago players could try swapping it in for the Monarch as a random creature, which is about equally horrifying.
 
 
Emperor spiders are almost impossibly gigantic specimens of their kind, and are believed to be living avatars of some primal arachnoid deity.  They are most often found in jungles, mountainous terrain, and sometimes cyclopean underground caverns and tunnel systems.  Rumors tell of shamanic rituals that can stir them to hunt in other environs though, and there are old stories of entire settlements wiped out by a single Emperor.  Thankfully they pay little attention to anything as small as a human, preferring larger prey like saurian and giants unless provoked.

 
M     F     S     A     W     H 
 6    +8   +0    12    +8     30
 
Notes:  Giant Animal, Expert Climber, Giant Hunter, Immune to Poison, Large, Poison, Webs Everywhere
 
Giant Animal:  The creature's type is Animal, but is immune to spells that affect normal-sized Animals such as a Beast Warden's Command or Control Animal.  If being used as a potential random encounter, they can be randomly called to the battlefield with Beast Cry.  Have fun with staying out of its way if it shows up.
 
Expert Climber:  The creature suffers no movement penalties for climbing.
 
Giant Hunter:  The creature is immune to the Terrifying trait.  This creature treats all Large figures as enemies when determining its actions during the Creature Phase, and will initiate hand-to-hand combat with other creatures if they have the Large trait.  During step 2 and step 4 of determining its actions, the creature ignores any crew without the Large trait unless they are within 3" (rather than the usual 10").
 
Immune to Poison:  The creature never suffers from the Poisoned condition.
 
Large:  The creature suffers -2 F when defending against Shooting Attacks, and may have trouble fitting through small openings and into confined spaces.
 
Poison:  Any enemy damaged by this creature in combat suffers the Poisoned condition. 
 
Webs Everywhere:  Any model starting its activation within 6" of this model must make a Fight test with a target number of 13+.  If they fail they can take only one action and cannot act as a Supporting Figure in melee combat this turn.

 
The model here is a Reaper Bones demonic spider.  Despite being mounted on 120mm base, I still had to reposition the legs quite a bit to get it to fit.

 
Certainly looks like the kind of thing to dethrone a Monarch.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Wormwalker & Winged Ape: More Custom Monsters for Frostgrave

Continuing our series on adding more custom monsters to the "McCullough" rules family, today we have two beasties, the shambling Wormwalker and the sinister Winged Ape.
 
Wormwalker
 
 
Wormwalkers are the end result of an infestation of parasitic demonic worms from the Outer Darkness.  This is most often the result of a curse or unsavory arcane experimentation, although creatures who are exposed to dimensional rifts and similar weak spots in reality may experience spontaneous infection.  The parasites swiftly multiply within the victim's body, bloating and deforming it in horrific ways.  Death swiftly ensues but is no release for the victim whose soul remains trapped within the husk, feeding the thriving demonic worm colony.  "Matured" Wormwalkers are much like zombies - mindlessly aggressive, hostile to all living things, and impossible to reason with - but are unaffected by effects that specifically target Undead creatures.    Destroying a Wormwalker's husk results in any surviving parasites within returning to their native plane, although they frequently make one last attempt to slay their attacker and procure a new host body before they do so.  Most Wormwalkers were original human, but sometimes larger creatures like ogres or troll succumb to the infestation as well, resulting in an even larger and more dangerous monstrosity.

 
Human-Sized Husk
M     F     S     A     W     H
4     +1    +0   12    +0      8
 
Notes:  Demon, Dying Strike
 
Ogre-Sized Husk
M     F     S     A     W     H
5     +4    +0   13    +0     12
 
Notes:  Demon, Dying Strike
 
Demon:  The creature is a Demon, and is never treated as Wounded.
 
Dying Strike:  When this model is reduced to zero Health, if it is engaged with an enemy model then before removing it from the table it makes one last melee attack using its Fight score as though it were its activation, after which the game proceeds as normal.

 
Winged Ape

 
Winged Apes are unnatural chimerical creatures that combine bat-like wings with the strength of a great ape.  They are rare creatures but can be found in almost any environment from the frozen North to the jungle islands of the far South, no doubt thanks to their powerful if clumsy flying ability.  In the North they are believed to be the result of experimentation in hybridization, while the South tells ominous tales of lost prehuman civilizations whose few survivors have degenerated into bestial horrors.  Whatever the truth may be, Winged Apes possess a malign intelligence and are cunning and ruthless combatants.  While they don't use weapons themselves they do recognize them as a threat and have been known to rip swords, axes, et cetera out of a foe's hands, hurling them off to be lost in the underbrush or nearby bodies of water.

 
M     F     S     A     W     H
 7    +4   +0    12    +8     14
 
Notes:  Chimera, Disarm 16+
 
Chimera:  Chimera is a creature type, ala Animal or Saurian or Demon.  Chimerae are generally creatures that don't quite fit existing types, and often have features of several other mashed together in implausible configurations - like a bat-ape hybrid.  They do NOT belong to other creature types and so are (for example) not a valid target for spells and effects that work only on Undead, Demons or Animals.
 
Disarm 16+:  If a creature with Disarm 16+ is fighting in melee with an enemy carrying a weapon AND gets a natural 16 or higher for its d20 roll AND it wins the Fight comparison after any penalties and bonuses are applied, then rather than inflicting damage it will disarm the enemy.  The disarmed enemy loses the use of whatever melee weapon (if any) it was using for the remainder of the game but can recover it for free after the game.  The creature will always disarm melee weapons first starting with the one currently in use.  If the enemy has been reduced to just shooting weapons it will choose to disarm one of those at random instead.  If the enemy has no weapons, then the creature will inflict damage as normal instead of disarming.

 
Size comparison shot.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Venomous Drakesnail: Custom Monster for Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago & Rangers of Shadow Deep

Starting a series of articles today adding some new creatures to the "McCullough" family of games, which currently include Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of Shadow Deep.
 
 
This particular model is a rebased, repainted and repurposed Dreamblade figure.  The creature is quite dangerous, and if you use it as a random encounter it should be a "third column" beastie so it doesn't show up often, and always shows up alone.  Building a scenario around hunting treasure in a Drakesnail lair might be a better use for them.

 
Venomous Drakesnail
 
The origins of the venomous drakesnail are unclear, with some naturalists claiming they're the result of arcane experimentation gone out of control, many wizards claiming they're a mutation arising from deposits of divine or draconic ichor spilled the Dawn Age, and various priests claiming that they're a divine punishment on the mortal races for their hubris.  What is clear is that no one really wants to take responsibility for their existence and that, while rare, they can be found in many environments across the world.  Drakesnails are large and dangerous predators but thankfully appear to only have animalistic intelligence, and if raised from the egg they can sometimes be trained as guardian beasts by skilled beast handlers.  This is not a safe or reliable process by any means, which contributes to the rarity of skilled beast handlers in the world.  When found in the wild drakesnail lairs are readily identified by the reeking haze of poisonous vapor exhaled by the creature, although thankfully they lack the breath weaponry of true dragons.  They do seem to have an instinctual habit of hording shiny objects including weaponry, coins and gems, all of which act as convenient lures for greedy adventurer types.

 
M     F     S     A     W     H 
5     +5    +0   14    +4     20
 
Notes:  Chimera, Immune to Poison, Large, Slow, Two-Headed, Venomous Haze
 
Drakesnails have some new abilities under their Notes, which have the following game effects.
 
Chimera:  Chimera is a creature type, ala Animal or Saurian or Demon.  Chimerae are generally creatures that don't quite fit existing types, and often have features of several other mashed together in implausible configurations - like a dragon-snail hybrid.  They do NOT belong to other creature types and so are (for example) not a valid target for spells and effects that work only on Undead, Demons or Animals.
 
Immune to Poison:  The creature never suffers from the Poisoned condition.
 
Large:  The creature suffers -2 F when defending against Shooting Attacks, and may have trouble fitting through small openings and into confined spaces..
 
Slow:  Slow creatures never take more than a single Move action during their activation.  Because it's a snail, that's why.  They can still move and then fight, but cannot double move.
 
Two-Headed:  When fighting this creature, reduce any bonus for Supporting Figures by two.  For example, if a drakesnail is outnumbered two to one, neither enemy figure receives the +2 they'd normally be eligible for.  If outnumbered three to one, each enemy figure would receive a +2 Supporting Figure bonus rather than the usual +4.
 
Venomous Haze:  The creature is surrounded by a cloud of toxic gas.  Any model starting its activation within 6" of this creature must make a Will Roll with a target number of 14.  If it fails then it becomes Poisoned.
 
 
Venomous drakesanils are generally solitary creatures, so thankfully you shouldn't ever have to face this sort of unpleasantness.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Nostalgia Time: First Edition Warzone Cybertronic Squad

 
Taking another stroll down memory lane today after stumbling on these old photos from 2012.

 
Cybertronic Chasseurs from way back in 1st edition Warzone, including a simple conversion to arm a hero character with an LMG.  

 
He's also got sculpted battle damage showing off his subdermal armor after being shot in the chest a few times, and is carrying the remains of his tank top sculpted out of some putty. 

 
Always liked the look of these guys, and I loved the fact that (despite apparently being nearly unarmored) their cyberware gave them some of the best armor of any model in the game.

 
The sculpts are very, very Nineties Warzone style, chunky and single piece castings with fair amounts of blocky detail.

 
This was the same time period that Games Workshop was going through an obsession with giant oversized novelty hats on almost everyone who didn't have a giant orange Mohawk instead, so a bunch of bald guys was something of a novelty.

 
The paint jobs are ancient, but they hold up sort of okay.

 
I was deliberately experimenting with a cartoony paint style, hence the black lining and somewhat flat, simplistic colors.

 
I was using some quite awful paints at this point, and way too fond of drybrushing without unifying washes.

 
But that was seven years ago now, and they'd still do for basic tabletop use.

 
Maybe someday I'll find another batch of them in a trade or sale and take another stab at them to see if I've improved much.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Gates of Antares: Grav Droid Conversions

 
Got the itch to do some light conversion work for a scifi RPG run that needed some heavy grav droids to menace player characters with, and a dig through the "to do" box turned up some Ghar battle suits from Warlord Games' Gates of Antares range. 

 
These fig are usually tripedal walker designs and have a little mutant pilot stuffed inside, but they looked like they make decent floating robot types with a little work.  Playing around with the parts a bit I quickly discovered that you could get two different good-looking builds out of the kit by repositioning the main body assembly.

 
The one on the left (which we'll call Cyclops) has the main body rotated 90 degrees so what would be the front normally is facing straight down.  The head is left off entirely, and the pelvis and leg assemblies are left off and replaced with a bit from the Mantic Games Asterian Marionette kit.  Requires clipping a couple of pegs and drilling a hole for the flight post, which is pretty trivial.

 
The one on the right (let's call him Norm) is oriented at the normal angle, and has the pelvis attached but not the legs.  The pelvis sockets then get three "grav vane" bits from the aforementioned Marionette kit, which is a box and a half worth of them.  I've done a LOT of Marionettes over the last few years, and been meticulous about saving spare parts. 

 
I'm still undecided on which I like better, but with some paint on them I think they both wound up coming out nicely.
 
 
After a general call for opinions on the two builds over on Facebook I wound up doing with third suit as a second Cyclops, this time armed with a "bomber" gun, which was again modified with a bit from a boardgame.

 
The big gun's a little bulky, but they are giant robots.
 
 
Figure they can handle heavy weapons a human couldn't.

 
The bases are all 40mm ones that come on the battle suit sprues.  Flight posts are from Warlord Games basing range.

 
Feels like a bit of a waste of space to have the bases on the sprues instead of more alternate parts to personalize the suits more.  For example, it would be really nice if there was a left-hand claw arm option.  The guns can be swapped from one side to the other easily, but the claw arm is constructed so that it only fits on the right.

 
Still a nice kit overall, and surprisingly versatile for alternate builds.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Dreadful Things: Stabface, A Chaos Spawn

Following up on yesterday's post today we showcase Stabface, a Chaos Spawn from Games Workshop's old Warhammer Fantasy range.
 
 
Stabface came into existence only yesterday, after I found a mostly-unassembled Chaos Spawn sprue and some spare parts in a box with Yattaraxaxax.  He's still a little busy, but I like the nutty "running face first into the foe" vibe he wound up with.

 
The Chaos Spawn kit is a minor gold mine of spare parts if you need eyeballs, tentacles, insectoid limbs, and odd heads.

 
What keeps it from being excellent is the bodies. 

 
The kit comes with two of them, both boringly humanoid and in nearly identical "lunging forward" stances.

 
You can vary their end appearance a lot by selecting different arms, heads, and other add-ons, but without quite a lot of cutting or scratchbuilding there are still just the two core bodies underneath it all.

 
No variant legs, no distinct stances, no multi-legged horrors or legs slithering, oozing horrors straight out of the box.  It's still a good kit, but the lack of truly crazy versatility for folks not interested in sculpting leaves it at a solid B+ grade, especially since Spawn in Warhammer are supposed to be numerous and infinitely varied.

 
Doesn't help that it's very easy to build Spawn that can't rank up base-to-base, and almost all of them will overlap the front of the base by a lot, making it hard to get into contact with enemy models as required by the game rules.  This isn't as much of an issue in Warhammer 40,000 or Age of Sigmar, but these figures were designed during the days of Warhammer Fantasy and intended for use there. 

 
Still, you can make at least a couple of really unique (if mildly silly and over the top) Chaos Spawn without any conversion work needed.  The huge number of spares you'll wind up with is also a plus, although that's getting to be the norm with modern GW kits.  Maybe someday they'll do a new Spawn kit and we'll see something that really deserves an A+ grade, but as it is they're still fine, just not everything they could be.