Monday, 28 November 2011

Runequest - Scorpion Men.

Been digging out a few Runequest and generic fantasy type miniatures in the last few weeks (in between trying to finish a stack of Vikings and Saxons, see Gjallarhorn and various WW2 folk, see A Project Too Far) so I thought I would post an update on some of the figures I have been looking at.

Scorpion men are a chaos breed native to Glorantha and left over from the Great Darkness. They are often found in desert areas and sometimes small mountain villages. Their rigid society is based on servitude to Queens, who breed for the race. Scorpion men are known to make their living by trading or hiring out their services as mercenaries to employers willing to look past their chaotic nature.

Kudurru 'Boundary' Stone.

In mythology, Scorpion men are featured in several Akkadian language myths, including the Enûma Elish and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. They were first created by the Tiamat in order to wage war against the younger gods for the betrayal of her mate Apsu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, they stand guard outside the gates of the sun god Shamash at the mountains of Mashu. These give entrance to Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash as he travels out each day, and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. They also warn travellers of the danger that lies beyond their post. Their heads touch the sky, their "terror is awesome" and their "glance is death". This meeting of Gilgameš, on his way to Ūta-napišti, with the Scorpion-folk guarding the entrance to the tunnel is described in Iškār Gilgāmeš, tablet IX, lines 47-81.

Citadel Runequest Scorpion Men.

These are two of my favourite figures, a couple of nasty looking scorpion men. These are from the old Citadel Runequest range and have an unsettling look to them. I have raised ones legs, as if scuttling along or rearing up to attack, whilst the other is close to the ground. Unfortunately both had broken tails but it was nothing a little green stuff and superglue couldn't sort out. I have shaded them in slightly different colours to individualise them a little and a friend has suggested I remove one of their clubs and replace it with a spear to further enhance their characters. Once I have become brave enough to modify one of them I will finish the paintwork. I have not decided on a base yet but will probably opt for the larger of the two in the picture. I have searched around for more to join these two but they are rare. Other miniatures companies that look to produce versions of scorpion men include slightly more humanoid ones from Fenryll Miniatures, a really striking one from Reaper Miniatures, more monstrous ones from Iron Wind Metals and Rapier Miniatures also do a small range with a nice Scorpion Queen. There also appeared to be a scopion man mini from Ral Partha but I am sure these are lost in the annals of time. ShadowForge also do a nice selection of fantasy 'Egyptian' style scorpion-women warriors in their 'Light Temple' range.


Reaper Miniatures.

Iron Wind Metals.

Rapier Miniatures Scorpion Queen.

Rapier Miniatures Warrior.

Ral Partha.


For some interesting notes on the Gloranthan cult of Bagog and the scorpion-folk have a look at the Lhankor Mhy Research Library.

Scorpion men also feature as powerful myth units for the Egyptians in the game Age of Mythology. Dungeons & Dragons features centauric scorpion-men called Stingers, normally found in desert locales and devoted to gods of the waste, often those reflecting the Pharaonic or Babylonian pantheons. In Warlords Battlecry III, scorpion-people are the primary servants of Melkor, the Lord of Famine. In The Mummy Returns, the Scorpion King is shown as a scorpion-man, perhaps the less said about that the better though...

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ars Magica - The Black Monks of Glastonbury.

Not a lot done lately but finally made a start on the Redoubt monks. Whilst browsing various figure manufacturers to add to the lead mountain I found yet more monks to add to the growing congregation!

Brother Thomas (on the right) and the newly arrived Brother Cuthbert lead the monks in prayer.

The new recruits joining the Redoubt monks are the 'Brothers of Shrewsbury Abbey' from the Black Tree Design Feudal Characters range. They are Brother Cuthbert and the three from the front row in the middle. They are really nice sculpts and could pass in pretty much any period.

Cardinal Bertrand and the monks.

So far I have only managed to base them and get the basic flesh done but they looked so characterful I couldn't help take a couple of pictures! With the black undercoat they currently look a little like a group of particularly serious Benedictine monks. Brother Thomas looks much like a Franciscan friar in his brown robes. This of course made me think of the classic book/film 'The Name of the Rose.'

Brother Thomas investigates the murder of Brother Adelmo whilst the horrified monks look on...

The story takes place in Northern Italy, during the early 14th Century A.D. Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk (narrating as an old man) arrive at a Benedictine abbey where a mysterious death has occurred ahead of an important theological Church conference. William, known for his deductive and analytic mind, confronts the worried Abbot and gains permission to investigate the death – a young illuminator appears to have committed suicide. Over the next few days, several other bizarre deaths occur, and the two gradually discover that everything is not what it seems in the abbey.

Diabolic? Murder at the Abbey!

The title of this blog entry comes from an old Ars Magica supplement about the famous Glastonbury Abbey, a house of the black robed Benedictines since Saint Dunstan instituted it in the tenth century. The monks have fallen to diabolic corruption that threatens to overwhelm them all.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Traveller - The Vargr.


Intelligent Major Race derived from Ancient genetic manipulations of Terran carnivore/chaser stock, apparently dating from approximately the same time that Humaniti was scattered to the stars.
Inhabiting a region coreward of the Imperium, the Vargr were for years a puzzle to Imperial xenologists. The Vargr biochemistry and genetic makeup are almost identical with a number of terrestrial animals, but differ radically from most of the flora and fauna indigenous to Lair, the purported Vargr home world. Researches during the early years of the Third Imperium concluded them to be the result of genetic manipulation of transplanted Terran animals of the family Canidae, almost certainly of genus Canis. The obvious conclusion, supported by archeological evidence, is that the race known as the Ancients was responsible.

Physical Characteristics
Physically, the Vargr are not very impressive. The typical Vargr is about 1.6 meters in height and weighs approximately 60 kilograms. They are upright bipedal carnivores, rear limbs digitigrade, with hands very similar in size and appearance to those of a human, although there are significant internal differences. They have approximately the same physical parameters as humans and are able to use the same equipment without modification or additional instruction.
On the average their reactions are slightly faster than those of the typical human, but individuals vary widely. The Vargr senses of smell and sight are superior to those of humans.

There is no central Vargr government; indeed, there is no governmental type that can be said to be "typically Vargr". Every conceivable form of governmental organization can be found somewhere in the Vargr Extents. The only cohesive force in the Extents is a fierce racial pride which causes a slight tendency towards racial cooperation. The higher the level of the Vargr government, the more unstable it becomes because of the difficulty of obtaining consent of all Vargr involved.

The key elements shaping Vargr societies are a very strong centrifugal force resulting from an emphasis on consensus and informal lines of authority, and an equally strong centripetal force resulting from a deeply ingrained family-clantribe-nation loyalty.
Centralized authority is extremely limited at the upper levels of Vargr society, and action is based on broad coalitional concerns, with a constant splitting and rejoining of dissident factions. Traditionally, this has made it very difficult for more centralized and organized societies such as the Imperium to deal on a meaningful basis with what passes for Vargr states. The Vargr have little respect for formal authority, decreasing as that authority becomes more remote. Vargr generally have more respect for more informal authority figures, and are more likely to obey superiors who are better known to them.
The Vargr have an intensive racial pride and are easily insulted. They are prone to enter into fights without regard to possible consequences. Vargr social organization is difficult to characterize in Terran terms, but can be most closely compared to the Dakota Sioux of North America in the 1800's AD, if the analogy is not pressed too far. Even among the most stable Vargr governments, a highly charismatic leader can attract followers for almost anything. The neighbors of the Vargr are constantly the subject of impromptu raids and scattered piracy by bands of Vargr (totally without government sanction, of course) who have been talked into a raid, a battle, or a war by a charismatic leader.

Vargr in the Imperium
While only a few planets populated completely by Vargr exist within the Imperium, there are millions of Vargr citizens of loyal subject planets. Additionally, Vargr adventurers, criminals, mercenaries and traders can be found throughout the coreward reaches of the Imperium.

Text from The Traveller Wiki. Minis are from the old Citadel Traveller range and painted by Rob Affection.