Sunday 30 November 2014

The White Dwarf

This is actually the third version of the White Dwarf model. Here is my interpretation of him. I borrowed colours from the original John Sibbick painting, though I lightened the skin tones to match my other dwarfs, and from a couple of other painters versions. I am really quite pleased with the result. 
Fandom is a funny thing. And Warhammer fans have to be some of the funniest. It seems that many of them are seldom happy. Perhaps its because they are locked in a perpetual plastic arms race enforced by products that follow the ever decreasing circle. A dilution of a once mighty concept down the plughole of life. 

Or maybe they are just miserable. 

Oh, and before you accuse me for targeting Warhammer fans I could point out plenty of other 'cult' groups who make ridiculous and wild statements of opinion (often disguised as fact) about anything 'new' or 'different.' Just look at the furore over that new lightsaber design in the Star Wars community after this week's teaser trailer. Some elements are all complaining that the lightsaber guard points are unrealistic etc despite the fact that there are a great many unrealistic (particularly the spacecraft that fly like aeroplanes) elements in the Star Wars Universe already. 

I thought it was a great idea when I first saw it. It raised a smile. It was something that I was not expecting. 

Warhammer used to have its surprises too. In the tail end of my regular gaming in Peterborough and Poole in about 2005 the only surprises seemed to be exclamations that the 'new codex' had now 'nerfed' a tried and tested list, optimised to perform well when lining them up and knocking them down. I expect that there will be similar vocal discord about the proposed base-size changes in 40k. 

But push back the envelope of time and we rediscover a period in history when White Dwarf and Games Workshop had a sense of humour and they weren't too po-faced to share it. 

The White Dwarf miniature that was put out as a limited release in 1986 (and was made available to all in about 1991 via the catalogue) is a great example of a more relaxed, self appreciating era. Just look at the flyer advert that was popped inside issues of WD 90 and chuckle to the various in-jokes about White Dwarf staff.

Go on, have a read. 

I love the bit about his axe being called the Edyta and is often replaced. A reference, if you were not aware, of WD's trend of burning through editors after Ian Livingstone's ten year tenure as the boss of the magazine. Before researching the history of the miniature to paint it up, I had no idea that this little flyer even existed and reading it inspired me to come up with some suitably light-hearted rules to go with my White Dwarf when I use him in games. Rather than fiddling around with the stats as presented here (what they are) I thought I would create an '80s style random table to establish what power his Edyta axe will be imbibed with.

EDYTA - Two handed axe

This weapon follows the usual rules for two handed axes in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition. 

For each new combat, and by this I mean a fresh opponent or unit, roll a D10 and consult the following table. This will inform you about which of the 10 enchantments contained within the weapon will be activated. 


1: Living Stone - The wielder's skin bristles with magical energy and turns an ash grey. Flesh has been transmuted to stone and the White Dwarf's Toughness is increased by 2.
2: Marsh - The area around the wielder becomes boggy and uneven. A foul stench wafts up from beneath the turf. The ground becomes very difficult to remain stable on as the soil turns to marsh under the very feet of the White Dwarf's enemies. All opponents in base to base contact with the White Dwarf suffer -1 Initiative.
3: Cock Burn - A magical aura burns brightly from the pommel of the axe. Suddenly, a distracting sensation can be felt 'below the belt' of the opponent to the front of the White Dwarf. The terrible itch, which may or may not have been caused by a visit to 'Dirty Gerty' in Altdorf, causes the opponent to suffer a -2 Initiative for D6 turns. 
4: Blunton - The power of the Edyta affects the weapons of all enemies in base to base contact with the White Dwarf. All models suffer a -1 penalty to WS  due to their blade edges magically becoming dull and blunt. 
5: The Master's Son - Extra-ordinary fighting power surges up through the blade of Edyta and empowers the White Dwarf with the terrible skill of his ancestors. He is awarded a +1 to his WS for D6 turns. 
6: 'Gallag Her' - A hideous voice, sounding as if it is made by an enraged Yorkshireman, resounds from the blade of the Edyta. It utters the War Cry 'Gallag Her' (which is reported to be dwarfish for a very rude word indeed) which causes an instant fear test for all models or units in contact with the White Dwarf. 
7: Forest - The White Dwarf's arms become thickly muscled and as unbending as a tree's bough. The White Dwarf's Strength is increased by 1. 
8: Morning Dews - A mystic water soaks the trousers, socks, underpants etc of whatever is to the front of the White Dwarf. This causes the opponent's clothing to stick to his legs and make him walk like a constipated chicken, reducing his movement by 1. This remains in play for the rest of the game. 
9:Thorn's Ton - This magical enchantment causes spiky thorns to grow from the handle of whatever weapon the model to the White Dwarf's front is currently holding. The model will need to make an immediate I test. If failed, it drops it current weapon in pain and must fight unarmed for D3 turns. 
10: Saw Yeah! - The blade of the Edyta transform into a futuristic chainsaw. All armour saves are ignored (though magical armour and chaos armour retain a 6+ save) for D3 turns. 

Did you see what I did there?

If you are playing a game of Warhammer with dwarfs in the near future, why not try them out and let me know how you get on?

The model I painted wasn't the first the GW put out. This one was the very first, produced in the very early 1980s by all accounts. I cannot say that I have seen this one that often online for sale. 

The second version of the White Dwarf is more common than the first as it was part of the White Dwarf Personalities box set that sold bucket loads. 

Of course, there are have been a great many other White Dwarf models over the years. If you are interesting in having a browse through them then following the link below. 

Saturday 29 November 2014

A Warhammer Bestiary: Zoat

Ah, the zoat! For me, this model had the unfavourable status of 'Citadel's ugliest miniature' and I was really rather reluctant to paint it. In fact, I very nearly didn't have a zoat to paint at all (they are quite expensive you know!) and it was only down to luck I managed to pick this one up for my usual price of 'next to nothing.' 

You see, this is a zoat of two halves. I bought the leg section quite some years previously as a 99p lot on eBay and had to wait until only a couple of months ago to get my hands on the top half for a similar price. It wasn't quite the model I was after, considering that I planned back then to only but one zoat, but the one piece zoat with staff wasn't available. I wouldn't have minded paying a little bit more for that model either. 

Still, I had a complete model and it was on the list to paint, so paint it I did. One thing I knew I didn't want to do when working on this model was use any green. I am feeling a little greened out if truth be told after painting snotlings, orcs and lizardmen of late. So I chose a brown colour for my zoat and to be honest with you, I am really rather pleased with the result. I selected a complimentary yellow shade from the chest area, incorporating a little colour harmony into the process, and used bone to paint up the toenails. 

I used purple to help suggest that the creature's mouth is a little more than just a black hole and highlighted the teeth with more bone shades. The eyes were done with the classic red base and tiny yellow dot, which I feel always brings eyes to life on monsters and creatures such as these. Finally, I painted the funny sphere in the zoat's hand in a kind of electric crackling way that was only partially successful. I am not bothered as it was a first go and its certainly a technique that I would like to do again. 

To conclude, I really enjoyed this paint job and I would be more than willing to have another go at the other fantasy zoat at some time.I hope you like him too!


A Warhammer Bestiary: Snotlings

Despite life throwing everything at us at the moment, I have managed to get a bit of painting in recently. One thing that I have lacked is decent light to take photographs of my efforts. As some of your with know, I prefer to use natural light to capture my work and favour a printed out background to add depth and character to the image.

This morning saw a few rays of sunshine break through the eternal grey of November, so I took advantage of the sudden illumination to take a few snaps of my work. Regular readers will already know about my long term painting project 'A Warhammer Bestiary', in which I try and paint up a model for each entry in the Bestiary section. This model, or should that be models, represent snotlings, a race as 'Warhammer' as can be in my opinion. 

Why? They are rather loony, frankly, and tongue in cheek lunacy is a key element of the earlier editions of Warhammer, and GW generally in the 1980s. Puns, silly ideas and in-jokes abound. Comedy is great foil to horror. 

In researching this paint job I took the time to learn a little bit of background to the snotlings. Obviously, they are the smallest and weakest of the goblinoid races and are perhaps the most cunning and sneaking of their species. They have to be, for they live off the scraps to be found from goblins, orcs and even wild animals. Orcs are even known to farm these small creatures and use them as a food source. When desperate, they even herd them into battle!

Surprisingly, Snotlings are not evil in alignment. They lack the cruel streak to be found in their closest relations and should really be considered more of a nuisance than a threat. Their stats certainly reflect this, though interestingly they are immune to poison, perhaps due to the fungus they grow and use a weapons. 

The miniatures themselves, sculpted by Kev Adams, are great fun. Which is what you would expect from the goblinoid range of the 1980s. They models you can see here were rescued by me from a car boot sale last summer. Its amazing what you can find when the winds of luck blow, isn't it? I would certainly want to collect more of these tiny greenskins in the future as they are varied and amusing to work with. If you don't own any or haven't yet painted any, I really recommend that you do!

Next, a zoat! 

Thursday 27 November 2014


I my last post I made reference to another one of those 'lost' GW games that never quite made it out of the Studio and into gamer's lofts. That game was, of course, Chivalry. A good read of the first page of the article will inform any enthusiast that Chivalry was a game involving battling knights set not in the Warhammer World, but the Fourteenth century and was being developed by Alan & Mike Perry, Dave Andrews and Nigel Stillman. 

Now that is quite a design team, is it not?

Sadly, all we got to see of this game is what I present to you here in this post. A card based system for fighting one on one engagements between two knights. Though with a little conjecture, we could easily suppose that the 'Full Tilt' game published in White Dwarf 215 some seven years later may well have its origins in the Chivalry project.

So what do we have here? In truth, its a fairly simple card game that should resolve a combat quite quickly and if played between to players who are familiar with the system, fairly frantic. Thanks to the enduring images of the knights on the cards themselves, many of which display the zany humour of GW at that time, I could imagine it easy to imagine your models leaping, and slashing and blocking away with gusto. The distract cards are particularly amusing, to me anyway, and remain something I have fond memories of, as are the cleave cards, complete with bloodthirsty depictions of limbs being removed. 

By favourite card has always been the boot card. Classy!

If you don't want to read the article presented in scans I shall give you the quick gist of how the card game works. Players roll a die with the highest scorer being deemed the attacker and the lower, the defender. Each player then selects six cards (attack or defence) from the decks. The attacking player can select one of his cards to represent his first strike, or risk picking the top card on the remaining deck. Once this card has been played its laid down on the table and the defending player checks his cards to find out if he can defend such a strike. If not, the number indicated on the attack card informs the player how many cards he must lose.

Play continues until one player lacks any cards at all. 

This being GW, there are several other 'special rules' to consider that further vary the game and add a little more depth. These rules are linked to the rarer cards in the deck. 

This being White Dwarf, there are suggestions about how the system could be adapted for use in Warhammer. They suggest that the cards are used to help resolve personal challenges on the battlefield and go as far giving you a few pointers how to tweak the system to accommodate it. 

Personally, it looks like a bit of fun and a desire to use it may well encourage players to issue personal challenges just to try out the system. I cannot actually ever remember playing it though, which is a shame, as I played practically everything else GW produced during this era but it is certainly something I hope to try out in the future. 


So then? Anyone else remember this card game from way back in 1990? Did any of you readers actually play it? As always, please share your opinions in the comments section below!


Wednesday 26 November 2014

Bretonnia, Again!

Hello all! Problems abound once again and explain the fluctuating nature of posts here this month. But at least I can snatch a few moments to share these great old dioramas by the Perry's. Play spot the Bretonnian figure in these 'really rather historical' Citadel set-ups and marvel over the proper old school scenery too. 

The two scenes here are all rather 'too realistic' to be considered Warhammer don't you think? The tone of the the scenery is different in style to much of the stuff scene in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. For years I pondered this strange observation. But in recent times, I have uncovered threads that lead towards a 'yet another' unpublished GW game that would have put the Bretonnian range centre stage. For its seems, for a while anyway, that a knight vs knight wargame was being developed in the famous Design Studio. Sadly, shots like these, the outstanding Bretonnian range and few other sources are all that remain of this project. 

Saturday 22 November 2014

'Eavy Metal Special: White Dwarf 129

Issue 129 of White Dwarf had a great selection of fantasy models in its 'Eavy Metal pages and made a welcome change to the sheer number of orks that had been turning up. Pleasingly, many of the models exhibited were Realm of Chaos inspired pieces, though the majority of them had been seen before. 

The first page (shown above) follows this pattern, with a number of models (the Tzeentch champions and the Bolter Wielding Nurgle chap) having been published before, though there are plenty of new pieces. The Chaos Champion on the Chaos Steed is lovely and contains lots of little quirks worth stealing for your own miniatures. Firstly, this model bears a shield with the chaotic eight pointed star and reminds us that even when painting classic figures you don't have to ally them to any particular god - something that can be rather useful if you want the option of fielding different chaotic forces but don't fancy masses of painting. 

And the black and white chequering has shades of Malal too, don't you think? 

The Champion of Nurgle on the Palanquin also impresses me. But then again, its an impressive model that still demands a high price. I foolishly sold my example some years ago for not much at all and then struggled to get hold of another one for under £50. The Daemons book that was published five years or so by GW reintroduced the Palanquin to the army and increased interest in them I guess. The one shown here is painted in suitably grotty colours and looks to smell absolutely revolting - though its the solitary contrasting yellow Nurgling that I like the most. If you are only going to own one larger Realm of Chaos piece, then this one is definitely one to consider.

The two central Nurgle Champions on foot are also worth considering, if only for the interesting (and really simple) conversion where the model on the left has had its halberd replaced with a sword. The model to the left, armed with a sword and pistol (rather piratical if you ask me) has a rather unusual colour scheme for Nurgle; blue and yellow, but one that is executed well. I love finding little gems like this as they can inspire you to paint up your Nurgle models in colours you wouldn't normally consider. 

This second page of Chaos Champions is almost entirely made up from reprinted material. But one model on this page is worth discussing, not because of its paint job but because of its perceived price. Have a look at the Chaos Champion second down from the left, with the Face of a Plaguebearer and double handed sword. When I first started toying with collecting Old School Models in about 2008, I set out to get my hands on as many of the Jes Goodwin chaos champions as possible. 

I am glad I did, though I still lack one or two, for they can now go for healthy prices being so desirable. 

Well, back then you could easily pick up many of them for about 99p. Not so the model we are discussion, and I regularly saw it selling for £15-£20 even then. I got it for £7.77 if I recall correctly, only as that was my highest offer and the winner of the auction declined to pay the £22 or whatever he originally bid. These days, I have not seen the model sell for anything near this amount which provides some of us with a valuable lesson - the price of miniatures goes up as well as down!

Adrian Wink is a name that some of you may well of heard of. He was a prolific contributor to Golden Demon competitions over a long period and won the Slayer Sword in 1997. Here he shows off some of the earlier work. Back in the day, his plastic skeletons were extremely influential for me because I so wanted to emulate his bow strings on his archers. I can remember raiding my mother's sewing box and using pink thread. Its sufficient to say that the results were not as good as Mr Wink's. 

Its nice to see his Marauder Skeletons painted up so well on this page, especially after our recent discussion about them. Many of us agreed that the pirate skeleton shown above is a particular favourite to this day. 

I shall leave you with this final page. Not Warhammer but definitely Realm of Chaos! The wonderfully twisted, chaotic and nightmarish Chaos Renegades. Warped, utterly!

Hope you enjoyed.


Thursday 20 November 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: Marauder Beastmen

Issue 129 of White Dwarf came and went following the now familiar pattern of abundant Rogue Trader and Big Box game stuff, including the seminal Space Marine Armour Variants by Rick Priestley. Warhammer Fantasy Battle is relegated to a few painted figures in the 'Eavy Metal section and the now ubiquitous Marauder Miniatures release.

That month, it was chaos beastmen. 

Now I have many, many Citadel beastmen in my collection, including thirty-odd painted up examples, all of which are different, Back in the early '90s, it was much the same, though most of my models were but sad daubings with paint and brush - a bit like today according to some! Still, I really enjoyed the range for its malevolence and diversity. Even the old Ral Partha beastmen were worthy of ranking up alongside the Citadel ones I had, in fact, many of them were even more zany and bizarre as the mid to late '80s ranges. 

The trouble with the Marauder range was that they just were not as good. They just became the generic muscular goated head men that they would remain, largely, until this day. I expect that producing models to a more coherent design philosophy was much much easier than just letting your sculptors run amok with their wild imaginations, and to be far, some of the examples produced between 1985-7 are really rather naff, but there are more than enough diamonds amongst them to make the risk worthwhile. 

Perhaps Marauder lacked the resources or time and these models were all they had time to produce. At the time I was sorely disappointed by this release, and my feelings haven't changed to this day. There are many great models in the Marauder range (Ogres? Chimera?) but these beastmen are not part of that elite group. 

Even today, with all the sculpting technology that companies have at their beck-and-call, most of the ranges I have seen still hark back to this generic model. The goat man. I think this is largely due to the influence of modern plastic Warhammer figures, after all the other companies just ape the biggest fish, but I for one would really like to see a more frightening, mutated, varied range arrive one day!

Hopefully, sculpted by Kev Adams at the Foundry! (;


After our recent discussions about the different types of troll that can be found in the Third Edition Warhammer World, I thought it apt to have a quick glance at another range that we haven't really given much love to here at Realm of Chaos 80s. During some recent research, I found these lovely two pages from the 'Eavy Metal section in White Dwarf 129 detailing the new (in 1990) Bretonnian range designed by the prolific Perry Twins - who also did some of the trolls we looked at last time!

This little selection serves a a prelude to what would be released some eight months later, with the full blown range of Bretonnians. I can well remember being absolutely fascinated by this group of miniatures at the time, partly due to the historical nature of the miniatures, but also because of the wonderfully bright and patterned colour schemes they came with. 

Something else worth pointing out is that each of the miniatures is named, though the references are far more historical and less pun-tastic that back in the 1980s phase. 

The article also moves on the showcase the mounted knights and the all new (then) plastic horses to replace the rather chunky plastic originals. Again, they are given quasi-historical names, including the curious 'The Green Knight' who seems completely lacking in that particular colour. Unless the green is suggesting that he not yet tasted battle!?

A truly great range this. I look forwards to exploring it a little more with you in the future. 

Tuesday 18 November 2014

For Whom the Bell Trolls: Trolls in 2nd and 3rd Edition Warhammer

I love trolls.

Not the kind who lurk on internet forums the world over, usually hiding behind a pseudonym and a computer screen, that must spout forth how 'correct' their opinion is and how 'foolish' everyone else is. I am sure you will know one or two characters like that by now.

I love the big, ugly and stupid variety (actually, they sound rather similar to the latter, don't you think?) who were uncommonly popular during the 1980s. My interest in them was sparked when I came across the ad for Aly Morrison's C20 Trolls, released in 1985, which I have used to begin this post.

What I didn't realise is that in 2nd and 3rd Edition Warhammer there was more to a troll than being a troll, there were different types, some of which remain in the game twenty-five years or more later. Namely, Marsh Trolls, Cave Trolls, Hill Trolls and Warrior Trolls. Discovering this got me thinking - what type of troll would my troll (Throgg, give a little cheer if you have met him!) be?

Considering that he carries but a stone, is even more stupid that the average troll and wears nothing but a lioncloth that a dwarf with very poor personal hygiene would look at, turn green and ask to leave the room I would say he was a Hill Troll.

Its clear that the four models heralded by the advertisment reflect each of the four types of troll. But what of the others? Which are which and can you decide for you own trolls? Let's have a look at some of the troll miniatures that were put out in the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, trolls had long be popular and models of them have been made since the 1970s. Follow the links below to Solegends if you want to know more about these, I have just selected the miniatures that reflect the 'look' of Warhammer 2 and 3 as I see it.

These trolls were produced by the Perry Twins as far as I can tell. They are comical and rather gangly but have that brutal stupidity that one would expect from these slow-witted creatures. They are also blessed with some of the best names ever created for trolls (perhaps via Tim 'I make up the names' Pollard?) such as Dovogrod Gutsucker, Shakined Bone Bender, Rattlebones Bowlegs and Grog Stuntycrusher among others.

I love these models and they are my prefered ones to represent these rather dim-witted of monsters. Sadly, I have never been able to lay my hands on any of them for a decent price so I suspect that are very popular with other collectors and old school gamers too! 

Here we have slightly different painted versions of the models shown in the advertisment at the top of the page. Until, I spotted the image I was totally unaware of the existance of the 'Warrior Troll' model shown here. Its funny how despite years of research, article writing and months spent trawling eBay, there are new models and ranges to discover!
This range is my second favourite, and are made all the more desirable to me knowing that they represent different types of troll. Chap with the large tree trunk is my favourite of the bunch! 

I threw this example in because I love Kev Adam's stuff. If memory serves, this was one of the very first models that was put into production designed by the Goblinmaster. Kev once told me that there was a second version of this model, a variant that he made but was never produced. I am pretty sure he said he still had it somewhere, so hopefully we will get to see it one day!

Again this is a very popular model. Try finding one under £40 and you are on to a good thing! 

Now these are a real surprise and further echo the fact that despite the years and intensive research there are still plenty of things to discover. For example, these two unreleased trolls were produced by former GW camerawhizz, Phil Lewis, presumably around 1990 and as of yesterday I had no idea that they even existed.

Seeing them makes me wonder if they had any connection with the background book/article about trolls that Graeme Davis told me he once worked on, and that was rejected for no clear reason. Who knows?

Trolls from Marauder Miniatures : Aly Morrison

Finally, we have the Marauder trolls put out in 1989. If you look closely, you can just make out good old Throgg, only with blue skin and no Slaaneshi marking on his beer gut. Like the trolls we have already seen, these are all grotesquely good fun, but seem to be a little more coherent as a group. At this point in Warhammer's history, there seems to have been a drive to standardise the 'look' of many of the creatures and units coming out for the game. This had positive and negative results as we all know, just look at the Big Hat Chaos Dwarfs!
So then, trolls!
Do you love them or loathe them?
And can you work out what type of troll your troll is?

Friday 14 November 2014

WFRP'd: On the Road - Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's First Proper Article!

Though the launch details concerning WFRP appeared in White Dwarf 83, it wasn't until issue 85 hit the newsstands that we got the first proper fresh material published by Games Workshop. Considering that The Enemy Within was due for release and work was continuing on completing Shadows Over Bogenhafen and Death on the Reik, this first dip of the toe into producing content for the new RPG was small scale to say the least.

It weighed in at a measly 2 pages.

Rather disappointing if compared with the lavish opulence of two issues prior.

When you begin to study the first proper article in more detail you can see that Mr Graeme Davis was at the helm of the keyboard in this particular month, and he went as far to state that what was on offer were 'encounters' rather than scenarios. These were throw-away seeds of adventures that could be, with a little imagination, be used to grow something greener. Still, there are some intriguing ideas here for any GM running ANY campaign, and that includes people putting together games of WFB3 with narrative in mind.

Let's explore a little further shall we?

Emmaretta is the first of these, and documents a rather interesting character that doesn't appear to be exactly what she seems. But instead of instantly beating us over the head with chaos, spiky bites optional, Graeme opts for something different. Though she is posing as a hunter (and being alone in the woods in the Old World is an odd thing, even for a hunter) she is in fact, a werecat. A werecat on a journey to free her lover from prison. No daring escape plots no, this is WFRP after all, but a simple case of a bail payment. The danger is that her lover, also a werecat, is not yet able to control his transformations and the full moon grows ever nearer!

Now meeting a character in a strange place who isn't as they seem is hardly a new idea, but getting players to think one way and them surprising them in another is what good GM do. I think that a character like Emmaretta is perfect for small scale skirmish games. The players could meet a figure as they advance who, depending on player choice, can become an ally or an enemy. I can assure you, they won't be thinking of werecats when you describe those rustles in the bush!

Graeme wisely leaves the resolution to this meeting up to you. A couple of evening's play could probably be wrought from the scenarios suggested, with the characters lending a hand to overcome corrupt officials or overwhelmed guards with a prison block invaded by a hungry cat! Though I have never used this scenario in a game, thinking about it now I would probably hold off the fact that she is a werecat until the very end, and push my players into helping rescue the lover along with lots of tension building 'can you remove the key from the sleeping jailor's belt' type activities. I quite like the idea of the two lovers disappearing into the evening's dusk, having said their farewells to the players, only to transform into the werecat forms and dart away into the undergrowth. Of course, I would have the female cat turning back to face the bewildered PCs, raising a paw in silent thanks befroe disappearing into the night.

But that is just me.

A Friend in Need is a atmospheric if a little familiar ghost story. having run this little scenario myself, I can testify about how spooky you can make it. You can really over play the role of the Inn Keeper in warning the PCs not to wander the road at night. Just as you can easily contrive a reason for them to shun the warmth on the fireside. Once out on the road, the darkness and chittering noises in the darkness can help conjure all kinds of potential foes and getting your players to make a few random intelligence and willpower tests only helps build the tension.

Then comes the rain. I always enjoyed rewarding my players with some expensive and fragile and then destroying the said prize. And rain if a perfect tool for frustrating your players. The sodden respite that the roadside shrine can be used to introduce the fact that priceless copy of the Dus Magmentum is now a soggy ruin.

The appearance of the ghost is also great fun to run, particularly on the dark and stormy night. I always appreciated the fact that if your players paid for a costly funeral from their own funds, they were ultimately rewarded with four rubies, worth around 200 crowns in total. Of course, knowing me, there was nearly always a reason for such just rewards to be lost or otherwise confiscated!

Can encounters like this make a good transition to the tabletop? I think so, and the appearance of a model in a skirmish game or mid-sized battle who has an agenda all of their own (totally unrelated to the conflict itself) is always useful for creating subplots. I also like the idea of the players unconnected with the 'ghost' having no idea about what is going on, or what reason the 'ghost', or an appropriate character, might have for being there. Such thoughts breed questions and questions lead to great narrative opportunity!

To conclude, a simple set of encounters like this is not what one would expect to see after such an impressive launch but it is clear even at this early stage, that WFRP is not a mere hack and slash game. Both these situations favour resolution through roleplay rather than action. Something radically different to the Fantasy Battle version. The mix of fantasy and dark horror is welcome and bodes well for the future! 

Illuminations: Mind Bending Art by Ian Miller from White Dwarf 86

While I was researching some of the posts I am preparing about the early days of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, I came across this edition of the once regular Illuminations feature from White Dwarf. In case you don't know, or cannot remember due to all those paint fumes, Illuminations was a semi-regular article published in White Dwarf that sought to showcase the work of the many inhouse and freelance artists that were part if the Games Workshop stable.
A quick glance down the roster of names who were (or had) produced art for the company by the mid -1980s is astonishing and puts their current crop of scribblers to shame really. The two page spread that we see here chronicled some of the work that the famous Ian Miller had contributed to various publications.

Some of the pieces shown here are still well known, but there are a few that I cannot recall seeing elsewhere. Gazing at these vibrant images and getting lost in their intricate, gothic detailing makes me realise how much I need to own Ratespike!

Thursday 13 November 2014

WFRP'd: The Launch of Warhammer's Roleplaying Game

I have written extensive tracts on the release of two other major 1980s GW games in my blogging career. Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition jumps instantly to mind and remains a very popular post with thousands of views to its credit. The second was my analysis of Rogue Trader, which had been published some months earlier, and forms part of another dormant blog of mine. With the slow resurgence of interest in FIRST edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (beyond the hardcore fan base that has always existed in places such as Strike-To-Stun, for example) a number of readers have approached me to ask if I would do something similar with WFRP as I have done with WFB3. Namely, look into the history of the game through its supplements and publications. 

To be honest, chronicling the game of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in this way has always been the back of my mind. After all, its makes up a huge amount of background material that serves to provide all the fluff you will ever need to generate fantastic Old School style games of Warhammer. There are just so many excellent, zany or simply unique ideas secreted away in the material not to explore.

Let's delve deeper then shall we? Issue 82 of White Dwarf saw the arrival of WFRP on the suspecting world. After all, the game had had a fair few mentions in the past in White Dwarf and the project was very welcome. It was to be the 'British version' of D&D surely? What we got was quite different and the influence of other roleplaying games is there to see, particularly Call of Cthulhu. Plenty has already been written about the origins of the game, and its fairly easy to find with a little Googling, but the purpose of this post is to look in detail at the way GW promoted the product through WD 83. So without any further waffle from yours truly, let's have a look at what the world saw back in 1986.

What strikes you first is the quality of the paper, at least in mine, and there is a real feel of the 'pull out special' around the article. Quite why you would want to pull out the article and keep it separate from the magazine is beyond me, but its clear that somewhere someone thought that a pull out would be a good idea. The first page is a surprisingly simple affair by GW standards. No spikes, or grinning ogres of death are to be found here... Just a simple black page with the roleplay titles and its tagline - 'a world of perilous adventure'. 

I must admit at this point to really being surprised by the quality of this article when I first laid eyes on it some years ago. There is something, at least to me, special about the presentation. Something significant in the simplicity of the featureless black background and the titles. It looking perilous indeed from the very off! 

If you turn over you are confronted not by pretty pictures, but a full page of text, interspersed here and there by the then famous (and arguably already iconic) John Blanche Ogre face design. Its a very short story called 'The Reckoning' in which the tone of WFRP is set very much in stone. Dark. Dangerous. Low key and ultimately doomed. Its a part of the Warhammer mythos that many of us old hands miss. When chaos wasn't an omnipresent pantomime villain to be wheeled on for yet another epoch making invasion. It was secret. Unknowable by the characters in the stories our games played out. The majority of the Old World lived in self-indulgent ignorance of the horrors that lurked beneath them and the mind shattering power of chaos. We understood that this was a blessing. Just as we understood that the slow, inevitable decline of humanity would ultimately end with the triumph of chaos. For its very conception, the Warhammer world was doomed to destruction but in a far more subtle way that just the arrival of Nagash and the End of (buy lots of plastic miniatures and big kit monsters) Times. If you wanted large scale invasions of chaos hordes you could do it, by the company line sold a far more intelligent vision.

One of plot and counter plot. 

Of brains over brawn. 

The first page of 'The Reckoning' does its best to introduce the background to the Warhammer world. Of the arrival of the Slann, of their reworking of the world and the disaster that unleashed chaos upon the unsuspecting early societies of dwarf, elf and man. But the visions are dressed up as the ramblings of a mad man. They are not suggested as fact, but a possibility. Gotter's mind may well be able to tap into the horrible history of the Warhammer world but there was always a possibility, inferred or not, that this was just 'one' possibility of the past. His trial in a small town also helps illustrate the low key approaching to adventuring the WFRP encouraged. This is no national trial, just a run of the mill traitor to the state to be tried and executed as per normal. But as it is often with these things... There is more to the tale...

The second page begins with something of great interest to us old school historians of Warhammer. Something absent from the fluff of more familiar times. Let me quote: 

"But Gotter also saw that which gave him hope. Through dimensional rifts at the poles came creatures of light and beauty. Were they the opponents of the fiends or just one more form of chaos? Whatever they were, they fought the demons singleminded in their purpose."

The Gods of Law get a mention. These were to be the arch-enemies of Chaos and show just how much of the Warhammer mythos is influenced by Moorcock's writings. And Bryan has mentioned them to me several times and explained how the Studio had plans for background material, a miniature range and such for the Gods of Law. A few ideas filtered through, here and there, but the ideas concerning these powerful beings were never fully realised. Still, its fantastic to find another reference to them hiding in plain sight. Before reading this article, I didn't know that the Gods of Law were responsible for beating back the first chaos incursion.

'The Reckoning' continues and places Gotter as a Witchunter and not a cultist, at least in his view. He has been caught red handed murdering who he claims to have been mutant worshippers of chaos and he must now die for it. Despite his ravings, other intelligences have interests in him and its not long until we learn that the lawyer, Jurkson, is in the thrall of the secretive and cunning ratmen who obviously have plans for the witchunter. At that point we learn that the lawyer is not the pillar of the community he claims to be, but a mutant worshipper of dark powers beyond the ken of common, decent folk. 

The perfect set up for adventure!

The next page describes the game in a little more detail. Most of that detail will be familiar we those of us even with a passing interest in the game. The vicious combat system is worthy of note as it really was very easy to be seriously injured in the game. This was to be no hack and slash dungeon bash. Fate points helped even out the dangerous nature of combat a little, but even so, getting into a scrap was never something to be taken lightly. 

One thing that was unique about the game was the career system. Your character was largely defined by the career you were given and advancement was determined along a fairly restrictive path, dependent on your skills and the whims of the GM. I loved this system and spent many happy hours creating numerous PC characters from tomb robber to artisan, though I seldom got to play them in a decent game. 

If you look closely, you will see that there was to be a coupon included with the rulebook that if redeemed at a GW store would entitle you to a free set of dice. Presumably all the multi-faceted ones required to make the most of the game.

The following page throws up a couple of interesting nuggets that we haven't discussed before here before. The top of the page is subtitled Realm of Chaos and makes a brief mention of the (then) forthcoming book concerning the dark world of chaos. Underneath is mentions a 'battle scenario pack' named Blood for the Blood God, which seems to suggest that GW were planning on releasing a curious roleplay/battle hybrid when you schemed and fought your way to the generalship if a mighty chaos army before attacking the Empire itself. 

Sadly, I have never read anything more of this project, though there may well be readers of this blog who may know more, and the prospect of combining the 'best bits' of both rulesets is certainly fascinating. Quite how the 'battle pack' was to be presented may well remain a mystery, though it is probably fair to state that it may have resembled a product such as McDeath or Lichemaster rather than just another source book. 

A fascinating 'what if' discovery which just goes to show that even after three years of extensive research, it is still possible to uncover new threads in this old tapestry. 

The remaining two pages document the rest of the content in the rulebook. background, advanced options and so forth. One thing that is stressed here and hasn't really been explored in much depth at all, is the fact that WFB3 and WFRP were designed to be compatible. That characters and story lines established through roleplay could be fielded and used to fight larger battlefield actions. It is this kind of gaming that interests me the most and is certainly something I am keen to explore in detail with my Enemy Within project.

So watch this space!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: Marauder Black Orcs, Dark Elf Assassins, Chimera and War Wyvern

It seems to be a case of long time no see here are Realm of Chaos 80s! Well that would be down to the fact that I have gone and injured myself. Nothing serious, but enough to prevent me from sitting at a desk for more that five minutes without serious discomfort! Hence a lack of postings on this blog, or anywhere else either for that matter. Now before you go imagining acts of daring-do, it was merely a crick of the back after picking up my two year old daughter, but it was a thorough pain!

On top of that, it appears that my email account has been totally spammed while my eye was away and now I need to have a major deleting session of junk. If you are waiting on a response for me, please do email again incase I have missed you while I have been away!

Anyway, back to business... Our little journey through Warhammer Third Edition is coming to its conclusion. We are well into 1990 now and the game as we knew it only had about eighteen months of 'officialdom' left! Things have certainly changed enormously during its lifetime - with the release of more and more plastic kits, a shift in style in regards to sculpting and the incredible success of Rogue Trader/Warhammer 40,000.

But believe it or not, there are still a few items to document and one such release is what I bring forth for your reading pleasure today.

MM27 Giant Black Orcs

Now these were a popular release back in the day, as I can recall seeing them in nearly everyone else's collection but my own. That fact that some of them (C and D particularly) are nearly always on eBay is perhaps testimony to how many were bought over the years. The first thing you will probably notice if you are comparing these models with the earlier Citadel ones from the 1980s is just how large they are. The are very, very big goblinoid models indeed, even by today's standards. I must admit to having owned model C quite recently, and I think I have lost him somewhere, and for quite a while I was put off painting him up due to the model's enormous size. Since researching this article, I have discovered that I was quite wrong in my original view that these models are just another example of the 'oversized' nature of Warhammer in the 1990s. In fact, these models are supposed to represent that very largest, meanest 'Black Orcs' to be found in the Old World or anywhere else!

Obviously, you are going to be hard pressed to get a varied unit out of just four models, though I have met enthusiasts who just love ranks of identical models all painted up and looking in the same direction. Each to their own and all. My feeling is that these miniatures would make fantastic character models for champions and leaders of your Orc warbands. I particularly like the first two models (A and B) in that regard.

Do they stand up against Kev Adam's best work? They have a certain brutish cunning that gives them a clear sense of character yes, and they are varied enough to avoid the 'indenti-kit' look of more modern orcs and goblins. I would still seek out Kev's work as a preference (but that is just my personal taste) but I would be happy inlcuding these big lads in any goblin horde I was amassing.

M73/5 Dark Elf Assassins

These are not my favourite releases from Marauder I must admit. I just cannot get on with the concept behind the models. To me, they really do look like members of a really poor heavy metal band circa 1987. There are shades of Spinal Tap in there too! Perhaps this was deliberate but they really are not as good as Bob Naismith's Dark Elves and Witch Elves that he produced in 1987. This is a real shame, as there is much to commend the Marauder Dark Elf ranges we have already seen, especially the cavalry. I won't be in any hurry to acquire these I can tell you.

MB08 Orc War Wyvern

Looking back, I have absolutely no memory of these model anywhere. Not even in the pages of White Dwarf or on eBay. If I think 'War Wyvern' I instantly think of the Citadel Miniatures boxed version and nothing else. The fact that a painted version of that model appears in the WFB3 rulebook only further solidifies the image of that model in my mind.

That is probably the problem with this model for many. It lives in the shadow of its grander, more well known and perhaps more iconic big brother. Its not a bad model at all and the additional of a choice about the rider, between Champion and Shaman, is also a boon. In fact, the riders are quite useful if you are after character models or even a little variation on other mounted units.
But the model does lead me to one question! Why don't orcs ever ride horses?

MM44/2 Chimera

Now this is a good solid model. Considering that it is supposed to represent a mythical/chaotic beast of terrifying power, it goes some distance at actually suggesting that the creature in question is seriously substantial. For starters, the model really is a great size and seems to dwarf the square monster base upon which it resides. The choice of heads is also worthy of note for the range on offer, with the eagle and rat heads being my favourites. To me, this version of the beast is the definitive one put out by GW over the years. A lovely model and one I really do recommend you pick up if you are into collecting or fielding monsters.