The Emperors Lost Mines - Recovery?

The Emperors Lost Mines - A Roleplaying Adventure

The Emperors Mines had been lost to time, the forges and production lines silent and buried.  Is it possible that their secrets would ever see Sigmars or anyone else's light again?

The PCRC decided that as an alternative to meeting up during the COVID lockdown we could engage in a number of other things we really wanted to do but had not got around to. namely:
  • Fleshing out the Tallowlands a bit more
  • Roleplaying
  • Getting Excited about Age of Sigmar
In other posts Apologist has gone into detail on other aspects of this but here, well here is the story of the PCRCs foray into the Tallowlands as a party of Adventurers, using the D&D 5e rules to give us some structure.

We have had a ball so far, one of their quests involved rescuing a town near Narya:

from the clutches of an evil wizard, based in the dungeons of the local manor house:

The party itself consists of:
  • Wutroth - A wandering Dwarf from the North East with a typical rich dawi outlook on life.
  • Torquil - A human folk hero and swashbuckling rogue whose only weakness is a mirror.
  • Lackjon - An Idoneth Aelf who is on a journey of self discovery as much as he is there to help his friends
  • Balthazer - A Lumineth / High Elf Wizard
  • Xali-Qhops - A 1 year old Lizardperson from a distant realm adventuring for posteriority, to discover the meaning of the twin tailed comet
  • Oriorin - A Paladin who is devoted to Alarielle and to nature as much as he is to his friends.
  • Alaster - A mysterious human Lockpick and rogue from the Sinian Empire before its fall
I am hoping that the PCRC edit this post and/or post their own updates on the adventures of their characters!

They were brought together by their Dawi friend Gun-dren who has caught wind of the Emperors lost mines.  After foiling an ambush and rescuing Sildar (who wishes to bring order to the town), they finally discovered the location of Krag-maw castle, the old ruling center of the vassal fief, from an old witch hunter, Josef. 

Josef was a mysterious man who seemed to know an awful lot about the Sinian Empire at its peak and even some of the characters visiting him.  He showed a keen ability to dispatch the undead with his gleaming antique pistols.

Josef shown here in his official capacity of a Sinian Empire With Hunter.  
That position no longer officially exists since the Empire fell.  Thanks to Apologist for the pic.

The group now seem to be hard on the trail of the mines and of those that are intervening to stop their quest...

Shadows Over Steepacre

High in the mountainous centre of the Tallowlands, nestled at the base of one of the few reliable passes through the peaks of the Tolerance of Crows, sits the town of Steepacre. Not so long ago, this isolated settlement issued a plea for aid against a dire threat. Many heroes respond in the name of justice, others simply to claim the huge reward of gold coins offered. The citizens were clearly desperate, so even help offered by more...."unsavoury" types was gladly accepted. Just so long as the applicants had a strong sword arm or could wield powerful magicks, anyone was considered!

Welcome to Steepacre

After many days of travel the heroes and their retainers finally reached the town of Steepacre, high in the pass through the Hollow Mountains. The warbands marched determinedly through the city gates, merchants and peasants clearing a path. They were met by representatives of the militia in the white and green livery of the town, who asked them what their business was in Steepacre. The heroes informed them that have come to answer the plea for assistance. The militiamen nodded, directing the warbands towards the Red Manticore tavern in the centre of town. The militiamen were obviously used to seeing all sorts coming and going through the pass and don’t seem phased by the array of strangers who had answered the call. In fact, they are much more intent on keeping a wary eye on the pass and the craggy features of the looming mountain peaks.
As the warriors arrived at the Red Manticore it became clear to each of them that more than one hero has answered the town's call for aid. The warbands settled in to drinking and sizing up their rivals, while the landlord ushered the heroes into a private room at the rear of the inn. There they were met by the burgomeister of Steepacre and a captain of the militia.

The Burgomeister's Tale

Jacob Lichtenfels introduced himself as the town's burgomeister and introduced the militia captain as Franz Grűber. He thanked the heroes for coming and promised to pay their expenses for the journey. Then he settled in to tell the story of why he has called for aid...

It all started a few months previously. Sightings of wildmen in the mountains began to increase markedly. At the same time the militia's trained hounds – who are used to protect the sanctity of the Sigmarite mausoleum on the outskirts of town against the feral mountain dwellers – began to act strangely, becoming overly aggressive and near uncontrollable. This was clearly all too much for Old Jonas the gravedigger, who apparently went mad and abandoned his cottage in the burial grounds. He set off down the mountain pass in his cart ringing his bell, never to be seen again.

The burgomeister's nephew, one Wilhelm Lichtenfels, volunteered to take the job of gravedigger to replace Old Jonas. The burgomeister expressed his relief at this as he'd always thought of Wilhelm as a bit of a oddity; a black sheep of the family who kept to himself and spent all his time with dusty old books acquired from exotic traders at Steepacre's market.

After Wilhelm had been in the role for a few weeks the burgomeister began to hear reports from travellers of strange sights and sounds coming from the burial grounds; unnatural lights, pleading voices and soulless moaning to name but a few.
Franz Grüber and a small militia detachment were dispatched to investigate, but as they reached the burial grounds they were set upon by the hounds who normally guard against the feral mountain men. Franz himself interjected into Jacob's tale at this point to say that he personally trained all the hounds but something strange had been done to them so that they no longer recognised him or obeyed his commands. A number of the militiamen were killed and the rest of them were forced to retreat to Steepacre.

Jacob points out that Wilhelm is clearly meddling with strange forces, but he fears to send the militia en mass as this will leave Steepacre unguarded. Wilhelm may very well be waiting for them to do just that, plus there were the wildmen in the hills to consider...

The Burgomeister tasked the gathered warriors with three missions. Firstly they must travel down the mountain pass and enter the Sigmarite mausoleum, destroy any unnatural creatures they find there, and kill Wilhelm Lichtenfels. A bag of gold is promised to the hero that brings a token to prove the demise of Wilhelm.
Secondly, the family tomb of the Lichtenfels is within the burial grounds and the Burgomeister was concerned that Wilhelm may be grave robbing. Jacob's mother was buried this past year with a ring that is was valuable family heirloom. A bag of gold is also promised for the hero who brings him the ring. He hands over an ornate key to the heroes, telling them to look for the grandest tomb in the burial grounds.
Third and finally, Old Jonas the former gravedigger was Franz’ uncle and the family would like to know his fate. They had scraped together a meagre reward, promising a single gold coin to whoever can determine the fate of the old man.

The burgomeister promised that Franz and a small party of the militia would accompany the warbands to act as guides and to confirm that the quests were completed. When one of the heroes asked about the wildmen of the mountains Jacob explained that they are feral types living in the hills above the town and are completely uncivilised. Any further questions were avoided as the burgomeister urged the warriors to set off at once, while there is still plenty of daylight.

The Sigmarite Mausoleum

The warbands finally arrived at the Sigmarite Mausoleum late in the afternoon, their journey slowed by a mist that has rolled down from the mountains. They deployed in a line across the pass to ensure there could be no escape for the Necromancer Wilhelm. Nothing stirs in the burial ground, other than a gentle light flickering in the window of the gravedigger's cottage.

The mutilated corpses of the earlier militia expedition could still be seen in front of the gate. The warbands moved to investigate, ordering Captain Grüber and his men to observe from the safety of the trees. Whether this was genuine concern for the men of Steepacre, or concern that there were surviving witnesses to ensure they got paid, was unclear.

With distorted howls from ruined throats, the reanimated guard dogs burst from the trees on either side of the gate and pandemonium ensues! The flanks of the warband's advance reformed to fight the rotting hounds while the centre pressed on to secure the gate. The Steepacre militia dither in confusion as the various warband leaders shouted conflicting orders.

The hounds were swiftly put down by the hardened warriors. The Duardin Thane insists on making a grand entrance into the burial ground through the main gate.

Leaving Grüber and the militia outside the walls to guard the gates, the warbands pushed deeper into the graveyard...

...and the earth buckled and splits as skeleton warriors rose from their graves to meet the interlopers! The dead form up beneath tattered banner to the sounds of pipes played by lip-less mouths. More skeletons spilled from the mausoleums housing the noble dead of Steepacre. Unphased, the warbands formed a battleline.

Heroic Freeguild knights urge their mighty steeds to jumps the gravestones as they smash into the undead horrors.

The Duardin Thane gathers his household around him and prepares to give the Undead a taste of forged steel! As the Freeguild soldiery reduce the skeletons to piles of bones and dust, more rise to take their place.

The dead continued to claw their way from the cold earth in a seemingly unending procession. The intervention of the mercenary Chaos Champion and the Daemonic Herald on the right flank finally turned the tide.

Old Jonas the gravedigger emerges from the mist, his cart now pulled by skeletal horses and full of writhing cadavers. “Bring out your dead AND your living! Hahahaha!" he cackles insanely at the gathered warbands. Wildly underestimating the threat posed by an insane old man on a wooden cart, some of the mightiest heroes of the age step up and duly smash the charnel creation into dust!

Finally emerging to face those who would see justice done upon him, the Necromancer Wilhem von Lichtenfels strides from the cottage with yet more skeletons at his side.

Leaving the Freeguild and Duardin warbands to deal with the Necromancer, the Chaos warbands head towards the Lichtenfels family tomb and the treasure it contains. However the key they hold proved redundant as the black iron gate swung open and a gang of flesh-eating ghouls emerge! It would appear the stories of “feral, uncivilised men” in the mountains were something of an understatement!

The Duardin Thane and his shield-bearers cut their way through the skeletons to get at Wilhelm. Meanwhile, filthy teeth and crude bone clubs go up against the plate armour and hell-forged blades of the Chaos warbands.The Ghast was the last ghoul standing, but he too was cut down. The way to the Lichtenfels family tomb was now clear!

With his Undead minions smashed to dust, the Necromancer was little threat to a Duardin Thane. The noble hero smote the dark wizard to the ground before raising his hammer to deliver the killing blow.

However the Duardin's hand was stayed as Wilhelm begged the heroes to listen to his story, warning them that they had all been played for fools! He told them that Jacob was the real villain! The Lichtenfels ring has been in the family for generations. It was a Duardin ‘Ring of Passage’ that can be used to move and reshape rock at will. It was gifted to their ancestor Herman Lichtenfels by the last Duardin runepriest to abandon the Hollow Mountain hold.
Herman used the ring to seal the tunnels of the hold to stop it becoming a den of dark creatures. He also used it to widen the pass and raise the great walls of Steepacre. Now Jacob wanted to use it to narrow the pass so that all merchant traffic has no choice but to pass through the town gates and pay the entrance tax on their goods. He was even talking about reopening Hollow Mountain to look for lost treasure!

Wilhelm informed the heroes that this is a particularly terrible idea as the tunnels had finally become infested by flesh-eating ghouls and their kin in recent years. When Karolina Lichtenfels – Jacob's mother – was on her deathbed she asked Wilhelm to take the ring and hide it in her tomb so that Jacob couldn’t get it. Jacob knew Wilhelm had hid it somewhere and kept sending Franz 
Grüber to try and extract the information from him by force.

Eventually Wilhelm became sick of the intimidation and having his property wrecked in the process, so after Old Jonas vanished he moved to the grave digger's cottage in the Sigmarite mausoleum to get away and try and protect the ring using the only allies he could muster – the dead of Steepacre. But now Wilhelm believed Jacob had worked out where the ring was hidden and sent the heroes to kill him and reclaim the heirloom

The heroes protested that tale is no excuse for dabbling in foul necromancy, but Wilhelm shrugged and says it’s just a tool, like a hammer or a musket, and was not inherently evil.
After a brief conference the heroes agreed to spare Wilhelm and take him back to Steepacre and confront Jacob with his story. But before they could restrain him the ground beneath Wilhelm's feet collapsed and he was dragged screaming beneath the earth by a multitude of filthy, ghoulish hands. As the Necromancer was carried off into the tunnels below, the heroes could just hear him shouting a warning. “Beware! Beware the Ghoul King of Hollow Mountain!”

The Lichtenfels Tomb

While this debate was taking place, the Chaos warbands gained entrance to the Lichtenfels family tomb. Proceeding down the stone steps, they find the crypt teeming with ghouls! Not only that, but there were a series of tunnels connecting to the tomb; tunnels that were crudely dug and clearly not part of the original design. They seemed to lead off towards Hollow Mountain. The sound of claws and bare feet on stone could be heard echoing from within...

The Chaos warbands quickly fell on the ghouls, making short work of them and liberating the Lichtenfels family ring from the sarcophagus of Karolina Lichtenfels. Thinking quickly, the heroes used the magic of the ring to seal the tunnels and prevent their warbands being overwhelmed by tides of Ghouls.

Their quests complete, the warbands quit the burial grounds and travelled back up the pass to Steepacre.

Return to Steepacre

The heroes return to Steepacre to claim their rewards from the Burgomeister. The Duardin carried Wilhelm's hat back as a token of his demise – Franz Grűber saw Wilhelm smashed to the ground by the Thane from a distance and verifies the story – and claimed a bag of gold for this deed.

The Chaos champion put Old Jonas out of his misery, and thus claimed the single gold coin from the Grüber family for determining their elderly relative's fate.

On the subject of the ring, the Chaos champion claimed that by the time his Warriors reached the Lichtenfels family tomb, the ring was long gone! Jacob is surprised by this news but seems to believe the story. He thanked the heroes again for their efforts and then bid them farewell with a preoccupied look in his eyes. It wasn't difficult to work out that he was already trying to fathom what alternative hiding place Wilhelm had chosen for the ring.

The heroes and their warbands dispersed to rest and rearm in Steepacre, but with the promise to reassemble again soon. A mutually agreed plan had been concocted to use the power of the Lichtenfels ring to grant the heroes and their warbands access to the Hollow Mountain, search for lost Duardin treasures, rescue Wilhelm if possible and confront the Ghoul King himself!

The Emperor's Lost Mines - Introduction

The Emperor's Lost Mines - Introduction

Many centuries ago, when the age of Chaos was ended by Sigmar's intervention, the races of the Tallowlands, many of them simple ordinary folk, rose and took arms against the forces of Chaos.  They joined with Sigmar's Stormcast Eternals to retake their lands in the name of order*

They needed to start equipping armies and anyone willing to fight..  In the southern realms of the Tallowlands, they found what they needed.  Rare ore from the hills and mountains and the purest coals and fuels for which to make a Forge - the forge of spells.  It was from here that the finest weapons and armour would be made, both magical and non-magical to equip the forces of Order as they pushed back against the forces of chaos at the start of the Age of Sigmar.  

One of Lucifer216's beautifully painted Stormcast Eternals

It was a time of unity, a time of peace — but it could not last.  Soon the Sinian Empire formed in the North and the races of men, dawi and aelves faded back into their fiefs and squabbles.  They had pushed chaos almost fully out of the Tallowlands and they wanted to enjoy the peace.

The Mine though, and the Forge of Spells, was not forgotten.  The area became first an outpost of the Sinian Empire and later a vassal Fief ruled from Krag-maw Castle, all the while supplying now a small but still significant number of magical weapons to the heroes and generals of the Sinian Empire.  Some of these would be locked in vaults but many of these were put to active use in defending the Sinian Empire from threats both internal and external.

Eventually, complacency set in.  The mine itself was overcome.  There are conflicting reports.  Some say it was a local Necromancer, yet other a beastman raiding party. Perhaps they both raided it.  The result was inescapable.  The mine was looted and its glory and even its very location were lost.  The Sinian Empire was too busy with internal problems to try and recover its remote outpost and its location was lost to time.

*Although behind closed doors this was a simple desire to be freed of slavery and tithe brought by the complacent and ancient forces of Chaos.

Musings on the fabled ‘Treasure Goblin’

Musings on the fabled ‘Treasure Goblin’ from the correspondence of the adventurer and explorer, Zarathustra d’Jons

I have only been in the Tallowlands for a fortnight and my curiosity has been piqued by the frequent earnest — and somewhat heated —discussions I have overheard in several taverns regarding a most curious phenomenon — the elusive ‘Treasure Goblin’. It seems that many adventurers have sworn that they have encountered a curious sight — a goblin-like figure hunched under the weight of a massive sack of gold coins and other valuable items that when attacked quickly scurries away, scattering no small amount of coinage in the process and then once it has gained enough of a lead on its pursuers, it jumps through a gold-rimmed portal never to be seen again. While some have claimed to have killed such a creature (and it must be noted that most of the adventurers who make such claims quickly retire and enjoy lavish lifestyles), no corpses have ever been brought back for inspection and dissection.

While most of the speculation around Treasure Goblins seems to hinge on where they might be found and the vast amounts of riches in their possession, the exact nature of the Treasure Goblin (also known as ‘Loot Fiends’), comes a close third. I’ve heard a score of different theories but the most compelling I’ve heard so far are the following:

The first is that Treasure Goblins are native inhabitants of Chamon, the Realm of Metal and are at best only distantly related to their more commonly encountered cousins, Due to the sheer amount of change magic that saturates much of the realm, Treasure Goblins have developed an ability to creature tiny and very transient realmgates. The males use these to help them gather valuable items for their horde-nests as they are in constant competition with one another to have the biggest shiniest and most valuable nest with which to attract the females of their species. While no-one I’ve interrogated has directly laid eyes upon a female Treasure Goblin, I am told that they are several times more intelligent than their male kin and that natural selection has made them unparalleled in the art of assaying the value of precious metals and magical items. One drunkard tried to tell me a far-fetched story about a civil war between Fyreslayers that was triggered when one clan tried to sack a community of Treasure Goblins, only to find that their would-be victims had hired another clan in defence.

The second theory is that Treasure Goblins are in fact lesser greed-daemons of the Youngest God and while they are normally encountered in the Circle of Avidity — the outermost boundary of Slaanesh’s most pleasing and wondrous realm — such is their avarice that they have an uncontrollable urge to plunder the Mortal Realms. It is also said that during the height of a great reveal in which our beloved Lord gave himself over to sensation as is his divine nature, a greed daemon dared to sneak past the God and his/her handmaidens and ran off with Slaanesh’s scepter. In his wrath, Slaanesh decreed that from that moment until the end of time, the offending greed-daemon and his ilk should be cursed to wander the realms, endlessly compelled to stuff more valuables into their sacks but for every item added, another is doomed to fall out, so they can never be satisfied.

As a devout servant of the Youngest God (and how could I not be given that I live for the thrill of discovery?) perhaps it is not surprising that I find this to be by far the most compelling explanation. In addition, it makes me question some of the good Cardinal’s assumptions about the Tallowlands. If it is so unmarked by the touch of those beyond the veil, then how is it that Slaanesh’s name is evoked so openly when discussing such a matter?

I should add that only the most unhinged claim that Treasure Goblins were first encountered in a sub-realm with some similarities to the Tallowlands called Sanctuary, whose human inhabitants supposedly claim to be descended from the offspring of Stormcast Eternals and daemons. I find this utterly preposterous, although now I come to think about it no-one has told me that one of Sigmar’s chosen can’t procreate in the conventional manner. I will have to ask the dear Cardinal about this, as he may well know more.

Despite the dubious evidence for the existence of Treasure Goblins, I am told that the adventurers of the Tallowlands have a well-honed procedure should they encounter one. Given that a Treasure Goblin not swiftly killed will quickly escape through a portal, a savvy adventuring party will attempt to strike with overwhelming force and attempt to close off all potential avenues of escape.

When first spotted, a Treasure Goblin is often lost to the world, counting and recounting the contents of their loot-sack. Canny adventurers therefore do their level best to avoid disturbing the Treasure Goblin at first , instead taking great pains to try and find a route around it, so that when they inevitably attack it, it will flee back in the direction of rooms and chambers that the party have already explored, thereby preventing a blind head-along rush into unknown territory.

The necessity of this approach is often emphasised through the retelling of a tale known as Migloth’s Folly. Migloth by all accounts was a priest of Ranald whose love of treasure frequently caused him to lose all situational awareness (a phenomenon referred to by the adventuring fraternity as ‘loot-blindness’), necessitating a great many rescues by his fellow adventurers. One fateful day, Migloth spotted a Treasure Goblin and immediately gave chase. In his loot-blind haste, he failed to realise that he had run straight past a group of bemused Orruks who subsequently put a stop to his desperate race after the Treasure Goblin via the vigorous application of several ‘big choppas’.

Dead hands never tire

I'm nearing the end of my lockdown-supported Ossiarch Bonereapers project. It's now only Katakros who stands between me and hobby completion.

Here's a look at some of the stuff I've painted recently, starting with the Ossiarch endless spells. While some might ungenerously say that endless spells are Games Workshop's way of getting another £22.50 out of everyone who wants to buy a new Battletome, I love the concept — as it adds so much character to each army, really emphasises the high fantasy tone of Age of Sigmar and provides an extra dollop of cinematic feel to the gaming table.

I painted mine using a very restricted colour palette — both for speed and to emphasise the fact that they are almost completely made of magic rather than magically sculpted bone.

Up next we have a trio of Ossiarch characters, my Liege-Kavalos, a Mortisan Soulreaper and Vokmortian. I kept the Mortisan Soulreaper in my standard army scheme as I didn't really see the need to make him look more sinister and I was keen to see what he'd look like in a less dark scheme. My Liege-Kavalos fought me every step of the way — the model has a lot of detail crammed in around its centre and feels very cluttered compositionally. When I first saw the Vokmortian model, I was reminded of the opening scheme of 300 and while it's a nice enough model, it could have done with being on a larger scale to allow more space between the staff and his head.

Finally, here's my two Mortek Crawlers. I used a lot of contrast paints for the brown gradients/transitions and I was surprised at how just how much you have to dilute down the contrast paints to do so. My favourite bits are the glowing skulls — which I did using the method set out in the Battletome.

Painting the Emerald Wardens

I have something of a love/hate relationship with Instagram — on the one hand, I love the sheer amount of inspiration to be found and the amazing standard on display across the miniature painting community really motivates me to work on my own painting skills. On the other hand, I really don’t like the way that it currently tells you how many (or in my case how few) liked your work.

 Anyway, having really gotten into the Age of Sigmar lore and with my Ossiarch Bonereapers (the Nehekankh) almost completed, I had a hankering to do a Stormcast Eternals army and started looking on Instagram for inspiration for colour schemes, as most of the standard ones just weren’t grabbing me and I didn’t want to go down the (admittedly) awesome Hammers of Sigmar route. I stumbled upon baalu_wildheart’s incredible evocators painted in the colours of what I assure are the Celestial Vindicators and was instantly smitten!

I’ve not included any pictures of her models, but do check out the link, you won’t regret it. As I’ve long wanted to try my hand at the non-metallic metal (NMM) look, I thought it would be worth giving it a go. I realise that this is hardly an original approach, but given how much I have to learn as a painter, I think it’s really helpful having such beautiful models as a reference and a yard-stick for comparison.

 Rather amusingly, having experimented with a basecoat of Kabalite Green, sketching the highlights with Corax White and then using thinned Kabalite Green and another method (basecoating with a 4:1 mix of Kabalite Green and Corax White, followed by lots of glazes), I’ve discovered that baalu_wildheart very kindly posted details of her recipe for the turquoise and red some time ago.

 However, I don’t consider it time wasted as it’s been good practice. That said, I am glad that I started with the Stormsire's Cursebreakers from Nightvault rather than a part of my main army.

 Here’s my first attempt — she’s still WIP and now that I have a better idea of what I’m doing, I’m tempted to go back and fix a few things.

And here’s a (very WIP) second attempt. The use of glazing means I’m much happier with the transitions, but I reckon that the basecoat probably should have been a touch darker).

 I should add that while I love Baalu_wildheart’s colour scheme, I’m not a big fan of the Celestial Vindicators — they feel too much like pre-heresy World Eaters for my taste and while I do like the XIIth legion, I wanted to do something different lore-wise. Given that Apologist and others really wanted me to create my own Stormhost with some good links to the Tallowlands. It occurred to me that it would be great to have an band of stormcasts defending a damaged realmgate to Hysh that bathes everything in an emerald light and came up with the idea that they’re all drawn from partisans/guerilla warfare fighters — those who kept on fighting after their lands had been conquered by Chaos before Sigmar’s Tempest and the Age of Sigmar. You can find my background for my Emerald Wardens here.

A quick side-note on painting — one of the things I’ve learned fairly recently is the importance of continually looking at the model you’re working on from as many angles as possible. With the sheer amount of detail on modern miniatures, it’s very easy to miss areas and given that the eye relies on the borders between details to resolve them, it’s essential to be as neat as possible where one colour/material meets another (e.g. where the turquoise armour meets the gold trim). I’ve found that the Citadel Model Holder really helps in this regard.

To help provide consistency, here’s a list of all the paints I’m going to be using going forward. 

Baalu_wildheart’s turquoise armour recipe 
Vallejo Model colour Dark Sea Blue base colour Glazes of Game Colours Jade Green and Foul Green and Aquamarine (Pacific Color) for final highlights.

 Baalu_wildheart’s red fabric recipe 
Vallejo Model colour Burnt Red, Calvary Brown and Basic skin tone

 Red fabric (GW paint alternative) 
Basecoat Mephiston Red Shade with repeated applications of watered down Red Tone (in the shadows only) Highlight with Evil Sunz Scarlet, for the sharpest points on the folds use a 1:1 mix of this and Jokaero Orange, followed by pure Jokaero Orange.

Red gems 
As fabric but ignoring the shading step and starting with a basecoat of Gal Vorbak Red, highlight of Word Bearer Red, then Mephiston Red. Do final highlights of Jokaero Orange/white, then gloss varnish

Soul Crystals 
Basecoat Temple Guard Blue, Highlight with Lothern Blue, Highlight with 1:1 Lothern Blue/Corax White Final highlights on the corners of the crystal with Coax White. OSL the surrounding area with glazes of very thinned down Temple Guard Blue.

Off-white shoulder pads
Basecoat Morghast Bone Several layers of Wraithbone

NMM Gold
Basecoat Game Extra Opaque Heavy Brown (72.153), Wash with Sepia (72.091), Highlight with Game Extra Opaque Heavy Gold Brown (72.151) Highlight with a 1:1 mix of Heavy Gold Brown and Corax White Corax White for the most extreme highlights

 NMM steel 
Basecoat with Game Colour Cold Grey (72.050) Highlight and shade with mixes of Cold Grey and white or black as required. Note the NMM Vallejo guide/kit has a few more steps for adding some tone, but these aren't needed given that the areas are small and will get glazes for tone anyway on the swords. Note that the coloured swords require very light basecoats on which to work, so I’ve realised that it’s probably best to go Celstra Grey, Ulthuan Grey, Corax White (the latter used for the sharp highlights and little diagonal lines) and then apply contrast paints.

Blue/green/yellow transition on swords Talassar Blue and Warp Lightning contrast paints, with a thinned glaze of Lamenter Yellow towards the top. Basing Stonework/paving Rakarth Flesh Edge highlights and stippling with Pallid Wych Flesh Glaze of thinned down Dryad Bark (medium, and a little bit of water) Thinned down yellow glaze Mud Dryad bark, highlighted with roughly a 2:1 mix of Dryad Bark and Corax White. Leaves Basecoat Jokaero Orange Agrax Earthshade wash Red Tone wash

Loot For the Loot God!

"Sure, battle is delightful. yes, I've got a mission and a cause that are very dear to me... but really, when you get down to it, its all about the loot." 
- Grand Duke Chaunterwick- 

As you have seen we are supposed to be painting Age of Sigmar armies for our Tallowlands campaign.

so, Naturally, in true PCRC fashion, I've got sidetracked and painted something else...

found a nice box of funky objective, so now they are ready to play.

The Uncharnel

"A gentle tapping downstairs in the wee small hours,
A whisper in the empty room that's never used,
A snapping twig behind you on the lonely road,
You are never truly alone in the Tallowlands."
These are the first finished models for the small Nighthaunt force I'm putting together called "The Uncharnel".
"Who are The Uncharnel you ask? Legend tells they were a band of mercenaries who betrayed the Duardin of old. They paid a kin-traitor for knowledge of the secret tunnels and vaults deep below Hollow Mountain and sought to steal the heirloom treasure right out from under the Mountain Folk.
But a traitor's tongue can be bought twice, and the mercenaries were betrayed. In their wrath, the Duardin collapsed the secret tunnels, burying the avaricious humans alive.
And there they remained for untold ages, as unquiet spirits consumed by greed and a hatred of the living, until the fateful day they were released by the Ghoul King of Hollow Mountain. But that's a tale for another time..."

If you'd like to read more about how I created the LED candles then check out my blog here. More Tallowlands Undead from me coming soon!

Ironbreakers marching on

Paint in progress

Not quite ready for the warpath yet, but I'm pleased with how this regiment of Ironbreakers is coming on. I think the yellow shields have made a big difference, helping to break up the all-metal impression they had previously. It also adds a welcome splash of colour.

The shields were painted with Averland Sunset (note to self: buy more of this paint), then washed with Seraphim sepia. Once dry, I diluted reddy brown – Skrag brown, I think – to a very thin consistency using flow improver. This was washed over the shield. While wet, I used a clean, dry brush to lift the wet paint off highlighted areas, leaving it in the recesses and towards the  bottom of the shield. It's a nice quick way to establish shading on curved areas; one I usually use for Space Marine pauldrons – so nice to see it works here, too.

Diversity and uniformity

All the modern dwarf models are very similar in pose and equipment – they're differentiated by little more than having four styles of heads and four weapon options across two boxes; but they are cross-compatible. The Hammerer boxed set, for example, also builds Longbeards; but both Hammerer and Longbeard heads fit on the Ironbreaker bodies. It's quite limiting – particularly when I've been spoiled by the sheer cross-compatibility of ranges like orks, marines and guard.

To further complicate matters, I'm rather stuck with particular combinations, as the army is made up of second-hand ready-built units. For example, the models above include ones with heads from three different groups – ironbreakers, longbeards and hammerers. This is partly a blessing in disguise, as it's given a much more believable lack of uniformity to the unit – after all, if you call up troops from your lands and tell them to bring their gear, you're unlikely to have them all equipped with the same style of helm. It also adds some welcome variation in faces and heads, something that often makes multipart plastic kits less characterful than their one-off metal sculpts equivalents.

On the other hand, this doesn't make things easy for playing, so I've been at pains to differentiate the units where possible. This is as much for visual variety as anything else, but will also hopefully be useful when playing games, making it clear where one unit begins and another ends. In addition to the colours of the shields, they also all share an ancestor face design.

If you know you're going to be building an army using multiples of the same kit, pre-planning might be worth it. Picking a particular design of shield (or weapon, or helmet, or body style) for a unit offers a nice way to add some subtle character. You often don't have to be completely exclusive; there are often sub-variants – the standard dwarf kits include a few ancestor head variants. Similar enough to hand together, but not completely uniform.

I also thought I'd play around with some knotwork patterns. I didn't want to go straight for a big banner, so had a play on the drumskin.

The Adventures of Nathaniel Hultz: Part IV

The Hurricanum and the Celestial Council
They say the design for the 'Emperor Karl Franz'* vehicles were handed to the Celestial Council by Sigmar himself and that he laughed with joy** when the first of these vehicles was created, a template for all of the others.  The design has changed little over many centuries although the celestial wizards of Alba Mesa, of which I am one, use their mechanical beasts to pull the sacred device.

It was with great honour that I was asked to take charge of the Cosmic Smite - the 'Emperor Karl Franz' that was stationed in the temple at Alba Mesa and to take responsibility for its sacred duties.  Although primarily a vehicle of war, the machine has other peace time functions as well and I intend to discharge these duties well.

I have not yet been invited to sit in the circle of sovereigns in the council much to my frustration, what else do I have to prove, was victory in the battle of Broken Pacts not enough for them?  Did I not save them in their hour of need?  I fear some suspect that I have achieved my position too quickly for one so young.

I must continue to be patient and assuage any suspicions they have.  I have not read from or used the book now for some time.  Not because I fear it, it has been most helpful to me and indeed nothing to fear, but because the use of its lessons may raise suspicions.

It is possible I will not need the book any further, I have gained much mastery and knowledge and there is no need to tempt fate.  If I am right though we can begin to reclaim the charred lands and to drive chaos and its foul allies back towards Nygorach - perhaps they can be contained for good.

*Although without a name for the vehicle it is wise to assume that the inscription on the vehicle is its name.

**We hope it was joy

Painting Snorri and Nialon

Painting Snorri, Nialon and Coln

I'm finding the odd mix of soft and hard detailing on the plastics a bit of a bear, but these Forgeworld pieces were a real treat to paint.

Nialon himself looks thoroughly grumpy yet determined: very characterful. He's the first white-bearded dwarf I've attempted, and I'm quite pleased with the result. I suspect I'll use the same technique – blue-white base highlighted up to a creamy yellow-white finish – for the bulk of my Longbeards.

To the base above, I added a few tufts of static grass from Gamer's Grass.

The completed figure's not hugely different – I mainly concerned myself here with tidying up the leather and picking out the various gold bits. I did experiment with brighter fabric, painting the ruddy leather above with a bright blue, but decided against it in the end and reinstated the deep red. It gives a lovely earthy feel to the figure, and frames the face nicely.

Coln, on the left above, was fun as well. Having areas of skin beyond the face is always nice, because you can play around with varying the hue. The back, neck and forearms can be darker than the inside of the arms, for example, suggesting that he's not always wandering around half-naked.

The strawberry-blond beard and hair was very enjoyable, and I think it's the bit I'm most pleased with. It really runs the gamut from deep dark to bright highlights – you can see how much cleaner my paintwork on Coln's beard is compared with Nialon's. That could do with a bit of tidying up... but time is pressing on.

Being a younger dwarf, Spilaf has a ruddier complexion and a darker beard. I used some red and purple washes to bring out some colour. The deep, clean lines of the sculpt made painting the face a cinch, even taking into account the helm. The plastics, on the other hand, have really soft, vague detailing on the faces, which makes them far less fun. Probably why I've done basically all the characters and finished none of the troops!

It made sense for me to try some brighter colours for Snorri – as the banner bearer of the hold, he's an important figure, and needed to stand out. Unlike Nialon, who gets to choose his own clothes (and has opted for practical everyday wear), this was a good chance to try some brighter hues. He's thus wearing an honorific uniform of red and yellow.

Again, I started off with really bright colours (Vallejo Flat Red and Flash Gitz Yellow), but the result felt slightly wrong for dwarfs, suggesting modern dyes and cleanliness – neither of which I want to evoke with this army. I therefore glazed over them with Averland Sunset and Doombull Brown, muting them a bit. The resulting mediaeval flavour of muted reds and yellows worked well, and I think I'll extend it further elsewhere in the army; perhaps for the Cyng himself and his personal guard. The banner itself was a good opportunity to experiment, and a rewarding one.

I opted for various precious metals around the banner, and a boar symbol for the hold. It's important when painting things like this to picture elements separately. The boar symbol would – in my mind at least – be central, which in this case meant that it would be overlaid by the sculpted book. That meant I had to take that into account when adding it, painting around the book as though the boar continues under it. I hope the symbol still reads properly.

I decided the book itself would be a Book of Grudges – that's something I really like from the classic Warhammer dwarf background. To that end, I've added some text using a mix of black and sepia (pure black is too stark) – and then I've scored out a few (presumably completed) entries with red lines!