Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Finding Proxies – Part 2

After having a look at some proxy models for Sherwood, we're moving on to the Nottingham faction in Project Hood.

With Guy de Gisburne I was stuck from the very beginning. He's quite a unique character – finding a 28mm model with a little chainmail armour and a 2-handed sword that looked reasonably scary has been a challenge. I have ended up temporarily going for a Reaper miniature. I ordered a box full of Reaper stuff 18 months or so ago and it took an age to arrive (so long in fact that we'd moved house!). When the parcel did arrive I got very excited, but was devastated to discover that their 28mm figures are closer to 30mm and look like giants compared to the models I had already collected.

However, this Mendevian Crusader didn't look so bad and given Guy's intimidating presence it made sense that he might be on the tall side. It's not perfect by any stretch but it will do for now.

For the Nottingham troops I started off, when this project was in its infancy, going to the Perry Miniatures website. They have a great collection of Crusaders that fit the bill perfectly. I then found my way to the Foundry stand at Salute this year and picked up some more suitable Norman soldiers. The newer Norman miniatures have great character, with some more dynamic poses creeping into the range.

The other lower end characters in the Nottingham faction (for now) are crossbowmen. Again, Foundry came up trumps with more great Norman miniatures. Salute became quite a shopping spree this year! 

I even bought some of Conquests plastic Norman Infantry but they haven't had a look in yet. They will no doubt surface when I need some soldiers with spears.

When it came to the individual characters for Nottingham things got a bit messy. They're not as well defined as the Sherwood lot, so I've been changing my mind at regular intervals.

Sir Godric from Heresy Miniatures had been my original purchase to represent Gisburne – a long time ago – but his look didn't fit fit Guy's elite nature and so he got relegated. He has become the model to represent Captain Carfax (the inept commander usually depicted by the Gisbourne character in films and tv).

The Sheriff of Nottingham has been a bit of an issue. In game he is dressed in his armour, so I was looking for a Norman commander type that didn't look too confident (the Sheriff can't actually fight!) that I could add bits to. By the same token I didn't want to spend a fortune on a command unit for a single model.

I bought this Henchman Squire from the Otherworld Miniatures stand at Salute this year, originally to be a replacement for Carfax above. However, with a bit of creative greenstuffing I think we have found a suitable Sheriff, perhaps?

For Sergeant Leboeuf, the grizzled front line fighter, I needed a model with the tough attributes of a Dwarf but a bit taller. I have acquired two options here. The first is Ferrus from Hasslefree (above). He came with a 2-handed axe which will need to be replaced with a hammer and shield. He is very heavily armoured and has a cloak, neither of which applies to our Sergeant. Originally this character was meant to be a mirror image of John Lyttle but it has evolved over time to not be so similar. The Hasslefree miniature was bought at the same time as the original John model. Now I'm thinking he's a bit tall.

The alternative is a Male Fighter from Otherworld, a chain clad warrior with an axe and shield. He will need a head replacement I think and his backpack removing (this is no shopping trip!) but is a viable contender. I bought this guy at Salute a few years ago (another possible Gisburne model) but has never left his blister. Difficult decision.

Finally for the Raven characters we have the Bishop of Hereford, grumpy money grabbing clergyman who is a great supporter of Nottingham and an even better target for the outlaws. I mentioned yesterday that clergy were in abundance at 28mm and again I have been left with a tricky decision.

This Bishop, currently on special offer at Mirliton came to my attention after a google search. I think he's my favourite option at the moment, but ordering from Italy could be problematic.

Next we have a Gripping Beast Bishop and Attendant, which again looks the part. These are very reasonably priced (both models for same price as Mirliton bishop).

Perry Miniatures do a Bishop as part of this Clerical Command set. Great models but pricey given that I'm unlikely to use the others in the set.

Finally we have The Bishop from Hoka Hey Wargaming as part of their Border Reavers range. Whether he is accurately attired for the time is largely irrelevant as the posture and character of these models (you get mounted and foot versions) is perfect. The fact that he is hold a goblet of wine is excellent (though I may need to swap out the sword for a bag of gold).

There are a lot more Bishop options but these are probably the main contenders at the moment.

Now, all this searching and 'click to buy' is great, but we need to see some progress on the tabletop. I'd better get my sleeves rolled up!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Finding Proxies – Part 1

With the first complete draft of the Project Hood skirmish rules finished this week focus obviously shifts to play testing them. I'm sure games designers elsewhere would resort to paper templates and cardboard figures just to get the testing underway. However, I'm looking at things in my own unique way so have been looking for actual proxy figures, in lieu of me getting something closer sculpted and cast.

The main issue I'm having is one of scale. I have ended up at the 28mm point, as it seems to have the best selection of models, but the actual sizes of models varies dramatically. This has made the task more tricky (and expensive as models arrive in the post only to be giants compared to the others!). Here's the story so far.

I did start this process some time ago and settled upon GW's Aragorn figure from the LOTR Three Hunters set (above). I'm becoming less and less attached to this figure as I don't think he's agile enough for the Hood in this instance. We will probably revisit him at some point in the future.

For the Sherwood Rangers (a lower level character choice in-game) I went back to GW's LOTR series, this time choosing the Rangers of Gondor. They're pretty close, have a variety of poses and they're plastic, which is great.

I do need to find some Sherwood Outlaw models, but am currently still searching for something appropriate. I have looked at individual models and plastic kits but am yet to find something that feels close enough.

When it comes to individual champions, things get a little more interesting. The opening faction lists comes with four individuals for inclusion within a game so these are the ones I'm looking for at the moment.

I did have a model purchased to represent Marian. I do love this figure and bought it at Salute a couple of years back. It's Lenore from Hasslefree and I have spent many an hour getting her painted up. However, much like Aragorn above, just as it became table-ready I decided that the model doesn't convey the characteristics that Marian has in-game.

Instead I have now gone for Alicia, another Hasslefree product. She looks more likely to get stuck in and get her hands dirty than the previous model. I may add a bow and quiver to get her more into character, but it's a pretty good starting point.

The next character I've been looking at is John Lyttle. Again I found myself at Hasslefree's website and initially purchased Wolf. It would have involved a fair amount of greenstuff additions but I thought he had some key features of the character. Alas the prospect of all the extra work required soon relegated this model from the workbench and into the metal mountain. I needed something else.

Again, Hasslefree came to the rescue, this time with Woldur. This model has a much better stance and hair that is exactly what I was looking for. Changing a double-handed axe into a quarterstaff is not such a chore, so I don't expect this model to take long to muscle it's way onto the painting tray.

When it comes to 28mm clergy I've discovered we are truly blessed. It has not been difficult to find a model to represent Tuck… in fact that's the difficulty – too much choice!

This year at Salute I picked up the Otherworld Male Cleric, which aside from the backpack fits in well. I have since noticed an abundance of chain mail which throws a spanner in the works, but it's such a characterful model it's not been discounted yet.

At a previous Salute I bought not one but two monks from Heresy. The first is Brother Bude, an exocist. I love this model, except for the outstretched cross which is not really appropriate for this application. I could do a quick weapon swap and replace it, but we'll see.

Then we have Brother Lucius. This guy has an actual war hammer, which may need replacing, and feels a little more frail than the other choices. Stay tuned to see which way this decision goes!

Finally (for now) we have the hot-headed man in red. Despite having lots of Bezerker type model options to fill the role of Will I'm struggling to find one that fits the image I have.

To be continued…

Project Hood Blog Posts

A list of the various Project Hood posts to be found on this blog…


Friday, 11 September 2015

Project Hood – Who Is Baron De Bellac?

Character by Daniel Kamarudin
Whilst the current play test rules for Project Hood only have the Nottingham and Sherwood factions established, there are several more being devised. The De Bellac faction is close behind the first two in terms of development, so much so we have a first visual of the faction leader – the Baron De Bellac.

The Baron is a man of great standing. Well known for his charm and good looks, despite his age – he is a popular figure amongst the powerful and wealthy circles in which he moves. A widower for some years, he never re-married after the death of his wife during childbirth – his now teenage daughter, Lilith, a constant reminder of his lost love.

But he has a secret. He intends to bring his lost love back to life and will do whatever it takes to see his beloved wife Catherine again.

He fought as a knight for King Richard in the Middle East and remained there a long time once the fighting was done. He soaked up the culture and studied many ancient texts, learning the art of suggestion and mind manipulation. Now he uses these skills to gather together the resources he needs to perform a ritual of rebirth. Whilst now totally comfortable with the path he's on he is unwavering in his dedication to it. Wearing the mask helps him to mentally separate his public life from private.

Lilith is fully aware of her father's plans and has helped him in his studies. She too has learned a thing or two but her goal is power and the thrill of having power over others. Aided by her malevolent wet nurse and a host of cultists, she'll manipulate anyone – including her father – to get what she wants.

I love a bit of sword and sorcery and whilst I wanted to touch on magic in this game I didn't want it to get all arcane blasts and fireballs. It's magic as the people of the time would perceive it, easily explained these days by slight of hand and the power of suggestion (aided by the odd mind altering drug or two). It's about the illusion of magic and the power that comes with that. Whether this will develop further into something more supernatural in the future, who knows. If the Baron can crack the ritual then a whole other door opens up for him.

Character-wise the Baron takes on a Mr Freeze type role, with his only focus being his lost love. Unlike Freeze, the Baron could end up dabbling in necromancy rather than science to achieve his goal. I also like the spoilt child working behind the scenes on a completely different end goal, both with and against the father. This injects another strong female character into the mix and the faction as a whole offers great visual variation to Nottingham and Sherwood.

Unsurprisingly, this faction is Willpower focussed. Whilst not heavily armoured they are (almost) all very agile – assassin like. We will see how they stand up to arrows and steel.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Project Hood – Who Is Guy De Gisburne?

Illustration by Doug Telford
After introducing you to the idea of my latest Project Hood, I looked briefly at the character of The Hood, who he is and why he does what he does. Today is the turn of Nottingham's finest – Guy de Gisburne.

In modern culture, Sir Guy of Gisborne is usually depicted as incompetent. An individual with position but no heroic qualities, able to fail at the simplest of tasks. Even in the original ballad "Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne" the noble Guy sets out to kill Robin but manages to only get himself beheaded by the outlaw.

When it came to Project Hood, I needed a leader for the Nottingham faction. Whilst the obvious choice would be the Sheriff, he's more of a politician than a fighter which doesn't bode well in a skirmish war game. I needed a hero that could stand toe to toe with Robin Hood.

Let me introduce Guy de Gisburne – 'The Raven'.

Even as a child Guy de Gisburne liked a challenge, obsessed with being the best at everything, he joined the Crusade in search of glory and renown. When captured by Saladin’s army he found only misery and pain, toiling in the heat and forced to fight for sport. After escaping he made his way back to Europe, offering his martial skills as a mercenary along the way. Over time his reputation as a mercenary/bounty hunter grew, he was a man who could get the job – any job – done, for a price. He is a perfectionist in every sense.

His appearance in a town or city was a unsettling precursor and townsfolk began to even fear his name. He does not care who his target is or why they deserved to die, his single-mindedness and emotional detachment essential in completing his missions. People began calling him the Raven – somewhere deep inside he quite liked it and the sinister reputation he had.

Then he heard about The Hood – it was too enticing a challenge to pass up.

In game The Raven has taken charge of the forces of Nottingham – once a laughable collection of individuals, but now a trained unit of soldiers. Brutal and capable.

If the Hood is a mixture of Batman and Rambo, then Guy is surely Nottingham's Darth Vader to the Sheriff's Governor Tarkin. Throw in a dash of Boba Fett and you have a man who is resourceful, intelligent and deadly. His very name can send a shiver down the spine and his presence can instil terror and bravery in his own troops in equal measure. He is the ultimate nemesis – a man who can not only out-fight you, but out-think you. He just always seems to be one step ahead.

Friday, 4 September 2015

RIP Little Angels

Alan (left) and his brother Ghalib

I don't normally comment about things in the news – this is primarily a hobby blog so should stay light-hearted – but I had to talk about this.

It was Wednesday evening when I saw the images of little Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey – a place I did a photoshoot at many years ago. They are heart-wrenching and deeply disturbing. As the father of a little boy myself the photos have absolutely shredded me up inside and I've been haunted by it for the past couple of days. I get choked up every time I see the photos but I want to read more about Alan and the circumstances that led up to the situation in the photographs. For some reason I feel the need to find out who he was.

If you want to see the photos they can be found here, but I warn you they cannot be unseen and they are not pleasant.

The boys with their father Abdullah

Now, there is lots of debate about why it happened and pointing fingers to place the blame and I'm not interested in discussing that. This kind of thing probably happens on a daily basis somewhere in the world and it's easy to become indifferent to it all, but this time something seems different. Maybe the graphic images depicting the reality of things has struck a chord the world over. Will it have a lasting effect, who can say? It has had a huge impact on me personally.

I just want to take a bit of time to think about Alan and his brother Ghalib, two little boys who probably didn't understand what was going on and lost their lives in the darkness attempting a 2 mile boat journey in a tiny dinghy with the promise of a better life in Europe.

They are due to be buried back in their home town of Kobane in Syria this afternoon.

Rest in peace little angels.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Project Hood – Who Is Robin Hood?

Illustration by Doug Telford
The most common tales put Robin of Locksley living as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest, not far from Nottingham, in the time of Richard the Lionheart. Historians would have us believe that the famous outlaw was a Yorkshireman, living in Barnsdale or Wakefield and causing havoc during the reign of Edward II, some 100+ years later.

There is also a library's worth of fictional novels available that have Robin sporting a variety of outfits and wildly differing characteristics. In some he is a hero, in others a psycho?

It would seem that there are no rules. Robin Hood is an amalgamation of hearsay, tall tales and storytelling on top of a grain of long forgotten truth.

When it came to my Hood project, defining the Robin character became pivotal and quite an obsession. After all the game is named after him!

Let me introduce to you Robert, an orphan from the tiny village of Loxley. An athletic and energetic child, he yearned for excitement and adventure. When a band of knights passed through the village on their way to the Holy Lands, he packed a bag and followed them.

Things were not as he had imagined and the horrors of war scarred Loxley to his core. After a treacherous journey back to England the world-weary Robert planned to live in peace in a quiet part of the countryside, contented with simply being alive.

Alas, this plan also did no got as expected. He was not allowed to live a quiet or peaceful life as he and nearby villagers were constantly having their money and food taken from them as taxes for the King. Those who didn't die were starving. Any show of disobedience was punished with an iron fist, many villagers killed for standing up to the authorities.

After a direct confrontation with the Sheriff of Nottingham, the orchestrator of so many of these ills, Robert was arrested for treason. However, he slipped his chains and scaled the walls of the city, escaping into nearby Sherwood Forest. Soldiers were sent after him and he now fights for his life on a daily basis.

Robert decided to hit back, fighting fire with fire. He started a campaign of guerrilla warfare against not just Nottingham, but all those in authority and anyone else who tried to rob him or collect the bounty on his head. In fact anyone who entered the forest would be judged and relieved of their possessions.

After years of fighting for other people, Robert was looking out for himself. Lurking in the shadows he strikes out at those who would hunt him. Soon Nottingham would be losing more soldiers, gold and supporters than it could handle. The Hood (as he became known) was everywhere, yet could never be found or caught.

In our game, Robert 'The Hood' leads the Sherwood faction – a rag tag collection of those who find themselves outside the law. He's a mixture of the anti-hero tendencies of Batman and the survivability of John Rambo in First Blood, thrown together in a man with a deadly aim and a grievance with the world.

As well as having the legendary skill with a bow, our Hood is also extremely agile capable of gliding through the forest at speed using his surroundings. He's a free runner, able to scale the tallest tree or wall – some say he can even leap across the Nottingham Castle moat! Yet despite these two superb abilities he cannot take on the enemy in a sustained fight – hit and run is his art form and he has become a master at it.

Who Is Guy De Gisburne?

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