Monday 15 April 2024

Five Leagues From the Borderlands (part 1) – GETTING STARTED


I got hold of the physical version of the (Five Leagues from the Borderlands) book a little while back… but, aside from watching a few YouTube tutorials/playthroughs, I’ve never really delved into it – despite it sounding like a cool concept (I think the amount of rolling on tables put me off a little bit).

But, all that is about to change, as I thought it was about time I gave it a try :)

However, because this will be my first game, I am going to scale things down a little bit - so that the campaign will be a bit shorter than usual (more on that later)… and also, because I want to try something a little bit different - I want to try playing as ‘the bad guys’ for a change (something I usually shy away from).

And while the game isn’t really intended for that kind of thing, I think it’ll be interesting to see how it goes (I mean, it might not be worth pursuing after a while – but it’s only a test game… so I can move onto something more traditional once I’ve got to grips with the rules and seen how flexible the game can be).

And, seeing as how I seem to be in the mood for making some dwarven themed dungeon terrain at the moment (posted below is a crude prototype for a huge pillar/column that I’m working on) – what better place to set the game than the Halls of Moria (this also gives me an excuse/reason to paint up some of the Oathmark dwarves that I’ve had sitting in a box for forever ;) ).

So that’s the plan… I’ll assemble a small warband/party of orcs… and we’ll be battling against Balin’s company in the year 2994 of the Third Age.

And, since I’m led to believe that solo games work better if you keep a journal of sorts, I think I’m going to try and keep track of things here on the blog (at least to begin with) – and maybe take some photo’s of the game in action (as I always seem to forget to do that when running D&D sessions in person). Plus, if I play it for any length of time, there’s a good chance that it will also inspire future terrain projects for the YouTube channel as well!


OK then, as is usual with most games – the first thing you need to do is create your character, or group of characters… and this is no different. However, rather than go through the whole process, I’ll just share my roster HERE (hopefully there aren’t too many errors).

Like I say, I’m starting off with a smaller roster than usual – for some of the reasons I mentioned above (and also because it will mean that I have to paint less models ;) ).

Speaking of which – here’s what I’ve got done so far (note that the bat swarm will be used for the ‘summon’ spell)…

 …and here’s the (very basic) narrative that goes along with them:

* * * 

Lagashi is somewhat of a rarity amongst the orcs – a creature capable of harnessing dark magic through shamanic practices and foul rituals (albeit in a very minor way). This has allowed her to rise above her station, and gain the favour of her dark master.

To that end, she has been instructed to join with the forces that are rooting out those pesky dwarves that have (re)gained a foothold within the halls of Moria… and to strengthen the dark lord’s presence there (as many of the orcs that dwell within have turned to worshiping Durin’s Bane as a god).

And seeing as how the road to (and beneath) the mountain is fraught with many perils, she has been assigned a small (but capable) escort – lead by a huge uruk brute named Muzlug.

Muzlug is a fierce, bow-legged warrior – with long powerful arms, broad shoulders, and an evil heart. Despite his great size (standing man-high in spite of his hunched posture), his great loping stride allows him to close with his enemies with surprising speed – a trait that serves him well, as he seems to relish the chaos and brutality of close quarters combat.

However, he dislikes and distrusts Lagashi in equal measure – and he has made it perfectly clear that if the shaman were to ever use her magic upon him, then it would likely be the last thing she ever did.

And while his orders are to act as Lagashi’s bodyguard – he’ll not consider it a great loss if anything were to happen to her while they are so far from home… as he has brought with him a couple of ‘trusty lads’ in the hope of ‘setting up on his own’ if the situation presents itself. 

Speaking of which, Golb and Snagluk are the two orcs that are rarely very far from Muzlug’s side. Golb is equipped for hand to hand combat, whereas Snagluk is more at home picking off the enemy at distance. 

Together, this small force has set out from the stronghold of Dol Guldur, and one more march (under the cover of darkness) will likely bring them in sight of Moria’s east gate… 

* * * 

NEXT UP: House rules, and populating the adventure map.

Monday 1 April 2024

Miniatures Painted This Year (March)

It's a day late again, but here's the March update for what miniatures I've managed to slap some paint on...

First up is the last of the horse models that I painted up for my carts and wagons video:

And, since I talked about them in last month's post, there's not much more to add really.

Next we have a couple of test models...

...which are Wizkids models that I got for half price - and all you're seeing here are some experiments to see how certain colours look in conjunction with certain washes. But they're good enough to throw in my traveling GMs kit, and so I'm counting them towards this month's total.

And the reason for these test models is because I've started work on some of the Mantic models from Dungeon Saga Origins...

...the first of which are these zombies that you can see above.

Now, I've gone with a relatively quick paint job for these, but despite that, I think they've turned out rather nice.

Anyway, after finishing off the first batch of regular zombies I then moved on to the armoured variants...

...followed by the ghost/wraith models:

And, for board game pieces, I have to admit that they're pretty nice models (I've also started work on some of the skeletons - but I haven't got those finished yet - so they'll have to be included in next month's roundup).

Anyway, the final models I got done were these dwarves (I think they're from the Massive Darkness game - but I picked them up as single models from a store that breaks the sets of various boardgames down):

And, as you can see, I just painted these up as ghosts (as I needed a few for a game I was running - and since these guys had been sitting on the shelf for a while, I decided to put them to use).

So that's a total of 14 models done in March - for a grand total of 49 miniatures painted this year - though I did pick up this sprue of (Perry) mercenaries (I think)... that counts as 2 models bought I suppose (for a total of 12 this year) - but even so, I'm still well 'in credit' so to speak :)

Friday 15 March 2024

Carts, Wagons, and Horses

Sometime ago, Wargames Atlantic sent me three boxes of some of their models to take a look at (perhaps to appear in the finished pictures I include at the end of my videos)… one of which was this box of horses:

Now, the models from the first two boxes have already featured in a few episodes, but at the time, I didn’t really have anything suitable that I could include the horses in… until now that is. Because, if you have been following my Discord/Community posts, then you’ll know that I’ve been working on some carts and wagons recently… the video for which has just gone live:


And, as you can see, these horses are the perfect fit for this latest episode.

So, since I’ve now had time to put a few together, and splash on some paint – I thought I’d share my thoughts. 

* * *

First up, here’s a picture of the sprue (there are 6 of these in the box)…

 ...and while that might seem a bit limiting to begin with, any left half of the torso can be stuck to any right half – making for a nice variety of poses (plus, you can also swap the heads and tails around for even more variation).

And, as for the assembly itself, they go together really well – I really like how the reins around the neck hide that particular join… in fact the only join that’s mildly visible is on the rump – and even then I just gave it a light sanding… and now it’s all but gone (i.e. I didn’t do any greenstuff work on these at all).

Now, I will admit, that I’ve only ever painted a couple of horses before (as I generally prefer painting human-sized infantry miniatures) – but I have to say, I enjoyed painting these (which was a bit of a surprise to be sure)…

 ...I mean, as you can see, I didn’t attempt anything particularly complicated (i.e. I wasn’t brave enough to try any fancy markings or anything like that) – but I’m pretty pleased with the results (I especially like how the white one has turned out).

However, I should point out that you have to provide your own bases (they do have a small integral base – but I mounted mine on some 2mm mdf ovals that I have, for a more consistent look) – but aside from that, it’s another great set!

And if you’re wondering about their actual size – then here’s a pic on my cutting matt:

(note that the squares are 1cm, but I’ve added a few rulers so you can see the imperial measurements too)

So yeah, if you can’t tell, I rather like them – I mean I’m no horse expert, but they look fine to me, they go together easily, and they paint up well – so there’s not much more to say really. 

I suppose if I really wanted to be a bit nit-picky, then I might have preferred it if each sprue ditched the fourth (spare) head, and included some baggage instead (to make a couple of pack horses) – but that’s just me wanting to tailor the sprue to my own specific needs. 

But, like I say, these are nice models, and are a perfect accompaniment to my new carts and wagons!


Friday 1 March 2024

Miniatures Painted This Year (February)

I'm a day late posting this (as it's been a busy/stressful week) - but, as I mentioned in my previous miniatures related post, I am going to try and keep track of how many miniatures I paint this year, and compare that to how many I end up buying (with the aim of trying to paint more than I buy).

So, with that in mind, here's February's update:

OK then, so the first things I splashed some paint on were these Wizkids hyena models - and (as I might have mentioned previously) the main aim for this year is to just get stuff done - so they've just been baescoated and washed - and then had their bases decorated with some 'base ready' stuff from Geek Gaming Scenics.

I also had some Wizkids gnolls to go with them...

...which have received a similar treatment.

And since I was painting gnolls, I figured it was a good time to get some paint on some Reaper Bones models too...

...which are quite a bit bigger than the wizkids ones - so in D&D they could maybe represent Flinds or something like that maybe.

In fact, here's a size comparison of one of these, a wizkids model, and a frostgrave gnoll that I painted last year:

Anyway, those were the models that I speed painted (not using speedpaint - painting speedily is what I mean), the rest of what I got done I spent a bit more time on - the first of these being this guy:

He's another Reaper Bones model (one I got in a kickstarter a few years back), and he'll be used as one of the auxiliary companions in the Blood Moon scenario for Rangers of Shadow Deep (as it's the closest thing I have to an aristocratic swordsman).

And finally, I've also been painting some horses this week...

...which is mainly due to the fact that in the next Print & Paste video I'll be making some carts and wagons - and those carts and wagons aren't going to pull themselves :)

However, despite painting 13 models, I have (coincidentally) 'fallen off the wagon' (so to speak), and bought some new models... 10 in fact.

But even so, that's 35 models painted this year, and only 10 bought - so I don't think I'm doing so bad (at least so far :) ).

Wednesday 14 February 2024

2D steps... for the 2.5D dungeon... that look 3D (kinda)

 Here's the video where I put my latest set of textures to use:

And, as you'll see, the idea for these is to have a bunch of steps/stairs that are quick to build, easy to store/transport, and that conform to the original 2.5D design/philosophy.

So, here's hoping you like it! :)

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Miniatures Painted This Year (January)

As some of you know (and others might have guessed), I like to paint and collect miniatures... I have (off and on) since I was a young lad.

And, like a lot of folks, over the years I have amassed quite a 'pile of shame' (or pile of potential if you prefer)... and I seem to keep adding to it.

So, this year I have set myself the task of trying to paint more miniatures than I buy (I mean, I could have said that I'm not buying any new miniatures this year at all, and just concentrate on what I've already got - but let's be honest... that's not going to happen :) ).

In addition, the aim is also to simply 'get stuff done' I'm not planning to paint everything up to a great standard - I'm just looking to get paint onto as many mini's as I can... and try to not fuss over them too much (though, obviously, I still want them to look OK).

And while, most of the time, I'm going to be concentrating on mini's for specific games/adventures/projects, there'll probably be a few random bits and pieces thrown in here and there... just because I felt like painting them.

So here's what I've managed to get done in January:

This first guy (above) is a Reaper Bones mini, and I've converted him slightly so that I can use him as a 40K psyker/astropath or similar (not that I'm playing 40K right now - but I have been playing a bit of Five Parsecs : Bug Hunt ...and given it a 40K spin). This is one of the few models that I've painted up to my normal standard (as I still want some of my heroes to be properly highlighted) - but he'll likely be the exception, not the rule.

Speaking of which, this next model is at the other end of the spectrum...

...a GW plaguebearer model (this one is going to be used as a 'boss monster' to accompany the poxwalkers I've already painted - again, for Five Parsecs : Bug Hunt). And the paint job on this one is just basecoats and a couple of washes (no highlights) - but I think it gets the job done.

Next up are some Reaper Bones giant snakes and werewolves...

...and some Ral Partha Europe (metal) giant stag beetles and wolves.

And, I've got most of these ready for the Blood Moon Scenario for Rangers of Shadow Deep (which I've been playing co-op with my brother).

That scenario also requires a young boy and girl model - so I've dug out these (metal) Reaper mini's...

...which, again, have had a quick paint job (i.e. base coated, various washes added over the various colours, and then one highlight layer with the same base coats the washes tend to darken everything).

And finally there's these models (the first is a Reaper Bones model - which I'll be using as a garghoul, the others are 'vegepygmies' from Wizkids)...

...and these have just been sitting on my shelf for a while.. and, again have had similar paint jobs to the children that I just mentioned (i.e. basecoats, washes, and one highlight layer with the same basecoat colours that were already on my wet pallette).

So, all said and done, that's 22 models painted (yeah - I know the vegepygmies are tiny... but I'm telling myself that they still count :) ) - and I've only bought 10 new models (which haven't actually arrived yet - but they're paid for - so they also count :( ).

But still - I think I'm off to a good start!

Monday 29 January 2024

Starting the new year with another level of the 'build along' dungeon...

For the past few years, I've had a bit of a tradition of creating a small dungeon level from scratch (i.e. making the terrain, painting the mini's, and writing the adventure) throughout the month of January, and releasing one video a week over on YouTube to show how I put it all together.

And, as you've probably guessed, this year has been no different - so, to cut a long story short, here's a list of all the videos that I've made over the course of this month:

- note that you can get the pdf for this level HERE -

And, while these videos usually only deal with the terrain side of things (though I do quickly run through the encounter ideas - but they're fleshed out a bit more in THIS document), this time I've also had a go at making some miniatures for one of the encounters...

- four DIY elementals pictured next to a reaper bones miniature -

...which doesn't really fit with my usual 'print & paste' approach - but I thought I'd include them nonetheless (so here's hoping you like them :) ).

Anyway, now that level 3 is complete, I think that's going to be it for the Dungeon Build Along series (at least for a while). I'll not go into too much detail - but (generally speaking) multi-part videos don't do very well on YouTube... and it's a ton of work to get one video out a week (I really don't know how other folks manage it :S ) - which, when you think about it, doesn't seem like time well spent (i.e. knowing full well that each 'part' is going to be less popular than the last).

Now, that kind of thing doesn't usually bother me too much (chasing the algorithm isn't really my thing) - but this time things started to feel a bit like a chore towards the end (the needless pressure I put on myself to get 5 videos out this month was starting to build up). So, when you combine all of those factors, I think it's time to call the Dungeon Build Along done!

Don't get me wrong though, I'm really happy with it now that it's finished - and I'm looking forward to running level 2 and 3 with my new(ish) IRL group. In fact, I've managed to get the whole thing packed into this one box... it's ready to go if we need a filler game of dungeon crawling one evening :) (we currently play at a friends house - so having something on the shelf that I can just pick up and take with me with little or no warning should be quite handy).

And speaking of 'the whole thing' - here's a picture off all three levels...

...and when you think that all of this fits inside that one small box (which doesn't weigh that much at all), that really does show how the 2.5D style of (cardboard) tiles is great for folks that play away from home (or that don't have much room to store all of this stuff).

But yeah, I hope you've enjoyed the series, and now that it's done I'm looking forward to getting back to the usual kind of content... as there's still a ton of stuff I want to get around to making... and the to-do list keeps on getting longer rather than shorter :D

So, here's hoping that 2024 is going to be a good year on the gaming front... and in my next post I'll be talking about it being a year of 'getting stuff painted' (as I have a massive pile of shame that I need to do something about - so this year I'm also hoping to put a dent in that).

Anyway, if you've got this far, thanks for reading to the end - and, like I say in the last video - if you use any of the ideas from the 'build along' in your own games... it would be great to hear how it goes!