Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Alchemist of Old Dertflinghan

Alexandrei Movila was born in 1412 to a noble house less than 50 miles south of Dertflinghan. As the son of a local boyar he was trained as a knight and it was his father's intention to offer his son's service to the Lord of Derflinghan. However, before the young man had the chance to take the journey, his entire family was slain by a pack of hunting vampires and, for some reason, the vampire lord gave Alexandrei the dark gift. In almost 500 years, he has himself only passed the dark gift to one other, his manservant Draga who, before dying of old age, begged his master to make him immortal.

Both creatures now live deep within a network of catacombs underneath the overgrown rubble of Old Dertflinghan. Movila's dealings with men are simple - he hunts them for food but otherwise avoids their affairs. However, the rural folk of the Carpathians know him by many names, in spite of his seclusion.

The Alchemist of Old Dertflinghan
In local folklore, Movila is often referred to as the Alchemist of Old Dertflinghan. True alchemists, however, would call Movila's experimentations reverse alchemy for, in essence, he has already achieved the immortality they seek. Instead, he has spent nearly two centuries trying to find a way to revert to his mortal self. If that day ever comes, he hopes to escape his undead curse and to die naturally as a man.

The Waker of the Dead

For purely practical reasons, Movila turns many of his victims into ghouls by feeding them a small amount of his immortal blood. Although their company is nothing to be desired, ghouls make the perfect foot soldiers and guards of his domain. They skulk around the catacombs and the surrounding forests where they often stumble upon potential intruders.

The Night Hunter

Although Movila often depends on the loyal Draga to bring victims to him, he sometimes gets the urge hunt for himself. He is, after all, a vampire lord and the beasts of the Carpathian woods come at his beckoning.

The Man-Bat

On rare occasions, Movila is confronted by men who are made of sterner stuff than their fellows. When his opponent fails to cower before him and, moreover, stands firm to challenge him, the mighty vampire morphs his body into the shape of a bat-like beast. This form also makes it easy for him to traverse great distances in short periods of time, particularly when he wants to hunt far afield.

Painted By: JET (aka Jason)

Thoughts & Commentary

Although I've already painted a band of Romanian Vampires, I really wanted to field a Nosferatu warband as well. The expanded lists allow one to take a master and three lesser nosferatu for a total of four vampires. However, I wanted to keep the number of vampires low (at least initially) since I imagined a lone figure, skulking through the ages without companionship. Realistically, I'll likely paint up another couple of vampires just to give me the option of fielding more down the road.

These Westwind Gothic Horror models are just great in my opinion. I think it takes a real artistic skill as a sculptor to create a model so devoid of detail and yet busting at the seams with personality. The miniature I used for Movila has no bells or whistles but I find the simple sculpt and the menacing face so effective, not to mention fun and easy to paint.

This Gothic Horror project has really become my opus. I love it more and more every time I add to it and I still have ideas for the future. The irony is, one of the reasons I got into this genre was that only a handful of models were needed to play. I now have over 50 miniatures on my Horror shelf, not to mention a sizable collection of prefab and homemade terrain. Oh well, so much for constraint.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Enslaved Ghouls

Contrary to popular belief, it is fairly rare for a vampire to pass on the "dark gift" to his victims. Every time a new vampire is born, the vampire lord's hunting ground becomes a little more confined and his ability to remain inconspicuous becomes threatened. More often, victims who are not killed outright are given a small amount of the vampire's blood and are raised to a state somewhere between life and undeath.

These vile creatures sometimes hunt for human meat but more often live as scavengers near burial sites and crypts. They are known by many names - blood servant, vampiric thrall, corpse stealer, grave fiend - but most resort to the vulgar term ghoul.

Every "ghoul" is affected by a vampire's blood differently. Some, although monstrous, retain a shadow of their humanity while others quickly degenerate into slathering beasts. However, regardless of their condition, these creatures are true abominations of god's order and serve no purpose whatsoever in the grand scheme of things.

Painted By: Jason (aka JET)

Thoughts & Commentary:

I had fun selecting the models that I would use for this project. As you can plainly see, I made use of dry-brushing and inking on these miniatures - there''s only so much effort I'm willing to put into a painting a ghoul. The four models used, in order from the top of the post down are:
  1. Westwind, Nosferatu blister pack. The knife hand is a plastic weapon swap.
  2. Mantic, Undead Ghoul boxed set. Built straight from a plastic sprue.
  3. Westwind, The Antagonists Vampire Counts/Slayers 1 blister pack. The head is a plastic Games Workshop zombie head.
  4. Westwind, Vampires From Across Time blister pack. Straight from the pack.
I used the same bland color scheme on all of these because, as a group, I want them to stand out from the vampires they will be fighting alongside of. Using Tom Weiss's amended Nosferatu warband list, I created the maximum number of four ghouls and tried to vary their abilities and weapons using the options available. I look forward to trying them out soon, perhaps in a graveyard near you ;

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Under the shadow of the Carpathians there are many creatures who, night after night, hunt human prey and keep the region's rural occupants fearful of the night. However, there are some mundane creatures; simple beasts who man, in spite of his limitations, has managed to dominate and exploit for his own benefit.

The cow is one such animal. Villagers up and down the Carpathians expend great effort to raise and protect these natural sources of meat and milk from the area's many predators, both mortal and immortal.

Painted By: Jason (aka JET)

Thoughts & Commentary:

I bought these models from Dixon for use in our first Old West campaign a couple of years back. However, by the time I got around to painting them the campaign was nearing its end and so they sat unfinished in a drawer for two years.

One of my new initiatives for 2011 is to finish up all of my half-finished projects. To this end, the cows came out and, although they will find uses in future Old West campaigns, they will be used in our Gothic Horror games from this moment onwards as well.

As to painting, they were an EXTREME rush-job. After researching cattle breeds online for about 20 minutes yesterday I had a real moment of clarity. I realized that I was at an age and stage of life where I wasn't going to spend any considerable amount of my time left here on earth painting cow models - a guy has to know when to draw the line. With that bit of self-discovery in firmly place, I started dry-brushing like crazy, picked out a few details, and in less than an hour I was gluing down ground cover.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Abandoned Village: A Chaos In Carpathia Multi-Player Scenario - Part Two

Before you proceed, it's probably in your best interest to check out part one where you'll see lots of photos of the scenario objectives and the table layout.

Game night had finally arrived and the three of us were itching to get down to business - so we did. As per the explanation in the previous post, we selected our deployment zones and secretly assigned our models to their positions. Here's how things looked at the beginning of turn one.

Chris selected the Footbridge and the Church Tower for the British Monster Hunters. The Austrian Hunters were deployed in the tower while the rest of the warband prepared to cross the bridge into the cemetery.

Marc chose the Professor's Cottage and West Road for Dr. Hartstone and His Creations. Dr. Hartstone started in the cottage as he was eager to explore the library in the cellar. Delilah led the other contingent (including Marc's newly-painted Cat Monster) into town from the road.

Finally, I selected the North Road and the Marsh for the Werewolves. Bloodrunner and the Old Woodsman came in on the road with the intentions of exploring the long house and the woods across the river. The rest of the warband started in base contact with the Marsh, with Crazy Nell in contact with one of the objectives (The Pagan Stone). It wasn't wise of me to expect a lunatic to find an objective but, with the Austrians and their hunting rifles in the church tower, I didn't want to risk losing a werewolf too early.

With that, initiative dice were rolled (we thought that the card-based system would take too long with three players) and we were off. Here were some of the highlights of the game.

Emma Poundwood Finds a Clue:

The bulk of the Mannleigh expedition crossed the bridge into the cemetery. Ms. Poundwood approached the Cemetery Statue and, after some investigation, found a cryptic message scratched into the stone.

Lunatics of a Feather Flock Together:

Crazy Nell and her drooling comrade-in-arms stayed in the vicinity of the churchyard. Much to everyone's surprise (and thanks to the use of Some FATE Points) Nell successfully found the clue associated with the Pagan Stone. The other lunatic decided to enter the church and to climb the ladder to the tower so he could deal with the Austrians. In the end, the poor fellow was taken down in combat by Hans Klapp and Nell, who had almost made it to the Child's Tribute objective, decided to head back to safety with her objective intact.

Cats & Dogs:

Dr. Hartstone's henchman, French Hunter Antoine De Bellevue, made his way to the Hilltop Monument. Just before he reached it, one of my werewolves charged up the hill. This charge set off a reaction from Marc's Cat Monster (who had a held action) and, before too long, the doctor's assistant Delilah joined in the fray. Thanks to his supernatural strength, Howler held out but, in the end, the Cat Monster took him down and to add insult to injury, Antoine successfully found the clue associated with the monument.

My Kingdom for a Rowboat:

Bloodrunner (one of my werewolves) moved into the long house and the Old Woodsmen moved on towards the Forgotten Grave on the other side of the river. In retrospect, I should have sent the werewolf to tackle the river but, by the time I realized that, it was too late so I took my chances. That turned out to be a mistake. The Old Woodsman landed in the river and was lucky to make it out before he was swept off the table. When all was said and done, he found the clue on the grave and spent the rest of the game trying to inconvenience the doctor's warband with his crossbow.

A Royal Cock-Up:

After Ms. Poundwood found the clue in the cemetery, the luck of the monster hunters took a sharp turn southward. Throughout the course of the game, four members of the warband searched and failed to find the clue at the Child's Tribute.

A Quiet Night In:

Doctor Hartstone started the game by descending into the cellar to peruse the Professor's collection. After he was finished he crossed the road and discovered the clue on the Doctor's Workbench (which was quite fitting I thought)

Sniffing Around in the Crypts:

The Great Wolf climbed through the window of the hut near the marsh, descended to the cellar and found the secret door leading into the underground crypt. He spent the entire game searching and was lucky enough to find the clue in the Hero's Tomb. Furthermore, he opened all of the sarcophagi and managed to earn one wildcard victory point as well. Although he triggered a curse, he suffered no ill effects since werewolves have no fear of the dead.

Pious Sir Thrustam:

After the debacle in the church yard, Sir Thrustam made his way into the church where he stopped for a quick moment of prayer (and earned himself an extra FATE point). He proceeded down to the church undercroft and found the clue associated with the Bishop's Seat.

Dr. Hartstone's Companion's Tie Up the Game:

My werewolves were in the lead for most of the game but as we neared the end, Marc started finding clues at an alarming rate. Antoine's right-hand man Johnson found the clue in the Barrels of Produce, Delilah found one at the second Pagan Stone, and in the last turn of the game, Antoine found a clue buried under the Sacred Tree.

Here's how the objectives and victory points were divided when the game ended:

The Werewolves found clues at one of the Pagan Stones (1), the Hero's Tomb (1), the Forgotten Grave (1), and earned two wildcard victory points for successfully searching the most sarcophagi (1)and the most chests (1) for a total of FIVE VICTORY POINTS.

The Mad Doctor and His Companions found clues at the Doctor's Workbench (1), the Sacred Tree (1), the Hilltop Monument (1), the Barrels of Produce (1), and the second Pagan Stone (1) for a total of FIVE VICTORY POINTS.

The British Monster Hunters found clues at the Cemetery Statue (1) and the Bishop's Seat (1) for a total of TWO VICTORY POINTS.

The Great Fireplace (1) in the village long house and the Child's Tribute (1) in the churchyard both remained unclaimed at game's end.

Although we never discussed how to break ties, I think since I lost two members of my warband and Marc never lost any, the final victory would go to his Mad Doctor. The next time around, I would like to do a couple of things differently. First of all, I would like enemy warbands to be able to search objectives even after they have been successfully searched by others since it would probably cause more interaction. Also, next time I would allow each player to randomly choose a couple of secret objectives that would be worth double victory points to their warband. That way, at game end it wouldn't necessarily be clear who was the winner.

In any event, we all had a great time, drank lots of tea, and will certainly have a re-match sometime soon.

Thanks for reading,