Thursday, November 17, 2022

A Barsoomian of Lesser Standing

 Chapter One

  My name is Hajor of Dusar.  With many others, I guard the fields that produce the plants of which rope is made.  Trained as a warrior and hunter, I command a squad of 4 other guards. I have trained in swordsmanship until I above all others in Dusar, even the best trainer in the city.  I can hit what I shoot at with my pistol.

  Unfortunately, this is a very boring job.  Mostly, we keep vermin from the fields, and chase off lovers looking for privacy.  In the years that I have led my patrol, we have run off looters twice.

  The wife of Thuraz, the owner of the fields, is named Rayza and called the greatest beauty of Dusar. She often brought us ices in the field. She would chat companionably with us, and draw me aside for instructions from Thuraz, which I would then convey to my small command.

  Little did I anticipate how my life would change when a house slave awakened me late in the night to tell me that Thuraz had been assassinated. I was to come quickly to his mansion to guard against any further violence.

  Instead of standing at the door as I expected, I was led into the inner chamber where the household was gathered.  The lady Rayza comforted the household as best as she could.  She turned to Thuraz's daughter.

  "The rope manufactury and all that it holds now belongs to you, as the blood successor to your father.  You, the child of his first wife, are the sole heir.  As befits the survivor, I believe I may journey to the river Iss, as is my duty. I will take a single guard who will protect me to the end of my journey, but not accompany me to the river itself."

  Thuraz's daughter looked at Rayza stunned. "Am I to lose both parents in a single night?" 

   "Love you though I may, I am not your blood mother, and it would be unseemly should I stay. Eventually, there would be questions, and perhaps another assassination attempt.  It will be better for all if I leave immediately."

  Turning to me, she said, "Go to your quarters. Gather your belongings. We leave immediately."

  "Milady, my belongings consist of what I stand in before you ."

  "That is well. Follow me." 

   Immediately, we went to the rear of the mansion. There I saw a small 2-man flier, loaded quite heavily with packs and goods. "Milady, we are to walk?"

  As soon as we are out of sight and sounds of the fields, she turns to me and tells me the truth.  She was a slave in a far-off, un-named city, who was bought from the slave sale by Thuraj.  His wife died when his daughter was quite young, and she was bought to care for her and his husbandly needs. He freed her, but his daughter had mixed feelings for Rayza. Therefore, Rayza feels that a quick disappearance would be wise.
  "I have never been able to love him, but he treated me as an equal and with respect. I shall mourn his passing, but only as a bought bedmate. I am trained in the use of sword and pistol, but not, I understand, to your standard. I am a free woman, and have always been treated as such, though not by Thurjaz's daughter." She paused for a moment.  "Nor were we ever married. Thurjaz wanted no question of succession. We had not been bedmates for months" She looked hard into my eyes for a moment before slowly shaking her head and turning away.

  Over the days of the journey, we came to know each other well.  She found that she has an innate ability to manage finances. She also has a natural kindness, that led her to bring the welcome cooling drinks to all of us in the fields, cementing her respect among the laborers and guards.

  Each night we spread our sleeping pads beneath our respective tents, and lay down with friendly good nights to peaceful repose, hastened by the exertions of the day's exertion.

  A scream awoke me! I sprang from my tent to see a giant green man, his back to me, swinging Rayza into the air, gripping her by one ankle! A bestial sound ripped from my throat as I grabbed my sword from my harness lying beside me. 

    At the sound, the green man dropped her to the ground and began to turn to me. I was on him in less than a second, and before he could strike, my blade found his heart! Leaving my sword in his body, I sprang to Rayza. She was trembling so I gathered her into my arms. "You saved me" was all she murmured as she clung to me.

  "Milady! You have not your harness!" as I noticed her nakedness. "Nor have you, Hajor!" "Did you not understand what I meant, telling you that I had not been Thuraz's bedmate for months?"  

  We lay beneath the stars and Barsoom's twin moons upon her sleeping pad, and saw not even the bright moons, but only each other in our lovemaking.
  As we lay in the sleeping furs in the morning, she told me of her life.
  "I do not remember my parents. My first memories are of slave quarters. As a child, I had a child's duties: fetch and carry.  But as I grew into my beauty, my duties changed. First I moved into the slave quarters of the owner's mansion."

  "Then my duties changed again, for the less savory.  I became the owner's son's bedmate. I did not like this and made it apparent, so I was sold on to another. So began my career of being sold on as bedmate after bedmate. Some were kind; some were not. The only reason for my unblemished back from the soles of my feet to the nape of my neck is the miraculous healing properties of the wonderful salve. It was better to sell an unblemished girl to the next buyer. I even escaped once and joined a troop of bandits. But because of my beauty, the women hated me, and the men came to blows over me. Luckily, I was quickly captured.

 "So, you see, I did not spring to the slave block from which Thuraz bought me full-blown from some god's head." She looked at me from a lowered head.

  "Milady, there is no shame here. Circumstances determined your life."

  "Well said. Milady is a bit ridiculous as we share sleeping furs. I am Rayza, a traveling freewoman, and you will address me as such.  You will also improve my swordsmanship."

  "Yes Mi-, I mean Rayza."

  Rayza changed from her fine harness to a much plainer one, such as a mercenary might wear. She instructed me to take a bit of metal from the harness of the green man and attach it to mine.

  "It will mark you as a slayer of a green man in single combat, and a man of skill."

  We travelled this for many days. I trained her in bettering her swordplay, though she would never be better than average.

  Rayza talked freely of her past life and her determination to regain a level of status equal to that she enjoyed in Dusar, but as a wife. I was given to understand that upon approach to a city of size, I would revert to her bodyguard and address her as "Milady" again. Understandably, I found this a bit depressing.

  "A lover is a great comfort in the wilderness, but would reduce me to your status in the city, beneath the notice of the rich and powerful. And that is the level to which I aspire. I have grown too used to respect. You may find mercenary work necessary, and that is a life I would not welcome."

  She stood. Most of her finery was gone. She wore a swordbelt with a jewel or two, fighting armlets, and nothing else but an ornate but less fine necklace. And my metal had been removed and replaced with that of the slin green man.

  Little did we suspect what lay in store for us. 


Monday, June 8, 2020

Cultists! The Knights of the Mystical Sword.

I was digging through my stacks of unpainted and I found a bag of cultists.  Some were from Artizan Design, some from Pulp Figures, and a couple from Rattrap Productions, though they no longer show on their page.

To start, we have the High Potentate of the Mystical Sword, by Pulp Figures.

A group of unarmed cultists.  Those with the crest on chest and/or hood are by Artizan Design, the uncrested are by Pulp Figures. The crested figures are the Elevated Knights of the Mystical Sword, while those without are merely Knights of the Mystical Sword.

The tommygunners, all from Artizan Design. Since they only have the crest on their hoods, they are the Ultimate Protectors of the Mystical Sword.

Pistoliers from Artizan Design and Pulp Figures. Those with the crest are the Ultimate Minions of the Mystical Sword, and the crestless, merely a Minion of the Mystical Sword.

The Knight Keeper of the Mystical Keys, from Artizan Designs, the cage is plastic and came with two enormous piles of chain.

I believe that these two figures had Rattrap engraved on the bottom of their bases. The figure in the brown suit has the only nickeled pistol because one painted black disappeared. Since they have earned neither robe nor propper hood, they are merely Acolytes of the Mystical Sword.

And finally, we have the Ultimate Torch Singer of the Mystical Knights (also the Ultimate Squeeze of the High Potentate of the Mystical Sword), flanked by the Carrier of the Mystical Torch of the Mystical Sword, and the Highest Purifier of the Mystical Sword.

Here are my cultists, eager to Purify the non-believers with bullet and flame.

Painting was pretty simple. They were all painted blue and washed with a homemade black wash. Hands were painted with a craft paint flesh and washed with GW flesh. The torch singer was painted with a lighter flesh tone with my brown wash. Her dress and hood are painted with a Martha Stewart craft paint. The swords on the crests were added with a Prismacolor Premier .005 pen. The curlicues on the High Potentate's throne were added with a fine brush.  I failed to show that the back is painted to simulate plywood.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Rogue Trooper Redux

Yes I'm replaying Rogue Trooper on PS4 (received as a points reward.)  These were painted long ago, so of course, I ordered more From Bronze Age Miniatures.  Unfortunately, most of the blue boys are no longer available. Nor is the sentry bot.  I believe that Games Workshop is about to produce some, doubtless at $50 for 5 plastic figures.

The first one kinda reminds me of Gunnar. Hubba-hubba for the second.

The first is a female in one of those ballet poses that BAM was so fond of. The right-hand figure is the one I use for Rogue himself.

A very aggressive figure on the left, and another female ballerina.

A Nord sergeant, and kneeling soldier.  All Nord figures are available. The upright "thing" on the sarge's back is merely a piece of brass rod with a piece of brass tubing slipped over it.

More Nords.

And still more Nords.

For those that never played the older version, Rebellion introduced it in 2006.  It is a TPS, Third Person Shooter (I've given you a new definition today!). The Redux edition is basically a remaster for more modern systems. Of course, it all began with the 2000AD comic in 1981.  I can't say that I have more than a passing acquaintance with the comic, but my understanding is that the video game does credit to the comic.  It is also relatively easy, compared to the more frantic games that came after 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Palaeo Diet: Eat Or Be Eaten

Sunday I got out some of my caveman figures and decided to have a game.  My inspiration for my prehistoric stuff is the La Brea tar pits, Quest For Fire, and any other caveman movie.

The first scenario is called Vanilla Sky and involves your clan in attempting to kill an Apex Grazer, as it is called in the rules.  This could be a ground sloth, wooly rhinoceros, or, in this case, a mammoth. For fans of "One Million Years B.C.", it could be dinosaurs.

The clan took it slow and easy on the approach, so as not to alert the mammoth. There was another thicket on the lower left of the table that the bowman snuck into. He was out of range of the mammoth.  He crept out of the bushes, and fired at the mammoth, causing a wound, a 5 on a d6.  The mammoth merely trumpeted. He loosed another arrow, landing a 6 which causes a critical hit and 2 wounds.  

The mammoth with only 1 wound left, flees.

A spearman runs up on the rear of the mammoth, who turns, takes a swipe at the spearman, and misses. The spearman hits on a 6,  causing 2 wounds, and the mammoth goes down into the soup pot!

The Vanilla Sky scenario is a simple learning scenario.  My wife then played, and also slew her mammoth, though not without a lot more trouble. The mammoth successfully attacked two figures, both of whom are hurt for the next game.

The figures are very old Strategem Sugar Wars figures, long out of production.  They are really South American Indians, available long before Copplestone.  I have all the nice figures by later manufacturers, but there is a dearth of bows available.  I'm looking at Copplestone Amazon Indians with bows to add to my collection.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Dragon Rampant Red Man Army, in detail.

  I promised closer photos of my Dragon Rampant Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoomian red army so here we go.

  First up are the Scouts, flyers, 4 points. The figures are all Bronze Age Miniatures' current release, except the left front figure, who is from the older release. The low flyer in the middle is from Tin Man Miniatures, but is not a current listing. The other 2 flyers are from Shapeways, and suffer from the usual 3d printing problem of rough surfaces. There is a base available somewhere on Shapeways, but I had some clear Lexan rod and clear bases, so used those instead.  The figures are not permanently mounted to the flyers. I only mounted half of the figures as some rulesets do dragoons in this fashion.

  These are my Lesser Warbeasts, 4 points. All of these figures are currently available from Bronze Age Miniatures.  The ulsio are described as being the disgusting color of newborn rats, so of course I had to go to Google. For those of you who are not familiar with Burroughs, the large creatures are banths, the Barsoomian lion. The ulsio are rats the size of large dogs, and are only found in dungeons. Sue me.

  We come to the Belligerent Foot, 2 units at 4 points each.  I went with Belligerent Foot, because the other two Foot units both have Shieldwall, not appropriate for figures without shields. Unfortunately, almost all of these figures are from the old release and so are unavailable, but he has new releases to replace, not recast, all of these. 


  These are the Heavy Shooters, 4 points. Once again, most of these are from the original release, but are replaced in the current release. The red men are not big on guns.

  These are Heavy Riders, leader included, 4 points. These figures are from the original release, and have not been replaced in the new release, so that favorite eBay thing, OOP.  I have an extra mounted figure should I wish to make the leader a separate unit. I also have a dismounted leader figure in case I find that having the leader in the only mounted unit a bad idea.

  Because these figures are so long, it is difficult to get good photos.  Here's one at an angle.  I never paint highlights on eyes, but the thoat's eyes are so large that the look rather bland without them.  The thoats look good painted, and from 3 feet, but they are nightmares with bad joints and lots of bad pitting.  Unfortunately, I got all my thoats assembled, and that made it more difficult to fill and file.

  This is my 24 point unit.  It's very impressive on the table and takes up a lot of real estate, as does the green army.  Their thoats are at least half again larger. The red man thoats are 5" (12.5 cm) long.  The green man thoats are 8-1/2 inches (21 cm) long. It's unfortunate that the first release figures are no longer available, but at least there are the slotta-based replacements. They are not as ornate, nor as varied as the originals, but the faces are better, the poses just as dynamic. The green men are the original releases, so quite ornate.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Day on Barsoom

This is a quick skirmish near Helium.  The actual game took about 10 minutes playtime, so I will let the comic pages do the talking.  Also, I only had 9 pictures, which leaves a blank on the template I was using.  Rules are Swordplay 2018 with the Barsoom mod supplied by Ed. As always, click on the pic for a larger one.

The first post of the New Year, comparing old and new Bronze Age Miniatures Barsoomians.

Of course I caved and bought some new Bronze Age Miniatures Barsoom figures.  I discovered the Edgar Rice Burroughs series at my local library when I was 14.  Knowing nothing of series, I first read "A Fighting Man Of  Mars", and wondered who the hell John Carter was. To this day Tan Hadron of Hastor is my favorite Martian.

I have a goodly number of the older Bronze Age Miniatures figures and really like them. I'm going to compare the old and the new with my biased opinions.  I've tried to find equivalents.

First, we have the lunger. The accouterments are simpler on the slotta figure. The lunge is more dynamic on the older figure, and the harness is more complex. The boots are simpler on the newer figure. The musculature is about even.

 Second, the parrying figures. The poses are quite close. I like the extra belt on the newer figure holding a rapier type sword carrier.  On all the new figures, the weapons are attached to the hands, better for convention games.  The guard in very saber-like.

 Third, the sneakily advancing figure. I couldn't find an equivalent in my older figures.  This is an excellent pose. Very dynamic. The right arm holding the sword is a separate piece but is quite well keyed into the torso.  Only a minimum of filling was needed, so little that it was provided by super glue gel with nothing added.

Fourth, we come to our first damsel of Barsoom.  I am much fonder of the lack of upper harness. It better fits the Burroughs idea of women only fighting in extremus. Her face, and all the new faces, are better, in my opinion. These two poses are almost identical.  I like the look that the new damsel has quickly buckled on a swordbelt to defend herself.

And, finally, the fifth figure, another damsel, quite angry! She, like the older figure, has no scabbard. The ire is plain to see on her face.  I imagine her finally being able to put paid to the jed who kidnapped her, and subjected her to indignities!!

It's pretty obvious that I'm quite happy with the change in style and basing. The harness is simpler, the weapons attached, the poses pretty much as dynamic, the ladies less prepared for battle. I've ordered the 2 banths Bronze Age Miniatures supplies, the ulsio pack, and another male and female figure.

I have all the white apes offered by 3 manufacturers, and that is a surfeit, so I won't be ordering any more of those.