Friday, 14 April 2017

Bugbear miniatures, Reaper bones


Back in Kuwait for the final stretch til school's out.

Painted another Bugbear model from the Reaper range. The big flat areas are a nice change to the normal. There were a lot of duplicates, but the vinyl material is a cinche to convert.








Saturday, 18 March 2017

How to make a glue gun beholder



Madballs

Introduction:

Firstly, I give credit to the people at DM Scotty's Crafts N' Games group on Facebook who have been making lovely beholders this way long before me. I learn a lot from this group, and they're terrifically supportive and encouraging to fellow crafters.

Secondly, I made mistakes, so in these instructions I direct readers on how I would / should have done each step. If people are interested in the mistakes I made and how I solved them, then they can be found at the end, after the instructions are over.

How to make a glue gun beholder miniature

What you will need:

Equipment:

  • A glue gun
  • A metal clay-shaping tool (a metal spike)
  • A marker pen
  • Modelling knife
  • clippers


Materials

  • 1 x Polystyrene ball
  • Epoxy putty (eg milliput)
  • A 2-inch long screw (and possibly a wall plug to fit it)
  • A washer for the screw
  • An appropriately sized miniature base
  • Mod-Podge dimensional magic
  • Round headed pins (with long, easily bendable metal)
  • Matchsticks
  • 2 x Lolly sticks (the curvier type, ie magnum)
  • Fine epoxy putty (for sculpting the central eye)
  • Basing materials
  • Painting materials
  • Gloss varnish
  • Matt varnish


Note: This build will probably need to be done over several days as it involves waiting for epoxy clay to dry between some stages.

Instructions:

Screwed

1. Build the base. Before installing the screw into the base, consider where the beholder will sit. If not carefully considered your beholder may lean to the side. Install the 2-inch screw into the underside of the base, using the washer to fix it so that it doesn't wobble.

2. Build the beholder 'head'. Remove a chunk from the polystyrene ball to represent where the 'mouth' of the beholder will be. It is easier to remove too much at this stage than try to remove more polystyrene later, because at a later stage we are going to add clay for the tongue and inner mouth. Manipulate the clay into a roughly beholder shape, but don't waste time sculpting detail because it will all be covered in glue later. This is the beholder head.

If it wobbles, use a wall plug
The mouth hole can't be too big really

2. Fix the beholder head onto the screw. It should feel secure. If it does not feel secure, use the glue gun to fix the wall plug with the screw, and again, use the glue gun to fix the wall plug and screw into the beholder head. Then, prevent any future movement of the beholder head by completely coating any exposed part of the screw and the base using the glue gun. This point of attachment will be disguised by your basing materials when you finish the model.

3. When the clay has dried completely, use the permanent marker pen to draft onto the body the general features of the beholder. A beholder is not just a sphere with an eye on it; add striations on the flanks, eyebrow placement, central eye, structures around the central eye, lips, symmetrical spots for the eyestalks to protrude from, etc. Beholders are varied so refer to beholder art and beholder miniatures for ideas. These lines that you draw are going to help to guide you later when you are laying down transparent glue with the glue gun.

Twist around a pen
Curly stalks


4. For the eyestalks, take ten of the round-headed pins. Coil the flexible pin around a pencil to give a snakelike appearance. 


Careful now...

These are probably going to slightly hurt you at some point


5. Hold the pin so that the round head is not between your fingers, and apply the glue from the glue gun, starting at the point on the pin closest to your finger. Be careful, the glue is hot, and it will warm up the pin. Rotate the pin in your fingers as you apply the glue. Finish the eyestalk by spiralling around the base of the pin head, creating a more bulbous part to the tentacle as it arrives at the eye.

Veins


When you are finished and ease off the trigger of the glue gun, you will be left with a thin drizzle of glue on the nozzle that can be draped back over the eyestalk for a vein-like pattern if you wish. These eyestalks are tricky, and I did extra ones then choosing my favourite ten.


6. Add detail to the main body of the beholder by applying glue with your glue gun, following your marker pen markings from step 2. Progress in a logical order. Imagine the beholder's body in layers; start at the layers closest to the body (I created striations to the underside by dragging the hot end of the glue gun over the surface while applying a getle pressure to the trigger), and end with the most protruding layers (I created the eyebrow ridge by laying down blobs of glue one at a time, then dragging a tip of the bob back away from the central eye. I let this dry and repeated it two or three times).

Stringiness of the glue will mean that bits end up where they aren't supposed to, but most of these strings can be removed with clippers or just pulled away when everything is dry. Do not create the central eye (if you do it too early it might have a strange expression) and do not apply any glue to the inside of the mouth (we need to do put things in there).

7. After the beholder head is dry, fix the eyestalks into place by using the exposed ends of the pins to pierce the head's coating. Use the glue gun to help keep the eyestalks in place. Some of the eyestalks will feel like they wobble around too after they have been installed; reinforce their base with milliput. If eyestalks don't feel secure because they aren't attached well enough under the surface of the dry glue 'skin' coating, then make a small incision near the base and directly put hot glue into the hole. This should reduce movement.

Use nail clippers on lolly sticks for curved incisors

Lay the glue on the card first, then put the teeth on the card

8. Now create the teeth. Clip the matchsticks and lolly sticks into teeth, and arrange them on your workspace in a line that corresponds to the dentures of a predator (refer to images online). Create dentures for the beholder's mouth by cutting a strip of thin card, laying a line of superglue down on it, and then placing the teeth onto it in a biologically-sound order. 



9. Dry fit the teeth inside the beholder's mouth. Ask yourself; "could this beholder close his mouth around these teeth?' - monster teeth are often exaggerated, but only you can decide if they need to be made smaller. When you are happy that the teeth are going to fit the mouth well, remove them. Do not install them yet. 

10. Sculpt the inside of the mouth using epoxy clay. Create a tongue shape separately and install this. Do not let the tongue protrude from the mouth, as this will interfere with the lower dental strip you just created and dry-fitted. Next, you will create a foundation of 'gums' in which to set your teeth, made from epoxy clay (eg, greenstuff). Put this around the rim of the mouth, sitting between the core of the beholder head (polystyrene and clay) and the skin (glue). Push your strips of teeth into these. Adjust them until they are secure and look natural. 

11. After installing the dentures, the symmetry of the teeth will inform you of the best place to put the central eye. Finally you can create the central eye. You can use a blob of glue from the glue gun, but I preferred building it with fine-detail putty. I used any remaining putty as moles on the body of the beholder, to help break up the surfaces during the painting stage.

The central eye sits between the incisors. Adjust the eyebrow to suit.
Use leftover greenstuff for 'moles'
'Moles' will help break up the surface when painting


12. Wait for everything to dry. Before painting, trim away any unwanted stringy bits of glue. Use Mod-Podge dimensional magic to make repairs and smooth over rough parts, particularly in the mouth area. Wait for it all to dry again before priming.

13. Paint the beholder. I primed the eyes white and everything else black. An exotic colour scheme will distinguish the different parts, but even more mundane animals are not the same colour all over; look at pictures of reptiles and lizards for examples of colour variation. The underside of these creatures is often a different colour, as well as around the mouth and eyes. In your mind, break the beholder up into these shapes.

 





14. Finish the base with grass tufts or debris to disguise the part where the miniature is being elevated into the air.

15. Varnish the eyes and inside the mouth with gloss varnish, and the rest with matt varnish.


I hope that this has been clear, but if you have any questions then I'll do my best to answer them.





My mistakes

At the beginning I said I would not include my mistakes in the instructions, because I didn't want to confuse readers, but here are some of the things I did differently. I'm not recommending anyone do it this way:


First of all, I didn't have a polystyrene ball. I had a paper ball.

"Makes no difference, surely?!" 

It does, dear reader, if after covering it in paper you run the whole thing under a tap...


This destroys the paper.

Then you end up with this; a hollow, flexible 'beholder-skin'.





I filled the inside of the skinned-beholder with a weird sort of play-dough that I found somewhere, then sealed the whole thing with glue. This was a mistake - the clay needed air to dry, so it never went hard. I had to cut open the skin and get some air in for a few days. 

Unfortunately, the substance also contracted as it dried, therefore I had to shove the glue gun into a lot of newly-made holes to keep everything from flopping around. It was a mess, hence why I recommend polystyrene coated in epoxy putty in the instructions above.

I do wonder if there are future applications for coating paper items in glue and then 'melting' the core away under the tap though...


 Hope you enjoyed, Peace out.

- Montyhaul






Saturday, 2 April 2016

Nezznar's Journal and notes

He's from Menzoberranzan, contains a rough map with rough directions to the city in the Underdark.

Also map of Wave Echo mine.
Journal contains origins of Nezznar, of house Baenre. Contains info regarding leads to  other places on Sword Coast.  One is the medusa's tomb, as yet undiscovered.

Concerns dominated by being summoned for judgement by his superiors, priestesses of Lolth, and of failing his test and being turned into a drider by the yochlol demons. Lots of praise to Lolth follows.

Yochlol: Demons. The "handmaidens of Lolth" who live in the Abyss. Drow high priestesses can summon them with rituals. They can appear as columns of gas, or an amorphous column with one eye, or even a giant spider or beautiful female human or elf. They can contact their goddess Lolth telepathically.

Journal entries are mostly Nezznar moaning about the light, having to live in caves instead of real buildings, and his difficulties in keeping notes. Moaning about overland travel. He would kill for a massage.

Other general information about the drow from the Underdark comes through in the journals;

That the drow worship Lolth and believe they are destined to be rulers of darkness.
That their magic equipment loses their magic after one hour in sunlight. Much of the enchanted equipment carried up to the surface became mundane upon hitting the cursed daylight.


He's also moaning that doppelgangers can't  be charmed into doing things, and expresses frustration that they can always read his mind, so he has to be honest. They're too useful, and they know it, and that his offer has to be sincere.

He was sent out on a mission several months ago by superior, Narcelia Baenre (Cleric of Lolth), of house Baenre. He is one of many agents sent out to investigate areas of magical power. Sent with a group of drow to investigate the lost Mines of Phandelver. However, unknown to his peers, two of his servants (Slith and Kheel) were doppelgangers who he promised to pay handsomely for their services, and provide an opportunity  to get themselves and their young out of servitude to the drow in Menzoberranzan.

When they got enough leads, he had his doppelganger's kill the other drow so as to get all the credit.

Used doppelganger agents and magic to strike deals with the Bugbear King Grohl of the Cragmaw tribe (Although Nezznar never went in person, they hate elves). Targor Bloodsword and his sons are thankfully not in charge, as they are more interested in waging war on Phandalin than working with Nezznar and getting paid for bounties and kidnapping. Lord Albrek (Glasstaff) was considered approachable when the doppelganger in Phandalin read his thoughts, and found his true nature suitable. He wanted magical knowledge, and kept asking for Nezznar to teach him the spell Invisibility.  He's only granted him potions so far, but he isn't able to cast yet. He's probably trying to brew them himself with a lab in the ruins he calls home.

When the Rockseeker dwarves found the mine, the thought reading doppelganger's had already read their secret knowledge, and were ready to strike. Giant spiders in the mine responded with affinity for the Drow, a blessing from Lolth.


The last journal entries show Black Spider's attempts to tie up loose ends and the party's disruption. No record suggests he was aware that one doppelganger was captured by PCs. By all accounts, his entries and increasingly frantic handwriting show frustration, his plans foiled by people so... UNCHARISMATIC.



Nezznar also makes notes on the ecology of the wraith in the mine. Worries about it's ability to spawn specters. Several bugbears drained of life, their spirits raised and rained the life out of more bugbears. So, he stopped sending in bugbears. Doubts creatures killed in this way can be raised from the dead. And notes to self "even then, I am more than 10 days travel away from a cleric who would be willing to cast raise dead on my corpse. Perhaps once I could have used Glasstaff, but he's dead now. No, I would rather not pass over to the judgement of the spider queen without more to my name".

Also notes presence of a beholder (he deduces it is one from fleeing bugbear descriptions). Again, Nezznar has not actually fought it himself. It guards forge of spells.

Finally, Nezznar imagines  there is more to the mines, to be uncovered once the operation is secure but that there will be an excavation effort to uncover it all. Hobgoblin slavers should solve the problem.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Lost Mines of Phandelver - nearly at an end

Lost Mines of Phandelver (Spoilers ahead)

For the last few months every fortnight I've  been running the starter box for a group of seven. All but one are new to the game (and me to dming 5ed), but they've done excellently at learning the rules and solving problems in unpredictable  ways.

In the first cave with the cragmaw goblins, they killed the Bugbear leader but bargained with the remaining goblins for the life of the captured Sildar Hallwinter, leaving without a fight.

In the Redbrand's  hideout at Tresendar manor, bribed the Nothic with offerings of food then locked it in a store cupboard.

Destroyed Thresendar manor by blowing up the alchemy lab and burning everything they could see.

After ousting the Redbrands, pressured Town master Harbin Wester to leave and seeing to election of mining guild (and Zhentarim agent) Halia Thornton.

They all joined the Zhentarim.

Captured and dragged back to Phandalin the 'drow' (doppelganger) for interrogation by Zhentarim agents, which leads to...

Their asassination of the Rockseeker brothers (on orders of the new townmaster), so that the newly acquired doppelganger can take the former of one of them and publicly 'sell' the rights to their claim to the Zhentarim.

The Doppelganger may hang around for longer in it's  new employment, tightening the Zhentarim  grip on Phandalin in coming weeks.

The party are at present in the final dungeon, and then will go after Vermithrax in Thundertree. There are seven of them, so they'll probably be fine, sadly...