Wednesday 19 June 2013

Reaper Bones #3: A Carcase of Skeletons

The Reaper Bones Painting Marathon continues, this time I have a carcase of skeletons.

So far I've been pretty impressed with the PVC material the bones minis are made from.  It's much more robust than the plastic that the WotC D&D or Paizo Pathfinder plastic miniatures are made from and the sculpts have been intentionally strengthened in some areas to ensure that they don't break or bend excessively.

The skeletons are a prime example of this as during transit they tend to get a bit bent, particularly in the polearm and base/ankle areas, which means when you unbox them they can have some weird lean angles. I had to use the hot water / cold water dipping technique on a few of them to refresh the plastic's memory and return them to their intended poses.  If you want to change a pose slightly you can, you just have to overbend them slightly as the plastic really wants to go back to its original shape.   

DHL Classic Skeletons x3 (Ed Pugh SKU: 03467)

Six skeletons (Front)

Six skeletons (Back)
From the pictures you'll see that these are the first Bones I've tried to mod.  I was pretty unhappy with the flexibility of the upper bow limbs, so I decided to string them to give them a bit of extra realism and to give the bow limb a bit of support. This involves a few steps:

  1. Heat a thin guage sewing needle over a naked flame until it glows cherry red, then pierce the miniature between the bottom limb of the bow and the skeleton's leg.  This will create a hole through which you can feed your bow string. 
  2. Cut a suitable length of solid thin wire to form your arrow and glue this between the drawing hand and the thumb with small dabs of superglue.  My knocked arrows are way too long to fit into the skeleton's quiver and I should really cut them down, but I like the way that they fit the skeleton's half draw pose so I'll leave them for now.
  3. Take a length of sewing thread and knot one end.  Then thread it through the hole you made in the bow in step 1 and set with a dab of superglue.  Stretch the thread in as straight a line as you can to the flight end of the arrow (ie the bit the skeleton is pulling) and set with a dab of superglue.
  4. Make a loop in the end of the thread and hook it over the topmost bow limb.  Tighten this thread until both bow limbs are symetrical and then set the knot with superglue.
  5. Coat the thread in superglue on both sides.  Once the superglue dries, the string becomes rigid and supports the upper bow limb and prevents any excessive flexing.
  6. The final stage is to cover up the drawn end of the bow with a flight.  Make this by pressing a small amount of modelling clay (milliput or green stuff) into a thin diamond shape on a cutting mat.  Whilst still pliable cut the diamond into two triangular halves and then stick one to the end of the bow.  You don't have to be too great at modelling to do this, just patient.

Bones Progress

Reaper Bones: 245 - Painted: 30

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Monday 10 June 2013

Movie Watch: The Brass Teapot

I love indie films, they can often get away with things that Hollywood wouldn't or couldn't get through its exhaustive audience testing process.   

The Brass Teapot is one such film, it's essentially a morality tale disguised as a comedy with a supernatural focus in the form of a magical teapot which gives you money in exchange for pain.

The tale follows the likeable, but struggling young couple, Juno Temple (Atonement, Killer Joe) and Michael Angarano (The Forbidden Kingdom, Sky High) who discover a magical, money producing teapot and set about using it to change their lives.  The pair are likeable although a little stereotypical, and are surrounded by a plethora of family, friends and enemies who are all exploited by the pair as they gradually fall under the spell of the teapot. 

Add in the pair of Jewish grandsons and the strange Chinese Professor of Antiquity who both know the true power of the teapot and things turn comically dark. 

What's in it for role players

Well obviously it's the magic teapot.  I loved the way the story of this cursed item played out for the couple and it would pose a challenge to any greedy character in your game.   Essentially the teapot rewards you financially in exchange for experiencing pain but the longer you use the teapot more it's power grows, and it moves on to the next stage of its reward structure.
  • Stage 1: Accidental Injury to oneself. 
  • Stage 2: Self Inflicted Injury
  • Stage 3: Injury inflicted by another
  • Stage 4: Injury to a stranger
  • Stage 5: Injury of a friend
  • Stage 6: Death of a stranger
  • Stage 7: Death of a friend
  • Stage 8: Death of a thousand
  • Stage 9: Death of a town
  • Stage 10: Death of a Nation
  • Stage 11: Death of a species or race.

I'd make sure that it was found as a side treasure in a tomb and be pretty but mundane looking, either functional or at best semi-valuable, so as not to become an instant trade. 

Have the items power hidden for a time and only revealed to one or two characters (preferably a thief) who can keep a secret.  Allowing them to gradually discover the teapot's secret should add some interesting side story to your party.  As the owner becomes blasé about using the teapot's power, it should start paying less, or stop altogether.  They won't get a similar payout again until they find a new way of causing pain, which could be fun in it's own way.


Sunday 9 June 2013

Cleopatra and The Society of Architects

I've been trying to get a copy of this sadly out of print game for a few years now and thanks to eBay managed to bag an un-punched German language copy last week.

Cleopatra and the Society of Architects
Published in 2006, by Days of Wonder, design by Bruno Cathala (Shadows over Camelot) and Ludovic Maublanc (Cash 'n' Guns), Cleopatra and the Society of Architects is a sumptuous 3 to 5 player game with an Egyptian theme.  Each player is an architect trying to impress Queen Cleopatra (and guarantee a prosperous afterlife) by constructing architectural features for her new palace project.  These adornments are represented by gorgeous plastic miniatures in the shape of 6 Sphinx, 2 Obelisks, 9 Column sections, 2 Door frames and Cleopatra's Throne and pedestal.

The Completed Palace
Ingeniously, the game utilises the box lid as a 3D game board onto which you lay the tessellating Mosaics of The Gods, Cleopatra's Throne and its Pedestal.  Columns and Door frames are placed around the sides of the box and interact with each other to score even more cash when built.  This gives the whole game a wonderful 3 dimensional feel which adds to its appeal and to be honest Days of Wonder could have made this game using traditional card components but it just wouldn't have had the visual impact (but would not have deserved the £40 price tag) or the tactile element which is so fun.

The game itself has a simple concept, collect resources from the market and build various items to decorate Cleopatra's new Palace.  Each time you build you earn money and the object of the game is be the richest surviving architect.

A smorgasbord of components
Yes, I did say "Surviving", because along the way you will inevitably acquire corruption amulets for having to use "tainted" resources, not offering enough cash to the high priest or simply trying to do dodgy deals with various "Worshippers of Sobek".  These corruption amulets get counted up in the end game and the most corrupt architect is fed to Cleopatra's crocodile.

There's a ton of different mechanics in the game from area control to trick taking and even a blind auction so there's plenty of opportunity for you to different strategies to try to win.  The multiple mechanics for gaining and removing corruption tokens means that you never really know who is in the lead at any time making for a tense and fun end game.  This is always something high on my priority list when I look at a new game.

As I said before my copy is German, and I foolishly thought that I could get away this as the majority of the cards just have the German names for Wood, Stone, Marble and Craftsmen.  However, the "Worshippers of Sobek" (aka the tainted character cards) had other ideas.  These cards have complex instructions on their use which needs to be readily available to the players.  My solution was to photoshop the German Summary Cards and replace the text with English, no mean feat I can tell you.  If anyone has scans of the English summary cards to donate, I would be most grateful.

Playing the game with 4 players