Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Monocracy of Ottersricht

The approach to Ottersricht is an impressive sight. As you pass through the dry plains towards it, you can see it rise up even as you are still a great distance away. When you get closer, however, it is even more peculiar in appearance. A tall, lonely mountain (if you can call it that) extends from the otherwise flat surface. The mountain is surprisingly narrow, although it does have a few gangly peaks jutting from its main body. Much of the slope is shear and cliff-like.


Once you arrive at the mountain, the path up is narrow and winds around the mountain all the way to the fortress. The path itself is wide enough for a cart and maybe a horse alongside it. And it is not very well kept. A local may be able to memorize every pit and crack, but the assent is not kind to a traveler. The outermost level consists of stone walls, referred to as the fortress (somewhat tongue-in cheek), mostly to allow soldiers to defend the town. A large gate stretches across the narrow path. The gate has a set of large, iron doors and a portcullis that can be closed in times of need. The homes in Ottersricht frequently appear to be part of the mountain itself; windows often appear on the side of the sheer surface and bricked in holes can be seen sporadically. There are city streets within the mountain town, of course. They are usually cobblestoned and wind and curve around the natural contours of the mountain and around the homes and other buildings that have been erected over the course of Ottersrichts history. Although narrow, the mountain does have enough space for all necessary buildings of a fortified village as well. The citizens also rely on the copious amounts of tunnels that make their way through the mountain. While many of these tunnels have been dug by the citizenry, some predate the settlement of the mountain and many more are unknown.

Illustration by J. Brisken
The most common method of reaching Ottersricht is to travel the great road across the barren plains. Nothing much grows on the plains as the soil is too alkaline. But the mountain is in an interesting position, for just on the other side of the mountain begin the bogs. Maybe at one point in the distant past the area was a giant forest with a magnificent lake. But those days are long gone and the bogs are all the lone reminder that there used to be something there.

There are two season in Ottersricht: the rainy season and everything else. During the rainy season, the rain comes from all directions while the wind whips across the plains. It is these torrents that lead those of a scientific mindset to assume that the peculiar mountain on which Ottersricht is located was shaped and formed by countless years of erosion. Of course, those of a supernatural mindset look towards the tunnels with curiosity

Regardless of the season, the temperature is often cold. Not cold enough to freeze, but cold enough to sap your energy and encourage sitting by a warm fire. This is another reason for the popularity of the tunnels. The underground stays at a temperature that is much more comfortable than being outdoors!

Due to the poor soil, the citizens of Ottersricht grow little of their own food, relying on trade for much of their diet. Many of the homes have large window boxes that grow a small amount of vegetables and the larger homes even have small terraces, but within the walls, there is not the space to grow more than that. The bog provides fruits, but as these are often bitter, they are mixed into other foods and rarely eaten plain. The bogs also provide plentiful hunting for those adventurous enough to explore far into them. The tunnels do provide some bounty. Rich mushrooms grow abundantly in the caves. These mushrooms are high in vitamins and minerals, but spongy and bland. Additionally, people have begun to farm the large spiders that inhabit the tunnels. These spiders can be kept in pens and allowed to feed on the vermin that already lives in the tunnels. These spiders, while low in flavor, are high in protein.

The town is run by the Monocrat, the single highest ranking government bureaucrat. The Monocrat acts with total authority to enforce and interpret the towns various rules and regulationsboth secular and religious. In the days before, it is said that the Monocrat was appointed by Sigmar himself. Now, it is a position achieved by toiling away until every bureaucrat above you dies or reaches mandatory retirement age. And that includes the Monocrat. This elevation of the lowly government employee has led to countless rules and regulations controlling who can do what and when to an excruciating degree. The only saving grace is that very often the present Monocrat cares far less about the rules of the previous Monocrat. But when in Ottersricht, one must always be wary of what obscure rule may be broken.

The current Monocrat is Kasper Hans. Like most Monocrats before him, he is an elderly man, with sunken eyes, pasty skin, and boney fingers, all from years spent cloistered at his desk turning the wheels of Bureaucracy. As he always has, Kasper spends most of his time still stationed at his desk in his office. After all, one does not rise to the level of Monocrat by taking holidays!

One of Kasper Hans first rules was to pass a tax of all followers of chaos; not that anyone admits to such a thing. This tax is not your normal tax, however, and mere coin will not suffice. No, the followers of chaos within the realms of Ottersricht must pay a yearly tax of a silverweight of their own flesh. And very few have survived paying such a steep tax! This tax has also lead to the appointment of a special taxman, known as the Tithe Collector. He and his Tallymen roam the area looking for those evading Ottersrichts revenue service.

This does not mean that all is well in Ottersricht, however. The Tallymens use of force has roused the bog mutants in colonies, as they are the most frequent victims of the revenue men. Particularly cunning or large mutants have managed to form tribes of mutants for mutual self-protection, and they have begun to launch the occasional raid on lonely individuals and small groups. And to make matters worse, several citizens have gone missing of late in the tunnels, with whispers of their disappearance referring to the stitcher taking them. The towns location on an alkaline plain brings out the lunatic wanders too; and you have to be a special kind of vagabond to survive such a barren environment. But not all travelers are badwhy rumor has it that a merchants caravan full of bizarre wonders is on its way to Ottersricht!



As I spend less time actually gaming, I've found myself spending more time world building in my mind while I paint. After all, how else will I know that the swordsman I am painting is not just some swordsman, but Otto the butcher's son who has been levied into the town militia on his off days? These kind of details help keep me enthusiastic about painting and make decisions about how to paint. 

But such world building is also fun; it lets me tell a storyeven if only to my self. Although, I do plan on using these stories to convince my kids to game 😂 Ottersricht, described above, is set in the Warhammer world, but I've kept it intentionally vague as to which one. It could easily be a city-state in the Border Princes or an isolated town in one of the many realms of the Age of Sigmar. My goal is to be able to tell stories in both games without having to reinvent the wheel, or more importantly remodel my (as yet unbuilt) gaming table. And to not confuse my children who likely won't give a rat's ass about the difference between the old world and the nine realms!

In the coming weeks, I'll be detailing more about some of the personalities I introduced above. The Stitcher and several of his henchmen are done, as is a bog mutant, with a few more partially converted. I just need to take photos of those once my basement remodel is finished (very soon!). Most of the parts for the Tallymen and the Merchants are purchased but a little bit further away. Plus I have some plans for some "NPC" type characters as well. 

Oh, and finally, a huge thanks to Jason Brisken for the artwork!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Updates, and Lack Thereof



Gah! It's been several weeks without an update and I've failed at my attempts to post weekly. But all for good reason, I promise! We're having our basement remodeled this week and that is where I paint. We have spent the last few weeks moving stuff out, although like any sensible people, we've still left a ton to the last minute.

Currently, my painting area looks like this:

As you can see there is quite a bit of stuff in the way of my painting table! And to make matters worse, I have finished a few things I haven't posted yet: A blood bowl team, another terrain piece (along with an attempt at realistic stucco), and five or six AoS28 models along with my first decent attempts at actually sculpting stuff. However, my tripod is in the far back corner, literally, behind everything else. So, in other words, no pictures can be taken!

Hopefully, everything will be back to normal in the a few weeks and I'll be beginning a new piece for the Zombies of Karr-keel too.

See you then!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

One more robot down, one more left until I have completed the set of old Rogue Trader robots for Orclord. This is the one I have been looking most forward to painting, although he turned out to not be nearly as fun to paint as the last two.

I knew I wanted the bulk of the model to be green, based on its insectoid appearance. Initially, I was going to go with something fairly earthy and natural looking. But while thinking about it, I decided that these were Rogue Trader models, and needed to be painted with bright 1980s colors. I did reserve the back to be painted with more earthy tones to act as contrast.

Like many early models, this model was more pockmarked than an Edwardian sailor. But, because of all the flat surfaces, it was easily fixable. I applied a couple of layers of Gunze Sanyo's Mr. Dissolved putty to most of the model and let it dry overnight. The next day, I did a lot of sanding and touched up some spots that didn't get properly filled and repeated the process.

When it came time to paint, I airbrushed the carpace with a mix of Vallejo Game Air Bronze Flesh and White. I applied a couple of highlights by mixing in more white. Afterwards, it got a coat of gloss varnish. I gave the varnish a few days to dry and cut a mask to fit the white portions (well, those intended to stay white!).

The next step was to airbrush Vallejo Game Air Snot Green. I then applied some shading with Vallejo Game Air Dark Green. Then I switched to brush painting and added further shades by mixing in Caliban Green and then black. For the highlights, first mixed in GW Scorpion Green to the Snot Green, and then, eventually, I began adding in yellow.

For the metallics, I began with GW Ironbreaker, which was washed with P3 Armor wash and highlighted up by mixing in GW Stormhost silver.

The giant eyes were painted with GW Khorne Red, shaded by mixing in black and highlighted by mixing in orange.

At this point, I had to touch up the white. But thankfully, Bronze Flesh is a very strong color, even when thinned. That's one of the reasons I used it for a base! After I was done touching up the white, I applied a wash of Bronze Flesh mixed with a little GW Gryphonne Sepia. This dirtied it up a little too much for my liking, so I reapplied the highlights again.

Finally, I applied a thinned wash of Ammo of Mig's Rainmarks Effects. After that dried, the body got a coat of gloss varnish. The next day, decals were applied.

It was at this point that I noticed that the shoulder of the right arm was still really pockmarked! So I had to redo the Mr. Dissolved Putty and lightly sand it to smooth it out. I repainted the green, achieving what is probably the single best blend I have ever painted. It goes so smoothly from Caliban Green to yellow that it looked like the kind of blending some of those crazy good French painters pull off.

Unfortunately for you, the reader, the giant, empty shoulders were mocking me. So I put decals on them, covering up my amazing blend! The shoulders got another wash of thinned Rainmarks Effects to fade them a little.

After the final coat of varnish, I applied pigments to the gun barrels and to the feet. Orclord has since requested that I tone down the dust on the feet, so the finished model looks a little different than what is pictured here.


Right behind that emblem is some of the best blending ever, I swear!

Check out my back tats, bro!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The future's so dark, I gotta wear shades

After a month of rotting, putrid carcasses, I'm now veering in another direction with another unfinished project checked off! This is the first of about five cars I'm planning on doing for Dark Future or other pose-apocalypse car games. Several years back, there seemed to be a boom in people in the oldhammer community converting hot wheels and matchbox cars for Dark Future. So I thought I would try my hand an picked up a hot wheels 1970 Buick GSX. And promptly did nothing with it.

Eventually, I opened the package and scrubbed off the decals with acetone. That is where I realized mistake #1: always pop the rivets and separate the body from the rest of the car BEFORE using any paint stripper. Quite embarrassing really, since I am very experienced with stripping models and know what is and is not plastic safe.

After that fiasco, I went to work on making it look post-apocalyptic. I added some metal covers for the side and rear windows, fashioned a hatch for the top, and attached a machine gun and a small rocket launcher. This was where I realized mistake #2: buy as many upgrade parts from professionals as you can, modeling at such a small scale is hard!

Next was priming and the rust undercoat. I airbrushed the whole car with Vallejo Game Air Dark Flesh, which turns out, looks nothing like the old GW Dark Flesh. But it was still brown-red, so it worked. After that, I put a coat of gloss varnish to protect the rust color from the worn effects that would (eventually) be applied. This was the next major stoppage in this project.

So it sat all rust colored for several months while I thought about the color scheme. Eventually I decided on a mint green, a color stereotypically associated with American cars from the 1970s. But I also knew I wanted a racing stripe. So I laid down a coat of AK Interactive Worn Effects and let that dry, per the instructions. Then I airbrushed a wide black line down the center. I took a damp, stiff brush and rubbed off bits of the black, making sure to pay special attention to the edges. After that was completed, it got another coat of gloss varnish.

Then I cut a strip of masking tape in the width I wanted the stripe to be and applied it to the car. Then, another coat of AK Interactive followed by Vallejo Game Air Scorpion Green. I added a couple of zenithal highlights by mixing in white. I removed the masking tape and went back to work with the damp, stiff brush. And another coat of gloss varnish. The metal plaints were painted with GW Chainmail and the Chrome with GW Stormhost Silver. Both were washed with GW Typhus Corrosion and the steel parts were also washed with AK Interactive Rust Wash.

I painted the bazooka in desert camo to give the impression that it was stolen from some military vehicle. Around the bottom I applied several layers of GW Stirland Mud. This was also washed with Typhus Corrosion and then drybrushed with Vallejo Game Color Plague Brown. The rusty spots were highlighted with various ochres and bright oranges.

This is where mistake #1 came back to really bite me. The tires were a mess, as they were a little melted and needed to be painted. That was a pain. Afterwards, the tires and the rims were also given a wash of Typhus Corrosion.

A this point, the entire car had a couple of thinned washes of Army Painter Soft Tone ink to make it look dirtier and bring out some of the definition.

The front windshield was "blended" from dark blue to white. I would like to think I put the highlights at the top because I envisioned the car riding off into the sunset with the light source low on the horizon. But the truth of the matter is I had a brain lapse and screwed my highlight up! There is also, somehow, a brown spot on the windshield. I have no idea how that got there and didn't even notice it until I took the photos! But after varnishing the whole model, this got a brushed on layer of gloss to amp up the shininess.






Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Zombie Crew and a Dark Elf too!


Okay, after a short break, I've got even more zombies to show off! As I said in my post about the Frostgrave zombies, I tacked in some of my personal zombies when painting the Zombies of Karr-Keel. These were especially interesting to paint because these are also Kev Adams' zombies from the old Citadel C18 range. And to be quite honest, as much as I loved the Zombies of Karr-Keel, I love these more. These look far more rotten than Kev's more recent sculpts and they also lack some of the texture than the Zombies of Karr-Keel have. There is still plenty of texture on these too, but they suit my painting style a little better. These were painted in much the same manner as the Frostgrave zombies (being that they were painted at the same time and all), but I did use one of the Via Ludibunda Shields of Vileness for the champion.









Caius over at Lead n Paint hooked me up with another pre-slotta dark elf Manflayer as well. When I painted the unit, I included an assassin, giving me only 11 actual warriors in the unit. I noticed this when I went use the unit at NOVAOSRGOT and had to stick an extra crewman in the unit. Unfortunately, this is definitely not one of my better paint jobs. I was rushing him and on an off night. But when put in the middle of the back row of a unit, he'll look "good enough." And that is all I can ask for. If you're really interested, the rest of the unit can be seen here.

I squint in your general direction!