As I'd painted up one of these chaps, I decided to try my hand at a few more; unfortunately, the khaki wasn't quite right, they look a little greenish compared to the chap on the extreme right of this picture,who was the first one painted. I think they're looking rather good, can't wait to get their Astro-Hungarian counterparts painted up so I can maybe get some Martian action in.
I've also been bitten by the Brigade Games bug - they have a great VSF range, including these gems -
These guys are proper Pith-Helmeted Victorian British, in breathing gear - just as I was planning for my aetherines (which are still on the modelling table...). Of course, now I'm going to get these rather than faff about building the breathing apparatus and they can go up against my Westwind Prussians-cum-Ruritanians, who also have natty breathing gear. I love it when a plan comes together...
And to inspire myself, I have to post this pic that I found trolling round the web but sadly now can't remember where it came from, otherwise I'd be saying 'hey this is _____'s groovy picture!' with a link to the artist's page and whatnot. It's a German-looking mechanical cavalryman and is most lovely - in a grimey, diesel-y sort of way...
This is one of the Warzone Imperial troopers from Prince August Miniatures (link to the bag of 80 Imperial and Bauhaus minis here), which will be one of a bunch of British Space Empire troopers - slightly later than the usual 1890ish VSFery, these are for an early 20th century project around the 'Fourth Martian War' of around 1910.
Not been a lot of action for the last 2 months or so, partly because of the self-destruction of my old PC, but hopefully that will be changing as of now...
Thanks to the lovely majorsmith at Lead Aventure Forums (who also supplied me with the Ironclad British Line Infantry ages ago that started this whole crazy business) for swapping these minis with me. A bit of a mixed bag here, the Westwind stuff will be perfect for those slightly more normal settings involving consulting detectives, the police, and angry London mobs (perhaps connected with the whole 'Food of the Gods' business).
The Prussians will of course be pressed into service for my Ruritanian forces, on Mars or some other sector of the Astro-Hungarian Empire. And the Sanwar too look like they'll make an interesting diversion on the Martian highways (or canals possibly). I feel a Martian campaign coming on...
So, she's a bit cross-eyed and I'm going to have to put up with it. I'm quite convinced anything else I do will make it worse.
She even got a battle in last night, along with some Space Marines (whatever they are, for VSF's sake) as I used her as a stand-in for a Space Marine Librarian with Plasma Pistol and Force Weapon in a game of 40k in which my regular opponent, Lyracian, reduced me to one surviving marine and two slightly-functioning vehicles in 5 turns.
When will she see action against Rivets and Whimsy? Not anytime soon, I suspect...
Slowly, ever so slowly, like an Aetheric Leviathan inching into harbour (one really can't say 'centimetring into harbour') I'm managing to get more paint on my Warmachine Victoria Haley (I find it hard not to type 'Jennifer Haley') mini.
Honestly, at some point she'll be finished. Really. And she can join the little gaggle of figures waiting for me to play GASLIGHT with them - as a sky pirate!
She'll probably see service first as a stand in Space Marine Librarian in a 40k game however. Ooops.
The first is the mini (a Warmachine Victoria Haley) when I received it from snow_base_Gaz - he'd done most of the work already!
But there was work on the head - hair, face, goggles - that needed doing so I gave it a go.
My first pair of VSF goggles and I like the way they're looking.
Not so impressed with the hair though - it turned out a bit more purple than I thought it would.
A few bits to touch up on the staff and I really ought to make it clearer she's wearing gloves (I haven't just forgotten to paint her fingers), that might help somewhat. Otherwise, it's just finishing the face; then the base and she's done, the first of my Sky Pirates who will serve as Rivets' and Whimsy's real adversaries...
Apologies first off for the bad picture quality - by the time I'd realised that the first two were a bit blurry there was too much superglue to pull the bits apart and photograph them again. My latest acquisition - from one of the very nice chaps over at Lead Adventure Forum - is this... a mini of Captain Victoria Hayley, Warcaster of Cygnar in the Iron Kingdoms... from the world of 'Warmachine' by Privateer Press.
She was in two bits when I got her - in attempting to put the body on a base the torso became seperated from the legs... who knew that would happen?
And here she is in the flesh (or rather metal): half Amazonian Warrior-Queen, half psychedelic cowgirl, those are definitely goggles on her head and thus she is without a doubt a ski-pirate. Probably a confederate of that dashed Captain Van Dango and a deadly enemy of Rivets and Whimsy. Kinda fitting that I should get one at last, as I've spent quite a lot of the last couple of years drooling over those Warmachine minis and indeed getting the rules from my mate Rob was one of the things that prompted me to start the blog in the first place...
As I've re-activated my old D&D campaign (at least, I'm ploughing through my old notes and attempting to cudgel them into order) I also thought it might be time to do a little housekeeping on the blog - as some time ago, the excellent 'Big List of RPG Plots' by S. John Ross of Cumberland Games went down, and I was looking for it to help with my general DMing activities.
Turns out that it's moved so I've put in the link to the current site - it's really worth checking out whether one plays old-school fantasy, sci-fi games, VSF, Pulp or whatever other genre one can imagine. Pretty much all the plots you could think of are listed with common and not-so-common twists and complications; also included are some suggestions about how to combine plots and move from one to another. A great resource to stimulate the gaming imagination. Please take the time to visit it and take a gander at the other Cumberland Games stuff while you're there - including various free downloads which I'm sure I'll be taking advantage of!
While I was sorting that out, I also took the opportunity to delete the Universal Engineering forum from the links list. It was hacked some time ago, and account details were pirated. I certainly ended up with a virus on my email account which originated the day after the forum was hacked and I can't help thinking the two things were related. The forum has now either moved or just ceased, there's no forum at the address I held anyway. Sadly Universal Engineering never really took off; conceived as a 'TerraGenesis for vehicle makers' - specifically, I suppose, sci-fi vehicles - it never attained the critical mass of modellers necessary to become a self-sustaining community in the way TG did. Partly, I think, because TG already had a huge library of articles and photos before it became a successful forum. UE didn't have that and never acquired it.
Hopefully, a new attempt to do something similar will be more successful... who knows? I'd certainly like to be able to go to a forum dedicated to the art of turning shampoo-bottles into grav-tanks and building cardboard dirigibles... it might help me to sort out one of the modelling projects I'm currently working on, some 'squad cars' for my 'space police' - Jo, Bo, Ho and Flo Judoon, Intergalactic Enforcers - some Judoon from the Dr Who magazine that really need some transport. I'm sure they'll turn up at some point to bother my Torchwood and UNIT chaps... but maybe not with their hover-cars.
Some lovely miniatures that sadly haven't seen a drop of paint yet - four troopers and a bugler from Redoubt Miniatures 'Zulu Wars' range - you can find them here - and a chap who may be from the same range (though I can't find him on the Redoubt site) who may well surface as either Allan Quatermain, or one of my projected 'Kaptein Django's Boer Kommandos' who still need to see the light of day... though there are lots of very lovely Zulu and Boer Wars minis on the Redoubt site, it shouldn't be too hard to a) get some Boer Kommandos together (who could also serve as irregular horse and foot for my British Forces if fighting Martians or whatever, as well as characters for more general adventuring stuff, for instance a gamekeeper type for 'Food of the Gods') and b) get some British cavalry and officers... very lovely minis I tells ya!
I haven't been very good at updating the blog lately, but then again I haven't been doing much painting lately either... Hopefully, these will have some paint on them in the not-to-distant future.
The Chief of Police in Strelsau has taken the unusual step of issuing a photograph of four men thought to be inolved with revolutionary activity among the working classes in Ruritania.
Following the recent announcement by the Paris-based 'People's Truth' group that they opposed the recent campaign of terrorist outrages, the international revolutionary socialist movement has been riven by a dispute between those who support 'direct action' - a euphemism for terroroism - and those who support factory organisations to wrest control of industry from the bosses.
These four men are believed to be from the direct action wing of the revolutionary socialist movement and active in Strelsau. All loyal citizens of Ruritania areasked to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to the authorities!
OK, a couple of them are 'Usual Suspects' such as the cowboy chap (who seems to get into lots of photos, an Artizan Texas Ranger, I believe) and 'Ironcladman' AKA the Brass Aetherine AKA Sgt Jack Ironbridge of the Royal Aeronatical Corps.
Also pictured are 'Chap with Axe' (a lovely figure from Brigade Games' not-Gangs of New York range, not from Artizan as I had previously believed - thanks guys at the Lead Adventure Forum for putting me right!) and Ironclad's excellent dynamic duo of 'Agent H' and 'Agent L'. Obviously, still WIP but hey ho, I'm better at starting things than finishing them.
Some of these guys will perhaps see action in a new theme I'm working on inspired by HG Wells' classic tale 'The Food of the Gods', in which a new growth-promoting chemical formula causes wasps, ants, rats, plants, and ultimately people to grow very large. Obviously the Agents (from the Ministerial Investigation Board, the governmental organisation that keeps watch on the strange and unusual... and Torchwood:1891, which counts as strange and unusual all on its own) will be coming around trying to hush everything up; Chap with Axe is likely to be some villager from Kent or Surrey defending life and limb from hypertrophied rats and whatnot.
Whether I get further with a 'Food of the Gods' project, only time will tell, but I may as well assume I will I think...
The Rassendylls, according to the testimony of Rudolf Rassendyll, derive their red hair and long straight noses from a liason between Prince Rudolf of Elphberg (later Rudolf III of Ruritania) and Countess Amelia, wife of James, Knight of the Garter, 5th Earl of Burlesdon and 22nd Baron Rassendyll. This liason is thought to have taken place in 1733; subsequently, James died and a posthumus son was born - though what happened to the title at this point, is not known, as it should have passed to his closest living heir. The death of James and the birth of the red-haired child that would become the 6th Earl can be presumed to be in 1734, though potentially they could both be in 1733 (or less likely, the death of James could have occurred very late in 1733 and the birth of the future 6th Earl in 1734).
When discussing the portraits on the wall of the family home (p.10), Rudolf comments that 'five or six' of the portraits of the Rassendylls of the 'last century-and-a-half' (of which there are 'fifty ... or so') show the Elphberg red; furthermore, his brother Robert remarks (p.8) that the red hair and long, straight nose come out once a generataion.
'Five or six' implies five or six generations from the 6th Earl (inclusive). Taking a standard genealogical generation of 25 years this would give 125 or 150 years since 1734. We might then expect the youngest Rassendyll to be born around 1834, or perhaps 1859 - very roughly. The first of these, if it applies to Rudolf, would give a date of 1863 for the events of Zenda; the later date, however, of 1859 is unsupportable, as it would give of 1888 for the events of 'Zenda' and as has been demonstrated, unless there is a way to explain the absence of Fritz von Tarlenheim's 10-year-old youngest son, the events of 'Zenda' must have taken place before 1883 or thereabouts. However, Rudolf also say that these portraits are of the previous 'century-and-a-half'. 150 years from 1734 gives 1884 - remarkably close to the date of 1883 calculated as the latest reasonable date of the events of 'Zenda'.
'Prisoner of Zenda' was written after the events it describes, though before the events of 'Rupert of Hentzau', which take place four years later. In other words, there is a four-year gap in which 'Zenda' must have been written. If we are to take the 'century-and-a-half' seriously, it seems likely that it was written in the years either side of 1884. To claim that it and 'Hentzau' must refer to events before 1871 is shrinking 'a century-and-a-half' down to 'a century-and-thirty-seven (or fewer) years'.
Furthermore, it can be pretty confidently asserted that 'Zenda' was written earlier in the same year of the events of 'Hentzau', which were in October. So perhaps August or September of that year, before Rudolf Rassendyll's meeting with Fritz von Tarlenheim at Wintenberg.
If publication of Fritz's memoir came shortly after writing, then the date of 1898 for publication suggests that the year the events of 'Hentzau' took place was 1884. There is a detailed timescale involved in 'Hentzau' which relates to events of 'Thursday 16th of October' and the days following. In 1884, the 16th of October was a Thursday; other possible years (post-1852) are 1856, 1862, 1873 and 1879.
The main objection to all the later dates is that Ruritania is in Germany, and effectively ceased to be after the incorporation into the German Empire. Thus, for the purposes of this argument, 1873, 1879 and 1884 are much of a muchness. All preserve an independent (or relatively-so) Ruritania after 1871, so they can be ruled out - if Ruritania is German, rather than Austro-Hungarian.
Summer 1856 for the writing of 'Zenda', and the October of that year for the events of 'Hentzau', seem extremely early. Apart from anything, writing in 1856, Rudolf Rassendyll is unlikely to have referred to portraits of 'the last century-and-a-half' if he meant post-1734, a mere 122 years previously. He may, of course, merely have been referring to portraits hanging in the house in general, including those from before 1734. We cannot know for certain, but the context suggests that he means that the portraits of the last 150 years post-date 1734. The mention of 'Imperial' beards would also weigh against such an early date. If the events of 'Hentzau' take place in 1856, then 'Zenda' takes place in 1852 - too earlyfor the 'Imperial' style to be known. The portraits - though not, admitedly, the beards - would also mitigate against the potential 1862 date. Furthermore, both these dates would require the manuscripts of the memoirs to have remained secret for several decades.
Of course, it is possible to raise the objection that this is exactly what did happen - Queen Flavia, born approximately 20 years before the events of 'Zenda', would have been born around 1832, and 62 when 'Zenda' was published, and 66 on the publication of 'Hentzau'. 'Bob' Rassendyll, Rudolf's older brother, born around 1815, would have been approximately 79 when 'Zenda' was published. Either or both may be expected to have died in the meantime. If the manuscript of 'Zenda' were among Rudolf's papers, held by Robert, they may not have been published until after Robert's death. Likewise, it is perhaps unlikely that Fritz would seek to publish 'Hentzau' until after the death of Queen Flavia.
So there are two possible streams of historical thought: the first is an 'early' composition, 1856 or 1862 for the events of 'Hentzau'. This means that Ruritania could be in Germany, is absorbed into the German Empire, and Queen Flavia lives until the age of approximately 65 and dies before Fritz publishes his memoir in 1898 (though it would have been written no later than around 1870, if the events it relates to were in 1856). Likewise, in England, Lord Robert Burlesdon has recently died, perhaps in 1893, aged around 78, and Rudolf's manuscript published as part of his papers. The problems of the 'Imperial' beard and the 150 years of portraits can perhaps be explained away - the 'Imperial' style perhaps being known by that name when the manuscript of 'Zenda' was written in 1856, though the style itself predated the naming thereof; the portraits are those going back to the early 18th century, not necessarily those post-dating the birth of the 6th Earl in 1734.
The other possibility is a 'late' composition, close to the publication dates. In this case, on the other evidence, 1884 for the events of 'Hentzau' fits best with the interpretation of the 'century-and-a-half' and the 'five or six generations'. In this case, Ruritania is more likely to be in Austria-Hungary. This also fits more closely with the (circumstantial, but not negligible) information that later, an 'ex-King of Ruritania' worked as a doorman at Barribault's Hotel in London. Fritz's manuscript in particular shows no signs of revision - though it is written perhaps 14 years after the events it describes, there is nothing to suggest that it was subsequently re-worked in the perhaps 30 years it lay in drawer (if the early date is accepted). Queen Flavia is alive, and Fritz and Helga's youngest son is 10 years old. There is no dedication to the dead Queen, no suggestion that the manuscript derives from a preceeding epoch.
Added to the links at the side is a frankly brilliant site that generates calendars for historical years. It's been invaluable in finding out which years in the second half of the 19th century had Thursdays for the 16th of October. It probaby means all my newspapers will turn out to be very very wrong but so what? I just have to do them all again...
UPDATE: Also added a site I should have linked to long ago, called 'The Ruritanian Resistance' that is one of several around the web trying to get a handle on Ruritanian history and culture. A great site, even if I don't agree with all its conclusions. For instance, I don't think Black Michael's mother was Jewish, I suspect she was Slavic - I don't hold with the notion of a 'pure' German Ruritania, there are enough people called Nikolas, Stanislas, Ladislas, not to mention that fact that 'Strelsau' itself has a Slavic termination, to convince me that Ruritania must have had a least a minority Slavic population. Even so - great site, brillliantly researched and put together by people who love Ruritania!
Some shots of the new round of painting - my Old Glory 'Dwarf Britannia' British Dwarfs, with a Games Workshop 'Dwarf Adventurer' acting as a guide, and occasional heavy-weapons trooper at a guess, for the Combined Atlantean Rifle Brigade - I'm hoping to get these guys into action in some GASLIGHT games soon...