Monday, November 23, 2015

Dark Passage - the Anatomy of a Naval Scenario, Part 2

Háida Pakálan Pirates

Mu'ugalavyáni Raiders

Imperial Sailing Vessels

Princess Ma'ín Krüthái hiTlakotáni and Entourage

L-to-R: sailor, an aridáni hero, another hero, Shén body servant, 
sailor, the Princess, her pet Rényu, a second aridáni hero, sailor, 
a fourth hero and personal sorcerer. 

At "Fall In!", held on the 5-8th Nov, in Lancaster, PA, I had the opportunity to run the Dark Passage scenario. These pictures were taken by some of the participants and have been seen previously on the Tékumel facebook page.

The scenario was that the Princess Ma'ín Krüthái hiTlakotáni and entourage are sailing south down the Gulf of Perudáya in two vessels on a mission to the Southern Isles. The water is a dirty brown because of the immense amount of sediment that the mighty Mssúma river carries far out to sea. This sediment is deposited throughout the Gulf making navigation treacherous at times, especially at low tide when the sand bars are exposed. These can be tens of kilometers long just like those in the Thames estuary on present-day Earth.

The Gulf of Perudáya is top center. The horizontal 
hatching shows shallows and tidal sandbars.

 The scenario takes place somewhere a little north of the label for Lilsú Isle. It is morning and the two Imperial sailing vessels are sailing slowly south with the tide as it goes out, exposing more and more sandbars. It is a misty morning as is typical in the region and visibility is restricted, hence the slow speed. Unbeknown to the Imperial party, they are not the only ones on the water this morning. Also in the area are a large  Mu'ugalavyáni raiding galley and a  Háida Pakálan pirate ship.  Both would be very happy to take the Princess prisoner!

To make things even more interesting I added some of the vicious Hlutrgú to the mix. These are one of the nastier non-human races on Tékumel. The inhabit the enclave marked with the red border on the above map. They are in the habit of from time-to-time "spawning", that is taking to the seas in coracles made from human hides and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Of course, they "never spawn this time of year"... :-)

Lastly, there is a Tsolyáni naval galley rushing south to warn the Princess' escort of the danger from the spawn, which has been conveyed by frightened fishermen.

Here are the Cheat Sheets I used, that is to say, the rules...

There are a couple of additional items to these rules and there are one or two errors on the sheets, but otherwise this is pretty much what we used to play the game. I had chopsticks to measure the shorter distances, per the illustration on the left border of the first sheet. I picked up a package of 5 sets from a Hong Kong seller on ebay. Less than $5 with free shipping! Can't beat that! :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Inimitable Forces of Ancient Kái

Pijéna and the City of Kái

Pijéna is a small nation located to the South-west of Yán Kór. Its western border is with Mu’ugalavyá and Tsolyánu is directly south. To the North-west are is the mountainous home of the N’lüss, and Ghatón is just along the North-western coast. In other words it is a piss-poor little country wedged in between a lot of powerful or fierce neighbours.

Before the war with Yán Kór began, Baron Áld occupied the country and installed "advisors" to oversee things. The southern border shown on the map snippet (which comes from the Swords & Glory map) shows the situation after the war has begun and the Yán Koryáni forces have moved south and seized the Átkolel Heights from the Tsolyáni.

The Tékumel Project is slowly building up the forces of Tsolyánu and Baron Áld. Little Pijéna contributes two legions to the Baron's forces. That said, there are so many legions that need doing that the likelihood we will ever be able to offer specific figures for these legions is slim to none. There is just too much else that needs doing.

This leaves making do with Proxy Figures, something all Petal Heads are familiar with! :-)

Here then is my attempt to build one of the Pijéni legions: The Inimitable Forces of Ancient Kái
The following is taken from the Yán Koryáni army book:

The Inimitable Forces of Ancient Kái

Ochür: Rdésh Pré, High Priest of the Goddess in Kái

Based: Kái, a city in Pijéna

Arms: Heavy Infantry have small round shields, full armour, long pikes, short swords; Medium Infantry have half armour, tall conical helmets, large oval shields, barbed spears, swords, maces, or morningstars; Crossbowmen have light armour, heavy winch crossbows, short swords; Light infantry are mainly junior priests and priestesses armed with spears, axes, or clubs.

Strength: 2,500 Heavy Infantry, 2000 Medium Infantry, 2000 Crossbowmen, 6000 Light Infantry.

Stats follow...(omitted here).

Remarks: Another priestly legion, good considering its various elements.

The Heavy Infantry: For these I have decided to utilize some of the figures from the old Ral Partha Chaos Imperium range. The shields are those that come with our Ahoggyá. Following the usual method, I am using a figure ratio of 1:100, so the 2500 HI would yield 25 figures.

I am intending to base the figures in groups of six on 60mm x 40mm MDF bases, as shown below. At six to a base that means four bases gives me 24 figures, or 2400 men. But all that means the others are either ill or off somewhere else. :-)

Medium Infantry and Crossbows: I am still working out which figures to use for these. They will probably be more figures from the Chaos Imperium range. 

Light Infantry: There are 6000 of these, so 60 figures. They are divided half-and-half between those with long spears and those with melee weapons - axes and clubs being mentioned. They have neither armour nor shields for protection, and we know that they are "mostly junior priests and priestesses". Those with spears make me think of the DBM category Auxilia(X). In both cases I think they would be irregular troops, not really properly suited to fighting. That is to say, I doubt they have any maneuver skill but they might still be fierce in combat, being driven by religious fervour! 

The list says there are 3000 of each type. So that is 30 with spears and 30 with hand weapons. I would base skirmishers on single bases but these light infantry are not skirmishers so I will be using the 60 x 40 bases again. For the spears I will be mounting five figures to each of six bases to give the proper amount; I like to use even numbers for regulars and odd numbers for irregulars. For those with the hand weapons I will be mounting three figures on a base for a total of ten. 

For figures I decided to go with Wargames Foundry Spartans and Amazons, in both cases using the unarmoured nudes. To add women to the melee weapons group I am using some of Foundry's Elf Nymphs, many of whom are armed with a fierce looking war club. 

Edit: I just remembered that I didn't just use Spartans for the nude males. I also selected packs of Ancient Germans, Vikings and Greeks. 

Figures shown front and back...

As you can see I've mounted them on popsickle sticks with white glue. Hopefully I will be able to get them off without too much trouble when it comes time to mount them to their bases proper! The next phase is to clean them up a bit and prime them black. I also have to make some minor adjustments to the figures. I need to trim the elf ears on the Foundry Nymphs, for one. And some of the capes are more ragged than I would like. I also feel that I need to make the axe blades more exotic looking, like they belong on Tékumel! 

The back of the army book has a very sketchy chart that serves as a painting guide of sorts. It provides one line of information for each legion, listing helmet, body armour, shields, straps, cloaks and banner colours.

The line item for this legion shows:
Helmet: base colour - turquoise, plume - light blue, trim - green;
Body Armour: base colour - turquoise, kilt - light blue, trim - green;
Shield: base colour - turquoise, plume - light blue, trim - gold;
Straps: none given;
Cloaks: none given;
Banner: base colour - turquoise, plume - light blue, trim - gold.

This system may have worked after a fashion for the Tsolyáni army list where each legion was composed of a single troop type. It works less well for the forces of Yán Kór which are composed of many diverse elements within each unit. But it at least provides a starting point. :-)

One thing I am wondering is whether I should add plumes to the helmets of the heavy infantry, and perhaps even the lights. It might serve to make them even more suitable for Tékumel. 

I haven't painted in a big way for quite a long time so this will give me practice. And I have a new recipe for suitable flesh tone to try out, which I have from a fellow Petal Head: Mike Lung. :-)

Here are some of his figures in action:

"Bring on the Dancing Girls!"

A brief interlude...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Proxy Figures: SHQ Cultists as Véshgayal (Shunned Ones)

Cultist #1

Cultist #2

Cultist #3

Cultist #4

Cultist #5

Cultist #6

Cultist #7

Cultist #8

Cultist #9

Cultist #10

Back on October 9th I blogged on about some of the Best Kept Secrets in 28mm miniatures: SHQ Miniatures. Some of the miniatures I highlighted were their "Cultists", which they sell in two sets. At the time I was thinking only in terms of human cultists - Cthulhu types, Chaos Cultists, that sort of thing.

Yesterday I received an email from fellow "Petal Head", and customer, Mike Lung, who sent me this scan and asked what I thought about using them as Shunned One proxies. 

I think he is onto something!

This is a scan of part of the back cover of the Tékumel Source Book, literally the "bible" for Petal Heads. The figure upper right is of a typical Shunned One, presumably a soldier or guard. Thee are only a few illustrations of the Shunned Ones, called the Véshgayal by the Tsolyáni, or the Bláshagh in Yán Kór. All show the double joints in the arms though curiously this feature is never mentioned in any of the text descriptions. What is mentioned is that they are tall: 1.85 to 2.33 meters.

So that appears to be two strikes against these figures as proxies, despite looking generally pretty good. That said, it should be noted that while the figures are 28mm and in scale a match to our figures, some are not standing upright so one could easily imagine them being taller if they did straighten out. If you are the sort to be bothered by a small detail like that. 

The double jointed arms are a bit more problematic. There is an unfortunate tradition, however, that there are often inconsistencies between the art and the text in the printed materials. This usually occurs with regards to things like the number of eyes, as many of Tékumel's creatures have three eyes instead of two. It is not always clear which do and which don't and sometimes there are contradictions in the sources. Given this history one could dismiss the double jointed limbs in the art and adhere to the text which is silent on the matter.

For me this is the convenient route, and the best, as I would much rather pay retail for Shunned One proxies than go to the bother and expense of getting them sculpted! :-) That doesn't mean I won't ever get any made, just not in the near future. 

The next thing now is to consider the hound-like beasts the Shunned Ones employ. These are described in Flamesong, IIRC. Now I will have to start the search for proxies for them as well.

Correction: Some friends have pointed out that the reference is in chapter 3 of The Prince of Skulls, not Flamesong. :-)

I should mention that I have been working on a sort of "Lost Valley" scenario which incorporates both the Shunned Ones and the Lorún. That will require its own blog post though...

Some last notes:

1) The numbering on the figures above is my own, based upon the order I took the pics which was completely random.

2) The weapon types listed for the Shunned Ones is mostly pretty close. It also lists 2-handed swords which would be easy enough to make from #4 or #10 above. It does say they do not use slings, bows or crossbows, but rather prefer throwing darts which they use with atlatl-like spear throwers. Myself, I have no problem ignoring this, and perhaps converting some dart throwers if I feel the urge.