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The Saga of Symbaroum

The Saga of Symbaroum

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Faction - Ambrians - The Ordo Magicka

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
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One of the defining features of the Ambrians is their militaristic nature, something they had to adopt in order to survive and establish a new homeland.  That mindset has not dissipated as the Kingdom is now focused on consolidating its newly acquired homeland and also expanding it.  One of the facets of this is that things tend to be very nicely pigeon-holed;  you serve one of the institutions and no other and one of these organisations, and probably the most fun to paint, was the ordo magicka.

In the book, there are various pictures of wizards and sorcerors and broadly speaking they just look like normal people.  They’re certainly not the more stereotypical old man in a pointy hat.  In many ways they look like explorers as their primary purpose is the pursuit of knowledge.  Accordingly they are very outward facing as an organisation, even if there are still secrets and cliques and agendas within the organisation itself.  They will often be found accompanied by treasure hunters and mercenaries on exploration missions in the forest of Davokar, where the ancient ruins provide a near endless supply of lost knowledge and artefacts as well as rare and interesting flora and fauna.  All of this is within the purview of the order and there are certain faculties within the order dedicated to all kinds of magical research.

However the artwork associated with wizards in the book suffers from the same problem as everything else.  As beautiful as it is, its highly stylised nature presents a somewhat drab and washed out look, which I was keen to avoid in my miniatures.  It’s a bit like when we see portrayals of medieval and Dark Age Europe, they always get presented as quite dirty and dull, almost colourless whereas the historical research would paint a very different story.

For example, the Bayeux tapestry is full of colour, as are many of the paintings that we see from the era.  So I wanted to try and capture that in the order.  This would also mean that, when they are placed inside a warband that they would always stand and provide a nice spot of contrast against an otherwise uniform background.  One of the places I turned for this was the Amazon TV show The Wheel of Time, which I actually thought was unbelievably average and suffered from the same problems as most things coming out of Hollywood these days (too much focus on political signalling at the expense of good characters and story).  That said there is no question that it was visually stunning; for the most part it was incredibly well designed and realised and in particular the Aes Sedai, the order of sorceresses.  I did think that the “man bashing” element of this was too frequent and too obvious, however the way that it was designed as an institution and the machinations and agendas within it were excellent and quite engaging.  So I thought of the Aes Sedai when designing the colour schemes for the ordo magicka, although I decided to try and get a much healthier mix of male and female models so it felt more like a University and less like a radfem version of an Al Quaeda training camp.

When searching for models, I think all of these bar one come from Northstar, a mixture of Frostgrave, Rangers of Shadow Deep and their generic fantasy range.  They are the perfect scale for my project but they don’t look too “wizardy”, they look like normal people who know how to command magic.  The last model was from Bad Squiddo games and was received as a freebie when I placed an order with them for somthing else (so many thanks for that Annie).  She’s not shown on their website as a wizard but as an “academic” but that’s kind of the look I am going for, kind of like an archaeologist.  Then, I looked at colours and leaned quite heavily on the Wheel of Time for inspiration and opting for coloured “uniforms” for the different orders.  Obviously in game terms, whether it’s the Symbaroum RPG or whether it’s Saga, the colour of the uniform is purely to support the narrative.  I have to say I am really pleased with the results, especially seeing as these were all painted with contrast paint and brown wash, I think that’s testament to the quality of the miniatures to be honest.

When selecting senior figures for the order, I wanted to have both a master and a mistress of the order, one of each and strangely I found it much harder to find a male leader than female.  For the time being I am just using a Saruman the White model as a stand in but I am constantly on the look out for something better.  He sort of works as maybe a head of the order who is so old he’s been given a desk to sit behind, but he doesn’t really look like someone who is going to be leading from the front in major battles (to be fair, Ian McKellan didn’t create that impression either but he pulled it off as Gandalf in the Return of the King).  However by far my favourite model is the female leader model, the Mistress of the Order, who is from the Frostgrave range.  Unfortunately, while there are plenty of male wizards, I don’t think that any of them quite capture the look that I was going for quite like this lady.  I also love the fact that she’s an old woman, so many female miniatures portray young beautiful women but this one seems to stand out because it doesn’t.  She has very simple attire, she isn’t standing in a particularly imposing or threatening way, she has no weapons.  But I think the model has a sense of gravitas about it, she has a very stern look about her and a sense of confidence that suggests she brooks no nonsense.

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