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The Saga of Symbaroum

The Saga of Symbaroum

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Project Blog by onlyonepinman Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

I currently participate in an ongoing RPG campaign using the Symbaroum rules and setting. The game takes place over a single, long weekend of intense gaming once per year (Friday - Monday). One of my great passions (and a subject that I disagree quite strongly with Gerry on) is painting miniatures for RPGs - even if some of them don't actually get used. Because we only play a single weekend a year, I actually put a lot of effort into making it look visually stunning, as far as is possible because a good RPG setting and game can really fire my imagination and Symbaroum has done just that. However because of what the GM asked for, I realised earlier this year that I actually had the beginnings of some warbands that I could use with Saga, possibly using Age of Magic. This project will chart the "design" of the characters and faction within the world and the miniatures ranges I opted for to represent them. Following on from that I will then expand each of those RPG factions into a Saga faction, taking them from around 12-15 miniatures up to 30-40 miniature warbands.

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A Cast of Characters

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Skill 3
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If you don’t like using miniatures in RPGs, look away now…

There’s a few characters that have been requested for the next RPG session, although a couple of them will actually find their way into my Saga Warbands.

The first character is Captain Lindra of the Queen’s Rangers. Now, bear in mind because of spoilers I don’t know anything about these characters beyond a loose physical appearance. I know very little about who they are or what their motivations are. Captain Lindra, I was informed, is a large, gruff looking female and also a bit of a grizzled veteran. I was also asked to make her slightly more heavily Armoured than the rest of the rangers. This was a really hard miniature to find and I scoured every range of fantasy miniatures I could think of, although I deliberately avoided both Reaper and Dark Sword because the scale is not appropriate to the rest of the collection. Dark Sword are much closer to 32mm scale and Reaper are all over the place. But I looked at the Oathmark, Frostgrave, Bad Squiddo and many more that I simply can’t even remember. There didn’t seem to be any female miniatures that had the medieval look I wanted in that sort of middle ground of armour. They were all either unarmoured or lightly armoured rangers, full plate knights, classic era looking greeks or viking shield maidens. Eventually I ended up getting this from the most unexpected of places – Wargames Illustrated. She’s part of the Giants in Miniature range and she’s listed as “Female Warrior”, but from the webstore image, she’s quite clearly Brien of Tarth from the HBO Game of Thrones show. She has some sort of plate Armour on her upper torso but over the legs she only has her gambeson. With a little greenstuff I added a cloak and voila a captain for the Queen’s Rangers. Being a captain and a veteran it makes a certain amount if sense that she might have earned enough money to invest in some plating but that she wouldn’t go for a full suit of plate Armour for traipsing around the forest. I painted the model in similar colours to the rangers and opted to paint the armour plates in purple, similar to the Pansars’ (Queen’s Guards) breastplates but as with the rangers, I mixed a little brown into the base colour. The rest of the model is painted with the same colour palette of dull browns and a forest green cloak.

A Cast of Characters

The next on my list is Captain Marvello and I do have a little information about him. Formerly a captain in the Thistlehold Town Watch he has recently taken up a position in the Queen’s Army. How or why I don’t know but I do know that he wasn’t a particularly nice individual and was more than happy to leave more dangerous tasks to private citizens (i.e. us, the player party) rather than actively deal with problems himself. He’s a soldier though and needed a soldiers miniature. Rather than buying anything new, I used this which coincidentally is also from Wargames Illustrated’s Giants in Miniature range. I have had this sat around for several years and decided to use it for Symbaroum. The actual miniature is supposed to be Orlando Bloom’s character, Balian, from the film Kingdom of Heaven and the heavy, thick chainmail that he’s wearing along with the surcoat are just a perfect fit with what I am looking for in the Queen’s Army. Scale wise he is actually a tad large, especially stood next to some of the Footsore Miniatures, but I don’t really mind that. He’s a character model and sometimes a slight increase in the scale of the model actually helps to draw attention to them, a sort of manifestation of their larger personality/presence. This model will also work quite nicely as a dismounted warlord for the Saga army so it will have a longer term use.

A Cast of Characters

The next item on my list was “a female elf mystic”. Literally that was all I got. As is so often the case, fantasy Miniatures can be hard to find. If you do a search for things like “Elf Mystic” or “Elf Sorceror” the overwhelming majority of matches look like they’ve stumbled out of Age of Sigmar, D&D or World of Warcraft. They are very stylised and that’s really not what I was going for. Even the GW Middle Earth Range was quite limited, not least because quite often with the characters they come as a pack of three or you end up with one on foot and one mounted and you have to pay for a load of stuff you don’t really want. Also, I couldn’t find an elf that looked suitably “mystical”. I actually have the old metal Galadriel and Celeborn set that comes with the mirror, but I didn’t want to break into that set and repurpose a third of it, essentially making the rest useless. So I turned to my 3D printer for a solution. I found this, aptly called “Elven Witch” by The Printing Goes Ever On”. This is an interpretation of Galadriel as she responds to Frodo’s offer to give her the one ring, and I think the pose is perfect. She looks mystical and powerful in her posing, slightly elevated from the ground but also grounded and believable in her appearance wearing a simple dress with relatively little affectation added to it. To emphasise the levitation, I actually drilled a hole into the bottom of the model and pinned her to the base using roughly 1cm of brass rod. Colours wise I wanted to keep in theme with the rest of the Iron Pact, because again she will be used as part of that warband. In the RPG I believe she’s actually a leader but in Saga she might end up being relegated to a Sorcerer instead (because it doesn’t seem to easily facilitate Sorcerers also being your warlord). The main colours for the Iron pact are gold Armour with green and brown clothing, with the cloaks of the Hearthguard being a deep green. So I decided that green is going some kind of important colour to the Iron Pact, a mark of status or other significance so I gave her a green dress. I added some gold coloured trims to it, such as the belt and around the neck line and then to maintain the colour trio I gave her ted hair. I couldn’t resist blue glowing eyes to reinforce the idea that she’s currently in the middle of casting a spell that’s going to make someone’s day much worse than ot otherwise might have been. Unfortunately, I ran out of spray varnish and it would seem that my MicroFlat brush on varnish is not very flat at all and is, in fact, quite glossy… I may remedy that when I finally get hold of some varnish from somewhere as there seems to be a shortage around the local area right now.

A Cast of Characters

Finally I needed a Barbarian war leader, both for the RPG session but also Saga. This is the war leader for the northern confederation (Enoai, Gaoia and Godinja clans) and I have painted him in similar colours to the Godinja clan. I was asked for a Barbarian Leader with a 2 handed warhammer, but that was proving very difficult to find without going down the furry underpants barbarian route (and even then I would have had to 3D print one). So I used some creative license and found this guy with a two handed axe. Officially the model is Ariovistus, a Germanic warrior from ancient times, by Warlord Games so he’s from the right barbarian culture to go with the German/Dacian mix of the Godinja. I actually quite like this model, it’s got a certain sort of old school charm to it, being a single piece. It was a lot of fun to stick some paint on him although there are a few areas on the model (luckily they’re hard to see) where the model is a little messy.

A Cast of Characters

Godinja Clan Nobles (Hearthguard)

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Skill 4
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As well as the basic troops, I also had a command sprue, which allowed me to make 5 armoured nobles. These will likely be used as Hearthguard in the eventual warband. I really like these models, I just think they really tie the Godinja clan to the lore. I stuck with the same colour scheme as the rest of the troops, although I applied more of a uniform: brown trousers, green tops and gold undershirts. I also went with gold Armour, again mimicking the Elves although this armour is obviously nowhere near as splendid

As with the Gaoia nobles, I designed alternative shields using Tinkercad for the Godinja nobles. The basic shield was relatively simple to make, it’s just a hex shaped stretched and squashed to the right dimensions with some semi-spheres stuck on top for a shield boss. The designs were obtained from Thingiverse, literally just 3D tribal designs, which again I just shrunk, stretched and squashed to the right shape. I tried to find two different tribal shapes that compliment each other and then just arranged them on top of the shields. The designs aren’t necessarily Dacian or Germanic but then again, this is fantasy and I felt justified in taking the liberty here.

Godinja Clan Nobles (Hearthguard)
Godinja Clan Nobles (Hearthguard)

That’s pretty much all I have at the moment for the northern clans.  Initially these were bought for the RPG but I think I have definitely given myself a lot of food for thought.  The other exciting part about the northern clans is that they’re the ones most likely to have “fantasical” elements to them, being much people of the forest than their southern peers.  The Enoai capture poisonous spiders which the hurl their enemies, so there’s scope there to include spider swarms in the list.  The Gaoia are known to tame the rage trolls (semi-intelligent, human sized trolls) that inhabit the forest and use them as guards, so again, there’s scope for including those as a unit as well.  I definitely see the northern clans as a coalition army with elements of all three clans bolstered by some of the creatures of the dark Davokaar, the deepest part of the forest.  I think these will be the polar opposite of the Queen’s Army, who are suspicious of anything that comes out of the forest Davokaar.

In terms of army archetypes I am debating between The Horde (which seems designed for barbarian armies) or Lords of the Wild. Lords of the Wild allows me to field swarms as levies, which have some really cool special rules and really fit with the idea of the Barbarians throwing spiders at their opponents. It also allows for Levies to have Javelins, which are quite a thematic weapon type. On the other hand only the Hearthguard can field heavy weapons, meaning there will be less of the iconic Falx weapons knocking around. Conversely the Horde allows warriors to be armed with heavy weapons so I can field the Falxmen and also the Rage Trolls as warriors if I wanted. Currently I am undecided on this, and in theory there’s nothing really preventing me from choosing which one I want before each battle, but that’s not really how my mind works. I want to decide which archetype matches each army best and then develop the theme with the right models. Regardless of what happens, I likely need to expand the number of archers and slingers I have to either 8 (Lords of the Wild) or 12 (Horde) as the army is very light on those and I don’t have enough to make a full unit. Beyond that, it really depends on the archetype as the options for warriors and Hearthguard in the two are quite different.

The Godinja Clan (Warriors)

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The Godinja (I think it’s a soft J, because the makers are Swedish) Clan are the southern most of the three “northern clans”. However they’re still far enough away from the Ambrians that their influence has not really touched on them. The Godinja are renowned as craftsmen and in particular make fine jewelry and ornate masks that many barbarians treasure. They also claim Elven heritage and it is claimed that their current clan chief has Elvish blood in his veins.

To try and maintain consistency with the previous two clans (Enoai and Gaoia) I wanted another classical era civilization to use as an inspiration and also something I could source miniatures for relatively cheaply. Initially I started with some plastic Germanic tribesmen from Victrix. Aesthetically, before you apply any colour, they’re not dissimilar to the Gauls, the only real differences being the hairstyles and the shield shapes (although the shield bosses are pretty much the same style and shape). However it quickly became apparent that there wasn’t actually a great out there in terms of variety of miniatures. But I also happened upon the Dacians on the Victrix website. They had a similarity to the Germanic warriors about them and it turns out that it was not uncommon for Dacians to be found fighting alongside Germanic tribes against Rome. So I bought a sprue of Dacians off eBay and also one of the command sprues with the Armoured bodies. The Dacians also come with the Falx as well as shorter curved swords (or sica) which helps to separate them from their fellow northern tribes. Another interesting coincidence is that the general look of the falx is not a million miles away from the style of the middle earth Elvish swords which really helps bring some of the lore to life. It stands to reason that a clan claiming Elvish heritage might also indulge in some mimicry as well. Another thing that I like about the Dacians is the incredibly ornate helmets, again playing into that idea of the Godinja clan being artisans.

For painting I went with greens and golds this time, and I mixed a small amount of blue into the green to change the tone a little. I also used dark brown on some of the cloaks and trousers, it’s a nice neutral tone that just fades into the background without spoiling the contrast of the two primary colours. It also breaks up the over all look of the models and stops them being a mass of colour. Within the set of models there really are two extremes. On the one hand there are some rather sensibly dressed fellows, all wearing nice hats. At the other end of the spectrum there are some semi-naked, borderline feral looking individuals and I tried to maintain the colour scheme even in these weirdos.

The Godinja Clan (Warriors)
The Godinja Clan (Warriors)
The Godinja Clan (Warriors)
The Godinja Clan (Warriors)

Ambria - Queen's Rangers

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Skill 4
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The Rangers are an arm of the Ambrian military. Where the regular army is operated much like most medieval armies, the rangers are a small, entirely professional force. Although they fall under the command of the field marshall, they have their own hierarchy and structure, separate from the rest of the army. They recruit separately from the regular army and there’s no “blood” requirements for joining. You don’t need to be a noble or wealthy, you just need to be competent. The primary purpose of the rangers is to patrol the Queen’s highways around Ambria and also to patrol the forest of Davokaar. Entry into Davokaar is very strictly controlled by the Ambrians. To travel in the forest you must have a permit, to seek treasure you must have a different permit that allows you to remove artefacts from the forest. Ostensibly these permits are to try and prevent, or at least reduce the risk, of people bringing back dangerous artefacts or starting trouble with the Iron Pact. In reality they’re a way for the tax man to make some extra coin. The Rangers patrol the forest to ensure that travellers have the correct permits. In addition to this role, they also act as scouts for the army in times of war.

 

When I was looking for miniatures for this faction I had initially looked at the Rangers of Ithilien from Games Workshop (albeit with a different colour scheme). But the new boxes are sold in twenties and I didn’t really need 20 of them. I was looking around for something to use as an alternative and I found these from Medbury Miniatures, a digital model seller. These are outlaws but they are quite a good match for the rangers. I have only printed 6 for now, with a leader model on the way, because that’s all I need for the RPG.

 

Colour wise, I wanted them to still feel like they were part of the queen’s army, but obviously being Rangers they couldn’t be wearing the bright purple. I was also conscious of making them look too much like the Elves or the Yedessa barbarians (for which I am actually just using my Rohan models) by going with green and brown. So I experimented with a few mixes and I settled on using Hive Dweller Purple speed paint darkened with a bit if Dark Wood to produce a darker purple tone. I then used Sand Golem Speedpaint on the facemasks and the mantles they’re wearing over their necks and shoulders. Those two colours bear a resemblance to the main army with its purple background and golden lion coat of arms. The rest of the colours were then picked to suit the environment they operate in. They’re wearing Camo Green cloaks and their trousers and other garments are dark brown. I actually really like the final result, even though I think that the colours are bit of an odd combination (the purple and the green), they have a practicality about them. I think the fact that the purple was dulled down with brown actually helps make this work in a way that a full on bright purple probably wouldn’t have.

Ambria - Queen's Rangers

At the moment I don’t really know how these will fit into the Saga warband.  The Ambrian faction is without doubt best suited to the Great Kingdom archetype, the problem with that is only the Levy are allowed to be equipped with bows.  The Rangers are certainly not levy troops, they are warriors at a minimum and one could make an argument for them being a form of Hearthguard.  The Sapphire Elves warband could be used in a pinch, allowing warriors to be equipped with bows, however it also gives them special rules around magic that don’t really fit with the Queen’s Ranger.  I suspect that it would make more sense to turn the Rangers into a warband of their own, perhaps even using the Lords of the Wild as a template. There are a few companies out there making digital ranger miniatures as well as the Games Workshop plastic ones.  There’s also some really good cavalry options as well so I think it’s definitely a viable option for a Saga Warband, it’s just a case of trying to figure what archetype to use.

The Iron Pact Elves

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Skill 4
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The Iron Pact is an organisation, not exclusively but certainly predominantly, made up of Elves. Elves have a much longer lifespan than humans and thus their memories and cultural memories are much longer. The Elves remember the fall of the Empire of Symbar and it’s cause, or at least they claim to. They also claim memory of a pact between the human and the Elves in the wake of the collapse of the first empire whereby the humans granted dominion over the deep forest to the Elves and promised never to enter. They claim that the pact was sealed by the human rulers by gifting the Elf lord Eneàno six thousand rings of iron which is where they now draw their name. The Iron Pact feel that the humans, and in particular the Ambrian invaders, have reneged on that pact. They act overtly, attacking travellers, settlements and Barbarian holdings within the forest and also covertly via their diplomats, spies and agents in the Human settlements. They are viewed with great suspicion by the humans who oftentimes feel the Iron Pact leans far too heavily on events from a distant past that no human can remember and that the Elves could easily be twisting to their own ends if not fabricating the entire story.

As these are required in a little over 3 weeks, I have accelerated plans to paint some Elves.  The Elves of Symbaroum are a little different to the elves that we might recognise from many Tolkien-esque works of fiction.  Much like Tolkien Elves, they are incredibly long lived (although not necessarily immortal) but during that time the change, grow and evolve.  In an attempt to put the life of an Elf into terms the inhabitants of Symbaroum can understand, the Elvish life cycle has been likened to seasons.  Elves start as “Spring Elves” (or Faeries) during which they are, much like humans, juvenile growing to no more than 4′ tall.  They are playful, curious but also slightly ferral (The Ordo Magicka often likens them to kittens).  They are well known to play cruel (and often lethal) pranks on human travellers in the forest of Davokar and even their older relatives.  However Spring Elves are also cautious, almost never leaving the forest  and somewhat cruelly, if captured they can fetch a high price in Thistlehold.

After around 50 years, they then enter a period of hibernation, known as a dormancy, and those who awake from this transition into Summer Elves (or Elflings).  Growing to around 5′ 5″, Summer Elves are notoriously hot-headed and with a life of around 150 years, have a lot of time to train.  Notoriously aggressive, preferring to attack rather than defend, they are generally lightly armoured and favour the use of bows but if necessary they will fight with spears and other reach weapons.  Summer Elves are the backbone of the Iron Pact forces and are generally led by an Autumn elf.  However it is not uncommon for bands of Summer Elves to abandon the leadership of a more sensible elder and raid towns and villages outside of Davokar, rather than the more usual Iron Pact targets of forest outposts and settlers or trade caravans.

After around 150 years, Summer Elves enter a second dormancy which may last for up to 50 years, after which they become an Autumn Elf (this the Elf’s true, adult form).  Autumn Elves are much taller than humans, standing around 7′ tall.  They are much more even tempered than younger elves and are generally considered to be leaders and diplomats due to their age, wisdom and temperament.  The younger elves simply cannot be relied on to interact with the wider world without descending into violence.  An Autumn elf will live for around 400 years

Finally, there is the concept of a winter elf.  There have been no sightings of winter elves and the Iron Pact do not speak of such beings;  however rumours of their existence persist.  If they do exist, they would be beings of immense power and wisdom.

So for Saga, it is unlikely that there will be any need for Spring Elves, only the Summer and Autumn Elves.  Furthermore, it is unlikely I would need more than a single Autumn Elf to act as a leader.  I have, so far, opted to use almost exclusively Middle Earth SBG Elves for the Summer Elves.  The main reason for this are:

  • They’re the right scale
  • They’re relatively cheap
  • I have a selection already at home unpainted
  • They strike a perfect balance between looking grounded in reality and also looking suitably other worldy to be fantasy

In addition to the Elves I have in my collection, I have found a couple of 3D model makers who have lots of nice alternative Middle Earth Elves (Medbury Miniatures, Davale Games to name a couple) so I can flesh this out with new units and even cavalry in the future without having to rely on Games Workshop.

I have painted enough Elves now for a 5 point warband:

  • 8 Early Summer Elf Archers
  • 8 Early Summer Elves at Arms
  • 4 Late Summer Elf Archers
  • 4 Late Summer Elves at Arms (swordsmen)
  • 4 Late Summer Elves at Arms (spearmen)

Saga Age of Magic doesn’t really have set armies, it gives you archetypes and you can choose pretty much any archetype you wish for your army.  Obviously some archetypes are going to look a little strange used with certain miniatures but it really is down to the player what they want to use.  For the Iron Pact the Lords of the Wild archetype seems like a good match, however the Great Kingdom archetype also contains a Legendary Warband called the Sapphire Elves. This warband cannot take Levy units but their Hearthguard and Warriors may all be armed with bows so that is another possibility.

I decided to use gold for the armour to symbolise the Sun of summer and then use warm greens and browns for the clothing to tie them to the forest.  The warm colours also tie in nicely with the theme of Summer

Early Summer Elf ArchersEarly Summer Elf Archers
Early Summer Elves At ArmsEarly Summer Elves At Arms
Late Summer Elf ArchersLate Summer Elf Archers
Late summer Elves At ArmsLate summer Elves At Arms
Late Summer Elves At ArmsLate Summer Elves At Arms

I haven’t got an Autumn Elf Leader yet – I wasn’t asked by our GM to source one.  Which is good because I haven’t managed to find a model that I am happy with yet to represent one.  I have got an “Elven Witch” (I can’t believe it’s not Galadriel) that I could probably scale up a bit and use as an Autumn Elf, so I might do that.  But I would like to also have a more militaristic looking one too, so I can choose on any given day what my warband might look like and why they might be fighting

Enoai Clan Warriors

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
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While many clans are nomadic, the Enoai tend towards small settlements that they build in the roots and branches of the giant trees found in deep Davokaar. The seat of the current chief, Karona, is the village of Enovak which is a village of around 50 households all build on or under a single giant pine. The Enoai are also renowned as troll tamers and they often tame the fearsome Rage Trolls found in the forest and utilise them as guards.

For the Enoai I have decided to go for Dark Age Irish. The idea is to try and make the 3 most northern clans look the most like barbarians of Old without ending up looking too Roman/Greek. The Dark Age Irish actually fit quite nicely into that mold as Ireland remained relatively poor throughout the Dark Ages (and in many ways beyond that). The clothing and equipment looks similar enough to ancient Celts that you can imagine a shared culture but distinct enough to identify these as a sub-culture of their own. There’s also another interesting reason why Dark Age Irish are a good fit – dogs. There’s loads of models out there for wolf hounds and pack masters. While the Enoai don’t necessarily use hunting dogs, they do tame the Rage Trolls that live in the forest and use them as guards. So I can very much see a herd of Rage Trolls being coaxed into battle by a pack master. Rage Trolls are generally human sized, maybe slightly bigger, but with a much lower intellect and a much high constitution (likened in the lore to that of a bear). The downside to using the Dark Age Irish is that there simply aren’t many miniatures out there that look particularly “elite” from a fantasy perspective. So producing Hearthguard or even Wrathguard from the Enoai could be quite difficult. I am definitely open to suggestions though, if people think they know of some models, from any range (although 28mm historical scale is definitely preferable) please comment here and let me know. They don’t necessarily need to be Irish, but they do need to at least fit with the Aesthetic of Dark Age Irish. Or maybe I just accept that there won’t be any Enoai Hearthguard but instead they will help supply some of the heavier units in the form of their Trolls?

These particular Miniatures are from Wargames Atlantic, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Much like Victrix or Gripping Beast, you can really bulk out an army for very little cost while the built models are of a very high quality. Because the Enoai are a forest dwelling clan, even going so far as to build settlements in the branches or under the roots of giant trees I opted for more muted tones. I used lots of greens and browns here to try and create a feeling of the deep forest. Their shields are bronze/copper to compliment that. I also put some blue warpaint on their skin. I know it’s a bit ‘braveheart” but it’s a very easy effect to do, it really helps create that warlike, barbarian appearance and it’s another way that I can help link three otherwise disparate clans into a more cohesive army.

Enoai Clan Warriors

2022 Year In Review

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Skill 2
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While this didn’t start as my main target or project for 2022, I have devoted way more time to this that I predicted. Something about it just drew me in and the more I worked on it, the more excited I became about it. I think working on the Queen’s Army has helped because in many ways it’s a Bretonnian army by another name and I was always a huge fan of Bretonnia. But probably more fun was trying to give visual identities to the various Barbarian Clans and that’s a journey that really has only just started. While the basics of the clans are there, the fantasical elements certainly are not. This is absolutely a project that will continue into 2022, not least because at the moment I only have one army painted and I require at least 2 for a game. The world of Symbaroum is kind of pushing me towards that second army being a barbarian army and, in all probability, a “coalition” army of the northern clans. These are the clans that are probably most “backwards” in relation to Ambria but also the ones that have the most scope for including fantasy creatures such as Trolls and Giant Spiders.

 

I was also thrilled to see that I was mentioned as a runner up in the 2022 community awards. That actually brought me quite a lot of validation, not for the work itself because my own enjoyment of the hobby is all the validation I need. But it certainly validated the continued effort of maintaining the project, that my ideas are being seen and enjoyed by people and who knows perhaps even inspiring people? I had considered stopping posting updates in the project system, I have noticed that receiving a golden button seems to cut engagement with the project quite significantly as it is relegated lower down the landing page. This is something I have seen with nearly every project I have made that earned a Golden Button, the views and votes just tail off. However I guess I have at least a couple of dedicated followers so I shall continue to chart my journey and we shall see where it takes us.

 

A happy new year to all.

Ambria - Pansars (Hearthguard)

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Skill 4
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The Queen’s guard, formally known as the Pansars, only fight in the army of the Grand Duchy of Yndaros, the Queen’s personal fiefdom.  The Pansars are a highly trained and disciplined fighting unit equipped with the finest Armour and Weapons  Ambria can muster.  While all Duchies likely have access to soldiers so armed and equipped, only the Queen’s Army has what might be described as a regiment or an order of them and it is that organisation that makes them so deadly.  In most Duchies, the wealthiest nobles might purchase such equipment and take the field in small groups on an ad-hoc basis but the Queen has a regiment of several hundred at her disposal should she call on them.  While small numbers of them may be sent into battle alongside any part of the Queen’s army, when the Queen herself marches to war the whole order marches with and their combined might and strength of arms are a force few in Symbaroum can stand against, as the Barbarian clans have found many times to their cost.

For the Hearthguard I needed  heavier looking set of models than the knights that I already used as the warriors.  Bearing in mind this is Fantasy, not history, I decided to take some liberties and purchased some 14th century foot knights from 1st Corps Miniatures wearing full plate.  Plate Armour is available in the Symbaroum game but it’s uncommon and limited only to the wealthy so it makes sense that for the Hearthguard, the elite Warriors of Saga armies, to be equipped with such armour.  This is especially true in the Queen’s Army which is obviously armed and equipped by the most powerful noble, or rather royal, in Ambria.  To stop them looking like a shiny, metallic mess I opted to paint the breastplates in the Royal colour of white with a purple trim, the colour of the army.  In general I will be painting miniatures with any level of importance in white and purple, regular soldiers/knights in purple and the levy/conscripts in purple and gold. In a previous entry I have painted a model for the Queen herself (or rather her younger self) and she is clad in pure white with only a small purple trim. For the knights with hand weapons I also purchased a set of lion shields from FireForge games which was the closest match I could get to the Queen’s shield.

These two units are the last of the Infantry miniatures I currently have.  I am currently 3D printing a model I can use as a warlord which I got from Medbury Miniatures.  I could use the queen but I’m actually saving that as a gift for the GM of our Symbaroum game.  Plus I feel like Saga as a game doesn’t have the scale for the Queen herself to be leading the battle.  I also have a mounted priest and a mounted wizardess as well as a unit of mounted Hearthguard.  All in, I think that I can push the army to about 9 points using the Age of Magic rules which means I can play the large 6 point game variant and still have plenty of options

Faction - Barbarians - Witches

Tutoring 3
Skill 3
Idea 3
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A very quick update.  This guy was painted separately to the rest of the Gaoian models Because as one of the Barbarian witches, although he looks like the Gaoians (on account of him being a spare Miniatures from the Gallic Chariot set), I am doing a fairly standard colour scheme for the witches, much like I will with the Wrathguard.  The Witches will be wearing mostly neutral greys and browns rather than the colours of their native clan.  I have to say, he’s a very chonky model, easily 28mm heroic in size and possibly almost into the 32mm range.   He isn’t the only one either, I purchased a few models from Warlord games’ Hail Caesar range to act as, well, warlords for the northern barbarian clans army and the scale is all over the place.  Some match with this guy, others like dwarfs stood next to him.  Anyway, more on that when I get around to painting the war chiefs.  One other disappointing discovery is that Glistening Blood from The Army Painter is, well, pants.  It’s not even remotely the right shade of red.  I suspect that I might be switching back to Citadel for the special effects because, like the (exceedingly glossy) Army Painter washes, they’re just not as good as the citadel equivalent.  Speed Paints my choice over citadel because of the consistency and intensity of the pigmentation.  Washes and special effects not so much.

Faction - Barbarians - Witches

Faction - Barbarians - Wrathguard (Gaoia)

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments

Each of the eleven barbarian clans is expected to provide 9 of their warriors for the Guard of the Slumbering Wrath, the protectors of the holy site of Karvosti.  Karvosti itself is an interesting place, it’s the seat of the High King of the Barbarians, it’s the home of the Huldra, the leader of the Barbarian witches.  At the same time it’s also the site of a large temple to the Ambrian Sun deity, Prios staffed by members of the Ambrian clergy and defended by Prios Templars.  It’s a holy site for both Barbarian and Ambrian alike and is a  real melting pot of clashing cultures.  The Wrathguard are charged with defending the site and also keeping the peace.  This is the only picture I can find of a Wrathguard.

Faction - Barbarians - Wrathguard (Gaoia)

Unfortunately I couldn’t muster all 9 but this represents the Gaoian contingent of the Wrathguard.  Also, from a Saga perspective, 9 is not a useful number as everything is in multiples of 4.  These represent two potential units of Hearthguard.  With that in mind it’s worth pointing out that I don’t intend to do all 99 Wrathguard, some clans won’t appear in my collection at all.  I may do a couple more variants on this theme from each of the tribal groupings I identified but I absolutely won’t be doing each clan’s offering.  The Miniatures themselves are armoured gauls from Aventine Miniatures with shield swaps to my own 3D printed ones.  I also added some decorations to their helmets which were taken from the plastic Victrix sprues.  I think these actually work really well for the Wrathguard.  They look suitably heavily armoured and although technically they are wearing the same stuff as the nobles I painted for the regular force, I think they somehow appear more heavily armoured.  Perhaps it is the fact that half of them are wearing a solid breastplate rather than chain mail.  To try and keep the overall colour scheme dark I opted for a bronze coloured armour.  This also fits in well with the artwork for the Wrathguard as it has an overall brown look.  I used a deep red as a contrast colour on the cloaks and then used gold as a spot Colour on any decorative metal elements.

Faction - Barbarians - Wrathguard (Gaoia)

Flying the Flag of Ambria

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments

This has been sat on my desk for a few weeks. I made some banners using a Microsoft PowerPoint (yup, not Photoshop, power point is easier if all you want to do is basic shapes and clip art) and printed them a few weeks ago. However I got too excited by painting the barbarians it kind of just sat there. I decided I had better get them done before I lost the sheet with the banners. This is the first time I have tried to do this and although the results are ok, I think there’s probably a few things I might do differently next time. I’ll talk about those in a little while.

The basic method is to cut the banners out and then glue a square of tin foil to the back of one half of each one. Then cover the surface of one half of the banner with PVA glue, leaving the bit that goes around the flag pole free of glue; when I designed the banner I actually placed a narrow rectangle in the middle that would be the bit where it attaches to the flag pole. Fold the banner over and press the two sides together, being careful not to press the flag pole side (referred to as the hoist) together. When the glue has dried you can now roll and crease the flag to give it a more natural look, the tin foil will help it to retain its shape. For this I rolled it around the handle of a large paintbrush and then manually added a few bends a creases at the corner. When you are happy with the shape paint the flag with PVA glue (I actually use Matt Mod Podge for this), again avoiding the hoist, and then leave them to dry. Once the glue is dry the flag will be more rigid.

Ok, you will have to be very grown up about this next bit. No smutty jokes please, it was difficult enough to write this as it is.

What you should have now is a flag with a sort of paper tube at one edge (the bit that is hopefully completely free of glue) that you can just slide over the flagpole. For this I placed a small blob of PVA glue at the bottom aperture that way as you insert the flag pole, it will carry the glue with it and coat the pole, ensuring that the entire flag is glued. There’s an obvious limitation with PVA glue in that it takes a long time to dry, so to hold the flag in place I added a small dab of superglue to the top and bottom of the flag where the pole and flag meet which held the flags in place until the PVA glue dried. At this point you can also press the hoist edge of the flag together as this will also assist with adhesion.

Flying the Flag of Ambria

So, what would I do differently? Well, I found that after I glued the two halves of the flag together, it’s wasn’t as flexible as I would have liked. I have seen some videos on this and it might be because I used neat PVA glue, a recommendation is to use watered down glue instead. Or I could try curling the flags while the glue is still wet, although I suspect this might also cause the flag edges to de-align. I might also be tempted to glue the flags to the poles before coating them in PVA because that way if the banner doesn’t look quite right, I can still adjust it whilst it’s in position before finally adding the PVA to set it in position. That aside though, I’m actually quite happy with these and they really do add so much character to the army.

Faction - Barbarians - Gaoia

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
No Comments

The Gaoia are the most northern of the Barbarian Clans, at least those who owe allegiance to Karvosti, the seat of the High Chieftain and the Huldra (a coven of witches who act as an advisory, some may even say authority, capacity to the High Chieftain). The Gaoia live in what is referred to by the Ambrians as “Dark Davokaar” the part of the forest that is less travelled and explored and, being less populated, home to many more dangerous creatures. They are seldom seen, only rarely travelling south from their lands and they speak a dialect of the barbarian considered base and gutteral by the other clans. The exception to that rule is the Wrathguard, the warriors each clan is expected toa send to guard Karvosti and the High Chieftain. Despite the clan’s somewhat insular nature, they still maintain their obligation and ensure that the full complement is sent. But for most travellers, Ambrian and Barbarian alike, this is the only contact they will ever have with this clan. In battle, the Gaoia are known to utilise poisons and some of them also capture some of the many large and poisonous spiders and herd them towards and even throw them at their enemies.

Partly because I know our next RPG session will take place in the forest of Davokaar, the home of several barbarian clans, and Karvosti, a sort of defacto “capital” for the clans (although it’s more of a sacred site than a city), I am painting up some Barbarians and fleshing out the world beyond the lands of Ambria. I think it’s here where the Symbaroum setting really starts to grow and shine.  Several of the barbarian tribes have names that are not a million miles away from the latinized names for the Celtic and Germanic tribes in the way they sound, especially those towards the north of the map and so that set me down a path.  Rather than approach the barbarians in the trad fantasy sense of musclebound hunks in fur underpants or deranged beserkers foaming at the mouth or high on some kind of hallucinogenic mushroom, I wanted to represent the barbarian clans as cultures within their own right.  While the Ambrians may consider them “backwards” they are by no mean primitive or unintelligent.  They may not be as societally or technologically advanced as the Ambrians but they are each a vibrant society with cultures and traditions of their own, although the influence of the Ambrians is spreading among some of the clans (very much by Ambrian design) and it’s starting to change the look and feel of the clans.  However, the tribes in the north are closest to their traditions and roots with the least contact with and thus influence from Ambria so it makes sense to give them an appearance that looks older and for this I have gone with Classical period Celts for the Gaoia (a theme I will continue with the other northern clans). I think this definitely makes a nice change from the typical Conan-esque portrayal of barbarians and it also leans into the historical roots of the word, which was essentially the Roman way of describing certain “uncivilised” foreigners.  However the Celts and Gauls were far from uncivilised, they had a vibrant culture and created many beautiful works in metal.  What they essentially lacked compared to their Roman contemporaries was a strong societal order and central government that enabled the creation and maintenance of large bodies of professional soldiers and the Military innovation that goes with it.

Getting the models was relatively easy – I purchased a couple of sprues of Victrix Celtic Warriors, including a command sprue and also a chariot. I doubt that the Chariot with feature in the RPG however I am planning now to make an army based on a coalition of the northern tribes and it will be most useful for that. I also have some Germans/Dacians which I am going to use for one of the other tribes and I stole a couple if weapons off them for these, equipping a couple of models with a Falx and another couple with bows.  The inclusion of the Falx may not be historically accurate but this is, I feel, an example of how you can use historical Miniatures to make believable and relatable fantasy miniatures with very little effort. It also means, when I come to do the next tribe they will also be armed with Falx and it creates some common themes between them

To paint them, I am using almost entirely speed paints and having dabbled with the slapchop method and being reasonably happy with the results, I decided this would be a good test of that method at scale. All in all, it took me two evenings to paint all 10 of the miniatures, although the first evening was mostly preparation – priming and drybrushing – and I reckon I could probably have doubled that number if I’d had more to paint. I designed them using a simple palette of 3 colours, each Miniature would be painted with a combination of two of the three colours likewise the shields. I also stuck to ginger and blonde for hair colours and deliberately tried to thin the flesh tone to make it quite pale. The final step was picking out details with bits of gold and silver and then adding some very thin turquoise body paint.

Obviously these aren’t going to win any awards but the shading and highlights that you get from Slapchop are really pronounced and when you view them from distance, they look really good.  Combine that with the quick basing glue and base mixes (I use Geek Gaming but you can make your own) and I think this is a great method for getting large volumes of average painted Miniatures to the table in next to no time – and that is a very useful thing indeed

I spent another evening painting the 4 nobles (basically the command sprue and the Boudecia model from the chariot). I put a little more effort in here because I wanted the armour to be metallic. I also had to delay painting these because I upgraded the shields. The shields were created on Tinkercad by “lifting” a Celtic design from something else and combining it with a couple of basic shaped to create oval shields.

After printing I was really, really pleased with these. The details are a bit fine in some places and I probably need to increase the depth of the designs by a few fractions of a millimetre to compensate but overall they are a nice upgrade to the models that help further set them apart from the other soldiers. And in terms of the detail itself, I have purchased 3d printed shields with similar designs in the past and they were no different, so my own efforts are at least as good as the ones I purchased on ebay.

To paint the nobles I also stuck to the same simple colour palette of red, blue and green so it’s very easy to see they are the same tribe. I was particularly happy with the way the Boudecia model turned out.

All in all, 3 evenings of effort went into these and I think overall the quality of them is a more than acceptable trade been quality and speed.  15 miniatures could have easily been 20+ Miniatures in almost the same time.  If you apply that to something like Kings of War, that’s a standard regiment; for Saga that’s 1 point of Levy or 3 points of Hearthguard.  It’s not going to take very long to paint armies this way and they will look reasonably good

 

 

Faction - Ambria - Queen's Army Warriors 2

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments

Only a small update, more for completeness than anything else.  I took a break from painting Infinity Miniatures, which I feel like I have been doing forever, and painted up another unit of warriors for the Queen’s Army.  They’re essentially the same as the first group although these are all from Footsore’s Baron’s War range.  Apart from the guy charging with a spear, he was a freebie I got from Footsore when I placed an order over £10.  Lucky I had him because otherwise I would have been left one model short of a unit …

Faction - Ambria - Queen's Army Warriors 2

I did experience a major failure of the spray varnish I used for these.  It mister over big time.  I absolutely hate the acrylic varnish sprays, they’re so temperamental.  Even the slightest hint if moisture in the air and they fog up something rotten – not great when you live in the North West of England.  I would use one of the lacquer options out there, something like Mr Hobby Superclear, but they’re really expensive (same price as a Colour Forge can with about 1/3 the amount).  However I have found a workaround to the problem of varnish misting over.  Let it dry off and then take some cooking oil and paint it over the model.  You don’t have to be particularly neat but I would recommend going with as thin a coat as possible because it does take a while for it to dry off (and yes, it does dry off, it’s exactly the same as sealing a cast iron pan).  If you have gone a little heavy with it, take a cotton bud (q-tip) and dab the excess off.  The result might leave your model with a slight shine to them, but Satin Varnish would do that anyway

Faction - Ambria - Queens Army Warriors

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
No Comments

With the lower classes (Levy and Light Cavalry) out of the way it’s time to start looking at the professional soldiers, the standing army that has given Ambria such an advantage over the barbarian clans they have displaced. There’s nothing specific about the army in the Symbaroum books, not in any great detail.  But using the principles of Saga with its three tier system, these are the middle tier unit type called “warriors”.  They are professional soldiers and would likely be knights; second or third sons of noble or wealthy families.  Service in the army offers an opportunity for them to make a name for themselves that they would not likely get from their family.  They are wealthy enough to have decent equipment and spend a reasonable amount of time training.  In the world of Symbaroum, plate armour does exist however it isn’t really described as being ubiquitous and it’s still incredibly expensive to buy. Most armours are portrayed as flexible armour rather than rigid, armour like chain, scale or lamellar. Thus it would seem unlikely that for the main army, plate armour would be the norm although it may be used for elite troops and leaders.  So I have gone for chainmail armoured knights, again a mixture of Footsore and 1st Corps for the “Warriors” troop type.  These are the middle tier of soldier so obviously for the HearthGuard, the elite soldiers, I will need something a little better.  However the 12th – 13th century look is absolutely perfect for the soldiers.

When I looked in my collection I already had a few foot knights from Barons War more than enough to make a single unit but not enough for two.  So I topped them up, again, with Miniatures from 1st corps as well as buying a second command group so both units would have a banner.  Again, for scale comparison purposes, just in case anyone is interested, I have placed a 1st Corps Miniature on the left in the photo below, the rest are footsore.  The 1st corps looks slightly bigger but I think some of that is also down to the fact that the metal tab that they come mounted on is slightly thicker.  However, regardless of why it’s slightly taller, the difference is not so large that it looks weird and out of place.  They’re a very good match.

These troops also represent the first time I have painted a full unit of anything using paints other than citadel.  I recently switched to army Painter but have also picked up a few Vallejo paints as well.  I can’t say that I regret the decision.  I never actually had any problem with Citadel Paint, but I was absolutely sick of the pots clogging up, not closing and drying the contents out.  I can get to element games as easily as a GW store and they’re open 7 days a week.  That basically ended the “convenience” factor that had kept me with citadel for so long.

As well as new paint range, they’re the first unit in the army that I didn’t paint using speed paints.  The reason I opted to go with regular acrylic paints for these is that I wanted them to look brighter and cleaner than their peasant counter parts.  These are professional men-at-arms, their full time job is soldiering so it stands to reason they would have better kit and more time to look after it.  And of course being the Queen’s Army, not looking like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards is probably also very high on the agenda.   Also, it wasn’t really practical to go with speed paints because there’s so much metal on most of these, which made a Black undercoat preferable. If I have to go and pick out the cloth areas in white before painting the speed paint on, it would be almost as quick to paint the purple base coat and add some highlights anyway.  And finally, I actually enjoy painting, Speed Paints are a means to an end, actually sitting down and painting is a joy.  So there.  The finishing touches were some shield transfers, which are old Bretonnian transfers I have lying around, and a base ready mix from Geek Gaming.  At some point (i.e. when they arrive) I will be adding a few tufts as well.

On the subject of tufts, if people are looking for a reasonably priced supply of basing materials, look at a company called Serious Play.  They do a HUGE range if grass tufts and flower tufts in all sorts of colours and, more importantly, they are dirt cheap.  Delivery is sometimes a little slow (a week or so) but then, I remember a time when Amazon Prime wasn’t a thing and things always took that long to arrive so it doesn’t really bother me.

Faction - Ambria - Queens Army Warriors

Faction - Ambria - Queens Army Light Cavalry

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
No Comments

There are three tiers of troops in Saga, Levy, Warriors and Hearthguard.  In the Great Kingdoms faction archetype from Age of Magic warriors and Hearthguard can be mounted.  To represent mounted warriors I decided to go with mounted sergeants and light cavalry.  These have a similar appearance to the Levy, which is why I chose them.  Another of the features of Ambrian culture, as well as it’s militarism is its materialism.  All Ambrians purse “more” and/or “better”.  Whether that’s land, lifestyle or belongings, they are always looking to improve or increase what they have.  So having some light cavalry that is similar in appearance to the levy represents Ambrian commoners who have earned a little more wealth, enough to perhaps buy a horse and some better armour.  Like other warriors, a full unit requires 8 models but they won’t all fit in the photo booth.

To get the 8 models required for a unit, I started with 4 mounted Sergeants from the Barons War range by Footsore.  Now, I could have just bought another 4 and been done with it but as much as I absolutely love Footsore Miniatures, they are mono-pose and they only have 4 variants so I would have been buying the same Miniatures again, I didn’t really want any duplicates as it would be difficult to disguise them with colour scheme alone.  So I instead turned to 1st Corps and bought some of their early medieval knights, which can be made to look like sergeants by selecting different head options.  You also get a selection of weapons to arm them with including falchion, maces, flails, axes and swords.  Needless to say I’m now a big fan of 1st corps and I will likely be using them again in the future – I have already started eyeing up conversion bits to use on some of my barbarian forces.  I think 1st corps also scale really well with the Footsore Miniatures, which do tend towards the smaller end of the 28mm scale (unless you bought the Mortal Gods Argonauts, which a fahooking massive).  The Miniature at the front in the image below is from 1st Corps, the other three are Footsore so you can see the comparison.  The 1st corps are ever so slightly bigger, but that’s more to do with the horses than anything else.  I bought some foot knights as well (coming in a future article) and they’re virtually indistinguishable from the footsore ones in terms of height.  In addition, as a leader model, I have selected the Dante miniature from the Wargames Illustrated Giants In Miniature range, but that will have an article of its own.

These were an experiment in using the new Army Painter speedpaints.  The results were quite good, I think, although I did get a lot of reactivation, especially when trying to put a brown wash over them – I had to varnish them before adding the wash.

Faction - Ambria - Queens Army Light Cavalry

Faction - Ambria - Queens Army Levy

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 7
2 Comments

The first army I will be working on will be the Queen’s Army, turning a collection of Barons War stuff into the mainstay of the Ambrian Army.  This is the first step of taking what was a small collection of Miniatures for an RPG into one of several Saga Warbands.  I am not aiming for a specific points limit, my plan is to expand in 1 point blocks (12 Levy, 8 Warriors, 4 HearthGuard) or perhaps 2, depending on how many troops I would need to paint.  Eventually I want to have the flexibility to build 4-6 point warbands and have options available, which means painting more than 6 blocks of troops.

Because I was closest to having full troop blocks for Levy, I decided to convert the soldiers I already had into Levy.  They’re a great match for levy, being lightly Armoured Sergeants.  Although I had 12 available, and it is possible to buy split a block of 12 Levy in 3 blocks of 4, I opted to buy an extra couple of sets of Crossbowmen from Footsore, giving me 12 – a full, one point unit.  That left me with 8 spearmen and rather than buy another 4, I bought a command pack from Crusader Miniatures which again bumped the number up to 12 – another full, one point unit.  Even though the Queen’s Army is supposed to be a very well disciplined fighting force, it stands to reason that they would still rely on Levy troops to swell their numbers as many historical Armies often did.  And having them appear as sergeants, rather than peasant rabble, fits with the militaristic nature of the Ambrians; the Levy aren’t mere peasants, they are still soldiers with a level of training and discipline but somewhat lack the equipment and armour of the professional soldiers.

At some point I will be making banners but I will wait until I know how many I need before printing them out.  I reckon I will likely need 3-4 as not every unit will have a flag. HearthGuard for example only have 4 Miniatures and I don’t really want to drop that by converting one into a banner bearer.  I might also get a mounted banner bearer and use it as a lieutenant/captain in the army, which takes the place of half a unit’s worth of soldiers (i.e. sacrifice 6 levy, 4 warriors or 2 HearthGuard)

Faction - Ambrians - The Ordo Magicka

Tutoring 9
Skill 9
Idea 9
No Comments

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.

Faction - Ambrians - The Curia

Tutoring 10
Skill 10
Idea 10
4 Comments

The Curia has three distcint branches;  the Clergy, the Templars and the Inquisition.  As I was already going down the medieval route, it seemed only natural to look for historical comparisons for this faction.  The best analogy to the Curia of the Church of Prios is the Roman Catholic church, even in so far as being Monotheistic (although they do accept other Gods exist, they just don’t worship them and consider Prios to be Superior).  The colours in the the artwork are predominantly red and gold, also colours that are very common among Christian priests, particularly Catholic and Orthodox.

The Clergy

I started out looking at the Clergy and it was surprisingly easy to get what I needed, although I had to source from several manufacturers.  Even finding some females to add to the mix wasn’t overly difficult as there were a couple of wizards in the Frostgrave range that I thought looked perfect for priestesses.  So in the end I had miniatures from Frostgrave, Perry Miniatures and V&V miniatures.  Do I need 7 priests?  Possibly not. Is it nice to have them?  Absolutely.  Although if I ever build a full Ambrian army (it’s definely more than an idle thought) it will be nice to just dot them throughout the army so they may have a use.

I tried to go with a set palette of colours, mostly red, gold and beige across the whole set.  They were all contrast painted and brown washed at the end.  The exception being the two characters who I am calling the Cardinal and the Abess, for want of any better titles.  These were painted using traditional methods but sticking to a similar colour palette

The Templars.

The Templars were the easiest to find models for as there are a good selection of crusader miniatures available already from companies like 1st Corps, Crusader Miniatures and a small selection from Baron’s War.  Because I was already putting an order in I went with Baron’s War miniatures, however I have also marked Templars as a possible Age of Magic warband so this might expand in the future.  The upcoming Baron’s War Outremer kickstarer could be a fantastic source of miniatures for that, but that’s a future article.  While most of the miniatures are Baron’s War miniatures, only 4 of them were officially “Templars”, I added a couple of footknights in there and swapped out the shields for some with embossed sunbursts.  I also had a spare miniature from the Wargames Illustrated Giants in Miniature range that seemed to fit perfectly so painted him up as well.  To lead them, I then took a Bishop miniature from the Baron’s war range as I thought that stand out a bit from the rest of the troops

When choosing a colour scheme I tried to follow the same colours as the  priests but I wanted them to look a little more battle hardened and worn.  So I used a deeper shade of red and for the most part did away with the brighter red and gold.  The resulting colour scheme matches the character of Benedictus quite well and isn’t a million miles away from the livery used by Balien of Ibelin in Kingdom of heaven.

The Inquisitors

The last faction was the Black Cloaks, the Inquisitors.  These were a bit harder to design because there isn’t really much to go off in the book in terms of artwork.  The only unifying feature seems to be that they all wear a Black Cloak, hence their nickname.  I decided to throw in a mixture of different model types here, some that looked like monks and some that looked more like warrior-priests and the only place I could really get what I wanted was Baron’s War, although I did deliberate over some similar models from Gripping Beast.  Ultimately I did buy the faction leader from Gripping Beast.  I have looked through Saga Age of Magic and there’s a really cool unit type in the Great Kingdoms army archetype call religious zealots so I think in future these might form part of the Tempar army where they will be my religious zealouts unit

Faction - Ambians - The Nobility & Military

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Ahead of our last gaming weekend I was asked to provide miniatures for various sub-factions within Ambrian society – notably Priests, Inquisitors, Templars, Queen’s Army and the Ordo Magicka.  Knowing that this would be a long term campaign I had decided that I might go beyond that and try and get most of the major Ambrian factions represented in miniature, at least those who would be likely to be seen in a fight.  My aim was to try and stick to 28mm “true” scale where possible because I think they do the artwork more justice, and this means a lot of the miniatures can be drawn from historical miniatures ranges.  I also happen to prefer the more realistic proportions and of course they do tend to be a bit (or a lot) cheaper than their heroically scaled counterparts.

This article will focus on the miniatures and colours I chose for the military factions, which fall into three categories.

  • Queen’s Army
  • Queen’s Rangers
  • Local Military

Based on the artwork in the books I get a very medieval vibe from the Ambrians, and to be more specific a more early-mid medieval.  However, contrary to much of the artwork the more well equipped units within Ambria are known for wearing plate armour, which pushes them more towards the latter part of the medieval era.  However the great thing about fantasy games is that you can, to a degree, get away with mixing and matching from different eras of history, especially if you select periods in history that are relatively close together.

Queen’s Army

Starting with the Queen’s army, which are the largest and best equipped fighting force, I have gone with a pure medieval look and got hold of some Baron’s War sergeants.  The reason I went for sergeants, as the lowest level of the soldiery, is mostly because I liked the Kettle Helms.  However I also wanted to keep some of the down to earth feel and not intriduce elit units like knights too early in the campaign.  I did paint a single knight to use as a faction leader though.  However the plan is to add additional models in the future to represent better trained and equipped units.  I have to say the Baron’s War range has provided me with a lot of ideas of where I want to go with the Ambrian faction, I am sure there will be some historical wargaming enthusiasts will be thrilled to see this act of wanton desecration.  However from my perspective, although I am not actually going into historical detail, there is still an amount of research involved in looking at different periods of history to try and create themes throughout this project that while they may not look entirely consistent with each other at least look like they could plausibly co-exist.

Because these are, for the most part, just grunts, they were treated to the Contrast Paint treatment with a brown wash at the end to mute the colours and hide any mistakes.  They were based using the ready base mixes from Geek Gaming Scenics and I turned these around in a couple of evenings, plus an extra night when I did the transfers (which are actually from the old Bretonnian knights box).  Despite the speedy work, I think they will look absolutely fine on the table top.  The champion model wasn’t contrast painted, I actually spent a couple of hours painting him on his own just because he’s the model people are most likely to look at so it’s worth spending a bit of extra time on him.  But the basing technique was exactly the same, a pre-made base mixture.

Thistlehold Militia

Thistlehold is a large, walled town on the edge of the forest of Davokaar ruled by Mayor Lasifor Nightpitch.  Lasifor is an exceedingly wealthy and powerful man, who earned a Queen’s reward for saving the life of the Queen Mother following a poisoning attempt.  With that reward he was also made a Prince of the Realm, granting him the rights and privileges of a Duke but only within a single town or City and he used his newfound wealth to found Thistle Hold.  It is the main staging ground for almost all people venturing into Davokaar and as such has grown rich and powerful beyond it’s small size.  Here you will find merchant caravans, religious and diplomatic missions, adventures and treasure seekers all heading to or from Davokaar.  There is busy trade within the town with buyers for almost any kind of goods from the forest; herbs, animal parts, ancient ornaments or artifacts, if you can find it in the forest, someone in Thistle Hold will likely buy it.  The Curia and the Ordo Magicka both maintain strong presences is the Town although the defence of the town falls to the Thistle Hold Watch, a body of 150 soldiers funded directly by the Mayor of the town Lasifor Nightpitch.

Rather than painting the armour in silver, I decide to paint it in greens and browns but give it a silver dry brush at the end, just to catch some of the edges.  I was trying to make what is obviously plate look more like Brigandine with green and brown material covering.  I’m not 100% certain I managed to achieve that, however I do think that it at least doesn’t look like full metal armour and I can live with that.  To lead them I borrowed another miniature from the Baron’s War miniatures that I already owned from a kickstarter, although at some point I might decide to buy a Gondorian character from the Middle Earth range.  It’s not really high priority though as I don’t see any real use for them in the long term; they served a purpose within an RPG session but I probably won’t expand them into their own Saga Warband.  But who knows, never say never and there are plenty of 3rd Party miniatures in the 3D printing market that could be used to take this in a slightly different direction from than Gondor.

Faction - Ambians - The Nobility & Military

Local Military

The last branch of the military is the local soldiery.  I didn’t want to spend too much time or money on these as once again, they may not ever get used.  So I purchased a couple of sprues of the Perry Agincourt foot knights from ebay, swapped a couple of the shields out used them.  Because of the tunics and tabards, it hides quite a lot of the armour making it slight more ambiguous as to what they’re wearing.  Obviously they’re wearing either plate or brigandine but I think with the right paint job it they can be as heavily or lightly armoured as they need to be for the story

Faction - Ambians - The Nobility & Military

Background - Barbarians

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The Barbarians are a collection of clans who inhabited the lands north of the Titans prior to the arrival of the Ambrians.  For the 200 years since the destruction of the city of Lindaros, which acted as a centre of government and civilisation in the region, the clans warred with one another.   Historically there were 13 clans however the first act of the Ambrians, essentially announcing their arrival, was to reduce that to 12 with the subjugation of the Kazid clans and their integration into Ambrian society.  That 12 has since been reduced to 11 following a brief war with the Jezora clans which saw them destroyed.  There are rumours of a 12th clan – a beast clan – but there are no confirmed accounts of their existence by the Ambrians.

Each of the Barbarian clans is culturally and visually distinct and they all have very different views and attitudes to each other and towards Ambrians.  Generally speaking the southern clans who have had the most exposure to the Ambrians have more relaxed and friendly attitudes towards them.  They will often trade with and help the Ambrians on occasion.  The more northern clans on the other hand tend to be much more hostile towards the invading southerners.  This is an arrangement that suits the Ambrians well as it prevents the Barbarians from uniting against them, especially as their arrival has caused the clans to live more harmoniously than in the past.

Geographically, there are also two main areas that the barbarians inhabit – the Forest of Davokar and the plains to the west.

Background - Barbarians

Although it’s hard to see on the map, you can see the names of some of the clans on the map – yellow in the forest and red on the plains.  The clans exist in a sort of two axis arrangement around the compass, being either planes peaple (west) or a forest people (east) and also being either northern or southern.

Western Clans

There are only two tribes on the planes to the west, the Saar-Khan in the north and the Varakko in the south.  As mentioned already clans, the Saar Khan in the north are much more insular than their southern Varakko neighbours and are considered savage even by the standards of the North.  They are exceedingly hostile to Ambrians as they proclaim themselves to be the heirs to Symbaroum.  Their main settlement is a fortress in the far north where they worship some form of Beast god.  A few times a year they send warriors to raid other Barbarian settlements although these raids are denied by the clan chief as rogue elements within the clan.  The Varakko are more nomadic and travel the plains in large convoys, trading with the Ambrian settlements who border their lands to the south.  They are also subjected far more than the other clans to the raids of the Saar Khan.  They have a strong relationship with the Ambrians and the Duke of New Berengoria allows them to freely travel the lands on the Ambrian side of the border to avoid the raids of the Saar Khan.

Northern Forest Clans

There are 4 tribes occupying the northern parts of Davokar, the Gaoia, the Enoai, the Godinja, and the Yedesa.  As with the planes tribes the most northern of these, the Gaoia are considered to be the most brutal and promitive of the clans.  They are rumoured to be aligned with a great Lyndworm and as a people they rarely venture outside their lands and so are not often seen in the south.  Apart from the Wrathguard warriors whom they send to guard the city of Karvosti in the South.  The Enoai are a tree dwelling people who prefer to keep to the depths of the forest, making their homes among the roots or high in the branches of ancient, giant trees.  The Goeds of the Godinja are artisans and craft many of the masks that the Barbarian clans are often seen wearing.  They also claim to be descended from the ancient rulers of Symbaroum (although they don’t claim to be its rulers).  However the other clans are quick to point out that up until a few generations ago the Goeds were very closely related to the Elves of Davokar and their chieftain, Vikomar, has Elf blood running through his veins.  The Yedesa are probably the most civilised of all of the Barbarian tribes, having given up any pretence of being nomadic favouring permanent settlements.  This has given rise to a certain amount of dominance by the clan, 6 of the last 10 high chieftains have been from the Yedesa and their chieftain Leonod’s stone fortress is among the most impressive Barbarian structures.

Southern Clans

Finally there are the southern clans, occupying the southern regions of Davokar and mostly sharing a border with the Ambrians.  Starting in the East, clan Zarek is probably the most hospitable to the Ambrians.  In part , this is likely due to the trade they have with the Ambrians.  However it is no secret that the Zareks assisted the Ambrians in defeating clan Jezora and their chief Haldobar with whom Monovar, chief of the Zarek had a blood feud.  The Baiaga are a clan that is somewhere between a northern and a southern clan, but their somewhat peaceful attitude towards Ambria put them, for me at least, in the southern list.  They are renowned for fighting alongside their tame Bear beasts called Baiagorns.  Generally the wander the forests hunting or fish in the great lake but for reasons unknown, many Baiags choose to leave their home land for periods of time and they are often seen in Thistlehold as well as the Barbarian capital Karvosti.  The Odavs of clan Odaiova inhabit the land between Karvosti and Thistlehold meaning that all of the major trade routes between the Barbarian capital city and the treasure rich Ambrian settlement pass through their lands.  Not only do the Odavs tolerate the Ambrians but they actively capitalise on it, openly trading with them and acting as intermediaries between Ambrians and Barbarians.  The Karits of clan Karohar, unlike the other southern clans, are warlike and openly hostile towards the Ambrians.  There may be several reasons for this, the recent destruction of neighbouring clans (first Kazid and the Jezora) or the fact that Ambrian treasure hunters constantly invade their lands, disturbing the ancient ruins and attracting the attention of the elves (who consider themselves guardians of the ancient places – we will visit the Elves in a future article).  Finally there’s the Vajvod, in the south eastern reaches of Davokar on the edge of the Raven mountains.  The Vajvod are very relaxed about the Ambrian presence, so much so that there are several Ambrian footholds in the region, including a base for the Queen’s rangers

 

In terms of artwork, there’s not actually any defined images for each of the clans.  There are pictures and images throughout the book of barbarians but none linked specifally to a clan.  So splitting them into the three subgroups will really help to start to come up with designs for them that I can then try and find miniature ranges to suit.  Broadly speaking I think that the northern tribes need to look more stereotypically barbarian, whether that be like the furclad wildlings off Game of Thrones or the woad covered and tattooed ancient celts or a mixture, seeing as there are multiple tribes.  I then think the more southern and some  (Ambrians) might say more civilised, give them a more “modern” look, maybe looking at various Dark Age societies like Saxons and Danes, so less woad and tattoos and more chainmail or other similar armours.  It’s also interesting that many of the barbarian tribes use animals in their armies, more so than the Ambrians and their horses.  That could also be an interesting aspect

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