Monday, October 27, 2014

Reaper Dark Heaven: Montrig the Bloody

Going back to my Reaper Dark Heaven figure "archive" again for a change of pace, this time I completed an intriguing old figure called 02168 Montrig the Bloody.  I should note that my version of the figure seems to be an earlier version than the one currently shown in the Reaper Online Store, as Montrig originally came with the pick shown in the pictures below rather than a mace (and this is backed up in the fluff from Dark Heaven: Apocalypse).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reaper Bones: Nienna, Female Elf Ranger; Norgol, Irongrave Knight

This week's figure for Monday Miniatures is 77091 Nienna, Female Elf Ranger from the Heroes set.  I had previously finished this figure in a painting spree back in January, but I've reposted her below as I'm still happy with the way she turned out.

Since Nienna was already complete, I spent my time on 77065 Norgol, Irongrave Knight and completed the BBEG set.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reaper Bones: Male High Wizard

We're back to the New 30 set this week for Monday Miniatures, and a figure I've been looking forward to painting since I received my Bones I Kickstarter order last year:  77034 Male High Wizard.  I'm curious why this figure never received a name, as it seems pretty rare for a Reaper miniature to go unnamed.

Reaper Dark Heaven: Pillars of Good and Evil

Today I completed a couple more of my older Reaper Dark Heaven figures:  02094 Pillars of Good and Evil.  I have had these for many years now (since late 90s/early 2000s, whenever they were released), and the Pillars were among the earliest Reaper figures I purchased.  Having just finished up the Colossal Skeleton from the Reaper Bones line, I wanted a change of pace (and it was a good chance to work on my backlog).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reaper Bones: Colossal Skeleton

After finishing up this week's Monday Miniature, the Orc Berserker, I decided that I wanted to tackle one of the larger Bones figures.  I had a couple sitting around my desk taunting me (as all unpainted figures do), and decided it was a good time to get one completed.  Bones II includes several larger figures (including numerous dragons), so I wanted to at least get one of my existing ones completed before Bones II arrives.  As such, here is 77116 Colossal Skeleton:

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Role of Death in RPGs

I have seen a few discussions on the role of death in roleplaying games (RPGs), particularly the death of player characters (PCs), and I wanted to provide some thoughts on the matter.  Often, the first (and sometimes only) argument is that if PCs never die, it makes the game trivial or meaningless.  I do not think this is necessarily the case, and in fact it can actually detract from the gaming experience depending on the gaming group.

The first question that must be asked is, "What is the purpose of the game?"  This is a question that has to be answered by each gaming group, as it greatly determines the style of game being played.  For example, a group that's just interested in a combat-focused dungeon crawl is very different than one interested in roleplay-heavy character development and strong plot elements.  The first group is generally not very attached to their characters except in an abstract way (a means to getting loot, leveling up, and other achievements based on game mechanics).  However, more story-driven players are the ones who suffer much more from character death.

I tend to compare RPG heroes to comic book superheroes.  How often do comic heroes actually die?  And when that does happen, it's almost solely as a plot device to further the story.  In my opinion, killing a PC is essentially forcing an end to the story the player was telling, regardless of the impact to the larger plot.  The key idea there is that of "hero"; the PCs should survive while lesser beings die around them.  Is it realistic?  No, but nothing else is in most RPGs, either, so that becomes a very weak argument.

Another argument for character death is that it's necessary for the heroes to fail.  However, "death" and "failure" are two different issues which tend to get lumped together.  A great example of these conditions being separated is the tabletop game Descent: Journeys In The Dark.  In Descent, heroes who lose all their health are "defeated", which removes them from the game until they are revived.  In this way, the Overlord can defeat the heroes in a quest without permanently killing them (and thus removing the character from the game).  The heroes can all be defeated, the Overlord wins the quest... and the game goes on.  The story continues!  And the players do not have to "reset" and lose the investment in their characters.  Again referring to the comic approach, the heroes suffer a setback (which happens, and makes for good stories), but the story continues.

There are numerous ways to avoid character death, ranging from their being left for dead, being taken captive, or even a miraculous escape.  Again, comics are rife with examples of this.  Instead of a character being slain outright (and his story ended), perhaps he is taken captive by the orcish tribes.  Now the other characters can arrange a rescue attempt, the captive hero can try to escape, and so on.  Again, the story continues!

Now, this is not to say that character death should never occur!  It depends on a certain level of "good faith" between players.  If a low-level PC runs off to a dragon lair or attacks a demon lord, they should probably be obliterated in short order.  Also, there may arise a situation where a player feels their character should die, usually in a grand heroic sacrifice (holding off the enemy hordes so the others can escape, etc.).  Sometimes it's as simple as a player just not liking their character or wanting a change of pace.  In those situations, death may be good for the greater story and can be embraced for that.

Ultimately, I think the story as a whole should take a greater precedence than game mechanics.  It's all about having a good time, and no one enjoys having the story for their favorite character brought to an abrupt end because of a night of crummy dice rolls!  Instead, let them suffer defeat but live to continue their story and fight their way back to victory.  Obviously, this approach is better for more story-driven players, but I think that it would add much more to the game than it might detract, and allows the stories of both players and characters to continue!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reaper Bones: Townsfolk: Mother with Children

As I mentioned in last week's Monday Miniatures post, this week's figure did not see retail release due to quality issues.  So if you haven't purchased a Vampire kit from the Bones I Kickstarter, you won't currently be able to get this figure:  77087 Townsfolk: Mother with Children.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Reaper Dark Heaven: Zombie Werewolf and Samantha of the Blade

I was looking through some of my older figures today, and decided that I should take a short break from Bones to knock out some old Dark Heaven figures.  These were among the first Reaper miniatures I got many years ago, but for one reason or another I've never gotten around to painting them... until now!

02132 Zombie Werewolf and 02047 Samantha of the Blade:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reaper Bones: Shaeress Nashanneth, Dark Elf Queen

I've had this figure sitting on my desk since I finished up Drago Voss as Tri-Klops.  However, I had sort of hit a wall and never progressed with it until now.  Here is 77066 Shaeress Nashanneth, Dark Elf Queen as Evil-Lyn.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reaper Learn To Paint Kit #2: Basic Skin and Cloth

For a change of pace, I decided to finish up my Reaper Learn To Paint Kit #2: Basic Skin and Cloth.  One of the figures included in the kit (02621 Laurana, Sorceress) had been sitting on my workbench in the "to do" queue for several months.  I wanted something a little different from what I've been working on lately (painting Bones and prepping Relic Knights).

When you're starting out painting, it's easy to get discouraged because your results don't seem to match the finished examples that you see from other painters.  This is especially true in the middle of the project, as the figure can look like an absolute mess before you're done.  Below are pictures from the different stages of the LTPK instructions.  Note that I tried to follow the instructions, even when I would have done something differently, as I considered this a learning experience versus "just painting another figure".  Hopefully this will help others who might want some insight into the painting process!