Saturday, March 28, 2020

Back to the Bronze Age with DBA

Turning the clock back to December for a moment, my dad gave me a copy of the DBA 3.0 rules for Christmas this past year. There's something deeply enthralling about all those army lists in the back, offering such a wide range of possible options for match-ups across history. Well, the one I kept coming back to was the late Bronze Age. I/22b New Kingdom Egyptians vs. I/24b Later Hittite Empire vs. I/20 Syro-Canaanites vs. I/28 Sea Peoples makes for a nice set of armies that are all historical opponents for each other. And I already have some of the figures, right?

Well... yes and no. I do have quite a lot of Hittites already painted, but my existing troops didn't exactly line up with the DBA unit types. And besides, I painted them some years ago, and my painting skills have improved in the meantime. And it would be nice to have some chariot runners to help fill out the larger DBA-standard chariot bases. And, you know, I still have plenty of spare figures left over...

So to make a long story short, I spent January and into February painting an entire new army of Hittites!

The whole army arrayed

Hittite general in heavy chariot

A second heavy chariot (HCh)

Two light chariots (LCh)

Four Hittite infantry (3Pk)

Two light infantry (3Ax)

Two skirmishers (Ps)

After that, I started on some Egyptians of my own, so that I wouldn't have to be reliant on borrowing my dad's troops. After getting a few supply chain issues sorted out, these are now finished as well!

Egyptian army: front view

Egyptian army: rear view

Egyptian general in light chariot

Three more light chariots (LCh)

Three Egyptian infantry (4Bd)

Two Egyptian archers (4Bw)

Sherden guards (3/4Bd)

Libyan warriors (3Wb)

Nubian skirmishers (Ps)

Alas, while other people may have more time for painting while the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, my painting desk has been converted into a temporary home office. So the next stage (infantry for the Syro-Canaanites and rebasing their chariots onto DBA-standard bases) may take a little longer than anticipated...

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Ghost Archipelago: Spider Island

The mission had been a disaster, from beginning to end. Lorria stood in the captain’s cabin of the Grimoire, looking at the figure laid out on the bed - stripped of armor and weapons, a gash opening up his throat. Barl, Chief Acquisitor from the Great Library at Ubar - the captain of the ship, and her employer, a Heritor who had come in search of the Crystal Pool and found only death.

A rumor and a reference in an old book had brought them to the Isle of Spiders, where treasure and clues to the Pool’s location might be hidden in a ruined temple. But others had heard the same rumors, or had followed their trail. The spiders had been bad enough, but the dwarves had been worse - followers of a rival Heritor who had attacked them, and slain Barl.

"What was the haul today?" she asked. A few of the crew had managed to evade both the spiders and the dwarves, and had made it back to the ship.

"Maybe forty ducats in gold? Plus a pair of boots that might be enchanted, and that little chest of herbs." Hedwig spoke up, her arm in a sling and her face bruised where an axe-blow had smashed her helmet.

"Let me take a look." The boots were definitely enchanted - Lorria could feel the little pulse of power as she ran her fingers over them. A swimming charm, maybe? She flipped up the lid of the herb chest - most of the contents had lost their potency, but that bit of dremlocke weed might still be good. And what was this? Buried at the bottom was a small locket, carved out of wood, almost like a reliquary. Almost of their own accord, her fingers undid the catch. Inside the locket was a small red berry.

She could feel a wild laugh welling up inside her. A lingle berry? Rich men back on the mainland would pay hundreds of ducats for one of these, in hopes of the slightest chance of cheating death. With the proceeds, she could pay off the expedition’s debts, have a little stake of her own for if she hired on with another crew… she looked over at the corpse on the bed. Or she could use it now, and try to save poor old Barl. Did she owe him that much?

Idly, she sifted through the meagre pile of coins. One slipped into her hand, and she picked it up to look at it in the light of the porthole. It wasn’t a mintage she recognized - who knew how old the hoard had been? On one side was a skull, on the other, a ship. She chuckled grimly, and tossed the coin in the air, using a Warden’s trick to make it hang there, spinning. "Here’s your chance, Barl," she said to the corpse on the bed, and let the coin drop back into her hand. "Ship - you live, skull - you can stay dead."

She opened her hand, and there was the ship. "Guess we’ll give this a try." She picked up the berry, pried Barl’s mouth open, and squeezed the tiny droplet of juice onto his tongue.


There was a strange taste in his mouth - like strawberries and vomit and pepper and fire all at once. He opened his eyes, and drew a deep, rasping breath. "Where am I?" he tried to say, but it came out as more of a croak. 

"You’re back on board the Grimoire." Lorria’s voice. So, they had made it, then. Memories started to return to him - scuffling with a pair of dwarven toughs, the burning in his blood, the knife at his throat… He reached gingerly up, and felt the ridge of a scar there, as though long healed.

"What happened? How many casualties?"

"Only two killed. Fletch - and you."

"Me? But… then.. how?"

"You were lucky. That herb chest Petra found - it had a lingle berry in it."

So. That explained it - but he had been very lucky. From the tales he had heard, lingle berries worked perhaps one time in four, if that. And for that matter… "Lucky twice, then. Lucky I have a loyal crew." He turned his head to look at Lorria. She nodded. "We press on, then. And next time I hope I will prove… that your loyalty has not been wasted."

Monday, September 11, 2017

Commencement of Hostilities

From The Times of Mindon - March 4, 1854 AUT

Occiterran troops force border crossing near Urell
Our correspondents in Lutens and Rugen have confirmed that a state of war now exists between Occiterre and Elabrun. This follows years of tensions between the continental powers over the North Seridian question, and Emperor Jules III's repeated statements of support for the rebels in Melaponte and Pollograta...

Reports from the frontier indicate that the Occiterran First Army have seized the crossing at Rougepont, but that the Elabruner Army des Westens under General Graf von Kettefurt has repelled a two-pronged attack on the town of Urell. If the Occiterrans can take the town, they may be able to capture the key passes of the North Canton that lie beyond, threatening to sweep into the disputed provinces along the Fredda River...

A response is expected shortly from the government of the Republic of Seridia, which has also supported the North Seridian rebels. Chief Minister Athelby and the House of Thanes have reaffirmed that Stratland will remain neutral...

This past weekend, the armies of my 19th century imagi-nations, Occiterre and Elabrün, finally got their first outing. Dad and I played three games using Neil Thomas's "One Hour Wargames" rules, using the some of the scenarios included in the book. I wanted something short and simple that would require only a limited number of units, and these certainly fit those requirements. The games were fast and entertaining enough, but maybe a little too simple - it seems like the side that is forced to move is at a distinct disadvantage, since units can't move and fore, and there are no distinctions for long vs. short range. On the other hand, the combinations of slightly randomized armies and classic scenarios offers a good amount of replayability that could be carried over to a different ruleset.

Occiterran infantry crosses a river with artillery support

The first game involved the Occiterrans crossing a river, with the Elabrüners attempting to gradually withdraw their forces while holding off the Occiterran advance. While the Elabrüner troops in the town did hold off the Occiterrans for a while, by the end of Turn 15, the Occiterrans had secured the bridge and proceeded to advance across the board.

Elabrüner infantry and jaegers defend a key hill

The second game involved a small Elabrüner force defending a hill against a larger Occiterran force while waiting for reinforcements. Elabrün was fortunate to have some light infantry available in this game, who stationed themselves in the small patch of woods at the base of the hill and proved a nuisance for the Occiterrans the entire game. The Occiterran assault petered out, and the Elabrüners were able to reinforce their position.

Occiterran forces press an unsuccessful attack on a town

The third game saw the Elabrüners once again taking a defensive position, this time in a town, which the Occiterrans were required to capture. Unfortunately for the Occiterrans, their forces this time included two units of cavalry, which by the rules were not allowed to enter the town, and their infantry was not able to carry the day alone.

So, overall score at the moment is Elabrün 2, Occiterre 1. So far Elabrün seems to be holding out pretty well against the invasion; maybe a counterattack will come next, or maybe Occiterre will bring more forces to bear...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

From "The Encyclopedia of Proxia"

A bit of background on some of the countries from this map...


The Emperor of Elabrun rules a vast large and diverse realm, from the plains of the east to the mountains in the west, and his subjects speak a dozen languages or more. This Empire has been slowly patched together since the Chivalric Age by the Falkenburg family, who started as Dukes of a small Nordoric state in the Nivean Mountains. Through advantageous marriages and shrewd alliances, they expanded their realm, and by the end of the Chivalric Age, the Falkenburgs ruled the sizable Duchy of Rugen and had holdings as far away as northern Seridia.

With the fall of the Maxenian Empire, the Falkenburgs found themselves in the path of the Koraman advance, as the victorious nomads swept through Stecjia and conquered the city-states along the Muriatic Sea. However, the Falkenburgs were able to raise an army of their own from among their vassals, and held off the Koraman invaders in the great siege of Rugen. Throughout the Rational Age, the Falkenburgs regained much of eastern Proxia, unifying it in what became known as the Empire of Elabrun, after the Falkenburgs’ original domain.

As the Empire grew, it came into conflict with other powers besides the Koramans. The Haumont kings of Occiterre resented Elabruner expansion into northern Seridia, and many of the Nordaler states were wary of their southern cousin, which often tried to expand its influence in the north. With the fall of the Haumonts, Elabrun became entangled in the Fraternal Wars, and was a frequent foe of Jules I after his rise to power. The long period of war strained the Empire, and many of the far-flung provinces began to see calls for independence.

With peace once more reigning in Proxia, the current Emperor Maxim IV has been working to weld the Empire into a more cohesive whole, and to develop good relations with the now-unified Republic of Nordalen to the north. But the recent independence of Stecjia and Dobria from the Koramans has caused some of the southeastern provinces to grow restless, and worse still, some of the Seridian provinces have risen in revolt, no doubt inspired by their compatriots across the border. The recent ascension of Jules III in Occiterre has sparked fears in the court at Rugen that he may intervene on the side of the North Seridian rebels...


Flussland has always depended on trade. Its origins lie in the Chivalric Age, as a defensive pact between a number of merchant cities along the Sleeve. At its height, the city of Plewen was one of the busiest ports in the world, and the Flusser Republic rivaled Stratland and Occiterre in power, with profitable colonies around the globe. However, the economic tides turned, and a series of wars with its rivals left Flussland exhausted.

Nor did Flussland fare well during the wars of Jules I. The country was conquered by Occiterre, and even after the death of Jules I, Occiterre retained two of its southern provinces. The remainder of the country regained its independence, but the republic was abolished, and a cousin of the Stratish monarch was made king. These days, though neutral in theory, its interests largely align with those of Stratland, which sees it as a potential foothold on the continent. Meanwhile, the old mercantile families are using the years of relative peace to rebuild their trade networks.


This vast country stretches far to the east, across both forests and steppes. Much of Gospodinia was once ruled by nomads from these steppes, who were slowly driven back by the ancestors of the Gospodinians. Because of its size, the country has never been subject to a strong central authority--the Grand Hetman is elected by the nobility, and the greatest magnates rule domains the size of small kingdoms. Most of the population are peasants, tied to the land in a way of life largely unchanged since the Chivalric Age.

Since the disastrous Occiterran invasion forty years ago, the Gospodinian nobility have started to take more of an interest in the affairs of Western Proxia. Several of the recent Grand Hetmans have come from the Narostki family, and have been trying to increase the power of the central government. A key part of this effort has been to build a modern national army and navy to supplement the nobles’ levies. However, a recent attempt to test these new forces in an invasion of the Koraman Empire came up against opposition from the western powers. This culminated in an intervention by the Stratish, Occiterrans, and Seridians on behalf of the Koramans, and a lengthy siege of the port of Strelopunsk.


The Koramans were once a single tribe among the nomads of the Procalan steppe, raiding the borders of the Tyran Empire. When the Tyrans lost their western provinces, the emperor Maxenius built a new capital in the east, which he named Maxenopolis. For centuries, the Maxenian Empire held sway over the Archian islands and much of nearer Procala. The Koramans fought against the Maxenians as well, even as they grew to lead a confederation of the steppe tribes. Over centuries of war and peace, the Koraman-led confederation gained the upper hand, forcing the Maxenians out of Procala, until at last the Empire was left with little besides the city of Maxenopolis.

By this time, the Koramans had become an Empire in their own right, one of the greatest of the late Chivalric Age. When Maxenopolis fell to them at last, it sent shockwaves through all of Proxia. Koraman armies swept west, subjugating the mountain kingdoms as far north as Rugen, and Koraman fleets threatened the Seridian city-states. Only an alliance led by the Duke of Rugen was finally able to halt their advance, after a long siege of Rugen itself. Throughout the Rational Age, the Koraman Empire remained a great power, but the Elabruner descendants of the Dukes of Rugen have gradually retaken much of their eastern Proxian holdings, and in the past few decades, some of the mountain kingdoms have regained their independence. The Koraman Empire these days is a shadow of its former self, propped up by some of the western powers as a counterbalance against the increasing strength of Gospodinia.


The history of Occiterre dates back to the fall of the Old Tyran Empire, when Nordoric barbarians overran many of the western provinces and set up numerous petty kingdoms of their own. One of these was the kingdom of Lutens, centered on the former Tyran city of Lutenium. Over time, the kings of Lutens expanded their holdings at the expense of their neighbors, and by the end of the Chivalric Age, they reigned from the Stratish Sleeve to the Gulf of Lucra. By this time, their realm was more often known as “Occiterre”, the “western land”. 

As Proxia emerged from the Chivalric Age into the light of the Rational Age, Occiterre took its place as one of the great powers of the continent. Under the Haumont kings, Occiterre contended with Stratland, Pelendia, Elabrun, the Flusser Republic, the Koraman Empire, the city-states of Seridia, and the fractured fiefs of Nordalen.

But sixty years ago, with the death of Omri XII, the Haumont dynasty came to an end and the Fraternal Wars began. There were many claimants to the throne of Occiterre, both foreign princes and scions of its own noble houses. Alliances were formed and broken, and in some places the peasants and bourgeois rose up, calling for the end of the monarchy.

It was with the help of some of these radical factions that Jules Brasfort first came to the fore. A minor noble and distant relative of the Haumonts, he was a captain stationed in the port of Mayon when Omri XII died. When the Pelendians invaded, he organized the defence of Mayon, then raised an army to repel the invaders. After this victory, the people of Mayon acclaimed him as Tribune of the city. The next year, Jules marched north to Montchemin, where he defeated the army of a prince who was supported by Elabrun. In every city he passed, he gathered the people together and had them choose a Tribune to govern them. Soon he arrived at Lutens, and the people of the capital threw open the gates for him. Jules called for all the Tribunes to come to Lutens, then told them that they must choose someone to rule all of Occiterre. Naturally they chose Jules, who was crowned as the first Emperor of Occiterre.

This was the beginning of the end of the Fraternal Wars--there were still some provinces in the west that did not acknowledge Jules as Emperor, and even today there are still some “Haumont” pretenders who claim to be the rightful king of Occiterre. But soon Jules I had unified all of Occiterre and turned his attention to the rest of Proxia. He decided that the best way to keep the Occiterran people united was to lead them against their neighbors. So he began campaigns against Pelendia and Elabrun, and set up new states in Seridia and Nordalen. The Stratish became worried about his domination of the continent, and joined an alliance against him. For twenty years, he fought up and down Proxia, winning victory after victory. But finally, in far-off Gospodinia, his luck ran out when a wound from a stray musket ball festered.

His son, Jules II, was only fifteen when his father died, and so a regency was set up. The generals and statesmen of the regency council negotiated an end to the wars and began rebuilding the country. Once he came of age, Jules II continued these policies. Under his rule, the first railroads and telegraphs were built in Occiterre. Trade flourished, colonies were set up in far away lands, and Occiterre became a great power in Proxia once more. But new powers were on the rise as well: the Confederation of Nordalen that Jules I had set up soon collapsed, but from its ashes emerged the Republic of Nordalen. And in the south, the Seridians also formed a Republic, whose leaders still look north to those territories still held by the Empire of Elabrun. Occiterran governments greeted these developments with cautious optimism, hoping that these new nations will be allies against the old powers of Stratland and Elabrun.

Two years ago, Jules II died, and his son took the throne. Jules III is a brash young man who idolizes his heroic grandfather and wishes to see Occiterre dominant in Proxia once again.


The Seridian peninsula was once the heartland of the Old Tyran Empire, one of the mightiest powers of the ancient world. Bolstered by the Archian diaspora after the fall of the Islands, the Tyrans built an empire that spanned much of western Proxia and nearer Procala. But that empire collapsed thirteen centuries ago, in an invasion by Nordoric peoples from the north, who even sacked Tyra itself.

Throughout the Chivalric Age, Seridia was a backwater, sometimes dominated by foreign powers and sometimes by city-states that rose above their neighbors. But when Maxenopolis fell to the Koramans, the Seridian cities became havens for the new Diaspora. The advances in arts and sciences brought by the fleeing scholars of the east marked the start of the Rational Age, and the city-states of Seridia were among the first to benefit. For centuries, they were unsurpassed in culture--yet politically they remained weak, and often influenced by Occiterre, Elabrun, Pelendia, or the Koramans.

It was not until the wars of Jules I that Seridia was united once more. Jules conquered both the northern regions--then controlled by Elabrun--and the Pelendian-backed kingdom in the south. In their place, he established a republic, harkening back to the pre-imperial traditions of Old Tyra. This republic did not long survive Jules’ death--the Elabruners reconquered the north, and a king was restored in the south following the Treaty of Rugen. But it endured long enough for a generation to come of age knowing Seridia as a united country.

One of these was Alessandro Capporossa. Born in Zampogna, he was a student in Tyra when Jules captured the city. He served as a representative for Zampogna during the First Republic, and when the king was restored, he fled overseas to the Pelendian colonies, where he fought in aid of the revolutionaries there. Twenty years ago, with the death of King Luigi III, Capporossa returned to Seridia, with a force of three hundred fellow exiles. Together they marched on Tyra, and proclaimed a new Republic. Despite the efforts of Elabrun, many of the southern cities raised the Green Star once more.

Now an old man, Capporossa still dreams of liberating the north from Elabruner rule. Seridian patriots in Turchino, Melaponte, and even Trampoli have repeatedly risen in revolt, but still Elabrun has maintained their hold. With the ascension of Jules III, the Seridian government has renewed hopes that Occiterre may help them regain the lost provinces.


This island country has long been the premier naval power in Proxia. Known to the Old Tyrans as the Tin Isles, when the Empire fell, the islands were conquered by Stratic raiders from across the Cold Sea, cousins of the Nordoric tribes. In the early Chivalric Age, the Stratish frequently raided the coasts of Occiterre and Flussland, until finally an invasion led by the bastard son of the king of Lutens crossed the Sleeve and brought the islands under control. The descendants of Martin the Bastard set up their own kingdom in Stratland, which would prove to be a great rival of Occiterre throughout the Chivalric and into the Rational Age. Since the beginning of the Rational Age, much of the power is held by the House of Thanes, some of whom are hereditary, but others of whom are elected from among the free yeomen.

Despite their long rivalry with the Haumont kings of Occiterre, the Stratish were no happier to see Jules I on the throne. The formidable Stratish navy fought many battles against his empire, and the profits of Stratish trade and industry funded alliances against him on the continent. Since the death of Jules I, the Stratish have been content to maintain the balance of power in Proxia, even cooperating with their old Occiterran rivals in some cases. Stratish interests are increasingly taken up with trade and colonization abroad and booming industries at home, fueled by the islands’ rich resources of coal and metal.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Bringing up the guns

As I mentioned at the tail end of my last post, the next step in my Imagi-nations project has been to put together some artillery for the Elabrüners. This has finally been completed--as anticipated, these were not the easiest fellows to paint. They are the Waterloo 1815 Austrian Artillery 1859, and PSR's dubiousness is pretty justified--there are some flaws with the poses, and I did not have the time to try to de-warp the cannon wheels. Still, like most figures they look a bit better with some paint on them:

Three views of the new artillery piece

And with the acquisition of this gun, I know have examples of each unit type on each side! Time for a review:
From left to right: light infantry, artillery, command, cavalry, line infantry.

More Occiterran cavalry are next, then more Elabrüner cavalry... and then I might finally be ready to play a game with these guys! (And there may be some terrain-building along the way as well...)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Rally round the flag(s)

February was not the busiest month for painting, though there was plenty going on on other fronts. (At some point February became the month when all my friends have birthdays? When did that happen?) Anyway, what time I've had has been spent adding some officers and flags to the armies of Occiterre and Elabrün.

The designs were something I came up with quite early on, and part of my intention then was that they'd be relatively easy to paint. Turns out freehanding a relatively even tricolor was a little more difficult than I thought, but here they are at last (in varying stages of completeness):

A little bit of a closer look at the Elabrüners:

And the same for the Occiterrans (the fleur-de-lys are gilded, but it's a little hard to tell):

Both sides' standard-bearers are conversions; the Waterloo 1815 Austrians have a flag with an awkward molded-on design, where as the Emhar French lack one of their own. I made my own with some paper and brass wire.

Not sure what I'll end up working on next--some Elabrüner artillery is theoretically next in the queue, but the cannon wheels have some warping that I haven't decided how to deal with. There's a strong possibility I'll procrastinate by doing something else instead...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Derro Trio

The notion of gathering a team to explore the slowly-thawing ruins of a once-great city seems a little on the nose today, given the blizzard that's currently hitting the East Coast. None the less, here are the latest additions to my growing band of adventurers--a trio of rather grumpy-looking dwarves.

(OK, technically they're listed as "derro," which in D&D are some demented subspecies of dwarves, but I did not bother to look this up before painting them, and thus they lack the distinctive coloration of derro. So--dwarves.)

First, we have just a regular Derro, apparently one of a set of three, though I didn't end up with either of the other two. I had a bit of fun doing his hat. He doesn't seem particularly heavily armed or armored (just some sort of hook/club thing and some rope) so I'm thinking he'll be a rogue or thief.

This guy is the Derro Leader, a little more heavily armed than the first. He's kind of asymmetrical; his left arm has some sort of padded protection and a thick leather glove, while his right arm is bare except for an oddly-shaped buckler. In Frostgrave terms, he'll probably end up as a Thug.

And here we have the Derro Mage. His pendant strongly suggested an eye, so that's how I painted it. Between that, and his demon belt-buckle, his Frostgrave role may be a Summoner.

And here are the three of them together! The Derro Leader's scale armor is a little more apparent from this angle. All in all, I had fun with these guys--as Bones go, they didn't have too much extraneous detail, and their somewhat exaggerated features give them some character. I ended up playing around with some unusual color choices as well, especially with the first two.

I have some more Bones in my queue, but I think I'm ready for a change of pace--my next goal will be to get some officers and flags painted for my 19th-century imagi-nations...