Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

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The great UK tour recap

May 4, 2019

This was actually written a couple of weeks ago already, but I decided to leave it mostly in its original state as a fun memory.

What a few weeks it’s been! I’m currently writing this post on a train from Carlisle to London, where we’ll spend a day and a half before heading home. The last two weeks have included not only Salute, but also some amazing views – pretty much all of Lord of the Rings was present – and wonderful people as we’ve hiked some 175 km (roughly 109 miles) through Yorkshire, Durham and Cumberland along the glorious Pennine Way. As it is, this post will mostly just be one big photo dump of Salute photos with some holiday stuff thrown in.

Salute was super fun as usual! I mostly spent the day with folks from Random Platypus and Frothers, enjoying the participation games put on by people from these lovely communities. There was urban warfare in the form of Carnage City Chronicles and Wild in the Streets, anthropomorphic animal hijinks in Burrows and Badgers, Doom-like deathmatch on a wonderful scifi corridor board as well as Project Fear, a tongue-in-cheek post-Brexitpocalyptic game of activists trying to reach the last ferry from Dover. This last one also holds special meaning for me as I painted two minis for it! Look for the pink shirted shotgun guy and the guy in blue. For more information on the Random Platypus games, do check out the blog posts here and here. Oh, and I’m also pretty stoked that one of my painted minis was actually a display model on a trade stand – look for Carla, the knife-wielding lady shown in the Wild in the Streets cabinet.

I was somewhat moderate in my shopping, although I did pick up all the new pirates that Black Scorpion just released as well as their Salute special edition mini. As I figured I’d done most of my shopping, I came upon a retailer who was clearing their stock of Freebooter’s Fate minis at a very low price. I’ve always been interested in FF minis, but the price point has just been way too high for me even though the miniatures are lovely. At a clearance price of just £5 per blister, I just couldn’t pass up on them this time! Apparently I was so excited about this that I completely managed to miss Alex of Leadballoony, after a good long while of planning. There’s always next year, luckily.

Well, enough with the talk, it’s photo time! You can click on any photo for a larger version, which should open in a new tab.

A pair of honeymooners – make of that what you will!

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They see me rollin’

January 18, 2019

The year’s first finished hobby project is gloriously simple: a dice tray. I’ve never considered dice trays to be all that necessary to be honest, but they do bring a satisfying neatness to rolling dice. I had been thinking of making one for quite a while, so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on that train (more like trayn, amirite).

Dice tray with Fate dice

The finished tray with some lovely Fate (Fudge) dice

The tray is a simple IKEA hack that has been around for quite a while. I bought an old RIBBA picture frame for 0,50 EUR from the local Reuse Centre, threw away the glass (plastic in the newer ones), ripped out the stand, pulled out those little tabs of metal that hold the backing board in place, added a couple of pieces of cardboard to bring the rolling surface up a bit and to cover the holes where the tabs used to be, glued a suitably cut piece of hobby felt in place with PVA, and what do you know, a neat little dice tray. All in all, it cost me exactly 0,50 EUR, as I got the felt from a friend – incidentally left over from her similar dice tray project.

I can now roll my dice with a satisfyingly muffled clatter. The tray ended up looking quite nice, although I’m thinking of decorating the corners with something suitable. The small size means that it’s actually quite convenient to take along to gaming nights. The tray has seen quite a bit of use already, as the early year has been wonderfully RPG-heavy.

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2018

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From the painting desk #59 – The painting desk

August 28, 2018

As you have no doubt noticed, the blog has been awfully quiet lately. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times previously, it’s nothing serious – just home renovation stuff leaving me with no space to paint in. All that has now changed!

We’ve been buying a lot of old furniture after moving together, because of both the visual appeal and the ecological. We’ve been getting rid of old IKEA stuff, and replacing it with wooden furniture. With this in mind, I spotted this desk at the local recycling centre:

IMG-20180723-WA0006

Click for a larger version

Don’t you just love that pine, the round drawer knobs and the worn, faded tabletop? I know I didn’t! While in their own way quaint and reminiscent of my childhood (this style was quite popular in Finland back in the 80s/90s), I knew they would have to go. The desk had a thick layer of varnish, which had yellowed over the years, and I wanted rid of that as well.

My original plan was to remove the varnish by using both paint stripper and a sander and then to give the desk a new coat of varnish tinted darker brown. This failed miserably. After spending a lot of time with the sanding and paint stripping, there were still a lot of patches where the varnish just wouldn’t stick. I was close to dumping the whole desk at this point.

As in so many cases, furniture paint turned out to be the solution. Just white paint over everything, switch out the knobs for some nice brass ones and ta-da!

Click for a larger version

One of the neater things here of course is that when I’m not painting, I can just close the desk to keep my stuff from collecting dust on my (ho-humm) occasional painting breaks. All those lovely drawers nicely hold my extra paints, flocks and other hobby stuff, so I’m really really happy with this solution. On top of everything, I think it looks pretty gosh darn elegant for a miniature painting table.

I even added a couple of actual houseplants! I’ll get back to Sting and Dire Straits now.

And yes, the “From the painting desk” posts are usually dedicated to miniatures, but how could I resist? Yeah, that’s right.

 

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Pirate music

March 10, 2018

What up, fellow cool kids! With home renovation work continuing, I’m stuck with plenty of newly painted miniatures that I haven’t been able to photo properly. For once, plenty of painting mojo and I’m unable to share it! What this means is another tangential post, this time on music I use to inspire myself. Instead of just plonking down a playlist, I figured I’d share some of my thoughts that went into this list. It’s not a full play-by-play, but close to one. You can find the playlist on Spotify by following this link.

Now, the list is vaguely named “Pirate & historical”. This means both genre and mood. I don’t want the list to sound too modern, hence the lack of pop/rock songs that match the theme. There are a couple of Mark Knopfler songs on there, and they’re sort of borderline. Then again, Privateering fits theme-wise, as does Sailing to Philadelphia.

A lot of “pirate music” that you find on Spotify is…well, let’s just say I don’t like it. It’s often average pirate-themed punk rock, usually sung in a raspy Hollywood “yarrrrr”-voice. Fun for the first 15 seconds, and then it starts grating on my nerves. That brings me to another important point: listenability. While I want the list to be somewhat theme-appropriate, it also needs to be something that I’ll actually listen to. What this means is that I’ve dropped the dramatic combat music from movie and game soundtracks. I’ve also avoided excessive use of any given album or artist, as it will make the playlist boring to me.

So what’s on this list then and why? The categories listed below aren’t exact so there’s plenty of overlap, I’ve just listed the songs under different headings to make my logic easier to follow.

Soundtracks from period films and games

The list features a lot of pieces from a variety of Assassin’s Creed games: Assassin’s Creed 3 (set during the American War of Independence), Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (set in the Golden Age of Piracy) and it’s slavery-themed Freedom Cry DLC, Assassin’s Creed Rogue (set in the late 18th century), Assassin’s Creed Unity (set during the French Revolution) with its Dead Kings supplement. These provide plenty of interesting themes and they’re often designed to be evocative background music, so they’re perfect for my needs. As mentioned above, I’ve left out the more dramatic pieces – they’re stressful to listen to.

There are pieces from Outlander and Poldark soundtracks. Both are set in the 18th century, so it’s no surprise they feature here as well. There are only a couple of Poldark pieces though, as a lot of the series’ soundtrack prominently features a common theme, and I don’t want the playlist to sound like a Poldark soundtrack.

Obviously there are Pirates of the Caribbean pieces, but I think surprisingly few. In all honesty, a lot of the PotC soundtrack stuff is really generic Klaus Badelt/Hans Zimmer orchestral soundtrack stuff. A refreshing exception to this is the soundtrack to On Stranger Tides, which features some excellent flamenco guitar work by Rodrigo y Gabriela.

There’s one track from Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise soundtrack, that I found fitting, too. Sure, it’s late 15th century but who’s counting?

Oh, and there’s the Curse of Monkey Island theme. I contemplated putting it in for a long time (playlist building is serious business) but I guess it deserves its place.

Fantasy music

Couple of these tracks in there as well. There’s one track from the Of Orcs and Men game soundtrack as well as a piece from League of LegendsSpotify has tons of generic fantasy music, but a lot of it is uninspired, generic and sounds cheap. Needless to say, I left those out.

Modern music with a historical theme

The Knopfler pieces mentioned above are good examples. Privateering is obviously about privateering, while Sailing to Philadelphia chronicles events set in the 1760s. Then there are a couple of thematic pieces, Loreena McKennitt’s unashamedly cheesy The Highwayman and Hanging Tree by Blackmore’s Night. It’s a fine line with this stuff, as sometimes the cheese dial goes to eleven.

Dance music

Some of these in there as well. There’s an instrumental jig version of the Elizabethan Drive the Winter Away carol and a hurdy-gurdy piece, Three Sharks by Nigel Eaton. The Devil’s Churn/Tamlin piece by The Pyrettes also goes in this category, as does Rose on the Mountain by Kaia Kater.

Sea shanties and maritime songs

It’s fairly obvious that these feature on the list. There’s Randy Dandy Oh by the Pyrettes that steers close to overt yarrrrr territory but barely clears it. The lovely Sheringham Shantymen rendition of The Good Ship Ragamuffin is one of my favourites on the whole list, as is Sarah Blasko’s beautiful take on Spanish LadiesThe Dreadnought is a song about a 19th century clipper, yet quite suitable for the list.

Ballads

Ballads were a favoured pastime in the 18th century, recounting all sorts of interesting goings-on. Ballads on the list are Turpin Hero (about the 18th century highwayman), The Rising of the Moon (about the Irish Rebellion of 1798), Back Home in Derry (recounting the forced deportation of the Irish to Australia in the turn of the 19th century), and Matty Groves (a tale of love and death from the 17th century).

There you have it, all sorts of fun music to fuel your life, whether you’re working on pirates or just enjoy some good tunes.

 

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Diana and me

August 20, 2017

It’s my birthday today, and I got a wonderful present a day early. Emmi had booked us a two hour coastal cruise on Diana, a reconstructed late 18th century cannon sloop that sails from Suomenlinna. It was super fun, with the crew dressed in period clothing and in character, with the main actor playing the part of Swedish shipbuilder and scientist, vice admiral Fredrik Henrik af Chapman. Now, this sort of thing can be cheesy and awkward, but I’m happy to report that it wasn’t – the crew played their parts well, the dialogue was witty and funny and they managed to cram a lot of historical information in there as well. The passengers got to help with some of the easy tasks in hoisting and lowering sails, and we got to try our hand in rowing the ship as well. There was also flag signaling and teaching of maritime knots as an additional bonus.

The cannon sloop (or gun sloop) was a type of small vessel designed in the latter half of the 18th century. From Wikipedia:

A gun sloop (Sw. kanonslup) had two collapsible masts and carried chase guns in both bow and stern. They were 15 to 19 meters in length and 3.5 – 4 meters in width while having draft of slightly less than one meter. The sloops had 10 to 12 oar pairs with two men on each oar and two collapsible sloop-rigged masts. Armament consisted of a 12 or 24-pound gun at both bow and stern, though some of the first gun sloops carried only a single gun in the bow, and a single 3-pounder swivel gun on each side. Some sloops carried carriages to allow their guns to be used as a shore battery. When not in combat, the guns were secured at the bottom of the vessel. Crew complement was from 50 to 64 men.

While not exactly a pirate vessel, it definitely gave me a lot of perspective on ship size. I’ve always thought many miniature gaming ships much too small, but they actually seem to be quite accurate! I might need to buy a few for shoreline duty and dedicate the two bigger ships to boarding action scenarios – knowledge can be an expensive thing. Anyway, here are some photos of the cruise, you can click for larger versions. Also, Emmi reminded me to write that she’s the best – she most definitely is.

 

 

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A book of pirates? 

March 7, 2017

Long, lazy days on sunny Gili Air have left me toying with an idea of doing something new regarding my pirate project. Namely, I’ve been thinking of turning it into a book of sorts! 

Now, I’m not talking about an epic novel or anything like that, but simply collecting the fiction and fact around Port George into one something like a compendium, providing fellow gamers – whether RPG or minis – with a ready-made fictional early 18th century town somewhere in the Caribbean. NPCs, plot hooks, historical facts and so on. Nothing system specifix, just things that spark the imagination and maybe provide inspiration and ideas for gaming and painting. 20-30 pages maybe.

This would of course give me a great opportunity to commission art from friends (I definitely want a map and some character illustrations), write some scraps of fiction and do some more pirate research. What I want most of all, though, is to create something, to make those minis, buildings and these blog posts into something more than just their sum. Who knows, maybe someone else might find it interesting or inspiring as well!

So, dear readers, what do you think? Cool idea or silly waste of time and effort? Something you might consider getting once finished, as a pdf maybe? What would you like to see in something like this? Any other comments or ideas?

Article picture by the great Howard Pyle, public domain.

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