Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kriegsprout Hosts

  As they are wont to do, my PCs took a hard right from the main narrative to scamper off on a sidequest that I had come up with a while back, and neglected to flesh out - so I found myself four hours ahead of game time tapping away at the keyboard to figure out what is supposed to be happening to them. It's sort of a game I play with myself - offering them a hook for a sidejob that I haven't even remotely figured out yet, and then frantically trying to write a short adventure to follow it. It works out pretty well, though. I guess I work better under pressure?

Kriegsprout Walker sketch
  The hook was that the local Doc was in need of medical supplies, and had gotten ahold of an old aerial survey map that showed what he thought could be a hospital in a narrow valley, cut off from the wastes by a collapsed overpass. The thought was that it may be out of the way enough to still offer some decent scavenging. 

  They took the gig, and set straight out for it - and after a hard climb up this ridge of rubble infested with sand sharks, look down into the valley to see that it's green. A hidden Eden of swaying trees heavy with strange fruit and lush grasses. And that's where I left it - I had to figure out the hows and whys in the intervening week. 

If any of my PCs are reading this, cut it out. At least for a week.

  So I came up with the plan that along with the abandoned hospital, the remote valley was also home to the Happy Lawn Fertilizer plant, it's enormous holding tanks slowly leaking into the shallow stream that runs the edge of the valley, giving rise to all sorts of lush, green, but terrifyingly corrupted and mutated plant life. Most importantly - a kind of parasitic, hive-mind fungus that claims humanoid hosts in order to spread it's spores. I'm calling them Kriegsprout Hosts.

  So, that figured - I needed a few minis to represent these guys on the tabletop, but with only half a day to get them done. I have a pretty huge bin of D&D minis, most of them gifted to me by one of the PCs for Christmas, so I started digging. I was looking for a few miniatures that with a couple of quick, simple conversions and a little paint could imply a life-cycle for the creatures, starting with a fairly freshly claimed host, all the way through to a fully overtaken one. I picked out a handful of Orc Zombies, a Web Golem, and a pair of Blackroot Treants.

  I knew I wanted them to have additional 'limbs', so to speak, so I pulled out the pipe cleaners and started twisting up a few tree branches. I have seen pipe-cleaner tree tutorials on a few sites before, and it is by far my favorite method. The end product has a great texture for painting and the best part is that they remain fully pose-able, even after priming, painting, and dull-coating. I took a few pictures of the process, if you've never tried it before.

  Start with a few scraps of pipe cleaner, color doesn't really matter here, but I usually use white or black.

  Twist them together tightly into a vaguely tree-like shape. Easy enough.

  Using a lighter, melt the 'fluff' down onto the wires, pinching it here and there to ensure a good taper towards the ends of the branches. You should probably do this step outside, as there is a little bit of smoke and some mildly unpleasant fumes released.

 Aaaaand, done. I made a handful of these, and started sawing off limbs and drilling holes with my pin vise to securely anchor them to the minis. Afterwards, I decided that they still needed a little more, so I wrapped lengths of floral wire around them in places to represent creeping vines.


  Conversions complete, I sanded the bases, and then spray primed the lot of them. After they dried (mostly), a washed them all with MSP Walnut Brown, drybrushed with MSP Chestnut, and then another drybrush of 25/75 Chestnut and White. I am always amazed at how much detail is put into these prepainted minis that you would never notice under the factory paintjob. A wash and a few half-sloppy layers of drybrushing, and they look amazingly better.

I used a few dabs of superglue to apply a mixture of flock and dried herbs from the kitchen to give the appearance of moss, and then picked out the eyes with orange and the vines with a few highlights to give them a little more color. After that, I was out of time, but they were looking good enough for the tabletop, despite the fact that they still reeked of spraypaint and the glue holding the sand to the bases wasn't dry yet. Nonetheless, game on.

All in all, the conversions are a little slapdash, but I was happy with them, and they worked. With more time I would have like to add some small leaves to the vines, and maybe a few patches of foliage to the branches, but they look alright without those fine details for now. The PCs are still deep in the valley, and I might have time to touch them up a bit before next game night.

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