Ghost AAAARRRRrchipelago

It be scallywag o’clock on the not-so-good ship Sho3box…

Two “Bronze Giants“, a “Cortiki“, a big ol’ worm that will likely be doing double duty as a “Sea Serpent” and an unlikely Yautja.

A couple of months ago, Mikko from Dawn of the Lead and I were discussing pirates. Mikko is a long term pirate aficionado and I once wore a Halloween pirate costume in the early 1980s.

Sho3box and Dawn of the Lead explore the the coast of Baltimore, the pirate capital of Ireland.

By the end of the conversation we had decided to work towards a pirate-themed gaming session to take place at a time and date TBC, likely to be a little like the Frostgrave event we had a few years ago. We made this decision for multiple reasons, some of which follow:

  • it would be fun
  • pirates are rad
  • 2020 isn’t rad
  • project collaboration leads to good things
  • social contact, even remote social contact, is good for keeping spirits up

The list above is not exhaustive. The plan also includes more contributors/participants than just the pair of us, but for the time being all that matters is the above and that it leads to painted pirate toy soldiers.

A yautja pushes the boundary of the “pirate” theme as it stalks Scourge Privateer Kérastase Rackham through the Ghost Archipelago.

Despite not technically being a pirate rule set (it’s more Sinbad than Treasure Island) Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago was an obvious choice for our planned pirate gaming session, for at least these reasons:

  • Crews are a civilised and very achievable size of 10 models (with the option to expand further for those inclined).
  • Games are short and fairly fast and a 3×3′ footprint means that we can have several games running simultaneously without requiring a basketball court sized area to play in.
  • The rules are simple to pick up and familiar to many of the people likely to be involved.
  • GA is miniatures agnostic allowing players a lot of latitude when sourcing and prepping their pirate crew plans out into whatever appeals to them specifically.
  • Like Frostgrave and Rangers of Shadow Deep, Ghost Archipelago integrates wandering monsters and other fun and thematic elements pretty seamlessly. This is a huge draw.

Projects have to start somewhere, so for no particular reason I decided to begin this project with the Scooby-Doo-esque G-G-G-Ghosts of the Drowned Nymph.

G-G-G-G-GHOOOOSTS!

Reaper Bones miniatures are a lot of things, but they are not always made out of translucent green plastic.

The former crew of the Drowned Nymph is made out of an ectoplasmic green material. How much translucent elements bring to a gaming miniature is up for debate, but in this case I decided to see if I could quickly make them look reasonably decent and still retain some of the translucency. It worked out pretty well I think.

Although the cook is my favourite of the five – eternally doomed to pointlessly empty rum into his incorporeal mouth without satisfaction, like Barbosa in the only Pirates of the Caribbean movie worth watching – I really did enjoy painting all of them. I’m looking forward to them creeping out some superstitious swabs.

The beached wreck of the Drowned Nymph and the unquiet souls of its crew.

Once the crew ghosts were painted, I felt that they would be more fun to photograph in front of a shipwreck, so I painted the Citadel Gloomtide Shipwreck.

As you might expect from modern Citadel terrain kits, it was simple to assemble and fun to paint. It is also a very thematic bit of terrain for buccaneering around.

Kérastase Rackham, naïve, amoral, orphaned, nautical member of the Soulbound.

As all of these piratical project parts were coming together, I started playing an online game of “Soulbound“, the Age of Sigmar RPG.

To stick with theme and minimise distraction (I function better when I limit the number of things that I obsess about at any one time), I decided to play a Scourge Privateer/Dark Elf Corsair in the RPG, prep a figure as a fun character sketch and badly photograph it.

Irritatingly, a fire-breathing spider torched Kérastase’s sea dragon cloak in the catacombs below Brightspear early on in the adventure. Luckily, a trip to the “Love, Lace & Lacerations” haberdashery had him shipshape soon enough.

I had simultaneously been doing a little bit of work here and there on some “Wandering Monster” items, like a sharkman, a pair of submerged sharks, a “sea serpent” an “island troll” and some giant ticks. I love working on oddball bits and pieces like these, trying out different sloppy painting techniques without having to worry if they can be repeated on an army sized scale. I also find that Reaper Bones models are good for this sort of thing.

A shiver of sharkpeople head inshore towards an obstreperous merrow, while watched by a large worm… which might be a sea serpent.

Something about the inexpensive nature of Reaper Bones models encourages rapid assembly and painting. The material used for Reaper Bones makes it great for larger models too, like the “Bronze Giants” shown earlier.

A huge, damp, smelly, shapeless approximation of human form stumbles into the Archipelago. But enough about the players, I also painted an undead shipwreck golem.

Although I didn’t really have a plan for using a Reaper Bones Shipwreck Revenant in-game, it was a model that I had been interested in since it was released, so I decided to paint one and worry about where and when to use it later.

I suppose that a tribal icon worked into the body of the Revenant “explains” why shipwreck elements somehow animated and amalgamated into an anthropomorphic giant to stalk the Ghost Archipelago. Case closed.

My dodgy photos don’t really do the Revenant justice. By its nature it is shambolic and indistinct looking, but keep looking and you will see all sorts of details.

I picked everything out, but tried not to make any of the small elements overly striking, as I wanted the finished piece to look like it was composed of old elements that had recently dragged themselves up from the seabed: a bit of homogeneity was required.

A bit of artistic licence was used too of course, as while a darker skeleton “pilot” might make more sense conceptually, it’s theatre, not a plate from “Trends in Darke Magick Animated Former Sea-Going Vessels Quarterly“.

Is the octopus at the helm? It seems at least as likely as a skeleton being in command…

I added a black spot to the piece of parchment pinned to the revenants rear left shoulder, because literarily is how I roll, “literally”. And I like Muppet Treasure Island.

Kérastase once again finds his repeater handbow insufficient for the job at hand.

The Shipwreck Revenant is pretty large, which makes sense I suppose, depending on how much shipwreck is required to make one.
On the table, it is a huge thing, probably way beyond the scope of Ghost Archipelago crews really. But we will come up with some way to get it on the table for sure.

Two giant tick miniatures desperately hog the limelight before the loud smashing sounds begin…

More pirate things up next. Thanks for looking!

35 Responses

  1. I do like these themed but loose groupings of hobby output – there’s a lot of variety to enjoy in terms of scale, style, visual interest and paint techniques. You’ve painted a lot of nice colour transitions on these (green to cream on the troll, that terrifying purple worm mouth). They really ramp up the ‘realism’ of those schemes. Lovely stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Axiom!

      One of the aspects of a project like this that I really enjoy is being able to experiment on one-off figures.

      A number of the items in this batch are experiments in Contrast paint, seeing if I can approach certain jobs a different way. I’m definitely still learning how to best use Contrast paint to suit how I work and as you spotted, I was trying out ways to create rapid transitions without having to work too hard with these. Some worked better than others, but it is all part of the learning process.

      A nod to real colour patterns goes a long way when painting exotic fantasy or sci-fi creatures. I’m glad that it caught your eye!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You should also look up both Goobertown and Ninjon’s videos on Contrast paints, turns out they’re not too hard to either generalize or to directly replicate with cheap-ish supplies, which is a plus

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ill take a look jherazob, thanks!

          I don’t really object to the cost of Contrast paint to be honest jherazob. My free time is limited, so I do prefer to just get painting when I have the opportunity, rather than make paints/strip miniatures/trawl ebay/etc, if you get me.

          Some people enjoy that sort of thing, and if that makes them happy then that’s great, but like scratch building terrain, I just don’t feel inclined to do it any more these days: I would rather buy something and paint it or otherwise embellish it.

          But I’m glad that there are alternatives out there for people who want to do that sort of thing.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Love it, love it, love it all! But you knew that already. I also had to google up “ostreperous”, and now I’m a bit more knowledgeable. Google also informs me that there’s been a decline in the word’s use since the mid 1800s, so good thing you’re keeping it alive.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Obstreperous” is not a word I use every day, but I didn’t realise it was archaic…

      [DROPS MONOCLE INTO POCKET, CONSULTS SUNDIAL. MOUNTS PENNY FARTHING AND PROCEEDS TO ZEOTROPE FAIR]

      As an opening post for the project, it sets the tone reasonably well I think. The start of something memorable for those involved I hope.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The band looks great! And thank you for pointing out the sources of the models.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. As usual your work is gorgeous! Nice to see your collaboration with Mikko!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Mark!

      Mikko and I first started chatting together online almost eleven years ago, but didn’t meet in person until 2016 (documented a little bit HERE). We have met in person about once a year since, which is fun. This is the first time that we have decided to collaborate on a project though, so even crappy years like 2020 can lead to some good things!

      Thank you for the encouraging feedback as ever Mark!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Superb stuff mate, this looks like a lorra lorra fun… And how might one get involved pray tell?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that the gaming side of things will be fun Alex, when we eventually get to it.

      I think some of the more oddball inclusions in this batch will set the tone for future developments. Not completely bananas, but certainly a rubber suit monster sort of environment.

      Thanks for the feedback Alex!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A delightful boost of piratey mojo, you’ve completed some tremendous pieces for this setting. The shipmek is a mental thing, but sets the tone for this particular take on pirate adventure nicely I think, and looks top.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are some lines that, if crossed, destroy a theme. I try to avoid those. I do hope that the items that I have here illustrate the sort of items that I regard as perfectly reasonable in this environment.
      The Predator breaks my own rules a bit really. I don’t want anything else as overtly sci-fi as that in the project, but I couldn’t resist a quick, silly paint job.

      Anyway, I’m still working away on items for this, so plenty more to come me hearties!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome. I _cannot wait_ to see where this goes.

    That shipwreck golem is really cool and may eventually make it onto my own Pile of Shame if I can think of something amusing to do with it.

    I very much enjoy translucent miniatures when they are painted to incorporate non-translucent elements. Your pirate crew here is a perfect example; the bases really make a great contrast with the ghost-vibe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Argentbadger, I hope that you enjoy more of the project as it proceeds.

      I picked up a few more translucent figs recently as it happens, because I was so pleased with how the Crew of the Drowned Nymph turned out. Hopefully I can get them to look decent too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fantastic! the shipwreck golem is amazing, and I am totally aligned with the “Paint it now, and just somehow fit it in later” mindset.
    I think that drives the story in ways you would not have thought of otherwise.

    BTW, the Donnybrook guys just released some fine looking ship rules, if you were so inclined… (Donnybrook at Sea)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Will!
      The golem is bananas, but looked like such a fun thing to work on that I couldn’t resist it. It won’t it the table too often I’m guessing, but I will definitely have some fun with it.

      I’m definitely a fan of making the painting experience enjoyable and letting the games fit around that. As you say, it can inform the narrative in unexpected and definitely positive ways.

      airbornegrove has been talkimng about Donnybrook for ages, so when I saw that the “…at Sea” supplement was released I bought the core rules and the supplement, based on what he and few others had said. I haven’t taken a look at it yet, but as it means that some quick resolution 28mm boarding actions (something that you are quite familiar with Will…) could take place, I will be giving it a thorough once over soonish I hope.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ohhh, what a lot of things to admire! They look amazing, they all stand out. Gorgeous ones!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Suber!

      I think that if I enjoy working on something, it shows. Personal circumstances mean that blog posts tend to be few and filled with all sorts of thematically connected things currently, which has an appeal of its own I think.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Friggin’ delightful! The corsair looks very moody in that dark colour scheme, I like it a lot. The shipwreck and shipwreck golem are really inspiring, I could also see them appearing from the Wasteland fog as one approaches Marienburg via a treacherous coastal path.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wanted the Corsairs colour scheme to be suggestive of “pirate”, even though the armoured cuirass look isnt what I associate with pirate tropes. It was when I saw a few images of Spanish conquistadors that it all started to make sense to me.

      The shipwreck model is a simple and satisfying project. The golem was a bit more time consuming for several reasons, but certainly not difficult to paint to that standard.

      I wouldn’t have thought of Marienburg in that context (I tended to only skim the WHFB stuff back in the day. I’m only really regularly working on fantasy miniatures since 2016) but it rings bells. I will have to do some research…

      Thanks for the feedback Subedai!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Lovely painted figures with equally great scenery.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. All these sea-themed things (both the above and below the waves varieties) are not really my thing, but you really have something interesting going!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Awesome warband. I really like those nicely weathered bronze giants and, obviously, the shipwreck golem. Stunning piece and didn’t know it before reading your post. You did it justice and I like the subdued colours, while still maintaining enough contrast to make everything distinguishable. Rackham is also a great character and awesome paintjob. The face paint gives me death metal vibes and the weathering of the cloak is equally well executed. All in all really, really good and inspiring collection of models.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry about the delayed response D&B, thanks for the feedback!

      Rackham does have a bit of a KISS vibe actually, now that you mention music.
      The idea with Rackhams colour scheme is that it primarily uses a fairly familiar pirate palette, while also tying it a little to conquistador imagery (to explain why a sailor is so laden down in armour etc). It worked well enough. A warband in that colour scheme would be fun, maybe if corsairs show up in Warhammer Underworlds.

      Most of the work in those figs was loose and fun and they are ready to hit the table at the next opportunity, which is the main thing.

      Tha is again for the feedback and again, sorry that this comment slipped through the cracks until now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries. I didn’t think about it as a corsair or conquistador scheme, but I definitely see what you were going for. Subconsciously it works. I think a warband like that would look great.

        Liked by 2 people

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