Saturday, January 13, 2018

Using Northstar's Oathmark Dwarves for Lord of the Rings Battle Companies

"I wish I could muster an army of Dwarves, fully armed and filthy" - Gimli, son of Gloin
Boom! Boom! BOOM! BOOM! Boom! Boom! BOOM! BOOM!”

The rhythmic sound of the goblin war drums carried up from the burning dwarven settlement and reverberated among the crags above. The goblins were too entranced by the dancing flames to look up, but even had they bothered they would not have noticed anything amiss among the boulders and outcroppings overlooking the settlement. A dwarf, tucked partly behind a large gray rock, his stony features almost indistinguishable from the granite beside him, looked down on the victory celebration, gnashing his teeth and weeping in frustration.

Skirfir, son of Nifir, and his small band of dwarf warriors had been away from Khâr Zagâl at the time of the attack, tracking a party of goblin marauders through the mountains surrounding the dwarven town. After nearly three days of following the raiders, they had caught them in a small pass. The fight was vicious, but short, and soon all the goblins but one lay dead. Skirfir's force had not escaped unscathed, suffering three dead and two wounded in the skirmish. As his men tended to their wounded comrades, Skirfir had interrogated the still living goblin. And what he learned chilled him.

The goblin raiding party, though wiped out, had achieved its purpose: to draw the defending scouts away from Khâr Zagâl. At first, Skirfir just stared at the goblin in stunned disbelief. Then the realization that it was the truth hit him like a punch in the gut. During the pursuit, he had wondered what the invaders had hoped to accomplish, raiding so late into the fall. And at times he had felt that tracking the marauders had been too simple, that they were not even making an attempt at covering their tracks. But he had dismissed it, assuming that the goblins had simply grown overconfident and careless, or even plain stupid. In reality, it had been Skirfir himself that had been guilty of overconfidence, and he had underestimated his foe.

As soon as the truth had dawned on him, Skirfir had ordered his dwarves to make ready to return to Khâr Zagâl. Fortunately, both of the wounded were able to walk, although two other warriors were detailed to keep to their slower pace. Skirfir and the remaining Dwarf, Lofar, had made the best possible time back to the outpost. But they had arrived too late to warn their brethren.

From the rocky ledge, Skirfir could see the savages crawling over the structures below. Occasional fights would break out among the goblins over a particularly valuable piece of plunder, or even the remains of one of Skirfir's folk. He could hear the goblins singing, and chanting to the beat of the drumming, as they searched from building to building, with the howls increasing in volume whenever they found a survivor of the attack. Though the pain of helplessness burned deep within him, Skirfir knew that he could do nothing to help his kin. Any rash action would certainly lead only to his death, and the deaths of the dwarves accompanying him, leaving no one to avenge the fallen.

But, he vowed to himself, one day he would return at the head of a great company of dwarves. He would hunt down the rakhâs, and exterminate them. Aye, by Aulë, he would track down this marauding band of goblins and slay every last one. Yes, there would be a day for celebrating, and for singing remembrances to those slain this day. But for that to happen, he and his companions needed to survive, and grow wealthy and strong.

An idea began to form in Skirfir's mind. Recently, tales had begun to be told of a dwarf kingdom that had been retaken, first from a monstrous drake and then from a goblin army. Travelers had spoken of the great war, describing the victory of an alliance of dwarves, men and elves. In this newly restored kingdom, a brave warrior could rise in rank and influence, if he dared. And with that influence, he could draw strong fighters to himself.

After what seemed like hours, Skirfir turned his back on Khâr Zagâl for the last time. He climbed back down from the edge of the cliff and faced the remaining members of his scouting party. “Remember this day, my brothers,” he muttered grimly to his barely visible companions, their grey cloaks pulled low over their faces. “Remember it long, for one day we will have our vengeance. One day the rakhâs will hear 'Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!' But that day will not be soon.”

Skirfir began to walk, away from Khâr Zagâl, away from his former life, into a breeze that dried the tears on his face. As one, his men followed, turning their backs on the smoke rising from Khâr Zagâl into the bright, clear sky.

They headed west. To Erebor.

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Some of the players at the local game shop are getting together a group to play the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game by Games Workshop, specifically Battle Companies (which requires only a handful of models to start).

As usual, I've decided to start a dwarf warband. Since the Games Workshop models are no longer available, we're allowing proxies to be used. I've chosen the wonderful new plastic dwarves from Northstar. The models are designed to be used with the forthcoming Oathmark rules, but are very Tolkien-esque in design and will fit in wherever dwarf models are needed.

Step one is cleaning up the torsos and putting them on bases.I decided to use the Frostgrave plastic bases. Even though the figures are plastic, I still pin them to the bases for security. I know it is probably overkill, but it's been a habit of mine for a long time.


I like my plastic figures to have a little weight to them, so I usually glue the bases onto a 1" washer.


The hole in the washer has the added benefit of being a perfect place to glue a rare earth magnet, as I keep most of my figures in plastic storage bins with metal sheet glued onto the bottom.


 


The Northstar figures are plastic, and are easily customizable. And the parts are readily interchangeable with the other plastic sets from Northstar. For example, the two-handed axes for my dwarves are from the Frostgrave Soldiers set.




The models are easy to assemble, and paint up nicely. On these models I simply primed black, drybrushed chainmail on the armor, painted the base colors and gave them a wash before varnishing. That's it.


 


 




They won't win any prizes, but they are perfectly good for tabletop gaming. I'm looking forward to getting them on a table and smashing some Moria goblins!


'Til next time!
















 
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