Friday, 1 April 2011

The Spirit of Dungeonpunk '85

The word 'Dungeonpunk' is used, often derogatively, to describe the art and character design of 3x D&D.  However, this seems to me to be a slight misnomer and the influence of punk aesthetic on the fantasy genre needs to be reclaimed!

Mohawks, ray-guns and dungeons, oh my! (1984)

Richard Halliwell's pure awesome Dungeonpunk setting for Warhammer: Lustria, where ancient alien astronaut frog-men Slann genetically engineered Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and Halflings  as slaves to fight against the Forces of Chaos. John Blanche designed punkette Amazonian tribeswomen stand tall against hordes of furry booted Nordic invaders. Lustria is a pseudo-historical mash-up of the Vikings discovering North America and the Spanish conquest of South America, with drug taking fanatics and mind-altering technology to boot. Its first appearance is the1982 first citadel compendium in a scenatio titled "the Legend of Kremlo the Slann" The Second Citadel Journal followed through with "Shrine of Rigg" which heavily focussed on the Amazons, but also ran through to the Magnificent Sven scenario in WFB 2nd edition, but unfortunately Citadel give up on it in favour of the more 'traditional' European based Empire in WFB 3rd onwards.

The eventual Lustria Book that surfaced some 20 years later is a pale imitation that takes itself far too seriously and has none of the exotic character of the original, gone are the fearsome Amazon punk women, gone the remnants of the Age of High Technology. Gone, even are the borderline racist charactature of the Pygmies. Note, the ray-gun used by the Koka-kalim Amazon looks suspeciously like a Biker Scout Blaster from Return of the Jedi, and arguably the Amazons did resurface as the Necromunda House Esher gang.

The Anarcho Feminist League of Punks : Citadel C30 Amazons (1984)

What self-respecing mid 80's wargamer wouldn't want to field an army of practically attired, drugged up amazon punk tribeswomen? And who doesn't want to stock their D&D campaigns full of neo-primitive feminist punks? By all indications there were but 13 Amazon miniatures released, with no additions to the range between 1984 and their demise. Dammit got another collecting itch to scratch now...

Piercings and hair spikes: Citadel C20 Trolls (1984)
Dungeonpunk trolls. Bottom right. This guy actually has a full page illustration in WFB 2nd Edition by John Blanche. It's awesome. But right there the multiple ear-piercings, an odd hair spike (with a bone through it). Here's a photo from some lucky guy who has got his hands on this wonderous beast and did a rather natty paintjob on it:

Shakind Bonebender : Dungeonpunk Troll (1984)
Dungeonpunk Troll. I wonder if at some point it was a different digit extended. on the right hand.

Mohawk, piercings, dwarf. (1985)
Dungeonpunk Dwarf: the first Trollslayer in Warhammer history. While, unlike the Amazons and punk trolls, who've gone to the great pogo-dancing club in the sky, the Slayer retains their punk origins right up to the present day. But back in 1985, these were leading the crust-punk neo-celtic revival, with facial tattoos, mohawks, piercings, slightly oversized weapons and everything. 
Kimri Giantslayer : Dungeonpunk Dwarf (1985)
Now, I believe these are the earliest examples of a definitely punk aesthetic being used in a fantasy gaming product. I could be wrong, but cursory examination of zines such as Troll Crusher, Tempestuous Orifice or Underworld Oracle, whilst all displaying the trademark signs of DIY culture don't share much of the punk aesthetic.

So, Dungeonpunk, 25 years strong, and still going!

P.S This was prompted by Matt Finch's interesting post on Dungeonpunk.


  1. I love Dungeonpunk! My first converted miniatures were a bunch of goblin archers with mohawks made from old painted creditcard plastic.

    Was the initial Lustria setting by Rick Priestly or Richard Halliwell? WHFB 3rd editions says Halliwell on p. 196

    The Amazon entry in the WHFB 2nd edition Battle Bestiary is pure WTF! Shuriken pistols? Needlers? What is going on...



  2. Yep, Amazons rock. The Citadel Compendium 2 lists Halliwell as the author of the "Shrine of Rigg" but somewhere between reading it and typing it my brain decided to swap the Rick/Richard around.

    Would love to see your converted goblins, sond great!

    Also, glad to hear there is some positive support for Dungeonpunk out there, I've got at least another 3 posts lined up...

  3. I just put Kremlo the Slann up for sale on today (5th of May 2011) along with some other rares (space santa and the motley crew Death Jester).
    The item number for Kremlo is 290562824634 if anyone is after him. Yes, I know that was a blatant plug but I need to buy some more paint. Nice blog by the way. :)

  4. Ha, ha! No problem, here's a linky: Kremlo the Slann on EBay he's an awesome axe wielding frog-guy, but I've already spent this months meagre hobby-funds (bad Zhu!).