Tuesday 26 March 2013

On the Hlýss origin of the Tyranid

Ordo Xenos Astropath signals from the ancient warp-isolated Tékumel system report standard xenomorphic genetic dominance:

Tyranid | WH40K:RT | 1988
Hlýss | Empire of the Petal Throne | 1975
Local devolved Administorium have recorded "...the Hlýss are inquisitive and greedy for magical devices and weapons, and occasionally sail forth in their hive-like ships (made of the same bodily secretion) to seek items of interest and food for their young. Each nest-ship and each settlement contain at least one of their huge breeder-females—the ‘Hlýss-Mother’."

The fossil record shows the evolution of the Hlýss to have predated the discovery of the Acheron (LV-426) xenomorph (rf: secretions-construct / hive-mother / morphic resonance) by 4 years.

Hail the Emperor!


Sunday 24 March 2013


If you're not aware Kevin Adams (the miniatures sculptor) was attacked in a viscous assault and robbed in his own home a few nights ago. For more information go to the Goblinaid facebook page.

It really makes one sad and angry, but this blog isn't really the place for me to vent such things...

Instead let's wind the clock back to 1985, where "Best Diorama" at the Citadel Open Day - which would eventually grow into the Golden Demon painting competition - was won by a young Kevin Adams, which would be reported in the June issue of White Dwarf (#66) by wargaming and miniatures stalwarts Joe Dever and Gary Chalks regular miniatures column Tabletop Heroes, which was eagerly devoured by the young Zhu. This is the first  appearance of the Adams work in print, and it is the attention to detail in the piece and the naturalism of the vegetation both being given duly high praise by Messrs. Dever & Chalk - and rightly so - it oozes pastoral charm, a rural idyll broken only by the squeal of hogs, the clanking of wheels and the maniacal laughter of goblins! 

Tabletop Heroes

Forgive the camraphone photo of a printed magazine page from the 80s. It's rather blurry, so here are some better photos of the model (sculpted by the Perry's in the 1970s) if not the award winning diorama itself:

Gnoll Kings Chariot - Perry Bros -1979 | via

And after that, Kev evidently got a job sculpting orcs and goblins at Citadel Miniatures and painting them green, doing his own version of the Goblin Kings Chariot, some amazing snotlings, several war machines, and earning himself the title "Goblinmaster".

Goblin Kings Chariot / Kevin Adams

I'd go as far as saying the contemporary orc as seen in World of Warcraft, etc. is largely the invention of Kevs during this period, and has only in the last decade had any serious contenders (being Jacksons LotR versions). After some time he left Citadel and sculpted all manner of things, including orcs and goblins for a whole host of miniatures companies too (see here for a list and links), including these little beauties sometime in the mid-late 00s:

Pig Faced Orcs  sculpted by Kevin Adams

This year otherworld released the first of a series of dungeon adventurers,  including the DAB1 boxed set, entirely sculpted by Kevin Adams, and featuring packaging design by me, which is something the Tabletop Heroes reading Zhu of 1985 would have been as thoroughly chuffed about as much as the Zhu of 2013 is.

Otherworld DAB1 sculpted by Kevin Adams

Various luminaries in the wargaming community have banded together to raise funds to help Kev get through this under the banner of Goblinaid which is fantastic, and also typical of the family spirit of the gaming community. Kev, you're a legend, don't let the bastards get you down.

Monday 18 March 2013

Otherworld Spring Sale

Otherworld Miniatures have just announced a Spring Sale, from 10% to 30% off many miniatures

Lizardmen Warriors II £6.66

Cavemen Warriors I £9

Hmm, bit of a Lost World theme there, so best mention some of the classic D&D style monsters Otherworld are known for.

Eye of  Terror £11.20

There are loads of other offers so worth poking around. Sale runs to the end of the month, and really thinking about adding in some monsters to the Adventurer sets... Otherworld Miniatures

Friday 15 March 2013

On the Tsolyánu origins of the Druchii

Tsolyáni Crossbowmen - MAR Barker | Legions of the Petal Throne 1977 | via The Tekumel Project

Dark Elf | Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd Edition circa 1987 | via CCM Wiki

Of course, there may be a historical precedent that both these designs are drawing from and the designs are not 100% matches, but the similarities are striking. Were GW producing Tekumel proxies, is there a historical precedent for both these designs, or just coincidence?

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Advanced Character Sheets from the Oubliette

The Oubliettes 1978 style character sheets have arrived, so I grabbed a pan, a pencil, and rolled up a Gnomish Fighter!

1E AD&D PHB | Barrowmaze Dice | Rotring 600 Pencil | Oubliette Character Sheets

How was using the sheet in character creation? Well it's nicely laid out and very clear. Some of the attributes aren't in the same order as they're displayed in the DMG, so I did make a few mistakes rolling through, but I consoled myself I was having a near genuine 1970s British Old School  experience. The quality of the paper (not too heavy or light, 125gsm I'm guessing, but I'm bad at guessing paper weights) is good and the print is matte, flat and black, with super crispy edges. All in all very nice, and I'm really happy with them.

Up until now, all the "iconics" for the RoZ / Bearoak campaign were randomly created using the Official AD&D Dungeon Masters Assistant II program from SSI. Randomly generated iconics? Why, yes, as examples of avatars and pregenerated characters of course they are randomly generated. Now all I need to do is write up a background for my Gnomish Fighter and do a portrait...

Character Sheet

Dieter Rams Record Player | via SwissMiss

OK, and  finally plug for Peters A7, 7mm graph paper pad, dubbed  The Pad of Geomorphic Intent, currently funded at £441 with 62 Backers.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Oldhammer: T-Shirts of Chaos: Spring Summer 2013

Announcing the arrival of Spring / Summer 2013 Oldhammer T-Shirts have in the Shop of Zhu

Click for bigger!

This season, we pay homage to one of the one of the finest pieces of graphic design to have graced a gaming product. Ever. And celebrate 25 years of the seminal manual of dice-rolling for mature readers that is  The Realm of Chaos.

A grimy and baroque design classic, which has held it's own in the hearts of gamers for over quarter of a century. Our inspiration for Spring and Summer 2013, is, of course, the classic  Realm of Chaos masthead from the demented pen of John Blanche.

The marque has a dark and somewhat obscure history.  It made it's debut appearance gracing the front cover of the very first edition of Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness to wide acclaim.

This style was also seen in several White Dwarf advertisements and "Illuminations" articles for the difficult second book in the Realms of Chaos duology, the evocatively sub-titled Lost and the Damned. Yet this innovative styling was eventually left on the cutting room floor.

rare shot of the original Lost and Damned version

By late 1989 Realms of Chaos was swiftly becoming  something of a multi-media project, nay a cultural phenomenon: as much an exquisite nightmare filled thematic fantasy art book as an exercise in random number generation and an extended meditation on the dehumanising effects of conflict. The Realms of Chaos gradually expanded to encompass all the major art-forms of western civilisation, from game to dramatic performance through role-play, costume and fashion, to sculpture and the visual arts until finally music came under its sway.  The expression of Chaos was to emerge in the gatefold sleeve concept album to go along with it, by seminal grindcore / war-metal band Bolt Thrower.

Yet, where once 'Thrower were clad in black and white avant-punk visions of war as hell with their first albumn "In Battle There Is No Law", The Realms of Chaos takes a much cleaner, more polished approach than t and the somehow more soulless "volcano" logo appears:

Cleaner Volcano Logo  | Via

The "volcano" logo also appears on the second edition of Slaves to Darkness and also on the Lost and the Damned. It's much glossier, neater and ultimately safer. The original could be said to be slightly hard to read, but as an expression of all that the Realms of Chaos stands for; destruction, mutation, randomness, magic and war, no single graphic or illustration can claim to be as iconic or definitive. Perhaps we are seeing Games Workshops final turning away from the spiky hard black edged underground aesthetic, from the baroque and grimy towards a more commercial, colourful family friendly aesthetic that would shortly dominate the primary coloured box sets of monopose plastic armies of Warhammer for a generation through 4th and 5th editions, before the final return and ultimate triumph of Grim Dark.

Bolt Thrower however, were not content to leave the marque to languish festering in its grave, and resurrected the characeristic calligraphic stylings (no doubt through some arcane and depraved necromantic rite) for various pieces of merchandise over the years and more recently for their charity gig "Bolt Fest" in 2012.

Bolt Thrower

But what is myth, but a history of a time to come?

Armour ov Khaös SV:5+
AKA Oldhammer T-shirt

The new Oldhammer T-shirt designs as ever these are limited to 22 pieces, and are priced at £15, once they've gone, they're gone. These are using a different print process to the original Oldhammer T-shirts, and apparently will give a nice retro feel. There are still some limited stock of the original first edition "in battle there is no law" available, and I've also added two bags, which may (or may not) fit some rulebooks and minis in...

Please note, all fulfillment is done by Spreadshirt, and they accept 15-day returns. I do not keep stock of these items at all, and please do drop a note to say if you've ordered one, as they pass over no customer details at all.

Oldhammer: Warbands of Chaos.
It's an album cover concept for a compilation concept album that doesn't exist.

In the true spirit of '88-89,  I've started putting together collective Oldhammer Soundtrack Spotify Mixtape a rather anti-social mix of heavy metal, grindcore, punk, space-rock, techno, hip-hop and pop music, from the likes of Motorhead, Hawkwind, Bolt Thrower, Napalm Death, Toyah, Grand Master Flash. The concept is either music directly inspired by Warhammer,  music around Warhammer themes, or music that you think may have inspired Warhammer. If you're on Spotify, i've set it as a collaborative play-list so you can add to it if you like, please do, or send me tracks (cheers Warlord Paul - Sabbath! Maiden!) and I'll add them in.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Khaös Warband: Children of the Red Redemption

Another potential theme for my Khaös warband. This is a kind of childrens picture-book theme. Brian Jaques, Kenneth Grahame, C.S. Lewis, Allison Uttley, Beatrix Potter. Just the sort of thing Realms of Chaos was obviously intended for!


 Beastmen : Splintered Light Foxes

Beastmen : Splintered Light Squirrels

 Beastmen : Splintered Light Foxes
 Beastmen : Splintered Light Foxes

10 Wolves : Otherworld Wolfpack (again)

Forest Troll | Warploque Miniatures

Humans and Champion | Hasslefree Medival Kids

I think the Splintered Light Foxes and Squirrels by Bob Olley speak for themselves. Cute!

Paint up the Otherworld wolves in red and white as giant foxes to tie in the whole warband together thematically. Of course, these would be very large, very well fed foxes. There are a lot of modern wolf types, but they do all tend to be snarling tooth and claw, whereas these fellas just look like animals, and well suited for a kid friendly set.

I'd also want a quite friendly looking troll for the childrens theme, something from a John Bauer illustration or a Maurice Sendaks Where the Wild Things Are... but I don't think anyone makes good proxies of those.  Warploques Trolls are a touch too grotesque for this theme, but also have heaps of charm, and that storybook quality. I've been after these models since Warpy first started showing them off, but don't really have much of a project to fit them in so it's a good excuse to buy one.  In The Hobbit, Trolls turn to stone in daylight, so the temporal effect could be provided by painting him half stone. Levitating? hmm...

Hasselfrees Medieval Kids for the 3 humans.   to tie into the fox theme, perhaps general earth-tones  with orange/red and white accents, perhaps orange red hair.

Hasslefree Medieval Kids "Edmund" | via
Can't you just see this little bugger painted up like a Child of the Red Redemption, complete with Khorne skull rune on his shield and palid sickly complexion...

Overall, an excuse to get some figures I've wanted for ages anyway and just haven't finished off any of my other mini projects at all, so have kept putting off buying them and a chance support some independant miniature companies in the name of Oldhammerism. Total cost £75, plus postagey bits.