This time I got inspired again by a film I'd seen a couple of weeks before, named "Beowulf & Grendel". The movie deals with the well-known saga not in a particular original way. However, it shows the heroes as real men, set in a quite authentic looking world. It immediately reminded me of John Howe's excellent artworks, who placed his vision in the Vendel or Viking era.
Anyway, the original legend is said to be set in the early 6th century AD. And here, it sparked my interest. As you might remember, a while ago we played a little campaign based on the German Nibelungensage, which, in turn, shares with Beowulf the migration period as its background. So quickly I came up with the idea to put together some scenarios for Beowulf's first adventure. And here I present to you the miniatures I digged out at Lead Mountain:
|Wiglaf, Beowulf & Unferth (upper photo, left to right)|
These figures had been dwelling in their cavern for quite a long time. I can't remember how they were originally called. Now they seem to be labelled as "Tanatus Miniatures", available exclusively from North Star. Excellent figures, top-notch quality both in sculpting and casting, and with very fine details. Admittedly, they are true scale models, their proportions differ significantly from other manufacturers.
|Hondscioh, Ælfhere & Fryd (upper photo, left to right)|
The miniatures are said to be inspired by carvings, which show a battle between Picts and Saxons. That's maybe also why they are all positioned in a similar way, with weapons raised or in a shieldwall-like formation. For some people that might be a drawback.
|Scaife (left) & Fitela|
Paintingwise, clothing follows Late Roman or Germanic fashion, and shield patterns are taken from various sources, most sporting generic Dark Age symbols. The Beowulf saga itself stems from a Christian background, but since the 6th century still was a period of religious transition, I interspersed pagan signs, like ravens and dragons, as well.
|Example of homebrewn stat card|
Last but not least, I had a hard look for a model that could represent Grendel. There are many different interpretations of what is given in the original text. Some describe him as a simply distorted man, others as a giant-sized monster etc. Eventually I chose to use a troll, produced by Otherworld, as portrayed in the D&D roleplay games. I opted for this model because of its deformed and brutish, yet brittle appearance.
Basing was a real pleasure this time. I exclusively used tufts of grass (provided by MiniNatur) which come in different lengths and colours. To this clumps of birch seeds (if that’s the correct term) were added. The bubbling swamp on Grendel’s base was made of small silicate pearls, which you find normally in bags attached to moisture-sensitive products, and several coats of gloss varnish.
|Game-specific encounter markers|
The game played very well. We used, again, Rattrap’s Broadsword Adventures straight from the book, but stripped the magic. Unfortunately, I became so involved as a game master that I couldn’t take photos as well. Maybe I’ll re-stage a few scenes – as there were some quite dramatic ones with Beowulf panicking early on, Wiglaf saving his lord at the last moment from Grendel’s onslaught and so on. In the end we rolled for ‚dramatic value’ (a homebrewn feature) and at least achieved a ‚gripping story’ - second only to an ‚epic’. I take it as a good sign. ;-)
Painted in October/November 2010, models by Tanatus, Otherworld and Reaper.