Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A Roman Saga V

No warband – no Roman one in particular – would be complete without a heroic leader. The man who stepped up when duty called was M. Fabius Felicianus Vindex, centurion of the Fourth Severan Legion. (I held this post back for quite some time, so better brace yourself for lengthy remarks – or just scroll forward to the pictures. ;-) )

Felicianus' command comprises several units detached from other troops. Each of these subunits, even if made up of a few men, would be considered a vexillatio (marching under their respective standard or vexillum). Such detachments could eventually become separate units, or they were assembled to new formations. In both cases they would henceforth simply be called numerus, a 'number of men'. Their commanding officer could be of any rank, appointed at an ad hoc basis and thus non-specificly named a 'headman' (praepositus).

Of course, every warlord needs a story. This time I created some catchwords using the Dux Britanniarum character generator. It's only a few dice rolls, but it turned up some quite interesting aspects. Felicianus has gained the position of praepositus at the tender age of 22. Being that young his commission might have been bought or inherited (building a career over several generations was presumably common practice) from his father, an equestrian and most likely a distinguished officer himself. However, Felicianus' father made political enemies as well and became an exile recently – not an unusual fate in the troubled times of the dawning 3rd century. Consequently, Felicianus' funds were melted down at the same rate as his determination grew to avenge his family's dishonour. This not-so-secret agenda earned him the nickname of Vindex, the Avenger…

On second thought, this draft (which exclusively uses what said generator coughed up) resembles a well-known story line by Rosemary Sutcliff. So maybe TFL provided the wannabe novelist with a nice tool? Apart from the fluffy bits, the model itself was taken from Aventine's set of alternative legionary command figures. It's featured there as a standard bearer, but from first sight I imagined the man as my commanding officer. That's not the least due to his fancy helmet, a face mask type from Germany, conventionally considered to be 'sports equipment'. However, tests with reconstructions have shown that they were as durable as normal combat gear and offered better protection while being not that great a hindrance to vision and ventilation as expected. This particular piece (imitating Alexander the Great wearing a Corinthian helmet) also follows closely the construction of regular Niederbieber type helmets. So why not use it in anger?

SAGA and many other skirmish systems allow your character models to be mounted. Quite fortunately, there's an almost perfect match to this model in A&A's range – so it's by the same sculptor as well! The only "conversion" needed was to give the rider a bigger shield and remodel its boss into a tiny face. Biggest challenge, though, was to duplicate the design I'd chosen. It is once again inspired by an original found at Dura Europos (actually, only a watercolour sketch by the excavator has been preserved). The shield bears a - rather battered - image of an unidentified god, maybe Mars or Mithras. In my "reconstruction" I equipped him with a stylised helmet (probably indicating a Niederbieber type) as seen on the synagogue paintings from the same place. His right hand, now lost, probably held a laurel, but I simply chose a gesture of blessing or command.

Given his background, Felicianus is proudly displaying signs of his social rank: purple stripes (angusticlavi), boots of reddish leather (calcei equestres) and, when dismounted, the hasta pura, a ceremonial spear awarded to equestrian officers (often imperatorial protégés). His all-white dress would be normally reserved to ceremonial duties (as seen, again, on a wallpainting from Dura), but I wanted the leader to really stand out on the tabletop.

As I said, there are only very few differences between the two versions of Felicianus. If notable at all, the detailing of the A&A model is less sharp and pronounced than with Aventine's. Unfortunately, without major remodelling the mounted figure wouldn't fit onto the rearing horse I originally intended to use. So, in order to add some "drama", a severed head was fixed to the saddle. This had been taken off an hapless Frankish warrior from the bits box. Headhunting wasn't that alien to civilised Romans as we might like to think (for reference see this depiction on the column of Marcus Aurelius). Here it is also a grim nod to my regular opponent, Hazel's Germanic warband, as well as to Felicianus' home legion, a detachment of which campaigned in Northern Germany in c. 235 AD (as indicated by a pickaxe recently excavated at the Harzhorn site).

Finally, after our first test game of SAGA I decided to have a few special dice as well. As we use the unaltered battleboards, the symbols are set. However, they were "Romanised" a bit while still resembling the original designs for easy recognition. The decals were then printed on a sheet of address labels, cut out and pasted onto blank dice. I chose indented ones to make the stickers more durable. Honourable mention has to be made of Owen from farfaraway.org who came up with the original idea.

And hereby my starter "army" for SAGA is finished. But fear not (or rather be prepared?): reinforcements are underway and updates to follow. The Roman fever has caught me again!

Painted July to August 2012. Miniatures by Aventine Miniatures, A&A Miniatures and Wargames Foundry.


Rosbif said...

Lovely work!

He'll have a positive effect on any troops he leads just by turning up; So heroic!

Thomas said...

Beautiful! Outstanding! And the miniatures are also very nice ;)
I like your stories and background information as much as your paintjob, although my interest in Romans is very limited (I'm just too much into everything Greek...).

Engel said...

Another great painted miniature!

BigRedBat said...

Once again, lovely painting! I particularly like the spear and the mud on the cloak.

commissarmoody said...

I might have to steal your idea. Both of them are vary inspiring.

Brummie said...

They are both very handsome paintjobs there. Really like the weather on the cloak. Great work!

Dalauppror said...

Stunning paint voer Tilman !!!

Lovely handpainte shield !!!

+++++ for the home made dice, looking realy good. are you using the Anglo-Danish battleboard for the Romans and the Vikings for the Barbarians?

Realy looking forward a AAR:)

Best regards Michael

Bedford said...

Very nice painting on that Roman chap.


Andrew said...

Wow, fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Damn you. Damn you again for doing what I'd love to but in a quality that will surpass anything i could ever do.

This entire blog has been outstanding, this work just cements it.

On an honestly personal note the moment I saw you use the hadderhiem hlelmet my heart melted, I have adored that thing since the day I saw it.

Sire Godefroy said...

Cheers, guys! :-)

Dalauppror, well spotted regarding the Romanised Anglo-Danish design. Though, I've used the Anglo-Saxon board, for it fits some of my views on Roman warfare best (within the limits of this fantasy system, of course).
No AAR in sight, sadly. We're still learning the rules, so the games make no good read. Apart from that, we're not playing that often, and when we do, there are several projects to choose from. You see…



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