The difference detail makes

I subscribe to the theory that there should be three levels of visual impact in any architectural project. The overall picture, the individual "snapshot" areas of interest, and the ornamental details within each snapshot.

The images above show the first level of detail, the bigger picture. Fine as a basic play piece but it feels lacking, dead. 

Scattering a bit of static grass and a few pebbles is all it takes to breathe life in to a bit of scenery. This is a well known and obvious observation I know, but I was struck at the improvement the detail made to this tile myself. I wasn't loving it until yesterday's finishing session.

Savage Orc Stronghold/Gatehouse finished and a bit more fluff

Finally finished the detailing on my Orc Stronghold. I'm still calling it a stronghold even though it's utility has evolved during the physical construction of the narrative I'm building for the board. It is now a toll both on an ancient highway. The only way to traverse a fast flowing, white hot lava river.

I intend to build a world that has more depth than the B movie mythos from which it draws much of it's aesthetic.

I think my ancient world has a globalised society a lot like our own, with intermingling cultures and races spread all over the planet. The technology level is stone, and the international population is a lot lower than our own, although it is more diverse in terms of intelligent species. Where we have one, Savage Lands has thousands.

Magick and remote viewing powers are common, as well as intelligent beings with the power of (winged) flight, meaning that the global continental layout has been known for as long as anyone can remember. 

The location and cultural oddities of each locale are fuzzily present in the back of the average citizen's mind (much like the average man on the street today). There are nothing as crude as national boundaries however, cultures, languages and traditions blend together over vast, fantastical prehistoric landscapes. There are crazy stories of far off lands, exotic peoples and unimaginable weirdness. All the superstitious, wild and seemingly exaggerated travellers tales are true in this world of myth and gigantic monster. 

This ancient network of cultures is linked by thousands of trade routes of different sizes. Some always have (pre-wheel) traffic, and others are almost disused, with dangerously under maintained pathways populated with bandits and lowlifes. There is no police force or central ruling body, the land is lawless, or rather each situation is dealt with according to local tribal custom.

There is no problem with pollution or overcrowding, and capitalism is still at the level of bartering. The richest members of society having more livestock than their neighbour, they also occupy man made or even fortified dwellings. These individuals are unusual however, and tend to collect around the trade routes, exploiting the footfall of the ancient world's busiest thoroughfares.

The idea of capitalism has not taken full hold of the collective consciousness yet. The tribal centres, their populations never bigger than two hundred, are for the most part not in touch with the idea of property gain and retention. Skilled craftsmanship, and specialised areas of expertise are shared freely among the tribal kin. Most races still prefer to forage and hunt dinosaurs for sustenance, but there are some who exploit greed, necessity or the weakness of others in order to survive, and for those in the know there is a thriving network of barterers, traders and black market dealers spanning the the whole ancient world.

Foreign weapons, spices, timbers, livestock and magickal wares are much sought after for their exoticism, despite serving similar purposes to their local counterparts.

This is a global culture on the ascension but it has it's problems. Magick "technology" is getting better, but with magickal items becoming more and more easily accessible to the inexperienced, and the lure of the open road never greater now the highways have become so well maintained, the young, the foolish and the brave are travelling ever further from the familiarity of traditional tribal life. Further towards danger, daring and bikini clad adventure.

There are also societal problems in the "bad parts of town". The shanty villages that accumulate around crossroads and necessary passes are full of beggars, muggers and people addicted to magickal herbs and fungi, bartered for dinosaur blood in back "street" shamanic drug dens. Language is on the cusp of becoming written, road signs are the first examples of this. With the network of roads came the need for warnings of perils ahead, landslides, rock falls and bandit country were among the first uses of written words. 

Pretty much all the detail on this tile is GW. From the resin skulls sprue, the Savage Orc kit, the Temple Guard sprue and the Mordeheim tufts box. The punctured cadaver is a mantic zombie from a sprue donated by hybrid horde. The Archaeopteryx feasting on his entrails is from Tamiya. His wingspan is the same as a human man. 

The graffiti on the Orc Gatehouse is just the name of the Orc scammer that runs the gatehouse. It is his name expressed as a threat. Any written word is read as a warning at this time. As a result most travelling people are "literate" as there are only a handful of written words, themselves derived from pictograms.

There are a few hints that this gatehouse is not a place to stay for long....

Stay tuned for the big reveal later this week. Until you see all three tiles together it's hard to see this as point on an ancient trail. I'm pretty sure it's going to work and has a suitably dangerously gritty but humourous vibe. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the rickety bridge under construction in the background. This is the bridge that the Orcs control for their personal gain. They Guarantee "safe" passage at a cost. The board is two nights away from completion...

The narrative of my game will take place mainly on these highways, between strange and diverse cultural centres. The next village we encounter will be the underground Mushroom Kingdom. 


Lava River & Fissure to the Under Earth WIP

Guideline build, took this to remember how the blocks went together. Ended up forgetting straight away and putting it back together "wrong".

Hence the spacers at the top right and bottom left.

This awesome section of wall was done by my good friend hybrid horde. 

By carving in to the wall with a knife and pinning extra humps and bumps to the surface, an interesting and dynamic effect is achieved quite quickly and easily. The less you plan the better the effect I find.

T-rex and Copplestone Cave-woman for scale.

Improvements on the fissure and small entrance.

The (basically) finished article. I pinned it all together with kebab skewers and glued it with PVA wood glue. The whole lot is glued and tacked to a thin piece of MDF from the back of a cheap bit of furniture. 

Just got to add some real stones and sand and fill the lava river with some all purpose filler and it'll be ready for finishing. Very pleased with this so far. It's going to be the entrance to an underground civilisation of mushroom men, accessable only by the hole at the top via a rickety wooden bridge, high above the lava.

Naff little flyby of the tile.


GW Agrellan Earth Test

I decided to just go for it and throw it straight on to my Orc quarry tile. I put on a reasonably thick layer, 1-1.5 mm. This is probably the max thickness, in fact I'm pretty sure it will break away after being stomped on a few times with plastic bases, so maybe 1mm depth is the best option. Dry mud would break after prolonged stomping anyway so I'm not too bothered. 

I put some extra tufts around the dried puddle, figuring that the places where water would collect - the base of rock formations and natural low points in the landscape - would be where the grass grew.


Savage Orc Quarry tile

I bought some polystyrene from this little bit of antenocitis workshop. If anyone knows a cheaper scource of this stuff please tell me. Its not extortionate, but there must be a way of buying bulk from a home insulation wholesalers or something (surely). This tile took six A4 (a British paper size) chunks of 50mm thick styrofoam to make it, four for the base and two for the rocks. I threw on a few real stones from the beach for added detail.

To form the rocks I just hacked at the stuff with a semi-blunt kitchen knife. Something about the way it responds to the jagged violence of the knife leaves effects akin to weathering, crude Orcish tool marks and the shearing power of tectonic plate movement.

I was hoping for a more sandy desert finish rather than the grey colour that it ended up, but it suits the Orcs and thier stone based weapons better this way anyway.

I added GW Mordeheim Tufts and some tall grass from a model railway shop around the bases of the rock formations, figuring the water would run off them, hydrating the soil below and welcoming the grass seed that collected there. The last picture was taken before I put the tufts in place.

Savage Orc Bodyguard

Wood and stone body armour, made from spare shields and repurposed weapon heads. The two bodyguards of the Big Boss are like moving walls. The other one is here.

Savage Orc Stronghold

Loose practice construction. I had no plans for this, just started making shapes and building it up. I wanted a Flintstonesesque effect on the Orc stronghold. It's as if they've corralled a load of giants in to heaping up the crude stones they've hewn out of the quarry they dwell in.

I took these pictures to have a reference for the construction after I took it apart to pretty up the blocks.

Not got around to detailing it yet, I will be adding grass, small stones and Orcish graffiti. It's painted in the same way as the quarry tile. The ground has beach sand mixed with it for texture.