So it was the middle of the night, and, unable to sleep, my mind wandered to thoughts of the fantasy trappings of my youth. It’s not entirely easy to describe – though I am sure a million articles on the internet have managed and perhaps one day I will tackle it in depth here – but there was a certain simplicity to much mainstream (mostly American) fantasy in the 1980s of my childhood. It was colorful and uncomplicated, and it was perhaps most of all not without a certain humor. Much of it managed to not take itself entirely too seriously, which is a quality that sometimes seems lost these days.
Anyway, I digress. There I was, laying in bed, thinking of the Dragon magazine Ral Partha adverts and various wizard statues from the comic book pages of my youth, and I was struck by the charm of those miniatures and other contemporary ephemera. Thinking of those cute Gallo and Spoontiques pewter figure advertisements and their like made me want to do something with them, to capture a tiny sliver of that unserious and sincere and sort of innocent air and share it in some sort of useful way.
Naturally, going from that thought to starting a probably irregular Monday-ish column is basically a straight line.
Miniature Monday will be a recurring thing (until I am bored or run out of photos), and it may look something like what follows below:
Helmut the Hireling
Helmut is a rolling stone who has lived a life on the road since a young age. He is experienced as a caravan guard and lately served as a lantern-bearer and camp watchman. He can be met in an alehouse, inn, or lonely roadside camp near you, nursing a gourd of Noorvish Blackwine. Helmut was mistreated by the Rival Adventuring Party very recently, who promised him work and a treasure share but did not deliver on their side of the bargain after some travels together. He values loyalty and kindness, and dislikes being given orders which amount to flagrant suicide or abject evil. He is fascinated by magic.
Equipment: Langemesser (as short sword), quilted heavy gambeson (as leather), tin lantern, cattleman’s gloves, peasant clothes, large pack, wineskin.
Fee: As standard hireling, or half standard wage if approached by a wizard with a CHA bonus; will surrender his earnings back to the party if given the chance to humiliate the Rival Adventuring Party.
Secret: Helmut knows the location of Goblin Gully, because his uncle was an archivist for an order which chronicled the fallen empire. He once followed some ill-fated kids to the entrance and ran away after witnessing a murder. If Helmut guides the party there, he will reveal on arrival that his family knows of a secret room and the trap that guards it.
Another for Good Measure, Why Not – Vizier Gobi
A wily politician at heart, Gobi is the trusted advisor to the local countess after decades advising her father. It is said in hushed whispers far from his earshot that he is a corrupt and selfish man whose silver tongue and alleged consultations with dark forces have shaped the countess away from the free-spirited girl she was before her father’s death and into the sharp-tongued and cynical lady she is today. Many fear him and many more have grudges big and small against judgments handed down from his advice. Despite this, he is nonetheless a high authority in the county and is often in need of trustworthy help.
Stats: As 5th-Level NPC Magic-User, neutral, 16HP; charm person, detect magic, invisibility, hold person.
Secret: Gobi is in fact in league with dark forces, obeying the irregular whispered commands of a spirit he sees when communing with purple flames at a brazier in his sanctum, which he jealously guards. He does not know the origin of the spirit, for it has refused to reveal its nature in the five years he has known it, a fact which worries and shames him and which he is very insecure about. The agenda of the spirit (and therefore, of Gobi) seems to be to drive out strong-willed types and sow division in the county so a long-lost cult can resurface. To this end, Gobi is chipping away at the foundation – literal and figurative alike – of the local church.
Opportunity: Gobi needs help, and traveling adventurers make good, deniable – and disposable – helpers.
|1||Highwaymen have been robbing functionaries of the county. Undisclosed: they’re doing so to retrieve embezzled funds and donate them to the local convent, which has stopped receiving donations from the countess.|
|2||There is talk of a cult, and Gobi wants it investigated. Undisclosed: the cult is an ancient order of diabolists arrayed against Gobi’s unseen spectral master – though they work for a similar, competing entity.|
|3||A witch is on the run and wanted dead or alive for crimes against nature. Undisclosed: the witch is a young girl favored by the unknown spirit, and Gobi is jealous of her and wants her eliminated to consolidate his own position.|
|4||Rumors speak of a monster attended by bestial men deep in the recesses of the gulch. Undisclosed: several groups have been sent to slay the monster, but none have returned, quite by design; Gobi is feeding fools to the monster to help it grow.|
A Request to the Audience
For now, I have found some repositories of old-school miniatures to ransack for future NPCs, but I am sure there’s a limit I’ll find eventually that necessitates a fresh infusion of material. So, I turn to yall in hopes of securing some additional resources.
- Have vintage (1970s-early 90s), ideally painted fantasy minis, such as those by Ral Partha or Grenadier or the like and especially minis of villagers/peasants/barmaids/royals/merchants/etc, AND
- Have the ability to snap some photos of them, AND
- Don’t mind me writing up a character sketch and adventure hooks or similar traits based on your miniatures,
then please reach out to me with some photos and I’ll add them (with appropriate attribution, naturally) to my library to pull from! Don’t think you need professional quality paintjobs, either; the unsophisticated charm of your earliest attempts at daubing paint on pewter is genuinely deeply appreciated here in this tiny corner of the internet. So please, send them along – you can make contact via the Summon The Possums widget at the bottom of this page (which will get to my email inbox and I’ll respond there, if you prefer to email the photos) or by hitting me up on Twitter or Instagram DMs (if you prefer to send the files that way).
Hopefully I can immortalize some of your tiny little folks with fresh eyes and interpretations!