Sunday 26 May 2024

Devilry Afoot - folk horror monster-hunting preview


Devilry Afoot
 is due to be published towards the end of the summer so page-setting and final proofing is well underway. Some of the the photography still needs to be completed, but we are almost there. The preview pages here are still works in progress, but should give a taste of what's to come.

Devilry Afoot is a game that takes as its premise the questionable notion that the fears which percolated through 16th and 17th century Europe were wholly justified; that ungodliness and moral corruption manifested as an evil that could be countered with religious fervour. The rules, character creation, and monster profiles are all heavily themed around the folk beliefs of early modern Western Europe.

Players take on the role of a small party of self-righteous monster hunters in (mostly) co-operative or solo scenarios to try to defeat the creatures of the night. The monsters are automated using a simple but effective matrix based on their proximity to humans and a single die roll.

When creating their characters, players choose an archetype (gentleman, goodman/goodwife, scholar, soldier, or religious) which provides a basic profile and outlines how the character can develop. For example, a gentleman starts with no discernible skills, but more money than any other character and with a follower in tow; a soldier may start with a trait, or a skill chosen from the hunting or martial skillsets, but may never learn scholarly skills. The money a character starts with, and earns as they complete bounties, allows them to buy equipment. While some archetypes will be more skilled with certain pieces of equipment, there are no restrictions limiting who may use what.

Each character also rolls randomly for a secret. Secrets are little quirks that the character wouldn't want their in-world companions to know, but which might have very real in-game consequences. A doubting character will find it more difficult to quote scripture and be more easily intimidated by monsters, a lustful character is more susceptible to charms, a slovenly character can't run as fast, while a secret witch might find their own objectives in a scenario at odds with their colleagues.

The rules employ a randomised activation system and are d10 based. Each player will roll 2d10 to try to activate their characters, while most other die rolls use a single 1d10. 

The game is played on a modestly sized table - only 2'x2' (60x60cm) allowing for plentiful terrain to create dangerous shadows and places for monsters to skulk. There are 13 scenarios given as examples in the book, some have prescribed monsters to be hunted (or avoided), while others have multiple options. There are bounties set for each type of monster - from the 10 shillings awarded for each wolf slain, to 100 shillings for killing a vampyre - and guidelines as to how many hunters should be on the table (i.e. no more than one character for every 15 shillings worth of bounty available at the end of the hunt). The randomised initiative and monster action systems means that no two games should ever play out the same way.

The campaign system allows characters to gain experience and renown, develop new skills, attract followers and buy better equipment, but also accrue injuries, and more dark secrets.

There is now a Facebook group set up for those interested in following the game and joining in the discussions:

Do you're miniature heroes have what it takes to stare evil in the face and walk away unchanged?

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Evil tree and more innocents for Devilry Afoot

Finishing up the last of the pieces i need to cover every eventuality in Devilry Afoot, I've now completed an evil tree and more innocent civilians/werewolf food.

Evil trees are static terrain pieces in Devilry Afoot that have the ability to lash out and cause harm to humans who stray too close. This pretty splendid evil tree is a 3D print sculpted by Dragon Trappers Lodge and sold as an Awakened Tree. He might be awake, but he's certainly not happy about it... 

I've also completed four more innocents to give me a total of eight. These four are from Wargames Foundry. They are all pretty characterful, although the shepherd is perhaps a little flat of face.

The Foundry miniatures mix pretty well with the Crucible Crush Productions figures, they are a bit heftier, but give good variety, for sure don't we all come in different shapes and sizes? 

Monday 20 May 2024

Devilry Afoot - 13 game campaign (session 2)

Following on from the first three hunts, our intrepid band of monster hunters (Fr. Hans and Goodman Gruber, Colonel Clijsters, Dr Midnite and his faithful follower Betty) set out to once more take on the forces of Evil.

Scenario 4) Wolves in sheep’s clothing
Over recent months, livestock has been mysteriously slaughtered in the night and a young farm hand in the neighbouring parish has now gone missing. Hearing a wild commotion in the dark of night, several foolhardy villagers leave their homes to brave the night and come together in the village centre. As the dark shapes mill about in confusion, it soon becomes clear that all is not right.

Suffice to say, this hunt did not exactly go as planned. Two werewolves revealed themselves before the crowd of innocents managed to disperse. One made its way towards the hunters on the riverbank, while the other started to massacre the NPCs. Ineffective pistol fire and worse sword-play saw seven innocents killed by one of the beasts, while both Fr Hans and Gruber were mauled by the other werewolf before the party scattered and fled into the night.

While both hunters seemed to recover from their injuries - once again, Dr Midnite proving his worth - both now carry the wolf-bitten secret meaning that they have improved speed and ferocity, but are only one bad dice roll away from turning into werewolves themselves.

Scenario 5) Iconoclasm
Deep in the woods, far from the churches and meeting houses that stand as beacons of God’s light, dark figures flit as shadows between trees, dancing, and worshipping, and sacrificing to far older gods. For light to prevail, the source of the darkness must be destroyed.

This scenario saw the party once more facing off against a coven of witches, this time supported by a nest of ghouls. Colonel Clijsters decided to take matters into his own hands and set off to distract the ghouls, trusting his allies to topple the pagan altar in the centre of the clearing. While his skill as a duellist enabled him to wound both of the beasts, in the end he was badly wounded and his resolve failed him, fleeing from his foes' intimidating posturing. 

Meanwhile, both Fr Hans and Dr Midnite found that their lustful secrets handicapped them greatly as the witches proceeded to cast a variety of charms whilst summoning numerous imps. Goodman Gruber showed his metal, smiting the imps and killing a witch. The first cracks then appeared in the monsters' dominance. Dr Midnite and Betty managed to finish off a ghoul each, Fr Hans quoted scripture in such a way as to force one of the witches to flee, leaving the badly wounded Col. Clijsters to swing once more into action, charging and slaying the last witch.

Five scenarios in, the party is surprisingly still unscathed. Metaphorically at least - they almost all bear horrific scars and hope never to have to relive their mental torments, but they bear no long lasting injuries to impact on their performance. Having killed two ghouls and two witches, they are now flush with silver shillings for the first time, and all have received multiple experience upgrades leaving them ready for the more serious challenges ahead!

Sunday 12 May 2024

Devilry Afoot - Redcaps and wolves

I've recently been concentrating on page-setting the manuscript for Devilry Afoot, but the last of my miniatures for the game are also slowly getting finished up. Here are three redcaps, and a pack of three wolves.

Redcaps are a particularly vicious and resentful breed of fairy folk – wicked goblins that either serve wicked masters or stalk lonely ruins looking for wayward travellers whose blood they use to dye their caps. Despite their iron-shod feet, redcaps are surprisingly fleet of foot and almost impossible to outrun.

These redcaps are some of the most fun miniatures I've painted in ages. They are actually 3D printed goblins from Highlands Miniatures, but almost certainly inspired by the redcaps of Scottish folklore with their pointed caps, pole-arms and steel boots. 

As the primordial hunter of man, wolves have long been feared for their cunning and aggression. With haunting howls and sharp, predatory eyes, the nocturnal predators stalk the fringes of farmland waiting for the opportunity to strike, carrying of livestock and unwary humans alike.

These wolves are from Crooked Dice. They are deceptively simple sculpts that really come to life with a touch of paint.

Monday 6 May 2024

28mm Seleukid royal command

Here is another command stand for ProjectSeleukid - this time a royal party consisting of a king and shield-bearer from Aventine Miniatures, and a queen carried on a litter by Checkpoint Miniatures (CP Models). I went with a purple a colour scheme as I dared to indicate just how very royal the royal couple are.

This base will not be used for the planned Magnesia scenario, a) because I am running the left flank commanded by Seleukos (future Seleukos IV, but in 190 BC still just the heir apparent), and b) because radiate crowns are not a feature of Seleukid iconography until c.170/169 BC, midway through the reign of Antiochos IV Epiphanes (Seleukos IV's younger brother). 

Technically speaking, only a small number of Seleukid king's used the divinising feature: Antiochos IV,  Alexander I, Antiochos VI, Alexander II, Antiochos VIII, and Demetrios III. Here's something I wrote a while ago on the matter LINK

I intentionally set the king figure slightly back on the base to make it a bit ambiguous as to whether he was the most important or powerful figure present. From the middle of the 2nd century BC, Kleopatra Thea and her nieces Kleopatra IV, Kleopatra Tryphaneia, and Kleopatra Selene were to take leading rolls in propping up respective husbands, sons, and step-sons who became husbands. On balance, this is most likely to be Alexander I Balas and Kleopatra Thea (150-145 BC), or Antiochos VIII Grypos and Kleopatra Thea (125-121 BC), but I'm happy to be a little flexible on that! ­čśü

Sunday 5 May 2024

Devilry Afoot - 13 game campaign (session 1)

With the completion of Devilry Afoot fast approaching, we set out to run through all 13 scenarios included in the rules as a single campaign, following the same party of hunters as they struggle against the forces of darkness.

The starting hunting party consisted of four characters:
  • Fr. Hans, a devout but lustful religious;
  • Goodman Gruber, a gallant goodman who's slovenly nature is tempered by his penitence;
  • Dr Midnite, a lustful physician and astrologer;
  • Colonel Clijsters, a retired soldier and skilled duellist, who's experiences on the Continent have left him doubting his faith.
Scenario 1) A discovery of witches
A coven of witches has been discovered, gathering just beyond the edge of a small hamlet for their witches’ sabbatt. As ominous storm clouds gather, a small party of witch hunters has been recruited to  root them out.

Our hunters had a rough time of their first supernatural encounter. Fr Hans managed to wake some sleeping innocents and herd them to safety; Dr Midnite, despite taking a wound, shot and killed one of the witches. However, Col Clijsters lost his nerve and fled from the field, and Goodman Gruber was taken out of action in a savage attack despite first killing several imps. By the time the storm broke, the witches were gaining the upper hand, and the hunting party withdrew in defeat.

The skilled hand of the physician ensured that Gruber recovered without any permanent impact. Clijsters may not have suffered any physical scarring, but he would need to do something dramatic in the next outing to recover his wounded pride.

Scenario 2) The dance macabre
When the dead walk again upon the earth it is a sign of great evil. For the local villagers, the shambling terrors that now haunt the night revive memories of ancestral wickedness, of curses laid, and of the perpetration of the most devilish deeds. Summoning a party of pious men of standing, they hope that the Word of God will settle the unquiet dead and leave their past firmly buried.

This scenario sounds simple on paper, but in the wrong circumstances, things can get quickly out of hand. In this case, things rapidly went from simple to chaotic. The religious, Hans, ran forward to start blessing the monument at the centre of the burial ground, but while Dr Midnite moved forwards to distract the single revenant, a roaming spectre kept Clijsters away from the fight. Gruber pushed on alone to defend Fr Hans from the other side, but everywhere, the restless dead were rising from their graves (I ran out of revenant models and had to substitute ghouls). 

Both Hans and Gruber were overcome by revenants while Midnite fell back. The monument was just one blessing away from being sanctified, and everything now hinged on the doubting (and up until now timid) Col Clijsters. He pulled himself together and, despite all the odds against him, leapt the cemetery wall, ducked under a tree and managed to quote scripture with enough sincerity to save the day. 

The good doctor again managed to keep all of his comrades from suffering any permanent injuries and, as a result of his growing renown, gained a devoted follower - young Betty. 

Scenario 3) Lost in the woods
They knew that they should not have been awake at such an hour, let alone out of doors, but neither child could sleep. It was as if something called to them through the woods. Woods which seemed, at this hour, so alive, so irresistible. When the children’s absence was noticed, the alarm was raised and a search party set out in their wake.

For the party's third adventure, they set off to save the children from their worst nightmares. The two boogeymen started in different parts of the table so, while Midnite and Betty set off after the furthest, Clijsters, Hans and Gruber turned their attention to the nearest. Before the doctor and his follower could reach the children, the far boogeyman was almost upon them. However, rather than attack, at the critical moment it squatted down and hid in the rough terrain, providing the children with the chance to escape. 

Both Gruber and Cljisters were wounded by their opponent, but between them, Midnite and Betty managed to kill their monster. The boogeymen are tough and unpredictable, and their ability to manifest the fear of the nearest hunter caused much distress, but in the end, the children survived and the party earned their reward.

As they sit counting their shillings in the public house the next afternoon they hear rumours of savage attacks on livestock and shepherds in the next parish. Sighing, they quaff their ale and prepare to move on ...