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So, what's good for underwater adventure and warfare? Well, there are a few existing things and a couple simple, fun, and really good looking ways you can create an underwater environment for your mayhem. The following set of pics show some just-buy-it, repaints, mild conversions, and full up builds that allow you to populate the undersea environment. What to do when you get there? Well, after the last picture is a set of simple suggestions that can make gaming underwater easy and actually fun ... but first, the eye candy!
Starting simple, here are some Mage Knight and HorrorClix figures ready to play denziens of the deep right out of the box. Right out of 70's D&D. Right out of 30's Lovecraft. Still, well executed and lots of fun.
Also, not much to say here. There are lots of dollar store toys out there ready to be mounted up. Some requre painting. Some, like this figure, are ready to play.
Dreamblade minis (remeber Dreamblade?) this time. Just a small paint job to make them look more like live fishmonsters. Also, that's not redeye photography. Since fish (especially deep water fish) look OK without irises and pupils, different eye color on bunches of identical models is an easy way to tell the "leader" fish from the regular old fishsticks.
Straight out of the sewer. OK, these are not the best conversions, but they're not bad for being done by an 8 year old several years ago. The point being turtle conversions (ninja or not) can be done with nearly any figure and a puff of putty.
P.S. (No, I'm not done yet, but I forgot about these guys when taking pictures for this article. Due to the magic of editing, they can appear in sequence where they belong. Due to the magic of me being lazy, they can appear with an old picture instead of one with a background that matches the others.) Forcs! That is frog-orcs. Tim Barry orc bodies with dollar store frog heads put on them. The simple flip-side of the TMNT converion.
Sharks with lasers! These guys were simple assembly conversions. All I had to do was decapitate a few Safari brand mini sharks and pop the heads on some Khorne torso, Tau leg bits, and Tim Barry shocktroop arms from Hoard o' Bits . Just grab, glue and paint.
Of course, the problem now is I have a bunch of shark bodies lying around after making sharks with lasers. So I made some more ... sharks with lasers. These are miscelaneous weapon bits I had lying around, attached to the headless sharks. And also...
... eels and "seahorses" made with spare lizard heads and left over horse heads.
I don't know what is more amazing ... how good these look or how little effort they took. A two or three dollar bag of seashells from your friendly neighborhood craft shop provides a ton of options for creepies and crawlies. I just filled the gap with some kneadatite (green stuff) and shoved in miscelaneous limbs and other parts.
Since the big ones looked (enough) like Garathim from Labyrinth, I left them all black. The other shells had such nice texture, I felt the need to drybrush some dark grey one them for highlights. Of course, you can also skip the painting ...
... and make armoured jellyfish warriors! These are just three shells glued together with a dab of air-dry clay (Crayola Model Magic) to hold the tentacles (and floral wire) in place. I went with three large tentacles and five pieces of floral wire to keep these guys away from bilateral symmetry. I think that makes them more creepy. But not more creepy than ...
... a siren of the deep. This is the most complex conversion, requiring pairs of shells to be glued together in various states of being open and some marginal molding of the clay (as opposed to just shoving it in the crack of a shell). Again, floral wire comes to the rescue for tentalces. The siren figure is a Tim Barry sculpt of Boudica from a chariot set, but pretty much any female figure would do. Tentacle optional.
Again, simple yet nice effect. The hardest part of these guys is you need to lean the shell up against something while the clay dries. I had a half a dozen failures before I figured that out. Must have run me almost 10 cents worth of materials...
OK. I don't know what I was thinking. But the spare GW carnifex head looks really menacing on the snail. Also, the mechanized snail of doom ... Well, I said I don't know what I was thinking, right?
These guys, however got good old Fimo clay. You can cook the shells with the clay inside, no problem. I also cooked the spare arms (everyone has spare mini arms, right?) right on the piece. When I used the 265F/10min directions, no melting. When I used 275F/15min, melting. Results are representative. Mileage may vary.
And sci-fi snails, too. Gotta have a sci-fi snail army.
This is just a size comparison with a couple of representative GW figures that I thought would provide a bit of perspective. I recommend taking a Joe Nobody mini with you to the craft store and lining it up with the different bags of shells available until you find the match you want. I do this a lot with a lot of different things I am looking for at the craft store. People stare. I don't care.
I think part of the problem with underwater RPGing and wargaming is the inordinate complexity of the rule systems. With a little bit of brain grease and a lot of trial and error, the following simple ideas are offered to make underwater gaming fun and easy enough to actually play without learning a new game.
To start with, lets just use regular figure stats from your game, and count them as aquatic natives. You don't need any special rules for them. (We will give our invading non aquatic natives (NANs) penalties for being out of their environment, which gives the aquatic natives, operating without penalties a decided advantage.) F'r'ex, if you need a school of sharks, how about use a pride of lions instead? The regular guys who are encountering them will have to deal with the following issues ...
In summary: count down air; use a smaller ruler; roll some extra dice and throw out the extra high rolls. With just these three ideas, you can make a fun and easy underwater fight that plays fundamentally differently than land battles. Enjoy!
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