Rather than adapt the warbands I have for a published setting, be it from a book or film, I thought that I would like to create a setting of my own. Then all the tales I tell of my warbands’ adventures will be unique.
So here is the outline of my campaign setting.
A land of high rolling hills, extensive woodlands and deep river valleys. Very like the county of Montgomeryshire in which I reside.
The Shire covers much of the north-eastern border of the Kingdom and protects it from the inhabitants of the Wilderlands beyond.
The largest river is the Bram, from which the Shire gets its name. This flows through the Shire gaining strength before leaving to descend into the plains below, and onwards to the sea.
The Shire is ruled by the High Sheriff from his seat in the county town of Bramlinghame. This is currently Lord Montague, a black-hearted but incompetent man of middling ambitions. He is much given to creating complex and dastardly schemes that usually fail catastrophically. His wife, Juliet (nee Capulet), is altogether far more intelligent, and spends her time ensuring that her husband’s schemes do not disadvantage her family’s affairs.
This town is at the highest navigable point on the Bram and is the commercial capital of the northlands. The Shire is well-known for its sheep and apple orchards. It exports much wool and cider, as well as some lumber and coal.
Across part of the border with the Wilderlands lies the Blackwood. This is prevented from spreading further south by an enchanted stone wall, though this does not stop the denizens of that foul place from crossing it to raid the villages and farms of the Shire.
Over the years, successive Sheriffs have built a series of keeps along this wall. Some are fairly well maintained, but most are only manned in time of peril and some have fallen into ruin.
The Blackwood is inhabited by elves, goblins and fomor, as well as a range of other dangerous creatures. It is full of dense thorny thickets, which conceal many mysteries.
The Wilderlands are bleak, with many bogs, high moors and dark forests. They are dotted with the ruins of an ancient kingdom of which few but the elves and fomor know anything. There are numerous burial chambers and barrows on the hill tops which are avoided by the wise.
Within the Shire the population is mostly human, though there are a few dwarven coal mines and a number of Halfling villages. The Halflings are superb weavers and dyers and make cloth for local use and for export. Despite their size they are fierce in the defence of what they regard as theirs.
Six noble families can trace their lineage back to when the Shire was a small kingdom. Each of these competes fiercely for the Sheriff’s coronet, and the wealth that position provides. For the last few decades only two have been successful, the Montagues and the Capulets. The remainder have been reduced to the level of Hedge Knights. Honoured, but essentially powerless.
It is my intention for form a couple of dozen, 400-point warbands to play with. This has been a project I have long awaited, and I have considerable materiel already.
Recently I have been picking up more figures, mostly from the excellent Frostgrave and Oathmark plastic ranges (North Star).
Although I do have a lot of painted figures, I am looking forwards to assembling and painting these newer ones. Each warband will be a project in and of itself.
It is worth pointing out that I am no great painter but feel able to produce figures to what I call a ‘basic army standard’.
As for the warbands themselves, I shall be naming every figure in each one. I have found in the past that this makes the games a lot more fun, and often quite personal.
Those of the Shire
The Montague and Capulet houses own huge estates and have many mercantile holdings. The current Sheriff is Lord Romeo Montague and is known to be more interested in wringing every last penny of tax from the poor than in defending the kingdom. Thus, a common sight is a Montague warband escorting a tax collector.
Figures: I have sufficient knights and men-at-arms to create a variety of Noble warbands. Some are 1980’s Essex miniatures, others are plastics I got recently from North Star’s sprue sale. There are some tempting figures being produced by Claymore Castings at the moment too.
2. Hedge Knights
The Corbusio, Falstaff, Eglamour and Genevieve houses each govern a number of villages or a small town. Sir Cedric Corbusio is the most famous of these Hedge Knights, having served in the Royal Household of the last King. It is fool man who underestimates this wily octogenarian.
Figures: See above, though there is a Lead Adventure figure I want to get for Sir Cedric.
3. Town Guard
These include Bramlinghame’s renowned Town Guard, and the generally less effective Watches in the smaller towns. The Bramlinghame guard is led by the redoubtable Captain Flack.
Figures: I already have a fully painted Town Guard, including three mastiffs. These are all Reaper Bones plastics (complete with bendy spears).
The best-known bands of brigands are the Greenmen, and the infamous d’Ordonnais Sisters. The former are disaffected militia men and peasants, led by Sir Robin B’stard. They specialise in robbing local Nobles and tax collectors. The sisters are a ruthless, all-female warband, who will rob anyone that takes their fancy.
Figures: I shall be building each of these two warbands from Oathmark Human Soldiers and Frostgrave Female Soldiers, with one or two character figures from my collection.
5. Thieves Guild
The Bramlinghame Blacknoses are the only properly organised guild in the Shire and are the mortal enemies of the Town Guard. There are also a few robbery and smuggling gangs who are affiliated to the Guild.
Figures: I do have a number of roguish figures in my collection but may need to look for others.
6. Dwarven Prospectors
Amongst the several itinerant bands of prospectors, Captain Thunderboots and his Company are well known for their not entirely legal approach. He calls it ‘guerrilla mining’.
Figures: I shall build Captain Thunderboots warband from my small collection of dwarves (roughly 400+). Like Neil Shuck I have a weakness for them.
Last year I also acquired the Oathmark dwarves from North Star and have enough of these to field about a thousand points in T&B.
Most halfling village militias are named for their villages or their favoured pubs, such as the Rose & Crown Militia (and Thwacket team). They are a crafty lot, well versed in guerrilla warfare.
Figures: I need to find and purchase a suitable band of bad-ass Halfings for the Rose & Crown Militia and Thwacket team.
In recent years there have been a number of zombie risings across the Shire, and most have been put down to the mysterious necromancer known only as ‘The Black Todger’. Some believe he maybe a disgruntled former student of the College of Wizards.
Figures: I have all the figures I need for this already, including an entire box of Zombicide, Black Plague. Though I do prefer my venerable Heroquest Zombies and Skeletons.
9. The College of Wizards
The Bramlinghame campus of the Royal College of Wizards is fairly small but provides many services to the inhabitants of the Shire, and acts as a guild house for the more solitary wizards and witches out in the sticks. It is led by Chancellor Ambus Bedworthy.
Figures: I have about forty wizards and similar figures that I can draw upon for this. The Porters and Guards can come from the Oathmark Soldiers box.
10. The Chapel Guard of Saint Thomas the Dubious
Most churches and chapels rely on the local town guard to protect their premises and followers. However, following the tenets of their faith, the priests of Saint Thomas trust no-one. Thus, they have a fanatical, but poorly led, guard company.
Figures: I’m wondering if I should get the Frostgrave Cultists box for these, and how I’d get it past the missus…
Those of the Wilderlands
A few savage tribes of men inhabit the wilderlands beyond the Blackwood. They war constantly with the goblins, fomor and elves, and have been known to raid the Shire.
The best known are the Commonthen Boys and the Redfoots.
Figures: I have dozens of barbarians going right back to the early 80’s, though I am tempted to just get the Frostgrave Barbarians set to get a consistent look.
2. The Elves of the Blackwood
These remember when the entire Shire was theirs and covered in woodlands. However, the arrival of men forced them back through a series of ruinous wars and now they exist only in a tiny portion of their former lands. Their numbers are much reduced, but they are no less dangerous for that.
They call themselves the Wood Wraiths and are skilled in hit and run tactics. Their leader is the infamous Green Carbuncle.
Figures: I shall be using 80’s Alternative Armies Wood Elves, plus one or two character figures from other ranges.
3. Orc & Goblin tribes
These exist both in the Blackwood and the Wilderlands beyond. They compete with the elves, fomor, barbarians, and each other. Warbands tend to form around charismatic or intimidating leaders, and only last as long as that leader survives.
Some believe that these are the remnants of the army of the last Dark Lord, or perhaps the one before last.
Figures: I am torn between my Ral Partha goblins from the 80’s and my more recent Reaper Bones orcs (which are really big and savage). I also have a sackload of GW Night Goblins. Oh decisions, decisions…
4. The Fomor Kindred
This accursed race live only in The Beneath that runs below the Blackwood. From there they prey upon their neighbours and, occasionally, the villages of the Shire.
Border villagers threaten their children with being eaten by Long Meg, a notorious Fomor hag. Actually, she cannot stomach children, but a nice fat merchant, slow-roasted, suits her fine.
Figures: I recently backed my first ever Kickstarter when Atlantis Minatures revealed that quite a few of their Ogres would be female. Big angry women, who wouldn’t want them? Every day I sit by the letterbox in anxious anticipation…
5. Gnome Caravans
These diminutive artisans live along, and maintain, the enchanted wall that holds back the Blackwood. They try to remain neutral but will fiercely defend their masonic caravans when challenged.
Figures: I have had about fifty of Tom Meier’s dwarf sculpts for Ral Partha since the early 80’s. They suffer from scale creep, being only about 18-20mm high, so would stand in beautifully for gnomes. My friend Matt Cook, an incredible painter, is working on these for me at the moment. I shall showcase these on the blog when they arrive.
6. The Guardians of the Dead
These are most often encountered by adventuring parties trying their luck in one of the many ancient burial chambers and barrows in the Wilderlands, or down in The Beneath. One notable Guardian is The Dead Pirate Roberts, who occasionally leads his dead brethren into the Shire to plunder a village or two.
Figures: I have nearly a hundred suitable figures for these classic undead, so I should be OK here.
7. Gnoll Raiders
Guddog’s small band of hunters has been pestering farmsteads and villages along the Shire’s borders for years. Guddog is very cunning and has been able to elude every force sent to capture or kill him.
Figures: I could not resist the Frostgrave Gnolls box when I set eyes on them in a Model shop in Porthmadog (Wales).
These occasionally break out from The Beneath to raid and plunder. Their holes can come up anywhere in the Shire.
Figures: My good friend, Hairy Dave, has an entire Warhammer army of these, so I have no problem getting some on loan.
One must also include all the figures owned by my regular opponents, Phil & Hairy Dave. There are going to be some really interesting new warbands coming from them.
There shall be a number of other significant figures, mostly to be used for scenarios. They shall include:
- Jack-in-Irons, a moody and unpredictable giant.
Figure: Looking for this at the moment.
- The Bridge Trolls. Generally peaceable but can become dangerous if irked.
Figure: I have trolls but would really like some very characterful ones. Much more Paul Bonner than classic D&D or Warhammer. Indeed, there is a suitable Paul Bonner figure that is part of the Zombicide: Black Plague I shall have a look for.
- Sir Fortinbrass, a questing Knight. Endlessly seeking a dragon to slay.
Figure: I have a suitable figure for this, though there are several Lead Adventure figures that are tempting.
- Hobnob the Goblin, leader of the secretive Five Goblins named Moe.
Figure: A GW night goblin will serve.
- The Blackish Knight, no-one is quite sure who this is, but he is believed to be behind numerous (failed) conspiracies.
Figure: I have an old GW Chaos Knight that will be perfect for this.
- Miracle Mike, the Mad Mage of Mandragore, and his Marvellous Menagerie.
Figure: I have a suitable figure for this, Rincewind from the Discworld model series.
- Duff the tragic Dragon. Always on the run from Sir Fortinbrass.
Figure: I have a French toy dragon that is full of character.
I do love building my own terrain, so this is an excellent challenge for me.
I have three, 36″ square, neoprene mats (Deepcut). One is Rackham’s Corner for my village/small town set-up. The second is fully cobblestoned for a city layout and the last is forest green for wilderness & rural games. I am also looking for another one, to use for dungeons, but don’t want it covered in 1″ squares.
I already have all the medieval urban terrain I need, so I now need rural and wilderness stuff, such as:
- Enchanted stones, menhirs, trilithons and henges; Many stones, will be carved with spirals and other celtic symbols. Some of these carvings will be painted as glowing blue, green or amber.
- Streams and troll bridges; I want to create at least three feet of stream/small river, using techniques I have been watching on Luke APS’s YouTube videos. The Troll bridges will be a feature of Bramlingshire, so I will put some work into these.
- Mysterious pools, reedbeds and bogs; These are a must for wilderness terrain, and something I have not made before.
- Gateways to The Beneath; These could be magic portals, entrances in the sides of hills, or deep pits. They will be the way down into the dungeon levels.
- Ancient stone ruins; I am getting pretty good at making buildings, so these should pose no problems for me.
- A ruined keep; I did one of these a few years ago and might just rework it.
- A length of enchanted, dry stone wall; I bought a few feet of resin drystone wall last year and will be using this both for the famous Blackwood wall, and for field boundaries for farmsteads.
- A guerrilla-mining camp; Captain Thunderboots needs a base camp, so I am thinking tents, a mine-head, spoil heaps and mining equipment.
- An ambushed caravan; I have wanted to do one of these since I saw one in Diablo II. Dead horses and guards, abandoned and wrecked wagons, broken barrels and crates etc.
- Village palisades; I shall need about two feet of these, plus gates.
I shall need to draw a simple map of the Shire, showing the towns and villages, the Blackwood etc. I may do it freehand, as I really haven’t got the IT skills to use an online generator.
There shall be a base map, then one divided into districts/zones, for us to run campaigns across.
I have not sketched this out yet, but I have a great bunch of friends who have already been playtesting the rules. The fun we have had bodes well for these rules.
Once this is done, I shall publish regular reports from my local club.