Terrain: Dirt Roads

I’ve completed my first terrain piece, a modular dirt road. There are two straights sections and two bends.

They where made using 5mm foam board cut to shape with a thin layer of air drying clay applied to provide the right from wagons on the road.

The roads amongst other completed pieces.

After this a layer of soil/brown tile grout mix was added to the whole piece. That was then sealed down using a PVA/water mix and left to dry. I then added flock and static grass to embellish it.

The tracks were then dusted with some ground up pastels to shift the colour slightly to make the ruts stand out.

Once that was completed a light rushing of ground up paste was put along the track to represent the dust created by the foot traffic in the area.

A simple piece but effective, the only thing I would change is using air drying clay as it has caused a slight watp in the roads as it contracted as it dries.

However overall the pieces have the exact look I was hoping for.

Slowly making progress

I have made progress on almost everything needed for the first game over the past two weeks, and even managed to finish some terrain I will need.

Below is a rundown of my progress.

  1. Bought the parts for my 2×2 gaming board and assembled the basic structure and added the base texture. It’s only waiting on grass tufts and static grass being applied now. I just need to make the required tufts from 6mm grass fibres and apply 2mm grass to the board when I find the time, as it needs to be away from tiny hands that like to play with daddy’s toys (I don’t want my daughter getting a nasty shock off the static grass applicator).
  2. Bought the parts for my pine trees and started on the assembly. There are three variations of tree I’ll be making to add interest to the board.
  3. Built the main structure for two hills and added the base texture.
  4. Made my own version of coarse turf flock, I had everything needed in the house so it saved me money buying it. This seemed a good step forward as part of the purpose behind the Call of the Borderlands project was to not spend money needlessly. As I will be needing coarse turf in bulk for all the trees I’ll be making.
  5. Continued to built the Warband, which included kitbashing a few archers from Victrix Greek archers.
  6. Started building the bandits, this was far more work than the Warband due to sculpting face masks as well as hoods and cloaks.
  7. I’ve also completed the road that will be the scene of the warbands encounter with the bandits, There is an post with photos incoming. But for now here is a preview.
Dirt road preview

Overall it’s been a very productive two weeks, although it didn’t feel that way until I wrote this list, probably due to the fact nothing is finished yet.

Finishing is now in sight as the only things I haven’t started yet for the first game are the bandits and painting everything.


Campaign Turn One: Arrival in Walden

Wulfthere covered his eyes from the glaring midday sun, as he looked ahead, he spotted smoke drifting in the air over the treetops of the Westward Wilds, it would seem they had finally arrived in the village of Walden.

Suddenly a voice rang out from off the track “Good day! What a sight you fine men make” declared a dirty looking man that wandered into their midst, and with much bravado prompted to slap the men on their backs with a great deal of glee.

“A fine sigh indeed, are you here to rid us of our troubles? It’s about time us poor folk of the Borderlands were taken care of” exclaimed the man to Authulf, assuming due to his age he was leading the group.

“That we are” declared Wulfthere from behind the man, startling him in the process, causing him to jump back with a little more shocked than necessary.

Wulfthere immediately found something untrustworthy about the man and decided to depart before his real agenda was revealed.

“Who is the head man here, and where can I find him?” enquired Wulfthere before they departed.

“That would be Ceolmaer your looking for, you’ll find him on the far side of the village in the house with the cherry tree out front”. Said the man though a barely restrained grin, it seemed for some reason the man was oddly pleased with himself.

* * * * *

Wulfthere stood back as Authulf knocked hard on the door with the butt of his Warspear. A man gingerly opened the door, he seemed wary of the strangers he suddenly found at his door.

“Begone you foul parasites, I have no more to give” murmured the man, it seemed the Wulfthere that the man meant the words he said, but at the same time had no way to enforce his will and he knew it.

“I’m sorry my fine fellow boomed Authulf. “we mean you no harm, we have come at the bequest of Earl Magnus, to rid you of the forces that are assailing you” he added.

“…err, how can I know that? How do I know you aren’t lying?” questioned the man.

Wulfthere stepped forward. “you don’t need to believe us, after all if we were lying could you really stop all four of us if we really wanted to take what you have? He asked.

“…well, …I, ….suppose.” he stuttered, and stepped back opening the door a little further. He stood for a few moments more and stepped aside beckoning Authulf and Wulfthere in. “those two” he said motioning towards Erling and Rumbald, “They can wait outside, I won’t be intimidated in my own house.

* * * * *

After a few hours the pair emerged, to find the sun was starting to fall below the tops of the surrounding trees. They had talked with the man they discovered to be called Ceolmaer about the troubles that had beset the village as well as suggestions of where to find help, once he’d settled down Ceolmaer was a friendly fellow that was simply overcome with issues beyond his ability to control.

“Erling, Rumbald” Wulfthere Shouted, a few moments later the twins emerged from behind a bush with a few local girls walking the other way with flustered looked and grins ear to ear. “I don’t know and don’t want to know what you two have been up to, but remember we are here to help these people, not to give them more mouths to feed once we are gone” said Wulfthere with feigned despair on his face. One thing was for sure there was never a dull moment with these two around.

“Tomorrow Ceolmaer will be sending a few fellows our way to help us with the village’s problems” he announced. “For now, we can lodge in his barn and he’ll provide us a meal shortly, now grab our stuff and meet us there.”

* * * * *

The following morning, they woke to find three men waiting outside. One stepped forward and introduced the group. “This is Æskil, that young man is Aethelwald and I’m Bergfinn” he said “Ceolmaer said you’re looking for a few strong men to help stop the menaces that are befalling our village. Well here we are. When you ready to set out, let Ceolmaer know and he’ll send for us, I look forward to being of service”. With that he turned and walked off into the village, followed by Æskil grumbling under his breath.

Aethelwald lingered a few moments longer, looking at the group and the weapons at their side with a look of reverence, he suddenly realised what he was doing and turned and chased Bergfinn back into the village. As Wulfthere turned to the rest of the Warband he noticed another villager nearby, taking in everything that was happening.

“Can I help you?” Wulfthere asked the man.

“You can indeed young man said the villager, or rather I can help you, I’m Skegg, I’m not from these parts but I get the feeling we could help each other” he stated, before boldly walking over towards the group. “If you’re looking to clean this place up I’m all yours as long as you need me, all I ask is you keep me fed and we will be just fine.

“Welcome to the team” said Authulf before sending a questioning look Wulfthere’s way. “From what we’ve been told we’ll need all the help we can get.”

Wulfthere was hard pressed to not agree, however he was going to keep an eye on this one, there seemed more to him that meets the eye, and it seems Authulf though so too.


Over the course of the blog I plan to include both a prose narrative and the mechanical effect of what have happened for each campaign turn. Everything here (Instandard text rather than the italics of the story) is the results of the dice rolls rather than the story I’ve created around them.

Following the rules in “Roads well travelled” the party rolled a roadside encounter upon entering a village for the first time. The result was a Sneaky Thief, who stole 2 gold from the warband (in the story they haven’t noticed yet).

The party then used their two actions. The first was used to Trade. The party bought an additional shield, helment and bandages. (this wasn’t addressed in the story as I assumed it was on their travels to the Borderlands).

The second was an Interaction with a friendly villager (Ceolmaer), who was added to the friends list.

The warband then went adventuring and encountered an Outlaw Threat of 10 Brigands (no leadership) while traveling. The setup is 10″ apart, with the enemies in 3 groups. The encounter is on road (Dunnola Way) at the edge of the woods (Westward Wilds).

The encounter itself will be the subject of my next post once the required terrain and miniatures are completed.


A few interesting blogs

Off the back of a discussion in the comments with Kuribo I went off looking for the blogs of other solo gamers. While I didn’t find any blogs concerning Five Leagues specifically I did however encounter a number of blogs regarding another game from the same stable – Five Parsecs from Home (which I also own but decided to place on the back burner for now) the sci-fi version of the system.

Here is a rundown of the blogs and where to find them if it is of any interest to anyone else out there, if I’ve missed any other relevant blogs let me know in the comments and I’ll get them added on.

Five Men in Normandy fivemennormandy.blogspot.com – Blog of the publisher of Five Leagues from Home, Nordic Weasel.

T Town Hobby ttownhobby.wordpress.com – Five Parsecs from Home Campaign

Another Slippery Slope anotherslipperyslope.blogspot.com – Five Parsecs from Home Campaign

Tanaquil Standpoint fiveparsecs.blogspot.com – Five Parsecs from Home Campaign

A Fist Full of Cow Dung thebaldingninja.blogspot.com – Five Parsecs from Home Campaign

Battles in Middle Earth battlesinmiddleearth.wordpress.com – It would be a mistake not to link to Kuribo’s own blog about Middle Earth Battle Strategy Game, worth it even to look at some great minitures even if the game isn’t something you have any interest in.

Region: The Pineward Barrens

As a Five Leagues campaign puts you in a specific region I’ve decided to develop a basic idea of the regions geography and background.

I chose to set my campaign in the wilderness, and to use the fistful of arrows theme. This way the campaign would be short and be skewed towards outlaws which will fit the theme of the miniatures I currently have at my disposal.


The Pineward barrens are a heavily forested region nestled between the Grey Mountains to the east and the Sea of Angla to the west. The region is bisected by the Pineward River running west from the mountains, with a fenland at the mouth of the river.

There are a few villages and scattered farmsteads throughout the barrens. Life is tough and few people pass through the area so strangers are always mistrusted and viewed with suspicion.

Village: Walden

Walden is considered by the people who even know of its existence as a quiet, un-noteworthy place. It’s is known mostly as being the gateway to the Pineward Barrens. The village is found in a small valley within the Westward Wilds and not the Barrens proper.

  • Outlaws: 6
  • Border Tension: 2
  • Dark Secrets: 1

Village: Fenlee

A smelly and dirty place, Fenlee is in the depths of the Fens at the foot of the Pineward River, surrounded by peat the village is an important source of fuel for the “civilised” parts of the realm. While people may not have heard of Fenlee, they certainly need its exports. As a result of this it is a prime target for foreign powers to disrupt Earl Magnus’s holdings.

  • Outlaws: 2
  • Border Tension: 6
  • Dark Secrets: 0

Village: Morburn

Found alongside the Pineward River in the foothills of the Grey Mountains, Morburn is a desolate place, surrounded with rocky outcrops and sparse trees. Not much happens in Morburn, its said even the sheep try to leave to find more excitement.

  • Outlaws: 5
  • Border Tension: 1
  • Dark Secrets: 3

Sustainable gaming, my perspective

I’ve just finished listening to another great episode of the Paint all the Minis Paint Ramble Podcast. It was certainly an interesting listen and actually hit a few points I’ve been considering myself lately.

The episode itself was the first in a series about the concept of what has now been coined sustainable gaming. In particular in this episode, the issue of overbuying was of interest to myself. Overbuying is an issue that has always plagued my gaming history, from 3000pt 40k armies that never reached the table through to games that were bought with the most sincere intentions of being a staple of my gaming life that fell by the wayside due to lack of opponent for the system.

The other darker reason is the collector gene gamers seem to have, we want all the options/minis to have a full set. This is the reason I’ve always avoided kickstarted, I know I’ll want the lot, price be-dammed. In fact I know this is an issue as I’ve bought everything for games on launch that have sat unopened for months once they are home, oh shiny indeed!

One thing is for certain my “shelf of shame” has, over the years, amounted to less a shelf and more a room. Even as I write I have eBay auctions attempting to clear my gaming backlog, the false starts I have referred to previously on the blog.

It’s funny to hear it articulated the way it was, the very issues I have myself faced and lead to the creation of the Call of the Borderlands project. What had unwittingly set me down the path was the ever-growing need for space (real) little people require, meaning my own space was getting ‘refined’ as time went by. I’m sure all gamers will face this at some point in their lives for one reason or another.

However the tipping point was actually a video series on YouTube, that I suspect was never intended in the manner it affected my way of thinking. I’ve been a regular viewer of Sorastro’s Painting for a while now, but his latest series on Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth was a real eyeopener to me. In the series he was able to paint all the miniatures from the core set using a very limited number of paints. I tallied around 20 in total over the course of the series. However when you look at the miniatures this is not obvious.

I, however, have about 150+ paints over a series of ranges and would buy a new paint for something that was just a different tone of a colour I already had (sucked in by GW’s paint marketing hiding in plain sight as online painting tutorials – do we really need three different greys for one model?).

Once I realised what could be achieved by simple paint mixing and record-keeping – so you know what the mix was if you need it again, it opened my eyes to other possibilities with the hobby.

Everything was looked at and investigated how I could strip back to save space and to maximise my future spending.

I now have a list of what I need to allow me to game to my heart’s content. If something is not on the list it won’t be bought, and if I own something I don’t need already it will be sold or given away. The shocking part is the list is barely one side of an A4 sheet of paper and the contents should leave me scope for copious amounts of painting, modelling and gaming over the foreseeable future. What makes it better is I should be able to achieve all this while keeping a small physical footprint.

But back to the podcast, to see other people have faced the same issues and seem to have come out the other side in a stronger position is most definitely a positive and a sure sign I’ve taken the correct path with my hobby moving forward.

I for one am looking forward to the rest of the series to see if there is more I could be doing on this path.