Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Miniatures Month: Havard the Dwarf Warrior

About two years ago, while playing a Traveller campaign with a new gaming group, I was invited to sit in and "guest star" playing an NPC in one of the players' very-long-running Harnmaster campaigns. I gave it a go and while there wasn't a lot going on that night, I decided to keep at it and start up a new PC. The GM and I discussed at length what sort of character I should play, and as it so happened, I was reading the first volume of Games Workshop's Black Library Omnibus of the Gotrek and Felix saga.

Now, I've always had a fondness for dwarves. Sturdy little buggers who never forgive a grudge, who like fighting and drinking and put their faith in good hard steel and stout stonework over fickle magic and uncertain enchantments. And while I've had a Warhammer Fantasy Battles Dwarf army for some time, and I've run dwarven NPCs in campaigns I've GMed over the years, I had to admit, much to my shame, that I'd never played a Dwarf PC before.

So, when I cautiously put forth the idea of playing a Harnic Dwarf (I had no what Dwarves were like in the Harnworld and Harnmaster system), the GM actually thought this was a good idea. He'd never had a Dwarf PC in his campaign (all 24 years of it) either, and since there was an Elf PC in the party, we all agreed the by-play would be a lot of fun. So, I rolled up Havard, my doughty little Dwarf fighter, making his way down out of the mountains accompanying the silver caravan, finding his way to the "big city".

Although the GM didn't use miniatures in his campaign, I thought it would be a nice way to commemorate the occasion of my first Dwarf PC by making my own mini. Here is the result (click on the pic for a much bigger version):

He is mostly stock Games Workshop WFB Dwarf Warrior parts (from the previous boxed set, not the one currently available). The only conversion work was swapping the axe head, since I created Havard to match an illustration I had found online of a Dwarf that the GM wanted to use as my PC's portrait (I cannot find the web page I first pulled this image from, so apologies to the owner, if you're out there):

Note the shape of the axe and the loop at the back, as well as the helmet (sorry, no spike) and especially the beard, which I was lucky I could reproduce with a stock head. I think all in all, the mini turned out pretty well, a heck of a lot better than the campaign did - I stuck around for six sessions and quit after a lot of frustration and confusion as to what I was expecting from the campaign versus what I was going to...be allowed by the other players, some of whom had been playing since the very beginning.

Anyhow, long story short, I came away with a fun little miniature. I like his beer stein and his pipe, and his no-nonsense, well-worn adventurer look. One of these days, Havard might even get himself into a brawl or two...


Aaron E. Steele said...

Its always tough joining a campaign in progress, as it takes time for the old players to come to terms with the changes the new player brings.

Jack Badelaire said...

To say the least.

Here's an article I wrote about the situation back in April of 2008. Thankfully, the Traveller game came to an end this past June, so I no longer have to deal with the guy running the Harn game, but I still hear from my Traveller GM regularly about the things going on (or more accurately, the lack of things going on).

Barad the Gnome said...

Great mini. I love the tankard!

Every game has a personality. Obviously you do not fit the mold of that game. I am not sure who would but apparently there are some folks who think that is 'fun'.

I went back and read your April 2008 post. Ironically, my gaming group could be described by several of your points (limited experience with other systems, more than half our 7 gamers is over 50, etc). However, our gaming situation is far different. If we are getting towards the end of an evening and there has been no 'excitement', I'll fudge the adventure a bit and create some danger that requires group action and some dice rolling. We do loads of role playing, and the group is happy with that. However, I don't think an evening is complete unless dice are rolling and ALL players get a chance to be threatened and to shine a bit.


Jack Badelaire said...


Therein lies the problem. Within a couple of sessions, it was plain that the campaign belonged to the GM and his two old gaming buddies. The rest of us were "along for the ride". If we liked where it was going, great. If we (read: me) didn't, then well, you weren't "participating" enough in the current "direction" of the campaign.

A major part of the problem was that although the two "old guard" had gamed with the GM for decades, none of them had a great breadth of gaming experience; a few years of Traveller back in college, a dabble of D&D in the early 80's, and then Harnmaster pretty much exclusively for 20+ years. Two of the other six players had never played another RPG or been in another campaign, period. The fifth player had some smattering of other gaming experience, but he was a pretty laid back guy and I think was intimidated by the older gamers (he'd quietly mention that he'd hoped for a fight here and there, but wouldn't make a serious complaint).

I was the only person in the group to say "Hey, is it just me, or is this all really boring and crawling along at a snail's pace?" because, largely, I'd gamed in a lot of different settings, systems, campaigns, and under a bunch of GMs (and done a bunch of GMing) over my RPG career. Unfortunately, this (I think) was taken for me wanting to turn their precious masterpiece into the worst parody of a D&D hack n' slash fest, and so I was studiously ignored or told to "participate more", which ammounted to negotiating with rivermen for the best passage rates, or going to a baron's court to ask a favor, or searching the town for suitable lodgings.

And of course, I was encouraged to play a Dwarf in a 99% human campaign setting, so any attempt to stay even moderately in-character would have resulted in me lopping the legs off of most of the people I was dealing with. It was like being promised that you could play Conan, and then finding yourself in a Jane Austen novel (seriously, there was a "quest" to find a rose at one point for a noblewoman).

The GM could tell, I'm sure, that I was getting frustrated, and there was some placation away from the sessions "oh, yes, I understand, the pacing is a bit slow, but the game will pick up, I assure you". Well, when you're in a monthly game that meets for ten hours at a time, and sometimes doesn't reconvene for four to six weeks at a time, I was expecting another six months or so before anything significant could be done to rectify the situation.

And so, I quit.

Havard: said...

You named him what?! :)

That's awesome. I have always had a soft spot for dwarves. The mini looks awesome. I hope the little guy makes it to Blackmoor some day...


Barad the Gnome said...

Badelaire - I am surprised you lasted that long. Did Havard get to take any tall folks at the knee caps on the way out? heh - that would have been too funny.


Jack Badelaire said...

Havard: Figured you'd like that. I wanted a name that sounded dwarvish, but not cliched, so it kinda fit. And I do hope that mini will see some use one day.

Barad: Funnily enough, Havard's last session I wasn't there for - a friend was getting married and I was going to be helping out, so I told my Traveller GM (who played in the game) that she had permission to play him however she wanted (I believe I sent her a permission slip e-mail of sorts). She was (and still is) bored out of her mind at the game, so she was going to use him to cause some mayhem.

sadly, the day I wasn't there, there was a big brawl, but as if the gods themselves were working against por Havard (or at least, the GM and some of the dingbat players), his little legs didn't get him into the fight fast enough (the other fighters were mounted) and he missed out on the combat.

I honestly think that, because I had decided to drop the game and pretty much let my friend "have at it" with the little guy, they decided to mess with him/me a little. Havard demanded a share of the treasure they collected, and rather than a brawl (which she was hoping for, since he had a decent chance of taking down at least one of the dingbat player's PCs), the GM and prime dingbat player wiped poor Havard's memory (PC had some psychic ability). Havard was sent off, unaware of the last six months or so, to hopefully finally get into mischief somewhere.

At the end of the day, I'm just glad it's over. Six Saturdays I'll never get back, alas.

Old4Eyes said...

Nice Dwarf! I'm not familiar with the old Dwarf boxset though.
Was it plastic like the modern stuff?
Congratulations on lasting six sessions by the way - I'd have probably lasted maybe a third of that......but still finished off the miniature for the fun of it!