Sunday, 2 June 2013

Everything's better with Dinosaurs!

I had to pinch the title of this post from the excellent TV tropes website because its so true. And there were certainly plenty of them in kid's TV and literature back in 80's.

Dino Riders were on the telly and in the toy shops - I had most of the dino's in this pic but sadly only a few of the dinosaur models survive today for my kids to play with.

Zoidz were another favourite...

Not to mention the various Harryhausen Dinosaur movies I devoured as a kid

... and ones with good old rubber suits

Then there was the documentary Dinosaur! which I may have seen in the early '90's that I mainly remember for the Dinosaur Man (featured around 7.00).

Later I would find this concept even more fascinating when I became a certified Whovian and read Dr Who and the Cave Monsters

... which even later played its part in getting me back into painting and wargaming

Getting back to the realms of Fantasy, rather than Sci-Fi, Island of the Lizard King was the first (and still my favourite) Fighting Fantasy book I bought

- and it featured Lizardmen riding on Dinosaurs!

When I finally got hold of Titan, it was great to read more of the Lizardman Civilisation.
The Lizard Man Empire is a vast dominion lying in the thick jungles and swamplands of Silur Cha in the southern regions of the Allansian continent. The Empire is an evil domain that has slowly begun to threaten to spread out across the face of the southlands, dominating the region. The eastern part is known to us as Silur Cha, a Lizard Man term which (very approximately) means 'Home to the Supreme Majesties of all Lizards'. At the heart of the swampland there is the unholy city of Silur Cha itself, which is indeed home to the Lizard Man emperors and their human-hating followers.
No race, other than Lizardman itself, except in the scrying pools of sorcerers, has ever seen Silur Cha and lived to tell the tale. Lizard Men hate all intelligent life and will allow nothing to cross their swamplands - as if anyone could!
The swamplands themselves cover an area almost equal in size to the Pagan Plains, and are inhabited by giant snakes, crocodiles and, of course, the Lizard Men themselves. The Vymorn River borders it to the north, and at its mouth stands the ruined city of Vymorna. Besieged for almost eleven years, the city was the last haven of humans in the area until slowly and relentlessly the inner fortifications and the keep was broken and its last remaining people were enslaved. With Vymorna's fall, the Lizard Empire found that they were opposing the equally vile Caarth, the Snake People who dwell in stone cities excavated on the fringes of the Desert of Skulls known as the Snakeland. The resulting Serpent Wars continue to this day.
Although they bare some similarities to the crocodilian C19 Lizardmen of Lustria, their society and civilisation are entirely different.
1st/2nd Edition paints them as a diverse, possibly genetically unstable group of races. As with Goblins their are several main tribal groupings based on size. They live in the deeper regions of cave systems, emerging into the lower levels of Goblin dens or Dwarf Holds to raid and take captives.
Icluded in this group are the lesser Lizardmen
Troglodytes - larger but smellier and stupider
as wells as the C19 Lizardmen warriors

Including the Regiment of Renown - Karnac's Lizardmen Raiders
When the Dwarfs built the mountain city of Caraz-A-Carak in the East of the Old World, they created the largest, most wonderful and impregnable fortress the world was ever to see. Its chambers and halls opened into the heart of the mountain and deep into its roots. Unknown to the Dwarfs their tunnellings were to lead them into the still vaster, still deeper and unfathomably more ancient caverns below the mountains.
Within these caverns dwelt many foul creatures. Little did the Dwarfs guess of the blood-letting and savagery that was to rise from beneath their feet. Soon the lower passages of the Dwarf Kingdoms became the hunting grounds of the perilous Lizardmen, the most feared of whom was the reptile known to the Dwarfs as Karnac, leader of a savage band of Lizard men including the dread animal called Huris. For almost a hundred years the Dwarfs battled against the Lizardmen, chamber by chamber and level by level. But the Lizardmen proved too strong, and grew ever stronger as they feasted upon the flesh of the slain and drank the blood of their doomed captives. Eventually the Dwarfs gave up hope of ever recovering the lower levels, and sealed them off by collapsing the connecting passages. What then became of Karnac, Huris and the Lizardmen can only be imagined.

Interestingly there is no mention of Lizardmen in Lustria in 1st Edition apart from a brief note on how the Slann occasionally ride the large reptilian Cold Ones, though how these creatures arrived in Southern Lustria is a mystery hidden in the days of the Old Slann. Nor is there any mention of the genocidal campaign the Slann pursued against the Lizardmen - at least not in the Forces of Fantasy volume I've flicked through.

The 2nd Edition Battle Bestiary widens the distribution of Lizardmen by saying, Lizardmen are curious in that they appear all over the world, wherever there are mountain ranges with deep caverns. Perhaps these are all linked up far below the earth. Which is good as I can have Karnac's raiders popping up in Lustria in a plausible manner!

It seems that 3rd Edition is where the persecution by the Slann first appears (do correct me if I've missed any earlier references!) - 

When the Slann arrived on the planet, it was already inhabited by creatures, some of whom had developed a degree of civilisation utterly unlike that of the Slann or the races of modern times. During the Slann's assessment and restructuring of the world, many of these races were destroyed. The ancestors of the Lizardmen were among the more advanced of the cultures of their time and were ruthlessly hounded by the Slann who saw no role for them in the world of the future. As the world warmed the few surviving Lizardmen sought refuge in the cool, dark caverns beneath the ground. They survive there still, in spite of all efforts to remove them.

Also Lizardmen finally appear as part of Slann armies in Warhammer Armies

Many thousands of years ago, the ancestors of the Slann waged war against and destroyed the ancient civilisation of the Lizardmen. Today most Lizardmen live reclusive underground lives, but some have been subjugated by the Emperor and fight in his armies.

Which brings me onto, by way of  a slight preamble, to the topic of this post - Lizardmen! My fondness for which had its roots in all this Dino-mania.

So to round off here's some more pics of my LPL entry, including the Gourgaz - one of my favourite baddies from the excellent Lone Wolf series of game books.

Love this Sorceror/Shaman and the fact there are no rules for him matters not!

I have a small, but growing number of Lone Wolf miniatures and would love to game with them at some point in the far distant future. This is one of my faves though - need some Giaks to go with him though -

Gourgaz are large, grey scaled, cold blooded, carnivorous, intelligent reptilian creatures from Maakenmire. Gourgaz secrete, from the underside of their tail, an oil whose molecules, when inhaled by Giaks, reacted with other molecules in their bloodstream, driving them into a frenzy of courage. Thus they were used by the Darklords to lead Giak battle units. 

As a final thought - going back to the fact that everything is better with Dinsoaurs in - I'm not sure why the newer GW Lizardmen leave me a little cold - pun intended! 

They have all the right ingredients - Mesoamerican stylings, huge Dinosaur like riding beasts and some of the models are really nice. Its probably something to do with the rewriting of the original Lustrian setting that I really buy into - no doubt to rework an old faction into a new army of awesomeness to flog to the kiddies. Perhaps I detect a whiff of the old cynical ploy of adding dinosaurs to a product to make it much more sell-able to boys of a certain age and I'd never fall for that... right?


  1. I used to have some Rafm Reptiliads riding war tortoises. They were pretty cool...

    1. Yeah, they're pretty nice minis. I like the pike armed units too, but its the War Turtle and Howdah that keeps tempting me...

    2. I didn't know they were still available...damn, more expenditure. I'll have to sell some of my kids.

    3. Genius - extra revenue and peace and quiet to boot ;)

  2. There's a lot more of the old Lustria in the recent stuff than might at first be evident - I snuck quite a few Halliwellisms into the Warhammer Relams: Lustria source book too ;-P

    1. Enough Halliwellisms to justify two books?

      The problems a lot of 30 and 40 somethings have with modern Warhammer start and end with the basic desire not to get ripped off. Also, most of the models are charmless tat of course.

      It's great that you chose to stop by and say hello and I am sure Thantsants will make you welcome, I just can't bring myself to let you get away scot free though! ;)

    2. Thanks for adding to the discussion Andy - good to have you along.

      I'm afraid for me I can't get my head round the big changes like Skaven and Undead populating parts of Lustria or the whole background of the space faring Slann (didn't all that begin with a joke about Chariots of the Frogs?) and the Amazons being gotten rid of. I love the melange of ancient astronauts, drug crazed Amazon warriors and crumbling civlisation too much!

      I did go back and peruse the Lustria book and found mentions of Culchans, Coatl and Skeggi, but unfortunately only as foot notes.

      All these changes happened in my "gap" years from the hobby and I always intended to go back to the old stuff when I came back, so its not a big problem by-passing all this newer material (no offense!) - I just find it a little baffling. I suppose if I were being cynical I might suggest the changes were made to fuel sales of Lizardmen, Skaven and the various other races that have now settled there, rather than in the interest of developing the narrative of the setting

      I also agree with Warlord Paul that having to fork out for endless supplements and new army books is another big turn off for old curmudgeons like us! ;)

      Anyhow - I'd love to hear of any other Halliwellisms that snuck in, your thoughts on the original Lustria background and the rationale behind the changes that were made.

    3. Well, if I told you they'd not be any fun (though if you look at the map in Lizzies, there is a floating pyramid and a Temple of Kara :-)

      There was also an awful lot of the original Amazons background used in the White Dwarf articles we wrote to support the release of Lustria as well as the Conquest of the New World campaign, around 2004.

      You'd have to ask Rick about the whys and wherefores of the big change to be honest though, its something that happened well before my time.

    4. Anything of quality (background wise) is lost, drowned in a sea of over-priced drivel and artless peddling.

      I think all us adults can figure out why the changes were made.

      To be fair, nobody was going to get rich in the 1990s continuing in the same vein as things were done in the 1980s. Everyone (past and present) at GW is perfectly entitled to say they are part of a huge success story.

      But please allow us our nostalgic grumblings without the usual, fanboy propaganda, nonsensical response. Despite our mumbles and grumbles we are really OK with not being the demographic anymore, no reassurance needed thanks!

    5. Well I think I'll stick with flicking through my Second Citadel Compendium and Magnificent Sven scenario booklet to get my Lustrian kicks.

      Talking of Floating Pyramids, I must dig out my old WD's and reread that WFRP scenario - Temple of Bab-Elon or something along those lines. There was a rather clever way of modelling something similar over on the LAF.

      As for the WD articles you mention - again I'd stop buying the magazine by then so missed them completely, but I do find it a bit baffling as to why original material would be used only to be junked soon after?

      I think another grumble of mine about the newer Lustrian stuff is the old GW embiggening problem - the battles and events are absolutely titanic and apocalyptic, in scope with even the Gods getting stuck in. I much prefer the smaller scale skirmishes and raids that make up scenarios like Rigg's Shrine and Kremlo. Even the impossibly (at today's ebay prices!) large, 70 strong Slann army that besieges Vastervik is tiny in comparison. Personally I enjoy gaming the these small scale situations - band of plucky adventurers V. local warlord and his gang. Mind you I was brought up on a diet of the A Team...

    6. You raise a good point, our gaming generation appreciate the 'pathetic aesthetic' angle a lot more. It is more engaging to take part in a life or death but ultimately meaningless skirmish on some dirtball planet or fantasy world backwater over a fistful of creds/gold pieces than it is being thrust into the awesomest, end of days, final battle all the time.

      28mm (or thereabouts) scale is perfect for 10-50 models a side and lends itself best to small skirmishes. Bringing that sort of game to life with imaginative narrative is the most rewarding aspect of the hobby for me. Big kit units can destroy multiple squads in a single turn, that isn't what I want to see every game.

  3. Whilst the 80s figures and the artwork have a dynamism (dino-mism?) to them the modern skinks and their mount just look so static, I reckon that's a large part of why they don't appeal. Most of the GW plastics are lacking in dynamic stances if you just assemble them from the box, it takes a fair degree of modelling to make the stock figures look like they're moving. Back in the day the metal minis were sculpted that way, plus the limbs were bendable so you could reposition for even more action.

    But dinos, hell yeah. Especially Dino Riders, they were sheer class.

    1. Dino Riders were the best! Caught myself looking them up on ebay just now... must resist!

      I think you may be right there about the plastics Fimm - mind you its taken me a while to come round to loving the C19 fellows, with their charming, but clunky looks! The Tom Meier lizardmen and Troglodytes are really nice though - hope to have some on the painting desk in the next few months.

  4. Great fun stuff :)
    I grew up loving dinosaurs and still love them. Lizardmen, gatormen & the like are some of my favorite miniatures.

    I do like the current GW lizardmen line, I've just always had a bit of trouble seeing how it fits in since I just can't see armies of lizardmen campaigning in the old world- I suppose it's possible, just doesn't seem probable. But the theme of the army & style itself is pretty appealing, it just doesn't feel like a great fit for the rest of the armies.

    I also like the Reaper miniatures Reptus line. Some great stuff in there

    1. Thanks - I seem to remember a thread of yours about some new setting which involved intelligent dinosaurs a while back. Did anything ever come of it?

      I wonder whether, as I mentioned further up, adding races like the Skaven, Undead, High Elves, etc to the Lustria setting was a way of bypassing that problem. Was it 5th Edition that came with Bretonnians and Lizardmen figs - very odd combination.

      I do remember, however, an article about fielding a Slann mercenary force in the Old world. There was a great back story about how they'd been hired by the Empire (I think) and brought over to fight the Bretonnians, enraged as they were at the stories of their despicable leg eating habits!

    2. I am still working on the prehistoric pulp game. I'll get back to it I'm sure. There will be a few dino-related sentient species,one of them I'm thinking of making a conversion kit for in resin to go with a popular plastic kit. but I've already said too much ;)

      Yeah the warhammer 5th ed box had lizardmen & Bretonnians and that struck me as odd too. They did have a campaign at some point for getting armies over to Lustria, but my favorite attempt at that kind of thing for GW was the Lustrian supplement for Mordheim, with lizardmen warbands, skaven & human warbands based off of Estalian & (mental hiccup- whatever the old world version of italy is) city states. Explorers of fortune looking for loot in ancient ruins that are not as abandoned as they had thought.. very 'Indiana Jones' meets warhammer.

    3. Ah, I always wondered how Lizardman and Amazon warbands got over to Mordheim - they didn't! Its a game I should try at some point and the Indiana Jones thing sounds spot on for it.

      Prehistoric pulp sounds most intriguing - looking forward to seeing what you get up to with it!