As a boy and a young man, I was very fond of the works of H. Rider Haggard. Most people in the English-speaking world (and maybe beyond?) will be familiar with "King Solomon's Mines" and "She", but he wrote many other books as well. A few of his books have other settings, but the majority of the stories occur in central or southern Africa during the colonial period.
H. Rider Haggard's books are probably best described as adventures with a touch of the supernatural. Are the curses of a witch doctor real, or was it just bad luck that her enemies became trapped? Do ghosts roam the ancient ruins, or is it just a cold draft and a sense of claustrophobia? Is the beautiful white girl really able to see the future, or is she just exceptionally observant?
I also like the fact that in a number of Haggard's books, (black) natives are the heroes or heroines. Indeed, white Europeans don't always play more than the most passing role; there are noble and villainous members of all races.
So, why does any of this matter now? Well, when you add in similar types of stories such as Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" and Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth", not to mention the huge number of Tarzan books and films, there is an excellent genre of stories which inspire me to create games of exploration and adventure.
Which is all a very long-winded way of saying "have a look at my 28mm African expedition miniatures"...
|Richard Lillewhite, Professor Contender, Doctor Deadrock, Sir Morton Acrington, Kasiturah|
Like all of my explorers, these models are from Foundry. Indeed, most of these models come from a pack of well-known real life explorers, but I have my own names and characters for them.
- Richard Lillewhite is a gentle-natured insect collector. His satchel is probably filled with jars and notebooks and it wouldn't surprise me if he had taken the bullets out of his revolver in order to store some prized specimens in the cartridges!
- Professor Contender is a strong-minded and physically powerful academic. He's completely loyal to his friends and unrelentingly hostile to those who believe in different theories.
- Doctor Deadrock is a famous missionary who keeps going off into the depths of the lost world on his own, then being rescued in a fanfare of publicity.
- Sir Morton Acrington leads well-financed expeditions with a great deal of firepower. He doesn't use a weapon himself as he has plenty of people to blast away for him. It would be undignified to get carried away and join in!
- Kasiturah is Professor Contender's gun-bearer. He's not too bright really, though he tries hard to do the right thing.
|Gouvimale, Piete Roode, Sir Reginald Utterly-Barking, Knut Hausen, Bakhari|
I'm somewhat dismayed to notice that many of these models have chipped and scratched paint. Maybe their box was shaken about some time, or perhaps they're just packed too tightly? Either way, here is another set of models:
- Gouvimale is a sly, lazy and thuggish rogue. He'll follow or plot with anyone, but only as long as he thinks there's something in it for him.
- Piete Roode is a weary and cynical Boer tracker. Piete is an excellent shot and tracker, but has lost faith in most human beings.
- Sir Reginald just wants to be a hero, though really that means proving he can conquer anything to which he sets his mind. Whether it's crossing arid deserts, destroying nests of slavers, intervening in tribal wars or killing fierce animals, he's the man to do it or die trying!
- Knut Hausen is a Danish adventurer who wants to see as many different sights as possible before he dies. He can't settle down to any one thing.
- Bakhari is Sir Reginald's faithful servant. He's loyal and trusting, but also intelligent enough to be able to recognise and moderate some of the Englishman's more extreme behaviour!
Of course, any expedition needs a large collection of porters to carry all their tents, spare Holland & Holland elephant guns, cases of gin, journals and so on. These figures are from Dixon miniatures, from the Dahomey Wars section. They're a lot cheaper than the Foundry bearers and just as useful!
Usually these models have fought against my prehistoric mammals (some of the large beasts are here: megafauna, though I have a lot of smaller critters as well). What I'm lacking at the moment is much in the way of human opposition, though I do have some Neanderthals and a few figures that I could use as semi-fantasy slavers. To get properly into the pulp adventure spirit, games should also include plenty of traps such as quicksand, man-eating plants, hornet's nests and improvised bridges over ravines.
Oh, I do also have a not-Tarzan model, though he's only part-painted at the moment...