Wooden Palisade Fortress conversion for BattleSystem

Years ago, I purchased a wooden palisade fort, intended for use with 54mm figures.  It was really small, but I managed to purchase two of them, and I connected them together, to form a much larger fort, with two gates, instead of one.  I finally got around to putting it together for use with my 25mm-28mm games of 2nd Ed. BattleSystem.  In fact, a friend prompted me to finish it for a game this Saturday.  I have a couple of scenarios to use it in, as well, so it should see some fun table-time in the next year.

It started out as a simple, brown plastic fort.  I added The Dip treatment, very heavily, twice, to get some dark color between the 'logs', and I painted the tips of the logs, to look lighter, as cut wood.  It had a thin, plastic catwalk molded into place, but it was way too low -- even 30mm figures could not look over the top of the walls!

I used foamcore board, along with some heavy vinyl floor tile, cut into small rectangles, to elevate the catwalk.  The elevators were epoxied to the plastic catwalk, and they should endure gaming stresses quite easily.  To facilitate access for the troops, cardstock ladders were printed, from a WorldWorks product, cut to size, and glued into place.

Here is a shot with a mixture of 25mm-28mm figures, standing along the catwalk.  They are projects on my painting table, waiting to be completed, as well.  The Fort is complete, except for a matte clear coat.  I also epoxied the Fort to its base

For the base, I used 1/4" thick plywood.  I painted it with a mixture of sand, PVA Glue, and Hunter Green craft paint -- use more sand than you think is necessary, and use around 85% PVA, to 20% paint; apply with an inexpensive, 1" house painting brush.  I mixed the sand, glue, and paint, in a mason jar.  The sand made the mixture very thick, but it worked very well.  When I was done, I simply washed the brush and the jar out with Pink Brush Soap, and water -- good as new!  Be careful about washing sand down your sink's drain -- it could plug up your plumbing!  It would be best to dump this stuff outside, so use a large bucket of wash water out by the curb...  Cheers!

Here is the Fort in a BattleSystem game.  The Human cavalry, on the left, was defending it against a Humanoid army.  The Battering Ram (cardstock model) had been manned by a Unit of Ogres, but the Longbowmen, on the walls, took care of them in short order.  The Fort's defenses were bolstered by the addition of two wooden towers (cardstock) from WorldWorks' Pirate Cove model set.  In the end, the Fort proved impenetrable, and the Humanoids went home, defeated, but vowing to make another attempt, sometime in the future...

Hobgoblin Watch Tower Project (12-1-13):

I recently picked up a copy of The Slayer's Guide to Hobgoblins, ISBN:  1-903980-00-3.  In it, I found this image of a Hobgoblin Watchtower:

I realized that I could use a vine, from the top of a pumpkin, as the basis for this Watchtower:  it looks like a tree, already, denuded of any branches (no painting required at all), and it has a cut-off, flat top, already.  [I found a suggestion to use pumpkin vines for trees, over on DM Scotty's, DMs Craft Forum -- it is not my idea, I just borrowed it for this project.]  The only thing I need to add, is the steps up the side, the sharp poles around the base, and the tower top, large enough to hold some figures.  This should be one easy, very quick, terrain project.

Pumpkin vine, removed from the top of a pumpkin.

It is a bit curved, but I like that; the base is formed, by nature, with nubs which will serve as large roots!  Very little needs to be done to prepare this piece of vine for use in game crafting.  By the way, this vine piece is extremely light-weight!  Bear that in mind, when basing it (Hot Glue is ideal to mount this piece to whatever basing material you may choose).

Here you can see the bottom of the vine, after it has been removed from the top of the pumpkin.  It will be necessary to clean this up a bit, to avoid any left-over plant matter from rotting:  I scrubbed mine with a green scouring pad, and hot water.  It requires a little bit of effort, but it is not difficult to do.  The bottom surface is rather porous, so be sure to give it some time to dry completely, before applying any type of glue/adhesive, and mounting this to your base material.

Here you can see the cut-off top of the vine piece.  If is not cut level, you can take almost any type of saw, or even a sharp knife, and cut it more level.  Be sure to exercise proper safety precautions, whenever you work with sharp tools!

The wooden palisade, above, has been earmarked for use as a Hobgoblin outpost, to be attacked by a Dwarven army, for many years.  Now I have outlying Watchtowers, to deploy some distance away from the palisade's walls, to give the Hobgoblins advance warning of an enemy's approach!

By the way, the Slayer's Guide, is top-notch!  I would highly recommend it to any DM, as Hobgoblins are probably the fiercest, most disciplined, humanoid race, and they should be played as a terrible force to be reckoned with.  In small groups, they can be easy fodder for low-level characters; in large groups, they are cunning, and extremely well organized, and they can be a terrible challenge to higher level characters, due to their organization, and tribal skills.

Close-up showing the marker points where I think the 'planks' should be added.

As stated before, I am using round toothpicks to represent the spiked planks the Hobgoblins are using as stair steps.  They will be left with the sharpened end, as a deterrent to attackers either climbing the tree trunk, or hoisting a ladder against its side.

Here are the toothpicks, un-cut, ready to be hacked to size, and put into
position, as soon as the holes are drilled into the side of the 'tree' trunk.

I am applying Royal Walnut Polyshades urethane-stain mix, to the unfinished toothpicks.  This will both stain them (lightly), as well as seal them with urethane, against handling during games.  They're super easy, and fast, to stain, and seal, all in a single step.  I use school paint brushes to apply The Dip -- when done with a Dip'ing session, I just pitch the used brush in the trash, and grab another one, for the next session -- they come in a pack of 35 brushes, for around $1.00, at Wal-Mart, so no worries about expense.

Drilled, and filled!  The toothpicks have been cut in half, and inserted into the holes drilled
with a drill press, holding the 'trunk', by hand -- be careful you do not drill into your fingers!!!
Once the urethane-stain cures, the 'planks' will be White Glued into the 'trunk'.  I used a 3/32" drill bit, as it was very close to the diameter of the toothpicks I had.  Be sure to hold the drill bit behind the toothpick, to see if it is a close match to the diameter of your round toothpicks -- do not guess, or you may be buying another pumpkin!

Speaking of pumpkins, it is possible to purchase multiple piece lots of pumpkin vines, off of e-Bay!  On a whim, I visited their site, and searched for "Pumpkin vine"...  I found quite a few auctions for them!  Prices vary, wildly, but it is cheaper to buy a bag full of vines, than it is to purchase 8-10 pumpkins!  Unless, of course, you really enjoy pumpkin...  I found a lot of 50 stems, for $14.99, delivered.  I can make a lot of Guard Towers with these!  Pumpkin stems can also be used to make trees, for wargaming -- details can be found on DM Scotty's web site (he has a built-in search function).

Here is a top-down view.  The toothpicks have not yet been stained/varnished, but you can see
that they are making a pretty fair representation of the artist's drawing of the lookout tower.

After fitting the toothpick halves into the drilled holes, they were removed, and a stain-varnish has been applied.  They are curing in a crockpot ($20 at Wal-Mart), on the Keep Warm setting (around 120 degrees F), for 40 minutes, which will fully cure the urethane stain application.  I am also curing some Dip'ed figures in the same batch -- batch processing makes the most use out of a heating cycle, more bang for your electrical bill's buck.

While I am waiting for the Dip'ed bits to cure, I am also building the flat, platform top, which will be what the Hobgoblin troops will stand on, while they perform their guard duties.  It is made out of the very same round, toothpicks, glued side-by-side, to form a flat platform.  The toothpicks are arrayed into a square formation, on top of wax paper; School/White Glue is then applied to what will be the bottom side, with another layer of wax paper laid on top.  The flat, vinyl floor tile base, with a layer of green craft foam applied to the tile's glue side (visible surfaces painted with craft paint, Hunter Green), is then laid on top of the second layer of wax paper.  Then a small weight (a metal tape measure I was using to check for square size on the platform) is laid on top of the second layer of wax paper, to hold everything in place, and flat, until the Glue dries (I was planning to add this to the Dip'ed figures, and other toothpick sticks, in the crockpot, but there wasn't enough room; when the figures are fully cured, though, I will swap them out, and put the platform in, to speed curing/drying).

Toothpicks arranged into a square formation, side-by-side, with White Glue.  This will
form the platform base, upon which the guards will stand, at the top of the tree tower.

Here the foam-top base is laying on top of the toothpicks, with White Glue,
 sandwiched between two layers of wax paper -- White Glue will peel off of wax paper,
quite easily, when dried, so it makes a perfect forming layer/release barrier.

Once the platform is dried, it, too, will receive a stain/varnish coat, to seal, and protect it, from usage during the game sessions.  After the base of the platform is completed (it will need cross-bar toothpicks to reinforce it, and to give it a more realistic structural appearance), I will use more round toothpicks, to build up the walls which will protect the Hobgoblin Guards, while they stand guard within the Tower.  I have not decided whether to add a rooftop, as this will make it much more complex to build, and use (open tops make it much easier to pull figures out, as they are killed...).

The 'trunk' has been completed, with the stained/varnished 'steps' glued into place.  Here you
can see its size, as well, against the scale, with a 25mm Human figure standing beside the trunk.

Here is a shot of the top platform, which will be put atop the
trunk.  This is the battle platform the Hobgoblins will use.

Well...  Ran into a couple of glitches:  1)  Wax paper only works as a non-stick surface, with White Glue, when used for air-drying -- if you apply heat, it becomes just regular paper; 2) Applying heat to craft foam sheets, causes it to shrink, dramatically, but I also realized that the base size was entirely too small to allow me to add the spiked polls around the base of the 'tree', so the base needed to be replaced with a 6"-square, which solved a couple of issues...

Got the deck attached to the trunk.  Still need to build the deck's walls, but it is nearing completion.

I will be adding a card stock hatch door, above the 'steps', to represent the means of egress.

Side view of the tree trunk, and battle platform.  It will hold two figures, on 1"-square bases, once the walls are added.  For RPG's, that is two Hobgoblin Guards; in BattleSystem, those two figures represent 20 Hobgoblins -- either way, it works for me.
Progress Update:  12-3-13.

Mounted the 'trunk' to the base; added spiked stakes surrounding the base of the 'trunk'.  Next up will be adding ground cover to dress it up...

The Stakes have been Hot Glued to the base (painted foam
attached to the glue side of vinyl floor tile piece, 6"-square).

Another view showing the entrance to the 'step' up to the tower's platform.

Hot Glue was used to form a ridge surrounding the line of stakes.  This not only dresses up the row of stakes, but it also lends some additional strength to the stakes.  The neat thing about working with Hot Glue, is that it fully sets within minutes, and it takes paint quite well, even though it is non-porous.

I will be building up some walls on top of the platform, and I will add a hatch to the floor of the platform, to provide access, as well as protection, to the platform.

Not shown, is the fact that I applied some additional Hot Glue to the underside of the platform prior to attaching it to the 'trunk'.  The addition of some Hot Glue reinforced the platform structure.  Since the Hot Glue was added to the underside, I was able to keep it hidden so that it will not detract from the aesthetics.  Cheers!

Progress Update:  02-18-14.

Here is the finished, prototype model, with lichen added around the sharpened wooden stakes.  For gaming purposes, the lichen represents thorn bushes.  The thorn bushes won't stop an armored warrior from penetrating the perimeter of the tower, but it will slow them down just a bit; for the unfortunate warrior who is not protected by leg armor, slogging through the thorn bushes, would be painful, and would cause at least mild wounds, tearing open skin, and doing other nasty hurtful things...

I bid on a lot containing a total of 11 additional pumpkin stems, of similar size.  I have 11 additional Watch Towers, nearing completion.  The wooden fort, at the top of this page, will have ample Guard Towers surrounding it, to give it plenty of advance warning of an attack!  Cheers!

Hobgoblin Archers manning their advance Guard Tower.  You can see, on the right, one figure "climbing" the tower's ladder sticks, making his way to the top, to relieve one of his tribesmen of duty, while two others watch from the ground.

Two Hobgoblins stand guard, at the entrance to the base of one of their many Guard Towers, surrounding their wooden fort.  One of their tribesmen is climbing to the top, around the left side of the Tower, to relieve the two Guards up top.

The green color of the thorn bushes belies their hurtful welcome to any who would try to cross through them to reach the base of the Tower.  Smaller, younger trees have been cut down, so as not to interfere with the view from the platform (left corner in this photo, right side in the photo above, and three stumps can be seen in the top photo in this group).
Perspective shots of additional Towers:  04-04-14

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