Monday, November 28, 2022

Spelljammer Miniatures

I just received a few interesting pieces from last months release of Spelljammer miniatures in the mail today. These miniatures correspond to creatures found in the 5th edition rules for Spelljammer that were released back in August.

Alternate art edition

The first miniatures are some Chwinga, which I believe were first introduced in Tomb of Annihilation. They are described as shy forest spirits, but for some reason, they exist in space as well.

The origins of the Chwinga are unclear, but I'm pretty sure that they were modeled after the kodama from the Studio Ghibli film Mononoke-hime, which influenced the design of kodama in other franchises as well.

Ghibli kodama

Persona/Shin Megami Tensei kodama

A Chwinga (Adventures in Space #4), and a Chwinga & Space Guppy (Adventures in Space #17).

The Space Guppy is pretty much just another fish-like creature (among many) that seem to populate Wildspace.

Astral Menagerie cover art

The next miniature is a Void Scavver (Adventures in Space #33), which appeared in the original edition of Spelljammer. They are essentially one-eyed space sharks that fill the role of facultative scavengers.

I wish that the eye of the Void Scavver was stalked like on the cover art, but I guess the eye is retractable, since the miniature seems very faithful to the interior art.

The final miniatures are Murder Comets. They are offbeat monsters that I rather like despite the cringy name, which I take to be some sort of riff on "murder hornet" or "murder hobo".

In any event, the Murder Comet is described as a type of paraelemental created by combining the essence of earth elementals with the essence of fire elementals, to which a spellcaster has subsequently bound their spirit. I'm not sure why it wasn't a combination of earth and water, since comets are largely composed of rock and ice.

The Murder Comet has the ability to breathe fire, but I would personally add the ability to release a trail of poisonous gas, as an homage to the 1910 panic promoted by the press and other hucksters when spectroscopic analysis indicated that there were traces of cyanogen in the tail of Halley's Comet.

On the left is a Murder Comet (Adventures in Space #9), while on the right is a Swarm of Murder Comets (Threats from the Cosmos).

The regular Murder Comet is half the size of the ship scale (1:600) Swarm of Murder Comets, so both are undersized (especially if you consider that a really small comet might have a nucleus that is still ~½ mile in diameter).

The swarm looks as if it is made of multiple parts, so maybe it would be possible to separate off a couple of individual comets from the group if you wanted some larger single comets.

I also want to mention that the dragons from this set of miniatures are really nice, but I could not justify buying any of them.

There are two Solar Dragons that are roughly the same size, but I liked the sculpt and pose of the Adult Solar Dragon (right) a lot more than the much cheaper Young Solar Dragon (left). There is also a Young Lunar Dragon (center) that is exclusive to the prohibitively priced Collector's Edition Box.

A much cheaper ship scale Ancient Lunar Dragon comes with the Astral Elf Patrol set, but I think that it is probably too small for my needs despite the nice sculpt.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Frost Salamander

The frost salamander first appears in the B/X edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It was illustrated by Erol Otus as being similar to a regular salamander, except with four arms.

In the video game Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara, the frost salamander is even more similar to a regular salamander, except with cold powers and a different color palette.

Stage 9-B : Lost World

However, in 2nd edition AD&D and later, it was changed to be more lizard-like, and given six limbs.

I don't care for the current look myself, so I decided to buy a couple of Vos'sykriss Serpentfolk Ghosts from the Critical Role - Monsters of Tal'Dorei Set from WizKids to represent frost salamanders.

Ghost A is on the left, and Ghost B is on the right. For some reason, they are on gigantic 50mm bases.

I'm not sure how to replicate the translucent plastic, so I'm thinking about getting a couple more models so I can use their arms for making four armed frost salamanders (or maybe I'll just be lazy and leave them as they are).

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Temple of Debod

Due to having travel credits that were about to expire earlier this month, I took an unplanned vacation to Spain with the caveat that I was not allowed to bring anything other than carry-on luggage.

I didn't have much time to plan an itinerary, but while in Madrid, I wanted to see the Egyptian temple that was given as a "grant-in-return" to Spain in 1968, for participating in the UNESCO campaign to save ancient sites and monuments at Abu Simbel, which were in danger of being submerged by the Nile due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

The Temple of Debod was originally a small shrine dedicated to Amun, dating back to the early 2nd century BCE. It was built south of Aswan, near the first cataract by order of King Adikhalamani of Meroe. Later, the temple was expanded and rededicated to Isis of Philae during the reigns of the Hellenic pharaohs Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VIII, and Ptolemy XII. Construction was eventually completed by the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius.

Egypt, 1859–1860

The temple was rebuilt in the Parque de Oeste near the Plaza de España, and inaugurated in July 1972. The temple is open to visitors on Tuesday to Sunday. Entry is fee, but you have to queue to go in, because no more than 10 people (from what I was told) are allowed inside at once. You can visit the official tourism site for the City of Madrid for more information.

Spain, 2022

The reflecting pool was drained while I was there, so there was a security guard assigned to blow a whistle and yell at people who crossed into the temple to take selfies with the pylon gates.

Behdety symbol on gateway

It took about 1½ hours to get in, but you can take a walk around the park if you have someone to hold your place in line. The view from the hilltop at the west end of the temple is spectacular, and allows you to see the Catedral de la Almudena and the Royal Palace of Madrid.

The architecture of the temple was described in Travels in Nubia by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, and also documented by the architect François Chrétien Gau.

François Chrétien Gau, 1819

The interior of the temple is dimly lit, and the hieroglyphics decorating the walls of the cella are described by backlit panels supported by metal poles.

Adikhalamani offers bread to Isis

Adikhalamani offers a jar of water to the
Pharaoh of Biga and the goddess Anukis (left),
Adikhalamani offers bread to Amun (right)

Adikhalamani offers a necklace to Osiris and Isis

Adikhalamani offers incense and libations
to Osiris and Isis

Adikhalamani offers an amulet to Horus and Hathor

Adikhalamani offers cups of wine to Amun and Mut

Adikhalamani worshipping Arensnuphis and Tefnut

François Chrétien Gau, 1819

Shrine of Ptolemy VIII in the adytum

Narrow stairways lead to the second floor of the structure, where various models and artifacts are on display.

Temples along the Nile at Abu Simbel

Of particular interest to me was a 1/50 scale model of the temple in its original state.