By David Kuijt
From the frozen wastes of the arctic tundra comes a force that laughs at danger, snickers at hypothermia, and sneers at frostbite. Gunwaldt the Mighty, the greatest warlord the Frozen North has ever spawned, rides his Ice Sled to battle. None shall stand before him!
Home Topography: Icy Northern Wastes.
Stronghold: Mountain of Ice.
The Ice Barbarians are fierce, and inured to the colds of their ferocious Northern clime. Led by Gunwaldt, they ride for loot, for glory, and to kick some Southern butt.
The Ice Barbarians ignore pain and fear, but are not without a certain rough humor - the tale of when Snorri came back from a raid with terrible diarrhea from eating spicy Southern Food is still a favorite when the polar wind whistles through their ice caves. Silence falls when the Skalds come to the good part, where Snorri breaks a hole in the ice and lowers his maltreated posterior into the icy water to cool his aching rump. And when the Skalds tell how Snorri sighs in relief just as a Killer Whale swims up from the depths and bites him in two, the laughter is nearly enough to shatter the ice caves! Then all together shout out the moral of the tale - Orca! Learn from Snorri - Watch what you eat!
All Ice Barbarians are beastmasters to some extent, and Gunwaldt has abilities far beyond the norm even for his hardy people. The Lord of the Wastes rides an Ice Sled given to him by the Dwarves, and pulled by three fierce Polar Bears. None but he can master this sled.
As you can see from the image on the left, the wind blowing over the Ice Sled can be debilitating to any but the most stalwart Northerners. When Gunwaldt wins some Southern Princess in battle, though, she can shelter in the lee of the front of the sled, where the Ice Lord keeps his loot and a few cold brewskis. Note the blonde currently getting a ride with the Ice Lord.
The most powerful denizen of the Great White North is undoubtedly the Mammoth. The image to the right shows the last sight many Southern Knights ever see, as their horses rear and bolt and they are tossed to the ground in front of the earth-shaking tread of Gunwaldt's pet, Stomper.
Stomper may be the heaviest member of Gunwaldt's warband, but he doesn't eat what he steps on. The Ice Troll, always hungry, is happy to take what Stomper leaves tenderized. He likes it best when he can get his blood fresh, however. Ice Trolls aren't well liked even among the Ice Barbarians, as they are untamable and vicious and don't drink beer. The rest of Gunwaldt's warband steer clear of the Ice Troll, and don't know how he keeps it under what control he has, but they have to admit he comes in handy in a fight, and he certainly seems happy, getting the pick of corpses after the battle.
The mainstay of Gunwaldt's army is his people, the White Wolf tribe of the Ice Barbarians. They are fierce fighters, outfitted in white skins of wolves or even Polar Bears. Few can stand against them in battle, and they sing songs and spout poetry as they fight. Most of their poetry has to do with their favorite things - fornication, beer, fighting, and hockey.
The wolves of the Northern Wastes are natural allies for the Ice Barbarians, and run among them as dogs. Their ferocity and speed in broken pack ice and dense northern woods make them terrible opponents, and the baying of their onslaught has broken the heart of foes even before their slavering fangs can be seen.
The Ice Serpents are some of the most feared denizens of the Northern Wastes. Some say they are bloodless, and immune to cold, but that is not so. They burrow in snowdrifts for protection from the icy winds, as well as to hunt. Their poison is as feared as the surprise of their attack.
The Ice Barbarians will fight anyone, and often do. They will sometimes ally for a great raid with supernatural forces of the North, like the Frost Giants, but are as often found fighting them as allied with them. Gunwaldt has great respect for Magic Users, and will usually avoid having anything to do with them, positive or negative.
This army has been built up, piece by piece, for years. It was only finished very recently (Historicon 2008). The first piece I found was the Polar Bear Chariot, an old Ral Partha kit which really, really rocks. It became the reason for the whole army. I had some Viking Ulfednar (bear and wolf-skin Berserks); painted up they became Gunwaldt's rank and file tribesman. The Mammoth is a resin casting with pewter tusks. The Ice Serpents are D&D Miniature figures, repainted to be Ice Serpents. The original paintjob is something black and red. The Timber Wolves are by Grendel. The Ice Troll is by Hasslefree, and is not an easy figure to assemble -- there are like a dozen parts, and you have to drill and pin everything, because it is one heavy mo-fo. But it is a brilliant figure, all the same. Just not made for those who aren't comfortable with drilling, pinning, and using greenstuff to make hair to cover gaps and stuff.
The best thing about working on an army off and on for three years, while searching for appropriate figures and only finding good ones for a new element every six months or so is that you don't notice how long it took to paint it. The Ice Serpents were easy, and came out very nicely in a two-color pallette -- prime white, paint the underscales mid blue, repaint all but the edges of the underscales in light blue (two coats), then some detailing (eyes and teeth and tongue). The Timber Wolves were kinda fun, once I got enough google images of Timber Wolves and decided how to paint them, but they involved like seven different shading and drybrushing steps. The Ice Barbs took quite a while, but they were fun to paint -- a totally different set of color choices from your garden-variety barbarians. The Mammoth was pretty easy -- prime black, three layers of drybrush -- but the tusks took a while to get right, especially the aging marks approaching the jawline. Gunwaldt himself was easy enough, but his Chariot was very difficult. Getting the coloration right on the Polar Bears took quite a bit of Google Images research.
I love them, but they stink. The problem is that Gunwaldt's tail sticks out so freaking far (he's on a 60x120 base) that he has tremendous difficulty going around wide, or even going through a central hole. It seems like his recoil is ALWAYS BLOCKED. Same problem for the Mammoth, although with him the issue is more that he's going to recoil off the edge of the world. Which is a constant problem for Gunwaldt as well.
Page created December 3, 2008.
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