Tarnished Splendor

Tarnished Splendor… that is the working title for the Napoleonic Gothic Horror Pulp Exploration 7th Sea Sharp Practice project that I have been working on in addition to our Middle Earth project.

I recall reading somewhere that painting Samurai was as time consuming as painting Napoleonics and therefore incredibly challenging. I have not painted many Samurai but painting Napoleonic French has been a real fiddly business!

For those who have not been following this project…

It all really started with the Reaper Bones V Kickstarter. 

The ship on offer was too good to pass up, but it was later period than our current gaming plans. I wanted a galleon, even if that would be later period than what we “needed”. We needed a dhow, cog or caravel but we are getting a frigate/man-o-war. 

Now in the very beginning we had decided to focus on just Middle Earth gaming but my wife and I both felt constrained at times by the use of just that setting. There were other itches demanding to be scratched.

We had interest in many genres but a finite amount of time, money and space. Then I was drawn to sci-fi with Dropfleet Commander and Core Space. My wife was kind enough to relax our original plan to focus on just Middle Earth.

But neither of these scratched the “Star Trek Planet of the week” exploration itch we both had.

Then I thought… what if we had a “exotic location of the week” with a sailing ship instead of a spaceship?

This then lead to broad historical, fantasy and gaming research. Searches for affordable, yet compellingly cool figures and terrain.

I thought about various inspirations. 

Johnny Quest. Scooby Doo and the pesky kids dispelling supernatural occurrences. Captain Nemo. French Napoleonic soldiers dealing with a cursed forest in the otherwise disappointing Brothers Grimm movie. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The movie Brotherhood of the Wolf. The tv show La Revolution. Richard Sharpe and the story of Cortez’s gold. Pirates of the Burning Sea MMO. The Three Musketeers. Master and Commander. Pirates of the Caribbean. Frankenstein. The movie Tripoli. The movie Wind and the Lion. The movie Last Samurai. The movie 55 Days in Peking. The movie Zulu. Indiana Jones. Treasure Island. Last of the Mohicans. The Alamo. The Lewis and Clarke Expedition. The tv show The Terror. The movie Major Dundee. Various French Foreign Legion movies, including The Mummy and March or Die. Alatriste. On and on and on. So much inspiration!

And of course there was the Imagi-Nations I found on some blogs that earned my envy.



Brilliantly creative worlds with their own inherent narrative gaming. Such gaming would free us from unwanted historical baggage. 

So the plan was to create our own world but then I stumbled onto the pen & paper RPG 7th Sea. 

It is inspired by recognizable Earth history and mythology but is not our Earth. A little earlier than I originally had in mind at first glance but the more I read about 7th Sea the more I see the time frame is very loose. Sadly I have been unable to find anyone doing 7th Sea inspired wargaming, just typical heroic party RPG sessions. The game has a very narrative driven over the top heroic gaming system. At first I had no interest in that aspect but over time it has started to find some appeal and I am wondering if we can apply some of the core mechanics to Sharp Practice, in particular the “magic”. 

I use quotes for “magic” because I want there to be a discoverable scientific explanation for all the supernatural phenomenon we discover in the game. The “gods” for example being other dimensional or advanced alien species, ie Thor in Marvel and/or Stargate. Vampirism and lycanthropy being natural, if exotic, diseases. 

In the first edition of 7th Sea the metaplot involves the long gone ancient civilization the players find ruins and artifacts of turn out to be aliens. This was somewhat contentious and was removed in the second edition. I want to use it as a possible tie in to the ideas the folks at Battle Systems have to link their sci-fi Core Space game to a yet unreleased medieval fantasy game. So have the Core Space First Born be the 7th Sea Syrneth.

I think we need to be careful to remember that we are wargaming rather than RPGing in part because it is less time intensive and works better for solo or just two people. My wife and I both think RPGing works better with a bigger group of people. We are both experienced with pen & paper as well as LARPing. 

The thought is for my wife to become the protagonist for our Middle Earth Gaming and me to be the protagonist for this project… which I really need to come up with a catchy name for…. hence Tarnished Splendor? What do you think of it? Too long? Not descriptive enough?

My protagonist character will be a captain in the army of Montaigne, the 7th Sea nation inspired by France but the game has that nation on the brink of revolution and I want to play it as post revolution, with a mix of Republican and Imperial historical France elements. Core plot themes being the spread of republican revolution, science over superstition, exploration and discovery. Think of a turn of the 19th century Starfleet and Federation.

To that end near the top of my painting priority list is my Napoleonic French figures. Being Montaigne figures instead of French will give me some latitude in regards to mixing uniforms of different years, ie no arguments over late versus early Napoleonic French uniforms. 

I have a collection of various Victrix, Perry and Warlord Games plastic multi-part Napoleonic French kits in different variations of uniforms from various years of use. I think that this lack of uniformity captures the handmade, pre-industrial aspect of the forces involved.

First some Fusiliers. The basic, conscripted line troops. The sculpts are full of character and sometimes just randomly putting figures together results in things like the one Fusilier that looks drunk.

I also finished a few Grenadiers.

One of the Grenadiers looks like he should be in a balcony heckling Muppets…

Whilst I am planning to take some liberties in the figures, historically correct French are my starting point and the gaming blog most helpful so far in this regard is…


The best overall research resource for Napoleonic French I have found is…


Some of my French figures will be converted to be Royalist Montaigne….

Inspired by the Royalist French in the Hornblower movie, “The Frogs and the Lobsters”

……some will become Castille forces…. inspired by this…

Other figures will be used for various other nations with a lot of flexibility in regards to historical fashion (thank you Fantasy elements!). Rule of cool and coolthentic suspension of disbelief being the guidelines. AWI & ACW kitbashed multi-part plastic kit figures for various guerillas, pirates and militia groups. Tricorns in Vodecce (Venice). Fringed coats in The Colonies. 

For those interested in knowing more about the 7th Sea second edition world, the best online resource I have found so far is this blog…


As I research 7th Sea there seems to a somewhat problematic development process, from the original edition two decades ago to today. Chaosium, the current publisher seems to be handling the… difficult… Kickstarter fulfillment issues. But everything seems to be taking much longer than originally expected… delayed as in the order of a couple of years delayed. Which is a real shame.  I am particularly keen for the expansion, The Colonies to be finished and released.

We are waiting for some first edition nation books we‘ve won (at shockingly low prices) on eBay to arrive and if they look good we may go ahead and buy new 2nd edition PDFs from Chaosium.

We won an auction for some Hanoverian infantry that I am going to paint up as Eisern in service to Avalon. And we want to get some British Rifles from Wargames Atlantic when they come out. 

So, according to what I have read Theah is the continent based on Europe and Numa is a nation of islands descended from the great city states that once formed the “Old Republic” and later a great empire … so is largely based on Roman/Greek influences. Numanari soldiers (mercenaries?) served the Queen in Avalon during their civil war/war of unification. 

I am thinking of adapting some plastic Zouaves to be Numanari in Avalon service based on the Napoleonic era 1st Regiment Light Infantry. And using a Dragoon head for their leader based on Theodoros Kolokotronis.




We have plenty of Multi-Part plastic kits of Zulus, Afghans, Sudanese, Woodland Natives, and Arabs just waiting for conversion kitbashing. 

I am wondering how we might make use of ancient Greeks and Persians (since I have so many going spare) for this project. Suggestions welcome!

We will also be adding some full on fantasy elements, such as GW Seraphon Lizardmen. Perhaps Mantic Sea Elves. Undead. Monsters.

Suggestions for unit uniforms and figures to use very welcome.

So much to do and never enough time.

Just to be clear this will be a 28mm project with figures individually based and using sabot unit movement trays for formations as per usual with Sharp Practice. But the goal is to game bigger fights than the usual Sharp Practice… think of it as a very large skirmish game concept, not full on Napoleonic battles with figure representing one individual at company to maybe eventually understrength battalion scale.

Best Soundtrack I have found so far to capture the tone and theme of this project is the Anno 1404 pc game soundtrack.

And now we have a castle…

Our mate Tom (the man who hooked us on the DF caverns) has been feeding our Dwarven Forge addiction again. Thanks Tom. I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning when I turned the two fire braziers on. We need more DF. We NEED it! My Precious!

In other news, we watched “Outside the Wire”.

I am really struggling to write any kind of review. My wife and I struggled with the massive plot holes and inconsistent internal logic which shattered the suspension of disbelief. The best thing in it are the “gumps”. If ever there was a name US soldiers would give robotic infantry, that is it. It is clear there was a military advisor on the film but that they were repeatedly ignored or incompetent. That said there is some impressive hardware, ie weapons, robots and vehicles.

Here is a review of the movie that generally reflects what my wife and I thought of the movie.

We also finished the last episode of the Expanse and Hornblower. Both were disappointing. That said I look forward to the next season of the Expanse and they really need to do a new, quality Hornblower movie on par with Master and Commander.



  1. For what its worth, I like the name! I think a good name has to sound good or impressive and Tarnished Splendor does that. I really like the ideas you’ve put forth as well and I don’t have much feedback other than to say go for it! I really admire how you’re taking all kinds of influences and interests and creating an interesting world from them. If you decide to add some pulp elements, I’d look at Savage Core for some potentially useful minis (if you haven’t already. While in theory, it has little to do with your setting, you’ve got me thinking that I should try and do something similar to Tarnished Splendor with the Weird West genre one day!

    I also wanted to mention that the minis you’ve painted all look great. I think they have some of the best looking faces you’ve done yet so keep them coming!

    Also, Anno 1404 is really cool game. For whatever reason, it was released as Dawn of Discovery in the US and I don’t know why they didn’t make more games set in historical times in that series. I really liked that aspect of it and just the overall depth it has. I wish there were games released that had that. I love action games but something that makes you think and is immersive is great too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I keep bidding on Savage Core figures and losing… so great minds think alike. The Savage Core setting is great and I love many of the sculpts.

    It would be brilliant to see you create a Weird West project!

    Thank you for the kind words. I tried Citadel Contrast paints for the flesh tones finally. I am still experimenting but I think they work well.

    I have listened to the soundtracks of several Anno games but have never played the games myself, although my wife has. I particularly like Anno 1404 for historical gaming/painting and Anno 2070 for sci-fi gaming/painting. The Stellaris soundtrack is also great for sci-fi but then that is a computer game I put hundreds of hours into.

    Thanks again for the kind words of support mate, they are appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, where to begin? Agree with Kuribo, the title Tarnished Spendor works! I think it works on many levels, both as a unit disgraced and trying to redeem themselves by travelling to new adventures or as a leader doing the same.
    Have to admit I got sidetracked reading your blog when you started mentioning movies as influences, you must have been looking at my DVD shelf! Only thing missing was the Ray Harryhausen movies. I always liked the French Foreign Legion theme, wished there was more movies with them. Speaking of movies, my first thought on the Grenadiers was the Wicked Witch guards from the Wizard of Oz.
    Do you have a sequence of events, where they will travel in mind? Are you planning one unit progressing as in Battle Companies or just battles in different environments? If you have mentioned this, my apologies.
    Looking forward to reading more as all this comes together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes, all the Ray Harryhausen movies… great point! Definitely part of the inspiration.

      I had a sequence of events but it got a bit turned on its head with the 7th Sea expansion book for The Colonies (the not-North America) being delayed in production. Originally I wanted our first campaign to be in North America, er I mean Not-North America.

      Now I am thinking maybe a campaign on the Castille border with a Peninsular Campaign vibe. Bandits, the Inquisition, Multi-national deserters (think of the group with Obediah Hakeswell from Sharpe), Castille regulars, militia, guerillas, Avalon “advisors”, Montaigne Royalists, mercenary “adventurers”, Tamatama (the not-Romany Travellers from the not-Russia called Ussura), maybe some werewolves maybe not. We may want to save the Gothic Horror for elsewhere.

      Then a campaign with more far distant travel. Pirates for sure, with the Atabean Sea. Maybe some Gothic Horror in Eisen. Black Forest, Van Helsing, Brothers Grimm kind of stuff.

      Or we may decide to start smaller, use our figures for a Ghost Archipelago campaign set in the 7th Sea universe, in the Atabean Sea region.

      It really depends on whether my wife wants to learn Ghost Archipelago rules or not and what gets painted first.

      I definitely want character progression for the leaders at the very least.

      A lot depends on my wife. Originally we wanted to stay away from magic in order to avoid high fantasy tropes, focusing instead on reason dispelling superstition, but the more I read of 7th Sea the more compelling I find the argument to leave the magic in the setting as written.


  4. Yeah, I like Tarnished Splendor quite a bit. Very evocative. So did you end up getting that Bones V ship? Are you going to wait until it shows up to start the campaign? How big a crew are you going to have for your explorations? I really did that idea. Even though it is a different genre, it kinda reminds me of the unfinished Kane story by Karl Edward Wagner, In the Wake of the Night, about a ship exploring the first human nations after the pre-human races fell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ship is the main reason we backed the Kickstarter… although we ended up pledging for a lot more than just the ship. We still have quite some time before it arrives, then quite some time for me to paint it so I think we will begin before then.

      I am not exactly sure how big the crew will be yet but probably big enough for Sharp Practice, so around 100 sailors, soldiers and scientists.


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