…a whole bunch of creepy/nasty things like Murder, Maim, Mayhem, MSG, Malice, Malevolence, Mc Donalds – a multiplicity of malignant, yet mellifluous, mutterings. But in this case, M stands for the creepiest, most sinister thing in this, or any other, world – Morris Dancing.
I wanted to paint up some ‘death cultists’ for Frostgrave, but fancied doing something a bit different from yer normal ‘hood ‘n’ cowl’ gig. The idea of how cool it would be to use Morris Dancers came up in chat with my OH, and a bit of Google-fu turned up these fine chaps sold by Gripping Beast. For those who aren’t in the know, Morris is a traditional English folk dance. Of particular interest to me from an aesthetic perspective are those that practice ‘Border Morris’, which goes in for darker clothing and heavy face paint… in fact, traditionally, they went full ‘black-face’ (though this practice is a bit contentious for obvious reasons). In many ways, these guys are like clowns, but with sticks, and it’s one of those quaint, funny little English things that I can’t help but re-imagine with a sinister twist… I do love peeling back the bucolic charm of folksy England to reveal something altogether evil… polite of course, unfailingly polite, but evil none the less. In movies, classics like ‘The Wicker Man’ spring to mind, or check out ‘League of Gentlemen (especially Papa Lazarou), or the movie ‘Hot Fuzz’ for more contemporary examples of this trope. Terry Pratchett also had good fun with this idea, (and in fact came up with ‘Dark Morris’ – I term I rather like!), so I’m in good company I feel.
Anyway, enough of the history and rationale, let’s get down to it, shall we? I’ve gone with classic ‘death’ colours of black, purple & red, and I painted up the sticks to look like carved bone. I also had a crack at the heavy face paint that characterises Borders Morris, (I went for a black/purple split, and tried to suggest a painted skull rather than full on face paint). A wee bit of blood spatter and some general dirtying up, and here we are:
The stick men… what is in that bag?
The guns… mostly drunk I suspect
So there we have it – the Dark-Morris of Death!!! Game-wise, these guys are intended to be death cultists for Frostgrave’s ‘Thaw of the Lich Lord’ campaign, but they could easily be a new warband in their own right (guns as archers). I think that they would also work nicely for pulp, or even sci-fi games at a push. I hope you like ‘em – I’m not very good at face paint, (and don’t think that bit works very well if I’m honest), but I just can’t help really liking these crazy dudes :-) Thoughts?
Didn’t see that one coming ! I have to say I like how they could definitely many roles in many kind of games despite being a bit niche to begin with.
There’s a colour scheme here I’m fancying too… ;)
haha, surprise!!! ;-) Yeah, I think these guys are so bonkers that they become flexible by accident! Help yourself to the colour scheme mate, it’s classic OH undead colours to my mind, and I intend to supplement this group with various skellibobs and a Lich overlord in the same scheme… hopefully it’ll all make sense!
Absolutely brilliant! We saw some Morris dancers while visiting York a while back, and these are a great, sinister rendition.
Thanks Mikko, glad you like mate. It certainly is a weird world out there! :-)
:-D Cheers Warbs!
Who, me? no :-)
Brilliant! Morris dancers creep me out and now even more so ;P
Then my work is done :-)
Well I thought of a lot of crazy things starting with M but I never thought of Morris dancers! They’re looking nice and creepy mate – it’s the way they look almost like ‘normal’ Morris dancers… until you spot the blood…
Haha, cheers mate – creepy is good, and I’m really glad I managed to surprise a few people! :-)
Not knowing much about Morris dancers I looked it up on YouTube and found Morris dancers at a Morris minor rally in the Isle of wight. Haha. Very cool and unique idea mate. The colours are great. I can’t see the faces all that well so could you post some close ups maybe? Probably just my old eyes. I’m off to watch some dark Morris.
Cheers mate, they’re good fun aren’t they? :-) The faces are a bit tricky to get at tbh, those hats are pretty low & shady!
Ahh ok. They’re very cool.
Not sure if this link will work here but just found this. It’s cool and they have black faces. The music, lyrics in particular, are very cool.
Brilliant! See? Totally death cultists. ;-)
You need to do some with top hats.
Good call – I may add more in the future, and will definitely convert a few up if I do. I really like the rag coat on the hobby chap as well!
Nice work here, they’ve come up nicely as a group and the face paint does work, I think – though my exposure to Morris Dancers is limited to some snark in series’ like Blackadder.
Cheers mate, muchly appreciated :-)
Absolutely terrifying. And terrific.
Haha, cheers mate, I was aiming for creepy, but terrifying is even better!