…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:
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?