Thursday, February 28, 2013

Osric: The murder of Merchant Dabas the younger (8)

Our group is currently at Shadowdeep attempting to complete some commercial transactions and hire a blacksmith for the village of compliments. Rolo, the halfling has taken off to deal with 'clan business' (Our PC playing Rolo was unable to attend this session), but both Jenks and Scabs are able to meet with the dwarven smith Flanigan they arranged a social event last session with.

A frigid snowstorm has come off the icetooth mountains and grips the city. As an aside, the GM has revealed that he is setting this campaign in Allansia, a place that may be familiar to those who played fighting fantasy books. He has obviously taken some liberties, but it is a cook world and has a fair amount of creative 'flex' on account of all the different authors of the books creating material.

The groups heads down a narrow stairwell to enter the dwarven pub. On the way down Jenks is bumped by a hoody figure with a baleful milky white eye who reeks of fish. Expecting a drunk bar fight he holds his tongue and passes by. This, friends, comes back to haunt him.

Flanigan, after a few drinks, is shown the recovered dwarven plate armour with a diamond in the chest. He notes this is actually duergar manufacture....a group of dwarves from the first battle against chaos that were corrupted. The Dwarves don't like talking about them. Naturally the question of where this came from comes up....and we tell him about the crypt of Kas the bloody.

Flanigan: Located in the old city of Greenich?
Us: That's the one.

Flanigan tells us we're idiots to disturb the crypt. Duergar are in Greenich due to a curse on the duergar king. Possibly if we deal with him, the others may be released. I forget the details but either they guard the liche (or serve him?), or the dragons treasure....or both.

Our biggest issue now is that the liche room could be disturbed. Only really a problem if there is a sudden ecological void (goblins wiped out) that would allows stupid adventurers to access more of the dungeon. Ummmmm, hmmmmmmm. Possibly might be an issue.

Flanigan wants the duergar plate to destroy it, he doesn't much care about the large diamond though. As a sweetener he offers to make a magic weapon for the group using the diamond. Over the next 3/4 of a day he (and the group assisting) forges a scimitar with magic properties. The blade will cause an invisible creature to turn visible and be unable to achieve invisibility for the remainder of the day. Perfect for use against his ancestral enemies, no?

With regard to our smith shortage, Flanigan is too successful to agree to leave Shadowdeep to come to Compliments. We ask him if there are any aspiring blacksmiths he'd like out of town, and he suggests the dwarf Gideon who has been sniffing around at his business. We approach Gideon in the pub and he would agree to come to Compliments for a capital infusion of 1000gp plus a stone building. He also needs to crank out at least 60gp worth of goods a month. He notes that we better decide soon as the merchant Dabas junior (senior was previously murdered) has been bargaining with him as a house blacksmith too.

We decide we should speak with the merchant Dabas, both to avoid a bidding war or earning an enemy if we hire Gideon, and also because he has the tealeaf clan ring (Rolo's clan).

In the early morning (after catching up on sleep post the pub visit and forging a weapon) we head over to visit Dabas (the younger). A heavy snow has fallen and there are very few people around. Scabs seems to be suspiciously familiar with the location of the manor. As we arrive we find the guard at the gate is dead with a snapped neck and positioned like he's asleep, he's also quite cold.

We briefly toy with the issue of how not to appear like total criminals while potentially acting like total criminals. Eventually we decide to brazen it out and head straight in without disturbing the corpse. We find the guards dogs in the yard are mostly dead, however one has undergone some horrible mostly yelps and cries in pain and tries to move it's blasted structure. Jenks the druid promptly puts the beast out of it's misery. We are beginning to get a bit spooked.

After we pass bloody snow drifts we enter the front door (swinging in the breeze) and find the entire house stinks like rotten fish. Barely up the stair case we are suddenly attacked by frozen, rotting/undead halflings. We do well in the fight and it isn't till near the end we find they have a draining paralytic touch. Eek.

Scabs predicts an elf will be present sooner or later as well...... Apparently these aren't the tealeaf halflings that we thought they might be.

In the upstairs bedroom of the merchant we find the undead frozen elf. In addition to the elf, who is feasting upon the fingers of the corpse of dabas, there are some 'dancing girls' (dead) and a dead mutant with a milky third eye and tentacles instead of fingers. The door to the balcony is wide open and frigid air billows in. Jenks finally connects this mutant to the the smelly bastard who ran into him coming out of the pub. Probably a good thing he didn't say anything at the time.

We grind our teeth and check the elves mouth and stomach to see if the ring we seek is present. While we do find a number of bitten off fingers and rings, there is no sign of the ring Rolo is hunting for. We conduct a bit of petty theft but mostly leave everything for the law to search.

After summoning the watch, we watch as they summon a cleric of law and lock down the place. We are questioned a bit and then there is a blast of frozen wind that fires open the balcony doors. One of the dancing girls sits up right and is obviously possessed by...something. A horrible witch voice emanates  from the corpse and mocks us and the city and predicts our doom. A calling card of the snow witch of the ice finger mountains.

Hunting for more information we try Anadamas the sage, but he has been meditating for the last couple of days and is unreachable (as per his servant). We go to the splintered shield academy to track down the league of Justice. Gelf, the priest, Trad the fighter, and Noin the wizard going us to speak of the happenings.

The League of Justice agree to go to ice finger mountains to face the snowwitch and her burgeoning army of chaos. Flanigan will also accompany them. We are to investigate the crypt of Kas and attempt to ensure that it is not disturbed again.

We decide to hire an cleric and illusionist to accompany us in our trip back to the dark crypt and head off North to deal with one of the proliferating threats to the region. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mobi Lens!

I recently received my reward for backing a kickstart for a attachable lens for cell phones, tablets, etc. It's known as the mobi lens. Considering a do a vast majority of my picture taking (in particular my hobby pictures) I was intrigued by the macro lens option.

The Mobi lens is a clip on lens that fits many platforms. I popped it on my laptop the other day during a skype conversation and was quite impressed with the increased viewing with the panoramic shot. I snagged a few pics immediately after opening it in a restaurant I was at.

Here we can see the panoramic lens with a before and after shot. The target point is roughly the same, but there is a dramatic increase in field. Not really useful for most of my shots....but it might be helpful when I go on road trips.

The more interesting function is the macro lens. You simply unscrew the panoramic lens, and it converts over to the macro (2 lens in one!). I was surprised how close you need to hold the camera to achieve a sharp focus, but the magnification is quite pronounced.

I've tested the macro with a few of my nerd figures recently painted. They are 15mm naps (which will figure in some up coming posts on what I've been working on). Interesting to me was the blurring that occurs in front and behind the focus point. I beleive it's called depth of field, and boy oh boy does the macro lens not have any. It does create an interesting effect through when taking pictures. I'm sure with a better camera app, or even a real camera I could play around with this effect intentionally rather than stumbling around with happenstance pics.

As a smaller picture they don't look too bad. I can see when they are enlarged that the blurring starts to detract from them a fair amount. I may have to play around a lot more with the lens.......and perhaps it's time to investigate camera apps.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Brightstone Keep: Highlighting and Fungus (3)

I ended up needing to replace my metallics to finish off the tower. The old 'bolter shell' pots of GW paint are abysmal for not drying out. Once I was reequiped I did the metal work around the wheel of magic in gold, with a brown wash, and picked out the symbols themselves with a silver. 
The clockwork I was/am a little torn on. I do like it in a copper, but there isn't really enough going on in there. I think I was the black background roughly coloured (drybrushed perhaps?) in copper as well in an internet pic, and think I might like that. But I can imagine if I don't do it right it will look awful and detract from the gears themselves. At least it is mostly hidden in shadow when the tower is assembled. 
I did like the bricked up archway with the hidden symbol. For those in the know this is obviously a sigil to tzeentch, the changer of ways. This chaos god is closely aligned with magic, and I like to think that this helps explain what has gone wrong in the tower and resulted in it's partial destruction.

Afterwards I tried to add some fungal/lichen growth where I thought it would be (I live in a damp climate, so it makes sense to me that there will be green crap growing in cracks everywhere it's wet. 
The obvious one was by the drainage hole at the base. I also did a bit in a few other parts of the base. The few remaining wood singles got a dose as well. 

I remember seeing old 'eavy metal pics from white dwarf that had a fuzzy fungus thing used. I had a hell of a time finding any information on how to do it though. The closest I got was in the hobby store the woman said that painters used to use pastels and shave them with blades and mix them with glue. I ended up using a vallejo earth tone/pigment mixed with some ink and white glue. It gives a bit of texture...not as much as I had hoped though. I may just need to add more and build up layers though. 

Here is the final (ish) product. I doubt I'll get around to doing much more besides sealing it at some point in varnish. Perhaps when I bring it out on the table comments from the gamers might inspire (or shame!) me into doing some more though.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rust effects finds more converts....


Saw a nice write up on the properties of rust effects on "Tale of Painters" blog. It really is fun and interesting product to play around with. I imagine it would be easy to get carried away. Apparantly you can wipe it away as it's water/alcohol based........even after it's dried? (Not totally clear from the write up) I may have to test this out sometime.

This page does a pretty good job of illustrating it's effects. Just thought I'd echo it here for the benefit of readers.....


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Osric: The trip to shadowdeep (7)

Renault (human fighter, seems lawful) is appointed Marshal of compliments and told to turn the bandits into guardsmen. Rolo, Jenks, Dan, Scabs, and Chester head (on foot) towards shadowdeep. During day 2 they find a mutilated hand and some cartilage and gore near the road. As they cautiously scout the area they find some tracks and a hole in the snow covered ground.

Jenks, the druid, succeeds in a very tough intelligence roll  and realizes this may be a snow worm. Mostly known through hearsay and rumor as they are supposedly responsible for the complete destruction of villages and pilgrim groups. He thinks that it has come this far south due to the particularly cold winter this year as they are not known in this area typically. After a brief think, he waves the group away from the hole, whispers what he thinks and they prepare to sneak away. It is not meant to be.

As a PC I am surprised to discover that the other name for the sand worm is a remorrhaz. I would have run away a lot faster.....arg. The monster explodes from the ground with some sort of head effect blazing from it's wings and head. Falling on Dan first the fighter looks grievously wounded and not moving. Rolo races off on his dog to start slinging from a distance, while Scabs and Chester move away too. Jenks, in foolish bravery, moves beside the beast to heal Dan (who comes to with minimum heal). The remorrhaz botches it's next attack on Jenks who manages to cast obscurement and a like heavy fog blankets the area. He is able to summon a swarm of insects to delay the monster (targeted on it's incessant bellowing and crashing.)

The group runs (with a 5 minute head start) away through the forest with the beast pursuing through the heavy wood. After a while they stumble out of the wood and encounter the league of justice who are just breaking camp and looking towards the crashing coming from the woods. They relay the situation and together the groups flee on horseback (the old bandit horses carrying the PCs) towards Shadowdeep. The league suppose that the bodies of the exiled bandits they caught may have attracted the beast towards the road. Jenks chides them about poor corpse management (a bit ironic as compliments was a bit ripe when the league was there).

The league informs Rolo that there is a bounty in the case of a murder of a wealthy merchant, Dabas. I halfling and an elf have been implicated. Rolo suggests they vouch for him and they agree(his donation of gold to the restitution of villagers at compliments obviously struck a cord with the league). Once in town he meets with the Watch captain who questions him about his plans and his clan. It turns out that the tea leaf clan halfling were found dead on the outside fence of the merchants manor one morning. The following night the murder happened. Rolo inspects a book found on the halfling corpses which has information on the merchants household (basically casing the place for the robbery). He feels that the murder wasn't done by his people and agrees to inform the captain if any information comes up. He is given a warrant endorsing him as innocent and unwanted in the crimes.

Meanwhile the group tracks down an old friend of Scabs, the Dwarf smith Flanigan. Flannigan purchases some finely made elvish shortswords off the group thereby making us liquid again. He agrees to meet us for a drink later about a potential deal (we want him to come to compliments, and also to furnish us with information on deuregar).

To kill the rest of the day we track down a sage,  Anadamas, and offer to exchange information on the near mythical sand worm in exchange for information on items to see the invisible. In an aside I am totally stoked that I get to use a sage. I've never had a chance before and as far as I'm considered it's totally old school badass. That and getting to use henchmen and followers. Awesome!

Ahem. Besides suggesting hiring a wizard or illusionist from the Academy of sorcerous arts, Anadamas checks the tomes of his grandfather and tells something of a ring that might help us. (This part is totally amusing). A ring that is known to grant the wearer invisibility as well as the ability to see the invisible went with an adventuring party of a halfling and several dwarves who went north to secure the treasure of the dragon scorchwing. The dragon was known to have a lair in the area that the now deserted city of Greenich is located.

Information on the crypt of Kas the Bloody
We now have a number of hints about the dungeon of kas the bloody. Likely there is a dragon somewhere in there. Shadowdeep hired people to wipe out greenich due to it's evil predations. The well of stars on level one showed visions of a group of a halfling and dwarves. There is further confirmation of such a group by sage Anadamus. The league of justice and the notched ear goblins both mentioned a liche there (we have a good idea of the room he is located/sealed up in).

One wonders if there is a connection between the deuregar and the dwarves that came with the halfling.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pirates: Ainsty pirate ship battle damage

Another Port from the Old blog. I did a massive Ainsty order (to receive maximum discount and free shipping) around Dec 2011. I received the full package early in 2012. I must say early that Andy Lyon over in the UK (of Ainsty castings) is a princely individual. He was very good about keeping in touch with me. The first set of packages got bounced from Canadian customs for some weird reason, so he had to sent them again (these were 2 very large boxes). When they arrived (the second attempt) this is what I found.....

Shipping damage to a wonderful pirate ship fig. Everything was well packed, but transit across the atlantic can be rough, and it's easy to blame the monkeys who deal with the mail (FedEx in this case).

I'm hoping to get some advice on the best way to proceed with repairs.....afterall this looks like a clean break and it's not comminuted at all (I'm sure anyone familiary with broken ones will appreciate this comment).

I emailed Andy to ask what the best way to repair this was, not really wanting to cost the guy MORE of his margin on shipping, instead I got this message:

Hi David

Jeez thats really frustrating. I will send another Hull over to you next week. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often but thats no joy to you. At least I guess it got through customs this time.

Will get one packed up early in the week



Andy Lyon

The final (Third!) package arrived very quickly and was a whole other hull! I basically have 2 whole ships (minus one set metal fittings and mast). Like a said, I was very impressed with Ainsty. I'll try and review of the stuff I got and have finally been getting around to washing up (oh resin....sigh). 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Osric: Truth, Reconciliation & The league of justice (6)

Unfortunately the league isn't our PC's.......

Dan (F), Jenks (D), Scabs (gnome T), Chester (Gnome T), Renault (F) leave the dungeon and hiek back towards the village of Compliments. Towards dark on the first night they encounter a Halfling at a fire, along with his mount/wardog. The halfling, Rolo (a PC), assures our group that there are another 10 invisible dogs with him in case we wish to do him harm. We decide to stay with this plucky halfling and caution him about the bandits along the road (without snickering much). Rolo reveals that he is heading to Shadowdeep to recover a clan heirloom, a ring, that was seen there and offered up for auction. Some other members of the clan have preceded him but there has been no word from them.

Over night there is disturbance in the wee hours of the morning and a human head is thrown into the fire. The head belongs to Donna (Jenks & Renault recongize it but decide to spare Dan the details). Calling out that we are heading away and don't plan to come back we hope we won't have any more trouble. We hear crashing and felling to trees back the way we came. Investigating later we find Ogre/Troll sized foot prints that shrink to man/dwarf sized prints around a road block of trees. We suspect it's the Deuragar as Scabs hadn't seen anything in the dark. We proceed South in the morning for a few more days to compliments.

Back in the village we find out that some mercenaries have taken up habitation of the tavern. Ignoring them for the moment our group has a meal and retires for the evening. The next day in the temple Jenks and Dan encounter Gelf, a war priest of Titan (the god who created this world). He rocks a ZZ top beard as a distinctive feature. Gelf reveals that the powers that be in Shadowdeep (the city to the south) have find this nest of bandits to be onersome enough that they have raised a bounty to cleanse it. Gelf's group (who I dubbed the league of Justice because they are so obviously lawful) wish to spare the villagers depredations of waves of mercenaries looking for scalps to 'prove' they have slayed the bandits.

The league has been speaking with the villagers and is basically abreast of the fact that the PCs are now defacto rulers of the village. Jenks reveals the brief history of the successive leadership changes and improvements in removing the bloodthirsty bandits, however Gelf indicates that the villagers still see bandits in town, unpunished, and Scabs/Jenks/etc as leaders. We are essentially facing a crusading adventuring party who has identified us as a problem. Thankfully they aren't totally unreasonable...they indicate that if they can report the bandit problem is 'solved' and return some of the loot the bandits. Gelf is pretty cagey about where the League is staying and declines an invite to a's almost like they don't trust us to try and take them out.

Heading to the manor Jenks updates the group. One of the PC's notes this sounds a bit like an extortion scheme. Earlier in the morning Scabs woke to a window being wide open and a drawer in his room previously locked and unsearched being open and emptied (belonging to the original bandit leader Galen)....obviously the league has a thief who is prowling about as well. We hatch a scheme inspired by reality....a truth and reconciliation ceremony. We will bring together the bandits and the villagers in a big ceremony and have them talk about the bad things that happened and what the effects have been and why they occurred and how we can prevent them from occurring.We don't want this to be a punishment meeting, it's about moving forward.

We find the league in the tavern and brief them on the plan. Rolo makes sure to note that he just arrived in town. It also comes to light that the mercenary Jenks and Scabs rescued (Terren from part 2) was a comrade of the league. They went hunting for him because he did not return. Jenks is actually distraught about this as he went out of his way to help this guy get home. I think we scored some points here from the League.

Gelf et al want some punishment and are fairly unimpressed that there was bodies stashed in the tavern that were unburied. We agree that individuals collectively identified by the villagers as true problems will be exiled. The league smirks and offers to escort them out of town. Our plan now includes a group internment and prayer of the victims of the cannibal (a were hyena) and the burning of his shack. Mrs. Garrison will make good food to start. We plan on turning over all 6 of the horses we have as well as a gold statue and 20 gems, 1000 silver and 1000 copper. Considering we did a massive yuletide give away it probably represents everything we got from the bandits.

We give our loyal bandit guards the heads up about what's happening and they decide to get out of town. The ceremony goes quite well and it comes to light that the bandits speak of being ensorcelled by Galen and doing things they wouldn't normally do. After he was 'killed' by scabs they retained more of their willpower and Burrel (the ogre) was leading more by threat and bluster. Amazingly 10 of the bandits (the lions share of survivors) trickle into the event over the evening.

The league then suggest it's time for the villagers to elect a leader of the town. Bastards. Amazingly the villagers agree that there was been lots of improvements and Scabs did remove Galen and Burel and elect him.  Gelf then suggests it's time to offer up restitution to the villagers who have lost family members. BASTARDS. We helpfully point out that with the yuletide give away, all the funds have been given to the league. They dart some dirty looks to us and then offer up all the copper as a victim fund. Rolo kicks in 150gp from his ring recovery fund at this point. The villagers mutter perhaps they selected the wrong mayor.

Finally with the cloud of certain death and destruction dealt with the league prepares to leave....they helpfully note they will return in a month to see how things are going. Need I say it? Bastards.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blightstone Keep: Wheel of Magic and Rusting! (2)

I continue to make progress on the tower. I've managed to paint the wheel of magic (having some warhammer Fantasy Roleplay books to consult helped). I'm hoping with some ink washes and adding some metalics for the trim it will help this pop.

My yellows ended up being a total disappointment and hard to work with. I ended up tossing 3 paints (I vaguely remember trying to paint with yellow and being totally disappointed in my skill......I now realize it's both hard to paint with yellow AND I had totally sub par equipment).

 I've started to add some colour to other interesting bits on the tower. I wanted it to look as if it was poorly painted over the stone, or that the paint has faded.

The problem with this is that it may also just look like I have no idea how to paint. *Sigh*. I do think it is better to have some subtle colour on there instead of bold murals on the outside. I'd like the strongest colour to come from the circle inside.

You can see the terrible coverage of the yellow on the griffon on the second story. This is when I basically gave up with my current paint and decided to toss it.

I was also delayed in my progress waiting for this gem to arrive. Rust effects by Model mates. I can't remember how I stumbled across this link, but the short youtube video had me very interested. I ended up ordering through Firestorm games, as finding a supplier in North America seemed challenging and they offered free worldwide shipping with a minimum order (*cough cough, not hard to be twisted into that*).

I tested on the exposed bands of iron on the top floor. Painted right over black primer I was fairly pleased with how easy and good this looks. It's a fairly thick fluid, but certainly not gloopy or sludgey. I think you can continue to build up the effect, but a single heavy application got the effect I was looking for.

 I proceeded to apply the rust effects to all the iron rings, chains, and the front gate. I aimed to have obvious runoff from the disintegrating iron that is staining other places. Not sure If I'm totally happy with the threshold under the gate, but it will be fine for the time being.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

CinC Lefebvre: First contact

March 10, 1809 
Well, it was not meant to be. Spanish troops have been encountered around Burgos, probably easily brushed away. Victor and Mortier (Red and Rust) have been delayed by the fortresses and are only at Pancorbo. Most troubling is that Portugese/British troops are rumoured at Braganca....on the 7th. This means that Vallodid is no longer possible to capture prior to the Brits arriving.

I have dashed off reports to the commanders to try and stage a trap.  A weak force of mortier will sit at burgos, with his remaining troops resting at Pancorbo. I (yellow) intend to move to Belarado via Longrono (2 days march), hopefully the spanish cavalry currently at belarado gets trapped and can't scout us properly. Victor till take his place at Aquillar de campo, and screen Casstrillo de villavega with his Cav. If all works out properly it will appear to be a corp in Burgos with some screen out.

Ney is moving to Navaleno for the post battle excitement.

When the enemy falls on them along the main road from Vallodid, all the forces on 'march to the sound of the guns' will reinforce from many directions. Hopefully we get a great matchup and can mop the floor with our opponent. It's a bit of worry time wise as it should *just* be possible to get into position if there are no major battles with the few spanish troops in the area. (hopefully they are set to retreating). More of a concern is all our troops are tired. It would be nice to have a day or two to rest prior to the battle.

Regardless of what happens, Ney will be able to resume a drive West on Vallodid, screening our move on Madrid, possibly cutting supply and/or hitting the Brits in the flank.

In other news a mystery force has appeared in Roncevalles. I'm pretty confident that the Spanish shouldn't have been able to sneak through our advance. Rumor has it that there are now Guerrillas spawning. Off goes another detachment....

March 12th

My forces dealing with the guerrilla problem
Well, plans change already. Yesterday we reacted to a bunch of guerrillas spawning and eating messengers. Today some messages then caught up with me, and Victor is already gallavanting down the road to Vallodid. He's one leg away. I'm a little concerned that he will hit the 16k of troops there with his 21k and suddenly find reinforcements pouring in. The other equally scary proposition is the British show up with a counter attack immediately after one battle.

I've instructed Mortier to try and get rid of an irritating Spanish cav division that's hanging out west of burgos, and occupy a position that will cover Victors flank. Hopefully if he gets rolled back the two of us (and Ney when he arrives) can arrest any dramatic problems.

March 13th

The system is on pause. A battle between Victor and Anglo-Portugese forces at Vallodid looms. Apparantly we hold a full corp vs approx 1/2 corp Victors troops hold a pretty decent mix of veteran's.

Mortier is ensconed at Burgos and I'm in close support at Belarado. I may have Mortier start moving west, although it would be nice to know the result of the battle first. If it's a loss, then we should hold tight.

In the Center, Ney has started to shake his forces out and cross the ebro, swing  west and move towards Vallodid. Him and I are both editing a supply line...I don't think he realizes it needs to supply Augereu as well. Speaking of which, it appears VII corp hasn't moved in almost a week. He's besieging Zaragoz instead of leaving some forces and moving on. I need to send him a messenger telling him to get his ass moving. *Sigh*

The battle *may* get played out this week. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lamenters: Decisions Decisions.... (2)

Originally posted in December on my other blog I've ported this one over.

I'm consolidating my blogs so I've ported this one over....

I'm trying to decide how to finish off my lamenters. These chaps are largely complete......It's simply a matter of deciding what colour to do on their shoulder pad trim. I'm also willing to try over suggested colours.

Right to Left
1/. Currently the base colour doesn't seem to pop enough. I've had the comment that the mini look unfinished.
2/. The gold is very similar and is hard to recognize as much different from the base colour. Perhaps the subtlety is good? Looks similar but there is a contrast? Not sure on this one.

3/. The white is alright. It pops. The checks still look good with it. This is an ivory, I may dirty it up a bit by doing a grey underneath and highlighting up to white. 

4/. The red also pops and looks good. It matches with the red line on the helmet. I'd prefer to dirty this one up a bit as well. I'd need to buy another red (darker) so i can highlight up to the blood red that is here.

5/. The black I don't particularly like as it detracts from the checker pattern. 

 The boys all lined up for comparison. All pictures should go much larger if you open as a new window.

I *may* also change the colour of the cover on the bolter to a khaki/tan type thing. Alternatively the bolter cover could match the shoulder pad trim.Comments highly solicited.

Here are the replies in the Comments (I received some others verbally and via email)

I did what I always do when I have a colour conundrum, which is ask Grace. She thinks the gold trim is best, but she also says that the other shoulder pad should be dark green.

For me, I like the gold and red options. The white is most contrasty, but I don't know if it works as well with the rest of the minis.

2/. Model with Red trim stands out the best IMO. Do not use Green on anything with Red, unless you are confident you can avoid the Christmas Colour Conundrum.

One Green Shoulder might look good with the Gold trim. I do like the Gold trim, but it unless you highlight your model more its going to blend in and look plain.

White is a poor trim to use on the Check pattern Red, Green, Blue or Yellow would be better.

In all cases use highlights to pick out any details that might blend in and not stand out. With painting minis I find there two classes. Tabletop and Collector. Models can be awesome in tabletop quality, but they tend to not be as awesome when looked at from about 10 inches or so. Collector Generally is good under close examination but fails to be impressive on the table unless great care is taken to make it pop.

I like your scheme with the red and the one with the gold. Red will pop on the table the Gold will look great with some extra effort and look nice under closer examination.

All IMO of course.