The first thing to say with the Piemen was that they were created for a charity-won event and, as such, we had a budget of £0 + whatever Refs could afford to soak on materials. Fortunately we had enough rubbish lying around the place that we were able to make some pretty effective monsters on a shoe-string budget. The kid’s craft shows of the late-80s and 90s would be immensely proud of us. This was a great challenge for us as it was the first time we’d had to do an event in this way.
If we’d been creating these beasties for a weekend event and had more of a budget to play with, we have ideas of how we could have made them truly grim and considerably more hardwearing. As it was, we were pleased with the fruits of our labour which came to the grand total of £0 as we were able to use materials we already had, or bits and pieces from our own recycling bins.
We needed to create at least four cheap, light-weight costumes which could stand to be worn by highly combative creatures. They needed to offer good visibility, particularly as their vision was important. It’s often been a joke of events run in the distant past that cheeky player-characters could take advantage of sight-restricting costumes and simply run past monsters. We wanted to avoid that.
There were two main parts to the Piemen: their skull heads, and their feathered bodies.
The heads started off life in three main pieces: the dome of the skull, the beak, and the eye sockets. The domes were created by many, many layers of papier mâché over a glass bowl which was large enough to sit on top of someone’s head. In the end, this was less important as the eye sockets meant the headpieces needed to balance on top, but, well, we tried.
The beaks were cut from medium-sized plastic milk cartons, taking advantage of the carton handle to provide the distinctive nose ridge of bird skulls.
The eye sockets were the top of 2l plastic bottles with the raised cap area cut off and sealed to provide a nice, round hollow. Appropriate circles were cut out of the domes and the sockets sunk in.
The different skull components were stuck together using gaffer tape, parcel tape, and hot glue. When the shape was sufficiently stiff, it was covered over with more papier mâché, and finished with thin crack-filler plaster which was then sanded.
The headpieces were painted up with common household emulsion (on account of us having a lot of it around), with a bit of dry brushing done using standard Games Workshop miniature paint to provide detail.
They were fixed onto crew heads by using scraps of long black fabric in the same style as the rags which were used for their “feathered” cloaks. As such, the straps were well hidden. Crew wore face obfuscating hoods to hide their faces, and adopted stooped mannerisms in-game as part of their bird-like behaviour of the Piemen, which helped to hide their natural shape.
The cloaks saw us sacrifice a number of bedding sheets, and mine the very depths of our scrap fabric boxes. The cloaks were very material and time consuming, but worth it. We could afford to be rough and inexact as we wanted them to looked raggedy. After the initial “cape” shape was decided on, four of them were sewn up in such a way that they were attached to arms and could be pulled on like sleeves. The high necks meant that none of our crews’ hair could be seen (especially with the face obscuring hoods on). Lucrecia only ended up in A&E once despite the heavy use of craft knives to tear fabric strips, so it was a win all around.
Crew were instructed to wear dark clothes and we butchered some old bike tires to make long, white fingers. Again, if we’d had more time and budget, we could have done something fun involving bones and additional joints, but they did the job!