2020 was a hell of a year, and 2021 is looking to be more of the same. At least this time we’ve had a year to figure out how to cope better. In my case, it’s been to buy a lightbox and an LED lamp so I can actually take photos and paint during the winter months without relying on the sun like some ancient oracle.
I’ve been picking away at projects to photograph, and with so many lined up it’s time to start blogging again. First is an early Christmas present to myself – a set of Forgeworld Ruinstorm Brutes that I had been eyeing up to make Inquisitor-scale Bloodletters.
A brief brief
In the World That Was, I was halfway through my first proper Inquisitor campaign, the Gorgon Crystals, at my local store Asgard Wargames. The pandemic hit, and aside from the social, emotional and financial devastation it left (and is still leaving) in its wake, it also left my campaign grossly unfinished.
I still had the Inquisitor bug, and I’ve been having vivid hallucinations about setting up an Inquisitor livestream (but one tangent at a time…), and I had set myself a task to try and create some 54mm Daemons.
Our games of Inquisitor have lots of Ordo Malleus characters and daemon-killing toys, but rarely (if ever) does something pop up. It would be easy (albeit expensive) to just buy one of the plastic Greater Daemons and plonk it down, but it would always look a bit off – it’s just a 28mm Greater Daemon but just a bit smaller. I wanted things that looked right when scaled up a bit.
So, with this needlessly pedantic brief, I set about putting in a Forgeworld order…
Resin for the resin gods
Although they’re not a spitting image for the 28mm versions, I figured it makes them more interesting. They’re much chunkier and covered in protruding spikers – nothing like the battlefield versions you see in the pages of White Dwarf. Chaos Daemons have a few distinctive features, and as long as you can mirror those, I figure you can make just about anything look like an aligned creature of Chaos.
The elongated skull and horns were the bits I wanted to emulate – the rest of the minis were basically perfect. I had to dig through my bits box to find the perfect sets, and although I set out to try and find three identical sets of horns, I much prefer the three different heads. It makes them much more characterful!
I also gave each a unique haircut to help further split them apart. The horns are from various sources – the far left were snipped from an original metal Bloodthirster, the middle horns are from the largest horny skull from GW’s box o’ skulls, and the horns on the right are tentacles/bony growths from the plastic Chaos Spawn kit.
They were coming together excellently. The bodies needed very little doing to them – just some hot water to bend the ankles back to make them less hunched over. The sand is an attempt to emulate the weird bumpy texture on their skin.
I briefly thought about about making balls out of green stuff and gluing them on one at a time, but my sides split from laughing at myself. Even after 9 months of working from home and never leaving the house, there wasn’t enough hours in the day for that nonsense. Just slap some sand on it.
I thought about replicating the iconic blades out of plasticard, but common sense prevailed. For one, see above about good use of time, and for two, I liked they were all equipped differently. It made them easy to tell apart on the tabletop and I started conjuring up some interesting character concepts – maybe one of them was the fastest, one the strongest, one the best fighter…
The only change was to change the hammer head out for something bladed. I had a cool Khornate lance tip, but then found an OG metal Bloodthirster axe in my box (seriously where did these come from?) and it was just too good a fit to turn down.
They didn’t have much armour, which was fine from a gameplay perspective, but it meant I wasn’t going to get a lot of bronze into the colour scheme. Again, I thought about painstakingly sculpting on some bracers and anklets, maybe some rings and other piercings like the 28mm versions do. Or…
*slaps minis* these bad boys can fit so much jewellers’ chain on them.
I smeared them with some finer textured paint to break up the larger sand particles (and help them stick, I wasn’t convinced PVA on resin was a particularly tough bond). Let’s get some paint on them!
A contrast to my usual style
I figured the year of our lord 2020 was a good time to try out these new-fangled contrast paints that everyone has been banging on about. The minis are organic and almost completely one colour, which from my research was what contrast paints were practically designed to work best with. One black and red purchase later…
Holy moly! Why haven’t I used these before? One thicc coat later and pretty much all the work is done for me – 20 minutes rather than half a dozen hours of painstaking layering. The only downside I found is that they don’t handle well.
I’m an ape who doesn’t use a mini holder when painting, just my big ol’ sausage fingers, and I found the paint rubbing off where I was holding the models to rotate them. After layering over those areas with original paints that seemed to fix the problem, but it was somethign I needed to consider if I planned on using these kinds of paints on minis I expected to handle on the tabletop quite a bit.
Time to crack out the light box! About halfway through painting I realised they were missing another key Bloodletter element – a big ol’ licky tongue – so that was added with green stuff between watching paint dry.
And some scale shots…
I want to axe you a question
I layered a little extra red over the contrast paint to prevent the aforementioned rubbing off, but otherwise the only major change to the skin tone was touching up the extreme edges with orange.
The spikes were initially done with a black contrast while the red contrast was still wet, and they blended quite nicely into each other. Time saving!
I want to great axe you a question
I went with a classic look for the weapons – edge highlighting up from crimson, through orange, yellow, and finally white on the finest points.
I was mulling over the idea of having the glyphs carved into their flesh expose a lava/magma effect underneath. That seemed like a lot of effort, and then I realised that I hadn’t used ANY of the most important paint on the models – Blood for the Blood God.
I splashed a little bit in the recesses to test and it was perfect! I was worried the two shades of red wouldn’t stand out, but BftBG has a purple hue which contrasts nicely with the yellowy-orange used to highlight the scar edges.
I want to sword you a question
I wanted some fancy bases, but being a lazy-ass I wanted something I could just slap some paint on. The Chaos Waste bases from Micro Art Studio were the perfect fit to the bill, and I picked them up before Brexit made everything horrible.
Drybrushed a few cheeky shades of grey and beige, I splashed a bunch of slightly watered down BtfBG into the skully bits to make them look like horrifying charnel pools. Skulls for the skull throne!
I’m dead happy with them. They came out better than I imagined, and I already have half a dozen different scenario ideas in my head for them.
After looking at the Inquisitor ‘Build a Daemon’ articles from yesteryear’s Exterminatus magazine… wow Bloodletters are absolute shitlords on the tabletop. Maybe three of them is excessive…
Maybe it’s time to get that grey knight conversion off the starting blocks…
A while ago I become obsessed with the Yu’Vath – a long-dead Chaos-worshipping alien empire with a penchant for corruption, sorcery, and warp-based technology. They all got bumped off (supposedly…) a few thousand years ago, their empire long in decline as they had fallen to the worst of their perversions and excesses.
The only thing that remains of them are their undiscovered facilities, filled with strange technology and powerful guardians animated by warp-sorcery. The perfect Cthulhu/Necromantic crossover that can spook a 40k RPG group that thinks they’ve seen all the universe has to offer!
They originally appeared in the Rogue Trader RPGs, and I was so hooked by a particular enemy that I knew I had to assemble them. That enemy has yet to surface in any of my photos, but what I did end up with was a box of skeletons that was just begging to be turned into skeleton warriors.
Box o’ bones
I ordered a wholesale lot of cheap plastic skeletons, which came to less than a fiver including shipping (2017 was a wild time).
They came in this charming box of pepper sachets, which excitingly enough, still contained a single sachet.
Holy moly that was a lot of skeletons. It was at this point that the thought struck me to make more than one project out of these lads – even the most elaborate construction wouldn’t use up as many skeletons as there were here.
“Why not a bunch of giant skeletons?” asked my professional degree-worthy creative genius.
Building a bunch of giant skeletons
It wasn’t obvious from the pictures when I ordered them, but these skeletons are big lads. They’re easily 54mm scale rather than the traditional 28/32mm of regular 40k miniatures, which was a pleasant surprise. It meant they were the perfect scale for any skeletal Inquisitor shenanigans.
I was impressed at the variety of poses too, and despite them being obviously very goofy, I could have a variety of weapons and armour to keep any encounters interesting.
At the time I didn’t have enough round 40mm bases to mount them on, but I had loads of square bases from my time with Warhammer Fantasy in the early noughties. A big square base inset with a smaller one gave the perfect statue plinth look, and when attached at a jaunty angle, the skeletons looked like they were stepping off the plinth and coming to life, Jason and the Argonauts-style.
It has to be said that these are probably the worst miniatures I have ever worked with. Obviously I’m getting exactly what I paid for, but I’m still allowed to be mad.
They were covered in mould lines and connection points, and the plastic was some awful cheap stuff that was too hard to scrape clean but too soft to file down, so they all ended up with these horrid jaggedy marks around them where I couldn’t be bothered to clean them up any more. Not only that, but nothing seemed to stick to them, even when pinned down, I had to bathe their feet in superglue to keep them attached to the base.
The bases got a light smothering of the new (at the time) textured paints to break up the monotony of the classic WHFB square base texture.
I cleaned up what I could be bothered with, knowing that I’d get diminishing returns on something I paid a few pennies per model for, and gave them a blast with some grey primer.
I did mention they were tall, right?
Painting the skeletal horde
The painting scheme for these guys was minimum viable product – I had a game lined up with them in a few days, so they just needed to be game-ready. They weren’t going to win any beauty awards, so they just needed a wash, a drybrush and to pick out key areas.
The recipe was simple – wash them with Nuln Oil over their black primer, then a drybrush of grey, with a lighter drybrush of lighter grey.
I rejected the classic boney skeleton look as I wanted these to be made of stone rather than the skeletons of some huge 10-metre race of humans.
The metal sections were a mid gold colour and a liberal application of another technical paint I hadn’t really experimented with, Nihilakh Oxide, to get that lovely tarnished effect. The Oxide was applied liberally, then roughly wiped off the raised areas with my big sausage fingers.
Once they were done, I felt like they were missing something. Of course they looked cheap and cheerful, but they didn’t look spooky enough. I toyed with the idea of giving them classic glowing eyes, but that just didn’t feel right.
I wanted to give them an other-worldly glow and the chest cavity seemed like a great place to start. It my first time experimenting with Object Source Lighting (OSL), and at the time I feared that I had overdone it, but on reflection I don’t think I went far enough! The purple is very subtle, and I wanted a more powerful and obvious glow to it.
Whereas traditionally for undead constructs you would remove the head or destroy the brain, I wanted to slightly subvert that for these guys. Our Voidmaster has become an expert at headshots, and I wanted him to have to put a moment’s thought into the encounter when realising that it doesn’t immediately work.
I figured whatever sorcerous artefacts are powering these constructs, they are doing so from centre mass. I made an effort to explain how they were glowing from the chest cavity, and how blowing off their arms and legs didn’t seem to bother them at all. Even when their heads were removed they seemed to unerringly detect the players, as though the creatures that created them didn’t know or didn’t care about the function of the humanoid body, it only mattered that it looked like a terrifying visage of death to them.
The story began to build around that – these were not Yu’Vath, nor were they created by them. They implemented Yu’Vath technology, but they were build by some humanoid race in thrall to the Yu’Vath empire out of fear, necessity, or both. Why were they built? Who built them? These were all exciting questions outside the scope of our Rogue Trader game, they only needed to exist to build a bigger picture of a wider universe, and reiterate how small our characters were in it.
All in all I’m very happy with how they came out! For a project that was technically part of a different project’s budget, I’ve got some nice tropey villains that work at any scale and can be inserted into a game without much effort. Chuffed!
With a triumphant, haunting cry, a titanic creature bursts into realspace, a wave of pure warp energy following in its wake.
The augers shriek in protest. The great void creature is nearly five times the length of the vessel with the mass of a small station. Its sleek body is pockmarked with strange lights and lashed with deep scars, and it propels itself through the void on massive pinions.
It lets out another fearsome psychic wail and banks through the asteroid field to bear down on the Unbroken Resolve, its terrible vantablack jaws open wide.
Creatures of the void sea
What’s space without vast, unfathomable creatures borne from the dark between the stars?
Our Rogue Trader campaign is packed with exploring the stars, and while the 40k universe has plenty of strange aliens to interact with, sometimes you just want something really alien.
Many moons ago I picked up a pile of cheap dinosaur toys with the express interest of using them as a basis for conversions. I was sure there was something I could do with this lad.
The head was obviously not intimidating enough, and his lil leggies had to go, but the shape was good and it was covered in lots of interesting bumps that would paint up nicely.
Tyranid bits are a classic, although you have to be careful disguising them if you want to make a non-Nid creature. This is the enhanced senses biomorph from the old plastic Carnifex, the multiple eyes and big antenna seem perfect for tracking prey in the depths of space.
I wanted something that looked like flippers or wings – something to propel him through vacuum on strange alien biology. Some nice Tyranid scything talons fit the bill, and mounted sideways gave him lots of lovely girth.
Even more yranid bits for the underbelly, this time like the extra leggies on the underside of a horseshoe crab. There was a lot of Tyranid pieces in this build, so I’d have to be careful painting them to avoid making this creature look like a Tyranid.
Blending the bits together with some green stuff did the trick. It helped smooth the joins between the legs and the body, and made the head look like it was part of a whole rather than an angry turtle.
I did my best to match the patterns of the shell and blend it into the remnant of the armour plate on the head, disguising the Tyranid origin a little better.
Time for paint!
Colours of the deep
Ugly undersea fish were my inspiration for this, and a chance to paint with some of the brighter colours in my collection.
I love how a basecoat can pull together a modelling project, and bringing out some of the textures with a simple pinky/purple drybrush was a delight.
I was imagining different biologies and what could sustain a creature this size in the nothingness of space. Perhaps its main prey (space jellyfish!) have inbuilt solar reactors, generating food from nuclear energy in a similar way plants do, so this big boi has to feed to keep its own plasma drive equivalent running.
It does mean a player’s spaceship would look an awful lot like a big, delicious jellyfish…
The paintjob was a simple one – drybrush everything purple and pink, darken down some areas with washes, then pick out the key details.
I tried my hand at blending between the pink and blue areas, but it turned into an indistinguishable grey so I don’t think that worked very well. The extreme blue highlights are enough to tell the story, so you don’t really notice the failed colour blend.
It’s got this lovely angry fish/turtle feel to it, I’m very happy with how all the separate pieces came together to make something quite frightening.
I did’t want them to kill it, just drive it off. It’s psychic as well (naturally), so the Astropath would be able to pick up weird signals from it. After wounding it, I’d want it to limp away crying for its mummy.
Wait, so this was just a small one?
Every victory should always come with a sense of dread in the Void Sea.
Overall I’m extremely happy with how this project turned out! It cost me 90p in dinosaurs, helped reduce the size of the bits box, and made for a thrilling session.
It’s got me thinking what else could be lurking out there…
Sergeant Caleb gazed out into the inky abyss. Frore, the world he stood on only days ago, was now just a puncture wound of shimmering blue light. He held a stub round up against the window and watched the planet shrink into nothingness. A bullet bigger than a planet – he thought to himself – why Caleb, that almost sounds profound.
He looked over his shoulder at the entrance to the command bridge. Great bronze doors loomed over him, vault-like in construction and lavishly decorated. A grand mural engraved into it depicts a scene of copper-coloured warriors laying waste to warlocks and sorcerers. The voidship’s name is carved into marble – the Bronze Harvest.
Caleb hated void travel. The constant noise and alarms, having to suck down someone’s recycled stink breath and the terrifyingly thin skin that separates twenty thousand souls from a horrifying, unnatural end. He found himself tapping on the plas-glass with the bullet. Just how hard would he have to hit it to break it?
“Missing home already, Sergeant?” An impossibly calm, soft voice cut through the chaff of noise from the great voidship. It chilled Caleb to his core.
He span on his heels. Down the corridor strode a tall, cloaked figure, moving effortlessly and silently. His face was skull-like – his skin pale and sallow, his eyes sunken and his head completely hairless. He was the visage of death. Not the violent, bloodthirsty, screaming death that all guardsmen knew. No, this was the death they all feared – the one that came swiftly and silently in the night.
The figure wiped a bead of sweat from his brow with a long, bony finger, producing a tall peaked cap from the recesses of his cloak and placing it carefully on his head.
Caleb mustered a salute and pushed out the bare minimum of respectful greetings through gritted teeth. “Commissar.”
By now the Commissar had glided gracefully next to the Sergeant and stared out the window alongside him. His eyes were as dark as the void, but with no glimmer of light in the distance.
“So good of you to join us to keep us updated on your failures,” The Commissar spoke in deafeningly hushed tones. “It’s always better to soften the blow in person, mm?”
“Powers damn it Jeremiah, it was a trap and you know it!” Caleb snapped, “You’ve read the reports!
“Aahh yes.” The Commissar began tapping on the window with his forefinger. It made the same noise as the bullet. “The reports that say you were surprised not once, but twice by the same acolytes, and while they were wearing their Sunday Best, no less.”
“By the Saints, do you think I don’t know what’s at stake here?” Caleb was seething. “Don’t you think that if I’d had even just a handful of my Ultraviolet cell instead of those Borzoi Hiver cretins I’d have cleared house and secured the Pattern? Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought someone was setting me up to fai-”
A deep boom issues from behind them, drowning the Sergeant out. They both turn to watch the elaborate series of locks and bolts disengage with the percussive tempo of a marching band. With a shudder, one of the doors opens a sliver.
A young girl steps out, barely in her twenties, dressed in an immaculately pressed Navy Officer’s uniform. She holds herself like a woman twice her age and four times her experience and addresses them both.
“Sergeant Caleb, Commissar Krell, the Inquisitor will see you now.”
A tray of measuring tools clatters to the ground. A boney finger readjusts a pair of half-moon spectacles on the bridge of a long crooked nose. Scrivener Malkin pores over the transcription scroll in his hands, a long ream of parchment that snakes around his small chamber and terminates at the vox-receiver. It has been furiously producing vox reports for over an hour now, its transcription arms squealing under the sudden workload.
He had read enough. His pallid cheeks had drained of what little colour they had left. He gathers as much as he can manage and bunching the bottom of his robe together in one hand, stuffs the transcription into the cavity with the other. Holding the bundle of robe and scroll close to his chest he barrels out into the dark stone corridor.
He staggers his way through the Lithologist Guild undercroft. The thick parchment had been re-purposed from heavy duty field seismograph readouts, and he finds himself stumbling every few steps. The sound of his feet slapping against the smooth floor echoes down the hallway.
“Master! Master!” He bursts into Lithologist Tamfrey’s quarters in a flurry of paper. Tamfrey barely looks up from her quillwork.
“What is it now, Malkin?” She responds in a throaty rasp. “I thought I told you to stop scrubbing the vox network for data, you know full well we don’t have the resources and if anyone finds out we’ve-”
“Lord Hojo is dead!” He exclaims breathlessly, cutting her off mid-chastisement. “There was a gas leak on board his train and-”
In a blink Tamfrey was within inches of Malkin’s face, thumbing through the readout for herself. Malkin is breathless at how fast his crippled master in a wheelchair can move.
“Tell me, scrivener,” she scrutinises the quivering scribe with her good eye, “this engine, millennia old, the pride and joy of the Mechanicus of Forlorn Hope, archeotech from the Golden Age, a vehicle that has never once stopped for refuelling or repairs since records began – you want me to believe it runs on gas?” The sounds of her bones creaking as she moved was painfully audible.
Malkin tries to suggest a half-baked theory in consolation but is cut short by the spittle of his master’s conjecture.
“No no no, this is not an accident,” she continues, her good eye glazing over, “This is a power play alright, but by whom? House Chosokabe? House Cutter? The Glassmakers’ Guild?”
She postulates loudly while sifting through papers, each one headed with a different noble household crest. Malkin watches, wide-eyed and dumbfounded.
“Whoever it is will come looking for us sooner or later, such is the price for corruption and moral bankruptcy.” Tamfrey continues, sweeping piles of Hojo-branded documents into Malkin’s arms.
Our once-regular games of Rogue Trader took a side bar for a small Inquisitorial investigation into a psychotropic drug made of ground up psykers. The criminal organisation responsible was headed by a shadowy figure called the Principal, a powerful Slaugth Infiltrator complete with hidden moon base, brain-worm zombie minions and its own terrifying technology.
The Slaugth are a pretty horrid bunch, described as “a vague humanoid shape composed of seemingly hundreds of writhing, half-melded maggot-like worms covered in viscous, necrotic mucus.”
They first appeared in Dark Heresy as a fascinating villain and party-wipe machine even on their lowest setting, and although I desperately wanted to unleash them on one of my player groups, I figured only the Rogue Trader party would be able to stumble blindly into an Infiltrator and make it out intact.
On the board they’re as horrifying as their appearance – they’re amorphous, regenerating, terrifying and immune to toxins, fatigue and critical hits. They’re horrifyingly fast, can hide just about anywhere and can punch a character’s hit points clean off in a single blow.
They also rock around with terrifying Slaugth weaponry. This one is partying with a Necrotic Beamer – a magic wand with a lascannon packed inside, with the fun additional trait called Disintegrate. Any victim suffering Critical Damage from this weapon is blasted into a cloud of ash and vapour and is completely destroyed. Time to burn a Fate Point!
Building a monster
No Slaugth miniatures exist and with only a handful of pieces of artwork to work with, I had a fearsome amount of artistic licensing. There were a few other Slaugth conversions on Google at the time, but I wanted a particular bunch-of-worms-in-a-cloak kinda look and none of them really grabbed me.
I was going through a period of converting up Reaper Bones minis for use in Rogue Trader, and found the Wraith model suited my purposes. It couldn’t be that hard to fill it with lots of tiny wriggly bois, could it?
The mini arrived and was a little smaller than I’d hoped, so I popped him on a wider base to give him some gravitas on the board. I wanted him to have some kind of sceptre to represent his necrotic beamer, so that would be held above his head to give him a bit more height.
The wormy lads were just tiny rolls of greenstuff with a tapered end, stuck into place with a dab of super glue and bent into shape with a sculpting tool to make them look wriggling and grasping.
You can never have too many worms! I would add maybe a dozen tiny tendrils each modelling session, letting them cure fully so I wouldn’t stick my stupid fingers in them while I was adding more. It wasn’t a particularly time consuming process, but I’ve learned from my many sculpting mistakes that it’s far better to do it in lots of small chunks rather than try to do too much and ruin the progress you’ve made with a clumsily-placed thumb.
Their tech is described as unfathomable, corrupted, and a blend of synthetic and organic. I wanted to avoid him looking like an angry wizard with a simple cane with an orb on the end, so I snipped the end off a Plaguebearer’s sword and inverted it for the ‘handle’, and used the smokin’ skull from some Nighthaunt kit for the top.
This had the added bonus of giving it some extra height while also drawing attention to the weapon it wields, giving me an opportunity to do some fancy special effects when it got painted.
Painting a million worms
Time to splash some colour on!
I went for a dark and eerie palette with splashes of unnatural light for the weapon. I trialled a dark brown for the cloak but it looked very bland, so I covered it up with dark purple.
Luckily I didn’t have to paint a million worms. Each got a couple dots of grey along their uppermost ridges to look like segments, then they were all covered in a liberal amount of gloss varnish to rack up the icky-factor.
The base was originally going to be a gunmetal grey to match the evil lair, but it was too drab and didn’t contrast enough with the dark robes and black squigglybois. A light sandstone colour was perfect to frame the mini on, and gave me lots of evil ideas about running a Mummy-style scenario being chased around a pyramid by a swarm of angry worm-men.
The staff was painted a very dark green and given a few black washes to darken it even further. The extreme edges were picked out in very light colours, giving it an eerie jade-like appearance. I wanted it to look otherworldly and dangerous without it being Chaos, as that’s not what this chap is about.
I wanted it to look like malefic energies were spilling from the skull at the top of the staff, and it was my first time painting lightning and I think it came out rather well! It involved lots of consecutively lighter thinned-down layers of paint, starting at dark green and working up to almost pure white. Drybrushing the smoke didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, however.
Overall I’m extremely happy with how he turned out. It looks like an unfathomable cosmic horrow, the perfect kind of Xenos for my games! It got a great outing in our Rogue Trader campaign, causing one of our characters to burn a Fate Point almost immediately, and took the entire party plus retinue to gang up on it, setting it on fire, slinging plasma and stabbing it with an Eldar witch-blade to take it down.
How a Dark Heresy party is supposed to take these on is beyond me!
I’ve got big plans for more Slaugth, especially their horrible flesh-constructs, and I’ve been eyeing up the Nighthaunt range for larger minis to base my cloaked horrors on. My partner has just subscribed to the Age of Sigmar monthly magasine, so fingers crossed one of the Cairnwraiths turns up that she doesn’t want…
It’s been almost 5 months since I posted last, the combination of global pandemic, criminal negligence from the people elected to look after us and the largest civil rights movement I’ve ever lived through hasn’t given me much headspace to create content. I’ve been sat with the same 9 draft posts for months, some are from an Inquisitor campaign that is looking increasingly like it’ll never see completion, some are of projects from 2017(!), some are writing or design that I never got round to editing.
I’m still mourning what I’ve lost, and while thankfully I still have my health and all my loved ones (we were quick to go into isolation while our government arsed around and delayed a proper lockdown), I’m coming to terms with what a new ‘normal’ will be.
I’ve done a heap of hobbying over lockdown, occasionally sending snapshots over Twitter, but I’ve neglected the proper writeups and lovely images that come with it. I’ve been putting off my ‘welcome back’ blog post for a while, either because I wanted to do a big, explosive return with lots of exciting new content, or I wanted to sneak back in under the radar and pretend nothing happened, or something in between.
Lockdown has given me a lot of time to be introspective, and logging back in to find there are still dozens of people accessing the site daily despite zero activity on my part has given my spirits a lift. The world is in a strange place right now but knowing I can bring pleasure to people with the things I create is enough to dust off the keyboard and get back to publishing.
I’ll be tinkering with the format of the blog, hopefully with more emphasis on the RPG stuff I’ve been working on, but for now I’ve got a tonne of cool minis I want to show off…
Super easy to assemble, I got a box of five for less than a fiver on the internet. After making a bunch of weirdness for various RPGs I was running, I was looking forward to batch painting some soldiers.
Snipping the heads off was straightforward, they just needed their necks hollowing out with a craft knife to make room for the Anvil heads.
I picked up a Cadian command box from my FLGS Asgard Wargames so I could make a gunner and sergeant of some kind. I also happened to have a spare ogryn in my bits box, so guess who was getting some auxiliary muscle!
I was pretty deep into our Orthesian Dynasty Rogue Trader game and we’d just started discussing the possibilities of recruiting an army, so naturally I became overly obsessed and planned out half a dozen different Imperial Guard regiments using the Only War regiment builder. None of them got used, but one of them got lodged in my brain and the only way to work it out was to assemble them.
Anvil Industry don’t make Ogryn-sized helmets (yet…) so I had to assemble my own pith helmet from green stuff to complete the look. I had no idea what I was going to use this squad for, but I knew they were going to crop up in our Rogue Trader game and give my PCs a headache sooner or later.
By this point I’d settled on the name – Hastati mercenaries from the planet of Demeter. They’re modelled on the Imperial Guard, but they’re a bunch of bastard-hard mercs who specialise in planetfall, ship-to-ship combat and bringing the local flora and fauna to heel. They’ve identified a niche as an army that specialises in just about everything a Rogue Trader needs on a hostile planet, and they appreciate that rivals showing up is all part of the paycheck…
Trooping the colours
I knew I wanted them hella flashy, with rich colours for their tunics and elaborate metalwork to show off their wealth. The Ventrillian Nobles were an inspiration, as were the obvious colonial redcoats their helmets are based off.
A nice bronzey metallic with two coats of wash then edge highlighted with the same colour gives an easy-win expensive look. The real bollock was the white – just when you think you’ve done enough thin layers…
The fatigues and tunic were the same idea – base colour, wash and layered on the top. I didn’t want to paint more than a dozen, but if I *did*, I’d want a scheme that could be batch painted. I don’t even need to actively punish myself, I can potentially punish myself in a hypothetical future. Cosmic brain hobbying.
I still haven’t perfected my plasma coil recipe. I always go for the cop-out of lighter colours on the ridges, as I can never get the under-glow right. One day I’ll be brave enough to attempt the anti-highlight, but it wasn’t on this project.
PS don’t tell anyone but I absolutely did not drill out this barrel.
I toyed with the idea of having them on jungle/desert bases because it fit their aesthetic, but I really liked the juxtaposition of cold, hard starship flooring. They might be adept at traversing alien worlds, but their home is made of steel. It’s not terra firma under their feet, but grav-plating.
I’m very happy with how the big ogryn lad came out. The whole squad was designed to be an encounter on an alien world with a rival Rogue Trader, and I couldn’t shake the idea that trekking through the unknown with a heavy weapons platform didn’t seem right. Your heavy support should come with its own set of legs, and aside from avoiding the odd dark enclosed spaces, should be relatively self-sufficient.
Mid-level Rogue Trader RPG parties are capable of putting out an astonishing amount of firepower, but aside from the odd defense-heavy Explorator, aren’t capable of withstanding a whole lot of return fire. As glass cannons go, they just get an awful lot more cannony – relying solely on deleting threats before they become a problem.
Ogryns are strong and tough anyway – coupled with some decent armour and a shield made of space magic and suddenly they’re a potent threat. Your sniper character can’t one-shot it, so you have to dedicate some of those precious resources you’d use to delete more dangerous threats.
All in all a lovely little patrol group. Trained human mercenaries are not high on the list of things you expect on an uncharted alien planet, so I hope it’ll give my players a run for their money!
It is the late hours of the night shift on Port Impetus – the Dog-watch – and you are pursuing leads on smuggled xenos artefacts salvaged from the wreck of a merchant vessel, The Sojourner.
The port is rocked by an explosion. Reports filter in, scattered at first, but the picture builds quickly – a warehouse on the docks has been bombed. It is supposedly a Cold Trade hideout, a likely location of the smuggled xenos artefacts, and the reports of madness and violence that follow confirm your suspicions.
You scramble together a team, knowing you have only a few minutes on site before the Adeptus Arbites arrive to shut the entire investigation down.
+++++ Message ends +++++
Setting the scene
Three warbands are close enough to the warehouse to investigate before the Arbites lock down the area. A small gang of Longshoremen deploy on the board too – a collection of criminals and bored voidsmen on shore leave – who set off the explosives hoping to get their hands on some valuable artefacts. They should provide a nice buffer between the players and reinforce the idea that the warehouse is in a densely populated area.
The game takes place during the Dog-watch – the night shift – which is quiet by dock standards but still noisy enough to reduce hearing distances by half. Dimmed global lighting and crimson emergency lumens from the warehouse floor mean standard Detection tests for spotting people.
There are six loot tokens on the board, inside which are three xenos artefacts and three empty loot tokens. To find the artefacts, characters must pass a Sagacity -20 test on a loot token, then roll a D6. On a 4-6 the token is empty, and it is removed from the board. On a 1-3 there is an artefact inside! Remove the token from the board and replace it with a crystal.
Like the previous scenario, the crystals give off a horrifying warp-taint, capable of worming its way into the strongest of minds. Anyone picking up a crystal must pass a Willpower test or roll on the Hallucinogen table.
The Arbites are mere minutes away. The players have less than a dozen turns to complete their obejectives before they’re forced to evacuate the scene.
All the campaign scenarios use a rough ideology aligment to determine scenario objectives. They are designed to be conflicting, but not mutually so, and can change between scenarios. They can’t see the objective before choosing, however, so players are not necessarily aware of other players’ goals.
Puritan: Ensure no other parties escape with artefacts.
Radical: Recover more artefacts than are destroyed or captured by other parties.
The first outing of Diamond’s Interests – these guys are another house warband, and their overview is here.
Clamps is a cargo-lifter servitor – possessing immense strength and industrial skeleton reinforcement, plus a big ol’ pair of clamps to clamp things with. He’s not smart, fast or capable of thinking for himself, but he’s got a heck of a punch.
Diamond One is a wealthy noble scion with an esoteric collection of xenos and archeotech miscellany, including a shuriken pistol and a custom displacer device that he can manually activate.
Fetch is tech support – he brings all the tools necessary to open doors and repair things, plus his trusty lasgun with underslung grenade launcher and all manner of grenades – frag, flash and haywire to suit his needs.
Diamond One is eager to get his hands on some of the much-lauded xenos artefacts, so is pursuing a Selfish agenda.
Arbitrator Havelock and Corporal Salem – the Mysterious Strangers
The mysterious strangers are back, this time with a different contingent than the expeditionary force on the surface of Asteroid 825-79C. The same strange medicae skull has followed them however, and unconfirmed reports suggest the warband have been conversing with it. Tech heresy perhaps? Rumours abound that the mysterious strangers are actually in service to a radical Inquisitor, but these rumours are so far unfounded.
Raiding the warehouse for the mysterious strangers are Senior Arbitrator Lucius Havelock and Corporal Rynn Salem of the Bastille XIV Regiment. The first is an ex-Arbitrator (retired or volun-told?) with all the associated trimmings – shotgun, shock maul and stiff upper lip. Corporal Salem is the fire support, toting a drum-fed boltgun.
I tried something new for deployment – the intent was to eliminate the first few turns of walking towards each other and Pausing For Breath round corners. We were on a time limit, both in game and out, and I wanted to jump straight into the action.
Players can deploy characters anywhere on the board, but they are placed slowest speed first. I figured this gives faster characters opportunity to counter-deploy and react to their surroundings better. It certainly worked for getting characters into the thick of it!
Warbands broadly deployed close to one another with the Longshoremen setting up on the east side entrance to the warehouse.
Clamps deploys in the centre of the board, round a container from one of the central loot tokens.
Fetch sets up on the outskirts of the warehouse to the north, overlooking Clamps.
Diamond One deploys above the ruined east entrance to the warehouse, directly above the Longshoremen.
Kraw deploys directly next to the second central loot token.
Tlaxcala and Dmitri set up centrally only a stone’s throw from Kraw. They appear intent on holding down the centre of the warehouse.
Arbitator Havelock sets up on the other side of Dmitri’s container – it was going to get real bloody real quick.
Finally, Corporal Salem deploys above the ruined west entrance overlooking the warehouse.
With everyone deployed in tinderbox proximity, it was time to let the sparks to fly.
Arbitrator Havelock has pressed forward to the centre of the warehouse, confident that Corporal Salem has him covered. Dock alarms wail and the crimson glow of emergency lumens flood the warehouse.
In the distance he can hear the excited chatter of local dockers, and up close he can make out the heavy footsteps of Military-grade combat boots. He peers round the container to get a better look…
Kraw’s spider senses tingle and he checks his surroundings – he spots an all-too-familiar sight of a lawman’s silhouette cut against the crimson lights.
“They’re already here!” He hisses, squeezing off a pair of manstopper rounds against the Arbitrator. They explode off his shoulder, biting deep through his carapace armour. The gunshots ring out across the warehouse – if the warbands weren’t aware of other parties present, they were now.
Dmitri presses himself up against the container, peeking round but not spotting Kraw’s target. Havelock grimaces in pain as his master’s medicae skull goes about its duty, knitting his torn shoulder back together.
On the other side of the warehouse, Diamond One moves through the archway to get a better view of the gunshots he just heard. Below him are the chattering Longshoremen, somewhat more alert since the sound of gunfire.
He comes out to a ruined balcony overlooking the east side of the warehouse and crouches behind some crates, readying his splinter pistol. There are far more people here than he’d expected, and even with the help of the Deathclocks Guild he’d hired, he didn’t fancy his chances. If only there was some way to-
Hello there! A loot token right next to me? Don’t mind if I do…
In a single action, Diamond One busts open the crate and finds a xenos artefact. In a subsequent turn, he bundles it up under his arm (passing his Willpower test to avoid a hallucinogenic effect, darn it!) and makes a break for where he came in.
The Arbitrator player lets out a quiet “Well, shit.” as he realises his Puritan objective has already been failed. Time for plan B…
The Longshoremen split up into two parties – Drummer and Staz heading north, while the other three head south. The southern party, lead by Captain Ashford, edge towards the sound of gunfire.
The northern party stumble across their first loot token and Staz sets to work rifling through it for goodies.
Clamps had been inloaded with a layout of the warehouse prior to arrival, so he knew his way around. He’d been given a simple directive – clamp anything that isn’t Deathclocks Guild property or their employer.
He hears excited cackling from the longshoremen around the container and lumbers into combat, clamping excitedly.
He takes First Mate Drummer by surprise, but that isn’t enough to land a blow against him. Drummer deftly dodges his clumsy swipes, returning the favour with his sabre and causing a few glancing blows.
With Clamps unable to hit and Drummer unable to hurt, this started to look like a stalemate.
It takes Havelock no time to identify these mutants as Chaos-worshipping scum – the worst kind of mutant – and charges at Kraw across the bulkhead floor. His shock maul is held in his off-hand as his right arm is still too torn up to hold a weapon, and he can’t land a solid blow against the jinking, flickering Chaos cultist.
Dmitri takes advantage of the distraction and flanks the Arbitrator, peppering him with lasfire from his hell-forged lasgun. A series of duff damage rolls mean the attacks bounce harmlessly off Havelock’s carapace armour, giving Dmitri a slight sense of panic.
Kraw recognises quite quickly that even a disadvantaged Arbitrator is still an Arbitrator and doesn’t fancy his chances, so he backs out to try and bring his pistols to bear again.
Dmitri decides to play his trump card, and reaches for his Balaghron Horn.
It takes him the best part of two turns to finally equip and toot his horn, meanwhile Kraw and Havelock skip around one another in a deadly dance.
The horrifying toot washes over the warehouse, and characters from all over clap hands to ears to keep the ghastly noise from bursting their eardrums. People all over the board get stunned, including Salem (who hadn’t accomplished anything at this point anyway)and a few Longshoremen.
Our major players, particularly the Arbitrator, were entirely unaffected. Kraw uses the distraction to scamper off into the warehouse, while Havelock slowly turns round.
While Clamps and Drummer were distracted with one another, Staz finished searching his loot token and found nothing. He figured the First Mate was under no real threat from the jumped-up JCB so began clambering up some nearby crates to get a better view of his surroundings.
Then the toot happened.
Dmitri’s Balagron horn booms across the warehouse – Drummer and Clamps are unaffected, but Staz falls to his knees and clutches his head, blood streaming from his nose.
While he’s stunned the cunning Tlaxcala waits in the wings, steadying his aim with his implant plasma gun.
Guilder Fetch had been keeping an eye on proceedings from afar and decided it was time to strike. He’d kept a photon flash grenade loaded in the underslung launcher and dropped it right behind Clamps’, attempting to stun Drummer. The tricky sod passed his Initiative test, so Fetch shouldered his lasgun and fired into combat.
What’s a bit of friendly fire between friends?
In a burst of effectiveness, Fetch threads the needle beween Clamps’ legs and catching Drummer square in the groin. He hits the deck, stunned. Clamps wastes no time in taking advantage of the situation and plows both clamps down straight into Drummer’s torso.
What follows is a Critical Injury to the groin as Drummer is raised into the air and juiced – all his fluids squeezed from his lifeless corpse, somewhat like that poor Ork from the intro of Dawn of War 1.
Not content with merely clamping Drummer instantly to death, he hurls the body like a ragdoll at the stunned Staz. Fortunately for Staz, Clamps’ aim isn’t all too good, so Drummer’s body bounces off the wall and lands on the nearby container with an awful wet thud.
Back on the western conflict, Kraw has used the Death Toot as a distraction to slip out from underneath the Arbitrator’s nose and past two unsuspecting Longshoremen.
Dmitri and the Arbitrator exchange shots at close range – both digging small chunks out of each other, but not substantial enough to tip the conflict one way or the other.
The characters can also hear the sounds of the real Arbitrators in the distance – they only have a few turns left before they’ll be overrun by the law.
With the Arbitrator’s objective unattainable thanks to Diamond One’s stroke of early-game luck, Havelock decides Dmitri is his silver medal. He spots Corporal Salem is (finally) in position to contribute, and gives him a definitive hand signal.
Caleb opens up with his bolter, blowing gread wads of flesh from Dmitri’s stomach. He unceremoniously slumps over, rancid blood pooling around him. As loathe as Havelock is to administer assitance to an agent of the Archenemy, he instructs his medicae skull to perform life-saving duties on Dmitri. You can’t interrogate a corpse, after all.
The sound of a plasma weapon firing ripples out across the warehouse, followed by the sound of hacking, phlegmy laughter. Tlaxcala’s aim was true, and vaporised Staz’s head with a well-placed shot from his plasma gun.
Knowing the Arbites would arrive before he could get a second shot off, Tlaxcala slinks back into the shadows and off the board, cackling away to himself.
Kraw tries to make his getaway through the same route as the Longshoremen – Grigori barely notices the unsubstantial blur moving past, but Captain Ashford is wiser. He opens up with his own twin revolvers, plinking a few shots off Kraw’s boney extremities.
Kraw about-faces and blasts Captain Ashford off his feet, knocking him back through the ruined walls of the warehouse. Grigori decides discretion is the better part of valour and disappears back through the hole they came from.
The strange electrical drone continues to carry out its nefarious task. It was noticed by some characters but they weren’t able to capture it to discover its secrets. What is its purpose?
Determined not to leave with figurative or literal empty hands, Havelock cuffs the freshly-stabilised Dmitri and begins to drag him off. He has a date with a couple of knuckles in a nearby alleyway that Havelock is keen for him to be punctual for.
Before the Arbites arrive, Havelock couldn’t resist poking his nose into the one untouched loot token the Chaos cultists had been so keen to get their hands on. Inside is an artefact of strange provedence and unknown power – it radiates warp energy, making him stick to his stomach to even lay eyes on it.
Whatever it is, it’s bad news.
He’s presented with a conundrum – make off with a tool of the enemy, or make off with one of the enemy.
He quickly decides that the warp artefact is a matter for the (proper) Arbites and he can get some quick answers from his new Chaos acquaintance.
He drags off Dmitri, beats him to near death (again) and leaves him bleeding in the corner of a manufactorum nearby. Dmitri thinks he’s escaped death a second time, Havelock knows better…
In the closing actions of the game, Fetch gets greedy and pops open another loot token. This final crystal proves to be his undoing – as he touches it, an ice cold sensation shoots up his arm and swallows his conscious thought. He goes to scream but no words come out, and collapses on the floor.
Just in time for the Arbites to arrive…
Diamond’s Interests snagged a crystal early on, completing their objective. Unfortunately the Crimson Wake were fighting a battle on all sides from the beginning and never got their hands on one of the xenos artefacts and left the board empty handed.
Although the Arbitrator and Corporal failed to prevent anyone leaving the board with a crystal, they did manage to cart off a heretic with valuable information, so they were awarded a Vital Evidence as recompense!
The deployment for this game was a gamble – I’d never tried it before, but I think it worked very well. I wouldn’t want it for every scenario, but for close quarters ones like this I think it worked really well.
Typically you could spend several turns of characters walking cautiously towards each other, pausing for breath around corners, generally taking a while to get to the Good Stuff. This way we had action from the first turn, as our characters had already pre-sneaked their way into the optimal positions of carnage. Definitely one to try again!
Week 1 end results
Week 1 of the Gorgon Crystals campaign draws to a close and the Vital Evidence is tallied up – everyone has one piece of Vital Evidence except the Crimson Wake with zero. It’s neck and neck, but the campaign is yet young, and there are plenty of opportunities for that gap to widen.
Watch out for the next scenario, The Stone Baron, coming soon!
Asteroid 825-79C – an unassuming ball of rock in the outer reaches of the Haimm system, swaddled by dust storms that rage across its surface. There is just enough atmosphere to support a small mining colony nestled on a rich vein of industrial metals.
The colony has recently gone silent.
This is not an unusual occurrence among the outer reaches – pirates, rogue asteroids, and civil disobedience are but a few reasons a mining colony might be lost, and all these beneath the interests of the Holy Ordos and their counterparts. However, this colony went dark shortly after an escape pod landed on Asteroid 825-79C, tracked from a ghost ship called The Sojourner, hours before the vessel was destroyed by the Imperial Navy.
In your line of work, there are no coincidences. Investigate the quarry where the escape pod reportedly landed.
+++++ Message ends +++++
Setting the scene
Four warbands approached the quarry, acutely aware of the clarion call that such an opportunity presented to other interested parties. They didn’t know each other would be there, but they all had the impression they wouldn’t be the only ones at the crash site.
A violent dust storm raged across the quarry, reducing all line of sight to one quarter of a character’s Initiative. They also knew their time here was limited – the dust storm would soon pick up, reducing visibility to zero and forcing everyone into shelter.
For the campaign, all warbands are provided with the scene-setting text (the message above), plus an objective roughly aligned to an ideology – Puritan, Radical and Selfish. These objectives would be known only to those players, and other warbands’ objectives can only be guessed at (or interrogated in the field!).
They are designed to be conflicting, but not mutually so. They may require creative thinking on the player’s behalf to complete, and the are sometimes unrelated to the ‘obvious’ objective on the board. The objectives for Forsake Quarry are as follows:
Puritan: Take readings of whatever was in the escape pod, then destroy it.
Whereas other warbands were limited to two agents, Vanth’s warband were allowed a third, as two of them were played by plucky guardsmen (and not psychic monstrosities, alien bounty hunters or bionic swordsmen). Little were we to know at the time that one of those plucky guardsmen would end up being MVP, but more on that later.
Vanth, unsurprisingly, would be pursuing a Radical agenda, so instructed Colonel Vaux to recover the artefact for study.
Esmeralda “Spark” and Sophia “Ember” are part of a small band of mercenaries that operate out of the Haimm system. They were originally pilgrims whose ship dashed upon the rocks, leaving them abandoned on one of the wasteland planets in the outer reaches. They were hideously burned and mutilated from their experiences, but somehopw survived and prospered, rebuilding themselves (quite literally in Esmeralda’s case) as mercenaries and bounty hunters.
Sophia is the de facto leader, and oldest of the three triplets (the third is toting a flamer), and more of a generalist in combat. She has a variety of tricks and tools to help her take down her quarry, including web shells for her shotgun and a poisoned blade. Esmeralda is mostly bionic, giving her increased speed for getting within sword-hitting range. Her huge blade is mono-edged and can (and did!) easily bisect a person in a single blow.
It’s rumoured that they are acting as agents for a powerful Household, which would explain their interference in matters of the Inquisition, but these rumours are so far unfounded.
As these characters have encountered these artefacts before, they want to find out more about its effects and confirm they are from the same origin, so are pursuing a Selfish goal to capture a local for questioning.
Dune is investigating the crash site personally, with help from his old hunting partner Omar Anoke. His natural stealth and sixth sense should help them track down the source of the mining colony’s silence.
While considered a radical by many of his peers, Dune is still gathering information before forming an opinion on the xenos artefacts. He believes the best data can be gathered from the artefact’s effects on those it comes into contact with, so he is pursuing the Selfish objective to capture and interrogate a local.
The mysterious stranger(s)
The shop warband! A pair of mismatched characters supposedly under the orders of a shadowy overseer. I actually know very little about these guys – a rarity for games these days! I suspect their motivations will be unveiled as the campaign progresses…
One is an Aeldari, perhaps an outcast or pirate, called Shé’Vanti “the wind that stalks the void”. The other is a sketchy House Agent called Devram Korda – a powerful telekine and perhaps the leader of this warband? All will be revealed, I’m sure…
We do know that for this game, they were interested in containment. Such power shouldn’t be in the hands of mere Mon’keigh, and were approaching with a Puritan mindset – identify and destroy the artefact.
Shé’Vinda and the Korda set up in the top left of the board, intent on using the outpost as cover to strike from. Vaux takes his men and deploys in the top right, near some rock formations and ruins. Dune is in the lower right, with plenty of barrels and mining equipment for cover. Finally, Sophia and Esmeralda deploy in the bottom left, praying the dust storm will cover their advance until they can get within striking range.
The board is populated with three (ex?)miners from the colony, driven mad from exposure to the warp-tainted crystal – Clevis (pictured above), Kingbolt and Axle (pictured below.
They don’t have much left in life other than guarding the crystal. They love the crystal, and will do what they can to prevent it falling into enemy hands. They’re frenzied, so operate at half Speed until they see an enemy.
Until then, they’ll wander aimlessly with the help of a scatter dice until they see or hear some commotion, then they’ll rush to defend the crystal.
The howling dust storm keeps our characters cautious -everyone advances slowly towards the centre of the board. They know this is the crash site, and they know other parties are likely in the area, but they don’t know specifics.
At this stage, it’s ask questions first, shoot later.
Esmeralda and Sophia advance quickly, eager to cover the open ground. Through the busted wire-link fence they can just make out the hulking figure of Axle – a miner who has mutilated his flesh with obscene carvings that strain a lingering eye. They had seen this kind of activity before on the Sojourner – they knew what they would be up against.
Vaux gives the order to his men to advance, using the cover of the rock formations and ruins to mask their advance.
Shé’Vanti makes it to the ruined hab, a brief respite from the dust storm, and a good vantage point to strike from.
Anoke spots a strange light in the dust storm – arcs of electricity coming from a tentacled drone on the outskirts of the outpost. A strange sight out here. It has piqued his avian curiosity and he stalks after it.
Axle and Kingbolt meet in the middle, thanks to some surreptitious scatter dice rolls. They talk loudly and enthusiastically about their love of the crystal – enough to alert anyone nearby of their intentions to aggressively defend any action against the xenos artefact.
Anyone observing at this point would notice the crash site had all but disappeared into the dust, the only thing remaining of the pod had been salvaged for scrap, or used to erect the makeshift shrine that the crystal sat on. There would be no doubt – the crystal was the main attraction.
All the players were in place – Dune had moved into position behind the mining carts in the top right. Tensions mounted as to who would make the first move. Nearly all warbands were aware of the miners at this point, but none were aware of each other.
Blissfully unaware of the mounting tensions, however, was Anoke. He was having a wonderful time chasing the weird sparky tentacle thing that just drifted away from him whenever he neared it.
Shé’Vanti eyes up the grotesque mutants around the crash site, illuminated even through the dust by the baleful glow of a xenos crystal. He would bide his time and wait for an opening.
Perfect! Kingbolt and Axle both drift away from the crystal in their turn, leaving a clear run at the artefact. Shé’Vanti didn’t know what it was, but sensed an unmistakably foul warp presence surrounding it. Whatever it was, it was better out of the hands of the Mon’Keigh.
He breaks cover and sprints for the crystal.
Trooper Gene Ric spots a blur through the dust storm, moving through the sand as if it wasn’t there. A sharp, gaunt face is illuminated by an awful glow that gives him a feeling like lead in his stomach. He couldn’t identify the target, but knew it wasn’t human. He quietly whispers to his commanding officer for backup…
Dune, however, is not off to quite as fortunate a start. Narrowly avoiding a wandering Clevis, he now has Axle bearing down on him too, but this one spots him from behind cover and bellows with rage.
In a snap, Dune’s splinter pistol is raised to eye level and a burst of monomolecular toxin-laden shards sink deep into the target’s flesh – more than enough to slow or stop an ordinary target of this size.
This appears to be not be an ordinary target.
On the west side of the board, Esmeralda slices an opening in the wire link fence and grabs a handful of tanglefoot seed pods from her pouch. Her arm was good, but the seeds are caught by the wind and land short of the target.
No matter, we’ll disarm this creature the old fashioned way…
Anoke, oblivious to his comrade’s imminent angry danger, chases the strange flashing lights further into the storm. A new figure emerges from the dust – it looks like a guardsman aiming a lasgun directly at-
A burst of lasgun fire is heard above the howling winds of the dust storm. Gene Ric’s grouping is phenomenal – two to centre mass, one to the head. Anoke is knocked to the ground, stunned.
The mysterious House Agent moves into the outpost, accompanied by his medicae skull. With the Eldar in his sights, begins to chant under his breath, summoning the will needed to cover his escape. Nobody has seen him yet – and he intends to keep it that way.
Vaux is quick to move on the sounds of gunfire. Following the lead from Trooper Ric, he strides forward to take control of the situation. Bolt pistol levelled at the strange figure’s head, Vaux recognises it for what it truly is – Aeldari filth.
With gunfire from his own men and howls of rage carried over the wind, he didn’t want to get involved in a fire fight with a number of unknown assailants. The Aeldari obligingly raised its hands, stepping slowly away from the crystal.
Little did Vaux realise the treacherous xenos sent a subtle hand signal to the hidden House Agent in the derelict hab…
Korda focused all his will, intending to hurl a pallet of detritus at Kingbolt and/or Vaux. The fickle powers of the warp bled through his fingers, barely able to move the pallet more than a few feet. He takes a deep breath and redoubles his efforts – clearly proximity to this artefact is causing more warp disturbance than anticipated.
Gunfire and screams are on the wind – Esmeralda and Sophia move in. They need to take one of these locals in for interrogation, but realise on closer inspection this was not such an easy task. They appear incredibly resilient and largely impervious to pain – not to mention equipped with fearsome implanted mining equipment. That would have to change…
With Sophia dancing round acting as a distraction, Esmeralda begins the arduous task of disarming the miner – quite literally. Called shot after called shot against the implant rock drill leaves Kingbolt with little but a gory, sparking stump – spewing blood and engine oil.
Although this tactic saves them from an unpleasant impaling, it doesn’t seem to slow down Kingbolt, and they have to change up their tactics.
Sophia moves behind the mutant miner and begins severing tubes and tearing out implants. Kingbolt roars in fury, but with only one arm and hazy vision from blood loss, finds it near impossible to land a blow.
The beast bears down on Dune, thundering towards him with rockrete mallet raised above his head. His splinter rounds either bounce off his makeshift armour or fail to deliver their deadly toxin. Dune was running out of options, he couldn’t go toe to toe with such a monstrosity…
Dune rolled a headshot, followed by a 10 on a D10+2 weapon (A Lucky Hit!) and rolled a 9 on the followup damage. 21 damage from the splinter pistol, piercing an eye lens and delivering the toxin directly to the brain.
The miner slumps unceremoniously to the ground. Everyone around the table is in absolute awe. Absolute madman.
Thinking on his feet, Dune assesses his surroundings.
“Are those carts moveable?” The player inquires. I don’t need to know where such lines of questions are going to know that the answer is always “Yes.”
Superminer Sweep! *Airhorn noise*
Dune unceremoniously wheels off the braindead miner, completing his objective to capture a local for interrogation (it didn’t stipulate alive – they’ll probably scoop his brains out and run it through the brain-o-matron to see what he knows).
Back in the standoff, both Vaux and Shé’Vanti had been oblivious to the approach of the third miner. While his two colleagues had been shot through the face or hacked apart, he still had full control of his faculties.
Roaring into action, Clevis charges towards the nearest target to the crystal – the Eldar – and lands his bladed hammer square in the xenos’ chest. The force of the blow breaks nearly every bone in his body, sending him spinning into the dust storm, and taking him out of the game in one brutal blow.
After seeing the Aeldari get hammered out of existence, Vaux makes a play for the crystal. As he touches it, he feels the insidious whispering of the warp trying to worm its way inside his skull, but he shakes it off.
Gently cradling the crystal in his power fist, he issues the order to withdraw. Honeis, having finally rolled enough actions to get into the action, is now requested to leave the action.
A pulse of telekinetic energy blasts Vaux off his feet, colliding into Honeis on the way. The House Agent’s fingers still smoking with wisps of psychic energy.
Both are knocked sprawling on the ground, almost 20 yards from where they originally stood.
The crystal embeds into the sand, unfazed by the assault.
In the final moves of the game, it remained unclear how things would resolve for the main conflict over the crystal. Sophia and Esmeralda had all but torn apart Kingbolt, hacking his other arm off and knocking huge lumps out of his breathing apparatus, leaving him a wheezing (yet somehow still alive) mess.
Clevis, enraged that his precious crystal has been taken, charges round the corner to confront Vaux, who is still prone on the floor. The House Agent is making moves to withdraw, knowing there is little more he can do to resolve things in his favour.
With Clevis’ hot breath practically in Vaux’ face, it looked like Vaux was in trouble. As Clevis raised his hammer to bring it down on Vaux’ prone body, another crack of Gene Ric’s lasgun stops him in his tracks. A trio of lasbolts slam into Clevis, the third one a clean headshot and blowing out his sand lenses and breathing apparatus, stunning him for a turn and giving Vaux a chance to react.
Rising from the floor with a powerful Shoryuken, Vaux strikes his foe squarely between the legs, punching his pelvis into his throat and sending Clevis sprawling.
With Trooper Ric’s uncanny aim as cover, Vaux regains his footing and makes for the crystal one final time. It is entering the final turn – the dust storm threatens to engulf the entire outpost, and they only have a few moments before visibility is reduced to zero and everyone is forced to withdraw with whatever they have.
Korda is dragging Shé’Vanti off the board, leaving empty handed. Dune has escaped with a captive, completing his objective, and Anoke recovers and stalks off after him. Sophia and Esmeralda have disabled (read: hacked enough lumps out of) Kingbolt to take him in for autopsy/interrogation but decide to make one final play for the crystal, hoping to keep it out of Vanth’s hands.
As Esmeralda rounds the barrels, stepping over the mashed groin of Clevis, she comes face to face with Vaux – the crystal resting on the ground between them.
Just as she begins to make her move to recover it, a third and final salvo from the now-unstoppable Trooper Ric bounce off Esmeralda’s bionic bonce. The headshot stuns her long enough for Vaux to snatch the crystal up, giving his men a hasty order to retreat (and several commendations for marksmanship for Gene Ric).
The dust storms drew in as the final play of the game was made – Vaux escapes with the crystal, earning a completed objective for Vanth’s warband.
And it was all over!
Three out of four warbands completed their objectives, earning themselves a piece of Vital Evidence to contribute towards earning their place in the campaign finale.
A tense, exciting opening game, with plenty of thrilling heroics and unbelievable dice rolls. The players are excited for the next one, which is a measure of success for me!
Questions still remain however – who are the mysterious strangers? Where did the crystals come from? And what was that odd electric tentacle drone that kept itself to itself on the peripheries of the conflict?
They’ll just have to play on and find out…
We couldn’t wrap up this battle report without a special mention for undoubtedly our Most Valuable Player – Trooper Gene Ric.
Just an Average Guardsman(tm) with one or two luck-related special abilities, Gene Ric surpassed all of our wildest expectations. Given that his counterpart, Honeis, managed to run around a bit, equip medkit, then re-quip lasgun, Gene Ric absolutely carried the team.
Every opponent he levelled his lasgun at was slotted in the head by at least one round, always putting his target down with the first round of shooting. Incredible marksmanship like that must surely earn some kind of commendation…
For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.
Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn is an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor with hardline, no-nonsense puritan views, and has raised many eyebrows in the Onus Conclave for his proposed ‘solutions’ to problems. The last Inquisitor to accuse him of radical methods was burned at the stake on unrelated charges of heresy – or so the circumstantial evidence says.
Mawdryn has heard tales of a ghost ship in the system of Haimm leaving a plague of madness in its wake, and reports of disturbing warp-tainted artefacts finding their way into the hands of Emperor-fearing Imperial citizens. Although this is a regretful turn of events, there are protocols and organisations in place to cleanse the heresy from these places. Mawdryn’s interests are not in the carcass, but the circling vultures.
He has gathered a group of loyal frateris militia to serve with him in Haimm, spurred on by the fiery rhetoric of Redemptionist Zuul and attended by an eerily silent Sister Censorum. They are not here to destroy the warp-tainted artefacts, although that is a pleasing secondary objective, but rather to destroy any of those looking to take these artefacts for their own means. Radicalism is a cancer, and it must be purged.
Leader – Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn
Mawdryn’s hardline puritan ideology has always kept him at arms’ length from his peers, pushing him further from the Imperial heartlands and into the less-trodden fringes. Although initially outraged, Mawdryn has found a home among the outskirts, rubbing shoulders with the downtrodden and having room to carry out his work away from the watchful eyes of the Conclave.
He learned to survive on little, and his fiery rhetoric attracted a gaggle of strange and esoteric followers to his cause. Although poorly armed and barely competent, what they lacked in skill they made up for in faith and fury – a powerful trait that Thrones can’t buy alone.
Although a member of the Ordo Hereticus, he does not prioritise the destruction of heretical items. It is far better to use them as bait to lure in rivals and radicals – those who have let the question “But what if..” linger too long in their minds. It are these thoughts that are the true heresy – a cancer that Mawdryn has vowed to purge wherever he finds it.
The warp-tainted artefacts that have appeared in the system of Haimm are the perfect storm – powerful, dangerous creations of unknown providence will attract all manner of hopefuls and heretics foolish enough to think they can control what they don’t understand. These ‘crystals’ will have their time in the sun before being destroyed one way or another – this is the way of things – but those who stray from the path may take their heretical thoughts elsewhere to infect others. This cannot be allowed to happen.
On the battlefield, Mawdryn is a fearsome combatant who doesn’t rely on complicated equipment to carry him to victory. With hotshot laspistol and shock maul, he can carry on fighting long after his opponents’ have jammed, broken or run out of ammunition. In a pinch, he can activate his refractor field to protect him from incoming damage, and his skills are focused around buffing his comrades to keep them in the fight.
Mawdryn’s followers are not complex, but they are numerous. He can always bring at least one extra body onto the field of battle than his opponents.
Sister Censorum Ivixia
The Order Censorum, a secretive wing of the Orders Famulous of the Adeptas Sororitas, are deployed when tact and diplomacy have failed, but not to the extent that the Orders Militant are required. They are experts in revisionism and purification, using a variety of unsavoury or unorthodox measures to ensure everything is how it needs to be.
There are rumours that Mawdryn once had close ties with the Order, giving him direct exposure to the murky waters that power Imperial society and maintain the status quo. Others say that Mawdryn was instead on the receiving end of a Censorum decree, and managed to persuade Sister Ivixia to join his cause instead. Whatever the truth, Sister Ivixia has remained tight-lipped (moreso than usual…) about her relationship with the hardline Inquisitor – appearing without fanfare whenever there are materials hazardous to the heart of soul of the Imperium that must be removed as quickly and totally as possible.
She carries a thermal lance to carry out her work, with a sidearm stubber and ceramite armour for backup. Although a fearsome weapon, her priority is the destruction of documents, articles and artefacts that could tempt a person to corruption, and its long reload time could mean she only gets one shot.
Brother Zuul is a Redemptionist – an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of the faith in which redemption in the eyes of the God-Emperor can only be found in death. He also desires to bring redemption to others, finding the sin of heresy particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor’s final judgement to them.
He is the closest thing to a second in command to Mawdryn, and he finds Zuul’s tireless fervour particularly useful when encouraging another wave of die-hard purge brothers to charge headlong into gunfire.
In the field, he’s an absolute mad lad with an eviscerator. He’s unsubtle, vocal, and bloody-minded in the pursuit of his goals (which rarely deviate from ‘kill all heretics’). Sometimes it’s nice to play a character that isn’t burdened by nuance.
Brother Jean-Luke and Brother Mungo
Maniacal cultists in service of a demagogue – what’s not to like? They’re recruited in their dozens, dredged up from the silt of society and given holy purpose. The Brothers of Mawdryn’s Purge are mere fuel for the holy fire – they’re enthusiastic, numerous and ultimately expendable.
These two were some of the first Inquisitor models I ever built, back when Games Workshop still did a parts order service. Many of the original batch have since been stripped and reused for parts (I went through a phase of only using Green Stuff as an adhesive…), but these guys have proudly been pressed into service as cultists of every colour – chaos cultists, renegades, heretics, genestealer cultists, frateris militia, concerned citizens, and now redemptionists.
It’s also a testament to how well certain 28mm ranges scale up – Jean-Luke on the left uses plastic Ork arms, which are remarkably well scaled for Inquisitor. Mungo on the right is wielding an Inquisitor revolver that is exactly the same size as the new plastic stub guns from the Necromunda Palanite Enforcers.
Brother Marvin and Brother Grunvald
More cultists! This time built out of random pieces from the bits box. Marvin only has one Inquisitor piece – the head. His arms and body are from a 28mm plastic Ork and his lower half is Green Stuff.
Grunvald on the right is similar – only the shotgun and head are from the Inquisitor range, the rest of him is Ork parts, random 40k gubbinz and putty.
We don’t expect much from cultists in the game (which is why Mawdryn can start with extra bodies on the table compared to other players) but they are thoroughly entertaining to play both with and against. They’re easily put down and aren’t competent enough to be a reliable threat, but their optimism and pure dumb luck is often more than enough to make them a match for many foes on the battlefield.