MOTB: The Widower

Finished product first!

“Quaddis is a strange world, long the plaything of the vice, vainglory, and eccentricity of the powerful and great of the Calixis Sector and far beyond. It is a place of strange tales and stories, and one of the oldest is that of the Widower – monster, changeling, creeper in the darkness.

The Widower of old was said to be the Haarlock’s warder and spy and – when needed – their peerless assassin – a thing that no weapon could kill and against which no lock could bar entry.”

Dark Heresy – Tattered Fates
Dark Times

In the Before Times I was running a semi-regular Dark Heresy campaign loosely based on the Haarlock Legacy trilogy by Fantasy Flight Games. During the Tattered Fates sequence, the characters wake up in a pit having lost all their equipment and have to fight for their lives against horrible pig-faced butchers and their broken creatures.

Later, they emerge on to a pleasure planet about to undergo a Purge-style festival. One of the many creatures that stalks them is the Widower, an ancient sentinel of molten flesh around which the story revolves. Naturally, it needed building.

A mythical beast

Enticingly, Fantasy Flight included only one piece of art that is probably the Widower (it isn’t explicitly stated, but it’s a safe bet):

Probably the Widower, courtesty of Fantasy Flight Games

This doesn’t give a lot to go off, let alone what model to use as a base. At the time I had a job that was quite, uh, lax on workload, so I had a lot of energy to trawl the internet for inspiration.

I found this rather excellent piece from Ryan-Alexander-Lee on Deviantart, that these days might be seen as a commentary on AI art, but back in the heady days of 2018 it was as spooky as ever. The chilling uncanny-valley smile, the morphed hands, the concealment under a funerary shawl.

Hessyst by Ryan-Alexander-Lee

It was also the height of the XCOM rejuvenation, and XCOM 2 brought us the rather excellent ‘Faceless’ enemy, which had the molten waxy skin described in the adventure book that I was looking for.

It was slightly too humanoid for me (two arms and two legs for an unknowable ancient death machine? Yawn) but the texture of skin, colour palette, and even the hooked hands made the final cut for the design. Now, what on earth could I use as a base?

Faceless concept art for XCOM 2
Melting a monster

It became apparent I wasn’t going to find something that suited the brief. At the time I had been playing around with a revolutionary new tool called a hot melt glue gun, and I wondered if it was possible to simply build the Widower out of glue and save myself a bunch of cash and time.

It started with drilling a few holes in a 40mm plastic base and getting some gardening wire I’d had lying around and just wrapping it around itself in weird shapes.

I was going for a rough tripod structure for balance and weirdness, with something resembling a head at the top and a raised arm to put the “weaponry” on.

Then blast it with glue!

I liberally doused the frame with the hot melt glue gun, trying to get as many gooey stringy bits as possible. I really let it dribble. I tried not to have too much in the way of musculature or recognisable features as I wanted to be really weird and alien.

Once it had cooled, I applied a second more delicate layer of glue to create more bumps and ridges to give the washes something to sink into.

The only editing I did after the glue was to create a few spikes out of green stuff and add them to the raised hand. I liked the Faceless design with the darkened claws to highlight where the danger zone is, and I wanted my Widower to have something that looked like it would really mess you up.

It was also carefully pried from its base and glued to a custom resin one I had acquired for my other Bedlam Feast cultists. Little did I know how far ahead I was planning, as this would also double up as my Warp Horror/Chaos Spawn for my Chaos Necromunda gang, and having matching bases is vital to the aesthetic.

With it soundly dried, I hit it with a white primer and it was ready for some paint.

Quick and dirty

That first coat of primer is always a thrilling experience – seeing a random selection of pieces and colours finally unified. This was a particularly exciting project to see undercoated, as the model had been completely translucent until this point. It was only after seeing all the undulations in gross detail was I really convinced with how well it had come out.

So many undulations! With this sort of texture, painting the Widower was a breeze.

First, I splashed the whole thing with Reikland Fleshshade. Darker recesses were given a Carroburg Crimson wash, and everything was drybrushed with a light flesh tone to pick out the most extreme edges.

As a final alien touch, the darkest areas got a little dab of Druchii Violet wash.

The ‘claws’ were roughly drybrushed in darker shades of Screamer Pink and Xereus Purple to draw attention to them, similar to the Faceless.

The purple areas then got a hefty dollop of gloss varnish to up the goo factor, leaving the outer areas matt. This helps give it an otherworldly, ever-changing look to it.

The base was painted in the same way as the Bedlam Feast cultists – pick out different cobblestones in different shades of grey, wash with Nuln Oil, light drybrush of a mid grey, then random patches of Typhus Corrosion to taste.

Wrapping up

I’m overwhelmed at how well this horrible beastie came out. For something I did basically no testing on, it came out perfectly first try. I guess that’s the nice thing about making a grosteque flesh monster from hot glue – it’s difficult to make it look like anything other than a grosteque flesh monster.

I particularly like how, although it has no face, from some angles you can almost make out one or multiple faces. It sort of has arms that are sort of legs. Its torso looks like it’s about to spew out more limbs. It’s monstrous.

Maybe one day I’ll return to that Dark Heresy campaign. For now though, it has taken up service as a Brute in my Bedlam Feast Necromunda gang, using the cultists as a gang. I’ve been putting off painting their leader for a while, but now with another campaign on the horizon, perhaps it’s time.

2 Replies to “MOTB: The Widower”

  1. What a lovely horrible monstrosity you have created. I thought of the xcom faceless right away (and was pleased to see it referenced further down in the post).
    Strangely enough when I ran a dark heresy game (setting with different rules) the assassin character went a bit too far down the ‘dabbling with psychic powers’ pathway and ended up a warped monstrosity that could eat people to assume their appearance. It’s funny how these compelling tropes reoccur.

    1. I’ve always found Dark Heresy best when it’s riffing on great horror films, and by riffing I mean putting loads of them in a blender and serving it up with extra servo skulls on the side. Sure we’re playing The Thing with something killing and assuming the forms of your closest comrades, but we’re actually investigating an unrelated series of Saw-style murders headed by an Exorcist-worshipping cult while trying not to be overrun by Aliens, and my bolter’s out of ammunition…

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