Sundown on Skathi | Inquisitor battle report

This is the third scenario of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign. It’s another Annex mission, similar to Dust-up at Distro-19, and not as plot-critical as Chapter missions like last week’s No Souls On Board.

Despite it being a side-step from the core drama, the moon of Skathi had its fair share of drama. In this scenario, Explicator Stigg and his entourage get a tip-off from a Mayweather Guildmaster and meet him at his secure compound on Skathi to secure the information. Unfortunately for them both, Genetor Vacillus had different plans for the Guildmaster.

Setting the scene

The moon of Skathi is little more than a large asteroid, picked by Mayweather Borers as one of many forward bases around the system. It has a breathable atmosphere, but little in the way of life beyond clusters of spiky plants. The only environmental feature of note is its rapid day-night cycle, meaning sunsets can happen very quickly.

Sunset: Visibility starts at 50″. At the beginning of every round, visibility is reduced by 5″.

The Mayweather compound is a standard pattern – thick walls surrounding functional buildings that can be dropped from orbit. They have to work under all manner of conditions, often against native fauna or local rivals, so armed guards are needed around the clock.

There are three mercenaries present – one by the landing pad to welcome the Explicator, one by the gate, and one on the wall above the gate.

Fortunately for Genetor Vacillus, some routine maintenance is being carried out on an unprotected section of the boundary wall. Some labourers loyal to House Dacien have been planted in the compound. Vacillus knows he’ll be getting help from the House Dacien tracker, but he didn’t know the extent of the setup…

Guildmaster Von Horne is holed up in his private bunker, surrounded by ‘advisors’ and his personal guard. He knows he might not make it through the night and has drunk himself into a stupour, much to the annoyance of his guards.

The shipping logs are contained in a datslate carried by his valet servitor. It’s protected by sensor bafflers and EM shielding, so it can’t be accessed or wiped remotely.

The warbands

Explicator Stigg is back after his run-in with Crowblade’s pit fighters at Distro-19, now with an actual model! He returns with Rogue Trader Phaelon, an uneasy alliance of convenience more than anything else, and one of Phaelon’s crew – an “industrial servitor” called Evee.

Despite what you might suspect, Evee is of course a helpful automaton and not abominable intelligence. Remember, always look for the Aquila.

Explicator Stigg’s arrival is expected by the compound guards, and his goal is to meet up with Guildmaster Von Horne and receive his data in exchange for Stigg’s protection.

From left to right: Explicator Stigg, helpful automaton Evee, and Rogue Trader Phaelon

Genetor Vacillus is on Skathi thanks to the careful pathfinding of his House Dacien tracker, a kroot named Omar Anoke. Vacillus was tipped off to this meeting by a contact inside House Dacien, and for personal security has brought along his prototype arco-flagellant X-206.

Vacillus is planning on stealing the shipping logs for himself. Unfortunately Anoke has orders of his own – silence Von Horne before he can spill his secrets. The shipping logs are supposed to fall into enemy hands…

Deployment

Vacillus’ warband sets up hugging the outer wall of the compound, near the breach at the edge of the board. They’re expecting to hop through and head straight for the bunker.

Stigg’s warband deploy on the landing pad after being dropped off by shuttle. They’ll have to find an alternate way off the board once they’ve secured the data.

Game on

The sun dips low in the sky. Anoke had been dragging his two charges for some distance, and he was frustrated at how little urgency they seemed to have. He was relieved to be at the compound – he could finally move at his own pace, do the job, and leave.

He gestured at Vacillus to follow him to a breach in the wall. On the other side were two labourers performing some kind of maintenance. Anoke stood in clear sight of them. The welding stopped.

“Ash and bone” he croaked in human-speak.

Without any kind of acknowledgement, they simply downed tools and left. Anoke knew they were off to sabotage the Guildmaster’s escape vehicle, but he’d keep that to himself. Vacillus would only be a liability if he knew Anoke’s real mission.

The shuttle dusted off, leaving Explicator Stigg and his retinue looking a little lost on the landing pad.

“Identification!” Shouted a mercenary in a yellow overcoat.

Stigg flashed his rosette.

“Explicator Stigg. This is Rogue Trader Augustus Phaelon and our faithful automaton Evee. I believe your boss is expecting us.”

Vacillus was surprised at how well orchestrated this infiltration was. The Kroot had only exchanged a few words with these labourers and they immediately left their posts. No matter. They needed to move on the target.

He tapped a few instructions into his datapad. X206 had been hovering behind them near silently, but sparks now snapped from its electro-tentacles as power surged through its body.

With House Dacien’s blueprint data, Vacillus entered target information into X206’s subroutines. X206’s orders were to sneak up on the bunker and await activation.

Swimming through the air like a deep-sea creature, X206 pushed passed the labourers and glided into the compound.

Anoke watched the murderous machine flow through the breach and past the labourers. It moved like something that knew it was at the top of the food chain. He expected Vacillus to show a little restraint with his murderous mechanical companion, but perhaps he midjudged him.

Anoke took up position on a nearby silo, clearing several storeys in a single effortless leap. He checked his weapon and took up position, overwatching the empty stretch of road between the bunker and the escape vehicle.

He watched the electric predator swim lazily towards the bunker. Wasp nest, meet stick.

The guard in yellow whistled a message across the compound, receiving several whistles and hand signals in return. He seemed satisfied at the response, and gestured at Stigg to approach the bunker.

The Guildmaster’s bunker was alive with coloured lights and thumping music, with sounds of merriment coming from inside. The Guilder guards looked particularly angry at this arrangement.

Stigg and Phaelon approached, Evee following behind with surprisingly delicate footsteps. Phaelon stayed outside, making ineffective compliments about the guard’s fashion choices, and Stigg entered.

“Inquisitor!” The Guildmaster roared and threw his hands in the air, knocking over a bottle of something bubbly.

“Explicator.” Stigg corrected to deaf ears.

Von Horne continued, as his ‘advisors’ giggled and fawned. “Come in, come in! I’ve been waiting for you! Come, we have time, pour yourself a drink, we have much to discuss.”

Von Horne reaches for a new bottle, but a guard leans over and plucks it from his grasp. “No sir, we do not have time for another drink.”

X206 had moved into position, finding an open window on the bunker. It was the perfect size for slithering in. He pressed close to the wall, waiting for his activation.

Sticking to the growing shadows, Vacillus took cover in an alcove by the foot of the stairs overlooking the bunker. It was a satisfactory overlook. He tapped his datapad and opened up a vox channel to Anoke. “Fire on my command.”

He didn’t require a response from Anoke, nor would he receive one.

He tapped his datapad again, changing channels. “X206. All organic targets except the valet servitor are viable. Activate.”

What happened next appeared in slow motion.

X206 slipped into the window, and in a heartbeat turned from sluggish sea predator into the blazing heart of a star.

Barely-contained energy crackled from every limb, charring everything it touched.

X206 became a hurricane of metal and fire. It lashed out at the nearest viable target, turning one of Von Horne’s advisors into strips of flesh with a flick of the wrist.

Chaos reigns. The murderous assailant lashes out indiscriminately, punctuated by screams of confusion and fear. Some guards leap forward to attack, throwing themselves between the machine and their master.

It is a bloodbath.

Amongst the violence, Stigg manages to place himself between X206 and the Guildmaster, dragging him outside to relative safety. The Guildmaster finds the energy to tell Stigg about the escape vehicle waiting outside the compound, while thick red gobbets of his bodyguards rain down around him.

Completely paralysed by shock, Von Horne finds himself being scooped under the arm of another machine. This time a towering industrial automaton. It speaks to him in soothing tones.

“You are being rescued, please do not resist.”

While all this violence is happening, the two turncoat labourers have made their way towards the escape vehicle.

They easily convince the guard to help defend the Guildmaster, leaving the truck completely undefended.

The sounds of gunfire mix with the thumping tunes from the bunker. Stigg’s laspistols are in his hands in the blink of an eye, and he opens up at point blank range.

Half a clip of ammunition barely scratches the arco-flagellant, and it turns its rage towards him. He shouts at Evee to get Von Horne to safety.

With the Guildmaster in his arms, Evee makes a break across the courtyard, right into the crosshairs of the waiting Kroot assassin.

With a sharp crack, the Kroot rifle punches through Evee’s protective casing and into the gut of the Guildmaster.

Waiting in the wings is Vacillus. He was surprised by the Kroot’s actions, but given the rapidly evolving situation, made a snap decision to roll it into his own plan.

He raised his organic cleanser at the incoming automata and fired.

The organic cleanser is a weapon of his own devising. It’s a single-shot weapon with a one turn recharge that acts like the Blood Boil psychic power. Its base function is to strip faulty biological components from broken servitors while keeping the cybernetics intact. It’s an extremely messy affair when used against a living target, of course.

Passing his Ballistic Skill test by 40, Vacillus liquifies all of Guildmaster Von Horne’s innards in a manner of seconds. He becomes a lifeless sack of bones and mush, flopping around in Evee’s arms.

Evee holds up his charge to examine the extent of the damage. It appears irrepairable.

As confusion and violence ripples across the compound, some of the guards looking for answers have just spotted a giant machine carrying the limp, lifeless body of their master. In a panic, they open fire on Evee.

The compound is a battleground, with skirmishes raging all over. Anoke drops down from his perch. His work complete, he slinks away through the breach.

At the bunker, X206 has murdered or grievously wounded every guard inside. Stigg and Phaelon pour gunfire into it, stunning it and slowing its advance, but failing to stop it.

Near the gatehouse, Evee moves to engage the Mechanicus adept who liquified Von Horne. He slams him against the statue and raking Vacillus’ arm with his servo claw, burning it to the bone.

Staggering back, Vacillus takes stock of the situation and decides discretion is the better part of valour. He orders X206 to destroy anything interacting with the valet servitor and slinks off through the entrance. He’ll have more luck picking over whatever X206 leaves in its wake, and there’s little his organic cleanser can do against this huge automaton.

On top of all this, guards are still firing at X206 and Evee. One mistakes Vacillus for a labourer, and shouts at him to get to the extraction vehicle while they cover their retreat.

The panicked surviving advisor runs through the compound, covered in blood.

The sun is gone, the compound lit only by its fading corona. Visibility was down to 15″, and everyone was making their last plays of the game.

Stigg runs over to the valet servitor and snatches up the data-slate. “We need to move!” he shouts at Phaelon.

The Rogue Trader makes a move towards the truck, but sees the guards still bouncing bullets off Evee’s armoured shell.

“Cease fire! The servitor’s with us!” he yells, hoping to get the guards on side, “We’re trying to protect you!”

The guards pause. The gunfire subsides. The quiet is interrupted by the sounds of arcing electricity. X206 has powered back up.

With frightening speed it beelines for the valet servitor, hell-bent on carrying out its new orders. It lashes out at the person nearest the target, and no matter how hard Stigg tries, he can’t dodge the electric storm of lashes that rains down on him.

Explicator Stigg goes down, bleeding from multiple wounds, his pelvis a bloodied pulp.

Without missing a beat it turns its attentions to the next closest – Phaelon. Energy arcs from its limbs as it prepares to spiralise the Rogue Trader, but suddenly stops short.

Evee has returned! He had grabbed X206 by its locomotive tentacles, and with a crackle of his own powered servo-claw, pulls the lower half of the combat servitor clean away.

X206 flickers and dies in a pool of machine oil and sparks of electricity.

With no more antagonists left on the board (Anoke was long since gone, and Vacillus was in retreat), the game was called to a close.

What remained of the Guild bundled the Explicator and his team into the back of the truck to evacuate. Stigg was barely alive, but they had secured the shipping logs of the Ius Soli. What additional secrets the Guildmaster had unfortunately died with him.

The scores

Explicator Stigg’s warband makes off with the data-slate and earn themselves 1 Resource, putting them on 4 in total. Given Stigg’s critical groin injury, it’s highly likely that fresh Resource isn’t going to be sticking around too long!

Vacillus’ team score nothing, and are likely going to need some extra help repairing X206. Vanth won’t be pleased that his plausible deniability failed to come up with the goods, and will be taking to the field personally in future.

The wrap-up

Easily our bloodiest game yet, and it’s hard to see how that level of slaughter could be topped! Dropping X206 in a secure bunker was like dumping piranhas in a pool and taking away the ladder.

The shipping logs were an unclaimed piece of evidence from Chapter 1: No Souls On Board. They show that the last activity of the Ius Soli was a trade taking place between Novator Hypatos and a group of xenologists. Hypatos was bringing a recently unearthed artifact codenamed “the circlet”. It appears this meeting was set up by the heir-apparent Mistress Dacien – the veracity of this claim is now a liquified sack of bones rotting on the surface of Skathi.

An exciting and deadly game of which giant monster will hit the other first, with a sprinkling of intrigue on the side. Let’s see what Stigg does with this information in the future…

See you next week!

Previous scenario

Chapter 1: No Souls on Board | Inquisitor battle report

This is the first Chapter mission of Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign, the first plot-driven instalment of the five-part story. This is the second game played in the campaign so far, as we kicked off with the Dust-up at Distro-19 annex mission last week.

Chapter missions are higher stakes – you have to spend a Resource (in-campaign currency) to ‘buy in’, with higher Resource rewards for finding evidence and completing objectives. Failing to secure any leads in Chapter missions means your warband might not be able to attend later Chapter missions. These warbands might need to do some Annex missions on the side to keep up with the others…

In this scenario, two warbands stumble into each other while exploring the ghost ship Ius Soli. Both are looking for a lead to the Crown of Bones, and according to our source at House Dacien, there is a cargo manifest somewhere on the ship with coordinates of exactly where to find it.

Setting the scene

The Ius Soli, meaning ‘Right of Soil’, is a corpse barge adrift in the outer reaches of the system. It was once carrying the bodies of guardsmen from warzones across the galaxy to their eventual resting point. It went missing during the Dacien Cataclysm and mysteriously reappeared some months ago, adrift and unresponsive to hails. House Dacien have dispatched a vessel to destroy the Ius Soli, but our two warbands have beaten them to the punch. They have to find what they can and evacuate before the corpse barge and anyone left on board are destroyed.

The ship itself is derelict. The miracle of grav-plating is still functional, and there is enough atmosphere left inside its silent halls to sustain our warbands without penalty. However, it is pitch black inside, so warbands will be relying on hand-held flashlights in the absence of any bionic vision.

Pitch black: Vision is restricted to 1/10th of Initiative. Characters can be equipped with flashlights for free, but have to be held in a spare hand or attached to a weapon beforehand. They provide a vision cone of about 18″ and we use little blast markers bluetacked to bases to indicate when a flashlight is active on a character.

Deathly silent: All hearing distances are doubled. That means someone can hear a door open or close from 20″ away…

Some power conduits are also severely damaged in a chamber at the north end of the board (represented with little dark red cotton wool clouds), and electro-magnetic energy is pulsing wildly in there.

Damaged power conduit: Anything passing through is effectively hit with a Haywire grenade, electrical and energy items ceasing to function until they reboot during the recovery phase (25% chance) or a character fixes it.

The cargo bay is also wrapped in a network of maintenance shafts and access tunnels, represented by the space hulk tiles around the periphery. These are broken up with pressure doors and access vents, the latter allowing characters to move between the cargo bay and the maintenance tunnels. These access vents have purple arrow tokens on eithe rside to show they can be traversed.

The warbands would be fighting over five objective markers, each representing a piece of evidence that helps paint a picture of what happened. Some are specific to their location, such as number 5 being the cargo manifest terminal on the upper walkway. Others are more general, such as number 2 being all tarpaulin-covered crates in the cargo bay, not just the ones the marker is on.

The warbands needed to gather at least 3 pieces of evidence to consider their investigation a success, and would be rewarded with 2 Resources. There is also a bonus resource for claiming the cargo manifest at number 5, as it is particularly important to the Crown of Bones investigation.

Finally, there are 5 ‘blip’ tokens on the map (thank you, Space Hulk board game!). The combination of twisted metal, warp residue and pulsing power conduits has obscured any attempts to scan the vessel, and warbands are relying on short-range auspexes. These blips are the auspex reading the strange environmental conditions as life signs wandering about the cargo hold, but surely nothing could be alive here any more… right?

The blips move a little bit at the end of each turn (at my whimsy) and when they get within view of a character I flip them over. Some are simply ghost readings and are removed from play, others might be a little more hungry…

Five numbered objectives and five auspex blips
The warbands

Crowblade’s warband makes another appearance after successfully infiltrating a stevedore gang at Distro-19. This time they have a direct lead to the Crown of Bones, so Crowblade is bringing in his big guns. He’s bringing along his chief advisor Karith Once-Touched, who has been tasked with finding the shipping manifest and avoiding combat. His other new hire is Mulbrak Thrice-Bound, a fearsome shadowy daemonhost. Schipka is brought along too, rounding the warband out to four.

From the left, Karith Once-Touched, Mulkbrak Thrice-Bound, and Crowblade (Schipka not pictured).

Interrogator Amourah’s warband is new to the campaign, but her exploits go back almost a decade of Inquisitor games. She represents the hardline puritan Inquisitor Alexandus, and they are indisputably the most heavily armed and armoured warband on the board in any circumstance. This is nearly always necessary, as they are bad at making friends and great at getting caught in crossfire.

Amouah herself sports an inferno pistol and retractible power blade, joined by Imperial Guard veteran Sergeant Jackson and cybernetically-reconstructed explosives specialist Bill ‘Tin Man’ Teller. Jackson wears a suit of motor-actuated carapace armour and equipped with a fearsome wrist-mounted hellgun, while Tin Man carries a combat shotgun and a smorgasbord of explosives.

From the left: Sergeant Jackson, Interrogator Amourah, and Tin Man
Deployment

After Crowblade’s warband ingratiated themselve so well among the stevedores of Distro-19, they gained enough insider knowledge to get the jump on the Ius Soli and got to deploy first.

They split their forces in two. Crowblade and Karith deploy in the maintenance tunnels near an access vent which comes out right next to objective 5. Their hope is to move in quickly and grab the cargo manifest while the other team “run interference”.

The other team is Mulbrak Thrice-Bound and Schipka, the surprisingly charming pit fighter who won the hearts and minds of the labourers at Distro-19. They had been tasked with investigating the cargo bay and dealing with any of the the auspex ghosts, should they turn out to be a little more material than just glitches on a scanner.

Interrogator Amourah’s warband deploy together inside the shuttle bay, having squeeze through an off-screen hatch to get there.

Game on

Both warbands begin advancing cautiously into the cargo bay, flashlights dancing through the racking and throwing unnerving shapes against the walls. Amourah’s team all have bionic eyes but no low-light vision, so they still relied on their personal light sources to see where they were going.

One by one they sneak towards the shuttle bay entrance, keeping their flashlights low and peering through the gloom. They strain their ears to pick up on the faintest sound of danger.

Schipka on the other hand, whacks his torch on maximum and marches into the cargo bay. Mulbrak slinks past him and slithers around to the right, pulling himself forwards on his massive claws.

Amourah sweeps the floor, walls and ceiling with her flashlight, checking for any signs of life. Bullet casings and blood stains lead to a scattering of bodies in the centre of the room – uniformed guards in the colours of House Dacien.

She doesn’t have time to investigate further as she spots the tell-tale twinkling of another flashlight across the cargo bay. She flicks the power button on her flashlight, moving into the vaulted room without making a sound. The rest of her team follow suit, wordlessly and well-practiced.

She wasn’t expecting company, but at least she’ll be able to keep an eye on them without giving her own position away.

In the maintenance tunnels to the south, Karith and Crowblade push through the hanging cables and pipes that crowd the headspace of the maintenance tunnels. His auspex reads movement in the room ahead, but he needs to press forward.

He knows from his crude deck plan that this room has a ladder to an access vent, which should bring him out near the cargo manifest terminal. Whatever lies ahead has to be dealt with.

Off in the distance behind them, Crowblade hears the gutwrenching sound of a pressure door opening. Something else is in these tunnels, and it has them surrounded. He has to punch through whatever lies in front of them quickly. He telepathically gives the order for Karith to advance ahead of him, who does so gleefully.

The pressure door slides back, and Karith nervously passes his flashlight around the room. Hissing pipes and swaying chains, but no sign of life. He lets out a sigh of relief – just a ghost on the auspex.

Crowblade wastes no time finding the access ladder, keen not to hang around to meet an auspex glitch can open pressure doors.

Mulbrak Thrice-Bound continues moving silently around the cargo bay, keeping close to the gantry overhead. He saw a trio of lights flicker and die across the room, and his nose is filled with the scent of blood. He has a target, and his orders are straightforward. Seek and destroy.

On the north side, Amourah’s uncanny sense pick up a figure in the darkness. She has an almost sixth sense for finding people, part of what makes her such a valuable asset to her Inquisitor. In game terms, we treat this as a Wyrd ability for the Detection psychic power, even though she’s not psychic.

She picks up subtle air movements, the shuffle of feet, the sound of teeth tearing at flesh. Something is feasting on the bodies in here. She draws her inferno pistol and sneaks towards the stairs that lead up to the walkway.

Jackson is not quite operating at her level of discretion however, and his servo-actuated armour rings out through the darkness. A bestial hiss replies from the blackness, and something stumbles forwards into sight. The first blip is revealed!

An emaciated figure clad in tattered ratings’ overalls clambers over the bodies towards Jackson. A sharpened blade is gripped in one hand and its eyes are a solid red. Blood and filth cake its mouth and hands.

This was perhaps once a crew member, touched by the warp after the vessel’s disappearance and driven to cannibalism and madness. Jackson felt brief pity for the wretched creature and began spooling up his hellgun.

His pity evaporated in the half-second it took the warp-touched malignant to cross the deck towards him. In a flash of steel the flensing blade scraped along his stomach, deflected by his armour.

He swung wildly with his hellgun, so shocked by the creature’s speed, but it ducked and weaved under his clumsy rebuke. Another glint in the dark, this time the blade finding its mark and piercing his bicep. A glancing blow, but only just. Next time it might not be so glancing.

He threw an intentionally heavy swing, opening up space to compose himself. The crewman was too close for his hellgun, but he always kept something for close encounters. In one swift motion, Jackson parried the incoming blade with a knife of his own. The sound of steel on steel echoes across the cargo bay.

Meanwhile, Schipka is calmly scooby-dooing his way through the cargo bay, stubbornly keeping his flashlight on and making no attempts to conceal his presence. Off in the distance he hears the sound of combat, metal on metal, and bestial hissing and screeching. He sweeps his flashlight round to settle on another emaciated crewman with a terrible hunger in his bloodshot eyes.

His two braincells whirred. His left hand is his prize possession – an implant claw. In his right hand is his flashlight. Drawing his pistol means putting down his flashlight, which means no light, which means no pistol. Think, Schipka, think!

He looked back at his claw again. Of course! It’s so simple!

With an excited bellow, Schipka charges into combat.

Schipka and the other pit fighters have a non-traditional approach to combat drugs. They have six different types in a roulette injector, designed by crowds who were bored of predictability in their pit fights. When they activate, every pit fighter on the board rolls a D6 to see what combat drug they get injected into them.

There was a cheer from the players as ‘hallucinogen’ was rolled, followed by mild disappointment as the ‘frenzies for one turn’ result followed. Schipka obediently charged into combat, and in a single action tore the face of the crewman clean off, killing him instantly. Another cheer from the players!

Interrogator Amourah spots a creature cloaked in billowing shadow on the edge of her vision – little more than two huge claws dragging a horrific tooth-filled maw. She lines up a shot with her inferno pistol but the deadly beam burns a hole clean through the floor where the creature stands, somehow missing a straight shot.

Mulbrak flattens himself behind some crates, leaving a billowing outline of where he once stood. Another screeching melta blast hits the floor. Taking his opportunity, he concentrates hard, drawing in malefic energies and attempting to manifest Curse of Charybdis. In a shocking display of dice rolls the warp ebbs away time and time again, leaving him wide open and with a splitting headache.

This time Amourah takes no chances. She whips her flashlight out, aims squarely at the daemonhost and opens up.

By now, Crowblade and Karith had negotiated the access vent and expertly positioned themselves within striking distance of their objective. Sounds of battle raged in the cargo bay.

He could see Schipka tearing the face off some unfortunate soul, his erratic flashlight movement showing the battle like some gruesome slideshow. There was clearly some more fighting going on elsewhere but he was blind to it, and the daemonsword in his hand egged him onwards to his goal.

And then another light appeared, this time illuminating Mulbrak. A melta beam strikes the daemonhost square in the chest, flooring him and consuming the area he stood in thick black mist. He couldn’t make out the target, but they were on the walkway, and they weren’t aware of him.

He telepathically ordered Karith to see to the terminal. He would deal with this problem himself.

While Amourah is distracted by Mulbrak, Crowblade sprints forwards. The daemonblade in his hand springs to life, crackling with pink-blue fire. The sword arcs towards the flat-footed Amourah, biting deep into her side.

She staggers backwards, failing to find her footing on the cat walk grating. She raises her pistol at her assailant, but it is too late. The blade gouges several inches from her skull, exposing the bionic components beneath.

She falls. Flames lick from the wound, her bionics sparking and failing. The light from her one good eye drifts away.

Crowblade rolls her over with the ball of his foot, checking for identifying marks. No obvious insignias, but he doesn’t recognise the uniform. An Imperial agent no doubt – well equipped and well connected – but just an Imperial agent. Their master is sure to reveal themselves after this incident, and Crowblade will be waiting. Yes. Just as planned…

He hears an excited yell from the catwalk behind him. “Master, I have it!”.

On the main deck, Jackson’s dance with the crewman continues. The crazed creature can barely penetrate the veteran’s heavy armour, but Jackson can never get far enough from combat to bring his hellgun to bear.

The stalemate was about to break however, necessarily in his favour, as the final blip moved through the shuttle bay access vent and revealed itself to be a third crazed crewman.

(By this point, the game had been going on for about three hours. Jackson moved about 12″ from his starting location and failed to make any successful attacks or roll more than two actions to break from combat. It’s very difficult to make that agonisingly funny poor performance sound thrilling.)

(By contrast, Tin Man had succeeded in rolling a single action every turn. He hadn’t been forgotten in this battle report, there just really wasn’t anything to report.)

Tin Man had been hiding behind studying a stack of stasis containers – evidence number 2. Fragments of bone littered the cargo bay deck, and corpses had been torn from their stasis. Only a handful of corpses seemed to have been eaten however – dozens, maybe hundreds, were missing.

Schipka dropped the ragged face of the crewman on the floor, rather pleased with how that went. The sounds of fighting echoed around him, but none of it seemed directed at him. He figured he’d use the opportunity to do a bit of sleuthing, which for a character with a Sagacity of 25 seemed like a long shot.

In an incredible series of dice rolls (008 and 003) he Sherlocked the shit out of his situation. He clocked the nearby stasis containers with missing bodies (evidence 2) and noticed strange battle damage on the walls and floor, almost like a whirlwind or large beast was thrashing around. These deep gouges lead towards the airlock, which had sealed over the drag marks, like whatever it was had been sucked out into the void. (Evidence 1).

Landing his flashlight on a pile of bodies in the middle of the room, he saw some dressed in Navigator colours, and some other rough-looking types. A particularly important body, dressed in Navigator robes, lay next to an empty container.

Sadly, or hilariously, depending on your viewpoint, this was the Sagacity test he chose to fail. He recognised the type of container from Distro-19, and despite it being empty and sat next to an important-looking Navigator dressed in House Dacien colours, he figured the box was the important part. Boss will be so proud.

Tin Man stepped out from behind the stasis containers. To his left, Jackson was fighting off two warp-touched crewmen. Up on the cat walk ahead was flashes of melta fire and the sounds of swords clashing. To his right, a flashlight bearing down on him.

He had faith in his team – they could handle a few bilge rats, and he wasn’t going to help anyone by shooting into combat. He levelled his shotgun at the incoming flashlight and fired. He thought he made out the silhuoette of a figure illuminated by the shot, they seemed to go down. He didn’t have time to check.

A hoarse screen sounded from behind him. He turned just in time to duck under a wicked blade aimed at his neck. One of the crewmen had peeled off the assault on Jackson and lunged at him!

Tin man found an opening and backed away down an aisle, putting a few rounds into the crewman as he went. The crewman enraged rather than hurt, so Tin Man readied another salvo.

The air around him grew cold. Despite it being pitch black, it somehow got darker. Loud rattly breathing was suddenly the only thing he could hear. He turned and saw the void itself stare back.

Having apparently saved up all his action rolls for this part of the game, he shoulder-barged the raving crewman out the way and ducked round the corner to the next aisle of racking, confident the two creatures would cancel each other out.

Mulbrak made one more failed attempt at manifesting Curse of Charybdis before abandoning that plan and going with something a little more hands-on: Warp Strength.

The crewman had other ideas. Although he immediately lost sight of Tin Man in the darkness, he found himself standing next to an extremely meaty-looking pit fighter rolling around on the floor. He sliced at him, the pit fighter deftly rolling out the way and pulling himself to his feet.

With an almighty crash, the newly hulked-out Mulbrak’s clumsy attempt to climb the storage racking ended with the aisle smashing apart, exposing a path to Tin Man.

Horror-movie style, the crewman with the ripped-apart face suddenly sat up. He had finally passed his True Grit check to get back in the fight. He pulled himself to his feet and found himself mere yards away from the person who tore his face off.

(And yes, Jackson was still fruitlessly wrestling with someone who couldn’t hurt him)

It was finally Tin Man’s time to shine. He was sick of this mire of mutants and monsters, and had a belt full of explosive solutions. The plan was simple: prime and throw a grenade, then retreat as fast as possible for all remaining actions.

The dice were rolled. He primed a grenade.

Mulbrak, now with a Strength of over 120, leapt forwards and smashed the par-boiled grenade clean from Tin Man’s grasp. It exploded harmlessly somewhere in the racking behind everyone, much to every player’s disappointment.

Jackson receives a garbled message relayed from their gun-cutter – the House Dacien kill team was almost here, they needed to finish up and withdraw.

With renewed vigour, he breaks from the terrifying emaciated lunatic with the rusty knife, and heads towards the stairs to find the Interrogator. He spools up his hellgun and fires wildly into the dark after the crewman, missing every shot.

Back on the catwalk, Karith hands over the data-slate to Crowblade, along with his findings. (Evidence 5) The cargo manifest contains largely unremarkable details of warzones these bodies have been collected from, but the last entry is particularly juicy.

A flight path of Novator Hypatos’ shuttle that started at a colony near Distro-19 on Gehanna. It ended docked in this very cargo bay some months ago. With some time, they could figure out exact coordinates and get closer to the Crown of Bones.

Crowblade took the dataslate and sent a message to Karith’s mind that he was pleased with his work. With another thought, he informed Schipka and Mulbrak that they had everything they needed – it was time to leave.

Tin Man received the withdraw orders from Jackson too, and decided it was time to stop playing about with the baby bombs.

As Mulbrak bore down on him, its awful maw ringed with teeth, he heaved a demolition charge straight down its gullet.

With a comedy belch of smoke, Mulbrak toppled over. He collapsed into the racking, engulfed by black smoke.

He had been saved by his Impervious trait, racking up a terrifying amount of damage but surviving a direct hit without permanent damage. Tin Man didn’t know or care however, as he had booked it across the cargo bay to meet up with Jackson on the stairs.

Karith and Crowblade left the board without fuss. They had what they came for, and Crowblade was confident that the other two would find their own way back to their shuttle.

Jackson and Tin Man met up on the stairs, pausing only to fill a screeching crewman that had been persuing them full of hellgun rounds. It felt good to finally hit something with that gun.

They grabbed Interrogator Amourah and evacuated back to their gun-cutter.

The last players on the pitch were Mulbrak and Schipka, who still stubbornly had his flashlight on. There were (somehow) still two crewmen left, but the pair made short work of them.

Schipka squared off against his old nemesis Faceless Guy, and in a statistically pleasing manner hit him square in the head again with his claw, crushing what remained like a paper cup.

The roided-up Mulbrak bore down on the final crewman, who had suffered shotgun blasts and stab wounds and yet still had barely a scratch on him. Mulbrak dragged himself up to the crewman, who had been busy duelling Schipka at the time, and pulled his arm clean from his socket.

With that surprisingly violent turn, the game was called to a close as our warbands fled the field.

The scores

With Amourah’s warband only getting a single piece of evidence, they failed their objective and lose 1 Resource from their buy-in. Not only that, but Amourah’s serious head injury needs serious medical attention which they’ll have to shell out another Resource for. Things are looking a little sparse on the ground for her warband…

Compared to Crowblade’s warband, who come out with +2 Resources overall. They lose 1 for the buy-in, but gained 2 for completing their objective (gaining 3 pieces of evidence) and an additional one for securing the bonus Resource.

Crowblade is victorius, and goes into the next game with incredible advantage.

The wrap-up

What a game! It had tension, investigation, knocking lots of scenery over, everything!

I’m very pleased with the board setup, it’s something I’ve spent a lot of lockdown hours on, and it’s finally paying off. I think I’ll definitely build more ‘filler’ walls – long pieces of foamboard with junk stuck onto them – to take the place of the more useful MDF wall pieces. It massively extends the amount of blocks I can use in construction and costs me next to nothing. It’ll also be helpful when I want to start creating individual buildings with this kit to help have some aesthetic differences.

I really liked using the space hulk tiles to have a secondary area to sneak around in. It’s a shame it didn’t get used very much, but I put that down to the third player being unavaible to play on the day. I think with a third party we’d have seen a lot more making use of all the crawlspaces.

I think we’re also seeing a shift in how some warbands are playing. We’re so used to playing one-off games, or scenarios that are only loosely linked by story, that other elements like persistent injury and ammunition has never come up. Tin Man burned through a lot of his expensive explosives, and Crowblade’s player felt guilty for immediately murdering Amourah by setting her head on fire.

All told it was an excellent game with plenty of laughs and dramatic moments. It’ll be great to see how these characters and relationships evolve over the course of the campaign.

See you next week!

Previous scenario

MOTB: Forklift and flatbed truck

Finished product first!

Eagle-eyed viewers noticed a narratively-important piece of getaway scenery in last week’s Inquisitor battle report, and here it is in its full glory!

These are MDF kits from the australian company MiniatureScenery.com, which aside from having an awful name to try and remember, has the best MDF vehicle kits on the market.

The two I picked up are the Heavy Industrial Forklift and Humpt1 Mk2 flatbed truck, although I’ve just noticed they now do a Humpt1 Hauler

I picked these because a) they looked really cool and b) they looked completely scale-agnostic. I play lots of Necromunda and Inquisitor, both separate scales, and it’s difficult to maintain separate terrain collections for them. Vehicles are particularly tricky, so when I can find something that looks convincing enough at either size, it’s a must-have.

Assembly

It unsurprisingly took a while to arrive, what with the company being the other side of the world and my silly little island deciding to make all imports harder so we can have a different coloured passport.

I was impressed at how compact the sprues were – the forklift was just over a sheet of A4. I consider myself an experienced builder, and combined with the impressive design and layout of most model kits these days, makes it straightforward to figure out what goes where. This was the first kit in a long, long time I had to knuckle down and follow the instructions step by step.

These were complex. Not difficult to follow mind, just lots of parts that I couldn’t spatially process how they’d go together.

For example, the truck wheels were each assembled from four different pieces, each slightly offset from each other to produce the wheel tread. Of course muggins here didn’t read the instructions and didn’t realise some of the wheels are oriented differently because of the front suspension arm doohickey and had to prise them back apart.

Ultimately though, these were lovely kits to build, and really showing off how versatile MDF can be as a hobby material.

The instructions did say where to pause construction and paint the interior, but sub-assemblies are for cowards and I pressed on.

There was no need to add extra details, so after a healthy dollop of textured paint it was time to hit the rattlecans.

Flat colours

As is now tradition for MDF pieces, I gave them both two coats of black undercoat to start with. MDF is a thirsty, thirsty boy, and saturating it with a (cheaper) undercoat helps the other paints go on easier, and makes washes go further rather than just soaking straight into the wood.

After black, I tend to give a zenithal highlight before painting. The forklift had a simple grey highlight, while the truck took a blast of Venetian Tan by TTcombat, which comes out much more yellow than it appears in pictures. I always intended the truck to be yellow and figured that would be a better starting point.

Both vehicles were painted with a similar technique, just different colours used. First, the entire chassis gets overbrushed with a lighter colour – Averland Sunset for the truck, Horus Green for the forklift

Tyes, tracks and flatbed get picked out with Eshin Grey, metallic parts get Warplock Bronze. Other base colours are layered on to pick out details, like lights or fuel pods.

Everything except the chassis gets a heavy wash of Agrax Earthshade, while the chassis of the truck got a little watered down orange applied to recesses.

The chassis gets an edge highlight of a slightly lighter colour, and then it’s on with the weathering!

Typhus Corrosion gets liberally applied to just about everywhere, concentrated on moving parts or areas likely to get bumped a lot during use.

Once that had dried, the final touch was to apply a very rough stipple/edge highlight of silver to areas most heavily affected by wear and tear. Rough splodges or scratch marks help sell the idea of badly-treated machinery.

Simple and effective, and helps to visually isolate the shape of the wheels compared to the rest of the vehicle.

And they were done! I’m always intimidated painting vehicles – I still haven’t developed a satisfying technique for weathering things larger than single figures, so I fall back on my usual technique and just scale it up. It produces nice results, but it is time-consuming (and uses a lot of expensive technical paints!).

Overall though, I’m extremely happy with how they came out. I used them almost immediately after finishing them in my latest Inquisitor battle report, and they’re likely to get re-used many times over. They’re such versatile pieces of scatter terrain that I can see them popping up in all kinds of scenarios.

Now, about that larger truck they sell…

Dust-up at Distro-19 | Inquisitor Battle Report

It is the first scenario of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign, and we’re starting with a bang.

This is an Annex mission, specifically one to test out some new character concepts that, in some cases, don’t have full miniatures yet. You don’t need perfectly painted minis to enjoy Inquisitor – when I got started, we would play with plastic Space Marine dreadnoughts and the cave troll from Balin’s Tomb. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of fun!

In this scenario, a newly-minted Ordo Hereticus Explicator team and a warband of Chaos Undivided descend on a busy distribution centre on Gehanna. Their target: a munitions depot.

Setting the scene

Distro-19 is a bustling distribution centre, similar to dozens of others scattered across the planet’s dig sites. Supplies flow in, archeological artefacts flow out.

Distro-19 maintains a reinforced munitions depot storing high explosives for blasting through bedrock, personally looked after by Foreman Ashford. With all this new Navigator coin flowing through the distribution centre he has secured each case with top-of-the-range shock-proof designs, and they can endure fire, shocks, or even gunshots. He often boasts “You’d have to blow ’em up to blow ’em up.”

Unfortunately for his paymasters he already has plans for these munitions, and he’s about to void a lot of warranties.

The munitions depot has two entrances and an interior roof ladder. The west entrance is next to the blue railcar, with the east entrance being opposite in the alley.

The warbands

Firstly is Ashford’s stevedore gang, a group of overworked, underpaid labourers of House Dacien who have been dealing with a spate of disappearances from their ranks. Through his network of contacts Ashford has sourced some weapons to arm his fellow stevedores, and they intend to take matters into their own hands.

Ashford in the top left and going clockwise; Staz, Grigori, Diogo, and Drummer

Explicator Stigg and Rogue Trader Phaelon make up the Inquisitorial representation, with faithful cyber-construct Gnasher in tow. Stigg is a freshly-minted Interrogator who has negotiated the use of Phaelon’s vessel and crew to investigate the Crown of Bones. What Phaelon gets in return is between him and the Explicator, but it’s reasonable to assume it’s not out the goodness of his own heart.

They are investigating a strange energy signature coming from Distro-19, a discordant but unmistakably similar energy signature that was present on the Ius Soli when it arrived in the system. Stigg has an auspex specifically tuned to this energy signature, which appears to be emanating from inside the munitions depot.

Explicator Stigg (currently a stand-in) at the top, with Rogue Trader Phaelon and Gnasher below

The Chaos warband is lead by a daemon sword-wielding mute called Crowblade, and is accompanied by an assortment of pit fighters who don’t display any outward signs of Chaos influence. Crowblade is bargaining on their relatively normal appearance to help him carry out his mission.

Crowblade also seeks the Crown of Bones, but is finding it extremely difficult to move about with so many rival agents in the system. He’s cooked up a few plans to keep authorities distracted so he can operate a bit more freely, and it starts with a bit of insurrection.

He has supplied a local disgruntled workforce with some small arms, and intends to carry out a false flag attack on their munitions depot to help galvanise them into action. They’re already on the brink with little trust left in their so-called protectors, and all it would take is a teeny-weeny explosion to set them down the correct path. Just as planned.

Crowblade and Shipka deploy north of the munitions depot
Pit Boss and Gunny prepare for a charm offensive and deploy close to the stevedores
Setting the scene

Gehenna is a sun-baked wasteland (not to be confused with the UK during a heatwave whose own sun kept blowing out my photos), and the tarmac surfaces of Distro-19 would be no exception. Although the game would take place during midday, the nauseating heat haze would require Initiative checks to spot anyone not obviously out in the open.

Not only that, but Distro-19 and its surroundings are still very much in operation. The clamour of rails, servo-lifters and machinery creates such a din that any listening checks would be halved.

Game on

Explicator Stigg and Rogue Trader Phaelon approach Distro-19 on the trail of a strange energy signature, but as they arrive things are not as they expect. Rather than the labourers going about their business, they are arming themselves in a courtyard while one of their number shouts about taking matters into their own hands.

Where these stevedores got so many weapons, and what matters they feel they need to be armed to deal with, are not his concern right now. His auspex is pointed squarely at the munitions depot in the middle of the distribution centre, and with all the labourers gathered in the courtyard, it is completely unguarded.

He pulls a small leather box from his pocket, pressing his thumb to the bio-coder to unlock it. Inside is a shard of mirror with a disturbing depth to its reflection. A haunting face leers back in the distance. A fragment of a daemon, bound to a mirror and broken apart. It hates the Explicator, but it hates the prospect of having a shard lost or broken into even more pieces, so it begrudgingly uses its powers to help while it bides its time.

With a hoarse cackle the mirror daemon reveals the presence of another daemonic entity near the distro centre, knowing Stigg would be compelled to investigate, and offers to commune with it to find out more. The Explicator hastily stuffs the shard back in its warded leather box. Stigg almost died preventing this daemon escaping from its mirror prison – he wouldn’t give it another chance.

He beckons Phaelon and Gnasher to follow and he breaks cover for a nearby railcar.

On the other side of the board, Crowblade’s daemon sword hums and squirms in his hand. He can sense the agitation of the workers here, and judging from the shouts coming from the courtyard up ahead, his supply of weapons has found their intended owners. He hears a voice in his soul. Yes… just as planned…

With his distraction in place, he makes his way to the munitions depot to weigh his options for havoc. Sadly these workers were better equipped than he’d thought. The explosives are reinforced for industrial-grade accidents, and nothing short of plunging his warpfire sword into them would set them off.

He’d need to find the remote detonator, usually in an office or with a foreman. He suspected he knew just where to find such a man…

While the rallying cries for safer working conditions continue, two more of Crowblades’ retinue approach the stevedores. Pit Boss, the more charismatic of the two, clears his throat. All the workers turn their heads to these augmented fighters.

He makes an impassioned plea to join their insurrection, citing vague similarities with his own non-descript working conditions, and that he works vaguely off over there somewhere, gesturing wildly. His Leadership check to convince them is appalling, and the stevedores look at each other nervously.

Gunny, another augmented pit fighter with guns for hands, staggers over to them screaming “LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO MY HANDS!”. He rolls a 001 for his persuasion, and against everyone’s expectation of how the game was going to play out, the stevedores welcome these two new augmented comrades into their fold with open arms.

Ashford cites these two as further examples of the cruelty that House Dacien can inflict on their workforce, with the two pit fighters nodding along. He explains they’re about to take all the explosives, load them onto the truck and ride to the next Distro centre, where they’ll bring their message of solidarity to the next lot of workers.

Ashford shouts that they’ll use the weapons of House Dacien against them, and asks Pit Boss and Gunny to use their augmented strength to help carry the munitions. Agape with how well this is going, they both agree and set off to the east entrance.

They spot Shipka and Crowblade in the distance, and signal that everything is going perfectly. Shipka and Crowblade double back, intending to check the covered containers for any more detonators.

Back on the other side of the depot, Phaelon and Stigg have moved swiftly and silently towards their target. Gnasher, on the other hand, has moved neither swiftly nor silently and his clanking alerts one of the stevedores, Drummer.

He shouts some demands at it, but it ignores his requests and clanks off into the distance. Drummer alerts Ashford, who orders Diogo to accompany Drummer and check it out.

Ashford stops Pit Boss and Gunny in their tracks with a click of his revolvers. “How many of you are there?”

Eager to please, the pit fighters insist it’s just the three of them. Ashford remains unconvinced, but time pressures mean he’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, and asks Staz to keep an eye on them while they load the trucks. Ashford takes Grigori with him round to the east side of the depot.

Largely oblivious to the unfolding drama, Stigg and Phaelon slip into the munitions dump. Phaelon orders Gnasher to keep watch, setting him to sound an alarm if anyone gets close to the entrance.

The auspex leads them to a keypad-locked container – the energy signature is coming from whatever is inside it. The Rogue Trader pushes past the Explicator to get a better look – there isn’t a lock he can’t crack.

At this moment exact moment Drummer appears at the west door, accompanied by Diogo, Pit Boss and Gunny. Gnasher’s bark-sirens go off, alarm lights beaming from his eyes.

Drummer bellows “Looks like we got company, boss! I think it’s a stitch-up!”

Ashford barrels into the depot, scanning the gloomy corners for signs of trouble. Phaelon realises both their exits are blocked, so the ladder next to them is the only option. With a successful Sagacity check, he spots some precariously-stacked girders in the corner.

With a flick of the wrist, he slices through their bindings and they topple, as predicted, towards the racking. Explosives clatter to the floor as the racking dominos across the room to the opposite racking. Ashford and Grigori dive clear of the crushing metal, Ashford ending up inside the depot, while Grigori is trapped outside the east entrance.

Phaelon tosses the box to Stigg, who drops his auspex to free up his hands. “Time to move!”

Crawling out from under the wreckage, Ashford is cursing like a sailor. “They gotta be House Dacien! They’ve sent some scum to finish us off! Shoot anyone who ain’t us!”

Phaelon didn’t like the sound of that, and sends a command to Gnasher to occupy Ashford long enough for them to make their escape.

Stigg knows stacked odds when he sees them and sets about creating an equaliser. He whips out an incendiary grenade in one hand, flicks the pin out with his thumb and rolls it into the west entrance. Drummers’ eyes widen. “Watch out, boss!”

Drummer throws himself onto the grenade, the blast punching through his gut, killing him instantly.

With the flames filling the doorway and temporarily equalising the fight, Stigg clambers up the ladder to the roof.

Ashford wails in anguish from the floor. He’s been around enough industrial accidents to know an instant death when he sees one. He fires his revolvers wildly at Stigg clambering up the ladder, shots pinging harmlessly off the racking.

“The Man is here, and he’s trying to kill us! Take ’em out boys!” He bellows, limping across the room and slamming a fist onto the emergency sprinkler system.

As the sprinklers burst to life, a horrible two-legged cybernetic construct launches itself at Ashford, its metal maw snapping.

Diogo pulls Drummer’s lifeless body free from the flames. Sobbing, he looks up at his new friend Pit Boss. He takes his shotgun off his shoulder and tearfully raises it at Pit Boss.

“I’m sorry, Boss says I gotta shoot you…”

Pit Boss somehow manages another convincing argument, explaining that The Man is the ones in there blowing things up, not the ones out here trying to help carry stuff. Diogo glumly nods and pulls himself to his feet.

Shipka, who had snuck up behind Diogo just in case, makes a “shall I kill this guy?” motion at Pit Boss. Pit Boss replies with a “No, definitely don’t kill this guy” motion while Diogo is isn’t watching.

Staz and Gunny have been at an impasse in the courtyard. Ashford shouted something about shooting people, but Staz would always measure twice, cut once. He had his combat shotgun trained on Gunny, and sweat was rolling down his face. He didn’t sign up for this level of decision-making.

Suddenly Stigg pops the hatch on the munitions depot, followed by a plume of black smoke. In a panic, Staz wheels his shotgun around to the newcomer and lets a few rounds fly. They all ping off the lip of the depot and Stigg dives for cover.

There is carnage inside the depot as Gnasher gnaws at Ashford, who is doing his best to avoid getting bitten. As the fire is extinguished, Diogo and Pit Boss leap into the fray to take out the ravening machine, who keeps dancing around his increasingly-frustrated opponents.

This continues for many, many turns.

Phaelon finally surfaces under a hail of shotgun fire from Staz, and following Stigg’s example keeps his head down to flee across the roof.

Gunny circles around the couryard to get a better angle for his guns, takes aim, and…

The injector rig on his back whirrs into life, a cocktail of drugs spinning in their frame like pinwheel. The games have begun!

A stray shot from Ashford’s revolver clipped Pit Boss’ injector rig, which has signalled to the other Pit Fighters’ rigs to activate too. As part of their creation they were fitted with a form of Stimm Roulette for the entertainment of the crowds. Nobody knew what kind of combat drug they’d be dealt once activated, and they could all be activated remotely from the master rig.

Drugs flood Gunny’s system and a red haze descends. He no longer wants to shoot, he wants to rend flesh from bone, to tear at limbs with his bare teeth. He has rolled Psychon, causing him to be subject to Frenzy, and he launched himself at the wall to clamber up after Phaelon and Stigg.

Even with guns instead of hands, his sheer bloody-minded determination to climb a wall saw him through, and with a wolf-cry of victory, gave chase across the roof.

Back in the alley, Grigori had picked himself up from the fallen racking. He barely had time to figure out what to do before a horrifying figure in a horned helmet came bearing down on him with a flaming sword.

He slashed Grigori across the chest, and even as Grigori tried desperately to reason and plea, the assailant kept silent. He simply stepped forward, parrying Grigori’s clumsy blows, and delivering more glancing hits on the stevedore, as though he wanted to take him apart piece by piece.

By now, Staz had run out of ammunition firing at the assumed House Dacien agents on the rooftop, and had retreated to a pillar in the alleyway to reload. He turned just in time to see an armoured warrior plunge a fiery blade through Grigori’s sternum, who slumped to the ground.

Panicking even more, Staz’s unpractised fingers fumble the magazine, and by the time he looked back down the alley, the horned fighter had disappeared.

Crowblade, annoyed at his botched silent assassination of the worker, had ducked behind a nearby shipping container. He wasn’t sure he could cover the distance between him and the gunman before he reloaded, and no amount of faith in the Changer of Ways can hold your organs together after a close-range gutfull of lead.

The chances of him getting hold of detonators at this point seemed slim at best, but circumstances had proven more favourable than he’d thought. A third party was somewhere else in Distro-19 stirring up trouble, and his minions had ingratiated themselves into the workforce better than he could have dreamed. He didn’t even need to create a false flag attack – someone else had done it for him.

While the gunner was distracted with reloading, he sprinted away down the alley and off the board. His work was done.

A voice cawed in his soul again. Just as planned…

With the crate firmly in hand, Stigg leaps from the depot rooftop onto some nearby crates. Checking over his shoulder, Phaelon is close by, followed by a frothing aug with guns for hands, clambering up onto the roof by sheer force of will.

Stigg wasn’t sure why the madman hadn’t taken a shot yet, but it wasn’t time to question. He slid down the tarpaulin and took cover near a flatbed truck.

By this point, everyone can hear sirens wailing in the distance. Authorities had clearly been alerted to the fire alarm in the depot and there was limited time left to make a getaway.

Stigg threw a hopeful glance at the truck. The keys were in the ignition…

Pit Boss, now juiced up on Reflex, finally puts an end to Gnasher. They take a moment to take stock of their situation, all of them battered and bruised but surprisingly unharmed.

Ashford clocks the sirens in the distance and signals to Diogo to grab some munitions. He points a revolver at Pit Boss, saying “I still don’t trust you, but we can deal with that later. Right now we have to grab these crates and scarper before more House Dacien thugs turn up.”

Pit Boss, overjoyed that his gossamer-thin cover story was somehow still intact, excitedly grabs a couple of crates and jogs towards the truck.

As Pit Boss loads his crates onto the truck, Phaelon steps out from behind his crate with a strange-looking flintlock pistol raised. He shoots, barely winging the brute, who turns to take a swing at the Rogue Trader.

As he does so, Pit Boss realises his hands aren’t hands anymore, but a mess of writhing tentacles. He panics and screams, looking around for help, dropping his axe in the process.

Ashford darts out the depot looking for the commotion and sees Pit Boss screaming at his (perfectly normal) hands. He doesn’t recognise the person in the fancy hat, but he looks ruling class, so has to be House Dacien. He aims carefully and squeezes off a shot with his revolver.

Bang! Phaelon’s conversion field absorbs the shot, firing off a blinding burst of energy in retaliation. Everyone passes their Initiative checks to avoid being blinded… except Stigg. He finds himself stunned for a dangerous number of turns with so many pit fighters bearing down on them.

Gunny had caught up with them, but in his frenzied pursuit had thrown himself off the roof and landed on his head, putting himself out of action for the remainder of the game.

The Rogue Trader had no choice but to draw his phase sword and duel with the pit fighter. Pit Boss realised his hands were fine after all and grabbed his axe to cut down this interloper. The Rogue Trader was well but his fencing days were behind him, and there’s only so much fancy footwork you can do against such raw strength and aggression.

In the midst of the cut and thrust, Phaelon managed to grab Stigg by the scruff and throw him onto the back of the truck. Sweeping the Pit Fighter’s leg, he dived into the cockpit and prayed it would start.

While the truck spluttered and coughed into life, Stigg’s vision had returned enough for him to draw his laspistol and fire wildly at the menacing blurry figures that had surrounded the truck.

The truck roared into life, and Phaelon slammed his foot on the accelerator. They left Distro-19 in the dust.

Pit Boss ran back to Ashford, demanding he detonate explosives on the truck. After a tense back and forth, Ashford finally agreed to part with those munitions (they were lost now anyway) and configured the detonator to explode only the ones on the truck.

Despite them being some distance away by now (well off the board), Stigg and Phaelon noticed the priming lights change just in time and threw themselves from the truck. With a thunderous explosion the mining charges tore the truck to shreds, setting off a small mushroom cloud of dust on the horizon.

Stigg and Phaelon disappeared into the wastes with their prize, and while all the workers and pit fighters at the distro were convinced House Dacien’s agents had been killed, Crowblade watched on from a vantage point. He didn’t know who they were, but he was sure he’d be seeing them again in the future.

Just as planned.

The wrap up

Both warbands were awarded 1 Resource for completing their objectives. Explicator Stigg made off with the source of the energy signature, and even though Crowblade didn’t blow up the munitions depot, he managed to infiltrate the stevedore’s gang so perfectly he didn’t need any other provocation.

Only a couple of pit fighters took any hits on the players’ side – and even then, only light or heavy injuries. Stigg and Phaelon never took any injuries at all! As per the campaign mechanics for injuries they both walk away with clean slates, but the same couldn’t be said for poor Gnasher.

We discussed afterwards that Gnasher is a good piece of wargear, but a carbon copy of the cyber mastiff rules didn’t fit his intended use as well as we’d hoped. He’ll be getting some slight tweaks for his next iteration – discussions were had about giving him a photon flash attack, or some kind of area denial effect like a webber or grease bomb.

The player would use the Resource he won from this mission to build a new Gnasher back on Phaelon’s ship, harder, faster, better, stronger. We look forward to seeing what Gnasher mk.2 looks like!

Next scenario

Chapter 1: No Souls on Board

MOTB: Tarpaulin-covered cargo

Finished product first!

As part of my “build a honking great 54mm warehouse” project I envisioned some large scatter pieces to fill the aisles and cargo holds of the far future, but weren’t scale-dependent like cargo containers.

I shamelessly stole this idea from a regular at my FLGS Asgard Wargames many moons ago and I’ve kept it in the memory bank ever since (Thank you Ben Cane!). Now I had the time and justification to give it a go.

Ghost boxes

What appealed to me most about this idea was how gosh darn cheap and simple it was to put together. Step one: assemble any old tat. I had some spare mdf cubes that were just taking up space, as well as some smaller cardboard boxes and leftover spray paint caps.

Everything was kept in place by judicious use of hot glue. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t neat – everything was going to get covered up by the ‘tarp’ later on anyway.

After exhausting all the tiny boxes I had in my recycling bin, I assembled a few extra cubes from scraps of foamboard from my STC hab project. I figure if I’m building scenery, it’s worth building a set.

Once dry, I got some heavy duty tissues (thick but unpatterned) and cut them roughly to size. Using some watered-down PVA, I placed the ‘tarp’ on top of each pile and carefully (but liberally) dabbed on the glue mix.

I let the natural absorbancy of the tissue and gravity do most of the work. I avoided doing any brushing motions, instead using the large brush to gently tease the wet tissue into the desired shape. I found the only encouraging I needed to get the best results was trying to minimise the number of smaller creases on flat surfaces, to help with the sense of scale.

Once it was fully dry, I gave it another gentle coat of watered-down PVA to help strengthen it, then it was on to the painting!

It’s a tarp!

Painting was super simple as well. Everything got a heavy undercoat of matt black (making sure the tissue was well saturated), followed by a zenithal blast of whatever other spray colour I had at the time. In this case, a blue and a light brown/yellow.

Once sprayed, everything was drybrushed a lighter colour, then a wash of Agrax, then another final light drybrush. Finished!

Given how little time and money was needed for these pieces, I’m over the moon with how well they’ve come out. I wanted some large, line-of-sight blocking pieces that were setting-agnostic to be used just about anywhere, and I’m blown away with how well the finished product looks.

And they’re huge! Even at 54mm scale they take up a sizeable chunk of the board, and at Necromunda scale they’re perfect for having a whole shootout inside a hangar bay or cargo hold.

This is a great recipe for easy scatter, and it’s completely adjustable to your particular taste. Perhaps you want to get some cheap dolls house furniture and paint the tarps white to look like dust sheets instead? Or get some old minis you aren’t using and have an army of spooky mannequins?

Over the moon with this project, and I can’t wait to get some photos of them in action.

MOTB: Inquisitor-scale STC habs

Finished product first!

I’ve been on an Inquisitor kick recently, working on finishing some bits for an upcoming campaign with some chums. I’ve been finishing ancient WIP projects like Archmagos Quinne or Von Koppola, as well as building new pieces to furnish future battlegrounds.

This time I turned my hand to something different – building something new out of something old.

Standard Template Construct

Very few “official” pieces of Inquisitor scenery exist from the early noughties – just a handful of (absurdly priced) gothic resin scatter from Forgeworld and the iconic STC Hab, a single piece cast from hard foam.

It had seen hundreds of hours of tabletop use, usually representing settlements or frontiers, but its loneliness never sat right with me. I toyed with the idea of buying several more pieces off ebay to create a small town, but it was prohibitively expensive and I’d end up having to hack them apart to make them look different, which felt like sacrelige. What if I made my own?

With some bevelled MDF bases from ebay and some chunks of balsa wood to make the base, I had my foundations laid. My primary material would be foamboard – a material I’d never used before – as I’d pinched a load of off-cuts from work. It also was a landmark moment for me as it necessitated the purchase of a cutting mat.

For the first time in almost 20 years, I finally acquired a different hobby surface than my old high school sketch book.

A sticky(back) situation

The foamboard was 5mm thick, making it easy to roughly work out how many sheets I’d need to make walls different thicknesses. What wasn’t easy was realising I’d assembled a bunch of walls using sticky-back foam board without peeling the protective paper off. I had to pull it apart and start again.

I had two goals. Firstly to replicate the look and feel of the original design, and secondly to make a large playable space inside the buildings. As much as I love the original piece, you can barely fit three miniatures in there, not to mention plot maguffins. The new ones would need to have nice wide interiors.

Buttress on both sides of the bread

On the subject of the original design, the more I studied it, the more I realised there was none. It was a scenery designer cutting cool shapes out of I presume pink foam and gluing them together in a cohesive piece.

There are no rules or repeat patterns, very few standard shapes, and very little logic apparent in its construction. It is very warhammer in that respect, but that makes it very frustrating to copy.

I picked out a few designs I liked and replicated them around the buildings. Buttresses came in two widths – thick (20mm) and thin (15mm), and would vary evenly in height. Some touched the top of the wall, some exceeded it.

By this point I had got exceptionally good at hand-bevelling, as any sloped edges are at a constant 0.5mm depth.

Some corners were gien buttresses, some were left bare, and some were given 45 degree slabs to round them off a bit. I tried not to have any repeating patterns – the original doesn’t have a single corner the same as another.

The only exception is perhaps the larger square building with its uniform front. I wanted it to be more like an operational or commercial building (I had code named it ‘town hall’ in m head) so needed a slightly more impressive entrance.

I had thought about taking measurements to turn into a 3D model or used as a template for other people to follow, but honestly it would be almost as much work again. Every section had to be painfully measured, cut, re-cut, shaved down, wiggled round etc just to fit. If someone wants to pay me to produce a template though, I’m all ears!

Filler? I hardly knew ‘er

Foamboard is a great construction material – cheap, lightweight, holds its shape perfectly, but isn’t without its downsides. It has exposed polystyrene edges, which will melt if you apply superglue/poly cement or hit it with a spray can. Also, no matter how careful you are, several bits of foamboard stacked up will never have a flat edge – they’ll always appear like three little sandwhiches. I needed to fill the sides.

Enter the all-purpose filler, increasingly becoming one of my favourite hobby materials alongside PVA glue.

After adding a few strips of thick plasticard around the windows and doors help define them a bit, all the exposed edges got a thick covering of filler, applied generously with an old Tesco clubcard, and kept very wet throughout to help shape it.

I wasn’t worried about the look at this point, only for coverage. Once it dried I hit it with the sandpaper to define some of those corners and smooth the edges. The biggest downside to filler is that it’s porous and incredibly powedery when it dries, making it not ideal for regular tabletop use.

Luckily its porous nature makes it perfect for my other favourite building material – PVA glue (aka white glue, school glue, etc). Give it a very generous coating over the filler it sucks up the glue like a sponge and dries rock hard. I was shocked how well it worked even after one coat, I was expecting to have to do several to see any benefit at all.

On with the detailing!

Raising the roof

I raided my bits box for various plastic gubbins to break up the flat shapes of the walls. Many of the original greebling is lost to time, although I could definitely ID a few bits here and there, including parts from ancient space marine tanks and some classic warhammer Orc shield designs. The chances of me getting those were slim, so I improvised.

Random bits were applied all over, with vague and indistinct shapes to suggest function without particularly describing it. I tried to follow the original’s intent, even if I couldn’t copy the design.

Once all the plastic had gone on (and I’d figured out where my ladders were going), I started to shape the roofs.

This was about as unscientific as you could imagine. I roughly measured where certain buttresses would be that I’d have to cut out allowances for, but due to all the extra filler and creative placement of features, it ended up being far easier just turning the whole thing upside down and tracing the shape onto the foamboard, with extra fine-tuning to make it fit.

Ultimate heresy

I dared to believe I could improve upon the wisdom of the ancients. Once I’d figured out my roofing system, I applied that to the original STC hab and was a) surprised at how well it worked and b) felt a strange string of emotions as I changed the shape and silhuoette of something that has been in my life for almost 20 years.

And yet in all those years, I never once imagined what the roof would look like. This felt right.

The other roofs were similarly patterned. A second round of foamboard on top vaguely followed the flow of the walls and buttresses. This created natural empty spaces that I filled with plastic embroidery sheeting, or ‘granny mat’, a super-cheap material that works wonders as industrial flooring.

The roofs were given the same treatment of filler > sanding > PVA to smooth down the edges, and by the time that was complete they fit very snugly onto their relevant bottom halfs.

Some details I made sure to add was the long ammunition cylinder from the OG crates and tank traps sprue (still in production today!), as the original had a few of those crates stacked up at the far end, and I picked out a Warhammer Orc shield design to add to one of the buttresses like a weird gargoyle. Both buildings got ladders on them too, much like the original had.

The interior of the habs was covered in plasticard in an embossed treadplate design, and broken up with strips of flat plasticard to emulate the floor of the original hab.

Final details done, it was time to get messy.

True Grit

Everything got a healthy dollop of my homemade recipe for textured paint. Equal parts PVA glue, filler, modelling sand, and poster paint for colour. The colour isn’t particularly important but it is necessary – the darker, the better. As this mixture is getting poked into the deepest recesses of the model, it’s better to have it a similar colour to how you intend to have the whole model undercoated.

Spray paint inevitably misses some bits or fails to get into troublesome nooks, so having a dark neutral colour in the gaps as part of your pre-undercoating process helps cover up a whole heap of sins down the line.

Let us spray

Everything was given a couple of healthy coats of matt black undercoat, with a health checkup halfway through to ensure the paint wasn’t eating through the foamboard.

Satisfied my PVA trick was working, I gave them a coat of TTCombat’s laser cut brown spray. As a side note, as much as I like having access to affordable coloured sprays, they do have an annoyingly glossy finish.

A final zenithal coat of grey spray paint was applied, leaving plenty of brown in the cracks and crevices.

Changing rooms

Painting these big boys was a matter of drybrushing and washing. I didn’t want to do any detail work as I didn’t want to distract from the big vague shapes (and I’d spent enough time bevelling foamboard, I just wanted to get them done).

  1. The habs were given a drybrush of light grey to pick out the textures and edges
  2. Athonian Camoshade and Agrax Earthshade were sponged on, largely in corners were rot might gather, but also applied as drips of muck.
  3. The dirt was given a coat of brown paint, then lightly drybrushed. Agrax went over the top, with another even lighter drybrush to pick out the larger rocks.
  4. For metal parts, these were given a flat coat of Typhus Corrosion with a light drybrush of metal picking out key details
  5. The finishing touch was adding some posters I found on the internet (and some I’d made mself), printing them out and roughing them up a bit before attaching them with PVA.

They were simple to paint, with just a handful of colours applied in interesting ways. There’s not much else to add about that part, so on with the show!

The S-shaped one
The Town Hall one

I’m overjoyed with how well they came out. The only thing I’d change is perhaps go a little lighter on the weathering so they’re not so green, but otherwise I’m really happy with them!

I wasn’t sure it would be possible to create convincing replicas of an ancient kit with no instructions or design logic, but it was! I’m thrilled to bits with how they came out, and I can’t wait to put them on a tabletop and live out my sci-fi spaghetti western dreams.

Let’s just not talk about why they don’t have any doors, eh?

MOTB: “Face-off” Von Koppola

Finished product first!

2022 is the year of Inquisitor. It divides perfectly by 54 (don’t look that up, just trust me) and I’ve got a big summer campaign planned that can’t possibly be stopped by another pandemic.

In anticipation I’ve been tidying up some long-standing WIP projects and building some 54mm scenery, like last week’s warehouse racking. The first to get photographed was this fancy lad, Nikolai ‘Face-Off’ Von Koppola, leader of the Koppola Independents and personal bodyguard to House Dacien.

Two by two, hands of blue(tack)

I’d hazard a guess and say this project is upwards of 10 years old – at least pre-2017 – as we were still playing the 1995 version of Necromunda. I went through a phase of recreating my favourite Necromunda figures in 54mm, and one of the gangs I made was a kitbash of plastic Cadians and Empire pistoliers. (Yes, I was doing Ventrillian Nobles before it was cool, get off my back)

I had a tatty pair of Slick Devlan legs from an ebay job lot a million years ago and started sculpting on some poofy trouser sleeves. I had picked out a rifle from a collection of resin printed 54mm weapons I picked up a million years ago and decided he would have the classic Imperial Guard skull head concelead beneath a big floppy hat. His arms were vaguely bluetacked into place with a clear intention to finish him off sooner rather than later.

Then I left the project in a box for half a decade.

I’m determined to cut down or finish up old projects, so this chap would be a perfect addition to the upcoming campaign.

Lots of layers and lots of patience helped me finish this guy off. I would spend 30-60 minutes every few knights tinkering with a new pouch or arm sleeve, building up the layers of detail into a miniature that told an interesting story when you looked at it.

I like big hats and I cannot lie

I had also fallen headlong down the Warhammer Fantasy hole. I’d been a fan of the Total War: Warhammer series for a while and played a decent lick of Vermintide, but I’d dipped my toes in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay waters and completely and hopelessly fallen in. I had to work that into my 54mm pieces somehow, and this miniature seemed like an excellent way to exorcise these particular creative daemons.

Empire Militia by Karl Kopinski

Classic Warhammer Empire artwork, particularly by Karl Kopinski, often had them bristling with knives and trinkets and gubbins. This is quite tricky to do at 28mm, but at 54mm you get extra space to build in lots of little touches, and the sword-through-the-hat is an excellent motif I wanted to replicate in my own work.

I wish I could say there’s a neat trick or life hack for working with green stuff like this. Internet users hate him with this one neat trick: do everything really slowly and in really small batches so you don’t put your stupid fat fingers on stuff that’s already curing and ruin an evening’s work.

Big feathers are also an important part of the aesthetic. As I was assembling this half-robot man with flamboyant clothes, I was trying to figure out what kind of character he would be. He’s certainly not a sniper – he’d be spotted a mile off. He’s also missing a few chunks of his original body so he’s clearly been on the losing side of a scrap on a few occasions.

I figured him as a kind of duellist or a warrior from a Napoleonic gun-line – the kind where you stare your opponent straight in the eyes and never let them see you bleed. In no way inspired by a film that was on at the time of sculpting, “Face-off” was born.

Trooping the colours

I had already determined the colour scheme from a previous set of miniatures I had done for classic Necromunda, and then reappeared briefly as some Rogue Trader baddies. A quartered yellow/purple fabric pattern, with lots of flamboyant silvers and golds.

The golds were washed with Reikland Fleshshade to give them a vibrant orange hue which I was quite pleased with. I’m always conscious about mixing gold and silver in a colour scheme because it can look really tacky, but I think it works here as it’s very much the vibe I’m going for.

There’s a part of the Inquisitor Rulebook in the painting and modelling section where the colour schemes of the stock models are discussed. One part that always stuck in my head as an impressionable youth was Slick Devlan’s painter discussing their choice of paint for his gun handle.

It’s such a throwaway part of the miniature, but they talk about painting the handle of one of his pistols in a white ivory because he’s the kind of guy who customises and looks after his guns, even if his clothes are all tatty and horrible. I try to work that kind of sentiment into the colours I use, even if it’s small and insignificant.

(Naturally this means that all my gun-nut characters tend to have ivory grips on their weapons, but shh.)

One of the vestiges of the miniature’s previous life as an ebay job lot was a strange tattered piece of cloth wrapped around his waist. I originally attempted to remove it but realised it was covering up a horrifying remodelling job underneath and I didn’t fancy making more work for myself.

So the question became, why does this wealthy well-kept fighter keep a raggedy piece of clothing wrapped around him? I reasoned it would be of sentimental value to him, and perhaps impossible/impractival to repair, so I painted it up as an old regimental banner he would have fought under. Perhaps it was his proudest moment, or a crushing defeat he very nearly didn’t walk away from, and keeps it with him as a reminder.

As for weaponry, I decided this weapon would be a kind of long las with lots of single-fire hotshot packs. The image of him tearing off las rounds dangling from his belt and lining up a shot under fire was too good to pass up, so I gave him Quickload and a high Nerve characteristic to compliment that.

Usually I try to avoid handing out True Grit except to very special cases or it loses its sheen, but I figured this guy absolute warrants it. He’s not particularly hard to put down, but it’s incredibly difficult to make him stay down. Perhaps he’s the kind of ‘sporting’ fighter that lets his quarry take the first shot…

I’m very, very happy with how he came out. Not only has it been great to blow the dust off my sculpting muscles again, but completing a project I started almost a decade ago feels excellent.

I always feel I’m being harsh on myself for wanting to cut corners on larger scale minis, something I actively encourage myself to do on groups of smaller minis, but I think taking the time and seeing it through has paid off.

Fingers crossed I can get the next one done in under 5 years!

MOTB: Crates and racking

Finished product first!

A while ago I bought some wood in a Kickstarter and thought nothing of it. I had no idea what it would awaken in me.

Fast forward many moons and I have returned several times to MAD Gaming for their excellent modular wares. As part of one of those orders I picked up their rather excellent Warehouse Alfa 5 kit, which was ostensibly just a lot of shelves and boxes. Little did I realise just how many shelves and boxes I would get.

Wood you kindly

I’d been doing some terrain auditing during the Plague Years, and realised I didn’t have anything to represent interiors. The last Inquisitor game I played before The Long March of 2020 involved a warehouse raid, and I didn’t have anything particularly decent to bring that wonderful skirmish battlefield trope to life.

I was surprised at two things. Firstly, how little warehouse terrain is commercially available. You get the odd resin piece from Mantic or TTCombat, but trying to actually fill a warehouse with that stuff would be madness.

Secondly, how huge the MAD Gaming warehouse kit turned out to be. Not just in physical presence on the tabletop, but how well it scaled up to 54mm.

You can buy all the parts individually, but you save a bit of dosh with the bundle and pretty much get the crates thrown in. You also get lots of adorable little palettes, which I was a little disheartened to see that they didn’t fit any of the crates that came with the kit, so I tucked them away in the bits box for later use.

Crate expectations

Bad news first: building those crates was a very unpleasant experience. They look great when they’re done, but they were so fiddly to assemble. It wasn’t obvious from the instructions whether I had the wrong number of edge/feet pieces, or I was supposed to freestyle it.

The stacking crates (red-coloured ones in later pictures) were the main offenders. You build the six sides of the box, then you have to force the collars over each end, then secure them with the bars on top.

These have been cut to such small tolerances that you have to exhert an uncomfortable amount of force to squeeze them on, often bursting them in the process. I ended up having to shave down corners and edges just to make them fit. If I was to build them again I’d simply cut the collars in half and glue them in place.

Nice rack

A neat little touch is having the freedom to have the racking shelves at any height, and they come with lots of little L-shaped widgets to help you do that. You don’t get much leverage on them to push them into the holes as they’re barely 3mm across.

I made it much easier on my poor thumb by shaving down the pegs a bit so they slid in easier.

You’ll also want a couple of rubber bands to hold them in place while it all dries. You don’t want a wonky rack now, do you?

Mindless shelf indulgence

The good news now: Once built, it takes paint brilliantly and is probably some of my favourite terrain I own. Everything was tabletop-ready in an afternoon of rattlecans in the sunshine, with details and weathering taking another few hours.

The racking was given two coats of matt black spray, followed by a zenithal highlight of grey spray. A delicate blast of white spray was applied straight down the middle to highlight the shelves. A poor man’s airbrush!

Weathering was easy – a rough uneven pin wash of Agrax Earthshade in the corners, and Typhus Corrosion applied with a piece of torn off sponge. Done!

Did I mention they were big?

Fat stacks

Another trick that helps me with modular scenery is gluing smaller bits together into larger modular chunks, such as stacking crates or barrels. I’ve had some bad experiences with things being too modular, as you spend so much time setting up and tearing down a game board. Play with larger building blocks, and break it up with smaller pieces.

This is one example of a larger building block – five crates from the MAD set glued together with a smaller 40k plastic crate on top for garnish.

These were painted in much the same way as the shelves, but with block colours painted in before the Typhus Corrosion stage. A light flesh colour was used for the numbers, and the crates were Castellan Green, Nuln wash, then drybrushed with Straken Green.

The red crates were blasted with red spray (the white zone is for loading and unloading only), with a fiddly lot of masking tape applied for the hazard stripes and sponging on the yellow. It turned out not to be worth the bother in the end, as I needed to do so much cleanup with a brush that I may as well have brushed it on in the first place.

Grouping them into stacks makes it easy to drop them into the tabletop to create interesting shapes of cover, or pile them together into a megastack without worrying about stability if models decide to go for a climb.

Show me your wares

I was also careful assemble the shelves at different heights to accomodate different stacks of crates. Being able to pop in a stack makes the shelf look busy and populated, without having to do any of the actual menial work of stacking a shelf!

They look great combined combined with the racking, and I’ve got tonnes of other scatter that would look great on these shelves too.

If you leave enough loose crates spare, you can also create a pleasing mess when players inevitably knock them over (accidentally or purposefully).

Despite being unreasonably fiddly to assemble, the finished products are also very durable and stack perfectly inside standard-sized boxes (A4, A3 etc). They can be stored without packing with bubblewrap too, so you can fit a big battlefield in a small container.

racking my head for more puns

Despite my frustrations with assembly, I would still unreservedly recommend this kit. For Necromunda and other RPG games, I can see these crates and shelves being used as scatter to add flavour. Just be sure to trim down some of the close-fitting parts to save yourself lots of finger pain.

For Inquisitor players however, I can’t recommend how much you need these things in your life. These should be a must-have for anyone’s 54mm collection. The scale is perfect – I’d argue more suitable to 54mm than the smaller 28-32mm counterparts. Warehouses and hangar bays are the inevitable battleground for any investigation, so do yourself a favour and get yourself the best rack money can buy.

MOTB: Archmagos Lingus Quinne

Finished product first!

It is finally complete! After 9000 years, I have finally finished my latest Inquistor warband. Leader of the gang Archmagos Lingus Quinne finally stands alongside his best buds previously featured on this site, including Genetor Vacillus, Arco-flagellant X206 and a Zeta-Phi pattern speciment recovery servitor.

Quinne is a radical Magos Biologis with a terrifying amount of power, both physical and political. He has a long and productive history with his Biologis peers, and his resume is littered with redacted periods from his time in the Inquisition. He knows exactly how to keep things above board and off books, making sure his science toes the line between “far enough” and “too far”.

That is, until he discovered a Yu’Vath artifact.

Assembling the magos

Building radical Adeptus Mechanicus minis is always fun, and Lingus Quinne was no exception. The biggest difficulty I actually had was narrowing my options down – I just had too many wacky concepts and weird weapon options to choose from.

Lingus Quinne started life as a different model entirely, and over years of gaming slowly graduated from Inquisitorial retinue member to dangerous radical antagonist. He needed a glow-up.

I had always been enamoured with the classic metal Navigator, and many years ago I bluetacked Hieronomus Tezla’s chain axe to the empty arm socked and thought “Oh yeah, you’ll be an AdMech one day”. He was put back in the box and immediately forgotten about until this project came about.

He wasn’t designed as a player character originally – him and the gang were supposed to be the NPC villains behind the Gorgon Crystals campaign that was sadly abandoned during the first lockdown. As a result I had very little intention of making him fair or balanced to fight against – he was a final boss of sorts, able to take on entire warbands by himself!

Freed from the shackles of even-handedness, my mind wandered to radical places. What if he was also psychic?

The narrative of the campaign centred around a bunch of weird xenos artifacts infused with warp energy, and at the centre of the web was a radical Magos Biologis who had found the keystone that gave him incredible power (with definitely no downsides, obviously). I originally tried to model him telekinetically manipulating the floor hexes around him, creating a barrier or shield, but I wasn’t happy with how it looked.

Using Scarn’s spooky mechanical hand, I flipped it over from ‘jedi mind trick’ to ‘holding a macguffin’, which suited the stoic pose of the Navigator mini far more. With the end snipped off a Dark Eldar heavy weapon to pose as the weird crystal and some thin wire as sparking energy, I knew I was onto a winner. I was just dreading painting it…

The power axe came from the 40k Techpriets Dominus figure, surprisingly well scaled for one of the taller 54mm figures. The awkward angle of the elbow join added an extra uncomfortable element, like there was an extra elbow hidden up his sleeve, or hinting at a non-human form beneath the robes.

The base was made from a now-discontinued TTCombat set – a bunch of laser cut hexagons that I stacked up to create a facsimile of stairs. I imagined his reveal being very Dracula-esque – walking purposefully down an elaborate set of steps, cloak billowing behind him, monologuing about foolish mortals daring to tresspass on his domain.

As with the rest of the gang, his power pack and mechadendrites came from Talos kits. It ties him in aesthetically to the other members of his retinue, and gives him a imposing presence on the tabletop. This fella doesn’t need to hide behind cover, and he knows it.

With the easy part done, it was on to the daunting task of colouring him in.

50 shades of Lahmian Medium

This was a daunting miniature to paint. There were lots of flat surfaces that would benefit from some freehand designs, and two separate parts of the mini that I wanted to try my hand at Object Source Lighting (OSL) on. I’ve done it in the past on smaller test figures, but never on something so large (or as important!).

Despite it being the last thing I did on the model, I want to talk about it first. The OSL was hard. After dropping a dozen or so hours into painting this figure, I was about to spend the same amount again repainting it in a different colour.

My first attempt was so poor I wanted to re-prime the whole model, I didn’t know how I was going to recover it. I watched a lot of youtube tutorials before bringing myself back to have another crack at it.

What I learned? Firstly, watch some damn tutorials. Second to that, patience. When people who do this often say it takes a million thinned layers, they’re not joking. Don’t faff about with water, get some proper blending medium too – Lahmian Medium is what I used, but shop around for your favourite.

Finally, and this was the bit I tripped up on, get your colours right. There are painting tutorials of people much smarter than me who can explain colour theory and lighting far better than I can, but I’ll do my best.

I originally tried to have a mid-range purple and thinly blend that over the existing colours, and highlight up by blending in white. That looked disastrous because I was missing other hues to give it proper depth.

When I started using other purples and pinks, lining them up in rough order of shade, and blending those on top of each other, the results were striking. The recesses were a dark bluey-purple, the mid tones were a warm light red, and close to the origin was electric pink. Pure white was only ever used on the object itself.

And by gum, I think I pulled it off! I made a bunch of mistakes on it, and doing it again I would be more bold with my darker tones, but given how little I’d done before and the stakes involved in getting it wrong, I’m very happy with it.

The first OSL on the model was actually these plasma coils, where I got my eye in for how to thin down colours. I borrowed from this tutorial on plasma glow, which gave me the confidence to try it at a much bigger scale.

Turns out it’s much easier to hide mistakes on a small scale!

Once I got into it and understood what I was supposed to be doing, I massively enjoyed it. I’ve been eying up future minis to experiment on too, so that must be a positive!

The robes colours were also problematic. I had a colour palette from previous retinue members to copy, but annoyingly I used the same colour scheme for armour on the servitors as I did for the robes on the Magos, and Quinne was the only one of the four who had both robes and armour in any real quantity.

With all his layered clothing and armour, I made several attempts at a coherent scheme before I settled with the red/black/white combination. Cog teeth patterns were mandatory, of course.

Deciding what to put on the cloak was fun, but required several re-works too. I definitely wanted the Genetors symbol on there – a stylised double helix representing his background in DNA meddling research. Given his new-found interest in Yu’Vath artifacts, I toyed with the idea of alchemical symbols too.

He’d essentially found a Philosopher’s Stone and could transmute substances previously thought impossible by science. Symbols having two meanings was a nice touch – Iron and Mars having the same symbol (♂) seemed like an obvious choice, and the symbol of Mercury, Spirit and Fusibility (☿) was a nice representation of his new hobby.

Unfortunately when I put them together, he looked like a gendered bathroom sign.

Back to the drawing board! I decided I just wanted one symbol in a cog, perhaps a new sub-faction of Mechanicus he had founded, and found the Philosophers Sulpher symbol (🜎) particularly intriguing. It represented the ultimate ‘spiritual goal’ of alchemy – the perfect marriage of spirit (mercury) and soul (sulfur). Something he’s attempting to do with his psychic awakening from the Yu’Vath artifact perhaps?

It was hocus-pocus enough to be interesting, and I could potentially use it as a plot hook for later down the line. For now though, it’s a cool symbol that toes the line of heresy. Perfect!

The base was painted as the others were – edge highlighted with dark to light greens, then given several thin layers of gloss varnish to give it that xenos feel to it.

And he was finished! The only thing remaining was to put him with the others and see how they looked as a warband.

Pretty bloody excellent I think!

I’m very happy with how he came out. I must have sunk close to 30 hours into him overall, including research and repainting, but it was worth it. Inquisitor minis deserve that level of attention and patience, and I’d like to think the results speak for themselves.

Now I just need to come up with character sheets for them…

MOTB: Necron obelisks

Finished product first!

As part of a recent scenery purchase from a local terrain company, I also snagged some obelisks from Wargame Model Mods’ weird and wonderful Necrotech range. I’d been meaning to do some proper weird alien terrain as a palette cleanser from all the underhive grime I’d been building, and these looked just the ticket.

Getting more for your money

I wanted enough to reasonably scatter across a 6×4 board, and one pack of Obelisk blocks would give me plenty to litter the tabletop with. They arrived in a series of neat little bundles, already punched out.

They fit together very pleasingly, and I was surprised at how big they were. I didn’t get much of a sense of scale from the original images, and even the smaller blocks were quite imposing against a 28mm guardsman.

I hadn’t read the description properly and didn’t realise that half the panels had no detail on them – presumably so you could stick them together into a mega-block like the one advertised.

I wasn’t going to do that with this set (although I may do one in future), I wanted as many individual blocks as possible to have as much variation on the tabletop, including some half-buried in the ground.

I’d need to come up with some clever trick to detail the plain panels I had.

The kit came with an assortment of smaller flat spacers for gluing the obelisks together into a mega-lith, but for me they would be extra panels to fill out the flat surfaces.

By taking two detailed panels and cutting them up, I could arrange those cut out pieces across four plain panels. With some help from some spacers, I now have four detailed panels!

As an absolute mad lad I also own an MDF bits box, filled with the weird inserts and offcuts from MDF sprues that I use for detailing and greebling. They came in perfectly handy for this task.

I picked out a collection of necron-looking bits that would give me some nice clean edges to show up the colour scheme I was planning.

All the main blocks were assembled first to get an idea of how much flat space I needed to cover. And then a terrible thought struck me. What if I could make one block… into two?

Several intense hacking minutes later and I’d made four bits of scatter out of two obelisks. I wanted them to look sunk in the sand, either abandoned or just being unearthed.

I stuck them to some round bases and smeared a load of pre-mixed filler around the join to look like a buildup of sand.

Some of them got extra smaller blocks added on top to imitate the obelisks at different stages of decay. It was also at this point that it really hit home how big all of these were going to be, and how tricky they would be to paint…

And that was all of them assembled! A thoroughly enjoyable kit to build and very modular, especially if you’re a hobby sadist like myself who likes to squeeze more content out of their kits.

The only thing I’d like to see moving foward is the option to purchase either/or when it comes to the non-detailed plates. Perhaps an option to upgrade/replace to fully detailed plates so you can build 16 obelisks out of the box, as currently you can only “technically” build 8 fully detailed obelisks, with the other 8 being blank.

Great if you want to build a chunky obelisk with only a handful of outward facing sides, but a fully detailed plate option would be ideal!

Absolute tool

Every artist has their “aha” moment when it comes to new tools. Mine came during this project. Specifically, “Aha, I should have bought an airbrush (and pracised with it) a year ago, because holy dicks this would have been a breeze”.

Instead, I gave myself RSI and several grumpy weeks of not being able to paint anything. Note to future self – when your wrist starts to hurt – STOP PAINTING.

Lines upon lines upon lines

I am so glad I persisted however – the overall effect is exactly what I’d hoped. I must have spent at least an evening on each block, repeating the same recipe over and over. Extremely satisfying to paint, so much so that I found it easy to get carried away into the wee hours and cramp my wrist…

  1. Generous undercoat in matt black, two or three coats in some places. MDF is thirsty for paint, so I did a few passes (letting it dry in between) to make sure it was fully saturated.
  2. Thicc line of Caliban Green
  3. Thin line of Warpstone Glow
  4. Tickle the corners and fill the shapes with Scorpion Green.

The last paint is OOP, but moot green didn’t cut it. I wanted an acidic, almost fluro yellow/green for the final stage to give it a proper glow.

The bases were textured paint, then undercoated with Zandri Dust and drybrushed with Bleached Bone, topped with cheeky grass tufts.

The colours for the base were decided before I bought the battlemat, and given they’ll most likely be deployed against this background, I’m tempted to go back over the bases and darken them down a bit to match. A project for another time, I think!

Megalith

I mentioned previously about making a huge obelisk rather than multiple smaller ones, and it’s something I’m genuinely considering for the future. For now, my existing kits can be bundled together fairly convincingly to create weird looking structures.

And, naturally, it works great at 54mm scale. Perfect for Inquisitor!

Standing Stone-Vation

Not much else to say on the painting – simple scheme, tedious to apply, but looks ace when it’s done. I bet it would have been so flippin’ easy to do with an airbrush too. Oh well, I know for next time!

On with the scale shots.

Wrapping up

What a wonderful little kit this is! Aside from some self-inflicted enthusiasm injuries, these have been a joy to build and paint. They’re ideal for all the games I play – Necromunda, Inquisitor, a few TTRPGs like Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader or Wrath and Glory, and they’re super convenient to store.

I’ve already got my eye set on some more obelisks for future projects, and I’ve got a large necron building from the same range that needs photographing, so watch this space!

I picked all these up from Wargaming Model Mods for under £20, so go toss come coins to a small independent business.

Let’s hear it for the humble obelisk!