Over the last few months I’ve been assembling some rusty senpais in the form of the Ash Garrison Enforcers of Syracuse Magna. Brutal, corrupt and underfunded, the Ash Garrison attracts only the worst of the populace to help tread the rest into the rain-slick cobblestones of Magna’s streets.
Painting the masses
Assembling these guys was equal parts fun and complicated, with little regard for how they would look when coloured. I only had one colour requirement from their description in-game, they needed dark green vulcanised cloaks to protect them from the relentless drizzle and acid rain showers of Syracuse Magna. The rest I would have to make up on the spot. Great.
They were all undercoated black, which had the immediate benefit of pulling all the incoherent pieces together into one uniform whole. They were starting to look like a unit!
The immediate downside to this was the daunting prospect of adding colours to the test models to see what would work. Green cloaks were a given, but what about the rest?
I am quite taken with the Death Korps of Krieg aesthetic, as they spend a lot of their time around mud and rain, so I was going to use lots of neutral earthy tones for the clothes. I decided to try something a bit different for the armour and weapons and see if I could pull off a kind of rusty metal look.
Base coats were added to the test models – a dark brassy metallic colour would form the base for the equipment – normally I’d go for a steel silver, but I wanted to go Full Grubby this time.
A nice grimy grey was applied to the overcoat, the cloaks blocked in with dark green, and the details were picked out with variant browns and lighter greys.
As the majority of the big areas dried, I splashed on a healthy amount of black wash to dull the colours even more (and do like 90% of the shading work for me because I’m a lazy painter).
It was during this blocking and washing stage (read: literally watching paint dry) that I started to experiment with a rust technique.
I’ve used this technique for verdigris/patina on bronze before and the process was fun and straightforward, if a long-winded process. I know you can get fancy pigment paints and stuff these days, but I have a perfectly serviceable orange paint and plenty of water so let’s do this.
The process involved getting some really, really watered down orange paint (little more than paint-flavoured water) and blobbing it on willy-nilly across the exposed parts of dark metal.
It would seep into crevices and leave weird watermarks, but the more layers I did the more this began to turn into a cool rust effect. After the 5th-ish layer of orange, I did another few layers of a lighter orange, then one final layer of pale flesh colour in the centre of the worst-affected areas.
Fantastically, it was beginning to look like something I hadn’t quite anticipated – rust from water damage rather than just age. My damp senpai were turning into rusty senpai!
The final touch was to roughly pick out edges with a silver paint to give it some wear and tear. Holy smokes, what a difference that made. The rougher and quicker I applied the edge highlights, the more realistic it seemed and the better it looked on the tabletop.
With the majority of the models’ feature colours finished, it was on to the tidy up. The greys were highlighted with their original base colours again to keep the neutral tones, the gloves were given a little extra highlight to help pick out the fingers. Masks were highlighted up to white with a red visor to give them a terrifying appearance under their big metal hats.
I had left the shock mauls til last, as I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted them to look. Perhaps it was time to try my hand at some origin source lighting?
OSL – Positively shocking
I avoid dabbling with origin source lighting (OSL) because a) it’s always an afterthought and b) painting new colours over pain(t)staking highlights gives me terror chills like no other.
I wanted the shock mauls to look zappy, but I wasn’t enthused about doing the usual lightning blue that’s associated with shock mauls, but not did I like repeating the red from the visor.
Sticking with the grimy colour scheme I opted for a poisonous shade of green, which when highlighted up had this wonderful effect of making it look pale and sickly. You can almost imagine them flickering and sparking like a faulty bug zapper in a meat shop.
I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I started by applying some very thin layers of green to anything the light might get cast on, and slowly highlighting up to lighter shades of green on more prominent surfaces, such as the rim of the hat and edges of the armour.
I was genuinely surprised by how well it came out! As an effect, I’m definitely going to be trying it again in the future. I’m comfortable with the technical side of it now, I just need to get better at understanding how light falls on strange shapes and applying more paint to those areas. I’d say the biggest problem with the OSL on these guys is that I didn’t do enough of it!
The finished product
The final stages were detailing the bases. I’d learned a lot about water effects from my time with the Enforcers’ nemeses, the Undertow – I needed lots of thin layers of water effect, otherwise you end up with weird air bubbles and pockets of cloudy water.
A billion layers of water effect later (and I’m not 100% happy with it but sod it), the rusty senpai were finished.
As mentioned in the conversion article, these guys were split into two groups – Remedials and Disciplinaries, depending on how severe a response is required from whatever uppity nonsense the local populace are kicking off with that day.
The Disciplinaries are the first responders, armed with sizzling shock mauls and flashbangs, their job is to brutally repress any kind of sedition with shock and awe and to round up anyone who might be persuaded to part with some important intel on enemy movements.
They’re lead by a member of the rightly-feared Mandato – the terrifying secret police and interrogators for the Shogun that excel in rooting out sedition and extracting information from those slow enough to be caught by the Disciplinary snatch squads.
The rest of the troopers make up the second wave of Ash Garrison – the Remedials. If/when the Disciplinaries can’t scare the populace into submission, the Remedials are rolled out to reduce the population to a more manageable size.
These guys will only be seen if when things escalate into a full-blown insurrection, and Enforcers become less fussed about taking anyone alive.
They also come with exciting grenade launcher options for frag, gas or photon flash flavours.
A few more of the damp baes;
All in all I’m preeeetty chuffed with how they’ve all come out. I’m not sure I could done them better if I’d tried, and the fact I’m aching to make another dozen of these guys is a great indicator that I really shouldn’t. They will serve their purposes well in the sodden, rotting alleyways of Syracuse Magna in our upcoming campaign.
Speaking of sodden, rotting alleyways, watch this space…
We are in Haimm, an ill-omened system on the edge of civilised space, far out to the galactic west of Holy Terra. Twin white suns blaze fiercely here, their titanic gravity wells doing battle over the shattered bones of celestial bodies from a bygone era.
You have been travelling for several months from another part of the galaxy to seek fortune and glory among the Nomad Stars, as part of the remit of your newly-inherited Warrant of Trade.
Captain Tassa Zacherie Aphesius Orthesian has gathered a crew over 20-thousand strong to pilot the flagship of the Orthesian Dynasty – the Unbroken Resolve – and a staff of five advisors, counselors and warriors to act as the Dynasty’s eyes, ears and fists. (See here for the full run-down of characters)
Your journey has been long, and although no warp jump could ever be considered simple, it has been relatively placid compared to the adventures that lie ahead.
Upon arriving in the system, your deck crew have set a course for the only inhabited body and safe harbour to resupply before venturing forth: Port Impetus.
You barely have time to warm up the plasma drive for several days of inter-system travel when a Vox Officer informs you of an incoming message, encrypted in your dynasty’s personal cypher. You hear an old man’s voice, cracked with age:
”My Lord, I am Aubrey Luther. You do not know me, but I have been waiting a long time for a member of your family to return. I bear a message and a gift from your Great Grandfather, Lord-Admiral Thaler Orthesian. I would meet with you as soon as possible in the Court of the Dead, the biggest market square in Port Impetus, at the coordinates encrypted within this message. It is a matter, I assure you, that promises great glory.”
Introducing the setting and characters
One of the trickiest parts of starting a new game is setting the tone for the universe and introducing the key elements (in this case, the characters and their roles on the ship) in as little effort on the players’ behalf as possible.
I’ve never been a huge fan of ‘you meet in a bar, introduce yourselves’, as although that’s handy for getting a mental image of your co-players, it’s mostly just reading the descriptions off you character sheet. A combination of stage fright and unfamiliarity with the game world can make this an unsatisfactory introduction for new and experienced players alike.
Instead of asking players to react to each other, I wanted to establish their roles as head honchos on a ship of thousands of faceless goons by asking them to react to ‘typical’ scenarios they might find aboard their ship. They would be unique to each character, reinforcing that character’s role aboard the Unbroken Resolve and help the players flesh out their personalities by providing them with mini crises.
Captain: On top of your regular Captainly duties, you are presented with a report of goings-on that are worthy of your attention. You cannot be everywhere at once so these have been delegated to your senior officers, but you do have enough time between your important administrative duties to oversee and assist up to two out of the five reports if you deem it necessary.
The Captain was given a handout of what the other players would be up to, and he could choose any two to assist. I wanted to reinforce the idea that the Captain was a powerful character that can pretty much do anything, but the challenge is in prioritising what you should be doing. He ended up assisting the Astropath and the Arch Militant, with varying degrees of success…
Voidmaster Zilla: The course charted by your deck officers is the safest but not necessarily the quickest. There are a few errant gravity wells of larger celestial shards between you and Port Impetus that could be used to slingshot you to your destination at a much greater speed, but a much greater risk.
Pilot+Manoeuvrability test, if failed, it would have done 1 Damage to the ship plus 1 per Degree of Failure (minus armour). As it was passed, the travel time to Port Impetus was reduced by 1 day and the senior officers got a temporary +5 boost to any interaction tests on Port Impetus as rumours of their daring approach reached the locals.
Explorator Freeman: The Unbroken Resolve is a resolute beast, not coyed by the superstitions of men or the predictable rotations of celestial matter around a binary system. She has many hidden reserves of strength, and in this relatively safe system, it would be a radiant display of her machine spirit’s strength to increase cruising speed and burn brightly through the heavens.
A fairly standard intro for the Techpriest of the group. They needed to pass a Tech Use test to decrease travel time by half a day and had the added bonus of increasing the ship’s morale by 1.
Missionary Lyoness:Haimm is an ill-omened place, spoken of by voidsmen in hushed whispers across the sector. Something about the light from two suns that turns folks mad. These whispers are beginning to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies, and many crewmen are missing their daily prayers and break from their work schedules. They need a firm voice and presence to get them back in line and to reaffirm their faith in the Dynasty and the Emperor.
When presented with an opportunity to bolster the crew’s morale and steel them against the dark, the Missionary instead instructed her staff to round up a hundred of the most recalcitrant crew and dragged them into the chapel, calling an emergency sermon for the remainder of the voidsmen not on duty.
After spitting fire at her sermon and rallying the hearts and minds of those present, she flushed half of them out into space. This very quickly established a precedent of zero-tolerance attitudes to even the slightest whiff of insubordination.
Arch-militant Von Gun: A request for weapons-free has been submitted by both Battery Lords of the Prow and Dorsal macrocannon decks. It is no secret that they are in direct competition with one another for fastest reload and truest aim, and you suspect they are looking for the opportunity to blow off some steam after so many months of travel. The Dynasty’s macrocannon shells do not grow on trees, and they should be shown by example or by force that the pecking order exists for a reason.
What was intended to be a simple Intimidate test or playful shooting competition between the Arch-Militant and his subordinates turned into a pretty harrowing scene. The Arch-Militant wasted no time in immediately ordering both Battery Lords to be nailed to the macrocannon shells they wanted to use for target practice and were blasted out into space, accompanied by a dramatic speech from the Captain about getting ideas above one’s station.
Two terrified apprentices were promoted to Battery Lords in their masters’ absence, let’s hope that doesn’t come back to bite them…
Astropath Gil:The Astropath Transcendent receives an emergency vox broadcast on a fine-band frequency. You are requested ASAP to the junior Astropath’s chambers. As you enter you recognise the shapes of your four juniors in a huddle around the Astropathic organ in the centre of the chamber, clearly in distress. They are holding one of their number in their arms, fear erupting from their soul and madness babbling from their lips. The other three sense you entering, and bow their heads in deference. They quickly explain that during her shift as receiver, she tried to push her mind’s eye too far into the Great Warp Storms to see what lay beyond. She will be dead within minutes, but perhaps there is something that a more powerful, dutiful Astropath may glean from her prying before she succumbs to insanity..
This was an opportunity to use some of the Astropath’s extra-curricular abilities, and encouraging the use of telepathy (specifically the Mind Probe power) to glean information from people you might not get access to otherwise.
After I slightly cocked up the rules for Mind Probe, the Astropath managed to squeeze every bit of cryptic fortelling out of the dying junior;
The journey through the Throat is surprisingly swift but utterly perilous should you stray from the path
Wolves lurk in the rest stops, awaiting wandering prey
Beyond the throat lies a flickering eye, that watches over the answers you seek
Underneath the flickering eye lies a maze of light and a chamber of stars
It is a map in the heavens to a veil of ice and a beast with a broken back
I’m sure none of that will come back to haunt him.
Perched on the very southern tip of the Onus Region, Port Impetus stands as the gateway to the Nomad Stars and the vast untamed void beyond.
This is a place of desperate hopes and vain dreams. Port Impetus teems with a transitory population of traders, spies, merchant factors, pilgrims and missionaries amongst which move Administratum functionaries and minions of the mechanicus, all feeding on the riches that flow from the realms beyond the warp storms in the Nomad Stars. This is the last place the Imperium resides, the last bastion of mankind where the rule of the Golden Throne keeps the horror and possibility of the unknown at bay..
As the crew gather their things, I put heavy emphasis on the official, protocol welcomes they receive from all manner of functionaries, authorities and peers. This is the last civilised place they will see for a very long time, and I wanted to make the contrast with their first stop in the Nomad Stars a particularly jarring one.
They make no bones about heading out to meet Luther, the Missionary riding a sedan chair carried by oiled servants. On the front of her chair is the relic she gained as part of her Origin Path, something that the faithful citizenry of Port Impetus take immediate interest in and swarm her trying to receive her blessing and touch the relic.
They meet up with Luther, a knackered old servant of the Dynasty who has been waiting almost a century in Port Impetus for another Orthesian family member to arrive so he can fulfil his duty. He regales them with his exposition dump and tantalises them with the tale of the Righteous Remit.
The riddle of the Righteous Remit
”In my youth I served as a deck officer aboard The Emperor’s Testament, a vessel belonging to Commander Karlorn and part of your great-grandfather’s fleet. During one terrible expedition we were caught in a violent warp storm and blown far off course.
”After we came to rest in a strange and uncharted system the ship’s astropath heard a faint message – a cry for salvation from a lost Imperial vessel.”
”At first we believed it was an old message (an echo in the warp, the Astropath called it), hundreds if not thousands of years old.”
”When we examined it, we discovered just what we had stumbled onto – an astropathic marker from the fabled treasure ship The Rightful Remit”
”The Rightful Remit is an ancient treasure ship long ago swallowed by the shifting tides of the warp, a ship reputed to hold the entire wealth of a plundered world.”
”The story goes that long ago, an Imperial warlord discovered an ancient colony of man that had fallen to heretical worship and it was put to the sword, sweeping away a thousand years of civilisation in three days of fire and blood.”
”When the killing was done and the corpse counters began gathering up the detritus of genocide, the warlord marvelled at the riches he had won.”
”He did not trust his fellow crusaders to carry it away, so he set about filling his flagship, the Rightful Remit, from stern to prow. He tore out gun decks and launch bays, marooned thousands of his crew and stripped away the vessel’s innards until she was bursting with plunder. The warlord then vanished into the warp and from the pages of history.
”Free-traders, adventurers and imperial servants have all tried to find its resting place to no success, until Commander Karlorn and The Emperor’s Testament stumbled upon it by pure chance.
”Karlorn chose not to pursue it there and then due to the damage sustained from the storm, but made a note of its location so he could return when his ship was at full strength. We returned to Port Impetus and left me here with the map for safekeeping while he went to find your great grandfather. He never returned.
“For a hundred years I’ve been keeping this memolith, waiting for one of the dynasty to return so I can fulfil my duty”
He hands them the plot macguffin memolith, but before they can pocket it, a cyber-hawk swoops down from the rafters above and knocks it into the crowd. Gunshots erupt around them, followed by a voice shouting “Stop them! Grab that memolith!”
A botched ambush
Roll for initiative! It was time to get our beaks wet with some fisticuffs. I’m a huge proponent of combat as early into a new game session as possible. It makes for good in medias res and helps players work out very quickly what their characters are good at.
The board was set up with lots of lovely laser-cut mdf scenery from TTcombat, arranged roughly to look like a busy market. The players were in the centre while the antagonist and her armsmen body guards dressed in fancy attire.
The fight served its purpose – to establish a hierarchy of combat prowess in relation to one another and introduce the pleasingly crunchy combat rules for Rogue Trader. It’s all well and good for your character sheet to have a pair of bolt pistols written on it, but with no previous knowledge of the universe or your place within it, it can be hard to grasp its importance.
When all your teammates are struggling to pin down opponents, placing shots between cover or grappling with foes in close combat, it’s easy see where your strengths lie when you can comfortably explode at least one enemy head per turn with your hand-held rapid fire rocket launcher pistols.
The combat went in our crew’s favour, despite the Captain sustaining a dangerous amount of damage from a fluffed Displacer Field check. The armsmen were only trying to pin down the players with grenades and suppressing fire so they could try and grab the memolith, which was working until the players figured out their plan and concentrated fire on anyone trying to dash for the memolith lying on the ground.
We were playing in a crowded market area, so there was an additional -30 imposed to any shooting actions for the first few rounds as the press of panicking bodies was so thick. I’d already decided that grievous misses would result in a poor bystander biting a bullet instead, mostly just a narrative device to help reinforce the reasons for the penalties.
What I hadn’t counted on was the Captain and the Astropath blasting away into the crowd with plasma pistols trying to get the foe that was scrabbling for the memolith on the floor. The half-incinerated bodies of “near misses” kept piling up. The port authorities weren’t impressed.
A brush with the law
The Boys in Blue arrived, cracking skulls with their shock mauls and ‘inviting’ the Rogue Trader and his crew to accompany them to see the Marshall. As a Rogue Trader, your fancy bit of paper works as a Get Out Of Jail Free card for most ‘minor’ crimes like manslaughter and destruction of property.
The slap on the wrist from the Precinct Marshall amounted to; “I could prosecute you, but that would involve a lot of paperwork on both our counts, so could you just bugger off and not do it again, ta.” Again, I wanted to enforce the rule of Imperial Law versus non-Imperial space (when we get there).
They also managed to learn the name of their attackers; the armsmen were under the employ of a Rogue Trader called Hadarak Fel – another reason the Marshall was keen not to get involved. Two Rogue Traders actively brawling on Imperial soil is an administrative nightmare.
So our gang of scallywags had a quest, a fight, a rival and adventure in their hearts and were ready cast off and fly out into the heavens.
One last thing before they went though – our resident quadruped techpriest decided to skitter away as everyone was boarding and find a quiet harbour console somewhere. It was being used, but he politely unplugged the poor servitor so he could engage HACKER MODE.
After a trawl through the files of ships at berth, he found a frigate called the Fel Hand. Without any other information available he couldn’t know for sure, but a Rogue Trader is definitely the kind of person who would call a ship a pun of his own name. With some techno-wizardry he changed the ship’s time slot for tomorrow, which would would have a knock-on effect on a whole bunch of logistics and delay the Fel Hand’s departure by several days. There are no rivalries like petty rivalries, eh?
And with that, the crew of the Unbroken Resolve sailed out into the inky void, ready to stare down the Throat and into the adventures that lay beyond.
A rare Inquisitor update for this week’s MOTB; Conan “The Unkillable” – an ex-hive ganger turned mercenary and bodyguard for powerful people the Inquisition have interests in.
Conan started out life as most of my projects do – a pile of parts loosely assembled because I liked the pose, flow or combination, and then left in a tray or bits box for several orbits of the sun because it was missing the Final Piece that brought the model together.
A while ago I began porting some scum and villainy over from our Necromunda, Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader sessions – there are plenty of colourful, interesting gangs and organisations that we play with at 28mm, so why not try and bring them to 54mm?
TJ Razor was the first, a member of the Pursers Grim, and then I wanted to bring over a member of the notorious Red Hand Gang – a ubiquitous Orlock gang that originated in our games of Necromunda and appeared in Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader ever since as the go-to miscreants.
The Red Hand Gang tattoo their left hand red as part of their initiation, and get subsequent stripes up their arm for every confirmed kill. This was the only brief – the character needed a red hand.
I like my bangsticks in Inquisitor, and with the creation of the Revised Armoury a few years back by the Inquisitor Community, they became a lot more varied and a LOT more deadly. I wanted to experiment with a character that ‘just’ had a rifle of some kind – I needed more regular mooks, but with a little suttin’ suttin’ that sets them apart from the regular rank and file.
The weapon came from a burst of inspiration when trawling the Anvil Industries website for one of any dozen other projects and found the perfect rifle. I already knew the scale would work fine from previous experiments with Anvil’s line of space marine Exo-Lord scale weapons, and all the spare parts would make choosing the right gun for the job much easier. I know from experience that a dedicated sniper character in Inquisitor is boring to play both with and against, so although this guy was going to be a ranged support character, he was going to have a little bite to him with some fully automatic shootybangs.
Putting him together was simple enough – he is pretty much a straight lift of the Talon Hive Ganger expansion with different legs. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything else interesting to stick to the model except a backup pistol, he didn’t look right travelling heavy. I reasoned he’s got some brass knuckles in a pocket somewhere that would do in a pinch.
I knew from the get-go I wanted my 54mm gangers to be a league apart from their 28mm brethren, each having a certain trait that helps them play with the Big Boys. I wanted to have a ganger with the Regeneration trait, and after watching THAT scene from Luke Cage, I knew what had to be done. The pin vice came out and holes were drilled everywhere, touched up with some putty to make them look like bullet holes.
When it came to painting, I already had the colour scheme pretty set in my head – I had over a dozen members of the Red Hand Gang to fall back on with khaki green trousers and dark grey clothes – lots of lovely neutral tones to help offset the gang colours and make those red hands really pop.
For a skin tone I wanted a very pasty colour – for someone who spends their entire life away from the sun, they would never have developed much of a tan. I had also re-watched one of the Riddick films recently, and with the goggles Conan was wearing, I could really resist going one step further.
Good grief I hate painting white. This was doubly awful because I have the super-thick foundation white from Games Workshop, which is excellent when you want to paint over a dark colour (which is basically always) but the worst thing when you want to do a bunch of really really thin layers.
I called it quits after maybe the 20th or so watered-down layer of white – it wasn’t going to get any better than it was. I wasn’t a fan of the really chalky texture the skin had picked up by this point, but you’d have to drag me to my table kicking and screaming if you wanted me to strip him and do it again. F that N.
The base was finished off in much the same way as TJ – assembled from bits of weird sci-fi scrap from the rather excellent Chemical Plant box set and painted in drab colours to look like a forgotten section of space station deep in the bowels of Mercy.
And that was him finished! All that was needed was to draft up a character sheet for him including his heavy caliber autogun, regeneration and discomfort in bright lights and Conan the Unkillable was ready to hit the tabletop.
Welcome to the Orthesian Herald, a new segment on Dreadquill dedicated to a brand new Rogue Trader group sailing under the banner of the Orthesian Dynasty. The games are played fairly frequently, and these articles are going to debrief and dissect after each session – sharing some highs, lows, learning points and handouts produced for the game.
This will be the fourth Rogue Trader group I’ve started over two-ish years, so I’m looking forward to utilising what I’ve learned early on to try and deliver a kick-ass game.
Players were given free reign with what characters to pick. Players that were new to the lore and system were gently steered away from some of the more input-intensive characters like the Navigator or Astropath, which can add a whole load of extra rules on top of everything else.
In addition, each player was given 2500 experience to spend, starting them on Rank 2 with 7000 experience ‘spent’.
Lord-Captain Tassa Zacharie Aphesius Orthesian “Notch” (Rogue Trader) – Dan
With a background in the Battlefleet, the Captain was very set on running the ship and crew as an ex-commander might, with military precision and demanding unwavering loyalty. The player had also experienced a previous Rogue Trader game as an Arch-Militant very much playing at the other end of the legal spectrum, so wanted to try being the one giving orders rather than taking them.
The Lord-Captain’s stats are all over the shop; after XP spent he has a Weapon Skill and Fellowship of 51 and 50 respectively, very useful for a Rogue Trader. Unfortunately, even after a bump, his Toughness leaves much to be desired at 32, meaning our Rogue Trader will be starting the grand tour of the Nomad Stars with a whopping 9 wounds.
For his free Acquisition he picked up a displacer field, hoping that will activate enough to keep him alive…
Enginseer Xander Freeman (Explorator) – Hammond
Hammond is a long-standing regular in our games but rarely gets to play the Tech character, so jumped at the opportunity to make a really weird character off the bat. His first request was for his Acquisition to be four robo-legs so he can crawl across ceilings and gallop like a spider-horse, and for the free bionic implant he chose an MIU link with his hellgun, so he can fire it freely while hoofing it across strange alien worlds and brandishing his shiny power axe.
The character comes from an under-resourced manufactory Hive World where he was the Top Dog of running the show. When the Captain was looking to put together a crew, he picked Freeman for his administrative talents of doing a lot with very little under awful conditions. This means that although Freeman is the Enginseer rather than the Explorator, his role on the ship will still be a very familiar one.
Stats rolled were fairly average across the board, the only thing of note was a decent Agility and a Fellowship of 40 – the two skills an Explorator definitely needs. A bunch of XP was pumped into Intelligence and Tech Use, so now the Explorator is testing Tech Use on an 81. Here’s hoping he doesn’t break anything…
Gunther Von Gun (Arch Militant) – Dave
Von Gun is this player’s first foray into Rogue Trader and 40k in any big way as well, so we thought we would start off with one of the easier character archetypes to get to grips with; the Arch-Militant. A cursory glance over the character sheet reveals that Von Gun’s weight, height, age, gender and description are all “GUN”, so I think he’s really gripped the nuances of 40k lore.
Von Gun is rocking the twin bolt pistol look, and rolled above average on every stat. After plugging a few points into Ballistic Skill, he’s sitting comfortable on a 69 to hit (heh) with his bolt pistols, which is great for an experienced character, let along a starting character! This is fortunate, as with this surprisingly frail group, the Arch-Militant will be in serious demand during combat situations…
Gil Virgant (Astropath Transcendant) – Jez
The Astropath career is, in my opinion, the wildcard of the various careers because of the terrifying power and risk they can wield on a regular basis. Whole sessions can be derailed from one failed Perils test as a dinner party with bigwigs goes awry when daemons pour from the psyker’s mouth and try to eat the faces of the other party guests. It’s comforting then, to re-read my notes I made on the character’s backstory during a conversation with Jez:
“Born on a penal world, but not intrinsically criminal. Taken as a child and tortured for the guards’ personal gain – IN HERETICAL WAYS. The more they beat him, the more he became closer to the warp. He reached out to some voices in the warp to help him. These were Definitely Not Chaos.”
So that will be fine then. Most excitingly, even after purchasing two advances, he has nearly the lowest Willpower in the group. He did take a plasma pistol as his free Acquisition though, so at least he can be unstable and unpredictable in two ways.
Xandra Lyoness (Missionary) – Alex
Another player fresh to the group and to the lore, Alex was drawn to the Missionary career as being roughly analogous to clerics and healers from other systems. While not incorrect, the analogy breaks down when you notice the Missionary is also the group’s spiritual compass, daemon hunter, exorcist, interrogator, witch-finder, fiery demagogue and diplomat.
My concerns that a new player might not take to the universe was immediately quashed when she asked “Can I be carried round in a sedan chair and have flamethrowers on everything I own?”. Yes. Yes you can.
Lyoness is a 90-something year old screeching noble-born harridan who is obscenely strong, tough and perceptive. She modus operandi is to be carried round bearing relics from her previous escapades while whipping nearby pilgrims into a religious frenzy (literally and figuratively) with her trusty Neural Whip.
Marai Zilla (Voidmaster) – Andy
The final entrant is the only non-new character – Zilla is being brought over from a previous gaming group that collapsed under logistical problems. As a result Zilla is a slightly higher level than the others, but this will prove to be an absolute necessity as nobody else can fly the ship particularly well…
Zilla’s background is one of service to powerful Dynasties, and gets reassigned as Master of Space as the work calls. He’s an excellent pilot in both voidships and small craft and carries a bolt pistol as a hefty side arm. He also totes a fancy gold autogun wrenched from the bodyguard of a secessionist king in a previous life which has already served him well.
He’s a good all-round character who fills a few vital roles, and when not filling those roles has a good spread of skills to contribute to interaction or combat challenges.
The Orthesian Dynasty is still in its early stage of conception, and will inevitably warrant a followup post about its trials, tribulations, colours and banners. During our pre-game sessions we did come up with some ground lore for the Dynasty, giving us as much detail as we needed to get stuck into the game while leaving it open-ended enough to fill in any blanks later on.
The Dynasty is a new Rogue Trader lineage, although the warrant itself is quite old. During his time in the Imperial Navy, Tassa Orthesian earned the reputation for being a conqueror and commander without peer, leading reclamation crusades in far-flung corners of the galaxy. These selfless acts of bravery were earning him more favour with the upper echelons of his House, and were earning him what centuries of bickering and political wrangling could not earn them. They did the only sensible thing to remove him from the picture: promote him.
Backs were scratched and brown envelopes were passed between the Powers That Be and a Warrant of Trade was eventually conjured up and “awarded” to Tassa Orthesian in recognition of his accomplishments so far. Such an honour cannot really be turned down, so the now Lord-Captain Orthesian was given the smallest warp-capable ship in the Orthesian garage and sent far, far away across the galaxy to a spit of space called ‘The Nomad Stars’.
The requirements of the Warrant state the Lord-Captain is to being the Nomads to heel, and reneging on that requirement will see assets reclaimed and resources cut off. They expect him to die out in the Nomads, ridding him from that pesky do-gooder once and for all. The Lord-Captain, on the other hand, has other ideas…
So with some characters and Dynasty fluff out the way, it was on with building the ship. Our Lord-Captain cast the dice of fate and we began play with a 50 Profit Factor and 40 Ship Points – not a particularly stellar amount of spending power, but we were determined we were going to start at the bottom and work our way up!
For reference, most Raiders (the smallest class of the ship in the game) are around 30 SP to purchase, and the next class up, Frigates, start in the late 30s. If we wanted to fly a frigate, we’d barely be able to put any guns on it to start out with – not a great look for a freshly-minted Rogue Trader looking to cut his teeth on some Nomads xenos scum.
We also agreed to roll the Machine Spirit Oddities and Past Histories before picking the ship. Knowing what additional traits the hull would have would help inform a decision, and perhaps help play to their strengths a bit more. We rolled Resolute and Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, granting us a slight Speed hit in favour of more Hull and easier repairs, and having disguised components and extra sneaky hidey-holes around the ship in case the authorities come snooping at out goods. Nothing overly exciting but nothing particularly crippling either. The +10 to Repair tests will certainly come in handy!
We settled on the Shrike Raider in the end, as it was the perfect balance of speed and power (and to be honest the Shrike so massively outclasses the other ships in the Raider category that it renders any lengthy discussion pointless – it’s a very powerful ship for its class).
We’ll also be playing with the community-vetted Mathhammer rules for ship battles. The simplest tl;dr is that ship combat favours massive alpha strikes over fights of attrition. You can spend forever trying to break armour, only for one lucky roll to slag a vessel in one hit.
The fix is simple: reduce all ship armour by 12, but don’t compound Macrobattery attacks into one lot of damage – calculate every hit against armour as you would for shooting attacks.
After playing extensively with both, I can say that I much prefer how Mathhammer works for space battles, and we’ll be taking it forwards. Whenever you see a ship armour value on Dreadquill, the number in brackets will be the original un-hammered stat.
The Unbroken resolve
Type: Shrike-class Raider Speed: 9
Manoeuvrability: +25 Detection: +25
Turret Rating: 2 Shields: 1
Crew Rating: 30 Weapon capacity: 1 Dorsal, 1 Prow
Armour: 4 (16) Hull integrity: 33
Jovian Class 2 Plasma Drive
Strelov 1 Warp Engine
Emergency Gellar Field
M1.r Life Sustainer
M201.b Auger Array
Cargo hold/lighter bay
Mars-pattern Macrocannon (Dorsal slot)
Mars-pattern Macrocannon (Prow slot)
We have 2 space and 2 power left over but no Ship Points remaining to purchase anything! I suspect additional components will be high on the Acquisition shopping list when we get rolling, but for now it’s fine.
The Unbroken Resolve shaped up to be a good all-round ship – practical weaponry, good speed and manoeuverability, even a decent defence for a raider! We even managed to squeeze a cargo hold onto her and have some space left over for tweaks later on. We could kit her out from the first port we stop off at, but as a new group (and a handful of those new players completely) we agreed it would be more useful to get a few fights under our belt so we know what she’s capable of and what she’s lacking.
The adventure begins
So what’s next? Our group all live near to each other, and we’ve found a night that is mutually agreeable for all of us. The only thing to do is organise the first game and get Rogue Trading!
We’ll be running a heavily edited version of the sample campaign from the core rulebook – I like the simplicity of it, and if my 2 years and 4 games of running Rogue Trader are anything to go by, the simpler the plot you can put in front of your players the better!
The game will begin with the Explorers getting a very enticing message, encrypted in the Dynasty’s official codes…
From the viewport you can see Syracuse in the distance – a concentration of pinpricks of light in the infinite darkness. It draws vessels from far and wide like moths to a flame. The skies around the planet are polluted with starships of all sizes and classes, from the mighty warships of the Imperial Navy on patrol outside their home dock of Port Sempect, to the bloated Universe-class mega-haulers carrying a world’s wealth of resources and people, to the smaller system ships scuttling about carrying precious cargo between the planets.
Syracuse is a sight to behold. Visible long before you can make out its details, half the planet is shrouded in utter darkness, the other half in burning sunlight. Tidally locked, the planet orbits the Tangenian sun perfectly in time with its own axis spin. Only a thin strip of habitable space runs the equator of the planet from pole to pole, and every inch is covered with a sprawling hive cities
Haloing the planet is a broken ring of drydocks, ports, loading yards, warehouses, space stations and detritus. Syracuse once boasted a proud, unbroken run of orbital docks, but these days it is mostly abandoned, fractured and isolated, left to the devices of scavengers, pirates and reclaimators.
The Grey Halo
Our new Dark Heresy campaign begins in earnest, set on the twilight ringworld of Syracuse. As an oft-mentioned place and the capital planet of the Onus Region, Syracuse needed a map worthy of its stature – not just for this Dark Heresy game but also for any future games I choose to set on the planet. I needed a map that was not only informative, but robust enough to be used in the future with little or no editing.
The entire process was recorded and sped up, in the first illustration timelapse Dreadquill has produced to date. A lot was learned on the technical side of things, but the biggest one being: do a test recording before starting a four-hour drawing process. As a result, we get this weird artifact in the middle of the screen, so apologies for that.
From little acorns
The process started with a hastily scribbled map on some lined paper made on a late-night Megabus journey. I’m a big fan of the Total War series, and I drew a lot on my 300+ hours of Shogun 2, a strategy game set in the Sengoku Jidai, or Warring States period of Japanese history. I had a lovely framework to balance powerful households, civil strife and interesting factions without needing too much legwork up front.
The planet is covered in a strip of hive cities, joined together by fields of slums, so the whole map was only ever going to be a straight line rather than a series of continents, so that made the planning a little easier. I didn’t have too many requirements for what needed to be present either; I needed a ‘Province 13’ for setting the spooky campaign in and I needed a ‘Province Prime’ to introduce the planet at its most opulent, to meet the Inquisitor in, and to build the Kismet Palace – the seat of Inquisitorial power in the region.
I thought it would be interesting if the different major households had suzerain status over different provinces, swearing fealty to an independent province (Prime) where their Imperial overlords were set. This had the potential to set up lovely clandestine operations against different houses and cold wars bubbling over into direct border violence in the slum areas.
As a side note; the campaign is based loosely on one of the written campaigns and astute readers may pick it up, so please try not to spoil it for my players in the comments!
I also needed to emphasize the isolation of Province 13. It is one of the last independent provinces left on Syracuse, and slap bang in the middle of the destroyed, desolate and abandoned provinces ravaged by thousands of years of civil war and neglect.
Province 13, or Syracuse Magna, are fiercely independent despite having no exports or being capable of raising tithes or contributing to the planetary defense force. It is run by utterly corrupt, self-serving nobles who have ruled for generations, and there is no limit to how low they will stoop to claw on to whatever fleeting power and wealth they have left.
The concentration of the sprawl of slums between the provinces begins to thin out the closer you get to Syracuse Magna, roughly on the opposite side of the planet. I enjoy little details like this in maps, as it serves not only as wordless world-building, but also as a valid in-game reason as to why the players can’t just ‘pop out’ to get some help from nearby neighbours. Isolation is the theme of the campaign, after all!
I am very pleased with how the map turned out, and although I learned a lot from the timelapse process I think with all the technical difficulties I had assembling it, very few of them are noticeable in the final cut. Huge thanks to my old chum Frazer Merrick for the sound too, go check his stuff out and throw money at him.
Syracuse Magna has been my most ambitious project to date, with three factions planned for models (The Undertow, the Ash Garrison Enforcers and the at-time-of-writing-unseen Arbites) AND a gaming board, it’s going to be a busy few months for me!
We’ve been working with the lovely chaps at Hobgoblin 3D for quite some time now, it’s been a joy and a privilege to watch them grow and paint their stuff.
They currently have a Tavern Kickstarter finishing on Friday 12 January at 23:00 UTC, and after getting my hands on it (and one or two late nights and sticky fingers assembling it) I can say it is absolutely worth the cash. You can get the deets on their kickstarter and drop them a few dollarydoos here.
As part of their Kickstarter, they asked me if I wouldn’t mind splashing some paint around on a corner diorama to indicate what it might be like when it was finished and painted. I can never resist an invitation to a bar, even if it’s a tiny one.
The prints are surprisingly robust. I say surprisingly, because every piece has been dropped at least once, and if it was any other material it would be showing some wear and tear by now.
After getting to grips with the whole tavern when I helped the guys out with a photo shoot before Christmas, it struck me how bleedin’ big it was inside. The actual render was still very much a prototype, one of my main criticisms was that it didn’t have enough character – too many right angles and straight edges. They showed me the 3D render of what the finished article would look like and all my concerns were quashed.
The sections inside are a nice grid, so it’s clear the whole thing was designed from the ground up with bar brawls in mind. With so many campaigns starting off in a local tavern, it’s a wonder there aren’t more tavern scenics built with the malicious intent of players in mind…
I used to have concerns with 3D printed terrain with the layering effect potentially making drybrushing a lot harder, but on the few sections the striations are noticeable, it only adds to the effect. An injection moulded flat surface would have no texture to pick up the paint, and this makes it quick and easy to add colour to a big model.
This project has definitely confirmed in my mind that I need to invest in a decent airbrush. Tools and techniques used for painting figures only scale up so far, and when I inevitably paint the whole tavern, I don’t want to be sitting there for hours drybrushing tiny bricks across a million different wall sections.
I also realised mere minutes before I was about to start taking photos that the picture frame hanging above the fireplace was still blank. I despise freehanding at the best of times, and when I’m on a tight deadline and just about to start shooting I despise it the most. Luckily my trusty PC Gamer was to hand, and we now have a very attractive portrait hanging above the mantlepiece of the Wobbly Goblin. Can you tell what it is?
Finally, no MOTB would be complete without a picture of my overly-expensive professional setup. I know, try not to feel too shamed in this opulent display of wealth and arrogance.
A £4 chef’s hat from ebay, a Bic biro and some bluetack formed the perfect diffuser for my bedside lamp, a 5 year old camera and some sheets of A3 paper masking taped to some cans of deoderant is all you need to get started!
I am stoked to see what they’re going to do with the range next, and once I get my hands on an airbrush you bet I’ll be attacking the next tavern they print out.
It’s the new year, and what a better way to celebrate than with a lovely new box of plastic bits to snip out and assemble? Necromunda always had a place in my heart for the somewhat anarchic rules and huge customisation options, and when GW showcased the new minis for the game I knew I had to pick up a copy.
Luckily for me, my supergreat chums bought me it for Christmas, so I can now no longer use the “I need to get other stuff painted first before I buy it” excuse.
We got heavily into the Community Edition of Necromunda in anticipation for GW’s inevitable re-release a few years back and we’ve clocked up a lot of hours and gang kills, with almost a dozen different gangs between us.
In a cruel twist of fate, none of us made Escher or Goliath gangs, so we’re not able to port over old gangs to the new rules YET. The rumour mill suggests we’ll be seeing Van Saar and Orlock gangs in the next few months, hopefully with a new gang supplement book, and that’ll open up more possibilities for using our older gangs (and lovely photos of our converted gangers).
The box set is, as GW has repeatedly proven with their latest releases, utterly lovely. There is so much stuff crammed into those carboard walls, and even the bottom box itself doubles up as an arena for some of the tutorial scenarios. I also got a lovely shiny web-only event card, presumably from the web edition of the game.
I’ve never really liked the Goliath aesthetic, they’re very traditional Barbarian archetypes that I tend to avoid in my media as (to me) they don’t offer much in the way of depth or a play style I enjoy. Naturally this changed the moment I laid eyes on the gorgeous miniatures that GW has assembled. Stupid giant revolvers? Massive spanners? A rivet cannon? Yeah okay, I’m in.
I had to enlist the help of a comrade to snip out all the terrain parts, there are a lot of flat surfaces that need their mould lines clearing off, so don’t expect to power through this box particularly quickly.
I wanted to start with the Goliath gang first, partly because if I screwed them up, I wanted it to be for my least favourite of the two gangs…
I brought the gang books with me over the Christmas break so I could digest the rules and plan the gang in advance. It all looked fairly straightforward, with some lovely streamlining for the more esoteric rules from the previous editions of the game. Once I’ve played a few games of Newcromunda I’ll write a little suttin’-suttin’ up comparing the two, but for now let’s just look at pictures of models.
I didn’t have much in the way of a spec when I was designing the gang. I’m not 100% sure how progression/adding new gang members/equipment will work in the long run – the biggest change from a modelling perspective is that you can’t change equipment on a ganger once they’ve been given it, freeing you from the need to keep snipping off weapons on your leader as you acquire better stuff.
This time round, you seem to only be able to put new equipment on new hirelings, but with no games under my belt I can only speculate how that works. To give myself some leeway, I decided to only plan a gang using 8 out of the maximum 10 models for each gang, so I can add extra gangers without needing to buy any new gangs (just yet 😉 ).
My biggest mistake was not getting properly acquainted with the sprues before meticulously planning a gang. The combinations of parts are so well executed, it’s really simple to put together a radical, unique gang with the box set, but the way the poses are assembled makes it quite difficult to do anything overly specific.
For example, there are knives and axes available for Goliath melee weapons, but neither of which have any representation on the sprues (aside from a sheathed knife), and stub pistols are super cheap and practical but you only get two in the entire set, and even those are posed in a way to make them only really work with one set of body/legs.
Of course, a sane person would simply readjust their gang list to take this into account. I, however, prefer hours of agonising clipping, sticking and slicing my fingers open to a few minutes of maths.
I wanted to have at least one of everything from the gang list, partly so I could test out the rules for them, and partly so I could make full use of everything available on the sprues. I can worry about min/maxing a gang later on in life once I’ve worked out what works, and when GW inevitably release some conversion packs later in the year.
It was also halfway through construction that I realised I had made another oversight – there is no difference between single and double-handed weapons other than their stats. I had assumed there would be a restriction on using the heavier weapons in melee (improved strength, improved armour penetration etc in exchange for fewer attacks) considering models like the Renderizer (angry skull-axe guy) are using them in two hands.
As far as the rules go, even though the model has a double-handed heft, the off-hand is still free to shank with a knife or pop with a pistol in close combat, earning them an extra dice. This threw me a little bit, and had to reshuffle some credits round to purchase an extra knife on the models I had planned to be double-handers just for the extra dice in combat.
Still, I was determined to build what I’d planned. I just needed to do some jiggery-pokery on the available arms and weapons to make it happen. The big one I wanted to look impressive was my Leader, but I didn’t equip him with the plasma/stub combi-pistol (because holy hell 65 credits), so the default pose was a bit of a waste.
I also had another ganger with a Renderizer and pistol for backup, but after re-reading the rules and realising that would afford him an extra dice in combat, I wanted to model him in a way that I’d remember the guy with the two-handed weapon actually has multiple weapons that he’s juggling like a madman.
A nice weapon head swap between the Renderizer and Power Hammer worked rather pleasingly.
The Longshore Brassnecks
Some whiskey and a season of Parks and Recreation later, and the whole team is assembled. They’re missing a lot of accessories, but the majority of the work is done and I’m chuffed with how they came out.
They’re called the Longshore Brassnecks, a gang of thugs and hoodlums from the exotic harbours of Mercy Longshore, where I was planning on setting most of our games. Not only is it an interesting twist on the setting (Hive City in Spaaaaaace) but gives me a very valid reason to re-use these models as thugs and crims in Rogue Trader.
They get the ‘Brassnecks’ moniker as they run security and haulage for the various defense platforms around Mercy, carting around the ammunition and macrocannon shells for use in the station macrocannons and point defence turrets.
All of their armour will be made of hammered brass from the massive macrocannon shell cases, so the bold black/brass combination should be very evocative on the tabletop.
In addition to that, I also wanted to give them a focus on guns rather than fist fightin’. Obviously they’re going to be very good at that, but I wanted lots of large caliber projectile weapons to reflect their obsession with big-ass cannons.
I found it fascinating that someone took the decision to make the automatic combat shotgun one-handed, and couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a very silly pose.
For the Leader (as yet unnamed) I wanted to biggest version of the available accessories to try and make him stand out on the tabletop. There was a particularly fancy shoulder pad on each sprue (so two in total) that worked quire nicely when doubled-up, and an imposing respirator head and gorget body fit the bill quite nicely.
He also has a stub cannon slung to his back and a knife sheathed somewhere, but I’ve not got round to attaching those yet.
The other weapon swap was the Renderizer-over-the-shoulder pose, which when combined with a stub pistol and the effortlessly cool cigar-chomping head gave the model bundles of personality.
Taking these pictures earlier made me realise I still need to drill the barrels out of their weapons as well, so that’s been added to my to-do list before they get primed.
Time for Juves! They appear to have been changed in a massive way from the Community Edition, as they narratively appear far more important than regular gangers. Gangers have a much more simplified progression tree but get access to better weapons and equipment, so I have no idea how these guys play out in the long term.
They were also planned to have double-handed weapons, but seeing as there was no disadvantage to giving them an extra knife (aside from the measly 10 credits it costs) and the sprues didn’t have enough two-handed weapons, they were all promoted to Guy With Two Knives.
Big wrench and tiny knife makes for an interesting fighting style, but I managed to squeeze a few extra poses out of the limited ‘free’ arms I had left.
I’m representing these Juves by leaving off any shoulder pads or thigh guards to make them appear a little slighter than their heftier brethren. Despite Juves advancing faster than gangers, and having more varied advancement options, they never ‘graduate’ to becoming gangers like they used to – they stay Juves for their entire careers.
I had to convert an axe-hand for this guy, the first of the two special weapons guys, made from a Chaos Marauder axe and trimming down the handle of the Brute Cleaver arm from the Necromunda sprue.
The second heavy weapon guy was this Riveter. Looks super cool on paper and the model is rad as heck, but I have no idea how it’ll play out in the game as it seems quite short ranged. The skull-faced respirator head was pretty awesome, so that went on as well.
I really enjoyed assembling these guys, even if they did suffer from being strangely restrictive in the poses available. There’s still a bit of extra work to do on them, such as adding spare weapons and accessories, but overall they’re pretty much finished.
I’m looking forward to tackling the Escher gang now!