The module describes him as huge and terrifying, with some built-in shock whip tentacles taking up one of his arms. Sadly the module is non-descript about his fate, suggesting his body is found in a trunk, skin flensed and missing an arm, so the Acolytes are never intended to take on Jackal Mask at any point. I thought that was a bit disappointing, as knowing my players, they’re desperate to exact revenge.
The project brief was quite open ended: build a big lad that could reasonably be the head of the Beast House operations, to make for an interesting foe in Dark Heresy and as a potential gang boss in Necromunda.
Building the beast
I picked up a cheap Lord of Plagues from an opportune swap and figured the massive frame would be an ideal starting point for my powerful lad. I wasn’t enthusiastic about keeping the two-handed weapon so I had a bit of a delve through the bits box to see what I could find.
Goliath arms fit perfectly! A Chain Glaive/grenade launcher combo is suitably gruesome for a boss – deadly both at range and close up. It’ll give me (the GM) some tactical flexibility for challenging the players too, as I can alternate between gas and frag grenades to keep them from bunching up too much in the pitched battle I have planned.
I covered up most of the cankers and sores (including the open belly wound) with greenstuff, as although I wanted him to be gross, I didn’t want him to be dead-man-walking praise-grandfather-nurgle type gross. Armour on the arms helped bulk him out a bit, leaving the belly open so he can remain aerodynamic when he fights.
I added a few large scars across the body to cover up the rough GS work I’d done. I figure someone who had a long career in capturing and torturing dangerous creatures might have a few nicks and scratches to show for it.
Final touch was the mask itself, one of the last things I put together. After deliberating the best way forwards, I decided that scratch-building was going to give me the closest thing I wanted. But then what – sculpt it from green stuff? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Luckily I have a bounty of Beastman heads in my bits box and jackals have a much sharper, thinner snout than the goat/dog skulls the Beastmen are – meaning I can shave one down to get the look I want. Result!
I added two cyclinders cut from a spear shaft to look like rebreather filters and added some ears made from carved plasticard. I’d learned a lot from my work on Hare Mask, so this part was much easier than I’d anticipated.
All done, time to prime!
Painting the jackal
Jackal Mask followed the same basic painting techniques as the Beast House slavers with only a handful of differences.
There was much more skin on show here, so more time was spent on that (but not a whole lot more – finished, not perfect!) with extra attention around the scars, surrounding them with a light crimson glaze to make them look inflamed and not healed properly.
The mask was simply painted black (to cover up the mistakes from all the drybrushing and stippling I’d done), edge highlighted and washed with Nuln Oil to give it a matte look. The eyes then had a little dab of gloss varnish to make them look more like visors.
The armour had an extra wash of Carroburg Crimson to give it a slightly reddish tinge rather than the usual brown. I think it makes it stand out much better!
The roar of the crowds is electricity in your bones and the air is heavy with the smell of blood and recycled sweat.
You are in a private balcony overlooking the main Bazaar arena, a wide sandy pit several hundred metres across. High above is a great plexiglass dome, through which the statue of the god-emperor is haloed by the rippling fury of the Telos star.
The crowd encircling the arena is cheering on a cybernetically-enhanced gladiator as he twists the head off an Ambull, holding it up for all to see.
Chief Wrecker Davit holds up a hand at the spectacle and grins at you with golden teeth. A boy in silk pours more wine into your goblets.
”So what do you say? Do you want to play a game to win your ship parts, or perhaps you’re looking to sell? The arenas are always looking out for new and exotic attractions.”
Previously we left our intrepid heroes in the Mercy Bazaar Arenas to do battle over.. uh.. an arena. A Resolution Arena ship upgrade for the Unbroken Resolve, to be precise, and without the funds to acquire it at present, they agreed to do battle in one of the most infamous blood sport arenas outside of Imperial Space.
We open with Von Gunn, Gil and Freeman back-to-back in the sandy arena to the sounds of crowds baying for blood. They were facing three Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild, and they had particularly nasty statlines…
Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild
Skills: Awareness, Intimidate +10
Talents: Ambidextrous and two-weapon talents, Autosanguine, Crushing Blow, Fearless, Swift Attack
Electro-flails: 1d10+12 I, Pen 0, Flexible, Shocking
Pneu-mattocks: 2d10+10 I, Pen 0, Primitive, Unbalanced, Unwieldy
Chain axes: 1d10+14 R, Pen 2, Tearing
Cutting claws: 1d10+10 R, Pen 0, Fast
Ticking clock: If a Chrono-gladiator kills, they gain +1 Unnatural Strength and become immune to Fatigue for d5 rounds. Any further kills increase the duration by d5 rounds. If after 5 rounds it does not kill again, it takes 1 level of Fatigue and d5 Explosive damage to the body ignoring Toughness and Armour. This happens every 5 rounds.
on with the show
Our heroes make the first move, with the Chrono-gladiators trailing in the initiative roll. A combination of Von Gunn’s bolt pistol prowess and Gil’s psychic guidance of his plasma pistol sees off the chrono-gladiator with the shield before it even takes a step forward. It drops to its knees, a smoking stump where its head should be.
Explorator Freeman makes a mad dash at the gladiator with chainsaws for hands, and everyone is stricken with a sense of awful deja-vu.
They exchange blows, parrying and rolling under each other’s deadly swings, but Freeman is caught across the face by one of the biting blades and drops to -2 Critical Damage.
While his combat-heavy comrades are distracted with their own problems, our Astropath is charged by the net-wielding gladiator. The combination of shock net and poison talons drops Gil to -2 Critical Damage. Unfortunately for the gladiator, that isn’t enough to stop him…
Gil unleashes a devastating psychic attack, overwhelming what little is left of net-guy’s brain and gaining total psychic domination over him. He forces him to run as far away from Gil as possible, and Von Gunn heroically plugs him in the back of the head with a twin shot from his bolt pistols. Go long!
Things don’t go quite so well for Freeman. He loses his battle with the Señor Chainsword as its whirling teeth pull two of his four legs clean from their sockets. He falls to the arena floor, burning a Fate Point to avoid death but is definitely out for the fight.
For those at the back keeping count, Freeman has now officially lost the most limbs in the party (3 in total).
As Chainsword Hands raises his arms to deliver the killing blow, Von Gunn explosively separates his arms from his shoulders with clinical precision. The final Chrono-gladiator falls to the ground and the crowd is beside itself with excitement.
After a quick patch-job on Freemen (he has a box of legs on the ship), Chief Wrecker Davit thanks for them for entertainment, and promises to uphold his end of the bargain. The Resolution Arena will be installed on the Unbroken Resolve.
Returning to Espin
You take a short shuttle ride from Mercy to Brother Espin’s vessel – a bloated, gilded pilgrim transport ship twinkling in the light of Telos. It looks like a hunchback baron cradling a hoard of gold.
Cathedral spires extend from its spine and every inch is covered in stained glass, ornate gothic pillars and hand-carved statues of every Saint in the Imperial Creed. Shuttles scurry about like insects feeding their queen .
The hangar bay stinks with the raw musk of human existence – there are sleeping cubbies set into the walls, hammocks hang from the gantries high above your heads, and canvas shanties exist around the peripherals, despite the constant roar of shuttles dropping off pilgrims and supplies. You have no doubts the rest of the ship is in a similar situation
An old man in rags and a long, scraggly white beard is sitting in a circle of cushions on the hangar floor, pouring tea. Half his head is metal plate, and votive symbols are braided into his beard. You know him as Brother Espin.
Brother Espin was thankful for their efforts, and payment was presented as promised for clearing out the space port on Cilice. The Captain had alternate plans – he negotiated for free rights to use the space port instead of payment, something that will sting their bottom line in the short term but will keep their hands free for gin-related shenanigans in the long run. Very cunning!
Espin also offered some new ship components. They could pick two from:
Good Quality Barracks (-1 Space, +1 Morale)
Good Quality Voidsman’s quarters (Raider size, -1 space, +1 Morale)
Best Quality Temple-shrine (+D5 Morale)
They opt for the Barracks and the Quarters, estimating two days to fit their fancy new digs. They beg their leave of the Brother and return to Mercy proper to begin the refit. The crew are particularly thankful to no longer be topping and tailing.
Dabbling in the background
I had learned from my mistakes regarding the Endeavours system in Rogue Trader – less is more. Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve had it work for your own groups, but it wasn’t a good fit for ours.
I still had another idea to try – Background Endeavours from Into the Storm. A formalisation of the Profit Factor acquisition process, but something that can be done once and forgotten about so the players can get on with the adventuring and swashbuckling while the proles do the legwork.
This was a perfect opportunity, the players wanted to rebuild the Cilice Gin distillery from afar and reap the rewards in the future. Time for some numbers!
Background endeavours are split into two parts: the Captain yells at some hirelings to do a job, and the GM calculating how well the job went. Broadly speaking, the players make a few dice rolls and forget about the Endeavour until the GM tells them enough time has passed for the project to have passed or failed.
The Endeavour is outlined by players and GM – what resources they’ll need and the quality of peon needed to perform the job. They already had the resources they needed (most of an abandoned distillery) and just needed a crew – they acquired Good Quality Hirelings, in this case Tavish Contractors.
The GM comes up with a rough time estimate – about 2 months in this case.
Players contribute supporting skills. Freeman provided a chemical analysis of samples found on Cilice (with a Chem Use test) to avoid the fairly obvious horrendous side effects and adds +3 Degrees of Success (DoS) to the Captain’s Command check. Zilla provided fly-by records of the valleys and space port, adding +1 DoS. Lyoness gave a stirring (if somewhat threatening) speech with an Intimidate test, adding +4 DoS to the overall pool.
The Captain makes a Command check to see how well the hirelings perform. He gets a bonus for all the skills his crew have contributed. He (unsurprisingly) succeeds with 8 Degrees of Success.
Retire and enjoy a glass of (currently) the last Cilice Gin in the universe.
Make a Success roll. This is a flat 50/50 chance, modified +/- by the Degrees of Success/failure of the Captain’s command roll and the quality of Hirelings. These rolls are done between games and noted down to bring up at a future session when Success or Failure can be reaped. In this case, I rolled a 10 (super success!).
Check how long it takes. Regardless of success or failure, you roll on a ‘time taken’ table to see how long it’s taken your hirelings to do the job. Sometimes successful endeavours can take much longer than estimated, while failed endeavours can be over very quickly. I rolled 73, meaning it took 125% of the estimated time. 75 days for the job to get done!
That’s it! When the time is up (day 216 shipboard time) I’ll let them know and they can add +2 Profit Factor to their character sheets.
The intention is to keep the story moving forwards while earning money in the background. We’ll come back to this in about.. ohh.. ten episodes time or so.
Auction on the horizon
Last time we also discovered the latest hot topic: an auction being held by the Obsidian Emporial for a rare class of light cruiser in a few months’ time. They had three bits of concrete intel:
Up for grabs was a Secutor-class Monitor Cruiser. A substantial upgrade from the current ship – oodles of space, plenty of weapon hard points and a good blend of defense and manoeuvrability. Perfect for longer, more dangerous voyages into the unknown!
The Obsidian Emporial auction house will not accept money alone, they are looking for something unique or priceless to win their interests.
There will be a number of other rivals vying for the ship – determining who they are and what they have to offer will help the team greatly in their run-up to the auction.
Whatever you want, Leo Getz
With the Auction at the forefront of their minds, the crew wanted some more intelligence on other organisations attending. Time to lean on their old pal, Leo Getz.
After another chastisement from filling their astropathic relay with reams of garbage, Astropath Gil finally gets the message through to Leo. It’s not his Juniors’ job to sift through his manic mountain of thoughts – edit them down!
Brain still aching from mental castigation, Leo comes up with the goods. Two Rivals, both with printed out contact cards so the party can keep some vague centralised notes on the myriad NPCs they’re encountering, and some additional information about them.
Each contact has some generic intelligence about their organisation, their reason for attending, what they intend to offer at the Auction, and additional (sometimes scandalous) information.
Each session I’ll be offering an opportunity for Leo to siphon a bit more for current or new contacts, drip-feeding the information rather than dumping it all at once.
Lord-Admiral Bastille VIII of the Bastille Dynasty
“A martial man, conducting the affairs of his House as though it were a private navy. There are dozens of sour rumours swirling around the circumstances of his inheritance of Warrant of Trade and his poor relationship with the Imperial Navy. “
The Herald of Fane, Fane Disciples
“Intensely secretive and uncommunicative sect of Adeptus Mechanicus, devoted to the works and discoveries of Magos-Illuminate Zeriander Fane.”
Next stop: Nowhere
We had a mission: Gather something unique for the auction.
We had a time frame: Several months.
We didn’t have a heading. The Captain addressed all the potential plot leads from previous sessions and decreed them to all be equally worthy, therefore unworthy of a unique offering to the Obsidian Emporial.
The Captain cast his gaze across a map of the Nomads. So many worlds already discovered.
He stabbed his finger in the centre, a minor warp storm called the Void Sea. He asked “What’s here?”. I referred to my notes – I had only written one line:
“Here there be monsters.”
That was enough for the Captain. He ordered an immediate survey to find an unexplored system of interest in the Void Sea and to chart a course to it. We had a heading!
The only thing remaining was to pick up any last-minute essentials from Mercy-mart for the voyage. The Captain acquired a Bullpup Cyber Mastiff (from Dark Heresy’s Book of Judgement) which is a bigger, meaner version of a cyber mastiff. Zilla acquired a single-shot grenade launcher to help deal with Really Big Problems.
Morale is high, plunder is in sight and with only one day to the warp point, everything seems to be going the Crew’s way! Nothing can dampen their spirits! All they need to do is a cheeky short hop to Gallionic, just a mere three days in warp, what could go wrong?
After putting together some slaver leadership, I wanted the Beast House project to have a bit of muscle. During our Dark Heresy campaign finale of the Red Cages, the module describes a butcher armed with a chain axe and chunks of animal. Some kind of bodyguard or armed thug to protect Hare Mask was exactly what the doctor ordered, and luckily I had exactly the mini!
I’d picked up this Ogre Kingdoms Butcher (I’ll be dead in the ground before I recognise ‘Ogors’) to use in our games of Inquisitor many, many years ago and it had languished half-finished in my box for nearly a decade. I hadn’t done anything particularly crazy to convert him to 54mm except give him a chainsword in his left hand. A quick snip resolved that.
I had a spare harpoon gun from my Orlock tech-gang and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a perfect fit. Not only would this meaty lad have a ranged weapon to harass my players from afar, but totally fits the kind of requirements the Beast House would have of him. Sometimes you just have to harpoon unruly animals to calm them down, you know?
It was pinned to the underside of the arm and some darning thread from my sewing box was used to lash around the arm and harpoon. Some superglue kept it in place, and with a bone-coloured undercoat and a splash of Agrax it even looked intentional!
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that he was 90% painted when I pulled him out of the box. Doubly-so when I realised he’d been painted during the Brown Ink era – pre Devlan Mud and pre Agrax Earthshade! Naturally I gave him a few light glazes to tie the colours back together and get rid of the horrid shine that Brown Ink left behind.
Some light crimson glazes were added around the scars and piercings to make them look bloody and swollen.
And in-keeping with the rest of the Beast House colour scheme, he got liberal dousings of Typhus Corrosion and Blood for the Blood God to keep up the grimy, blood-slick look. Blood spatter cures all ails!
Very happy with this big lad. It helps that he was 90% finished when I “found” him, but getting a model this size “finished” in an evening really helps with motivation! Plus that’s one fewer mini in the Box of Shame…
Just a head honcho to go and I think we’re good for a family photo!
The Beast House project for our Dark Heresy campaign is going well. I’ve got the House part sorted, now I just need the Beasts. Time to hit the thrift shop!
Boyes is one of my favourite shops – it’s a big homeware/haberdashery place filled with all kinds of strange and wondrous things. It’s great for craft and cosplay and you can pick up tinnies of spray paint for a fiver. It also has a toy section, which often has gems that spark joy…
I want dinosaurs in all my games, but I don’t fancy shelling out £40+ for a GW carnosaur (even though they’re super pretty), so £1 per big dino seemed very reasonable. I could justify a big spend if it was the centrepiece of an army, but for a one-off battle or two, this was way better value for money.
I bought the three big lads at the back for £1 a pop, and a handful of smaller pack hunters for 50p each, the whole lot setting me back the price of a southern pint. Very reasonable!
they do move in herds
The club-tailed fellow was used first for Rogue Trader in a very elaborate conversion, hopefully I’ll get that one written up when I catch up on Orthesian Herald. For Dark Heresy I needed some more reasonably-sized dinos though, so those allosaurs were first.
The paint job leaves much to be desired, but I was repainting them anyway so I wasn’t overly fussed. I was pleasantly surprised at how much detail the sculpts had though, which would lend itself quite pleasingly to washes and drybrushes later on.
The plastic is quite rubbery, you get a good bit o’ flex in these lads, and the mold lines took quite a bit to remove. They were 50p each though, and I got far greater quality than I expected for so little money.
It was only after pinning them to their bases I realised just quite how large they were compared to regular humans…
I was going for a gladiatorial arena-style base, so sandy with splashes of gore. A liberal helping of textured paint went on the bases and a quick blast with some red primer and they were ready to paint!
Red ones go faster
They looked better than I could have imagined after their initial paint job was covered over.
This is just a once over with some red car primer from Boyes again. They actually looked like real models!
I wanted a striking look, so a lighter tummy and dark stripes along the back. Who knows what kind of strange world they herald from where this is their natural camouflage, but sure as hell looks cool!
I started with a light red drybrush over the skin, then a crimson wash over the top. A much lighter reddy orange drybrush on the extremities picked out the details. The stripes were a dark grey, washed black and drybrushed with a lighter grey along the spine.
The claws and teeth were picked out with a bone colour and a light sepia wash, and a sandy hue applied to the base. The best part was a liberal application of Blood for the Blood God technical paint, which is swiftly becoming my most relied-upon paint for the Beast House project!
These guys were really good fun to paint – it’s been a while since I’ve just painted an animal, and the texture of the minis really took to the washes and drybrush so all four were done over the course of two short evenings.