Diamond’s Interests – Gorgon Crystals warband

For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

The mysterious wealthy benefactor “Diamond One” has taken a personal interest in the discovery of the strange xenos artifacts on the shores of Port Impetus. He has arrived on the fringes of Imperial space and found himself remarkably at ease with the criminal underworld there, allying himself with a guild of Chrono-gladiators called the Deathclocks to support and protect him on his adventures.

His motives are selfish – he wants the crystals for his own gain. There are rumours he is connected to the Precipice Dreadquill, a mass-produced serial literature portraying exaggerated, censored, or romanticized versions of events from across the sector. Although illegal to possess, it doesn’t stop the Dreadquill from finding its way into the hands of millions of labourers. Such a readership would be very interested in the story of the Gorgon Crystals…

Leader – Diamond One

Little is confirmed about Diamond One’s identity other than rumours (possible put about by himself). He is reputedly attached to the Precipice Dreadquill, perhaps in an informant or administrative role, and he shares many similarities with a scion of the Shultz household on Daphnia who went missing several years ago.

He has a clearly defined sense of right and wrong, and is very popular with the workers, labourers and underhivers. He has little time for discussions of lawfulness however, and is happy to break all manner of laws to achieve his goals.

Lightly armed and armoured, he relies on his wit and speed to see him out of a sticky situation. He carries an esoteric mix of equipment – an Eldar shuriken pistol and a hand-held archeotech device that operates like a (slightly) more controlled displacer field.

This acts as a regular displacer field that doesn’t activate in response to attacks, but is manually activated instead. The user can roll two scatter dice to pick the direction, so with some luck allows them to travel in the intended direction!

Chrono-gladiator Aries

Aries is an ageing chrono-gladiator – a cybernetic pitfighter fitted with a device that will explode and kill him after a period of time. The only way to set back that timer is to kill, so a chrono-gladiator lives expressly to butcher others in bloodsport matches in an effort to stave off death for another day.

Aries’ history in the arenas has earned him many years of respite, but his clock still ticks. Diamond One’s proposal was too good to be true – in exchange for protection in an upcoming expedition, Diamond One would not only pay enough to retire on, but would perform the necessary surgery to permanently halt Aries’ deathclock so he could achieve the one thing no chrono-gladiator ever could: die of old age.

On the field, Aries is uncomplicated. His twin chain claws and combat drug injectors have felled larger opponents than him in the arenas of Mercy, and each claw is fitted with a small ranged weapon – just in case.

Guilder Romaan Fetch

Aries’ support staff and pit crew comprise of a collection of mechanics and labourers to keep his systems functioning (chain claws don’t have opposable thumbs), and Fetch is the smartest of the bunch.

He’s often tagging along closely behind his master patching up bullet wounds or blown power conduits, or persuading stubborn security spirits to allow access through doors or crates where brute force would be inappropriate.

His equipment is practical and reliable – a lasgun with underslung grenade launcher and a variety of grenades (photon flash, haywire and frag) to suit an ever-changing battlefield.

Guilder Max Rockatansky

Rockatansky is the other human element of the pit crew, able to provide a bit more muscle when rites of percussive maintenance are required. He specialises more on the ordnance side of things, and keeps the crew’s weapons firing true.

He mounts a chainblade under his lasgun for close encounters and a krak grenade for unscrewing really tight nuts.

Clamps

via GIPHY

Everyone needs a friendly piston-assisted clamping buddy for all your hauling and clampage needs. Clamps is mostly machine, with a pair of magnificent squeezers for carrying, lifting, bending and.. uh.. clamping.

Being lobotomised, he doesn’t suffer from such trivial things as fear or self-preservation, and his reinforced interior provides him excellent protection against cuts and scrapes.

Inquisitor: Gorgon Crystals warbands

The Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign is almost upon us, so let’s look at the house warbands on offer for our players.

Players are encouraged to build and use their own warbands, but for those who don’t have enough minis to fill out a roster (or are just starting off) – there’s plenty to choose from.

Warbands have a variable size depending on the access to resources their leader has. Although players will typically be taking the same number of miniatures into their games as each other, having a large warband to pick from gives you a tactical advantage (but the unfortunate agony of choice!).

Every warband will have its own feature article on them, but for now they’re all listed here for posterity.

The Crimson Wake

As seen in the first Prologue mission, the Crimson Wake are a collection of Chaos Undivided mutants, traitors and heretics dedicated to disruption, anarchy and undoing the works of the Holy Inquisition.

Lead by Arch-Hertic Karo Lurz, they predominantly recruit ex-guardsmen and ‘useful’ mutants into their echelons, but they are not above using swathes of expendable goons to achieve their goals. Their ‘gifts’ are sometimes aligned with individual Chaos gods, such as Zhenkang’s plague knife or Mucus’ immense strength and lust for blood.

Diamond’s Interests

Diamond One, the callsign of a mysterious benefactor arrived at Port Impetus with a vested (and well-financed) interest in the Gorgon Crystals. Originally from Daphnia, it is rumoured he is part of the infamous propaganda machine The Precipice Dreadquill, but such hearsay is quickly dismissed as fanciful.

He has allied himself with a guild of chrono-gladiators, the Deathclock Guild, lead by the fearsome Aries. Not only do such deep pockets need careful protection, but Diamond One has promised the cybernetic warrior reprieve to permanently pause his built-in death clock if he can help Diamond One secure a crystal for himself.

They are accompanied by Aries’ pit crew, as the lack of prehensile thumbs makes repairs and refuelling quite tricky for the ageing chrono-gladiator.

Their detailed article is here:

Interrogator Dune’s Warband

Interrogator Ezekiel Dune is a radical member of the Ordo Xenos, extremely tired with the hardline “all xenos are bad” position, and considers it a waste of resources to direct hatred equally among all xenos species. Far better to understand that while humans are still obviously superior, not all xenos are bad – most are, but some are helpful, even vital to the continuation of mankind’s survival.

He is joined in battle by trusted agents from all walks of life that he can rely on to watch his back and carry out orders without hesitation.

Mawdryn’s Purge

Inquisitor Tanik Mawdryn was exiled from the Onus Conclave for his highly questionable methods of intelligence gathering – burning a hive city for suspected heresy on circumstantial evidence. He wandered the fringes of the sector, gathering a group of zealots and fanatics to his cause.

He has also recruited the silent help of Sister Ivixia of the Order Censorum, a radical sect of the Orders Famulous dedicated to deleting mutation and corruption from high Imperial society with extreme prejudice, specialising in the annihilation of texts and artefacts. The fact Mawdryn attracts genetic deviants to his cause desperate for redemption in the eyes of the holy Emperor is not an irony lost to him, and Sister Ivixia is a powerful encouragement tool for joining his ranks.

Vanth’s Warband

Inquisitor Vanth is a radical member of the Ordo Malleus – barely tolerated by the Conclave if not for relentlessly producing results against the forces of Chaos. Subscribing closely to Xanthitism, Vanth wields a daemon blade that hungers for the flesh of other warp entities, and boasts his own considerable psychic prowess.

He is joined by loyal, die-hard bodyguards recruited from various ranks and regiments of the Imperial Guard, hand picked for their skills, force of will, or – in the case of the pariah Trooper Grey – an accident of birth.

MOTB: Crystals

The money shot

I’ve been banging on about the Gorgon Crystals campaign a lot recently, and for it I needed some battlefield tokens to represent the.. uh… crystals. I’ve mucked about with carving crystalline structures out of plastic sprue before, but I didn’t really have the fortitude to create at least half a dozen markers out of the stuff.

Cue Bad Squiddo Games! I’ve been following their stuff for a while now, and even picked up some of their Cargo Supplies and Food Supplies kits to build my market scene (which is still lying unpainted in a box somewhere…), and knew their set of crystals would be perfect.

p a c k i d g e

I put in the order and waited. Even though it was a busy post-Christmas period, it still turned up within days of me ordering. A++ service!

p a c k i d g e

The minis came out the blister perfectly – no mould lines in sight. The only tidying I did was shaving down one or two bottoms where they’d been clipped from their sprue. A two-minute job and it’s time to hit the spray.

Blue tack woes

Now, in my haste, I didn’t give them a proper soapy bath that you should always do with resin minis. This is to clean off any releasing agent to make paint adhere better and make them a little less slippy.

I was too proud and lazy to do this – after all – what’s the worst that could happen?

Turns out, the releasing agent is basically vaseline for blue tack. I had to hold them with needle nose pliers and superglue them to paint pots because blue tack wouldn’t even pretend to hold onto them.

I kept telling myself that yes, this was a far easier and more efficient method than just doing what you’re supposed to do.

Time for the pink

I knew I wanted a purple/pink colour scheme to add that alien quality I was looking for, but I didn’t know how to paint crystals. I knew there was something funny about the direction you blend colours to make them look like prisms, but I couldn’t even begin to figure it out. Time for a tutorial!

A cursory google provided me with this great tutorial on painting gems/crystals, and I just substituted the blues for pinks and crimsons to produce an effect I was really happy with.

It was, however, quite time consuming, and I was sick of the sight of pink and purple by the end of four very long evenings of painstaking wet blending. I’m glad I did though, because I think the results speak for themselves!

They’ll appear in plenty of Inquisitor battle reports over the next few weeks, and hopefully I can get more Bad Squiddo bits to paint up in the near future, so watch this space!

Inquisitor Battle Report: Death of a Vagabond, part 2

I’m running an Inquisitor campaign, The Gorgon Crystals, at my FLGS Asgard Wargames, and this is the second Prologue mission.

The setup is the same as the first mission, designed to introduce new players to the game with pre-made warbands and set the scene for the campaign. Although there will be many different versions of the events that happened on board the Sojourner, these will all just be part of the usual rumour, speculation and conflicting reports the Inquisition has to deal with.

Setting the scene

Our two warbands were meeting in the cargo hold of an ore hauler, the Sojourner. The cargo crews had built a city of sorts among the ore, and it was among these ruins our explorers would come to blows.

Upon arriving, the warbands find the crew butchered by their own hands – some had clawed the skin from their flesh in a horrendous bout of insanity. The cause for this wave of madness wasn’t clear, but drag marks, manic wailing and strange energy readings indicated the source was in the cargo hold.

Full scene-setting details are in Part 1 here.

The Warbands

We once again had two players, both new to the system, and a pair of deranged crewmen NPCs who are defending their junk totem in the centre of the cargo bay. Both players were using pre-made warbands, picked from a roster of 5.

The warband of Colonel Vaux

From left to right: Sergeant Honeis, Colonel Vaux, Trooper Grey

The radical Inquisitor Vanth is not one to miss an opportunity like the Sojourner. He is, of course, too busy to attend himself so sends his right-hand man, Colonel Chase Vaux, and a pair of guardsmen to back him up.

On the left is Sergeant Hugo Honeis, first-rate medic and vital to the survival of the team. He has been called upon countless times to patch up whatever’s left of Vanth’s warband after a run-in with his usual foes. Colonel Chase Vaux is in the centre – a steely-eyed sharp shooter armed with bolt pistol and power fist. Finally is Trooper Michael Grey, an unassuming guardsman with autogun and a secret power – traces of the Pariah gene. Vanth seeks out pariahs for his warband, and has ordered Grey along on the expedition. Whatever they find on the Sojourner, Grey’s powers against the warp and daemonkind would certainly come in useful.

Trellio’s hired help

From left to right: Conan, Trellio and TJ Razor

Hecate Trellio is an ex-guardsman turned smuggler, with dubious links equally to the Inquisition as to the criminal underworld. In this instance, she has been ‘requested’ by a former Inquisitorial associate to investigate the Sojourner and bring back whatever she can. Speed is vital, so she has rounded up two hired thugs from Port Impetus to help her – Conan the Unkillable and TJ Razor.

Conan was born in a hive city and brought up a criminal racket called the Red Hand Gang. His pigmentation mutation was largely overlooked for his convenient ability to see in the dark (although he has to wear special shades to see in the daylight), but none were prepared for his final party trick – regeneration. After ‘dying’ too many times to be believable, he moved to the fringes of space to make a living as a nigh-unkillable mercenary.

Razor was born into servitude in the belly of a great voidship, falling in with a labour gang called the Pursers Grim. His survival skills were sharpened as keenly as his knives, and his skills are highly sought after for those who need something dealt with quietly.

The investigation begins

Once again, our warbands start on opposing corners of the map with the objective in the centre. Unlike the first Prologue mission the map is dense with terrain, making progress along the ground safer but slower, whereas taking the high ground across the platforms would be quicker, but far more exposed.

Vaux’s warband on the left, Trellio’s warband on the right

Trellio’s mercenaries quickly move to cover, scanning the terrain ahead of them for the origin of the insane cackling they can hear. Trellio spots a pair of crewmen covered in dried blood on the central tower, the base strapped with metal like a bizarre totem pole.

She taps her microbead and informs her colleagues of the situation while TJ Razor sprints ahead.

Even in the guttering emergency lumens, the remaining crewmen can be seen welding chunks of metal to the loading tower, talking to themselves in a lilting cackle, occasionally breaking into wails of laughter. Trellio takes no chances, signalling both to her team as hostile.

Vaux’s warband are less fortunate with their initial checks – identifying the sound but not their source. They clamber up gantries and cautiously head to the centre, double-checking corners and scanning horizons for movement.

Trooper Grey mounts the base of a ladder, intending on taking the exposed catwalk directly to the centre.

Hearing the green light for a kill shot, Conan gets over-exuberant with mounting the walkway. He learns the importance of a Risky Action check, and clotheslines himself in the gut trying to leap onto the platform (right next to a perfectly good ladder).

Pretending not to notice Conan’s performance, Trellio scales the catwalk and crouches behind some railings. She clocks both crewmen and a mysterious third party – a military figure in dark uniform shouldering a rifle at the crewmen. She keeps her head down to see how it plays out.

The crystal is revealed! As Trellio squints through the gloom, she notices a sickly purple glow emanating from a cluster of crystals in the centre of the totem tower. The crewmen seem to be coveting it, talking to it as an exhausted father would a newborn.

An ill wind surrounds it, and staring too long strains the eyes and gives an overwhelming sense of nausea.

As Trellio looks on, Trooper Grey executes his orders. He squeezes his autogun’s trigger. Hot lead spatters the metal totem, chewing through the padded work gear of the crewman and biting into his gut.

The sound of gunfire is punctuated with the sound of manic wailing. Everyone hears and quickens their step.

Sergeant Honeis shoulders his lasgun and sets his sights on the second crewman. He looses a burst of fire but they patter harmlessly off the totem around his target. He curses under his breath as the crewman dips out of sight, hammer raised, screaming into the darkness.

The first crewman bounds towards his aggressor, dropping his welding torch en route from a heavy blow to the arm. Grey keeps his cool and keeps plugging shots into the mad deckhand until he stumbles and falls to the ground.

As far as she could tell, the dark-uniformed guardsman (and, presumably, whoever else was with him) hadn’t noticed her or her team yet. Trellio sneaks over to the vacated welding torch to see if there is a cunning distraction she could concoct with it, but locks eyes on the prize instead – a trio of incredible, glowing, nausea-inducing xenos crystals.

Meanwhile TJ Razor has secreted himself into a perfect striking position on the other side of the loading bay. TJ takes a huge huff on his inhaler of Spur, readying himself for a few turns of thrilling heroics.

The raging crewman on the walkway hasn’t noticed TJ at all, more predisposed with Sergeant Honeis peppering him with las fire. The crewman looses an unhinged laugh and bounds from platform to platform trying to close the gap.

Honeis realises the sudden danger of his situation and snaps his rifle to his cheek. The crewman was moving too fast to get a clear shot , ducking and weaving behind railings and exhaust stacks. The crewman leaps from the final platform…

Meanwhile, Vaux has moved into a central position and takes cover behind some low crates. He has been kept appraised of the unfolding situation by his inferiors, and has chosen this moment to place his considered shots.

Slowly and purposefully, he raises his bolt pistol to eye line and squeezes. The bolt rounds explode across the crewman, carving out huge chunks of flesh with every round. He is knocked from the air mid-flight and tumbles to the ground.

TJ Razor finally makes it to where the crewman was, only to see him tumble to the ground below. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, he leaps onto the wounded crewman, knife flashing in the lumen-light.

The blade plunges deep into the crewman’s shoulder, blood pouring from the wound. The crewman’s struggles bleed away in moments, leaving a lifeless body on the floor.

With all the enemy guns seemingly pointing everywhere except her, Trellio makes a break for the crystals. She thumbs a few snapdragon shells into her shotgun in case she needs to make a quick getaway, but Grey is too busy finishing off the crewman on his platform.

Conan, having spent the entirety of the game failing to climb ladders or roll more than 1 Action at a time, suddenly finds himself with a glut of energy.

With all four Actions being rolled every turn until the end of the game, he throws himself onto the platform and lays down a punishing hail of fire in Grey’s direction.

Vaux takes cover behind the crates and squeezes off a shot at TJ Razor, who returns fire with a throwing knife. Both marksmen fidget around cover, trying to land a definitive shot without revealing themselves.

TJ’s microbead pipes up – Trellio shouting over the sounds of gunfire and boots pounding on metal. She had secured whatever they’d come here to find – it was time to evac.

Protected by the withering covering fire from Conan, Trellio effortlessly covers the distance between her and the evac point. She makes off with the prize, ensuring she hands in the three two crystals to the appropriate authorities, as requested.

The last few warband members take a final few pot shots at one another to cover the retreat, but the scenario is over – victory goes to Trellio’s warband.

And yet…

With Trellio’s warband in hasty retreat with the crystals, Vaux and his team take a few moments to pore over the carnage the crewmen left behind. They discover the crystals were only one set of a much larger shipment – a shipment that is now conspicuously absent.

Scavengers must have made off with the other crystals, and with Port Impetus being the nearest convenient fence point for stolen xenos artifacts, it seems that they might have a much larger problem on their hands…

What next?

Thanks to our players and to our gracious hosts, Asgard Wargames! We’re pretty much done on prologue missions now, maybe squeezing in another if there is more interest among new players, but otherwise it’s on to the main event! Watch this space…

MOTB: Arcane ruins

Finished product first!

I guess there’s a theme with recent MOTBs, so it’s a good time to post ruins! Truth be told, I’ve had these ruins ready for quite some time, but having only just purchased a lovely new battle mat from Pwork Games it was a great time to get some photos done.

Out with the old

I must have owned this kit for over a decade, getting dragged around between uni, house moves and all sorts. A few years ago I had a weekend spare and I wanted to finally get it from sprue to battlefield.

Original box art!

I had a tiny problem – much of the kit had been lost to the annals of time I was missing at least one whole upright pillar, the top of the monolith and at least one bit of broken pillar. I’d need to get creative.

In with the new

Luckily my pals at Hobgoblin 3D had me covered. I’d been doing some work for them and I was paid in scatter terrain (can all my paychecks be in scatter terrain please?) and I found the dungeon brazier fit perfectly in the gap at the top. Result!

I’d been using it for practising painting techniques, so it wouldn’t matter if it was getting repainted.

They were quite impressive all assembled. I’d used a cheap readymix DIY filler and smeared it all over, giving the flat edges a bit of texture and tidying up some of the more heinous mould lines.

It was a shame I was missing a few pieces, but it’s supposed to be ruins so the mismatched appearance would be fine.

Weirdly the bits I was missing the most was upright pillars, and the ones I did have tended to be two of the same half, so they didn’t fit together particularly well. Plenty of hacking and filling was needed to finish them off, and the final upright was made from two chunks of ruins glued on top of each other. It ended up with a very wonky appearance… but ruins!

The final upright didn’t have a back half at all, and with not enough pieces to bodge together a second upright, the final freestanding ruin had to be laid down. I wanted to make it look like it was being reclaimed by the earth, and I had some more plants from Hobgoblin to fill the gap and make it a more rounded piece of scatter.

With plenty more filler applied and a long drying time, it was on to the undercoat!

All white on the night

I wanted to avoid doing MORE grey ruins – my collection of terrain was 90% drybrushed grey over a black undercoat which is incredibly dull to look at. I was looking at some tutorials for painting wraithbone structures for our Rogue Trader campaign at the time and I enjoyed how striking Seraphim Sepia was over a white undercoat, so the plan was set in motion.

All dressed up

They existed for almost two years before the gaming mat was purchased, and it’s such a lovely backdrop for these minis I had to finally take some photos!

The stone was painted with washes of Seraphim Sepia and Agrax Earthshade, with progressively lighter drybrushes of boney colours, finishing on an edge highlight of pure white.

I was playing with my latest new technical too – Nihilak Oxide – to do some patina on the bronze. This was just Warplock Bronze painted straight over the bits I wanted to be metallic with the Oxide dabbed messily into the recesses. With a bit of rag, I wiped it off the most prominent edges and that was that.

The downed ruin had some extra textures to paint, namely the ground and plant. I had another half a dozen plant bits that I batch painted at the same time (more on those in another post), so this was done to replicate that. Otherwise, the ground was a dark brown base with lighter browns drybrushed over the top, with a few select grassy tufts from Army Painter.

When they’re separated, the ruins take up a decent amount of board space. I doubt they’d ever be big enough to use as a focal point, but as some LOS-breaking scatter I think they perform quite well.

Plus, the big bonus is they appear to work extremely well at both 28mm and 54mm – something that is becoming (again) increasingly important to my collection!

A final size comparison with an as-yet un-photographed mini – a Demeten Hastati. Again, more on those guys in a later post. The ruins make great cover!

Very happy with how it all came out! For a weekend’s worth of work, I got something striking and practical for the tabletop using bits that were just gathering dust. I’d been meaning to shoot them for some time, and with the new battlemat arriving, it was a great opportunity to use them as a backdrop for some other minis too.

Watch this space…