Big rocks – mankind’s oldest foe. As much a threat to planetsiders as to voidsmen, and despite space being really really big and really really empty, they do have a tendency to turn up in space battles quite a lot.
Given our Rogue Trader campaign is heading back out into the wilderness, we’re likely to come across all kinds of really big rocks. Why not put a few together?
I wanna rock
I’d recently acquired some cork for basing materials. When it comes to cork, a tip I received from a local hobbyist was to pop to Wilko and buy a few place mats and tear them up rather than pay loads for ‘hobby’ cork. It all comes from the same tree!
This was a quick turnaround for construction, so for all my shame I was unable to get any WIP photos of them pre-primed.
Cork is lovely to work with – you can simply gouge chunks out of it with any implement (even fingers) to create great texture. The smaller rocks were made from scraps from the larger ones, carefully vetted to avoid any flat edges.
For the big lads I glued a few slabs of cork together until they were an inch or so thick. Once thoroughly dried, I set about carving huge chunks out of them to create more realistic shapes. Again, great care was taken to avoid any obvious flat edges or glue marks. You can kind of see the ‘grain’ of the cork in the top left asteroid of the photo above, so I was keen to avoid any more of that.
The support struts were a mix of cocktail sticks for the thicker rocks and lengths of paperclip for the smaller ones. I bent a right angle at the bottom of each paperclip so there was more surface area connection, then padded it out with green stuff anyway. I build for table-play, not dis-play. Aha.
Finally, I applied plenty of textured paint into the nooks and crannies that still had grain on them.
Painting giant space rocks was, you’ll be surprised to hear, incredibly straight forward.
Primed black, drybrushed grey, then washed with Nuln Oil. Another few lighter highlights were drybrushed on, ending in almost pure white at the very top.
I did actually (for once!) look up reference images, as I couldn’t remember if asteroids were brown or not. (They’re not)
Finally, using the end of a cocktail stick, dabbed some white dots in a random pattern to simulate the infinite vastness of space (and break up the dodgy sanding job I did on the bases).
Very happy with how they came out! It’s definitely a technique I’m going to replicate in the future. I notice TTCombat has a new ‘modular space station‘ kit that is awfully tempting – perhaps some space stations built into asteroids? Or perhaps.. *gasp*.. a scale model of Mercy?
Omnissiah protect us, for that would be a mighty construction project…
Originally introduced for Dark Heresy, the Gloomhaunt is a classic fantasy beastie effortlessly inserted into the abandoned corridors, dank caves and hissing service tunnels of the 41st millennium. I needed some winged beasties for our Dark Heresy campaign for the Beast House section and thought Gloomhaunts would fit perfectly.
As they’re ambush predators they’re not much of a threat if you catch one of them sneaking up on you, so I’d need a bunch of them assembled in case I needed a swarm for some of the higher power games, like Rogue Trader or Wrath and Glory. They’d even be interesting carrion creatures for our games of Necromunda, so having a few singles and some swarm bases would be helpful for ease of play.
Bats out of hell
The project kicked off with remembering I had almost a dozen classic warhammer fantasy plastic bats – the same bats that came in the ‘fantasy swarms’ box, with bats, rats, spiders and snotlings. They’re an easy start – an all-in one mini that I just need to horrify up a bit.
The official artwork for the Gloomhaunt shows them more like angry Golbats than regular winged rodents, so I wanted to do away with any of the obvious bat-like features on the body. I ground down the face, carving a hole in the body where the new mouth would be.
I trialled a few types of mouth – top left was the fiddliest experiment with tiny bits of thin wire and a very dainty face. I settled on gluing snipped up bits of paperclip haphazardly around the holes I carved, then greenstuffing a mouth-hole over the top. You could call them lips I suppose, but my partner referred to them as ‘gross flying foreskins’ so clearly the transformation from bat to horrible xenoform was complete.
Many of their pre-moulded plastic bases had snapped off over their 20+ year incarceration in the bits box, so they all got a bit of paperclip at varying lengths for a stand, attached to a mesh/plasticard base to fit the aesthetic of the Beast House.
I might need them as single opponents or massive swarms, depending on the game system and power levels, so I made two ‘swarms’ of multiple Gloomhaunts on a single base.
Other than the fiddly part of attaching tiny chunks of paperclip, the conversion was relatively straight forward and I was looking forward to getting them painted up!
Painting the swarm
I started with a brown undercoat, then the bodies were drybrushed and washed to give a light brown fur texture. The wings vanes were painted dark grey, drybrushed and washed again for a dark, bat-like wing leather.
The flesh around the face was painted in a flesh tone, the teeth picked out in a bone colour and the whole lot given a heavy crimson wash inside to emphasize the horrible fleshy maw that clamps around the head of the unwary.
A heavy application of gloss varnish in and around their toothy maws helped give them a freshly-squeezed-ganger-head look.
The bases were drybrushed silver (straight over the brown undercoat) and given a healthy brown wash. Then, my favourite part, a liberal application of both Blood for the Blood God and Typhus Corrosion to give it that grimy meat-processing facility aesthetic.
The teeth and claws were carefully highlighted with a light bone colour to finish them off. Cheap and cheerful, I was impressed with how well they came out. For the cost of some superglue and a few evenings, I suddenly had a swarm of flying critters I could use to harass a party of any size in basically any indoor evironment.
They might not be particularly dangerous one-on-one, but the first time someone gets one of these horrible flappy bois latch onto their head, you bet players will start checking ceilings a lot more in future…
One of the aspects I enjoy about Necromunda is the modelling challenges it presents.
Since the addition of the Book of Peril, you can ally with Guilds and criminal organisations to unlock unique boons and deploy small squads (called entourages) alongside your current gang.
These entourages usually consist of a leader, a champion, and 1-3 pleb-level fighters. They’ll usually be equipped with a very particular set of skills and equipment, meaning there are no real out-of-the-box options (yet!) available for them. I’d love to see some plastic kits, especially for the Bioshock-esque Water Siphoning Guild, but I can’t imagine those kinds of kits are high on GW’s agenda.
One of the alliances available is the Slave Guild, replete with Slaver Entourage. They provide some interesting bonuses to gangs they are allied with, but I was mostly interested in seeing if I could kitbash four drugged-up chain glaive-wielding goons from whatever I could find in my bits box. Game on!
“Principal among the Chain Lords’ charges are pit slaves, often heavily augmented so that they might better entertain the crowds of the arenas. These warriors, often psycho-conditioned for maximum aggression and loyalty, are as hounds upon the leash, ready to be loosed should a word be spoken or gesture be made.”
The first models I put together were the bodyguards. I already had these guys planned in my head, using reclaimed Chaos Marauder bodies and heads from the Blood Angels Honour Guard set.
The book says are armed with chain glaives, flak armour and a stimm-slug stash – straightforward equipment and an uncomplicated build. Chainswords from classic Chaos Space Marines were chosen for their more non-standard and brutal aesthetic.
Shoulder pads came from Anvil Industry, very useful for hiding the awkward shoulder joints and giving them a bit more techno-bulk. I don’t have enough pipes, tubes and vials in my collection for a stimm-slug stash on the both of them, so I pressed some vehicle smoke launchers into service instead. I’ll be painting them to look like liquid-filled injectors, hopefully highlighting the fact that they’re both combat drug-addled lunatics.
I’ve never used combat drugs in my regular gang, so being forced to have them provided some interesting opportunities. I ran the numbers on the equipment combinations they have – with the Versatile trait of their chain glaives, the one turn bonus movement of 2 provided by the Stimm-slug stash, they can have a minimum charge range of 10 inches! Not something I’d want to be on the receiving end of…
Finally I added a techno-pommel to the base of their weapons. I think they’re from an Adeptus Mechanicus sprue, but I had enough of them to go round. They added some more weight and height to the weapons, and gave it a more duelling-weapon aesthetic that reminded me of the classic 54mm Sergeant Stone model:
The Shakleman – Guild Factorum
“Shaklemen are the bloated fight masters and slave drivers of the Merchants Guild, readily dealing in both human flesh and human misery.”
The hardest of the four minis to put together, mostly due to the eclectic mix of equipment and skills they possessed.
The Shakleman is armed with a shock stave and harpoon launcher, flak armour and a cult icon, and has the Disarm skill.
The harpoon launcher was a tricky bit to figure out, but otherwise I had a very particular vision of Igor from the (excellently cheesy) 2004 Van Helsing film. The arm of a Khornate Knight with the blade swapped for an AdMech taser goad made for a fine (and ludicrously large) shock stave.
The only other ready-made harpoon I had in my collection is the chunky launcher from the Orlock plastic kit (which makes for an excellent one-handed weapon if you’re huge) but I couldn’t figure out a way of attaching it to his back. Luckily, some Ork gubbins had me covered, and one of the Nob weapons just so happens to be this ramshackle-looking implanted harpoon gun.
I think I used up my entire collection of chains for this crew, but it was so much fun finding new parts of the models I could hang more chains from! The back banner came from either a Skaven or Chaos kit, with most the chains coming from Empire Flagellants.
In an effort to make it a little less chaos-y, I tried adding more chains (!) from the Bretonnian men-at-arms kit with some heraldry shields on it. I’m hoping to come up with some kind of Guild crest that I can recreate across the different minis, tying them together with some similar colours.
The head came from some classic Chaos cultists from the Dark Vengeance set, removed from its body for another spooky project but fit perfectly on the hunched Ork physique. Roll on the primer!
The Chain Lord – Guild Procurator
“Chain Lords are often huge and idle souls who have never had to lift a finger for their own comfort, their needs constantly seen to by a gaggle of servants. Hung with chains and trinkets, Chain Lords are nonetheless dangerous adversaries, their wealth affording them many hidden weapons and fiendish augmentations.”
For some reason, the description gave me this image:
The Chain Lord also is the only delegate with a choice of equipment – either a chain glaive OR a chain axe and shock whip. I’d already built a few chain glaives for the pit fighters, and I didn’t have any suitable shock whip that would look good with the chunky, static pose of the Chaos Warrior I used as a base, so chain glaive it was!
The body was made from the back of a Chaos Warrior, complete with shoulder pads, and the armoured torso of a Khornate Knight. I’d had the parts kicking about my bits box for some time and couldn’t resist the opportunity. The legs were also Chaos-sourced, but this time from the now-vintage original plastic boxed set of Chaos Warriors.
Obviously he was going to get covered in chains – he’s not called “Guy with some chains” or “Chain Intern”. What I wasn’t sure how to represent was the stimm-slug stash. I’d used smoke launchers for the pit fighters, but I wanted something a little less industrial looking for the boss.
Luckily I still had some miscellaneous Dark Eldar vials from the Talos kit that would look cool poking through the fur of the cloak, so they got glued on in a fairly random way and the fur re-added with putty to make them look more integral.
The head was the hardest part – finding something that looked both dangerous, ornate, somewhat idle. I had images of the God-King from Zack Snyder’s 300 but didn’t know how to translate that very well. I had two head options, and I put it to a Twitter poll:
Nearly all the comments were for both, so I did both! I trimmed the fancy headpiece and metal beard (the most important element) off the head on the left and stuck it to the head on the right, filling in the gaps with some more green stuff.
All that was left was to add a few accessories, more chains (!) and fill some of the more heinous gaps with green stuff. Ready for priming!
Last time we were mid-warp on our voyage to the unknown – the Void Sea. This had a small stop-off at Gallionic, an “entry point” to the Skylar’s Lie domain, catalogued as such due to its proximity to other systems and relatively calm warp currents.
Many Domains in the Nomad Stars have these entry points, and navigating across the sector is quicker (and usually safer) to hop from entry point to entry point. However…
An alarming turn of events
Beat to quarters! Boarding alarm! The canteen on Deck 7C has been breached!
It quickly becomes apparent from the horrified screams over the vox that there has been a daemon incursion in the canteen. Almost a dozen souls were lost before they were able to seal the bulk head.
Von Gunn wins the initiative roll (hah, sucker) and kicks the door down to the canteen. Inside they are faced with a canteen ablaze – flames lick the walls and in the centre are half a dozen crewmen wreathed in warpfire, forced to dance along to the awful sound created by a pair of writhing pink creatures – Pink Horrors of Tzeentch.
Despite their ever-shifting nature, they both seemed to be carrying music instruments that were creating the terrible noise, and as they flicked and twirled their rubbery fingers about, forced the terrified crewmen to dance along to their sadistic music.
The horrors hurl balls of iridescent warpfire at the opening, pinning many of the crew. Those who aren’t pinned return fire, the Astropath enjoying his new killer combination of magically guided aim and overcharged plasma pistol.
The captain issues his orders:
The Captain charges into glorious melee combat in a bid to break the impasse. He spits prayers of the Emperor’s Mercy as he strikes down the terrified crewmen, unable to control their own bodies moving to the foul music.
He then promptly catches fire.
Freeman blasts the Bongo Horror (new band name, I call dibs) and it melts into a puddle of warp-riddled goo, before changing hue and reforming into a pair of blue horrors. Gasp!
Horrors are some of my favourite lesser daemons because of their weird mechanic of spawning two slightly smaller variations of themselves on death. They are weaker and do slightly less damage, but now the number of targets has gone up…
Meanwhile, under the will of the pulsing music, the firedancing voidsmen charge the canteen opening and engage the retinue. To make them interesting enemies to fight, I used regular voidsmen stats but gave them Unnatural Toughness, a 20% forcefield and flaming melee attacks. Their objective was to gum up the players while the Horrors continued to lay down warpfire attacks, and it seemed to be working.
A few Brimstone Horrors crawl out of the flames of the perimeter of the canteen, eager to contribute to the weird dance party. They spit a few tiny fireballs and are extinguished pretty quickly by the crew.
With most of the Firedancers dealt with, there was the matter of the Burning Captain (new band name, I call dibs). Missionary Lyoness leaps into action, using her surprisingly impressive Strength of 50 for a 90-year-old to cover the distance, and helps put the Captain out while struggling with the final few Firedancers.
One of the Covenant, Beef Loaf (they’re all named after Ancient Terrain Hymn-writers) is killed by warpfire from the Horrors. Her name will be etched into a shrine when we’re done cleansing this horrid place.
The Captain is struggling from a few turns of fatigue from being on fire, so Lyoness (the closest thing to a healer the group has) stabs him in the neck with some stims to keep him awake. Once more into the fray!
Meanwhile Von Gunn has puts the killing blow on the Fiddler, who splits into two blue horrors. Freeman moves into position to try out his illegal plasma gun ‘salvaged’ from the Grin Estate on Cilice. It’s like a regular plasma gun, except it shoots it’s plasma in a 30 degree cone like a flamer, doing plasma gun damage over a flamer-wide area. Yikes.
Better not put anything beloved in the way of that!
After some heated discussion about whether a cone exists in three dimensions or not (GM’s note: it absolutely does), Freeman accidentally catches Seymour in the blast of the plasma-flamer while trying to obliterate the last two horrors, much to the gasps of horror from the rest of the team.
Seymour the dog catches fire, and the whole incident was put down to a gross miscalculation of angles, because surely there’s no way the Explorator would be callous enough to fire the weapon again, knowing the Captain’s cyber-mastiff is definitely in the blast radius.
Seymour is reduced to slag from the plasma blast, taking a considerable chunk out of the canteen and obliterating what was left of the horrors. The crew are genuinely stunned.
After heated discussion about what constitutes an accident, the Captain agrees to forgive Freeman’s transgressions (he did kill the final few daemons, after all), but he promises never to forget.
Licking their wounds, both emotional and physical, the crew return to the last few days of their warp journey.
Through the fire and the flames
Lyoness leads a team to consecrate the canteen. It’s beyond repair, so they replace it as a shrine to Saint Drah’Gunforz, the patron saint of fire and flames. They move an organ from the church deck down to the canteen and appoint someone to play hymns during the day, just to make double sure the daemons don’t return.
Out of the frying pan
You translate safely into the Gallionic system, your vessel adrift in a sea of rocks. Augers show high concentrations of atomic material contained in the asteroids
The yellow light of Gallionic’s sun fills the bridge with its warmth. The drifting sea of rocks and radioactive haze throws strange lights through viewports – An eerie yellow patina, like drowning in a jaundiced ocean.
Proximity alarm! Augers detect plasma drive activation 8 VUs off starboard side and closing!
Bridge officers raise void shields and order deck crews to battle stations. There is an incoming vox from the unidentified vessel:
“This is Captain Firmstep of the Foregone Conclusion. You have trespassed on a trade route that is legally mine and I consider your ship forefeit. Surrender it to us and we’ll let you live.”
The Captain, normally a beacon for diplomatic behaviour and etiquette during confrontation, takes the vox directly and responds:
“You caught us at a bad time. We had to flee our last engagement, we’ve had a bad warp jump and someone just shot my dog. Prepare to die.”
The Beast House project is practically finished and I have enough minis to represent all manner of slavers and keepers to harass our Dark Heresy group. Previously I showed off the leadership of the Beast House, Jackal Mask, and all that’s left was to paint up a few of the ‘supporting roles’ of the campaign.
The plot called for witches – rogue psykers incarcerated in hellish iron-maiden-type devices for the purpose of tracking and interrogation. What would happen if one of those witches escaped? We’d need some minis, just in case…
Hunting for witches
The Red Cages is just the first half of this act, the second half takes place above ground during a riotous carnival of colour and excess. Some more villains needed to take the stage soon, the ones who hired the Beast House, but they wouldn’t show their masked faces for a few sessions yet.
I had picked up the Doctors Starter Gang from TTCombat’s Carnevale range, as I had plans for all the minis individually. The plague doctor lead would make up my main villain, the big thuggish guy was originally pencilled to be the basis for Jackal Mask.
It wasn’t until I got hold of them that I realised just how much bigger they were than 28mm minis. With some clever snipping at certain joints, a couple of them could be trimmed down to size, and in the case of these insane-looking lads the scale wasn’t noticeable against their extreme poses. The others, however, were shelved until I could figure out a way to scale them down. Another project for another time.
These guys were very straightforward – they came in three pieces and just needed a bit of cleaning around the mold lines. Give them a Beast House base and they were ready to prime!
Finished, not perfect
They were painted in the same palette as the Beast House, but their strait jackets meant a mostly single colour for clothing. This wasn’t a bad thing, as they were going to get muckied up with blood and grime effects anyway.
The biggest difference to the Beast House palette was the electric doo-hickeys on their head and their lightning eyes. This was a slapped-on light blue/white effect that I had the intention of coming back to tidy up, but ended up looking better than the OSL effects I had spent hours trying to layer in the past, so I left it. Funny how things work out!
They really were simple to paint, and given they’d not have a great deal of screen time I didn’t feel like spending much time on them. Once all the washes had dried, they were drybrushed and attacked with various effect paints, namely Blood for the Blood God and Typhus Corrosion.
And with them completed, the Beast House project was more or less complete! I had many other ideas for designs to pursue or loadouts to tinker with, but for my purposes it was finished.
Time for a family photo!
Very pleased with how they all come together, made largely of scrappy bits I’d had lying around my bits box for a trillion years. In fact, the only minis that were purchased specifically were the Witches – everything else was repurposed or scratch built!
Time to terrorise my Dark Heresy group with plenty of Fear checks and chain glaives. Now, perhaps they need some kind of giant dinosaur rider…
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.
Last time I’d finished up some slavers for my Beast House project in our ongoing Dark Heresy campaign, and as our players were nearing the end of their time in the Red Cages, it was time to up the ante.
The players had been stripped naked and thrown in a pit, and after a few sessions of Saw-style hammer house of horror, they had scraped together enough ragged armour and rusty blades to take on the final boss of the Red Cages – Hare Mask.
The module alludes to members of the Beast House wearing different animal masks as a grotesque parody of the riotous carnival going on overhead, so I wanted to take it further by having a different animal mask representing a different boss of the three levels.
The lowest level was guarded by Rat Mask (represented by one of the whippy slavers), who had two pet rats and a tent made of rat skins (surprise, surprise!). As they worked their way up the facility, it was time to face the final lieutenant – Hare Mask.
I didn’t have much in the way of a brief for Hare Mask, other than they needed to be a fairly commanding presence with even halfway-decent armour (ie not just bloodied chunks of animal stapled to you). They were going to have an imposing set of weapons, with at least one of them being a signature weapon stolen from the players to make it even more obvious that this person needs taking down.
Time for a rifle through the bits box!
building the bunny
My preference was for Hare to be another female slaver, and I just happened to have one spare Escher body left from the Necromunda core box set. The big battle boots, animal trinkets and slightly raggedy appearance would make a great start to a Beast House lieutenant.
At the end of our last campaign (before stripping the team naked and leaving them in a pit) I asked them what their favourite/least favourite equipment was. There was little context beyond me trying to get a flavour of what the team have and what they might like more of.
Being an Utter Bastard(tm) this was in fact just a way of me working out what tools to drip feed them. In their first mission, the only equipment they could scavenge was whatever they had told me was their least used/least favourite equipment. It made for some incredibly resourceful moments of creating disguises and distracting guards with bags of spices.
The other less-bastardy intention was to work out what equipment I could use as a reward – something to help them feel less like I’d deleted their character sheets and more emphasis on progression to reclaim what is rightfully yours. The baddies have your stuff – go shiv them in the neck and take it back!
Our preacher’s combat shotgun was the perfect choice – iconic and deadly, and a reminder of just how powerful some weapons can be in the wrong hands. It’ll also give the slavers an opportunity to put out some hurt of their own – the crappy disposable pistols they’ve been threatening the players with so far have been fun, but their threat is limited. Time to burn some fate points.
I needed something slaver-y for a melee weapon that wasn’t another whip, so I went for a shock maul from the Genestealer Cult Neophyte set. It also comes attached to the user’s wrist with a length of chain, which was a nice touch. Stops those pesky slaves trying to disarm you.
With some extra animal gubbins and some fur sculpted around the shoulders to give her a more impressive silhouette, all that was needed was a mask itself. I went to a lot of effort to find anything I could use as a mask that would involve zero effort to employ. In my hubris, I just had to come to terms with the fact I’d need to scratch build it.
The mask was a strip of plasticard cut to shape with a sharp hobby knife and VERY carefully bent around the handle of a paint brush to give it a more natural curve. The details were painstakingly carved out with the end of a knife. It didn’t matter if it looked rough – it would add to the effect!
It did need to look like a hare though, and rather than use an actual animal for reference, I figured I’d borrow from the best…
And it was time to undercoat!
That girl with five colours in her hare
I tried to stick to the colour scheme I had trialled (surprisingly successfully) with the previous slavers. Light drybrushes, washes and copious use of Typhus Corrosion and Blood for the Blood God to finish off.
All in all I’m very pleased with how she came out. She will make a fine mini-boss, and her statline suggests she’ll be light on her feet and much harder to hit than the usual lumbering slavers (hence her patron animal). Hopefully it’ll give the players a run for their money (and Fate Points).