MOTB: Medicae servitors

Finished product first!

I was lucky enough to get on board Anvil Industry’s Daughters of the Burning Rose Kickstarter back in 2018 and thanks to a birthday present top-up found myself with a decent amount of credit to spend on toy soldiers. I didn’t need any squads at that time, so fancied picking up a load of the special characters to supplement the various games we play as NPCs.

Excitingly, many of the special characters were still in the concept art stage when they were ordered, so it was a crapshoot as to what would turn up. One set that I knew I definitely wanted was the “Cyborg Surgical Assistants”, as at that point I’d lost count of the number of games I’d set in a morgue/hospital or with a Boss NPC surrounded by legions of assistant servitors.

The horde arrives

I ordered a bunch of minis and promptly forgot about them for a year until a large box of resin arrived on my doorstep.

What a mystery! Half of the fun was figuring out what I’d ordered (looking at the invoice is for casuals), and luckily Past Me had furnished Present Me with plenty of fun new toys to play with.

I had a Dark Heresy finale coming up that required a pair of medicae servitors, so I assembled those first, popping them on small Necromunda bases to fit in with my other minis.

As with other Anvil Industry stuff, they were a dream to put together. Minimal mould lines and everything fit together without any pinning. Out of the two claw hands and two chainblade hands, I opted for one on each servitor. As much as the idea of Mister Clamps and Mister Stabs appealed, the practicality of having two chainblades on a medicae servitor was a little suspect.

Scrubbing up

I knew I wanted a sterile, hospital-themed colour scheme to help visually set them apart on the tabletop, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Luckily, a video on how to paint UR-025 from Blackstone Fortress was doing the rounds at the time and the minty green was perfect for what I wanted – and I had the paints to hand!

An undercoat of white then a layer of Nihilakh Oxide gave me hospital scrub green, with another pin wash in the recesses, then edge highlighted with a very light grey.

Metal bits were simply painted metal, then given a brown and black wash to make them really mucky. Chips were painted on with a little line of dark brown, then highlighted underneath with a little line of light grey.

Flesh was Ironrach Skin, washed purple and Ironrach layered over the top again to give them a very unhealthy skin tone (plus a little dab on the corners where flesh meets metal – gotta make it look inflamed as well).

The goop tanks were painted red, stopping roughly horizontally to look like liquid in the tank. A thin line of lighter red as a highlight, then a healthy coat of gloss varnish to finish off the look.

And they were done! I’m very pleased with how they came out – the colour scheme was simple to do but incredibly striking on the tabletop, and stands apart from other minis they might be deployed next to. I’m already planning my next Anvil build, so watch this space…

MOTB: Ryza-pattern ruins

New year, new scenery! I’ve had a quiet spell for hobbying over the past month or so, the time I’d usually spent painting is time I spend buying cheese, eating cheese, or planning how to get 12 people round an 8-person table to eat cheese.

Luckily past me grabbed loads of photos of projects I hadn’t showcased yet, so I’ve got lots of material to work with while I get back in the hobby groove.

Older and ryza

I acquired some of the Ryza-pattern ruins completely by chance, having been decidedly indifferent to them when they were announced. When a sprue was included in Conquest magazine last year, not only did I get one for free from someone who didn’t want it, but the price of them dropped through the floor on ebay the week after the issue hit doormats. Crazy how nature do that. I figured two sprues were better than one (and could get reasonable coverage on a table) so I picked one up for about £6.

For my sins, I took absolutely zero WIP photos. Imagine then, if you will, the above and below photos but TOTALLY NAKED. They were uncomplicated to build – the only assembly required being where two sections slotted together. The hardest part was cleaning the darn pieces up – one of the ruin sections has no less than 28 points of contact with the sprue, so that was a LOT of plastic nubbins to clear up.

All painted up

As with all my scenery schemes, the technique I used was far too complicated for how they came out. Everything got hit with a black undercoat, then a grey zenithal undercoat. The ‘panels’ got a pale flesh drybrush with a sepia wash, and the ‘uprights’ got a boltgun metal drybrush with a brown wash. These got a rough edge drybrush with boltgun metal again to make them look chipped and worn.

The red horizontal sections were mephiston red, black wash and edge drybrush with a lighter red, and the yellow and black stripey cables got a black wash as well. My two favourite technical paints were then liberally splashed on afterwards – Blood for the Blood God and Typhus Corrosion to mucky them up a bit.

They’ve already been super handy in games of Necromunda to expand the pool of scatter and cover terrain, and they scale up well to 54mm too which makes them double-useful for my nefarious 2020 plans!

For now though, simply enjoy these unbesmirched images of good, wholesome background terrain in its natural environment.

MOTB: Magos Greyfarn

Finished product first!

I recently got involved in a Dark Heresy 1ed game (and not one I was running for once!) which gave me a great excuse opportunity to buy another mini.

I’m obsessed with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and always excited to explore more facets of them. As the Mechanicus are basically space wizards (simultaneously hoarding secret knowledge but desperately wanting to show off how smart they are by building giant towers filled with weird inventions), I wanted to make a quintessential wizarding archetype – the doddering old genius.

I’m also a huge fan of Futurama, so after watching Bender’s Big Game, I knew what needed to be done. I set about finding a mini to perfectly represent Hubert Farnsworth in the 41st millennium.

My search ended almost immediately with Artel W’s offering – Preacher Ignacius Fahrnsworth. Well heck. Straight into the basket you go.

Delivery for… I. C. Wiener?

My experience with Artel was superb, starting at the point my delivery arrived.

Look at it! Having ordered a couple of things from Russia with varying levels of sturdiness, I was delighted to find a hand-wrapped brown paper box plop out the jiffy bag, with a red wax ‘Artel W’ seal.

Mini companies take note – customer experience starts from the moment the parcel arrives!

Inside was another box, clarifying the ‘W’ stood for Artel W.

And there he was!

Very delicately packaged, and lots of lovely bits.

The second heap of praise I have is the quality of this fella is unparalleled – I’ve never put together anything quite like it. The mini is exquisitely detailed, there were no mould lines at all, and only a couple of bits of flash that needed trimming off. The actual mini itself went together like a dream, everything fitting precisely where it needed to.

I’d assembled him within half an hour, no need for anything to be pinned. Everything felt sturdy. He even came with multiple arm options, and although I had planned on converting him somewhat (I wasn’t sure what, I just have a compulsion to change things to make them my own), I couldn’t bring myself to do it – the mini was just too lovely!

Hanging out with the #squad

He scales up nicely to other GW minis too – here he is hanging out with the rest of the party. Enough dilly-dally, on to the paint!

Hail science!

He’s an old-school Magos so he needs some old-school threads. Classic Mechanicus red, with black and white checkerboard trim (none of this fancy new cog trim).

Everything was painted with the same technique – base colour > wash > base colour > lighter colour. It’s simple, easy for me to remember what I’ve used, and works well with my high contrast/cartoony style of painting.

I love all the little details on the mini – I’m pretty sure all those heads are supposed to be the other Planet Express crew. He’s even missing a shoe, perfect for a forgetful old Magos.

I’ll definitely be using him as a hanger-on in Necromunda too… perhaps a Heretek or Rogue Doc. Maybe even as a VIP in a scenario? Always good to add to the catalogue of Citizens!

It took me a bit of trial and error to work out how the hood and mantle worked with each other – there was lots of repainting sections trying to figure out where the red bit ended and the black and white bit started.

Typhus Corrosion was applied around the bottom of the robe and shoes to help mucky him up a bit and tie him into his Zone Mortalis base a bit better.

I think this was my fourth (?) time at painting fire – somehow I’d escaped almost 20 years of mini painting without having to learn how to do it, then a bunch of fire-based projects come along at once. I think I’m getting better at it, I just need to practise my Origin Source Lighting to help give it that warm glow. I tried it a bit here, but I chickened out before doing too much.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do on the banner, so I went for a cog design. I’m not super excited about how it came out, so I’m blaming the waviness of it. Yeah. Finished, not perfect, right?

Very happy with how he turned out! It was a bit of a slog to get through, especially all the little fiddly technical freehand bits (and painting fire – boo hiss), but I’m glad I did.

Good news everyone – I will DEFINITELY be going back to Artel W for more minis in the future!

Orthesian Herald 17 – The Conclusion and the Cutlass

PreviousSession 16: Terrors of the Gallionic Passage
First: Session 1: The Unbroken Resolve and All Those Who Sail Therein

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[Image from the internet, artist sig in bottom right]

Proximity alarm! Augers detect plasma drive activation 8 VUs off starboard side and closing!

Last time our intrepid explorers translated safely into the Gallionic system and straight into an ambush at the hands of Captain Firmstep.

Privateer Captain Firmstep – art by Stanislav Galai

Captain Firmstep, flying the armoured Heimdall-class transport ‘Foregone Conclusion’ moves into weapons range, clearly signalling his hostile intentions while the crew of the Unbroken Resolve scramble to power up all defensive systems after translation.

The other vessel, the smaller and more nimble Viper-class raider ‘Sulphur Cutlass’ lurks on the peripheries on the battle.

As a side note, both vessels used the newly-developed (at the time) Grimdark Ship Name Generator as a naming tool. Some are great, some are odd, all are Grimdark.

While the Conclusion and the Cutlass drop countermeasures and graviton flares to baffle the Resolve’s sensors and targeting solutions, the Resolve respods with defensive measures of their own.

Thanks to the Expanded Space Combat Actions, there are now some extra options the crew can pursue in between moving, shooting and intimidating the crew to move faster and shoot better. One of those is Flak Storm.

Extended Action – Flak Storm

The point defence gunners receive the order to go weapons free, saturating all the space around the ship with a thick wall of gunfire – the storm of flak scattering debris and shattering asteroids, making it difficult for enemy gunners to draw a bead on the ship. This action is a desperate one, as the wanton and unsustainable waste of resources has a lasting effect on the crew.

Command or Intimidate: Impose a -5 to all enemy BS tests targeting your ship next turn, plus an additional -5 per Degree of Success. Reduce your own Morale by D5 each time you perform this Extended Action, regardless of the success of the test.

The Conclusion peppers the Resolve while the Cutlass gets a little too close
Crushing the cutlass

Astropath Gil utilises some extended actions from the Navis Primer, namely Control the Weak Mind. A powerful psychic technique that no Astropath should be without – with a Psyniscience -40 test he can target a nearby enemy vessel and telepathically control some of the gun crews to fire on erstwhile colleagues.

Not only do you pick an enemy’s weapon component and immediately resolve it against a target of your choice, but the weapon component can’t fire next turn as the crews are too busy reloading!

Astropath Gil Virgant

With the Cutlass’ void shields down (and it foolishly closing range), the Unbroken Resolve was free to open fire with its powerful close-range macrocannons. A disgustingly good round of shooting left the Cutlass crippled and most of its components unpowered or venting air into the void.

With very little left to contribute and the Resolve now engaged with the Conclusion at close range, the Sulphur Cutlass disengages and skulks away into the darkness.

Having lost both the shooting game and the numbers game, Captain Firmstep turns to his ship’s own speciality – prepare to board!

The Conclusion is only a transport, so not designed to threaten the players’ own ship very much in terms of armour or armament. It did pack an unpleasant surprise, however – a barracks full of void-hardened warriors, a Tenebro Maze arrangement of interior corridors and a talented Captain to buff the crew.

They got a +30 to any attempts to repel boarders, meaning the Captain would have to work extra hard to cause their crew concern.

Voidmaster Zill and Von Gunn lead a Hit and Run attack around the outside of the vessel, crippling their plasma drive. Gil gets spooky and summons a Dark Labyrinth, making their own ship’s interior impossibly complex to navigate to boarders, giving them a buff during boarding actions. It all seemed for naught after the first dice roll.

In the opposed test, the Captain rolled a critical success, the crew of the Conclusion rolling a critical fail. We did the numbers.

The Captain lead a boarding party that butchered over 15,000 crew in one hour of the boarding action. Down to the last ~200 or so crew, the unsurprisingly threw in the towel and surrendered to the gore-soaked boarding party of the Orthesian Dynasty.

After a rousing speech about how lucky they are to be shown mercy, the Captain orders the survivors to be absorbed into their own crew to bolster casualties. Captain Firmstep however, is nowhere to be found…

New ship sheets

This space battle prompted a discussion about ship character sheets. The rulebook rightly describes the ship as a character in its own right, shared between the players, but we felt the default ship sheet wasn’t nuanced enough to cover the myriad components, knick-knacks and acquisitions the players would come across.

So we made our own!

Click for the full PDF

Removing the massive ship image and shuffling the tables round a bit gave us loads of extra room to play with. The reverse is a bunch of space for cargo and acquisitions – you don’t need to print it off double-sided, but we found that we used the reverse to track all the players’ booty anyway, so it just made sense.

Get the PDFs here.

Cleaning up and clearing out

After exploring the bloody remains of the Foregone Conclusion, the crew agree there isn’t much to be done about the vessel. Legally Firmstep is a pirate, so nobody would come looking for their ‘legitimate salvage’, but they didn’t have the manpower or inclination to tow it back to Mercy themselves.

They agreed to grab what they can (the Captain pinching Firmstep’s heraldry hauberk), make a few calls to Captain Acheron at Mercy and get on with the expedition.

Into the black

The Captain prefaces the unknown warp journey with another rousing speech to the crew, congratulating them on overcoming the heretic Captain Firmstep. The crew had taken a hit to Morale in the fight, and this was just the ticket to artificially inflate their sense of self-worth before their sacrifice on the altar of the unknown.

Set a course for Sigma-459!

We use our own warp travel rules, which is a blend of the core rules (too simple) and the Navis Primer rules (too complicated) with another dozen or so warp encounters added to the table. Take a look:

As the Navigator is played by an NPC, the players take it in turns to roll for warp travel, using Mahd’Naz’s Navigate (Warp) stat of 50. They are allowed to use their own Fate Points to re-roll, knowing full well the consequences of failure…

They make an accurate estimation of 35 days and as its a brand new warp route, roll ‘Indirect Path’ for the Route Stability, adding +1 day to the journey.

They successfully translates in, failing by less than a degree, and avoid all but the worst of the warp travel encounters (ie, they take a bunch of Insanity Points from seeing their dead relatives at the foot of their bunks, but that’s par for the course right?).

In it for the long haul

To spruce up long travel times, I’ve started writing in mini-encounters, moral quandaries or opportunities for advancement for some minions, often prompted by players’ desire for not-quite-as-shit scrubs. One such instance was when the Captain wanted to train up Felicity, one of the more proactive armsmen, personally training her to be an assassin.

The premise was simple – if the captain can pass a relevant check every week (Weapon Skill, for example), his personal tutelage has paid off and she can slightly bump her stats in that area. She won’t be wearing rags for long!

To help them claim ownership of their space, I’ve also started asking them to build the world in their image, starting with their quarters. The Captain described his quarters as a neat and tidy office space, filled with books of tactics of admirals of old. In the chaos of universe, this is his haven of stability. He also has an expanding trophy cabinet (Thanks, Firmstep!) and you could bounce a penny off the bedsheets. And, naturally, a glass of amasec is always ready on his desk.

The Zoologist

For Voidmaster Zilla, he was presented with a conundrum involving his Xeno-arcanist:

The Dynasty’s paper-pushers have flagged up erroneous expenses with your cut of the profits. Several large purchases have been made under your name, more so than the usual Telasco’s bar tab, and after doing a little digging you discover your xenoarcanist “The Zoologist” has been making a number of covert purchases. When you confront them about this, you discover they have been building a library of proscribed, illegal or otherwise morally dubious books and tomes about xenology and alien culture.

If the Zoologist is allowed to continue his studies, he improves his Forbidden Lore (Xenos) to +20.

Unfortunately for our Voidmaster, he failed to locate any trace of what the Zoologist was spending his money on, so he assumed it was booze and/or space floozies. The mystery continues unsolved!

via GIPHY

The sketchy Astropath

For the Astropath:

You have an interesting and somewhat valuable collection of something in your quarters, what is it? (One of them goes missing, a junior has pawned it for gambling)

The player tells me he has a collection of sketches made during meditative trances, most are strange but important to him. One of his Juniors tries lying to him (a bold strategy for a bunch of telepaths), which results in his gambling privileges revoked.

Still causing problems

For the Explorator:

A senior Engine Priest has reported some strange goings-on in some of the crawlspaces. Apparently some of your Engine Crew have made copies of the Cilice Gin Distillery and have set up a bootleg still in some of the less-used areas of the ship. Not only is this a flagrant misuse of Dynasty property, but an incorrectly-assembled is an explosion waiting to happen, and encourages the most heinous crime of all amongst your underlings: innovation.

Freeman wastes no time in locating the secret Gin still, storming in with Engine Guard. He flogs everyone responsible, scrutinises the construction and takes it all apart. He decides to keep the details of the entire debacle to himself.

Everything filters upwards of course, and when the Captain inevitably finds out about an entire work gang being publicly flogged under orders from Master Freeman, he wants to know why. Freeman is inexplicably evasive about the entire situation, keeping the plans for himself, leaving everyone with a sour taste in their mouths.

I’m sure elements of trust between the crew and Freeman’s Secret Projects(tm) will never come up again…

Gil uses The Tower to find out about Factor Silica

Gold in them thar cargo holds

Finally, the Captain was presented with a (mild) moral quandary. After raiding the estates in the Golden Valleys of Cilice, the crew had found themselves with an awful lot of miscellaneous booty once belonging to faithful Imperial servants that Brother Espin would appreciate returned to him. Alternatively, Orthesian adepts on Mercy could slowly tap the reserve, laundering the goods through Mercy’s infamously untraceable markets and turn a few pennies for the Dynasty.

The Captain mulls it over and elects to pass – keep hoarding the loot. Don’t sell it, but don’t tell Espin we’ve got it. I’m sure he’ll never find out…

More Auction Intel

And finally, Gil tasked his new intelligence gatherer, The Tower, to scrounge up some more intelligence on some of the potential auction-goers. This time it was Factor Silica, emissary of Varnstrom Industries, the largest Adeptus Mechanicus conglomerate in the subsector.

Factor Silica – by artist Blazbaros

Intel: Presiding mostly in Imperial space, Varnstrom Industries are the largest Adeptus Mechanicus conglomerate, owning more than half the ruling sects and having the controlling share of the forge world ‘Forlorn Hope’.

Reason for attending: They are staunch traditionalists and loathe to see Adeptus Mechanicus secrets being traded so carelessly between undesirables.

Not a lot to action at this point, but knowing that they’re going head-to-head with the biggest cog the Mechanicus can throw at the problem, they’ll need something extra special to win that ship.

With our journey coming to a close, it was time to make one final translation into realspace and arrive safely at our destination.

Or so they thought…

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MOTB: Asteroids

Finished product first!

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.

In action!

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.

Celestial bodies

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…

MOTB: Gloomhaunts

Finished product first!

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…

Did you hear that? Must’ve been a rat…

MOTB: Slave Guild Entourage

Finished product first!

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!

Pit Fighters

“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:

The left head coming from Neferata, Mortarch of Blood, acquired during a bits swap, and a bionic head from Anvil Industry. Both had essences I liked – the one on the left had the ‘space pharaoh’ vibe I was going for, but the bionic head had the ‘fiendish augmentation’ flavour I so craved.

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!

Orthesian Herald 16 – Terrors of the Gallionic Passage

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What could go wrong?

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.

Voidmaster Zilla in the top right, the Covenant in the bottom right.

The crew waste no time investigating. Missionary Lyoness brings two of her newly-minted retinue, the Covenant, that were rescued from the pilgrim ship “The Penitent Traveller” and then armed by the generosity of Brother Espin. The Captain brings along his new military-grade cyber-mastiff, Seymour, and an apprentice officer named Felicity.

Freeman wants in on the meatshield action and brings along a few engine adepts, only to have them terrified to death nearly instantly.

They hear a throbbing, rhythmic noise coming from inside the canteen…

“We’re here for a health and safety inspection, we heard you had an infestation of lesser daemons”

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.

A Horror of Tzeentch

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.

Everyone down!

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.

Sorry lads. This’ll hurt me more than it hurts you.

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!

Stay still, this won’t hurt much…

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!

Oh no! Something beloved was 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.

Oh, okay.

RIP Seymour. Your time on this crew was short but sweet.

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.”

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MOTB: Beast House Witches

Finished product first!

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.

Family photo

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…

Meanwhile on the Bench: Jackal Mask

Finished product first!

The Beast House project needs a little leadership, and the Hare-masked lieutenant just wasn’t cutting it. Our Dark Heresy group deftly slipped past Hare Mask and her Ogryn Butcher and they’re making a beeline for the head honcho, Jackal Mask.

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!