Our once-regular games of Rogue Trader took a side bar for a small Inquisitorial investigation into a psychotropic drug made of ground up psykers. The criminal organisation responsible was headed by a shadowy figure called the Principal, a powerful Slaugth Infiltrator complete with hidden moon base, brain-worm zombie minions and its own terrifying technology.
The Slaugth are a pretty horrid bunch, described as “a vague humanoid shape composed of seemingly hundreds of writhing, half-melded maggot-like worms covered in viscous, necrotic mucus.”
They first appeared in Dark Heresy as a fascinating villain and party-wipe machine even on their lowest setting, and although I desperately wanted to unleash them on one of my player groups, I figured only the Rogue Trader party would be able to stumble blindly into an Infiltrator and make it out intact.
On the board they’re as horrifying as their appearance – they’re amorphous, regenerating, terrifying and immune to toxins, fatigue and critical hits. They’re horrifyingly fast, can hide just about anywhere and can punch a character’s hit points clean off in a single blow.
They also rock around with terrifying Slaugth weaponry. This one is partying with a Necrotic Beamer – a magic wand with a lascannon packed inside, with the fun additional trait called Disintegrate. Any victim suffering Critical Damage from this weapon is blasted into a cloud of ash and vapour and is completely destroyed. Time to burn a Fate Point!
Building a monster
No Slaugth miniatures exist and with only a handful of pieces of artwork to work with, I had a fearsome amount of artistic licensing. There were a few other Slaugth conversions on Google at the time, but I wanted a particular bunch-of-worms-in-a-cloak kinda look and none of them really grabbed me.
I was going through a period of converting up Reaper Bones minis for use in Rogue Trader, and found the Wraith model suited my purposes. It couldn’t be that hard to fill it with lots of tiny wriggly bois, could it?
The mini arrived and was a little smaller than I’d hoped, so I popped him on a wider base to give him some gravitas on the board. I wanted him to have some kind of sceptre to represent his necrotic beamer, so that would be held above his head to give him a bit more height.
The wormy lads were just tiny rolls of greenstuff with a tapered end, stuck into place with a dab of super glue and bent into shape with a sculpting tool to make them look wriggling and grasping.
You can never have too many worms! I would add maybe a dozen tiny tendrils each modelling session, letting them cure fully so I wouldn’t stick my stupid fingers in them while I was adding more. It wasn’t a particularly time consuming process, but I’ve learned from my many sculpting mistakes that it’s far better to do it in lots of small chunks rather than try to do too much and ruin the progress you’ve made with a clumsily-placed thumb.
Their tech is described as unfathomable, corrupted, and a blend of synthetic and organic. I wanted to avoid him looking like an angry wizard with a simple cane with an orb on the end, so I snipped the end off a Plaguebearer’s sword and inverted it for the ‘handle’, and used the smokin’ skull from some Nighthaunt kit for the top.
This had the added bonus of giving it some extra height while also drawing attention to the weapon it wields, giving me an opportunity to do some fancy special effects when it got painted.
Painting a million worms
Time to splash some colour on!
I went for a dark and eerie palette with splashes of unnatural light for the weapon. I trialled a dark brown for the cloak but it looked very bland, so I covered it up with dark purple.
Luckily I didn’t have to paint a million worms. Each got a couple dots of grey along their uppermost ridges to look like segments, then they were all covered in a liberal amount of gloss varnish to rack up the icky-factor.
The base was originally going to be a gunmetal grey to match the evil lair, but it was too drab and didn’t contrast enough with the dark robes and black squigglybois. A light sandstone colour was perfect to frame the mini on, and gave me lots of evil ideas about running a Mummy-style scenario being chased around a pyramid by a swarm of angry worm-men.
The staff was painted a very dark green and given a few black washes to darken it even further. The extreme edges were picked out in very light colours, giving it an eerie jade-like appearance. I wanted it to look otherworldly and dangerous without it being Chaos, as that’s not what this chap is about.
I wanted it to look like malefic energies were spilling from the skull at the top of the staff, and it was my first time painting lightning and I think it came out rather well! It involved lots of consecutively lighter thinned-down layers of paint, starting at dark green and working up to almost pure white. Drybrushing the smoke didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, however.
Overall I’m extremely happy with how he turned out. It looks like an unfathomable cosmic horrow, the perfect kind of Xenos for my games! It got a great outing in our Rogue Trader campaign, causing one of our characters to burn a Fate Point almost immediately, and took the entire party plus retinue to gang up on it, setting it on fire, slinging plasma and stabbing it with an Eldar witch-blade to take it down.
How a Dark Heresy party is supposed to take these on is beyond me!
I’ve got big plans for more Slaugth, especially their horrible flesh-constructs, and I’ve been eyeing up the Nighthaunt range for larger minis to base my cloaked horrors on. My partner has just subscribed to the Age of Sigmar monthly magasine, so fingers crossed one of the Cairnwraiths turns up that she doesn’t want…