Mother of Mercy – Inquisitor Open Event 2017

Old Mother One-Eye staggered across the conduit platform clutching her dueling wounds. Thin trails of silvery blood seeped between her skeletal fingers, hanging in the air like oil on water.

Her warp portal lay in ruins, carved apart by lance fire from an orbiting voidship. Sickly green lightning arced from the remains of the obsidian pillars that held the portal in place, the impotent rage of the warp venting harmlessly into the dissipating storm high above.

She spat a thick gobbet of black phlegm onto the floor and let out a furious, ear-splitting shriek. The servants of the corpse-god had broken into her home, butchered her children, destroyed her work and secured themselves a fate worth than death.

“Fools!” She cried out, summoning the remainder of her will to push her words into the souls of every being that sullied her home, “Can’t you see what you have done? You have doomed us all! Only I have the power to protect us from my master! You blind, misguided fools!”

Pale green spectres danced around her like a children’s playground game, taunting and mocking. The asteroid shook violently, a hungry stomach anticipating a meal. Warp fire poured from the void in the centre of her forehead as she lashed out at things imperceivable to the mortal eye.

Interrogator Dune slumped against an oily metal ladder. He was as battered and broken, forcing himself onwards despite the daemonic venom coursing through his veins. Above him was the platform the conduit was operating from before it was annihilated by lance fire and a strafing run from an inquisitorial Valkyrie.

He couldn’t take her alone, and the other agents he had encountered couldn’t be trusted to back him up. His splinter pistol was running low, and would it even do anything? He had watched a trained assassin try to take her out, only to recoil in terror and flee for their life.

His hand rested on his belt in exasperation, feeling a familiar shape on his fingertips. Realisation slowly crept across the scars of his face. The gift from his master!

He snapped the psyk-out grenade from its webbing and felt its weight. This had been given to him when he attained his rank, and carried it with him for over a decade. He muttered a prayer of thanks under his breath and activated the fuse rune.

With the last of his strength he pulled himself from the support of the ladder and into the open for a clear throw. The storm raged overhead. The witch was surrounded by warp lightning, screeching in anguish. Chaos spawn bore down on them.

He roared, drowning out the storm; “Mother One-Eye! You have been weighed, and you have been found wanting!”

And the grenade left his fingers.

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Debriefing

Mother of Mercy was a 1-day 54mm Inquisitor open event held at Warhammer World in Nottingham on November 18th 2017 and ran by the Conclave Inquisitor community.

It followed the potentially calamitous events of a powerful witch trying to cut off two co-dependent sectors from each other with great warp storms. It was set on the station of Mercy, an archipelago of asteroids and docking platforms lashed together with great chains, far away from help or support of the character’s usual network of spies and agents. You can get the whole brief that was handed out to the players on the day here.

Over a dozen people gathered on the day  with beautiful painted warbands, some made specially for the event, and the whoops and hollers of the day attracted dozens more to our tables to stare at the funny sized models and the giant scratch-built 54mm valkyrie. Thanks to the efforts of one of our community we also had leaflets to hand out to onlookers about the game and how they could get involved. If even one person discovered a new passion for the quirky narrative skirmish wargame then it would have been a success.

The day was spread across four of Warhammer World’s “feature boards”, set amid the noisy backdrop of their annual 40k Doubles tournament. It worked out well, with three boards being used for games and the final board being used as the inevitable ‘overflow’ at these kinds of events – a storage for spare models and collections of character sheets.

Next time I’ll make sure not to double book during another busy event so we can snag a few of the ‘plain’ boards. We had the perfect number of people this time, but it would have been nice to have some backup boards to run some extra games on for latecomers.

The day was run across 3 games: two smaller games and a finale on the epic mining facility board. That is a schedule that has worked well for these events in the past and I didn’t want to mess with it. One element that is always a conundrum is how to run the finale game. In some events we’ve had a mega-board with every player present, in some events we’ve had no finale at all,just another opportunity to score points or victory tokens and have a wrap-up in the bar afterwards.

This time I wanted to trial something a little different, using elements I’ve pinched from previous events. Throughout the day, players fought to complete universal primary objectives and were given secret secondary objectives to attempt as well, scoring you Victory Points that would affect whether your warband made it to the finale board or not. Anyone who didn’t make it to the finale board got to play on a satellite board for either control of a valkyrie or the targeting systems for an orbital lance weapon. The idea being you could still affect the finale even if you weren’t placed on that board.  Sprinkled in as well were some resource cards to shake up the early games, such as affecting deployment or rival warbands equipment.

Learning points

It worked well for the most part, and although the feedback we received afterwards was very positive it did highlight some flaws in the formula that would need to be addressed before running a similar event;

  • There was not enough ambiguity. Inquisitor thrives in the uncomfortable grey areas between right and wrong. When writing this event, I concentrated too much on what I wanted to happen rather than present a situation and ask people to pick sides. During many of the warm-up missions, warbands often discovered they didn’t really need to fight over the objective, and many games almost ended up with a mutual stalemate.
  • There were not enough bad guys. Linked to the first point, but I had hoped there would be more outright villains turning up on the day to counteract the lack of ambiguity. In retrospect I should have put out a casting call for baddies to attend the event as well, rather than relying on people mulling over the (not very tricky) moral conundrum of whether to save the sector or not.
  • The finale formula needs reworking. The principle of earning points to a finale board is sound, but the satellite boards finished up much quicker than the overall finale, leaving many feeling a bit let down. One of the suggestions would be to have three simultaneous finales at once, three maguffins that must be stopped to ensure victory, rather than one big maguffin and two helper boards.
The agents who made it to the finale

Final thoughts

All in all I had great fun running the event, and I’d like to think people who attended had fun as well. There are hundreds of pictures still being edited ready for uploading and I’ll be doing breakdowns of some of the scenarios and characters over the coming months to fill these hallowed Dreadquill halls.

Thanks to everyone for coming and keeping the hobby alive, and here’s to seeing you all at the next one!

+++++++++

The explosion had knocked Dune unconscious. The last thing he remembered seeing was the form of Old Mother One-Eye being catastrophically ripped apart in a fury of psychic energy.

He was covered in dust and ash and the lair filled with the shouts of survivors. The air was calm, and although heavy with soot, seemed far easier to breathe in.

It was done. The sector had been saved. The Throat would remain open for humanity to come and go as it pleases, just as the God Emperor intended.

He coughed a mix of blood and ichor onto the metal platform and tried to pull himself up, but his strength had left him.

Stood above him was a blurry figure. Dune’s eyesight hadn’t fully recovered yet, but even blinking through tears and ash he could recognise the silhouette of that damned hat anywhere. The figure extended a hand.

“Howdy!”

Meanwhile, on the Bench: TJ Razor

This week’s theme is Space Thugs, and you don’t get much thuggier or spacier than TJ Razor. A man whom you could strip naked, beat bloody, interrogate for days in a cold brig-cube, finally turning your back only to find a knife stuck in it.

He’s a member of the Pursers Grim, a loose organisation of void-faring racketeers and shakedown artists, often used as a source of intelligence by organisations on both sides of the law if the coin is right. It is said there isn’t a ship in the sector that doesn’t have a Purser on board.

TJ relies on quick wits and quicker hands to stay one step ahead of his quarry, and always has a trick up his sleeve if he finds his back against the wall. That trick, however, is normally another knife. He’s a man of simple pleasures.

As with many of my Inquisitor projects, TJ started off as a totally different concept – an elegant swordsman in the employ of a fancy Inquisitor. What differed is that the parts remained almost completely unchanged while he languished on a shelf for 9 months, only adding the stick grenade and shoulder pad to complete the image.

It wasn’t until we had sunk quite a few hours into a new Rogue Trader campaign that the Pursers Grim faction became a little more fleshed out, and I wanted to have a 54mm representative for our games of Inquisitor. I had a dig through the Box of Shame and found this guy, so he was swiftly rebased onto something a little more space station-y to fit in with the other themed gangers I was building.

I was always a fan of the pose – Sergeant Stone’s legs are very dynamic but can be tricky to build a model that doesn’t look awkward with such a dramatic lunge. The arm reaching across his body to draw a blade gave the model oodles of character, and despite trying dozens of different permutations of sidearm, accessories, extra weapons and such, it was the simplicity of two knives that really worked for me.

NB: As an important pedantic note, I know he doesn’t have a sheath for the knife in his left hand. I couldn’t find one of a convincing size that would fit anywhere on the model and not detract from the flow or silhouette. Fight me. 

To my undying shame, this was the state he remained for another 5 months. I blocked out the colours and had a vague idea in my head of what I was going for. The orange jacket was going to be some sort of repurposed criminal fatigues from his penal colony days, and the shirt underneath was going to be a leather jacket or padded vest to keep him from freezing over in the chilly underbelly of voidships. The stripey trousers are from a classic piece of 40k artwork (that currently escapes me) with a Rogue Trader wearing striped trousers. I don’t know what it was about this image that screamed 18th Century sea faring and naval combat, but I had to replicate it. I knew I wanted him pale as well, from a life lived away from the sun but also covered in gang tattoos, the ridiculous OTT type that you see in buzzfeed articles that you aren’t convinced aren’t photoshopped.

I ran out of motivation at this point realising the sheer amount of hours I would need to apply in one sitting to get the freehand tattoos looking the way I wanted. I also noticed that I had assembled the model incorrectly, and sculpted the arm joins to look like they went underneath the vest rather than connect to it. Pretty harmless when there’s no paint on the model, but after some block colours went on I realised that his shirt has a deep v-neck, and to combine it with the fabric on his arms gives him a weird leather long-sleeve deep neck shirt thing that I couldn’t be bothered to strip, resculpt and fix.

Signing myself up to run an Inquisitor day, “Mother of Mercy” in November seemed to be the trick to get my unmotivated ass out of the gutter and start finishing some models. I blew the dust off him, touched up his base coats and gave him a good couple of washes while I looked up some interesting prison tattoos.

I had a hard time getting the stripes on his trousers straight, but I was quite pleased with how they came out overall. The skin tattoos were an absolute nightmare, built up with painstaking layer upon layer of slightly darker shades of skin colour. I didn’t realise how tricky it would be to get a convincing head tattoo without covering the whole head, nor did it work when I tried to do scribbles and squiggles to “look like” tattoos from a distance. I had to knuckle down and freehand tiny tattoos on his tiny knuckles.

After the agony of freehand, the rest was a joy to touch up, and I’m very pleased with how he came out in the end. As I was painting, I was trying to come up with an interesting edge for the tabletop. Things like the Blade Master special rule and a high Weapon Skill were a given, but I wanted something that set him apart from the stereotypical knife-wielding maniacs.

I borrowed the “Always Has Another Knife” rule from the Community Special Abilities page which seemed fitting, but wanted something to underline the voidbelly stab-or-be-stabbed mentality. I thought about an ability that allowed him to make a free throwing knife attack if he chooses to be pinned while being shot at, injuring or at least distracting the shooter long enough to make a getaway or get stuck into combat. I like the idea, but it needs a bit of playtesting before I’m happy to write it up here.

All in all I’m very happy with how he came out, and I’m looking forward to doing a few more gangers and thugs from our little spit of space. Now all he needs is a battle report to star in…

Meanwhile, on the bench: Sulphia “Sulph” Caliver, Naval Armsman

Sulphia Caliver, known simply as ‘Sulph’ to her comrades, is a veteran naval armsman sworn to serve the Yule Dynasty, an ancient and powerful Rogue Trader Household that has close ties with the Inquisition. She has served the Warrant Holder for many years, earning her trust and a place on her personal retinue when House Yule is called to serve the Emperor at the behest of the Inquisition.

She is a brute of a woman, decked out in heavy flak armour and carrying weapons that reflect who she is – vicious, reliable and heavy duty. In the confines of cramped voidship corridors and boarding gangways, you don’t need complex fighting styles or fancy weapons to win the day – simply cold steel and a strong fighting arm.

Some early WIP shots before she got her extra details added

The model started out life more as a guardsman, a simple kitbash with Sergeant Stone’s legs and Slick Devlan’s body. Back then she was a he, and he was equipped with a standard lasgun and the infamous shouty head of Sergeant Black. He was only bluetacked together, but there was something about the pose of a flak-armoured warrior barreling forwards that really appealed to me. There was a ‘leader’ assembled as well, reaching for a sword and wearing a very fancy bicorn hat, but that will be a MOTB for another time. I liked the momentum of the model, but I never had any motivation to do anything extra to him, and he sat in my Box of Shame for months.

Roll forward to the (relatively) present day, and this lot on ebay comes to my attention. It seems in my brief 54mm hiatus, 3D printing kicked off and suddenly my niche modelling hobby was being bolstered by fresh kits and awesome new weapons. You can get the full Dreadquill run-down of the kit here.

Fawning over the new weapons I was formulating all manner of impossible projects, when I surreptitiously pulled out a few old projects from the Box of Shame and dry-fitted some of the guns. The one that was eventually used is, to my understanding, intended to be a grenade launcher, but one of my friends asked if it was some kind of giant shotgun, and that turned the whole narrative on its head.

Shotcannons are described as much larger variants of a regular shotgun that fire a huge shell (nearly twice the normal size) and can lay waste to large hordes of attackers. They are considered ‘support’ weapons in boarding parties, and I couldn’t think of anything cooler or more appropriate for an Inquisitor character, someone who specialises in brutal boarding actions and carries a gun that can explode a man into a burst of shredded clothing and flesh. What more could a girl want?

With the new angle of ‘naval armsman’ rather than generic guardsman or bodyguard, the project motored ahead. First thing to change was the head, the shouty guardsman head wouldn’t cut it. I had an old open-faced head from the Lucretia Bravus model, one that I’ve never actually used in a model. I didn’t really like the silhouette, it was too sleek and elegant, a far cry from the chunky combat of the 41st millennium. It looked perfect on her though, and I imagined some kind of huge welding-mask-type shutter being propped open that she could slam down when it was Go Time.

The armour was a joy to sculpt. I’ve always been a fan of the Elysian Drop Troopers, and the padded fatigues on their arms and legs was an aesthetic I wanted to replicate. I tried to keep the size of the pads as close to the flak armour on the body to bring the parts of the model together to look a more coherent whole, like it was an actual uniform that had been repaired a number of times rather than a disparate series of armour plates slapped together.

All the accessories were umm’d and ahh’d over for quite some time. She needed at least one melee weapon, and I felt an axe or mace would be suitably savage. No fancy sword fighting nonsense here. I settled on a chaos marauder axe head and shaft, with the handle being replaced from a 40k power sword to give it a bit more of a futuristic feel, rather than wrapped leather.

There was a toss-up between backup weapons too, I felt compelled to try and give her a reload for her shotcannon but a) I couldn’t find a suitable part to represent a whole new drum mag and b) didn’t feel it was in her aesthetic to reload such a bulky weapon. I see her firing off as many rounds as she can before closing with the enemy, hurling the thing like an angry fire extinguisher and getting stuck in with axe and boot. A nice big revolver strapped to her thigh would fit the bill of backup weapon.

The last key element I wanted for her was a fully sealed combat suit. Her attire doesn’t scream ‘space suit’, but I wanted there to be some way of her surviving emergency decompression, low oxygen or chemical warfare. Her gear is primitive but robust, so she would need suitable breathing apparatus reflective of that. The original plan was to have a mouthpiece attached to her chest or breast, like Forest Whittaker’s character in Rogue One, so she could quickly mask up in the event of an emergency.

At this point though, her arms and gun were well attached to her body, and I could find no way of making a suitable mask to hang from that part of her without it looking cluttered and ugly. I had a root around in my bits box and salvaged an Imperial Guard flamer tank, some guitar wire and a heavily shaved-down 40k space marine helmet to form a rebreather. I figured she would unhook it from her belt and clip it into place underneath her boarding mask to form a fully sealed helmet. It won’t help you with any space walks, but it might just help you survive long enough in a pinch.

Then it was just adding gubbins – a few pouches here and there, a grenade on the belt and sculpting in some straps to attach it all together and she was done! The name is from an idea that on her ship of birth, the ship’s macrocannons were independently operated by different family units, each competing to who can have the faster loading solutions and fiercely protective of their family’s cannon. Each family unit would have names derived from ancient Terran warfare; Caliver, Bulletson, Sabot and Saker.

All that’s left is to come up with a colour scheme and mock up some stats for her. A full study will inevitably come along in the future, but my mind went wandering about how best to represent her signature weapon on the Inquisitor battlefield; the naval shotcannon.

Many among the Inquisitor community have adopted MarcoSkoll’s quite excellent Revised Inquisitor Armoury, as although the original rules are robust enough to play with ‘out of the box’, almost two decades of playtesting have brought up a few issues of variety and balance of weapons. Marco took it upon himself to rewrite the entire armoury with the benefit of hindsight, community feedback and oodles of weapon knowledge, so ranged weapons all have a distinctive flavour and punch to them.

Having a browse through, I noticed there was an absence of ‘stupid big shotgun designed to turn men into paté’, so I had a go at improvising rules for on one using the options that were available to me.

Naval Shotcannon

Using the stats of a full auto combat shotgun, with the large calibre and drum mag upgrades:

Type Range Firing mode Accuracy Damage Shots Reload Encumbrance Special Rarity
Basic E Sg/Sm(2/4) D6+2* 14 3 50 DM, Jam Prone UnCm

The special rules below have been factored into the statline above.

Scatter Shot (Common)

“A very standard loading, a standard shot shell fires a small cloud of lead projectiles at the target. They have poor armour defeating capabilities and the projectiles rapidly disperse, but the effect of multiple projectiles impacting in the same instant can be especially effective against un-armoured or lightly armoured targets”.

Range E; D6+1 damage

*Multiple hits (1 hit per Degree of Success up to a maximum of 3 hits, all to the same location)

Large Calibre

+1 Damage. Gains Considerable Recoil rule . +5 EncPump Action, Lever Action, Auxiliary and Dual Magazine shotgun magazine sizes reduced by 1. (-1 to both Magazines on the Dual Mag)Semi-Auto, Auto and Bullpup Auto Magazine sizes reduced by 2.

Drum Magazine (DM)

A very easy modification to fit, as it’s a simple magazine swap. Weapons which can take this modification are marked with “DM” under the Notes column.

The weapon’s magazine capacity is doubled, Enc is increased by +5, the Reload stat by +1 and the weapon gains the Jam Prone special rule.

More 54mm guns comparison

Another day, another weapons pack! This time from some friendly Hungarian casters on ebay. They are perfect casts with practically no flash on them at all, and they even include some legal-eagle-baiting iconography on some of the guns for added authenticity.

The heavy bolter comes with a box and belt feed to choose from, and although the belt is provided in a straight line it wouldn’t be hard to bend it into position after a long bath in hot water.

The guns themselves are awesome, there’s a great variety of normal, weird and wonderful, from pistols to rifles to heavy weapons. My only complaint is that there isn’t enough ‘normal’ weapons for my taste – 54mm heavy bolters are cool, but I now own four of them, and I have no plans to start tooling up a heavy weapons team any time soon. I’d love multiple las pistols or bolters, but I’m not willing to shell out again for even more special weapons I won’t use.

Give me more weapons I can equip my thugs and goons with – shotguns, busted las rifles, heavy calibre pistols, autoguns, etc. I mentioned this to the seller and they’re looking at building more variety packs if this sells well, so watch this space!

Shapeways 3D printed 54mm weapon comparison

A few weeks back I saw this pack of 54mm weapons on Shapeways and I impulse-bought a set for three reasons;

  1. 54mm scale sci fi weapons have not been commercially available for almost 9 years
  2. People who make these kinds of things need to be supported, so there are more of these kinds of things in the future
  3. I’d not had a rainy day in a while to spend my rainy day fund on

(Thanks to gpemby on The Conclave for the heads up and pointing me in the right direction)

I must admit, when I first saw them laid out on the forum user’s mat I was a little skeptical – many of them looked too big to work, even at ‘heroic’ scale. The pump shotty in particular looked almost 20% bigger than the vanilla Inquisitor pump shotty, and I thought it might look goofy in 54mm hands.

I did some dry runs with bluetack and I think the results speak for themselves. I am overall very pleased with the entire kit! I’m looking forward to dry-fitting some test models with some of these pieces (I never had an inclination to make a graviton gun-armed model until now…). Some of them are a little chunky for my tastes, the semi-auto scoped rifle and pump shotty for example, but it just means they have to be held by chunky hands rather than dainty ‘true-scale’ hands.

All in all an excellent pack, I look forward to seeing what the user comes up with in the future!

Primaris Space Marine 54mm weapon comparison

I’ve been eyeing up the Primaris Marines from GW’s new Dark Imperium box set with green eyes, partially because I’ve always been a fan of true-scale marines and partially because of those smexy new bolt weapons they’re all carrying. Given their new size, they *might* just be useful enough at 54mm scale to act as real bolters, rather than the current weenie 40k bolters in the massive ham-hands of Inquisitor models.

I borrowed a bolt rifle arm off a friend and did some bluetack and photoshopping, and I think the results speak for themselves.

Primaris Bolt Rifle 54mm dry fit
Primaris Bolt Rifle 54mm las gun comparison
Primaris Bolt Rifle 54mm photoshop mashup
Primaris Bolt Rifle 54mm weapons scale comparison

I’ll be keeping my eyes to the internet for anyone selling Primaris weapons by the sprue I think!