A View from the Bridge: Tales of Onus

Sergeant Caleb gazed out into the inky abyss. Frore, the world he stood on only days ago, was now just a puncture wound of shimmering blue light. He held a stub round up against the window and watched the planet shrink into nothingness. A bullet bigger than a planet – he thought to himself – why Caleb, that almost sounds profound.

He looked over his shoulder at the entrance to the command bridge. Great bronze doors loomed over him, vault-like in construction and lavishly decorated. A grand mural engraved into it depicts a scene of copper-coloured warriors laying waste to warlocks and sorcerers. The voidship’s name is carved into marble – the Bronze Harvest.

Caleb hated void travel. The constant noise and alarms, having to suck down someone’s recycled stink breath and the terrifyingly thin skin that separates twenty thousand souls from a horrifying, unnatural end. He found himself tapping on the plas-glass with the bullet. Just how hard would he have to hit it to break it?

“Missing home already, Sergeant?” An impossibly calm, soft voice cut through the chaff of noise from the great voidship. It chilled Caleb to his core.

He span on his heels. Down the corridor strode a tall, cloaked figure, moving effortlessly and silently. His face was skull-like – his skin pale and sallow, his eyes sunken and his head completely hairless. He was the visage of death. Not the violent, bloodthirsty, screaming death that all guardsmen knew. No, this was the death they all feared – the one that came swiftly and silently in the night.

The figure wiped a bead of sweat from his brow with a long, bony finger, producing a tall peaked cap from the recesses of his cloak and placing it carefully on his head.

Caleb mustered a salute and pushed out the bare minimum of respectful greetings through gritted teeth. “Commissar.”

By now the Commissar had glided gracefully next to the Sergeant and stared out the window alongside him. His eyes were as dark as the void, but with no glimmer of light in the distance.

“So good of you to join us to keep us updated on your failures,” The Commissar spoke in deafeningly hushed tones. “It’s always better to soften the blow in person, mm?”

“Powers damn it Jeremiah, it was a trap and you know it!” Caleb snapped, “You’ve read the reports!

“Aahh yes.” The Commissar began tapping on the window with his forefinger. It made the same noise as the bullet. “The reports that say you were surprised not once, but twice by the same acolytes, and while they were wearing their Sunday Best, no less.”

“By the Saints, do you think I don’t know what’s at stake here?” Caleb was seething. “Don’t you think that if I’d had even just a handful of my Ultraviolet cell instead of those Borzoi Hiver cretins I’d have cleared house and secured the Pattern? Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought someone was setting me up to fai-”

A deep boom issues from behind them, drowning the Sergeant out. They both turn to watch the elaborate series of locks and bolts disengage with the percussive tempo of a marching band. With a shudder, one of the doors opens a sliver.

A young girl steps out, barely in her twenties, dressed in an immaculately pressed Navy Officer’s uniform. She holds herself like a woman twice her age and four times her experience and addresses them both.

“Sergeant Caleb, Commissar Krell, the Inquisitor will see you now.”

Death of a Nobleman: Tales of Onus

A tray of measuring tools clatters to the ground. A boney finger readjusts a pair of half-moon spectacles on the bridge of a long crooked nose. Scrivener Malkin pores over the transcription scroll in his hands, a long ream of parchment that snakes around his small chamber and terminates at the vox-receiver. It has been furiously producing vox reports for over an hour now, its transcription arms squealing under the sudden workload.  

He had read enough. His pallid cheeks had drained of what little colour they had left. He gathers as much as he can manage and bunching the bottom of his robe together in one hand, stuffs the transcription into the cavity with the other. Holding the bundle of robe and scroll close to his chest he barrels out into the dark stone corridor.  

He staggers his way through the Lithologist Guild undercroft. The thick parchment had been re-purposed from heavy duty field seismograph readouts, and he finds himself stumbling every few steps. The sound of his feet slapping against the smooth floor echoes down the hallway.  

“Master! Master!” He bursts into Lithologist Tamfrey’s quarters in a flurry of paper. Tamfrey barely looks up from her quillwork.

“What is it now, Malkin?” She responds in a throaty rasp. “I thought I told you to stop scrubbing the vox network for data, you know full well we don’t have the resources and if anyone finds out we’ve-”

“Lord Hojo is dead!” He exclaims breathlessly, cutting her off mid-chastisement. “There was a gas leak on board his train and-”

In a blink Tamfrey was within inches of Malkin’s face, thumbing through the readout for herself. Malkin is breathless at how fast his crippled master in a wheelchair can move.

“Tell me, scrivener,” she scrutinises the quivering scribe with her good eye, “this engine, millennia old, the pride and joy of the Mechanicus of Forlorn Hope, archeotech from the Golden Age, a vehicle that has never once stopped for refuelling or repairs since records began – you want me to believe it runs on gas?” The sounds of her bones creaking as she moved was painfully audible.

Malkin tries to suggest a half-baked theory in consolation but is cut short by the spittle of his master’s conjecture.

“No no no, this is not an accident,” she continues, her good eye glazing over, “This is a power play alright, but by whom? House Chosokabe? House Cutter? The Glassmakers’ Guild?”  

She postulates loudly while sifting through papers, each one headed with a different noble household crest. Malkin watches, wide-eyed and dumbfounded.

“Whoever it is will come looking for us sooner or later, such is the price for corruption and moral bankruptcy.” Tamfrey continues, sweeping piles of Hojo-branded documents into Malkin’s arms.

“Burn it all.”

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: 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!

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: 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!

MOTB: Ogryn Butcher

Raaaargh!

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!

MOTB: Dinosaurs!

Finished product first!

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!

Yeah Boye!

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!

Pack colours

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.

Let’s see some pictures!

MOTB: Hare Mask

Finished product first

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…

Would you kindly source your references in future?

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).

Now, I think she needs a bit of muscle…