As part of a recent scenery purchase from a local terrain company, I also snagged some obelisks from Wargame Model Mods’ weird and wonderful Necrotech range. I’d been meaning to do some proper weird alien terrain as a palette cleanser from all the underhive grime I’d been building, and these looked just the ticket.
Getting more for your money
I wanted enough to reasonably scatter across a 6×4 board, and one pack of Obelisk blocks would give me plenty to litter the tabletop with. They arrived in a series of neat little bundles, already punched out.
They fit together very pleasingly, and I was surprised at how big they were. I didn’t get much of a sense of scale from the original images, and even the smaller blocks were quite imposing against a 28mm guardsman.
I hadn’t read the description properly and didn’t realise that half the panels had no detail on them – presumably so you could stick them together into a mega-block like the one advertised.
I wasn’t going to do that with this set (although I may do one in future), I wanted as many individual blocks as possible to have as much variation on the tabletop, including some half-buried in the ground.
I’d need to come up with some clever trick to detail the plain panels I had.
The kit came with an assortment of smaller flat spacers for gluing the obelisks together into a mega-lith, but for me they would be extra panels to fill out the flat surfaces.
By taking two detailed panels and cutting them up, I could arrange those cut out pieces across four plain panels. With some help from some spacers, I now have four detailed panels!
As an absolute mad lad I also own an MDF bits box, filled with the weird inserts and offcuts from MDF sprues that I use for detailing and greebling. They came in perfectly handy for this task.
I picked out a collection of necron-looking bits that would give me some nice clean edges to show up the colour scheme I was planning.
All the main blocks were assembled first to get an idea of how much flat space I needed to cover. And then a terrible thought struck me. What if I could make one block… into two?
Several intense hacking minutes later and I’d made four bits of scatter out of two obelisks. I wanted them to look sunk in the sand, either abandoned or just being unearthed.
I stuck them to some round bases and smeared a load of pre-mixed filler around the join to look like a buildup of sand.
Some of them got extra smaller blocks added on top to imitate the obelisks at different stages of decay. It was also at this point that it really hit home how big all of these were going to be, and how tricky they would be to paint…
And that was all of them assembled! A thoroughly enjoyable kit to build and very modular, especially if you’re a hobby sadist like myself who likes to squeeze more content out of their kits.
The only thing I’d like to see moving foward is the option to purchase either/or when it comes to the non-detailed plates. Perhaps an option to upgrade/replace to fully detailed plates so you can build 16 obelisks out of the box, as currently you can only “technically” build 8 fully detailed obelisks, with the other 8 being blank.
Great if you want to build a chunky obelisk with only a handful of outward facing sides, but a fully detailed plate option would be ideal!
Every artist has their “aha” moment when it comes to new tools. Mine came during this project. Specifically, “Aha, I should have bought an airbrush (and pracised with it) a year ago, because holy dicks this would have been a breeze”.
Instead, I gave myself RSI and several grumpy weeks of not being able to paint anything. Note to future self – when your wrist starts to hurt – STOP PAINTING.
Lines upon lines upon lines
I am so glad I persisted however – the overall effect is exactly what I’d hoped. I must have spent at least an evening on each block, repeating the same recipe over and over. Extremely satisfying to paint, so much so that I found it easy to get carried away into the wee hours and cramp my wrist…
Generous undercoat in matt black, two or three coats in some places. MDF is thirsty for paint, so I did a few passes (letting it dry in between) to make sure it was fully saturated.
Thicc line of Caliban Green
Thin line of Warpstone Glow
Tickle the corners and fill the shapes with Scorpion Green.
The last paint is OOP, but moot green didn’t cut it. I wanted an acidic, almost fluro yellow/green for the final stage to give it a proper glow.
The bases were textured paint, then undercoated with Zandri Dust and drybrushed with Bleached Bone, topped with cheeky grass tufts.
The colours for the base were decided before I bought the battlemat, and given they’ll most likely be deployed against this background, I’m tempted to go back over the bases and darken them down a bit to match. A project for another time, I think!
I mentioned previously about making a huge obelisk rather than multiple smaller ones, and it’s something I’m genuinely considering for the future. For now, my existing kits can be bundled together fairly convincingly to create weird looking structures.
And, naturally, it works great at 54mm scale. Perfect for Inquisitor!
Not much else to say on the painting – simple scheme, tedious to apply, but looks ace when it’s done. I bet it would have been so flippin’ easy to do with an airbrush too. Oh well, I know for next time!
On with the scale shots.
What a wonderful little kit this is! Aside from some self-inflicted enthusiasm injuries, these have been a joy to build and paint. They’re ideal for all the games I play – Necromunda, Inquisitor, a few TTRPGs like Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader or Wrath and Glory, and they’re super convenient to store.
I’ve already got my eye set on some more obelisks for future projects, and I’ve got a large necron building from the same range that needs photographing, so watch this space!
I picked all these up from Wargaming Model Mods for under £20, so go toss come coins to a small independent business.
This is prototype Arco-Flagellant X206 – the product of some late-night radical brainstorming something along these lines:
I knew I wanted a melee monster for the warband. The Zeta-phi “Beetle-back” forms an immovable front line and Magos Vacillus provides ranged support, so I needed something to round out their battlefield roles.
I had lots of Arco-Flagellant bits floating around (hah!) as I never made one for myself. I always found them grossly overpowered for average play, but I loved their horrifying aesthetic.
I ended up with lots of Talos bits left over from building the Zeta-phi servitor, including an uncomfortable amount of neat-looking tentacles. The arms were a perfect fit for the arco-flagellant body, but I wasn’t happy with the running legs. Unless…
The hovering base of the Talos was a perfect fit, and filled with the remaining tentacles and weird fluid vials gave it the perfect Mechanicus side-project aesthetic. It even encouraged me to model it in-flight, as though it was sweeping through the halls like an angry electric squid. Very big Matrix Sentinel vibes.
Very long pins were put through the two tentacles touching the base (with a LOT of superglue) and the resulting pose is surprisingly stable. A little mechanicus backpack covered all the injector holes that come with the torso, and he’s ready for the rattlecan.
A prototype paint scheme
Although I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about painting all that naked flesh (I tossed around the ideas of electoos but seriously, ain’t nobody got time for that), the base colour schemes were already decided by the previous two lads.
The big stinker was figuring out how I was going to do the tentacles without destroying my will to live. I must have done about five or six repaints before settling on the ‘inner glow’ look here.
A few choice pipes were picked out for the yellow/dark grey stripy treatment, as I enjoy hazard stripes as a spot colour (and fits with the Mechanicus aesthetic quite nicely). In the grim darkness of the far future, there are still sacred health and safety tenets that must be unquestioningly followed.
One colour scheme involved lots of electric blue. Although it was different, it was a pig to paint, and really went against the colour scheme. I stuck with the ‘mystery green fluid’ aesthetic that seems to power all the weapons in the warband – the unnatural fit ties everything together visually, as well as reinforces the themes of being powered by something inhuman.
I’ve toyed with some ideas for how he’ll be on the battlefield, but the bottom line is moving fast and hitting hard. His main unique selling point is swimming through the air on electro-aetheric propulsion, so obstacles and pitfalls aren’t really a concern. Unless of course, someone has a haywire grenade…
To balance out his massive mobility, he’ll be significantly toned down from a ‘true’ arco-flagellant. Of course he’ll still be an electric murder machine, but he won’t have all the combat drugs that can be activated to turn him into horrifying 200-something strength monstrosity that melts space marines.
(Also because I don’t like calculating all the new stats on the turn you want them to kill something ayyy lmao)
As for defence, I’m on de fence (hah!). I’ve got two visions for him, and I don’t know which would be more fun to play with/against. The first involves him moving silently – a tentacled horror stalking darkened hallways, barely giving off its presence save for a few dancing lights like a deep sea predator.
The other involves manipulating the unnatural energies into a crackling force field – he’ll be far more resilient but stealth won’t be an option. Instead he’ll be more like a frightening living antibody – an electric nightmare that beelines for its target and doesn’t stop until they are subdued or disintegrated.
Given how this electric lad sat on my bench for 3-4 years before I got round to finishing him, I’m extremely happy how he turned out. You can see from the WIP photo that he was basically all finished, I just ran out of ideas on how to fill all the little injection holes, whether I’d give him back tentacles, make them from guitar string, whatever. He just needed a little backpack, and that was all the motivation I needed to start slinging some paint on him.
I’m very excited to get him on the tabletop (one day!) as I feel like he rounds the team off nicely. Now all I need to do is finish off the big guy himself…
The main antagonists of the campaign are a radical Mechanicus sect headed by Magos Biologis Lingus Quinn, who is very interested in ++++REDACTED++++ in the campaign. His hobbies include tentacles, electricity, and vats of green goo. He surrounds himself with prototypes, experiments, and like-minded tech adepts who can be trusted to not ask too many questions in the quest for knowledge. Vacillus is just such a like-minded tech adept.
Evolution of a miniature
Vacillus was one of the first models I ever scratch-built back in the noughties, starting life as just a head and an arm. You can tell how old it is, 720p was the native resolution for whatever device I took this photo on.
It was inspired by an iconic piece of imagery from the Inquisitor rulebook, and armed with a block of green stuff and some vaseline, I set to work.
He ended up as a cool Adeptus Mechanicus character (originally called Lingus Quinn!) who worked for my own warband’s Inquisitor. He ended up being the villain of so many games of Dark Heresy that he ended up splitting off from the Inquisitor to do his own thing, and his notoriety was born.
I wanted to keep the name but change the model for something a little more imposing, so old Quinn didn’t have a purpose any more. I figured what could be more honourable than giving him a refurb and having him fight alongside his namesake?
To fit the theme he needed a few adjustments and a new paintjob, but I had plenty of Talos bits still lying around…
This must have been one of those beginners’ luck sculpts, as I’ve struggled to do anything as good as this since! Nothing needed changing on the body or left arm, I only wanted to swap his gun out for something more imposing and give him some new gubbins and cables.
I feel much more confident installing cables on models now, and I feel they give that added *chef kiss* to Mechanicus miniatures especially.
I’d picked up a few Talos kits in the past for various conversions – they are an absolute godsend for Mechanicus/Dark Mechanicum projects – and I had one of the cool goo-spitter arms handy.
I loved how it fit on his arm (once I’d popped off his drum stubber) and gave him a really weird “admin guy with prototype mega-stapler” vibe that I think perfectly suited the warband.
I added a few pipes and vials from the same kit, and used the Greenstuff World pipe roller to make the rest (which is another Mechanicus fan must-have).
I wasn’t quite sure what would be in the pipes and vials, but they’d be painted the same eerie green as the Zeta-Phi Servitor’s vials to help tie the warband together.
I was still on the fence about what the weapon would actually be. Initially I was thinking some kind of acid thrower, using a combination of the acid spit and flamer rules, but I was also toying with a Neural Shredder as they don’t get a lot of table time.
Then my mind wandered into dangerous territory – perhaps it’s an experimental mutagen that helps flesh bind with metal? He could act as handyman/medic for the servitor minions, while having a wicked spray weapon that could potentially prompt victims to roll on the minor mutations table… Is that too evil?
The backpack was made from some kind of heavy weapon platform from Anvil Industry, picked up during one of their grab-bag sales. It had a pleasing amount of greebles on it to look like a tech power pack with side tank/ammunition storage for his super soaker.
The extra mechadendrite is from the classic Inquisitor range, bent slightly to my purposes. It balances the model out nicely, and I figured he’d want more than one spare hand, what with the squirt gun taking up the entire right hand side of his body.
The power pack on his front is a backpack from the plastic Skitarii range, chopped down a bit to hide its origins, which gave him some nice detail on the front that would take paint well.
As for his paint job, I’d already done most of the hard work with the Zeta-Phi Servitor hashing out the colour scheme, so it was a simple job to apply that palette to this guy.
I’m very happy with how he turned out! It was a bit nerve-wracking taking apart one of my favourite models, but the glow-up he got was well worth the risk. I’m undecided about his backstory and main armament, but it doesn’t look like the Backstreet Boys World Tour is letting up any time soon, so I’m in no rush. Plenty of time to playtest, methinks…
When our Inquisitor campaign was unceremoniously cancelled last year by the Back Street Boys’ Reunion Tour, I never got round to displaying all the miniatures I had lined up. I wanted to keep them secret so I could do a Big Reveal in the campaign, but a year later, I’ve accepted that it could be another year before I’m comfortable back in a store setting breathing on each other across a table.
Time to showcase some more 54mm Inquisitor goodness!
Magos Biologis warband
The main antagonists are a radical Mechanicus sect headed by Magos Biologis Lingus Quinn, who is very interested in ++++REDACTED++++ in the campaign. His hobbies include tentacles, electricity, and vats of green goo. He surrounds himself with prototypes, experiments, and like-minded tech adepts who can be trusted to not ask too many questions in the quest for knowledge. One such prototype is the Zeta-Phi pattern Specimen Recovery Servitor.
Zeta-pHi pattern servitors
Nicknamed “Beetle-backs” for their hunched gait, these now-proscribed servitors were pioneered by the Mechanicus of the Zeta-Phi Facility on Kreato to help with their studies of the native lifeforms. While nearly all the life on the planet is microscopic parasites, gathering the rare, larger speciments required something more advanced than a bucket on a rope.
The planet’s constant lightning storms make long-range communication unreliable, so the Zeta-Phi Facility built their recovery servitors to work alone or in packs, independent of constant commands. They were built with dozens of failsafes, self-repair protocols and armed with non-lethal capture tools, so in the most cataclysmic of circumstances they would hurt nobody and/or simply return to base.
Tragically, the facility was targeted by radicals looking to destroy their research. Something about “you can’t put parasites in our food to make us work harder”. The radicals introrudced a mind-rusting agent to the facility’s organic noospheric network, polluting the machine spirit of the facility.
The only place that remained untouched was the generatorium deep beneath the facility – the plasma glow apparently staving off the worst effects of the mind-rust. The Tech Priests began to die off, and the Beetle-backs started saving them the only way they knew how.
One by one the living Tech Priests of Zeta-Phi were subdued and grafted together in a horrifying pillar of flesh, suspended above the generatorium. They were alive in the strictest technical sense, but their suffering bled back into the noospheric network and overrode the facility’s mindrusted defenses. The Zeta-Phi facility gained a tortured sentience and sealed itself off from the world while the servitors continued to keep it alive.
An Inquisitorial purge was lead into the facility a year after this tragedy occurred, burning out the mind-rust and destroying the flesh amalgam and its servitor carers. All the Zeta-Phi pattern servitors were proscribed for their abhorrent behavious and all were scheduled for incineration.
In an unrelated turn of affairs, a subsidiary of Quinn Enterprises was negotiating the contract to handle logistics for the incineration. The errant servitors were shipped off by the subsidiary, and although conflicting reports arose of delays and an additional stop-off en route to their destination, the servitors were reported as destroyed.
These machines would serve Magos Quinn’s interests perfectly.
Building the beetle-back
For my sins I have failed to get any WIP shots of these creations, so I will break down the parts as best I remember.
The bulk of this servitor is a plastic sentinel and plastic Talos kitbashed together. The legs are from the sentinel, with Talos arm-plates over the shins, and joined at the spine to the Talos body and arms.
A beacon objective marker from the Battle for Macragge box set served as a power generator and tail analogue to help balance it out a bit.
The upper half is almost completely from the Talos kit. The arms were reshuffled a bit to fit more naturally on the shoulders, and the left arm had to be rebuilt with some mystery greeble from my bits box as I’d already used the other upper arm on another project (tune in next week!).
The only Inquisitor bit used was the head – an arco-flagellant head from the Simeon 38x expansion kit with the horn filed down. A few purity seals and Imperial shoulder-pads secured the “Imperial but only just” look I was aiming for.
The base is lasercut MDF – not the ideal material to work with for a base, as its extremely porous surface makes it hard to get an even flat coat when trying to do something Necron-adjacent.
TTcombat have since discontinued this line of bases and are doing far more impressive resin versions, which I would have opted for had I started this project today, rather than a million years ago.
Armed and dangerous
This is an imposing figure, looking an Inquisitor-scale miniature in the eye, and I wanted its armament to be equally imposing. Both straight from the Talos kit, it’s equipped with a barbed grappling hook hand and a large injector needle filled with vials of green goop.
It would be easy to make a servitor with heavy armament, but I wanted this giant to be (relatively) gentle, using a range of non-lethal tools to take down opponents.
It’s not been playtested yet, but the general idea is the hook launcher would be a melee/short ranged weapon of 6″-8″. The servitor would cast it out like a fishing line at an intended target, digging into different locations to make it tricky to remove. It then reels the target in, delivers a cocktail of pacification drugs, and slings the target over its back to take home.
Although it would be a powerful (and difficult to kill) character on the tabletop, its “power” is tempered by its focus. It aims to neutralise a single target and leave, avoiding the armoured rampage that many powerful servitor characters tend to gravitate towards in Inquisitor.
I’m extremely happy with how this project came out. It was something I visualised for a Dark Heresy campaign of yesteryear and brought to the material world through plastic kits. I’m very excited to get to play with it (whenever that will be…) and even more excited to show off the whole warband together.
2020 was a hell of a year, and 2021 is looking to be more of the same. At least this time we’ve had a year to figure out how to cope better. In my case, it’s been to buy a lightbox and an LED lamp so I can actually take photos and paint during the winter months without relying on the sun like some ancient oracle.
I’ve been picking away at projects to photograph, and with so many lined up it’s time to start blogging again. First is an early Christmas present to myself – a set of Forgeworld Ruinstorm Brutes that I had been eyeing up to make Inquisitor-scale Bloodletters.
A brief brief
In the World That Was, I was halfway through my first proper Inquisitor campaign, the Gorgon Crystals, at my local store Asgard Wargames. The pandemic hit, and aside from the social, emotional and financial devastation it left (and is still leaving) in its wake, it also left my campaign grossly unfinished.
I still had the Inquisitor bug, and I’ve been having vivid hallucinations about setting up an Inquisitor livestream (but one tangent at a time…), and I had set myself a task to try and create some 54mm Daemons.
Our games of Inquisitor have lots of Ordo Malleus characters and daemon-killing toys, but rarely (if ever) does something pop up. It would be easy (albeit expensive) to just buy one of the plastic Greater Daemons and plonk it down, but it would always look a bit off – it’s just a 28mm Greater Daemon but just a bit smaller. I wanted things that looked right when scaled up a bit.
So, with this needlessly pedantic brief, I set about putting in a Forgeworld order…
Resin for the resin gods
Although they’re not a spitting image for the 28mm versions, I figured it makes them more interesting. They’re much chunkier and covered in protruding spikers – nothing like the battlefield versions you see in the pages of White Dwarf. Chaos Daemons have a few distinctive features, and as long as you can mirror those, I figure you can make just about anything look like an aligned creature of Chaos.
The elongated skull and horns were the bits I wanted to emulate – the rest of the minis were basically perfect. I had to dig through my bits box to find the perfect sets, and although I set out to try and find three identical sets of horns, I much prefer the three different heads. It makes them much more characterful!
I also gave each a unique haircut to help further split them apart. The horns are from various sources – the far left were snipped from an original metal Bloodthirster, the middle horns are from the largest horny skull from GW’s box o’ skulls, and the horns on the right are tentacles/bony growths from the plastic Chaos Spawn kit.
They were coming together excellently. The bodies needed very little doing to them – just some hot water to bend the ankles back to make them less hunched over. The sand is an attempt to emulate the weird bumpy texture on their skin.
I briefly thought about about making balls out of green stuff and gluing them on one at a time, but my sides split from laughing at myself. Even after 9 months of working from home and never leaving the house, there wasn’t enough hours in the day for that nonsense. Just slap some sand on it.
I thought about replicating the iconic blades out of plasticard, but common sense prevailed. For one, see above about good use of time, and for two, I liked they were all equipped differently. It made them easy to tell apart on the tabletop and I started conjuring up some interesting character concepts – maybe one of them was the fastest, one the strongest, one the best fighter…
The only change was to change the hammer head out for something bladed. I had a cool Khornate lance tip, but then found an OG metal Bloodthirster axe in my box (seriously where did these come from?) and it was just too good a fit to turn down.
They didn’t have much armour, which was fine from a gameplay perspective, but it meant I wasn’t going to get a lot of bronze into the colour scheme. Again, I thought about painstakingly sculpting on some bracers and anklets, maybe some rings and other piercings like the 28mm versions do. Or…
*slaps minis* these bad boys can fit so much jewellers’ chain on them.
I smeared them with some finer textured paint to break up the larger sand particles (and help them stick, I wasn’t convinced PVA on resin was a particularly tough bond). Let’s get some paint on them!
A contrast to my usual style
I figured the year of our lord 2020 was a good time to try out these new-fangled contrast paints that everyone has been banging on about. The minis are organic and almost completely one colour, which from my research was what contrast paints were practically designed to work best with. One black and red purchase later…
Holy moly! Why haven’t I used these before? One thicc coat later and pretty much all the work is done for me – 20 minutes rather than half a dozen hours of painstaking layering. The only downside I found is that they don’t handle well.
I’m an ape who doesn’t use a mini holder when painting, just my big ol’ sausage fingers, and I found the paint rubbing off where I was holding the models to rotate them. After layering over those areas with original paints that seemed to fix the problem, but it was somethign I needed to consider if I planned on using these kinds of paints on minis I expected to handle on the tabletop quite a bit.
Time to crack out the light box! About halfway through painting I realised they were missing another key Bloodletter element – a big ol’ licky tongue – so that was added with green stuff between watching paint dry.
And some scale shots…
I want to axe you a question
I layered a little extra red over the contrast paint to prevent the aforementioned rubbing off, but otherwise the only major change to the skin tone was touching up the extreme edges with orange.
The spikes were initially done with a black contrast while the red contrast was still wet, and they blended quite nicely into each other. Time saving!
I want to great axe you a question
I went with a classic look for the weapons – edge highlighting up from crimson, through orange, yellow, and finally white on the finest points.
I was mulling over the idea of having the glyphs carved into their flesh expose a lava/magma effect underneath. That seemed like a lot of effort, and then I realised that I hadn’t used ANY of the most important paint on the models – Blood for the Blood God.
I splashed a little bit in the recesses to test and it was perfect! I was worried the two shades of red wouldn’t stand out, but BftBG has a purple hue which contrasts nicely with the yellowy-orange used to highlight the scar edges.
I want to sword you a question
I wanted some fancy bases, but being a lazy-ass I wanted something I could just slap some paint on. The Chaos Waste bases from Micro Art Studio were the perfect fit to the bill, and I picked them up before Brexit made everything horrible.
Drybrushed a few cheeky shades of grey and beige, I splashed a bunch of slightly watered down BtfBG into the skully bits to make them look like horrifying charnel pools. Skulls for the skull throne!
I’m dead happy with them. They came out better than I imagined, and I already have half a dozen different scenario ideas in my head for them.
After looking at the Inquisitor ‘Build a Daemon’ articles from yesteryear’s Exterminatus magazine… wow Bloodletters are absolute shitlords on the tabletop. Maybe three of them is excessive…
Maybe it’s time to get that grey knight conversion off the starting blocks…
A while ago I become obsessed with the Yu’Vath – a long-dead Chaos-worshipping alien empire with a penchant for corruption, sorcery, and warp-based technology. They all got bumped off (supposedly…) a few thousand years ago, their empire long in decline as they had fallen to the worst of their perversions and excesses.
The only thing that remains of them are their undiscovered facilities, filled with strange technology and powerful guardians animated by warp-sorcery. The perfect Cthulhu/Necromantic crossover that can spook a 40k RPG group that thinks they’ve seen all the universe has to offer!
They originally appeared in the Rogue Trader RPGs, and I was so hooked by a particular enemy that I knew I had to assemble them. That enemy has yet to surface in any of my photos, but what I did end up with was a box of skeletons that was just begging to be turned into skeleton warriors.
Box o’ bones
I ordered a wholesale lot of cheap plastic skeletons, which came to less than a fiver including shipping (2017 was a wild time).
They came in this charming box of pepper sachets, which excitingly enough, still contained a single sachet.
Holy moly that was a lot of skeletons. It was at this point that the thought struck me to make more than one project out of these lads – even the most elaborate construction wouldn’t use up as many skeletons as there were here.
“Why not a bunch of giant skeletons?” asked my professional degree-worthy creative genius.
Building a bunch of giant skeletons
It wasn’t obvious from the pictures when I ordered them, but these skeletons are big lads. They’re easily 54mm scale rather than the traditional 28/32mm of regular 40k miniatures, which was a pleasant surprise. It meant they were the perfect scale for any skeletal Inquisitor shenanigans.
I was impressed at the variety of poses too, and despite them being obviously very goofy, I could have a variety of weapons and armour to keep any encounters interesting.
At the time I didn’t have enough round 40mm bases to mount them on, but I had loads of square bases from my time with Warhammer Fantasy in the early noughties. A big square base inset with a smaller one gave the perfect statue plinth look, and when attached at a jaunty angle, the skeletons looked like they were stepping off the plinth and coming to life, Jason and the Argonauts-style.
It has to be said that these are probably the worst miniatures I have ever worked with. Obviously I’m getting exactly what I paid for, but I’m still allowed to be mad.
They were covered in mould lines and connection points, and the plastic was some awful cheap stuff that was too hard to scrape clean but too soft to file down, so they all ended up with these horrid jaggedy marks around them where I couldn’t be bothered to clean them up any more. Not only that, but nothing seemed to stick to them, even when pinned down, I had to bathe their feet in superglue to keep them attached to the base.
The bases got a light smothering of the new (at the time) textured paints to break up the monotony of the classic WHFB square base texture.
I cleaned up what I could be bothered with, knowing that I’d get diminishing returns on something I paid a few pennies per model for, and gave them a blast with some grey primer.
I did mention they were tall, right?
Painting the skeletal horde
The painting scheme for these guys was minimum viable product – I had a game lined up with them in a few days, so they just needed to be game-ready. They weren’t going to win any beauty awards, so they just needed a wash, a drybrush and to pick out key areas.
The recipe was simple – wash them with Nuln Oil over their black primer, then a drybrush of grey, with a lighter drybrush of lighter grey.
I rejected the classic boney skeleton look as I wanted these to be made of stone rather than the skeletons of some huge 10-metre race of humans.
The metal sections were a mid gold colour and a liberal application of another technical paint I hadn’t really experimented with, Nihilakh Oxide, to get that lovely tarnished effect. The Oxide was applied liberally, then roughly wiped off the raised areas with my big sausage fingers.
Once they were done, I felt like they were missing something. Of course they looked cheap and cheerful, but they didn’t look spooky enough. I toyed with the idea of giving them classic glowing eyes, but that just didn’t feel right.
I wanted to give them an other-worldly glow and the chest cavity seemed like a great place to start. It my first time experimenting with Object Source Lighting (OSL), and at the time I feared that I had overdone it, but on reflection I don’t think I went far enough! The purple is very subtle, and I wanted a more powerful and obvious glow to it.
Whereas traditionally for undead constructs you would remove the head or destroy the brain, I wanted to slightly subvert that for these guys. Our Voidmaster has become an expert at headshots, and I wanted him to have to put a moment’s thought into the encounter when realising that it doesn’t immediately work.
I figured whatever sorcerous artefacts are powering these constructs, they are doing so from centre mass. I made an effort to explain how they were glowing from the chest cavity, and how blowing off their arms and legs didn’t seem to bother them at all. Even when their heads were removed they seemed to unerringly detect the players, as though the creatures that created them didn’t know or didn’t care about the function of the humanoid body, it only mattered that it looked like a terrifying visage of death to them.
The story began to build around that – these were not Yu’Vath, nor were they created by them. They implemented Yu’Vath technology, but they were build by some humanoid race in thrall to the Yu’Vath empire out of fear, necessity, or both. Why were they built? Who built them? These were all exciting questions outside the scope of our Rogue Trader game, they only needed to exist to build a bigger picture of a wider universe, and reiterate how small our characters were in it.
All in all I’m very happy with how they came out! For a project that was technically part of a different project’s budget, I’ve got some nice tropey villains that work at any scale and can be inserted into a game without much effort. Chuffed!
It is the late hours of the night shift on Port Impetus – the Dog-watch – and you are pursuing leads on smuggled xenos artefacts salvaged from the wreck of a merchant vessel, The Sojourner.
The port is rocked by an explosion. Reports filter in, scattered at first, but the picture builds quickly – a warehouse on the docks has been bombed. It is supposedly a Cold Trade hideout, a likely location of the smuggled xenos artefacts, and the reports of madness and violence that follow confirm your suspicions.
You scramble together a team, knowing you have only a few minutes on site before the Adeptus Arbites arrive to shut the entire investigation down.
+++++ Message ends +++++
Setting the scene
Three warbands are close enough to the warehouse to investigate before the Arbites lock down the area. A small gang of Longshoremen deploy on the board too – a collection of criminals and bored voidsmen on shore leave – who set off the explosives hoping to get their hands on some valuable artefacts. They should provide a nice buffer between the players and reinforce the idea that the warehouse is in a densely populated area.
The game takes place during the Dog-watch – the night shift – which is quiet by dock standards but still noisy enough to reduce hearing distances by half. Dimmed global lighting and crimson emergency lumens from the warehouse floor mean standard Detection tests for spotting people.
There are six loot tokens on the board, inside which are three xenos artefacts and three empty loot tokens. To find the artefacts, characters must pass a Sagacity -20 test on a loot token, then roll a D6. On a 4-6 the token is empty, and it is removed from the board. On a 1-3 there is an artefact inside! Remove the token from the board and replace it with a crystal.
Like the previous scenario, the crystals give off a horrifying warp-taint, capable of worming its way into the strongest of minds. Anyone picking up a crystal must pass a Willpower test or roll on the Hallucinogen table.
The Arbites are mere minutes away. The players have less than a dozen turns to complete their obejectives before they’re forced to evacuate the scene.
All the campaign scenarios use a rough ideology aligment to determine scenario objectives. They are designed to be conflicting, but not mutually so, and can change between scenarios. They can’t see the objective before choosing, however, so players are not necessarily aware of other players’ goals.
Puritan: Ensure no other parties escape with artefacts.
Radical: Recover more artefacts than are destroyed or captured by other parties.
The first outing of Diamond’s Interests – these guys are another house warband, and their overview is here.
Clamps is a cargo-lifter servitor – possessing immense strength and industrial skeleton reinforcement, plus a big ol’ pair of clamps to clamp things with. He’s not smart, fast or capable of thinking for himself, but he’s got a heck of a punch.
Diamond One is a wealthy noble scion with an esoteric collection of xenos and archeotech miscellany, including a shuriken pistol and a custom displacer device that he can manually activate.
Fetch is tech support – he brings all the tools necessary to open doors and repair things, plus his trusty lasgun with underslung grenade launcher and all manner of grenades – frag, flash and haywire to suit his needs.
Diamond One is eager to get his hands on some of the much-lauded xenos artefacts, so is pursuing a Selfish agenda.
Arbitrator Havelock and Corporal Salem – the Mysterious Strangers
The mysterious strangers are back, this time with a different contingent than the expeditionary force on the surface of Asteroid 825-79C. The same strange medicae skull has followed them however, and unconfirmed reports suggest the warband have been conversing with it. Tech heresy perhaps? Rumours abound that the mysterious strangers are actually in service to a radical Inquisitor, but these rumours are so far unfounded.
Raiding the warehouse for the mysterious strangers are Senior Arbitrator Lucius Havelock and Corporal Rynn Salem of the Bastille XIV Regiment. The first is an ex-Arbitrator (retired or volun-told?) with all the associated trimmings – shotgun, shock maul and stiff upper lip. Corporal Salem is the fire support, toting a drum-fed boltgun.
I tried something new for deployment – the intent was to eliminate the first few turns of walking towards each other and Pausing For Breath round corners. We were on a time limit, both in game and out, and I wanted to jump straight into the action.
Players can deploy characters anywhere on the board, but they are placed slowest speed first. I figured this gives faster characters opportunity to counter-deploy and react to their surroundings better. It certainly worked for getting characters into the thick of it!
Warbands broadly deployed close to one another with the Longshoremen setting up on the east side entrance to the warehouse.
Clamps deploys in the centre of the board, round a container from one of the central loot tokens.
Fetch sets up on the outskirts of the warehouse to the north, overlooking Clamps.
Diamond One deploys above the ruined east entrance to the warehouse, directly above the Longshoremen.
Kraw deploys directly next to the second central loot token.
Tlaxcala and Dmitri set up centrally only a stone’s throw from Kraw. They appear intent on holding down the centre of the warehouse.
Arbitator Havelock sets up on the other side of Dmitri’s container – it was going to get real bloody real quick.
Finally, Corporal Salem deploys above the ruined west entrance overlooking the warehouse.
With everyone deployed in tinderbox proximity, it was time to let the sparks to fly.
Arbitrator Havelock has pressed forward to the centre of the warehouse, confident that Corporal Salem has him covered. Dock alarms wail and the crimson glow of emergency lumens flood the warehouse.
In the distance he can hear the excited chatter of local dockers, and up close he can make out the heavy footsteps of Military-grade combat boots. He peers round the container to get a better look…
Kraw’s spider senses tingle and he checks his surroundings – he spots an all-too-familiar sight of a lawman’s silhouette cut against the crimson lights.
“They’re already here!” He hisses, squeezing off a pair of manstopper rounds against the Arbitrator. They explode off his shoulder, biting deep through his carapace armour. The gunshots ring out across the warehouse – if the warbands weren’t aware of other parties present, they were now.
Dmitri presses himself up against the container, peeking round but not spotting Kraw’s target. Havelock grimaces in pain as his master’s medicae skull goes about its duty, knitting his torn shoulder back together.
On the other side of the warehouse, Diamond One moves through the archway to get a better view of the gunshots he just heard. Below him are the chattering Longshoremen, somewhat more alert since the sound of gunfire.
He comes out to a ruined balcony overlooking the east side of the warehouse and crouches behind some crates, readying his splinter pistol. There are far more people here than he’d expected, and even with the help of the Deathclocks Guild he’d hired, he didn’t fancy his chances. If only there was some way to-
Hello there! A loot token right next to me? Don’t mind if I do…
In a single action, Diamond One busts open the crate and finds a xenos artefact. In a subsequent turn, he bundles it up under his arm (passing his Willpower test to avoid a hallucinogenic effect, darn it!) and makes a break for where he came in.
The Arbitrator player lets out a quiet “Well, shit.” as he realises his Puritan objective has already been failed. Time for plan B…
The Longshoremen split up into two parties – Drummer and Staz heading north, while the other three head south. The southern party, lead by Captain Ashford, edge towards the sound of gunfire.
The northern party stumble across their first loot token and Staz sets to work rifling through it for goodies.
Clamps had been inloaded with a layout of the warehouse prior to arrival, so he knew his way around. He’d been given a simple directive – clamp anything that isn’t Deathclocks Guild property or their employer.
He hears excited cackling from the longshoremen around the container and lumbers into combat, clamping excitedly.
He takes First Mate Drummer by surprise, but that isn’t enough to land a blow against him. Drummer deftly dodges his clumsy swipes, returning the favour with his sabre and causing a few glancing blows.
With Clamps unable to hit and Drummer unable to hurt, this started to look like a stalemate.
It takes Havelock no time to identify these mutants as Chaos-worshipping scum – the worst kind of mutant – and charges at Kraw across the bulkhead floor. His shock maul is held in his off-hand as his right arm is still too torn up to hold a weapon, and he can’t land a solid blow against the jinking, flickering Chaos cultist.
Dmitri takes advantage of the distraction and flanks the Arbitrator, peppering him with lasfire from his hell-forged lasgun. A series of duff damage rolls mean the attacks bounce harmlessly off Havelock’s carapace armour, giving Dmitri a slight sense of panic.
Kraw recognises quite quickly that even a disadvantaged Arbitrator is still an Arbitrator and doesn’t fancy his chances, so he backs out to try and bring his pistols to bear again.
Dmitri decides to play his trump card, and reaches for his Balaghron Horn.
It takes him the best part of two turns to finally equip and toot his horn, meanwhile Kraw and Havelock skip around one another in a deadly dance.
The horrifying toot washes over the warehouse, and characters from all over clap hands to ears to keep the ghastly noise from bursting their eardrums. People all over the board get stunned, including Salem (who hadn’t accomplished anything at this point anyway)and a few Longshoremen.
Our major players, particularly the Arbitrator, were entirely unaffected. Kraw uses the distraction to scamper off into the warehouse, while Havelock slowly turns round.
While Clamps and Drummer were distracted with one another, Staz finished searching his loot token and found nothing. He figured the First Mate was under no real threat from the jumped-up JCB so began clambering up some nearby crates to get a better view of his surroundings.
Then the toot happened.
Dmitri’s Balagron horn booms across the warehouse – Drummer and Clamps are unaffected, but Staz falls to his knees and clutches his head, blood streaming from his nose.
While he’s stunned the cunning Tlaxcala waits in the wings, steadying his aim with his implant plasma gun.
Guilder Fetch had been keeping an eye on proceedings from afar and decided it was time to strike. He’d kept a photon flash grenade loaded in the underslung launcher and dropped it right behind Clamps’, attempting to stun Drummer. The tricky sod passed his Initiative test, so Fetch shouldered his lasgun and fired into combat.
What’s a bit of friendly fire between friends?
In a burst of effectiveness, Fetch threads the needle beween Clamps’ legs and catching Drummer square in the groin. He hits the deck, stunned. Clamps wastes no time in taking advantage of the situation and plows both clamps down straight into Drummer’s torso.
What follows is a Critical Injury to the groin as Drummer is raised into the air and juiced – all his fluids squeezed from his lifeless corpse, somewhat like that poor Ork from the intro of Dawn of War 1.
Not content with merely clamping Drummer instantly to death, he hurls the body like a ragdoll at the stunned Staz. Fortunately for Staz, Clamps’ aim isn’t all too good, so Drummer’s body bounces off the wall and lands on the nearby container with an awful wet thud.
Back on the western conflict, Kraw has used the Death Toot as a distraction to slip out from underneath the Arbitrator’s nose and past two unsuspecting Longshoremen.
Dmitri and the Arbitrator exchange shots at close range – both digging small chunks out of each other, but not substantial enough to tip the conflict one way or the other.
The characters can also hear the sounds of the real Arbitrators in the distance – they only have a few turns left before they’ll be overrun by the law.
With the Arbitrator’s objective unattainable thanks to Diamond One’s stroke of early-game luck, Havelock decides Dmitri is his silver medal. He spots Corporal Salem is (finally) in position to contribute, and gives him a definitive hand signal.
Caleb opens up with his bolter, blowing gread wads of flesh from Dmitri’s stomach. He unceremoniously slumps over, rancid blood pooling around him. As loathe as Havelock is to administer assitance to an agent of the Archenemy, he instructs his medicae skull to perform life-saving duties on Dmitri. You can’t interrogate a corpse, after all.
The sound of a plasma weapon firing ripples out across the warehouse, followed by the sound of hacking, phlegmy laughter. Tlaxcala’s aim was true, and vaporised Staz’s head with a well-placed shot from his plasma gun.
Knowing the Arbites would arrive before he could get a second shot off, Tlaxcala slinks back into the shadows and off the board, cackling away to himself.
Kraw tries to make his getaway through the same route as the Longshoremen – Grigori barely notices the unsubstantial blur moving past, but Captain Ashford is wiser. He opens up with his own twin revolvers, plinking a few shots off Kraw’s boney extremities.
Kraw about-faces and blasts Captain Ashford off his feet, knocking him back through the ruined walls of the warehouse. Grigori decides discretion is the better part of valour and disappears back through the hole they came from.
The strange electrical drone continues to carry out its nefarious task. It was noticed by some characters but they weren’t able to capture it to discover its secrets. What is its purpose?
Determined not to leave with figurative or literal empty hands, Havelock cuffs the freshly-stabilised Dmitri and begins to drag him off. He has a date with a couple of knuckles in a nearby alleyway that Havelock is keen for him to be punctual for.
Before the Arbites arrive, Havelock couldn’t resist poking his nose into the one untouched loot token the Chaos cultists had been so keen to get their hands on. Inside is an artefact of strange provedence and unknown power – it radiates warp energy, making him stick to his stomach to even lay eyes on it.
Whatever it is, it’s bad news.
He’s presented with a conundrum – make off with a tool of the enemy, or make off with one of the enemy.
He quickly decides that the warp artefact is a matter for the (proper) Arbites and he can get some quick answers from his new Chaos acquaintance.
He drags off Dmitri, beats him to near death (again) and leaves him bleeding in the corner of a manufactorum nearby. Dmitri thinks he’s escaped death a second time, Havelock knows better…
In the closing actions of the game, Fetch gets greedy and pops open another loot token. This final crystal proves to be his undoing – as he touches it, an ice cold sensation shoots up his arm and swallows his conscious thought. He goes to scream but no words come out, and collapses on the floor.
Just in time for the Arbites to arrive…
Diamond’s Interests snagged a crystal early on, completing their objective. Unfortunately the Crimson Wake were fighting a battle on all sides from the beginning and never got their hands on one of the xenos artefacts and left the board empty handed.
Although the Arbitrator and Corporal failed to prevent anyone leaving the board with a crystal, they did manage to cart off a heretic with valuable information, so they were awarded a Vital Evidence as recompense!
The deployment for this game was a gamble – I’d never tried it before, but I think it worked very well. I wouldn’t want it for every scenario, but for close quarters ones like this I think it worked really well.
Typically you could spend several turns of characters walking cautiously towards each other, pausing for breath around corners, generally taking a while to get to the Good Stuff. This way we had action from the first turn, as our characters had already pre-sneaked their way into the optimal positions of carnage. Definitely one to try again!
Week 1 end results
Week 1 of the Gorgon Crystals campaign draws to a close and the Vital Evidence is tallied up – everyone has one piece of Vital Evidence except the Crimson Wake with zero. It’s neck and neck, but the campaign is yet young, and there are plenty of opportunities for that gap to widen.
Watch out for the next scenario, The Stone Baron, coming soon!
Asteroid 825-79C – an unassuming ball of rock in the outer reaches of the Haimm system, swaddled by dust storms that rage across its surface. There is just enough atmosphere to support a small mining colony nestled on a rich vein of industrial metals.
The colony has recently gone silent.
This is not an unusual occurrence among the outer reaches – pirates, rogue asteroids, and civil disobedience are but a few reasons a mining colony might be lost, and all these beneath the interests of the Holy Ordos and their counterparts. However, this colony went dark shortly after an escape pod landed on Asteroid 825-79C, tracked from a ghost ship called The Sojourner, hours before the vessel was destroyed by the Imperial Navy.
In your line of work, there are no coincidences. Investigate the quarry where the escape pod reportedly landed.
+++++ Message ends +++++
Setting the scene
Four warbands approached the quarry, acutely aware of the clarion call that such an opportunity presented to other interested parties. They didn’t know each other would be there, but they all had the impression they wouldn’t be the only ones at the crash site.
A violent dust storm raged across the quarry, reducing all line of sight to one quarter of a character’s Initiative. They also knew their time here was limited – the dust storm would soon pick up, reducing visibility to zero and forcing everyone into shelter.
For the campaign, all warbands are provided with the scene-setting text (the message above), plus an objective roughly aligned to an ideology – Puritan, Radical and Selfish. These objectives would be known only to those players, and other warbands’ objectives can only be guessed at (or interrogated in the field!).
They are designed to be conflicting, but not mutually so. They may require creative thinking on the player’s behalf to complete, and the are sometimes unrelated to the ‘obvious’ objective on the board. The objectives for Forsake Quarry are as follows:
Puritan: Take readings of whatever was in the escape pod, then destroy it.
Whereas other warbands were limited to two agents, Vanth’s warband were allowed a third, as two of them were played by plucky guardsmen (and not psychic monstrosities, alien bounty hunters or bionic swordsmen). Little were we to know at the time that one of those plucky guardsmen would end up being MVP, but more on that later.
Vanth, unsurprisingly, would be pursuing a Radical agenda, so instructed Colonel Vaux to recover the artefact for study.
Esmeralda “Spark” and Sophia “Ember” are part of a small band of mercenaries that operate out of the Haimm system. They were originally pilgrims whose ship dashed upon the rocks, leaving them abandoned on one of the wasteland planets in the outer reaches. They were hideously burned and mutilated from their experiences, but somehopw survived and prospered, rebuilding themselves (quite literally in Esmeralda’s case) as mercenaries and bounty hunters.
Sophia is the de facto leader, and oldest of the three triplets (the third is toting a flamer), and more of a generalist in combat. She has a variety of tricks and tools to help her take down her quarry, including web shells for her shotgun and a poisoned blade. Esmeralda is mostly bionic, giving her increased speed for getting within sword-hitting range. Her huge blade is mono-edged and can (and did!) easily bisect a person in a single blow.
It’s rumoured that they are acting as agents for a powerful Household, which would explain their interference in matters of the Inquisition, but these rumours are so far unfounded.
As these characters have encountered these artefacts before, they want to find out more about its effects and confirm they are from the same origin, so are pursuing a Selfish goal to capture a local for questioning.
Dune is investigating the crash site personally, with help from his old hunting partner Omar Anoke. His natural stealth and sixth sense should help them track down the source of the mining colony’s silence.
While considered a radical by many of his peers, Dune is still gathering information before forming an opinion on the xenos artefacts. He believes the best data can be gathered from the artefact’s effects on those it comes into contact with, so he is pursuing the Selfish objective to capture and interrogate a local.
The mysterious stranger(s)
The shop warband! A pair of mismatched characters supposedly under the orders of a shadowy overseer. I actually know very little about these guys – a rarity for games these days! I suspect their motivations will be unveiled as the campaign progresses…
One is an Aeldari, perhaps an outcast or pirate, called Shé’Vanti “the wind that stalks the void”. The other is a sketchy House Agent called Devram Korda – a powerful telekine and perhaps the leader of this warband? All will be revealed, I’m sure…
We do know that for this game, they were interested in containment. Such power shouldn’t be in the hands of mere Mon’keigh, and were approaching with a Puritan mindset – identify and destroy the artefact.
Shé’Vinda and the Korda set up in the top left of the board, intent on using the outpost as cover to strike from. Vaux takes his men and deploys in the top right, near some rock formations and ruins. Dune is in the lower right, with plenty of barrels and mining equipment for cover. Finally, Sophia and Esmeralda deploy in the bottom left, praying the dust storm will cover their advance until they can get within striking range.
The board is populated with three (ex?)miners from the colony, driven mad from exposure to the warp-tainted crystal – Clevis (pictured above), Kingbolt and Axle (pictured below.
They don’t have much left in life other than guarding the crystal. They love the crystal, and will do what they can to prevent it falling into enemy hands. They’re frenzied, so operate at half Speed until they see an enemy.
Until then, they’ll wander aimlessly with the help of a scatter dice until they see or hear some commotion, then they’ll rush to defend the crystal.
The howling dust storm keeps our characters cautious -everyone advances slowly towards the centre of the board. They know this is the crash site, and they know other parties are likely in the area, but they don’t know specifics.
At this stage, it’s ask questions first, shoot later.
Esmeralda and Sophia advance quickly, eager to cover the open ground. Through the busted wire-link fence they can just make out the hulking figure of Axle – a miner who has mutilated his flesh with obscene carvings that strain a lingering eye. They had seen this kind of activity before on the Sojourner – they knew what they would be up against.
Vaux gives the order to his men to advance, using the cover of the rock formations and ruins to mask their advance.
Shé’Vanti makes it to the ruined hab, a brief respite from the dust storm, and a good vantage point to strike from.
Anoke spots a strange light in the dust storm – arcs of electricity coming from a tentacled drone on the outskirts of the outpost. A strange sight out here. It has piqued his avian curiosity and he stalks after it.
Axle and Kingbolt meet in the middle, thanks to some surreptitious scatter dice rolls. They talk loudly and enthusiastically about their love of the crystal – enough to alert anyone nearby of their intentions to aggressively defend any action against the xenos artefact.
Anyone observing at this point would notice the crash site had all but disappeared into the dust, the only thing remaining of the pod had been salvaged for scrap, or used to erect the makeshift shrine that the crystal sat on. There would be no doubt – the crystal was the main attraction.
All the players were in place – Dune had moved into position behind the mining carts in the top right. Tensions mounted as to who would make the first move. Nearly all warbands were aware of the miners at this point, but none were aware of each other.
Blissfully unaware of the mounting tensions, however, was Anoke. He was having a wonderful time chasing the weird sparky tentacle thing that just drifted away from him whenever he neared it.
Shé’Vanti eyes up the grotesque mutants around the crash site, illuminated even through the dust by the baleful glow of a xenos crystal. He would bide his time and wait for an opening.
Perfect! Kingbolt and Axle both drift away from the crystal in their turn, leaving a clear run at the artefact. Shé’Vanti didn’t know what it was, but sensed an unmistakably foul warp presence surrounding it. Whatever it was, it was better out of the hands of the Mon’Keigh.
He breaks cover and sprints for the crystal.
Trooper Gene Ric spots a blur through the dust storm, moving through the sand as if it wasn’t there. A sharp, gaunt face is illuminated by an awful glow that gives him a feeling like lead in his stomach. He couldn’t identify the target, but knew it wasn’t human. He quietly whispers to his commanding officer for backup…
Dune, however, is not off to quite as fortunate a start. Narrowly avoiding a wandering Clevis, he now has Axle bearing down on him too, but this one spots him from behind cover and bellows with rage.
In a snap, Dune’s splinter pistol is raised to eye level and a burst of monomolecular toxin-laden shards sink deep into the target’s flesh – more than enough to slow or stop an ordinary target of this size.
This appears to be not be an ordinary target.
On the west side of the board, Esmeralda slices an opening in the wire link fence and grabs a handful of tanglefoot seed pods from her pouch. Her arm was good, but the seeds are caught by the wind and land short of the target.
No matter, we’ll disarm this creature the old fashioned way…
Anoke, oblivious to his comrade’s imminent angry danger, chases the strange flashing lights further into the storm. A new figure emerges from the dust – it looks like a guardsman aiming a lasgun directly at-
A burst of lasgun fire is heard above the howling winds of the dust storm. Gene Ric’s grouping is phenomenal – two to centre mass, one to the head. Anoke is knocked to the ground, stunned.
The mysterious House Agent moves into the outpost, accompanied by his medicae skull. With the Eldar in his sights, begins to chant under his breath, summoning the will needed to cover his escape. Nobody has seen him yet – and he intends to keep it that way.
Vaux is quick to move on the sounds of gunfire. Following the lead from Trooper Ric, he strides forward to take control of the situation. Bolt pistol levelled at the strange figure’s head, Vaux recognises it for what it truly is – Aeldari filth.
With gunfire from his own men and howls of rage carried over the wind, he didn’t want to get involved in a fire fight with a number of unknown assailants. The Aeldari obligingly raised its hands, stepping slowly away from the crystal.
Little did Vaux realise the treacherous xenos sent a subtle hand signal to the hidden House Agent in the derelict hab…
Korda focused all his will, intending to hurl a pallet of detritus at Kingbolt and/or Vaux. The fickle powers of the warp bled through his fingers, barely able to move the pallet more than a few feet. He takes a deep breath and redoubles his efforts – clearly proximity to this artefact is causing more warp disturbance than anticipated.
Gunfire and screams are on the wind – Esmeralda and Sophia move in. They need to take one of these locals in for interrogation, but realise on closer inspection this was not such an easy task. They appear incredibly resilient and largely impervious to pain – not to mention equipped with fearsome implanted mining equipment. That would have to change…
With Sophia dancing round acting as a distraction, Esmeralda begins the arduous task of disarming the miner – quite literally. Called shot after called shot against the implant rock drill leaves Kingbolt with little but a gory, sparking stump – spewing blood and engine oil.
Although this tactic saves them from an unpleasant impaling, it doesn’t seem to slow down Kingbolt, and they have to change up their tactics.
Sophia moves behind the mutant miner and begins severing tubes and tearing out implants. Kingbolt roars in fury, but with only one arm and hazy vision from blood loss, finds it near impossible to land a blow.
The beast bears down on Dune, thundering towards him with rockrete mallet raised above his head. His splinter rounds either bounce off his makeshift armour or fail to deliver their deadly toxin. Dune was running out of options, he couldn’t go toe to toe with such a monstrosity…
Dune rolled a headshot, followed by a 10 on a D10+2 weapon (A Lucky Hit!) and rolled a 9 on the followup damage. 21 damage from the splinter pistol, piercing an eye lens and delivering the toxin directly to the brain.
The miner slumps unceremoniously to the ground. Everyone around the table is in absolute awe. Absolute madman.
Thinking on his feet, Dune assesses his surroundings.
“Are those carts moveable?” The player inquires. I don’t need to know where such lines of questions are going to know that the answer is always “Yes.”
Superminer Sweep! *Airhorn noise*
Dune unceremoniously wheels off the braindead miner, completing his objective to capture a local for interrogation (it didn’t stipulate alive – they’ll probably scoop his brains out and run it through the brain-o-matron to see what he knows).
Back in the standoff, both Vaux and Shé’Vanti had been oblivious to the approach of the third miner. While his two colleagues had been shot through the face or hacked apart, he still had full control of his faculties.
Roaring into action, Clevis charges towards the nearest target to the crystal – the Eldar – and lands his bladed hammer square in the xenos’ chest. The force of the blow breaks nearly every bone in his body, sending him spinning into the dust storm, and taking him out of the game in one brutal blow.
After seeing the Aeldari get hammered out of existence, Vaux makes a play for the crystal. As he touches it, he feels the insidious whispering of the warp trying to worm its way inside his skull, but he shakes it off.
Gently cradling the crystal in his power fist, he issues the order to withdraw. Honeis, having finally rolled enough actions to get into the action, is now requested to leave the action.
A pulse of telekinetic energy blasts Vaux off his feet, colliding into Honeis on the way. The House Agent’s fingers still smoking with wisps of psychic energy.
Both are knocked sprawling on the ground, almost 20 yards from where they originally stood.
The crystal embeds into the sand, unfazed by the assault.
In the final moves of the game, it remained unclear how things would resolve for the main conflict over the crystal. Sophia and Esmeralda had all but torn apart Kingbolt, hacking his other arm off and knocking huge lumps out of his breathing apparatus, leaving him a wheezing (yet somehow still alive) mess.
Clevis, enraged that his precious crystal has been taken, charges round the corner to confront Vaux, who is still prone on the floor. The House Agent is making moves to withdraw, knowing there is little more he can do to resolve things in his favour.
With Clevis’ hot breath practically in Vaux’ face, it looked like Vaux was in trouble. As Clevis raised his hammer to bring it down on Vaux’ prone body, another crack of Gene Ric’s lasgun stops him in his tracks. A trio of lasbolts slam into Clevis, the third one a clean headshot and blowing out his sand lenses and breathing apparatus, stunning him for a turn and giving Vaux a chance to react.
Rising from the floor with a powerful Shoryuken, Vaux strikes his foe squarely between the legs, punching his pelvis into his throat and sending Clevis sprawling.
With Trooper Ric’s uncanny aim as cover, Vaux regains his footing and makes for the crystal one final time. It is entering the final turn – the dust storm threatens to engulf the entire outpost, and they only have a few moments before visibility is reduced to zero and everyone is forced to withdraw with whatever they have.
Korda is dragging Shé’Vanti off the board, leaving empty handed. Dune has escaped with a captive, completing his objective, and Anoke recovers and stalks off after him. Sophia and Esmeralda have disabled (read: hacked enough lumps out of) Kingbolt to take him in for autopsy/interrogation but decide to make one final play for the crystal, hoping to keep it out of Vanth’s hands.
As Esmeralda rounds the barrels, stepping over the mashed groin of Clevis, she comes face to face with Vaux – the crystal resting on the ground between them.
Just as she begins to make her move to recover it, a third and final salvo from the now-unstoppable Trooper Ric bounce off Esmeralda’s bionic bonce. The headshot stuns her long enough for Vaux to snatch the crystal up, giving his men a hasty order to retreat (and several commendations for marksmanship for Gene Ric).
The dust storms drew in as the final play of the game was made – Vaux escapes with the crystal, earning a completed objective for Vanth’s warband.
And it was all over!
Three out of four warbands completed their objectives, earning themselves a piece of Vital Evidence to contribute towards earning their place in the campaign finale.
A tense, exciting opening game, with plenty of thrilling heroics and unbelievable dice rolls. The players are excited for the next one, which is a measure of success for me!
Questions still remain however – who are the mysterious strangers? Where did the crystals come from? And what was that odd electric tentacle drone that kept itself to itself on the peripheries of the conflict?
They’ll just have to play on and find out…
We couldn’t wrap up this battle report without a special mention for undoubtedly our Most Valuable Player – Trooper Gene Ric.
Just an Average Guardsman(tm) with one or two luck-related special abilities, Gene Ric surpassed all of our wildest expectations. Given that his counterpart, Honeis, managed to run around a bit, equip medkit, then re-quip lasgun, Gene Ric absolutely carried the team.
Every opponent he levelled his lasgun at was slotted in the head by at least one round, always putting his target down with the first round of shooting. Incredible marksmanship like that must surely earn some kind of commendation…
For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.
Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn is an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor with hardline, no-nonsense puritan views, and has raised many eyebrows in the Onus Conclave for his proposed ‘solutions’ to problems. The last Inquisitor to accuse him of radical methods was burned at the stake on unrelated charges of heresy – or so the circumstantial evidence says.
Mawdryn has heard tales of a ghost ship in the system of Haimm leaving a plague of madness in its wake, and reports of disturbing warp-tainted artefacts finding their way into the hands of Emperor-fearing Imperial citizens. Although this is a regretful turn of events, there are protocols and organisations in place to cleanse the heresy from these places. Mawdryn’s interests are not in the carcass, but the circling vultures.
He has gathered a group of loyal frateris militia to serve with him in Haimm, spurred on by the fiery rhetoric of Redemptionist Zuul and attended by an eerily silent Sister Censorum. They are not here to destroy the warp-tainted artefacts, although that is a pleasing secondary objective, but rather to destroy any of those looking to take these artefacts for their own means. Radicalism is a cancer, and it must be purged.
Leader – Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn
Mawdryn’s hardline puritan ideology has always kept him at arms’ length from his peers, pushing him further from the Imperial heartlands and into the less-trodden fringes. Although initially outraged, Mawdryn has found a home among the outskirts, rubbing shoulders with the downtrodden and having room to carry out his work away from the watchful eyes of the Conclave.
He learned to survive on little, and his fiery rhetoric attracted a gaggle of strange and esoteric followers to his cause. Although poorly armed and barely competent, what they lacked in skill they made up for in faith and fury – a powerful trait that Thrones can’t buy alone.
Although a member of the Ordo Hereticus, he does not prioritise the destruction of heretical items. It is far better to use them as bait to lure in rivals and radicals – those who have let the question “But what if..” linger too long in their minds. It are these thoughts that are the true heresy – a cancer that Mawdryn has vowed to purge wherever he finds it.
The warp-tainted artefacts that have appeared in the system of Haimm are the perfect storm – powerful, dangerous creations of unknown providence will attract all manner of hopefuls and heretics foolish enough to think they can control what they don’t understand. These ‘crystals’ will have their time in the sun before being destroyed one way or another – this is the way of things – but those who stray from the path may take their heretical thoughts elsewhere to infect others. This cannot be allowed to happen.
On the battlefield, Mawdryn is a fearsome combatant who doesn’t rely on complicated equipment to carry him to victory. With hotshot laspistol and shock maul, he can carry on fighting long after his opponents’ have jammed, broken or run out of ammunition. In a pinch, he can activate his refractor field to protect him from incoming damage, and his skills are focused around buffing his comrades to keep them in the fight.
Mawdryn’s followers are not complex, but they are numerous. He can always bring at least one extra body onto the field of battle than his opponents.
Sister Censorum Ivixia
The Order Censorum, a secretive wing of the Orders Famulous of the Adeptas Sororitas, are deployed when tact and diplomacy have failed, but not to the extent that the Orders Militant are required. They are experts in revisionism and purification, using a variety of unsavoury or unorthodox measures to ensure everything is how it needs to be.
There are rumours that Mawdryn once had close ties with the Order, giving him direct exposure to the murky waters that power Imperial society and maintain the status quo. Others say that Mawdryn was instead on the receiving end of a Censorum decree, and managed to persuade Sister Ivixia to join his cause instead. Whatever the truth, Sister Ivixia has remained tight-lipped (moreso than usual…) about her relationship with the hardline Inquisitor – appearing without fanfare whenever there are materials hazardous to the heart of soul of the Imperium that must be removed as quickly and totally as possible.
She carries a thermal lance to carry out her work, with a sidearm stubber and ceramite armour for backup. Although a fearsome weapon, her priority is the destruction of documents, articles and artefacts that could tempt a person to corruption, and its long reload time could mean she only gets one shot.
Brother Zuul is a Redemptionist – an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of the faith in which redemption in the eyes of the God-Emperor can only be found in death. He also desires to bring redemption to others, finding the sin of heresy particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor’s final judgement to them.
He is the closest thing to a second in command to Mawdryn, and he finds Zuul’s tireless fervour particularly useful when encouraging another wave of die-hard purge brothers to charge headlong into gunfire.
In the field, he’s an absolute mad lad with an eviscerator. He’s unsubtle, vocal, and bloody-minded in the pursuit of his goals (which rarely deviate from ‘kill all heretics’). Sometimes it’s nice to play a character that isn’t burdened by nuance.
Brother Jean-Luke and Brother Mungo
Maniacal cultists in service of a demagogue – what’s not to like? They’re recruited in their dozens, dredged up from the silt of society and given holy purpose. The Brothers of Mawdryn’s Purge are mere fuel for the holy fire – they’re enthusiastic, numerous and ultimately expendable.
These two were some of the first Inquisitor models I ever built, back when Games Workshop still did a parts order service. Many of the original batch have since been stripped and reused for parts (I went through a phase of only using Green Stuff as an adhesive…), but these guys have proudly been pressed into service as cultists of every colour – chaos cultists, renegades, heretics, genestealer cultists, frateris militia, concerned citizens, and now redemptionists.
It’s also a testament to how well certain 28mm ranges scale up – Jean-Luke on the left uses plastic Ork arms, which are remarkably well scaled for Inquisitor. Mungo on the right is wielding an Inquisitor revolver that is exactly the same size as the new plastic stub guns from the Necromunda Palanite Enforcers.
Brother Marvin and Brother Grunvald
More cultists! This time built out of random pieces from the bits box. Marvin only has one Inquisitor piece – the head. His arms and body are from a 28mm plastic Ork and his lower half is Green Stuff.
Grunvald on the right is similar – only the shotgun and head are from the Inquisitor range, the rest of him is Ork parts, random 40k gubbinz and putty.
We don’t expect much from cultists in the game (which is why Mawdryn can start with extra bodies on the table compared to other players) but they are thoroughly entertaining to play both with and against. They’re easily put down and aren’t competent enough to be a reliable threat, but their optimism and pure dumb luck is often more than enough to make them a match for many foes on the battlefield.
For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.
Interrogator Ezekiel Dune is a radical member of the Ordo Xenos, extremely tired with the hardline “all xenos are bad” position, and considers it a waste of resources to direct hatred equally among all xenos species. Far better to understand that while humans are still obviously superior, not all xenos are bad – most are, but some are helpful, even vital to the continuation of mankind’s survival.
The warband sits under Inquisitor Amadeus Xerxas, a respected member of the Onus Conclave, which gives Dune considerable clout among his peers. Dune’s inner circle is very small – he trusts very few people to accompany him on his missions, but still keeps a large portfolio of underlings and informants (Dune is actually the key quest-giver for our Dark Heresy campaign!) to keep him informed.
Dune is pursuing the Gorgon Crystals as he has a hunch they are connected with a long-lost and incredibly dangerous xenos race. He intends to move in quickly, weigh up the potential benefits for containing and studying the artefacts compared to the damage they will inevitably cause, and act appropriately.
Leader – Interrogator Ezekiel Dune
Dune is a hands-on investigator who began life as a ‘disappearer’ for an undercover agent of the Inquisition. His skills in acquisition and disposal became invaluable to his handlers, and found himself taking on far larger ‘projects’ than he originally signed up for. One task even involved a deep undercover operation in the Imperial Navy, where Dune assumed the identity of a Naval Officer for almost a decade.
As he gained the trust of his masters, he would be provided with strange and exotic tools to aid in his work – some he later found out to be of xenos origin. By the time he met the person at the top of the food chain – Inquisitor Xerxas – he was already deeply involved in the work of the Inquisition, and his promotion to Interrogator was simply a formality.
This introduction to the Holy Ordos has given him a practical outlook on the xenos he deals with. Yes, xenos are obviously abhorrent and must (eventually) be purged from the galaxy – but that’s not something he can realistically pursue in his lifetime, so how useful can they be before they must be destroyed?
Dune dresses as fit for a battlefield as for a bar fight. He likes to keep a low profile and keep his pockets full of dirty tricks and strange technology he has acquired over the years.
His preferred sidearm is a toxin-laden splinter pistol and uses a wrist-mounted Aeldari shimmershield to keep himself safe from incoming fire.
Smuggler hecate Trellio
Trellio is an ex-Guardsman turned smuggler turned Inquisitorial agent. She was drafted into the Kreato PDF as a tracker and tunnel fighter during a bloody civil war, and used her knowledge of hidden routes to earn a few Thrones on the side.
Trellio earned Dune’s trust helping an acolyte cell deal with a biological agent, apocalypse cult and rogue Titan all at once during the Kreato Affair. She has been a valuable aide ever since – having plenty of contacts within the underworld to acquire whatever is needed at a moment’s notice.
In the field she specialises in close quarters combat, falling back on her tunnel fighting days of striking from the shadows and staying forever on the move. She has a mean left hook (courtesy of a rebel officer’s chainsword) and a selection of ammunition types to suit all situations – scatter, flashbang and Emperor’s Wrath.
Kroot Bounty Hunter Omar Anoke
Anoke is one half of the Onus Headhunters – a pair of infamous bounty hunters known for returning the head (and only the head!) of their quarry. While his counterpart is human, Anoke’s xenos nature is kept hidden from prospective employers.
Dune and Anoke go back decades when Anoke was just a sparrow and Dune’s face only had a fraction of the scars is has now. They crossed blades in a manufactorum alley on the station of Mercy in a case of mistaken identity – each taking the other for their quarry.
It transpired the person Dune had been sent to ‘disappear’ had also been the one responsible for the enslaving of Anoke’s kindred when he arrived on Mercy looking for work. They struck a bargain – Dune infiltrates the slaver’s inner circle and kills him, and Anoke gets to clean up the body.
This relationship helped spark Dune’s curiosity into the usefulness of certain xenos, and he has called upon Anoke’s tracking skills for various missions ever since. Anoke is more than happy to accommodate his requests – Dune only ever needs his help to track down particularly crafty foes, and crafty foes have the tastiest flesh…
On the battlefield, Anoke is stronger and faster than he looks – his avian ancestry earning him a speed and agility that helps him run rings around his opponents. His sixth sense and natural athleticism gives him the drop on his foes, and his long rifle is anything but the primitive slug-thrower it appears…
Martellus had always been fascinated with ancient warfare throughout his Schola Progenium days, and pursued the rank of Proctor to better practice it. He had been working on a set of theoretical tactics for better fighting in heavy armour called Hoplomancy and was desperate for an excuse to put those theories into practise.
He was deployed to Port Precipice on Daphnia to help quell an insurrection from an upstart planetary defense force. The PDF there had used heavy glow staves to help encourage the underhive mutant population to stay in the underhive, and Martellus realised these would make for the perfect final piece to his Arbites puzzle.
What began as an insurrection turned into a bloodbath. The insurrection was a cover for a biological attack vectored through the water supply – a great xenos beast had been smuggled in and slain up-river, tainting the water with chemicals that sent anyone who drank it into a mindless, raging thirst. This atrocity became known as the Tides of Madness.
With high command in disarray from the insurrection, he lead squads of Arbites and loyalist PDF troopers street-by-street, utilising his experimental phalanx tactics to great and deadly effect.
He was subsequently assigned to the Kreato Affair to advise their commanders on their own uprising, and found himself working closely alongside Trellio and more of Dune’s acolytes. The line of work was appealing to Martellus, and in exchange for helping Dune out with some muscle and tactical thinking, Dune helped make all the problematic paperwork from the Tides of Madness just disappear…