Orthesian Herald 15 – A New Heading

+++++

The roar of the crowds is electricity in your bones and the air is heavy with the smell of blood and recycled sweat.

You are in a private balcony overlooking the main Bazaar arena, a wide sandy pit several hundred metres across. High above is a great plexiglass dome, through which the statue of the god-emperor is haloed by the rippling fury of the Telos star.

The crowd encircling the arena is cheering on a cybernetically-enhanced gladiator as he twists the head off an Ambull, holding it up for all to see.

Chief Wrecker Davit holds up a hand at the spectacle and grins at you with golden teeth. A boy in silk pours more wine into your goblets.

”So what do you say? Do you want to play a game to win your ship parts, or perhaps you’re looking to sell? The arenas are always looking out for new and exotic attractions.”

Previously we left our intrepid heroes in the Mercy Bazaar Arenas to do battle over.. uh.. an arena. A Resolution Arena ship upgrade for the Unbroken Resolve, to be precise, and without the funds to acquire it at present, they agreed to do battle in one of the most infamous blood sport arenas outside of Imperial Space.

We open with Von Gunn, Gil and Freeman back-to-back in the sandy arena to the sounds of crowds baying for blood. They were facing three Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild, and they had particularly nasty statlines…

Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild
WSBSSTAgIntPerWpFel
 4823(6)38(6)325426313622

Wounds: 16

Skills: Awareness, Intimidate +10

Talents: Ambidextrous and two-weapon talents, Autosanguine, Crushing Blow, Fearless, Swift Attack

Traits: Unnatural Speed, Unnatural Strength x2, Unnatural Toughness x2, The Ticking Clock, Natural Armour (3)

  • Poison talons: 1d10+8 R, Pen 3, Toxic
  • Electro-flails: 1d10+12 I, Pen 0, Flexible, Shocking
  • Pneu-mattocks: 2d10+10 I, Pen 0, Primitive, Unbalanced, Unwieldy
  • Chain axes: 1d10+14 R, Pen 2, Tearing
  • Cutting claws: 1d10+10 R, Pen 0, Fast

Ticking clock: If a Chrono-gladiator kills, they gain +1 Unnatural Strength and become immune to Fatigue for d5 rounds. Any further kills increase the duration by d5 rounds. If after 5 rounds it does not kill again, it takes 1 level of Fatigue and d5 Explosive damage to the body ignoring Toughness and Armour. This happens every 5 rounds.

on with the show
Awful deja-vu…

Our heroes make the first move, with the Chrono-gladiators trailing in the initiative roll. A combination of Von Gunn’s bolt pistol prowess and Gil’s psychic guidance of his plasma pistol sees off the chrono-gladiator with the shield before it even takes a step forward. It drops to its knees, a smoking stump where its head should be.

Explorator Freeman makes a mad dash at the gladiator with chainsaws for hands, and everyone is stricken with a sense of awful deja-vu.

They exchange blows, parrying and rolling under each other’s deadly swings, but Freeman is caught across the face by one of the biting blades and drops to -2 Critical Damage.

Gil suffers a net loss

While his combat-heavy comrades are distracted with their own problems, our Astropath is charged by the net-wielding gladiator. The combination of shock net and poison talons drops Gil to -2 Critical Damage. Unfortunately for the gladiator, that isn’t enough to stop him…

Gil unleashes a devastating psychic attack, overwhelming what little is left of net-guy’s brain and gaining total psychic domination over him. He forces him to run as far away from Gil as possible, and Von Gunn heroically plugs him in the back of the head with a twin shot from his bolt pistols. Go long!

Things don’t go quite so well for Freeman. He loses his battle with the Señor Chainsword as its whirling teeth pull two of his four legs clean from their sockets. He falls to the arena floor, burning a Fate Point to avoid death but is definitely out for the fight.

For those at the back keeping count, Freeman has now officially lost the most limbs in the party (3 in total).

As Chainsword Hands raises his arms to deliver the killing blow, Von Gunn explosively separates his arms from his shoulders with clinical precision. The final Chrono-gladiator falls to the ground and the crowd is beside itself with excitement.

After a quick patch-job on Freemen (he has a box of legs on the ship), Chief Wrecker Davit thanks for them for entertainment, and promises to uphold his end of the bargain. The Resolution Arena will be installed on the Unbroken Resolve.

Returning to Espin

You take a short shuttle ride from Mercy to Brother Espin’s vessel – a bloated, gilded pilgrim transport ship twinkling in the light of Telos. It looks like a hunchback baron cradling a hoard of gold.

Cathedral spires extend from its spine and every inch is covered in stained glass, ornate gothic pillars and hand-carved statues of every Saint in the Imperial Creed. Shuttles scurry about like insects feeding their queen .

The hangar bay stinks with the raw musk of human existence – there are sleeping cubbies set into the walls, hammocks hang from the gantries high above your heads, and canvas shanties exist around the peripherals, despite the constant roar of shuttles dropping off pilgrims and supplies. You have no doubts the rest of the ship is in a similar situation

An old man in rags and a long, scraggly white beard is sitting in a circle of cushions on the hangar floor, pouring tea. Half his head is metal plate, and votive symbols are braided into his beard. You know him as Brother Espin.

Brother Espin (courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games)

Brother Espin was thankful for their efforts, and payment was presented as promised for clearing out the space port on Cilice. The Captain had alternate plans – he negotiated for free rights to use the space port instead of payment, something that will sting their bottom line in the short term but will keep their hands free for gin-related shenanigans in the long run. Very cunning!

Espin also offered some new ship components. They could pick two from:

  • Good Quality Barracks (-1 Space, +1 Morale)
  • Good Quality Voidsman’s quarters (Raider size, -1 space, +1 Morale)
  • Best Quality Temple-shrine (+D5 Morale)

They opt for the Barracks and the Quarters, estimating two days to fit their fancy new digs. They beg their leave of the Brother and return to Mercy proper to begin the refit. The crew are particularly thankful to no longer be topping and tailing.

Mercy Longshore – courtesy of FFG
Dabbling in the background

I had learned from my mistakes regarding the Endeavours system in Rogue Trader – less is more. Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve had it work for your own groups, but it wasn’t a good fit for ours.

I still had another idea to try – Background Endeavours from Into the Storm. A formalisation of the Profit Factor acquisition process, but something that can be done once and forgotten about so the players can get on with the adventuring and swashbuckling while the proles do the legwork.

This was a perfect opportunity, the players wanted to rebuild the Cilice Gin distillery from afar and reap the rewards in the future. Time for some numbers!

Background endeavours are split into two parts: the Captain yells at some hirelings to do a job, and the GM calculating how well the job went. Broadly speaking, the players make a few dice rolls and forget about the Endeavour until the GM tells them enough time has passed for the project to have passed or failed.

Players’ section

  1. The Endeavour is outlined by players and GM – what resources they’ll need and the quality of peon needed to perform the job. They already had the resources they needed (most of an abandoned distillery) and just needed a crew – they acquired Good Quality Hirelings, in this case Tavish Contractors.
  2. The GM comes up with a rough time estimate – about 2 months in this case.
  3. Players contribute supporting skills. Freeman provided a chemical analysis of samples found on Cilice (with a Chem Use test) to avoid the fairly obvious horrendous side effects and adds +3 Degrees of Success (DoS) to the Captain’s Command check. Zilla provided fly-by records of the valleys and space port, adding +1 DoS. Lyoness gave a stirring (if somewhat threatening) speech with an Intimidate test, adding +4 DoS to the overall pool.
  4. The Captain makes a Command check to see how well the hirelings perform. He gets a bonus for all the skills his crew have contributed. He (unsurprisingly) succeeds with 8 Degrees of Success.
  5. Retire and enjoy a glass of (currently) the last Cilice Gin in the universe.

GM’s section

  1. Make a Success roll. This is a flat 50/50 chance, modified +/- by the Degrees of Success/failure of the Captain’s command roll and the quality of Hirelings. These rolls are done between games and noted down to bring up at a future session when Success or Failure can be reaped. In this case, I rolled a 10 (super success!).
  2. Check how long it takes. Regardless of success or failure, you roll on a ‘time taken’ table to see how long it’s taken your hirelings to do the job. Sometimes successful endeavours can take much longer than estimated, while failed endeavours can be over very quickly. I rolled 73, meaning it took 125% of the estimated time. 75 days for the job to get done!
  3. That’s it! When the time is up (day 216 shipboard time) I’ll let them know and they can add +2 Profit Factor to their character sheets.

The intention is to keep the story moving forwards while earning money in the background. We’ll come back to this in about.. ohh.. ten episodes time or so.

Auction on the horizon

Last time we also discovered the latest hot topic: an auction being held by the Obsidian Emporial for a rare class of light cruiser in a few months’ time. They had three bits of concrete intel:

  • Up for grabs was a Secutor-class Monitor Cruiser. A substantial upgrade from the current ship – oodles of space, plenty of weapon hard points and a good blend of defense and manoeuvrability. Perfect for longer, more dangerous voyages into the unknown!
  • The Obsidian Emporial auction house will not accept money alone, they are looking for something unique or priceless to win their interests.
  • There will be a number of other rivals vying for the ship – determining who they are and what they have to offer will help the team greatly in their run-up to the auction.
Whatever you want, Leo Getz

With the Auction at the forefront of their minds, the crew wanted some more intelligence on other organisations attending. Time to lean on their old pal, Leo Getz.

After another chastisement from filling their astropathic relay with reams of garbage, Astropath Gil finally gets the message through to Leo. It’s not his Juniors’ job to sift through his manic mountain of thoughts – edit them down!

Brain still aching from mental castigation, Leo comes up with the goods. Two Rivals, both with printed out contact cards so the party can keep some vague centralised notes on the myriad NPCs they’re encountering, and some additional information about them.

Each contact has some generic intelligence about their organisation, their reason for attending, what they intend to offer at the Auction, and additional (sometimes scandalous) information.

Each session I’ll be offering an opportunity for Leo to siphon a bit more for current or new contacts, drip-feeding the information rather than dumping it all at once.

Lord-Admiral Bastille VIII of the Bastille Dynasty

Image courtesy of FFG

“A martial man, conducting the affairs of his House as though it were a private navy. There are dozens of sour rumours swirling around the circumstances of his inheritance of Warrant of Trade and his poor relationship with the Imperial Navy. “

The Herald of Fane, Fane Disciples

(image: Marko Djurjevic)

“Intensely secretive and uncommunicative sect of Adeptus Mechanicus, devoted to the works and discoveries of Magos-Illuminate Zeriander Fane.”

Next stop: Nowhere

We had a mission: Gather something unique for the auction.

We had a time frame: Several months.

We didn’t have a heading. The Captain addressed all the potential plot leads from previous sessions and decreed them to all be equally worthy, therefore unworthy of a unique offering to the Obsidian Emporial.

The Captain cast his gaze across a map of the Nomads. So many worlds already discovered.

He stabbed his finger in the centre, a minor warp storm called the Void Sea. He asked “What’s here?”. I referred to my notes – I had only written one line:

“Here there be monsters.”

That was enough for the Captain. He ordered an immediate survey to find an unexplored system of interest in the Void Sea and to chart a course to it. We had a heading!

Final arrangements

The only thing remaining was to pick up any last-minute essentials from Mercy-mart for the voyage. The Captain acquired a Bullpup Cyber Mastiff (from Dark Heresy’s Book of Judgement) which is a bigger, meaner version of a cyber mastiff. Zilla acquired a single-shot grenade launcher to help deal with Really Big Problems.

Cast off!

Morale is high, plunder is in sight and with only one day to the warp point, everything seems to be going the Crew’s way! Nothing can dampen their spirits! All they need to do is a cheeky short hop to Gallionic, just a mere three days in warp, what could go wrong?

*Rolls*

001: Daemonic Incursion!

+++++++

Previous: Session 14: Voidbound Anew

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: Ogryn Servitor

Finished product first!

So a new Necromunda campaign has begun in earnest and the Dreadquill blog has been lacking over Christmas, so what better way to get back into the swing of posting than with a glut of Necromunda related goodies?

Last year I posted some WIPs of an Ogryn Servitor kitbashed from a bunch of parts I had lying around, and it remained base coated for several months (mostly because I didn’t want to tackle painting yellow. Over Christmas it got the paintjob it deserved.

The inspiration is, hopefully, obvious. It needed to be High Vis to give it that utilitarian look and offset the weird grimdark parts of it. Yes it’s a lobotomised mutant with a flamethrower and crushing claw, but it’s designed for carrying your luggage.

Gratuitous use of hazard stripes was also a must – how else are people going to know it’s dangerous and shouldn’t get too near?

I experimented with a new chipping technique I’d seen on some Primaris marines on instagram. Paint squiggly brown/black lines and highlight the lower part with your edge colour, giving them a sense of depth. A right royal pain in the arse to do, but overall I think it came out quite well.

The rest of the model I wasn’t too fussed about, so I experimented with a few other techniques. I’ve avoided drybrushing for years, preferring the time-consuming method of wet-blending instead. This year I’m trying to push my techniques a bit more (as well as save time), so the old drybrushes have been pulled out of storage.

The metal had been painted brown, with copious stippling of orange and strategic washes in the recesses. Orange stippling was used on some of the other metally-but-not-quite-metal parts too to simulate rust, something I experimented on with my original necromunda bases.

As this was a mini of new techniques, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try my hand at marble for the first time. A recipe I found involved lots of wet blended colours going on first (ranging from dark grey up to nearly white) in swooping patterns, then cracks painted on with black and highlighted up again.

I feel indifferent towards it? Maybe I’ll try a different marble colour next time – black and green has always been a favourite of mine.

Overall I’m very happy with how it came out. I found myself very uninspired getting him started off, but once the yellow went on the rest just fell into place.

Watch out for him opening an archeotech vault near you!

MOTB: Warp Geists

In a previous episode of the Orthesian Herald, we had our band of noble scallywags have their first bad warp jump coincide with their first daemon encounter.

I wanted to make some Ebon Geists – an interesting warp predator from the back of the Rogue Trader core rulebook. They’re not affiliated with any of the four main Chaos gods, so I felt easy throwing them at the party without any of our 40k veterans being able to guess what they were up against.

They had a spooky introduction, as the crew were responding to a faulty life support conduit deep in the underdecks of their ship. When the wall of ice from a leaking pipe came to life and shredded an armsman like an egg slice, there was considerable panic.

They were assembled from some parts of spirit hosts I had from my bits box, as well as a healthy helping of weird Chaos tentacles and probably a Tyranid bit or two to bulk them out.

They were assembled in an evening with copious amounts of plastic glue, so it didn’t hugely matter if things didn’t line up.

They needed to be painted up super quick, as I was playing on the same day as I finished making them!

A white undercoat followed by a number of different washes did the job. Blue all over, with a black wash towards the extremities and a crimson wash in the centre.

They had a good going-over with a grey-blue drybrush with a very fine drybrush of white at the extremities and they were done! I painted the bases to match my other minis, and the black rim around the edge to tidy them up was still drying as I read the intro to the game. Close call!

In the game they were quite brutal – a combination of Phase and Warp Weapon meant they could move about quite freely and harass players at the back of the group who thought they’d be away from melee range.

They were the cause of our first limb-loss as well, with one of them pulling our Explorator’s arm clean out of its socket with an unexpectedly deadly strike.

All in all I’m very pleased with how they came out for a few hours of kitbashing and washing – our players got their first taste of the warp and I managed to satiate my GM’s bloodlust for a little longer!

I’ll definitely be making some more of these guys for future though, I don’t think two alone can threaten the party any more…

MOTB: Ogryn servitor WIP

Our Necromunda Callowdecks campaign has been great fun, and it’s presented me with a bunch of cool new modelling challenges too.

One of those challenges was to produce a ‘robot automata’ model as represented in the ‘Archeo-hunt’ scenario. Basically you use a big stompy robot that stands in the middle of the map and gangs have to fight for control over it, guiding it to a vault to break it open and steal the goodies inside.

It hilariously recommends using the Ambot model, recommending it as ideal to represent the automata. A bit dry, considering (at time of writing) they’ve not even announced the Ambot model (despite us knowing it exists from a grainy image in one of the Gang War books) let alone have it available for sale.

Official, yet unattainable

Additionally, one of the generic Brutes you can purchase is an Ogryn Servitor, complete with plasma hand for when you don’t just want to knead and punch something until the consistency of skittles is achieved, but you also want to set it on fire too.

Time to crack out the bits box.

This guy was going to stand in as both ‘generic automata’ and ‘Ogryn servitor’, so the weapons needed to be generic enough to represent whatever was on those stat lines. In this case, it was big hitty hand and melta gun/plasma cutter, so something suitably shooty in the other hand.

The base was the last plastic Ogre Kingdoms mini I had in my possession from the Bag o’ Doom and it was heavily soiled in thick paint. I’m lazy, so I just scratched most of it off with a knife. Finished, not perfect!

The face piece was from a plastic Lord of the Rings armoured troll helmet turned upside down, the belly plate from some Ork vehicle.

The arms came from a bunch of toys that were recycled from a friend’s old office space – they were going to be thrown out, so he harvested all their tech arms and donated them to my bits box. I couldn’t tell you where they were from – perhaps transformers? Regardless, they’ve been too big to use on most projects I’ve done so far, but they were the perfect size for this one.

Cables were made with trusty guitar wire, the thickest I could find. I’ve not tried bass guitar wire yet, but I’ve got a few more beep-boop projects ahead, so there’s still time!

The Ogre Kingdoms range come with adorable little Sinbad slippers, which wasn’t quite the aesthetic I was going for. I shaved the toes down and stick on some heavy shoulder pads from Anvil Industries to give them a reinforced look. A searchlight from an Imperial vehicle sprue finished off the Angry JCB look I was going for.

All told I’m very pleased with how he came out! Considering he was nothing but a bunch of weird bits and cables for a long time, I’m excited to slap some paint onto him. I’m not super excited about the prospect of painting so much yellow, though…

And he’s undercoated!

MOTB: Gun servitors

Finished product first!

Last week I built some friendly beep-boops out of odds and ends from my bits box, this week I got round to painting them.

Hellgun beep-boop

These guys were a cheap and cheerful colour scheme – undercoated black, base colours layered on and washes applied. The metal was simply Leadbelcher with a black wash followed by a brown wash – no extra highlights applied. It was particularly harrowing to not go back and highlight it, but it probably saved me an entire evening’s work.

Heavy bolter beep-boop

The heavy servitors were painted to look more ‘official’ – they would be Navy-issue battle servitors, so needed a uniform on the lower half, along with some heraldry to make them look a bit fancy. The paper was just a bone coloured paint with a sepia wash (really loving the sepia wash at the moment, might even start preferring it to Agrax…)

The final touch was the Mechanicus heraldry on the shield. The cogboys keep the servitors going, even if they’re loaning them out to others. I wanted something to visually tie it back to my tech gang 16th Law as well, so the red and white helped.

Heavy stubber beep-boop

For the more ‘civilian’ models I originally had them in dark grey, but quickly got bored of that as everything I paint is dark grey these days. One of my gaming circle had just finished painting up some Poxwalkers in Convict Orange, and I really liked the contasting colours, so tried to do something similar.

These were just an orange base, washed black and highlighted again with the same orange. I drew the line at highlighting more – finished, not perfect!

Heavy flamer beep-boop

Who doesn’t like fire? These servitors were my first experiment with multi toned flesh. Ironrach Skin was used as the base, washed with Athonian Camoshade to get a sickly hue and highlighted with Ironrach again.

Some crimson washes were dabbed liberally around painful areas where metal meets flesh, then another highlight of Ironrach on extreme edges. Quite pleased with how all that came out!

Very happy with how all my beep-boops came out. I don’t have any more Goliath bodies to make more big servitors, but I’ve got quite a few odds and ends to make little ones. Perhaps some combat servitors are on the distant horizon…

MOTB: Gun servitors WIP

Finished product first!

I use gun servitors a lot in our games of Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy and have always eyed up the old gun servitor models on offer on ebay, but could never justify forking out a tenner for a single model, given I would need quite a few.

The original beep boops

As our Callowdecks campaign has got into full swing, my own personal Orlock gang has been saving up its pennies to pick up one of the ‘Lugger’ Servitor Brutes that is available to them. 3+ armour save from the front, 3 Wounds, Toughness 5 and can move and shoot with a Heavy Bolter? Sign me up!

The brief had become clear – build me an army of robo-friends worthy of Mordor. They needed to be suitable for use across multiple systems, so different weapon configurations were a must, and one of them needed to have a heavy bolter. Easy peasy!

Automated construction

Assembling the smaller servitors was fun – the heads were from Pig Iron miniatures from an old Dark Heresy project I had lying around, suitably grotesque but with their faces largely covered. The bodies were from the Genestealer Neophytes kit, and the legs donated from some old plastic Space Marine scouts with the pouches shaved down.

 

This first lad was given a heavy stubber from the Orlock kit, which with a bit of random circular plastic I had lying in my bits box, made the perfect cowling to glue the weapon straight onto the arm socket.

Robots, so hot right now

The next one build used a piece I’ve had in my bits box since I first started the hobby waaaaay back in the 7th Century. I have a lot of weird sponson weapons from old plastic vehicle kits that never fit on anything other than vehicles, or in this case, boopy robo-friends.

Flamers are great fun and dangerous to PCs regardless of what system you’re using.

Laser-like focus

I also wanted to build some slightly larger servitors, partially for variety, partially because I’d run out of scout legs, partially because I’d seen someone make them out of Goliath parts and I happened to have to spare in my bits box. They would make good military-grade war-bots rather than your run-of-the-mill civilian grade, plus sticking a heavy bolter to the side of those Neophyte bodies would be hilarious but woefully lopsided.

I had some bits from a vehicle project I’m working on, the heavy fusion repeating hellgun hot-shot volley-gun thing from the side of a Taurox. It is helpfully completely absent from the 40kRPG lines regarding rules, and it’s still a (relatively) new addition to the traditional Imperial armoury, so its silhouette is not as recognisable as, say, a lascannon. This would give me free reign to upscale it or downscale it depending on the encounter without someone going “why is that shooting like a lascannon when it’s clearly a lasgun”

absolute unit

In awe of the size of this lad. The final servitor would be the one (hopefully) attached to my Orlock gang. They got some extra heraldry odds and ends to cover up the worst of the Goliath furnace plating and give them a bit of extra bulk.

This head was from the classic Space Marine tactical squad, the bionics made from a combination of Anvil Industry bionic parts and odds and ends from my bits box. The heavy bolter, again, from a weapon mount for a vehicle – this time the pintle heavy bolter from the sidecar of a Space Marine attack bike with the stand snipped off. Some little bits of guitar wire as cabling rounded them off quite nicely.

I’m very happy with how they’ve all turned out, to the point where I wished I’d made another 8 for a full gamut of robo-lads. I’ve been staring intently at some ebay lots going soon, but those kinds of projects will have to wait til after Christmas I think.

Sneak preview

And in a sneaky sneaky preview, here’s a quick snap of the lads all painted up. I’ll get some better pictures up once I’ve had an opportunity to snap them in daylight!

Orthesian Herald 14 – Voidbound Anew

+++++

Last time on the Herald our bold team of Explorers were raiding the untouched treasure vaults of the Golden Valley Estates on the storm-wracked Cilice Prime. They had found the Missionary they had come here to find, all that was left was to tidy things up and plot the next course into the void…

risk and reward

We picked up where we left off, with the crew dragging what loot from the Estate’s vaults they could find. I had tailored each estate with baddies and loot themed to the Estate’s original owners, and each vault would also contain a plot seed for locations further into the Nomad Stars for future adventures.

Glaw Estate:  The Glaw Household is a house in decline who make money wherever they can – extortion, slavery and blackmail are their specialities. They have a strange penchant for acquiring religious iconography – whether for some illicit trade or forlorn sense of guilt for their black history, none can say.

  • The missing missionary and associated plot
  • A Condemnor Boltgun (with silver stake-thrower for purging daemons)
  • a few vials of holy flamer fuel
  • Seed:  A dusty book that talks of a lost relic, an archeotech power hammer called Piety’s Charge that once belonged to a lieutenant of Saint-Admiral Troubadous. According to the book, it was last seen on the world of Sobek in the Heathen Trail.

Grin Estate: House Grin no longer exist, but once upon a time they were the name in black market weaponry – anything they couldn’t manufacture they could acquire for you, at great cost

  • Several crates of counterfeit xenos weapons
  • Plasma gun with (illegal) starflare vents (which turns it into a flamer)
  • Seed: A stasis-vault containing a trade agreement between House Grin and the Gunmongers of Fane. The agreement states the bearer is entitled to contract the gunmongers to manufacture weapons, on the condition the bearer provides a working prototype. The stasis-vault also contains a memolith with the coordinates for a Gunmonger facility in the system of Chital

Fallaset Estate:  The Fallaset dynasty still exists, but the short-tempered Rogue Trader in charge is content to fritter away his finances on expensive hunting expeditions and exacting revenge on those who slighted him. They made their wealth on the beast trade – capturing, killing and processing exotic beasts and vermin from across the Nomads for research, materials or blood sport.

  • Dozens of Good Quality Beast Cages in various shapes and sizes, from tiny rodent-sized cages to gargantuan cages designed to hold creatures of terrifying bulk .
  • Shocknets, shock collars and other beast-catching equipment
  • a Solo-pattern Boltgun
  • Seed: Two of the largest cages appear to have lost power and been torn open from within. Their data-plaque is damaged, but it reads something about “breeding pair from Gallionic. Client; Beast House”

Beefington Estate:  The Beefington fortune is built on one thing: muscle. Both from vat-grown meat from their huge farms to chem-hanced thugs drawn from penal colonies and feral worlds. Now they make their money above board, servicing military contracts across the subsector for anyone who needs a blunt weapon to solve a problem.

  • 80 crates of Rad Missiles (p51 HA)
  • hundreds of crates of Barrage (p66 HA)
  • Seed: Coordinates to a secret Beefington drugs laboratory on a hidden moon near Seldon’s Folly in Skylar’s Lie

There was only one estate left on the map that the team had yet to venture to – the Beefington Estate, sworn enemies of the Arch Militant’s family, the Von Gunn Household.

Too much of a good thing

At the beginning of the Cilice adventure I reflected on what I got wrong, and it was no more apparent that at this moment. Writing all this stuff was so much fun, it never occurred to me that it might not be so much fun to actually grind your way through it all and suddenly remember half a dozen new names and places. As a writer, I am in desperate need of an editor.

As we started the session, I could tell there wasn’t great enthusiasm for clearing out another Estate – we had spent four sessions in and around Cilice for what was really supposed to be just a minor errand. It was time to clear the decks and get back to the fun stuff.

I was honest with my group at this stage, pretty much telling them all of the above. Rather than retcon anything, I suggested we handle the final estate like a boarding action – a hundred or so armsmen had now been landed on the planet following the Captain’s orders, and were ready to storm the poorly-defended final estate.

Three minutes and a few dice rolls later, they had won the day and ‘completed’ the planet so they could move on to other things. I handled the estate narratively, explaining the debased here were slow, imperceptive and incredibly vicious when roused, with clear evidence of decades of drug abuse. Linking that to House Beefington’s penchant for illegal drug manufacture gave the Arch Militant some socio-political ammunition to fire at them later on.

With all the objectives out the way and tedious paperwork abandoned, it was time to reassess and plan our next moves.

Those who fall behind are left behind

I mentioned that the crew had been on their feet for more than 30 hours – it was time to return to the Rightful Remit. Not only was this mechanically correct (I track time because I’m a masochist) but provided a good excuse to have an in-character discussion about our next moves.

In preparation for this discussion, I drew up a star chart with some ‘known’ warp routes that Navigator Mahd’Naz would have under his belt. I stressed they weren’t all the known warp routes, but the ones that would be relevant to the upcoming journey.

Known warp routes from Cilice

The problem arose again. There were some mildly interesting places to go, but in this circumstance you couldn’t just split the party or pop in for a quick adventure – warp travel is arduous and dangerous. Nobody at this stage could justify several months of travel to head to an unknown place with an unknown agenda.

The Captain made the call – we’re heading back to Mercy to hand the quest in and reassess from there.

Tidying up

Astropath Gil calculates they’re too far to send an astropathic message to Brother Espin without inviting daemons to a pool party in his skull, and Cairn was the nearest possible communication point. It seemed that was the direction to head.

I swept the map of Cilice of any additional ‘encounters’, saying the mysterious energy signature had disappeared. We’d had enough of this, and I was already working on plans to re-use these encounters later on in the campaign to give them proper gravitas.

While the crew were discussing their next move and drawing up plans for the distillery, I used this opportunity to feed them some intel.

With so much Intrigue™ happening, I didn’t want to limit plot revelations to whole plot episodes. I had quickly learned from my mistakes that dumps of too much good stuff can be bad. Instead I leaned on a character I had previously set up, a rumourmonger called Getz with shady connections, to feed Gil information as and when it cropped up. This would hopefully keep players up to date with happenings and make the universe feel like a larger place around them. They were making ripples, and they were learning their actions had far reaching consequences.

“Name’s Leo Getz, ’cause whatever you want, Leo gets! Get it?”

We need a spam filter

Leo is eager to impress. He was sending so much garbage through the astropathic relay that the juniors were all working overtime and had to draft in extra scribes to deal with all his nonsense. Gil send a stern brain-ache message back while they deciphered anything useful from the spam.

I asked for a Search check, with degrees of success granting additional bits of information. He aced the check, and got all five handouts:

+++ Deciphered intelligence #1 from Informant Getz, day 119 shipboard time of Nomad Stars Expedition +++

1. Fel is hiring skilled miners and prospectors for a contract somewhere in Skylar’s Lie

2. Lady Ash has not been seen or heard from since the Rightful Remit

3. Baroness Ravenula has publicly announced the discovery of a new civilisation of humans and has departed to convert them to the Imperial Creed

4. Lord-Captain Patroneus and Lady Chosokabe have set sail on a joint expedition deep into the Nomads

5. The Obsidian Emporial auction house on Mercy has come into possession of something very valuable and intends to put it in front of bidders as quickly as possible

+++ Messages end +++

None of it was actionable, but it helped the players feel like they were part of something bigger.

Much ado about ambull

We still had a question mark hanging over our heads about the colony of ambull underneath the Fallaset Estate. The (presumably) parents had been offed, but there could easily be more of them living in the warrens deep beneath the earth. Nobody fancied an underground expedition, so turned to Freeman for some WMD expertise.

Cue montage!

Finally getting to utilise his Chem Use skills, Freeman whips up some anti-Ambull toxin from samples of the creatures he took from the nest and some rad missiles pinched from the Glaw Estate.

By his reckoning, it could easily wipe out the nest, the Ambull and any margin of error for a few kilometres around. The downside was that it would render the Fallaset Estate uninhabitable for a really long time. The Captain did not consider this a downside and gave the order.

Not willing to risk their own necks delivering the payload, they stopped off at Stiletto station where they knew there were a bunch of servitors just hanging around and pressed them into service. With some minor tweaks to their pathfinding abilities, Freeman strapped the Ambull nukes to their chests, said a prayer and pushed them out the back of an Arvus Lighter.

via GIPHY

The Captain gave a short speech to the technomats who were sad to see their newest friends leave, saying they “were all going to go live on a farm”.

To everyone’s surprise everything goes to plan, and they watch the Fallaset Estate become a hellish, radioactive crater from orbit. Good work team!

The hatchling keepers

Contact!

Three new plasma signatures are detected on long-range augers in the outer reaches of the system. The Voidmaster identifies them as a merciless pack of Chaos pirates called the Hatchling Keepers, leader by the dreaded Captain Moloch. They are an infamous pack of hit-and-run pirates who can tackle vessels and fleets many times their own size, and as their name suggests, prowl the Hatchling Worlds domain for prey.

Shortly after detecting them, the signatures disappeared from augers. They were a week away from their current position, so the threat was not immediate, but still concerning. The crew deduced they had likely gone into silent running and moving to engage.

They notice Captain Avag and her charge were also moving to the jump point of the system, changing course after the Chaos raiders entered the system. The Captain pulled some pretty agonising faces trying to justify picking a fight with them, but in the end decided discretion was the better part of valour and made the order to flee the system.

As an aside, this was my Deus Ex Machina for keeping the game running and moving the players on from this system. They were done here, and were starting to grow tired of all the excess crap I had piled on them. This was my unsubtle way of agreeing with them.

I had, however, run the numbers for the potential conflict. If the players could steal the initiative and have Avag’s Frigate and the mechanicus vessel on side, it would be a close fight, but tipped in the players’ favour. The Captain worked much of this out, but his character’s pride forbid him from asking for help from Avag, and his Naval background pointed out the chances of getting the drop on a trio of experienced raiders in silent running required more resources than they had available to them.

I’ve never seen a player so twisted up in conflict and I fuggin’ lapped it up.

Carry on

With the Captain still nursing his pride, the team plot a course and make the first jump. The 3 days to Cairn are uneventful, and the astropath uses the few hours between warp jumps to send a brain-message to Espin.

“We have secured Cilice, located the missionary and returning the bodies PS upon leaving we found Chaos lol thx bye”

The route to Mercy was (poorly) estimated by Mahd’Naz at 4 weeks, and barring a minor gellar field fluctuation and a generous helping of corruption points, the Unbroken Resolve arrive in the Telos system intact in little under 2 weeks. A round of gin for everyone!

Welcome home

The first order of the day was contacting Brother Espin and Free-Captain Acheron that they had returned. They returned to his bloated pilgrim boat, The Sword of Saint Troubadous, to hand the quest in.

From space it looks like a hunchback baron cradling a hoard of gold. Cathedral spires extend from its spine and every inch is covered in stained glass, ornate gothic pillars and hand-carved statues of every Saint in the Imperial Creed.

Shuttles scurry about like insects feeding their queen

The hangar bay stinks with the raw musk of human existence – there are sleeping cubbies set into the walls, hammocks hang from the gantries high above your heads, and canvas shanties exist around the peripherals, despite the constant roar of shuttles dropping off pilgrims and supplies. You have no doubts the rest of the ship is in a similar situation.

He pays them their reward and thanks them for their service. The team leave out a lot of what they considered need-to-know information, pocket the gold and turn to leave. Before they do so, however, he wheels out a huge cart jangling with arms and armour.

Turns out Ol’ Espy had been hoarding some crusader armour – about a dozen suits of plasteel plate (Armour Value 6 – I counted it as fancy carapace armour) with some swords, shields, bolters and flamers, dressed to the nines with religious iconography and purity paraphernalia. If only someone in the party had a bunch of religious wackos following her around who could do with a bit of extra equipment…

They bundle it into the back of their lander and take off before he changes his mind.

it is I, Lombar the archaeologist!

Back on Mercy Actual, the team head to Mayweather Mooring to find Lombar and pick up the loot they had tasked him with recovering from the bridge of the Rightful Remit.

“It is I, friends! Lombar the Archaeologist!”

They had some questions that needed answers. This time though, they decided not to mentally peel his psyche open like a brain banana and peer inside with space magic, but rather do it the old fashioned way. Get him reet proper pished. To Telasco’s!

It doesn’t take them long to get him suitably drunk. He sobs into his expensive wine while blubbing incoherently about Lynn, his bodyguard ogryn, who lost her family and he is all she has left. They continue prodding him for information, primarily about Captain Avag and the mystery mechanicus ship in Cilice, but he doesn’t have much more than they already know.

He does, however, drop a little tidbit about Brother Espin, which they weren’t anticipating. Ol’ Espy tipped off Baroness Ravenula about the Unbroken Resolve heading to the Void Sea, a rumour that the crew themselves started when they left Mercy last time.

Although they weren’t quite sure what to make of this revelation, the Intrigue™ had thickened.

Follow the free man

Explorator Freeman, as is his wont, did not attend the Plot Party but instead set about his usual tech-shenanigans.

I felt this was a suitably important moment – the first proper refitting of their first ship. I had a particular image in my mind that I couldn’t shake, so I blew the dust off my drawing tablet and set to work.

I need to work on my concept art a lot, but I was pretty pleased with how it came out for a few hours’ work.

A ship at stake in the High jink

Zilla has been off pursuing his personal leads. He returns to the High Jink – rotating bar on a spire high above Mercy Longshore, an exclusive club for pilots to drink, swap war stories and gaze out at the weird and wonderful voidships at harbour.

Chartist Captain Acheron – (1977manda, deviantart)

He meets up with Captain Acheron, a buddy from the last time they were at port, to get any juicy gossip. He lands a big one on them:

“The Obsidian Emporial has a special order – a rare class of light cruiser is up for auction in 3 months. Many big names in Mercy are expected.”

A new ship you say? Many big names you say? We’ll be keeping a VERY close eye on this one…

Arena for an arena

Finally, Freeman goes looking for a Resolution Arena in the markets of Mercy. He wants to go all Battlestar Galactica and have a punch-up palace in the underdecks, but he fluffs his Acquisition check and doesn’t have the right change on him at the time.

A strange man sidles up to him, identifying himself as Chief Wrecker Davit of the Pale Wreckers. He overheard Freeman looking for something he has, and he is happy for Freeman to take it off his hands on one condition.

Chief Wrecker Davit – (Mark Tarrisse)

“All you have to do is fight for it in the Bazaar Arena tonight.”

An arena for an arena? I think we all know how the next session will start…

+++++++

Orthesian Herald 13 – The Glaw Estate

+++++

Last time on the Herald, our players landed an incursion force on the storm-wreathed world of Cilice Prime, stole a Taurox pulling the universe’s last known supply of Cilice Gin, leveled an estate with its guns and psychically commanded an army of cannibal abhumans to fight itself. They were left with a few more marks on the map, a full tank of gas and a compulsion to loot.

Rain lashes down, running across the uneven valley floor into a deep, dark river. Patches of fungus seem to be growing quite contentedly by the side of the road, and every now and then you catch a glimpse of more figures in the rain that scurry away to hide as you thunder past in your Taurox. 

The ugly palace-fortress of the Glaw Estate begins to emerge from thick curtains of rain. A massive construction that was probably once quite beautiful, now layered thick with armour and crumbling weaponry. 

Saddling up

The Grin Estate was now swarming with loyal armsmen and technomats brought down from the orbiting Unbroken Resolve on heavy halo barges. They were on hand to ruthlessly loot the estate of its worldly belongings and reinforce the Explorer’s immediate retinue.

The Missionary, Lyoness, hand picked a few more of her covenant to join her. She decided that her Covenant were named after ancient Terran saints, famed for their war-hymns. We are joined by Zeppelin, Ziggy, Iggy and Acey-Deecey.

The commandeered Taurox, dubbed “War Pig”.

We fill out the Taurox’s capacity with Master Zilla at the controls and Von Gunn on guns and thunder off into the rain.

The Glaw Estate

No messing about this time. With the Astropath firing off his psychic mind scan (much to the surprise and discomfort of everyone trapped in the little metal box with him) and ascertaining the resistance was next to none, the Captain gives the order to ram the front gates.

Knock knock, bitches

There is clearly nowhere near the level of intelligence as in the Grin Estate, and whatever wretches are still present in the estate scatter and flee at the big angry gunbuggy. The team slowly and cautiously make their way to the lower levels.

They discover tread marks and scraps of pilgrim robes around the Glaw Estate leading down to the vaults. There is also a lot of broken religious iconography around the place, unusual for a criminal organisation.

It’s dark, and the vaulted ceilings carry their voices out into the darkness. They occasionally spot more of the abhumans, but they always stay just out of sight and weapons range. The Explorers decide it’s best not to waste the ammunition.

“Oi am weldin’ this doo-ah”

They arrive at the vault, a similar size and makeup to the one from the Grin Estate. It is air tight and sealed from inside. Oggy-Bong fires up the lascutter. The players had had a sinking feeling since they arrived, and the “YOU HAVE ALERTED THE HORDE” noise was palatable. Oggy-Bong shouts over the gunfire it will take just over a minute for him to get the door open.

Liquid hunger pours from the darkness, dressed in rags and purple flesh.

“Abhumans m’lud! Thaasands of ’em!”

This section it was time to play hard and fast with the rules. If they were able to beat a target’s TB of 3, they killed it. I put a little marker down on the board to represent a body, and the model gets brought on from another table edge in subsequent turns. Weight of numbers and the press of bodies in a confined space would be the main threat.

We had a few extra Armsmen in tow this game – this is just beyond the upper limit of how many player-controlled models I would prefer to have on the board to keep things flowing smoothly. The Astropath player’s actual real-life brother was in the area that day though, and rather than delay the game or leave him out while his brother rolled dice, I offered him a place in the session.

The Covenant were played by my mad green techno-monks

The wretches came in waves, crashing against the bulwark of the Orthesian Dynasty. Everyone played their part in sinking bullets and plasma into wasted flesh, dropping the wretches left and right. The bodies begin to pile up.

After a turn or two, it becomes apparent this might not be sustainable for six turns – they would either run out of luck or ammunition. Freeman decides the best course of action would be to plug his potentia coil into the operational lascutter and turn it up to 11.

Against tricky odds, he superjuices the lascutter, knocking a few turns off the clock as poor Oggy-Bong clings on for dear life.

Lyoness (green-haired Escher) and her Covenant plunge into the fray

The team spread out, trying to cover as many entrances as possible. Von Gunn and armsman Felicity cover the top left corridor. Felicity finds out she is entirely superfluous and there largely for moral support. The Captain and Thud guard the bottom left entrance. Astropath Gil and Voidmaster Zilla take up centre stage, using their ranged weapons to most effect. Lyoness and her Covenant of mad chainsaw-wielding warrior women lock down the uh.. everywhere.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the board:

BLOOP

Dedicated melee character Captain Orthesian discovers the hilarious repercussions of combining a low movement speed with a force field that teleports you randomly away from trouble whenever you are hit. The Captain spends most of this game charging into combat, getting fingered by some hungry schmuck with a pointy stick and his displacer field panics and throws him 2d10 inches in a random direction to repeat the process. I even had to add a new tile to the board just to encompass the distance moved.

Hearty chortles and slapped thighs all round, except the Captain.

It was coming up to the final turn, and things were turning sour. Ammunition was running low, the Captain was not in the melee enough to make his power sword’s presence felt, and the Covenant were looking battered and bruised.

Tell my storyyyyy

Iggy falls to the wretches. They tear off her hand and begin to drag her into the darkness. Lyoness is having none of this nonsense and hurtles off to save her. Iggy’s life is saved, but she might NEED A HAND from now on.

The last few inches of vault door are carved apart by Oggy Bong. As the thick blast door slams inwards, internal lumens activate, blasting the darkness with holy light. A mighty Imperial Aquila, polished to within an inch of its life, is emblazoned on the opposite wall of the vault. Its blessed light shines through the darkness, the wretches recoiling in fear and awe at the sign of the God-Emperor. They had done it.

Vault-dwellers

You head into the vault, down the stairs and underneath the shining Imperial Aquila. The air is stale and tastes of death.

In the vault proper you see a congregation of Imperial worshippers in a circle lying dead on the floor, each executed with a las round to the back of the head. There are no signs of a struggle.

A senior priest is propped up against a baroque mobile shrine on tank treads, a las wound through the side of his head and a laspistol in his hand. A hand-written note is placed neatly in front of him that simply reads “Without the dark there can be no light. Emperor forgive me.”

There was no doubt that this was the Imperial Mission that Brother Espin requested they find. They said a small prayer and got to the important task of looting the vault for everything it was worth.

Gold and jewels as far as the eye could see, painted chalices, stained glass windows and ornamented priestly robes – everything in the vault looked like it would have been donated to (or taken from) churches across Imperial space. The Missionary said a small prayer to the lost and opened her loot sack wide.

Standing proud of the jewels was a display case holding an arcane-looking weapon – a bolter with built-in stake thrower. A Condemnor-pattern boltgun (page 81 of Faith and Coin) with a crowssbow mechanism designed to fire holy bolts inscribed with runes of banishment and exorcism. Valuable in its own right, but in the hands of a daemon huntress…

The mobile shrine-canter had build-in loud-hailers and incense burners and a simple movement-slave module so it can trundle along behind its owner. It has a shrine on the front clearly meant to hold a large weapon, but was currently empty. A dusty book sits nearby, most of its pages missing or faded, but it talks of a lost relic – an archeotech power hammer called Piety’s Charge that once belonged to a lieutenant of Saint-Admiral Troubadous. According to the book, it was last seen on the world of Sobek in the Heathen Trail…

Mount up, move out

The Captain calls in support, comfortable that his armsmen can strip it of all its worth now the Explorers have had their pick of the prize. He makes sure to instruct them to take the big shiny Aquila as well, it would look excellent above the desk in his quarters. They make tracks for third palace, the Fallaset Estate.

Some lore checks are rolled on the way over. The Fallaset dynasty still exists, unlike the owners of the other estates, but the short-tempered Rogue Trader in charge is content to fritter away his finances on expensive hunting expeditions and exacting revenge on those who slighted him. 

They made their wealth on the beast trade – capturing, killing and processing exotic beasts and vermin from across the Nomads for research, materials or blood sport. I’m sure that information won’t be important.

The Fallaset estate is abandoned, the only sign life is the greenery growing around where the roofs have caved in. The front door is ajar.

Inside, they find remnants of wretches, most brutally torn apart. They come across large footprints, and eventually, a gaping hole through the floor of the estate leading all the way down to the vault level. The team gird their loins and carefully make their vaultward.

They see the vault in the distance – it has been brutally torn open from the inside. The Captain thinks he knows what did this, so he begins issuing orders to-

REEEEEEEEE

ROLL FOR INITIATIVE!

The rumbling beneath their feet crescendos in an explosion of sodden dirt and marble. Two massively built creatures burst from the floor, encased in insect-like armour with hugely oversized arms tipped with iron-hard claws. Ambulls!

(If you want to see how these guys were built, check out this week’s Meanwhile, On The Bench)

This could get ugly REAL quick

Von Gunn: “Permission to freak out and shoot my nearest team-mate?”

Captain: “Denied”

Von Gunn: “Sorry sir, I failed my Fear check. Eat shit, Freeman” *blam blam blam*

I love the Fear tables, and the look of panic that washed across everyone’s face when Von Gunn (gun by name, gun by nature) failed his shock test so badly against the incoming creatures of the deep that he would be randomly assigning a target. The party’s greatest asset in a combat swiftly became their biggest threat. Another reminder to people that Willpower should not be your dump stat.

Luckily for Freeman, this was one of the statistically few times Von Gunn actually missed a target, much to my disappointment.

“Uh guys? Help?”

The team open fire, splitting their efforts against both Ambulls. One had popped up quite some distance from the group as I had openly rolled a random direction for the beasties to arrive. The Ambull are insanely powerful and distressingly fast for their size, and could comfortably splatter a player character in one round if the dice are in their favour. To counter this viciousness, I wanted it to seem as fair as possible as to who would get picked on. If someone died, it would be on the dice, and not me.

Lyoness and her Covenant (minus Iggy, who was back on the Resolve getting her hand seen to) opened up with their flamers, dousing the poor creature in so much hotsauce that practically takes it out of combat for the rest of the session. Lyoness jams her weapon from over-enthusiastic flaming, but the damage is done.

Her and her Covenant spend the remainder of the combat enthusiastically carving it up with chainswords, rarely dealing enough damage to hurt it properly, but enough to keep it busy.

Back on the other side, all the armsmen panic and open up, bouncing their lightweight shot and autopistol rounds off its hard carapace. With Von Gunn a gibbering wreck for a few turns, they would need some thrilling heroics to deal with this Ambull before it finally got its shit together and landed a hit on someone.

ENTER FREEMAN.

Freeman: “I roll Acrobatics to do a sick flip and land on its back like in Starship Troopers”

GM: “Well shit, that’s probably going to be super hard as you don’t have Acrobatics or-”

Freeman: “001. Critical pass”

YEAH GET SOME

So our spider-legged techpriest sails through the air with the greatest of ease, doing a sick flip and planting himself firmly on the beast’s back. He plunges his power axe into the thing’s neck and it screeches in pain, thick ichor dribbling out onto the floor.

The armsmen panic, and one of them accidentally shoots the Captain in the back while he’s trying to stab the Ambull.

Luckily the displacer field activates and teleports the captain a LONG way away. Good news for not getting shot, bad news if you’re a melee character trying to stab a giant alien beastie to death.

Von Gunn finally comes to his senses and blasts the first Ambull through the eyeholes. It screeches and collapses. Freeman massively flubs his Agility check to get out the way and is crushed by the corpse. The dice giveth, the dice taketh away…

Friends! I have fallen and I can’t get up!

Zilla and Gil have been contributing, but not in a noticeable way. Zilla’s fancy autogun doesn’t cut the mustard against brutes with a high Toughness Bonus, and Gil’s only chance is to use his plasma pistol on Maximal, only getting to fire every other round. Great IF he hits. Which he never did this combat.

Von Gunn turns to see a flaming wreck of a creature being carved up by angry ladies with chainswords. Lyoness has backed off and is shouting moral encouragement after realising just quite how much damage one of those fists do. (It’s 1d10+10 with Swift Attack) Von Gunn takes aim and uses double shot to crack its skull wide open.

With the sound of steam escaping from betwixt toasted carapace like a lobster in the soup, the final Ambull comes crashing to the ground. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief while doing a quick check on everyone’s health. The Captain sets his sight on the vault doors, wide open and inviting, and congratulates everyone on a good fight.

The Astropath uses the dying moments to use Sensory Deprivation on his brother who shot the captain in the back with Felicity. All’s fair in love and war, eh?

+++++++

MOTB: Ambull of the Golden Valleys

Finished product first!

As the daring deeds of the Orthesian Herald unfold, our heroic band of explorers find themselves in the Golden Valleys of Cilice, a foreboding place filled with forgotten sins and terrible secrets.

One such secret belongs to an estate overrun with escaped creatures, a perfect opportunity to visit a classic Rogue Trader adversary, the Ambull.

A modern rendition from FFG’s Creatures’ Anathema

There was no way I was going to shell out for a pair of classic metal Ambulls from the 80s, and even if I did, the scale creep of models over the past 30 years would have left them looking very meek relative to the terrifying stat block they have. An alternative was needed.

Cue a quick dabble into the DnD universe for some splendid (and cheap!) pre-built Umber Hulk minis from Noble Knight games. They aren’t perfect, but they’re big, mean and look damn close enough. Plus they were hella cheap, and picked both up from ebay for less than a tenner – a selling point indeed!

The incredible hulks

They arrived quickly, and I was immediately impressed.

These are big bois

I had never got my hands on pre-primed models before, having been skeptical about the quality of such a thing. Given that these were to be my Villains Of The Week, I wasn’t fussed about quality.

Potato quality picture

I had done some reading about the quality of such minis, some people recommending you remove the primer and add your own, others recommend painting straight over the primer, others suggested priming over the top. The last seemed the least hassle for me, and as I was planning on experimenting with paint techniques on these guys anyway, it made most sense.

Upon having a hands-on with the minis, I also discovered some pretty heinous mould lines running across large sections of armour. They would have to be scraped off – a pretty straightforward job considering it was quite soft plastic, but it meant they definitely would need re-priming.

Footloose

They were hunched over quite a bit, and I wasn’t keen on the pre-moulded base they came supplied with. A bit of snipwork with my pinchy-grabbers and they were free. Time to build some custom bases!

Custom bases with my poor attempt at rivets

Using some big bases, presumably lifted from an old Sentinel kit, I wanted them to look like they were lurking in the sumps of an underhive somewhere. At the time of construction, Ambulls were only rumoured to be returning to Necromunda, so I had built this in anticipation of using them in other systems. Of course, now we know about the Am-Bot, which will be an exciting encounter in its own right later on…

Standing tall

The soft plastic took to pinning rather nicely, and I tried to lean them back on their bases a bit to give them more height. They’re described as hunched and gorilla-like in stature, but the amount of stoop the original models had meant their mandibles were basically scraping along the floor. Leaning them back has given them almost an inch worth of height.

Being careful to put at least one pin through a thicker section of base

Rivets were attempted by snipping up lengths of goblin spear. They came out weird and misshapen, so for the purposes of ‘Finished Not Perfect’ it’ll do, but I’ll have to readdress my tactic for doing rivets in the future.

We’re going to need a bigger net…

With both Ambulls pinned, mould lines cleared and bases prepped, they just needed to be undercoated ready for a a different painting technique I was excited to try out.

Ombre Hulks

REEEEEEEEE

These guys were painted in record time and I had a blast doing it. They were undercoated in grey, a daring new technique (for me at least) I premiered with my Escher gang, and then attacked them with washes.

The brief I gave myself was; can you paint a big beasty using only washes and drybrushing? The answer was: ABSOLUTELY

About to drop the hottest rap album this century

I divided the model into roughly three sections, scientifically referring to them as ‘fleshy bits’, ‘armoury bits’ and ‘other bits’. Fleshy bits got two washes of Reikland Fleshshade, armoured bits got two washes of Athonian Camoshade for that dirty green look, and other bits got a thorough going-over with some Nuln Oil.

A quick drybrush of Rotting Flesh across basically everything, with some more Reikland Fleshshade dabbed onto the armour in corners and creases, and the whole weird, disgusting look was complete. Applying the washes took about 15 minutes tops, with the only timesink being drying times.

Closeup of the hand details

I picked out the eyes with a nice evil-looking red. Evil beasties always have red eyes, right? I broke my one rule (only a little bit though) and did an edge highlight on the claws and mandibles in Elf Flesh, if only to draw attention to the sharp pointiness of them.

Fissures and cracks in the armour plating were dabbed with Reikland Flesh

The base was done with a liberal application of Tamiya Clear Green, my favourite underhive gunk paint, and splashed a bit up the legs for authenticity. I could spend ages edge highlighting all the armour plates or adding additional shades to the flesh, but it was now Finished, Not Perfect and I was dead happy with them.

You’ll get to see them in action during this week’s Orthesian Herald, but I couldn’t resist doing a little photoshoot with them anyway. Enjoy!