Monthly Archives: July 2014

Blood! Fire! War! Hate!

Since I wrote this post I’ve been working away on two more Khorne Berserkers to join The Bloodbeasts.
khorne-berserker-convert-or-die-4I gave this first Berserker a traditional pose, launching himself forwards into battle. The bare arms, which I used for both miniatures, helped to emphasis both a gladiatorial heritage and the ferocious nature of this warrior. He relies on his strength and rage rather than any clever flourishes. The spiked club really drives this home, he won’t be parrying like a fencer or floating like a butterfly but once that weapon has smacked into your skull a couple of times that won’t really matter.khorne-berserker-convert-or-die-5

khorne-berserker-convert-or-die-6For the second I wanted a more restrained stance. Khorne’s followers are brought down as much by ego as by bloodlust or savagery, belief in their own prowess in battle blinding them to their decent into fanatical rage. I admit I tend to struggle with the image of Khorne’s followers as “always angry, all the time”. I can imagine their fury overwhelming them in the heat of battle, and suffering from a twitchy addiction to killing at other times, but even they remain, at core, men not daemons. As men they need to eat and sleep (albeit dreaming bloody dreams), as well as preparing to do more violence in Khorne’s name. The Red Butchers are described as being immobilised within their terminator armour between battles (and chained up for good measure) but reason dictates that if all Khorne’s warriors required the same measures to control them his cult would have flared briefly, then burned itself out in a flurry of violence. Without some recourse to rational thought and some degree of forward planning the World Eaters and their various offshoots and imitators would have gone extinct millennia ago, hacking themselves apart for want of adversaries or simply dying of exhaustion, used up husks abandoned by the Blood God.

With this in mind I wanted to capture a more controlled Berserker, still clearly a ruthless killer but unlikely to fall upon his own weapon in sacrifice or turn upon his squad-mates anytime soon.khorne-berserker-convert-or-die-1I used a Beastmen axe and arms which fit perfectly on the Berserker torso and helped to give him a pose of martial arrogance – as though he has just felled an enemy champion and is now callously selecting the next who is worthy of facing him.khorne-berserker-convert-or-die-2

khorne-berserker-convert-or-die-3As well making these characters I also wanted to write a little more about the concept behind the Hawkmoths. I’ve deliberately wanted to keep my ideas about my Space Marines Chapter’s early history ambiguous, and just a little sinister, as that element of secrecy and uncertainty adds a great deal to the narrative of the official cannon. I want to know if the Minotaur’s are really descended from the World Eaters, or to find out more about the Charadons, or discover Cypher’s true goal – but I like not knowing better. The best example must be the two missing primarchs – there is no explanation that I can think of (within the context of the fiction itself) that could explain what they did that was bad enough to explain such total censure. That is their abiding quality, the thing that keeps people talking about them, guessing and theorising after all these years. What I’m driving at, somewhat pretentiously, is that I don’t know, and I don’t want to know, the origins of my Hawkmoths. The secret must be something powerful and terrible enough to make them believe that they were betrayed by the Imperium, that turning to the worship of Chaos would actually be better than continuing to live the lie of servitude to the Emperor. It’s not simply self-interest that drives the Beasts of Ruin but real bitterness, they don’t want to pillage loyalist planets just to accrue power or slaves, or even the attention of the Gods, but for revenge.

With that in mind I wrote a short piece on the influence of Khorne amongst the newly rebelled Beasts of Ruin.

The space marines of the Hawkmoths chapter were known for their berserk battle-rages and killing furies that often left allies and civilians dead and meant that few Imperial Commanders trusted them or called for their assistance unless it became absolutely necessary. One persistent rumour suggests that they were created through a blasphemous chimerical fusion of gene-seed from the Blood Angels and World Eaters, attempting to control the Black Rage of the former by exorcising it through the persistent fury of the latter. Whatever the truth to this it is certainly the case that many of the Hawkmoth’s tactical doctrines rely on an overwhelming assault on enemy positions regardless of losses and rumours from the front lines speak of inhuman butchery and wanton destruction. It is little wonder then that those berserkers who joined the Beasts of Ruin chose Khorne as a focus of their worship. For some this has led to a terrible degeneration, a red-madness that seethes within them and forces their handlers to keep them chained and sedated between battles. For others the transition has been less marked. Their battle doctrines barely changed when they replaced servitude to the Imperium with the patronage of the Blood God but in them the poison of chaos goes far deeper than it does in their squadmates and there are few who would not choose to face the fiery gaze of those frothing madmen rather than the icy, calculating eyes of their brothers.

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We Will Crush The Open Sky

HeldrakeThe Heldrake, perhaps more than any other model in the Chaos range, has really divided opinion. Both the aesthetics and game-play aspects have been covered exhaustively online and as usual I’ve got nothing to add on the second point. As for the first I freely admit to being in the “fan” category. 40k, to my mind, has always been fantasy rather than science fiction. After the legions of daemons, the ramshackle Ork machines that only work because their creators never imagine that they won’t, the vampires, zombies and the werewolves I was never going to balk at a bio-mechanical dragon. Who am I to say “Yes, well, I was fine with the decaying God-Emperor, the heavily armoured giants riding on wolves and the need to kill your enemies by strapping a chainsaw the size of a block of flats to a huge walking church but a dragon? Steady on!”
In fact as soon as I saw it I wondered why it hadn’t seemed as though it was missing before.
Also, and it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this, the model is magnificent. Looking around on the internet there are some truly splendid re-imaginings of the beast out there but I decided to stick with the model that initially inspired me and built the kit as standard, without any major tweaks.
HeldrakeHeldrakeI won’t deny, painting her was a real chore, but I’m very pleased with the result. The combination of the many flat armour planes and complex ironwork meant there was no easy way to paint one without compromising the other. Glad I took the time over her though as she looks cracking swooping over the heads of my foot-slogging rank and file.
HeldrakeI armed Ragnalla, as I named her, with a baleflamer – not for any tactical or aesthetic reasons – but because first and foremost a dragon should breathe fire. Not that having her spit bullets wouldn’t be cool but fire is kind of their thing, you know?
HeldrakeUnusually amongst chaos warmachines the pilot of the Heldrake might actually want to be there. I know this point is debatable as the codex describes their anguish as they are subsumed into the core of their craft, the atrophied heart left behind as the machine achieves daemonic sentience. Fair enough but I can’t help but wonder why this might be. After all the pilot has given themselves to chaos, body and soul, and been rewarded with ever greater superiority in the air, a fusion of pilot and machine that grants them ultimate power as masters of the air. Why should the cruel joy of destroying enemy aircraft and panicked, fleeing troops on the ground be reserved for some daemonic entity whilst the pilot writes agonised by the exact destructive power it once craved? Why retreat at the final moment, horrified by the ascension it has worked towards for centuries, when it could embrace its power and revel in the terror of its foes? Internment in a Helbrute sarcophagus may be a living torture, whilst the malevolent spirits that guide the daemon engines must be lured inside and trapped. A Heldrake alone has the opportunity to ascend. It may never become a Daemon Prince but it need not become a Spawn either – instead finding a middle road to unimaginable power and near immortality.
HeldrakeSince I’ve been working on Kallamoon Kell, my Chaos Warlord, I’ve been considering making a “pre-chaos” version of him, showing him as he looked before his corruption. As I was writing this blog it occurred to me that it could be fun to do the same for Ragnalla. Before the rituals that saw her become the fleshy, foetal mind at the core of this iron beast I imagine her as an arrogant, even cruel, Imperial air-ace, used to getting whatever she wanted. Born into the nobility and selected before birth to join the Imperial Navy’s fighter pilots her combination of innate skill, insufferable self-assurance and decadent lifestyle would provide Kell with both the resources and the means to turn her to his cause. Not that I’m committing to anything, but it would definitely be interesting. We’ll just have to wait and see if I find the time and inspiration to make it a reality.


Into the Breach Part 2

For anyone out there who thinks I’ve lost my way and forgotten about my Chaos warband in all the recent Ork excitement never fear, progress is still being made. As proof here’s the first of my Chaos Breacher squad (which I showed as a work in progress back here), now fully painted and ready to storm through any trench-lines or boarding actions into the teeth of the guns.

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breacher-convert-or-die-6 As ever, any feedback is welcome.