“To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed.”
– Roger Deakin; Wildwood: A Journey through Trees
For some of you The Chapel will need no introduction. For those new to it however The Chapel is the brainchild of Mark from Heresy Of Us and serves as the latest in what has become a growing – and extremely welcome – trend towards small-scale collaborative story-driven gaming events.
As part of the collaborative process Mark called on the participants to design one of the Ostium Guides. For those, like me, who didn’t know Ostium refers to “an opening or entry point into a vessel or the cavity of the body”. The Ostium Guides are those who will aid the adventurers arriving on the Chapel to gain entry to the interior – for a price. They are described as capricious, boastful and bardic creatures which “fight with the skill of a dancer” and dwell within the Albino Wood on the Chapel’s outer skin. Now if that doesn’t make you think of wood elves I don’t know what will!
First off the mark of the Chapel’s participants was ImperialRebelOrk who designed a pair of unearthly, psychopomp-like figures. With the first Guides built my own creative juices clicked into action. The original brief called for a single Guide to lead your band across the surface but I found myself unable to shake off the desire to create a husband and wife team. I also wanted something more rooted in the mundane, something earthy and autumnal.
Inspired by IRO I wanted to give my Guides long walking staffs, helping to connect them to these other, very different Guides, and to emphasis their druidic, roving nature as creatures of the xenotopic places, the byways, holloways, pilgrimage routes and hidden roads that criss-cross the skin of any world. The instrument played by the male Guide helps reflect their whimsical, musical nature and one can imagine their haunting music hanging amongst the pale trees as the walk the ghost-paths of their forest home. These are creatures attuned to the land, circulating like the air upon the planet’s surface, through the living bones of its mountains and the joyful currents of its rivers. They carry all they need upon their backs and in their hearts; a blanket to sleep under, a cloak to wrap themselves in against the rain, music and the joy of the winding road beneath their feet.
To avoid them looking too much like Wood Elves in space, with the accompanying connotations of Eldar Exodites, I used Tau heads with the slit noses carefully greenstuffed over. To me one of the key things with these characters was ensuring that they continued to look human, albeit abhuman, and that they fit into the 40k aesthetic. This latter point is harder than it first appears, 40k is defined by its towering hives and blasted wastelands and introducing creatures of the forest without them looking tacked on was challenging but I feel I got there in the end.
As usual your feedback is welcome!