Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Year of the Rat – March

Right, March is almost over (where does the time go right?) and it’s time to take a look at the progress my Skaven have made over the last month. For those of you who’re new to this and are wondering why I’m going on about the Year of the Rat when it is very clearly the Year of the Rooster, back at New Year I pledged to add something new to my Skaven collection every month of 2017 – even if it was only a single clan rat. Well, January and February didn’t see huge amounts of progress but with March I actually broke a fair bit of ground and added an impressive (for me) eight clan rats to the ranks.

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What’s more I also got started on my elite squad of Stormvermin. If I’m honest I found these two a right hassle to paint; either there was some grime on them when I basecoated them or the can of paint wasn’t properly mixed (either way entirely my fault of course). Whatever the cause the paint refused to behave properly and painting them turned into a slog which I endured with the heroic determination that normal people reserve for climbing Everest or trekking to the poles. On the plus side I got through it without losing any fingers to frostbite, although of course I’m not going to be impressing anyone in bars with my exploits either.

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Witch In Progress

For all that his duties bring him into regular contact with the dead, Inquisitor Morix has no more capacity to hear or understand them than the regular Imperial citizenry. Indeed it is this that has allowed him to flourish within the order, for those who hear the cries of the dead are soon driven mad by them. Only the most vocal of sprits can trouble his sleep and none but the most violent of poltergeists disturbs him as he goes about his duties. Nonetheless there is a need, from time to time, to make contact with lesser spirits, to track them as they travel the immaterial passages of their world and to interrogate those who’s knowledge is of value to the Imperium.

Within his retinue the witch Emilia fulfils this role, hunting out the lurking dead with a genehound’s tenacity and – when called upon – employing an elemental ferocity in the Inquisitor’s defence. Yet for all her apparent loyalty there are those who question Morix’s decision in bringing her into his service. Her skills are of the wild type, feral and self-taught, and she bears no official sanction. Some say she is already lost, her mind corroded by the warp, a space within her soul hollowed out just enough for some foul presence to slip in and wear her skin.

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Here we go then, the second member of my Chapel warband – the psyker. As you can see there’s still a bit of greenstuff to finish off, particularly on the back of the head and in the armpit. Once again please treat her as a work in progress but do get your feedback in, I’m keen to make this warband look as good as possible so don’t try to spare my feelings if you see room for improvement.

Of course, I also have to wonder what she’d make of encountering another necromancer in the winding halls of the Chapel…


Inquisitor Morix – The Beginning

Inquisitor Morix has devoted a lifetime to his Ordo’s cause and the weight of his years is an iron chain upon his neck. The whispers that reach him from his superiors on Terra tell of a terrible darkness gathering; of the dead going unburied across a thousand systems, of tomb worlds lost to the ruinous forces of the alien, of a terrible act of necromancy that seeks to raise a Primarch from his Emperor-given rest. His duty, however, lies elsewhere. Spirits are abroad within the occluded world of the Chapel, making havoc where there should be order. A ghost has no place spreading mayhem or disturbing the work of the living. The reward for a lifetime of righteous toil is the Emperor’s Peace – and those who reject such a boon must be purged!

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Right, here we are at last – a WIP model of Inquisitor Morix of the Ordo Mors, preparing himself for his journey to the Chapel. He’s still just tacked together at the moment, the big gaps under his armpits will need filled and there’s still some other greenstuff work to do, plus various inquisitorial widgets and flourishes to add. As ever however feedback is really appreciated, I want this warband to look the best it can so if you have any thoughts or suggestions I want to hear them. Do keep in mind though that some bits are still only tacked on (so for example in some of the pictures the head sits further back than intended – minor tweaks like this will be fixed as he’s finally stuck together).

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I toyed with the idea of giving him a scythe but discarded it as it seemed a little clichéd (just because Death is often portrayed wielding farming implements doesn’t mean everyone has to join in). Instead I thought an axe served to reinforce the idea that he is an executioner, dispelling judgment upon those who disrupt the Emperor’s peace regardless of whether they are living or dead. Death does not unburden the guilty!

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For the model itself I was keen to have him clad in power-armour, after all what venerable inquisitor wouldn’t want the best that money (or raw authority) can buy when it comes to protecting himself on the battlefield. On the other hand I didn’t want him to read too much as a space marine; partly for aesthetic reasons and partly on the assumption that their armour relies on all kinds of internal modifications linked to all the astartes organs, and simply wouldn’t work for an unmodified human.

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Thanks to Black Earth for the base. Now get that feedback off your chest and let’s see if we can improve him!


Ghosts of the Chapel

By the close of the 41st Millennium the influence and imagery of death has pervaded to every level of Imperial society. Whole worlds are given over to vast mortuaries and every family on every planet, from spire-top to sump, has lost sons and daughters to war. Even the immortal God Emperor himself is said to now be more corpse than man.

Yet death is a dangerous mistress, and should not be embraced or challenged lightly. Trade in the bones of martyrs sees the glorious dead robbed of their Emperor-given rest. Disreputable physicians challenge the edicts of the Genetors by pulling corpses from fresh graves to conduct their unsanctioned experiments. Maddened cults seek to hasten the end, uniting themselves with the sleeping Emperor through cataclysmic acts of destruction, or worshipping ancient, forbidden forces of entropy and despair. In the deepest shadows lurk those who would use a saint’s bones for the most depraved and unholy purposes of all, for the Chaos gods offer great power to those who can tempt them with a worthy sacrifice.

It is through these gloomy depths that the inquisitors of the Ordo Mors must walk. Grim and morbid to the last man their charge is the protection of the Imperium’s glorious dead from the depredations of the rapacious living.

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So, after number false starts, my warband for the Chapel has started to gain traction. For those unfamiliar with the Chapel it’s a story-driven collaborative project, spearheaded by Mark of HeresyOfUs so head over there to get the latest. Over the last couple of months I’ve started and discarded a number of different possible projects from scrap harvesting Cult Mechanicus outcasts to knightly crusaders to scheming Tzeentchian saboteurs. None, however, quite stuck so I decided to take things back to basics. The heart of Inq28 and its various feral children will always be the Inquisition and so that is where I headed. Rather than take on one of the better known branches however I decided to cut my own path, partly so I could stretch my wings creatively and partly so I didn’t have to worry about finding myself in the shadow of anyone who’d tackled the Ordo previously.

Having discounted the obvious choices from Inquisitorial factions I started to think about what other areas of the Imperium would merit a dedicated branch of the Inquistion, rather than just being something that the Arbites could deal with. Enter the Ordo Mors, the Inquisitors dedicated to the protection of the Imperial dead.

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Even a quick look through a 40k codex or rulebook reveals the Imperium’s all pervasive obsession with death. Today, in the west, the vast majority of deaths occur in hospital. Our population ages, child mortality reduces and great wars do not swallow up whole generations, for now. For most of us who can afford to enjoy Games Workshops products and who have the luxury of time to play with their weird and grubby worlds they create, death is more of an abstract, less a constant companion. That is not to say that death has been eradicated, far from it, or that the population has become so psychotically nihilistic that we no longer fear it, simply that we have been afforded the luxury of distance. Indeed whilst meat-grinder wars exert a powerful, and understandable, fear they also provide the opportunity for lots of bold talk about heroism, honour, patriotism and other things which tend to lose meaning quickly as one lies in a trench trying to hold one’s guts in. However at least those things provide a context through which we can relate to the idea of wholesale slaughter. Not so nuclear armageddon, which is utterly impersonal and dehumanising, and doesn’t even offer the opportunity to write maudlin poetry. There’s no standing in a shield wall with your brothers for us, no thunderous charges of brightly armour knights, not even the industrial cruelty of the trenches. If you’re looking for glory and comradeship in a nuclear war you’d better fit it in quick because most of your time will be spent sitting under your kitchen table spitting your lungs out.

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In such circumstances who can blame us, the people of the west, for turning our faces to the wall, and pretending it’ll be all right. We don’t think about death in the way that we used to because it’s either too big and horrifying to face, or because it’s too unlikely. After all no-one is really going to unleash nuclear war are they? And with modern medicine I’ll probably keep living whilst scientific breakthroughs keep extending the human lifespan. Of course such discoveries will probably be the property of the rich to begin with but never mind eh, that’ll be me too soon. After all the American Dream has spread itself around like the filthy disease it is and so, as a temporarily disenfranchised billionaire, I’ll soon be able to afford it. After all death and taxes need not be inevitable, and the very rich have given avoiding both a good go. Just so long as I don’t end up getting killed whilst taking a selfie or crushed to death by a vending machine in the meantime that is…

Historically however death was much more part of the public consciousness. Ordinary people devoted their whole lives to facing the hereafter, often at the expense of their own biological imperatives or the wellbeing of their social peers. Elaborate rituals were called upon to appease angry gods. Victorian women had a strict dress code that allowed one to tell, at a glance, not only that they were mourning but how long it had been since the loved one had died. Walk around an old cemetery and you’ll see all kinds of elaborate statues fetishizing death, grief and mourning. Likewise the art of 40k reveals death to be everywhere, both on the battlefield and in the ritualistic trappings of society. It seemed only natural, then, that a culture so obsessed with death would employ inquisitors whose sole focus was this area.

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One of the things that has struck me most about the Chapel project so far is the profusion of ghosts Mark has produced. From the terrifying lash-banshee to the almost-innocuous wisps, the Chapel is a place haunted by a profusion of spirits. The sort of place then that an Inquisitor of the Ordo Mors would inevitably be drawn for the Imperium is a place of crushing order and no line is as inviolate as that which marks the boundary between the living and the dead.

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The insufferably arrogant book ghoul can provide travellers with priceless information, it’s just a shame he’s so condescending.

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The woeful Lady Marisa who’s haunting undoubtedly obstructs the orderly working of the Imperium!

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The gruesome and terrifying revenant boy – for those who weren’t planning on sleeping tonight anyway…

Working on this project also got me thinking about the question of ghosts in the 41st Millennium. Most other fantasy archetypes have been ported across to 40k, making it far more a setting of “fantasy in space” than the science fiction it is sometimes purported to be. The orcs and elves were transferred across from one setting to another almost exactly and once upon a time there were dwarves as well (before the monstrous fangs of IP-control closed over them and the tyranids of legalese gobbled them up). Other crossovers were a little more subtle; vampires became Blood Angels, werewolves became Space Wolves and the trudging hordes of the undead were reinvented as Necrons. Ghosts however don’t get a look in, barring a couple of notable exceptions. Sanguinius, or possibly his loyal bodyguard Azkaellon, may be haunting the Blood Angels in the form of the Sanguinor and the Legion of the Damned may be the ghosts of dead space marines (or equally they may not). The Eldar dead get to enjoy a partial existence in the wraithbone infinity circuits of their craftworlds with occasional ventures out to pilot various war-machines and hang out with the newborn god of the dead Ynnead. For the citizens of the Imperium however it seems to be a fairly uncomplicated process; you live, you die, your soul is devoured by daemons and everyone you knew believes you’ve been taken into the God Emperor’s grace until it’s their turn to die and be feasted upon in turn.

It doesn’t leave a lot of room for ghosts, yet the above examples show that the ground work has been laid. Mark’s excellent ghosts fit into the 40k universe seamlessly but I liked the idea of the restless dead being found far beyond the boundaries of the Chapel itself, whilst a whole Inquisitorial Ordo works in the shadows, banishing them and covering up their existence.

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Imagine yourself as an Imperial citizen finding yourself, at the moment of your death, cast from your mortal flesh through the veil of reality and into a sea of hungry daemons. Most would be consumed instantly but a few would attempt to dart back, preferring a liminal existence in the material universe than the eternal torment that waits for them beyond. Knowing what awaited it such a creature would resist banishment with truly desperate viciousness. Even if only a tiny number were able to return in this way of humanity’s teeming billions over ten long millennia the cumulative number of unquiet spirits could present a serious problem for the orderly Imperium.

This however would be nothing compared to the panic if word got out of what awaits on the other side. If word was to spread of the fate that truly awaited one upon death the scale of the chaos that ensued would bring the Imperium tumbling down overnight. Nihilistic dread would bring all work to a halt, armies would not march for fear of death, no-one would breed lest they pass on their curse to future generations, and the demand for rejuvenates and other life extending technologies would see even the most docile rabid with desperation. Meanwhile Chaos cults would proliferate, for only through the – still near unobtainable – boon of princedom could one hope to endure within the Sea of Souls.

Those who are aware of this threat to humanity know it dwarfs the combined might of every xenos species combined. For the Imperium to endure knowledge of what awaits must be suppressed – at all costs and by any means.

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Of course this is only a philosophical ramble and may not, if given full consideration, fit into the established cannon of the world. However there is another, very compelling, reason for the Imperium to want any ghosts silenced. The cornerstone of Imperial culture is the idea that the past was glorious. Nostalgia for the magnificent past is everywhere. The present may be grim and dark but it is a temporary hardship that must be overcome if we are to return to the glory days of history. I’ll leave it to you to decide if this reminds you of any current real-world political situations but it certainly makes me think of one or two… Of course what we don’t want is any spirits running around telling people that the past was actually pretty bleak and horrible as well and ruining all our efforts at effective propaganda.

Finally any sensible Inquisitor encountering a ghostly spirit should start by asking themselves, is this really a daemon? Those who cross the veil do not return untouched and, once possessed, an individual can wreak untold havoc before they are banished. Best to smite first and ask questions later.

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At this point it would probably be appropriate to show you a miniature or two but of course that would involve having something to show. Fear not however, tonight – all being well – I’ll finish assembling my inquisitor and we’ll be able to get our first look at the man who goes in search of the Chapel’s restless dead.

All photographs used are mine, barring those of the ghosts which – like the spirits themselves – are the work of HeresyOfUs.


Any Spare Change – Part 6

Some might say that I don’t really need to be building more Tzeentchian sorcerers. They might even go so far as to suggest that  I’ve got enough hanging around the place as it is and actually painting some of them would be time well spent. Naturally I reject those claims out of hand!

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Greenskin Wars

Just before I took off on my holidays I received a parcel. Normally I don’t do ‘unboxings’ and I try to avoid banging on about projects I know I won’t be able to start for a few months. This time however I’m going to break with that because time spent showcasing Greenskin Wars is, in my opinion, time well spent.

For those of you unfamiliar with Greenskin Wars the range incorporates the old Crooked Claw models (good news for those like me who skipped blithely through life, unaware that Crooked Claw even existed until suddenly it didn’t) alongside a range of new models courtesy of “Goblin Master” Kev Adams* and spearheaded by Diego Serrate.

*Apparently he thinks being called “Goblin Master” is a bit silly, but everyone does it anyway, Well if it bothers him he shouldn’t make such amazing looking goblins should he?

Late last summer a kickstarter campaign was used to fund the range, sculpt the new models and so forth, although those who missed it should keep an eye on the Knightmare Miniatures store, soon to be home to the range, as well as various Chaotic creatures from the astonishing Pantheon of Chaos range and various Rogue Trader-esque Space Raiders. Those of you who’re on facepuke (and sadly, nowadays, who isn’t?) would also be well advised to join the Greenskin Wars group to keep up with the latest developments.

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I’ll confess, I’ve always loved the greenskins. They’re not, as such, an evil race like Chaos, the Undead or the Skaven – although undoubtedly it must feel like that when they’re burning down your village. Rather they’re mischievous, always up for some rough-housing or spectacularly destructive practical humour, squabbling amongst themselves, needing to be kicked into line and living by the maxim “to have a good time, all the time” even if that ends up being horribly violent for everyone else. As Warhammer races go they’ve undoubtedly evolved the furthest from fantasy’s roots. Tolkien would recognise the elves of Ulthuan but Sauron would have been lucky to get out of Mordor if his armies had been made up of the squabbling goblins we know and love today. (Digging back a little further of course a norseman wouldn’t have recognised either of them, but that’s a blog for another day). Likewise 40k may have pretensions of grandeur, as a great, decaying dystopia, but the Orks still go roaring through the middle of it on their motorbikes, scattering the serious-faced eldar and space marines, and making fart jokes in front of all the grandiose fall-of-empire sobriety.

What’s more we let them get away with. No matter one’s attachment to the funereal grim darkness of the far future or the grubby madness of the Old World everyone cracks a smile at the arrival of a thuggish ork or a scheming goblin. Perhaps it’s because they’re all, at heart, naughty schoolboys, and most of us discovered them when we too were naughty schoolboys. In the greenskins we recognise ourselves as we would like to be; carefree and burning with the joy of life, not burdened by duty and responsibility like a Space Marine, not bravely facing the yawning grave like the Eldar, but racing through life laughing, never worrying about hardship or want and when we go, going out with a bang that leaves our mates’ ears ringing for a week.

Until recently however I have pretended to myself that I am above such things as fantasy greenskins. My love of Orks in 40k means I’ve tended to focus all my greenskin tendencies in that direction. The orcs and goblins of the fantasy realms would only serve to dilute my creative energy, divide my ideas and distract me from those projects I should be focussing on. How foolish of me – didn’t I see that goblins thrive on distraction and that nothing possesses more energy and (generally destructive) creativity?

It was inevitable, then, that the odd model would start to sneak in. This one was on sale, this one was a good deal, someone was practically giving this one away, and thus they gathered on the edge of my painting desk, pushing and shoving and flicking snot at the stern Chaos space marines who continued to get all the attention. Somehow, whilst I continued to deny to myself that I was even buying them, a sizeable army accumulated. Greenskin Wars has been the final straw, pushing me over the edge and forcing me to finally face the goblin horde, to stand tall and proudly say “I love goblins and I’m not afraid to admit it!” Now I just need to paint them all…

In the meantime though let’s take a look at what actually arrived in that box of exciting metal figures!

First of all we have this raucous band of feral goblins.

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This feral goblin standard-bearer prepares to annoy PETA…

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Whilst his impish-looking mate isn’t much better, he’s wearing a bat!

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As goblins go some of them are quite large, although that’s understandable given the level of detail that’s been packed onto them. I also tend to assume that goblins, and orcs, are all different sizes anyway so it doesn’t particularly matter. Here’s the chief of the feral goblins posing with a GW night goblin and a WIP 40k ork by way of a size comparison.

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As well as the band of feral goblins I also got myself this catapult, originally sculpted for the Crooked Claw range. I’ve not assembled it yet so you’ll have to make do with this picture of the crew, plus a stock image of the catapult itself.

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As usual with kickstarters there were a few ‘bonus’ models to sweeten the deal for supporters, including this (decided non-greenskin) clothes-phobic Conan look-alike.

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On a more goblin-esque note we have this hobgoblin, who’ll probably be serving as taskmaster to the catapult crew.Greenskin Wars Convert Or Die (5)

Again he’s a rather big lad, although as the taskmasters are usually orcs that’s actually quite fitting. The hobgoblin was included in the original kickstarter campaign as a stretch goal which, if achieved (and clearly it was!) would unlock a whole new hobgoblin faction and previews shown over on the facebook group show this to be well underway.

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However my favourite thing has to be these mushrooms. I’ve always liked the mushroom gardening aesthetic of the goblins, particularly the night goblins, and these giant ‘shrooms bring that to the collection with aplomb.

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That’s not all though, we also have these smaller mushrooms, perfect for planting amongst the ranks of the goblins.

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Now I know I said I wouldn’t be doing anything with these for a couple of months, and I won’t – but I couldn’t resist digging around in the bits box and assembling a couple of additional goblins to join the forthcoming mob.

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Now I just need to get some of my other projects finished and I’ll be ready to tackle this rascally green mob. That’s if they don’t steal the brushes and fart in the paint in the meantime…


In The Service of the Gods – Part 10

…Because I haven’t painted any chaos space marines in so long I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms. And because sometimes in life you’ll find yourself painting a Chaos marine, regardless of what you were planning to do, and my advice is to run with it. After all, the loyalists have a primarch now so a little extra help in tearing down the Imperium is more than welcome! A very quick and dirty paintjob but a nice little change of pace all the same.

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