Category Archives: The Chapel

Skull-Crab

I’ve been a bit in love with the skull-crabs from Black Earth ever since they were first revealed, even more so since Mark was kind enough to send me some. It’s odd then that it’s taken me so long to actually paint one of them but hey, I bet you’re not perfect either!

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He’s More Machine Now Than Dwarf

Whilst some of the other Chapel participants are forging ahead I’ll admit that I’m progressing a little more slowly. However I feel quite justified in this, my aim is to make every model as good as it can be and if that means I work at half my normal pace then so be it! Anyway, don’t blame me – blame everyone else for making models that look so damn good!

Excuses made, I have found the time to assemble a couple more models as potential henchmen for the warband. Something I wanted to emphasis was the loneliness and isolation of my Inquisitor and for a while I even toyed with the idea of using no human characters at all (not sure the witch counts as human anymore I’m afraid). However I don’t want to end up with something entirely one dimensional with everything hanging on the central figure. I also played with the idea of making lots of undead skeleton-servitors but that felt like over-egging my inquisitor’s relationship with death to the point of cliché.

My latest scheme is dwarf servitors based on the Kharadron Overlords; vat-bred creatures created solely to serve the Inquisitor in his duties. In this way, hopefully, they’ll emphasis both his remoteness from the human herd he shepherds (these aren’t friends he’s made along the road but acolytes purpose bred to serve him) and draw attention to him as the central character of the warband by being so much smaller than him (more on that below).

One issue with dwarves in space is that they often end up looking like squats and, although I’ve no issue with the hairy bikers in principle that’s not the aim here. Hopefully I’ve managed to steer around it successfully but of course do let me know if you think otherwise.

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At first I planned to only put the heavy vents and exhausts on one of them but the second one looks a little unbalanced without it, especially with the large gun. Here he is with the exhausts tacked on but, pending any input to the contrary from you the readers, I think it will probably become a permanent addition, alongside some cabling connecting it to the gun.

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Recently I read a little about court dwarfs. Essentially these were individuals with dwarfism whose task was to sit near to the king and make him look bigger and more impressive than he really was. Although some of them wielded a degree of political power and influence (Jeffery Hudson for example was, supposedly, a captain of horse during the English Civil War, in spite of being 61cm tall and property) most undoubtedly had fairly unpleasant lives (apparently throwing the dwarf from one guest to another was a popular activity at formal dinners – although one assumes this led to terrible indigestion for guests and dwarf alike). Anyway, beyond the fact that owning people is never pleasant, and turning them into objects of display simply because they’re short is pretty disgusting, there’s no denying the idea would fit neatly into the dystopian landscape of 40k. I can quite imagine planetary governors and senior inquisitors having dwarfs vat-bred in order to increase their own appearance of stature, probably whilst simultaneously persecuting people with natural dwarfism for being mutants. With this in mind here’s the two new dwarfs alongside their master (and yes, I’m aware he’s not progressed much in the last month but the next bit is really fiddly ok!)

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I’m going to be away most of next week (but someone will still be in the house so don’t even think about burgling me to steal my miniatures!) so progress will slow once again. In the meantime however I’m all ears for your thoughts and feedback.


An Agent Emerges

It’s all been a bit flat out this week, between one thing and another, but I did manage to find a little time to kitbash another model for the Chapel. For those of you thinking “What? What’s this Chapel when it’s at home?” or who thinks I’ve joined some obscure religious order, take a look over at HeresyOfUs and all will be revealed.

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As it stands I’m not entirely sure who or what he is, or how he fits into the warband. I built him as a test piece for the henchmen (for the uninitiated – the rank and file of the warband). However his dynamic pose gives him the look of a specialist agent, even an assassin.

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I’m also rather fond of the head I’ve given him. Originally I only used it as a placeholder to be replaced by a suitable servo skull but I’ve come to rather like it. The question is; does it make him look too dead? I like the idea of the henchmen of the Ordo Mors being somewhat liminal; are they dead men artificially resurrected or living humans skull-masked to make themselves seem more fearsome? As with a servoskull I want to keep it a little vague on how much is just bone and how much is organic ‘wetware’. Does this head make him look too much like a straightforward skeleton, or even a comic book character?

As usual your feedback is appreciated, but with so many question marks hanging over this model I’ll be reading your comments with particular interest. Have at it!


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.

Skeleton Angel

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.


The Chapel is calling…

So I got a couple of little parcels in the post today. One of them was full of the bits I need  for a very special upcoming project, whilst the other contained this mysterious message…message-from-the-chapel

Adventure awaits…